G.Skill Ripjaws 4 2666MHz 16GB DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, the most vital part of any computer that gets overlooked the most. There’s not a lot to say about RAM apart from its expensive and very confusing. DDR4, the newest iteration of RAM is currently the fastest version of the consumer RAM, with speeds exceeding 3333MHz. RAM kits now come in a variety of shapes with the basic bare modules, right up to the simply stunning Ripjaws series.

Today we will be looking at the G.Skill Ripjaws 4 2666MHz 16GB memory kit. This is one of the more conservative memory kits that G.Skill produce with a rather tame 2666MHz clock speed, but this does let the manufacturing team set an impressive 15-15-15-35 timing. G.Skill are renowned the world over with how well their memory kits perform and most of the world’s memory overclocking records are set with G.Skill memory.

“G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 series performance DDR4 memory is designed for the ultimate experience on the latest Intel X99 platform! Whether you are processing large amounts of data or intense gaming, experience smooth system performance with the newest next-generation PC memory technology! All Ripjaws 4 memory kits are tested with G.SKILL’s extensive suite of testing software to ensure maximum performance and stability. Make Ripjaws 4 the ideal choice for your DDR4 system!”

That’s enough talking, let’s jump into testing.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple. Four modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The design of the Ripjaws series is very unique and very recognisable to most enthusiasts. I think the design could be taken to the next level if the ‘Ripjaws 4’ logo was laser etched on or cut out instead of a sticker.

Antec VSP5000 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Antec has a long history of creating durable, competitive and affordable products. Of course, they also make high-end products, but it’s their budget ranges that have long dominated the market and that’s a trend Antec seem eager to continue with the release of their VSP5000. The new chassis has a big focus on silence, and it comes with sound dampening materials in the side panel, side intake vents, a sound blocking top panel, triple channel fan controllers and more! If you like a system that barely makes a whisper, this certainly “sounds” like the chassis for the job.

The Antec VSP5000 isn’t immediately striking as the most beautiful box in the world, but it’s certainly far from ugly. The left side panel has a raised section, which serves little to no purpose, but it does match the right side panel; a little symmetry never hurt anyone.

As I was saying, both the left and right side panels are of the same design. Of course, on the right side, this panel is more practical as its shape allows extra cable routing space behind the motherboard.

The front panel is neat and tidy, although admittedly nothing fancy. There’s an LED light strip at the top, although why this is included is beyond me, as those who want a silent build, likely aren’t too keen on a front panel light either; I personally never connect the power or HDD LED on my own chassis for this reason. On the top half, you will find 3 x 5.25″ drive bay covers, one of which has a 3.5″ pop-out.

From the top, there’s a slide lock for the top fan panel cover, two rubber routing grommets, a pre-installed 120mm exhaust fan and seven expansion slots. Unfortunately, the expansion slot covers are a snap-off design, but that’s not exactly uncommon in sub-£40 chassis.

The top panel features two pre-installed fans, which are slightly recessed behind the top panel cover. This cover also features a sound-proofing layer, albeit with cut-outs for the fans, to help reduce unwanted noise from the chassis.

The front panel is very well equipped, with three separate fan controllers, that feature both low and high settings, but most interesting of all, a stop function; you’re not going to get your fans any more silent than that! Also of interest, the USB and HD audio jacks have rubber caps, which helps keep debris out.

ASUS TUF X99 Sabertooth (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the chipset that has brought workstation power to the consumer level, has been around with us for a few months now. In this time, motherboard manufacturers have had time to tweak and release their top of the line motherboards with the best features and settings. A little out of the gates with the trademark TUF SABERTOOTH motherboard is ASUS.

That’s right, we have received our sample of the legendary TUF (The Ultimate Force) series motherboard, based on the X99 chipset. This particular model series allows ASUS to cram as much military grade inspired technology as possible into one motherboard. Covered from top to bottom in a checkered plate style cover and using only the finest capacitors in the world.

ASUS cherry pick and test all of the components to server specifications, giving them the confidence to grace this motherboard with a 5 Year warranty period. The attention to detail on the TUF series allows the users to take full control of the system in terms of cooling, allowing you to control 9 adjustable fan headers in tandem with 12 real-time temperature sensors to really choose the best fan placement. Along with the ultra durability and cooling features presented by the TUF range, ASUS along include the brand new USB 3.1 format, capable of 10Gp/s transfers.

Let’s take a look if all these features really make an ounce of difference.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no exception and has crammed a huge array of features into this motherboard.

