Shuttle’s New DH170 1-Liter Mini-PC Now Available in the UK

Shuttle has been on a roll as of late, releasing one new system after another, but one of the most impressive ones is probably the DH170 which features impressive options in a tiny 1.3-liter chassis. Now the Shuttle DH170 is officially available in the UK. The XPC Slim Series DH170 system is built upon the H170 chipset with support for the latest Skylake processors (up to 65W TDP) while only being 43m thick.

The Shuttle DH170 can be equipped with up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR3L 1600 RAM, but there is only one 2.5-inch SATA3 drive bay. Then again, there are limits to what fits inside such a small system so that’s an understandable limitation and one drive should still be plenty for most usage scenarios for this system. While I just said that it only had room for one drive, that’s technically incorrect as the DH170 also features an M.2 2260/2242 Type B M key socket and a Half-size Mini-PCIe socket.

You get an impressive external connectivity with the DH170 as it features four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers (i211 and i219LM) that support teaming. It also features a Realtek ALC662 HD audio solution as well as triple monitor connection via two DisplayPort and one HDMI connector. A wireless antenna fixture, serial ports, and a card reader are also included in the DH170.

This tiny reliable system is rated for continues 24/7 usage in 50-degree environments without the smart fan having any trouble keeping everything cool. It’s also economical with its 90W power supply. The DH170 is available now for £194 (VAT excluded).

Key Features:

  • Intel H170 chipset supports the latest Intel Skylake processors
  • Compact 1.3-liter chassis only 43mm thick
  • Rugged design and construction for 24/7 stability and high-temperature environments
  • Supports three independent displays even at 4K resolution; two DisplayPorts and one HDMI
  • Ample connectivity; four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, two RS232; M.2., Mini PCI-E
  • VESA mount compatibility
  • Available at Entaonline.com for £194

MSI Announces Cubi 2 Plus Mini-PC

MSI announced a new addition to their lineup of mini-PCs with the release of the new MSI Cubi 2 Plus. The new Cubi 2 Plus is built on the same principle as other mini-PCs where modern technology meets a space-saving design. This is also a system that will speak equally to normal consumers like you and me as well as businesses that want the benefits from a powerful system without the size restraints.

This new generation Cubi comes with the new mini-STX motherboard form factor that is about 29% smaller than a mini-ITX motherboard and making it the smallest motherboard with a socket design available. This is a new thing for miniPCs and it will allow you to easily upgrade the CPU should it be needed. You are still limited to the Skylake-S processors, but that in return makes the Cubi 2 Plus a very energy-efficient device that and uses less power.

The Intel H110 chipset used will allow you to install up to 32GB DDR4 memory to run at speeds up to 2133MHz. Internally you can attach one M.2 SSD and one 2.5-inch SATA drive which should be plenty local storage. Externally the Cubi 2 Plus offers both USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1, and USB 2.0 with super charger function. It has normal Gigabit Ethernet LAN powered by an Intel i219LM controller and dual-band wireless support via an M.2 adapter.

Overall, this is a system that seems to have it all and the only weak point, if you could call it that, is the use of Intel HD graphics. You still get support for dual-monitor setup through the HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.

The new MSI Cubi 2 Plus is scheduled to be globally available by the beginning of March 2016. Next to the normal Cubi 2 Plus there also will be a vPro edition with support for Intel’s® vPro technology. With all the security benefits it now also features Intel Unite. Intel Unite lets you easily set up meetings with colleagues that are all around the world and supports sharing up to 4 screens at the same time.

Feature Highlights

  • Windows 10 Home
  • DDR4 2133HMz up to 32GB
  • 6th Intel® Skylake-S power saving processor
  • Equipped with USB3.1 Gen1 type C
  • Maximum to 1 x M.2 SSD and 1 x 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD
  • Supports 4K ultra-high definition resolution
  • Supports Dual monitors
  • Special USB2.0 port on the top of the case with supercharger
  • Supports Microsoft DirectX 12
  • Support 802.11ac Combo Card
  • Support standard VESA-mount

MSI Bundles Limited Edition Heroes of the Storm with Select Systems

Blizzard had a very long and impressive success with World of Warcraft and while that is declining, they haven’t really found the next big thing to capture the users on the same level. Heroes of Storm has been off to a relatively good start, but nothing compared to World of Warcraft. That means that the marketing has to change and we see a lot of promotions lately with Heroes of the Storm packages bundled. The latest in this series is MSI that now bundles limited edition versions of Heroes of the Storm with select gaming systems.

While the game in itself is free, there are many items to get and these bundles include downloadable limited edition items for Heroes of the Storm. MSI’s bundle comes with their desktops and All-in-One PCs that are officially authorized and recommended by Blizzard Entertainment. While we have seen other bundles in the past, this is the first time that Blizzard teamed up for full systems.

Most people should know Heroes of the Storm by now, even if they haven’t played it themselves. It is a multiplayer online battle arena game that features heroes from Blizzard’s other games such as Diablo, Warcraft, and StarCraft. The game uses both free-to-play and freemium models and is supported by micropayments, which can be used to obtain heroes, visual alterations for the heroes in the game and mounts.

The limited edition MSI GAMING 24 and GAMING 27 all-in-one PCs have been engraved with Blizzard’s Heroes to make it remarkable. Users will find an exclusive voucher with the Hero character named Valla inside. The Nighblade MI2 system comes with an exclusive voucher with Hero character, Diablo with a Kaijo Skin while the MSI Nightblade X2B comes with a voucher for the Hero character Gazlowe and a Big Top skin.

