Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.

Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800
  • Case: Game Max Destroyer Windowed
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Processor: Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III
  • Graphics card: Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: N/A
  • Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
  • Price: £889.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.

Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.

The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.

Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.

Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.

The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.

In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.

Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.

 

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


BIOSTAR might not be the most recognizable motherboard brand in western markets but their pedigree for creating reliable products is worthy of praise. When compared to MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, the company struggles to entice consumers with unique aesthetic designs. Furthermore, the BIOS and software package has been sorely lacking and in dire need of change. Thankfully, BIOSTAR have acknowledged these criticisms and decided to forge a brand new range based upon a racing theme to please petrolheads with an avid interest in enthusiast hardware. Each RACING motherboard sports a chequered flag PCB and stylish LED illumination while introducing a new BIOS layout. Clearly, this is a major departure from BIOSTAR’s previous products which evoked a fairly mundane appearance.

The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is based on the mATX form factor and supports up to 64GB DDR4 with a maximum speed of 2133MHz. Intel’s H170 chipset blocks multiplier overclocking which means you have to resort to your processor’s default turbo frequency. Of course, there’s been some controversy surrounding BCLK overclocking on H170 and B150 motherboards to unofficially achieve boosts fairly close to traditional multiplier overclocking. Sadly, Intel has voiced their displeasure regarding this phenomenon and pressurized manufacturers to disable BCLK overclocking via a BIOS update. As a result, we have to rely on stock figures to determine the motherboard’s performance. Previously, I’ve seen some astounding results when it comes to storage with BIOSTAR products, and I’m interested to see if this trend continues.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

Here we can see the absolutely stunning packaging which contains a carbon fibre inspired cover and vibrant text. This coincides with the RACING focus and feels quite reminiscent of a luxury sports car’s interior.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed diagram showing the motherboard’s layout and explanation of its unique selling features. Once again, this is presented a superb manner and makes you inquisitive about the product’s specification.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard includes a user’s manual, Vivid LED DJ instructions guide, SATA cables, driver disk, and I/O shield.

Kingston Releases Micro-SD Card Designed for Action Cameras

There are plenty of memory cards on the market, but it aren’t all of them that are equally suited for all tasks – much in the same way as it is with any other kind of storage product. Kingston just released a new micro SD Card specifically designed for use with action cameras and that comes with UHS-I U3 Speed Class 3 ratings. The new Kingston SDCAC microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 memory card comes in various sizes from 16GB and up to 64GB.

The new Kingston SDCAC microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 memory card comes in various sizes from 16GB and up to 64GB. Its rugged performance and form factor make this micro SD card ideal for most action cameras including GoPro and drones.

The cards feature speeds of up to 90MB/s when reading and up to 45MB/s when writing. While that doesn’t sound like much when we compare it to SSD performance, it is quite nice for a card of this size. And we also have to keep in mind that these are minimum speed ratings and not possible maximum speeds.

The sustained performance allows outdoor enthusiasts to shoot in 4K resolutions without missing a single frame and even shoot up to 240 frames per second on normal Full-HD recordings. With a capacity availability from 16GB to 64GB, there should be a right card for everyone. The 16GB and 32GB capacities are shipping this month while the larger 64GB ships next month.

The cards can perform in any environment as they are waterproof, shockproof, X-ray proof, and temperature proof. Pretty much just proofed. The card is available in two version, with and without an SD card adapter that lets users quickly and easily view footage on a PC, notebook, or media reader.

Kingston’s microSD Action Camera UHS-I U3 is backed by a lifetime warranty, free technical support, and legendary Kingston reliability. No word on pricing yet.

Features and Specifications:

  • Designed for action cameras and drones: shoot video at up to 30 frames per second in 4K or capture HD footage at 240 frames per second on your GoPro, action camera or drone to preserve every second of your latest adventure.
  • Rugged for every adventure: waterproof, shockproof, X-ray proof, and temperature proof to perform even in harsh environments.
  • Enough space for your trip: whether shooting in 4K or at 240 frames per second, the card has room to keep you going.
  • Guaranteed: Lifetime warranty, legendary reliability, free technical support.
  • Capacities1: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (shipping later)
  • Performance7: 90MB/s read and 45MB/s write, UHS-I Speed Class 3 (U3)
  • microSD Dimensions: 11mm x 15mm x 1mm
  • SD Adapter Dimensions: 24mm x 32mm x 2.1mm
  • Format: FAT32 (microSDHC 16GB-32GB); exFAT (microSDXC 64GB)
  • Operating Temperature: -25°C to 85°C
  • Storage Temperature: -40°C to 85°C
  • Voltage: 3.3V
  • Warranty: Lifetime

EKWB Releases EK-RAM Monarch Liquid RAM Cooling Modules

You might already have your graphics card and processor coupled into your liquid cooling setup, but what about your memory? While memory isn’t a thing that’s obvious to add to your custom loop right away, there can be good reasons to do so. To name one: Parts of your system that otherwise wouldn’t run hot might start to do so because of the lack of airflow generated by the fans from traditionally cooled equipment such as CPU and GPU coolers.

Liquid cooling for memory isn’t anything new as such, but EKWB just released a new version of the EK-RAM Monarch cooling modules where the existing black variant is now also available as a Nickel plated version. The EK-RAM Monarch Module is a heatsink adapter which allows virtually any DDR-SDRAM memory module of any generation to be liquid cooled – but it also requires the EK-RAM Monarch series water blocks to go on top.

Each heatsink consists of two separate plates with the memory module sandwiched in between. The heat transfer between the memory module and aluminium heatsink adapter is ensured by the use of an enclosed thermal pad. Each set of EK-RAM Monarch Modules contains two adapter heatsinks that are made of CNC machined high-quality aluminium and feature either a nickel finish or a black anodized finish.

