We think we’re seeing a pretty solid pattern here. As is true of the Star Trek movies, it’s possible that only the even-numbered Nvidia chipsets are worth a damn. The original nForce was a beta product. The nForce2 was great. The nForce3 sucked eggs. The nForce4 SLI kicked much booty. And then there’s the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition, which was hyped more than a David Blaine stunt, and might be just as anti-climactic. Originally scheduled for availability in August, boards using the laggard chipset didn’t appear until late October—just before boards using the newer nForce 680i were released. What’s the point?
It’s no secret that Nvidia had a heavy hand in designing Foxconn’s excellent AM2 Athlon 64/nForce 590 SLI board, but Foxconn’s Intel-powered 975X7AB-8EKRS2H board suffers for a lack of Nvidia-applied polish.
When is a Plextor drive a Plextor drive? Certainly not when it’s a Panasonic.
To get onboard the Blu-ray train in a hurry, Plextor rebadged a Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray drive as its own. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Invaluable firmware updates will come from Plextor and not some Pac Rim outfit. And to be fair, the Panasonic’s far better than the first-gen Pioneer Blu-ray drive we reviewed in October, which couldn’t even read CDs.
We loved MSI’s last nForce4 board so much that we gave it a Kick Ass award and even bumped the Asus A8N32-SLI board from our Best Of The Best list. Unfortunately, MSI was so late to the nForce4 SLI x16 party that the board debuted right on the cusp of the AM2 launch; thus its lifespan was brief, and product was impossible to find.
Swiftech’s dual-radiator Apex Ultra water-cooling kit is the current cooling record-holder (in our Lab, at least), so when the company told us it had a Micro kit that was designed to fit in tight, cramped cases, we were intrigued. Like most hardcore PC users, we assumed a small radiator couldn’t get the job done—at least without making a ton of noise. Boy, were we ever wrong.
In a world of “me-too” motherboards, Gigabyte is known for its “not-me” risky moves. The company was the first to integrate two GeForce 6800 GPUs onto a single card, and it was the first to make dual BIOSes standard.
This month, memory-maker OCZ wades into the hotly contested CPU cooling arena with its blingy Tempest cooler. Though the Tempest has the signature OCZ flair, we were let down by its midrange performance and loud operation.