Lian Li is one of the most prestigious chassis manufacturers and produces a huge range of elegant designs. The company has managed to attract customers wanting the very best possible materials and feel a premium chassis is worth the investment. Lian Li’s mini ITX train chassis really captured people’s attention and showcases their innovative approach. Their latest product is the DK-04 dubbed the world’s first standing computer desk. When compared to the previous desk chassis, the DK-04 offers better drive mounting, extensive water cooling support and of course the stand functionality. The legs are height adjustable from 67.5cm to 116cm with the press of a button. Aesthetically speaking, the DK-04 is remarkable and we’re looking into acquiring a review sample relatively soon.
Latest Vibration-Dampened Drive Storage and Inputs
With four stacking rubber-isolated drive racks, the DK-04 can mount a total of eight 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives with vibration dampeners. These racks are easy to install and remove via thumbscrews, and keep drives running quietly and reliably. This desk also includes a 5.25″ bay on the front panel for an ODD, fan controllers, or other extras. The front panel also includes four USB 3.0 ports, HD audio inputs, and slots for the RGB controller for the optional lighting kit.
Redesigned Ergonomics, Better Legroom
The DK-04 features a new design, sporting a slimmer frame that tapers towards the user for better leg room. As it’s a standing desk, the height can be fine-tuned to match each person; its legs are made from steel for structural strength – it can support loads up to 100kg.
Improved Water Cooling Support
Four 120mm fans intake cool air from the front of the chassis and vent through four additional exhaust fans mounted on the back panel. The DK-04 can also house very elaborate water cooling setups. The front intake fans can be swapped for a large 120mmx480mm radiator; the rear fans can be replaced by two 120mmx240mm radiators.
Updated Case Building Features
Along with Lian Li’s previous desks, the DK-04 uses a removable motherboard tray for easy, unhindered building. Inside the chassis, there are wide margins with anchored cable clips to simplify cable routing and organization. The internal compartment is spacious, bright, and visible. The DK-04 supports eight expansion slots and VGA cards up to 320mm in length. It supports full ATX and mATX motherboards and mounts CPU coolers up to 140mm in height and ATX PSUs up to 210mm long.
The DK-04 will be available on May 10th for $1499.
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.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Part Number: SSD7CS2211-240-RB
Form Factor: 2.5 inch
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.
Lian Li has forged a reputation as one of the most prestigious case manufacturers in the industry and produces a huge range of premium aluminium designs. The company’s no-comprise approach to sourcing the best possible materials results in some extraordinary products. Granted, these do come with a price premium and many see Lian Li cases as something of a status symbol. While there is competition from In Win, Lian Li continues to expand their impressive product line-up and cater towards the high-end market. Their latest creation, entitled the PC-J60 is a mid-tower chassis measuring 210mm(W), 507mm(H) and 489mm(D). In terms of weight, the case isn’t overly heavy at 6.48KG due to the aluminium construction.
Other features include a power supply cover with an integrated 140mm fan, two 120mm fans in the front and space for another three 120mm fans in the top section. In terms of radiator support, the case can accommodate a maximum size of 60x430x160mm in the top and 120x240mm in the front. Lian Li have adopted modular HDD racks to easily remove the drive bays and create more room for system airflow. There’s also an air filter on the top, another on the bottom and vented PCI brackets. The CPU cutout is large enough to easily install hardware and access the backplate.
The case can support graphics cards up to 410mm in length and a PSU length of 210mm. On another note, the maximum CPU cooler height is set at 160mm. As you might expect, the chassis is designed to be used with ATX and Micro-ATX form factors. The front I/O houses two USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks.
Here we can see the high quality Jamicon fans which comes as standard with the chassis. Unfortunately, there’s no wording regarding the price but I’m expecting it to be around the £350 mark.
Tenda might be a company that is mostly known for the entry-level products at lower speeds, but they also got some top of the line devices that easily can compete with anything else on the market. Today I’m taking a look at the new Tenda AC15 which is an AC1900 Smart Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi router.
Tenda designed the AC15 with the smart home in mind and as such the router brings a lot of features that can make your everyday digital life a lot easier. Starting with the dual-band AC1900 technology we know that we have a strong router in our hands that will deliver some of the best possible wireless network speeds. The AC15 also features beamforming technology that helps to boost the range of the high-powered amplifiers and external antennas.
The AC1900 standard defines a total speed capability of the router up to 1900Mbps where it is capable of delivering both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently. The Beamforming+ technology helps to achieve the best connection with each device as it locks onto a device’s location and strengthens the signal in that direction rather than blasting it equally in every direction.
The router is equipped with 3 external dual band antennas with a 3dBi strength. Sadly the antennas aren’t replaceable, at least not without taking the unit apart, but they should offer plenty of performance for small to mid-sized homes.
Tenda built the AC15 router around a Broadcom dual-core processor and equipped it with DDR3 memory, but the specifications page does not reveal which exact processor nor how much memory it has. That might, however, be something we can find out through the user interface or by opening it up.
Next to the obligatory WAN port, Tenda equipped the AC15 router with three more Gigabit Ethernet ports for your wired network devices. It also features a USB 3.0 port for easy storage and printer connections which then can be shared to any device that you want via your network. This also allows you to create a personal cloud system and that’s even an easy task to do thanks to Tenda’s personal cloud system. We’ll have a close look at that when we got to the user interface.
There is an ever-increasing concern what effect WiFi signals can have on us humans and it’s better to be on the safe side than sorry. Whether this is a concern to you or not, the Healthy e-life functions in the router allow you to dim the LEDs as well as turn the WiFi signal on and off by a user defined schedule. Why should you be bothered by blinking lights and wireless signals when you aren’t home or asleep. Might as well turn it off, which also saves on the electricity bill.
The initial setup and further configuration of Tenda’s AC15 is a breeze as you can do it from any device, whether it’s wired or wireless. You can either use the easy web setup wizard or use the available Tenda apps. Once setup, you have a powerful wireless router that supports IPTV, VPN, FTP, DDNS and DLNA among others.
Ultimate 11ac speed of up to 1900Mbps, delivering both 1300Mbps 802.11ac at 5GHz and 600Mbps 802.11n at 2.4 GHz concurrently.
Broadcom dual-core processor with DDR3 memory for multi-client with responsive performance and fast speed.
Beamforming+ technology boosts range for the 802.11ac WiFi devices.
High powered amplifiers and three external antennas for whole-home coverage.
USB3.0 for personal secure cloud and printer sharing.
Smart managements of WiFi schedule, LED indicator and power saving all are for your healthy E-life.
Package and Accessories
The retail package for the Tenda AC15 router is a beautiful full-coloured one. The front teases the features and the units design with its eye-catching and bright design.
The rear of the box has some more information on the routers usage scenarios as well as more information about the features.
The full network specifications can be found on the side of the box, so you know what you get before you make the purchase.
The router itself is wrapped with a plastic cover to protect it from scratches. There’s also an extra SSID and password sticker on the plastic which you can remove and place somewhere else for safe keeping.
There’s an install guide, GNU license notice, and a wireless standard certification included, but the last two are more for legal reasons.
Besides the router and the manuals, we also find a power adapter, an RJ45 LAN cable and the foot for the router inside the box.
When you invest in a wireless network repeater in order to increase your range and cover dead spots in your home, you can either go for a run-of-the-mill unit that provides you with the basic functionality or you can go all out and get a device like ASUS’ RP-AC56 wireless dual-band AC1200 range extender and access point. The ASUS RP-AC56 is anything but ordinary and today I’ll take a closer look at everything this little device has to offer.
The ASUS RP-AC56 can extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps and thanks to its two external antennas it will have a great ability to enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere. But it does a lot more than that, it also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port for even more connectivity as well as a 3.5mm audio jack for music streaming.
The dual-band repeater supports both the legacy 2.4GHz band and the newer 5GHz band for AC1200 speeds. The two external antennas support MIMO for the best connection even when multiple devices use it at the same time. With speeds up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band you can get close to what a wire connection has to offer, at least with the proper signal strength and isn’t that just the reason that we want a device such as the RP-AC56.
ASUS made sure that the setup is as easy as it can be, all it takes is a push of a button thanks the easy WPS setup. Hit the button on your router and then on the repeater, wait for a little bit, and the connection will be established. And that really is all you need to do, but you can do more. The LEDs on the front don’t just show which network band is being used, they also show the signal strength in three steps (Red, Yellow, Green) which in return allows you to find the perfect position for maximum coverage.
As previously mentioned, the RP-AS56 comes with a convenient Gigabit Ethernet LAN port built-in and the function of it depends on the usage of the RP-AC56. The flexibly designed device can work as a normal repeater, but it can also work as a wireless access point or as a media bridge. In access point mode it can be connected to any wired network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. In media bridge mode it can be connected to any Ethernet-compatible device to give it Wi-Fi capability where it didn’t before.
