eTeknix 2015 Christmas Buying Guide – Treat Yourself or Someone Else!

The time for holiday festivities is almost upon us and as the modern tradition of consumerism continues to grow, it becomes harder and harder to pick the right gifts for people every year, or perhaps it’s just me who struggles? Either way, we’ve sat around a Christmas fire, or just a general fire in November and December, getting into the gift buying state of mind and picked a range of our favourite products which we’ve reviewed here at eTeknix throughout 2015, as what better products to recommend than the ones we’ve had in our own hands and tested!

We’ve got a huge range of budgets covered here today, although I think it’s fair to assume that given we play around with graphics cards and a lot of enthusiast friendly products, there are some real wallet busters here too. Of course, you can use this guide to find some of the best products of the year to treat your family, friends and more, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t just spoil yourself too!


Rock Band 4 Band in a Box

Get ready to rock out this Christmas and no doubt many other days. Pick up the guitar, drum sticks, or just butcher your favourite song on the microphone. Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box is a fantastic gift and it’s a great thing to deploy at parties too, certainly beats the usual Karaoke chaos! It comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99. To save costs, the standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, while the guitar and game is just £109.99.

Check out the full review here.


Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Chassis

The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Mid-Tower chassis is by far my favourite chassis of 2015, it just oozes high quality inside and out, with capabilities for high-end water and air cooling and so much more. It is available from Overclockers UK for £139.99 and is available in both Gun Metal and black.

Check out the full review here.


Raijintek Styx Micro-ATX Aluminium Chassis

What a fantastic little chassis this is! Built from beautifully finished brushed aluminium and available in a wide range of colours, this would make a great gift for someone building a new gaming system this Christmas. The Raijintek Styx chassis is available from Overclockers UK for just £64.99.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Silent Base 800 Chassis

Another expensive chassis on our list, but one of the best we’ve seen this year. If you’re wanting to build someone, or yourself, a gaming PC that not only looks great but is as silent as you could ever hope for, the Silent Base 800 Window is the way to go. It is available from most popular retailers for 149,90EUR/119 GBP/149,90 USD ex. VAT.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Strafe RGB MX Silent Red Mechanical Keyboard

Featuring the innovative Cherry MX Silent Switches, the Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is simply amazing to use. It’s packed full of features and is by far the quietest mech we’ve ever tested. A little expensive, but I’m sure anyone would be happy to unwrap this at Christmas. The Strafe is available for £139.99 from Overclockers UK, while the MX Red and the MX Brown are priced at £129.95. If you want the non-RGB version, you can find the MX Red and the MX Brown at £99.95 each.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Commander Gaming Gear Keyboard and Mouse Combo

The TteSports by Thermaltake Commander Keyboard and Mouse Combo is a great gift for Christmas, it’s affordable, has a nice range of features and you get a keyboard and a mouse in a single nice and tidy (and easy to wrap) box! With prices around £23.99 it’s hard to say no to such a great deal! Readers in the US can pick one of from Newegg for an equally impressive $29.99.

Check out the full review here.


CM Storm Quick Fire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

RGB mechanical keyboards are everywhere this year, but the XTi from Cooler Master is my personal favourite so far. It’s no-fuss and bold design is great for home and office, gaming or work, with the added bonus that it’s incredibly durable and has some of the nicest lighting tones I’ve seen so far, even if it does only allow for a mixture of red and blue! You can pick up the XTi from Box for just £134, although there’s also a deal that includes a free mouse here!

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse

The Gaming Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse is packed full of features that will put a smile on any PC gamers face. With RGB lighting, excellent performance and a customisable keypad on the side, it’s one of the best mice we’ve ever tested. better yet, it’s only £69.95 from Overclockers UK.

Check out the full review here.


Logitech G502 Proteus Core Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G502 is a prime example of how great a gaming mouse can truly be. This is without a doubt the best mouse sensor we’ve ever tested and the rest of the mouse isn’t exactly lacking in features either. I’d be tempted to buy this one for myself this Christmas, but you could always treat someone else with it too. It’s available directly from the Logitech website (with free shipping) for just £69.99.

Check out the full review here.


G.Skill MX780

A relatively new entry on the peripherals market, the G.Skills MX780 is a fantastic gaming mouse, with a switchable left or right handed grip that makes it ideal for a wide range of gamers. With a retail price of just $59.99 it is exceptional value for a Christmas gift, and given its spec, it’ll go head to head with many of the best mice on the market.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Void Headset

We were absolutely blown away by the Corsair Void series, some of the best sounding, most comfortable and best-looking headsets we’ve ever seen! They would make a great gift, but be careful, if you try them out before you give them away, you may want to keep them. The Corsair Void USB 7.1 RGB Headset is available from Overclockers UK for just £79.99. This is £10 cheaper than the Wireless headset which is £89.99, I prefer the wireless and think it’s not much more to pay for the extra tech, but you’re own preferences will obviously determine which model you prefer.

