What time is it? It's time to build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful that is suitable for gaming and content creation at 1080p, Performance beefs everything up across the board, and Ultra is the kind of rig you build when price is no object.
These rigs are lab-tested and editor-approved. Feedback is, of course, welcome. Tell us what you think!
A self contained liquid cooler with modular properties
The market is flush with all-in-one cooling solutions, most of which look similar to each other, though they offer different levels of performance. Cooler Master's new Glacer 240L is yet another self contained liquid cooler for CPUs, but it's not just the performance potential that separates this model from the pack. Billed as being a "semi-DIY CPU liquid cooler," the Glacer 240L is both modular and expandable, allowing for upgrades down the line.
It seems every PC maker is suddenly on a quest to build smaller sized gaming rigs, presumably because they envision these boxes taking residence in your living room where they'll host Steam games on your big screen TV. One of the newer candidates is CyberPowerPC's Hadron Air, a mini iTX based gaming system that measures all of 6.6 inches (W) by 12 inches (H) by 12.1 inches (D).
Laptops are getting thinner with each new generation, and if that trend is to continue, component manufacturers have to step to the plate with slimmer parts. Toshiba seems up to the challenge. The company just unveiled its first two platter 7mm HDD series for notebooks. Toshiba's new MQ02ABF line comes in 750GB and 1TB capacities, both with a 5400 RPM spindle speed in a 2.5-inch form factor.
Microsoft's original Surface and Surface RT are officially a memory at this point, having now been moved aside to make room for the Surface 2 (Windows RT 8.1) and Surface 2 Pro (Windows 8.1), both of which are now available to purchase at Microsoft retail stores and authorized commercial resellers in 21 markets, including the United States. For people living in China, the new Surface products will launch next month.
Space heater and gaming PC face off against the cold
Computers can put out some serious heat, especially gaming systems. If you think yours doesn't, try stressing your components for a length of time (Folding@Home will do the trick) and you'll feel hot air being expelled through your PC's exhaust ports. It begs the question, do you really need a space heater in the winter time, or can your PC effectively (and cost efficiently) heat up a room?
Nokia's already gone all-in with the Windows Phone platform for its mobile handsets, but up until now, the company didn't have a Windows tablet in its portfolio. That changes today with the introduction of the Nokia Lumia 2520, a 10.1-inch slate running Windows RT 8.1 and powered by a 2.2GHZ quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
After a busy week announcing new graphics cards like the GeForce GTX 780 Ti and services such as G-Sync and Gamestream, Nvidia today rolled out a new batch of GeForce R331 Series drivers. The GeForce 331.58 drivers are WHQL certified and are recommended for top notch gaming performance in Batman: Arkham Origins and Battlefield 4. The drivers also enable streaming from GeForce systems to the company's Shield handheld gaming device, a feature that's in beta.
Every PC builder faces the same question when picking out new parts: Should I buy Product X or wait for Product Y? That's because there's always a faster graphics card around the corner, a more capacious solid state drive on the horizon, or a new CPU architecture on the verge of being announced. No matter how long you play the waiting game, it's impossible to stay ahead of the curve for any real length of time. The same is true for consumer electronics, though would you have guessed that three months is the average lifecycle of a mobile device?
Lower cost tablets seem to be eating away at traditional PC sales. According to market research firm Gartner, combined desktop and notebook PC shipments are on pace to reach 303 million units in 2013, representing an 11.2 percent decline from 2012. If you throw ultramobiles into the mix, the outlook is a little better, though still in a downward swing to the tune of an 8.4 percent decline in shipments.