D-Link DXE-820T Dual Port 10Gbase NIC Adapter Review

Introduction


Among our recent upgrade to 10 Gbit networking here in the eTeknix review section wasn’t just the awesome 12-port smart switch that we saw a little while ago, D-Link also supplied me with a DXE-820T dual-port 10 Gbit Ethernet Network card to be able to connect with the switch in full speed. After all, what good does a 10 Gbps switch do when my test rig doesn’t have the same kind of performance.

The D-Link DXE-820T is a dual-port 10 GBASE-T RJ-45 PCI Express high-performance adapter designed for the high-speed PCI Express bus architecture. This adapter offers the increased bandwidth needed in modern environments as well as being a reliable and functional PCI network card. It has been specifically designed to allow throughput at rates up to 40 Gbps, thus eliminating the bottleneck that exists with current 32 and 64-bit PCI bus architectures.

The DXE-820T requires a PCI-E v2 x8 or x16 slot for enough bandwidth, but you don’t need to provide any extra power connectors or other things besides your network cables, naturally. The card is capable of a transmitting distance of up to 100m with Cat 6A or higher in 10 GBASE-T mode and up to 100m with Cat 5 type cables in Gigabit mode. This makes the placement of the switch a lot easier.

The DXE-820T features TCP, UDP, and IP checksum offloading functionality, which transfers the checksum processing tasks from the computer’s own CPU and onto the network card itself. The DXE-820T’s ability to handle the checksum processing means that the CPU’s processing power can be used for other tasks while still achieving 20 Gbps network speeds. It also means that the network card needs some extra cooling in the form of an active fan as well as a passive heatsink.

The adapter also features an onboard screening of 802.1Q VLAN tagged Ethernet frames, allowing you to assign multiple subnets to each server and isolate devices within each VLAN from the rest of the network for better traffic control and security. With support for advanced features such as 802.3x flow control, jumbo frames, and SNMP for network management, the DXE-820T can easily interoperate with your current networking equipment.

With two ports at your disposal, you can increase the network throughput even further than the 10 Gbit per second on each port. With Smart Load BalancingTM, the DXE-820T can configure multiple adapters to work as a team, sharing traffic and ensuring data reliability. This both creates a faster network and provides fault tolerance resulting in a stable and efficient network.

The low profile design allows the deployment in space restricted areas and D-Link also included a low-profile slot cover right away. The card itself is powered by Broadcom’s BCM57810 chip.

The card naturally supports Jumbo Frames for optimized setups and it allows for values up to 9K. The DXE-820T is compatible with all major operating systems with drivers available for both user systems and server systems such as Windows Server 2012 or Solaris 11.

Feature Highlights

  • High-Speed data transmission at rates up to 40Gbps allow for seamless data transfer.
  • 10GBASE-T technology supports distances to 100m over CAT6A or better copper cable.
  • Advanced Features: 802.3x flow control for traffic management, 802.1Q VLAN tagging for increased security, and checksum offloading to reduce CPU processing burden.
  • Bandwidth Management: NIC partitioning enables administrators to manage bandwidth for greater network efficiency.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The DXE-820T NIC card comes in a very neutral box that only really reveals that we have a D-Link product inside. But it’s a network card and it isn’t like you would put the box in the display after installing the card anyway, so simply is good.

We do find a little sticker on the rear of the box that reveals what is inside, the model number along with serial, mac address, and hardware version.

There is both a driver disk and a quick installation manual inside the box, and D-Link also included a low-profile bracket for use in small-form-factor systems. Everything you need to get going with that extra speed.

Innodisk Introduces M.2 Module Network Adapters

You might know Innodisk as a storage and memory manufacturer, but that isn’t the only thing that this company creates. They also produce a lot of embedded solutions and modules and the newest in this range is also a world’s first: A new M.2 form factor Single and Dual Gigabit Ethernet Module that doesn’t require extra drivers.

The single port module is called the EGUL-G101 and the dual port module that supports port trunking and link aggregation is called the EGUL-G201. The modules are built-in a 22×60 (60mm long) form factor which could be an issue with some boards that only take 2280 modules, however, newer boards take 40, 60, and 80mm modules.

The EGUL modules use the USB 3.0 standard that provides up to 5Gb/s throughput, plenty for even the dual EGUL-201 that only needs 2Gb/s. Unlike PCI-express based network cards, the EGUL modules can be used on both Windows and Linux platforms without the need for extra drivers and provide flexible network expansion for all kinds of embedded systems.

The modules use an industrial grade design, suitable for use in commercial systems. The EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 are built with strong electrical isolation and 30 micro-inch gold interface connectors for a robust connection. The ethernet modules feature 15kV ESD, 2kV HiPot and 2kV surge protection, preventing electrical damage to the system and connected components from potential differences or dirty electrical conditions while also maintaining signal integrity.

There are multiple daughterboards available, allowing you to set the actual RJ45 ports where you need them and where your case or rack allows you to mount them.

The new EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 modules should be available now, meaning they will arrive at resellers very shortly. It is really nice to see some available options in the M.2 form factor that previously was known as the next-generation form factor (NGFF). For a next generation, there have been way too few options for too long.

Features

  • Single/Dual isolated GbE LAN ports
  • Complies with EN61000-4-5 2kV Surge protection
  • Complies with IEC 60950-1:2005 + A1: 2009 + A2:2013 2kV HiPOT protection
  • Complies with EN61000-4-2 (ESD) Air-15kV, Contact-8kV
  • Flexible daughter board with cable to fit into different system
  • Optional terminal mounting hole or bracket for daughter board
  • Support native CDC-ECM driver in Linux
  • Support driver auto-install mode in Windows
  • 30µ ” golden finger, 3 years warranty
  • Industrial design, manufactured in Innodisk Taiwan

Giada Unveiled the Compact and Fan-Less F210 Mini-PC

Giada’s newest mini-PC packs quite a punch in the specifications despite coming with a low price. The Giada F210 mini-PC is built with an efficient Intel Cherry Trail Processor making it a perfect thin-client. There are two models of the F210 that differentiate in onboard memory and eMMC storage. There is a small model with 1GB memory and 8GB eMMC storage and a bigger brother with 2GB memory and 32GB eMMC storage. Both come with Wi-Fi, but it is only the bigger of the two that also has Bluetooth. The F210 is compatible with both Windows, including Windows 10, and also Android for those who prefer to run that.