The LAN port can also be used for easy access to the web-based configuration menu without the need for any driver disc or application, but it isn’t something that is needed. You can naturally also set it up wirelessly from devices such as your tablet or smartphone.
You can also connect speakers directly to the RP-AC56 wireless repeater and stream your favorite music direct from any mobile device that has the ASUS AiPlayer app installed. It is compatible with a wide range of multimedia formats and delivers a smooth and effortless streaming experience. The AiPlayer app is available from the App Store and Google Play and it also works for streaming without extra software when used from a Mac and iOS device.
Additionally, the RP-AC56 also supports ASUS’ ExpressWay feature that uses the dual-band capabilities to create an efficient connection with improved reliability. In normal mode, the repeater uses the two bands simultaneously for connecting to devices for the widest compatibility. ExpressWay can dedicate one band for connecting to the router and the other band for connecting to the device as long as one of them supports the 5GHz band. It also features the hassle-free Roaming Assist technology. With this enabled, you never have to switch connections manually between RP-AC56 and your ASUS router as you move around the home. Your device will connect automatically to the strongest Wi-Fi signal whether it’s from the router or the repeater.
Extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps.
Two external antennas enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere.
Quick and secure setup with just a press of the WPS button.
Smart LED signal indicator helps you find the best location for optimum Wi-Fi performance.
Rotating mains plug for flexible positioning in any power socket. (Not in all regions)
ASUS AiPlayer app for streaming music, with multi-protocol support.
ASUS ExpressWay uses full-speed device connections to boost performance.
Roaming Assist helps you to get a stable connection everywhere in the home or office.
Packaging and Accessories
The ASUS RP-AC56 comes in a great looking retail box that shows how the device looks on the front where it also shows the main features and highlights the Android and iOS support.
The rear of the box explains what the device does and how you can utilize it. It also showcases the AiPlayer for wireless streaming and more details on the features. Overall it’s a great box where you shouldn’t be left with any questions as to what the device you’re holding in your hands can do.
Inside the box, we find a quick start guide and ASUS VIP Member Warranty Notice in multiple languages as well as a 3.5mm audio cable to connect the repeater to an amplifier or speaker set.
In today’s review, I am taking a look at a NAS that comes with a twist that we previously haven’t seen out-of-the-box. I’m talking about QNAP’s TAS-268 NAS which is a 2-bay hybrid NAS that runs both QNAP’s QTS and Android at the same time. The TAS-268 doesn’t just have a twist in the operating system, the physical form also takes a different approach than most NAS on the market.
At the core, the QNAP TAS-268 is a normal NAS with the function that you would expect from such a unit. It doesn’t come with the most power processor, but in return, it also comes with a low price tag despite all the functionality. It is built around an ARM 1.1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB DDR3 memory. It also features an onboard 4GB flash memory to be used by the Android system. While this doesn’t sound like much, it should be plenty for this device’s functions.
Besides this 2-bay unit, QNAP also released a 1-bay unit with the only difference being the number of drives you can install. But it is the 2-bay unit that we’re looking at today and it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and single disk setup with two 3.5-inch hard disk drives. There are plenty of external connection options on the TAS-268 with one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, four USB 2.0 ports on the rear and one USB 3.0 port on the front.
The front also features an SD card slot for easy and portable storage connection just as you’re used to from your Android phone or tablet – just much easier. You don’t need to remove any covers and battery as it is the case with many phones, instead, you have the SD slot right at the front of the device where you need it.
To complete the convenience experience, QNAP also added the one-touch copy button which allows just what the name promised, copy the content from the front USB port with a single press of the button. How the button shall react can be changed in the QTS system and it is capable of copy operations in both directions, both to and from the USB drives.
With a NAS like this that supports Android, we also need an HDMI port in order to connect it to our monitor or TV and the TAS-2688 also features this on the rear. It is accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports that come in handy for keyboard, mouse, and game controller connection in order to take even better advantage of the Android platform and all the available apps. You can also control the system through the use of the included IR remote control. The TS-268 supports HD and 4K H.265 / H.264 file formats, 4K H.264 with up to 15 frames per second and 4K H.265 with up to 30 frames per second.
Shouldn’t you want to connect the device via HDMI or maybe you just want to get your stored and linked media files onto more devices then you can take advantage of the common DLNA streaming that QNAP also supports. Consoles, Smart TVs, Mini-PCs and much more support this and it is probably the easiest method of streaming content.
Google Play also provides various media apps including YouTube, TED, Twitch and other video apps to be used directly on the NAS. You can install and stream movies, cartoons, TV series, news, and sports at any time in order to enrich your entertainment level.
QNAP introduced their myQNAPcloud system quite a while ago by now and naturally the TAS-268 also supports this. It isn’t just a simple and effective way to set up your new NAS, it also allows you to connect to the finished setup much quicker and easier. By acting as a simplified and locked-in dynamic DNS system it will allow you to easily connect to your NAS, securely, from anywhere in the world and any device as long as you and the NAS both have internet connectivity.
With that in mind, it is incredibly easy to create you own personal cloud system where you don’t have to rely on commercial or free options that thousands of other people use. Keep your files at home where you know who has access and who doesn’t. It is a breeze to sync files to the NAS via QNAP’s own Qsync as well as the Cloud Drive Sync app from the QTS app center that can sync files with Google Drive and Dropbox.
Both real-time and scheduled backups on Windows systems as well as with Time Machine on Mac OS systems is easily taken care of with QNAP’s NetBak replicator and it also features disaster recovery solutions including RTRR, rsync, and cloud storage backup (Dropbox and Google Drive) are also included. So all the bases are covered.
As previously mentioned, you naturally also get the ordinary NAS cross-platform file sharing capabilities from a centralized data storage. Whether you use Linux, Unix, Windows, or Mac OS, your connection is covered. And with the use of apps you get the same connectivity on your Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS system.
So far I have mostly been talking about the software functionality, but that’s just one of the great aspects on this NAS. The design is quite a bit different than we are used with a vertical unit rather than a horizontal oriented. This saves space on the desk with a smaller footprint which can be a vital factor near your entertainment system and similar likely placement scenarios.
The TAS-28 is also a very light unit due to a simple and clever design. Even better, the entire NAS can be set up completely tool-less for your convenience. There is a single thumbscrew at the bottom with which you can open up the chassis and the drive are mounted tool-less too with the included adapters.
Despite having a unique outer design, a lot of the internal design is something that reminds us of previous 2-bay NAS units – just improved with the tool-less drive mounting options and vertical instead of horizontal.
With all this talk about Android, we shouldn’t forget about the base QTS operating system. It provides a web-based user interface to help you easily manage files on the TAS-268. You can install various apps based on your needs to fulfill tasks like storage, backup, management and multimedia applications. File Station allows you to upload, download and manage files anywhere with a web browser. All of your photos, music and videos can be indexed by the built-in Media Library, and easily managed and shared with the Photo Station, Music Station and Video Station. The energy-saving Download Station is your 24/7 download center, allowing you to quickly download files to enrich your collection.
Android and QTS operating system
Organize & manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location
Synchronize files between computers, laptops, and mobile devices
Remotely access your files securely from your personal cloud
Stream your multimedia library via DLNA to other devices and your TV
Enjoy direct media playback via HDMI with HD videos and photos
Compact and streamlined chassis ideal for a desktop or living room environment
Packaging and Accessories
The TAS-268 comes in a simple white box with a representation of the NAS unit as well as the feature highlights.
The rear of the box contains some more information as to what’s so special about this NAS, but it’s kept short.
Opening up the box and we find a brand new NAS that is well protected with self-adhesive plastic film – you know the kind we all love to peel off once we get a new gadget.
Besides the NAS itself, there is a quick installation guide to help you get started quickly, a power supply brick and power cord fitting the region you bought it in as well as an RJ45 LAN cable.
There’s also a small remote control included that is about 3 inches long. Shown below are also the four HDD mounting brackets that simply snap into the drive and hold it in place.
It isn’t often that we as the press get taken by surprise, but today is such a day as Lian Li revealed their entry into the peripheral market with their first ever mouse and keyboard. Usually, we already expected a launch, got hints, teasers, and heads-up notifications, but Lian Li chose to take us all with a surprise this time. To top it all off, Lian Li launched a giveaway for this at the same time.
Very little is known about the new Lian Li peripherals yet and there aren’t any official product pages online yet, but we do have eyes to spot some things based on the limited information. The new line of Mice and Keyboards is called the TerminAL series and comes in a total of 6 colour options: Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Green, and Red.
The keyboard is a brushed aluminium keyboard with a flat design, but that’s about the information that we get now. There is no mention of switch types, whether it’s mechanical or membrane, and whether it has some extra and unique features.
The TerminAL mouse features two thumb buttons beside the normal left and right mouse button and a scroll wheel. Anything else is up to anyone’s guess right now.
