Systems

I'm about to make some enemies, but I firmly believe console-sized gaming PCs like the Alienware X51 and Falcon Northwest Tiki are poised to assimilate their behemoth desktop competitors, zap them with shrink rays, and usher in powerful 4K gaming in diminutive mini-ITX packages. We're not quite there, but today Alienware has abducted the former incarnation of its X51 PC and replaced it with a revised system that represents one confident leap in that direction. When last the Alienware X51 descended upon HotHardware, it was clearly designed to take on game consoles like the Xbox 360, right... Read more...
If your kiddos are griping about how soon they start back to school (or, if you are heading that way yourself, begrudgingly), it's probably high time you took inventory. Is that aging netbook really going to get you through another semester? Is that Gingerbread handset up to the task of piloting you through yet another straight-A year? Take solace, a tech refresh or complete makeover can be rather refreshing.Back to school season is in full swing, and we're here to offer up the best of the best in a few key categories. If you're shopping for phones, desktops, laptops, or accessories, we've got... Read more...
When Xotic PC asked us to be judge and jury of its Executioner gaming system, we thought to ourselves, "this better be one helluva setup to warrant its killer moniker," and spoiler alert, it is. We'll get to the benchmarks and other particulars in due time, but there's more to this $6,500 PC than raw performance alone. Yes, we said $6,500, which is the rounded up cost of the version Xotic PC sent us. When shopping an Executioner, you begin by picking one of four baseline setups dubbed Stages 1-4. Ours is a Stage 4 configuration that starts at just shy of $5,100, though with the custom upgrades... Read more...
In addition to ushering in a tidal wave of new notebooks and mobile devices, Intel’s Broadwell microarchitecture has also found its way into a plethora of recently introduced small form factor systems. We have already taken a look at a couple of them, like the excellent Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK and Gigabyte Brix S BXi7H-5500.The low-power characteristics of Broadwell simply make it well suited to the tight spaces and constrained thermal envelopes of small form factor systems. But another side benefit of Broadwell is that it also allows manufacturers to cram higher performing parts into the same (or... Read more...
We first got an official look at the Intel Compute Stick earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In one of those “But wait! There’s more!” kind of moments common at trade shows, one of the good folks at Intel that was previously showing off a few upcoming NUC systems pulled a tiny device from his shirt pocket and revealed the diminutive Compute Stick. If you’re unfamiliar with the Intel Compute Stick, it’s essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system—with memory, storage, and an OS--crammed into a form factor not much... Read more...
Had things gone to plan, Steam Machines would be a shipping product by now. However, Valve threw a wrench into the works when it decided that more time was needed to tweak its custom Linux-based Steam OS and fine tune the platform's accompanying Steam Controller. That decision left several partnering OEMs and boutique system builders in limbo, as they had already put in the necessary R&D to develop living room boxes that would serve as official Steam Machines. Hence a new category was born -- the PC gaming console. Systems like the Syber Vapor are full-fledged PCs stuffed inside console-sized... Read more...
Gigabyte's Brix line-up of small form factor systems is the company’s answer to the teeny, tiny NUC from Intel. These ridiculously small PCs pack all the power of a laptop, or a budget desktop, into a box small enough to fit in your palm. These wee PCs are marketed to non-gamers and people who need a basic, no-nonsense PC with a tiny footprint. Think people who need a PC for a kiosk or for basic, day to day computing. These little brick PCs are basically made to mount behind a monitor, and use mobile parts and solid-state components to keep the noise and heat to a minimum. One big difference between... Read more...
Intel just wrapped up an event at a location adjacent to the Game Developers Conference where the company talked about its vision for the future of gaming, and how Intel plans to further support the industry. Intel discussed some updates to its 5th Gen Core processor line-up, Intel graphics developments, the Intel Hardware SDK, and its various game developer tools. Some walk-on guest were also brought out to discuss a few new partnership announcements and programs designed to bring more diversity to gaming and the game industry.Pete Baker, Vice President in Intel’s Software and Services Group opened... Read more...
NVIDIA just wrapped up an event in San Francisco, where the Game Developers Conference (GDC) is currently underway. The company unveiled a new Android TV streamer, game console, and supercomputer as NVIDIA’s Jen Hsun Huang calls it, all wrapped up in a single, ultra-slim device—the new NVIDIA SHIELD. The NVIDIA SHIELD Console And Wireless SHIELD Controller   In the lead-up to tonight’s event, an invitation from NVIDIA’s CEO was sent out with the title “Made To Game”, claiming that the product that would be shown was “more than 5 years in the making” and that it would “redefine the future of... Read more...
As Intel (and other chip makers) have been able to shrink its processors, integrate more features, and reduce power requirements over the years, manufacturers have been able to fit them into smaller and smaller form factors. That means notebooks and tablets have gotten thinner, lighter, faster and more portable over the years, of course, but it also means that desktop systems no longer need to be big boxes crammed with numerous components and cooling hardware. In some ways, Intel’s NUC series of products are the epitome of this dynamic. Intel’s NUC systems are ultra-small form factor systems that... Read more...
All in one systems are all about balance.  Attempting to cram an entire PC’s worth of components into the back of what amounts to a slightly wider-than-normal display can be an iffy proposition. Pare down the specifications too much and you wind up with a limp machine that’s obsolete by the time you get it. Jam in too many high-performance components and the price skyrockets to a point that you wonder if a different form factor might have been a better option, not to mention the additional thermal and acoustic concerns. Lenovo’s B Series all in one systems are decidedly mid-range in both... Read more...
Alienware's new Area 51 gaming desktop PC arrived late last year and it certainly turned heads, including ours, due to its somewhat radical design. Sure, we've seen some wild chassis designs out of Dell's Alienware gaming PC division in the past, but their new, redesigned Area 51 machine really broke the mold. In fact, if you're stuck on the old gray or black box design of most legacy systems, the "Triad" chassis of the new Area 51 may be too much of a departure for you to wrap your head around. We think, with a little investigation into the mechanical engineering and simple physics of the... Read more...
Intel is readying its latest generation of NUC small form factor systems, based on the company’s recently-released Broadwell-U processors. We got our hands on a Core i5-powered version dubbed the NUC5i5RYK. To be more specific, this little machine is packing a Core i5-5250U processor with on-die Intel HD 6000 series graphics. The system also sports built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, M.2 SSD support, and a host of other features. We’re still readying our full review, but in the meantime we thought you’d like to take a peek at the diminutive Intel NUC5i5RYK to get a sense... Read more...
Valve’s Steam Machine was all the rage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, but as we enter 2015, the SteamOS gaming platform (and Valve’s tantalizing Steam Controller) are still works in progress. SteamOS hasn’t been written off, but Dell, which was one of the first PC makers to build a custom console-sized system for SteamOS, isn’t waiting around. Its Alienware gaming brand launched the Alienware Alpha, which is meant to be your next (or your first) living room gaming PC. The Alienware Alpha plugs the holes left by Valve with Microsoft hardware and software and a simple 10-ft UI developed in house.... Read more...
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