Author:
Manufacturer: MSI Computers

MSI R6970 Lightning: High Speed, Low Drag

MSI has been on a tear as of late with their video card offerings.  The Twin Frozr II and III series have all received positive reviews, people seem to be buying their products, and the company has taken some interesting turns in how they handle overall design and differentiation in a very crowded graphics marketplace.  This did not happen overnight, and MSI has been a driving force in how the video card business has developed.

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Perhaps a company’s reputation is best summed up by what the competition has to say about them.  I remember well back in 1999 when Tyan was first considering going into the video card business.  Apparently they were going to release a NVIDIA TnT-2 based card to the marketplace, and attempt to work their way upwards with more offerings.  This particular project was nixed by management.  A few years later Tyan attempted the graphics business again, but this time with some ATI Radeon 9000 series of cards.  Their biggest seller was their 9200 cards, but they also offered their Tachyone 9700 Pro.  In talking with Tyan about where they were, the marketing guy simply looked at me and said, “You know, if we had pursued graphics back in 1999 we might be in the same position that MSI is in now.”

Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

The fast get faster

Introduction

With all the news and excitement about the Sandy Bridge architecture, platform and processors from Intel since their launch in January, it is easy to overlook the Nehalem architecture that continues to sell and be integrated into the fastest consumer PCs available. Remember Nehalem and its three digit model numbers? You really have to stretch that memory as it was before the CPU/GPU combo of Sandy Bridge and even before the Clarkdale / Lynnfield processors that began the move towards lower cost dual-channel memory based processors.

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It seems odd to think that today we are taking a step BACK in time to review the new Core i7-990X processor and a very nicely upgraded X58 motherboard from Intel in the form of the DX58SO2. The Core i7-990X is a Gulftown (6-core) processor that in many cases becomes the fastest consumer processor on the market and flagship CPU for Nehalem and the “Extreme Edition” suffix. Replacing the i7-980X, the 990X will fill that $999 processor segment for extreme enthusiasts and high end system builders.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Design

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High-end gaming laptops represent the most powerful of a breed, and are built using all the creativity and ingenuity that laptop manufacturers have at their disposal. Somewhere along the path towards performance, practicality begins to fall to the wayside – but that’s okay, because it was never really the point. 

The MSI GT680R is one of the goliaths of gaming laptops. Although there are larger gaming laptops than this 15.6” model, it remains a very big boy that’s not built with frequent or long-distance travel in mind. Of course, this substantial girth has made it possible for MSI to cram a slew of cutting-edge hardware inside.

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

The Obsidian Series gets a little brother

Corsair has had a good run as of late with a host of new products that fall WELL outside the original memory vendor stereotype.  I mean, seriously?  We have had cases like the Obsidian 800D, power supplies like the HX1000W, headphones and speakers like the HS1A and the SP2500 and of course the water coolers in the vein of the H50.  The list goes on but Corsair has obviously done a tremendous job of expanding a roadmap to stay relevant and among the most cutting edge enthusiast companies on the map.

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Images from Newegg.com

Today we are going to take a look at the Corsair Obsidian Series 650D chassis, a case that follows in the footsteps of the popular (but expensive) 800D and 700D options but lowers the price, and the height, quite a bit.  

Read on for the full video review...

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: VIA

Past Nano History

One could argue that VIA jumped on the low power bandwagon before it was really cool.  Way back in the late 90s VIA snatched up processor firms Cyrix and Centaur, and started to merge those design teams to create low powered x86 CPUs.  Over the next several years VIA was still flying high on the chipset side, but due to circumstances started to retreat from that business.  On the Intel side it was primarily due to the legal issues that stemmed from the front side bus license that VIA had, and how it apparently did not apply to the Pentium 4.  On the AMD side it was more about the increased competition from NVIDIA and ATI/AMD, plus the lack of revenue from that smaller CPU market.  Other areas have kept VIA afloat through the years, such as audio codecs, very popular Firewire controllers, and the latest USB 3.0 components that are starting to show up.

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Considering all of the above, VIA thought its best way to survive was to get into the CPU business and explore a niche in the x86 market that had been widely ignored except for a handful of products from guys like Nat Semi (who had originally bought up Cyrix).  In the late 90s and early 00s there just was not much of a call for low power x86 products, and furthermore the industry was still at a point where even mundane productivity software would max out the top end x86 processors at the time.  This was a time where 1GHz was still not common, and all processors were single core.  Fast forward to 2011 and we have four and six core processors running in excess of 3 GHz.  We have also seen a dramatic shift in the x86 realm to specialized, lower power processors.

