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PC Hardware Articles

One of the core values of Puget Systems is transparency

We detest hype in the midst of an industry that is full of it. Our mission is to provide the highest quality hardware and consultation services to our customers, and to back up our decisions by freely sharing what we've learned along the way. To earn a place in our product line, a computer component undergoes rigorous testing. We apply the results of our testing, along with our years of experience in learning reliability trends and manufacturer characteristics, to make prudent decisions about what we can put our name behind, whether that's an individual part or an entire computer. With the following articles, we are writing up the results of these internal processes and discussions, and taking them public. We feel we can take this on with a unique perspective as we evaluate each topic with the experience, resources, and objectivity of a system builder. If there is a topic you'd like us to write about, email us at !




Qualification: LSI 9341-8i & 9361-8i RAID Controllers

Written on March 24, 2014 by Matt Bach

At Puget Systems, we've been using LSI RAID cards for a number of years now and have always been very happy with the quality of both the controllers and the MegaRAID software. The new 9361-8i and 9341-8i RAID controllers from LSI continue in their predecessor's footsteps but add PCI-E 3.0 support and the new mini-SAS HD SFF8643 12GB/s connector.



Windows XP End of Support: What does it mean for you?

Written on February 7, 2014 by Matt Bach

The End Of Support deadline for Windows XP quickly approaching, and many users do not have a very good understanding of what exactly this means. In this Q&A article, we want to answer what "end of support" actually means for all the computers out there that are still running Windows XP.



AMD A10-7850K Performance Review

Written on January 6, 2014 by Matt Bach

While new computer hardware is almost always faster than the models they are replacing, it is often hard to get through all the marketing talk to find out exactly how much better they are. For that reason, we are going to be comparing the performance of the A10-7850K to multiple CPUs and video cards. In addition, since the ability to use high frequency RAM is often cited as an important feature of the A-Series APUs, we will also be looking how much performance gain you actually will see by using high frequency RAM.



Most Reliable Hardware of 2013

Written on December 26, 2013 by Matt Bach

At Puget Systems, we track a lot of data but one of the most important things we track is the failure rates of individual components. Reliability is of our primary values, so this data is invaluable for tracking both individual component, product line, and overall brand failure rates. With 2013 coming to a close, we thought we make public a bit of this data to let you know what hardware we found to be the most reliable in 2013.



NZXT Kraken G10 Review

Written on December 20, 2013 by Matt Bach

The Kraken G10 from NZXT tackles GPU cooling in a way that we at Puget Systems have always wanted to see, but have not had the time or expertise to make happen ourselves. Instead of providing a whole cooling solution, the Kraken G10 is simply a metal bracket and fan that allows you to mount various different closed-loop coolers. These coolers are traditionally used for CPUs and allow you to custom tailor your video card cooling much like you can for your CPU.



Is CPU Base Frequency Still a Relevant Spec?

Written on December 20, 2013 by Matt Bach

Using numerous technologies, CPUs are able to dynamically adjust their frequency based on how much load is being put on it. The end result is much greater efficiency, but it calls into question whether the base frequency of a CPU really means anything on modern processors since a CPU will rarely spend much of it's time at that advertised frequency.



Radeon R9 290X Performance Analysis

Written on November 21, 2013 by Matt Bach

AMD's new Radeon R9 290X includes a hardware switch that changes the card between two fan profiles called "Quiet" and "Uber". The Quiet profile makes the card run quieter at the cost of performance, but we have found that online reviews show much less of a performance drop than we tested ourselves. In this article, we decided to expand our normal testing to discover what might be causing this discrepancy.



Impact of PCI-E Speed on Gaming Performance

Written on November 13, 2013 by Matt Bach

Many hardware sites have shown in the past that video cards do not show any performance decrease by running in x8 mode and cannot utilize the larger bandwidth provided by the latest Gen3 specification. However, video cards are getting faster and faster so we felt it this is still true. Also, with the gaining popularity of 4k displays, we also felt it was important to see if the PCI-E revision/speed would affect a video card's performance at the much more demanding 4k resolution.



Advantages of ECC Memory

Written on November 5, 2013 by Matt Bach

ECC RAM is very popular in servers or other systems with high-value data as it protects against data corruption by automatically detecting and correcting memory errors. In this article we will go over the advantage of using ECC memory.



Gaming PC vs. Space Heater Efficiency

Written on October 21, 2013 by Matt Bach

Winter is coming, and with the power bills stacking up it may be hard to justify gaming on your ulta-powerful gaming rig. But what if we were to tell you that, watt for watt, your gaming PC produces exactly the same amount of heat as a space heater?



How To Make Windows 8.1 Act More Like Windows 7

Written on October 17, 2013 by Matt Bach

When Windows 8 launched, there were many users who mourned the loss of the Start button, and many others who claimed that the new Start screen was much more useful than the Start button ever was. As tends to happen on the internet, this caused many heated discussions. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has (sort of) brought back the Start button in response to the many complaints.



AutoDesk Maya 2014 Professional GPU Acceleration

Written on October 15, 2013 by Matt Bach

Maya 2014 does not have any specific features or effects that are GPU accelerated, instead almost everything that looks 3D uses the GPU in some manner. You still need to balance a powerful video card with a good CPU and RAM combination, but the video card you use for Maya is an extremely important part of the performance equation. In this article, we will look at a number of workstation cards to see just how important a role the video card plays in the performance equation.



