G.Skill Announces Ripjaws DDR4-3000MHz 16GB 1.2V SO-DIMMs

DDR4 memory has come a long way since its introduction, but notebook and compact-system users haven’t been able to find as many choices when it comes to SO-DIMMs as the more traditional DIMM form factor. G.Skill is changing that and they’ve released yet another impressive module in this series. The new Ripjaws DDR4 modules can achieve 3000MHz at CL16 timings and they do so at a lower power consumption than other modules.

While DDR4 modules consume less power than DDR3 did, running them at such high speeds as 3000MHz usually requires modules to require 1.35V to perform at these speeds. But not these new Ripjaws modules, these modules will perform these speeds at just 1.2V and support the latest XMP 2.0 standard designed for 6th Gen Intel Core processors.

The new modules will be available in four different kits with either 8GB or 16GB modules and in packs with either one or two modules. Having SO-DIMMs that run with CL 16-18-18-43 timings at 3000MHz is already nice, but having them do so at just 1.2V is even more impressive. Adding that extra power and up to 32GB memory to compact systems is suddenly looking a lot easier.

Should your interest have been woken now, then there is some good news. You don’t have to wait very long to get the new G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-3000MHz SO-DIMM modules as they will be available this month, April 20166, at authorized distributing partners. G.Skill did not reveal any pricing at this point, but we can assume that we’ll need to pay a fair price for such impressive and tiny memory modules.

Do you have any systems that would benefit from SO-DIMMs in this capacity, and if, would you upgrade to get that extra memory performance or are you happy with the more default 2133 to 2400MHz DDR4 memory speeds? Let us know in the comments.

QNAP Launches TDS-16489U Dual Xeon E5 Double Server

QNAP’s newest server, the TDS-16489U, is an amazing one that sets itself apart from the rest in so many ways. I want one so badly even though I have absolutely no need for this kind of power. This must be how a normal person feels when they see a Bugatti Veyron. But let us get back to the new QNAP dual server.

The TDS-16489U is a powerful dual server that’s both an application server and storage server baked into on chassis for simplicity and effectiveness. It is powered by two Intel Xeon E5 processors with 4, 6, or 8 cores each while supporting up to 1TB DDR4 2133 MHz memory with its 16 DIMM slots. These are already some impressive specs, but this is just where the fun begins.

The dual server has 16 front-accessible drive bays for 3.5-inch storage drives as well four rear-facing 2.5-inch drive bays for SSD cache. Should this not be enough, then you can expand that further by use of NVMe based PCI-Express SSDs too. The system has three SAS 12 Gb/s controllers built-in to couple it all together.

There are just as many connection options as there are storage options in the TDS-16489U. It comes with two normal Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as four SFP+ 10Gbps ports powered by an Intel XL710. Should that not be enough, then you can use the PCI-Express slots to expand with further NICs of your choice. The system supports the use of 40 Gbps cards too. It also comes with a dedicated IPMI connection besides the normal networking. The PCI-Express x16 Gen.3 slots can also be used with AMD R7 or R9 graphics cards for GPU passthrough to virtualization applications. A true one-device solution for applications, storage, and virtualization.

The TDS-16489U combines outstanding virtualization and storage technologies as an all-around dual server. With Virtualization Station and Container Station, computation and data from the guest OS and apps can be directly stored on the TDS-16489U through the internal 12Gb/s SAS interface. Coupled with Double-Take Availability to provide comprehensive high availability and disaster recovery, backup virtual machines can support failover for the primary systems on the TDS-16489U whenever needed to enable data protection and continuous services. QNAP Virtualization Station is a virtualization platform based on KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) infrastructure. By sharing the Linux kernel, GPU passthrough, virtual switches, VM import/export, snapshot, backup & restoration, SSD cache acceleration and tiered storage.

“Software frameworks for Big Data management and analysis like Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark can be easily operated on the TDS-16489U using virtual machines or containerized apps, and with Qtier Technology for Auto Tiering the TDS-16489U empowers Big Data computing and provides efficient storage in one box to help businesses gain further insights, opportunities and values,” said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP.

With all the above, we shouldn’t forget that it still also runs QNAP’s QTS 4.2 operating system that provides everything you know and love from that. Included is the comprehensive virtualization applications that we’ve also seen on our consumer models, but this is where you truly can take advantage of what QNAP created and run multiple Windows, Linux, Unix, and Android-based virtual machines on your NAS. All the backup solutions and failover, from local to other NAS or the cloud. You can do it all. Share files to basically any device anywhere is made as easy as possible.

Should you still not have enough storage in this impressive unit, then you can expand with up to 8 of the QNAP enclosures and reach a seriously impressive 1152 TB raw storage capacity controlled by this single 3U server unit. The CPU power, dual system capabilities, virtualization options and impressive storage option will let you deploy an impressive system with a very tiny size and total cost of ownership compared to traditional setups.

