Introduction and First Impressions
While offering a modern look, the Nova TG is distinctly retro in two ways: first, it supports 5.25-inch external drives, and second, it has a very budget-friendly price tag of $56.99 - which seems lower still when considering the TG in the name stands for tempered glass, as this case sports a full glass side panel. It's available in black or white, and we have the black version in for review.
The Nova TG pictured with a full build (image via BitFenix)
Remembering the era of generic $29 ATX cases, the Nova TG gives you a lot more than we could get cheaply in the early 2000s, and that $56.99 price tag is pretty close to an inflation-adjusted $29...probably. Comparisons to older cases aside (not that this wouldn't make an excellent case for a retro PC build if you don't need an external 3.5-inch drive) it's time to focus squarely on the present and look at a modern ATX system build in the Nova TG.
- Materials: Steel, Plastic,Tempered Glass
- Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
- Power Supply: ATX & EPS 12V
- 5.25" Drive Bay: 1
- 3.5" Drive Bay: 3
- 2.5" Drive Bay: 3
- Cooling Front: 2x 120mm (1x 120mm Black Fan included)
- Cooling Rear: NOVA TG BLK 1x 120mm Red LED Fan (included)
- PCI-E Slots: 7 Slots
- I/O Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Audio I/O
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 201 x 437 x 465 mm
Price and Availability: $56.99, Amazon.com
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 23, 2018 - 06:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GP107, GDDR5, budget
NVIDIA recently quietly launched a new budget graphics card that neatly slots itself between the GTX 1050 and the GTX 1050 Ti. The new GTX 1050 3GB, as the name suggests, features 3GB of GDDR5 memory. The new card is closer to the GTX 1050 Ti than the name would suggest, however as it uses the same 768 CUDA cores instead of the 640 of the GTX 1050 2GB. The GDDR5 memory is where the card differs from the GTX 1050 Ti though as NVIDIA has cut the number of memory controllers by one along with the corresponding ROPs and cache meaning that the new GTX 1050 3GB has a smaller memory bus and less memory bandwidth than both the GTX 1050 2GB and GTX 1050 Ti 4GB.
Specifically, the GTX 1050 with 3GB GDDR5 has a 96-bit memory bus that when paired with 7 Gbps GDDR5 results in maximum memory bandwidth of 84 GB/s versus the other previously released cards' 128-bit memory buses and 112 GB/s of bandwidth.
Clockspeeds on the new GTX 1050 3GB start are a good bit higher than the other cards though with the base clocks starting at 1392 MHz which is the boost clock of the 1050 Ti and running up to 1518 MHz boost clockspeeds. Thanks to the clockspeeds bumps, the theoretical GPU performance of 2.33 TFLOPS is actually higher than the GTX 1050 Ti (2.14 TFLOPS) and existing GTX 1050 2GB (1.86 TFLOPS) though the reduced memory bus (and loss of a small amount of ROPs and cache) will hold the card back from surpassing the Ti variant in most workloads – NVIDIA needs to maintain product segmentation somehow!
|NVIDIA GTX 1050 2GB||NVIDIA GTX 1050 3GB||NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti 4GB||AMD RX 560 4GB|
|GPU Cores||640||768||768||896 or 1024|
|TFLOPS||1.86||2.33||2.14||up to 2.6|
|Memory||2GB GDDR5||3GB GDDR5||4GB GDDR5||2GB or 4GB GDDR5|
|Memory Clockspeed||7 Gbps||7 Gbps||7 Gbps||7 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||112 GB/s||84 GB/s||112 GB/s||112 GB/s|
|TDP||75W||75W||75W||60W to 80W|
The chart above compares the specifications of the GTX 1050 3GB with the GTX 1050 and the GTX 1050 Ti on the NVIDIA side and the AMD RX 560 which appears to be its direct competitor based on pricing. The new 3GB GTX 1050 should compete well with AMD's Polaris 11 based GPU as well as NVIDIA's own cards in the budget gaming space where hopefully the downside of a reduced memory bus will at least dissuade cryptocurrency miners from adopting this card as an entry level miner for Ethereum and other alt coins giving gamers a chance to buy something a bit better than the GTX 1050 and RX 550 level at close to MSRP while the miners fight over the Ti and higher variants with more memory and compute units.
