ASUSTOR launched two new high-capacity enterprise-class NAS units, the AS6208T and the AS6210T. The only difference between the two units is that one has 8 drive bays and the other one has 10 drive bays. They are powered by an Intel Celeron (Braswell) 1.6GHz quad-core CPU with Boost speeds up to 2.24GHz. This is backed by 4GB dual-channel DDR3L memory which is expandable.
This is a great base for a powerful system that comes with hardware encryption support and 4K capabilities. All that power can be connected through the four built-in Gigabit Ethernet ports for a read and write performance up to 398 MB/s and 355 MB/s respectively in a RAID 5 setup.
There are plenty of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports as well as two eSATA ports. With that amount of extra ports, you can expand the systems even further than with the 8 and 10 internal bays that each support up to 8TB drives.
It’s probably unlikely that a system like this will be used for as a multimedia hub, although it would be perfectly suitable for it. Instead, it is much more likely to be used for surveillance tasks. It is well equipped for both scenarios with its direct usage ability. It features both an HDMI 1.4b connector and an S/PDIF audio link.
As with all other ASUSTOR NAS units, these two new ones come with a 3-year warranty and a suggested retail price of $999 for the AS6210T and $899 for the AS6208T. That’s actually not bad at all.
Key Hardware Specifications
Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Automatic Overclocking to 2.24GHz)
Read Speed of up to 398+ MB/s and Write Speed of up to 355+ MB/s Under Link Aggregation and RAID 5 Configurations
4GB Built-in Dual-Channel DDR3L High Speed Memory (Expandable up to 8GB, 4GB x2)
4 x Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Front of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
Back of Device: 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Ports, 2 x USB 2.0 Ports, 2 x eSATA Ports
Supports Largest Capacity Hard Disks on the Market (8TB)
Smart Fan Temperature Control
The AS6208T and AS6210T both come built-in with the latest ADM 2.5.4 firmware providing RAID data protection, high-grade AES-NI hardware encryption technology, a 256-bit data encryption mechanism, firewall, network defender, antivirus software for installation and other safety mechanisms to keep data safe and secure. But you will be able to upgrade to the newest firmware very soon as ADM 2.6 is scheduled to be released in April.
When good isn’t good enough, then you’ll want great, and when looking for great, you can’t get past QNAP. They have just launched two new NAS series for the enterprise sector with plenty of storage capacity options, great connectivity, and strong CPUs. Perfect for enterprise users that don’t want to compromise. The two new series are the TVS-ECx80U-SAS R2 and the TS-ECx80U R2.
Both of these new NAS series feature two built-in SFP+ based 10Gbps Ethernet ports without increasing the price over the previous models without the R2 name addendum. Besides the two SFP+ connectors, the system also features four 1Gbps Ethernet ports. Overall, everything you need for an IOPS-demanding application setup such as virtualisation setups and database systems.
The TVS-ECx80U-SAS R2 series comes equipped with a powerful Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 3.5 GHz processor and 16GB DDR3 non-ECC or 8GB DDR3 ECC RAM. A great hardware base for almost any setup. The TS-ECx80U R2 series provides models powered by an Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 3.5 GHz processor too and these come with 4GB DDR3 ECC RAM. Further, the series offers options with an Intel Core i3 3.5 GHz processor and 8GB DDR3 non-ECC or 4GB DDR3 ECC RAM too.
There are quite a few models to choose from, in various sizes and with varying drive bays. They all have four DIMM slots, extra internal ports for caching, redundant power supplies, and much more.
Since the spring flower season is almost in full bloom, KINGMAX has decided to release its new ZEUS line of DDR4 gaming RAM equipped with colorful heatsinks. Available in speeds of 2800 MHz, 3000 MHz and 3200 MHz, these RAM modules come in colors such as jewel red, cool silver and star blue, and they’re each quite eye-catching in their own way. As far as capacity is concerned, we’re looking at single modules of 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB, and since these modules can work in dual-channel, gamers will be able to install up to 32 GB of colorful DDR4 RAM into their rigs this spring.
Apart from the ZEUS DDR4 lineup, KINGMAX has also revealed a similarly named DDR3 set, which features speeds of 1600 MHz, 1866 MHz and up to 2133 MHz. All of these modules impress with low CAS latency, low voltage capabilities and incredible overclocking potential, and they can definitely come in handy for those of you who are looking to upgrade to Intel’s Skylake platform processors, at least as far as the DDR4 offerings are concerned. The company has also unveiled its new PJ-05 OTG USB line and cheap SATAIII SSD SMQ lines. The SSD offerings make use of TLC NAND Flash technology and are available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB variants.
Thecus announced the launch of two new enterprise-grade NAS with 12 and 16 bays and packed with plenty of features and connectivity while running on Haswell Xeon processors. The new N12580 and N16850 offer massive scalability on top of their cross-platform file sharing, schedulable snapshots, and resilient data integrity for a working environment that won’t let your enterprise down.
The two new servers come equipped with the Intel’s Haswell Xeon E3-1231 v3 3.4GHz processor and the C224 chipset. They are equipped with 16GB DDR3 ECC RAM but support up to 32GB each. Four RJ45 LAN ports allow for plenty of connectivity and the units come with plenty of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports too. Inside the NAS’, you’ll find an 8-lane (x1) or 4-lane (x2) and 1-lane (x1) PCI-E slot for further expansions. All that coupled together should make the N12850 and N16850 deliver lightning fast, persistent throughput speeds while offering the requirements necessary to efficiently complete CPU-consuming tasks and serves more concurrent tasks at the same time.