  • USB 3.1 Boost
  • USB BIOS Flashback
  • USB Charger+
  • Remote Go!
  • ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ mode
  • Turbo LAN
  • Push Notice
  • AI-Suite 3
    • Q-connector
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM
    • OC Profile
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • ASUS EZ-Update
    • Disk Unlocker
    • EZ Flash 2

Now because this is one of ASUS’ trump cards, they’ve crammed in a little more ‘TUF’ features:

  • Ultimate Cool
    • Thermal Armour
    • Thermal Radar 2 with Thermistors
    • ICe
  • We Got Your Back
    • Fortifier
  • TUF Engine
    • 8+2 Phase Power
    • TUF  Components (10K capacitors, Chose & MOSFET)
    • DIGI+ Power Control
  • SAFE & Stable
    • TUF Detective
    • TUF ESD Guards 2
    • Dust Defenders
    • MemOK!

For more information on these functions, please visit the ASUS TUF X99 SABERTOOH product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box is feature covered, yet simple; very plain and neutral colour scheme. It’s a shame really, I was expecting a metal briefcase similar to the AMD R9 295×2, that would really drive home the “TUF” standard.

Inside the box is a huge amount of accessories; consisting of manuals, driver disk, 6x SATA cables, 1x SLi bridge connector, 1x Q-shield (backplate), 1x Q-Connector kit (easy front panel header connector), 1x 40mm fan, 4x DRAM slot dust covers,  assortment of PCi-e dust covers, 3x thermistor cables, assortment of addition I/O and internal header dust covers.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 960 2GB ITX Graphics Card Review

Introduction and A Closer Look


The GeForce GTX 960 has been with us for a few months now, it has established itself as the ‘go-to’ graphics card for under $200. With the amount of power graphical power it produces at this price point, it has really been taken on by the mid-range enthusiast market and as such, NVIDIA allowed manufacturers to release an ITX version, much like the NVIDIA GTX 970 before it. This new form factor is set to take the Small Form Factor (SFF) a light. Well under the typical MSRP of the rest of the GTX 960 range, the ITX models. The push for the GTX 960 was to move stagnant gamers from their aging technology. The data was collected from a Steam survey; results showing the typical powered graphics card around a GTX 660 or lower.

Today we have Gigabyte’s offering into the ITX GTX 960 market, the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 960 2GB ‘ITX Edition’ OC; that’s a bit of a mouthful, so for the rest of the article, I will refer to it as GTX 960 ITX. The reason for the ‘ITX’ label is the entire length of the card is only 17cm, which is the length of an ITX motherboard. The card features all of the typical GTX 900 series features, but due to the decreased size, the flex display has been removed due to fewer output ports. Performance wise, it has two overclocked settings; OC and Gamer. The gamer has the highest overclock at around 8% over stock, but leaves the memory clock at the standard 7010MHz. It features the same 120W TDP and 128 Bit bus interface as the standard GTX 960, so let’s see if the increased clock speeds is enough to prove this ITX size card has what it takes to compete.

The packaging follows the same design as the other Gigabyte VGA boxes, plain and simple with just the key features.

Inside the box, we find a Molex to PCIe 6 pin cable, manual and driver disk.

The card is very plain, a very similar design to the GTX 970 ITX Edition. It features the newly implemented Windforce 92mm fan with increased air flow and silence.

Along the bottom of the card is nothing interesting; the PCIe interface and the side of the cooling shroud.

At the end of the card, we see the heatsink sticking out with open-ended fins for the hot air to be expelled.

Looking down onto the top of the card, still a very boring looking card, but you do get a look at those massive copper cooling pipes.

To keep the cost down, Gigabyte didn’t incorporate a backplate on this graphics card.

The outputs offered is very wide for a card this size, 1x HDMI, 2x DVI and 1x DisplayPort. This means there aren’t enough ports to carry out FlexDisplay.

 

Silverstone SUGO SST-SG11 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Silverstone are the masters of small form factor chassis designs, we’ve seen time and time again that they can deliver competitively priced products that meet consumer demands and in many cases, exceed them. Their SUGO series is one of their most popular series and as we’ve seen in previous reviews, it’s not hard to understand why. They often pack lots of high-end hardware, with little or no compromise, into a tiny form factor that makes them suitable for a wide range of applications. Naturally, I’m hoping and more so expecting a repeat of their past successes with the SUGO SST-SG11 which we are reviewing today.

The SG11 is one of the slightly larger chassis in the small form factor category, but it still carries that classic shoe-box style shape and its slightly larger size is for good reason; the SG11 is capable of housing a micro-ATX motherboard, as well as a full ATX PSU and plenty of other hardware. As you can see below, the long shape of the chassis provides us with space for lots of ventilation down the side; perfect for any long graphics cards. The SG11 will support cards as long as 368mm; very impressive for something of this size.

The right side features even more ventilation, the front most section for a pre-installed 120mm fan that will keep your hard drives cool and provide some air intake for the rest of your components, which the ventilation next to that is passive and will allow airflow to your motherboard and CPU components.

The front panel is really nicely finished. A pair of mirror finish strips give it a nice premium look and also give you a lovely look at the purple carpet I have in my office. This design is nice, as it’ll look great in the office, but also as part of your AV setup if you’re planning a HTPC-style build.

