Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Design

 

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Samsung played a little trick on me when I reviewed the Samsung Series 5 earlier this year. You see, I barely finished my review of it when – surprise! – Samsung announced the new Series 5 550.
 
With that said, I can forgive them. They sent me the new model to review as well. It is a complete redesign both inside and out. The updated exterior is built with better quality materials and is only available in silver instead of your choice of white or black. 
 
Inside, Samsung has thrown Atom aside and replaced it with an Intel Celeron 867. This part uses the Sandy Bridge architecture and offers two cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. It, of course, lacks the Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features found in some Core series products.
 
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The rest of the laptop is similar to the previous model. The display size is the same and the hard drive is still a 16GB SSD instead of a standard mechanical hard drive. Going with a Sandy Bridge part has also upgraded the graphics, so the pathetic GMA 3150 found in the previous Chromebooks has been replaced with Intel HD, albeit a low-power version with a base clock of 350 MHz and a maximum clock of 1 GHz.
 
These improvements have resulted in a price adjustment that brings the new Series 5 back in line with the debut price of the original. You can expect to pay $450 for the Wi-Fi model or $550 for the 3G version. Consumers who opt for the 3G version receive 2 years of free service from Verizon, but the data cap is a strict 100MB per month. That’s enough for occasional web browsing but not enough for serious use. 
 
Increasing the price puts the Samsung Series 5 back in competition with budget ultraportables like the ASUS 1225B and the Lenovo X130e. Can the Chromebook and Chrome OS hold up against such competitors? Let’s find out.
 
Author:
Manufacturer: Quakecon

Introduction, expert discussion panels, hardware workshop

Introduction

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The final day of Quakecon 2012 featured more expert discussion panels from leaders in the gaming industry about the latest games people at Quakecon were excited about like Dishonored, Halo 4, and Borderlands 2 to name a few. We also hosted our annual hardware workshop and gave away more than $30,000 worth of hardware and prizes to over 2,000 workshop attendees!

 

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The BYOC area and exhibit hall also reached capacity for Quakecon attendees to see the semi-finals for the annual Bawls chugging competition and play in Tribes: Ascend mini tournaments at the Alienware exhibit. We also got a demonstration of John Carmack's original prototype virtual reality headset that he initially debuted at E3 this year. Carmack is working with Oculus Rift to design VR headsets for gaming that include stereoscopic 3D and a wide 110-degree field of view. The day concluded with a huge party to watch the annual case mod contest finals, Bawls chugging finals, and Quake Live finals. 

 

Read more about our coverage from Day 3 of Quakecon 2012!

Check out our coverage from Day 1 and Day 2 of Quakecon 2012!

 

Author:
Manufacturer: Quakecon

Introduction, Virtual Insanity and Game of Making Games panels

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Our second day at Quakecon 2012 started bright and early with expert panel discussions led by some of the gaming industry's elite game designers and programmers from around the globe. These panel discussions focused primary around the process different game studios go through to produce triple AAA titles and current developments in virtual reality headset technology. There was also more discussions about creating mods for games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and utilizing modding communities as resources to produce higher quality games.

 

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In between panel discussions, Quakecon hosted the first round of their annual Bawls chugging competition. BYOC gamers and event attendees were also able to try out a few game demos of Smite, Rise of the Triad, Dishonored, and Doom 3 BFG Edition. There were also several "quick draw" Quake Live matches to give out raffle tickets for a chance to win a new 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe. 

 

Read more about our coverage from Quakecon 2012!

 

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: iD

3+ Hours of discussion later...

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The beginning of QuakeCon is always started by several hours of John Carmack talking about very technical things.  This two hour keynote typically runs into the three to four hour range, and it was no different this time.  John certainly has the gift of gab when it comes to his projects, but unlike others his gab is chock full of useful information, often quite beyond the understanding of those in the audience.

