FreshTech Solutions Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

FreshTech Solutions is one of the leading system integrators in the UK and forged an impressive reputation for their huge range of pre-configured PCs. Whether you’re on a tight budget looking to try out PC gaming for the first time, or a content creator seeking the absolute best performance, there’s something to suit your requirements. Each PC is backed by generous warranty period and it’s even possible to purchase additional cover for further peace-of-mind. For example, on systems costing £1000 and above, you can increase the warranty length from 3 years to 5 years for £25. If you’re opting for a cheaper rig under the £1000 mark, then it’s possible to select three years cover for £25 and five years support at a cost of £50. This level of flexibility allows you to protect your investment for a period which you expect to use the system for.

When selecting a custom PC, the number of configurations and pricing variation means it’s extraordinarily difficult for novices to judge which model to go for. It’s not always a sensible approach to spend more if you’re unlikely to reap the benefits. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of custom PCs from FreshTech Solutions that we are happy to recommend at various price points. Hopefully, our readers will find this useful and those without technical knowledge can make an informed decision about which unit suits their usage scenario.


£529.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6400
  • 8gb Crucial DDR4 2133MHz
  • 120gb Kingston V300 SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • Nvidia GTX 950 2GB
  • Gigabyte H110M-S2H
  • Falcon Blue Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour)

The first machine we’re taking a look at targets consumers on a very tight budget who want to enter into the Intel ecosystem. While you could compile a cheaper build using an AMD CPU and AM3+ motherboard, it doesn’t offer much headroom in the future if you suddenly demand additional horsepower. The majority of games are GPU bound but there’s some examples including ARMA III and more recently, Black Desert Online which rely heavily on a system’s CPU performance. This particular build features a large enough capacity boot SSD to install the operating system and enjoy a snappier feel in Windows.

Also, the GTX 950 2GB graphics card is a great choice for 1080P gaming providing you turn down a few settings. On another note, the lack of overclocking isn’t an issue at this price and won’t impact on the user experience during graphically intensive games. Ideally, I’d recommend paying extra for the next tier, but this is a great choice for beginners moving away from consoles for the very first time.


£699.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 960 2GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Blue Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next system which retails for £699.00 offers overclocking functionality due to the unlocked K processor and Z170 chipset. Furthermore, the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 contains an illuminated LED strip on the PCB to create a more ostentatious appearance. This higher end model includes the GTX 960 2GB GPU to maintain improved frame-rates at higher settings. It’s a significant boost over the GTX 950 and worth considering given the constant influx of modern titles requiring additional graphical grunt. Of course, it’ s still a budget option and pales in comparison to higher end graphics cards, but it should provide an enjoyable user-experience with a 1920×1080 display. Also, the boot SSD’s higher capacity allows you to store your favourites games and benefit from faster load times.


£899.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • WD 1TB WD10EZEX HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair CX600 80Plus Bronze PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Red Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next tier’s system costs £899.99 and has a number of key improvements including a secondary mechanical hard disk, 16GB RAM and GTX 970 graphics card. When discussing the previous systems it’s important to remember that I’d recommend adding a mechanical drive to store large sums of data. This allows you to easily install various games while ensuring the boot SSD doesn’t fill up rather quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t increase the asking price by an exponential amount. On another note, the 16GB memory is useful when working with video, photo editing and other complex workloads. It’s not really necessary in games just yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if 16GB becomes the standard in the next few years.

NVIDIA’s GTX 970 offers absolutely stunning performance even with a 2560×1440 monitor and can exceed 60 frames-per-second in various titles including the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. It’s unquestionably one of the best price to performance GPUs on the market and a suitable choice for a powerful gaming system.


£1049.00

 

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K Tested Overclock to 4.6GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • Seagate 1TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Falcon Gaming Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Moving towards the higher end market is a system which retails for £1049.00. This model contains a higher wattage power supply and Corsair water cooling unit to attain better temperatures. Furthermore, FreshTech Solutions guarantees the system will reach 4.6GHz and tests each overclock extremely carefully. This will be incredibly useful to consumers who feel apprehensive about overclocking their CPU and haven’t got any experience in this field. They really shouldn’t be concerned because the process is ridiculous simple. However, whenever anything goes awry, it’s important to have an excellent level of after-care support.


£1599.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i7 6700K Tested Overclock to 4.5GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 500GB SSD
  • Seagate 2TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

The £1599.00 system swaps out the i5 6600K for Intel’s enthusiast flagship i7-6700K on the LGA1151 chipset. Once again, FreshTech Solutions guarantees an impressive minimum overclock to reach significant gains compared to stock values. Also, the 500GB SSD is a great addition which allows you to install various applications without constantly checking on the remaining capacity. The system is housed in the highly regard Fractal Design R5 chassis which creates a more premium feel. Clearly, the main improvement revolves around the GTX 980Ti and is a major step up when compared to the GTX 970.

Even though the GPU isn’t capable of running games at maximum details on a 4K display, it’s able to really reach high figures on a 2560×1440 or 3440×1440 monitor. If you want to improve the performance even further, it’s possible to add a second GTX 980Ti due to the power supply’s 750 watts rating. The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 motherboard supports USB 3.1, SATA Express, multi-GPU configurations and opts for a superb audio solution. Once combined, this offers an absolutely staggering user-experience.


£1938.00

Specification:

  • Intel Core i7 5930K 3.50GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz
  • 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Seagate 2TB Hard Drive
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte X99-SLI
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Up to this point, we’ve focussed on the consumer LGA1151 chipset which offers great value for typical desktop tasks. Unfortunately, the platform only supports up to a 4-core 8-thread CPU. This severely limits the computational power during multi-threaded workloads. As a result, many professionals opt for 2011-v3 powered systems because they can leverage extra performance using 6-core or even 8-core processors. The next system totalling £1938.00 utilises a hex core processor with 40 PCI-E lanes and a 2TB hard disk.

Not only that, the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe boot drive is capable of an astounding maximum read of 2500MB/s and maximum write reaching 1500MB/s. This allows games to load faster and helps to process huge 4K video projects in a more efficient manner. Of course, this elite-grade PC opts for the best possible hardware including the GTX 980Ti and Gigabyte X99-SLI motherboard. This means you can have a powerful workstation and play demanding games in your leisure time.

If you’d like us to review any of the systems mentioned above, please let us know in the comments section below.

eTeknix Visit Corsair Rapidfire Keyboard Launch Event in London

A few days ago, we were invited down to London for a top-secret event, giving us the opportunity to check out the latest gaming keyboard from Corsair. Of course, now that the NDA has lifted, we’re able to share with you what we say at the event, as well as bring you a full review of the new K70 in all its glory and boy is it good!

Of course, we have to share this fantastic teaser from Corsair first.

Equipped with an innovative new switch that was created in a partnership between Cherry and Corsair, the new K70 Rapidfire features the MX Speed switch (they’re the right most row on this block).

MX Speed is very much like MX Red, in that it is a lightweight and fast linear switch, but the major change comes from the fact that the switch has a 40% reduction in actuation distance, meaning less force is needed, response times are cut and the keys return rate is quicker, allowing you to touch-type and game at an increased pace vs the regular red switch.

Corsair were kind enough to set up some cool games and plenty of the keyboards for us to try out.

Some of our friends at Dignitas putting the keyboards through their paces.

There are two models available as of today, The full-size K70 and the shorter K65.

Both keyboards follow the iconic K70/K65 designs, and are fully equipped with RGB lighting, although a non-RGB version is also available for the K70.

The return of the USB pass-through port and BIOS switch!

 

K70 Quickfire RGB is to be £149.99 and non-RGB is £119.99, while the smaller TKL version, the K65 RGB, will also be £119.99. Expect all major retailers to have stock or pre-orders from today.

Want to know even more about this keyboard? Check out our full review here.

