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.

With the growing popularity of cloud-based storage solutions, such as the Amazon S3 and Nirvanix services, many businesses--both large and small--are eschewing traditional onsite file servers, and instead opting for offsite, third-party storage solutions. But the ongoing cost of maintaining cloud-based storage as well as the often unproven reliability of it makes it a less than ideal solution for some businesses; and this leaves those businesses with the conundrum of how to store and serve files, provide safe backups, and enable remote access, without breaking the bank.For such businesses, maintaining an onsite Network-Attached Storage (NAS) solution is often the best answer. NAS devices are... Read more...
Regardless of their size or industry, most businesses depend on ready and secure access to their data. To a business, "secure" means that its data is protected from hardware or software failures and is safe from prying eyes. But small and even some medium-sized businesses often can't afford to maintain a data center, let alone a dedicated IT staff. Such businesses still have numerous options for data storage and access solutions, including contracting the service out or even relying on cloud-based solutions. But for those smallish businesses that have tech-savvy staff members, often the preferred solution is to rely on cost-effective onsite storage in the form of business-grade network-attached... Read more...
  When AMD launched the Radeon HD 4870 X2 a few months back, the company hinted at the impending release of another, more affordable, dual-GPU powered card aptly named the Radeon HD 4850 X2. Like the more powerful 4870 X2, the 4850 X2 would sport a pair of RV770 GPUs on a single PCB, but on the 4850 X2 they would be clocked somewhat lower and would be linked to more affordable GDDR3 memory.At the time, AMD planned to release the card at a slightly lower price point than the competing GeForce GTX 280, but it took quite a while for the Radeon HD 4850 X2 to finally materialize. When it did arrive, in the form of the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 2G GDDR3 we'll be showing you here, the 3D graphics... Read more...
Traditional hard disk storage is living on borrowed time. We know it and storage manufacturers know it. Solid state drives, which use non-volatile memory chips instead of rotating metal discs for storing data, are simply a better medium in the long run. They consume less power, create nearly zero heat, and produce no noise – but best of all, there are no moving parts to wear out over time. The technology and prices aren’t quite there yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Take a quick look through any tech-oriented forum and you will likely run into folks proclaiming the death of traditional platter based storage. For the most part, they're right - but there is a twist to the story as platter... Read more...
The price of LCD screens has steadily declined and in the last few years, larger monitors are starting to become relatively affordable. This is especially evident in the 19", 20" and 22" categories, where we see a significant number of products in the sub-$300 range. However 24" and larger screens still remained premium products until very recently. In the last year or so we have seen the first 24" screens to dip below the $400 mark appear on the market. The products in this new category of value oriented 24" screens almost universally combine a large and cheap TN panel with a basic monitor housing and stand to produce a cost effective product. While these value oriented 24" monitors offer large... Read more...
Let’s talk about SCSI for a moment. The disk interface which was once ubiquitous with high-end workstations and servers is now on the verge of obsolescence. With the influx of inexpensive and reliable Serial ATA hard disks and hardware SATA RAID controllers (which can provide excellent performance at a fraction of a SCSI’s price), it’s not surprising to see why legacy SCSI doesn’t even enter the mind of enterprise server and workstation platform buyers, even those diehards of the past. However, like PATA's evolution to SATA, SCSI has also gone the way of serial connectivity and it still holds its advantages. For example, 15K RPM hard disks are only available with a SCSI or... Read more...
The intoxicating smell of fresh paint was the first sensation to greet us when we opened up a very special package from Diamond Multimedia and Smooth Creations. This was quickly followed by jaw-dropping awe as we admired the meticulous detail of the system's custom paint job. Speculating at the power waiting to be unleashed under its hood, we were jonseing to fire the rig up and pwn some noobs. But before we could do that, we wanted to share our experience of unboxing the machine with you--minus the heavy lifting and the paint fumes. We'll try not to get too much drool or smudged fingerprints on the rig. After all, we're giving it away to a randomly-selected, active HotHardware forum member!... Read more...