 

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The first topic of discussion was that of last year’s Rage launch.  John was quite apologetic about how it went, especially in terms of PC support.  For a good portion of users out there, it simply would not work due to driver issues on the AMD side.  The amount of lessons they learned from Rage were tremendous.  iD simply cannot afford to release two games in one decade.  Rage took some six plus years of development.  Consider that Doom 3 was released in 2004, and we did not see Rage until Fall 2011.  The technology in Rage is a big step up due to the use of iD Tech 5, and the art assets of the title are very impressive.

iD also made some big mistakes in how they have marketed the title.  Many people were assuming that it would be a title more in line with Bethesda’s Fallout 3 with a lot of RPG type missions and storyline.  Instead of a 80 hour title that one would expect, it was a 10+ hour action title.  So marketing needs to create a better representation of what the game entails.  They also need to stay a bit more focused on what they will be delivering, and be able to do so in a timely manner.

Read the rest of John's Keynote by clicking here.

Author:
Manufacturer: Quakecon

Event kickoff, hardware workshop prizes, packed BYOC!

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Yesterday marked the official start of Quakecon 2012 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. This four-day event includes PC gaming awesomeness for more than 2,800 gamers in the Bring Your Own Computer LAN section as well as access to numerous gaming vendors and PC hardware exhibits. The event is sponsored by many big names in the gaming and PC hardware industry as well like Alienware, Intel, Ventrilo, Plantronics Gamecom, Cooler Master, Western Digital, and many others.

 

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The day got off to a rocky start as id Software co-founder John Carmack's annual keynote address was delayed by more than two hours. Hundreds of gamers also lined the hallways waiting throughout the day for the opportunity to get into the already packed BYOC. But, unfortunately many were turned away from gaming at the event. This is one of the first times in almost a decade that the BYOC area was filled to capacity on the very first day of Quakecon!

 

Continue reading our coverage of Quakecon 2012!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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Change is hard. The Internet, for all of its talk about openness and cultural advancement, seems to have crystalized this more than any other form of communication. If something popular is changed, for better or worse, it’s only a matter of time before the virtual pitchforks are brought out.
 
Laptop manufacturers usually dodge this bullet because they change designs before they have a chance to gain a following. It’s hard for fans to become mad about a new design if the old one wasn’t used long enough to create an expectation. But there’s always been on exception – Lenovo’s ThinkPad. 
 
Though this line of matte-black business laptops has been expanded over the years with the ThinkPad Edge the core of the line-up has remained stubbornly similar. The ThinkPad T420 I reviewed earlier this year was strikingly similar to the T42 that I owned in college. Yes, the display’s aspect ratio had changed, but the keyboard, trackpointer and overall design aesthetic was familiar. 
 
I wasn’t surprised to see Lenovo’s announcement that it would be changing the keyboard on its new ThinkPad laptops send waves through the enthusiast community. Now Lenovo has sent the X230, one of the re-designed models, and I can see if this change is blasphemy or a new revelation. 
 
Oh, and the hardware’s different, as well. Ivy Bridge, blah blah blah, Intel HD 4000, blah blah blah. You’re likely familiar with this tune – but you may be surprised to hear it played on an instrument this small.
 
Author:
Manufacturer: SiliconDust

An HTPC Perspective on home theater PC technology

We conducted a reader survey a few weeks ago, and one of the tech topics that received a surprising amount of interest in was HTPC coverage. You, our awesome readers, wanted to know more about the hardware and software behind them. I’ll admit that I was ardent about the prospects of talking HTPCs with you. As a relatively new entrant to that area of tech myself, I was excited to cover it, and give you more coverage on a topic you wanted to see more of!

Today we won't be talking about home theater PCs in the sense of a computer in the living room AV rack (Ryan covered that earlier this week), but rather a related technology that makes the HTPC possible: the CableCARD-equipped TV tuner.

I will forewarn you that this article is quite a bit more informal than my usual writings, especially if you only follow my PC Perspective postings. In the future, it may not be that way, but I wanted to give some backstory and some personal thoughts on the matter to illustrate how I got into rolling my own DVR and why I’m excited about it (mainly: it saves money and is very flexible).