These MSI systems might be compact and small, but they still pack great power that is backed by Intel i7’s and Nvidia 900 series graphics cards, among other things. If you just want something simple that works right out of the box, then solutions like these could be perfect. If you also play Heroes of the Storm or want to start it, then they might be perfect.

Enermax Introduces ETS-N30II Air CPU Cooler

Enermax released some impressive cooling solutions over the years and they’re back with one more before New Year’s and introduced the new ETS-N30II side-flow CPU cooler. The new ETS-N30II is the second generation and where the previous model already scored great reviews and rewards around the web, the new one puts one on top with even better efficiency.

Enermax designed the ETS-N30II for use in small and compact systems and it is only 137.2mm high. The tiny CPU cooler comes with perfect RAM compatibility thanks to the asymmetrical heat-pipe design that shifts the whole thing a little to one side. Enermax opted for a 90mm RPM fan and despite the somewhat limited size of everything, the ETS-N30II still comes with a TDP support up to 150W. The three heat-pipes are 6mm thick and the cooler utilizes direct heat-pipe touch for the best cooling abilities.

Enermax applied several of their own patented technologies to bring you the best cooling performance in a compact size. The Vortex Generator Flow is generated by spoilers on the fins that lead the air to the back of the heat pipes too, instead of just hitting the front of them as on most coolers. It also features a closed air path in order to optimize the airflow. It prevents air flow from escaping to the sides before it reaches the entire heatsink.

This second generation ETS-N30 has a 3-degree improvement over the predecessor and it can keep your CPU 22 degrees colder than the stock cooler can do. Enermax also chose to include a fan RPM reduction adapter for those who don’t need as much cooling capability and rather would like a 25% reduction in the noise generation by reducing the speed from 800-2800RPM to 600-1800RPM.

Besides the basic model with a black fan, you’re also able to get the ETS-N30II with Enermax’s Twister Bearing LED fan that has a 160K hours MTBF and zero friction noise. The 12 blue LEDs can give a cool visual bonus to the overall system.

Enermax did not reveal pricing or availability at this time, but pricing should be very similar to the previous ETS-N30 model and availability should be very soon.

Spire Introduces PowerCube 715 Micro-ATX Chassis

Spire released a new small chassis that looks quite stylish and they call it the PowerCube 715. This cube chassis can hold a micro-ATX or a mini-ITX motherboard along with a standard sized ATX power supply. There is even a 420W power supply included with the PowerCube 715.

The small chassis has room for two 3.5-inch hard disk drives next to the motherboard and PSU. The front panel has both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectors next to the HD audio 3.5mm jacks, but that’s also about the highlights when it comes to this chassis. It’s certainly not anything special feature wise, but it fulfills the basic needs and couple look quite good on an office desk.

I have doubts that the Spire PowerCube 715 will find a lot of fans among our enthusiast readers, especially with the included un-rated power supply. Most people would rather pick their own PSU and then the extra money paid or the package deal would be a waste. The Spire PowerCube 715 comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of €64,95.

Would you want to build a system with this new Spire chassis or do you have better suggestions for our readers that want to build a stylish and compact system? Let us know in the comments.

Giada Launches Dust-Proof and Fanless F200 Mini PC

Giada is known for their compact systems and they’ve now released their brand new F200 thin client that was first showcased at Computex in June.

The Giada F200 provides a complete thin client solution device that helps reduce operating costs and power consumption as well as coming with a longer life cycle. The Giada F200 is great for applications in thin client systems as well as virtual terminals, digital signage and industry control computers.

The tiny chassis is an all-metal chassis that makes it more durable than its plastic competitors as well as providing a better EMI shielding. At the same time, the all-metal design allows the entire case to help with the heat dissipation. The F200 measures 116.6 x 107.2 x 30 mm, making it 1/30 the volume of a traditional PC. Why have more if this is enough.

The F200 is built around an Intel Celeron N2807 processor, allowing the F200 to consume a grand total of 5W under full load. It comes with 2GB DDR3L memory onboard and one Mini-PCIe slot for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or a 3G mobile module. You can get it with optional 8GB or 16GB eMMC storage and also add more via an SSD on the available mSATA 2 port. There is also an SIM card slot for a 3G card. Onboard is a Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controller, IR interface, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0, and one COM port.

To reach as many users as possible and meet their various OS demands, the F200 is specially designed to support both Windows & Android. For Windows OS, the F200 is compatible with Windows7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Giada also applied the patented JAHC hardware automation functions to take care of remote operations. JAHC provides built-in capabilities for unattended operations such as auto power on when connected to power, RTC wake up or a scheduled power on/off.

The MSRP for the Giada F200 Barebone System is set to $110 USD.

Giada Relaunches N70E-DR mITX NAS Motherboard

Giada created the probably best mITX motherboard quite a while ago with the M70E-DR and now they’ve relaunched it in a third revision due to popular demand. The N70E-DR V3 mITX NAS motherboard bring 6 SATA ports, 1 mSATA, Dual Intel LAN, and HD graphics with HDMI out; and it does that with a TDP of just 17W. That makes this board perfect for home storage use, such as DIY NAS projects as well as video surveillance servers.

The CPU used in this third revision of the N70E-DR is an Intel Celeron 1037U dual-core with 1.8GHz and the aforementioned 17W TDP. That includes onboard Intel HD Graphics with both D-Sub VGA and HDMI out. No problem to turn a system with this board into a hybrid system with direct use as well. The board comes with six SATA ports, but only two of these are SATA3 due to the Intel HM77 Express chipset limitations. That should still be plenty for mechanical storage drives and that is the intended use. The added m-SATA socket allows you to add another drive or possible a wireless card of some sort if that is what you need.