The Giada F210 comes in an all-metal chassis that provides better protection for the internal parts, both from damage as well as electromagnetic interference (EMI). The design also helps the unit when running as 24/7 units over long periods of time thanks to the improved heat dissipation and general low working temperature. It only measures 116.6 x 107.2 x 30 mm and it can be VESA mounted too.

The Giada F210 has plenty of connection abilities despite the tiny size. You get three USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port on the front next to the Microphone in and audio out connectors. On the side of the unit you’ll also find a COM port.

TheF210 also allows you to setup dual graphics output with both a VGA and HDMI connector. Gigabit Ethernet is also part of the deal so you don’t have to rely on the included WiFi ability.

Rivet Networks Launches Killer E2400 Ethernet Controller

Rivet Networks released their newest LAN controller yesterday, they brand new Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet controller that is said to deliver unprecedented speed, intelligence, and control for the ultimate networking experience. The new LAN controller adds to the already impressive predecessor with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 to offer cutting-edge network data detection and network optimization technology.

The Killer E2400 LAN chip automatically detects and prioritizes specific website traffic in addition to networked applications and games. It also provides two additional network priority levels for a total of six different priority levels to take full advantage of the enhanced application and website detection. The adapter is said to outperform the competition by up to 10 times when multi-tasking and being up to 50 percent faster at single application usage.

The Killer E2400 also works together with the Killer Wireless products via Killer DoubleShot Pro technology, which uses both Killer Ethernet and Killer Wireless interfaces simultaneously to automatically route high priority traffic to the fastest connection. For the absolute best connection, you can couple two of these chips together with the Killer Wireless-AC to get a DoubleShot-X3 Pro connection with up to 2.867 Gbps throughput.

The new Killer E2400 LAN controller is being released in partnership with MSI and GIGABYTE whole feature them on some of their best new Z170 motherboards such as the MSI Z170A GAMING M9 ACK, the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING, the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7, and the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming GT.

Killer E2400 Features:

  • Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 offers the most advanced network data detection available in consumer products today. Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 automatically classifies and prioritizes network traffic for online games, HD video, and specific websites for better quality and fewer interruptions in a user’s online experience
  • Lag and Latency Reduction Technology designed specifically to reduce latency and improve online gaming and HD video performance
  • Visual Bandwidth Control shows which applications and websites are monopolizing bandwidth and gives users the control to optimize performance by adjusting priorities and setting bandwidth limits so that low priority traffic doesn’t interfere with multimedia applications or favorite websites

MSI Launches New Pro 24 2M All-In-One PC

MSI has been busy getting everything updated and ready for the Windows 10 launch and we’ve seen quite a few new products launched these few days. The latest on is an all-in-one PC called the Pro 24 2M and it is as the name suggests from the professional series of all-in-one PCs.

The Pro 24 2M is fully compatible with Windows 10 and also comes with the brand new operating system installed. It is  based on an Intel Core i5-4460S CPU and the Intel H81 chipset. It comes with 4GB DDR3 memory and can be upgraded to 16GB total. The 500GB 3.5-inch hard drive takes care of the storage while it also features a card reader and plenty of other connectivity options.

The Pro 24 2M can be used with two types of stands. By default it is delivered with the holder, in this diagonal stance it’s an ideal standing work solution. Optional there is a foot stand, which makes it possible to make use of more flexible modes and angles.

You get Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0, and four USB 3.0 ports next to the HDMI and D-Sub VGA outs. It also features two serial ports and audio jacks. The monitor is a 23.6-inch LED backlight panel with full HD resolution and 2-point touch. It also comes with a front facing 1MP web camera.

Realtek DRAGON LAN Chip Spotted

The onboard Local Area Network (LAN) is a massively overlooked part of your system; most users tend to buy on the impulse of shiny heatsinks, colour scheme or maybe because it has so many USB 3.1 ports. Despite the lack of consumer interest, companies manufacturer ultra high-speed LAN chips which offer consumers the best in wired internet connections.

Realtek is one of the oldest in the business, along with Intel and Killer (Qualcomm), the three dominate the LAN option market. Up until recent, Killer has held the top spot for gamers with some of the best connections available, regularly hitting within 90% of the listed speeds. Well, now Realtek has produced a new chip, dubbed “Dragon”.

The current RTL8111 chip is aging and lagging behind the competitors, Dragon is based on the new RTL8118AS design. Realtek states is has made numerous improvements over the previous generations, set to offer better performance for traffic with small UDP packets; which incidentally is how most online multiplayer games send information.

Along with the new name comes a new branding logo, which manufacturers will be able to print directly onto the PCB instead of the entire company name. The new chip is set to launch on the upcoming LGA1151 motherboards from ECS.

Are you using onboard LAN networking? What brand is it? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to Anandtech via TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Dreamhack LAN Event Coming to London This Year!

Have you heard about DreamHack? You haven’t? Well, you should know that it is the biggest computer festival in the world! The best part about it is that it will be hosted at the Copper Box Arena in London this September.

The event started out as a StarCraft II competition back in 2012, making its way across Europe to get fans and professional gamers involved. However, not only does DreamHack come to the UK for the first time this year, it also added a new title to the event, namely Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

The UK seems to be the seventh country the event is expanding into, having already scooped up 104,000 visitors and 15 million unique visitors via live stream last year.

DreamHack is opened to everyone, either professional or amateur gamer, with a grand prize of $40,000 for the best player put up for grabs. Tickets seem to be £10 for one day or £18 for both days. The event will be in London between the 19th and 20th of September, after which it will head over to Stockholm, Cluj-Napoca, Winter and Moscow.

More details about the event and 2016 dates can be found over on the official website here. So what do you think? Are you going to attend? Let us know!

Thank you Bit-Tech for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of eSPORTSGO

Carmageddon: Reincarnation Final Release Now Available on Steam

Here it is ladies and gentlemen, fans of Carmageddon and chaos raging peeps, the moment you have all been waiting for. The video games that best shows “everything that’s wrong in society”, Carmageddon: Reincarnation, is now out of Early Access and into its final release on Steam.