Key Specifications

  • 16-bay, 3U rackmount unit
  • 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Family processor (with 4-core, 6-core and 8-core configurations)
  • 64GB~1TB DDR4 2133MHz RDIMM/LRDIMM RAM (16 DIMM)
  • 4 x SFP+ 10GbE ports
  • hot-swappable 16 x 3.5″ SAS (12Gbps/6Gbps)/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) HDD or 2.5″ SAS/SATA SSD, and 4 x
  • 2.5″ SAS (12Gbps) SSD or SAS/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) SSD;
  • 4 x PCle slots;
  • 4 x USB 3.0 port

The new QNAP TDS-16489U dual-server is now available.

QNAP Added Netflix Support to TAS-x68 Dual-Systems

QNAP released their new innovative dual QTS and Android-based NAS a little while ago now they’ve improved more upon it with the addition of Netflix support. Android has grown into on of the largest app platform that can run on a lot of different types of hardware, including NAS servers. The QNAP TAS-168/268 uses this to its advantage and it is the first Android-based NAS that supports Netflix. Users can now simply download the free Netflix app from Google Play and get all the benefits from streaming service directly on their TV or monitor.

Users will simply need to connect their TAS-168/268 NAS to an HDMI display and they’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of this dual-system. Enjoy the numerous programs and multimedia content on Netflix with a smooth and convenient streaming experience. You can also attach a keyboard and mouse to directly to the NAS besides using the included remote control to take control of the playback.

“Netflix is one of the most popular Internet video streaming services in the world, and we are pleased to announce that it is compatible with our Android-based TAS-168/268 NAS.” said Hanz Sung, Product Manager of QNAP, “with the addition of Netflix, TAS-168/268 users can further maximize their home entertainment options by streaming their favorite movies and TV shows to a big screen in their living room.”

The QNAP TAS-168/268 are powered by an ARM v7 dual-core processor and come with 2GB DDR3 RAM. It is officially certificated by Google and Netflix isn’t the only available multimedia app. With access to the entire Google Play library, you got nearly endless possibilities in games and applications. There is no need to purchase an extra android TV box when your NAS already has these capabilities on top of terabytes of storage. The system can handle 4K (H.265 & H.264) HDMI output which makes it the optimal budget-friendly multimedia NAS that provides near-unlimited entertainment possibilities.

We will also have a full review ready for you shortly on the QNAP TAS-268, so stay tuned for more.

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X2 Could Launch Next Month!

It looks like AMD are cooking up a big product launch for December, one that could knock Nvidia into the stone age! The as yet un-named graphics card from the red team is currently not officially named, but let’s call this powerhouse the Fury X2 for conversations sake. We’ve already known about this card for a little while now, as Lisa Su was keen to show off a PCB that had not one, but two Fiji GPUs on board. The only problem is when, where and how much it will be, are still unknown.

AMD are to hold a special event in December, where it is believed the Fury X2 will be released. With no rumours pointing to a similar dual-GPU monster from the Nvidia camp, a dual Fiji and HBM equipped card could quickly put AMD back at the top of the GPU power food chain.

The first new teaser comes courtesy of Johan Andersson of DICE, always a reliable source for leaks as he previously teased the 295X2 and the R9 290X. Unfortunately for Johan and no doubt AMD, it seems his “pre-release GPU” had some leaks of its own.

Expect more information to follow quite quickly, as is often the case with leaks, there’s always more than one.

Icy Dock Announces ToughArmor MB992SKR-B Enclosure

We are living in a world where storage capacities grow while the physical size of the drives shrinks more and more, which makes space optimization a vital scenario for a lot of people and companies. Solid state drives mostly come in the 2.5-inch form factor and the mechanical hard disk drives in this category keep growing in available capacity too. With that in mind, it is great to see ICY DOCK announcing a new mobile rack that allows you to do that and more.

The new ToughArmor MB992SKR-B Enclosure can take two 2.5-inch drives and connect them to a single SATA3 connector while it only takes up a single 3.5-inch drive slot. It comes with built-in hardware RAID support for RAID 0 and RAID 1 as well as BIG where the capacity of the two installed drives is simply added to each other. While this isn’t the first enclosure to feature such a thing, it is one of the few that also allows you to present the drives individually to the system in the JBOD mode (Just a Bunch Of Disks).

Another really nice touch on the ToughArmor MB992SKR-B and one that’s often forgotten in this category is the front positioned rebuild LED that will let you know once the hardware has set up and initialized your RAID configuration.

The entire mobile rack is made of metal which helps with both the heat dissipation as well as the overall durability of the enclosure. Multi-Flow Technology (MFT) will effectively route air flow correctly for excellent passive cooling via ventilation slots on the front, rear, top, and bottom, providing an even better protection for your installed drives. Lastly, Anti-Vibration Technology and EMI Grounding are used to provide a stable environment, allowing the hard drives or SSD’s used to perform at their best.


ICY DOCK didn’t just name their series of enclosures ToughArmor for fun or because it sounds great, they named them that way because the really are tough. A clear demonstration of this is shown in the video below where they put them up against the full weight of a Lexus SUV.

ICY DOCK didn’t reveal any pricing or availability of the ToughArmor MB992SKR-B at this time, but you can check out the full specification chart below.

Key Features

  • Built-in hardware RAID controller allows four different configurations: RAID 0 (FAST), RAID 1 (SAFE), JBOD, & BIG.
  • Supports SATA 6Gbps and hot swap.
  • Removable tray system for easy maintenance.
  • Front LED indicator lights for drive power, access, fail and RAID 1 rebuilds status.
  • Full metal construction, perfect for rugged applications and complies with flammability requirements.
  • Fits 2 x 7mm to 9.5mm 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD in a 3.5” front device bay.
  • Multi-Flow Technology (MFT) – provides excellent passive cooling.
  • Anti-Vibration Technology (AVT) – creates a safe environment for hard drives or SSDs.
  • Active Power Technology (APT) – individual led only powers up if there is drive installed in each bay.
  • EMI Grounding – protects hard drives from electrical damage.
  • Eagle-hook lock system & 2-segment safeguard key lock keeps drives secure within the enclosure.
  • Single SATA 15 Pin to power entire device & single SATA connector to operate.
  • Suggested applications in medical & military systems, government agencies, Industrial PC, SMB workstation, VM workstation, mobile DVR system, aerospace computer, automation system and embedded system.
  • Limited 3-year warranty to complement the typical warranty of a hard drive.
  • Supports SATA and SATA power cables with locking latch design

SilverStone Announces ECM20 Dual M.2 PCIe Card

SilverStone released a new PCIe add-in card that brings a duality of M.2 support to your system, the ECM20. It can connect a PCIe based M.2 SSD via the PCIe x4 connector and at the same time it can connect a SATA based M.2 via the 6Gbps SATA connector on the rear of the board.

No need to worry if the adapter supports your M.2 SSD here, as it supports both kinds. The only difference is where you plug it in and connect it. You can also use both at the same time, so there is no trade-off either. The board is clearly labeled as to where what goes and the M-Key is used for the PCie based M.2 while the B-Key is used for the SATA based M.2 drive. There isn’t any need for extra power cables either, as the PCIe port can provide plenty of power for such two small NGFF drives.

The card is fully plug-and-play and doesn’t require any drivers to be installed. That simplifies the installation a lot and the Silverstone ECM20 also comes with a low-profile bracket for mounting it in smaller chassis types.

There shouldn’t be any compatibility issues due to module length either; We all know that M.2 drives come in a lot of different lengths. The 2280-type is probably the most common supported form factor, but the adapter also supports 2230, 2242, and 2260 modules.

 

ASMedia Demonstrates 750MB/s via USB 3.1

The USB 3.1 era is upon us and ASMedia were the first to become officially authorized by the USB-IF official organization. Up until now, USB 3.1 has been more a gimmick and a sales pitch than a useful product, there simply haven’t been any devices around that really could take advantage of what the new host controller and protocol can perform.

So we need a demonstration of what it can do, some real figures to work with instead of theoretical figures. We all know that USB theory doesn’t equal USB reality. During the Intel IDF 2015 we now got that demonstration from ASMedia. They had an MSI notebook and an ASUS USB 3.1 enclosure box connected to show what the host controller can do. The ASUS USB 3.1 enclosure box had two M.2 SSDs on the insides, making sure that there is enough performance to test the bus to the max. The USB 3.1 host controller also supports RAID on a hardware level, which is really nice.

And the result is pretty impressive for a USB connection. We see a sequential performance of up to 735MB/s and a sequential write performance up to 748 MB/s. The random QD32 4K performance isn’t without either and is something that the previous USB connections weren’t good at, not at all. Now we just have to wait for some actual drives to be released that take advantage of this, instead of the unimpressive USB 3.1 flash drives that don’t perform any better than a USB 3.0 does.

Thank You LegitReviews for providing us with this information

SilverStone Release New Redundant PSUs in the Gemini Series

One of the most critical components of your system is the power supply. When that fails, nothing runs and that is where redundant power supplies come into play. The second one will kick in if the first should fail or the other way around. SilverStone built upon the previous Gemini models and created the new GM400-S, GM500G, and GM600-G redundant power supplies in a convenient PS2 frame.

As the name suggests, the new Gemini units come with two times 400W, 500W, and 600W load capacity. The 400W model only has an 80 Plus Silver certification where the 500W and 600W models come with an 80 Plus Gold certification. By combining industrial grade components, higher efficiency design, and the inclusion of PMBus 1.2, these power supplies should provide a stable and secure 24/7 solution that will fit in about any chassis.

The units are designed to be hot-swappable and come with convenient pull-out handle bars. The entire range is using an Active PFC, but they won’t come as cheap as a normal power supply. That is pretty much a given, considering that you actually get two when purchasing one. The GM400-S 400W PSU comes with an MSRP of $549.45 price tag, the GM500-G with a $593.45 price tag, and the GM600-G with a $636.79 price tag, all without VAT. That is a hefty price, but it is worth it when needed and considering what you get.

Mushkin Redline and Blackline Ridgeback DDR4 Memory Now Available

Mushkin originally unveiled their DDR4 Ridgeback memory modules in the Blackline and Redline versions back at CES 2015 and now they’ve finally been released to the market and are available. The new modules are optimized for both the Intel X99 platform as well as the just released Skylake.

The Ridgeback heatsink is cut from aircraft-grade anodized aluminium that improves the heat dissipation that can give the user that extra bit of headroom or stability. The DDR4 modules are loaded with XMP 2.0 profiles for easy setup and reliable overclocking.

