Components

We have another premium Z170-based motherboard on the test bench today, by way of MSI. The MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK motherboard is the company’s top end gaming board for use with Intel 6th Generation Skylake-based Core series processors. The MSI Z170A Gaming M9 is packed with a host of premium features aimed at improving and enhancing your experience. Like most gaming enthusiast boards, this one also commands top dollar, but still manages to ring in $100 shy of the wallet-busting ASUS Z170 ROG Maximus VIII we previously reviewed. Some of the more notable features on this motherboard include a built-in... Read more...
Micron announced its 9100 Series NVMe enterprise-class solid state drive back in April. The drives come in multiple flavors and form factors, with the Micron 9100 PRO series targeting read-centric environments, while the 9100 MAX targets mixed-use cases. Capacities for the drives in the Micron 9100 series range from 800GB on up to 3.2TB, though all of the drives are outfitted with similar controllers and NAND.Although news of the drives has been circulating for a couple of months now, it was just recently that we got our hands on one for some in-house testing. We’ve been experimenting with a Micron... Read more...
Fans of the original Mirror's Edge will be happy to hear that a follow-up title is in the works, dubbed Mirror's Edge Catalyst. ME Catalyst revisits the dystopian world of the original game with a fresh new story that expands on the origins of protagonist Faith Connors. The beta test just wrapped up last week. It offered a brief window into the look and feel of ME Catalyst, which is the unofficial reboot of the original 2008 parkour adventure from developer EA DICE. Back then, while known primarily for their success with the Battlefield franchise, EA DICE gambled on something completely new with... Read more...
The upgrade cycle begins, with Microsoft’s latest operating system--the highly anticipated Windows 10--rolling out over Windows Update for free, for users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. For those that are ready to take the plunge over the weekend, there are some things to note. While this guide is by no means exhaustive, there are some useful reminders here as well as some potential pitfalls that may rear their ugly head during the upgrade process. So far, Microsoft has been rolling out the upgrade in waves and stages. If you are not one of the ‘lucky’ ones to be in the first wave, you can take... Read more...
PC enthusiasts tend to spend a lot of time sitting in front of their systems. We spend hundreds of dollars on monitors, graphics cards, and processors without a second thought, to ensure the best experience we can afford. So, why do so many of us sit ourselves down in inexpensive and inadequate thrones for extended computing and gaming sessions?If your body is your temple, does it not deserve the finest in enthusiast seating? There are two prominent companies crafting these enthusiast chairs, DXRacer and Maxnomic, though there are a plethora of smaller players as well.  DXRacer was a pioneer... Read more...
When NVIDIA launched the powerful GTX 980 and 970 last month, it was obvious that these cards would be coming to mobile sooner rather than later. The significant leap forward that Maxwell offers in performance-per-watt means that these GPUs would shine in mobile contexts -- maybe even more than in desktop. The mobile Maxwell die Today, NVIDIA is putting paid to that hypothesis with two new mobile GPUs -- the GeForce GTX 970M and 980M. Both cards are based on Maxwell's 28nm architecture, and both are trimmed slightly from the full desktop implementation. The GeForce GTX 980M is a 1536-core chip... Read more...
Samsung made some waves earlier this year with the introduction of its 850 Pro family of solid state drives and the first commercial use of 3D stacked NAND Flash memory. Micron is striking back today with a lower manufacturing process geometry in conventional NAND, however, and a new Flash technology it claims, will accelerate performance more effectively than other competing solutions. The new Micron M600 family of solid state drives will launch at capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB across multiple form factors. Conventional 2.5” SATA drives, mSATA, and the PCIe-capable M.2 platform... Read more...
If your any kind of a computing enthusiast, you're quite familiar with EVGA, even if you haven't bought and of their hardware. From power supplies to motherboards and graphics cards, the company has established a solid reputation for producing high-quality, enthusiast equipment. EVGA recently sent over one of their new Torq X10 gaming mice -- does this new entrant into the crowded high-end mouse market deserve your gaming dollar? Let's take a look. Of Mice and Markets: Ask ten gamers if a high-end mouse is important for gaming and you'll likely hear universal agreement. Ask them to name the... Read more...
When we reviewed the Maingear Epic Rush a few months ago, we found its performance jaw-dropping, and thus we expected the same out of its sibling, the Maingear Rush. However, these are different systems with different configurations on board. For instance, they have different CPUs--the Rush we're testing today has a newer, more powerful GPU configuration, and Maingear approached storage on the two quite differently as well. What both systems definitely do share is high performance and impeccable build quality. The Maingear Rush is a top-shelf system with killer components; there... Read more...
Despite being limited by the capabilities of the SATA interface, many solid state drive manufacturers continue to innovate and introduce new products that improve on previous generation products. For example, Micron recently released its M550 series of drives, which was an evolution of the previously released M500 series, but built around newer, 20nm NAND flash memory and featuring enhanced/updated firmware. The M550 proved to be an excellent all around performer, outpacing many competing products in a number of tests, but again, operating within the limitations of its SATA interface. Today, Micron... Read more...
Although the market for them is relatively small, we love to check out elaborate, no-holds-barred gaming PCs from time to time--you know, the kind of system that costs about the same amount as a serviceable used car. As fun as it is to check out an ultra high-end gaming rig, we also do it to gauge the user experience and to see just how much better it is (or isn't) versus a mainstream PC. But how great is the experience, really?  The answer needs to be darn near perfection, because – let’s face it – a midrange gaming desktop is going to give you a... Read more...
We’ve already had a taste of what ASUS and Gigabyte have to offer in the way of Z87 motherboards, and now it’s time to give MSI’s lineup a spin. MSI’s offering of Z87 motherboards has essentially three tiers: the “POWER” series (which includes four XPOWER and MPOWER boards), a trio of gaming boards, and five mainstream boards. The company sent us a motherboard from each area to put through their paces. The Z87 chipset goes hand-in-hand with Intel’s 4th-generation Haswell processors, and we outfitted the three MSI boards--the tiny Z87I, the Z87-G45 Gamer,... Read more...
For Windows users of all kinds, the Windows "Blue" 8.1 update has been long-awaited. Those who've been using the base OS since launch have no doubt been anticipating some of the enhancements that are coming, while many others have been waiting patiently to see if the update manages to right enough wrongs to help persuade them to make the move. Has Microsoft succeeded in either of these cases? That's what we hope to find out. At the moment, Windows 8.1 is available only as a preview, and if you are looking to give it a try, there are a couple of things to be aware of. The most important is... Read more...
Just before the mid-range AMD Radeon HD 7790 hit store shelves in early April, NVIDIA countered with the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST. NVIDIA’s move also involved pricing changes that were good for mid-range card shoppers, but what matters most is that the card NVIDIA managed to launch coincident with the Radeon HD 7790’s launch, offers better performance in most of our benchmarks. With the dust settling, all that’s left now is for the factory-overclocked cards to battle it out. Asus and Sapphire have already taken a crack with their overclocked Radeon HD 7790s. Those cards definitely... Read more...
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