G.Skill Ripjaws 4 2666MHz 16GB DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, the most vital part of any computer that gets overlooked the most. There’s not a lot to say about RAM apart from its expensive and very confusing. DDR4, the newest iteration of RAM is currently the fastest version of the consumer RAM, with speeds exceeding 3333MHz. RAM kits now come in a variety of shapes with the basic bare modules, right up to the simply stunning Ripjaws series.

Today we will be looking at the G.Skill Ripjaws 4 2666MHz 16GB memory kit. This is one of the more conservative memory kits that G.Skill produce with a rather tame 2666MHz clock speed, but this does let the manufacturing team set an impressive 15-15-15-35 timing. G.Skill are renowned the world over with how well their memory kits perform and most of the world’s memory overclocking records are set with G.Skill memory.

“G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 series performance DDR4 memory is designed for the ultimate experience on the latest Intel X99 platform! Whether you are processing large amounts of data or intense gaming, experience smooth system performance with the newest next-generation PC memory technology! All Ripjaws 4 memory kits are tested with G.SKILL’s extensive suite of testing software to ensure maximum performance and stability. Make Ripjaws 4 the ideal choice for your DDR4 system!”

That’s enough talking, let’s jump into testing.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple. Four modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The design of the Ripjaws series is very unique and very recognisable to most enthusiasts. I think the design could be taken to the next level if the ‘Ripjaws 4’ logo was laser etched on or cut out instead of a sticker.

ASUS TUF X99 Sabertooth (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the chipset that has brought workstation power to the consumer level, has been around with us for a few months now. In this time, motherboard manufacturers have had time to tweak and release their top of the line motherboards with the best features and settings. A little out of the gates with the trademark TUF SABERTOOTH motherboard is ASUS.

That’s right, we have received our sample of the legendary TUF (The Ultimate Force) series motherboard, based on the X99 chipset. This particular model series allows ASUS to cram as much military grade inspired technology as possible into one motherboard. Covered from top to bottom in a checkered plate style cover and using only the finest capacitors in the world.

ASUS cherry pick and test all of the components to server specifications, giving them the confidence to grace this motherboard with a 5 Year warranty period. The attention to detail on the TUF series allows the users to take full control of the system in terms of cooling, allowing you to control 9 adjustable fan headers in tandem with 12 real-time temperature sensors to really choose the best fan placement. Along with the ultra durability and cooling features presented by the TUF range, ASUS along include the brand new USB 3.1 format, capable of 10Gp/s transfers.

Let’s take a look if all these features really make an ounce of difference.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no exception and has crammed a huge array of features into this motherboard.

  • USB 3.1 Boost
  • USB BIOS Flashback
  • USB Charger+
  • Remote Go!
  • ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ mode
  • Turbo LAN
  • Push Notice
  • AI-Suite 3
    • Q-connector
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM
    • OC Profile
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • ASUS EZ-Update
    • Disk Unlocker
    • EZ Flash 2

Now because this is one of ASUS’ trump cards, they’ve crammed in a little more ‘TUF’ features:

  • Ultimate Cool
    • Thermal Armour
    • Thermal Radar 2 with Thermistors
    • ICe
  • We Got Your Back
    • Fortifier
  • TUF Engine
    • 8+2 Phase Power
    • TUF  Components (10K capacitors, Chose & MOSFET)
    • DIGI+ Power Control
  • SAFE & Stable
    • TUF Detective
    • TUF ESD Guards 2
    • Dust Defenders
    • MemOK!

For more information on these functions, please visit the ASUS TUF X99 SABERTOOH product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box is feature covered, yet simple; very plain and neutral colour scheme. It’s a shame really, I was expecting a metal briefcase similar to the AMD R9 295×2, that would really drive home the “TUF” standard.

Inside the box is a huge amount of accessories; consisting of manuals, driver disk, 6x SATA cables, 1x SLi bridge connector, 1x Q-shield (backplate), 1x Q-Connector kit (easy front panel header connector), 1x 40mm fan, 4x DRAM slot dust covers,  assortment of PCi-e dust covers, 3x thermistor cables, assortment of addition I/O and internal header dust covers.

