review articles

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

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?

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Review: Free-to-play that's good

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Review: Free-to-play that's good

Fans of the original flower defense game were understandably miffed when they discovered the official follow-up would be launching exclusively on iOS, but what really worried folks was the "free-to-play" business. Luckily, Plants Vs. Zombies takes a different approach to in-app purchases than most mobile games.

Rather than alienating fans of the original game by locking content behind pay walls or dumbing-down gameplay for more casual players, Plants Vs. Zombies 2 is only going after players who lack the patience or skill to make it through the game on their own.

Leap Motion Review: Taking control into your own hands (kind of)

Leap Motion Review: Taking control into your own hands (kind of)

Leap Motion touts its controller as a new paradigm in human input devices, allowing users to wave, swipe and poke their way through a digital world otherwise meant for keyboards, mice and touchscreens.

The miniscule gadget barely measures larger than a USB flash drive, however inside the Leap you'll find two cameras and three infrared LEDs capable of tracking hand and finger movements in all three spatial dimensions. Making use of motion-sensing technology to interact with your computer is at least refreshing, if not magical.

A First Meet With the Table PC: Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27" All-in-One Review

A First Meet With the Table PC: Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27" All-in-One Review

With all of the attention that tablets, ultrabooks and hybrids have received following the release of Windows 8, you’d be forgiven to let slip from memory an entirely different class of computer: the all-in-one.

Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon embraces Windows 8's touch capabilities with a social twist - it moonlights as a Surface (the table, not the tablet) that can be used by the entire family for a "fun night in." The design is innovative and has a ton of potential on paper. But how does this translate to real world usage?

Corsair Obsidian 350DW Review: Fully Featured on a Budget

Corsair Obsidian 350DW Review: Fully Featured on a Budget

Branded the Obsidian 350D, the newcomer crams its more expensive sibling's features into an affordable microATX package and sports the same clean, black brushed-aluminum finish, handy tool-free design and innovative cable management.

While the base 350D is available for around $90, a second edition goes for $110 that adds a side window. So how does Corsair budget Obsidian fair? Read on and find out.

Nokia Lumia 925 Review: Windows Phone at its best, but is it enough?

Nokia Lumia 925 Review: Windows Phone at its best, but is it enough?

Enter the Lumia 925, Nokia’s latest flagship Windows Phone and answer to complaints regarding its predecessors' design. It ditches the thick polycarbonate shell, hefty slab of glass and space-consuming LCD display for a mostly aluminum body with an AMOLED screen.

In the process, the new Lumia has shed some weight, dropping to 139 grams and 8.5mm thick, giving it an all new breath of life. But are the changes too late? Is this the Lumia we should have had at the launch of Windows Phone 8?

Brix Mini PC Review: Gigabyte's Take On Small Form Factor Computing

Brix Mini PC Review: Gigabyte's Take On Small Form Factor Computing

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.

Lian Li D8000 HPTX: Double-sized chassis reviewed

Lian Li D8000 HPTX: Double-sized chassis reviewed

Lian Li's D8000 is also on the purposely huge HPTX form factor. As a point of reference, a standard ATX mid-tower supporting seven expansion slots generally has a 60L capacity while the big Cubitek HPTX-ICE and Lian Li PC-V2120 tout capacities of 79L and 88L.

With a capacity of 145L, the D8000 shatters that paradigm, offering 140% more room than a standard ATX case, which makes sense since the D8000 is essentially two full tower cases fused together.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Review

Lenovo's latest entrant in the hybrid marketplace brings full Windows 8 to the 11-inch form factor. The Lenovo Yoga 11S is described on the company’s website as a groundbreaking multimedia mini ultrabook, measuring just 11.6-inches, the convertible is a bit lighter than the Yoga 13 (although not by much) at 3.08 pounds.

What it lacks in size compared to the larger Yoga 13, however, is reflected in the price tag as it starts at just $750.

Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream: Titan-like performance for less

Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream: Titan-like performance for less

We've only previously seen water-cooled GTX 780 cards pushed this far. However, Palit's GTX 780 Super JetStream is no ordinary graphics card as its massive heatsink and three large fans keep its core cool when under stress -- a solution that allows the card to outpace the Titan, according to the manufacturer.

