P. 1
Computer Power User - June 2012

Computer Power User - June 2012

|Views: 172|Likes:
Published by experio

More info:

Published by: experio on May 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

07/17/2013

pdf

text

original

JUNE 2012

|
VOL 12 ISSUE 06
58
Increase Your Pixel Proficiency
Video Card Buyer’s Guide
72
The Professionals
Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide
Did you fnd the hidden CPU logo on our cover? Turn the page to fnd the answer.
Copyright 2012 by Sandhills Publishing Company. CPU Computer Power User is a registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in
Computer Power User is strictly prohibited without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 (ISSN 1536-7568) CPU Computer Power User USPS 020-801 is published
monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85673, Lincoln, NE 68501. Subscriber Services: (800) 733-3809. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE and
additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Computer Power User, P.O. Box 82545, Lincoln, NE 68501.
24
AMD Performance
Edition DDR3-1600
26
Aerocool Shark Fan
Evil Green Edition
28
Plextor M3 Pro 128GB
33
Patriot Memory
PBO Alpine
38
ZOTAC ZBOX nano
XS AD11 Plus
Frontside
8 What’s Happening
16 Digital Economy
Heavy Gear
17 Panther Point Meets Ivy Bridge
A Bevy Of Z77 Motherboards, Raced & Paced
23 Intel Core i7-3770K
24 AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600
25 ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme III
26 Aerocool Shark Fan Evil Green Edition
28 Plextor M3 Pro 128GB
29 Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger
30 Featured On The Cover:
Intel 3rd Generation Core Processors
32 Patriot Memory Wildfire 480GB
33 Patriot Memory PBO Alpine
34 Deepcool By Logisys Gamer Storm
36 Enermax DreamBass Genie AP001
37 TRENDnet TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps
Powerline AV Adapter
38 ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus
Hard Hat Area
PC MODDER
40 Mad Reader Mod
Station 6
44 Advanced Q&A Corner
48 X-ray Vision: Powerful Power Supply
LEPA Takes Top Wattage Crown With
Release Of G1600
51 White Paper: Intel’s Ivy Bridge
Meet The Tick That Thinks It’s A Tock
JUNE 2012
|
VOL 12 ISSUE 06
92
Gotcha.
Here it is.
96
JUNE 2012
|
VOL 12 ISSUE 06
Loading Zone
84 The Bleeding Edge Of Software
Inside The World Of Betas
86 Up To Speed
Upgrades That’ll Keep You Humming Along
87 Microsoft Windows Store
We Get Up Close & Personal
92 Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12
93 Innovative Solutions Advanced
Uninstaller Pro 10
Empty Loop Unlocker
94 Software Tips & Projects
Own Your Data
Digital Living
96 At Your Leisure
PC & Console Games & Gear
What’s Cooking
102 Technically Speaking
An Interview With OWC’s Larry O’Connor
105 Under Development
A Peek At What’s Brewing In The Laboratory
Back Door
110 Q&A With Mark Leathem
Kingston’s VP Of Corporate Marketing
On HyperX
Infinite Loops
Strange stats and other oddball items from
computing’s periphery 95
Customer Service
(For questions about your
subscription or to place an
order or change an address.)
customer-service@cpumag.com
Toll Free: (800) 733-3809
Fax: (402) 479-2193
To make a payment
Computer Power User
P.O. Box 85673
Lincoln, NE 68501-9507
General inquiries
Computer Power User
P.O. Box 82545
Lincoln, NE 68501-9507
Hours
Mon. - Fri.: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CST)
Online Customer Service &
Subscription Center
www.cpumag.com
Web Services
(For questions about
our Web site.)
webhelp@cpumag.com
(800) 733-3809
Authorization For Reprints
Toll Free: (800) 247-4880
Fax: (402) 479-2104
Editorial Staff
editor@cpumag.com
Fax: (402) 479-2104
131 W. Grand Drive
Lincoln, NE 68521
Subscription Renewals
Toll Free: (800) 733-3809
Fax: (402) 479-2193
www.cpumag.com
Advertising Staff
Toll Free: (800) 247-4880
Fax: (402) 479-2104
131 W. Grand Drive
Lincoln, NE 68521
WA T C H I N G T H E C H I P S F A L L
Here is the pricing
information for
various AMD and
Intel CPUs.
* As of April 2012
** Manufacturer’s
estimated price
per 1,000
CPU Released Original Price Last Month’s Price Online Retail Price*
AMD FX-8150 Black Edition Eight-Core 10/12/2011 $245** $249.99 $239.99
AMD FX-8120 Black Edition Eight-Core 10/12/2011 $205** $189.99 $189.99
AMD FX-6100 Black Edition Six-Core 10/12/2011 $165** $149.99 $149.99
AMD A8-3870K Black Edition Quad-Core 12/20/2011 $135** $139.99 $139.99
AMD A8-3850 Quad-Core 7/3/2011 $135** $129.99 $119.99
AMD A6-3670K Black Edition Quad-Core 12/20/2011 $115** $109.99 $119.99
AMD A6-3650 Quad-Core 7/3/2011 $115** $109.99 $109.99
AMD FX-4100 Quad-Core 10/12/2011 $115** $109.99 $109.99
Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition 11/14/2011 $990** $1,049.99 $1,039.99
Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition 2/14/2011 $999** $1,029.99 $1,029.99
Intel Core i7-3930K 11/14/2011 $555** $599.99 $599.99
Intel Core i7-2700K 10/24/2011 $332** $339.99 $339.99
Intel Core i7-2600K 1/9/2011 $317** $324.99 $319.99
Intel Core i7-2600 1/9/2011 $294** $299.99 $299.99
Intel Core i7-3820 2/13/2012 $285** $319.99 $309.99
Intel Core i5-2550K 2/8/2012 $225** $229.99 $229.99
Intel Core i5-2500K 1/9/2011 $216** $224.99 $219.99
Intel Core i5-2500 1/9/2011 $205** $209.99 $209.99
Intel Core i3-2130 9/4/2011 $138** $149.99 $149.99
Intel Core i3-2120 2/20/2011 $138** $127.99 $127.99
PNY Launches The XLR8
GeForce GTX 680
PNY’s XLR8-branded graphics card and memory
products generally need no introduction, but PNY’s
latest piece of XLR8 gear is based on NVIDIA’s GeForce
GTX 680, a 28nm Kepler card that includes features
such as GPU Boost (dynamic clock speed optimization),
Adaptive Vertical Sync Mode (seamless behind-the-scenes
vsync adjustment), Single GPU 3D Vision Surround,
and so on. Te XLR8 680 also comes with a very handy
accessory: a PNY 16-foot Smart Active High Speed
HDMI Cable, so you can hook your new 680 up to a
monitor or an HDTV for 1080p gaming right out of the
box. Like all of PNY’s XLR8 cards, the XLR8 GeForce
GTX 680 comes with free 24-hour tech support and
PNY’s standard one-year warranty, which you can extend
to a Limited Lifetime Warranty by registering your card
within 90 days of purchase at PNY.com. ■
Carbon Nanotubes Continue To Amaze
To paraphrase Ronald Joseph Aaron Burgundy, carbon nanotubes are
kind of a big deal. Many believe these amazing bits of nanoscale tech
hold the keys to future advancements in several scientifc areas, and
researchers at the University of Maryland recently found another reason
why. As you know, the transistors that make up current CPUs are limited
by how much heat they generate. Tis heat is the result of a phenomenon
known as “Joule heating,” which occurs when electric current running
through a metal wire causes electrons to bounce of of the atoms that
make up the wire. Tese vibrations create heat, which is why you need a
CPU cooler for your PC to run. But Kamal Baloch and John Cumings
of the U of M’s A. James Clark School of Engineering have discovered
that although carbon nanotubes conduct electricity like nanoscale metal
wires, they do not manifest Joule heating. The nanotubes in their
experiments stayed cool, causing the silicon nitride substrate beneath to
heat up instead, possibly via electrical felds generated by the electrons
travelling through the nanotubes. Te research duo calls this “remote
Joule heating” and suggests that it could change the way we think about
building computers. “A transistor that doesn’t dissipate energy within
itself as heat, like the nanotubes in our experiment, could be a game-
changer,” Baloch says. “Tis new mechanism of thermal transport would
allow you to engineer your thermal conductor and electrical conductor
separately, choosing the best properties for each without requiring the
two to be the same material occupying the same region of space.” ■
8 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Corsair Adds Cases
To Its Vengeance Line
Corsair’s Vengeance line of gaming products started
with Vengeance memory kits and then expanded
to include Vengeance-brand mice, keyboards, and
headsets. Now there’s a new member of the family:
the Vengeance C70 gaming PC case. Te C70 is a
midtower that Corsair designed especially for gamers
who occasionally (or frequently, as the case may be)
haul their PCs to LAN parties and the like: Its steel
construction and built-in carry handles mean you
can move it easily and without worrying for the safety
of your expensive components. Corsair built it for
maximum airfow (it comes with three 120mm fans and has
mounts for a total of 10 fans altogether), and its side panels are
equipped with quick-release latches for easy access when adding,
swapping, or readjusting hardware. Speaking of hardware, the
C70 has eight expansion slots (quad GPUs, anyone?), room for
long graphics cards, tool-less drive bays that you can pull out
if you want, and room enough for two 240mm radiators. You
can get the C70 in one of three colors (Arctic White, Gunmetal
Black, and Military Green) at an MSRP of $139.99. ■
Put The Ninja Cloud
To Work For You
Lots of interesting projects
have hit their funding goals
and become reality thanks to
the Kickstarter microfunding
site, and one of the coolest
gadgets we’ve seen is the Ninja
Block (ninjablocks.com). Ninja
Blocks are tiny, web-connected
devices that contain an assortment of sensors and take
simple commands from you to carry out very specific
functions. For example, the company’s site says, you can
tell your Ninja Block to take a picture of your front lawn
and save it to Dropbox when it detects movement there.
Or, you can have it send a notifcation to your phone when
your UPS or FedEx guy leaves a package at your door.
Want to know when people from your Friends List are on
Xbox Live or Steam? A Ninja Block can detect such status
reports and let you know. A standard Ninja Block comes
with an Ethernet port and built-in accelerometer and
thermometer; you can order such extras as a webcam, Wi-
Fi, and sensors for light, humidity, distance, and motion
on the site, thereby making your Ninja Block exponentially
more useful. Either way, you can start dreaming up tasks
for your Ninja Block to solve right out of the box, and
the Ninja Block’s easy-to-use web browser interface and
powerful open-source software will do the rest. ■
MSI Unveils
Trio Of Power
Edition Radeon Cards
MSI recently announced that it had three new additions to its
Radeon HD video card line: the R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/
OC, the R7770 Power Edition 1GD5/OC, and the R7750 Power
Edition 1GD5/OC. As you probably noticed, the phrase “Power
Edition” is a recurring theme here; these cards are all equipped
to handle considerable overclocking via MSI’s Afterburner
performance app. Using Afterburner’s Triple Overvoltage
setting, the new MSI Radeons will provide up to 45% boosts
to performance. The cards also come with advanced cooling
features such as MSI’s Dust Removal Technology, which runs
fans backward for 30 seconds on boot up to clear dust from the
fan blades. The R7850 Power Edition incorporates a custom
Twin Frozr IV cooler, while the R7770 and R7750 are the frst
cards to feature MSI’s TransTermal design, which lets you add
a second fan to the card’s standard single Propeller Blade fan for
increased airfow and lower temperatures. All three cards boast
MSI’s Military Class III components, which meet MIL-STD-
810G military specs. No pricing info was available at press time. ■
CPU / June 2012 9
TRENDnet Is In Ur Electrics
TRENDnet has been banging the gong for Powerline
networking for many years now, and with good reason.
Powerline connections are a godsend for lots of people for whom
Wi-Fi just won’t get it done thanks to too much neighborhood
interference, structural issues, or other problems. And now
TRENDnet has launched a Powerline adapter with a top end
speed of 500Mbps; this bad boy will
deliver your packets anywhere in your
house where there’s an outlet, and at
blistering speeds. The TPL-405E has
an MSRP of $109.99, and is especially
adept at enabling high-speed video
streaming throughout your domicile. It comes equipped with
four Gigabit Ethernet ports and LED displays that provide
activity and troubleshooting information. Te adaptor is, of
course, always on, but it has a power-saving mode that lets it
lower power use by as much as 70% when not in use. Te TPL-
405E is backed by TRENDnet’s limited three-year warranty. ■
Enermax
OSTROG The
Most Case
Ever For
Under 40
Bucks?
We’re not sure as of yet,
but the company’s newest
midtower, the OSTROG
3250, has an MSRP of
$39.99 and comes with
internal USB 3.0 header
support, tool-less drive
bays, up to 174mm
clearance for a CPU cooler,
and (if you remove the upper of two hard drive cages)
more than 16 inches of horizontal clearance for high-end
graphics cards. Te case has a nice fat black fnish that
extends throughout its interior, and comes in four variants,
each with a diferent color of mesh running along the front
panel’s bezel—this comes in white, black, red, or blue. Te
OSTROG 3250 also comes with a CPU cutout and cable
management features built into its motherboard tray, a
PSU mount with vibration-dampening rubber pads and
a removable dust flter, mounts for as many as seven fans
(one 120mm rear fan is included), and support for ATX
and Micro ATX boards. ■
Cooler Master Adds New
& Improved Sentinel To
Its CM Storm Line
Te latest CM Storm mouse from Cooler Master may look
similar to the Sentinel Advance, but a quick look under the
hood shows that appearances can be deceiving. Where the
original Sentinel Advance maxed out at 5600dpi (which is
nothing to sneeze at), the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II is
equipped with the newest Avago sensor available (the ADNS-
9800) and can track from 200 to 8,200dpi. (You can adjust
resolution on the fy in 200dpi increments as needed.) Te
Sentinel Advance II also weighs a hair less than its predecessor
at just under a third of a pound, but includes the same weight
fne-tuning options via its fve 4.5g removable weights. It also
provides similar customization options via the programmable
multicolor LED inside the case and behind the scroll wheel.
Te mouse’s onboard Sentinel-X 128KB memory lets you
store your profles and macros, and the eight programmable
buttons can provide functionality of up to nine more virtual
buttons using various combinations. ■
Hardware Mol e
10 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
NCSoft Offering Early Guild Wars
2 Access With Pre-purchase
Anyone who’s ever been involved with an MMO knows that
one of the biggest challenges can be coming up with cool
character and guild names that haven’t been taken. (We’re
looking at you, xXLegolas24Xx.) That’s why one of the
coolest perks tied to a pre-purchase of NCSoft’s upcoming
Guild Wars 2, aside from access to all beta weekend events
(starting on April 10 and running up to the launch in June),
is a three-day head start. Tat’s right, if you purchase the game
now at buy.guildwars2.com or a participating retailer, you
get to jump into the GW2 world three full days ahead of the
general, non-preordering public, which in turn means that you
have a much better chance to stake your claim to the character
and guild names that you fancy than if you wait and take your
chances post-launch. Te pre-purchase program includes three
options: the $59.99 Digital Edition, which is a download of
the standard game; the $79.99 Digital Deluxe Edition, which
includes a number of in-game bonuses; and the $149.99
Collector’s Edition, which includes all of the Digital Deluxe
Edition stuf plus a 10-inch Rytlock fgurine, fve prints and
an art portfolio along with a custom art frame, and a Best of
Guild Wars 2 soundtrack CD. ■
Windows 8 To Come
In Just Four Versions
Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc posted on his Windows blog on
April 16 that Windows 8 will come in four versions, a nice
change from previous releases that included as many as six.
Tese will include Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows
RT, and Windows 8 Enterprise. Windows 8 and Windows 8
Pro, LeBlanc wrote, will be the primary consumer versions of
the OS, designed to run on “PCs and tablets powered by x86
processors (both 32- and 64-bit) . . .” Pro will improve on the
vanilla ofering by adding enhanced features for enthusiasts
and business and tech professionals, such as encryption,
virtualization, and network management. Windows 8
Pro will also come with an “economical” option to add
Windows Media Center. Windows RT (aka Windows on
ARM, or WOA) will not be a retail package but will be
preinstalled on ARM-based devices and will include special
“touch-optimized” versions of the key Ofce apps. Windows
Enterprise will be Win8 Pro plus additional IT management
and security features. Oh yeah—LeBlanc also officially
confrmed that “Windows 8” will be the new OS’ name. (No
word at press time on pricing or availability.) ■
Flash
Player
Updates,
Malware
& You
If you’ve gotten to the point where you click through the frequent
dialogs prompting you to update Adobe’s ubiquitous, handy
Flash Player plug-in without even stopping to glance at them,
you’re not alone. We’ve done it plenty of times, and we wouldn’t
be surprised to learn that most people do this almost refexively.
Tat’s why the Flash Player update dialogs are a perfect tool for
social engineers to exploit so they can load up your machine
with malware. Te recent spate of Flashback infections on Macs
should serve as a reminder to PC and Mac users alike that it’s
best to view such update reminders with a critical eye, especially
if they appear just as you’re clicking a tantalizing link from your
favorite social networking site, as happened to many folks back
in 2008. Adobe’s site ofers direct downloads of the most current
version of Flash Player, Acrobat Reader, and so on, so if you’re
ever unsure about the validity of a prompt to update, disallow the
update and visit Adobe.com to see whether you have the current
version. If not, download it from the source. ■
Sof t ware Short s
12 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Surf TV On Boxfsh
We’ve all grown accustomed to amazing web search technology
that can help us fnd mentions of people, places, and things,
from weighty, mainstream topics like Brangelina to more
obscure things like, you know, Chicago Cubs World Series
victories. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a similar search
engine for TV so you could fnd references to specifc things
and people in real time? That’s what the folks behind the
Boxfsh beta site thought (beta.boxfsh.com), and now there
is. You can enter a search word or phrase on Boxfsh and it
will quickly retrieve a list of current, appropriate references,
including the network and show where the reference has
occurred. You’re probably thinking, “What manner of devilry is
this?” Actually, it’s quite simple, but then most really good ideas
are. Boxfsh grabs close captioning streams from all over TV
land and scans it for your search. Now you’re wondering why
you never thought of this, and we have no answer for that. ■
One In Five Adults Not Online
Te Pew Internet & American Life Project began tracking Internet usage statistics
in 2000, and at the time the organization found that there were several factors that
clearly correlated with whether people were online. Age, race, household income,
education, and other factors were pretty solid predictors of a survey respondent’s
likely Internet use. Some of those factors are still in play, although some, like race,
have become less efective as predictors. In a survey of 2,260 U.S. adults (age 18
and up), Pew found that senior citizens, survey respondents who preferred to
take the survey in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school
education, and respondents from households with less than $30,000 annual
incomes were the least likely to have Internet access. In many cases, however, Pew
found that limited access was less of an issue than perceived relevance. Half of those
surveyed who indicated they don’t use the Internet said they weren’t interested
because they didn’t think the Internet was relevant to them. (For some perspective,
it’s important to note that the majority of those respondents also told Pew that they
had never used the Internet.) ■
Si t e Seei ng
Google Drive
Takes A Bow
Have you ever used
Google Docs or Picasa
to store your stuf in “the cloud”? Have
you ever used an online file storage/
sharing/synchronization service like
Dropbox? If you said yes to either or
both of these questions, you might
be interested to know that Google
launched its new Google Drive service
just a few days before this issue went
to press. Google Drive makes it easy
to access your fles from any Internet-
connected device; just drag and drop
your fles into the Google Drive folder
created when you install the client, and
those files are instantly available and
up-to-date. Google gives you 5GB of
storage space gratis. For those of you
who require more, you can pony up
$2.49 per month and bump your
Drive real estate up to 25GB, $4.99
per month for 100GB, or $49.99 per
month for 1TB. As with any online
storage service, it’s a good idea to check
the terms of service before you sign up
so you’ll know what sort of fles you feel
comfortable storing there. ■
CPU / June 2012 13
Job Of The Month
The comics industry is in peril. Print sales have been in decline for years. Comic book shops are
an endangered species. Are you the digital superhero who can help the industry migrate to a new
age of apps, tablet and smartphone editions, and interactive comics before it’s too late? Marvel
Entertainment (yes, the company behind “The Avengers”) needs a Web Application Developer who
can help it craft web and mobile experiences from its many comics and character franchises. You
will be working with the guys who make the comics and who generate new generations of apps.
Marvel recently introduced comics that trigger augmented-reality enhancements on smartphones
and apps that animate the comics narrative. To do your part in making a post-print future for comics,
you will need fve years of experience with web services like SOAP and with the PHP and LAMP
environments. And you should know what it means to make digital services millions of people use
each month. Yup, the print experience may be on the wane, but mobs of fan boys are focking to new
digital experiences. Excelsior!
E-Book Reading Escalates Sharply in Two Years
The proliferation of dedicated e-ink book readers and now multipurpose tablets has had a profound effect
on reading habits, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study. As of late 2011, 84% of those
who had read a book “yesterday” when asked are using print books while 15% are using an e-book, up
from 95% using print and only 4% on e-books in June 2010.
22.2% I do not use a social network
40.2% Quit/withdraw my application
and fnd a different job
10.9% Hand them over –
I need the job
10.5% Edit my social media profles
frst, then hand over my
passwords
16.1% Delete my social media pages
If An Employer
Asked You For
Your Social Media
Passwords, What
Would You Do?
Following reports that some prospective
employers were asking applicants for
access to their social profles, American
Pulse asked more than 3,500 survey
panelists how they would react.
Turning On
The Second Screen
According to a recent survey conducted by
Nielsen, about 88% of tablet owners report using
their devices while watching TV in the last month,
while 86% of smartphone owners say they are
consulting the “second screen” during TV time.
bit.ly/IxfpvJ
21%
Percent of Americans who have read
an e-book in the last year
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
32.3%
Percent of mobile customers playing
mobile games
(comScore)
66%
Percent of people under age 30 who access
their email on mobile phones
(Constant Contact)
55
Number of U.S households
that own at least one
Apple product
(CNBC)
M
I
L
L
I
O
N
Frequency Tablets Smartphones
Several Times 26% 27%
A Day
Once a Day 19% 14%
Several Times 24% 23%
A Week
Several Times 13% 13%
A Month
Once a Month 7% 9%
Or Less
Never 12% 14%
16 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
SATA ports. Here again, most vendors
also added a couple extra 6Gbps SATA
connectors. In terms of memory, standard
Z77 chipsets will support DDR3 modules
up to 1,600MHz, and it operates dual-
channel configurations, rather than the
quad-channel setup found in Intel’s X79
chipset. 3rd Generation Intel Core i7/i5
processors can utilize Intel new XMP 1.3
profles for a quick way to bring the RAM
up to its rated performance.
Overall, the Z77 chipset offers a
number of incremental upgrades and a
few new features, which make it a good
choice for those who want a motherboard
to take full advantage of their Ivy Bridge
processor. In our roundup, we’ll examine
the diferent additions that each vendor
has provided to enhance the Z77 chipset.
For instance, nearly all vendors added
LucidLogix Virtu MVP Technology,
Of course, the Z77 also supports the
new HD Graphics 4000 found in several
of Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs. A step up,
naturally, from HD Graphics 3000,
this latest on-chip GPU operates at a
maximum frequency of 1,350MHz and
supports DirectX 11. Intel also indicates
that its 3rd Generation processors support
the spanning of your Windows Desktop
across up to three displays.
Panther Point also provides you with
built-in USB 3.0 connectivity, which
wasn’t found on the Z68 chipset. Z77
natively offers four USB 3.0 ports and
10 USB 2.0 ports. In our roundup, we
found that most vendors opted to install
third-party USB 3.0 ports, as well as
front-panel headers, to give you more
ways to connect USB 3.0 devices. The
stock Z77 configuration features two
6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps
T
he Z77 chipset is Intel’s update of the
Z68 platform, so the target audience
includes both mainstream users and
performance enthusiasts. Key technology
upgrades in the Z77 chipset, compared
to its Z68 predecessor, include standard
support for Intel’s Rapid Start and Smart
Connect technologies. Rapid Start is a
feature that captures a snapshot of your
PC’s open apps and saves the data to an
SSD (or flash memory), which allows you
to suspend the computer at nearly zero
power. When you wake the system, Intel
indicates that the snapshot will let you
return to work after only five seconds.
Smart Connect is somewhat similar in
that it can update web-based content
(including email, social media, and
cloud services) while the system is asleep,
meaning everything’s current when you
resume your system.
Architecture Upgrades
Te Z77 chipset, code-named Panther
Point, features an Intel LGA1155 socket
and provides support for both Sandy
Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. Like its
Z68 predecssor, the Z77 chipset allows
for CPU overclocking and supports Intel
Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading.
Dedicated graphics capabilities are the
same as Z68, with 16 PCI-E 3.0 graphics
lanes; Intel updated the Z77 to use a
PCI-E 3.0 interface rather than the Z68’s
PCI-E 2.0 interface. Dual-GPU setups
will split into two x8 PCI-E lanes, and a
triple-GPU system will split one of those
x8 connections to two x4 connections.
Panther Point
Meets Ivy Bridge
A Bevy Of Z77 Motherboards, Raced & Paced
DZ77GA-70K
$240 | Intel
www.intel.com
CPU / June 2012 17
deliver precise levels of power to your
CPU, VTT, processor graphics, and
memory. Te digital controller array also
works with GIGABTYE’s 3D Power
Utility that gives you control over things
like OVP (overvoltage protection) and
PWM frequencies.
The rear I/O panel of the GA-
Z77X-UD3H provides you with six
USB 3.0 ports and two 6Gbps eSATA
ports, so you’ll have a number of fast
transfer options. Video outputs for
the processor graphics include HDMI,
DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA. The GA-
Z77X-UD3H supports 7.1-channel
surround sound, and with buil t-in
HDMI, S/PDIF, and Di spl ayPor t
connections, there are plenty of ways to
get it to your surround-sound system.
For internal headers, you’ll find a USB
3.0 header, two USB 2.0 headers, and
a TPM (Trusted Platform Module)
header, which can store cryptography
keys. There are six SATA ports, and
the top two provide you with 6Gbps
speeds. We’ll note that if you choose to
add a mini PCI-E SSD to the mSATA
port, the board will shut off the 3Gbps
port 5.
GIGABYTE lays out the board with
overclockers in mind. Onboard voltage
read points let you see real-time power
readings, and onboard power and reset
buttons provide you with quick power
that use the PCI-E x1 or PCI slots,
because you’ll have room to install
them around the graphics cards. Intel
also offers a variety of I/O headers
along the bottom of the motherboard.
There are two USB 3.0 headers, three
USB 2.0 headers, a FireWire header,
and an S/PDIF header.
To handle your SATA devices, the
DZ77GA-70K provides you with four
6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps
SATA ports. The four 3Gbps SATA
ports are sandwi ched between the
6Gbps SATA ports. Another thi ng
we like about the design of Intel’s
DZ77GA-70K are the four fan power
connectors, whi ch are wel l -spaced
ar ound t he mot her board. Int el ’s
benchmarks were si mi l ar to al l of
the others in our roundup, but what
really sets this board apart is the well
thought-out design and variety of extra
features and I/O options provided.
GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H
With the GA-Z77X-UD3H, GIGA-
BYTE includes an mSATA slot where
you can install a low-capacity SSD that
can work with Intel’s Smart Response
and Intel’s Rapid Start technologies to
improve your PC’s responsiveness.
GIGABYTE also indicates that the GA-
Z77X-UD3H ofers a completely digital
PWM controller, which is designed to
which essentially utilizes the processor’s
integrated GPU to remove redundant
rendering from your dedicated GPU.
As always, we put the various Z77
motherboard through our collection
of ri gorous benchmarks. Our test
system consisted of an Intel Core i7-
3770K processor, Thermaltake’s Frio
CPU cool er, two ZOTAC GeForce
GTX 580s, 16GB of G.Skill Ripjaws
memory (DDR3-1600MHz), and a
128GB Crucial RealSSD C300—all
of whi ch were housed i n Corsai r’s
Graphite Series 600T.
Intel DZ77GA-70K
This is Intel’s newest Extreme Series
motherboard. The DZ77GA-70K in-
cl udes al l ki nds of extra goodi es,
including a Bluetooth receiver, Wi-Fi
adapter, and USB 3. 0 front-panel
module. With the DZ77GA-70K, Intel
also has introduced a new version of its
Visual BIOS that is designed to let you
more quickly configure speeds for your
processor, memory, and graphics.
The DZ77GA- 70K’s r ear I / O
panel provides you with four USB 3.0
ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and one
6Gbps eSATA port. We’ll note that
the 6Gbps eSATA port was a rarity
among the boards we tested. Another
helpful feature are the two fast charging
(yellow ports) USB 2.0 ports, which
is perfect for connecting and charging
peri pheral s such as a smartphone
or tabl et. Compared to other Z77
boards, there are fewer video outputs
(only an HDMI port), but we suspect
most DZ77GA-70K buyers will plan
on investing in a dedicated graphics
card, anyway.
Speaking of graphics, the DZ77GA-
70K offers two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots.
You’l l al so find two PCI-E 2. 0 x1
slots (located above and below the top
PCI-E x16 slot), two legacy PCI slots
(located above and below the second
PCI-E x16 slot), and one PCI-E 2.0
x4 slot found at the bottom of the
board. The spacing of the slots makes it
convenient for those with add-in cards
GA-Z77X-UD3H
$169.99
GIGABYTE
www.gigabyte.us
18 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
MSI provides you with lots of bun-
dled software, including Lucid’s Virtu
MVP and THX TruStudio PRO. MSI
exclusives include OC Genie II (to access
overclocking settings in Windows), MSI
Super Charger (lets you boost power to
USB ports for quick charging of tablets
and smartphones), MSI M-Flash (lets you
save BIOS data to a USB flash drive),
and 3TB+ Infnity (support for 3TB hard
drives). MSI’s benchmark results were
similar to the rest of the competition,
but we’ll note that they had the second
highest marks in several tests, including
3DMark 11, PCMark 7, Cinebench 11.5,
and POV-Ray Beta 3.7.
Te Z77A-GD65 is a wise choice for
builders who plan on using their PC as
an entertainment center, as it ofers both
coaxial and optical S/PDIF, as well as an
HDMI output. It’s also a good option for
overclockers, with its voltage checkpoints,
status indicators, and support for RAM
speeds up to 2,800MHz.
BIOSTAR TZ77XE4
BIOSTAR’s TZ77XE4 offers three
PCI-E x16 sl ots, and the top two
will run at x8 with graphics cards
installed in both. The third PCI-E
x16 slot is located at the bottom of
the motherboard and maxes out at x4.
BIOSTAR also ofers you two standard
PCI slots for compatibility with legacy
highlights found on the Z77A-GD65
include support for up to 32GB of
DDR3-2800, three PCI-E x16 slots
(which run at x8/x4/x4 speeds when all
flled), and eight SATA connectors (four
6Gbps and four 3Gbps).
On the rear I/O panel of the
Z77A-GD65, you’ll have access to two
USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports,
as well as audio outputs for coaxial
S/PDIF, optical S/PDIF, and analog
ports—all of which support up to
7.1-channel surround sound. Internally,
the Z77A-GD65 offers you three USB
2.0 headers, a USB 3.0 header, and a
TMP Module header. Tere’s also a voice
control module header that you can use
with the optional MSI Voice Genie for
voice commands to boot up your PC, as
well as other functions.
Overclockers’ needs are also covered
with the Z77A-GD65. MSI provides
you with a multi-BIOS switch that
allows you to shift from one BIOS to
another prior to boot-up. You can also
update each BIOS independently. Tere
are LED status indicators for the CPU
power phases, and a DrMOS alarm that
will turn red when the motherboard is
about to overheat. Along the right side
of the board, MSI has installed voltage
checkpoints where you can measure
system voltages for the CPU, memory,
and the platform controller hub.
controls. An LED display shows you
debug codes when something goes wrong.
Performance enthusiasts will also like that
the GA-Z77X-UD3H supports DDR3
memory up to 2,666MHz and Intel XMP
memory profiles. Other key features
of the Z77X-UD3H include support
for Lucid’s Virtu GPU virtualization
technology, a LAN optimizer software
app to prioritize network traffic, and
a PCI-E x4 connection (using an x16
physical slot) at the bottom of the board.
The GA-Z77X-UD3H posted the
highest marks in SiSoftware Sandra
2012’s Proces s or Ari t hmet i c and
Processor Multimedia tests. The rest of
the scores were all in line with the rest
of the motherboards in the roundup.
Overall, we like the board layout of the
GA-Z77X-UD3H, especially the inclu-
sion of the mSATA port. Those who
want a convenient way to utilize Intel’s
Smart Response and Rapid Start tech-
nologies should definitely check out
this motherboard.
MSI Z77A-GD65
MSI’s newest Z77-based mother-
board, like many of MSI’s boards,
is built using MSI’s Military Class III
components for the capacitors and
chokes. MSI indicates that all Military
Class III components have passed the
MIL-STD-810G certifcation. Just a few
Z77A-GD65
$189.99 | MSI
www.msi.com
TZ77XE4
$169.99 | BIOSTAR
www.biostar-usa.com
20 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
would go nicely with some understated
interior lightning. ECS also includes
lots of other bells and whistles with the
Z77H2-A2X.
Starting at the rear I/O ports, you’ll
fnd built-in Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) and
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), so you won’t need
to install wireless add-in cards to your
system for wireless access. In terms of
video outputs, there are VGA, DVI, and
HDMI ports. The Z77H2-A2X offers
four rear USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0
ports, and a 3Gbps eSATA port. You can
add an additional two USB 3.0 ports
through the front panel/rear panel USB
3.0 header, while the USB 2.0 header
can provide power and connectivity
to two more USB 2.0 ports. For extra
audio connectivity, you’ll find both a
front panel audio header and a S/PDIF
output header. To connect your SATA
devices, you’ll fnd six SATA ports—four
6Gbps and two 3Gbps.
The Z77H2-A2X of f ers several
options for add-in cards. For graphics
cards, there are two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots,
which support two cards running at
x8 speeds. You’ll also find two PCI-E
2.0 x1 slots, two standard PCI slots,
and a mini PCI-E x1 slot. LucidLogix’s
Virtu MVP lets the motherboard utilize
the power of Intel’s integrated graphics
with a discrete video card. ECS provides
support for 32GB of DDR3 memory
that can be clocked up to 2,800MHz.
Mot herboard cool i ng i s provi ded
through ECS’s Qooltech IV—three
copper heatpipes that pull heat away
from the chipset.
In our benchmarks, the ECS Z77H2-
A2X was abl e to post the hi ghest
scores in SiSoftware Sandra’s Memory
Bandwidth test, and all of the other
tests were within a few points of the rest
of the group. Overall, we like the gold
accents and like that ECS was able to
include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a variety
of diferent slots for add-in cards. It’s a
good choice for enthusiasts who want
a board that provides them with lots
of different options for their compo-
nent choices.
BI OSTAR pr ovi des a number
of software and hardware features
t o i mprove your medi a pl ayback
and gamepl ay. BIOSTAR i ncl udes
LucidLogix Virtu MVP Technology
and THX TruStudio PRO, the latter
of which allows you to control sound
quality of your music, movies, and
games. For example, the Pro Dialog Plus
feature that helps enhance the voices
in movies so you can hear them over
the soundtrack.
The TZ77XE4’s scores were in line
with the rest of the motherboards in
our roundup. We’ll note that it did
notch the highest overall scores in both
3DMark 11 and PCMark 7. BIOSTAR’s
support for high-performance memory
speeds make this board a good option
for enthusiasts looking for an afordable
Z77 board that can handle demanding
memory specifcations.
ECS Z77H2-A2X
If you want to add a touch of gold
styling to your PC, the Z77H2-A2X
i s the motherboard for you. Thi s
board is part of ECS’s Golden Edition
Extreme, which includes gold plating
on the CPU pins, memory slots, and
PCI-E slots, as well as a golden PCH
and VRM heatsink. We think the gold
accents are all tastefully done, especially
in contrast with the black PCB, and
add-i n cards. Those pl anni ng on
utilizing the CPU’s built-in graphics
will like that the TZ77XE4 includes
outputs for HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI,
and VGA, so you shouldn’t have to
mess around with an adapter to connect
this motherboard to your monitor. We
also like that the TZ77XE4 supports
RAM speeds up to 2,600MHz, so it
can handle high-performance mem-
ory overclocks.
In terms of extra USB connectivity,
BIOSTAR has added one USB 3.0
and two USB 2.0 headers, and the
TZ77XE4 includes a USB front-panel
bay, as well as a blanking plate for the
rear panel if you don’t have space on
your case’s front panel. Tere are four
6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps
SATA ports. All the SATA outputs are
oriented with the connectors facing
to the right side of the motherboard.
SATA ports 1 through 6 support RAID
0/1/5/10 and Intel’s Smart Response
Technology. Below the SATA ports,
you’ l l f i nd a BIOS POST Code
indicator and onboard buttons for clear
CMOS, power, and reset. Board layout
is fairly standard, with the exception
of the second system fan connector
that’s found along the bottom of the
motherboard near USB headers. Rear
exhaust fans with short cords may not
reach this location.
Z77H2-A2X
$220 | ECS
www.ecsusa.com
CPU / June 2012 21
Z77 Overall
The Z77 chipset doesn’t mark a huge
change in performance, but Intel has
managed to include a number of new
features that may make it worth upgrading
for enthusiasts. Te motherboards in our
roundup represent a good range of prices,
and the vendors all ofer slightly diferent
feature sets that sets each apart, depending
on the goal of your build. ■
BY NATHAN LAKE
Intel GIGABYTE MSI BIOSTAR ECS
Benchmark Results DZ77GA-70K GA-Z77X-UD3H Z77A-GD65 TZ77XE4 Z77H2-A2X
Price $240 $169.99 $189.99 $169.99 $220
3DMark 11 Extreme
Overall X3986 X4057 X4105 X4107 X4078
Graphics Score 3599 3750 3795 3798 3787
Physics Score 9292 8748 9257 9013 8163
Combined Score 4525 4611 4647 4605 4615
Graphics Test 1 18.81 18.72 19.29 19.25 19.25
Graphics Test 2 17.92 19.49 19.58 19.56 19.57
Graphics Test 3 16.99 18.83 18.98 18.93 18.94
Graphics Test 4 11.39 11.43 11.53 11.58 11.48
Physics Test 29.3 27.73 29.42 28.62 25.92
Combined Test 21.05 21.45 21.66 21.42 21.41
PCMark 7
Overall 5245 5245 5286 5294 5242
Productivity 5239 5353 5291 5013 4880
Creativity 5149 5041 5281 5218 5069
Entertainment 5158 5179 5210 5196 5169
Computation 5427 5407 5595 5538 5368
System Storage 5126 5069 5104 4904 4733
SiSoftware Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite
Processor Arithmetic
Dhrystone SSE4.2 (GIPS) 120.92 122 121.4 121.11 121.13
Whetstone iSSE3 (GFLOPS) 93.1 94.38 92.48 93.26 93.28
Processor Multi-Media
x16 Multi-Media Integer iAVX (Mpixels per second) 224.5 224.9 222.78 222.24 222
x16 Multi-Media Float iAVX (Mpixels per second) 311.12 314.87 312.55 311.63 311.44
x8 Multi-Media Double iAVX (Mpixels per second) 174.53 176.69 174.83 174.67 174.38
Memory Bandwidth
Integer Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) 19.89 20.35 20.16 20 20.37
Floating Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) 19.89 20.32 20.16 20.22 20.37
Media Transcode
Transcode WMV (KBps) 1020 1000 1007 1019 1000
Transcode H264 (KBps) 994 965 1000 1006 958
Cinebench 11.5
CPU* 7.32 7.48 7.42 7.36 7.29
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta** 1309.35 1340.04 1336.43 1325.34 1313.25
Games (2,560 x 1,600)
Metro 2033 (4XAA/16XAF) 34.93 38.7 34.18 37.65 37.88
Aliens vs. Predator (8XAA/16XAF) 53.6 53.6 53.7 53.5 53.6
* points
** pixels per second
Test system specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K; RAM: 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600; GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580 (2x, SLI); Storage: 128GB Crucial
RealSSD C300
22 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
T
he new Core i7-3770K is Intel’s flagship
processor for the Z77 chipset, and as such
includes of all of the new 3rd Generation
Intel Core i7 processor features. There’s
support for DDR3-1600 (2nd Generation
Intel processors support a maximum
1,333MHz) and the improved Intel HD
Graphics 4000 graphics processor.
As we saw with the 2nd Generation
processors, Intel continues to add more
technologies into the processor. For
example, the new Intel HD Graphics 4000
supports DirectX 11 (HD Graphics 3000
only supports DX10.1) and a maximum
resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. HD Graphics
4000 processors can also span the Windows
Desktop across up to three independent
displays. There’s also embedded support
for DisplayPort and HDMI v1.4a. Intel
indicates that it has improved its Quick Sync
Video performance by up to 60%.
At stock, the Core i7-3770K runs at
3.5GHz with a Turbo Boost speed of
3.9GHz. Of course, the “K” sufx on means
you’ll have an unlocked multiplier at your
disposal. Similar to the Core i7-2600K and
2700K, the i7-3770K provides you with four
cores with Hyper-Treading, as well as an
8MB of Intel Smart Cache. Intel also added
support for DDR3L.
As it runs on the Z77 chipset, the Core
i7-3770K is built for the LGA1155 socket.
Intel indicates the Core i7-3770K will
work on motherboards with Intel 7-Series
chipsets and the following Intel 6-Series
chipsets: Z68, P67, H67, and H61. Te
Core i7-3770K also offers two built-in
security technologies, Intel Secure Key and
Intel OS Guard. Secure Key is a hardware-
assisted tool that helps you to create highly
secure and long strings of random numbers
for computing tasks that require security.
OS Guard helps to prevent malware
from gaining kernel-level access to your
operating system.
We ran the Intel Core i7-3770K against
Intel’s Core i7-2600K, which includes
using the processor’s integrated graphics
core as our GPU. The Core i7-
3770K offers slight performance
upgrades across the board, with
the biggest gains to be found in the
gaming benchmarks. We were able
to hit 25.3fps in Metro 2033 at
1,280 x 720 with the settings on low;
the HD Graphics 4000 produced
40.7fps in Aliens vs. Predator. Our
SiSoftware Sandra’s Media Transcode
results back up Intel’s claim for
improvements to Quick Sync Video,
as we saw a nearly 60% increase.
Processor-intensive scores are similar
between the two, but with only a
100MHz stock speed difference,
there’s not much of a gap in terms of
pure processing power.
Builders planning a new system will
want to pair the Core i7-3770K with
a Z77 motherboard, because you’ll
have access to all of the processor and
chipset’s new features. On the other
hand, those who’ve recently built a
system based on one of Intel’s 6-Series
motherboards will find that, after a
motherboard BIOS update, the
Core i7-3770K’s Socket LGA1155
compatibility makes the processor a
simple drop-in replacement. ■
BY NATHAN LAKE
Intel Core i7-3770K
Intel Core Intel Core
Benchmark Results i7-3770K i7-2600K
3DMark 11
Overall P765 P545
Graphics Score 649 486
Physics Score 7200 6700
Combined Score 769 590
Graphics Test 1 3.87 2.98
Graphics Test 2 3.85 3.01
Graphics Test 3 4.15 3.78
Graphics Test 4 1.52 1.04
Physics Test 22.86 18.76
Combined Test 3.58 2.63
PCMark 7
Overall 4422 4203
Productivity 5348 5138
Creativity 7205 6978
Entertainment 3353 3145
Computation 8907 8720
System Storage 5019 4621
SiSoft Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite
Processor Arithmetic
Dhrystone SSE4.2 (GIPS) 121.4 108.9
Whetstone iSSE3 (GFLOPS) 93.4 85.5
Processor Multi-Media
x16 Multi-Media Integer iAVX
(Mpixels per second) 223.4 204
x16 Multi-Media Float iAVX
(Mpixels per second) 311.12 277
x8 Multi-Media Double iAVX
(Mpixels per second) 174.9 157.78
Memory Bandwidth
Integer Memory Bandwidth
B/F AVX/128 (GBps) 19.63 18.32
Floating Memory Bandwidth
B/F AVX/128 (GBps) 19.58 18.32
Media Transcode
Transcode WMV (KBps) 3,690 2,314
Transcode H264 (KBps) 4,290 2,674
Cinebench 11.5
CPU* 7.44 6.54
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta** 1327.86 1162.59
Metro 2033 (4XAF) 25.3 19.4
Aliens vs. Predator (4XAF) 40.7 33.8
Games tested at 1,280 x 720.
*points
**pixels per second
Specs: Socket: Intel LGA1155; Clock speed: 3.5GHz
(3.9GHz Max Turbo); 8MB Intel Smart Cache; TDP: 77W;
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
Test System Specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K;
Motherboard: Intel DZ77GA-70K; GPU: Intel HD
Graphics 4000; RAM: 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-
1600; Storage: 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300; OS:
Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit)
Core i7-3770K
$313 | Intel
www.intel.com
CPU / June 2012 23
T
his 8GB kit of AMD’s Performance
Edi ti on DDR3 memory runs at
1,600MHz with aggressive timings of
8-9-8. The use of a low-profile heat
spreader is also ideal for those who
own wide, tall CPU heatsinks, because
it’s more likely the memory modules
won’t present an cl earance i ssues.
We’l l note that AMD’s memory i s
manufactured and supported by Patriot
Memory, and like Patriot’s modules,
the AMD Performance Edition DDR3
is backed by a lifetime warranty and is
100% hand-tested.
With AMD’s Performance Edition
lineup, there’s a black heat spreader
that’s affi xed to ei ther si de of the
modules, and the AMD Performance
Edition logo graces the heat spreaders.
We installed the kit in a system with
SAPPHIRE’s PURE Platinum Z77K
and Intel’s Core i 7-3770K. (AMD
memory can operate on both Intel
and AMD memory platforms.) The
modules also can operate at DDR3-
1333 wi th a vol tage of 1. 5V and
timings of 8-8-8 if you prefer your
RAM to run at a lower voltage.
In SiSoftware Sandra’s 2012 Lite
Memory Bandwi dth test, the 8GB
AMD Pe r f or ma nc e Edi t i on
kit produced a bandwidth of a
21.36GBps in the Integer B/F
iAVX/128 test and 21.34GBps
in the Float B/F iAVX/128 test.
It also posted an impressive score
of 23.5 nanoseconds in Sandra’s
Memory Latency benchmark.
Thos e l ooki ng f or an af -
fordable 8GB kit can pair the
Performance Edi ti on ki t wi th
either their AMD or Intel set-
up. The 1,600MHz speed and
low latency provides you with
qui ck response ti mes for memory-
intensive tasks. ■
BY NATHAN LAKE
Performance Edition DDR3-1600
$54.99 | AMD
www.amd.com
AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600
AMD Performance
Benchmark Results Edition DDR3-1600
SiSoft Sandra 2012 Lite
Memory Bandwidth
Integer B/F iAVX/128 (GBps) 21.36
Float B/F iAVX/128 (GBps) 21.34
Memory Latency 23.5ns
Specs: Capacity: 8GB (2x 4GB); Timings 8-9-8-24; Voltage:
1.65V; Unbuffered; Non-ECC; Lifetime warranty
System specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K;
Motherboard: SAPPHIRE PURE Platinum Z77K; GPU:
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580; Storage: 128GB Crucial
RealSSD C300; OS: Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit)
24 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Specs: Maximum cooling capacity: 300W; Materials: Copper (base, heatpipes), aluminum (fns); Fans: 3 92mm PWM; Warranty: 6 years
the completion of the benchmark, we
waited for the temperature to decrease
and level of and then measured that as
the idle value. We did the same with the
Accelero Xtreme III installed and also
performed some sound testing, as well.
Te GeForce GTX 580’s cooler, which
we lauded at the time of its launch as
being nice and quiet, generated 11.5
more decibels compared to its idle value.
The temperature performance was 43
degrees Celsius (idle) and 79 C (load).
The Accelero Xtreme III blew those
numbers out of the water, idling at
30 C and peaking at 51 C. Noise
output remained effectively flat, right
around the stock cooler’s idle noise level,
under both idle and load. Troughout
the testing, the PWM fans never saw
fit to increase the fan speed above
2,000rpm. Looking at those temps, we
can see why. ■
BY ANDREW LEIBMAN
Accelero Xtreme III
$119.95
ARCTIC
www.arctic.ac
a massive series of 84 aluminum fns. A
thin black plastic heat shroud surrounds
a trio of 92mm PWM fans; all told, the
unit is capable of dissipating 300W of
thermal energy. Also included in the
package are 31 RAM and VRM heatsinks,
a thermal paste spreading tool, and more
thermal adhesive to apply to those heat-
sensitive components. Once installed,
we were impressed that the Accelero
Xtreme III didn’t increase our GeForce
GTX 580’s footprint much at all. Most
importantly, it remained a dual-slot card,
so we can still use this card in SLI (or
CrossFire for Radeon cards).
As a prototype of the Accel ero
Xtreme III, our unit didn’t have the
pad of MX-4 preapplied to the copper
surface of the heatsink, but we applied
some using the packaged thermal paste.
Installation was quick and painless; the
hardest part was simply removing the
dozen or so screws on the GeForce GTX
580’s stock cooler.
To test the Accelero Xtreme III,
we first ran a stock GeForce GTX
580 through Unigine Heaven with
Tessellation set to Extreme and measured
the GPU temperature at load. Following
H
igh-end graphics cards are responsible
for a hearty chunk of your system’s
power consumption and subsequently
generate heat like nothing else. If you’re
running two, three, or even four graphics
cards, then heat can quickly get out of
hand. Even if it’s not too much to sound
alarms and initiate a shutdown, the slow
baking of your internal components
can reduce their respective life spans.
ARCTIC’s latest aftermarket graphics
card cooler, the Accelero Xtreme III, is a
one-size-fits-plenty cooler that claims to
be able to lower your temperatures and
do so while running significantly quieter
than stock coolers.
The unit is designed to work with
reference boards from NVIDIA and
AMD and supports about 50 diferent
graphics cards from both, including
most of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX
600 and 500 series, as well as some of
the AMD Radeon HD 7000 and most
of the 6000 series. To see the complete
list of supported graphics cards, visit
tinyurl.com/7fswjlg and then click the
Compatibility tab.
The Accelero Xtreme III consists of
five copper heatpipes threaded through
ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme III
CPU / June 2012 25
Specs (140mm): Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 25mm (HxWxD); Voltage: 12V (Power), 7V (Silence);
Speed: 1,500rpm (Power), 800rpm (Silence); Air fow: 96.5cfm (Power), 50cfm (Silence); Noise:
29.6dBA (Power), 14.5dBA (Silence)
Specs (120mm): Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm; Voltage: 12V (Power), 7V (Silence); Speed:
1,500rpm (Power), 800rpm (Silence); Air fow: 82.6cfm (Power), 32.5cfm (Silence); Noise: 26.5dBA
(Power), 12.6dBA (Silence)
If you’re looking to take a bite out
of your thermal budget and keep your
enthusiast gear cool, then Aerocool’s
Shark fans can do the job in style. ■
BY ANDREW LEIBMAN
Shark Fan Evil Green Edition
$15.99 (120mm), $17.99 (140mm)
Aerocool
www.aerocool.us
are 25mm thick. Te fans have a MTBF
rating of 100,000 hours.
Such reliable and versatile fans are
perfect for replacing your old case fans
or supplementing the current air cooling
in your case. To test this fan, we installed
it in the top panel of our Enermax
SpineRex case, to draw more heat from
the VRM, CPU heatsink, and memory.
Installation was quick and easy, and we
liked the variety of mounting hardware.
H
ere at CPU, we spend a lot of
time talking about enthusiast-
grade processors, graphics cards,
memory, motherboards, and more.
In short, we’re all about any-
thing that makes your PC better
and faster. Sadly, those adjectives
almost always show up with an
uninvited guest in tow, heat. But
heat’s not hard to chase off, espe-
cially if you’re toting one (or more)
of Aerocool’s Shark Fans.
The Shark Fan is available in
a handful of colors, including
red, black, blue, white, and Evil
Green to perfectly complement
your case’s interior or LED color
scheme. Speaking of LEDs, this
fan has four of them, whi ch
look particularly nice reflected
against the translucent green fan
blades of the Evil Green fans we
installed. The Shark fans come
with two mounting methods, via
a quartet of antivibration screws
or with four standard screws.
Also in the package is a 3- to
4-pin converter cable, and every-
thing is sleeved black.
Te fan also includes a voltage
reduction cabl e with an inl ine re-
sistor (12V to 7V) for Silence mode
(800rpm). Without the resistor, the fan
operates in a 1,500rpm Power mode. In
Silence mode, the 140mm fan outputs
50cfm, and in Power mode, it nearly
doubles to 96cfm. As you’d expect,
the diferent modes also have diferent
noise output ratings. In Power mode,
you can expect the Shark fan to add to
your overall system noise to the tune
of 29.6dBA. Silence mode slashes the
noise output to 14.5dBA, which was
easily lost among the hum of our CPU
fan and rear exhaust fan.
Another unique feature of the Shark
fans is the blade design, which features
a ribbed design. Aerocool offer these
fans in 120mm and 140mm sizes; both
Aerocool Shark Fan Evil Green Edition
26 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Visit www.Processor.com or call (800) 334-7458
to sign up for your complimentary subscription.
Processor is the industry’s most comprehensive source for:
Processor. Another great resource
from the publishers of CPU magazine.
Learn more at Processor.com
Snapshots of new data center and IT hardware and software
Rundowns of major industry news
Information on manufacturers and resellers
TIps, strategies, and advice from experts in the field