Preface/Background

Despite my previous attempts to “cut the cord” and use only Internet-based services for television, me and my girlfriend slowly but surely made our way back to cable TV. For about a year we survived on Netflix, Hulu, and the various networks’ streaming videos on their respective websites but as the delays between a shows airing and web streaming availability increased and Netflix instant Streaming started losing content the price of cable started to look increasingly acceptable.

She was probably the first one to feel the effects of a lack of new content – especially with a newfound love for a rather odd show called True Blood. It was at some point thereafter, once she had caught up with as many seasons offered on Netflix of various shows as possible that she broke down and ordered U-Verse. U-Verse is an interesting setup of television delivery using internet protocol (IPTV). While we did have some issues at first with the Residential Gateway and signal levels, it was eventually sorted out and it was an okay setup. It offered a lot of channels – with many in HD. In the end though, after the promotional period was up, it got very expensive to stay subscribed to. Also, because it was IPTV, it was not as flexible as traditional cable as far as adding extra televisions and the DVR functionality. Further, the image quality for the HD streams, while much better than SD, was not up to par with the cable and satellite feeds I’ve seen.

Being with Comcast for Internet for about three years now, I’ve been fairly happy with it. One day I saw a promotion for currently subscribed customers for TV + Blast internet for $80, which was only about $20 more than I was paying each month for its Performance tier. After a week of hell Therefore, I decided to sign up for it. Only, I did not want to rent a Comcast box, so I went searching for alternatives.

Enter the elusive and never advertised CableCARD

It was during this search that I learned a great deal about CableCARDs and the really cool things that they enabled. Thanks to the FCC, cable television providers in the United States have to give their customers an option other than renting a cable box for a monthly fee – customers have to be able to bring their own equipment if they wish (they can still charge you for the CableCARD but at a reduced rate, and not all cable companies charge a fee for them). But what is a CableCARD? In short, it is a small card that resembles a PCMIA expansion card – a connector that can commonly be found in older laptops (think Windows XP-era). It is to be paired with a CableCARD tuner and acts as the key to decrypt the encrypted television stations in your particular subscriber package. They are added much like a customer-owned modem is, by giving the cable company some numbers on the bottom of the card that act as a unique identifier. The cable company then connects that particular card to your account and sends it a profile of what channels you are allowed to tune into.

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There are some drawbacks, however. Mainly that On Demand does not work with most CableCARDS. Do note that this is actually not a CableCARD hardware issue, but a support issue on the cable company side. You could, at least in theory, get a CableCARD and tuner that could tune in On Demand content, but right now that functionality seems to be limited to some Tivos and the rental cable boxes (paradoxically some of those are actually CableCARD-equipped). It’s an unfortunate situation, but here’s hoping that it is supported in the future. Also, if you do jump into the world of CableCARDs, it is likely that you will find yourself in a situation where you know more about them than the cable installer as cable companies do not advertise them, and only a small number of employees are trained on them. Don’t be too hard on the cable tech though, it's primarily because cable companies would rather rent you a (expensive) box, and a very small number of people actually know about and need a tech to support the technology. I was lucky enough to get one of the “CableCARD guys,” on my first install, but I’ve also gotten techs that have never seen one before and it made for an interesting conversation piece as they diagnosed signal levels for the cable modem (heh). Basically, patience is key when activating your CableCARD, and I highly recommend asking around forums like DSLReports for the specific number(s) to call to get to the tier 2 techs that are familiar with CableCARDs for your specific provider when calling to activate it if you opt to do a self-install. Even then, you may run into issues. For example, something went wrong with activation on the server side at Comcast so it took a couple of hours for them to essentially unlock all of my HD channels during my install.

Continue reading to find out why I'm so excited about CableCARDs and home theater PCs!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design and Connectivity

 

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All of my past tablet reviews have come to a similar conclusion – buy the iPad. Unless you have a particular, specific use for your tablet which Apple’s walled garden does not support there is little reason to go with anything else. The problem is a combination of both hardware and software. Cupertino’s closed approach, which develops both in-house, has provided better products so far.
 
