Keep in mind that though most of us in the PC Hardware website realm generally fall in or near what I call the “extreme enthusiast”, more interested in overclocking, high-end gaming, or just owning powerful rigs…pretty much what you would have considered “an enthusiast” just a few years ago. But the term “enthusiast” has changed, encompassing a large number of new “enthusiasts”…the HTPC crowd, and those with high-end workstations. So rather than purchasing the upper end memory which will generally be purchased by the extreme enthusiast or overclocker, it is more likely that the buyer will get DDR3-1600 or DDR3-1333 memory. Today I will be looking at OCZ’s Platinum DDR3-1600 Low Voltage Dual Channel 4GB Memory Kit. It sports some tight timings of 7-7-7, and meets Intel’s requirement of doing its thing at a max of 1.65 volts. An has those beautiful platinum-plated OCZ Platinum heatspreaders. Will it live up to the expectations we have for OCZ memory? Read on to see!
There are a couple of other decisions that will have to be made, mainly whether or not to get ready for the two other new technologies on the market…SATA 6gb/s, and USB 3. Many new P55 motherboards have onboard SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3, but were you aware that most of them actually use PCI-E lanes to compensate for the lack of buses to utilize these new methods of data transfer, taking those valuable lanes away from the video cards? Today I will be looking at the Asus P7P55D-E Pro, a middle-of-the-road version of Asus’ new P55 motherboards that sport SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3 without PCI-E compensation. Yes, this board prepares you for the future while allowing you the full use of your PCI-E lanes for SLI or CrossfireX by using Asus’ new PLX implementation. Is the P7P55D-E Pro the P55 board to have? Read on to see!
In midsummer of 2009, our friends at Zalman released the CNPS 10X Extreme, a 5-heatpipe 120mm tower cooler with a built-in PWM fan controller. Though it wasn’t terribly different in the realm of tower coolers, it was a radical departure for Zalman, who hadn’t previously had a conventional-styled tower cooler in their lineup. I found the 10X Extreme to be an excellent cooler, easily keeping the extreme heat of the 130 watt LGA 1366 i7 to manageable levels. Zalman has based some other coolers off of the 10X Extreme. Today I will be looking at the Zalman CNPS 10X Performa, a more budget-minded version of the earlier 10X Extreme, which not only ended up being the best air cooler I cooled the LGA 1366 i7 with, but also the most expensive. Will the Performa live up to the expectations we have for Zalman coolers? Read on to see!
Then just last weekend I was chatting with a friend that had attended CES, who told me that Intel was working on a new LGA 1366 processor line, a six-core monster using 32nm…yeah, I know, I’m behind the times, the gossip about the new processors started back in Nov-Dec, but I was busy “fixing up” a “fixer-upper” house and moving during that time. Anyway, I got a little excited, hoping that maybe LGA 1366 wasn’t dead, just in hibernation. The very next day, lo and behold, our friends at Gigabyte placed a cool little gem into my hands…a brand new LGA 1366 motherboard, complete with onboard SATA 6GB/s and USB 3. Today I will be looking at the Gigabyte X58A-UD3R, the entry-level model of their three new X58 motherboards, which appear to be designated differently from the older models by an “A” after the X58 in their name, and ending with an “R” rather than the usual “P”. Will this be the board of the future? Read on to see!
All of these changes in processor and chipset design, along with Intel’s new 32nm manufacture process, opened the door for their latest and most radical change yet…placing the VGA on the processor. Yes, Intel’s new 2010 Core i5 600 series processors have on-die graphics processing. Of course to accommodate this, Intel has released a new motherboard chipset, the H55 Express. Sporting the same LGA 1156 socket as the P55, this new design has monitor ports in the I/O panel. So far I’ve seen 20 H55 motherboards for sale at my favorite online retailer. Of these 20 boards, 19 are mATX boards, including the motherboard I am looking at today, the Asus P7H55D-M EVO. Sporting Asus’ EVO cosmetics and onboard extras, this motherboard also natively supports the new “Superspeed” USB 3.0. Read on to check out the Asus P7H55D-M EVO!
When it came time to get a cooler for our new i7, we jumped at the chance to get a Noctua cooler. In just a few years, Noctua has acquired a reputation for building very effective CPU coolers. This will be my first Noctua cooler. It was originally designed for AM2+ and LGA775, but Noctua has designed a kit to convert any of their coolers for use on LGA1366 processors, and provided one along with the cooler. They have now come up with a special edition of this cooler containing mounting hardware for only the LGA 1366. Will the NH-U12P keep the i7 nice and cool? Read on to see!
For 2010, Intel has introduced a new line of processors code named “Clarkdale”, and will be known as the Core i5 600 series. At this point there are four processors in this series, the 650, the 660, the 670, and the 661. Today I will be looking at the Intel Core i5 661, a dual core LGA 1156 processor built in the 32nm process, with on-die video processing. This should make it a natural for HTPC and non-gaming rigs. How will the i5 661 fare with this geek who has had the honor of reviewing some of the most powerful video cards in the world? Read on to see!
Prior to about a year ago, ASRock boards were definitely in the economy class. Oh, they were decent, stable motherboards, but they just had the look and feel of inexpensive. Not so today, ASRock’s boards are just as nice as those built by the “household name” companies like Gigabyte, Asus, etc. Today I will be looking at the little brother to the P55 Deluxe, the ASRock P55 Extreme. I suppose “little brother” isn’t the correct term since the two are basically the same board with only one change I can see at first glance, but the savings are significant. As with all ASRock boards, you get what is a full-featured motherboard at an economy price. Read on to check out the P55 Extreme!
Today, I will be looking at a cooler from a company I previously haven’t experienced, the Titan Skalli. Titan Technology Ltd. has been around for over 20 years, founded in Taiwan in 1989 under the name “Sogic Computer Co”, but only recently have they entered the serious enthusiast market. The Skalli is a small-footprint dual heatpipe cooler with a non-standard 100mm fan. Will the Skalli keep my i7 870 nice and cool? Read on to see!
Some weeks back I looked at an mATX AMD 785G economy motherboard, supporting AM3 processors with DDR3 memory. It was a very impressive board with a very impressive price. Performance and stability easily met my expectations, and it will be the standard for any other 785G board that I get my grubby little hands on. Today I will be looking at a full ATX 785G motherboard by Asus, the M4A785TD-V EVO. It is definitely nicer than the mATX board I just mentioned, with much nicer cooling and CrossfireX support. It supports DDR3-1800 memory (requiring CPU overclocking). All this at a surprisingly economical price. Read on to check out the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO!