Hard drive shortage or not, the Christmas PC builds are here

Subject: Systems | December 13, 2011 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: htpc, econobox, sweet spot

The Tech Report has risen to the challenge of building systems for Christmas in the wake of the HDD shortages.  This tends to either bring up the price of the system or to shrink the available amount of storage space in the systems.  Regardless a refresh of their system build is timely as many of us dream of a new PC or parts awaiting us under a tree.  Their Double Stuff workstation features the same i7-3930k recommended on the Hardware Leaderboard here, but they also have some different styles of system recommendation like their i3-2100T powered Couch Potato build for use as an HTPC.  You can also see a few recommended laptops and other peripherals, all you have to do is click the link.

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"With our latest system guide, we've attempted to weather the surge in hard-drive prices while taking advantage of some of the latest hardware releases. To spice things up, we've also concocted a home-theater PC build."

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The firmware is a little soft but Patriot's Javelin S4 serves up media quite nicely

Subject: Systems | December 7, 2011 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: squeezebox, Patriot Javelin S4 Media Server, patriot, itunes, htpc, DLNA

Media servers are becoming a hot item on the market, offering nearly all of the flexibility of a full HTPC with nearly none of the required setup.  The Patriot Javelin S4 Media Server is no exception, with the ability to interface with iTunes and Squeezebox as well as being compatible with DNLA and UPnP.  With a possible 12TB of storage possible, the actual product ships empty which does keep the entry price down.  Powered by a PowerPC based AMCC 800MHz 431EXr and with the proprietary OS installed on 128MB of flash memory it can accept up to four HDDs formatted as FAT32, EXT2, EXT3 or NTFS, in a variety of RAID flavours.  Check out X-bit Labs for the full breakdown of this devices capabilities.

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"If you have a lot of digital media, such as music, videos and photos, then Patriot claims they have a perfect solution for you. With room to accommodate four 3.5-inch hard drives and additional external expansion via USB 2.0 and eSATA ports, the Javelin S4 can pack up to 12TB of storage capacity into a small form factor chassis. Integrated DLNA-compatible streaming, Apple iTunes server, Squeezebox Server and UPnP capabilities allow seamless connection to PC, Mac and home electronics devices."

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Source: X-Bit Labs

Puget Systems will build you a Sandy Bridge E system

Subject: Systems | December 6, 2011 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: x79, Sandy Bridge E, puget systems, i7-3960x, GTX580, sli

If you want to get your hands on a pre-built Sandy Bridge E system you could do worse than the Puget Systems Deluge.  You get the Core i7-3960X on an ASUS Sabertooth X79 with 32GB of 1500MHz Patriot Viper Xtreme DDR3, a pair of EVGA GTX580s and both an Intel 510 250GB SSD and a 2TB WD Caviar Black for storage.  The whole system is cooled with a custom watercooler with a 360mm radiator and will only cost $7,254.  The system does give you enough power to game in NVIDIA Surround with decent frame rates, but AnandTech is of the opinion that this system is perhaps a bit too powerful.  So much of the capability of this system is not utilized by even the most demanding of games, and what is needed can be duplicated with parts that have a much smaller price tag.  However if you need the bragging rights then this system is for you.

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"It's been a little while since we've had a Puget Systems desktop in, and so far we haven't yet tested any of their big dog gaming machines. Everything else we've tested, we've liked, but what happens when the fine folks over at Puget Systems pull out all the stops and put together a high end gaming machine? The answer: the Deluge, an X79-based rig in a modified Antec P183, employing a custom liquid-cooling loop. It's big, powerful, and expensive. Did Puget Systems hit another custom out of the park, and is Sandy Bridge-E the enthusiast platform we were waiting for?"

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Source: AnandTech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction: Griefing the grieving

PC Gaming has been on its death bed for years -- if you believe the countless debates that have occurred most commonly over the last decade. The drum beat roared from the masses: “Why game on the PC anymore when you could just buy a console?” The focus of conversation was set upon the attack and defense of the PC as a viable platform at all, let alone the platform of choice. The question that swarms naggingly through my brain is quite the opposite: “In the long run, why game on a console?” The concept that consoles are better than PCs, given a fraction of the support that consoles receive, is about to die; console supporters are in various levels of grief.

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U mad Mario Bros.?

I am an avid, though this editorial may suggest livid, video game supporter. My first exposure to video gaming was mixed between the Nintendo Entertainment System and the family 80286. I have equally fond memories with the keyboard as with the gamepad. The balance between console and PC was level throughout my life until just a few years ago when I carefully thought the situation over. The PC is now my platform of choice.

