FreshTech Solutions Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

FreshTech Solutions is one of the leading system integrators in the UK and forged an impressive reputation for their huge range of pre-configured PCs. Whether you’re on a tight budget looking to try out PC gaming for the first time, or a content creator seeking the absolute best performance, there’s something to suit your requirements. Each PC is backed by generous warranty period and it’s even possible to purchase additional cover for further peace-of-mind. For example, on systems costing £1000 and above, you can increase the warranty length from 3 years to 5 years for £25. If you’re opting for a cheaper rig under the £1000 mark, then it’s possible to select three years cover for £25 and five years support at a cost of £50. This level of flexibility allows you to protect your investment for a period which you expect to use the system for.

When selecting a custom PC, the number of configurations and pricing variation means it’s extraordinarily difficult for novices to judge which model to go for. It’s not always a sensible approach to spend more if you’re unlikely to reap the benefits. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of custom PCs from FreshTech Solutions that we are happy to recommend at various price points. Hopefully, our readers will find this useful and those without technical knowledge can make an informed decision about which unit suits their usage scenario.


£529.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6400
  • 8gb Crucial DDR4 2133MHz
  • 120gb Kingston V300 SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • Nvidia GTX 950 2GB
  • Gigabyte H110M-S2H
  • Falcon Blue Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour)

The first machine we’re taking a look at targets consumers on a very tight budget who want to enter into the Intel ecosystem. While you could compile a cheaper build using an AMD CPU and AM3+ motherboard, it doesn’t offer much headroom in the future if you suddenly demand additional horsepower. The majority of games are GPU bound but there’s some examples including ARMA III and more recently, Black Desert Online which rely heavily on a system’s CPU performance. This particular build features a large enough capacity boot SSD to install the operating system and enjoy a snappier feel in Windows.

Also, the GTX 950 2GB graphics card is a great choice for 1080P gaming providing you turn down a few settings. On another note, the lack of overclocking isn’t an issue at this price and won’t impact on the user experience during graphically intensive games. Ideally, I’d recommend paying extra for the next tier, but this is a great choice for beginners moving away from consoles for the very first time.


£699.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 960 2GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Blue Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next system which retails for £699.00 offers overclocking functionality due to the unlocked K processor and Z170 chipset. Furthermore, the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 contains an illuminated LED strip on the PCB to create a more ostentatious appearance. This higher end model includes the GTX 960 2GB GPU to maintain improved frame-rates at higher settings. It’s a significant boost over the GTX 950 and worth considering given the constant influx of modern titles requiring additional graphical grunt. Of course, it’ s still a budget option and pales in comparison to higher end graphics cards, but it should provide an enjoyable user-experience with a 1920×1080 display. Also, the boot SSD’s higher capacity allows you to store your favourites games and benefit from faster load times.


£899.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • WD 1TB WD10EZEX HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair CX600 80Plus Bronze PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Red Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next tier’s system costs £899.99 and has a number of key improvements including a secondary mechanical hard disk, 16GB RAM and GTX 970 graphics card. When discussing the previous systems it’s important to remember that I’d recommend adding a mechanical drive to store large sums of data. This allows you to easily install various games while ensuring the boot SSD doesn’t fill up rather quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t increase the asking price by an exponential amount. On another note, the 16GB memory is useful when working with video, photo editing and other complex workloads. It’s not really necessary in games just yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if 16GB becomes the standard in the next few years.

NVIDIA’s GTX 970 offers absolutely stunning performance even with a 2560×1440 monitor and can exceed 60 frames-per-second in various titles including the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. It’s unquestionably one of the best price to performance GPUs on the market and a suitable choice for a powerful gaming system.


£1049.00

 

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K Tested Overclock to 4.6GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • Seagate 1TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Falcon Gaming Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Moving towards the higher end market is a system which retails for £1049.00. This model contains a higher wattage power supply and Corsair water cooling unit to attain better temperatures. Furthermore, FreshTech Solutions guarantees the system will reach 4.6GHz and tests each overclock extremely carefully. This will be incredibly useful to consumers who feel apprehensive about overclocking their CPU and haven’t got any experience in this field. They really shouldn’t be concerned because the process is ridiculous simple. However, whenever anything goes awry, it’s important to have an excellent level of after-care support.


£1599.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i7 6700K Tested Overclock to 4.5GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 500GB SSD
  • Seagate 2TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

The £1599.00 system swaps out the i5 6600K for Intel’s enthusiast flagship i7-6700K on the LGA1151 chipset. Once again, FreshTech Solutions guarantees an impressive minimum overclock to reach significant gains compared to stock values. Also, the 500GB SSD is a great addition which allows you to install various applications without constantly checking on the remaining capacity. The system is housed in the highly regard Fractal Design R5 chassis which creates a more premium feel. Clearly, the main improvement revolves around the GTX 980Ti and is a major step up when compared to the GTX 970.

Even though the GPU isn’t capable of running games at maximum details on a 4K display, it’s able to really reach high figures on a 2560×1440 or 3440×1440 monitor. If you want to improve the performance even further, it’s possible to add a second GTX 980Ti due to the power supply’s 750 watts rating. The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 motherboard supports USB 3.1, SATA Express, multi-GPU configurations and opts for a superb audio solution. Once combined, this offers an absolutely staggering user-experience.


£1938.00

Specification:

  • Intel Core i7 5930K 3.50GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz
  • 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Seagate 2TB Hard Drive
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte X99-SLI
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Up to this point, we’ve focussed on the consumer LGA1151 chipset which offers great value for typical desktop tasks. Unfortunately, the platform only supports up to a 4-core 8-thread CPU. This severely limits the computational power during multi-threaded workloads. As a result, many professionals opt for 2011-v3 powered systems because they can leverage extra performance using 6-core or even 8-core processors. The next system totalling £1938.00 utilises a hex core processor with 40 PCI-E lanes and a 2TB hard disk.

Not only that, the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe boot drive is capable of an astounding maximum read of 2500MB/s and maximum write reaching 1500MB/s. This allows games to load faster and helps to process huge 4K video projects in a more efficient manner. Of course, this elite-grade PC opts for the best possible hardware including the GTX 980Ti and Gigabyte X99-SLI motherboard. This means you can have a powerful workstation and play demanding games in your leisure time.

If you’d like us to review any of the systems mentioned above, please let us know in the comments section below.

Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 Graphics Performance Analysis

Introduction


Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.

DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.

Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.

Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.

Nvidia Reportedly Stopped Maxwell GM204 and GM200 Production

Winding down production of a soon to be discontinued product is industry standard practice. When you see production of current models cease, that’s when you know the next generation is just around to corner. Two weeks ago, we brought you news that Nvidia may have stopped GTX 980Ti production. Now it seems that Nvidia has also ceased production of 2 other Maxwell-based GPUs in preparation of Pascal.

According to HWBattle, both of the GM204 based GPUs are no longer being supplied to AiB partners. This means the GTX 970 and 980 will disappear off store shelves sometime between the next 2 months given a normal logistics situation. At the same time, this means the replacements for GM200 and GM204 are well on their way and may arrive within 2 months as well. This is perfect for the late May launch at Computex.

As we’ve reported before, the replacements will be the 3 GP104 chips that will be called GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060Ti. These are the GP104-400, GP104-200 and GP104-150 respectively. Furthermore, the usual practice of launching reference cards first followed by custom ones will not be followed by the GTX 1070. Instead, the custom cards will launch at the same time as the reference models. With Computex just around the corner, we’ll all find out soon what GeForce Pascal truly is like.

Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.

Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800
  • Case: Game Max Destroyer Windowed
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Processor: Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III
  • Graphics card: Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: N/A
  • Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
  • Price: £889.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.

Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.

The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.

Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.

Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.

The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.

In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.

Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.

 

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

OCUK Offers Free SSD with ASUS GTX 970 Graphics Cards

Who doesn’t like to get free stuff? And especially when it is something as sweet as a solid state drive. That is what you currently can get, at least if you purchase one of the participating ASUS GTX 970 graphics cards at Overclockers UK.

For a limited time, and as long as stock lasts – as always – you can get a Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB solid state drive for free on top of the Nvidia based GTX 970 graphics card that your purchasing. It isn’t just some cheap SSD either as it comes from Kingston’s HyperX division. The 7mm slim 2.5-inch SSD delivers a solid performance, and for free, who can complain. You still get the bundled game Tom Clancy’s The Division on top too, making this a very good deal for a well-performing graphics card.

Speaking of the graphics card, the first of the two participating ASUS graphics cards are the GTX 970 DirectCU II OC Strix with 4GB GDDR5 memory, a core clock of 1141MHz, and a boost clock up to 1253MHz. The second card is the GeForce GTX 970 Turbo OC which also comes with 4GB GDDR5 memory, but a slower clock speed. The Turbo OC has a core clock of 1088MHz and a boost clock of 1228MHz.

Which of the two cards you pick for your setup is based on optical preference, amount you want to spend, and probably more things too – but it is safe to say that both are great graphics cards where you get a lot of bang for the buck, especially considering the extras you get in this deal. The DirectCU II OC Strix will set you back £299.99 while the Turbo OC will cost a little less and set you back £275.99.

Will you be picking up one of these deals? And if, which of the two cards will you go for. Let us know in the comments.

Gladiator Computers APOCALYPSE Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Aria is one of the leading technology retailers in the UK and stocks a huge range of components from luxury 21:9 3440×1440 monitors to extremely affordable pre-assembled gaming PCs. Their custom PC range falls under the GLADIATOR brand and aims to provide an enthralling gaming experience while offering superb customer satisfaction. Clearly, any system is a considered purchase, and it’s vital to have your initial investment backed by a comprehensive warranty. Thankfully, Gladiator supports their builds with a 4-year labour and 1-year parts guarantee. This level of service is often a key selling point for consumers without any hardware experience and feel overwhelmed by the almost endless combination of component choices.

Today, we’re taking a look at the GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE which targets a very reasonable price of £749.99. I’d describe this as a mid-range system and caters to someone with expectations of a fluid framerate at 1920×1080. Around the £800 mark, it’s essential to prioritize the graphics card and make concessions on the CPU without it becoming a bottleneck. This is because the majority of modern game engines are GPU bound, and the benefits from enhanced CPU performance is fairly minimal in comparison. NVIDIA’s GTX 970 is currently the most popular graphics card among Steam users, and for good reasons. For example, the GPU offers a fantastic price to performance ratio and remains exceptionally cool under extreme load. As a result, I’m pleased to see this particular graphics card in the GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE and expect it to perform superbly on a 1080P display.

Specifications

  • Name: GLADIATOR APOCALYPSE
  • Case: AeroCool Aero-800 Windowed Midi Tower
  • Motherboard: ASUS Z170-E
  • Processor: Intel i5-6400 2.70GHz Quad Core Skylake CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Evo
  • System Memory: 8GB DDR4 3000MHz – Corsair Vengeance LPX
  • Main Boot Drive: 1TB Seagate Barracuda SATA III Hard Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): N/A
  • Graphics card: ASUS STRIX NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB GDDR5
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 Challenger 600W 80+ Certified
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn DVD Re-Writer
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: Not Included
  • Warranty: 4 Years Labour, 1 Year Parts
  • Price: £749.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is delivered in a humongous outer box which offers outstanding protection against accidental damage. On the top, some durable fragile tape is used to instruct the courier to adopt a gentle approach when handling the item. One slight area for improvement revolves around the lack of side handles. This makes it quite difficult to lift especially in tight spaces.

Once opened, there’s an ample supply of packing peanuts to cushion the chassis box and prevent it from moving around during shipment. I was thoroughly impressed with the quantity of packaging materials, as it emphasizes the company’s attentive approach.

Here we can see the main chassis box containing a plastic cover and two thick polystyrene supports. As a result, the chance of cosmetic damage occurring is exponentially reduced.

The secure foam insert surrounds key components and keeps them firmly in position. I cannot emphasize enough how important these foam packs are because without them it’s possible for cables to become dislodged. Furthermore, it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities that a heavy GPU could droop and snap during transit. Thankfully, the foam pack holds up it upright and adds a great deal of structural support.

In terms of accessories, the system comes with the original packaging and documentation for each component. There’s also driver disks, a setup leaflet, attractive lanyard and UK power cable. The setup leaflet is fantastic and instructs beginners to remove the supportive foam before connecting the power cord.

That’s not all though because the package includes a CPU installation tool, spare parts, and screws to connect an M.2 SSD.

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GPU-Z

Rise of The Tomb Raider Recommended NVIDIA GPUs Revealed

The original Tomb Raider reboot scaled remarkably well across a wide range of hardware configurations and still provides a good indication of GPU performance. Nixxes Software, who worked on the PC version, has gained a great deal of respect for being one of the best in the industry when it comes to optimization. Thankfully, the studio was given the contract for Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I cannot wait to see how it performs on various setups. This time, the game is supported by NVIDIA and included when you purchase a GTX 970 or above from participating stores. Furthermore, this also applies if you buy a GTX 970M or above gaming notebook. NVIDIA also revealed the recommended specification to attain 60 frames-per-second at 1080P and 1440P. Here is a brief description of the testing methodology:

“With further testing, our technical marketing team concluded that a 60 frames per second average during this particularly demanding scene, on the High-detail preset, delivered the best balance between graphical fidelity, input responsiveness, and performance in all of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay locations and cutscenes.”

“In our Rise of the Tomb Raider test there are only a few momentary spikes, and none above 25 milliseconds, there are no periods of spiking between low and high frametimes, almost all of the benchmark is below 20 milliseconds, and much of it is at, around or below 16.6 millisecond, the 60 FPS sweet spot. In other words, the GeForce GTX 970 not only delivers a High level of graphical fidelity at over 60 frames per second, it’s also super smooth with no stuttering or stalls, giving you a fluid, responsive gaming experience.”

As you can see from the image below, NVIDIA recommends a GTX 970 to maintain 60 FPS at 1920×1080. Please note, this is on “high settings” and we’re currently unaware if this is the best preset. On another note, 1440P gamers should be utilizing a GTX 980 Ti to attain 60 frames-per-second at that particular resolution. Sadly, there’s no information regarding 4K or 21:9 setups.

Rise of the Tomb Raider looks phenomenal so far, and has some fairly hefty system requirements. Hopefully, the game supports SLI on launch and doesn’t encounter any major issues on AMD graphics cards. Once the game is launched, we should be conducting a through performance analysis at various settings and resolutions.

EVGA Releases AIO-Cooled GeForce GTX 970 HYBRID GAMING

Cooler is better and that isn’t a motto that’s just relevant to the top of the line graphics cards, it’s something that applies to all models throughout the ranks. Those who are in the market for a new GeForce GTX 970 powered graphics card and at the same time want something that runs as cool as possible, they should take a look at the just released EVGA GeForce GTX 970 HYBRID GAMING graphics card. The new graphics card comes with an all-in-one liquid cooler as well as a blower fan for optimal cooling and without the hassle of installing an aftermarket cooler yourself.

Without the trouble of mounting aftermarket solutions, tubing and filling, the EVGA GeForce GTX 970 HYBRID GAMING is pure plug and play like any other graphics card. The only difference is that you’ll also need to mount the 120mm radiator with the fan to the chassis.

