CERN Releases 300TB of LHC Data to the World

Do you remember the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) run by CERN? The device that people feared would create a black hole? In a move that’s rarely done, the organisation has now released terabytes of data onto the web for everyone to use.

The large release is explained by Kati Lassila-Perini, a physicist working on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, who explained the data release simply by saying “Once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly”. That simple, they’ve done what they can with the data and they want to see what others can do, hoping that it can benefit others by “inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow”.

If you want to view the data it’s easy enough to get your hands on from here, but CERN has also provided a bunch of tools to help you analyse the data (both raw data from the detectors within the LHC and the datasets they created). Not stopping there they’ve even provided a custom CERN Linux environment ready for use on a virtual machine, alongside scripts and apps that you can find on Github.

While the data is from 2011, that doesn’t stop it being amazing information that normally you could only read in press releases and journals. So who is going to study the universe and particles this weekend?

Borderlands 3 Will Be Developed by Gearbox Software

Gearbox Software is currently busy wrapping up its Battleborn online first-person shooter and its DLC, but according to a statement released by one of its representatives during a PAX East panel, the company is “gearing up” for the development of Borderlands 3. That’s right, Borderlands 3 will be Gearbox’s next big project, and if you liked the artwork in Battleborn, then you should know that the game’s art director Scott Kester will serve in the same capacity for Borderlands 3. The writing will be taken care of by Gearbox chief creative genius Mikey Neumann, who is also known for voicing Scooter.

Apparently, Neumann has been toying with the idea of creating a character named Scooper, which would be Scooter’s son. Even though he wants the character to become canon, nothing has been settled just yet.

 “I did this whole Scooter thing, then I pitch-shifted it up like seven semitones so it sounds like a chipmunk and it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.”

Those of you who love easter eggs will be glad to know that Battleborn will include plenty of them as far as Borderlands goes while the upcoming DLC might actually include specific Borderlands 3 easter eggs. No word on platform availability or any potential release dates just yet, but this is to be expected considering that the game isn’t even in development yet. Hopefully, Borderlands 3 will be the best Borderlands ever made.

CDPR Releases New Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Screenshots

There’s no shortage of gamers who agree that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the absolute best game that came out in 2015, and I definitely agree with them. The game’s depth, graphics, incredible music and unique atmosphere allowed it to stand out among its peers and crush its competition by earning hundreds of Game of the Year awards from different publications. The game has received a fresh and sizeable expansion pack named Hearts of Stone on October 13, 2015, and it is now ready to receive its second and last expansion titled Blood and Wine. From what we’ve seen so far, this expansion is the most colorful and the most impressive graphics-wise, and according to Senior Social Media and Community Coordinator, Marcin Momot, it will also include a very gripping story.

“I can already tell you Blood and Wine is a fascinating story, with every sort of twist and turn you’d expect from our writers. Toussaint, the new realm we’re creating for the expansion, is unlike anything you’ve seen in Wild Hunt – carefree and colorful, but your gut never stops telling you that there’s some real dark stuff happening underneath all that. We’ll be revealing more information in May, however, to sweeten the wait, here are some fresh screenshots from the expansion.”

Soon enough in May, we’re going to receive more information on Blood and Wine, but until then, we can just have a look at these wonderful new screenshots released by CDPR.

Anidees AI-06 V2 Silent Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Today in the eTeknix office we have the brand new Anidees AI-06 V2 mid-tower chassis, which offers up a big revision of their popular AI-06 model. Taking an already robust chassis, adding in more flexible storage solutions, a card reader, improved cooling support, a larger side panel window (on the relevant model) and more. Today, we have the Silent equipped model, which comes fitted with sound dampening materials on the interior, although windowed and standard solid side panel without noise dampening materials edition are also available.

Equipped with an aluminium finished from panel door, multiple radiator and fan mounts in the front, top, back and bottom of the chassis, removable storage bays, an SD card reader and more, we’re really looking forward to taking a closer look at this chassis, so let’s get it out of the box and see what it has to offer.

  • Rotate door with Aluminum line-finished for elegant look.
  • Moveable front mesh design for ventilation and easy maintenance.
  • Accommodates 120 mm radiator in the rear, 120/140mm radiator in the bottom or 240 mm radiator on the top or front.
  • Dust filters on the front and at the bottom.
  • Rear retaining holes for water cooling kit.
  • Cable management and CPU retaining hole for easy maintenance.
  • Air cooling support 6 fans, 140mm fan*5, 120mm fan*1
  • Supports up to 140 mm fan x 5
  • New Velcro fastener design for better power supply stability
  • USB 3.0*2, USB 2.0*2, SD Card reader, Fan controller on the top
  • Smoky Transparent side window (optional)

As you can see, the silent edition comes with a solid side panel on the left. The panel is held in place by a pair of thumb screws at the back, nothing fancy, but a well-tried and tested design overall.

There’s some branding in the bottom corner here, it’s quite tastefully placed and this means the front panel can be left looking nice clean.

Another heavy panel on the right, looking good in that lightly textured matte black paintwork.

The front panel is really smart, finished with a good layer of brush textured aluminium, giving it a nice premium look and feel.

The door is held shut with magnets on the right side, allowing you to easily open it up to access the front panel component.

In the door cavity, you’ll find a thick layer of noise-dampening materials, which should soak up a lot of unwanted noise from your systems cooling solution. There are three 5.25″ drive bays on offer also, each with an easily removable lock-in cover.

Further down, you’ll find a large ventilated panel for the front mounted cooling.