Tucked away at the top of the front panel, a rubber cover protects/hides the dual USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks. This is nice as it keeps the front looking smart when you’re not using them, but also helps keep dust and debris from gathering in the ports.

Around the back, you can see even more ventilation, there no doubt that you’ll have little issue getting air in and out of this chassis! There’s an ATX power supply mount with the motherboard mount directly below it. On the right, you’ll find four expansion slots, perfect for those wanting a dual-GPU setup and a Micro-ATX motherboard.

On the top of the chassis, you will find two more vents, behind which you can see mounts for two optional 80mm fans that would be situated directly above your expansion cards; this could be perfect for keeping your graphics cards cool.

There’s very little to see on the base, but what is nice is that the four feet have been treated with a rubber ring, which will help keep the chassis from sliding around on your chosen surface.

Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 2666MHz 32GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


When you’re building a tower, memory normally gets the last thought; you budget for all of the other key parts and then you find yourself having to readjust when you remember that you didn’t add any memory to your basket. With consumer memory kits roughly starting off where DDR3 left off, the speeds are blisteringly fast; some exceeding 3333MHz.

Kingston is one of the most well-known memory manufacturers, with many years in the business; it knows its way around a memory module. Kingston produced some of the finest RAM I’ve ever owned in my personal computers; reliable speeds with great overclocking headroom. Today we look at the HyperX Fury DDR4 memory kit.

“HyperX® FURY DDR4 can handle even the toughest battle. It automatically recognises its host platform and overclocks to the highest frequency published (up to 2666MHz1) — so you can wreak havoc. FURY DDR4 runs at 1.2V, even at 2666MHz, so it stays cooler while you play. You don’t need to alter the voltage to reach higher speeds, which means there’s more power for other hardware in the system. FURY’s sleek, asymmetrical black heat spreader provides enhanced thermal dissipation to help keep your cool and help you stand out from the crowd.”

Let’s jump straight into it and see what the kit can really do.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Packing is very similar to the rest of what Kingston offers its memory kits in. Two halves, one black with ridges for the modules and one clear to see the modules. Well, you could see them if there wasn’t so many information stickers in the way.

A Closer Look

A very premium looking memory kit. Pressed metal casing with raised and diamond etched ‘HyperX’ logo. This is just two of the four modules.

Fractal Design Core 2300 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Fractal Design is well-known for their high-end chassis products. They’ve won many awards for their clean designs, exceptional build quality, water cooling support and much more, which has made them a popular choice with the enthusiast system building crowd. However, that’s not all Fractal Design do and as many of you are no doubt well aware, not everyone has the kind of money required for an enthusiast-grade build, sometimes we just want an affordable product that ticks the right boxes for our build.

Key features

  • A compact full-ATX case with bottom-mounted PSU, designed for exceptional airflow and cooling
  • Brushed aluminum-look front panel with a sleek, three-dimensional textured finish
  • Superior water cooling support for its size, supporting one 240/280mm radiator in the front and a 240mm radiator in the top
  • Featuring a 120mm rear exhaust fan for great cooling
  • Total 7 fan slots with two 120mm fans included
  • Extruded motherboard plate allowing space for additional cable routing; 18.5mm around the motherboard and 13.5mm directly behind it
  • Supports tall CPU cooler towers, up to 162mm in height
  • Multiple easy-to-clean dust filters designed into the case to help maintain a dust free interior
  • Innovative vertical HDD bracket, which simultaneously holds three 3.5″ drives and three 2.5″ drives
  • One additional SSD position behind the PSU area with easy installation and access

The Core 2300 chassis that I’m looking at today is from Fractal Designs more budget focused range, but keep in mind, cheap prices don’t always translate to a cheap product, not forgetting that Fractal Design has a reputation to uphold, so let’s get stuck in and take a close look at what it has to offer.

The chassis is certainly nothing fancy at first look, but it’s not exactly ugly either, it’s just a fairly straight forward looking black chassis. The left side panel is flat and is held in place by two thumb screws at the back, plus there’s a 120mm fan mount on the panel for extra airflow should you need it.

Again, another flat panel on the right side, which is also held in place by two thumb screws.

The front panel is fairly straight forward too, with a neat and tidy design. There’s two pop-out 5.25″ drive bay covers, should you need them, as well as two strips of ventilation, one down each side.

Around the back, you’ll find a 120mm fan pre-installed at the top, seven expansion slots and the PSU mount. Again, nothing fancy, but ticking all the right boxes for the kind of things you’ll need.

In the top of the 2300, there’s two more fan mounts, which support 120/140mm fans or up to 240/280mm radiators.

The front panel has all the basics covered, with a single USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port, HD audio jacks, power, reset and a HDD LED.

On the underside, there’s a clip in mesh filter that covers both the PSU air intake, as well as an optional bottom fan mount. There’s four hard rubber feet to provide good ground clearance and they’ll also help hold the chassis in place on harder surfaces.

Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV Micro-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Today is a pretty cool day at eTeknix HQ, as I get to take a look at my very first Phanteks chassis! The new Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV looks set to be another welcome addition to the enthusiast gaming chassis market, perfect for those who love to show off their build. Phanteks already have a great reputation thanks to their extreme performance air coolers, which are still proving popular amongst system builders, so I’m certainly eager to see what this chassis has to offer.

First up, the EVOLV came with a large box of accessories.

In the box, I found cable ties, velcro ties, three LED lights (red, green and white), a toolbox full of screw fittings, a user manual and two drive tray adapters; pretty much everything you’ll need and more!

First impression of the EVOLV are very positive, this is a great looking chassis and it’s certainly unique in terms of its shape. It’s a little shorter from front to back that most towers of this size, we’ll take a look at why in a moment. The model we have today has a large side panel window and a brilliant white paint job, great for showing off your build. It’s also worth mentioning that this chassis is surprisingly heavy, the panels are thick steel and I wouldn’t want to lug this around to LAN gaming events anytime soon!

The right side panel has all the important stuff you’re likely to need.

There’s a small power and reset button near the top.

As well as a pair of HD audio jacks and dual USB 3.0 ports near the bottom.

The front panel is really nicely designed, with a rather strange yet cool looking metal front panel, which has some gaps around it for airflow to any front-mounted cooling. There’s a small LED strip near the bottom, which can be customised thanks to the extra LED lights that are included in the box.

Around the back, you can see that this is a Micro-ATX compatible chassis, so there are only four expansion slots, but each one is fitted with a reusable, ventilated metal cover. There’s a 140mm fan pre-installed, but there’s also fittings for a 120mm should you feel the need.

The top panel has a nice and clean look to it, lots of space on top for you to leave you wallet, glasses, phone and other stuff; not that you should, but a lot of people do. There are four ventilation holes down the left side of the top panel and four more on the right side, perfect for getting airflow to/from any top mounted cooling.

Two full-width feet provide a strong and stable base for the chassis, as well as freeing up a good amount of space for airflow to the PSU air filter.

ECS Z97I-Drone LEET Gaming (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform has been around with us for almost a year now, so the marketplace is slightly saturated with motherboards from a huge array of manufacturers. Offering full support for the Haswell Refresh CPU’s, it has really brought new performance levels to the consumer market. While still producing the Z97 platform, Intel are soon to release the newest CPU lineup, named Skylake; with that introducing the new LGA 1151 socket motherboards. Focus has moved from the typical motherboard form factor, ATX and microATX to the ITX size. Tthis motherboard crams in most of the features of it’s bigger brothers, while being a tiny 17cm x 17cm size.

Today we have the Elitegroup (ECS) Z97I-Drone (GANK), under the LEET Gaming sub-division. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let me explain with a picture.

In this iteration, ECS aim to bring top performance and gaming to the ITX market. In this review, things are going to be a little different; let’s do an ITX showdown with the four ITX motherboards that we’ve had in so far.; the ASUS Z97I-PLUS, Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming-5 and the AsRock Z97E-ITX/ac.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Elitegroup offer a small amount of custom software with this motherboard which is highly functional.

  • eBLU BIOS Live Update
  • eDLU Drivers Live Update
  • eOC Easy Overclock

For more information on these functions, please visit the ECS Z97I-Drone product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box comes in two parts, the outer protective cover with all of the information on; then a plain, further protection box where you find the motherboard and accessories.

In the box we find 2x SATA cables, I/O shield and a range of manuals and how-to guides.

Biostar Gaming Z97X (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform has been around with us for almost a year now, so the marketplace is slightly saturated with motherboards from a huge array of manufacturers. Offering full support for the Haswell Refresh CPU’s, it has really brought new performance levels to the consumer market. While still producing the Z97 platform, Intel are soon to release the newest CPU lineup, named Skylake; with that introducing the new LGA 1151 socket motherboards. Today we are going to be looking at a motherboard from Biostar, but first a little history lesson. Did you know Biostar has been around in the computer tech sector for as long as Gigabyte? That’s right, 29 years old and I bet some of you didn’t even know they existed. They’ve primarily stuck to OEM motherboards, which get bundled up into pre-built computers for high street retailers. Biostar has a rich history, being the first company to introduce Wi-fi on a motherboard back in 2003, the first manufacturer to offer an AM2 socket motherboard in 2007 and the first to offer a motherboard with USB 3.1 ports; today we will be looking at the board.

The motherboard in question is Biostar’s gaming motherboard, the Gaming Z97X. With more features than you could shake a stick at, it has more than enough wealth of knowledge built into it and with USB 3.1 as standard; it shouldn’t be a slouch either.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Biostar is no different and bring a nice array of software

  • CPU / System Temperature Monitoring
  • CPU / System Fan Monitoring
  • Smart / Manual CPU / System Fan Control
  • System Voltage Monitoring
  • Smart Ear headphone Utility
  • BIO-Remote2
  • Biostar MAGIX Multimedia Software Suite
  • Smart Speed LAN

For more information on these functions, please visit the Biostar Gaming Z97X product page.

