cool en Rig of the Month Roundup <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u154082/rig_of_the_month_toaster.jpg" alt="Weighted Companion Cube" title="Weighted Companion Cube" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">We're looking for the coolest custom computer cases and we want your submissions!</span></h3> <p>We know you guys have got some interesting case mods out there and we want to see them! We're also sure lots of other readers would like to gawk and drool over them as well so let us help you share your cool <strong>custom computer case</strong> with the world!</p> <p>If you’re a case modder with something that deserves the Rig of the Month title, let us know by dropping us an email at&nbsp;<a title="maximum pc rig of the month email" href="" target="_blank"></a>. Make sure to include your name, a 300-word description of why your PC is amazing along with specs (and how it was modified), and no fewer than three high-resolution JPEGs of the build. Please try and use a high-quality camera with good lighting and make sure to bust out your photography skills! We will not accept any blurry, low-res camera-phone grade images because we'd like readers to see your awesome rig in the best light possible! Here are some specific case-shooting photography tips:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Try to avoid using flash and opt for existing natural light. In addition, use things like white curtains to diffuse the bright sun.</li> <li>Make sure your case is in focus! Nothing ruins a picture of a nice-looking case than a blurry shot.</li> <li>Clean your case before you shoot it. No one wants to see all that nasty dust all over the place!</li> <li>Experimenting with shooting from multiple angles.</li> <li>Select the right backdrop. Your system could look cooler with a nice/clean background as opposed to on your messy floor with cables strewn about.&nbsp;</li> <li>When shooting, use a tripod or if you can’t get one, shoot from a stable surface such as a box or even a pillow.</li> <li>If your camera has exposure compensation, try playing around with under-exposing or over exposing until you get the effects you want.</li> </ul> <p>In addition to requiring pretty photos, we’ll be judging the rigs based on creativity and craftsmanship.</p> <p>To kick things off, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite Rig of the Month winners in the gallery below. Click the gallery image for the full shot and feel free to get more detail on each custom case by clicking on their individual respective links in the descriptions.&nbsp;</p> case mods chassis cool custom custom computer cases design interesting pc Rig of the Month rig of the month unique Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:34:24 +0000 Ben Kim 27291 at How to Build A Quiet-but-Powerful Gaming PC <!--paging_filter--><h3>We love Pure PC Power, and hate noise, so we set out to satisfy both primal desires with a hand-built and almost totally silent gaming PC</h3> <p>Powerful computer components often run hot, which requires loud fans or expensive liquid to cool them, bringing us to a central conundrum of the PC Power lifestyle—we want a big, powerful PC, but we want it to make as little noise as possible. Not only do noisy computers make it more difficult to relax, but there’s a principle at work here—you should be the master of the space where you put your PC; you must bend it to your will, not the other way around.</p> <p>This month, we decided to do just that and build a supremely powerful rig, then smother its noise output as best as we could. We haven’t built a PC like this in a while, so the project gave us the chance to check out some new gear specifically designed for quiet computing, including a fanless CPU cooler from Zalman, a case fan from a company that usually only operates in Europe, and a closed-loop liquid cooler built for video cards. We stuffed it all into a “new to us” case from Fractal Design, and then tried to overclock the PC because, well, that’s what we do here.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/build_it-7990_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/build_it-7990_small.jpg" width="620" height="682" /></a></p> <p>Starting out, we figured the thing that would probably make the biggest difference in our build (besides the components, of course) would be sound-absorbing panels. This would allow us to have some fans inside the system, as building a fanless PC with any amount of horsepower is simply impossible. Therefore, we went with <a title="Fractal Design Define R4" href="" target="_blank">Fractal Design’s Define R4</a>—a mid-tower known for its sonic excellence and balance of price and features.</p> <p>We also liked the idea of a fanless CPU cooler, as Zalman had recently released its&nbsp;<a title="fanless air cooler" href="" target="_blank">FX100 cooler</a>, and it would mean a major element of our machine would be totally silent even when running at full speed. The only problem is it would also pretty much guarantee that we wouldn't be able to overclock due to heat buildup, which is always a problem with fanless coolers. Zalman also sent us a 92mm fan that could be dropped into the center column of the heat sink if we ran into cooling issues. Zalman labels the fan as “optional” for those running socket 2011 or 1133, but we would add “overclockers” to that list, as well. A company named <a title="be quiet" href="" target="_blank">Be Quiet</a> had just sent us two 14cm Silent Wings 2 case fans, one of which we slapped in the front of our case for some additional airflow.</p> <p>In the GPU department, we happened to have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 with a closed-loop water cooler from <a title="680 quiet" href="" target="_blank">Arctic Cooling</a> that includes a 120mm radiator and fan, so we used that since it’s just what the rig-doctor ordered. Rounding out our components was a quiet PSU from Cooler Master, a solid-state drive from OCZ, a 1TB Caviar Black hard drive from WD, and a couple of sticks of RAM from Corsair.