Read on for more details!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Z68 is what we wanted all along

In reality, this is what we wanted all along.  When the Intel P67 chipset launched in conjunction with the Intel Sandy Bridge desktop processors, the combination of the new architecture of the x86 processing cores and the newly revamped overclocking capability (courtesy of the enhanced Intel Turbo Boost technology) made for a lethal configuration.  Without a doubt it was the highest performing platform for enthusiasts and gamers and put even more pressure on the AMD CPU division to step up its game.  Intel asserted itself again as the dominant CPU vendor.

The other key feature addition to Sandy Bridge was the inclusion of some fairly high performing integrated processor graphics on the CPU die itself, NOT on the chipset.  The Intel HD Graphics 3000 / 2000 far exceeds the horsepower of the integrated graphics on the Clarkdale processors but that really wasn't hard to achieve.  Along with that added graphical performance was the inclusion of a very interesting feature called Intel Quick Sync that allowed specific applications to take advantage of fixed function hardware on the CPU for incredibly fast video transcoding times.

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The problem was that even mainstream users that decided to use a discrete graphics card in their computer rather than depend SOLELY on the integrated graphics of the Sandy Bridge architecture, lost out on the Quick Sync feature all together.  Why?  The P67 chipset that supported overclocking and other "high-end" features didn't include video output support.  The H67 chipset that DOES support video output does not offer overclocking functionality.  And since the Quick Sync technology was only available when the integrated graphics were initialized, most of our readers that really wanted to game and use a discrete GPU from NVIDIA or AMD were out of luck.  

Today's reveal of the Intel Z68 chipset finally presents a solution that combines the features of the H67 chipset with those of the P67 chipset to create the best option for Sandy Bridge system builders. 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

For the past few months, we've seen rumors upon rumors of a hybrid combination of the H67 and P67 chipsets into a 'Z' series. As the storage editor, I don't normally focus on a chipset update unless there is a corresponding increase in SATA bus speeds and/or ports available on the newer product.

This time things were different. While the Z series had the same SATA bandwidth specs as its older brothers, there was an extra feature that was rather huge in the storage world: Smart Response Technology.

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Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HP

HP Mini 210 Review: Introduction

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With all of the talk about tablets and smartphones it’s easy to forget just how popular netbooks are and remain. The days of absurd 800% market share growth numbers are over, but netbooks remain a part of the mobile computing market and are not likely to disappear any time soon.

That may mean the end of excitement over netbook, but it also means the opportunity for refinement. New, revolutionary products often have rough edges. Many older netbooks had poor keyboards and so-so build quality. My old Samsung N10, which was considered the cream of the crop in its day, looks cheap compared to today’s models – and I paid just over $400 for it.

Author:
Manufacturer: Kingwin
Tagged: PSU, Kingwin

Introduction and Features

The Kingwin LZP-550 PSU is one of the first 80PLUS Platinum certified power supplies to hit the market. And high efficiency isn't the LZP-550's only claim to fame. Check out our review to see why it earned an Editor's Choice award.Introduction
        

           
Kingwin has just released their first Lazer Platinum Series power supply, the LZP-550, which is one of the first 80PLUS Platinum certified PC power supplies on the market.  The LZP-550 PSU is rated for 550W output and can be easily overclocked to 650W output with only a slight drop in efficiency.  Kingwin's new power supply comes with a full compliment of fixed and modular cables, a quiet 140mm fan that doesn't even turn on until the load heats up, and includes universal AC input with Active PFC.  It is designed to support the latest Intel and AMD processors along with multiple high-end graphic adapters.  And last but not least, Kingwin has extended their traditional 3-year warranty to five years; now we're talking.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HTC

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

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Watching today’s smartphone market brings back memories. Right now the transition from single-core to dual-core products is being made, as is a transition from older 3G networks to the latest 4G technology. I’m reminded of the excitement of the first dual-core x86 processors, as well as the rabid arguments surrounding them. 

Many dual-core phone are still “coming soon”, however, which means that single-core flagships like the HTC Thunderbolt are still able to impress. This 4.3” smartphone is everything you’d expect a premier high-end Android handset to be. As I’ll explain, that has its positive and negatives, but the specifications look great on paper.

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Phenom II End of Line

It was January, 2009 when AMD released their first 45 nm product to the desktop market.  While the server market actually received the first 45 nm parts some months earlier, they were pretty rare until AMD finished ramping production and was able to release the next generation of Phenom parts into the wild.  The Phenom II proved an able competitor to Intel’s seemingly unstoppable Core 2 architecture.  While the Phenom II typically had to be clocked slightly higher than the competing products, they held up well in terms of price and performance.