Packaging and Accessories

A nice style box, simple styling with the Biostar Gaming logo in the bottom right. Enlarged feature of the Killer E2201 networking chip.

In the box, we find 4x SATA cables, IO shield, manual, cable strap, screws, a 4GB USB stick/ card with all the drivers and utilities on and also the Gaming Commander.

Xigmatek Nebula C Mini-ITX Chassis Review

Introduction


I’m a big fan of Xigmatek chassis’, time and time again they’ve shown they can make cool products with a good range of features, but most importantly, they’ve always done it with a fiercely competitive price tag, making them very attractive products to system builders. Their latest effort, the Nebula C is another welcome entry into the increasingly popular cube-type chassis market, which make great solutions for HTPC and LAN gaming systems.

  • Includes pre-installed high performance silent (black with black blades) Xigmatek XOF fan with FCB (Fluid Circulative Bearing) for optimal exhaust capabilities.
  • I/ O panel includes 2 x Super-Speed USB 3.0, HD Audio In/Out jacks, Power/Reset.
  • Capable of mounting Mini-ITX Motherboard.
  • Innovative 2 X 3.5” HDD can be converted to 2.5” SSD for easy mix and match.
  • Included 1 additional 2.5” SSD mounting holes inside chassis
  • All 3 side panels are tool-less and designed with quick release mechanism for easy hardware mounting.
  • Can install full sized power supply
  • Innovative Intake system from base of the tower.
  • Motherboard tray perforated with holes for free flow air into chassis and option for cable tie-down
  • Can mount up to 230mm Gaming Graphic card
  • Angled power/HDD light giving visual depth.
  • Polycarbonate side panels for alternative feel.
  • Baseless construct for sleek compact appearance.

As you can see from the specifications, the Nebula C may be small, but it packs just enough features for a decent gaming rig, with room for a dual-slot graphics card, ATX PSU and a few hard drives.

First impressions of the Nebula C are very good, this is one gorgeous looking chassis, its understated clean exterior and very modern design are a far cry from the usual chassis designs we see. The exterior is finished in white polycarbonate, giving it a glossy, yet soft looking finish that gives it a premium look and feel. The bottom left corner is cut away, with a small orange light fitting, a nice touch that will provide a soft glow when powered up.

There’s really very little to see on the exterior of the chassis, which is great for those who want a clean-looking system for their AV setup.

The I/O panel is a little simple, but all the basics are taken care of, offering a pair of HD audio jacks and dual USB 3.0 ports.

The glossy top panel appears to float above the side panel and in one corner, you’ll find a large power button.

The orange LED trim around the recessed button really draws your attention on the white background, its design makes you want to push it.

Front the front of the chassis, you can see the button LED cutaway, as well as a nice Xigmatek logo in the bottom right.

Around the back, we get a break from the sea of glossy whites, swapped out for a soft matte black finish. There’s a single 120mm exhaust fan pre-installed, with water/cable routing grommets directly below it. Aside from a little extra ventilation, there’s really little else to see here, just a standard ATX PSU cut-out and the fixtures for a Mini-ITX motherboard.

Gigabyte X99-Gaming-5P (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the best of the best when it comes to general consumer chipsets. Released back in August 2014, this has quickly taken the technology world by storm; offering some of the best performance only before seen in workstation systems.

Today at eTeknix, we have the newest addition to the Gaming 5 line-up, the X99-Gaming-5P. “What’s the difference compared to the original X99-Gaming-5 motherboard?” I hear you all saying in your mind; well that’s a tough one. On first impressions, it just seems Gigabyte took the original Gaming 5 motherboard and extended it into the large E-ATX width and added some fancy lights. On a deeper look into the comparison, it seems that the Gaming-5P is more aimed towards the overclockers and higher-end enthusiasts, offering support of up to 128GB RAM capacity and speeds of up to 3333MHz, that’s a massive increase over the standard 64GB and 2800MHz. Along with the RAM tweaks, Gigabyte has also added a CPU switch on the side of the motherboard, there are other additions; which I will go into later.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Gigabyte is no exception and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • Support for APP Center
    • Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    • @BIOS
    • Ambient LED
    • EasyTune
    • EZ Setup
    • Fast Boot
    • Game Controller
    • Cloud Station
    • ON/OFF Charge
    • Smart TimeLock
    • Smart Recovery 2
    • System Information Viewer
    • USB Blocker
    • V-Tuner Š
  • Support for Q-Flash Š
  • Support for Smart Switch Š
  • Support for Xpress Install

For more information on these functions, please visit the Gigabyte X99-Gaming-5P product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Following true Gigabyte style, they use very similar boxing styles to most of their motherboard range now, very solid plastic box, black colouring with the series colour highlights (G1 Gaming red for this model).

