Review

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Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 Review

Cooling prowess as massive as its dual heatsinks.

WHEN WE REVIEWED the first-edition Noctua NH-D14 back in April 2010, we praised its quiet performance, but our then-current test bed didn’t put out enough heat to best showcase its cooling chops. Fortunately, our new one does. This coincides nicely with Noctua’s release of the NH-D14 SE2011, which includes (gasp) LGA2011 support and updates the D14’s two fans to include PWM, or pulse-width modulation.

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Xigmatek Gaia Review

A challenger appears!

SOMETIMES WHEN we use the Hyper 212 Plus in a build we get comments to the effect of, “Why don’t you use Xigmatek’s Gaia? It’s just as good and just as cheap!” Just as cheap? Definitely. Just as good? We’ll see!

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Gaia is a skyscraper-style stack of aluminum cooling fins on top of three direct-contact copper heat pipes. The Gaia is 6.5 inches high by 2.9 inches thick (with the fan) and 4.9 inches wide. At one pound, 4.7 ounces, it’s practically the same weight as the Hyper 212 Evo. Aside from the slightly narrower cooling fins and the fact that it has three heat pipes rather than four, and its 12cm PWM fan is held on by rubber pegs rather than a plastic clip, the Gaia looks a lot like the Evo.

We just realized that the Xigmatek Gaia’s cooling fins resemble the letter X.

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NZXT Havik 120 Review

NZXT’s second air cooler, and they still can’t spell ‘havoc’

NZXT DIDN’T ENTER the CPU cooling game until quite recently. We reviewed its first cooler, the skyscraper Havik 140, in December 2011. The Havik 140’s dual 14cm fans helped it power to the top of our air-cooling charts, though the slightly cheap-feeling mounting bracket kept it from Kick Ass Award status. NZXT’s second air cooler is the smaller, less expensive Havik 120.

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Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo Review

What, this old thing? Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo is the new‑and‑improved version of our standby CPU cooler. It’s just $35 and offers performance far exceeding other coolers in its price range, so it’s the first thing we reach for when we build a new budget-conscious rig. Given that LGA2011 CPUs don’t come with heatsinks, the Evo is the closest thing we have to a stock cooler, and it will be the standard against which all other Sandy Bridge-E coolers are judged.

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iBuypower Erebus Review

Boutique look and feel without the boutique price

We used to say that iBuypower should really be named iStealpower, because we’ve never understood how the company can sell such well-configured systems for such low prices. With its new Erebus line, iBuypower is maintaining its low-price strategy while stepping upmarket to compete with boutique vendors. Is the Erebus priced low enough to purchase on a whim? No, but considering what iBuypower packs into the rig, it’s a pretty good deal.

First up: The Erebus uses a custom NZXT-built case that takes its cues from Corsair’s groundbreaking 800D. Not to be upstaged, the Erebus case is almost an inch or two bigger in all dimensions, and it’s designed to be jam-packed with rads. The Erebus we reviewed had a massive quad radiator plus two dual radiators—with room for more. The Erebus case is designed for water cooling, and that quad radiator is integrated into the top of the unit with a plug you can use to top off its reservoir. It’s an impressive case, with the only major ding against it being its pass-through USB 3.0 cables—that’s so 2011. You’ll be hard pressed to find a new motherboard that doesn’t use internal USB 3.0 headers.

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Corsair Vengeance K60 Gaming Keyboard Review

A straightforward, rock-solid keyboard for FPS gamers

CORSAIR IS aiming at the very top of the gaming keyboard market with its Vengeance line—two boards with exquisite build quality and luxury price tags. The FPS-oriented K60 may be the cheaper of the two, but it still comes in at more than $100 MSRP, and will never be accused of feeling cheap.

In fact, the primary draw of the K60 is its elegant, simple design. The keyboard’s thin, heavy foundation has a brushed-aluminum face, and houses the mechanical Cherry MX Red switches in a unique non-recessed configuration that leaves no place for dust and crumbs to collect. The nicely spaced keycaps are rugged-feeling with a very light texture. We prefer the clicky Cherry MX Blue switches for typing, but the smooth Reds only require a light touch and provide an excellent, highly responsive gaming experience. Interestingly, Corsair seems to have opted to save money by using membrane switches for the function and navigation keys, giving the keys a non-uniform feel.

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Samsung Series 7 Slate PC Review

You got your full-featured Windows PC in our touchscreen tablet device!

AS IT ONCE AGAIN steals all the bestselling-tablet glory, the new iPad can lay claim to the highest pixel density per inch of any tablet display. But it can’t—nor can any Android tablet—identify as a full-fledged PC. Anyone hankering for a handheld touchscreen device with no compromises in computing capability should seek out something like the Samsung Series 7 11.6-inch Slate PC.

With an Intel Core i5-2467M, 11.6-inch LED‑­backlit display, and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, the Series 7 Slate PC fully serves as a home or mobile machine in the guise of a 10-finger-sensitive touchscreen tablet. The 128GB SSD model we tested costs a pretty penny compared to lesser tablets, but includes a helpful dock/cradle and Bluetooth keyboard. A 64GB model shaves the price down to $1,099.

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Asus GeForce GTX 680 Review

Asus has been coming on strong in graphics cards for several years now, though it never offers quite the variety of versions as companies like XFX and EVGA. Typically, Taiwan-based Asus will ship a reference card under its main brand, and then a custom-built, high-end card under its DirectCU brand. At a later date, the company might ship a super-high-end card using the company’s Matrix or Mars sub-brands. Price differences between Asus’s high-end and standard versions are wider, too, so it’s a little easier to figure out which card really is the premium version.