Stainless Games surprisingly kept the original look and feel of the original Carmageddon title in this latest release, having it come with 24 different vehicles or 25 if you count the Kickstarter bonus vehicle, 9 maps and 36 unique routes.

Fans looking to play the single player mode have 16 chapters fitted with up to 4 events each, so there’s plenty to do and run over in the latter game mode. But why spend too much time running over cows and people when you can bash your friends in multiplayer mode?

Carmageddon: Reincarnation comes with up a multiplayer mode that holds up to 8 players on an online map session. However, the best thing about the multiplayer mode is that it even has support for LAN. This means that we will see a lot of LAN parties and total vehicle mayhem in the near future.

There are 6 multiplayer modes, including Death Race, Fox ‘n’ Hounds, Checkpoint Stampede and Car Crusher. But the best mode in my opinion is Classic Carmageddon, which can bring back a lot of the old style car mayhem memories.

If you don’t have a PC to play the title, don’t worry. A PS4 and Xbox One version is also in the works, which the company plans on releasing later on this year. But until then, what do you think of the title so far? Is it everything you wanted to see in a Carmageddon series?

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Steam

Netgear Releases Two New Powerline 1200 Network Kits

Powerline network adapters are growing a lot in popularity as the amount of connected devices in our homes also are growing. Wireless signals aren’t the optimal choice everywhere and there are also those of us that are worried about too many signals everywhere. You might not want to drill lots of holes through your walls either in order to run a network cable from here to there and everywhere and that is where the powerline adapters come into play.

You plug one in near your network connection and another where you need to connect a device. And that is all, the connection will be made using the existing power lines running through your home. Netgear’s two newest kits, the PL1200 and the PLP1200, can deliver up to 1.2Gbps transfer speed under optimal conditions. The only thing that is different on the two new kits is that one of them has pass-through so you won’t have to give up the power outlet for other devices and the other one doesn’t.

“Powerline has become an increasingly popular networking solution because of the explosive growth in connected AV devices, and the high speeds and reliability required to support demanding applications such as HD video streaming and online gaming,” said Oleg Fishel, the product line manager for NETGEAR Powerline. “With powerline technology, you can take advantage of your existing electrical outlets in every room and don’t need to run new wires to get fast, uninterrupted access to the Internet and the home network.”

The two new kits are fully compliant with the HomePlug AV2 standard so you won’t run into compatibility issues with other powerline adapters. Multiple simultaneous data streams (MIMO) with beamforming technology allows the NETGEAR Powerline 1200 adapters to deliver gigabit speed at even longer distances, ideal for 4K video streaming, lag-free online gaming, or whole-home video monitoring. You can add up to 16 adapters to expand your home network and they automatically enter power saving modes when not used.

 

The “Pick-a-Plug” function allows you to find the optimal power outlet where a LED indicator light will guide you to the perfect outlet to use, where you’ll get the best performance. The Powerline 1200 Adapter (PL1200) Kit is available now in the U.S. from major retailers in stores and online at an MSRP starting at $79.99, and will become available in Europe later this month. The Powerline 1200 + Extra Outlet Adapter (PLP1200) Kit will become available in the U.S. and Europe in May at an MSRP starting at $89.99 in the U.S. Both kits contain two adapters and two Ethernet cables.

Diamond DS3900V2 UltraDock Docking Station Review

Introduction


It doesn’t matter if you got the new Apple Macbook with just one USB port or any other system, you always have too few, especially on your portable computers. The Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video USB 3.0/2.0 docking station enables multiple USB devices, monitors, and a network to be connected to the computer using a single USB3.0 cable. It doesn’t matter if you want to connect to your large screen displays, stereo speakers, external hard drive, optical disk drive, printer, USB keyboard, mouse or any other USB devices, the DS3900 has it covered.

Any laptop, Ultrabook, MacBook, just as well as any other PC, can connect to the Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock docking station, eliminating the need to plug in all USB peripherals and external monitor every time you come into the office or go back home. Just plug in the one USB 3.0 cable from the docking station to any USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port on the laptop and your displays and accessories will be activated in seconds.

Most laptop manufacturers also build some sort of docking station for their systems, but they usually come with a pretty hefty price as well as being limited for use with specific models. Not so with Diamond’s universal solution. One of the big advantages of having a docking station at home, is that you don’t need to connect every single cable when you get home, a single one will do the trick and all your hardware is hooked up. Even audio is covered.

The single USB 3.0 uplink provides two USB 3.0 ports where one of them supports quick charge (BC1/2 battery charging function) for iPad and iPhones. Further, it has four USB 2.0 ports as well as an IEEE 802.3, 802.3u, and 802.3ab compatible RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port with full support for IPv4 and IPv6, full-duplex, and flow control. Just like it should be.

On the video side of things, the DS3900 is using a DisplayLink DL-3900 chipset and it supports 1080p HDMI and DVI dual digital video output. Extend or mirror your display onto another monitor or set an external connected monitor as your default one, you won’t notice any difference between the use of this docking station and a native connection. It supports High Resolution up to 2048 x 1152 and the entire unit is DisplayLink certified. Audio connections shouldn’t be left out, and they aren’t. It has two 3.5mm stereo jacks for audio output and microphone input.

The Diamond docking station measures 234 x 86 x 33 mm and weighs just 450 grams, light enough to make it portable as well. It does require Windows 7 Mac OS X, and newer versions to work, 1GB of memory, a 1.2GHz or faster SSE2 supporting CPU and 30MB free space for the installation and 10MB hard disk space for the drivers.

Besides the large rubber foot underneath the docking station, it also features a vertical stand for different optics and a smaller footprint. The metal foot is heavy enough to give the station a sturdy stand, even when heavy cables are connected to it. The rubber foot can be slid off and then you just hang the station onto the stand. Very simple and it looks awesome.

Diamond created a what looks to be a solid docking station, one where you only need to connect one cable to your system and in return you get full connectivity including dual display, audio, network, and USB 3.0 speed.

The package includes everything that you need, including a DVI to VGA adapter, power supply, vertical stand, USB cable, manuals, and driver disk.

