We dinged September’s Antec Sonata Proto for being feature-poor. Can’t say the same of the flagship of Antec’s Dark Fleet line, the DF-85. This full-tower chassis looks great, is packed with fans, and includes luxury extras that wouldn’t be out of place in a case twice the price.
The DF-85 stands 23.5 inches high by 20 inches deep by 8.4 inches wide, and is constructed of matte-black painted steel. The entire front is taken up by hinged door compartments: three removable optical-drive doors and three mesh-covered front doors with 12cm three-speed LED fans—removable, washable dust filters included. The DF-85 also has two 14cm top exhaust fans and two 12cm rear LED exhaust fans. All four exhaust fans are two-speed and controlled by switches at the case’s rear. The case’s front-panel connectors include a hot-swap 2.5-inch drive bay (similar to the CM 690 II Advanced), three USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 3.0 port, fed by a pass-through to the rear panel, à la last month’s HAF X.
Now, the first thing you’re going to notice about the HS1 USB gaming headset is that it isn’t the best looking set out there. It’s bulky, the color choice is uninspired, and the odd decision to pad the bottom and top of the headband gives the whole thing a sort of bloated aesthetic. There—now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about the reasons that Corsair’s first headset kicks ass.
For one, it sounds great. That supersize chassis means more room for big, beefy 50mm drivers. These give the HS1 clear highs and bass that’s great for a pair of headphones. The dynamic range is also stellar, letting everything from gunshots to quiet, ambient background noises come through with excellent clarity.
If you’ve always wondered just where Velocity Micro likes to slot itself in a world of $8,000 wonder rigs and $2,000 budget gaming machines, the Edge Z55 seems to nail it.
At $4,300, the Edge Z55 epitomizes Velocity Micro’s strategy. There’s Ferrari, Lamborghini, and others at the very top and Chevy and Ford at the other end. In that car analogy, Velocity Micro believes it can live in the BMW layer, bringing you great performance, some customization, and still at a pretty good price.
In PC terms, the Edge Z55 occupies the space between the $2,000 quad-core Acer Predator we reviewed last month—a visually stimulating machine that was more show than go—and Digital Storm’s HailStorm—a multi-GPU, hexa-core beast that cost almost $8,000.
The HAF X is the third case in Cooler Master’s High Air Flow lineup: The full-tower HAF 932 won our Kick Ass award in November 2008, and we continue to admire the mid-tower HAF 922 we first saw in October 2009—the red version is in this month’s cover story. With the HAF X, Cooler Master updates the full tower for 2010.
At 21.7x23.2x9.1 inches, the HAF X is barely bigger than the mid-tower HAF 922 and a full inch shorter and shallower than the Corsair 800D, yet it’s still roomy enough to fit a 12.1-inch graphics card. The HAF X’s rolled-steel frame and plastic bezels hew closely to the HAF series’ lines, and the internals offer few surprises. As we’d expect, there are plenty of large fans: a front 23cm red LED fan, top and side 20cm fans (and room for another at the top), and a 14cm rear exhaust. In lieu of two 20cm fans, the top panel can accommodate a triple radiator and its 12cm fans.
Mafia II’s got a script that’s probably as thick as four phonebooks, but the phrase we uttered most while playing the game was, “So close.” Over and over, it’s all we could think as we watched the game grasp at greatness, only to latch onto big old handfuls of disappointment. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and last we checked, our copy of Mafia II was neither neighing nor exploding in our faces. (We’re kind of thankful about that last one.)
Mafia II sees you take on the role of Vito Scaletta, a young Italian immigrant who’s fresh off the front lines of World War II. Or rather, he’s on permanent leave, thanks to a buddy of questionable moral fiber who pulled a few strings. Long story short, Vito dives right into the deep end of organized crime—mostly because he wants money and hates dirtying his hands with menial labor. Seriously. See, here’s the thing: Vito’s kind of an a-hole.
As brands go, Prolimatech is a new one. The company has only been around since 2008, after all, and it offers a bare handful of products. But the company was founded by people who clearly know a lot about CPU cooling, as it’s accrued considerable cred in just a couple of years. Its best-known cooler, the Megahalems, was designed for overclocked 1366 chips. We told Prolimatech about our new Socket 1156 cooling test bed, and the company sent over a newer cooler, ominously named Armageddon.
At 5.6 inches wide by 2 inches thick by 6.3 inches tall, the Armageddon is wider but slimmer than our champion air cooler, the CM Hyper 212+. While the Hyper has four direct-contact copper heat pipes, the Armageddon’s six heat pipes run through a more standard heat exchanger and up through a stack of heat-dissipation fins. The Armageddon’s mounting system is a bit complex—requiring a backplate, three retention bars, four bolts, four o-rings, four double-headed thumbscrews, four nuts, and two spring screws. But the end result is a stable, solid install with no give and no potential pressure- or torque-related failure points.
A part of us wishes Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 came bundled with its own aluminum foil deflector beanie, because it’s the only thing missing from what’s otherwise the ultimate package for paranoid PC users. Put another way, running Kaspersky is like sitting in a panic room behind a three-inch steel-frame door with multiple deadlocks, and toting a sawed-off shotgun just for good measure. Do you see where we’re going?
Out of the box, Kaspersky comes ready to throw down with any malware feeling froggy enough to jump. Almost as if trying to prove a point, Kaspersky wouldn’t even allow us to visit our synthetic spyware site (www.spycar.org) until we configured the web module to chilax and let us poke our head into suspicious web portals. Not that it mattered, because Kaspersky was unfazed by each of Spycar’s attempts to hijack our browser and simulate other malicious behavior.
Ever heard the phrase, “Do one thing, and do it well?” Hitachi surely has. The company took that advice, considered it, threw it out the window, and released an external backup drive bundled with a media suite that does many things—some of them potentially interesting, but none of them particularly well. The Hitachi LifeStudio Plus is an external backup drive with an interesting dock, a cool companion USB key, and a clunky, awkward integrated software suite.
The hardware itself is attractive, in a retro, family-friendly sort of way. It consists of a black (or white) docking station that holds a removable 2.5-inch external drive (in tasteful grey and light blue, graphite, or white), and a 4GB USB flash drive. The removable hard drive slots onto a mini-USB connector, but the flash drive connects magnetically. When connected, the drive automatically syncs with a folder or folders of your choice. Ideally. In practice, it’s very good at syncing files from your computer to the flash drive, but it doesn’t work the other way. Despite checking the requisite boxes on the settings menu, the so-called “MyKey” refused to copy files from the flash drive to the folder it was allegedly synched to, which makes the whole thing much less useful than it should be.
We’ve seen our share of miniature PCs over the years. They generally get smaller, more power-efficient, and quieter—but they never seem to get faster.
Take eMachine’s ER1402 machine, for example. This unique-looking, pedestal-mounted machine is the epitome of the original “nettop” concept: a low-power PC designed almost exclusively to browse the web. And that’s about all you can do with its single-core, low-clock chip.
OCZ Technology is on a roll. While most consumer SSD manufacturers are content to just slap the latest controller and some NAND into a 2.5-inch enclosure and call it a day, OCZ has been pumping out innovative products, from top-of-the-heap SATA SSDs to the blistering-fast (and stylish) USB 3.0 Enyo drive. Now it has introduced the RevoDrive, a PCI-E SSD in capacities from 50GB to 480GB. Though it’s not the first PCI Express SSD (Fusion-io’s been making enterprise-level PCI-E SLC devices for years), it is the first bootable consumer PCI-E SSD. OCZ claims the RevoDrive can hit up to 540MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes, which sounds like nonsense. But is it?