ASUSTOR Launches Entry-Level Quad-Core AS32 Series NAS

ASUSTOR announced the launch of two new economical entry-level multimedia NAS devices called the AS3202T and AS3204T. The difference between the two is the number of drives you can mount, either 2 or 4. The new AS32 Series is built around Intel’s latest Celeron 1.6GHz quad-core CPU that provides plenty of processing power for such units and they come with 2GB DDR3 dual-channel memory.

Besides being a great quad-core CPU for NAS usage, the systems also feature Intel’s AES-NI encryption instructions that allow the devices to support hardware encryption. This is something that gives a far better performance when dealing with encrypted drives than a software solution would.

The AS32 series also features a great graphics processing unit that allows you to use the NAS as a multimedia hub. You can connect the systems directly to a TV or monitor for direct playback without the use of other devices. Attach a keyboard and mouse or use an IR remote to stay in control of the system.

The ASUSTOR Portal App makes it easy and allows you to use the NAS to browse the web, change the configuration, use KODI and similar apps while the official ASUSTOR remote control completes the couch experience. Users can centrally store all of their digital multimedia on the NAS (photos, music, movies) and play it all back on demand, enjoying a comprehensive home multimedia experience.

The AS32 series doesn’t feature external drive bays, but still work with a toolless mounting system that allows you to easily install everything just by the use of thumbscrews. The exterior design uses the diamond pattern that we’ve seen before, for example on the AS1002T that we reviewed a little while ago.

“In order to provide better multimedia playback experience to consumers, we are launching the AS3202T and AS3204T tower model NAS devices which feature powerful performance,” said Johnny Chen, Product Manager at ASUSTOR. “When compared to the 31 series devices of the previous generation, the 32 series devices provide even more powerful graphics processing capabilities which allow for sharper imaging and smoother playback for all high definition multimedia.”

External storage can be connected to the three USB 3.0 ports on the AS32 series. One is located on the front for easier access and the other two are on the back next to the Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port and the HDMI 1.4a port.

The NAS naturally come with ASUSTOR’s ADM operating system that’s both easy to use and setup. There is no need for complex installation and the devices can be setup with just a three steps. This makes it a great NAS for beginners as it’s budget friendly, easy to install, and still powerful.

Besides the default function, the functionality can be expanded with a large variety of add-on applications that can be installed directly from the built-in app central. There are mobile companion apps too for users that want to access their storage on the go and through the comfort of their smart devices.

Currently, ADM version 2.5.4 is the latest official version of the operating system, but the ADM 2.6 beta is available too and thereby we can expect the full version of this to be released soon too. The latest ADM 2.6 beta includes upgrades to ASUSTOR Portal web applications by increasing YouTube 1080p playback performance and support for a rich variety of streaming video sites such as Netflix, MetaCafe, US Stream, Vimeo, Youkou, Tudou and more.

Key Features for the AS3202T and AS3204T

  • Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Automatic Overclocking to 2.24GHz)
  • RAID 1 Read Speed of up to 112+MB/s and Write Speed of up to 110+ MB/s
  • 2GB Built-in Dual-Channel DDR3L High-Speed Memory
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • 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) Port
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b Port
  • Infrared Receiver
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1 (AS3202T)
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10 (AS3204T)
  • Supports Seamless System Migration
  • Supports Largest Capacity Hard Disks on the Market (8TB)
  • Supports Intel AES-NI Hardware Encryption Engine

QNAP TAS-268 QTS and Android Combo NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am taking a look at a NAS that comes with a twist that we previously haven’t seen out-of-the-box. I’m talking about QNAP’s TAS-268 NAS which is a 2-bay hybrid NAS that runs both QNAP’s QTS and Android at the same time. The TAS-268 doesn’t just have a twist in the operating system, the physical form also takes a different approach than most NAS on the market.

At the core, the QNAP TAS-268 is a normal NAS with the function that you would expect from such a unit. It doesn’t come with the most power processor, but in return, it also comes with a low price tag despite all the functionality. It is built around an ARM 1.1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB DDR3 memory. It also features an onboard 4GB flash memory to be used by the Android system. While this doesn’t sound like much, it should be plenty for this device’s functions.

Besides this 2-bay unit, QNAP also released a 1-bay unit with the only difference being the number of drives you can install. But it is the 2-bay unit that we’re looking at today and it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and single disk setup with two 3.5-inch hard disk drives. There are plenty of external connection options on the TAS-268 with one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, four USB 2.0 ports on the rear and one USB 3.0 port on the front.

The front also features an SD card slot for easy and portable storage connection just as you’re used to from your Android phone or tablet – just much easier. You don’t need to remove any covers and battery as it is the case with many phones, instead, you have the SD slot right at the front of the device where you need it.

To complete the convenience experience, QNAP also added the one-touch copy button which allows just what the name promised, copy the content from the front USB port with a single press of the button. How the button shall react can be changed in the QTS system and it is capable of copy operations in both directions, both to and from the USB drives.

With a NAS like this that supports Android, we also need an HDMI port in order to connect it to our monitor or TV and the TAS-2688 also features this on the rear. It is accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports that come in handy for keyboard, mouse, and game controller connection in order to take even better advantage of the Android platform and all the available apps. You can also control the system through the use of the included IR remote control. The TS-268 supports HD and 4K H.265 / H.264 file formats, 4K H.264 with up to 15 frames per second and 4K H.265 with up to 30 frames per second.

Shouldn’t you want to connect the device via HDMI or maybe you just want to get your stored and linked media files onto more devices then you can take advantage of the common DLNA streaming that QNAP also supports. Consoles, Smart TVs, Mini-PCs and much more support this and it is probably the easiest method of streaming content.

Google Play also provides various media apps including YouTube, TED, Twitch and other video apps to be used directly on the NAS. You can install and stream movies, cartoons, TV series, news, and sports at any time in order to enrich your entertainment level.

QNAP introduced their myQNAPcloud system quite a while ago by now and naturally the TAS-268 also supports this. It isn’t just a simple and effective way to set up your new NAS, it also allows you to connect to the finished setup much quicker and easier. By acting as a simplified and locked-in dynamic DNS system it will allow you to easily connect to your NAS, securely, from anywhere in the world and any device as long as you and the NAS both have internet connectivity.

With that in mind, it is incredibly easy to create you own personal cloud system where you don’t have to rely on commercial or free options that thousands of other people use. Keep your files at home where you know who has access and who doesn’t. It is a breeze to sync files to the NAS via QNAP’s own Qsync as well as the Cloud Drive Sync app from the QTS app center that can sync files with Google Drive and Dropbox.

Both real-time and scheduled backups on Windows systems as well as with Time Machine on Mac OS systems is easily taken care of with QNAP’s NetBak replicator and it also features disaster recovery solutions including RTRR, rsync, and cloud storage backup (Dropbox and Google Drive) are also included. So all the bases are covered.

As previously mentioned, you naturally also get the ordinary NAS cross-platform file sharing capabilities from a centralized data storage. Whether you use Linux, Unix, Windows, or Mac OS, your connection is covered. And with the use of apps you get the same connectivity on your Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS system.

So far I have mostly been talking about the software functionality, but that’s just one of the great aspects on this NAS. The design is quite a bit different than we are used with a vertical unit rather than a horizontal oriented. This saves space on the desk with a smaller footprint which can be a vital factor near your entertainment system and similar likely placement scenarios.