GIGABYTE Is Part of the Big Charity Raffle at Insomnia 54

GIGABYTE, among others, are holding a big charity raffle at the Multiplay Insomnia i54 LAN event at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry this weekend, and it’s for a really worthy cause. There will be two raffles taking place at the Tesoro stand, one on Friday the 3rd of April and the second on the 4th of April, and you can win great prizes including AOC monitors, HyperX SDD’s, Antec cases, Tesoro keyboards and high-end GIGABYTE X99 and Z97 motherboards as well as a BRIX projector.

All proceeds will be donated to the local charity Zoë’s place, a baby hospice providing palliative, respite and end of life care for babies and infants aged from birth to five years suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. This is truly a worthy cause and I hope a lot of the gamers attending the Insomnia event will be very generous. And with the bonus of  having a chance to win amazing hardware, this really is a no-brainer. Participate!

 

GAME Acquires Multiplay for £20 Million!

It has been announced that GAME has acquired Multiplay, the company responsible for the Insomnia gaming events in the UK, for £20m.

As an avid gamer, modder and LAN attendee myself, it comes as no surprise that I attend the largest UK gaming event there is, Insomnia. These events started in 1999 with less than 50 attendees per event and rapidly grew to where we are now; a huge event with thousands of attendees per day and over 65 thousand people in total last year. Insomnia has a lot to offer, it has LAN gaming halls, exhibitions, special guests, eSports tournaments and more. The events have been increasingly getting more corporate and now GAME have taken notice and bought the business for an impressive £20M.

It is reported that Multiplay CEO Craig Fletcher will still be in charge of the event, but will now be reporting to GAME. Will this mean any changes to the events? Well, I hope not. I have attended around 20 Insomnia events, either working, as a BYOC gamer or as an exhibitor and I have booked time off for all 3 events this year. I hope with this acquisition we don’t see it turn into some kind of event tailored just to make money and goes back to catering to the gaming communities more than businesses. GAME has been in quite a lot of trouble in recent years, and even went into administration in 2012, so it is good to see that they are branching out into new areas. It’s important that they look to eSports and online gaming more increase their market, this seems an excellent way for them to do so.

Multiplay’s Craig Fletcher said: “GAME and Multiplay are both passionate about games and gaming, building valuable communities of gamers and putting customers first. Over the years we’ve worked closely with the GAME team on many occasions and come to know them well.”

I can only say that time will tell and the community will be the final judge. I hope to have a chat with Craig Fletcher in the coming days to see if we can get some more information as myself and eTeknix are huge fans of the event.

Thanks to MCV for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Insomnia

Tenda AV1000 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Review

Introduction


Setting up your home network can be a real hassle at times. You have the option of wireless signals, but that includes configurations as well as possible black-spots for the signal. Drilling holes through your walls might not be an option either, maybe because you rent and your landlord doesn’t want you to. So what option do you got left, you ask? Easy, use your existing power lines to transfer the signal. The Tenda AV1000 Gigabit Powerline Adapter is such a solution, and today I’m taking a look at the Starter kit.

The Ethernet over power circuitry is a great invention and one that has come quite a far since it started. The first devices only allowed for 100Mbit/s and some time later 200 Mbit/s speed, and that under the best conditions. While this might be enough for any internet traffic, it isn’t optimal for home networks that also handle a lot of file traffic between devices. Since then we’ve moved through the 500 and 600 MBit/s models and have now arrived at the full gigabit speed. And as the AV1000 name already suggests, I’m testing on of those today.

The increased speed capabilities make 3D/HD and other IPTV technologies work smoothly, even when multiple devices use the network at the same time. The powerline adapters are starting to become a real alternative to long cables while staying just easy configuration wise. The entire system is plug and play, so all you have to do is connect it, but there is a management software to change the Quality-of-Service (QoS) priority settings.

The Tenda AV1000 supports IGMP snooping, a process of listening to the Internet Group Management Protocol network traffic. By listening to these conversations, the switch maintains a map of which links need which IP multicast streams. It also has a 128-Bit AES encryption as well as the QoS service that can prioritize business traffic firstly, such as IPTV signals.

Tenda also made sure the devices are compatible with the latest AV2 HomePlug standards and are downwards compatible with 200M, 500M and 600M powerline products. It doesn’t matter if your other adapters are from Tenda, as long as they support the given standards. This in returns allows you to easily expand your current adapters with these new Gigabit ones without the need to scrap the old. That is awesome, if I may say so.

Each of the two P1000 adapters contained in this kit will only consume 0.5 watts in standby mode and the white design will make the devices just as invisible on your wall as the tiny power consumption on your power bill.

BIOSTAR Introducing Built-In LAN Surge Protection For Motherboards

BIOSTAR has introduced a new protection that will be added to all their future motherboards, the new Super LAN Surge Protection. This SLSP should give increased protection from large power surges such as lightning strikes by using additional hardware devices and chips. BIOSTAR’s SLSP will be able to ensure that the motherboards have a high degree of protection from such surges and will be limiting surge voltages until they reach safe levels.

BIOSTAR is blowing their own horn a bit as being the first to introduce this feature, which is quite a bold statement considering that there are several board manufacturers that have surge protection on their LAN ports already. So whether this is a much better protection, or they mean that they are the first to introduce it to all motherboards no matter of series, that is something we’ll have to wait for more information to find out.

Being first or not aside, more protections for out components are welcome at any time, so keep them features coming.

Thanks to BIOSTAR for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of BIOSTAR

LSU Computer Society (lsucs) LAN Party – Loughborough

At eTeknix, we are always trying to find ways to interact with our readers and what better way than to actually meet some of them, we realise this isn’t always easy, so we have come up with an idea. What we intend to do is find all of the LAN parties and events in the UK and try to attend them. Then, we will do a map of the UK showing where all these events are and also outline the best parts and what the event is like. This will mostly be happening on the eTeknix forums. You will also be able to discuss the event and also share all of your pictures.

So the first event I attended:

I decided to pop down to lsucs as it is rather close to my home address, I had never been to one of these events but I had heard good things from other members of the community. The LAN is run by the Loughborough Students Union Computer Society, which coincidently is how it gets its name. Due to the event being run by the students it means that the same people don’t run the event year after year, in fact, they have devised a way in which each member of the committee never does the same job more than once. This means that fresh ideas are always brought to the table and any good ideas can be carried forward. Having spoken to members of the committee, past and present, it seems once that you have been a part of lsucs you stay a part of it. A lot of the attendees return year after year whether its as admin, spectator or as a gamer.