If you can’t beat them, you can always sell to a somewhat different market. And so we have the Google Nexus 7. There are three things about this tablet that has made many geeks very interested – it has a Tegra 3 processor, it runs Android 4.1 and it starts at $200 for the 8GB version.
 
This is, in fact, the production version of the $249 Tegra 3 tablet that we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed over during CES 2012. Google hasn’t paid much lip-service to ASUS, but the company’s logo is on the back of the tablet. I have no complaints about this partnership. ASUS has made the best Android tablets for some time, so going with them is an obvious choice.
 
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

A selection of parts

AMD is without a doubt going through some very tough times with massive personnel issues as well as some problems with products and profitability.  But that doesn’t mean the current product line from AMD is without merit and that you can’t build a great system for various environments, including those users looking for a mainstream and small form factor gaming and home theater PC. 

While preparing for Quakecon 2012 we needed to build a system to take on the road for some minor editing and presentation control purposes.  We wanted the PC to be small and compact, yet still powerful enough to take on some basic computing and gaming tasks.  I happen to have some AMD Llano APUs in the office and thought they would fit perfectly.

If you are on the hunt for a small PC that can do some modest gaming and serve as an HTPC, then you might find our build here interesting.  And while it isn't nearly as exciting as building a Llano PC while blindfolded - it's pretty close.

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08B

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Continue reading our AMD Llano APU Build article!!

Introduction and Features

Enermax has a well earned reputation for delivering reliable power supplies, enclosures, and other accessories to the PC enthusiast market. Their new Platimax Series includes five power supplies ranging from 600W to 1200W. We will be taking a detailed look at the Platimax 1000W power supply in this review. All Platimax power supplies are certified to deliver 80 Plus Platinum efficiencies and feature modular cables and quiet operation. Ecomaster is the authorized US agent for Enermax branded products.

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Enermax Platimax 1000W PSU Key Features:

89Plus Ready: World's leading modular cables PSU series with 89-94% efficiency @ 20-100% load. Compliant with 80 Plus Platinum standard.
ErP Lot 6 Ready: Helps system meet ErP Lot 6 2010 (<1W at standby mode) with high efficiency +5vsb circuitry (with ErP Lot 6 enabled motherboard).
High Compatibility Ready: Single rail +12V output highly compatible with various types of high-end graphics cards at full-load operation.
24/7 @ 50°C Ready: Non-stop industrial class performance at 50°C ambient.
World Ready: 100-240 VAC universal AC input with Active PFC for Global usage.
C6 & Hybrid Ready: Maximum compatibility with C6 & Hybrid states of current and future CPU & GPU generations by Zero Load design.
DXXI Ready: 100% 6+2 pin (8P) PCI-E connectors to support new generation DXXI graphics cards.
Future Ready: 12P modular design to support upcoming new CPU & GPU 10P and/or 12P connectors.
Server Ready: SSI PSDG support for latest Intel Core Extreme/i7, Xeon and AMD Opteron and SLI or CrossFireX and downward compatible with EPS12V v2.92, v2.8.
HeatGuard: Keeps PSU fan running for 30-60 seconds after shutdown to dissipate the remaining system heat and prolong system life.
SafeGuard: Industry leading multiple protection circuitry for OCP, OVP, DC UVP, OPP, OTP, SCP, and SIP.
SpeedGuard: World's leading patented fan control starting with unmatched 550 RPM to a maximum of 1500 RPM for optimal cooling and minimum noise.
CordGuard: Fixing the AC cord tightly to receptacle to avoid accidental shutdowns of your PC.
Dynamic Hybrid Transformer Topology: Technological breakthrough using a staged dynamic transformer array for extremely high efficiency with the most durable and stable output at any load.
Twister Bearing Fan: 13.9cm Twister bearing fan with low noise and long lifetime (100,000 hours MTBF, Patented).
• 100% 105°C Japanese Electrolytic Capacitors: Highest component standards for maximum durability and stability.

