Systems

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...
We recently set out to design a mini desktop computer with the wildly popular Raspberry Pi single board computer. The Raspberry Pi is a Linux-driven, ARM processor-based micro computer that is known for its low cost and small size. People use the device for a variety of projects, from micro-servers to low cost media players. Basically, our goal was to turn what is currently one of the cheapest bare-bones computer boards  into a fully enclosed mini desktop computer that could be taken anywhere without the need for cabling or setup. One of the high level goals of this project was also to learn... 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...
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...
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...
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...
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