Desktops

When it comes to the business of building PCs, true innovation is hard to find. There are exceptions—HP had the Blackbird 002, Alienware designs its own enclosures, and there's always the Thermaltake Level 10—but most companies aren't willing to take the financial risk that's part and parcel of designing new and different products. Fortunately, MainGear is. While they've not been around as long as Alienware or Falcon-Northwest, the company has six solid years of experience in building custom PCs. MainGear recently sent us a high-end system built around its unique SHIFT chassis. When... Read more...
For the last couple of years, Dell's foray into the small-form-factor desktop market was its successful mini-tower (with the emphasis on "mini") Studio Hybrid. But with Dell's latest small-form-factor entry, the Inspiron Zino HD, out goes the vertical mini-tower and in comes the horizontal square--7.8-inches wide by 7.8-inches deep to be exact, and a mere 3.4-inches tall. Like the Studio Hybrid (which Dell still sells), the Inspiron Zino HD (a.k.a. the Inspiron 400) is a solid little machine, with decent mainstream performance, and geared towards budget-minded consumers. Similar to how you could... Read more...
There's a new company joining the ranks of boutique system builders with customization options that could turn the head of even the most die-hard DIY-er. The paint is scarcely dry on the Origin logo—the business opened on November 17th—but the corporation's three founders each spent a decade at Alienware prior to founding Origin. Their collective expertise is already evident; Origin offers unique customization options that set a new bar for what constitutes a "customizable" system. In this preview, we'll examine both the nascent company and the design of the review system it sent for evaluation;... Read more...
Avid followers of the PC technology scene are no doubt familiar with the concept of CPU + GPU fusion. AMD has been talking about its Fusion project for years, which will feature advanced processor and graphics cores on a single chip. Well, we're not quite there yet, not on the desktop at least, but Intel is taking us one step closer with Clarkdale. Yes, we said Intel.A couple of weeks ago, we evaluated Intel's Pinetrail platform for netbooks, which features an Atom CPU core, fused to a graphics processor on a single, monolithic die. Today, Intel is taking a similar approach in the desktop space... Read more...
When Intel introduced its LGA1166 Lynnfield processors earlier this fall, one of its goals was to introduce Nehalem's advanced technology at lower price points. To that end, Digital Storm has designed a high-end system around the P55 chipset and Core i5 processor. At a price of ~$1900, the customized system isn't what you'd call cheap, but it's still less expensive than some of the Core i7 PCs we've seen recently, several of which landed between $3100-$4000 dollars. At first glance, the 2.67GHz Core i5 might not seem to be capable competition for Core i7 processors running at 3.2GHz and above,... Read more...
  The enthusiast scene is filled with consumers with do-it-yourself attitudes who regularly build their own systems from scratch. In fact, some feel that part of the fun associated with a new build is comparing prices online and asking for advice on tech forums in order to configure the ideal system. Although there are obvious benefits of going this route, there are those who may not have the time to find the lowest prices on each individual component or inclination to assemble a rig unassisted. While an abundance of options are available for consumers who prefer a pre-built system, they usually... Read more...
Synopsis: The Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 is an all-in-one desktop with plenty of features and bells-and-whistles to keep all but the most jaded of users happy. Perhaps taking a page out of Apple's book, Lenovo put a lot of effort into the look and feel of the A600, with its black-colored chassis, borderless 21.5-inch 1920x1080 TFT display, curved back, and svelte form factor--measuring only 1-inch thick at its thinnest point. The A600 Series comes in a variety of configurations, which range in price from $679 to $1,399. The unit we looked at--the A600-30114BU--is at the top of the A600's food chain... Read more...
Let’s face it; buying a gaming machine with today’s latest components is anything but inexpensive. iBuyPower’s Gamer Paladin F970, which is designed to make the most of its powerful Core i7 processor and other high-end components, is proof of that fact. When the Gamer Paladin F970 was first released, the standard configuration initially had a price tag of $3,799. Recently, iBuyPower dropped the price on the standard configuration of the Gamer Paladin F970 to $3,395. Even at that price, however, the Gamer Paladin F970 is still considerably more than its less expensive cousin, the F950,... Read more...
Boutique system builders tend to fall into three categories, there are the more custom or high-end offerings from some of the larger names like Dell/Alienware or HP/Voodoo (though you may or may not classify them as "boutique"), there are offerings from large e-tailers like Tiger Direct's SystemMax, and then there are independent companies as well, obviously.  A few of the major names in this third category are MainGear, Velocity Micro and the company whose product we have on the bench for you today--Digital Storm. Digital Storm as a company has been around... Read more...
In the last few years Virtualization has gone from a buzzword to a platform of choice in the world of Information Technology. Consumers already reap its benefits on a day to day basis as Banks, Internet Service Providers, online merchants, and many other companies have adopted the technology all the while transparent to the end user. The reasons why virtualization is attractive to companies are many but, to put it succinctly, it all boils down to efficiency which then translates to lower cost and higher availability. In an article on the Intel/IBM sponsored VirtualizationConversation.com, HotHardware.com's... Read more...
In the last half year, Dell has been busy revamping their entire desktop XPS lineup. First came the XPS 420 late last year, a premium multimedia workstation. Then Dell introduced a new mid-range gaming oriented desktop, the XPS 630 early this year. The 630 is a mid-tower sized gaming desktop styled after the flagship XPS 700 series but with more affordable components and a relatively thrifty price tag. We found the XPS 630 to be an excellent machine in our evaluation. While these new additions to Dell's desktop XPS lineup were certainly welcome, we hadn't seen a major update to the flagship... Read more...
If you've followed the tech sector for any appreciable amount of time, you've no doubt heard the tale of Dell Inc. - one of those stories where a guy with a dream founded a company and eventually built it into a corporate giant.  Right from the beginning, Michael Dell believed that the future of PC sales involve building and selling customized IBM PC-compatible computers directly to home users.  The first computer of their own design, labeled the "Turbo PC" helped the company gross more than 73 million dollars in its first year alone.... Read more...
For many of you, Maingear Computer may not be a household name and that would probably be just fine with the folks out at the shop in Union New Jersey.  Loosely classified as a specialty high performance system builder and retailer, Maingear's mission statement on style, performance and quality claims that they strive to not just provide customers with a computer but rather with a "way of life".  That's certainly fitting because the target demographic for the type of machines Maingear builds, probably sees high performance computing as a way of life as well.  In short,... Read more...
A short while after Dell purchased Alienware late last year, news broke that Hewlett Packard had acquired boutique system vendor Voodoo PC.  Voodoo PC is best known for their high performance gaming PC's that feature custom cases, some with lavish paint jobs, unique cooling solutions, and impeccable wiring jobs. We evaluated a Voodoo Omen some time back and found it to be an excellent product.  If you check out the Omen, you'll see why HP was interested in Voodoo. After HP's acquisition of Voodoo PC, many speculated that the company's entrance into the high-end gaming PC market... Read more...
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