Razer SW:TOR Edition Gaming Mouse Pad Review

Razer are a renowned mainstream gaming peripherals company, who’s products we have seen before at eTeknix. They deliver top quality, feature packed peripherals that are used across the globe. Their strapline “For Gamers, by Gamers” is true to their philosophy, so much so, that when advertising jobs, Razer have the criteria “Must be a winner” and be a “true gamer” in their job advertisements. They cover numerous categories: keyboards, mice, headsets, laptops and mouse pads, with the latter what we have in today.

Mouse pads are essential for today’s gamers. Having the right surface not only improves performance, but also increases comfort levels. There are two main types of mouse pads; cloth, which are normally fabric covered foam and hard, which are normally plastic covered surfaces that are rigid in nature. The former cloth mouse pads, tend to be more comfortable to use, but don’t have as smooth a surface as hard pads (not to mention not as waterproof/resistant). Hard mouse pads, tend to be the smoothest, but since they are made from a solid material, they are more uncomfortable. Today we have the Razer SW:TOR Edition mouse pad, a hard pad, specially designed for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG.

Lets see what Razer have to say about it:

  • Dual-sided Mousemat – Show your allegiance and display the faction side of choice
  • Non-slip, Anti-reflective, Abrasion-resistant hard coating – For added durability, increased accuracy and tracking performance
  • Performance-grade hard surfaces – Designed for smoother mouse swiping and gliding performance
  • Approximate size – 316mm/12.4” x 219mm/8.62” x 5mm/0.2”
  • Approximate weight – 318g/0.70lb
  • Non-slip rubber base and metal frame – Provides increased stability for intensive gaming

Take the jump to see what SW:TOR edition mouse pad looks like.

ZOWIE GEAR Hammer Gaming Headset Review

ZOWIE GEAR has been manufacturing competitive gaming gear since 2008, with the mission of developing the best competitive gaming gear available on the market, which in its self is a tall order given that there is already so much fierce competition in this market, with a huge range of manufacturers already producing similar headsets, keyboards, mice, gaming surfaces and more across the entire spectrum of budgets imaginable.  Zowie seem to be attempting to be the best at what they do while keeping all their products within a reasonable price range and making no compromise on build quality, so I have high hopes and expectations of how this set will perform, not only in a gaming environment but as a product overall.

Today I’m looking at the Zowie Hammer gaming headset, the Hammer is specially designed with e-sports in mind, aiming to cater for pro-gamers, people who love to play competitive gaming online and even just regular bods like my self who like to talk rubbish with their friends while mucking about on Battlefield.

In their own words “we are not limited by shareholders telling us what we can or cannot do. We are a free-minded company consisting of experienced and creative individuals, united in ZOWIE on a common ground; our passion for gaming. No boundaries. No compromises. Just gaming.”

“ZOWIE GEAR has no ambition to become the biggest manufacturer of competitive gaming gear. We just want to be the best. If we can develop products that will increase a gamers performance by just 1%, we will do it. This is our mentality.  It’s not just a game.  This is ZOWIE GEAR. Strive for Perfection.”

If you want to find out how the Hammer does then come read the next few pages where I’ll put this headset to the test and see just how well it holds up to ZOWIE GEARs self-imposed high standards.

Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 showing up on pre-orders

Intel’s Ivy Bridge has been out since late April now but we’ve still only seen Core i5 and Core i7 quad core variants. Now Intel is finally getting around to releasing the Core i3 processors built from the Ivy Bridge architecture. There will be 5 Ivy Bridge based Core i3 processors in the first wave of launches from Intel, more could be released later on.

The processors up on pre-order are the Core i3-3240 and Core i3-3220. The Core i3-3240 is clocked at 3.40 GHz, while the i3-3220 runs at 3.30 GHz. The two are socket LGA1155 dual-core processors featuring 3 MB of L3 cache. When launched, the i3-3240 will sell for around US $147, while the i3-3220 will sell for US $125.

Pre-order listings for these have been found in the Ukraine as shown hereOther reports also show that Core i3 pre-orders have popped up in Israel, Malaysia, Germany and China as well as the Ukraine. With so many countries listing pre-order availability expect that the launch for Ivy Bridge core i3 processors is just a few weeks away at the most.


