Things you need to know to become a PC hardware expert
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to PCs that’s especially true, because only by knowing how your components’ specs actually affect performance can you get the maximum power you need for the type of computing you do—and avoid being seduced by features that sound impressive on the box but won’t do squat to improve your experience. Knowing your stuff has other benefits, too. An in-depth understanding of what makes all your parts tick enables you to better troubleshoot problems, upgrade in ways that make sense, and converse with other nerds in your own secret language. Turn the page to begin your crash course in PC spec-speak.
Note: This article was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
Last month Nvidia launched the GeForce GTX 770, and showed us the “stock” board with a GTX Titan cooler. At the time, Nvidia said its add-in board partners would be offering versions that were overclocked and custom-cooled, but we didn't know that was all that would be available. As it turns out, spotting a GTX 770 with the Titan cooler is about as rare as seeing GordonMahUng at an Apple store, so kiss your Titan-cooled GTX 770 dreams goodbye for now. The good news is that you're now forced to choose from a flurry of premium-looking cards including these two sweet overclocked and super-chilledboards from Asus and Gigabyte. Both boards feature loads of custom hardware, specialized fans, overclocking software, and totally silent operation. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for a matchup to us!
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
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!
Gordon Mah Ung goes hands on with Valve's new Steam Controller
PC Gamers, gods bless ‘em, are truly the most cynical sons of bitches on the planet. I say this because when I saw Valve’s attempt to build a controller for its upcoming Steam Machines, I, like all other PC gamers, just snickered and ran as quickly as I could to a web-based memegenerator so I could create and post something derisive and snarky under one of the five pseudonyms I use to troll the Internet with. Alas, I was already beaten as those cynical PC gamers had already beaten me to it.
It's that time of year again where we get to pretend we're sharing with you gift ideas to show that special geek in your life just how much you care, but in reality, we all look at these guides and think to ourselves, "That's flippin' cool, I'm gonna buy that for myself!" Hey, there's no shame in that. There's some seriously cool swag for geeks out there, and if you're primarily interested in shopping for yourself, so be it -- go treat yourself to whatever floats your fancy on this list and re-gift Aunt Mabel's fruitcake to whoever it was you were shopping for in the first place.
This is our catch-all category for items that don't fit tidily into any other space. You know, standard fare stuff like canned unicorn meat and The Walking Dead Monopoly. Think both of those are awesome? We do too, but wait until you see what else is included here. These are surefire winners for any geek.
Rockstar Games sure is taking its sweet little time porting Grand Theft Auto V over to the PC, but if history has taught us anything at all, it's that eventually GTA V will find its way home. In the meantime, there are plenty of other games worth gifting. If you're feeling particularly cheap, send your recipient the URL to download Dota 2 (it's free!). Otherwise, you can't go wrong with any games on this list.
Building a PC is the first (big) step towards becoming a true geek. What comes next? Rounding up essential gadgets, of course! You can think of gadgets as tools, and just as every carpenter should always have access to a razor sharp saw and sturdy hammer, a geek needs to surround himself with tools of a different kind, like capable earbuds and a reliable router.
Not everyone can afford to build their very own Dream Machine, so we also created a scaled-down version that’s half the size
A while back, we made the decision to use Corsair's towering 900D case for this year's Dream Machine, and we knew we wanted to complement it with a Build It article. When the 900D’s little bro, the Corsair 350D, arrived in our offices a few weeks later, a plan started to form. About the same time as the case arrived, we also received Nvidia's GeForce GTX 700-series cards. With those, plus a Haswell CPU already in the Lab, the plan became fully realized: We’d just make a smaller version of the Dream Machine. The 350D wouldn’t take a full-size motherboard, but we could still pack it with full-size badassery like dual Nvidia GTX 780 cards, an unlocked Intel Core i7 CPU, a primo mATX motherboard (they do exist), a jumbo radiator, and other tasty accoutrements. Our goal was to build a rig that can game to the hilt just like the Dream Machine—only scaled back so it’s easier to assemble and a lot easier on your credit line.
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine
The strengths of computer gaming are found at the extremes. It does two things very well: It enables hardcore users to get the best possible performance out of high-end games, and it allows small developers to deliver individualistic and quirky projects direct to users.