Muskin’s memory modules are built with hand-screened DRAM and undergo rigorous testing in the US-based facilities before leaving on route to shops and distributors before finally arriving in your home.

The new modules are currently available as single modules, dual kits, and four-piece kits with 8GB modules. The speed ranges from 2133MHz to 2400MHz with 12-12-12-35 and 15-15-15-35 timings. More versions with different capacities, module amount, and speeds are bound to come later on.

Both the red and black heat spreaders look so great that it’s almost a shame that Mushkin didn’t go for a black PCB on these modules. It could have given them that little bit of extra wow effect, but on the other hand, you won’t see much of it once they are plugged into your motherboard.

Boston Venom 3401-7T Workstation Review

Introduction


Although Boston may at first not be familiar to many, rest assured with a presence in America, UK, Germany and India this is a truly global company.  They supply one of the widest variety of business hardware available, from micro servers, blade servers, Quadro workstation and even green and cloud solutions. Today we will be looking at the Boston Venom 3401-7T, which is one of their flagship models of their Venom series, which has been designed for high-performance graphics, parallel processing and high-speed rendering. With this being one of our first enterprise workstation reviews we have a fresh selection of benchmarks which will help us push these high specification systems to their limits. We have a wide range including CPU, GPU, Memory and storage benchmarks which will help us collect some statistics which will help us find the cream of the crop of workstation rigs and at the same time provide our audience with informative concise results.

Although normally in reviews we don’t usually use descriptions that suppliers supply us with, with workstations often being targeted at a particular use or task and I feel that it makes sense for us to include a small description from Boston on what area the Venom is aimed at.

“The Boston Venom 3401-7T is designed to be the ultimate workstation for all design, VFX and digital content professionals.  The Venom 3401-7T is a workstation designed by Boston that brings together the often disjointed design and simulation processes into one package; dramatically increasing productivity and allowing engineers, designers and content creators to do more, faster, and with better results.”

So on that note, we have some high expectations going into this review!

Specifications

  • Name: Boston Venom 3401-7T
  • Case: Silverstone Fortress Series Case FT04 – Black
  • Motherboard: Supermicro X10DAX
  • Processor: Intel Xeon Processor E5-2687WV3 3.1GHz (Haswell) x 2 with 4% Overclock
  • Processor Cooler: Custom Dual Liquid Cooled Solution
  • System Memory: 8GB DDR4-2133 1Rx4 ECC REG DIMM (8x8GB Sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung 850 PRO 512GB SATAIII x 2 in RAID 0
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Western Digital SE 2TB SATA III – 6Gb/s Hard Drive 24×7 Enterprise Class x2 in RAID 1
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA Quadro K5200 Retail 8GB, 2304 CUDA Cores, PCE-E (x16) 256-bit, GDDR5 256-bit
  • Power Supply: Supermicro PS2 1200W Multi Output High Efficiency Power Supply
  • Optical Drive15X Internal Blu Ray Writer with SATA-OEM
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year return to base warranty with 1 year parts swapout (UK only)
  • Price: £9,118.87 inc VAT as configured Delivered.

We knew we were in for a treat when it came on its own pallet…

This system is extremely heavy, it was a 2 man job just to get it out the box!

The Silverstone Fortress FT04 (as reviewed here).  Don’t let it’s modest looks fool you, there is some of the fastest hardware money can buy tucked away in here!

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Enermax EMK3203 3.5″ Mobile RAID Rack with 2x 2.5″ Drive Bays Review

Introduction


Taking a RAID setup on the road can be a tricky thing and one that is destined to fail most of the time, unless you have a dedicated enclosure. When it has to be portable, it also has to be small, light, and universally usable and Enermax has created such a solution with the 3.5-inch to dual 2.5-inch SATA HDD converter with built-in hardware RAID.

The mobile rack has a default 3.5-inch HDD format with default connector placement and that makes it universally usable. You can just plug it directly into any SATA bay and your RAID setup is seen as a single virtual drive. It further has a hardware switch on the back to select either of the drive modes depending on what you need.

The rack has a solid build all the way around. The aluminium plate on the top helps the drives to dissipate heat faster while the bottom plate has ventilation cutouts to let the drives breath. Whether you use SATA or SAS drives, the EMK3203 supports it all.

Gold plated SATA connectors ensure a perfect connection and prevent corrosion. The EMK3203 utilizes the patented non-scratch SATA connectors that ensure 50.000 drive inserts and ejects for even the most demanding drive swappers.

Just plug your drives right into the enclosure and close the door, chose your mode and your set to go. That is really all there is to this great piece of engineering. The Enermax EMK3203 supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD and Nor (No-Raid) modes.

Enermax has included everything you need in the box, which isn’t much. You get screws to mount it in non-swap positions as well as a SATA cable to connect it. Thanks to the hot-swap system you don’t anything else.

The EMK3203 is using a JMicron JMS562 Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip in the heart of the enclosure. It combines four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor into a tiny chip. The chip can be configured as 1 to 2- ports Serial ATA III Port Multiplier or hardware striping & mirror, where the last one is the one used in this mobile rack.

