Thecus Expands Windows Storage Server Line-up with W2810PRO

Thecus had a lot of success with their Windows-based NAS devices and now they’ve expanded that series with the new W2810PRO NAS. The new NAS comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor, the same that we recently saw the N2810PRO launch with, it comes with 4GB DDR3 memory, and uses an SSD as boot drive.

Linux-based NAS run more out of the memory than Windows does and as such the use of a real SSD over a flash module is something that will make a huge difference for such a system. The quad-core processor is powerful enough to drive 4K experiences and thanks to it being a Windows version, it comes with a familiar interface. Integrating Microsoft services such as Office 365 and Azure Cloud Service is as easy as it could be on these devices as they’re running Windows 2012R2 Essentials as the operating system.

“Adding to the success of the original Windows Storage server 2012 solutions from Thecus, the W2810PRO provides increased power and speed performance to users”, said Florence Shih, CEO of Thecus Technology Corp. “This new Thecus Windows Storage Server is an ideal solution for individuals and businesses that are comfortable and proficient with the Windows platform to safely protect and effortlessly manage their valuable data.”

The 60GB boot SSD is more than enough for Windows itself and plenty of apps while the two drive bays give you up to 16TB raw storage capacity when using 8TB drives. That is a lot of power and storage in a small form factor. Windows Storage Server Essentials offers a host of features and functionality for organizations of all sizes including Data Deduplication and Storage Spaces for efficiency and protection, native support for Active Directory, and remote access through the P2P application, Orbweb.me. Users can further customize the W2810PRO to specific business needs as it supports third-party Windows Server add-ins.

Connection-wise, you get both an HDMI port and DisplayPort for direct usage, an S/PDIF for an audio connection, three USB 3.0 ports, and dual Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity.

Feature Highlights:

  • Top Storage for 1-50 Employee Business
  • Office 365 & Microsoft Azure: Cloud Service Integration
  • Active Directory Domain Services: Scalable, Secure User Management
  • Data Deduplication: Performance Optimization
  • Enhanced Boot Drive: Embedded SSD
  • Windows License Included
  • Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core Processor
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM

The new Thecus W2810PRO NAS is available starting today and it is an update well worth it. It packs more than double the power of the previous model, the W2000+, which was based on an Intel Atom dual-core processor.

High-End Intel Broadwell-E Processors Listed and Priced

With the official release nearly upon us, Intel’s Broadwell-E CPUs have started popping up everywhere. First, we had all of the various motherboard vendors announce support for the new Broadwell-E CPUs for their X99 motherboards. Next, Intel even leaked the chips on their driver website, confirming the rumoured specifications. Now, we finally get retail listing for the chips from NCIX along with pricing.

The pricing is pretty exorbitant right now with the low-end i7-6800K coming in at $629.99. All fo the other CPUs are much more expensive with the  i7-6850K at $889.99 and i7-6900K at $1495.99. That’s the same price as the rumoured $1500 for the i7-6950X which is listed for an exorbitant $2349.98. Of course, these are likely only placeholder prices till the real launch so we can expect the real prices to be quite a bit lower if past history is anything to go by.

Broadwell-E is expected to bring the 10 core i7 6950X along with Broadwell improvements to Intel’s HEDT. With a relatively simple updated, X99 motherboards with LGA 2011-3 will work with the new chips. While these prices are unrealistic, in my mind, intel may plan to squeeze consumers as much as they can. Intel recently cut 12,000 staff and if they can find a way to make more money, they’ll take it.

Skylake Core M Heading for Apple MacBook

Last year, Apple surprised the world with their new MacBook, their thinnest laptop yet. In a first, the slim device only had one USB Type-C port and featured a fanless Intel Broadwell Core M CPU with a Retina display. Today, Apple has updated their MacBook as they’ve previously announced. The new laptop features upgraded internals throughout, with the headline being the new Skylake Core-M CPUs.

The new Skylake Core m3-6Y30, the Core m5-6Y54 and the Core m7-6Y75 all keep the same base clock as their Broadwell counterparts but the m3 sees a 100Mhz drop in boost, the m5 100Mhz increase and the m7 200Mhz increase. Combined with the architecture improvements, CPU performance should improve but not by much. The iGPU get upgraded to an HD 515 which uses the new Gen9 architecture and a 50Mhz boost for the m7. This should lead to a nice boost to graphics performance.

Other changes are the use of LPDDR3 1866 up from 1600. The battery also gets a bump up by 1.7 Wh to 41.4 Wh, gaining an extra hour of battery life. Storage also reported is improved with a new PCIe SSD but no word yet on specifics. Finally, we get a new Rose Gold, aka Pink, colour option for those that want it. Pricing remains the same as the current lineup.

ECS Launches H110I-C4P Mini-ITX Motherboard

ECS has recently introduced a new mini-ITX motherboard based on Intel’s H110 Express chipset. This LGA1151 motherboard is named H110I-C4P, and it was designed to be fully compatible with Intel’s 6th generation Core, Pentium and Celeron processors. As far as power is concerned, the board uses a mix of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin CPU power connectors, while the CPU conditioning is taken care of by a 4-phase VRM. Two DDR4 DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2133 memory, which should definitely be more than enough for the average user. Clearly, this is not a top-tier motherboard aimed at professionals, but it can still be good enough for basic gaming if you’re not too picky.

When it comes to expansion slots, we’re looking at one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 and an M.2 2242 slot with a bandwidth of 20 Gb/s. It looks like storage connectivity is based on four SATA 6 Gb/s connectors while the display connectivity is ensured by one DisplayPort and one HDMI port. Other highlights include gigabit Ethernet, a 6-channel HD audio solution and four USB 3.0 ports. Given how light it is on features, we shouldn’t expect this ECS motherboard to cost more than $80, in which case it could definitely become appealing to budget-conscious users.

Intel Q1 Results Revealed – 12,000 Job Cuts Planned

Three days ago, word came out from Intel about a series of massive layoffs in the works. Today, Intel has officially revealed just how deep the cuts are going to be and they are deep. Around 11% of their global workforce of nearly 107,000 workers will be let go in either voluntary or involuntary layoffs. This means as many as 12,000 employees of Intel may soon be entering the job market.

The cuts are set to be part of the transition from being a “PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices”. This change comes as the PC business continues of soften and 40% of company revenue have come from the data center and Internet of Things segments. Compared to Q1 2015, Q1 2016 was slightly worse, with a 1.2% drop in gross margins though revenue was up 7%.

Platform sales volume (processors and chipsets) fell 15% but revenue was up 19% due to the higher selling prices. We can all see that with how much Skylake cost compared to Haswell. overall, the costs of restructuring will come to $1.2 billion, but Intel expects to save $750 million in 2017 and $1.4 billion every year after that. It will be interesting to see where most of the cuts land and if they will impact the fabs and R&D budgets.

