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.

Intel promises a lot with its just-announced fifth-gen Core vPro processors, but if there's one overarching theme, it's that the company wants you to be wireless -- even if you need to take advantage of a big screen. Three major focuses for Intel with this launch include general PC design, wireless displays, and wireless docking. On the design front, Intel says that with these new vPro processors, vendors will be able to create products that are up to three times thinner and 50% lighter over previous generations. That's a bold claim, and an exciting one for mobile warriors. Intel's Fifth-gen Core vPro Processor A great example of where the wireless capabilities come in can be seen in... Read more...
Intel's strategically timed CES 2015 launch of their new 5th Generation Core Series processors for notebooks was met with a reasonably warm reception, though it's always difficult to rise above the noise, with the sea of announcements from competitors and the like. CES is always such a zoo and that's by design. Performance claims for Intel's new chip promise major gains in graphics and more modest increases in standard compute applications. However, the biggest bet Intel placed on the new Broadwell-U architecture is performance-per-watt throughput and battery life in premium notebook products that are now in production with major OEM partners like Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, Toshiba... Read more...
The Consumer Electronics Show is about to get underway, and Intel is leading the pack with a set of CPU announcements. It has been six months since the company took the lid off its first 14nm processor, the Core M, but that CPU is designed for the ultramobile, low-power market. Consumers who wanted to tap Intel's 14nm products in more mainstream notebook hardware had to wait a bit longer until the Q1 2015 time frame.This new SoC is a "tick" in Intel's tick-tock plan, which means it's mostly a die shrink of the existing Haswell architecture -- at least, on the CPU side. On the GPU side, there's a bevy of improvements and advances, and the video decoder block has been beefed up with dual bit... Read more...
It has been over six years since Intel first unveiled its Atom CPUs and detailed its plans for new, ultra-mobile devices. The company's efforts to break into smartphone and tablet sales, while turning a profit, have largely come to naught. Nonetheless, company CEO Brian Krzanich remains optimistic. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Krzanich opined that the company's new manufacturing partners like Rockchip and Spreadtrum would convert entirely to Intel architectures within the next few years. Krzanich has argued that with Qualcomm and MediaTek dominating the market, it's going to be tougher and tougher for little guys like Rockchip and Spreadtrum to compete in the same spaces. There's truth to... Read more...
Earlier this year we detailed the launch of new 15-core Ivy Bridge-based server processors from Intel, as part of the Xeon E7 refresh cycle. Today, Intel is pushing the Xeon E5 family forward -- except in this case, the new Xeon E5 v3 chips are leaping to higher core counts, the more advanced Haswell-EP architecture, and DDR4. The result? The highest-performing Intel server we've seen to date. First, the chips and platform: Collectively, this is a huge leap forward for the entire Xeon E5 series. The Xeon E5 v2 chips, which were based on Ivy Bridge, topped out at 12 cores per socket. The new Xeon E5 v3 cores, in contrast, are going to push as high as 18 cores per socket -- a 50% improvement. The... Read more...
Intel's next-generation Broadwell Y (now known as the Core M processor) is set to ship on schedule for the end of the year. The company, occasionally flagged with criticism of its repeated delays and with its IDF show ramping up next week, is sharing more detail on the upcoming hardware, features and performance characteristics of its new 14nm mobile platform. We've previously offered up a 14nm deep-dive on how Broadwell Y came to be from a design, process and manufacturing standpoint. Today, we'll look more closely at how the new Core M processor's feature list, how it will be productized and some high level performance expectations as well... Intel Core M Broadwell Speeds, Feeds And Performance... Read more...
Competing with Intel's desktop or notebook processors is like taking on the proverbial 800 pound gorilla, but when it comes to resources, the company is more like an 800 pound gorilla on steroids, with advanced weaponry and a big budget.  Intel is a manufacturing and process technology juggernaut.  There was a time when the company would use that prowess to simply enable chips at higher clock speeds with larger memory resources. Since then, market demands have shifted to efficient computing, based on performance-per-watt metrics. With a strong X86 architecture in place, Intel is now using their process and manufacturing advantages to leave competitors in the rear view,... Read more...