“Businesses today are seeking a NAS system that can best handle the demanding day-to-day high storage needs that occur in the workplace. Our new enterprise-class N12850 and N16850 NAS series are the solution. With advanced data protection and integrity mechanisms, these rackmounts NAS provide the ideal choice for storing a business’s crucial data.” said Florence Shih, CEO of Thecus Technology Corp.
With native support for both SAS and SATA drives, users can experience the superior storage performance of 12G SAS and 6G SATA drives for a flexible storage environment. These new models are 10GbE ready and support High Availability for system redundancy. The units also deploy Daisy Chaining via SAS technology which offers connections to four additional D16000 units, allowing users to reach storage capacities of up to 640TB. Impressive.
These new units also come with some new features which include Virtualization, Volume encryption, Free Intel Security, Thecus App Center and User Profiles. This new enterprise series delivers significant improvements in design, performance, and user experience.
Intel Haswell XEON processor
16GB DDR3 ECC RAM
AES-NI hardware encryption engine
Redundant power supply
4 x USB 2.0 ports, USB 2 x 3.0 ports
1 x VGA port
6G SATA and SAS 12G compatibility
Hot-swappable hard drives
RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60 and JBOD
The new Thecus N16850 and N12850 servers are expected to begin shipping globally in April, so that will be very soon and the wait won’t be long.
Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the next big thing in the digital revolution. To say it as simple as possible, IoT basically connects devices with each other and the internet in order to provide the data where it’s needed. We see a lot of new hardware being released in this sector and while some are completely new and independent, others bridge the gap between old-school legacy devices and the new IoT devices.
Gigabyte’s new EL-20-3700-32GB Intel Bear Ridge IoT Gateway Solution is just such a device as it will allow companies to connect sense, filters, process, analyzing and actuation while securing and managing machines and data. It supports onboarding, monitoring, diagnostics, and remote control of devices that otherwise would be unconnected.
It is built with an Intel Pentium N3700 Processor that is based on the Airmont microarchitecture and it’s Intel’s leading tri-gate 14nm process. The System on a Chip quad-core processor is designed to be very power effective and can drive both computing and graphics performance with a maximum power envelope of just 6W.
Besides the N3700 CPU, the EL-20-3700-32GB offers 32GB eMMC flash memory and two SO-DIMM DDR3 slots for up to 8GB 1600MHz memory. It sports two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports powered by a Realtek RTL8111HS controller and four USB 3.0 ports. The two HDMI ports can handle resolutions up to 4K and the unit also features surround sound via a Realtek ALC255 controller.
Other options include one Full-size Mini-PCIe slot for 3G module or mSATA storage and one Half-size Mini-PCIe slot for the pre-installed WiFi+BT module. Speaking of which, the module is an Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 3160 which supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.
Further, you’ll find an SDXC card slot and three user-configurable LEDs, and a micro-USB connector with OTG support. The full unit will be unveiled and presented at the Embedded World in Nuremberg in a couple of weeks.
Intel Pentium processor N3700
2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L slots
2 x GbE LAN ports (Realtek RTL8111HS)
32GB onboard eMMC memory
1 x mSATA slot
1 x SDCX card slot
1 x SIM card slot
Should you want to build the unit into a more enclosed space and not have it as a standalone unit, then Gigabyte also offers the motherboard on its own and the IoT board can be found under the product name MZBSWFP.
The Gigabyte EL-20-3700-32GB will be available at AVnet after it has been officially launched at Embedded World.
With the release of AMD’s upcoming Zen architecture upon us, it seems motherboard manufacturers are attempting to maximize sales from the current AM3+ and FM2+ platforms before it’s been replaced. To enthusiasts opting for the best possible hardware solutions, this isn’t going to interest them, but there’s still some usage scenarios where the low-cost options make sense. For example, you could use this motherboard in a HTPC or create a home-made NAS. The ASRock A88M-ITXac adopts the compact ITX form-factor and based on AMD’s A88X chipset supporting FM2+ APUs and CPUs. Furthermore, the socket is wired to two DDR3 slots housing up to 32GB of dual channel DDR3-2400 memory. There’s also a single x16 PCI-E graphics slot, to insert a high-end discrete GPU.
On another note, the motherboard contains six SATA 6Gb/s ports, an M.2 port on the reverse side of the PCB, and 802.11ac WLAN capable of speeds up to 433 Mbps. ASRock have also implemented Bluetooth 4.0 functionality and gigabit Ethernet. In terms of connectivity, there’s a HDMI 1.4a port, dual link DVI, D-Sub, four USB 3.0 ports and 6-channel audio solution. Another intriguing feature revolves around the ability to use a discrete Radeon graphics card in combination with an APU. This enhances the gaming performance and utilizes every aspect of your hardware setup.
Even though the FM2+ socket is rather outdated, I still believe there’s some merit to purchasing the platform especially if you’re building a small form factor media PC. The A88M-ITXac offers a great deal of features in a neat package. Although, there’s no information yet regarding pricing or availability. Hopefully, this should be unveiled very soon especially when you consider Zen is just around the corner.
Do you think there’s still a need for AM3+ or FM2+ motherboards? I personally wouldn’t purchase one, but at least consumers have that extra option for a low-cost build.
BIOSTAR expands its broad portfolio of motherboards with the new H110MD PRO. The BIOSTAR H110MD PRO supports the latest 6th-generation Intel Core processors and uses the H110 chipset. Memory wise you’ll find support for older DDR3 standard on the H1110MD rather than the newer DDR4 standard.
