The general consensus is that Logitech's latest gaming keyboard, the G19, is better in nearly every way than the G15 it's poised to replace. And if you want to get your hands on one, you finally can, but you'll have to order it from Dell. According to tech news site Engadget, Dell somehow managed to snag a 30-day sales exclusive on the keyboard.
We've already posted a hands-on impression of the G19 way back in January of this year, which you can read here. The most notable improvement of the G19 is the inclusion of a bright 320x240 tilting LCD screen. Users can view the time, resource load, VoIP communication data, and even watch YouTube videos on the nifty display, in addition to a host of other uses.
More macro keys are found on the G19, along with the ability to adjust the color of the backlight. All in all, it's a worthy successor to one of the most popular gaming keyboards on the market.
The G19 is available now through Dell for $180 (plus tax and shipping).
Much was made over the race to 1GHz on the CPU front, a race AMD won with its Athlon processor. Markedly less exciting (but still an impressive feat) has been the sprint to churn out the first factory-clocked 1GHz GPU, with AMD again claiming victory, this time over Nvidia instead of Intel.
"Throughout the 40-year history of AMD, we have continually focused on technology firsts that deliver superior value to the customer," said Rick Bergman, senior VP, Products Group, AMD. "The 1GHz ATI Radeon HD 4890 continues that tradition by increasing the performance and compute power of our flagship singleGPU solution, ensuring a great experience whether our customers are playing the latest DirectX 10.1 game or running GPU accelerated applications built with OpenCL."
At 1GHz, the HD 4890 is able to deliver 1.6 TeraFLOPs of computing power, or "50 percent more than that of the competition's best single-GPU solution." In terms of real-world performance, however, the HD 4890 trails slightly behind Nvidia's GTX 285 in most benchmarks, or at least it does at 900MHz (see review of Asus Radeon EAH4890 Top in the June 2009 issue of Maximum PC on page 74).
FPS jockeying aside, it's good to see AMD aggressively going after the top spot in the graphics market rather than concede the high-end sector to Nvidia like it had done with its last generation of GPUs.
The sharp and steady decline in PC chip shipments in recent times can be likened to a tailspin. Market research firm IDC has published its appraisal of PC chip shipments in the first quarter of 2009. PC chip shipments are still in a nosedive per IDC, though the pace of their descent has decreased considerably.
Intel shipped 33 percent less Atom processors during the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. The decline in Atom shipments isn’t entirely surprising as suppliers have amassed a huge stockpile of Atom processors.
The first quarter bought some relief for AMD as its market share improved by 4.6% to reach 22.3 percent. AMD improved its standing in both the PC and mobile markets at the expense of Intel, which had its market share trimmed down to 77.3 percent from 82 percent in the previous quarter.
Sorry, we couldn’t resist the headline. For the record: We’re not predicting the early demise of AMD’s new Live Home Cinema reference platform (code-named Maui). AMD sent us a sample build several months ago, but we wanted to live with it for a while before publishing our thoughts on the design.
We’re big fans of home-theater PCs, especially the build-it-yourself variety (be sure and check out the May issue of Maximum PC for Will Smith’s terrific how-to guide to building one of your own). If AMD can resolve one major issue, we think Maui will be the best home-theater PC platform on the market.
With a home-theater PC, you can stream all manner of Hollywood content for free (from websites such as Hulu) or for a small fee (from online stores such as iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon’s Unbox). While you can accomplish the same thing with a media center extender and any PC equipped with a version of Windows that includes Windows Media Center, a dedicated HTPC leaves that other machine available for other tasks. A home-theater PC with a Blu-ray drive can play HD movies, too, but comparing home-theater PCs to Blu-ray disc players—which are becoming increasingly PC-like—is more problematic. We’ll get to that soon enough; for now, let’s take a detailed look at AMD’s Live Home Cinema platform.
Oh snap, it's on like Donkey Kong, or at least like an intense level of Galaga. More specifically, Microsoft continues its advertising offensive against Apple with yet another commercial pointing out the cost of being hip, only this one targets iTunes and not MacBooks.
In the latest ad, financial planner (certified, of course) Wes Moss points out it would take $30,000 to fill the latest iPod using iTunes at a buck a pop.
"I don't know about you, but I don't have thirty grand laying around for music," Moss says.
His solution? A subscription service like Zune Pass, of course! "One costs a lot, and one costs a little," Moss adds, referring to the iPod with $30,000 worth of music and Zune Pass's unlimited subscription plan for $14.99/month. For those of you doing the math at home, $30,000 buys almost 167 years of Zune Pass.