Inside we see an absolute treasure trove of accessories, 6x SATA cables, 1x split power cable, 1x LED I/O shield, 1x single x-fire bridge, 1x single SLI bridge, 1x dual SLI bridge, 1x tri SLI bridge, 1x quad SLI bridge and the usual manuals and driver disk.

Crucial Ballistix Sport 2400MHz Quad Channel DDR4 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, the most vital part of any computer that gets overlooked the most. There’s not a lot to say about RAM apart from its expensive and very confusing. DDR4, the newest iteration of RAM is currently the fastest version of the consumer RAM, with speeds exceeding 3333MHz.

Crucial are one of the big players in the RAM game, providing us with solid performance at a more affordable price. Today’s kit is the Ballistix Sport 2400MHz, one of Crucial’s cheaper sets, providing us with minimal heatsinks and the base unit to use a black PCB. Let’s see how this set compares to the likes of Corsair, G-Skill and our base 32GB Crucial DDR4 set.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple. Ffour modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The Ballistix Sport kit looks very understated. A very slimline heatsink panel on each side. Such a minimalistic design which I think might put some off due to looking a little “cheap”. Hopefully that is not the case with the performance.

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB 2400MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


With every new DDR memory release comes a decline in operating voltage and a decrease in heat output. In the transition from DDR2 to DDR3 and now DDR4, we’ve seen voltages drop and the need for large memory heatsinks are no longer necessary. This allows memory brands to release high-performance memory kits in compact low profile form factors that require minimal cooling. Crucial Ballistix Sport LT is a great example of this – it boasts high frequency yet it still has a low profile design making it ideal for use in compact system builds and with large tower heatsinks that are definitely going to be necessary to cool some of Intel’s swanky new Haswell-E Core i7 5XXX processors.

2400MHz sits on the higher end of the consumer DDR3 kits, as a result we should expect to see some excellent performance from this new Crucial 2400MHz DDR4 kit but the real question is: how well can most applications take advantage of the improved memory architecture? Let’s find out in today’s review.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Packaging is very boring here, a simple clip case displaying two modules with a very small amount, but useful information.

A Closer Look

Crucial seem to have taken the original SPORT memory kit design and added a lip to the upper edge, which hugs the top of the PCB and meet the other side at the top.

GTA V – The Way It’s Meant to Be Played – 4K and Nvidia Shield

Introduction


In September 2013, Grand Theft Auto V finally hit our screens, albeit via the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, consoles that I loved playing on, but which were kept as a lead platform for far longer than they should have been. They weren’t incredibly powerful systems to begin with and time wasn’t kind to them. The buffed up release on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sure looked pretty, but they still weren’t the way I wanted to play Grand Theft Auto V, not even close.

The PC release of the game was a mystery for so long, but I kept my faith. I was sure that it will be happening and it comes as little shock that I was right on the money. The only downside to the PC release was that it took so much longer than the console editions to be released. I’ve stuck to my guns and since the original console release, I haven’t played a single minute of GTA V, I don’t know the story and the only things I have seen of the gameplay are funny videos that get posted to YouTube and Reddit.

So why did I wait so long? The promise of 4K gaming, frame rates that are at least above 30, increased texture detail, longer draw distances, mods and the multitude of other graphics enhancements that PC gaming provides us. On top of that, I love my Nvidia Shield and use it to stream games around my house, the prospect of playing GTA V on a tablet while laid in bed is just too tempting. The prospect of playing it streamed to my big screen TV in 1080p at 60FPS with the graphics dialed up to ultra, even more so.

Gigabyte X99-UD4P (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the mother of the prosumer chipsets. It’s what everyone wants, fewer can afford and fewer can fully utilise; this is the ultimate top trump card and rightly so. Gigabyte is currently the leading manufacturer of motherboards, while also offering one of the largest X99 motherboard ranges of all the manufacturers.

It seems Gigabyte are giving a spruce up to some of their best-selling X99 motherboards by giving them the overclocked treatment. They’ve doubled the contact area of every pin and increased the quality of the pins in aid to increase bandwidth. Along with this, they’ve added this onto their renowned Ultra Durable motherboard, which uses some of the best capacitors available. Let’s see if all this pays off in today’s review.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Gigabyte is no exception and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • Support for APP Center
    • Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    • @BIOS
    • Ambient LED
    • EasyTune
    • EZ Setup
    • Fast Boot
    • Cloud Station
    • ON/OFF Charge
    • Smart TimeLock
    • Smart Recovery 2
    • System Information Viewer
    • USB Blocker
    • V-Tuner Š
  • Support for Q-Flash Š
  • Support for Smart Switch Š
  • Support for Xpress Install

For more information on these functions, please visit the Gigabyte X99-UD4P product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Following true Gigabyte style, very similar boxing to most of their motherboard range now, very solid plastic box, black colouring with the series colour highlights (Ultra Durable Yellow for this model).