Continue reading our editorial: The Five Stages of Griefing: Death of the Consoles!!

Video Perspective: CyberPower Gamer Ultra 2098 System

Subject: Systems | November 23, 2011 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: HD 6670, fx-4100, Cyberpower

Most of the time, when we are sent systems for review, they are some of the highest-end and most expensive gaming rigs available.  Companies tend to want to showcase a "flagship" product, one that will impress anyone that gazes upon it.  And while CyberPower definitely builds systems like that, for this review, we are looking at something much more modest - the pre-built Gamer Ultra 2098.

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The specifications for the system are pretty straight forward:

  • AMD FX-4100 Quad-core Bulldozer processor with a stock cooler
  • Gigabyte M68MT-S2 NVIDIA 7025 chipset motherboard
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 MHz memory
  • AMD Radeon HD 6670 1GB graphics card
  • 500 GB SATA III 6 Gb/s HDD
  • DVD Burner optical drive
  • 500 watt power supply
  • Azza Black Orion Red case
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

These aren't parts that are going to "wow" you by any stretch but the price might: Newegg is selling this complete system for $599 (as of this writing) while purchasing all of these components individually, on the same website, our total was $596.  Considering that someone has already built the machine (in a very clean and neat fashion) and you get basic support and a warranty, the cost of this machine is very compelling.

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Performance of the Gamer Ultra 2098 isn't going to blow our benchmark suite out of the water, but the quad-core AMD FX-4100 processor is able to keep pace with the lowest end Sandy Bridge CPUs and the Radeon HD 6670 1GB graphics card can play the majority of the current PC titles at 1080p with medium-ish image quality settings.

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This system isn't going to be for everyone, but for users that want a low-cost system that has some limited expansion capability, check out this CyberPower PC (and our video review below)!

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Sub-compact HD media streamer from Sitecom

Subject: Systems | November 22, 2011 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: htpc, sitecom media player 2TB MD-272

The second generation of Sitecom's Media Player sports improved software and upgraded hardware, in addition to the 2TB of storage for your multimedia.  In addition it is certified by the Digital Living Network Alliance, which means that not only is it uPnP compatible it is capable of interfacing with other uPnP devices as well as your PC.  Head to Guru3D to see the long list of audio and video formats that the device is compatible with as well as the variety of outputs which are provided.  For around $100 without a drive this device offers a very easy, if a little limited, way to stream all your HD content to your TV.

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"The new Sitecom Media Player comes standard with a new improved GUI, but also hardware wise harbor the latest Realtek 1185 chipset, and that changes a thing or two as pretty much any of the performance issues we had noticed in 1080P content playback (with very high bit-rate) on the previous chipset now are a thing of the past.

That Realtek 1185 chipset has an increased clock frequency, 500 MHz coming from 400 MHz on the original version. And as little as it sounds, it makes a serious difference. The HDD TV Media Player 2TB allows you to play digital films, music and photos directly on your TV with High Definition quality (1080p)."

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Source: Guru3D

VIA Launches ARTiGO A1150 PC Kit

Subject: Systems | November 22, 2011 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: DIY, VIA, ARTiGO

Packs VIA Eden X2 processor, HD video, HDMI connectivity and 64-bit computing in a palm sized chassis
Taipei, Taiwan, 22 November 2011 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced the launch of the VIA ARTiGO A1150 a sub-liter dual core DIY PC kit for enthusiasts who want to taste the next generation of ultra-compact desktop computing.

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The new way to measure PC size

The VIA ARTiGO A1150 is one of the smallest full featured DIY PC kits available today, squeezing an impressive range of features that include a 1.0GHz dual core VIA Eden X2 processor, HD video support, HDMI and VGA display connectivity, Gigabit networking, Wi-Fi Support and five USB ports, all into a palm-sized PC chassis. The VIA ARTiGO A1150 is ideal for a variety of applications in the home or office, including home server, media streaming and surveillance applications or great as a regular desktop PC, using only a fraction of the physical real estate.

"VIA redefines dual core low power compact computing, bringing all the features of a regular desktop PC into a form factor that needs to be seen to be believed," said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "VIA has a long history in creating leading edge form factor systems, and the VIA ARTiGO A1150 pushes the bounds for ultra-compact desktop computing."