The chip also supports USB 3.0 and it looks like Enermax also thought about including this. It is mentioned on the label, but the port isn’t there. This could either just be to keep the costs low, the enclosure stable, or simply because there wasn’t room to cram more hardware into the enclosure. My guess is the last one, as it is pretty tight in there with the two PCB boards

Inateck FD2002 HDD Docking and Cloning Station Review

Introduction


Top slot-loading hard disk docking stations have been around for some time, and once in a while they come with increased functionality over just being a docking station. These days we need the fastest transfer speeds possible with the ever growing user-base that facilitates solid state drives. At the same time, it has to stay as easy and compatible as it always has been. Inateck created the FD2002 Dual HDD Docking station with off-line cloning feature, that is a device that should give us everything mentioned above.

The Inateck FD2002 comes with SATA 3.0 ports connects through a USB 3.0 connection for maximum transfer speeds. USB 3.0 is in its basic version only gives real-world speeds up to around 250 to 300MB/s at the best of times, that is until UASP came into play. UASP stands for USB Attached SCSI Protocol and is designed to address the failings of the classic USB BOT drivers by adding command-queuing and out-of-order completions, among other things. With the use of the UASP, we can archive raw speeds up to and around 450-500MB/s, a thing that just isn’t possible without.

Where most manufacturers would have stopped here and had the users rely on software options, Inateck took it one step further and added a copy and clone function to the docking station. And best of all, it doesn’t even need to be connected to the PC to this function to work.

The clone function is for pure offline-mode usage as a USB connection will interrupt the process. If you wish to be able to have it connected at the same time, Inateck has another model that supports connected duplication. It however requires more internal hardware and Inateck have thought about that and is giving you the choice to get just the right item for you.

The FD2002 supports both 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives. Small drives plug in right through the opening while bigger 3.5-inch drives will push the lever aside when inserted. Plug and play as it should be. The docking station also supports hot-swap and no drivers are needed besides your systems normal USB drivers. The tool-less design makes it both easy and fast to switch drives.

The LED indicator on the top displays the progress of a running duplication process as well as drive activity and connection. There is only one button to use for the clone function, but it requires a bit more than a touch to activate. A good things, as we wouldn’t want to start a duplication by error.

Security is another thing we all like and we want to keep our drives safe from physical damage. The Inateck FD2002 comes with overvoltage, leak currents, short circuits, peak voltage, interference and disturbance protection to guarantee safer data transfer and access.

The unit is listed as compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, Mac OS and Linux, but it should work with any USB capable device.

The Inateck FD2002 comes with both a USB 3.0 cable and a 12V 3A power brick for steady power to even the most power-hungry of drives.

Addonics Announced Sapphire Combo Storage Drives

Addonics Technologies announced their new Sapphire Combo Blu-ray/HDD and Sapphire Combo DVD-RW/HDD external enclosures that combine optical and hard drive storage into one small package with one connection.

The new enclosures are perfect for use where only a single eSATA or USB 3.0 connection is available, and it would be equally great during reinitialization of systems.

The Blu-ray model is equipped with a Blu-ray player/DVD burner while the DVD model is equipped with a DVD burner. Both models will allow you to play movies or access data stored on all popular optical media and allow you to burn video or data onto optical discs. The integrated Snap-In Mobile Rack that allows any 3.5-inch SATA hard drive to be conveniently added or removed.

An added bonus is the AES 256-bit encryption trough the optional Addonics CipherUSB where no extra configuration of software is needed. Once encrypted, the information on the disc will be invisible in any ordinary Blu-ray or DVD/CD player.

The MSRP for the Blu-ray model is $269.00 while the DVD model is fairly cheaper at just $189.00.

Thanks to Addonics for providing us with this information

Lexar JumpDrive M20 2-in-1Flash Drive Review

Introduction


There are thousands of USB sticks and flash storage on the market and as we all know, they’re not all built the same. Lexar, by Micron, know a lot about flash-based storage and have come out with their JumpDrive M20 Flashdrive. The M20 is a drive that combines many things seen prior, but not in the same product.

The JumpDrive M20 supports USB On-the-Go (OTG) and can be plugged directly into a compatible smart device for easy file transfers. Since all smart devices use a USB 2.0 micro port in this area, there wasn’t any need to make the drive complicated by adding USB 3 micro connector or having to include adapters of sorts. A flash-drive needs to stay simple, but we would still like to have the best possible speeds when we connect this drive to our PC, because it supports that too with its USB 3.0 connector. Plug it directly into your PC or other USB 3 capable device and you can get read speeds up to 120MB/s and write speeds up to 55MB/s. For example, you could transfer a 3GB HD video clip in less than one minute.

Both USB connectors are retractable with the slider on the side of the drive. Push it all the way to either side to expose the corresponding connector or park it in the middle when not in use. It couldn’t be much simpler than that. There sadly aren’t any covers over the plugs themselves when retracted, which I prefer to have on my flash drives as I always get dirt trapped when they’re  in my pockets.

The OTG function is primarily, but not exclusively, an Android function and the JumpDrive is designed to work with Android systems. To help you make sure that your device is compatible, Lexar placed a QR-code right on the front of the box for you to check before you even take the drive into your hands in a shop. Of course, you can also view the list from the Lexar homepage.

