Hands and Eyes On The Oculus Rift VR System

A year ago at PAX Prime 2012, the Oculus Rift was a fusion of electronics, barely more than an idea and literally held together with duct tape. Even then it delivered an impressive demo running a VR-optimized, playable version Id Software’s Doom 3. What a difference a year makes. The Oculus Rift, circa 2012 at PAX Prime This year PAX Prime 2013 Oculus VR had an entire booth and a dozen stations for press and fans to check out the latest generation of the Oculus Rift technology. And clearly enthusiasm and excitement for the Oculus Rift is exploding. The line to try them was densely packed...

HotHardware's 2013 Back To School Shopping Guide

It's that time again. The time of year when students and parents frantically hit e-tailers that offer fast shipping in order to get that all-important back-to-school technology into a dorm room or backpack before classes begins. It's back-to-school season, and whether you've started classes recently or are awaiting (dreading?) that first 8AM lecture, there may be a few bits of techno-shopping that need to be taken care of before you can be on your way to that straight-A report card. Credit: Google Whether you're about to begin the Fall semester of college or your...

ASUS PQ321 Ultra HD 4K 31.5-inch Monitor Review

We have a confession to make (well, several actually, but all the rest date back to our college days, and some secrets are best left untold). Reviewing monitors isn't as fun as it once was. It's not that we've grown jaded over the years, but plain and simple, the monitor market has become stale, lacking the kind of 'gee-whiz' innovations that tend to excite us. Panel makers seemed to stopped pushing the envelope once they developed 30-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) screens, and for the longest time, that's where the high-end has sector been stuck, as if caught in quicksand with no rope in sight,...

NVIDIA SHIELD Tegra 4 Android Gaming Portable

NVIDIA made quite a splash at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show when they first unveiled their SHIELD portable gaming device. If you missed the original announcement, or the myriad of related posts we’ve put up about the device since then, SHIELD is a Tegra 4-based portable gaming machine that’s packing a 5-inch multi-touch screen, a console-grade game controller, and an unmolested version of Android Jelly Bean. NVIDIA SHIELD Portable Gaming Device In some respects NVIDIA’s SHIELD is simply a small Android tablet with a kick-ass game controller attached. But of...

SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card Review

A couple of weeks back, SanDisk launched a new line of Class 10 UHS-I microSDHC / microSDXC cards targeted at performance conscious consumers. When describing the cards, SanDisk’s director of retail product marketing Susan Park said, “The SanDisk Extreme microSDXC card allows users to do more with their devices…Our high-performance and high-capacity microSD cards enable consumers to take advantage of the high-quality HD video and imaging capabilities in the latest 4G smartphones, tablets and action cameras." With up to 80MB/s read and 50MB/s write speeds, the new SanDisk...

AOC Q29630 29" UltraWide IPS LED Monitor Review

Ask any person who owns a dual-monitor setup and they'll all tell you they couldn't fathom going back to a single display. Maybe you're one of those people, and if so, you know exactly the feeling we're talking about. But what if you could enjoy all the benefits of a dual-monitor configuration from a single monitor? Would you be game to reclaiming some desk space by trading in two panels for a single display? AOC aims to answer that question with its new 29-inch Q2963PM display. Armed with an UltraWide In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, this LED-backlit monitor boasts a 2560x1080 resolution with 21:9...

Microsoft Reacts But Did It Get Windows 8.1 Right?

For Windows users of all kinds, the Windows "Blue" 8.1 update has been long-awaited. Those who've been using the base OS since launch have no doubt been anticipating some of the enhancements that are coming, while many others have been waiting patiently to see if the update manages to right enough wrongs to help persuade them to make the move. Has Microsoft succeeded in either of these cases? That's what we hope to find out. At the moment, Windows 8.1 is available only as a preview, and if you are looking to give it a try, there are a couple of things to be aware of. The most important is...

