Back in our April 2008 issue, we showed you how to configure and build a $1,500 no-compromises PC. Our budget badass wasn’t just an affordable “lean machine,” it performed admirably in our system benchmarks, earning respectable scores in comparison to our desktop testbed. Now that it’s several months later, and we wanted to give you an update to our component recommendations. Not only have hardware prices dropped since we wrote the story, but new technologies and products have also emerged that give you more for your money. In fact, our no-compromises $1,500 PC now only costs $1,320, that’s including upgraded parts. By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a savings!
Read on to find out how we configured our new Budget Badass.
It looks like stock prices aren't the only thing falling over at Nvidia. Competition continues to heat up in the latest round of GPU leapfrog, and reports flanking from across the web over the weekend were claiming Nvidia would issue price cuts to its add-in board partners (AIBs). The GTX 260 was to be the beneficiary of a $30 chop, while the high-end GTX 280 was to get slashed by $90. Even the 9800 GTX was to receive a $17 snip. Scouring Newegg's selection, it appears the reports were right on the money.
Thanks to Nvidia's annoying Manufacturer Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy, you'll need to do a bit of extra clicking to see the new pricing structure. But assuming your index finger is up to the task, you'll spot several GTX 280 cards selling for $499, and even lower after rebate. GTX 260 videocards have dropped down to $329, and a small handful of 9800 GTX cards have dipped below the $200 mark.
Following Hitachi's annoucement of plans to hit 5TB in a single hard drive by 2010, Pioneer follows suit by proclaiming a major advancement in the optical storage arena with an unprecedented 16-layer optical disc capable of storing 400GB. Presumably intended for distribution as Blu-ray media, Pioneer points out the new disc's 25GB per-layer capacity is the same as that of a Blu-ray disc (BD).
Cross-talk among multiple layers has been a stickling point in the optical industry, but Pioneer claims to have tackled the problem with a specialized disc structure designed to reduce interference from adjacent layers. And what about compatibility with existing Blu-ray players? Pioneer says that because the optical specifications of the lens are the same as those for existing BD discs, there shouldn't be any compatibility concerns between the new 16-layer discs and existing BD media.
Dampening the announcement, the 16-layer discs are read-only. That may change in time, but for the here and now, you'll still need to resort to standard discs or HDDs to store your epic music collection, downloaded videos, and other legally acquired data. Of course, finding someone who owns a Blu-ray drive capable of burning BD discs is more rare than spoting a MacBook victory at Maximum PC.
Here we go again! It's time for our second look at what's going into the Maximum PC Dream Machine 2008! If you're just joining us, here's the skinny: once a year, the Maximum PC staff descends to its underground lair. After a number of bizarre and dark technological rituals (we sacrifice an iMac), the team emerges with a gift blessed by the Gods of Technology themselves: the Dream Machine. It is, hands-down, the single-greatest computer you could ever hope to assemble based on the year's best (and sometimes unreleased) products!
This is an epic three-part series, and you're on step number two. If you want to start from the beginning, check out our unveiling of the rig's keyboard, mouse, display and hard drive(s). If you're ready for more Dream Machine action, we're taking a look at the system's CPU(s), motherboard, optical drive, and memory this time around.
Grab a cold beverage and prepare to feast your eyes on splendor by clicking that little "Read More" link.
While SSDs continue to come down in price and up in performance, hard disk drives keep ballooning in size. And just when we thought we were becoming spoiled with storage space, Hitachi hits us with a humdinger by announcing plans to release a 5TB hard drive by 2010. That's FIVE freaking terabytes in a single 3.5" drive, or half the storage capacity of the human brain, claims Dr. Yoshihiro Shiroishi from Hitachi. In more concrete terms, 5TB equates to about 5,000 hours of video, or more than a million songs. Throw two drives together and you could store a human brain's worth of porn!
Hitachi's pledge trumps an earlier prediction the company made back in October 2007 when it said 4TB of storage would be likely by 2011. Instead, Hitachi will employ Current-Perpendicular-to-Plant Giant Magnetoresistance (CPP-GMR) magnetic read heads to pack an additional terabyte than initially anticipated, and a year sooner than predicted. CPP-GMR will make it possible to achieve data densities of 1TB or more per square inch, paving the way for even larger hard drives.
Home theater buffs will undoubtedly herald Hitachi's announcement, but what about everyone else? Are we reaching the point of diminishing returns in terms of hard drive space? Post your thoughts in the comments section.
