TechSpot

enthusiast articles

Best Motherboards of 2016: Enthusiast, extreme, workstation and budget picks

Building a new PC is all about choices and tradeoffs. Picking between AMD and Intel is usually the first choice you have to make, but it certainly isn’t the most complicated. Instead, that honour goes to the motherboard, with each board maker typically offering at least half a dozen different models based on a single chipset. We've done a lot of the homework for you to save you some time, money, and/or regret. Here's what we believe is the very best out there.

Exclusive: BCLK overclocking non-K Intel Skylake CPUs is now possible, tested here

In overclocking circles it was recently noted that BCLK (base clock) overclocking might become a possibility in Skylake processors, but it would be up to motherboard manufacturers to circumvent Intel's restrictions. Last night Asrock contacted us with an updated BIOS that enabled this. We jumped at the opportunity and have already tested and benched a Core i3-6100 Skylake CPU with a 1GHz overclock (4.7GHz) on air cooling.

Enthusiast Territory: The most memorable overclocking-friendly CPUs

#ThrowBackThursday Enthusiasts have been pushing the limits of silicon for as long as microprocessors have existed. Early overclocking endeavors involved soldering and replacing crystal clock oscillators, but evolving standards brought options for changing system bus speeds, while some of the most daring would gain boosts through hard modding. These are but a few of the landmark processors revered for their overclocking prowess.

TechSpot PC Buying Guide: Holidays 2015 Update

The TechSpot PC Buying Guide offers an in-depth list of today's best desktop PC hardware, spanning five unique budgets. Whether you're a first time builder seeking guidance or a seasoned enthusiast, we have you covered.

• Decent performance • Good for everyday computing • Gaming with add-on GPU
• Good performance • Fast for everyday computing • Casual gaming
• Excellent performance • Great Multitasker • Perfect for gaming
• High-end performance • Heavy multitasking • High-quality gaming
• Workstation-like performance • Extreme multitasking • Extreme gaming

Is Buying a Sound Card Worth The Money? An Enthusiast's Perspective

#ThrowBackThursday Buying a sound card has always felt more like a gamble than an investment to me. At the same time, I know audio snobs with thousands in equipment and all-FLAC libraries, and I'd like to believe they aren't delusional -- surely there's something to be experienced beyond my basic setup. But I mean, just how much better can music, movies and games sound? Enough to prevent buyer's remorse?

No Expense Spared: The ridiculously powerful MicroATX PC

Every enthusiast dreams of building a budgetless rig with nothing but the best hardware. Thus, we're throwing caution to the wind by cramming the priciest and most powerful gaming hardware into a 32L chassis. The end result should be a ridiculously powerful mATX system ready for any and all tasks. With the hardware cost coming in at around $2,750 without a keyboard/mouse or monitor, this is an affair with no expenses spared.

Intel Core i3 vs. Core i5 vs. Core i7: What do you get by spending more?

With desktop CPU prices ranging from as little as $60 to over $600 there are options for everyone wanting to buy or build a new Intel system. The Core i3 is intended as entry-level, the Core i5 is geared for mainstream usage, and the mighty Core i7 is meant for high-end systems and enthusiasts. But what do you get by spending more? Here's your answer.

Fermi through Maxwell: 5 Generations of GeForce Graphics Compared

When new GPUs arrive we usually compare them to their predecessor but rarely go back more than one generation. Today we'll be testing six cards covering three key Nvidia architectures: Fermi (the GTX 480 and GTX 580), Kepler (theGTX 680 and GTX 780) and Maxwell (the GTX 980). Many of you who haven't upgraded GPUs in over a year may be pleased to see how performance scales and what to expect in modern games.

Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E Review: No expense spared performance

Intel's Extreme Edition processor line is over a decade old now, starting way back in 2003 with the single-core Pentium 4 EE 3.4GHz. Fast forward to today, the chip we'll be looking at boasts eight cores, a massive 20MB smart cache, support for the latest DDR4 memory, and is accompanied by the new X99 chipset for more SATA 6Gb/s ports (10 rather than just two) and finally brings native USB 3.0 to Intel's flagship platform.

TechSpot PC Buying Guide: Mid-2014 Update

The TechSpot PC Buying Guide offers an in-depth list of today's best desktop PC hardware, spanning four unique yet typical budgets. Whether you're a first time builder seeking guidance or a seasoned enthusiast, we have you covered.

• Decent performance • Good for everyday computing • Gaming with add-on GPU
• Good performance • Fast for everyday computing • Casual gaming
• Excellent performance • Great Multitasker • Perfect for gaming
• Workstation-like performance • Heavy multitasking • Extreme gaming

Silverstone Fortress FT04 Review: Improving the Formula?

Silverstone cases are often praised by enthusiasts and HTPC builders alike, and with good reason. We last checked the Fortress FT03 which deserved TechSpot's Outstanding award and now two years later, the much anticipated Fortress FT04 has made it to market.

Upon first glance this latest version looks a lot like the FT01 that was released back in 2008. The FT04 shares similar dimensions to the FT01, with a slight increase in size that we assume simply means it can fit drives and longer graphics cards more comfortably.

TechSpot PC Buying Guide: Mid-2013 Update

TechSpot's PC Buying Guide offers an in-depth list of today's best desktop PC hardware, spanning four typical budgets starting at ~$500 for a well-balanced machine capable of medium workloads, up to $3,000+ for the Luxury build which includes the best PC hardware recommendations when budget is not a big concern. In-between you will find two mainstream systems that are good for heavy-multitasking and depending on your choice of GPU casual to high-end gaming.

• Decent performance • Good for everyday computing • Gaming with add-on GPU
• Good performance • Fast for everyday computing • Casual gaming
• Excellent performance • Great Multitasker • Perfect for gaming
• Workstation-like performance • Heavy multitasking • Extreme gaming

Intel Ivy Bridge-E Debuts: Core i7-4960X Review

Haswell has been out in the wild for 3 months now, while Sandy Bridge-E has remained Intel’s "ultimate" desktop platform for almost 2 years. However Intel is now ready for a refresh of its Extreme platform, but they won’t be skipping the Ivy Bridge architecture and moving straight to Haswell.

Enter the Core i7-4960X which still features 6 cores, 12 threads, 15MB L3 cache, quad-channel DDR3 memory and is supported by the same aging X79 chipset. This doesn’t sound very exciting, so what’s new?

LCDSysInfo for GOverlay: A $32 LCD gadget for PC enthusiasts and tinkerers

As a PC builder and gamer I find it fun and incredibly interesting to monitor many things in my set-up, from the temperature of my CPU and its fan speed, to the frames per second and GPU load in games, just to see how capable my PC really is.

Traditionally I’d use a bunch of programs to monitor all these stats, including SpeedFan and Fraps, gathering info through pop-ups or windows on a second monitor. Then I was sent an LCDSysInfo – a small 2.8-inch LCD gadget that can be configured to show various stats – and monitoring my PC became significantly easier.