Hardware Guides

The release of Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPU line (we gave an overview of the spec differences here) brings the question of ‘where’s the best place to buy an Ivy Bridge CPU?’ We’ve scoured the Interwebz all morning and, luckily, have found a handful of retailers that are offering extremely competitive prices. Here’s a listing of all the major retailers (online and physical) and their corresponding Intel Ivy Bridge prices:

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The much-awaited Ivy Bridge tick (or ‘3rd Generation CPUs’) of Intel’s CPUs are now available from retailers all over, so we’ve compiled a chart to analyze and compare all the different specs of these Ivy Bridge CPUs in one place. We look into the Ivy Bridge CPU differences below, but before making any decisions, be sure to reference our Ivy Bridge pricing guide.

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Keep in mind that these are compatible with the new Z77 chipset, which enables Visual BIOS (the newest iteration of UEFI), cool overclocking options, and plenty of other features. If you're interested in learning about Intel's motherboards, try this article.

Intel: “We Make More than Just CPUs”

By Published April 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm

With a market cap of $136B at its disposal (compared against AMD’s $5.3B), Intel has the financial stability to push the limits of microprocessor architecture with each massive tock in their constant tick-tock cadence. We discussed Visual BIOS and Intel’s third generation of computing with engineers at PAX East this year, where Senior Marketing Engineer Fred Birang of Intel wanted to make one thing very clear to the enthusiast and system building communities: “We make more than just CPUs.”

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He seemed passionate, so I pushed the point: “What is it that you want builders and gamers to know about motherboards?” Birang’s answer didn’t disappoint.

If I were your financial adviser, I'd tell you that a little bit of planning and maintenance can save you tons of headaches in the future. I'm not your financial adviser. I am a computer engineering instructor, so what I'll tell you is that a little bit of planning and maintenance can save you a ton of headaches in the future.

pm-really-gross-dustFun tip: Scrape this off with your finger, compress it into a ball, and tell your coworkers it's cookie dough.

This guide will explain preventative maintenance for computers and protecting an expensive investment (we're assuming you're running some sort of gaming build, here, so that makes it even more important to protect).

Let's look at some of the most commonly-spotted scenarios that we've seen on our hardware support forums:

Kingston HyperX 3K SSD Review & Benchmarks

By Published April 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

With one of the most fun-filled, chaotic, work-focused weekends of the year out of the way (that is, until the next convention), our team came home with an abundance of hardware to review and an enthusiastic approach to new technology analysis methodologies.

This review of Kingston's 240GB HyperX 3K SSD will look at its real-world gaming performance and synthetic benchmark results.

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PAX East 2012 saw us meeting with ASUS, who explained their key to success, Intel, where we saw their fancy Visual BIOS, and tons of other hardware companies -- Kingston is included in that list. David Leong, Kingston's resident expert, met with hardware editor Patrick Stone about some of 2012's newest storage, SSD, and memory technology, eventually exploring the company's newest volley into the market: The HyperX 3K SSD, released as an indicator of HyperX's 10th anniversary.

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Intel's motherboard engineering team wants to change your mind about their boards -- at PAX East this weekend, Senior Product Marketing Engineer Fred Birang told us: "When most people think of Intel, they think of CPUs. We want the gamer mindshare to know that we don't just make a great reference motherboard, we have a board that is as good -- if not better -- than anything out on the market."

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Known for having the coolest-sounding naming scheme in computing, chipsets operate at the core of every build we do here at GN -- by this point, all of you know the basics: P67 is good, Z68 is better, X79 (SB-E) is expensive; the 970 is good, the 990X is great, and AM3+'s 990FX is expensive (sort of). Great, so we have an idea of what to get relative to other chipsets, but that doesn't mean much. That's about as useful as knowing "DDR3 is better than DDR2," without truly knowing why. It's brochure knowledge.

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As we did with our GPU dictionary and SSD dictionary, this chipset guide will help explain what, exactly, a chipset is responsible for and what you should look for in future editions. This helps keep everyone on the cutting edge as new technology is announced and, better still, helps you actually understand what is needed, not just recommended.

We talk about bottlenecks in high-end, performance-centric gaming and development rigs all the time: the HDD vs. SSD chokepoint, AMD vs. NVIDIA graphics chips, and CPU disparities in our gaming build guides. One thing we often don't mention, though, is Internet speed -- and it makes perfect sense to talk about: Gaming is centered around performance, and even if you build one of our monstrous dev setups, none of that will matter in a multiplayer or team environment if pinched throughput or throttled speeds are at play.

Pando Networks, an analytical network performance and benchmarking firm -- funded in part by Intel -- recently released a study including the fastest and slowest average 'download speeds' in the US for 2011, getting down to city granularities. Here's a map we've created with the top fastest cities in the US for average download rates; it's important to state that these are only averages, which don't accurately reflect overall fastest and slowest speeds. If you have an evil ISP, as many of us do, you may see slower speeds than those listed. Similarly, those with particularly effective or forward-thinking ISPs may see faster rates.

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Computer hardware has been watered-down into a marketing game of bigger numbers, new, obscure specifications, and unexplained benchmark ratings, generally leaving consumers to fend for themselves. As we did in our GPU Dictionary, we'll break-down the very basics of SSD specs and take a look at how, on the top-level, SSDs work. Understanding how to read SSD specs is easy: As a consumer, there's no reason to read through pages-upon-pages of white papers to understand how electron tunneling works (but it is really cool) solely to buy a solid state drive, but there are a few primary numbers you should be concerned with (and a few to ignore).

Solid State Drives have been on our minds since the flooding in Thailand offset spindle-based prices, so let's delve into what to look for in one. As an add-on, I'd recommend also looking at our guide that discusses SSDs and gaming.

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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

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