The room seats approximately 150 people and has some room to expand

lsucs really have got the venue sussed, they use rooms from the James France Exhibition Centre which is on Loughbourgh University grounds. The first thing I actually noticed when I walked into the venue was how nice it was, clean carpeted floors rather than the cold hard floors of most events were a nice change! The venue can hold up to over 150 participants and even has room for sleeping, tables for eating or card games and also an area for consoles. There are some other facilities such as a microwave, a small fridge, a hot water urn and a little tuck shop so you are always good for snacks and drinks. There are also hot dogs and food orders throughout the day so that you get more than just snack food. The venue also has a very good internet connection, they make use of their buildings Gigabit internet connection.

The weekend competitions concluded with a game of Towerfall

There are many games played, such as League of Legends, BF4, Minecraft and even Truck simulator. There are also tournaments throughout the event such as CS:GO and Hearthstone with prizes such as Parvum cases to be won. Speaking of Parvum, this event is where they let their hair down, and I can see why, it’s a very relaxed and chilled out environment and very friendly. The lads from Parvum were showing off their usual amazing machines like the ones below, it seems to be having an effect on the lsucs crowd too, a lot of the attendees are using Parvum systems!

Caitlyn keeps watch over Parvum Systems new watercooled build

With Parvum being at the event, it really is hard to find any other systems that look as good, but I am going to put out a special little mention for this little work horse!

Function over beauty can sometimes be seen

I would like to thank lsucs for having me at the event. I had an excellent day and I will be attending future events as a participant. The LANs really are run well, they have a lot to offer and the people there are great. It really is a social event as well as a chance to get your game on.

The events are run quite regularly, 3 per semester, which equates to 6 a year. The next event is in just a weeks time, to find out more, visit them on Facebook or visit their website.

For more pictures of this event please look through the gallery below.

Dreamhack CEO Fired, Goes Out In a Blaze of… Hatred!

Being fired from your job isn’t a pleasant experience, and while the circumstances of Dreamhack CEO Robert Ohléns departure are currently unknown, it is pretty clear that he’s unhappy about the decision.

Dreamhack is the worlds biggest LAN gaming event, attracting thousands of gamers from around the world, as well as many of the worlds leading technology companies to the shows ever-growing exhibition hall. Robert was king for this event and has been integral to its success over the years, but now it seems his time has come to an end.

Robert is clearly furious over the loss of his job and what this means for the future of the event is currently unknown, but it’s clear that there is something unpleasant brewing at Dreamhack HQ. Current rumours are suggesting it is down to poor administration and organization of tournaments, something which has recently led to much dispute in the DOTA2 eSports community.

Here is Robert’s last tweet after the news broke of his departure. It doesn’t take much imagination to interpret his mood over the situation.

I’m not here to gloat at his misery, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours Robert. Hopefully, we’ll have a greater understand of what happened as well as what effect this may have on future Dreamhack events.

Thank you Reddit for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Twitter.

eSports “Not a Sport” Says ESPN Boss

ESPN President John Skipper was asked about the recent Twitch acquisition by Amazon, as well as the general rise of eSports and the gaming scene, his reply will no doubt shock to the wider gaming community.

“It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition….Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports,” he said, according to Re/code.

His words make no sense to me, I’m personally not fussed about eSports, I’d rather play a game than watch it, but there are millions of others who will happily fill an arena to see the DOTA II finals, and I think that is freaking awesome! I’ve never been much of a sports fan, but I see no difference from 50,000 people sitting and watching Star Craft II as there is people watching a snooker final. Both look like sports to me.

ESPN recently partnered with DOTA 2 to broadcast a preshow for The International on ESPN2, so for John to say this isn’t a sport, why on earth are they showing it on sports TV? With services such as Twitch and countless other streaming services, gaming events and everything else, I don’t know what benefit something like ESPN has for eSports anyway.

Why do you think Skipper is being so dismissive? Surely it would be within his interests to promote eSports as a fully fledged sporting event.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Forbes.

Thecus N4560 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


Over the last few years, the NAS market as a whole has been growing at a steady rate and in when we start to break things down and look at the rate of growth in the individual market sectors, the rate of sales in the consumer group has seen a far greater growth than any other market sector. Part of this growth is down to market exposure where users are seeing far more units on offer through both the retail and e-tail channels; however the price is a more crucial factor and this is what is now bringing the NAS concept into the limelight for the SOHO market. When we go back two to three years and look at the total cost of ownership; that’s the cost of purchasing the NAS itself along with drives to store data on then with the cost of running the unit – things were not looking that good and the price of one of a typical 4-bay system in some instances was easily a four-figure sum of money – in other words, simply too much of a cost to swallow considering you could easily buy a set of drives and whack them into your desktop system for a whole lot less.

Since that time, the total cost of ownership has dropped considerably, with the price per GB of hard disk storage at its best to date and with NAS products maturing with more and more features, but for a lower price we are now starting to see the SOHO NAS ownership numbers grow more and more to the point where if you want to share a large amount of data between multiple systems, the NAS is now the go to place for your storage needs.

In the latter part of last year I took a look at Thecus’ N2560 – a highly affordable system that brought style as well as substance to the SOHO market with a white plastic chassis and tool-free installation on the outside and inside one of the first SoC designs inside which offers a high amount of performance for its size whilst keeping the power consumption nice and low in the process. The N4560 that I’m taking a look at today is, as one may see, is an extension to the new line of affordable systems and alongside the larger space to accommodate four drives, the N4560 packs an Atom based SoC to keep the performance at a good level whilst keeping the power consumption down (although the choice of drive will have an impact on the total consumption) and to round the package off, we are presented with a good array of features, but not too many that would flood a rookie user with options, resulting in a confused experience.

The N4560 comes in a light blue coloured box and alongside the system itself we get a fairly standard Thecus bundle, including two sets of screws for 2.5″ and 3.5″ drive installation, keys to lock the drive bays, IEC kettle lead and patch lead and a spread of paperwork with warranty information, basic setup steps and a CD with desktop software to accompany the system.