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">INGREDIENTS</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">PART</th> <th>Price</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>Case</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Fractal Design Define R4</td> <td> <p><strong>$110</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Case Fan</strong></td> <td>Be Quiet Silent Wings 2 14cm</td> <td><strong>$20</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>PSU</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Cooler Master 800W Silent Pro Gold</td> <td><strong>$150</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Mobo</strong></td> <td>Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H</td> <td><strong>$135</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>CPU</strong></td> <td>Intel Core i7-3770K</td> <td><strong>$325</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>CPU Cooler</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Zalman FX100</td> <td><strong>$70 (street)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>GPU</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Nvidia GeForce GTX 680</td> <td><strong>$450</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>GPU Cooler</strong></td> <td>Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid</td> <td><strong>$110</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>RAM</strong></td> <td>Corsair Vengeance 2x 4GB</td> <td><strong>$55</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>SSD</strong></td> <td>OCZ Vertex 4 128GB</td> <td><strong>$125</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Hard Drive</strong></td> <td>WD Caviar Black 1TB</td> <td><strong>$90</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>OS</strong></td> <td>Windows 7 64-bit OEM</td> <td><strong>$100</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Total</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td><strong>$1,740</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"><em>Click the next page to see how we built the silent gaming PC!</em></div> <h4> <hr /></h4> <h4>1. Hybrid Theory</h4> <p>We didn't want to sacrifice video card performance to achieve low noise, so we got creative. Not long ago, we installed an Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid closed-loop liquid cooler on an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 (these don't run as toasty as comparable AMD cards like the Radeon HD 7970, making our job a little easier). The Hybrid is basically like a <a title="h100" href="" target="_blank">Corsair H100</a>, but designed for GPUs. Since we awarded it a 9 verdict and Kick Ass award for running so cool and quiet, it made sense to tuck this puppy into our build. The Fractal Design case we chose had an unoccupied 120mm fan grill on the bottom of the case, next to the power supply, perfect for our Hybrid’s radiator and fan (<strong>image A</strong>). It's difficult to hear noise coming through the bottom of a case, so we used that to our advantage.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/a_small_11.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/a_small_9.jpg" title="Image A" width="620" height="416" /></a></strong></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">2. European Styling!</h4> <p>We were looking forward to working with the Fractal Design Define R4 case for more than just its built-in sound-dampening panels. It's also about an inch wider than normal, so there's more room behind the motherboard tray for cable management. (The extra width also leaves room to add a 140mm radiator to the rear exhaust fan, but we don't need that feature this time.) In addition, the drive cages have preinstalled rubber feet designed to absorb the vibration of a mechanical drive's moving parts (<strong>image B</strong>). We also decided to remove the upper drive cage, which was secured with a couple of thumbscrews, to increase airflow in the middle of the chassis where our GPU is located. Besides, we didn't need the second drive cage since we were fine just using the three bays in the lower cage. The power supply mount also has rubber feet, and a gasket in the rear that helps with sound absorption and dust prevention.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/b_small_10.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/b_small_9.jpg" title="Image B" width="620" height="421" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">3. On Silent Wings</h4> <p>Even though the case includes one intake fan and one exhaust fan, we wanted a third case fan to help provide some airflow to our fanless CPU cooler. The R4 has two intake fan mounts in the front, and we weren’t worried about adding an extra fan to a “quiet PC” because the added noise would be muffled by sound- dampening material. We used the unoccupied lower mount to install the Be Quiet Silent Wings 2 fan, which is like the R4's stock fans in that its blades are shaped to reduce turbulence.</p> <p>To install it, we just pressed on the fan grill to pop it open, affixed the fan to the included cage, then snapped it shut—no tools needed (<strong>image C</strong>).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/c_small_11.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/c_small_10.jpg" title="Image C" width="620" height="437" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">4. The Drive to Win</h4> <p>We decided to skip an optical drive, since they can make a lot of noise when they spin up, and just installed Windows from a USB stick. For our OS we naturally wanted a solid-state drive since they have no moving parts and make no noise, so we went with an OCZ Vertex 4 because it's one of the best performers at 128GB and its size is sufficient for our OS needs. The Define R4 allows you to install two SSDs underneath the motherboard tray, between the board and the case. But the screws go through the top of the tray (<strong>image D</strong>), so the motherboard needs to be removed to install the drives. For simplicity’s sake, we installed the SSD next to the mechanical drive in the lower drive cage, as its slide-out trays have screw holes for SSDs. There was enough room between the back of the drives and the side panel that right-angle SATA cables were not required.