Intel’s solid state storage offerings are as diverse as they come. Although Intel started with only a single family of enthusiast-class drives a number of years ago, the company has since expanded its scope to include everything from ultra-high-end PCI Express-based offerings to small, entry-level SATA drives, meant to be used solely as a cache. The product we’ll be showing you here, the just-announced Intel SSD 2500 Pro, falls somewhere in the middle of Intel’s SSD line-up. The SSD 2500 Pro is the follow-up to last year’s SSD 1500 Pro series, which targets corporate and small-business clients. The drive shares much of its DNA with some of Intel’s consumer-class... Read more...
The pace of innovation on in the solid state storage market hasn’t slowed a bit in the last few years. Numerous manufacturers continue to release newer, faster SSDs at regular, frequent intervals. There’s been an underlining limitation, however, that’s prevented monumental leaps in performance—the aging SATA interface. Current SATA implementations simply don’t offer the bandwidth necessary to keep pace with the continuous innovation happening in solid state storage. As such, more and more manufactures have been looking to higher bandwidth interfaces like PCI Express. We have already looked at a number of PCI Express based drives, with wide ranging price points and... Read more...
Intel has established a strong record in the solid state storage space, dating all the way back to 2008 with its debut of the excellent X25-M series of drives. Back then, Intel upped the ante in enthusiast-targeted solid state storage, and they want to do it again with the drive we’ll be showing you here today, the upcoming Intel SSD 730. The new Intel SSD 730 will be the company’s latest flagship consumer-targeted SSD. The drive, however, features technology gleaned from Intel’s experience in data centers, and is actually quite similar to the DC S3500 we reviewed back in June. Intel is doing a few things to set this drive apart, though. The SSD 730’s controller... Read more...
Intel is announcing its new tablet and smartphone designs this week at Mobile World Congress, alongside a major push to drive adoption of its 28nm XMM 7160 and XMM 7260 modem technology. It's been two years since Intel launched its first serious Atom-based smartphone platform, codenamed Medfield, and it's safe to say that those two years haven't gone precisely as Intel intended. Originally, the company planned to have a solid market share built up by now. Instead, it's planning a major tablet initiative with multiple partners with a few possible smartphone SoC wins on the side. The chips that will power these efforts are the Z34 and Z35 families, known as Merrifield and Moorefield, respectively.... Read more...
For months, there have been rumors circulating of a new Intel 15-core CPU, with a particular focus on Big Data analytics, multi-socket systems, and the enterprise market. Well, this past January, we took a trip to Intel's SAP research lab to see the new processors and the rather substantial update coming down the pipe. Unlike Intel's mainstream and basic server products, the truly Big Iron hardware updates on a significantly slower cadence. Haswell chips launched eight months ago for desktop and the Xeon E5 v2 family, based on Ivy Bridge, has been available for months -- but the Xeon E7 processors Intel is replacing today are still based on the old Westmere core, which first debuted in consumer... Read more...
It has been a while since I have personally setup a test bench, rolled up my sleeves and built a test system with top-shelf components, a fresh OS install and some overclocking mojo. However, Intel's recent release of Ivy Bridge-E gave us a hankering to do just that. We've been testing a lot of tablets, smartphones and ultrabooks, but there's a certain satisfaction that comes with building a high performance system from the ground up, that you just don't get from pre-built devices. So I decided to see if I still had the chops. EVGA recently took the wraps off a new high-end X79 motherboard dubbed the X79 Dark and its black PCB with red accents, as it turned out, matched quite nicely... Read more...
This most recent metamorphosis of the PC hasn’t been kind to the high-end desktop processor segment. While the industry as a whole continues to focus on the steadily growing ultra-mobile market, and releases new products in rapid succession, there have only been two major flagship desktop processors released since the Intel Core i7-3960X hit the scene in late 2011—the slightly faster Intel Core i7-3970X and AMD’s limited edition FX-9590. And even then, AMD’s chip is most likely going to compete with Intel’s more mainstream quad-core parts. We’ll know exactly how it performs soon enough, when we complete our full evaluation of the FX-9590. Low-power parts... Read more...
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