It (literally) pays to know all the crafty ways you can save money without sacrificing your power user cred
As much as we love ogling top-of-the-line PC hardware and fantasizing about price-be-damned rigs, we also love, love, love to stretch a dollar. Does that make us cheapskates? You betcha, if that’s what you want to call someone who doesn’t pay a premium when he or she doesn’t have to. Sign us up! In fact, where computing is concerned, knowing all the various angles to save a buck—a buck that can then be put toward new and better gear, mind you—is as much a part of being a power user as knowing how to flash a BIOS or overclock RAM. If you’re currently spending top dollar on your PC activities, it’s time you got schooled in the fine art of penny-pinching. From free software alternatives, to the best deals on all forms of digital entertainment, to hardware-buying tips, to our blueprint for a $600 PC, this year’s Cheapskate’s Guide can save you thousands of dollars and make you a more savvy consumer in the process.
Note: This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of the magazine.
Nvidia has been popping out Kepler cards like a circus clown car since the company launched its 6-series GPUs in early 2012, and now we finally reach the bottom of the GTX barrel with the $150 GTX 650 Ti. This card slots in right below the $230 GTX 660 and has less of everything—less CUDA, less memory (and a narrower memory bus width), and less PCB.
Note: This review was taken from the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.
Gaming laptops tend to push garish, over-the-top designs these days; the second-generation Razer Blade throws these clichéd conventions out the window. The result is a 16.8x10.9x.88-inch minimalist laptop that resembles a large matte-black MacBook Pro. This doesn't mean the Blade looks plain, however. Its alluring green LEDs coupled with its slick LCD trackpad give this Blade a killer edge.
Note: This review was taken from the Holiday issue of the magazine.
The enthusiast PC market seems to be experiencing a bit of bipolar disorder these days. It’s either represented by massively huge systems so big they blot out the sun, or teeny, tiny boxes that you could slip under your arm and then skateboard to a LAN party.
We know what you’re thinking. Why is Maximum PC dedicating precious time doing another roundup of all-in-one PCs? You’d never buy one of these machines as your primary computer, right? Right. We’d never be satisfied with just an all-in-one, either. But we can’t think of a better second computer.
Intel’s long-awaited Thunderbolt has finally arrived on the PC after being exclusive to the Macintosh platform for more than a year. With its promise of 10Gb/s‑per‑channel throughput, what self-respecting power user wouldn’t opt for a Thunderbolt-based external backup solution? Well, before you get too excited, let’s compare T-bolt point-by-point with its natural competitor, USB 3.0. After all, there’s more to a technology than pure performance, as we found out.
MSI’s GTX 660 is an all-around great card that includes a healthy dollop of overclocking and a side of Frozr to keep it cool. Its base clock speed is a decent 53MHz over stock at 1,033Mhz, and when running at full load we saw its boost clock speed rise 130MHz over stock to 1,110MHz, which is also higher than the stock boost-clock spec. The Twin Frozr III cooler sports three copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and dual 8cm fans housed in a metal-alloy shroud to direct the airflow. Like the other GTX 660 cards, it uses just a single 6-pin power connector, but unlike the others it sports an extra-long 9-inch PCB (Gigabyte’s board is just 7.5 inches but the cooler is actually 9 inches long).
Gigabyte’s GTX 660 is similar to MSI’s board in that it’s overclocked and has a cooler with a silly name—Windforce. The board is clocked at the same base and boost clock speeds as the MSI card, too, running at 1,033MHz and 1,098MHz, respectively. The cooler features four copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and two large 10cm fans breathing down on the whole shebang. Even though the board sports a smallish 7.5-inch PCB, the cooling apparatus is so large that it’s 2-inches longer than the PCB and extends the length of the card to 9.5 inches. With a cooler this large you expect it to perform quite well, and it does. It kept the card absolutely silent even when the board was being tortured in the Lab, and allowed it to run at a moderately cool 63 C under full load.