NVIDIA did not release formal pricing or release date information, but the cards are expected to launch in June and prices should be around $160 to $180 depending on retailer and extra things like fancier coolers and factory overclocks.
What are your thoughts on the GTX 1050 3GB? Is it the bastion of hope budget gamers have been waiting for? hehe Looking around online it seems pricing for these budget cards has somewhat returned to sane levels and hopefully alternative options like these aimed at gamers will help further stabilize the market for us DIYers that want to game more than mine. I do wish that NVIDIA could have changed the name a bit to better differentiate the card, maybe the GTX 1050G or something but oh well. I suppose so long as the 640 CUDA core GTX 1050 doesn't ever get 3GB GDDR5 at least gamers will be able to tell them apart by the amount of memory listed on the box or website.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 22, 2018 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: tempered glass, nzxt, mid-tower, H500i, H500, enclosure, case, CAM, budget, affordable
NZXT has announced a pair of new cases with the H500 and H500i, mid-tower designs both featuring a tempered glass side panel. We looked at the previous H700i case a few months back, and these similar H500 cases combine elements of the H700i and popular S340 to create a pair of budget-friendly options at $69.99 for the standard model. and $99.99 for the CAM-powered H500i.
The NZXT H500 (left) and H500i (right, with optional vertical GPU bracket)
“With the H500, we’ve taken everything we learned from both our top-selling S340 line and our recent H Series products to offer an updated, feature rich chassis that continues our commitment to designing affordable premium hardware. From the stunning tempered glass to its durable all-steel construction, the H500 and H500i give builders of all levels everything they need to build an extraordinary gaming machine.”
NZXT breaks down the features of both models:
- H500 / H500i features:
- Modern design and builder-friendly features
- Premium, all-steel construction with the sleek H Series aesthetic; available in four color combinations
- Tempered glass side panel showcases your build
- Wire management is made easy with an intuitive, patent-pending cable management system
- Water-cooling installation is simplified using a removable bracket for either all-in-one CPU coolers or custom loop configurations
Matte Black with Blue is one of four color options
- H500i exclusive features:
- The Smart Device, a built-in RGB and digital fan controller powered by CAM, delivers HUE+ and GRID+ functionality and includes two pre-installed fans and RGB LED strips.
- An optional Adaptive Noise Reduction fan control mode in CAM measures CPU and GPU temperatures, as well as ambient and system component sound levels to create custom fan curves that optimize the balance between cooling and noise
- Integrated, CAM-powered RGB lighting allows for dynamic personalization of each and every build
- Vertical GPU mount (optional) showcases the gaming power inside
The H500 cases offer some of the integrated cable routing seen on the H700i
The new H500 series cases will be available "early June" and are offered in four color combinations: matte white, matte black. matte black/red, and matte black/blue. Pre-orders are available from NZXT's online store.
Subject: Processors | July 10, 2017 - 11:11 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: value, rumor, report, processor, pentium, kaby lake, Intel, G4560, cpu, budget
Update 07/11/17: We have now heard from Intel on this subject, and they provided this statement regarding the availability of the Pentium G4560 processor:
"We continue to offer the Intel Pentium SKU referenced. What you have observed on websites are possibly part of a normal demand fluctuation."
(The original post follows.)
Image credit: ComputerBase via DigiWorthy
Sound far-fetched? It seems at least plausible that Intel might consider some sort of CPU-related moves to maintain profit margins with Ryzen providing some very real competition after several years of Intel dominance. The popularity of the 2-core/4-thread Pentium G4560 - a (theoretically) ~$60 Kaby Lake part that provides a very nearly Core i3-level experience (some features are missing) is not at all surprising, and the current lack of availability and subsequently higher pricing (lowest in-stock price at around $80 at time of publication) suggests that something is up with this CPU.
Chart via PCPartPicker
A low of $78.89 for the CPU with an MSRP of $64 is about a $15 markup, but this price is just going to increase if no fresh stock hits the market as these sell out.
