THINGS ARE pretty tame right now as ATI and Nvidia gear up for Windows 7 and DirectX 11 SKU launches – or re-launches, in certain cases (*cough*).
GPUs still dominate the reviews as the market is currently flooded with custom, i.e., non-reference, graphics cards with unusual cooling solutions.
Still in ‘get creative with graphics’-land there’s a nice little review of the Sparkle Calibre X265 GeForce GTX 260 896MB graphics card. Elite Bastards has it, and it thinks there’s still a lot to be said about this generation of GPU.
Over at Overclockers Club, there’s the Asus ROG Matrix GTX 285. The Matrix cards are the crème de la crème of ASUS’ stuff and involve extensive customization of the cooling system to allow for some factory-overclocks. Comes with an Ooops-button to undo your own evil overclocking. Read about it here.
Actually Bit Tech also has another review of the same card. It’s like getting a second opinion at the doctor’s. It says it performs just as any other 285, but you can tweak it a bit more and squeeze some extra frames.
iXBT Labs (not Xbit) has another round of overclocking tests with a now semi-discontinued Phenom II X4 940. The processor might be a good opportunity for some budget buyers, as it’s probably one of the cheapest oc’ing CPUs out there, at just under $180. With good cooling you can squeeze com 800MHz or so out of it.
NZXT Zero 2 is an affordable full tower case with a twist. You can install up to four side 120mm fans to help keep a multi-GPU rig in order. It isn’t a looker, nor is it a very easy case to build in, but it might fit your needs. Think Computers tested one.
Rob Williams at Tech Gage tests an “affordable” X58 motherboard from Gigabyte. Feature-packed, as he put it, the board sells for under $260. Forget about overclocking, though, this board is for the tame ones. Read it here.
Xbit Labs reviews the Foxconn A7DA rev. 3.0. It’s a familiar motherboard that’s going into its 3rd revision, it costs very little compared to others and will do well for mainstream users.
Small HTPC boxes are actually quite affordable these days, if you know what to buy. Legit Reviews wrote up a DIY HTPC guide for Ion-based systems. If you want a low-power system with some 3D ability, you can give it a look.
Hardware Overclock has a review of an AquagraFX GTX 295 Single PCB cooler. Basically you replace your 2-slot cooler with a single massive custom-designed liquid-cooled plate, pump liquids through it and get a very nice cooling effect. The torrid GPUs came down from 179.6ºF to 136.4ºC *and* with a Core i7 in the loop. Mandatory reading.
When you hear the name Zalman, you know there’s something afoot. Zalman has a new cooler out there, it the CNPS10X Extreme, their first tower cooler. It’s PWM-driven fan can be controlled by software. Its biggest downside is the low clearance around the CPU. Overclockers Online had one.
Scythe, another big name in cooling, also has a new cooler out dubbed the Scythe Kabuto. Hardware Secrets tested it out for you and came up with one of the quietest coolers they heard to date. Get it here.
Corsair has upped the ante with a new series of SSDs. The X128 – for eXtreme –SSDs isn’t SLC based, but it does use the new Indilinx Barefoot controller and a sizable amount of cache to speed up operations. Guru of 3D was left awestruck.
You know what value is? Turning a $249 card into a $1500 card. Adrian’s Rojak Pot uses the ages-old RivaTuner to turn their GeForce 8800GTS into a Quadro FX 4600 card. This works for most professional 3D apps, so it might be worth looking at. S|A