Forget about ultraportables and low powered laptops, and you can toss that MacBook Air into through the Wind. OCZ apparently wants nothing to do with current fads, and instead looks to appeal to the power user with a penchant for customization. And not just cursory customizations, but a full hands-on, do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. That's the idea behind OCZ's DIY whitebook solutions, and with the release of Intel's Centrino 2 (Montevina) platform, the company has announced a new model taking aim at "the high end gamer."
DIY notebooks can still be considered an emerging market, and OCZ will have to fight against other OEMs offering high-end notebooks already assembled. But as Maximum PC readers are fully aware, building your own rig carries with it a certain intangible, and combined with a bevy of performance-minded options, OCZ hopes its gamble will pay off.
Builders going all out can choose Intel's Core 2 Extreme X9100 processor on a GM47 foundation, slap in up to 4GB of DDR3-1066, and even run two ATI M88XT videocards in Crossfire mode, or a single Nvidia 8800GTX. For those looking to live a little farther away from the performance edge (and save a few greenbacks in the process), OCZ's whitebook can be configured with integrated graphics and a processor with less punch, all the while remaining on Intel's Montevina platform.
If OCZ proves to be right in seeing a growing market for DIY notebooks, enthusiasts might soon find themselves asking that long debated question: Build or buy?
Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are taking aim at the mainstream market, boasting both faster speeds and suddenly affordable pricing than even just a few short months ago. But even as the price-to-performance ratio becomes much more attractive, reliability remains a concern. Flash memory doesn't contain any moving parts, but the memory is only capable of so many write and erase cycles before it turns into read only memory. That might soon change.
Samsung and Sun Microsystems are co-developing a single-level-cell NAND flash memory device the companies claim will offer "much higher endurance levels than any other flash memory device on the market today." The new memory is said to offer five times the data write-and-erase cycles of existing solutions. Even more impressive, Samsung claims its server-grade SLC memory will provide a 100-fold increase in the number of data transfers over traditional hard drives.
While Samsung and Sun are excited over where flash memory is headed, not everyone shares their same enthusiasm. A Fujitsu executive recently downplayed SSDs saying the technology is still over two years away from being a viable option, and an IDC report indicates that initial comparisons between SSDs and HDDs may have been misleading.
Are we getting close to finally replacing hard drives as the main storage device in today's PCs, or is the recent hype much ado about nothing?
The average user would never dream of paying four figures for a processor, and even today's $1,500 budget boxes can end up being very capable rigs with the right parts selection. Even still, there exists a market for high-end silicon, and Intel's Extreme series always command a premium. But this time around, Intel might be looking to give enthusiasts a break.
Rumor has it that Intel will serve up its delicious 3.2GHz Extreme series Bloomfield processor at just $999 in thousand-unit tray quantities. While that might not appear to be a bargain at first glance, it's a full $500 cheaper compared to the current cream of the crop, the Core 2 Extreme QX9700. If the rumor holds true, the new pricing will mark a return to the way Intel used to price its flagship Extreme model.
Intel is also expected to introduce a performance chip clocked at 2.93GHz at a much easier to swallow $562 price point, and a mainstream model at 2.66GHz for $284.
For those that haven't been following, Intel's much anticipated Bloomfield (Nehalem) processors will introduce a new socket with 1366 pins and finally bring an integrated memory controller to the table.
Say what you will about Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Firedog computer repair centers, but no matter what amount of ridicule each one might receive in tech circles, those without access to a next-of-kin techspert find themselves using the oft overpriced (and sometimes overzealous) services offered by each. Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the fix-my-PC pie too.
According to the mega-chain, Dell is testing a repair and installation service for electronics in up to 15 of its stores in the Dallas area. The "Solution Stations" will not only offer PC repair, but HDTV and home theater installation, wireless support, and other electronic services.
"For Wal-Mart, the program provides an opportunity for us to understand more about what our customers need and expect in home installation and technology services, within a specific market," the company said in a statement on its website. Wal-Mart also indicated that the program is a small pilot and that there are currently no plans to expand outside of Dallas beyond the 15 select stores.
And what about pricing? According to the Dallas Morning News, memory installation will run $29 in-store, or $99 if making a house-call. To install a wall-mounted TV, connect cables, and integrate three video components, it is charging $289.