The PCI-E x16 slot only runs at x4 speed, which is a little downside yet no deal breaker in my opinion. The dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are controlled by Intel’s 82574 controller and should provide a great connectivity. Other connections include a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, a COM port, and two Audio jacks. The motherboard supports up to 8GB DDR3 SO-DIMM with a speed up to 1600 MHz in the single SO-DIMM socket.

Feature Highlights

  • 6x SATA ports (2x SATA III, 4x SATA II)
  • Native SATA RAID support: 0/1/5/10
  • 2x Intel Gigabit Ethernet Ports
  • Low power consumption – 17W TDP
  • Compact Mini-ITX form factor 6.7″x 6.7
  • Intel Celeron 1037U CPU with advanced Intel 22nm technology

So if you are planning to build a DIY NAS in the near future, make sure to take a closer look at the Giada N70E-DR V3 motherboard.

Gelid Launched Low Cost and Low Profile 1U Intel CPU cooler

Cooling is an important factor in compact builds such as SFF and 1U rack mounted systems, but it’s something that can be tricky at times. You either get something that isn’t very effective or you get something that is loud.

Gelid has just launched their newest cooler, the Polar, and it is designed for just this. It is a low-profile CPU cooler compatible with Intel’s LGA 1150, 1155, and 1156 sockets. The tiny cooler supports Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, and Core i5 processors with a TDP up to 65W.

The heatsink height is just 27mm, so it will fit almost any chassis and the fan is inserted into it and won’t take up any extra space. Speaking of the fan, it is a 75mm fan and it features an intelligent PWM Fan Control and has an RPM between 1400 and 2000. It is a silent ball bearing fan and it can push an air flow of 29.6/50.3 CFM/CMH.

The width and length are both 92mm so it shouldn’t interfere with any other components such as RAM or PCIe slots, nor power or fan connectors. The noise level is rated between 16 and 28.9 dBa.

It is rated for 50 thousand hours of lifetime and is backed by a five-year warranty. Best of all, the suggested retail price is just $14 USD or €12 Euro.

 

AMD Has No Faith in Its Own Processors

AMD had everyone excited up to their press conference where they presented us to the new Radeon R7 and R9 300 series as well as the new Fury, Fury X, and Fury Nano graphics cards. The event wasn’t very spectacular in itself, although everyone did get excited once the Fury’s were presented.

In the event was also the presentation of their Project Quantum gaming PC. A system smaller than most consoles, yet packing the power of two Fiji GPUs inside, quite possibly making it the most powerful gaming system built, at least in such a compact form factor.

The funny side of things comes when we look at the hardware specs on the system. We know that the graphics card is a dual-GPU Fury card, but the processor is an Intel i7 CPU. It seems that AMD doesn’t have enough faith in their own processor power to put them into a system like this. Either they’re not powerful enough and will bottleneck the huge amount of GPU power or they’ll run too hot for a compact system like this.

What the reason is, we don’t know. But it clearly shows that AMD needs to step up their game in the processor department too, because not using AMD hardware in an AMD designed and built system is pretty funny.

Overclockers UK Revamps Prebuilt Systems

Overclockers UK is one of the largest gaming PC system builders in the UK and that’s a thing they don’t take lightly. As such, they’re revamping their current line up of gaming systems and splitting them up into easier to understand categories.

The first of the new series we’re presented with is the new Atomic range featuring compact systems that still pack a great punch. While the systems already are tailored for most demands, customers can still customize them before ordering thanks to the easy to use website.

The new Atomic series of compact systems start at £409.99 and are ideal for those with limited space, whether it is in your living room, bedroom, office, or something to take with you to LAN events.

The new series consists off the Titan Electron, Neutron, Photon, Proton, and Quark systems that are built into some of the best SFF cases on the market from makers such as Silverstone, Raijintek and Xigmatek.

The systems are built in-house by Overclocker UK’s experienced builders and overclockers and come backed by a 3-year warranty that also can be extended. The systems are fully Windows 10 ready, allowing Windows 7 and 8 users to easily upgrade once the new system is released.

The systems will also come with a free Xbox Wireless controller for a limited time and while supply lasts. These systems are definitely worth a checkout if you’re in the market for a new and compact system.

QNAP’s Compact TS-453 Mini NAS Now Available

It’s only been about a month since QNAP introduced us to their new top loading 4-bay mini NAS. Now it has been officially released, has arrived at stores, and can be yours.

The system is built around a quad-core processor and offers a lot of storage options at a tiny footprint. The vertical design allows it to take less space and fit into smaller areas, making it perfect for non-spacious office environments, dorm rooms, and similar.

It is available in two models, one with 2GB and one with 8GB memory pre-installed. Upgrading memory is a piece of cake on this unit as it’s conveniently accessible from the bottom. No need to take the entire unit apart anymore.

Despite the smaller size and the mini name, the TS-453mini offers all the things you want and expect from a QNAP devices. You get dual LAN, USB 3.0 connectivity, and direct HDMI out.

QNAPs QPvC technology allows you to use the NAS as virtualization station and install other operating systems such as Linux, windows, or android directly on the NAS. Connect a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and pack away that old HTPC. Direct media playback and other HTPC functions are equally supported just as remote controls are.

You still get 24TB raw capacity with the four drive bays at your disposal and the 6TB hard disks that more or less has become the norm these days.

