Netgear has launched their latest consumer router and it is a really nice one. The R6400 is an AC1750 Smart WiFi Router designed to offer great value and features the latest technology for bandwidth and range.
The R6400 AC1750 Smart WiFi Router comes with three powerful external antennas, high power amplifiers, and Airtime Fairness that prevents throttling by slower devices, combined with implicit and explicit Beamforming to boost the router’s WiFi performance at long range. It can perform up to 80 percent better than the previous generation which is quite a nice accomplishment.
The router comes with two USB ports for easy drive and printer sharing. One is a USB 3.0 port that is located on the front while the other is a legacy USB 2.0 port that is located on the rear. It is a full Gigabit-Ethernet router with both Gigabit WAN and four Gigabit LAN ports.
The dual-band AC1700 router is backwards compatible will all previous wireless standards and also supports 802.11 a/b/g/n devices. The combined bandwidth goes up to 1750Mbps thanks to the 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and the 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band.
VPN networks aren’t any problem either with this router and it also supports Netgear’s genie app that allows you to remotely connect and manage your router. The MyMedia feature enables you to find and play your stored media files from anywhere on your network to your Chromecast connected TVs, DLNA-ready TVs, and music system. You can also make any printer AirPrint compatible for printing from an iPad or iPhone. The ReadySHARE Vault is another free software that takes automatic backups of incremental changes on all PCs in your home network and saves them to a USB drive connected to the router. The AC1750 Smart WiFi Router is also compatible with Apple Time Machine for automatic Mac backup.
The NETGEAR AC1750 Smart WiFi Router is available now worldwide from major retailers in stores and online, at an MSRP of $149.99 USD.
Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.
RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v
SSD:User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
GPU: Integrated –Intel HD Graphics
LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
Warranty: 1 Year
Printed materials that the CI321 comes with
The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.
When it comes to finding a decent-spec notebook you will be overwhelmed with options. If you’re after something slim and stylish you’re likely to be stung for a hefty premium by Apple, Sony, Samsung and so on. If you’re after something with a decent amount of CPU and GPU horsepower then you’re likely to be dragged into the depths of gaming notebooks (like those made by ASUS, MSI, Alienware and so on) even if you don’t want to game. So where do you go if you’re looking for something in between? Something that has style and is fairly slim but still has a fair amount of performance to allow you to be productive and game? Well PC Specialist are always a good place to start because you can customise just about any base notebook to have anything you want. Today we have a mid-range PC Specialist Cosmos II notebook in for testing and it looks like an epic all-rounder. With a dual core Haswell Core i5, an Nvidia GTX 850M 2GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSHD it has a great balance of performance, functionality and most importantly value. The design may be a little plain-Jane for the style conscious notebook buyer but if you’re happy for simplicity then this could be the ideal notebook for you. Below you can see the specifications of our PC Specialist Cosmos II notebook as we have it configured. You can change and configure just about every aspect of the Cosmos II if for whatever reason you need more or less of something.
Wireless: Intel N135 802.11N 150mbps and Bluetooth
Monitor: 15.6 inch matte Full HD LED widescreen (1920 x 1080)
Peripherals: Integrated chiclet-style keyboard and 2 button touchpad-mouse
OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Warranty: 3 Year (1 month collect and return, 1 year parts, 3 years labour)
Price: £697 including delivery and VAT as configured. (Pricing links on final page of review)
Packaging & Accessories
PC Specialist are no strangers to building and shipping systems and notebooks to customers so I wasn’t surprised to see our review sample come in virtually bomb proof package. Not only is the notebook box well protected inside another outer box, but you also find the notebook comes with more foam protection inside the inner box.
The notebook box comes with a convenient carry handle, if you ever need to move all the parts around or send it back to PC Specialist for repairs then you should definitely keep hold of this.
Included is a 120W AC adapter, 5600 mAh battery, UK power plug, a user guide, a driver & utility DVD and a Nero12 essentials trial version disc.
The included adapter is manufactured by Chicony Power Technology and is good for 120W of output which is required for this notebook.
The required battery provides 62.16 watt hours and is Lithium-Ion.
ASRock has announced its Anniversary Edition of motherboards, the Z97 and Z97M, following the Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258. One of the key features of the aforementioned motherboards is the “Pentium Anniversary Edition” technology, making overclocking easier for users.
The manufacturer is said to have specifically designed the motherboard with overclocking and Intel’s Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258 CPU in mind, being able to access the Pentium Anniversary Boost by hitting “P” when turning the PC on. From there, the feature is said to help the user automatically overclock the CPU from 3.2 GHz to a maximum of 4.2 GHz.