The Lexar JumpDrive M20 makes it a breeze to get files from your smart phone or tablet and move them over to a flash drive, something that otherwise requires a cable or wireless connection to your PC. With OTG, that’s a thing of the past and the best of all is that it is plug and play.

The JumpDrive M20 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices, officially  compatible with PC and Mac systems and works with the Astro File Manager that can be downloaded from the Google Play store. It also comes backed by a nice three-year warranty and a long-time experience from the company behind it all.

Asus RT-AC68U 802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless Router Review

Introduction


If I was to say the name Asus to a selection of people and ask what they would associate them with, I’d almost guarantee that none of them would say wireless or networking products in any way and this is quite understandable considering the fact that they are one of the biggest names out there on the market for motherboards and graphics card. Believe it or not though, networking has been something that Asus have been working on for a few years now and even though they have already got a wide selection of wireless and wired networking products out there, they are not as well-known about due to the bread and butter nature of their key product ranges.

As we are moving forward into an era where Gigabit wireless is becoming more of a common occurrence I’ve seen this as an ample opportunity to take a look at their latest and greatest wireless router, the RT-AC68U. Now considering this router is far more capable than the Netgear wireless access point and USB adaptor that I have, up to this point been using, I have therefore needed to employ a new wireless adaptor that is capable of equally delivering the same 1300Mbps connection speed that this router is capable of. Fortunately for me Asus also have a solution for this in the form of the PCE-AC68 PCI Express based wireless adaptor – I’ll have a separate review on this coming up shortly. With these wireless devices combined, we are looking at what is, at the moment, the pinnacle of wireless networking in the home and as we move forward and further into the capabilities of the 802.11ac standard – which I will add is currently nowhere near what its true potential is – we can get a better picture of what the next generation of consumer WiFi has to offer.

As we have seen though, pure performance is not the only thing that a router has to deliver these days, the feature set that each vendor has to be very rich, covering every possible eventuality that we may come across at a consumer and even a prosumer level. Now for the most part we find that a large number of these features will be somewhat similar to those found on other competing products. There is one small item that I will tease you with and one that will certainly catch the eye of any enthusiast; dual WAN capabilities. Before I get onto this little feature however there are a few other pieces to go through including what makes this router tick so to speak. Bring on what could be the most powerful router we have seen to date.

The accessory set for any router is pretty much set in stone and this setup is not that much different. Alongside the router, power cable and a single patch lead, there are a pair of interchangeable mains adaptors for the UK and EU markets, reference guide and manual on a CD with a paper Quick setup guide with a set of three external antennae rounding off the package.

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 16GB USB2.0 Flash Drive Review

Introduction


In many of my flash drive reviews I have mentioned that USB flash drives are so common these days that they are literally being given away to us and it is only once we move above the 16GB marker and over to USB3.0 compatible drives that we start to see the price rise up along with the performance. The basic recipe for a flash drive has barely changed – if at all in many years and this is simply a USB plug mounted on to a small PCB with a controller and some flash storage on the other end. Apart from the advances in performance, capacity and the maturity to the USB3.0 platform – a flash drive has always been a flash drive, but this has started to change as we are now seeing a new breed of flash drive come on to the market that is targeted for the mobile user as opposed to just the desktop and notebook user.

This new type of USB standard is called USB On-The-Go or USB-OTG for short. With mobile devices now becoming more integral in our lives, the need to have more storage to hand is greater than ever. For a couple of years now we have seen wireless hard drives flowing of the shelves and whilst they offer up a simple solution for expanding your storage capacity, they are not exactly small and they are not necessarily the cheapest way to solve the problem. An alternative solution to expand the storage capacity on a number of devices is to insert a microSD card, but once again this is not always possible with many products not having microSD card readers on them. Across every mobile device however there is one option that is available to work with – USB.

MicroUSB is virtually standard on every mobile device that one can get today and with the Android OS now as feature rich as ever, support for the next generation of USB storage is starting to be rolled out, giving users a hassle free way of accessing their data on the go. The DataTraveler microDuo that I’m looking at today is Kingston’s first native USB-OTG flash drive and this support is provided through a microUSB port on one end of the drive whilst a full-sized USB jack on the other end allows the drive to be used in the traditional manner in a desktop or notebook system.


On the front of the microDuo packaging, Kingston are keen to accentuate the OTG capabilities of the drive, showing its dual USB port connectivity for desktop and mobile devices.

AMD “Hawaii” R9 295X2 Dual GPU Leaked?

Tahiti based Ares GPU pictured

There have been a few quiet whispers and rumours about this legendary card for a while now, especially given that it’s not the first time we’ve seen dual GPU cards, it’s more a matter of “when will it be released” than “will it ever be released.” With Hawaii based hardware not well established in terms of the number of GPU’s available to the market, it’s about time AMD kicked things up a few notches.

The flagship dual-GPU card is believed to run a pair of 28nm “Hawaii” cores, and since Dutch publication BouweenPC has been digging in dark corners for information we now know that the card is to be called the Radeon R9 295X2. Both the cores are expect to have a clock speed of no less than 1000 MHz and will feature hybrid cooling prevent them from melting through the Earth’s crust.