Silverstone SUGO SST-SG11 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Silverstone are the masters of small form factor chassis designs, we’ve seen time and time again that they can deliver competitively priced products that meet consumer demands and in many cases, exceed them. Their SUGO series is one of their most popular series and as we’ve seen in previous reviews, it’s not hard to understand why. They often pack lots of high-end hardware, with little or no compromise, into a tiny form factor that makes them suitable for a wide range of applications. Naturally, I’m hoping and more so expecting a repeat of their past successes with the SUGO SST-SG11 which we are reviewing today.

The SG11 is one of the slightly larger chassis in the small form factor category, but it still carries that classic shoe-box style shape and its slightly larger size is for good reason; the SG11 is capable of housing a micro-ATX motherboard, as well as a full ATX PSU and plenty of other hardware. As you can see below, the long shape of the chassis provides us with space for lots of ventilation down the side; perfect for any long graphics cards. The SG11 will support cards as long as 368mm; very impressive for something of this size.

The right side features even more ventilation, the front most section for a pre-installed 120mm fan that will keep your hard drives cool and provide some air intake for the rest of your components, which the ventilation next to that is passive and will allow airflow to your motherboard and CPU components.

The front panel is really nicely finished. A pair of mirror finish strips give it a nice premium look and also give you a lovely look at the purple carpet I have in my office. This design is nice, as it’ll look great in the office, but also as part of your AV setup if you’re planning a HTPC-style build.

Tucked away at the top of the front panel, a rubber cover protects/hides the dual USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks. This is nice as it keeps the front looking smart when you’re not using them, but also helps keep dust and debris from gathering in the ports.

Around the back, you can see even more ventilation, there no doubt that you’ll have little issue getting air in and out of this chassis! There’s an ATX power supply mount with the motherboard mount directly below it. On the right, you’ll find four expansion slots, perfect for those wanting a dual-GPU setup and a Micro-ATX motherboard.

On the top of the chassis, you will find two more vents, behind which you can see mounts for two optional 80mm fans that would be situated directly above your expansion cards; this could be perfect for keeping your graphics cards cool.

There’s very little to see on the base, but what is nice is that the four feet have been treated with a rubber ring, which will help keep the chassis from sliding around on your chosen surface.

Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 2666MHz 32GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


When you’re building a tower, memory normally gets the last thought; you budget for all of the other key parts and then you find yourself having to readjust when you remember that you didn’t add any memory to your basket. With consumer memory kits roughly starting off where DDR3 left off, the speeds are blisteringly fast; some exceeding 3333MHz.

Kingston is one of the most well-known memory manufacturers, with many years in the business; it knows its way around a memory module. Kingston produced some of the finest RAM I’ve ever owned in my personal computers; reliable speeds with great overclocking headroom. Today we look at the HyperX Fury DDR4 memory kit.

“HyperX® FURY DDR4 can handle even the toughest battle. It automatically recognises its host platform and overclocks to the highest frequency published (up to 2666MHz1) — so you can wreak havoc. FURY DDR4 runs at 1.2V, even at 2666MHz, so it stays cooler while you play. You don’t need to alter the voltage to reach higher speeds, which means there’s more power for other hardware in the system. FURY’s sleek, asymmetrical black heat spreader provides enhanced thermal dissipation to help keep your cool and help you stand out from the crowd.”

Let’s jump straight into it and see what the kit can really do.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Packing is very similar to the rest of what Kingston offers its memory kits in. Two halves, one black with ridges for the modules and one clear to see the modules. Well, you could see them if there wasn’t so many information stickers in the way.

A Closer Look

A very premium looking memory kit. Pressed metal casing with raised and diamond etched ‘HyperX’ logo. This is just two of the four modules.

Fractal Design Core 2300 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Fractal Design is well-known for their high-end chassis products. They’ve won many awards for their clean designs, exceptional build quality, water cooling support and much more, which has made them a popular choice with the enthusiast system building crowd. However, that’s not all Fractal Design do and as many of you are no doubt well aware, not everyone has the kind of money required for an enthusiast-grade build, sometimes we just want an affordable product that ticks the right boxes for our build.

