Selecting the perfect computer case is like scouting the grocery store for a bottle of wine. And as oenophiles of all knowledge levels and palates know, you can’t judge a bottle by its price. In that sense, we’re scooping from the bargain bin in this month’s mega-roundup of computer cases: Only chassis priced at $100 or less are eligible.
Just because a case is cheap doesn’t mean it’s poor. So before you plunk down a pile of cash on your next case, see how these sub-$100 boxes stack up against their pricier brethren.
Are you ready? Every year, Maximum PC builds the de-facto, pants-shattering, best-system-ever. We crown this stunning achievement of manufacturing gusto the Dream Machine. This is its eleventh incarnation, and perhaps its most controversial: the equipment, the enclosure, the build--not a single part of this year's rig was without debate.
In this epic three-part series, we're going to give you a first-look at exactly what's going in this holiest of rigs. And we're also going to walk you through its actual construction--coolant leaks and all--in one of the most demanding chassis we've ever slapped a machine into.
Start your grand journey into the heart of Maximum PC lab by clicking that tiny "Read More" link, and enjoy.
Let us lay out a hypothetical situation for you: You’ve been driving that lumbering old Crown Vic since Ken Starr was culturally relevant. It’s clunky, not particularly fast, and prone to breakdowns, and it lacks any sort of sex appeal. But you’re used to it, and it’s not like you’re made of money, right? Suddenly your benevolent (and extremely wealthy) uncle calls you up and offers you a Tesla roadster. It’s fast, sleek, and technologically advanced, runs without gasoline, and is sexy as all get-out. And he’s giving it to you for free. Do you take it?
Hell yeah, you take it. And if Uncle Mozilla offers you a fast, light, open-source, wildly configurable, sexy web browser, you take that too. Internet Explorer’s a clunker, and if you’ve somehow managed to go the past four years without switching to the roadster that is Firefox, it’s high time to take a test drive. If you’re already a Firefox user, well, here comes your supercharger.
Do yourself a favor: make sure your car is up to code by this July—no broken headlamps or taillights, up-to-date registration, etc. – and, oh yeah, make sure you pick up a hands-free Bluetooth device for your cell phone. On July 1st a new law will go into effect in California making it illegal to talk on a wireless phone while operating a motor vehicle. If you are 18 or older, and you want to use your phone while driving, you will need to use a hands-free device – no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” about it—and there will be no grace period either.
We put a dozen of the newest Bluetooth devices through the wringer to help you find the right one for your car-talking habits. All of the devices were tested with one phone along the same stretch of highway at the same time of day, and call clarity was compared via voicemail recordings.
It pays to be an Intel fan these days. You have not only the supremely powerful Penryn CPU in your corner, but also a host of performance-oriented, feature-packed motherboards to choose from. Contributing to the bounty are two recently released enthusiast core-logic chipsets—Intel’s own X48 and Nvidia’s nForce 790i Ultra SLI—which represent the pinnacle of LGA775 computing. But which should you choose? Even two chipsets that offer similar features can differ markedly in performance. And the variations even persist within different mobos using the same chipset. That’s why we’ve called in four of the hottest Intel-based motherboards currently available, two representing X48 and two representing 790i. We’ll put these boards through their paces to determine a winner in each camp—and ultimately, the superior chipset.
The complete feature, including links to reviews, benchmarks, and more after the jump!
On the eve of the GeForce GTX 280 launch just last week, ATI unveiled a bombshell—a brand-new GPU architecture that utilized better process technology and a more power efficient design to outperform Nvidia's gargantuan new GPU. ATI eschewed the huge, hot monolithic GPU for a more compact, but modular core. With twin goals of decreased power consumption and more efficiency per die area, ATI looks poised to dethrone Nvidia, and all without building a videocard that sports an aural footprint roughly equivalent to a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
With the new RV770 GPU comes two products, the $200 Radeon 4850 and the $300 Radeon 4870. While their prices vary wildly, the videocards all use the same GPU. Click the jump to find out exactly what makes it tick.
From the Air to the Pro, Apple’s MacBooks are winning the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere—including PC enthusiasts. Maximum PC investigates whether the hoopla is warranted.
What do you really get for the money when you throw down for a MacBook, and how do these Apple computers compare to their PC counterparts in terms of performance, features, overall usability, and price? Maximum PC tests and reviews the MacBook Air, the standard MacBook, and the MacBook Pro against five PC models sporting similar price points and formfactors. It’s time we set the record straight.
Watching the ongoing race between AMD and Nvidia to build the ultimate graphics processor reminds us of the tale of the tortoise and the hare. AMD has played the hare, aggressively bounding ahead of Nvidia in terms of process size, number of stream processors, frame buffer size, memory interface, die size, and even memory type. Yet Nvidia always manages to snag the performance crown. The GeForce 200 series is but the latest example. We lay hands on the smokin’-fast GeForce GTX 280. Could this be the graphics processor to finally tame Crysis? We reveal what makes the card unique and how its architectural advances translate in the benchmarks!
Fragmentation forces the drive head to jump all over the place to find the bits and pieces of files whenever you access them. Defragmentation, then, is the means by which these files are realigned into contiguous chunks. Windows Vista does this automatically, only the slow speed at which it defrags makes us wonder: Is the time spent worth the supposed performance payoff? And do third-party defragmenters, free or otherwise, do a better job? Should you spend money on third-party defrag tools? Our extensive experiments put commercial utilities (and Vista's built-in solution) to the test!
As much as we would love for our computers to work perfectly, the fact is that PCs and gadgets are complex devices that often fall short of exactly what we want. When confronted with this fact, we’re reminded of the old saw that says if you want something done right, it’s best to do it yourself. And who are we to doubt that kind of wisdom? As power users, we’re not content with hardware the way it comes out of the box; we have an insatiable need to hack our electronics in ways that will improve performance, functionality, and ease of use. And there’s no doubt about it, modifying your hardware will increase your productivity and make your life that much simpler.