It’s become a cliché in hardware reviews to call a PC “the fastest machine we’ve ever seen,” but there are no better words to describe Maingear’s ePhex.
It truly is the fastest machine we’ve ever seen. And you would expect that from a parts list that looks like someone just checked the “bestest” box before clicking the buy button.
Peep these specs: Intel’s new Core i7-975 Extreme Edition CPU. This new CPU may seem like it’s just 133MHz faster than the Core i7-965 Extreme Edition CPU, but it’s actually a new stepping of the core that enhances overclocking. Maingear overclocks the chip from 3.33GHz to a very stable 4GHz. To the new i7, Maingear adds 12GB of Kingston DDR3/1600 on the Asus Rampage II Extreme board, a 2TB Western Digital drive, two Intel 80GB X25-M SSDs in RAID 0, and not two, but three GeForce GTX 285 cards in tri-SLI. To keep it all running, Maingear water cools all three GPUs and the CPU, and then tosses in a 1,200 watt PC Power and Cooling Turbo-Cool PSU.
Last month we reviewed Western Digital’s MyBook World Edition, a small, white, single-drive, one-terabyte NAS box aimed solidly at Joe User. This month, we have the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440, the MyBook’s polar opposite in many ways. It’s big, it’s black, it’s user-serviceable, comes with four Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB drives, and is marketed toward small businesses without a dedicated IT staff.
The BlackArmor 440 is a brick, the front of which has a two-line green LCD status screen, a front door that opens to reveal the four hot-swappable screwless drive bays, one of the box’s four USB 2.0 host ports, and a power button. The back holds the 12cm exhaust fan, the power jack (for the external power brick), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the other three USB 2.0 ports.
The LCD display offers system status information and a few buttons to navigate with, but the real power comes from the BlackArmor’s web interface, which is easily accessible from the BlackArmor Discovery software included with the NAS. The Discovery software also provides easy mapping of shared folders—the defaults are Public and Downloads.
Conceptually speaking, the Internet can be viewed as consisting of four functional layers: the Link Layer, the Internet Layer, the Transport Layer, and the Application Layer. Each layer has several protocols, sets of rules that define how data is formatted and transmitted, which are known collectively as the Internet Protocol Suite. We’ll discuss all four layers here, but we’ll dive deepest into the Internet Layer and its associated Internet Protocol (IP)—because this is the worldwide network’s most fundamental component.
The Link Layer is the lowest layer and is responsible for delivering data over whatever hardware is in use. A link consists of the physical and logical components that are used to interconnect host computers and other types of network nodes (a node is any electronic device that’s connected to the network, including hosts). Link Layer protocols, including Address Resolution Protocol and Media Access Control, operate only on a host’s link.
Continue reading about Internet Protocol after the jump.
With all the fuss being made about netbooks, you’d think they were God’s gift to computing convenience. Sure, there’s something to be said for those low-cost, low-power machines, but what if you actually need to get some real work done? There’s nothing convenient about being hobbled by an anemic processor, a relatively low-res screen, a shrunken keyboard, and the various other compromises that contribute to a netbook’s cost savings.
For extreme portability in a machine that packs a punch, you’ll need to set your sights higher, to an ultraportable notebook. Ultraportable notebooks are every bit as light, or lighter than, a netbook, with the added benefit of superior features and a more powerful processor. As a general rule, you’ll find your hardiest ultraportables among the business-class models, which are made for both regular travel and all-around productivity. Of course, convenience of this caliber comes at a premium price—usually four to five times the cost of the average netbook.
Thus, choosing an ultraportable is not a decision to be taken lightly. To help you out, we gathered up four elite representatives of the class and put them through rigorous testing. Obviously, we can’t expect any ultraportable machine to have the muscle required for chores like video editing, batch transcoding, or serious gaming. But we do expect these notebooks to accomplish the gamut of typical day-to-day tasks, including photo editing, slide-show creation, and multitasking. And we expect them to offer all the comfort and features necessary for full-fledged computing on the go.
Fujitsu has been a pioneer in the notebook category, dating back to its P2000, one of the first ultraportables to feature an optical drive. In this roundup, however, the standard Fujitsu set is better implemented by its competitors.
At 10.75x8.25x1.5 inches, the P8020 has a slightly smaller footprint than the others, but, sadly, where that’s most apparent is in the keyboard. It’s surprising how less than a half-inch can change your typing experience, but we found the slightly smaller keys and key pad difficult to use. The P8020’s touchpad has the distinction of being multi-touch, meaning you can zoom in and out by pinching or separating your fingers, a moderately useful tool. We’d rather have multi-touch right-click, frankly.
At two pounds, 13.8 ounces, the P8020 is light but feels well-constructed, although there’s some flex to the body and display cover. The entire unit is matte black, save the glossy black lid. Fingerprints on this surface are of course inevitable, but the lid also picked up a scratch after minimal use.
If you think of HP’s 2530p as a strapping workhorse of an ultraportable, Toshiba’s R600 is like a stylish, sophisticated cousin—and we were quickly smitten with its charms. The R600 shares much in common with Toshiba’s R500, but with improvements to its build quality and structure. At 11.1x8.5x0.8 inches and a weight of two pounds, six ounces, the R600 is so thin and light as to seem ethereal. There’s some flex to the magnesium-alloy case when you lift the notebook by one corner and some bendiness to the display enclosure, but the notebook doesn’t feel fragile.
And svelte as it is, the R600 is packed with features. It offers a healthy array of ports, including an SD media reader, an ExpressCard/54 slot, and three USB ports—one of which doubles as eSATA and can even be used for charging devices when the notebook is off. Amid all that is a DVD burner, as well as a volume dial.