Key features

  • A compact full-ATX case with bottom-mounted PSU, designed for exceptional airflow and cooling
  • Brushed aluminum-look front panel with a sleek, three-dimensional textured finish
  • Superior water cooling support for its size, supporting one 240/280mm radiator in the front and a 240mm radiator in the top
  • Featuring a 120mm rear exhaust fan for great cooling
  • Total 7 fan slots with two 120mm fans included
  • Extruded motherboard plate allowing space for additional cable routing; 18.5mm around the motherboard and 13.5mm directly behind it
  • Supports tall CPU cooler towers, up to 162mm in height
  • Multiple easy-to-clean dust filters designed into the case to help maintain a dust free interior
  • Innovative vertical HDD bracket, which simultaneously holds three 3.5″ drives and three 2.5″ drives
  • One additional SSD position behind the PSU area with easy installation and access

The Core 2300 chassis that I’m looking at today is from Fractal Designs more budget focused range, but keep in mind, cheap prices don’t always translate to a cheap product, not forgetting that Fractal Design has a reputation to uphold, so let’s get stuck in and take a close look at what it has to offer.

The chassis is certainly nothing fancy at first look, but it’s not exactly ugly either, it’s just a fairly straight forward looking black chassis. The left side panel is flat and is held in place by two thumb screws at the back, plus there’s a 120mm fan mount on the panel for extra airflow should you need it.

Again, another flat panel on the right side, which is also held in place by two thumb screws.

The front panel is fairly straight forward too, with a neat and tidy design. There’s two pop-out 5.25″ drive bay covers, should you need them, as well as two strips of ventilation, one down each side.

Around the back, you’ll find a 120mm fan pre-installed at the top, seven expansion slots and the PSU mount. Again, nothing fancy, but ticking all the right boxes for the kind of things you’ll need.

In the top of the 2300, there’s two more fan mounts, which support 120/140mm fans or up to 240/280mm radiators.

The front panel has all the basics covered, with a single USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port, HD audio jacks, power, reset and a HDD LED.

On the underside, there’s a clip in mesh filter that covers both the PSU air intake, as well as an optional bottom fan mount. There’s four hard rubber feet to provide good ground clearance and they’ll also help hold the chassis in place on harder surfaces.

Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV Micro-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


Today is a pretty cool day at eTeknix HQ, as I get to take a look at my very first Phanteks chassis! The new Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV looks set to be another welcome addition to the enthusiast gaming chassis market, perfect for those who love to show off their build. Phanteks already have a great reputation thanks to their extreme performance air coolers, which are still proving popular amongst system builders, so I’m certainly eager to see what this chassis has to offer.

First up, the EVOLV came with a large box of accessories.

In the box, I found cable ties, velcro ties, three LED lights (red, green and white), a toolbox full of screw fittings, a user manual and two drive tray adapters; pretty much everything you’ll need and more!

First impression of the EVOLV are very positive, this is a great looking chassis and it’s certainly unique in terms of its shape. It’s a little shorter from front to back that most towers of this size, we’ll take a look at why in a moment. The model we have today has a large side panel window and a brilliant white paint job, great for showing off your build. It’s also worth mentioning that this chassis is surprisingly heavy, the panels are thick steel and I wouldn’t want to lug this around to LAN gaming events anytime soon!

The right side panel has all the important stuff you’re likely to need.

There’s a small power and reset button near the top.

As well as a pair of HD audio jacks and dual USB 3.0 ports near the bottom.

The front panel is really nicely designed, with a rather strange yet cool looking metal front panel, which has some gaps around it for airflow to any front-mounted cooling. There’s a small LED strip near the bottom, which can be customised thanks to the extra LED lights that are included in the box.

Around the back, you can see that this is a Micro-ATX compatible chassis, so there are only four expansion slots, but each one is fitted with a reusable, ventilated metal cover. There’s a 140mm fan pre-installed, but there’s also fittings for a 120mm should you feel the need.