The TAS-28 is also a very light unit due to a simple and clever design. Even better, the entire NAS can be set up completely tool-less for your convenience. There is a single thumbscrew at the bottom with which you can open up the chassis and the drive are mounted tool-less too with the included adapters.

Despite having a unique outer design, a lot of the internal design is something that reminds us of previous 2-bay NAS units – just improved with the tool-less drive mounting options and vertical instead of horizontal.

With all this talk about Android, we shouldn’t forget about the base QTS operating system. It provides a web-based user interface to help you easily manage files on the TAS-268. You can install various apps based on your needs to fulfill tasks like storage, backup, management and multimedia applications. File Station allows you to upload, download and manage files anywhere with a web browser. All of your photos, music and videos can be indexed by the built-in Media Library, and easily managed and shared with the Photo Station, Music Station and Video Station. The energy-saving Download Station is your 24/7 download center, allowing you to quickly download files to enrich your collection.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU
  • Android and QTS operating system
  • Organize & manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location
  • Synchronize files between computers, laptops, and mobile devices
  • Remotely access your files securely from your personal cloud
  • Stream your multimedia library via DLNA to other devices and your TV
  • Enjoy direct media playback via HDMI with HD videos and photos
  • Compact and streamlined chassis ideal for a desktop or living room environment

Packaging and Accessories

The TAS-268 comes in a simple white box with a representation of the NAS unit as well as the feature highlights.

The rear of the box contains some more information as to what’s so special about this NAS, but it’s kept short.

Opening up the box and we find a brand new NAS that is well protected with self-adhesive plastic film – you know the kind we all love to peel off once we get a new gadget.

Besides the NAS itself, there is a quick installation guide to help you get started quickly, a power supply brick and power cord fitting the region you bought it in as well as an RJ45 LAN cable.

There’s also a small remote control included that is about 3 inches long. Shown below are also the four HDD mounting brackets that simply snap into the drive and hold it in place.

SilverStone Releases USB 3.1 Type-C LAN and HDMI Adapters

One of the downsides with compact mobile devices such as two-in-one, ultrabooks, and tablets is the lack of connection ability. They all have a USB connection, but beyond that, it is very limited. Luckily you can do a lot with adapters and SilverStone just released two new USB 3.1 Type-C adapters where the one adds a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 network port and the other adds an HDMI port that’s capable of 4K video output.

The first of the two new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapters is the EP05 and it is a compact Gigabit Ethernet network adapter in beautiful all white colored design. The adapter uses the Realtek RTL8153 chipset which offers TCP Offload Engine and it also supports advanced IEEE features such as 802.1Q VLAN tagging and 802.3az among others. The Realtek chipset offers both normal Wake On LAN (WOL) as well as RealWoW that allows you to wake your system over the internet too.

The EP05 would be a great addition to notebook computers such as MacBooks that do not have network port at all on their own. Naturally it is downwards compatible all the way to 10Mbps and USB 1.1 connections and it works driverless on Windows 8 or newer systems. Windows 7 and earlier will need to download and install drivers first.

The second new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapter is called the EP07 and it provides you with an easy way to add an extra HDMI port to your system. The SilverStone EP07 doesn’t just support USB 3.1 input and HDMI output, it also supports flexible USB 3.1 Type-C switching for DP 1.2 Alt Mode.

The EP07 Supports HDMI 1.4 and also former versions for older devices, but sadly no official HDMI 2.0 support. That doesn’t mean that you can’t connect a HDMI 2.0 display to it, you just don’t get the advantages. It supports content protection of HDCP Rx and Tx keys and it can display resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30Hz with DP1.2 in SST mode.

 

Both SilverStone adapters work without extra power input which makes them highly portable. They don’t weigh much either, which always is a great feature in accessories for mobile devices.

Both the SilverStone EP05 and EP07 adapter will be available next week for a recommended end user price of $18.15 USD for the EP05 and $22.11 USD for the EP07 (excl. VAT).

 

Synology DiskStation DS416 4-bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


I’ve taken a look at quite a few 2-bay NAS units lately and while they already allow for an impressive 16TB raw storage, that might not be enough for everyone. Today I’m taking Synology’s DiskStation DS416, a 4-bay feature-rich and high-performance NAS server, for a spin on my test bench. The Synology DiskStation DS416 is built around an Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 32-bit dual-core CPU with 1.4GHz, floating point unit, and hardware encryption engine. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory that sadly isn’t upgradable.

The DS416 is a full-fledged NAS that comes with everything you’d want from a performance system. It features dual Gigabit Ethernet network that supports all types of failover and link aggregation, allowing you to keep your system connected under heavier load or when one connection should fail. The DS416 also features three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is conveniently placed on the front of the NAS for easy access.

With powerful hardware like that, the DS416 is able to deliver an average reading and writing speeds of 220 MB/s and 140 MB/s respectively while encrypted file transfers come in at an evenly impressive 146 MB/s reading and 65 MB/s writing. Those figures naturally depend on what hard disk drives you use as well as the method of data access and your network setup.

The drive bays feature a convenient tool-free drive installation for 3.5-inch drives where as you still need screws to mount 2.5-inch drives. The latter is a rare occurrence anyway and shouldn’t be anything to bother anyone. The drive bays are covered by a removable front plate that gives the NAS a cleaner overall look by hiding away the drives. The drive bays aren’t the only thing that you can swap out in this NAS, the fans are also redundant. The DS416 incorporates a passive cooling design on the actual components and only uses two 92mm fans on the rear to keep everything at an optimal temperature. When the system detects a fan failure, the built-in redundancy mechanism ensures continuous operation until the replacement fan arrives.

The DS416 is naturally powered by DiskStation Manager (DSM), the award-winning operating system from Synology. It has a beautiful and functional user interface and all the features you will need at home or in a small to medium-sized business. It offers all the network protocols you’d want including SMB2, AFP, NFS, WebDAV, and FTP. Server admins don’t need to worry about maintaining two set of user credentials either as the DS416 comes with both Windows AD and LDAP integration. An added convenience factor is the network recycle bin that is featured on AFP, CIFS, File Station, and WebDAV. All files deleted in a shared folder will be automatically moved into the Recycle Bin instead of being destroyed.

The DS416 isn’t just an all in one server when it comes to features, it also has the power to handle it. You can easily turn your DS416 into a mail server with webmail interface, set up a VPN server connect as a VPN client, create a print server for USB printers and much more such as Radius server, Proxy server, and Syslog server features.

Creating your own personal yet comprehensive cloud solutions is no problem either with the DS416 thanks to the Cloud Station package.It is the perfect package to sync files across multiple devices, perform offline edits and later synced them, and keep up to 32 historical versions for easy restoration. You also got all the normal backup features that you’ll want such as 2-way sync between different DiskSations as well as support for commercial cloud services such as Glacier Backup and HiDrive Backup.

The Synology DiskStation DS416 has a comprehensive security package, starting with AES 256-bit encryption but also more advanced setups like 2-step verification. It also comes with AppArmor that can block malicious programs from accessing unauthorized system resources and you can customize the trust level in the package center to only accept apps from certain publishers. The built-in firewall is another useful feature just as the Denial of Service (DoS) protection. Antivirus can also be downloaded and installed for that extra level of security. Overall, everything you need to keep your data safe from malicious code and people.