We shouldn’t forget about the promotion either, the one where you can be the first one to own one of these new sets in the colour of your choice. The giveaway can be found via Facebook or Lian Li’s blog site. All you have to do to participate is to cast a vote on which colour option you like best.
“We will be giving away three of each color for a total of eighteen combos. Cast your vote anytime from today, March 1st to Friday, March 25th for a chance to win your preferred color! Winners for each color – one per color, six total winners – will be announced every seven days until the end of the event.”
Intel recently released their Greenlow based Skylake series Xeon CPUs and it’s a pleasure to take a look at the first enterprise-grade motherboard built for these processors today. I have Supermicro’s X11SAE motherboard on the test bench which is a standard ATX-sized single CPU board, but one with all the trimmings.
“Supermicro’s new X11 UP workstations, long-life embedded systems and motherboards integrate the latest technologies such as USB 3.1 and M.2 as well as step up performance, density and efficiency to provide a new generation of Green Computing solutions,” said Charles Liang, President and CEO of Supermicro. “Indeed, with Supermicro’s first-to-market integration, advanced engineering and architecture expertise, we deliver the widest range of Skylake-S platforms available to the industry, enabling our customers with exactly the best competitive advantage on the market.”
Supermicro’s X11SAE doesn’t just support the new Greenlow Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 family CPUs, you can also use 6th Gen Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium, and Celeron series processors. The brain behind the motherboard is the new C236 chipset which comes with a lot of enhancements over the predecessors and Supermicro generally added the newest technologies to this motherboard. Additionally, the motherboard supports up to 64GB DDR4 2133MHz ECC UDIMMs in its 4 sockets. While this motherboard does support ECC and non-ECC modules, it doesn’t support RDIMMS, so make sure you get the right ones.
There are plenty of storage features on this motherboard with the eight native SATA3 6 Gbps ports provided directly by the chipset. The ports support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 for that extra spice in your storage setup and the motherboard also has two SuperDOM ports with built-in power. You’ll also find a next-gen PCIe M.2 slot beside the default SATA3 ports, allowing you to get that extra speed. The M.2 slot doesn’t support AHCI modules, but 2242, 2260, and 2280 PCIe modules will run at a great speed thanks to the x4 slot.
Further expansion can be added through the two PCI-E 3.0 x16 and three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. The Supermicro X11SAE also features two legacy 5V PCI 32-bit slots for use with older hardware despite the upgrade to the newest platform.
Externally the X11SAE has two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 LAN ports where one is powered by an Intel i210-AT and the other is powered by an Intel i219LM chip. There’s also a DVI, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI out for use when processors with iGPU are inserted into the motherboard. Further, you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 ports on the rear IO area. The USB 3.1 ports sport the increased bandwidth and power which allows it to run with up to 10Gbps.
Internally you can connect an additionally four USB 3.0 and size USB 2.0 ports. The motherboard also features two COM port headers, an ALC 888S 7.1 HD Audio chip, a TPM 1.2 header, and much more.
A workstation motherboard also needs a good set of monitoring abilities. You can connect up to five PWM fans with status monitor for speed control, on/off settings, and tachometer. The temperature monitoring includes the CPU and chassis environment as well as CPU thermal trip support and I2C temperature sensing logic and Thermal Monitor 2 (TM2) support.
As a Supermicro motherboard, we also have the benefits of their SuperDoctor 5 software that monitors system health of hardware and operating system services from the target nodes in real-time and provides alerts to administrators on the availability of systems in data centers.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.
Single socket H4 (LGA 1151) supports: Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5, Intel 6th Gen. Core i7/i5/i3 series, Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium
Intel C236 chipset
Up to 64GB Unbuffered ECC/non-ECC, UDIMM DDR4 2133MHz; 4x DIMM slots
2 PCI-E 3.0 x16 (run at 16/NA or 8/8), 3 PCI-E 3.0 x1 (in x4), and 2 5V PCI 32-bit slots
Single GbE LAN with Intel i210-AT, Single GbE LAN with Intel i219LM
6x USB 3.0 (2 rear + 4 via header), 8x USB 2.0 (2 rear + 6 via headers), 2x USB 3.1 (10Gbps, rear)
Packaging and Accessories
The Supermicro X11SAE comes in a neutral package and that’s all that’s needed for a board like this. It isn’t one you’ll find on a shelve in the local store while browsing around, it’s one your order because you know it’s the one you want. There’s still a sticker on the side that will tell you what’s inside and what the base specifications are.
The rear of the box explains a little bit about the series of motherboards which this one is part off. You get basic information about the series as well as a quick view of optimized chassis and systems.
Inside the box we find four SATA3 cables and the IO shield next to the motherboard itself.
OCZ introduced us to the Trion series about half a year ago and the first drive already impressed us with its performance versus value offering and now OCZ is back with the next generation of Trion drives. The newly released Trion 150 series brings the newest in TLC NAND technology coupled with a great controller in order to provide an amazing drive for people on a budget. Today I’m taking a closer look at this series as I’ll be testing the 240GB and 480GB models.
The OCZ Trion 150 SSD is aimed at people who want to make the move from traditional mechanical hard disk drives and into the modern flash-based storage. There is no comparison when it comes to performance and access speeds, the SSD wins this by miles. Traditional storage does however have the benefit of more capacity per dollar and that is where TLC-NAND based drives come into play. They offer a great capacity at a lower price compared to MLC or SLC-based drives.
The new drives are built around Toshiba’s own controller and their latest Triple-Level-Cell NAND. This combination allows the drive to achieve a performance up to 550 MB/s when reading and 530MB/s when writing while the random performance still provides up to 91K IOPS reading and 64K IOPS writing. With a performance like this, you’ll seriously decrease your system’s boot-up times as well as any other loading process. It’s also one of those upgrades every system should have, an SSD.
The OCZ Trion 150 is available in a wide variety of capacities which means that there is a size for everyone’s need. It is available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. One of the downsides to TLC NAND is that it doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and SLC NAND, but that isn’t something that should scare you away as a normal user. Despite the lower endurance, these drives will easily outlive their time of operation in most systems and it shouldn’t be something you need to worry about. The Trion 150 has an endurance rating of up to 240TB total bytes written which should be plenty for almost any normal scenario.
The new 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND used in this series is quite a bit better than the previous 19nm thanks to the optimized manufacturing processes and it shows in this drive. Ordinary flagship drives can easily handle write loads of 50GB data at once, but that’s a problem for most TLC drives. They are just as fast with small area writes as the bigger brothers, but when they have to write more than a few GB in one instance, they suffer some performance loss. To combat this, a part of the NAND is being run in SLC mode as a kind of burst area. You can easily copy large amounts of data to the drive at once, but once the SLC cache has been exceeded, the performance will drop a little bit. The good news here is that the new series offers almost twice the write speed that the Trion 100 was able to offer during these scenarios. That’s a bold statement and one that will be interesting to see if the drive can live up to in the tests.
Despite being a budget drive, the OCZ Trion 150 is still backed by a 3-year warranty and it isn’t just a normal warranty either. OCZ gave the Trion 150 the ShieldPlus Warranty for the entire time and it’s pretty much the best drive warranty you can get anywhere. Especially for free and included. In the unlikely event that a drive needs to be replaced, you got a worry-free customer service experience which eliminates all the hassle and cost surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with; OCZ has you covered.
OCZ packed the Trion 150 series with the basic features such as Trim, Garbage Collection, and SMART monitoring, but other than that they don’t feature much. They are, after all, basic drives.
As most SSDs these days, the Trion 150 is also built with a snap-together screwless case that holds the PCB in place. The two drives look the same once I got them opened, but there are a few differences. The most noticeable difference is actual not a difference – the amount of NAND chips. Despite the capacity difference, OCZ used the full set of chips in both models. That’s most likely also one of the reasons that these drives promise as great a performance as they do.
Once we remove the PCBs from the case, we also find another difference on the other side. The 480GB model is utilizing a Micron cache chip while the 240GB has a Nanya chip. Both drives use the same Toshiba controller and 15nm NAND chips.
Next Gen TLC Technology
Superior balance of price and performance
100% Toshiba technology
Optimized for lower energy consumption
The Trion 150 comes in a colourful box showcasing the drive design as well as the capacity on the front.
The rear of the box lists the drives features as well as little about OCZ and the Trion 150 drive itself.
Inside the box is a reminder not to return the drive to the shop where you bought it and instead handle possible RMAs through OCZ directly as well as a setup guide and naturally the drive itself.
After I recently had a look at Mushkin’s Striker SSD, it is now time to take a closer look at the Mushkin Reactor SSD and that’s just what I am doing in today’s review. Mushkin’s Reactor solid state drive promises simultaneous capacity and performance while also keeping the initial costs of purchase in the mainstream spectrum. The Reactor drive is available in three capacities from 256GB to 1TB, but I’m taking a closer look at the 512GB model today.
