Abit has a long history of producing top notch motherboards for overclockers and enthusiasts. Their new AW9D-MAX is designed for Intel's Core 2 platform using the i975X chipset. On the feature list there is everybody you could find useful: Dual Gigabit Ethernet, 8x SATA-II, Firewire and two PCI-Express x16 slots for your video cards. To make your life easier this board includes abit's proprietary UGuru technology. We test the board thoroughly to see if it can live up to the hype, especially when it comes to overclocking.
Art.Lebedev Optimus Mini Three is a very innovative little keyboard product. While the large price tag will make it appealing only to a limited number of customers, the price reflects a designer product. It offers a lot of functionality, but nothing you couldn't do without. The Optimus Mini Three is the ultimate gadget for the computer enthusiast, so the price will not be as important as the fun factor of the device.
The new ATI Radeon X1300 XT is based on the RV530 GPU core which is used on the X1600 series. That alone should bring quite a nice performance boost. On top of that Sapphire has added GDDR3 memory and a healthy clock increase. There is no need to run an overclocking software on your system, the increased clocks are stored in the BIOS. In our testing we saw a huge performance difference to the X1300 and almost no difference to the X1600 series.
The Akasa Mirage 62 can simply be described as the Hummer of PC cases - wide, big, black. The front looks sweet, but the interior looks even sweeter. Black interior and a mirror finish mainboard tray just ask for a window panel to be used. This case delivers everything you may need, from total access to your parts to all the space you could ever need - even for QuadSLI and 1kW power supply. So if you can afford the $150 price tag, this case is for you.
ATI's new X1900 XT 256 MB is designed to fit into the price range that is bound by the X1900 GT on the lower end and the X1900 XT 512 MB on the upper end. In order to bring the card's price down ATI chose to reduce the total memory size from 512 MB to 256 MB. Also a bit slower memory is used. We test how big the performance difference to the more expensive X1900 XTX with 512 MB is.
ATI's Radeon X1650 was introduced with the X1950 XTX and the X1300 XT. Just what is this card? As the name suggests, it is a little step up from the X1600 XT. With the same amount of pipelines, and slightly higher clocks, is there anything to look forward to with the X1650 Pro? No doubt, this card at least runs cooler - insured by a smaller manufacturing process. Does it bring balanced performance at a fair price? How does it fair compared to the X1300 XT? Most importantly, is it worth buying?
The Scythe Infinity is a huge high-performance CPU cooler using five heatpipes. The cooler comes with Scythe's ingenious mounting system which makes installation a breeze. Scythe has included mounting kits for the Sockets 939, AM2, 478 and 775. This means that this cooler is a future proof investment for users who are considering a Conroe S775 upgrade in the near future.
The Thermaltake Power Express 250W is a video card power supply specifically designed for the needs of current high-end video cards. When you have an older PSU you may not be able to run Crossfire or SLI because the PSU can not supply enough power for the video cards to run stable. When installed, the Power Express will supply 12V to your video card(s), taking a lot of strain off your main power supply.
At Intel Developer Forum 2006 in Prague a presentation explained many of the obstacles that need to be overcome on the long way to Terascale computing. A Terascale computer is a machine that can perform one trillion operations per second, more than 50 times of what today's high-end CPUs can achieve. But Terascale is about much more than just building a CPU that can go that fast...
Even though the OCZ PC2-8800 Gold are designed "for gamers" they still offer features that you would usually see only on high-end overclockers' memory. Being able to run at a default of 1100 MHz DDR2 is very impressive, even though it requires around 2.4V to do that. In our testing we could get this $450 memory kit to DDR2-726 at CL3 and DDR2-1178 at CL6. This shows that this kit has something for everybody, no matter if you overclock just a little, or need insane FSB speeds.
Sharkoon has an extensive line-up of external enclosures for all types of drives. The Sharkoon Swift-Case 3.5" Combo is made of shiny, brushed aluminum and gives the user the choice between USB 2.0 and Firewire. The case is incredibly solid and looks quite nice. We take a look if the installation and performance keeps us smiling with joy or frowning in frustration.
