Review

avatar

Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H Review

Gigabyte Z87The Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H offers a lot of features for the price.

The world’s economy may be on the mend but a lot of people still want to justify every cubit spent on technology. For some people, spending $280 for the Asus Z87-Deluxe (reviewed in October) or even $260 for the Intel DZ87KLT-75K may seem exorbitant. Fortunately for you, budget-minded power user, Gigabyte has its GA-Z87X-UD5H board. OK, we’ll admit, $210 isn’t really budget, but you’ll see that it’s a pretty modest price given the board’s features. 

 

avatar

MSI N780 Lightning Review

MSI includes a separate utility just for the card’s fans, letting you control the outer ones separate from the inner fan.

Too exotic (and expensive) for mere mortals

Back in October, we took a look at the MSI GTX 770 Lightning, which was a bit like a hot rod that had been given a little too much go-go juice. It was fast, and provided a plethora of performance options for horsepower junkies, but it was simply unstable, even at stock clocks. Undaunted, MSI followed it up by sending us an even bigger, badder board in the same series, the GTX 780 Lightning. Like the other Lightning cards, this is the cream of the crop from MSI in terms of board design, cooling, features, and clock speeds. In other words, if you are looking for the fastest non-Titan board MSI offers, this is it. Unfortunately for MSI, though this board was quite stable overall, we didn’t see enough of a performance advantage over other GTX 780 cards to justify its outrageous $750 sticker price.

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

avatar

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

avatar

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

avatar

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.

avatar

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.