Coolermaster, Speedlink & TteSports Budget Headset Head-to-Head Review

Introduction


If you’re on the market for a new headset, chances are you’ve got more than one option on your shopping list, you’ll be looking for the best return on investment and you’ll want to find the headset that is best suited to your needs. Today I’ll be departing from our usual headset review format and showing you three headsets, putting them head-to-head and finding the strengths and weaknesses of each. At my disposal I have the TteSports Cronos, the Speedlink Medua NX and the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300. They’re all quite varied in terms of features, price and style, but they all have one thing in common, they’re all available for under £60.

The TteSports by Thermaltake Cronos headset is priced around £55 from most major online retailers, making it the most expensive of the collection that I have here today. The Speedlink Medusa can be picked up at most major retailers for around £50, but a little Google-fu will net you a brand new one for around £40 from some of the top eBay sellers making it the second most expensive option and finally we have the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300, which can be picked up for a very affordable £28. I’m hoping that by covering these three products we can work out if you need to spend more money to get the kind of performance you desire, or perhaps you’ll be able to save yourself some money by downgrading. There is only one way to find out, so let’s put these headsets to the test, but first let’s take a closer look at what you get in the box.

First up we have the TteSports Cronos; in the box you’ll find the headset, a rubber sleeved 4-pole cable (for mobile use), a braided dual 3.5mm + USB power connector cable, a simple user guide and a nice quality protective bag.

The speed link Medusa comes hard-wired with a fairly standard cable and comes bundled with a quick install guide and a zip up protective bag.

Finally, we have the Ceres 300, which comes bundled with a user guide, a hard wired cable and a detachable boom microphone.

Asus RT-AC68U 802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless Router Review

Introduction


If I was to say the name Asus to a selection of people and ask what they would associate them with, I’d almost guarantee that none of them would say wireless or networking products in any way and this is quite understandable considering the fact that they are one of the biggest names out there on the market for motherboards and graphics card. Believe it or not though, networking has been something that Asus have been working on for a few years now and even though they have already got a wide selection of wireless and wired networking products out there, they are not as well-known about due to the bread and butter nature of their key product ranges.

As we are moving forward into an era where Gigabit wireless is becoming more of a common occurrence I’ve seen this as an ample opportunity to take a look at their latest and greatest wireless router, the RT-AC68U. Now considering this router is far more capable than the Netgear wireless access point and USB adaptor that I have, up to this point been using, I have therefore needed to employ a new wireless adaptor that is capable of equally delivering the same 1300Mbps connection speed that this router is capable of. Fortunately for me Asus also have a solution for this in the form of the PCE-AC68 PCI Express based wireless adaptor – I’ll have a separate review on this coming up shortly. With these wireless devices combined, we are looking at what is, at the moment, the pinnacle of wireless networking in the home and as we move forward and further into the capabilities of the 802.11ac standard – which I will add is currently nowhere near what its true potential is – we can get a better picture of what the next generation of consumer WiFi has to offer.

As we have seen though, pure performance is not the only thing that a router has to deliver these days, the feature set that each vendor has to be very rich, covering every possible eventuality that we may come across at a consumer and even a prosumer level. Now for the most part we find that a large number of these features will be somewhat similar to those found on other competing products. There is one small item that I will tease you with and one that will certainly catch the eye of any enthusiast; dual WAN capabilities. Before I get onto this little feature however there are a few other pieces to go through including what makes this router tick so to speak. Bring on what could be the most powerful router we have seen to date.

The accessory set for any router is pretty much set in stone and this setup is not that much different. Alongside the router, power cable and a single patch lead, there are a pair of interchangeable mains adaptors for the UK and EU markets, reference guide and manual on a CD with a paper Quick setup guide with a set of three external antennae rounding off the package.

InWin Booth At Insomnia i51 LAN Gaming Event

Here we are at the end of the exhibition hall coverage from Insomnia i51 LAN gaming festival and we’ve stopped by the very popular In Win booth to see what they have on display. Not only have they got a bunch of great games for you to sit down and play, but they’ve got all their gaming rigs fitted in a range of absolutely stunning chassis.

First up we have the In Win 904 and the smaller (but similar design) In Win 901, both offer a mixture of aluminium and glass that is unlike anything else on the market, if you want to know more about the 904 chassis, then you can check out our full review of it here.

The budget friendly, but very funky In Win GT1 was also on display, another great chassis which we reviewed a while back.

One of my all time favourite chassis was also on display, the In Win GR-One and this is still the chassis of choice for the In Win sponsored (and very successful) eSports team, Team Infused. I actually owned this chassis for quite a long time and it’s great to see that it’s as popular as ever.

That’s all from the In Win booth for today, but we can tell you that we’ve got some very special content from In Win in the coming months that you won’t want to miss, unfortunately I cannot tell you any more on this at this time. This also concludes our coverage for the exhibition hall here at Insomnia i51, but we expect we’ll be back at Insomnia i52 in the summer, and many of you will know that Summer LAN is more than twice the size, with thousands of gamers and a lot more exhibitors, so that’s certainly something to look forward to later this year.

Overclockers UK (OCUK) Booth At Insomnia i51

Here we are once again at Insomnia i51 LAN gaming event, as we stop by the Overclockers UK booth in the exhibition hall to see what they have to offer. Things have been really busy this weekend at the show, and with Overclockers UK being one of the biggest online retailers in the business, there has been high demand for their services at the show. The OCUK team are out in force as usual, offering their popular repair, installation and deliver to you desk services. The deliver to your desk has been a big hit for them at previous events and i51 is no exception.

Order a product on their website, either from your phone, computer or even from the spare computers on their booth, choose the i51 delivery option and they’ll bring the items directly to the show for you. This is great news for any gamers in the halls, imagine how many people have been rescued when their hard drive fails, or their PSU blows at the show! LAN gaming events are famous for being systems killers, especially given people run their systems harder, for longer and in a warmer environments than they typically would.

Here you can see the team hard at work fixing up a water cooling system for one of the event attendees gaming rigs, and the team is always happy to help, even cutting people a few deals when they’re in need of spare parts and upgrades.