The Mushkin Reactor is a basic mainstream drive that will be a great solution in any workstation system or gaming rig. It is built around the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller which is a little cheaper than the Phison S10 for example. In return, we get a drive that is cheaper to purchase. It still delivers a great performance thanks to the use of MLC NAND and it is rated for sequential operations up to 560MB/s reading and 460MB/s writing. The random access performance isn’t bad at all either and the drive comes with a rating of up to 71K IOPS reading and up to 75K IOPS writing.
With solid performance figures like these, the Reactor drive has no reason to hide behind any other competing drives. Capacity wise you got three options in this series where the 512GB model that I’m having a look at today is right in the middle. There’s also a smaller version with 256GB capacity and the larger model with 1TB capacity. That’s a lot of fast storage at an affordable price thanks to clever hardware choices.
The drive has a couple features less than the Mushkin Striker SSD that I recently reviewed, but the basics are well covered on this drive too. The Reactor has the basic S.M.A.R.T. and Trim features as well as early weak block retirement, DataRefresh, and built-in BCH ECC with up to 66 bits per 1kb. The only thing that could be considered missing is DevSleep and that’s only really relevant for notebook users anyway.
Just because the Reactor drive doesn’t have the DevSleep feature doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a great upgrade for any notebook, laptop, or ultrabook out there. The 7mm height and default 2.5-inch form factor makes the upgrade quick and easy in either case. The Reactor is also a light drive and that’s something everyone can appreciate for their portable devices. You don’t want to carry any more weight with you than absolutely necessary.
The SATA power and data connectors are default in the sense of pin connectors, as it should be, but they are also another place where Mushkin managed to save a little in order to provide you with a better-priced drive. The connectors are almost transparent when you shine a light on them, but they still appear to be an equal quality when compared to conventional connectors stability.
Mushkin’s Reactor SSD is one of the few drives these days that’s still assembled with screws, which makes my life a lot easier when showing you what the drive looks like on the inside. The enclosure itself is put together with four screws and the PCB is also secured to the case with four screws. In the photo below we also see the thermal transfer pad located on the controller that connects to the chassis. This effectively turns the entire drive into a heatsink and it’s something we’ve seen quite often in other drives because it simply works well.
Having a closer look, we see the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller next to eight NAND chips from SanDisk.
The other side of the PCB has another eight NAND chips and a Nanya RAM chip as a cache buffer.
Capacity and Performance
Optimal Data Flow: Optimized for dependable and reliable data flow
TRIM Support when used with compatible operating system
Shock-Resistant: Designed for continued reliable function
3 Year Warranty: Quality guaranteed
Dimensions: 7mm X 69.85mm X 100.5mm
Performance: Up to 560MB/sec (Read) / Up to 460MB/sec (Write)
IOPS: Up to 71,000 IOPS (Read) / Up to 75,000 IOPS (Write)
MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
Controller: Silicon Motion SM2246EN
Interface Type: SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface (backwards compatible with SATA 2.0 (3Gb/s) and SATA 1.0 (1.5Gb/s))
Temperature Range: 0-70°C
Warranty: 3 years limited
The Mushkin Reactor comes in a simple blister package that showcases the included drive itself.
It is surrounded by a simple inlay that also shows the drive’s main features on the rear. Other than that, there isn’t much to the package.
Lian Li’s newly announced PC-7N chassis comes with a classic and minimalistic look on the outside, but quite a few improvements on the inside. The new PC-7N includes an improved and customizable storage rack for drives, tool-less building features, and great clearances in a lightweight chassis.
As a mid-tower chassis, the PC-7N can hold the most common sized ATX or mATX motherboards. Clearance is a factor in this chassis and you can easily mount CPU coolers with a height up to 170mm and graphics cards as long as 370mm without hard disk trays mounted in front of the card. With trays, you can still mount cards with a length up to 250mm.
Lian Li built the PC-7n with tool-less mounting options for easy installation. The chassis comes with four drive trays included which all are fitted with vibration-dampening rubber washers. Each of the trays can be installed in one of the eight available slots and they’ll be directly cooled by the two front intake fans. The drive trays are secured by a removable aluminum arm that in itself is secured by a thumbscrew. You can also add up to two 5.25-inch drives to this chassis and those trays also feature tool-less installation.
Cooling wise the PC-7N has the basic features and nothing out of the norm. You get two front intake 120mm fans and one rear 120mm exhaust fan. The front intake and the PSU area both have dust filters to help keep your system as clean on the inside as possible. There’s also basic water cooling support for those that wish a liquid cooled setup. The front allows for radiators with a size up to 140mm x 280mm x 60mm and the rear also features liquid cooling grommets.
There is plenty of space for the PSU due to the clean internal build which allows you to mount PSUs with a length of up to 270mm. That should be plenty for even the most powerful power supplies on the market. You also get eight expansion slots for easy setup with up to four dual-slot cards, and a front panel with audio and USB 3.0 ports.
The PC-7N is scheduled for an availability at the end of March and it will be available in two colours. The manufacturer suggested retail price is set to £84.90.
Customizable modular drive rack
Fits four 3.5” HDDs or 2.5” SSDs
Water cooling: up to 140mmx280mmx60mm on internal bracket
Removable front panel and mesh filter; two 120mm intake fans, one 120mm exhaust fan
The first NAS that I reviewed after I joined eTeknix was QNAP’s amazing HS-251 NAS, so it is a real pleasure today as I have the upgraded model in the testing area. I will take QNAP’s SilentNAS HS-251+ for a thorough spin in my testing area and check on its performance as well as show you the latest version of the QTS operating system that was released recently.
The HS-251+ NAS retains the same basic design that provides you with a completely silent NAS. There are no fans or other parts that can generate any noise apart from the storage drives you’ll be using. This design adds another bonus which is a dust-free inside. This is made possible because the entire chassis is used as a heatsink for the entire unit and inserted drives. There are no fans to draw dust and other unwanted dirt into the system. That makes it very easy to maintain, but it also means that it should be placed on top of a shelve rather than in a tight spot where it could have trouble getting rid of the excess heat.
QNAP’s HS-251+ is powered by a quad-core Intel Celeron processor and while some might take a step back here, it’s a great chip for the system. You get four cores that run at 2.0GHz and with a burst speed up to 2.4GHz, it consumes very little power, which also helps with the cooling, and it has more than enough power to drive a system like this. The CPU is backed by 2GB DDR3L RAM and the NAS has a 512MB DOM for the basic system.
Whether you want to mount 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, the HS-251+ can take both. We only got two bays at our disposal here, so most people will probably choose the larger 3.5-inch drives that provide up to 8TB capacity for consumers at the time of writing. Smaller 2.5-inch drives do however run more silently and it produces less heat, so it’s something that is worth to consider in a system like this. The drive bays themselves are hidden behind a removable front that further helps to keep dust out while it also gives the NAS a sleeker appearance.
Connection wise we find two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports next to the two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Sadly none of the ports are located on the front or front end of the sides, but it isn’t a big issue with a flat NAS like this. You can easily both reach and view behind the unit. The NAS supports both printer and storage sharing through the built-in USB ports and over the network, which is a thing that can make the household IT-setup a lot easier.
You can also expand the HS-251+ through the use of QNAPs expansion enclosures UX-800P and UX-500P with 8 and 5 drives respectively. This can provide you with up to 80TB raw storage capacity in the HS-251+ using 8TB drives.
Next to those more normal connections, the QNAP HS-251+ also has an HDMI port from which you can connect it directly to your TV and use it for media playback and even run other operating systems in a virtual environment directly from the NAS. The QNAP QvPC technology is awesome and I’ll be showing you some of those features on the following pages. The HDMI connectivity supports 1080p video playback and the NAS also comes with hardware transcoding capability, making the HS-251+ is an ideal companion at home for multimedia entertainment.
Included with the QNAP HS-251+ is also a remote control that makes the usage from the couch a lot easier, more convenient, and in a fashion one is used to from TVs, DVRs, CD players, etc. With this, it is easy to control the playback and navigate the menus without the hassle of a keyboard and mouse.
The newest QNAP operating system, QTS 4.2, brings an even smoother experience than the predecessors with its flat and modern design. QNAP have streamlined loading times and added an intelligent desktop and multi-window operation that makes controlling every aspect of your HS-251+ fully accessible and easy to use.
It’s easy to centralize your all your files and backups in one place with this NAS, as it allows you to create backup jobs to and from the NAS, sync with computers, tablets, and mobile devices as well as the cloud. The real-time and offline HD video transcoding allows smooth playback of all your files no matter what the connection is like and file formats that might not be supported.
You naturally also get all the other great features such as the headless 24/7 download center, surveillance station with up to 40 channels, official mobile apps for all key functions and management, app center with official and third-party apps to increase the functionality even more, alert functions via SMS and Email services, web server, FTP server, Radius server, VPN server, print server, Plex media server, and much more.