Corsair Gaming K70 Rapidfire RGB Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


Ready to take your gaming seriously? We’ve got the (mostly) new Corsair Gaming K70 Rapidfire RGB in the eTeknix office today, and while you may be familiar with the K70 part, the keyboard now features the all-new and very much improved Cherry MX Speed switches! But what are MX Speed switches? They use the same underlying format as the extremely popular and lightning fast MX Red switches, but with a 40% reduction in actuation distance, meaning they’re even faster than ever before, making them the shortest response mechanical switches on the market today.

  • Ultrafast mechanical gaming keyboard: ultrafast 1.2mm actuation and light 45g switch force for truly unrivaled response time.
  • 100% Cherry MX Speed RGB key switches: ultrafast performance with the precision and durability of gold contact Cherry MX mechanical gaming key switches.
  • Aircraft-grade anodized brushed aluminum frame: with light weight and rugged durability you need for a keyboard that’s going to see a lot of action.
  • 100% anti-ghosting and full key rollover over USB circuitry: no matter how fast you go your keypresses will always register.
  • Advanced lighting control and large font keycaps: experience dynamic, vibrant multi-color backlighting.
  • The power of CUE: sophisticated macro programming and fast, fluid dynamic multicolor illumination for an enlightened gaming experience.
  • Detachable soft-touch wrist rest: the comfort you need for marathon gaming sessions.
  • Dedicated multimedia controls: the control you need to adjust your audio without interrupting your game.
  • USB Pass-Through Port: Positioned for uninterrupted game play and ready for your mouse or wireless headset adapter.
  • FPS and MOBA keycap sets: Textured and contoured keycaps provide maximum grip and enhanced feel

Every action counts when it comes to competitive gaming, and trimming the fat from the switch means that you’ll be triggering those switches milliseconds before the competition. It’s not a huge advantage, but every little bit adds up and no matter how small it may seem, an edge is an edge.

The packaging is really nicely designed, keeping the usual Corsair colours and showing off the most important features.

You’ll find all the usual stuff in the box, such as the documentation, two sets of gaming caps and a handy key cap puller.

ASRock E3V5 WS (Intel C232) Super Alloy Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging


Today’s motherboard review lands right in the middle of everything. Not because it’s all over the place, but because it has a lot of usage scenarios and support for pretty much any setup. You could use ASRock’s E5V5 WS motherboard in a gaming system as well as in a server setup as both of those setups are fully supported, but its real area of operation is to act as the base for a powerful workstation.

The ASRock E5V5 WS uses an LGA 1151 socket and the board is compatible with both E3-1200 v5 processors such as the one I’ll be using later on in this review, but it also supports normal 6th Generation Intel Core processors – so basically the entire Skylake and Skylake-S line-up. As backbone behind the CPU that you end up using is the Intel C232 chipset that is perfectly tuned for workstation environments and a motherboard like this. Memory wise you can use normal DDR4 DIMMs as well as ECC UDIMM memory modules with a speed of up to 2133 MHz in the four DIMM slots with 15μ gold contacts for a total of up to 64GB RAM.

The gold contacts in the memory slots aren’t the only quality feature in this motherboard. The E3V5 WS motherboard is part of ASRock’s Super Alloy series and comes with premium 50A power chokes and is made of a high-density glass fabric PCB. It also features ASRock’s full spike protection that protects from sudden surges, lightning, and electrostatic discharges (ESD).

The network connection isn’t controlled by the average low-performance controller either and we find an Intel PHY i219LM controller on this motherboard. The Gigabit Ethernet controller supports Wake-On-LAN, supports 802.3az energy efficient ethernet and PXE. The Ethernet controller is one of the parts that is protected by the Full Spike Protection. The second part with protection is the USB. The ASRock E35 WS features two USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel and you can connect another four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports via headers. All of these are protected by the ASRock Full Spike Protection. The audio is also protected by this and we find a 7.1 channel HD Audio controller, the Realtek ALC892. It features Blu-ray audio support and uses ELNA solid audio capacitors. Last but not least, you also find legacy PS2 connectors for both your mouse and keyboard.

 

Internally we find good expansion options too. Since we are dealing with an Intel-based motherboard, we also get IRST for RAID setups across the six SATA3 6 Gb/s connectors. Supported modes include the normal RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 modes.

There are two PCIe Gen3 x16 slots that support both Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards as well as consumer graphics cards. There is also full support for the use of AMD’s CrossfireX technology for multiple graphics card usage. As I mentioned earlier, you can make a great workstation with this motherboard. There are three more PCIe Gen3 x1 slots available for further expansion and neither of them will be blocked by the use of two-slot graphics cards. Even with a CrossfireX setup, you’ll still have access to the three x1 slots.

Quality hardware and components are just one side of the story, we also need a good BIOS and proper software to have the best experinece. The E3V5 WS comes with both of those features too. The UEFI BIOS has the easy EZ mode dashboard besides the advanced setup pages, which contains multiple readings of the system’s current status. You can check the most crucial information of your system, such as CPU speed, DRAM frequency, SATA information, fan speed, etc.

Even better, you can reach the tech support purely from the systems BIOS, as long as the system has an internet connection. You can also install LAN drivers onto your windows installation directly from the BIOS.

The ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) technology allows you to establish an internet curfew or restrict internet access at specified times for your kids. Stay in control of their surfing times without yelling. This probably isn’t the most used function in a workstation system, but it could be used to shut down any connection attempts outside of office hours. Another useful feature is the USB Key function that can replace the password question when you log into windows. Do it by plugging a USB drive in instead.

The well-known ASRock XFast RAM and XFast LAN are also built into this motherboard. The XFast RAM feature allows you to fully utilize the memory space that otherwise can’t be accessed in 32-bit systems, among others. XFast LAN is a quality of service protocol that prioritizes the important traffic so you don’t have to wait for loading times. ASRock Live Update and APP Shop also help to make the maintenance easier.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.

Key Features:

  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • Server-Grade LAN chip support
  • Supports the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 Processor & 6th Generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1151)
  • Supports DDR4 2133 & ECC UDIMM memory modules
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16 and 3 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), ELNA Audio Caps
  • 6 SATA3 and 6 USB 3.0 (2 Front, 4 Rear)
  • Supports Full Spike Protection, ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit, 8.1 64-bit, 7 32-bit, 7 64-bit, Server 2012 R2 64-bit, Server 2012 64-bit, and Server 2008 R2 64-bit support

Packaging and Accessories

A quality motherboard also deserves a great look package, and the E3V5 WS got that. The front makes no secret about the boards power.

On the rear of the box, you will find a detailed photo of the motherboard itself as well as feature highlights and specifications.

Inside the box is a user manual, a driver disk, two SATA cables, and an IO shield besides the motherboard itself.

Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.

Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800
  • Case: Game Max Destroyer Windowed
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Processor: Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III
  • Graphics card: Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: N/A
  • Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
  • Price: £889.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.

Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.

The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.

Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.

Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.

The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.

In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.

Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.

 

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Corsair Releases Carbide SPEC-ALPHA Mid-Tower ATX Case

We had our first look at Corsair’s newest Carbide chassis during our CES visit in January and now it has been fully released and can be yours, if you want to pay the price and like the looks, of course. The SPEC-ALPHA is no ordinary looking chassis and stands out with its bold angular styling and also comes with a large side panel window for you to display the nice hardware inside the chassis.

Corsair removed any sort of 5.25-inch drive bays at the top of the chassis which in return gives a direct airflow path for improved cooling abilities. The case comes with three 120mm fans included: two in the front and one in the back. The front can also fit a 240mm radiator for those who wish to use liquid cooling instead of air cooling. A three-speed fan control is also included.

The large CPU cut-out should make for easy cooler mounting, whether you choose air or water, and you can use from mITX to ATX motherboards in this system. You get the usual 7 expansion slots on the rear and you can mount expansion cards with a length of up to 380mm. The CPU cooler can be up to 156mm which does limit a bit, but not much.

You can mount plenty of traditional storage in the SPEC-ALPHA that allows for three 3.5-inch and four 2.5-inch drives. Externally you get two USB 3.0 and two audio jacks.

The SPEC-ALPHA is available now in three color options: black and red, black and gray and white and red. The suggested retail price is set to $79.99 which actually is a more than fair price for a chassis like this. Corsair backs the chassis with a 2-year warranty.

Specifications

  • Bold Exterior Design with LED fans: You’ll never mistake it for anything else – the asymmetrical, hard-edged design of the SPEC-ALPHA and its numerous color combinations give it a bold, unique look, and the front LED fans can be viewed through the front air intakes for a glimpse of the performance within.
  • Direct airflow path to keep your CPU and GPU running cooler: Modern systems don’t need tons of drive cages in the airflow path. By removing the 5.25” drive cage, the SPEC-ALPHA has a direct path from the front intake to the two hottest components – your CPU and GPU, which can result in better, more efficient cooling.
  • Large side panel window to show off your hardware: Why hide it? All that performance hardware you built your rig with is looks great, so why not take a look at it through the huge side panel window?
  • Three included 120mm fans and built-in three-speed fan controller: Two front LED fans and a rear fan provide excellent airflow, and the built-in fan controller lets you decide exactly how much cooling you need with the flick of a switch.
  • Cable routing cutouts and tie downs: Nobody wants to see a rat’s nest of cables, so the SPEC-ALPHA has cutouts and tie-downs behind the motherboard tray to keep your cable routing neat and tidy – and out of the airflow path for better cooling.
  • Easy to Build: Tool-free drive installation and side panel removal mean you can spend less time building your PC and more time gaming with it.
  • Front 240mm radiator compatibility: Upgrade to the power of liquid cooling for your CPU or GPU with up to a 240mm hydro series cooler in front of the case.
  • Native USB 3.0 and SSD support for modern builds: Whether it be a new external drive for storage or a new SSD for your OS or games, rest assured the SPEC-ALPHA is ready for anything you throw at it.

Corsair Extends Select PSU Warranties to 10 Years

One of the ways for a company to differentiate their products is by the warranty length. As a response to EVGA lengthening their PSU warranties to 10 years, Corsair is striking back by making some of their own warranties 10 years as well. This will apply to a few select high-end lineup which will see a warranty length increase from 7 years to 10 years. The extension applies immediately and without any need for extra registration.

Given the warranty extension, it appears that Corsair is quite confident about the quality of their PSUs. After all, the warranty length has nearly been increased by 50%. The extension applies to the AXi series,  HXi series, RMi series and the RMx lineup. All of these are produced by Flextronics and CWT, both of whom have close ties with Corsair. Interestingly, the very nice AX series aren’t covered  under the extension though that may be due to the manufacture being Seasonic, likely due to failed negotiations with Corsair.

Having a good PSU is critical to a system as a bad unit has the chance to wreck the rest of the expensive system. Given Corsair’s great track record with warranty claims and helping replace damaged parts, they must be confident to apply the warranty to products from the past. Hopefully, we will see more PSU makers extending their warranties as well. Let the warranty wars begin!

Seagate NAS 8TB (ST8000VN0002) Hard Disk Drive Review

Introduction


Just as you wouldn’t use a low-end graphics card for high-end usage, you shouldn’t use the wrong hard disk drive in your storage system either. There is a reason for every product and you should always pick the one suited for the task at hand, especially when you deal with your storage. Today I’m taking a closer look at Seagate’s impressive 8TB NAS HDD and we will take a look at how well it performs.

As said, when you pick your storage, you need to pick the right one for the task and not just grab anything you can find. This is particularly important when we talk about systems that have to run continuously and in environments with a lot of drives closely packed together. The Seagate NAS HDD goes beyond the standard desktop drives in this regards as it is built exactly for these scenarios.

Vibrations can damage your drives and the can also have a direct impact on your drives speed, and the more drives you install close to each other, the more vibrations you’ll get. The Seagate NAS HDDs are rated for usage in systems with up to 8 bays which gives you an impressive raw capacity of 64TB. The Dual-plane balance system enhances drive performance in aggressive NAS workloads for better vibration tolerance.

The Seagate NAS 8TB drive comes packed with 256MB cache, which is double that of the 6TB model. It uses the default SATA3 6GB/s interface that makes it compatible with pretty much any NAS system. The performance isn’t without either as it comes with a rating of 150 IOPS and above and a sustained sequential read performance up to 230MB/s, an exceptional performance for a mechanical drive. The pure capacity is pretty nice too considering the default 3.5-inch form factor and it has an areal density of 1333Gb per square inch. The average seek read and write latencies are rated to be 8.5ms and 9.5ms, or lower. The whole thing is rounded off with an 180TB per year workload rating, a 1 million hour mean time before failure, and a 3-year warranty.

The great performance comes from Seagate’s years of experience that the put into the hardware and also the firmware that controls the drive. NASWorks is optimized for use as storage drives and it has been tuned to deliver higher performance, a better reliability and interoperability with popular NAS enclosures, and it has the RAID Recovery feature that prevents the NAS from a full RAID rebuild if the RAID degrades. Extended error recovery controls correct data without the need for full drive rebuilds.

Performance isn’t everything, but as we’ve seen above, that part is well covered. There are two further factors that need to be considered before you decide which drives to use: Acoustics and power consumption. A drive that consumes a lot of power can quickly drive up the total cost of ownership and it’s also bad for the environment. The Seagate NAS 8TB drive has an average power consumption of 9W during active operations and an idle power consumption of 7.2W. When in sleep or standby mode, the drives will consume as little as 0.6W. The 8TB NAS HDD doesn’t make much noise either and is rated for just 2.6 bels during operation and 2.5 bels when idle.

Seagate also offers the optional +Rescue Data Recovery Services for extra peace of mind. With this extra service, Seagate has your back and can recover the data from a possible failed drive. Whether the error is due to mechanical failure or accidental damage, most data can be recovered when done right. It is a fast and easy recovery process where your data can be restored in 15 days or less. This is also a field that Seagate is very successful in with an approximately 90% success rate in data recovery.

So if you need drives for backup and disaster recovery, multimedia server and storage, file and print server sharing, archival, remote access, virtualization, or a private cloud storage, then this might be just the right drive for you.

Feature Highlights

  • 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1TB capacity options
  • Seagate NAS HDDs are built and tested to provide industry-leading performance for small NAS systems.
  • NASWorks technology supports customised error recovery controls, power management and vibration tolerance for optimal performance and reliability with workloads up to 180TB/year workload rate limit (WRL).
  • NAS error recovery controls optimise drive health by helping to ensure drives are not dropped from the NAS and sent into a RAID rebuild.
  • Improved vibration tolerance and emission in multi-drive systems with dual plane balance.
  • Advanced power management supports multiple power profiles for lowpower, 24×7 performance.
  • Quiet drive operation enhances the customer experience in living room or office environments.
  • Optional 3-year Rescue recovery service plan protects against data loss from viruses, software issues, or mechanical and electrical breakdowns in a NAS or RAID environment.

Specifications

Package and Accessories

PNY CS2211 XLR8 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a special one for me as it is the first time I get to review a PNY SSD. I got the XLR8 CS2211 2.5-inch gaming branded SSD on the test bench today and it will be interesting to see how well it does. The PNY CS2211 SSD is available in three capacities from 240GB over 480GB to 960GB from which I’ll be testing the 240GB model today.

PNY is no stranger in the SSD market and they created some great drives in the past for all sectors of the market, but they’re probably most known for their graphics cards. But we aren’t here to talk about graphics cards, it is about storage today. PNY has taken what they have learned from their previous drives and created the XLR8 branded CS2211 drive, and it shows in the performance ratings.

The drive is rated for a sequential performance of up to 565 MB/s reading and 540MB/s writing, which is about as good as it gets on the SATA3 interface. The random input-output performance is equally impressive with 95K IOPS ratings for both reading and writing. Those are at least the ratings for the larger models and the small 240GB version can’t keep fully up with that. It still comes with impressive ratings despite being a little slower ,with an 87K IOPS rating and a drop in sequential writes to 470MB/s.