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/d_small_0.png"><img src="/files/u152332/d_small.png" title="Image D" width="620" height="409" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">5. One Less Fan</h4> <p>We really liked the idea of using Zalman’s new fanless CPU cooler for this build, since it’s totally silent and would go a long way toward minimizing our machine’s sound output—after all, the CPU cooler, along with the GPU cooler, is responsible for the lion’s share of the noise a system emits. Since we already had the GPU on a liquid diet, silencing the CPU too should make our machine so quiet not even a bat could hear it. Of course, we also wanted a high-performance machine, so we were taking a bit of a gamble on whether a fanless cooler would work, but we figured it was worth a try.</p> <p>Since it’s a passive cooler, the Zalman is absolutely massive. This made plugging things in around the CPU socket tricky, as the cooler mostly obstructed the 8-pin motherboard power connector (<strong>image E</strong>). The CPU fan header was also completely out of reach (Zalman bundles an optional 92mm ZM-SF2 fan). You can install the cooler with the fan before putting your motherboard in the case, but then the cooler blocks the 8-pin connector. With the fan plugged in, we had to tilt the board about 30 degrees to wrestle the 8-pin cable into its socket.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/e_small_11.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/e_small_10.jpg" title="Image E" width="620" height="327" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">6. Fighting the Power</h4> <p>Power supplies are another area where we can eliminate noise. When your system starts demanding a lot of power, that power amounts to a lot of heat going through the PSU. Its fan may have to spin pretty hard to keep up, so you want a PSU with a fan that won't create a lot of turbulence when you crank it to 11. We began our build with a Cooler Master 720-watt Silent Pro M2, and as its name implies, it's designed to operate quietly. We'd used it in a previous build, so we could confirm it would not emit more than a low hum. It seemed like a no-brainer to drop in our Define R4 case.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the M2 was about a half-inch too long, and didn’t leave enough room for the Accelero Hybrid radiator, which we mounted on the bottom fan grill next to the PSU. It seemed simpler to just get a different PSU rather than mount the Hybrid where its fan would be easier to hear. We had several other options on hand and ultimately chose the Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold (<strong>image F</strong>) because it has received positive reviews for its silent operation.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/f_small_8.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/f_small_7.jpg" title="Image F" width="620" height="277" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main__image_small_0.png"><img src="/files/u152332/main__image_small.png" title="Main Image" width="620" height="421" /></a></p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Silent but Deadly</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Although it took time and some creativity to fit the FX100 fanless CPU cooler into the Define R4 case (due to the cooler’s unusually large dimensions and the case’s midsize stature), it was able to keep our Core i7-3770K in the mid-70s Celsius with Prime95 running its most challenging test (in-place large FFTs). That’s not too shabby for a fanless cooler, especially considering that our CPU was running eight threads at 100 percent load. If you place a high premium on low noise and don't care about overclocking, this cooler may fit your needs, assuming you can wedge it into your chassis. In retrospect, we would have preferred either a smaller cooler or a larger case, as this particular combo provided woefully little clearance between the top of the motherboard and the top of the case, making connecting the 8-pin power cable up in the corner of our mobo a major chore. Many full-towers fit that description, and Fractal Design makes a full-tower version of this case called the Define XL R2.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">After we installed the FX100’s optional 92mm fan (found at for $18), CPU temps were about on par with similar-size “skyscraper” coolers like the Noctua NH-D14 or the Phanteks TC14PE, with idle temps in the low-to-mid 30s Celsius and load temps in the high 60s, and it operated about as quietly. We were also able to get a stable overclock of 4GHz (from a stock speed of 3.5GHz). Going higher created noticeable fan noise when the system was under load, even with the sound dampening in the R4.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Putting the Accelero Hybrid radiator on the bottom of the Define R4 chassis gave us the quietude we had hoped for, even when running GPU benchmarks. The Hybrid device includes a small fan blowing on the card, so the memory and voltage regulation modules didn't overheat. Since this fan didn't have to cool the GPU, it didn't have to work nearly as hard, so it stayed nice and quiet.