The EK-RAM Monarch modules are available now through EK’s own webshop and their partner reseller network. A nickel plated set of two modules will set you back €34.95 while the black version is a little cheaper and only will cost you €29.95. Both prices include VAT.

Besides the above-mentioned reason of missing airflow in the memory area, adding liquid cooling to your memory will also allow you to overclock them higher while still retaining a stable system. While memory overclocking won’t result in as big a real-world difference as other parts such as CPU and GPU, it might be just what you’re missing to grab those last couple of benchmarks points and beat your friends results. Maybe you’ll also just do it for aesthetic reasons – the modules do look awesome.

USB Thief Infects ‘Air-gapped’ Computers And Leaves No Trace

Malware (short for malicious software) is a type of program that is intended to cause harm to a system, be it in the form of ransomware, like that which has hit several hospitals in the US, or just you generic popup creating malware. A new malware named USB Thief, looks to break the chain of common threats by hiding itself and infecting systems even when they aren’t connected to the internet.

The internet is a wonderful thing but the problem with everyone being able to share and talk to one another is that sending something nasty is as easy as clicking a button (or in some cases, the software even does this for you). USB Thief avoids this by working on USB sticks, the very same ones you use to send information to and from your computer to your parents or even your friends.

The software hides by only executing under a certain set of rules, that is using a key created from the original USB drive it was created for. Even when it does spread it uses a unique key created using the ID of the USB stick and the time, meaning that traditional attempts to copy and discover the malware fail when suddenly it has unknown hardware in the mix.

Not only does it mean it won’t always execute, breaking the common rule of repeated behaviour is traceable behaviour, but it doesn’t leave any evidence on the infected computer, meaning your data could be stolen and you wouldn’t even know it. USB Thief lives up to the second part of its name, with it at the moment only working to steal data, but Tomáš Gardoň, a malware analyst with antivirus provider Ese says that “it would not be difficult to redesign the malware to change from a data-stealing payload to any other malicious payload”.

By avoiding the internet and focusing on the more traditional method of using USB drives, the virus is able to infect systems similar to how Stuxnet worked, enabling it to infect ‘air-gapped’ system (those which aren’t connected to the internet). With the USB lock in place, only the original USB created by its designers can infect systems, meaning if you didn’t create the original you won’t be able to use it.

If that wasn’t enough the USB Thief’s developer seems to have done its homework as it only runs as part of a command from portable versions of legitimate applications like Notepad++ and Firefox. If you’re running Kaspersky Lab or G Data though you should be okay as the malware won’t install itself on your system, a feature that was no doubt down to results from some initial testing.

Lexar Announces New 200GB High-Performance microSDXC Card

Lexar released a new memory card for those that need a lot of speed and a lot of storage at the same time as they announced the release of their new 200GB microSDXC card that comes with a 633x speed rating and an SD Class U1 rating.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a 200GB card in this size, but it is the first time that it goes mainstream and becomes an available card for normal people that want that extra capacity in their smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices based on SD cards. The 633x speed rating (633 times 150KB/s) equals to about 95MB/s which is the read speed that this card can perform – far higher than the official U1 rating. The 200GB capacity is enough to store up to 17 hours of 4K and Full HD video, 33,000 photos, or 28,000 of your favourite songs – if you even got a library that size at all.

“Professional and everyday photographers are now more passionate about shooting high-quality video, on everything from digital SLRs to sports and aerial cameras,” said Steffi Ho, product marketing manager, Lexar. “With the Lexar 200GB microSDXC UHS-I card, photographers can continue to capture and store large amounts of content on the go, without having to worry about running out of space.

Lexar also included a USB 3.0 card reader for high-speed card-to-computer transfer of all your captured moments. The card reader is naturally backward compatible with USB 2.0, so a connection to legacy systems won’t be an issue either. The 200GB Lexar High-Performance 633x microSDXC UHS-I card comes with a limited lifetime warranty while the card reader itself has a 1-year limited warranty.

Should your interest be tickled by this news, then the good part is that it’s already available and it isn’t even as expensive as you might think. The new card is currently available for purchase with an MSRP of £109.99.

Mushkin Redline DDR4 3000MHz 16GB (4x4GB) Quad Channel Memory Kit Review

Introduction


The Mushkin Redline series is engineered to provide magnificent reliability and low latency while utilizing impressive memory speeds well beyond the DDR4 standard. Each Mushkin kit undergoes a rigorous testing procedure to reduce the possibility of hardware failure and backed by a generous lifetime warranty. This gives the purchaser peace-of-mind and ensures their investment is protected. On another note, Mushkin use high-quality ICs to maximize performance by finding the perfect balance between frequency and latency.

Today we’re taking a detailed look at a 3000MHz 16GB quad channel kit which adopts Mushkin’s FrostByte heatsink design and features timings of 15-15-15-35. The memory’s impressive memory speed to latency ratio should result in exceptional numbers, and I expect to see it compare favourably against rival offerings.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The modules come in a stylish cardboard box which enhances the level of protection compared to traditional blister packs. Additionally, the small cut out allows you to see the memory in all its glory and increases your excitement during the unboxing process. It’s always great to see something a little unusual with memory packaging because the majority of kits take a fairly mundane approach to box design.

On the rear section, there’s a brief synopsis about the product’s reliability, and Mushkin’s commitment to providing excellent customer service.

A Closer Look

The memory’s primary colour is difficult to pinpoint as the red finish tends to lighten at certain angles. It’s really a cross between a dark red and pink, but once the modules are exposed to low-medium light conditions, they look like a typical red design. This unusual shading effect works superbly and makes the modules have a sense of character. I also really like the silver accent and subtle Mushkin branding which adds a sophisticated feel.