It is no surprise that the drive has such good ratings as it is built with only the best components. It utilizes 15nm Toshiba MLC NAND and a Phison PS3110-S10 controller aided by 256MB DDR3 cache package

PNY gave the CS2211 the XLR8 styling as a gaming product, but the design has been toned down a bit in comparison to the previous XLR8 drive design. It is a beautiful design that makes the drive stand out and also makes in an optimal candidate for systems that proudly shows what components they are made off.

There are a lot of products that get a ‘gaming’ label in order to appeal to that market segment, but the CS2211 does deserve this label. It is a perfect gaming drive thanks to its high IOPS performance on top of the high sequential performance. You’ll copy fast, load fast, and should experience even less loading times in-game.

Feature wise we find the basic Trim and SMART capabilities, but the CS2211 also comes with background garbage collection, end-to-end data protection, and error correction code for up to 120 bits per 2K sector. Overall, we see a drive that presents itself very well and PNY agrees with a 2 million hours mean time before failure rating and a full 4-year warranty.

The 7mm slim drive is perfect for usage in both desktop and notebook systems where it also will fit well in 9.5mm drive bays thanks to the included adapter bracket. The SSD doesn’t feature the DevSleep function that I really like to see in drives, but that isn’t a deal breaker and most gamers don’t want power saving features, they want pure and raw performance which the CS2211 delivers.

Aside from the beautiful brand sticker on the top, the drive is built with a standard 2-piece snap-together enclosure that holds the PCB and doesn’t require any screws that could loosen themselves over time in high-vibration environments.

The PCB itself is a two-thirds length one with a total of eight NAND chips distributed over the front and back. The Phison PS3110 S10C controller sits firmly in the middle of the PCB. Next to it we also see the Nanya DDR3 cache chip that helps the drive to achieve the great speeds that it can.

Specifications

  • Capacity: 240GB
  • Part Number: SSD7CS2211-240-RB
  • Form Factor: 2.5 inch
  • Height: 7mm
  • Interface: SATA-III 6Gb/s; backward compatible with SATA-II 3Gb/s
  • Max Sequential Read Speed: 560 MB/s
  • Max Sequential Write Speed: 470 MB/s
  • Max Random Read Speed: 87,000 IOPS
  • Max Random Write Speed: 95,000 IOPS
  • NAND Type: MLC
  • Ideal For: Gaming, Hard disk drive replacement, photo and video storage, and boot drives

Packaging and Accessories

The PNY XLR8 CS2211 solid state drive came packed in a simple black box with the PNY logo on the side.

Inside the box is the SSD itself as well as a 9.5mm adapter for usage in notebooks and laptops designed for the 9.5mm thick drives. By adding the adapter to the drive, you make sure that it’s firmly seated in the system and doesn’t rattle around.

Normally you’d get the drive in a more colourful wrapping and with an included registration key for the Acronis True Image cloning software. Review samples like this one sometimes come with a few things missing because the company is in a hurry to get the drives to us so we can test them for you – and they know that we don’t need the extras.

Corsair RM1000x 1000 Watt 80 PLUS Gold Fully Modular Power Supply Review

Introduction & Packaging


Corsair have been known to produce some of the best power supplies in the business and today, they look set to continue that trend with the release of their high-end RM1000x. Not everyone needs 1000w of power, of course, but when you do, it’s likely that you’re also the kind of system builder who demands the best performance from your components. Previous high-end PSUs from Corsair have reaped some of the best results we’ve ever seen, with ripple so low we thought there was an issue with our testing equipment, so to say we’re a little eager to see what this one can do would be quite the understatement.

“Corsair RMx series power supplies give you extremely tight voltage control, quiet operation, Gold-certified efficiency, and a fully modular cable set. Built with all Japanese 105°C capacitors, they’re a great choice for high-performance PCs where reliability is essential. 80 PLUS Gold efficiency reduces operating cost and excess heat, and Zero RPM fan mode ensures virtual silence at low and medium loads. And, the fully modular DC cables make builds and upgrades easy, with clean, great-looking results.” – Corsair

https://youtu.be/596KPO56l-8

Equipped with all the usual safety features you would expect, as well as 80 Plus Gold efficiency, all Japanese capacitors, a ZeroRPM mode, a powerful 135mm fan, fully modular cable design and more, the RM1000x certainly ticks all the right boxes and to sweeten the deal, Corsair has given it a 7-Year warranty! That last part fills me with a lot of confidence.

1000W is a lot of power, more than enough to power an extreme workstation or gaming system with enthusiast overclocks and multiple graphics cards. As you can see, that 12V rail can push a very mighty 83.3A, more than enough power for 

The packaging is very nicely designed, with a big and clear shot of the PSU on the front and that stand-out black and yellow Corsair branding.

Around the back, a quick technical rundown of the efficiency, hybrid fan mode and connectors.

There’s quite a lot of stuff in the box, with a durable protective bag for all the modular cables, a soft bag with the PSU inside, heavy-duty power cable,  cable ties, screws, and all the usual documentation.

Corsair SF600 80 Plus Gold Fully Modular SFX Power Supply Review

Introduction & Packaging


The world of Small Form Factor (SFX) power supplies has been a fierce battleground over the last few years. Gaming systems have been getting smaller, the HTPC and Steambox markets are growing in popularity and the demand for a tiny PSU that can keep the system small, but still deliver the high-performance grunt required by modern gaming GPU/CPU combos is at an all time high. Enter the new Corsair SF600, the latest contender on the market and judging by the specifications, it may be the best one we’ve seen to date.

“SF Series power supplies bring legendary Corsair performance and reliability to the SFX small form factor standard. They have the features found in full-size high performance power supplies, with certification for 80 PLUS Gold efficiency, superior voltage regulation, Zero RPM mode for virtually silent operation, and 105°C All Japanese capacitors for better reliability.” – Corsair

Equipped with 600W of power, more than enough for any high-end and overclocking gaming rig with a single GPU, 100% Japanese 105c capacitors, a zero RPM fan mode for ultra quiet performance at lower loads, fully modular cables and that super compact SFX form factor, the SF600 is certainly an attractive unit. To make the deal even sweeter, it comes backed up by Corsairs confidence inducing 7-year manufacturers warranty!

The packaging is very nicely designed, keeping in theme with other current Corsair product ranges and featuring a clear product image and the main specifications prominently displayed.

Plenty of technical information around the back too, showing off the efficiency and fan speeds at various load scenarios.

In the box, you’ll find two protective bags, one for the cables and another containing the PSU. There is all the usual documentation, a mains power cable, cable ties and screws; everything you need to get you setup and ready to rock.

Corsair Gaming M65 Pro RGB Optical Mouse Review

Introduction


The Corsair M65 is one of the most popular gaming mice on the market today, but as popular as it may be, Corsair thinks they can make it even better! We’ve already seen a few models of the M65 here at eTeknix, such as the old Vengeance M65, the tweaked RGB version and now the biggest change, the removal of the old laser sensor, and in goes the new high-end 12K DPI optical sensor.

Optical is certainly the way to go for competitive gaming, it has long proven to be more accurate, more often than not, smoother, and suffer less problems with acceleration, so here’s hoping the new sensor from Corsair will be up to the job. Although, given the performance of other Corsair mice in the last year or so, we’re expecting it to be pretty spectacular. Add to that the full RGB lighting, and plenty of other cool features and the M65 Pro is already sounding very promising.

The packaging is nicely designed, keeping in theme with other Corsair Gaming peripherals.

Around the back of the box, details on some features such as the 8 programmable buttons, sniper button and high-precision switches.

The box also opens out, giving us a nice sneak peek at the overall design.

In the box, you’ll find the usual documentation, as well as the mouse, which comes hard-wired with a high-quality black braided cable and a custom moulded USB header.