ASUS Adds Broadwell-E Support to X99 Motherboards

Last week, we saw the first sign of support for Intel’s upcoming Broadwell-E CPUs. MSI was the first out of the gate with their announcement of new BIOS revisions to support Intel’s new line of Extreme CPUs followed by ASRock. Today, ASUS has announced their own support for Broadwell-E with new BIOS releases for their X99 series of motherboards. With 3 motherboard vendors offering support, Intel much be releasing their chips soon.

For most of the lineup, the new 3004 BIOS will be the one adding support. Interestingly, the Rampage IV and Rampage IV/U3.1 will have to rely on the 3007 BETA BIOS. I don’t know about you, but a beta BIOS doesn’t sound all that safe. In order to upgrade their firmware, users can either use the built-in EZ Flash 2 utility from within the BIOS or the USB BIOS Flashback/ROG Connect button from outside the system.

As we know, Broadwell-E will include the massive i7-6950X with 10 cores and 20 threads with 25MB of L3. The monster of a chip will also come with an equally massive price tag to match. The rest of the lineup will consist of the Core i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K with the usual 6 and 8 core offerings. With Zen rumoured to peak at 8 cores for the consumer market, the 6950X may reign supreme for quite a while.

Intel Planning Extensive Staff Layoffs

In the search for either greater margins or reducing costs, companies have always turned to layoffs as a way to do so. Usually the domain of ailing firms, it’s rare for a healthy and growing company to cut any of their staff. Even more surprising is that Intel, the giant chipmaker is reportedly planning a massive round of fresh layoffs throughout is operations. Perhaps, the PC downturn is finally hitting them as well.

As of the end of 2015, Intel had 107,000 employees worldwide, with a 5% overall increase despite 1,100 cuts last year. This time around, the cuts are expected to go much deeper, with some divisions losing up to double-digit percentages of their staff. This is surprising as Intel has reported stunning financial results for quite a few quarters in a row and already boasts margins above 60%, nearly unheard of in their competitors.

According to the source, the cuts are expected to be announced after the Q1 financial results next week. These cuts are also due to shuffles in the executive ranks, perhaps with a change in long terms plans. Some of the cuts will be due to cutting redundancies and consolidations due to the Altera purchase last year. We will bring you more information as soon as Intel makes an announcement.

Knights Landing Supercomputing Chipset Featured in Ninja Desktops

Whenever new hardware is released, they always come with cool names and Intel’s latest Xeon Phi chip’s don’t disappoint with the name Knights Landing (any Game of Thrones fan spot the possible reference?). While not designed for desktops the next step of Colfax’s Ninja desktops will make sure of these supercomputing chips.

The new Knights Landing chips from Intel feature 72-cores, remember when you were excited to get a dual core processor? Intel is open in saying that only a limited number of workstations with the chip will become available this year, having originally been designed to help boost servers and supercomputers around the world but now could be powering your full gaming experience.

Be warned the extra power will come at a cost, with costs from Colfax’s website starting at $4,983 (around £3,508) for the base configuration. Featuring a 240GB SSD, a 4TB hard drive and a staggering 96GB of DDR4 memory the computer could easily let you get on with your daily YouTube and emailing while loading up the computer with two 1.6TB SSDs and two 6TB hard drives will jump the price to $7,577. With everything liquid cooled and two-gigabit ethernet ports, you don’t need to worry about overheating or slow network traffic.

Workstations are typically used for graphically intense operations such as film editing, graphics manipulation or engineering applications but with process heavy software coming out with the likes of virtual and augmented reality, people are looking at getting greater computing power like those offered by workstations for everyday use.

Intel Demos 3D XPoint at IDF Shenzhen

First unveiled mid last year, 3D XPoint has been hailed as the next step for memory. Created in cooperation between Intel and Micron, the new memory technology is expected to serve as both a DRAM and NAND replacement in the future. While we all knew it would be crazy fast compared to NAND, we got the first glimpse of its true speed this week during Intel’s demo at IDF Shenzhen.

Unlike NAND flash which has to be written in pages and erases in blocks, 3D XPoint is addressable on the byte level. This gives much lower overhead and allows for higher speeds, especially in random performance. During the demo, the Optane device was able to reach 1.9GB/s in sequential performance. Furthermore, even when conducting random operations, the drive was able to hit 464,300 4K random IOPS. That’s about 1.9 GB/s as well, something current NAND-based SSDs, even NVMe ones, can’t reach. 3D XPoint seems almost symmetrical when it comes to read/writes and sequential/random performance.

Even with all the demos out, both Intel and Micron have been mum about a specific timeline for 3D XPoint to finally reach market. So far, all we know is that there will be 3D XPoint based SSDs set to arrive sometime this year. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

QNAP Launches New Powerful Dual-10Gbps Rack NAS’

When good isn’t good enough, then you’ll want great, and when looking for great, you can’t get past QNAP. They have just launched two new NAS series for the enterprise sector with plenty of storage capacity options, great connectivity, and strong CPUs. Perfect for enterprise users that don’t want to compromise. The two new series are the TVS-ECx80U-SAS R2 and the TS-ECx80U R2.

Both of these new NAS series feature two built-in SFP+ based 10Gbps Ethernet ports without increasing the price over the previous models without the R2 name addendum. Besides the two SFP+ connectors, the system also features four 1Gbps Ethernet ports. Overall, everything you need for an IOPS-demanding application setup such as virtualisation setups and database systems.

The TVS-ECx80U-SAS R2 series comes equipped with a powerful Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 3.5 GHz processor and 16GB DDR3 non-ECC or 8GB DDR3 ECC RAM. A great hardware base for almost any setup. The TS-ECx80U R2 series provides models powered by an Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 3.5 GHz processor too and these come with 4GB DDR3 ECC RAM. Further, the series offers options with an Intel Core i3 3.5 GHz processor and 8GB DDR3 non-ECC or 4GB DDR3 ECC RAM too.

There are quite a few models to choose from, in various sizes and with varying drive bays. They all have four DIMM slots, extra internal ports for caching, redundant power supplies, and much more.

Both of these new QNAP series should be available now, so all that’s left to do, is to select which one you want.

Intel Will Launch Apollo Bay CPUs This Year

Intel has revealed its plans to release updated versions of Celeron and Pentium CPUs during its most recent developer forum in China. Apparently, the new chips are codenamed Apollo Bay, and they are based on the company’s 14-nanometer Goldmont architecture, which is the official successor of the Airmont architecture used to create previous Celeron and Pentium models. As we’ve come to expect from a new generation of Intel chips, the updated versions will offer better overall performance as well as improved efficiency, which means that they could ensure a longer battery life for portable devices.

Those of you who are interested in Intel’s Core series will be glad to know that it is also expected to receive an update in 2016’s second half. Even though the company originally planned to move over to a 10-nanometer chip named Cannonlake this year, this generation was actually delayed to 2017 in order to make room for a third 14-nanometer product family. This officially marked the end of Intel’s tick-tock cycle, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering how difficult it has become to manufacture smaller processes. Even though they’re not exactly ideal for gaming, Intel’s Pentium and Celeron CPUs are more than capable of handling simple day-to-day tasks, and since they basically sip on power, they represent ideal solutions for low-power laptops or office PCs.

