FreshTech Solutions Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

FreshTech Solutions is one of the leading system integrators in the UK and forged an impressive reputation for their huge range of pre-configured PCs. Whether you’re on a tight budget looking to try out PC gaming for the first time, or a content creator seeking the absolute best performance, there’s something to suit your requirements. Each PC is backed by generous warranty period and it’s even possible to purchase additional cover for further peace-of-mind. For example, on systems costing £1000 and above, you can increase the warranty length from 3 years to 5 years for £25. If you’re opting for a cheaper rig under the £1000 mark, then it’s possible to select three years cover for £25 and five years support at a cost of £50. This level of flexibility allows you to protect your investment for a period which you expect to use the system for.

When selecting a custom PC, the number of configurations and pricing variation means it’s extraordinarily difficult for novices to judge which model to go for. It’s not always a sensible approach to spend more if you’re unlikely to reap the benefits. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of custom PCs from FreshTech Solutions that we are happy to recommend at various price points. Hopefully, our readers will find this useful and those without technical knowledge can make an informed decision about which unit suits their usage scenario.


£529.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6400
  • 8gb Crucial DDR4 2133MHz
  • 120gb Kingston V300 SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • Nvidia GTX 950 2GB
  • Gigabyte H110M-S2H
  • Falcon Blue Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour)

The first machine we’re taking a look at targets consumers on a very tight budget who want to enter into the Intel ecosystem. While you could compile a cheaper build using an AMD CPU and AM3+ motherboard, it doesn’t offer much headroom in the future if you suddenly demand additional horsepower. The majority of games are GPU bound but there’s some examples including ARMA III and more recently, Black Desert Online which rely heavily on a system’s CPU performance. This particular build features a large enough capacity boot SSD to install the operating system and enjoy a snappier feel in Windows.

Also, the GTX 950 2GB graphics card is a great choice for 1080P gaming providing you turn down a few settings. On another note, the lack of overclocking isn’t an issue at this price and won’t impact on the user experience during graphically intensive games. Ideally, I’d recommend paying extra for the next tier, but this is a great choice for beginners moving away from consoles for the very first time.


£699.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • EVGA 500w 80Plus White PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 960 2GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Blue Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next system which retails for £699.00 offers overclocking functionality due to the unlocked K processor and Z170 chipset. Furthermore, the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 contains an illuminated LED strip on the PCB to create a more ostentatious appearance. This higher end model includes the GTX 960 2GB GPU to maintain improved frame-rates at higher settings. It’s a significant boost over the GTX 950 and worth considering given the constant influx of modern titles requiring additional graphical grunt. Of course, it’ s still a budget option and pales in comparison to higher end graphics cards, but it should provide an enjoyable user-experience with a 1920×1080 display. Also, the boot SSD’s higher capacity allows you to store your favourites games and benefit from faster load times.


£899.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • WD 1TB WD10EZEX HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair CX600 80Plus Bronze PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Titan Red Case with Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 1 Year Parts, 1 Year Labour )

The next tier’s system costs £899.99 and has a number of key improvements including a secondary mechanical hard disk, 16GB RAM and GTX 970 graphics card. When discussing the previous systems it’s important to remember that I’d recommend adding a mechanical drive to store large sums of data. This allows you to easily install various games while ensuring the boot SSD doesn’t fill up rather quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t increase the asking price by an exponential amount. On another note, the 16GB memory is useful when working with video, photo editing and other complex workloads. It’s not really necessary in games just yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if 16GB becomes the standard in the next few years.

NVIDIA’s GTX 970 offers absolutely stunning performance even with a 2560×1440 monitor and can exceed 60 frames-per-second in various titles including the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. It’s unquestionably one of the best price to performance GPUs on the market and a suitable choice for a powerful gaming system.


£1049.00

 

Specification:

  • Skylake i5 6600K Tested Overclock to 4.6GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD
  • Seagate 1TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Falcon Gaming Case With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Moving towards the higher end market is a system which retails for £1049.00. This model contains a higher wattage power supply and Corsair water cooling unit to attain better temperatures. Furthermore, FreshTech Solutions guarantees the system will reach 4.6GHz and tests each overclock extremely carefully. This will be incredibly useful to consumers who feel apprehensive about overclocking their CPU and haven’t got any experience in this field. They really shouldn’t be concerned because the process is ridiculous simple. However, whenever anything goes awry, it’s important to have an excellent level of after-care support.