The QNAP HS-251+ also supports the Qsirch function that is a QNAP exclusive. It is one of the best search function available that will find anything that you’re looking for on your NAS with ease and a lot faster than any traditional method will. Simply type in as much as you know about what you are trying to find, including bits of the file name or even words/phrases in the document, and Qsirch will display a list of matches, complete with thumbnails, as you type.
Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
Your personal cloud with centralized management, file storage, sharing and backup
Real-time & offline HD video transcoding for your mobile devices, PCs, and Smart TVs
Supports file synchronization between multiple devices to have most up-to-date files
Modern set-top design for your digital lifestyle
Storage is expandable through extra units
Packaging and Accessories
QNAP’s HS-251+ comes in a plain brown box with a sticker that shows us what is inside. We get all the details we need on the sticker itself, from hardware specifications to features, so it has everything it needs to have.
Next to the NAS itself, we find a Quick Installation guide, the remote control, a power adapter and power cable from the region where it has ben bought as well as two RJ45 LAN cables inside the box.
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.
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.
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.
It has been a while since we had a closer look at Mushkin’s lineup of solid state drives which makes today’s review a little more interesting than just looking at a great perming drive. On the test bench today is the Mushkin Striker 480GB 7mm slim solid state drive and I’ll put it through the usual tests to see how well it performs.
Mushkin built the Striker series with a performance that should satisfy the most demanding users, at least on the SATA3 connection. The Striker is built with Phison’s PS3110-S10 quad-core 8-channel controller which is coupled with quality MLC NAND. Three of the cores are dedicated for flash management and the controller also supports 256-bit AES encryption and Opal 2.0. These things coupled make for a great performing drive and this 480GB model is rated for up to 565 MB/s read and 550MB/s write speeds. The IOPS are rated around 90K for both read and write.
Performance is only one aspect of a drive, it also has to be reliable and keep your data error free. The Phison PS3110-S10 controller supports end-to-end data path protection, SmartECC, SmartRefresh, SmartFlush, and GuaranteedFlush. The end-to-end data protection makes sure that the data stays uncorrupted during the travels through the different parts of the hardware until it reaches the NAND flash.
SmartFlush is a proprietary algorithm to minimize DRAM utilization for user data. The Smart On-the-fly Flushing and Smart Triggered Flushing constantly flush data and re-organize random data chunks in the cache to minimize the time data stays in the cache as well as keep your data safe.
SmartRefresh consists of two parts that essentially are the wear-leveling algorithms. The run-time media scan and idle-time media scan detects ECC bit during read and idle operations and reallocated data to healthy blocks when the ECC bit exceeds the threshold.
Overall, the drive has all the features that you will want in a drive and that should make sure that you have a great performing drive for many years to come. Next to the ECC, garbage collection, and wear-level algorithms, the Mushkin Striker also supports DevSleep (DEVSLP), TRIM, and SMART.
The drive in itself is very plain with its simple black enclosure and sticker on the top. You’ll find all the relevant information such as serial number and capacity on that label, and what else do you need on a solid state drive? Mushkin backs the Striker SSD with a 3-year warranty and it’s also worth mentioning that drives all are assembled in the US.
Inside the two-piece snap-together enclosure is a 2/3rd length PCB. One side holds four of the NAND chips as well as the Phison S10 controller and the Nanya cache chip.
On the other side of the PCB are four more NAND chips in order to provide the 480GB capacity.
Optimal Data Flow
The Mushkin Striker comes in a simple blister package that showcases the included drive itself on both sides.
It is surrounded by a simple inlay that also shows the drive’s main features on the rear. Other than that, there isn’t much to the package.
Lian Li has unveiled yet another impressive PC case, but this time around the company has decided to focus on mini-server or NAS builds. Available in black and dark gray finishes, the case in question is named PC-M25, and it features a microATX form factor. This means that it can accommodate either microATX or Mini-ITX motherboards, but most importantly it comes with a five-bay, 3.5″ hot-swap drive rack. The best part about this drive rack is that it doesn’t require any tools as its assembly mechanism holds the drives firmly in place using rubber mounts that diminish vibration and noise. Just in case five drives aren’t enough for you, you can always install two more 3.5″ devices or three 2.5″ ones on a secondary drive cage.
As far as cooling is concerned, you should be fine as long as the CPU cooler doesn’t exceed 3.15″ (80 mm) in height, but we should also mention the 140-mm front fan and 120-mm roof fan. The graphics card can be as long as 16.1″ (41 cm) while the PSU shouldn’t measure more than 9.1″ (23 cm) in length. The enclosure boasts a total volume of 28.3 liters, as it measures 7.8″ by 12.7″ by 17.4″. The PC-M25 tips the scales at just 8.2 lbs (3.7 kg) thanks to its aluminum construction. Regarding pricing, sources indicate that European customers will be able to purchase this product for €160, which might be considered a bit steep by certain Lian Li clients.
In today’s storage review, I’m taking a closer look at a solid state drive from a company that we don’t test quite as often, but it isn’t the first MyDigitalSSD drive have tested either. The newest MyDigitalSSD drive is the BP5e that stands for Bullet Proof 5 Eco and it is a 7mm slim solid state drive that will fit into pretty much any system for a performance boost over a mechanical hard disk drive. The new BP5e series comes in capacities from 240GB and up to 960GB, and the large size is one that becomes more and more popular due to decreasing prices. I’m however taking the 240GB drive for a spin today, a perfect entry-level drive.
There were a few hints in the first paragraph such as Eco and mechanical drive replacement, so you might already have guessed that this isn’t a new flagship drive but rather a budget drive for those that wish something that is faster than a traditional hard disk drive, but don’t want to spend a lot of money at the same time.
The new MyDigitalSSD BP5e drive is built with Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND which lowers the production cost at the same time as it increases the possible capacity on the same size, but it does come with a few drawbacks. TLC NAND doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and the performance of long-lasting copies will be affected, how much will be shown in our benchmarks on the following pages.
The TLC NAND is made my Toshiba and it is their TLC Toggle 2.0 NAND. It is paired with Phison’s newest S10 controller (PS3110-S10) with the latest firmware for optimal performance. The two coupled should provide some great reading speeds as well as writes. The drive is rated for up to 565MB/s speeds, but that’s just when reading.
MyDigitalSSD ships each BP5e drive over-provisioned for improved Random Read/Write performance and IOPS, extended performance endurance to minimize sluggishness as the drive fills with data, prolonged drive life, added drive reliability, and low power consumption.
The BP5e in itself is a very simple drive composed of a black two-piece snap-together enclosure with a sticker on the top. Inside we find a 2/3-long PCB that only utilizes the one side with four Toshiba TLC NAND chips, the Phison S10 controller, and a Nanya 128MB DDR3 cache chip.
Unequaled price to performance ratio
PHISON PS3110 controller
Toshiba TLC Toggle Flash
Large storage capacity
High-speed SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III) interface – Backward compatible to SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II)
Withstand extreme shock and vibration
Support DDR3 I/O interface
Power management supported
NCQ command set. TRIM, RAID, and SMART support
The package is quite colourful and presents a full-colour image of the drive itself along with the name and what it can do right on the front.
The rear of the box has a little more information about the drive itself along with a feature list and a capacity sticker to show what model is inside.
Inside the box, we only find the drive itself and no other accessories. Not like we need a long installation guide to connect a storage drive, it’s not rocket science. A penny saved on production can make the difference in the retail pricing.
When you pick the router you want to own, you can either pick an ordinary router for your setup or a great one if you want just a little more. But there is also a third option and you have the choice to go for something extraordinary. Today I’m taking a closer look a router from the last category as I’m having D-Link’s impressive DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi router in my testing area.
The DIR-890L brings impressive performance via three bands instead of the normal two bands, and it also comes packed in a stylish design with six antennas for maximum range, coverage, and speed. D-Link’s DIR-890L has a futuristic kind of design that somewhat resembles a drone or spaceship. A lot of the times this kind of designs can go too far, but D-Link seems to have nailed it and hit just the right spot between normal, futuristic, functionality, and design. It looks great!
We get more and more smart devices in our homes and that is something that increases exponentially the more people live in the household. We have smart TVs, smartphones, laptops, tablets, game consoles, computers, and much more. All of these need an internet connection through our one and only entry and exit point, the router, which means that we quickly can reach limits around the available bandwidth and channels, and we experience bottlenecks and lag.
Traditional routers have a 2.4GHz band for up to 600Mbps throughput that is suited for surfing, emails, and instant messaging as well as the newer 5GHz band that has a little less range but a lot more performance. D-Link added one more on top of that in the DIR-890L AC3200 router, they added a third band. The third band is another 5GHz band, freeing up some space on the first one by balancing the connections out. It also prevents slower connected devices from bottlenecking the band from faster ones. Each of the 5GHz bands has a maximum throughput of 1300Mbps which gives the DIR-890L a total wireless throughput of 3200Mbps. Effectively this is like three routers in one.
