Can AMD make magic? Check out our in-depth Vishera benchmarks.
On paper, AMD’s Bulldozer microarchitecture always sounded like a mean, green machine. When it landed last year, though, in the form of the Zambezi processor (aka FX-8150), it actually went about as fast as a bulldozer.
AMD didn’t just give up and curl into a ball. The company went back to work polishing the FX chip into the new AMD FX-8350 “Vishera.” The chip might look like a Zambezi, but it features an improved branch predictor, improved scheduler, larger L1 translate lookaside buffer, new FMA3 and F16C instructions, L2 improvements, among many other changes.
Vishera looks the same externally and the good news: it’ll use the same AM3+ socket too.
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.
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.
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.
Call us suckers for military theming, but Corsair’s Vengeance C70 is a beautiful steel case that’s every bit as functional as it is fun to look at. The system sports a hefty arsenal: no fewer than six screwless hard drive trays and three screwless 5.25-inch bays in addition to one 12cm fan in the case’s rear and two directly to the left of the system’s hard drive bays. You can add two additional 12cm fans to the system’s front and two on top— arranged perfectly for a 240mm water-cooling radiator, if that’s your calling.
In a weird twist, Antec has delivered a case that’s both full on features and lacking in some of the company’s staple design elements. Take, for example, the case’s built-in fan controller—or lack thereof. We’re used to being able to flick switches to independently control all of the fans within an Antec chassis, but after connecting a Molex to the provided circuit board in the Eleven Hundred—annoyance number one—we were displeased to find that the switch only turns the top 20cm fan’s blue LED on and off. You can’t physically adjust the speed of that or the case’s rear 12cm fan.
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.
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
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.