On display they’ve a range of great gaming rigs that you can purchase from the team, they feature some of the latest and greatest gaming components around, catering to a wide range of budgets and requirements, all of which can be found on their website. For those not interested in buying a new rig, the team at OCUK still welcome you to pull up a seat, put on the headsets and play some of the best games around on their awesome gaming PC’s.

That’s everything from the OCUK booth at the show, but we expect they’ll be back once again at the much bigger Summer LAN event in August, stay tuned for more coverage of the show throughout the weekend.

PC Specialist Booth At Insomnia i51

PC Specialist are one of the hottest system integrators on the market today, they’ve been gaining in popularity year after year and we’re always happy to see them at the shows we visit. They’ve got loads of powerful gaming rigs on display, but the best one of all is this 4K gaming monster, there wasn’t a price on the rig, but given their custom building nature, I’m sure they’ll happily build you one for a couple of thousand pounds.

The 17.3″ 1080p Vortex X880 gaming laptop comes fitted out with a high end Nvidia GTX 765M and the powerful Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, making it a great weapon for those who want to game on the go. Sure it’s expensive at £1349.00, but you certainly get what you pay for.

The Optimus V is a little more affordable at just £799.00 and still features the same powerful CPU + GPU combination of the Vortex X880, but with a smaller 15.6″ screen, 8GB of ram and while it’s not exactly ugly, it’s not as pretty looking as the Vortex.

The Skyfire X14 is a bargain at just £649.00, packing the i5-4200MQ CPU, GTX 760M GPU, a 14″ LED display and 8GB of Hyper X memory, more than enough to enjoy many of today’s top gaming titles.

The Vanquish Mini is one of their more popular systems and its easy to see why, at just under £800 it’s packed with a high-end Intel Core i5-4670, GTX 760, 120GB Kingston SSD and the gorgeous Corsair Obsidian 250D chassis, it’s a great choice for those who need a compact gaming rig for the living room or for LAN gaming events.

Not that anyone here really cares about the gaming rigs, the booth is packed full of people eager to play the madness that is Goat Simulator, and after a five minute go on it myself, it’s easy to see what it’s so popular.

Finally we have the Infinity Trion, a budget friendly gaming rig that is ideal for mid range gaming and overkill for running games like Minecraft, but for just £375 you get great value from its AMD A8-6600K Quad Core APU and 8GB of Kingston Dual-DDR3 memory.

That’s everything from the PC Specialist booth for today, but check back shortly as we’ll have more great coverage from this weekends gaming event here in Coventry.

Cooler Master Booth At Insomnia i51 LAN Gaming Festival

Here we are at the Cooler Master and CM Storm booth at Insomnia i51 LAN gaming festival, there is loads to see and do at the show, for both gamers and day visitors who just want to come and join in the fun. Cooler Master are giving visitors a great opportunity to get hands on with many of their latest and greatest gaming peripherals, as well as try their hand at winning some prizes.

Their gorgeous Aluminium series Mech keyboard is always a popular choice and their typing challenge is a great way of putting the mechanical keyboard through its paces; type out the pattern on the screen in a fast enough time to win some cool prizes over the course of the weekend.

The quickest time can win the keyboard, which is worth £150, daily prizes of Recon gaming mice, and plenty of smaller prizes such as these cool new T-shirts, lanyards and stress balls.

The CM STorm Trigger Z, equipped with Black Cherry switches is really nice, featuring some sleek back and unlit keys, which is available at the show for just £79.99.

Their latest range of gaming mice are here too, including the awesome Recon, Reaper and Mizar hooked up to their Skorpion mouse cable bungee.

One of my favourite keyboards on show is the Stealth, blank key cap tops with some subtle markings on the front edge give the keyboard a sleek and rather unique design.

The QuickFire Ultimate offers stunning red LED backlighting, mechanical keys and a rugged design that make it ideal for gaming.

The Quick Fire XT offers a slightly more cut-down edition, offering the great gaming performance of mechanical keys, but the lack of LED backlighting offers a much more budget friendly price tag of £59.99.

A rack of Cosmos SE chassis are fitted out with high-end gaming rigs, each equipped with a range of Cooler Master and CM Storm peripherals so you can sit down and play Titanfall and Goat Simulator till your heart is content.

Those on a tighter budget can check out the Devastator bundle, a low-cost gaming keyboard and mouse combo. We especially like the membrane keyboard as it’s got a typing sensation similar to that of Cherry MX black switches.

That’s everything from the Cooler Master booth for today, but we’ll be back shortly with even more great coverage from the show. We’ll also be following up with Cooler Master in the coming weeks to bring you reviews of the new products they had on display.

Multiplay Insomnia i51 LAN Gaming Event Exhibition

We’re back once again at the Insomnia i51 gaming event here in Coventry, enjoying the rather stunning Ricoh arena that Multiplay have chosen for the event. We thought you would love to see some of the things that go on here at the show now that the event is at a new home so let’s take a look at what else you can find on the exhibition show floor.

Xbox One is here this year with their gaming 4×4, which has a huge rack of fold out hi-def screens and Xbox One consoles, great for trying out a big of Titanfall… although not as great as playing it on some of the epic gaming PC’s that are littered around the hall, that is of course if you can get past all the people waiting to play Goat Simulator, which has proven more popular than anything else this weekend, crazy!

As if one gaming bus wasn’t enough, Gamersbus.co.uk are here too, giving the Razer gaming bus a run for its money and offering loads of great titles to play on the inside. Unlike the Razer bus, you can actually rent this bad boy out for your own parties, very tempting.

The latest Square Enix title is a big hit this weekend too, with many gamers eager to get hands on with Nosgoth, so much so that I couldn’t even find a seat for a go myself, but from what I’ve seen, the game is shaping up rather nicely and I can’t wait to check it out in-detail later this year.

One of the most important exhibitors at the show is Special Effect, they’ve done countless great deeds to help those who have suffered physical disabilities, finding innovative ways to allow them to still enjoy the world of computer games. It’s an eyeopening experience to try out some of these purpose build controller yourself. Multiplay as well as many of us here at the show do our part to help them raise the funds they need to support their cause.