On another note, the distinctive shape on the heatspreaders stands out without detracting from the understated construction. Sadly, the green PCB doesn’t help matters and I’d much prefer to see a black PCB instead. Granted, this isn’t a major problem when the modules are installed, but it might irk some users wanting the perfect colour scheme, or using hefty LED illumination. Overall, the aesthetic design is excellent and should cater towards the mainstream gaming market rather nicely.

Mushkin Blackline Ridgeback DDR4 2400MHz 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


The latest memory kit to arrive for review purposes is part of Muskin’s Blackline Ridgeback range. The sample we received opts for a 16GB capacity, 2400MHz speed and timings of 15-15-15-35. This is achieved with a very respectable voltage rating of 1.2V and showcases the modules’ efficiency. Mushkin is a pioneering memory manufacturer formed in 1994 and continues to release new DIMMs sporting unique designs at a very competitive price point. Unlike their competitors, Mushkin assembles and hand tests each memory kit in the USA while strictly monitoring their production line.

This results in exceptional reliability and minimizes the potential for customer returns. The company also selects low latency modules to find a suitable balance between raw frequency and operating latency. On another note, every Mushkin memory kit is backed with a lifetime warranty and approachable customer service team. Given their reputation in the industry, I expect the memory kit to perform admirably at stock values and have some good overclocking headroom. Let’s see how it compares to other dual channel alternatives!

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The product comes in a traditional blister pack, and adopts the slogan, “Gamers take notice, rivals take notes.” I quite like the background design which looks rather striking and adds a dash of colour.

On the rear, there’s a very detailed installation guide containing extremely clear diagrams. Inserting the modules into position is a very simple process, but it’s always good to include instructions for newcomers without any previous system building experience.

A Closer Look

The DIMMs convey a professional look via the neutral colour scheme and should suit a wide range of system builds. Additionally, the angled heat spreaders provide a distinctive appearance without straying too far from the sophisticated, understated design. I’m also really keen on the silver accents, which adds some visual flair. Sadly, the green PCB spoils the black theme somewhat and ruins the overall level of synergy. Although once the modules are installed, you shouldn’t notice the green PCB from a distance. Thankfully, there are some SKUs which already have the same heat spreader design and black PCB to complement it perfectly. Overall, Mushkin has done a commendable job in the product’s aesthetics and ensured it appeals to the core gaming demographic.

Micron Declares GDDR5X Right on Track

Engineers at the Micron Development Center in Munich have announced that they have gotten their first samples of GDDR5X back from their fab before schedule and have started testing. In addition to that, Micron is expecting to ramp up volume production of GDDR5X on their 20nm memory process sometime in mid-2016. GDDR5X is an evolution on GDDR5 rather than a new memory technology and is expected to tide the industry over till HBM2 and HMC come online.

In early testing, some of the GDDR5X samples have already hit 13Gbps, just short of the eventual 14Gbps goal for the production modules. Combined with a new improved prefetch and new quad data rate, GDDR5X is expected to double the bandwidth over GDDR5 while increasing capacity and reducing power consumption. With progress going well, samples will begin to ship to partners (like AMD and Nvidia) in the spring. This means we will be unlikely to see any GDDR5X based cards until fall 2016.

While GDDR5X will still fall short of HBM2 bandwidth, it will undoubtedly be cheaper. It will also allow GPUs to be made with narrower buses while still maintaining the same overall bandwidth, allowing for reduced power consumption, cheaper GPUs and faster GPUs. We can expect the mainstream and even performance segments to utilize GDDR5X while the budget cards stick with GDDR5 and the enthusiast cards use HBM2. For more on GDDR5X, check out our write-up here.

Meem – The Charging Cable That Will Backup Your Phone for You

So honest answers only, when was the last time you backed up your computer? We are recommended to do this every week but so many of us leave it until we’ve already lost our computer to some nasty malware or power surge. If we do that to our computers with all our pictures and documents on, what do we do with our phones? Do you ever back up your phone? Meem, a company in the UK, is looking to help you do just that.

One of the reasons we often ignore backing up is because we don’t think we have the time, we are simply too busy or in a rush. Ways to speed this up are to back up while you are doing something else, downloading updates? time to back up. With a phone this is more difficult because we rarely leave the devices alone, constantly checking for messages or emails.

The one time we do leave our phones alone is when they are charging, normally overnight. The Meem cable comes with internal storage that copies your phone contacts and photos every time you use it to charge your device, this means that you just simply charge it like you would at the moment and have an instant backup from your phone.

Kelly Sumner, chief executive of the company behind the device, said that while many phones use the cloud to back up your devices, some don’t trust online service and you are limited by the requirement for an internet connection.

Have you backed up your phone recently? How about any other device you use every day? I think this cable will help a lot of people with their devices, giving you security and safe knowledge that your data is there if anything happens to your phone.

Macronix is Supplying Memory For The Nintendo NX

Nintendo’s upcoming console, codenamed NX is receiving a barrage of media attention as speculation mounts regarding the device’s form factor. The majority of these reports stem from a number of patents which make for very interesting reading. In theory, Nintendo could be creating a hybrid device which works with PCs, mobiles and tablets. Furthermore, it’s rumoured to run the latest version of Android, and could allow more freedom than you typically expect from Nintendo. The Wii U and 3DS are both region locked and this even applies to digital content! Hopefully, Nintendo now understands how the global market works today and going to adopt a more consumer-friendly approach.