When we're asked by readers for hardware advice, one of the most popular topics involves the graphics card.  With a myriad of options out there covering the price and performance spectrum, it's not always a cut and dried answer.  First, we need to consider the person's budget requirements, then assess the rest of their hardware to see what best fits their situation.  It's not simply a matter of buying the most expensive card one can afford.  We wish it were that simple.  In the end, it all comes down to a balancing act between price, performance, and user's particular configuration. On the other hand, there are those who are less concerned with... Read more...
For each type of product and in each market, there is usually a specific price segment that will provide the best value proposition for consumers, often known as the 'sweet spot'. For quite some time, the 19" widescreen was the sweet spot of the consumer LCD monitor market. Hovering between the cheaper but aging 17" screens and the expensive but only slightly larger 20" screens, the 19" widescreen LCD provided the best value for a long time. However, in the last 8-10 months, LCD monitor production has increased and the price of LCD panels has fallen dramatically. The 20" screens which once seemed like such a poor value proposition, costing up to $100 more than 19" screens despite only... Read more...
In late January, ATI unveiled several new entry level GPUs manufactured using the 55nm process that was first employed with the more powerful RV670 GPU.  Not only did the new process help ATI deliver more competitive graphics cards at attractive price points, it also improved on such things as power consumption, which is of growing interest to energy conscious users.  For these newer entry level cards, the RV635 and RV620 GPUs were crafted with many of the same features as the RV670 , yet condensed into a smaller, more affordable product line.Today, we're evaluating the Sapphire Radeon HD 3650 to assess its qualities and features as an entry level graphics solution. ... Read more...
A few months ago, we evaluated the 1-terabyte (TB) Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA hard drive. We found the drive to offer many positive features in addition to its massive capacity. In this article, we'll be looking at Seagate's flagship enterprise-class, mass storage solution, the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 SATA hard drive. While the Barracuda 7200.11 and ES.2 are almost identical drives, there are some important differences to highlight between them. For instance, the 7200.11 has a mean time between failure (MTBF) rating of 750,000 hours while the ES.2 boasts a superior and more server-oriented MTBF of 1.2 million hours. Essentially, this means the ES.2 should be a more reliable drive that... Read more...
It seems like a new year always evokes the feeling of renewed hope and high expectations.  And for AMD / ATI at least, 2008 appears to have reinvigorated their graphics division, which appears to be firing on all cylinders at the moment.  After a year or so of NVIDIA dominating the high-end graphics space, ATI released the Radeon HD 3870 and HD 3850 cards, which have proved to be competent alternatives at their respective price points.  Based on the RV670 GPU, the HD 38xx series has been able to provide similar or better performance than the preceding 2900 XT, while running cooler and consuming less power.  That, and their lower price points,... Read more...
  Seagate was surprisingly late to join the small, but elite club of storage manufacturers shipping one terabyte (1TB) class hard drives. Somewhat expectedly, the first out of the gate was Hitachi, who made it to market several months beforehand with a high-density five-platter 1TB hard disk design. While Hitachi’s performance, thermals, and acoustics have all been tested to be fairly solid overall, many high-end buyers have been waiting for other large manufacturers, namely Western Digital and Seagate, to get into the game to see how these other products compare. Now, all of the major disk manufacturers are shipping terabyte-class products, so we should start to see overall prices fall... Read more...
Upon its release, it was expected that even the most ardent power users and enthusiasts were going to tread lightly at first with respect to adopting Windows Vista as their primary OS.  Though end users in this demographic are classically early adopters, in terms of new hardware technologies coming to market, an operating system change brings with it a whole myriad of pitfalls, from backwards compatibility to stability and performance issues, which are all understood to be "part of the deal" with any new OS.  In reality, many folks migrate to a new OS platform over time, opting to dip their toe carefully into the pool with less critical usage models, like running it on a backup machine or secondary... Read more...
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