There are obvious flaws in Microsoft's latest pitch, but the goal here isn't necessarily to discredit Apple's iPod/iTunes combination as a viable music platform (too late for that) as much as it is to promote Zune Pass. The question is, will it work?
Ah, spring: when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of upgrading. But, alas! Your fancy new videocard is too big for your tiny case, and you’re running out of hard drive bays for your RAID. Fear not! A classy full-tower chassis can be just the solution.
In this roundup we’ve collected five full-tower cases—big and tall enclosures with all the bells and whistles: new looks, toolless expansion slots, intake filters, drive bays aplenty, and more. Space-saving isn’t a priority here: The focus is on features, with room for as much hardware as you need to cram in. If you want a portable rig or something to nestle under your desk, these aren’t the cases for you. But if you’re looking to make the most of your computer, portability be damned, one of these beauts could be your huckleberry.
In evaluating these cases, we focused on a few key points: overall build quality, aesthetics, ease of installation, cooling options, convenience, and features like front-panel connectors. We kept price in mind, too, but only to a degree: After all, we’re Maximum PC. We don’t mind paying for excellence; we just object when gear is offensively overpriced.
The Thermaltake Spedo is big and bold, with gray plastic trim and black honeycomb mesh running up the front of the case and the top plate. It sounds awkward, but it mostly works, just like the mishmash of features inside.
The 21.1x24x9.1-inch Spedo starts strong with seven external 5.25-inch slots and two removable hard drive bays with three slots each, all completely screwless. Add in two low-rpm 23cm fans (one on top and one on the side), and six smaller, faster fans, including a red LED fan in front of one of the hard drive bays, and airflow is great.
The Spedo ships with an array of flimsy plastic panels billed as the “Advanced Thermal Chamber 3,” which separate the PSU area from the PCI cards from the CPU cooler. In our experience, removing and installing the panels is more trouble than it’s worth; after our initial install we just left them outside the case.
Installing a system in the NZXT Zero II is like taking a trip back to the first half of this decade. Although the front panel cover is nice—all smooth, curved lines and blue lighting, with a handy magnetic clasp—the interior of this 21x21.1x8.2-inch case seems downright primitive and unfinished compared to the other cases in this roundup. The five 5.25-inch drive bays as well as the two external and six internal 3.5-inch HDD bays are toolless, albeit utilizing old-fashioned clip-in rails rather than an in-case mechanism or fancier bracket.
The case comes with three fans and slots for six more—four on the door, one on the bottom, and one on the top—but the net effect is that it looks incomplete. The Zero II is built of flimsier metal than the rest of the cases covered here, although the Zero is roughly a third of the price of Cooler Master’s offering, and less than a sixth the price of the ABS Canyon.
While most Silverstone cases tend toward polished metal and (if you’re lucky) a side window, the Raven’s hard plastic exterior takes its stylistic cues from a stealth bomber. Appropriately, everything on this 24.3x26x11-inch beaut is hidden behind panels: the front connectors (two USB, audio, FireWire) behind a flip-up, and the five 5.25-inch drives behind a garage door–like sliding panel.
The most striking thing about the Raven, besides its appearance, is that its motherboard mount is rotated 90 degrees clockwise—the I/O ports and PCI expansion slots, normally situated on the back of a case, are on the top and covered by a shroud that allows cables to be routed neatly to the back. This improves airflow (allowing air drawn in by two 18cm fans to rise from the bottom of the case to the top) and takes the stress of weighty PCI-E cards (like, say, dual-GPU offerings from Nvidia and ATI) off of the motherboard.
At 26x17x9 inches, the ABS Canyon 695 is a tall and svelte aluminum “supertower,” and its design is certainly striking. Remove the smooth front-panel cover and you’ll find the entire front of the case taken up by three 14cm intake fans, with a sliding lint-trap-like dust filter in front of them. This means the optical drive bays are rotated 90 degrees to accommodate the fans; they actually open into holes in the case’s side panels, giving the exterior an unusual look.
Inside, the case is separated into three “thermal zones”—the PSU, two 5.25-inch bays, and one external 3.5-inch bay reside at the top; the middle section holds the motherboard, PCI cards, etc.; the bottom can accommodate six SATA drives and even includes a hot-swappable backplate. Airflow is great, thanks to a generous array of fans—six in all.