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AMD was finally able to overcome the stigma of the original Phenom launch, which was late, slow, and featured that wonderful revision B2 bug.  The Phenom II showed none of those problems, per clock performance was enhanced, and the chips were able to run at speeds of 3.0 GHz.  These chips were able to hit speeds of 4+ GHz on water cooling, and 5+ GHz using LNO2.  AMD seemed finally back in the game.  The Phenom II looked to propel AMD back into competitiveness with Intel, and the leaks pertaining to the 6 core versions of the architecture only made consumers all the more excited for what was to come.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design

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The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors. 

Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games. 

According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life. 

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Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.

Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Dell

Introduction to the Dell U3011

The days of “Dude, you're getting a Dell” might be long gone but when you are talking about monitors it suddenly becomes apropos again. Dell has been making good quality, large size monitors for long enough to be recognized as a major player in the field and the 30” Dell U3011 is a perfect example of why. Anyone who has seen a true 16:10, 2560x1600 display has probably had the temptation to tell a smug owner of a 50”+ 1080p LCD TV that their computer monitor goes up to 1600p. That jump in resolution has far more effect on your enjoyment than slapping on 3D glasses to watch golf with golfball sized pixels.

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This particular display is a CCFL backlit H-IPS TFT, using an LG LM300WQ5 panel and does indeed have a full 30” viewing area, the actual monitor is over 32” horizontally with the bezel included, something to keep in mind if you plan on using multiple displays. With that great size comes some difficulties, while nowhere near the weigh of a large sized CRT the over 20lbs of the U3011 can make removing it from the box and positioning it interesting to say the least. Also something to keep in mind is that according to Dell, in regular use this monitor draws 110W and can pull up to 250W when USB drives are in use and you’ve bought and installed a Dell Soundbar.

Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 460, gpu, evga, 2win

A Card Unlike Any Other

Introduction

In all honesty, there aren't many graphics cards that really get our attention these days.  There are GPUs that do that - releases like the Radeon HD 6990 and the GeForce GTX 590 get our juices flowing to see what new performance and features they can offer.  But in terms of individual vendor-specific designs, there are very few that make us "perk up" much more than just seeing another reference card come across the test bed.  

The ASUS ARES dual-5870 card was probably the last one do to that - and for $1200 is better have!  EVGA is ready with another card though that definitely made us interested, and for a much more reasonable price of $419 or so.

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The EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2WIN is a custom built card that combines a pair of GTX 460 1GB GPUs on a single PCB to create a new level of performance and pricing that we found was unmatched in the market today.  And even better, the features improved as well by utilizing the power of both GPUs in an SLI configuration.  

Read on and see why the GTX 460 2WIN might be my new favorite graphics card!

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Features

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ASRock is teaming up with Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel to bring back to life the Fatal1ty series of gamer-centric motherboards. Their latest creation is dubbed the P67 Professional and this particular LGA 1155-based motherboard pulls out all the stops in terms of quality components and enthusiast-level features. The use of premium gold caps, Japanese conductive polymer capacitors, and support for quad SLI and CrossfireX graphics configurations makes the P67 Professional a true head-turner for gamers looking for every edge to max out their system's gaming prowess.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS
Tagged: netbook, ion, eee pc, atom, asus

Introduction and Design

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You don’t hear much about Atom these days. It’s still there, still kicking, still being stuffed inside an endless stream of netbooks. Yet it’s also not very exciting, and hasn’t created much buzz. This isn’t a case of a journalistic blind spot; Atom just hasn't been update. The original was released in 2008, but Intel hasn’t released a major performance upgrade since. By comparison, the performance of mainstream mobile laptop processors has, in some benchmarks, doubled over the same time-span.  The processor performance of Atom, measured relative to the power of an average $600 laptop with a Core i3 dual-core, is actually becoming worse over time. 

Yet Atom has still dominated the laptop market because of one reason; there was no other alternative. For the first time, however, that’s changing. AMD has released its Fusion APUs, and we recently reviewed two different laptops with two different versions of that technology – the single-core E-240 in the Toshiba Satellite C655D and the dual-core E-350 in the Sony Vaio Y.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Sony

Introduction and Design

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Tech journalists are finicky beasts. A few years ago we were washing netbooks in praise, declaring that they promised a new era of accessibility and portability for the PC. But now the tables have turned – tablets have usurped the throne of “cool new thing” and tech news is all too eager to declare the netbook little more than a passing trend, soon to be booted out of the market by glorious touchscreen slates.

The truth, however, is not as extreme has the headlines suggest. Netbooks are another boring reality that won’t be going anywhere soon, despite declarations of death and injury.  But I can understand why they’ve lost the limelight. The improvements made to netbooks over the last three years have been incremental at best. While battery life has gradually grown, performance has barely moved. Intel, lacking competition from AMD, has had little reason to improve its Atom processors. 