Default and All 0x00 [0 Fill] tests) and
AS-SSD to see how it measured up. It’s
a speed freak for sure, and the best part
is that, yes, your performance will be
more or less the same regardless of the
type of data you feed the M3 Pro. In
short, you shouldn’t need a special set
of circumstances (i.e., a compressible
workload) in order to hit the drive’s
advertised speeds.
The 128GB M3 Pro is a fantastic
drive with a great pedigree. If Plextor
keeps rel easi ng SSDs l i ke thi s, we
see no end in sight to this wonderful
rel ati onshi p. We know we have to
share, but we don’t want to. ■
BY VINCE COGLEY
M3 Pro 128GB
$199.99
Plextor
www.plextoramericas.com
T
his is a love story. It started several
years ago, when we were still young
and finding our way in the world. We
met a little company named Plextor.
At the time, we were attracted to the
company’s excellent optical disc drives,
as well as Plextor’s ConvertX hardware.
It was a great relationship.
Then, a few short years ago, Plextor
decided to take the relationship to the
next level and offer us an impressive
lineup of solid-state drives. Today, we
can happily say that things between
us are better than ever, especially after
Plextor renewed its commitment with
the M3 Pro SSD family. These drives
are currentl y avai l abl e i n 128GB,
256GB, and 512GB capacities. We
took a look at the 128GB M3 Pro.
The 128GB M3 Pro brings the latest
and greatest. It uses 24nm Toshiba
Toggle NAND, which is essentially at
the top of food chain, performance-
wise. The controller here is Marvell’s
88SS9174, which you might remember
from our SSD roundup last month.
(See “Sol i d-State Soi rée” on page
17.) The Marvell 88SS9174 is also
the controller of choice for Corsair’s
Performance Pro Seri es SSDs, and
i t has a key per f or mance- rel at ed
difference over the other heavy hitter
in the enthusiast SSD market, the
SandForce SF-2200 controller: The
88SS9174 controller delivers the same
performance regardless of whether the
workload is compressible or incom-
pressible data.
We tested the 128GB M3 Pro with
Cr yst al Di skMark 3. 0. 1 (bot h t he
Plextor M3 Pro 128GB
Benchmark Results Plextor M3
Pro 128GB
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 Default*
Sequential read 510.3
Sequential write 342.2
512KB read 389.4
512KB write 345.9
4K random read QD1 27.87
4K random write QD1 54.2
4K random read QD32 272.9
4K random write QD32 270.1
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 All 0x00 (0 Fill)*
Sequential read 528.4
Sequential write 348.8
512KB read 402.5
512KB write 348
4K random read QD1 27.6
4K random write QD1 59.74
4K random read QD32 267.5
4K random write QD32 266.9
AS-SSD*
Sequential read 500.46
Sequential write 324.74
4K read 25.89
4K write 52.9
4K-64Thrd read 278.53
4K-64Thrd write 245.97
*Results in MBps.
Specs: Maximum sequential read/write: 535MBps/350MBps; Maximum random 4K read/write:
75,000IOPS/69,000IOPS; Interface: 6Gbps SATA; Five-year warranty
Test System Specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K; Motherboard SAPPHIRE PURE Platinum Z77;
RAM: 8GB AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600; GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580; Storage: Crucial
RealSSD C300 128GB
28 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Specs: Interface: USB; Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyswitches; Anti-ghosting: 6-Key rollover; Detachable wrist rest; 64KB onboard memory for profle
storage; 1ms response time
On top of everything else, the Trigger
provides lots of excellent macro options,
and it’s equipped with 64KB of onboard
memory for storing the macros you enter
so that you don’t have to backtrack and
re-enter them.
We spent some quality time with
the Trigger, pl aying both RTS and
FPS titles, and it performed admirably
in both scenarios. This is a keyboard
that you can depend on when things
get hectic, and this combined with
its comfort, accuracy, and good looks
make it one of the most accomplished
gaming keyboards to come along in
several years. ■
BY CHRIS TRUMBLE
CM Storm Trigger
Price TBA
Cooler Master
www.coolermaster-usa.com
It seems pretty clear that Cooler
Master’s product designers spent a lot of
time thinking about what gamers want
and need from a keyboard in designing
the Trigger. Te keyboard isn’t just backlit,
it also gives you dimmer controls and lets
you choose between a fully lit keyboard
and a setting that only lights up the WASD
and arrow keys, along with the macro
control keys along the left side and the CM
Storm logo in the upper-left corner.
Te Trigger sports a fexible but heavy-
gauge cord that is sheathed in black nylon
braid; you can detach it from the keyboard
for transport by way of its mini USB
connection, which is situated just to the
outside of its two gold-plated USB ports
and an AC power jack that doesn’t have
a matching adapter—you can pick one
up if you want to use the keyboard with
devices that require more power than a
USB connection can provide.
S
eems like gaming keyboards are a dime
a dozen these days; everybody has one
or two or more of them, and in many
cases, it seems the only thing that quali-
fies a keyboard as a gaming keyboard is
that it looks like one. Maybe it has a flashy
backlight and is festooned with media
controls, and some extra function or macro
keys, but when you start to actually play
with one of these posers it quickly becomes
apparent that functionally there’s little
difference between it and cheapie models
you find for $20 or so in the big box stores.
This is not the case with Cooler
Master’s new CM Storm Trigger, a
mechanical gaming keyboard that does
more than just talk the talk. Cooler
Master equips the four Trigger models
with four variants of the excellent Cherry
MX switches: Black, Blue, Brown, or Red.
Our review unit came with Cherry MX
Browns, which I happen to favor; they
provide the tactile feedback I like without
the clicky noise. Tey have a nice, deep
range of motion and just the right
amount of springiness, which means they
are comfortable even when in use for long
periods of time (LAN party, anyone?).
But the Trigger’s charms go beyond
its excellent mechanical switches. For
starters, the keyboard has an impressive
amount of heft and is solidly built.
Durability is very likely a byproduct, but
it’s also nice to know that your keyboard
won’t slip and slide one way or another in
the heat of combat and leave you groping
for the keys you need to survive. And
thanks to its 6-key rollover, the Trigger
won’t lose any commands, even when the
action dictates several-key combos.
For all its sturdiness, however, the
Trigger isn’t stif or uncomfortable in any
way. Its rubber edges and the included,
detachable wrist rest ensure that it
pampers your hands. (And if, like me, you
have bad typing posture, your wrists.)
Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger
CPU / June 2012 29
Intel Core i7-3770K
A year and a half ago, Intel’s Second Generation Core
processors started a revolution; these modestly priced
CPUs were competitive with high-end, enthusiast CPUs in
gaming and broke new ground in media creation and man-
agement. Now, Intel introduces its 3
rd
Generation Core
processors, which take everything you liked about Sandy
Bridge to the next level.
The four-core, eight-threaded Core i7-3770K is based on
Intel’s newest 22-nanometer manufacturing process, so
it packs more transistors into less space than its prede-
cessor: Its 160mm
2
die contains 1.4 billion transistors. And
these are Intel’s new tri-gate transistors, which are more
energy-efficient, so combined with the process shrink this
architecture adds up to significant gains in performance
requiring significantly less power.
In its tests, for example, Intel has observed that the Core i7-
3770K is 43% faster than the Core i7-2600 at transcoding video
for YouTube with ArcSoft’s Media Converter 7, 81% faster when
transcoding video for playback on an iPhone in CyberLink’s
Media Espresso, and 199% faster when running Futuremark’s
3DMark Vantage. Similar performance gains can be observed
when working with other media types, as well. (For more perfor-
mance information and comparisons, visit bit.ly/Kmxopj.)
And, as the “K” in its name suggests, the Core i7-3770K is
fully unlocked, so demanding users who insist on wringing
every last cycle out of their CPUs will be right at home when
overclocking the chip.
Intel DZ77GA-70K
The good news continues when you consider Intel’s
design for the 3
rd
Generation Core processors as part of a
powerful computing ecosystem. The Core i7-3770K and a
motherboard equipped with Intel’s Z77 chipset provide
native support for USB 3.0, DirectX 11, SATA 6Gbps drives,
and triple-display configurations.
Intel’s own Z77 motherboards are, of course, tailor-made
for the 3
rd
Generati on Core processor. The Extreme
Series DZ77GA-70K has full support for all of the Core
Advertisement
i 7-3770K’s i mpressi ve features, and i n addi ti on pro-
vides two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, support for up to
32GB of dual-channel DDR3-1600+ memory, 10-channel
digital audio, eight USB 3.0 ports (four external, four via
internal header), and Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology
for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.
A system equipped with the Core i7-3770K, the DZ77GA-
70K, and one or more Intel 520 Series SSDs unlocks the
potential of your games and gives you the tools you need to
create and manage powerful video, world-class audio, and
amazing digital images.
Power & Flexibility
Intel designed its 3
rd
Generation Core processors to per-
form at a high level, but they are also incredibly adapt-
able. For starters, they are physically compatible with
Intel’s Socket LGA1155, so in addition to motherboards
designed around Intel’s 7-Series chipsets, you can install
3
rd
Generation Core processors in motherboards equipped
with Z68, P67, or H67 chipsets—currently shipping boards
include support out of the box, and existing boards need
only a simple firmware update.
Once installed, Intel’s Smart Connect technology checks
web applications that you have open for new content, even
when your PC is in sleep mode, so your apps are always
up-to-date and ready at a moment’s notice. Another Intel fea-
ture, Rapid Start technology, is an extremely power-efficient
hibernate mode that lets your PC resume full operation
within 5 to 6 seconds.
These processors also come with Intel’s Small Business
Advantage, a set of free tools features that make them
incredibly handy for small business use. Intel Wireless
Di spl ay, Data Backup & Restore, PC Heal th Center,
USB Blocker, Software Monitor, and Energy Saver are
designed to simplify IT tasks for small-business and
home office users.
At work or at play, Intel’s 3
rd
Generation Core processors
make you better at everything you do. ■
a Wildfre now means you’ll have an SSD
that should be more reliable than ever.
Patri ot reports that the 480GB
Wildfire’s performance is just slightly
of the pace of its smaller 120GB and
240GB Wildfire drives. The 480GB
Wildfire’s sequential reads and writes
peak at 540MBps and 450MBps,
respectively, while the 120GB and
240GB Wildfires can touch 555MBps
and 520MBps. Still, the Wildfre 480GB
performed very well in our benchmarks,
CrystalDiskMark and AS-SSD. You can
see the Wildfre deliver great throughput
with sequential reads across the board,
and it’s extremely fast with a workload of
compressible data. 4K random reads are
universally good here, as well.
The Wildfire performs exactly as
Patriot promises. It includes a 3.5-inch
drive bay adapter, so it will mount in
virtually any system you can imagine,
and carries a three-year warranty. And
again, 480GB of Toggle Mode NAND in
W
e all know “the guy.” The guy who
builds a fanless system because the
only thing he wants to hear is the sound
of his own typing. The guy who retrofits
his home with Ethernet cabling and
outlets because he simply has to have the
reliability of a wired network in every
single room in the house. The guy who
mods his Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
to fit within a single chassis because two
separate consoles simply take up too
much space in his home theater. You
know, the guy.
Patri ot’s 480GB Wi l dfi re i s the
perfect SSD for “the guy.” He’s the one
who will say, “Yes! I now have almost
half a terabyte of Toggle NAND at my
disposal!” We’re guessing that the guy
already has a few things planned for
such a drive.
Under its hood, the Wildfre 480GB
is packed with 32nm Toshiba Toggle-
Mode NAND memory. A SandForce
SF-2281 storage processor, which we’ve
all come to know and love over the
last year and a half, calls the shots in
this SSD. So, of course, you get all of
the benefts that the SF-2281 bestows,
including DuraWrite, wear leveling,
garbage collection, and so forth. The
SF-2281 claims some of the Wildfire’s
avail abl e NAND to perform these
functions, which is why we have 480GB
of available storage instead of 512GB.
(Also remember that all SandForce
2200-based SSDs will have a certain
degree of overprovisioning; the Wildfre
480GB is not unique in this regard.)
The now infamous BSOD bug that
plagued all SandForce 2200-based SSDs
appears to have been solved. Patriot’s
3.3.2 frmware update, which rolled out
last October, includes this fx, so getting
Patriot Memory Wildfre 480GB
a single SSD is simply wild. Tell the guy
we’ve found his drive.
BY VINCE COGLEY
Wildfre 480GB
$979.99 | Patriot Memory
www.patriotmemory.com
Patriot
Benchmark Results Wildfire 480GB
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 Default*
Sequential read 485
Sequential write 236.4
512KB read 459.8
512KB write 162.5
4K random read QD1 27.23
4K random write QD1 18.1
4K random read QD32 226.8
4K random write QD32 102.2
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 All 0x00 (0 Fill)*
Sequential read 505.4
Sequential write 437.6
512KB read 453.6
512KB write 398.8
4K random read QD1 30.63
4K random write QD1 26.38
4K random read QD32 230.7
4K random write QD32 214.2
AS-SSD*
Sequential read 498.35
Sequential write 244.51
4K read 20.22
4K write 18.3
4K-64Thrd read 210.13
4K-64Thrd write 131.48
*Results in MBps
Specs: Maximum sequential read/write:
540MBps/450MBps; Maximum 4K random IOPS:
40,000IOPS; Interface: 6Gbps SATA; Warranty: 3 years
Test System Specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-
3960X; Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3;
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (2x, SLI);
Memory: 8GB Kingston DDR3-2400; Storage:
Kingston 240GB HyperX SSD
32 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Specs: CPU: ARM926; OS: Android 2.2; Front ports: USB 2.0, SD card; Rear ports: Ethernet; HDMI out, USB 2.0, optical S/PDIF out
The PBO Alpine supports MP3,
OGG, Real Audio, WMA, and several
other audio formats. Music sounded
crisp on our home theater’s speakers.
The most common image formats—
JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG—are
supported, as well. In addition to the
previously mentioned web browser,
Patri ot Memor y i ncl udes apps for
iRadio, iTV, YouTube, and Picasa. You
can sideload apps from a flash drive
or SD card if you want to add further
f uncti onal i ty. It currentl y doesn’t
support the Google Play Store or the
Amazon Appstore.
As multimedia streaming devices
go, the PBO Al pi ne provi des you
with a lot of convenient features for
network playback. We’d love to see
support for Google’s Play Store or a
similar app marketplace, but the PBO
Alpine remains a respectable home
theater add-on. ■
BY NATHAN LAKE
PBO Alpine
$89
Patriot Memory
www.patriotmemory.com
Besides the fle name, the media player
also provides you with a windowed
preview of the given video, song (if
cover art is included), or image, so it’s
easy to find what you’re looking for. If
your media isn’t stored on the network,
you’ll be able to play it by loading it
through the front USB 2.0 port or SD
memory card slot. Another USB 2.0 port
is available in the rear of the PBO Alpine,
and the rear port is ideal for connecting a
USB keyboard (to enter text into the Web
browser, for example) or Wi-Fi adapter.
In terms of video playback, 1080p
content streamed via the Internet looked
great, and we experienced no lag or
motion judder during playback. With
most sources, you’ll be able to select
among the video quality options, such as
1080p, 1080i, 720p, and 480p, which
is nice if your Web connection isn’t able
to handle the bandwidth required for
the larger HD-quality options. You’ll
find support for M-JPEG, MPEG-1,
MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.263, H.264,
VC-1, DivX, Xvid, RealVideo, VP6, and
MKV video formats. Te Dolby Digital
Plus and DTS 2.0 audio standards are
provided for surround sound.
T
he PBO Alpine from Patriot Memory
is a network-attached media player
that supports 1080p resolutions (at 30fps),
and it can connect to your network thru
either a wired or wireless connection
(with the help of an optional USB Wi-Fi
adapter). It runs a modified version of
Android 2.2 to provide you with an easy-
to-use interface. Patriot Memory builds in
a HDMI port for convenient connection
to an HDTV or projector, and there’s also
an optical S/PDIF output. We checked
out the PBO Alpine and found it to be
extremely responsive.
When you frst fre up the PBO Alpine,
you’ll see an interface that provides you
with quick buttons for Video, Photo,
Music, Bookmarks, Applications, and
Settings. You can use the included remote
to make your selections. If you choose
one of the multimedia options, the PBO
Alpine provides you with a network map
that lets you search for the folders and
fles where you multimedia is stored. You
can also add a manual network link if you
want to add a location that’s not currently
online. When switching between menus,
the PBO Alpine quickly brings up the fles
stored on your network devices.
Patriot Memory PBO Alpine
CPU / June 2012 33
Specs: Dimensions: 6.22 x 5.28 x 3.86 inches (HxWxD); Socket compatibility: Intel LGA775/1155/1156/1366, AMD AM2/2+/3/3+, AMD FM1;
Materials: Copper (base), aluminum (fns), Maximum air fow: 66.3cfm; Noise: 17.8 to 27.6dBA
Deepcool By Logisys Gamer Storm
necessary, however.) The height of your
memory heatsinks and the position of
your memory banks may force you to
place the fan on one side or another, but
this is easily accomplished.
By now you’ve heard that the Intel
Corei7-3770K runs hotter than Sandy
Bridge, which is why we used it to
test the Gamer Storm. Under load the
processor temperature climbed to 60
degrees Celsius, and at idle the CPU
runs at a chilly 31 C. We overclocked the
processor to 4.4GHz, and under load,
temps climbed to a very manageable
70 C, still a far cry from the processor’s
TJ Max.
If you’re looking for an affordable
cooler that’ll take your processor to the
next level, the Gamer Storm should be at
the top of your list. ■
BY ANDREW LEIBMAN
Gamer Storm
$69.99
Deepcool By Logisys
deepcool-us.com
Strapped to the cooler is a 120mm
PWM hydro bear i ng f an wi t h a
rubberized black frame and baby blue
fan blades. The low-speed 7V mode
produces a whisper quiet 17.6dBA.
Te idle fan speed is 500rpm (+/-200).
When the CPU starts to break a sweat,
though, the 12V mode kicks on and
pushes the fan to 1,500rpm (+/-10%).
At its peak, the Gamer Storm pushes
66.3cfm and hums along at 27.6dBA.
The fan attaches to either side of the
cooler with a pair of metal clips, but
thanks to the rubberized surface of the
fan frame, vibration is not an issue.
Logisys includes a spare set of clips in
case you want to add a second fan for
more extreme air cooling performance.
Te Gamer Storm is one of the more
versatile CPU coolers available. It supports
Intel Socket LGA775/1155/1156/1366,
as well as AMD Socket AM2/2+/3/3+ and
FM1. Installation was straightforward,
and we were happy to discover that we
didn’t need to remove the motherboard
from our case to install this cooler. (A
CPU cutout in the motherboard tray is
T
he CPU cooler is easily one of the
hardest working components in an
enthusiast’s rig. It doesn’t directly impact
performance, but if you want to push
your processor to its limits, you’d better
have a cooler substantial enough to
handle the heavy lifting. That’s exactly
what Logisys had in mind when designing
the Gamer Storm CPU cooler. Read on to
see if it has what it takes to handle your
overclocking ambitions.
The first thing you’ll notice about
the Gamer Storm is the fairly standard
desi gn t hat consi st s of heat pi pes
bisecting rows of aluminum fins. But
the difference is in the details. There
are six heatpipes and a total of 48
aluminum fns. Te main unit is coated
in nickel to ensure the Gamer Storm
remains capable of efciently evacuating
heat as long as you own it. And because
it supports processors from AMD and
Intel, you’ll likely be able to use this
cooler through several upgrade cycles.
Te base of the Gamer Storm is a solid
block of copper, polished to a mirror
sheen for superior heat transfer.
34 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
because they recover a large portion of their
lower frequencies. Enermax’s DreamBass puts
the drama back in your soundtrack.
Enermax’s old-school vacuum tube look
is appealing, as is the device’s compatibility
support for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Bottom line: You get big sound from a tiny
package. Tis little gem is now a permanent
fxture in our notebook bag. ■
BY WILLIAM VAN WINKLE
 
DreamBass Genie AP001
$29.99 | Enermax
www.ecomastertek.com
we were instantly reminded of what we
like so well about discrete audio products
like the DreamBass Genie. Bass goes from
sounding like something passing through a
long cardboard tube to being right there in
your head, signifcantly richer and deeper.
Mids suddenly rematerialize, eliminating
that “hollow” feel so prevalent with
integrated audio. The DreamBass Genie
doesn’t do that much with the highs, but the
improved channel separation makes highs
cleaner and more prominent.
We also tried out the DreamBass with a few
HD movies, as well as Metro 2033. Overall,
the clarity of speech in both cases remained
roughly equal to what it was before the
DreamBass took over. Te payof was in battle
scenes and sound effects, which suddenly
became much more booming and dramatic.
Explosions and frefghts sound more visceral
W
hy would famed PSU manufacturer
Enermax make an audio amplifier
for PCs? Because it’s about power, man!
Of course, with a name like “DreamBass,”
you might expect a lot from something
not much bigger than a thimble stuck on
an L-shaped USB adapter. (This is so the
DreamBass will stand upright when plugged
into a notebook.) The DreamBass Genie
lives up to expectations, however, because
it works some impressive magic without the
use of drivers. Just plug it in and enjoy.
Using VIA’s VT1620A audio chips, the
device runs your audio stream through a
handful of post-processing algorithms and
backs it with a +6dB boost at 80Hz. Armed
with Sony’s MDR-V6 studio headphones,
we tried out the DreamBass against the
integrated audio on a relatively new $500
notebook. Te diference was glaring, and
Enermax DreamBass Genie AP001
Specs: USB Audio Class 1.0; Jacks: 3.5mm
mic/line-in and stereo out; Audio: 24-bit,
96kHz playback, THD-N -80dB; SNR: 95dB
36 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
I
t’s hard not to take the TPL-405E as
a godsend at first glance. The palm-
sized powerline networking adapter
doubles as a four-port Gigabit Ethernet
hub. Imagine you’re in a home without
structured wiring, and you have a home
entertainment center with a gaming
console, TiVo, Blu-ray player, and a
connected TV. You want the stability
of wired networking because Wi-Fi
happens to stink in this area. The TPL-
405E is a perfect fit. So long as you
have another TRENDnet Powerline AV
adapter plugged into your router, all
four devices can use the same wall wart
to get online.
Now, let’s talk about reality. We
all know to expect half (at best) of the
theoretical throughput of most wireless
and powerline networking gear. We
pl ugged TRENDnet’s TPL- 402E
500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter (which
features a pass-through outlet—a helpful
bonus) into the office LAN’s Gigabit
switch, then plugged the 405E into the
adjacent room, almost exactly on the
opposite side of the wall (Location 1). We
also tested the 405E at the far end of the
building, about 40 feet away (Location
2), keeping in mind that distance is likely
much greater when you factor in the
length of wiring needed to reach from
outlet to outlet.
Transferring a 2GB data folder took about
6:20 (minutes:seconds) from Location 1,
averaging about 5.4Mbps. Location 2
started at 200Kbps, continued to slide
under 100Kbps, and we gave up trying
at an estimated transfer time of 22 hours.
The Advanced Networking benchmark in
PerformanceTest 7, told a similar story, with
16K TCP tests hitting 26.5Mbps in Location
1 and 5.2Mbps in Location 2. The UDP
16K test showed 92.4Mbps and 12.2Mbps,
respectively.
So, that’s not the 500Mbps theoretical
max, but we’ve seen far worse testing 802.11n
gear in the same locations. And although the
Location 2 UDP throughput graphs show
a lot of regularly spaced pits, the Location 1
graphs all show strong, stable speeds, which
makes for reliable video streaming.
Te building we tested in was built in
2006, but we have a lot of electronics,
some of which may be injecting noise
i nto the l i nes. Because powerl i ne
networking hardware can be extremely
dependent on a given location’s electrical
wiring, your results may end up being
considerably better, so we’d encourage
you to try the 405E for its compact size
and four-port convenience. ■
BY WILLIAM VAN WINKLE
TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps
Powerline AV Adapter
$97.99
TRENDnet
www.trendnet.com
TRENDnet TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter
Specs: LAN interface: 4 10/100/1000 RJ-45
ports; Power interface: NEMA 5-15; Speed:
500Mbps (powerline), 2Gbps (LAN, full duplex);
Coverage: 984 feet; Security: AES-128;
Dimensions: 4.1 x 3 x 2.2 inches (HxWxD)
CPU / June 2012 37
ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus
System specs: Processor: AMD E-450: GPU: Radeon HD 6320; RAM: 2GB Samsung DDR3-1333; Storage: Kingston SSDNow mS100
Benchmark Results ZOTAC ZBOX
nano XS AD11 Plus
3DMark 11 Entry
3DMark Overall E515
Graphics Score 516
Physics Score 637
Combined Score 373
Graphics Test 1 2.19
Graphics Test 2 2.24
Graphics Test 3 3.21
Graphics Test 4 1.77
Physics Test 2.02
Combined Test 1.73
PC Mark 7
PCMark Score 1547
Productivity Score 1319
Creativity Score 1737
Entertainment Score 1208
Computation Score 746
System Storage Score 3355
SiSoft Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite
Processor Arithmetic
Dhrystone ALU (GIPS) 10.09
Whetstone SSE3 (GFLOPS) 7.82
Processor Multi-Media
x8 Multi-Media Integer SSSE3 15.73
(Mpixels per second)
x8 Multi-Media Float SSE2 12.43
(Mpixels per second)
x8 Multi-Media Double x4 SSE2 6
(Mpixels per second)
Memory Bandwidth
Integer Memory Bandwidth 3.48
B/F AVX/128 (GBps)
Floating Memory Bandwidth 3.61
B/F AVX/128 (GBps)
Media Transcode
Transcode WMV (KBps) 93
Transcode H264 (KBps) 102
Physical Disk
Read Performance (MBps) 242.72
Cinebench 11.5
CPU* 0.64
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta** 150.65
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 (MBps)
Sequential Read 240
Sequential Write 151.5
512KB Random Read 146.5
512KB Random Write 123.9
4KB Random Read QD1 8.84
4KB Random Write QD1 20.62
4KB Random Read QD32 9.955
4KB Random Write QD32 24.34
Aliens Vs. Predator (4XAA, no AF) 9.6
Metro 2033 (4xAA, no AF) 6.9
* points
** pixels per second
Games tested at 1,280 x 720
W
ith the nano XS AD11 Plus,
ZOTAC has somehow managed
to slim down their nano lineup of
miniature PCs to a mere 1.46 x 4.17 x
4.17 inches (HxWxD). Compared to
ZOTAC’s ZBOX nano AD 10 Plus,
which we reviewed in the October
issue, the nano XS AD11 Plus has
been reduced by 0.83 inches in width
and depth, and its height is even
0.31 inches less. ZOTAC was able to
reduce the size by using the Kingston
SSDNow mS100, which is a 64GB
SSD that fits into an mSATA slot on
the motherboard.
In exterior appearance, the nano XS
AD11 Plus is similar to previous itera-
tions of the ZBOX that we’ve reviewed.
When powered on, there’s a ring that
glows green. On the front panel, you’ll
fnd a power button, a 4-in-1 memory
card slot (SD, SDHC, MS Pro, and
Multimedia), a combo 3Gbps eSATA/
USB 2.0 port, and audio inputs. Te
side of the unit features mesh open-
ings where heat can escape. Te rear
of the nano XS AD11 Plus features an
HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, an
Ethernet port, and two USB 2.0 ports.
Te nano XS AD11 Plus is powered
by AMD’s E-450 Zacate APU, which
combines a 1.65GHz dual-core pro-
cessor with Radeon HD 6320 graphics
processing. Te latter supports DirectX
11, features 80 shader units, and runs
at 508MHz (600MHz in Turbo).
With the AD11 Plus model, ZOTAC
installs 2GB of DDR3-1333MHz
memory, which was Samsung-branded
in our test unit. Te 64GB Kingston
SSDNow mS100 offers sequential
read speeds of 255MBps and sequen-
tial writes of 170MBps. The minia-
ture system also includes an integrated
IR receiver and media remote, which
makes it ideal for use as an entertain-
ment PC for use in the living room,
kitchen, or other area where you want
access to a computer.
The remote features a Windows
Media Center button, as well as
volume, record, play, pause, stop,
fast forward, and rewind controls
to manage Windows Media Center
playback and recording. ZOTAC also
bundles a VESA monitor mount, so
you can attach the nano XS AD11
Plus to the back of a monitor to min-
imize the amount of space it takes
up. Because you may not locate the
system in a place with convenient
wired Ethernet access, Zotac also
builds in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and
provides a Wi-Fi antenna.
Our benchmark tests aren’t exactly
ideal for the nano’s hardware, but it
was able to push through even the
toughest of the tests. Te unit scored
particularly well in CrystalDiskMark,
due to the 64GB SSD, posting a
512KB random read of 146.5 and a
512KB random write of 123.9.
The ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS
AD11 makes an ideal PC for those
who want an exceptional small form
factor system. It’d ft next to a TV in
the living room or bedroom as well as
it would in a home theater rack. Te
included remote also makes it easy to
control for media playback. ■
BY NATHAN LAKE
ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus
$419.99
Zotac
www.zotac.com
38 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
movies, and if your system looks better
as a result, well, that’s even better.
Break The Mold,
Not The Bank
Antec’s lighting kits help you create the
unique, stunning look you’ve always
wanted for your PC, but without the cost
you would expect from most custom LED
setups. Antec Advance Accent Lighting
strips and Antec Advance Bias Lighting
kits have a suggested retail price of just
$12.95 each, so you can load up, trick out
your system, and save the leftover cash
for a rainy day. ■
Antec Advance
Bias Lighting
If a soft, white light is
the missing piece from
your build’s look, Antec
Advance Bias Lighting strips are just the
ticket. As with the red and blue Accent
Lighting strips, you can put these white,
6-LED strips on keyboards, cases, or
you can install one on the back of your
monitor to increase image clarity and
contrast, and to reduce eye fatigue.
Less eye fatigue means you can spend
more time playing games and watching
YOU’VE SPENT A LOT OF HOURS
getting your case and the components
inside to look just the way you like
them. Your case is sporting a new
paint job and the acrylic window in
the left side panel shows just how
hard you worked to get the cables
tucked out of sight where possible and
sleeved and bundled everywhere else.
What’s left? Lighting, of course.
You could spend a bunch of cash on
several, separate lighting products
and patch together your own custom
setup, or you could look to one of the
brands you’ve known and trusted for
years: Antec.
Antec has t wo affordable LED kits
that will help you highlight your fa-
vorite components, show off your
handiwork, and generally make your
system look awesome.
Antec Advance
Accent Lighting
Antec Advance Accent
Lighting strips come in
red and blue, are USB-
powered, and are great for internal
or external use. Run them along the
bottom or back panel of your case to
give it extra dimension in low light, run
them along the bottom of your key-
board to tie it in with your PC’s lighting
(not to mention making it easier to
find), or run them along the inside of
your case near window panels to illu-
minate your new pair of video cards or
an immaculate custom cooling setup.
No matter where you put them, Antec
Advance Accent Lighting strips are
the perfect finishing touch.
Advertisement
40 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
L
ast month’s “Mad Reader Mod” featured a frst-time modder, and
as unlikely as it seems, we have another mod from a frst-timer this
month. But that’s not even the most amazing fact about Station 6,
the gray and black beauty you see before you.
Look very closely at the paint and guess how much time Geof Groves
has spent wielding an airbrush. Got your guess ready?
“As for the paint job,” Groves says, “I knew I wanted it to be a smoke-like
outside fnish and a lighter, contrasting inside. Only problem was, I didn’t
have an airbrush, nor had I ever used one. Getting the case done by
a shop was just too expensive for my liking, so I found a deal on
an airbrush on eBay. After getting it in the mail, it sat on my shelf
until the day I was ready to paint the case. (Everything was primered
and base-coated with spray cans.) Tat day, I sat down to practice
my airbrushing skills, and that lasted all of 4 to 4.5 minutes. Ten
I jumped straight into the fnal case job you see. I did repaint the
front panel because it turned out too dark the frst time, but that’s
my frst-ever experience painting with an airbrush. See what you can
learn from watching a few YouTube how-tos?”
Groves constructed Station 6’s enclosure from aluminum
sheets cut in his garage. He did all the cutouts, including the
fan holes, radiator mounts, lettering, and such with his jigsaw,
Dremel, and power drill.
The name “Station 6” came from Groves’ fellow Marine
Gunnery Sergeant Adam Quire; Groves tells us Quire used to
say he was “heading to Station 6” when he’d leave for the day
and head home.
“When I go home, I tend to tinker around with computers and
play games, and at that time I was searching for a name for the mod.
So I flled my buddy in on my idea for naming the case ‘Station 6,’
and it just stuck,” Groves says. “Te mod became my Station 6.”
In addition to cutting, building, and painting the case, Groves
also installed Station 6’s components, including an Intel Core
i7-920 (overclocked to 4.2GHz) mounted on an MSI Big Bang-
Xpower motherboard, 12GB of G.Skill PI Series DDR3-1600,
an XFX Radeon HD 7970, a Termaltake Toughpower 700W
PSU, four 60GB Force Series Corsair SSDs, and three 300GB
Western Digital Raptor hard drives.
Finally, Groves put together the mod’s cooling system, which
consists of two Swiftech 480mm radiators, eight Yate Loon case
fans, EK water blocks, and a Swiftech MCP655 pump.
“I started this case almost on a whim, having no idea how
much work was actually involved when creating a whole case,”
Groves says. “I’m very pleased with myself for grinding it out
through all the measuring, cutting, drilling, and related setbacks.
If you put your mind to it, it can be done.” ■
Station 6
Have a computer mod that will bring
tears to our eyes? Email photos and
a description to madreadermod@
cpumag.com. If we include your system
in our “Mad Reader Mod” section,
we’ll send you $1,500 and
a one-year subscription
to CPU.
Give Us Your Mod
CPU / June 2012 41
Get informed answers to your advanced technical questions from
CPU. Send your questions along with a phone and/or fax number, so
we can call you if necessary, to q&a@cpumag.com. Please include
all pertinent system information.
custom engine will be at least slightly
multithreaded). However, these processors
are rather old, so you may have a hard
time fnding them. For something more
current, we can suggest a 3.1GHz Core
i3-2100 Sandy Bridge chip, which was
readily available for around $125 as we
went to press. For about the same amount
of money, you can get a quad-core AMD
FX-4170 Zambezi, which will also be
more than enough to run Diablo III.
Last but certai nl y not l east, the
graphi cs card i s goi ng to have the
Although Blizzard indicates that Vista
or WinXP will work, if you need to pur-
chase a new OS anyway, we’d recommend
going with Win7 64-bit, and don’t forget
to update it once your build is com-
plete. The 2GB RAM recommendation
is on the lower end of the spectrum for
Win7, let alone a game. Memory is cheap
enough these days that 4GB to 8GB isn’t
buying too much.
Blizzard recommends a 2.4GHz Intel
Core 2 Duo or 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64
X2 5600+ (which suggests that the game’s
Each month we dig deep into the CPU
mailbag in an efort to answer your most
pressing technical questions. Want some
advice on your next purchase or up-
grade? Have a ghost in your machine? Are
BSODs making your life miserable? CPU’s
“Advanced Q&A Corner” is here for you.
Scott W. asked: I’m planning on
getting Diablo III when it comes out, but
my PC just isn’t up to scratch. I’m going
to build a new rig and I’m looking for
suggestions; I’m torn between an AMD
or an Intel.
A: The question of which processor
to go with barely scratches the sur-
face. Tankfully, Blizzard’s Diablo III
System Requirements web page (tinyurl
.com/6wsj8of) is a great place to start.
At the top of this page you’ll fnd min-
imum system requirements for oper-
ating system, processor, graphics card,
memory, storage, optical drive, screen
resolution, and Internet connection.
But if you’re building a new system to
play the game, you’ll be much better
off basing it on the recommended
system requirements.
These recommendations only cover
t he oper at i ng s ys t em, proces s or,
memory, and graphics card. They as-
sume you have a broadband Internet
connection (note: Wi-Fi may not be fast
enough), DVD-ROM drive, and at least
12GB free space on your hard drive or
SSD. Regarding that Internet connec-
tion, keep in mind that you’ll need to
be connected to the ’Net if you want to
play the game.
Check Battle.net for
your Diablo III system
requirements.
44 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
same files came over a USB 2.0 SD
card reader at about 9.1MBps.
The longer more warranty-voiding
answer, however, is a tentative maybe.
A quick Web search for “Mini PCI
Express USB 3.0 Card Adapter” gave
us several hits for add-on modules that
you could use to replace your current
mini PCI-E device. In the Aspire One,
that’s your Wi-Fi radio. Tis module isn’t
really meant for a netbook or notebook,
so you’d need to do some fairly involved
cutting to install the ports and you’d need
to get pretty creative to deliver power to
the module, but it’s by no means impos-
sible (although something tells us that’s
not the answer you were looking for).
on your Acer Aspire One are a part of
the netbook’s chipset. USB 3.0 ports
are similarly backed by some pretty
substantial hardware that needs to be
built into the motherboard. The ports
themselves have a different internal
structure, as well.
Sadl y, you’re al so out of l uck as
far as a CF-to-SD card adapter i s
concerned. Even if you found such a
device, (we couldn’t) the card reader
on your Aspire One won’t likely be any
faster than your USB 2.0 card reader.
We tested the data rate on our Dell
Latitude E6400 notebook and found
the internal SD card reader transferred
files at approximately 7.3MBps; the
bi ggest i mpact on your enj oyment
of Diablo III. Here, Blizzard recom-
mends an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
or AMD Radeon HD 4870. That’s
great if you are building your system in
2009, but you’ll get a lot more mileage
out of a current graphics card. Those
graphics cards come with 1GB and
896MB of onboard memory, respec-
ti vel y, so l et’s make 1GB GDDR5
our recommended mi ni mum for a
graphics card. Those two cards have
fairly similar fill rates, (between 12 and
16 gigapixels per second and between
30 and 36 gigatexels per second) and
memory bandwidths (115.2GBps and
111.9GBps, respectively). A current
graphics card with similar numbers
from NVIDIA is the GeForce GTX
550 Ti. If you’re playing at higher than
HD (1080p) resolutions, we’d even
suggest a GeForce GTX 560 to be able
to turn on plenty of eye candy. From
AMD, the Radeon HD 7770 should
deliver a solid experience; the Radeon
HD 6850 will cost you just a little bit
more but give you enough headroom
to handle higher resolutions and all the
visual enhancements.
Steve H. asked: I have an Acer
Aspire One AO722-0828 netbook, which
I love. As a photographer, I use a Canon
EOS 5D Mark II, which uses Compact-
Flash cards to store images and videos.
The problem is that the netbook doesn’t
have a CF slot, so I’m forced to use a
USB adapter to get my images onto the
netbook. My camera’s still image fles
are up to 25MB each, and the videos
are up to 200MB each, so a full day of
shooting can result is as much as 7GB,
which takes a long time to transfer over
to my netbook.
Is there a way to upgrade one of the
netbook’s USB 2.0 ports to USB 3.0? Bar-
ring that, is there a CF-to-SD card adapter
that will speed things up for me?
A: We can definitely relate to your im-
patience, Steve, but unfortunately the
short answer is no. The USB 2.0 ports
Yes, it’s possible to mod
an Acer Aspire netbook to
support USB 3.0, but you
might not like the tradeoff.
This is how the mini
PCI-E USB 3.0 module
fts onto a Mini-ITX
motherboard.
MPEXUSB3S2
CPU / June 2012 45
at the top, click the Advanced tab, and then
click Change from the Virtual Memory sec-
tion. Uncheck the box in front of Automati-
cally Manage Paging File Size For All Drives,
select your OS drive, click the Custom Size
radio button, and input the size you calcu-
lated here. To prevent the paging fle from
growing any larger, input the same number
in the Maximum Size (MB) box, click Set,
and then click OK. If you shrink the size of
the paging fle from the default setting, you’ll
have to restart to make the change. ■
below the green bar graph to the Cached
number from the Physical Memory (MB)
box. Note the Cached memory is how
much data is currently stored in the page
fle. Your page fle should be at least this
large. Adding 300MB should cover you
for extreme cases.
Next, click the Start button, click Control
Panel, click System And Security, and then
click System. Click Advanced System Set-
tings from the left side of the screen, click the
Settings button from the Performance section
Anthony M. asked: I’ve already
started assembling the parts for a new
computer build and I settled on the ASUS
P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. What I like
most about it is the eight DIMM slots
and support for up to 64GB of memory.
My question is, with this much memory,
won’t that require a really large page fle?
I’m particularly concerned because I’d
like to use an SSD for my OS drive. Does
the old 1.5 * memory for a page fle rule
still apply? Do I even need a page fle?
A: We’ll tackle your last question frst. By all
accounts, you do need a page fle. Sure, many
have reported running flawlessly without
it, however, some applications require it.
Without a list of everything you run, or will
run in the future, leaving the page fle intact
is the best strategy. According to Microsoft
TechNet blogger Mark Russinovich, having
a page fle also lets the system have access to
more usable memory. Furthermore, without
a set pool of virtual memory, Windows won’t
be able to write kernel crash dumps.
You didn’t mention it, but we assume
you’re going to be running Win7 on your
new system, which does a pretty good job
of managing virtual memory on its own.
For a vast majority of users, even enthu-
siasts, it’s best to just let Windows set the
virtual memory minimum and maximum
values. If you’re running 64GB of RAM,
however, a Win7 system will automatically
set the paging fle to 64GB, which is likely
much more than you realistically need.
If you’re determined to manually
manage your virtual memory size, then
you really need to monitor the system
to determine how much you may need
in a worst-case scenario. Launch the
Performance Monitor by pressing CTRL-
ALT-DELETE, clicking Start Task Man-
ager, clicking the Performance tab. Now
load your system by launching and using
several applications simultaneously, par-
ticularly those that are memory-intensive,
that you might typically run. To calcu-
late your Commit Charge (how much
memory Windows is using), you need
to look at the Task Manager’s Perfor-
mance tab and add the Memory number
Add these two numbers together to fnd a
good page fle size.
Input a custom virtual memory
setting in this menu.
“If you’re determined to manually
manage your virtual memory size, then
you really need to monitor the system
to determine how much you may need
in a worst-case scenario."
46 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
“The G1600 is intended
for multi-GPU users and
is capable of running
up to four high-end
video cards,” Wang
says. “G1600 can also
support some special
motherboards, such
as SR-2 or SR-X from
EVGA, which demand
additional power sockets.”
The full list of connectors
with the G1600 includes:
· One 24-pin ATX MB
(main board unit) handles the motherboard’s main power
input, as well as Ì/O control.
· Two 8-pin CPU connectors and one 4-pin CPU
connector. Some units require a detachable 4-pin module
for the CPU.
· 10 6+2-pin PCÌ-E connectors handle power for graphics
cards, with an 8-pin design or a 6-pin plus detachable
2-pin design.
· 14 SATA connectors provide power for any SATA
interface devices.
· 10 4-pin Molex connectors provide power to
peripheral devices.
· Two 4-pin FDD connectors provide power for floppy
disk drives, although many hard disk drives also use
this connector.
Sources: Ecomaster, LEPA
G1600’s Cables & Connectors
largest power supply unit. “We do know
that 1600W is the largest PSU in the
market and would catch everyone’s
attention, but, to be honest, the primary
reason is simply to fulfll users’ demand.”
Although such a large power supply
may be overkill for many computer users,
high-end users and enthusiasts certainly
will fnd a way to take advantage of the
G1600’s features.
“For super overclockers, multi-GPU
users, or even professionals who run
supercomputer workstations, G1600 can
meet their demand easily,” Wang says.
Go For The Gold
The G1600’s 80 Plus Gold rating is a
certified measurement that guarantees a
certain level of energy-efcient performance
stable, and reliable, so that it will be able
to fulfll its quintessential users’ need,”
says Joseph Wang, PSU product manager
for LEPA, as he expl ains why the
company decided to issue the market’s
I
f big power supply units have become
all the rage, the Ecomaster LEPA
G1600 is taking things to a new level.
The G1600 is the largest power
supply unit on the market today, ofering
1600W of power, with a peak power level
of 1700W. Large power supply units
typically will provide the most beneft to
those enthusiast users who have high-end
gaming systems, as well as people who
may be operating servers or workstations.
“With peak power up to 1700 watts,
the G1600 is designed to be efficient,
Powerful Power Supply
LEPA Takes Top Wattage Crown With Release Of G1600
48 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Not only does the G1600 have a
higher power output than other
power supply units, but LEPA
has also outdone competing
PSUs in terms of the number of
+12V rails the 1600W contains.
With its six +12V rails, Wang
says the G1600 offers a peak
40 to 50 amperes per rail,
which caters to enthusiasts with
powerful graphics cards.
“Unlike other PSUs featuring
a single +12V rail, the G1600
is equipped with six rails with
ample amperes on each rail
for great
compatibility
with heavy-
duty graphics
cards,” Wang
says.
Sources:
Ecomaster, LEPA
G1600 Socket Diagram
Keep The Heat At Bay
With a PSU running at such high
power levels, the ability to keep the unit
cool was something that required a lot of
design work, Wang says. Te entire system
works together to do the job of cooling,
making use of a 135mm fan with speeds
between 1,000 and 2,500rpm, as well as a
honeycomb-shaped ventilation grill.
“We also put a lot of efort into the airfow
circulation design, where the heat can be
more efficiently and quickly managed by
directly cooling the hot spots,” he says.
Using a two-sided circuit board provides
an advantage to the cooling system, too,
Wang says.
“Since it frees more internal space for
components, a double-sided PCB layout
has better airflow than a single-sided
PCB and thereby dissipates heat more
efectively,” Wang says.
loads. However, the PSUs that have re-
ceived these ratings will provide at least
some level of beneft in energy efciency,
even if it’s less than some of the marketing
materials imply.
“Te more efcient a power supply is,
the less energy it wastes, which produces
less heat and thereby enhances components’
lifespan and reliability,” Wang says.
Although a low-power-mode measure-
ment is not part of the 80 Plus Gold rating,
Wang says LEPA has made sure that its
G1600 PSU does a good job with power
efciency in that mode, too.
“Some power supplies with Gold
certifcation may still be relatively inefcient
in standby mode,” he says. “LEPA G1600
puts the standby power into consideration,
managing its standby power consumption
much lower than 1W to achieve better
standby efciency.”
at a variety of loads. At 100% and 20%
of rated loads, for example, the Gold
standard unit must achieve at least 87%
energy efciency. At a 50% rated load, a
Gold standard PSU must achieve 90%
energy efciency.
“Every now and then, we receive users’
feedback demanding larger wattage power
supplies with higher efciency to support
the heavy-duty systems,” Wang says. “To
respond to the users’ voices, we’ve put
tremendous work to develop the G1600,
surpassing 80 Plus Gold standards.”
It’s worth noting that some enthusiast-
class computer users don’t believe these
types of ratings really provide much of
a benefit in terms of price savings, as
most computer users don’t operate at a
full power load at all times, and many
companies estimate the cost savings of
the 80 Plus standards based on full power
CPU / June 2012 49
With such a powerful PSU, LEPA needed to put some
significant safety features into the unit, including:
· BOP (Brown-Out Protection)
· OCP (Over Current Protection)
· OPP (Over Power Protection)
· OTP (Over Temperature Protection)
· OVP (Over Voltage Protection)
· SCP (Short-Circuit Protection)
· SÌP (Surge and Ìnrush Protection)
· UVP (Under Voltage Protection)
For those who are running high-end graphics cards in
their systems, Wang says OCP is especially important.
"To retain the safety, G1600 has +12V rails with individual
OCP,¨ Wang says. "Therefore the power supply will shut
off to protect the system when unusual, huge current flow
occurs. Furthermore, for a power supply with OCP, the
protection will kick in 25 times faster than ones without the
safety of OCP.¨
Although the difference only amounts to a fraction of
a second-a PSU without the OCP safety feature may
require 500 milliseconds to shut down the power supply, vs.
about 25 milliseconds for the G1600-Wang says that small
amount of time is significant.
“Such a tiny window of time will determine whether
your system will live or die,¨ Wang says. "G1600 offers
high compatibility with high-end video cards with
complete protections.¨
Sources: LEPA, Ecosystem
G1600 Safety Features
“For the future, we are aiming to create
more high-efficient products to not only
offer users more stable and reliable power
solutions, but also to save energy,” Wang says.
“Will we launch any power supplies going
beyond 1700W? We have been working
on some projects to evaluate the feasibility.
However, it’ll be a greater challenge to strike
a balance between larger power output and
electrical safety regulations.” ■
BY KYLE SCHURMAN
depth. Wang says most similar PSUs have
a depth of at least 8 to nearly 9.5 inches.
“Every time we mention the product
concept of G1600 to our prospects, a
question quickly arises: How large
is this product going to be?” he says.
“Because of its smaller size, the G1600
allows users to have more fexibility of
PC chassis selection.”
Wang says LEPA has plans to continue
trying to build even more power into its
PSUs of the future.
By using both sides of the circuit
board, LEPA minimizes its conduction
losses and can connect more components,
Wang says. Te G1600 PSU can generate
additional power with its two-sided board,
by connecting MOSFETs and ICs, too.
Small, But Powerful
Considering the ability of the G1600
to deliver such large amounts of power,
it’s a bit of a surprise to see the size of the
unit, which measures just over 7 inches in
Protection Trigger Range
+3.3V +5V +12V1/V2/V3/V4/V5/V6
Over Current Protection 30A~45A 30A~45A 40A~50A
Under Voltage Protection 2.0V~2.4V 3.3V~3.7V 8.5V~9.5V
Over Voltage Protection 3.9V~4.5V 5.7V~6.5V 13.3V~14.5V
Protection Point
Over Power Protection Triggered when output power >110~160% of rated max load
Over Temperature Protection Triggered when PSU heat sink >90°C~110°C
Short Circuit Protection Main output power shall latch into shut down state within 50ms
when short circuit applied. +5Vsb is designed as auto recovery
mode protection.
50 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
It all started with Moore’s Law, named after Intel
co-founder Gordon Moore, who said that the number
of transistors on a CPU should double every two years.
Since the integrated circuit first appeared in 1958, the
company has followed Moore’s Law closely.
“The future of Moore’s Law will continue to deliver a
magnitude of exponential capability increases, driving a
fundamental shift in processor and graphics computing,”
says Galo Bustamante, Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop
platform marketing manager. “Market needs and Intel’s
architectural innovation will determine if the capability
increases are directed towards improved performance,
increased graphics processing capabilities, or new
functionality not yet developed.”
Adding to the idea of Moore’s Law, since 2006 Intel has
made use of what it calls a Tick-Tock model, planning to
release new microprocessor technologies every 12 to 18
months. With the release of Ivy Bridge, Intel remains on track.
“The Tick-Tock model aims at staggering technology
process improvements from architectural improvements
with each generation of products,” Bustamante says.
Each Tick introduces a new manufacturing technology
process, going from 45nm to 32nm to Ivy Bridge’s 22nm.
Chips that have been Ticks include Penryn (November
2007) and Westmere (January 2010). Each Tock introduces
a new microarchitecture, including the Sandy Bridge archi-
tecture released in January 2011. This means that each
manufacturing process lasts a little over two years and each
microarchitecture lasts a little over two years.
On the Intel roadmap, a new microarchitecture (the Tock),
code-named “Haswell,” is scheduled for a mid-2013 release,
while sometime in 2014, you can expect to see a 14nm
manufacturing process (a new Tick) used on the Haswell
microarchitecture.
“The definition of each new product generation starts
years ahead of the introduction, but Intel monitors and
determines the ability to introduce innovation well into the
execution phase,” Bustamante says. ■
Source: Intel
Intel’s Tick-Tock History & Future
W
hen Ivy Bridge appeared on
Intel’s CPU roadmap, it was in
the “Tick” position on Intel’s
Tick-Tock model. We knew that Ivy
Bridge, as a Tick, would shrink the Sandy
Bridge microarchitecture manufacturing
process. The shrink would also reduce
the overall power demands for the chip,
as well, but most expected that the other
improvements in Ivy Bridge would be
incremental in nature.
In other words, most people didn’t
expect anything earth-shattering.
Ticks are usually a setup for the Tock
coming a year or so down the road. Te
Tock position represents significant
changes to the chip’s architecture. Last
year’s release of Sandy Bridge followed
this model, providing a completely new
chip architecture.
So, with Ivy Bridge’s “Tick” release
this April, Intel’s switch to a 22nm
manufacturing process didn’t catch
anyone off guard. However, the sig-
nifcant change in the way Ivy Bridge will
handle graphics was a bit of a surprise.
In fact, Intel is referring to Ivy Bridge
as a “Tick+,” at least partially to signify
the reworked graphics processing power,
which should provide big benefits,
especially in the mobile arena.
“Ivy Bridge is introducing a new
gr aphi cs archi t ect ure, del i ver i ng
White Paper:
Intel Ivy Bridge
Meet The Tick That Thinks It’s A Tock
CPU / June 2012 51
With Ivy Bridge, you’ll find a built-in digital random number
generator, which will result in stronger security measures.
The DRNG, which Intel is calling Secure Key, is part of Intel’s
inclusion of several ISA bus changes with Ivy Bridge. Each of
the random numbers that Ivy Bridge generates is considered
compliant with encryption standards.
The DRNG generates numbers using an Intel-created algo-
rithm, which makes use of a physical process that’s based
on indeterminate states, guaranteeing random numbers. The
algorithm measures the work of semiconductor circuitry inside
the chip to find the indeterminate states.
“Secure Key is a processor technology designed
to produce secure, high-quality, high-volume random
numbers through an on-chip entropy source to sup-
port usage models like full-disk encryption, Internet
security, VPN, and so forth,” says Galo Bustamante,
Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager.
A NRBG (non-deterministic random bit generator) is the
entropy source, and it works with a BIST (built-in self-test)
engine to begin the process. Online Health Tests ensure
the quality of the process. The Test Port and the DRNG
Wrapper Interface perform further debugging, ensuring a
truly random number.
Finally, the Combined Conditioner/DRBG area per-
forms the final post-processing work via AES (Advanced
Encryption Standard) modes. ■
Source: Intel
Digital Random Number Generator
manufacturi ng process nonethel ess
gave I nt el t he oppor t uni t i es t o
improve the CPU in other areas, as
well. This move gives Ivy Bridge higher
performance while also reducing its
power demands compared to previous
chips from Intel.
“Shrinking the process technology
makes room for a larger transistor budget
for the platform architects and product
vs. 12 EUs in Sandy
Bridge,” Bustamante
says. “On the display
s i de , I v y Br i dg e
g r a p h i c s d e l i v e r
s uppor t f or t hree
independent displays,
whi ch was l i mi ted
to two with Sandy
Bridge.”
Bustamante says
the move to stronger
graphi cs capabi l i ty
with the integrated
GPU has been on-
going for the past few
years.
“ Wi t h t he pas t
two generations of
products, Intel has
made signifcant strides in advancing the
graphics and media capabilities of the
processor graphics to meet the needs of
demanding applications,” he says.
More Transistors,
Overclocking Features
Al t hough Ivy Bri dge’s graphi cs
proces s i ng capabi l i t i es are much
i mpr oved, t he move t o a 22nm
significant performance improvements
on graphics and media over Sandy Bridge
that will beneft both desktop and mobile
form factors,” says Galo Bustamante,
Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform
marketing manager.
Added Graphics Power
The improved graphics capabilities
within Ivy Bridge’s integrated GPU
will let Ivy Bridge meet demands for
better graphics performance. Although
gamers and power users will still want
the power of a dedi cated graphi cs
card, an Ivy Bridge CPU’s integrated
graphics should be able to easily meet
the graphics processing demands of
average users.
With the increasing popularity and
frequency of HD video playback on
average desktop and laptop computers,
all consumers are requiring more graphics
horsepower. Intel has responded to these
demands with Ivy Bridge. Te new chip
will support DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1,
and OpenGL 3.1, as well as provide
greater 3D performance.
“In addition, higher-end Ivy Bridge
SKUs with Intel HD 4000 Graphics have
a higher number of execution units, 16,
52 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
The Ivy Bridge processor has a built-in display engine. The
processor communicates with the platform controller hub via
the Flexible Display Interface channels. FDI is a proprietary
Intel technology that carries data for the display to the PCH.
Through the three digital ports, the PCH can support a variety
of display output formats, including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and
sVDO. There’s also support for VGA displays built into the PCH.
Ivy Bridge supports DMI 2.0 (Direct
Media Interface), and the chip offers
a maximum theoretical bandwidth of
2GBps in each direction.
Ivy Bridge offers 16 PCI-E 3.0 for
discrete graphics cards, as well. ■
Source: Intel
Ivy Bridge Display Options
A security feature built into Ivy Bridge is Supervisory Mode
Execute Protection, which Intel calls OS Guard Technology.
With this, Ivy Bridge chips can provide protection against
EoP (Escalation of Privilege) attacks, where applications
that are unknown will be unable to operate in supervisor
mode or gain access to key areas of the OS.
A typical EoP attack will take advantage of programming
errors and flaws to obtain access to areas of the system
that normally would be blocked to an unknown application.
The attacker then is able to control the system by gaining
privileges he isn’t normally entitled to have. However, Ivy
Bridge looks to eliminate the ability of an attacker to exploit a
flaw through implementation of SMEP in the CPU.
When using SMEP, each application in the system is
assigned a level of permission, what Intel calls a flag or level.
An application assigned Level 0 will have all permissions,
including access to the operating system kernel, while an
application assigned Level 3 will have only the most basic
permissions, with no access to the operating system kernel
or operating system services.
You can think of the permission levels like rings, as shown
here. The application with access to the innermost ring
also has access to any rings surrounding it. An application
with access restricted to an outer ring cannot access the
inner rings. By limiting the permissions and access for each
application, SMEP should better guard against EoP attacks.
“The typical user, if using an operating system that takes
advantage of [SMEP], will see no performance impact
to benign applications,” says Galo Bustamante, Intel’s
Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager. “Attack
applications will generate exceptions to be handled by the
operating system.” ■
Source: Intel
Supervisory Mode Execute Protection
manufacturability details,” Bustamante
s a ys . “ 3D Tr i - Ga t e t e c hnol ogy
tackl es many of the considerations
and enables much better transistor
performance at low voltage operating
points, improving the overall power-
performance equation.”
Overclocking will be possible with
unlocked chips, labeled as “K” chips, of
course, Bustamante says.
“Unlocked Ivy Bridge improves the
user’s ability to achieve high core and
memory frequencies by independently
r ai s i ng t he cl ock s peeds wi t hout
Although there are many advantages
t o s hr i nki ng t he manuf act ur i ng
process, making the change is not an
easy process, which is why companies
like Intel must carefully plan for the
transition over several years. Bustamante
says designers must take into account
things such as gate voltages, leakage
from the transistors, and design rules
when tr yi ng to i mpl ement a new
manufacturing process.
“Transitioning to smaller process
t echnol ogy requi res cons i der abl e
at t ent i on t o myr i ad des i gn and
planners to introduce new architectural
innovation geared at improving the
system performance and adding new
functionality,” Bustamante says.
A quad-core Ivy Bridge chip likely
will offer about 20% more transistors
than a similar Sandy Bridge chip—
about 1. 4 bi l l i on vs. 1. 16 bi l l i on,
but Bustamante says it will have a
die size of about 160mm
2
, or about
26% smal l er t han Sandy Bri dge’s
216mm
2
. Additionally, Intel is using
its new 3D Tri-Gate technology in the
22nm transistors.
CPU / June 2012 53
(formerly code-named Panther Point)
chipsets alongside Ivy Bridge, and an
Ivy Bri dge-Panther Poi nt pl atform
will give builders access to the most
features, including four built-in USB
3.0 ports and 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes.
A Loud Tick
Generally, when Intel brings a Tock
chip to market on its CPU schedule,
it’s a pretty loud release, thanks to
the new architecture. Ticks often are
accompanied by a little less fanfare,
and you might have to strain a bit to
hear the release of a Tick.
In this case, though, Ivy Bridge is sure
to make plenty of noise. ■
cache is exactly the same in Ivy Bridge
and Sandy Bri dge, other than the
fact that Ivy Bridge is slightly better
enabled to handle single threads.
“Intel has continually modified and
improved the ability to issue and retire
more and more uOps per cycle, focusing
on both raw parallel capabilities and
mi croarchi tectural i mprovements,”
Bustamante says.
Ivy Bridge CPUs are compatibl e
wi t h Int el ’s LGA1155 pr oces s or
socket, just l ike Sandy Bridge. Ivy
Bridge will also be compatible with
6-Seri es motherboards, as l ong as
the proper BIOS support is added.
That said, Intel released its 7-Series
impacting other system components,”
he says. “All non-K versions of 3rd
Generation Intel Core i7 and Core
i5 processors have a limited unlocked
mul t i pl i er. Memor y, power, and
graphics are fully unlocked.”
Thanks For The Assist,
Sandy Bridge!
Some aspects of the Ivy Bri dge
ar chi t ect ure remai n t he s ame as
what’s found in Sandy Bridge chips.
The f our - wi de f r ont end i n Ivy
Bridge continues to work with both
x86 instructions and dedicated uOp
i nst r uct i ons. In Ivy Bri dge, uOp
scheduling is the same, too. The uOp
The 3D Tri-Gate transistor works differently from a traditional,
planar transistor because it makes use of one or more fins.
With the fin, the transistor’s gate makes contact with the
conducting channel on three sides.
Using the multiple-fin Tri-Gate design, Intel will be able to
offer high-end CPUs that feature a mixture of high-performance
transistors with multiple fins, as well as mainstream chips with
a single fin.
Because the control of the electrical current is better
with Tri-Gate, its transistors can use less power than planar
transistors, which is
important in allowing
Tri-Gate processors to
potentially work well in
mobile devices. (For
more information on 3D
Tri-Gate Technology, see
page 52 in the August
2011 issue of CPU.) ■
Source: Intel
3D Tri-Gate Technology
The new processors based on Ivy Bridge will continue
to carry the Core brand name. In keeping with Intel’s
recent naming scheme, Ivy Bridge CPUs are known as
3rd Generation Intel Core processors, and all will have a
similar basic architecture.
Initially, they’ll be quad-core chips with a shared L3
cache area. The integrated processor graphics will also use
the L3 cache.
The initial Ivy Bridge offerings
will only involve quad-core
processors. We should see dual-
core and mobile, low-power CPUs
using Ivy Bridge by June. ■
Source: Intel
Ivy Bridge Processor Die
54 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
I T’ S BEEN SI X MONTHS SI NCE WE LAST
LOOKED at the state of the graphics card industry.
In that time, there have been a surprising number of
devel opments. Both AMD and NVIDIA made the
transition from 40nm to 28nm, each launched a flagship
graphics card, and we’ve already witnessed the opening
salvos of what could shape up to be another price war.
AMD’s Southern Islands
Vacation
AMD unvei l ed t he f i rst of t he Sout hern Isl ands
family of GPUs, the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950, in
late December 2011. When they arrived two weeks
later, the Tahiti-codenamed GPUs became the first
to showcase AMD’s new GCN (Graphic Core Next)
compute architecture. Like the original Fermi (GF100)
from NVIDIA, AMD desi gned these new cards to
more aggres s i vel y cr unch par al l el proces s es and
GPGPU workloads.
To give you an idea how far AMD has come from
Cayman (Radeon HD 6900), consider that AMD got
2.703 TFLOPs of compute power out of the Radeon
HD 6970’s 389mm
2
die. Tahiti has a die that isn’t
much smaller at 352mm
2
, but AMD has achieved 3.789
TFLOPs of compute power for a more than 150%
raw compute performance improvement per square
millimeter. Highlights of the flagship GPU include a
58 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
384-bit memory bus (Northern Islands GPUs peaked at a
256-bit memory bus), 3GB GDDR5, improved PowerTune
technol ogy f or more ef f i ci ent i dl e and l oad thermal
performance, and PCI-E 3.0 support. The new family also
supports AMD’s Discrete Digital Multi-Point Audio, which
lets you configure your monitors with built-in speakers to
handle independent audio streams for a more immersive
l i steni ng experi ence; thi nk of i t as Earfi ni ty for your
monitors’ speakers.
AMD went on to flesh out the Southern Islands family
i n February (Radeon HD 7750 and 7770) and March
(7850 and 7870), but the OEM-only 7670, 7570, 7470,
7450, and 7350 were l i ttl e more than rebrands, sti l l
manufactured at 40nm. In years past, these cards may have
seen more than OEM-onl y attention, but the growing
performance of on-die GPUs from AMD and Intel are
really making their presence felt on this end of the market.
NVIDIA Answers With Kepler
It was very quiet in Santa Clara at the end of 2011. The
Green Team let AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series debut
without an answer. Then in late March, NVIDIA broke
its silence with the launch of its new GPU, Kepler, in the
guise of the GeForce GTX 680. With this launch, NVIDIA
has made a deliberate shift to a smaller GPU.
Kepler has 3.5 billion transistors and is manufactured
on the same 28nm process as AMD’s new GPUs. The
di e i n the GTX 680 i s 294mm
2
, whi ch i s downri ght
tiny compared to the GPU under the hood of AMD’s
flagship Radeon HD 7970. You may have noticed that
the codename for the GTX 680 is GK104, which follows
the naming scheme of the GF114 and GF104, which were
the GPUs in the GTX 560 and GTX 460, respectively.
This card also only requires a pair of six-pin PCI-E power
connectors to run. Highlights of the new card include
PCI-E 3.0, Purevideo VP5 hardware acceleration, four-way
multimonitor 2D support. GTX 680 owners can now enjoy
three-way NVIDIA Surround 3D without SLI.
Although we have yet to get our hands on a GeForce GTX
680 (supply was very tight as we went to press), it sounds
like even at its smaller size, the Kepler GPU is giving
AMD’s ace a serious run for the money. In fact, AMD
dropped the prices of the 7900s and 7700s and threw in a
(temporary) free game bundle to further sweeten the deal.
NVIDIA further shook things up as we went to press with
the announcement of the GeForce GTX 690. Scheduled
to be avai l abl e for a cool $999 by the ti me most of
you read thi s, the GTX 690 drops two GK104 GPUs
on a si ngl e board, whi ch theoreti cal l y means you can
get the performance of two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI,
only with one graphics card. The GTX 690 boasts 3,072
CUDA cores, as well as 4GB of GDDR5. It looks like a
stunner, too, with a plated aluminum frame, magnesium
fan housi ng, pol ycarbonate wi ndows, and l aser-etched
LED lighting.
No Time Like The Present
Oh yeah, now’s a great time to buy a new graphics card.
Read on for our updated Video Card Buyer’s Guide, where
you’ll find tons of cards priced to move, along with a few
words on why they’re worth your money, who should buy,
as well as memory, available ports, and interface specs.
Prices marked with an asterisk (*) were current online
prices at the time of this writing. ■
CPU / June 2012 59
NVIDIA Quadro 5000
$2,249
www.nvidia.com
Why You’ll Dig It: The Quadro 5000 features NVIDIA’s
new Scalable Geometry Engine technology, which enables
the GPU to process up to 950 million triangles per second,
making it ideal for high-performance 3D workloads. This
dual-slot workstation card features 352 CUDA cores
capable of pumping out 718 GFLOPs single precision and
359GFLOPs double precision raw compute power. The
2.5GB of GDDR5 can also handle 120GBps memory band-
width. Other features include NVIDIA Multi-OS Technology,
SLI Mosaic Technology, NVIDIA CUDA Architecture, SDI
option, G-Sync option, SLI frame rendering support, and
NVIEW Display Management Software.
Who Should Apply: Professionals looking to super-
charge their graphics-intensive applications will be pleased
with the performance and feature set of this card.
Memory: 2.5GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: DVI, Dual DisplayPort, Stereo
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 680 (GV-N680OC-2GD)
$524.99
www.gigabyte.us
Why You’ll Dig it: For its NVIDIA-based behemoth, GIGA-
BYTE turned to its WINDFORCE cooler and a “Triangle Cool”
Technology configuration to keep the GeForce GTX 680 quiet
and quick. The stock GeForce GTX 680 has base and boost
clocks set at 1,006MHz and 1,058MHz, but GIGABYTE blew
those out of the water with 1,071MHz and 1,137MHz base and
boost clocks, respectively. With the collection of Ultra Durable
VGA components on this card handling power delivery, ambi-
tious overclockers can confidently push this GTX 680 even
further. We also like the GTX 680’s support for tri- and quad-
display multimonitor gaming without SLI.
Who Should Apply: This card is perfect for gamers who
want enough graphics horsepower to run the games of today
and tomorrow with buttery smooth frame rates and tons of
eye-pleasing extras enabled.
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
60 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7970 (GV-R797OC-3GD)
$499.99*
www.gigabyte.us
Why You’ll Dig It: GIGABYTE’s overclocked take on
the Radeon HD 7970 pushes the core clock up 75MHz
from the stock setting, largely thanks to GIGABYTE’s
exclusive “Triangle Cool” Technology-infused WIND-
FORCE cooler, which uses three large fans with an
antiturbulence structure in a new triangle pattern. This
graphics card also features Ultra Durable VGA compo-
nents, including a 2-ounce copper PCB, solid capacitors,
ferrite-core chokes, and more, to let you push the clocks
higher while maintaining consistent and efficient power
delivery to the parts that need it.
Who Should Apply: Gamers and graphics profes-
sionals will find more than a few things to love about
this card. Eyefinity enthusiasts will also get great results
with this Radeon HD 7970.
Memory: 3GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, Dual Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
MSI R7970 Lightning
$519.99*
us.msi.com
Why You’ll Dig It: The Radeon HD 7970 is already a
beast in the latest DX11 games and 3D applications, but
MSI goes above and beyond the call of duty with this over-
clocked card. The 1,070MHz core and 1,400MHz memory
clocks are impressive, as is the Twin Frozr IV cooler, which
is designed to eliminate dust buildup and keep the card
running fast and cool. We also like that MSI lets you unlock
all protections and add your own extreme overclock. Other
features include Digital PWM Controller, Enhanced Power
Design, and MSI’s Military Class III Components.
Who Should Apply: This card is ideal for serious
gamers and 3D application enthusiasts who want the
best this generation has to offer.
Memory: 3GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, Four Mini DisplayPort
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 61
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680
$499.99
www.zotacsua.com
Why You’ll Dig It: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 raises the performance
bar with NVIDIA’s new GPU boost technology that maximizes clock
speeds on the fly for maximum performance in every gaming
scenario. New NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync technology adapts the
monitor’s vertical sync dynamically to current frame rates for maximum
gaming smoothness and playability. NVIDIA Surround technology
enables you to have an unmatched immersive gaming experience with a
single ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 graphics card and three displays. A new
Assassin’s Creed 3-Game pack (Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed:
Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations) is bundled with the
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 graphics card. ZOTAC’s lifetime warranty for
enthusiast and performance graphics cards is available when you
register at ZOTAC’s U.S. website within 30 days of purchase.
Who Should Apply: Gaming enthusiasts will get the most out of
their games with this card.
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
XFX Double D HD 7950 (FX-795A-TDFC)
$398.99*
www.xfxforce.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Our first glimpse of the Radeon HD
7970 came from XFX (see the April issue of CPU, on page
17), and just about everything we loved about that card
is here on the XFX Double D HD 7950. Although this card
comes with stock core (800MHz) and memory (1,250MHz)
clocks, the Double Dissipation cooler is ample enough to
support some significant overclocks for willing tweakers.
Other features include XFactor components, including solid
capacitors, ferrite core chokes, two ounces of copper in the
PCB, dust-free IP-5X fans, and the XFX-logoed bracket.
Who Should Apply: Serious gamers who want a
compelling and quiet gaming experience will love this
card. DYI overclockers will also find it has plenty of
core clock headroom.
Memory: 3GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, Dual Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
62 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 GHz Edition (AX7870 2GBD5-2DHPP)
$349.99*
www.powercolor.com
Why You’ll Dig It: The PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 GHz
Edition is based on the Pitcairn GPU that has a stock
1,000MHz core clock, hence the “GHz Edition” moniker. But
PowerColor takes things a step further in this PCS+ version by
kicking the core clock up another 100MHz. The memory clock
also gets a 25MHz boost for good measure. The card is ca-
pable of such impressive clocks thanks to the advanced cooler
that uses three heatpipes that come in direct contact with the
GPU. A large 92mm fan is also capable of pulling 60% more
air across the fins than a standard 80mm fan. PowerColor’s
design makes the card 15% more stable, 10% cooler, and
15% quieter than the stock card.
Who Should Apply: Gamers with an affinity for Eyefinity
will be impressed with this card, and single-monitor gamers
won’t be disappointed, either.
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, Dual Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
ASUS ENGTX570 DCII/2DIS/1280MD5
$314.99*
usa.asus.com
Why You’ll Dig It: When we think triple-slot graphics
cards, ASUS is the board maker that immediately comes
to mind, and it’s because of cards like this one. Out of the
box, this GeForce GTX 570 has an overclocked core set at
742MHz. Even so, it can pull heat away from the GPU more
efficiently than a stock 570; ASUS reports its GTX 570 is
20% cooler thanks to the DirectCU II fansink. ASUS’ Super
Alloy Power components streamline power delivery for
better performance, more stable overclocking, 35 degrees
Celsius cooler operation, and the potential for a significantly
longer lifespan. The bundled Gamer OSD tool also makes
on-the-fly overclocking easy enough for beginners to try.
Who Should Apply: Gamers who want a fast card with
a cooler that can handle being pushed to its limits will want
to check out this tri-slot GTX 570.
Memory: 1,280MB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
64 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
HIS 7850 IceQ X (H785QN2G2M)
$279.99*
www.hisdigital.com
Why You’ll Dig It: What can you do with a stock-clocked
card with an aftermarket cooler like Hightech Information Sys-
tem’s IceQ X? The option is yours to leave the card as is and
enjoy years of stable and quiet gaming, or you can push the
core clock to new heights for even better performance. This
card’s cooler features a 92mm silent fan, has four heatpipes
to more quickly evacuate heat from the GPU’s surface, and
only generates 28dB when idle. Like many other cards here,
this card features solid capacitors and chokes and a Dynamic
Phase Control PWM, which makes this card more energy-
efficient and reliable. And like the rest of the Radeon HD 7000
series cards, this card supports AMD’s Eyefinity 2.0.
Who Should Apply: This card strikes an excellent balance
between gaming power and affordability that serious gamers
can’t ignore.
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, Dual Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
Sparkle GTX 560–OC/2G (SXX5602048D5SMH)
$251.28*
www.sparkletw.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Although it’s based on the 40nm
Fermi instead of the 28nm Kepler used in the GTX 680,
the GTX 560 is still an impressive graphics card that
lets you push the effects all the way up in most current
games. This card also has a large 2GB GDDR5 frame
buffer for handling HD textures and all your multimedia
needs. The 822MHz core and 1,002MHz memory clocks
are ample for running modern games and 3D applica-
tions at medium and high resolutions. We also like that
the largely enclosed heatsink shroud forces the heat from
the GPU out the back of the card.
Who Should Apply: Gamers looking to replace an older
graphics card will find a world of difference in the games
they play when running on this card.
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, Mini HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 65
ECS GeForce GTX 560Ti (NGTX560TI-1GPI-F)
$209.99*
www.ecsusa.com
Why You’ll Dig It: ECS may not be known for its after-
market coolers; considering the price of this card, however,
that is just fine by us. This GeForce GTX 560Ti comes with
the stock cooler, stock core clock (820MHz), and stock
memory clock (1,000MHz). The benefit of an all-stock
configuration is the completely enclosed heatsink shroud,
which ensures that little to no excess heat escapes and
raises the overall case temperature. Two of these in SLI will
be able to handle anything your throw at it, and you get the
benefit of NVIDIA’s 3D Vision Surround, for an immersive
3D gaming experience.
Who Should Apply: This card is ideal for gamers who
don’t have supplemental GPU cooling on their case or
those looking for a powerful SLI setup on the cheap.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, Mini HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 (900339)
$174.99*
www.visiontek.com
Why You’ll Dig It: AMD’s last generation of GPUs,
the Radeon HD 6000s, may not have the cachet that the
new ones do, but they’re currently selling for dramati-
cally less than their launch prices and still deftly handle
modern games. This card features a fully enclosed
heatsink with a large central fan. The core and memory
clocks are set to 775MHz and 1,000MHz, respectively.
Although there isn’t much in the way of extras available
on and with this card, the price is definitely right.
Who Should Apply: Gamers who want a solid experi-
ence but don’t want to take out a second mortgage will find
this Radeon HD 6850 more than capable for the price.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.1 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
66 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview
$145.99
www.zotacusa.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Embrace triple-monitor computing
with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview graphics
card. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview enables
three simultaneous independent displays from a pair of
HDMI outputs combined with dual-link DVI or Display-
Port outputs—a ZOTAC exclusive feature—from a single
graphics processor. NVIDIA SLI readiness enables two
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview graphics cards to
work together and deliver up to twice the performance of
a single card for the ultimate gaming experience. NVIDIA
PhysX technology takes realism to another level for
unprecedented immersion.
Who Should Apply: Performance enthusiasts who need
triple-monitor computing from a single card.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: Dual DVI, Dual HDMI, DisplayPort
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
XFX HD 7770 Super Overclock (FX-777A-ZDSC)
$159.99
www.xfxforce.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Like the Radeon HD 7950 from XFX we
already looked at in this buyer’s guide, this card boasts
XFX’s Double D cooler, which consists of a pair of dust-
free IP-5X fans and Ghost Thermal Technology, which en-
sures a quiet but powerful gaming experience. This Super
Overclocked card comes with a 1,120MHz core clock and
a 1,300MHz memory clock, for better than stock perfor-
mance in games and 3D rendering workloads. Here too are
the XFactor components, including solid-state capacitors,
2-ounce copper PCB, and the XFX bracket design. Like
the other XFX card here, this one is fully CrossFire-ready,
so multi-GPU gaming is well within reach.
Who should apply: Gamers who want the latest
features from AMD’s new 28nm GPU, but tend to game
at medium resolutions.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, Dual Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
68 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE HD 7750 (11202-03-40G)
$124.99*
www.sapphiretech.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Anytime you read about a silent
cooling technology, just mentally replace the word “silent”
with the phrase “really quiet.” But that’s not the case here.
Fans of silent should look no further than the SAPPHIRE
ULTIMATE HD 7750; there’s no fan on this card, so it’s truly
silent. The large passive heatsink consists of multiple
heatpipes intersecting a complex network of aluminum
fins. According to SAPPHIRE, it’s the first card in this
generation to use a passive heatpipe and heatsink cooler.
Who Should Apply: Although it’s a full-sized dual-slot
card that may not fit in very small or low-profile cases,
the SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE HD 7750 is perfect for HTPC
enthusiasts who want to enjoy gaming on the big screen.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
AMD FirePro V3900
$119.99*
www.amd.com
Why You’ll Dig It: The AMD FirePro V3900 is a profes-
sional graphics card designed to handle the 2D and 3D
rendering in a variety of workloads. Graphics professionals
who perform medium- to light-duty design work will
appreciate the large 1GB DDR3 frame buffer. The card’s
low-profile design also makes it easy to fit in workstations
of any size. The FirePro V3900 also supports up to five dis-
play devices using AMD Eyefinity multimonitor technology
and the DisplayPort 1.2 multistreaming technology. The
card also has a dual-link DVI port for running with legacy
non-DisplayPort monitors.
Who Should Apply: Graphics professionals who
perform medium to light design work and those who
need to drive multiple monitors for 2D applications.
Memory: 1GB DDR3
Interface: PCI-E 2.1 x16
Ports: DVI, DisplayPort
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 69
Diamond Multimedia AMD Radeon HD 7750 (7750PE51G)
$119.99*
www.diamondmm.com
These days, gamers on a budget can get some pretty
decent performance out of their CPU’s integrated graphics,
but if you’d rather not toss out your current processor and
motherboard, then check out the Radeon HD 7750 from
Diamond Multimedia. This card has an 800MHz core clock
and 1,125MHz memory clock, which is more than enough
to produce playable frame rates at medium resolutions,
even in modern games. The large 1GB GDDR5 frame buffer
is another feature you’ll like on this graphics card.
Who should apply: Gamers on a budget who want a
taste of the latest technology from AMD should check out
this affordable option from Diamond Multimedia.
Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Interface: PCI-E 3.0 x16
Ports: DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
GALAXY MDT GeForce GT520
$116.99*
www.galaxytechus.com
Why we dig it: When you think multimonitor graphics cards,
you probably tend to think of AMD. But this NVIDIA-based card
from GALAXY was specially designed to support up to four dis-
plays. Although it doesn’t have the muscle to power four displays
in games, 2D applications run fast and flawlessly on this card.
This card features an 810MHz core clock and a 500MHz memory
clock. A pair of DMS-59 ports on the back connect to the two
DMS59-to-dual DVI adapters to support four DVI monitors. The
single-slot card is also compact enough to fit in cramped cases
and space-limited workstations.
Who should apply: This card is perfect for professionals
who work in industries that require multiscreen viewing of several
applications at once.
Memory: 1GB DDR3
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16
Ports: Dual DMS-59 ports (Four DVI)
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE
70 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
BUILDING A PC IS EASY. DESPITE WHAT OUR FAMILIES
insist, you don’t need to belong to a secret order of technowizards
or hold an advanced degree from MIT to assemble a cutting-edge
rig. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but once you know what goes
where, swapping PC parts is not so diferent from replacing a
light bulb—a very, very expensive light bulb.
Whether you’ve been a CPU reader for 10 years or 10 minutes,
you know that we’re big believers in DIY. From buying parts
to making precision mods, there’s something almost viscerally
satisfying about creating a truly custom PC yourself. Why do you
think the car enthusiast comparisons fow so frequently on these
pages? Our systems are our hot rods.
However, keeping both those things in mind, there’s something
to be said about going boutique. For starters, these builders’
systems are, by and large, just as custom as something we could
build. In some cases, boutique systems are even more custom
than most DIY “custom” PCs. Te fact of the matter is that most
enthusiasts have never touched a spray gun and couldn’t re-wrap
their PSU wiring if their lives depended on it. A lot of pro shops
can paint and wire like it’s their job . . . because it’s their job.
Likewise, although many hardware makers have taken incredible
strides to make overclocking and performance tuning more
accessible than ever, really pushing a homebrew PC to its limits is
as warranty-voiding as ever. But when you enlist the services of a
boutique, the builder frequently backs any performance modding
with a nice little warranty.
Many boutiques go beyond even standard extras. Some have
the power to build a truly one-of-a-kind system, inside and out,
tailored to your every whim and fancy. We have to be honest: It’s
a compelling proposition.
Now Playing At A
Boutique Near You
In this cutthroat business, your stay will be a short one if you
can’t ofer enthusiasts the latest and greatest. PC boutiques know
this as well as anyone, and so they’re all stocked with the best
72 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
components money can buy. Intel’s biggest Bridge (that would
be Sandy Bridge-E) and bunch of Bulldozers from AMD (in the
form of its reborn FX line of CPUs) are available, as are graphics
cards based on the latest GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA,
wicked-fast SSDs (in RAID 0, if you want), and so many other
premium oferings. Most of the systems we selected for this guide
tend to be each boutique’s fagship model, but rest assured that all
of them have a wide selection of systems.
Finally, think of the systems featured here as a starting point
rather than a fnal destination. Because these are custom systems,
the parts, and therefore the price, could differ wildly
from what you confgure. All confgurations listed were
available at the time of this writing.
Have a look at the arsenals of these top PC
mercenaries. ■
CPU / June 2012 73
Falcon Northwest Mach V ICON2
$5,448
www.falcon-nw.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Falcon Northwest is one of the original birds of prey in the
boutique PC space. Operating out of the Pacific Northwest for two decades,
Falcon continually strives to produce custom gaming PCs that push the envelope
in terms of performance and aesthetics. The boutique has just about every hard-
ware configuration you can imagine at its disposal (our Mach V ICON2 has Intel’s
top-of-the-line CPU and two of NVIDIA’s flagship graphics cards, for example),
plus some truly out-of-this-world paint jobs. If you want proof of what sort of
masterpieces Falcon’s artists are painting on their “canvases,” check out the com-
pany’s gallery (www.falcon-nw.com/falcon-gallery).
Who Should Apply: The Mach V ICON2’s GTX 680 tag team will stand up to
whatever game you throw at it. This makes the Mach V ICON2 suited for every-
thing from Battlefield 3 to FIFA.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: ATX full tower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x, SLI)
Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition
$5,079
www.velocitymicro.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Velocity Micro is another pillar of the boutique community.
The house that Randy (Copeland) built has been churning out custom rigs for
a decade and a half (and for two decades if you count the time Copeland was
building high-end CAD machines before Velocity Micro’s founding in 1997). The
Raptor Signature Edition is Velocity Micro’s flagship system, and this one has a
lot of muscle. Intel’s Core i7-3960X is still king of the desktop CPU hill, and it’s
strapped to ASUS’ very impressive P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. This monster also
features Velocity Micro’s LiquiCool 6 Fluid Cooling System, encouraging you to
overclock your little heart out.
Who Should Apply: Thanks to an EVGA GeForce GTX 680, the Raptor Signa-
ture Edition will serve you well with the current crop of demanding titles, such as
Metro 2033, and put in you good shape for the future. (Crysis 3, anyone?)
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 680
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
74 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Digital Storm Aventum
$5,050
www.digitalstormonline.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Digital Storm has declared war on system heat
and has appointed its ARES (Automatic Response to Excess-Heat
System) as its champion. ARES uses a host of thermal probes to
gather real-time temperature readings and uses those readings to
adjust the performance of the Aventum’s 13 chassis fans on the fly.
The right side panel even has a small display module that shows
coolant temps, thermal zone temps, and system specifications. If
you obsess over the thermals of your premium parts, the Aventum
is the machine for you. And speaking of premium parts, the
Aventum has a Core i7-3930K, ASUS SABERTOOTH X79 mother-
board, Corsair Pro Gold Series 1,200W PSU, a 120GB Corsair Force
Series GT OS drive, and two GeForce GTX 680s.
Who Should Apply: The Aventum’s graphics subsystem is ideal
for intense RTS titles with a lot of units displayed at once or for top-
tier FPS games at high-resolutions and maximized visual effects.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor: ATX full tower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x, SLI)
Geekbox Ego X79 3D Vision 2
$4,977
www.geekbox.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Think of this as an all-in-one adventure kit for 3D gaming.
There’s a lot of choice hardware (Intel’s Core i7-3960X, an ASUS Rampage IV For-
mula motherboard, and two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680s) crammed into this geeky
box, but this custom machine also comes with goodies outside of the chassis. In
this instance, it’s ASUS’ VG278H, a 27-inch, LED-backlit, 3D LCD. (You also get a
pair of NVIDIA 3D Vision glasses with this package.) You can give the Ego a cool
look with one of Geekbox’s existing paint jobs, such as Maniacal Metallic White or
Ferrari Black, or give Geekbox a ring (888-GEEKBOX) to discuss a custom color of
your own.
Who Should Apply: Anyone who’s fully committed to 3D gaming will find that the Ego
X79 3D Vision 2 will set them up to take on any game in glorious 3D.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: E-ATX midtower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x, SLI)
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 75
CyberPowerPC Fang III Black Mamba
$4,695
www.cyberpowerpc.com
Why You’ll Dig It: This mighty machine stands tall, thanks to the AZZA Fusion 4000 chassis, and is filled
with high-end hardware. You get a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-3960X, which CyberPower gives its Ultimate
OC treatment, an overclock of at least 30%, free of charge. The liquid coolant coursing through the Fang
III Black Mamba’s veins also flows through the graphics subsystem, a pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 680
Hydro Copper in SLI, in this case. The Fang III Black Mamba does solid state right, too, using two
120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSDs in RAID 0 as a boot drive that’s big enough for your OS and a lot of
games. CyberPower also includes a 2TB HDD for your mass storage needs.
Returning to that AZZA case, it’s simply a monster. Standing at 30.7x10.2x24 inches
(HxWxD), the Fusion 4000 is a tower among towers. In fact, the bottom portion of the
chassis supports a standard system, while the top por-
tion can house a Mini-ITX-based system. (So many high-
end rigs have lots of “dual” components, but it’s rare
to have a custom machine that can be a “dual-system”
system.) In short, even though the Fang III Black
Mamba is already dressed to the nines with amazing
hardware, it has plenty of room to grow.
Throw in an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard,
16GB of DDR3-1600, a 1kW Cooler Master Silent Pro
Gold 80 PSU, and an LG Blu-ray burner, and you have a
sinister system with potent fangs.
Who Should Apply: Thanks to the tandem of
680s, gamers who play demanding FPS titles like
Crysis or Metro 2033 will be very satisfied with the
Fang III Black Mamba’s firepower. Beyond that, the Fang III
Black Mamba’s mighty Core i7-3960X makes this system ideal
for gamers who are also serious about video editing, file compres-
sion, and other CPU-intensive tasks.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: E-ATX full tower
Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Hydro Copper (2x, SLI)
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
76 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Puget Systems Deluge L2
$4,683.67
www.pugetsystems.com
Why You’ll Dig It: There must be something about the Pacific Northwest
that brings out the boutique builders. Puget Systems hails from the sub-
urbs of Seattle, but the hometown isn’t really what matters. What matters
is that Puget builds solid enthusiast systems and puts an emphasis on
customer service. The boutique frequently receives rave reviews from its
customers about the level of personal contact and support they receive
from Puget throughout the life of their system. This is also a downright
solid machine, with a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-3930K and AMD Radeon
HD 7970. It also has a 120GB Intel SSD 520, which you can and should
load up with your most frequently played games.
Who Should Apply: If you’re interested in custom liquid-cooling but
don’t want to get your hands wet to get the look, it’s hard to beat the
Deluge 2. Puget also has multiple SLI and CrossFire options, as well, in
case you need a little more heavy artillery for your graphics subsystem.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7970
Origin PC Genesis
$4,677
www.originpc.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Remember the Big O? (See page 70 in the October 2010 issue if
you don’t.) The same people who created that monstrosity have been building Gen-
esis rigs for quite some time now. And trust us, the hardware in this Genesis, while
exceptional by most standards, represents only a fraction of the awesome Origin
is able to pack within the confines of a PC case. This Genesis has dual Radeon HD
7970s, dual 240GB Intel SSD 520s in RAID 0, and an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
motherboard. Intel’s Core i7-3930K, with its unlocked multiplier, awaits your over-
clocking endeavors. If you long for more, the sky’s the limit, provided you have the
imagination and a bank account to match.
Who Should Apply: Although the duo of 7970s will no doubt appeal to FPS
gamers who play titles notorious for crushing GPUs, RTS pros who regularly manage
massive numbers of units will find that the Genesis provides a fluid experience.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor: E-ATX full tower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x, SLI)
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 77
AVADirect Custom Gaming PC
$4,612.79
www.avadirect.com
Why You’ll Dig It: AVADirect has built quite an impressive résumé,
serving clients ranging from Lockheed Martin to the U.S. Army, so we’d
like to think you’ll be in pretty good hands if you tap them to build you a
Custom Gaming PC. The components in this particular Custom Gaming
PC are second to none, too; a pair of SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970s in
CrossFire and Intel’s Core i7-3960X are the headlining acts. You also get
a heaping helping of Corsair components, too, with 32GB of Vengeance
LP PC3-12800 DDR3, a Hydro Series H100 closed-loop CPU liquid-cooler,
and the menacing Obsidian Series 800D full tower.
Who Should Apply: AMD’s flagship Radeon HD 7970 takes no pris-
oners. We can safely say that the pair of SAPPHIRE 7970s in the Custom
Gaming PC can handle every game out there, and probably at extreme
resolutions and quality settings.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: E-ATX full tower
Graphics: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970 (2x, CrossFire)
StealthMachines Shadow
$3,916
www.stealthmachines.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Stealth Machines delivers the goods, with a little help from the likes of Intel,
Corsair, XFX, and others. The heart of the Shadow is a 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-3930K, and its installed
in MSI’s X79A-GD65 mobo. Elsewhere, this Shadow sports two XFX Double D HD 7950s running in
CrossFire, naturally, as well as a 120GB Intel SSD 520 boot drive and a massive 3TB Seagate Barra-
cuda. Stealth Machines installed everything in Corsair’s Obsidian Series 650D, so the system looks
as intimidating as it performs.
Who Should Apply: XFX’s Double D HD 7950 is on double duty here, which should help you
pull down some sweet frame rates if you’re running a lush game such as Kingdoms of Amalur
at high quality settings, or if you want to take advantage of games that offer impressive visuals
when DX11 is enabled
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: XFX Double D HD 7950 (2x, CrossFire)
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
78 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Shuttle H7 5800G Pro
$3,729.99
us.shuttle.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Shuttle’s H7 5800G Pro banishes the notion that a benchmarking-
busting rig needs to be of backbreaking proportions. Standing a mere 7.5 inches short
(plus 8.2 inches wide and 12.8 inches deep), the H7 5800G Pro is a powerhouse you
can practically fit in your backpack. Of course, putting a freaky fast Core i7-990X and
NVIDIA’s previous generation flagship GeForce GTX 580 into such a small frame is
bound to generate a lot of heat, which is why Shuttle’s proprietary I.C.E. Evo cooler is
just what the H7 5800G Pro needs to avoid becoming a thermal disaster. With 16GB of
DDR3-1600, a 256GB 6Gbps SATA SSD, and a Blu-ray burner, the H7 5800G Pro is a
superb SFF PC.
Who Should Apply: LAN party gamers will fall in love with the H7 5800G Pro’s portability,
especially because its arsenal is easily as lethal as many full tower systems.
CPU: Intel Core i7-990X
Form factor: Custom small form factor
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
CPU Solutions Core i7-3960X Extreme
Performance PC Socket 2011
$3,822.86
www.cpusolutions.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Sometimes, the extras make all the difference. This gamer from CPU Solu-
tions comes with some dynamite peripherals, especially the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard
and Cyber R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse. Another big plus in this system is a wicked-fast OCZ RevoDrive
3 X2—240GB of PCI-E solid-state storage to boot Windows and load games in a flash. Corsair’s
Hydro Series H80 and an ASUS SABERTOOTH X79 motherboard are two more examples high-end
hardware that’s front and center here. CPU Solutions also subjects the PC to a 24-hour burn in pe-
riod to ensure that all of the components are on the up-and-up.
Who Should Apply: A single Fermi is still a formidable force. If you roll with a 1,920 x 1,200 LCD,
you’ll find that the Core i7-3960X Extreme Performance PC Socket 2011’s GeForce GTX 580 serves up
great frame rates in AAA titles such as Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and more.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: PNY GeForce GTX 580
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
80 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
V3 Gaming Avenger 3DS
$3,699
www.v3gamingpc.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Here’s another rig that’s equipped for 3D gaming
right out of the box(es). NVIDIA’s 3D Vision is the tech of choice for
the Avenger 3DS, and the system’s two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI will
give you all the eye candy those 3D glasses (which are also included,
by the way) can handle. Elsewhere a quad-core Intel Core i7-3820
and MSI’s X79A-GD45 combine to give you access to Intel’s latest
and greatest enthusiast platform. The best part, though, is that V3
Gaming ships the Avenger 3DS with an ASUS VG236H 23-inch wide-
screen 3D LCD. Have your favorite games ready, unbox this beast,
put on the glasses, and prepare for total immersion.
Who Should Apply: Naturally, if you’re ready to take the 3D
plunge, the Avenger 3DS gives you everything you need but the
games. And for that, head to www.nvidia.com/object/3d-vision-games.
html to see the list of qualified 3D Vision games.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3820
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x, SLI)
Centaurus PC Shadowtrail Project Warlord
$3,669
www.centauruspc.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Centaurus PC’s Shadowtrail systems come in two flavors:
Project Rezzer and Project Warlord. The latter is, according to Centaurus, the
boutique’s “most upgradable desktop ever.” The Cooler Master HAF 922 is
filled to the gills with enthusiasts’ favorite hardware, including Intel’s new Core
i7-3930K, two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580s, a 128GB Crucial SSD, and a Blu-ray
burner. Centaurus also offers a veritable rainbow of cold cathode lighting, so you
can add some flash to your fast.
Who Should Apply: NVIDIA’s GF110 remains one of the powerful GPUs on
the planet, so two of them together are going to give you great performance in
games like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. You’ll be more than prepared for
this year’s big-time releases, such as Diablo III and Max Payne 3.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor ATX midtower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (2x, SLI)
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 81
Alienware Aurora
$2,149
www.alienware.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Alienware has been around for over 15 years, making it one
of the oldest boutique builders in the biz. And although these extraterrestrials
have serving on the Dell mothership for a few years, the systems Alienware
builds maintain a distinct custom look. The Aurora ALX chassis looks oh so
nice, and you can further personalize it by choosing a color from Alienware’s
broad palette (including Astral Aqua, Plasma Purple, and more). Beyond that,
Alienware sells a host of its own peripherals (keyboard, mouse, and a beautiful,
3D-capable 23-inch display), which let you create a completely cohesive setup.
Who Should Apply: The AMD Radeon HD 7870s in CrossFire are sur-
prisingly peppy, and you’ll notice that the 2GB frame buffer in each of
these cards will be especially helpful in games that are hungry for VRAM
at higher display resolutions.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3820
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2x, CrossFire)
Performance Personal Computers Fenris
$2,907
www.performancepc.net
Why You’ll Dig It: Intel’s Core i7-3930K and its unlocked multiplier are ready
for serious overclocking, and the specialists and Performance PC are ready
to do it. The Fenris suits up for battle inside Cooler Master’s HAF 932, and
Antec’s KUHLER H20 920 keeps this war machine running cool enough that
we selected the 25-35% PPC Overclock. Elsewhere, the Fenris sports a 240GB
OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, Western Digital’s 1TB Caviar Green HDD, and 8 gigs of Cor-
sair Vengeance DDR3-1600. Performance PC offers you a long list of optional
components, and you can call them (888-574-6342) to request additional
hardware if you don’t see it available.
Who Should Apply: Because of its meaty, 3GB frame buffer, which runs on
a 384-bit bus, the ZOTAC AMP2! GeForce GTX 580 found in the Fenris is ideal
for running games that cripple cards without sufficient VRAM for all the eye
candy turned on at higher resolutions. The card is custom-cooled and factory-
overclocked, too, so it invites gamers who are also tweakers.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics ZOTAC AMP2! GeForce GTX 580
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
82 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
iBUYPOWER Gamer Paladin D875
$1,762
www.ibuypower.com
Why You’ll Dig It: Recognize that chassis? It’s Antec’s LanBoy Air, one of the
most interesting and customizable cases around. Thanks to the fact that most of
the case is made up of perforated mini panels, the LanBoy Air is an easy-breezy
case that gives your components all the air cooling they need. But if the LanBoy
Air doesn’t strike your fancy the way it strikes ours, know that iBUYPOWER lets
you customize the Gamer Paladin D875 with an ample selection of alternate cases
from the likes of Cooler Master, Corsair, Thermaltake, NZXT, and more. The Intel
Core i7-3820, GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 form the
foundation of a solid gamer.
Who Should Apply: There’s no SLI, but no worry, either. The single 680
should let you battle in Battlefield 3 or war in Modern Warfare 3 giving you great
frame rates on widescreen displays of any size.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3820
Form factor: ATX midtower
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
CyberPowerPC Zeus Lightning 3000
$1,439
www.cyberpowerpc.com
Why You’ll Dig It: AMD’s top dog CPU, the 3.6Hz octo-core FX-8150, is
front and center in this system of Olympian stature. CyberPowerPC throws in
its Extreme OC (which is a 20% minimum overclock) free of charge. Thanks
to the included CyberPower Xtreme Hydro Liquid Cooling Kit, the intrepid
among you could always try to push the FX-8150 even higher. And if you’re a
big fan of freebies, the Zeus Lightning 3000 qualified for free copies of DiRT 3
and Deus Ex: Human Revolution at the time of this writing.
Who Should Apply: In its standard configuration, the Zeus Lightning
3000 has an AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card. One of the most re-
cently introduced GPUs in AMD’s Southern Islands family, a single 7850
is just about perfect for RTS games. When StarCraft II: Heart of the
Swarm launches, you’ll be in great shape.
CPU: AMD FX-8150
Form factor: ATX full tower
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
GAMING PC BUYER’S GUIDE
CPU / June 2012 83
Inside The World Of Betas
status, or send an email directly from
the Compose button. You can drag
and drop images from your Picasa
web album (for example) directly into
an email, or into a status update. In
other words, MultiMi is able to make
connections between otherwise separate
services and people, potentially saving
lots of time and efort.
If there’s a negative, it’s that the beta
is awfully slow to respond to mouse
clicks, but we hope that’s just because
we’re playing with prerelease code here.
Otherwise, this is an app to watch. ■
for documents; and Google Talk and
Facebook Chat for IM. Once you let
MultiMi log in to these services for you,
the magic happens.
MultiMi’s home screen acts as a
dashboard for these services, showing
you email, photos, a Facebook feed,
and events all at once. They update
automatically, and clicking something
bri ngs you to a speci al i zed screen
especially laid out for that content. You
can also tweet, update your Facebook
S
top and think about all the online
services you rely on every day.
Staggering, isn’t it? MultiMi not only
rounds up the litany of social networks,
webmail providers, and cloud services you
use, but it also integrates them together in
innovative ways.
Once installed, MultiMi prompts you
for your login information to lots of
popular services. (Fear not—MultiMi
only stores your personal info locally
on your system.) It knows how to work
with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and
IMAP/POP servers for email; Facebook,
Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter for
social media; Google Calendar and
Facebook’s Events for dates and events,
Pi casa and Fl i ckr for i mages and
photos (along with your social media
accounts); YouTube for videos; Google
Docs, box.net, and you local fle system
MultiMi 0.20.1
drag-and-drop to make file selection,
exclusion, scheduling remarkably simple
and intuitive.
Although the beta is basically the frst
for a brand-new version, Cobian Backup
has been around for years, so we didn’t
experience any glitches typically associated
with beta releases. Use it to send backups
to external or secondary drives, network
drives, or FTP sites, and you’ll be pleased
with the results. ■
any PC or Mac in the event of a disaster;
the 7z compression format is an option,
too. For the security-minded, Cobian
also ofers AES encryption. Cobian can
make incremental, differential, or full
backups, and it can automatically keep a
certain number of old backups on hand
for versioning. It uses a good combination
of wizard-like dialog boxes as well as
W
e’ve been recommending Cobian
Backup since version 8, and the
latest beta of version 11 keeps building
on greatness.
Cobian is not a disk imaging tool,
nor is it a kind of “software RAID” that
always checks for new files and then
makes copies. Instead, it’s more of a
traditional backup tool: You tell it what
fles or folders you want it to back up,
where you want the backed up files to
go, and how often you want it to make a
backup, and Cobian does the rest. It runs
in the background either as a standalone
application or as a set of Windows
services, but its memory footprint is
astonishingly small either way.
Cobian produces good old ZIP fles,
meaning you can recover your fles using
Cobian Backup 11 Beta
MultiMi 0.20.1 beta
Publisher and URL: Zbang It, www.zbang.it
ETA: Q3 2012
Why you should care: There isn’t a better way
to streamline all of your social media accounts.
Cobian Backup 11 beta
Publisher and URL: Luis Cobian,
www.cobiansoft.com
ETA: Q3 2012
Why you should care: Like a fne wine, this
great backup utility gets better with age.
84 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Upgrades That’ll Keep You Humming Along
display of message content, better deleting
of multiple messages, and faster syncing
with Exchange servers. PowerPoint now
supports full-screen views in Lion, and
users can now paste special hyperlinks. As
of late April, Microsoft had temporarily
withdrawn SP2 from auto-updating be-
cause of an issue some users were having
with it corrupting the database. Te up-
date still can be downloaded manually,
and Microsoft has posted workarounds
for the problem at its blog.
support.microsoft.com
Safari 5.1.5
Te update to Apple’s cross-platform
browser improves stability in the Win-
dows version. It also includes the security
fxes that were issued in the 5.1.4 version
just a couple of weeks earlier. This fix
addressed the possibility that Web visits
still could be recorded in the browser
history even when in Private Browsing
mode. Security fxes involving WebKit
sites also prevent scripting attacks from
malicious websites.
support.apple.com
Driver Bay
NVIDIA GeForce R300, 301.10
The NVIDIA drivers add support
for the new GTX 680 card. The drivers
have GPU Boost Technology, which
dynamically adjusts clock speed based
on the workloads from games. The
FXAA feature offers anti-aliasing up
to 60% faster. Adaptive Vertical Sync
enables vertical sync based on current
frame rates. And Frame Rate Target
lets you set the ideal frame rate for
your gameplay if the third-party soft-
ware supports it.
www.geforce.com
Chrome Beta
The latest pre-release of the popular
Google browser now lets you sync your
open tabs across devices. If you are signed
in to Chrome on one browser, then you
can see and choose to open tabs that
are active on Chrome for your Android
phone or laptop.
chrome.blogspot.com
iTunes 10.6.1
If Apple’s venerable player/library soft-
ware tends to quit when playing videos,
changing artwork size or trying to sync
photos to devices, then this fx is for you.
The update also integrates better with
VoiceOver and Window-Eyes interfaces
so they properly describe the interface.
Tis release also fxes a media ordering
problem when viewing iTunes library
material on your Apple TV.
support.apple.com
Lightroom 4.1 RC
Adobe’s suite of photo-editing tools
gets an update that accommodates the
newly released Canon EOS 5D Mk
III D-SLR. But more than that it also
squashes a bug afecting external appli-
cations that use the “Edit In” function.
Te Point Curve adjustments have been
restored. You now can update DNG pre-
views and metadata for more than 100
photos. Performance issues have been
addressed, especially those that afected
loading GPS track logs.
blogs.adobe.com
Offce 2011 SP2 For OS X
For the Mac user, this is a long-awaited
major release. It includes important per-
formance improvements for the all-im-
portant Outlook client, including better
Software Updates
Ad-Aware 10 Free Antivirus +
Thi s spyware and vi rus-hunti ng
software has been with us for many
years. But this major update across the
line, including the premium version,
adds numerous features. Gamers get
a special mode that suspends security
alerts, scans, and auto-updates to en-
sure smoother, uninterrupted gaming.
Real-time protection watches for po-
tentially dangerous behavior going on
in the background at all times. New
download protection scans files before
they are downloaded to the hard drive.
And a security toolbar scans links and
URLs for danger.
www.lavasoft.com
AVG 2012 Service Pack
Tis year’s version of the familiar free
and premium virus protection suite gets
a mid-year upgrade. This free service
pack adds support for the Do No Track
initiative by giving users the option to
turn tracking on or off when a site is
ofering the option. Also in this release,
WiFi Guard warns a user if her laptop
is trying to connect to an unknown or
previously unused network.
www.avg.com
Calibre 0.8.47
The versatile multi-format e-book
reader and library management soft-
ware now supports all named entities
in the HTML5 spec when converting
titles. The app now supports viewing
and conver t i ng t he Haodoo PDB
format. The developers also fixed nu-
merous bugs and added material from
the Melbourne Herald.
calibre-ebook.com/whats-new
Signifcant updates come from two security software publishers this month.
Meanwhile, NVIDIA treats gamers to new features.
86 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
M
icrosoft must sense that it’s now
or never. With Apple and Google
devouring the mobile market and the
number of desktop PC shi pments
steadily declining, the top minds in
Redmond are pulling out all the stops
for Windows 8. The Win8 Consumer
Preview is now live, and the Metro
interface that debuted under Windows
Phone 7 is now spilling over into tablets,
notebooks, and desktops.
In general, the response to Microsoft’s
Live Tile interface design has been
positive. At least at this prerelease stage,
the Win8 Consumer Preview seems
meant for fingertips more than mouse
clicks, but it’s decent enough on a desktop
with conventional peripherals, and we like
having a more unifed look and feel across
Microsoft’s device universe.
Along with Win8 comes the new
Windows Store. If this seems like a
copycat maneuver following in the
wake of Apple’s App Store and Google’s
Android Market (now part of Google
Play), well, consider the realities of
today’s market. Between Steam, the Xbox
Games Marketplace, and the various
mobile app outlets, how often do most
users go to a brick and mortar store and
buy boxed software? Te Windows Store
is simply another logical step into the
cloud for Microsoft, just as we’ve seen
with SkyDrive, Office 365, and similar
instances of Microsoft fexing its globally
distributed data center muscle. Digital
distribution is simply how publishers
sell their apps now. No, Microsoft didn’t
popularize the app store concept, but
that’s no reason not to design and operate
Microsoft
Windows Store
We Get Up Close & Personal
Windows Store doesn’t try to reinvent the
review wheel. You’ll see the familiar five-
star scale, avatar thumbnails, and “Was This
Helpful?” prompts.
Windows Store offers a handful of pull-down
flter menus to help your browsing if you’re not
sure what title you’d like.
CPU / June 2012 87
a great one. Let’s dig into the Windows
Store and see what you can expect.
First Store Steps
Right up front, know that the Win-
dows Store is a retail front end for the
distribution of Metro-style apps. Tis is
no small change for Microsoft, which
has a long history of trying to fold old
habits and architectures into new releases.
Te old methods for buying pre-Metro
software haven’t gone away (although
the current Windows Marketplace for
Mobile is scheduled to evaporate on
May 9), but the Windows Store looks
to be a gateway for future development.
Out of the gate, Windows Store will
support x86, x64, and ARM apps, and
the appropriate version will automatically
download without any user intervention
when purchased.
To use the Windows Store, you
will need a Windows Live ID, so if
you haven’t obtai ned one through
Xbox Live, Hotmail, SkyDrive, or any
of Microsoft’s other cloud services,
get ready to sign up. Many of the
usability and navigation attributes of
the Windows Store depend on the new
UI within Win8. However, because a
description of Win8 Consumer Preview
falls outside the boundaries of this
article, we’ll keep observations about
tile sizes, empty screen space, scrolling
methods, and so forth largely out of
this article.
You can’t miss the Windows Store. It’s
the first tile in the default Start screen
of Win8 Consumer Preview. Once
inside, you’ll find the Store populated
by several groups of tiles. Examples
include the following: Spotlight, Games,
Social, Entertainment, Photos, Music
& Videos, Books & Reference, News
& Weather, Food & Dining, Shopping,
Travel, Finance, Productivity, Tools, and
Security. Each of these (except Security
at the time of this writing) is has at least
one “headliner” app and one smaller tile
leading to top recommendations from the
Windows Store team.
Clicking a tile brings up its Windows
Store listing, dominated by a colored bar
down the left showing the app’s icon,
average star rating, number of ratings,
pricing, and installation button(s). Near
the bar’s bottom, you’ll see the title’s age
recommendation and developer name.
To the right of the bar are the Overview,
Details, and Reviews tabs. Overview
shows generously large screenshots of the
app followed by its description, features, a
link to its website and support pages, and
a link for reporting the app to Microsoft.
Te Details tab exposes any release notes
and gives information about supported
processors, supported languages, and
repeats the app’s permissions list. The
Reviews tab is exactly what you’d expect,
and you sort reviews via a pull-down
menu by newest, oldest, highest and
lowest rated, and most helpful.
Content & Use
As of this writing, there were no paid
apps in the Windows Store; everything
shown was avail abl e for free, even
though many app tiles featured Buy
and Try buttons. Te apps we sampled
installed in seconds with no fussing
over target directories, custom options,
or anythi ng el se. As wi th phones
and tablets, when you tap the Install
button, the app takes over and handles
the rest. (You can install multiple apps
concurrently.) You’ll see unobtrusive
“installing” and “installed” notifcations
in the top-right corner of your display,
followed by the app’s tile showing up on
the Metro home screen.
Microsoft deserves special praise for
its new app removal procedure. The
days of having to dig into the Control
Panel are now a memory. If you want
to remove one of your Windows Store
acquisitions, simply right-click its tile.
Tis brings up an options bar along the
bottom of the screen, one of which will
be to uninstall the app. Tat’s all there
is to it. Better yet, for those averse to
bloatware, Win8 lets you uninstall apps
that come pre-installed with the OS. We
Apps such as Elements Weather really show
Metro at its aesthetic fnest. Hopefully, well-
crafted must-have titles like this will draw
audiences to the Windows Store.
Windows Store flter pull-downs will vary in content
according to what area you’re in. Notice how the
subcategories flter under Books & Reference
changes according to genre and device type.
App stores need at least a handful of essential
titles, and Adobe’s SketchBook Express, a fun
artwork/drawing app for the Metro interface, is
shaping up to be one of the hot tickets in the
Windows Store.
88 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
hope this remains true for apps installed
by OEM vendors on new systems, as
many Android devices, for example,
won’t let you uninstall OEM apps.
Time will tell whether the Metro
aesthetic will grow to become the de facto
way of displaying Windows UIs. In our
experimenting, we found some cases, such
as Elements Weather, in which the Metro
look felt spot on, with simple text and
graphics balanced well across a typically
gorgeous Bing-like background photo.
(Double points to Elements Weather for
having a Live Tile showing a real-time
three-day forecast on the Win8 Start
screen.) In contrast, some developers
may need to adapt their existing apps
to account for Metro’s unique design.
The Evernote app, for example, had a
decidedly different look and feel than
what we were used to.
Be aware that Windows Store pur-
chases are not refundable. The only
exceptions are if the app clearly fails to
be compatible with your device or is
misrepresented in its description.
Microsoft has been quite vocal about
its efforts to make apps discoverable.
This means not overpowering tiles in
the store with busy backgrounds. The
Windows Store supports direct linking
to applications, so search engines can
index each app and you can access a
given app straight from a search engine’s
results page. Aside from this, because
only a handful of apps are currently
available from the Windows Store, it’s
difcult to judge just how “discoverable”
apps will be.
As the Windows Store’s oferings will
grow exponentially once it goes live,
filtering will become essential. If you
click a section name, such as Games or
Books & Reference, you’ll go to that
section’s main page. Within each of these
main section pages, you’ll find two or
three pull-down menus, depending on
the section’s content. In all main section
pages, there are Price (all prices, free, free
and trial, paid) and Sort (noteworthy,
newest, highest rating, lowest price,
highest price) pull-downs. To the left
of these, you may also fnd a third pull-
down for subcategories specific to that
app type. For example, under Games,
there are subcategories for Action,
Adventure, Arcade, Card, Casino, and so
on. Under Books & Reference, there are
E-reader, Fiction, Non-fction, Reference,
and Kids subcategories. You can use
multiple pull-downs simultaneously for
precision fltering.
Compared To The Other Guys . . .
We still have yet to see how Win8
developers will price their apps. Microsoft
officially starts pricing at $1.49, and
developers can increase their list prices in
50-cent increments up to $4.99. Above
$5, the increment size increases. At a time
when Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore
list plenty of apps at $0.99 or less,
with frequent promotions discounting
paid apps even further, we wouldn’t be
surprised to see the Windows Store stay
competitive by price-matching cross-
platform apps. Te maximum price for a
Windows Store app is $999.
Next, Microsoft has also embraced
the idea of simplicity and hasn’t looked
back. Consider the Windows Store’s
front-located Spotlight section compared
to Apple’s App Store’s Featured view.
Apple dedicates a big chunk of its top
section to one headliner app while
scrolling through other featured apps
of to the right. Immediately under this
is the New And Noteworthy area, which
is stocked with over a dozen colorful app
icons. Ten come fve section tiles, while
of on the right bar are Quick Links and
the top paid apps. This is just what’s
visible without a single mouse click.
Google Play and Amazon Appstore lay
out their respective home screens along
similar lines.
Compare this to the Windows Store,
in which we see three apps listed in the
Spotlight section. However, the two
largest tiles in the section don’t actually
show apps, and five category tiles are
merely blank blue squares with white
text. Only the leftmost part of the
Games section is visible before scrolling
is necessary. Almost two-thirds of our
1,920 x 1,080 display stands empty.
We understand that there are serious
challenges in creating a unifed experience
across screens from four-inch phones to
60-inch plasmas, and we dislike in-your-
face, obnoxious advertising as much as
anyone, but we suspect that the Windows
Store might well benefit from a less
restrained use of available real estate.
We’re not too worried by some of the
content omissions from the Windows
Store at this early point. Tere’s no word
yet on how Microsoft will integrate its
Ofce Mobile apps into Windows Phone
8, so it’s no surprise that productivity
apps are still missing here. Non-Metro
apps will remain outside of Windows
Store for now, so perhaps those types of
Long and lean, the Windows Store seeks to draw
you in with a handful of large, attractive tiles
rather than assaulting the senses with densely
packed content, as with conventional online
store design.
Microsoft has its own share of addicting games
waiting in the in Windows Store, many of which
will be free.
CPU / June 2012 89
“heavy” UI applications will be slower to
reach the Store. Microsoft has said that
it expects 100,000 apps in the Store, so
these gaps will surely be flled as soon as
paid apps are allowed through the gate.
Perhaps when the ranks fll up, we’ll see
the Windows Store start to do more with
having one app link to other titles from
that publisher or similar titles from other
publishers. We’ve become spoiled by
Amazon’s “More Like Tis” functionality
and hope Microsoft adopts it here.
The Windows Store currently only
provides sideloading capabilities to
enterprises. We’ll be interested to see
how long it takes consumers to find
workarounds to this. Clearly, more
centralization and regulation makes for
an easier, safer end-user experience, but
power users have a habit of demanding
(and creating) their own degrees of
fexibility with application handling.
Are You A Developer?
Of course, Microsoft knows that
nothing motivates participation quite like
money, and it needs to woo the countless
developers currently coding for Android
and/or iOS, not to mention keep existing
desktop developers on the Windows
wagon. So, falling right in line with
Apple and Google, Microsoft is ofering
Windows Store developers 70% royalties
on all new Windows Store apps. If a given
app grosses more than $25,000, both
from the purchase price as well as any
revenue generated inside the app, that
app’s royalty jumps to 80% for the life
of the app. (Developers can use in-app
transaction services besides Microsoft’s,
and Microsoft won’t take any cut of the
transactions, but these also will not count
toward the $25,000 crossover point.)
Microsoft will support local currencies
from the top 40 markets, ranked by
GDP. All told, the Windows Store will be
available across more than 230 markets
spanning over 100 languages.
This is a pretty generous offer, but
Microsoft also wants to make sure you
have some skin in the game. Developers
must maintain an annual subscription in
order to have their apps in the Windows
Store. Te fee is $49 for individuals and
$99 for companies.
If those fees work for you and
you’re excited to see your apps in the
Windows Store, your next stop should be
Microsoft’s page on how to build Metro-
style apps (msdn.microsoft.com/library
/windows/apps). The documentation
here will advise you on everything from
designing for different form factors to
planning app monetization. Once you
have a working app, Microsoft will give
you its Application Certifcation Kit to
help you run through the self-assessment
necessary to weed out most bugs, security
holes, and so on. When you’re ready to
submit your app, the Windows Store
Dashboard will keep you posted on your
creation’s progress toward approval and its
subsequent sales performance.
Final First Thoughts
We started off by noting that Win-
dows, despite its still gigantic share of
the desktop market, must accept that
it’s not the only act in town. On top of
that, Microsoft had to do something
fundamental to try to reinvent the
desktop experience. Te split personality
Win7/Metro interface design we see in
Win8 Consumer is a big step toward
that reinvention. Whether this mix will
prove successful, whether Metro will
fnd a comfortable home on the desktop,
remains to be seen. It definitely has
potential, and we applaud Microsoft for
trying to create a unifed, easy experience
spanning from the pocket to the projector.
The Windows Store is a necessary
component of that reinvention. Microsoft
is trying to maintain a unifed ecosystem
and cleave closer to Apple’s path to
success. When you go to the Windows
Store, you’ll know that what you see is
what you’ll actually get. We trust there
will soon be ample selection, and we
look forward to not having to relearn
app interfaces with each new device form
factor. Microsoft has done a lot right
here, and it looks to be highly valuing
the developers it needs to build its catalog
of apps and gain ground on the current
leaders in the market.
If the Windows Store experience
is good enough to persuade the 90% of
the desktop market still using Windows,
then the unified Metro experience will
make it easier for those users to slide into
Windows-based mobile devices. Given
today’s mobility trends, this must be
Microsoft’s top priority. A year ago, we
might have been dubious about Microsoft’s
chances of success in ever penetrating the
mobile market. But with what we’ve now
seen of Win8 Consumer Preview and the
Windows Store, we’d say that Redmond
now has a fghting chance. ■
The Kobo bookstore app illustrates that Windows
Store will play host to many e-commerce business
fronts, including this free app for purchasing and
reading Kobo ebooks.
Looking for an easy way to see what’s hot in
the app world? Windows Store has the “Rising
Stars” section to help you take in the fastest
moving apps at a glance.
90 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional
image, suitable for use as a virtual
machine. Tis is a potentially huge time
saver, and it worked nearly fawlessly in
our tests with VMware and VirtualBox,
simply requiring a little virtual BIOS
tweaking before being able to boot. Too
bad you can’t go back to a live machine
from a virtual disk image.
Performance is quite good, with
backup and restore compressions and
times within a few percent of Norton
Ghost (which is amazingly still widely
used among corporate IT pros despite
being 10 years old), yet generally faster
than most free Linux tools. Finding
networked stores of disk images is simple
and reliable.
In the end, recommending Paragon
Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional
comes down to how often you need
to manipulate drives and partitions. If
your job revolves around it, then get it
now and don’t look back. Otherwise,
try the free tools out there frst and see
if they’re enough. ■
BY WARREN ERNST
Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional
$99.95
Paragon
www.paragon-software.com
partition-oriented,
such as performing
f i l e bac kups or
building boot me-
dia). The express
launcher does these
same things, too,
but via a wizard-
driven GUI.
You can back up
a “live” Windows
parti ti on (or any
pa r t i t i on) wi t h
Hard Disk Manager
12 Pr o di r e c t l y
wi thi n Wi ndows,
whi ch i s a neat,
but not unique, trick. If you want to
restore the partition image, you’d best
use Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro from
bootable media, which is both easier
and harder than the previous version
to create. It’s easier because now you
can make Linux-based bootable USB
fash drives in addition to CDs, but it’s
tougher because, thanks to licensing
issues, the Windows PE version of
the restore disc is no longer directly
available for download. Instead, you
have to download various recovery
files from Microsoft and then follow
a lengthy wizard-led process to make
this second version of the restore disc.
Both discs faithfully duplicate the
Windows experience and offer handy
wizards for recovering disc images off
network drives, wiping hard drives,
repairing Windows/DOS boot problems,
and so forth. However, the Windows
version let us try to restore a Windows
partition image back onto a live version
of Windows but endlessly spun its
wheels at 56% before we killed it. You
can easily mount a disk image to recover
specifc fles, or use it as baseline for an
incremental backup.
If you use VMware, Virtual PC, or
VirtualBox, you can convert a backup
image or partition/disk into a virtual
N
ot everyone needs Photoshop. For
most users, free software such
as Paint.NET has most of the features
needed to perform most common photo-
editing jobs. Professionals, however,
can justify the cost of the extra features
Photoshop provi des because thei r
livelihood depends on it. Still, pro-
sumers willing to pay its price can enjoy
its well-documented interface.
Te same is true of Paragon Hard Disk
Manager 12 Professional. Its combination
of powerful and straightforward fea-
tures make it indispensable for an IT
professional, but there are free alternatives
that are, in some ways, almost as good;
“everyone else” would probably be fine
with these for occasional use.
Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro is a sort of
do-it-all utility, covering hard disk and
partition cloning, partition management
and editing, file and folder backup
and restoration, Windows boot repair,
disk wiping, etc. There’s an innovative
virtual disk image tool, as well. Each
tool is extremely good, if not best-of-
breed. Combined in one interface, they
may be worth the nearly $99.95 price
tag, especially if you use all or most of
them frequently.
Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro’s main
interface lives within Windows (XP or
later). It displays a list of all your drives,
as well as their partitions, and represents
them in a drive map where various
colors and bars represent used and free
capacities, formats/OSes, and partition
types, rather like GParted but with many
more options, such as downgrading the
NTFS version, changing cluster sizes
or serial numbers, etc. Right-clicking a
partition from the list or mapping and
choosing a command from the pop-up
menu is the typical way to interact
with the software, but there are the
conventional pull-down menus, organized
logically in groups, that ofer these same
commands plus other commands (which
are more system-oriented than drive- or
92 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
likely to use often, but it’s a great tool to
have handy for those special, headache-
inducing occasions. ■
BY BARRY BRENESAL
Unlocker
Free
Empty Loop
www.emptyloop.com/unlocker
choose to rename,
move, or delete it.
We found that
Unlocker invariably
wor ked, t hough
Ki l l Process, the
brute-force method
of unlocking a file
or folder, was only
somethi ng to be
used as a last resort
when nothing else
worked, including a
reboot. Tere’s no evaluation tool to tell
you when it’s safe to kill a process that
is accidentally locking a fle, but Empty
Loop probably thinks it’s OK for you to
figure that out on your own, seeing as
how Unlocker is free.
Unlocker works on all Windows
versions since Windows 2000 (both
32- and 64-bit). It’s not a utility you’re
S
ometimes it’s the small comforts
in life that matter the most, like
coffee machines that turn themselves
on in the morning, so you can stumble
to the kitchen and pour your first
cup without pushing any buttons or
measuring anything. Or free utilities
such as Empty Loop’s Unlocker that
can remove a file or a whole directory
even when Windows tells you it’s in use
and won’t let you delete it.
Unlocker is simple to use; just right-
click the file you want to delete and
click Unlocker. Tis brings up a small
window listing the processes that are
currently locking the folder or fle. You
can select any or all to unlock, and in
the event that this is insufcient, there’s
a Kill Process button that simply stops
cold whatever’s blocking your attempts.
If you right-click to unlock a fle that
isn’t locked, Unlocker still lets you
Empty Loop Unlocker
Innovative Solutions Advanced Uninstaller Pro 10
we found the white text on a transparent gray
backdrop difcult to read.
But this is a minor blemish in an excellent
app that does just what it says and costs
nothing. AUP is a winner. ■
BY BARRY BRENESAL
Advanced Uninstaller Pro 10
Free | Innovative Solutions
www.advanceduninstaller.com
for each program. Similarly, Piriform’s
CCleaner is a small utility that cleans
out the temp fles, histories, and cookies
for many browsers and some third-party
apps, but AUP furnishes a much longer
apps list.
We also like the few tools AUP supplies
that aren’t related to uninstalling, such as
file shredding, and duplicate file search
and removal. Live fle compression utilizes
Windows’ compression system, and you can
specify anything from entire drives to specifc
fles. It uncompresses, too.
All of this content is managed through
an easy-to-use front-end, with five major
categories represented by buttons on the left
side of its screen: General Tools, File And
Folder Tools, Internet Browser Tools, Registry
Tools, and Report And Extra Tools. Clicking
any of these brings up a subcategory of
utilities across the main screen. Mousing over
a utility displays a brief description, though
W
hen a utility refers to itself as “the
ultimate uninstaller for Windows,” it’s
time to call for a show of cards. Advanced
Uninstaller Pro isn’t engaging in a bluff,
however. It really is single-mindedly focused
on uninstalling—whether that means your
fonts, programs, startup entries, Windows
services, or duplicate or temp files. It can
delete cookies, browser histories, browser
add-ons, and extensions. It also cleans, backs
up, and optimizes your Registry.
Many of these options are available
elsewhere. For example, you can use the
Control Panel’s Programs And Features
tool to uninstall a program, but some
invalid entries simply refuse to go away.
AUP’s Forced Removal option will get
rid of a stubborn entry, while Remove
Invalid Entries removes them all. You
can right-click, select Report, and get
a web-based displ ay of the names,
versi ons, compani es, and websi tes
CPU / June 2012 93
Also go to your Web history page at
google.com/history (you need to be signed
in) to see all of your interactions with
Google search and services in a timeline.
Here you can filter out the history to see
just interactions with maps, news, sponsored
links, etc. More importantly you can check
boxes to remove items and also pause the
recording of your history. And don’t miss the
calendar navigation tool in the right rail. It
tracks back all Google interactions by the day
and even keeps a running total of how many
searches you have run while logged in. Is it a
bad thing that I have 56,743?
Fire Google
Finally, the big and cool new tools
from Google that control your data are
on the Data Liberation Front site at www.
dataliberation.org. The principle of the
site is that a user should have access to
for their own data and digital activities. This
month we look at some of the newer ways
that the big players say they are giving you
greater security and control.
Google Is Watching—
Watch Back
With the lion’s share of search
activity on the Web going through
its servers, Google likely has more
data on you than just about any
entity on the planet. Until recently
a sparse Ad Preferences manager
let you see how Google targeted
ads to you and block them. As the
stakes over online privacy have
heightened, so have Google’s eforts
to assuage user concerns with new
transparency tools.
Te main suite of privacy tools
at Google is located at www.
google.com/policies/privacy/tools/.
Your bas i c t ool i s t he
Dashboard at www.google.com/
dashboard/?hl=en. The most
instructive part of this tool is how
it shows you all of the devices from
which you have accessed Google
and the services you have used over
the years. Bet you didn’t recall that you set
up an Orkut social profle or that you set up
a Blogger site in 2010. All of the apps you
have installed on registered Android devices,
saved maps, etc., are all visible to you here as
are privacy settings for many of these services.
You will be surprised how many ways you
touch Google.
S
ecurity, privacy, tracking, and user
ownership of their data have all been
critical issues in the conversations around
personal computers and the Web in recent
months. Almost all of the major players in
the software and online services business,
from Apple to Google, Microsoft to Mozilla,
understand they need to get out in front of
this issue before regulators and legislators
provide policies for them. And so all of
these companies have been doling out tools
and software that purport to give the users
greater access to, control over, and security
Own Your Data
Windows Tip Of The Month
Time to take fight again. Old PC diehards will recall a time when the new version of Microsoft Flight
Simulator was anxiously awaited. In its day, the game/simulator was a test of hardware power as
well as an amazing demonstration of mapping real-world data into a simulation experience. It is
back, and now in a freemium version from Microsoft at microsoftfight.com/en-US/home/. The 1.4GB
download is part of the online MS Games Live system. You can play for free and get basic training or
log in for more features and to purchase upgrades that let you fy in remote locales.
Registry Tip
Of The Month
For those who are frustrated by mistakenly
hitting the Caps Lock key and getting a string
of unintended capitalized sentences, we have
found this oldie but goodie from previous
versions of Windows brings sanity to that
keyboard. On traditional physical typewriters,
the Caps Lock function was disengaged the
next time you tapped the Shift key, which
could minimize the damage from runaway
capitalization. This Registry hack enables a
similar functionality in Windows 7. In Regedit,
go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Keyboard
Layout. Right-click to create a New DWORD
Value named “Attributes.” Double-click on this
new Value in the right pane and assign the
hexadecimal value of “00010000” and click
OK. Activating the hack requires a reboot or
logging off and back on.
Takeout is a tool from Google that lets you package and
download into specifc formats content you created on select
services like Google Docs and Picasa.
94 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Uncovering The Data Conspiracy
How publishers and third parties plant
and share cookie information is at the center
of debates about privacy and user tracking
online. To get a direct look at the ways in
which your online travels are being knit
together by others, Mozilla is working with
support from the Ford Foundation to craft
an ingenious experiment called Collusion
that creates a map in real time of the ways
in which your landing on a single site can
plant cookies that follow you and bring
your data trail to other sites. You can link to
the Firefox extension at www.mozilla.org/
en-US/collusion/.
Once Collusion is installed, simply go
about your usual Web browsing habits for
a day or so. Ten click the Collusion icon
that appears in the lower right of your Firefox
browser. You will see that Collusion has built
a confusing map in which the circles with
halos indicate the sites you have visited, with
lines connecting to the services and other
sites with which that destination has shared
your information, often through a third-
party ad or data network. In the left-hand
rail, use the Site Info tab to highlight a site
in the map and get a more orderly list. You
will see a rundown of the sites with which
the destination shares data and the other sites
you visit that may be sharing data with the
highlighted site. ■
and the right to put in and take out any
data Google is keeping for them. It is
important to note that this is not a gateway
into all of the data Google has about you
so much as a single point of entry to all
of the data that you yourself have created
on Google—from Gmail contact lists to
Chrome bookmarks. Each Google product
has its own instructions for accessing
and extracting your own content. For
instance, the site directs you to where you
can export or import a calendar or export
Google chat logs.
Google Takeout is a new platform that
lets you easily download some of your
own content from Google in a common
place and interface. Go to www.google.
com/takeout/?pli=1 and you will see
that data you have created via +1, Buzz,
Circles, Contacts, Docs, Picasa, and other
services can actually be downloaded in a
variety of formats. Tap Docs, for instance,
to have Google tally all of the documents
you have made. The Configure tab in
this tally box lets you package word
processing, presentations, spreadsheets,
and drawings into one of several formats.
Hitting the Create Archive button will
build a downloadable archive of each of
the categories you have designated. Each
then can be downloaded directly to your
PC for use elsewhere.
I N F I N I T E L O O P
Start Your Own
Chocolate Print Shop
UK-based Choc Edge has started taking
online pre-orders for its Choc Creator
Version 1, a desktop 3D chocolate printer
that can be yours for about $4,600. The
printer’s deposition head uses a 10-milliliter
syringe and highly precise stepper motor;
designs for your creations can be uploaded
via USB. Before you start drawing up plans
for a semisweet, 1/144 scale Millennium
Falcon, however, be aware that it will be
suitable only for viewing, not eating. Choc
Edge says the current printer is designed
for “printing demonstration chocolates and
making creative and artistic displaying
objects only.” A certifed food-grade printer
is three to six months away. ■
The Data Liberation Front is a Google program that lets users
access the data they have created across the company’s many
services and download much of it to their own PCs.
This is not a star map. It is a chart using Mozilla’s Collusion
extension for Firefox that charts the ways that sites share
browsing activity data with one another via third-party cookies.
http://www.chocedge.com/Choc+Creator+Version+1
CPU / June 2012 95
A Dungeon Crawl To Freedom—by Barry Brenesal
Talk about a blast from the past: I reviewed
SSI’s Eye of the Beholder very favorably
back in 1991. Its combination of real-time
exploratory action with a four-character party,
utilizing excellent graphics in a first-person, 3D
dungeon crawl made it enormously popular,
and spawned two immediate successors. Now
Almost Human Games has done a Beholder-
like tribute, and you have an opportunity to
understand what the praise was all about.
Te game’s premise is simple. Your party
of four prisoners escapes from their cells in
Mount Grimrock and starts a long journey
toward freedom through endless corridors and
down flights of stairs. It’s really just an excuse
for dungeon crawling, with carefully placed
rewards and a seemingly endless supply of
puzzles involving pressure plates, trapdoors,
hidden switches, and magic teleportals. We
can’t forget the enemies, either: a delightful mix
of clockwork-like undead soldiers, clumsy, giant
snails, and herders who look like animated
tree trunks. Tat’s only a taste of what you’ll
$14.99 (PC)