The new series of motherboards is designed for the budget minded system builder that still wants some great features while not blowing the whole budget on just the motherboard. It features BIOSTAR’s Tough Power Enhanced power design for improved stability and AudioArt capacitors guaranteeing a whole different listening experience versus similar motherboards.
The Audio Art Capacitors are high-end Japanese Nichicon audio capacitors that bring audio to life and make a lot of difference in your experience. Behind the Tough Power Enhanced feature is a high-endurance power design that allows the BIOSTAR PRO series motherboards to endure high-current with consistent full energy output without additional energy loss.
The H110MD PRO also features the Iron Heart as BIOSTAR calls it. The Iron Heart is a reinforced CPU backplate found on these PRO-series motherboards and help prevent bending and stress caused by heavy CPU coolers. This protects the motherboard from potential damage as well as the double feature of adding further cooling to the CPU and VRM area. Next to these three features, the H110MD also features BIOSTAR’s 6+ experience that includes Speed+, Audio+, Video+, Durable+, Protection+ and DIY+.
Specifications wise the board is relatively simple and that was to be expected. That doesn’t mean that the board can’t be very useful. As mentioned previously, the H110MD comes with an LGA 1151 socket for the latest Intel 6th generation CPUs while using a 5-phase power design and the H110 chipset. The board is entirely built with solid capacitors which should increase the overall life expectancy. Next to a Skylake CPU, you can add up to 16GB DDR3L-1600 memory in the two DIMM slots. Expansion wise you won’t find a lot, but the basics are covered with one PCI-e 3.0 x16 and two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, a Gigabit Ethernet connection powered by a Realtek chip, and four SATA3 ports.
The new BIOSTAR H110MD Pro motherboard has an MSRP of $54.99 and is expected to be available shortly. A simple board with solid features at a decent price, looks like it’s all a match.
BIOSTAR’s retail presence in the western market is rather small as stockists focus on the more recognizable vendors among consumers. Despite this, BIOSTAR is one of the leading Taiwanese global brands and produces a huge range of affordable hardware. Back in 2013, the company launched the first motherboard with an integrated Wireless LAN module which shows their commitment to innovation. Granted, BIOSTAR’s aesthetic design is an acquired taste and I strongly believe this is an area which needs fine tuning especially if they want to appeal to enthusiasts. While some users don’t really care about a motherboard’s appearance, it’s becoming quite common for system builders to have colour coordinated builds. Nevertheless, it’s always fascinating to test any BIOSTAR product and determine how well it stacks up against the competition.
As its name suggests, the BIOSTAR GAMING H170T is built on Intel’s H170 chipset, which supports the latest Skylake processors. Unlike the more expensive Z170 platform, overclocking is theoretically disabled on H170. However, BCLK overclocking is possible on H170 motherboards with the correct BIOS and even allows non-K CPUs to reach an impressive frequency boost. On another note, it’s essential to check every H170 motherboard’s specification as some models opt for DDR3L compatibility while others use DDR4 DIMMs up to 2133MHz. This particular example caters to the lower-end audience and features a maximum capacity of 32GB DDR3 memory, dual Gigabit LAN, 32Gb/s M.2 connector, and Realtek ALC892 audio codec. As a result, the GAMING H170T offers an attractive package for the budget-conscience user and I expect it to master the price to performance ratio.
Packing and Accessories
The motherboard comes in an attractive box which clearly displays the model name on a leatherette background. This evokes a premium feel and reminds me of the Logitech G27’s leather rim. The overall design is understated but striking enough to appeal to the gaming clientèle.
On the rear, there is a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s connectivity options, power phases and other essential features. Furthermore, graphical diagrams are used to explain the benefits of high-end components such 10K rated capacitors and durable ferrite chokes.
In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a basic guide to use the Smart Ear 3D Utility, product catalogue and user’s manual. Unlike many booklets these days, the product catalogue is in colour which encourages the end-user to browse BIOSTAR’s extensive product range.
Other additions include a driver disk, I/O shield, SATA cables, and M.2 screws.
Zotac is pretty much the inventor of mini PCs as we know them and the ZBOX style is probably their most known series. The newest member of the ZBOX family is Skylake based and called the ZBOX MI551.
The MI551 is equipped with an Intel Core i5-6400T quad-core processor that runs at a core speed of 2.2GHz and has a boost speed of up to 2.8GHz. The system allows for up to 16GB RAM to be installed in the two DDR3L-1600 SODIMM slots, so no DDR4 in this system.
The ZOTAC ZBOX MI551 uses the CPU built-in GPU in the form of an Intel HD Graphics 530 that supports the two DisplayPort connections for up to 4K UHD at 60Hz and the HDMI port with UHD resolutions at up to 24Hz in multi-screen mode and 60Hz with just one panel. So this tiny system is fully 4K ready.
Internally it has room for one 2.5-inch SATA SSD or HDD as well as one M.2 SATA SSD (42, 60, or 80mm length) and externally it features a combined card reader and USB 3.1 combo port for easy readout of memory cards.
Other than the previously mentioned connections you get stereo jacks for microphone and headphones, one USB 3.1 Type-C, two USB 3.0, one USB B2.0 and two Gigabit Ethernet connections. The MI551 also features a built-in 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless card with external antenna.
There is an optional Plus model available as there usually is with the ZBOX systems where you, in this case, get 4GB memory and a 120GB M.2 SATA SSD pre-installed for out-of-the-box usage.
