Subject: Systems | May 28, 2012 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DIY, econobox, sweet spot, double stuff
The Tech Report have updated their Systems Guide just in time for the holiday in the US, so you should have plenty of time to peruse their recommendations today. From an i3-2120 powered Econobox priced just under $600 to over $1500 Editor's Choice system with a GTX670, i5-3570K and Samsung 830 SSD there is a system for just about everyone. Read straight through to the end for suggestions for monitors, keyboards and more.
You can contrast their picks with our own Hardware Leaderboard here.
"We've freshened up our system guide with new-and-improved builds featuring Ivy Bridge CPUs, 28-nm graphics processors, and cheaper-than-ever solid-state drives. Come and see what we've put together."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Dell XPS 8500 Review @ TechReviewSource
- BitFenix Prodigy @ OC3D
- HP Z420 Workstation Review: Competition Heats Up @ AnandTech
- Eurocom Monster 1.0: Clevo's Little Monster @ AnandTech
- CKC - The Curtain Call @ OC3D
- Cyberpower PC Gamer Xtreme 2000 SE System Review @ Ninjalane
- V3 Gaming PC Avenger @ AnandTech
- Chillblast Fusion Vacuum @ XSReviews
- AlienWare X51 System @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 26, 2012 - 03:10 AM | Scott Michaud
ZDNet reports that HP will cut 27,000 jobs over the next two years which represents approximately 8 percent of their global staffing. The company claims that it will take those savings -- which are expected to be slightly over 3 billion dollars -- and re-invest them in research and development.
Yes that is right: 27k as in 27,000 jobs over two years.
CEO Meg Whitman made a statement that over the next couple of years HP will cut around eight percent of their workforce to refocus on research and development. They expect that with their projected cuts they will be able to recover $3-3.5 billion from wages to spend on their research into “cloud and big data” technologies.
Let us hope that they can keep their projected revenue even with the lessened workforce.
So many printers -- but none print money.
And let us just think about the announcement for another second. The expectation is to lay off all those employees over the course of two years to reduce the short-term morale dip.
So instead you have practically all of your employees dust off their resumes in case their Russian roulette chance is not an empty chamber?
Congratulations HP -- you now probably have a company full of paranoid personnel.
Once again the loss of jobs is under 10 percent and thus I hesitate to make any guesses about the health of HP as a company. My general rule of thumb is that you can very loosely tell how bad a company is off depending on how many employees they lay off percentage wise. Up to approximately 10 percent is tragic but somewhat standard restructuring for a larger company. Up to 30 percent is seriously hard times. Approximately 100 percent means the company is either attempting to reboot or get picked apart for liquidation.
Again, that is just my rule of thumb when I look at these stories.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 23, 2012 - 10:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, flash
Microsoft has backed down, to some extent, from their “plug-in free; web standards only” position for the Metro-half of IE10. Some, but not all, Flash content will be able to play in the Metro browser. This change should be included in the Windows 8 Release Preview expected to be released in early June.
You may turn your back on Adobe but you’ll be back in a Flash.
Rafael Rivera has published a post on his Within Windows blog which he co-authored with Paul Thurrott about Flash integration with the Metro web browser. Until recently Microsoft was passionately against anything other than web standards in their Metro browser. Plugins are still not allowed in the application but that does not exclude Microsoft from embedding Flash into the browser directly.
I guess Silverlight is not popular enough…
(screenshot credit: Within Windows)
Adobe actively supports Microsoft’s efforts and has provided the source code to facilitate the integration into Metro Internet Explorer 10.
Security will rest somewhat on Microsoft’s ability to patch their software in time but will also be supported by a whitelist system. Flash for Internet Explorer 10 will only be supported on certain websites in certain ways. Unless your website is listed as requiring Flash for compatibility reasons then your website will not have access to the platform.
I am not really sure whether there is a cut or dry answer to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The only thing I can say for certain is that Microsoft gives the impression that they had a strong and clear vision for Windows 8 and since completely abandoned their plan.
It follows the rumors of what happened to Vista: a bunch of years working on a secure memory management architecture that was scrapped at the last minute requiring over half of the OS to be rewritten in C++.
We all know how great that turned out.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | May 22, 2012 - 05:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VIA, htpc, APC
VIA tops Gingerbread with a banana for some reason. They also unveil a $49 system powered by Android 2.3 which has been customized for mouse and keyboard support. The system draws between 4 and 13.5 watts (idle and load respectively) and can be mounted into any standard Mini-ITX or microATX chassis as well as chassis for the new Neo-ITX standard.
I guess VIA wants to be more than just Android-in-law to HTC.
It seems as though the low powered computing market is continuing to be eaten by ARM with devices such as VIA’s just announced APC Android PC. The APC seems to be aimed at the home theatre and enthusiast markets. VIA also hopes that the low price point will introduce more people to computing.
Apparently VIA prefers bananas to Apples.
