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.

 

Thecus Adds a Plus to the N2810 with Better CPU and Double RAM

Thecus already released a mighty NAS with the N2810, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. The new version is called the N2810PLUS and it comes with a better CPU and double the RAM. Both are things that are hard to argue with and a welcome addition to Thecus’ lineup.

The N2810PLUS comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 memory over the 2GB in the N2810 and the slightly faster Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor. The previous model used the N3050 processor, so it is only a small bump. Still, every little helps and can make the difference for a smooth experience.

The N2810 and N2810PLUS NAS’ support 4K video output via the built-in HDMI port and this is one of the areas where this upgrade should make a difference. The added memory, which most likely also makes it dual-channel over a single-channel setup now, will provide a much smoother display of high-resolution content. The addition of two more CPU cores will no doubt also help with this and any other task.

The NAS is designed for easy hard drive installation and with a focus on reliability. It can act as a full multimedia centre that supports AirPlay, DLNA, and much more – on top of the direct 4K playback. Two LAN ports provide the user with 7 modes of link aggregation and the three USB 3.0 ports deliver high data speeds for portable storage.

It also comes with the latest version of Thecus operating system, ThecusOS 7.0, that provides an optimized and feature-rich platform with an intuitive user interface and easy navigation. Key new features include Photo Station, Thecus App Center, and File Center. ThecusOS 7.0 delivers significant advancements in productivity, flexibility, and performance.

The new N2810PLUS edition NAS will begin shipping globally today, so it should be at your local Thecus dealer very shortly.

Ang Lee Shows Preview of 4K 3D 120FPS Movie in Las Vegas

Ang Lee showed preview footage of his upcoming film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, at an event in Las Vegas on Saturday. Unlike most previews, the plot or characters weren’t the centerpiece of the movie, but instead the advanced photography and projection techniques used to screen the movie, which the director believes may be the future of the filmmaking industry in the digital age.

The showing was part of the National Association of Broadcasters trade show, where Lee showed off 11 minutes of 3D footage from the film. It wasn’t presented in the typical fashion however, the show making use of a pair of laser projectors that were able to project a full 4K image at an amazing 120 frames per second per eye. This puts regular movies to shame in a number of ways, with the framerate alone being five times that of a typical film with Lee explaining that the jump to 120 FPS 4k allowing for crystal clear images without many of the negative visual artifacts that appear in traditional films.

This isn’t the first time a director has tried to make use of higher than standard framerates in their films, with Peter Jackson making use of 48 FPS recording in his 2012 film, The Hobbit. There were mixed feelings on the use of the higher frame rate with many feeling it stripped away the pseudo-realism that 24 FPS invokes. Lee, however, did not cite Jackson’s use of the technique as part of his reasoning for using it himself.

Whether the use of these techniques will catch on remains to be seen, but Ang Lee and his team feel that it is worth experimenting with new techniques to bring the film industry forward. Lee believes that employing technologies such as those that allow for higher frame rates is not just a case of mindlessly applying new technologies but instead requiring it’s own creative development. “This will be a long journey. I think we’re at the beginning of finding out what digital cinema means,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet, but it’s a strobe-free dimension.”

Unfortunately, for many, they will not get a chance to see the film as Lee showed off this weekend as no cinemas in the world have the ability to project the same way it was at the NAB show, with the film instead being shown in a variety of formats when it is released in November, including HFR versions.

Nintendo NX May Feature 14nm Polaris GPU

Battered on both the CPU and GPU fronts, consoles have been one of the few areas AMD has managed to outplay the competition. With competitive CPU and GPU architectures in one platform, AMD was able to secure Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft’s current-gen consoles. Nintendo is also set to continue to use AMD chips for the Nintendo NX console and that device will reportedly use a 14nm Polaris like GPU.

From previous rumours, we’ve already learned that the Nintendo NX will use an x86 architecture chip paired with at least 6-8GB OF DDR4. What more, the new console will also feature 4K support via upscaling, streaming media and likely playback as well. To wrap it all up, AMD is reportedly supplying Nintendo with a 14nm Polaris-like GPU for their upcoming console. This is similar to how the PS4 and Xbox One used GPUs that were a merger of GCN 1.1 and 1.2. The Nintendo NX may use a something beyond the GCN 4 that is Polaris.The OS also will use Vulkan as it’s graphics API.

With a strong Polaris chip on 14nm, Nintendo will have a chance at seizing the performance crown for once. Nintendo consoles have proven weaker generally and have suffered from lesser third-party support as a result. With 4K support, the NX may well match the PS4K and the rumoured replacement for the Xbox One. Hopefully, we will finally get 1080p 60FPS with decent graphics on consoles soon enough.

ASUSTOR Launches Powerful High-Capacity AS6208T and AS6210T

ASUSTOR launched two new high-capacity enterprise-class NAS units, the AS6208T and the AS6210T. The only difference between the two units is that one has 8 drive bays and the other one has 10 drive bays. They are powered by an Intel Celeron (Braswell) 1.6GHz quad-core CPU with Boost speeds up to 2.24GHz. This is backed by 4GB dual-channel DDR3L memory which is expandable.

This is a great base for a powerful system that comes with hardware encryption support and 4K capabilities. All that power can be connected through the four built-in Gigabit Ethernet ports for a read and write performance up to 398 MB/s and 355 MB/s respectively in a RAID 5 setup.

There are plenty of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports as well as two eSATA ports. With that amount of extra ports, you can expand the systems even further than with the 8 and 10 internal bays that each support up to 8TB drives.

It’s probably unlikely that a system like this will be used for as a multimedia hub, although it would be perfectly suitable for it. Instead, it is much more likely to be used for surveillance tasks. It is well equipped for both scenarios with its direct usage ability. It features both an HDMI 1.4b connector and an S/PDIF audio link.

As with all other ASUSTOR NAS units, these two new ones come with a 3-year warranty and a suggested retail price of $999 for the AS6210T and $899 for the AS6208T. That’s actually not bad at all.

Key Hardware Specifications

  • Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Automatic Overclocking to 2.24GHz)
  • Read Speed of up to 398+ MB/s and Write Speed of up to 355+ MB/s Under Link Aggregation and RAID 5 Configurations
  • 4GB Built-in Dual-Channel DDR3L High Speed Memory (Expandable up to 8GB, 4GB x2)
  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports
  • Front of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
  • Back of Device: 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Ports, 2 x USB 2.0 Ports, 2 x eSATA Ports
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b Port
  • 1 x S/PDIF Audio Output Port
  • Infrared Receiver
  • Supports RAID Volume Management: Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10, RAID 0/1/5/6/10+Hot Spare
  • Supports Hot Swappable Hard Disks
  • Disk Tray Locks
  • LCD Panel
  • Supports Largest Capacity Hard Disks on the Market (8TB)
  • Smart Fan Temperature Control

The AS6208T and AS6210T both come built-in with the latest ADM 2.5.4 firmware providing RAID data protection, high-grade AES-NI hardware encryption technology, a 256-bit data encryption mechanism, firewall, network defender, antivirus software for installation and other safety mechanisms to keep data safe and secure. But you will be able to upgrade to the newest firmware very soon as ADM 2.6 is scheduled to be released in April.

