CUSTOM CUSTOM PC

COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE HANDS-ON
; What’s the best card for Skyrim and Battlefield 3? Ba ; AMD’s stunning stunn new card

NEXT-GEN GR APHICS CARDS: BUYER’S GUIDE
PLUS

THE BEST-SELLING MAG FOR PC HARDWARE, OVERCLOCKING, GAMING & MODDING H S C G

ISSUE 102 B MAR 2012 B £4.50

THE BEST 5.1 SPEAKERS OUR HOME NETWORKING GUIDE

THE END OF THE WORLD? OUR PREDICTIONS FOR 2012

Welcome to Issue 102
cover story

contents
NEXT-GEN GRAPHICS CARDS
Withsomany greatgames releasedforthe PCthisChristmas,we’veput everygraphicscardavailable throughitspacestofindout whichisthefastest.Readour upgradeguidetofindout whichoneisrightforyou.

58

42

46

10

Fedupwithunreliablewireless connectionsanddon’tfancydrillingholesin yourskirtingboard?Thenyoushouldcheck outoneoftheseawesomeHomePlug networkingkits.

38 50 56

highlights
HOMEPLUGAV500
andgadgetsincludesaradio-controlledcar withintegratedvideocameraandapuntastic dinosaurboardgame.

LOGITECHZ906

Logitechhasfinallyupdatedits legendaryZ55005.1speakers.Wefindout howthenewmodelsounds.

WeputAMD’snext-generationHD 7970graphicscardthrougharigoroussetof teststodiscoverwhetherit’sawesomeor merelyanalso-ran.

66 96

AMDRADEONHD79703GB

Joereckonsthatthisgamefrom indiedeveloperFrozenbyteisgorgeous,varied andintelligent.Findoutwhyinourreview.

98

TRINE2

Thetrailermayhavebeendirected byMichaelBay,butdon’tletthatputyouoff. Thisracinggameisgenuinelybrilliant.

100 NEEDFORSPEED:THERUN 118
READERS’DRIVES

BATMAN:ARKHAMCITY

CUSTOMKIT
Thismonth’sselectionofgoodies

ThelatestBatmangameopensup thewholeofArkhamCityforyoutoexplore. Wefindoutifit’saknockoutorakerr-pow!

Feastyoureyesononeofthe best-lookingPCmodsevercreatedbya CustomPCreader.

4

March 2012

cover guide

103 58 50 38 108 108 96 56

1ssue 102
Reviewed this month
CASES 32 CM Storm Trooper 35 Thermaltake Overseer RX-I NETWORKING 38 Devolo dLAN AVmini 500 38 Devolo dLAN AVplus 500 38 D-Link PowerLine AV 500 38 NetGear AV+ 500 CPU COOLERS 42 Alpenföhn K2 44 Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 SCREEN 46 Philips 273ELHSB SSD 48 Kingston HyperX 240GB SPEAKERS 50 Logitech Z906

Hardware

36
PRODUCTS REVIEWED

52

FAN CONTROLLER Aerocool V12XT

50

WedragMysticMegoutofthelabto findoutwhattechnologyenthusiastscanlook forwardtointheyearahead.

108 COMINGIN2012

7 From the Editor 9 Bandwidth 10 Hardware preview 14 Download 16 Incoming 18 CPC Elite products 54 How we test 94 Grumpy Gamer 106 Grudge Match 107 Required Playing

Regulars

56 56 56 57 57 57

Custom Kit

Revan Logitech Mini Boombox BoxWave Keyboard Buddy Hot Wheels Video Racer Kobo Vox Evo

Graphics card Labs test
60 61 62 64 65 66 70 72 74 75 76 77

Community

Weshowyoutheeasiestandsafestwaytocut aholeinyourcasethat’sperfectformounting awater-coolingradiator.

122 HOWTOCUTARADIATOR BLOWHOLE

118 Reader’s Drives 122 How to cut a radiator blowhole 124 Mod of the Month 125 Folder of the Month 126 Your folding milestones 127 Where’s Wendel? 127 What’s That? 128 For the Win!

AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB and 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6970 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 1.3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 1.3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3GB

Games

96 Batman: Arkham City 98 Trine 2 99 Steel Armor: Blaze of War 100 Need for Speed: The Run 103 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 104 Dragon’s Dogma
March 2012 5

TECHNOLOGY

opinion

THE END OF AN ERA
As Editor James Gorbold writes his final column, he looks back over the past nine years of Custom PC

from the editor

t

omisquotealinefromtheseminalsci-fifilmBladeRunner, I’veseenthingsyoupeoplewouldn’tbelieve.Powersupplies andgraphicscardsonfireintheCustomPClab.Iwatched CPUdiesglitterinthedarkastheywereborninTaiwan.Allthose momentswillbelostintime… liketearsinrain…Timetodie. You’llhavetoforgivemymelancholictone,butthisismylastcolumn andthelastissueofCustomPCthatI,withthehelpofthetalented teamthatIhavebuiltoverthepastnineyears, willbeproducing.CustomPCwasborninthe summerof2003,thebrainchildofateamof journalists(includingyourstruly)ledbythe ambitiousGarethOdgen,wholeftusafter50 issuestosailthesevenseaswithCorsair. Ihadhopedthatwewouldbeabletogo outwithaspecial100thissue,packedwith exceptionalreviewsandfeatures,butevents overtookusandinsteadI’mwritingthisin Issue102. However,toreturntomybastardisedquote,overthepast102 issuesandthesupplement,bookazineandspecialissuesnumber 0and92-and-a-halfthatwe’vealsopublished,Ihonestlybelieve thatwe’vehadtheopportunitytotestsuchanamazingvarietyof technologythat,whateverthedoomandgloomcrowdmightpredict abouttheendofthePC/capitalism/planet,thehumanracestillhasa verybrightfutureaheadofit. Thatsaid,it’snowthestartofaneweraforCustomPC,soI’dliketo thankallourreadersfortheirvaluablesupportandfeedbackoverthe pastnineyears.I’vereallyenjoyedmakingthismagazineforyou.In particular,I’veenjoyedmeetingsomanyreadersovertheyearsto discussourfavouritesubject:ourPCs.

I’d like to thank all our readers for their valuable support and feedback over the past nine years

Whetherthesemeetingstookplaceattheoverclockingevents we’veorganisedovertheyears,ortherecentLITSshowinLondonor byemail,phoneorourforum,itwasapleasuretomeetyouall. I’dalsoliketothankallourpartnersintheindustrywhichhave supporteduswithproductsamples,technicalhelpandideasover theyears.Itwouldunfairtosingleoutanyindividualsorparticular companies,butI’dparticularlyliketothankthelettersA,B,C,D,E,I, J,M,N,P,RandS. Nojournalistlikestothinktoomuchabout advertising,butI’dalsoliketothankallthe companiesthathavesupportedCustomPC overtheyears–withoutthem,wewouldn’t havebeenabletospendnearlyasmuchtime aswediddevisingnewwaystotortureyourkit. So,assomeofusareheadingofftopastures new,onbehalfofmytalentedanddedicated team,I’dliketosayforthelasttimethatIhope youenjoyreadingthisissueofCustomPC. DenniswillcontinuetopublishCustomPC,butasofnextmonth, themagazinewillbeunderthehelmofitsfourtheditor,thevery talentedBenHardwidge.I’vehadthepleasureofknowingand workingwithBenformorethanadecade,andI’msurethathewill takeCustomPCininterestingnewdirections.Iwishhimtheverybest ofluck. Asformyself,itwillprobablynotsurprisemanyofyou,particularly themembersofourepicfolding@hometeam,tohearthatI’moffto indulgemypassionforeverythingfast,workingatacompanythat designsandbuildshigh-performancecomponentsand supercomputers.
EDITOR@CUSTOMPC.CO.UK