Skylake has quickly become the go-to platform for builders since its launch, but for some there’s the issue with memory, or rather an issue of the users wanting to upgrade their memory. DDR4 is upon us and while the current costs of DDR4 are about the same as DDR3, some users don’t wish to upgrade that part yet. BIOSTAR’s latest motherboard release is for just those people as it is one of them that support both DDR3 and DDR4 memory.
The new motherboard is the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z170Z5 and as the name suggests, it’s based on the Z170 chipset and comes with BIOSTAR’s enhanced audio features. You can use either dual-channel DDR3L 1333/1600MHz memory or dual channel DDR4 1866/2133MHz memory, but not both at the same time. It does however allow for a more seamless upgrade off individual parts along your upgrade way.
The motherboard is ATX sized and provides both modern and legacy connection types in a somewhat weird combination for these days. There are only two PCI-E x16 3.0 slots where one runs at x16 speed and one at x4 speed. There is also a single PCI-E x1 3.0 slot. The somewhat weird thing is the inclusion of three legacy PCI slots.
As the Hi-Fi branding and the heatsink layout suggests, this motherboard’s main features are the audio specific ones. The Hi-Fi Z170Z5 features Blu-Ray audio and built-in amplifier. The audio components use an independent power delivery system for significant reduction in electronic noise and good sound quality. BIOSTAR also included their SmartSpeedLAN software that’s essentially a QoS that prioritizes the traffic you want. Charge Booster allows you to charge mobile devices faster and you can remote control the system via BIO-Remote2 for Android and Apple devices, and much more.
BIOSTAR didn’t reveal a price at this time, but the Hi-Fi Z170Z5 should be available very soon and then we’ll find out. It should however be one of the cheaper boards judging from the feature list and available connections.
QNAP created their TS-251 Turbo NAS as a great high-performance solution for home users as well as small and medium-sized offices, and today I’m taking a closer look at what it has to offer and how well it performs in our testing area.
The TS-251 provides a high performance and high-capacity storage solution thanks to a great combination of QNAP’s advanced QTS operating system and some great hardware. It is an easy-to-use yet powerful NAS for data backup, file synchronization, remote access, home entertainment, and it is also ideal for users to build a personal cloud where they can access their data easily and secure, outside of the prying eyes of strangers and commercial hosting solutions.
The QNAP TS-251 is built with an Intel Celeron 2.41GHz dual-core processor that has a burst speed up to 2.58GHz. It comes with two DDR3L memory slots and is available in two models, one with 1GB RAM and the one I’m taking a look at today with 4GB DDR3L RAM in two 2GB modules. The TS-251 has 512 DOM storage for the system itself and comes with two hot-swappable trays.
Users of the TS-251 Turbo NAS get two Intel-powered Gigabit RJ45 Ethernet ports that support trunking and link aggregation. There is one USB 3.0 port on the front together with the One-Touch copy button and another USB 3.0 on the rear. You will also find two USB 2.0 ports there. The rear USB 3.0 port is excellent for expanding the capacity of the NAS with up to 8 more drives, making this a great starter NAS that can be expanded at a later time, should you need it. QNAP has the UX-500P and UX-800P expansion units that respectively provide 5 and 8 extra drive bays. They connect to the NAS through a single USB 3.0 cable, making it real easy to set up. That effectively means that you can have up to 60TB raw storage with a complete set of 6TB drives and the TS-251.
The two USB 2.0 ports are perfect for USB printers, pen drives, and USB UPS connection as well as for keyboard and mouse when you’re using the HD Station. This is also where the HDMI port comes into play, as you can hook the TS-251 directly up to a monitor and use it for direct media playback of 1080p videos with 7.1 channel surround sound as well as run virtualization systems.
The powerful Intel x86 processor in the TS-251 can transcode Full HD videos on-the-fly as well as offline, allowing you to play them smoothly on both PCs and smart devices. It allows for up to 5 devices to simultaneously view different videos stored on the TS-251 with on-the-fly hardware accelerated transcoding. Even devices that lack the computing power or have limited file format support will have a great experience and it doesn’t require any complicated and time-consuming file conversions done by yourself.
You can easily stream to all your devices whether they are Smart TVs, PlayStation, or Xbox systems as well as Hi-Fi systems that support streaming. Mobile devices, both Android and iOS, are supported and so is Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google TV. Plex Media server is also included which is one of the most popular ways to manage streaming content.
For the perfect media experience, you might also want to invest in the optional media remote. The TS-251 features an IR receiver and works like a charm with the QNAP RM-IR002 remote control as well as MCE remote controls. You can also turn your mobile devices into remote controls by installing the Qremote app. All in all, you’re covered when it comes to media features on the TS-251.
You can easily turn the QNAP TS-251 Turbo NAS into your own personal cloud solution thanks the myQNAPcloud. It provides an always-connected infrastructure for everyone, and all without complicated setups and extra services such as static IPs, redirects, and DNS setups. A few simple steps to register your NAS and it’s ready.
Constant synchronization is a breeze with Qsync where any file uploaded to the TS-251 will be made available for all linked devices, such as computers, laptops, and mobile devices. Qsync is especially useful for frequent travelers in managing files and ensuring that different devices have the most up-to-date files with great flexibility.