Inside, we see an absolute treasure trove of accessories, 4x SATA cables, 1x split power cable, 1x LED I/O shield, 1x single x-fire bridge, 1x single SLI bridge, 1x dual SLI bridge, 1x tri-SLI bridge, 1x quad SLI bridge and the usual manuals and driver disk.

Crucial Ballistix Elite 2666MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, no matter how you look at it, you need it. Starting life as super slow DDR modules, it has come a long way from the simple 600MHz speeds, now exceeding 3000MHz in most higher end consumer kits. Module sizes have also come a very long way, back in the day with 128MB, yes Megabyte, to now 4GB modules as the standard with 8GB becoming the norm very soon.

The kit we have in today is the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz. This is currently the highest clocked memory modules that Crucial produce, which is lower than what the likes of Corsair and G-Skill offer, but let’s see if this Elite 2666MHz kit has what it takes to compete with the big boys.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple: four modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The Crucial Elite range is all very similar, but the transition from DDR3 to DDR4 has seen the fins removed from the top of the heatsink; A lower profile makes room for a bigger CPU heatsink.

GTA V GPU Performance Review

Introduction


Grand Theft Auto V was released on Tuesday, along with that, NVIDIA has released yet another Game Ready Driver. However this time, AMD has decided to release one too, both offering optimised graphical drivers for most of their graphics card range.

Normally, we would only test a single driver and graphics card manufacturer, but because this is oriented towards GTA V performance, things are going to get a little more condensed.

Today we are going to be looking at seven of the top graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD, pitting them against each other to see which performs the best in GTA V, under our own choice of settings of course.

NVIDIA has released the GTA V optimised driver, GeForce Game Ready 350.12 and AMD has released a Beta driver, Catalyst 15.4. either can be downloaded by clicking the associated link.

Let’s begin shall we?

BitFenix Aegis Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


BitFenix is one of the coolest chassis manufacturers around. Time and time again we’ve seen them continue to innovate, with products that have proven massively successful with gamers and system builders around the world. Today, it looks like we’re in for a repeat performance, with the recent release of their eye-catching Aegis gaming chassis.

The Aegis is packed full of features that will appeal to virtually any system builder, but more importantly, the enthusiast gaming market. With room for ultra high-end graphics cards, modular storage bays, water cooling support, a PSU shroud and a whole lot more. Also, let’s not forget that it comes with their ICON display, a small LCD display hidden in the front panel that allows you to apply custom logos to the front of your chassis!

First impressions of this case are very good. We’ve got the black and red edition, which certainly stands out in more ways than one; it looks like Tony Stark designed a PC case! There’s a huge side panel window for showing off your hardware and a great mixture of glossy trim that accents the stunning red colour of the chassis. Down the side of the front panel, you’ll find plenty of ventilation for any front-mounted cooling. Front fans are optional, so it’s recommended you plan your cooling before you start your build.

A gorgeous glossy red panel on the right side. Both side panels are held in place by a pair of thumb screws at the back of the chassis.

The glossy black front panel looks incredible, but it is a bit of a dust magnet, so you may want to keep a microfiber cloth to hand. Sorry fans of optical bays too, as you simply won’t find any here.

The top of the chassis houses a three-speed fan controller, the power button with a lovely BitFenix logo on it and the reset button. There’s a pair of USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks there too; it’s nice to see more chassis ditching the now aging USB 2.0 ports.

The top panel houses even more ventilation, with a lift-out cover for easy maintenance and installation of your fans/radiators.

The overall finish and quality are fantastic, although I wouldn’t have expected anything less from BitFenix, as they often impress with their designs.

Around the back, you’ll find a pair of routing grommets at the top, a pre-installed 120mm exhaust fan, five expansion slots with ventilated covers and the PSU mount; nothing overly interesting, but at least all the basics appear to be in place.

On the bottom, you’ll find four rubber grip feet that provide a stable base for your system; the feet also give good ground clearance for any bottom mounted cooling and your PSU.

The magnetic filter runs the full length of the chassis, making maintenance a quick and easy process.

ASUS X99-A (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s current flagship consumer chipset, X99 has been around since August 2014. The X99 chipset was the first motherboard range to fully utilise DDR4 memory modules and put the much higher speeds to use. It’s starting to age slightly, being around 8 months old, so let’s see if this motherboard has any new tricks to bring to the game.