Check out the reviews for the USB 7.1, Wireless 7.1 and 2.0 headsets here.


Astro A40 TR + Mix Amp Pro

Eager to get the best of the best gaming headset for you or your loved one? Then make no exception, the Astro A40 TR Headset with Mix Amp Pro is the way to go. This is one that’s sure to leave a dent in your wallet, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Available from the Astro store for £200, plus around £48 for the optional Mod Kit, the Astro is expensive, but the sound quality, features and comfortable fit are priceless.

Check out the full review here.


Crucial BX200 SSD

SSD prices are dropping constantly and there really has never been a better time to invest. If it’s for your own system, you can give yourself a great upgrade without spending a fortune, but the smaller drive sizes make excellent gifts to those who could do with a performance upgrade on their system. The Crucial BX200 comes with an MSRP of £234.49 ($299.99) for the 960GB model and £66.49 ($84.99) and £116.99 ($149.99) for the smaller 240GB and 480GB models, plus the small boxes are super easy to wrap up as a gift.

Check out the full review here.


QNAP TS-251 2-Bay NAS

Give the gift of a connected home this Christmas, from streaming your movies around the house, to backing up those important files, there are a lot of benefits to owning a NAS. Not the cheapest of gifts, but it’s one of those products where if you buy cheap, you’ll likely regret it in the long run. The QNAP’s TS-251 Turbo NAS can be found at NewEgg for $384.99, at Scan UK for £295.32, or through Geizhals starting at €284.

Check out the full review here.


Sapphire Nitro R9 380X 4GB Graphics Card

AMD have created a mighty powerhouse with the R9 380X and the Sapphire Nitro is one of the finest examples. It’s fast, sleek and affordable, more than enough power for 1080P ultra gaming, or 1440p high gaming, making it a great addition to anyone who wants the latest PC games for Christmas. The Sapphire Nitro R9 380X is currently available from OverclockersUK for £199.99. NeweggUS currently has this card listed for $229.99.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Graphics Card

Spend a little more, get a lot more, the GTX 970 is a superb card, but one that may be getting a little expensive for those looking for a Christmas gift. With enough power to play anything on the market and even delve into high-end resolutions, it’s a strong contender for something to put under the Christmas tree, or even put on your own wish list. The Gainward Phoenix GTX 970 is currently available in the UK from SCAN for £273.56 and for an estimated $360 in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 980ti 6GB Graphics Card

It wouldn’t be Christmas if we couldn’t all hope and dream, but the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti is currently one of the best cards on the market and we would be crazy not to suggest the best of the best. Available in the UK for the £599.99 it’s certainly not cheap, although we’ve seen some great deals bringing it down below £500, so it’s best to shop around. Just imagine the look on your partners face when they unwrap this monster on Christmas day!

Check out the full review here.


DDR4

Getting a little more back to reality and reasonable prices, DDR4 memory is dropping in price quite nicely now. It was super expensive at launch, but now you’ll often find DDR4 kits at equal or lower prices to their DDR3 equivalents. That makes them a great upgrade for Christmas, but make sure you have a DDR4 motherboard to go with it!

Check out our latest memory reviews here.


Shield Android TV

Snapped up a 4K TV in the Black Friday deals? The Nvidia Shield Console is the most powerful Android device on the market, and it’s the perfect media player for Plex, 4K content on Netflix and more. Even better, it’s also a very powerful gaming system, with many AAA games available to play, as well as game streaming features that will leave you wondering why this device doesn’t cost more than £149.99! You can buy the Shield TV and accessories directly from Nvidia here.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S

Think someone could do with a cooling upgrade for their system, or perhaps even parts towards a new system build this Christmas? Treat them to an AIO water cooler and they’ll be able to reduce the noise from their system and unlock its overclocking potential! The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S is a little expensive, but it’s still a competitively priced AIO at just £81.98 and would make a great gift, especially if you’re just going to treat yourself.

Check out the full review here.


