With many hot PC game releases scheduled over the coming months, it seems like a fine opportunity to step up your game with a new mouse this holiday season if you were thinking about pitting your trusty, dusty retail rodent against Battlefield 4. Come along as a dozen mice compete for spots in our holiday and PC buying guides, and ultimately for your cash.
Taking advantage of Ivy Bridge's efficient operation, Intel accompanied its third-generation Core processors with a new small form factor platform dubbed Next Unit of Computing (NUC). Unfortunately so far the project has basically amounted to a cool idea hamstrung by poor hardware choices and unattractive prices.
Gigabyte hopes to buck the trend with its own NUC offerings. Their pint-sized "Brix" systems come in four CPU configurations, including the 1.8GHz Celeron 1037U, 1.9GHz Core i3-3227U, 1.8-2.7GHz Core i5-3337U and 2-3.1GHz Core i7-3537U.
It was 2011 and Intel saw a surging trend in mobile computing. Notebooks were to become thinner, batteries had to last more, optical drives were going away, and performance, performance didn't have to suffer too much. So Intel pushed forward by investing $300 million of its own money to make it happen. That's what we know today as the ultrabook initiative.
Today we are checking out Gigabyte's flagship ultrabook, the U2442F which comes armed with a 3rd-Gen Core i7 processor, plenty of memory, and a quality SSD. The U2442F is as capable as a high-end desktop.
Celebrating Tahiti's "half birthday" last month, AMD relaunched its Radeon HD 7970 with a "GHz Edition" that increased the reference design's core clock speed from 925MHz to 1GHz with the intention of allowing the company to claim it offered the world's fastest GPU. But the festivities were short-lived for several reasons.
Now Gigabyte has taken matters into its own hands with what seems to be a far more interesting solution. Armed with five fans, nine heatpipes and a huge vapor chamber, one might consider the HD 7970 SOC to be overkill, and to that we say "hell yes!"
Although Intel's die shrink of Sandy Bridge isn't due until next week (Monday, rumors say), the company has long shipped Ivy Bridge's accompanying chipsets. It might seem odd to jump the gun on "next-gen" motherboards, but 7-series platforms are backwards compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, so users have actually been able to buy a Z77 motherboard and use it for a few weeks without Ivy Bridge.
After surveying Panther Point's spec sheet, we're itching to get a little more hands-on. Fortunately, we have four new Z77 motherboards in the shop and begging for attention, including the Asrock Z77 Extreme6, ECS Z77H2-AX, Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H-WB and Intel DZ77GA-70K.
AMD offers a valid alternative to its flagship GPU with the Radeon HD 7950, which is essentially a lower-specced and lower-priced version of the HD 7970. The HD 7950 is set at $419 for the 1536MB version, while the full 3072MB variant is $449. Although it's currently possible to find a 3GB model for $449, you can expect to pay closer to $500.
Gigabyte has redesigned the PCB and included an upgraded cooler on the WindForce 3 that is meant to lower temperatures and improve overclocking. Considering the HD 7970's respectable performance, we expect a solid showing from the HD 7950.
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...