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Overall, this build was one part cooling experiment, and one part PC-building exercise. Though our final system was dead quiet, it took us awhile to get there, thanks to the quirks of the fanless cooler and the stringent low-noise requirements we set for ourselves. Given a second shot, we'd go with a standard CPU air-cooler with fans first, or water cooling. Maybe next time we’ll cool both the GPU and the CPU with water, and maybe even try something as exotic as an exterior radiator/reservoir.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light"> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>ZERO</strong></p> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>POINT</strong></p> </th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Premiere Pro CS6 (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">2,000</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">2820 <strong>(-29%)</strong></span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec)</td> <td>831</td> <td>836</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">3DMark 11 Extreme</td> <td class="item-dark">5,847</td> <td>3390<strong> (-42%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>x264 HD 5.0 (fps)</td> <td>21.1</td> <td>15.5<strong> (-26%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>1,446</td> <td>1427<strong> (-1%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Batman: Arkam City (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">76&nbsp;</td> <td>49<strong> (-35%)</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: bold;"><em>Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K @ 3.8GHz, 8GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. We are running a GeForce GTX 690, an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.</em></span></p> July 2013 2013 cool fanless CPU cooler gaming pc Hardware loud noise Quiet Rig silent Systems Features Mon, 07 Oct 2013 23:46:12 +0000 Tom McNamara 26394 at Lenovo CEO Gets $3 Million Performance Bonus, Gives It Away To Employees <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/yang_yuanqing.jpg" width="228" height="213" style="float: right;" />Usually, when you hear about CEO compensation, it's in relation to how mind-blowingly much executives make, or how a dismissed honcho left riding on a golden parachute. Not at Lenovo. The PC provider has been on a tear in recent months and is on the verge of supplanting HP as the number one computer manufacturer in the world. That top-notch performance made CEO Yang Yuanqing eligible for a big fat bonus check. Rather than keeping the cash for himself, he divvied up the $3 million performance-related bonus into 10,000-ish slices and distributed it to the everymen (and women) who make up the bulk of the company.</p> <p>The shared bonus only went out to junior-level employees, such as receptionists and factory workers, rather than managers or other executives. Each employee received the equivalent of $314, <a href="">CNN reports</a>. </p> <p>That would be nothing to sneeze at in the U.S., but it's a staggering sum in China, where Lenovo is based. <a href="">According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China</a>, the average rural Chinese resident only earns 6,977 yuan per year, or the equivalent of $1,094. Urban Chinese residents make out better, pulling down a 2011 yearly average of 23,939 yuan, but that still only works out to $3,762. Basically, $314 can mean a world of difference for Lenovo rank-and-file employees. </p> <p>Lenovo's CEO pulled down an additional $2.2 million in bonuses from other incentives and earned a total compensation of right around $14 million.</p> ceo cool lenovo news News Fri, 20 Jul 2012 18:01:05 +0000 Brad Chacos 23811 at SilentMaxx Offers A Silent, Passively Cooled Sandy Bridge-E Gaming PC With Discrete Graphics <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/silentmaxx_fanless_0.jpg" width="228" height="199" style="float: right;" />What's even cooler than rocking a powerful Sandy Bridge-E rig supplemented with discrete graphics? Rocking a powerful Sandy Bridge-E rig that's supplemented by discrete graphics and runs completely silent thanks to gargantuan passive coolers. Sound crazy? It is, but the PC builders at Germany's SilentMaxx are offering just that in silent system built around the company's <a href=";sl=de&amp;u=;prev=/search%3Fq%3D;sa=X&amp;ei=PDsIUPa4MqXD0QGjmYDoAw&amp;ved=0CFcQ7gEwAA">crazy TwinBlock passive cooler</a>, which chills out 100W TDP CPUs with the help of ten copper heatpipes and two utterly massive heat sinks.</p> <p>The base version of the <a href=";sl=de&amp;u=;prev=/search%3Fq%3D;sa=X&amp;ei=rDkIUNeYObPD0AHszd2BBA&amp;ved=0CCcQ7gEwAA">Fanless I-850 Gamer PC</a> costs the equivalent of $1,569 and includes a 3.6 GHz Core i7-3820, 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, Gigabyte X79-UD3 mobo, a passively cooled Radeon HD 7770, and a hard drive silencer that doubles as a heatsink. Thinking that graphics card is a bit weaksauce for a Sandy Bridge-E build? You're right, but fear not: SilentMaxx offers a ton of customization options, maxing out with passively cooled GTX 580, GTX 670 or Radeon 7970 offerings, 32GB of RAM, a pair of 512GB SSDs and a 3.3GHz Core i7-3960X. Be warned: the cost doesn't include shipping, which could be a hefty bill if you're bringing it over to the U.S.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/twinblock.jpg" width="287" height="242" /></p> <p>That seems like a lot of firepower with a lot of heat generation, but SilentMaxx claims the aforementioned monster TwinBlock cooler, passive GPU cooling and custom-designed ventilation-friendly tower should keep things quiet and cool enough. The company even puts its money where its mouth is with a 24 month, no-questions-asked warranty.</p> <p>Props to Olivier at Fanless Tech for <a href="">bringing our attention to this passively cooled powerhouse</a>.</p> cool sandy bridge-e silent silent computing silent pc silentmaxx News Thu, 19 Jul 2012 17:14:33 +0000 Brad Chacos 23801 at MyBadOmen's Mass Effect 3 Case Mod Will Rock Your Intergalactic Socks <!