Systems

These are the days of form factors. The PC market is changing rapidly as tablets supplant some laptops, new players such as the Chromebook disrupt the old WIntel model, and innovations in processors and graphics allow for ever-smaller PCs such as Intel’s NUC. Here’s a new one for you: a tiny NUC-style PC that doubles as a video projector. It's an interesting combination and that’s we have for you today with the Gigabyte Brix Projector. The little PC ships as a barebones unit without storage or memory, but it actually has some solid specs under that diminutive hood and capabilities... Read more...
Mini PCs are big business these days, whether you consider devices like Valve's Steambox initiative, ASUS' Chromebox, Zotac's ZBox line or Intel's own NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PC. In fact, Intel has gone on record, projecting mini PCs like this have shipped over a million units in 2013 and are projected for strong growth this year as well.  So what's the attraction? Obviously there are a number of use cases for this class of device, whether it be as a home theater PC, a strategically placed and aesthetically pleasing family or office PC or even as an arguably (or not) more versatile... Read more...
Google's Chrome OS is an open source operating system that is designed to offer fast, simple, and secure computing for connected devices.  That's not to say the Chrome operating system can't function offline, but connected to the cloud is where users can harness the full power of Google's cloud services and storage infrastructure.  To date, we've shown you a few versions of chromebooks, like the Acer C720 Chromebook and Google's own Chromebook Pixel.  Today, however, we have a look at the very first "official" Chromebox to hit the market and it comes to us by way of ASUS. The ASUS... Read more...
We’ve been hankering to test out one of CyberPowerPC’s new Zeus Mini SFF gaming desktop models ever since we got some hands on time with it at CES, so we were happy to unpack the black and neon green Zeus Mini-I 780 that CyberPowerPC sent us this week. Small form factor (SFF) PCs are something of a trend these days, and frankly, it’s refreshing to see powerful machines on the market that don’t take up much space and and don’t weigh 50 pounds. However, there are two big challenges a SFF machine must face. One is engineering a system that can fit all... Read more...
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...
Although the market for them is relatively small, we love to check out elaborate, no-holds-barred gaming PCs from time to time--you know, the kind of system that costs about the same amount as a serviceable used car. As fun as it is to check out an ultra high-end gaming rig, we also do it to gauge the user experience and to see just how much better it is (or isn't) versus a mainstream PC. But how great is the experience, really?  The answer needs to be darn near perfection, because – let’s face it – a midrange gaming desktop is going to give you a... Read more...
iBuypower is offering an AMD-based system in its Chimera 4SE line, which is designed to give users serious gaming performance without a wallet-busting price tag. The Chimera is part of iBuypower’s Signature Series, which includes iBuypower’s highest-priced and most powerful gaming systems, like the Revolt and Valkyrie. So, what makes a desktop PC a Chimera 4SE? The chassis, for one thing. The Chimera has a custom chassis with unique artwork that makes the Chimera easily identifiable. (We talk more about the chassis on the next page.) Overclocking is another Chimera feature.... Read more...
If we asked you to name five gaming PC manufacturers, Lenovo probably wouldn't make the list. No other company in the world ships more PCs than Lenovo, but of those machines, relatively few are dedicated gaming boxes. Traditionally, Lenovo has focused its efforts on business class desktops and laptops, though the company is known to play in performance waters on occasion, most notably with its IdeaCentre K Series of high-end towers. These aren't hardcore gaming boxes like the boutique builders offer, however, so there's room in Lenovo's lineup to add a dedicated line of systems built exclusively... Read more...
It's hard to believe there's a full fledged system packed inside Apple's slim and sexy iMac chassis. It was roughly a year ago when Apple revamped its all-in-one line, tasking the company's engineers to flatten the design as much as possible without sacrificing performance. What emerged was a sleek display measuring just 5mm at its edge with up to 40 percent less volume than the previous generation. It was such a radical design change that Apple had to abandon traditional welding methods in favor of a process called friction-stir welding, which combines friction-generated heat and pressure to force... Read more...
Falcon Northwest is a big name in a very niche market of luxury PCs. The company is known for special touches like custom cases (think FragBox) and mind-blowing, artist-rendered panel images. The company has also built the rest of its reputation on blazing PC performance. Falcon Northwest recently shipped its Tiki to take on the other small form factor rigs we’ve tested of late. The Tiki is small enough and light enough that it could be your next LAN-party rig, but it’s really meant for your desk. And although it’s much, much smaller than your old full- or mid-tower system, it’s... Read more...
Over the past few years, Corsair has steadily ramped up the number and types of computer chassis it manufacturers. The high-end 700D and 800D have been followed by a number of midrange products and one uber-expensive deluxe model, the massive 900D. The case we're reviewing today, the 750D, is meant to drop into the sub-$200 price bracket, where it faces competition from Corsair's own 650D mid-tower as well as a number of other chassis from manufacturers. Despite the name, the 750D is actually somewhat smaller than the original 700D/800D family. Those chassis were 24 inches long, 24 inches tall,... Read more...
If you're a proponent of the desktop, don't worry, the sky isn't falling on your form factor. Yes, we've read the same reports you have, the ones pointing out how traditional PC sales are shrinking in the wake of a mobile revolution that has consumers turning to tablets and smartphones for surfing the web and logging into Facebook. There's no denying mobile is sexy right now, but when it comes to getting work done and playing games with more depth than Angry Birds, desktops haven't lost their swagger. Desktops are evolving, however, and getting smaller and less intrusive. Zotac is a company that's... Read more...
Dell has updated its Alienware series of gaming notebooks with the refreshed Alienware 18, and what an update it is. In addition to a new generation of hardware, with both Intel's Haswell and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780M rumbling under the hood, Alienware has completely redesigned the look of the chassis, keyboard, and touchpad, all of which we’ll examine more closely in just a moment. One thing that has definitely not changed from the previous generation Alienware notebooks is the size and weight of these monsters, but of course, all that weight belies components built for serious gaming... Read more...
Zotac has been making ultra-small form factor systems for quite a while now. You can check out a number of our reviews of various ZBox systems right here. If you read those previous reviews, you’ll notice that most of the systems have been built around low-power platforms like AMD’s E-Series APUs or Intel’s Atom processors. With its latest generations of mini-PC’s, however, Zotac has been able to crank things up a few notches. With some recently released ZBoxes, Zotac has managed to squeeze in Intel Core-series processors, which put the diminutive systems into an entirely... Read more...
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