Systems

The Sony VAIO Tap 21 is a member of a small, but growing, breed of new PCs that straddles a line between traditional all-in-one desktops and tablets. The VAIO Tap 21’s specifications read like many modern desktop systems, and include an Intel Core i7 processor, hybrid storage, a decent amount of memory and full-blown Windows 8. But the machine is also surprisingly svelte, it’s got a full HD, multi-touch screen and it packs an integrated battery that gives users the ability to simply pick up the system and go. Of course, the VAIO Tap 21’s physical dimensions prevent it... Read more...
As far as computer chassis go, when it comes to being successful in the enthusiast DIY niche', manufacturers tend to focus on a few key design approaches that will help products stand out and ultimately sell. You can go the way of functionality and build quality, like Corsair did, for example with their Obsidian 700 and 800 series, though it may or may not get you noticed. However, take that approach and also couple it with visual design cues that really catch the eye and you end up with products like MainGear's SHIFT chassis (developed with Silverstone) and the Thermaltake Level 10. ... Read more...
The market for nettops—small, highly-integrated, mini-ITX desktops, typically based around Intel's Atom—didn't explode off the block the way netbooks did in the past 18 months, but an increasing number of manufacturers from Acer to Dell have released new designs built around the standard, and the systems in question are steadily becoming more powerful. Zotac is no stranger to the mini-ITX market, but the company's line of mini-PCs aims to provide more than just a motherboard. Zotac now has two complete systems on the market—the HD-NS01 (Atom 270, 1GB RAM) and the HD-ND01 (Atom 330, 2GB RAM). We'll... Read more...
Since you are here, reading this and potentially some other articles and news about PC hardware, you've probably attended or at least heard of LAN parties. The main point of LAN parties is, of course, to play video games with your peers on networked PCs. Another fun aspect of LAN parties, especially big events like QuakeCon, is that you get to see all the cool, unique hardware that party goers bring. We're sure some people really get a kick out of showing up the competition with awesome mods and paint jobs. Not everyone has the desire to mod or paint their own systems, though. That's where a company... Read more...
Enthusiasts are familiar with the Smooth Creations team as the artists behind the airbrushed gaming rigs from the likes of Falcon Northwest, Alienware, and Maingear. Not as many may be aware, however, that Smooth Creations has recently expanded from the realm of painting cases to that of building and selling painted, customizable systems and laptops as well. These are not your grandfather's systems--they are all high-end gaming rigs with the specs and price tags to prove it. For HotHarware's April sweepstakes, we partnered with Smooth Creations and Diamond Multimedia to create a truly... Read more...
The intoxicating smell of fresh paint was the first sensation to greet us when we opened up a very special package from Diamond Multimedia and Smooth Creations. This was quickly followed by jaw-dropping awe as we admired the meticulous detail of the system's custom paint job. Speculating at the power waiting to be unleashed under its hood, we were jonseing to fire the rig up and pwn some noobs. But before we could do that, we wanted to share our experience of unboxing the machine with you--minus the heavy lifting and the paint fumes. We'll try not to get too much drool or smudged fingerprints... Read more...
As gamers and hardware enthusiasts, it’s easy to get jaded by Extreme Edition processors and multi-card CrossFire configurations. They push performance full-bore. And although you’ll never hear AMD, Intel, or NVIDIA recommending against using their enthusiast offerings in higher-end configurations, there’s no denying that Xeons, Opterons, Quadros, and FireGLs belong to a different pedigree. It’s The Hamptons versus South Beach. You can’t go wrong either way, but there is a distinct difference. So when it comes time to pass judgment over workstation-class hardware, you might be tempted to turn... Read more...
When it comes time for a new rig, there are those who want the power of a full-sized system but without the footprint of a mid or full sized case.  Today, we're going to take a look at a barebones kit that promises full-sized performance in a footprint no bigger than a shoebox.  Enter the Shuttle SDXi Barebones Kit. The SDXi Barebone kit comes with support for the latest Intel CPUs, up to 8GB of DDR2 RAM, RAID and it is backed by some seriously good looks.  On the outside is a custom flamed-out paint job akin to a custom car, while the inside provides the muscle to rival that of a full-sized... Read more...
  What's in a name?  So often hardware companies name their products to paint a mental picture, or set the tone for how they want potential customers to view their particular component.  The names chosen are meant to invoke feelings of speed, performance, size or perhaps the supposed exhilaration you will experience when you see that piece of hardware in action.  With the latest gaming PC to hit the HH labs, we take a look at the Sabre Intel Core 2 Extreme Gaming PC from Systemax and start off by asking: What's in a name? Merriam-Webster's online... Read more...
  Due to the fact that we're an on-line PC hardware enthusiast and technology news publication, the majority of our readers tend to be the do-it-yourself type that build their own custom systems. We cover the gamut of PC hardware, from high-end motherboards and graphics cards, to optical drives and speakers. And while we typically focus on the latest "hot" hardware here, we also like to diversify our content with mainstream hardware that has greater appeal to the masses as well. To that end, we've begun evaluating full production systems in addition to... Read more...
  When we look at the Small Form Factor platform's relative size and shape, it is easy to see why these systems are becoming extremely popular as dedicated living room or home theater PC's. With the gradual adoption of Media Center PC's in the home, Shuttle is now trying harder than ever to ensure that those systems are small yet robust SFF systems. With the release of the new SD36G5M, Shuttle has brought to market a potent system which supports Windows Media Center and conforms to Intel's VIIV platform. Although packaged in the familiar "G" style chassis, the... Read more...
When we last checked in with Shuttle back in April, we took a look at their current entry for the Intel platform, which was based on the latest chipset at the time, the i925XE.  Our introduction for that piece went something along the lines of how the SFF market typically lags behind the full-sized board market, but how Shuttle was right on the cutting edge.  Well, it's been no more than 12 weeks since we wrote that article, and Shuttle is right back in the mix with the SD31P.  The SD31P utilizes the "P" chassis, so visually speaking it should look the same on the outside... Read more...
It seems that Shuttle consistently expands their line of XPC small form factor systems as new core logic chipsets are released. A quick trip to their product page reveals a current line-up of XPCs based on chipsets from Intel, NVIDIA, ATI, SiS and VIA. There are no less than six different chassis designs available as well, with each one designed to cater to a specific audience, and prices range from the mid-$200 mark to about $400 U.S. Looking at their current line-up, it clear that there certainly is no shortage of options available. Today, we're going to take a look at one of Shuttle's high-end... Read more...
When it comes to making Small Form Factor PCs, we find that most manufacturers need to make compromises in order to create a viable product.  Radical heat dissipation techniques typically consume much of the area in already cramped confines, motherboards are usually cut-down versions of full-sized models which, in turn, have fewer features or capabilities, and typically these motherboards are based on an older more mature chipset.  Just recently we have taken looks at other SFF PCs, one of which, the Skyhawk IMC6375, was still based around the 865PE chipset, now nearing two... Read more...
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