The AIO solution is utilizing a pure Copper Base heatsink for optimal cooling and maximum heat transfer. You also get a card with a virtually silent operation as the fans won’t have to work as much as traditional cooling solutions and thanks to the variably controlled fans on both the graphics card itself and on the radiator.

The cooling solution is very effective and the card will hover around 40 degrees during maximum load usage, which is quite nice compared to the up to 90 degrees seen on reference cards.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 970 HYBRID GAMING graphics card has 1664 CUDA Cores, a base clock of 1140 MHz and a boost clock of 1279 MHz. It comes with 4GB GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit memory bus and clocked at 7010MHz. The card is also ready for up to 3-way SLI setups.

eTeknix 2015 Christmas Buying Guide – Treat Yourself or Someone Else!

The time for holiday festivities is almost upon us and as the modern tradition of consumerism continues to grow, it becomes harder and harder to pick the right gifts for people every year, or perhaps it’s just me who struggles? Either way, we’ve sat around a Christmas fire, or just a general fire in November and December, getting into the gift buying state of mind and picked a range of our favourite products which we’ve reviewed here at eTeknix throughout 2015, as what better products to recommend than the ones we’ve had in our own hands and tested!

We’ve got a huge range of budgets covered here today, although I think it’s fair to assume that given we play around with graphics cards and a lot of enthusiast friendly products, there are some real wallet busters here too. Of course, you can use this guide to find some of the best products of the year to treat your family, friends and more, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t just spoil yourself too!


Rock Band 4 Band in a Box

Get ready to rock out this Christmas and no doubt many other days. Pick up the guitar, drum sticks, or just butcher your favourite song on the microphone. Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box is a fantastic gift and it’s a great thing to deploy at parties too, certainly beats the usual Karaoke chaos! It comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99. To save costs, the standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, while the guitar and game is just £109.99.

Check out the full review here.


Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Chassis

The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Mid-Tower chassis is by far my favourite chassis of 2015, it just oozes high quality inside and out, with capabilities for high-end water and air cooling and so much more. It is available from Overclockers UK for £139.99 and is available in both Gun Metal and black.

Check out the full review here.


Raijintek Styx Micro-ATX Aluminium Chassis

What a fantastic little chassis this is! Built from beautifully finished brushed aluminium and available in a wide range of colours, this would make a great gift for someone building a new gaming system this Christmas. The Raijintek Styx chassis is available from Overclockers UK for just £64.99.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Silent Base 800 Chassis

Another expensive chassis on our list, but one of the best we’ve seen this year. If you’re wanting to build someone, or yourself, a gaming PC that not only looks great but is as silent as you could ever hope for, the Silent Base 800 Window is the way to go. It is available from most popular retailers for 149,90EUR/119 GBP/149,90 USD ex. VAT.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Strafe RGB MX Silent Red Mechanical Keyboard

Featuring the innovative Cherry MX Silent Switches, the Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is simply amazing to use. It’s packed full of features and is by far the quietest mech we’ve ever tested. A little expensive, but I’m sure anyone would be happy to unwrap this at Christmas. The Strafe is available for £139.99 from Overclockers UK, while the MX Red and the MX Brown are priced at £129.95. If you want the non-RGB version, you can find the MX Red and the MX Brown at £99.95 each.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Commander Gaming Gear Keyboard and Mouse Combo

The TteSports by Thermaltake Commander Keyboard and Mouse Combo is a great gift for Christmas, it’s affordable, has a nice range of features and you get a keyboard and a mouse in a single nice and tidy (and easy to wrap) box! With prices around £23.99 it’s hard to say no to such a great deal! Readers in the US can pick one of from Newegg for an equally impressive $29.99.

Check out the full review here.


CM Storm Quick Fire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

RGB mechanical keyboards are everywhere this year, but the XTi from Cooler Master is my personal favourite so far. It’s no-fuss and bold design is great for home and office, gaming or work, with the added bonus that it’s incredibly durable and has some of the nicest lighting tones I’ve seen so far, even if it does only allow for a mixture of red and blue! You can pick up the XTi from Box for just £134, although there’s also a deal that includes a free mouse here!

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse

The Gaming Scimitar RGB MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse is packed full of features that will put a smile on any PC gamers face. With RGB lighting, excellent performance and a customisable keypad on the side, it’s one of the best mice we’ve ever tested. better yet, it’s only £69.95 from Overclockers UK.

Check out the full review here.


Logitech G502 Proteus Core Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G502 is a prime example of how great a gaming mouse can truly be. This is without a doubt the best mouse sensor we’ve ever tested and the rest of the mouse isn’t exactly lacking in features either. I’d be tempted to buy this one for myself this Christmas, but you could always treat someone else with it too. It’s available directly from the Logitech website (with free shipping) for just £69.99.

Check out the full review here.


G.Skill MX780

A relatively new entry on the peripherals market, the G.Skills MX780 is a fantastic gaming mouse, with a switchable left or right handed grip that makes it ideal for a wide range of gamers. With a retail price of just $59.99 it is exceptional value for a Christmas gift, and given its spec, it’ll go head to head with many of the best mice on the market.

Check out the full review here.


Corsair Void Headset

We were absolutely blown away by the Corsair Void series, some of the best sounding, most comfortable and best-looking headsets we’ve ever seen! They would make a great gift, but be careful, if you try them out before you give them away, you may want to keep them. The Corsair Void USB 7.1 RGB Headset is available from Overclockers UK for just £79.99. This is £10 cheaper than the Wireless headset which is £89.99, I prefer the wireless and think it’s not much more to pay for the extra tech, but you’re own preferences will obviously determine which model you prefer.

Check out the reviews for the USB 7.1, Wireless 7.1 and 2.0 headsets here.


Astro A40 TR + Mix Amp Pro

Eager to get the best of the best gaming headset for you or your loved one? Then make no exception, the Astro A40 TR Headset with Mix Amp Pro is the way to go. This is one that’s sure to leave a dent in your wallet, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Available from the Astro store for £200, plus around £48 for the optional Mod Kit, the Astro is expensive, but the sound quality, features and comfortable fit are priceless.

Check out the full review here.


Crucial BX200 SSD

SSD prices are dropping constantly and there really has never been a better time to invest. If it’s for your own system, you can give yourself a great upgrade without spending a fortune, but the smaller drive sizes make excellent gifts to those who could do with a performance upgrade on their system. The Crucial BX200 comes with an MSRP of £234.49 ($299.99) for the 960GB model and £66.49 ($84.99) and £116.99 ($149.99) for the smaller 240GB and 480GB models, plus the small boxes are super easy to wrap up as a gift.

Check out the full review here.


QNAP TS-251 2-Bay NAS

Give the gift of a connected home this Christmas, from streaming your movies around the house, to backing up those important files, there are a lot of benefits to owning a NAS. Not the cheapest of gifts, but it’s one of those products where if you buy cheap, you’ll likely regret it in the long run. The QNAP’s TS-251 Turbo NAS can be found at NewEgg for $384.99, at Scan UK for £295.32, or through Geizhals starting at €284.

Check out the full review here.


Sapphire Nitro R9 380X 4GB Graphics Card

AMD have created a mighty powerhouse with the R9 380X and the Sapphire Nitro is one of the finest examples. It’s fast, sleek and affordable, more than enough power for 1080P ultra gaming, or 1440p high gaming, making it a great addition to anyone who wants the latest PC games for Christmas. The Sapphire Nitro R9 380X is currently available from OverclockersUK for £199.99. NeweggUS currently has this card listed for $229.99.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Graphics Card

Spend a little more, get a lot more, the GTX 970 is a superb card, but one that may be getting a little expensive for those looking for a Christmas gift. With enough power to play anything on the market and even delve into high-end resolutions, it’s a strong contender for something to put under the Christmas tree, or even put on your own wish list. The Gainward Phoenix GTX 970 is currently available in the UK from SCAN for £273.56 and for an estimated $360 in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 980ti 6GB Graphics Card

It wouldn’t be Christmas if we couldn’t all hope and dream, but the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti is currently one of the best cards on the market and we would be crazy not to suggest the best of the best. Available in the UK for the £599.99 it’s certainly not cheap, although we’ve seen some great deals bringing it down below £500, so it’s best to shop around. Just imagine the look on your partners face when they unwrap this monster on Christmas day!