Now some editorial: Why would Intel introduce what is essentially a slightly hobbled Core i3 into the market at half the cost of their cheapest Core i3 to begin with? I enthusiastically endorsed this seemingly questionable business decision (along with all of the buyers of this often out-of-stock CPU) when it first hit the market a few months ago, and now - if rumors are to be believed - the company might just be killing it off. This would be a move reminiscent of Nintendo's recent NES Classic, which was apparently too popular for its $59.99 price tag (and scalpers worldwide rejoiced). Nintendo, of course, killed the NES Classic when it was at its height of popularity, perhaps as it was just not profitable enough to justify continued production? (And besides, a soon-to-be-$300-on-eBay SNES Classic was in the works.)
Might the Pentium G4560 be Intel's NES Classic? It seems a little too likely for comfort.
Move Over T150...
The Thrustmaster TMX was released this past summer to address the Xbox One ecosystem with an affordable, entry level force-feedback wheel. This is essentially the Xbox version of the previously reviewed Thrustmaster T150 for the PS3/PS4. There are many things that these two wheels have in common, but there are a few significant differences as well. The TMX is also PC compatible, which is what I tested it upon.
A no-nonsense box design that lets the buyer know exactly what systems this product is for.
The TMX is priced at an MSRP of $199. Along with the T150 this is truly an entry level FFB wheel with all of the features that racers desire. The wheel itself is 11” wide and the base is compact, with a solid feel. Unlike the T150, the TMX is entirely decked out in multiple shades of black. The majority of the unit is a dark, slick black while the rubber grips have a matte finish. The buttons on the wheel are colored appropriately according to the Xbox controller standards (yellow, blue, green, and red). The other buttons are black with a couple of them having some white stenciling on them.
The motor in this part is not nearly as powerful as what we find in the TX and T300rs base units. Those are full pulley based parts with relatively strong motors while the TMX is a combination gear and pulley system. This provides a less expensive setup than the full pulley systems of the higher priced parts, but it still is able to retain pretty strong FFB. Some of the more subtle effects may be lost due to the setup, but it is far and away a better solution than units that feature bungee cords and basic rumble functionality.
The back shows a basic diagram of the mixed pulley and geared subsystem for force-feedback.
The wheel features a 12 bit optical pickup sensor for motion on the wheel. This translates into 4096 values through 360 degrees of rotation. This is well below the 16 bit units of the TX and T300rs bases, but in my racing I did not find it to be holding me back. Yes, the more expensive units are more accurate and utilize the Hall Effect rather than an optical pickup, but the TMX provides more than enough precision for the vast majority of titles out there. The pedals look to feature the same 10 bit resolution that most other Thrustmaster pedals offer, or about 1024 values for several inches of travel.
Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 12:52 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, Chromebook, chrome os, CES 2016, budget, acer
CES 2016 has seen its share of high end product unveilings, but in addition to its premium hardware, Acer is launching a very budget-friendly PC in the form of the Chromebook 11. The new Chromebook 11 is a surprising product that does not compromise aesthetics in order to hit it’s $179 price tag.
Running Chrome OS, the budget 11.6” notebook features an aluminum alloy top cover with crosshatch pattern that helps to give it a more high end look. The rest of the laptop is plastic though The Verge claims that the build quality feels nice with a comfortable keyboard and a body that does not flex while typing. The top cover and hinges are a metallic silver while the bottom and area surrounding the keyboard is white. The keys are black with white lettering, and the package (at least from the photos) looks like it belongs to a more expensive laptop! A webcam sits above the display and a large trackpad is nestled below the keyboard. It measures 0.73 inches thick and weighs 2.42 pounds. Acer claims it can withstand corner drops from a height of 60cm (just under 2 ft).
The Verge got hands-on time with the new Chromebook at CES 2016.
The left side of the Chromebook 11 holds the DC power input, HDMI output, USB 3.0 port, and a SD card slot while the right side has a SIM card slot, headphone jack, USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot.
