Hard Stuff

Nvidia Shield review

Logan Decker at

Everybody knows that if you try to get a cat to do what you want—sit up, fetch a stick, search for explosives—it will do nothing more than stare at you with contempt. That’s why console pitches to PC gamers tend to fall flat: we’re generally not as interested in hearing how a bunch of suits want us to play our games. Nvidia took a much different approach with the Shield, on the other hand, that seems to account for what PC gamers have in common with cats: give us great hardware and the freedom to do whatever we feel like doing, and we’ll show ourselves a great time.

Hard Stuff: Case Roundup

PC Gamer at

Tempest 210 NZXT

The Tempest 210 isn’t all that large, measuring in at 19.3 inches deep, 17.9 inches tall, and 7.7 inches wide. It does manage to squeeze in a decent amount of stuff for its size, though, including two fans (a 14cm top exhaust fan and 12cm rear exhaust fan) with support for five more. There are seven PCI expansion slots, and although it comes with just three optical drive bays, it does include eight toolless hard drive bays and an SSD mount at the bottom of the case.

Snag the new Gamer Power BTS11 on the cheap

Lucas Sullivan at

We understand the plight of the college PC gamer: you need a new computer that can run your favorite games with ease, but everything's too expensive from your parents' point of view. But worry no more—iBUYPOWER's got your back with the deal for their new Gamer Power BTS11, a desktop computer that'll serve as your throne of gaming power when it's not processing those terrifying term papers. You can grab the Gamer BTS11 from TigerDirect.com or iBUYPOWER.com for a mere $999 if you order it before September 30th; sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Check out the specs of this beaut', then get ready to tell your parents that this costs less than most laptops.

Hard Stuff: Falcon Northwest TLX review

Chris Comiskey at

Got a hankering for Ferrari-like paint jobs? Check out Falcon Northwest’s TLX. Its lid is covered in an eyeball-caressing, glittery blue paint, with a majestic falcon’s head emblazoned across the middle. Nice.

Hard Stuff: Digital Storm xm15 review

Chris Comiskey at

For those of us whose pockets don’t bleed money, laptops priced around $1,000 are far more practical, such as the Digital Storm xm15. Of course, you should expect some sacrifices for the lower price.

Hard Stuff: Origin EON15-S review

Chris Comiskey at

You know those folks that dress for utility instead of style? The ones that wear flak jackets and ammo belts to dinner parties? The Origin EON15-S is their laptop equivalent.

Hard Stuff: Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 review

Chris Comiskey at

I’ll be frank: the GeForce GTX 590 will murder your checking account. At $700, you’re probably wondering—as I was—if it could possibly be worth it.

Hard Stuff: Razer StarCraft II Marauder review

Lucas Sullivan at

The Marauder’s like a pair of Air Jordans—they look fantastic, but they’re expensive, and buying them won’t improve your skills at the game you know and love.

Geek toys review: Nanodots

Chris Comiskey at

When the carrying pouch is more entertaining than its contents, there’s something amiss. Inside an admittedly awesome yellow drawstring bag—complete with atomic logo emblazoned across the front—lies a handful of magnetic BBs called nanodots. That stick to each other. Awkwardly. That’s all they do. This is sort of like tearing open the wrapping paper off a massive box on Christmas morning only to discover a mouth-guard and a jockstrap within.

Hard Stuff: Razer Naga Epic review

Josh Augustine at

When the Naga (April 2010, 94%) emerged, its 15 impeccably-placed buttons (designed to catch the overflow of abilities in most MMORPGs) and super-comfy design caused us to hail it as the finest mouse that MMO gamers could buy. Only its leash—the USB cable tying it to the PC—held it back.

Hard Stuff: Psyko Audio Labs Carbon review

Chris Comiskey at

This headset is absolutely massive. I’m talking Goliath-massive. After just two hours of using it, my neck ached as if I was wearing a military-grade Kevlar helmet.

Hard Stuff: Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB review

Erik Belsaas at

The X-Fi HD is something of an oddity. It’s a USB-powered external soundcard designed for laptops—and when it comes to delivering awesome audio, it exceeds expectations. However, the features of the card leave you wondering who Creative had in mind when designing it.

Hard Stuff: Thermaltake eSPORTS Shock review

Chris Comiskey at

Getting a headset that rivals your 2.1 external speakers’ sound is tough to do without dropping $200 (or more). And yet, the Tt eSPORTS Shock manages to do just that, and at a very reasonable $80.

Hard Stuff: Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD review

Erik Belsaas at

So you’ve got a sweet 5.1 surround sound speaker setup and an awesome gaming library to support it—but if you’re running those speakers via your motherboard’s onboard audio, you may as well be using $20 speakers from your local drugstore. What you need is a dedicated soundcard, and Creative—the pioneer of soundcards for PC gaming—has released its newest flagship warbler: the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD.

Hard Stuff: Razer Chimaera review

Chris Comiskey at

On first glance, the wireless Chimaera’s gloss and flat-black coloring is absolutely gorgeous, but this beauty is tarnished by some quirky design choices.

Hard Stuff: Black Ops|Enix PC review

Chris Comiskey at

Ever seen a honey badger? They hunt cobras twice their size and stick their tongues into bee hives. This is much the same with the Black Ops|Enix: it’s short but mighty, and it attacks gaming resolutions of 2560x1600 without fear. Tucked within the rugged metal case (that takes up about as much floor space as a full backpack) are two blazing-fast GTX 580s in SLI, a brand-new Core i7 2600K (overclocked from 3.4GHz to 4.7GHz), 8GB of DDR3 Corsair Dominator RAM, and USB 3.0 support. Digital Storm played it smart by including a Corsair H70 liquid cooler to keep the processor overclock stable. It’s pretty damn impressive how much high-end hardware they’ve packed into such a teensy area.