Check out the full review here.


DDR4

Getting a little more back to reality and reasonable prices, DDR4 memory is dropping in price quite nicely now. It was super expensive at launch, but now you’ll often find DDR4 kits at equal or lower prices to their DDR3 equivalents. That makes them a great upgrade for Christmas, but make sure you have a DDR4 motherboard to go with it!

Check out our latest memory reviews here.


Shield Android TV

Snapped up a 4K TV in the Black Friday deals? The Nvidia Shield Console is the most powerful Android device on the market, and it’s the perfect media player for Plex, 4K content on Netflix and more. Even better, it’s also a very powerful gaming system, with many AAA games available to play, as well as game streaming features that will leave you wondering why this device doesn’t cost more than £149.99! You can buy the Shield TV and accessories directly from Nvidia here.

Check out the full review here.


Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S

Think someone could do with a cooling upgrade for their system, or perhaps even parts towards a new system build this Christmas? Treat them to an AIO water cooler and they’ll be able to reduce the noise from their system and unlock its overclocking potential! The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S is a little expensive, but it’s still a competitively priced AIO at just £81.98 and would make a great gift, especially if you’re just going to treat yourself.

Check out the full review here.


Alpenfohn Atlas

The Atlas is one of the coolest coolers we’ve seen this year, a tiny form factor with big performance and virtually silent acoustics. Building a system for someone or upgrading your own, this is one cooler you’ll want to consider and given that it’s available from Overclockers UK for a very reasonable £42.95, it’s another great addition to our buying guide.

Check out the full review here.


be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim

Need a premium cooler but don’t want to pay a premium price this Christmas? The be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim is more affordable, but still packs some impressive performance figures. It’s available from Scan.co.uk for just £30.52 + shipping here in the UK and from Amazon.com for $49.90 + $9.80 shipping in the US.

Check out the full review here.


Inateck Mercury Box Bluetooth Speaker

Love your music on the go, when you’re out at the park, or anywhere for that matter? The Mercury box offers up a huge sound from such a tiny box. Built from aluminium and featuring a waterproof design, it’s one of the best mobile speakers on the market, great for listening to music wherever you are! Available from Amazon.com for just $48.99 and readers in the UK can get it from Amazon.co.uk for £49.99.

Check out the full review here.


OnePlus 10,000mAh Mobile USB Power Bank

The perfect stocking filler, a 10,000 mAh mobile battery. This has enough juice to charge most mobiles several times, and it’ll even recharge high-end devices such as iPads with ease too. Perfect for travelling, and best of all, it’s super lightweight and affordable. The power bank is £13.99/$14.99/€15.99 and you can order it directly from OnePlus.

Check out the full review here.


Gaming Systems

Nothing says I love you like a kick-ass gaming PC. Of course, budgets vary wildly from hundreds to even thousands of pounds/dollars, but that’s the joy of buying a PC, or building your own, there’s so much to choose from! With so many awesome system integrators around these days, you can’t go far wrong. Chillblast, CyberPower, PC Specialist, Vibox, Freshtech or Overclockers UK.

Gaming in the living room? Why not invest in a CyberPower Syber Steambox! Prices start at £485 and go right up to £1905, giving you a great choice to suit your needs, and your budget.

A whole lot of gaming for not a lot of money from Chillblast, with their very competitive Fusion NightHawk, a great option for those looking for their first gaming PC at just £599.

Got a little more budget to play around with this Christmas? The super fast gaming systems from PC Specialist that feature ASUS Maximus VIII hardware also come with the gorgeous Gladius mouse! Systems in this category start at £890 for the i5 and GTX 960 model, all the way up to £1670 for the i7 and GTX 980 Ti.

Another mid-budget powerhouse, this time from Vibox with their Element X. At just £649, this MSI R9 380 and AMD FX-6300 powered computer is great for gaming and would make a great gift this Christmas.

Time to bring out the big gun’s and really treat yourself? Or perhaps you just want your friend or family member to open a present they’ll never forget? The FreshTech Solutions Stealth Gaming PC is an absolute beast, powered by some of today’s latest and greatest hardware. Of course, it’s not cheap at £1412, but this is not your run of the mill gaming PC.

Overclockers UK offer a range of gaming systems, and general day-to-day PC’s just like another other, but with the big advantage that they’re also a normal PC component retailer. If you want to build your own system, customise a build or pick a pre-built system, you’ll find lots to play around with here.

Check out our full range of system reviews here.

Early Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate GTX 970 Performance Revealed

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate’s PC release is imminent and scheduled for the 19th November worldwide. Compared to previous titles, this is a fairly brief delay and raises questions about the studio’s ability to create an optimized port. Back in August, Sam Kovalev, Studio Production Manager at Ubisoft Kiev proclaimed:

“We have introduced several new improvements to our production pipeline and validation process, which allowed us to focus on polishing, stabilizing and optimizing the PC version very early on in the project,”

“This has been one of the top priorities for the production team this year.” 

“The additional four weeks are for us to really bear down and finalize all of the polish and optimization, to make sure the game and all of its systems are stable when it launches, so it runs smoothly for all players starting on day one,”

Without trying to sound too cynical, PC gamers have heard similar promises before and experienced poor scaling across a wide range of hardware. Thankfully, just before release, a video has emerged which provides an insight into the game’s performance. The video was originally found by Twitter user @RobotBrush who was kind enough to share the technical analysis:

The test system in question revolves around a GTX 970 played at a resolution of 1920×1080. This is a fairly popular configuration among hardware enthusiasts and shouldn’t encounter any major problems when aiming for 60 frames-per-second. To test system performance, every setting was turned up to maximum and recorded with two pieces of monitoring software. MSI Afterburner and FRAPS were both used to determine GPU utilization and frame-rate. Although, having both of these running simultaneously might have impacted on performance.

Nevertheless, during indoor sections, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate hovers around the 40-45 frames-per-second mark which is pretty disappointing albeit playable. However, once the player moves to outdoor environments containing large crowds, the frame-rate suddenly drops to around 30 and can get as low as 23. Initially, I thought the dramatic change could be a result of low GPU usage, but the MSI Afterburner clearly shows 99% utilization.

Theoretically, the disappointing performance could be improved after a release-date patch but this is still not an ideal situation. Additionally, if a GTX 970 cannot attain over 30 frames-per-second in densely populated areas, how will 2560×1440, 3440×1440 or 4K users be able to reach a playable frame rate?

Cyberpower Zeus Mini EVO I-970 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Cyberpower is one of the most recognizable system builders in the industry, renowned for creating a huge array of stylish and unique builds. The company includes a 3-year warranty with every system as standard regardless of the specification or price. Additionally, Cyberpower utilizes their buying prowess to deliver astonishing prices which legitimately rival self-builds. Their adept design team spearheads the focus on unusual and distinctive custom PCs which look spectacular. This allows consumers to opt for something special instead of the traditional ATX form factor.