In our review we put those claims to the test, in addition to testing triple monitor resolutions in GTX 780 Super JetStream SLI cards, standard GTX 780 cards and on the almighty Titan.

ThinkPad Tablet 2 Review: Windows 8 Pro in True Tablet Form

ThinkPad Tablet 2 Review: Windows 8 Pro in True Tablet Form

When Apple's very first iPad hit the scene in 2010, their take on the "modern tablet" was destined to become ubiquitous: a thin, rigid slab of touchable electronics covered by a sheet of shiny Gorilla Glass. Following the iPad's resounding success, Apple made no apologies for designing their tablets as though they were giant smartphones -- or at the very least, something less than a full-fledged computer.

Consider this though: Windows 8 Pro on a tablet challenges this mindset.

Ouya: $99, Android-based Gaming Console Reviewed

Ouya: $99, Android-based Gaming Console Reviewed

The Ouya doesn't promise a brilliant future. It sells at $99 using a less than top-level Tegra 3 quad-core processor. As an Android device, it signals that it'll probably be displaced by a better iteration as chip prices go down. Ouya execs have said as much. There's no 10 year lifecycle on Ouya 1.0.

You get the Ouya for the now. You get it for the summer of 2013 and the fall. You get this to wedge it in the gaps of your gaming life. There are some good games, but not many, and they're hard to discover. The Ouya is a fascinating experiment and can be fun for those for whom $99 isn't much to plunk down.

SanDisk Aims High With Extreme II SSD, Reviewed

SanDisk Aims High With Extreme II SSD, Reviewed

The new SanDisk Extreme II features an in-house developed firmware which helps to set it apart from other SSDs using the same controller. Also of note, the second generation Extreme series has dumped the SandForce controller in favor of the new Marvell 88SS9187, the same controller used by the Crucial M500.

SanDisk is pricing the 240GB Extreme II competitively fetching around $230, right on target with the Vertex 450 and also in the neighborhood of the Samsung 840 Pro, which will remain a secondary focus throughout this review.

Company of Heroes 2 Review: More of the Same, Only Better

Company of Heroes 2 Review: More of the Same, Only Better

Company of Heroes was a game for true armchair generals. There was no resource collecting, no tank rushes, none of the hallmarks of other games that look like they're about a clash of armies but are really little but mouse-driven sprint races.

Seven years is a long time between wars, though, and now that we have a sequel, people are expecting a lot from this game, the first time Company of Heroes has ditched Western Europe for the Eastern Front. So what's new?

GeForce GTX 760 Review: Mainstream Performance

GeForce GTX 760 Review: Mainstream Performance

Nvidia continues to roll out the GeForce 700 series this week with the GTX 760 -- the generation's first truly mainstream product at $250. In other words, the GTX 760 has the potential to be today's most relevant option for someone who needs a new graphics card.

Assuming Nvidia doesn't throw us a curve ball, we expect the GTX 760 to deliver performance comparable to that of the HD 7950 with a price tag that's closer to HD 7870s -- a situation that would invariably benefit anyone shopping for a mid-range GPU.

In Win D-Frame Case Review

In Win D-Frame Case Review

Before last year, no In Win cases really caught our attention. That changed when we spotted the open-air X-Frame midway through 2012. Following the X-Frame's success, In Win introduced the H-Frame -- a similarly unique chassis with a feature list that includes eleven diamond-cut aluminum plates.

In Win's latest open-air chassis has to be their finest creation yet. The D-Frame is a limited edition aluminum pipe and tempered glass case that is unique and equally pricey. DIY'ers will be pleased nonetheless.

Haswell Debuts: Intel Core i7-4770K Review

Haswell Debuts: Intel Core i7-4770K Review

Regular TechSpot readers will have no doubt spotted several mentions of Haswell on our front page this year. In the past few months we have covered everything from model names to performance and battery life claims. A key focus has been Haswell's graphics, with rumors suggesting its performance is set to be 2 to 3 times that of current HD 4000 integrated graphics.

So what is Haswell exactly? It is Intel’s 4th generation Core architecture which will see a major refresh of the entire Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 product lineup in 2013. Whereas last year’s Ivy Bridge was a "tick" release, Haswell is a tock and traditionally that's meant a more significant advance forward.

GeForce GTX 770 Review: Adding Value to High-End GFX?