Synology also offers a row of mobile apps that you can use to easy connection and usage of your NAS from your mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The apps include DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download and DS cam.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
  • Dual LAN with failover and link aggregation support
  • Over 221.05MB/s reading, 139.51MB/s writing
  • Effective backup solution for all desktop and mobile devices
  • Front USB 3.0 for fast easy access
  • Hot-swappable & tool-less hard drive tray design
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Packaging and Accessories

The Synology DS416 comes in a simple brown package with a sticker for model inside. It has all the relevant features presented as well as an image of the unit that is inside.

The rear of the box has a second sticker with some of the hardware highlights.

Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, you’ll find an AC adapter with power cable for the region where you purchased it, two RJ45 LAN cables, screws for use with 2.5-inch drives, and a Welcome and Quick Installation Guide. Everything you need to get it setup and I like that Synology included two LAN cables so users can get port trunking up and running right away.

Linksys RE6700 AC1200 Amplify Wi-Fi Range Extender Review

Introduction


Wireless networks are great, that is as long as you are close enough to your router to get a signal strength you like. If you router shouldn’t be strong enough to reach the furthest parts of your home or you just need a stronger signal, then you might want to invest in a range extender. Today I’m taking a closer look at the Linksys RE6700 AC1200 Amplify Dual-Band Wi-Fi Range Extender, or just Linksys RE6700 for short.

I’ve tested a few range extenders lately, but most of them were 2.4GHz mode only. That isn’t ideal for today’s devices that usually come with dual-band features and high-speed 5GHz network. The Linksys RE6700 is a dual-band device that can provide up to 300 Mbit/s on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867Mbit/s on the 5GHz band, making up the AC1200 rating. The RE6700 features a range extension all the way up to 1000 square meters, an area that should be more than enough for most homes.

One of the great thing with wireless range extenders is that they are compatible with pretty much any hardware that you already have. They simply hook themselves up on your existing network, with minor configurations, and extend the coverage and signal strength of your existing network. It couldn’t be simpler to get a better wireless network.

Linksys included the amazing Spot Finder technology in the RE6700 that allows you to find the perfect location for the range extender with ease. The range extender has a spot finder meter built into its web interface where you can use it from your PC or mobile devices. Turn the RE67000 on and find the perfect location for your new range extender in just 3 simple steps.

A downside to many wireless network range extenders is that they take up a power outlet that you otherwise might need. Linksys made sure that this won’t be an issue on the RE6700. The added power outlet pass-through for prevents the worry about blocked power outlets in your home that you otherwise need for other devices.

The RE6700 also features beamforming technology that makes sure that you have the best signal to connected devices simply by strengthening the signal in the direction of connected devices. The crossband technology allows for the simultaneous use of both bands rather than relying on one radio band to do all the work. This allows information to be obtained on one band and transmitted on the other, resulting in reduced dropped data packets, faster media transfer speeds, and a stronger, more consistent signal throughout your home.

You might think that we are done with the features now, after all, this is just a range extender. But there is more to show on the RE6700. Linksys also included a 3.5mm audio jack that allows you to connect speakers directly to the range extender and stream music wirelessly from your iOS or Android smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Continuing, Linksys also added a Gigabit Ethernet port to the range extender that allows you to connect devices that don’t have their own wireless adapter.

Linksys added both a power button and a WPS button to the RE6700. The power button is a nice touch, allowing you to turn the extender function off without having to unplug it. The WPS button allows for easy connection setup between the range extender and your router. A click on the WPS button on each device and the two will be automatically paired. There is also a tiny hole for the reset button in case you need to reset the configuration.

Feature Highlights

  • Increase your current router’s Wi-Fi range to up to 10,000 square feet
  • Enjoy Wi-Fi speeds up to AC1200Mbps (N300 + AC867)
  • Spot Finder Technology makes optimal placement easy
  • An integrated power outlet allows you to maintain availability of the wall plug
  • Beamforming and Crossband technologies focus and strengthen signals to help reduce dead zones
  • Stream music wirelessly throughout your home with Wi-Fi audio
  • Works with virtually any router

Packaging and Accessories

Linksys packed the Amplify AC1200 Wi-Fi range extender in a colourful box that displays all the main featuers right on the front.

The rear explains the technology behind it a little more while also explaining a little about the built-in streaming feature.

The added features such as audio jack and Gigabit Ethernet port are also displayed on the box itself.

Inside we find the range extender itself, a quick start guide, and a regulatory information leaflet.

TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Review

Introduction


There is no shortage of routers on the market and today I’m taking TP-Link’s Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, a beautiful and simple looking router capable of handling the newest AC connection standard.

The Archer C9 looks like it could have it all, powerful dual-band wireless for up to 1900Gbps total transfer speeds, Gigabit Ethernet ports for both LAN and WAN, USB 3.0 for file sharing and an easy to use setup and configuration interface.

Archer C9’s strength doesn’t just come from the support for the 802.11ac standard, the next generation of Wi-Fi, and the combination of the 2.4GHz 600Mbps and 5GHz 1300Mbps connections for a total available bandwidth of 1.9Gbps, but also in the added features and functions such as USB file and printer sharing as well as beamforming technology for the best possible connection between your devices.

The Archer C9 has three detachable dual band antennas for maximum and omni-directional wireless coverage as well as reliability. The signal strength is further boosted by the built-in beamforming technology for an even better and efficient wireless connection between the router and the connected devices. The router will focus the strength of its signal where it is needed.

To achieve all the power needed to handle all that traffic speed, TP-Link built the Archer C9 with a dual-core 1GHz processor that is able to handle a lot of simultaneously wired and wireless tasks at the same time.

On the rear of the unit, you’ll find a USB 2.0 port for older legacy storage devices and printers and it also comes with a USB 3.0 port on the side for modern and high-speed storage. The built-in FTP server and file-sharing allows you to easily access the stored files and media from any device connected on your network.

The built-in FTP server, media server, and Samba file-sharing allows you to easily access the stored files and media from any device that is connected to your network.

There is a separate LED for almost every part of the router from power over the two wireless signals to LAN, WAN and an individual for each of the USB ports. The only thing that you can’t see quickly on the LEDs is which of the four LAN ports that’s active.

There isn’t a way to mount this router on your wall, it instead comes with a stand that will make the router stand at a small backward angle. The rubber feet may not be large, but they are enough to keep the router where you place it.

The addition of a power button is a nice touch. You rarely need it on a router, but it is a lovely feature to have when you do. There is plenty of room on the device, so why not.

All four LAN ports and the WAN port are Gigabit ports for the usual great LAN speed and without limitation on faster than 100MB/s internet connections that are making their entry in more and more location and markets. The WPS button also works as reset button at the same time.

I really like the design that TP-Link applied to the Archer C9. The gentle curves give the router a simplistic yet almost sophisticated look. But it doesn’t just look great, it’s also a well-crafted unit made with great parts.

On the side of the unit you’ll find the USB 3.0 port where you easily can connect your fast portable storage and share it over your network. It’s also where the button is located to turn the WiFi on and off. No need to have it running when not needed, especially when it’s so easy to access and switch.

The Archer C9 also supports guest network connections for people who only need access now and then and to whom you might not want to give your normal and more static password. Parents can also rest assured that their kids won’t visit sites that they shouldn’t and on hours where they should be asleep thanks to the parental control.