In addition to the overall overclocking feature, ASRock’s Z97 and Z97M Anniversary Edition motherboards are said to provide even more kick out of the Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258 CPU. A clock speed of 4.5 GHz can be easily achieved, having a performance boost of 40%. However, users can also go for the 4.8 GHz limit, where an additional 50% performance boost should be noticeable.
Other features present on the motherboards consist of “Super Alloy” technology for the Z97 in order to provide more stability and reliability, along with Intel’s Gigabit LAN and ELNA Audio Caps. The Z97M is said to come with ELNA Audio Caps as well, along with various video outputs, such as D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI, supporting a Triple Monitor configuration.
Intel’s Z87 chipset may be aimed at high end consumers and power users but the reality is the majority of people who use the Z87 chipset don’t need as much connectivity as is offered by most of the really high end motherboards. In fact a substantial portion of Z87 users will only have a single graphics card, a couple of storage devices and maybe 4-5 USB devices at the most. That’s where today’s product steps in – the ASRock Z87M Extreme4 motherboard. This motherboard comes in the micro-ATX form factor with a more basic, but still sufficient, array of connectivity. SATA and USB connectivity has been dropped to the bare minimum provided by the Z87 chipset and the PCIe connectivity is optimised for consumers with only a few PCIe devices. Of course it has a competitive price to match this reduction in connectivity and for most consumers the Z87M Extreme4 will still have more than enough connectivity to meet all their needs. High speed memory support, high quality audio, an 8 phase CPU VRM and a UEFI BIOS give this entry-level Z87 motherboard all the high end features most consumers want. Below you can see those specifications more in-depth:
ASRock is offering consumers a broader range of functionality than you’d get from your bog-standard motherboard. ASRock’s new “Home Cloud” feature makes use of the advanced Intel Gigabit LAN to offer you remote desktop support from anywhere with internet access. With ASRock’s Home Cloud you can access all your files, emails, documents or just keep an eye on your PC if someone else is using it.
ASRock are also flaunting their advanced sound implementation of Realtek’s ALC1150 codec which includes 7.1 channel HD audio, a 115 dB SNR DAC with differential amplifier, a Texas Instruments 5532 premium headset amplifier, an EMI shield and PCB isolation shielding.
As with most motherboard vendors ASRock offer (and market) many more features than I could possibly cover in this review so if you want to check out the full range then be sure to do so right here.
Gigabyte’s range of Z87 motherboards have already been a big hit with system builders. In particular two motherboards from that series that we checked out – Z87X-UD3H and Z87X-UD4H which we reviewed here and here – have been very popular. Gigabyte’s series of Z87 motherboards have struck a real chord with those who care about aesthetics but Gigabyte’s motherboards have also impressed with their drive towards higher audio quality and very aggressive pricing.
Today we have a motherboard from Gigabyte that falls slightly below the Z87X-UD3H but still retains that same styling and a relatively high-end feature set for a Z87 motherboard. The raw specifications of this Gigabyte Z87X-D3HP motherboard we have here aren’t that dissimilar from the MSI Z87-G43 motherboard we reviewed recently except this motherboard has a much stronger focus on aesthetics and better connectivity. For a mid-range Z87 motherboard the Z87-D3HP has everything a single GPU system builder could need thanks to Gigabyte’s decision to add abundant connectivity – PCI, extra USB 3.0, Intel (not Realtek) Gigabit Ethernet and 8 channel audio. As with all Z87 motherboards you get the natively provided six SATA III ports and PCIe 3.0 X16 link. Other PCIe connectivity is provided via the Z87 chipset such as a PCIe 2.0 X16 (x4 electrical) slot and a pair of PCIe 1X slots. Below you can see a detailed specification summary:
Intel’s NUC has spawned a new generation of mini PCs. We recently took a look at the Next Unit of Computing (NUC) from Intel and we found it to be a very impressive unit but was marginally let down by components lacking performance, a high price tag and a missing wireless module. Gigabyte’s BRIX looks set to take on two of those major flaws in Intel’s new reference NUC platform as they have opted for a Core i5 and have included a wireless module.
Today we are reviewing the Gigabyte GB-XM11-3337 BRIX which is like Intel’s NUC except Gigabyte have redesigned the chassis, changed the I/O, changed the BIOS and opted for some higher spec hardware. While Intel’s NUC measures in at 1.55 inches thick Gigabyte’s BRIX is much smaller at 1.18 inches thick. In fact the Gigabyte BRIX is just a generally more compact unit than Intel’s NUC. Furthermore the wireless module is included as standard and USB 3.0 has been added too. Finally there is a DisplayPort and HDMI instead of two HDMI meaning you have slightly more flexibility when it comes to display outputs.