£1599.00

Specification:

  • Skylake i7 6700K Tested Overclock to 4.5GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz
  • Samsung EVO 500GB SSD
  • Seagate 2TB HDD
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

The £1599.00 system swaps out the i5 6600K for Intel’s enthusiast flagship i7-6700K on the LGA1151 chipset. Once again, FreshTech Solutions guarantees an impressive minimum overclock to reach significant gains compared to stock values. Also, the 500GB SSD is a great addition which allows you to install various applications without constantly checking on the remaining capacity. The system is housed in the highly regard Fractal Design R5 chassis which creates a more premium feel. Clearly, the main improvement revolves around the GTX 980Ti and is a major step up when compared to the GTX 970.

Even though the GPU isn’t capable of running games at maximum details on a 4K display, it’s able to really reach high figures on a 2560×1440 or 3440×1440 monitor. If you want to improve the performance even further, it’s possible to add a second GTX 980Ti due to the power supply’s 750 watts rating. The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 motherboard supports USB 3.1, SATA Express, multi-GPU configurations and opts for a superb audio solution. Once combined, this offers an absolutely staggering user-experience.


£1938.00

Specification:

  • Intel Core i7 5930K 3.50GHz
  • Corsair H80I V2 Water Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz
  • 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Seagate 2TB Hard Drive
  • 24x DVDRW
  • Corsair RM750x 80Plus Gold PSU
  • NVIDIA GTX 980TI 6GB
  • Gigabyte X99-SLI
  • Fractal Design R5 With Side Window
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit
  • 3 Year Collect and Return Warranty ( 1 Year Collect, 2 Years Parts, 3 Years Labour )

Up to this point, we’ve focussed on the consumer LGA1151 chipset which offers great value for typical desktop tasks. Unfortunately, the platform only supports up to a 4-core 8-thread CPU. This severely limits the computational power during multi-threaded workloads. As a result, many professionals opt for 2011-v3 powered systems because they can leverage extra performance using 6-core or even 8-core processors. The next system totalling £1938.00 utilises a hex core processor with 40 PCI-E lanes and a 2TB hard disk.

Not only that, the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe boot drive is capable of an astounding maximum read of 2500MB/s and maximum write reaching 1500MB/s. This allows games to load faster and helps to process huge 4K video projects in a more efficient manner. Of course, this elite-grade PC opts for the best possible hardware including the GTX 980Ti and Gigabyte X99-SLI motherboard. This means you can have a powerful workstation and play demanding games in your leisure time.

If you’d like us to review any of the systems mentioned above, please let us know in the comments section below.

VR Gaming: Building Your Own Oculus Rig

Introduction


I’ve had my Oculus Rift VR Headset, more specifically the DK2, for several months now, but one question keeps coming back time and time again, what kind of system do you need to run VR software? It’s a very tricky question to ask and one that’s typically a little more complicated than putting together a normal gaming rig, but let’s see if I can help.

The first thing that you need to be aware of is the absolute minimum recommended specifications from Oculus Rift for the DK2 headset. While these are easily attainable, keep in mind they’re for the minimum level of performance on basic applications and are likely to be worthless in a few months time, as I’m guessing DK3 will be upon us in mid 2015.

Q: What are the minimum requirements and recommended specifications for the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2?

A: Minimum requirements: A computer running a Windows 7 or Windows 8, Mac OS 10.8 or higher, or Ubuntu 12.04 LTS operating system, 2 USB ports (at least one powered), and a DVI-D or HDMI graphics output.

Recommended specifications: A desktop computer running a dedicated graphics card with DVI-D or HDMI graphics output, with capability of running current generation 3D games at 1080p resolution at 75fps or higher.

Typically you’ll find that most of you are running Windows 7 or above, Mac OS 10.8 or a recent Linux distro, if you’re OS is not up to speed, then that’s the first thing you need to update. I’m running a fully updated Windows 7 Pro, so that’s that part covered.

The next issue will be graphics card/s, these need to have a DVI-D or HDMI display output, preferably both or one of each, a single output will cause you a world of problems that I’ll get to later. Since you’re likely looking at gaming via the Oculus Rift, you’re going to have to tackle on of the most important issues with 3D gaming and VR; graphics processing power. You need a fast card to enjoy many of the latest VR games and you can easily benchmark the performance of your current hardware to see how it may hold up. I recommend you download something like Unigine Heaven, if you can get that running at medium to high settings with a frame rate around or above 100fps, you’re going to be just fine and if you can hit 150fps with these settings, you’re on easy street. While Oculus Rift only needs a steady 75FPS for optimal performance, this is rendered in 3D and is reflective of rendering everything twice; hence the 100fps+ 2D benchmark.