Corsair Gaming Sabre RGB 10k DPI Optical Mouse Review

Introduction


Corsair produces some of the most popular gaming mice on the market today, from their MMO ready Scimitar, to their versatile Raptor M45, and many more. The Sabre walks a nice middle ground for Corsair, packaging a few extra gaming-friendly features, such as extra programmable buttons, as well as customisable RGB lighting, a 100g ultra light design, as well as their high-end 10k DPI optical gaming sensor.

“Ultra light weight at just 100g, the Corsair Gaming Sabre Optical RGB 6,400 DPI gaming mouse offers easy comfort and fluid reach balanced by consistently accurate tracking, 1,000 Hz refresh rate, eight configurable buttons, and super-responsive switches. Four-zone 16.8M color backlighting creates a beautiful, personalized look that matches your style.” – Corsair

Picking the right mouse for your desktop can be tricky, but equipped with everything you need for day-to-day work, as well as gaming, be that at home or in the world of competitive eSports, the Sabre is ticking all the right boxes. So let’s jump right in and take a closer look at what it has to offer.

“With advanced ergonomics that comfortably support your entire hand, you can wield the Sabre in a variety of grip styles. The adaptability in grip gives you the adaptability you need to compete in a wide variety of game types from FPS to RTS and MOBA. The 8 programmable buttons can be customized with ease to fine tune your play.” – Corsair

First up, we can see that the packaging is nicely designed, keeping in theme with all the other new Corsair Gaming hardware. All the main specs are detailed on the front, as well as a nice image of the mouse.

Around the back, a more technical breakdown of the features, but we’ll take a closer look at those in a moment.

The box also opens out at the front, giving you a nice look at the mouse design; handy for those picking one up in a retail store.

In the box, you’ll find the Sabre comes hard-wired with a black braided cable and a nice quality USB header.

Tenda AC15 Dual-Band AC1900 Gigabit WiFi Router Review

Introduction


Tenda might be a company that is mostly known for the entry-level products at lower speeds, but they also got some top of the line devices that easily can compete with anything else on the market. Today I’m taking a look at the new Tenda AC15 which is an AC1900 Smart Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi router.

Tenda designed the AC15 with the smart home in mind and as such the router brings a lot of features that can make your everyday digital life a lot easier. Starting with the dual-band AC1900 technology we know that we have a strong router in our hands that will deliver some of the best possible wireless network speeds. The AC15 also features beamforming technology that helps to boost the range of the high-powered amplifiers and external antennas.

The AC1900 standard defines a total speed capability of the router up to 1900Mbps where it is capable of delivering both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently. The Beamforming+ technology helps to achieve the best connection with each device as it locks onto a device’s location and strengthens the signal in that direction rather than blasting it equally in every direction.

The router is equipped with 3 external dual band antennas with a 3dBi strength. Sadly the antennas aren’t replaceable, at least not without taking the unit apart, but they should offer plenty of performance for small to mid-sized homes.

Tenda built the AC15 router around a Broadcom dual-core processor and equipped it with DDR3 memory, but the specifications page does not reveal which exact processor nor how much memory it has. That might, however, be something we can find out through the user interface or by opening it up.

Next to the obligatory WAN port, Tenda equipped the AC15 router with three more Gigabit Ethernet ports for your wired network devices. It also features a USB 3.0 port for easy storage and printer connections which then can be shared to any device that you want via your network. This also allows you to create a personal cloud system and that’s even an easy task to do thanks to Tenda’s personal cloud system. We’ll have a close look at that when we got to the user interface.

There is an ever-increasing concern what effect WiFi signals can have on us humans and it’s better to be on the safe side than sorry. Whether this is a concern to you or not, the Healthy e-life functions in the router allow you to dim the LEDs as well as turn the WiFi signal on and off by a user defined schedule. Why should you be bothered by blinking lights and wireless signals when you aren’t home or asleep. Might as well turn it off, which also saves on the electricity bill.

The initial setup and further configuration of Tenda’s AC15 is a breeze as you can do it from any device, whether it’s wired or wireless. You can either use the easy web setup wizard or use the available Tenda apps. Once setup, you have a powerful wireless router that supports IPTV, VPN, FTP, DDNS and DLNA among others.

Feature Highlights

  • Ultimate 11ac speed of up to 1900Mbps, delivering both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently.
  • Broadcom dual-core processor with DDR3 memory for multi-client with responsive performance and fast speed.
  • Beamforming+ technology boosts range for the 802.11ac WiFi devices.
  • High powered amplifiers and three external antennas for whole-home coverage.
  • USB3.0 for personal secure cloud and printer sharing.
  • Smart managements of WiFi schedule, LED indicator and power saving all are for your healthy E-life.

Package and Accessories

The retail package for the Tenda AC15 router is a beautiful full-coloured one. The front teases the features and the units design with its eye-catching and bright design.

The rear of the box has some more information on the routers usage scenarios as well as more information about the features.

The full network specifications can be found on the side of the box, so you know what you get before you make the purchase.

The router itself is wrapped with a plastic cover to protect it from scratches. There’s also an extra SSID and password sticker on the plastic which you can remove and place somewhere else for safe keeping.

There’s an install guide, GNU license notice, and a wireless standard certification included, but the last two are more for legal reasons.

Besides the router and the manuals, we also find a power adapter, an RJ45 LAN cable and the foot for the router inside the box.

 

Corsair Releases New SFX SF600 and SF450 PSUs

Building compact high-performance systems can be troublesome in many areas, not because people lack the skills, but because there was a lack of components to do so on the market. We’ve seen an increase in compact motherboards and graphics cards that still deliver great gaming and workstation performance, but there has been a shortage of quality power supplies with high ratings, actually there’s kind of only been one up until now.

We already had a little preview during our visit to CES in January and now Corsair is ready to release their new SFX power supplies with proper certification and a fully modular connection system. The two new power supplies are the Corsair SF600 and SF450 that come with 600W and 450W respectively.

Compact system builds have an additional challenge besides the component size and that is the available cable routing space. With that in mind, it’s great to see that the new SF600 and SF450 power supplies come with a fully modular cable system. You can detach all cables from the unit itself for easy cable routing while building and minimize the cables in the chassis to only those you need.

Corsair is well known for their power supplies and they didn’t skimp out on their new SFX series either. The units are fully 80Plus Gold certified for an optimal efficiency and less heat generation. Speaking of heat, the Corsair SFX PSUs are built with a 90mm fan featuring Zero RPM Fan mode. The fan is only turned on when it is needed and only spins as fast as it is needed. The small you make something, the better the build quality has to be.

The small you make something, the better the build quality has to be in order to have a long lifespan. That’s taken care of in the SF-series by the use of 100% Japanese capacitors and the units are backed by Corsair’s well-known 7-year warranty.

The SF450 is available immediately worldwide from Corsair’s worldwide network of authorized retailers and distributors. The SF600 will be available shortly and is available immediately for pre-order. The MSRP is set to $89.99 and $119.99 respectively, excl. Tax.

 

Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF AIO CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


Picking the right cooler for your system can be tricky, but when it comes to sticking a high-performance CPU in a compact gaming system, your choices are often quite limited to a range of low-profile air coolers. Corsair is looking to solve this issue with the new Corsair H5 SF Hydro Series Low Profile Liquid CPU Cooler, an AIO unit that’s small enough to mount over the top of a mini-ITX motherboard! Unlike most AIO that must be mounted on a 120/140mm fan fitting, this cooler is a similar shape and size to a 5.25″ drive and comes with a special bracket that mounts it above the CPU like you would expect an air/tower cooler to install.

“The Hydro Series H5 SF is a low profile liquid CPU cooler that provides efficient cooling for small form factor Mini-ITX systems. Building a small form factor system shouldn’t have to mean compromising on processor speed, and with the H5 SF you can provide reliable cooling for your system’s high-performance CPU.” – Corsair

While I’m not expecting huge performance from the new cooler overall, when it comes down to cooling a compact gaming rig, it’s very likely that it’ll still be better than most low-profile air coolers that would fit the same system. Corsair has some impressive figures of their own, but how do they hold up in the real world? That’s what we hope to find out.