ESRB: N/A

Almost Human

www.grimrock.net
find. Te enemy combat AI is excellent, so
you’ll see archers slide away from your melee
attacks and imps hover out of range before
shooting forward to claw at your party. Te
visuals are stunning, with great animations
and particle efects in resolutions up to 2048
x 1546—and, best of all, it runs like a dream
with all the graphical stops pulled out, even
on a dual-core with 2GB RAM.
Some game design elements have
changed along the path that led from
Beholder to Grimrock. Te Advanced
Dungeons & Dragons classes, races, and
alignment systems are out, presumably due
to licensing considerations, and that suits
us just fine: We’ve had it up to our eyeteeth
with the AD&D clichés in nearly every RPG
game. You’ll get to choose among humans,
minotaurs, lizardmen, and insectoids for races,
with the classes limited to fighters, rogues,
and mages. Good? Evil? How does that really
matter when the only philosophical choice
your party faces is whether it will or won’t kill
the thing in front of you that wants flambéed
adventurers for dinner?
Spells aren’t auto-acquired with levels,
though your party members do gain stats
and skills as their experience improves.
Instead, a system of nine runes that the
player clicks to combine is used to produce
magical efects. Spells are discovered on
scrolls (or by experimenting) and can be cast
as long as a mage has sufcient power. Power,
like health, is recovered when not in combat,
and especially while resting. Auto-mapping
and auto-pickup on missiles make life in
Grimrock a bit easier, though you can turn
the former of at the start of the game.
But the core stuf remains the same:
You right-click to launch an attack, use
the arrow keys to move around, open
inventories to chug potions, eat food,
and swap out gear. And just like Beholder,
Legend of Grimrock is both simple and
perfectly beguiling. Tere’s always just one
more corridor ahead, one more puzzle to
solve, one more monster whose shufing
you can hear around the corner. Good
luck in escaping Mount Grimrock, and in
escaping this game, as well. ■
96 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Te Last Samurai—by Dr. Malaprop
Fall Of Te Samurai is a standalone expansion for turn-based Total War: Shogun
2. Te game is a culmination of everything that’s right with the Total War series and
eschews much of the controversial design decisions we’ve seen in recent Total War games. Tose
new to Total War will be welcomed to turn-based strategic moves a la Risk with diplomacy and
trade aspects. All of this on a massive scale with thousands of troops on-screen. Make your turn
and then enter the real-time strategy mode, where you can get into the tactical engagement.
Attributes such as soldier fatigue and morale play a big part here.
Fall Of Te Samurai’s gameplay is set during the mid-19th century during the Boshin War
when Japan was entering a dramatic modernization brought about by the industrial revolution.
Until this point, the country was efectively a medieval society with a feudal government system.
With modernization came turbulence, which plays exceptionally well for strategic and tactical
gameplay and revisionist history in this superb turn-based strategy game. As the game moves
toward its inevitable conclusion, the traditional pro-Shogun faction faces of against the modern
pro-Emperor faction.
What really stands out after playing a slew of Total War titles is how well developer Creative
Assembly created a user interface to manage the rather hefty complexity of the game. Tis
makes Fall Of Te Samurai one of the more accessible titles in the series. Tis time, you can even
directly control certain units and artillery, and there’s an abundance of unit types on which you
can expand. It’s a treat for strategy lovers. ■
$29.99 (PC)

ESRB: (T)een

Sega
totalwar.com/shogun2/fall-of-the-samurai
Pirates, Sea Monsters
& Lots Of Rum—by Barry Brenesal
Have you played any of the first three Gothic games,
or the original Risen? If so, you have some idea
what to expect from Risen 2: a first person action
RPG where decisions you make really do afect the
progress of your character’s adventures. Tere are
attributes, talents, and skills such as gunsmithing,
pickpocketing, and liquor distillation to improve
through a mix of “glory” (killing and quest fulfillment,
definitely not the same thing) and paying trainers in
gold. Te dialog is gritty, and the distrustful NPCs are
seldom inclined to do a favor without first receiving
one in return.
German developer Piranha Bytes has chosen to set
Risen 2 in a Caribbean-like area infested with pirates.
(But no pirate jokes, thanks be to the gods.) Your main
mission, in fact, is to help a pirate’s daughter whom
$59.99 (PC, PS3, X360)

ESRB: (M)ature
Piranha Bytes

www.risen2.com
you first encountered in Risen acquire her father’s
treasure, which he’s hidden away—and in exchange,
she’ll assist in finding a legendary artifact that will
destroy a sea monster known as the Kraken.
Tere are three joinable factions in the game.
You begin under a secret directive requiring you to
join the pirates, but along the way you can return
to your old allegiance with the Inquisition—now
shorn of their magic, weapons only—or ally with the
natives, who are used as slaves, but have their own
legends and unique magic. Unlike so many other
action RPGs, quest series here genuinely open and
close depending upon the choices you make. Tis
really helps Risen 2’s replayability, just as it did its
predecessors.
Te voices and artwork are very fine, as is the
animation, except for plenty of grotesque gestures
and exaggerated arm-waving in the film cutaways,
as though these pirates, ofcers, and slaves acquired
their social skills by watching TV commercials for
used car dealerships. Otherwise, we found Risen 2
less open-ended than the Gothic games, but less
narrowly focused than Risen, and a delight to play. ■
98 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Te game begins with Te Eight Guardian Generals
and the Shinkoku army bearing down from space
to attack the impure Gohma. General Asura is
one of the eight demigod generals, and he leads
the attack on the Vlitra, which is the source of the
Gohma. Tanks to Asura’s ranged attacks and a
giant Buddha space weapon, the Vlitra are subdued,
but not defeated. Amidst the celebration of the
Shinkoku in the following days, Asura is framed
for the emperor’s murder, his wife murdered, and
his daughter abducted. Tat’s enough to make
anyone angry. Unfortunately, the seven remaining
demigods throw Asura to his death.
Tousands of years elapse before Asura comes
to with a foggy memory. However, with the
goading of a golden metallic spider, his memory
slowly returns, as does his wrath. You’ve seen rage
and revenge in classic novels and “Kill Bill,” but
it’s a bit diferent when the key combatants are
demigods larger than planets. It raises the stakes.
Asura screams, punches, and performs all manner
of insane cut-scene or QTE combat that looks
phenomenal. You’ll play through 18 episodes, each
of 20 minutes or so, mostly battling demigods and
other enemies with the occasional surprise tossed
in for good measure. Tese episodes are not unlike
TV episodes with their own recaps and credits.
Animation is excellent, which is good because
a large portion of the game is about the player
watching events unfold. Ultimately, you’ll spend
more time watching than playing the
seven hours it takes to complete
Asura’s Wrath. But those
seven hours are
entertaining if you look
at this as an interactive
anime experience
with shooting and
brawling elements.
We walked away
thoroughly enjoying its
insanity and story. ■
$59.99 (X360, PS3)

ESRB: (T)een
Capcom

facebook.com/asuraswrath
You begin your journey sitting in exquisitely shifting desert sand. With minimal guidance
or complication, it becomes clear that you’re going to want to reach that towering
mountain of in the distance. Te sand is blowing, the sun is beating down, and you
are very alone. Cresting the first dune, you revel in surfing down the sand. Along the
way, you encounter basic puzzles and platforming that can be solved by taking time
to explore environments. In addition to moving around, your onscreen character can
discover pieces of cloth that build out a scarf. Te scarf length indicates jumping and
flying powers, which let you access locations that provide bonus collectible items,
symbols, and tapestries that tell the story. Last but not least, your character can chirp/
sing to interact with objects in the world. Te narrative is yours to discover.
Tis last feature plays a key role when you discover another anonymous character
in your game: a player that looks just like in-game you, perhaps with a diferent length
scarf, one who communicates by movement or chirps. You sometimes discover that
you bond closely with this unnamed stranger. Te game manages to bring a level of
emotional depth that’s not often found in videogames, and this aspect on its own
elevates Journey in our minds.
Journey manages to be endearing, often poignant, captivating, elegant, beautiful,
and wallet-friendly. Whether or not you agree with its artistic sensibilities, it makes you
experience emotion during the three hours or so it takes to finish. Journey is a game that
will raise your expectations for what videogames can and will achieve in the future. To
feel or understand Journey, you’ll need to go beyond academic descriptions and reviews
and play it. Tat’s a suggestion we heartily stand behind. ■
$14.99 (PS3)

ESRB: (E)veryone
Sony Computer Entertainment
thatgamecompany.com/games/journey
Interactive Anger Management—by Dr. Malaprop
Captivating & Emotional—by Dr. Malaprop
CPU / June 2012 99
Free-To-Play Done Right—by Chris Trumble
Te free-to-play model has become increasingly
popular, and Hi-Rez Studios does a nice job of
rewarding players for buying into its online team-
based shooter Tribes: Ascend without making the
game hostile to new and/or frugal players. Tis
is partly a function of the game’s well-balanced
class system and partly due to Tribes: Ascend’s
nature—the game is played at breakneck speed,
and when you are flying in one direction and
trying to shoot someone hurtling through the
air in another, your skill is the overriding factor
Free (PC)

ESRB: (T)een
Hi-Rez Studios

www.tribesascend.com
Te Best Defense Is A Good Ofense—by Chris Trumble
Anomaly: Warzone Earth, which recently came to
Xbox Live Arcade after having been a hit on PC, Mac,
iOS, and Android, takes the tower defense paradigm
and inverts it, putting you in command of an armored
column charged with going on the ofensive in various
locales in Iraq and Japan and taking out mechanized
alien towers that cropped up following the impact of an
extraterrestrial object. Te story itself is inconsequential
and the accompanying voice acting can get repetitive, but
Anomaly’s gameplay is intuitive and fun.
Most missions are straightforward clear-the-board
afairs, but the game also mixes in some escort
missions, beat-the-clock rushes, and others, and
aside from the campaign mode there are three
variants of Horde-style survival minigames and a
series of tactical trials that present some pretty
intricate scenarios under the guise of training
missions. (Tese are present in the XBL Arcade
version; other versions have the campaign mode
and two survival minigames.)
Te game is brief but provides a ton of fun for a very
modest price. Take a break and blow some stuf up;
you’ll be glad you did. ■
in whether you’re successful. You may find that
some classes and weapons best suit your personal
style of play, but paying to unlock a premium class
doesn’t guarantee kills.
Tribes: Ascend rewards teamwork, and there are
flags to capture and objectives to achieve, but at its
core, this game is a pure run-and-gun shooter with a
couple of very intriguing mechanics tossed into the
mix: skiing and flying. If you’re looking for a fast shooter
that is easy to pick up but tough to master, Tribes:
Ascend is definitely worth a look. ■
800 Points (X360); $9.99 (PC/Mac);
$3.99 (Android); $1.99 (iOS)
ESRB: (E)veryone

11 bit studios
anomalythegame.com
Ubisoft’s I Am Alive is a unique and engaging
action game that is well worth every penny of
the 1,200 Microsoft Points (aka 15 bucks) you’ll
spend acquiring it on XBL.
You play the role of a man who flew “out
east” just before a worldwide cataclysm referred
to early on simply as “the event” wiped out
most of the human race. Your goal is to journey
through the ruins of your city and reunite with
your wife and daughter.
Fear & Loathing In Haventon—by Chris Trumble
1,200 Points (X360)

ESRB: (M)ature
Ubisoft

iamalive-game.ubi.com
Survivors mainly fall into two groups:
victims and enemies. Members of both
groups will drain your resources and put you
in harm’s way; add to that intimidation-based
combat and an interesting climbing mechanic
that you’ll use to scale the listing skyscrapers
littering the horizon, and you have a
challenging little adventure with big-game
production values that feels like survival-
horror, only without zombies and stuf. ■
100 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Q
It sounds like Macs are
possibly getting second-
generation Thunderbolt con-
trollers soon, while their PC
counterparts have yet to adopt
the standard. How big an impact
on the computing world in gen-
eral do you think Tunderbolt
will have, and do you foresee it
making greater inroads in the PC
market than FireWire did?
LO
Although the proof will be
in the pudding, I do believe
Thunderbolt/Light Peak will have
a very long and successful place in
the industry. It is really ahead of
its time in many ways, and once
the availability of peripherals and
even cable options catch up, I think
we’ll see things really blow open.
It’s a real long-term benefit for
Apple owners that this interface has
been standard on the new models
for over a year now. Tere will be a
lot of choice in the near future for
Tunderbolt products. At the same time,
I do acknowledge that USB 3.0 is more
than suitable for many consumer needs
while also having a far lower cost.
Q
We have reviewed a couple of your
company’s SSDs now, and came
away very impressed both times. In the
case of the Mercury Electra 6G (the
roundup starts on page 17 of the May
issue), your drive actually produced
better numbers in our tests than we
expected from your marketing material,
which almost never happens. What is it
Q
Now, of course, you sell products
for Macs and PCs. Did your
business change dramatically in 2005
when Apple adopted Intel platforms
for Macs, or has getting PC folks
to take another look been a more
gradual process?
LO
Things are always evolving, and
we’ve long supported both Mac
as well as Windows customers. Since
Apple has shifted into the PC space, it
defnitely enabled an acceleration of our
multiplatform support capabilities.
Q
We heard a story that you
founded Other World Com-
puting because you were tired of
paying too much for memory for
your Apple II when you were a
kid. Is that true, and how did you
get started?
LO
Tat’s it in a nutshell. But
i t wasn’ t j ust the l ocal
Apple dealer; it was all the outlets
advertising memory for Apple II.
I picked up a Computer Shopper
at the News Depot that was right
down the street from school and
work, found places listing the part
numbers for the actual chips that
made up these upgrade sets (used
to be chips you plugged into a
board), and gave it a whirl. Once
all was confrmed, I upgraded my
Apple for a fraction of the cost
being ofered in the space. I also
began adverti si ng on Ameri ca
Online’s Classified Mall and in
chat rooms to help others save
on upgrades I then sold for a fraction
of the big guys’ prices and provided
assistance with the how-to.
I remember the drill of taking the
computer in to the tech, signing it in,
and then having to come back a couple
days later after they completed the
“service.” When I found out this was
basically a 5- to 10-minute install, I
had to educate others and help make
the benefit of memory upgrades more
accessible for a lower cost than what that
two-day service cost—before the cost of
the memory itself.
An Interview With OWC’s Larry O’Connor
Larry O’Connor is the founder and CEO of OWC (Other World Computing), a manufacturer and e-tailer of solid-state drives, data
storage solutions, memory, and accessories for Macs and PCs. O’Connor has provided the strategic initiative and vision establishing
OWC as a leading provider of technology products and services. His firm has developed the only non-Apple SSD solution for MacBook
Air systems and a growing family of Windows notebook solutions. An alumnus of Marquette University, O’Connor has received
numerous industry awards; he has been included in Dealerscope’s 40 Under 40, the Inc. 5,000 list (five consecutive years), and was a
two-year honoree in Crain’s Chicago Business “Fast 50” list.
102 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
quality aspects that ofset some of the cost
diferential vs. building overseas. What I
think we know and believe more so than
the competition is that the benefits in
quality and performance are well worth
a couple extra pennies spent in the long
run. We’re long-term focused, not short.
Q
Te “My OWC” area on your site
is a nice resource for people with
Macs who are looking for upgrades or
replacements. Is this something that
you might expand at some point to
include help for PC owners looking
for memory and/or SSDs? We notice
you have some PC troubleshooting
information on the site already.
LO
We have huge plans for the same
expansive coverage with PC specifcity
as we move forward with our PCSales.com
site especially. It’s all in the works.
Q
Your site has a “Coming Soon”
banner over a link to a Plasma
us i ng per f or mance as ynchr onous
NAND configs, the EXTREME Pro
6G is built with Toggle-sync NAND.
For those working with certain data
types, the Toggle-sync NAND provides
a higher level of performance. For the
typical user, the Electra is all the SSD
they should need.
Q
Your site says that your drives are
designed and built in the United
States. We’ve all heard for many years
now how difcult it is for domestic
manufacturing to compete, yet your
SSD prices are extremely competitive.
How do you manage this? Do you think
this issue has been overblown, or do
you just know something others don’t?
LO
There are significant challenges
to building in the United States,
but with the right manufacturing partner
and sound management, one can enjoy
signifcant advantages. For instance, we
are able to turn on a dime and manage
about OWC’s Mercury-series SSDs that
makes them such strong performers?
LO
We chose confgurations as well
as overal l desi gn parameters
that seek performance and reliability.
Both the grade and the configuration
of NAND i n an SSD make a bi g
diference, and we choose accordingly.
All of our Mercury SSD models are
manufactured in the United States,
built to last and perform for the long-
term. As for our published specs, we’d
rather be conservative and talk about
real-world results vs. talking about a
controller’s theoretical maximums the
way it seems others do.
Q
How do your Mercury Electra 6G
and Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G
SSD lines difer?
LO
Both are actually very similar,
both built in the exact same
platform. While the Electra is built
CPU / June 2012 103
themselves as an incredible option vs.
the much more expensive and slower
Fibre Channel storage today. We’re not
done evolving our PCI-E SSD products,
either. Not entirely, but somewhat
by choice, we’ve taken the slow road
on our Thunderbolt product entries.
However, in the second half of the year,
we’ll have an explosion of such. By
Christmas, these solutions will be much
more cost-efective when compared to
competing performance interfaces, and
while still more expensive than USB
3.0, will be a bit more comparable with
consideration to the performance delta
Tunderbolt will provide.
Our customers are large drivers of
what products we support directly and
indirectly, and we’re here to make them
happy with the right products for the
evolving needs our customers of all
types have. ■
have a 1TB SSD “coming soon,” but
it doesn’t mention what form factor
it might be. Do you expect such ca-
pacities to be 2.5-inch SATA drives, or
do you think it’s more likely that the
initial 1TB drives will be PCI-E or will
take some other form?
LO
We just began shipping our
1TB (960GB after 7% over-
provisioning) Mercury Accelsior PCI-E
SSDs and will soon add a 2.5-inch profle
1TB, as well.
Q
What else can we expect from OWC
in 2012? Do you have any upcoming
launches you can talk about?
LO
Faster, higher capacity, lower
cost per gigabyte. (Smiles.) Our
Jupiter mini-SAS solutions are already
gaining wide attention and will prove
& LCD TV and display area. How
soon will you be offering TVs, and
how did you arrive at the decision to
branch out in this direction?
LO
It’s a logical extension of our
computing side. More and more
people are using their Macs and PCs as
home-theater controllers/media sources,
and we already have many products that
support this particular use. We want
to offer high-performance and reliable
products that are the right solutions
for the longer term; we’re not here to
promote cycles of 9- to 14-month
replacement needs. You don’t have long-
term customers if you promote such
products, in my opinion.
Q
In reply to a customer question
about larger SSD capacities,
one of your tweets says OWC will
104 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
New Analysis Methods Could Produce Better Prosthetics
I
t seems like many of the alerts and
security measures in the United States
deal with external dangers, but the
news is also full of stories of military
or government employees going off
the rails. Identifying these insider
threats is a time-consuming process,
because analysts only have the capacity
to investigate perhaps five (out of
thousands) reported anomalies each
day out.
A consortium of researchers at
Georgia Institute of Technology, along
with peers at Oregon State University,
the University of Massachusetts, and
Carnegie Mellon University have come
together under the leadership of SAIC
(Science Applications International
Corporation) to create a system that
identify rogue personnel before they
cause any trouble.
The $9 million project has the
researchers developing an unprecedented
combination of algorithms in two
categori es—graph-processi ng and
knowledge-based relational machine
learning—coupled with statistical
anomaly detection methods, to devise
a system prototype called ADAMS
(Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales).
ADAMS can aggregate immense
amounts of communication data in
real time—texts, emails, file transfers,
IMs, etc.—and scan them for unusual
behavior. ADAMS would be installed
in civilian government and military
situations where personnel would
expressly agree to monitoring, and the
system then processes the information
culled from all electronic activities.
ADAMS t hen coul d del i ver t o
superiors, “a very short, ranked list of
unexplained events that should be further
investigated,” says Dr. David Bader, a co-
principal investigator at Georgia Tech. ■
Early Warning System Attempts To Curb Insider Threats
A Peek At What’s Brewing In The Laboratory
T
he result of combat wounds, such as the amputation of
a lower leg, are devastating in many ways, not the least
being loss of mobility. Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists
Boyd Evans and John Mueller are working on a system that will
better guide prosthetic development for disabled vets. Evans and
Mueller want to perfect prosthetic fit and performance, helping
soldiers who want to return to active duty or simply want to
regain as many physical capabilities as possible.
Currently, prosthetics are designed for restricted physical
exercise and can cause an uneven gait, which, beyond being
uncomfortable, may lead to structural health issues later on.
Evans and Mueller, taking a page from new developments
in videogaming (such as Kinect for Xbox 360), are studying
natural walking patterns by strapping IMUs (inertial
measurement units) and other sensors to a subject’s foot, calf,
and thigh. The device and sensors capture data regarding
velocity, orientation, and gravitational forces on the leg while
in motion; then they deliver it to a computer running analytic
algorithms that assess the impact on specifc joints.
Evans and Mueller have used a robotic leg (programmed with
a human’s info) to show proof of concept. In the coming months,
they’ll test their system on a person who has a prosthetic. ■
A team of researchers from
Georgia Tech have joined forces
with several other universities
to develop a system that will
inform authorities if military
or civilian governmental
personnel’s electronic behavior
looks suspicious. The idea is to
stop possible illegal activities
before they happen.
PHOTO CREDIT: GARY MEEK
CPU / June 2012 105
A
s electronics that use inexpensive computer chips
have become ubiquitous, so has the habit of
tossing, instead of repairing, devices when they go
on the fritz. With an eye on conservation, a group of
engineers at the University of Illinois have created a
system that lets broken circuitry to heal itself, even
without diagnostics or human intervention.
Aerospace engineering professor Dr. Scott White
explains how their system works. “We encapsulate
a liquid metal [an eutectic alloy of Gallium
and Indium] in a polymer microcapsule [made of
urea-formaldehyde]. We then put these capsules onto
a gold conductive line. When the line breaks, it also
breaks the capsules, releasing the liquid metal. It fows
into the broken line, and conductivity is restored.”
White says that fnding a suitably conductive liquid
challenged them, but they found a solution when they
“tried metals that are liquids at room temperature, and
were successful in encapsulating them.”
Te team envisions their product seeing widespread
adoption in circuit boards, but also in aircraft, satellites,
and spacecraft, “where you need fault-free operation for
many years and you have no opportunity to repair.” ■
Self-Healing Electronics
Work Longer, Reduce Waste
H
istorically, there have been a few notable hit-makers in the music
industry, folks who have a finger on the pulse of popular sound. In a
“curiosity-driven research project” dubbed “ScoreAHit,” (scoreahit.com) the
University of Bristol’s professor Tijl De Bie atand a team of researchers are
trying their hand at throwing science into the hit-predicting mix.
“We wanted to know to what extent it is possible to automatically
distinguish songs that reach the top of the chart from those that remain
at the bottom, based on just the audio,” says De Bie. “Tis seemed quite a
challenging task, given that it’s likely that other factors will have a strong
impact on the popularity of a song, as well. For example, the marketing
budget, the prior popularity of the band, and social aspects surrounding
the song are no doubt very important.”
Te team used machine-learning technology for their investigation,
which involves algorithms that learn from data input. Specifcally, they
examined the last 50 years of UK top 40 hits as baseline data to see if
ScoreAHit could correctly predict each song’s status on the charts.
“To be able to do this, songs must be represented in a way that is
mathematically convenient,” explains De Bie. “In this case we represent each
song by a set of musically relevant numerical ‘features.’ Tis set of features
includes basic ones related to the duration of the song and its tempo (beats per
minute), and more advanced ones such as the danceability, energy, mode, time
signature, and even harmonic simplicity (characterizing how musically simple a
song is) and nonharmonicity (characterizing how harmonic the sound is).”
ScoreAHit’s ability to determine a hit song currently lands at about
60%, but De Bie and his team also unearthed some unexpected results.
Predictability of a hit was at its lowest during the 1970s and ’80s, leading
to the conclusion that those were extraordinarily creative musical eras.
Another uncovered truth is that music, over time, has indeed become
louder. (See, your parents were right about one thing.)
De Bie says that the research group is currently examining additional
audio elements and external infuences (such as artist popularity and
lyrics) that could improve ScoreAHit’s performance. ■
New App Predicts The Hits
Researchers at the University of Bristol utilized a variety of “musical features”
to mathematically identify elements in the algorithm they crafted for their hit
song prediction application, ScoreAHit.
University of Illinois scientists have created liquid-metal-
flled microcapsules that reside on gold conductive wires
to be used in a variety of electronic devices. When the
wire fails, the microcapsules break and fll in the gaps,
instantly restoring the wire’s conductivity.
IMAGE CREDIT: AMANDA JONES,
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
106 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Look For CPU At These LAN Parties
05.03.12
Lan in the Highlands - Laughlintown, PA
www.clubconfict.com/events/lan2012
05.04-06.12
GBLAN - Green Bay, WI
www.gblan.com
05.11-12.12
G33ktopia - Portland, OR
www.geeksofwar.com
05.11-13.12
Baselan 23 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
www.allyourbaseonline.com
05.18-20.12
Civil War LAN 4 - Corvallis, OR
oregonstate.edu/groups/osugaming
05.19.12
Naois Gaming - York, PA
www.naoisgaming.com
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
WV Gamers - Eugene, OR
www.wvgamers.com
06.07-10.12
ColossalCon - Sanduskdy, OH
NostalgiaConventions.com
06.08-09.12
Forge LAN III - Medina, OH
www.forgelan.com
06.16.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
Quake and Steak LAN - Mantua, OH
quakesteaklan.webs.com
WV Gamers - Eugene, OR
www.wvgamers.com
06.29-07.01.12
LANcouver 2012 - Richmond, BC
www.lancouver.com
07.06-08.12
Intel LANFest MassiveLAN 2012 -
Hamburg, NY
www.massivelan.com
07.13-15.12
AnimeSouthEast - Sevierville, TN
NostalgiaConventions.com
07.13-16.12
PDXLAN 20 - Tigard, OR
www.pdxlan.net
07.21.12
Naois Gaming - York, PA
www.naoisgaming.com
108 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com
Would you like us to help promote your next LAN?
Give us a call at 1.800.733.3809
We’ll be glad to consider your event
Across The Nation—& Beyond!
09.22.12
WV Gamers - Eugene, OR
www.wvgamers.com
09.29.12
Naois Gaming - York, PA
www.naoisgaming.com
10.12-14.12
Banzaicon - Columbia, SC
NostalgiaConventions.com
10.20.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
WV Gamers - Eugene, OR
www.wvgamers.com
11.02-04.12
PDXLAN November - Portland, OR
www.pdxlan.net/portland
11.17.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
WV Gamers - Eugene , OR
www.wvgamers.com
12.15.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
07.27.12
Intel LANFest DESERTBASH ELEVEN
- Phoenix, AZ
lanfest.intel.com
08.02-05.12
Quakecon - Dallas, TX
www.quakecon.org
08.11.12
WV Gamers - Eugene, OR
www.wvgamers.com
08.18.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
09.14-16.12
Ouiumicon.com - Louisville, KY
NostalgiaConventions.com
09.15.12
NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON - Greenville, TX
www.networkgamingclub.com
09.15-16.12
Exile XII - Troy, NY
www.exilecomputergaming.com
CPU / June 2012 109
Q&A With Mark Leathem
Kingston’s VP Of
Corporate Marketing
On HyperX
ML
It’s no challenge, really. This
is part of our everyday busi-
ness—keeping track of processor and
motherboard roadmaps to ensure that
we have complementary products at
launch. Enthusiasts who want to push
the performance boundaries with Ivy
Bridge will want to pair it with Kingston
HyperX memory. At the Z77 launch,
we will have HyperX dual-channel
XMP-certified kits made especially for
the new Intel Ivy Bridge 3rd Generation
Core i7 and i5 processors. Tey will be
available in 8GB and 4GB kits of two
starting at 1,600MHz and going up to
speedy 2,666MHz frequencies. We’ve even
successfully tested 2,800MHz HyperX kits
on ASUS, GIGABYTE, and MSI Z77
motherboards, not to mention the SATA
6Gbps HyperX SSDs and DataTraveler
HyperX USB 3.0 fash drives that we also
have to complement Z77.
Q
What can we expect from Kingston
in the second half of 2012? Any
upcoming product launches in the works
that you can talk about, or anything you’d
like to add?
ML
Given that it is HyperX’s 10-year
anniversary this November, keep
on the lookout for some limited-edition
SKUs, as well as some great promotions.
We really want to reward our loyal
fans for supporting Kingston HyperX
throughout its 10-year existence.
Q
How long have Kingston’s HyperX
enthusiast products been around,
and can you talk about the impetus for
launching the brand?
ML
Kingston Technology, which has
been in business for around 25
years, launched its frst HyperX enthusiast
product almost 10 years ago, when we
released a 256MB 333MHz DDR1
HyperX Genesis memory module on
November 13, 2002.
Why’d we do it? It just made sense.
At the ti me, we were al ready the
world’s largest third-party memory
manufacturer, and while working with
leading motherboard partners we became
increasingly aware that the high-end
consumer, gamer, and enthusiast was
being underserved with their own line of
high-performance products.
Q
Kingston recently launched its 3K
HyperX SSDs. How do these newer
drives compare with the original HyperX
SSDs, and what kind of user did Kingston
have in mind when creating them?
ML
The HyperX 3K SSD is essen-
tially a cost-down version of
the original HyperX SSD released last
summer, while maintaining the exact
same performance specifications. The
only difference (aside from the lower
price and the aesthetics) would be the
usage of 3,000 program/erase cycle
NAND. While the 3K has a lower
endurance rating than the 5,000 P/E
cycle NAND used in its predecessor, it
still has plenty of endurance
f or t he t ypi cal us er. The
difference between Kingston
and some of our competitors is that we
give our consumers the choice to pick
which is best for their workloads.
Q
When PC enthusiasts think about
Kingston, lots of them probably
immediately think of HyperX. But we
remember that a few years ago, Kingston’s
SSDNow drives were among the frst on
the market to provide consumers with
afordable solid-state boot drives. How has
the SSDNow line evolved since then?
ML
SSDNow is still very much en-
trenched in providing value and
performance SSDs to mainstream consumers
and business professionals. What have
evolved are our component relationships,
especially in regards to our afliation with
LSI SandForce. Tis controller technology
afforded us the opportunity to release
industry-leading, enthusiast-grade SSDs.
When we launched our enthusiast line of
SSDs, it only seemed appropriate to launch
them under the HyperX brand.
Q
We’ve seen a lot of changes for
memory support among Intel chipsets
over the last few years, from dual-channel
to triple-channel to quad-channel, and
now it looks like we’re headed back to
dual-channel for Ivy Bridge. Do these
changes present a challenge for companies
like Kingston, and what do you have
planned (or released) for folks looking to
build Ivy Bridge systems?
110 June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com

JUNE 2012

|

VOL 12 ISSUE 06

58

Increase Your Pixel Proficiency Video Card Buyer’s Guide

72

The Professionals Gaming PC Buyer’s Guide
Copyright 2012 by Sandhills Publishing Company. CPU Computer Power User is a registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Computer Power User is strictly prohibited without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 (ISSN 1536-7568) CPU Computer Power User USPS 020-801 is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 West Grand Drive, P Box 85673, Lincoln, NE 68501. Subscriber Services: (800) 733-3809. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE and .O. additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Computer Power User, P Box 82545, Lincoln, NE 68501. .O.