Key Software Specifications for ADM 2.6

  • Seamless Cross-Platform File Access (Windows, Mac, Unix-Like Operating Systems)
  • Virtualization Support: Citrix, Hyper-V, VMware (NFS)
  • Scheduled and Automatic iSCSI LUN Snapshots
  • Virtual Machine Support with VirtualBox (ASUSTOR Portal and ADM Web Interface)
  • Comprehensive Backup Solutions (Public Cloud, Local Device, PC, Mobile Devices)
  • Integrates Windows AD, Windows ACL Permissions and Batch Importation of Accounts
  • SNMP Network Management Protocol Support
  • Instant System Event Notifications (Email, SMS or Push Notification)
  • Supports 3-Step Seamless System Migration
  • Supports Online Capacity Expansion and RAID Level Migration
  • Supports N-1 MyArchive Hard Disks with Encryption and Binding of USB Devices as Encryption Keys
  • Newly Added File System Support for MyArchive (EXT4, NTFS, HFS+) Increases Compatibility of MyArchive
  • Disks.
  • Remote Access via Cloud Connect Technology
  • App Central App Repository Features Rich Variety of Apps for Multimedia, Business Productivity and More.
  • Surveillance Center Supports up to 25 Camera Channels

Thecus N2810 2-Bay 4K Capable SMB NAS Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a little bit special as I don’t just get the chance to test one of the newest NAS on the market, but also a new operating system at the same time. Thecus N2810 2-bay SMB multimedia NAS server with 4K playback is in the testing area and it comes with Thecus’ brand new ThecusOS 7.0.

Thecus N2810 NAS is powered by an Intel Celeron N3050 Braswell dual-core processor with 1.6GHz base clock and a 2.16GHz burst speed. This is a great processor for NAS usage as it’s both powerful and energy-efficient. On top of that, the N2810 supports hardware AES 256-bit encryption for that extra layer of security without impacting performance the way a software solution will. This is backed by 2GB DDR3 memory, but you can upgrade the system to a maximum of 8GB DDR3 RAM should you require more. The standard 2GB should still be plenty for normal usage scenarios and seamless 4K media playback.

Thecus opted for a full USB 3.0 setup which is a nice thing to see. Thanks to the USB bus’ compatibility you can easily use legacy devices while having maximum speed on your modern equipment such as high-end flash drives and external SSDs. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the rear and one on the front. The front port also features a convenient one-touch copy button that allows you to copy content to or from a USB drive with a single press of the button.

The two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the N2810 support 10/100/1000 BASE-TX Auto MDI/MDI-X and Wake-on-LAN. You can naturally also set them up for link aggregation and Thecus allows you to set all seven modes: Load balance, Failover, 802.3ad, Balance-XOR, Balance-TLB, Balance-ALB, and Broadcast.

There is also the HDMI port for direct playback on your TV or monitor without the need for any other device at all. This is a feature we see more and more on modern NAS devices and it is one that I really love. While streaming is great, a direct connection allows for higher compatibility with formats and there are fewer points of failure or lag on the way. That said, the Thecus N2810 has absolutely no trouble streaming either, but we’ll get to that later.

Keen eyes will already have spotted the serial UART port too and that isn’t something that we usually see on NAS devices, it is however an awesome feature. We sometimes find the port on the PCB, but rarely on the device itself. UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter and is part of the serial communication protocol.

The N2810 is the first Thecus NAS to run the completely new ThecusOS 7.0 operating system and user interface. The refreshed OS offers an easy to use and intuitive user interface and quite a lot of new features over the previous OS including the new Photo Station, Thecus App Center with over 700 apps, and user profiles. Besides the design and feature improvements, it also got a push in regards to the performance where it gets even more out of your hardware.

The N2810 steps up to the challenges that 4K playback creates and provides a robust hardware platform that is able to handle multiple tasks with ease. The built-in HDMI port allows you to transform the NAS into a multimedia hub by connecting it directly to your TV or media center to utilize the power of KODI. There are plenty of streaming options too with basic DLNA as well as Plex Media Server that can stream to your consoles with ease. The server can also automatically assemble iTunes, iPhoto, and Aperture content. Apple TV and Chromecast are both supported too, completing the circle of media abilities.

The N2810 is an SMB NAS and as such comes with a comprehensive list of enterprise-oriented features too, although none of them are limited to firms and enterprises, home users can take equal advantage of them. The Thecus System Failover feature is a fault tolerance process that creates mirrored data volumes. With at least two Thecus NAS available, data is copied by schedule and all changes are mirrored between the two NAS. While the second NAS is not visible, it communicates with the primary NAS. In the event of a power or network failure, a scheduled maintenance, or other unforeseen circumstances, System Failover automatically redirects operations to the secondary Thecus NAS, which then acts as the primary NAS.

Local failover is also achieved easily with a Thecus NAS and Snapshots. With BTRFS support, users can enjoy the simplicity of snapshot backups through BTRFS subvolumes. Snapshots of data at various time points can be manually or automatically made and just as easily later restored to rollback files or folders to previous states.

To complete the backup and failover abilities, the N2810 comes bundled with Acronis Backup Software that can backup all your data to the NAS with a single click as well as local backups and Time Machine support. Real-time remote replication (Rsync) is naturally also supported and it is one of the easiest to use and widest available backup methods.

Security is an important factor on a NAS, after all, it’s the device that holds all your files, memories, and data. Whether you’re an enterprise user or a home user, a virtual private network can come in very handy. The N2810 can operate as a VPN server and allow users to remotely access through a secure network.

Thecus also added Intel Security to the package that gives you an active defense against viruses that might have made it onto your NAS. The software protects you by scanning the files on your NAS and defending it against possible threats. Intel Security is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company and Thecus users will be able to benefit from Intel Security’s powerful software on their NAS entirely for free.

With the Thecus N2810, it is also an easy task to set up your own personal cloud service that will work with mobile iOS and Android devices with the use of Thecus’ T-OnTheGo app and your PCs. The mobile app enables users to access, copy, stream, and edit any data between their NAS and mobile device. Your own personal cloud, available from anywhere with internet access. The access from anywhere is made as easy as it could be thanks to the built-in DDNS feature that will give your NAS a name rather than a difficult to remember and mostly changing IP address.

You can also reverse the whole thing and use the public cloud systems together with the N2810 NAS. The system will work with DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive cloud backup functionality. Guard your data with RAID at home and an additional level of protection in the Cloud. Just drag and drop files into the folder on your NAS and access them on any computer or mobile device with DropBox, Amazon S3 or ElephantDrive.