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Continue reading our review of the Enermax Platimax 1000 watt power supply!

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer:

Introduction, Hardware To Look For

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Every year the college I graduated from, Beloit College, publishes its not-that-famous “mindset list.” It’s a collection of one-liners, such as “Clint Eastwood is better known as a director than as Dirty Harry,” meant to humorously remind professors that the experiences of their generation are not the same as the generation about to show up in their classrooms.
 
I’ve sometimes felt a need for a similar reminder among gamers. Arcade classics like Pac-Man and DOS legends such as Prince Of Persia are often cited in conversations of old-school gaming, yet many gamers (including myself) never enjoyed the experience of playing these titles when they first hit store shelves. 
 
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I enjoyed a different generation of classics. My original copy of Interstate ’76 is nestled in a binder of old CDs. A boxed copy of Mechwarrior 2 sits on my book shelf. I have Baldur’s Gate, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Total Annihilation 2, Starcraft, SimCity 2000, The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall and Age of Empires II, to name a few. These were my formative gaming experiences. Some have always been with me  – others, lost or destroyed, have been re-acquired from thrift stores for a few bucks each.
 
Yet I can’t play most of these games without buying them again (via a service like Good Old Games) or resorting to virtualization. The reliability of Window’s compatibility mode is spotty to say the least.
Even if a game does run on my Windows 7 PC, something is missing. The old controllers of yesterday usually don’t agree with – or can’t physically connect to – my modern desktop. The graphics, designed for the CRT era, often don’t translate well to a high-resolution LCD. Random bugs and errors can occur, stopping the games in their tracks.
 
I’ve finally decided that there is only one solution. If you want to run a game from the 1990s and enjoy them properly you should also have hardware that can play games from that era as originally intended. That means putting together a legacy gaming system.
 
This is something that I think anyone should be able to do without spending more than $150. But can you, and if so, is it worth your time?
 
 
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

The HAWK Returns

The $300 to $400 range of video cards has become quite crowded as of late.  If we can remember way back to March when AMD introduced their HD 7800 series of cards, and later that month we saw NVIDIA release their GTX 680 card.  Even though NVIDIA held the price/performance crown, AMD continued to offer their products at what many considered to be grossly overpriced considering the competition.  Part of this was justified because NVIDIA simply could not meet demand of their latest card, and they were often unavailable for purchase at MSRPs.  Eventually AMD started cutting back prices, but this led to another issue.  The HD 7950 was approaching the price of the HD 7870 GHz Edition.  The difference in prices between these products was around $20, but the 7950 was around 20% faster than the 7870.  This made the HD 7870 (and the slightly higher priced overclocked models) a very unattractive option for users.

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It seems as though AMD and their partners have finally rectified this situation, and just in time.  With NVIDIA finally being able to adequately provide stock for both the GTX 680 and GTX 670, the prices on the upper-midrange cards has taken a nice drop to where we feel they should be.  We are now starting to see some very interesting products based on the HD 7850 and HD 7870 cards, one of which we are looking at today.

The MSI R7870 HAWK

The R7870 Hawk utilizes the AMD HD 7870 GPU.  This chip has a reference speed of 1 GHz, but with the Hawk it is increased to a full 1100 MHz.  The GPU has the entire 20 compute units enabled featuring 1280 stream processors.  It has the 256 bit memory bus running 2GB of GDDR-5 memory at 1200 MHz, which gives a total bandwidth of 160 GB/sec.  I am somewhat disappointed that MSI did not give the memory speed a boost, but at least the user can enable that for themselves through the Afterburner software.

Continue reading our review of the MSI R7870 HAWK Graphics card!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Origin

Introduction, Design

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The death of the Alienware M11x seemed as if it might leave a hole in the market – or not. As it turns out, that discontinuation of the world’s smallest gaming laptop coincided with the introduction of a new generic 11.6” gaming laptop chassis from Clevo. You can still get your netbook-sized game on.
 