The TS-251 also offers various data recovery options such as Real-Time Remote Replication (RTRR) for real-time and scheduled data backup to remote Turbo NAS or FTP servers as well as synchronization of files to remote folders from local folders. The rsync protocol is also supported and it is a very popular and simple method to backup data to remote servers on a scheduled basis. Commercial and public cloud services are also supported for both backup and restoration from providers such as Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure, ElephantDrive, Dropbox, and Google Cloud Storage.
Local backup is just as important and in many cases it is the main reason that people invest in an NAS. The TS-251 can do that thanks to QNAP’s NetBak Replicator that supports real-time and scheduled data backup on Windows, including Outlook email archiving. Mac OS X users can use Apple Time Machine for effortless backup, and both types of users can use the USB 3.0 port and one-touch backup button on the front to backup that external storage to the NAS. A wide range of third-party backup software such as Acronis True Image and Symantec Backup Exec are also supported.
I’ve previously mentioned the direct usage functionality of the TS-251 thanks to the USB and HDMI ports, and that all comes together thanks to QNAP’s exclusive QvPC Technology. It allows you to use the NAS directly as a PC with direct access to stored data, the ability to run multiple applications using Windows/Linux/UNIX/Android-based VMs, surf the web on Google Chrome, or enjoy Full HD videos with up to 7.1 channel audio via Kodi.
The Virtualization Station is another feature we get thanks to the QvPC technology and it transforms the TS-251 into a virtualization platform supporting multiple operating systems, fast virtual machine creation, virtual machine import/export, snapshot, and that enables desktop operations on web browsers. With the easy-to-use interface, you can centrally manage all of the virtual machines created on the TS-251 with minimal effort. You can also download VMs on demand from online VM markets and import them to TS-251 without any complex procedure. This feature requires at least 2GB of RAM, so the 1GB model is out of the running here. Thankfully I’ve got the 4GB model here. As previously mentioned, you can also upgrade the memory in the TS-251 at any point with standard SO-DIMM DDR3 modules.
The TS-251 can also be used as Surveillance Station and you can monitor this directly via the HDMI output in real-time with local display, and much more. Surveillance Station offers a professional surveillance solution with a user-friendly management interface, over 2,600 compatible IP cameras, and expandable IP camera channel licenses. Next to real-time monitoring it also supports video and audio recording as well as playback with a wide range of customizable settings. There are also Android and iOS apps available for this.
Downloading files can also be done directly by the NAS thanks to the download center. The new and improved Download center in QTS 4.2 means that the old QGet tool isn’t needed anymore and QNAP has ceased the support for this. The Download Station can download BT, Magnet, PT (Private Trackers), eMule, FTP, and HTTP, and all without the need to have a PC running. You can also install HappyGet app to back up abundant online videos to your TS-251.
QNAP NAS’ offer so much, it is tough to mention it all. In short, it does pretty much everything. There are a few things more worth highlighting such as the Signage Station that lets you creatively present your animated content such as personal animated resumes or life memory books. You get the Notes Station that gives you a private and secure way to share and collaborate on digital notes and Qsirch is probably the most efficient way to search for content on your NAS, it’s quick and effective, and it searches your content intelligently.
You also get the Photo Station and Music Station that help you share the photos and media you want while keeping other things private and limit the availability. Connect and stream internet radio, favorite songs from iTunes server and much more. The TS-251 can do it all.
Packaging and Accessories
The front of the packaging displays the NAS unit itself and the area of operation, in this case, High-Performance Home users and Small offices. Some of the main features are also presented right on the front and it is an overall great looking design. It’s simple, but not boring.
A personal cloud setup is getting more and more relevant as we are getting used to being connected everywhere we go. The rear of the box displays that and shows some of the ways that you can utilize that.
The two sides provide even more information, without being too cluttered. Overall a great package design from QNAP on the TS-251; I like it.
Inside the box, you’ll find a power supply and power cable from the region where it was bought, in this case, a UK power cable. There are two LAN cables so you can use both LAN ports right away as well as screws for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives. Two small manuals help you getting started, setting it up and connecting it for the first time.
Linksys already had a pretty impressive router in their WRT1900AC router and now they are ready with an upgrade to that model called the WRT1900ACS. The router keeps the same design and shape, but Linksys gave the hardware inside an impressive update.
The CPU is now a 1.6GHz Marvell dual-core chip where the old model only had a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. The RAM was doubled from the previous model and the new WRT1900ACS features 512MB DDR3 RAM as well as 120MBB flash memory for the firmware.
The WRT1900ACS is fully OpenWRT compatible, allowing you to customize the firmware to your liking, that is if you don’t like the one that it’s already shipping with. With more CPU power, more RAM, and more storage space, you got even more possibilities to create the perfect router setup for yourself.
The rest of the features stay the same. You get four external high-performance antennas with beamforming technology, a USB 3.0 port for storage and a combined USB 2.0 and eSATA port for printers, storage, and other legacy devices. There are four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port for the wired connections while the wireless part can perform with up to 1300Gbps on the 5GHz and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
“We just made the best performing Linksys AC1900 router even better,” said Mike Chen, vice president product management and engineering for Linksys. “We are committed to making the Linksys WRT lineup the most advanced and best-in-class router line for the prosumer so they can get more out of the network they use in their home and office environment. We improved on the original WRT1900AC because we were able to incorporate better components such as a faster processor to make the router perform at higher clock speeds and providing more RAM for advanced users. Adding more memory enables our customers to build more off the open source platform as well as enabling us to provide more enhancements in firmware as we innovate and create more features.”