With currently available hard disk drives you get up to 8TB in the consumer sector and 10TB in the enterprise sector. With two drive bays at your disposal, that’s already a lot of storage and you can take maximum advantage of this storage thanks to iSCSI and the efficiency of iSCSI thin provisioning. Connect through iSCSI for the fastest data transfer speeds available and make wasted disk space a thing of the past with thin provisioning’s flexible storage functionality.

Feature Highlights

  • Embedded with Intel Celeron N3050 Dual Core CPU
  • Running on the newly-designed and enhanced ThecusOS 7.0
  • Seamless 4K Multimedia Playback
  • Uninterrupted Accessibility with Thecus System Failover
  • Secure Remote Access with Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Faster Transfers: 2 LAN Ports for Link Aggregation
  • 99% Virus Prevention: Bundled with Free Intel Security
  • Complete Client Side Protection: Bundled with Free Acronis Software

Packaging and Accessories

Thecus packed the N2810 in a beautiful box that clearly shows the intended usage, as a 4K capable multimedia center.

The rear of the box continues the beautiful full-colour wrapping with the feature highlights. There’s no doubt that you have a premium device in your hands when you look at the package.

It continues on the sides where the brand new Thecus OS 7 is presented on one side.

The second side reveals the hardware specifications, device size,  and package content.

Inside the product is a quick installation guide and a product disk as well as the warranty card and product notes.

Besides the manuals and the NAS itself, there is also a power adapter with connection cord, two sets of drive tray keys, an RJ45 LAN cable, and a security latch for the power cable that can prevent accidental removal.

The Nintendo NX is Rumoured to Have 4K Support

Nintendo’s upcoming console, codenamed ‘NX’, has been the subject of numerous rumours from multiple sources who apparently know confidential details about the system’s key features. Reports have suggested Nintendo will adopt the X86 architecture and be a handheld/home console hybrid. Other leaks indicate it might even use the latest version of Android. The latest rumour was originally posted on Reddit but the author has since decided to remove the post. Thankfully, MyNintendoNews managed to save the details which are listed below:

  • The retail name for the NX is unknown to developers (or they are holding back). I’ve asked multiple sources.
  • I know of at least 1 third-party Wii U game that has/have been successfully ported to NX.
  • Amiibo are still supported (if you hadn’t already guessed).
  • Friend codes are still a thing (unfortunately).
  • I don’t know when the NX will be announced. Speculation is this month.
  • There are multiple “gimmicks” with the NX, one is optional.
  • There are physical dev-kits out in the wild, I don’t have access to these.
  • I don’t know the model of the GPU, however there is little doubt (from what I’ve been told) that it an AMD.
  • The NX is capable of outputting 4k. Consensus is upscaling and streaming.
  • DDR4 Memory (between 6GB – 8GB). EDIT: Available to software.

Apparently, the NX will support 4K, but the games will not natively run at this resolution. It’s not overly surprising given the graphical horsepower required to push so many pixels. Honestly, I’m really concerned by the claim of multiple “gimmicks” because history dictates similar measures proved to be unpopular. While the Wii U gamepad is a novel idea, I found it uncomfortable for prolonged periods. On another note, the Wii remote didn’t really add anything to core games and felt extremely unnecessary. I think it’s important for Nintendo to innovate but create something which doesn’t have any gimmicks.

Of course, this is from an unverified source so it’s vital to take these claims with a pinch of salt.

The Waterfront – Panasonics 4K Seat For Airplanes

Going to take a long flight in the near future? You may want to hope that Panasonic is the ones providing you with the in-flight entertainment though after they revealed the Waterfront, a 4k experience to keep you happy on the plane.

Concealed within a private seating area, not only are you welcomed to your own private refuge but the technologies there to make your flight as enjoyable as being at home. The lighting around your area is controlled by an app you can place on your phone, giving you control over the lighting in the front pocket and water bottle independently.

If that wasn’t enough from the app then you can take full control of the 24-inch 4K TV that sits in front of you for the duration of the flight. With video and music playback, with all the sound provided through a set of headphones placed neatly beside your head, the app can only be used to control your adjustable seats and a “do not disturb” function (complete with wake up time alert for the cabin crew) , the app continues to give you options when you’re enjoying your flight.

With a wireless charging area for your phone, power ports, and an HDMI input to let you play your own movies, you can even video chat with the built-in camera. Once you’ve got everything to your liking, you can save the settings and keep them for your next flight, the app even gives you a notification about where to pick up your bags. While it’s not set for release till 2019, you could soon enjoy the freedom and comfort of a 4K screen on your long distance flights.

Lexar Launches Compact Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader

Moving on to camera equipment that doesn’t use the more-or-less default SD or micro SD cards creates an issue with most portable systems, you can’t just slide the memory card into your notebook and transfer the files over for backup or editing. Most portable systems such as notebook and ultrabooks feature SD card slots, but what if your equipment uses QXD cards instead? That’s when you need an external card reader and Lexar just introduced the Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader which is designed to aid professionals in quickly transferring files from XQD 2.0 cards to computers and not take up a lot of space.

Lexar already has the impressive Workflow XR2 reader, but this one is a more compact version that’s better suited for people with limited space on the go. It can easily slip into a pocket or bag, and offers a simple plug-and-play design with a USB 3.0 connector so content can be securely transferred on the go. Whether you capture photos in the RAW image format or record 4K video, this card reader will have your files transferred in no time.

“Given the rapid growth and widespread appeal of 4K video, we realised it was essential to create a reader for XQD 2.0 cards that provided professionals with a way to transfer great video and photo content without the wait time,” said Steffi Ho, product marketing manager, Lexar. “The Lexar Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader supercharges post-production content transfer, no matter what you’re shooting.”

Lexar backs the Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader with an impressive 5-year warranty and it comes with an MSRP of £29.99. Availability is expected in late April.

Feature Highlights

  • Provides professional-level high-speed transfer of RAW images and 4K video files
  • Accelerates workflow, leveraging SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology
  • Designed for use with XQD 2.0 cards
  • Compact, portable design for photographers and videographers on the go
  • Five-year limited warranty

GTA V Redux Will Turn Your World Into a 4K Fireball

These days, when a company releases a game there tends to be two sets of development going on. Internally the company looks to bring out expansions, DLC, and fixes for the game, while externally everyday people look to create a whole new experience by modding the game to open up a whole new world for the player. One such mod looks to bring your GTA V experience to a whole new level with the GTA Redux mod.

The Grand Theft Auto V Redux mod is the successor to the “Pinnacle of V” mod, designed to bring the game to a whole new level of graphics with a variety of new and updated features.

Looking for 4K resolution? They’ve got it. How about updated explosion graphics? Got it. Smoke and particle effects? Got it. The mod even adds new debris textures, making your gameplay experience even closer to that of a movie than an actual game. Redux will include newly worked physics and explosions alongside an overhauled weapon system, meaning that not only does the game look better it will play better as well.