The top panel has a nice and clean look to it, lots of space on top for you to leave you wallet, glasses, phone and other stuff; not that you should, but a lot of people do. There are four ventilation holes down the left side of the top panel and four more on the right side, perfect for getting airflow to/from any top mounted cooling.

Two full-width feet provide a strong and stable base for the chassis, as well as freeing up a good amount of space for airflow to the PSU air filter.

ECS Z97I-Drone LEET Gaming (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform has been around with us for almost a year now, so the marketplace is slightly saturated with motherboards from a huge array of manufacturers. Offering full support for the Haswell Refresh CPU’s, it has really brought new performance levels to the consumer market. While still producing the Z97 platform, Intel are soon to release the newest CPU lineup, named Skylake; with that introducing the new LGA 1151 socket motherboards. Focus has moved from the typical motherboard form factor, ATX and microATX to the ITX size. Tthis motherboard crams in most of the features of it’s bigger brothers, while being a tiny 17cm x 17cm size.

Today we have the Elitegroup (ECS) Z97I-Drone (GANK), under the LEET Gaming sub-division. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let me explain with a picture.

In this iteration, ECS aim to bring top performance and gaming to the ITX market. In this review, things are going to be a little different; let’s do an ITX showdown with the four ITX motherboards that we’ve had in so far.; the ASUS Z97I-PLUS, Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming-5 and the AsRock Z97E-ITX/ac.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Elitegroup offer a small amount of custom software with this motherboard which is highly functional.

  • eBLU BIOS Live Update
  • eDLU Drivers Live Update
  • eOC Easy Overclock

For more information on these functions, please visit the ECS Z97I-Drone product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box comes in two parts, the outer protective cover with all of the information on; then a plain, further protection box where you find the motherboard and accessories.

In the box we find 2x SATA cables, I/O shield and a range of manuals and how-to guides.

Biostar Gaming Z97X (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform has been around with us for almost a year now, so the marketplace is slightly saturated with motherboards from a huge array of manufacturers. Offering full support for the Haswell Refresh CPU’s, it has really brought new performance levels to the consumer market. While still producing the Z97 platform, Intel are soon to release the newest CPU lineup, named Skylake; with that introducing the new LGA 1151 socket motherboards. Today we are going to be looking at a motherboard from Biostar, but first a little history lesson. Did you know Biostar has been around in the computer tech sector for as long as Gigabyte? That’s right, 29 years old and I bet some of you didn’t even know they existed. They’ve primarily stuck to OEM motherboards, which get bundled up into pre-built computers for high street retailers. Biostar has a rich history, being the first company to introduce Wi-fi on a motherboard back in 2003, the first manufacturer to offer an AM2 socket motherboard in 2007 and the first to offer a motherboard with USB 3.1 ports; today we will be looking at the board.

The motherboard in question is Biostar’s gaming motherboard, the Gaming Z97X. With more features than you could shake a stick at, it has more than enough wealth of knowledge built into it and with USB 3.1 as standard; it shouldn’t be a slouch either.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Biostar is no different and bring a nice array of software

  • CPU / System Temperature Monitoring
  • CPU / System Fan Monitoring
  • Smart / Manual CPU / System Fan Control
  • System Voltage Monitoring
  • Smart Ear headphone Utility
  • BIO-Remote2
  • Biostar MAGIX Multimedia Software Suite
  • Smart Speed LAN

For more information on these functions, please visit the Biostar Gaming Z97X product page.

Packaging and Accessories

A nice style box, simple styling with the Biostar Gaming logo in the bottom right. Enlarged feature of the Killer E2201 networking chip.

In the box, we find 4x SATA cables, IO shield, manual, cable strap, screws, a 4GB USB stick/ card with all the drivers and utilities on and also the Gaming Commander.

Xigmatek Nebula C Mini-ITX Chassis Review

Introduction


I’m a big fan of Xigmatek chassis’, time and time again they’ve shown they can make cool products with a good range of features, but most importantly, they’ve always done it with a fiercely competitive price tag, making them very attractive products to system builders. Their latest effort, the Nebula C is another welcome entry into the increasingly popular cube-type chassis market, which make great solutions for HTPC and LAN gaming systems.

