Akasa Plato X Slim Fanless Chassis i5/i7 NUC Chassis Review

Introduction


We’ve got a great change of pace for you today, as we’ve broken away from the standard motherboard form factors for something a little more compact. I am of course talking about the Intel NUC motherboards, which may be tiny, but still pack a huge range of features, high-end processors such as the i5 and i7 ranges and enough connectivity to satisfy the needs of a whole range of usage scenarios.

Akasa are the masters of integrated systems and their range of NUC products is virtually unmatched by their chassis making rivals. The model we have in today, the Plato X, is super slim and despite its completely fanless design, it has enough cooling potential to chill a 5th Gen Core i7 NUC board.

• Aluminium fanless CPU cooling design
• Stylish front panel diamond effect
• Support one serial port
• Support IR remote function
• Compatible with the following Intel® NUC Board
NUC5i7RYH / NUC5i5RYH / NUC5i5RYK / NUC5i3RYH / NUC5i3RYK
NUC5i5MYBE / NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE / NUC5i3MYHE

In terms of spec, this little chassis is well equipped, with room for a single 2.5″ HDD/SSD, but you can squeeze some M.2 drives on your compatible NUC board should you need to.

The chassis is constructed from aluminium, which not only looks stunning with its black finish and silver time highlights on the edges of the front panel, but it also doubles up as the heatsink for the CPU. The entire chassis is designed to provide passive cooling for the internal hardware and that’s why the length of the chassis is so much longer than the 4-inch motherboard, to help better handle the heat of a high-end chip, such as the i7.

The right and left side of the chassis as the same; black aluminium from front to back.

The front panel is gorgeous, good enough to look at home as part of a sleek HTPC setup without being distracting while you’re watching a movie. It’s well equipped too, with a pair of high-speed USB 3.0 ports, an HD audio jack and the usual power buttons.

Around the back, you’ll find the motherboard I/O ports and two rubber pegs that can be removed to allow you to use Wi-Fi antenna.

There’s even a second backplate included in the box for i5 NUC boards, as well as offering support for COM port, something that’s still very widely used for a lot of industrial applications.

The top panel is held in place with four small screws, running down the middle of the top of the chassis.

The base of the chassis is nice and simple, but if you look closely you’ll see a few screw holes. There’s a mounting kit included, perfect for stealth mounting the unit or fitting it to a compatible VESA bracket.

Akasa MAX MT Fanless NUC Chassis Review

Introduction


Big chassis get all of the fame and glory, but there are a lot of cool things happening in the world of ultra-compact chassis. Akasa is one of the biggest names when it comes to the smallest products and their range of NUC chassis is virtually unmatched. With Intel offering up some truly incredibly NUC motherboards, packing many of the latest Intel Core products, M.2 memory support, USB 3.0 and so much more, there’s now a huge range of applications for this type of system, at home in the workplace and beyond.

• Aluminium fanless CPU cooling design
• Stylish front panel diamond effect
• Two bay 2.5″ SATA mobile tray
• Support one serial port
• Support IR remote function
• Compatible with the following Intel® NUC Board
NUC5i5MYBE / NUC5i5MYHE / NUC5i3MYBE / NUC5i3MYHE
NUC5i5RYH / NUC5i5RYK / NUC5i3RYH / NUC5i3RYK

With full aluminium construction, support for a range of NUC boards, a compact form factor, dual 2.5″ drive trays and more, the MAX MT is certainly appealing, but let’s dive right in and take a closer look at what this chassis has to offer.

There are all kinds of accessories included in the box, included a second backplate to expand the motherboard compatibility, a pass through cable for COM connectors, a short and slim SATA cable and more.

The chassis is made from thick and beautifully machined aluminium, with a sleek black finish. While this does add to the aesthetics, the construction is incredibly practical too, as it is durable and the whole bulk of the chassis acts as a passive heat sink for the CPU, allowing it run completely silent.

Down each side of the chassis, you’ll see a fin array, this gives us a greater surface area to help dissipate heat.

The front panel is certainly interesting. As much as this chassis is designed to be tucked out of the way, it’s still very attractive and I’d have no issues have it out on show as part of my desktop setup or a home AV setup and the trimmed silver edges of the front panel certainly add to the appeal.

Aside from the IR port, the power button, USB and the HD audio, you’ll also notice the most important feature of this chassis; dual 2.5″ drive bays. These can be opened at the front, allowing for easy hot-swapping of 2.5″ drives, making this a great option for a compact NAS, workstation or HTPC.

around the back, you’ll find a com port, motherboard I/O, two rubber pegs which can be removed to mount WiFi antenna and a Kensington lock fitting. Of course, you can also swap this backplate for the other included in the box, which offers support for some other NUC motherboards.

across the top, even more thick fins in the aluminium, which will help improve the cooling performance even more, but also keeps the design uniform with the sides of the chassis.