The latest piece of news revolves around Macronix International, a manufacturer of non-volatile memory. During an online Q4 2015 financial results conference, the company’s president C.Y. Lu weighed in on the current ROM business and claimed one of their biggest partners is preparing for a next generation platform. The company confirmed that the partner in question is Nintendo, and the platform in question is the NX console. Here we can see a slide from the presentation:

According to a Yahoo (Chinese) financial stock article translated by ConsoleFood, the NX is a key part of Macronix’s future plans:

“Japanese video-game company Nintendo will launch their new NX system this year. Macronix’s General Manager (CY Lu) said that Macronix will supply products for the NX and has considerable expectations regarding this.

Macronix held an online conference this afternoon. Due to Nintendo releasing their new NX system this year, investors were concerned about whether Macronix (who have a longstanding business relationship with Nintendo) will be part of the NX supply chain.

CY Lu stated that Macronix will provide memory units for the NX and, internally, has considerable expectations regarding the NX.

Despite refusing to disclose whether they will supply the NX with ROM, CY Lu did say that he expects ROM sales to be outstanding this year.”

So what does this actually mean? It’s still fairly unclear, but there’s the potential for games ship via cartridges instead of optical media. This makes sense due to the advent of affordable high-capacity storage. Furthermore, there’s no need to complete a lengthy install which should enhance the user-experience. On another note, optical drives are the mostly likely component to fail, so ditching a drive completely will help reliability.

Patriot Viper 4 DDR4 3200MHz 16GB (2x8GB) Dual Channel Memory Kit Review

Introduction


DDR4 memory kits are steadily superseding DDR3 DIMMs due to competitive pricing and the advent of Intel’s LGA1151 chipset which supports speeds in excess of 3200MHz. Furthermore, DDR4 modules require less voltage to remain stable despite the typical increase in memory bandwidth. Recently, professional overclocker Shamino set an astounding world record and overclocked the G.Skill Ripjaws 4 to 4255MHz using a mere 1.3 volts. Clearly, this is an extreme case and the majority of DDR4 kits available to consumers range between 2400MHz and 4000MHz. Plus, the performance difference in gaming tasks primarily revolves around your system’s graphics card, and CPU. Nevertheless, it’s still important to select high-quality DIMMs to keep your PC perfectly stable and compliment the other components.

The Patriot Viper series is synonymous for offering excellent memory speeds at an affordable price point. Here’s a brief description of the product directly from the manufacturer:

“Patriot Memory’s Viper 4 Series memory modules are designed with true performance in mind. Built for the latest Intel® Skylake processor utilizing the 100 series platform, the Viper 4 series provides the best performance and stability for the most demanding computer environments.

The Viper 4 series utilizes a custom designed high performance heat shield for superior heat dissipation to ensure rock solid performance even when using the most taxing applications. Built from the highest quality Build of Materials, Patriot Memory’s Viper 4 Series memory modules are hand tested and validated for system compatibility.

Available in dual kits, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB kits, Patriot Memory’s Viper 4 Series will be offered at speeds from 2400MHz up to 3600MHz and XMP 2.0 ready. Hand tested for quality assurance the Viper 4 series is backed by a lifetime warranty.”

As you can see, the latest version of the Viper range comes in a variety of capacities and memory speeds to suit a wide range of user requirements. Given the impressive 3200MHz speed, 16-16-16 timings and respectable voltage, I expect to see some superb numbers which legitimately rival the best dual channel kits we’ve tested!

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Patriot have adopted a clean, bold design to the memory’s packaging which makes it easy to read the key specifications while admiring the DIMM’s colour scheme. Here we can see a visual run down of the memory’s speed, capacity, XMP version and other essential statistics. Many kits on the market utilize pretty plain blister packs which don’t enthuse a luxury feel. In this case, the packaging draws you in and leaves a very positive initial impression.

On the rear section, there’s information about Patriot’s lifetime warranty, a brief synopsis of the product, and links to the company’s presence across various social media platforms.

A Closer Look

From an aesthetics standpoint, the DIMMs have a rather understated look and targets the mainstream gaming audience. Any red and black heatspreader combination is going to become a popular choice, and the different shades combine quite nicely. Another striking touch is the contrast between the textured black finish and matte section towards the PCB. I’m also quite fond of the sophisticated Viper logo and small gap between the main heatspreader which creates an impressive visual effect. Sadly, the green PCB is difficult to overlook and detracts from the attractive design. If a black PCB was used instead, the memory would be the perfect choice for a high-end build. Despite these qualms, once the RAM is installed, you’re not going to notice the PCB colour in an enclosed chassis.

G.Skill Announce New DDR4 3200MHz 128GB (16GBx8) Memory Kit

G.Skill memory kits have become a popular choice among enthusiasts, and professional overclockers due to the high quality ICs and impressive speeds. Various world records revolve around G.Skill DIMMs which showcases their performance in extreme usage scenarios. Today, the company unveiled a new memory kit designed for video editing, rendering and other memory intensive tasks. This latest kit has a capacity of 128GB and opts for eight 16GB modules. Additionally, the DIMMs feature an impressive stock memory speed of 3200MHz which is a significant boost from the standard DDR4-2133MHz figure. Not only that, the memory kit offers a low latency of CL14-14-14-34 and uses an XMP profile with 1.35V. This is very impressive because the standard 2133MHz latency is actually higher with a rating of CL15-15-15-35.

As a result, there’s room for manual overclocking, and you should be able to attain some very impressive results. Here we can see a screenshot of the memory being completely stable under stress with the entire capacity and 3200MHz XMP 2.0 profile. As always, G.Skill is very serious about their testing procedure, and the DIMMs were stressed for a total of 42 hours. This gives an indication of the module’s stability and should be very reliable in any task you throw at it. In terms of pricing, the 128GB kit is quite a costly endeavour, but that’s expected given the huge capacity at your disposal. According to G.Skill, the starting price will be $1096, and should be available by the end of February.