Hybrid air and liquid cooling is nothing new for graphics cards, just look at the insane Asus Republic of Gamers ARES II graphics card. The new dual GPU card will benefit from two GPU liquid cooling blocks, while relying on airflow to cool other components such as the VRM and memory.

There is no doubt in my mind that this card is out there, and you can expect more details start cropping up over the next few weeks. As for pricing, expect it to be a fantastically big number, because flagship dual GPU cards with water cooling do not come cheap.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Western Digital Black² Dual Drive 120GB SSD & 1TB HDD Review

Introduction


Solid state storage as we know it today is certainly the way forward and this is proven by the fact that it is the storage medium of choice for any enthusiast or performance user. Whilst the speeds are fantastic, there is still a slight cause for concern to be seen when it comes to the amount of storage that these pioneering drives have to offer. Whilst flash storage is considerably cheaper than it was a few years ago, a typical 240GB SSD will set you back around £160-180 (~$260-295 US) and if you want to go any higher than this with a 480GB or even a 960GB drive then you really are starting to look at some serious money. On the flip side, the price of traditional mechanical storage is more affordable than ever and with 4TB drives available for as little as ~£133 (~$216 US) it really is a case of prioritising what is the greater need – is it going to be performance or capacity?

In a desktop system, this dilemma is typically not a problem, as the space is available to accommodate both solid state and mechanical drives and this is what we see many users opting for in the market today. When we move over to notebooks and ultra books however, the story couldn’t be any more different. Speaking for the vast majority of laptops that are out on the market today, storage is very limited and typically we find space for just one 2.5″ drive and no more. For a number of people, this is not really a real issue, as there is of course external hard drives and flash drives that can be used to extend your storage capacity, but when we look at it, this is not necessarily a practical option – especially for those of us who are on the go all the time. One option would be to remove the optical drive and install a 2.5″ drive adaptor in its place and this is good, but not every laptop has an optical drive, so this leads us back round to square one – do you choose performance or capacity?

One option that is available to you is to get a hybrid drive that offers up hard drive capacity but with the read performance of flash storage. The catch is that this isn’t really what we would call a proper solid state and hard drive combo as the flash portion of the drive is there purely to cache the commonly used data, making it quicker to access whilst the remainder of the data is still held on the spinning platters. What we really want is to have a drive that is effectively two in one and that is just what Western Digital have to offer with the Black² Dual Drive – to separate storage mediums, but in one single 2.5″ form factor – what we once thought to be a dream is now a strong reality.

Netgear A6200 Dual-Band USB Wireless AC Adaptor Review

Introduction


Just over a week ago I took a look at one of Netgear’s latest Smart WiFi routers to roll off the production line and into the real-world. The R6250, like many of Netgear’s latest routers, offers up the latest in WiFi technology with Gigabit wireless connections and also beamforming+ technology to ensure the connected devices get the fastest and best signal as possible. When we look at the latest wireless standard – 802.11ac – at this moment in time, there isn’t actually that many devices on the market that can connect using the AC standard. Whilst a number of devices can ‘see’ the AC networks (which run at 5GHz), in most instances they will actually be connecting through the 802.11n standard as that is the fastest they can go.

For the most part, running at wireless-n speeds is going to be fast enough for the average household and considering the fact that pretty much everything runs to this standard these days, many people don’t feel that there is a need to go that bit further. For those the do want to take things up a notch and push towards the world of Gigabit wireless, the AC standard is where the speed is. As we’ve seen recently, the routers the support AC are readily available in the market place and now we are starting to see the add-in wireless adaptors crop up too. As a result I have taken the opportunity to start testing routers that we have in for review at the new AC standard, and the A6200 wireless adaptor from Netgear is what I will be using.

When we get on to the testing stage of this review, some will note that the performance results look very similar to those found within the R6250 review and you would be right – they are. The simple reason for this is because of the router that I opted to use for the testing of this adaptor, on both the 5GHz band, but also on the 2.4GHz band. In the same way that I used this adaptor to test the R6250 router, I was also recording down the performance for the A6200 at the same time as this was the only router that I had to hand that would be able to deliver the bandwidth required.

Inside the box and alongside the wireless adaptor, Netgear include a few bits of paperwork including a quick setup guide, along with a CD with the drivers and Netgear Genie software and a USB dock come extension lead.

The A6200 is one of Netgear’s premium wireless adaptors offering up both the fastest possible speed and features.

Asus RP-N53 Dual-Band Wireless N600 Range Extender Review

Introduction


Imagine a scenario that I’m sure many of you already encounter. You’ve just got a lovely new high speed internet connection and as part of the package you’ve received a new ISP branded router that promises to offer the best wireless coverage of any internet provider that spreads to every corner of the globe (slight exaggeration may be found here). You feel chuffed by this but soon after you’ve got everything set up, you soon start to realise that the coverage is not as great as you was expecting.

