Back in the day, to get any real power in a notebook, you needed to have a massive chassis to house all the most beefy mobile components. But today, with Intel’s smaller, more power-efficient Haswell processor and shrinking mobile video cards, this is no longer the case. The advent of these new parts means it's now possible to get serious performance without sacrificing portability, hence the growing number of capable gaming notebooks measuring 15 inches or less. The trouble is, with so many portable gaming options, which one do you choose?
Note: This article was taken from the December 2013 issue of the magazine.
If you’ve ever wished you could just leave your USB key on your desk or in your pocket and still access the files on it wirelessly, SanDisk’s new media drives are sort of what you’re looking for. Unfortunately for power users, these wireless media drives don’t quite fit the bill when it comes to file sharing, but they are great for sharing media with portable devices, and they are dead simple to use, too. They also double as pocket-ready Wi-Fi access points.
Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.
AVADirect’s Clevo P570WM might look like a laptop, but make no mistake about it, you won’t be using this on your lap. With a gargantuan carry weight of almost 20 pounds and a humongous chassis measuring 16.5x11.2x2.4-inches, this is the definition of desktop replacement. The reason it’s so heavy and massive, besides requiring a pair of three-pound power bricks to take full advantage of its power, is that it houses an X79 chipset with a hexa-core Core i7-3970X and two GeForce GTX 680Ms graphics cards. When you add in its 32GB of RAM and two storage drives—including a 250GB SSD—it’s easily the most well-spec’d notebook we’ve ever tested.
Note: This review was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
The Nvidia Shield falls short of being a game changer
With the Shield, Nvidia aims to deliver a powerful gaming handheld centered around the Android ecosystem and the ability to stream PC games locally onto a mobile device. It’s an ambitious endeavor, but is the Shield able to achieve those lofty goals?
PC users have been in a bit of a quandary about the new Thunderbolt interface from Intel. On the one hand, we’re all about maximum performance, so given its sizable speed advantage over USB 3.0, at least on paper, we’re eager to adopt it. On the other hand, there are three issues that have prevented us from jumping on the Thunderbolt bandwagon with both feet. The first is the fact that it debuted on the Apple platform. Granted, we’re a bit sensitive, but this just rubbed us the wrong way. Second, Thunderbolt doesn’t exist on LGA2011 due to a requirement for integrated graphics. And finally, we already have USB 3.0, so do we really need Thunderbolt? Sure, it’s twice as fast on paper (10Gb/s versus 5Gb/s), but will we see that benefit in the real world, and is it worth the cost? To help us answer all these nagging questions we snagged a very special hard drive, the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, which has both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports, allowing us to test both interfaces back-to-back and make an apples-to-apples comparison.
This we know: Windows 8 is more usable with a touchscreen, plain and simple. Whether that’s a practical scenario for tower-and-monitor setups is arguable, but it turns out that using touch on a laptop comes pretty naturally—even more so than we expected.
Note: This feature originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
The unique $35 Raspberry Pi computer set the PC world on its ear last year. Part computer science project and part incredibly cheap PC, the DIY single-board computer is such a hot item, some retailers are charging double what the unit originally cost. Of course, where there’s money, there’s Intel. The chip giant has formally introduced its $320 “Next Unit of Computing,” or NUC, PC concept—basically a bare-bones, hobbyist kit PC. While this is admittedly an apple–to-orange comparison in many respects, we felt that hobbyists deserve to see an accounting of the pros and cons of each in a head-on fight.
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
The Razer Edge sounds fantastic: a Windows 8 tablet, notebook, and portable gaming system in one. But in actual use, the Edge is a letdown.
The Edge starts at $1,000, with the Pro (reviewed here) climbing up to $1,450. That may be pricey for a "tablet," but it comes with a Core i7-3517U, Nvidia GT 640M LE, 8GB of DDR3/1600, and a 256GB SSD. While it’s supposed to be the happy love-child of a portable tablet and a powerful PC, the end result is a compromised monstrosity.
Think a laptop is supposed to be a light and portable PC? Think again. iBuyPower’s CZ-17 is neither of those things. With a carry weight of almost 11 pounds and dimensions measuring 16.9x11.3x2.2-inches, this thing is huge and friggin’ heavy. Imagine lugging around a dumbbell in your pack all day and you’ll catch our drift.
Note: This review first appeared in the January 2013 issue of the magazine.