Other features include IPv6, Dynamic IP/Static IP/PPPoE/PPTP/L2TP/BigPond WAN connections, 64/128-bit WEP, and WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2 encryption. It has built in firewall, bandwidth control, supports direct setup for dynamic DNS services and VPN passthrough.

iOS users will also have access to easy management through the Tether APP while anyone can enjoy quick and hassle free installation via the web interface via any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Within the box you find everything you need to get started with your high-speed wireless network: the router itself with its three antennas, a AC/DC power adapter, a RJ45 LAN cable to connect it to your internet connection, manuals, resource disk, and a quick installation guide to get your started and running as quick as possible.

Linksys Launches the WRT1200AC in the UK

If you’re in the market for a new router, then you might want to take a closer look at Linksys’ latest router, the WRT1200AC. The Linksys WRT1200AC delivers best in class performance and convenience, and now UK customers can get their hands on it too. The router was first introduced at CES in Las Vegas and it’s great to see it arriving here.

It is built around the Avastar Wireless & ARMADA Processor product series from Marvell and features wireless speeds up to 1.3 Gbps and a 1.3GHz dual-core CPU. The 2×2 AC1200 Dual-Band Wireless-AC Gigabit Router also comes with a USB 3.0 port and dual USB 2.0 and eSATA port for easy connectivity of external storage devices. Another great feature is that the router is fully compatible with OpenWRT as the drivers have been incorporated into the latest image snapshot.

It comes with two adjustable and removable antennas for maximum range, and it features beamforming technology to boost the Wi-Fi signal. Every other device is getting the smart tag lately and it’s no different in the world of routers. The Linksys WRT1200AC comes with Smart Wi-Fi, a web and app-based management tool that helps users set up and manage their router from any device, including smartphones. OpenVPN server functionality will also be added this month via a firmware upgrade.

Feature Highlights

  • Up to N400 + AC867 Mbps speed
  • Simultaneous Dual Band 2.4 + 5 GHZ
  • Network standards: IEEE 802.11a,b,g,n,ac
  • Beamforming technology
  • OpenWRT compatible
  • WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall
  • Two high-performance antennas
  • USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and eSATA connectivity
  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Dual-core 1.3GHz CPU
  • Smart Wi-Fi app for smartphones and tablets
  • Parental control, guest access, and scheduling

The Linksys WRT1200AC is available now for an MSRP of £149.99 at leading retail stores and online retailers.

Club3D Multi Streaming Transport Hub and Docking Station Review

Introduction


There is no doubt that playing games and working is filled with a lot more joy and pleasure when you have more than one monitor connected. You need to use ALT+TAB a lot less to view everything, can have source code on one screen and the result on another, or just keep an eye on your instant messages and emails while you’re gaming. It’s all possible and once you got used to it, then you’ll miss it immensely when you don’t have it.

It can however end up costing you even more that you need a graphics card with just the right amount of outputs and connectors to match your monitor and this is where Club 3D comes to your rescue with two devices in the Sense Vision series. The MST-HUB is a multi-stream transport hub that morphs your one DisplayPort into three and the Y-cabled Docking station that takes one mDP and one USB 3.0 port and turns it into two mDP ports, three USB 3.0 ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet port.

The number of supported displays depends on the bandwidth available. The MST hub is using the ST Micro STDP 4320 which supports DisplayPort 1.2a specifications with support for up to 21.6Gbps of bandwidth. How much you have depends on your output device. With this kind of bandwidth at your disposal, you can easily run four full HD monitors at 60Hz and 32-bit colour depth and still have extra bandwidth to spare, and that from a single onboard connector.

The Club 3D MST hub can help with more, for example if you got a 4K monitor of the cheaper kind that only can do 30Hz. You can use the MST hub and resolve this by combining two screen resolutions of 1920×2160 at 60Hz to obtain a native 3840×2160 60Hz resolution by using two DisplayPort cables. This is particular useful of you only have one display port out to begin with and no way to attach two DisplayPort cables to your system, doesn’t help if the monitor has it.

Even if you don’t have a DisplayPort capable monitor the MST hub can help you, but you will need adapters to connect them. The Club3D MSTY Hub is a DP++ device which means that it can actively convert the DisplayPort signal to other types of display interfaces. An active adapter isn’t required, a passive is enough with this hub. Just keep in mind that passive adapters have a resolution limitation of 1920×1200.

AMD created Eyefinity with up to 6 displays, but Club 3d takes it to the next level as you only need a graphics card with two DisplayPort connectors and two of these MST hubs to achieve just that, being able to connect 6 monitors for the ultimate multi-screen setup.

Ultrabooks and notebooks also become more powerful with each generation, but the often only come with one display port. With the MST hub, you can easily connect multiple monitors to those and best of all, you only need to unplug one cable when you take your system with you on the go.

Features

  • Standards compliance/support:displayport v1.2a, displayport v1.1a,VESA DDM
  • Standard,HDCP V2.0,DisplayId,and EDID V1.4
  • Supports main link rates of 5.4 bps(HBR2),2.7 bps(HBR)and 1.62 bps(RBR) from source
  • Supports 1/2/4 lanes of main link for RX side
  • Supports three DP++ output port, or two dual-link DVI ports, or the combination of ports
  • For DP 1.2a source,supports DP1.2a MST multi video/audio steams
  • Supports 1.1 source, supports ViewXpand
  • Supports DP-DP Bypass mode
  • Supports AUX-CH enables SBM and I2C mapping over AUX between the source/sink and device
  • Dedicated I2C slave for main processor to access the device
  • Supported output resolution: up to 2560X1600@60Hz each monitor in DP1.2 MST and up to FHD/1080p in DP1.1 or DP 1.2 SST. With DP resolutions up to FHD (4K x 2K) @60Hz, 24bpp, but limited by DP bandwidth).
  • Input pixel data depth 6/8/10/12 bits and supports output pixel format RGB444
  • Advance WideEye SerDes technology
  • Adaptive Sync technology

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

New Asus RG6 ROG Console is Powered by Intel Broadwell and GTX 960M

If you wanted a powerhouse console for your living room, Asus just came forth with a solution. The company just announced its RG6 ROG console-inspired gaming PC, featuring a minimalistic and extremely silent design.

The RG6 looks to maintain the company’s Republic of Gamers design and is powered by an Intel i5 5th Gen Broadwell CPU, 8GB DDR3L which is also upgradeable to 16GB, Nvidia’s GTX 960M graphics solution and even comes with an optional SSD slot. The company looks to have added one of their ROG M801 keyboard and Sica RA01 mouse in the bundle too.

Aside from its ultra-silent operating environment, outputting 20dB in idle and 28 dB in full-load, the RG6 comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Intel Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst III that aims to provide lag-free connectivity. In terms of connectivity, the gaming-PC comes with a HDMI and DisplayPort output, four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports that also feature a USB Charger option.

When it comes to the audio, the RG6 comes with the SupremeFX ELNA audio capacitors that offer to connect you system with either the HDMI or S/PDIF optical port. In addition to the latter, audio jacks are available on both the front and back of the console. Its Sonic Studio also aims to help you personalize sound modes and te equalizer.

Asus’ RG6 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and has support for Steam Big Picture Launcher out-of-the-box, even if you choose to use just a game-pad controller, giving user an additional option to add the SteamOS just as easily after the console is officially launched.

Other features include AI Suite III that lets you customize the system’s settings, a 100GB ASUS WebStorage for a year, the HomeCloud that lets you access the console remotely and a one-year license for Kaspersky’s antivirus software.

There is still no word on pricing or availability for the Asus RG6, but more news on this matter is bound to be released soon.

Images courtesy of ASUS ROG

Inateck HBU3VL2-4 USB 3.0 Hub and HBU3VL3-4 Hub with Ethernet Review

Introduction


We’ve all run into this one particular issue at one point or another and that is where we have to work with too few USB ports. This is where USB hubs come into play and today I’m taking a closer look at two of them. On the test bench is the Inateck four-port HBU3VL2-4 USB 3.0 hub and the Inateck three-port HBU3VL3-4 USB 3.0 hub with Ethernet connectivity. Both of these new USB 3.0 hubs are aimed at netbook, notebook, ultrabook, tablet, and similar portable PC users and they reflect that in their size, features and portability.

The Inateck HBU3VL3-4 and HBU3VL2-4 both feature the same basic design and are highly portable. They barely take up any space with their 110 x 32 x 20mm size and are lightweight enough to not notice in your bag at just 59grams. They are both passive powered units so you don’t need to carry around an extra and heavy power supply just for the hub. Perfect for users on the go.

The first of the two units, the HBU-3VL2-4 four-port USB 3.0 hub, comes with a short USB 3.0 cable so you can connect it without having meters of cable rolled up next to your laptop. It features three USB ports on top of the unit and one on the end. The one at the end of the unit is especially suited for bigger plugs and devices that would otherwise impair connectivity to the rest of the ports. Other than that, the four-port USB hub doesn’t feature much because there is no need for anything else. It has a sticker on the rear with the product and company names as well as the model number.

Being a passive powered unit does bring the benefit of not having to carry around an extra power supply, but it also means that there are a few limitations on what you can connect. The maximum power draw from connected devices can’t exceed 5V 900mAh. It would be tempting to use a hub with this design as a charger, but that isn’t recommended for passive hubs. But normal smartphones, flash storage, and input devices shouldn’t provide any issues at all. Inside it features the VIA VL812 chipset that should deliver more than enough performance, and I don’t expect to see much of a performance impact through its use.


The second USB hub is a little more specialized and comes with one really cool extra feature, a RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. This could be particular useful for ultrabook and tablet users that only have wireless connections at their disposal. Just connect the Inateck HBU3VL3-4 to your system, install the Realtek drivers and enjoy the benefits of a cabled connection.

The Inateck HBU3VL3-4 looks just like the 4-port hub we just saw, but it only features the three USB 3.0 ports on the top. The fourth port at the end has been replaced with an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. This is really awesome and thanks to Inateck’s use of a Realtek RTL8153 chip inside, I expect to see solid performance here.

If you choose to download the drivers for the LAN port instead of using the included driver disk, make sure you download the right one. There has been a revision in the product, but it can easily be identified by the sticker on the bottom. The download page will also warn you about this and guide you to the right version. This is well done and something I wanted to point out, I like when a company makes everything as easy as possible. One is identified by a serial number sticker while the other has the mac address on the sticker.

ASRock Announces the X99M-Killer USB 3.1 Socket LGA2011v3 Motherboard

ASRock has just announced its latest socket LGA2011v3 motherboard addition, the X99M-Killer USB 3.1, tailored specifically for Intel’s Core i7 Haswell-E processors. It comes in a micro-ATX form factor, featuring two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 ports and a nice feature set.

The motherboard is said to have a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS and an optional 4-pin Molex for powering it and all the components coupled to it. The X99M-Killer also has a 12-phase VRM for the CPU, having it wired to the four DDR4 DIMM slots in quad-channel support.

In terms of expansion slots, the motherboard comes with two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 and one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (x4 electrical). Storage connectivity is provided via the 10 SATA-Express 10 Gb/s ports, one eSata 6 Gb/s and one Ultra M.2.

The X99M-Killer comes with the ASRock Purity Sound 2 onboard audio solution featuring a 115 dBA SNR Codec, audio-grade capacitors, a headphones amplifier and ground-layer isolation. Internet connectivity is provided via two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one driven by the Killer E2205 and one by the Intel i218-V controllers.

Aside from the two USB 3.1 prots, there are also six USB 3.0 connectors available (four in the rear and two by header) and two USB 2.0 ports, designed to connect a user’s keyboard and mouse. The motherboard also features a dual-BIOS with manual switching between two physical EEPROMs.

ASRock did not offer any details on the X99M-Killer USB 3.1 motherboard in terms of pricing or availability just yet.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

ASRock Rolls out the 970M Pro3 Micro-ATX AM3+ Motherboard

ASRock has announced one of the very few AMD 9-series chipset based socket AM3+ motherboards in the micro-ATX form-factor, the 970M Pro3.

The motherboard is said to be based on the AMD 970 chip and supports the AMD FX processors with TDP of up to 125W, meaning it excludes support for the FX-9000 series which requires more TDP. The motherboard also offers a 5-phase CPU VRM thanks to the 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS.

In terms of specs, the 970M Pro3 comes with one PCIe 2.0 x16, one PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4) wired to the southbridge, one PCIe 2,0 x1 and a PCI. The board also offers six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, a 6-channel HD audio with ELNA capacitors, Gigabit Ethernet port and four USB 3.0, all of which are driven by a UEFI BIOS.

The ASRock 970M Pro3 is currently available at select retailers and comes with a price tag of under $99.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Asus EA-AC87 Media Bridge and Access Point Comes with 1734 Mbps Speeds

Asus has announced a new access point and media bridge, the EA-AC87, which is a dual-purpose wireless AC-1800 that uses a 4×4 MIMO antenna array. The company states that when it is paired with a 4×4 router, the EA-AC87 is able to deliver the world’s fastest 5GHz speeds of up to 1734 Mb/s.

The EA-AC87 also features the Asus AiRadar, a universal beamforming technology that helps the device ensure a reliable and fast connection over an area of 465 m² or 5000 ft. This means that the latest device has a 33% performance increase compared the previous Wi-Fi antenna generations that use 3×3 antennas.

In terms of connectivity, the EA-AC87 provides five Gigabit Ethernet ports, giving it the ability to connect to a wide range of devices. In addition to the latter, Asus states that future firmware updates will add support for multi-user MIMO, enhancing the product performance in multi-device environments.

In access point mode, the EA-AC87 is said to provide the ultimate 802.11ac standard extension, extending the capacity to handle more devices as well as extending the wireless coverage of the router it is coupled to. The EA-AC87 is the perfect solution for a single-band 2.4 GHz router, having it add the benefit for 5 GHz connectivity which adds ultra-fast speeds and less interference than in congested 2.4 GHz environments.

In media bridge mode, the EA-AC87 provides five LED indicators on the front panel which act as signal quality indicators. This provides real-time feedback upon the wireless signal quality and ensures that the user benefit from the optimum connection speeds and reliability.

Asus is making the EA-AC87 available in May 2015, having set a recommended price tag of €159.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

BIOSTAR Reveals Hi-Fi B85Z5 Motherboard

BIOSTAR revealed their latest motherboard and this time it is an Intel B85 based one. The new Hi-Fi B85Z5 ATX motherboard has the LGA1150 socket and support for the 4th generation Core i7 and i5 processors as well as up to 32GB RAM.

As the name suggests, this motherboard also comes with BIOSTAR’s hi-fi features for enhances sound with built-in double amplifier and Blu-ray support. Blu-ray provides higher audio output than most typical motherboards in this section, so this is nice to see. The double Hi-Fi integrated AMP allows users to enjoy the same sound quality no matter what port they use, the front or rear.

