Previous generations of Nvidia GPUs (AMD’s, too) presented buyers with a difficult choice: You could get great 3D performance for gaming or you could offload high-definition video decoding from the host CPU, but you couldn’t have both. Nvidia’s 8800 GT not only changes that situation, it does so at a competitive price.
We’ll be the first to admit that we were unimpressed by DDR3 when we first tested it last year, but there’s finally a glimmer of hope.
What changed our minds? Asus’s spanking-fast P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP@n mobo, which uses the enthusiast-oriented X38 chipset. The X38’s main highlights are apparently useful DDR3 support and PCI Express 2.0 support. We say “apparently” in reference to DDR3 because we didn’t have a DDR2 version of the board for a direct comparison, but from our tests, the X38 with DDR3 is a winning combination. Also good to have but not a proven performance boost yet is PCI-E 2.0, which doubles the bandwidth of PCI-E 1.0 from 8GB/s to 16GB/s. But does PCI-E 2.0 matter?
A lot of the enclosed “for newbs” water-cooling kits we see at Maximum PC are pretty lame. You get a pump/heatsink combination that’s mildly irritating to install, connected by tubing that’s slightly wider than the veins in your arm. The tubing goes to a radiator that’s often unable to handle the heat output of the processor—even with a noisy 12cm fan pushing more air through it than a jet engine. You spend half an hour installing the device for a whopping cooling difference of three degrees versus what you get from a stock air cooler.
We like fancy gaming mice. We like them for their super-accurate sensors, their adjustable resolutions, and the veritable cornucopia of buttons that grace their frames. But above all, a gaming mouse has to remain comfortable during marathon wrist-crippling gaming sessions, which is where the new Sidewinder really falls apart.
AMD’s decision not to compete with Nvidia’s best GPU left us puzzled, but the decision its manufacturing partners have made—to pair AMD’s second-tier GPU with a full gigabyte of GDDR4 memory—has us totally stumped.
Oh, NZXT, you had some truly great ideas on the ol’ chassis drawing board. Alas, we can’t give a 10 Kick Ass award for dreams. The Blackline case is a personal ad in case form—it certainly looks wonderful on NZXT’s website, but seeing it in person is an entirely different experience.
Consider this month’s batch of case reviews to be a second chance of sorts, as both companies highlighted this month have previously built total clunkers. Cooler Master threw down the iTower 930 in February, which was the functional equivalent of bringing a wiffle bat to a gunfight. And NZXT troubled us with the Adamas—which sported a relatively mediocre design when stacked up against its competitors.