AMD’s Vishera and Hondo to get public preview in 2 weeks

AMD’s Vishera and Trinity line up.

Like it does every year, AMD is going to be showing off some of its latest innovations around the same time as Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) event. This will be in an effort to try and divert some of the journalists and media publications away from Intel towards AMD.

What are they going to be showing off? Well Vishera and Hondo are apparently on the menu. Vishera is Bulldozer’s successor, boasting better power efficiency, higher clock speeds and hopefully better performance at a clock per clock level.

Hondo is AMD’s special low power part, consuming just 4.5W peak TDP and 2W average. We don’t really know any specifications about this part but it will be very interesting indeed.

AMD will also show us some more of Trinity, but since Trinity has already been released and reviewed to the OEM market they probably won’t be able to show us anything we don’t already know. Trinity for consumers is expected in October.

Stay tuned with eTeknix and we’ll make sure we bring you all the latest news from AMD’s event and the Intel Developer Forum over the coming few weeks.


HTC not afraid to fight Apple

In the wake of Apple’s recent victory against Samsung in their patent dispute HTC has stated it is not afraid of fighting Apple in court should the smartphone giant decide to continue to pursue any claims against HTC.

HTC’s chairperson said that the company has no intention of settling with Apple, according to Asia-based reports.

The report appeared in Wednesday’s Digitimes and other Asia-based publications, which cite comments from Cher Wang, chairperson of HTC.
HTC “has great skills in innovation and has the confidence to face legal lawsuits with Apple,” the Digitimes report says, attributing those comments to Wang.

She also stated that the loss of Samsung in the Apple case doesn’t mean the Android smartphone ecosystem is under threat in any way.

HTC has been involved in a legal battle with Apple since March 2010. Apple sued HTC over iPhone patents, and the ITC (international trade commission) ruled in Apple’s favour – no surprises there.

HTC has been suing Apple, as well so its not like companies aren’t fighting back – it just seems technophobic judges and juries don’t have a clue about what is copying and what isn’t when it comes to smartphones and tablets.

Three new product launches from HTC are planned in the coming weeks so watch this space – Apple sales ban requests incoming.


Kim Dotcom granted legal expenses of NZ $6 million

Finally after months of battling, Kim Dotcom – founder of Megaupload – has been granted NZ$6 million of his own assets to use for legal expenses. The money which is equivalent to $4.86 million is in addition to the NZ$750,000 he was granted previously for living expenses.

Kim Dotcom has already acquired NZ$2.6 million in legal expenses since the trials begun, and his legal staff have been working unpaid up until now.

The money is being secured against a NZ$10 million government bond Dotcom owns. The Internet tycoon is also being allowed to sell some of his luxury vehicles although money from the rides will be withheld until a court decides how those funds can be used.

His car collection was initially seized as part of the US government initiated raid. He is being permitted to sell nine vehicles from the collection: a Rolls-Royce Coupe, two Mini Coopers, a Toyota Hilux and five AMG class Mercedes Benz luxury cars.

The American government is still attempting to have Kim Dotcom extradited to the USA where he’ll probably stand (unfair) trial for a set of allegations fabricated by the bitter American media industry.

American officials say that he was using Megaupload to actively distribute copyrighted materials illegally, even though Megaupload responded to copyright removal requests and are technically protected by the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that states company’s cannot be held responsible for the actions of their consumers but must respond to copyright removal requests when asked to, which Megaupload did.

The extradition trial will arrive next year in March.



Lexmark quit inkjet printer business

We recently heard about Sony exiting the PC Optical Drive market but shutting down Optiarc. Now we’ve learned Lexmark will be doing something similar with their Inkjet printer business.

As part of the $160 million restructuring program Lexmark will lay off 1, 700 employees and shut down the Lexmark inkjet business. The move will save Lexmark $85 million but the company says it will continue to offer support, supplies and warranty services to existing customers until all warranty periods expire.

