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 5960X “Haswell-E” Processor Review Featuring The Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5

Introduction & What’s New?


 

The Intel Core i7 5960X, codename Haswell-E, is probably 2014’s worst kept secret. As I am writing this review the full specifications, pricing and pictures of just about every X99 board in existence have already been made public and the NDA is still a few days off. Product launches like this make me wonder what purpose NDAs even serve when they appear to not be worth the paper they are written on. Anyway, politics aside, today we can present your our Intel Core i7 5960X review – at least pretend to be surprised! Intel’s High End Desktop Platform is about to get its first core upgrade since the transition from X48 to X58 when Intel made the leap from 4 to 6 cores, that occurred in 2010. Nearly 4 years later and Intel’s HEDT is making the shift from 6 cores to 8 cores with Haswell-E.

What’s special about Haswell-E apart from the increased core count? Well the X99 platform Haswell-E  brings support for DDR4, SATA Express and M.2 (just like Z97 offers), up to 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes and of course 8 core CPUs. If you’re in the market for an upgrade this certainly isn’t going to be cheap, new memory, new storage drives, a new CPU, probably a new power supply…..but I digress. Let’s dive straight into the goodness of the Core i7 5960X. Today we are chucking it on a brand new test system, powered by Gigabyte’s X99 Gaming 5 X99 motherboard and 32GB of Crucial’s fresh-off-the-production line DDR4-2133.

Comparing Intel’s Core i7 5960X to the Core i7 4960X and Core i7 3960X shows some striking similarities. They obviously all share the LGA 2011 package but there are subtle differences. Notably the Core i7 5960X uses a different integrated heat spreader design to the other two.

Moving on over to the rear of the CPU and we actually see a steady decline in the number of built in components. The transition to each newer CPU decreases the number of transistors and other components but we also see an increase in the number of pins. You can see this by comparing the size of the green spacing on the 3960X to the 5960X.

Being a new CPU with a new memory controller this is not compatible with X79 despite still being a LGA 2011 package. Haswell-E takes the LGA 2011-3 package while Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E takes the LGA 2011 package. To prevent people putting the wrong CPUs in the wrong boards Intel has changed the locking points on the CPUs as you can see below.

Intel’s Core i7 5960X comes with a 3GHz base frequency and up to 3.5 GHz with turbo. There’s also native DDR4 support for 2133MHz memory but we are hearing 3000MHz and more is possible with a little bit of tweaking. The other notable thing is a beefy 20MB of shared L3 cache, the most we’ve ever seen on a consumer Intel processor.

Looking at the processor die we can see that it is very different to Haswell for two main reasons: there are 4 more cores and there are no integrated graphics. The new memory controller offers support for only DDR4, there’s no DDR4 and DDR3 combo support like some of our readers may remember on the AMD AM2+ platform.

Intel’s main audience for the Core i7 5XXX series are existing HEDT customers, whether they be X79 or X58. Comparing to X79 Haswell-E and the new X99 chipset brings more cache, more cores, more PCIe lanes, a higher TDP, a different socket, more SATA ports, Thunderbolt support and BCLK overclocking support from the chipset, a feature we also saw moving from Ivy Bridge to Haswell on the mainstream platform.

Like Intel’s previous Extreme Edition CPUs the Core i7 5960X has that $1000 price tag while the Core i7 5930K and 5820K come in for much cheaper. Unlike with Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E going for the 5930K no longer gives you all the performance of the 5960X for less money, the Core i7 5930K has two less cores. The Core i7 5820K also offers less PCIe lanes than the 5930K so each CPU has its own functional purpose: the model separation is better.

LGA 2011 Stock Cooler Gets An Upgrade: Is The Core i7 5960X Going To Run Hotter?

