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.

It's only been five months since Skyrim hit store shelves, but the amount of work done on the game by both Bethesda and an army of modders has been enormous. With the Creation Kit now in the wild for several months, we've rounded up some of the best mods available and brought them for your consideration. We'll also walk you through the modding process and how to get started. ProTip: If you re-map the "F" key in Skyrim's key bindings, the new key to assign a favorite is "A." This isn't explained or listed anywhere in game; we found it by accident. What Makes a Mod 'Must-Have? There are literally thousands of Skyrim mods available, ranging from small adjustments to NPC dialog or tone of voice,... Read more...
This year's Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada offered some of the most exciting product announcements we've seen in any previous CES show thus far.  The past three years' CES shows have been rather snoozy, to be honest, with the economy taking its toll on product design investment and innovation.  However, this year's CES showed great promise of not only emerging technologies and product innovations but with the sheer number of announcements and the notable increase in attendance (as well as city traffic, which was a nightmare), it was all a very encouraging sign of the health of our nation's economy and that we're finally on the up-tick.  Regardless, we took... Read more...
Touted as one of the biggest milestones in Windows games development in recent years, DirectX 10 ultimately didn't live up to the hype as far as end-users were concerned. A large part of the disappointment was perhaps due to a misunderstanding of what DirectX 10 was supposed to be. DirectX 10 was a fundamental refresh of the entire API and it brought a much-needed reboot to an aging API model. The reboot removed a lot of the legacy clutter left over from over a decade of previous DirectX developments. DirectX 10 was never really about the end users at all, it was really about the developers. It also didn't help that DirectX 10 was tied to Windows Vista, which was unpopular with gamers from launch.... Read more...
Computer cases tend to reveal certain things about their owners. With one glance, your friends can estimate just how serious (or casual) your computer hardware addiction may be. Whether the chassis is a generic, cream-colored throwback from the 90's, a standard mid-tower with a couple of LED fans, or an extravagant full-tower gaming behemoth with see-through side panels and custom graphics, first impressions unavoidably start with the enclosure. Although the market is loaded with a myriad of attractive cases, one product from Thermaltake caught our attention from the moment we laid eyes on it and it has captivated us ever since. The Level 10 gaming tower is a new over-the-top enclosure made specifically... Read more...
This week may be as big a week in the company's history as Microsoft has ever had. We know, that's a pretty bold statement, but there's a lot of evidence to back that up. Microsoft has been drowning in negative press and negative vibes for most of Vista's life; it has tried for years to spit-shine the image of its "Wow!-inducing" operating system, and by and large, it has failed. In order to really understand the importance of Windows 7, we've got to go back in time a bit and take the whole of Microsoft's work into account. For those of you old enough to remember Y2K and that underground bunker you built in order to stay safe, you're probably old enough to remember Windows ME. It's almost impossible... Read more...
Although the worldwide economy may be shrinking, our needs as consumers to store large amounts of data continues to grow at a breakneck pace. Whereas only a few years ago it was uncommon for most PC users to have more than just a few digital images or media files, today virtually every aspect of our lives has some sort of digital component. Our mobile phones now take pictures, shoot video, record audio and handle e-mail. it seems like everyone has a vast MP3 collection. We all create numerous documents, presentations, etc. And high-resolution, multi-megapixel digital cameras are prolific--and all that data has to go somewhere, if you want to save it, that is.While consumers have a seemingly... Read more...
As digital media increases in popularity, so will the demand for larger storage options, whether in the form of increased hard drives capacities or through the use of expandable network storage devices.  The last time we broached the topic of NAS was with our article on two impressive SOHO units from QNAP.  While not industrial strength solutions, both QNAP models offered a balance of hardware and software features that made them excellent solutions for both home and small business users.  However, with the TS-101 being a single drive solution and the TS-201 being a two-drive option, they are limited when it comes to ease of expansion and growth in a user's storage needs. ... Read more...
DirectX 10 (DX10) has been one of the hottest topics for discussion and news coverage since the first DX10 compliant hardware appeared in the second half of last year. Touted as the biggest milestone in games development since programmable shaders were introduced with DirectX 8, nearly seven years ago, DX10 has generated a lot of buzz. Unlike the older versions of DirectX which were each built on top of the previous version, DirectX 10 is a completely new beast. With Windows Vista, Microsoft fundamentally changed the way drivers are designed, and they also completely redesigned DirectX from the ground up. Before DirectX 10, each new version of DirectX was an incremental improvement over the previous... Read more...
When going to a party, it's customary to not show up empty handed.  Depending on the type of party, a cake, pastries, a bottle of wine or maybe even your favorite beer are all acceptable items to bring as a gesture to the host, thanking them for the invitation.  When it comes to a LAN party, however, the term 'customary' can take on a totally different meaning. With LAN Parties, it's more about the guests getting to show off their system's performance, their superior gaming skills or the beauty of their custom built dream machines.  Yes, there may be an overdose of caffeine related items, but in the end, it's all about bragging rights... Read more...
There are only a select few PC enthusiasts who like to show off their hardware more than gamers do. With all the questing, spying, and fragging going on, they still find the time to appreciate the machine that grants them such pleasure. As you know though, these days, any old box just won't do. No; something a little flashier than the mundane is needed, especially if you're headed to a big LAN Party. While we've reviewed some great cases over the years here at HotHardware, producing a case that receives a gamer's approval has it's own set of special requirements. At the very least, it needs to look cool, and a single intake fan at the front isn't going to... Read more...
Thermaltake is a company that offers a wide variety of products for custom computer builders. Whether you are looking for specialized cooling solutions, such as an active hard drive cooler, a water cooling kit or a quality CPU cooler like the Golden Orb II we recently reviewed, Thermaltake has an answer.  Top that off with Multifunction displays, USB hard drive enclosures, and top of the line chassis, and you'll find that Thermaltake has a multitude of products available to help give your rig a personal touch. The Tai Chi Aluminum Extrusion Case is a new addition to Thermaltake's line of enclosures.  Built out of extruded aluminum, this tower has looks that kill, tons of room and it... Read more...
Whether you're a serious overclocker or simply want a quiet and cool running system, choosing a quality CPU cooler is crucial.  There is no shortage of choices available, making the decision factor a daunting task for some, but taking the time to research the right cooler can result in a positive long term experience. Some coolers specialize in specific tasks, such as low noise or extreme cooling regardless of sound, while others tackle both issues in a single design.  One such cooler that fits virtually any situation is Thermaltake's Golden Orb II.  The Golden Orb II is a behemoth of a cooler that mounts an oversized blue LED fan on a hefty chunk of copper.  Designed to support... Read more...
As the old saying goes, "Times are a changing".  When the personal computer first caught on, word processing and text based gaming was all the rage, and then there was this thing called the "Internet" on the rise.  Today, the Internet is at the center of the technological universe and the PC has become a powerful tool commonly used in everyday life.  Today's PCs have a myriad of uses from running the latest games to controlling all of the electrical components in our homes.  The possibilities available to the average consumer are now only limited by imagination and budget. One of the more popular, and natural progressions for the PC is in the Home Theater. ... Read more...
One of the major up and comers in the video card industry is HIS.  In recent months, HIS has garnered some attention with several impressive additions to their product line.  They put a major emphasis on overclocking, cooling and stability, while providing competitive performance.  With such innovations as oversized, yet quiet cooling solutions and the ability to monitor and throttle fan speeds based on temperature, HIS is catering to enthusiasts who don't like to compromise. Today, we are going to take a look at the HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo 256MB PCIe Video Card.  Building on their experience with previous IceQ models, HIS introduces something new with this product, namely... Read more...
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