  • Includes pre-installed high performance silent (black with black blades) Xigmatek XOF fan with FCB (Fluid Circulative Bearing) for optimal exhaust capabilities.
  • I/ O panel includes 2 x Super-Speed USB 3.0, HD Audio In/Out jacks, Power/Reset.
  • Capable of mounting Mini-ITX Motherboard.
  • Innovative 2 X 3.5” HDD can be converted to 2.5” SSD for easy mix and match.
  • Included 1 additional 2.5” SSD mounting holes inside chassis
  • All 3 side panels are tool-less and designed with quick release mechanism for easy hardware mounting.
  • Can install full sized power supply
  • Innovative Intake system from base of the tower.
  • Motherboard tray perforated with holes for free flow air into chassis and option for cable tie-down
  • Can mount up to 230mm Gaming Graphic card
  • Angled power/HDD light giving visual depth.
  • Polycarbonate side panels for alternative feel.
  • Baseless construct for sleek compact appearance.

As you can see from the specifications, the Nebula C may be small, but it packs just enough features for a decent gaming rig, with room for a dual-slot graphics card, ATX PSU and a few hard drives.

First impressions of the Nebula C are very good, this is one gorgeous looking chassis, its understated clean exterior and very modern design are a far cry from the usual chassis designs we see. The exterior is finished in white polycarbonate, giving it a glossy, yet soft looking finish that gives it a premium look and feel. The bottom left corner is cut away, with a small orange light fitting, a nice touch that will provide a soft glow when powered up.

There’s really very little to see on the exterior of the chassis, which is great for those who want a clean-looking system for their AV setup.

The I/O panel is a little simple, but all the basics are taken care of, offering a pair of HD audio jacks and dual USB 3.0 ports.

The glossy top panel appears to float above the side panel and in one corner, you’ll find a large power button.

The orange LED trim around the recessed button really draws your attention on the white background, its design makes you want to push it.

Front the front of the chassis, you can see the button LED cutaway, as well as a nice Xigmatek logo in the bottom right.

Around the back, we get a break from the sea of glossy whites, swapped out for a soft matte black finish. There’s a single 120mm exhaust fan pre-installed, with water/cable routing grommets directly below it. Aside from a little extra ventilation, there’s really little else to see here, just a standard ATX PSU cut-out and the fixtures for a Mini-ITX motherboard.

Gigabyte X99-Gaming-5P (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the best of the best when it comes to general consumer chipsets. Released back in August 2014, this has quickly taken the technology world by storm; offering some of the best performance only before seen in workstation systems.

Today at eTeknix, we have the newest addition to the Gaming 5 line-up, the X99-Gaming-5P. “What’s the difference compared to the original X99-Gaming-5 motherboard?” I hear you all saying in your mind; well that’s a tough one. On first impressions, it just seems Gigabyte took the original Gaming 5 motherboard and extended it into the large E-ATX width and added some fancy lights. On a deeper look into the comparison, it seems that the Gaming-5P is more aimed towards the overclockers and higher-end enthusiasts, offering support of up to 128GB RAM capacity and speeds of up to 3333MHz, that’s a massive increase over the standard 64GB and 2800MHz. Along with the RAM tweaks, Gigabyte has also added a CPU switch on the side of the motherboard, there are other additions; which I will go into later.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Gigabyte is no exception and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • Support for APP Center
    • Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    • @BIOS
    • Ambient LED
    • EasyTune
    • EZ Setup
    • Fast Boot
    • Game Controller
    • Cloud Station
    • ON/OFF Charge
    • Smart TimeLock
    • Smart Recovery 2
    • System Information Viewer
    • USB Blocker
    • V-Tuner Š
  • Support for Q-Flash Š
  • Support for Smart Switch Š
  • Support for Xpress Install

For more information on these functions, please visit the Gigabyte X99-Gaming-5P product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Following true Gigabyte style, they use very similar boxing styles to most of their motherboard range now, very solid plastic box, black colouring with the series colour highlights (G1 Gaming red for this model).

