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You go out to buy a new graphics card, set a budget, and it'd seem that for another $30-60 you can always go with the next step up that performs a little better. Or, you could save those extra dollars, go for the budget model and overclock it and basically match the next step up's performance.
With that in mind, we have hand-picked three graphics cards that represent select price ranges to see just how much extra value can be obtained through overclocking. For the $100+ range we have the Radeon HD 6750, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti has been used to represent the $200+ market. Then at the top of the food chain we have the Radeon HD 6970 going for $300 and up.
As a follow-up to last week's CES special feature and coverage, here are more of the products we observed and played with, along with photos taken during our journey to the event. As you've surely noticed, mobile tech consumed the event with seemingly every major company unveiling smartphones, tablets or ultrabooks. Nonetheless, we managed to lay hands on plenty of awesome PC hardware from the likes of Samsung, Silverstone, MSI, Razer, Roccat, Toshiba, Gigabyte and more...
The Lumia 710 represents Nokia's first Windows Phone 7.5 smartphone in the U.S. Thanks to a fast processor and Windows Phone's attractive and snappy interface, the Lumia 710 is no slouch when you use it, and the phone benefits from solid call quality, decent battery life, and a usable camera.
But is the Lumia 710 capable of making a splash in the crowded U.S. smartphone market, or if it just another forgettable, entry-level device?
Those wanting to build the ultimate performance system will naturally turn to Intel’s new LGA2011 platform which recently made its debut with the Sandy Bridge-E processors. Further, the platform is expected to support enthusiast-level Ivy Bridge processors that are slated for release by the end of 2012, adding to the platform's longevity.
More than ever we expect motherboard manufacturers deliver the goods with their X79 offerings as the platform will only be attractive to the most demanding of PC enthusiasts and gamers building heavily packed machines -- you know, those who will be paying ~$300 for a motherboard on top of a very expensive processor.
The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show kicked off this week in Las Vegas and we've been hard at work bringing you the most prominent product launches and announcements through our daily news stream.
We've also been on the showfloor and attending several media events to get a sneak peak at some of the hottest tech gear heading to consumers this year. As it's become tradition, here's our own take on CES, in pictures...
Remote Desktop in server editions of Windows by default supports two concurrent connections to remotely troubleshoot or administer a computer. However, there are a few reasons why concurrent sessions would come in handy for power users not necessarily running a server.
For example, if you have a dedicated Media Center PC running in the living room, you'll be able to remotely access all files on the machine without interrupting the person watching TV. Or if you are sharing a computer with other users, concurrent Remote Desktop sessions will allow more than one person use that system under a different or even the same user account, without kicking each other off.
Twenty-eleven is almost over and as we conclude our end-of-year articles it's time to look back at some of the most relevant stories of 2011. We'll do a brief recount of tech happenings in six categories: Desktop CPUs and Graphics, Hardware Industry, Devices and Components, Software, Gaming, Mobile Computing and The Web.
It's been quite an eventful year that's for sure. We hope you enjoyed our daily dispatch of PC technology news and analysis as much as we’ve enjoyed bringing it to you. Without further ado, here’s our take on 2011.
HP's 2011 Envy 14 picks up right where last year's model left off by beefing up the internals, adding modern connectivity options like USB 3.0 and DisplayPort and greatly improving the touchpad. The Envy has a strong resemblance to Apple's MacBook Pro which for the most part could be considered a good thing.
The latest version features the same gunmetal lid with an attractive etched pattern and a reflective HP logo on the back corner of the lid . Our evaluation system used to cost $1,079.99 but now you can get it for $899, making for an interesting proposition for this subtly well-crafted machine.
The Radeon HD 7970 is the first of a series of upcoming graphics cards that are making the jump to the 28nm fabrication process. The new HD 7970 will effectively become AMD's new flagship single GPU graphics card come January, when the board is expected to ship.
In the meantime, it’s definitely nice to get a look now at how it performs. The Radeon HD 7000 is a big leap for AMD, representing its most significant architecture overhaul in the last decade. Let’s take a moment to check out the new card's capabilities and features in greater detail.
As the current Google flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung is the first device to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The super large, super high-resolution display on the Galaxy Nexus is a dream to look at. Verizon's U.S. version is 4G ready and the new Android operating system gives users something very new and interesting to work with. It's a good combination.
Although it's not without flaw, the Galaxy Nexus is every bit the hero smartphone that Google needs it to be to move Android to the next stage of its evolution.
As 2011 nears its expiration date you've probably already wrapped up your holiday shopping and are looking forward to the year-end celebrations with your loved ones. Being the tech fanatics that we are we'd also like to take a moment and look back at what 2011 had to offer, from the greatest computer hardware produced to some of the cool gadgets you shouldn't have missed.
We've used our Product Finder engine to selectively pick this year's standout products in over twenty categories as reviewed by hundreds of seasoned specialists across the web.
Launched in 1970, Xerox's PARC has played an instrumental role in the engineering of laser printing and many of the technologies that compose the PC you're reading this on: ethernet, the mouse, graphical user interface, among others.
However despite its vast industry contributions, the group has been criticized for failing to capitalize on its many innovations. While some of our older readers might be familiar with the prolific Palo Alto Research Center, we think its accomplishments have largely escaped the younger tech crowd. We'd like to take a few minutes to give credit where credit's due.
The Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 and 8.2 tablets pick up where the original Xoom tablet left off. They both offer Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE data speeds, large displays, and a stealth black finish that has been updated to feel better in the hand.
It's regrettable that they run Android 3.x Honeycomb, like the original Xoom tablet that they replace when Ice Cream Sandwich is literally already here. Still, as far as Android tablets go, these two devices are quite capable and aren't hard on the eyes.
