Good news for system builders and upgraders alike: Intel has cut processor prices (PDF) by as much as 31 percent. And these aren't price cuts on chips that nobody cares about either, but they include some overclocking favorites in both dual and quad-core trim:
Q6600, $224 to $193 (14% drop)
E8500, $266 to $183 (31% drop)
E8400, $183 to $164 (11% drop)
E7200, $188 to $113 (15% drop)
A handful of Xeon processors have also been marked down, but the real treat here is for overclockers. All four desktop processors have become extremely popular chips in the overclocking community due to their reputation for ramping up in clockspeed with minimal effort, and save for the E8500, each one could have been considered a bargain before the price cut. Now the price-to-performance ratio looks even better, enough so that those holding out for Nehalem may be tempted to pull the trigger now rather than wait. But on which one? Here's a refresher if you've been out of the loop for awhile:
Q6600 (2.4GHz, 8MB, 1066MHz, x9 multiplier)
E8500 (3.16GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
E8400 (3.0GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9 multiplier)
E7200 (2.53GHz, 3MB, 1066MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
Prices represent 1,000 unit trays, so expect to pay a little bit more at your favorite vendor. Still, who can complain, and at these price points the question of the day is, build now or wait?
We've given you the gear. Now take a trip into the Maximum PC Lab with an exclusive Web-only look at how we constructed this year's Dream Machine 2008--the fastest PC you can buy, hands-down. Be there for all the heart-wrenching fluid leaks! The painstaking storage decisions! The bits and pieces we had to break just to achieve our Dream Machine...dreams!
If you have yet to check out what we packed into this rig, be sure to catch up on our first, second, and third looks at the parts of this over-customized rig. But if you're ready, then pop open the Lab door by clicking that little "Read More" link and take a look at how Maximum PC master-builders brought forth this year's PC powerhouse!
Plasma displays are all but dead, and as any Maximum PC subscriber knows by now, the quality of LCD monitors can (and do) vary wildly, even among the same manufacturer (see VX2035WM and VLED221WM). Even still, LCDs dominate the PC landscape, and because prices have fallen so far in the past year, LCD televisions are also becoming increasingly commonplace. But there's a new contender on the horizon.
Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington talked up a new technology called "telescopic pixels" in this week's Nature Photonics. As the name suggests, the new tech takes advantage of an old concept and finds its roots in the optical telescope. How it works is each individual pixel consists of two opposing mirrors with one changing shape based on applied voltage, and the other reflecting light through a hole on the primary mirror and onto the display screen. Arstechnica has the full technical rundown, but what's most interesting are the several potential upsides over today's pixel technology.
Find out what potential advantages telescopic pixel technology might bring to the table after the jump.
There was a time when motherboards sporting integrated graphics were best avoided like the plague, and while that's still the case for the hardcore enthusiast, many modern micro ATX motherboards have begun closing the performance gap between their full ATX brethren. The situation looks to get even better by summer's end. According to a DigiTimes report, Nvidia plans to mass produce its latest Intel platform IGP chipset by the middle of next month with shipping product expected to hit retail shelves in early September.
Touting support for Nvidia's GeForce 9-series mGPU, the 730i MPC will be offered up with either an onboard GeForce 9400 graphics core (MCP7A-U) with a core frequency of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1500MHz, or with a GeForce 9300 (MCP7A-S) with a core and shader frequency of 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively. The GPUs don't look to rival anything close to a GTX 280, but with support for PCI Express 2.0, Shader Model 4.0, and DirectX 10, along with 16 built-in stream processors, less demanding gamers are likely to be able to get their gaming groove on with more than just Peggle.
Rounding out the feature list, both MCPs will support a 1333MHz frontside bus (think 45nm Penryn) and come in both DDR2 and DDR3 flavor. And for HTPC crowd, look for a bevy of connection options, including HDMI, dual-link DVI, DsiplayPort, and D-sub.
Relative newcomer Danamic looks to jump into the increasingly crowded CPU cooler market with a heatsink of its own, but this isn't like any other cooler you've seen before. Rather than rely on air, water, or phase-change cooling, Dynamic's new LM10 heatsink uses liquid metal, and according to the company, it's the world's first commercially available CPU cooler to do so.
That might be true, but liquid metal isn't an entirely new concept when it comes to cooling processors. Coollaboratory used to market the metalic goo as a thermal paste (Liquid Pro) and now sells a thermal pad it calls Liquid MetalPad aimed at both PC and console owners. Danamic's solution differs in that it's not a paste, but a fully-fledged heatsink solution. A multi-string electromagnetic pump sits atop the LM10 and pushes the liquid metal through a series of heatpipes without using any moving parts. Judging by the available pictures, the LM10 doesn't come with a fan, which would explain why the company can claim a power draw of less than 1W.
No word yet on pricing or availability, which means there aren't any hands-on reviews in the wild either. Have any expectations for this new cooler? Post them below.
Stamford-based IT research firm Gartner has revealed the worldwide PC industry’s sales figures for the second quarter. Overall, the global PC industry registered a growth of 16% as a total of 71.9 million units were shipped during the quarter. More and more people are turning to notebooks, as opposed to desktops, as notebook prices continue to plummet. However, the US PC industry couldn’t keep up with the highly promising growth rate seen globally and managed a much subdued rate of 4.2% - total shipments stood at 16.5 million units.