The base of the chassis is compatible with VESA mounting kits, meaning you can easily install it on a bracket, on the back of a compatible monitor or TV and a whole host of other places. There are four screws here too, as the base is the only access point for installing your hardware.

New Asus RG6 ROG Console is Powered by Intel Broadwell and GTX 960M

If you wanted a powerhouse console for your living room, Asus just came forth with a solution. The company just announced its RG6 ROG console-inspired gaming PC, featuring a minimalistic and extremely silent design.

The RG6 looks to maintain the company’s Republic of Gamers design and is powered by an Intel i5 5th Gen Broadwell CPU, 8GB DDR3L which is also upgradeable to 16GB, Nvidia’s GTX 960M graphics solution and even comes with an optional SSD slot. The company looks to have added one of their ROG M801 keyboard and Sica RA01 mouse in the bundle too.

Aside from its ultra-silent operating environment, outputting 20dB in idle and 28 dB in full-load, the RG6 comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Intel Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst III that aims to provide lag-free connectivity. In terms of connectivity, the gaming-PC comes with a HDMI and DisplayPort output, four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports that also feature a USB Charger option.

When it comes to the audio, the RG6 comes with the SupremeFX ELNA audio capacitors that offer to connect you system with either the HDMI or S/PDIF optical port. In addition to the latter, audio jacks are available on both the front and back of the console. Its Sonic Studio also aims to help you personalize sound modes and te equalizer.

Asus’ RG6 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and has support for Steam Big Picture Launcher out-of-the-box, even if you choose to use just a game-pad controller, giving user an additional option to add the SteamOS just as easily after the console is officially launched.

Other features include AI Suite III that lets you customize the system’s settings, a 100GB ASUS WebStorage for a year, the HomeCloud that lets you access the console remotely and a one-year license for Kaspersky’s antivirus software.

There is still no word on pricing or availability for the Asus RG6, but more news on this matter is bound to be released soon.

Images courtesy of ASUS ROG

Intel Announced 5th Gen Core vPro Processor Family Availability

Intel officially announced the availability of its 5th generation Intel Core vPro 14nm processor family that’s designed for the rapidly shifting workplace and create a more dynamic workflow. The new generation offers wireless innovations, built-in security, faster performance and improved manageability.

The three specific key areas Intel has focused on are PC design innovation, Wireless Display, and Wireless Docking. Businesses can choose from a ‘never before seen’ PC designs across 2-in-1s, Ultrabooks, Ultrathin Clamshells, and Mini PCs with up to twice the battery life and more than twice the performance.

“Our goal is to enable all users to simply work better by offsetting the growing challenges of today’s businesses,” said Tom Garrison, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Business Client Platforms. “With new devices based on 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors, we aim to transform the user experience by helping them compute from virtually anywhere without the clutter and burden of wires.”

Intel Pro Wireless Display (WiDi) turns presentations and conference rooms into a cable-free zone. It supports key IT requirements such as wireless channel management to mitigate network congestion risk and security vulnerabilities, and the ability to efficiently update and manage adapters remotely.

Intel’s Wireless Docking allows users to be connected and ready to work the moment they walk up to their desk. This secure and manageable, wire-free technology is based on Intel’s Wireless Gigabit technology and enables systems to automatically dock to monitors, keyboards, mice, and USB accessories, all wireless.

The 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors also provide hardware-enhanced security and manageability capabilities. When paired with the Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series, ‘IT departments can implement built-in data encryption capabilities, while users enjoy protection so smart, they’ll never feel the difference’.

New 2 in 1s, Ultrabooks, Ultrathin Clamshells, and Mini PCs based on 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors are available now from 12 leading PC manufacturers with more expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Thanks to Intel for providing us with this information

Latest Intel Graphics Drivers Enhanced for 4th and 5th gen Core Processors

Timed for the release of the 5th generation of Intel Core processors, Intel released a new version of their graphics drivers that also brings along a long row of benefits for the current 4th generation.

Benefits of updating to this driver include addition of video playback of VP9 video format, for Chrome video playback and Google Hangouts for example, through partial hardware acceleration. Accelerated decoding of the HEVC video format for 4K Ultra HD video playback with both 8-bit and 10-bit support was added as well as and expanded Open CL and Open GL extension support.

Intel also fixed a long row of issues ranging from log off screens being displayed when changing display mode to ordinary bluescreen situations and issues with a long row of games such as Call of Duty, Quake 4, Sleeping Dogs, AC:Unity and more.

You can view a list of changes in the Release Notes and download the new drivers from Intel’s official website for 32bit and 64bit systems.

Thanks to Intel for providing us with this information

MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition Finally Available

It’s been a while since we were first teased by MSI with their amazing looking Z79S SLI Krait Edition motherboard. Some might have forgotten about it in all of the recent news and reviews surround the Intel X99 chipset and CPU’s, Nvidia GTX 980 and iPhone 6 launch, so it’s time to bring it back to the light.

It’s been the number one request from the modding community for a while; we want more and different colour schemes. Red and Black, while a great combo, has been done to much and by everyone. Other than this, there aren’t that many colour choices, with some blue, some orange, but no black’n’white up until now. MSI dare to be different.

Just a couple of hours ago, MSI announced via their Facebook page that the motherboard is finally available. I couldn’t find any shops that carry it yet, so I guess they mean it’s available for the distributors and retailers to order. Still, it’s getting very close and I can almost hear how every modder in the world is getting anxious and excited with the prospect of this motherboard. The fantasies and modding ideas are starting to run wild, and it has to be channelled into something productive very soon.

The PCB is beautiful on it’s own; a black finish everywhere in combination with the white PCI express and RAM slots. The white accents on the chipset and VRM coolers increases the depth of the otherwise simple layout.

The board isn’t shy on functions either. It supports the 4th and 5th Geneneration Intel Core Pentium and Celeron processors for the LGA 1150 socket. It has four memory slots that support up to DDR3-3300 (OC) on a dual channel setup. Further it has two PCI-E x16 Gen3 slots (16,0) (8,8) and three PCIe x1. For the legacy support it has two normal PCI slots as well. Of course this board supports both SLI and CrossFire for your fancy multi-GPU setups.

There is plenty of options for storage as well with six SATA3 ports that can run in RAID 0/1/5/10, one SATA Express and one M.2 port. It has a total of six USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0 ports as well as a Realtek 8111G Gigabit LAN and Realtec ALC892 7.1 surround-sound chip. The iGPU supports VGA, HDMI and DVI output with multi-monitor support and a maximum shared memory of 1760 MB. I doubt many people will use the iGPU on a board like this, but it’s still nice to have the option.

It uses the Military Class 4 components for increased lifespan and decreased power consumption and has circuit protection for CPU and USB devices. The OC Genie 4 helps with easy overclocking at the push of a button. It also has the Click BIOS 4, the latest in MSI’s UEFI BIOS.

Are you hooked on this board too? Then head over to our forums for a view of not one, but two amazing looking mods with this motherboard. The first is the MSI Krait Edition Case Mod by Jesse Palacio and the second is Kraitskin by CalegaR1. Both mods were posted by our good friend RawZ from MSI.

Thank you MSI for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of MSI

Biostar Announce Hi-Fi Z97WE Motherboard

As we draw closer to the launch of Intel’s 5th Generation chipset and the launch of the Haswell-refresh processors, images and details on each vendors motherboards is continually coming to light; the latest coming from Biostar. Although there is no printed specifications on what the board has to offer, we can take quite a bit of information by looking at he board itself. The first item we have to detail however is the colour scheme. When Asus came to launch their Haswell X87 boards last year, the decision to use a gold / yellow theme across the heatsinks and DIMM / PCIe lanes was quite controversial with many people, including myself to be honest not quite taking to the scheme. Biostar however don’t appear to be afraid of this hatred and thus we get a yellow / gold mismatch that would certainly be popular in the far east, as opposed to the European markets where blue, orange, green and red is more popular.

Connectivity wise the Hi-Fi board offers, two PCIe x16 lanes in yellow with two x1 lanes in black along with a pair of legacy PCI lanes for backwards compatibility, four DIMM slots which we imagine will support up to 32GB of 2800MHz+ RAM like most other boards, 6 SATA III ports and an onboard M.2 adaptor for the next generation SSDs. Additionally the USB3.0 header has been moved back to the side of the board – something which confused us considerably when we saw the Z77 Hi-Fi board come to market a couple of years back. As the name suggests we also have the Puro Hi-Fi onboard audio controller with Hi-Fi AMPs and Caps for the best 7.1ch audio that Biostar have to offer.

On the I/O panel we find dual Gigabit LAN, four USB3.0 ports, two USB2.0, HDMI, DVI and VGA display outputs supporting 4K resolutions, a PS/2 combo port and 7.1ch audio with a S/PDIF output for good measure.

Obviously the colour scheme is a little marmite with a few of us here not liking the colours that much, however as always there are people who will like it; either way be sure to keep an eye out of a full review on this board when the 5th Gen chipset is launched in the next few weeks.

Source: Biostar