ASUS Unveils The GT51CA ROG Gaming PC

In the current gaming PC market, there’s a huge amount of companies to choose from offering pre-configured PC builds at very respectable price points. This allows those without technical expertise to acquire a gaming rig with good cable management and an attractive aesthetic design. ASUS’ Republic of Gamers range initially began as a premium motherboard brand opting for the very best components. Since then it’s expanded into peripherals, graphics cards, gaming laptops and much more! Yesterday, ASUS unveiled their latest gaming desktop sporting the ROG brand which features a 6th generation Intel core i7 processor with Turbo Gear functionality to enable an overclock in a single click. The cheaper model utilizes a core i5-6600K and can be overclocked to 4.3GHz while the higher end model has a core i7-6700K and reaches speeds of 4.6GHz. On another note, the GT51CA’s base model has a GTX 970 and can be upgraded all the way up to two GTX Titan X cards in SLI.

The system is bundled with up to two 512GB NVMe drives in a RAID0 configuration capable of staggering data speeds around 3.2 Gbps. The base package contains 16GB 2133MHZ DDR4 memory which can be overclocked to 2400MHz. Please note, the memory is upgradable to 64GB if you require additional performance. The 64GB higher end option allows for overclocks up to 2800MHz.

Effective cooling for stable marathon gaming sessions
The ROG GT51CA delivers efficient heat management for stable high-performance gaming sessions. It boasts a multi-zone thermal solution that lowers the system’s internal temperatures by up to 31%, even during heavy-load marathon gaming sessions.

It features the liquid-cooled Hydro Overclocking System for the CPU and dedicated air channels to draw cool air into the chassis for the graphics card. In addition, its power supply unit – situated in the bottom corner of the chassis – also has its own isolated airflow design for cooling.

Aggressive, award-winning design
The ROG GT51CA has a bold aerodynamic-inspired design with aggressive, sharp-angled polygonal edges, smooth surfaces, and a fully-functional turbine-like air intake on its front panel. The latter features a pulse-width modulation (PWM) fan that draws air into the cooling system. Inside, a carefully thought-out design ensures perfectly neat cable routing.

The ROG GT51CA is designed to impress, with dynamic 8-million-color LED effects in 4 zones across its chassis, and a preset OC lighting mode that is activated whenever the system is overclocked. ROG GT51CA’s bold design helped it win a 2016 iF Design Award and a 2016 CES Innovation Award.

Additional gaming enhancements
The ROG GT51CA boasts an ESS Sabre headphone DAC and amplifier on its front audio jack to give users incredible audiophile-grade sound. It provides high dynamic range (DNR) and low noise levels for rich audio with less distortion.

The wearable ROG BAND gives users access to Shadow Drive – a hidden hard drive space for managing personal and confidential data safely. ROG BAND can also be used to activate overclocking mode.

The ASUS-exclusive AEGIS II application lets gamers monitor system performance, record and edit gameplay with Gamecaster, and easily share their gaming experiences on social media.

Unfortunately, there’s no information regarding price, but don’t expect it to be cheap given the impressive specification and ROG styling.

ASUS MG24UQ and MG28UQ Monitor Review

Introduction


ASUS has rapidly become a dominant force in the gaming monitor sector due to the popularity of its ROG range. According to Digitimes, the company has seen a staggering growth rate of 30 percent throughout Europe in 2015. Models such as the PG278Q, commonly referred to the ROG Swift beautifully catered towards users requiring a high refresh monitor and G-Sync functionality. This combination proved to be extraordinarily successful and inspired future products such as the PG279Q. The advent of responsive IPS panels featuring enhanced viewing angles and colour reproduction compared to their TN counterparts, forged a new audience for the ROG series.

Today, we’re taking a look at the company’s latest gaming monitors which opt for FreeSync technology instead of the NVIDIA’s proprietary alternative. As a result, these products provide a fluid user experience at a more digestible price point. The MG24UQ utilizes a 4K IPS panel, 4ms response time and 178 degree viewing angles. This is targeted towards consumers who enjoy stunning image quality and yearn for a high pixels per inch display. In contrast to this, the MG28UQ is based on TN technology and has a 1ms response time. While the colour gamut isn’t as impressive on TN monitors, they have a quicker response time and better suited towards professional gamers. Of course, it’s all about your individual priorities and whether you care more about image quality or responsiveness.

Packaging and Features

ASUS MG24UQ

Firstly, it’s important to note that the press samples I received contain the MG24U and MG28U branding. After performing extensive research, I discovered these are now known under the UQ title instead for retail channels so please disregard the box’s naming scheme. As you can see, the packaging adopts a really bold, stylish design and lists the monitor’s key features.

The monitor’s base and cables are housed within the top section to allow for easy access. On another note, the hardened polystyrene inserts offer superb protection and ensures the display arrives in perfect condition.

ASUS gaming monitors incorporate a number of unique features including:

Rather bizarrely, the information here is incorrect and the PPI rate should read 185.


ASUS MG28UQ

The 28-inch model utilises identical packaging apart from the 1ms response time icon.

Here we can see the larger variant has a lower ppi rate, 1ms response time and USB 3.0 hub.

ASUS Adds Broadwell-E Support to X99 Motherboards

Last week, we saw the first sign of support for Intel’s upcoming Broadwell-E CPUs. MSI was the first out of the gate with their announcement of new BIOS revisions to support Intel’s new line of Extreme CPUs followed by ASRock. Today, ASUS has announced their own support for Broadwell-E with new BIOS releases for their X99 series of motherboards. With 3 motherboard vendors offering support, Intel much be releasing their chips soon.

For most of the lineup, the new 3004 BIOS will be the one adding support. Interestingly, the Rampage IV and Rampage IV/U3.1 will have to rely on the 3007 BETA BIOS. I don’t know about you, but a beta BIOS doesn’t sound all that safe. In order to upgrade their firmware, users can either use the built-in EZ Flash 2 utility from within the BIOS or the USB BIOS Flashback/ROG Connect button from outside the system.

As we know, Broadwell-E will include the massive i7-6950X with 10 cores and 20 threads with 25MB of L3. The monster of a chip will also come with an equally massive price tag to match. The rest of the lineup will consist of the Core i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K with the usual 6 and 8 core offerings. With Zen rumoured to peak at 8 cores for the consumer market, the 6950X may reign supreme for quite a while.

ASUS Announces ROG Spatha Gaming Mouse

ASUS’ Republic of Gamers range is one of their most successful divisions and continues to attract a very loyal following. The ROG brand has come on a long way since the emergence of gaming focussed motherboards with a specialized set of features. In today’s market, the ROG series covers motherboards, graphics cards, gaming mice and I’m sure there’s more to come in the future. Recently, ASUS unveiled their latest flagship gaming mouse entitled the ROG Spatha. This particular product opts for a striking design and employs a magnesium alloy chassis. There’s also RGB illumination in three independent zones which creates a spectacular appearance.