The Chromebook 11 had me excited, but it is not perfect. Acer did not compromise looks, but compromises had to be made somewhere and in the case of the Chromebook 11 it is, unfortunately, in the display which has a mere 720p resolution. That is the big drawback in this notebook, made slightly livable due to it having a matte finish with enough backlight that it can be used outdoors.
Internally, Acer is using a quad core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal flash storage.
The Chromebook 11 will be available at the end of January starting at $179 in the US and 229 Euros across the pond.
I think this would be a good PC for younger students or as a second PC. I was excited about this for $179 while reading about it, but it was tempered by the revelation that the display resolution is stuck at 720p which isn’t horrible but I was expecting a bit more there (at least give me 1366x768...). What do you think about Acer’s newest Chromebook?
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Processors | November 21, 2014 - 04:08 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: quad core, pentium, gaming, far cry 4, dual-core, dragon age inquisition, cpus, budget, athlon
A new report covering dual-core woes with Far Cry 4 paints a "bleak future" for budget gamers.
Image credit: Polygon
For a while now the dual-core Pentium processors have been a great option for budget gaming, with the Pentium G3220 and newer G3258 Anniversary Edition taking center stage in a number of budget gaming builds. Today, we may be nearing the end of the road for dual-core CPUs entirely as a couple of high-profile games now require a quad-core CPU.
Is the anniversary really...over?
Far Cry 4 won't even open with a dual-core CPU installed, and while the game will load when using dual-core CPU's with hyper-threading enabled (for 4 total "cores") the performance isn't very good. PC World's article points to users "reporting that Far Cry 4 flat-out refuses to work with 'straight' dual-core PCs - chips that don’t use hyperthreading to 'fake' having additional cores." The article references a "black-screen 'failure to launch' bug" being reported by users with these dual-core chips.
This should come as good news for AMD, who has embraced quad-core designs throughout their lineup, including very affordable offerings in the budget space.
Image credit: AMD
AMD offers very good gaming performance with a part like the Athlon X4 760K, which matched the Pentium G3220 in our budget gaming shootout and was neck and neck with the Pentium in our $550 1080p gaming PC article back in April. And the Athlon 760K is now selling for just under $77, close to the current best-selling $70 Pentium.
Ubisoft has made no secret of their new game's hefty system requirements, with an Intel Core i5-750 or AMD Phenom II X4 955 listed as the minimum CPUs supported. Another high-profile new release, Dragon Age: Inquisition, also requires a quad core CPU and cannot be played on dual-core machines.
Image credit: Origin
Looks like the budget gaming landscape is changing. AMD’s position looks very good unless Intel chooses to challenge the under $80 price segment with some true quad-core parts (and their current 4-core CPUs start at more than twice that amount).
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2014 - 07:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, nividia, budget, 1080p, r7 265, gtx 750 ti, r7 260x
[H]ard|OCP's testing was performed using an i7-3770K but for those looking at the G3258 or other lower priced processors their results will still hold true. As of this posting all three of these cards are within $15 of the $150 mark so even including taxes and shipping you can get your hands on one for less than $200. If you have a 1080p monitor and want the best bang for your buck, which card is the best choice? The results were not absolutely clear cut and your experience may vary depending on the overclock you can achieve but in the end one card stood out, see which one in their full review.
"Today we continue our quest at finding the best value for 1080p gaming at less than $200. We are looking at two video cards from ASUS, the R7 265 DirectCU II and the GTX 750 Ti DirectCU II OC. We will compare across a variety of 1080p gaming, and draw our conclusion on the best value between the R7 260X, R7 265, and GTX 750 Ti."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS ROG Striker Platinum GTX 760 4GB @ [H]ard|OCP
- The NVIDIA TITAN Z Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Asus GTX780 Ti ROG Matrix @ Kitguru
- Swiftech Komodo NV-LE GPU Block Review @HiTech Legion
- MSI R9 280 GAMING 3G @ X-bit Labs
- HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sapphire Radeon R9 280 Dual-X 3GB Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
Subject: Motherboards | July 7, 2014 - 07:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asrock, Fatal1ty Z97 Killer, budget
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer can be yours for $135, much less than many previous motherboards bearing that famous name and [H]ard|OCP has a good idea why after reviewing the board. The build quality of the board is rather cheap, as in the PCB is "as straight as undercooked bacon and feels more prone to breakage than the crispiest strips of bacon" and there was also mention of blood spilled. However you should not judge the board by its cover as [H] soon found out, 8 phase power and sold caps provided a solid performance experience with no problems installing the OS or during their benchmarking process. Their i7-4770K hit 4.7GHz with almost no effort whatsoever and can be coaxed higher if you have the time and skill. This mix of low price, cheap build and stellar performance for a budget board earned this Killer a Gold Award and a place on the short list for economical enthusiasts.