ASRock E3V5 WS (Intel C232) Super Alloy Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging


Today’s motherboard review lands right in the middle of everything. Not because it’s all over the place, but because it has a lot of usage scenarios and support for pretty much any setup. You could use ASRock’s E5V5 WS motherboard in a gaming system as well as in a server setup as both of those setups are fully supported, but its real area of operation is to act as the base for a powerful workstation.

The ASRock E5V5 WS uses an LGA 1151 socket and the board is compatible with both E3-1200 v5 processors such as the one I’ll be using later on in this review, but it also supports normal 6th Generation Intel Core processors – so basically the entire Skylake and Skylake-S line-up. As backbone behind the CPU that you end up using is the Intel C232 chipset that is perfectly tuned for workstation environments and a motherboard like this. Memory wise you can use normal DDR4 DIMMs as well as ECC UDIMM memory modules with a speed of up to 2133 MHz in the four DIMM slots with 15μ gold contacts for a total of up to 64GB RAM.

The gold contacts in the memory slots aren’t the only quality feature in this motherboard. The E3V5 WS motherboard is part of ASRock’s Super Alloy series and comes with premium 50A power chokes and is made of a high-density glass fabric PCB. It also features ASRock’s full spike protection that protects from sudden surges, lightning, and electrostatic discharges (ESD).

The network connection isn’t controlled by the average low-performance controller either and we find an Intel PHY i219LM controller on this motherboard. The Gigabit Ethernet controller supports Wake-On-LAN, supports 802.3az energy efficient ethernet and PXE. The Ethernet controller is one of the parts that is protected by the Full Spike Protection. The second part with protection is the USB. The ASRock E35 WS features two USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel and you can connect another four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports via headers. All of these are protected by the ASRock Full Spike Protection. The audio is also protected by this and we find a 7.1 channel HD Audio controller, the Realtek ALC892. It features Blu-ray audio support and uses ELNA solid audio capacitors. Last but not least, you also find legacy PS2 connectors for both your mouse and keyboard.

 

Internally we find good expansion options too. Since we are dealing with an Intel-based motherboard, we also get IRST for RAID setups across the six SATA3 6 Gb/s connectors. Supported modes include the normal RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 modes.

There are two PCIe Gen3 x16 slots that support both Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards as well as consumer graphics cards. There is also full support for the use of AMD’s CrossfireX technology for multiple graphics card usage. As I mentioned earlier, you can make a great workstation with this motherboard. There are three more PCIe Gen3 x1 slots available for further expansion and neither of them will be blocked by the use of two-slot graphics cards. Even with a CrossfireX setup, you’ll still have access to the three x1 slots.

Quality hardware and components are just one side of the story, we also need a good BIOS and proper software to have the best experinece. The E3V5 WS comes with both of those features too. The UEFI BIOS has the easy EZ mode dashboard besides the advanced setup pages, which contains multiple readings of the system’s current status. You can check the most crucial information of your system, such as CPU speed, DRAM frequency, SATA information, fan speed, etc.

Even better, you can reach the tech support purely from the systems BIOS, as long as the system has an internet connection. You can also install LAN drivers onto your windows installation directly from the BIOS.

The ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) technology allows you to establish an internet curfew or restrict internet access at specified times for your kids. Stay in control of their surfing times without yelling. This probably isn’t the most used function in a workstation system, but it could be used to shut down any connection attempts outside of office hours. Another useful feature is the USB Key function that can replace the password question when you log into windows. Do it by plugging a USB drive in instead.

The well-known ASRock XFast RAM and XFast LAN are also built into this motherboard. The XFast RAM feature allows you to fully utilize the memory space that otherwise can’t be accessed in 32-bit systems, among others. XFast LAN is a quality of service protocol that prioritizes the important traffic so you don’t have to wait for loading times. ASRock Live Update and APP Shop also help to make the maintenance easier.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.

Key Features:

  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • Server-Grade LAN chip support
  • Supports the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 Processor & 6th Generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1151)
  • Supports DDR4 2133 & ECC UDIMM memory modules
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16 and 3 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), ELNA Audio Caps
  • 6 SATA3 and 6 USB 3.0 (2 Front, 4 Rear)
  • Supports Full Spike Protection, ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit, 8.1 64-bit, 7 32-bit, 7 64-bit, Server 2012 R2 64-bit, Server 2012 64-bit, and Server 2008 R2 64-bit support

Packaging and Accessories

A quality motherboard also deserves a great look package, and the E3V5 WS got that. The front makes no secret about the boards power.

On the rear of the box, you will find a detailed photo of the motherboard itself as well as feature highlights and specifications.

Inside the box is a user manual, a driver disk, two SATA cables, and an IO shield besides the motherboard itself.

ASRock X99 BIOS Updates Reveal Broadwell-E Line Up

Ahead of Intel’s much awaited Broadwell-E processor launch, ASRock announced the release of a new BIOS with support for X99 CPUs that are available on today’s market. The update applies to all of the motherboard manufacturers’ X99 product lines.

The new Broadwell-E processors will fit in the same LGA2011-V3 sockets as their Haswell predecessors and introduce a 14nm manufacturing process. The new BIOS will support the new ten core Core i7-6950X, the Core i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K processors. So far there has been little in the way of information on the new processors available from reliable sources. ASRock is the first reputable place to confirm Intel’s offerings (well, the names at least) ahead of the Intel announcement due at Computex 2016. Although, MSI was the first motherboard manufacturer to release widespread BIOS updates for their X99 range.

There were rumors at one point of Intel cancelling the Broadwell-E range in favour of some Skylake chips. However, the release from Asrock certainly thwarts this. The ten core beast, the 6950X will run at a base clock of 3GHz and have a 3.5GHz boost clock, boasting 10 cores and 20 threads. From the release, it will be unlocked to allow enthusiasts and professional overclockers to tinker and overclock the processors to the absolute maximum they can get. It’ll come with a whopping 25MB of layer three cache and will work in most X99 motherboards, providing the manufacturer releases a new bios that can support them.

Will you be upgrading to the latest from Intel as soon as it hits the market? Let us know in the comments below.

Checkout the Rockit 88 Intel CPU Delid Tool

Even though manufacturers don’t recommend delidding your CPU, there are quite a few overclockers out there that are using this method in order to improve overall thermal performance. Users are still debating whether this practice is actually worth it or not, but it looks like a company named Rockit Cool has created a tool designed specifically for the job. Dubbed Rockit 88, this Intel CPU delid tool has its own Kickstarter campaign, which has raised $3,929 at the time of writing even though the original goal was for just $600.

