PC Components, Peripherals And Gadget Reviews And News

Dig into our deep-dive product reviews and news of PC components from processors, to motherboards, graphics cards (GPUs), sound cards, and storage, along with other gadgets and peripherals that complete the computing experience. Whether you're a DIY PC enthusiast builder or just looking to read-up on what should be inside or connected to your next pre-built PC, here's where you'll find all the nuts and bolts sorted on what makes modern computer systems tick, as well some of the best user interface devices to go with them.

  Trends in PC hardware usually come about for a good reason.  As processor and memory speeds continued to rise, many manufacturers responded by producing more elaborate air cooling apparatuses.  Some of them worked well, while others offered almost no improvement at all.  In either case, lowering temperatures in this way usually resulted in an unwanted side effect: excessive noise.  As high-speed fans were placed over this and that chipset, the cacophony of whirring and buzzing machinery became a little more than most users were willing to bear.  So the next trend to come along was to not only cool down a PC, but to do so with more style and less noise. ... Read more...
Although performance has been greatly enhanced over the last few years through the use of faster spindle speeds, larger caches, and newer interfaces, hard drives still tend to be a bottleneck in a typical PC. Mechanical devices, by their very nature, require time to seek the data requested, read it, and then transfer that information back to system memory. Also, while SATA technology has increased transfer rates from the paltry 33MB/s of the original ATA spec to a healthy 300MB/s on the latest SATA-II controllers, there's still room for improvement, although the drives themselves will still struggle to saturate the bandwidth on this interface. One idea, although hardly new, is to create a solid-state... Read more...
For the better part of the last decade, there has only been two major players in the discreet graphics field, and as one of those players, nVidia needs no introduction. The GPU manufacturer has stayed at or near the forefront of technological advances through the years. Although there has been a misstep or two along the way, you generally can expect something good to emerge from their R&D labs. And we aren't speaking strictly about the company's GPUs. They have also been a major player in the chipset business with their very successful nForce products. As time moved onward, the nForce chipset has matured and evolved to the point that it is now considered one of the "must-haves"... Read more...
  With all the praise that has been heaped upon NVIDIA for their 7800 series of graphic cards, it was bound to cause a bit of dismay for rival ATi.  For nearly two years ATi had been riding high on the success of their 9700 and 9800 series of cards, while NVIDIA had been trying to save face after a few mishaps of their own.  Then, somewhat ironically, the tables were turned.  While the 7800GT and 7800GTX were taking the industry by storm with their outstanding performance and relatively quiet operation, ATi seemed to hit pothole after pothole. So, it was with some eager anticipation that the Radeon X1000 series was released, with hopes of putting ATi back on the map and... Read more...
  The big headlines in today's video card related articles almost always come down to seeing double; whether it's two NVIDIA GeForce cards connected in SLI or two ATi Radeons running in CrossFire mode.  Perhaps it's justified in that people always want to see higher framerates and increased performance, regardless of the cost.  Just look back at what they did to our pal, Steve Austin.  When they "rebuilt" the Six Million Dollar man, they didn't just give him the powers of an everyday man.  They made him "faster, stronger, better".  While those kind of articles always make for exciting reading, the average PC user knows that at the end of the day,... Read more...
The beige box; you had one, I had one, just about everyone and their mother had one. It wasn't that long ago either, that we all had our generic cases on display for no one to notice. Of course, this was back in the day when megahertz ruled, megabytes were plentiful, and a 56K modem was a bragging right. Fast forward a bit, and now we're running on high speed connections, Gigahertz is the word, and Gigabytes don't really seem that big. With all these new technical advances, it was only a matter of time before the boring beige box was given a makeover. A quick trip to just about any major hardware retailer will quickly reveal just how big the PC enclosure industry has become. Cases can now be... Read more...
It seems that today's mid and high-end video cards are coming with increasingly more creative cooling solutions.  Lately, large, quiet fans are becoming more popular as seen with Abit's OTES, HIS's IceQ II and Sapphire's Lethal Cooling.  All of these options aim to keep a video card cool under load while minimizing fan noise, and in some cases, making it virtually non-existent.  There are trade offs to these designs, however, such as the occupation of a second slot, but often times the upside is a direct exhausting of warm air out of the case, lowering overall case temperatures.  In the end, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and the end result can be both cool and quiet,... Read more...
