Seagate SSHD 2TB Solid State Hybrid Drive Review

Introduction


When we think storage, we usually think in one of two directions. Either we think of the traditional mechanical hard disk drives with large capacities for a low-cost or solid state drives with the higher speeds but smaller capacity. There is a third group of drives that shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this and it is placed right in between the HDD and SSDs, taking a little of both worlds in order to create a hybrid drive. Today I’m taking the look at just such a drive, the Seagate Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) with 2 TB capacity.

Solid State Hybrid Drives deliver speed and capacity for gaming and high-performance desktop applications in an intelligent way, by combining a small amount of NAND flash to keep the hot files with a large portion of mechanical storage for everything else. That is also where the simple term Hybrid Drive comes from. The Seagate SSHD is able to boot Windows 8 in less than 10 seconds and perform up to five times better than a 7200 RPM desktop hard drive, measure in PCMark Vantage. It can also improve the overall system responsiveness by 30% over a traditional hard disk drive. It is a drive that will give you the best of both worlds.

The smart algorithm used is Seagate’s Adaptive Memory technology that effectively identifies the most frequently used data and stores it in the NAND flash. The self-learning software algorithms make laptop hardware, firmware, and high-speed NAND flash work together to create a perfect balance. The software technology monitors data usage dynamically and determines what data should be copied to the flash. The result, you get boot times that are greatly increased and very close to SSD levels. The same goes for your frequent used application loading times and overall system responsiveness.

The Seagate SSHD 2TB has 8GB MLC NAND for the intelligent caching mechanism and 64MB DRAM Cache for the normal HDD part. The drive has a spindle speed of 7200RPM and an average seek time of less than 9.5ms. The drive is composed of 4 heads and 2 disks with a load/unload cycle rating of 300,000. With a power consumption of 6.7W during typical operation and 0.75W in sleep and standby modes, it is also an efficient drive.

The great thing with an SSHD drive is that you don’t need any extra configurations, software, or setups. You just plug it in like any other drive, connect data and power cables and it is ready to increase your system’s performance over a standard hard disk drive. Just how much of an improvement will be seen in the benchmarks on the following pages

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage and might be subject to change in possible future revisions of the drives.

Packaging and Accessories

The Seagate SSHD comes as a kit version and as a bare drive like I got for this review. Below is a shot of how the retail package looks and there isn’t much else in the box beside the drive itself. You do get an installation manual in the kit version, but it is more of a secure sales box for the drives that are sold in the retail market.

Seagate Creates Highest Capacity 2.5″ 7mm HDD

The mechanical hard drive is far from dead despite the face solid state and hybrids drives march forward and intend to conquer the market. There are still a lot of improvements that can be done on the mechanical siblings and Seagate proved that again by creating the highest density 2.5-inch HDD in a slim 7mm package.

As an SSD user, you might be used to the 7mm drives, but most HDDs come in the larger form factors with a height of 9.5mm to 15mm. Seagate has achieved an impressive 1TB per 2.5-inch platter which in return allows them to release a new 2.5-inch 7mm HDD with 2TB capacity. That is quite impressive and will surely lead to higher versions with more capacity as well.

“In an industry first, our engineers have been able to boost areal density to 1 TB per platter in a 2.5-inch form factor, which will give OEMs the flexibility to design and build virtually any kind of mobile device they can envision, with plenty of storage to boot,” said Mark Re, Seagate’s chief technology officer. “Combining new mechanical firmware architectures, with state of the art heads, media and electronic design, this technology is a real game changer- providing four times more capacity than a 0.25 TB SSD at a substantially lower cost.”

The new drive technology is the first to incorporate recording-subsystem components-head, media, preamp, channel-to achieve even greater areal densities, well ahead of competitive offerings. Its advanced high-spatial efficiency mechanics delivers a lightweight drive, low acoustics, and strong mechanical robustness capable of new levels of drive stability even when subject to intense shock and vibrations.

The drive is also 25 percent lighter than the previous generation Seagate mobile hard drive products, smaller, and more efficient. Seagate is already working on an SSHD version of the drive as well. Both the HDD and the SSHD drives are surely something to look forward too.

Toshiba MQ02 Series 500GB SSHD Review

Introduction


There are a lot of storage drives on the market to choose from and picking the right drive is a matter of budget and situational needs. Notebook users don’t have as many choices as they’re often limited to the 2.5-inch form factor and today I’m taking a look at such a drive.

We’ve got Toshiba’s latest 2.5-inch Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) on the testbench, the MQ02 series. The Toshiba MQ02ABF05H is an extremely silent 2.5-inch drive SSHD with 500GB capacity, but it is also available as 1 TB version.

The hybrid drives combine two things from different worlds into one, the cheap storage, storage capacity, and reliability of mechanical hard drives and the speed of NAND-based SSDs. The drive will sort the most used files into the flash memory for speedy access while keeping the cold data on the mechanical part of the drive.

This method will provide you with better boot times than traditional hard disks and your most used apps will too. This is an ideal drive to upgrade older notebooks and give them a needed performance boost.

The SSHD’s self-learning algorithm is optimized by Toshiba for 2-bit-per-cell MLC NAND and will continue to develop throughout the lifespan of the drive, constantly improving your PC’s performance. This is also one of the things that make this drive a tough one to benchmark. It will not show its true potential in synthetic tests.

There is a good chance that you’ll take this drive with you on the road inside a laptop and you’ll want your data to be secure while doing so. The MQ02 SSHD features a carriage lock mechanism that prevents the heads from sliding off the ramp and onto the media during power off. Activated automatically upon power down, the lock protects your drive from shocks of up to 900 G.

