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Origin PC Genesis Review

We all know the PC OEM business is a commodity parts game with every vendor having the exact same access to PC hardware as everyone else. It’s a bit like trying to impress the paparazzi on the red carpet with the same off-the-rack dress as every other starlet.

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Func HS-260 Review

The HS-260’s audio cable and microphone are both replaceable, and can be plugged in on either side.Func’s foray into gaming headsets starts on solid footing

Func’s not a new brand, per se—the company has been making gaming peripherals since the turn of the millennium. However, until just over a year ago, it was only known for mousepads, so its recent foray into mice and keyboards represents quite a step up, at least in terms of ambition. Now, with the HS-260, Func is ready to complete the trifecta and take on gaming headsets as well.

Note: This review was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Review

A much-needed kick in the pants revamps the franchise

A much-needed kick in the pants revamps the franchise

When we last left our hero Diablo, the Lord of Terror wasn’t all that scary anymore. In fact, he’s probably been a bit lonely. The joy of killing Diablo 3’s big boss alongside Blizzard’s army of players has long since faded for those who haven’t already abandoned the game at some point since its May 2012 release.

Note: This review was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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V3 Components Voltair Reivew

The two fan cables are sleeved and grafted together for a cleaner installation.

Don’t call it a comeback

If you’re an enthusiast who’s ready to drop more than $100 on a CPU cooler, it’s probably been a long time since you last considered air for this job. Most folks at this level have moved on to closed-loop liquid coolers (CLCs) or even custom loops. Even the best air-driven jobs on the market won’t match the heat dissipation of a good CLC. So unless you’re on a budget, why bother?

Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Silverstone Raven RVZ01 Review

An SFX power supply mounts vertically inside the RVZ01.

This DIY micro-tower takes flight

It’s official: micro-towers are now definitely a “thing.” Unfortunately for DIYers, being able to truly build from scratch hasn’t been an option—until now.

Meet Silverstone’s Raven RVZ01, a micro-tower that somewhat resembles a game console but has enough room inside for a high-powered PC. We actually used this enclosure in a recent Build It, and now we’d like to give it a proper review. The short version is that you can pack some powerhouse computing in here, but there are a few caveats.

Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Lian Li PC-V360 Review

Brushed-aluminum elegance—for a price

Lian Li comes to the microATX market with a case that looks like a shorter, dieting version of its peers. It’s narrower and more vertically challenged than most microATX cases we’ve checked out, but you’d never guess that by the ample room inside the PC-V360 that the company gives you to play around with.

Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming 3G Review

A lot of boom for your buckaroo

AMD has announced an “all new” GPU named the R9 280. This entry will plug the gap between the $230 R7 270X and the $300 R9 280X (these are MSRP prices, btw). It’s priced at $279 and goes head-to-head with Nvidia’s GTX 770, which is priced at $329. Both cards are designed for maximum 1080p, are squarely in the zone of what we would call “good value” as they are somewhat affordable, let you run all games with maximum settings, and handle 1080p with very acceptable frame rates.

Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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MSI NightBlade Review

Nowhere is that more true than in the world of small form factor machines. While ATX towers are very forgiving to build into (you can’t pick the wrong PSU or GPU), that can’t be said of ITX PCs.

Bare-bones with a ’tude

Sometimes it’s nice to pick and choose every little component you want in your build, and sometimes it’s just nice to have someone else do the thinking for you.

Nowhere is that more true than in the world of small form factor machines. While ATX towers are very forgiving to build into (you can’t pick the wrong PSU or GPU), that can’t be said of ITX PCs.

Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Crucial M550 SSD 1TB Review

The M550 offers  several tweaks over the M500, designed to boost performance in the lower-capacity models.

A slightly faster M500

Crucial has updated it’s slightly aging M500 SSD with a revamped model, and as the changes are modest, the drive’s name received only a slight bump of 50 marketing buzzwords, hence the name M550 instead of M600 or similar.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Plextor M6e PCIe SSD 256GB Review

The M6e features a full-blown PCI Express SSD in the new M.2 form factor.

The first native PCI Express SSD has finally arrived!

The Plextor M6e is the first native PCI Express SSD we’ve been able to get our hands on, so we’re excited to finally see what an SSD can do when it’s not hobbled by the SATA interface and its 550MB/s bottleneck. Instead of SATA or a 2.5-inch device, this drive utilizes the M.2 form factor along with a PCI Express interface, so it can plug into any late-model motherboard and is bootable. The M.2 interface was designed for notebooks as a replacement for mSATA, as it allows for much higher capacities along with different size devices, so it can be mounted in a wider variety of locations compared to mSATA. To create the M6e, Plextor took a “gum stick” drive and mounted it to a PCI Express 2.0 x2 add-in card. Since each PCI Express 2.0 lane allows for 500MB/s of bandwidth, the two lanes connected to this card allow up to 1GB/s of bandwidth, which is around 800MB/s after deducting overhead. This isn’t a massive increase over SATA 6Gb/s speeds, but it’s a decent bump.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.