Reviews Of Desktop PCs, DIY PC Builds, All-In-Ones, And Small Form Factor PCs

In-depth product reviews and news of Computer Desktops, DIY PC Builds, All-In-One PCs, and Small Form Factor PCs. If it crunches numbers, pushes pixels, throws down the frag or provides a digital canvass for content creation, you'll find it there.

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 molecules from two separate aluminum surfaces to mingle with one another. It's a process commonly... Read more...
Dell has updated its Alienware series of gaming notebooks with the refreshed Alienware 18, and what an update it is. In addition to a new generation of hardware, with both Intel's Haswell and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780M rumbling under the hood, Alienware has completely redesigned the look of the chassis, keyboard, and touchpad, all of which we’ll examine more closely in just a moment. One thing that has definitely not changed from the previous generation Alienware notebooks is the size and weight of these monsters, but of course, all that weight belies components built for serious gaming firepower. We'll dig in a little deeper on the pages ahead, but for now here’s a quick... 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 X51 R2, a small form factor (SFF) gaming PC in console digs. It's shaped similar to Microsoft's... 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 not a lost cause, especially with the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan delivering so much power (and... Read more...
We’ll be taking a somewhat different two-tiered approach with our coverage of AMD’s new Trinity-based APUs for desktop systems today. AMD is lifting the veil on their new product line-up, in addition to graphics performance and power consumption, but we can’t quite give you the full monty just yet, due to a new multi-tiered launch approach AMD decided to take with these products. If you want to see how well AMD’s latest desktop APUs overclock, how their processor cores perform, or how they’re priced, you’re going to have to stop by in a few more days. For now though, we’ve got graphics performance and power consumption characteristics to talk about and... Read more...
Apple's Mountain Lion operating system has been a long time coming. Apple first teased the "200 new features" represented in OS X 10.8 back in June, and here we are in August with well over three million copies already downloaded. According to Apple, the launch of Mountain Lion is its most successful OS X launch ever. It's also interesting for another reason: it's the first Mac desktop OS ever to not ship on a disc or USB flash drive from the start. It's only available as a ~4.34GB download, which you could argue alienates OS X users who don't have access to a reliable broadband connection, but that's a discussion for another day. Of course, you could always head to an Apple Store,... Read more...
When we first took a look at the ASRock Vision 3D 137B with NVIDIA 3DTV Play last year, we were quite impressed with the machine. It offered excellent all-around performance for a system in its class and had an extensive feature set that included Blu-Ray and 3D video playback capabilities, all wrapped up in what we considered to be an attractive enclosure. So, when ASRock came to us with an updated model outfitted with a newer CPU, GPU, and other components, we were eager to check it out. Once it arrived we were pleased to see ASRock hadn’t messed around with the system’s aesthetics and after prepping it with an OS and various other apps, the system took residence in our home... Read more...
One of the things we like about AVADirect is the extensive catalog of off-the-shelf parts to choose from. In fact, a major advantage of shopping from a boutique system builder as opposed to a bulk OEM is the availability of name brand hardware you'd otherwise buy from Newegg, or wherever it is you purchase your components, when rolling your own rig. But what's somewhat unique to AVADirect is the smorgasbord of brands and models to choose from. It's like being a kid-geek in a candy store. Just browsing AVADirect's selection of tower cases, for example, you'll find that nearly two dozen manufacturers are represented, each one offering several models. Antec alone accounts for 27 tower cases on AVADirect's... Read more...
Don't let the doomsayers sell you on the idea that the desktop PC is dead. Far from it, desktops are just now entering their heyday with blazing fast multi-core processors, gobs of RAM, high definition output, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, HDMI connectivity, wireless input devices, and everything else you might find on a modern day system. No, desktops aren't dying; if anything, they're finding new ways of securing a permanent spot in your living room, your office, your dorm room, and even places like your kitchen counter or man cave. All of these areas are places all-in-one (AIO) PCs have been known to dwell. The AIO form factor isn't new by any means, but it's only recently begun to make a broad market... Read more...
Technology moves at a breakneck pace. No one is disputing that. And it feels like just yesterday that we evaluated the Asus 2400ET, a touch-enabled All-In-One desktop that had high-end specifications and a $1,250 price tag to match. Turns out, that was nearly four months ago, and if you aren't interested in a touch panel, a Core i5 processor, and don't have deep pockets, perhaps the scaled-back ET2011 we'll be showing you here is worth consideration. This is a somewhat unique product in the Asus Eee Top ET2011 AIO line up, relying on AMD's Fusion Brazos E-350 APU in lieu of a more traditional desktop processor. In the notebook world, we've been duly impressed with AMD's Fusion... Read more...
As the final days of summer wind down, most people will find themselves in one of two situations. Either you're gearing up to head back to school, or it's life as usual, only with worse weather right around the corner. It doesn't matter which category you fall into, because either way, there's a good chance you'll be spending less time outside grilling steaks and squandering more of your free moments inside your home or dorm, sheltered from the inclement weather, sitting behind a PC. If you're ready for a new rig to last until next summer (and beyond), it's time to make a decision: Do you play the part of Polly Prudence and pick up a modest machine that's good enough to surf the Web and... 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. It's a Thunderbolt port, a lightning-fast interconnect jointly designed with Intel. With the addition... Read more...
Boutique, ultra high-end, desktop and laptop gaming systems are sexy, but they aren't where OEMs make the majority of their money. More modest systems, like the one we'll show you here, drive bulk purchases; today we're reviewing Asus' ET2400IGTS. It's one of the nicer all-in-one systems Asus manufactures and it ships with a number of interesting options. Systems like the ET2400 sell best when the package hits a chord with every day consumers—including those that might call themselves casual gamers, movie buffs, or audio enthusiasts. The fact that these configurations all include monitors can be a benefit when upselling customers on better quality displays, but can also drag on those... Read more...
Although Home Theater PCs have been around for quite some time, they are still somewhat tough to define. For some, the term HTPC conjures up images of an ultra small form factor, low-power system that will be used for nothing more than accessing multimedia files. But for others an HTPC is more akin to a hardcore piece of A/V and entertainment equipment that can do it all—play back virtually any file type, browse the web, play games at 1080p resolutions—you name it. The muddled state of the HTPC market is compounded further by OEMs and DIYers as well. Pre-Built home theater PCs are as varied as can be; compare the diminutive and affordable Zotac ZBox AD03 to something like an extravagant... Read more...
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