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Desktops & Components

  • A video capture card is a computer component which facilitates the capture of video and audio for playback/editing and saves it to a hard drive or SD card. These cards are frequently used to stream and record data while PC gaming, or from a console game through a computer, but they can also be used for digitizing analog video. There are also external video capture devices that can be used to input and record video and audio either from a secondary source or from the computer itself, but this list focuses on internal components.These best video capture cards were chosen because they give you the best picture quality thanks to support for up to 1080i HD video, so you can easily control the resolution and size of your video. They support at least HDMI and DVI connections, though included adapters may be necessary for certain video types with these cards. All of these models also include pass through performance that lets you play a game or use other software in real time while also recording what you are doing without creating any delay or lag.
    April 01, 2016
  • Water cooling kits are all-in-one setups you can use to easily install a water or liquid-cooling system into your computer. These typically have enough hardware to connect to your CPU heatsink, tubing for additional cooling needs (like your video card) and other hardware. You may need to have some equipment already compatible with a water cooling system (like a video card with connections for tubing) though kits typically work with a wide range of CPUs. It's helpful to find kits that provide all the hardware you need and are known for reliable and trustworthy equipment. Introducing liquid to the inside of your computer can be a bit risky, so you want to make sure you have a setup that you trust and know won't leak onto your other hardware.We've chosen these as the best water cooling kits for your computer because they provide the hardware you need, including the radiator, tubes, and a number of different connectors and fasteners to securely setup your new cooling system. All of these models include at least two fans, though most of them have three, which helps move heat out of your system and keeps the coolant working properly. These cooling kits can work with a wide range of different CPUs though keep in mind some are limited to only Intel processors but still offer you support for different Intel chipsets.
    March 07, 2016
  • While a lot of motherboards have some RAID controls built into them, if you're looking to set up a more complex RAID (or use a level not supported by your motherboard) then a controller card is a very important piece of hardware. The basic purpose of a RAID controller card is to let you connect multiple hard drives together in one of several different configurations, and use them as part of a larger total unit. Since a RAID is usually set up for data backup and speed, a good card is important to ensure your information is properly distributed and saved for either the fastest performance possible or for accurate backup in case of corruption or hardware loss. Although the prices on these cards can vary quite a lot, you'll typically find that overall value (in terms of what you're trying to set up) is really more important than just cost.With that in mind, we've chosen these best RAID controller cards because they give you the most options for RAID setups, since they all support at least RAID 0 and 1 types as well as other types like 10 and JBOD. You get at least two SATA or SAS ports on each of these cards, so not only do they offer RAID control, but also give you connections for additional hard drives in your system. Additionally, these cards come with software utilities you can install along with the included drivers to manage your RAID setup more efficiently.
    March 07, 2016
  • Desktop computers cover a wide range of various makes and models with many different designs and configurations catering to numerous budgets and performance requirements. You can find great overall options for general desktop computers, all-in-one systems, and even high-end gaming rigs that can run the latest titles at incredible speeds.If you’re not looking to break the bank, then consider some budget options for basic desktop towers, gaming systems, and all-in-ones that work well at a reasonable price. There are even some desktop computers chosen specifically for multimedia editing, as well as nettops which offer great performance in the smallest package possible.With so many choices available to you, you should take a look at the desktop computer buyer’s guide below for more product information and explanations of common computer features.
    February 02, 2016
  • For many years, sales of sound cards declined as the on-board audio on PC's grew better and better. However, the last few years have seen gamers, audiophiles, and even ordinary computer users seeking out the best in audio quality and thus are looking again to add-on sound cards. We’ve chosen the following best sound cards because they offer a minimum of 24 bit audio reproduction for the highest quality sound reproduction. They also all possess class leading signal -to-noise ratios of at least one hundred decibels (DB) in addition to sampling rates of at least ninety-six kilohertz (Khz). Finally, all of these cards offer sound enhancement technology for the best multichannel surround sound experience you can hope for.
    January 22, 2016
  • I've been overclocking computers for over fifteen years and I can tell you first hand that thermal compounds have come a long way in that time. They are an important component of any computer build as it can make the difference between a heatsink or water-block installation that is outstanding or one that is merely average. The compounds for this list are all non-conductive pastes so problems such as shorting out your CPU or other components will not be an issue. All of them also have very high thermal conductivity for good heat transfer as well as yielding low delta temperatures (Delta T) under CPU stress testing; delta T is the amount in degrees of temperature rise above CPU idle temperatures exhibited by the CPU when at one hundred percent load. All of the thermal compounds on my list have Delta T ratings of no more than 33 degrees Celsius. Finally, all of them are formulated to be convenient to apply and easy to clean up.
    January 20, 2016
  • When it comes to CPU cooling, there are two basic designs you can look at and choose from: liquid-cooling and air-cooling. In either system the goal is simple: to transfer heat away from the CPU in your computer and dissipate it through liquid or air. Both liquid and air-cooling systems work great and can help keep your CPU within safe performance conditions. These are primarily high-end products that are great for powerful computers and work well for overclocked systems that can produce higher heat than some other setups. Some of these models are fairly large so look at their listed sizes and your computer tower to be sure you have space enough for the cooler in your system.These CPU coolers reduce heat efficiently thanks to fans that spin at rates of at least 1200 RPM for optimal performance. The fans that run in these coolers are at least 92mm in size, which helps provide at least 45 CFM of airflow, though many of these offer much greater performance. They run quietly with a maximum noise level of no more than 40 decibels (dBA).
    January 20, 2016
  • Case fans move air in and out of your computer case and are important components to consider when you’re working on building a high performance computer. Having fans which perform well keeps your system essential components cool enough so they have a long operating lifespan and allowing higher overclocks on your CPU's and GPU's. When choosing the best fans for this list, we first looked at how much air they can move which is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM); the picks on this list all have a minimum air flow rating of between 62 and 134 CFM. We also took into consideration the decibel (Db) levels these fans operated at. The fans I've chosen here all operate at exceptionally quiet sound levels of between 23 and 38 decibels while still maintaining an excellent level of cooling airflow throughout your computer case.
    November 03, 2015
  • Computer cases can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from bizarre custom models designed to look like spaceships, to more toned-down boxes intended for the average computer user. If the motherboard is the central nervous system of a computer, and the CPU is its heart, then the case is the body of the system, which has to protect and support all of the other pieces. That makes it every bit as important to carefully consider your computer case before you buy it, and choose the perfect one for your needs. Whether you're interested in water cooling or optimal airflow, you will find the right model here for your needs. Consider towers designed to reduce noise output, as well as the best ones that go easy on your wallet. There's also a wide range of sizes based on the type of motherboard you're using, so consider if you need a mini-ITX case or a full tower capable of housing a dozen or more hard drives. Choosing the right case can seem deceptively simple, so take a look at the computer case buyer’s guide below to know exactly what to look for before making a choice.
    October 14, 2015
  • Intel motherboards have been popular for many years and will likely remain favorable long into the future. Many of these models are made by other manufacturers, like ASUS, Gigabyte, and ASRock, but the chipsets used on them are made by Intel and designed to work with Intel CPUs. Your motherboard connects all other pieces of hardware within your computer, and houses the BIOS firmware used to boot up your system. Since the board acts as the central nervous system of a computer, it’s a vital component with a tremendous impact on overall performance.As you look at different Intel motherboard models, you should consider older chipsets, such as the Z87, as well as newer ones like the Z97 and X99. There are a lot of technical specifications involved in evaluating and comparing motherboards, so check out the Intel motherboard buyer’s guide below for more information to help you pick out the best model for your system.
    September 25, 2015
  • A Home Theater Personal Computer, or HTPC, is a system built to stream media to a large television or projector as part of a home theater setup. While you can use a wide range of different motherboards for this type of rig, in general you want a board that is ideal for handling a lot of media and keeping your system running cool and quiet. Look for a motherboard with at least one good video card slot, to keep your video media playing fast and smooth. You’ll also want a ton of storage, so that you can keep as many media files as you want on your system, and options for enough RAM to keep your system running smoothly.These HTPC motherboards can run a maximum of at least 32GB of RAM, which is more than enough for a home theater setup, though some can handle even more. They have at least one really good slot for a video card, which is sufficient for a serious media player, but if you plan on using your HTPC for gaming, then you may want to look for a board that can handle more than one video card. These boards give you at least six slots for SATA connections, which lets you have a ton of storage in your computer. Both Intel and AMD motherboards can work great for an HTPC, and these boards use chips with relatively low power requirements, which help keep your system cool without creating a lot of noise.
    September 08, 2015
  • There are a wide range of AMD motherboards available, depending on your particular needs and goals for your computer. Along with Intel, AMD is the leading manufacturer for CPUs and motherboard chipsets, which determine many of the basic functions and operation speeds of your computer. Your choice in motherboard is extremely important, since many other component decisions are often based on it.Everything, from the type of RAM you can use to the number of video cards you can install, all depend on the motherboard you choose and its specifications. AMD has a number of solid chipsets and CPU sockets to choose from, including the older FM2 board, as well as newer models like the FM2+ and AM3+. Check out the AMD motherboard buyer’s guide below for more information and tips to help you pick the best model for your computer.
    August 20, 2015
  • PC gaming has become increasingly popular in recent years, and graphics software is more available for a wide range of computer users. As a result, graphics/video cards are now more important than ever before. To keep up with such demands, manufacturers offer an array of different models to fit just about any need. Gamers looking for incredible detail and blistering frame-rates can find a wide range of gaming-oriented video cards. "Budget" video cards cater to casual users and amateur multimedia editors looking for a more affordable price point. For power users who want more performance than a single card can achieve, we even looked at the best video cards for SLI and Crossfire setups. Regardless of your needs, there's some essential product information everyone should know which is covered below in our graphics card buyer's guide.
    June 24, 2015
  • The processor, or Central Processing Unit, is effectively the heart of a computer. The clock speed, indicated by frequency, basically sets the rate for how fast all functions within a computer can be performed. If the heart beats faster, then programs and tasks run faster. With the addition of multi-core processors and hyperthreading, a single CPU is able to run as though it consists of multiple chips all working together in unison. This means that computers can run faster than ever before, offering a wide range of options in terms of overall speed and performance. You should think carefully before picking your CPU, since other decisions like your motherboard, RAM, and even the power supply in your computer are all directly tied into the processor you choose. The processor and CPU buyer’s guide below has great information and advice for picking the right chip for your computer.
    June 24, 2015
  • Power supply units may not be the most exciting PC component, but they are of course very important and can have a tremendous overall impact on your system. While your personal power requirements will depend entirely on the specific components in your computer, the average PC requires a bare minimum of about 400W. The best practice is to multiply your needs by one-and-a-half, to keep from running your PSU at full capacity, which can cause it to be less efficient, heat up more, and fail faster.In addition to pure wattage, make sure you're getting the right types of connectors, especially with video cards requiring their own dedicated power source. If you're concerned about efficiency, look for 80 PLUS ratings, with an eye toward bronze, silver, gold, and platinum tiers. Power supply specifications include a lot of important technical information, so take a look at the power supply buyer’s guide below for more details and suggestions on finding the right model for your system.
    June 24, 2015
  • Memory is memory, right? Nothing to get TOO excited about. Well, considering that RAM is the component that fundamentally determines how fast and agile your apps and games 'feel', I'd say that your choice of memory is pretty seriously important. If the performance of your laptop or desktop computer is bogged down by slower, lower-capacity, generic memory sticks -- or if you're building a new PC and want the best possible DDR3 to put you at the cutting-edge -- these memory cards and multi-channel kits on the following lists are your best bet.
    June 19, 2015