Did you find the hidden CPU logo on our cover? Turn the page to find the answer.

JUNE 2012 Frontside 8 16 What’s Happening Digital Economy | VOL 12 ISSUE 06 Heavy Gear 17 23 24 25 26 28 29 30 32 33 34 36 37 38 Panther Point Meets Ivy Bridge A Bevy Of Z77 Motherboards. Raced & Paced Intel Core i7-3770K AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600 ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme III Aerocool Shark Fan Evil Green Edition Plextor M3 Pro 128GB Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger Featured On The Cover: Intel 3rd Generation Core Processors Patriot Memory Wildfire 480GB Patriot Memory PBO Alpine Deepcool By Logisys Gamer Storm Enermax DreamBass Genie AP001 TRENDnet TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus 24 26 28 33 38 AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600 Aerocool Shark Fan Evil Green Edition Hard Hat Area PC MODDER 40 Mad Reader Mod Station 6 44 Advanced Q&A Corner 48 X-ray Vision: Powerful Power Supply LEPA Takes Top Wattage Crown With Release Of G1600 51 White Paper: Intel’s Ivy Bridge Meet The Tick That Thinks It’s A Tock Plextor M3 Pro 128GB Patriot Memory PBO Alpine ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus .

.

(CST) Online Customer Service & Subscription Center www.com Advertising Staff Toll Free: (800) 247-4880 Fax: (402) 479-2104 131 W. NE 68521 . Box 85673 Lincoln. .: 8 a. NE 68501-9507 General inquiries Computer Power User P.JUNE 2012 Loading Zone 84 The Bleeding Edge Of Software Inside The World Of Betas 86 Up To Speed Upgrades That’ll Keep You Humming Along 87 Microsoft Windows Store We Get Up Close & Personal 92 Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 93 Innovative Solutions Advanced Uninstaller Pro 10 Empty Loop Unlocker 94 Software Tips & Projects Own Your Data | VOL 12 ISSUE 06 Digital Living 96 At Your Leisure PC & Console Games & Gear What’s Cooking 102 Technically Speaking An Interview With OWC’s Larry O’Connor 105 Under Development A Peek At What’s Brewing In The Laboratory 92 96 Gotcha. Grand Drive Lincoln. to 6 p.) customer-service@cpumag.m. Box 82545 Lincoln.O.cpumag. Back Door 110 Q&A With Mark Leathem Kingston’s VP Of Corporate Marketing On HyperX Infinite Loops Strange stats and other oddball items from computing’s periphery 95 Customer Service (For questions about your subscription or to place an order or change an address.) webhelp@cpumag.m.com Web Services (For questions about our Web site.com (800) 733-3809 Authorization For Reprints Toll Free: (800) 247-4880 Fax: (402) 479-2104 Editorial Staff editor@cpumag. NE 68521 Subscription Renewals Toll Free: (800) 733-3809 Fax: (402) 479-2193 www. Here it is.O. NE 68501-9507 Hours Mon.com Toll Free: (800) 733-3809 Fax: (402) 479-2193 To make a payment Computer Power User P.cpumag.Fri. Grand Drive Lincoln.com Fax: (402) 479-2104 131 W.

.

99 $109.PNY Launches The XLR8 GeForce GTX 680 Carbon Nanotubes Continue To Amaze To paraphrase Ronald Joseph Aaron Burgundy. and so on. Single GPU 3D Vision Surround.99 $109.99 $189. “A transistor that doesn’t dissipate energy within itself as heat.99 $299.” which occurs when electric current running through a metal wire causes electrons to bounce off of the atoms that make up the wire. which is why you need a CPU cooler for your PC to run.99 $119. and researchers at the University of Maryland recently found another reason why.com. the transistors that make up current CPUs are limited by how much heat they generate.99 $139.99 $1.99 $324.99 $224. a 28nm Kepler card that includes features such as GPU Boost (dynamic clock speed optimization).99 $189.99 $319.99 $109.99 $129. so you can hook your new 680 up to a monitor or an HDTV for 1080p gaming right out of the box. could be a gamechanger.99 $109.99 8 June 2012 / www.99 $299.99 $1.99 $339.99 $149. But Kamal Baloch and John Cumings of the U of M’s A. which you can extend to a Limited Lifetime Warranty by registering your card within 90 days of purchase at PNY.99 $109.99 $209. like the nanotubes in our experiment.99 $309.computerpoweruser. causing the silicon nitride substrate beneath to heat up instead. This heat is the result of a phenomenon known as “Joule heating.99 $209.99 $127. possibly via electrical fields generated by the electrons travelling through the nanotubes. James Clark School of Engineering have discovered that although carbon nanotubes conduct electricity like nanoscale metal wires.99 $599.99 $319. * As of April 2012 ** Manufacturer’s estimated price per 1.99 $1.99 $139. The research duo calls this “remote Joule heating” and suggests that it could change the way we think about building computers.99 $219.99 $229. “This new mechanism of thermal transport would allow you to engineer your thermal conductor and electrical conductor separately.029.” Baloch says.000 CPU AMD FX-8150 Black Edition Eight-Core AMD FX-8120 Black Edition Eight-Core AMD FX-6100 Black Edition Six-Core AMD A8-3870K Black Edition Quad-Core AMD A8-3850 Quad-Core AMD A6-3670K Black Edition Quad-Core AMD A6-3650 Quad-Core AMD FX-4100 Quad-Core Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition Intel Core i7-3930K Intel Core i7-2700K Intel Core i7-2600K Intel Core i7-2600 Intel Core i7-3820 Intel Core i5-2550K Intel Core i5-2500K Intel Core i5-2500 Intel Core i3-2130 Intel Core i3-2120 Released 10/12/2011 10/12/2011 10/12/2011 12/20/2011 7/3/2011 12/20/2011 7/3/2011 10/12/2011 11/14/2011 2/14/2011 11/14/2011 10/24/2011 1/9/2011 1/9/2011 2/13/2012 2/8/2012 1/9/2011 1/9/2011 9/4/2011 2/20/2011 Original Price $245** $205** $165** $135** $135** $115** $115** $115** $990** $999** $555** $332** $317** $294** $285** $225** $216** $205** $138** $138** Last Month’s Price $249.” ■ WATCHING THE CHIPS FALL PNY’s XLR8-branded graphics card and memory products generally need no introduction.99 $119. As you know. the XLR8 GeForce GTX 680 comes with free 24-hour tech support and PNY’s standard one-year warranty. Many believe these amazing bits of nanoscale tech hold the keys to future advancements in several scientific areas.99 $1. Adaptive Vertical Sync Mode (seamless behind-the-scenes vsync adjustment).049.99 $599. they do not manifest Joule heating.029. but PNY’s latest piece of XLR8 gear is based on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 680.99 $149. carbon nanotubes are kind of a big deal.99 $127.com . Like all of PNY’s XLR8 cards.99 $149.99 $149. These vibrations create heat. The nanotubes in their experiments stayed cool.99 Online Retail Price* $239. The XLR8 680 also comes with a very handy accessory: a PNY 16-foot Smart Active High Speed HDMI Cable. choosing the best properties for each without requiring the two to be the same material occupying the same region of space.99 $229.99 $339. ■ Here is the pricing information for various AMD and Intel CPUs.039.

The C70 is a midtower that Corsair designed especially for gamers who occasionally (or frequently. ■ Put The Ninja Cloud To Work For You Lots of interesting projects have hit their funding goals and become reality thanks to the Kickstarter microfunding site. the R7770 Power Edition 1GD5/OC. room for long graphics cards. and room enough for two 240mm radiators. For example. and the Ninja Block’s easy-to-use web browser interface and powerful open-source software will do the rest. Now there’s a new member of the family: the Vengeance C70 gaming PC case. keyboards. Using Afterburner’s Triple Overvoltage setting. the phrase “Power Edition” is a recurring theme here.com). Either way. Corsair built it for maximum airflow (it comes with three 120mm fans and has mounts for a total of 10 fans altogether). No pricing info was available at press time. the C70 has eight expansion slots (quad GPUs. ■ CPU / June 2012 9 . which lets you add a second fan to the card’s standard single Propeller Blade fan for increased airflow and lower temperatures. A standard Ninja Block comes with an Ethernet port and built-in accelerometer and thermometer. You can get the C70 in one of three colors (Arctic White. thereby making your Ninja Block exponentially more useful. Or. which runs fans backward for 30 seconds on boot up to clear dust from the fan blades. while the R7770 and R7750 are the first cards to feature MSI’s TransThermal design. you can start dreaming up tasks for your Ninja Block to solve right out of the box. the new MSI Radeons will provide up to 45% boosts to performance. Want to know when people from your Friends List are on Xbox Live or Steam? A Ninja Block can detect such status reports and let you know. tool-less drive bays that you can pull out if you want. or readjusting hardware. The R7850 Power Edition incorporates a custom Twin Frozr IV cooler. the company’s site says. humidity. and its side panels are equipped with quick-release latches for easy access when adding. and headsets. web-connected devices that contain an assortment of sensors and take simple commands from you to carry out very specific functions. Speaking of hardware. you can order such extras as a webcam. which meet MIL-STD810G military specs. All three cards boast MSI’s Military Class III components. and motion on the site.Corsair Adds Cases To Its Vengeance Line Corsair’s Vengeance line of gaming products started with Vengeance memory kits and then expanded to include Vengeance-brand mice. you can have it send a notification to your phone when your UPS or FedEx guy leaves a package at your door. ■ MSI Unveils Trio Of Power Edition Radeon Cards MSI recently announced that it had three new additions to its Radeon HD video card line: the R7850 Power Edition 2GD5/ OC.99. Gunmetal Black. you can tell your Ninja Block to take a picture of your front lawn and save it to Dropbox when it detects movement there. and Military Green) at an MSRP of $139. The cards also come with advanced cooling features such as MSI’s Dust Removal Technology. and the R7750 Power Edition 1GD5/OC. distance. anyone?). and one of the coolest gadgets we’ve seen is the Ninja Block (ninjablocks. As you probably noticed. swapping. WiFi. as the case may be) haul their PCs to LAN parties and the like: Its steel construction and built-in carry handles mean you can move it easily and without worrying for the safety of your expensive components. Ninja Blocks are tiny. these cards are all equipped to handle considerable overclocking via MSI’s Afterburner performance app. and sensors for light.

but a quick look under the hood shows that appearances can be deceiving. It also provides similar customization options via the programmable multicolor LED inside the case and behind the scroll wheel. has an MSRP of $39. each with a different color of mesh running along the front panel’s bezel—this comes in white. a PSU mount with vibration-dampening rubber pads and a removable dust filter. or other problems. Powerline connections are a godsend for lots of people for whom Wi-Fi just won’t get it done thanks to too much neighborhood interference. The TPL405E is backed by TRENDnet’s limited three-year warranty. The adaptor is. always on. Where the original Sentinel Advance maxed out at 5600dpi (which is nothing to sneeze at). mounts for as many as seven fans (one 120mm rear fan is included). and is especially adept at enabling high-speed video streaming throughout your domicile. and the eight programmable buttons can provide functionality of up to nine more virtual buttons using various combinations. ■ Cooler Master Adds New & Improved Sentinel To Its CM Storm Line The latest CM Storm mouse from Cooler Master may look similar to the Sentinel Advance. and at blistering speeds. and (if you remove the upper of two hard drive cages) more than 16 inches of horizontal clearance for high-end graphics cards. and comes in four variants. red. but the company’s newest midtower.com . black. structural issues. It comes equipped with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and LED displays that provide activity and troubleshooting information. ■ 10 June 2012 / www. The case has a nice flat black finish that extends throughout its interior. And now TRENDnet has launched a Powerline adapter with a top end speed of 500Mbps.computerpoweruser.99 and comes with internal USB 3. up to 174mm clearance for a CPU cooler.TRENDnet Is In Ur Electrics TRENDnet has been banging the gong for Powerline networking for many years now.200dpi.) The Sentinel Advance II also weighs a hair less than its predecessor at just under a third of a pound. The mouse’s onboard Sentinel-X 128KB memory lets you store your profiles and macros. the OSTROG 3250. the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II is equipped with the newest Avago sensor available (the ADNS9800) and can track from 200 to 8. ■ Ha rdware Mol e Enermax OSTROG The Most Case Ever For Under 40 Bucks? We’re not sure as of yet. The TPL-405E has an MSRP of $109. (You can adjust resolution on the fly in 200dpi increments as needed. tool-less drive bays. of course.99. but it has a power-saving mode that lets it lower power use by as much as 70% when not in use. or blue.5g removable weights.0 header support. this bad boy will deliver your packets anywhere in your house where there’s an outlet. but includes the same weight fine-tuning options via its five 4. and with good reason. and support for ATX and Micro ATX boards. The OSTROG 3250 also comes with a CPU cutout and cable management features built into its motherboard tray.

.

designed to run on “PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32.com to see whether you have the current version.99 Digital Deluxe Edition. which includes all of the Digital Deluxe Edition stuff plus a 10-inch Rytlock figurine. so if you’re ever unsure about the validity of a prompt to update. That’s why the Flash Player update dialogs are a perfect tool for social engineers to exploit so they can load up your machine with malware.guildwars2. (No word at press time on pricing or availability. and network management.) That’s why one of the coolest perks tied to a pre-purchase of NCSoft’s upcoming Guild Wars 2. a nice change from previous releases that included as many as six. disallow the update and visit Adobe. and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most people do this almost reflexively. such as encryption. That’s right. The recent spate of Flashback infections on Macs should serve as a reminder to PC and Mac users alike that it’s best to view such update reminders with a critical eye. which is a download of the standard game. and so on. ■ 12 June 2012 / www. . xXLegolas24Xx. handy Flash Player plug-in without even stopping to glance at them. If not. virtualization. is a three-day head start. as happened to many folks back in 2008. which in turn means that you have a much better chance to stake your claim to the character and guild names that you fancy than if you wait and take your chances post-launch.and 64-bit) . We’ve done it plenty of times. Adobe’s site offers direct downloads of the most current version of Flash Player. or WOA) will not be a retail package but will be preinstalled on ARM-based devices and will include special “touch-optimized” versions of the key Office apps. Acrobat Reader. which includes a number of in-game bonuses. the $79. you get to jump into the GW2 world three full days ahead of the general. LeBlanc wrote. aside from access to all beta weekend events (starting on April 10 and running up to the launch in June). Malware & You If you’ve gotten to the point where you click through the frequent dialogs prompting you to update Adobe’s ubiquitous. non-preordering public.Windows 8 To Come In Just Four Versions Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc posted on his Windows blog on April 16 that Windows 8 will come in four versions. The pre-purchase program includes three options: the $59. ■ Software S h ort s NCSoft Offering Early Guild Wars 2 Access With Pre-purchase Anyone who’s ever been involved with an MMO knows that one of the biggest challenges can be coming up with cool character and guild names that haven’t been taken. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.99 Digital Edition.99 Collector’s Edition. especially if they appear just as you’re clicking a tantalizing link from your favorite social networking site. and a Best of Guild Wars 2 soundtrack CD.) ■ Flash Player Updates. will be the primary consumer versions of the OS.” Pro will improve on the vanilla offering by adding enhanced features for enthusiasts and business and tech professionals. Oh yeah—LeBlanc also officially confirmed that “Windows 8” will be the new OS’ name. and the $149.com . . (We’re looking at you. Windows RT (aka Windows on ARM. if you purchase the game now at buy. Windows 8 Pro. Windows Enterprise will be Win8 Pro plus additional IT management and security features. you’re not alone. Windows RT. download it from the source.computerpoweruser. five prints and an art portfolio along with a custom art frame. and Windows 8 Enterprise. These will include Windows 8.com or a participating retailer. Windows 8 Pro will also come with an “economical” option to add Windows Media Center.

household income. Pew found that senior citizens. In many cases. and those files are instantly available and up-to-date.) ■ Site S e e i n g Surf TV On Boxfish We’ve all grown accustomed to amazing web search technology that can help us find mentions of people. ■ and up). appropriate references. you can pony up $2. As with any online storage service. like race. (For some perspective. and respondents from households with less than $30. Chicago Cubs World Series victories. Now you’re wondering why you never thought of this.99 per month for 1TB. and other factors were pretty solid predictors of a survey respondent’s likely Internet use. You’re probably thinking. education. survey respondents who preferred to take the survey in Spanish rather than English. and things. $4.com). mainstream topics like Brangelina to more obscure things like. it’s quite simple. including the network and show where the reference has occurred. adults with less than a high school education. Age. or $49.49 per month and bump your Drive real estate up to 25GB. race.boxfish. Half of those surveyed who indicated they don’t use the Internet said they weren’t interested because they didn’t think the Internet was relevant to them. and we have no answer for that. Pew found that limited access was less of an issue than perceived relevance. Boxfish grabs close captioning streams from all over TV land and scans it for your search. “What manner of devilry is this?” Actually. you might be interested to know that Google launched its new Google Drive service just a few days before this issue went to press. You can enter a search word or phrase on Boxfish and it will quickly retrieve a list of current. however. it’s important to note that the majority of those respondents also told Pew that they had never used the Internet. Google gives you 5GB of storage space gratis. Some of those factors are still in play.99 per month for 100GB. from weighty. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a similar search engine for TV so you could find references to specific things and people in real time? That’s what the folks behind the Boxfish beta site thought (beta. ■ CPU / June 2012 13 .260 U.000 annual incomes were the least likely to have Internet access. you know. adults (age 18 Google Drive Takes A Bow Have you ever used Google Docs or Picasa to store your stuff in “the cloud”? Have you ever used an online file storage/ sharing/synchronization service like Dropbox? If you said yes to either or both of these questions.S. In a survey of 2. and now there is. have become less effective as predictors. just drag and drop your files into the Google Drive folder created when you install the client. Google Drive makes it easy to access your files from any Internetconnected device. it’s a good idea to check the terms of service before you sign up so you’ll know what sort of files you feel comfortable storing there. For those of you who require more. and at the time the organization found that there were several factors that clearly correlated with whether people were online. but then most really good ideas are. although some.One In Five Adults Not Online The Pew Internet & American Life Project began tracking Internet usage statistics in 2000. places.

.

.

Excelsior! 21% (Pew Internet & American Life Project) (comScore) Percent of Americans who have read an e-book in the last year bit. And you should know what it means to make digital services millions of people use each month.9% Number of U.1% E-Book Reading Escalates Sharply in Two Years The proliferation of dedicated e-ink book readers and now multipurpose tablets has had a profound effect on reading habits.2% I do not use a social network Quit/withdraw my application and find a different job Hand them over – I need the job Edit my social media profiles first. Comic book shops are an endangered species. Yup. Marvel recently introduced comics that trigger augmented-reality enhancements on smartphones and apps that animate the comics narrative. then hand over my passwords Delete my social media pages 66% (Constant Contact) Percent of people under age 30 who access their email on mobile phones 55 (CNBC) 14% 23% 40.500 survey panelists how they would react. 84% of those who had read a book “yesterday” when asked are using print books while 15% are using an e-book.5% 9% 14% 16.computerpoweruser.Job Of The Month The comics industry is in peril. about 88% of tablet owners report using their devices while watching TV in the last month.com . while 86% of smartphone owners say they are consulting the “second screen” during TV time. What Would You Do? Following reports that some prospective employers were asking applicants for access to their social profiles.3% Percent of mobile customers playing mobile games Turning On The Second Screen According to a recent survey conducted by Nielsen. American Pulse asked more than 3. 16 June 2012 / www. Print sales have been in decline for years. As of late 2011. the print experience may be on the wane.ly/IxfpvJ 32.2% 10. Are you the digital superhero who can help the industry migrate to a new age of apps.S households that own at least one Apple product MILLION 13% 10. tablet and smartphone editions. you will need five years of experience with web services like SOAP and with the PHP and LAMP environments. and interactive comics before it’s too late? Marvel Entertainment (yes. but mobs of fan boys are flocking to new digital experiences. 22. To do your part in making a post-print future for comics. You will be working with the guys who make the comics and who generate new generations of apps. the company behind “The Avengers”) needs a Web Application Developer who can help it craft web and mobile experiences from its many comics and character franchises. up from 95% using print and only 4% on e-books in June 2010. according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study. Frequency Several Times A Day Once a Day Several Times A Week Several Times A Month Once a Month Or Less Never Tablets 26% 19% 24% 13% 7% 12% Smartphones 27% If An Employer Asked You For Your Social Media Passwords.

The stock Z77 configuration features two 6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps SATA ports. Panther Point also provides you with built-in USB 3.0 interface rather than the Z68’s PCI-E 2. When you wake the system.600MHz. naturally.intel. and cloud services) while the system is asleep.3 profiles for a quick way to bring the RAM up to its rated performance. which wasn’t found on the Z68 chipset. from HD Graphics 3000. include standard support for Intel’s Rapid Start and Smart Connect technologies. Key technology upgrades in the Z77 chipset. most vendors also added a couple extra 6Gbps SATA connectors. and a triple-GPU system will split one of those x8 connections to two x4 connections. features an Intel LGA1155 socket and provides support for both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. In terms of memory. Intel indicates that the snapshot will let you return to work after only five seconds. DZ77GA-70K $240 | Intel www.Panther Point Meets Ivy Bridge A Bevy Of Z77 Motherboards. 3rd Generation Intel Core i7/i5 processors can utilize Intel new XMP 1. Of course. Rapid Start is a feature that captures a snapshot of your PC’s open apps and saves the data to an SSD (or flash memory). Dual-GPU setups will split into two x8 PCI-E lanes.0 ports. with 16 PCI-E 3. Like its Z68 predecssor. In our roundup. A step up. Raced & Paced T he Z77 chipset is Intel’s update of the Z68 platform. to give you more ways to connect USB 3. and it operates dualchannel configurations.0 graphics lanes. Intel updated the Z77 to use a PCI-E 3. the Z77 chipset allows for CPU overclocking and supports Intel Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading. In our roundup. Here again. CPU / June 2012 17 . we found that most vendors opted to install third-party USB 3. Smart Connect is somewhat similar in that it can update web-based content (including email. social media. the Z77 also supports the new HD Graphics 4000 found in several of Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs. this latest on-chip GPU operates at a maximum frequency of 1. Intel also indicates that its 3rd Generation processors support the spanning of your Windows Desktop across up to three displays. standard Z77 chipsets will support DDR3 modules up to 1.0 connectivity.com Architecture Upgrades The Z77 chipset. which allows you to suspend the computer at nearly zero power. rather than the quad-channel setup found in Intel’s X79 chipset. so the target audience includes both mainstream users and performance enthusiasts. Overall. Z77 natively offers four USB 3.0 ports. nearly all vendors added LucidLogix Virtu MVP Technology. we’ll examine the different additions that each vendor has provided to enhance the Z77 chipset. compared to its Z68 predecessor. code-named Panther Point.0 interface. Dedicated graphics capabilities are the same as Z68. For instance.350MHz and supports DirectX 11. the Z77 chipset offers a number of incremental upgrades and a few new features. meaning everything’s current when you resume your system. which make it a good choice for those who want a motherboard to take full advantage of their Ivy Bridge processor. as well as front-panel headers.0 ports and 10 USB 2.0 devices.

including a Bluetooth receiver. GIGABYTE lays out the board with overclockers in mind.0 headers.0 header. and memory. We’ll note that if you choose to add a mini PCI-E SSD to the mSATA port.which essentially utilizes the processor’s integrated GPU to remove redundant rendering from your dedicated GPU. and a 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300—all of which were housed in Corsair’s Graphite Series 600T. and one PCI-E 2. We’ll note that the 6Gbps eSATA port was a rarity among the boards we tested. you’ll find a USB 3.0 headers. anyway. there are fewer video outputs (only an HDMI port). which is designed to deliver precise levels of power to your CPU. VTT.0 front-panel module. GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H With the GA-Z77X-UD3H. a FireWire header. The four 3Gbps SATA ports are sandwiched between the 6Gbps SATA ports. The rear I/O panel of the GAZ77X-UD3H provides you with six USB 3. so you’ll have a number of fast transfer options. and the top two provide you with 6Gbps speeds. and one 6Gbps eSATA port. To handle your SATA devices. but we suspect most DZ77GA-70K buyers will plan on investing in a dedicated graphics card.Skill Ripjaws memory (DDR3-1600MHz). Intel also has introduced a new version of its Visual BIOS that is designed to let you more quickly configure speeds for your processor. there are plenty of ways to get it to your surround-sound system. There are six SATA ports.0 ports. and graphics. The GAZ77X-UD3H supports 7. S/PDIF.0 ports and two 6Gbps eSATA ports.7 0 K ’s r e a r I / O panel provides you with four USB 3. and onboard power and reset buttons provide you with quick power 18 June 2012 / www. which can store cryptography keys.1-channel surround sound. 16GB of G. Intel DZ77GA-70K This is Intel’s newest Extreme Series motherboard. GIGABYTE also indicates that the GAZ77X-UD3H offers a completely digital PWM controller. and VGA. and an S/PDIF header. Our test system consisted of an Intel Core i73770K processor. Thermaltake’s Frio CPU cooler. and DisplayPort connections. Onboard voltage read points let you see real-time power readings.us that use the PCI-E x1 or PCI slots. memory. two ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580s. and a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) header. As always. because you’ll have room to install them around the graphics cards. Compared to other Z77 boards. Speaking of graphics. which are well-spaced a ro u n d t h e m o t h e r b o a rd .0 x4 slot found at the bottom of the board.com . For internal headers.0 ports.computerpoweruser. processor graphics. two legacy PCI slots (located above and below the second PCI-E x16 slot). and with built-in HDMI. we put the various Z77 motherboard through our collection of rigorous benchmarks.0 x1 slots (located above and below the top PCI-E x16 slot). T h e D Z 7 7 G A . the DZ77GA-70K provides you with four 6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps SATA ports. In t e l’s benchmarks were similar to all of the others in our roundup.0 ports. the DZ77GA70K offers two PCI-E 3. There are two USB 3.0 headers. four USB 2.99 GIGABYTE www. three USB 2. The digital controller array also works with GIGABTYE’s 3D Power Utility that gives you control over things like OVP (overvoltage protection) and PWM frequencies. Wi-Fi adapter. The DZ77GA-70K includes all kinds of extra goodies. Another helpful feature are the two fast charging (yellow ports) USB 2. two USB 2. With the DZ77GA-70K.0 x16 slots. Intel also offers a variety of I/O headers along the bottom of the motherboard. the board will shut off the 3Gbps port 5. The spacing of the slots makes it convenient for those with add-in cards GA-Z77X-UD3H $169. GIGABYTE includes an mSATA slot where you can install a low-capacity SSD that can work with Intel’s Smart Response and Intel’s Rapid Start technologies to improve your PC’s responsiveness. and USB 3.gigabyte. which is perfect for connecting and charging peripherals such as a smartphone or tablet. DVI. but what really sets this board apart is the well thought-out design and variety of extra features and I/O options provided. Video outputs for the processor graphics include HDMI. DisplayPort. Another thing we like about the design of Intel’s DZ77GA-70K are the four fan power connectors. You’ll also find two PCI-E 2.

.

and a DrMOS alarm that will turn red when the motherboard is about to overheat. There’s also a voice control module header that you can use with the optional MSI Voice Genie for voice commands to boot up your PC. and support for RAM speeds up to 2. especially the inclusion of the mSATA port. three PCI-E x16 slots (which run at x8/x4/x4 speeds when all filled). The GA-Z77X-UD3H posted the highest marks in SiSoftware Sandra 2012’s Processor Arithmetic and Processor Multimedia tests.0 headers. Those who want a convenient way to utilize Intel’s Smart Response and Rapid Start technologies should definitely check out this motherboard.7. The Z77A-GD65 is a wise choice for builders who plan on using their PC as an entertainment center. as it offers both coaxial and optical S/PDIF. MSI provides you with a multi-BIOS switch that allows you to shift from one BIOS to another prior to boot-up. Cinebench 11. MSI Z77A-GD65 MSI’s newest Z77-based motherboard.0 ports. a USB 3. and a TMP Module header. including Lucid’s Virtu MVP and THX TruStudio PRO. An LED display shows you debug codes when something goes wrong. like many of MSI’s boards. the Z77A-GD65 offers you three USB 2. with its voltage checkpoints. BIOSTAR also offers you two standard PCI slots for compatibility with legacy 20 June 2012 / www. including 3DMark 11.computerpoweruser. as well as other functions. On the rear I/O panel of the Z77A-GD65. as well as audio outputs for coaxial S/PDIF.800MHz. MSI exclusives include OC Genie II (to access overclocking settings in Windows). MSI provides you with lots of bundled software. and analog ports—all of which support up to 7. The third PCI-E x16 slot is located at the bottom of the motherboard and maxes out at x4. The rest of the scores were all in line with the rest of the motherboards in the roundup. PCMark 7. Other key features of the Z77X-UD3H include support for Lucid’s Virtu GPU virtualization technology. MSI M-Flash (lets you save BIOS data to a USB flash drive). MSI Super Charger (lets you boost power to USB ports for quick charging of tablets and smartphones). Internally. is built using MSI’s Military Class III components for the capacitors and chokes.1-channel surround sound.0 header. and the platform controller hub. and a PCI-E x4 connection (using an x16 physical slot) at the bottom of the board. MSI has installed voltage checkpoints where you can measure system voltages for the CPU. There are LED status indicators for the CPU power phases. and POV-Ray Beta 3.99 | BIOSTAR www.com . MSI’s benchmark results were similar to the rest of the competition.99 | MSI www. as well as an HDMI output.Z77A-GD65 $189.5.biostar-usa.666MHz and Intel XMP memory profiles. and 3TB+ Infinity (support for 3TB hard drives). and eight SATA connectors (four 6Gbps and four 3Gbps). Performance enthusiasts will also like that the GA-Z77X-UD3H supports DDR3 memory up to 2. and the top two will run at x8 with graphics cards installed in both.0 ports and four USB 2. It’s also a good option for overclockers. status indicators. You can also update each BIOS independently. BIOSTAR TZ77XE4 BIOSTAR’s TZ77XE4 offers three PCI-E x16 slots. Just a few highlights found on the Z77A-GD65 include support for up to 32GB of DDR3-2800. but we’ll note that they had the second highest marks in several tests. a LAN optimizer software app to prioritize network traffic. optical S/PDIF. Overclockers’ needs are also covered with the Z77A-GD65.com TZ77XE4 $169.msi. memory. Overall. we like the board layout of the GA-Z77X-UD3H.com controls. MSI indicates that all Military Class III components have passed the MIL-STD-810G certification. you’ll have access to two USB 3. Along the right side of the board.

ECS provides support for 32GB of DDR3 memory that can be clocked up to 2. and a variety of different slots for add-in cards. the Pro Dialog Plus feature that helps enhance the voices in movies so you can hear them over the soundtrack. CPU / June 2012 21 .0 and two USB 2. movies. It’s a good choice for enthusiasts who want a board that provides them with lots of different options for their component choices. and HDMI ports. as well as a blanking plate for the rear panel if you don’t have space on your case’s front panel. Those planning on utilizing the CPU’s built-in graphics will like that the TZ77XE4 includes outputs for HDMI. B I O S TA R p r ov i d e s a n u m b e r of software and hardware features to improve your media playback and gameplay. DisplayPort. The Z77H2-A2X offers several options for add-in cards. In our benchmarks. the ECS Z77H2A2X was able to post the highest scores in SiSoftware Sandra’s Memory Bandwidth test. Rear exhaust fans with short cords may not reach this location. four USB 2. and a 3Gbps eSATA port. DVI. Below the SATA ports. and reset. BIOSTAR includes LucidLogix Virtu MVP Technology and THX TruStudio PRO. This board is part of ECS’s Golden Edition Extreme. two standard PCI slots. and a mini PCI-E x1 slot. and PCI-E slots. The TZ77XE4’s scores were in line with the rest of the motherboards in our roundup. you’ll find a BIOS POST Code indicator and onboard buttons for clear CMOS. For example. We think the gold accents are all tastefully done. BIOSTAR has added one USB 3. while the USB 2.0 headers. We also like that the TZ77XE4 supports RAM speeds up to 2. which support two cards running at x8 speeds. especially in contrast with the black PCB.800MHz.com add-in cards. you’ll find both a front panel audio header and a S/PDIF output header. there are two PCI-E 3. Overall. so it can handle high-performance memory overclocks.0 ports. In terms of video outputs. For extra audio connectivity. SATA ports 1 through 6 support RAID 0/1/5/10 and Intel’s Smart Response Technology. as well as a golden PCH and VRM heatsink. ECS also includes lots of other bells and whistles with the Z77H2-A2X. LucidLogix’s Virtu MVP lets the motherboard utilize the power of Intel’s integrated graphics with a discrete video card. memory slots. and VGA.0 ports. To connect your SATA devices. and the TZ77XE4 includes a USB front-panel bay. power.ecsusa. Board layout is fairly standard. All the SATA outputs are oriented with the connectors facing to the right side of the motherboard.0 header. Starting at the rear I/O ports. so you won’t need to install wireless add-in cards to your system for wireless access. there are VGA.11b/g/n). we like the gold accents and like that ECS was able to include Wi-Fi. Bluetooth. with the exception of the second system fan connector that’s found along the bottom of the motherboard near USB headers. In terms of extra USB connectivity.0 header can provide power and connectivity to two more USB 2. There are four 6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps SATA ports. You’ll also find two PCI-E 2. DVI. and games.1+EDR) and Wi-Fi (802. We’ll note that it did notch the highest overall scores in both 3DMark 11 and PCMark 7. The Z77H2-A2X offers four rear USB 3. You can add an additional two USB 3. which includes gold plating on the CPU pins.0 x16 slots. and all of the other tests were within a few points of the rest of the group. BIOSTAR’s support for high-performance memory speeds make this board a good option for enthusiasts looking for an affordable Z77 board that can handle demanding memory specifications.600MHz. the Z77H2-A2X is the motherboard for you.0 ports.0 ports through the front panel/rear panel USB 3. For graphics cards.Z77H2-A2X $220 | ECS www. Motherboard cooling is provided through ECS’s Qooltech IV—three copper heatpipes that pull heat away from the chipset. ECS Z77H2-A2X If you want to add a touch of gold styling to your PC. so you shouldn’t have to mess around with an adapter to connect this motherboard to your monitor. you’ll find built-in Bluetooth (2.0 x1 slots. the latter of which allows you to control sound quality of your music. you’ll find six SATA ports—four 6Gbps and two 3Gbps. and would go nicely with some understated interior lightning.

37 20. and the vendors all offer slightly different feature sets that sets each apart.29 1313.4 92.48 222.16 1007 1000 7.38 20.99 11.24 311.43 34.3 21.32 1309.81 17.6 7.25 19.72 19.83 20.69 20.92 93.53 29.18 53.42 1336.92 16.93 53.5 CPU* POV-Ray 3. The motherboards in our roundup represent a good range of prices.29 19.57 18.39 29.6 121.5 121. RAM: 16GB G.7 53.63 174.44 174.25 19.37 1000 958 7.12 174.22 1019 1006 7.99 X4105 3795 9257 4647 19.560 x 1.7 121.600) Metro 2033 (4XAA/16XAF) Aliens vs.87 176.35 1020 994 19.04 38. ■ BY NATHAN LAKE Intel Benchmark Results Price 3DMark 11 Extreme Overall Graphics Score Physics Score Combined Score Graphics Test 1 Graphics Test 2 Graphics Test 3 Graphics Test 4 Physics Test Combined Test PCMark 7 Overall Productivity Creativity Entertainment Computation System Storage SiSoftware Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite Processor Arithmetic Dhrystone SSE4. but Intel has managed to include a number of new features that may make it worth upgrading for enthusiasts.16 20.58 18.65 53.49 18.66 5286 5291 5281 5210 5595 5104 BIOSTAR TZ77XE4 $169.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600.43 27. depending on the goal of your build.92 21.5 311. Storage: 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300 22 June 2012 / www.78 312.53 120.38 224.55 174.7 Beta** Games (2.32 1000 965 7. Predator (8XAA/16XAF) * points ** pixels per second 34.computerpoweruser.Z77 Overall The Z77 chipset doesn’t mark a huge change in performance.35 20.9 314.34 37. GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580 (2x.36 1325.98 11.1 5245 5239 5149 5158 5427 5126 X3986 3599 9292 4525 18.48 1340.83 11.45 5245 5353 5041 5179 5407 5069 MSI Z77A-GD65 $189.28 222 311.42 21.41 5242 4880 5069 5169 5368 4733 122 94.89 224.42 5294 5013 5218 5196 5538 4904 ECS Z77H2-A2X $220 X4078 3787 8163 4615 19.48 25. SLI).93 11.62 21.73 21.13 93.89 19.56 18.67 20 20.99 X4107 3798 9013 4605 19.6 Test system specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K.05 DZ77GA-70K $240 GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H $169.99 X4057 3750 8748 4611 18.88 53.com .94 11.26 222.2 (GIPS) Whetstone iSSE3 (GFLOPS) Processor Multi-Media x16 Multi-Media Integer iAVX (Mpixels per second) x16 Multi-Media Float iAVX (Mpixels per second) x8 Multi-Media Double iAVX (Mpixels per second) Memory Bandwidth Integer Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Floating Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Media Transcode Transcode WMV (KBps) Transcode H264 (KBps) Cinebench 11.58 28.11 93.25 37.

There’s also embedded support for DisplayPort and HDMI v1. Intel indicates that it has improved its Quick Sync Video performance by up to 60%.01 3. TDP: 77W. Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 Test System Specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K.314 2.85 4.5GHz (3. Predator (4XAF) Games tested at 1.5 CPU* POV-Ray 3. as well as an 8MB of Intel Smart Cache. For example.52 22.5 223.9GHz Max Turbo). OS Guard helps to prevent malware from gaining kernel-level access to your operating system.32 18. On the other hand. Intel Secure Key and Intel OS Guard. Of course.98 3. OS: Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit) NATHAN LAKE CPU / June 2012 23 . Intel indicates the Core i7-3770K will work on motherboards with Intel 7-Series chipsets and the following Intel 6-Series chipsets: Z68.63 19. with the biggest gains to be found in the gaming benchmarks. P67.1) and a maximum resolution of 2.44 1327.280 x 720. the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 supports DirectX 11 (HD Graphics 3000 only supports DX10.5GHz with a Turbo Boost speed of 3.63 4203 5138 6978 3145 8720 4621 Intel Core i7-3770K Benchmark Results 3DMark 11 Overall Graphics Score i7-3770K P765 649 7200 769 3. Builders planning a new system will want to pair the Core i7-3770K with a Z77 motherboard.32 2. Intel continues to add more technologies into the processor.Intel Core Intel Core i7-2600K P545 486 6700 590 2.4 108. We ran the Intel Core i7-3770K against Intel’s Core i7-2600K. Intel also added support for DDR3L. GPU: Intel HD Graphics 4000. the Core i7-3770K runs at 3.3 40.280 x 720 with the settings on low.9 85.intel.87 3.8 Specs: Socket: Intel LGA1155.2 (GIPS) Whetstone iSSE3 (GFLOPS) Processor Multi-Media x16 Multi-Media Integer iAVX (Mpixels per second) x16 Multi-Media Float iAVX (Mpixels per second) x8 Multi-Media Double iAVX (Mpixels per second) Memory Bandwidth Integer Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Floating Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Media Transcode Transcode WMV (KBps) Transcode H264 (KBps) Cinebench 11.04 18.58 4422 5348 7205 3353 8907 5019 T he new Core i7-3770K is Intel’s flagship processor for the Z77 chipset. At stock. and H61. those who’ve recently built a system based on one of Intel’s 6-Series motherboards will find that.7 Beta** Metro 2033 (4XAF) Aliens vs. H67.78 19.15 1.333MHz) and the improved Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics processor.7 18.4 33. Predator.com Entertainment Computation System Storage SiSoft Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite Processor Arithmetic Dhrystone SSE4. after a motherboard BIOS update.690 4.9GHz.12 174. HD Graphics 4000 processors can also span the Windows Desktop across up to three independent displays. the HD Graphics 4000 produced 40.600. but with only a 100MHz stock speed difference. As it runs on the Z77 chipset. Processor-intensive scores are similar between the two. The Core i73770K offers slight performance upgrades across the board.674 6. the Core i7-3770K’s Socket LGA1155 compatibility makes the processor a simple drop-in replacement. RAM: 16GB G.78 1.4 311.59 19. and as such includes of all of the new 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 processor features. there’s not much of a gap in terms of pure processing power.3fps in Metro 2033 at 1. *points **pixels per second core as our GPU.4a.4 93. the i7-3770K provides you with four cores with Hyper-Threading.86 25.560 x 1. ■ BY 121. As we saw with the 2nd Generation processors.86 3. which includes using the processor’s integrated graphics Physics Score Combined Score Graphics Test 1 Graphics Test 2 Graphics Test 3 Graphics Test 4 Physics Test Combined Test PCMark 7 Overall Productivity Creativity Core i7-3770K $313 | Intel www.58 3. Storage: 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300. Motherboard: Intel DZ77GA-70K. We were able to hit 25.290 7. Our SiSoftware Sandra’s Media Transcode results back up Intel’s claim for improvements to Quick Sync Video.9 204 277 157 . The Core i7-3770K also offers two built-in security technologies.Skill Ripjaws DDR31600. the “K” suffix on means you’ll have an unlocked multiplier at your disposal. 8MB Intel Smart Cache. Similar to the Core i7-2600K and 2700K.54 1162.7fps in Aliens vs. as we saw a nearly 60% increase. Clock speed: 3. There’s support for DDR3-1600 (2nd Generation Intel processors support a maximum 1. because you’ll have access to all of the processor and chipset’s new features. the Core i7-3770K is built for the LGA1155 socket. Secure Key is a hardwareassisted tool that helps you to create highly secure and long strings of random numbers for computing tasks that require security.76 2.

Unbuffered. and like Patriot’s modules. The 1. Motherboard: SAPPHIRE PURE Platinum Z77K. We’ll note that AMD’s memory is manufactured and supported by Patriot Memory. the 8GB A M D Pe r f o r m a n c e E d i t i o n kit produced a bandwidth of a 21.34 23.600MHz speed and low latency provides you with quick response times for memoryintensive tasks. Timings 8-9-8-24.5 nanoseconds in Sandra’s Memory Latency benchmark. Voltage: 1. The use of a low-profile heat spreader is also ideal for those who own wide.99 | AMD www.) The modules also can operate at DDR31333 with a voltage of 1.AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600 T his 8GB kit of AMD’s Performance Edition DDR3 memory runs at 1.com AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600 Benchmark Results SiSoft Sandra 2012 Lite Memory Bandwidth Integer B/F iAVX/128 (GBps) Float B/F iAVX/128 (GBps) Memory Latency 21. It also posted an impressive score of 23. We installed the kit in a system with SAPPHIRE’s PURE Platinum Z77K and Intel’s Core i7-3770K. Lifetime warranty System specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K.36 21. and the AMD Performance Edition logo graces the heat spreaders.com . there’s a black heat spreader that’s affixed to either side of the modules. Storage: 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300. With AMD’s Performance Edition lineup. Non-ECC.36GBps in the Integer B/F iAVX/128 test and 21. ■ BY NATHAN LAKE Performance Edition DDR3-1600 $54. the AMD Performance Edition DDR3 is backed by a lifetime warranty and is 100% hand-tested. In SiSoftware Sandra’s 2012 Lite Memory Bandwidth test.5ns Specs: Capacity: 8GB (2x 4GB).amd.5V and timings of 8-8-8 if you prefer your RAM to run at a lower voltage. OS: Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit) 24 June 2012 / www.600MHz with aggressive timings of 8-9-8.34GBps in the Float B/F iAVX/128 test. Those looking for an affordable 8GB kit can pair the Performance Edition kit with either their AMD or Intel setup. GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580.computerpoweruser. (AMD memory can operate on both Intel and AMD memory platforms. tall CPU heatsinks.65V. because it’s more likely the memory modules won’t present an clearance issues.

The GeForce GTX 580’s cooler. is a one-size-fits-plenty cooler that claims to be able to lower your temperatures and do so while running significantly quieter than stock coolers. ARCTIC’s latest aftermarket graphics card cooler. Installation was quick and painless. The Accelero Xtreme III blew those numbers out of the water. we were impressed that the Accelero Xtreme III didn’t increase our GeForce GTX 580’s footprint much at all. the PWM fans never saw fit to increase the fan speed above 2. Once installed. As a prototype of the Accelero Xtreme III. the hardest part was simply removing the dozen or so screws on the GeForce GTX 580’s stock cooler. as well as some of the AMD Radeon HD 7000 and most of the 6000 series. Looking at those temps. Throughout the testing. so we can still use this card in SLI (or CrossFire for Radeon cards). aluminum (fins). To test the Accelero Xtreme III. To see the complete list of supported graphics cards. If you’re running two. we can see why. The temperature performance was 43 degrees Celsius (idle) and 79 C (load). including most of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 and 500 series. as well. Fans: 3 92mm PWM. generated 11. A thin black plastic heat shroud surrounds a trio of 92mm PWM fans. which we lauded at the time of its launch as being nice and quiet. or even four graphics cards.arctic. Even if it’s not too much to sound alarms and initiate a shutdown. and more thermal adhesive to apply to those heatsensitive components. our unit didn’t have the pad of MX-4 preapplied to the copper surface of the heatsink. heatpipes). visit tinyurl.com/7fswjlg and then click the Compatibility tab. ■ BY ANDREW LEIBMAN Accelero Xtreme III $119. we first ran a stock GeForce GTX 580 through Unigine Heaven with Tessellation set to Extreme and measured the GPU temperature at load.95 ARCTIC www. The Accelero Xtreme III consists of five copper heatpipes threaded through a massive series of 84 aluminum fins. all told. the unit is capable of dissipating 300W of thermal energy. We did the same with the Accelero Xtreme III installed and also performed some sound testing. the Accelero Xtreme III.ac Specs: Maximum cooling capacity: 300W. Materials: Copper (base. then heat can quickly get out of hand. Also included in the package are 31 RAM and VRM heatsinks. Noise output remained effectively flat. we waited for the temperature to decrease and level off and then measured that as the idle value.5 more decibels compared to its idle value. the slow baking of your internal components can reduce their respective life spans. The unit is designed to work with reference boards from NVIDIA and AMD and supports about 50 different graphics cards from both. but we applied some using the packaged thermal paste. Most importantly.ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme III H igh-end graphics cards are responsible for a hearty chunk of your system’s power consumption and subsequently generate heat like nothing else. Warranty: 6 years CPU / June 2012 25 . Following the completion of the benchmark. it remained a dual-slot card. a thermal paste spreading tool. three. under both idle and load. idling at 30 C and peaking at 51 C. right around the stock cooler’s idle noise level.000rpm.