Intel’s stock coolers may typically end up in most enthusiast’s bin, but for a lot of people they come in handy. Generally speaking they can deal with the CPU easily at stock, run quietly and are super-easy to install: if you want to get your system up and running quickly nothing quite beats them. With their new Haswell-E processors based on the LGA 2011-3 socket, the Core i7 5960X, 5930X and 5820K, Intel is shipping a new and improved stock cooler. The new stock cooler, TS13A, brings many improvements over the current LGA 2011 stock cooler, the RTS2011AC, these include:

  • A taller heatsink design, 75mm vs 63mm
  • An increased copper cooling area with added heat pipe
  • Heatsink fins that are now curved for more heat dissipation area

The new design allows for a greater TDP capacity which suggests to us that the Core i7 5960X is going to run hotter than its predecessor the Core i7 4960X. That’s not really surprising given that the Core i7 5960X will have an extra two cores to deal with, there will obviously be more heat and a greater density to that heat. Whether the increased heat output leads to higher temperatures will be another interesting thing to see – we already know that Haswell-E still uses fluxless solder after it was recently delidded so temperatures won’t be anywhere near as disastrous as what we see on the Haswell LGA 1150 processors. As you may all recall the transition from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge and from Ivy Bridge to Haswell on the mainstream platform all saw declining heat (aka TDPs) but increasing temperatures.

Source: Kitguru

Image courtesy of Kitguru

Intel Reveals Haswell-E Engineering Sample With 8 Cores and 3 GHz Clock Speed

According to a post from chinese portal VR-Zone, a picture of the first Haswell-E engineering sample which will feature 8 cores and a clock speed of 3 GHz has been revealed. Based on the 22nm Haswell architecture, Intel’s Haswell-E processor stacked in the X or Extreme series would be the chip giant’s first chip to feature 8 native core with 16 threads which will put them in the same line with AMD’s 8 Core processors which have been available since the arrival of Bulldozer in 2011.

Intel would be shipping two unlocked processors at launch which will include an X series Extreme edition and K Series Unlocked edition chips. Intel should integrate the Haswell-E processors as the Core i7-5xxx series in which case the X series would be known as Core i7-5960X and K series part would be called the Core i7-5930K. These aren’t confirmed names, but Intel has kept this style of series branding for a while and we suspect they will continue the trend with their Haswell-E and Broadwell generation of processors up until 2015.

The detailed from Intel reveal a 6-8 cores for their Haswell-E processors that would be equipped with a massive 20 MB of L3 smart cache and just like Haswell. It would feature an integrated voltage regulator and the flashgrip part would ship with TDPs around 140W which is impressive since that’s 10W under what we get on the Core i7-3970X which has 6 cores compared to the Haswell-E beast that would feature 8 cores and 20 MB of L3 cache. Intel is aiming for an 55% IPC improvement over quad cores with their flagship Haswell-E processors.

Haswell-E would also keep the great overclocking features that would ship with the “K” series and “Extreme Edition” processors. Both the memory and processor can be overclocked beyond limits with unlocked turbo limits, unlocked core ratios in 80/100 increments, programmable iVR voltage, support for XMP mode, unlocked memory controller and voltage limits, native support for memory up to 2667 MHz, Unlocked PCH and PLL voltage controls and more.

One Haswell-E processor is said to support two x16 and three x8 PCIe v3.x with 40 lanes and would be directly connected to the DDR4 memory controller and the Wellsburg X99 chipset. The feature set would remain the with technologies such as SSE4, AVX, VT, AESNI under its belt. Unlike the Haswell processor which come with 4th gen HD graphics core, the Haswell-E platform wouldn’t feature built-in graphics but someone buying such a costly processors will definitely go for a discrete GPU for graphics.

Intel’s Haswell-E is officially the first HEDT platform to feature support for DDR4 memory which is great news for enthusiasts who want to upgrade from the DDR3 memories which have reached their max overclock speeds. The new DDR4 memory modules consume only 1.2 V of power compared to 1.65/1.5V standard with DDR3. The can feature upto 16 banks of memory and require a 288-Pin DIMM connectors which would be available on the new X99 chipset motherboards. The DDR4 memory controller offers Quad channel memory support.

Haswell-E is expected be released in Q4 2014, however it could very well be pushed to early 2015.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of WCCF