Without question one of the most affordable and thus commonly upgraded components by PC builders and enthusiasts alike is the CPU cooler. Generally the main goal is to lower operating temperatures, but aftermarket coolers can also reduce operating volumes and provide a greater overclocking headroom.
Included in the comparison are top contenders in the form of the Thermalright True Spirit 140, Prolimatech Panther, Thermaltake Frio Advanced and Noctua NH-C14. All four designed to support multiple platforms on both AMD and Intel camps.
The Samsung Focus S is one of the two new Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones for AT&T that succeed last year's Focus that was build around WP7.
Where the original Focus had a strong familiar resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S running Android, the Focus S is as close to a Windows Phone 7.5 version of the Galaxy S II as one can get.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing it's time we give our Laptop Buying Guide one last pass before the year is over to make sure it's packing enough punch. Netbooks have lost their lure to simply become smaller, entry-level notebooks, while other categories are only seeing minor spec bumps. But if you are looking into the ultraportable market, a new breed of devices has emerged. Intel is pushing the Ultrabooks as thin and light systems with plenty of power, for now we're seeing a first generation of devices, with plenty more to come.
|Ultraportables Thin and light laptops balance portability, performance and battery life.||Business Mid to high end components with an emphasis on durability, security and battery life.|
|Desktop Replacements The most complete set of features, often forgo battery life and portability for extra horsepower.||Gaming If mobility is a priority, there are some solid choices for gaming on the go.|
|Budget-oriented A good blend of price and features, but slim form factors are not necessarily a priority.|
The new LG Nitro HD represents the company's premier Android smartphone in the United States. It has a stellar spec sheet that includes 4G LTE data, a 4.5-inch 720p HD resolution display, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and a 1080p HD video-capable 8 megapixel camera. It's also fairly thin, light, and attractive.
The Nitro HD should fear no other device when it comes to specifications. But when it comes to real world performance, not all of its specs live up to user expectations.
Cooler Master is at it again, releasing yet another gaming-oriented chassis and the first full size model in the Storm lineup. At $190 the Storm Trooper packs several new features: 90-degree rotatable 4-in-3 HDD modules, an easy-to-carry handle, a hidden toolbox to store private goods, a built-in fan controller, an external 2.5" storage drive X-dock and the ability to support up to 14 internal hard drives.
It's been a year since the HAF X's arrival, and Cooler Master may have already outdone itself...
The PC-Q25 vows to be Lian-Li's most advanced Mini-ITX offering yet. The case has plenty of room for high-end hardware, including full-length graphics cards. Besides catering to gamers, the chassis also attempts to woo media buffs with support for five 3.5" hard drives and some impressive cooling options.
The PC-Q25 has received hot-swap connectors to quickly load hard drives, tool-less side panels for faster access and it lost the 5.25" optical drive bay. The new arrival certainly appears to be a more modern enclosure, but it also seems to have a few drawbacks that we'll flesh out right up next.
Amazon sent a wave crashing through the mobile industry when it announced that its Android based tablet, the Kindle Fire, would land with a price of $199.
This is the best value in a tablet on the market, and will make tablet computing accessible to many people that either couldn't afford Apple's iPads or couldn't tolerate Android Honeycomb based tablets. Plus, nobody can argue that Amazon doesn't provide a great self-contained ecosystem. But do the high expectations for the Kindle Fire mesh with the reality of the device?
Lenovo has expanded their line of computing devices to include tablets. The company introduced two new slates earlier this year – the consumer-oriented IdeaPad K1 and the business-minded ThinkPad Tablet that we are examining today.
We've come to know Lenovo as one of the premiere business notebook manufacturers over the past years. The foundation for its ThinkPad line has been a uniform style that's stood the test of time quite well. It's simple, practical, recognizable and instills the value of quality in the minds of many. It'll be interesting to see how that tradition has carried on to their first ThinkPad tablet running Android.
Editorial It appears as though we're just now arriving to that sweet spot where fewer compromises can be made to build fast and svelte machines that are budget-friendly, all at the same time. However, it's easy to miss what a true next-generation ultraportable notebook should be.
Manufacturers are short-sighted if they only focus on building fast machines that weigh 3 pounds or less, without putting design and user experience at the core of their future developments. Here are some key aspects where I believe PC makers should focus and where some are already failing on their first try to deliver a killer ultrabook.
Although its popularity is undoubtedly aided by the cult-like status of the Elder Scrolls franchise, Skyrim isn't just a clone of its predecessors (we're looking at you MW3). Bethesda has made many gameplay refinements, especially to the graphics and animations -- our area of interest.
While it may not bring your PC to its knees, Skyrim promises to be the best-looking Elder Scrolls title to date with its newly developed game engine, called the "Creation Engine." As usual we have put a wide range of hardware to the test, 17 graphics cards and CPU performance comparisons await inside.
The tantalizingly brief Skyrim teaser trailer debuted by Bethesda Softworks late last year filled my mind with visions of titanic battles between man and beast; of shining steel bathed in ancient flames; of a champion rising from humble origins, prepared to sacrifice everything for the fate of the world.
After 60+ hours with the game those visions have been fully realized — and rendered largely inconsequential.It's the sort of tale that fuels ancient epics and trashy fantasy novel trilogies alike. This is not your average role-playing game. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this titanic tale is merely a framing device for a much larger story. My story.
One of the problems we've seen with Windows Phone devices thus far is that if you've seen one Windows Phone, you've basically seen them all. Or so we thought...
Nokia has proven to the industry that it can do Windows Phone better than the competition. Its Lumia 800 features one of the best hardware designs found on a smartphone today -- on any platform. In short, it's a fantastic smartphone that truly takes Windows Phone to the next level.
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