Steam for iOS and Android now available to all!

The Steam application for iOS and Android devices, announced last week, is now available to all gamers around the world.

Launched last week in a closed beta, the Steam app allows gamers to chat with Steam friends, browse community groups and user profiles, view screenshots and user-generated content for their favorite games, read the latest gaming news, stay up to date on unbeatable Steam sales, and more.

Want to check it out? Simply download the Steam app (free of charge) and log in to your Steam account via the mobile app.

Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 40 million accounts around the world and over 1,800 titles offered.

For more information, please visit

Source: Press Release

Shuttle add Z68 to their barebones series

Shuttle is a well known brand for the sale of small form factor (SFF) barebones which normally consist of PC case, power supply and motherboard combos. Most of their barebones to date have been comprised of the H61, H67 and P67 platforms from Intel. However, as of today they have introduced Intel’s Z68 platform. Probably from recognising the usefulness of SSD caching technology to HTPC and SFF owners. All of Shuttle’s barebones will come with an mSATA port to allow for small SSDs (of 64GB or less capacity) to cache the primary mechanical hard drives.

The first model to be given Z68 at Shuttle is the XPC Barebone SZ68R5. This barebones kit will have a healthy portfolio of PCI-E expansion compared to what you would normally expect to find in a HTPC. There will be a full size PCI-E 2.0 16X slot which will obviously support discrete video cards and anything else that needs more than 4X slot. There will be a PCI-E 2.0 4X slot ideal for wireless cards or rear mounted expansion inputs. Finally there is a PCI-E 2.0 1X slot and the mSATA slot mentioned earlier (mSATA is actually a PCI-E lane not a SATA input despite the naming).

The motherboard will be supporting up to 32GB of memory across the 4 memory slots so that means 8GB DIMMs are supported. Shuttle have also integrated a “Turbo Boost” function into the motherboard BIOS allowing uses to overclock when wanting extra performance and downclock when wanting to save power (similar to ASUS’ EPU and TPU technology). The motherboard will support the full range of Sandy Bridge processors from the Celerons all the way up to the core i7s. The board has display outputs should you want to use the integrated Intel graphics, you get a DVI and HDMI. Although there are two rear PCI brackets worth of space so you could easily run a discrete card to support up to four monitors.

In total, the machine offers the following host of external connectors: 4x USB 3.0, 6x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA/USB Combo, 7.1 Audio, S/PDIF. On the UEFI motherboard, there are 2x SATA 6 Gbit, 2x SATA 3 Gbit, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x RS232 ports. This is all powered by a 500W 80 PLUS power supply.

“The long-awaited XPC Barebone based on Z68 Express has now landed in Europe,” states Tom Seiffert, Head of Marketing & PR at Shuttle Computer Handels GmbH. “Not often in our long history has the sales launch of a new model been so keenly awaited. In fact, there were already requests for this development as soon as the first model with LGA1155 was introduced.”

Shuttle is planning on retailing this product at €300 excluding VAT in Europe so most countries will see it market at around the €350-360 price point. You can get more information at the product page.

Launch dates for the rest of the HD 7000 series revealed


MSI, unfortunately for them, has leaked confidential AMD information to the press. This information gives us details on the roadmap for the rest of the HD 7000 series of cards. It first of all reaffirms what we’ve already seen, that the HD 7970 will launch on the 9th of January (which it did) and that the HD 7950 will launch on January the 31st (which it did). It also disappoints by telling us the HD 7990, the dual GPU card of the HD 7000 series, is still under development and its launch date has not been decided yet. It also tells us that the HD 7870 based on the Pitcairn XT core will come in to replace the HD 6870 in March. The HD 7850 will come in to replace the HD 6850 in March too but this one is based off the Pitcairn Pro core. Both both of these 78X0 cards will come with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

The HD 7770 will come along with the HD 7750 on February the 15th. These will be direct replacements for the 6770 and 6750. Both will come with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and are based on the Cape Verde XT and Cape Verde Pr0 cores respectively. AMD is not at this time seeking to make a direct HD 6790 replacement according to this document, although a HD 7790 may come at a later date.

Source: CPU World

Mass Effect 1 and Dead Space 1 for £3 on Origin

PC gamers, there’s a juicy sale going on over at EA’s digital distribution shop Origin.

In the Origin sale, you can pick up Mass Effect 1 and Dead Space 1 for the rock-bottom price of £3.

Dead Space 2 will only set you back £7.50, Mass Effect 2 £10.

Dragon Age 2 and Mirror’s Edge are £5.

The remaining deals worth noting are Bulletstorm for £7.50 and Spore for £6.

This Origin deal runs for “a limited time only”.

Source: Eurogamer

QPad MK-80 Mechanical Keyboard Review

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QPad is a relatively small gaming brand when it comes to peripherals, however this hasn’t effected the quality of any of the products they have released, whose range include; mouse pads, gaming mice, headsets and keyboards. QPad’s commitments lie with the gaming community so as such, they sponsor several events and even run their own “Q Tour”. They say the knowledge they have gained from these events have enabled them to create great gaming peripherals, which give the users the winning edge.

What we have in for review today is the QPad MK-80 Mechanical Keyboard. The difference between a ‘normal’ keyboard and a mechanical one, is the type of switch that the keyboard uses for  the keys. The different types of switches include membrane switches – the most popular type found in most keyboards, Scissor switches – found in laptops and then mechanical switches, which are the switch type we are looking at today. The MK-80 retail version has MX Cherry Blue switches, but QPad do also give you the option of, red, brown or.
black (The MK-85 has Cherry Red switches).

The keyboard is well presented when in the box, with a fancy graphic of the keyboard on the front – showing the keyboard in all of its backlit glory. The rest of the box is covered with the features, accessories and various translations. Taking the sleeve off, you are presented a black box, which when opened displays the keyboard and the wrist-rest, supported at each end by some foam packaging. Underneath the keyboard is the manual and and some accessorises that will be focused on in more detail later.

The MK-80 is aimed at gamers, however with the retail boards featuring Cherry MX Blue switches throughout, it makes it a slightly unusual area of the market to aim it at. The Cherry MX Blue switches have an audible click during the key press, which results in a fairly loud but very satisfying click. The keys also require slightly more pressure to activate, which again, makes it an odd choice. As you can see from the photo above, each key has it’s own blue LED, who’s brightness can altered.

Also in the box are some orange keys, which can be used to replace certain others, like the WASD keys. To aid in swapping the keys, a clever little tool is provided that helps pull off the keys without damaging them. There is also a PS2 to USB adaptor, incase your motherboard doesn’t have a PS2 port.

Here the WASD keys have been replaced with the blank orange keys, which makes it easier to locate these keys in your peripheral vision during those intense gaming sessions. They also have a slightly different texture (smoother), than the standard keys. Each individual key is also backlit by one LED,who’s brightness levels can be controlled using the function key (Fn) and the up or down keys on the numpad.

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The keyboard has both a PS2 connector and a USB one, which also powers the USB port (seen later on). You also get a 3.5mm mic and headphone jack that means you can plug your headset directly into the keyboard, saving you from rummaging around the back of your PC.

The MK-80 also has two USB 2.0 ports on the top side, as well as the headphone and mic ports mentioned above. This makes it a lot easier to connect devices such as pen drives. The keyboard also sports a pair of height adjusters that raise the back of the keyboard, which some people might find more comfortable.

Another feature this keyboard has, is multimedia keys, which are present on the F keys along the top of the keyboard. This have to be pressed in conjunction with the Fn key that is located down by the right Shift key. This function button also needs to be pressed along with the keys that control the brightness.

The keyboard also features a wrist rest that is coated with the increasingly popular soft touch material. This simply clicks into place under the front edge. It’s not fixed so it does allow for some flexibility if one decides to increase the height of the keyboard. The wrist rest makes it more comfortable to type and helps alleviate RSI. The wrist rest features some small detailing in the centre, that adds to the quality characteristic of the keyboard.

Using the keyboard for both gaming and typing was a thrilling experience. Not only has it made writing this review easier by guarantying that each key has been pressed firmly, but it has improved all typing abilities, even when it comes to gaming. The orange keys may seem like a gimmick , but do actually help with locating the right keys without even looking at the keyboard.

Overall the keyboard has a very simple appearance, with subtle detailing that has set it’s self apart from the other mechanical keyboards on the market. The dark colour scheme, with blue individually backlit keys, positions the keyboard right at the top of many people’s wishlists. Not only does it look the part, but it performs like a dream also. Compared to many other keyboards that have been reviewed, this one stands clearly at the top.

Despite the high praise so far, there are a few little niggles that should be mentioned, and some of which are mearly down to the users preference. The first one is the price, the RRP for this keyboard stands at appromately 110 Euros, which is fairly competitively priced in for the mechanical keyboard market, but is still a lot of money to spend on a keyboard.

The next niggle is the type of switch used, however this is all down to preference. The Cherry MX Blue switches, whilst good for typing and gaming, seem an odd choice due to the noise they produce, and the movement of the switch, although, QPad are offering your choice of switch.

With these points aside, this mechanical keyboard is probably one of the best that we’ve had in to review, so because of this, we are proud to award the QPad MK-80 Keyboard with the prestigious:


Gigabyte give the HD 7950 the WindForce treatment

Gigabyte has been giving AMD’s reference HD 7950 the WindForce treatment. Gigabyte has taken the reference cards and given them a generous triple fan WindForce cooler featuring what appears to be three 80mm fans. This is placed on top of AMD’s reference PCB design to give the more traditional blue and black Gigabyte colour scheme we are used to seeing. The WindForce HD 7950 packs a really dense set of aluminium fins covering the GPU, VRM and memory chips. The heat appears to be drawn away by 3 large probably 8mm direct contact copper heat pipes. Gigabyte claims the three 80mm fans have been slightly angled to optimise the way air is exhausted, so most the air gets either pushed out the top of the card or through the rear PCI bracket area.

The part number of the WindForce HD 7950 is the GV-R795WF3-3GD and it comes factory overclocked out of the box to a 900MHz level like many other card manufacturers offer, the memory maintains the standard 5GHz effective clock speed. The card is currently available for purchase on Newegg for $489.99 and on Scan for £395.27. 

Cyberlink Show Off PowerDVD 12

We were lucky enough to attend a seminar where Cyberlink were keen to introduce some new products to the market.

The main one being PowerDVD 12which offers up a whole host of new and exciting features, which left us excited with the new addon features in terms of connectivity.

Check out the video for a further insight.


Wii-U’s Hardware still in development

The Wii U hardware is currently changing “constantly,” Ninja Gaiden 3 developer, Team Ninja has claimed.

Speaking in an interview with Gamefront (via Go Nintendo), Team Ninja’s Fumihiko Yasuda and Yosuke Hayashi broke the industry-wide silence on Nintendo’s next-gen console, claiming its “very easy” to development for and “like PS3/360″.”Nintendo asked us what we would want from the hardware. And when we gave them our feedback, we could see that they really listened and made changes,” said Hayashi. “The hardware is currently changing constantly.”

Yasuda added: “The control via a touch screen is like the Nintendo DS, we worked on the NDS with Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword, and we would like to take some elements from it and install them in the U Wii version of Ninja Gaiden 3.”

Team Ninja’s comments of course back up those of Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono, who claimed earlier this month that the Wii U hardware has ‘advanced since E3’.

He said:

“What we saw last E3 is not a reflection of everything this console is able to offer. We have been trying the development kits and some of its new characteristics will improve its possibilities. It isn’t something like Kinect or similar accessories, it’s something different.”

Recent reports claimed the Wii U hardware is twice as powerful as the Xbox 360.

One new feature already revealed for the console is NFC technology, which allows users to read and write data wirelessly, in a similar way to how Activision’s Skylanders action figures interact with the ‘Portal of Power’ reading device.

Source: CVG

Vertex 3D and HIS launch HD 7950s

Vertex 3D and HIS have both today launched their HD 7950s. Both are based off reference designs although non-reference variants will come later on from both companies. The cards both use the latest 28nm graphics core technology with cores clocked at 800MHz. They are both equipped with 3GB of GDDR5 video memory clocked at 5GHz effective. There is support for Direct X 11.1 as well as PCI Express Gen 3 technology. AMD Eyefinity technology is supported out of the box as well as support for CrossFireX which will allow up to four cards to be ajoined.

VTX3D HD7950 features the latest technology from AMD. Equipped with AMD PowerTune technology, which performs intelligent assessment of GPU’s real-time power draw to enable higher clock speeds and maximize performance in your favourite games. VTX3D HD7950 also supports AMD exclusive Eyefinity technology, bringing the ultimate immersive gaming experience with innovate “wrap around” multi-display capabilities. Furthermore, you can enjoy an enhanced visual experience with the latest AMD HD3D technology, which gives 3D support for Stereo 3D display, gaming, Blu-ray. It’s worth to mention that VTX3D HD 7950 has a new technology called ZeroCore Power, which shuts down the GPU during periods of long idle, and reduces the idle power under 3W. With AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology, users can easily unleash the massive parallel processing power of GPU and tackle demanding tasks like video transcoding with amazing speed.

Source: Press Release

THQ threatened with stock exchange delisting

Troubled publisher THQ faces possible de-listing from the Nasdaq stock exchange, it’s been warned.

MCVreports that the Saints Row company’s shares have failed to top $1 for 30 consecutive days, which is the minimum level required for a continued listing.THQ has been given until July 23 (180 days) to boost its share price and must maintain a $1+ level for ten consecutive business days.

The firm recently announced it’s exiting the kids’ licensed games category to focus on its core game franchises and “develop digital initiatives”.

THQ’s “updated business strategy” was announced shortly after the publisher denied rumours that it had cancelled multiple projects and was positioning itself for sale.

Last month, the company cut 30 staff from its family-focused Play THQ division, the Californian development team responsible for the publisher’s uDraw line of products.

Source: CVG

Sapphire launches a couple of HD 7950s

Along with many other manufacturers Sapphire has launched a couple of HD 7950 cards. They consist of two designs that both are visually non reference. The single fan base model features reference clock speeds, PCB and cooler but the outer plastic casing is of a different design. The dual fan model is factory overclocked to 900MHz on the core but they both stick to the reference 5GHz on the 3GBs of GDDR5 memory. The base-model features a simple single-fan heatsink without heat pipes, while the OC model uses a more complex aluminum fin-array heatsink to which heat is fed by copper heat pipes, ventilated by two fans. Interestingly, Sapphire did not release an standard AMD reference design model. The base model is expected to be priced at $449, and the OC model about $20 more.


PSN Down again on Thursday

The PlayStation Network will be going down for maintenance on Thursday, February 2, Sony’s confirmed
The downtime is scheduled to start at 2.00PM GMT and last until February 8.00AM on Friday, following an earlier 13 hour maintenance period the week before last.

During the maintenance period the PlayStation Store will not be accessible through console or PC. Customer account management and registration will also be affected. Lastly, Home won’t be accessible during the downtime, but it looks like online gaming won’t be affected.

As always if you’re signed in before maintenance period begins you should remain signed into your online session, but although the services mentioned above will still be unavailable.

If you’re stuck for something to do during this period we recommend picking up the latest issue of Scott Snyder’s Batman, we’ve been reading it; it’s good. Or you know, go outside or something…

Source: CVG

Arctic announce the Accelero Xtreme 7970

Together with the world’s first 28nm AMD 7900/7800 series GPUs,ARCTIC releases its Accelero Xtreme 7970 as the first and most powerful VGA cooler compatible with these AMD series. The immaculate performance of Accelero Xtreme 7970 undoubtedly surpasses that of stock coolers by having a cooling capacity of up to 300 Watts at a fraction of the noise level. Accelero Xtreme7970 is definitely the perfect cooling solution for overheated GPUs that no overclockers or enthusiasts should miss.

The special mounting mechanism of Accelero Xtreme 7970 allows it to work with the latest models of AMD graphic cards. It is bundled with a comprehensive set of 31 VR and RAM heatsinks and thus cools of all the components surrounding virtually any GPU!

Accelero Xtreme 7970 leads with top performance within the VGA coolers in the market. Three 92mm PWM fans (with low-noise impellers and patented fan holder) come with five heatpipes and an 84-fin heatsink allow this cooler to operate in silence between 900 to 2,000 RPM at an irresistible cooling capacity of up to 300 Watts. It is also pre-applied with the MX-4 thermal compound which greatly enhances your GPU’s thermal conductivity.

The ARCTIC G-1 thermal glue is also used to affix the VR and RAM heatsinks to enhance the cooling of surrounding components. Compared to thermal tapes, the G-1 thermal glue gives you a more reliable and easily-removable adhesion without leaving any residues behind. Accelero Xtreme 7970 comes with a six-year limited warranty with MSRP at $97.95  and €73.83 excluding VAT.

Source: Press Release

XFX HD 7950 launch pricing guide

Its January the 31st and do you know what that means? The launch of the HD 7950 from AMD is finally upon us and yet again XFX are one of the first manufacturers to be ready on launch day with some non-reference designs. They are offering no less than a set of four different cards.

Here is a quick recap on the new HD 7950 card: AMD’s brand new HD 7950 features a 28nm graphics processing core with a staggering 4.13 billion transistors. The HD 7950 uses the same huge 384bit memory interface as the HD 7970 and also gets generously endowed with 3GB of fast GDDR5 video memory. The reference clock speeds are 800MHz across the core and 5GHz on the memory. AMD’s HD 7950s also come with PCI Gen3 support and four video inputs on the rear bracket (two mini Display Port, one DVI and one HDMI), AMD has recommended an RRP of £349.99 for the HD 7950s. XFX have prepared four models ready for todays launch.

The first is XFX’s entry level model the Radeon HD 7950 Core Edition graphics card. Featuring reference clock speeds of 800MHz on the core and a single fan XFX designed and branded cooler. This card will be coming to the market for about £375 in the UK. You can view the first card below.

The second offering from XFX is the Radeon HD 7950 Double Dissipation graphics card. This like the Core Edition features a reference clock speed of 800MHz except this time with a dual fan XFX designed and branded cooler. This card will be coming the UK market for a price of about £390. Image below.

Thirdly from XFX is the Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition graphics card. Being a black edition card features a 900MHz core clock speed which is 100MHz faster than Core Edition card. This card features a single fan XFX designed and branded cooler. The RRP on this card will be about £392. Image below.

Finally, the best XFX currently has to offer for the HD 7950 GPU is the Double Dissipation Black Edition HD 7950. It features the same overclock as the above card coming in with a 900MHz factory overclock. This card packs the dual fan XFX branded and designed cooler. This consequently also yields the highest price tag coming in at £420. Image below.

You can read the full written review of the XFX 3GB HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation here.

You can find a video review of the XFX 3GB HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation card here.

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Review

With the release of the 7970 now passed and the cards making their way out into the big wide world, now is time for AMDs partners to release the slightly toned down version of their jaw dropping card. When we took a look at the 7970 reference card, we was astounded by the power that had been laid in front of us in the form of a single GPU format. The card took all of our test methodology in its stride and barely showed strain at any point – and this was purely a reference card before any of the partners were able to get their labs on the case and tweek them to their own recipes.

The 7950 is built around the same ‘Tahiti’ core as the 7970 but mainly its clocks speeds will be lower at stock. With the 7950 now though the workshops of AMDs partners, now we can really get a feel of what this card can do.  XFX have made the push and have made it first to the eTeknix test bench, but with no standard card by far. What we have here to play with is their 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3Gb card.

The 7950 as one would guess is at the more eco and budget friendly end of the spectrum in comparison to the 7970 and the 7990 when it comes to launch, so is there a huge compromise to be made by saving money or is it still going to thrash the pants off the 6950 and even dare I say it the GTX 580 as well? Well rumour has it that with the right tweeks, the 7950 will easily overclock to and perform at 7970 levels. So would this card be a timely investment or should we still look at the 7970 for its pure processing power?

XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Video Review

With AMD releasing the Radeon HD 7950 today, we all knew that things would go a bit differently from when the 7970 launched back in December. The 7970 saw a reference launch with partners bringing out refreshed cards later down the line. The 7950 however was destined to see specialist models being released at launch including custom coolers and overclocked editions.

Today we take a look at the XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB graphics card which offers up a double dissipation cooler which XFX are famous for, as well as being overclocked past its stock speeds and being included in the Black Edition range of products.

Black Edition allows the components to be of the very best quality including a hand-picked custom GPU that is known to surpass certain limits in terms of overclocking.

Whilst this video review offers more of an aesethicc look at the card, we have all of the benchmarks in our full written review which offers a more technical look at things, and in a bit more detail. The video review gives a further look into the styling and design behind the card with our personal opinion on the card from a first glance.


Drawings of the Swiftech Komodo 7970 emerge

The HD 7970 has been out for exactly 40 days now and Swiftech is already finishing its production of a HD 7970 full coverage water block. The block being a ‘full-coverage’ design covers the entire PCB on both sides of the card meaning all the VRMs, memory chips and the GPU chip itself are all directly cooled. The block is called the Komodo HD 7970 (much like Swiftech had previously released a Komodo HD 5870 and Komodo HD 6900) and takes up only a single PCI slot in width meaning you can easily run quad crossfire without any kind of space issues or airflow problems. It includes a single slot PCI bracket as most HD 7970s will come with a double bracket as standard.

The water block takes on a dark black design and even the fittings where the tubes get inserted are lucky enough to get a coat of black. The primary of materials of the design are a nickel-plater copper alloy for heat conduction and scratch resistance. According to Swiftech the block that covers the GPU chip has a o.25 by 0.25 Micro Pin matrix which apparently maximises heat dissipation to the coolant by increasing surface area. Swiftech have also made sure that the VRM has its own coolant chamber to ensure it recieves direct flow over it and is actively cooled. An illuminated red Swiftech logo is found on the water block bridge. The included backplate, which you wouldn’t normally get with a HD 7970, is made from brushed and anodised black aluminium. Swiftech has not announced any pricing or availability information just yet but we anticipate the product should arrive within a month or so and given the fact the HD 6900 variant of the Komodo cost $140 we expect this to be slightly cheaper as the HD 7900 series cards are slightly smaller.

Source: XtremeSystems Forums

New Spider Man Game looks very Mirrors Edge-y

Activision has released a new screenshot for The Amazing Spider-Man and we can’t help but see a little Mirror’s Edge in there.

The single screenshot has Spidey perched atop a building, looking down on the clean, gleaming city below. The shimmering glass, unembellished buildings and blue hues are strikingly similar to the utopian city depicted in EA’s Mirror’s Edge. We like what we’re seeing so far.

The Amazing Spider-Man is being developed by Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions studio Beenox and will serve as as an epilogue story occurring after the events of the upcoming movie. From the looks of it Beenox will be breaking out of the narrow hallways of its last two titles and letting players web-sling around Manhattan.

In the initial reveal Activision confirmed Seamus Kevin Fahey, who has penned episodes of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, will be writing the the game’s story.

Source: CVG

No New Xbox in 2012 Confirmed


A Microsoft exec has seemingly confirmed the firm will not be releasing a new Xbox console in 2012.

Speaking to, Cedrick Delmas, marketing director of Microsoft France, was presented with recent rumors that have suggested the platform holder is on the cusp of revealing its next-generation of hardware.

Delmas responded by stating that he’s “not convinced that things are happening this year” and said he feels that the “cycle of the Xbox 360 is by no means complete,” citing the lack of an Xbox 360 price cut as evidence that Microsoft isn’t ready to move on yet.

“After that, it will happen at E3, it is still premature. What is certain is that there will be nothing new in 2012,” he added.

Delmas went on to discuss Microsoft’s position in relation to Nintendo, which is set to re-reveal the Wii U at E3 this year and go on to be on shelves and in homes by December.

“We are not here to deal with Nintendo and they are not there to fight against other manufacturers. Nintendo has placed itself in a different cycle, they advance at their own pace, successfully as we have seen with the Wii, and now it is their turn to present their innovation,” said Delmas.

Despite the fact that the marketing man has said Microsoft’s next console won’t be out this year it is believed the hardware will make an appearance at this year’s E3.

Early reports have suggested the machine will support Blu-ray and use a Radeon 6000 card that boasts ‘six times’ the power of the Xbox 360.

Source: CVG

eTeknix Test Machines Get A Kingston HyperX SSD Upgrade

Here at the eTeknix headquarters, we try to stay as current as possible in terms of the machines used to test components.

The only thing that has really been holding us back as of late was our SSDs which were being run by a single 128GB Kingston V+ 100 SSD.

Not only was the speed and performance a problem, but the capacity was restricting us too, especially when it came to installing intensive benchmark software that can sometimes be almost 20GB per application.

Our good friends at Kingston have now graced us with FIVE Kingston HyperX 240GB SSDs for use in testing, so expect these to be installed in our test machines VERY soon.


Lenovo to introduce IdeaPad Y470p notebook

Lenovo are constantly introducing new models to their product lines. The IdeaPad line is one of their better known ranges of notebooks. The IdeaPad Y470p is the latest addition to that series. It boats impressive specifications for such a compact unit:

  • Intel Core i7 2670QM @2.2GHz
  • AMD Radeon HD 7690 1GB
  • 8GB DDR3 1333MHz SODIMM
  • 750GB 5400RPM 2.5″ hard drive
  • 14″ 1366 by 768 screen
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64
  • 6 Cell Battery

The IdeaPad Y470p is backed by Lenovo’s 1 year warranty and currently you can pick the device up for $799 from their shop. 

Source: Lenovo

US government undermines Rambus patent claims

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has declared that Rambus’ last three patent claims are totally invalid and that it must drop its legal proceedings. The three patents are related to memory chip design, and are among the most valuable patents held by Rambus. The first two patent cases were reportedly aside back in September 2011 and the third one was invalidated just four days ago on January the 26th.

The Barth patents have been used by Rambus to sue a long list of companies in the PC industry, including NVIDIA and AMD. It has been used to extract millions of dollars in licensing fees from the likes of the already cash-strapped AMD, through settlements. NVIDIA’s patience seems to have paid off. Rambus can appeal the latest decision from the PTO. “We’re evaluating our options,” said company spokeswoman Linda Ashmore.

It remains to be seen whether Rambus will continue to pursue the case but it does seem highly likely given how much it is worth to them. This story just goes to show patent trolling is wrong, karma will come in the end, Apple would be wise to heed the warning.

Source: Reuters

‘MegaTrash’ 50 million users to have their data binned

According to RT News the data of over 50 million Megaupload users will be deleted as early as Thursday should the Federal investigators leading the case get their wishes. Currently, the site is blocked and no one can access it on the public internet.

A Friday letter from prosecutors gives data-storage companies Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc. the go-ahead to begin destroying user files on Thursday, though neither company has commented on the process.

Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken claims they are trying to save the massive data-trail from deletion and that the US government has frozen company funds.

In addition to that seven people have already been arrested in connection with the Megaupload piracy bonanza. Its owner and founder Kim Schmitz is also awaiting extradition to the USA from New Zealand on massive copy right charges. It has also been reported that all his ‘partners-in-crime’ have been arrested too and this whole case looks set to throw a lot of people in jail.

Source: RT

Edimax WD-1000TR Wireless WHDI Caster Review

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With the current trend of home users having large flat screen TVs mounted on their walls, or even having a ceiling mounted projector for that matter, most people start to find that a mass of cables coming down to their DVD players, games consoles & media centres etc is very unsightly. Edimax have created a solution to this problem with the WHDI caster, which removes the need to have an HDMI cable (or two) running up and down the wall.

The WD1000-TR is a very simple yet effective solution to this unassumingly simple problem, by having a transmitter that connects to the source and a receiver that can be mounted near to the TV or up next to a projector, eliminating the need for those unwanted cables. The WD1000-TR supports full HD resolutions as well as AC-3 & DTS audio streaming, and also boasts a less than 1ms latency for those gamers that would otherwise worry about any lag during play.

The WHDI Caster comes in a dark teal coloured box and on the front lists a brief run down of what its function is.  Along the bottom, there is a highlight of devices that are supported, including games consoles, media players and projectors. 

The back of the box shows us how the caster would be installed on both the transmitter and receiver ends. Below this is indicated which type of mains plug is included for use in different countries.

Paperwork wise, there is a multi language quick installation guide for setting up the system and this also comes on a CD with the user manual.

Alongside the transmitter and receiver, there are two power adaptors; one with mini USB and one with a DC jack, a small ~6″ HMDI cable, a longer length HDMI cable and a USB Y-cable for powering the transmitter directly off USB instead of the mains.

The transmitter is the smaller of the two parts that come in the box.  This part is a simple plug and play half with no further setup required once connected (except for your desktop settings if using a computer).  On the top is a power button which lights up blue when on and red in standby.

On the rear of the transmitter is an HDMI port for connecting the source device to and also a mini-USB for power, either by the mains plug or the included USB Y-cable.

[/wpcol_1half][wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]The receiver unit is far larger in length and width to the transmitter, but this does contain more inside including the antenna and the graphics card to reproduce the image on screen.  On the front are two buttons, one being the power and the other for bringing up the OSD with a quick press or for changing the channel (long press) if there is interference from other nearby devices.

On the rear of the receiver is an HDMI port, DC power jack and a mini-USB service port although this has no use to the end user.

On the rear of the receiver are two screw holes for mounting to a wall.  This would be most beneficial where the receiving source is a wall mounted TV or a projector mounted on the ceiling.

Setup is a simple as connecting the transmitter to the source device (in our case a laptop for testing) and then connecting the other half to a TV or projector. As soon as the power is on, the receiver automatically searches for and locks onto the WHDI signal and that is it!  No further setup is required.  The only intervention that may be required on the receiver end is changing the receiving channel in the event that another device in the vicinity of the receiver is operating on the sane 5Ghz band is therefore potentially interfering with the signal.  This would be noticed with either loss of sound or distortion in the image that is reproduced. There are not many tests as such than can be done with a device of this type, but to check how well things worked, I streamed an array of content from a colour enriched HD movie (in this case Toy Story 3) to a fast moving film, then playing Rock Band 3 (for any latency and decoding delay) and finally by streaming audio content across to look for any loss in audio quality.

Throughout all the testing it was hard to notice that the source was not directly connected to the TV at all, even by placing the transmitter further away to take into account different situations of setup showed no real difference.  During game play where the milliseconds of latency can make a difference – especially in Rock Band – there was little to no difference in the experience had.  To double check this, I re-calibrated my guitar with the TV a number of times with both the caster connected and without and the average difference between the two was a mere 2 milliseconds, oh so close to the <1ms latency that the WD1000-TR claims to offer.

The WHDI Caster worked very well upto its specified range of 10m after which the receiver was unable to locate a signal to lock onto.  I did also note that having the transmitter in a neighbouring room did affect the signal, however in a real world scenario, the system is going to be setup in a way that this would not be an issue to most users.

