Review

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Total War: Rome II Review

It’s no Saving Private Ryan, but sailing toward a garrisoned city (full of painful archers) does feel a bit awe-inspiring.

We hope you have some chores to do between turns

It didn’t take long, but we soon came to a point within our Total War: Rome II empire-building where it would have been much nicer to just build a big wall around our smattering of conquered lands, put up a “Go Away” sign or two, and live out the rest of our days in boredom and serenity. After all, the game had already taken us pretty far toward the former.

Note: This review was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine

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Google Nexus 7 Review

Google and Asus again teamed up to make the new Nexus 7, and while the physical changes are subtle, they amount to a more sophisticated-looking device.

Same name, new-and-improved experience

It’s hard not to have high expectations of Google’s new Nexus 7—the original was a standout product that offered a satisfying Android experience in a highly portable 7-inch form factor, for less than $200. Now we’ve got the new Nexus 7 (is it us, or is it very annoying that it has the exact same name?) promising a number of refinements to the original, but also asking a higher price: $230 for 16GB, $270 for 32GB (reviewed here). You’re probably wondering if it’s still a compelling product.

Note: This article was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine

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Leap Motion Review

Motion-sensing controller lands with a thud

Considering how rapidly technology advances, the longevity of the humble computer mouse gets more fascinating every day. Sure, we’ve added a scroll wheel, switched to digital tracking, and sometimes go wireless, but its basic shape and behavior remains unchanged. The Leap Motion is not necessarily designed to replace it—but after our time with it, we’re not sure where it would fit in on the desktop.

Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Asus GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC 3GB Review

The GTX 780’s all-new Cool Tech cooler contains two separate fans to move air into and across the heatsink.

The GTX 780 overclocking champ

Last month, we took a look at EVGA’s GTX 780, which sported a new, fancy-britches “ACX” cooler. This month, it’s Asus’s turn with its own redesigned and totally non-reference GTX 780. At first glance, this GPU’s most notable attribute is its redesigned cooler, which despite many changes still bears the DirectCU II moniker we’ve seen on previous models. The new design uses five direct contact (DC) copper heat pipes, one of which is a plump 10mm, along with a primary “hybrid” fan that has two sets of fan blades to blow air in two directions at once. The cooler takes up two PCIe slots, and has an aluminum backplate wrapped around it to help support the cooler and dissipate heat across the top of the card. Our favorite feature of this cooler is that it can be detached from the card with just four screws, making it easy to clean before company comes over.

Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Thermaltake NiC C5 Review

Despite its front fan having a depth of 25mm, the C5 won’t get in the way of RAM slots.

Give a little, take a little

We don’t know how it started, but heat spreaders on today’s RAM sticks have gotten kinda out of control. So, gearheads these days have to get pretty creative (or potentially destructive) to fit most large aftermarket CPU coolers on the motherboard. Thermaltake had the bright idea to just make a more compact cooler, with not one but two 120mm fans on it. NiC stands for “Non-Interference Cooling,” and its C5 model sits at the top of the vendor’s lineup. With five heat pipes and 230 watts of heat dissipation, it’s ready for serious cooling, and it won’t get in the way of your RAM slots.

Note: This review was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.