The Cooler Master Storm Sniper, with its matte-black, mesh-covered shell and blue-glowing fans, looks like a prop from a sci-fi movie, the kind where cyber-soldiers rush into a building and start furiously hacking its defenses. And that’s awesome. It’s large for a midtower case, and looks even larger than it is, thanks to bowed-out side panels and feet that raise the bottom of the case an inch above the ground.
The Storm line is all about sturdiness, style, and portability—Cooler Master is apparently targeting LAN gamers—which it delivers. At 22.7 inches tall, 22.3 inches deep, 10 inches wide, and weighing in at more than 23 pounds, the Sniper is big-boned, but with sturdy handles on top, surprisingly luggable.
The Mesh bezels run from the bottom of the front panel all the way to the top, and the top panel has black mesh between its sturdy steel handles. The side panels are steel and bulge outward. The left side-panel has a large window covered by black mesh, to allow for air flow, and contains mounts for one 20cm or two 12cm fans.
The question isn't 'why would Best Buy and Verizon look to get into the e-book business,' but 'why wouldn't they?' After all, everyone else is diving in, and while it's true that you shouldn't follow your friends (or competition) off a bridge, the e-book business could hardly be considered suicidal.
For Verizon's part, The New York Times reports it plans to sell digital books and newspapers wirelessly over its 3G network for owners of iRex Technologies' upcoming $399 touchscreen e-reader. Customers will be able to purchase the iRex DR800SG at a few hundred Best Buy stores, while the electronics chain also plans to carry Sony's more affordable Reader.
With Best Buy, Verizon, and several others jumping on the e-book bandwagon, digital readers are poised to become the next biggest thing since the netbook, which took the market by storm in similar fashion.
"The e-reader has high awareness, but most people have still not seen or touched or played with them," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president for entertainment at Best Buy. "We feel at that this is a technology that is beginning to emerge and that we can bring a unique experience to the marketplace."
Casting somewhat of a wet blanket over the e-book bonanza, a recent report from Forrester Research suggests that digital readers need to approach the $100 mark before most consumers will dive in.
Alienware updated its Area-51 case for the new ALX line of desktop systems. The new ALX line itself features beefy specs for a micro-ATX system, but the craziness doesn’t end at a blazing fast GPU or speedy i7 processor. This machine features…fins. Not just any fins, motorized fins.
The new cooling technology in use in the ALX works in tandem with the Command Center to open and close the vents according to “thermal values.” Unfortunately, those are the only details listed on the site regarding Active Venting. As a part of the Command Center software, you can change the lighting styles on various parts of the case as well as tweak thermal controls.
There's always some jackass at every party who still thinks it's funny to push people into the pool while fully clothed. What if they were carrying around a portable hard drive filled with family photos, work documents, government secrets, and other data that's now drenched in water and chlorine?
Yeah, that's probably never happened to anyone in the history of portable hard drives, but there's always a first. If you're lugging around A-Data's new SH93 mobile drive, you won't have to lose any sleep at night wondering what you'd do in exactly that situation. Heck, you wouldn't even need to get out of the pool right away, because according to A-Data, it's SH93 portable HDD, wrapped in a rubber-plastic mix and special cushion materials, has passed the 1M waterproof test for 30 minutes. Go ahead and practice your backstroke!
You could even drop it out of a second story window for a quck air-dry. After all, the rugged drive also passed the military standard MIL-STD-810F drop test.
Available in 250GB, 320GB, 500GB, and 640GB capacities, you'll probably never subject your portable HDD to the above abuses, but hey, it's good to know you can fumble your beer while watching the Super Bowl and not worry about frying your portable backup.
Corsair is best known for its memory and power supplies, but recently the company has taken to rebadging excellent OEM products for retail. First came a rebadged edition of Samsung’s blazing-fast 256GB MLC solid state drive. Now Corsair is continuing the trend by scooping up Asetek’s all-in-one liquid CPU cooler and rebranding it as the Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H50. It’s not just a straight-up rebadge. According to Corsair, it worked with Asetek to modify the latter’s OEM-only version, adopting a universal design and reportedly improving performance. We can’t verify how Corsair’s H50 compares to the OEM version, as the OEM version isn’t available for consumer purchase.
We were more interested to see how the H50 did against CoolIt’s similarly priced Domino (reviewed June 2009). Like the Domino, the Corsair H50 consists of a CPU heat exchanger/pump unit that fits atop the CPU and is connected to a radiator, which mounts in place of your case’s rear 12cm fan. The H50 includes its own 12cm fan, which sits between the radiator and the case wall and pulls air through the radiator fins. The pump uses a three-pin power lead, which needs to plug into the CPU fan power port on the motherboard, and the 12cm fan, confusingly, has a four-pin connector, which plugs into any other fan control port. We originally tried running the pump off a direct-power Molex and the fan off the CPU PWM port, but saw miserable performance. Only after reversing the two did we achieve the expected performance.