--paging_filter--><p>Usually, just tossing around the words "Mass Effect 3 mod" is enough to get you banned from Origin's multiplayer servers before you can blink a Batarian's eyes. Not in this case; rather than whipping together some modified code to gain XP at an advanced rate, David Lane (a.k.a. MyBadOmen) has instead whipped together a kick-ass ME3-inspired case mod that's sure to send a shiver down the robotic spines of Reapers galaxy-wide.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/me3_mod_big_finish.jpg" width="400" height="509" /></p> <p>Lane based the ME3 mod around a NZXT Switch 810, and its craftsmanship earned him<a href=""> a shout out from company founder Johnny Hou in a blog post</a>. A bevy of sponsors helped Lane build the Normandy SR2 homage from his fortress of solitude (aka an RV in the woods of New Hampshire), including Plextor, EK Waterblocks and NZXT itself.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/me3_mod_14_big.jpg" width="373" height="535" /></p> <p>The interior keeps up the red, white and black ME3 color scheme with a pair of Powercolor Radeon HD 6970s in Crossfire, red fans, and a red- and white-tinged Fatal1ty Professional Series mobo from ASRock. The liquid coursing through the cooling system is a nice red and white mix, too, while the exterior of the case is a mixture of hand-painting and di-noc carbon fiber sheets. There's even a little Normandy recreation on the liquid cooling reservoir.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/me3_mod_side.jpg" width="523" height="479" /></p> <p>Making this masterpiece took a lot of work. You can retrace David's steps in his <a href="">epic 100 page-plus build log</a>, which thankfully has an index for quickly jumping to specific updates. A few final touches should be posted soon. Like what you see? We've recently <a href="">outlined all the tools you need to start modding yourself</a>; David's ME3 build log shows you how to use them.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/me3_mod_reservoir.jpg" width="523" height="519" /></p> case mod case mods computer modding cool Mass Effect 3 modding News Mon, 09 Jul 2012 18:44:41 +0000 Brad Chacos 23732 at NZXT's "Hue" LED Controller Offers Custom Case Lighting with Minimum Fuss <!--paging_filter--><p>Not everything in life is clear-cut. Take LED lighting in your PC for instance; some people love the look of colorful bulbs, while the same effect makes others want to claw their eyes out with a molex tool. If you fall into the former camp, NZXT's new "Hue" LED controller might just be up your alley. It's a premade lighting solution that seems flexible enough to satisfy DIYers who want custom rave club-like effects without worrying about inverters and grounding wires.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/nzxt_hue_big.jpg" width="600" height="205" /></p> <p>The controller itself slips into a 5.25-inch drive bay and sports three controls, which let you manually tweak the RGB color settings, brightness and pulse speed of the unit's LED lights. Fading, flashing, color changing -- it's all there. The lighting itself comes in the form of a 2 meter-long sleeve with 24 LEDs peppered throughout; it's nice and bendy, so you're able to snake the lights through your rig any way you see fit.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/nzxt_hue_case.jpg" width="600" height="542" /></p> <p>NZXT's $33 Hue controller uses a SATA connection and is already available; you can <a href="">find more information on NZXT's website</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><em>Via Engadget</em></a></p> case mods cool Hardware led led controller lighting nzxt nzxt hue News Fri, 06 Jul 2012 17:05:34 +0000 Brad Chacos 23719 at This Scratch-Built, Desk-Based PC Mod Looks Great, Runs Cool And Rocks Three Monitors <!--paging_filter--><p>Something about case mods that build a PC into an actual desk are just plain <em>cool</em>. We loved Peter Brands' L3P Desk (featured in our <a href="">kick-ass case mods gallery</a>) and a new mod by Shazim Mohammed continues on in the fine tradition by cramming a water-cooled, plenty powerful PC with a three monitor Eyefinity setup into a desk that was built completely from scratch. It might not be overly flashy, but it's impressive nonetheless.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/desk_mod_1.jpg" width="600" height="391" /></p> <p>The biggest challenge, Mohammed reports, was figuring out a way to get good air flow moving around the MDF-built desk. He enlisted the help of a Tom's Hardware forum-goer and planned a layout that includes three exhaust fans, two intake fans and a liquid cooling setup for the CPU and GPU. The final setup runs at 31 degrees Celcius.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/desk_mod_2.jpg" width="600" height="388" /></p> <p>Speaking of final setups, here's what Mohammed put into his desk, straight from the man himself:</p> <ul> <li><em>Asus Gene&nbsp; IV Motherboard</em></li> <li><em>i5-2500k Processor</em></li> <li><em>Radeon HD 7950 Graphics card with Water Cooling block (EK)</em></li> <li><em>3x Dell UltraSharp (U2312HM) Monitors (in Eyefinity setup) with a modded ergonomic mount.</em></li> <li><em>3x Gelid UV Reactive Green fans</em></li> <li><em>XSPC Raystorm CPU waterblock</em></li> <li><em>XSPC RX360 Radiator</em></li> <li><em>PrimoFlex UV Green tubinh</em></li> <li><em>Swiftech pump</em></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/desk_mod_3.jpg" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>Head over to <a href="">Mohammed's build log</a> to see tons and tons of both in-progress and finished product pics. Seriously, there are a lot of them: just so you don't think your broadband connection's acting up, we'll warn you in advance that the website takes a long time to load. It's worth the wait, though.