Some say that delidding a CPU doesn’t offer much in the way of thermal improvement, but Rockit Cool has stated that you can actually achieve a 10°C improvement in load temperatures on an overclocked Devil’s Canyon CPU using its tool.

If you want to get your hands on one of these devices, all you have to do is pledge $35 and you will receive a complete Rockit 88 kit in May 2016. If you’re really committed to delidding your expensive Intel CPU, it’s definitely a better idea to purchase one of these tools instead of using a regular knife and risking permanent damage. What do you think about Rockit 88? Would you use it for your overclocking needs?

Thecus N2810 2-Bay 4K Capable SMB NAS Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a little bit special as I don’t just get the chance to test one of the newest NAS on the market, but also a new operating system at the same time. Thecus N2810 2-bay SMB multimedia NAS server with 4K playback is in the testing area and it comes with Thecus’ brand new ThecusOS 7.0.

Thecus N2810 NAS is powered by an Intel Celeron N3050 Braswell dual-core processor with 1.6GHz base clock and a 2.16GHz burst speed. This is a great processor for NAS usage as it’s both powerful and energy-efficient. On top of that, the N2810 supports hardware AES 256-bit encryption for that extra layer of security without impacting performance the way a software solution will. This is backed by 2GB DDR3 memory, but you can upgrade the system to a maximum of 8GB DDR3 RAM should you require more. The standard 2GB should still be plenty for normal usage scenarios and seamless 4K media playback.

Thecus opted for a full USB 3.0 setup which is a nice thing to see. Thanks to the USB bus’ compatibility you can easily use legacy devices while having maximum speed on your modern equipment such as high-end flash drives and external SSDs. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the rear and one on the front. The front port also features a convenient one-touch copy button that allows you to copy content to or from a USB drive with a single press of the button.

The two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the N2810 support 10/100/1000 BASE-TX Auto MDI/MDI-X and Wake-on-LAN. You can naturally also set them up for link aggregation and Thecus allows you to set all seven modes: Load balance, Failover, 802.3ad, Balance-XOR, Balance-TLB, Balance-ALB, and Broadcast.

There is also the HDMI port for direct playback on your TV or monitor without the need for any other device at all. This is a feature we see more and more on modern NAS devices and it is one that I really love. While streaming is great, a direct connection allows for higher compatibility with formats and there are fewer points of failure or lag on the way. That said, the Thecus N2810 has absolutely no trouble streaming either, but we’ll get to that later.

Keen eyes will already have spotted the serial UART port too and that isn’t something that we usually see on NAS devices, it is however an awesome feature. We sometimes find the port on the PCB, but rarely on the device itself. UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter and is part of the serial communication protocol.

The N2810 is the first Thecus NAS to run the completely new ThecusOS 7.0 operating system and user interface. The refreshed OS offers an easy to use and intuitive user interface and quite a lot of new features over the previous OS including the new Photo Station, Thecus App Center with over 700 apps, and user profiles. Besides the design and feature improvements, it also got a push in regards to the performance where it gets even more out of your hardware.

The N2810 steps up to the challenges that 4K playback creates and provides a robust hardware platform that is able to handle multiple tasks with ease. The built-in HDMI port allows you to transform the NAS into a multimedia hub by connecting it directly to your TV or media center to utilize the power of KODI. There are plenty of streaming options too with basic DLNA as well as Plex Media Server that can stream to your consoles with ease. The server can also automatically assemble iTunes, iPhoto, and Aperture content. Apple TV and Chromecast are both supported too, completing the circle of media abilities.

The N2810 is an SMB NAS and as such comes with a comprehensive list of enterprise-oriented features too, although none of them are limited to firms and enterprises, home users can take equal advantage of them. The Thecus System Failover feature is a fault tolerance process that creates mirrored data volumes. With at least two Thecus NAS available, data is copied by schedule and all changes are mirrored between the two NAS. While the second NAS is not visible, it communicates with the primary NAS. In the event of a power or network failure, a scheduled maintenance, or other unforeseen circumstances, System Failover automatically redirects operations to the secondary Thecus NAS, which then acts as the primary NAS.

Local failover is also achieved easily with a Thecus NAS and Snapshots. With BTRFS support, users can enjoy the simplicity of snapshot backups through BTRFS subvolumes. Snapshots of data at various time points can be manually or automatically made and just as easily later restored to rollback files or folders to previous states.

To complete the backup and failover abilities, the N2810 comes bundled with Acronis Backup Software that can backup all your data to the NAS with a single click as well as local backups and Time Machine support. Real-time remote replication (Rsync) is naturally also supported and it is one of the easiest to use and widest available backup methods.

Security is an important factor on a NAS, after all, it’s the device that holds all your files, memories, and data. Whether you’re an enterprise user or a home user, a virtual private network can come in very handy. The N2810 can operate as a VPN server and allow users to remotely access through a secure network.

Thecus also added Intel Security to the package that gives you an active defense against viruses that might have made it onto your NAS. The software protects you by scanning the files on your NAS and defending it against possible threats. Intel Security is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company and Thecus users will be able to benefit from Intel Security’s powerful software on their NAS entirely for free.

With the Thecus N2810, it is also an easy task to set up your own personal cloud service that will work with mobile iOS and Android devices with the use of Thecus’ T-OnTheGo app and your PCs. The mobile app enables users to access, copy, stream, and edit any data between their NAS and mobile device. Your own personal cloud, available from anywhere with internet access. The access from anywhere is made as easy as it could be thanks to the built-in DDNS feature that will give your NAS a name rather than a difficult to remember and mostly changing IP address.

You can also reverse the whole thing and use the public cloud systems together with the N2810 NAS. The system will work with DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive cloud backup functionality. Guard your data with RAID at home and an additional level of protection in the Cloud. Just drag and drop files into the folder on your NAS and access them on any computer or mobile device with DropBox, Amazon S3 or ElephantDrive.

With currently available hard disk drives you get up to 8TB in the consumer sector and 10TB in the enterprise sector. With two drive bays at your disposal, that’s already a lot of storage and you can take maximum advantage of this storage thanks to iSCSI and the efficiency of iSCSI thin provisioning. Connect through iSCSI for the fastest data transfer speeds available and make wasted disk space a thing of the past with thin provisioning’s flexible storage functionality.

Feature Highlights

  • Embedded with Intel Celeron N3050 Dual Core CPU
  • Running on the newly-designed and enhanced ThecusOS 7.0
  • Seamless 4K Multimedia Playback
  • Uninterrupted Accessibility with Thecus System Failover
  • Secure Remote Access with Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Faster Transfers: 2 LAN Ports for Link Aggregation
  • 99% Virus Prevention: Bundled with Free Intel Security
  • Complete Client Side Protection: Bundled with Free Acronis Software

Packaging and Accessories

Thecus packed the N2810 in a beautiful box that clearly shows the intended usage, as a 4K capable multimedia center.

The rear of the box continues the beautiful full-colour wrapping with the feature highlights. There’s no doubt that you have a premium device in your hands when you look at the package.