While this might seem like a lot of money, you have to remember that it’s a tiny amount of people who require a capacity even exceeding 16GB. The majority of games run perfectly fine with 8GB, although I’d still recommend 16GB to be on the safe side. When you’re looking into 128GB kits, it’s designed for heavy editing, computational tasks or running virtual machines.

The Human Brain Capable of Holding 1 Petabyte of Data

A new study suggests that the human brain may be capable of storing as much as 1 petabyte of data, and yes that is a lot; it’s even ten times more information that was previously believed. With so much data, it’s no wonder I struggle to find the bit of information in my brain that knows where my car keys are, but that’s a whole different story.

“This is a real bombshell in the field of neuroscience,” Salk Institute for Biological Studies researcher Terry Sejnowski said. “Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.”

The team reconstructed a rat’s hippocampus in 3D, allowing them to study the memory center of the brain. Through this process, they realised that the brain synapses are capable of changing dimensions, altering their memory capacity. While other synapses were duplicating, allowing the reconstruction of connectivity, shapes and volumes of the brain tissue. This also led to the idea that there may be as many as 26 categories of synapses, far more than previously thought.

“This is roughly an order of magnitude of precision more than anyone has ever imagined,” Sejnowski said. “The implications of what we found are far-reaching. Hidden under the apparent chaos and messiness of the brain is an underlying precision to the size and shapes of synapses that was hidden from us.”

The research can now help advance deep learning and neural networking computer techniques, as we discover how the brain can process with unmatched abilities while consuming just 20 watts of power. With a petabyte, and maybe even more at its disposal, the human brain is an amazing thing. If you can’t grasp just how much data that is, just imagine downloading the entire internet, literally all of it, and storing it in your head with room left over! Although I can’t imagine how big the piracy fine would be for doing so.

GDDR5X Graphics Memory Standard Announced by JEDEC

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is one of the world leaders in the memory standards field and today published JESD232, the specification for GDDR5X graphics memory. With both sides of the graphics card battle seemingly set to use this new standard going into 2016, the standard should herald the release of new graphics cards making use of the RAM.

GDDR5X graphics memory (or SGRAM) is derived from the commonplace GDDR5 used in the majority of current graphics cards while identifying key areas in which the existing standard can be enhanced in both design and operability that make them more able to handle applications that benefit from very high memory bandwidth. The aim for GDDR5X is to reach data rates in the region of 10 to 14 Gb/s, twice as fast as GDDR5. While this falls short of the enormous 256 Gb/s HBM2 GRAM is meant to be capable of, GDDR5X should be suited to more affordable grades of graphics card where HBM is price ineffectual. GDDR5X should also be able to ensure an easy switchover from the previous standard for developers, with the new standard retaining usage of GDDR5’s pseudo open drain signaling.

How GDDR5X impacts Micron’s development of GDDR6 remains to be seen, with both technologies seemingly targeting the same area of the graphics card market. Regardless, with HBM2 for enthusiast grade cards and this newly standardized GDDR5X for the rest of the field, 2016 should be an exciting time for the GPU market whether you’re a fan of AMD or nVidia.

Samsung kicks off HBM2 Mass Production

With both AMD’s Polaris and Nvidia’s Pascal both launching in 2016, the GPU market is very lively this year. Both competing platforms are also set to use HBM2 which JEDEC finally released the final standard for. Within days of JEDEC’s release, Samsung has just started mass production of their HBM2 memory chips.

Starting off with 4GB, Samsung’s HBM2 uses their advanced 20nm process. Each HBM2 package stacks four 8Gb core dies on top of a buffer die at the bottom. Each of these packages will offer 256 GB/s of bandwidth, quadruple that of HBM1. For a more dramatic comparison, each 4Gb GDDR5 die only offers 1/7 the memory bandwidth and 1/2 the energy efficiency. HBM2 also has 5000 TSV (Through Silicon Via), 36x more than what GDDR5 has.

Just like HBM1 did for AMD’s Fury lineup, Samsung is expecting HBM2 to bring 95% space savings compared to GDDR5. In addition to regular HBM2, Samsung is also planning HBM2 with ECC, likely for GPGPU and enterprise work. This means not only will consumer GPUs get numerous benefits, but GPUs found in supercomputers and data centers will soon have HBM2 as well, where it is arguably more useful. Samsung is expecting to continue to ramp up production as demand increases over the year.

ADATA Showcase Latest Enterprise, Industrial and Computer Hardware @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Adata have a huge range of products already on the market and it looks like they’ll be keeping that pace up throughout 2016. On display this year, we’ve got their Enterprise Server drives, which come fitted into their new ADATA Flash Array (AFA), a flash media only NAS storage system that can deliver > 1M 4K Random IOPS!

Durability has always been a strong point for ADATA, and their new industrial drive is set to continue that trend.

Much like the new Enterprise Server drive, the Industrial also comes equipped with all the high-end features you would expect from a durable and high-performance drive. The only real thing that changes on most drives these days are capacities go up, price per GB goes down, but that’s a trend I like anyway!

Moving on to their consumer products, we’ve got a great range of braided, and very high-quality overall, USB 3.0 Type-C cables.

Their latest range of power banks, one of the best ranges we’ve seen actually and there seems to be a shape, size and capacity for pretty much everyone here.

ADATA were really proud of their new UE710 ORG UFD drive, and I’m sure many Apple device users will know why. This will be a great device for quickly backing up and transferring files.

The latest durable drive, perfect if you’re storage drive is important, as it’ll survive a lot of water and a fair few drops on the floor without issue.