So it's official; you can now get everything and the kitchen sink at Wal-Mart, and that includes PC repair. But would you want to?
The company began shipping the XT tablet sans any multi-touch in December, 2007 but with an assurance that the feature would be added at a later time. It is very strange how some websites are highlighting the fact that the update is free. They shouldn’t forget that Dell hasn’t done a terrific job justifying XT’s exorbitant price – prime example of thickly veiled language – and the unavailability of the tablet’s purported forte for 6 months after launch implies that the company owes a favor or two to XT owners.
In Win can’t resist building gimmicks into its chassis. We first encountered the company’s design oddities with its F430 case (reviewed July 2008), which emits the superloud sound of a car engine when you hit the power button. The company’s B2 chassis isn’t quite as ostentatious—unless you think the motorized front panel that conceals the drive bays is over the top.
So what's to like (or hate) about the B2? Find out after the jump.
More than a few early GTX 280 and GTX 260 adopters are catching a break thanks to vendors stepping up to the plate with cash back offers. XFX announced it would give its qualified customers up to $120 back in the wake of Nvidia's aggressive price cuts, and Evga has opened up a similar program. Evga customers must have purchased their GTX 280 or 260 videocard between June 16, 2008 and July 7, 2008 to be eligible for the kickback, and those eligible can choose between $75 in Evga bucks or $60 cash back (GTX 260), or $150 in Evga Bucks or $125 cash back (GTX 280). Other terms and conditions include:
Must be a new purchase from an authorized Evga reseller. Step-ups do not qualify
You have 14 days to register and upload a qualified invoice to claim your Evga Bucks
Only customers who purchased the Evga GTX 280 or GTX 260 at the full Manufactured Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) will qualify for the Reimbursement Program
So far this marks two Nvidia partners (that we know of) offering relief to early adopters affected by the quick price cuts, and it's anyone's guess if more will follow. Who thinks BFG will be next?
While a handful of DDR3-2000 kits can be found in the marketplace, the industry standard remains at DDR3-1600. That might soon change, as Elpida Memory today said it has developed power-efficient DDR3 memory in 1GB densities capable of cruising at 2Gbps.
Elpida's new memory uses a 65nm manufacturing process, and the company claims its 2Gbps modules use 35 percent less operating current compared with its existing products. And for those looking to save a bit of juice while running at the industry standard 1600Mbps, Elpida's memory will oblige at just 1.35V. Timings look to be a tad on the high side, most likely the result of running lower voltages:
DDR3-2000 (11, 11, 11)
DDR3-1867 (11, 11, 11)
DDR3-1600 (9, 9, 9)
Intel, AMD, and memory manufacturers are all pushing the market towards DDR3. Are you buying?
Owning a laptop used to mean being condemned to a low performance hard drive, but that's no longer the case. This past year has seen a surge in both higher performing and higher capacity notebook drives, and as of today, Toshiba tosses its new 2.5-inch 400GB model in to the ring.
The 7200RPM MK4058GSX packs 400 gigs onto just two platters with "an improved read-write head and enhanced magnetic layter to boost areal density to 477Mbit/mm²". Further separating itself from Toshiba's previous flagship 320GB 2.5-inch drive, the new model purports to cut acoustic noise during data seek by 2dB, all the while consuming 20 percent less power than its predecessor.
Five other drives round out the new lineup, coming in 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 250GB, and 320GB flavors, and all of them support an optional Free Fall Sensor function Toshiba says will detect a failing hard drive and park the head before impact. Look for mass production to kick in late this summer.
Being an early adopter doesn't always net you bragging rights. Just ask your neighbor how his HD-DVD player is working out for him, or your co-worker what he bought with his Apple gift card after being one of the first to own an iPhone. And in the world of PCs, being the first to own a Geforce GTX 280 means you're stuck watching others pay $499 for the same videocard you plopped down $649 for just weeks ago.
It's because of this that XFX's latest announcement comes as an epic win for its customers. The company says it wants to "thank you for your loyalty and believing in the XFX brand," and to prove it, XFX is issuing up to $120 cash back for anyone who purchased an XFX-brand Geforce GTX 280 or 260 videocard between June 16, 2008 and July 11, 2008. This from the same company that offers a double-lifetime warranty on all its videocards.