Alpenfohn Atlas

The Atlas is one of the coolest coolers we’ve seen this year, a tiny form factor with big performance and virtually silent acoustics. Building a system for someone or upgrading your own, this is one cooler you’ll want to consider and given that it’s available from Overclockers UK for a very reasonable £42.95, it’s another great addition to our buying guide.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim

Need a premium cooler but don’t want to pay a premium price this Christmas? The be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim is more affordable, but still packs some impressive performance figures. It’s available from Scan.co.uk for just £30.52 + shipping here in the UK and from Amazon.com for $49.90 + $9.80 shipping in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Inateck Mercury Box Bluetooth Speaker

Love your music on the go, when you’re out at the park, or anywhere for that matter? The Mercury box offers up a huge sound from such a tiny box. Built from aluminium and featuring a waterproof design, it’s one of the best mobile speakers on the market, great for listening to music wherever you are! Available from Amazon.com for just $48.99 and readers in the UK can get it from Amazon.co.uk for £49.99.

Check out the full review here.


OnePlus 10,000mAh Mobile USB Power Bank

The perfect stocking filler, a 10,000 mAh mobile battery. This has enough juice to charge most mobiles several times, and it’ll even recharge high-end devices such as iPads with ease too. Perfect for travelling, and best of all, it’s super lightweight and affordable. The power bank is £13.99/$14.99/€15.99 and you can order it directly from OnePlus.

Check out the full review here.


Gaming Systems

Nothing says I love you like a kick-ass gaming PC. Of course, budgets vary wildly from hundreds to even thousands of pounds/dollars, but that’s the joy of buying a PC, or building your own, there’s so much to choose from! With so many awesome system integrators around these days, you can’t go far wrong. Chillblast, CyberPower, PC Specialist, Vibox, Freshtech or Overclockers UK.

Gaming in the living room? Why not invest in a CyberPower Syber Steambox! Prices start at £485 and go right up to £1905, giving you a great choice to suit your needs, and your budget.

A whole lot of gaming for not a lot of money from Chillblast, with their very competitive Fusion NightHawk, a great option for those looking for their first gaming PC at just £599.

Got a little more budget to play around with this Christmas? The super fast gaming systems from PC Specialist that feature ASUS Maximus VIII hardware also come with the gorgeous Gladius mouse! Systems in this category start at £890 for the i5 and GTX 960 model, all the way up to £1670 for the i7 and GTX 980 Ti.

Another mid-budget powerhouse, this time from Vibox with their Element X. At just £649, this MSI R9 380 and AMD FX-6300 powered computer is great for gaming and would make a great gift this Christmas.

Time to bring out the big gun’s and really treat yourself? Or perhaps you just want your friend or family member to open a present they’ll never forget? The FreshTech Solutions Stealth Gaming PC is an absolute beast, powered by some of today’s latest and greatest hardware. Of course, it’s not cheap at £1412, but this is not your run of the mill gaming PC.

Overclockers UK offer a range of gaming systems, and general day-to-day PC’s just like another other, but with the big advantage that they’re also a normal PC component retailer. If you want to build your own system, customise a build or pick a pre-built system, you’ll find lots to play around with here.

Check out our full range of system reviews here.

Alpenföhn ATLAS Mini-ITX/Micro-ATX CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


Picking the right CPU cooler for your system can be a tricky task as you have to balance your budget, the ergonomics of your chassis, the TDP of your chip, aesthetics, what kind of system performance you want to achieve and acoustics too. That’s a lot to consider and there’s certainly a huge amount of choice out there to find something that suits your needs, but it’s still a bit of a minefield. The latest cooler from legendary manufacturer Alpenföhn has been designed for the increasingly popular Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX system build market. People are making a lot of compact gaming PCs for their living room, bedroom, LAN gaming events and more, so it’s only right that we should have more coolers that are suited to building a gaming system in smaller chassis.

The ATLAS may be tiny, but it still packs an impressive 5 x 6mm heat pipes into a twin-tower and dual-fan configuration, which gives it an impressive max TDP of 200W! That’s a lot of cooling potential from a small form factor cooling. Of course, a lot of people are jumping on the AIO market for cooling these days, but there are a lot of benefits to air cooling too and even more so, there are some people who just don’t want to move to water. Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see what this little powerhouse can do on our test bench.

As you can see from the specifications, the cooler sits nice and low, at the cost of being quite wide and fat for its form factor. The cooler is just tall enough to house a pair of 92mm fans, and while this form factor of fan is often associated (in my experience) with higher RPM and a noisy output, these promise to go as low as 400RPM, but still manage good airflow and low noise, which is something we’re eager to test.

The box is quite large, which I found funny as when I first opened it, I was expecting a much bigger cooler. There’s a nice stylish picture on the front of the box, as well as details of the main spec (see above) around the box.