Inside we see an absolute treasure trove of accessories, 6x SATA cables, 1x split power cable, 1x LED I/O shield, 1x single x-fire bridge, 1x single SLI bridge, 1x dual SLI bridge, 1x tri SLI bridge, 1x quad SLI bridge and the usual manuals and driver disk.

Crucial Ballistix Sport 2400MHz Quad Channel DDR4 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, the most vital part of any computer that gets overlooked the most. There’s not a lot to say about RAM apart from its expensive and very confusing. DDR4, the newest iteration of RAM is currently the fastest version of the consumer RAM, with speeds exceeding 3333MHz.

Crucial are one of the big players in the RAM game, providing us with solid performance at a more affordable price. Today’s kit is the Ballistix Sport 2400MHz, one of Crucial’s cheaper sets, providing us with minimal heatsinks and the base unit to use a black PCB. Let’s see how this set compares to the likes of Corsair, G-Skill and our base 32GB Crucial DDR4 set.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple. Ffour modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The Ballistix Sport kit looks very understated. A very slimline heatsink panel on each side. Such a minimalistic design which I think might put some off due to looking a little “cheap”. Hopefully that is not the case with the performance.

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB 2400MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


With every new DDR memory release comes a decline in operating voltage and a decrease in heat output. In the transition from DDR2 to DDR3 and now DDR4, we’ve seen voltages drop and the need for large memory heatsinks are no longer necessary. This allows memory brands to release high-performance memory kits in compact low profile form factors that require minimal cooling. Crucial Ballistix Sport LT is a great example of this – it boasts high frequency yet it still has a low profile design making it ideal for use in compact system builds and with large tower heatsinks that are definitely going to be necessary to cool some of Intel’s swanky new Haswell-E Core i7 5XXX processors.

2400MHz sits on the higher end of the consumer DDR3 kits, as a result we should expect to see some excellent performance from this new Crucial 2400MHz DDR4 kit but the real question is: how well can most applications take advantage of the improved memory architecture? Let’s find out in today’s review.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

Packaging is very boring here, a simple clip case displaying two modules with a very small amount, but useful information.

A Closer Look

Crucial seem to have taken the original SPORT memory kit design and added a lip to the upper edge, which hugs the top of the PCB and meet the other side at the top.

Gigabyte X99-UD4P (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the mother of the prosumer chipsets. It’s what everyone wants, fewer can afford and fewer can fully utilise; this is the ultimate top trump card and rightly so. Gigabyte is currently the leading manufacturer of motherboards, while also offering one of the largest X99 motherboard ranges of all the manufacturers.

It seems Gigabyte are giving a spruce up to some of their best-selling X99 motherboards by giving them the overclocked treatment. They’ve doubled the contact area of every pin and increased the quality of the pins in aid to increase bandwidth. Along with this, they’ve added this onto their renowned Ultra Durable motherboard, which uses some of the best capacitors available. Let’s see if all this pays off in today’s review.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Gigabyte is no exception and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • Support for APP Center
    • Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    • @BIOS
    • Ambient LED
    • EasyTune
    • EZ Setup
    • Fast Boot
    • Cloud Station
    • ON/OFF Charge
    • Smart TimeLock
    • Smart Recovery 2
    • System Information Viewer
    • USB Blocker
    • V-Tuner Š
  • Support for Q-Flash Š
  • Support for Smart Switch Š
  • Support for Xpress Install

For more information on these functions, please visit the Gigabyte X99-UD4P product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Following true Gigabyte style, very similar boxing to most of their motherboard range now, very solid plastic box, black colouring with the series colour highlights (Ultra Durable Yellow for this model).

Inside, we see an absolute treasure trove of accessories, 4x SATA cables, 1x split power cable, 1x LED I/O shield, 1x single x-fire bridge, 1x single SLI bridge, 1x dual SLI bridge, 1x tri-SLI bridge, 1x quad SLI bridge and the usual manuals and driver disk.

Crucial Ballistix Elite 2666MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Memory, no matter how you look at it, you need it. Starting life as super slow DDR modules, it has come a long way from the simple 600MHz speeds, now exceeding 3000MHz in most higher end consumer kits. Module sizes have also come a very long way, back in the day with 128MB, yes Megabyte, to now 4GB modules as the standard with 8GB becoming the norm very soon.