"The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer offers very little frills and boasts tons of performance at a very low cost. ASRock with us has been hit and miss in the past in terms of reviews. This $125 has all the features though that are needed to get you overclocking though. We put the ASRock Z97 Killer Fatal1ty to the test."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK @ eTeknix
- GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK Intel Z97 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- ASRock Z97 Extreme6 @ Phoronix
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97WE LGA1150 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASRock Z97 Extreme6 @ Kitguru
- ASUS MAXIMUS VII HERO @ techPowerUp
- ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Killer Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
The Road to 1080p
The stars of the show: a group of affordable GPU options
When preparing to build or upgrade a PC on any kind of a budget, how can you make sure you're extracting the highest performance per dollar from the parts you choose? Even if you do your homework comparing every combination of components is impossible. As system builders we always end up having to look at various benchmarks here and there and then ultimately make assumptions. It's the nature of choosing products within an industry that's completely congested at every price point.
Another problem is that lower-priced graphics cards are usually benchmarked on high-end test platforms with Core i7 processors - which is actually a necessary thing when you need to eliminate CPU bottlenecks from the mix when testing GPUs. So it seems like it might be valuable (and might help narrow buying choices down) if we could take a closer look at gaming performance from complete systems built with only budget parts, and see what these different combinations are capable of.
With this in mind I set out to see just how much it might take to reach acceptable gaming performance at 1080p (acceptable being 30 FPS+). I wanted to see where the real-world gaming bottlenecks might occur, and get a feel for the relationship between CPU and GPU performance. After all, if there was no difference in gaming performance between, say, a $40 and an $80 processor, why spend twice as much money? The same goes for graphics. We’re looking for “good enough” here, not “future-proof”.
The components in all their shiny boxy-ness (not everything made the final cut)
If money was no object we’d all have the most amazing high-end parts, and play every game at ultra settings with hundreds of frames per second (well, except at 4K). Of course most of us have limits, but the time and skill required to assemble a system with as little cash as possible can result in something that's actually a lot more rewarding (and impressive) than just throwing a bunch of money at top-shelf components.
The theme of this article is good enough, as in, don't spend more than you have to. I don't want this to sound like a bad thing. And if along the way you discover a bargain, or a part that overperforms for the price, even better!
Yet Another AM1 Story?
We’ve been talking about the AMD AM1 platform since its introduction, and it makes a compelling case for a low cost gaming PC. With the “high-end” CPU in the lineup (the Athlon 5350) just $60 and motherboards in the $35 range, it makes sense to start here. (I actually began this project with the Sempron 3820 as well, but it just wasn’t enough for 1080p gaming by a long shot so the test results were quickly discarded.) But while the 5350 is an APU, I didn't end up testing it without a dedicated GPU. (Ok, I eventually did but it just can't handle 1080p.)
But this isn’t just a story about AM1 after all. Jumping right in here, let's look at the result of my research (and mounting credit card debt). All prices were accurate as I wrote this, but are naturally prone to fluctuate:
|Memory||4GB Samsung OEM PC3-12800 DDR3-1600 (~$40 Value)|
|Storage||Western Digital Blue 1TB Hard Drive - $59.99|
|Power Supply||EVGA 430 Watt 80 PLUS PSU - $39.99|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit - $99|
So there it is. I'm sure it won't please everyone, but there is enough variety in this list to support no less than 16 different combinations, and you'd better believe I ran each test on every one of those 16 system builds!