Anyone else excited by this? The mod is made by John Romito, and since releasing his website for the mod he’s received 987 requests for tweaks to be made to the game. Ranging from something as fundamental as an overhaul of the physics engine to re-branding every vehicle and billboard advert found in the game. With so many features being brought to the game it’s only a matter of time before we get the mod released and lose ourselves to the highly detailed world of Los Santos again.

BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


BIOSTAR might not be the most recognizable motherboard brand in western markets but their pedigree for creating reliable products is worthy of praise. When compared to MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, the company struggles to entice consumers with unique aesthetic designs. Furthermore, the BIOS and software package has been sorely lacking and in dire need of change. Thankfully, BIOSTAR have acknowledged these criticisms and decided to forge a brand new range based upon a racing theme to please petrolheads with an avid interest in enthusiast hardware. Each RACING motherboard sports a chequered flag PCB and stylish LED illumination while introducing a new BIOS layout. Clearly, this is a major departure from BIOSTAR’s previous products which evoked a fairly mundane appearance.

The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is based on the mATX form factor and supports up to 64GB DDR4 with a maximum speed of 2133MHz. Intel’s H170 chipset blocks multiplier overclocking which means you have to resort to your processor’s default turbo frequency. Of course, there’s been some controversy surrounding BCLK overclocking on H170 and B150 motherboards to unofficially achieve boosts fairly close to traditional multiplier overclocking. Sadly, Intel has voiced their displeasure regarding this phenomenon and pressurized manufacturers to disable BCLK overclocking via a BIOS update. As a result, we have to rely on stock figures to determine the motherboard’s performance. Previously, I’ve seen some astounding results when it comes to storage with BIOSTAR products, and I’m interested to see if this trend continues.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

Here we can see the absolutely stunning packaging which contains a carbon fibre inspired cover and vibrant text. This coincides with the RACING focus and feels quite reminiscent of a luxury sports car’s interior.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed diagram showing the motherboard’s layout and explanation of its unique selling features. Once again, this is presented a superb manner and makes you inquisitive about the product’s specification.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard includes a user’s manual, Vivid LED DJ instructions guide, SATA cables, driver disk, and I/O shield.

Microsoft is Apparently Creating ‘Xbox neXt’

There’s been an assortment of rumors circulating regarding Sony’s plans to release a new PlayStation 4 with increased technical capabilities. Furthermore, the information has come from numerous sources including mainstream publications which gives credence to this theory. Allegedly, the PS4K will feature a GPU with twice the processing power compared to the standard model which runs at a higher clock speed. The CPU could be improved but this would have a marked impact on the retail price. If true, this would be an unprecedented move for the console industry and a significant move away from longer generations.

According to Crave Entertainment, Microsoft could be planning a similar strategy. Here we can see a LinkedIn profile for David Gardner, the visual design lead at Microsoft. Notice the current projects section describing something called the Xbox neXt. To be perfectly clear, this might have nothing to with a 4K variant of the Xbox One and simply refer to dashboard improvements or other innovations. Saying that, its not beyond the realm of possibilities that the Xbox neXt is either Microsoft’s next console or an updated model of the Xbox One.

Even though Phil Spencer originally seemed open to the idea of hardware upgrades, it looks likely that he’s had a change of heart. In an interview with GameInformer, Phil Spencer said:

“If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers.”

“For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people – an upgrade.”

Therefore, this quashes the idea that the Xbox neXt is an improved version of the Xbox One. Additionally, the main reason Sony is probably considering a much more powerful PlayStation 4 is due to VR and the hefty requirements involved. On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t shown much of a keen interest in this technology for the Xbox One. If I had to make any sort of prediction, I’d image the Xbox neXt is Microsoft’s successor to the Xbox One. Also, you have to remember that developement for the next hardware launch begins right after the current model is released to the public.

Kingston Releases Micro-SD Card Designed for Action Cameras

There are plenty of memory cards on the market, but it aren’t all of them that are equally suited for all tasks – much in the same way as it is with any other kind of storage product. Kingston just released a new micro SD Card specifically designed for use with action cameras and that comes with UHS-I U3 Speed Class 3 ratings. The new Kingston SDCAC microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 memory card comes in various sizes from 16GB and up to 64GB.

The new Kingston SDCAC microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 memory card comes in various sizes from 16GB and up to 64GB. Its rugged performance and form factor make this micro SD card ideal for most action cameras including GoPro and drones.

The cards feature speeds of up to 90MB/s when reading and up to 45MB/s when writing. While that doesn’t sound like much when we compare it to SSD performance, it is quite nice for a card of this size. And we also have to keep in mind that these are minimum speed ratings and not possible maximum speeds.

The sustained performance allows outdoor enthusiasts to shoot in 4K resolutions without missing a single frame and even shoot up to 240 frames per second on normal Full-HD recordings. With a capacity availability from 16GB to 64GB, there should be a right card for everyone. The 16GB and 32GB capacities are shipping this month while the larger 64GB ships next month.

The cards can perform in any environment as they are waterproof, shockproof, X-ray proof, and temperature proof. Pretty much just proofed. The card is available in two version, with and without an SD card adapter that lets users quickly and easily view footage on a PC, notebook, or media reader.

Kingston’s microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 is backed by a lifetime warranty, free technical support, and legendary Kingston reliability. No word on pricing yet.

Features and Specifications:

  • Designed for action cameras and drones: shoot video at up to 30 frames per second in 4K or capture HD footage at 240 frames per second on your GoPro, action camera or drone to preserve every second of your latest adventure.
  • Rugged for every adventure: waterproof, shockproof, X-ray proof, and temperature proof to perform even in harsh environments.
  • Enough space for your trip: whether shooting in 4K or at 240 frames per second, the card has room to keep you going.
  • Guaranteed: Lifetime warranty, legendary reliability, free technical support.
  • Capacities1: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (shipping later)
  • Performance7: 90MB/s read and 45MB/s write, UHS-I Speed Class 3 (U3)
  • microSD Dimensions: 11mm x 15mm x 1mm
  • SD Adapter Dimensions: 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm
  • Format: FAT32 (microSDHC 16GB-32GB); exFAT (microSDXC 64GB)
  • Operating Temperature: -25°C to 85°C
  • Storage Temperature: -40°C to 85°C
  • Voltage: 3.3V
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Giada Launches Compact yet Powerful i80 Mini-PC

Giada is no stranger to the compact systems, but the new i80 takes it to a whole new level with power in a compact chassis. The tiny i80 mini-PC is built on Intel’s NUC concept that packs plenty of power in a compact form factor and coupled with a fashionable appearance, as they call it. The i80 is using the latest Skylake-U processors and support dual 4K UHD resolution that makes it perfect for office work.

The Giada i80 features both HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort connectors for your monitors and they are powered by an Intel Graphics 520 GPU unit. There are two different models with different CPU, but other than that the two models are the same. One uses an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 2.5GHz and 2.8GHz boost while the other uses the smaller i3-6100U processor with 2..3GHz and no Turbo Boost 2.0.

You are able to install up to 16GB DDR3L-1600 MHz in these units via the two SO-DIMM slots which should be plenty for most work situations. The two slots also allow for dual-channel memory usage that gives a clear benefit over units that only feature one slot.

There are plenty of connection and control options. Starting on the front, there are two USB 3.0 ports next to a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR receiver.

The connections continue on the rear where we find the previously mentioned Mini-DisplayPort that supports 4K 60Hz resolutions and the HDMI port that allows 4K resolutions with 24Hz. There are two more USB 3.0 ports on the rear where you also find an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet connector and a TF card reader.

On the inside, you will find an integrated Realtek ALC662 audio codec that powers the two-in-on jack on the front. The Ethernet is powered by Intel’s i219LM controller.

You can expand the function with a full-length Mini-PCIe card that supports mSATA2, a half-length Mini-PCIe Wi-Fi or BT module, and install one mSATA3 drive as well as one 2.5-inch SATA3 drive with a maximum height of 7.5mm. That is quite a bit of expansion options for such a tiny system. speaking of tiny, the system only measures 116.6 x 111 x 47.1 mm

The larger i80-B5000 model comes with a suggested retail price of $380, but the price for the smaller i80-B3000 model wasn’t revealed at this time. Further details can also be found on the official product page.

Sony To Offer 4K Streaming Service ‘Ultra’ From April

Rumours have recently been spreading saying that Sony would be working on a 4K variation of their PS4. Sadly it would seem those rumours were overblown but you could soon be watching 4K Videos on demand with Sony offering its streaming service from April.

The 4K films featured as part of ‘Ultra’, their streaming service, will retail at $30, including a selection of special features and will be available through Sony’s new 4K screens. Alongside their new films, people will be able to upgrade films they’ve purchased from Sony’s online store 4K versions at a “discounted” price.

Those with Ultraviolet movies will be able to enjoy them alongside their new films with the ability to link to their UV collections meaning that all those UV codes you’ve been adding to that account may finally see some use.

With 4K players costing upwards of hundreds of powers on their own, $30 a movie doesn’t seem that bad when you compare the prices. The limited collection of movies that will include the likes of The Walk, Concussion and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, may put people off but with it building upon Ultraviolet and other systems people may decide to skip the discs altogether and stick to streaming 4K content in order enjoy the latest quality in movie experiences.

Gigabyte P35W v5 Gaming Laptop Review

Introduction


Consumers typically purchase gaming laptops over their desktop counterparts due to portability and requiring hefty processing power on the move. Saying that, it’s exceedingly difficult to offer adequate thermal dissipation in a slim form factor which limits the convenience factor of many flagship gaming laptops. These tend to be rather bulky and difficult to carry around on public transportation where space is quite restricted. Thankfully, efficiency improvements on mobile graphics chipsets and CPUs have enabled manufacturers to create a better balance between performance and size. Granted, the top-tier options with dual GPUs still feel heavy but less extreme alternatives can be surprising portable. For example, the Gigabyte P34W v3 provides a superb gaming experience and weighs a mere 1.81Kg. Back when I reviewed this, the performance to size ratio astounded me. Although, the system’s load temperatures were higher than I hoped and felt like a concession too far.

The latest gaming laptop to prioritize a thin design from Gigabyte is the P35W v5 sporting an Intel i7-6700HQ, ultra fast 128GB NVMe boot drive, and GTX 970M. Unlike the P34W v3, Gigabyte has opted for a 6GB variant of this graphics chip but I can’t see the increased video memory making a substantial difference. On the other hand, some games with high memory utilization might fare better with an improved minimum frame-rate. Another key benefit is the inclusion of DDR4 memory, and a greatly improved battery. As always, you can customize the specification to suit your needs and the standard package utilizes a 1920×1080 display. If this seems a little underwhelming, you can select a 4K panel for an additional fee but this has some drawbacks when it comes to performance. Given the P35W v5’s marvellously thin design, I’m interested to see the thermals under stress and determine if the cooling hardware is up to scratch.

Specifications

  • Name: Gigabyte P35W v5
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz base frequency, 3.5GHz turbo)
  • System Memory: 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung NVMe MZVPV128 M.2 128GB SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): HGST 1TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 6GB
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840×2160 IPS LCD
  • Optical Drive: MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ8G2
  • Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260
  • Battery: Li-Polymer 11.1V, 75.81Wh
  • Weight: 2.3Kg with Battery
  • Dimensions: 385(W) x 270(D) x 20.9(H) mm
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Warranty: 2 Year
  • Price: £1399

Packing and Accessories

Gigabyte has adopted a fairly understated theme to the packaging which showcases the beautiful display and professional aesthetic design. Furthermore, there’s a brief description about the laptop’s unique selling features but I have to say the translation is confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps, this is because the press sample originates from the factory and I’m sure Gigabyte will update the message for western markets.

The opposite side is almost identical barring another stunning snapshot of the product’s thin profile. This level of uniformity works well and evokes a premium feel. The packaging’s durable cardboard shell and soft inserts protect the item during transit meaning you shouldn’t encounter any cosmetic imperfections.

Included with the laptop is a power adapter, user’s guide, warranty card, driver disk, PowerDVD 12 software, swappable storage bay and light stickers. The swappable storage bay is an ingenious extra which allows you to remove the optical drive and fit an internal 9.5mm SSD instead. This is a great idea because many people use flash storage devices instead of optical media and the ability to easily house a traditional SATA SSD greatly enhances the laptop’s flexibility.

The 4K model contains a removable orange sticker near the lid which can be replaced with either a green or turquoise colour. Gigabyte even provides a complimentary pair of tweezers to obtain a neat finish and customize the theme to your own personal taste. Small touches like this creates the perception every customer’s needs have been attended to.

CPU-Z


GPU-Z

Is Sony Developing a 4K-Capable PlayStation 4?

With Microsoft already admitting that they want to make the Xbox One upgradable and Nintendo developing the NX, it should come as no surprise that Sony seems to have future plans for their Playstation 4 in the works. According to developer sources, Sony has begun briefing them on a new version of their popular Playstation 4 console, currently nicknamed the PS4.5 or PS4K, which will include improved graphical output as well as support for 4K resolutions.

Currently, the only things the PS4 is capable of displaying natively in 4K are photos and videos, with all of the current console’s games running at a still-respectable 1080p. Comparatively, 4K resolution includes approximately four times the pixels of 1080p, which requires far more power in order to run. Even many respectable gaming PCs are unable to run many games smoothly at 4K. A more powerful PS4 may also be able to deliver higher quality graphics to the upcoming PlayStation VR headset which may be able to bring its VR resolution and quality closer to that offered by the PC’s VR peripherals. Whether this upgrade to the PS4 will require the existing user-base to purchase all-new consoles or that current consoles will be upgradeable to the newer specification is unknown as details are thin on the ground.