Lexmark will now focus on enterprise printer products such as multifunction printers, managed print services and content management. These are considered to be higher-margin lines whereas inkjet printers represent a lower margin. Sales of inkjet supplies can bring in extra revenue but it’s not enough to be sustainable especially with the high level of competition that there is.

In also marks the decline of home printing with the digitalising of photography and photo or image sharing.

This news will probably mean any existing Lexmark printers will have prices slashed in order to shift stock quickly, so if you’re out for a printer bargain now is probably the time to search. Don’t neglect the ink though, its possible ink prices could soar as production slows so it could be a good idea to stock up on that too.

Lexmark shares have risen with the news that it will dump the Inkjet business.


Samsung introduce some of the first Windows 8 tablets

Ever since Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablets there has been much speculation about pricing and whether Microsoft OEM partners would bother making their own Windows 8 tablets. Well a handful of Windows 8 tablets were announced today and yesterday so clearly they are coming but we still don’t know much about the Microsoft Surface.

Samsung is one of the first Microsoft OEMs to come to market with a Windows 8 tablet. All of them will feature Windows 8, not Windows 8 RT, this is due to the fact they all run Intel processors not ARM processors. They equip either Intel Atoms or Core i3 and i5 mobile Ivy Bridge Ultra Low Voltage chips. Naturally the Atom based device is the cheapest while the i5 based device is the most costly.

Only the most expensive model gets 1080p Full HD whilst all the other models are left to languish in 1366 by 768 mediocrity. Only the Atom processors features 2GB of RAM as thats all Atom can support, the other devices all feature 4GBs – plenty for a tablet device.

As expected all these Samsung Windows 8 tablets will be made available from October the 26th, when Windows 8 launches.

Pricing starts at $649. Check the specifications below for more details:


Cooler Master Silencio 650 Mid Tower PC Chassis Review

Today I am taking a look at the Silencio 650 Mid Tower from Cooler Master, a company who have over ten years experience in the computer industry providing us with a stunning range of cooling components and chassis and even supporting the industrial industry and high end business solutions with there products.

“Cooler Master was founded with the mission of providing the industry’s best thermal solutions. Since its establishment a decade ago, the company has remained faithful to this mission, emerging as a world leader in products and services for companies dealing with devices where heat issues must be resolved.” coolermaster.co.uk

I expect many of their cooling solutions knowledge will have been put to good use in the design of this chassis, but the Silencio isn’t all about cooling, although the clue to that is hidden in its name “Silencio” which is the Spanish word for silence. As Cooler Master them selves put it, “[the] Silencio 650 is an extremely silent mid-tower based on an elegant and classy design.” so today I will be taking a look if cooler master has delivered on their promise of silent performance as well as their own name in terms of cooling capability in this chassis.

Come and take a look at the next few pages where we will take a closer look at just the is on offer in this premium chassis from Cooler Master, and with a price tag of around £120 I’m expecting great things from the Silencio.

OnLive founder was source of company’s problems

Recently it emerged that OnLive had been taken over by another company and shed possibly 50 to 90% of its workforce. The latest rumour from the rumour mill suggests that OnLive founder and former Chief Executive Officer Steve Perlman caused the financial difficulties at OnLive and created a number of issues that simply didn’t need to exist.

Sources from OnLive stated that the rivalry OnLive developed with Gaikai, which Perlman took as a personal matter, meant that relations with many publishers became more difficult than they should have been.

Apparently, Perlman yelled at David Perry, the founder of Gaikai, during the 2009 edition of the Game Developers Conference and had a strong reaction to the deal that the rival company made with Electronic Arts in 2010. After not receiving EA exclusivity Perlman ordered that all EA games be pulled immediately from OnLive.

Perlman also created a rule that any game which appeared on Gaikai was banned from appearing on OnLive, including hits like The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and Bulleststorm. Perlman also managed to ruin a deal with Ubisoft after giving them an ultimatum about working with Gaikai which they refused.

Gaikai was recently bought by Sony for $384 million and it seems that the company has long term plans to use the streaming service in order to offer an OnLive alternative among other things.