Around the back, you’ll find a 120mm fan mount, seven expansion slots, two water/cable routing grommets and the PSU cut-out; all pretty standard stuff, but that’s no bad thing.

The covers are reusable and come with some ventilation to help with overall airflow.

The top panel follows the design of the front of the chassis, curving at the edge to create a nice flowing design and featuring even more of that lovely brushed aluminium.

There’s a well equipped I/O panel towards the front, with SD card reader, four USB ports, HD audio jacks, and two nicely designed buttons for the power and reset. What’s also worthy of our attention is that there is a three-way switch, which functions as the built-in fan controller.

the base of the chassis features lots of ventilation for any base mounted cooling, as well as the PSU air intake. The PSU benefits from a slide out filter, but the remaining ventilation uses a simple clip-in mesh.

Nvidia Pascal GP104 Chip Pictured!


At the rate things are going, Pascal may end up the most hyped graphics card release in recent memory. So far we’ve been treated to die shots of GP106, the low-end chip used in the Drive PX 2. The GP104, set to release a little over a month from now, has remained hidden from view, till today.

Coming out from Chinese forums, we can finally see what GP104 looks like. The SKU we have before us is the GP104-200, the one that is expected to bed used for the GTX 1070, the middle of the pack for GP104. The die size comes in at about 333 mm which is remarkably similar to the GM204. Around the die, we are able to see some Samsung 8Gbps 8Gb modules. This is what we have expected for the GTX 1070 and suitable for the GTX 1080 if it doesn’t use GDDRRX.

Overall, the leak today confirms what we already know about Nvidia’s plans. They will start off with the small GXx04 die as the “flagship” and follow it up with the bigger die later on. If the die size is correct, we maybe seeing a decently larger chip than the GM204 due to the die shrink. However, Pascal may bring back some of the compute cut out in Maxwell so it remains to be seen how the chip will truly perform.

Amazon Blocking Non-Prime Members From Buying Certain Games

Amazon Prime started off as giving you quick one-day delivery options, expanding into the market for Video and music streaming, and with its latest offer of a monthly subscription system, its popularity keeps growing. That may change if you are a fan of big time games, with the latest news revealing that certain games may be locked behind the “prime wall”.

If you go on the Amazon site now and check out games like Grand Theft Auto 5 or Fallout 4, you may find yourself welcomed by a small blue button on the right-hand side. Replacing the welcoming yellow button that said buy now, the blue button instead asks you “join Prime”. Above the buttons it states that the games are “Exclusively for Prime Members”, giving you no option but to either seek them on different sites or use Amazon Prime to order your games from Amazon.

While you will still be able to buy the games through other sellers on Amazon, if you want to buy it directly from Amazon you will need Prime membership. With a yearly membership getting you 20% off pre-orders and new releases, if you like buying big releases when they come out it may be worth checking out the deals they offer.

For gamers and non-gamers alike, do you think its fair to have your ability to buy what you enjoy locked to an exclusive membership group or does the one-day delivery (or even one-hour delivery) tempt you to grab those new games that little bit sooner?

It should be noted that while the block originally seemed to affect both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com sales, some of the listings on Amazon.co.uk are now unrestricted, suggesting that the initial backlash may already have been enough to sway Amazons opinion on the “prime wall”. Currently, you can see the option featured on Amazon.com’s Grand Theft Auto 5 page.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Drones and Anti-Missile Systems Being Used to Protect Tanks

When it comes to technology and tanks, we often think of one of two extremes. Firstly the original tanks from years ago, with the large cannons mounted to tracks and then we think to our idea of the future, with giant floating armoured platforms. It would seem the marines are looking to go somewhere inbetween, but not with flying tanks but ones equipped with more systems to help protect tanks from their enemies.

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking at using technology, not additional armour, to help protect their vehicles. First up on the list of technologies is the use of electronic anti-missile systems, or active protective systems, that will detect and intercept anything from a guided anti-tank rocket to the likes of a rocket propelled grenade (such as those used in RPG’s). The system in place would be the Israli Trophy Active Protection System (APS), with four systems being mounted to both Stryker combat vehicles and M1A2 tanks.

With jammers and missile interception components working together the hardware is commonly designed to protect ships or airplanes, but with threats changing the military wants to be one step ahead. That isn’t all, with the Marines also looking at “unmanned aerial systems” (Drones) to help spot enemies before they can even launch the attack.

Combining knowledge about threats before they happen with active and passive defence systems is a nice way to protect soldiers from unwanted threats at a moments notice.

Australia is Spending Millions on Cyber-Security

In this day and age, cyber-security is a huge issue for countries and companies alike, and everyone wants to upgrade and protect their systems. The latest to join this barrage of countries if Australia who recently announced a new strategy in cyber-security.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the new strategy in Sydney, with a budget of $178 million, the scheme will look to bolster their defensive and offensive capabilities. That’s right while he didn’t confirm if the country had used its offensive capabilities against other countries, Turnbull did acknowledge it had hacking capabilities by saying that it “adds to [Australia’s] credibility as it promote norms of good behaviour on the international stage and, importantly, familiarity with offensive measures enhances [its] defensive capabilities as well.”

The funding will create new centers for cyber-security and give 5,000 companies the means to test their security. Supporting the country and the companies based within the new funding will look to support an already growing cyber economy, something which the schemes document claims is “growing twice as fast as the rest of the global economy”.

With GCHQ stating that a recent investment into cyber-security didn’t go as well as planned and a recent survey showing that executives thinking cyber-security is an IT problem, any investment to protect people from malicious hackers online should be welcome.

Samsung Developing Low-Cost 14nm and High-Performance 10nm Processes

Samsung has revealed its foundry’s roadmap for the next few years, which includes the development of a low-cost 14nm FinFET process (14LPC), with hopes that it can pass on those savings to its customers, and a new 10nm process (10LPP) that increases performance by up to 10% over its previous 10LPE process.

Samsung foundry’s process technology roadmap for the coming years includes:

  • 28nm: addition of RF and eNVM technology to our 28FDS baseline.  RF will be available this year and eNVM will be rolled out in phases in 2017 and 2018;
  • 14nm: 3rd generation 14LPC offering which provides a lower cost option, without design rule changes or performance sacrifice.  To enable connectivity features, we are also introducing RF add-on to 14LPC this year.  We have also expanded solutions on our 14nm FinFET to cover product applications in the Networking/Server and Automotive segments;
  • 10nm:  2nd generation 10nm with higher performance over 10LPE will be introduced.  We call this 10LPP.  10LPP will come with 10% speed boost, maintaining design results with 10LPE;
  • 7nm: we have already begun work on our cost optimized 7LPP node which comes with very competitive PPA scaling;
  • 8” matured node: keeping in mind there are still ample of new designs and applications that can take advantage of 8in technology, we are opening up our differentiated 8in technologies ranging from 180nm to 65nm, covering eFlash, Power devices, Image sensors and High voltage processes.

“There are always concerns about trading off cost versus performance,” Kelvin Low, Samsung’s Senior Director of Foundry Marketing, told EE Times. “LPC has the same PDK of [14nm] LPP. The number of steps has been reduced […]That allows us to achieve a lower cost point on manufacturing and we decide to share that with our customers.”

“We think 10nm will be a much longer node than other foundries are claiming it will be. We think 7nm has to be defined and optimized to be cost effective to the masses, not just the high margin products,” he added. “EUV is an important enabler for a 7m cost affordable node.”

Surprise Telsa Rival Emerges from China

A wild Tesla rival appeared! From nowhere, Chinese electronics company LeEco has unveiled its first electric car, designed to be a direct rival to Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sedan, while adding more self-driving and connectivity features

The vehicle, called the LeSEE (a name that gives me unpleasant flashbacks to Final Fantasy XIII), is only a concept car for the time being, but the ambitious company hopes it will help usher in an age of Chinese dominance in the electric car market, with a number of other local companies set to launch battery-powered cars in the next few years.

“When everyone is questioning us over our ability to develop a car like this and is laughing at us, we are still able to be here and show you this car […] I am so emotional,” said an excited Jia Yueting, co-founder and CEO of LeEco, at a launch event in Beijing on Wednesday (via Reuters).

Jia even claims that LeEco hopes to give its electric cars away for free one day, making its money back on ads delivered to the vehicles through its connectivity platform.

“Our cars’ pricing model will be similar to pricing models for cellphones and TV sets we sell today,” he said. “One day our cars will be free […] We are getting there some day.”

SEGA Launches Mega Drive Classics Hub on Steam

I wish I still had my old SEGA Mega Drive (that’s a Genesis to readers from the Americas). I miss it. But, while I search for an acceptable replacement for my childhood console on eBay, SEGA has been kind enough to launch a new Mega Drive emulator on Steam, bringing with it a whole host of classic games from the early-Nineties.

“The SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub will be launching on Steam April 28th as a free update & there’s no need to purchase games you already own on Steam to use it,” SEGA has announced.

“The new-look system is based on a bedroom of an early nineties SEGA fan with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of MEGA Drive games (including the ones you own) and of course a CRT TV,” according to SEGA. “That’s not all, every single MEGA Drive game will now feature Steam Workshop support allowing you share modified versions of your favourite retro SEGA titles.”

The SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub features:

  • Spot-on emulation;
  • Local co-op for games that support it;
  • Optional graphic enhancement filters;
  • The ability to save at any point in the gameplay;
  • Full controller / keyboard support.

Games available for the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub include the Streets of Rage trilogy, Ecco the Dolphin, Altered Beast, and forgotten RPG classic Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole.

Microsoft Translator Can Now Translate Text From Images

Isn’t it just annoying when you go away on Holiday or spot something and sit there for five minutes wondering what the text even says? Microsoft is looking to make it a little easier on us with a Translator that won’t just do text but can also translate text from images.

While it was available on the Windows Phone since 2010 and managed to provide quick and accurate translations from just looking at a menu. Now the feature is coming to Android (with iOS getting the feature back in February), giving you the ability to quickly load and understand any of the 21 languages the app supports.

The Android app is getting a few other boosters alongside the new feature, with inline translations giving you the ability to hover over text and translate to any of the 50+ online libraries while an additional 30 libraries bring the offline language count to 43 in total.

While Google’s translate app has had the feature since 2012, the fact that even more apps are getting translators built it, for both text and Skype getting to translate calls via its universal translator, it could be only a matter of time before languages online mean nothing but a setting on your PC.

Battery Efficiency Improved 400 Times by Accident!

Everything these days uses batteries of some kind or another, from the smartphone you use to text your friends to the tablets and electronic tools you use at work or school every day. In a surprising twist, researchers at UC Irvine may have discovered a way to increase the time a battery holds the charge by complete accident.

The discovery comes as the researchers were looking at creating a solid-state battery using an electrolyte gel, similar to the ones developed by Cockrell School of Engineering in Texas. The idea was to use the gel to replace the lithium inside a battery, a component that corrodes and creates the nasty smelling ooze you get on batteries you find at the back of your kitchen draws when you go looking for just one more battery.

Using gold nanowires to store the electricity within the battery, the new design lasted through 200,000 recharges without any significant decline in battery life or corrosion, something which they can’t explain. Reginald Penner, the lead author of the paper, stated that they “don’t understand the mechanism of that yet”.

Lasting more than 400 times longer than a traditional battery, Penner explained their experiment was like pouring water between two cups, the end results was the new batteries losing only 5% of their charge over 200,000 times.

While a great start to making effective batteries, introducing gold to any electrical component increases its cost and raises the question, could this new style of battery, combining a gel with thin wires of metal, use something other than gold to achieve similar results?

Steam May Soon Accept Bitcoins

When it comes to PC gaming, everyone knows the feeling that happens when the Steam sales come on. Your bank account starts to hate you and you wish you didn’t save your card details as you click and drain your funds for games you won’t get to play for a few months if you are lucky. Now it looks like Steam may soon be accepting Bitcoins, draining both your physical and digital money with each sale.

Posted on a Reddit feed, the post appears to come from the Steamworks Development group, a private group for the platforms developers. The post teases that the company is looking to use an external payment provider to help accept bitcoins.

The post makes clear that the calculations will be done all via the external processor, with you still being charged the same amount and the processor acting as the middle man who takes your bitcoins and pays Valve the appropriate amount of traditional currency. Given the unstable nature of digital currency, this means that at no time does Valve hold the bitcoins, making sure they avoid any sudden drops or spikes in prices for the currency.

This process would make sense, but with concerns about the legality of people’s bitcoins and their stability, what happens if people make large purchases with “bad bitcoins”? With no effort on the side of developers or anyone who makes a purchase using the new system, I’m sure many will accept and enjoy the new option for buying all those games you want.

‘Drone’ That Hit Plane in London May Have Just Been a Plastic Bag

A few days ago it was reported that a drone may have hit a British Airways jet flying out of Heathrow. The transport minister Robert Goodwill has yet to confirm if that’s the case, saying that it could have just been a plastic bag.

The incident is believed to have occurred at around 1,700 ft, over four times the legal limit for people who want to fly their drones in the open air and while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the incident alongside the Metropolitan Police there has been little in the way of information released to the public.

Goodwill did respond to comments regarding “geo-fencing”, a technique where drones would be blocked from entering restricted areas by means of having ‘no go zones’ installed on their devices by the manufacturers. Goodwill didn’t show great promise or belief in that option as he said it would be vulnerable to “somebody who could get round the software”.

With people speculating that the plane struck a drone, a thought that has occurred many times before and almost happened on several occasions, Goodwill did say that it “has not been confirmed it was actually a drone”, instead saying that the original story came from a local police force who tweeted the news about a reported drone colliding with a plane. “There was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”, the latest news seems to be that if it was a drone or unmanned electronic device, they don’t even know what it could have been.

Going on to explain the current information, Goodwill explained that “there was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”.

So no confirmed Drone could mean that people are overreacting to what has been a nightmare scenario for many groups for a while now, with incidents involving everything from illegally flying their drones during major events to even crashing into famous landmarks.

Chinese Agencies Demands Result in iBooks and iTunes Shut Down

Apple is one of the few companies that has managed to stay active in China where regulation of digital services is strictly controlled by the countries many agencies. That was until last week when several of Apple’s services were shut down in China.

Apple’s iBooks store and iTunes movies were shut down last week, following the demands of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. Apple has since responded saying that they hope to “make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible”, something that implies there is a condition to the services.

Apple managed to launch Apple pay in the country just two months ago, and with it counting China’s as its second biggest market, any services that are stopped would have a huge impact on the company. China is known for the censorship of its technology, with the country hidden behind “the great firewall” while it’s suspected that several groups within the country are behind large-scale hacks in other countries.

Recently Apple denied ever handing over its source code to China, a move that may or may not have contributed to the states less favorable look for the California-based company.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Has Been Delayed Once More

It’s definitely not uncommon for developers to delay the release dates of their games in order to add no features or to make sure that the final release is bug-free. They can even delay their games more than once, which is exactly what has happened to the upcoming open-world action-adventure platform video game Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Apparently, this title is now scheduled for a June 7 release in North America and June 9 release in Europe, but since the previous release date was for May 24, we’re not looking at too much of a wait in the end. According to the Design Director of Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Erik Odeldahl, the delay was necessary in order to allow his team to address the valuable feedback that gamers left on after the Closed Beta phase. They also want to perfect the title’s Social Play features, which is probably a good idea.

The official statement was released on the game’s official website, and its most important segment was the following:

“To support the Social Play features, we are using a brand new online technology. We also want to make sure we have the opportunity and time to address player feedback from the Closed Beta. That is why we will give ourselves a bit more time to perfect the game, with a new release date for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst of June 7th (NA) and June 9th (EU).”

Hopefully, the extra two weeks will give EA DICE enough time to polish up Mirror’s Edge Catalyst so that we may enjoy a smooth launch.

Shock Tactics – An Upcoming TBS Inspired by Firefly

Turn-based strategy games have been around for quite some time now, and even though they’re arguably not as popular as real-time strategy games, there are quite a few noteworthy titles out there, including XCOM and Jagged Alliance. Actually, these two titles along with Firefly served as inspiration for the recently announced Shock Tactics, which is currently being developed by a company named Point Blank Games. Since we’re talking about a modern-day TBS, it makes sense for the developers to try and implemented new features into this project, features such as procedurally generated worlds.

The game will have you control a space explorer that begins to discover a brand new alien homeworld. However, you’ll have to fight against something called the “Consortium” in order to achieve your goals, which is where all the action comes in. Judging by the announcement trailer that was released on YouTube, Shock Tactics definitely has some potential, and you’ll probably find it quite appealing if you are a TBS fan. The game is scheduled for a 2016 release on PC exclusively, and it will become purchasable via Steam. Just in case you want to have a look at the announcement trailer, you can always just click below.

What do you think about TBS games in general?

Tesoro Unveil The Gram Spectrum RGB Mechanical Keyboard

Tesoro is a highly-respected hardware company specialising in peripherals and gained notoriety for releasing affordable products. This notion spans across gaming keyboards, ergonomic mice and comfortable mouse pads. Their latest creation is the Gram Spectrum RGB keyboard sporting Tesoro AGILE mechanical switches. These low profile switches offer a short travel distance while retaining a tactile feel. This means you can effortlessly press keys during intense gameplay moments and type large documents in an effective manner.

The Spectrum supports full RGB illumination with 16.8 million colour options as well as numerous lighting effects including breathing, colour wave and more. This provides superb flexibility and allows you to create a very spectacular appearance. On another note, the keyboard utilises double-injection keycaps and is built on a robust metal plate.

Johan Borggren, VP of Sales at Tesoro Technology described their latest product and said:

“The ultra-accurate, low-profile Tesoro AGILE switches bring something truly unique to market, a low-profile mechanical keyboard that does not surrender the tactile feel,”

The GRAM Spectrum is jam-packed with features and rich in customizable functions making it a premier choice for dedicated gamers.”

Technically, the product opts for a 32bit ARM processor with 512KB of onboard memory to record complex macros. Each key is fully programmable and the unit has a 100Hz polling rate. It also supports full N-key/G-key rollover.  In terms of pricing, the black model will retail for $137.00 while the white edition has an MSRP of $139.00. Both products should be available at the beginning of June.

GRAM Spectrum Specifications

  • TESORO AGILE Mechanical Switch – Low-profile switch with 3.5 mm travel distance.
  • 16.8 Million Customizable Lighting – Brilliant RGB lighting.
  • Double Injection Keys – High-quality, long-lasting keycaps.
  • 32bit ARM Cortex Processor and 512 KB Onboard Memory – Advanced processing power for instantaneous macro execution.
  • All Keys Fully Programmable – Reassign any key or set up the most extreme macros for advanced gaming.
  • Detachable Braided USB Cable – Hassle-free travel and cable management.

Thecus Expands Windows Storage Server Line-up with W2810PRO

Thecus had a lot of success with their Windows-based NAS devices and now they’ve expanded that series with the new W2810PRO NAS. The new NAS comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor, the same that we recently saw the N2810PRO launch with, it comes with 4GB DDR3 memory, and uses an SSD as boot drive.

Linux-based NAS run more out of the memory than Windows does and as such the use of a real SSD over a flash module is something that will make a huge difference for such a system. The quad-core processor is powerful enough to drive 4K experiences and thanks to it being a Windows version, it comes with a familiar interface. Integrating Microsoft services such as Office 365 and Azure Cloud Service is as easy as it could be on these devices as they’re running Windows 2012R2 Essentials as the operating system.

“Adding to the success of the original Windows Storage server 2012 solutions from Thecus, the W2810PRO provides increased power and speed performance to users”, said Florence Shih, CEO of Thecus Technology Corp. “This new Thecus Windows Storage Server is an ideal solution for individuals and businesses that are comfortable and proficient with the Windows platform to safely protect and effortlessly manage their valuable data.”

The 60GB boot SSD is more than enough for Windows itself and plenty of apps while the two drive bays give you up to 16TB raw storage capacity when using 8TB drives. That is a lot of power and storage in a small form factor. Windows Storage Server Essentials offers a host of features and functionality for organizations of all sizes including Data Deduplication and Storage Spaces for efficiency and protection, native support for Active Directory, and remote access through the P2P application, Orbweb.me. Users can further customize the W2810PRO to specific business needs as it supports third-party Windows Server add-ins.

Connection-wise, you get both an HDMI port and DisplayPort for direct usage, an S/PDIF for an audio connection, three USB 3.0 ports, and dual Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity.

Feature Highlights:

  • Top Storage for 1-50 Employee Business
  • Office 365 & Microsoft Azure: Cloud Service Integration
  • Active Directory Domain Services: Scalable, Secure User Management
  • Data Deduplication: Performance Optimization
  • Enhanced Boot Drive: Embedded SSD
  • Windows License Included
  • Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core Processor
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM

The new Thecus W2810PRO NAS is available starting today and it is an update well worth it. It packs more than double the power of the previous model, the W2000+, which was based on an Intel Atom dual-core processor.

Shuttle’s New SH110R4 Barebone Brings Great Features in a Small Size

Shuttle released a new system that once again proves that a powerful system doesn’t need to be large in physical dimensions. The new SH110R4 is the newest family member in the XPC Cube series of 13-liter barebone PCs and it comes with everything available you’ll need, from a Skylake LGA 1151 socket over two M.2 expansion slots to an integrated heat pipe system for CPU cooling.

The Shuttle SH110R4 is built around the Intel H110 chipset and supports dual-channel DDR4 memory with a speed of up to 2133 MHz. You can equip it with a total of 32GB through its two memory slots, but the specifications don’t reveal whether it’s full-sized DIMMs or SO-DIMMs. My bet would be on the last, SO-DIMMs. With the use of a Skylake-based Core, Celeron, or Pentium processor, you also gain 4K video capabilities through the processor-integrated GPU and the onboard HDMI and DisplayPort. A D-Sub VGA port was also added for backwards compatibility.

Besides the graphics connections, you also find all other relevant external connectors. There are four USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet network powered by an Intel i219LM controller, and a 5.1-channel HD audio system powered by a Realtek ALC662 chip.

The Shuttle XPC Cube series are basically mITX systems with a clever cooling solution and users can upgrade the motherboard to pretty much any mITX board they wish at any point. But the included one is pretty good as it is and comes with two M.2 slots, one M.2 2280/2260/2242 Type M slot for high-speed SSDs and one M.2 2230 Type A/E slot for devices like WiFi cards. There’s also a PCIe x16 and a PCIe x1 slot for additional expansion cards such as graphics cards, raid controller, monitor cards, sound cards, etc.

The really cool feature is the Shuttle’s I.C.E 2 cooling engine that utilizes heat-pipe tech to keep the SH110R4 cool. It uses convection cooling to dissipate heat away from and around the CPU. The I.C.E.2 copper tubes, coated in nickel for enhanced tube hardness and rust-proof protection, are filled with distilled water to effectively channel heat and provide highly efficient processor and chassis cooling.

It also comes with a built-in PSU which can deliver 300W and is 80Plus Bronze certified. Overall, you get a small and stable system with great features and a suggested retail price of £172.00.

 

AMD Now Includes Wraith Cooler With FX 8350 and FX 6350

AMD’s upcoming CPU architecture, codenamed Zen, is going to offer a 40 percent IPC improvement compared to Excavator and could dawn in a new era of competitiveness. Hopefully, if AMD can produce something which rivals Intel, it could instigate a pricing war and make enthusiast processors more affordable. Clearly, many consumers are eagerly anticipating Zen’s release which makes the current range seems rather outdated. Despite this, there are some users who own AM3+ motherboards and don’t want to upgrade to an entirely new platform. On another note, consumers on a tight budget might feel they’re a great option to create an affordable HTPC.

Traditionally, bundled CPU coolers are fairly poor at thermal dissipation due to the low fin array and compact heatsink size. Also, they can be alarmingly loud under full load which makes for a shoddy desktop experience. As a result, I always encourage people to invest in a third-party cooler, such as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Interestingly, Intel decided to ditch the stock cooler altogether on Skylake K series chips because they knew people would be opting for a better option. Although, this didn’t reduce the retail price at all! During CES this year, AMD displayed their new Wraith stock cooler capable of lower thermals compared to the previous model and significantly reduced noise. The design evokes a premium feel and it looks rather nice.

Today, AMD announced that they will now bundle this new cooler with the FX 8350 and FX 6350. Previously, this was limited to the FX 8370 and A10-7890K. The FX 6350 will retail for $129.99 while the FX 8350’s price is set at $179.99. This is fantastic news for consumers wanting to order a new AMD processor right now. Of course, if you can wait, it would be advisable given the upcoming Zen release.

Are you looking forward to Zen?

FreshTech Solutions Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

FreshTech Solutions is one of the leading system integrators in the UK and forged an impressive reputation for their huge range of pre-configured PCs. Whether you’re on a tight budget looking to try out PC gaming for the first time, or a content creator seeking the absolute best performance, there’s something to suit your requirements. Each PC is backed by generous warranty period and it’s even possible to purchase additional cover for further peace-of-mind. For example, on systems costing £1000 and above, you can increase the warranty length from 3 years to 5 years for £25. If you’re opting for a cheaper rig under the £1000 mark, then it’s possible to select three years cover for £25 and five years support at a cost of £50. This level of flexibility allows you to protect your investment for a period which you expect to use the system for.

When selecting a custom PC, the number of configurations and pricing variation means it’s extraordinarily difficult for novices to judge which model to go for. It’s not always a sensible approach to spend more if you’re unlikely to reap the benefits. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of custom PCs from FreshTech Solutions that we are happy to recommend at various price points. Hopefully, our readers will find this useful and those without technical knowledge can make an informed decision about which unit suits their usage scenario.


£529.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6400
  • 8gb Crucial DDR4 2133MHz
  • 120gb Kingston V300 SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • Nvidia GTX 950 2GB
  • Gigabyte H110M-S2H
  • Falcon Blue Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour)

The first machine we’re taking a look at targets consumers on a very tight budget who want to enter into the Intel ecosystem. While you could compile a cheaper build using an AMD CPU and AM3+ motherboard, it doesn’t offer much headroom in the future if you suddenly demand additional horsepower. The majority of games are GPU bound but there’s some examples including ARMA III and more recently, Black Desert Online which rely heavily on a system’s CPU performance. This particular build features a large enough capacity boot SSD to install the operating system and enjoy a snappier feel in Windows.

Also, the GTX 950 2GB graphics card is a great choice for 1080P gaming providing you turn down a few settings. On another note, the lack of overclocking isn’t an issue at this price and won’t impact on the user experience during graphically intensive games. Ideally, I’d recommend paying extra for the next tier, but this is a great choice for beginners moving away from consoles for the very first time.


£699.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 960 2GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Blue Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next system which retails for £699.00 offers overclocking functionality due to the unlocked K processor and Z170 chipset. Furthermore, the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 contains an illuminated LED strip on the PCB to create a more ostentatious appearance. This higher end model includes the GTX 960 2GB GPU to maintain improved frame-rates at higher settings. It’s a significant boost over the GTX 950 and worth considering given the constant influx of modern titles requiring additional graphical grunt. Of course, it’ s still a budget option and pales in comparison to higher end graphics cards, but it should provide an enjoyable user-experience with a 1920×1080 display. Also, the boot SSD’s higher capacity allows you to store your favourites games and benefit from faster load times.


£899.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • WD 1TB WD10EZEX HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair CX600 80Plus Bronze PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Red Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next tier’s system costs £899.99 and has a number of key improvements including a secondary mechanical hard disk, 16GB RAM and GTX 970 graphics card. When discussing the previous systems it’s important to remember that I’d recommend adding a mechanical drive to store large sums of data. This allows you to easily install various games while ensuring the boot SSD doesn’t fill up rather quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t increase the asking price by an exponential amount. On another note, the 16GB memory is useful when working with video, photo editing and other complex workloads. It’s not really necessary in games just yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if 16GB becomes the standard in the next few years.

NVIDIA’s GTX 970 offers absolutely stunning performance even with a 2560×1440 monitor and can exceed 60 frames-per-second in various titles including the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. It’s unquestionably one of the best price to performance GPUs on the market and a suitable choice for a powerful gaming system.


£1049.00

 

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K Tested Overclock to 4.6GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • Seagate 1TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Falcon Gaming Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Moving towards the higher end market is a system which retails for £1049.00. This model contains a higher wattage power supply and Corsair water cooling unit to attain better temperatures. Furthermore, FreshTech Solutions guarantees the system will reach 4.6GHz and tests each overclock extremely carefully. This will be incredibly useful to consumers who feel apprehensive about overclocking their CPU and haven’t got any experience in this field. They really shouldn’t be concerned because the process is ridiculous simple. However, whenever anything goes awry, it’s important to have an excellent level of after-care support.


£1599.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i7 6700K Tested Overclock to 4.5GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 500GB SSD
  • Seagate 2TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

The £1599.00 system swaps out the i5 6600K for Intel’s enthusiast flagship i7-6700K on the LGA1151 chipset. Once again, FreshTech Solutions guarantees an impressive minimum overclock to reach significant gains compared to stock values. Also, the 500GB SSD is a great addition which allows you to install various applications without constantly checking on the remaining capacity. The system is housed in the highly regard Fractal Design R5 chassis which creates a more premium feel. Clearly, the main improvement revolves around the GTX 980Ti and is a major step up when compared to the GTX 970.

Even though the GPU isn’t capable of running games at maximum details on a 4K display, it’s able to really reach high figures on a 2560×1440 or 3440×1440 monitor. If you want to improve the performance even further, it’s possible to add a second GTX 980Ti due to the power supply’s 750 watts rating. The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 motherboard supports USB 3.1, SATA Express, multi-GPU configurations and opts for a superb audio solution. Once combined, this offers an absolutely staggering user-experience.


£1938.00

Specification:

  • Intel Core i7 5930K 3.50GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz
  • 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Seagate 2TB Hard Drive
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte X99-SLI
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Up to this point, we’ve focussed on the consumer LGA1151 chipset which offers great value for typical desktop tasks. Unfortunately, the platform only supports up to a 4-core 8-thread CPU. This severely limits the computational power during multi-threaded workloads. As a result, many professionals opt for 2011-v3 powered systems because they can leverage extra performance using 6-core or even 8-core processors. The next system totalling £1938.00 utilises a hex core processor with 40 PCI-E lanes and a 2TB hard disk.

Not only that, the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe boot drive is capable of an astounding maximum read of 2500MB/s and maximum write reaching 1500MB/s. This allows games to load faster and helps to process huge 4K video projects in a more efficient manner. Of course, this elite-grade PC opts for the best possible hardware including the GTX 980Ti and Gigabyte X99-SLI motherboard. This means you can have a powerful workstation and play demanding games in your leisure time.

If you’d like us to review any of the systems mentioned above, please let us know in the comments section below.

Synology Urges You To Be On Guard Against Ransomware

Ransomware is some of the nastiest pieces of software in existence and in theory, it could hit anyone. Some people naturally have a greater risk, through the kind of work and tasks they do with their systems. But in theory, anyone can be unlucky enough to be hit with this kind of evil doing through security holes in the software being used.

This warning and reminder isn’t based on a specific new kind of ransomware, it is more to raise awareness of this kind of threats. Encryption-based ransomware such as CryptoWall, CryptoLocker, or TorrentLocker are on the rise, and they don’t just target Windows-based systems as many belief, they have also begun targeting network-based storage devices. Because of its stealthy nature and disastrous effects, ransomware is commonly perceived as a sophisticated, highly destructive, and unstoppable malware threat.

An advanced user isn’t really afraid of ransomware as they usually make backups of everything onto their network connected devices – or work directly from there via permanent shares and iSCSI setups. In the case of an infection, they simply wipe their system and install it again, and that would be the end of that story. Creators of this kind of nasty software know that and they want a piece of that pie too, which is why they have started to attack other systems besides workstations.

Where there is a threat, there is a way to defend yourself against it, at least in 99.9 percent of situations.