It is important to remember that while a number of sources all support one another in that this new evolution of the PS4 is in the works, it may also just be a rumour. One source went so far as to say that the idea of such a mid-life upgrade for the PS4 is more of an exploratory and vague idea and may never be realized. How well such an upgrade would go down with the community may make this a risky move for Sony, as there would be many tough questions to answer, such as whether games that are “PS4.5 only” start to be released. It may only be rumours at this point, but it is interesting to think that Sony may be planning a revamped PS4 before moving onto a potential PlayStation 5.

Far Cry Primal Graphics Card Performance Analysis

Introduction


The Far Cry franchise gained notoriety for its impeccable graphical fidelity and enthralling open world environment. As a result, each release is incredibly useful to gauge the current state of graphics hardware and performance across various resolutions. Although, Ubisoft’s reputation has suffered in recent years due to poor optimization on major titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Watch Dogs. This means it’s essential to analyze the PC version in a technical manner and see if it’s really worth supporting with your hard-earned cash!

Far Cry Primal utilizes the Dunia Engine 2 which was deployed on Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. Therefore, I’m not expecting anything revolutionary compared to the previous games. This isn’t necessarily a negative concept though because the amount of detail is staggering and worthy of recognition. Saying that, Far Cry 4 was plagued by intermittent hitching and I really hope this has been resolved. Unlike Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the latest entry has a retail price of $60. According to Ubisoft, this is warranted due to the lengthy campaign and amount on content on offer. Given Ubisoft’s turbulent history with recent releases, it will be fascinating to see how each GPU this generation fares and which brand the game favours at numerous resolutions.

“Far Cry Primal is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016, and it was also released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The game is set in the Stone Age, and revolves around the story of Takkar, who starts off as an unarmed hunter and rises to become the leader of a tribe.” From Wikipedia.

ASUS Announces VivoMini VM65 Series

ASUS already got a lot of praise for their tiny Mini PCs and they’ve just announced two new systems in the series. The two new systems are called the VivoMini VM65N and the VivoMiniVM65 and they are impressive, compact, 2-liter systems that still pack quite a punch. The systems are built with Intel Skylake i3 or i5 CPUs and come with discrete Nvidia 900M series graphics card to deliver a smooth 4K visual experience and casual gaming. Don’t misunderstand this, it isn’t for gaming in 4K, naturally.

The new system can be equipped with up to 16GB DDR4 memory to be the backbone for the either an i5-6200U CPU in the VM65N and a VM65 uses an i3-6100U CPU. It also only the N model that features the Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card with 1GB DDR3 memory while the VM65 relies on the Intel HD Graphics 520 iGPU. Both come with ASUS SonicMaster-enhanced audio to make them an ideal choice for a daily computing platform or home entertainment hub.

The tiny 2-liter systems only support one 3.5-inch drive, but you can also mount two 2.5-inch drives via Vivo DualBay adapter, effectively turning them into one as far as the system is concerned. You can get the VM665 series with either a 3.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 7200rpm HDD, 2.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 5400rpm HDD, or 2.5-inch 128GB or 256G SSD out of the box.

The VM65N comes with two USB 3.1 ports that the smaller model doesn’t have, but other than that the connections are the same. You get four USB 3.0 ports, one RJ45 LAN port, HDMI and DisplayPort with UHD 4K support, a card reader, and audio connections.

The price naturally variates based on model and the drives you want it to come with and not all models will be launched in all regions or at the same time. In the United Kingdom the VM65N will launch with a single SKU VM65N-G018Z model that features an i5-6200U CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD, GT930M 1GB GPU, Win 10 64bit OS, Intel Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi+ BT, and with a Wireless Keyboard & Mouse included. This system will then set you back £549.99.

QNAP TAS-268 QTS and Android Combo NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am taking a look at a NAS that comes with a twist that we previously haven’t seen out-of-the-box. I’m talking about QNAP’s TAS-268 NAS which is a 2-bay hybrid NAS that runs both QNAP’s QTS and Android at the same time. The TAS-268 doesn’t just have a twist in the operating system, the physical form also takes a different approach than most NAS on the market.

At the core, the QNAP TAS-268 is a normal NAS with the function that you would expect from such a unit. It doesn’t come with the most power processor, but in return, it also comes with a low price tag despite all the functionality. It is built around an ARM 1.1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB DDR3 memory. It also features an onboard 4GB flash memory to be used by the Android system. While this doesn’t sound like much, it should be plenty for this device’s functions.

Besides this 2-bay unit, QNAP also released a 1-bay unit with the only difference being the number of drives you can install. But it is the 2-bay unit that we’re looking at today and it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and single disk setup with two 3.5-inch hard disk drives. There are plenty of external connection options on the TAS-268 with one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, four USB 2.0 ports on the rear and one USB 3.0 port on the front.

The front also features an SD card slot for easy and portable storage connection just as you’re used to from your Android phone or tablet – just much easier. You don’t need to remove any covers and battery as it is the case with many phones, instead, you have the SD slot right at the front of the device where you need it.

To complete the convenience experience, QNAP also added the one-touch copy button which allows just what the name promised, copy the content from the front USB port with a single press of the button. How the button shall react can be changed in the QTS system and it is capable of copy operations in both directions, both to and from the USB drives.

With a NAS like this that supports Android, we also need an HDMI port in order to connect it to our monitor or TV and the TAS-2688 also features this on the rear. It is accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports that come in handy for keyboard, mouse, and game controller connection in order to take even better advantage of the Android platform and all the available apps. You can also control the system through the use of the included IR remote control. The TS-268 supports HD and 4K H.265 / H.264 file formats, 4K H.264 with up to 15 frames per second and 4K H.265 with up to 30 frames per second.

Shouldn’t you want to connect the device via HDMI or maybe you just want to get your stored and linked media files onto more devices then you can take advantage of the common DLNA streaming that QNAP also supports. Consoles, Smart TVs, Mini-PCs and much more support this and it is probably the easiest method of streaming content.

Google Play also provides various media apps including YouTube, TED, Twitch and other video apps to be used directly on the NAS. You can install and stream movies, cartoons, TV series, news, and sports at any time in order to enrich your entertainment level.

QNAP introduced their myQNAPcloud system quite a while ago by now and naturally the TAS-268 also supports this. It isn’t just a simple and effective way to set up your new NAS, it also allows you to connect to the finished setup much quicker and easier. By acting as a simplified and locked-in dynamic DNS system it will allow you to easily connect to your NAS, securely, from anywhere in the world and any device as long as you and the NAS both have internet connectivity.

With that in mind, it is incredibly easy to create you own personal cloud system where you don’t have to rely on commercial or free options that thousands of other people use. Keep your files at home where you know who has access and who doesn’t. It is a breeze to sync files to the NAS via QNAP’s own Qsync as well as the Cloud Drive Sync app from the QTS app center that can sync files with Google Drive and Dropbox.

Both real-time and scheduled backups on Windows systems as well as with Time Machine on Mac OS systems is easily taken care of with QNAP’s NetBak replicator and it also features disaster recovery solutions including RTRR, rsync, and cloud storage backup (Dropbox and Google Drive) are also included. So all the bases are covered.

As previously mentioned, you naturally also get the ordinary NAS cross-platform file sharing capabilities from a centralized data storage. Whether you use Linux, Unix, Windows, or Mac OS, your connection is covered. And with the use of apps you get the same connectivity on your Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS system.

So far I have mostly been talking about the software functionality, but that’s just one of the great aspects on this NAS. The design is quite a bit different than we are used with a vertical unit rather than a horizontal oriented. This saves space on the desk with a smaller footprint which can be a vital factor near your entertainment system and similar likely placement scenarios.

The TAS-28 is also a very light unit due to a simple and clever design. Even better, the entire NAS can be set up completely tool-less for your convenience. There is a single thumbscrew at the bottom with which you can open up the chassis and the drive are mounted tool-less too with the included adapters.

Despite having a unique outer design, a lot of the internal design is something that reminds us of previous 2-bay NAS units – just improved with the tool-less drive mounting options and vertical instead of horizontal.

With all this talk about Android, we shouldn’t forget about the base QTS operating system. It provides a web-based user interface to help you easily manage files on the TAS-268. You can install various apps based on your needs to fulfill tasks like storage, backup, management and multimedia applications. File Station allows you to upload, download and manage files anywhere with a web browser. All of your photos, music and videos can be indexed by the built-in Media Library, and easily managed and shared with the Photo Station, Music Station and Video Station. The energy-saving Download Station is your 24/7 download center, allowing you to quickly download files to enrich your collection.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU
  • Android and QTS operating system
  • Organize & manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location
  • Synchronize files between computers, laptops, and mobile devices
  • Remotely access your files securely from your personal cloud
  • Stream your multimedia library via DLNA to other devices and your TV
  • Enjoy direct media playback via HDMI with HD videos and photos
  • Compact and streamlined chassis ideal for a desktop or living room environment

Packaging and Accessories

The TAS-268 comes in a simple white box with a representation of the NAS unit as well as the feature highlights.

The rear of the box contains some more information as to what’s so special about this NAS, but it’s kept short.

Opening up the box and we find a brand new NAS that is well protected with self-adhesive plastic film – you know the kind we all love to peel off once we get a new gadget.

Besides the NAS itself, there is a quick installation guide to help you get started quickly, a power supply brick and power cord fitting the region you bought it in as well as an RJ45 LAN cable.

There’s also a small remote control included that is about 3 inches long. Shown below are also the four HDD mounting brackets that simply snap into the drive and hold it in place.

Netflix Values HDR Content Over 8K – Has No VR Plans

While Netflix is increasing its output of 4K resolution content, users should not expect the streaming on-demand platform to introduce 8K video any time soon. Instead, the company will be pushing high dynamic range (HDR) content, which increases colour and contrast range in images.

“Something that’s a little bit more out there that we’re really excited about is the notion of HDR or high dynamic range,” Chris Jaffe, Vice President of User Interface Innovation at Netflix said during a media briefing at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona (via CNBC).

“It’s less about packing more pixels on the screen like the move from HD to ultra-HD 4K was, it’s about extending the total range of those pixels … what that means is there’s a much more photo realistic image that you’re watching which is much more representative of the total range that your eye can see when you’re just looking around in real life.”

One visual innovation that Netflix will not be pursuing, though, is virtual reality. “We think there’s a great opportunity for VR in gaming and the gaming space is going to be an interesting place for them to explore it,” Jaffe added. “We don’t see an opportunity right now in the near-term for Netflix and VR, but we do want to watch how great story tellers use this technology, because at the end of the day, what you really see is when consumers really engage with great storytelling there’s a great opportunity and that’s what we really want to see.”

Netflix is aiming to release season one of Marco Polo and season two of Daredevil in HDR later this year.

Samsung Unveils First 256GB Flash Storage Chip

Samsung has announced that it has begun producing the world’s first 256GB Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 chip, for use in next-generation, high-end mobile devices. The new UFS chip’s performance speeds exceed those of a typical SATA solid state drive (SSD).

“By providing high-density UFS memory that is nearly twice as fast as a SATA SSD for PCs, we will contribute to a paradigm shift within the mobile data storage market,” Joo Sun Choi, Executive Vice President of Memory Sales and Marketing for Samsung Electronics, said in a press release. “We are determined to push the competitive edge in premium storage line-ups – OEM NVMe SSDs, external SSDs, and UFS – by moving aggressively to enhance performance and capacity in all three markets.”

The 256GB UFS memory module boasts 45,000 (read) and 40,000 (write) input/output operations per second (IOPS), which is more than twice as fast as the previous generation of UFS chips, which operate at 19,000 (read) and 14,000 (write) IOPS.

“Using Samsung’s advanced memory technology, the new UFS memory chips are extremely compact, even smaller than an external micro SD card, giving greater flexibility to smartphone designers,” the press release reads.

Samsung hopes the new UFS chips will help support watching 1080p and 4K video on mobile devices, so presumably the memory is set to be a feature of future Samsung Galaxy tablets, and maybe even the Samsung Galaxy Note 6.

Shuttle Announces SZ170R8 Skylake-Based Mini-PC

Small form factor computers are the future in many directions, but going too small also limits the options considerably. Shuttle has been in the Mini-PC business for a long time and they’ve found a good balance between upgradability and size with their XPC cubes. The newest family member to the Shuttle XPC series is the SZ170R8 which already gives away half of its specifications in the name: The system is a Skylake-based one with a Z170 chipset inside the new R8 chassis.

The XPS R8 chassis is only a third of the size that a traditional tower PC occupies and it still comes with plenty of space for your hardware. You can install up to four 3.5-inch hard disk drives or eight 2.5-inch drives with optional PHD3 adapter brackets.

The system features two expansion slots that allow you to install graphics cards and other adapters with a length up to 267mm. That coupled with the use of 6th generation Intel Core processors and support for up to 64GB DDR4 memory will give you a great base for almost any task.

You can install Skylake LGA1151 processors with a TDP up to 95W and use the built-in GPU units that support 4k/Ultra HD video playback, the system is well equipped for it with two DisplayPort and one HDMI port. There are plenty of USB connection, the network connection is handled by an Intel i219LM controller, and the audio by a Realtek ALC892 7.1 HD audio solution.

The SZ170R8 is equipped with Shuttle’s I.C.E 2 heat pipe technology and comes with an 80 Plus Silver certified 500W power supply to maintain long-term and high stability operation for various professional applications.

