Hardware Guides

Active air cooling can hold its own as extremely efficient when utilized to its fullest potential -- in fact, in many instances, it's often more cost-to-temperature effective to use case fans instead of liquid cooling. Maybe a future article with benchmarks? This portion of our 'The Basics of Case Fans' guide covers the differences in case fan bearings, sleeve vs. ball bearings, "fluid" (hydro) dynamic, and we'll briefly touch on magnetic bearings.

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Part one of this guide can be found here: Case Fan Placement Theory
Part two of this guide can be found here: Quieter Gaming and Case Fan Size

psu-thermaltakeIt's time to put that bastard Clippy to work. If you've been wondering where he found work after Office no longer had a need for him, it's here: Testing power supplies.

After our video on how to replace a CPU heatsink fan, I immediately went to work on the next video: We'll be testing a PSU without plugging it into anything else today. You can simulate a connection by using a paperclip to bridge the green and one of the black wires in the 20+4 pin connector. Watch the video for full details.

Video Guide: Replace a CPU Heatsink Cooling Fan

By Published February 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Our very first video hardware guide is here! Huzzah! The overwhelming response from the community has pushed us in a new direction to start producing quality videos in accompaniment with our amazing articles, so here's the first 'test' video to check out lighting, format, and overall flow.

In this basic case modding guide -- and I mean very basic -- we look at how to replace an aftermarket CPU heatsink cooling fan on a Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme with a new fan (mostly for longevity and LED purposes). It's very easy and requires only one thing: A screwdriver. Get those nerd muscles ready to sweat! Here's the guide:

As hardware and gaming enthusiasts, it's easy to acknowledge the sheer amount of complexity behind the continual stability exhibited by high-end gaming CPUs and components. The basics of processing technology advance in pendulous, perfectly-timed swings with each passing iteration of Intel and AMD's respective flagship models; enthusiasts can certainly appreciate the level of performance gained with, for example, the institution of Sandy Bridge architecture, or to go old-school, the implementation of hyperthreading on P4 CPUs. Even in non-CPU examples, the evolution of SSDs and their usefulness is worthy of mention, albeit somewhat ignored. It's something we experience every day: The changes of these technologies are instantly visible through virtue of playing games and using applications.

So the engineering behind each chip is appreciated -- but the manufacturing process (2 - 3 months), the development process (a full 2 - 2.5 years), and the unbelievable level of science behind the two in combination are hardly noticed when reading up on budget gaming rigs or explaining the functionality to newcomers. All of this comes down to one question: Where and how are CPUs made? We'll answer the latter in an extensive series, but the rest remains below...

cpu-fab-location-mapSeveral other factories exist. Fab32 is also in Arizona and manufactures modern chips, Fab42 is up-and-coming.
Click to enlarge.

With all of the builds that we pump out here at GN, like our excellent $558 build i3-2120 gaming build, we've had a lot of you ask how we manage to consistently pick out unique deals. As part of our "How to Build a Gaming PC" guide, this article covers the "cutting corners" aspect of PC building. As much as we'd like to lay claim to some sort of book of secrets about hardware, it's truly as simple as knowing our way around websites, knowing what old hardware can be recycle/salvaged/cannibalized from an old PC, and finding creative methods to hack the price.

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Building a gaming computer is exceedingly easy: If you can use a screwdriver, have at least one thumb and a couple of bucks, and can read, you're already off to a great start. It can be intimidating when looking at all the options for gaming PCs and figuring out if X is compatible with Y, if you should get an SSD, the differences between a 7950 and 7970, NVIDIA vs. AMD/ATI, and so forth, but it's actually quite simple once we define our requirements in this first part of our multi-part First PC Build Guide for Noobs.

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Future installments of this guide will look at "where to start" when shopping, if you'd like to build budget PCs in the manner that we do, how to pick a CPU, video card differences, and anything else that gets asked of us. Write a comment below or post on our hardware forums if you have questions!

When you really start getting elbow-deep into PC building and specs -- much deeper than our recent budget PC builds have gone -- it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the acronyms and terminology used by white papers and specification sheets. Our previous video card guide looked at the pros and cons of AMD vs. NVIDIA for gaming, but this one is (relatively) universal and can be applied to almost all aspects of graphics processing technology. This "GPU Dictionary" explains the difference between memory clocks and core clocks, shader specs, what a ROP is, and some other basic (and fun) GPU phrases.

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Similar to our surprisingly in-depth case fan guide, this GPU dictionary is outlined in such a way that it will retain relevance through time, so - for the most part - you won't have to worry about re-learning anything.

Graphics Wars: AMD vs NVIDIA for Gaming

By Published January 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I recently spoke with someone who claimed he'd never divert from AMD, despite what Intel or nVidia have available. For innumerable reasons, brand loyalty and fanboyism leads to ignorance and decreased performance. None of these brands are immaculate and all of them are prone to failures and shortcomings -- in this nVidia vs. AMD for gaming piece, we'll focus on the advantages of each and how you can make informed decisions about video / graphics cards selections for your gaming rigs.

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If our in-depth case fan tweaks - a topic which only very, ah, special people find interesting - is any indicator, we love hardware. Especially gaming hardware -- it's customizable, it's tweak-able, and it is effectively an expensive toy, albeit one that you really don't want to break. Or share. Get away, it's all mine!

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The hardware release schedule for CPUs, video cards, chipsets, and other important gaming equipment isn't firm yet, but this article collates all the data we have accumulated over the past months to combine a 'hardware release timeline' for 2012. We'll be pinpointing the upcoming Intel Ivybridge release date as well as AMD's second iteration of Bulldozer-esque CPUs, the hard drive market, the new 79XX AMD/ATi video card series, and some cool nVidia gear as well. This guide will give you a solid idea of whether or not you should wait to upgrade or act now. We've made a convenient chart of the pending releases below...

With the myriad of fan sizes available today it can be tough to truly understand the difference of larger fans without hands-on experience -- that's what we're here for. Our previous guide explained the basics of fan placement and our recommended number of fans per system, this guide will go into depth on fan sizes, quieter gaming fans, and we'll set the stage for our next article, which will cover case fan bearing types and technologies.

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120mm fans used to be the prevailing option for gaming cases, but in the last year or two, companies like Cooler Master, Antec, and Thermaltake have pushed the combinatory usage of 140mm, 200mm, and even 220mm+ fans in their larger cases. 120mm fans are still abundant in the sub-$100 range, but the larger variations do have a noticeable impact on noise-levels and cooling efficiency. This is for reasons that are much more transparent than most would think -- let's make it easy by looking again at the physical properties of fan size:

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