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Alienware Aurora M7700

We’ve come to realize that there are two kinds of Maximum PC readers: The first is the standard Joe or Jane who has four desktop machines at home to do all the heavy lifting. For these users, a small, low-power notebook is more than sufficient.

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Maxtor One Touch III Turbo

Backup drives are usually pretty bland and uninteresting, consisting of just a drive mounted inside a plastic shell. Not this time! Maxtor has managed to tickle our Geek-spot by wedging two 500GB drives inside a sexy rubber lunchbox, and adding a dash of RAID for spice. It all amounts to one hell of a drive, and it’s the new end-all, be-all backup drive as far as we’re concerned.

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HP nc6320 Notebook

Hewlett-Packard certainly isn’t known for making high-end gaming notebooks, but the company does know its way around corporate configs. This nc6320 has everything we love in a notebook—including Intel’s popular Core Duo dual-core mobile CPU, but it uses a technology so outdated we dare not speak its name. OK, we’ll say it: onboard video—a parts choice that makes 3D gaming literally impossible.

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Creative Zen Vision: M

You know a device has a great user interface when someone utterly unfamiliar with it accomplishes a task within 10 seconds of picking it up. Apple’s iPods pass this test with aplomb; Creative’s Zen Vision: M utterly fails it. It’s a significant flaw in an otherwise terrific media player.

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Gigabyte i-RAM

As seekers of all-out performance, it’s only natural that we’d covet super-fast RAM for storage duties, but there have always been obstacles to this fantasy scenario. The first is cost, as RAM is crazy-expensive per gig compared with hard drives. Second, RAM is volatile memory: When it loses its electric charge all the data goes bye-bye, so if you put your OS on a RAM drive and then unplug the machine—D’oh! Simply put, RAM drives just aren’t very practical. Still, the idea is intriguing, and Gigabyte’s i-RAM actually works extremely well and overcomes the aforementioned obstacles, but we do have a few complaints.

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Netgear XE104

Say goodbye to slow network speeds as you blaze by with the Powerline's extreme 85 megabit data transfer rate.

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Thermaltake Bigwater 745

The previous version of Thermaltake’s Bigwater received a smackdown from us last year, and though this new kit is significantly improved, it still suffers a fatal flaw.

The biggest change to the kit is the addition of a second radiator. That’s right, the kit sports two radiators—one large, one small. You’ll bolt the small one to the rear of your case, and set up the second double-wide radiator on four little feet outside your case.

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Stealth Surfer II Privacy Stick

Are you being watched? Between the Feds conducting warrant-less wiretaps and companies monitoring their employees’ web-surfing habits, the notion of privacy is as quaint as a PS/2 port. The Stealth Surfer II can’t help with your phone conversations, but it will cover your online tracks—at least most of them.

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Lian Li PC-777 Memorial Edition

The mollusk-modeled styles of Lian-Li PC's houses a not-so-squishy interior and a propensity to speed.