PC & Peripheral Reviews

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It isn't the processor that makes a really cheap computer slow. Or the memory or the video card (or lack of video card). The primary reason your cheap laptop loudly chugs along at glacial speeds is because of the hard drive. Cheap laptops use cheap hard disk drives, which are much slower than the solid state drives found in better computers. But Intel's new Optane Memory changes that. This little $70 chip makes a cheap hard disk drive run as fast as a solid state drive.

6

These days, 1080p is so passe. I don't even get out of bed for anything less than 1440p. But 4K, now, that's where it's at. My new TV is 4K, my next monitor will probably be 4K. 4K is the future, for everything from Netflix to gaming. But gaming at 4K requires a gutsy PC, and that means investing in some top of the line hardware. Want to play the latest games at 4K? Nvidia has got you covered with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a graphics card with a significant jump in power from even last year's already-barnstorming GTX 1080.

3

I've never been to hell, but I imagine it's a lot like going to work and using an abysmally slow computer. That's exactly what I've been doing for the past two weeks, as I've plodded along in my own personal nightmare using a tiny, $US250 PC built for emerging markets.

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1

People are prepared to pay vastly different amounts for quality. For some, $80 for a standard Xbox or PlayStation controller is enough, while the $200 for an Elite is pushing it. Others might be happy to pay $300 or $400 on headphones, but would never spend more than $100 on a gaming mouse.

It's a tricky business, peripherals. And that's the problem facing the SCUF Infinity1 and Infinity4PS, controllers that start at $220 and go up to a staggering $320.

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3

Earlier this year Corsair refreshed its mechanical keyboards with the LUX RGB line, and I liked them so much that I ended up buying one for myself.

And I thought that'd be it for the year. They were the best keyboards I'd used in a good while. They were small, did everything I wanted, and didn't break the bank.

But then iKBC came along.

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1

Year by year, the world is migrating from 1080p. 1440p is now become the sweet spot even for mid-range graphics cards. Even consoles are making a break for the 4K horizon, courtesy of the PS4 Pro and Microsoft's Project Scorpio.

But if you want to purchase a 4K monitor today, it's not enough to do it for gaming. There has to be a productivity benefit. So over the last few months, I've been using one of LG's latest 4K monitors - the 27UD88-W, a $900 4K monitor with an IPS panel, FreeSync and a very versatile USB-C port.

0

With the rise and rise of small, powerful PCs like the MSI Vortex G65 that can live beside a TV rather than alongside a computer monitor, PC games are increasingly being played in living rooms — like your console on steroids — rather than at a desk or in a home office. To game from the couch, though, requires a little extra effort, because you're juggling a keyboard and mouse rather than an all-in-one handheld controller. A lapboard like the Roccat Sova makes it easy to sit back on a lounge and type and scroll away with the traditional PC gaming setup that you're familiar with.

3

If you want your new PC to run Intel's newest and most powerful ever Broadwell-E processors, you need an equally powerful motherboard. This high-end gear is usually somewhat more expensive than mainstream tech — you have to pay to play — but it comes with a bunch of extras that make it worth the extra asking price. That's a very accurate summary of the MSI X99A XPower Gaming Titanium, a $700 motherboard that integrates every single feature you could possibly need from a powerful gaming or content creation rig. Here are five things you need to know about it.

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0

I love a good mechanical keyboard. There's something so satisfying about hearing the light tapping noises when I punch down on the keys. While mechanical keyboards are highly prized by gamers and coders, they can also be appealing to those that work on PCs on a regular basis. I often work from home so having a keyboard that is suitable for gaming and work would be the Holy Grail for me. Does the Ozone Strike Pro fit the bill? Let's find out.

1

Two years ago, Samsung burst onto the market with the 850 Pro — its first SSD with 3D flash memory, with high speeds and correspondingly high prices — and followed that up with the more affordable 850 Evo. Now, memory manufacturer Crucial is the second company to use 3D NAND in a 2.5-inch solid state drive, and it's aiming to provide both fast transfer speeds and high disk capacity — at a reasonable price.

2

Seagate has a portable hard drive that stores 8TB of your data. Not only does it store 8TB of your data, but it does that all while being powered by a single USB connector. Not only does it use a single USB connector, it uses the super-fast USB 3.1 Gen 2-toting Type-C, which is fully reversible and shares a cable with your equally new smartphone. Enter the Seagate Innov8 — smart name, right?

3

Broadly speaking, there are two types of people who need a portable hard drive. One type just needs a little additional storage periodically and would rather have something flexible and portable than a big honking drive that plugs into the wall. The other is the high-falutin' "professional on the go" who is taking pictures, recording video, and producing tremendous amounts of data while travelling so they carry a hard drive with them every single day. While the former has their pick of any of the drives available when you search "portable hard drive" on Amazon, the latter might prefer something a little more robust — like Western Digital's new My Passport Wireless Pro.

3

Samsung's portable SSDs bridge the gap between a small, throwaway USB flash drive — usually with a tiny storage capacity — and a larger portable USB hard drive. The new T3 really is the best of both worlds, and brings the luxury of high-speed USB Type-C too, but you'll pay a hefty premium for it.

3

Gaming PCs are meant to be big, right? They're meant to be in full-sized PC tower cases, with big loud case fans. And they're usually pretty ugly, if we're honest, and dump a whole bunch of waste heat at your feet while you're playing games. Oh, and they're meant to be built from off-the-shelf components, which means you're almost always better off buying them yourself and putting your own machine together rather than buying a pre-built machine. MSI's tiny Vortex G65 powerhouse gaming PC challenges all that.

6

The prospect of "getting into audio" is a daunting one. After sifting through loads of conflicting information on gear and best practices, even the most basic setups for podcasters and musicians starts costing, and quickly. Hence, the rise of the plug-and-play USB microphone.