Desktop computer

Review: Shapeoko XXL Is a Super-Sized Kit for Desktop CNC Carving

This machine was reviewed as part of our 2017 Desktop Fabrication Shootout. See more machines in our 3D Printer Guide and non-3D printer reviews here.

Read articles from the magazine right here on

Carbide 3D is super-sizing the Shapeoko line of CNC carvers with the Shapeoko XL and XXL. This open source big boy is available exclusively as a kit with everything that you need to begin carving except for your favorite stock material. Our testing unit was supplied with a DeWalt DWP611 compact router; however, Carbide 3D offers kits without the router if you want to bring your own DeWalt or Makita to the party. You can even upgrade your current Shapeoko 3 with either an XL or XXL expansion pack.

Make no mistake – this thing is huge. As compared to the Shapeoko 3, the XL offers twice the cutting area while the XXL kicks it up to four times. With a nearly 12-½ foot square footprint, this gargantuan is going to require a dedicated space in your shop. If you dabbled with the Shapeoko 3, then the custom 85mm x 55mm aluminum extrusion rails will look familiar. The main exception is that they will be much, much longer. The 10 gauge steel frame complements the railing for a stiff and durable machine.

Capable of carving wood, plastic, and soft metals with ease, the Shapeoko XXL allows you to up your game and tackle large scale digital fabrication projects. Small furniture is now within reach, and I can happily report that my Shapeoko XXL created a brand new stool faster than I could have driven to the local hardware store to buy one. However, just because this machine is big, it does not mean it cannot handle smaller projects that require more finesse. Swap out that larger end mill for something smaller and you can take advantage of the Shapeoko’s precision and produce something like a printed circuit board.

Our experience building the XXL was a…

Accenture: Preference for watching TV shows on televisions plummets from 52% to 23% as PCs take over

The percentage of people who prefer watching TV shows on televisions plummeted 55 percent from 52 percent to 23 percent in the past year, according a survey by Accenture.

Laptops and desktops have overtaken TVs as the preferred devices for watching TV shows, according to Accenture’s 2017 Digital Consumer Survey. That’s an astounding change in sentiment in just one year, and it reflects a years-long trend toward digital “anytime, anywhere” viewing. Accenture released the survey at the start of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas.

Above: TV show watching on TVs has plummeted.

The global online survey of 26,000 consumers in 26 countries revealed that consumers increasingly prefer to watch TV shows on devices such as laptop and desktop personal computers and smartphones. More than four in 10 consumers (42 percent) said they would rather view TV shows on a laptop or desktop, up from 32 percent in last year’s survey. 13 percent said they prefer watching TV shows on their smartphones, compared with 10 percent last year.

The decline in TV viewing over the past year is part of a four-year trend. As recently as 2014, the survey revealed that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers preferred the TV set for viewing TV shows.

Above: Computers have overtaken TVs for watching TV shows..

The most-recent findings show that only one in five consumers (19 percent) now prefer to watch sports games on their TVs, down…

The Best All-In-One Windows PCs: Seriously, They’re Actually Good Now

All-in-one PCs are the domain of the novice, the hotel business nook, or the interior decorator who can’t stomach seeing a “real” PC in a pristine living room. With the exception of the iMac, they were seen as boring, underpowered boxes with laptop components stuffed behind a cheap screen. But that’s changing.

It’s true that all-in-one machines are mostly cheap and simple, but the form factor has been undergoing a quiet revolution for the last couple of years. While Apple has been comfortable to trim dimensions and call it a day, manufacturers like Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, and others are filling the space with new and exciting designs. You should really check some of these models out before making your next desktop purchase.

Microsoft Surface Studio

The first desktop machine from Microsoft’s self-branded hardware initiative, the Surface Studio is surely the poster child for this new generation of all-in-one machines. Combining a 28-inch touch screen, a fold-down artist’s easel hinge, and the much-praised Surface Pen from the tablet line, the Studio makes a compelling argument for Windows as an artist’s platform. Prices start high and go higher, but with a GTX 965 graphics card and an optional 980 upgrade, the all-in-one can also double as a competent gaming machine (albeit a not-very-upgradeable one).