The Spatha can be used as a wired or wireless mouse and features a 8200DPI laser sensor with the ability to track 30g (gravitational) acceleration, 150 ips (inches per second) and at 2000Hz for polling rate (in wired mode, 1000Hz for wireless). Unfortunately, there’s no information from the press release stating which specific sensor is being used. Other features into 12 programmable buttons, soft side grips, replaceable Omron switches with a lifespan of 20 million clicks. A 2-level DPI switches with LED indicator acts a sniper mode to change sensitivity on-the-fly. The magnetic charging dock contains a battery level meter to easily keep a check on the device’s remaining battery life. ASUS’ Armoury software suite allows you to alter various attributes including acceleration/deceleration, lift-off distance, six lighting modes (where each of the three zones can display its own effect), and more.

ASUS ROG Spatha Specifications

  • Connectivity: Wireless RF 2.4GHz, Wired via USB 2.0
  • Tracking resolution: 8200DPI laser sensor
  • Tracking speed: 150 inches per second
  • Tracking acceleration: 30g
  • Responsiveness: 2000Hz polling rate (in wired mode), 1000 Hz polling rate (in wireless mode)
  • Switch: OMRON D2FC-F-7N(20M) with 20-million-click lifespan, Additional OMRON D2F-01F switches included, *Compatible switches: OMRON D2F Series switches: D2F, D2F-F, D2F-01, D2F-01F, OMRON D2FC Series switches: D2FC-3M, D2FC-F-7N, D2FC-F-7N(10M) , D2FC-F-7N(20M)
  • Cables: 2m braided USB cable, 1m rubber USB cable
  • OS compatibility: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7
  • Size: 137 x 89 x 45mm
  • Weight: 175g (without cable)
  • Package contents: 1 x wireless receiver/ charging dock, 1 x 2-meter braided USB cable, 1 x 1-meter regular rubber USB cable, 2 x Japanese-made Omron switches, 1 x ROG hard carry case, 2 x ROG logo stickers, 1 x screwdriver, User documentation

ASUS ZenBook Flip to Utilize Intel Core M CPUs

Portable 2-in-1 hybrid ultrabooks provide exceptional flexibility for consumers wanting a thin form factor to easily complete rudimentary tasks while travelling. Even though they’re lacking in the power department, hybrid devices allow you to use touch screen functionality in tablet mode or adopt a normal seating position when typing. I honestly see this as a major development in consumer laptops and believe they might bridge the gap between the mobile and PC market. According to a leak from BenchLife, ASUS will unveil their next line up of ultrabooks sporting various hardware configurations very soon.

The ZenBook Flip features a 13.3-inch display and will be available with either a 1920×1080 panel or whopping 3200×1800 resolution. Furthermore, the range is rumoured to launch on April 7th and despite its name, use Intel’s M series of CPUs. The basic setup includes a Core M3-6Y30 dual core processor with a 900MHz base and Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz. The mid-range Core M5-6Y54 dual core processor utilizes a base speed of 1.1GHz, and Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz. Finally, the high-end Core M7-6Y75 processor has a base speed of 1.2 GHz, and Turbo Boost reaching a maximum of 3.1GHz.

Other specifications include the choice between 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 memory and a wide range of SSD capacities. You can select a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB capacity which opts for the M.2 interface. The device will weigh a very respectable 1.3KG, contain two USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, MicroHDMI and an SD card reader. Unfortunately, there’s no current wording regarding the price but at least there’s only a few days until the official launch. Given the upcoming launch of AMD’s Zen architecture and new Intel CPUs on the horizon, I might have expected a staggered release. Nevertheless, I’m interested to see the performance numbers and how well the product line copes with daily tasks.

ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction

ASUS have compiled a comprehensive Z170 motherboard range which caters to different sections of the consumer market. For example, the GAMING PRO line-up offers superb functionality and impeccable stability at an affordable price point. ROG products evoke a more premium feel and includes a stunning software suite for power users. The Sabertooth brand revolves around a stringent testing procedure to ensure each motherboard exhibits unprecedented reliability. The extreme thermal testing and deployment of TUF components prioritizes long-term durability. As a result, it’s a great option for consumers who demand a very high-end motherboard and have no intentions of upgrading in the near future.

Typically, motherboards opt for a red and black colour scheme because it’s the most popular option among the core gaming audience. Some time ago, ASUS unleashed the limited edition Z97 Sabertooth Mark S which utilizes an innovative white PCB and military camouflage. It’s quite rare to see motherboard sporting a white theme and while there is some competition from the MSI Krait series, ASUS is the only manufacturer to offer a pure white PCB.

The Sabertooth Z170 S is the spiritual successor to the Z97 Sabertooth Mark S and features a very unusual design philosophy. When adopting such a wacky colour scheme, it’s bound to have a polarizing reception and I’m fascinated to hear feedback on ASUS’ aesthetic choices. Looking beyond the visual aspects, I’m expecting to see some very impressive numbers given the premium electronics and DIGI+ Power Control.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

The motherboard’s box is characterized by a white finish and contains camouflage highlights. This provides a great insight into the product’s unconventional styling and creates a web of intrigue. On the front, information regarding the 5 year warranty is displayed in a clear manner.

Moving onto the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the product’s thermal radar monitoring made possible by the TUF ICe processor. On another note, the packaging outlines the rear I/O connectivity and basic motherboard layout.

Included in the package is a user’s guide, M.2 screws, driver’s disk, case badge, certificate of reliability, stickers and a gorgeous white I/O shield. As someone who loves the technical details of motherboards, it’s fantastic to read the reliability assessment document. Here, you can browse information regarding a huge array of tests such as moisture resistance, thermal shock, solder bath, salt spray and more!

There’s also four SATA cables, a Q Connector, CPU installation tool, back I/O dust cover and SLI bridge. The Q Connector is a really handy tool which eliminates the frustration factor when attaching front panel headers. Furthermore, the CPU installation tool is designed to minimize the contact time and pressure between your fingers and the CPU. While it’s not necessary for veteran builders, it could prevent beginners from causing damage during the build process.

ASUS Travelair N Wireless 1TB Hard Disk Review

Introduction


When it comes to storage you can either go the ordinary and boring route, or you can opt for something that breaks with the norm with more features than you would expect. I’m taking a closer look at ASUS’ Travelair N today which is a portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive that also works wirelessly with a built-in access point, comes with an SD card reader built-in, and has One-Touch NFC capabilities on top of the 1TB storage capacity.

The ASUS Travelair N ‏(WHD-A2) is a 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive at heart and that in itself isn’t without. You can easily carry 500 movies, thousands of photos, songs, and files with you where ever you go. An ordinary portable drive has some limitations on the road, mainly the connection interface. What if you would like to access the drive from your mobile phone or tablet? What if you are far from a power outlet? Well, that is no problem with the Travelair N that comes with built-in wireless network capabilities and a battery.