The Intel Celeron 2GHz processor is able to deliver up to 220MB/s transfer throughput and can be expanded all the way up to 96TB by the use of the UX-800P expansion enclosure and 8TB hard drives – because they are equally supported.

Business users don’t miss out either as it supports VMware, Microsoft and Citrix virtualization solutions, cross-platform sharing, Windows AD, LDAP and ACL, Rsync, RTRR, and cloud backups.

TS-453mini Key specifications

  • vertical design, 4-bay
  • Intel Celeron 2.0GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.41GHz)
  • 8GB/2GB DDR3L RAM (max. 8GB)
  • 3.5”/2.5” SATA HDD/SSD support, hot-swappable
  • 3 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x Gigabit LAN ports
  • 1 x HDMI v1.4a output
  • IR sensor

The 2GB RAM model currently costs £481.00 on Amazon UK while the 8GB RAM model will set you back £601.89. We are currently in the process of reviewing just this unit and I can already reveal that it’s an awesome unit.

Antec ISK 110 90w Mini-ITX VESA Compatible Chassis Review

Introduction


The Antec ISK series has long been a favorite of mine. Sure we sometimes need high-end full towers, capable of housing epic gaming systems, but there’s a high demand for compact and efficient systems in the home and the office; something the ISK series is well suited to. The model we’re looking at today certainly is targeted more at the professional market, with many applications from digital signage and office systems, but there’s certainly no reason why you wouldn’t find a use for a chassis like this as a HTPC, space-saving system or more.

As you can see, the ISK110 comes equipped with a nice little bundle of screws, but more importantly, an external power supply adaptor. The ISK110 is capable of powering a system of up to 90w, which may not sound a lot, but given the low power requirements of 2.5″ drives and modern processors such as Haswell, it’s a lot more than it sounds; this is especially true given that this chassis will not house a graphics card.

Given the compact nature of the chassis, this is all the power cables you’ll need on the interior. A single cable attached to the PSU PCB on the interior of the chassis, as has your standard motherboard and CPU power cables, as well as a couple of SATA connectors and a single MOLEX.

Also included in the box, you’ll find this metal VESA mount, giving you the option to fit the entire chassis onto the back of a VESA-compatible display; this could save you a lot of space on your desktop.

Further mounting options are provided via this lovely vertical mount, which provides a stable base for the chassis should you want to stand it upright on its side.

It’s got a few rubber grips on the base and just like the VESA mount, it simply clips onto the base of the chassis.

The chassis its self is nice and compact. Overall, it’s not much bigger than a mini-ITX motherboard and not that much thicker either; there should be just enough room for a low-profile CPU cooler in here.

There’s loads of ventilation in the top section and a little extra on the base to help keep things cool.

The front panel is nicely equipped with four USB 2.0 ports, HD audio jacks, two LED indicators and, of course, the power button.

Around the back, there’s a snap-off mini-ITX cover and a small power port. You’ll also notice two screws in the top panel and two more in the bottom, these are all that is needed to remove either panel.

The base and top section of the chassis, or the left and right side depending on your chosen orientation, has a little more ventilation. There’s also some holes to mount the VESA or vertical mount on the left/bottom side.

Apple’s New Macbook Is Almost Impossible to Fix Yourself

It’s pretty obvious to most people that Apple devices are not designed with DIY repairs in mind. The new MacBook design takes the difficulty to a new height.

The crew over at the popular tech tear down and repair website, iFixit have gotten their hands on the new MacBook and in true fashion, taken it apart. From reading through their article we can see that Apple has removed a lot of repair options and gateways to be able to cram every little bit of tech into the tiny metal case. Most components are glued or soldered together to keep them as compact as possible.

Apple have made the innards of the new Mac an absolute nightmare for a day to day tinkerer looking for a cheap fix. If you break your Mac you’ll most likely have to send it off to Apple to be repaired. The battery is inserted into the case in several segments too. Meaning if you overcharge your battery it’ll be crazily expensive to repair.

On the flip side we can see why Apple have done this, there are a lot less things to break in the new Mac compared to previous models and other models of laptop. It’s a smart design choice made by their team that means less repairs will need to be carried out over the years of manufacture; making them will be a lot cheaper too!

 

What are your thoughts on the new MacBook design? let us know in the comment section below.

Thank you to iFixit for the information.

Images courtesy of iFixit.

COUGAR Releases QBX Advanced Compact Gaming Case

COUGAR announced the arrival of their new QBX chassis, a compact and advanced case create to accommodate great hardware without compromising size or cooling abilities. The QBX only measures 178 x 260 x 368 mm but still allows you to mount 350mm long high-end graphics cards, five hard disks (both HDD and SSD), a slim ODD, 140mm long ATX PSU, and comes with front USB 3.0 ports.

Such massive amount of hardware options also needs proper cooling, often an issue in compact cases. The COUGAR QBX solves this by allowing up to 7 fans to be installed as well as water cooling with radiators up to 240mm. The PSU is also mounted to have an independent airflow so that doesn’t interfere with the rest of the cooling.

The new COUGAR QBX will be available starting in late April, sadly no word on pricing yet.

Thanks to COUGAR for providing us with this information

QNAP Releases New Compact TS-251C Turbo NAS

QNAP announced the release of the TS-251C Turbo NAS, a 2-bay compact NAS that is built around an Intel Celeron dual-core CPU and with a budget-friendly price tag. The TS-251 might be budget on the price, but it still comes with all the features you’d like for both Cloud services and home media centre. The TS-251C comes with features such as real-time/offline Full HD video transcoding for video streaming via DLNA, AirPlay, Chromecast and Plex Media Server, HDMI-out with XBMC media player, and all the usual apps and functions for cross-platform file storage, backup and sharing.