As mentioned above, not all wireless bands are the same, but that isn’t something you need to worry about with this router. The Smart Connect Technology allows the router to choose from the three Wi-Fi bands and automatically connect each device on the network to the best and clearest band available at the time of connection.
The Smart Connect feature is awesome as it manages everything itself and removes any worry from the user’s end what band to pick and choose from. You can still choose to use each band separately with their own individual SSID name and password settings should you wish to do so.
D-Link gave the DIR-890L six antennas and the router features beam-forming technology to improve coverage. With this technology, the router can direct the bandwidth in the direction of the devices connected and thereby give you a better overall connection experience whether you stream your movies, Skype with friends, or play online games.
The six antennas are adjustable in almost all directions, except down. So unless you want to place it upside down, then you can’t have it look like a spider on six legs as some of you probably already imagined. It is not something I would recommend doing as it would place the vents upward and allow for more dust to settle inside the router. You sadly can’t replace the antennas with aftermarket ones on the Ultra AC3200 and that might be a downside for some people.
The router naturally also features wired connections and not just wireless ones, although the wireless features are the selling point in this router along with the great hardware base. You get one WAN port for the internet connection and four Gigabit Ethernet ports for your LAN. The DIR-890L also comes with one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port for file sharing from external storage drives or creating a network printing environment from your old USB-based printer. The D-Link share port allows all this with ease and also allows you to use the built-in DLNA server and stream to compatible devices.
D-Link also packed the router full of useful software features such as parental controls, blocking of unwanted devices, internet activity monitoring, and Wi-Fi guest networks. Intelligent Traffic Prioritization selects the fastest Wi-Fi for every device and prevents older devices from affecting optimal performance. VPN setup and all common features such as NAT and port forwarding aren’t a problem for the DIR-890L either.
There are a lot more features, but we’ll see them on the following pages when we take a look at the user interface and options. If all that shouldn’t be enough, or you just don’t like the interface for some reason and would like something else, then you can flash the router with DD-WRT, the open-source router firmware. The D-Link AC3200 Wi-Fi Router should be fully compatible with the open source Linux-based router operating system.
If all that shouldn’t be enough, or you just don’t like the interface for some reason and would like something else, then you can flash the router with DD-WRT, the open-source router firmware. The D-Link AC3200 Wi-Fi Router should be fully compatible with the open source Linux-based router operating system.
All this requires some power to run and that comes from a 1GHz dual-core processor that has no trouble keeping up the data packets for your gaming sessions or 4K media streaming. Speaking of 4K media streaming, the DIR-890L is a Nvidia GameStream-Ready product and certified for optimal compatibility with the newly released Nvidia Shield 4K Android TV Console.
Packaging and Accessories
A Premium router also needs a premium package, and the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router has that. The huge box has a premium finish and is made from thick cardboard. The outside has a full-colour print with the router itself and the name on the front.
The rear of the box displays the main feature highlights in a graphical way, easy to see, read, and understand.
It isn’t just a folded box around an inlay either, but a real box where you lift the cover up.
Inside you see the beautiful router right away, safely secured and with the accessories packed in the boxes on either side.
Inside is a power cord, AC power adapter, and an RJ45 LAN cable to connect your new router.
There’s also a beautiful Quick Install Guide to help you get started, a configuration card with all the default settings and room to write you own as well as an extra sticker with the defaults for you to place where it is convenient.
Continuing our reviews of the Silicon Power solid-state drives, we’ve gotten to the Slim S70, a mid-ranged performance drive in the 7mm thin Slim series perfect for notebooks as well as desktop systems.
The Silicon Power Slim S70 is available in 5 capacity version all the way up to 960GB. The smaller capacities available are 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB and I am taking a closer look at the 240GB model today. The drive is rated for a sequential read performance up to 550MB/s reading and 500MB/s writing, which shouldn’t be any trouble to achieve for the hardware inside.
The Silicon Power Slim S70 SSD is built with a Phison S10 controller which has proven itself in numerous drives and comes with synchronous NAND flash. The Slim S70 has all the basic features that an SSD needs to have, including S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, Garbage collection, NCQ, and wear leveling. It is also RAID ready for those who want even faster setups with all the features available. Silicon Power also included error correction code to guarantee data transmission reliability.
Making the upgrade from a mechanical hard disk drive to a solid-state drive is something that everyone needs to experience, there simply isn’t any comparison. An SSD isn’t just a lot faster, it also consumes less power which is great for stationary systems as well as mobile ones. There are no moving parts and thereby no noise or vibration and it makes it more shockproof than traditional storage drives. You also eliminate latency delays and seek errors.
The SP Slim S70 is also available as upgrade kits that include a shockproof enclosure, screwdriver, and NTI Echo cloning software for an easy upgrade in three steps. It also allows you to use your old drive as an external portable drive afterward. The included enclosure provides rugged protection against shocks, scratches, and abrasions, and it features a cable wrap-around design for easy portability.
Inside the two-piece screwless enclosure, we find a 2/3 sized PCB with four NAND chips on each side. The controller is a Phison PS3110-S10 and the NAND should be Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND from the DP58G5LAPA inscription. There is also a Nanya 128MB cache chip on the top. Funny enough, it looks to be the exact same layout and parts as we saw in the SP Slim S60.
7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
NCQ and RAID ready
Equipped with wear leveling, to extend endurance
Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
Built-in with SMART monitoring system
Low power consumption
Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
The Silicon Power Slim S70 comes in a simple blister package displaying the included drive itself on the front. At the same time, it also displays the main features, 5-year warranty period, and slim drive height.
The rear of the package has the basic feature list in multiple languages as well as the average performance increase one would gain compared to a mechanical drive.
The leaflet inside the package opens up for a simple installation guide, feature list, and specification.
We’ve already had the pleasure of a single drive review of Seagate’s Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs and today it has become time for the RAID review. Thecus provided me with five of these drives, but I’ll only be using four in this review today. Four is a magic number when it comes to RAID and the fifth drive would most likely be set as global spare in most systems anyway, so no point in added it. Four drives also give us a great consistency with other RAID reviews done in the past.
Seagate’s Enterprise NAS drives come in capacities ranging from 1TB and all the way up to 8TB, but I only got the 6TB models in today. The Enterprise NAS series is designed for cloud-based systems and NAS application. They offer support for the use in systems with up to 16 drive bays which is a double up compared to what consumer NAS drives offer. It is very important to use a drive that is properly suited for your area of operation and not just pick any random cheap drive from the shelve. A farmer wouldn’t use an SUV to plow his fields either, it’s just not built for the task. So forget all about misleading Backblaze reports as the figures, features, and warranties speak for themselves here.
The 6TB Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD comes with 128MB cache and a spindle speed of 7200RPM. This is quite a bit more than the variable speeded drives that come with a maximum speed of 5400RPM. This makes the drives a little louder, but the Enterprise NAS HDD is surprisingly silent compared to other 7200RPM drives and only generates 2.5 bels during idle and 2.7 bels maximum during seek operations.
The average seek times are set to 8.5ms reading and 9.5ms writing. The performance is rated with up to 216MB/s sustained data rate and an average read/write rate of 154MB/s. You can run the drive in harsher environments as the Enterprise NAS HDD will work from zero to 70 degrees and can withstand up to 70Gs shocks at 2ms read and 40Gs at 2ms write. This 6TB version is built with 12 heads total for the 6 1TB disks it houses.
The Enterprise NAS drives have a long endurance and great workload ratings. The endurance is rated for 300TB a year and they have a 1.2 million hour mean time before failure rating. Seagate is also backing these drives with a 5-Year warranty and also offers optional 5-Year Rescue Data Recovery options.
The available Rescue Data Recovery Service options can save the day when the worst case scenario happens. It is an extra feature that you might want to consider when dealing with your important data. Any company is more or less lost when they lose their digital data. Seagate Recovery Services (SRS) can save the day in the following situations: RAID controller failure, Lost RAID configuration, accidental reconfiguration, accidental re-initialization of the RAID array, power surges that cause multiple drive failures simultaneously, missing RAID partitions, reformatted RAID partitions, virus damage, natural disaster, human error and drive failures. Most data can be recovered in-lab with a nearly 90% success rate.
The drives are built on customer proven technologies coupled with the newest density platters that allow for lower power consumptions, smaller overall footprint, and lower total cost of ownership over previous drive generations. The RV sensors provide strong reliable performance and the controller is flashed with NAS-optimized firmware for balanced reads and writes.
The drives naturally support ATA8 streaming commands, NCQ, and are performance tuned for RAID applications. On-the-fly ECC algorithms make sure that the data arrives as it should and S.M.A.R.T. allows you to check on the drives status and health.
The PCB of the Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs is well protected and the HDD controller and motor controller both feature heat transfer pads to help them stay cool in hot environments. The 128MB cache on the HDD is provided by an SK Hynix chip.
