We had a tough time figuring out how to categorize the Polywell H770i-400B PC. Its small size puts it clearly in the class of HTPCs or mini PCs that get tucked behind a monitor or TV.
What’s confusing about the Polywell H7700i-400B is its power curve. PCs in this class typically pack AMD’s Fusion CPUs or Intel’s lower-voltage CPUs to balance price, thermals, acoustics, and the typically modest performance requirements of a mini PC.
A handsome aluminum chassis is marred by chintzy rubber feet that easily come loose.
What time is it? It's time to build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful, no-compromises rig, suitable for gaming and content creation at 1080p. Performance gets you more, and the Ultra is for those who want a killer PC.
These rigs are lab-tested and editor-approved, and we'll update them every month. Feedback is, of course, welcome. Tell us what you think!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Like many 30-somethings, the Commodore 64 provided me with my first glimpse into the world of PC gaming. I remember giggling when enemies would kill themselves out of shame if I managed to hop past them in The Last Ninja, and being delightfully frustrated with the puzzles in Maniac Mansion. Karnov, WWF WrestleMania, and Jordon vs Bird: One on One were three other titles that were frequently loaded. As primitive as each of those games are compared to today, it's still hard to believe that the Commodore 64 platform is 30 years old. What's even more mind boggling is that it's still the greatest selling single PC model ever.
A dozen thrill seekers who jumped on board the Superman Ultimate Flight roller coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California got more than they bargained for when a malfunction caused one of the cars to stall at the very top of the ride. Sitting 150 feet above the ground, passengers in the stalled car sat stranded on the ride's zenith (in an upright position) for about 90 minutes before being rescued, and a computer malfunction may be to blame.
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.
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.