It is built with 100% solid capacitors and super durable ferrite chokes for durability and efficiency and comes with business-ready SBA features. Intel Small Business Advantage delivers security protections such as after-hours virus scans, data backup, Intel’s smart Connect, as well as detecting and blocking unwanted USB drives.

The BIOS comes with online update feature which is a really handy feature. No need to boot into an OS and download a file, all you need is to enter your BIOS and update. Other features include Intel RST, Super LAN Surge protection, BIO-Remote2 and Charger Booster.

The new BIOSTAR Hi-Fi B85Z5 comes with an MSRP of $89, but no word on when it will be available yet.

Thanks to BIOSTAR for providing us with this information

 

Netis WF2415 300Mbit Wireless N Gigabit Router Review

Introduction


Today I’m taking a look at the Netis WF2415 300Mbps Wireless N Gigabit Router. A simple approach, but one that looks like it offers anything you could want in a normal home.

The Netis WF2415 offers wireless N speeds up to 300Mbps as well as full Gigabit transfer speeds on all RJ45 ports, including the WAN port. It also has a WPS button for ease of use and connecting your wireless devices to your network.

Four Gigabit LAN ports should be enough at most times and it’s rare to see more. The WF2415 can act in a variety of modes such as AP, WDS, AP+WDS, Client and Repeater; this makes it pretty much universally usable. The mounting system allows you to hang the router in any direction. A simple but clever approach and one that works each time. The two 5dBi high gain antennas are fixed and can’t be removed or replaced – at least not easily.

Inside the router, we find a Realtek RTL8198 SoC processor specifically designed for use with routing as well as the Realtek RTL8192CE highly integrated single-chip MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) Wireless LAN (WLAN) solution.

While nothing of this blows our mind, it sounds like a solid choice in a basic router – one that could easily satisfy the needs of most people.

 

BIOSTAR Announced TA70U3-LSP FM2+ A70M Motherboard

BIOSTAR has released the latest mainboard based on their exclusive A70M chipset from AMD, the TA70U3-LSP. The ATX sized motherboard is FM2+ based and comes with USB 3.0, SATA 3 and built in LAN Surge Protection among others.

The motherboard supports dual and quad core FM2+/FM2 processors, A-series, and E2-series processors and up to 32GB DDR3 RAM.

It has one PCI-E x16 3.0, two PCI-E x1 2.0, and three PCI expansion slots as well as six SATA connectors, one USB3 and two USB 2 headers. Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 channel audio are also part of the deal. The TA70U3-LSP supports AMD Dual Graphics Technology and also has support for full HDMI 3D 1080p.

The LSP of the product name stands for Lan Surge Protection and that is done by adding extra integrated chips directly into the board to strengthen electrical stability.

 

 

Like all motherboards, it comes with a long list of exclusive features. BIOSTAR offers their SmartSpeedLan, ChargeBooster, BIO-Remote, BIOS malware protection and recovery. It’s also built with 100% solid capacitors.

No word on pricing or availability yet. But since they say it is released, it’s only a matter of time before it arrives at retailers around the world.

Thanks to BIOSTAR for providing us with this information

NZXT DOKO PC Streaming System Now Available & You Can Win One!

DOKO is a PC streaming device that connects to your network and allows you to easily use your PC in the comfort of your living room. Run office software, stream limitless media content and play PC exclusive titles – or in other words, do anything and everything your PC can do, anywhere in your home.

Most current PC streaming technologies come with limitations due to pre-defined settings and you’re limited to pre-set media channels, file formats, limited applications and proprietary technologies. The DOKO is using a Gigabit Ethernet connection to offer 50-80ms low latency 1080p 30fps streaming with unparalleled compatibility. It also has four USB ports with USBoverIP technology so plugging in a USB device to the DOKO is like plugging it into the PC.

DOKO sounds like it could give the perfect multimedia experience with no need for another HTPC or media device. If your PC can do it, so can DOKO. It is available now for $99.99 plus shipping at the NZXT Armory Store.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0JczOJmq3c

NZXT is also hosting a little giveaway to celebrate the launch, but it’s ending soon. All you have to do to participate is to like a couple Facebook pages and follow a couple Twitter feeds and you’re in it to win one of three DOKO PC Streaming Devices.

In case you’re hooked for more information, we will be having a review ready for you soon.

Thanks to NZXT for providing us with this information

Razer Forge Brings a New Level of Gaming to the Living Room

Razer announced the Razer Forge TV earlier last year but didn’t really reveal too many details other than it being an Android-based system designed for the living room. During CES, we got all the latest details of this high-performance Android TV micro-console that will bring both hardcore PC gaming and Android gaming into the living room. The new gaming ecosystem consists of the Razer Forge TV micro-console, Razer Cortex: Stream software and two Bluetooth peripherals, the Razer Serval, and the Razer Turret.

The quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB Flash storage inside the console should be enough to enjoy all the games you can find in the Google Play store on the big screen, and with up to four players. The Serval controller seen above is a Bluetooth gaming controller with four action buttons, two thumb sticks, trigger, and bumper buttons, but also comes with a phone clip to directly attach a mobile device. It can remember four device pairings, making it easy to switch between devices as well as having Android control buttons.

The Razer Cortex game launcher will be getting a streaming feature during spring time this year. That in return will provide ultra-low latency PC gaming with up to full HD resolution on the new console. It is compatible with any DirectX 9 and above software and works with both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. No need to build an extra gaming PC for the living room anymore and no limitations like on the Nvidia Shield that only works with Nvidia GPUs.

But a game controller might not be the best choice for every game, actually it’s only good for very few when looking from a PC gamers point of view. Razer of course knows this and created the Turret, a wireless gaming mouse, lapboard, and keyboard unit. You’ll get a full gaming keyboard with anti-ghosting, a magnetic board that prevents the mouse from sliding down and a 3500 DPU ambidextrous mouse. The whole thing connects wireless via Bluetooth 4.0 LE or Wireless 2.4GHz to ensure lag-free gameplay as well as keep up compatibility with as many devices as possible.

“Razer Forge TV is a device that is able to bring together the most popular elements of an entertainment center,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “It powers popular music and movie apps and plays Android TV games that an entire family can enjoy. For the hardcore gaming audience, it will bring PC gaming to the couch. Razer Forge TV is what we see as the future of consoles.”

Specifications:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
  • Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU – 2.5 GHz per core
  • Adreno 420 GPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB storage
  • Bluetooth 4.1 + HS
  • Wireless 802.11ac 2X2
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB 3.0
  • HDMI 1.4 output
  • DC Power
  • 105 mm Width x 105 mm Depth x 17 mm Height

The console will be available for €99.99 or in a combination with the game controller for €149.99. The Serval controller will set you back €79.99 on its own and you’ll have to spend €129.99 for the Razer Turret lap-keyboard. The software is free if you buy any of these devices, otherwise it will set you back €34.99. Availability for all is set to Q1 2015, so the wait won’t be long.

Thanks to Razer for providing us with this information

Biostar Announce Latest Quad-Core Powered Mini-ITX Motherboard

As the name suggest, this is the second motherboard from Biostar using the J1900 Celeron CPU. We’ve seen the low profile version a little while ago, and now Biostar has unveiled the more versatile version for home theatre use. They also say that gaming shouldn’t be a problem on it, but I suspect they don’t mean top titles in full details.

