In today's news roundup: 

  • TechSpot compares 13 different sub-US$150 graphics cards from the likes of both AMD and NVIDIA to determine which cards will be the most relevent for the hardware enthusiast looking to build a PC on a low budget;
  • VIA shows off its new VIA QuadCore Nano processors which features four Isaiah cores on two dies, is built off a 40nm process and designed to be pin-compatible with existing VIA processors to ensure a smooth upgrade path;
  • ViewSonic is reportedly planning to launch the world's first 7-inch tablet device that will be preloaded with version 3 of the Android operating system, otherwise known as Honeycomb;
  • Word has it that Apple is in no position to ditch Intel's x86 architecture in favor of low-power ARM processors for at least another two more years;
  • The sequel to 7th Dragon 2020, which will be released for Sony's PSP handheld video game console, has been confirmed to set in a future, post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo, and
  • The original Mortal Kombat trilogy has been confirmed for a late summer launch for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and can be downloaded from both consoles' respective online services, namely XBLA and PSN

Hardware news

Thermaltake to Unveil new Meka G at Computex – XSReviews
Description: Thermaltake are set to unveil the next iteration of their Meka G mechanical keyboard at Computex in the coming weeks. While this isn't officially confirmed by Thermaltake, it seems likely as the board is showing up on their Computex site and has been spotted in recent literature from the company."

Budget Graphics Card Comparison: 13 Sub-$150 Boards Tested
Description: For all the glory that comes with owning a dual-GPU video card, the reality is most hardware buffs don't have the coin to fund their desires. Instead, the typical system builder settles for a graphics solution in the $100 to $250 territory, which generally provides enough performance to play any modern game with reasonable settings. Fortunately for cash-strapped gamers, intense competition between AMD and Nvidia ensures that the sub-$150 market is well stocked. Along with wallet-friendly HD 6000 and GTX 500 products, many older mainstream cards have been demoted to the budget bracket. We'll compare the most relevant ones in this review, with a total of thirteen graphics card models tested.

PowerColor introduces tHE PCS+ HD6770 Vortex II
Description: TUL Corporation, a leading manufacturer of AMD graphics cards, introduces the 2nd generation of the Vortex Edition: the PCS+ HD6770 Vortex II Edition. The advanced edition offers not only the flexibility of users to manually adjust the fan and its physical attributes; optimizing the air flow and balancing the ambient temperature; it features perforated fans that increase air flow up to 13%. These features result in cooling the temperature up to 25% when compared to reference designs.

Intel 311 Solid State Drive Tests @ Benchmark Reviews
Description: In only three short years, the solid state drive industry exploded from a small handful of SSD controllers compared to nearly fifty different versions that have collectively appeared on the retail market. Of the most prolific designs, Intel continues to earn its reputation for reliable solid-state storage solutions. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the 20GB Intel 311 Series Larson Creek SSD model SSDSA2VP020G2E. Built upon 34nm SLC Compute NAND Technology, the Intel 311 is capable of sequential read speeds up to 200 MB/s and 40,000 combined IOPS. The Intel 311 SSD is optimized for Intel Smart Response Technology, which debuts with the Intel Z68-Express chipset and works with the entire Sandy Bridge series.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review
Description: It's been a long time since we've had a look at a board from MSI, but the release of a new chipset from Intel seems like the perfect time to look at one. Today we'll be looking at the MSI Z68A-GD80 which is one of the two Z68 boards MSI are currently listing on their website. Aside from the Z68A-GD80 we're looking at today, the only other one currently listed on the MSI website is the Z68MA-ED55 which is a mATX board. So if you're looking for something that's going to fill up your case, the chances are you'll be eyeing the bad boy we have with us today.

G.Skill Sniper 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Memory Kit Review @ Bigbruin.com
Description: While I have been aware of the G.Skill brand for quite some time, this was my first chance to review one of their products. I wasn't sure what to expect and was never able to recommend them based on personal experience. The G.Skill Sniper 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 memory kit has changed that, as it works exactly as intended with no issues.

Sentey Burton (GS-6500) Chassis Review @ Overclockers Online
Description: Sentey has brought the Burton to the table, and it’s a chassis made to be readily compared directly to enthusiast-level competition. While it isn’t a performance upgrade from the last GS-6400 model, it certainly is eye catching in its glossy stature, complimented by the blue glowing LEDs captured within its six included fans. However, nothing is perfect, and the Burton definitely has its imperfections, particularly its short front I/O cables that could render any front connections unusable.