One perfect example of Cyberpower’s approach is the Zeus Mini EVO I-970 which features an Intel Core i5-6600K, 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM, MSI Armor OC GTX 970 and highly efficient Gigabyte Z170N-WiFi. This stunning setup is housed in a slim and portable Cyberpower Zeus Mini II mITX chassis. Other key specifications include a 120GB Kingston SSD boot drive, 1TB Seagate data disk and Corsair CX600M modular power supply. On another note, the CPU frequency is overclocked in a proficient manner and set to 4.2GHz. This is a significant boost from the base figure of 3.5GHz and should provide some impressive performance gains. Given the Zeus’ wonderful aesthetic design and excellent core specification, I expect the system to exceed its price point and offer a marvelous gaming experience.

Specifications

  • Name: Cyberpower Zeus Mini EVO I-970
  • Case: Cyberpower Zeus Mini II mITX Gaming Chassis w/ USB 3.0 Black
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WiFi ITX
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-6600K Quad Core 3.50 GHz 6MB Cache LGA1151 @ 4.2GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H55 Quiet Liquid Cooling
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2666MHz CL16
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300 SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate 7200RPM 64MB mechanical disk drive
  • Graphics card: MSI Armor OC GTX 970 + Bullets or Blades game coupon
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX600M 600W Modular
  • Peripherals: None
  • Monitor: None
  • Optical Drive: None
  • Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260
  • OS: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year Labour, 2 Year Parts, 1 Month Collect and Return plus Life-Time Technical Support
  • Price: £999.00

Packing and Accessories

Despite opting for a fairly compact design, Cyberpower dispatched the sample in a massive box which caught me by surprise. However, you can’t be too careful when trying to protect sensitive PC components.

The external packaging is surrounded by a huge quantity of airbags, which cushions the accessory box and main chassis. This is splendid and ensures the system arrives without any mechanical damage or cosmetic flaws.

Here we can see how small the chassis is and standard packaging. Notice how there’s no buckling to the cardboard sides or tape coming apart. This illustrates how well the system has been protected and I’m very happy with Cyberpower’s attentive approach.

On the inside, there is some heavy-duty bubble wrap, a protective cover and flexible foam inserts. These combine to reduce any damage if the system is dropped or mishandled.

In terms of accessories, the PC contains user manuals, driver disks, WiFi antennas, SATA data cables, additional SATA power cable, UK plug and chassis stand. I personally didn’t feel the need to use the stand, but it helps to keep the system upright on certain surfaces.

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Just Cause 3 PC Ultra Footage Revealed

Just Cause 2 is one of the PC’s greatest open world adventures and features explosions, exploration and chaotic gunplay. The developer, Avalanche Studios is renowned for making absolutely stunning PC games which run superbly on a wide range of hardware. After a lengthy development period, Just Cause 3 is finally on the horizon and adopts a gorgeous visual style. If the game runs anything like Mad Max, then the performance should be flawless.

Gamersyde managed to record a hands-on preview during Paris Game Week. Interestingly, the footage is from the PC version running on Ultra and looks remarkably smooth. Additionally, the system used to capture the video contained an i5 processor (no more details on the exact model) and GTX 970. The game was probably running on a 1920×1080 display so it’s unknown how well the engine will scale to much higher resolutions.

Whatever the case, it’s great to see the game running so well on a modest setup. For those of you interested in picking up Just Cause 3, CDKeys currently has it on pre-order for the absurdly cheap price of £19.99. Once again, the value proposition of PC gaming comes into force when you factor in the price of day one mainstream titles.

Are you looking forward to Just Cause 3?

Overclockers UK Evolution Envy Mini Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Overclockers UK is an established player in the hardware retail sector and provides a stellar customer service through approachable team members and impeccable communication on the site’s official forum. The company’s highly adept team of engineers produces a wide array of custom PC builds to suit varying budgets and contrasting tastes. OCUK decided to send the Evolution Envy Mini Gaming PC for review purposes which features a substantial upgrade compared to the basic model.

This particular configuration includes an Intel Core i7-4970K, 8GB DDR3 2400 MHz RAM, NVIDIA GTX 970, MSI Z97I AC ITX motherboard, 120GB Samsung SSD boot drive, 1TB Samsung SSD data drive and ultra-reliable SuperFlower HX 550W 80+ gold power supply. The CPU has been manually overclocked to a frequency of 4.5 GHz and remains relatively cool due to an Asetek-designed-240mm closed-looped-liquid cooler. OCUK combined this wonderful array of components in a portable form-factor which makes it the perfect LAN event PC. Although, it will be fascinating to determine if the restricted space causes any issues during stressful benchmarks.

Specifications

  • Name: Overclockers UK Evolution Envy Mini Gaming PC
  • Case: Phanteks Evolv ITX Windowed Gaming Case – Black
  • Motherboard: MSI Z97I AC (Socket 1150) ITX Motherboard
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K Quad Core Processor Overclocked to 4.5 GHz
  • Processor Cooler: OCUK Techlabs 240mm AIO Liquid Cooler with Noiseblocker Fans
  • System Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2x4GB) PC3-19200C11 2400MHz Dual Channel Kit
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung 120GB 850 EVO SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Samsung 1TB 850 EVO SSD
  • Graphics card: KFA2 GeForce GTX 970 OC Silent “Infin8 Black Edition” 4GB
  • Power Supply: SuperFlower HX 550W 80+ Gold Rated PSU
  • Peripherals: None
  • Monitor: None
  • Optical DriveNone
  • Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260
  • OS: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year (24 Month Collect and Return plus 12 Month labour) Mainland UK and Ireland Only
  • Price: £1321

Packing and Accessories

The Evolution Envy Mini comes in a surprisingly large box given the chassis size which contains two thick cardboard layers held together by banded wires. This ensures the package remains protected during transit as it’s virtually impossible for the box or its contents to become dislodged.

Once the cardboard layers have been removed, we can see the main chassis alongside strong, protective foam. OCUK also employed durable side supports to enhance the box’s net weight and increase the packaging’s stability. Please note, the retail version is complete with component boxes but this isn’t included on press samples as the packaging is easily lost among other samples.

On another note, the system is bundled with a comprehensive setup guide and tasty selection of Haribo sweets. The setup manual is excellent and explains in clear, concise English how to attach your peripherals. It also gives an indication about fault checking and advises when to contact customer support.

Here we can see the main chassis box which provides a good amount of padding to reduce impact during shipping. Thankfully, OCUK’s attentive approach with the outer packaging kept the chassis cosmetically and mechanically sound. In theory, they could have got away with just sending the item in a chassis box, but avoided this due to damage concerns.

The chassis box contains a precautionary message informing you to retain the packaging for RMA purposes. This is very clear, and in bold writing so it’s impossible to throw away the original packaging without prior notice of OCUK’s return procedure.

After the top seal has been broken, we can see the tightly packed case which features two supporting foam blocks and a large cover. I didn’t encounter any rips on the cover whatsoever which signifies the chassis was well protected and didn’t fall victim to any cosmetic marks.

The foam supports are surprisingly thick for an ITX-size case and constructed from remarkably strong material. As a result, I found it difficult to bend or snap the supports despite applying a significant amount of force. This means, the chassis withstands a lot of punishment and offers enough protection against even the most heavy-handed couriers.

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AMD Radeon R9 Nano Benchmarks Revealed

AMD’s official marketing material surrounding the upcoming R9 Nano has been released and makes bold claims about being “The fastest Mini-ITX Card”. Recently, we reported on the confirmed technical specifications of the R9 Nano which features 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM. This means the R9 Nano utilizes Fiji’s full core but in an incredibly small form factor without the need for water cooling. Interestingly, AMD appears to be targeting ITX versions of the GTX 970 and their leaked press release suggests the R9 Nano is 30% faster.

However, the benchmarks were recorded at 4K resolutions and it’s important to remember that the GTX 970 isn’t really geared towards this resolution. Furthermore, the furore surrounding NVIDIA’s 4GB VRAM implementation can cause issues at huge resolutions. On another note, there’s no specific information regarding what settings were used which can easily skew the final results. As always, it’s wise to take any marketing benchmarks with a pinch of salt.