Now AMD has finally brought an Atom competitor to the market in the form of its Fusion APUs. We already reviewed one laptop powered by Fusion, the Toshiba Satellite C655. That laptop, however, was equipped with AMD’s single-core E-240. It provided performance roughly on par with a dual-core Atom system we tested in 2010, but ultimately fell a bit shot of our expectations.

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged: turks, radeon, htpc, amd, 6670, 6570

Introduction and the new Turks GPU

Introduction

It seems that the graphics card wars have really heated up recently.  With the release of the Radeon HD 6990 4GB and the GeForce GTX 590 3GB card it might seem that EVERYONE was spending $600 on their next GPU purchase.  Obviously that isn't the case and the world of the sub-$100 card, while way less sexy, is just as important.

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This week AMD has announced a slew of new options to address this market including the Radeon HD 6670, HD 6570 and even the HD 6450.  Topping out at $99, the Radeon HD 6670 offers good performance, strong HTPC features and low power consumption.  NVIDIA's competition is still reasonable though as we compare how the now price-dropped GeForce GTS 450 sits into the stack.

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: General
Tagged: podcast

Episode #150 is ready!

** UPDATE ** If you are looking for the most recent PC Perspective Podcast episode and information, make sure you bookmark the URL http://pcper.com/podcast as the new permanent home!!

This week we talk about the MSI 890FXA-GD65 Motherboard, ASUS N53S Notebook, IE10 running on NVIDIA Tegra, Viewer Voicemails, Questions, Hardware/Software Pics of the Week and much more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

PC Perspective Podcast #150 - 4/14/11  

This week we talk about the MSI 890FXA-GD65 Motherboard, ASUS N53S Notebook, IE10 running on NVIDIA Tegra, Viewer Voicemails, Questions, Hardware/Software Pics of the Week and much more! 

New URL for the podcast: http://pcper.com/podcast  Share with your friends!   

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes        
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS aggregator
  • MP3 - Download the MP3 file directly

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their new  Sandy Bridge motherboards! 

Program length: 1:25:30                                            

Program schedule:

Video after the break by clicking the "Read More" link!
 

 

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

PC Perspective Podcast #149 - 4/07/11  

This week we talk about the Thermaltake Level 10 GT case, AMD shipping Llano, the Intel 320 SSD, Radeon HD 6790, Hardware/Software Pics of the Week and much more! 

New URL for the podcast: http://pcper.com/podcast  Share with your friends!   

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes        
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS aggregator
  • MP3 - Download the MP3 file directly

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their Big Bang XPower Motherboard 

Program length: 1:14:22                                            

Program schedule:

 

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

PC Perspective Podcast #148 - 3/31/11  

This week we answer a variety of questions from the TWiT Live chat room!

New URL for the podcast: http://pcper.com/podcast  Share with your friends!   

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes        
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS aggregator
  • MP3 - Download the MP3 file directly

Hosts:  Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom and featuring Burke McQuinn

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their Big Bang XPower Motherboard 

Program length: 1:02:12                                            

Program schedule:

      

     Due to some technical difficulties involving a certain ISP in Canada, this week's podcast turned into an impromptu Question and Answer session involving the TWiT Live chatroom. While this is different than our usual format, it turned out to be an informative, and entertaining to say the least, podcast.

 

 

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

PC Perspective Podcast #147 - 3/24/11  

This week we talk about Overclocking the HD6990, the MSI HS6950 Twin Frozr II, PCMark 7, Viewer Voicemails and Emails, Hardware/Software Pics of the Week and much more! 

New URL for the podcast: http://pcper.com/podcast  Share with your friends!   

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes        
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS aggregator
  • MP3 - Download the MP3 file directly

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their Big Bang XPower Motherboard 

Program length: 1:13:19                                            

Program schedule:

 

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

PC Perspective Podcast #146 - 3/17/11  

This week we talk about the NVIDIA GTX 550Ti, Lucid Hydra Performance testing, OCZ acquiring Indilinx, a Dual GTX 460 card, Hardware/Software Pics of the Week and much more! 

New URL for the podcast: http://pcper.com/podcast  Share with your friends!   

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes        
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS aggregator
  • MP3 - Download the MP3 file directly

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their Big Bang XPower Motherboard 

Program length: 1:14:18                                                  

Program schedule:

  • 0:00:28 Introduction        
  • 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com        
 
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI
Tagged:

Introduction and Features

MSI packed the P67A-GD65 with several high-end features that cater to a variety of users ranging from novice overclockers to hardcore enthusiasts looking for the best components at a competitive price. The B3 version of this board is fixed squarely under the $200 ceiling and includes highly-conductive polymerized capacitors, super ferrite chokes, and solid capacitors that should give this board a long lifespan and higher efficiency overall.

MSI brings out the big guns with military-grade P67A-GD65


Courtesy of MSI