</p> <p><em><a href="">Via Engadget</a> (suprisingly)</em></p> case mod case mods cool Hardware News Tue, 26 Jun 2012 18:40:58 +0000 Brad Chacos 23655 at Microsoft Kept Surface Tablet A Secret By Securing The Team In An Underground Bunker <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/surface_tablet.jpg" width="228" height="161" style="float: right;" />How does Microsoft, one of the highest-profile technology companies in the world, create a new, similarly high-profile piece of hardware like the Surface Tablet without anybody in the industry getting a whiff of it? Simple: you lock the designers working on the project into secretive underground facilities with security measures similar to what you'd find at a bank or sensitive data centers. </p> <p>Microsoft hardware guru Stevie Bathiche told <a href="">TechRadar</a>, our FutureUS sister site, that the small team worked in "an underground bunker with no windows." Once things started picking up, Microsoft brought the team above ground, but the new digs sported armed guards, biometric verification and double airlock-type doors to ensure that nobody was able to sneak their way in; one door had to close completely before the other one would start to open.</p> <p>The Surface tablet's team spilled several more beans about the blood, sweat and anal-retentive tears that went into designing Microsoft's first self-branded tablet. They also confirmed you won't see a Windows RT tablet sporting a Kindle Fire-low price tag. <a href="">Head on over to TechRadar to read the whole shebang</a>.</p> cool crazy pills microsoft microsoft surface news Surface tablet News Fri, 22 Jun 2012 18:09:34 +0000 Brad Chacos 23638 at Sandia National Lab Starts Licensing Out Super Quiet, Hyper-Efficient CPU Cooler <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/sandia_cooler.jpg" width="228" height="179" style="float: right;" />Think your CPU cooler kicks ass? Some of the top minds in the country disagree. Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have been working on a novel new design for a rapidly spinning cooler, one that they say is up to 30 percent more efficient than traditional models AND virtually silent in typical use cases. Sounds crazy ambitious? Apparently, it isn't; Sandia's already looking to license the technology out to electronics suppliers, and one unidentified CPU cooling company has already hopped on the bandwagon.</p> <p>Sandia's cooler basically consists of two parts: a disk-shaped heat spreader with vertical cooling fins, positioned on top of a stationary base plate that touches the CPU and acts as a heat sink. The bottom of the finned spreader is flat, as is the top of the heat sink. A gap of less than 0.001-inches separates the two, and during operation the top disk spins at a rate of 2,000 RPM.</p> <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px;"><param name="movie" value=";feature=player_detailpage" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" src=";feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object><p>Being at such close range and spinning so fast creates, essentially, a self-regulating "hydrodynamic gas bearing," which lets the cooler negate the thin layer of stagnant air -- known as the boundary layer -- that locks in a lot heat in traditional sink-plus-fan CPU cooling methods. In fact, the heat takes on almost liquid properties in Sandia's method and transfers between the heat sink and the cooling fins very, very efficiently.</p> <p>As the cooler spins, its shape draws air down into the "eye" of the hardware, which is then quickly pushed out radially through its curved fins, keeping everything cool. The shape and spin of the cooler benefits this stage two-fold; it pumps air very, very well, and any dust that tries to settle on it gets blown out just as fast. </p> <p>If that's a bit too technical for your blood, check out the video above, in which creator Jeffrey Koplow shows off the cooler in action and provides a solid description of how it works. It's a lot easier to grasp if you watch it, trust me. A lot more information can be found <a href="">in a whitepaper on the Sandia National Laboratory website</a>.</p> <p>Sandia hopes the cooler's design will scale up and take off in a number of industries, including (obviously) PC uses, solid state lighting, HVAC, automotive and large appliances. Which CPU cooling company do you think licensed the technology?</p> cool CPU Cooler CPU cooling Hardware sandia national lab News Thu, 21 Jun 2012 17:33:51 +0000 Brad Chacos 23629 at Nigerian Princes: Scientifically Designed to Identify Idiots <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/nigerian_prince.jpg" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />Oh, those wacky Nigerian princes and their tales of lost fortunes. If only they had your help! But they don't, of course, because anybody with half a brain can see through the scam. And that's the key to the scheme, one Microsoft researcher says in a 14 page report about Nigerian scams; the fantastic stories serve to screen out skeptical folks, leaving the scammers free to pick off the low-hanging fruit that responds to wild emails from African royalty.</p> <p>The abstract to Cormac Herley's "<a href="">Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?</a>" sums things up nicely, followed by a ton of probability checks, algebra and graphs to back up his big talk:</p> <p><em>Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor</em>.</p> <p>The scammers have to spend a lot of time exchanging emails with possible victims, Herley goes on to explain. By enticing savvy folks (like Maximum PC readers) into quickly tossing ridiculous scam emails into the junk folder, the criminals maximize their potential profit by focusing their efforts on gullible grandmothers with a taste for snake oil.</p> <p>If you don't mind tl;dr reports that are peppered with math, be sure to check out the full report. It's an interesting read. <a href="">Props to [H]ardOCP for pointing it out</a>!