Desktops

All in one systems are all about balance.  Attempting to cram an entire PC’s worth of components into the back of what amounts to a slightly wider-than-normal display can be an iffy proposition. Pare down the specifications too much and you wind up with a limp machine that’s obsolete by the time you get it. Jam in too many high-performance components and the price skyrockets to a point that you wonder if a different form factor might have been a better option, not to mention the additional thermal and acoustic concerns. Lenovo’s B Series all in one systems are decidedly mid-range in both... Read more...
Alienware's new Area 51 gaming desktop PC arrived late last year and it certainly turned heads, including ours, due to its somewhat radical design. Sure, we've seen some wild chassis designs out of Dell's Alienware gaming PC division in the past, but their new, redesigned Area 51 machine really broke the mold. In fact, if you're stuck on the old gray or black box design of most legacy systems, the "Triad" chassis of the new Area 51 may be too much of a departure for you to wrap your head around. We think, with a little investigation into the mechanical engineering and simple physics of the... Read more...
Valve’s Steam Machine was all the rage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, but as we enter 2015, the SteamOS gaming platform (and Valve’s tantalizing Steam Controller) are still works in progress. SteamOS hasn’t been written off, but Dell, which was one of the first PC makers to build a custom console-sized system for SteamOS, isn’t waiting around. Its Alienware gaming brand launched the Alienware Alpha, which is meant to be your next (or your first) living room gaming PC. The Alienware Alpha plugs the holes left by Valve with Microsoft hardware and software and a simple 10-ft UI developed in house.... Read more...
We have seen a rapid influx of entry-level to enthusiast-class gaming systems and hardware over the last few months. The Maingear Rush we recently evaluated targets the most demanding PC users with its twin AMD Radeon R9 295X2 (8GB DDR5) video cards, killer Intel i7-4960X processor and fast storage. Weighing in at a hefty $8,393 as configured though, the Maingear Rush might offer a ton of performance, but you've got to pay to play. Not everyone can afford a Lamborghini of a PC gaming system, and with that in mind, Lenovo has crafted a solution that offers a considerable... Read more...
Welcome to the era of dual-mode devices, where the mantra "bigger is better" rules the day. Need an example? Take smartphones -- Samsung's been serving up large size handsets for the past several years, some of which are so big that it warranted creating a brand new category. Even Apple jumped on the big device bandwagon with the recent launch of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Do you know what you end up with if you take that same mantra and apply it to PCs? You get "Dell's XPS 18 Portable All-in-One Desktop with Touch," a hybrid system that turns a giant sized Windows 8.1... Read more...
We’ve seen our share of obscenely tricked-out systems as of late; rigs like the Maingear Rush and Epic Rush, the iBuypower Chimera 4SE FX Ultimate, and the Falcon Northwest Tiki (among others) are bursting at the seams with the hottest hardware, but of course, those systems typically have commensurate price tags. None of the above cost less than $2,700, and the Maingear Rush drains the pocketbook at a whopping $8,393 as configured. Digital Storm’s latest offering, the Vanquish II, take a completely different approach. It still has excellent components inside, but none... Read more...
When we reviewed the Maingear Epic Rush a few months ago, we found its performance jaw-dropping, and thus we expected the same out of its sibling, the Maingear Rush. However, these are different systems with different configurations on board. For instance, they have different CPUs--the Rush we're testing today has a newer, more powerful GPU configuration, and Maingear approached storage on the two quite differently as well. What both systems definitely do share is high performance and impeccable build quality. The Maingear Rush is a top-shelf system with killer components; there... Read more...
We've all heard the phrase "Go big or go home," but how about "Go wide or go home?" The latter is the message Lenovo is sending with its B750 All-in-One Desktop PC, which offers a spacious and brilliant 29-inch super-widescreen In-Plane Switching (IPS) display to play with. It has a Full HD 2560x1080 resolution, which works out to a 21:9 aspect ratio with copious horizontal screen estate to maneuver your documents and windows. It's also adept at watching movies, as the aspect ratio is very close to the true value of 64:27, allowing for little or no discernible black bars. Oddly enough, Lenovo... Read more...
The Sony VAIO Tap 21 is a member of a small, but growing, breed of new PCs that straddles a line between traditional all-in-one desktops and tablets. The VAIO Tap 21’s specifications read like many modern desktop systems, and include an Intel Core i7 processor, hybrid storage, a decent amount of memory and full-blown Windows 8. But the machine is also surprisingly svelte, it’s got a full HD, multi-touch screen and it packs an integrated battery that gives users the ability to simply pick up the system and go. Of course, the VAIO Tap 21’s physical dimensions prevent it... Read more...
Although the market for them is relatively small, we love to check out elaborate, no-holds-barred gaming PCs from time to time--you know, the kind of system that costs about the same amount as a serviceable used car. As fun as it is to check out an ultra high-end gaming rig, we also do it to gauge the user experience and to see just how much better it is (or isn't) versus a mainstream PC. But how great is the experience, really?  The answer needs to be darn near perfection, because – let’s face it – a midrange gaming desktop is going to give you a... Read more...
iBuypower is offering an AMD-based system in its Chimera 4SE line, which is designed to give users serious gaming performance without a wallet-busting price tag. The Chimera is part of iBuypower’s Signature Series, which includes iBuypower’s highest-priced and most powerful gaming systems, like the Revolt and Valkyrie. So, what makes a desktop PC a Chimera 4SE? The chassis, for one thing. The Chimera has a custom chassis with unique artwork that makes the Chimera easily identifiable. (We talk more about the chassis on the next page.) Overclocking is another Chimera feature.... Read more...
If we asked you to name five gaming PC manufacturers, Lenovo probably wouldn't make the list. No other company in the world ships more PCs than Lenovo, but of those machines, relatively few are dedicated gaming boxes. Traditionally, Lenovo has focused its efforts on business class desktops and laptops, though the company is known to play in performance waters on occasion, most notably with its IdeaCentre K Series of high-end towers. These aren't hardcore gaming boxes like the boutique builders offer, however, so there's room in Lenovo's lineup to add a dedicated line of systems built exclusively... Read more...
It's hard to believe there's a full fledged system packed inside Apple's slim and sexy iMac chassis. It was roughly a year ago when Apple revamped its all-in-one line, tasking the company's engineers to flatten the design as much as possible without sacrificing performance. What emerged was a sleek display measuring just 5mm at its edge with up to 40 percent less volume than the previous generation. It was such a radical design change that Apple had to abandon traditional welding methods in favor of a process called friction-stir welding, which combines friction-generated heat and pressure to force... Read more...
Unless you’re a gamer or a content-creation professional that requires a lot of computing horsepower, the latest crop of All In One PCs probably seem very attractive. AIOs tend to be quite the lookers, with sleek lines, large and crisp displays, touch capabilities--and of course, a small footprint. We’re starting to see AIOs with better and better specifications too, and although they won’t be your choice of machine for pwning n00bs just yet, products like the Dell XPS 27 Touch offer very solid specifications in addition to a premium user experience and lots of... Read more...
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