Since OnLive was sold to Lauder Partners (the new owner) for just $4 million, Steve Perlman has been released from the company and the company has hired back a small number of staff. However, the company still has much work to do to get more than just 1600 paying customers and get their OnLive vision to actually take off because cloud computing is the future – apparently.

Read more of a very interesting report at the source.


Time to disable Java on your browser as lethal security exploit is found

Hackers have found a significant hole in the Java software. This hole, allows hackers to break into Oracle’s Java software and install malware or viruses as they please. The attack was first spotted on Sunday by a security firm called “FirmEye”. The threat is dubbed a “Zero-Day” threat because it has never been discovered before and no fix is available currently.

The loophole appears to affect Java Version 7 (also known as 1.7) on all browsers. Both Windows PC users and Mac users are vulnerable to this new exploit.Everyone should be concerned as the new Java exploit was added to the internet’s most popular hacking toolkit known as BlackHole.

The solution is simple. Disable Java in your browser now, it simply is not worth the risk. Websites barely use Java anymore and Java’s parent company Oracle have a useless track record when it comes to fixing exploits quickly. We probably won’t see a patch for months (October is rumoured) and in the meantime we are all left vulnerable to thousands of malicious hackers.

“Java has been the most exploited program for well over a year now and it simply isn’t worth the risk,” Chet Wisniewski of the security firm Sophos told me in an email. “I would recommend removing Java entirely, if you can.”

Here’s how to remove Java from some popular browsers:

  • In Firefox, select “Tools” from the main menu, then “Add-ons,” then click the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins.
  • In Safari, click “Safari” in the main menu bar, then “Preferences,” then select the “Security” tab and uncheck the button next to “Enable Java.”
  • In Google Chrome, type “Chrome://Plugins” in your browser’s address bar, then click the “Disable” button below any Java plug-ins.

We’ve never been a site to try and tell people what to do, but this is a very important issue – disable Java now or face the potential consequences of not doing so.


Ivy Bridge-E supports PCI-E 3.0

When Sandy Bridge-E first arrived support for PCI Express Generation 3 was not certified or listed. Nvidia later released a patch to allow X79 systems to support PCI Express 3.0 as they were hardware ready. It also didn’t help that Sandy Bridge-E turned up largely well before the first PCI Express 3.0 graphics cards arrived.

Ivy Bridge-E is expected for Q3 of 2013, about a year from now. The Ivy Bridge-E platform is immediately ready for PCI Express 3.0 unlike Sandy Bridge-E which required some tweaking first. Obviously, you would of expected PCI Express 3.0 support as Ivy Bridge had it too and these are just enlarged Ivy Bridge processors with more cores (to try and explain it as simply as possible).

With support for 40 lane PCI Express 3.0 on the new Ivy Bridge-E processors that gives 8X/8X/8X/8X PCI Express 3.0 support out of the box without the need for any PLX PCI Express 3.0 bridge chips that add latency to the system. The new Ivy Bridge-E processors also pack native memory controllers capable of quad channel 1866MHz memory.

Intel certainly isn’t rushing development of its high performance platform – probably due to a lack of competition from AMD. The rumoured i7 3970X is taking an absolute age to come to market too.


AMD’s 4.5W Hondo processor nearly ready

With the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) event about to kick off soon, processors are again the talk of the industry. The “Hondo” codenamed processor is on AMD’s official roadmap but hasn’t been seen since an official AMD presentation took place way back in February.

What makes Hondo so impressive is the fact it will offer up two cores and integrated Radeon graphics with a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of just 4.5W maximum and 2W average. It is reported that Hondo is perfectly capable of running Windows 8 and the idea is that it will provide a low power and low cost competition alternative other Windows RT devices and low power Intel systems.

Hondo is the first generation of ultra-low power APU based on the 40nm construction process expected to launch in Q4 this year. Its anticipated that when the Hondo replacement comes, it will utilise the 28nm process and offer much more performance within the same or a smaller thermal design power envelope. Tamesh is the codename of Hondo’s replacement and it is expected next year, probably towards the end.

I hope that AMD’s Hondo processor will be available to consumers too as it’d make the great basis for a home downloads server or media PC that doesn’t hit the electricity bills hard. At 4.5W of peak power consumption Hondo is more eco-friendly than most light bulbs.