“It has a pump assembly with a copper coldplate and flexible, low permeability tubing, just like our larger Hydro Series models. They’re matched with a one-piece blower which cools the circulated liquid by drawing cool air from the inside of your PC and exhausting it outside the case. So, in addition to keeping your CPU cool, the H5 SF provides additional cooling for the motherboard and other components by constantly pulling cool air across them.” – Corsair

Equipped with copper and aluminium construction, high-quality tubing and support for all major sockets, the H5 SF is certainly promising. So let’s move on and take a closer look.

The packaging is typical Corsair, with the usual black and yellow theme at work, as well as a nice big image of the product, showing us the design of the pump and radiator.

Around the back, a nice technical breakdown of the specifications, design and a little image of how the radiator looks when mounted on a mini-ITX motherboard.

The packaging is nicely done on the interior too, with lots of protective cardboard around all major components, as well as protective plastic bags and stickers to prevent any minor marks or scratches.

In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get the cooler installed on major Intel and AMD mini-ITX platforms. All the screws are really good quality with a nice dark nickel finish and there’ sa durable L-shaped support bar for mounting it above the motherboard.

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.

OCZ Trion150 240GB and 480GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction



OCZ introduced us to the Trion series about half a year ago and the first drive already impressed us with its performance versus value offering and now OCZ is back with the next generation of Trion drives. The newly released Trion 150 series brings the newest in TLC NAND technology coupled with a great controller in order to provide an amazing drive for people on a budget. Today I’m taking a closer look at this series as I’ll be testing the 240GB and 480GB models.

The OCZ Trion 150 SSD is aimed at people who want to make the move from traditional mechanical hard disk drives and into the modern flash-based storage. There is no comparison when it comes to performance and access speeds, the SSD wins this by miles. Traditional storage does however have the benefit of more capacity per dollar and that is where TLC-NAND based drives come into play. They offer a great capacity at a lower price compared to MLC or SLC-based drives.

The new drives are built around Toshiba’s own controller and their latest Triple-Level-Cell NAND. This combination allows the drive to achieve a performance up to 550 MB/s when reading and 530MB/s when writing while the random performance still provides up to 91K IOPS reading and 64K IOPS writing. With a performance like this, you’ll seriously decrease your system’s boot-up times as well as any other loading process. It’s also one of those upgrades every system should have, an SSD.

The OCZ Trion 150 is available in a wide variety of capacities which means that there is a size for everyone’s need. It is available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. One of the downsides to TLC NAND is that it doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and SLC NAND, but that isn’t something that should scare you away as a normal user. Despite the lower endurance, these drives will easily outlive their time of operation in most systems and it shouldn’t be something you need to worry about. The Trion 150 has an endurance rating of up to 240TB total bytes written which should be plenty for almost any normal scenario.

The new 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND used in this series is quite a bit better than the previous 19nm thanks to the optimized manufacturing processes and it shows in this drive. Ordinary flagship drives can easily handle write loads of 50GB data at once, but that’s a problem for most TLC drives. They are just as fast with small area writes as the bigger brothers, but when they have to write more than a few GB in one instance, they suffer some performance loss. To combat this, a part of the NAND is being run in SLC mode as a kind of burst area. You can easily copy large amounts of data to the drive at once, but once the SLC cache has been exceeded, the performance will drop a little bit. The good news here is that the new series offers almost twice the write speed that the Trion 100 was able to offer during these scenarios. That’s a bold statement and one that will be interesting to see if the drive can live up to in the tests.

Despite being a budget drive, the OCZ Trion 150 is still backed by a 3-year warranty and it isn’t just a normal warranty either. OCZ gave the Trion 150 the ShieldPlus Warranty for the entire time and it’s pretty much the best drive warranty you can get anywhere. Especially for free and included. In the unlikely event that a drive needs to be replaced, you got a worry-free customer service experience which eliminates all the hassle and cost surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with; OCZ has you covered.

OCZ packed the Trion 150 series with the basic features such as Trim, Garbage Collection, and SMART monitoring, but other than that they don’t feature much. They are, after all, basic drives.

As most SSDs these days, the Trion 150 is also built with a snap-together screwless case that holds the PCB in place. The two drives look the same once I got them opened, but there are a few differences. The most noticeable difference is actual not a difference – the amount of NAND chips. Despite the capacity difference, OCZ used the full set of chips in both models. That’s most likely also one of the reasons that these drives promise as great a performance as they do.

Once we remove the PCBs from the case, we also find another difference on the other side. The 480GB model is utilizing a Micron cache chip while the 240GB has a Nanya chip. Both drives use the same Toshiba controller and 15nm NAND chips.

Feature Highlights

  • Next Gen TLC Technology
  • Superior balance of price and performance
  • 100% Toshiba technology
  • Optimized for lower energy consumption
  • ShieldPlus Warranty

Specifications

Packaging

The Trion 150 comes in a colourful box showcasing the drive design as well as the capacity on the front.

The rear of the box lists the drives features as well as little about OCZ and the Trion 150 drive itself.

Inside the box is a reminder not to return the drive to the shop where you bought it and instead handle possible RMAs through OCZ directly as well as a setup guide and naturally the drive itself.

Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


Corsair blew us away with their new Void gaming headsets, offering exceptional performance, comfort, style and very competitive prices that have made them an instant success with gamers around the world. Now Corsair is back again with their latest model, the Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset and if it’s anything like their Void USB Dolby 7.1 RGB, Void RGB Wireless 7.1 or their Void 3.5mm Stereo , we’re going to be in for a real treat with their latest.

“Enter the VOID—the innovative and exciting new family of advanced gaming headsets from Corsair. Whether you choose wireless, USB, or stereo powered audio gear, you will always be one step ahead of your enemies with fast forward design, spectacular fidelity, universal compatibility, and innovative on-headset controls – enabling you to command your gaming soundscape without hitting pause.” – Corsair

The Void Hybrid comes very well equipped, with a unique USB adapter system that allows it to work effortlessly on PC, Mobile, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, meaning it’s going to be a one-stop shop for all your gaming needs, at home, or on the go. Of course, you’ll also find the usual thrills from the Void headset, such as that comfortable microfiber padding, a noise-cancelling microphone, on-headset controls and more!

  • Genuine Dolby 7.1: Treat yourself to 7.1 channels of accurate and immersive surround
  • Universal Compatibility: The mobile-compatible connector works with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile devices. The included USB Dolby 7.1 sound card unlocks genuine Dolby surround for PC
  • Embark on Marathon Gaming Sessions: Microfiber-wrapped memory foam ear pads enable extended play
  • Unlock legendary audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision
  • Crystal Clear Voice Communication: The noise-canceling microphone on the VOID headset puts your voice in the spotlight—and nothing else

The packaging is nicely designed, keeping in theme with other Corsair Gaming hardware and the previous Void series headsets. On the front, we can see that it supports Dolby, Corsair Utility Engine, multiple devices and features 50mm drivers.

Around the back, a more detailed run down on how the headset can connect to multiple devices, as well as some information on the noise-cancelling microphone, format support, and on-headset controls.

In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation as well as a simple quick start guide.

There’s a small USB dongle soundcard included, this isn’t needed for connecting to all devices, but as you can see, it takes a USB port and outputs it to a 3.5mm jack for the headset, and there’s a small LED indicator on there for the Dolby feature.

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

Play a Game of Snake on Your Keyboard

I still remember the old Nokia 3310, the indestructible brick. I would steal it off my family and load up the only game worth playing. Snake, the classic tale of food and growth, was all the hit back in the day and even with its evolutions, from being able to travel from one side of the map to the other to including powerups, the classics are sometimes the best. So why not play it on your keyboard?