Overclockers UK is an established player in the hardware retail sector and provides a stellar customer service through approachable team members and impeccable communication on the site’s official forum. The company’s highly adept team of engineers produces a wide array of custom PC builds to suit varying budgets and contrasting tastes. OCUK decided to send the Evolution Envy Mini Gaming PC for review purposes which features a substantial upgrade compared to the basic model.
This particular configuration includes an Intel Core i7-4970K, 8GB DDR3 2400 MHz RAM, NVIDIA GTX 970, MSI Z97I AC ITX motherboard, 120GB Samsung SSD boot drive, 1TB Samsung SSD data drive and ultra-reliable SuperFlower HX 550W 80+ gold power supply. The CPU has been manually overclocked to a frequency of 4.5 GHz and remains relatively cool due to an Asetek-designed-240mm closed-looped-liquid cooler. OCUK combined this wonderful array of components in a portable form-factor which makes it the perfect LAN event PC. Although, it will be fascinating to determine if the restricted space causes any issues during stressful benchmarks.
Name: Overclockers UK Evolution Envy Mini Gaming PC
Case: Phanteks Evolv ITX Windowed Gaming Case – Black
Motherboard: MSI Z97I AC (Socket 1150) ITX Motherboard
Power Supply: SuperFlower HX 550W 80+ Gold Rated PSU
Optical Drive: None
Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260
OS: Windows 10 64-Bit
Warranty: 3 Year (24 Month Collect and Return plus 12 Month labour) Mainland UK and Ireland Only
Packing and Accessories
The Evolution Envy Mini comes in a surprisingly large box given the chassis size which contains two thick cardboard layers held together by banded wires. This ensures the package remains protected during transit as it’s virtually impossible for the box or its contents to become dislodged.
Once the cardboard layers have been removed, we can see the main chassis alongside strong, protective foam. OCUK also employed durable side supports to enhance the box’s net weight and increase the packaging’s stability. Please note, the retail version is complete with component boxes but this isn’t included on press samples as the packaging is easily lost among other samples.
On another note, the system is bundled with a comprehensive setup guide and tasty selection of Haribo sweets. The setup manual is excellent and explains in clear, concise English how to attach your peripherals. It also gives an indication about fault checking and advises when to contact customer support.
Here we can see the main chassis box which provides a good amount of padding to reduce impact during shipping. Thankfully, OCUK’s attentive approach with the outer packaging kept the chassis cosmetically and mechanically sound. In theory, they could have got away with just sending the item in a chassis box, but avoided this due to damage concerns.
The chassis box contains a precautionary message informing you to retain the packaging for RMA purposes. This is very clear, and in bold writing so it’s impossible to throw away the original packaging without prior notice of OCUK’s return procedure.
After the top seal has been broken, we can see the tightly packed case which features two supporting foam blocks and a large cover. I didn’t encounter any rips on the cover whatsoever which signifies the chassis was well protected and didn’t fall victim to any cosmetic marks.
The foam supports are surprisingly thick for an ITX-size case and constructed from remarkably strong material. As a result, I found it difficult to bend or snap the supports despite applying a significant amount of force. This means, the chassis withstands a lot of punishment and offers enough protection against even the most heavy-handed couriers.
When Intel’s new Skylake processors was announced, the chipmaker said that it would offer limited support for DDR3 RAM. It now seems that not only is that support limited to DDR3L, but that using DDR3 RAM at its default voltage could actually damage Skylake chips.
According to Intel, Skylake’s integrated memory controller (IMC) officially supports DDR3L at 1.35V and DDR4 at 1.2V. Any DDR3 RAM running at a voltage higher than 1.35 could torch the IMC and render the processor inoperable after prolonged exposure.
It does beg the question as to why OEMs like Gigabyte, Asus, and ASRock support DDR3 at 1.5V and 1.65V, respectively? While it won’t damage the board, it will most like affect the chip. Given the option, it seems sensible to opt for the more expensive DDR4.
We also now know that the Skylake IMC can support clock speeds of up to 4,133MHz. The new DDR4 RAM standard currently runs at between 2,133MHz and 3,000MHz, but some RAM kits are already pushing beyond that, with some reaching 4,233MHz. RAM with clock speeds above 4,133MHz is more likely to see errors with Skylake, so until we see Cannonlake or a Skylake Refresh, it’s worth keeping an eye on your RAM’s clock speed.
So far we have mostly been hearing about the Z170 based motherboards for Intel’s 6th generation Core processors, but that isn’t the only platform available for Skylake. There are also the H170, B150, and H110 chipsets available and MSI just revealed their trio based on the H110 chipset.
The three new motherboards are the H110M PRO-VVH, H110M PRO-VD, and H110M PRO-D. The new micro ATX sized motherboards are available in both DDR4 or DDR3 low voltage DRAM solutions and they naturally come with Windows 10 WHQL certification.
MSI also added the unique DDR4 Boost technology that is designed with optimized traces and fully isolated memory circuitry. This design ensures the memory signals stay pure for optimal performance and stability. MSI M-Cloud is another included feature that provides a convenient and secure way of saving personal files in the cloud without complicated settings.
The motherboards are built with Military Class 4 components that ensure stability under extreme conditions as well as ECO Power that improves the efficiency. EZ Debug LED, overvoltage protection, and VGA Armor are also part of the deal and so is the Audio Boost for great sound quality.
With a budget solution like these, over the more extreme enthusiast models in the Z170 series, many people will opt to run them on the iGPU instead of adding a dedicated graphics card. The new PRO series supports both legacy monitors here via DVI and D-Sub, but also crisp clear 4K UHD with HDMI and DP connectors.
