Seagate wasn’t the first to the 7,200rpm mark, but that hasn’t stopped it from making the fastest hard drive around. The Momentus 7200.2 has a well-deserved reputation as the notebook hard-drive performance king. What you give up in space, you gain in speed—the Momentus easily eclipses the ginormous Western Digital Scorpio in read speed, access time, and all around zippiness. (Seagate has announced but not shipped a 200GB version of this drive.)
Western Digital has pulled off a significant coup with its 250GB Scorpio notebook hard drive; the device is the current capacity champion. (Fujitsu has also announced a 250GB drive but has not shipped it yet.) Packing 250GB into two platters, the areal density of the Scorpio easily outstrips that of the other hard drive reviewed here—Seagate’s two-platter 160GB Momentus drive.
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.