From Google Desktop to the Windows Sidebar introduced in Vista, there have been several attempts to integrate our online life onto our desktop. But none of them come close to Rainmeter, a totally customizable platform for decking out your desktop with a variety of useful applets that can stand prominently in the foreground or blend into the background.
There's a lot you can do with Rainmeter thanks to a diverse collection of available 'skins' (think of them as widgets), all of which can be individually tailored in look and function. There are skins for keeping tabs on system resources, displaying RSS feeds, sending and receiving Twitter messages, and even recording notes.
Rainmeter isn't at all difficult to use, but there is an initial learning curve as you come to understand just how powerful this unassuming app really is. On the following pages, we'll guide you through the setup process and show you the ins and outs of using Rainmeter. We'll also highlight the 12 best skins out of the hundreds that are available to give you a head start on decking out your desktop like never before.
Batteries are everywhere. They’re in our phones, mice, cars, laptops, game machines, controllers, remotes, cameras—you name it. Battery technology influences the design, capabilities, and feature set of nearly everything portable, from laptops and cell phones to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Most of the batteries in our lives are rechargeable, and our more eco-aware world is quickly replacing standard alkaline AA and AAA batteries with rechargeable equivalents. Still, few people know how all these batteries work or how to best take care of them.
We’re going to focus on common rechargeable battery types, but before we get into that we should cover a few basics about how batteries work and go over common terms.
Whether you own an iPod touch, Zune HD, Nintendo DSi, or any number of other portable devices, there's one tool that makes easy work out of ripping DVDs and converting incompatible video files into manageable formats: Handbrake. This wonderful utility has just about everything you could ask for, including robust compatibility, a slick interface, and snappy performance. And if that weren't enough, the developers have chosen to give the program away for free, no strings (or trialware) attached.
We realize we're probably preaching to the choir and there's a good chance you've used Handbrake before, if not frequently. But do you know how to create, backup, and transfer your own custom settings for the Xbox 360, PS3, and other popular media players not included by default? Do you know how to encode a copy protected DVD with the least amount off fuss? We do, and on the following pages, we'll guide you through a series of advanced tips for getting the most out of Handbrake.
In our last router roundup, way back in November 2007, we wrote, “We’re months away from a final IEEE 802.11n standard.” We never imagined that months would stretch into nearly two years before that standards body would finally finish ironing out all the details. But now that the spec has been ratified, 802.11n routers abound—and their prices have dropped dramatically.
Back then, the average price of the 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers that we reviewed—all of which had single-band radios—was $130. The average street price of the six single-band 802.11n routers in this batch has dropped to less than half that. The even better news is that the cheapest router in this roundup also delivered the best real-world performance.
You’ll want to consider features as well as benchmark numbers, of course. If you have complex routing requirements, you’ll want a model with tweaker-friendly firmware. And if you rely on VoIP for telephone service, play online games, or stream video over your wireless network while downloading files using BitTorrent, you’ll want a router with robust quality-of-service features. One of the models we tested allows you to share a printer over your network; another boasts advanced parental-control features.
And then there’s the certification issue to consider: Each of the routers in this roundup implements features of the IEEE 802.11n standard, but not all of them carry the Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11n certification logo. We’ll go into more detail about this in our buyers guide.
Read on for our full review of six of the latest mainstream 802.11n routers on the market.
As Nvidia struggles to get its first Fermi based graphics card, code-named GF100, AMD just keeps rolling out new versions. With the Radeon HD 5670, AMD pushes into $100 territory.
Classically, cards in this price range offered capable 2D graphics, high quality video and very limited 3D gaming performance. Let’s start by comparing the feature sets of the various AMD DX11 cards, which should give us some idea as to capabilities.
Nvidia’s latest generation GPU is going through the most painful, drawn out gestation period since the company’s first programmable GPU, the GeForce 5800 series. Like the more recent GeForce 280 GTX, the current GF100 (the code name, not the final name) chip represents a major, ground-up architectural redesign.
Recently, we spent the better part of a day being briefed on the GF100, which represents the first actual graphics processor built with Nvidia’s Fermi architecture. The basic Fermi architecture layers graphics functionality atop a powerful parallel compute engine. As GPU compute becomes more important, both in games and in certain classes of mainstream applications, it makes sense to build an architecture that builds more general purpose capability.
But that’s not to say that Fermi will try to take on the functions of a mainstream CPU.
Five minutes here, a lunch break there, the urge to procrastinate. The free browser-based Flash game has evolved with the technology, producing some high-quality time-killers that can interrupt the most productive of days. With volume comes choices. But you don’t want to waste time browsing—you need the definitive go-to guide to the best of what’s out there. We did the leg (hand and mouse) work for you. Many sites collect hundreds of these free games—check out Kongregate.com, Armorgames.com, Gamebrew.com, as examples—but scan our list and you’ll be on the road to fun, free entertainment in no time. Plus, for a hint of nostalgia, or to get your feet wet with casual gaming, spend some quality time with classics of the genre, collected in our list of all-time favorites.
Does your favorite time-wasting game make the list?
Ripping a CD or DVD is one of the most basic tasks for a PC user. But you need the right tools if you want to automate the process. Current ripping programs incorporate video encoding, tagging, and subtitles management. There's no single app that will do everything, so here are our picks for the best Linux apps for ripping audio CDs and video DVDs.
There are also a few things you'll need to do before downloading these apps.
The games are played, the votes are tallied, and our crack team of vote tabulators has tabulated the results. We’ve played literally hundreds of games this year—big games, small games, good games, and games that just plain sucked—solely for the purpose of presenting you, our adoring audience, with the undisputed list of the finest moments, experiences, and surprises in gaming for the year 2009. Without further ado, we now commence Maximum PC’s Gaming Awards!
In the Intel galaxy, the CPU is an inexorable black hole. A gravity well so strong that nothing can escape it as it consumes every function of the PC.
Don’t believe us? Witness add-in MPEG-2 decoders, hardware modems, hardware-accelerated soundcards, and Ethernet controllers, all of which have been swallowed by the all-powerful CPU. With Intel’s last CPU, the Lynnfield LGA1156 processor, the memory controller and even PCI-E functions were eaten by the CPU, too.
Now with Intel’s new Clarkdale (and its mobile equivalent, Arrandale) the company is taking the first step in trying to eat a gas-giant of functionality by moving a GPU core directly inside of the CPU.
But not only is Clarkdale the first Intel chip with graphics, it’s also our first glimpse at a CPU using Intel’s new, smaller-process technology. Current Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs are based on the original 45nm Nehalem design that Intel introduced more than a year ago. Clarkdale uses a newer 32nm process that is part of the Westmere family. For the most part, Westmere is an evolutionary step forward and a simple die-shrink of Nehalem, but Intel did add some interesting performance enhancements.
Read on for details about what makes Clarkdale unique.