It continues on the sides where the brand new Thecus OS 7 is presented on one side.

The second side reveals the hardware specifications, device size,  and package content.

Inside the product is a quick installation guide and a product disk as well as the warranty card and product notes.

Besides the manuals and the NAS itself, there is also a power adapter with connection cord, two sets of drive tray keys, an RJ45 LAN cable, and a security latch for the power cable that can prevent accidental removal.

SilverStone EP03 USB 3.0 Charging Hub with Display Review

Introduction


USB hubs are nothing new and an essential tool for port multiplying which allows you to connect more devices to your system than you have ports available. This is particularly useful for mobile systems that come with very few ports on their own, but a stationary system can benefit equally from a good USB hub. In today’s review, I am taking a closer look at SilverStone’s EP03 USB 3.0 hub with built-in supercharger function and an integrated display for monitoring voltage and current on all ports.

At heart, SilverStone’s EP03 is a 4-port USB 3.0 hub capable of 5 Gbps transfer speeds. It is naturally also compatible with both USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices on both the host port and the individual connectors. That in itself is nothing new, but everything else is. In fact, this is a pretty smart hub.

When you pick the EP03 hub up and hold it in your hands, you have no doubt that this is a quality built hub. It feels sturdy and it also looks pretty good with its simple plastic case and top plate made of brushed aluminium.

The top is also what instantly reveals one of the features that make this USB hub unique, the built-in display. You can watch the current and voltage in real-time on the display for each of the four ports. Port selection is handled by the small button next to the display which lets you cycle the four ports.

As the display already indicates, this isn’t just a USB hub for peripheral and drive connection, it is also an intelligent charging station that can satisfy users’ increasing demand for fast charging of power-hungry mobile devices. It can deliver 2A to each of the four ports simultaneously and is fully compliant with the USB power delivery specifications 1.2 (BC 1.2).

In addition, the built-in protection mechanism ensures the EP03 can deliver power evenly and safely according to the number or the state of battery charge of connected devices. All these features can also be used to check if a new/replacement charging cable is up to the task and comes with the proper specifications compared to your original cable.

The SilverStone EP03 comes with an AC adapter included which both ensures that you have enough current to all ports, but also allows you to use it as charging station with the use of a host system. It comes with built-in over current and over voltage protections too, so all your connected devices should be safe.

The hub is built around a Genesys Logic GL3522 chipset which actually is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 controller, but that just leaves internal headroom and ensures the best possible connection.

Feature Highlights

  • Integrated display for monitoring voltage and current
  • Supports current up to 2A for each USB port
  • Provides four 5Gbps Super Speed USB 3.0 USB ports
  • High quality brushed aluminum design
  • Supports over voltage and over current protection
  • Includes AC adapter for stable power delivery
  • Compliant with USB power delivery specification 1.2

Package and Accessories

SilverStone always has some great looking packages for their devices and it’s no different for this USB 3.0 hub with fast charging and power meter. It presents itself colourful to the user and begs to be taken home. I know I wouldn’t walk past it.

The rear of the box explains the features in multiple languages.

One of the sides has more details on the product itself in the form of images and text.

And the other side has all the detailed specifications. Overall, a box that tells us everything there is to know about the product inside.

Inside the box, we find a USB 3.0 cable, an AC/DC power adapter, a user guide, and the USB hub itself.

Seagate NAS 8TB (ST8000VN0002) Hard Disk Drive Review

Introduction


Just as you wouldn’t use a low-end graphics card for high-end usage, you shouldn’t use the wrong hard disk drive in your storage system either. There is a reason for every product and you should always pick the one suited for the task at hand, especially when you deal with your storage. Today I’m taking a closer look at Seagate’s impressive 8TB NAS HDD and we will take a look at how well it performs.

As said, when you pick your storage, you need to pick the right one for the task and not just grab anything you can find. This is particularly important when we talk about systems that have to run continuously and in environments with a lot of drives closely packed together. The Seagate NAS HDD goes beyond the standard desktop drives in this regards as it is built exactly for these scenarios.

Vibrations can damage your drives and the can also have a direct impact on your drives speed, and the more drives you install close to each other, the more vibrations you’ll get. The Seagate NAS HDDs are rated for usage in systems with up to 8 bays which gives you an impressive raw capacity of 64TB. The Dual-plane balance system enhances drive performance in aggressive NAS workloads for better vibration tolerance.

The Seagate NAS 8TB drive comes packed with 256MB cache, which is double that of the 6TB model. It uses the default SATA3 6GB/s interface that makes it compatible with pretty much any NAS system. The performance isn’t without either as it comes with a rating of 150 IOPS and above and a sustained sequential read performance up to 230MB/s, an exceptional performance for a mechanical drive. The pure capacity is pretty nice too considering the default 3.5-inch form factor and it has an areal density of 1333Gb per square inch. The average seek read and write latencies are rated to be 8.5ms and 9.5ms, or lower. The whole thing is rounded off with an 180TB per year workload rating, a 1 million hour mean time before failure, and a 3-year warranty.

The great performance comes from Seagate’s years of experience that the put into the hardware and also the firmware that controls the drive. NASWorks is optimized for use as storage drives and it has been tuned to deliver higher performance, a better reliability and interoperability with popular NAS enclosures, and it has the RAID Recovery feature that prevents the NAS from a full RAID rebuild if the RAID degrades. Extended error recovery controls correct data without the need for full drive rebuilds.

Performance isn’t everything, but as we’ve seen above, that part is well covered. There are two further factors that need to be considered before you decide which drives to use: Acoustics and power consumption. A drive that consumes a lot of power can quickly drive up the total cost of ownership and it’s also bad for the environment. The Seagate NAS 8TB drive has an average power consumption of 9W during active operations and an idle power consumption of 7.2W. When in sleep or standby mode, the drives will consume as little as 0.6W. The 8TB NAS HDD doesn’t make much noise either and is rated for just 2.6 bels during operation and 2.5 bels when idle.

Seagate also offers the optional +Rescue Data Recovery Services for extra peace of mind. With this extra service, Seagate has your back and can recover the data from a possible failed drive. Whether the error is due to mechanical failure or accidental damage, most data can be recovered when done right. It is a fast and easy recovery process where your data can be restored in 15 days or less. This is also a field that Seagate is very successful in with an approximately 90% success rate in data recovery.

So if you need drives for backup and disaster recovery, multimedia server and storage, file and print server sharing, archival, remote access, virtualization, or a private cloud storage, then this might be just the right drive for you.

