Small Form Factor

As much as we like piecing together formidable desktop systems crammed full of high end hardware, the future of PC gaming for many mainstream users may lie in more compact setups. Certainly there's been a push to get PC players out of a dank basement and into the living room with Steam Machines and similar console-sized PCs. However, Dell's Alienware division is hoping to take things to the next level with its pint sized Alpha R2 system, an ultra small form factor (SFF) gaming desktop. We have to use the world "desktop" carefully here because the Alpha R2, like its predecessor, is more of a "shelf-top"... Read more...
PC enthusiasts and hardcore gamers are passionate about their hardware. We all lust after expensive, high-performance CPUs, GPUs, monstrous RAM kits, and ultra-fast solid state storage devices. But for many of us, top of the line PC components may be overkill, and in some situations, a more mainstream rig will do just fine. That’s the crux of the message AMD has been trying to get across for quite some time with its mainstream APU line-up. Sure, you could build a high-performance rig with a top of the line processor and beefy discrete GPU, but why spend the money if you don’t have to? To that end,... Read more...
The last time we looked at Dell's Alienware X51 series of console-sized gaming PCs was back in mid-2013. Back then we were working with Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core Series processors and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs based on their Kepler graphics core. Our man Paul, frankly, was spouting off a bit wildly about aliens serving humans for dinner and, well, let's just say it made for interesting reading. But that was so 2013, and like anything in life, seasons change and architectures evolve. Paul is still nuttier than a fruit cake but that's a different story all together, so we'll... 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...
Google's Chrome OS is an open source operating system that is designed to offer fast, simple, and secure computing for connected devices.  That's not to say the Chrome operating system can't function offline, but connected to the cloud is where users can harness the full power of Google's cloud services and storage infrastructure.  To date, we've shown you a few versions of chromebooks, like the Acer C720 Chromebook and Google's own Chromebook Pixel.  Today, however, we have a look at the very first "official" Chromebox to hit the market and it comes to us by way of ASUS. The ASUS... Read more...
Remember the Twilight Zone episode in which a race of 9-foot aliens descended upon Earth with seemingly benign intentions? They shared advanced technologies with the human race and appeared to live by a code outlined in a book that U.S. government cryptographers figured out was titled, "To Serve Man." The horrifying reveal at the end of the episode was that it's actually a cookbook, lending a whole new perspective to its contents and what those space invaders were really up to the whole time. The point being here, is that things aren't always what they appear to be. And so it is with Dell's Alienware... Read more...
Building a small form factor gaming PC is a tricky business. For one thing, there simply isn’t enough room to fit as many components as you would put in a mid- or full-size gaming PC. Multiple graphics cards aren’t likely, and oversized power supplies (not to mention CPU heatsinks) usually present major challenges. The other issue is the heat: with space at a premium, good airflow becomes even more important, but all the harder to preserve. And don’t expect your customers to give you leeway on performance, looks, or (and this might be the toughest target of all) noise. But it’s... Read more...
Apple's Mac mini hadn't seen a substantial update for about a year, but with Intel's second generation Core processor family arriving in 2011, it was only a matter of time before one of those chips found favor with Apple's tiniest desktop. The Mac mini design really hasn't changed in the year or so it took the folks in Cupertino to swap out the Core 2 Duo for Intel's new Core i line of processors. In terms of volume and dimension, it's almost exactly the same as the 2010 edition, but with a major addition--that port between the HDMI socket and those four USB 2.0 ports.... Read more...
Asus is out to prove that big things really do come in small packages with its EeeBox PC EB1501P. This nettop offers an array of I/O ports as well as a slot-load optical disc drive and the ability to play content from your own media library in Full HD. Thanks to USB 3.0, the EeeBox PC EB1501P also supports fast transfers of high definition content as well as other large files from external storage. Powered by Intel's energy efficient Atom processor, the EeeBox PC EB1501P uses up to 70 percent less energy than a traditional desktop PC. To ensure you're not trading too much performance for power... Read more...
  When building or buying a desktop gaming system, enthusiasts don't normally put much thought into how much it's going to weigh, or how hard it will be to carry around when attending a LAN party. Notebook and netbook end users are much more weight-conscious consumers than are folks looking at desktops, obviously.  And in the case of a gaming desktop, users tend to opt for power over form factor.  Then the day comes that you decide to bring the system to someone's house, or to a hotel ballroom, for a LAN party. That's when you realize your desktop, in... Read more...
We have been talking about NVIDIA's Ion since late last year when news first broke of the ultra small form factor platform. At the time, NVIDIA's tiny Atom-powered prototype system wasn't even called Ion yet, but images of the miniscule motherboard that would eventually be used in the reference platform had already surfaced and the community was buzzing with interest. One of the major concerns with most netbooks and nettops was their relatively weak integrated graphics solutions, and Ion would potentially address that concern.Around the time when Ion was first announced, there was some scuttlebutt... Read more...
Asus certainly made a splash this year with their line of ultra-light, ultra-affordable Eee PC notebooks and they've been fleshing out the product line ever since with a wealth of new offerings, as the company continues to milk the product's successful brand name recognition for all it's worth.  Since their initial release we've seen a number of different notebook-based Eee PC products come to market, including machines pre-loaded with either Windows XP or Linux operating systems.  In addition, Asus has even brought out larger models, with the 10" display... Read more...
Synopsis:  In some respects, when we think about what the capabilities of a $349 desktop system should be like, we can't help but be impressed what Asus has achieved and the overall value of the Eee Box.  What's more impressive though is the Eee Box's absolutely tiny form-factor and completely miserly power consumption.  The original Eee PC notebook cultivated quite an enthusiastic following in the marketplace and we think the Eee Box is likely to as well.Our more detailed full review can be found here at HotHardware:https://hothardware.com/Articles/Asus_Eee_Box_B202_Desktop_System/... Read more...