The APC is powered by an 800MHz VIA ARM11 system-on-a-chip with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. 2GB of flash memory is embedded on the device which can be expanded by a microSD card slot. It may also be possible to install extra memory through one of the four USB2.0 ports on the device although that is not explicitly stated in the press release. Display output will be limited to 720p. Power usage will vary between 4 and 13.5 watts depending on load.
VIA is also promoting the device for its Neo-ITX form factor. The APC is 17cm x 8.5cm in dimensions -- which is just under 6 3/4” by 3 3/8” for you non-Metrics -- and can mount in Mini-ITX or microATX cases. It apparently is also smaller than a banana.
The APC is expected to ship this July for $49.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 17, 2012 - 03:13 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Microsoft Store, crapware
“Factory computers” have been loaded with demos and trials for several years now in an effort to subsidize part of the cost, get lower prices, and bloat your computer -- that last part is unintentional. Microsoft created their “Signature” lineup of PCs a couple of years ago to highlight products that only have software which Microsoft intended to install. Microsoft will soon offer a service to bring existing PCs to what Microsoft deems a Signature status for $99 if you can find a Microsoft store.
While our readers are affected by this story they are probably less so than just about any other blog.
If you did not acquire your computer by having it assembled -- and if you did, we hope you consulted our regularly updated Hardware Leaderboard -- you probably purchased it from an OEM. To make their product seem more appealing most OEMs load their products with product demos and other advertisements. This is particularly bad for PCs because they are not only annoying but also tend to bog the machine down.
What is it with Microsoft Stores and awkward $99 products lately?
(and yes I realize the image is inaccurate because I chose a non-consumer workstation)
Since Microsoft tends to get the brunt of the bad recognition when a Windows machine it comes to no surprise that they eventually attempted to encourage a more vanilla experience. The Microsoft “Signature” lineup of PCs were OEM-produced machines which have been removed of all software that should not come with Windows -- except maybe a few Windows Live Essentials products.
Microsoft will expand their Signature program to any PC if you can find a Microsoft Store and pay $99 to undo what their partners did.
It is unclear what specific goal Microsoft is hoping to accomplish with this program. Everyone’s first reaction would be that they are attempting to cash in at the expense of their users but that just does not make sense. They could be attempting to promote the Windows store but this certainly seems less like a carrot and more like a wet noodle. They could also be trying to pressure their OEMs by reducing the cost-per-impression they can acquire for each ad because of how easily it could be removed.
It would be most like Microsoft to honestly believe that this service will be appreciated by users. If that is true, I must disagree. ZDNet has already used this as an excuse to promote Apple computers -- which makes me headdesk because $99 is pocket change compared to that -- so I expect that if that was Microsoft’s intent it will backfire wholly.
What do you think Microsoft’s goal is: selfish vulching their consumers or something less devious?
Subject: Systems | May 14, 2012 - 06:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, CoolIT Eco II 140, EVGA GTX 670 SuperClocked, i7-3770k
Legit Reviews didn't let a fear of overheating prevent them from building a very powerful Ivy Bridge based SFF PC that is a lot more than just an HTPC. While a system with an EVGA GTX 670 SuperClocked card in it can handle HTPC duties it will only really shine when you game on it. Thanks to a CoolIT Eco II 140 Liquid Cooler for the CPU and a conveniently placed intake fan to cool the GPU they fit the entire system inside a Cubitek Mini ICE ITX case. It might have ended up costing just over $2500 but this is one compact gaming beast that can hit P8649 on 3DMark11!
"Building a Small Form Factor Mini-ITX computer can be challenging, but it is worth the extra work as the end result can be amazing. We managed to stuff a ton of enthusiast grade hardware into a PC case that measures just 9.06" x 12.33" x 14.29" (WxHxD)! We still ran into a few minor issues here and there, but at the end of the day it all worked out and the system came out just how we wanted it to. Our dream mini-ITX system is ready for any task you want to throw at it!"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- iBUYPOWER Erebus GT Review: Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680 in SLI @ AnandTech
- sus Essentio CM6870 Review @ TechReviewSource
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7
Microsoft is expected to announce their upgrade promotion for users to purchase a Windows 7 PC after early June and move up to Windows 8 when it is released. Unlike past promotions, such as Office 2010 and Windows 7, it is expected that you will have the option to be bumped to the Pro level SKU -- but not for free. While this does not rule out the potential for a free upgrade to Windows 8 Home, Mary-Jo Foley of CNET seems to have not heard that from her sources.
People constantly mock computers for having a very quick apparent turnaround time.
There tends to be a desire in consumers to put off purchasing new equipment. Users know that patience will very often yield more for the same cost. Software is no different which is why Microsoft and others offer initiatives to allow users to upgrade to impending releases with the purchase of the current version.
But wait, if you order now -- you can order later!