The on-board quad-core J19000 Intel Celeron processor runs at 2 GHz and has a burst up to 2.41 GHz. It has 2MB L2 Cache and uses a max of 10 watts. The iGPU runs at 688 MHz base and has a maximum frequency of 854 MHz with support for DirectX 11 and HDCP. The motherboard supports two DDR3 SO-DIMM modules up to 1333 MHz up to 8GB, allowing for a total of 16 GB RAM.

Connections wise this tiny board has a lot to offer; it has two SATA2 ports and headers for printer, serial and USB 2.0 connections. It also has 2 system fan connectors if the passive design should run too hot for you or you just want to be on the safe side. The IO panel has separate PS2 connectors for keyboard and mouse and four USB 2.0 ports. It also has a single USB 3 port for the high-speed file transfers. The RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port is powered by the RTL8111G and the on-board 5.1 sound is powered by the Realtec ALC662 Audio chip. It has both HDMI and VGA output to allow for older and newer hookups, and the motherboard also has a single PCI-Express x4 connector for further extensions with add-on cards.

The 1900NH2 also features two things I find awesome; the first is the Moisture-proof PCB design that allows you to use it in very humid places such as coastal and rural areas or outside-kiosks. Besides the moisture-proof PCB design it also has Electrostatic Discharge protection (ESD) against accidental electricity charges from user’s touching areas of the board or when connecting and disconnecting devices such as flash drives.

Being a Biostar motherboard it also supports the SmartSpeedLAN software for QoS and uses the solid eXtreme Durable Capacitors (X.D.C). It also has the newest BIOS version that allows for direct online updating and it supports the BIO-Remote2 for remote control via Android or Apple devices. The motherboard is available and sells for £62.95 on Amazon among other popular retailers.

Thank you Biostar for providing us with these information

Images courtesy of Biostar

ASUS Z97I-PLUS (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Since the popularisation of mini-ITX motherboards a few years ago (if I remember correctly they took off with the Intel 6 series chipset) the price of mini-ITX motherboards has been falling sharply. However, combined with that falling price has also been rising quality, increasing innovation and more features – particularly with ASUS mini-ITX motherboards. Irrespective of which motherboard vendor you prefer it would be fair to say ASUS have driven a lot of the mini-ITX innovation over the past few years. Today we’re looking at the culmination of some of this innovation, but for a respectably low price of just $160. Enter the ASUS Z97I-PLUS which is one of the new ASUS Z97 motherboards that has ingenious ways of taking advantage of all the great features we’ve come to expect from a fully fledged PC. ASUS have managed to cram M.2 on the board by moving it underneath, they’ve added a WiFi AC and Bluetooth 4.0 module, equipped four SATA III ports, included fairly high quality ALC 892 audio and offered up the latest Intel Gigabit LAN. Despite the motherboard’s size you still get a fully fleshed out rear I/O and an impressive 6 phase VRM. On paper the ASUS Z97I-PLUS looks like a very impressive Z97 mini-ITX motherboard so let’s proceed on with our review to see what the product and its performance has in store for us!

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship selling point of the ASUS channel series is the quality of the motherboards: this is clearly denoted in terms of compatibility, reliability and protection mechanisms.

Moving round to the back of the box and we can see the specifics of those claims made on the front. If you’re looking for even more details you can find those on the product page right here

Included with the motherboard is well laid out and presented user guide, a driver and software DVD and an ASUS case badge.

The accessories include the wireless antenna for the AC module with connecting cables, two SATA cables, a labelled black rear I/O and a revised version of the “Q connector” which is essentially an extension cable for the front panel connectors.

Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Biostar aren’t a brand of products we review that often as their main presence is within the Asian market, however, every now and then we do get a motherboard from them which they are targeting towards the Western market. Today is one of those rare days as we are looking at Biostar’s primary Z97 offering, the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE. This motherboard is Biostar’s attempt at making a well spec’d motherboard for a very affordable price, as they are well-known for doing. The motherboard comes with an impressive 10 phase VRM, dual Gigabit LAN (a massive rarity at this price point), a range of PCI express connectivity, M.2 and high quality audio. The specifications are certainly nothing to scoff at when you consider the MSRP of just $125 – this makes it only a fraction more expensive than cheaper H97 9 series motherboards. The styling of the motherboard may certainly be an “acquired taste”, however, the motherboard on the whole seems like an extremely feature packed and great value for money option. I have seen a lot of people discuss this motherboard as a “workstation” board, presumably because the “Z97WE” bares striking resemblance to the ASUS “Z97WS” which stands for workstation. However, from what I can tell this is not a workstation motherboard – this is an entry level Z97 motherboard aimed at a broad user which no particular preferences towards anything (aka it is not a gaming, overclocking or workstation motherboard but rather an “all-rounder”).

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging shows us Biostar are really pushing the audio side of things. This is of course something we will examine on our audio tests. The dual GbE is another one of the more unique features and certainly this will attract a lot of people especially as both ethernet controllers are physically identical and thus support teaming.

The rear details more of the features about the motherboard including the unique audio features. More details on all the features can be found at the product page here.

Included with the Hi-Fi Z97WE is a user manual, driver and utility DVD and an audio usage guideline brochure.

The accessory pack is fairly basic with a rear I/O and four SATA cables.

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


There are plenty of affordable Z97 motherboards on offer, in the UK they start from about £70-80 while in North America they can be had from about $110. However, these entry level Z97 motherboards tend to be fairly basic in their feature set, styling and specifications. If you’re looking for a gaming motherboard at that price point you simply won’t be able to afford one. The reason is that the Z97 chipset costs motherboard vendors quite a lot. However, H97 is a cheaper chipset so motherboard vendors can make a much higher quality H97 motherboard for the same price as an entry level Z97 motherboard because they have lower chipset costs so can afford to allocate more funds to other aspects of the board like buying better power components, better networking components, better audio components and so on. As a result gamers at the really budget price points are better off buying gaming motherboards that aren’t of the “flagship” Intel chipset. We saw this logic applied last year when ASRock released their Fatal1ty B85 motherboard for a a diminuitive £70~ and yet it contained all the “gaming features” of significantly more expensive motherboards such as a Killer NIC, high quality audio, XSplit gaming software and that typical gamer styling. Today we have something very similar to that based on the Intel H97 chipset, the Fatal1ty H97 Performance motherboard. This motherboard takes advantage of the cheaper H97 chipset to offer up a gaming motherboard at the very attractive price of $100, or about £75. If anything this board is quite a step up over the B85 Fatal1ty board from last generation coming with more CPU VRM phases, an improved audio design, Intel Gigabit LAN and more SATA III ports, all while being at a very similar price.

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging is nothing out of the ordinary for an ASRock Fatal1ty product, this board is very clearly positioned as a gaming product from the moment you look at the box.

The back details the key features of this motherboard, some of them seem a bit dubious to call “gaming features” such as Orbweb.Me cloud software or Super Alloy power components. I think ASRock would benefit more from focusing on things like the Intel networking and high quality audio as this is definitely something Gamers will find more alluring.

Included is a user guide, software user guide, ASRock Cloud setup guide, a driver/utility DVD and XSplit Broadcaster 3 month premium certificate.

The accessory pack is very basic: a plain unlabelled I/O shield and a pair of SATA cables. At this price point this is really to be expected.