We take a look at Sharkoon's latest gaming mouse pad, which is only 1.4 mm high and can be rolled up to make transportation to LAN parties easier. The mat has a cloth top and uses foam at the bottom to make sure it's not slipping around on the table. At the end of the day the Sharkoon 1337 gaming mat which costs only $10 does not disappoint.
Serious gaming needs a serious mouse - The Logitech MX518 is sure to fulfil that requirement. At 1600 DPI and armed with eight buttons, it's sure to please even the most hardcore of gamers. Using Logitech's precision MX optical technology, the MX518 didn't miss a beat when it came to gaming, it took everything we threw at it with ease.
The Zalman HD135 Media PC case was designed to be low-profile, yet you can install full-height video card(s) in it without the need for a riser card. It is also possible to use a standard sized power supply and a regular optical drive. Space for storage is also plenty, you can stuff up to 6 HDDs in this case which is just 135mm high. The HD135 is made from all aluminum and is available in black and silver for a price of $299.
Thermaltake's Aqua RX R-1 is a waterblock for memory modules. Overclocking the memory, in most cases, is unavoidable when you want to reach a higher CPU speed. Sometimes, the memory might limit your CPU overclock, and that's when you start thinking about cooling your memory, to achieve even higher clocks. Watercooling memory is still in its infancy, but products capable of cooling the memory well are slowly making their way to the market.
If we could describe the XLCIO A380 which is identical to the A+Case Twin Engine with one word it would be: monstrous. Not because of looks, as it looks incredibly sleek. The case sports two huge 25 cm fans which light up and are a definitely a huge attraction at LAN parties. Big fans don't have to be loud - the included fan controllers allow you to fine tune the fan speed and noise as needed. Even at maximum speed the fan noise of this $110 case is barely audible.
The be Quiet Straightpower 700W is a high-quality power supply for power hungry gamers and overclockers. It sports features like two PCI-Express power connectors and an 8-pin CPU power connector. A temperature controlled fan helps keep the system noise level at a minimum. During testing we found out that this PSU's inside is identical to an OCZ PSU.
The Thermaltake Mozart TX case has a unique 7" drive bay which was designed for installation of this LCD screen. The LCD panel is hidden inside the case until activated, then it slides out driven by a motor. An additional feature is the integrated touchscreen which lets you use your PC just by pointing with a little pointing device on the screen. Even though its native resolution is not something that is common in the PC world, the display's great scaler can still achieve excellent video quality and well readable fonts.
QPAD is known to produce some of the best cloth based hybrid mats on the market. Their older QPAD LowSense mouse mat has been a great success because it offered excellent control and precision to gamers. Today we are reviewing the latest evolution of QPAD's cloth based hybrid mats, the QPAD|CT. It is a hybrid mat which basically means that it is a cloth mat with polymer coating. The special surface makes it more rugged and allows even less gliding resistance.
With the Katana Cu Scythe has delivered a very solid all copper cooler that has excellent cooling performance. It uses a 92mm fan with an integrated fan speed controller. When the fan speed is turned all the way down the noise is reduced to an inaudible 30% of full speed, yet temperatures under load are only increased by 3°C.
The Ultra Grid case does not only sport a great paint job, but includes two 12cm fans, a 500W power supply, a great door with magnetic locks and a fancy "Ultra" air duct. It even has space for 11 drives. We take a close look at the case & the included V-Series 500W power supply to figure out if the case has everything we look for when we pay a penny short of $150 or if it leaves a hurtful void in our wallet, wishing we have gotten more.
Watercooling a CPU or a graphics card is nothing out of the ordinary these days. With the arrival of Core 2 Duo, people have started to put emphasis on cooling their chipset too, in order to achieve higher overclocks. As if Thermaltake was expecting this, they released a new chipset block, the Aqua Brazing W3, designed to cool almost any chipset on today’s market.
SteelPad has been producing high quality mouse mats for years. Only recently they started to make cloth mats. Today we have on our testbench the SteelPad QcK Heavy which is the biggest mat in the lineup with a surface of 450 mm x 400 mm. Additionally the thickness has been increased to 6mm for a better experience on uneven surfaces.