</p> <p><em>Image credit:</em></p> cool microsoft nigerian scam Research scam scammer News Wed, 20 Jun 2012 18:01:05 +0000 Brad Chacos 23621 at Intel's Brain-Like Neuromophic CPUs Provide Possible Blueprint for Future Generations of Robotic Overlords <!--paging_filter--><p>Intel's placing its bets on more than just the company's top-notch fabrication facilities; the company apparently has a stake in creating future generations of robot overlords, as well. Less than a month ago, Intel unveiled a new research project designed to <a href="">make technology that's smart enough to learn its user's personal quirks</a> and adapt accordingly; last week, Intel researchers published a proposal for a new, neuromorphic chip design -- hardware that mimics the human brain.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/intel_neuromorphic_cpu.jpg" width="452" height="265" /></p> <p>Intel's technique differs quite a bit from <a href="">IBM's cognitive chips</a>, which were first announced almost a year ago. While IBM's brain chips use traditional silicon circuits containing so-called "neurosynaptic cores" with "programmable synapses" and "learning synapses," the method proposed by Intel instead uses multi-input lateral spin valves and memristors. The LSVs are itty bitty magnets that change their magnetism depending on the rotation of the electrons coursing through them, while memristors either increase or decrease their electrical resistance depending on the direction of the electrical current's flow. </p> <p>The Intel researchers say that by arranging these parts into specific configurations, the LSVs can basically act as neurons, while the memristors mimic synapses. They also claim that the neuromorphic CPUs are amazingly energy efficient, using 15 to 300 times less power than current CMOS technology.</p> <p>The group claims that the chip would be good for processing tasks similar to what humans do, such as "analog-data-sensing, data-conversion, cognitive-computing, associative memory, programmable-logic and analog and digital signal processing."</p> <p>One big caveat; at this stage, Intel's neuromorphic CPU is entirely theoretical, while IBM's brain-clone is already a prototype. That being said, you can read all about Intel's neuromorphic chip in the company's whitepaper proposal, <a href="">which you can find in entirety here</a>. (PDF)</p> <p>(In related news, <a href="">scientists have taught babbling baby robots how to speak, kinda.</a>)</p> <p><em>Via <a href="">Technology Review</a></em></p> artificial intelligence cool future future tech Hardware intel news Processors terminator News Mon, 18 Jun 2012 17:57:18 +0000 Brad Chacos 23605 at Author Neal Stephenson Kickstarts PC-Exclusive, Motion-Controlled Swordfighting PVP Game <!--paging_filter--><p>Meticulous detail, motion-controlled swords and PC exclusivity: that's what noted sci-fi and historical fiction author Neal Stephenson is bringing to the table if his arena-style blade-dueling game, <a href="">Clang</a>, meets its $500k funding goal. Stephenson, you see, is sick of seeing guns, guns and more guns in games and he -- with the help of Subutai, his Seattle-based media company -- wants to bring back old-school sword duels in virtual form, all powered by Razer's Hydra motion controller.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u138055/stephenson_kickstarter.jpg" width="523" height="314" /></p> <p>Despite calling the game "Guitar Hero with swords" in the most hilarious Kickstart video we've ever seen -- keep your eyes peeled for an ornery, crowbar-crafting Gabe Newell! -- Stephenson says that the Hydra's low latency and high accuracy will open up a word of advanced sword-fighting capabilities, including different stances, pommel strikes, grappling, feints, and parries.</p> <p>The game is slated to start off as a simple one-on-one multiplayer arena game, with longswords being the only weapons available, but Stephenson says that as the technology and gameplay is perfected, the team hopes to introduce adventure-style quests and a toolkit dubbed MASE (for Martial Arts System Embodiments) that will enable Subutai and others to add new weapons and fighting styles to Clang, with Japanese kenjutsu and Viking sword-and-board being the two examples cited. Stories and books set in the Clang universe are already being published through Amazon. </p> <p><a href="">Clang's already raised around $250,000</a>, or just under half its goal. Dropping $25 into the proverbial bucket gets you kudos in the game credits as well as a copy of the title once it's finished, which should be around February of next year. Even if you're not into the whole crowdfunding thing, be sure to check out that intro video to witness Stephenson's wicked humor (and his even more wicked beard) firsthand.</p> cool Gaming kickstarter motion control motion controller PC gaming News Tue, 12 Jun 2012 18:14:14 +0000 Brad Chacos 23566 at Noctua and Rotosub's Active Noise-Cancelling Fan Gets Detailed and Videotaped <!--paging_filter--><p>Remember the <a href="">active noise-cancelling fans Noctua promised to have on display at the Computex exhibition</a> last week? Well, said cooling technology was indeed available, along with new information about pricing and release info for the products. So does Rotosub's ANC technology actually quiet things down as much as promised? Noctua's posted a video of the noise-cancelling fan in action so that you can judge for yourself.</p> <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px;"><param name="movie" value=";feature=player_detailpage" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" src=";feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object><p>After watching (and listening) to the video, our ears report that the ANC tech manages to dull the noise of the fans by quite a bit. The soft, soothing quiet is thanks to a team effort by a mic, a signal processor and a metal band in the center of the fan. As the fan spins, the microphone feeds the noise to the signal processor, which does its frequency-finding magic and then delivers a signal to magnets embedded in the tip of the fan blades. The magnets make the blades quiver oh-so-slightly in response to the metal band in the center of the fan, which creates a sound that largely cancels out the noise of the fan itself.