DIY

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...
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...
If you're a proponent of the desktop, don't worry, the sky isn't falling on your form factor. Yes, we've read the same reports you have, the ones pointing out how traditional PC sales are shrinking in the wake of a mobile revolution that has consumers turning to tablets and smartphones for surfing the web and logging into Facebook. There's no denying mobile is sexy right now, but when it comes to getting work done and playing games with more depth than Angry Birds, desktops haven't lost their swagger. Desktops are evolving, however, and getting smaller and less intrusive. Zotac is a company that's... Read more...
Zotac has been making ultra-small form factor systems for quite a while now. You can check out a number of our reviews of various ZBox systems right here. If you read those previous reviews, you’ll notice that most of the systems have been built around low-power platforms like AMD’s E-Series APUs or Intel’s Atom processors. With its latest generations of mini-PC’s, however, Zotac has been able to crank things up a few notches. With some recently released ZBoxes, Zotac has managed to squeeze in Intel Core-series processors, which put the diminutive systems into an entirely... Read more...
One of the perks of working at a place like HotHardware is that we have access to some of the hottest hardware around. So when I decided to dive into Windows 8 head-first a few months ago, I thought I’d give the OS as much breathing room as possible and install it on a freshly built, ultra high-end rig. Building myself a second system for Windows 8 while tweaking and getting accustomed to the OS’s new interface, and whatever other quirks popped up, would help me remain semi-productive before making the actual transition to the new machine. Before I show you the hardware I... Read more...
Let's dispense with an emerging myth right now: The desktop isn't dead. Far from it. Rather, the desktop is evolving, and this is an exciting time to be a technophile. The advancements we've seen in just the past 12 months are nothing short of remarkable. Solid state drives (SSDs) are getting faster and cheaper, finally making for a viable alternative to the mechanical hard drive that has ruled the desktop for so long. Memory kits are bigger than ever, USB 3.0 is now commonplace, and architectures like Intel's Ivy Bridge have taken processor and integrated graphics performance to whole new levels.... Read more...
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