High End Case Roundup: In Win, Lian-Li, & SilverStone

If you love building computers, you probably appreciate a good case or chassis. While there are plenty of excellent products available for a song, there’s also an upper echelon of models that cost quite a bit and offer all the premiere features you could hope for. While it seems as though there’s a lot of similarity between low-end and midrange cases, once you get to a certain price point, various companies take things in very different directions. The three premium chassis we’re looking at in this roundup certainly bear that out. In Win, Lian Li,...

Embracing Windows 8 With A New PC System Build

One of the perks of working at a place like HotHardware is that we have access to some of the hottest hardware around. So when I decided to dive into Windows 8 head-first a few months ago, I thought I’d give the OS as much breathing room as possible and install it on a freshly built, ultra high-end rig. Building myself a second system for Windows 8 while tweaking and getting accustomed to the OS’s new interface, and whatever other quirks popped up, would help me remain semi-productive before making the actual transition to the new machine. Before I show you the hardware I...

Definitive Bioshock Infinite Review with Benchmarks

We're not going to beat around the bush, here. BioShock Infinite is game-of-the-year material. The floating city of Columbia is one of the most evocative, intense, gorgeous environments I've ever seen -- but how much you like it may depend on what sort of visual wizardry you prefer. BioShock Infinite is built on Unreal Engine 3, and while it pushes that framework's capabilities into the stratosphere, there's a clear difference between BioShock Infinite and, say, Crysis 3. It's a testament to Ken Levine and the artistic team at Irrational Games that the gap feels like a stylistic choice rather than...

Hell Hath No Fury: Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

When Blizzard announced that they were splitting Starcraft II into three titles, Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void, the general reaction from fans was controversial. The fear was that Blizzard would pad out the contents of each game with busywork missions and red-herring plot devices, while charging full price for each. The company later clarified that the second campaigns would be priced like expansion packs. Heart of the Swarm is the first chance we've had to see if Blizzard's expansion strategy would result in the same quality of game play. Wings of Liberty (WoL) launched...

Crysis 3: Amazing Graphics, Boring Execution

Let's get one thing clear up front. Crysis 3's graphics are absolutely stunning.  Crytek's latest game doesn't raise the bar -- it annihilates it. At the highest settings, Crysis blows Battlefield 3 out of the water, makes mincemeat of Max Payne, and makes the original Crysis -- itself a graphics powerhouse -- look more like the first Call of Duty. Crysis 3 really is that stunning, provided that you've got the video card to handle it. Like the first game, this title is capable of bringing even a high-end card to its knees; the Radeon 7950 w/ Boost Mode that we used for testing struggled...

Can Legacy Dual-Core CPUs Drive Modern GPUs?

A few weeks back, we examined whether a new GPU like the GeForce GTX 660 could breathe new life into an older quad-core gaming system built in mid 2008.  The answer, we concluded, was definitely yes -- but many of you of you asked us to reconsider the question, this time using a dual-core Core 2 Duo. We've done so. And just for fun, we've added overclocked CPU results into the mix as well. The Q6600 we originally tested was one of the best-selling enthusiast processors of its day, but dual-core chips were very much the norm. At the time, there were only a handful of games that could even take...

Case Conundrum: Affordable Midtowers Compared

Today we're reviewing a series of mid-tower cases at a variety of affordable price points. These four cases are all marketed towards enthusiasts and ship with what were once considered upscale options, including external water cooling mounts, multiple 120mm fans, screwless installation, removable case vents, and board cutouts for third-party heatsink installation. That's great news if you're tired of seeing full towers get all the high-end love from case manufacturers, but it makes the prospect of picking a single enclosure a bit daunting. We've rounded up options from Antec, Corsair, Fractal,...

Missing The Mark: Nintendo Wii U Review

History has a funny way of repeating itself, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Nearly six years ago to the day, Nintendo completely changed the way the world viewed console gaming. The Wii remote (affectionately dubbed Wiimote by most) was a brand new paradigm in gaming control, and it ushered in a wave of motion-based gaming that forced Sony to follow suit with the Move, and Microsoft to do likewise with Kinect. Pundits seemed certain that Nintendo's risk taking would be its undoing. They seemed certain that motion-based gaming could never be a success in...