Aesthetically, the GPU is gorgeous and adopts a more premium design compared to ITX varients of the GTX 970. There’s no denying how appealing the R9 Nano is to system builders looking for an attractive and portable LAN rig.

The press documentation provides information about the Dual Vapor Chamber and overall cooling solution. By default, the card is clocked at 1000MHz, and I’m interested to see the operating temperatures under full load. Does the Fiji chip require a liquid-based GPU cooler to reach its full potential? Another factor to take into account is price, as the GTX 970 retails between £230-330 depending on the aftermarket model and offers an incredible price to performance ratio. HBM is expensive, and in low yields, so can AMD realistically get close to this price?

Do you think the R9 Nano is powerful enough or have too many concessions been made?

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

EVGA Announces Pro SLI Bridges V2

EVGA announced today that it was launching a line of SLI bridges that will help to bring a bit of style and class to your SLI setup. The new bridges are for two, three, and four way SLI with a back-lit white EVGA logo on black and it is shrouded with aluminum.

The standard ribbon and bare PCB bridges that are normally supplied by board makers often leave those with windowed cases wanting something more elegant. Nvidia came to market with some earlier nice black and aluminum bridges within the last year and they did great, so obviously EVGA is wanting to get in on that market and came up with their own design. No word currently on pricing and the release date is “coming soon”, but you can bookmark the webpage to keep watch for the release.

Next Generation Features:

  • Separate models to support 2-Way (Short), 2-Way (Standard), 3-Way SLI or 4-Way SLI.
  • High pixel clock design optimized for 4K+ and 120Hz+ gaming.
  • EVGA logo illuminates on select GeForce GTX graphics cards.
  • Compatible with all SLI enabled graphics cards.
  • Looks super awesome!

Compatibility:

SLI functionality works on all SLI enabled graphics cards. LED functionality works on the following cards:

  • All EVGA GTX TITAN graphics cards.
  • All EVGA GTX 980 graphics cards.
  • Select EVGA GTX 970 graphics cards.
  • All EVGA GTX 960 graphics cards.
  • All EVGA GTX 780/780 Ti graphics cards.
  • Select EVGA GTX 770 graphics cards.

ASUS to Release White GeForce GTX 970 Turbo

Asus is releasing a rather fine-looking modified NVIDIA GTX 970 in white with red accenting. Though information is limited, we know that the card will use a blower-type cooler, non-reference display connectors (two DVI, an HDMI, and DisplayPort), and likely a modified PCB.

Despite its bad reputation after the VRAM allocation scandal, the GTX 970 is still a popular graphics card, especially since it has no direct competition from AMD.

Asus teased the GPU on its PCDIY page, promising more information to come soon.

Source: VideoCardz

OcUK Titan Pandora Gaming System Review

Introduction


It’s system review time at eTeknix HQ and today Overclockers.co.uk step into the arena with their Titan Pandora Gaming PC. Housed in a Bitfenix Pandora case we have a high-end i5 4690k overclocked to 4.2GHz, Nvidia GTX 970,  16GB of DDR3 with a clock speed of 2133MHz.  There is a double 240mm AIO CPU liquid cooler and a Galax GeForce GTX 970 EXOC Black Edition featuring an impressive 11% overclock. On the storage front, we have Samsung’s latest SSD offering in terms of the 250GB 850 EVO, with a larger amount of storage supplied in the form of a Seagate Barracuda 2TB mechanical hard drive.

Gaming systems at this price point have become very competitive recently, so let’s get stuck in and see what else the Titan Pandora has to offer!

Specifications

  • Name: Overclockers UK Titan Pandora
  • Case: Bitfenix Pandora Micro ATX Gaming Case – Black
  • Motherboard: MSI Z97M Gaming (Socket 1150) DDR3 Micro ATX Motherboard
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K Quad Core Haswell Processor overclocked to 4.2GHz
  • Processor Cooler: 240mm CPU Water Cooler
  • System Memory: 16GB 2133MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 8GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Seagate 2000GB 7200RPM Hard Disk – 6Gbps
  • Graphics card: Galax GeForce GTX 970 EXOC Black Edition
  • Power Supply: Super Flower 550W Gold PSU
  • Optical DriveNone
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year Warranty with 2 Years Collect and Return (UK only)
  • Price: £1300 as configured Delivered.

Opening the box reveals plenty of air pocket padding; just what we like to see.

Words from the wise greet you as you open the case box, take heed!

The system unboxed, now to remove the polystyrene, pop the side off (no screws required) and remove the supplementary packaging that has been supporting the cards in transit.

The unboxed system is looking good! The first thing I noticed is that it feels very well made with its mirror finish front, though it seems to attract dust and fingerprints almost instantly.

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Inno3D Announces iChill GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970

Inno3D announced their new iChill Black Series Accelero Hybrid S graphics cards with a hybrid air and liquid cooling based on the GTX 980 and GTX 970. The all-in-one solution has a 200% the cooling performance of the stock cooler while operating 9 times quieter.

The liquid cooler takes care of the GPU and comes with a 120mm fan for the radiator while an active fan cools the RAM and VRM on the card itself. Hassle free liquid cooling for your graphics cards, something more and more people are looking for. Inno3d’s new cards also come with an aesthetic black back-plate and also support multi-SLI setups with its two headers.

iChill Black GeForce GTX 980 Specs:

  • CUDA cores: 2048
  • Base Clock (MHz): 1304
  • Boost Clock (MHz): 1418
  • Memory Clock (MHz): 7280
  • Memory Size (MB): 4096
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface Width: 256-bit

iChill Black GeForce GTX 970 Specs:

  • CUDA cores: 1664
  • Base Clock (MHz): 1228
  • Boost Clock (MHz): 1329
  • Memory Clock (MHz): 7280
  • Memory Size (MB): 4096
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface Width: 256-bit

Thanks to Inno3d for providing us with this information

Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Today we are looking at the aggressively named “Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Devil’s Canyon Gaming PC”, featuring a Corsair SPEC-03 chassis on the outside, with a high-end i5 4690k, Nvidia GTX 970,  16GB of DDR3 on the inside and a few high performance coolers in between. Chillblast have even thrown in a tasty CPU overclock to help us hit the high notes and have opted for the traditional OS SSD / Mechanical HDD storage configuration to give the user more options when it comes to storage.

At a time when certain delayed AAA titles are on the horizon, many will be looking to upgrade their rigs to play the latest and greatest games at maximum graphics settings. The question is, is the Barbarian worth considering for your next upgrade? Let’s find out!

Specifications

  • Name: Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Gaming PC
  • Case: Corsair SPEC-03 Case
  • Motherboard: Z97X-Gaming 5  Motherboard
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K Devils Canyon overclocked to 4.3GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Corsair H75 all-in-one liquid cooler
  • System Memory: 16GB Corsair/Crucial/Samsung PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 8GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Seagate 2000GB 7200RPM Hard Disk – 6Gbps
  • Graphics card: Gigabyte GTX 970 4GB Maxwell Windforce Edition
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified PSU
  • Optical Drive24x SATA DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 5 Year Warranty with 2 Years Collect and Return (UK only)
  • Price: £1163.78 as configured Delivered.

The system was well packaged, with what can only be described as “cardboard ghillie” padding.

Chillblast has included the Motherboard and Graphics card boxes too, which contain all of the misc leftover bits.

The system unboxed.  The front of the case reminds me of the mask Bane from Batman, with its exaggerated front grille bars and bold styling.

Across the top of the case we have 2 x USB3, headphone and mic ports, with power and reset buttons.  Underneath is a bar which lights up red when the system is powered on, and the HDD activity LED sits in the middle of the I/O panel.