Using the 2.4GHz band, the Travelair N can connect to pretty much any wireless devices available. It is compatible with IEEE 802.11b, g, and n-style connections which cover the entire spectrum of the wireless band. The antennas are internal, so you don’t need to worry about connecting them or breaking them off either. The Travelair N uses enterprise-level WPA2 wireless security to connect with your smart phone or tablet, ensuring all of your content is kept private and secure.

Not only does it come with built-in wireless capabilities, the drive also features a built-in 3300 mAh battery that is rated for up to 8-hours usage. This should be plenty of time until you’re near a charging ability again.

And no, ASUS didn’t stop here and added more features to this drive. The Travelair N supports NFC technology for instant one-touch connection to supported devices without any configuration needs. Simply touch your NFC-supported smart phone or tablet to the drive and you can browse your media library and files straight away.

The final feature of the drive itself is the built-in SD card slot that lets you back up your data from memory cards with simple steps. This is the perfect solution to empty the memory cards onto a larger storage medium and keep shooting those photos while you got the opportunity.

ASUS created the AiDrive companion app which is available on almost any platform: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android devices. The app features an intuitive user interface to let you quickly and easily view and share your photos, videos, and files.

The Travelair N can connect with up to five devices simultaneously when transferring files and up to three devices when streaming movies in HD quality. This allows you to easily share a single drive between multiple systems, devices, and people.

A portable drive needs to have a better resistance to environmental hazards and the Travelair N features an IP43-rated water-resistant design. This should guarantee a protection from accidental splashes and spills onto the drive.

With all the talk about USB 3.0 for PC connections and wireless for mobile devices, we shouldn’t forget that we also can connect a drive like this to all our other smart devices with USB or wireless capabilities, may they be gaming consoles, smart TVs, or something else.

Feature Highlights

  • One-Touch NFC for easy connection
  • Integrated SD Card reader expands storage capacity
  • Connect up to five devices simultaneously
  • Splash-proof design with IP43 water resistance
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use companion app

Package and Accessories

ASUS packed the Travelair N in a horizontal shaped box which is unlike most that come more square. That’s very fitting for a drive like this that is anything but ordinary. The front will let you know what you purchase in a simplistic design including features and capacity.

On the rear of the box, you find a lot more details to the different functions such as environmental protection, wifi, and NFC.

Inside the box was a USB 3.0 cable, a warranty card and safety notice as well as the quick start guide. Normally there would also be an AD/DC power adapter for charging purposes, but that was missing in my review sample.

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.

Asus Launches MG24UQ 24-Inch Ultra HD Monitor

Even though it doesn’t boast the famed ROG branding, the new MG24UQ monitor by ASUS can definitely be used for gaming, as it comes with a series of gaming-orientated features such as ASUS GamePlus and ASUS GameVisual. The first feature provides a series of six different display presets that were designed for different game genres while the second feature minimizes LED flicker and blue light in order to ensure a more comfortable gaming experience. Other highlights of this ASUS product include a 23.6-inch 4K Ultra HD IPS panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, as well as a response time of just 4ms.

Then there’s the dynamic mega contrast ratio, the 300 cd/m² maximum brightness, the maximum color depth of 16.7 million and the wide color gamut with 100% sRGB coverage. When it comes to input, the MG24UQ features DisplayPort 1.2 and an HDMI 2.0 port, which should definitely cover the needs of the average gamer. A possible downside could be the 60Hz refresh rate, but given the fact that we’re talking about a 4K monitor, albeit a relatively small one, this isn’t likely to make gaming impossible. No word on pricing just yet, but since it is not a part of the brand’s ROG lineup, this product is likely to be relatively affordable.

Image courtesy of ASUS.

ASUS RP-AC56 Dual-Band Wireless AC1200 Range Extender Review

Introduction


When you invest in a wireless network repeater in order to increase your range and cover dead spots in your home, you can either go for a run-of-the-mill unit that provides you with the basic functionality or you can go all out and get a device like ASUS’ RP-AC56 wireless dual-band AC1200 range extender and access point. The ASUS RP-AC56 is anything but ordinary and today I’ll take a closer look at everything this little device has to offer.

The ASUS RP-AC56 can extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps and thanks to its two external antennas it will have a great ability to enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere. But it does a lot more than that, it also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port for even more connectivity as well as a 3.5mm audio jack for music streaming.

The dual-band repeater supports both the legacy 2.4GHz band and the newer 5GHz band for AC1200 speeds. The two external antennas support MIMO for the best connection even when multiple devices use it at the same time. With speeds up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band you can get close to what a wire connection has to offer, at least with the proper signal strength and isn’t that just the reason that we want a device such as the RP-AC56.

ASUS made sure that the setup is as easy as it can be, all it takes is a push of a button thanks the easy WPS setup. Hit the button on your router and then on the repeater, wait for a little bit, and the connection will be established. And that really is all you need to do, but you can do more. The LEDs on the front don’t just show which network band is being used, they also show the signal strength in three steps (Red, Yellow, Green) which in return allows you to find the perfect position for maximum coverage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf-0m-BMyo0

As previously mentioned, the RP-AS56 comes with a convenient Gigabit Ethernet LAN port built-in and the function of it depends on the usage of the RP-AC56. The flexibly designed device can work as a normal repeater, but it can also work as a wireless access point or as a media bridge. In access point mode it can be connected to any wired network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. In media bridge mode it can be connected to any Ethernet-compatible device to give it Wi-Fi capability where it didn’t before.

The LAN port can also be used for easy access to the web-based configuration menu without the need for any driver disc or application, but it isn’t something that is needed. You can naturally also set it up wirelessly from devices such as your tablet or smartphone.

You can also connect speakers directly to the RP-AC56 wireless repeater and stream your favorite music direct from any mobile device that has the ASUS AiPlayer app installed. It is compatible with a wide range of multimedia formats and delivers a smooth and effortless streaming experience. The AiPlayer app is available from the App Store and Google Play and it also works for streaming without extra software when used from a Mac and iOS device.

Additionally, the RP-AC56 also supports ASUS’ ExpressWay feature that uses the dual-band capabilities to create an efficient connection with improved reliability. In normal mode, the repeater uses the two bands simultaneously for connecting to devices for the widest compatibility. ExpressWay can dedicate one band for connecting to the router and the other band for connecting to the device as long as one of them supports the 5GHz band. It also features the hassle-free Roaming Assist technology. With this enabled, you never have to switch connections manually between RP-AC56 and your ASUS router as you move around the home. Your device will connect automatically to the strongest Wi-Fi signal whether it’s from the router or the repeater.

Features

  • Extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps.
  • Two external antennas enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere.
  • Quick and secure setup with just a press of the WPS button.
  • Smart LED signal indicator helps you find the best location for optimum Wi-Fi performance.
  • Rotating mains plug for flexible positioning in any power socket. (Not in all regions)
  • ASUS AiPlayer app for streaming music, with multi-protocol support.
  • ASUS ExpressWay uses full-speed device connections to boost performance.
  • Roaming Assist helps you to get a stable connection everywhere in the home or office.

