DIY Builds

As a kid, if you liked to tear things apart just to see what made them tick and didn't worry about being able to put things back together later, this section is for you. Anybody with a screwdriver, some zip ties and a little bit of know-how can build a custom enthusiast gaming PC. Here we'll offer you that all important know-how, skill set and insight, along with some other cool project-based stuff, from DIY Amigas to retro gaming systems built on maker platforms like Raspberry Pi and even 3D Printers.

Although it has been over three decades since the first Commodore Amigas were originally released, a fan base for the beloved systems is still going strong. Of course, the Amiga install base is a small fraction of what it was during the machine’s heyday, but the community supporting the Amiga is still vibrant and very much alive. In fact, the Amiga community – and many other retro-computing communities for that matter -- seems to be more active now that it has been in years, and a number of exciting new hardware projects have cropped up or hit major milestones in recent weeks. Two relatively... Read more...
The Commodore 64 holds a Guinness World record as the highest-selling single computer model of all time. After its initial release in August 1982, the C64 went on to sell millions of units – outselling all other popular 8-bit machines at the time, including the Apple II. For many long-time technology geeks, including me, the Commodore 64 was the first personal computer they ever owned. So, it’s no surprise that all these years later, the machine still hold a special place in our hearts. It is with that in mind, along with knowing how popular our Building An Amiga Emulator article was,... Read more...
Dave Haynie, one of the chief engineers that worked on the Amiga back in its heyday, put it best when he said, “Amiga users make Macintosh users look like PC users”, in the Viva Amiga documentary that was released early this year. Those of us that were around when the Amiga initially debuted knew Commodore had something special on its hands. At the time of its launch, the Amiga was the most advanced personal computer money could buy – bar none. It offered multimedia features that were unmatched for many years, it was affordably priced (relatively speaking), and was the first personal computer with... Read more...
Buying a shiny new car is an easy way to get the latest in-car technologies, but it’s not the most economical. I've had my fair share of new car purchases in the last decade – a 2008 Chevy HHR SS, 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE, 2014 Mazda 5 Sport and a 2015 Nissan Leaf – and driven hundreds of press cars featuring the latest technologies and infotainment systems. Despite new cars being technically superior on paper, the average age of vehicles on the road in 2016 was 11.6 years old, according to IHS Markit. We’ve seen substantial upgrades to the car stereo and infotainment systems in the last decade,... Read more...
Retro gaming made a major resurgence this past holiday season, with the release of Nintendo’s ultra-hyped NES Classic, a scaled down clone of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Out of the box, the NES Classic has thirty preloaded game titles, though some recent hacks exposed a method for uploading more if you're willing to mess with it. That's all well and good, but if you weren’t able to get your hands on one this past holiday season -- like the majority of people -- getting your retro-gaming fix isn't happening any time soon, unless you fork out an unreasonable sum, paying hundreds to... Read more...
As longtime enthusiasts, we tend to get most excited for the latest, big, bad, benchmark-busting specimens of PC hardware to hit the lab. However, there’s something about ultra-small form factor devices that’s intriguing as well. The focus on power efficiency and performance-per-watt from virtually all semi-conductor manufacturers over the last few years has enabled some pretty impressive hardware in fairly tiny form factors, and it’s now possible to have a fully-functional – and rather quick – desktop PC that literally fits in the palm of your hand.Take the Gigabyte Brix S (model number BSi5HT-6200)... Read more...
3D printers have come a long way since our first round-up review in 2012. This exciting technology has created everything from toys to running shoes, to prostheses for amputees. Is 3D printing, however, practical in a home office or in a classroom use case? The New Matter MOD-t 3D printer claims to be the most user-friendly printer ever and is supposedly “designed for 3D printing beginners and enthusiasts alike.” Is this device, however, something that truly belongs in your home office or a teacher’s classroom? Naturally, that's what we're here to find out. First, what is 3D printing and how is... Read more...
Although updated sales figures haven’t yet been released, and some initial reviews were less than stellar, if the movie is any indicator, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront is poised to be a resounding success in the gaming community. And with an expansion pack inbound, that will likely feature content that ties in with the Force Awakens, it’ll probably continue that success for quite a while. AMD has been offering free copies of Star Wars Battlefront to new buyers of Radeon Fury graphics cards since mid-November 2015 and will continue to do so through the end of this month. But with... Read more...
We recently set out to design a mini desktop computer with the wildly popular Raspberry Pi single board computer. The Raspberry Pi is a Linux-driven, ARM processor-based micro computer that is known for its low cost and small size. People use the device for a variety of projects, from micro-servers to low cost media players. Basically, our goal was to turn what is currently one of the cheapest bare-bones computer boards  into a fully enclosed mini desktop computer that could be taken anywhere without the need for cabling or setup. One of the high level goals of this project was also to learn... Read more...
As Intel (and other chip makers) have been able to shrink its processors, integrate more features, and reduce power requirements over the years, manufacturers have been able to fit them into smaller and smaller form factors. That means notebooks and tablets have gotten thinner, lighter, faster and more portable over the years, of course, but it also means that desktop systems no longer need to be big boxes crammed with numerous components and cooling hardware. In some ways, Intel’s NUC series of products are the epitome of this dynamic. Intel’s NUC systems are ultra-small form factor systems that... Read more...
It's official, folks -- we can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the... Read more...
The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products. Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it. It’s small. It’s... Read more...
These are the days of form factors. The PC market is changing rapidly as tablets supplant some laptops, new players such as the Chromebook disrupt the old WIntel model, and innovations in processors and graphics allow for ever-smaller PCs such as Intel’s NUC. Here’s a new one for you: a tiny NUC-style PC that doubles as a video projector. It's an interesting combination and that’s we have for you today with the Gigabyte Brix Projector. The little PC ships as a barebones unit without storage or memory, but it actually has some solid specs under that diminutive hood and capabilities... Read more...
Mini PCs are big business these days, whether you consider devices like Valve's Steambox initiative, ASUS' Chromebox, Zotac's ZBox line or Intel's own NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PC. In fact, Intel has gone on record, projecting mini PCs like this have shipped over a million units in 2013 and are projected for strong growth this year as well.  So what's the attraction? Obviously there are a number of use cases for this class of device, whether it be as a home theater PC, a strategically placed and aesthetically pleasing family or office PC or even as an arguably (or not) more versatile... Read more...
1 2 3 Next