avatar

Polywell H7700i-400B Review

Desktop power in a tiny box

We had a tough time figuring out how to categorize the Polywell H770i-400B PC. Its small size puts it clearly in the class of HTPCs or mini PCs that get tucked behind a monitor or TV.

What’s confusing about the Polywell H7700i-400B is its power curve. PCs in this class typically pack AMD’s Fusion CPUs or Intel’s lower-voltage CPUs to balance price, thermals, acoustics, and the typically modest performance requirements of a mini PC.

A handsome aluminum chassis is marred by chintzy rubber feet that easily come loose.

avatar

Asus Zenbook UX32Vd Review

Now with discrete graphics!

When Asus’s Zenbook UX31E debuted last year, it seemed to almost single-handedly put Ultrabooks on the map. Its intriguing mix of good looks, performance, and price convinced many a skeptic, us included, that PCs could compete with the likes of Apple’s vaunted MacBook Air—at a price that catered to common folk.

The UX32Vd comes with a protective sleeve, as well as a small pouch for carrying two connector dongles: one USB-to-Ethernet, one Mini-VGA-to-VGA.

avatar

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Review

MicroATX board shoots for your dollar

Gigabyte’s G1.Killer series of motherboards have always been love-it-or-leave-it affairs. While some laud the gun-shaped heatsinks of the series, others think them garish or just plain tacky.

The G1.Sniper M3 gets you SLI and CrossFireX in a compact package

avatar

Fractal Design Define R4 Review

A good, quiet case that needs more ‘oomph’

Fractal Design’s Define R3 chassis, which we reviewed in January 2011, impressed us with its combination of functionality and customizability at a low price. The Define R4 is an updated version of that chassis, and like its predecessor is tricked out for noise control—if not enthusiast building.

The Define R4 isn't much to look at on the outside, but Fractal Design has made some good tweaks to the system's insides to take it above and beyond its predecessor.

avatar

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 16GB Review

A secure-but-poky USB flash drive

Everything about the Aegis Secure Key telegraphs that Apricorn is serious about the whole data-security thing. The Secure Key has 256-bit AES full hardware encryption, so it doesn’t require software or drivers—it’s completely platform-independent, and it will even work with USB On-the-Go devices like Android tablets. This is a big deal—many drives ship with software encryption clients, but those rarely include software compatibility beyond Mac and Windows.

Enter the wrong PIN 10 times and the Aegis will shred your data to prevent brute-force attacks.

avatar

Thermaltake Level 10 GTS Review

Daring to be different, but falling a little short

The Level 10 GTS is a mid-tower based on a full-tower based on an overdesigned concept chassis, and the form factor has lost something in translation at each step, resulting in a chassis that’s a bit, well, weird.

avatar

NZXT Phantom 410 Gunmetal Edition Review

One of the best-looking mid-towers on the market

The Phantom 410 inherits the good looks of its full-tower predecessor but adds some tweaks of its own. It’s a great-looking case in any color (we’ve used white and red for builds), but the gunmetal gray is spectacular. The paint is thick and luxurious to the touch, enough to give the Phantom 410 a much better feel than the MSI Ravager, which uses similar chassis tooling. Like the full-tower Phantom, the 410 has plastic shrouds on the top and front panels, which increase the size of the case (and make it impossible to rest anything on top). The top shroud contains two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and a three-speed fan controller—as well as the seven fan-control cables that lead from it.

avatar

Corsair Obsidian 550D Review

The sound of silence (and the heat, too)

Corsair’s Obsidian 550D comes packed with sound-dampening acoustical foam (nearly half an inch on its side panel), but it’s not just Corsair’s dedication to quiet that has us wowed. It’s the 550D’s interactivity: Gaining access to most of the steel case’s fan mounts (two 12cm mounts on the top, two preinstalled 12cm fans on the front, and two 12cm fan mounts on the case’s side) only requires you to push on a panel. Out it pops and in you go. The case’s side panels receive a similar treatment: Just hit a button on the rear of the case and bam—you can take them right off.

avatar

MSI Ravager Review

Cheap, but not inexpensive

The MSI Ravager looks like it was extruded from Monster Energy cans. Its exterior is black-painted SECC steel with bright blue claw-mark decals, and the inside is black with the mobo tray, drive trays, slot covers, and optical bay mechanisms picked out in bright blue.