If its Q2 performance is anything to go by, HP is not moving an inch from its position as the top PC maker in the world. HP’s sales grew at a faster rate than even the global average. But Dell is not too keen on staying at No.2 either. It raised its market share to 15.6% and even outshone HP’s year-over-year growth rate. These days one can’t resist mentioning netbooks but they really didn’t leave much of a mark in the US; still early days, though.
Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (8.04) operating system has been flapping its wings in full-release form since late April, and now the latest Linux distro lands on pre-configured Dell systems. This isn't the first time Dell has offered Linux as an OS option, but up until now, OEM shoppers looking for a Windows-alternative were stuck using Feisty Fawn (7.04), bugs and all.
So why the nearly three month-long delay? Dell claims it spent that time in development to ensure a smooth rollout with the new OS, as well as testing for peripheral support, including ATI graphics, fingerprint readers, HDMI, and other odds and ends. Linux support has increased leaps and bounds from the pre-Vista days, but the emergence into the mainstream segment has been a relatively recent development, so it comes as little surprise that pre-configured systems using the latest distro release wouldn't be as quick to market as a Windows PC.
Dell currently offers Ubuntu on its Inspiron 530N desktop, Inspiron 1525N laptop, and XPS M1330 laptop machines, and is expected to add its XPS M1530N and new Studio 15N laptops to the lineup by early August.
Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are taking aim at the mainstream market, boasting both faster speeds and suddenly affordable pricing than even just a few short months ago. But even as the price-to-performance ratio becomes much more attractive, reliability remains a concern. Flash memory doesn't contain any moving parts, but the memory is only capable of so many write and erase cycles before it turns into read only memory. That might soon change.
Samsung and Sun Microsystems are co-developing a single-level-cell NAND flash memory device the companies claim will offer "much higher endurance levels than any other flash memory device on the market today." The new memory is said to offer five times the data write-and-erase cycles of existing solutions. Even more impressive, Samsung claims its server-grade SLC memory will provide a 100-fold increase in the number of data transfers over traditional hard drives.
While Samsung and Sun are excited over where flash memory is headed, not everyone shares their same enthusiasm. A Fujitsu executive recently downplayed SSDs saying the technology is still over two years away from being a viable option, and an IDC report indicates that initial comparisons between SSDs and HDDs may have been misleading.
Are we getting close to finally replacing hard drives as the main storage device in today's PCs, or is the recent hype much ado about nothing?
The average user would never dream of paying four figures for a processor, and even today's $1,500 budget boxes can end up being very capable rigs with the right parts selection. Even still, there exists a market for high-end silicon, and Intel's Extreme series always command a premium. But this time around, Intel might be looking to give enthusiasts a break.
Rumor has it that Intel will serve up its delicious 3.2GHz Extreme series Bloomfield processor at just $999 in thousand-unit tray quantities. While that might not appear to be a bargain at first glance, it's a full $500 cheaper compared to the current cream of the crop, the Core 2 Extreme QX9700. If the rumor holds true, the new pricing will mark a return to the way Intel used to price its flagship Extreme model.
Intel is also expected to introduce a performance chip clocked at 2.93GHz at a much easier to swallow $562 price point, and a mainstream model at 2.66GHz for $284.
For those that haven't been following, Intel's much anticipated Bloomfield (Nehalem) processors will introduce a new socket with 1366 pins and finally bring an integrated memory controller to the table.
Solid state drives (SSDs) are usually considered to be more power efficient, faster, and in some respects more reliable than hard disk drives and they command a hefty premium over other drives. Dell's offering of a 128GB solid-state drive as an option on its Latitude, XPS, Alienware, and Precision laptop models for $649 is a steep drop price drop since many SSDs with half of that capacity still sell for more than $700. Is it really worth it? The IDC released a report that claims the performance gap between SSDs and lower-cost high-performance hard disk drives is not that significant at the system level.
TargetTech.com quotes David Reinsel, one of the authors of the report, "Many tests have been done comparing 4,200 rpm hard drives to SSDs, but 5,400 rpm is now mainstream and even 7,200 rpm disks are available." He adds that the gap between performance in systems with 7,200 rpm 2.5-inch drives and systems with SSDs was much smaller than expected, mainly because of the performance of the system as a whole rather than just the storage device. Reinsel goes on to say, "There will be what's called a 'period of interdependency' with this technology. It isn't just plug and play." He suggests that system redesigns will be necessary in PCs and enterprise systems to gain the full benefit from flash.
If you are the ultra curious type and have ten grand to blow you can grab the report here. My credit card just laughed at me for trying.
Even though SSDs have dropped in price, they still are not a good performance item for the price point. A Fujitsu 120GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb OEM notebook drive is going for $99, versus a $640 SSD with the same capacity. The price savings can buy you a lot of other goodies. We will have to wait for systems to be updated to take advantage of SSD drives and of course in the mean time, the price will continue to go down. When will it be the right price point versus performance for you to make the switch?