After reviewing the ultra high-end Phantom 820 case, the folks over at NZXT sent us their newest in mid-range computing accessories: The Respire T20 and T40 CPU coolers. These two coolers are marked at $30 and $40 MSRP respectively, fitted with 1300-1800RPM fans (50CFM or 68.8CFM), and have a fairly standard aluminum heatsink design with copper heatpiping.
We benchmarked the Respire T20 vs. the T40 and were able to collect temperature performance data on each, so if you're considering buying either of these new CPU heatsinks, read on! We've also included a video review for those who want a more hands-on look at the product.
NZXT's cases have secured a reputation for their knifelike designs: the cases are sharp and emit an almost preternatural aura, using jagged, cutting elements in unique combination with rounded and beveled-out features. And in that fashion, they're almost very Alienware-like in aesthetic -- astral and radiant.
The company's offerings range from dirt cheap to otherworldly, with build quality scaling immoderately within that spectrum. We had the chance to review the crème-de-la-crème of NZXT's cases recently (including a video review, below): The behemoth Phantom 820, currently marketed at $250 for high-end or enthusiast system builders.
We were impressed.
A recent surge in fascination with integrated graphics processing technology may prove to be healthy for the hardware industry; as AMD (through Trinity) and Intel (through HD X000 IGPs) battle it out, these tiny systems have never been a more viable option for living room PC gamers. Aside from making excellent living room PCs and DIY / home-made consoles, the smaller builds we've worked with tend to be quiet and LAN party-friendly, which is great for the lite gamer who wants a discrete box.
In the coming weeks, we'll cover a wide range of HTPC topics (including video guides on how you can make the most of yours), with the goal of proving the viability of HTPCs as gaming platforms. But in preparation for those posts, we're kicking it all off with this: A review of SilverStone's SGUO SG08 HTPC case, which we'll be using for the ensuing articles. You'll find the video review below.
Our previous two HTPC build guides (a $475 option and $825 option) utilized Silverstone SUG-series, shuttle-styled cases. These cases are fantastic, but a bit pricey; in an exercise of price-slashing, we assembled a ~$300 HTPC with cheap-but-effective components. This worked out well, and as a result, we'll be posting several HTPC articles over the next month or two (based upon two different builds we did).
A video review accompnies this written review - see below for the embedded video.
This review will focus directly on the case of the cheap HTPC build. Cases are, for some reason, exceedingly difficult for me to choose; I've always debated heavily over case choice. This is, in part, because I'm a proponent of system style and like my computers to have an overarching theme. The theme of this system, though, was dirt cheap. APEX offers their DM-387 minimalistic case for somewhere in the range of $45 (it was on sale for $35 when we picked it up), so it fit the bill; it ships with a 275W PSU, even further accommodating the self-imposed price limitations.
Following up with our guide to picking the best gaming case for your PC, we went on a quest to review more cases and research the facets of system builder personalities. We recently introduced you to the affordable mid-tower Rosewill R5; today, we switch gears and take a look at a high-end gaming case, NZXT's Switch 810 full tower.
Building budget gaming PCs has become a bit of a hobby of ours -- our latest Guild Wars 2 PC build utilized Zalman's Z11 Plus, we've previously used the HAF 22 and 12 cases, Antec's renowned 300, and many more; when we first spotted the Rosewill R5 at PAX East 2012, we were blown away by its promised features and targeted price-point of $70. Things changed, though, and that prototype version had a few more features added to it (and the red LEDs removed) -- as such, the case is now an $80 mid-entry level gaming enclosure.
Evolutions in PC gaming technology make staggering, industry-driving lunges forward with each passing year; somehow, though, enthusiasts continue to demand increasingly-more from hardware companies as time drones on, and luckily, they're listening.
Or, at least, we think they are. Some of them.
3D technology has been around for a long time, but has grown significantly over the years - of late, "3D ready TVs" and "3D movies" have become the latest buzz words, and public opinion seems to slant toward gimmicky and borderline useless. We're here to analyze the uses and pitfalls of nVidia's gaming version of 3D technology, which they've named 3D Vision (we've spoken about it before).
This article is meant to be one of the most in-depth analyses of 3D technology currently available on the web, so that means it's going to be comprehensive and, namely, long. Don't worry, though: we'll be able to convey the positives and the negatives to help your decision making. For your convenience, we've paginated the article into several sections. We've also summarized our opinions, so if you're short on time, start with that and go from there. There is also a TL;DR summary of each major paragraph at the end of the section, so check those out! Let's get to the question on everyone's mind:
How many gamers can honestly say they have a mousepad worthy of their presence? I'd wager my reserved copy of StarCraft 2 that more than 70% of you own either a $3 or a $20 pad (apparently a block of foam/gel costs $17). Brace yourself, and your wallet, because the Razer eXactMat X does not only dominate the letter X, but also the tens and twenties - it's $30.
The Gel Pad for many gamers is a primary concern, as it reduces chance of repeated stress injury, and the eXactMat's gel pad forms to fit your wrist precisely. Unlike a few non-name brands that we've tested here at GN, Razer's wristrest does not seem to degrade and turn hard (like your inflamed tendons) overtime. Razer sells replacement gel strips for $6, so if it gets torn up you can always replace it. The pad is attached to a strip of rubber, which is placed underneath the mousing surface, making for easy replacement and movement. Unfortunately, the major downside on the Razer eXactMat X, other than the randomly capitalized letters in its name, is its size. Get ready to clear some of the soda cans off of your desk, because this wide load wants the room - it's 13" x 10.5". Yeah, a whole freakin' foot wide, that is some serious real estate. Once you find the room though, the mousepad is certainly worth it.
I've actually seen an increase in my ability to play games in two aspects: comfortability, letting me frag longer without wrist pains, also I've seen an increase in my micro/K:D (when I decide to play seriously, and turn down Lonely Island's latest album). No, I'm not saying you'll be OMGFATAL1TY!1! if you buy this pad, I'm just saying it has helped me play better. A good choice for any gamer that is health-conscious, and any gamer who might be looking for a score booster!
The Good: Finally! A mousing surface that is worthy of the title "Gaming Grade", for a price that isn't too much of a punch. Smooth, efficient, double-sided, comes with gel pad, bears the Razer emblem for your bragging rights - this mousepad is a high-end replacement for your "piece of blue fabric with rubber underneath". It may sound funny, but the mousepad seems to work with the G5 easily, detecting the lazer more accurately than other so-dubbed "lazer-sensative mousepads". Rubber-footing on the bottom prevents the surface from moving while you whip your mouse around the desk in intense situations.
The Bad: $30, and since you will likely have to buy it remotely, add in another $5 or $10 for shipping. Yeah, I paid $10 for shipping. The box was big enough to fit a bike in it. Mousepad is somewhat large in comparison to other pads, but it is worth making room in your gaming arsenal. Too many X's, it feels like we're playing tic-tac-toe. Would you name a mousepad MOuseSpOt O? Seriously, we get it.
Overall: Razer has once again established themselves as a truly unique gaming company, offering more than just mice and keyboards. If you're desperate to move on from your deteriorating surface, or just desperate for a score booster, give the eXactMat X a try.
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