Created by the Youtuber Mythic Maniac, the colourful version of snake, played using only a Corsair K70 keyboard was created using C# and is publicly available. Available to download from the code repository site Github, it is noted that while it was only tested and used on a Corsair K70 “there’s a high possibility of it working with others as well”.

https://youtu.be/yYet1X18F2E

With everything you need to download, install and play the game I can see many hours fading away as we get used to the new and colourful version of Snake. Be warned, if you are after “good code” you may want to be wary of the warning posted on the GitHub page,

“I never intended to release this at all, so the source might have some silly things lying all over the place.

If you choose to clone this and use for your own purposes, you might want to clean this up a bit.”

So will you be downloading and playing Snake on your keyboard? Who can get the highest score? Tell us yours in the comments below

Mushkin Reactor 512GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


After I recently had a look at Mushkin’s Striker SSD, it is now time to take a closer look at the Mushkin Reactor SSD and that’s just what I am doing in today’s review. Mushkin’s Reactor solid state drive promises simultaneous capacity and performance while also keeping the initial costs of purchase in the mainstream spectrum. The Reactor drive is available in three capacities from 256GB to 1TB, but I’m taking a closer look at the 512GB model today.

The Mushkin Reactor is a basic mainstream drive that will be a great solution in any workstation system or gaming rig. It is built around the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller which is a little cheaper than the Phison S10 for example. In return, we get a drive that is cheaper to purchase. It still delivers a great performance thanks to the use of MLC NAND and it is rated for sequential operations up to 560MB/s reading and 460MB/s writing. The random access performance isn’t bad at all either and the drive comes with a rating of up to 71K IOPS reading and up to 75K IOPS writing.

With solid performance figures like these, the Reactor drive has no reason to hide behind any other competing drives. Capacity wise you got three options in this series where the 512GB model that I’m having a look at today is right in the middle. There’s also a smaller version with 256GB capacity and the larger model with 1TB capacity. That’s a lot of fast storage at an affordable price thanks to clever hardware choices.

The drive has a couple features less than the Mushkin Striker SSD that I recently reviewed, but the basics are well covered on this drive too. The Reactor has the basic S.M.A.R.T. and Trim features as well as early weak block retirement, DataRefresh, and built-in BCH ECC with up to 66 bits per 1kb. The only thing that could be considered missing is DevSleep and that’s only really relevant for notebook users anyway.

Just because the Reactor drive doesn’t have the DevSleep feature doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a great upgrade for any notebook, laptop, or ultrabook out there. The 7mm height and default 2.5-inch form factor makes the upgrade quick and easy in either case. The Reactor is also a light drive and that’s something everyone can appreciate for their portable devices. You don’t want to carry any more weight with you than absolutely necessary.

The SATA power and data connectors are default in the sense of pin connectors, as it should be, but they are also another place where Mushkin managed to save a little in order to provide you with a better-priced drive. The connectors are almost transparent when you shine a light on them, but they still appear to be an equal quality when compared to conventional connectors stability.

Mushkin’s Reactor SSD is one of the few drives these days that’s still assembled with screws, which makes my life a lot easier when showing you what the drive looks like on the inside. The enclosure itself is put together with four screws and the PCB is also secured to the case with four screws. In the photo below we also see the thermal transfer pad located on the controller that connects to the chassis. This effectively turns the entire drive into a heatsink and it’s something we’ve seen quite often in other drives because it simply works well.

Having a closer look, we see the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller next to eight NAND chips from SanDisk.

The other side of the PCB has another eight NAND chips and a Nanya RAM chip as a cache buffer.

Feature Highlights

  • Capacity and Performance
  • Optimal Data Flow: Optimized for dependable and reliable data flow
  • TRIM Support when used with compatible operating system
  • Shock-Resistant: Designed for continued reliable function
  • 3 Year Warranty: Quality guaranteed

Specifications

  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Dimensions: 7mm X 69.85mm X 100.5mm
  • Performance: Up to 560MB/sec (Read) / Up to 460MB/sec (Write)
  • IOPS: Up to 71,000 IOPS (Read) / Up to 75,000 IOPS (Write)
  • MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
  • Controller: Silicon Motion SM2246EN
  • Interface Type: SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface (backwards compatible with SATA 2.0 (3Gb/s) and SATA 1.0 (1.5Gb/s))
  • Temperature Range: 0-70°C
  • Warranty: 3 years limited

Packaging

The Mushkin Reactor comes in a simple blister package that showcases the included drive itself.

It is surrounded by a simple inlay that also shows the drive’s main features on the rear. Other than that, there isn’t much to the package.

D-Link DXE-820T Dual Port 10Gbase NIC Adapter Review

Introduction


Among our recent upgrade to 10 Gbit networking here in the eTeknix review section wasn’t just the awesome 12-port smart switch that we saw a little while ago, D-Link also supplied me with a DXE-820T dual-port 10 Gbit Ethernet Network card to be able to connect with the switch in full speed. After all, what good does a 10 Gbps switch do when my test rig doesn’t have the same kind of performance.

The D-Link DXE-820T is a dual-port 10 GBASE-T RJ-45 PCI Express high-performance adapter designed for the high-speed PCI Express bus architecture. This adapter offers the increased bandwidth needed in modern environments as well as being a reliable and functional PCI network card. It has been specifically designed to allow throughput at rates up to 40 Gbps, thus eliminating the bottleneck that exists with current 32 and 64-bit PCI bus architectures.

The DXE-820T requires a PCI-E v2 x8 or x16 slot for enough bandwidth, but you don’t need to provide any extra power connectors or other things besides your network cables, naturally. The card is capable of a transmitting distance of up to 100m with Cat 6A or higher in 10 GBASE-T mode and up to 100m with Cat 5 type cables in Gigabit mode. This makes the placement of the switch a lot easier.

The DXE-820T features TCP, UDP, and IP checksum offloading functionality, which transfers the checksum processing tasks from the computer’s own CPU and onto the network card itself. The DXE-820T’s ability to handle the checksum processing means that the CPU’s processing power can be used for other tasks while still achieving 20 Gbps network speeds. It also means that the network card needs some extra cooling in the form of an active fan as well as a passive heatsink.

The adapter also features an onboard screening of 802.1Q VLAN tagged Ethernet frames, allowing you to assign multiple subnets to each server and isolate devices within each VLAN from the rest of the network for better traffic control and security. With support for advanced features such as 802.3x flow control, jumbo frames, and SNMP for network management, the DXE-820T can easily interoperate with your current networking equipment.

With two ports at your disposal, you can increase the network throughput even further than the 10 Gbit per second on each port. With Smart Load BalancingTM, the DXE-820T can configure multiple adapters to work as a team, sharing traffic and ensuring data reliability. This both creates a faster network and provides fault tolerance resulting in a stable and efficient network.

The low profile design allows the deployment in space restricted areas and D-Link also included a low-profile slot cover right away. The card itself is powered by Broadcom’s BCM57810 chip.

The card naturally supports Jumbo Frames for optimized setups and it allows for values up to 9K. The DXE-820T is compatible with all major operating systems with drivers available for both user systems and server systems such as Windows Server 2012 or Solaris 11.

Feature Highlights

  • High-Speed data transmission at rates up to 40Gbps allow for seamless data transfer.
  • 10GBASE-T technology supports distances to 100m over CAT6A or better copper cable.
  • Advanced Features: 802.3x flow control for traffic management, 802.1Q VLAN tagging for increased security, and checksum offloading to reduce CPU processing burden.
  • Bandwidth Management: NIC partitioning enables administrators to manage bandwidth for greater network efficiency.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The DXE-820T NIC card comes in a very neutral box that only really reveals that we have a D-Link product inside. But it’s a network card and it isn’t like you would put the box in the display after installing the card anyway, so simply is good.

We do find a little sticker on the rear of the box that reveals what is inside, the model number along with serial, mac address, and hardware version.

There is both a driver disk and a quick installation manual inside the box, and D-Link also included a low-profile bracket for use in small-form-factor systems. Everything you need to get going with that extra speed.

Mushkin Striker 480GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


It has been a while since we had a closer look at Mushkin’s lineup of solid state drives which makes today’s review a little more interesting than just looking at a great perming drive. On the test bench today is the Mushkin Striker 480GB 7mm slim solid state drive and I’ll put it through the usual tests to see how well it performs.