I scored 168fps and I could see the average was well above 100fps while running the benchmark. How does your rig compare?

What if your system cannot meet that level of graphics performance? Plain and simple, you’re going to have to upgrade your rig, or only use DK2 demos that have less demanding requirements, which doesn’t leave you with a lot of options. I was running the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti prior to getting Oculus Rift, which would have skimmed by on a minimum level with graphics turned right down, but I decided to go one, no wait, two better than that; I bought a pair of Sapphire R9 280X Tri-X Vapor-X 3GB graphics cards.

Check Out This Awesome Oculus Rift DK2 Racing Setup

I’m still eagerly awaiting delivery of my Oculus Rift DK2, and while I can’t wait to test the limits of the hardware, there are some gamers and developers out there with a bigger bank balance than myself, who can afford even more gadgets and hardware to play around with.

Equipped with a high-end racing wheel, dash switches and H-shift gear changer, four large LG monitors which the user likely owned before they had an Oculus Rift, a copy of Live For Speed and most importantly a hydraulic racing simulator seat… this guy takes his virtual racing pretty seriously, I’m actually certain it would be cheaper to buy a cheeky track day car and get out on a real race track on the weekend, but who the hell cares, this is an awesome setup!

Check out the video below and let us know what you think. IF this doesn’t get you excited for Oculus Rift then nothing well, although a moderate size lottery win may be required to enjoy it on the same level as this guy.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/OvIItXJC35w[/youtube]

Thank you TheFaro06 for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TheFaro06.

 

SilentPower PC Comes With New Cooling Solution, a Copper Foam Layer

The new Silent Power PC seems to be coming with a revolutionary cooling solution, distancing itself from the traditional heatpipe and heatsink coolers. The PC is said to come with a copper foam, which helps cool the system, making it one of the best silent cooling solutions available in a rig.

The foam is said to be placed on top of the chassis and transfers heat from internal components with the help of its “micro-circulation” feature. The cooling solution works by having the air present inside it heat up to extreme temperatures, which in turn makes the foam expand and move to the extremities. This is said to create an effective air circulation inside the case, without having any fans present in it.

There are three system variations currently available as a crowdfunding pre-order option, having the target funding for the project set at €45,000. Once the targeted fund has been raised, the systems are said to enter in the production phase.

The systems differ in RAM and hard drive capacity, having them with either 8 or 16 GB of ram or with a 500/1000 GB solid state drive. Other than the latter variations, all systems are said to boast an Intel Quad-Core i7-4785T clocked at 2.2 GHz and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 graphics card.

An interesting feature present in the system’s configuration is a movement sensor that can power it automatically when you sit at your desk. Other than that, the base model is said to be priced at €699 / $930 coming with 8GB RAM and 500GB SSD. Other higher-end versions are said to be priced at €769 / $1,030 and €1,159 / $1,550, coming with more RAM and/or disk space.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechSpot

Cryorig Unviels Their Massive H5 Universal Tower Heatsink

Cryorig has unveiled its latest cooling solution, the H5 Universal tower heatsink, boasting the Hive Fin design that allows for turbulence reduction of airflow, as well as the Jet Fin Acceleration used for faster hot air exhaust.

The manufacturer states that the H5, which is similar to the high-class R1 Universal, will be equipped with Cryorig’s XT140 slim profile fan for zero ram interference on Intel and AMD platforms and fits perfectly in the mainstream range of cooling solutions.

The H5 Universal tower heatsink uses the XL Surface Area, having its surface area extended to the back, achieving the best cooling ration compared to other dual-tower coolers and heatsinks. Also, with a height of just 160 mm, it is stated that the cooling solution will fit perfectly into almost any mainstream PC chassis rig.

Four pure copper heatpipes having 6 mm in diameter form the heatsink, while the nickel-plated baseplate consists out of pure solid copper and uses the Heatpipe Convex-Align technology which focus the heatpipes on the center of the CPU.

Cryorig is said to be introducing the industry’s first step-by-step video guide, helping users easily install their cooling solution correctly and effortlessly. The animated guide is said to be separated into individual steps for easy viewing and access, allowing users to watch and repeat each step as required. The guide is said to also be available for mobile devices through Cryorig’s website.

The H5 Universal tower heatsink is said to be released in August in Asia and September in North America and Europe, having Cryorig stating a €34,00 / $46,99 recommended price tag for the cooling solution.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Guru3D