On or around June 2nd, Microsoft is expected to unveil their upgrade program for users who will purchase a Windows 7 machine. According to Mary-Jo Foley of CNET and her sources, this time you will be able to upgrade your Windows 7 machine to Windows 8 Pro. This upgrade will not be free but is expected to be under a hundred dollars according to leaked promotional content. Targeting June is designed to prevent sales of Windows 7 PCs dropping off for back to school.
The upgrade to Windows 8 Pro makes sense as it allows the addition of Windows Media Center and other features that were available in the lower end versions of Windows 7. I think you could imagine what a user would feel like if they updated their operating system and lost features that they could not even add back in to their “upgraded” version.
Of course the better option would likely have been to rethink removing features if they feel as though vanilla Windows 8 is not an apples-to-apples comparison to Windows 7 Home Premium.
Subject: Systems, Storage | May 11, 2012 - 04:34 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x79, sandy bridge-e, RevoDrive 3 X2, ramrod, just delivered, dv nation
Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
When you are a little fish in the great big pond of PC builders, you need to do something to stand out from the rest. The people behind DV Nation apparently were well aware of that when entering the system vendor business and offering up SSDs to every single system configuration. Through a new system they are offering, provocatively named the "RAMRod PC", DV Nation provides a pre-built system that has some very unique components and configuration settings.
Built around the Antec Three Hundred Two chassis, the first glance at the RAMRod doesn't really indicate anything special is going on under the hood. But let's take a quick look at the specs:
- Intel Core i7-3820 @ 4.4 GHz
- 64GB DDR3-1600 Memory from G.Skill
- Radeon HD 6990 4GB
- 2x Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid HDD in RAID-0
- OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB PCIE SSD
- RAMCache: SuperSpeed Supercache 8GB on PCIE SSD, 8GB on Momentus
- RAMDisk: 42GB ROMEX Primo rated at 8000 MB/s
- Cost: $5,400
Obviously there is a LOT of storage work going on in the RAMRod and the purpose of the rig is to be the fastest pre-configured storage available anywhere. If you are looking for a cheaper version of this system you can get a base model with 16GB of memory, 10GB RAMDisk, 2GB RAMCache, 240GB PCIe SSD, single standard hard drive and even at GTX 680 for $2999.
Let's take a quick walk around the rest of the system.
If the netbook was a shooting star, the nettop was an asteroid that never quite entered our atmosphere. Instead it flew silently by, noted by NASA, written about in a handful of articles, and now forgotten.
That doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist, however. It’s still out there, floating in space - and it occasionally swings back around for an encore. So we have the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180.
Of course, simply advertising a small computer as - well, a small computer - isn’t particularly sexy. The Q180 is instead being sold not just as general-purpose laptop but also as a media center (with optional Blu-Ray, not found on our review unit). There’s no doubting the demand for this, but so far, attempts to make PC-based media center computers have not done well - even Boxee, with its custom Linux-based operating system, was fussy. Can the Q180 succeed where others have stumbled? Let’s start with the specs.
It’s been awhile since we tested anything Atom. Since our last look at this line of processors, Intel has updated to the code-name Cedertrail processors, allowing for higher clock speeds. The 2.13 GHz dual-core Atom D2700 looks quite robust in print. But this still the same old architecture, so per-clock performance doesn’t come close to Intel’s Pentium and Core processors.
Also included in AMD’s Radeon HD 6450A, a version of the HD 6450 built for small systems that don’t have room for a typical PCIe graphics card. This makes up for the fact that all Atom processors are still using hopelessly outdated Intel Media Accelerator graphics, which is entirely unsuitable for HD video.
Subject: Systems | May 9, 2012 - 06:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, zbox nano-xs, SFF, htpc
Zotac's new ZBox Nano-XS is smaller than your average case fan, measuring only 4.17" x 4.17" x 1.46" (106mm x 106mm x 37mm) but is powerful enough you can stream video and even get some light game playing in on it. The name is a bit misleading as it is powered by a dual core AMD E-450 with a HD 6320 giving it impressive graphics for its size and the 64GB Kingston mSATA SSD making the general performance of the system quite snappy. Funky Kit does want you to be aware that this tiny PC ships without an OS so make sure that you are familiar with making a bootable USB drive with which to install your OS but apart from that they highly recommend the Nano-XS to anyone who needs a tiny PC.
"The performance of the ZBox impressed me. It can't touch my high end desktop of course, but given the size and the price it is quite impressive. You can do some low end gaming, watch any videos you might want to regardless of their resolution and it snaps windows around and loads programs quite quickly, thanks to the SSD."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Noontec MovieHome V8 NAS Media Player @ Kitguru
- Australian Blu-ray Importing: May 2012 Buying Guide @ Tweaktown
- ASRock's High-End Vision 3D 252B HTPC @ AnandTech
- Egreat S-Series R300 Network HD Media Player Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone Grandia GD07 Review: Centering and Serving Your Media @ AnandTech
- Thermaltake Element Q Small Form Factor Chassis @ TechwareLabs
- ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi A-E @ techPowerUp