Mushkin built the Striker series with a performance that should satisfy the most demanding users, at least on the SATA3 connection. The Striker is built with Phison’s PS3110-S10 quad-core 8-channel controller which is coupled with quality MLC NAND. Three of the cores are dedicated for flash management and the controller also supports 256-bit AES encryption and Opal 2.0. These things coupled make for a great performing drive and this 480GB model is rated for up to 565 MB/s read and 550MB/s write speeds. The IOPS are rated around 90K for both read and write.

Performance is only one aspect of a drive, it also has to be reliable and keep your data error free. The Phison PS3110-S10 controller supports end-to-end data path protection, SmartECC, SmartRefresh, SmartFlush, and GuaranteedFlush. The end-to-end data protection makes sure that the data stays uncorrupted during the travels through the different parts of the hardware until it reaches the NAND flash.

SmartFlush is a proprietary algorithm to minimize DRAM utilization for user data. The Smart On-the-fly Flushing and Smart Triggered Flushing constantly flush data and re-organize random data chunks in the cache to minimize the time data stays in the cache as well as keep your data safe.

SmartRefresh consists of two parts that essentially are the wear-leveling algorithms. The run-time media scan and idle-time media scan detects ECC bit during read and idle operations and reallocated data to healthy blocks when the ECC bit exceeds the threshold.

Overall, the drive has all the features that you will want in a drive and that should make sure that you have a great performing drive for many years to come. Next to the ECC, garbage collection, and wear-level algorithms, the Mushkin Striker also supports DevSleep (DEVSLP), TRIM, and SMART.

The drive in itself is very plain with its simple black enclosure and sticker on the top. You’ll find all the relevant information such as serial number and capacity on that label, and what else do you need on a solid state drive? Mushkin backs the Striker SSD with a 3-year warranty and it’s also worth mentioning that drives all are assembled in the US.

Inside the two-piece snap-together enclosure is a 2/3rd length PCB. One side holds four of the NAND chips as well as the Phison S10 controller and the Nanya cache chip.

On the other side of the PCB are four more NAND chips in order to provide the 480GB capacity.

Feature Highlights

  • 3-Year Warranty
  • Optimal Data Flow
  • TRIM Support
  • Schock-Resistant
  • Extreme Performance

Specifications

Packaging

The Mushkin Striker comes in a simple blister package that showcases the included drive itself on both sides.

It is surrounded by a simple inlay that also shows the drive’s main features on the rear. Other than that, there isn’t much to the package.

MyDigitalSSD BP5e Bullet Proof 5 Eco 240GB SSD Review

Introduction


In today’s storage review, I’m taking a closer look at a solid state drive from a company that we don’t test quite as often, but it isn’t the first MyDigitalSSD drive have tested either. The newest MyDigitalSSD drive is the BP5e that stands for Bullet Proof 5 Eco and it is a 7mm slim solid state drive that will fit into pretty much any system for a performance boost over a mechanical hard disk drive. The new BP5e series comes in capacities from 240GB and up to 960GB, and the large size is one that becomes more and more popular due to decreasing prices. I’m however taking the 240GB drive for a spin today, a perfect entry-level drive.

There were a few hints in the first paragraph such as Eco and mechanical drive replacement, so you might already have guessed that this isn’t a new flagship drive but rather a budget drive for those that wish something that is faster than a traditional hard disk drive, but don’t want to spend a lot of money at the same time.

The new MyDigitalSSD BP5e drive is built with Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND which lowers the production cost at the same time as it increases the possible capacity on the same size, but it does come with a few drawbacks. TLC NAND doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and the performance of long-lasting copies will be affected, how much will be shown in our benchmarks on the following pages.

The TLC NAND is made my Toshiba and it is their TLC Toggle 2.0 NAND. It is paired with Phison’s newest S10 controller (PS3110-S10) with the latest firmware for optimal performance. The two coupled should provide some great reading speeds as well as writes. The drive is rated for up to 565MB/s speeds, but that’s just when reading.

MyDigitalSSD ships each BP5e drive over-provisioned for improved Random Read/Write performance and IOPS, extended performance endurance to minimize sluggishness as the drive fills with data, prolonged drive life, added drive reliability, and low power consumption.

The BP5e in itself is a very simple drive composed of a black two-piece snap-together enclosure with a sticker on the top. Inside we find a 2/3-long PCB that only utilizes the one side with four Toshiba TLC NAND chips, the Phison S10 controller, and a Nanya 128MB DDR3 cache chip.

Feature Highlights

  • Unequaled price to performance ratio
  • PHISON PS3110 controller
  • Toshiba TLC Toggle Flash
  • Large storage capacity
  • Easy installation
  • High-speed SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III) interface – Backward compatible to SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II)
  • Withstand extreme shock and vibration
  • Support DDR3 I/O interface
  • Power management supported
  • NCQ command set. TRIM, RAID, and SMART support
  • 2-year warranty

Specifications

Packaging

The package is quite colourful and presents a full-colour image of the drive itself along with the name and what it can do right on the front.

The rear of the box has a little more information about the drive itself along with a feature list and a capacity sticker to show what model is inside.

Inside the box, we only find the drive itself and no other accessories. Not like we need a long installation guide to connect a storage drive, it’s not rocket science. A penny saved on production can make the difference in the retail pricing.

 

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.

Silicon Power Slim S70 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Continuing our reviews of the Silicon Power solid-state drives, we’ve gotten to the Slim S70, a mid-ranged performance drive in the 7mm thin Slim series perfect for notebooks as well as desktop systems.

The Silicon Power Slim S70 is available in 5 capacity version all the way up to 960GB. The smaller capacities available are 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB and I am taking a closer look at the 240GB model today. The drive is rated for a sequential read performance up to 550MB/s reading and 500MB/s writing, which shouldn’t be any trouble to achieve for the hardware inside.

The Silicon Power Slim S70 SSD is built with a Phison S10 controller which has proven itself in numerous drives and comes with synchronous NAND flash. The Slim S70 has all the basic features that an SSD needs to have, including S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, Garbage collection, NCQ, and wear leveling. It is also RAID ready for those who want even faster setups with all the features available. Silicon Power also included error correction code to guarantee data transmission reliability.

Making the upgrade from a mechanical hard disk drive to a solid-state drive is something that everyone needs to experience, there simply isn’t any comparison. An SSD isn’t just a lot faster, it also consumes less power which is great for stationary systems as well as mobile ones. There are no moving parts and thereby no noise or vibration and it makes it more shockproof than traditional storage drives. You also eliminate latency delays and seek errors.

The SP Slim S70 is also available as upgrade kits that include a shockproof enclosure, screwdriver, and NTI Echo cloning software for an easy upgrade in three steps. It also allows you to use your old drive as an external portable drive afterward. The included enclosure provides rugged protection against shocks, scratches, and abrasions, and it features a cable wrap-around design for easy portability.

Inside the two-piece screwless enclosure, we find a 2/3 sized PCB with four NAND chips on each side. The controller is a Phison PS3110-S10 and the NAND should be Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND from the DP58G5LAPA inscription. There is also a Nanya 128MB cache chip on the top. Funny enough, it looks to be the exact same layout and parts as we saw in the SP Slim S60.

Features

  • 7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
  • SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Super-high transfer rate: 520MB/s max. Read speed / 460B/s max. Write speed
  • Random 4K write speed up to 86000 IOPS
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Equipped with wear leveling, to extend endurance
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • Low power consumption
  • Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
  • Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
  • 5-year warranty

Packaging

The Silicon Power Slim S70 comes in a simple blister package displaying the included drive itself on the front. At the same time, it also displays the main features, 5-year warranty period, and slim drive height.

The rear of the package has the basic feature list in multiple languages as well as the average performance increase one would gain compared to a mechanical drive.

The leaflet inside the package opens up for a simple installation guide, feature list, and specification.