“The TS-251C is the ideal choice for users to quickly create a secure personal space for file storage, backup, synchronization, and multimedia,” said Jason Hsu, product manager of QNAP. “It comes with a surprising price tag that offers an incredible choice for budget-concerned users that want the best possible performance.”

The use of the x86 architecture allows for a lot more application to be installed and run compared to ARM architectures and could be the perfect solution for the growing needs of digital content storage in modern small offices and home environments. The dual-core Intel Celeron 2.41GHz processor is backed by 1GB DDR3L RAM and can provide up to 112 MB/s read & write speeds, even with full NAS encryption setup.

If you don’t want to use the media streaming functions that it has, then you can connect it directly to a TV via the built-in HDMI port and use the included HD Station and XBMC app instead. This is great for older TVs with limited playback abilities and eliminates the need for an extra HTPC.

Key specifications

  • 2-bay tower model
  • Dual-core Intel® Celeron® 2.41 GHz processor
  • 1GB DDR3L RAM
  • 3.5” SATA HDD
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN port
  • HDMI output (v1.4a, 1080p)

The new QNAP TS-251C Turbo NAS is available now

Availability

The new TS-251C Turbo NAS is said to be available now, but couldn’t find it listed at any shop at the time of writing. No word on pricing either, except that it will be cheap.

Thanks to QNAP for providing us with this information

Mad Catz Announced L.Y.N.X.3 Mobile Wireless Controller

Mad Catz announced the L.Y.N.X. 3 Mobile Wireless Controller, a highly-compact mobile game controller. It is designed for those who value performance combined with lightweight portability and it retains the transformative design of the L.Y.N.X. 9 that allows you to fold it up during travels.

“We’re thrilled with the attention the L.Y.N.X.9 has garnered and proud of the multiple ‘Best of CES’ awards received when we unveiled the new controller in January 2015. We’re excited to now introduce the L.Y.N.X. 3 as the newest member in the L.Y.N.X. range – a new mobile gaming controller designed to convey the same striking looks and Bluetooth® technology, at a price point which we believe will resonate strongly with passionate mobile gamers,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “We expect that mobile gaming will see strong growth in 2015, and we believe our strategy of offering console-quality controllers for every budget will allow our GameSmart range to contribute positively to our sales in fiscal 2016.”

The L.Y.N.X. 3 features a removable mobile clip for docking a smartphone when on the move and a full complement of analog thumbsticks, action buttons and trigger controls, as well as the companion L.Y.N.X. app which will unlock additional functionality.

The entry-level L.Y.N.X. 3 mobile game controller will debut on March 1st at the MobileFocus Global 2015 in Barcelona and is expected to begin shipping in Spring 2015.

Thanks to Mad Catz for providing us with this information

Sony Receives Four IF Design Awards for 2015, One of Them for the Xperia Z3

Sony Mobile seems to have gained four IF Design Awards for 2015. The awards were given out to Sony’s Xperia Z2, the SmartWatch 3, LifeLong app and the Xperia Z3.

Sony’s Xperia Z2 appears to have been appreciated for its rounded corners and light weight, making the slate easy to handle. Another key feature for its awards was the minimum number of components used, the water and dust proofing, as well as attention to detail, receiving the IF Design Award 2015, Discipline Product – Gold.

“It is particularly difficult to stand out with a product like a tablet – but exactly this was achieved with the extremely flat Xperia Z2. The rounded edges and the ultra-light weight (only 439 grams) make the Z2 particularly easy to handle. The amount of components has been reduced to a minimum; details such as the connection of frame and back are excellently executed – furthermore, the Z2 is water and dust proof. The result is an honest, outstanding device.”-IF Design Jury

Sony also received IF Design Awards last year for its Xperia Z Ultra phablet, Sony SmartWatch 2, Sony Xperia C, Bluetooth Handset SBH52, and Xperia Z1 Compact.

Thank you PhoneArena for providing us with this information

Portable Smartphone Battery Pack Roundup Review

Introduction


Today we’ll take a look in to a few different portable battery pack offerings from companies from around the globe. You’re quite possibly just like me – in the beginning you weren’t exactly certain why people would want or need to invest in a portable battery and maybe even thought of them to be quite useless. Then came along my Galaxy S4. As great as the phone performs, even when I’m out and about at tech expos’ or traveling around, my phone will be flat in a few hours – even with all precautions possible taken.

Screen brightness down, check. GPS off, check. Wireless disabled, check. Background applications closed, yep. Then, as your 6th hour away from a USB port rolls around, you hear that all-too-noteable “bloop bloop” – your phone is warning you that only 15% of your battery remains. In comes our hero, in the form of a 5,000 mAh – 11,000 mAh power bank. If you’re going to take most large-brand consumer phones into account, they’ll be providing you with an average battery sizing of around 2,600 mAh – as seen in Samsung’s Galaxy S4. If you’re running a 5,000 mAh battery pack and take into account some small power losses along the way, you’re looking at about 1.8 full charges of your device.

We’re not here to tell you if you do or don’t need a power bank in your life, but here are some packs that we think are worth a look at. The full list of products in this roundup and their pricing is as follows:

X2 Announced The TRAJAN Small Gamer Enclosure

X2 announced the TRAJAN chassis (X2-A902B-CE/R-U3) that designed to be small and light, yet bring enough features to convince a gamer that this could be his next case. Build from durable lightweight metal, a simple yet sophisticated design which are not just cool but also dust-proof due to the fan intake grills. Not only are the designs well thought out, the features are also something to look into.

