Ever since Intel’s 810 “Whitney” chipset hit the streets in the late ’90s, integrated graphics have been synonymous with suckage. This year, though, integrated graphics have been making a comeback as Intel and AMD have put their might toward offering game-worthy graphics alongside the CPU.
Can AMD’s A-series chip. Code-named “Llano,” offer decent gaming with integrated graphics? We gave our $667 PC an AMD makeover to find out.
As any system builder knows, there’s a constant yin-and-yang balancing act between performance and noise. When you crank up performance, you crank up the noise. And as you bring down the acoustics, so goes the performance.
With built-in 3D support and some serious muscle under the hood, MSI’s Wind Top AE2420 3D offers a tantalizing view of the future of this form factor. A 2.8GHz Core i7-860, 4GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon Mobility HD 5730 graphics part, Wi-Fi, and 1TB of SATA2 storage make this a solidly conceived all-in-one PC, even if it feels a wee bit unpolished.
In an age of overly synthesized catchphrases ginned up by some suit to commercialize new soda pop or body spray, the term “pure PC power” was never intended to be marketing hype.
Instead, it was conceived to describe our obsession with performance computers and it has withstood the test of time. Who would have known that 16 Dream Machines later, the pursuit of all-out computing power could still be viable?
But that’s just what this year’s Dream Machine again proves: Despite pundits predicting the PC’s death many times over—speed still matters. For this year’s Dream Machine, we decided to build a rig that balances top-notch performance with the style and elegance of an exotic sports car. The overall package is well-behaved and even fairly modest at power consumption, considering the amount of performance it packs.
As always, it’s not just about the PC proper, though. For our Dream Machine, we tracked down the best hardware available, such as NEC’s freaking-awesome PA301W panels and the wireless Cyborg R.A.T. 9 mouse, to make a lust-worthy setup that any of us would kill to have grace our desktop. So join us as we celebrate another year of the PC’s supremacy.
Our budget gaming rig is all about instant gratification: a way for you to fill your gaming hunger with a state of the art, speedy machine, capable of playing today’s games at 1080p resolutions, for less than $700. With our instructions, you will see how you can build it yourself in less than hour. On top of that, we’ll tell you how you can easily supersize your budget box with future upgrades.
It’s clear that HP sees the value in this category. The PC maker’s new TouchSmart is sleek, polished, and is the first all-in-one we’ve ever seen to feature a subwoofer-out jack. HP makes a subtle but valid point here: The truth about these systems is that, regardless of where we set them up—kitchen, living room, garage—we find ourselves frequently using them as music stations, so why not aim for higher audio fidelity? Conveniently, HP has also integrated Monster’s (and Dr. Dre’s) Beats environment, allowing the TouchSmart 610 to pump out impressive enough sound to make people do a double-take.
I have an average-size spare bedroom that mostly functions as a home office and gaming room, and has been used primarily by me. Given the cramped quarters of San Francisco apartments, I set out to make the room less me-centric and more family-friendly by transforming this home office into a home office theater. The goal was to create a room suitable for three things: normal PC computing, big-screen surround sound movie viewing with no reconfiguration needed, and big-screen gaming. Ancillary goals were to make the room feel less like a cluttered man cave, and to avoid breaking the bank.
Here at Maximum PC, we adhere to the cable news statistics rule that two data points is all you need to create a trend. So being presented with the second white system we’ve seen in the last three months, we can now declare that white is the new black (which was the new beige).
And, (Kent Brockman voice-over) it’s a trend we like. Far from gaudy, Polywell’s Ignition X5800 manages to look powerful, stately, and professional. It’s an appropriate aesthetic coming from a company with a long history of making computers for work. For 24 years, Polywell has cranked out workstations, servers, and even Alpha-based rigs.