October

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Polywell H7700i-400B Review

Desktop power in a tiny box

We had a tough time figuring out how to categorize the Polywell H770i-400B PC. Its small size puts it clearly in the class of HTPCs or mini PCs that get tucked behind a monitor or TV.

What’s confusing about the Polywell H7700i-400B is its power curve. PCs in this class typically pack AMD’s Fusion CPUs or Intel’s lower-voltage CPUs to balance price, thermals, acoustics, and the typically modest performance requirements of a mini PC.

A handsome aluminum chassis is marred by chintzy rubber feet that easily come loose.

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Asus Zenbook UX32Vd Review

Now with discrete graphics!

When Asus’s Zenbook UX31E debuted last year, it seemed to almost single-handedly put Ultrabooks on the map. Its intriguing mix of good looks, performance, and price convinced many a skeptic, us included, that PCs could compete with the likes of Apple’s vaunted MacBook Air—at a price that catered to common folk.

The UX32Vd comes with a protective sleeve, as well as a small pouch for carrying two connector dongles: one USB-to-Ethernet, one Mini-VGA-to-VGA.

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Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Review

MicroATX board shoots for your dollar

Gigabyte’s G1.Killer series of motherboards have always been love-it-or-leave-it affairs. While some laud the gun-shaped heatsinks of the series, others think them garish or just plain tacky.

The G1.Sniper M3 gets you SLI and CrossFireX in a compact package

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Fractal Design Define R4 Review

A good, quiet case that needs more ‘oomph’

Fractal Design’s Define R3 chassis, which we reviewed in January 2011, impressed us with its combination of functionality and customizability at a low price. The Define R4 is an updated version of that chassis, and like its predecessor is tricked out for noise control—if not enthusiast building.

The Define R4 isn't much to look at on the outside, but Fractal Design has made some good tweaks to the system's insides to take it above and beyond its predecessor.

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Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 16GB Review

A secure-but-poky USB flash drive

Everything about the Aegis Secure Key telegraphs that Apricorn is serious about the whole data-security thing. The Secure Key has 256-bit AES full hardware encryption, so it doesn’t require software or drivers—it’s completely platform-independent, and it will even work with USB On-the-Go devices like Android tablets. This is a big deal—many drives ship with software encryption clients, but those rarely include software compatibility beyond Mac and Windows.

Enter the wrong PIN 10 times and the Aegis will shred your data to prevent brute-force attacks.

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America’s nerdiest hobby gets its annual digital update, but is it worthwhile?

If you’ve ever played (or tried to play) Magic: The Gathering, you know it can be tricky to get started. Between the complicated rules, intricate strategy, and the roster of more than 12,000 unique cards, it’s not a game that would traditionally be called “accessible.”

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How to Build a Small Gaming PC

This small gaming PC isn't as wee as our Wee Ass-Kicking Machine, but it kicks more ass

Way back in December 2010, we built an awesome Mini-ITX gaming rig dubbed the Wee Ass-Kicking Machine. It featured a Core i7-870 CPU, a GeForce GTX 460 GPU, 4GB of DDR3, a 1TB hard drive, and a 120GB SSD—all crammed into a Silverstone SG07 chassis not much larger than a shoebox. The total cost? Around $1,600 (at the time).

It’s, uh, been a while since then, though, and I thought it was high time we built another Mini-ITX gaming rig. This one’s not quite as small, but it’s got a lot more oomph. We’re using the BitFenix Prodigy, which has room for a full-size ATX PSU, scads of hard drives, and even a 240mm radiator (if you swing that way), while still being small enough to be lugged around by its convenient carrying handles.

Bitfenix