Want to know how insane the enthusiast motherboard bracket has become? Gigabyte’s X58A-UD7 seems pedestrian next to the other two contenders here. Sure, it has a rakish, liquid-cooling-ready heat pipe to keep the north bridge chilled out, but frankly, without that Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2 in place, the board is damn near boring next to its contemporaries. Where’s the dual 8-pin supplemental CPU power connectors? Or Bluetooth remote-control capability, wired remote overclocking tool, or audio riser card?
Do you consider yourself a power user? It’s a tough question. After all, where do you draw the line? Hardware hacking? Command-line skills? Unix?
As we sat down to answer this question, the possibilities seemed endless, making our task feel more daunting. Windows registry hacks? Networking know-how? Upgrades? We even asked you, our readers, to contribute your suggestions. We received a bunch of great ones, but this only further broadened our pool of ideas.
Undeterred, we took a step back to consider the very essence of a power user. Eureka! A power user, we reasoned, is not a simple state of being. It’s a path, filled with accomplishments and achievements and failures and applied knowledge. And merit. We imagined a Boy Scout sash, filled with badges indicating various acts of heroism and knowledge, as well as empty spaces where future achievements will eventually reside.
On the following pages, you’ll learn what our version of this path is. Enjoy!
There’s a lot of history behind the Phantom lapboard (and its ill-begotten console progenitor) but we don’t need to go into that. What you do need to know is that the Phantom lapboard is essentially a wireless keyboard on a hinge. You can (and must) lock it into an angled position to use the mouse on the surface below and to the side of the keyboard. Now, this raises a question: Do you like typing on a keyboard that’s locked at a significant angle to the natural plane of your hands? Of course you don’t.
Also, about that mousing surface. It’s really slippery, and so is the mouse. And it doesn’t have any sort of lip on it. So if you’re thinking about relaxing on the couch and using the Phantom in any sort of natural position, forget about it. The second you take your hand off the mouse to type something, that sucker’s clattering to the floor.
SandForce-based drives have quickly emerged as the frontrunners in the solid-state wars, thanks to impressive read and write speeds, both sequential and random (which finally gives them an edge over the previous random-write leader, the aging Intel X-25M G2). All SandForce drives use the same controller, so differences between models come down to the commodity NAND used and—most importantly—firmware.
SandForce played a tricky game with its firmware, letting some manufacturers ship drives with release-candidate firmware, giving other vendors special “max IOPS” firmware, and so forth. Even its SF-1500 and SF-1200 controllers (enterprise and consumer, respectively) are only differentiated by firmware—but this firmware can vary quite a bit. We’ve never tested a bad SandForce drive, but the question remains: Is the Patriot Inferno a great SandForce drive, or merely a good one?
We believe that everyone who considers themselves a computer enthusiast should have at least some experience with a Linux environment, but it can be daunting to just jump into the deep end of a completely unfamiliar operating system. One way to get your feet wet is with Cygwin, a free program that provides you with a Unix-like command line, without having to leave Windows. Cygwin is not a Unix emulator (it cannot run native Unix programs, although it does contain the tools needed to compile and run a program from source code), but it does have a wide array of optional packages that let you use most of the tools and utilities that you would commonly use in Unix, in Windows. In this guide, we’ll show you how to get Cygwin set up, the basics of how to navigate a Unix file system, and how to find more information as you need it.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this. We first heard about Nvidia’s next-generation Ion chip way back in the first months of 2010. They were supposed to ship with Nvidia’s Optimus graphics-switching technology back in April. Okay, June. July at the latest. It didn’t quite happen—those few next-gen Ion netbooks that did launch earlier this year did so without Optimus. At long last, however, Asus’ next-gen Ion netbook—with Optimus and a dual-core netbook Atom chip—has hit American shores, just one day before September.
The Eee 1215N, one of Asus’ innumerable Eee PC Seashell netbooks, is the first netbook we’ve seen with Intel’s new mobile dual-core Atom chips—it ships with the 1.8GHz Atom D525, 2GB of DDR3/800 RAM, and most importantly, Nvidia’s next-generation Ion graphics chipset and Optimus technology, which enables Ion when required and switches to Intel’s integrated UMA graphics when Ion isn’t necessary.
I recently built an HTPC with a Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H mobo and AMD Phenom X2 550 processor, with 64-bit Windows 7.
Everything runs like a top. I have the HTPC connected to my 46-inch Samsung UN46B6000 via HDMI (input 1), with only one problem: The video output displays onto the TV with black bars all around it, about an inch on each side. When viewing cable stations, watching a Blu-ray movie (via HDMI input 2), or playing Wii over the component connection, the display fills the full screen, no problem.
I’ve tried switching HDMI inputs around, using different HDMI cables, even switching from the Gigabyte motherboard’s onboard HDMI port to using a Radeon HD 4650 with HDMI out. The problem persists. No settings to adjust this are found within the ATI drivers/settings. Windows display settings are set to full 1920x1080. When connecting the HTPC to the TV via the analog connection, it does use the full screen, but the colors don’t seem as bold as with HDMI. I really would like to utilize the convenience of audio and video on one HDMI connection.
The TV itself does have “zoom” features that will stretch the picture out or make it bigger than 1080 pixels, but then it’s cutting off edges! We still use it for our Hulu viewing and day-to-day use, and everything works fine, but it’s a nuisance having those black bars around the screen.
I have been putting off building a home file server for more than two years now. I have been patiently waiting for the 2TB SATA hard drives to be surpassed by 2.5TB SATA drives, in the hopes that prices for 2TB hard drives go down to $80 per unit. Needless to say, my patience is running short. It has been more than two years now and hard drive manufacturers seem to have stalled at a 2TB capacity limit for all SATA hard drives.
What do you think is causing the stall in hard drive capacity growth? Is it this bad economy? Is it due to Windows XP’s inability to read from hard drives that exceed 2TB? I would really appreciate it if you can provide any insights on when you think this long-standing 2TB capacity limit will be broken with the introduction of 2.5TB hard drives.
Read the Doctor's advice for Ivan after the jump.
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on how to solve your technological woes.