Feature Highlights

  • 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1TB capacity options
  • Seagate NAS HDDs are built and tested to provide industry-leading performance for small NAS systems.
  • NASWorks technology supports customised error recovery controls, power management and vibration tolerance for optimal performance and reliability with workloads up to 180TB/year workload rate limit (WRL).
  • NAS error recovery controls optimise drive health by helping to ensure drives are not dropped from the NAS and sent into a RAID rebuild.
  • Improved vibration tolerance and emission in multi-drive systems with dual plane balance.
  • Advanced power management supports multiple power profiles for lowpower, 24×7 performance.
  • Quiet drive operation enhances the customer experience in living room or office environments.
  • Optional 3-year Rescue recovery service plan protects against data loss from viruses, software issues, or mechanical and electrical breakdowns in a NAS or RAID environment.

Specifications

Package and Accessories

PNY CS2211 XLR8 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a special one for me as it is the first time I get to review a PNY SSD. I got the XLR8 CS2211 2.5-inch gaming branded SSD on the test bench today and it will be interesting to see how well it does. The PNY CS2211 SSD is available in three capacities from 240GB over 480GB to 960GB from which I’ll be testing the 240GB model today.

PNY is no stranger in the SSD market and they created some great drives in the past for all sectors of the market, but they’re probably most known for their graphics cards. But we aren’t here to talk about graphics cards, it is about storage today. PNY has taken what they have learned from their previous drives and created the XLR8 branded CS2211 drive, and it shows in the performance ratings.

The drive is rated for a sequential performance of up to 565 MB/s reading and 540MB/s writing, which is about as good as it gets on the SATA3 interface. The random input-output performance is equally impressive with 95K IOPS ratings for both reading and writing. Those are at least the ratings for the larger models and the small 240GB version can’t keep fully up with that. It still comes with impressive ratings despite being a little slower ,with an 87K IOPS rating and a drop in sequential writes to 470MB/s.

It is no surprise that the drive has such good ratings as it is built with only the best components. It utilizes 15nm Toshiba MLC NAND and a Phison PS3110-S10 controller aided by 256MB DDR3 cache package

PNY gave the CS2211 the XLR8 styling as a gaming product, but the design has been toned down a bit in comparison to the previous XLR8 drive design. It is a beautiful design that makes the drive stand out and also makes in an optimal candidate for systems that proudly shows what components they are made off.

There are a lot of products that get a ‘gaming’ label in order to appeal to that market segment, but the CS2211 does deserve this label. It is a perfect gaming drive thanks to its high IOPS performance on top of the high sequential performance. You’ll copy fast, load fast, and should experience even less loading times in-game.

Feature wise we find the basic Trim and SMART capabilities, but the CS2211 also comes with background garbage collection, end-to-end data protection, and error correction code for up to 120 bits per 2K sector. Overall, we see a drive that presents itself very well and PNY agrees with a 2 million hours mean time before failure rating and a full 4-year warranty.

The 7mm slim drive is perfect for usage in both desktop and notebook systems where it also will fit well in 9.5mm drive bays thanks to the included adapter bracket. The SSD doesn’t feature the DevSleep function that I really like to see in drives, but that isn’t a deal breaker and most gamers don’t want power saving features, they want pure and raw performance which the CS2211 delivers.

Aside from the beautiful brand sticker on the top, the drive is built with a standard 2-piece snap-together enclosure that holds the PCB and doesn’t require any screws that could loosen themselves over time in high-vibration environments.

The PCB itself is a two-thirds length one with a total of eight NAND chips distributed over the front and back. The Phison PS3110 S10C controller sits firmly in the middle of the PCB. Next to it we also see the Nanya DDR3 cache chip that helps the drive to achieve the great speeds that it can.

Specifications

  • Capacity: 240GB
  • Part Number: SSD7CS2211-240-RB
  • Form Factor: 2.5 inch
  • Height: 7mm
  • Interface: SATA-III 6Gb/s; backward compatible with SATA-II 3Gb/s
  • Max Sequential Read Speed: 560 MB/s
  • Max Sequential Write Speed: 470 MB/s
  • Max Random Read Speed: 87,000 IOPS
  • Max Random Write Speed: 95,000 IOPS
  • NAND Type: MLC
  • Ideal For: Gaming, Hard disk drive replacement, photo and video storage, and boot drives

Packaging and Accessories

The PNY XLR8 CS2211 solid state drive came packed in a simple black box with the PNY logo on the side.

Inside the box is the SSD itself as well as a 9.5mm adapter for usage in notebooks and laptops designed for the 9.5mm thick drives. By adding the adapter to the drive, you make sure that it’s firmly seated in the system and doesn’t rattle around.

Normally you’d get the drive in a more colourful wrapping and with an included registration key for the Acronis True Image cloning software. Review samples like this one sometimes come with a few things missing because the company is in a hurry to get the drives to us so we can test them for you – and they know that we don’t need the extras.

Intel Announces 540s and 5400s TLC SSDs

After a 4-year love affair with SandForce controllers, Intel has announced a new series of consumer and enterprise client SSDs that utilize new controllers. Dubbed the 540s and Pro 5400s, the new SSDs will supplement the 530 and 535 as well as the Pro 1500 and 2500 respectively that came before it. In a first for Intel, the new SSDs will use TLC NAND, not of their own making and a third party controller to boot.

First off, the new controller finally moves away from the SF 2281 from years ago. While the SandForce controller is still competitive, the older is showing its age, losing its competitive and lacking support for TLC. For these reasons, Intel has moved to Silicon Motion’s SM2256, their new controller capable of handling TLC. Despite its 4 channel design, the SM2256 has proven more than capable as a budget/mainstream controller in a variety of drives.

This leads right into the next NAND which is the more cost effective TLC. Due to the poor performance of TLC relative to MLC, the 540s and Pro 5400s will utilize a portion of the NAND as an SLC cache, a feature the SM2256 supports. Mirroring the 535, Intel continued to use NAND from SK Hynix, using their 16nm planar 128Gbit TLC. This makes the drives pretty similar to Adata’s SP550 rather than the Crucial BX200, both of whom combine the SM2256 with 16nm TLC NAND. Unless Intel has tweaked the firmware substantially, don’t expect performance to be much different than the aforementioned drives.

All said and done, the 540s and Pro 5400s won’t be the fastest SSDs running around. They will allow Intel to reach a wider market with what are likely to be some for their cheapest SSDs yet. The Pro 5400s offers additional enterprise features like Intel’s vPro and Remote Secure Erase as well as encryption features Opal 2.0 and Microsoft’s eDrive. Prices are not yet available and drives will come in 2.5″ and M.2 form factors.

Intel Accidentally Leaks i7-6950X Broadwell-E CPU Listing

As with most product launches, Intel has kept Broadwell-E largely under wraps. The few pieces of information that have come out have largely been from leaks. This all changes today as Intel has been the one to accidentally reveal information about the i7 6950X. On the list of Intel Management Engine downloads for the various Intel CPUs, a listing for the i7 6950X Broadwell-E has popped up.

While pretty plain as expected from the source, it does confirm a number of details. In line with previous leaks, the 6950X will the a 10 core giant, with the standard 2.5MB of L3 cache for a total of 25MB. Clock speed is also pretty much where we expected it to be, with a 3.5Ghz Turbo Boost clock off of the 3Ghz base clock. Even the listing it looks like Intel’s latest Management Engine is all set for Broadwell-E as well.