Packaging and Accessories

The ASUS RP-AC56 comes in a great looking retail box that shows how the device looks on the front where it also shows the main features and highlights the Android and iOS support.

The rear of the box explains what the device does and how you can utilize it. It also showcases the AiPlayer for wireless streaming and more details on the features. Overall it’s a great box where you shouldn’t be left with any questions as to what the device you’re holding in your hands can do.

Inside the box, we find a quick start guide and ASUS VIP Member Warranty Notice in multiple languages as well as a 3.5mm audio cable to connect the repeater to an amplifier or speaker set.

New ASUS GTX 950 Ditches PCIe Power Connector

Maxwell has been Nvidia’s most efficient GPU architecture to date, offering great performance/watt. While the lower end cards aren’t quite as power efficient as some of their bigger siblings, the GTX 950 is as good as it gets, offering decent 1080p performance at 90W. That, however, is set to change as Nvidia is preparing a 75W GTX 950, one that ASUS is launching first.

Due to the fact that it only requires 75W, the ASUS 950 can afford to draw all of its power straight from the PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, cutting down on cable clutter and PSU requirements. Despite losing out on power headroom, ASUS has still managed to give the card a factory OC mode of 1051 MHz Base and 1228 MHz Boost A more tame default Gaming mode has it at 1026 MHz Base and 1190 MHz Boost. This all the while keeping the same GM206 core of 768 CUDA cores, 64 texture mapping units, 32 ROPs and a standard 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM.While the boost clocks are pretty good, it’s important to keep in mind that those are the max figures and with the cut-down power delivery, it’s unlikely the card will keep or even hit those numbers, especially under load. As with all silicon, Nvidia and ASUS is either binning chips heavily, 28nm is getting much better (unlikely this late into the node) or simply cutting enough voltage while maintaining base clock speeds.

This late into the generation, it looks like Nvidia is prepping for an efficiency battle with AMD’s upcoming Polaris which set to be many times more efficient than current GCN cards. The new GTX 950 may have to do battle on it’s own for a while till Nvidia get their own competing Pascal cards out.

ASUS Agrees to Regular Security Audits

ASUS are a well-known brand for technology, creating everything from laptops to gaming mice. One thing people may not realise is that ASUS are also a maker of wireless technology, something that has unfortunately gotten them into trouble in the past.

ASUS, a Taiwanese manufacturer of hardware, once stated that their devices could “protect computers from any unauthorized access, hacking and virus attacks”. This is something you should never say, for anything, especially computer security. As a result of this, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) found several flaws in their routers security, some of which were described as critical.

Using the security flaws, it would have been possible that people could gain unauthorised access to the web based control panels, granting you access to information regarding the wireless network and the possibility to even install viruses or malware directly to the router.

This history of bad security should change now though with ASUS agreeing to the FTC’s condition that it subject itself to biannually security audits of its software, while also notifying its users when the latest update is available. It will also cost them in the future if they decide to make another “promise” which turns out to be false, with each violation costing them a staggering $16,000.

Gladiator Computers APOCALYPSE Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Aria is one of the leading technology retailers in the UK and stocks a huge range of components from luxury 21:9 3440×1440 monitors to extremely affordable pre-assembled gaming PCs. Their custom PC range falls under the GLADIATOR brand and aims to provide an enthralling gaming experience while offering superb customer satisfaction. Clearly, any system is a considered purchase, and it’s vital to have your initial investment backed by a comprehensive warranty. Thankfully, Gladiator supports their builds with a 4-year labour and 1-year parts guarantee. This level of service is often a key selling point for consumers without any hardware experience and feel overwhelmed by the almost endless combination of component choices.

Today, we’re taking a look at the GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE which targets a very reasonable price of £749.99. I’d describe this as a mid-range system and caters to someone with expectations of a fluid framerate at 1920×1080. Around the £800 mark, it’s essential to prioritize the graphics card and make concessions on the CPU without it becoming a bottleneck. This is because the majority of modern game engines are GPU bound, and the benefits from enhanced CPU performance is fairly minimal in comparison. NVIDIA’s GTX 970 is currently the most popular graphics card among Steam users, and for good reasons. For example, the GPU offers a fantastic price to performance ratio and remains exceptionally cool under extreme load. As a result, I’m pleased to see this particular graphics card in the GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE and expect it to perform superbly on a 1080P display.

Specifications

  • Name: GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE
  • Case: AeroCool Aero-800 Windowed Midi Tower
  • Motherboard: ASUS Z170-E
  • Processor: Intel i5-6400 2.70GHz Quad Core Skylake CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Evo
  • System Memory: 8GB DDR4 3000MHz – Corsair Vengeance LPX
  • Main Boot Drive: 1TB Seagate Barracuda SATA III Hard Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): N/A
  • Graphics card: ASUS STRIX NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB GDDR5
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 Challenger 600W 80+ Certified
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn DVD Re-Writer
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: Not Included
  • Warranty: 4 Years Labour, 1 Year Parts
  • Price: £749.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is delivered in a humongous outer box which offers outstanding protection against accidental damage. On the top, some durable fragile tape is used to instruct the courier to adopt a gentle approach when handling the item. One slight area for improvement revolves around the lack of side handles. This makes it quite difficult to lift especially in tight spaces.

Once opened, there’s an ample supply of packing peanuts to cushion the chassis box and prevent it from moving around during shipment. I was thoroughly impressed with the quantity of packaging materials, as it emphasizes the company’s attentive approach.

Here we can see the main chassis box containing a plastic cover and two thick polystyrene supports. As a result, the chance of cosmetic damage occurring is exponentially reduced.

The secure foam insert surrounds key components and keeps them firmly in position. I cannot emphasize enough how important these foam packs are because without them it’s possible for cables to become dislodged. Furthermore, it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities that a heavy GPU could droop and snap during transit. Thankfully, the foam pack holds up it upright and adds a great deal of structural support.

In terms of accessories, the system comes with the original packaging and documentation for each component. There’s also driver disks, a setup leaflet, attractive lanyard and UK power cable. The setup leaflet is fantastic and instructs beginners to remove the supportive foam before connecting the power cord.

That’s not all though because the package includes a CPU installation tool, spare parts, and screws to connect an M.2 SSD.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Phanteks Reveal RGB LED Motherboard to Chassis Adaptor

Does it bother you that your new RGB equipped motherboard is flashing on colour, but your chassis is showing something completely different? Then worry no more, as the latest accessory from Phanteks looks to solve all your colour synchronisation problems with one simple addition; the Phanteks RGB LED Adapter (PC-CB_RGB4P).

