Systems

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...
Intel is readying its latest generation of NUC small form factor systems, based on the company’s recently-released Broadwell-U processors. We got our hands on a Core i5-powered version dubbed the NUC5i5RYK. To be more specific, this little machine is packing a Core i5-5250U processor with on-die Intel HD 6000 series graphics. The system also sports built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, M.2 SSD support, and a host of other features. We’re still readying our full review, but in the meantime we thought you’d like to take a peek at the diminutive Intel NUC5i5RYK to get a sense... 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...
It's official, folks -- we can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the... Read more...
We first caught wind on the Alienware Alpha in the lead-up to Valve’s Steam Box announcements, prior to the Consumer Electronics Show. If you’re unfamiliar with the Alienware Alpha, it is a sleek, small form factor gaming PC, designed specifically for gamers. Valve is not quite ready with Steam OS or the Steam Controller, so the whole Steam Box angle is on hold for now, but that didn’t stop Alienware from re-tooling a bit and shipping the Alpha with Windows 8.1 instead. There are a number of Alpha configurations currently available. The machines have a starting price of $549 with the entry-level... Read more...
When Valve initially revealed its partners for the company’s Steam Machine, Alienware was one of the first on board. However, since the Steam Machine was delayed, Alienware decided to go ahead and re-package the device. Called the Alienware Alpha, the company has started shipping the device out to consumers who pre-ordered the PC console.The Alienware Alpha has a starting price of $549 with the low end version featuring an Intel Core i3 4130T dual-core processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 500GB hard drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M GPU. The $799 model swaps out the i3 for an Intel Core i5 4590T quad-core... 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...
Until such time as Valve gets its ducks in a row, those of us who want a console-like Steam experience are sticking with DIY PCs, Big Picture mode and a third-party controller. Digital Storm, however, thinks it has a killer system for your living room Big Picture setup (or for use as your main gaming rig if you’re a mouse and keyboard type) in the newly updated Bolt II. The Bolt II is a midsize system that fits some powerful components into a very sleek, sophisticated case – one that looks as good standing upright as it does on its side, which is an important feature... 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...
When we reviewed the Maingear Epic Rush a few months ago, we found its performance jaw-dropping, and thus we expected the same out of its sibling, the Maingear Rush. However, these are different systems with different configurations on board. For instance, they have different CPUs--the Rush we're testing today has a newer, more powerful GPU configuration, and Maingear approached storage on the two quite differently as well. What both systems definitely do share is high performance and impeccable build quality. The Maingear Rush is a top-shelf system with killer components; there... Read more...
The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products. Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it. It’s small. It’s... Read more...
We've all heard the phrase "Go big or go home," but how about "Go wide or go home?" The latter is the message Lenovo is sending with its B750 All-in-One Desktop PC, which offers a spacious and brilliant 29-inch super-widescreen In-Plane Switching (IPS) display to play with. It has a Full HD 2560x1080 resolution, which works out to a 21:9 aspect ratio with copious horizontal screen estate to maneuver your documents and windows. It's also adept at watching movies, as the aspect ratio is very close to the true value of 64:27, allowing for little or no discernible black bars. Oddly enough, Lenovo... Read more...
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