The kit we have in today is the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 2666MHz. This is currently the highest clocked memory modules that Crucial produce, which is lower than what the likes of Corsair and G-Skill offer, but let’s see if this Elite 2666MHz kit has what it takes to compete with the big boys.

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple: four modules neatly packed into a small rectangular box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 4GB in size.

A Closer Look

The Crucial Elite range is all very similar, but the transition from DDR3 to DDR4 has seen the fins removed from the top of the heatsink; A lower profile makes room for a bigger CPU heatsink.

GTA V GPU Performance Review

Introduction


Grand Theft Auto V was released on Tuesday, along with that, NVIDIA has released yet another Game Ready Driver. However this time, AMD has decided to release one too, both offering optimised graphical drivers for most of their graphics card range.

Normally, we would only test a single driver and graphics card manufacturer, but because this is oriented towards GTA V performance, things are going to get a little more condensed.

Today we are going to be looking at seven of the top graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD, pitting them against each other to see which performs the best in GTA V, under our own choice of settings of course.

NVIDIA has released the GTA V optimised driver, GeForce Game Ready 350.12 and AMD has released a Beta driver, Catalyst 15.4. either can be downloaded by clicking the associated link.

Let’s begin shall we?

SilverStone Kublai KL06 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Silverstone is one of the greatest and most established names in the chassis industry, in fact, they’re not exactly lacking in other parts of the market either, with extensive product ranges that cater to power supplies, cooling and much more. Silverstone have a lot of technical knowledge when it comes to what makes a great system and you can see that knowledge being put to great use across their entire range; something we hope to see once again in our latest review.

Today I have the latest entry in the Kublai series and this one is particularly special, as it is the first Micro-ATX form factor product in that range; no doubt to address the increased system capacities required by many of today’s high-end components, such as RAID arrays and long graphics cards.

“Being the first Micro-ATX chassis in the Kublai series, a line of cases famed for layout efficiency with classic styling, the KL06 fills the role perfectly. Equipped with dual 120mm quiet fans for cooling multiple drives and high-end components, it retains SilverStones’ signature positive pressure design for effective dust prevention.” – SilverStone

The chassis caters well to modern hardware, dropping support for lots of 3.5″ drives, favoring a setup for 8 x 2.5″ drives and just a single 3.5″ drive on the interior. Storage bays are removable to make way for water cooling, there’s room for a large graphics card, high-end PSU and a whole lot more; so let’s get right to it and take a closer look at what the KL06 has to offer!

The Kublai is a fairly simple looking chassis, but none the less, one that is very nicely designed. The left side panel is a solid panel, cut from thick steel that should help greatly reduce unwanted noise and vibrations from your system.

Another thick panel on the right side of the chassis. Both side panels are mounted with two thumbscrews at the rear, providing you with quick and easy access to the chassis interior.

The front panel is really nicely designed, with two 5.25″ drive bays at the top and a semi-transparent front panel mesh, behind which you can see the front fans.

The main I/O panel has all the usual ports and switches while also being another of this years chassis to drop the older USB 2.0 ports entirely.

The front cover can be easily removed via clip at the bottom, allowing you to easily clean the filter and maintain your fans.

Around the back, you’ll quickly notice that the motherboard mounting is inverted, with the I/O at the bottom and the PSU mounting at the top. There’s plenty of ventilation here, an optional fan mount at the bottom and a screw on protective cover for the four expansion slot mounts.

The top panel has a large ventilation section for the PSU air intake.

It has a magnetic dust filter attached, which is far easier to keep clean than most PSU filters that are located on the underside of the chassis.

There’s four rubber feet on the bottom of the chassis to help keep it firmly in place, even on hard surfaces.

ASUS X99-A (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s current flagship consumer chipset, X99 has been around since August 2014. The X99 chipset was the first motherboard range to fully utilise DDR4 memory modules and put the much higher speeds to use. It’s starting to age slightly, being around 8 months old, so let’s see if this motherboard has any new tricks to bring to the game.