Origin was kind enough to send us the EON11-S – one of several laptops based on the Clevo chassis – for review. If you’re in the North American market, the EON11-S is going to be one of the most attractive variants simply because of the company behind it. Origin is an established and well-known company with a great reputation.  
 
The Alienware M11x, which you can still purchase (while supplies last!) ended its life at the tail end of the Sandy Bridge era. It also always relied on Intel’s low voltage processors instead of the standard models – something I noted as a disadvantage when we reviewed the M11x in 2010. The lack of an optional quad-core processor made the Alienware feel half-baked as well.
 
Origin’s EON11-S, on the other hand, is the full enchilada. Base models come with a Pentium dual-core, but our review unit arrived packing an Intel Core i7-3720QM. All EON11-S laptops come with an Nvidia GT 650M as well. Let’s check out the full specifications.
 
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While the base model is priced at $999, our review unit rings up at $1,626. That’s quite a chunk of change – for the same money you could have a nicely equipped ASUS G55 or G75. Those laptops aren’t nearly as portable, however – so does gaming on the go justify the premium? Let’s find out.
 
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction

Following the successful launch of its HS1 headset, Corsair has come back with a Vengeance line of gaming peripherals including three new headsets. Included in the new lineup are the 1100, 1300, and 1500 gaming headsets.

The Vengeance 1100 is the smallest of the three gaming headsets, and features a behind-the-head headphone design using 40mm drivers and an unidirectional boom microphone extending from the left speaker. The 1100 can be connected via two analog 3.5mm audio jacks or by USB with the included adapter.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair Vengeance 1300 and 1500 headsets!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple

Quick glance at the new MBP

The newly released retina-screen MacBook Pro has been an interesting product to me since it was first announced. I have long been a proponent of higher resolution screens for PCs, hoping for the lower cost screens that we are just now finding in the Korean 27-in screen market (like the Achieva Shimian we recently reviewed). When Apple announced a 15-in notebook with a screen resolution of 2880x1800, my hopes were raised that other vendors would take note and duplicate the idea – thereby lowering costs and increasing visual quality for users across the board.

While I didn’t have enough time with the retina MacBook Pro to give it a full review, I did spend an afternoon with one that had Windows 7 installed. After getting some benchmarks and games installed I thought I would report back to our readers with my thoughts and initial impressions on the laptop from a PC perspective.

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The hardware inside the new retina MacBook Pro includes an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete GPU, 512GB Apple-branded solid state drive, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and of course that impressive 2880x1800 screen.

Continue reading our quick look at the retina MacBook Pro under Windows 7!!

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer:

From Viewers Like You...

About two months ago, a viewer of the podcast that Ryan co-hosts on the This Week in Tech network, This Week in Computer Hardware, wrote in with some information that immediately excited the staff here at PC Perspective. Ryan for a long time has been of the opinion that the proliferation of 1080p displays, and prohibitive cost of high resolution monitors has been holding the industry back as a whole. With talk of 4K displays being introduced for consumers this year, a major topic on the podcast in the weeks prior to this viewer email had centered around why we haven't seen affordable 2560x1440 (or 2560x1600) displays.

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This brings us back to the knowledge which the listener Jeremy bestowed upon us.  Jeremy brought to our attention that various eBay sellers were reselling and exporting generic 27", IPS, LED backlight, 2560x1440 monitors from South Korea. What is remarkable about these displays however is that various models can be found for just around, or even under $350. Everyone listening, including Ryan and his co-host Patrick Norton became immediately interested in these monitors, and I went into research mode.

Continue reading our review of the 27-in Achieva Shimian 2560x1440 monitor!