The $3000 starting price (with a rather paltry 8GB of RAM, no less) and slightly older Intel processors are two bummers in an otherwise amazing hardware package. Ditto for the unique Surface Dial: this rotating wireless tool can be placed directly on the screen for digital manipulation, but it’s a separate $100 purchase and currently limited to only a few applications. Even so, for those who want the absolute cutting edge in desktop design, the Surface Studio might be worth its steep asking price.

HP Envy

The Envy series has long been HP’s showcase for its more bombastic designs, and the latest all-in-one machines to wear the badge are no exception. These desktops combine huge, small-bezel displays with a horizontal component body that integrates a quad-speaker Bang & Olufsen soundbar. At a glance, the design looks like a high-end home theater setup that’s been shrunk down to desktop size, and that’s basically what it is, with a mid-range Windows machine crammed into the package.

The latest Envy designs are also surprisingly affordable, considering their displays. The base configuration for the massive 34-inch model starts at around $1800, though those who want more RAM, a bigger SSD+HDD combo, and a more capable graphics card can spend a bit more. The Envy design also comes in 24-inch and 27-inch versions, some of which offer touch screens, which isn’t an option on the largest version.

Digital Storm Aura, CyberPower PC Arcus, and Origin Omni

Even among these next-gen designs, gamers looking for truly high-end graphics can find their options a bit limited, thanks to the tight packages and non-upgradable components. Boutique PC makers are getting around that by cramming a full desktop into a 34-inch ultrawide monitor, in three separate products that seem to come from the same OEM supplier: the Digital Storm Aura, the CyberPower PC Arcus, and the Origin Omni. Slip off the back cover and you’ll be able to swap out every component, including a massive full-size PCIe desktop graphics card, RAM DIMM slots, SSD and HDD storage bays, and yes, even the desktop-class Intel processor and Mini-ITX motherboard.

Why Are My PC Speakers and Headphones Making Weird Noises?

If you’re using a desktop PC, you might have heard odd noises coming from your speakers or headphones at times. It may sound like a buzzing or whining when doing basic tasks, sometimes escalating with more intense use like games or streaming movies. To solve the problem, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing it.

Windows 10 Pro Devices Provide
We Can Help You Find The Ideal Device For Your Business Starting At $253.99 Go to microsoft.com/Windows-10-Pro

Where Speaker Noise Can Come From

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of explanations for unwanted sounds coming from your speakers. Luckily, the most common issues are fairly obvious. Broadly speaking, we can break them down into three categories: problems that originate from the physical speakers, the cable connection, and from the PC itself.

It’s easy enough to nail down which part of your speaker setup is at fault. To see if the speakers are the problem, simply plug them into an audio source other than your PC—like a phone or an MP3 player. Note that it’s perfectly normal to hear pops and buzzes as you disconnect the audio jack and plug it into something else, but if you continue to hear electronic interference even after plugging it in, you can rule out your PC as the problem. You can perform the same test in reverse, too: get another set of speakers or headphones and plug them into your PC. If you still hear the unwanted noises, your PC is likely to blame.

If the problems continue (and it’s possible to use another cable with your speakers or headphones), then try replacing the cable. If you hear clearer sound with no interference, then the cable was the likely culprit. Usually this means that either the connector on the end has some kind of physical defect causing a poor connection with the audio source, or the cable itself is poorly shielded. What you’re hearing is electromagnetic interference from your PC or other electrical devices in the room. The fix here is simple enough: just use a different cable, preferably one with a high-quality jack and better shielding.

If the speakers are the problem, it’s likely that they’re damaged. You might be able to isolate specifically which speaker is damaged by listening closely, especially if…