As we’ve reported earlier, Broadwell-E is expected to drop sometime in Q2 2016. This means the launch will be happening within the next 3 months. Expect pricing to be steep at about $1500 for the 6950X and $1000 for the 6900K. If AMD’s 8 core 3Ghz Zen performs well enough though, we may see a substantial price drop for Broadwell-E later in the year.

Lexar 512GB Portable SSD D512 USB 3.0 Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a closer look at fast external storage, more specifically Lexar’s newest portable SSD called the D512. Lexar also offers the drive in a smaller D256 version with 256GB capacity, but I have the pleasure to have to big 512GB model on the test bench today.

Right away we see that we have a small and compact drive which is perfect for a portable unit. On top of that, it is also a very light drive that you barely will notice when you have it packed next to the rest of your items. So we have a strong portable drive right of the start, but what about the performance. Performance has to match and that’s where a portable SSD shines over a flash drive. Both types of drives use NAND technology, but other than that there are big differences.

Lexar’s portable SSD is capable of sequential transfer speeds up to 450MB/s when reading and 245MB/s writing which is pretty nice for a portable storage solution that is as small and light as the D512. The is no official rating for random performance, but we’ll naturally have a look at that once we get the benchmarks rolling.

The tiny D512 provides plenty of space for you while you are on the go and travel about. Whether you want to take along you movie collect, music library, and photos, you’re covered with plenty of storage. It is also an optimal drive to unload all your vacation photos onto from memory cards and portable capture devices.

One of the unique things that come with the D512 is the capacity meter on the front. The first five LEDs act as such and will light up as the drive gets filled with data. This allows you an instant view on the drive fillage as soon as you plug it into your system. The second unique feature works in conjunction with Lexar’s other Workflow products. The new portable SSD uses the same form factor and connector which makes it compatible with the Workflow drive hubs. Just plug the drive in and you are good to go. I love the Workflow system so much and use it almost every day for my work here at eTeknix.

The drive is also highly compatible when it comes to volume setup as it supports both NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. On its own, the drive is fully plug-and-play and doesn’t require any drivers or tools of any sort. This naturally originates from USB standard that is plug-and-play by definition.

Lexar is part of the Micron Group which also means that the drive is equipped with some of the best NAND flash on the market and that has undergone high-grade quality checks before assembly.

Feature Highlights

  • SSD-level performance — up to 450MB/s read and 245MB/s write speeds
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Available in 256GB and 512GB capacity options
  • LED capacity meter displays available storage space
  • Great for use with Lexar Professional Workflow line products
  • Two-year limited warranty

Package and Accessories

Lexar packed the 512GB Portable SSD in a neat white box that shows the drive’s look and basic specifications on the top.

The bottom of the box also has the system requirements, which is a USB port, as well as the basic specification again, but in several languages.

Inside the box, you will find the portable SSD itself as well as a USB 3.0 cable.

Both sides of the drive are covered with a protective plastic film to make sure it arrives scratch-free in your hands. It also gives you that little bit of joy it is to remove the film from your brand new device.

Silverstone AR07 & AR08 CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


SilverStone is back on eTeknix again today, with their new AR07 and AR08 CPU coolers. Both coolers are designed to be affordable, quiet, stylish and pack great value for money performance. We’re going to be putting both of them on our test bench today, and while we’re expecting the bigger AR07 to offer up better performance, we’re still eager to see what the smaller and more affordable AR08 is capable of.

“The Argon series coolers are designed to provide the best cooling solution for your CPU. To improve performance even further, unique and exclusive heatsink fin designs such as interweaving diamond edge and arrow guides are included. For users looking for a no-nonsense top performing cooler without the premium price, the Argon AR07 is the perfect choice.” – SilverStone

Both coolers come equipped with a triple heat pipe design and a high-quality fan tuned for silence. The AR07 has three 8mm thick pipes, a 140mm PWM fan and the AR08 uses 6mm pipes with a 92mm PWM fan.

Argon Series AR07

  • Great balance of silence and performance
  • Unique interweaving diamond edged fins for improved performance
  • Exclusive arrow guides distribute airflow evenly among heat pipes
  • Three Ø8mm heat-pipes and aluminum fins for excellent heat conducting efficiency
  • Heat-pipe direct contact (HDC) technology
  • Includes compact 140mm PWM fan for excellent cooling and low noise
  • Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening

Argon Series AR08

  • Great balance of silence and performance
  • Unique interweaving diamond edged fins for improved performance
  • Exclusive arrow guides distribute airflow evenly among heat pipes
  • Three Ø6mm heat-pipes and aluminum fins for excellent heat conducting efficiency
  • Heat-pipe direct contact (HDC) technology
  • Includes compact 92mm PWM fan for excellent cooling and low noise
  • Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening
  • Intel Socket LGA775/115X/1366/2011 and AMD Socket AM2/AM3/FM1/FM2 compatible

Both coolers come nicely packaged with all the main specifications detailed around the box, as well as lots of images showing the fan, fin stack, block, heat pipes design and more.

In the box, you’ll find fan clips, a universal backplate for Intel and an AMD bracket, mounting arms, 3M pads, as well as all the required screws and some thermal paste. Both coolers come with a very similar mounting kit, the only exception being that the AR07 comes with larger fan retention clips.

Giada Launches Compact yet Powerful i80 Mini-PC

Giada is no stranger to the compact systems, but the new i80 takes it to a whole new level with power in a compact chassis. The tiny i80 mini-PC is built on Intel’s NUC concept that packs plenty of power in a compact form factor and coupled with a fashionable appearance, as they call it. The i80 is using the latest Skylake-U processors and support dual 4K UHD resolution that makes it perfect for office work.

The Giada i80 features both HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort connectors for your monitors and they are powered by an Intel Graphics 520 GPU unit. There are two different models with different CPU, but other than that the two models are the same. One uses an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 2.5GHz and 2.8GHz boost while the other uses the smaller i3-6100U processor with 2..3GHz and no Turbo Boost 2.0.

You are able to install up to 16GB DDR3L-1600 MHz in these units via the two SO-DIMM slots which should be plenty for most work situations. The two slots also allow for dual-channel memory usage that gives a clear benefit over units that only feature one slot.

There are plenty of connection and control options. Starting on the front, there are two USB 3.0 ports next to a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR receiver.

The connections continue on the rear where we find the previously mentioned Mini-DisplayPort that supports 4K 60Hz resolutions and the HDMI port that allows 4K resolutions with 24Hz. There are two more USB 3.0 ports on the rear where you also find an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet connector and a TF card reader.

On the inside, you will find an integrated Realtek ALC662 audio codec that powers the two-in-on jack on the front. The Ethernet is powered by Intel’s i219LM controller.

