Good things come in small ZBOXes; a tiny present from Zotac

Subject: Systems | October 21, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: zotac, ZBox Nano AD10, SFF, llano

The mini PC has been growing in popularity as its capabilities grow from barely being able to play back standard definition streamed flash to smoothly displaying HD content from a Blu-Ray drive.  One of the long standing members of this market, Zotac, fired off a ZBOX Nano AD10 Mini PC to Think Computers so that they could test it out.  At only 5"x5"x1.77" it is tiny and inside hides an AMD E350, AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, 7.1 channel audio, and a 320GB HDD, external USB 3.0 and eSATA plus both 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.  At $300 fully loaded Think Computers highly recommends this box for those needing a tiny PC.

TC_ZotacAD10.jpg

“We have seen quite a few different Mini PC’s lately. They make great Internet surfing and media machines for home theater setups. Not that long ago we took a look at Zotac’s ZBOX HD-AD02 mini PC, which proved to be a great and very function mini PC, but was a little on the large side. Today we have the ZBOX Nano AD10, which has to be one of the best-looking and smallest mini pc’s we have looked at. I know you are going to say it so we will say it now, it looks like a Mac Mini only smaller! Inside this small design you have an AMD E350 CPU, AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, 2GB of DDR 3 and a 320GB hard drive. Let’s check out the ZBOX Nano and see if performs as well as it looks!"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Western Digital has gone far beyond external drives; WD TV Live: The Next Generation

Subject: Systems | October 14, 2011 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: western digital, WD TV Live, htpc

The HTPC market has grown from a niche filled mostly by custom built machines running Windows Media Centre Edition to a wide variety of devices that can only manage simple tasks like streaming media to multifunctional SFF PCs.  Western Digital has has their WD TV Live on the market for a while now, capable of streaming online content to a TV as well as local HD content.  They've introduced a second generation of the WD TV Live, with expanded streaming options as well as a sleeker body and wireless connectivity.  Head over to Legit Reviews to see how well Western Digital's new generation of stream machine.

LR_WDTV_Live_2011.jpg

"Today, Western Digital is launching their new WD TV Live Streaming Media Player. The first thing you notice with this new generation is that Western Digital has changed the form factor rather dramatically making the new player more sleek than the original WD TV. Along with the form factor chance, Western Digital has integrated Wi-Fi directly into the box. With the built in wireless-N, you no longer have to worry about getting a compatible dongle or placing the player near access to an Ethernet cable..."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC

 

Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: AVADirect

A Pre-Built System in Your Budget

We all know that the majority of our readers enjoy building their own gaming systems - picking components, building the hardware, installing the software, etc.  But as gamers get older and the amount of time they have to dedicate to their passion decreases, some might be willing to take the move to buying a pre-built gaming rig based on industry standard components.  The benefits are definitely there: quicker turn around with just a couple days shipping, warranty and support for anything that should go wrong and the ability to upgrade and adapt your system in anyway you want.

01.jpg

AVADirect is a system builder that has been specializing in gaming PCs since 2003 and is based near Cleveland, Ohio.  They offer a wide array of PC options including the most basic and inexpensive machines used for business computing as well as top-level gaming machines with overclocked settings and high-end water cooling configurations. 

12.png

Recently AVADirect approached me with an interesting review idea: build a custom system for just around $1000 made for gaming and see if it could stand up to our testing.  The result is a rig based on the P67 platform (though since our system shipped you can get Z68 motherboards for the same price) and the Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor, coupled with a Radeon HD 6950 that provides enough gaming power to tackle the best PC games.

Here is our video review of the AVADirect custom $1000 gaming machine, and check below for more images and thoughts!

Continue reading our review of the AVADirect custom gaming system!

Author:
Manufacturer: id Software

RAGE Peforms...well

RAGE is not as dependant on your graphics hardware as it is on your CPU and storage system (which may be an industry first); the reason for which we will discover when talking about the texture pop-up issue on the next page.

Introduction

The first id Software designed game since the release of Doom 3 in August of 2004, RAGE has a lot riding on it.  Not only is this the introduction of the idTech 5 game engine but also culminates more than 4 years of development and the first new IP from the developer since the creation of Quake.  And since the first discussions and demonstrations of Carmack's new MegaTexture technology, gamers have been expecting a lot as well. 