March 2012

7

BANDWIDTH

opinion

WELCOME TO PLAY IT TOUGH, CUSTOM PC OR SMART?
L
atelastyearIwasaskedifwe’dliketoreviewacoupleofnew elcometothisspecialeditionofCustomPC.Whether PSUs;Ihadtopolitelydeclinethisofferuntilthenewyearaswe you’renewtothemagazineoraregularreader,you didn’thavethetimetosetupatestsessionwithaChroma mayhavealreadynotedthatthiseditionofCustom calibrationmachineatanexternalfacility.Thereplywasbaffling.‘Iwill PCispresentedinanall-newformfactor. havetoreviewwhatadvertisingworkwearecarryingoutwithyouas CustomPChasalwaysstoodoutonthenewsstand-itwasthefirst PCpublicationtobeprintedonoversizedA4paperandtomake weareclearlynotmaximisingmessagingtogether.Inowfeelthatyou extensiveuseofgloriousfull-bleedimagesthatallowedyoutogetup arehappytotakeourmoney,butnotsupporttheproductweare closeandpersonalwiththeamazinghardware pushingthroughyou.’Wheretostart? thatwereview.However,afterproducing92 It’seasytolaughatsuchareply–evenmoreso,consideringthat issuesinthisformat,wefeltitwashightimefor themanufacturerinquestionwasn’t CustomPCtoevolvefurther. advertisinginCustomPCatthatpoint,andthe factthatwe’dreviewedplentyofotherproducts Therefore,fromthisissueonwardsCustom PCwillbepresentedinthiscompactnewform fromthesamemanufacturerin2011.Someof factor,makingitmucheasiertocarryaround themevenwonawards.Behindthelaughter withyouandarchiveathome.Thisisn’ttheonly liesaseriouspoint,however. changewe’vemadethough;we’vealsoadded Theproblemisthatahealthyindustryneeds 16morepagessothatyoucanreadaboutmore innovativeandcompetitivemanufacturers,a hardware,overclocking,moddingandgaming marketinwhichtoselltheproductsand ineveryissue.InthemodernworldofVAT servicesofthesecompanies(that’syou),anda increasesandinflation,you’llalsobepleasedto trustworthysourceofinformationaboutthese hearthatyoucanacquireallthisextravaluableeditorialcontent productsandservices(that’susandourrespectedrivals).We withoutpayingapennymore. knowthatCustomPCisastrongpartofthatthirdaspect,asretailers alwaystellusofsurgesinsalesaftereachissuehashittheshelves. Speakingofcontent,we’vealsorestructuredCustomPCsothatyou canfindrelatedarticlesmoreeasily.Forexample,we’vecreatedanew Guesswhathappenswhenyouremovethetrustworthyinformation gamingsectionfocusingonthebestnewreleases,plushighlights source–it’sdamaging,whetheryou’reinterestedinprofitorbuilding fromthegamingcommunityintheshapeofthemostinteresting agreatPC. modsandwebgames. Thecruxoftheissueisthatmoney’stightforeveryone,so advertisersneedtosqueezeeverylastounceofbenefitfromevery We’vealsocreatedanewmoddingsection,whichincludesaneasyto-followstep-by-stepguide,andthebestin-progressandcomplete deal.However,moneyistightforustoo,soshouldwealsotoughen modsbyotherreadersofCustomPC.IfyoucontinuetobuyCustom up?Afterall,wecouldconsiderreviewsasgivingmanufacturersa

editor’s letter Bandwidth

W

Editor are two ways to approach the year ahead There James Gorbold welcomes you Del in utet praestis nullutat, quismoduse your brain and – get your fists out and fight, or ent lorpero od tie dolorpe Magna facinci eaWebster prefersautem in think. Deputy editor Clive adiamet alit et the latter
freeride–apositivereviewequalsmoresalesandincreasedprofit,so PCeverymonth,you’llsoonlearnalltheskillsyouneedtomakeyour couldn’twesaythatwe’llonlyreviewkitfromadvertisers,orthatwe’ll owneye-catchingmoddedorscratch-builtPC. guaranteesomanyreviewsforanyonethatbooksadvertisingfor12 Finally,we’vetakenalonghardlookattheElitesection -our months?Thatwouldprobablyspelltheendofeditorialindependence shoppingguidetothebestcomponentsthatwe’vereviewedoverthe though.Forexample,perhapswe’dhavetostartpullingbadreviews lastfewmonths.Theoldcluttereddesignhasbeenreplacedbya ofproductsifwelinkedadvertisingspendtoincreasedsalesvia sleeknewshoppinglist-styleguidethatmakesitfareasiertodecide positivereviewsorsomethingevenmoredisagreeable. whichcomponentsworkbesttogether,andwhichupgradesarethe Abetteransweristogotheotherway–toappealtothereader,and mostworthwhile. giveyoumoreofwhatyouwantandencourageyoutobuyeveryissue. Complementingallthisbrilliantnewcontent Andthenanotheroneforallyourfriends. isafreshlookfortheentiremagazine.The Maybethelastisalittletooambitious,but intentionbehindthisredesignwastocleanup thephilosophyissimilartotheideaofa thelookandfeelofCustomPC-theolddesign magazineitself. wasshowingitsageandthepageswere Whileyoumighthaveboughtthisissuefor becomingstrewnwithanever-increasing thegraphicscardmegatest(seep58),hopefully numberofelements. there’splentymoreinsidethathasinformed, I’mconfidentthatonceyou’vereadthrough, entertainedandeducatedyou.That’sthe andexperiencedthisnewandenlargededition strengthofamagazine:thesecondaryfeature ofCustomPC,thatyou’llagreethenewlookis thatopenedyoureyes,theproductthatyou considerablymorepleasingtotheeye.Itallows hadn’totherwiseheardorthoughtabout,and youtomoreeasilyfindtheinformationyou theopinionspresentedinconclusionsandcolumnsthatadviseyou need,whetherit’sanat-a-glanceoverviewoftheproductunder aboutyournextupgrade. review,oritskeytechspecsandscoresinourbenchmarks. TherelevantpeoplehaveputloadsofthoughtintowhatCustomPC Ihopeyouenjoyreadingthenewissueasmuchasweenjoyed needstobeasamagazine,soaswellasanewnumbertowriteatthe craftingitforyou. endofdates,you’llhavearefreshedmagazinetoreadin2012too. EDITOR@CUSTOMPC.CO.UK Itlookslikeatoughyearahead,butthattypicallyappliestolarger organisationsthathaverefusedtochange.However,small Jamesistheeditorofbit-techandCustomPC,andwhilethis companiescanthriveinthesecircumstances–Microsoftand mainlyconsistsofslavingoverspreadsheetsandbusinessplans Googlehadtostartsomewhere. hestillfindstimetoacquirethelatestCPUsfromAMDandIntel

pull quote here incil eros non answer is to A better ulla faccum vulput inis ex of give you moreeu feumsan et, consed what you want and etue feuissim vull encourage you to andre every issue buy facipit augue

Month 2011 9 9 March 2012

We take a look at the hottest new hardware

preview
WhilewelikedtheoriginalNZXT Phantom,itsfull-towersize madeitunwieldy.ThePhantom 410retainstheangularglossy stylinginamoremanageable mid-towerpackage.

GHOST WHO WALKS

Despiteitsreducedsize, thePhantom410isanATX caseandoffersanintegrated fancontrollerandsupportfor uptoeightfans.Youcaneven fitadual120mm-fan radiatorintheroof.

TARDIS

JUST IN... NZXT PHANTOM 410 AND ANTEC SOLO II
Is your PC looking a little tired and in need of sprucing up? The CPC lab has been inundated with interesting new cases over the past few weeks, catering for both the super-quiet and the super-cooled. We’ll be taking a look at some of the best in next month’s Labs test.
March 2012 10

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful