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.
Aesthetically, Sony’s VAIO L Series all-in-one pleased us the most. Its sides and back are white plastic, the new “in” look for PCs this year, and the matching keyboard and mouse make this system a nice fit in any environment.
It has long been considered common wisdom that the smaller the size of a PC, the greater its compromises. Notebooks, no matter how fat, for example, will never touch the power of a desktop machine.
The same held true for small form factor rigs. But is that still the case? To find out how today’s SFF rigs compare with their full-size desktop brethren, we tasked five top PC makers with sending us their best and brightest, and, well, smallest machines.
The Origin Chronos was an early bet on which system would be the fastest here, as we’ve seen what other vendors can do in Silverstone’s fabulous FT03 case.
Despite it having the same volume as the AVADirect and iBuypower machines, the FT03 occupies a smaller footprint than all others here, including the CyberPower LAN Party Evo, yet it accommodates an incredible amount of hardware.
If you stopped a nerd in an electronics store and asked her to describe a small form factor PC, she’d just pull up a picture of CyberPower’s LAN Party Evo on her smartphone.
In many ways, this is the ultimate evolution of the original SFF design. The LAN Party Evo isn’t much bigger than the original SFFs of yesteryear, but peep these specs: a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K, a GeForce GTX 580 card, a 120GB Intel 510 SSD, and 1TB hard drive.