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.

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 been at the forefront of this evolution by offering up a constantly-expanding line of small form... 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 different performance category. The latest Zotac ZBox to hit the lab is the ZBox Nano ID65... 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 used for the build and discuss some of the issues that I had to contend with along the way, I want to... 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. These and other advancements are what make Intel's latest desktop evolution possible. The "Intel... Read more...
In addition to building graphics cards, Zotac is one of only a handful companies to fully embrace small form factor and home theater systems. Whether you want to build something yourself from the ground up, quickly assemble a barebones rig, or pick up a fully built HTPC, Zotac has you covered. The company offers a wide array of mini-ITX motherboards based on many modern chipsets (including the just released Z77) and barebones ZBOX systems for the DIY Crowd, along with full SFF systems that need nothing but an OS. Over the last couple of years, Zotac has introduced a number of ultra small ZBOX systems that have seemingly gotten smaller and smaller with each new generation. The latest model... Read more...
A new era of home entertainment is upon us. If you think about how you watch TV today versus 10 or even five years ago, it's probably a completely different experience. Nearly everything is served up in high definition, digital video recorders (DVRs) are now the norm and not the exception, and streaming services are making a big push to be the primary way in which you view content traditionally served up by cable and satellite TV. Unless you live way out in the boonies, you're probably rocking a broadband Internet connection, which is your gateway to any number of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and so forth. With so much online content to choose from, you could... Read more...
Alright, we'll come right out and gush a little bit. Our cynical, sometimes overly-critical opinions can occasionally be tempered by momentary flashes of greatness. We see a lot of high-end (and low-end) gear around here, so after a while, you can't stop your eyeballs from glossing over and a yawn from escaping from the cranium. However, when Maingear computers first stepped out with their high-end SHIFT line of gaming and workstation PCs, we took note and were genuinely impressed; a bit of rarefied air if you will.  It wasn't so much the component selection that stood out, but it was the excellent build quality and the SHIFT's 90-degree rotated layout... Read more...
Zotac is one of a select few companies that have fully embraced the ultra-small form factor and home theater PC markets. Although they’re also known for producing custom, high-end graphics cards, and an array of motherboards, which include a smorgasbord or mini-ITX options, Zotac’s Zbox and Mag lines of mini PCs are quite diverse. A quick jaunt to their website reveals over 30 ultra small form factor designs that leverage technology from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and even VIA. What’s also interesting about Zotac’s mini-PCs are their extensive feature sets. Zotac seemingly crams as many features into a small space as physically possible. If you need proof, look no further than... Read more...
We just recently ran a contest on HotHardware in which we planned to give away a high-end, custom-built gaming system (built by yours truly), to one lucky reader who came up with a creative name for our weekly video podcast. The parts for the system were as follows… CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition   Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight   Motherboard: Asus CrossHair IV Formula   Graphics: Asus EAH6870   Sound: Asus Xonar D2X   RAM: 4GB OCZ DDR-1333   SSD: WD Silicon Edge Blue 64GB   HD: WD Caviar Black 2TB   PSU: OCZ 850W Z-Series   Optical: Asus Blu-Ray Drive   Case: CoolerMaster HAF 912   Audio: Psyko 5.1 PC Gaming Headset  ... Read more...
Nettops are not nearly as popular as their mobile contemporaries, i.e. netbooks, arguably due to the lack of any significant horsepower within the tiny machines. Up until now, most nettops have been good for little more than basic Office duties, Web surfing, and occasional 720p (max) movie playback. There's a fine line that has to be walked with a nettop; there's far too little space to shove a Core i3 or better CPU in there, and besides, companies are trying to keep pricing at reasonable levels. Thus, nettops have largely been left with one main processor option: Intel's Atom family. If you've read a few of our past netbook reviews, you may have noticed that we've been somewhat... Read more...
Building a Home Theater PC is often times a much better option for enabling your entertainment center for various forms of digital media playback capability.  Rather than stepping up to additional discrete components, like a stand-alone Blu-ray, DVD or CD player, why not infuse your living room entertainment center with real intelligence and multimedia muscle and build an HTPC (Home Theater PC)?  In this video, we'll give you some suggestions on a few component selection options for building an HTPC, as well as a high-level overview of its assembly and a few key design points to look out for.  We'll then of course demo our systems for you to show you what you can do with an HTPC. ... Read more...
When it comes time for a new rig, there are those who want the power of a full-sized system but without the footprint of a mid or full sized case.  Today, we're going to take a look at a barebones kit that promises full-sized performance in a footprint no bigger than a shoebox.  Enter the Shuttle SDXi Barebones Kit. The SDXi Barebone kit comes with support for the latest Intel CPUs, up to 8GB of DDR2 RAM, RAID and it is backed by some seriously good looks.  On the outside is a custom flamed-out paint job akin to a custom car, while the inside provides the muscle to rival that of a full-sized equivalent.  With the SDXI Barebones kit, Shuttle aims to deliver performance, good looks and... Read more...
Whether you are contemplating building a standard desktop, multimedia PC or that killer gaming rig you've always wanted, one of the biggest things to consider today is noise.  There is a major shift in thinking lately, as a growing number of users, and companies alike, are tackling the problem of ambient noise in the quest for a quieter PC.  With video cards and CPUs increasing in clock speeds, so has the heat they generate, which often has stock coolers running faster and louder than they ever have before.  To combat this issue, we've seen some creative approaches to the noise problem. With regards to video card cooling, we've seen custom two slot coolers as well as innovative... Read more...
Over the years, we've evaluated multiple versions of Asetek's famed Vapochill vapor phase-change cooling system. In fact, our first experience with a Vapochill dates all the way back to June of 2000. The first Vapochill we evaluated hardly resembles today's more refined models, however. Gone is the standard beige case, replaced with a custom enclosure that's available in multiple colors, and with windowed side panels. Modern Vapochills still use compressors, of course, but the units have been upgraded and the refrigerant used is far more efficient. The latest iteration of Asetek's Vapochill that we'll be taking a look at here, the Vapochill XE II, is a conglomeration of the features offered by... Read more...
Prev 1 2 3 Next