Systems

We covered a lot of miles at CES 2016 this year, our fitness trackers often chirping "success" rather early in the day, but we saw a lot of people and a lot of tech gear in our travels. Some of it was hot - damn hot - some of it, not so much. There were some recurring themes this year, as with every year at CES it seems. The hot topics and trends this year were autonomous cars, virtual reality, more thin and light computing and of course more powerful gaming gear. Every Tech Web publication has its own short list of the best products showcased at CES 2016. We're going to run down our top 10 products... Read more...
Although updated sales figures haven’t yet been released, and some initial reviews were less than stellar, if the movie is any indicator, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront is poised to be a resounding success in the gaming community. And with an expansion pack inbound, that will likely feature content that ties in with the Force Awakens, it’ll probably continue that success for quite a while. AMD has been offering free copies of Star Wars Battlefront to new buyers of Radeon Fury graphics cards since mid-November 2015 and will continue to do so through the end of this month. But with... Read more...
Dell's Alienware Steam Machine is under the microscope today. In partnership with several leading PC makers, Valve has finally taken their often-talked about Steam Machine with custom SteamOS to market, promising the depth and precision of PC gaming driven by a purpose-built operating system, that offers a standardized platform similar to a tried and true "just push play" console gaming experience.The Alienware Steam Machine seems like just the thing for PC gamers looking for a simpler way to game without a lot of fuss and configuration. What’s a Steam Machine, you ask? The Steam Machine is a PC-based... Read more...
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...
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...
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