02-screen.jpg

Would this game be impressive enough on the visuals to warrant all the delays we have seen?  Would it push today's GPUs in a way that few games are capable of?  It looks like we have answers to both of those questions and you might be a bit disappointed.  

Performance Characteristics

First, let's get to the heart of the performance question: will your hardware play RAGE?  Chances are, very much so.  I ran through some tests of RAGE on a variety of hardware including the GeForce GTX 580, 560 Ti, 460 1GB and the Radeon HD 6970, HD 6950, HD 6870 and HD 5850.  The test bed included an Intel Core i7-965 Nehalem CPU, 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory running off of a 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive.  Here are the results from our performance tests running at 1920x1080 resolution with 4x AA enabled in the game options:

Continue reading our initial look at RAGE performance and image quality!!

A general purpose Llano powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | October 4, 2011 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: A8-3800, gigabyte, A75M-UD2H, mATX

When you take an A8-3800 and pair it with a Gigabyte A75M-UD2H you end up with more than just an HTPC.  The flexibility built into the Llano series will give you far more than an Intel Atom or an AMD Neo could ever dream of.  The connectors range from new USB 3.0, DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI-D along with older style D-SUB, serial and parallel ports as well as audio, ensuring this system build will meet the needs of a variety of users.  Visit Missing Remote if you are looking to build an inexpensive AMD based PC.

apulineup.JPG

"New platforms are particularly interesting to us as home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts because it gives us a chance to clearly see how a generation of progress can be transformed into tangible benefits. Not long ago, integrated graphics processors (IGP) were strictly the choice of budget-minded consumers, but the recent relocation of the graphics processing unit (GPU) from the chipset to the processor made it a “first-class” citizen and brought new life to the solution while birthing a new concept – integrated processor graphics (IPG). AMD was not the first to release an IPG, or APU (accelerated processing unit) as they refer to it, but with the introduction of the Brazos/Zacate line earlier this year, a glimpse of Lynx/Llano’s promise became available."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

The Basics

Introduction

If you have been visiting PC Perspective at all over the last week there is no doubt you have seen a lot of discussion about the currently running Battlefield 3 beta.  We posted an article looking at performance of several different GPUs in the game and then followed it up with a look at older cards like the GeForce 9800 GT.  We did a live stream of some PC Perspective staff playing BF3 with readers and fans, showed off and tested the locked Caspian Border map and even looked at multi-GPU scaling performance.  It was a lot of testing and a lot of time, but now that we have completed it, we are ready to summarize our findings in a piece that many have been clamoring for - a Battlefield 3 system build guide.

05.jpg

The purpose of this article is simple: gather our many hours or testing and research and present the results in a way that simply says "here is the hardware we recommend."  It is a the exact same philosophy that makes our PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard so successful as it gives the reader all the information they need, all in one place.

Continue reading our guide for building a system for Battlefield 3!!

The ASUS WAVI means you can wave goodbye to wires

Subject: Systems | September 27, 2011 - 05:17 PM |
Tagged: htpc, wireless hdmi, wireless video

The ASUS WAVI is wireless HDMI extender kit that will allow you to stream audio and video from the transmitter to receiver as though there was an HDMI cord between the two devices.   Legit Reviews had fun testing it out, the latency when you are within range is low enough that you can game over this device.  However they could not get their USB mouse and keyboard to work though the device which does limit the usefulness in some cases.  If you get too far away you will lose some fidelity, but as long as you are in range this is a great way to avoid wires running all over your living room.

LR_ASUS-WAVI_1.jpg

"ASUS has launched and released what they are calling the world’s first wireless HDMI extender kit. What this is designed to do is take an existing audio video signal from your PC computer, and play on your HDMI-powered big-screen TV… Wirelessly. The Wireless Audio Video Interaction system – or WAVI – is designed not only to play your audio video content remotely, but via a two-way wireless USB, the WAVI will allow you to sit in your living room and control your PC as you pick the best video to show the family..."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC

ASUS Unveils a New Series of Innovative and Powerful All-in-One PCs

Subject: Systems | September 26, 2011 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: asus, all-in-one, AIO, ET2410 Series

Fremont, California (September 26, 2011) — Designed to offer versatile performance for a wide variety of users, ASUS is excited to unveil three new All-in-One (AIO) models featuring the 21.5” ET2210, 23.6” ET2410, and 27” ET2700. All three models feature vibrant 1080P LED backlit touchscreens, 2nd generation Intel Core processors, USB 3.0 and e-SATA connectivity, 802.11 N wireless LAN, Digital camera, SonicMaster Audio and VESA-mount points. Options including hard drive storage capabilities up to 1TB, Blu-ray combo optical drive, 8GB of DDR3 memory and more — are all housed inside an elegant yet modern designed enclosure.