The TRAJAN is built with durable lightweight metal and has a simple design. It’s touted as being dustproof due to the fan intake grills, but I think that is just what the rest of us consider as dust covers and not really proof.

It is compatible with ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX motherboards and takes normal ATX power supply units too. It also has support for the high-end graphics cards like the Titan and GTX780 as well as water-cooling systems. It has three USB 3.0 ports and HD AUDIO jacks on the front of the case. That doesn’t sound all too bad for a case that is about half the size and weight of most tower cases.

Main Features:

  • Contemporary & sophisticated design
  • Durable lightweight metal, SECC 0.6mm thick
  • Dust-proof intake, front USB & AUDIO connections
  • All black, front panel and internal structure
  • ATX and ITX motherboard compatible
  • Standard ATX power supply compatibility

The X2 TRAJAN case will be available in Europe at the end of January and should already be available in the US. The MSRP is set to €54.95 and $69.95 respectively.

Thanks to X2 for providing us with this information

GIGABYE Release a Mini-ITX Ready NVIDIA 970

GIGABYTE has just announced the release of their new compact 970 video card, the GV-N970IXOC-4GD. Designed for Mini-ITX applications, the card utilizes the WindForce 3X heat sink for cooling but has been modified to use only one fan – this is due to the original 3 fan configuration being too large for the compact nature and design of this beast. The two heat pipes measure 8mm and 5mm respectively and once again attached to the classic GIGABYE ‘Triangle Cool Technology” as seen in their larger editions.

GIGABYTE has claimed this new card will run semi-intensive games such Metro: Last Light whilst maintaining a steady temperature of 62 degrees Celsius, but we’ve heard claims that the public version of this card reaches something closer to 76C.

Do not be fooled by the compact nature of this card, it still packs a tough 970 punch whilst maintaining the classic low power consumption that this model is becoming famous for. The cooling could possibly be an issue, especially if you’re running your mini-ITX system jam packed full of hard drives and a large CPU coolers in preparation for sharing many gigabytes of freeware at your local LAN party.

The core of this card is said to be clocked at 1076-1216MHz, with the public version checking in at more like 1051-1178MHz. Powered by an auxiliary dual 6-pin into a single 8-pin and checking in at 12cm in length, the card doesn’t skimp on the width – taking up dual slots, with a small bit of room to spare.

Outputs include two DVI ports, three display ports and one HDMI and will be coming to stores for around $329.99 USD.

Image courtesy of MyDrivers

Sapphire R9 285 2GB ITX Compact OC Edition Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The popularity of compact graphics cards for small form factor systems has risen in recent years. This is mainly due to AMD and Nvidia making great strides in power and thermal efficiency which allows for more performance in smaller packages. The fact mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases have been popularised by a swath of releases from BitFenix, Corsair, Cooler Master and others also helped this trend. Before the release of Tonga AMD’s R9 270X was the fastest mini-ITX sized graphics card available while Nvidia’s GTX 760 was their fastest. With Tonga that’s set to change as we can now find much more AMD performance – in fact the R9 285 outpaces the GTX 760 so we should have a new mini-ITX graphics card winner on our hands. Sapphire’s ITX Compact OC Edition R9 285 is designed with small form factor users in mind measuring in at just 17.5 cm long yet still featuring a fully fledged R9 285 GPU with a 10 MHz factory overclock – not much but proof that Sapphire’s cooling solution has what it takes. Let’s take a detailed look at the key specifications:

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Sapphire’s packaging has one of their typical dramatic looking robotic characters at the front. Sapphire have opted for a UEFI BIOS and legacy BIOS with this product, you can pick which suits you best.

Around the back Sapphire detail some of the key features of the product, most of which are AMD specifics like TrueAudio support and GCN architecture.

The accessory pack is fairly chunky by Sapphire’s normal standards. They include a variety of documentation, a driver/utility CD and a mousemat.

Sapphire also provide a 1.8m HDMI cable, a mini DisplayPort to full sized DisplayPort adapter, a DVI to VGA adapter and a dual 6 pin to 8 pin adapter.

Now let’s move onto the card itself!

Sony Announces Xperia Z3 Compact

Mobile users looking to get their hands on a smaller sized smartphone that isn’t completely watered down can rejoice. Overnight at IFA 2014 Sony announced the Z3 Compact. Like last year’s Z1 Compact – the Z3 Compact inherits almost exactly the same specifications as its bigger sibling – the Z3. The new device comes kitted with a powerful Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz quad-core processor, 4.6-inch 720×1280 resolution display, 20.7-megapixel 1/2.3-inch imaging sensor (capable of shooting in 4K video) and improved water resistance.

The smartphone market for many years now has trended towards a bigger is better approach, with display sizes dramatically increasing year after year. What’s left behind in its wake is a large void between display sizes and performance. We’ve seen a number of companies release ‘mini’ versions of their flagships – but most have fallen short, with poor specifications, cheaper finicky materials and features. With the Z3 Compact, Sony’s really upped its game – and after our first impressions it looks like they’ve done a magnificent job. With a 2600mAh battery, fantastic optics, 2GB of RAM, and expandable memory – users should receive excellent battery life and zippy performance across the board.

