All of the Radeon cards tested in our review round-up are based on AMD’s reference design, including this Asus card. However, Asus includes Smart Doctor software, which allows you to easily overclock its card.
You can use the app to auto-tune the clock speeds, though this typically gives you a conservative up-clock that results in a relatively modest performance gain. When we used the auto-overclock feature, we saw gains of 8 percent in 3DMark Vantage, and a couple of frames per second in STALKER and Far Cry 2. If you have the patience, you can tweak voltage settings, core clocks, and memory clocks manually, which could boost performance more substantially.
As with all Radeon HD 5870s, Sapphire’s version offers superlative performance, making it one of the fastest single-GPU cards available today. At its core is AMD’s 2.15 billion transistor Cypress chip, coupled with 1GB of 1,200MHz GDDR5 memory. Two DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connection allow for flexible monitor attachment.
Sapphire is bundling two games with this card: Dirt 2 and Battlestations: Pacific. Dirt 2 is one of the first titles to support Microsoft’s DirectX 11 graphics API, so it should show off the visual chops of the new GPU. As with all HD 5870 cards, the Sapphire HD 5870 is just over 10.5 inches long, so be sure the card will fit in your case before buying.
HIS is based in Hong Kong, but its cards are readily available in U.S. outlets. They often cost slightly less than the competition, but that’s not the case with the company’s Radeon HD 5870, which is priced the same as its competitors. When we first unpacked the card, we thought it was the lesser HD 5850 model, due to its relatively compact packaging.
In our benchmarks, the HIS HD 5870 turned out excellent scores across the board, easily beating the fastest previous single-GPU champ, the EVGA 285 GTX SSC. It also pumped out the highest score in the 3DMark Vantage Performance test, although, again, margins were small.
All of the Radeon HD 5870s reviewed here are essentially identical—they’re the fastest single-GPU graphics cards you can buy currently. Out of the box, you get a typical one-year limited warranty. But if you register XFX’s product online within 30 days of purchase, the warranty lasts for “the duration of your life.” Not a bad deal, assuming the company is around that long.
It’s nice having a great warranty, but you want great performance for your $390. You’ll get that in spades. The XFX card burned through our performance tests, posting the highest scores in the 3DMark Vantage Extreme and Crysis benchmarks. The differences were minimal, though, and other 5870s won in other benchmarks.
BitTorrent, as you're probably already aware, is a decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing protocol ideal for transferring large files (and if you didn't know that, don't worry, we also include some lightweight tips to get you started). In a nutshell, the way it works is when you're downloading a massive file -- like a Linux distribution, for example --bits and pieces of the file will be uploaded at the same time. Typically BitTorrent allows for a more efficient and faster transfer method than traditional, Direct Connect P2P software.
To get started, you need a desktop client. We recommend using uTorrent, or uT for short. We prefer uTorrent based on its combination of advanced features, performance, and small footprint -- in other words, it has all the makings of a power user program.
On the following pages, we'll not only show you how to get the most out of uTorrent, but out of BitTorrent in general. We'll cover both basic and advanced tips, and then toss in some of our favorite third-party add-ons for good measure. Whether you're new to BitTorrent or a seasoned vet, there's something in this guide for you.
Even though it would be great if we all could afford 30" LCD monitors, the state of the economy is no fantasy, and you probably need to make more realistic component choices when shopping for a new monitor. The good news on the display front is that manufacturers haven’t been sitting on their mushrooms smoking hookahs; they’ve been innovating and driving down costs to the point where 23- and 24-inch widescreen LCDs are the new sweet spot.
Before you set out on your next monitor-shopping adventure, however, make sure you have a firm understanding of the most important specifications, features, and quality and performance criteria, lest you fall prey to the industry’s Jabberwocky. Rest assured, we’ll guide you through the thicket. We’ve also dug up a number of specifications that manufacturers have taken to omitting from their published data sheets.
Even the most thorough checklist can’t reveal how a monitor will perform in the real world, so we gathered eight of the top manufacturer’s latest models and put them through a benchmark wringer.
Firefox may be your default browser, but that doesn’t mean you really use it to its full potential. Mozilla’s browser is a big threat to Microsoft not because it’s fast and full of unique features, but because it’s also extremely customizable. Add-ons, style scripts, and hidden preferences let you personalize your Firefox experience to meet your tastes and needs. Sure, you may know about hidden easter eggs like the about:robots page, but we’re going show you the 20 most essential tips, tricks, and tweaks to this super browser.
Windows Desktop Gadgets was a feature first introduced in Windows Vista. They are widget engine gadgets calmly docked on either side of the screen for easy access and can performs tasks like displaying the time, updating you on the current weather conditions and showing you CPU usage. Windows already comes equipped with default gadgets and includes an online widget library for additional downloads.
However, the standard Windows sidebar can seem limiting at times. And even though Windows 7 hides the Sidebar in the background, it's still a resource hog and not very customizable. Why not free yourself from Microsoft’s shackles and venture forth to discover other sidebar alternatives that work just as well and enable you to do some really awesome customization.
RAW mode, a feature of virtually all digital SLR cameras and an increasing number of high-end point-and-shoot cameras, enables your camera to capture all of the image data in your photographs in full quality without distortion caused by JPEG data compression. RAW files enable you to repair white balance and color temperature problems, solve exposure problems, and adjust color intensity and other settings far better than you can with JPEG files. Unfortunately, you must use software that supports RAW files to optimize your picture and export it to a format you can use for other purposes, such as JPEG or TIFF.
Thankfully, you don't need to spend a fortune on software to edit RAW images. Or be a hardcore digital photography buff, either.
Although most Linux users rely on pre-built Linux distros and customize their software configuration after installation, there is nothing quite like having a Linux distro that was custom-designed to your specifications. This allows you to get whatever you want out of the box, but in the past it was difficult to create such a distro since it involved compiling the entire operating system from source. (something firmly in the realm of advanced-to-expert-level users)
In more recent years, it has become possible to create your own Linux distro through various easy-to-use online interfaces. The most well-known distro customization tool is Slax (which we recently discussed) but Novell has a tool called SuSE Studio in closed beta which allows you to assemble your own custom SuSE-based distro from pre-compiled packages. Right now, SuSE Studio is still invite-only since Novell gives you storage space on their servers and bandwidth to both store and download your creations.
Read on to learn how we built our own Maximum PC-themed Linux distro!