The GV-R96X128D 9600XT from Gigabyte High-End Quality at a Mid-Range Price By, Jeff Bouton March 2, 2004 When it comes to deciding on the perfect video card for your needs, manufacturers don't make it easy for the average buyer. While naming conventions are aimed at classifying the product so the consumer can decipher what they are getting, some of these brandings are pretty confusing nonetheless. Today, we are seeing all kinds of designations for the consumer to sift through such as "Pro", "SE", "XT" and "Ultra" to name a few. While the "Ultra" suffix is a clear label of a high-end card, the others are a little less obvious, unless you follow... Read more...
Gigabyte's GA-8S648FX Motherboard Bridging the gap with the SiS 648FX "Burned" in by Robert Maloney August 13th, 2003           A lot of hype and controversy has surrounded Intel's latest chipsets, the i865 Springdale and the i875 Canterwood, and they are proving to be very capable solutions for the Pentium 4 processor. But the question remains to be asked; what have the other chipset designers been up to? We haven't seen VIA's latest offering make much noise, but SiS has kept forging ahead, looking to improve on their previous offerings. If you recall, we had a look at an MSI board based on the SiS648 back in late October of 2002, and it... Read more...
The Gigabyte GV-R98P128D Powered by the ATi Radeon 9800 Pro By - Marco Chiappetta July 17, 2003 At the moment, gamers looking for a "Top-of-the-Line" graphics card, basically have two GPUs to choose from, either an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro or an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900.  Video cards based on these two GPUs are so evenly matched, they swap the first place position in most of today's popular benchmarks, depending on what resolutions or settings are used.  And to further complicate matters, the performance landscape changes slightly with each driver release.  It's very difficult to determine which product is superior or whether one is better for your personal needs versus another. ... Read more...
  Gigabyte's 7VAXP-A Ultra KT400A Motherboard Competition For The nForce 2 By, Tom Laverriere May 27, 2003 If anyone has ever been part of a team, not just in sports but in any part of life, there is one valuable lesson to learn and that is competition within the team makes the team better.  There are many reasons for this.  Competitiveness pushes individuals on the team to perform at higher levels to ensure their spot on the team.  The ones that don't play a starting role, nevertheless, keep working hard trying to become that next strong player on the team.  In any event, competition is a good thing.  Competition is even better when it comes to computer technology. ... Read more...
The GeForce FX 5900 Ultra  A Preview And Performance Analysis With NVIDIA's New Killer By - Dave Altavilla May 12, 2003 Here we are again, with another installment of my pixel is faster than yours.  Why is it that Graphics Cards create so much buzz in the PC Enthusiast market?  Perhaps it's because Processors, Motherboards, Memory and Drives are just a little too sterile, in terms of the what Marketing Weasels can spin up for the general public?  We here at HotHardware, actually get fairly jazzed up about a next generation Motherboard Chipset or CPU but then again, some of us don't get out much.  Companies like Intel, AMD, SiS and VIA, do an excellent job of marketing... Read more...
GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Performance Analysis Detailed Benchmarks With NVIDIA's Value Gaming Card By - Marco Chiappetta and Dave Altavilla March 12, 2003 Last week's Game Developers Conference was pumped up with lots of hype and excitement, regarding not only the software behind next generation game engines, but also the hardware that will power them.  Both ATi and NVIDIA announced DirectX 9 capable Graphics Cards, that will deliver fantastic levels of realism in upcoming titles like Doom 3.  As we know, in the land of PC Gaming, Graphics Cards are sort of like that tricked out engine you had in that '88 Mustang GT, back in the day. While ATi decided to launch a new high end card, NVIDIA... Read more...
Gainward's AGP8X NVIDIA Powered "Golden Samples" Giving Things a Boost with AGP 8X By - Jeff Bouton December 03, 2002 When it comes to maintaining longevity in the video card market, nVidia seems to have the process down to a science.  Since the release of the GeForce4 series of GPUs last year, the product line has enjoyed a rather successful maturation process.  This maturity in nVidia's products has given manufacturers the ability to be creative with their designs, offering a wide variety of graphics card combinations.  Now, it isn't uncommon to see Ti4200 cards being offered with higher core and memory clock speeds, giving them Ti4600-like performance levels at a fraction... Read more...
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