One of my favourite toys here, the AURA RGB Bulb. Equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, you can dial in any colour or brightness you like from your mobile phone, meaning you can always set the mood just right.

The RC300 is the first dashcam from ADATA, but give their specialty is storage and recording devices, I can’t think of anyone better for the job. The unit is light and compact, but still offers full HD recording.

2TB is certainly impressive, but it’s the “and larger” part we want to see. Another great drive from ADATA here and we can’t wait to try out the rest of their new 3D NAND hardware.

When performance and style are equally important, the new XPG Dazzle memory will deliver on both fronts. Equipped with LED lighting on those aggressive heat spreaders, they’re going to look great in a lot of gaming systems.

There’s a lot of great products on show here today, and we’ve already reached out to ADATA to bring you some in-depth reviews on their latest hardware. Stay tuned for updates over the coming weeks.

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 2400MHz 16GB (2x8GB) Dual Channel Memory Kit Review

Introduction


The overwhelming majority of gaming builds revolve around a red and black colour scheme which makes it relatively difficult for hardware manufacturers to produce other colours in large numbers. Any niche section of the market isn’t prioritized as companies attempt to maximize sales and cater to the mainstream customer. On the other hand, white components have become more popular in recent years and look absolutely stunning. For example, the ASUS Sabertooth Mark S compliments the Avexir Sabranco memory in a beautiful way. Sadly, it’s pretty rare to see memory kits with a white PCB especially on the DDR4 platform.

One of the more affordable DDR4 memory kits comes from Crucial and even implements a gorgeous white PCB! Crucial’s LT branding is slightly confusing as the DIMMs utilize an identical specification to the standard Sport range. The only difference is the revised heatspreader design. This particular memory kit operates at 2400MHz, and requires 1.2V. Additionally, the timings are fairly tight for DDR4 at 16-16-16-39 but this is to be expected compared to higher frequency alternatives.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The memory kit comes in a traditional blister pack and outlines the key specification. I also found it quite easy to remove the modules without applying too much force.

A Closer Look

Here we can see the aesthetically pleasing heatspreaders which adopt a low profile design to enhance compatibility with large air coolers. More specifically, the modules measure 40mm in height and you shouldn’t experience any clearance issues. From a visual standpoint, the white PCB, central Ballistix logo and retro-inspired decal looks phenomenal. Additionally, the edges feature a textured finish which enhances the memory’s unique appearance. I’m also quite fond of the stylish cutouts which are easily visible once the DIMMs have been installed.

Newegg Customers Receiving Incorrect G.Skill DDR4 Memory Frequencies

The advent of DDR4 memory has allowed users to acquire unbelievably fast DIMMs from a wide range of respected manufacturers. G.Skill is renowned for producing memory with huge overclocking potential by sourcing the best quality ICs on the market. As a result, their product range is incredibly popular among professional overclockers wanting to set world records. Additionally, many hardware enthusiasts who enjoy tweaking choose G.Skill modules as a matter of priority. Unfortunately, it appears some customers from US shopping giant, Newegg.com, have received memory kits with an incorrect operating frequency.

For example, professional overclocker, Allen Goilbersuch ordered multiple G.Skill 3600C17 kits and received 3000c15 modules instead! This isn’t an isolated incident according to the comments section on this particular Facebook status. Clearly, the most plausible explanation is there has been a logistical error when packing the items. We’ve reached out to both G.Skill and Newegg.com for comment and will update the article when any information arises. For the time being, it’s important to adopt a patient approach and hold off buying any G.Skill memory from Newegg.com until an investigation has been conducted.

Have you ever received the wrong memory speed or even an incorrect capacity?

Silicon Power Introduces the Complete Lineup of Apple Storage Solutions

Apple devices are highly popular, but they do in most cases come with one flaw and that is the upgradability. Luckily there are ways to increase this for the most part and Silicon Power has now introduced a new complete line of Apple storage devices for all sorts of different devices. With USB flash drives, expansion cards, portable hard drives and external SSD, the SP Apple Series is about to satisfy all kinds of memory expansion needs.

The need for extra storage on apple devices is great, especially considering the markups you pay for the models with more storage and the number one complaint from Apple users is “not enough storage available”.

Among the new products is the SP xDrive Z30 Lightning USB drive that features a dual-interface design with both USB 3.0 and Lightning for easy connection to iOS handsets as well as desktop systems. Not every device has a lightning connector and that is where the second new flash drive comes into play, the SP Mobile C80 dual USB drive that features a USB 3.0 and a Type-C USB connector.

The storage issue isn’t limited to portable iOS devices, Mac computers have the same issue. For this, SP introduced the xDrive Series expansion cards L12 and L13 as well as the rugged external Armor hard disk drives. The xDrivev expansion cards are tailored to fit seamless with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models while the A65M and A85M external hard disks offer a shockproof and waterproof design for users on the go.

The final category is for those who need that extra speed and where every second counts. We’re naturally talking about external SSDs for Mac systems. SP’s Thunder T11 external SSD offers a two-channel Thunderbolt interface with a data transmission of up to 10GB/s throughput in each direction. Sadly that doesn’t result in the blazing fast speeds one could hope for with a rating of just 340MB/s reading and 280MB/s writing, but it should improve the latency and access times over the slower USB 3.0 interface.

G.Skill Announces Largest and Fastest DDR4 Memory Kit

G.Skill has once again increased both the performance and capacity of their impressive DDR4 memory lineup by introducing the new 3200MHz DDR4 kits with a still impressive CL14 rating and 64GB capacity thanks to the use of 16GB modules.