VIA's QuadCore: Nano Gets Bigger
Description: Two days ago I flew out to VIA's Centaur headquarters in Austin, Texas to be briefed on a new CPU. When I wrote about VIA's Dual-Core Nano I expected the next time we heard from VIA about CPUs to be about its next-generation microprocessor architecture. While Nano still holds a performance advantage over Atom and Bobcat, it's still missing a number of key architectural innovations that both Intel and AMD have adopted in their current generation hardware (e.g. GPU integration, power gating)…


Consumer Electronics and Software news

Samsung and Acer first with Google Chromebooks
Description: Almost two years after Google first announced plans to build an operating system based on its Chrome web browser, the search giant has announced that the first Chrome OS-based netbooks – dubbed "Chromebooks" – from Samsung and Acer are set to go on sale from next month. With no traditional HDD for local storage, the web-centric devices store all the user's apps, documents, and settings in the cloud resulting in some trimmed down devices with impressive boot up times and battery life

ViewSonic to Release the First 7-Inch Honeycomb Tablet
Description: ViewSonic is preparing to launch the world’s first 7-inch tablet based on Android 3 or Honeycomb, Google’s mobile OS designed for tablets, Pocket-lint reports. The ViewPad 7x will weigh 380 grams and sport a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, dual cameras, a HDMI port and HSPA+ support, which makes it a capable device, worthy of testing the Honeycomb waters in 7-inch format. It is not known whether it will have the freshly launched Honeycomb 3.1, or the initial 3.0 version of Google’s tablet platform.

PCMark 7 Basic Edition Now Available at NGOHQ.
Description: PCMark 7 is a new Futuremark benchmark offering complete PC performance testing for Windows 7, is now available to download and purchase. PCMark 7 is available in 3 editions: the free Basic Edition offering unlimited runs of the PCMark test suite without registration or expiry, the Advanced Edition which includes all 7 benchmark tests and the Professional Edition which unlocks all features and is the only edition licensed for commercial use. PCMark 7 is the latest benchmark from developer Futuremark and joins existing Windows PC tests PCMark05 for Windows XP and PCMark Vantage for Windows Vista.

AMD Catalyst 11.5 Windows 7 Driver Analysis
Description: This came as a bit of a surprise! AMD decided to release the 11.5 driver set which followed the massive 11.4 in the first half of this month. Normally we see the Catalyst driver come out towards the end of the month; this is more so seen after such a massive release. It seems that AMD wanted to just improve Hydravision while doing the normal array of bug fixes which can all be seen below. With clearly not much emphasis being put on performance this time around, we're not expecting any miracles, but we'll see just what the new 11.5 driver has to offer over the previous 11.4 which we love

Tt eSPORTS Shock Gaming Headset Review @ Vortez
Description: Today, we will be looking at the Tt eSPORTS Shock, a gaming headset. The company’s current headset line-up includes the Shock, the Shock One, the Shock Spin and the Isurus. The three formers are circumaural headsets and the latter is an in-ear headset.

Apple sticks with Intel
Description: After weeks of rumour and speculation that Apple was preparing to do something new, it now seems more likely that it is sticking to its chum Intel as closely as Microsoft did in the 1990s. Word on the street was that Apple was considering moving to ARM chips, or AMD, or even Nvidia depending on whether or not you asked the cat or Huggy Bear. But Real Word Tech points out that Apple cannot replace Intel processors with an alternative design for at least two years.

Startech VGA, USB Docking Station Review – XSReviews
Description: Well we can’t review graphics cards, headsets and motherboards every day now can we? Sometimes you have to knuckle up and review something a little less exciting. Today is such a day as I’m taking a look at the Startech VGA, USB Docking Station. Yup, hold on to your hats folks, this is gonna be a wild one.


Gaming news

7th Dragon sequel to take place in a future Tokyo and will be for PSP.
Description: Even if the DS RPG 7th Dragon wasn't localized in English, it did pretty well for itself when it debuted in 2009 in Japan. Sega recently announced the sequel called 7th Dragon 2020 in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine (via Andriasang). The RPG will be produced by Reiko Kodama, who worked on Skies of Arcadia and the Phantasy Star series. Kazuya Niinou will serve as the director while Yuzo Koshiro is the music composer.

3DS Global Update Delayed
Description: For several months Nintendo has promised a system update for the Nintendo 3DS. This update would not only deliver a much-demanded Internet browser, but an online "eShop" and the ability to transfer content stores on a DSi to the 3DS. This evening Nintendo updated its 3DS website with the following statement…

Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection to bring the original trilogy to XBLA and PSN
Description: Has the rich, all-encompassing story mode of Netherrealm Studios' reboot of the Mortal Kombat franchise filled you with an unquenchable thirst for more of the universe's gore-lore? We suggest going back to the franchise's roots — an act which will be made much easier in late summer, when Warner Bros. Interactive launches the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection on XBLA and PSN for 800 Microsoft Points ($10).