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.

Intel Core i7-6700K & i5-6600K “Skylake” Processors Review

Introduction


Skylake is finally here, after months of speculation that all leads up to a single date in the calendar. Based on the first truly successful 14nm process after the very difficult launch of Broadwell a few weeks ago. Today sees the launch of two of the Intel Skylake SKU’s; the i7-6700K and the i5-6600K and this review will focus on both CPUs. This is a completely redesigned CPU focusing on the gamers, overclockers and enthusiasts alike and embedded in this message was the fact that Intel are dedicated to traditional sockets; no soldered on chips for the future of the mainstream consumer range for Intel. When Broadwell was released and the rumours started swirling around Skylake, everyone was jumping for joy with full BLCK overclocking; we can finally and officially confirm that there is a full BLCK overclocking range in increments of 1MHz instead of being limited to the strap of 100/125/166 of previous designs.

With those new chips, also brings a brand new chipset and socket. Z170 is amazingly complicated and feature-packed, with up to 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes compared to just 8 on Z97, up to 10 USB 3.0 ports and almost all motherboard manufacturers will be introducing USB 3.1 Type A and Type C as standard. Not only that but the CPU can automatically switch between DDR4 and DDR3L support although it is to be noted that the CPU cannot do this at the same time so don’t expect any motherboards with 2 DIMMS of each. Take note of the ‘L’, as Skylake CPU’s cannot accept DRAM with a voltage of more than 1.35v natively; I guess under overclocking situations you could try it, but system instability will most likely occur. The socket in question has been redesigned and this brought the introduction of a single additional pin; that means you cannot upgrade your CPU or motherboard now and the other later. This may seem like a money making idea on Intel’s behalf, but when you think of the nitty gritty, Z97 doesn’t offer as much connectivity or overclocking capabilities as Z170 does; so putting a new socket on an old board would neglect the user of the full potential they could harness.

Year on year Intel promise up to 10% more performance compared to the last generation processor; it is the same this time around. To put things into perspective, a 1-year-old PC would hold an i7-4790K, 2-year-old would be an i7-4770K and 3-year-old would be an i7-3770K. For those of you holding out with your i5-2500K, you would probably be considering Skylake as your next upgrade.

Devils Canyon brought 4GHz to the masses and Skylake looks to build on that with the i7-6700K starting at 4GHz and reaching up to 4.2GHz and the i5-6600K starting at 3.5GHz and boosting up to 3.9GHz. Both come with a TDP of a mere 91W and start at an MSRP of $243, or approximately £190 in the UK.

Intel Skylake i7 6700K and i5 6600K Boxart Pictured

While the Windows 10 box art from Microsoft was pretty bland, Intel sure is spicing things up with their new Skylake packaging. In a series of leaked images, we are treated to the new box art of the i7 6700K and i5 6600K and boy do they hearken back to the old days. The last time I recall seeing a similar design was back with the original Pentium series up until Pentium IV.

Intel looks to have taken a liking to the old blur of the Pentiums, with the blurred lines likely trying to invoke a sense of speed. the i7 takes on a warmer red/purple/orange hue while the i5 sticks with plain old green/blue. At that point though, the similarities end, with Skylake coming with the now standard stickers for LGA 1151 and the one showing all the specifications. The manufacturing location is listed as Malaysia, which reminds us of the fact that Intel has closed down their Costa Rica packaging facility.

From the box window, we can see that the steppings are SR2BR and SR2BV for the 6700K and 6600K respectively. The product code is BX80662I76700K for the i7  and batch # is L519B744. Clock speeds are also what previous reports and images have shown, at 4.0Ghz nad 3.5Ghz respectively. Both ship with support for DDR4 and DDR3L as well as integrating intel’s HD 530 graphics. With actual retail chips and boxes being leaked, there is little doubt that Skylake should launch within the week.

Images courtesy of reddit

Intel Faces Severe Supply Issues for Skylake Launch

Despite a much-anticipated launch for Skylake within the next two weeks, Intel looks to be in trouble on the supply side. According to multiple sources, supply for the i7 6700K and i5 6600K is severely limited and the initial stock is not expected to last long. Several unnamed Taiwanese firms also have had issues in supplying reviewers with Skylake chips to pair with their launch motherboard reviews.

Marketing director Anton Nilsson for Swedish retailer Webhallen had this to say on the supply situation:

We have a small number of processors and motherboards coming. They confirmed deliveries will not be enough for a whole week, rather a few days. Unfortunately, it also seems that those of our PC series most interesting motherboard is further delayed about a month.

So basically, even though Intel is only launching two chips at first, supply might as well be so limited, Intel may have well delayed the launch by a month. The fact that Intel is only launching two chips first also suggests that Intel knew this going in and was already trying to mitigate the issue. It’s important to note that while Intel may have low supply relative to demand, it doesn’t mean they aren’t producing a ton of chips, just that it’s not able to satisfy demand.

Of all the recent process nodes, 14nm has given Intel the most trouble, causing desktop Broadwell to be delayed by nearly a year and even then, the chips were vaporware for quite a while after launch. If Skylake continues this trend despite 14nm production already being ramped up for more than a year, yields must have been really bad when Intel first started it. With delays for 10nm also being built into Intel’s roadmap, we can only hope that Skylake will be worth the wait.

Thank you Sweclockers for providing us with this information