Hardware Roundup

Reviews in review

THIS WEEK’S hardware roundup has suffered a bit of a delay, so we’ll try and make up for lost time by putting some extra ‘oomph’ into it.

As it happens, it’s been a very prolific week in which to gaze upon hardware sites and reap their hard work. There are some really good reviews out there, while nibble away at our geeky curiosity. We’ve tried to put these into some shape and order so you can navigate through them in some order.

GPU

We’ve come across one of those highly-tweaked graphics cards that companies are getting creative with, the MSI NGTX 275 Lightning. It’s just about as far as Nvidia will have it tweaked, but MSI appears to have done a good job here. Catch it at Bit Tech.

Tom’s Hardware has spent a good deal of time playing around with an AGP graphics card. Yeah, that old interface coupled with an HD 4650 GPU. It does breathe some life into the old girl, but the CPU tens to show its age. Give it a look.

And so THG went on to do some overclocking and try and kill that CPU bottleneck. Which he did. An 600MHz overclock to the aging X2 3800+ gave performance a reasonable increase. Unfortunately your money is better put into an AGP HD 3850. See for yourselves.

Hillbilly Hardware has been testing out AMD’s newest Catalyst drivers (9.8). George put up single, dual and tri-fire numbers for his HD 4890 rig. Small gains all around, he says. The third GPU really doesn’t make that much of a difference, either. Lookie here.

CPU

Just about every site has raved about the price/performance on the Phenom IIs, but not many have give the Athlon II X2 250 it’s dues. Well, Overclock 3D has a review. Now the interesting part is that Milind did face off the X2 250 against an almost-identical Intel system with an E8400. What do you get? Well, for £60 extra on the E8400, you get an average 13% better performance. Look at ‘em go.

PC World Denmark went off on a high-end CPU crusade. Sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? But Ken threw in all the top AMD and Intel CPUs in one big melting pot. Bang-for-buck, AMD has it. Absolute performance… Intel. Pretty much what you guessed going in.

Dual-cores are now the lower-end of the desktop food-chain and as such, offer great price/performance. Inpai/Hardspell compares 16 dual-core CPUs, top to bottom. Looking at the performance, it seems everyone’s a winner no matter what budget you have. (Warning: page loads slow.)

Motherboards

Two different Ion motherboards are given a complete thrashing at Anandtech. The Asrock Ion 330 – an OEM box, really, with dual-core Atom and Ion chipset – and the Asus AT3N7A-I (just a plain Ion mobo). The Asus is a bit of a whiner, as the tiny 40mm fan spins at around 6,000 RPM. Buggy drivers don’t help either. Here they are.

Biostar doesn’t get the credit it deserves these days. Whether it’s their AMD ACC control unlocking cores or whether just a simple and cheap TPower i55 P55-based motherboard, Biostar has been doing some good stuff. OC Workbench has a video review here.

ECS is also playing hard on the motherboards field, as their new A785GM-M 785G-based AM3 motherboard gets reviewed at PC Perspective. The PCB does say “Hybrid Graphics” but our experience tells us you’re stuck with “Hybrid Power”. You can get one of these for under $75.

Memory

Trusted Reviews, a review site in the UK, goes out of its usual review coverage to test the OCZ PC3-16000 Gold triple channel solution. What’s shocking is how low prices have dropped with DDR3, especially those aiming at Core i7 platforms. Oh, and the OCZ ones performed above and beyond.

Storage

Storage is all about the SSD, nowadays. SSD this, SSD that. Well. That’s quite true, really, and we can’t blame all the sites that carry these reviews.

Benchmark Reviews, for one, tests the Kingston SSDNow V+ Series 64GB SSD. Kingston gets its stuff from Intel, so this is like testing the newer version of the X-25M. Fast, very fast. Expensive, yeah, still expensive. Here.

Think Computers another V-Series (in its 128GB version) using a JMicron controller. It isn’t as fast compared to current SSDs, but it’s still fast (and cheap enough) to make your SATA drive weep. Now, Kingston did some tweaking and got a very very cheap end product. Well worth the look.

Anandtech wrote an SSD Odyssey by re-analysing all the bits of tech that make SSDs so controversial and desired. 27 pages of sheer SSD geekiness.

Laptop Mag on the other hand held an SSD shootout this past week. Considering the advances in cell manufacturing and controller technology, prices have been on a slide for a while, warranting this new roundup.

Just to take your mind off SSDs for a while, Legit Reviews tested the Thecus M3800 NAS Stream Box. It’s a NAS, and it, uh… streams. Based on an AMD Geode LX800 SoC, it’s really an N3200 Pro box modded for media streaming. 40W standby power does sound suspiciously high, though.

Cases

TweakTown has Corsair’s foray into case building territory: the Obsidian 800D (full tower). Chad says it’s got everything in the right place, which means Corsair did its homework. Big tower, over here.

A premium brand, SilverStone has a Fortress FT01 case tested at Motherboards.org. Good venting and filtering keep the dust bunnies away, according to Ben.S|A

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