This is something that many people experience and soon after moaning at the ISP for false advertising with their routers signal, they realise that it’s not so much a fault with the equipment but more a case that the wireless signal is not able to penetrate through the walls and floors due to the type of construction or materials used to build the house. Concrete, bricks and metal work for example are all items that wireless signals hate. My home as I’ve mentioned before is a typical example of this. Having solid brick walls all over the place is bad news for me when I’m trying to get online from the front of the house. Whilst there is a signal there, the speed that I experience has dropped considerably and when I’m trying to use interactive services on my TV, the poor signal has an effect on the QoS (Quality of Service) that I experience.

One option is to setup a powerline, but not only are these more targetted for wired devices, but they require two plugs and a little extra cost to get everything going. I’m not ruling them out as I think that they are fantastic bits of kit, so much so that we use them in the office and I use them at home. For wireless devices such as mobile phones, tablets, ultrabooks and so on, they really need the strength of the signal to be boosted and consequently we find items such as the RP-N53 Range Expander from Asus come in to play.

Patriot Viper 3 Mamba DDR3 2133MHz 16GB (2x8GB) Memory Kit Review

A few months ago I took a look at a Limited Edition kit from Patriot which was built specifically for the Intel Extreme Masters championships, andall in all, I was very impressed with what the kit had to offer, both in terms of styling, but more so on the performance side, with its bandwidth the opened right up with only the slightest of overclocks. The Viper kit that I’m looking at today is pretty much the same as the IEM kit that I saw previously, the only difference being its capacity and colour. Hopefully the increase in capacity, still allows for a large a mount of bandwidth to be opened up with only a slight overclock like previously seen.

The Viper kit comes in four colours, giving user the choice to match their systems colour scheme, namely Limited Edition blue, green, red and black as seen below. The styling of the kits is the same throughout the range, with a simple heat spreader design and a glossy surface to the Viper branding.

Test system:

  • Asus Maximus V Formula
  • Intel Core i7 3770k
  • AMD Radeon HD 7970
  • Corsair H100i
  • Corsair HX1050W
  • Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
  • Lian Li T60
  • AOC E2795VH

Clocked at 2133MHz at stock through X.M.P. configuration, the Viper 16GB has near identical timings to the 8GB kits with a slightly slower cycle time of 30 with the remainder of the timings staying at 11-11-11 and a 3T command rate.

After CPU-Z had confirmed our settings had been applied, we fired up AIDA64 to check the stock performance of the memory on our Z77 motherboard.

One small detail that I will point out from within CPU-Z is the unusual use of a 3T command rate – typically kits with X.M.P are seen with a command rate of 1 or 2T.

In a similar fashion to the IEM kits, the 16GB Viper kit has a pretty good stock bandwidth with 19793MB/s read, 18519MB/s write and 22083MB/s copy with a latency of 39.2ns

Seeing how far the kit can stretch its legs out, the first step is to push the clocks as far as they go with the timings left at stock – 11-11-11-30. When pushing the kit further, the CPU is also overclocked to open up the memory controller and in turn give scope for higher clocks. Working on the dividers to start, the Viper kit easily jumps up to the 2200MHz divider although anything above this resulted in a no boot scenario. Moving over to the BCLK, we know these kits don’t have much extra leeway in them and consequently a final clock at stock timings of 2222MHz was achieved.

In a similar fashion to the IEM kits, the pure Viper kits see a good gain in bandwidth with a fixed timing overclock with the gains best seen on the write bandwidth, with a gain of 2129MB/s, whilst read and copy speeds saw a gain of 1847MB/s and 2071MB/s respectively.

Allowing the timings to run free a little, there is a bit more headroom for pushing this kit a little further, although we do know from past experience that this is only by a small amount and massive overclocks should not be expected.

Trying the next divider up from 2200MHz resulted in a no boot scenario, so overclocking on the BCLK is all that remains. Edging the BCLK forward bit by bit, it didn’t take long before the kit topped out and a no post situation was seen. Leaving the BCLK at 101.7MHz resulted in an overall memory speed of 2238MHz, an overclock of 105MHz.

Whilst the gains over the fixed timing overclock are not massive, the timings remain fairly close to stock, meaning that any gains that are had are still going to be a good improvement to overall system performance.

Having seen the Viper kit in the form of the Intel Extreme Master Limited Edition 8GB kit not too long ago, I did have an idea of what was in stock, but the crucial difference between the two kits is the capacity.

Whilst 8GB kits are pretty much the standard and just about perfect for most everyday tasks, the growing number of 16GB dual channel kits on the market are showing a slight shift in trends. SFF builds are becoming more an more popular amongst enthusiasts and whilst this is great news and the sales of mini-ITX boards for example are going up, until recently, there have been not-so-many kits to choose from to maximise the capacity of these boards two DIMM slots.

This is where kits like this one come in and more importantly to see that whilst the capacity has doubled, the performance is still just as good, even when given a slight overclock. Pricing at this region of the market is also very good with the 16GB near to 2x the price of the 8GB kit as we would expect at around £120.

eTeknix Says: These new 16GB dual channel kits are soon going to have more competition, but for the meantime, the ‘Black Mamba’ Viper kits have got the bite and venom to put the competition to rest, still making it one of my top choices.

Patriot Viper DDR3 2133MHz 16GB (2x8GB) Memory Kit Review