The new DDR4 memory kits are built with selected Samsung ICs to provide these fast and large modules. These flagship DDR4 memory kits with 3200MHz CL14 64GB (4x16GB) provide enthusiasts with the perfect combination of higher capacity and faster frequency. With an incredible CL14-14-14-35 low CAS Latency these memory kits represent the fastest DDR4 64GB memory kits by far.

The new high-performance and high-capacity DDR4 kits from G.Skill will be available in both the TridentZ and Ripjaws V families, allowing you to pick the heatsink design that will fit your overall system build the best. You don’t have to wait long for these new modules either as they should be available at global authorized distribution partners before Christmas.

What are your criteria when you select memory modules? Does the colour and heatsink design matter to you or is it purely the specifications that count? Do you buy budget or go all out to get the best of the best available on the market? Let us know in the comments. Also, do you have any preferred memory manufacturer or do you decide on a need-to basis?

G.Skill TridentZ 3200MHz DDR4 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


G.Skill is one of the most respected memory vendors in the technology industry and synonymous for selecting premium ICs to set world records. For example, back in August, Chi-Kui Lam overclocked G.Skill’s Ripjaws 4 memory made from Samsung ICs to attain an astonishing world record of 4795.8MHz. Additionally, the data from HWBOT in August shows 7 Skylake world records were set on Ripjaws 4 memory kits. This exemplifies the overclocking potential of G.Skill modules and strict binning process. In most scenarios, consumers simply enable Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile and avoid manual overclocks to maximize compatibility. Additionally, in gaming tasks, the difference between 2400MHz and higher frequencies is minimal. Nevertheless, if the price difference between 2400MHz and 3000MHz+ is small, there’s no reason not to pay the extra for higher bandwidth modules out of the box.

The G.Skill TridentZ series is available in a number of configurations from 2800MHz all the way up to 4000MHz. As you can see, this is an extraordinarily high specification and designed for consumers wanting the ultimate in memory speeds. Today, we’re taking a look at the 3200MHz kit which utilizes 1.35v, and 16-18-18 timings. It’s quite important to note that G.Skill have conducted thorough testing on Intel’s Z170 platform to check compatibility and stability with XMP. Unfortunately, our testing procedure revolves around X99, and every other DDR4 memory review has been conducted via the professional platform. Theoretically, we could have reviewed this particular memory kit on a Z170 motherboard but there wouldn’t be any fair comparison to previous reviews and too many variables. This is why the X99 test bench is still being used for DDR4 reviews.

Despite this lengthy clarification, I expect the TridentZ kit to perform superbly given G.Skill’s heritage and commitment to providing the fastest memory on the planet!

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The memory kit comes in a visually appealing box which creates a sense of luxury and outlines the product’s magnificent aesthetic design.

On the opposite side, there is a brief synopsis about the TridentZ series and G.Skill’s lifetime support service.

A Closer Look

Here we can see the gorgeous memory in all its glory and I honestly believe this is some of the best-looking RAM I’ve ever seen. The metallic silver finish, and dynamic edges contrast in a beautiful manner. Furthermore, the G.Skill and TridentZ logos are positioned perfectly and it enhances the aesthetic design without being too overbearing. Additionally, the red strip on the top looks fantastic and really stands out compared to the silver heat spreader and white lettering. On another note, the black PCB accentuates the memory’s sharp, sophisticated tone.

Even more astounding, G.Skill utilized a dark brushed metallic finish on the reverse side to proficiently suit red and black gaming motherboards. From this angle, it’s evidently clear how much time has been taken designing the memory which makes each module look very expensive.

Crucial DDR4 2400MT/s 8Gb-based Server Memory Now Available

Crucial is ready with the next step in their server memory and announced the availability of the Crucial DDR4 2400MT/s 8Gb-based RDIMM, LRDIMM and ECC UDIMM server modules which enable increased performance, bandwidth, and energy efficiency.

The higher density 8Gb-based modules allow for both a greater channel bandwidth and channel density, but the most important factor is probably the lowered power consumption. Memory can be quite power hungry and will make up quite a bit of the overall consumed power in a server environment due to the constant rewrites happening. The new 8Gb-based modules offer up to 20 percent higher energy efficiency than the 4Gb-based modules and that is something that will make a noticeable difference.

Ultimately, these benefits provide more value per gigabit than current 4Gb-based offerings, making it easy to scale
up server deployments in the future and the modules are designed to be compatible with Intel’s next generation processor product families.

Crucial’s 8Gb-based server memory is extensively tested to mission-critical standards and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. The new 8Gb-based modules are available for immediate purchase through global partners and directly through Crucial.

“We are excited to continue Intel’s collaboration with Crucial with the release of the new 8Gb-based DDR4 server modules,” said Geof Findle, director of memory enabling, Intel. “By working together, we are able to support next-generation server platforms while providing the technology and services needed to support our mutual channel customers.”

“Data-intensive server applications continue to require higher densities of memory as they struggle to meet ever-increasing and more demanding workloads,” said Michael Moreland, worldwide product marketing manager, Crucial. “The new Crucial 8Gb-based server memory modules will help with future scalability and deliver a lower total cost of ownership for users.”

PNY AnarchyX 2800MHz DDR4 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Prior to the release of Intel’s Z170 platform, DDR4 memory prices remained extremely high compared to DDR3 equivalents and required the use of other expensive components designed primarily for professionals. Thankfully, DDR4 prices have plummeted and usually cost the same as DDR3 capacities or slightly less in some cases. So why consider DDR4? Firstly, the latest standard in computer memory operates using lower voltages and capable of reaching frequencies in excess of 3200MHz. Granted, this doesn’t make a difference in most gaming tasks, but it’s useful for rendering, video editing and other workloads. Additionally, the price variation between 2400MHz and 3000MHz is still relatively small and well worth your consideration.