99 (140mm) Aerocool www.5dBA. white. Speed: 1. and we liked the variety of mounting hardware. 800rpm (Silence). Speed: 1. the fan operates in a 1.5cfm (Power). including red. memory. to draw more heat from the VRM. Silence mode slashes the noise output to 14. black. Voltage: 12V (Power). and in Power mode. motherboards. Air flow: 82. Such reliable and versatile fans are perfect for replacing your old case fans or supplementing the current air cooling in your case. which look particularly nice reflected against the translucent green fan blades of the Evil Green fans we installed.computerpoweruser. The Shark fans come with two mounting methods.5cfm (Silence). 50cfm (Silence). we installed it in the top panel of our Enermax SpineRex case. Air flow: 96. Voltage: 12V (Power). 12. 14. it nearly doubles to 96cfm. $17. ■ BY ANDREW LEIBMAN Shark Fan Evil Green Edition $15. we’re all about anything that makes your PC better and faster. Aerocool offer these fans in 120mm and 140mm sizes.6dBA (Power).500rpm (Power). CPU heatsink. especially if you’re toting one (or more) of Aerocool’s Shark Fans. Installation was quick and easy. 7V (Silence).5dBA (Silence) Specs (120mm): Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm. Another unique feature of the Shark fans is the blade design.500rpm Power mode. The fans have a MTBF rating of 100.aerocool. 7V (Silence).5dBA (Power). Without the resistor. 800rpm (Silence).6dBA. In Power mode. those adjectives almost always show up with an uninvited guest in tow. blue. and Evil Green to perfectly complement your case’s interior or LED color scheme. and memory.99 (120mm). The fan also includes a voltage reduction cable with an inline resistor (12V to 7V) for Silence mode (800rpm).500rpm (Power).Aerocool Shark Fan Evil Green Edition H ere at CPU. then Aerocool’s Shark fans can do the job in style. If you’re looking to take a bite out of your thermal budget and keep your enthusiast gear cool. you can expect the Shark fan to add to your overall system noise to the tune of 29. this fan has four of them.us 26 June 2012 / www.6dBA (Silence) are 25mm thick. In Silence mode. But heat’s not hard to chase off. Noise: 26. which features a ribbed design. 32. we spend a lot of time talking about enthusiastgrade processors.to 4-pin converter cable. Sadly. graphics cards. both Specs (140mm): Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 25mm (HxWxD).000 hours.com . Also in the package is a 3.6cfm (Power). which was easily lost among the hum of our CPU fan and rear exhaust fan. Noise: 29. The Shark Fan is available in a handful of colors. In short. To test this fan. Speaking of LEDs. the different modes also have different noise output ratings. and more. the 140mm fan outputs 50cfm. and everything is sleeved black. As you’d expect. heat. via a quartet of antivibration screws or with four standard screws.

Learn more at Processor. strategies.com Visit www.com or call (800) 334-7458 to sign up for your complimentary subscription. Another great resource from the publishers of CPU magazine. and advice from experts in the field ➤ Processor.Processor.Processor is the industry’s most comprehensive source for: Snapshots of new data center and IT hardware and software ➤ Rundowns of major industry news ➤ Information on manufacturers and resellers ➤ TIps. .

256GB. The 128GB M3 Pro brings the latest and greatest. The controller here is Marvell’s 88SS9174. which is essentially at the top of food chain. your performance will be more or less the same regardless of the type of data you feed the M3 Pro.87 54. especially after Plextor renewed its commitment with the M3 Pro SSD family.0. and it has a key per formance-related difference over the other heavy hitter in the enthusiast SSD market. CrystalDiskMark 3. the SandForce SF-2200 controller: The 88SS9174 controller delivers the same performance regardless of whether the workload is compressible or incompressible data.6 59.1 Default* Sequential read Sequential write 512KB read 512KB write 4K random read QD1 4K random write QD1 4K random read QD32 4K random write QD32 Sequential read Sequential write 512KB read 512KB write 4K random read QD1 4K random write QD1 4K random read QD32 4K random write QD32 AS-SSD* Sequential read Sequential write 4K read 4K write 4K-64Thrd read 4K-64Thrd write *Results in MBps.74 267.3 342.2 272.5 266.8 402. performancewise. We tested the 128GB M3 Pro with Cr ystalDiskMark 3.1 (both the Default and All 0x00 [0 Fill] tests) and AS-SSD to see how it measured up. We took a look at the 128GB M3 Pro.1 All 0x00 (0 Fill)* COGLEY M3 Pro 128GB $199. We know we have to share. when we were still young and finding our way in the world.Plextor M3 Pro 128GB T his is a love story. a compressible workload) in order to hit the drive’s advertised speeds. These drives are currently available in 128GB. Today.computerpoweruser.0. In short. as well as Plextor’s ConvertX hardware. At the time. (See “Solid-State Soirée” on page 17. Plextor decided to take the relationship to the next level and offer us an impressive lineup of solid-state drives.e.74 25. Maximum random 4K read/write: 75.2 389.com .53 245.46 324. yes.9 270.89 52. you shouldn’t need a special set of circumstances (i.) The Marvell 88SS9174 is also the controller of choice for Corsair’s Performance Pro Series SSDs.. GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 580. but we don’t want to.4 345.000IOPS/69. RAM: 8GB AMD Performance Edition DDR3-1600. we see no end in sight to this wonderful relationship. It’s a speed freak for sure. Storage: Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB 28 June 2012 / www. Five-year warranty Test System Specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K. and 512GB capacities. we were attracted to the company’s excellent optical disc drives.9 278. we can happily say that things between us are better than ever.1 528. Motherboard SAPPHIRE PURE Platinum Z77. and the best part is that.4 348. Interface: 6Gbps SATA. ■ BY VINCE Benchmark Results Plextor M3 Pro 128GB 510. It started several years ago.0. The 128GB M3 Pro is a fantastic drive with a great pedigree.99 Plextor www.com Specs: Maximum sequential read/write: 535MBps/350MBps.5 348 27.000IOPS. which you might remember from our SSD roundup last month. a few short years ago.plextoramericas.9 500. It was a great relationship. It uses 24nm Toshiba Toggle NAND.97 CrystalDiskMark 3. Then.9 27. We met a little company named Plextor. If Plextor keeps releasing SSDs like this.

along with the macro control keys along the left side and the CM Storm logo in the upper-left corner. playing both RTS and FPS titles. And thanks to its 6-key rollover. they provide the tactile feedback I like without the clicky noise. Anti-ghosting: 6-Key rollover. This is a keyboard that you can depend on when things get hectic. and it’s equipped with 64KB of onboard memory for storing the macros you enter so that you don’t have to backtrack and re-enter them. and it performed admirably in both scenarios. which means they are comfortable even when in use for long periods of time (LAN party. On top of everything else. you have bad typing posture. Detachable wrist rest. anyone?). detachable wrist rest ensure that it pampers your hands. The keyboard isn’t just backlit. accuracy.coolermaster-usa. the Trigger provides lots of excellent macro options. but when you start to actually play with one of these posers it quickly becomes apparent that functionally there’s little difference between it and cheapie models you find for $20 or so in the big box stores.) It seems pretty clear that Cooler Master’s product designers spent a lot of time thinking about what gamers want and need from a keyboard in designing the Trigger. Blue. But the Trigger’s charms go beyond its excellent mechanical switches. They have a nice. For all its sturdiness. you can detach it from the keyboard for transport by way of its mini USB connection.com Specs: Interface: USB. like me. The Trigger sports a flexible but heavygauge cord that is sheathed in black nylon braid. ■ BY CHRIS TRUMBLE CM Storm Trigger Price TBA Cooler Master www. and this combined with its comfort. which is situated just to the outside of its two gold-plated USB ports and an AC power jack that doesn’t have a matching adapter—you can pick one up if you want to use the keyboard with devices that require more power than a USB connection can provide. Its rubber edges and the included. We spent some quality time with the Trigger. 64KB onboard memory for profile storage. the Trigger isn’t stiff or uncomfortable in any way. a mechanical gaming keyboard that does more than just talk the talk. and good looks make it one of the most accomplished gaming keyboards to come along in several years. Maybe it has a flashy backlight and is festooned with media controls. (And if. 1ms response time CPU / June 2012 29 . Brown. Durability is very likely a byproduct. deep range of motion and just the right amount of springiness. everybody has one or two or more of them. even when the action dictates several-key combos. it also gives you dimmer controls and lets you choose between a fully lit keyboard and a setting that only lights up the WASD and arrow keys. which I happen to favor. For starters. This is not the case with Cooler Master’s new CM Storm Trigger. it seems the only thing that qualifies a keyboard as a gaming keyboard is that it looks like one. and in many cases. your wrists. Cooler Master equips the four Trigger models with four variants of the excellent Cherry MX switches: Black. the keyboard has an impressive amount of heft and is solidly built. however.Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger S eems like gaming keyboards are a dime a dozen these days. Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyswitches. and some extra function or macro keys. the Trigger won’t lose any commands. or Red. but it’s also nice to know that your keyboard won’t slip and slide one way or another in the heat of combat and leave you groping for the keys you need to survive. Our review unit came with Cherry MX Browns.

Intel’s Second Generation Core processors started a revolution. of course. Intel introduces its 3 rd Generation Core processors. as the “K” in its name suggests. so demanding users who insist on wringing every last cycle out of their CPUs will be right at home when overclocking the chip. Intel has observed that the Core i73770K is 43% faster than the Core i7-2600 at transcoding video for YouTube with ArcSoft’s Media Converter 7 81% faster when .4 billion transistors. as well. DirectX 11. for example. The four-core. and triple-display configurations. the Core i7-3770K is fully unlocked. Now. these modestly priced CPUs were competitive with high-end. so combined with the process shrink this architecture adds up to significant gains in performance requiring significantly less power. and 199% faster when running Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage. which take everything you liked about Sandy Bridge to the next level. And these are Intel’s new tri-gate transistors. enthusiast CPUs in gaming and broke new ground in media creation and management.Intel Core i7-3770K A year and a half ago.0. Similar performance gains can be observed when working with other media types.ly/Kmxopj. In its tests. eight-threaded Core i7-3770K is based on Intel’s newest 22-nanometer manufacturing process. visit bit. tailor-made for the 3 rd Generation Core processor. The Core i7-3770K and a motherboard equipped with Intel’s Z77 chipset provide native support for USB 3. transcoding video for playback on an iPhone in CyberLink’s Advertisement Media Espresso. The Extreme Series DZ77GA-70K has full support for all of the Core . Intel’s own Z77 motherboards are. Intel DZ77GA-70K The good news continues when you consider Intel’s design for the 3rd Generation Core processors as part of a powerful computing ecosystem.) And. so it packs more transistors into less space than its predecessor: Its 160mm2 die contains 1. (For more performance information and comparisons. SATA 6Gbps drives. which are more energy-efficient.

but they are also incredibly adaptable. the DZ77GA70K. At work or at play.0 ports (four external. and amazing digital images. four via internal header). they are physically compatible with Intel’s Socket LGA1155. Once installed.i7-3770K’s impressive features. Another Intel feature. so in addition to motherboards designed around Intel’s 7-Series chipsets. support for up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR3-1600+ memory. and one or more Intel 520 Series SSDs unlocks the potential of your games and gives you the tools you need to create and manage powerful video. Rapid Start technology. Intel’s Smart Connect technology checks web applications that you have open for new content. These processors also come with Intel’s Small Business Advantage. Intel’s 3rd Generation Core processors make you better at everything you do. PC Health Center. Data Backup & Restore. 1. P67. so your apps are always up-to-date and ready at a moment’s notice. or H67 chipsets—currently shipping boards . 10-channel digital audio. world-class audio. even when your PC is in sleep mode. include support out of the box. Intel Wireless Display. For starters. and Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology for RAID 0. is an extremely power-efficient hibernate mode that lets your PC resume full operation within 5 to 6 seconds. Software Monitor. 5. and 10. A system equipped with the Core i7-3770K. and in addition provides two PCI Express 3. you can install 3rd Generation Core processors in motherboards equipped with Z68. a set of free tools features that make them incredibly handy for small business use. and Energy Saver are designed to simplify IT tasks for small-business and home office users.0 x16 slots. USB Blocker. ■ Power & Flexibility Intel designed its 3rd Generation Core processors to perform at a high level. and existing boards need only a simple firmware update. eight USB 3.

BY VINCE COGLEY Wildfire 480GB $979.6 398. which is why we have 480GB of available storage instead of 512GB. includes this fix.2 firmware update. so getting a Wildfire now means you’ll have an SSD that should be more reliable than ever.5-inch drive bay adapter.6 453. the Wildfire 480GB is packed with 32nm Toshiba ToggleMode NAND memory.3. the guy.1 All 0x00 (0 Fill)* Sequential read Sequential write 512KB read 512KB write 4K random read QD1 4K random write QD1 4K random read QD32 4K random write QD32 AS-SSD* Sequential read Sequential write 4K read 4K write 4K-64Thrd read 4K-64Thrd write 505.1 Default* Sequential read Sequential write 512KB read 512KB write 4K random read QD1 4K random write QD1 4K random read QD32 4K random write QD32 102. wear leveling. respectively. You can see the Wildfire deliver great throughput with sequential reads across the board. garbage collection.63 26.8 Benchmark Results CrystalDiskMark 3. The guy who mods his Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to fit within a single chassis because two separate consoles simply take up too much space in his home theater. Memory: 8GB Kingston DDR3-2400.51 20. which we’ve all come to know and love over the last year and a half.2 498. Still. It includes a 3. The guy who retrofits his home with Ethernet cabling and outlets because he simply has to have the reliability of a wired network in every single room in the house. (Also remember that all SandForce 2200-based SSDs will have a certain degree of overprovisioning.com Patriot Wildfire 480GB 485 236. Patriot reports that the 480GB Wildfire’s performance is just slightly off the pace of its smaller 120GB and 240GB Wildfire drives. Maximum 4K random IOPS: 40. of course. And again. Patriot’s 3. including DuraWrite.23 18.48 *Results in MBps Specs: Maximum sequential read/write: 540MBps/450MBps. You know. A SandForce SF-2281 storage processor.com .8 30.4 459.) The now infamous BSOD bug that plagued all SandForce 2200-based SSDs appears to have been solved. the Wildfire 480GB performed very well in our benchmarks. 480GB of Toggle Mode NAND in a single SSD is simply wild. The 480GB Wildfire’s sequential reads and writes peak at 540MBps and 450MBps. The SF-2281 claims some of the Wildfire’s available NAND to perform these functions. and carries a three-year warranty. Interface: 6Gbps SATA. “Yes! I now have almost half a terabyte of Toggle NAND at my disposal!” We’re guessing that the guy already has a few things planned for such a drive. which rolled out last October.8 162. Under its hood.7 214. 4K random reads are universally good here. so it will mount in virtually any system you can imagine.38 230.computerpoweruser.0. Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3. the Wildfire 480GB is not unique in this regard.99 | Patriot Memory www. Patriot’s 480GB Wildfire is the perfect SSD for “the guy.13 131. Warranty: 3 years Test System Specs: Processor: Intel Core i73960X. The Wildfire performs exactly as Patriot promises. and it’s extremely fast with a workload of compressible data. calls the shots in this SSD. Tell the guy we’ve found his drive.0.” The guy who builds a fanless system because the only thing he wants to hear is the sound of his own typing. and so forth. while the 120GB and 240GB Wildfires can touch 555MBps and 520MBps. SLI). as well.1 226.4 437.patriotmemory.Patriot Memory Wildfire 480GB W e all know “the guy.35 244.3 210. GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (2x.2 CrystalDiskMark 3. CrystalDiskMark and AS-SSD. Storage: Kingston 240GB HyperX SSD 32 June 2012 / www.000IOPS.5 27. you get all of the benefits that the SF-2281 bestows. So.22 18.” He’s the one who will say.

It currently doesn’t support the Google Play Store or the Amazon Appstore.264.263. and Picasa. MPEG-2. and the rear port is ideal for connecting a USB keyboard (to enter text into the Web browser. so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. and Settings. In addition to the previously mentioned web browser. Real Audio. MPEG-1. VC-1. WMA. H. the PBO Alpine provides you with a network map that lets you search for the folders and files where you multimedia is stored. you’ll see an interface that provides you with quick buttons for Video. H. and there’s also an optical S/PDIF output. SD card. 720p. and 480p. As multimedia streaming devices go. USB 2. optical S/PDIF out CPU / June 2012 33 . OGG. which is nice if your Web connection isn’t able to handle the bandwidth required for the larger HD-quality options.0 audio standards are provided for surround sound. HDMI out. Music sounded crisp on our home theater’s speakers.com Specs: CPU: ARM926.0. YouTube. We checked out the PBO Alpine and found it to be extremely responsive. you’ll be able to select among the video quality options.2 to provide you with an easyto-use interface. and it can connect to your network thru either a wired or wireless connection (with the help of an optional USB Wi-Fi adapter). Another USB 2. but the PBO Alpine remains a respectable home theater add-on. 1080p content streamed via the Internet looked great. We’d love to see support for Google’s Play Store or a similar app marketplace. or image. Patriot Memory includes apps for iRadio. MPEG-4.0. song (if cover art is included). iTV. RealVideo. such as 1080p. When switching between menus. as well. GIF. Music. 1080i. you’ll be able to play it by loading it through the front USB 2. In terms of video playback. and PNG—are supported. Applications. You’ll find support for M-JPEG. ■ BY NATHAN LAKE PBO Alpine $89 Patriot Memory www.Patriot Memory PBO Alpine T he PBO Alpine from Patriot Memory is a network-attached media player that supports 1080p resolutions (at 30fps). the media player also provides you with a windowed preview of the given video. the PBO Alpine provides you with a lot of convenient features for network playback. for example) or Wi-Fi adapter. and we experienced no lag or motion judder during playback. If you choose one of the multimedia options. You can use the included remote to make your selections. The PBO Alpine supports MP3. You can also add a manual network link if you want to add a location that’s not currently online. VP6. The Dolby Digital Plus and DTS 2. Xvid. OS: Android 2. The most common image formats— JPEG. BMP. Front ports: USB 2. Bookmarks.0 port or SD memory card slot. When you first fire up the PBO Alpine. If your media isn’t stored on the network. With most sources.2. It runs a modified version of Android 2.0 port is available in the rear of the PBO Alpine. Rear ports: Ethernet. the PBO Alpine quickly brings up the files stored on your network devices. and MKV video formats. Besides the file name. You can sideload apps from a flash drive or SD card if you want to add further functionality. and several other audio formats. Patriot Memory builds in a HDMI port for convenient connection to an HDTV or projector. Photo.patriotmemory. DivX.

and under load. however. AMD AM2/2+/3/3+.com . you’d better have a cooler substantial enough to handle the heavy lifting. temps climbed to a very manageable 70 C.28 x 3. The Gamer Storm is one of the more versatile CPU coolers available. Noise: 17. still a far cry from the processor’s TJ Max.500rpm (+/-10%). The fan attaches to either side of the cooler with a pair of metal clips. polished to a mirror sheen for superior heat transfer. Maximum air flow: 66. If you’re looking for an affordable cooler that’ll take your processor to the next level. the Gamer Storm should be at the top of your list. the Gamer Storm pushes 66. The first thing you’ll notice about the Gamer Storm is the fairly standard design that consists of heatpipes bisecting rows of aluminum fins. The idle fan speed is 500rpm (+/-200). When the CPU starts to break a sweat. the 12V mode kicks on and pushes the fan to 1. which is why we used it to test the Gamer Storm.Deepcool By Logisys Gamer Storm cooler is easily one of the Strapped to cooler is a 120mm T he CPUrig. The low-speed 7V mode produces a whisper quiet 17. fan blades. Materials: Copper (base). We overclocked the processor to 4. as well as AMD Socket AM2/2+/3/3+ and FM1.8 to 27. The main unit is coated in nickel to ensure the Gamer Storm remains capable of efficiently evacuating heat as long as you own it. though. Under load the processor temperature climbed to 60 degrees Celsius. But the difference is in the details. It supports Intel Socket LGA775/1155/1156/1366. aluminum (fins). you’ll likely be able to use this cooler through several upgrade cycles. ■ BY ANDREW LEIBMAN Gamer Storm $69.99 Deepcool By Logisys deepcool-us. vibration is not an issue.22 x 5. Installation was straightforward. but thanks to the rubberized surface of the fan frame. That’s exactly what Logisys had in mind when designing the Gamer Storm CPU cooler. And because it supports processors from AMD and Intel. (A CPU cutout in the motherboard tray is necessary. Read on to see if it has what it takes to handle your overclocking ambitions.com Specs: Dimensions: 6. At its peak.) The height of your memory heatsinks and the position of your memory banks may force you to place the fan on one side or another.6dBA 34 June 2012 / www. Logisys includes a spare set of clips in case you want to add a second fan for more extreme air cooling performance. but this is easily accomplished.86 inches (HxWxD). AMD FM1.3cfm and hums along at 27. The base of the Gamer Storm is a solid block of copper. but if you want to push your processor to its limits.3cfm.4GHz. and we were happy to discover that we didn’t need to remove the motherboard from our case to install this cooler. and at idle the CPU runs at a chilly 31 C.6dBA. There are six heatpipes and a total of 48 aluminum fins.6dBA. Socket compatibility: Intel LGA775/1155/1156/1366.computerpoweruser. By now you’ve heard that the Intel Corei7-3770K runs hotter than Sandy Bridge. It doesn’t directly impact PWM hydro theframe and baby bluea hardest working components in an bearing fan with enthusiast’s rubberized black performance.

.

com Specs: USB Audio Class 1.” you might expect a lot from something not much bigger than a thimble stuck on an L-shaped USB adapter. Bass goes from sounding like something passing through a long cardboard tube to being right there in your head. the device runs your audio stream through a handful of post-processing algorithms and backs it with a +6dB boost at 80Hz. as is the device’s compatibility support for Windows. Explosions and firefights sound more visceral because they recover a large portion of their lower frequencies. The difference was glaring. because it works some impressive magic without the use of drivers.) The DreamBass Genie lives up to expectations. Using VIA’s VT1620A audio chips. with a name like “DreamBass. Jacks: 3. (This is so the DreamBass will stand upright when plugged into a notebook. but the improved channel separation makes highs cleaner and more prominent. man! Of course.0. SNR: 95dB 36 June 2012 / www. This little gem is now a permanent fixture in our notebook bag. which suddenly became much more booming and dramatic. Mids suddenly rematerialize.5mm mic/line-in and stereo out. MacOS. Bottom line: You get big sound from a tiny package. and we were instantly reminded of what we like so well about discrete audio products like the DreamBass Genie. 96kHz playback. the clarity of speech in both cases remained roughly equal to what it was before the DreamBass took over. ■ BY WILLIAM VAN WINKLE   DreamBass Genie AP001 $29. however. as well as Metro 2033. THD-N -80dB. Armed with Sony’s MDR-V6 studio headphones. Enermax’s old-school vacuum tube look is appealing. and Linux.99 | Enermax www. Overall. The DreamBass Genie doesn’t do that much with the highs. Audio: 24-bit.com . We also tried out the DreamBass with a few HD movies.Enermax DreamBass Genie AP001 W hy would famed PSU manufacturer Enermax make an audio amplifier for PCs? Because it’s about power. Enermax’s DreamBass puts the drama back in your soundtrack. Just plug it in and enjoy.computerpoweruser.ecomastertek. eliminating that “hollow” feel so prevalent with integrated audio. we tried out the DreamBass against the integrated audio on a relatively new $500 notebook. significantly richer and deeper. The payoff was in battle scenes and sound effects.

The UDP 16K test showed 92. Coverage: 984 feet. We p l u g g e d T R E N D n e t’s T P L . You want the stability of wired networking because Wi-Fi happens to stink in this area. The palmsized powerline networking adapter doubles as a four-port Gigabit Ethernet hub. but we have a lot of electronics.trendnet.com Specs: LAN interface: 4 10/100/1000 RJ-45 ports.4Mbps and 12. So long as you have another TRENDnet Powerline AV adapter plugged into your router.99 TRENDnet www.4 0 2 E 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter (which features a pass-through outlet—a helpful bonus) into the office LAN’s Gigabit switch. ■ BY WILLIAM VAN WINKLE TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter $97.5Mbps in Location 1 and 5. full duplex). let’s talk about reality. and you have a home entertainment center with a gaming console. Blu-ray player. the Location 1 graphs all show strong. that’s not the 500Mbps theoretical max. stable speeds. And although the Location 2 UDP throughput graphs show a lot of regularly spaced pits. Now.2Mbps.1 x 3 x 2. then plugged the 405E into the adjacent room. Transferring a 2GB data folder took about 6:20 (minutes:seconds) from Location 1. Speed: 500Mbps (powerline). Location 2 started at 200Kbps. which makes for reliable video streaming. The Advanced Networking benchmark in PerformanceTest 7. TiVo. The building we tested in was built in 2006. respectively. Because powerline networking hardware can be extremely dependent on a given location’s electrical wiring. all four devices can use the same wall wart to get online.2 inches (HxWxD) CPU / June 2012 37 .TRENDnet TPL-405E 4-Port 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter I t’s hard not to take the TPL-405E as a godsend at first glance.11n gear in the same locations. 2Gbps (LAN. and we gave up trying at an estimated transfer time of 22 hours. so we’d encourage you to try the 405E for its compact size and four-port convenience. keeping in mind that distance is likely much greater when you factor in the length of wiring needed to reach from outlet to outlet. The TPL405E is a perfect fit. Power interface: NEMA 5-15. We also tested the 405E at the far end of the building. told a similar story. and a connected TV. your results may end up being considerably better. but we’ve seen far worse testing 802. Dimensions: 4. So. Security: AES-128.2Mbps in Location 2. almost exactly on the opposite side of the wall (Location 1). continued to slide under 100Kbps.4Mbps. with 16K TCP tests hitting 26. We all know to expect half (at best) of the theoretical throughput of most wireless and powerline networking gear. some of which may be injecting noise into the lines. averaging about 5. Imagine you’re in a home without structured wiring. about 40 feet away (Location 2).

The rear of the nano XS AD11 Plus features an HDMI output.34 9. With the AD11 Plus model. The miniature system also includes an integrated IR receiver and media remote.5 and a 512KB random write of 123. features 80 shader units. stop. a 4-in-1 memory card slot (SD. The side of the unit features mesh openings where heat can escape. In exterior appearance.9 NATHAN LAKE ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus $419.73 1547 1319 1737 1208 746 3355 ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus 3DMark Overall Graphics Score Physics Score Combined Score Graphics Test 1 Graphics Test 2 Graphics Test 3 Graphics Test 4 Physics Test Combined Test PC Mark 7 PCMark Score Productivity Score Creativity Score Entertainment Score Computation Score System Storage Score SiSoft Sandra 2012 SP1 Lite Processor Arithmetic Dhrystone ALU (GIPS) Whetstone SSE3 (GFLOPS) Processor Multi-Media x8 Multi-Media Integer SSSE3 (Mpixels per second) x8 Multi-Media Float SSE2 (Mpixels per second) x8 Multi-Media Double x4 SSE2 (Mpixels per second) Memory Bandwidth Integer Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Floating Memory Bandwidth B/F AVX/128 (GBps) Media Transcode Transcode WMV (KBps) Transcode H264 (KBps) Physical Disk Read Performance (MBps) Cinebench 11. posting a 512KB random read of 146. an Ethernet port.99 Zotac www. Storage: Kingston SSDNow mS100 38 June 2012 / www. there’s a ring that glows green. you’ll find a power button.09 7.02 1.0 ports. which was Samsung-branded in our test unit.1 (MBps) Sequential Read Sequential Write 512KB Random Read 512KB Random Write 4KB Random Read QD1 4KB Random Write QD1 4KB Random Read QD32 4KB Random Write QD32 Aliens Vs.83 inches in width and depth. and runs at 508MHz (600MHz in Turbo).43 6 3. record. The included remote also makes it easy to control for media playback. two USB 3.65 240 151. Zotac also builds in 802.0 ports.62 9. a combo 3Gbps eSATA/ USB 2.19 2.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and provides a Wi-Fi antenna. and its height is even 0. Predator (4XAA.48 3. The ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 makes an ideal PC for those who want an exceptional small form factor system.46 x 4. no AF) * points ** pixels per second Games tested at 1. Because you may not locate the system in a place with convenient wired Ethernet access.72 0. ZOTAC also bundles a VESA monitor mount. due to the 64GB SSD.computerpoweruser. but it was able to push through even the toughest of the tests.com .84 20. or other area where you want access to a computer. and rewind controls to manage Windows Media Center playback and recording. and audio inputs.zotac. which combines a 1.73 12.82 15. pause.5 123.6 6.0.24 3. and Multimedia).9. no AF) Metro 2033 (4xAA.9 8. Our benchmark tests aren’t exactly ideal for the nano’s hardware. The unit scored particularly well in CrystalDiskMark.5 CPU* POV-Ray 3. It’d fit next to a TV in the living room or bedroom as well as it would in a home theater rack.955 24.21 1. ZOTAC was able to reduce the size by using the Kingston SSDNow mS100. ZOTAC installs 2GB of DDR3-1333MHz memory. kitchen. so you can attach the nano XS AD11 Plus to the back of a monitor to minimize the amount of space it takes up.65GHz dual-core processor with Radeon HD 6320 graphics processing. and two USB 2. The nano XS AD11 Plus is powered by AMD’s E-450 Zacate APU. ZOTAC has somehow managed to slim down their nano lineup of miniature PCs to a mere 1.31 inches less. fast forward. Compared to ZOTAC’s ZBOX nano AD 10 Plus.Benchmark Results 3DMark 11 Entry ZOTAC ZBOX nano XS AD11 Plus E515 516 637 373 2. On the front panel.com System specs: Processor: AMD E-450: GPU: Radeon HD 6320.7 Beta** CrystalDiskMark 3. SDHC.64 150.17 x 4. The remote features a Windows Media Center button. which makes it ideal for use as an entertainment PC for use in the living room. MS Pro. the nano XS AD11 Plus is similar to previous iterations of the ZBOX that we’ve reviewed. play. RAM: 2GB Samsung DDR3-1333.17 inches (HxWxD). When powered on. the nano XS AD11 Plus has been reduced by 0. ■ BY 10.5 146. which we reviewed in the October issue. The 64GB Kingston SSDNow mS100 offers sequential read speeds of 255MBps and sequential writes of 170MBps. as well as volume.0 port.77 2.61 93 102 242.280 x 720 W ith the nano XS AD11 Plus. The latter supports DirectX 11. which is a 64GB SSD that fits into an mSATA slot on the motherboard.

Less eye fatigue means you can spend more time playing games and watching movies. and to reduce eye fatigue. and generally make your system look awesome. Antec Advance Bias Lighting If a soft. Advertisement . Antec Advance Accent Lighting strips are the perfect finishing touch. Not The Bank Antec’s lighting kits help you create the unique. and are great for internal or external use.YOU’VE SPENT A LOT OF HOURS getting your case and the components inside to look just the way you like them. or run them along the inside of your case near window panels to illuminate your new pair of video cards or an immaculate custom cooling setup. cases. show off your handiwork. ■ Antec Advance Accent Lighting Antec Advance Accent Lighting strips come in red and blue. Antec Advance Accent Lighting strips and Antec Advance Bias Lighting kits have a suggested retail price of just $12. of course. 6-LED strips on keyboards. No matter where you put them. trick out your system. run them along the bottom of your keyboard to tie it in with your PC’s lighting (not to mention making it easier to find). Break The Mold. so you can load up. Run them along the bottom or back panel of your case to give it extra dimension in low light. white light is the missing piece from your build’s look. and if your system looks better as a result. Your case is sporting a new paint job and the acrylic window in the left side panel shows just how hard you worked to get the cables tucked out of sight where possible and sleeved and bundled everywhere else.95 each. Antec Advance Bias Lighting strips are just the ticket. you can put these white. Antec has two affordable LED kits that will help you highlight your favorite components. that’s even better. and save the leftover cash for a rainy day. stunning look you’ve always wanted for your PC. or you could look to one of the brands you’ve known and trusted for years: Antec. What’s left? Lighting. but without the cost you would expect from most custom LED setups. separate lighting products and patch together your own custom setup. As with the red and blue Accent Lighting strips. You could spend a bunch of cash on several. or you can install one on the back of your monitor to increase image clarity and contrast. are USBpowered. well.

40 June 2012 / www.com .computerpoweruser.

5 minutes. 12GB of G. EK water blocks. Groves also installed Station 6’s components. Groves tells us Quire used to say he was “heading to Station 6” when he’d leave for the day and head home. Look very closely at the paint and guess how much time Geoff Groves has spent wielding an airbrush. So I filled my buddy in on my idea for naming the case ‘Station 6. “I started this case almost on a whim. the gray and black beauty you see before you. building. I did repaint the front panel because it turned out too dark the first time.2GHz) mounted on an MSI Big BangXpower motherboard. I didn’t have an airbrush. and such with his jigsaw. and painting the case.Station 6 Give Us Your Mod Have a computer mod that will bring tears to our eyes? Email photos and a description to madreadermod@ cpumag. and at that time I was searching for a name for the mod. including the fan holes.” Groves says.” In addition to cutting. but that’s my first-ever experience painting with an airbrush. (Everything was primered and base-coated with spray cans.” Groves says. and three 300GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives. an XFX Radeon HD 7970. Only problem was. including an Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked to 4. and power drill. Finally.” ■ CPU / June 2012 41 . If we include your system in our “Mad Reader Mod” section. it sat on my shelf until the day I was ready to paint the case.500 and a one-year subscription to CPU. cutting. L ast month’s “Mad Reader Mod” featured a first-time modder. “I knew I wanted it to be a smoke-like outside finish and a lighter.” Groves says. I tend to tinker around with computers and play games. and related setbacks. “The mod became my Station 6. If you put your mind to it. four 60GB Force Series Corsair SSDs. Getting the case done by a shop was just too expensive for my liking. Groves put together the mod’s cooling system. The name “Station 6” came from Groves’ fellow Marine Gunnery Sergeant Adam Quire. and that lasted all of 4 to 4. contrasting inside. drilling. But that’s not even the most amazing fact about Station 6. Got your guess ready? “As for the paint job. eight Yate Loon case fans. After getting it in the mail. having no idea how much work was actually involved when creating a whole case. which consists of two Swiftech 480mm radiators. so I found a deal on an airbrush on eBay. “I’m very pleased with myself for grinding it out through all the measuring. Dremel. I sat down to practice my airbrushing skills. See what you can learn from watching a few YouTube how-tos?” Groves constructed Station 6’s enclosure from aluminum sheets cut in his garage.) That day.com. and as unlikely as it seems. He did all the cutouts. radiator mounts. we have another mod from a first-timer this month. nor had I ever used one. “When I go home. a Thermaltake Toughpower 700W PSU.Skill PI Series DDR3-1600. Then I jumped straight into the final case job you see. we’ll send you $1.’ and it just stuck. lettering. it can be done. and a Swiftech MCP655 pump.

.

.

Blizzard recommends a 2.com. asked: I’m planning on getting Diablo III when it comes out. which will also be more than enough to run Diablo III.net for your Diablo III system requirements. we’d recommend going with Win7 64-bit. if you need to purchase a new OS anyway. However. Regarding that Internet connection. Each month we dig deep into the CPU mailbag in an effort to answer your most pressing technical questions. to q&a@cpumag. so we can call you if necessary. For about the same amount of money. and at least 12GB free space on your hard drive or SSD. Blizzard’s Diablo III System Requirements web page (tinyurl . keep in mind that you’ll need to be connected to the ’Net if you want to play the game.com .computerpoweruser. memory. 44 June 2012 / www. but my PC just isn’t up to scratch. Send your questions along with a phone and/or fax number. you can get a quad-core AMD FX-4170 Zambezi. DVD-ROM drive. Please include all pertinent system information. Thankfully. the graphics card is going to have the Scott W. let alone a game. screen resolution. storage.1GHz Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge chip.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or 2. I’m torn between an AMD or an Intel. Although Blizzard indicates that Vista or WinXP will work. and don’t forget to update it once your build is complete. we can suggest a 3. But if you’re building a new system to play the game. graphics card. you’ll be much better off basing it on the recommended system requirements. These recommendations only cover the operating system. processor. Want some advice on your next purchase or upgrade? Have a ghost in your machine? Are BSODs making your life miserable? CPU’s “Advanced Q&A Corner” is here for you. The 2GB RAM recommendation is on the lower end of the spectrum for Win7. to go with barely scratches the surface. They assume you have a broadband Internet connection (note: Wi-Fi may not be fast enough). memory. these processors are rather old. Memory is cheap enough these days that 4GB to 8GB isn’t buying too much. A: The question of which processor Check Battle. Last but certainly not least.Get informed answers to your advanced technical questions from CPU. and graphics card. optical drive. which was readily available for around $125 as we went to press. and Internet connection.com/6wsj8of) is a great place to start. I’m going to build a new rig and I’m looking for suggestions. processor. so you may have a hard time finding them.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (which suggests that the game’s custom engine will be at least slightly multithreaded). At the top of this page you’ll find minimum system requirements for operating system. For something more current.

A current graphics card with similar numbers from NVIDIA is the GeForce GTX 550 Ti. the same files came over a USB 2. so I’m forced to use a USB adapter to get my images onto the netbook.0. but you might not like the tradeoff.0 ports to USB 3. but unfortunately the short answer is no. Those two cards have fairly similar fill rates. A quick Web search for “Mini PCI Express USB 3. The USB 2.3MBps. (we couldn’t) the card reader on your Aspire One won’t likely be any faster than your USB 2. Sadly. the Radeon HD 7770 should deliver a solid experience. that’s your Wi-Fi radio.1MBps. Steve. Yes. asked: I have an Acer Aspire One AO722-0828 netbook. CPU / June 2012 45 . but you’ll get a lot more mileage out of a current graphics card. USB 3. so a full day of shooting can result is as much as 7GB. which uses CompactFlash cards to store images and videos. it’s possible to mod an Acer Aspire netbook to support USB 3.0 SD card reader at about 9.biggest impact on your enjoyment of Diablo III.2GBps and 111. Steve H.9GBps. This is how the mini PCI-E USB 3. The ports themselves have a different internal structure. That’s great if you are building your system in 2009. as well. As a photographer. which I love.0 ports on your Acer Aspire One are a part of the netbook’s chipset. respectively). however. We tested the data rate on our Dell Latitude E6400 notebook and found the internal SD card reader transferred files at approximately 7. Is there a way to upgrade one of the netbook’s USB 2. Blizzard recommends an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 or AMD Radeon HD 4870. This module isn’t really meant for a netbook or notebook. The longer more warranty-voiding answer. but it’s by no means impossible (although something tells us that’s not the answer you were looking for). the Radeon HD 6850 will cost you just a little bit more but give you enough headroom to handle higher resolutions and all the visual enhancements. Here. In the Aspire One. we’d even suggest a GeForce GTX 560 to be able to turn on plenty of eye candy. My camera’s still image files are up to 25MB each. is a tentative maybe. which takes a long time to transfer over to my netbook. Those graphics cards come with 1GB and 896MB of onboard memory.0 ports are similarly backed by some pretty substantial hardware that needs to be built into the motherboard.0? Barring that. so let’s make 1GB GDDR5 our recommended minimum for a graphics card. you’re also out of luck as far as a CF-to-SD card adapter is concerned. The problem is that the netbook doesn’t have a CF slot. is there a CF-to-SD card adapter that will speed things up for me? MPEXUSB3S2 A: We can definitely relate to your impatience. If you’re playing at higher than HD (1080p) resolutions. and the videos are up to 200MB each. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II.0 module fits onto a Mini-ITX motherboard. respectively. Even if you found such a device. so you’d need to do some fairly involved cutting to install the ports and you’d need to get pretty creative to deliver power to the module.0 Card Adapter” gave us several hits for add-on modules that you could use to replace your current mini PCI-E device. (between 12 and 16 gigapixels per second and between 30 and 36 gigatexels per second) and memory bandwidths (115.0 card reader. From AMD.

however. and then click System. then you really need to monitor the system to determine how much you may need in a worst-case scenario. If you’re running 64GB of RAM. Note the Cached memory is how much data is currently stored in the page file. won’t that require a really large page file? I’m particularly concerned because I’d like to use an SSD for my OS drive. click Control Panel. Adding 300MB should cover you for extreme cases. leaving the page file intact is the best strategy. You didn’t mention it. which is likely much more than you realistically need. however. many have reported running flawlessly without it. click Set. Does the old 1. For a vast majority of users. By all accounts. you’ll have to restart to make the change. Without a list of everything you run. 46 June 2012 / www. To calculate your Commit Charge (how much memory Windows is using). If you shrink the size of the paging file from the default setting." below the green bar graph to the Cached number from the Physical Memory (MB) box. then you really need to monitor the system to determine how much you may need in a worst-case scenario. with this much memory. asked: I’ve already started assembling the parts for a new computer build and I settled on the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. you do need a page file. that you might typically run. or will run in the future. which does a pretty good job of managing virtual memory on its own. click the Start button. even enthusiasts. having a page file also lets the system have access to more usable memory. clicking the Performance tab. To prevent the paging file from growing any larger.com . you need to look at the Task Manager’s Performance tab and add the Memory number “If you’re determined to manually manage your virtual memory size. it’s best to just let Windows set the virtual memory minimum and maximum values. Now load your system by launching and using several applications simultaneously. Next. Click Advanced System Settings from the left side of the screen.computerpoweruser. input the same number in the Maximum Size (MB) box. Sure. and input the size you calculated here. clicking Start Task Manager. without a set pool of virtual memory. Windows won’t be able to write kernel crash dumps. click the Custom Size radio button. and then click Change from the Virtual Memory section. but we assume you’re going to be running Win7 on your new system. click the Settings button from the Performance section at the top. and then click OK. click the Advanced tab. If you’re determined to manually manage your virtual memory size. particularly those that are memory-intensive. What I like most about it is the eight DIMM slots and support for up to 64GB of memory. select your OS drive. According to Microsoft TechNet blogger Mark Russinovich. Launch the Performance Monitor by pressing CTRLALT-DELETE. Your page file should be at least this large. some applications require it.5 * memory for a page file rule still apply? Do I even need a page file? A: We’ll tackle your last question first. Furthermore. Uncheck the box in front of Automatically Manage Paging File Size For All Drives. Add these two numbers together to find a good page file size. My question is.Anthony M. click System And Security. ■ Input a custom virtual memory setting in this menu. a Win7 system will automatically set the paging file to 64GB.

Powerful Power Supply
LEPA Takes Top Wattage Crown With Release Of G1600

I

f big power supply units have become all the rage, the Ecomaster LEPA G1600 is taking things to a new level. The G1600 is the largest power supply unit on the market today, offering 1600W of power, with a peak power level of 1700W. Large power supply units typically will provide the most benefit to those enthusiast users who have high-end gaming systems, as well as people who may be operating servers or workstations. “With peak power up to 1700 watts, the G1600 is designed to be efficient,

stable, and reliable, so that it will be able to fulfill its quintessential users’ need,” says Joseph Wang, PSU product manager for LEPA, as he explains why the company decided to issue the market’s

largest power supply unit. “We do know that 1600W is the largest PSU in the market and would catch everyone’s attention, but, to be honest, the primary reason is simply to fulfill users’ demand.” Although such a large power supply may be overkill for many computer users, high-end users and enthusiasts certainly will find a way to take advantage of the G1600’s features. “For super overclockers, multi-GPU users, or even professionals who run supercomputer workstations, G1600 can meet their demand easily,” Wang says.

Go For The Gold The G1600’s 80 Plus Gold rating is a certified measurement that guarantees a certain level of energy-efficient performance

G1600’s Cables & Connectors
“The G1600 is intended for multi-GPU users and is capable of running up to four high-end video cards,” Wang says. “G1600 can also support some special motherboards, such as SR-2 or SR-X from EVGA, which demand additional power sockets.” The full list of connectors with the G1600 includes: (main board unit) handles the motherboard’s main power interface devices. peripheral devices. disk drives, although many hard disk drives also use this connector. 2-pin design.
Sources: Ecomaster, LEPA

48

June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com

at a variety of loads. At 100% and 20% of rated loads, for example, the Gold standard unit must achieve at least 87% energy efficiency. At a 50% rated load, a Gold standard PSU must achieve 90% energy efficiency. “Every now and then, we receive users’ feedback demanding larger wattage power supplies with higher efficiency to support the heavy-duty systems,” Wang says. “To respond to the users’ voices, we’ve put tremendous work to develop the G1600, surpassing 80 Plus Gold standards.” It’s worth noting that some enthusiastclass computer users don’t believe these types of ratings really provide much of a benefit in terms of price savings, as most computer users don’t operate at a full power load at all times, and many companies estimate the cost savings of the 80 Plus standards based on full power

loads. However, the PSUs that have received these ratings will provide at least some level of benefit in energy efficiency, even if it’s less than some of the marketing materials imply. “The more efficient a power supply is, the less energy it wastes, which produces less heat and thereby enhances components’ lifespan and reliability,” Wang says. Although a low-power-mode measurement is not part of the 80 Plus Gold rating, Wang says LEPA has made sure that its G1600 PSU does a good job with power efficiency in that mode, too. “Some power supplies with Gold certification may still be relatively inefficient in standby mode,” he says. “LEPA G1600 puts the standby power into consideration, managing its standby power consumption much lower than 1W to achieve better standby efficiency.”

Keep The Heat At Bay With a PSU running at such high power levels, the ability to keep the unit cool was something that required a lot of design work, Wang says. The entire system works together to do the job of cooling, making use of a 135mm fan with speeds between 1,000 and 2,500rpm, as well as a honeycomb-shaped ventilation grill. “We also put a lot of effort into the airflow circulation design, where the heat can be more efficiently and quickly managed by directly cooling the hot spots,” he says. Using a two-sided circuit board provides an advantage to the cooling system, too, Wang says. “Since it frees more internal space for components, a double-sided PCB layout has better airflow than a single-sided PCB and thereby dissipates heat more effectively,” Wang says.

G1600 Socket Diagram
Not only does the G1600 have a higher power output than other power supply units, but LEPA has also outdone competing PSUs in terms of the number of +12V rails the 1600W contains. With its six +12V rails, Wang says the G1600 offers a peak 40 to 50 amperes per rail, which caters to enthusiasts with powerful graphics cards. “Unlike other PSUs featuring a single +12V rail, the G1600 is equipped with six rails with ample amperes on each rail for great compatibility with heavyduty graphics cards,” Wang says.
Sources: Ecomaster, LEPA

CPU / June 2012

49

we are aiming to create more high-efficient products to not only offer users more stable and reliable power solutions.” Wang says LEPA has plans to continue trying to build even more power into its PSUs of the future. it’s a bit of a surprise to see the size of the unit. huge current flow Although the difference only amounts to a fraction of “Such a tiny window of time will determine whether Sources: LEPA. LEPA needed to put some significant safety features into the unit. However. But Powerful Considering the ability of the G1600 to deliver such large amounts of power. The G1600 PSU can generate additional power with its two-sided board.3V Over Current Protection Under Voltage Protection Over Voltage Protection +5V +12V1/V2/V3/V4/V5/V6 Protection Point Over Power Protection Over Temperature Protection Short Circuit Protection 50 June 2012 / www. “For the future. including: off to protect the system when unusual.com . Wang says most similar PSUs have a depth of at least 8 to nearly 9. “Will we launch any power supplies going beyond 1700W? We have been working on some projects to evaluate the feasibility.” Wang says. the G1600 allows users to have more flexibility of PC chassis selection.” ■ BY KYLE SCHURMAN G1600 Safety Features With such a powerful PSU.5 inches. but also to save energy.computerpoweruser. “Because of its smaller size. which measures just over 7 inches in depth.By using both sides of the circuit board. “Every time we mention the product concept of G1600 to our prospects. a question quickly arises: How large is this product going to be?” he says. too. Wang says. Small. it’ll be a greater challenge to strike a balance between larger power output and electrical safety regulations. by connecting MOSFETs and ICs. LEPA minimizes its conduction losses and can connect more components. Ecosystem Protection Trigger Range +3.

However. Intel’s switch to a 22nm manufacturing process didn’t catch anyone off guard. since 2006 Intel has made use of what it calls a Tick-Tock model. “The definition of each new product generation starts years ahead of the introduction.” Bustamante says. going from 45nm to 32nm to Ivy Bridge’s 22nm. Ticks are usually a setup for the Tock coming a year or so down the road. Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager. Each Tick introduces a new manufacturing technology process.” says Galo Bustamante.White Paper: Intel Ivy Bridge Meet The Tick That Thinks It’s A Tock W hen Ivy Bridge appeared on Intel’s CPU roadmap. Intel is referring to Ivy Bridge as a “Tick+. code-named “Haswell. We knew that Ivy Bridge. increased graphics processing capabilities. named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. driving a fundamental shift in processor and graphics computing. Chips that have been Ticks include Penryn (November 2007) and Westmere (January 2010). “The Tick-Tock model aims at staggering technology process improvements from architectural improvements with each generation of products. Intel remains on track. most people didn’t expect anything earth-shattering. “Market needs and Intel’s architectural innovation will determine if the capability increases are directed towards improved performance. The shrink would also reduce the overall power demands for the chip. providing a completely new chip architecture. would shrink the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture manufacturing process. On the Intel roadmap. Since the integrated circuit first appeared in 1958. Each Tock introduces a new microarchitecture. In other words.” Bustamante says. “Ivy Bridge is introducing a new graphics architecture. In fact. which should provide big benefits. ■ Source: Intel CPU / June 2012 51 .” at least partially to signify the reworked graphics processing power. the significant change in the way Ivy Bridge will handle graphics was a bit of a surprise. but Intel monitors and determines the ability to introduce innovation well into the execution phase.” is scheduled for a mid-2013 release. who said that the number of transistors on a CPU should double every two years. especially in the mobile arena. as well. or new functionality not yet developed. with Ivy Bridge’s “Tick” release this April. including the Sandy Bridge architecture released in January 2011. but most expected that the other improvements in Ivy Bridge would be incremental in nature. a new microarchitecture (the Tock). With the release of Ivy Bridge. as a Tick. This means that each manufacturing process lasts a little over two years and each microarchitecture lasts a little over two years. “The future of Moore’s Law will continue to deliver a magnitude of exponential capability increases. Last year’s release of Sandy Bridge followed this model. The Tock position represents significant changes to the chip’s architecture. So. it was in the “Tick” position on Intel’s Tick-Tock model. the company has followed Moore’s Law closely.” Adding to the idea of Moore’s Law. delivering Intel’s Tick-Tock History & Future It all started with Moore’s Law. while sometime in 2014. you can expect to see a 14nm manufacturing process (a new Tick) used on the Haswell microarchitecture. planning to release new microprocessor technologies every 12 to 18 months.

The Test Port and the DRNG Wrapper Interface perform further debugging. and it works with a BIST (built-in self-test) engine to begin the process. “Shrinking the process technology makes room for a larger transistor budget for the platform architects and product Digital Random Number Generator With Ivy Bridge. The DRNG. A NRBG (non-deterministic random bit generator) is the entropy source. Online Health Tests ensure the quality of the process. the Combined Conditioner/DRBG area performs the final post-processing work via AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) modes.significant performance improvements on graphics and media over Sandy Bridge that will benefit both desktop and mobile form factors.” Bustamante says the move to stronger graphics capability with the integrated GPU has been ongoing for the past few years. which will result in stronger security measures. The algorithm measures the work of semiconductor circuitry inside the chip to find the indeterminate states. OpenCL 1.computerpoweruser. “In addition. Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager. all consumers are requiring more graphics horsepower. This move gives Ivy Bridge higher performance while also reducing its power demands compared to previous chips from Intel. you’ll find a built-in digital random number generator.” says Galo Bustamante. as well. VPN. and so forth. as well as provide greater 3D performance. and OpenGL 3.” says Galo Bustamante. high-quality. Each of the random numbers that Ivy Bridge generates is considered compliant with encryption standards.1. Overclocking Features Although Ivy Bridge’s graphics processing capabilities are much i m p rove d . Finally. 12 EUs in Sandy Bridge. 16. Intel has made significant strides in advancing the graphics and media capabilities of the processor graphics to meet the needs of demanding applications. an Ivy Bridge CPU’s integrated graphics should be able to easily meet the graphics processing demands of average users.” Bustamante says. which makes use of a physical process that’s based on indeterminate states.com . More Transistors. t h e m ove t o a 2 2 n m manufacturing process nonetheless g a v e In t e l t h e o p p o r t u n i t i e s t o improve the CPU in other areas. higher-end Ivy Bridge SKUs with Intel HD 4000 Graphics have a higher number of execution units. ■ Source: Intel 52 June 2012 / www. The new chip will support DirectX 11. Although gamers and power users will still want the power of a dedicated graphics card. “On the display side. which Intel is calling Secure Key.” he says. Internet security. guaranteeing random numbers. Intel has responded to these demands with Ivy Bridge. is part of Intel’s inclusion of several ISA bus changes with Ivy Bridge.1. Ivy Bridge graphics deliver s u p p o r t f o r t h re e independent displays. The DRNG generates numbers using an Intel-created algorithm. ensuring a truly random number. With the increasing popularity and frequency of HD video playback on average desktop and laptop computers. high-volume random numbers through an on-chip entropy source to support usage models like full-disk encryption. Added Graphics Power The improved graphics capabilities within Ivy Bridge’s integrated GPU will let Ivy Bridge meet demands for better graphics performance. which was limited to two with Sandy Bridge. “Secure Key is a processor technology designed to produce secure. vs. Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager. “ Wi t h t h e p a s t two generations of products.