Today we have the ASUS X99-A ATX motherboard. In the X99 line-up, it’s the cheapest ASUS motherboard to date, with the next in line being the X99-S. ASUS has faltered lately, being knocked off the top motherboard manufacturer spot by Gigabyte (only by 300,000 units). Let’s see if this new budget X99 board has what it takes to bring ASUS back into the top spot.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no different and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • 5 Way Optimisation by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
    • DIGI+ Power
    • TPU
    • EPU
    • ASUS
    • Turbo App
  • UEFI BIOS
  • ASUS HomeCloud Server
  • Remote GO!
  • Media Streamer
  • NFC Express 2 Support
  • Turbo LAN
  • Crystal Sound 2
  • Steam Support
  • UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
    • OC Tuner
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • EZ Flash 2
  • Q-Design
    • Q-Code
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM
    • Q-Connector
  • USB 3.0 Boost
  • USB Charger+
  • Disk Unlocker
  • Ai Suite 3
  • MemOK!
  • EZ XMP

For more information on these functions, please visit the ASUS X99-A product page.

Packaging and Accessories

ASUS like to play it safe on their more wallet friendly motherboards. Keeping the box a simple black and white/ silver, which flows into the design of the motherboard itself. Extra’s are what you would expect, SATA cables, IO panel, manuals, driver CD, SLI bridge and a few stickers.

Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac (LGA-1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform is a perfect basis for a mini-ITX system build as it features enough performance to please even the most demanding user while still being power efficient enough to be tamed by small form factor cases and modest cooling solutions. Due to those reasons it isn’t surprising to see Intel’s LGA 1150 platform dominate the mini-ITX landscape. Creating a mini-ITX motherboard from AMD’s AM3+ or Intel’s LGA 2011 platforms is unfeasible from a number of perspectives including heat and for LGA 2011, the size of the socket and number of memory lanes required. We have seen other mini-ITX motherboards emerge for low power platforms like Intel’s Bay Trail, AMD’s Kabini and AMD’s FM2+ APU platform but relatively speaking all three of these platforms cannot rival Intel’s LGA 1150 in terms of raw performance. In short, Intel’s mainstream LGA 1150 platform offers the best balance of features, performance, pricing and power efficiency for the mini-ITX form factor.

Today we are setting our sights on one of ASRock’s newest additions to the line-up, the Z97E-ITX/ac. ASRock, a previous subdivision of AsusTek, has really taken the world by storm, becoming the 3rd biggest supplier of motherboards for the year 2013-2014. Being set on the Intel Z97 chipset, allows this motherboard to be compatible with all the LGA 1150 socket CPU’s such as the i5-4570k and i7-4700k. This particular board has been built using all the typical ASRock components; premium alloy chokes, 12K platinum capacitors and a sapphire black PCB, all combining to producing a stonker of a motherboard. Along with the usual hardware components, ASRock has managed to squeeze on the newest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac, meaning a boost of up to 289% over 802.11n Wi-Fi, a M.2 port for super fast storage and much more.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASRock is no different and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • ASRockSuper Alloy
  • ASRock 802.11ac WiFi
  • ASRock HDMi-In
  • ASRock Full Spike Protection
  • ASRock Cloud
  • ASRock App Shop
  • ASRock A-Tuning
  • ASRock Disk Health Report
  • ASRock USB Key
  • ASRock App charger
  • ASRock XFast LAN
  • ASRock XFast RAM
  • ASRock Restart to UEFI
  • ASRock FULL HD UEFI
  • ASRock My Favourites in UEFI
  • ASRock UEFI Guide
  • ASRock Instant Flash
  • ASRock Internet Flash
  • ASRock Crashless BIOS
  • ASRock Online Management Guard (OMG)
  • ASRock UEFI System Browser
  • ASRock UEFI Tech Service
  • ASRock Dehumidifier Function
  • ASRock Easy RAID Installer
  • ASRock Easy Driver Installer

For more information on these functions, please visit ASRock’s Z97E-ITX/ac product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Very typical enthusiast level extra’s. 2x SATA3 cables, install CD, ASRock Cloud manual, quick start manual, ASRock sticker and a single WiFi antennae.