December 2013

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MSI N780 Lightning Review

MSI includes a separate utility just for the card’s fans, letting you control the outer ones separate from the inner fan.

Too exotic (and expensive) for mere mortals

Back in October, we took a look at the MSI GTX 770 Lightning, which was a bit like a hot rod that had been given a little too much go-go juice. It was fast, and provided a plethora of performance options for horsepower junkies, but it was simply unstable, even at stock clocks. Undaunted, MSI followed it up by sending us an even bigger, badder board in the same series, the GTX 780 Lightning. Like the other Lightning cards, this is the cream of the crop from MSI in terms of board design, cooling, features, and clock speeds. In other words, if you are looking for the fastest non-Titan board MSI offers, this is it. Unfortunately for MSI, though this board was quite stable overall, we didn’t see enough of a performance advantage over other GTX 780 cards to justify its outrageous $750 sticker price.

Note: This review was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine

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Total War: Rome II Review

It’s no Saving Private Ryan, but sailing toward a garrisoned city (full of painful archers) does feel a bit awe-inspiring.

We hope you have some chores to do between turns

It didn’t take long, but we soon came to a point within our Total War: Rome II empire-building where it would have been much nicer to just build a big wall around our smattering of conquered lands, put up a “Go Away” sign or two, and live out the rest of our days in boredom and serenity. After all, the game had already taken us pretty far toward the former.

Note: This review was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine

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Google Nexus 7 Review

Google and Asus again teamed up to make the new Nexus 7, and while the physical changes are subtle, they amount to a more sophisticated-looking device.

Same name, new-and-improved experience

It’s hard not to have high expectations of Google’s new Nexus 7—the original was a standout product that offered a satisfying Android experience in a highly portable 7-inch form factor, for less than $200. Now we’ve got the new Nexus 7 (is it us, or is it very annoying that it has the exact same name?) promising a number of refinements to the original, but also asking a higher price: $230 for 16GB, $270 for 32GB (reviewed here). You’re probably wondering if it’s still a compelling product.

Note: This article was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine