We awarded Corsair’s HS1 USB headset a 9 verdict last year, remarking that its huge 50mm drivers, solid and comfortable construction, and $100 price tag added up to a surprisingly good value for a freshman effort. The one element that denied the HS1 a Kick Ass award was its uninspired—nay, downright ugly—industrial design.
Corsair’s new flagship USB headset, the Vengeance 1500, retains all the strengths of the HS1 and eliminates nearly all its weaknesses.
You’d have to actively be avoiding the tech media over the past several months not to have heard about Ultrabooks. Their coming has garnered a boatload of buzz, fueled in no small part by Intel’s $300 million fund to get hardware and software makers behind the cause.
Ultrabooks are Intel’s answer to the spread of ARM-based tablets—a way to capture the hearts and minds of the masses with an x86-based portable device (of the Intel persuasion, natch). To that end, Ultrabooks are required to meet a few key “desirability” standards. They must be slim, lightweight, have generous battery life, and boot and resume from hibernation in brisk fashion. It’s also understood they should look cool. As Apple products so clearly demonstrate, style sells. And sure enough, Ultrabooks—at least those that have debuted so far—are heartily infused with MacBook Air influence.
So are these new, “cool” devices the next must-have products? Is all the hoopla warranted? We review the first four Ultrabooks to kick off the category. All are 13.3 inch models, but each brings its own brand of hot-newness to the table, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, as you’ll see when you click the jump.
If you can’t beat Apple’s iPad, change the rules of the game. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are taking a bath on sales of the $199 Kindle Fire and the $249 Nook Tablet, respectively, and making up for it with profits on sales of electronic merchandise (e-books, videos, music, and apps). The strategy has succeeded in moving a lot of hardware, with each company on track to sell millions of units (although the ratio of Kindle Fire to Nook Tablet sales is greatly in Amazon’s favor so far). Both tablets feature nearly identical 7-inch, 1024x600 LCDs and rely on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Which should tempt you away from the high-end tablets? Only a bloody-knuckled deathmatch will tell.
Media streamers like the Western Digital WD TV Live and Netgear NeoTV make just a little less sense than they did a couple of years ago. In those days, they were the perfect alternative to stuffing a home theater PC into your entertainment center. These days, you can get nearly all the same functionality from a new Blu-ray player or a Smart TV.
On the other hand, the latest incarnations of these two products cost less than a new Blu-ray player, and they’re several orders of magnitude cheaper than a new HDTV (or a home theater PC, for that matter). And while they do have some features in common, the NeoTV delivers far fewer features than the WD TV Live and is priced accordingly, so we’re not making a direct head-to-head comparison between the two here.
You can’t truly appreciate the paint job on Falcon Northwest’s Mach V unless you can fondle it. We mean it—you just can’t comprehend how damn smooth the paint is without lovingly stroking your hand on the side of this beauty as if you were a presidential candidate.
Inside the Mach V, you’ll find a pedigree of hardware to match its stunning exterior. So how does the Falcon stack up?
We found the Asus Matrix GTX 580 Platinum that we reviewed in the November 2011 issue to be pretty badass: It’s a solid, factory-overclocked card that’s impressively easy to push even harder. But it’s also three slots wide and requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Gigabyte’s GTX 580 Super Overclock (model GV-N580SO-15L) takes Nvidia’s GPU even further, pumping the core from a stock 772MHz all the way to 855MHz, and the card’s 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory from a stock 1,002MHz to 1,025MHz (the Matrix GTX 580 comes out of the box with its GPU running at 816MHz and its memory at 1,002MHz). And the Gigabyte takes up only two slots and uses just a single 8-pin power connector.
Frequent Maximum PC readers will have noticed our love affair with Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler. The 212 Plus came out of nowhere and captured our hearts—and a spot on our Best of the Best list—with its excellent cooling power and rock-bottom $30 price tag way back in 2009. It’s not the best CPU cooler we’ve tested, but we’ve installed it in virtually every stock-clocked PC we’ve built since, thanks to its unbeatable price/performance ratio. Cooler Master’s all-new Hyper 212 Evo costs five dollars more than the Plus. But is it five dollars better?
Let’s be frank: If you’re even thinking about buying into Intel’s deliciously fast LGA2011 platform this early, you are an enthusiast—Enthusiast with a capital-freaking-E, since you can’t even look at LGA2011 without buying a $550 chip.
So if you’re jumping in, you might as well use both feet. Asus’s P9X79 Deluxe certainly fits that bill, delivering cool features and a stout price tag: This X79-based board will set you back a cool $400.
“Deluxe” features on board include digital VRMs, Asus’s trademark UEFI, and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with a bundled smartphone app that enables you to remotely overclock and monitor your system. This board also has an all-new feature that lets you use a particular USB port to update its BIOS without a processor installed.
For a company whose primary business is manufacturing hard drives, Western Digital sure knows a lot about digital media and how to stream it over a network. Each succeeding generation of the company’s WD TV Live product has led the market in terms of features, price, and performance, and this one is no different.
Craving a spot at the commercial online media buffet, but not at all interested in ripping your own media? Netgear has just the right dish. The NeoTV taps your broadband connection to serve up Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa, and plenty of other online services; but it can’t tap media stored on your own network, and it doesn’t have any USB ports to access local storage.