Today we have the ASUS X99-A ATX motherboard. In the X99 line-up, it’s the cheapest ASUS motherboard to date, with the next in line being the X99-S. ASUS has faltered lately, being knocked off the top motherboard manufacturer spot by Gigabyte (only by 300,000 units). Let’s see if this new budget X99 board has what it takes to bring ASUS back into the top spot.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no different and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • 5 Way Optimisation by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
    • DIGI+ Power
    • TPU
    • EPU
    • ASUS
    • Turbo App
  • UEFI BIOS
  • ASUS HomeCloud Server
  • Remote GO!
  • Media Streamer
  • NFC Express 2 Support
  • Turbo LAN
  • Crystal Sound 2
  • Steam Support
  • UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
    • OC Tuner
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • EZ Flash 2
  • Q-Design
    • Q-Code
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM
    • Q-Connector
  • USB 3.0 Boost
  • USB Charger+
  • Disk Unlocker
  • Ai Suite 3
  • MemOK!
  • EZ XMP

For more information on these functions, please visit the ASUS X99-A product page.

Packaging and Accessories

ASUS like to play it safe on their more wallet friendly motherboards. Keeping the box a simple black and white/ silver, which flows into the design of the motherboard itself. Extra’s are what you would expect, SATA cables, IO panel, manuals, driver CD, SLI bridge and a few stickers.

Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac (LGA-1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform is a perfect basis for a mini-ITX system build as it features enough performance to please even the most demanding user while still being power efficient enough to be tamed by small form factor cases and modest cooling solutions. Due to those reasons it isn’t surprising to see Intel’s LGA 1150 platform dominate the mini-ITX landscape. Creating a mini-ITX motherboard from AMD’s AM3+ or Intel’s LGA 2011 platforms is unfeasible from a number of perspectives including heat and for LGA 2011, the size of the socket and number of memory lanes required. We have seen other mini-ITX motherboards emerge for low power platforms like Intel’s Bay Trail, AMD’s Kabini and AMD’s FM2+ APU platform but relatively speaking all three of these platforms cannot rival Intel’s LGA 1150 in terms of raw performance. In short, Intel’s mainstream LGA 1150 platform offers the best balance of features, performance, pricing and power efficiency for the mini-ITX form factor.

Today we are setting our sights on one of ASRock’s newest additions to the line-up, the Z97E-ITX/ac. ASRock, a previous subdivision of AsusTek, has really taken the world by storm, becoming the 3rd biggest supplier of motherboards for the year 2013-2014. Being set on the Intel Z97 chipset, allows this motherboard to be compatible with all the LGA 1150 socket CPU’s such as the i5-4570k and i7-4700k. This particular board has been built using all the typical ASRock components; premium alloy chokes, 12K platinum capacitors and a sapphire black PCB, all combining to producing a stonker of a motherboard. Along with the usual hardware components, ASRock has managed to squeeze on the newest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac, meaning a boost of up to 289% over 802.11n Wi-Fi, a M.2 port for super fast storage and much more.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASRock is no different and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • ASRockSuper Alloy
  • ASRock 802.11ac WiFi
  • ASRock HDMi-In
  • ASRock Full Spike Protection
  • ASRock Cloud
  • ASRock App Shop
  • ASRock A-Tuning
  • ASRock Disk Health Report
  • ASRock USB Key
  • ASRock App charger
  • ASRock XFast LAN
  • ASRock XFast RAM
  • ASRock Restart to UEFI
  • ASRock FULL HD UEFI
  • ASRock My Favourites in UEFI
  • ASRock UEFI Guide
  • ASRock Instant Flash
  • ASRock Internet Flash
  • ASRock Crashless BIOS
  • ASRock Online Management Guard (OMG)
  • ASRock UEFI System Browser
  • ASRock UEFI Tech Service
  • ASRock Dehumidifier Function
  • ASRock Easy RAID Installer
  • ASRock Easy Driver Installer

For more information on these functions, please visit ASRock’s Z97E-ITX/ac product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Very typical enthusiast level extra’s. 2x SATA3 cables, install CD, ASRock Cloud manual, quick start manual, ASRock sticker and a single WiFi antennae.

Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X 8GB CrossFireX Review

Introduction


Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different, as we have a pair of Sapphire’s amazing R9 290x 8GB Tri-x edition graphics cards to combine together for some CrossFireX action. The dedicated review for this graphics card can be found here. When striving for the best results, it is favourable to test 2 of the same models to allow for no variation in any clock speeds or variations in any integrated components, so today we should see some excellent results.

In the dedicated review, this graphics card has more than enough power to play most games at 4K resolution at 60FPS, faltering slightly in the more demanding Metro Last Light.

We inserted both graphics cards onto our Core i7 5820K and X99-based test system, ensuring adequate spacing for optimum cooling and that both have access to sufficient PCI-e bandwidth for CrossFire operation.

The typical ‘hot spot’ when arranging a CrossFire or SLI configuration is the closest graphics card to the processor, due to both of these cards being equipped with the Tri-x cooler, positioning isn’t an issue.

As these graphics cards have been subject to Sapphires treatment, they have slightly higher clock speeds than a reference model, but as these are both the same cards, there should be little to no variation in clock speeds; this will result in maximum gains during testing.