AutoDesk AutoCAD 2014 Professional GPU Acceleration

Written on October 1, 2013 by Matt Bach

AutoCAD 2014 does not have any specific features or effects that are GPU accelerated, instead almost everything that looks 3D uses the GPU in some manner. You still need to balance a powerful video card with a good CPU and RAM combination, but the video card you use for AutoCAD is an extremely important part of the performance equation. In this article, we will look at a number of workstation cards to see just how important a role the video card plays in the performance equation.



Adobe Premiere Pro CC Professional GPU Acceleration

Written on September 27, 2013 by Matt Bach

Premiere Pro CC utilizes the Mercury Playback Engine to take advantage of the video card to vastly improve both the performance and quality of certain features, but there is currently very little information available regarding the performance of the latest certified workstation video cards. In this article, we will be benchmarking a variety of workstation cards in both single and dual configurations to find out how well the MPE in Premiere Pro CC works with both NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro video cards.



Technology Primer: Intel Ivy Bridge-E CPUs

Written on September 10, 2013 by Matt Bach

With Ivy Bridge-E, Intel is finally moving their enthusiast CPUs to their newer 22nm manufacturing process. While this does not greatly increase the raw frequency that the CPUs are able to run at, it does allow them to draw less power while doing so. In addition to the smaller manufacturing process, the new line also has more L2 cache per core and improved memory support.



4K Monitor Requirements and Usage

Written on August 6, 2013 by Matt Bach

4k displays have roughly four times the number of pixels as a standard 1080p display which results in a huge improvement in picture quality. But since the technology is still relatively new there are a lot of questions and misunderstandings about what you need to run a 4k monitor. In order to address these questions, we tested a variety of video cards on a 4k monitor to see how the perform at various tasks.



Haswell Laptops

Written on August 1, 2013 by Matt Bach

With the recent launch of Intel's new Haswell line of CPUs, Puget Systems has completely revamped our laptop product line to take advantage of the new improvements in technology. In addition to supporting the latest mobile CPUs from Intel, these laptops also have newer chipsets and have received significant increases in GPU power compared to previous models.



Technology Primer: Intel Haswell Desktop CPUs

Written on June 2, 2013 by Matt Bach

Haswell is the codename for Intel's 4th generation of processors and is the "tock" in Intel's "tick-tock" development cycle. This means that it uses the same 22nm process as Ivy Bridge, but includes a different mounting socket and many refinements to the chip's architecture.



Haswell Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 - Which is right for you?

Written on June 2, 2013 by Matt Bach

Intel has been using the i3, i5, and i7 naming scheme for their CPUs for quite a while now, but what these labels mean tends to slowly change over time as new features are introduced or older ones get replaced. On top of this, the naming scheme between desktop and mobile CPUs is often different as well. In this article, we will go over what differentiates i3, i5, and i7 processors for both mobile and desktop Haswell CPUs.



Z87, H87, H81, Q87, Q85, B85 - What is the difference?

Written on June 2, 2013 by Matt Bach

With the release of Intel's fourth-generation Haswell CPUs, there are also a whole new line of motherboard chipsets available. Initially there are six different chipsets that are divided into two separate categories: consumer and business. In this article, we will examine the features of each of the new chipset to help you determine which is right for you.



Specs Explained: Video Card

Written on April 22, 2013 by Matt Bach

With the advancement of computer technology, the number of specifications for video cards has become overwhelming for those not deeply involved in the computer industry. In this article, we will explain all of the different specifications we list for video cards and what they mean for you, the end user.



Updated Puget Traverse Laptops

Written on April 8, 2013 by Matt Bach

The 15 and 17 inch laptops in our Traverse line received a slight upgrade from the manufacturer featuring better graphics and better battery life, but at the same time includes a small price increase. So while we want to evaluate these new models to ensure they are right for our customers, we also decided to take this opportunity to evaluate a laptop that removes the NVIDIA graphics completely and only uses the Intel graphics that is integrated into the CPU.



How to Check ECC RAM Functionality

Written on April 3, 2013 by Matt Bach

ECC (error-correcting code) RAM is essential in servers and many workstations as it dramatically improves the reliability of the system's memory. This is great, but we have learned that it is very difficult to verify that ECC is working correctly. In this article, we will go over three methods that we have found to at least semi-reliably show if ECC is working as it should.



Review: Fractal Design Define XL R2

Written on April 1, 2013 by Matt Bach

Fractal Design's Define XL R2 is an EATX chassis with a deceptively simple exterior that hides a wealth of features that will satisfy almost any user. This chassis has great cooling potential with seven different 140/120mm fan mounting locations (including one on the side panel), but also has several acoustic dampening features that make it a great choice for those looking for a quiet system.



Product Review: MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 Motherboard

Written on March 6, 2013 by Matt Bach

AMD's FM2 platform is a great choice when you want decent graphical performance but either do not have the space or do not want to spend the money on a discrete video card. Unfortunately, there are only two mini-ITX boards currently on the market: the ASRock FM2A75M-ITX and the MSI FM2-A75IA-E53. Today we will be looking at the MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 to determine if it is a board we would like to carry in our product line; specifically to update our Echo line of systems.



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