Enterprise-class reliability and performance for cloud-based storage and NAS applications in 1- to 16-bay enclosures
1.2 million hours MTBF for enterprise-class reliability
300TB-per-year workload rating for mid-range NAS and cloud-based storage
Backed by the Seagate 5-Year Limited Warranty
7200-RPM spindle speed performance
Double the cache size, 256MB multisegmented on 8TB capacity, 128MB on the other sizes
Dual-stage actuators to deliver precision seeks every time
SATA 6Gb/s interface for easy integration into NAS and RAID rackmount systems
RV sensor for sustained performance and reliability
Optional 5-year Rescue Data Recovery Service plan protects against data loss in NAS and RAID environments.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.
I have already had the pleasure to review a few storage products from Silicon Power and today I’m having the second solid state drive of theirs on my test bench for a closer look at what it can perform: The Silicon Power Slim S55 240GB solid state drive.
Silicon Power’s Slim series of solid state drives all come with a 7mm thickness, making them perfect for ultrabooks and similar portable computers that require this form factor. Traditional 2.5-inch mechanical drives mostly come with a 9.5mm thickness, ruling them out as an option. The Slim S55 SSD is the little brother in this series, but it doesn’t need to be ashamed of that.
The Silicon Power Slim S55 is designed for the budget minded consumer that doesn’t want to compromise performance at the same time. Taking the move up from a mechanical hard disk drive or a solid state hybrid drive and to a real SSD can make a world of difference and the SP Slim S55 would be a great option here. It is available as just the drive itself, as I’m testing and reviewing today, but it is also available as an upgrade package with included shockproof external enclosure and cloning software to make the switch as easy as possible. A few clicks with the included NTI Echo 3 cloning software and your laptop is ready to rock with solid state drive speeds.
A solid state drive is an optimal choice for any portable computer, it has a higher reliability and durability than a mechanical HDD does. It doesn’t have any moving parts that generate noise, it consumes less power, has a higher shock resistance, and a throughput that is a lot higher.
The Silicon Power Slim S55 connects through a default SATA3 interface that’s also backward compatible with previous generations. Connecting it to a slower bus naturally also impacts performance, but it is one of the nice things about the SATA connector: Combability. The Slim S55 is rated for a performance of up to 520 MB/s while reading and up to 460 MB/s when writing.
Feature wise we find all the basics and as well as a little more. The Slim S55 supports TRIM and Garbage Collection, Native Command Queuing and it is RAID ready. S.M.A.R.T. is also supported and it comes with built-in Error Correction Code. The only thing that’s missing a little bit is the DeviceSleep feature and maybe encryption support, but you can’t get it all when you go down the budget route.
Silicon Power offers the Slim S55 solid state drive in five different capacities, making sure there is an optimal choice for everyone. Users that only need a little space because they run an Android or ChromeOS, or possible store most data in a personal or commercial cloud environment will find great options here just as users that require more space for a complete windows installation with games and programs will. The Slim S55 is available with 32GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacity. All of them are backed by a 3-year warranty.
Opening up the drive and having a look inside and we see what the drive is made of. We find a 2/3 sized PCB featuring a quad-core Phison PS3110-S10 controller that should give a great performance at both sequential and random operations. There are four NAND chips on the top and another four on the rear, making up the total of 240GB capacity. We also see a Nanya 128MB DDR3 cache located on the top.
7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
SATA III 6Gbps, backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
ATTO high transfer rate: Read speed: 520 MB/s max; Write speed: 460 MB/s max
Smartest Choice for System Upgrade
Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
NCQ and RAID ready
Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
Built-in with SMART monitoring system
Low power consumption
Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
Silicon Power wrapped the Slim S55 in a blister package that displays the included drive directly through the front while it also highlights the drives features and 7mm slim-type.
On the rear, we can find a few more information such as how much better it is than a traditional hard disk drive as well as a list of the basic features NCQ, TRIM, and RAID readiness in several languages.
Inside the blister pack is the drive itself and the leaflet folds out into a small manual and getting started guide that highlights the features, specifications and setting description.
I’ve had the pleasure to review several new drives with triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND recently and today it is time to take a closer look at ADATA’s Premier SP550 solid state drive. The drive is equipped with said TLC flash and an SMI controller to provide an affordable performance upgrade. The ADATA Premier SP550 is available in capacities from 120GB and all the way up to 960GB, I’m however taking a closer look at the 256GB model today.
Let us start with the basics. The ADATA Premier SP550 is a 2.5-inch solid state drive with a 7mm height that makes it a perfect fit for ultrabooks. ADATA also packed a drive spacer along for notebooks that require a 9.5mm drive. This makes it suitable for almost any system, mobile or stationary.
As previously mentioned, the SP550 utilities TLC flash and an SMI2256 controller that comes with all the features that you want and a couple more. The drive naturally supports the basics such as NCQ, SMART, TRIM and Garbage collection, but it also features a low-density parity check error correction code (LDPC ECC) and RAID engine. The drive also supports SLC Caching and comes with a DDR3 DRAM cache buffer for sustained transfer speeds. All that along with Data Shaping technology should ensure data integrity and stability.
The endurance is rated for 90TB total bytes written (TBW) and the SP550 has a mean time before failure rating of 1.5 million hours. The 240GB model is rated for a sequential read performance up to 560MB/s and a sequential write performance up to 510MB/s. That is pretty good for a small drive that’s TLC based. The random performance is rated for 75K IOPS on both read and write operations. Part of the good performance rating comes from the intelligent SLC caching algorithm of the drive that allows NAND flash memory to operate in SLC mode and boosts SSD read and write performance.
A feature not mentioned above is the DevSleep, or Device Sleep, that in supported systems will send the drive to an even deeper sleep state where it consumes close to zero amount of power. Instead of keeping a data channel open for a wake-up signal, the DevSleep uses a power signal to wake the drive back up.
ADATA also got an SSD toolbox that makes maintenance of the drive an easy thing. You can quickly and conveniently configure, optimize, and monitor SSDs, from overall status to specific drive health and lifespan info. Speaking of lifespan, the ADATA Premier SP550 is backed by a 3-year warranty.
Inside the two-piece encasing, we find a 2/3 sized PCB where we see that nothing but quality components were used. The NAND is rom SKhynix, the cache from NANYA, and the controller from Silicon Motion.
TLC flash with SMI controller Capacity Model Number EAN Code
Advanced LDPC ECC Technology
RAID Engine & Data Shaping for ultimate protection
Intelligent SLC Caching for improved performance
High TBW for extended drive longevity
DEVSLP (Device Sleep) supported
Capacities: 120GB / 240GB / 480GB / 960GB
NAND Flash Memory: Toggle TLC (3-bit MLC)
7mm 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/sec (SATA III) interface
ECC Capability: Advanced hardware LDPC engine
Dimensions (L x W x T): 100.45 x 69.85 x 7mm *Varies depending on exact configuration
Operating Temperature: 0~70°C
Storage Temperature: -40~85°C
Shock Resistance: 1500G/0.5ms
Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
Warranty: 3 years
Package and Accessories
ADATA packed the SP550 in a simple white box that has a transparent window showcasing the included drive itself. The front also features all the relevant features that the drive sports.
The rear of the box has all the details in multiple languages as well as the rated speeds.
Inside the box we find the drive itself as well as a 9.5mm drive adapter and a quick start guide.
I’ve taken a look at quite a few 2-bay NAS units lately and while they already allow for an impressive 16TB raw storage, that might not be enough for everyone. Today I’m taking Synology’s DiskStation DS416, a 4-bay feature-rich and high-performance NAS server, for a spin on my test bench. The Synology DiskStation DS416 is built around an Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 32-bit dual-core CPU with 1.4GHz, floating point unit, and hardware encryption engine. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory that sadly isn’t upgradable.
The DS416 is a full-fledged NAS that comes with everything you’d want from a performance system. It features dual Gigabit Ethernet network that supports all types of failover and link aggregation, allowing you to keep your system connected under heavier load or when one connection should fail. The DS416 also features three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is conveniently placed on the front of the NAS for easy access.
With powerful hardware like that, the DS416 is able to deliver an average reading and writing speeds of 220 MB/s and 140 MB/s respectively while encrypted file transfers come in at an evenly impressive 146 MB/s reading and 65 MB/s writing. Those figures naturally depend on what hard disk drives you use as well as the method of data access and your network setup.
The drive bays feature a convenient tool-free drive installation for 3.5-inch drives where as you still need screws to mount 2.5-inch drives. The latter is a rare occurrence anyway and shouldn’t be anything to bother anyone. The drive bays are covered by a removable front plate that gives the NAS a cleaner overall look by hiding away the drives. The drive bays aren’t the only thing that you can swap out in this NAS, the fans are also redundant. The DS416 incorporates a passive cooling design on the actual components and only uses two 92mm fans on the rear to keep everything at an optimal temperature. When the system detects a fan failure, the built-in redundancy mechanism ensures continuous operation until the replacement fan arrives.