GeForce GTX 770 Review: Adding Value to High-End GFX?

Having taken the covers off the GeForce GTX 780 a week ago, Nvidia is ready to release their next part in the GeForce 700 series. Earlier rumors indicated that the GeForce GTX 770's specifications would be much like a GTX 680 on steroids, and as it turns out that's exactly what it is.

The GTX 770 features the fastest GDDR5 memory we have ever seen at 7GHz. Memory at that clock rate is good for a peak bandwidth of 224GB/s, 16% more than the GTX 680. Therefore, technically if you could overclock a GTX 680 well enough you could create a GTX 770.

AMD A4-5000 Review: The affordable ultraportable APU

AMD A4-5000 Review: The affordable ultraportable APU

In 2006 AMD announced 'Fusion', a project aimed to develop a system on a chip that combined a CPU and GPU on a single die. Fast forward to this day, AMD has taken things a step further with Kabini, the first ever quad-core x86-based SoC.

AMD are releasing their first Kabini based processors today with the launch of the A6-5200 and the A4-5000. The A4-5000 that we are reviewing features four Jaguar cores clocked at 1.5GHz, a total L2 cache of 2MB, and the Radeon HD 8330 GPU on-die.

GeForce GTX 780 Review: The Titan Descendant

GeForce GTX 780 Review: The Titan Descendant

With the GTX Titan Nvidia showed just how much more complex and powerful their current generation 28nm GPU could be without putting the TDP rating through the roof. It also meant that Nvidia could move to the next generation mainstream GPUs without having to completely redesign their architecture for the GeForce 700 series and that is exactly what they have done.

The new GeForce GTX 780 is based on a similar, albeit slightly cut down version of the Titan GPU, managing to keep many of the features that make the $1,000 graphics card great, such as the 384-bit memory bus.

Metro: Last Light Review

Metro: Last Light Review

The Metro series is set some years after nuclear war has ruined the surface of the Earth and put an end to civilization as we know it. In Russia, survivors have retreated to the Metro, re-forging a bleak semi-existence in the tunnels beneath the city. This is the sort of game that mentions, in its opening cinematic, the very real possibility that God is dead.

Last Light assumes that players got the "bad ending" in Metro 2033 and took the option to blast the entire population of "Dark Ones" into oblivion. The subsequent discovery of a single surviving Dark One sets the plot of Last Light in motion.

Gigabyte U2442F 14-inch Ultrabook Review

Gigabyte U2442F 14-inch Ultrabook Review

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.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon review: Retro shooter goodness

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon review: Retro shooter goodness

"The game is stupid," Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon creative director Dean Evans proudly proclaimed during a recent press event — not foolish pride, but pride in foolishness. Ubisoft has done great and terrible things with the game engine, transforming it into a nightmare world, where wild boars roam the purple plains, backs covered with neon graffiti.

Blood Dragon's story unfolds through a series of 2D cutscenes that wouldn't be out-of-place in an NES-era adventure. And when those scenes end, it's into a day-glo nightmare from the early days of MTV.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Review: Still Android's Best?

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Review: Still Android's Best?

It's good to be king, especially when Samsung knows that it reached the top position after some early missteps. Now comes the hard part -- staying on top. If the Galaxy S III was Samsung's crowning achievement, the Galaxy S 4 is the first defense of the throne.

Arriving on the heels of one rival's flagship and a few months before the expected unveiling of another's, the Galaxy S 4 will prove whether Samsung is continuing its trend of advancement or becoming just as predictable as the old guard that it mocked. So naturally we must ask: just how good is the Samsung Galaxy S 4?

AMD Radeon HD 7990 Review: Dual GPU Comeback

AMD Radeon HD 7990 Review: Dual GPU Comeback

The current generation AMD GPU series collectivelly known as "Southern Islands" were released over a year ago, with the beginning of its rollout in January 2012. Sixteen months later, the Radeon HD 7000 series is still very much relevant, as AMD continues to release new models under the same GPU family.

Although it's been over a year since AMD launched the Radeon HD 7970, we are just getting an official dual-GPU version. The Radeon HD 7990 takes a pair of 7970 GPUs with overclocked cores and memory, packing 8.2 TFLOPS computer power, 6GB GDDR5 and an upgraded PEX bridge to connect the two GPUs.