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VIA ARTiGO A1150: Compact Computing Redefined
The mere 5.7" x 3.9" x 2" (14.6 cm x 9.9 cm x 5.2 cm) VIA ARTiGO A1150 is powered by a dual core 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 processor, offering a high performance native 64-bit computing experience while remaining within a low power thermal envelope. The VIA Eden X2 processor is joined by the VIA VX900H media system processor, a fully integrated all-in-one chipset that brings exceptional multimedia experience to small form factor devices including hardware acceleration for the latest HD video codecs including H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2/4 at screen resolutions of up to 1080p.

Front and back panel I/O includes HDMI and VGA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, five USB ports including one USB device port, three audio jacks with optional wireless IEEE 802.11 b/g/n and SD card reader modules.

To watch a short introductory video about the VIA ARTiGO A1150, please go to: http://youtu.be/qkQtymQdbgg

The mineral oil in this Aquarium will be hard on the fish but not your components

Subject: Systems | November 10, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: puget systems, mineral oil, DIY, Aquarium

If you have an urge for switching your PC 's' cooling to full immersion in mineral oil you could do worse than looking to Puget Systems and their DIY Aquarium kit.  For four years they have been perfecting one of the most unique PC designs on the market, mimicking the look of an aquarium right down to the overhead light and gravel at the bottom.  By ordering a complete system, or picking up the parts from their parts store to build your own, you will end up with a well cooled conversation peice that you should proudly display in a prominent place.  Plus it is still a working PC, even if you will be distracted from the screen by your case.

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In House Manufacturing
We have seen so much demand for our aquarium kits that we have purchased our own laser cutting machine! This allows us to manufacture these kits entirely on our own, which carries a number of advantages.

  • Our costs are lower, which helps lower the price to you.
  • We are in full control of quality.
  • We know what is needed much better that an outsourced machine shop.
  • We can make MUCH more frequent design tweaks and improvements.

Embracing Simplicity
Up to this point, our aquarium kits have been getting bigger and more complicated with each release. The V4 kits take a step back. The size and capacity is the same as our V3 kits, but with the advantage of rapid prototyping though on-site manufacturing, we are able to create a much more finely tuned product. Instead of large bulky bracing, we cut it down to only what is necessary. Instead of dual pumps with complicated interconnects, we run a single more powerful pump. This leads to a dramatic decrease in complication, assembly, and number of parts needed. This results in less points of possible failure, and much lower overall unit price.

Project History
For those interested in the full history of this project, Puget Systems has chronicled our timeline over the last 4 years, sharing our thoughts, testing, benchmarks, and results.

Our full V4 aquarium kits, including tank, motherboard tray, pump, radiator, and all necessary wiring and tubing, are available for immediate purchase on our website. Alternately, for those looking for parts for their own DIY projects, each component of our V4 kit can be purchased separately on our parts store.

Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Puget Systems

Looking at the Exterior

Introduction

We have had some really good experiences with Puget Systems pre-built PCs in the past and a little while ago, the company sent us a modestly priced HTPC based on the Serenity line of systems.  Based on the Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge platform, the Serenity has a lot of customizations that help keep the computer quiet that are unique. 

With a cost hovering around $1800 though, does the Serenity offer enough to consumers?

The Serenity Home Theater PC

The Puget Systems Serenity line actually spans small form factor chassis, HTPC designs and even standard desktop ATX designs, one of which we have previously reviewed.  Today we are going to be showing you the HTPC form factor that could fit in your home theater furniture (if you have some hefty space available).  Let's look quickly at the specifications before we dive into the design.

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Click to Enlarge

  • Intel Core i5-2500K
  • ASUS H67 Motherboard
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 Memory
  • 120GB Intel 320 SSD
  • 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Green HDD
  • ASUS 12x Blu-Ray Burner
  • Windows 7 Home Premium x64

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Continue reading our review of the Puget Systems Serenity HTPC!!

A new season, a new system guide

Subject: Systems | November 8, 2011 - 11:08 AM |
Tagged: system build

The PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard is not the only system build guide to recently have been updated; The Tech Report have just finished their Fall Systems guide.  The Econobox now sports a Core i3 2100 now that Phenom X4 840s have gone extinct which requires a new H67 motherboard.  The Utility Player sports 8GB of RAM and graphical muscle in the form of a GTX 560.  The Sweeter Spot sports an improved CPU and motherboard in comparison to the Utility Player and the Doublestuff Workstation is even more impressive.  You can even catch some notebook recommendations, so head on over and take a peek.

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"Join us as we reveal the latest updates and additions we've made to our four classic builds: the $600 Econobox, $900 Utility Player, $1500 Sweeter Spot, and cheaper-than-before-but-still-quite-expensive Double-Stuff Workstation."

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