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.

There's an old cliche' that seems to ring true with respect to the onslaught of SSD technology we've been treated to in the market over the past year or so, "there's always another one coming."  Solid State Drive technologies are advancing so quickly, that some manufacturers don't even get a chance to let the ink dry on product labeling before their engineering teams step up with yet another offering to productize.  Such is the case with OCZ Technology, a company that is seemingly lining itself up to be a one-stop-shop for all things SSD. When we first took a look at OCZ's Vertex 2 Pro series SSD back in February, we noted that our evaluation was a product "preview" due to the fact... Read more...
What's this? Yet another SSD product from OCZ Technology? It's not like the company doesn't already have a staggeringly large selection of solid state drives of both the MLC and SLC varieties, with various controllers under the hood and even a RAID-driven, PCI Express based line-up. You wouldn't want another SSD from OCZ to choose from, with yet another Flash controller player to consider, now would you? Of course you would. The general consensus in the market right now is that both the consumer and OEM/embedded arenas can't get enough of solid state storage technology nor can it evolve quickly enough.   What's... Read more...
When shopping for an SSD, consumers are confronted with two general options: single-level cell (SLC) or multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory based drives. The market is filled with numerous drives featuring MLC chips that are primarily aimed at more mainstream users. These products are typically less expensive and offer larger capacities than their SLC-based counterparts. On the other hand, drives featuring SLC flash memory offer increased performance and greater reliability, but cost much more as a result of these advantages. Due to the high asking price, single-level cell SSDs typically target the enterprise market where the extended endurance feature is an important consideration.  ... Read more...
An interesting thing about NAND Flash SSD (Solid State Drive) technologies, beyond the fact that the market is flush with competitive product offerings, is that the technology itself is very flexible and adaptable to a number of different design approaches, other just the straight-forward SATA-based SSDs.  Take for example the RAID 4-pack configuration we setup here with Intel's X25-M SSD or perhaps the omnipotent Fusion-io ioDrive.  Granted, these are rather high-end, pricey setups, but you get the gist that solid state storage arena is just getting warmed up. In a sort of hybrid version of Fusion-io's product and our little RAID 4-pack array we setup for testing, memory... Read more...
The solid state drive, or SSD, market is incredibly hot at the moment, with a constant influx of new products that seem to leapfrog previous offerings at every turn. No one has been able to overtake Intel's X25 series of SSDs in terms of overall performance just yet, but the SSDs available from many other companies today are clearly superior to the previous generation.The latest offering to land on the HotHardware test bench is the OCZ Apex Series SATA II SSD. Like OCZ's previous solid state drives, the Apex series fits in a standard 2.5" form factor, but changes to some components and the internal configuration of the drive make the Apex series much more appealing. Take a look at the specifications... Read more...
With the introduction of the new Intel Core i7 processor architecture, the company affectionately known as "Chipzilla" from Santa Clara has once again topped itself on the performance charts. Core i7 chips deliver significantly better performance per clock cycle, while at the same time being more power-efficient versus its predecessors. There's no doubt that it's a great chip, an insanely complex piece of circuitry which can churn through whatever you throw at it with relative ease. It is the chip you want in your system, assuming price is no barrier. However, in this economic environment, price is a major factor for most people out there, and lots of people out there are... Read more...
NVIDIA’s and AMD’s graphics board partners usually take differing approaches when releasing factory overclocked variants of each company’s respective high-end GPUs. When NVIDIA launches a new part for example, their board partners typically have factory overclocked versions at the ready, and at launch, it’s sometimes easier to find overclocked cards than stock reference models. AMD’s board partners, however, don’t usually take the same approach. When AMD launches a new ATI Radeon, the first batch of cards to hit typically follow the reference design to the letter, and custom, factory overclocked models don’t arrive until some time later. That’s what happened with the Radeon HD 4870 X2. At launch,... Read more...