All-in-One Form Factor is the latest trend in PC technology
The popularity of the All-in-One form factor continues to grow in both the consumer and business markets as they deliver a smaller, more efficient footprint with a similar level of performance as traditional desktops yet with expanded multimedia and collaborative work features. “The new ASUS All-in-One PC series is the perfect technology tool to meet this increased market demand. ASUS continues to be an innovation leader with the release of these all-new AIOs, which offer premium features, stylish design, immersive multi-touch technology, and affordability in an energy efficient platform,” said Margaret Chen, President of Open Platform Business (OPBG) Group for ASUS Computer International.

Convenient and rich in usability
The first to market ET2410 Series comes with a multitude of convenient features including the touch-optimized ASUS Cinema software, making it easier and more comfortable to surf the web, browse through movies and music, or edit photos. The power of Intel’s 2nd generation Core Processor technology ensures that creating media content or handling demanding workloads is smoother and quicker than ever. The touchscreen models feature multi-touch controls for an intuitive and immersive touch experience in addition to the standard wireless keyboard/mouse inputs.

ASUS_ET2140.jpg

Connectivity is not a problem with two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, a 3-in-1 card reader, e-SATA port and 802.11 N wireless capabilities. A HDMI input port turns the ET2410 into a brilliant 23.6” display for gaming consoles or for use as a second monitor with a desktop or notebook computer. Engineered by audio experts, SonicMaster technology delivers crystal-clear, immersive audio that is perfect for music, movies or presentations. DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC further enhances audio enjoyment by offering incredible surround sound options. Its VESA mount allows the slim (2.36”) all-in-one PC to be placed almost anywhere, making it ideal for small living areas or professional offices where space is at a premium.

The ASUS ET2410 is available now through leading resellers with prices starting at $899 (MSRP). The 21.5” ET2210 will be available in October and the 27” ET2700 in November. To learn more about the ET2410 or other ASUS products, visit http://usa.asus.com/ for further details. Pricing, availability and specifications are subject to change.

Source: ASUS

IDF 2011: Live Blog of Keynotes, Technical Discussions

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Chipsets, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: live blog, Intel, idf 2011, idf

PC Perspective is all over the 2011 Intel Developer Forum and we'll be covering it LIVE here all week.  Expect to hear news about Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E, SSDs, X79 chipsets, 22nm tri-gate transistors and more!  We will have specific news posts about the major topics but if you want to keep up with our information to the minute, then you'll want to migrate to this page throughout Tuesday, Wednesay and Thursday morning.  

You can also hit up http://www.pcper.com/category/tags/idf to see all of the posts relating to and coming from IDF this week!

Feel free to leave comments for me on what exactly you want to know and I will do my best to address your questions as the day progresses. 

Source: PCPer

Have you met the CableCARD yet?

Subject: Systems | September 9, 2011 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: htpc, cablecard

One of the HTPC builders best friends is the CableCARD, something that was supposed to be available a long time ago and is finally hitting the market.  It is a replacement or addition to the set top box or cable box that subscribers to cable TV are familiar with and once you install it and register a CableCARD with your cable provider it will receive the proper signal from them and allow you to view your cable channels.  Some CARDSs now support multiple streams, allowing you to record a program while watching a different one or recording multiple streams simultaneously.  Missing Remote breaks down the current market, describing the features and limitations of the various models available today as well as offering guidance on setting up your CableCARD.

missing-remote-ceton-007.png

"At a higher level, the technology was developed to protect consumers from being forced into having to rent set top boxes (STB) at increasing fees from cable companies (or MSOs) without an alternative. From a home theater PC (HTPC) perspective, it meant the ability to natively tune high definition programming from a cable provider (previously the options were only analog cable, or digital over the air broadcasts)."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC