Xbox 360 S Hardware Dissection

PC Perspective has a nice, well photographed, dissection of the new Xbox 360 hardware for those who like those kind of things.  Turns out that the change in architecture is more significant then I thought particularly since the CPU and GPU are located beneath the same hood.  The relevant information is on page 3 of the article and it some fascinating stuff that hardware geeks will dig.  PC Perspective sums it up nicely:

Either way, the change from a technological perspective is important and noteworthy as it is the first instance of a “high performance” graphics core being paired with a “high performance” CPU core in a product that will see millions of sales.  Yes we have the Intel Core i5 processors but I wouldn’t put the Intel HD Graphics core on par with the Xenos-based design here.  And while AMD’s Fusion parts will fall into this same realm we are still months from seeing production parts.

I don’t know if this means anything to average console gamer or not but for those of us still somewhat entrenched in the PC Gaming side of things it is a fairly significant achievement.  If I’m reading this right and AMD’s Fusion does manage to take off it is entirely possible that gaming on an integrated graphic processor might actually be feasible.  Of course the upgrade path for such a system is still problematic (i.e. the same problem that consoles have) but still a fascinating development if applied to the HTPC market.

Bringin’ the sexy back….to keyboards

If I were willing to spend extravagant funds on my PC peripherals I would start with Art. Lebedev’s Optimus Maximus. The Optimus Maximus is a 113-key keyboard in which each of the keys is an OLED allowing dynamic icons for all keys. Coming in with a price tag of roughly $1,500 it is creme de la creme of input devices.

Engadget has an older hands-on (with delicious photos) while Arstechnica has a more recent hands-on from the ongoing CES

Build-a-PC ’08– Part I: The Mobo

OK, so I want to build a new computer.  Right now I’m settled on an Intel rig.  While the new AMD Phenom chipset is tempting, performance is still lagging and Intel, as of right now, still has a leg up.  When the final decision comes (likely closer towards the middle of January) things may be different, but as of now, Intel seems the way to go.

Looking at components the hardest choice, regardless of chipset, is the motherboard.  Most, or at least many, reviews focus on overclocking (something I’m not looking for as of now) and customer reviews are peppered with comments about DOA boards and duds; even on the high-end and well reviewed boards.  This review-filled quagmire makes separating the wheat from chaff rather difficult.   As of right now I’m down to three Intel based boards ranging of the high-end/mid-range market.

At the top of the heap is the ASUS Maximus Formula. Retailing for about $260 it uses the new Intel X38 North Bridge while still utilizing the “standard” DDR2 memory (rather than the assrapingly expensive DDR3). It offers two PCIe x16 slots (2.0 specification) leaving room for a SLI setup. Of the three boards it supports the most memory speeds (1200/1066/800/667).

Middle of the heap is the ASUS P5K Deluxe Wifi Edition. Retailing for around $230 ($199 at newegg.com) it runs the older P35 north bridge and supports 1066/800/667 DDR2 memory. Unlike the Maximus it has only one PCIe x16 slot (with a second running at x4) but also has 2 eSata ports for external storage and built in Wifi.

Last is the GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0. Retailing for about $180 it’s features are comparable to the ASUS model above, minus the Wifi and only supporting DDR2 memory at 1066 Mhz.

All three boards support Quad-core and Core 2 Duo chips (the two ASUS boards also support the Core 2 extreme, but I’m not spending a grand+ on a CPU). Both ASUS boards have AD audio, the only thing I know about that is that it isn’t Realtek (a common standard and featured on the Gigabyte board).

Anyone out there with thoughts on matter feel free to chime in. Next time I’ll post on the CPU (right now I’m leaning towards the low-end quad core, Q6600) or maybe cases.