You can expand the function with a full-length Mini-PCIe card that supports mSATA2, a half-length Mini-PCIe Wi-Fi or BT module, and install one mSATA3 drive as well as one 2.5-inch SATA3 drive with a maximum height of 7.5mm. That is quite a bit of expansion options for such a tiny system. speaking of tiny, the system only measures 116.6 x 111 x 47.1 mm

The larger i80-B5000 model comes with a suggested retail price of $380, but the price for the smaller i80-B3000 model wasn’t revealed at this time. Further details can also be found on the official product page.

ASUSTOR Launches Entry-Level Quad-Core AS32 Series NAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Features for the AS3202T and AS3204T

  • Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Automatic Overclocking to 2.24GHz)
  • RAID 1 Read Speed of up to 112+MB/s and Write Speed of up to 110+ MB/s
  • 2GB Built-in Dual-Channel DDR3L High-Speed Memory
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • Front of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
  • Back of Device: 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b Port
  • Infrared Receiver
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1 (AS3202T)
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10 (AS3204T)
  • Supports Seamless System Migration
  • Supports Largest Capacity Hard Disks on the Market (8TB)
  • Supports Intel AES-NI Hardware Encryption Engine

Intel Announces New 3D NAND SSD Lineup

Intel has had a set of super-fast high-speed SSDs based on the cutting edge 3D NAND flash storage chips in the works for some time now, with the first of these drives having been announced on Thursday. This lineup of SSDs combine both amazing speed and capacities of up to 2TB, which may seem impressive, but some customers have been left disappointed, expecting the drives to be capable of up to 10TB.

The drives announced by Intel that make use of 3D NAND include the SD DC P3320, SSD DC 3520, SSD DC D3700 and D3600, which are all targeted at data centers, workstations, storage arrays and other heavyweight business uses. The drives were designed with the needs of enterprises in mind, developing them with a focus on speed, durability and reliability over sheer capacity, which leaves them a long way behind Samsung’s 15.36TB PM1633a SSD.

Intel’s drives make use of Micron’s 3D NAND chips, which only started being shipped last month. These 3D NAND flash storage chips offer improvements in both speed and density compared to typical flash storage as the storage cells are layered on top of one another, instead of side-by-side. That closeness also allows for far higher transfer speeds. In order to capitalize on these speeds, these SSDs connect to PCI Express 3.0 slots, which allows for higher data rates than typical SATA. This has been shown as the drives are capable of data rates of 365,000 input-output per second for read operations and 22,000 IOPS for writes. Sequentially, the read speed is 1600 megabytes per second, and the write 1400 megabytes per second, making it significantly faster than Intel’s previous SSD, the DC S3510. The DC D3700 and D3600 are even able to make use of multiple PCI-E slots in order to boost the speeds even further, offering as much as a 25% speed increase for some operations.

Unfortunately, both the price and the release date for the drives are yet to be revealed, with the only clue being that they would hit the market sometime in the second quarter of 2016.

Intel’s New Broadwell Xeon Chips Will have 22 Cores

In a growing trend for Intel’s server targeted chips, this Thursday they released the newest Xeon E5-2600 processors, which contain as many as 22 cores.

The move to developing chips with an ever-increasing number of cores allows them to cater to the needs of cloud and mobile service providers, whose servers make full use of multiple cores and processing threads to allow more video and applications to be streamed from a single server simultaneously. The chips also provide benefits in workstation usage. When combined with a powerful graphics processor, it will be able to assist in the development of cutting-edge, high-quality experiences such as virtual reality applications and 4K video editing.

The Xeon E5-2600 v4 lineup includes 27 different chips, all based on the new Broadwell microarchitecture. Broadwell offers a number of improvements which allows these new chips to offer as much as a 5% increase in speed over previous generation Haswell architecture chips. According to tests run by Dell using SAP benchmarks on a Linux OS, the new chips were observed to be as much as 28% faster than their predecessors. The main issue with chips packing so many cores is cooling as a result, the frequency of the top-line 22-core Xeon E5-2699 v4 has had to be set to 2.2 GHz, where it still draws 145 watts of power.

Of course, these chips aren’t for the average consumer, with the prices for these new chips peaking at $4,115 for the 22 core model. For their largest customers, Intel is even willing to deliver customized versions of these new Xeons, which we can be sure will hold an even heftier price tag.

Gelid Antarctica Ultra-Quiet Tower CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


Gelid are one of the most legendary cooling companies in the world and while you may not think of them first when you’re looking at a new CPU cooler, they’re the top choice for many system builders, enthusiast overclockers, and all of us here at eTeknix for our test benches, when it comes to Thermalpaste. Gelid GC-Extreme has been a popular choice for many years, and it’s with that in mind that we know that Gelid has a fair bit of knowledge when it comes to thermal performance in the PC market.

“The Antarctica comes with a 3D optimized heatsink that offers best-in-class thermal performance. The engineers of GELID Solutions especially designed a set of 5 power heat pipes, aluminum fins with improved profiling and an additional smaller heatsink with a copper core. These elements provide exceptional heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink. Both heatsinks were created using precise software simulation and calculation during the development stage to ensure efficient air flow distribution at the lowest fan speed possible. The result, the Antarctica fully supports heat transfer of TDP 220W being paired with even very low-speed, virtually noiseless fans.” – Gelid

Their latest CPU cooler, the Gelid Antarctica, comes equipped with support for a wide range of CPUs, features a slim cooling tower to ensure it doesn’t conflict with motherboard VRM cooling or large RAM heatsinks, while being tall enough to provide great cooling performance. This is backed up by a high-quality 140mm PWM fan, which is designed to operate at low RPM, providing great airflow while maintaining whisper quiet performance. To make things even more appealing, it’s also backed up by a reassuring 5-year warranty.

“A silent 140mm fan with the intelligent GELID PWM (Pulse Width Module) control compliments the heatsink. The fan blades are optimized to deliver high air flow at low speed, and the newly designed PWM IC eliminates any clicking noise. The intelligent GELID PWM curve operates the fan in an extended speed range of 450 RPM to 1500 RPM, it constantly keeps the fan silent but accelerates speed whenever additional cooling is needed. With 2 sets of fan mounts, a second fan can be installed to improve the cooler’s outstanding performance even further. Additionally, the multi-award winning high performance GC-Extreme thermal compound is already included in the package.” – Gelid

The packaging is pretty straight forward, nothing too fancy overall, but a nice image of the cooler as well as detailing support for Skylake CPUs.

Around the back, we can see that the cooler supports a huge range of CPUs, right back to 775 and old AMD sockets. There’s also 2011 support, but you’ll need to purchase a separate bracket for it.

In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation, as well as a bag of fitting components.

There’s a backplate for both Intel and AMD motherboards, two mounting arms, four fan retention clips, high-quality screws, a sticker and a very welcome tube of Gelid’s award-winning GC-Extreme thermal paste; the same paste we use for all our cooling reviews!