Believe it or not, eMachines is still pumping out PCs, only these bear little resemblance to the ultra-budget (read: low quality) rigs of yesteryear. These days, eMachines answers to a bigger vendor, having been scooped up by Gateway in 2004, which in turn was acquired by Acer in 2007. All this maneuvering has put eMachines in a better position to release low-cost PCs without cutting as many corners as before, and that seems to be the case with the new Mini-e ER1402.
With a sleek and glossy black diamond shaped profile and the size, weight, and thickness of a book, the new Mini-e might stand out in your home theater, but not as an eyesore as an eMachines once would.
"Today’s cost-conscious consumer will find style, features and affordability come together beautifully in the low-cost eMachines Mini-e," said Steve Smith, senior business manager, consumer desktops for eMachines. "It’s an inconspicuous, streamlined computing solution for any room of the home where consumers want to enjoy movies, photos, music and other online entertainment."
While we're smitten with the exterior, the interior is more of what we'd expect from an eMachines. This wasn't built to replace your gaming machine, and instead meshes low-cost, yet serviceable components into a respectable HTPC. Inside and around the Mini-e you'll find an AMD Athlon NEO processor, Nvidia GeForce 9300 graphics, 2GB of memory, 160GB hard drive, memory card reader, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, and a mounting kit for slapping the whole thing to the back of you television.
Most readers know the name iBuypower by now, but they don’t know our nickname for the company: iStealpower.
OK, that’s not really true, we just made that up to make this story sound sexier, but there is some truth to our jest. Over the years, we’ve often wondered how the hell these guys can offer PCs for less than the cost of the parts. You know, like getting $2,900 worth of parts in a machine that cost $2,200.
We’re not sure if the cost of the parts in iBuypower’s Paladin F exceeds the price of the machine, but it probably gets close. The Paladin F sports Intel’s new hotness: the hexa-core 3.33GHz Core i7-980X (clocked up to 3.8GHz). Even with AMD’s new hexa-core CPU now on the market, Intel’s Core i7-980X is still clearly the recognized fastest CPU in der verold! To the 980X, iBuypower adds Nvidia’s top-dog GeForce GTX 480 card, aka Fermi. Also aboard are 6GB of Kingston DDR3/1600, a 1-kilowatt PSU, an LG Blu-ray combo drive, a 1.5TB hard drive, and RAID 0 SSDs, along with Windows 7 Home Premium. The entire system is embedded in a Zalman GS1000 Plus enclosure.
Acer, the second largest PC vendor in the galaxy, continues to gun for the No. 1 spot (held by Hewlett-Packard), and one way to get there is to kick out low-cost models nearly anyone can afford. That seems to be the philosophy behind Acer's new Aspire X3 and M3 Series consumer desktop models, which start out at just $450.
"Our new Aspire X3 and M3 Series desktops are great all-around workhorses offering practical technology in an intuitive design," said Steve Smith, senior business manager of consumer desktops for Acer America. "Engineered to efficiently multitask and tackle digital media, these systems are outfitted with industry-leading components and make an appealing addition to a dorm, bedroom or home office."
Featuring a space-saving chassis, the Aspire X3 series plays both sides of the fence with AMD Athlon II, AMD Phenom II, Intel Core i3, and Intel Pentium E6600 processor options. Other specs include 4GB of memory (standard), up to 1TB of hard drive space, Intel GMA HD graphics, optional Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics, up to 11 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, and various other accouterments.
Acer's M3 series, on the other hand, come in only AMD flavors, either an Athlon II or Phenom II processor. Sporting a microtower chassis, the overall spec sheet is a little more subdued in some areas and includes up to 640GB of storage, one less USB 2.0 port, and choice between Nvidia's 9200 chipset or ATI's HD 5450 graphics.
Boutique system vendor Origin PC introduces what the company claims is the world's first customizable 3D gaming laptop, the EON15-3D. Sure, there are other 3D laptops to choose from, but according to Origin, none that can be fully custom tailored to Joe Sixpack's liking.
Starting out at $1,950, the 15-inch EON15-3D features Core i5 and i7 processors, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285M GPUs, Blu-ray burners, up to 8GB of DDR3-1333 memory, up to 750GB of hard drive space, SSD options, programmable gaming buttons, touch sensitive access buttons, HDMI out, and Windows 7software.
Like it or not, 3D gaming (and movie watching) still requires wearing a pair of dorky glasses, at least as far as the mainstream is concerned, and the EON15-3D is no exception. Accompanying the 3D-capable display is a pair of wireless Nvidia 3D Vision active-shutter glasses.
Lenovo has launched what it claims is the "industry's first large business-focused 23-inch all-in-one desktop," the ThinkCentre M90z. Unlike traditional all-in-one PCs, the M90z includes several IT features designed more for work than play.
"While more and more people are using mobile devices, there are lots of environments where desktop products simply make more sense, and these latest Lenovo products showcase how our new innovations are leading in all-in-one desktops," said Peter Hortensius, senior vice president, Think Product Group, Lenovo. "We believe all-in-one is the future of desktops, so we created the ThinkCentre M90z to deliver everything large enterprise customers need: no compromised performance, customized ergonomic features and a full web conferencing experience."
