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.

Cloud-based storage solutions are all the rage these days, but if you don't want to trust your files to a third-party data center and deal with the risk of hacker attacks and unexpected downtime, maintaining your own centralized storage platform is the way to go. This is where network attached storage (NAS) devices come into play. With hard drive prices as cheap as they are, owning your own NAS box is a totally viable option for wrangling your data, automating backup routines, and serving up files to a growing number of connected devices, including tablets, notebooks, smartphones, game consoles, set-top boxes, and more. Plus, there are no monthly or annual subscription fees to deal with.... Read more...
Diablo III is the sequel to one of the most popular games of all time; its launch on May 15 could cripple college graduation rates, triple the number of insomniacs worldwide, and slash national productivity. Believe us--we know. We've spent about six weeks with the beta and have just recently escaped from Khanduras to detail our findings. This time, there's a twist, however. Our preview is written in two parts; a big-picture examination of the game and a fine-grained, behind-the-scenes look at how Diablo 3 deals with some of the problems and design flaws endemic to its predecessor. End of Days Diablo III's story begins here, in Tristram's old cathedral. You arrive in New Tristram roughly a week... Read more...
When it comes to adding a performance-enhancing upgrade to your system, a good SSD can’t be beat, but storage capacity is an ever-growing need as well. There was a time when a 1TB drive seemed grossly (deliciously?) excessive for the average user, but these days anything less than 500GB seems woefully undersized. Even casual users who play a few games, shoot a little video here and there, and maintain a modest music library need lots of storage. HDDs continue to increase in capacity yet remain reasonably priced in light of solid state offerings, to the point that you can have yourself a multiple-terabyte drive for a couple hundred bucks or less. Today we’re having a look at one... Read more...
Seagate’s first Momentus XT hybrid drive arrived about a year and a half ago. The original drive featured a 500GB hard drive paired to 4GB of SLC NAND flash and a SATA 3.0 interface. At the time of its release, the original Momentus XT turned out to be a rather compelling product. Its price was relatively low and Seagate’s adaptive memory technology “just worked”, which resulted in increased performance that was seamless to the end-user, regardless of the OS being used. Today Seagate is ready to reveal its next iteration of the Momentus XT. The updated version of the drive we’ll be showing you here today features a 750GB storage capacity, with 8GB of SLC NAND... Read more...
It was back in December of last year that we took a look at the Samsung SSD 470 Series solid state drive. Unlike the vast majority of other SSDs on the market at the time that used third-party controllers from SandForce or Indilinx (among others), the Samsung SSD 470 featured nothing but Samsung-built components. The Samsung SSD 470 series was / is a SATA II drive with a Samsung controller, Samsung DRAM cache, and Samsung MLC NAND flash memory. When we tested the drive, we found it to be a fairly good performer, but it wasn’t quite on the level of the higher-end drives available at the time, like the SandForce-based OCZ Vertex 2, for example. Although they haven’t been breakout-hits... Read more...
As far as computer chassis go, when it comes to being successful in the enthusiast DIY niche', manufacturers tend to focus on a few key design approaches that will help products stand out and ultimately sell. You can go the way of functionality and build quality, like Corsair did, for example with their Obsidian 700 and 800 series, though it may or may not get you noticed. However, take that approach and also couple it with visual design cues that really catch the eye and you end up with products like MainGear's SHIFT chassis (developed with Silverstone) and the Thermaltake Level 10.  Talk about "standout," the original Thermaltake Level 10 is easily one of the most recognizable... Read more...
We’ve opened our last few SSD round-ups with comments regarding the break-neck pace at which the solid state storage market has advanced these last few years. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the SSD market continues to show no signs of slowing down. New drives are being introduced constantly and along with updated interfaces, drivers and firmware, manufacturers continue to push the envelope. Consider this; Solid State Drives have gone from essentially non-existent on the desktop to the preferred storage medium of enthusiasts in less than three years. And they’ve offered significant performance improvements along the way. Many would even argue (myself included) that upgrading your... Read more...