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GPU-Z

Many UK Vendors Now Accepting GTX 970 Returns

While NVIDIA sits on its hands over the GeForce GTX 970 debacle, vendors across the UK and Germany have started accepting returns of the product from customers who are unhappy with the graphics card.

NVIDIA has been accused of falsely advertising the capabilities of the GTX 970 card – sold as carrying 4GB memory, but allocation problems mean that only the first pool of 3.5GB is readily accessible – and many customers are unhappy.

Overclockers in the UK and Caseking.de in Germany have said that they will accept returns of the graphics card if customers are dissatisfied. Anyone interested in returning their GTX 970 has until the end of February to do so.

Source: KitGuru

MSI Celebrates 100 Million Sold Nvidia GPUs with Limited Edition Card

MSI has already sold more than 100 million Nvidia GPUs and to celebrate that milestone they’re launching a new limited edition graphics card, the GTX 970 GAMING 100 Million Editon.

The new card comes with a green-themed TwinFrozr V and is the third colour choice you’ll get for this base card on top of the default black and red and the gold-themed we saw not long ago. Otherwise, the card looks to have the specifications as the normal version, which by the way, is an amazing card. MSI has also revealed that the cards will be shipped with a special gift, but wouldn’t reveal more at this time.

Update: Since the article was written, the card has started to be listed at different shops around the world as pre-order. Overclockers UK is one of them where this Limited Edition card can be yours for £319.99 inc VAT. Estimated time of arrival is set to January 23rd.

Thanks to MSI for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of MSI

EK Releases ASUS GTX 970 Strix Full-Cover Water Block

If you have picked up one of the great ASUS Strix GTX 970 Graphics cards, or plan to, you might enjoy the news that EK WB introduced the new Full-Cover water block designed and engineered specifically for ASUS Strix series GTX 970 graphics cards and is called the EK-FC970 GTX Strix.

The new water block has been co-developed with ASUS’ ROG engineering team to achieve the best possible solution to cool the GPU, RAM and VRM as well as allowing the card to remain stable even under high overclocks. The EK-FC970 GTX Strix water block also features EK central inlet split-flow cooling engine which also works flawlessly with reverse water flow and without adversely affecting the cooling performance.

The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of either POM Acetal or acrylic. As with all EK WB products, screw-in brass standoffs are pre-installed and allow for safe and easy installation.

An aesthetic retention backplate will also be available in both black coloured and nickel versions. Not only will it look great but it will also aid to cool the backside of the PCB.

All these water blocks are made in Slovenia, Europe and are readily available for purchase through the EK Webshop and resellers now for an MSRP of €108.95.

Thanks to EKWB for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of EKWB

eTeknix 2014 Christmas Tech Buying Guide

Christmas time is almost here and as we wrap up warm over winter, we’re also wrapping up on a year of incredible products here at eTeknix HQ. We’ve had hundred of reviews this year, but no doubt many of you are eagerly writing your letters to Santa, or at least dropping hints to your parents, partner or friends for what you want for Christmas. Of course, there’s no doubt a fair few of you who are eager to treat themselves to something cool this Christmas. We’ve scratched our heads and had a really good think about what some of our favourite bits of technology are from this last year, and if you’ve still got some money left after the manic Black Friday sales, perhaps some of these products will be perfect for you.

While I admit that I couldn’t fit all of our favourites onto this list, its certainly a killer list of great products and they’ve all won awards from us here at eTeknix for one reason or another. If you’re after a headset, a chassis, a new keyboard, graphics card, or other cool gadget, you’ll find something that’s right for you in our guide.


Astro A38 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Astro A38 headset really stood out for me, not only is it one of the more stylish looking headsets I’ve ever reviewed, but the sound quality is nothing short of incredible. They’re a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for and Astro have yet to create a product that was anything less than stunning. They’re a perfect gift for yourself or someone else and ideal for those who love to listen to music and play games on the go, and the wireless technology and NFC pairing makes them very user friendly.

Check out our full review here – £144 from Astro Gaming


NZXT H440 Mid-Tower Chassis

A great PC deserves a great chassis and the H440 is certainly one of my all-time favourites. It’s not the biggest, and it may not even be the best chassis ever, that much is subjective, but it’s certainly got a lot of great features.  From the PSU shroud that helps keep cable management looking neat and tidy, to the comprehensive set of dust filters, thick sound dampening material lined panels and the large side panel window; you’ll find a lot to love about this chassis.

Check out our full review here – £89.99 from Overclockers


Thermaltake Core V71 Full Tower Chassis

Not all chassis’ are created equally, the Core V71 packs an incredible range of features that make it an ideal choice for high-end systems. The Thermaltake Core V71 looks great, but the real magic comes from its extreme flexibility. It has class leading radiator and fan mounting support and there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to build a stunning air-cooled system thanks to its array of 200mm pre-installed fans, or an incredible custom water cooling loop thanks to its modular interior. If you need extreme performance without spending crazy amounts of money, this chassis needs to be at the top of your list.

Check out our full review here – £131.34 from CCL Computers


Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard

Treating yourself to a high-quality mechanical keyboard is a solid investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, but their overall build quality and performance goes a long way to justifying the cost. The NovaTouch TKL isn’t your average mechanical and features something called Hybrid Capacitive Switches that offer a truly premium and luxurious typing experience. If you want to treat your fingers to a more enjoyable typing experience, try out this keyboard!

Check out our full review here – £149.99 from Overclockers


Zowie FK1 Gaming Mouse

I have yet to use a Zowie mouse that wasn’t impressive and the FK1 is by far one of their best. While this mouse only offers minor revisions over its previous model, such as a slightly larger body and an improved sensor, it’s performance is second to none. It’s ambidextrous, has one of the best performing sensors available, great ergonomics and a stylish design. If you’re serious about your gaming and want something that offers eSports levels of performance, then you’ll love what the Zowie FK1 has to offer.

Check out our full review here – £49.99 from Overclockers


Nvidia Shield Android 5.0 Gaming Tablet

Mobile gaming is something that never really excited me, but Nvidia have really pulled out all the stops with their Shield Tablet. It’s powered by the incredibly powerful Tegra K1 graphics chip and it’s one of the fastest tablets on the market. It recently received an update that added the latest Android 5.0 operating system, as well as enabling Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service and all this comes on top of features like in-home game streaming, 4K video output, wireless controller support and a whole lot more. The Shield Tablet is easily one of the most versatile portable on the market.

Check out our full review here – from £239.99 at Overclockers


Nvidia GeForce “Maxwell” GTX 970 Graphics Card

Nvidia are on our list once again, first they dominate the mobile gaming market, now they’re showing their worth once again in the desktop GPU market. While we admit that the GeForce GTX 980 is an incredible graphics card, you’ll not be disappointed by their GTX 970 as it offers most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much more affordable price tag. This card is packed with the latest features, it looks fantastic and for gaming, it’s one of the best cards you can buy right now. If you want to welcome your computer into the world of high-end PC gaming, this is a great place to start.

Check out our full review here (Asus Strix GTX 970) – from £247.99 at Overclockers


Asus Rampage V Extreme LGA 2011-3 Motherboard

Intel really set a new standard for PC performance this year with the launch of their consumer X99 chipsets. It’s not a cheap upgrade right now, but a new support for the latest high-end CPUs, DDR4 memory and a wave of new features make this motherboard perfect for the enthusiast and professional markets. The Asus Rampage motherboard series has long been a popular choice and the V Extreme is certainly one of the best available right now.

