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May 2012: Build a PC on Any Budget

May issue

In the PDF archive of the May 2012 issue you can find:

  • Build a PC on Any Budget
  • Windows 8 on ARM
  • Cloud Services Showdown: Google vs. Amazon vs. Microsoft vs. Apple
  • Alienware X51 PC
  • How to Encrypt Your External Drive
  • Head to Head: Razer Naga vs. Mad Catz Cyborg M.M.O. 7
  • And Reviews of the Latest Hardware

Click the cover image on the right to download the PDF archive today!

 

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Skype vs. Google Video Chat

skype

Skype vs. Google Video Chat

The sheer power of video is well-known; we all remember what it did to radio back in the ’80s, after all. But what would happen if video picked a fight with video? Curious, we tossed two of the top video chat options into a cage to determine the superior specimen. Skype may be the big man on campus, but Google's scrappy video calling plugin delivers the same features from within the Google ecosystem. There can be only one!

Note: This article was taken from the September issue of the magazine

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Max Payne 3 Review

The even bigger fall of Max Payne

Max Payne is a man who’s insanely uncomfortable inside his own skin. He’s still haunted by the death of his family, and in Max Payne 3, his body—more so than any random member of Brazil’s criminal underbelly—is the target of his most vicious attacks. Booze. Pills. Booze. Pills. Booze. Pills. Perhaps the most self-destructive character gaming has ever seen, Max is a ticking time bomb of good intentions and life’s harsh realities. And, for better or worse, so is this game. It claws desperately at greatness in so many places—a gripping cinematic narrative, real character development, a Rockstar-worthy world, utterly sublime shooting—but narrowly manages to fall short every time. In slow-mo.

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Razer Tiamat 7.1 Gaming Headset Review

Extreme headset pushes surround-sound envelope

With the Tiamat 7.1, Razer is redefining the top end of the gaming audio line. Where previous headsets have had trouble creating a surround gaming experience through just two drivers, the Tiamat fits what is essentially an entire surround sound system into each earcup, with five individual drivers, including a sub. You’ll need a 5.1- or 7.1-capable analog sound subsystem with three outputs to take advantage of the surround (and at $180, the set’s not worth it if you can’t), but if you’ve got the hardware this is the new headset to beat.

Each earcup on the Tiamat 7.1 features five individual drivers, which are visible through the side windows

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Dropcam HD Review

It doesn’t get any easier than this

When we hear hype that something is the “easiest” thing in the world to set up, we usually put on our hip waders and prepare to slog through a waist-high pile of dung, because 19 times out of 20, it's usually a load of crap.

Well, believe us when we say that the Dropcam HD is the easiest Internet camera  we’ve ever set up. We mean it. To set up the Dropcam HD, you just plug the camera into your PC via USB. The setup files are stored in flash, which kicks up a configuration utility. This lets you create an account with Dropcam and connect the device to a Wi-Fi network. Once you’ve done that, you unplug the Dropcam HD, move it to the area you want to monitor, and plug it in via the included 2-amp wall wart. That’s it; you’re done and streaming 720p video to the Internet in about two minutes flat. The lens is a wide 107 degrees, which is enough to let you see most of a room. The video quality is good, and while certainly far better than QVGA surveillance cams, the compression is heavy enough that you won’t be picking out license plates with it.

The Dropcam can be removed from the unique mount, if needed.

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Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers Review

Great speakers made even better

Wow. How did five years go by so quickly? We first became aware of Audioengine in early 2007, when the company asked if we’d be interested in evaluating its A5 self-powered speakers. It’s now 2012, and we have the revamped A5+ self-powered speakers on our desk. Now, as then, we’re knocked out by the huge sound these monitors can produce.

The retro white finish on Audioengine’s A5+ self-powered speakers is totally groovy, man.

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Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Review

Close, but no silver bullet

The Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E doesn’t lack for heat pipes: Eight of them rise from the heat exchanger up into the two sets of cooling fins. The entire thing, from aluminum fins to copper pipes and heat exchanger, is plated in a shiny nickel coat. The two sets of cooling fins are shiny and jagged, and much more stylized than the Noctua DH-14 (reviewed April 2012) or the Phanteks PH-TC14PE (reviewed June 2012), its most obvious competitors of the coolers we’ve tested. The whole assemblage weighs two pounds, 7.6 ounces with both fans. Those fans—a 15cm TY-150 and 14cm TY-141—are both low-RPM 12V fans with 4-pin PWM connectors.

There’s something incongruous about mustard-and-olive fans with those edgy nickel-plated cooling fins.

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Kingston 64GB Wi-Drive review

Offload your bulk videos and music

The concept for Kingston’s 64GB Wi-Drive is a little difficult to communicate to most people, but we’ve decided the best analogy is real estate.

Pretend you live in Tokyo or Manhattan and your $850,000 condo is just 700 square feet. What do you do with all your crap? Get a storage unit.

That’s precisely how Kingston’s clever little Wi-Drive works. Coming in sizes of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, the Wi-Drive lets you offload video, images, and music onto a diminutive battery-powered device. To access the files, you simply connect your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to the Wi-Drive via Wi-Fi. Even better, the Wi-Drive allows up to three simultaneous users so it essentially operates as a personal media server. For storage-limited devices such as the Kindle Fire or small-capacity iPads, the Wi-Drive lets you live large with media.

The Wi-Drive works as a small, battery-powered media server.