Next generation expansion modules can be installed too with the support for one M.2 and one half-size mini PCI-E expansion slots. So whether you want to install a super fast M.2 2280 SSD or a Wi-Fi module, the system is ready.

 

SilverStone Releases USB 3.1 Type-C LAN and HDMI Adapters

One of the downsides with compact mobile devices such as two-in-one, ultrabooks, and tablets is the lack of connection ability. They all have a USB connection, but beyond that, it is very limited. Luckily you can do a lot with adapters and SilverStone just released two new USB 3.1 Type-C adapters where the one adds a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 network port and the other adds an HDMI port that’s capable of 4K video output.

The first of the two new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapters is the EP05 and it is a compact Gigabit Ethernet network adapter in beautiful all white colored design. The adapter uses the Realtek RTL8153 chipset which offers TCP Offload Engine and it also supports advanced IEEE features such as 802.1Q VLAN tagging and 802.3az among others. The Realtek chipset offers both normal Wake On LAN (WOL) as well as RealWoW that allows you to wake your system over the internet too.

The EP05 would be a great addition to notebook computers such as MacBooks that do not have network port at all on their own. Naturally it is downwards compatible all the way to 10Mbps and USB 1.1 connections and it works driverless on Windows 8 or newer systems. Windows 7 and earlier will need to download and install drivers first.

The second new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapter is called the EP07 and it provides you with an easy way to add an extra HDMI port to your system. The SilverStone EP07 doesn’t just support USB 3.1 input and HDMI output, it also supports flexible USB 3.1 Type-C switching for DP 1.2 Alt Mode.

The EP07 Supports HDMI 1.4 and also former versions for older devices, but sadly no official HDMI 2.0 support. That doesn’t mean that you can’t connect a HDMI 2.0 display to it, you just don’t get the advantages. It supports content protection of HDCP Rx and Tx keys and it can display resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30Hz with DP1.2 in SST mode.

 

Both SilverStone adapters work without extra power input which makes them highly portable. They don’t weigh much either, which always is a great feature in accessories for mobile devices.

Both the SilverStone EP05 and EP07 adapter will be available next week for a recommended end user price of $18.15 USD for the EP05 and $22.11 USD for the EP07 (excl. VAT).

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider Performance Analysis

Introduction


Rise of the Tomb Raider originally launched on November 10th and received widespread critical acclaim from various press outlets. Unfortunately, the game went under the radar because Fallout 4 released on the same day. This was a strategic error which hindered the game’s sales and prevented consumers from giving it their undivided attention. It’s such a shame because Rise of the Tomb Raider is a technical marvel when you consider the Xbox One’s limited horsepower. Even though it’s not technically an exclusive, PC players had to wait until after the Christmas period to enjoy the latest exploits of everyone’s favourite heroine.

The PC version was created by Nixxes Software who worked on the previous Tomb Raider reboot as well as a number of other graphically diverse PC games. The studio is renowned for creating highly polished and well-optimized PC versions featuring an astonishing level of graphical fidelity. Prior to release, NVIDIA recommended a GTX 970 for the optimal 1080p experience and 980 Ti for 1440P. Since then, there have been some performance patches from the developer and driver updates to help with scaling across various hardware configuration. This means it will be fascinating to see the performance numbers now that the game has matured and gone through a large number of post-release hot fixes.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, which was itself, the second reboot to its series. It was released for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in November 2015 and for Microsoft Windows in January 2016. It is set to release for PlayStation 4 in late 2016.

The game’s storyline follows Lara Croft as she ventures into Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, whilst battling a paramilitary organization that intends on beating her to the city’s promise of immortality. Presented from a third-person perspective, the game primarily focuses on survival and combat, while the player may also explore its landscape and various optional tombs. Camilla Luddington returns to voice and perform her role as Lara.” From Wikipedia.

So, let’s get to it and see how some of the latest graphics cards on the market hold up with the latest from Crystal Dynamics!

Need For Speed PC Edition Supports 4K And Steering Wheels

The Need For Speed franchise usually adopts an arcade driving model to easily drift around corners and remain accessible to players using a controller. It’s diametrically opposed to the simulators popularized on PC such as Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, iRacing and RFactor. Despite this, EA is making the PC version of Need For Speed more akin to a simulation game. Clearly, the handling remains fairly arcade-like but the studio decided to implement manual transmission and support every major wheel model on the market. This includes the Logitech G27/Thrustmaster TX 458/T500RS and more! As a result, the game will automatically map all the key functions to your wheel of choice without having to waste time with manual tweaking.

Not only that, the game engine’s speed will not be tied to the framerate like its predecessor and allow for an uncapped framerate. This is a wonderful choice and means players with 144Hz monitors can enjoy the benefits of such a high refresh rate. On another note, Need For Speed has natively support 4K monitors and looks absolutely fantastic due to the superb texture quality. Although, there’s no current information regarding 21:9 monitors and how well the UI will scale.

While the PC version is facing a significant delay compared to the console editions, it seems worthwhile given the added visual quality and smooth frame-rate. Furthermore, the PC version includes both the Icons and Legends update from day one! Currently, it’s scheduled to release on March 15th but Origin Access members can play the game early for a limited time, starting March 10th. To mark this occasion, EA has released a trailer showing in-game footage. Although, it’s a shame that the captured video is recorded at a maximum resolution of 1080P. Whatever the case, I cannot wait to try Need For Speed on PC, and preparing my wheel setup for its release.

AOC Introduces U2879VF 4K UHD Monitor

UHD 4K resolution monitors are the best thing that happened to productivity since the introduction of multi-monitor setups simply due to the extended amount of displayable pixels. Having more pixels on the screen allows you to view a lot of things at once and have a lot bigger area visible when using extreme zooms for close-up edits and that saves a lot of unnecessary switching between apps and scrolling around. There already are quite a few 4K displays on the market by now, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for one more in the form of AOC’s newly introduced 4K UHD monitor U2879VF.

The new AOC U2879VF can display more than 1 billion colours (8-bit+FRC) with its 28-inch (71.1 cm) TN panel for a resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is coupled with an ultra-fast response time of just 1 ms and the U2879VF also features Adaptive-Sync support and is thereby FreeSync compatible. While 4K still is somewhat of a gimmick when it comes to gaming, those who use it will surely appreciate this feature and the low input lag that comes along with it.

The monitor comes with both modern and legacy connectors as it features HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2a+ as well as DVI and D-Sub. Especially the HDMI 2.0 port is a great thing to see and one that has been missing on other monitors in this category in the past. The increased bandwidth of up to 18 Gbps makes it able to deliver 60fps 4K content on this port too. The HDMI port is also MHL compatible which allows you to display content directly from a smartphone or tablet device while charging its battery at the same time.

AOC also added their Flicker-Free technology to the monitor to ease the eye strain during long periods of work. A Picture by Picture (PBP) function has also been added which makes it possible to view content from two input sources at the same time.

The AOC U2879VF has a planned availability set for March 2016 and an MSRP of £279.99.