Every time there has been a change to a new DDR standard, motherboard manufacturers have often retained some models that continue to use the older ram specification. This time around, we’re getting a number of boards with dual support, being compatible with both DDR3 and DDR4. Today ASRock has quietly launched their B150M Combo-G motherboard with support for both DDR3/3L and DDR4 ram with Intel’s latest Skylake LGA1551 platform.
Based off the budget B150 chipset, the mATX board boats all of the usual modern features. Despite not being an overclocking board, there are six digital phases for power along with high-quality solid state inductors. Gigabit LAN is provided via an Intel chip while audio is provided by a Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec with ELNA capacitors. For expansion cards, 2 PCIe x16 slots are provided but the 2nd one comes from the chipset. Rounding off the features, we have up to 6 USB 3.0 ports along with full electrical surge protection.
Along with the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170Z3, the B150M Combo-G will be one of the better choices for those hoping to retain their DDR3 ram. As noted earlier, both 1.5v and 1.65v DDR3 should work with Skylake just fine and having DDR4 support as well means that a future upgrade to newer ram is possible. Unfortunately, both DDR3 and DDR4 cannot work at the same time and that is unlikely to change.
Budget shoppers looking for the best bang per buck will soon have more options opened up to them. According to ASUS, Skylake CPUs and their accompanying Z170 and other 100 series motherboards can support DRR3 running at 1.5 or 1.65 volts. There has been some confusion as to whether or not DDR3 would work as Intel has only talked about DDR4 and DDR3L which use 1.2v and 1.35v respectively.
For those on a budget, it means they will be able to reuse their DDR3 with the new lineup. This means with the right motherboards, budget users can avoid shelling out an extra $80+ for new DDR4 ram. Given that DDR3 performs better with Skylake unless you have high-speed and low-latency DDR4, there isn’t much performance left on the table by not using the newer ram. DDR4 also still costs a bit more than DDR3 for similar speeds, capacity and latency.
For those that might consider upgrading to DDR4 though and want a motherboard to support that, there are some options. The most notable one is the Hi-Fi H170Z3 from Biostar which has 2 DDR4 and 2 DDR3 slots. Given that DDR4 supports 16GB DIMMs, it’s possible to put up to 16GB of DDR3 in now and later upgrade to a max of 32GB of high-speed low-latency DDR4 ram. Hopefully, there will be more boards from other firms for dual DDR3/DDR4 support.
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. DDR3 is an aging technology now, but it is still the most used memory standard in circulation. DDR3 is a solid memory standard, offering good performance with relatively low costs when compared to the older DDR2 and newer DDR4 memory kits. With the next introduction of Intel processors and motherboards, they will offer compatibility of DDR4; which means we could start seeing the demise of DDR3 in the consumer market. That will be a long way off yet as all apart from Z170 will still feature DDR3.
Today we will be looking at the newly introduced KLEVV Neo memory kit. KLEVV has already been released in other parts of the world and has made big waves. The Neo range could be considered as the ‘mainstream’ range for what KLEVV has to offer, although do not let this put you off; it still comes equipped with one of the nicest heatsinks I have ever seen and some very good specifications.
Essencore is the parent company of KLEVV and has strong ties with memory chip company SK Hynix. This allows KLEVV to utilise some of the highest quality memory components available in the world.
“Being reduced to its necessary elements, KLEVV Neo DDR3 Memory distinctly proves the motto “less is better” by its extreme performance with minimalistic design. By adopting select Memory ICs and severe test procedures, the pliable performance brings you the essentials to conquer the world.”
That’s enough talking, let’s jump into testing!
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging on these is top class, solid outer casing with individual pockets for each module ensures the product gets to you in working order; well in most normal cases anyway.
A Closer Look
Much like the KLEVV CRAS memory kits, these are set to impress. Featuring a more conventional two-part heat sink design with an embossed pattern and extraordinary build quality.
Transcend might not be the first brand you think off when you look for memory modules, but they shouldn’t be forgotten. Something that speaks for that alone is that you’ll find Transcend memory modules in most NAS devices that use modules. Now Transcend announced another family member to their already long list of memory modules, the new 1600 Mhz U-DIMMs and SO-DIMMS with 16GB capacity and running on a low 1.35 voltage design thanks to the 1Gbx8 DRAM chips used.
The 1Gbx8 chips used help to maximize the memory capacity and optimize the use of rank number and space. The low voltage for DDR3 modules of 1.35V can help to reduce the power consumption with up to 20% compared to standard 1.5V. Maybe not something that makes the big different for a casual PC usage, but it will make a difference on large deployment and 24/7 running systems. It also helps to reduce the heat and thereby cooling needed.
The new modules are fully JEDEC compliant and undergo strenuous 64-bit kernel, single and multi-core testing to ensure that the quality is top and they carry the same Limited Lifetime Warranty that all Transcend modules do.
The 16GB DDR3L 1600 U-DIMM module has the part number TS2GLK64W6Q and the SO-DIMM module has the part number TS2GSK64W6Q. There was no word on pricing or availability yet.
DDR4 memory has been on the market for some time now and up until recently it had one major problem – the price. The DDR4 memory prices were also the only reason that I went with a Z97 instead of an X99 rig when I last upgraded. That has however changed slightly in the background and without many people noticing it.
If you don’t care about the brand name or looks and enter a price comparison site, you’ll notice that there barely is any difference between DDR3 and DDR4 memory. A search on a 2133MHz memory kit consisting of two modules and a total capacity of 16GB brings some surprising results.