By limiting the permissions and access for each application. A quad-core Ivy Bridge chip likely will offer about 20% more transistors than a similar Sandy Bridge chip— about 1. ■ Source: Intel CPU / June 2012 53 . A typical EoP attack will take advantage of programming errors and flaws to obtain access to areas of the system that normally would be blocked to an unknown application. including access to the operating system kernel. leakage from the transistors. “Unlocked Ivy Bridge improves the user’s ability to achieve high core and memory frequencies by independently raising the clock speeds without Supervisory Mode Execute Protection A security feature built into Ivy Bridge is Supervisory Mode Execute Protection. Ivy Bridge offers 16 PCI-E 3. Ivy Bridge supports DMI 2. Ivy Bridge looks to eliminate the ability of an attacker to exploit a flaw through implementation of SMEP in the CPU. “The typical user. An application with access restricted to an outer ring cannot access the inner rings. while an application assigned Level 3 will have only the most basic permissions. of course. improving the overall powerperformance equation. and design rules when trying to implement a new manufacturing process. SMEP should better guard against EoP attacks.” Bustamante s a y s . DVI. labeled as “K” chips. where applications that are unknown will be unable to operate in supervisor mode or gain access to key areas of the OS. You can think of the permission levels like rings. Intel’s Ivy Bridge desktop platform marketing manager. Intel is using its new 3D Tri-Gate technology in the 22nm transistors.planners to introduce new architectural innovation geared at improving the system performance and adding new functionality. The application with access to the innermost ring also has access to any rings surrounding it.” says Galo Bustamante. the PCH can support a variety of display output formats. each application in the system is assigned a level of permission. An application assigned Level 0 will have all permissions.” Overclocking will be possible with unlocked chips. Bustamante says. However. 1. which is why companies like Intel must carefully plan for the transition over several years.” Bustamante says. including DisplayPort. Additionally. “Transitioning to smaller process technology requires considerable attention to myriad design and manufacturability details. When using SMEP. HDMI. as shown here.16 billion. and the chip offers a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 2GBps in each direction.4 billion vs. making the change is not an easy process. with no access to the operating system kernel or operating system services. FDI is a proprietary Intel technology that carries data for the display to the PCH. Through the three digital ports. but Bustamante says it will have a die size of about 160mm 2 .” ■ Source: Intel Ivy Bridge Display Options The Ivy Bridge processor has a built-in display engine.0 for discrete graphics cards. what Intel calls a flag or level. The attacker then is able to control the system by gaining privileges he isn’t normally entitled to have. The processor communicates with the platform controller hub via the Flexible Display Interface channels. Bustamante says designers must take into account things such as gate voltages.0 (Direct Media Interface). There’s also support for VGA displays built into the PCH.G a t e t e c h n o l o g y tackles many of the considerations and enables much better transistor performance at low voltage operating points. With this. and sVDO. “Attack applications will generate exceptions to be handled by the operating system. which Intel calls OS Guard Technology. Although there are many advantages to shrinking the manufacturing process. if using an operating system that takes advantage of [SMEP]. as well. or about 26% smaller than Sandy Bridge’s 216mm 2. will see no performance impact to benign applications. “ 3 D Tr i . Ivy Bridge chips can provide protection against EoP (Escalation of Privilege) attacks.

including four built-in USB 3. Using the multiple-fin Tri-Gate design. planar transistor because it makes use of one or more fins. Ivy Bridge will also be compatible with 6-Series motherboards. In this case. Ivy Bridge CPUs are compatible w i t h In t e l’s LG A 1 1 5 5 p r o c e s s o r socket. which is important in allowing Tri-Gate processors to potentially work well in mobile devices. p owe r. ■ 3D Tri-Gate Technology The 3D Tri-Gate transistor works differently from a traditional. Intel released its 7-Series (formerly code-named Panther Point) chipsets alongside Ivy Bridge. The initial Ivy Bridge offerings will only involve quad-core processors. “Intel has continually modified and improved the ability to issue and retire more and more uOps per cycle. We should see dualcore and mobile. too.com . thanks to the new architecture. Me m o r y. they’ll be quad-core chips with a shared L3 cache area. though. The integrated processor graphics will also use the L3 cache. Ivy Bridge CPUs are known as 3rd Generation Intel Core processors. In Ivy Bridge. just like Sandy Bridge. Because the control of the electrical current is better with Tri-Gate.) ■ Source: Intel Ivy Bridge Processor Die The new processors based on Ivy Bridge will continue to carry the Core brand name.w i d e f ro n t e n d i n Iv y Bridge continues to work with both x86 instructions and dedicated uOp instructions. Sandy Bridge! Some aspects of the Ivy Bridge a rc h i t e c t u re re m a i n t h e s a m e a s what’s found in Sandy Bridge chips. “All non-K versions of 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors have a limited unlocked m u l t i p l i e r. it’s a pretty loud release.” he says.0 ports and 16 PCI-E 3. its transistors can use less power than planar transistors. With the fin.0 lanes. (For more information on 3D Tri-Gate Technology. A Loud Tick Generally. see page 52 in the August 2011 issue of CPU. and an Ivy Bridge-Panther Point platform will give builders access to the most features. when Intel brings a Tock chip to market on its CPU schedule. ■ Source: Intel 54 June 2012 / www. Ivy Bridge is sure to make plenty of noise. focusing on both raw parallel capabilities and microarchitectural improvements. Initially. low-power CPUs using Ivy Bridge by June.computerpoweruser. a n d graphics are fully unlocked.” Thanks For The Assist. That said. and you might have to strain a bit to hear the release of a Tick. as long as the proper BIOS support is added. The uOp cache is exactly the same in Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. other than the fact that Ivy Bridge is slightly better enabled to handle single threads.” Bustamante says. T h e f o u r . the transistor’s gate makes contact with the conducting channel on three sides. as well as mainstream chips with a single fin. and all will have a similar basic architecture. Intel will be able to offer high-end CPUs that feature a mixture of high-performance transistors with multiple fins. In keeping with Intel’s recent naming scheme. uOp scheduling is the same. Ticks often are accompanied by a little less fanfare.impacting other system components.

.

.

.

In that time. Both AMD and NVIDIA made the transition from 40nm to 28nm. Highlights of the flagship GPU include a AMD’s Southern Islands Vacation AMD unveiled the first of the Southern Islands family of GPUs. in 58 June 2012 / www. To give you an idea how far AMD has come from Cayman (Radeon HD 6900). and we’ve already witnessed the opening salvos of what could shape up to be another price war.IT ’S BEEN SIX MONTHS SINCE WE LAST LOOKED at the state of the graphics card industry.703 TFLOPs of compute power out of the Radeon HD 6970’s 389mm 2 die. each launched a flagship graphics card.computerpoweruser. late December 2011. AMD designed these new cards to more aggressively cr unch parallel processes and GPGPU workloads. there have been a surprising number of developments.789 TFLOPs of compute power for a more than 150% raw compute performance improvement per square millimeter. consider that AMD got 2. the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950. Like the original Fermi (GF100) from NVIDIA. When they arrived two weeks later. but AMD has achieved 3.com . the Tahiti-codenamed GPUs became the first to showcase AMD’s new GCN (Graphic Core Next) compute architecture. Tahiti has a die that isn’t much smaller at 352mm 2.

think of it as Earfinity for your monitors’ speakers. who should buy.384-bit memory bus (Northern Islands GPUs peaked at a 256-bit memory bus). Highlights of the new card include PCI-E 3.0 support. The GTX 690 boasts 3. The new family also supports AMD’s Discrete Digital Multi-Point Audio. Kepler has 3. NVIDIA broke its silence with the launch of its new GPU. and interface specs. NVIDIA further shook things up as we went to press with the announcement of the GeForce GTX 690.0. 7570. 7470. ■ CPU / June 2012 59 . the GTX 690 drops two GK104 GPUs on a single board. these cards may have seen more than OEM-only attention. improved PowerTune technology for more efficient idle and load thermal performance. The Green Team let AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series debut without an answer. In years past. You may have noticed that the codename for the GTX 680 is GK104. which were the GPUs in the GTX 560 and GTX 460. 3GB GDDR5. which is downright tiny compared to the GPU under the hood of AMD’s flagship Radeon HD 7970. and laser-etched LED lighting. the Kepler GPU is giving AMD’s ace a serious run for the money. which lets you configure your monitors with built-in speakers to handle independent audio streams for a more immersive listening experience. GTX 680 owners can now enjoy three-way NVIDIA Surround 3D without SLI. available ports. but the OEM-only 7670. too. and 7350 were little more than rebrands. but the growing performance of on-die GPUs from AMD and Intel are really making their presence felt on this end of the market. Prices marked with an asterisk (*) were current online prices at the time of this writing. AMD dropped the prices of the 7900s and 7700s and threw in a (temporary) free game bundle to further sweeten the deal. NVIDIA has made a deliberate shift to a smaller GPU. It looks like a stunner. This card also only requires a pair of six-pin PCI-E power connectors to run. as well as 4GB of GDDR5.072 CUDA cores. In fact. Scheduled to be available for a cool $999 by the time most of you read this. magnesium fan housing. only with one graphics card. with a plated aluminum frame.5 billion transistors and is manufactured on the same 28nm process as AMD’s new GPUs. which theoretically means you can get the performance of two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI. still manufactured at 40nm. With this launch. AMD went on to flesh out the Southern Islands family in February (Radeon HD 7750 and 7770) and March (7850 and 7870). in the guise of the GeForce GTX 680. NVIDIA Answers With Kepler It was very quiet in Santa Clara at the end of 2011. No Time Like The Present Oh yeah. it sounds like even at its smaller size. polycarbonate windows. along with a few words on why they’re worth your money. Kepler. Then in late March. Read on for our updated Video Card Buyer’s Guide. Although we have yet to get our hands on a GeForce GTX 680 (supply was very tight as we went to press). where you’ll find tons of cards priced to move. now’s a great time to buy a new graphics card. 7450. as well as memory. The die in the GTX 680 is 294mm 2 . and PCI-E 3. respectively. which follows the naming scheme of the GF114 and GF104. Purevideo VP5 hardware acceleration. four-way multimonitor 2D support.

which enables the GPU to process up to 950 million triangles per second.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI.5GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2.137MHz base and boost clocks. respectively. DisplayPort.VIDEO CARD NVIDIA Quadro 5000 $2.computerpoweruser. Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. ambitious overclockers can confidently push this GTX 680 even further.006MHz and 1.us Why You’ll Dig it: For its NVIDIA-based behemoth. SLI Mosaic Technology. Other features include NVIDIA Multi-OS Technology. NVIDIA CUDA Architecture. GIGABYTE turned to its WINDFORCE cooler and a “Triangle Cool” Technology configuration to keep the GeForce GTX 680 quiet and quick. The 2. We also like the GTX 680’s support for tri. Dual DisplayPort.0 x16 Ports: DVI.5GB of GDDR5 can also handle 120GBps memory bandwidth. and NVIEW Display Management Software. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE 60 June 2012 / www. making it ideal for high-performance 3D workloads. Memory: 2. With the collection of Ultra Durable VGA components on this card handling power delivery.and quaddisplay multimonitor gaming without SLI. but GIGABYTE blew those out of the water with 1. Who Should Apply: This card is perfect for gamers who want enough graphics horsepower to run the games of today and tomorrow with buttery smooth frame rates and tons of eye-pleasing extras enabled.99 www.nvidia.com Why You’ll Dig It: The Quadro 5000 features NVIDIA’s new Scalable Geometry Engine technology. SDI option.058MHz. The stock GeForce GTX 680 has base and boost clocks set at 1. Stereo BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 680 (GV-N680OC-2GD) $524.071MHz and 1.gigabyte. G-Sync option. SLI frame rendering support. This dual-slot workstation card features 352 CUDA cores capable of pumping out 718 GFLOPs single precision and 359GFLOPs double precision raw compute power.com .249 www. Who Should Apply: Professionals looking to supercharge their graphics-intensive applications will be pleased with the performance and feature set of this card.

msi. ferrite-core chokes. Dual Mini DisplayPort. The 1.400MHz memory clocks are impressive. Other features include Digital PWM Controller. which uses three large fans with an antiturbulence structure in a new triangle pattern.gigabyte.VIDEO CARD MSI R7970 Lightning $519. and MSI’s Military Class III Components. to let you push the clocks higher while maintaining consistent and efficient power delivery to the parts that need it. largely thanks to GIGABYTE’s exclusive “Triangle Cool” Technology-infused WINDFORCE cooler. Eyefinity enthusiasts will also get great results with this Radeon HD 7970. solid capacitors. as is the Twin Frozr IV cooler.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI.070MHz core and 1. Four Mini DisplayPort BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD GIGABYTE Radeon HD 7970 (GV-R797OC-3GD) $499.99* us. and more. Enhanced Power Design.us Why You’ll Dig It: GIGABYTE’s overclocked take on the Radeon HD 7970 pushes the core clock up 75MHz from the stock setting. Who Should Apply: This card is ideal for serious gamers and 3D application enthusiasts who want the best this generation has to offer. including a 2-ounce copper PCB. We also like that MSI lets you unlock all protections and add your own extreme overclock. Memory: 3GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. Who Should Apply: Gamers and graphics professionals will find more than a few things to love about this card.0 x16 Ports: DVI. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 61 .com Why You’ll Dig It: The Radeon HD 7970 is already a beast in the latest DX11 games and 3D applications.99* www. This graphics card also features Ultra Durable VGA components. Memory: 3GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. but MSI goes above and beyond the call of duty with this overclocked card. which is designed to eliminate dust buildup and keep the card running fast and cool.

ZOTAC’s lifetime warranty for enthusiast and performance graphics cards is available when you register at ZOTAC’s U. and just about everything we loved about that card is here on the XFX Double D HD 7950. website within 30 days of purchase.S. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. DisplayPort. and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations) is bundled with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 graphics card. Who Should Apply: Gaming enthusiasts will get the most out of their games with this card. Dual Mini DisplayPort.com Why You’ll Dig It: Our first glimpse of the Radeon HD 7970 came from XFX (see the April issue of CPU.computerpoweruser. two ounces of copper in the PCB.0 x16 Ports: DVI. including solid capacitors.99 www. and the XFX-logoed bracket. ferrite core chokes. Who Should Apply: Serious gamers who want a compelling and quiet gaming experience will love this card.zotacsua.VIDEO CARD ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 $499. on page 17). HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD XFX Double D HD 7950 (FX-795A-TDFC) $398.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI. Although this card comes with stock core (800MHz) and memory (1. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE 62 June 2012 / www. Memory: 3GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. A new Assassin’s Creed 3-Game pack (Assassin’s Creed. DYI overclockers will also find it has plenty of core clock headroom.xfxforce. NVIDIA Surround technology enables you to have an unmatched immersive gaming experience with a single ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 graphics card and three displays. New NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync technology adapts the monitor’s vertical sync dynamically to current frame rates for maximum gaming smoothness and playability.com Why You’ll Dig It: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 raises the performance bar with NVIDIA’s new GPU boost technology that maximizes clock speeds on the fly for maximum performance in every gaming scenario. Other features include XFactor components.250MHz) clocks.com . Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. the Double Dissipation cooler is ample enough to support some significant overclocks for willing tweakers. dust-free IP-5X fans.99* www.

.

99* www. The bundled Gamer OSD tool also makes on-the-fly overclocking easy enough for beginners to try.VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 GHz Edition (AX7870 2GBD5-2DHPP) $349. it can pull heat away from the GPU more efficiently than a stock 570. DisplayPort. and single-monitor gamers won’t be disappointed. and 15% quieter than the stock card. 10% cooler. 35 degrees Celsius cooler operation. Memory: 1. Out of the box. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE 64 June 2012 / www. Dual Mini DisplayPort. Who Should Apply: Gamers who want a fast card with a cooler that can handle being pushed to its limits will want to check out this tri-slot GTX 570.com . Even so. A large 92mm fan is also capable of pulling 60% more air across the fins than a standard 80mm fan.com Why You’ll Dig It: When we think triple-slot graphics cards.computerpoweruser. Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. hence the “GHz Edition” moniker. ASUS’ Super Alloy Power components streamline power delivery for better performance. But PowerColor takes things a step further in this PCS+ version by kicking the core clock up another 100MHz. either. this GeForce GTX 570 has an overclocked core set at 742MHz.280MB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2. HDMI VIDEO CARD ASUS ENGTX570 DCII/2DIS/1280MD5 $314.asus.powercolor.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI. ASUS is the board maker that immediately comes to mind.000MHz core clock. and the potential for a significantly longer lifespan.com Why You’ll Dig It: The PowerColor PCS+ HD7870 GHz Edition is based on the Pitcairn GPU that has a stock 1. more stable overclocking.99* usa. Who Should Apply: Gamers with an affinity for Eyefinity will be impressed with this card. PowerColor’s design makes the card 15% more stable. ASUS reports its GTX 570 is 20% cooler thanks to the DirectCU II fansink. The card is capable of such impressive clocks thanks to the advanced cooler that uses three heatpipes that come in direct contact with the GPU. and it’s because of cards like this one. The memory clock also gets a 25MHz boost for good measure.

Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. or you can push the core clock to new heights for even better performance.com Why You’ll Dig It: Although it’s based on the 40nm Fermi instead of the 28nm Kepler used in the GTX 680. Memory: 2GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2. And like the rest of the Radeon HD 7000 series cards. The 822MHz core and 1. This card also has a large 2GB GDDR5 frame buffer for handling HD textures and all your multimedia needs. Like many other cards here. which makes this card more energyefficient and reliable. We also like that the largely enclosed heatsink shroud forces the heat from the GPU out the back of the card.sparkletw. has four heatpipes to more quickly evacuate heat from the GPU’s surface.0. this card supports AMD’s Eyefinity 2. Who Should Apply: Gamers looking to replace an older graphics card will find a world of difference in the games they play when running on this card. this card features solid capacitors and chokes and a Dynamic Phase Control PWM.002MHz memory clocks are ample for running modern games and 3D applications at medium and high resolutions.28* www. Who Should Apply: This card strikes an excellent balance between gaming power and affordability that serious gamers can’t ignore. and only generates 28dB when idle. Dual Mini DisplayPort. the GTX 560 is still an impressive graphics card that lets you push the effects all the way up in most current games. Mini HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 65 . This card’s cooler features a 92mm silent fan.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD Sparkle GTX 560–OC/2G (SXX5602048D5SMH) $251.0 x16 Ports: DVI.hisdigital.VIDEO CARD HIS 7850 IceQ X (H785QN2G2M) $279.com Why You’ll Dig It: What can you do with a stock-clocked card with an aftermarket cooler like Hightech Information System’s IceQ X? The option is yours to leave the card as is and enjoy years of stable and quiet gaming.99* www.

com Why You’ll Dig It: ECS may not be known for its aftermarket coolers. that is just fine by us.visiontek. Who Should Apply: Gamers who want a solid experience but don’t want to take out a second mortgage will find this Radeon HD 6850 more than capable for the price. This GeForce GTX 560Ti comes with the stock cooler. considering the price of this card. and stock memory clock (1.com .computerpoweruser. but they’re currently selling for dramatically less than their launch prices and still deftly handle modern games. Although there isn’t much in the way of extras available on and with this card.99* www.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI.1 x16 Ports: Dual DVI.99* www. the price is definitely right. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2. Mini HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 (900339) $174. Who Should Apply: This card is ideal for gamers who don’t have supplemental GPU cooling on their case or those looking for a powerful SLI setup on the cheap. Two of these in SLI will be able to handle anything your throw at it. respectively. however. for an immersive 3D gaming experience.VIDEO CARD ECS GeForce GTX 560Ti (NGTX560TI-1GPI-F) $209. This card features a fully enclosed heatsink with a large central fan. stock core clock (820MHz). The benefit of an all-stock configuration is the completely enclosed heatsink shroud.000MHz. may not have the cachet that the new ones do. DisplayPort. which ensures that little to no excess heat escapes and raises the overall case temperature. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE 66 June 2012 / www.000MHz).ecsusa. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2.com Why You’ll Dig It: AMD’s last generation of GPUs. the Radeon HD 6000s. and you get the benefit of NVIDIA’s 3D Vision Surround. The core and memory clocks are set to 775MHz and 1.

.

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview enables three simultaneous independent displays from a pair of HDMI outputs combined with dual-link DVI or DisplayPort outputs—a ZOTAC exclusive feature—from a single graphics processor. Dual HDMI. Like the other XFX card here. so multi-GPU gaming is well within reach. which consists of a pair of dustfree IP-5X fans and Ghost Thermal Technology. Dual Mini DisplayPort. Who should apply: Gamers who want the latest features from AMD’s new 28nm GPU. for better than stock performance in games and 3D rendering workloads. NVIDIA SLI readiness enables two ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview graphics cards to work together and deliver up to twice the performance of a single card for the ultimate gaming experience. 2-ounce copper PCB. this card boasts XFX’s Double D cooler. NVIDIA PhysX technology takes realism to another level for unprecedented immersion. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 2.xfxforce. including solid-state capacitors.300MHz memory clock. but tend to game at medium resolutions.computerpoweruser.0 x16 Ports: Dual DVI. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3.VIDEO CARD XFX HD 7770 Super Overclock (FX-777A-ZDSC) $159.zotacusa. which ensures a quiet but powerful gaming experience. Here too are the XFactor components.120MHz core clock and a 1.com Why You’ll Dig It: Embrace triple-monitor computing with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview graphics card. This Super Overclocked card comes with a 1.0 x16 Ports: DVI.99 www.com Why You’ll Dig It: Like the Radeon HD 7950 from XFX we already looked at in this buyer’s guide. Who Should Apply: Performance enthusiasts who need triple-monitor computing from a single card. and the XFX bracket design. DisplayPort BUYER’S GUIDE 68 June 2012 / www.com . HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD ZOTAC GeForce GTX 550 Ti Multiview $145.99 www. this one is fully CrossFire-ready.

sapphiretech. The card also has a dual-link DVI port for running with legacy non-DisplayPort monitors.com Why You’ll Dig It: The AMD FirePro V3900 is a professional graphics card designed to handle the 2D and 3D rendering in a variety of workloads. DisplayPort BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 69 .0 x16 Ports: DVI. Fans of silent should look no further than the SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE HD 7750.2 multistreaming technology. the SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE HD 7750 is perfect for HTPC enthusiasts who want to enjoy gaming on the big screen. so it’s truly silent. Who Should Apply: Although it’s a full-sized dual-slot card that may not fit in very small or low-profile cases. HDMI BUYER’S GUIDE VIDEO CARD AMD FirePro V3900 $119. Graphics professionals who perform medium.com Why You’ll Dig It: Anytime you read about a silent cooling technology. there’s no fan on this card. Memory: 1GB DDR3 Interface: PCI-E 2. The FirePro V3900 also supports up to five display devices using AMD Eyefinity multimonitor technology and the DisplayPort 1. The large passive heatsink consists of multiple heatpipes intersecting a complex network of aluminum fins.to light-duty design work will appreciate the large 1GB DDR3 frame buffer. Who Should Apply: Graphics professionals who perform medium to light design work and those who need to drive multiple monitors for 2D applications.99* www.1 x16 Ports: DVI. According to SAPPHIRE. it’s the first card in this generation to use a passive heatpipe and heatsink cooler. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3.VIDEO CARD SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE HD 7750 (11202-03-40G) $124.amd. just mentally replace the word “silent” with the phrase “really quiet.” But that’s not the case here. DisplayPort.99* www. The card’s low-profile design also makes it easy to fit in workstations of any size.

A pair of DMS-59 ports on the back connect to the two DMS59-to-dual DVI adapters to support four DVI monitors.99* www.com These days. The single-slot card is also compact enough to fit in cramped cases and space-limited workstations. 2D applications run fast and flawlessly on this card. Although it doesn’t have the muscle to power four displays in games.99* www. The large 1GB GDDR5 frame buffer is another feature you’ll like on this graphics card. This card has an 800MHz core clock and 1. DisplayPort. Memory: 1GB GDDR5 Interface: PCI-E 3. This card features an 810MHz core clock and a 500MHz memory clock. Who should apply: Gamers on a budget who want a taste of the latest technology from AMD should check out this affordable option from Diamond Multimedia. HDMI VIDEO CARD GALAXY MDT GeForce GT520 $116. even in modern games.computerpoweruser.0 x16 Ports: Dual DMS-59 ports (Four DVI) BUYER’S GUIDE 70 June 2012 / www.diamondmm. but if you’d rather not toss out your current processor and motherboard.galaxytechus.com Why we dig it: When you think multimonitor graphics cards. you probably tend to think of AMD. then check out the Radeon HD 7750 from Diamond Multimedia.125MHz memory clock.VIDEO CARD BUYER’S GUIDE Diamond Multimedia AMD Radeon HD 7750 (7750PE51G) $119. gamers on a budget can get some pretty decent performance out of their CPU’s integrated graphics.com . which is more than enough to produce playable frame rates at medium resolutions. Who should apply: This card is perfect for professionals who work in industries that require multiscreen viewing of several applications at once. But this NVIDIA-based card from GALAXY was specially designed to support up to four displays. Memory: 1GB DDR3 Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16 Ports: DVI.

.

there’s something to be said about going boutique. Likewise. just as custom as something we could build. very expensive light bulb. there’s something almost viscerally satisfying about creating a truly custom PC yourself. We have to be honest: It’s a compelling proposition. Some have the power to build a truly one-of-a-kind system. you know that we’re big believers in DIY. A lot of pro shops can paint and wire like it’s their job . boutique systems are even more custom than most DIY “custom” PCs. your stay will be a short one if you can’t offer enthusiasts the latest and greatest. but once you know what goes where. Yes. by and large. PC boutiques know this as well as anyone. . Why do you think the car enthusiast comparisons flow so frequently on these pages? Our systems are our hot rods. However. From buying parts to making precision mods. swapping PC parts is not so different from replacing a light bulb—a very. The fact of the matter is that most enthusiasts have never touched a spray gun and couldn’t re-wrap their PSU wiring if their lives depended on it. . For starters. keeping both those things in mind. DESPITE WHAT OUR FAMILIES insist. and so they’re all stocked with the best 72 June 2012 / www. because it’s their job. there’s a learning curve. In some cases. Now Playing At A Boutique Near You In this cutthroat business.BUILDING A PC IS EASY. you don’t need to belong to a secret order of technowizards or hold an advanced degree from MIT to assemble a cutting-edge rig.com . Whether you’ve been a CPU reader for 10 years or 10 minutes. the builder frequently backs any performance modding with a nice little warranty. although many hardware makers have taken incredible strides to make overclocking and performance tuning more accessible than ever.computerpoweruser. But when you enlist the services of a boutique. inside and out. these builders’ systems are. tailored to your every whim and fancy. Many boutiques go beyond even standard extras. really pushing a homebrew PC to its limits is as warranty-voiding as ever.

as are graphics cards based on the latest GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA.components money can buy. if you want). Have a look at the arsenals of these top PC mercenaries. and therefore the price. and so many other premium offerings. but rest assured that all of them have a wide selection of systems. wicked-fast SSDs (in RAID 0. Most of the systems we selected for this guide tend to be each boutique’s flagship model. Because these are custom systems. the parts. All configurations listed were available at the time of this writing. ■ CPU / June 2012 73 . think of the systems featured here as a starting point rather than a final destination. Finally. Intel’s biggest Bridge (that would be Sandy Bridge-E) and bunch of Bulldozers from AMD (in the form of its reborn FX line of CPUs) are available. could differ wildly from what you configure.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: ATX full tower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x. Who Should Apply: The Mach V ICON2’s GTX 680 tag team will stand up to whatever game you throw at it. and this one has a lot of muscle. This makes the Mach V ICON2 suited for everything from Battlefield 3 to FIFA. the Raptor Signature Edition will serve you well with the current crop of demanding titles.GAMING PC Falcon Northwest Mach V ICON2 $5.079 www. If you want proof of what sort of masterpieces Falcon’s artists are painting on their “canvases. Operating out of the Pacific Northwest for two decades. Who Should Apply: Thanks to an EVGA GeForce GTX 680. Falcon continually strives to produce custom gaming PCs that push the envelope in terms of performance and aesthetics.448 www. This monster also features Velocity Micro’s LiquiCool 6 Fluid Cooling System.com/falcon-gallery). Intel’s Core i7-3960X is still king of the desktop CPU hill. The house that Randy (Copeland) built has been churning out custom rigs for a decade and a half (and for two decades if you count the time Copeland was building high-end CAD machines before Velocity Micro’s founding in 1997).com Why You’ll Dig It: Velocity Micro is another pillar of the boutique community. and it’s strapped to ASUS’ very impressive P9X79 Deluxe motherboard.com .” check out the company’s gallery (www. The Raptor Signature Edition is Velocity Micro’s flagship system.computerpoweruser. and put in you good shape for the future. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition $5. (Crysis 3. plus some truly out-of-this-world paint jobs. The boutique has just about every hardware configuration you can imagine at its disposal (our Mach V ICON2 has Intel’s top-of-the-line CPU and two of NVIDIA’s flagship graphics cards. anyone?) CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 680 BUYER’S GUIDE 74 June 2012 / www.com Why You’ll Dig It: Falcon Northwest is one of the original birds of prey in the boutique PC space.velocitymicro.falcon-nw.falcon-nw. encouraging you to overclock your little heart out. such as Metro 2033. for example).

GAMING PC Digital Storm Aventum $5. a 120GB Corsair Force Series GT OS drive. but this custom machine also comes with goodies outside of the chassis.digitalstormonline. the Aventum is the machine for you. ASUS SABERTOOTH X79 motherboard. an ASUS Rampage IV Formula motherboard. and system specifications. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC Geekbox Ego X79 3D Vision 2 $4. it’s ASUS’ VG278H. Who Should Apply: The Aventum’s graphics subsystem is ideal for intense RTS titles with a lot of units displayed at once or for toptier FPS games at high-resolutions and maximized visual effects. The right side panel even has a small display module that shows coolant temps. (You also get a pair of NVIDIA 3D Vision glasses with this package. such as Maniacal Metallic White or Ferrari Black. And speaking of premium parts. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 75 .com Why You’ll Dig It: Think of this as an all-in-one adventure kit for 3D gaming. CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor: ATX full tower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x. CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: E-ATX midtower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x. In this instance.050 www.977 www. There’s a lot of choice hardware (Intel’s Core i7-3960X. thermal zone temps. a 27-inch.geekbox. Corsair Pro Gold Series 1. Who Should Apply: Anyone who’s fully committed to 3D gaming will find that the Ego X79 3D Vision 2 will set them up to take on any game in glorious 3D. LED-backlit. If you obsess over the thermals of your premium parts.com Why You’ll Dig It: Digital Storm has declared war on system heat and has appointed its ARES (Automatic Response to Excess-Heat System) as its champion. the Aventum has a Core i7-3930K. 3D LCD.200W PSU.) You can give the Ego a cool look with one of Geekbox’s existing paint jobs. ARES uses a host of thermal probes to gather real-time temperature readings and uses those readings to adjust the performance of the Aventum’s 13 chassis fans on the fly. and two GeForce GTX 680s. or give Geekbox a ring (888-GEEKBOX) to discuss a custom color of your own. and two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680s) crammed into this geeky box.

Beyond that. thanks to the AZZA Fusion 4000 chassis. In fact.computerpoweruser. an overclock of at least 30%. the Fusion 4000 is a tower among towers. too. which CyberPower gives its Ultimate OC treatment. and is filled with high-end hardware. it’s simply a monster. a 1kW Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 80 PSU. The Fang III Black Mamba does solid state right. Who Should Apply: Thanks to the tandem of 680s. but it’s rare to have a custom machine that can be a “dual-system” system.7x10. even though the Fang III Black Mamba is already dressed to the nines with amazing hardware. Standing at 30. file compression. 16GB of DDR3-1600. (So many highend rigs have lots of “dual” components. it has plenty of room to grow. Returning to that AZZA case. and other CPU-intensive tasks. You get a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-3960X.cyberpowerpc. CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: E-ATX full tower Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Hydro Copper (2x.2x24 inches (HxWxD). a pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Hydro Copper in SLI. free of charge. gamers who play demanding FPS titles like Crysis or Metro 2033 will be very satisfied with the Fang III Black Mamba’s firepower. in this case. and an LG Blu-ray burner.) In short. the bottom portion of the chassis supports a standard system. The liquid coolant coursing through the Fang III Black Mamba’s veins also flows through the graphics subsystem. while the top portion can house a Mini-ITX-based system.GAMING PC CyberPowerPC Fang III Black Mamba $4. CyberPower also includes a 2TB HDD for your mass storage needs. and you have a sinister system with potent fangs. Throw in an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard. the Fang III Black Mamba’s mighty Core i7-3960X makes this system ideal for gamers who are also serious about video editing.com .695 www. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE 76 June 2012 / www.com Why You’ll Dig It: This mighty machine stands tall. using two 120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSDs in RAID 0 as a boot drive that’s big enough for your OS and a lot of games.

683. but the hometown isn’t really what matters. in case you need a little more heavy artillery for your graphics subsystem.pugetsystems. And trust us. while exceptional by most standards.originpc. Who Should Apply: If you’re interested in custom liquid-cooling but don’t want to get your hands wet to get the look. Puget Systems hails from the suburbs of Seattle. which you can and should load up with your most frequently played games. This is also a downright solid machine. Puget also has multiple SLI and CrossFire options. and an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard. It also has a 120GB Intel SSD 520. the hardware in this Genesis. dual 240GB Intel SSD 520s in RAID 0. with a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-3930K and AMD Radeon HD 7970. This Genesis has dual Radeon HD 7970s. RTS pros who regularly manage massive numbers of units will find that the Genesis provides a fluid experience. represents only a fraction of the awesome Origin is able to pack within the confines of a PC case. the sky’s the limit. CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor: E-ATX full tower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x. Intel’s Core i7-3930K. it’s hard to beat the Deluge 2.677 www. The boutique frequently receives rave reviews from its customers about the level of personal contact and support they receive from Puget throughout the life of their system.67 www. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 77 . CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7970 BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC Origin PC Genesis $4. Who Should Apply: Although the duo of 7970s will no doubt appeal to FPS gamers who play titles notorious for crushing GPUs. with its unlocked multiplier.GAMING PC Puget Systems Deluge L2 $4.com Why You’ll Dig It: Remember the Big O? (See page 70 in the October 2010 issue if you don’t. If you long for more.) The same people who created that monstrosity have been building Genesis rigs for quite some time now. as well. What matters is that Puget builds solid enthusiast systems and puts an emphasis on customer service. provided you have the imagination and a bank account to match.com Why You’ll Dig It: There must be something about the Pacific Northwest that brings out the boutique builders. awaits your overclocking endeavors.

so the system looks as intimidating as it performs. Army.916 www. and its installed in MSI’s X79A-GD65 mobo. Stealth Machines installed everything in Corsair’s Obsidian Series 650D. Elsewhere.2GHz Intel Core i7-3930K. and others.79 www. a pair of SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970s in CrossFire and Intel’s Core i7-3960X are the headlining acts.com .S. too. this Shadow sports two XFX Double D HD 7950s running in CrossFire. Who Should Apply: AMD’s flagship Radeon HD 7970 takes no prisoners. so we’d like to think you’ll be in pretty good hands if you tap them to build you a Custom Gaming PC. CrossFire) BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC StealthMachines Shadow $3.com Why You’ll Dig It: Stealth Machines delivers the goods. The components in this particular Custom Gaming PC are second to none. You also get a heaping helping of Corsair components. with a little help from the likes of Intel.avadirect. a Hydro Series H100 closed-loop CPU liquid-cooler. and probably at extreme resolutions and quality settings. with 32GB of Vengeance LP PC3-12800 DDR3. and the menacing Obsidian Series 800D full tower. CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: E-ATX full tower Graphics: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970 (2x. Who Should Apply: XFX’s Double D HD 7950 is on double duty here. CrossFire) BUYER’S GUIDE 78 June 2012 / www. XFX. serving clients ranging from Lockheed Martin to the U.stealthmachines.GAMING PC AVADirect Custom Gaming PC $4. Corsair. as well as a 120GB Intel SSD 520 boot drive and a massive 3TB Seagate Barracuda. The heart of the Shadow is a 3. We can safely say that the pair of SAPPHIRE 7970s in the Custom Gaming PC can handle every game out there. naturally.612. or if you want to take advantage of games that offer impressive visuals when DX11 is enabled CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: XFX Double D HD 7950 (2x.computerpoweruser. which should help you pull down some sweet frame rates if you’re running a lush game such as Kingdoms of Amalur at high quality settings. too.com Why You’ll Dig It: AVADirect has built quite an impressive résumé.

.

Who Should Apply: A single Fermi is still a formidable force.729.920 x 1. CPU Solutions also subjects the PC to a 24-hour burn in period to ensure that all of the components are on the up-and-up.2 inches wide and 12. Standing a mere 7.86 www.99 us. and more. Corsair’s Hydro Series H80 and an ASUS SABERTOOTH X79 motherboard are two more examples high-end hardware that’s front and center here.A. and a Blu-ray burner. If you roll with a 1.com Why You’ll Dig It: Shuttle’s H7 5800G Pro banishes the notion that a benchmarkingbusting rig needs to be of backbreaking proportions.shuttle. Battlefield 3. which is why Shuttle’s proprietary I.GAMING PC Shuttle H7 5800G Pro $3. the H7 5800G Pro is a superb SFF PC. 7 gaming mouse. CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: PNY GeForce GTX 580 BUYER’S GUIDE 80 June 2012 / www. you’ll find that the Core i7-3960X Extreme Performance PC Socket 2011’s GeForce GTX 580 serves up great frame rates in AAA titles such as Skyrim.200 LCD. Of course. This gamer from CPU Solutions comes with some dynamite peripherals. Who Should Apply: LAN party gamers will fall in love with the H7 5800G Pro’s portability. CPU: Intel Core i7-990X Form factor: Custom small form factor Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC CPU Solutions Core i7-3960X Extreme Performance PC Socket 2011 $3.5 inches short (plus 8. the H7 5800G Pro is a powerhouse you can practically fit in your backpack.822.com . putting a freaky fast Core i7-990X and NVIDIA’s previous generation flagship GeForce GTX 580 into such a small frame is bound to generate a lot of heat.C. With 16GB of DDR3-1600. Another big plus in this system is a wicked-fast OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2—240GB of PCI-E solid-state storage to boot Windows and load games in a flash. a 256GB 6Gbps SATA SSD. especially because its arsenal is easily as lethal as many full tower systems.computerpoweruser.T. Evo cooler is just what the H7 5800G Pro needs to avoid becoming a thermal disaster.E. the extras make all the difference. especially the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard and Cyber R.8 inches deep).com Why You’ll Dig It: Sometimes.cpusolutions.

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision is the tech of choice for the Avenger 3DS. the Avenger 3DS gives you everything you need but the games. The best part. unbox this beast.GAMING PC V3 Gaming Avenger 3DS $3. is that V3 Gaming ships the Avenger 3DS with an ASUS VG236H 23-inch widescreen 3D LCD. two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580s. though. by the way) can handle. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC Centaurus PC Shadowtrail Project Warlord $3. And for that.669 www. CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2x. and a Blu-ray burner. such as Diablo III and Max Payne 3. Have your favorite games ready. if you’re ready to take the 3D plunge.v3gamingpc. head to www. The latter is. so you can add some flash to your fast.com Why You’ll Dig It: Here’s another rig that’s equipped for 3D gaming right out of the box(es). a 128GB Crucial SSD. CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor ATX midtower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (2x. according to Centaurus. You’ll be more than prepared for this year’s big-time releases.nvidia. html to see the list of qualified 3D Vision games. SLI) BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 81 . and prepare for total immersion. Elsewhere a quad-core Intel Core i7-3820 and MSI’s X79A-GD45 combine to give you access to Intel’s latest and greatest enthusiast platform.centauruspc. Who Should Apply: Naturally. put on the glasses.com Why You’ll Dig It: Centaurus PC’s Shadowtrail systems come in two flavors: Project Rezzer and Project Warlord. Centaurus also offers a veritable rainbow of cold cathode lighting.” The Cooler Master HAF 922 is filled to the gills with enthusiasts’ favorite hardware.699 www. Who Should Apply: NVIDIA’s GF110 remains one of the powerful GPUs on the planet. and the system’s two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI will give you all the eye candy those 3D glasses (which are also included. the boutique’s “most upgradable desktop ever. including Intel’s new Core i7-3930K.com/object/3d-vision-games. so two of them together are going to give you great performance in games like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2x. Who Should Apply: The AMD Radeon HD 7870s in CrossFire are surprisingly peppy. and Antec’s KUHLER H20 920 keeps this war machine running cool enough that we selected the 25-35% PPC Overclock. Alienware sells a host of its own peripherals (keyboard. and the specialists and Performance PC are ready to do it. 3GB frame buffer. too. The card is custom-cooled and factoryoverclocked. making it one of the oldest boutique builders in the biz. so it invites gamers who are also tweakers.907 www. mouse. the systems Alienware builds maintain a distinct custom look. Plasma Purple. which let you create a completely cohesive setup. 3D-capable 23-inch display). Performance PC offers you a long list of optional components. Beyond that. CrossFire) BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC Performance Personal Computers Fenris $2. the ZOTAC AMP2! GeForce GTX 580 found in the Fenris is ideal for running games that cripple cards without sufficient VRAM for all the eye candy turned on at higher resolutions. and more). and you can further personalize it by choosing a color from Alienware’s broad palette (including Astral Aqua. CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics ZOTAC AMP2! GeForce GTX 580 BUYER’S GUIDE 82 June 2012 / www.net Why You’ll Dig It: Intel’s Core i7-3930K and its unlocked multiplier are ready for serious overclocking. Western Digital’s 1TB Caviar Green HDD.alienware. and 8 gigs of Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600.performancepc. and you’ll notice that the 2GB frame buffer in each of these cards will be especially helpful in games that are hungry for VRAM at higher display resolutions.GAMING PC Alienware Aurora $2.computerpoweruser. And although these extraterrestrials have serving on the Dell mothership for a few years. and you can call them (888-574-6342) to request additional hardware if you don’t see it available. which runs on a 384-bit bus. Elsewhere. the Fenris sports a 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD.com .149 www.com Why You’ll Dig It: Alienware has been around for over 15 years. and a beautiful. The Fenris suits up for battle inside Cooler Master’s HAF 932. Who Should Apply: Because of its meaty. The Aurora ALX chassis looks oh so nice.

One of the most recently introduced GPUs in AMD’s Southern Islands family. CyberPowerPC throws in its Extreme OC (which is a 20% minimum overclock) free of charge. know that iBUYPOWER lets you customize the Gamer Paladin D875 with an ample selection of alternate cases from the likes of Cooler Master. you’ll be in great shape. CPU: AMD FX-8150 Form factor: ATX full tower Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB BUYER’S GUIDE CPU / June 2012 83 . The Intel Core i7-3820. But if the LanBoy Air doesn’t strike your fancy the way it strikes ours. either. is front and center in this system of Olympian stature. Thanks to the included CyberPower Xtreme Hydro Liquid Cooling Kit. one of the most interesting and customizable cases around. the Zeus Lightning 3000 has an AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card. the 3. a single 7850 is just about perfect for RTS games.GAMING PC iBUYPOWER Gamer Paladin D875 $1.762 www. And if you’re a big fan of freebies. Thanks to the fact that most of the case is made up of perforated mini panels. Corsair. Who Should Apply: In its standard configuration. and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 form the foundation of a solid gamer. When StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm launches. CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 Form factor: ATX midtower Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 BUYER’S GUIDE GAMING PC CyberPowerPC Zeus Lightning 3000 $1.ibuypower. Thermaltake. the intrepid among you could always try to push the FX-8150 even higher.com Why You’ll Dig It: Recognize that chassis? It’s Antec’s LanBoy Air. but no worry. the LanBoy Air is an easy-breezy case that gives your components all the air cooling they need. NZXT. the Zeus Lightning 3000 qualified for free copies of DiRT 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution at the time of this writing.6Hz octo-core FX-8150.439 www.com Why You’ll Dig It: AMD’s top dog CPU.cyberpowerpc. Who Should Apply: There’s no SLI. GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3. The single 680 should let you battle in Battlefield 3 or war in Modern Warfare 3 giving you great frame rates on widescreen displays of any size. and more.

www.com . too. Cobian is not a disk imaging tool. but we hope that’s just because we’re playing with prerelease code here. for documents. the 7z compression format is an option. Google+.net. and the latest beta of version 11 keeps building on greatness.com ETA: Q3 2012 Why you should care: Like a fine wine. or into a status update. showing you email. You can drag and drop images from your Picasa web album (for example) directly into an email.cobiansoft. If there’s a negative. nor is it a kind of “software RAID” that always checks for new files and then makes copies.it ETA: Q3 2012 Why you should care: There isn’t a better way to streamline all of your social media accounts. or send an email directly from the Compose button. They update automatically. potentially saving lots of time and effort. Cobian can make incremental. Use it to send backups to external or secondary drives. photos. and cloud services you use. It uses a good combination of wizard-like dialog boxes as well as drag-and-drop to make file selection. it’s that the beta is awfully slow to respond to mouse clicks. differential. Otherwise. or FTP sites. It runs in the background either as a standalone application or as a set of Windows services.Inside The World Of Betas Cobian Backup 11 Beta e’ve been recommending Cobian Backup since version 8. network drives.1 beta Publisher and URL: Zbang It. and how often you want it to make a backup. a Facebook feed. but its memory footprint is astonishingly small either way. meaning you can recover your files using W Cobian Backup 11 beta Publisher and URL: Luis Cobian. Cobian produces good old ZIP files. Staggering. but it also integrates them together in innovative ways. (Fear not—MultiMi only stores your personal info locally on your system. In other words. update your Facebook status. MultiMi’s home screen acts as a dashboard for these services. ■ 84 June 2012 / www. this is an app to watch.20. and you’ll be pleased with the results. Although the beta is basically the first for a brand-new version. www. or full backups. so we didn’t experience any glitches typically associated with beta releases. Once you let MultiMi log in to these services for you. Facebook. where you want the backed up files to go. box. LinkedIn. Instead.zbang. Google Calendar and Facebook’s Events for dates and events. webmail providers. the magic happens. and it can automatically keep a certain number of old backups on hand for versioning. MultiMi prompts you for your login information to lots of popular services. it’s more of a traditional backup tool: You tell it what files or folders you want it to back up. and IMAP/POP servers for email.1 S top and think about all the online services you rely on every day. Once installed. Cobian Backup has been around for years.computerpoweruser. isn’t it? MultiMi not only rounds up the litany of social networks. Google Docs.) It knows how to work with Gmail. and Google Talk and Facebook Chat for IM. and you local file system MultiMi 0. and Cobian does the rest. You can also tweet. Picasa and Flickr for images and photos (along with your social media accounts). and clicking something brings you to a specialized screen especially laid out for that content. ■ MultiMi 0. For the security-minded. Yahoo! Mail.20. Hotmail. Cobian also offers AES encryption. and events all at once. and Twitter for social media. scheduling remarkably simple and intuitive. YouTube for videos. any PC or Mac in the event of a disaster. exclusion. this great backup utility gets better with age. MultiMi is able to make connections between otherwise separate services and people.

.

com Driver Bay NVIDIA GeForce R300. adds numerous features. then you can see and choose to open tabs that are active on Chrome for your Android phone or laptop.8. 301. But more than that it also squashes a bug affecting external applications that use the “Edit In” function. support.computerpoweruser. better deleting of multiple messages. This fix addressed the possibility that Web visits still could be recorded in the browser history even when in Private Browsing mode. including the premium version. This release also fixes a media ordering problem when viewing iTunes library material on your Apple TV. calibre-ebook.apple. Real-time protection watches for potentially dangerous behavior going on in the background at all times.5 The update to Apple’s cross-platform browser improves stability in the Windows version. The app now supports viewing and converting the Haodoo PDB format. support.6. www. www.47 The versatile multi-format e-book reader and library management software now supports all named entities in the HTML5 spec when converting titles. Adaptive Vertical Sync enables vertical sync based on current frame rates. chrome.com 86 June 2012 / www.1. uninterrupted gaming.lavasoft.1 If Apple’s venerable player/library software tends to quit when playing videos.com Lightroom 4. The drivers have GPU Boost Technology.avg. If you are signed in to Chrome on one browser. And Frame Rate Target lets you set the ideal frame rate for your gameplay if the third-party software supports it. Meanwhile.4 version just a couple of weeks earlier. and auto-updates to ensure smoother.com Safari 5.com Office 2011 SP2 For OS X For the Mac user.com . www. WiFi Guard warns a user if her laptop is trying to connect to an unknown or previously unused network. The update also integrates better with VoiceOver and Window-Eyes interfaces so they properly describe the interface. support. Gamers get a special mode that suspends security alerts. Performance issues have been addressed. The Point Curve adjustments have been restored.10 The NVIDIA drivers add support for the new GTX 680 card.com Calibre 0. The developers also fixed numerous bugs and added material from the Melbourne Herald. NVIDIA treats gamers to new features. and Microsoft has posted workarounds for the problem at its blog. Also in this release. which dynamically adjusts clock speed based on the workloads from games. blogs. And a security toolbar scans links and URLs for danger. Microsoft had temporarily withdrawn SP2 from auto-updating because of an issue some users were having with it corrupting the database.1 RC Adobe’s suite of photo-editing tools gets an update that accommodates the newly released Canon EOS 5D Mk III D-SLR. New download protection scans files before they are downloaded to the hard drive. and users can now paste special hyperlinks.adobe. changing artwork size or trying to sync photos to devices. Security fixes involving WebKit sites also prevent scripting attacks from malicious websites. It includes important performance improvements for the all-important Outlook client. This free service pack adds support for the Do No Track initiative by giving users the option to turn tracking on or off when a site is offering the option. including better display of message content. Software Updates Ad-Aware 10 Free Antivirus + This spyware and virus-hunting software has been with us for many years. PowerPoint now supports full-screen views in Lion. The FXAA feature offers anti-aliasing up to 60% faster. As of late April.geforce. But this major update across the line.apple.1. It also includes the security fixes that were issued in the 5. scans.com AVG 2012 Service Pack This year’s version of the familiar free and premium virus protection suite gets a mid-year upgrade.com/whats-new Chrome Beta The latest pre-release of the popular Google browser now lets you sync your open tabs across devices. this is a long-awaited major release. You now can update DNG previews and metadata for more than 100 photos.blogspot. and faster syncing with Exchange servers. especially those that affected loading GPS track logs.microsoft. The update still can be downloaded manually. then this fix is for you.Upgrades That’ll Keep You Humming Along Significant updates come from two security software publishers this month.com iTunes 10.

You’ll see the familiar fivestar scale. Office 365. how often do most users go to a brick and mortar store and buy boxed software? The Windows Store is simply another logical step into the cloud for Microsoft. but it’s decent enough on a desktop with conventional peripherals. notebooks. just as we’ve seen with SkyDrive. Along with Win8 comes the new Windows Store. Between Steam. Microsoft didn’t popularize the app store concept. avatar thumbnails. Digital distribution is simply how publishers sell their apps now. In general. and the various mobile app outlets. the Win8 Consumer Preview seems meant for fingertips more than mouse clicks. With Apple and Google devouring the mobile market and the number of desktop PC shipments steadily declining. Windows Store offers a handful of pull-down filter menus to help your browsing if you’re not sure what title you’d like. the Xbox Games Marketplace. At least at this prerelease stage. consider the realities of today’s market.Microsoft Windows Store We Get Up Close & Personal M icrosoft must sense that it’s now or never. and desktops. CPU / June 2012 87 . The Win8 Consumer Preview is now live. well. and we like having a more unified look and feel across Microsoft’s device universe. and similar instances of Microsoft flexing its globally distributed data center muscle. but that’s no reason not to design and operate Windows Store doesn’t try to reinvent the review wheel. If this seems like a copycat maneuver following in the wake of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market (now part of Google Play). the response to Microsoft’s Live Tile interface design has been positive. the top minds in Redmond are pulling out all the stops for Windows 8. and “Was This Helpful?” prompts. and the Metro interface that debuted under Windows Phone 7 is now spilling over into tablets. No.