ASRock Z97 Extreme6 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


ASRock’s Extreme series of motherboards offer a nice balanced and more well rounded alternative to their Fatal1ty series, which are geared towards gamers, and their OC Formula series, which are geared towards overclockers. For the past few generations of Intel motherboards the ASRock Extreme series has been renowned for its great balance of performance, features and value for money compared to rival offerings. Today we have a new Z97 board from the Extreme series looking to carry forward this good reputation. More specifically we have ASRock’s Z97 Extreme6 motherboard. This motherboard is quite exciting for the more productivity or prosumer style user. It offers up a ton of storage connectivity including two M.2 ports, a SATA Express port and 10 SATA III ports as well as eSATA. What’s more you get a range of PCI connectivity including mini-PCIe and you get dual gigabit LAN supporting wake-on-WAN functionality so you can use this as a home cloud or server. As if that wasn’t impressive enough there’s also 10 USB 3.0 and 5 USB 2.0 one of which is an internal port wired to the motherboard. You also get a debug LED and onboard buttons as well as high quality Realtek ALC1150 based audio and 12K rated capacitors with a 12 phase VRM for the CPU area. This motherboard literally has it all and it comes in at a staggeringly low price of just $170, about £125-130.

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship feature is ASRock’s Super Alloy power implementation as well as their Ultra M.2 port which uses x4 Gen3 PCI speeds instead of x2 Gen2 PCI speeds found on the normal M.2 port.

The rear of the motherboard has the usual marketing sheet detailing all the features and specifications of the product.

Included in terms of documentation is an ASRock Cloud guide, quick installation guide/user manual and software setup guide as well as the driver and utility DVD.

Accessories include the rear I/O shield which is colour coded, four SATA III cables, the HDD saver SATA power cable, a 2-Way SLI bridge and three screws (2 for the two M.2 ports and one for the mini-PCIe port).

ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


We’ve covered an absolute ton of Intel Z97 based motherboards since the chipset launched back on June 11th, a couple of weeks ago, but in that time we’ve yet to see an offering from ASRock. Today, and over the coming weeks, we will be rectifying that by having a look at a lot more motherboards from ASRock’s Z97 series. Up first we have their Fatal1ty Z97X Killer motherboard which is part of their Fatal1ty gaming motherboard product series. Interestingly this motherboard will compete with MSI’s Gaming 7 and Gigabyte’s Gaming 7 in that hugely competitive sub-£140/$190 price point and it actually comes in a fair amount cheaper than the competition at just £125/$160. ASRock are equipping all their usual features with this motherboard such as their Purity Sound audio implementation, their Fatal1ty USB gaming port, their Super Alloy power components and a Killer E2200 gaming NIC. This motherboard has fairly similar specifications and features to other motherboards at this price point although this board does have the advantage of offering SATA Express and M.2 whereas a lot of the gaming motherboards at this price point offer only M.2. Full specifications of this motherboard can be seen directly below:

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging lets the Fatal1ty branding take centre stage while offering an overwhelming number of logos on the front that denote features, brands, software and so on.

On the back we can see these explained in more detail with the usual motherboard marketing page we’ve come to expect from all motherboard brands.

Included in terms of documentation is a a couple of user guides for the board and its software, an explanatory brochure for the ASRock Cloud feature, a driver DVD and case badge and a 3 month premium license to XSplit Broadcaster (note this is not the same as the XSplit Gamecaster Premium license a rival vendor includes with their products).

Other accessories included are four SATA cables, a colour coded rear I/O, 2-way SLI bridge, SATA power cable for the HDD saver feature and a screw for the M.2 SSD port.

The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220


Introduction


There may be a lot of people like myself who have missed the “NAS bandwagon” and have made do with other fragmented storage solutions up until now: multiple storage drives on different devices (laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones) with the gap being bridged between those multiple devices through space restricted cloud storage (Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive) or portable storage (flash drives, external hard drives, SD cards). However, there has to be an easier way to unify all your storage needs – and that’s what today is all about. Like many of our readers I am a technology enthusiast – I like to get hands on with things and do it myself rather than just buying pre-built solutions that often hold a significant price premium. Therefore, what better way than to get involved with the NAS (Network Attached Storage) craze than to build your own! Your own centralised cloud storage, fileserver, storage server, media centre or whatever else you want to do with it – how cool is that? And despite what people may tell you, or even what your own preconceptions are, building a NAS has never been easier. There’s a wealth of affordable hardware out there and more importantly an abundance of free software to help you configure your own NAS setup.

The aim of this guide is quite a simple one – to take you through my personal experiences with building a 6-Bay capable NAS within a strict budget of $220 using FreeNAS. Why $220? Well I wanted to build a 2 disk NAS box capable of streaming media and storing all of my files for the lowest cost possible, but I also want the scope to be able upgrade to 4-6 drives in the future. A quick search on somewhere like Newegg will show you that 4-Bay diskless NAS systems start from $300 and range all the way up to $700, so I wanted to better those NAS systems and do it at a lower cost. I am only a home user (like most of you will be) so I really do not need loads of advanced enterprise features and technologies – I just need a reasonably fast NAS server capable of meeting my storage and media needs. Enter today’s build which I believe meets all of those criteria at a hair under $220. This build was an interesting one as we independently chose all the parts for our NAS guide that we wanted to use and then went to the companies to see if they were interested in sponsoring our build guide. A few weeks of planning later and here we are – so a huge thank you goes out to AMD, ASRock, Kingston Technology, SilverStone Technology and Western Digital for providing the parts to our NAS build guide. At just $220 this diskless NAS has the potential to scale up to six hard drives and offers a variety of RAID configurations as well as support for on-chip transcoding. So without any further ado let’s introduce all the details of our $220 NAS system, we will start by analysing the parts we chose: how much they cost and why we chose them.

Compulab’s AMD-powered Fit-PC4 Brings Performance In A Small Fanless Case

Compulab, the Israeli-based system builder, has just announced the addition of the fourth generation Fit-PC, having been built on the nettop platform. The Fit-PC4 is composed out of two variants, the Fit-PC4 Value, and the Fit-PC4 Pro.

The Fit-PC4 Value model is powered by an AMD A4-1250 APU, with a manageable 8W TDP to speak of, while the Fit-PC4 Pro model runs a more powerful AMD GX-420CA Quad-Core SoC, with Radeon HD 8400E graphics.

Both the Fit-PC4 Value and Fit-PC4 Pro have two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots which can hold up to 16 GB of memory, an mPCIe+mSATA 6 Gb/s slot, an internal 2.5-inch drive bay with SATA 6 Gb/s interface, and a micro-SDXC card slot. The case dimensions consist of 16 cm x 19 cm x 3.7 cm for the Pro and a more compact 16 cm x 16 cm x 2.5 cm for the Value.

In terms of connectivity, both models include two HDMI 1.4a ports with 7.1-channel digital audio streams and a TOSLINK SPDIF 7.1-channel digital audio output. Networking includes two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces on both variants, having a 802.11 b/g/n WLAN with Bluetooth 3.0 on the Value model and a 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 on the Pro model.

The Compulab Fit-PC4 Value is said to have a price tag of $299, while the Compulab Fit-PC4 Pro is going to be priced at $380. Both models should be available at retailers in most countries, however Compulab’s Fit-PC website should provide more detailed information on availability.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of NextPowerUp