Check out our full review here – £329.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Z97X Gaming5 1150 Motherboard

Extreme motherboards are one thing, but they’re a little out of the reach of your average consumer. The Gigabyte X97X Gaming 5 series of motherboards offers a lot of exciting features that make them a great choice for high-end gaming PCs, without the colossal price tags that you’ll find with enthusiast grade products. We loved this motherboard when we review it and while the black and red colour scheme is getting a little bit repetitive in the gaming market, it’s still a great looking board that is perfect for a wide range of systems.

Check out our full review here – £109.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Brix Ultra Compact System

A lot of the fame and glory goes to big gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, loads of hard drives, water cooling and all that other crazy stuff, but this system turns all that on its head. The Brix may be small, but it packs enough power to be worthy of our Extreme Performance award! When space is limited, this little rig will fit on the back of your monitors VESA mount and it packs enough performance to get through a heavy workflow with ease. It’s a little expensive, but for a full-fledged PC that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, it’s a bargain!

Check out our full review here – £503.96 from Scan


PC Specialist Vortex 440 System

If you’re looking to upgrade to an X99 equipped system, then it’s likely that you’ll also be investing in DDR4 memory, a new CPU and a whole host of other components, so why not take all the fuss out of the process and invest in one of the best systems we’ve reviewed this year, the PC Specialist Vortex 440. We loved this system, partly because it was packed full of high-end hardware, but also because it was incredible value for money. Despite what the high price tag may suggest, the Vortex 440 actually worked out cheaper to buy than it would to build it yourself; now that’s a deal we can get behind!

Check out our full review here – around £1500 (customisable) from PC Specialist


OCZ Arc 100 240GB SSD

There’s a lot of SSD hard drives on the market right now and there are so many great ones that it’s now very easy to find one suitable for your system. The OCZ ARC 100 really stood out for us as it offers excellent performance, solid reliability, lots of features and it’s also competitively priced (per GB). Upgrading to an SSD is a great way to give your system a new lease of life, your system will boot faster and all of your games will benefit greatly from the speed boost. There is a cheaper 120GB model available, but the 240GB is the best balance of storage and value, making it a great choice for a boot drive.

Check out our full review here – £94.99 from Overclockers


Asus RT AC68U Dual Band Wireless Router

A really great router is something a lot of people overlook, it can be daunting spending a lot of money on tech like this, but the rewards soon pay for themselves. With more and more devices becoming internet connected, it’s likely that you’re not reaching the full potential of your devices networking capabilities. If you’re wanting to stream movies around your house from a NAS, play games online, while browsing the web from smartphones, tablets, consoles and other devices, then you’re going to see huge benefits from a router that can handle the most demanding workloads without sacrificing performance. The Asus RT AC68U looks great and offers a simple way to improve your home network. It’s expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.

Check out our full review here – £166.98 from Overclockers


Crucial 32GB 2133MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit

DDR4 memory marks the first major update to RAM memory formats in desktop systems in years, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, should you choose to make the leap for your high-end X99 platform build, then you should really consider the Crucial 32GB 2133MHZ kit. If you’re not too bothered about the aesthetics, this memory really does impress in terms of performance and offers excellent value for money vs many of the other DDR4 products on the market.

Check out our full review here – £319.99 from Overclockers


So, what will you be asking Santa for this year?

Galax Annouces GeForce GTX 970 Black Edition

Galax, or Galaxy as they are known in the EMEA region, has launched its latest graphics card in the form of the GeForce GTX 970 Black Edition. The 19cm long PCB is covered with an aluminium fin stack heatsink and the card uses two 80mm fans to keep everything cool.

The card comes factory overclocked with a speed of 1126MHz and with a boost speed of 1266MHz. Like on most GTX 970 cards the memory frequency hasn’t been touched and runs at 7GHz.

The new Galax GTX 97 Black Edition graphics card should be available now for a price of €319.90 with VAT.

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

EKWB Announces Full Cover Waterblock for Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1

EK Waterblocks have released a whole lot of GPU coolers lately, and now there is one more in the line-up. This time it’s for the Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 card that gets the water treatment with the new full-cover water block called the EK-FC970 GTX WF3. The WF3 stands for WindForce 3x for easy identification.

As a full-cover water block it cools the GPU, RAM and VRMs and of course uses EK’s unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine that performs equally in reverse flow and with weaker pumps. The base is made from nickel plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of either POM Acetal or Acrylic depending on model you chose.

As always, the EK water block comes with screw-in brass standoffs to allow for easy and safe installation. The optional backplates will be available in either Black or Nickel versions to match the front layout.

The new full-cover water block for the Gigabyte GTX 970 Gaming G1 should be available now or shortly either directly at EK or through one of the many resellers. Backplates will be available sometime during December.

Thanks to EKWB for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of EKWB

ASUS Readies GeForce GTX 970 DirectCU Mini

It looks like ASUS is getting ready to launch their mini-ITX take on the Nvidia GTX 970 card, which would make them the first. TechPowerUp is reporting that ASUS are putting the final touches on the GeForce GTX970 DirectCU Mini (GTX970-DCM-C-4GD5) graphics card.

The factory overclocked card will come with a 1088 MHz core frequency and a Boost speed up to 1228 MHz while the memory is untouched at 7 GHz. The power-economic GTX 970 card only requires a single 8-pin PCIe connector and comes with two dual-link DVI, one HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2 connectors.

The new card looks identical to the previous DirectCU mini cards and comes with a nice looking matte-black back-plate. Sadly no word on pricing or availability yet, but considering the other GTX 970 offerings it won’t be expensive.

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

GALAX Hall of Fame GTX 970 and 980 Released

Are you a fan of the Hall of Fame series of graphics cards? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that GALAX have just released the latest and greatest in the series; the GALAX GTX 980 HOF and the GTX 970 HOF.

Each of the new cards comes factory tuned with the highest core clocks in its class. Everything has been stripped down and rebuilt for speed on these cards. They’ve got the custom white PCB, ultra-premium components, 7 heat-pipes with a triple fan cooler, Hyper Boost technology, dual BIOS and a whole lot more.

The 980 HOF comes equipped with 2048 CUDA cores, a base clock of 1304 MHz and a boost clock of 1418 MHz. The GTX 970 HOF features 1664 CUDA cores, a base clock of 1216MHz and a boost of 1380 MHz.

Key Features:

  • Completely redesigned PCB layout from the ground up, optimized for GM204
  • 10 layer manufacturing process in HOF signature pure white color
  • Extended PCB width for optimized layout and cleaner signal
  • Advanced GALAX exclusive “Triple Force” cooler
  • 2x 80mm fan + 1x 90mm fan
  • 4x 8mm heat pipes + 3x 6mm heat pipes (total 7 nickel-plated heat pipes)
  • Copper base cooler
  • Integrated MOSFET heatsink
  • Customizable top HOF LED (control blanking frequency, brightness with GFE)
  • Plastic cover with premium die-cast aluminum accents
  • Anodized aluminum backplate protects components and reinforces PCB
  • Next generation IR3595 Digital PWM controller provides 2X switching frequency vs. previous generation
  • 8 phase GPU + 2 phase memory power
  • IR3555 with next gen DrMOS and 60A output
  • Aerospace-grade GALAX Extreme Power Inductors provide ultra-long life, high endurance and low noise vs. normal power inductors
  • Hyper Boost technology acts like a hardware turbocharger, increasing fan speed and maximum power delivered to the GPU with the push of a button
  • Voltage tool (developed by enthusiasts) allows voltage beyond stock limits
  • Hardware dual BIOS simplifies the tweaking process by enabling risk-free firmware updates and customization
  • Prelim internal overclocking results: >1.5GHz on air, >2.1GHz on LN2

The cards will start cropping up at major retailers any time now and prices are expected to hurt your wallet; if you want the best, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Thank you Guru3d for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Guru3d.