DDR3; it's the future of desktop system memory, plain and simple.  However, it's far from becoming the mainstream standard.  As it stands now, there is little benefit to DDR3 as high costs and latency makes DDR3 a less attractive option in its current state.  It's a familiar story.  If you recall, back when DDR2 was in its infancy, the same argument was made, with price and latency being major detractors.  Over time, however, the technology went through the normal maturation process, and with that, the latency factor was overcome and DDR2 became the dominant memory techology. Today we are going to give you our assessment of a new high-performance DDR2 kit from OCZ.  OCZ's DDR2 PC2-6400... Read more...
For the last several months, DDR2 memory development has been largly stagnent. The fastest DDR2 memory kits from last summer were, for the most part, still the fastest DDR2 memory kits this spring. We haven't seen any truly significant developments in DDR2 since Micron stepped up to the plate with their D9 chips. Although manufacturers continue to release new DDR2 memory, speed increases are fewer and harder to come by. It seems that even the mighty D9 has run out of headroom and it's becoming very difficult to produce faster DDR2 memory while still maintaining acceptible production yields. With the relative standstill in DDR2 development, manufacturers determined to keep... Read more...
For reasons unknown, a good portion of the enthusiast market still thinks that memory cooling is a fruitless effort. Many high-end users still believe that memory chips run plenty cool, and that putting heat spreaders and heatsinks on them is a superficial effort at best, and that they don't provide any major benefits. The fact that nearly all high-end memory module and graphics card memory manufacturers use some sort of additional cooling doesn't seem to matter. For a long time, I was a member of this camp as well. The first memory modules with heat-spreaders showed themselves in 2000-2001, right about the time that the industry was shifting from SDRAM to DDR SDRAM, and Rambus RDRAM... Read more...
A thousand watts, a kilowatt. A kilowatt or a thousand watts. We can't decide which term sounds larger when spoken aloud. In any case, when said aloud, both terms are conversation starters when in discussion about PC power supplies. In this day and age where energy efficiency is something which many gravitate toward, anything with such a large number when it comes to power is instantly an attention grabber, in both positive and negative ways. It's been quite a while since the first enthusiast targeted 1000 watt power supplies hit the market. There were 1000 watt power supplies before, mainly targeted at multi-processor servers and "heavy-iron", but never before had such... Read more...
  As computer enthusiasts, we all love to see PC components get more and more powerful. Unfortunately, with this increasing power often comes an increase in power demands. This is especially true of video cards. In fact, it can be reasonably argued that if it weren't for the high-end video card market, power supplies probably wouldn't be anywhere near the 600W or more that we see in typical enthusiast-level PSUs these days. When you begin to crave high-end dual or quad GPU configurations, you must realize that a high quality and high capacity power supply is probably in your future. Fortunately, both NVIDIA and ATI make your search for an acceptable PSU a little easier as both companies... Read more...
  Last month we took a look at two recent sets of memory from Corsair and Kingston that were pushing DDR2 technology ahead, offering higher clock speeds and lower latencies to complement leading edge motherboard technologies.  Each set did very well in our benchmarks, offering up premium peformance with solid stability. But, besides death and taxes, the only other constant in this world is that the speed of most PC components increase every six months or so.  While Kingston was the first to reach the 750MHz barrier with their HyperX KHX6000D2K2/1G memory, we now have faster sets on the market, including today's entry from OCZ Technology, a 1GB set of 800MHz rated DDR2 called the... Read more...
Back-Up Storage for the masses! The OnStream SC30 SCSI Digital Tape Drive     Ahh yes... the proverbial "cover your butt" of the home and enterprise computer user, the tape backup drive. I know what you are thinking. You're thinking "I don't really need to backup my system" ! These are famous last words. A few weeks ago we received the OnStream SC30 for review here at the Hot Hardware Test Labs. At that time, things were extremely busy and the box lay dormant until other products in the review cue were finished being tested. Then "Murphy's... Read more...
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