The cheapest DDR4 kit is a Crucial 16GB kit (CT2K8G4DFD8213/CT2C8G4DFD8213) that only costs €109.95, or €6.872 per GB. Looking at DDR3 memory, the cheapest kit is a G.Skill Ares kit (F3-2133C10D-16GAB) for €104.30, or €6.519 per GB. That is a very small difference and granted these are two different types of modules, but it paints a great image of the trend that is going on.
And it could very well be thanks to Samsung that we see this trend, as DigiTimes reports that sources tell them that Samsung is slashing their prices in order to gain market share. This is great news for us as consumers, but it does set its marks in the industry.
There is less profit for companies in producing DDR4 memory chips and module vendors have started to suffer as a result of this. Allegedly, OEMs have started to purchase their chips directly from manufacturers, cutting vendors out of the loop with demands of reduction in quotes. Adopting the 20nm process also brought along more costs and issues than anticipated and Intel’s delay of Skylake is also hurting the companies.
So we might soon be living in a world where DDR4 memory not only is price equivalent to DDR3, but one where it’s actually cheaper.
Thank you DigiTimes for providing us with this information
Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.
RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v
SSD:User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
GPU: Integrated – Intel® HD Graphics 5500
LAN: Realtek RTL8111G10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
Warranty: 1 Year
Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.
Computex 2015 – Kingston wasn’t just inside Computex, they also had a HyperX pop-up shop outside. With a small shop and a stage, HyperX was ready to showcase their amazing high-performance storage and peripherals.
On display were the latest HyperX memory modules, solid state drives, and let us not forget the great headsets that they make. There were also several beautiful modded systems running and they were of course equipped with HyperX memory and storage drives.
Virtual reality is the next big thing and HyperX had a system setup to try it out. The beautiful system had a Gear VR system connected for the demonstration and to let people experience the new thing.
The Savage SSD is an amazing little drive. It is still based around the SATA3 interface, but it takes it to the limit as you might have seen in our previously released review on the drive.
The two modded systems on display were both running with Kingston HyperX Predator DDR4 memory
InWin cases are amazing when it comes to show off the hardware inside. They might not be so photo friendly thanks to the glass, but they look amazing. We can also spot the Predator M.2 SSD in the system that easily performs with 1400MB/s and beyond.
Computex 2015: We’ve seen lots of cool stuff at the show this week, but one thing that really caught our attention, was the latest motherboards from Biostar. Their new Micro-ATX boards, the Hi-Fi H170Z3 is based on the H170 Express chipset, which offers up all the same features you’ll find on the Z170 chipset, minus the overclocking and multi GPU support. What is interesting however, is that the board has both DDR3 and DDR4 memory slots! Allowing you to use two or either at any one time, but not at the same time. The board will allow 16GB of DDR 1600 or 32GB of DDR4 2133 memory.
Another LGA1151 socket board, which again features the same dual DDR3/DDR4 memory configuration, but runs on the B150 Express chipset, offering more than enough features for a single GPU gaming system and features Biostar’s Hi-Fi 6-channel audio.
There’s lot of new motherboards coming this year and Biostar will no doubt have a lot more for us to show you, so stay tuned for more updates.
Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.
RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v
SSD:User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
GPU: Integrated –Intel HD Graphics
LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
Warranty: 1 Year
Printed materials that the CI321 comes with
The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.
GALAX is well-known for their graphics cards and recently they also ventured into the space of storage with their new Gamer SSDs. This time GALAX is reaching into the memory department and release a new set of DDR3 memory modules in the Hall Of Fame (HOF) series.
The new memory modules feature a huge heatsink with aluminium fins (1.5mm thickness unilateral and 3mm bilateral). They modules are hardened against corrosion, anodised, sandblasted, and look great.
The new memory modules are released as 2400MHz kits in either single 4GB or 8GB dual-channel kits, coming with timings of 11-13-13-30.
This memory chips are made by SKhynix and are well-known and liked by enthusiasts for their reliability and performance and easily clock up to 2600-2933MHz.
A high-end computer part needs LEDs these days, for some reason. So GALAX also added LED strips on the top of the heat spreaders to light it up.
It doesn’t look bad tho with the lighting and I could see this look good in many systems and mods.
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.
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.
EVGA wasn’t happy with just producing high-end PSUs, motherboards, and graphics cards, they want more. The next region they are venturing into is the realm of memory with the launch of their Superclocked and Super Superclocked high-performance DDR3 and DDR4 memory modules.
The new EVGA SC and SCC are built with both black PCB and black heat spreaders, something I’m sure a lot of our readers like. The complete black design allows for a great contrast or simplistic setup in your system.
There are two sad moments in this news, the first being the phrase “unbeatable combination of price and performance”. That usually means that we won’t see any speed barriers broken and the specifications confirm that.
The DDR3 SC and SCC kits come as dual-channel kits of two pieces with either 4GB or 8GB modules and speed ratings from 1600MHz to 2400MHz. The DDR4 modules don’t go all the way either with just two quad-channel 16GB kits with either 2666MHz or 2800MHz clock rate.
The second sad news is that these modules are exclusively available at Micro Center in the US, at least for now.
The cool thing is that you now are able to build a system almost exclusively with EVGA components. Power supplies, motherboards, graphics cards, and peripherals were already available, and now the RAM modules were added. Now they just need to create their own SSDs and the setup is complete, flash drives are already available so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.