“With the current trend of motherboard’s customizable RGB LED lighting control, Phanteks today announced the Phanteks’ RGB LED Adapter for compatible motherboards that features RGB headers.” – Phanteks

Their new RGB LED adapter is a pretty simple solution to the problem, as it’s really just a cable that links the chassis lighting to that of your motherboards. The RGB adapter is compatible with the Aura (certified by Asus) series of boards, but will also work with any other RGB motherboard that includes a 4-PIN RGB header in the 12v GRB format. Simply attach this cable to the header, hook it into the compatible Phanteks chassis lighting and all your RGB delights from your motherboard will extend through the chassis lighting, helping you create a more unified effect. This also means that you’ll be able to control your chassis lighting from within your motherboards customization software.

The RGB LED Adapter is currently compatible with  the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe, Mini XL and P400. Of course, it’s expected that more models will be supported in the near future as and when they launch.

To make the deal even sweeter, you can get a free RGB LED Adapter if you purchase a compatible Phanteks chassis and motherboards that feature the RGB header before March 1st. Don’t worry though, as with prices of just 2.90EUR / £2, it’s not going to be expensive to pick one up yourself.

Do you have an RGB equipped motherboard in your chassis and do you like the idea of synchronizing the lighting between this and your chassis? Let us know in the comments section below.

Mushkin Blackline Ridgeback DDR4 2400MHz 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


The latest memory kit to arrive for review purposes is part of Muskin’s Blackline Ridgeback range. The sample we received opts for a 16GB capacity, 2400MHz speed and timings of 15-15-15-35. This is achieved with a very respectable voltage rating of 1.2V and showcases the modules’ efficiency. Mushkin is a pioneering memory manufacturer formed in 1994 and continues to release new DIMMs sporting unique designs at a very competitive price point. Unlike their competitors, Mushkin assembles and hand tests each memory kit in the USA while strictly monitoring their production line.

This results in exceptional reliability and minimizes the potential for customer returns. The company also selects low latency modules to find a suitable balance between raw frequency and operating latency. On another note, every Mushkin memory kit is backed with a lifetime warranty and approachable customer service team. Given their reputation in the industry, I expect the memory kit to perform admirably at stock values and have some good overclocking headroom. Let’s see how it compares to other dual channel alternatives!

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The product comes in a traditional blister pack, and adopts the slogan, “Gamers take notice, rivals take notes.” I quite like the background design which looks rather striking and adds a dash of colour.

On the rear, there’s a very detailed installation guide containing extremely clear diagrams. Inserting the modules into position is a very simple process, but it’s always good to include instructions for newcomers without any previous system building experience.

A Closer Look

The DIMMs convey a professional look via the neutral colour scheme and should suit a wide range of system builds. Additionally, the angled heat spreaders provide a distinctive appearance without straying too far from the sophisticated, understated design. I’m also really keen on the silver accents, which adds some visual flair. Sadly, the green PCB spoils the black theme somewhat and ruins the overall level of synergy. Although once the modules are installed, you shouldn’t notice the green PCB from a distance. Thankfully, there are some SKUs which already have the same heat spreader design and black PCB to complement it perfectly. Overall, Mushkin has done a commendable job in the product’s aesthetics and ensured it appeals to the core gaming demographic.

ASUS Announces Improved ROG Sica Gaming Mouse

ASUS’ ROG division announced a new version of their popular Sica gaming mouse that comes with improved features and with a new glacier white finish. The ROG Sica gaming mouse has been designed with MOBA gaming in mind, but that doesn’t mean that this ambidextrous wired optical mouse won’t be great for other game types too.

The most noticeable difference to the previous Sica mouse is the colour when you look at it, but it also features improvements on the inside. The previous black model also featured Omron switches, but only those with a durability rating for 5 million clicks. The new white model has the improved and better switches (D2FC-F-7N) that can handle four times the click amount with their 20 million-click durability. The Sica still remains its awesome switchable socket design that will allow you to switch the switches if needed.

Other great features in the Sica include short and independent buttons for the shortest and most accurate click distance, a special coating to minimise stickiness, and illuminated ROG logo. The Sica has a 5000 DPI PMW3310 optical sensor that’s adjustable in increments of 50 DPI for extreme precision. It is capable of tracking speeds of up to 130-inches per second and 30g of acceleration.

With the built-in flash memory, you are able to store your profiles directly on the mouse and take them with you. All the settings can be controlled through the ROG Armoury software that a lot of people already might be familiar with from previous ROG mice. The mouse is wired and comes with a 2-meter long rubber USB 2.0 cable with a gold plated connector.

The new ASUS Sica Glacier White gaming mouse will be available by end of February in the United Kingdom for a suggested retail price of £29.99. That’s not a bad price at all for what looks like a great yet simple gaming mouse. I particularly like the replaceable switches as those are the weak point in any mouse over time.

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U Wireless Repeater

Even with the best of routers, you can run into trouble with insufficient coverage on your wireless networks and that is where repeaters come into play. Mostly we see small repeaters that plug directly into the wall socket and aren’t much bigger than a socket and switch put together, but ASUS’ latest repeater dubbed the RP-AC68U breaks with that norm.

The newly presented ASUS RP-AC68U is a dual-band wireless AC1900 repeater shaped like a pillar and with a list of advanced functions that make it stand out even more from the crowd. The stylish RP-AC68U features four internal high-performance antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive) and allows users to easily extend coverage of an existing 802.11ac Wi-Fi network with fast speeds of up to 1900Mbps.

The rear of the wireless repeater shows just how much this repeater goes out of the norm as it comes with five Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports built-in as well as a USB 3.0 port for connecting storage devices to your network. The USB port supports ASUS AiCloud and can act with simple NAS functionality and as your own personal cloud server with apps available for both iOS and Android devices. The RP-AC68U can also be used in Access Point mode to add ultra-fast Wi-Fi convenience to any existing wired network.

The illuminated red accents can be turned on or off by a convenient touch sensor incorporated in the ASUS logo on the front and the installation and setup is just as easy. The repeater features a simple one-touch setup with WPS and it has LED signal strength indicators for both bands. This allows you to easily find the optimal placement for the repeater.

Pricing and availability are yet to be announced. It surely won’t be the cheapest repeater on the block, but it also provides a lot more functionality than we’re used to from such devices. It is as close as it can be to a router without being one.

ASUS Announces Travelair AC Pocket-Sized Wireless Flash Drive

ASUS has created a few products out of their norm lately and I think it’s nice to see them breaching into new product categories, especially when they create things that aren’t all that common yet. The newest product to be announced is the Travelair AC which is a pocket-sized wireless flash drive.

The ASUS Travelair AC features 802.11ac wireless network connectivity which easily is 3 times faster than the legacy 2.4GHz band that a lot of such devices operate on. The faster wireless connection doesn’t just provide better copy and streaming speeds, it also allows your devices to stay on a single network for less hassle.

Basic 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless connectivity is just one of the features in ASUS new portable flash drive as it also feature NFC technology for instant connection to NFC-enabled mobile devices for an even easier setup. The Travelair AC features 32GB built-in memory which in itself isn’t much, but it can be easily expanded through the built-in SD card reader.

