Even we have to admit that in this economy, you have to be thankful if you’re not still driving a Pentium 4 rig. Still, for budget buyers today, the choice usually doesn’t get much better than a dual-core machine that takes overnight to encode video and a GPU that can’t push pixels downhill.
Fortunately, it’s no Pentium Dual-Core or Celeron that CyberPower opts to stick you with. Instead, CyberPower reached into its parts bin for Intel’s brand-new, budget badass: the $200 2.66GHz Core i5-750. This chip is like Chuck Norris in a bar fight: It not only wipes the floor with Phenom II X4, it commits a little fratricide against its Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo siblings, too.
To this Two-Buck Chuck, CyberPower adds what is definitely not a budget part: Nvidia’s fastest videocard in the form of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 295. At the foundation is Gigabyte’s new GA-P55-UD5 and 4GB of Kingston DDR3/1600. Storage is left to a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda and a Samsung 22x DVD burner. A Cooler Master V8 cooler and Scout case complete the package.
If you doubt the existence of mirror universes that are almost the same except for minor changes, Digital Storm’s 950Si rig could make a believer out of you.
The 950Si is that similar to Maingear’s Kick Ass Award–winning ePhex that we reviewed in August, albeit with some slight differences. For instance, the ePhex’s all-white enclosure was a Silverstone TJ10, while the 950Si uses a nearly all-black TJ09.
In graphics, the 950Si features dual EVGA GeForce GTX 295 cards while Maingear opted for three GeForce GTX 285 cards. Both rigs sport Intel’s top proc—the Core i7 975 Extreme Edition at 4GHz—but get there differently. Digital Storm does a straight multiplier overclock of 31x133MHz base clock to get to 4.1GHz. Maingear preferred a 21x multiplier with a 160MHz base clock to get to 4GHz.
Even in SSDs there’s a similar-but-different feel. Maingear tapped two Intel 80GB X-25M drives; Digital Storm opted for two of Corsair’s 64GB M64 SSDs.
Once upon a time, I dismissed the iPhone as a wannabe smartphone, lacking the key features that truly warranted that label. Since I wrote that column about two years ago, Apple has gone on a feature-adding rampage—adding push email, support for Exchange servers, third-party applications, and a veritable alphabet soup of new acronyms (GPS, MMS, and 3G, for starters). Two years into the iPhone era, the device is so much more than a phone with an iPod attached— it’s an instant-on, always-connected, pocket-sized computer.
On paper, the 3GS doesn’t seem like a major upgrade from the previous-generation iPhone, especially when you consider that many of the bullet points on the 3GS’s feature list came to older iPhones in the form of the 3.0 firmware release. And at first glance, even the new 3GS-exclusive features—a faster CPU, more memory, a more capable GPU, faster network connectivity, a higher-resolution camera that can finally shoot video, voice control for key features, and a compass—seem like a mixture of unsexy, incremental, shoulda-been-there-already features, and just plain meh. Worse, some of the features require carrier support, so things like MMS messages, higher-speed HSPDA support, and tethering won’t be available in the United States until AT&T deigns to support them.
We’ve seen systems with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) before, but no vendor has been sassy enough to break from the de rigueur SATA VelociRaptor or SSD drives in favor of the tech—until now.
Of course, this is Polywell’s M.O.—not content to do things like any other system vendor, Polywell usually tucks in a curve ball to brush you off home plate when you don’t expect it. Sometimes Polywell’s pitch doesn’t work (think really nice $5,000 gaming rig with an $8 keyboard and mouse), but time we were intrigued with its 300 gigabytes of RAID 0, 15,000rpm, connected using SAS. The onboard SAS support in the Asus P6T Deluxe mobo achieved sequential read speeds of about 192MB/s with 6.8ms access times—that’s purty durn good considering that our VelociRaptor-equipped systems see roughly 166MB/s reads with about 7+ms access times.
Elsewhere, Polywell plays it safe and sane: an Intel Core i7 clocked up to 3.66GHz on air and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 card along with 6GB of DDR3 at 1,450MHz and an LG Blu-ray drive stuffed into an Antec 900 case make it a well-rounded rig—albeit a bit bland.
Thanks in part to Intel's Atom platform, system builders are having an easier time designing fully-integrated PCs and a tapping into the increasingly popular all-in-one PC market. And that's exactly what Shuttle plans to do, if Computex is any indication.
Shuttle, most popular for its small form factor (SFF) PCs, had on display its upcoming X50 all-in-on PC. The new rig comes with a 15.6-inch 1336x768 widescreen display with touchscreen capabilities (the company was also showing smaller screen models), Intel's dual-core Atom 330 CPU and 945GC chipset combo, 1GB of DDR2 memory, a 160GB hard drive, a 1.3MP webcam, and a 4-in-1 card reader.
Fans of Shuttle's SFF rigs need not worry, however, as the company had on display several new SFF systems, including a pair that will tap into VIA's Nano processors.
The Velocity Micro Raptor Z90 is the first production rig we’ve tested that boasts Intel’s new Core i7 microarchitecture—and it really cooks. Velocity cranked the 3.2GHz clock speed on Intel’s quad-core Hyper-Threaded Core i7-965 Extreme Edition to 3.6GHz with nary a hiccup, and cooled the dang thing with air. The machine also features 6GB of DDR3/1600 and dual 512MB Radeon HD 4870s.
You want power? You got it. The beastly Benchmark Crusher from Digital Storm provides stellar performance and a workout all in one package. A few bench presses with this machine will whip you into tip-top shape in no time. Inside this hefty package are enough high-end performance parts to make any hardcore gamer wet his pants.
IBuypower’s Gamer Paladin 990 is a strange beast. After we completed our testing, we were left wondering just what iBuypower was trying to accomplish with its half exotic, half midrange rig.
Take, for example, the videocard situation. The machine sports a pair of Nvidia’s newest GPUs, but not the company’s top-end offering, the GeForce GTX 280. Instead, iBuypower uses a pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 260s. If these GeForce cards weren’t midrange when they were first released, they certainly are now, as Nvidia has taken a blowtorch to prices to keep the GTX 260 competitive with ATI’s Radeon HD 4870.
There’s a civil war brewing within the PC: Intel says the CPU is the head honcho while Nvidia argues that the GPU is boss. With its Deluge-i A2, Puget shows whose side it’s taking in this debate. This budget gaming box spends big on the videocard but skimps on the processor.
Did they side with the right team? Find out after the jump