Desktops

It’s been quite some time since we last looked at an all-in-one PC. Although there is clearly a niche market for AiOs, the product segment has always kept a consistent rythm in all facets of computing - consumer, enterprise and SMB. These types of systems appeal to style-conscious users and businesses that need computing utility with good looks, that blends in and stays out of the way. And though many are not powerhouses, a few do catch our enthusiast eye, and one of those few is the Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IC, which Asus is billing as “The pinnacle of Windows all-in-one PCs.”That may be a stretch... Read more...
It's hard to believe this year is nearly over. It feels as if our holiday gift guides are being assembled at an ever more rapid pace. Perhaps that has to do with the non-stop innovation in the tech sector, and our insatiable desire for ever-advancing product development. Each year, the leaps in processing power and graphics performance, in addition to the miniaturization and integration of advanced technologies, seems to constantly push the envelope, which means that there are almost always plenty of suitable replacements for our favorite gadgets and gizmos. And if you're on the hunt for gifts... Read more...
What does your desktop PC say about you? Is your system hiding by your feet and used only for serious business? Is it sitting on the corner of your desk with its window facing the wall because it’s just easier to reach its inputs that way? Or is taking up a third of your workspace with LEDs blazing, screaming “Fire me up!"? If your system falls into the latter category, or better yet, you'd like to have a system in the latter group, you’re the target audience for CyberPower’s new Trinity. Many system builders give lip service to balancing style and performance, but the Trinity’s chassis demands... Read more...
The last time we looked at Dell's Alienware X51 series of console-sized gaming PCs was back in mid-2013. Back then we were working with Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core Series processors and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs based on their Kepler graphics core. Our man Paul, frankly, was spouting off a bit wildly about aliens serving humans for dinner and, well, let's just say it made for interesting reading. But that was so 2013, and like anything in life, seasons change and architectures evolve. Paul is still nuttier than a fruit cake but that's a different story all together, so we'll... 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...
Dell's Alienware division has a knack for making a splash with PC system design, whether it's with their big, bad unapologetic notebooks, unique X51 small form-factor PCs, or their no-holds-barred Area-51 killer gaming rigs. In fact, for some folks, Alienware designs can be an either "you love it or hate it" affair. Full disclosure: personally, we tend to be cut from the former affectionate group of performance enthusiasts that generally favor Alienware's outside-the-box design efforts -- and oh boy, Alienware's recent redesign of the Area-51 is way outside the box.   In fact, it's not... 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...
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...
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...
We have seen a rapid influx of entry-level to enthusiast-class gaming systems and hardware over the last few months. The Maingear Rush we recently evaluated targets the most demanding PC users with its twin AMD Radeon R9 295X2 (8GB DDR5) video cards, killer Intel i7-4960X processor and fast storage. Weighing in at a hefty $8,393 as configured though, the Maingear Rush might offer a ton of performance, but you've got to pay to play. Not everyone can afford a Lamborghini of a PC gaming system, and with that in mind, Lenovo has crafted a solution that offers a considerable... Read more...
Welcome to the era of dual-mode devices, where the mantra "bigger is better" rules the day. Need an example? Take smartphones -- Samsung's been serving up large size handsets for the past several years, some of which are so big that it warranted creating a brand new category. Even Apple jumped on the big device bandwagon with the recent launch of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Do you know what you end up with if you take that same mantra and apply it to PCs? You get "Dell's XPS 18 Portable All-in-One Desktop with Touch," a hybrid system that turns a giant sized Windows 8.1... Read more...
We’ve seen our share of obscenely tricked-out systems as of late; rigs like the Maingear Rush and Epic Rush, the iBuypower Chimera 4SE FX Ultimate, and the Falcon Northwest Tiki (among others) are bursting at the seams with the hottest hardware, but of course, those systems typically have commensurate price tags. None of the above cost less than $2,700, and the Maingear Rush drains the pocketbook at a whopping $8,393 as configured. Digital Storm’s latest offering, the Vanquish II, take a completely different approach. It still has excellent components inside, but none... Read more...
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