The Z3 Compact comes preloaded with the latest version of Android  (KitKat 4.4.4), and has all the usual bells and whistles that you’d expect from Sony. Everything’s also covered up nice and tight – leading to an improved IP68 certified water resistance rating. Design wise things are familiar with the Z3 Compact. The big change-up is its surrounding exterior band – gone is the metal frame that frequently surrounds Xperia’s – it’s now all plastic. But that’s not a bad thing; the grey plastic is visually pleasing and feels excellent in the hand. The handset can be found in an array of four colours and will be available later this fall.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

 

Synology DS414slim 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


When looking at bulk storage and consequently network storage, the generic blueprint that virtually every vendor follows is a desktop or rackmount system with an even number of drive bays, each with the capacity to hold the largest drives that can be bought on the market today – which come in a 3.5″ format, although we do find a few situations where 2.5″ SSDs are used based on the application of the storage array. Whilst this blueprint is perfectly fine, on the consumer end of the market where we are not always looking at jaw dropping capacities and performance, a typical 4-bay system is not exactly the easiest of things to tuck away under the desk or in the closet and then we have to factor in the cost of getting up and running. 3.52 drives are the only way to go if you want large amounts of storage on hand, but if you want a more modest setup with a system the doesn’t end up acting like a foot rest under your desk, there are barely any options out there to choose from.

2.5″ drives are, for the most part, forgotten about when it comes to mass storage. Unless you are talking about solid state drives, we generally find people taking the 3.5″ route, without even considering 2.5″ spinning platters, which are left for the entry-level notebooks and budget ultra-SFF systems and this is reflected [as highlighted above] in the NAS market from bottom to top. Wanting to break away from this generalised blueprint, Synology have made an ambitious move to shrink down their popular DS414 line of systems into a tiny, baby-NAS like package which runs solely on 2.5″ drives, making the presence of a NAS in the home a lot more subtle than before.

With a top end raw capacity of only 4TB, Synology’s DS414slim is not going to be a storage monster for those who have tons of films, music and photos to store, but for the average Joe who is looking for a tidy, compact system to blend in with their minimalist desktop setup with a nice and reasonable storage capacity of 3TB (when in RAID5), the slim does start to sound like an interesting investment. It’s size is not a sign that we are working on skeleton features either. Whilst we only find a pair of USB3.0 ports and a pair of GbE ports alongside four drive bays, the number of software features that are at your disposal are virtually the same as those found on a full-on NAS such as the DS414 which this is related to. By the time we factor in the lower cost of drives; around £55 / $76 each for one of Western Digital’s 1TB Red drives which are build primarily for the consumer NAS market and what you can have here is a tidy little system that offers just as much as its larger siblings.

Whether or not this move turns out to be a successful move by Synology comes done to the build, features, ease of use and ultimately the performance. After all there is not point in getting such a tiny system if the performance is not worth the cost.

Packed in to the relatively tiny box, Synology provide a power adaptor with regional mains plug, a pair of patch leads, a set of screws, a quick installation guide and something a little bit different – a base on which the unit sits.

Panasonic to Launch First Compact Digital Camera with 4K Video Recording

This month will see Panasonic launch their latest digital camera, the Lumix FZ1000. Of course this is nothing especially crazy, the company releases new cameras all the time, but this one really stands out from the crowd.

The latest edition to the Lumix range will be the world’s first compact digital camera to support 4K video shooting. That means that early adaptors to the 4K product ranges will now have a more versatile way of shooting their own content to playback on their TV / Monitors.

The camera shoots the video at 30FPS, so no HFR 4K support for compact cameras just yet. The only downside in my opinion is that the lens is non-detachable, but it does have a focal range of 25mm to 400mm with the ability to shoot video in both close up and long range modes.

Prices are to be around 100,000 yen, which is just under $1000 without taxes.

Thank you Asahi for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Asahi.

New Mini-ITX Configurations Announced By OriginPC and CyberpowerPC

OriginPC was one of the first manufacturers to offer the monstrous Titan Z card in their custom-build PCs. However, the chassis availability capable of housing the graphics card was limited, until now that is.

The manufacturer announced that NVIDIA’s Titan Z can now fit in some if its select mini-ATX cases, making the company one of the first to offer the smallest 4K PCs on the market. The mini-ATX line capable of handling the Titan Z is the Chronos lineup, having the Corsair 250D and Silverstone RVZ01 mini-ATX cases up for grabs for users wanting a small-size Titan Z configuration.

The Titan Z base configuration announced for the Chronos lineup is set to include Intel’s i5 4460 clocked at 3.2 GHz, the ASUS H97I motherboard, 8 GB of Kingston HyperX memory and a 500 GB hard disk solution, all being priced at $4600.

In addition, CyberpowerPC appears to have announced their own new small form factor PC builds with the addition of the Fang Battlebox. The small form factor case is said to be ready for travel, allowing for a small cage to be fitted inside of a hand plastic carrying case in order for users to take their builds to gaming parties or other gaming events.

Though the Battlebox is designed to be compact, the company states that the design was made with airflow in mind, having and additional option for water-cooling solutions as well, depending on the unit and selected video card. A quick swap tray for hard drives has also been fitted inside the box, having users granted a way to quickly swap between work and leisure data wherever they travel.

In terms of base specifications, the Fang Battlebox is said to one with Intel’s Core i3 4150, 8 GB of memory, 1 TB hard drive solution and integrated graphics, having CyberpowerPC pricing it at $620. Users who want more can get the Intel i7 4770K, 16 GB of memory, 2 TB of hard drive and 128 GB of SSD solutions, as well as NVIDIA’s GTX 780 configuration at the price of $1600.