Keyboard Bliss: Rosewill 9100BR Hits The Mark

I have a confession to make: I'm an addict -- and it's 100% Marco's fault. 12 months ago, I was perilously tight on funds and short on keyboards. More precisely, I was short on keyboards that weren't $5 bargain-basement pieces of junk. While I keep plenty of those on hand for testing various system builds, I prefer something with a little more heft for personal daily use. I asked Dave if he had any keyboards handy. Dave said to ask Marco. So I did.  The face of evil "Well," said Marco, his black eyes gleaming, "It just so happens that I do have some mechanical keyboards I'm not using at the...

3D Printer Round-up: Cube 3D, Up! and Solidoodle

3D printing is a fascinating new technology and an exploding new market. The process involved is pretty basic actually. Heat up some plastic, and sort of like that Play-Doh Fun Factory you were so fond of as a kid, you extrude the melted plastic out to create objects of magnificence -- because you built it yourself.  However, 3D printers are much more akin to their cousin the 2D inkjet printer, though objects are being printed not only on the traditional X-Y plane but with that magical third "Z" dimension of height. In addition, advancements in 3D CAD software packages like Google...

ViewSonic PLED-W200 Portable Business Projector

There are consumer projectors of nearly every shape and size and for a myriad of purposes. From big, feature-rich monsters ideal for large home theaters to tiny pico projectors (which can now be found in some smartphones), there are projectors available now that let users display photos or video for a small audience almost anywhere. In the middle of the market there is a wide swathe of options. One of the target demographics is business travelers who need to make presentations on the road. Those folks need something that’s compact and lightweight, can connect to a...

Far Cry 3: Benchmarks and Review

If you've been itching for a game to showcase a new video card, or to rub in the faces of your friends, with their 2005-2006 Xbox 360s and PS3s, Far Cry 3 is that game. It eschews the space-gray corridors or military battlefields of other franchises for the lush tropical environments the Far Cry series is famous for, and the game absolutely shines. After years of cooling our heels as publishers delivered console titles for DirectX 9-era hardware, the game is a welcome breath of fresh air. We've put together a comprehensive look at the game, from performance benchmarks to how it plays and whether...

Digital Obsession: The Most Addictive PC Games Ever

Gaming is something we've done quite a bit of over the years, but sitting down to pick a list of the most addictive games ever proved surprisingly tricky. Addictive games aren't necessarily the top sellers, or record-smashing behemoths. Sometimes, their appeal is measured in near-perfect execution of a narrow concept, while other games keep us up 'til 3 AM because, despite their flaws, they offer a compelling, challenging experience. Orcs Must Die 2 has eaten more of my life than I want to admit in front of my employers. Here is our criteria: No mobile/pocket/Facebook games:  I've...

NZXT Phantom 820 Full Tower Case Review

Unfortunately, many PC enthusiasts tend to skimp on the chassis when building a new system. After all, you can get a decent case with adequate cooling for next to nothing these days, making a splurge on a $200-plus, premium case seem unnecessary. However, as anyone who’s owned a truly high-end chassis can tell you, it's usually worth the extra money for superior construction, additional features, ample cooling options, and sometimes attractive lighting. In addition, a high-end case is something that can last through multiple upgrade cycles. That’s how the NZXT Phantom...

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review - A Killer Sequel

I have a confession to make: I enjoy the Call of Duty series. Some may scoff and hit me with a splash of Haterade, but the fact of the matter is, there's something that remains consistent with each new game in the series: I have fun. Fun is the operative word here, because while the series, like many others, has its obvious faults, what I care about most is whether or not I'm enjoying the game, and am intrigued enough to carry on. So far, no Call of Duty has let me down. One of the obvious faults is that the series, by some respects, has begun to grow a bit stale. Well - depending on...

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