Subject: Storage

Introduction and Internals

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Introduction:

I'm going to let the cat out of the bag right here and now. Everyone's home RAID is likely an accident waiting to happen. If you're using regular consumer drives in a large array, there are some very simple (and likely) scenarios that can cause it to completely fail. I'm guilty of operating under this same false hope - I have an 8-drive array of 3TB WD Caviar Greens in a RAID-5. For those uninitiated, RAID-5 is where one drive worth of capacity is volunteered for use as parity data, which is distributed amongst all drives in the array. This trick allows for no data loss in the case where a single drive fails. The RAID controller can simply figure out the missing data by running the extra parity through the same formula that created it. This is called redundancy, but I propose that it's not.

Continue on for our full review of the solution to this not-yet-fully-described problem!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HP

Introduction and Design

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One of the most impressive laptops at CES 2012 was the HP Envy Spectre. It was a sleek, attractive laptop that seemed to indicate that HP was really starting to understand what the Envy brand could be about. It’s been a long time since a PC OEM was able to challenge Apple in the arena of design. The Spectre indicated that might change.
 
There more to any laptop than design, however. What had made Apple’s products popular is combination of design and functionality. Connectivity aside, the MacBooks are useful tools with big touchpads, nice keyboards and beautiful displays. Any PC alternative needs to compete on the same level.
 
And the HP Envy 14 Spectre is certainly a competitor. Its $1400 base price tag puts it well into MacBook territory. So what does that wad of dough buy you?
 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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In the wilds of the laptop market, nestled between the hordes of 15.6” mainstream laptops and the slim ultraportables, there is an odd breed. The 14” multimedia laptop. Even describing them as such is limiting because each model seems to offer its own take on the concept. Some are nearly as thin and light as laptops with much smaller displays while others are bulky powerhouses hidden behind a façade of portability.

Lenovo has long been a proponent of the 14-incher in actions if not words. IdeaPads of this size have also been common, usually gracing Lenovo’s website as a smaller alternative to a 15.6” laptop with a similar model name.

As a result, absolutely no one was shocked when Lenovo announced the IdeaPad Y480. It’s exactly the kind of product most consumers end up buying and exactly the kind of product tech journalists don’t care to talk about. 

So what’s powering this new mid-size laptop? Let’s have a look.

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Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480!!

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

Less Risk, Faster Product Development and Introduction

There have been quite a few articles lately about the upcoming Bulldozer refresh from AMD, but a lot of the information that they have posted is not new.  I have put together a few things that seem to have escaped a lot of these articles, and shine a light on what I consider the most important aspects of these upcoming releases.  The positive thing that most of these articles have achieved is increasing interest in AMD’s upcoming products, and what they might do for that company and the industry in general.

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The original FX-8150 hopefully will only be a slightly embarrasing memory for AMD come Q3/Q4 of this year.

The current Bulldozer architecture that powers the AMD FX series of processors is not exactly an optimal solution.  It works, and seems to do fine, but it does not surpass the performance of the previous generation Phenom II X6 series of chips in any meaningful way.  Let us not mention how it compares to Intel’s Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge products.  It is not that the design is inherently flawed or bad, but rather that it was a unique avenue of thought that was not completely optimized.  The train of thought is that AMD seems to have given up on the high single threaded performance that Intel has excelled at for some time.  Instead they are going for good single threaded performance, and outstanding multi-threaded performance.  To achieve this they had to rethink how to essentially make the processor as wide as possible, keep the die size and TDP down to reasonable sizes, and still achieve a decent amount of performance in single threaded applications.

Bulldozer was meant to address this idea, and its success is debatable.  The processor works, it shows up as an eight logical core processor, and it seems to scale well with multi-threading.  The problem, as stated before, is that it does not perform like a next generation part.  In fact, it is often compared to Intel’s Prescott, which was a larger chip on a smaller process than the previous Northwood processor, but did not outperform the earlier part in any meaningful way (except in heat production).  The difference between Intel and AMD in this aspect is that as compared to Prescott, Bulldozer as an entirely new architecture as compared to the Prescott/Northwood lineage.  AMD has radically changed the way it designs processors.  Taking some lessons from the graphics arm of the company and their successful Radeon brand, AMD is applying that train of thought to processors.

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