For the mainstream market, most consumers buy memory kits on the basis of aesthetics. One particular example which looks absolutely fantastic is the PNY AnarchyX series and comes in a variety of speeds from 2400MHz up to 2800MHz. Today, we’ve decided to take a look at their highest frequency model and compare it to other premium kits. From a technical standpoint, the sample we received operates at 1.2V, and CAS16 which makes it an excellent choice. Given the memory’s impressive visual design, and specification, I expect it to perform rather well during our rigorous benchmarking procedure.

Specifications


Packaging and Accessories

Unlike many RAM kits, the PNY AnarchyX doesn’t come in a relatively plain blister pack. The box contains an attractive render of the memory modules and outlines the key specifications. On another note, each module is sealed in an anti-static bag to eliminate any chance of electrical surges from occurring. This is a great addition which adds a premium feel.

The rear section is fairly plain and provides a more detailed look at the kit’s specifications. There’s also a number of images to inform the user of PNY’s entire product range.

A Closer Look

PNY have done a splendid job designing the heat spreaders which look unique without being too ostentatious. More specifically, the subtle PNY logo contrasts superbly with the domineering AnarchyX branding and makes for a wonderful finish. On another note, the vibrant edges and understated crossed pattern enhances the overall aesthetic design. I’m also really fond of the central red accent which adds a hint of colour to the modules. Once combined with the black PCB, this results in one of the best DDR4 visual designs I’ve seen to date!

Patriot Introduces Four New 128GB USB 3.1 Flash Drives

Patriot Memory introduces four new USB flash drives with a large 128GB capacity yet packed in a compact form factor. The new USB flash drives use a USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface but are fully backwards compatible with previous USB standards. The drives are small and large, but they don’t feature the best overall performance. But one can’t expect wonders from such small drives with such large capacity. The drives are rated for speeds up to 110MB/s reading and 20MB/writing.

Pictured above is the Patriot Vex and it is the first of the four new drives. The Vex is perfect for the consumer looking for a pop of color, but minimalist design. The 128GB Vex will be available in a bright green coupled with a black plastic top for better grip while inserting and ejecting.

The Patriot Tab flash drive is probably the simplest it can get and speaks to those looking for a truly minimalistic design. It has a small eyelet at the top for attachment to a key ring or similar and at the same time it aids when ejecting the drive.

The Spart features a metal uni-body design that makes it seamlessly disappear into any device. A perfect grab-and-go drive, allowing the user to take their files wherever they please.

The last of the four new drives that got a capacity boost is the Supersonic mini. The compact, rubberized, and rugged, flash drive is built to withstand a beating and comes in a sleek opaque black finish.

The Tab, Spark Vex and Supersonic mini will be available for purchase worldwide on December 14th at a starting MSRP of $49.99 USD.

Apacer Unveils Panther Series DDR4 Memory

Since the release of Intel’s Skylake architecture, the price of DDR4 memory has come down at an exponential rate. Additionally, manufacturers are creating more lavish aesthetic designs to suit the gaming market. Typically, consumers chose memory based on a colour scheme as gaming tasks increased frequency has a minimal effect. Unfortunately, most companies appear to fixate on the standard red and black theme and it can be difficult to acquire DDR4 modules which suit yellow motherboards like the ASRock Formula series. Thankfully, Apacer has launched the Panther memory kits to provide a visually unique design which fits perfectly with motherboards sporting yellow or gold accents. In terms of its technical specifications, the memory comes in 2133MHz, 2400MHz and 2666MHz configurations with tight 15-15-15-36 and 16-16-16-36 timings. Furthermore, the DIMMs support XMP 2.0 and utilize 1.2 volts. This guarantees stability at low voltages and doesn’t require a boost to 1.35v.

While it’s not the fastest memory on the market, as many DDR4 kits reach speeds in excess of 3000MHZ, it’s still extremely fast and I love the colour scheme. Additionally, the black PCB adds to the overall look and makes for a superb finish. Hopefully, we should be bringing a review of this particular memory kit very soon.

ASRock Introduces Memory Overclocking for Non-Z Skylake Motherboards

ASRock motherboards usually feature a twist of some sort, setting them apart from the rest. They had the overclocking feature for CPUs on the H87 and B85 non-Z motherboards and recently they added the memory overclocking easter egg to their Z170 Skylake motherboards that allow automatic overclocking of select memory modules. Now they are going one step further and have cracked the RAM overclocking limitations on the non-Z Skylake boards B150, H170, and H110.

The ASRock DDR4 OC feature appears in the UEFI BIOS when the user has installed certain memory modules such as those from Kingston or Samsung. This otherwise hidden feature allows you to overclock the memory frequency from 2133MHz to a max of 2800MHz – providing a 30% boost in clock speed. Intel normally doesn’t feature memory overclocking on anything but the top Z-line motherboards, but ASRock cracked this limitation and the feature is now also available on select ASRock H170, B150, and H110 motherboards. Test show that DDR4 Non-Z overclocking can deliver a 5% memory performance boost measure with SiSoftware Sandra memory benchmark on an ASRock B150 chipset motherboard.

So with a hidden feature like this, how would you know when it is enabled or not. Well, the BIOS boot screen will not show a plain white ASRock icon anymore but instead one that has a coloured light effect added, making it easy to recognize.

Non-Z OC support:

  • H170 Motherboards: H170M Pro4, H170M Pro4S, H170 Combo, H170A-X1/3.1, H170A-X1
  • B150M Motherboards: B150M Pro4S, B150 Combo, B150M Combo-G, B150A-X1, B150M-HDS, B150M-HDV
  • H110 Motherboards: H110M-HDV, H110M-HDS, H110M-I, H110M-DGS