Most people would never build their own small form factor PC, fill it with high-end hardware, liquid-cool it, then overclock it. Luckily, we’re not most people
The Mission The interest in small form factor (SFF) computing seems to have reached a fever pitch over the past few months, but boutique system builders tell us they’ve been selling an S-load of them for some time now. The reason for their popularity is not hard to understand—they pack all the firepower of a full-sized ATX machine but take up half the space due to clever engineering. It takes equally clever building to fit a full-sized video card, an internal power supply, storage devices, and even liquid cooling into such a tiny box. That's no small feat, and to be honest, it sounded like just the kind of challenge that we wanted to take on for Build It. The problem is, the micro-tower form factor hasn't been around very long, so it still has some kinks to work out. We've worked with several of these systems over the past few months, and the degree of usability varies quite a bit. However, Silverstone recently announced the Raven RVZ01, a case that seems to have the ease-of-use that we like; plus, the company has demo'd the chassis using a liquid-cooling system, which we found downright nifty. All we had to do was get our hands on one and go to work.
Note: This article was originally featured in the April 2014 issue of the magazine.
This month's Rig of the Month is a bit of an oddball. It's no DotaBox or Weighted Companion Cube, but we still think it's pretty awesome. Anthony Febre was inspired when someone asked if he was running a toaster. It's not the most original insult, but it makes for an amazingly original case mod.
Showcasing the sexiest, most photogenic game screenshots this side of the Internet
We're short on submissions for this month's Graphics Porn so we've reached out to some more of the folks from r/GameScreens to supplement the gallery. We've got some amazong screens from Remember Me, Skyrim, Metro Last Light, Euro Truck Simulator, and more!
We compare the Metro game series to its visually updated counterparts
If you are a fan of single-player FPS games, then you should check out the Metro series. Metro 2033, based on the novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, was developed by 4A Games and released in 2010 while its sequel, Metro: Last Light, came out last year. Both survival-horror games are set in post-apocalyptic Moscow where survivors of the nuclear fallout live within the underground metro system.
Travel back in time to the decade that kick-started the home personal computer boom: the 1980s.
Hands up if you owned a computer in the 80s! After making some tentative steps in the late 70s, the 1980s saw home computing really take off. Back then, no young adult’s bedroom was complete without a computer, tape deck, and trusty joystick on display.
If we're being totally, completely, 100 percent honest, we settled for Windows 8. That's not easy to admit, especially after applying some well needed Updates (previously known as Service Packs) that zapped some of our original complaints. Don't get us wrong, it never was, nor is it still a terrible operating system -- the comparisons to Windows ME or even Windows Vista's early days are off base -- but certainly Microsoft didn't have our best interests in mind. By "our interests," we're talking about power users, enthusiasts, and generally anyone tech savvy enough to know the difference between RAM and a hard drive. Hell, Windows 8 designer Jacob Miller admitted as much several months ago (Microsoft's good at coming clean after the fact).
Truth be told, Microsoft catered to the lowest common denominator -- the ones who call you up every 3-4 weeks because their PC is riddled with pop-up ads again -- and attempted to hold their hands as Redmond walked them through its vision of what would one day become a beautiful walled garden where new and experienced users frolicked happily among the colorful tiles singing songs of praise. Our apologies if you just threw up in your mouth a little bit.
Here's the thing -- we've grown accustomed to Windows 8, and having spent copious time with it, we no longer feel the rage we once did every time the Start screen would load. That's partially because we're now able to boot directly into the Desktop, but the bigger reason is the one we stated above. We settled, plain and simple.
With that said, Windows 9 is on the horizon, and this is Microsoft's chance to atone for Windows 8 and earn back some street cred with power users. It's a do-over, and no, it's not too late. If Windows 9 comes out and blows our minds with levels of awesome we've never seen before, all will be forgiven (just as we've done before). But in order for that to happen, Microsoft has to get it right.
That's no easy task, so to help our friends at Microsoft, we came up with a list of 9 things we want to see in Windows 9. Are you reading this, Redmond? Good, because these 9 wishlist items conveniently assembled into a photo gallery collectively represent your golden ticket back into our good graces. Hit the jump to see what they are.
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: Budget Gamer, Mid-Grade, and Turbo. Budget Gamer gets you respectable performance without bruising your wallet, Mid-Grade gets you something beefier and more adaptable, and Turbo is an investment-grade powerhouse.
If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that your PC is a fine-tuned piece of 64-bit technology, customized to the hilt and purring like a kitten with a belly full of formula. Yup, she’s a beaut, and attacks your daily tasks like a Belgian Police Dog going after a fleeing perp. All is well in the world, until one day when you sit down, fire it up, and realize something is different. That extra bit of snap when programs open is missing, and encoding video seems to take longer than it used to. Even downloading files seems to require more patience than you’re accustomed to exhibiting. It’s at this very moment that you silently say to yourself, “What the FRACK???”
Note: This article was originally featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.
Column: Now I know why they call it the Apocalypse Edition
PC games are buggy, and console games just work right out of the box – that’s at least the stigma that console gamers place on the PC. The truth is that PC gaming is miles ahead of the consoles, but I do have to admit that that there are grains of truth to the stigma.
UPDATE: We've added six more keyboards to our best keyboard roundup
If you’re a gamer, you can probably identify a few points in time when you realized something important about your control setup that made you better at the game. When you discovered that putting your left hand on WASD gives you more options than putting it on the arrow keys, for instance, or when you realized that your crappy optical mouse was actually holding you back in shooters. These kinds of peripheral epiphanies don’t happen every day, but it might be just about time for you to have a new one. It might be time for you to realize that your keyboard is holding you back.
Note: This article originally appeared in our March 2013 issue of the magazine.