Absolutely no flatulence jokes will be blasted out in this blog, and while I'll do my best to hold it in, scientists are letting out concerns that a gas used in the making of LCD and plasma screens could be hurting the environment. The news couldn't have come at a worse time; plasmas and LCDs account for almost half of all televisions produced this year, and that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. Almost all of them benefited from nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) during the production process, a potentially harmful gas also used to produce semiconductors and synthetic diamonds.
Exactly how dangerous NF3 might be to the environment remains a mystery, and will likely become a point of contention. Skeptics will point out that NF3 isn't one of the six gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol international climate change agreement, a legaly binding treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but NF3 was only produced in tiny amounts when the treaty was signed over 10 years ago and production has since skyrocketed. Today scientists estimate the gas to be 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide and warn it could cause more global warming than coal-fired power plants.
Find out why the United States should be particularly concerned after the jump.
In July 2008, we tested six sub-$100 budget chassis. For comparison's sake, we also tested one of the most expensive consumer cases on the market—Lian Li’s PC-P80R.
There’s no denying that the PC-P80R makes a statement. And we’re not just talking about its avid ATI affiliation. Regardless of our personal graphics-card preferences, we have to admit that Lian Li’s fanboy chassis looks awesome. What’s more, minus a single, irritating lapse in design judgment, this enclosure’s internal layout is a stunning combination of beauty, foresight, and ease of use.
Hit the jump to see what all that extra jingle gets you.
Forget about buying fake Guccis and knockoff Louis Vuittons, and take a look at your keyboard instead. Are you sure it's genuine? It most likely is, as the effort and risk would surely outweigh the rewards in trying to sell a fake high-end keyboard, and lower end boards would hardly make the illegal venture worthwhile. Nevertheless, four Chinese companies apparently thought it made good business sense to make and sell counterfeit NEC keyboards, a move which has earned them a court ordered fine of CNY1.15 million. In U.S. dollars, that only equates to roughly $167,000, which only serves to highlight the bad business decision. It's believed the four counterfeiters profited at least CNY1 million in the venture, or about $36,000 USD after a four way split.
While NEC keyboards may seem like a quirky target, counterfeit computer goods can add up. In a joint operation earlier this year, officials from the US and European Union seized over 360,000 computer components worth a whopping $1.3 billion over a two week period. Some of the over forty different trademarked brands included Intel, Cisco, and Phillips.
Have you ever been bamboozled by fake goods, PC or otherwise? Post your experience(s) below.
With weak demand from the digital photo frame market - in part possibly as a result of pre-existing malware infestations - LCD panel makers are hoping low-cost notebooks will pick up the slack and drive sales of medium-sized shipments in the second half of the year. But according to DigiTimes, a growing concern among panel makers is that a shortage of Intel Atom processors might affect their July shipments of 7- to 10-inch panels, the same ones used in low-cost notebooks and several mobile internet gadgets. Painting an even gloomier picture, Asus president Jerry Shen said last month the Atom shortage could last until September, giving LCD panel makers a major case of the summertime blues.
Earlier this week OCZ announced a new lineup of low cost SSDs, trumping Super Talent's MasterDrive MX series in both price and performance. In an attempt to address the former, Super Talent has begun bundling Ubuntu with its SSDs and will continue to do so right through to September 30th.
"Bundling an excellent OS plus applications package like Ubuntu helps MasterDrive MS customers get up and running that much faster and easier. This is a great value add that doesn't increase the cost." - Joe James, Super Talen Marketing Director
And James is right, it doesn't increase the cost. Of course, it doesn't increase the value (or performance) of the MasterDrive MX line either. But it might increase the perceived value of Ubuntu, which if you head over to Ubuntu.com, you can download the Linux distro free of charge. Or if you'd prefer a hard copy without firing up Nero, you can put in a request for a free CD and they'll even throw in a handful of stickers. Sadly, neither option will cost you a cent, not even shipping, and who wants a free OS? Pshaw! Super Talent's bundle tackles this problem, and you'll have to fork over at minimum $299 (30GB). Or if you really want that copy of Ubuntu to come laced with uber value, you have the option of paying up to $649 (120GB). Now all you Windows owners with a predisposition to paying for your OS can finally get your Linux on without feeling like you cheated the system, something Amazon couldn't offer with its paltry $12.99 price tag.