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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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Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 16GB Review

A secure-but-poky USB flash drive

Everything about the Aegis Secure Key telegraphs that Apricorn is serious about the whole data-security thing. The Secure Key has 256-bit AES full hardware encryption, so it doesn’t require software or drivers—it’s completely platform-independent, and it will even work with USB On-the-Go devices like Android tablets. This is a big deal—many drives ship with software encryption clients, but those rarely include software compatibility beyond Mac and Windows.

Enter the wrong PIN 10 times and the Aegis will shred your data to prevent brute-force attacks.

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Google Nexus 7 vs. Apple iPad

Google Nexus 7 vs. Apple iPad

We all know the Apple iPad sits atop the 10-inch tablet market like an MMA fighter straddling the octagon fence after a first-round TKO. That fight is over, for now, but the battle for 7-inch supremacy is still going strong and our new favorite contender is the Google Nexus 7, made by Asus. Since we now have two favorite tablets, and room for only one in our man purse, we must settle this the old-fashioned way—with a tab blood-letting.

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Thermaltake Level 10 GTS Review

Daring to be different, but falling a little short

The Level 10 GTS is a mid-tower based on a full-tower based on an overdesigned concept chassis, and the form factor has lost something in translation at each step, resulting in a chassis that’s a bit, well, weird.

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NZXT Phantom 410 Gunmetal Edition Review

One of the best-looking mid-towers on the market

The Phantom 410 inherits the good looks of its full-tower predecessor but adds some tweaks of its own. It’s a great-looking case in any color (we’ve used white and red for builds), but the gunmetal gray is spectacular. The paint is thick and luxurious to the touch, enough to give the Phantom 410 a much better feel than the MSI Ravager, which uses similar chassis tooling. Like the full-tower Phantom, the 410 has plastic shrouds on the top and front panels, which increase the size of the case (and make it impossible to rest anything on top). The top shroud contains two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and a three-speed fan controller—as well as the seven fan-control cables that lead from it.

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Corsair Obsidian 550D Review

The sound of silence (and the heat, too)

Corsair’s Obsidian 550D comes packed with sound-dampening acoustical foam (nearly half an inch on its side panel), but it’s not just Corsair’s dedication to quiet that has us wowed. It’s the 550D’s interactivity: Gaining access to most of the steel case’s fan mounts (two 12cm mounts on the top, two preinstalled 12cm fans on the front, and two 12cm fan mounts on the case’s side) only requires you to push on a panel. Out it pops and in you go. The case’s side panels receive a similar treatment: Just hit a button on the rear of the case and bam—you can take them right off.