Intel Haswell Z87 chipset detailed

We know already that providing there are no delays or unforeseen circumstances we should be seeing Intel’s Haswell LGA 1150 platform in Q2 of 2013. The Ivy Bridge successor platform could arrive any time between March and June.

Cometh a new platform, cometh a new chipset. The Z87 chipset is the obvious name here, as the performance chipsets have been going up in increments of 10 since P67, Z77 and now Z87.

Although the Intel Developers Forum event is just 2 weeks away, where Intel is expected to announce many more details about Z87, information from other sources has emerged already.

Z87 will come with integrated voltage regulators, USB 3.0, SATA III and PCIe 3.0 support. All Z87 motherboards will have triple display capabilities through HDMI, DVI, DP, eDP and VGA connectors thanks to the vastly improved Haswell integrated graphics.

Another nice addition is TRIM support in RAID 0 storage configurations along with Rapid Storage Technology 12 and RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 capabilities.


AMD’s Bobcat low power successor “Jaguar” detailed

AMD’s Bobcat was developed to compete with Intel’s low power Atom solution. Bobcat spawned Brazos and currently Brazos 2.0 is far superior to anything Intel’s Atom can offer right now. Intel is planning to give the Atom’s a boost by adding two extra cores, shrinking to 22nm and dramatically improving graphics performance 400 to 700%.

AMD will hit back before Intel can do that with Jaguar, the Bobcat successor.

“AMD has added a lot of new SIMD capabilities and lots of new instruction sets to its new design and an overhaul of the floating point unit (FPU) was clearly needed. Jaguar now comes with most – if not all – of Bobcat’s abilities, but it also adds complete architectural computational support for SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, CLMUL, MOVBE, AVX, XSAVE, XSAVEOPT, FC16, and BMI instructions. Since most SIMD instructions are 128-bit wide – if not wider, AMD decided to double the width of its FPU pipelines from 64-bit to 128-bit. SSE instructions required two passes on the Bobcat, but they now can be handled in one single pass, and this is no small feat.”

Even with all those positives its still worth noting that AVX support is slightly lacking on the new Jaguar processors. AVX needs 256 bit FPU pipelines which it won’t have to perform best, but AVX is currently emerging and will become more important in the future – by then we expect AMD to have adapted for this anyway.


Discrete graphics shipments down 7% over last year

The most recent general graphics market share report showed increasing dominance from Intel, reflecting a decline in discrete graphics shipments as people stick with lower cost Intel HD graphics. Now the discrete graphics report for Quarter 2 of 2012 has come out confirming that assumption.

The reports considers GPUs used in desktop PCs, workstations and servers. This includes both factory installed or sold separately parts.

AMD and Nvidia still dominate the market with 99.6% of the share between them. Nvidia dominated Q2 of 2012 but its share had fallen from 61.9% in Q1 to 59.3% in Q2. AMD clawed some market share back going from 37.8% to 40.3% between Q1 and Q2. The year-on-year figures still show Nvidia as increasing market share even if it lost a bit of ground in Q2.

As to the overall state of the market. Quarter on Quarter figures between Q1 and Q2 show a seasonal decline of 6.5%, which is normally expected to be 11.3% based on the long term average. Although, the year-on-year figures show that discrete graphics shipments are down 7% for the same period last year to 14.8 million.

Traditionally, sales pick up in Q3 but the firm didn’t venture to make any predictions, claiming this has been a very turbulent year and that the world-wide economic conditions are just too uncertain.


TSMC reject investment offers from Apple and Qualcomm

Both Apple and Qualcomm have been throwing money at TSMC recently to try and get production of their products to take priority. In return for investment offers in TSMC both Apple and Qualcomm were trying to cash in on some extra prioritised production but TSMC isn’t having any of it.

The pair of investment offers were both said to be worth a staggering $1 billion each but TSMC said it doesn’t need the investment and it certainly doesn’t want to start selling off shares of its company for cash it doesn’t need.

Apple and Qualcomm both want to give production a boost for the ever growing smartphone market currently valued at $219 billion.

Apple is looking for an alternate supplier to Samsung who is currently its largest provider of smartphone chips for its iPhone and iPad devices but also its biggest rival. Qualcomm are looking for more supplies, as shortages are starting to slow revenue.

TSMC have stated that even though they are happy to devote one or two factories to one client, they still want the flexibility of being able to switch production between clients and products when they see fit.

TSMC thinks there are too many risks associated which permanently dedicating a foundry to one particular product or client. Currently TSMC is Qualcomm’s largest supplier.



Apple filing for sales ban of 8 Samsung phones

The Samsung Galaxy S III – soon to be another victim of Apple?

After Apple’s landmark victory over Samsung in the US trade dispute, Apple is now looking to capitalise on this and ban as many Samsung products as possible for the American market.

The Galaxy S II and Droid Charge along with 6 other phones are all on Apple’s ban list. 28 devices were covered initially in the main legal battle between Apple and Samsung but most of these are not sold anymore.

The Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S III has escaped the ban for now. Although reports suggest the features and design elements that saw Samsung lose the main legal battle could lead to a separate case to ban the Galaxy S III on similar grounds.

Samsung will try and delay the ban by appealing the verdict of the main legal battle with Apple. With that bought time it can not only continue to sell existing stock but it can also modify the infringing parts of its devices to circumvent the sales ban.

Samsung is reportedly delaying new product releases as it gets experts in to check that they won’t fall victim to any patent trolling.

The key message here is: if you make smartphones – beware! Apple is coming for you. Irrespective of whether your phone looks like an Apple product or not.



Google developing its second generation of TV boxes

Google’s first attempt at creating a “TV-internet box” didn’t gain as much attention and success as it probably would of hoped for. However, Google is far from giving up on it. Its now decided to come back with a second generation of TV boxes at a cheaper price point of about $100.

So far Google already has partnerships with Vizio, Samsung, LG, Sony and Hisense for its “TV-internet boxes”. Both Hisense and Vizio are going to deliver $100 products, whilst the Samsung, LG and Sony versions will probably have a slightly higher price premium.

The second generation will bring an improved blending of broadcast TV and internet media experience which clearly wasn’t delivered the first time round. The Google TV box allows users to stream from places like Netflix and YouTube to an HDTV although Hulu remains unsupported still.

The long and short of it is, companies like Google, Vizio, Hisense, Samsung and the likes, are going to have to show the market why we should abandon our ambitions of HTPCs to get a “TV-Internet box” instead. Expect this concept to be the focus of most of the IFA event in Berlin.


ZOWIE EC2 eVo Gaming Mouse Review

ZOWIE pride themselves on being a company focused on bringing you the best gaming peripherals out there, while doing everything they can to make sure the design and looks are not compromised. While ZOWIE’s product range may be fairly limited, covering, mice, headsets, keyboards and mousepads, each product has been designed with a lot of input from expert and professional gamers making sure each one is up to a very high standard. We certainly hope this is the case with the ZOWIE EC2 eVo.

The ZOWIE EC2 eVo as compared to the EC1 is smaller in all dimensions. For comparison purposes here are the dimensions of the EC1: 128 x 43 x 62~70 mm and the same for the EC2: 120 x 40 x 58~65 mm . While you might say that 8x3x 4~5 mm is not much it will certainly affect how the mouse feels to use and it is certainly noticeable in the looks department.

Having the right gaming mouse is crucial if you are a professional gamer or just a gaming enthusiast, they need to be the right shape, the right weight, the right sensitivity. They need to offer the best performance possible to stand out from the other gaming mice on the market. has ZOWIE achieved this with their  EC2 mouse? There is only one way to find out, read on.

Gamings Finest Moments – Horror

Horror games have been a staple of gaming for longer than I remember, ok not all of them scary but the theme remains the same, the finest examples of horror games though shouldn’t be classed any different than a good horror movie, by which of course I mean ones that are actually scary to play and are capable of making you jump out of your seat, maybe not literally, but a really great horror game should at the very least have some sort of physical or psychological effect on you.

The best of these tend to lean more toward the survival horror genre, games where you feel at more of a disadvantage against your enemies, with death staring you in the face, or in this case, a return to your previous checkpoint, so let’s start by taking a look at some of my favourite horror games of the last few gaming generations.

Samsung Transparent displays due in September

The UD22B and NL22B transparent displays were quietly unveiled by Samsung back at InfoComm 2012 earlier this year. Now a few months on we have found out that they are due for retail release in September.

“The UD22B is a 1:1 ratio LED square display that includes 21.6-inches of real estate and an ultrathin 5.5mm bezel – perfect for business owners looking to create a public display in retail, commercial and public locations. The seamless installation means up to 100 panels can be linked together to produce a single image across all displays.

Samsung’s 22-inch NL22B is a cube-shaped device that contains a transparent front panel with a computer built into the chassis. The company describes this as an all-in-one showcase product that will launch a new era of possibilities in digital retail design.”

Its great to see the world’s display market pushing forward with new innovations. Since the first introduction of the LCD many years ago, we’ve had:

  • LED technology which has revolutionised display power consumption, brightness and color vibrancy
  • IPS displays allowing for near 175 degree viewing angles
  • flexible AMOLED displays opening up the possibility for interactive magazines, newspapers and books
  • OLED display technology
  • huge advances in 3D displaying technology

Now with the introduction of Transparent displays from Samsung its yet another fantastic innovation for consumers. The transparent display will initially be taken up by retailers as a means of advertising products better, but as companies start to figure it out properly we could see a whole range of consumer goods featuring the technology.



Intel ValleyView Atoms bring 700% better GPU performance

Intel’s Atom platform is languishing in mediocrity at the moment. AMD is currently competing (and outcompeting) them both on the CPU and GPU fronts at the same price points. AMD’s Brazos 2.0, which is actually just Brazos 1.0 with USB 3.0 and marginally higher clock speeds, was barely un upgrade because competition from Intel is so lacking.

AMD currently has 44% of the “low to mid range” CPU market because of its Llano and Brazos APUs. Intel had been otherwise too occupied with Atom for Smartphones, like Medfield, to worry about its Atom for desktops.

Now it appears Intel is turning the crank on this sector too. With the news that Haswell could drop dual core processors,comes the requirement that the Intel Atom platform will have to take the place of the “sub Haswell quad core” performance segment.

Intel’s next move is 22nm-based Intel Atoms, which would certainly outperform 40nm based AMD Brazos 2.0 chips. However, releasing these 22nm Atoms now would be pointless as there is still a mountain of work to complete on the integrated GPU, where Intel still trails AMD.

On the CPU side we are expecting dual and quad core Atoms off the 22nm process but the performance increase will only be typical generational improvements – so 10-15%. On the GPU side Intel has been making massive headway, the iGPU is touted to be 400 to 700% faster in 3D applications.

With the better 22nm CPU part and a 700% increase in the GPU to take it significantly ahead of Brazos’ 3D capabilities, expect Intel to walk all over AMD’s Brazos 2.0 offerings. However, AMD is 6 months ahead of Intel and they won’t be looking to sit around and wait to be overtaken in one of the few markets where they still possess an advantage over Intel. AMD’s successor to Brazos 2.0, the Jaguar APUs, feature GCN GPU architecture and they should be ready from next spring. Intel’s new Atoms should arrive in late 2013.


Intel Haswell Quad Cores start at $195/£145

Intel’s Haswell, the successor to Ivy Bridge, is hotly anticipated. The Haswell architecture will be the second instalment of the 22nm process, and is expected to arrive in March 2013 – well before Ivy Bridge-E.

As you’ve probably noticed, AMD has lost competitiveness with Intel. Thus you’d expect Intel might start to cash in on that and raise CPU prices even further. But according to our sources this is not the case, probably due to the fact Intel is competing with its own processors on pricing too.

The lowest end Haswell Quad Core part, the i5 3470 replacement, is rumoured to cost $184 in 1000 tray quantities (OEM price) and $195 for retail boxed versions. Meaning it takes more or less an identical price to current Ivy Bridge parts. These translate into UK prices of about £145.

Of course for the same price Haswell parts will be better performing and have better specifications plus probably lower power consumption.

Speculation also suggests Intel plans to drop dual cores in the desktop market. From Haswell forward, only Quad cores will be made. This would mean no LGA 1150 based Pentiums, Core i3s or Celerons. Instead Intel will push ahead with its Atom platform for low end computing and offer dual cores only in the mobile market, whilst probably continuing production of LGA 1155 Celeron, Pentium and Core i3 processors for as long as demand is there.

Expect to hear a lot more about Haswell as we get closer to the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) on September the 11th to the 13th.


ASUS Ares II “HD 7990 on Steroids” inbound

We’ve already seen the first HD 7990 from PowerColor. However, we’ve yet to hear or see anything from AMD and its other partners with regards to the HD 7990. Some have suggested PowerColor made a brave move in announcing the HD 7990 on their own, and possibly without AMD’s approval.

Anyway, the fact PowerColor have announced a HD 7990 means there will almost definitely be more to come from others. ASUS had previously denied speculation that they were working on a ARES II card, a dual GPU graphics card which is the AMD equivalent of the MARS III dual Nvidia GPU card. It will be based on dual HD 7970s, probably GHz Edition variants, and it could possibly pack 12GB of VRAM should ASUS decide to add 6GB of VRAM per GPU.

This ASUS ROG ARES II graphics card will be like a HD 7990 in the sense it has dual HD 7970 GPUs but expect the TDP, frequencies, performance and price to all be a fair bit higher.

So far though all we have is a picture of a new ARES-style cooler which is said to be the ARES II. Performance is rumoured to be better than the ASUS ROG Mars III graphics card (aka a GTX 690 on steroids) but we’ll leave that as just a rumour until we see legitimate performance figures from both cards.


Nvidia GTX 780 expected for March 2013

Semiconductor manufacturers have been having a hard time with the new 28nm, 22nm and 20nm processes according to industry sources. As a result we expect Nvidia’s GTX 780 to be delayed until March 2013.

If you were not aware originally Kepler was scheduled for a 2011 launch and Maxwell for 2013. Obviously, Kepler got a 2012 launch and Maxwell is now planned for 2014. The second implementation of Kepler arrives in 2013.

Kepler will remain a three GPU line-up: GK104 for performance, GK107 for mobile and entry-level desktop and the GK110 for high-end computational and visualization parts

Maxwell will be a 20nm part, but 20nm production, design and development are still in their early stages. Expect production of the 20nm samples to begin sometime late next year by GlobalFoundries, IBM, Samsung and TSMC.

The GTX 700 series will come by March 2013 at the earliest and will offer around 25-30% better performance and power efficiency as the 28nm process is refined. The legendary GK110 part that is speculated about so much is expected to remain in the non-consumer realm only – in the Tesla K20 and Quadro K6000 cards.

AMD’s Sea Islands aka HD 8000 will probably debut slightly earlier than Nvidia’s GTX 700 series but they will be having the same process yield problems as Nvidia.


G.Skill TridentX DDR3 2400MHz 8GB Memory Kit Review

G.Skill have really come leaps and bounds lately, by bringing out product ranges to cater for every market, including budget, enthusiast, gamers and of course the hardcore overclockers. They’ve done so by use of different capacities and of course different speeds.

With the addition of the new Z77 platform and Ivy Bridge processors, they have really been let loose to see what they can come up with in their labs as Ivy Bridge really opens up the floodgates for faster, more intensive memory, ranging from 2400MHz up to 3000MHz kits across the world.

Some of these particular kits have even been pushed passed the 3000MHz barrier under the influence of LN2 and some extreme overclocking.

This is where the TridentX product range comes in and today sees the 2400MHz 8GB dual-channel kit arriving with us to see what we are able to push it to, bearing in mind that a 2666MHz kit is also available, but is still in very short supply.

We’ve decided to change our layout slightly for memory reviews from our typical dual column magazine style layout, and this particular kit is the first to experience the new layout that you generally see on our motherboard and graphics card reviews.