Part of the IT focus includes a full complement of manageability features for large businesses through Lenovo's ThinkVantage Technologies productivity tools. The M90z supports Intel vPro and Lenovo's Hardware Password Manager for encrypted hard drives, and users are able to remove the back to upgrade the PC, typically a weak point of AIO systems.
CyberPower rarely wastes any time in adopting new technologies for its gaming rigs, and now is no exception. Coming hot off the assembly lines are several gaming systems now equipped with Nvidia's 3D Vision platform.
"We are excited about incorporating the new 3D PC category into our mix of gaming desktops," said Eric Cheung, CEO of CyberPower. "As 3D gaming technology continues to evolve, integrating 3D PCs into our product lineup is essential to provide consumers the perfect solution for 3D gaming and entertainment."
Playing both sides of the fence, customers can customize 3D-ready PCs built around both AMD (Gamer Ultra series) and Intel (Gamer Extreme series) platforms. Pricing starts out at a little under $1,300 for the Gamer Ultra 3D 1000, which includes an AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor, 4GB of DDR3-1600 memory, Nvidia GTS 250 graphics card, Gigabyte MA770T-USB3 AM3 motherboard, 1TB SATA hard drive, DVD burner, CoolerMaster Elite 310 case, and a Samsung 2233RZ 22-inch 3D LCD monitor with Nvidia's 3D Vision stereoscopic glasses bundle.
The cost of entry for an Intel system checks in at $1,389 (Gamer Xtreme 3D 2000) and includes the same monitor/3D glasses combo, plus an Intel Core i5 750 processor, EVGA P55 TR P55V motherboard, and 4X Blu-ray drive. Like the Ultra, the baseline Extreme setup includes the same RAM, hard drive, and DVD burner.
Touchy feely types rejoice, Gateway has gone and updated its all-in-one touchscreen ZX series of PCs, spreading the love to both Intel and AMD. What's more, Gateway says both PCs easily double as a TV, which we can see being particularly attractive to the college-bound crowd.
Pricing starts out at $750 and gets you the Gateway One ZX4300-01e. This one comes equipped with an AMD Athlon X2 235e (2.7Ghz, 2MB L2 cache), integrated ATI Radeon HD 4270 graphics, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, 640GB hard drive, 8X DVD burner, multi-card reader, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, six USB 2.0 ports, 2.1 channel audio, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. All this drives the 20-inch touchscreen display with a 1600x900 resolution.
For a little more jingle, the Intel-based Gateway One ZX6900-01e will set you back $1,020 and comes built around Intel's core i3 530 processor (2.93GHz, 4MB cache). Other upgrades include a larger display (23 inches, 1920x1080), 4X Blu-ray reader, and eSATA and HDMI ports. This one also swaps the Radeon chip for Intel GMA graphics.
Come June, Gateway said it will add a third model with an Intel Core i5 650 processor and TV tuner.
It’s no secret that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 cards are the hottest piece of technology people want to gawk at right now. Hell, we were barely able to obtain one of these coveted babies for our feature on Fermi this month.
So we were pretty impressed to crack open Maingear’s new Shift system and find three GTX 480 boards running in tri-SLI. That the company could rate such bounty is testament to its street cred among power users.
The Shift isn’t just about the Fermi cards, though. Maingear also managed to get that other big star of the PC world in for the ride: Intel’s Core i7-980X, which, with help from the Acetek water cooler, Maingear pushes from the stock 3.33GHz to 4.2GHz.
When we think of high end gaming machines, Intel's Xeon processors aren't the first chips that come to mind, but that doesn't mean we'd turn our noses up at a monster setup with not one, but two six-core Xeon 5600 chips. That's exactly what AVADirect delivers in its new custom hybrid gaming system / workstation setup built for both work and play.
If you don't need quite that level of performance, you can drop down to a mere quad-core Xeon chip, but where's the fun in that? As with most boutique system builders, you can choose from a wide variety of components, including up to 48GB of DDR3 memory, up to FOUR freaking graphics, oodles of SSD and HDD options configurable in a RAID array, and just about everything else you can imagine. For a fee, AVADirect will go the extra mile however little or much you wish, including GPU overclocking, sound dampening your setup, slapping on a custom paint job, and spiral wrapping or looming custom colored cables.
All of these hardware options come jammed into an EVGA SR2 motherboard with support for SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0, and the whole thing is shoved into a Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P80 tower chassis, which are about the only two components that can't be swapped.
Boutique system vendor Maingear is hoping to capitalize on AMD's low-priced 6-core Phenom II X6 processor line by releasing a pair of modestly priced gaming PCs built around the new platform. It's called the VYBE Limited Edition and it comes in two baseline configurations.
The first one sells for $999 and comes built around AMD's Phenom II X6 1055T processor, the lesser of AMD's two chips. Maingear couples the CPU with AMD's new 890GX chipset, which boasts support for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0. Other features include a Radeon HD 5670 videocard, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, 640GB hard drive, DVD burner, 500W power supply, and Windows 7 Home Premium.
For $300 more, Maingear bumps the processor up to a 1090T (3.2GHz). Other upgrades include a Radeon HD 5830 videocard and 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory, otherwise the specs remain the same.