So all in all, why would you want one of these devices? Surely its far easier to run a cable from point to point?  Well in a nut shell yes it is, however, there are the situations where you don’t want to be running loads of cables up your wall to the TV and in an corporate environment for example its not necessarily practical to keep reaching up to a ceiling mounted projector to connect a laptop or other media device.

The Edimax WD-100TR is available for £111.56 which may seem a lot to some of us, but what we have to consider is that the other options that are available on the market vary from £100 right up to the £450 mark. For this reason we can safely say that the Edimax WD1000-TR is priced very competitively and its performance for this price in comparison to the competition is outstanding.


Another HD 7950 pictured, from Sapphire

You may have already heard that AMD will be releasing two PCB (Printed Circuit Board) designs for their HD 7900 series graphics card. One aimed at maximum performance and one aimed at maximum value for money. Well this new card that has been pictured from Sapphire features the latter. It features a small single fan heat sink cooling solution over its HD 7950 chip. According to various sources AMD have set Factory-Overclock limits, maximum frequencies board partners like Sapphire are allowed to apply to the cards they sell, on this value-orientated PCB. Those limits are 900MHz core and 5000MHz (effective) memory. However, the model is likely to come in clocked at reference speeds of 800MHz core and 5000MHz memory.

That said, the ‘Factory-Overclock’ limits are reportedly not built into the BIOS, merely into the regulations of what AMD’s AIB (Add In Board) partners are allowed to sell. So home users will be allowed to take a card and overclock it past those 900MHz/5000MHz limits, providing the chip is capable of course.  No words on final pricing yet, we estimate something in the region of £320-£350.

Sources: OBR-HardwareExpreview

ABIT website to go offline next month

The IP35 Pro XE ABIT motherboard.

ABIT was a well respected motherboard vendor that quite literally disappeared off the market rather rapidly back in March 2009. ABIT had been a well known vendor of high performance motherboards up until that point. The company decided it would stay on for a while longer to respect its past consumers and continue to provide them with warranty services, drivers and tech support. However, an announcement on its website reads as follows:

Remind[er] : The website will stop providing service on 28st of February, 2012.

So it would appear there is just under a month for any existing ABIT customers to resolve any issues and download any required back ups of drivers, BIOS or manuals. The 3 year warranty offered on all their products has now been served and ABIT will now shut its doors for the last time.

You can find their website here.

Akasa Venom Toxic Full Tower Chassis Review

Perhaps Akasa are a brand better known for their aggressively priced CPU coolers and enthusiast level peripherals, but as some of you may know they have also diversified into the case market in recent years. It has been a while since Akasa last released a full tower chassis but they aim to mark their return with a bang in the form of the Venom Toxic.

The Venom Toxic is a full tower chassis which, thanks largely to its huge dimensions, supports a wide variety of components including the gargantuan E-ATX and XL-ATX motherboard form factors. Motherboard support isn’t the only weapon in the Venom Toxic’s arsenal though. 6 external, tool-less 5.25″ bays, 1 of which can be converted into an external 3.5″ bay, and 6 internal 3.5/2.5″ HDD/SSD bays ensure that even the most avid computing enthusiast’s storage requirements will be tended to. Enthusiast grade quality is again shown in the form of 10 tool-less PCI slots and an abundance of cable management grommets, ensuring a clean system even when all 10 expansion slots are populated.

Akasa supply the Venom Toxic with a pair of 230mm fans, one of which features a white LED design, and a single 140mm fan from their award-winning Viper series. If the out-of-the-box cooling configuration isn’t enough, the Venom Toxic’s mesh side panel can accommodate an extra quartet of 120mm fans or a single 230mm variant in addition to the possibility of a 120/140mm bottom mounted fan. Water cooling is a clear option with the masses of space available internally to install a 240mm and multiple 120/140mm radiator without any modifications. Not to see their extreme cooling potential undone, Akasa’s full tower chassis allows users the flexibility of installing the largest CPU coolers and most high end graphics cards on the market with a whopping 185mm and 330mm of clearance, respectively.

The inclusion of a 20W per channel (40W combined), dual-channel fan controller is yet another useful feature which can help save an end user money and expansion slots. USB 3.0, eSATA and the standard USB 2.0 front panel connections are a combination that will most certainly be viewed as acceptable by the majority of the enthusiast market.

With an eye-catching design and street price of around £96/€125Akasa’s Venom Toxic looks as though it offers a large amount of bang for your hard earned buck, but is this actually the case (pun intended)?