Additionally the main change comes in the form of the CPU. The Intel NUC we reviewed had a dual core 1.1GHz 32nm Sandy Bridge based CPU whereas this Gigabyte BRIX uses an Ivy Bridge 22nm i5 3337U processor that has 2 cores and four threads at 1.8GHz stock and 2.7GHz turbo. It also supports more memory bandwidth at up to 1600MHz compared to the 1333MHz on the Intel NUC we looked at that had a Celeron 847. Finally it also boasts Intel HD 4000 graphics which aren’t going to play any games that well but are still a huge leap forward over the graphics part of the Sandy Bridge ULV processors like the Celeron 847. However, this comes at a cost as the Core i5 3337U has a tray price of $225 which is more than the entire Intel Celeron 847 based NUC system costs – straight away we know this isn’t going to be cheap but let’s see how much performance this device offers.
Below you can see the full specifications of Gigabyte’s BRIX GB-XM11-3337 system and without any further ado we will now proceed through the rest of this review.
Intel’s NUC, or next unit of computing, platform is a refreshingly new idea. Essentially what Intel have created is an ultra compact PC standard that they want to be the future of computing. Measuring in at just 12 by 11 by 4cm the Intel NUC is an impressive small standardised computer that is capable of more than you might expect. Since low power and small Intel CPUs have come quite a long way since the days of quite mediocre “nettop” Atom systems, such as a couple we reviewed a while ago based on the Atom D525, we have great expectations for the Intel NUC. The Intel NUC joins a rather crowded market place for small form factor systems and faces competition from Zotac’s ZBox and Sapphire Edge PCs.
However, the NUC’s similarities with its competitors end there because what the NUC platform does is try and carry over that high level of performance we’d expect to see from a desktop PC – or at least it should do better than its Atom based counter parts that other hardware companies are selling. Intel’s NUC is going to be available with Celeron, Pentium, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Also since the NUC is a reference platform, we will see Intel partners able to create their own versions such as the Gigabyte BRIX we saw at Computex.
In any case the Intel NUC is the starting point of a drive towards smaller form factor everyday PCs. Today we have with us Intel’s “DCCP847DYE” NUC and that means it is running a rather modest ULV Celeron 847 Dual Core 32nm Sandy Bridge based processor running at 1.1GHz with no hyperthreading and 2MB of L3 Cache. You can see more detailed specifications of this particular NUC model directly below:
Without any further ado let us progress and take a look at Intel’s brand new NUC platform.
It isn’t very often that a networking product gets me excited, but when I first saw D-Link’s Gaming router back last year I was very impressed. Since then Apple’s new Mac Pro has been released, and I am slightly worried about the resemblance, but that aside the D-Link DGL-5500 looks like an excellent piece of networking kit.
To give it some premium wireless it has 802.11 AC WiFi that allows for up to 1300 Mbps wirelessly and it is based on Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac technology. Furthermore D-Link have integrated something they call StreamBoost which is essentially a packet optimisation process that allows you to prioritise the applications you want in a way that prevents lag, it is supported by dynamic “traffic” management. Furthermore to ensure all your profiles stay with you D-Link offers cloud based storage of your network profiles, this also keeps your router up to date in terms of new firmware/software.
Finally it features the well known WPS push button connect feature and has four Gigabit LAN ports. The new D-Link gaming router will be available from Newegg for $199.99 soon. The estimated date that customers will get shipped these routers is around the 1st of August.
With the launch of Haswell comes the launch of new mobile processors, and Haswell was really designed from the ground up to be a processor for the mobile market. Gigabyte are taking advantage of this brand new architecture from Intel with a whole cluster of new notebooks. We will bring the details of all of these to you and first up is the Gigabyte U35F notebook. This notebook is powered by Haswell with an option for Core i5 or Core i7 models of your choice. Gigabyte are choosing to provide either a full HD 1920 by 1080 display or a 1366 by 768 display for the more budget conscious consumer. The U35F notebook comes pre-fitted with either 4 or 8GB of DDR3 SODIMM RAM and supports a maximum of 16GB of RAM.
Nvidia Optimus technology allows the graphics to switch between Intel HD 4400 Graphics and Nvidia’s GT 750M. There is an option of a 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSD as well as a 500/750/1000GB hard drive. A DVD-RW is provided as well as two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, an SD card reader, Gigabit LAN, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 to top off the extensive connectivity options.
A six cell 68.82 watt-hour battery is provided and should have impressive battery life given Haswell’s new power saving technologies for the mobile market. The total weight of this notebook is 2.3KG. No pricing or availability has been announced yet.