The size of the box quickly becomes apparent, there’s quite a treasure trove of bits and bobs to be found inside. The mounting kit includes AMD and Intel brackets, a support bar, fan clips, back plate, retention screws and rubber caps, a tube of thermal paste and Molex to fan adaptors; literally everything you’ll need and more!

Both of the fans are of a very nice quality, which all black fittings and cables, as well as some durable black rubber braiding on the cables.

Both fans come with 4-pin headers, as well as built-in Y-splitters, handy if you’re short on fan connectors on your motherboard. Even if you are short on connectors, at least you’ll also find Molex adaptors in the box.

The Cooler is really nicely designed, with a very cool looking fin-stack that is full of aggressive angles and shapes. Sure, these shapes do add to the aesthetic, but don’t be fooled, as they’re primary purpose is to increase the surface area and push the airflow around the heat pipes, helping to better dissipate heat.

The cooler is very nice to look at and it’s impressive to see those heat pipes packed in so neatly while maintaining such a short form factor. There’s room to mount one of the fans on either side of the cooling towers, allowing you to best suit the fan configuration to the space within your chassis.

There’s sturdy and quite thick block on the base, giving plenty of room to hold all five heat pipes together and this gives a good even coverage of heat pipe over the entire CPU block too, which should help cooling performance a lot.

The heat pipes stick out at the top of the cooler, but the top plate has been given a good polish, giving it a shiny and appealing look.

The bottom of the block is finishing to a mirror shine and is super flat and smooth; this should ensure a clean and even fit across your CPU of choice.

Mushkin Launches New ATLAS VITAL Family of Solid-State Drives

Mushkin announced its latest addition to the ATLAS family of products, the new ATLAS VITAL M.2 2280 Series for Ultrabooks, notebooks, and small form-factor PCs. Atlas Vital is said to be suitable for mobile gamers, professionals, or general end-users looking to take their computing experience to the next level with solid state storage.

The drive comes in a quite a few capacity versions, but all in the M.2 2280 form factor. There will be 120GB, 140GB, 250GB, 480GB, and 500GB versions of this SandForce SF-2000 series based solid state drive. It seems like somewhat of a weird choice to go with a SandForce controller these days, as there are far better ones available. It isn’t a bad controller either and the Atlas Vital drive can perform sequential speeds up to 550MB/s while reading and 535MB/s while writing. The random 4K performance is rated up to 86K IOPS for low-latency and high throughput.

The Atlas Vital is aimed at the value-minded users looking to improve their experience over traditional hard drives and that also explains the choice of controller. It is a cheaper controller that allows Mushkin to create a better performing drive at a lower price, but at the costs of a few features.

Mushkin did not announce the availability or price of the drives yet, but those information are sure to follow very soon.

MIT Demonstrate Atlas Robots New Trick

Remember the multi talented Atlas robot created by Boston Dynamics? Well it looks like it’s still being improved upon since it’s 2013 outing at the DARPA Robotics Challenge. While this is still one of the most capable humanoid robots on the planet, it’s still picking up new tricks and after some recent upgrades a team at MIT have taught Atlas to carry objects of different weights in each hand.

Carrying two different weight and/or size objects doesn’t sound overly impressive, but the way different objects behave has profound effects on movement, balance and more. Having this capability gives the Atlas robot a much wider range of real-world applications, such as carrying a heavy shield in one hand and a sawn off shotgun in the other… oh wait, I mean for things like construction or clearing out dangerous debris in disaster zones that would otherwise be unsafe for humans.

In the video below you can see Atlas dragging around a sizeable aluminium pillar with one hand. Feel free to mute the video if you’re not a fan of annoying high pitched noises.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/oYSitvLW0r0[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas Multi-Format Gaming Headset

Introduction


Turtle Beach is one of the biggest gaming brands around, having earned a great reputation for producing a wide range of headset products that cover a wide spectrum of budgets. Whilst I’ve seen and heard a lot of good things from their budget models, the really exciting stuff is obviously at the upper end of the budget scale. The latest addition to their range certainly falls into the premium bracket, with an RRP of £119.99 (and many retailers selling at around £140) they’re obviously not targeted at your average gamer.

With the release of Titanfall came a huge wave of associated merchandise and peripherals, the Titanfall Earforce Atlas is the official headset of EA’s new FPS and as such it should be one of the best headsets around to enjoy one of the most popular games on the market right now.  Designed to work with the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, the Atlas offers improved value for money as it works on multiple formats, hopefully negating the need to own more than one headset. I also know that since this headset features a 3.5mm jack plug, it’s perfectly compatible with the PlayStation 4 and mobile device, something work keeping in mind if you’re not an Xbox fan.