We're all about PC gaming first and foremost, but we also can't ignore the console wars, which have been heating up in a big way lately. Hot on the heels of a $100 price cut to the Xbox 360 Elite, Microsoft is now offering an additional $50 mail-in-rebate. That brings the price down to $250 for a console that was selling for $400 not that long ago.
Purchases must be made between September 22 and October 5, 2009 to qualify. Then just head over to the Xbox 360 Elite Console rebate site, enter 49710555 as your password, and fill out the online form. As with any mail-in-rebates, be sure to pay close attention to the instructions, and get your paperwork and UPC mailed in and postmarked no later than November 20, 2009.
If you're lucky, you can score an even better deal by buying through Dell and using the 15 percent off coupon code (6FWJ247J1P44CK). Tax still applies, but shipping is free, and after all is said in done, you'll have scored an Xbox 360 Elite for about $220. Stock comes and goes, so only the most patient penny pinchers need apply.
AMD’s graphics division, the former ATI Technologies, loves a good surprise. The company has been a perennial also-ran in the graphics performance arena, but every now and then, it one-ups the competition in a big way. That happened back in 2002, with the launch of the original Radeon 9700, which stole the performance lead from archrival Nvidia. It happened again last year, with the Radeon HD 4800 series. The 4850, 4870, and 4890 weren’t always faster than the competition, but they were small, efficient chips that forced Nvidia into a price war that was good for users but bad for Nvidia’s bottom line.
Now AMD’s doing it again, putting some serious hurt on the competition with the first GPU to support Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 11 API. AMD’s also been paying close attention to the emerging market for non-gaming apps accelerated by GPUs, such as video transcoding and digital photography, fully supporting DirectCompute 11 and OpenCL standards for general purpose computing on graphics cards.
This new chip is no shrinking violet in the numbers department. Every number associated with the new Radeon 5800 series is staggering: 2.15 billion transistors, 2.7 trillion floating-point operations a second, more than 20 gigapixels per second throughput, 1,600 shader units. Other numbers impress because of their smallness. One example: The idle power is a scant 27W— lower than many entry level GPUs.
Given the sheer scale and ambition of this GPU, does it deliver in the performance realm? And will it deliver at a price normal humans can afford? Let’s find out.
According to Samsung president Oh-Hyn Kwon, the memory maker has decided to ramp up production of DDR3 chips and put an end to the DDR3 shortage.
A DDR3 shortage is news to us, but Kwon said that the supply of DDR3 chips has tightened in recent times, which he blames on a faster-than-expected pickup in demand. To alleviate the potential problem, Samsung will allocate more capacity to DDR3 output, with most of the focus moving towards 40nm.
How this all will affect pricing remains anyone's guess. According to Kwon, industry players won't even known what kind of pricing trend to expect until after late November, but he did add that DRAM pricing has returned to "reasonable" levels.
For some time now Apple has stolen all the thunder when it comes to the idea of a tablet – but it appears that we’ve been looking in the wrong place. In a very real announcement, Microsoft has revealed their Courier tablet concept, and it looks absolutely divine.
The Courier (which can be seen in conceptual video form here), is reportedly in the late stages of development and despite its appearance, is a tablet, not a booklet. The 7-inch screens will support multitouch, writing, flicking, and drawing with a stylus or your fingers. A hinge that houses an iPhone-style home button, which you can use to bookmark pages, connects them both. The back cover will sport a three megpixel camera, and the lights that display status (wireless signal, battery life, etc.) will line up on the bottom.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but there’ll be plenty of news to come in the next few days.
Techies are too often tempted by the lure of new technology, leaving perfectly good hardware drifting in the wake of compulsive upgrading. And while we love getting new gadgets as much as the next geek, we also like how a new purchase gives us the opportunity to take apart and tinker with our older gear in the Lab. Whether it’s by soldering circuit boards or loading open-source firmware, we pride ourselves on being able to stretch the lifespan of older electronics by performing undocumented (and sometimes warranty-breaking) hardware hacks.
The projects we’ve included here range from relatively safe software tweaks to more challenging technical exercises. You’ll learn how to bend USB connections to your will and imbue home routers and digital cameras with robust new features. We’ve also taken some inspiration from projects we’ve seen online, including building a blue laser gun and making a digital picture frame you can mount on the wall of your office. These hacks will help you showcase your craftiness and give you a better understanding of how your electronics work. And the best part is that your old hardware will be faster, cooler, and more awesome afterward.