The flash drive also features a micro USB connector for a wired connection to non-wifi devices as well as to charge the built-in 3000 mAh battery.

ASUS added a dual wireless functionality to the Travelair AC, so you won’t lose your internet connection when using this wireless flash drive. You simply connect the Travelair AC to your router and any device that connects to the drive will also automatically get the signal forwarding to your internet connection. Naturally this support also includes WPA2 security for secure connections both ways

The ASUS AiDrive app for Android, iOS, and Kindle devices allows for easy setup and connection, but the drive is also compatible with Windows and Mac OS devices. The built-in battery should provide up to 10 hours of multimedia content streaming to Wi-Fi-enabled devices per charge which should be enough for even the longest trips.

Pricing and availability of the ASUS Travelair AC are yet to be announced.

Specifications

  • Wi-Fi standards: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Storage capacity: 32GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Micro USB, NFC
  • OS Compatibility: iOS 7 or higher, AndroidTM 4.0 or higher, Kindle Fire HD and HDX, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.6 or higher
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • Colors: White
  • Size: 86 x 86 x 21mm
  • Weight: 120g

ASUS B150 PRO GAMING/AURA (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


Since the official reveal of Intel’s latest mainstream LGA1151 platform, we’ve analysed the performance numbers of various Z170 motherboards and even taken an analytical look at the non-overclocking H170 offerings. However, there’s another chipset available to consumers even though it’s primarily marketed towards business users. More specifically, the B150 chipset includes Intel’s Small Business Advantage software package to manage a small network of PCs using fairly rudimentary desktop applications. As a result, it seems quite a bizarre choice to release a B150 motherboard which adopts a lavish visual design, although it might be suitable for business clients wanting to play games during their downtime.

In a similar vein to the H170 chipset, there are some technical limitations when opting for the more budget friendly options. For example, B150 motherboards support a maximum of 18 HSIO lanes (in addition to 16 PCI-E from the CPU) compared to 26 on Z170. Additionally, overclocking is disabled even with an unlocked multiplier CPU, the PCI-E lanes are reduced from 20 to 8, and there’s a small dip in USB 3.0 ports down from 14 to 12. Despite these cutbacks, there’s still more than enough connectivity, and features to please a large quantity of consumers. The ASUS B150 PRO GAMING/AURA is a fascinating motherboard because it brings many of the high-end components from the Z170 range and comes with an excellent array of gaming focussed software. This means, it’s possibly the most ostentatious and impressive B150 motherboard I’ve encountered thus far, and I expect to see some impressive performance numbers in our typical benchmark procedure.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

The motherboard is packaged in an attractive box which outlines the RGB sections and high-speed M.2 support. Additionally, there’s a promotional 15-day code to access a premium account in the free-to-play title, War of Warships.

On the rear, there’s a basic overview of the board layout, a technical synopsis and details about the AURA RGB lighting system. Furthermore, ASUS also provides information on the Digi+ VRM, USB 3.1 connectivity, premium audio hardware and gaming software.

In terms of accessories, the B150 PRO GAMING/AURA includes a user’s guide, cable labels, zip ties to help with cable management and drivers disk.

As you might expect, the motherboard comes with an I/O shield, SATA cables and M.2 fixing screws.

ASUS Cerberus Gaming Peripherals Review – A Full Gaming Setup for Under £100!

Introduction


Picking the right gaming peripherals can be a tricky endeavour as there is a huge range of products from an equally large selection of gaming brands out there to choose from. Asus are one of the most established and recognisable gaming brands on the market today, and while they may be better known for their high-end graphics cards and motherboards, they’ve proven time and time again that they can make some great gaming peripherals too.

Today we’ll be taking a look at their Cerberus range, a budget friendly but feature packed range of peripherals that are sure to appeal to a wide range of PC gamers. We’ve got a mouse, a headset and a keyboard here today and what’s great about these devices is that all of them can be picked up for a total under £100, making them an attractive option for those on a tighter budget, with the added peace of mind of them being from a well-established brand name.

As you can see below, we’ve got a well-equipped membrane keyboard, with macro keys, LED lighting and more. As well as an optical mouse, which features an ambidextrous design, adjustable DPI and LED lighting. Finally, a powerful gaming headset equipped with 60mm drivers, support for PC, Man and PS4 and a detachable microphone. All of which can be snapped up for a total of just £96.89 (prices from Overclockers UK).

Cerberus Keyboard – LED backlit USB gaming keyboard with splash-proof design

  • Full SECC metal plate – Rugged durability
  • Splash-proof design with drain hole – Protects against spilled liquids
  • 12 macro keys – Tactical flexibility
  • Fully rubberized feet – Enhanced friction for strong movements
  • Price – £39.95

For more information, check out the official product page here.

Cerberus Mouse – Ambidextrous optical gaming mouse with four-stage DPI switch and convenient LED indicator

  • Agile DPI control – Four customizable DPI levels with an LED color indicator
  • Stylish ambidextrous design – Designed for both right and left-handed gamers
  • Improved rubber side grips – Reduces sweating and slipping
  • Price – £21.95

For more information, check out the official product page here.

Cerberus Headset – Gaming headset with large 60mm neodymium drivers, designed for both PC gaming and mobile use.

  • Large 60mm neodymium-magnet drivers deliver unrivaled punch and ultimate immersion
  • Compatible with PC, Mac, PlayStation® 4 and smart devices for gaming and mobile fun
  • Dual-microphone design: detachable boom mic for clear in-game communication and an in-line mic for on-the-go chat
  • Comfortable 100mm full-size cushions offer great noise isolation for undisturbed gaming and music enjoyment
  • Price – £34.99

For more information, check out the official product page here.

The packaging on each product is really nice, with a large window on the headset and the mouse, allowing a good look at the design of each, while the box for the keyboard has a big image of the keyboard and its LED lighting. There’s a few technical details around each box, but nothing we haven’t already covered above.

Cooler Master Launched Case Mod World Series 2016

Case modding has become very popular again and it isn’t just something that a few select sponsored people do. A lot of people take it upon themselves to make their existing or new rigs just a little more fly. If you should be among those people, then you might want to pay attention to this as you could end up being one of the people walking away with 30,000 USD in cash and prizes. Cooler Master has launched the Case Mod World Series 2016 which is sponsored by ASUS, Avexir, Dremel, NVIDIA, and OCZ. Those are all some familiar names with some quality products.

The Case Mod World Series is designed to connect modders everywhere and 2016 is the seventh time it is being held where Cooler Master expanded the scope of the series to include local meet and greets, and modding sessions. The participants will be judged in four equally weighted areas that are complexity, design, originality, and overall look. The judgement will be done by the sponsoring companies as well as an international panel of judges: Ermanno Bonandini from Italy, Ronnie Hara from Brazil via Japan, Richard Keirsgieter from The Netherlands, Antony Leather from The UK, Richard Surroz and Brian Farrell from the USA.

“Modding has exploded in recent years and is taking root in every corner of the globe. The Case Mod World Series is about fuelling that growth. It’s about igniting the modding spirit – the maker spirit – on the web and right in your community,” said Michelle Wu, Global Community Manager. “This year, we will be running local events to involve modders everywhere. Together, with the generous support of our sponsors, we hope to enable the modding community the world over. ”

The registration is open now and will run until June the 12th, 2016. You need a Cooler Master Forum account to get going, but it is free and the Case Mod mini-site has all the details in that regard. The Info Hub will keep you updated with posts along the way and as previously mentioned, you can win a lot of prizes.

There are three categories with three places in each. The first place winner in the Tower Mod contest will walk away with $3000 USD in cash, any Cooler Master case of their choice, a V1200 PSU, MasterAir Maker 8 cooler, QuickFire Xti keyboard, Sentinel III mouse and Sirus headset. The motherboard is sponsored by Asus and is a Maximus VIII Formula while the GPU power comes from two GTX 980 Ti cards. Along with that, the first place winner gets OCZ SSD, Avexir Memory and a Dremel 8050 Micro tool. You can also see the full list of prizes for the different categories on the mini-site.

ASUS Controlled 40% of The Gaming Monitor Market in 2015

The gaming monitor market incorporates a huge array of display technologies, screen sizes, and a host of other unique selling points. This allows the end-user to select a product which suits their specific requirements and most importantly, their budget. Whether you’re opting for a 16:9 144Hz TN 1920×1080 panel, or 21:9 60Hz IPS 3440×1440 monitor, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. ASUS’ Republic of Gamers range has proved to be a popular choice due to the unique styling and large choice of models. For example, the original ROG Swift opted for a TN panel with 144Hz refresh rate to offer impeccable response times. As a result, professional gamers found it to be the perfect balance between visual quality and responsiveness. Since then, ASUS has released an IPS model, and a more budget-friendly FreeSync edition.

It’s no surprise that according to sources close to DigiTimes, ASUS accounted for 40% of gaming monitor sales in 2015:

“The sources estimate that worldwide gaming monitor shipments will reach at least 800,000 units in 2015 with Asustek accounting for 40% of the volume thanks to strong sales in Europe, North American and Taiwan.”

Traditionally, ASUS has focused on producing high-end 16:9 displays, but this changed with the PG348Q. This particular monitor utilizes a 3440×1440 IPS panel and adopts a very unusual aesthetic design. Unlike many 3440×1440 screens, the monitor supports G-Sync and a 100Hz refresh rate. As you might expect, this unbelievable display costs in the UK just shy of £1000 and designed for very expensive systems. Personally, I love the 21:9 aspect ratio and feel this is the perfect monitor especially with the curved display. Sadly, It’s slightly out of my price range and I’m perfectly happy with a non-curved 60Hz 3440×1440 monitor. Hopefully, the success of ASUS’ monitor range will reduce prices and enable the company to make cheaper options. One area they do need to keep working hard on is the RMA process which requires greater Quality Control.

ASUS Integrates ROG BIOS Functionality Into Claymore Mechanical Keyboard

ASUS’ Claymore mechanical keyboard was originally demoed during Computex last year and showed a great deal of promise. Since then, the company has been working extremely hard to separate the Claymore from other mechanical keyboards currently dominating the peripherals market. One major change is the option to remove the number pad section and position it on the left hand side. This adds a large array of macro keys or you can even disregard it entirely and create a TKL layout. Of course, this isn’t an exclusive feature and other keyboards in the past have adopted a similar design. The more interesting development revolves around dedicated BIOS function keys and provides the end-user with various commands providing they are using an ROG ASUS motherboard.

According to Tom’s Hardware, ASUS has implemented a BIOS key which boots directly into the UEFI without having to frantically time the correct key presses. It’s even possible to adjust CPU and RAM overclocking settings from the keyboard. Another neat feature is the ability to cycle between XMP profiles and configure system fan RPM values. In addition to the enhanced BIOS functionality, there’s the usual array of RGB colour customization and dramatic lighting effects. I’m also quite fond of the keyboard’s style which makes it look unique. It seems every major manufacturer has moved into the peripherals market and released a high-end mechanical keyboard. It will be interesting to see what kind of switches the ASUS Claymore comes with. Ideally, I’d love to see more gaming keyboards with switches designed for typists such as Cherry MX Blues.

The Claymore is scheduled for release in Q2 this year and more official information regarding its price, and specification should be unveiled shortly. It’s always going to be difficult to compete with Corsair, but the BIOS features might just be enough to shift units in impressive numbers. When the product is finally released, we should have an in-depth review detailing the feel, build quality and unique selling points.

Which is your favourite mechanical switch type?

D-Link DIR-890 AC3200 Ultra Triple-Band Wi-Fi Router Review

Introduction


When you pick the router you want to own, you can either pick an ordinary router for your setup or a great one if you want just a little more. But there is also a third option and you have the choice to go for something extraordinary. Today I’m taking a closer look a router from the last category as I’m having D-Link’s impressive DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi router in my testing area.

The DIR-890L brings impressive performance via three bands instead of the normal two bands, and it also comes packed in a stylish design with six antennas for maximum range, coverage, and speed. D-Link’s DIR-890L has a futuristic kind of design that somewhat resembles a drone or spaceship. A lot of the times this kind of designs can go too far, but D-Link seems to have nailed it and hit just the right spot between normal, futuristic, functionality, and design. It looks great!

We get more and more smart devices in our homes and that is something that increases exponentially the more people live in the household. We have smart TVs, smartphones, laptops, tablets, game consoles, computers, and much more. All of these need an internet connection through our one and only entry and exit point, the router, which means that we quickly can reach limits around the available bandwidth and channels, and we experience bottlenecks and lag.

Traditional routers have a 2.4GHz band for up to 600Mbps throughput that is suited for surfing, emails, and instant messaging as well as the newer 5GHz band that has a little less range but a lot more performance. D-Link added one more on top of that in the DIR-890L AC3200 router, they added a third band. The third band is another 5GHz band, freeing up some space on the first one by balancing the connections out. It also prevents slower connected devices from bottlenecking the band from faster ones. Each of the 5GHz bands has a maximum throughput of 1300Mbps which gives the DIR-890L a total wireless throughput of 3200Mbps. Effectively this is like three routers in one.

As mentioned above, not all wireless bands are the same, but that isn’t something you need to worry about with this router. The Smart Connect Technology allows the router to choose from the three Wi-Fi bands and automatically connect each device on the network to the best and clearest band available at the time of connection.

The Smart Connect feature is awesome as it manages everything itself and removes any worry from the user’s end what band to pick and choose from. You can still choose to use each band separately with their own individual SSID name and password settings should you wish to do so.

D-Link gave the DIR-890L six antennas and the router features beam-forming technology to improve coverage. With this technology, the router can direct the bandwidth in the direction of the devices connected and thereby give you a better overall connection experience whether you stream your movies, Skype with friends, or play online games.