With the massive amounts of digital content now at our disposals, spend enough time in front of a system, and eventually it'll require a storage upgrade. We live in a digital world where games take up more storage space, cameras generate larger images, and camcorders produce higher definition videos than ever before. It's only a matter of time before even the average user saturates the drive in their PC. Throwing a SSD into the system as an OS drive will undoubtedly improve its performance, but it doesn't address the need for more storage. That's why the need for traditional hard drives remains strong, and consumers welcome advances in technology that provide additional capacity,... Read more...
In some ways, Samsung is a silicon ninja in the solid state drive (SSD) space. How so you ask?  While most of the competition is all too happy to blitz the SSD market amid much fanfare and ballyhooing, Samsung just quietly does its thing and usually flies under the radar a bit. Whether you realize it or not, Samsung has been churning out their own SSDs for some time (as well as the actual NAND Flash chips themselves of course), only up until now they've come pre-packaged with OEM notebooks or rebadged under another company's branding. With the introduction of the new 470 series, Samsung is finally selling its own branded SSDs, but that's not all. Pop the hood and you'll find the Samsung... Read more...
It's been over 12 years since Starcraft launched, and expectations for the sequel have been quite high*. Well, the highly anticipated sequel, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, is here and we've taken the time to play through the campaign, test various difficulty levels, and tackle both human and the computer's AI in multiplayer. The single-player experience in SC2 is quite a bit different than the multiplayer game; we'll examine the two separately. First, a note on DRM. Starcraft 2 uses a DRM system similar to Steamworks—an online connection is required when installing the game for the first time, but the game can be played offline at any point thereafter.If it's unable to find an Internet... Read more...
Solid State Drives are all the rage with PC Enthusiasts these days. Although relatively expensive in comparison to standard hard drives, Solid State Drives have gotten very popular and have earned a reputation as one of the most significant performance upgrades available to enhance general system responsiveness. Capacities are relatively low in comparison to standard hard drives, but access times and transfer rates are in a different league altogether. And it’s a good SSD’s quick access times and speedy transfers that dramatically impact the end user experience, for the better. Solid State Drives are simply different beasts versus traditional hard drives and the performance difference... Read more...
Although Solid State Drives are all the rage lately, they comprise only a fraction of the overall desktop PC storage market. While SSDs are undeniably fast and enhance the overall user experience, they are also prohibitively expensive for many users and offer relatively low capacities. As such, traditional, spinning hard drives, with their huge capacities and low cost per gigabyte, still make up the lion's share of the market.One of the more interesting hard drives to hit the scene recently is the Seagate Barracuda XT. Its 2TB capacity, 64MB of cache, and 7200 RPM spindle speed will automatically piqué the interest of many enthusiasts. But couple those features with the drive's support for SATA... Read more...
Samsung is the largest and one of the more popular consumer electronics companies in the world. Besides its hugely successful HDTV lineup, the company also makes some equally exciting LCD monitors. Samsung's offering of flat panel displays have proven to be stylish, dependable, and competitively priced. Generally, we've come to find that Samsung PC monitors deliver a healthy balance of performance and affordability though not on the bleeding-edge of technology but more targeted to the mainstream. In addition to its own line of monitors, Samsung even manufactures a multitude of the actual LCD panels found inside the the products of its competitors. ... Read more...
Network-attached storage (NAS) devices come in all shapes and sizes; some even come without hard drives--with the intention that the users will add the drives themselves. There is even a relatively new category of NAS devices that don't have any internal drives at all, and instead use USB-attached drives as their storage source. These NAS devices are typically inexpensive and super-easy to setup and use. We've even looked at a couple of them: the Addonics NAS Adapter ($49) and CloudEngines' Pogoplug ($99). Now a big name in the storage business, Seagate, has jumped onto this bandwagon and released its own USB drive-based NAS device, the Seagate FreeAgent DockStar. Instead of reinventing the wheel,... Read more...
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