SkyDrive.computerpoweruser. Tools. However. Apps such as Elements Weather really show Metro at its aesthetic finest. which has a long history of trying to fold old habits and architectures into new releases. Hotmail. News & Weather. 88 June 2012 / www. The old methods for buying pre-Metro software haven’t gone away (although the current Windows Marketplace for Mobile is scheduled to evaporate on May 9). App stores need at least a handful of essential titles. or anything else. The apps we sampled installed in seconds with no fussing over target directories. The days of having to dig into the Control Panel are now a memory. Finance. Examples include the following: Spotlight. and the appropriate version will automatically download without any user intervention when purchased. Social. and so forth largely out of this article. is shaping up to be one of the hot tickets in the Windows Store. supported languages. wellcrafted must-have titles like this will draw audiences to the Windows Store. It’s the first tile in the default Start screen of Win8 Consumer Preview. Out of the gate. Near the bar’s bottom. oldest. know that the Windows Store is a retail front end for the distribution of Metro-style apps. and Security. x64. As with phones and tablets. simply right-click its tile. The Details tab exposes any release notes and gives information about supported processors. To use the Windows Store. Clicking a tile brings up its Windows Store listing. That’s all there is to it. Win8 lets you uninstall apps that come pre-installed with the OS. a link to its website and support pages. and you sort reviews via a pull-down menu by newest. This is no small change for Microsoft. Better yet. Many of the usability and navigation attributes of the Windows Store depend on the new UI within Win8. one of which will be to uninstall the app. Content & Use As of this writing. everything shown was available for free. pricing. scrolling methods. Shopping. Microsoft deserves special praise for its new app removal procedure. We Windows Store filter pull-downs will vary in content according to what area you’re in. Overview shows generously large screenshots of the app followed by its description. Food & Dining. average star rating. and ARM apps. and repeats the app’s permissions list. empty screen space. Details. you will need a Windows Live ID. even though many app tiles featured Buy and Try buttons. Travel. followed by the app’s tile showing up on the Metro home screen.a great one. highest and lowest rated. Notice how the subcategories filter under Books & Reference changes according to genre and device type. and a link for reporting the app to Microsoft. First Store Steps Right up front. but the Windows Store looks to be a gateway for future development. Each of these (except Security at the time of this writing) is has at least one “headliner” app and one smaller tile leading to top recommendations from the Windows Store team. and Reviews tabs. Games. get ready to sign up. Productivity. features. Music & Videos. and Adobe’s SketchBook Express. This brings up an options bar along the bottom of the screen. there were no paid apps in the Windows Store. Let’s dig into the Windows Store and see what you can expect. You can’t miss the Windows Store. Windows Store will support x86. Once inside. you’ll see the title’s age recommendation and developer name. a fun artwork/drawing app for the Metro interface. custom options. The Reviews tab is exactly what you’d expect. Entertainment. you’ll find the Store populated by several groups of tiles. we’ll keep observations about tile sizes. and installation button(s). Photos.) You’ll see unobtrusive “installing” and “installed” notifications in the top-right corner of your display.com . the app takes over and handles the rest. for those averse to bloatware. Books & Reference. when you tap the Install button. and most helpful. number of ratings. (You can install multiple apps concurrently. Hopefully. or any of Microsoft’s other cloud services. If you want to remove one of your Windows Store acquisitions. To the right of the bar are the Overview. dominated by a colored bar down the left showing the app’s icon. because a description of Win8 Consumer Preview falls outside the boundaries of this article. so if you haven’t obtained one through Xbox Live.

Time will tell whether the Metro aesthetic will grow to become the de facto way of displaying Windows UIs. Casino. in which the Metro look felt spot on. Microsoft officially starts pricing at $1. for example. as with conventional online store design. lowest price. attractive tiles rather than assaulting the senses with densely packed content. Card. won’t let you uninstall OEM apps. you may also find a third pulldown for subcategories specific to that app type. The Windows Store supports direct linking to applications. under Games. Apple dedicates a big chunk of its top section to one headliner app while scrolling through other featured apps off to the right. and developers can increase their list prices in 50-cent increments up to $4. filtering will become essential. highest price) pull-downs. which is stocked with over a dozen colorful app icons. Non-Metro apps will remain outside of Windows Store for now. Compare this to the Windows Store. there are subcategories for Action. The maximum price for a Windows Store app is $999. Google Play and Amazon Appstore lay out their respective home screens along similar lines. because only a handful of apps are currently available from the Windows Store. it’s difficult to judge just how “discoverable” apps will be. To the left of these. We still have yet to see how Win8 developers will price their apps.920 x 1. with simple text and graphics balanced well across a typically gorgeous Bing-like background photo. depending on the section’s content. If you click a section name. there are E-reader. such as Elements Weather. We understand that there are serious challenges in creating a unified experience across screens from four-inch phones to 60-inch plasmas. The Evernote app. Microsoft has been quite vocal about its efforts to make apps discoverable.99 or less. the two largest tiles in the section don’t actually show apps. paid) and Sort (noteworthy. Consider the Windows Store’s front-located Spotlight section compared to Apple’s App Store’s Featured view. Almost two-thirds of our 1. so perhaps those types of CPU / June 2012 89 . . we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Windows Store stay competitive by price-matching crossplatform apps. and so on. and we dislike in-yourface.49. Be aware that Windows Store purchases are not refundable.) In contrast. Reference. However. We’re not too worried by some of the content omissions from the Windows Store at this early point. you’ll go to that section’s main page. This means not overpowering tiles in the store with busy backgrounds. while off on the right bar are Quick Links and the top paid apps. free and trial. As the Windows Store’s offerings will grow exponentially once it goes live. Within each of these main section pages. highest rating. The only exceptions are if the app clearly fails to be compatible with your device or is misrepresented in its description. for example. Arcade.080 display stands empty. we found some cases. had a decidedly different look and feel than what we were used to. Adventure. such as Games or Books & Reference. Fiction. and Kids subcategories. Long and lean. Non-fiction. Under Books & Reference. the Windows Store seeks to draw you in with a handful of large. so search engines can index each app and you can access a given app straight from a search engine’s results page. Microsoft has also embraced the idea of simplicity and hasn’t looked back. with frequent promotions discounting paid apps even further. and five category tiles are merely blank blue squares with white Microsoft has its own share of addicting games waiting in the in Windows Store. (Double points to Elements Weather for having a Live Tile showing a real-time three-day forecast on the Win8 Start screen. there are Price (all prices. For example. At a time when Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore list plenty of apps at $0. Then come five section tiles. free. in which we see three apps listed in the Spotlight section. Next. the increment size increases. You can use multiple pull-downs simultaneously for precision filtering. Above $5. as many Android devices. text. This is just what’s visible without a single mouse click. but we suspect that the Windows Store might well benefit from a less restrained use of available real estate. many of which will be free. Only the leftmost part of the Games section is visible before scrolling is necessary. There’s no word yet on how Microsoft will integrate its Office Mobile apps into Windows Phone 8. Immediately under this is the New And Noteworthy area.hope this remains true for apps installed by OEM vendors on new systems. Compared To The Other Guys . you’ll find two or three pull-down menus. so it’s no surprise that productivity apps are still missing here. some developers may need to adapt their existing apps to account for Metro’s unique design. Aside from this. newest. obnoxious advertising as much as anyone. In our experimenting.99. In all main section pages. .

falling right in line with Apple and Google. but Microsoft also wants to make sure you have some skin in the game. We’ll be interested to see how long it takes consumers to find workarounds to this. On top of that.000. whether Metro will find a comfortable home on the desktop. the Windows Store will be available across more than 230 markets spanning over 100 languages. Microsoft is trying to maintain a unified ecosystem and cleave closer to Apple’s path to success. Microsoft has done a lot right Looking for an easy way to see what’s hot in the app world? Windows Store has the “Rising Stars” section to help you take in the fastest moving apps at a glance. Given today’s mobility trends. If those fees work for you and you’re excited to see your apps in the Windows Store. we might have been dubious about Microsoft’s chances of success in ever penetrating the mobile market. Whether this mix will prove successful. Perhaps when the ranks fill up. easy experience spanning from the pocket to the projector. The fee is $49 for individuals and $99 for companies. Clearly.com/library /windows/apps). The split personality Win7/Metro interface design we see in Win8 Consumer is a big step toward that reinvention. we’d say that Redmond now has a fighting chance.“heavy” UI applications will be slower to reach the Store. and we look forward to not having to relearn app interfaces with each new device form factor. The Windows Store is a necessary component of that reinvention. Microsoft has said that it expects 100. We trust there will soon be ample selection. must accept that it’s not the only act in town. despite its still gigantic share of the desktop market. The Kobo bookstore app illustrates that Windows Store will play host to many e-commerce business fronts. here. If the Windows Store experience is good enough to persuade the 90% of the desktop market still using Windows. Microsoft is offering Windows Store developers 70% royalties on all new Windows Store apps. Developers Final First Thoughts We started off by noting that Windows. the Windows Store Dashboard will keep you posted on your creation’s progress toward approval and its subsequent sales performance.com . It definitely has potential. remains to be seen. not to mention keep existing desktop developers on the Windows wagon. ranked by GDP. security holes. but power users have a habit of demanding (and creating) their own degrees of flexibility with application handling.microsoft.000 apps in the Store. Microsoft will give you its Application Certification Kit to help you run through the self-assessment necessary to weed out most bugs. A year ago. The Windows Store currently only provides sideloading capabilities to enterprises. but these also will not count toward the $25. and Microsoft won’t take any cut of the transactions. Microsoft had to do something fundamental to try to reinvent the desktop experience.000 crossover point. then the unified Metro experience will make it easier for those users to slide into Windows-based mobile devices. and it needs to woo the countless developers currently coding for Android and/or iOS. Microsoft knows that nothing motivates participation quite like money. (Developers can use in-app transaction services besides Microsoft’s. This is a pretty generous offer. The documentation here will advise you on everything from designing for different form factors to planning app monetization. We’ve become spoiled by Amazon’s “More Like This” functionality and hope Microsoft adopts it here. All told. So. But with what we’ve now seen of Win8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Store.) Microsoft will support local currencies from the top 40 markets. safer end-user experience. your next stop should be Microsoft’s page on how to build Metrostyle apps (msdn. both from the purchase price as well as any revenue generated inside the app. If a given app grosses more than $25.computerpoweruser. we’ll see the Windows Store start to do more with having one app link to other titles from that publisher or similar titles from other publishers. When you go to the Windows Store. When you’re ready to submit your app. must maintain an annual subscription in order to have their apps in the Windows Store. and it looks to be highly valuing the developers it needs to build its catalog of apps and gain ground on the current leaders in the market. this must be Microsoft’s top priority. including this free app for purchasing and reading Kobo ebooks. you’ll know that what you see is what you’ll actually get. ■ 90 June 2012 / www. more centralization and regulation makes for an easier. that app’s royalty jumps to 80% for the life of the app. Are You A Developer? Of course. and we applaud Microsoft for trying to create a unified. so these gaps will surely be filled as soon as paid apps are allowed through the gate. and so on. Once you have a working app.

.

or partition-oriented. and it worked nearly flawlessly in our tests with VMware and VirtualBox. you have to download various recovery files from Microsoft and then follow a lengthy wizard-led process to make this second version of the restore disc. Both discs faithfully duplicate the Windows experience and offer handy wizards for recovering disc images off network drives. disk wiping. which is both easier and harder than the previous version to create. recommending Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional comes down to how often you need to manipulate drives and partitions. etc. you’d best use Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro from bootable media. “everyone else” would probably be fine with these for occasional use. suitable for use as a virtual machine. file and folder backup and restoration. in some ways. can justify the cost of the extra features Photoshop provides because their livelihood depends on it. etc.paragon-software. or use it as baseline for an incremental backup. Professionals. Each tool is extremely good. prosumers willing to pay its price can enjoy its well-documented interface. as well as their partitions. You can easily mount a disk image to recover specific files. Windows boot repair. but not unique. Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro is a sort of do-it-all utility. such as performing file backups or building boot media). If you want to restore the partition image. If you use VMware. free software such as Paint. try the free tools out there first and see if they’re enough. and so forth.95 price tag. trick. Still. Its combination of powerful and straightforward features make it indispensable for an IT professional. Instead. but there are free alternatives that are. For most users. that offer these same commands plus other commands (which are more system-oriented than drive. Too bad you can’t go back to a live machine from a virtual disk image. If your job revolves around it. but there are the conventional pull-down menus. as well. covering hard disk and partition cloning. and partition types. simply requiring a little virtual BIOS tweaking before being able to boot. you can convert a backup image or partition/disk into a virtual image. In the end. ■ BY WARREN ERNST Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional $99. partition management and editing. the Windows version let us try to restore a Windows partition image back onto a live version of Windows but endlessly spun its wheels at 56% before we killed it. formats/OSes. the Windows PE version of the restore disc is no longer directly available for download. with backup and restore compressions and times within a few percent of Norton Ghost (which is amazingly still widely used among corporate IT pros despite being 10 years old). wiping hard drives. almost as good.NET has most of the features needed to perform most common photoediting jobs. if not best-ofbreed. Performance is quite good. This is a potentially huge time saver. too. repairing Windows/DOS boot problems. There’s an innovative virtual disk image tool. they may be worth the nearly $99. rather like GParted but with many more options. thanks to licensing issues. but via a wizarddriven GUI. Hard Disk Manager 12 Pro’s main interface lives within Windows (XP or later). Combined in one interface.com 92 June 2012 / www. changing cluster sizes or serial numbers. However. Otherwise. It displays a list of all your drives.computerpoweruser. which is a neat. It’s easier because now you can make Linux-based bootable USB flash drives in addition to CDs. You can back up a “live” Windows partition (or any partition) with Hard Disk Manager 1 2 Pr o d i r e c t l y within Windows.com . then get it now and don’t look back. or VirtualBox. such as downgrading the NTFS version. Right-clicking a partition from the list or mapping and choosing a command from the pop-up menu is the typical way to interact with the software.Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional N ot everyone needs Photoshop. yet generally faster than most free Linux tools. Finding networked stores of disk images is simple and reliable. Virtual PC.95 Paragon www. especially if you use all or most of them frequently. and represents them in a drive map where various colors and bars represent used and free capacities. but it’s tougher because. The express launcher does these same things. however. organized logically in groups. The same is true of Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional.

com Empty Loop Unlocker S ometimes it’s the small comforts in life that matter the most.” it’s time to call for a show of cards. too. including a reboot. and duplicate file search and removal. Many of these options are available elsewhere. there’s a Kill Process button that simply stops cold whatever’s blocking your attempts. Similarly. Or free utilities such as Empty Loop’s Unlocker that can remove a file or a whole directory even when Windows tells you it’s in use and won’t let you delete it. For example. Unlocker still lets you choose to rename. move.com/unlocker CPU / June 2012 93 . It’s not a utility you’re likely to use often.and 64-bit). but Empty Loop probably thinks it’s OK for you to figure that out on your own. or delete it. It also cleans. AUP is a winner. ■ BY BARRY BRENESAL Advanced Uninstaller Pro 10 Free | Innovative Solutions www. such as file shredding.Innovative Solutions Advanced Uninstaller Pro 10 W hen a utility refers to itself as “the ultimate uninstaller for Windows. Unlocker is simple to use. with five major categories represented by buttons on the left side of its screen: General Tools. You can right-click. Registry Tools. This brings up a small window listing the processes that are currently locking the folder or file. It can delete cookies. and extensions. however. There’s no evaluation tool to tell you when it’s safe to kill a process that is accidentally locking a file. programs. browser histories. headacheinducing occasions. and get a web-based display of the names. and Report And Extra Tools. Internet Browser Tools. while Remove Invalid Entries removes them all. You can select any or all to unlock. ■ BY BARRY BRENESAL Unlocker Free Empty Loop www. histories. File And Folder Tools. If you right-click to unlock a file that isn’t locked. just rightclick the file you want to delete and click Unlocker. and websites for each program. AUP’s Forced Removal option will get rid of a stubborn entry. was only something to be used as a last resort when nothing else worked.emptyloop. seeing as how Unlocker is free. companies. Windows services. Clicking any of these brings up a subcategory of utilities across the main screen. Advanced Uninstaller Pro isn’t engaging in a bluff. the brute-force method of unlocking a file or folder. versions. It uncompresses. and optimizes your Registry. We found that Unlocker invariably worked.advanceduninstaller. It really is single-mindedly focused on uninstalling—whether that means your fonts. All of this content is managed through an easy-to-use front-end. startup entries. and cookies for many browsers and some third-party apps. Piriform’s CCleaner is a small utility that cleans out the temp files. But this is a minor blemish in an excellent app that does just what it says and costs nothing. browser add-ons. Live file compression utilizes Windows’ compression system. like coffee machines that turn themselves on in the morning. but some invalid entries simply refuse to go away. but AUP furnishes a much longer apps list. you can use the Control Panel’s Programs And Features tool to uninstall a program. though we found the white text on a transparent gray backdrop difficult to read. Unlocker works on all Windows versions since Windows 2000 (both 32. so you can stumble to the kitchen and pour your first cup without pushing any buttons or measuring anything. backs up. or duplicate or temp files. and you can specify anything from entire drives to specific files. We also like the few tools AUP supplies that aren’t related to uninstalling. and in the event that this is insufficient. Mousing over a utility displays a brief description. but it’s a great tool to have handy for those special. select Report. though Kill Process.

And don’t miss the You will be surprised how many ways you calendar navigation tool in the right rail.Own Your Data S ecurity.com/en-US/home/. and user ownership of their data have all been critical issues in the conversations around personal computers and the Web in recent months. etc. The principle of the site is that a user should have access to Time to take flight again. It touch Google. Windows Tip Of The Month Google Is Watching— Watch Back With the lion’s share of search activity on the Web going through its servers. which you have accessed Google and the services you have used over the years. control over. from Apple to Google. And so all of these companies have been doling out tools and software that purport to give the users greater access to. which could minimize the damage from runaway capitalization. go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Keyboard Layout.com/ dashboard/?hl=en. Activating the hack requires a reboot or logging off and back on. Is it a bad thing that I have 56. links. You can play for free and get basic training or log in for more features and to purchase upgrades that let you fly in remote locales.computerpoweruser. The 1. and now in a freemium version from Microsoft at microsoftflight. In Regedit.com .org.com/policies/privacy/tools/. tracks back all Google interactions by the day and even keeps a running total of how many searches you have run while logged in. recording of your history.google. we have found this oldie but goodie from previous versions of Windows brings sanity to that keyboard. the Caps Lock function was disengaged the next time you tapped the Shift key. Bet you didn’t recall that you set Google search and services in a timeline. Right-click to create a New DWORD Value named “Attributes.. privacy.743? Fire Google Finally.” Double-click on this new Value in the right pane and assign the hexadecimal value of “00010000” and click OK. Your basic tool is the Dashboard at www. understand they need to get out in front of this issue before regulators and legislators provide policies for them. up an Orkut social profile or that you set up Here you can filter out the history to see a Blogger site in 2010. Microsoft to Mozilla. etc. the big and cool new tools from Google that control your data are on the Data Liberation Front site at www. Until recently a sparse Ad Preferences manager let you see how Google targeted ads to you and block them. dataliberation. As the stakes over online privacy have heightened. Also go to your Web history page at google. Almost all of the major players in the software and online services business. and security for their own data and digital activities. In its day. The main suite of privacy tools at Google is located at www. so have Google’s efforts to assuage user concerns with new transparency tools. All of the apps you just interactions with maps. Google likely has more data on you than just about any entity on the planet.4GB download is part of the online MS Games Live system. are all visible to you here as boxes to remove items and also pause the are privacy settings for many of these services. It is back. 94 June 2012 / www. the game/simulator was a test of hardware power as well as an amazing demonstration of mapping real-world data into a simulation experience. news. This month we look at some of the newer ways that the big players say they are giving you greater security and control.com/history (you need to be signed in) to see all of your interactions with Registry Tip Of The Month For those who are frustrated by mistakenly hitting the Caps Lock key and getting a string of unintended capitalized sentences. On traditional physical typewriters. This Registry hack enables a similar functionality in Windows 7. Old PC diehards will recall a time when the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator was anxiously awaited. sponsored have installed on registered Android devices. More importantly you can check saved maps. google. tracking. The most Takeout is a tool from Google that lets you package and instructive part of this tool is how download into specific formats content you created on select it shows you all of the devices from services like Google Docs and Picasa.

mozilla.chocedge. Before you start drawing up plans for a semisweet. Mozilla is working with support from the Ford Foundation to craft an ingenious experiment called Collusion that creates a map in real time of the ways in which your landing on a single site can plant cookies that follow you and bring your data trail to other sites. This is not a star map. To get a direct look at the ways in which your online travels are being knit together by others. use the Site Info tab to highlight a site in the map and get a more orderly list.600. The Configure tab in this tally box lets you package word processing. ■ INFINITE LOOP Start Your Own Chocolate Print Shop UK-based Choc Edge has started taking online pre-orders for its Choc Creator Version 1. Once Collusion is installed.com/Choc+Creator+Version+1 CPU / June 2012 95 . You will see that Collusion has built a confusing map in which the circles with halos indicate the sites you have visited. and other services can actually be downloaded in a variety of formats. 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon. For instance. Each then can be downloaded directly to your PC for use elsewhere. Contacts. Buzz. the site directs you to where you can export or import a calendar or export Google chat logs. Picasa.” A certified food-grade printer is three to six months away. It is important to note that this is not a gateway into all of the data Google has about you so much as a single point of entry to all of the data that you yourself have created on Google—from Gmail contact lists to Chrome bookmarks. Hitting the Create Archive button will build a downloadable archive of each of the categories you have designated. Uncovering The Data Conspiracy How publishers and third parties plant and share cookie information is at the center of debates about privacy and user tracking online. Circles. Then click the Collusion icon that appears in the lower right of your Firefox browser. and the right to put in and take out any data Google is keeping for them. not eating. designs for your creations can be uploaded via USB. a desktop 3D chocolate printer that can be yours for about $4. with lines connecting to the services and other sites with which that destination has shared your information. Each Google product has its own instructions for accessing and extracting your own content. You can link to the Firefox extension at www. simply go about your usual Web browsing habits for a day or so. Google Takeout is a new platform that lets you easily download some of your own content from Google in a common place and interface.The Data Liberation Front is a Google program that lets users access the data they have created across the company’s many services and download much of it to their own PCs.google. Choc Edge says the current printer is designed for “printing demonstration chocolates and making creative and artistic displaying objects only. In the left-hand rail. often through a thirdparty ad or data network. for instance. Go to www. It is a chart using Mozilla’s Collusion extension for Firefox that charts the ways that sites share browsing activity data with one another via third-party cookies.org/ en-US/collusion/. presentations. Tap Docs. and drawings into one of several formats. be aware that it will be suitable only for viewing. Docs. ■ http://www. to have Google tally all of the documents you have made. however. The printer’s deposition head uses a 10-milliliter syringe and highly precise stepper motor. com/takeout/?pli=1 and you will see that data you have created via +1. You will see a rundown of the sites with which the destination shares data and the other sites you visit that may be sharing data with the highlighted site. spreadsheets.

use the arrow keys to move around. minotaurs. and spawned two immediate successors. is recovered when not in combat. with carefully placed rewards and a seemingly endless supply of puzzles involving pressure plates. 3D dungeon crawl made it enormously popular. open inventories to chug potions. and magic teleportals. Spells are discovered on scrolls (or by experimenting) and can be cast as long as a mage has sufficient power. and swap out gear. Legend of Grimrock is both simple and perfectly beguiling. ■ 96 June 2012 / www. eat food. Its combination of real-time exploratory action with a four-character party. presumably due to licensing considerations. utilizing excellent graphics in a first-person. There’s always just one more corridor ahead. You’ll get to choose among humans. though your party members do gain stats and skills as their experience improves. But the core stuff remains the same: You right-click to launch an attack. Instead.com . giant snails. The enemy combat AI is excellent. lizardmen. even on a dual-core with 2GB RAM. and you have an opportunity to understand what the praise was all about. one more puzzle to solve. it runs like a dream with all the graphical stops pulled out. We can’t forget the enemies. and that suits us just fine: We’ve had it up to our eyeteeth with the AD&D clichés in nearly every RPG game.computerpoweruser. either: a delightful mix of clockwork-like undead soldiers.grimrock. That’s only a taste of what you’ll find. and mages. races. one more monster whose shuffling you can hear around the corner.99 (PC) ESRB: N/A Almost Human www. like health. hidden switches. and herders who look like animated tree trunks. and alignment systems are out. clumsy. with the classes limited to fighters. a system of nine runes that the player clicks to combine is used to produce magical effects. Power. rogues. and especially while resting. so you’ll see archers slide away from your melee attacks and imps hover out of range before shooting forward to claw at your party. Now Almost Human Games has done a Beholderlike tribute. though you can turn the former off at the start of the game. The game’s premise is simple. The visuals are stunning. It’s really just an excuse for dungeon crawling. Good luck in escaping Mount Grimrock.A Dungeon Crawl To Freedom—by Barry Brenesal $14. And just like Beholder. with great animations and particle effects in resolutions up to 2048 x 1546—and. and insectoids for races. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons classes. and in escaping this game.net ● ● ● Talk about a blast from the past: I reviewed SSI’s Eye of the Beholder very favorably back in 1991. best of all. Your party of four prisoners escapes from their cells in Mount Grimrock and starts a long journey toward freedom through endless corridors and down flights of stairs. as well. Some game design elements have changed along the path that led from Beholder to Grimrock. Auto-mapping and auto-pickup on missiles make life in Grimrock a bit easier. Good? Evil? How does that really matter when the only philosophical choice your party faces is whether it will or won’t kill the thing in front of you that wants flambéed adventurers for dinner? Spells aren’t auto-acquired with levels. trapdoors.

.

■ $59. except for plenty of grotesque gestures and exaggerated arm-waving in the film cutaways. and skills such as gunsmithing.$29. the traditional pro-Shogun faction faces off against the modern pro-Emperor faction.99 (PC) ESRB: (T)een Sega totalwar. she’ll assist in finding a legendary artifact that will destroy a sea monster known as the Kraken. X360) ESRB: (M)ature Piranha Bytes www.computerpoweruser. and slaves acquired their social skills by watching TV commercials for used car dealerships. Sea Monsters & Lots Of Rum—by Barry Brenesal Have you played any of the first three Gothic games. but have their own legends and unique magic. and the distrustful NPCs are seldom inclined to do a favor without first receiving one in return. This really helps Risen 2’s replayability. or the original Risen? If so. Otherwise. where you can get into the tactical engagement. as though these pirates. The game is a culmination of everything that’s right with the Total War series and eschews much of the controversial design decisions we’ve seen in recent Total War games. Fall Of The Samurai’s gameplay is set during the mid-19th century during the Boshin War when Japan was entering a dramatic modernization brought about by the industrial revolution. Unlike so many other action RPGs. but less narrowly focused than Risen. and liquor distillation to improve through a mix of “glory” (killing and quest fulfillment. Malaprop Fall Of The Samurai is a standalone expansion for turn-based Total War: Shogun 2. and a delight to play. With modernization came turbulence. talents. the country was effectively a medieval society with a feudal government system. What really stands out after playing a slew of Total War titles is how well developer Creative Assembly created a user interface to manage the rather hefty complexity of the game. in fact. Until this point. thanks be to the gods.com/shogun2/fall-of-the-samurai ● ● The Last Samurai—by Dr.com . pickpocketing.99 (PC. You begin under a secret directive requiring you to join the pirates. ■ 98 June 2012 / www. definitely not the same thing) and paying trainers in gold. Attributes such as soldier fatigue and morale play a big part here. is to help a pirate’s daughter whom you first encountered in Risen acquire her father’s treasure. you have some idea what to expect from Risen 2: a first person action RPG where decisions you make really do affect the progress of your character’s adventures. as is the animation. There are three joinable factions in the game. This makes Fall Of The Samurai one of the more accessible titles in the series. PS3. The voices and artwork are very fine. but along the way you can return to your old allegiance with the Inquisition—now shorn of their magic. German developer Piranha Bytes has chosen to set Risen 2 in a Caribbean-like area infested with pirates. which plays exceptionally well for strategic and tactical gameplay and revisionist history in this superb turn-based strategy game. Those new to Total War will be welcomed to turn-based strategic moves a la Risk with diplomacy and trade aspects. we found Risen 2 less open-ended than the Gothic games.) Your main mission. The dialog is gritty.risen2. just as it did its predecessors. Make your turn and then enter the real-time strategy mode. officers. quest series here genuinely open and close depending upon the choices you make. It’s a treat for strategy lovers. As the game moves toward its inevitable conclusion.com ● ● Pirates. All of this on a massive scale with thousands of troops on-screen. and there’s an abundance of unit types on which you can expand. (But no pirate jokes. which he’s hidden away—and in exchange. you can even directly control certain units and artillery. This time. weapons only—or ally with the natives. There are attributes. who are used as slaves.

you encounter basic puzzles and platforming that can be solved by taking time to explore environments. Journey manages to be endearing. The game manages to bring a level of emotional depth that’s not often found in videogames. The sand is blowing. one who communicates by movement or chirps. which is the source of the Gohma. In addition to moving around. Thanks to Asura’s ranged attacks and a giant Buddha space weapon. elegant. With minimal guidance or complication. The scarf length indicates jumping and flying powers. your onscreen character can discover pieces of cloth that build out a scarf.$59. General Asura is one of the eight demigod generals. often poignant. and he leads the attack on the Vlitra. the sun is beating down. and this aspect on its own elevates Journey in our minds. the seven remaining demigods throw Asura to his death. each of 20 minutes or so. Amidst the celebration of the Shinkoku in the following days. The narrative is yours to discover. This last feature plays a key role when you discover another anonymous character in your game: a player that looks just like in-game you. You’ve seen rage and revenge in classic novels and “Kill Bill. and tapestries that tell the story. mostly battling demigods and other enemies with the occasional surprise tossed in for good measure.com/asuraswrath ● ● Interactive Anger Management—by Dr. it makes you experience emotion during the three hours or so it takes to finish. and wallet-friendly. ■ Captivating & Emotional—by Dr. That’s enough to make anyone angry. PS3) ESRB: (T)een Capcom facebook. Unfortunately. You’ll play through 18 episodes. Cresting the first dune. you’ll spend more time watching than playing the seven hours it takes to complete Asura’s Wrath. You sometimes discover that you bond closely with this unnamed stranger. with the goading of a golden metallic spider. Asura screams. To feel or understand Journey. but not defeated. perhaps with a different length scarf. But those seven hours are entertaining if you look at this as an interactive anime experience with shooting and brawling elements. the Vlitra are subdued. Last but not least. However. We walked away thoroughly enjoying its insanity and story. beautiful.” but it’s a bit different when the key combatants are demigods larger than planets. and you are very alone. Whether or not you agree with its artistic sensibilities.com/games/journey ● CPU / June 2012 99 . which let you access locations that provide bonus collectible items. That’s a suggestion we heartily stand behind. captivating. Malaprop You begin your journey sitting in exquisitely shifting desert sand. your character can chirp/ sing to interact with objects in the world. These episodes are not unlike TV episodes with their own recaps and credits. Thousands of years elapse before Asura comes to with a foggy memory. and performs all manner of insane cut-scene or QTE combat that looks phenomenal. you’ll need to go beyond academic descriptions and reviews and play it. his memory slowly returns.99 (X360. you revel in surfing down the sand. Ultimately. symbols. Malaprop The game begins with The Eight Guardian Generals and the Shinkoku army bearing down from space to attack the impure Gohma. It raises the stakes. as does his wrath. Animation is excellent. Journey is a game that will raise your expectations for what videogames can and will achieve in the future. ■ $14. Asura is framed for the emperor’s murder. it becomes clear that you’re going to want to reach that towering mountain off in the distance.99 (PS3) ESRB: (E)veryone Sony Computer Entertainment thatgamecompany. his wife murdered. Along the way. which is good because a large portion of the game is about the player watching events unfold. punches. and his daughter abducted.

Free (PC) ESRB: (T)een Hi-Rez Studios www.200 Microsoft Points (aka 15 bucks) you’ll spend acquiring it on XBL. but paying to unlock a premium class doesn’t guarantee kills. Tribes: Ascend is definitely worth a look. If you’re looking for a fast shooter that is easy to pick up but tough to master. other versions have the campaign mode and two survival minigames. Tribes: Ascend rewards teamwork. ■ 100 June 2012 / www.200 Points (X360) ESRB: (M)ature Ubisoft iamalive-game.ubi. and Android.99 (Android). $9. Take a break and blow some stuff up.) The game is brief but provides a ton of fun for a very modest price. Survivors mainly fall into two groups: victims and enemies.com ● ● Free-To-Play Done Right—by Chris Trumble The free-to-play model has become increasingly popular. ■ 1. Members of both groups will drain your resources and put you in harm’s way. You play the role of a man who flew “out east” just before a worldwide cataclysm referred to early on simply as “the event” wiped out most of the human race. your skill is the overriding factor in whether you’re successful.com . takes the tower defense paradigm and inverts it. and there are flags to capture and objectives to achieve. $3. The story itself is inconsequential and the accompanying voice acting can get repetitive.99 (iOS) ESRB: (E)veryone 11 bit studios anomalythegame.tribesascend. putting you in command of an armored column charged with going on the offensive in various locales in Iraq and Japan and taking out mechanized alien towers that cropped up following the impact of an extraterrestrial object.com ● The Best Defense Is A Good Offense—by Chris Trumble Anomaly: Warzone Earth. Your goal is to journey through the ruins of your city and reunite with your wife and daughter. beat-the-clock rushes. which recently came to Xbox Live Arcade after having been a hit on PC. and others. You may find that some classes and weapons best suit your personal style of play. this game is a pure run-and-gun shooter with a couple of very intriguing mechanics tossed into the mix: skiing and flying. only without zombies and stuff. iOS. Mac.99 (PC/Mac). $1. This is partly a function of the game’s well-balanced class system and partly due to Tribes: Ascend’s nature—the game is played at breakneck speed. ■ 800 Points (X360). but Anomaly’s gameplay is intuitive and fun. and when you are flying in one direction and trying to shoot someone hurtling through the air in another. but the game also mixes in some escort missions. (These are present in the XBL Arcade version. and aside from the campaign mode there are three variants of Horde-style survival minigames and a series of tactical trials that present some pretty intricate scenarios under the guise of training missions. you’ll be glad you did.computerpoweruser. add to that intimidation-based combat and an interesting climbing mechanic that you’ll use to scale the listing skyscrapers littering the horizon. but at its core. Most missions are straightforward clear-the-board affairs. and you have a challenging little adventure with big-game production values that feels like survivalhorror.com ● ● Fear & Loathing In Haventon—by Chris Trumble Ubisoft’s I Am Alive is a unique and engaging action game that is well worth every penny of the 1. and Hi-Rez Studios does a nice job of rewarding players for buying into its online teambased shooter Tribes: Ascend without making the game hostile to new and/or frugal players.

.

His firm has developed the only non-Apple SSD solution for MacBook Air systems and a growing family of Windows notebook solutions. a manufacturer and e-tailer of solid-state drives. I think we’ll see things really blow open. memory. and came away very impressed both times. and how did you get started? That’s it in a nutshell.to 10-minute install. and was a two-year honoree in Crain’s Chicago Business “Fast 50” list. I do acknowledge that USB 3. and gave it a whirl. and once the availability of peripherals and even cable options catch up. How big an impact on the computing world in general do you think Thunderbolt will have. I had to educate others and help make the benefit of memory upgrades more accessible for a lower cost than what that two-day service cost—before the cost of the memory itself. signing it in. and we’ve long supported both Mac as well as Windows customers. he has been included in Dealerscope’s 40 Under 40. In the case of the Mercury Electra 6G (the roundup starts on page 17 of the May issue). the Inc. data storage solutions. It’s a real long-term benefit for Apple owners that this interface has been standard on the new models for over a year now. you sell products for Macs and PCs. It is really ahead of its time in many ways.” When I found out this was basically a 5. and then having to come back a couple days later after they completed the “service. I also began advertising on America Online’s Classified Mall and in chat rooms to help others save on upgrades I then sold for a fraction of the big guys’ prices and provided assistance with the how-to. and accessories for Macs and PCs. Did your business change dramatically in 2005 when Apple adopted Intel platforms for Macs. O’Connor has provided the strategic initiative and vision establishing OWC as a leading provider of technology products and services. Although the proof will be in the pudding. I do believe Thunderbolt/Light Peak will have a very long and successful place in the industry. which almost never happens. I remember the drill of taking the computer in to the tech.000 list (five consecutive years). I upgraded my Apple for a fraction of the cost being offered in the space. An alumnus of Marquette University. Once all was confirmed. and do you foresee it making greater inroads in the PC market than FireWire did? Q Now.An Interview With OWC’s Larry O’Connor Larry O’Connor is the founder and CEO of OWC (Other World Computing). it was all the outlets advertising memory for Apple II. or has getting PC folks to take another look been a more gradual process? Things are always evolving. What is it 102 June 2012 / www. found places listing the part numbers for the actual chips that made up these upgrade sets (used to be chips you plugged into a board). Q We heard a story that you founded Other World Computing because you were tired of paying too much for memory for your Apple II when you were a kid. LO Q LO We have reviewed a couple of your company’s SSDs now. I picked up a Computer Shopper at the News Depot that was right down the street from school and work. while their PC counterparts have yet to adopt the standard. O’Connor has received numerous industry awards.computerpoweruser. At the same time. your drive actually produced better numbers in our tests than we expected from your marketing material. of course. But it wasn’t just the local Apple dealer. There will be a lot of choice in the near future for Thunderbolt products. it definitely enabled an acceleration of our multiplatform support capabilities. Q LO It sounds like Macs are possibly getting secondgeneration Thunderbolt controllers soon. Since Apple has shifted into the PC space. 5.0 is more than suitable for many consumer needs while also having a far lower cost.com . Is that true.

using performance asynchronous NAND configs. For the typical user. For instance. As for our published specs. built to last and perform for the longterm. we are able to turn on a dime and manage Q The “My OWC” area on your site is a nice resource for people with Macs who are looking for upgrades or replacements. yet your SSD prices are extremely competitive. both built in the exact same platform. While the Electra is built Your site says that your drives are designed and built in the United States. Q Q How do your Mercury Electra 6G and Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD lines differ? Both are actually very similar. the EXTREME Pro 6G is built with Toggle-sync NAND. talking about a controller’s theoretical maximums the way it seems others do. the Electra is all the SSD they should need. We’ve all heard for many years now how difficult it is for domestic manufacturing to compete. For those working with certain data types.com site especially. but with the right manufacturing partner and sound management. Is this something that you might expand at some point to include help for PC owners looking for memory and/or SSDs? We notice you have some PC troubleshooting information on the site already. or do you just know something others don’t? There are significant challenges to building in the United States. What I think we know and believe more so than the competition is that the benefits in quality and performance are well worth a couple extra pennies spent in the long run. the Toggle-sync NAND provides a higher level of performance. not short. How do you manage this? Do you think this issue has been overblown. building overseas. we’d rather be conservative and talk about real-world results vs. one can enjoy significant advantages. and we choose accordingly. quality aspects that offset some of the cost differential vs. We’re long-term focused. Your site has a “Coming Soon” banner over a link to a Plasma LO LO Q LO CPU / June 2012 103 . All of our Mercury SSD models are manufactured in the United States. It’s all in the works. We have huge plans for the same expansive coverage with PC specificity as we move forward with our PCSales. Both the grade and the configuration of NAND in an SSD make a big difference.about OWC’s Mercury-series SSDs that makes them such strong performers? LO We chose configurations as well as overall design parameters that seek performance and reliability.

& LCD TV and display area. How soon will you be offering TVs, and how did you arrive at the decision to branch out in this direction?

LO

It’s a logical extension of our computing side. More and more people are using their Macs and PCs as home-theater controllers/media sources, and we already have many products that support this particular use. We want to offer high-performance and reliable products that are the right solutions for the longer term; we’re not here to promote cycles of 9- to 14-month replacement needs. You don’t have longterm customers if you promote such products, in my opinion.

have a 1TB SSD “coming soon,” but it doesn’t mention what form factor it might be. Do you expect such capacities to be 2.5-inch SATA drives, or do you think it’s more likely that the initial 1TB drives will be PCI-E or will take some other form?

LO Q

We just began shipping our 1TB (960GB after 7% overprovisioning) Mercury Accelsior PCI-E SSDs and will soon add a 2.5-inch profile 1TB, as well.

What else can we expect from OWC in 2012? Do you have any upcoming launches you can talk about? Faster, higher capacity, lower cost per gigabyte. (Smiles.) Our Jupiter mini-SAS solutions are already gaining wide attention and will prove

Q

In reply to a customer question about larger SSD capacities, one of your tweets says OWC will

LO

themselves as an incredible option vs. the much more expensive and slower Fibre Channel storage today. We’re not done evolving our PCI-E SSD products, either. Not entirely, but somewhat by choice, we’ve taken the slow road on our Thunderbolt product entries. However, in the second half of the year, we’ll have an explosion of such. By Christmas, these solutions will be much more cost-effective when compared to competing performance interfaces, and while still more expensive than USB 3.0, will be a bit more comparable with consideration to the performance delta Thunderbolt will provide. Our customers are large drivers of what products we support directly and indirectly, and we’re here to make them happy with the right products for the evolving needs our customers of all types have. ■

104

June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com

A Peek At What’s Brewing In The Laboratory
Early Warning System Attempts To Curb Insider Threats
A team of researchers from Georgia Tech have joined forces with several other universities to develop a system that will inform authorities if military or civilian governmental personnel’s electronic behavior looks suspicious. The idea is to stop possible illegal activities before they happen.

PHOTO CREDIT: GARY MEEK

I

t seems like many of the alerts and security measures in the United States deal with external dangers, but the news is also full of stories of military or government employees going off the rails. Identifying these insider threats is a time-consuming process, because analysts only have the capacity to investigate perhaps five (out of thousands) reported anomalies each day out. A consortium of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, along with peers at Oregon State University, the University of Massachusetts, and

Carnegie Mellon University have come together under the leadership of SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) to create a system that identify rogue personnel before they cause any trouble. The $9 million project has the researchers developing an unprecedented combination of algorithms in two categories—graph-processing and knowledge-based relational machine learning—coupled with statistical anomaly detection methods, to devise a system prototype called ADAMS (Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales).

ADAMS can aggregate immense amounts of communication data in real time—texts, emails, file transfers, IMs, etc.—and scan them for unusual behavior. ADAMS would be installed in civilian government and military situations where personnel would expressly agree to monitoring, and the system then processes the information culled from all electronic activities. ADAMS then could deliver to superiors, “a very short, ranked list of unexplained events that should be further investigated,” says Dr. David Bader, a coprincipal investigator at Georgia Tech. ■

New Analysis Methods Could Produce Better Prosthetics
he result of combat wounds, such as the amputation of a lower leg, are devastating in many ways, not the least being loss of mobility. Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists Boyd Evans and John Mueller are working on a system that will better guide prosthetic development for disabled vets. Evans and Mueller want to perfect prosthetic fit and performance, helping soldiers who want to return to active duty or simply want to regain as many physical capabilities as possible. Currently, prosthetics are designed for restricted physical exercise and can cause an uneven gait, which, beyond being uncomfortable, may lead to structural health issues later on.

T

Evans and Mueller, taking a page from new developments in videogaming (such as Kinect for Xbox 360), are studying natural walking patterns by strapping IMUs (inertial measurement units) and other sensors to a subject’s foot, calf, and thigh. The device and sensors capture data regarding velocity, orientation, and gravitational forces on the leg while in motion; then they deliver it to a computer running analytic algorithms that assess the impact on specific joints. Evans and Mueller have used a robotic leg (programmed with a human’s info) to show proof of concept. In the coming months, they’ll test their system on a person who has a prosthetic. ■

CPU / June 2012

105

New App Predicts The Hits

H

istorically, there have been a few notable hit-makers in the music industry, folks who have a finger on the pulse of popular sound. In a “curiosity-driven research project” dubbed “ScoreAHit,” (scoreahit.com) the University of Bristol’s professor Tijl De Bie atand a team of researchers are trying their hand at throwing science into the hit-predicting mix. “We wanted to know to what extent it is possible to automatically distinguish songs that reach the top of the chart from those that remain at the bottom, based on just the audio,” says De Bie. “This seemed quite a challenging task, given that it’s likely that other factors will have a strong impact on the popularity of a song, as well. For example, the marketing budget, the prior popularity of the band, and social aspects surrounding the song are no doubt very important.” The team used machine-learning technology for their investigation, which involves algorithms that learn from data input. Specifically, they examined the last 50 years of UK top 40 hits as baseline data to see if ScoreAHit could correctly predict each song’s status on the charts. “To be able to do this, songs must be represented in a way that is mathematically convenient,” explains De Bie. “In this case we represent each song by a set of musically relevant numerical ‘features.’ This set of features includes basic ones related to the duration of the song and its tempo (beats per minute), and more advanced ones such as the danceability, energy, mode, time signature, and even harmonic simplicity (characterizing how musically simple a song is) and nonharmonicity (characterizing how harmonic the sound is).” ScoreAHit’s ability to determine a hit song currently lands at about 60%, but De Bie and his team also unearthed some unexpected results. Predictability of a hit was at its lowest during the 1970s and ’80s, leading to the conclusion that those were extraordinarily creative musical eras. Another uncovered truth is that music, over time, has indeed become louder. (See, your parents were right about one thing.) De Bie says that the research group is currently examining additional audio elements and external influences (such as artist popularity and lyrics) that could improve ScoreAHit’s performance. ■

Self-Healing Electronics Work Longer, Reduce Waste
s electronics that use inexpensive computer chips have become ubiquitous, so has the habit of tossing, instead of repairing, devices when they go on the fritz. With an eye on conservation, a group of engineers at the University of Illinois have created a system that lets broken circuitry to heal itself, even without diagnostics or human intervention. Aerospace engineering professor Dr. Scott White explains how their system works. “We encapsulate

A

IMAGE CREDIT: AMANDA JONES, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

University of Illinois scientists have created liquid-metalfilled microcapsules that reside on gold conductive wires to be used in a variety of electronic devices. When the wire fails, the microcapsules break and fill in the gaps, instantly restoring the wire’s conductivity.

Researchers at the University of Bristol utilized a variety of “musical features” to mathematically identify elements in the algorithm they crafted for their hit song prediction application, ScoreAHit.

a liquid metal [an eutectic alloy of Gallium and Indium] in a polymer microcapsule [made of urea-formaldehyde]. We then put these capsules onto a gold conductive line. When the line breaks, it also breaks the capsules, releasing the liquid metal. It flows into the broken line, and conductivity is restored.” White says that finding a suitably conductive liquid challenged them, but they found a solution when they “tried metals that are liquids at room temperature, and were successful in encapsulating them.” The team envisions their product seeing widespread adoption in circuit boards, but also in aircraft, satellites, and spacecraft, “where you need fault-free operation for many years and you have no opportunity to repair.” ■

106

June 2012 / www.computerpoweruser.com

.

Richmond.12 ColossalCon .allyourbaseonline.12 Naois Gaming .clubconflict. TX www.com WV Gamers .naoisgaming.com .com 05.12 PDXLAN 20 . OH NostalgiaConventions. PA www.06-08.Green Bay.07-10.com 05.16.13-15. Manitoba www.12 LANcouver 2012 .naoisgaming.lancouver.York.Look For CPU At These LAN Parties 05.03.Corvallis.com 06.12 Civil War LAN 4 .Winnipeg. OR www.Mantua.11-12.gblan. PA www. OR www.com 05.12 AnimeSouthEast .Sanduskdy. OR oregonstate.19.11-13.com Quake and Steak LAN .com 05. OR www.York.edu/groups/osugaming 07.com 05.wvgamers.Eugene.Greenville.com/events/lan2012 06.01. WI www.com 07.net 06.com 07.geeksofwar.computerpoweruser.forgelan.12 Intel LANFest MassiveLAN 2012 Hamburg. TN NostalgiaConventions.Laughlintown.wvgamers.04-06.Portland. PA www.Tigard.12 Baselan 23 .12 G33ktopia .com WV Gamers .Greenville.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON .13-16.Medina.Eugene.pdxlan. OH quakesteaklan.18-20. NY www.com 06.29-07.networkgamingclub.08-09.networkgamingclub.webs.21.12 Lan in the Highlands . TX www.12 GBLAN .12 Forge LAN III .Sevierville.12 Naois Gaming .com 108 June 2012 / www. OH www.massivelan.com 07.com NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON . BC www. OR www.

networkgamingclub. NY www. PA www.12 Quakecon .Louisville.800.wvgamers.Greenville.22.12 WV Gamers .networkgamingclub. TX www.Columbia. TX www. SC NostalgiaConventions.com WV Gamers .Greenville. OR www.wvgamers.12 Exile XII .com WV Gamers .Across The Nation—& Beyond! NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON . OR www.com 09.12 Banzaicon .18. KY NostalgiaConventions.quakecon.York.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON .com 10.exilecomputergaming.org 10.Phoenix.com 12.com 11.Eugene .wvgamers.Portland.Troy.02-05. TX www.12 Naois Gaming .com 08.com .Greenville.naoisgaming. TX www. OR www.12 WV Gamers .wvgamers.15.net/portland 09.12-14.intel.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON . TX www.20. TX www.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON .27. AZ lanfest.networkgamingclub.17.3809 We’ll be glad to consider your event CPU / June 2012 109 . OR www.com Would you like us to help promote your next LAN? Give us a call at 1.networkgamingclub.Dallas.29.Greenville.12 PDXLAN November .Greenville.15-16.Eugene.com 07.11.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON .12 Intel LANFest DESERTBASH ELEVEN .Eugene.com 09.12 NGC’s LAN-A-GEDDON .networkgamingclub.15.com 08.com 09. OR www.14-16.networkgamingclub.com 11.pdxlan.Eugene.Greenville.733.com 09.12 Ouiumicon. TX www.com 08.02-04.

lots of them probably immediately think of HyperX. When we launched our enthusiast line of SSDs.computerpoweruser. How do these newer drives compare with the original HyperX SSDs. or anything you’d like to add? Given that it is HyperX’s 10-year anniversary this November.600MHz and going up to speedy 2. and while working with leading motherboard partners we became increasingly aware that the high-end consumer. This controller technology afforded us the opportunity to release industry-leading. How has the SSDNow line evolved since then? SSDNow is still very much entrenched in providing value and performance SSDs to mainstream consumers and business professionals. ML Q Q We’ve seen a lot of changes for memory support among Intel chipsets over the last few years. T h e difference between Kingston and some of our competitors is that we give our consumers the choice to pick which is best for their workloads. The only difference (aside from the lower price and the aesthetics) would be the usage of 3. as well as some great promotions. GIGABYTE. ML ML Q When PC enthusiasts think about Kingston. enthusiast-grade SSDs. which has been in business for around 25 years. At the Z77 launch. it It’s no challenge.0 flash drives that we also have to complement Z77. and what kind of user did Kingston have in mind when creating them? The HyperX 3K SSD is essentially a cost-down version of the original HyperX SSD released last summer. We’ve even successfully tested 2. Do these changes present a challenge for companies like Kingston. 2002. gamer.000 P/E cycle NAND used in its predecessor. Enthusiasts who want to push the performance boundaries with Ivy Bridge will want to pair it with Kingston HyperX memory. we will have HyperX dual-channel XMP-certified kits made especially for the new Intel Ivy Bridge 3rd Generation Core i7 and i5 processors. At the time.com . really. when we released a 256MB 333MHz DDR1 HyperX Genesis memory module on November 13. especially in regards to our affiliation with LSI SandForce. and now it looks like we’re headed back to dual-channel for Ivy Bridge.666MHz frequencies. ML 110 June 2012 / www. This is part of our everyday business—keeping track of processor and motherboard roadmaps to ensure that we have complementary products at launch. Why’d we do it? It just made sense. and what do you have planned (or released) for folks looking to build Ivy Bridge systems? What can we expect from Kingston in the second half of 2012? Any upcoming product launches in the works that you can talk about. and enthusiast was being underserved with their own line of high-performance products.000 program/erase cycle NAND. We really want to reward our loyal fans for supporting Kingston HyperX throughout its 10-year existence. not to mention the SATA 6Gbps HyperX SSDs and DataTraveler HyperX USB 3. They will be available in 8GB and 4GB kits of two starting at 1. What have evolved are our component relationships. But we remember that a few years ago. still has plenty of endurance f o r t h e t y p i c a l u s e r. launched its first HyperX enthusiast product almost 10 years ago. keep on the lookout for some limited-edition SKUs. while maintaining the exact same performance specifications. Kingston’s SSDNow drives were among the first on the market to provide consumers with affordable solid-state boot drives. we were already the world’s largest third-party memory manufacturer. ML Q Kingston recently launched its 3K HyperX SSDs.Q&A With Mark Leathem Kingston’s VP Of Corporate Marketing On HyperX Q How long have Kingston’s HyperX enthusiast products been around.800MHz HyperX kits on ASUS. While the 3K has a lower endurance rating than the 5. and can you talk about the impetus for launching the brand? Kingston Technology. it only seemed appropriate to launch them under the HyperX brand. from dual-channel to triple-channel to quad-channel. and MSI Z77 motherboards.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->