</p> <p>Now for the bad news: <a href="">Noctua told the Verge</a> than ANC-enabled fans are at least a year away from retail shelves, and the initial versions may be bulky, as they won't necessarily have the mic and signal processor integrated into the body of the fan itself. The fans are also expected to cost somewhere between $40 and $50 bucks, whereas the currently available Noctua NF-F12 can be found for between $20 and $25, depending on where you're shopping.</p> <p>So, hearing (or not -- ha!) all that, are you still intrigued by active noise-cancelling fans, or does the anticipated price point cool down your enthusiasm?</p> active noise cancellation anc cool fan fans Noctua rotosub News Mon, 11 Jun 2012 17:48:22 +0000 Brad Chacos 23556 at New Technology Brings On-Demand, Tactile Buttons To Touchscreen Devices <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/tactus-dialpad-up4.jpg" width="228" height="205" style="float: right;" />Just in case you didn't get the hint from the tablet-tastic Windows 8 Metro UI and those 900,000 Android devices activated each and every day: the world is turning into an increasingly touch-focused place. Touchscreens are nice and all, but we prefer our QWERTY to be a little more… <em>tactile</em>. Enter the appropriately named Tactus Technology: while most of our attention was focused on E3 and Computex last week, Tactus stole the show at the Society for Information Display's (SID) conference in Boston with new technology that can create dynamic physical buttons over a touchscreen display on-demand.</p> <p>According to the white paper Tactus reps sent us, the multi-layered Tactus display technology sits on top of a device's touch sensors and has "micro channels" comprised of multiple tiny holes in predetermined locations; when physical buttons are needed, an optically clear fluid rises up from a lower layer of the Tactus sheet to fill the holes and create the on-demand physical interface. When physical buttons aren't needed, the fluid exits and the display flattens back out, as you can see in the video below.</p> <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px;"><param name="movie" value=";feature=player_detailpage" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" src=";feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object><p>Tactus claims the technology doesn't add any additional thickness to the touchscreen, as the 0.75mm to 1mm Tactus display replaces the topmost layer of glass or plastic found in current touchscreens. The buttons raise and lower in less than a second. Buttons of virtually any shape and varying heights can be created with the technology, but given its design, the buttons will be limited to whichever keys OEMs choose to include, such as the numeric dialer and QWERTY keypad found in phones.&nbsp; </p> <p>The company also claims that the morphing display uses very little additional energy, as it only draws power when altering the fluid pressure to initially raise or lower a button. By contrast, vibrating haptic displays suck down juice whenever a button is pressed.</p> <p>Tactus showed off a prototype of the morphing touchscreen display on an Android tablet at SID and <a href="">Engadget got its hands on the goodie</a>, proclaiming it to be "truly impressive" despite giving the display a look that's "a mash-up of matte and glossy." </p> <p>The first Tactus technology-enabled devices aren't expected to ship until next year, but we gotta say, the idea of a Windows 8 tablet or AIO with a dynamic, on-demand tactile keyboard is definitely intriguing. What do you think?</p> cool display Hardware mobile news touchscreen touchscreens News Mon, 11 Jun 2012 17:20:46 +0000 Brad Chacos 23555 at Lian Li's Bringing A Working Choo-Choo-Chassis To Computex <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/pc-ck101.jpg" width="228" height="137" style="float: right;" />Lian Li just announced that it will be previewing two new mobile PC cases at the Computex exhibition in Taipei next week -- and by mobile, we mean actually moving. The company will be showing off both the aforementioned steam engine, complete with smoke, and an SUV-look-alike dubbed the PC-Q15. Both will be doing laps around the Lian Li booth.</p> <p>According to the press release, the PC-Q15 is being "specially designed for Computex," but the engine-like PC-CK101 should be available later this year. In addition to choo-chooing around a track and blowing real smoke, the PC-CK101 case sports USB 3.0 ports, an optical disc drive and support for both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch HDDs, although Lian Li's kept mum about further technical details. </p> <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px;"><param name="movie" value=";feature=player_embedded" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" src=";feature=player_embedded" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object><p>Other Lian Li cases will also be on display, including a vent-less case for silent builds and the newest chassis made completely out of steel, rather than aluminum. (Don't worry, plenty of more traditional cases will be there too, plenty of which still rock the brushed aluminum so many system builders know and love.)</p> <p>Thoughts? There's no questioning the cool factor, but is a choo-choo chassis a nifty niche offering or a big bundle o' useless?</p> <p><em>Follow Brad on <a href="">Google+</a> or <a href="!/BradChacos">Twitter</a></em></p> case chassis computex computex 2012 cool Lian Li News Wed, 30 May 2012 17:04:34 +0000 Brad Chacos 23468 at