Vacant Mind Gaming are here too with this somewhat unique gaming rig, they offer custom builds for those who want something very different from your average gaming chassis. Can’t say I’m all that keen on this design, but I can see the appeal of something a bit different.

Apparently people still want to play Flappy Bird… although I will admit it plays better with a mouse than it does a touch screen.

Pull up a seat at the Chillblast stand and race your heart out on this gorgeous Logitech G25 racing wheel and triple Eyefinity gaming setup.

Oculus Rift is on show once again too, always great fun for a bit of mind-blowing FPS action and with the headset on and goggles on your face, it’s easy to forget the chaos and noise of the show around you.

We’ve still got plenty of great coverage from some of the coolest booths here at the show, so stay tuned for more coverage throughout the day.

eTeknix @ Multiplay Insomnia i51 LAN Gaming Event

The Insomnia i51 LAN gaming event in Coventry UK, hosted by Multiplay, is in full swing this weekend and the show just wouldn’t be the same without the eTeknix team stopping by to see what’s happening. There is more going on at the show than ever before this weekend and that is especially thanks to the brand new location for the event, having moved from the Telford International Centre to the stunning Richo Arena, which is located at the heart of the UK, making at an ideal location for gamers all over the UK. The new arena a grand football stadium and comes packed with facilities to handle larger crowds, offering up a Casino, plenty of bars and accommodation that make it a handy addition to the 24-hour a day party that Insomnia is legendary for.

Aside from the LAN gaming tournaments, legendary eSports teams competing against each other and a couple of thousand gamers brining their own rigs into the vast gaming halls, there are lots of things to see and do at Insomnia, so let’s walk the show floor and take a look at a small taste of what is on offer this year.

There is a huge range of manufacturers, retailers and gaming brands in the exhibition hall, offering loads of competitions, games to play, products to try out and more.

Gamers are well catered for, but Razer have pulled out all the stop by brining their own mobile gaming bus, a popular attraction here at the show, so much so that I couldn’t even get a go!

A returning favourite of ours, the retro gaming zone, everything from Atari to Sega Dreamcast classics are up and running here, lots of screens, retro controllers and a great way of wasting time. If I wasn’t working, I could sit here all day playing Goldeneye.

There are little pods everywhere, this one is courtesy of Razer and is fitted with a half dozen Xbox’s for gamers to kick back and battle their friends in games such as Fifa, all while using a range of awesome Razer peripherals of course.

PC gaming is well catered for also, with tournaments, demonstrations and more awesome peripherals to get hands on with alongside the Razor team.

The Minecraft presence at the show is as strong as ever, a popular attraction for the younger members of the audience, although there are plenty of adults who get in on the action too.

There is still a load of great stuff going on here at the show, so we’ll be back shortly with even more coverage of the booths and exhibitor show floor very shortly.

Linksys EA6900 AC1900 802.11ac Dual- Band Wireless Router Review

Introduction


When it comes to home networking there are a number of big names that come to mind and fortunately I have been able to put a number of products from these names to the test, however there has been one particular brand that I have been keen to get in touch with and establish a line of communications – namely Linksys. Believe it or not it is not always as simple as firing an email at someone and instantly getting products sent back in return as some may believe. After a few months of patiently waiting and after having a meeting with a few representatives from Linksys at this years CES in Las Vegas, I can finally say that I’m glad to have Linksys onboard and I look forward to having a good sniff through the stack of products that they have to offer.

Link some of the other big names in the consumer networking market – Netgear and TP-Link being just a couple of the other big names, Linksys have a massive following and also have a big history to back a successful line of products. After being formed in 1998, Linksys was bought out by Cisco Systems in 2003 and in the next ten years that followed, their name became synonymous with the WRT line of networking products. To put it in a simple way, if you was into your home networking, then Linksys’ WRT54G was the way to go – the OpenWRT project which was founded to develop the hacked router caused the popularity to explode to a new level. On a personal Level I have owned a number of Linksys routers over the years, in particular the WRT54g, WRT54Gs and the ADSL2+MUE modem amongst others. The power and flexibility that was on offer set these products head and shoulders above all else. In the more recent years, Linksys went under a second acquisition as Belkin then purchased the company in the early stages of the last year, ready to take them to the next level. Today Linksys is branded under its own name with the enthusiast and power user at the heart of their design, whilst Belkin branded items target the home and entry-level user.

As we all know, wireless networking over the last couple of years has been going through a radical set of changes, at a similar rate as the core desktop components and sin the last five years we have seen wireless speeds rise from 54Mbps right up to the Gigabit WiFi speeds of over 1000Mbps that we are no seeing today. In simple terms we are looking at well over 20x times the wireless bandwidth that we saw only ten years ago. As technology has moved on and our homes have become more enriched and entangled in our digital lives, the amount of power and speed that we have been demanding from our home networks has risen to greater and greater levels, thus the reason why we have seen such a rapid growth in wireless technology.

The EA6900 router that I’m taking a look at today is one of the latest generation Gigabit wireless routers to come to market and with this it brings some of the fastest wireless speeds that we have seen to date. Like many other current wireless routers, we get a pair of dual band radios, offering both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networking capacity with 802.11n speeds of up to 600Mbps on offer from the 2.4GHz band and the latest 802.11ac connectivity on the 5GHz band with a whopping speed of up to 1300Mbps on offer – yes that is faster than the current standard for LAN connections. Surrounding the super speed wireless connections the EA6900 also offers up four wired Gigabit Ethernet and Gigabit WAN port for super speed broadband connections, dual USB ports (1x USB2.0 & 1x USB3.0) for sharing storage and printers across the local network, topped off with a compelling user interface which offers up all the functionality that one would need from a high-end consumer router, but in an easy to use interface.

On paper things are looking good, but for me the real question is knowing if the Linksys that many of us knew in their hey-day has been kept close to heart or has this brand sadly become just another name on the shelf.

Inside the box, which itself gives us a good insight into what the router looks like and has to offer, we get a simple and to the point item list. Alongside the router and power cord we get three external antenna, a single CAT5e patch lead, a system resources CD and a quick setup guide to get things up and running. The packaging also points out that, like a few other routers that are now available, we have the option of downloading a mobile smart application for setting up and managing the router without the need for a desktop system.