The sound card is back—but does your PC need one anymore?
If you think of your PC as a lifeboat full of components floating in the Atlantic Ocean after one of those ARM-based subs put two fish into the side of the PC’s troop transport, you can better understand the plight of the sound card.
Note: This review originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Multi-core processors and vastly improved onboard audio solutions have all but rendered discrete audio cards obsolete, just don't speak such nonsense to Creative, which just unveiled a new generation of Sound Blaster soundcards. Three new cards comprise the company's new Sound Blaster Z Series, including the Sound Blaster ZxR, Zx, and Z, all three of which are PCI Express parts.
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.
While Apple may not be offering anything new this holiday season, there’s a good chance that Asus might. According to notebook component vendors, Asus may be planning to introduce a 12-inch notebook, similar to the high-end Eee PC S101.
Claims have been reported that the S101 was originally designed for Asus’ ZX series, but Asus decided to ultimately add it to the netbook line as the demand for a high-end Eee PC grew. The rumored 12-inch ZX is supposed to have similar functionality to the Eee, but with bonus screen real estate, packing a respectable 16:10 aspect ratio.
The rumored notebook is supposed to be launched by the end of 2008, with a price point lower than $1,000. So keep your eyes open in the coming weeks, the holiday season is just around the corner.