I normally find something here to say about the features and specifications of the products I test, but for some reason Turtle Beach haven’t published technical specifications of their headset. The only thing I did find was this marketing riddled feature list that you can see below. In summary we can say that the headset features multi-format support, powerful drivers, bass boost features (360 and PC only) and microphone monitor.

Features

  • Designed for Xbox One – Headphones are tuned to provide the highest quality audio from the Xbox One Audio Adapter.
  • Customize Your Audio – Personalize game & chat mix volume, plus mic mute right at your fingertips.
  • Be Heard Loud and Clear – High-Quality removable mic for chat on Xbox One, Skype, and Xbox Live.
  • Comfortable, Twist-Cup Design – Breathable mesh cushions on ear cups rotate-to-flat for wearing around your neck.
  • Bass Boost – Built-in Bass Boost adds more depth and punch to the game audio (Xbox 360 & PC only).
  • Mic Monitor – Hear own voice in the headset to avoid shouting.
  • For Your Entertainment – Ear Force Atlas isn’t just great for Titanfall. Enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows with superior quality sound. Then crank up your tunes from music services like Xbox Music or Skype with friends!
  • Mobile Gaming – Perfect for gaming on your mobile phone, tablet or portable game devices.
  • Turtle Beach Audio Advantage – With more than 35 years of audio experience, Turtle Beach delivers innovative technology to provide a competitive advantage and the most realistic and immersive audio experience built into a high quality, comfortable headset. Outstanding sound, features and quality. That’s why we are #1 in Gaming Audio.

The packaging on the Atlas is really nicely designed, lots of cool graphics and a nice image of the headset on the front of the box. Down the right side is a labeled image of the Xbox One audio adapter and the Xbox 360 / PC in-line amp which are included in the box.

Around the back is a slightly more detailed run down of the headsets features, but once again the packaging lacks any real technical specifications of the hardware other than the fact it features 50mm drivers. The box is also keen to point out that Titanfall is not included in the box.

Upon opening the box, you’ll find all the components neatly laid out and well protected by the plastic mould packaging.

Almost everything you need to get you going is in the box, including the Xbox One audio adaptor, cables, microphone, in-line controller /amp and of course the headset. The only thing not included is an Xbox 360 audio adaptor, so those wanting to use the 360 will need to buy that separately, fortunately I already own one from previous headset reviews.

The in-line amp and controller is only for use with the Xbox 360 and PC, but offers you volume controls, mute functions and an extra long cable to run it from your console / PC to your seating position. The AUX to 3.5mm female cable for the Xbox is included, but again, you will need your own Xbox 360 audio adaptor to connect it to your console.

The Xbox One doesn’t need the in-line amp, but gets the same audio control functionality via this clip-in attachment for the Xbox One controller. Do keep in mind that your console needs to have the latest update applied for the headset to be compatible.

Finally in the box you’ll find a detachable microphone, it features a flexible boom and a large foam head which can easily be removed for cleaning.

Titanfall Edition Atlas Headset Announced By Turtle Beach

While the upcoming shooter title from EA, Titanfall, is around the corner, it is bound for manufacturers to release editions for the most anticipated games. This si the case for Turtle Beach, where the manufacturer will introduce its Titalfall edition of Atlas headset.

The Titanfall Edition Altis headset is said t be a high-end gaming headset, which the company will release at the same time as the Titalfall game, though the date will coincide with the release date from North America, therefore potential buyers will still have to wait for the game to launch in their country to be able to use it for the actual game itself (you might plan on listening to some music with it to pass the time though).

The Atlas headset style and design is made to reflect the elements in the Titanfall game, having a futuristic design and a combination of muted grey with bright blue and a drop of red to create a more “I want to buy this!” attitude for dedicated gamers.

Turtle Beach states that the headset is made to be compatible with all platforms on which EA’s title will be launched on, namely the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, as well as mobile platforms. It is said to offer you a stereo audio from its twin, full-range 50 mm speakers, having a built-in amplifier to help you get the kick out of it. Though, it is highly recommended to use it at an acceptable volume so as not to damage your hearing over time.

The headset will also feature game and chat volume controls for a better integration with the dedicated game for which it is initially made, coming also with comfortable earcups which are designed to give the user a comfortable wear for hours of continuous gameplay. Other features consist of a detachable microphone and a built-in bass boost.

Turtle Beach’s Titalfall Atlas headset is stated to be released on March 11th, that is the Titanfall game’s release date as well if you did not know that until now, and will be seen on retailers’ shelves at a price tag of £139,99.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of KitGuru