The six antennas are adjustable in almost all directions, except down. So unless you want to place it upside down, then you can’t have it look like a spider on six legs as some of you probably already imagined. It is not something I would recommend doing as it would place the vents upward and allow for more dust to settle inside the router. You sadly can’t replace the antennas with aftermarket ones on the Ultra AC3200 and that might be a downside for some people.

The router naturally also features wired connections and not just wireless ones, although the wireless features are the selling point in this router along with the great hardware base. You get one WAN port for the internet connection and four Gigabit Ethernet ports for your LAN. The DIR-890L also comes with one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port for file sharing from external storage drives or creating a network printing environment from your old USB-based printer. The D-Link share port allows all this with ease and also allows you to use the built-in DLNA server and stream to compatible devices.

D-Link also packed the router full of useful software features such as parental controls, blocking of unwanted devices, internet activity monitoring, and Wi-Fi guest networks. Intelligent Traffic Prioritization selects the fastest Wi-Fi for every device and prevents older devices from affecting optimal performance. VPN setup and all common features such as NAT and port forwarding aren’t a problem for the DIR-890L either.

There are a lot more features, but we’ll see them on the following pages when we take a look at the user interface and options. If all that shouldn’t be enough, or you just don’t like the interface for some reason and would like something else, then you can flash the router with DD-WRT, the open-source router firmware. The D-Link AC3200 Wi-Fi Router should be fully compatible with the open source Linux-based router operating system.

If all that shouldn’t be enough, or you just don’t like the interface for some reason and would like something else, then you can flash the router with DD-WRT, the open-source router firmware. The D-Link AC3200 Wi-Fi Router should be fully compatible with the open source Linux-based router operating system.

All this requires some power to run and that comes from a 1GHz dual-core processor that has no trouble keeping up the data packets for your gaming sessions or 4K media streaming. Speaking of 4K media streaming, the DIR-890L is a Nvidia GameStream-Ready product and certified for optimal compatibility with the newly released Nvidia Shield 4K Android TV Console.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

A Premium router also needs a premium package, and the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router has that. The huge box has a premium finish and is made from thick cardboard. The outside has a full-colour print with the router itself and the name on the front.

The rear of the box displays the main feature highlights in a graphical way, easy to see, read, and understand.

It isn’t just a folded box around an inlay either, but a real box where you lift the cover up.

Inside you see the beautiful router right away, safely secured and with the accessories packed in the boxes on either side.

Inside is a power cord, AC power adapter, and an RJ45 LAN cable to connect your new router.

There’s also a beautiful Quick Install Guide to help you get started, a configuration card with all the default settings and room to write you own as well as an extra sticker with the defaults for you to place where it is convenient.

ASUS Reveals Cerberus Series Gaming Peripherals

ASUS has just revealed a new line of impressive gaming peripherals, namely the Cerberus Gaming Mouse, Cerberus Gaming Mouse Pad and Cerberus Gaming Keyboard, all of which were designed to cater to the needs of serious gamers. As a result, they were created using solid materials, and even though their looks are not necessarily something to write home about, their reliability more than makes up for it. Starting off with the Cerberus Gaming Mouse, we can tell you that it’s an ambidextrous optical gaming mouse that features 4 customizable sensitivity levels as well as an LED color indicator. It also comes with rubber side grips that eliminate slipping thus ensuring long-term comfort during intense gaming marathons.

Moving on to the Cerberus Gaming Mouse Pad, it complements the gaming mouse nicely and was designed with precision in mind. It was put together using a premium heavy weave fabric, and just in case you want to use it with another mouse, you can do so while knowing that it also works perfectly with other optical and laser peripherals thanks to its heavily textured surface. Embroidered edges and a fray-resistant design are some of its other highlights.

Featuring a splash-proof design, rubberized feet and 12 dedicated macro keys, the Cerberus Gaming Keyboard was created using a full SECC (steel, electro-galvanized, cold-rolled coil) metal plate that guarantees incredible durability. Apart from being completely splash-proof, the keyboard also includes an integrated drain hole that allows any spilled liquids to escape.

What do you think about these new ASUS peripherals?

ASUS Surprises with XG-D2008 10Gbps Switch for Home Users

This one came quite as a surprise for me, but it is a very positive surprise as ASUS unveiled one of the first, if not the first, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches designed for home users. We have long moved away from the slow mechanical storage drives and some people like me even moved on to something as crazy as NVMe drives in RAID setup. With that in mind, a Gigabit Ethernet connection becomes the biggest bottleneck in your system with a speed of around 120-125MB/s max. Even when you use link aggregation, you won’t be able to support these kinds of speeds.

ASUS’s new 10Gbps Switch is called the XG-D2008 and now that we’re starting to see the entry of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for home users, although mostly enthusiast users for now, it comes a little bit as a surprise to me that it is ASUS leading the front here. When we saw the NAS manufacturer Synology enter the router market last year, I figured that it just was a matter of time until they expanded into switches too. ASUS does however have a big experience in pretty much any field, so it doesn’t come as that big of a surprise after all, that they release a product like this.

Right now the information about the switch is very limited, but I really do like what I see. The design of the XG-D2008 is beautiful in what appears to be a unibody structure of aluminium with a brushed finish. The device is very simple and will blend well into any environment. While the port amount wasn’t revealed as such, we see the 8 in the name and can count 8 LEDs for LAN ports on the image, making it an 8-port switch.

The plug-and-play description points towards an unmanaged switch, although there still could be a user interface at the same time. We will make sure to update you with more information as they become available and hopefully also be able to bring you a review of this new 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with an enterprise-level performance yet a mainstream price tag.

Asus and Razer Releasing Graphics Card Enclosures for Laptops

Asus and Razer are both releasing graphics card enclosures in 2016, bringing desktop GPU power to laptops via a Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connection. The ROG XG Station 2 from Asus and Razer’s Core enclosures were unveiled at CES last week, PCGamesN reports, and both provide an alternative to bulky gaming laptops – that alternative being an even bulkier unit, comparable in size to a mini PC –  hot on the heels of Alienware’s Titan X-powered Graphics Card Amplifier.

The Asus ROG XG Station 2 is “a custom interface that lets notebooks harness the power of desktop graphics cards to significantly boost gaming performance,” according to the company’s press release (via PC World). While the ROG XG Station 2 is “specifically designed for Asus laptops and graphics cards,” it works with other systems and cards and uses PCI-E x4 across two Thunderbolt 3.0/USB Type-C connections.

The Razer Core, meanwhile, has a 500w power supply, which can power most any high-end graphics card, with four USB 3.0 ports to both provide power and pass through data to a laptop, plus an Ethernet port, according to PC Gamer. Its Thunderbolt connector supports up to 40Gb/s bandwidth.

Neither Asus nor Razer have announced the price or release dates for their respective graphics card enclosures.

Would you like the option to be able to turn your laptop into a gaming rig, or are you happy relying on your desktop PC?