The DS416 is naturally powered by DiskStation Manager (DSM), the award-winning operating system from Synology. It has a beautiful and functional user interface and all the features you will need at home or in a small to medium-sized business. It offers all the network protocols you’d want including SMB2, AFP, NFS, WebDAV, and FTP. Server admins don’t need to worry about maintaining two set of user credentials either as the DS416 comes with both Windows AD and LDAP integration. An added convenience factor is the network recycle bin that is featured on AFP, CIFS, File Station, and WebDAV. All files deleted in a shared folder will be automatically moved into the Recycle Bin instead of being destroyed.
The DS416 isn’t just an all in one server when it comes to features, it also has the power to handle it. You can easily turn your DS416 into a mail server with webmail interface, set up a VPN server connect as a VPN client, create a print server for USB printers and much more such as Radius server, Proxy server, and Syslog server features.
Creating your own personal yet comprehensive cloud solutions is no problem either with the DS416 thanks to the Cloud Station package.It is the perfect package to sync files across multiple devices, perform offline edits and later synced them, and keep up to 32 historical versions for easy restoration. You also got all the normal backup features that you’ll want such as 2-way sync between different DiskSations as well as support for commercial cloud services such as Glacier Backup and HiDrive Backup.
The Synology DiskStation DS416 has a comprehensive security package, starting with AES 256-bit encryption but also more advanced setups like 2-step verification. It also comes with AppArmor that can block malicious programs from accessing unauthorized system resources and you can customize the trust level in the package center to only accept apps from certain publishers. The built-in firewall is another useful feature just as the Denial of Service (DoS) protection. Antivirus can also be downloaded and installed for that extra level of security. Overall, everything you need to keep your data safe from malicious code and people.
Synology also offers a row of mobile apps that you can use to easy connection and usage of your NAS from your mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The apps include DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download and DS cam.
Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
Dual LAN with failover and link aggregation support
Over 221.05MB/s reading, 139.51MB/s writing
Effective backup solution for all desktop and mobile devices
Front USB 3.0 for fast easy access
Hot-swappable & tool-less hard drive tray design
Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)
Packaging and Accessories
The Synology DS416 comes in a simple brown package with a sticker for model inside. It has all the relevant features presented as well as an image of the unit that is inside.
The rear of the box has a second sticker with some of the hardware highlights.
Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, you’ll find an AC adapter with power cable for the region where you purchased it, two RJ45 LAN cables, screws for use with 2.5-inch drives, and a Welcome and Quick Installation Guide. Everything you need to get it setup and I like that Synology included two LAN cables so users can get port trunking up and running right away.
It is one thing to buy a wireless network card and set it up, but a lot of the time you can improve the performance of these cards with a few aftermarket items. Today I’m taking a little look at some of the upgrade offering that SilverStone offers, the WAB1B Magnetic WiFi antenna base, the WAD17 7 dBi high-gain antenna, and the 9 dBi WA219 high-gain antenna.
An antenna base can help you with two things: Move the antennas to a more open space where it’s less crowded than behind your PC with all the add-in cards and cables running there. The second bonus is that you can move the antennas to a place where they will get a better reception than they would behind your chassis that’s possibly located under your desk. SilverStone’s WAB1B antenna base is also magnetic which allows you to place it on the side of things, such as your PC chassis if it is made of metal. This increases the placement options even further. To finalize the whole thing, SilverStone added gold-plated connectors at both ends to ensure the best possible signal transfer.
The included antennas might not be total to your liking when you buy a network card, for one reason or another. The most common reason to get aftermarket antennas is the higher performance that they offer over the mainstream and included antennas. Antennas with higher gain also come with an increased size as you can see on the photo below. The smallest antenna is the default antenna included with SilverStone’s ECWA1 PCIe card and the other two are the WAD17 and WA219 respectively.
The WAD17 is a dual-band antenna for use with both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz band while the WA219 only is a single-band antenna for use with the 2.4GHz band. Both have their usage scenarios, so which you pick comes down to what you need. The long WA219 has a performance of 9dBi while the WAD217 has a performance of 7dBi, both quite a bit better than default 5dBi antennas, or worse.
Synology’s 2-bay play series has been very popular among users due to its great features and functionality coupled with a low asking price. Today I’m taking a closer look at the newest model in this series, the DS216play, a NAS featuring a powerful dual-core CPU with hardware H.264 and H.265 transcoding support and floating point unit.
Let us dive right into the hardware on this little NAS. The CPU is an STM STiH412 32-bit dual-core processor with 1.5GHz and floating point unit. The hardware transcoding engine is capable of the H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, and VC-1 codecs and it can work with a maximum resolution of up to 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at up to 30 frames per second. It allows you to transcode 4K videos to 1080p, making them suitable for all screens and bandwidths whether they are local media players or remote mobile devices. In addition, you can also stream original 4K resolution videos to your multimedia player or 4K TV within a local network environment. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory which should be sufficient for its area of operation.
With those hardware specifications, the DS216play is able to deliver an average speed of 107 MB/s when reading and 91 MB/s when writing on a RAID 1 configuration from a Windows environment. The built-in floating-point unit enhances the overall capability of the main CPU and it is particularly advantageous in speeding up thumbnail creations when uploading a lot of photos or videos.
One of the main features of a NAS like this is to stream media files to a whole lot of devices. The DS216play can act as a DLNA certified DMS (Digital Media Server), allowing you to stream multimedia contents, such as music, photos, and videos, to DLNA compliant devices. It can also stream to pretty much any other device such as mobile phones and tablets, TVs, and stereos. Synology also offers support for Samsung TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku players.
Three of the official and very popular apps on the DS216play are the Photo Station, Video Station, and Audio Station. They provide a streamlined and sleek interface that turn your NAS into an entertainment hub. The Video Station allows you to browse and manage all your movies, TV shows, and home videos and build up a smart video library with those. The Photo Station is the same, just for still pictures, and it also allows you to create web albums or blogs to record and share the exciting moments of your lives with others. The Audio Station can create your own audio streaming service where you can build a personal music center and stream music directly from your Synology NAS to other devices. You can rate your songs and sort music into smart playlists according to the rating. Plus, sharing a playlist with others is as simple as creating a sharing link and sending it to your friends.
Thanks to Synology’s QuickConnect, you can easily access all the NAS functions no matter where in the world you are, as long as the NAS and you both have an internet connection. It is a very simple DDNS service that takes care of all the settings for you. All you need to do is log in. This allows you to create your own personal cloud service where you don’t need to rely on costly monthly plans or storage limits. You can still connect your NAS to public cloud offerings such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, hubiC, and Baidu Cloud as well as Amazon S3, Glacier cloud service, Microsoft Azure, SFR, and hicloud.
The Synology DS216play supports plenty of backup methods for both Windows and Mac users with the use of Cloud Station. Whenever you modify a file, the changes are backed up to the DS216play automatically. Mac OS users can also use Apple Time Machine. Backups to and from another Synology NAS is also supported, just as rsync servers, external drives, and cloud services can be used as backup targets.
Speaking of external devices, the DS216play has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port for external storage devices, printers, or wireless adapters. There is one Gigabit Ethernet port for the network connectivty and the entire unit is cooled by a 92mm fan.
So far I have talked a lot about the media capabilities on the DS216play NAS, but we shouldn’t forget that NAS stands for network attached storage. The DS216play naturally supports everything it needs to here from Samba (SMB2) for Windows and Mac OS users as well as AFP and NFS. Should you use WebDAV for your credentials, then that is supported too. AFP, CIFS, File Station and WebDAV also support network recycle bins for extra safety. An FTP service is also included by default, one of the oldest and most universal file transfer protocls around.
The File Station is a fast and secure feature for sharing and managing your files stored on DS216play. Just drag and drop to upload data from Mac or PC. Advanced filters make it easy to search for documents, photos, or videos and it also has a built-in FTP and email client. IT lets you organize and share files through an advanced web application and you can even share files and folders with others by simply sending a link. Files can be reached on mobile devices via the companion mobile app DS file. Both HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption are featured for secure transfers and you can even set link expiry dates.
Synology built the DS216play in the well-known two-piece chassis, this time in black. It is simple yet effective with the only downside of not having front-accessible drive bays. On the other hand, home users are the intended market for a NAS like this and it is not like they’re switching and swapping drives all the time.
4K Ultra HD video transcoding on the fly
Powerful dual-core CPU with H.265 codec support
107.7 MB/s Reading, 91.47 MB/s Writing
DLNA certified for media streaming
Powered by Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)
Packaging and Accessories
The Synology DiskStation DS216play comes in a simple brown box with a sticker highlighting the NAS model and its features.
The physical characteristics are detailed a little bit more on the rear where it also lists the hardware specifications.
Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, we find a power cable and AC/DC converter, a LAN cable, screws for the drives and the chassis itself as well as a Quick Installation Guide to get you going.