Thank you Electronista for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of OriginPC and CyberpowerPC

Synology Compact DS414Slim NAS Announced

Synology’s DiskStation NAS products are once of the more popular options out there on the market today and as the demand for systems goes up exponentially, there is a growing demand for systems that cover smaller and smaller desktop footprints. To keep up with this demand, Synology have today announced their latest consumer targeted system that is built on their latest DiskStation Manager (DSM) 5.0 operating system, the DS414Slim. As the name suggests, the DS414Slim is a compact 4-bay solution that works solely with 2.5″ drives, offering up the RAID5 security that a full-sized 3.5″ set of drives would offer, but in a form factor that only takes up around two-thirds that of the DS414j for example.

Powered by a Marvell Armada FPU, the Slim offers 512MB of RAM – twice that of its predecessor, with support for the latest 1.5TB 2.5″ drives, giving a total RAW capacity of 6TB when running in JBOD or RAID0 modes. Connectivity wise we find dual USB3.0 ports and dual-LAN for link aggregated connections as well as all the software features and add-ons that we would find on any other Synology product.

Thadd Well, a PR Manager for Synology’s North America Division spoke out about the system stating, “The DS414slim is really an impressive piece of tech. From the offset, you wouldn’t believe such a small device was actually a server. With DSM 5.0 to bring its components to life, the slim is a fantastic solution for businesses, creative teams, and home enthusiasts looking for compact network attached storage.”

Pricing is set to start at around $299 in the US and around £229 inc VAT in the UK and as samples start to ship out, I’ll be taking a closer look at how the Slim performs in comparison to its full-weight brothers in the coming weeks.

Source and Image courtesy of Synology UK

Gigabyte Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R Ultra Compact Barebones System Review

Introduction


In the early stages of last year, Intel released one of the biggest products of 2013 into the market place and no – it was not Haswell. What I am referring to here is the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC as it is more commonly known. Part of what makes this product so special is its ultra compact design, but on top of that, the system that’s tucked inside has a little more to offer over what one would expect from a system of its size. When we took a look at the first generation NUC and also Gigabyte’s own first generation Brix, the results that we got back showed the performance to be somewhat average, leaving them at the entry-level end of the scale. Consequently, these systems are ideal for basic home office use, but if you want a little more grunt from your system then sadly these early units just won’t cut the mustard.

Since those reviews went live, we have seen a number of Brix branded systems come out of the Gigabyte factories and towards the end of last year we caught wind that there was something special on the way which could potentially remodel the entry-level image that the first generation systems have given us. The question is though, can we really get desktop performance out of a unit this small? Granted this new creation is twice as tall as the first generation Brix, but are we getting substantially more performance as well? Bring forward the Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R.

When we take a look at the spec list that the Brix Pro has on offer, the biggest difference that we have to note is the step up to Intel’s high performance i7 Haswell CPU. Obviously we shouldn’t be expecting a 4770k to be residing in a system of these dimensions, however the 4770R that we do have is actually not a million miles off what its bigger brother has to offer. With a TDP of 65w and a core clock speed of 3.2GHz boosting up to 3.9GHz, there is certainly a lot of poke beneath the covers so we have got the spirit of a 4770k, although overclocking is not present and the power envelope has been reduced to save on the power consumption.

  • Model: GB-BXi7-4770R
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770R @ 3.9GHz
  • Cooler: Copper heatsink with blower fan
  • RAM: Support for up to 16GB 1333 /1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM
  • Storage: mSATA slot plus SATA header for 7.0/9.5mm 2.5″ drives
  • GPU: Intel Iris Pro 5200 Onboard GPU
  • PSU: External 135W DC adaptor
  • Network: Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit LAN, AzureWave AW-CB161H mini PCIe 802.11ac WLAN / BT 4.0 combo
  • Misc: HDMI & mDP display outputs, 4x USB3.0, 3.5mm audio / SPDIF, VESA 75 & VESA 100 compatible
  • Warranty: 2 Year Standard
  • Price: £510.20 inc Vat @ Scan / $649.79 @ Newegg.com

Naturally it is a little hard to test a barebones system as it is so we need to add in a couple of key components before we can put everything through its paces. Over the specifications listed above, a 240GB Intel 525 series mSATA SSD and a 1TB WD Red 2.5″ HDD have been added for storage along with 8GB of Kingston’s 1600MHz ValueRAM.

In addition to the i7 processor, the other key component that the Brix Pro has to offer is Intel’s latest Iris Pro 5200 series graphics. Now at this point I can imagine that a few of you out there are shrugging your shoulders at the thought of Intel graphics, but Iris Pro is nothing like the HD4000 series graphics that we find onboard a 4770k for example. Simply put Intel have stepped up their game with Iris and reworked the way in which their graphics core works to offer up much more power and performance. In simple terms this means that there is the potential for gaming at an average level of detail and this is there for the reason why the Brix Pro has been featured recently as part of the Steam Box era.

Whilst I do state that gaming is a potential application for the Brix Pro, the more modest graphics performance that Iris has to offer is not going to make the Brix Pro the perfect alternative for your full-fat pixel pushing gaming rig – it is just a more tame alternative. Where the Brix Pro is also suited is with the prosumer user group, where image editing and design work requires the more powerful Intel processors and where applications such as Adobe Photoshop relish when surrounded by the higher specified components. By the time we take the price of the bare system and add on the extra components that we have used here (not including operating system) we are looking at a ball park purchase price of around £880 in the UK or around $1080 in the US.

Like the Brix Pro, the packaging is condensed right down with almost no space going to waste. Tucked neatly inside the box, Gigabyte include a full driver set and setup guide, regional power adaptor, VESA bracket and screws for mounting the system to the back of a monitor and finally a small rubber bung to close off the SPDIF output on the front of the system.