  • Update your operating system. Most people are up-to-date on their Windows and OS X updates simply because you’re being told when they’re available. But when was the last time you updated your NAS OS? Most NAS systems have automatic update features available and you should at the very least enable this for critical updates.
  • Install security software. A good anti-virus software is a good place to start and you’ll find solutions such as Avast or Intel security in your NAS’ app features. It will take up some resources to have it running, but those are resources that you should be happy to give up. Especially if you use the automatic download features found in all NAS units.
  • Disable Remote Desktop Protocol. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a very common target for malware, which is why you should disable it if you don’t absolutely need it.
  • Install Mobile Apps and use Push Notifications. Applications for your smartphone and tablet are another great way to stay on top of your headless systems. Together with the push notifications feature you get up-to-date statuses from your system right into your pocket.
  • Beware of your actions. The golden rule is as it always has been, beware of what you do. Take the one second extra to hover a link and check the destination in the status bar before you click it, turn off features such as Hide file extensions for known file types, and don’t trust anything until you have verified the authenticity.

This time, the warning came from Synology, but in theory, it could have come from any of the big manufacturers. The bigger a company and brand gets, the more likely it is that their systems will be actively searched for vulnerabilities. Luckily Synology and other NAS’ have even more features that will help you in case that you get hit by this kind of malware.

A multi-version backup of all your files is naturally the best defense. If everything is backed up, then the evil ones can take their ransom demand and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Backup all your vital files from your system and onto your NAS is the first step and from there on you should have at least one more backup step – this could be a cloud solution, another NAS, or external drives, for example. Synology’s new Cloud Station Backup app can do all this for you through a single app, so it is as easy as it’s ever been. Hyper Backup is another awesome tool that lets you enjoy a full range of multi-version backup destinations from local shared folders, expansion units, and external hard drives, to network shared folders, Rsync server, and public cloud services. It can also isolate data for further protection from internet threats.

If your system supports Snapshot Replication through Btrfs file system, then you got another level of protection right there. Snapshot Replication allows you to replicate data from a primary site to an offsite location up to every 5 minutes and 15 minutes for LUNs, ensuring all your critical data in shared folders or virtual machines in iSCSI LUNs can be recovered quickly in the event of a disaster.

Synology also put up a mini-site that summarizes all these information along with the step to follow if you should have been effected. The fact that this site even was made, speaks for the severity of these attacks and how far they’re spreading. So be aware, practice safe surfing, and show an evolved behavior.

MSI Announces The Aegis Gaming Desktop

MSI is one of the leading hardware companies around and manufactures an enormous range of products including graphics cards, motherboards, mouse mats, gaming laptops and much more. Their latest creation entitled, the Aegis, is a gaming desktop opting for a usual yet compact design. Furthermore, there’s a carrying handle to easily take the system to another person’s house or compete in a LAN event. The system supports a number of high-end graphics cards up to the GTX 980 Ti.

Ready for Excellent Graphics
Play the latest games in all their glory with MSI Aegis. It can be equipped with the latest high-end graphics cards. The compact case is future proof, as it has enough space for a full-size graphics card to bring all the power that real gamers need.

Silent Storm Cooling 2
To get outstanding performance Aegis is equipped with a powerful cooling system, Silent Storm Cooling 2. Embracing three separate air flow streams that individually take care of the cooling of different components within Aegis. The unique Silent Storm Cooling 2 design makes sure the system’s temperature stays perfectly under control, ensuring a cool and silent operation.

Easy Access to Upgradable Components
For gamers who always want to get the best out of their system, the components of the Aegis are easily accessible and ready to be upgraded at any time. Whether the user wants to expand storage, switch to another CPU or upgrade the graphics card, he can always keep the MSI Aegis gaming rig up to date with the latest hardware.

Mystic Light
Make your build look like it’s on fire or as cold as ice. Choose a style with Mystic Light RGB LED built into the front of the case and select any of the colors from the palette to match and give Aegis its own gaming look. Or use breathe, gradient or Gaming & music modes.

Hear Beyond the Limits
Delivering the crispest sound signal to gamers’ ears with special hard- and software amplifiers built in. Audio Boost 3 is integrated into the Aegis motherboard and produces the best sound, especially benefiting gamers using a gaming headset. Nahimic Sound Technology software is used to boost the audio performance to the next level. Get immersed with high definition virtual 7.1 sound using advanced sound enhancement effects and unique features for gamers.

AMD Releases Lacklustre Q1 Results

Nearing the end of the cycle for their current generation products, its not surprising to see poor financial results come out from AMD. Last year was a terrible one and it looks like 2016 won’t be much better, at least for Q1. For the first quarter of 2016, AMD posted a net loss of  $109 million from an operating revenue of $832 million. Unsurprisingly, it is better than 2015 as that year was arguably the worst ever.

AMD blames the revenue drop of 13% sequentially and 19% year-over-year as lower semi-custom sales. This is somewhat expected as we continue the PS4 and Xbox One lifecycle. The bright side is that Sony is set to release the PlayStation 4 Neo and even the Xbox One will see new revisions if not a full upgrade. Combined with the Nintendo NX, those should bounce back the semi-custom segment as consumers buy more consoles again.

Even though margins improved slightly to 32% (Intel posts around 60%), the increase in expenses led to the loss. This is reportedly due to increased R&D for upcoming products, which in my mind are due to Vega/Navi and Zen+ since Zen and Polaris are all set in stone by now. With Polaris 10 and Zen coming this year and even an Apple deal in the works, AMD has a good chance to turn things around as long as they can execute and head back to the black.