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Fractal Design Define R4 Review

A good, quiet case that needs more ‘oomph’

Fractal Design’s Define R3 chassis, which we reviewed in January 2011, impressed us with its combination of functionality and customizability at a low price. The Define R4 is an updated version of that chassis, and like its predecessor is tricked out for noise control—if not enthusiast building.

The Define R4 isn't much to look at on the outside, but Fractal Design has made some good tweaks to the system's insides to take it above and beyond its predecessor.

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Geek Holiday Gift Guide 2012 - Games

Maximum PC Holiday Gift Guide

It's cold outside, your local grocery store is stocked with eggnog, and the mall is a madhouse. It can mean only one thing -- the holidays are coming! That also means you're running out time to finish buying gifts for family and friends, but what do you do if you're stuck on what to get that special geek in your life? What if you ARE that special geek? Don't sweat it, whether you're looking for gnarly gift ideas for someone else or want to treat yourself to something nice before embarking on a new year, we have you covered with a robust selection of gadgets, games, and toys guaranteed to delight whoever receives them. From Google Play gift cards to a severed Wampa arm fashioned into an ice scraper mitt, we have suggestions for all levels of geek!

To make things easier for you, we're separating our gift suggestions into handy categories, though we highly recommend browsing each of the galleries. You never know what you'll find until you click through!

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MISC Items
Gadgets
Toys

Games

James Bond had gadgets. So did Austin Powers and every other spy worth his salt. PC geeks need gadgets too. Not for spying or international espionage, mind you, but for everyday life, man. Things get crazy when you're around computers all day, and in this section, we gathered up essential (and non-essential, but fun!) gadgets and gear that will make any geek's life a little bit easier.

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Corsair Vengeance C70 Review

Get it in green

Call us suckers for military theming, but Corsair’s Vengeance C70 is a beautiful steel case that’s every bit as functional as it is fun to look at. The system sports a hefty arsenal: no fewer than six screwless hard drive trays and three screwless 5.25-inch bays in addition to one 12cm fan in the case’s rear and two directly to the left of the system’s hard drive bays. You can add two additional 12cm fans to the system’s front and two on top— arranged perfectly for a 240mm water-cooling radiator, if that’s your calling.

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Silverstone Temjin TJ04-E Review

Keep it simple, stupid

Silverstone’s TJ04-E is a modern take on a classic ATX mid-tower. It doesn’t even have a weird motherboard orientation. That’s not to say it’s boring.

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Phanteks PH-TC14PE Review

Noctua imitator impresses

YOU'RE FORGIVEN if you’ve never heard of Phanteks. After all, the company only makes one heatsink, though it comes in four colors, and it’s only been out since last fall. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE consists of a nickel-plated copper heatsink and five thick heat pipes, rising through two sets of anodized aluminum cooling fins in orange, blue, red, or plain ol’ aluminum.

Fans of Austrian engineering might notice that the PH-TC14PE looks a lot like Noctua’s NH-D14. They’re almost exactly the same (massive) size and follow the same basic design. The TC14PE’s box even says “Designed in Europe.” But, see, it’s totally different, because the Phanteks cooler has five thick heat pipes and the Noctua has six smaller-diameter pipes. The Phanteks’ colored fin stack is a tiny bit shorter than the tips of the Noctua’s heat pipes and around a tenth of an inch wider. Also like the Noctua, the Phanteks cooler can interfere with the RAM slots on some motherboards. We couldn’t install it at all on a microATX Rampage IV board, and we had to use RAM without towering heat spreaders on our P9X79 Deluxe board in order to install the Phanteks.

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Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell’s XPS 13 certainly isn’t wanting for style. Sporting a slick wedge profile that measures .24–.71 inches front to back, the XPS 13 is all matte-silver, machined aluminum up top, with a carbon fiber base. A soft-touch surface on the bottom makes the device easy to grip and two rubber “feet” that run horizontally along the underside will surely hold it in place on any surface and promote airflow. Dell even took care to construct a thin metal door on the XPS 13’s underside to hide the Windows certificate of authenticity sticker and sundry other unsightly logos.

An embedded magnet keeps the lid securely attached to the base when the laptop is closed, but opening it can be a challenge—it’s a two-handed affair. Inside, the XPS 13 continues its logo-free theme (save for the “XPS” on the screen bezel). The black, soft-touch palm rest is void of third-party branding. It’s kept company by a black magnesium clickpad and a shiny black island keyboard, which is backlit. The screen consists of edge-to-edge Gorilla glass. As with the HP Folio 13, it’s 13.3 inches with a 1366x768 resolution. The TN panel displays all the typical weakness—move your head or the screen beyond the narrow sweet spot and see contrast and colors diminished.

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Kone+ Gaming Mouse Review

The first thing you notice about the Kone+ is the sheer size of it. It doesn’t look that large in pictures, but when you hold it in your hands, it becomes apparent that this is one of the larger mice on the market. Lengthwise it’s about the size of other long mice, like the Razer Mamba, but it’s wider and taller throughout the whole body of the mouse. It comes with a set of adjustable weights, and is comfortable in the hand, as long as you prefer a grip where your palm rests on the mouse—if you don’t, the Kone+ isn’t the right shape for you.

The Kone+ has the button-count we’ve come to expect from a FPS or general-purpose gaming mouse. It has two well-positioned thumb buttons that are large and easy to hit, as well as dpi and profile controls. One feature you don’t commonly see on gaming mice is the tilt scroll wheel. The feature, which allows you to tilt the scroll wheel to the right or left as additional buttons, is traditionally found on office mice, not gaming mice. We suspect that the reason for this is because the additional freedom of movement in the scroll wheel makes the regular downward click feel slightly less responsive, and we could have done without it on the Kone+.