As with all Toshiba SSHDs, the MQ02 Series is halogen-free and RoHS compatible, making it a very environmentally friendly drive. That is continued in the adaptive power mode and serial ATA devices reduce power consumption without affecting performance. Supporting three levels of idle mode, the SSHD is supremely efficient and only draws up to 2 W during seek.

The mechanical drive has a spindle speed of 5400RPM and comes with 64MB cache. The  NAND part is 8GB big, enough to store a lot of frequent access data.

Toshiba is the only storage vendor that designs and develops both HDD and NAND flash memory that are the two core components of SSHD technology. This gives us a good security that they know what they are doing and that we get a quality drive.

We see a Marvell 88i9412 controller on the PCB along with the Toshiba MLC NAND and the Smooth L7289 spindle motor controller.

Chillblast Fusion Nano 960 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Chillblast gave us a friendly poke to see if we were interested in taking a look at one of their mini-itx gaming range. As I am mainly used to dealing with hulking gaming monsters which are show-pieces never to be moved, I was quite interested to see what offerings are available in terms of portable PCs of tiny small form factor, and finding out if they’re actually worth it or not.

Having a brief look over the spec sheet revealed on paper at least, that this seemed a fairly decent gaming rig, even touting an AIO liquid cooled CPU cooler. We’ve seen plenty of GTX 970s, 980s and even Titan Xs, but we’ve yet to try out the GTX960. Needless to say, we gratefully took Chillblast up on their offer and sure enough a fairly large yet light parcel turned up at eTeknix HQ.

Specifications

  • Name: Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Gaming PC
  • Case: Raijintek Metis Windowed Mini ITX Case – Red – modified
  • Motherboard: Asus Z97I PLUS
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K Devils Canyon overclocked to 4.3GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Corsair H55 all-in-one liquid cooler
  • System Memory: 8GB Corsair/Crucial/Samsung  1600MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 4GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 2.5″ SSHD 1000GB Hybrid SSD / HDD Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): None
  • Graphics card: GTX 960 2GB based on the Maxwell Architecture
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified PSU Modular Version
  • Optical DriveNone
  • Wireless: Asus A/C
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 5 Year Warranty with 2 Years Collect and Return (UK only)
  • Price: £869.99 as configured Delivered.

The outer box, sealed and in perfect condition, a good start!

Inside the outer box amongst a large amount of paper padding on all sides we have a smaller box and a case box.

The much smaller Raijintek case box

In the side box, we have the external magnetic Asus Wi-Fi antennae, extra modular power cables, kettle power lead, PCIE blanking plates, motherboard sound speaker and various manuals and drivers discs.

Removing the rig from its case showed that extra care had been given to the components inside the case, nice.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

WD Turns Their Blue Series Into SSHD Drives

Western Digital has a colourful range of hard drives which is kinda fitting right now with everyone turning their Facebook profile into a rainbow. We know the RED NAS drives very well from our review section and WD also has their Purple series for NVR, Black series for performance, Green series for the environment, and the Blue series that is kinda of the normal desktop series.

It has been a while since we’ve seen any new drives in the Blue series, but that has just changed as WD released the newest evolution of this drive series. The WD Blue series has turned into a SSHD series and gotten a NAND boost.

The new WD Blue series initially comes in two version, a 3.5-inch 4TB version (WD40E31X) and a 2.5-inch 1TB version (WD10J31X). Both of them have 64MB cache and 8GB MLC NAND.

The 4TB drive has a speed rating of 150MB/s while the 2.5-inch 1TB drive only performs up to 100MB/s. The NAND should however boost up the hot file access a lot and improve boot times as well as overall load times of frequently accessed data.

The two new WD Blue drives are expected to launch on July 2nd and come backed by a three-year limited warranty. As for the prices, the new WD Blue 4TB is currently listed starting from €189.90 and the 1TB is listed from €94.90.

CyberPowerPC Infinity Xtreme Halo Review

Introduction


CyberPowerPC are making a sizeable impact in the UK PC market in recent years since they came across the water and settled in the sunny North of England. They contacted us offering not just a glimpse at one their flagship systems, but a completely built and ready to go review sample of which we were encouraged to “test”, and by test I mean game on.

Naturally we were on scene faster than you can shake a stick at and soon we were pulling up outside Cyberpower HQ eager to get our mitts onto this mystery machine. We were not disappointed when we were warned that it would take 2 men to lift it, and that I would need to put my back seats down as the box would take up half of the back of my car. As we returned to eTeknix towers we could see on the box what chassis we had, but it wasn’t until we got it unpacked that we seen what we had been given, and investigated the invoice properly. What they had in fact given us was a top end X99 system with not one but TWO GTX Titan X’s in SLI, with a bespoke water cooling setup, a price tag of £6400, and that’s just the beginning. Ladies and Gentlemen, hold onto your hats, I’m going in!

Specifications

  • Name: Cyberpower Infinity Xtreme Halo
  • Case: In-Win S Frame ? Black and Gold
  • Motherboard: ASUS X99 Deluxe INTEL X99,  4 Channel DDR4 ATX Mainboard w/ 8 RAM slots,UEFI Bios,Turbo APP,Thunderbolt Ready,Crystal Sound 2,Turbo LAN,USB3.0,SATA-III RAID,3 Gen3 PCIe x16 & 1 PCIe x4
  • Processor: i7-5960X Extreme Edition Eight-Core 3.00 GHz 20MB Haswell-E
  • Processor Cooler: Custom loop, featuring a resivior/pump combo, 360mm radiator with LED fans and rigid tubing.
  • System Memory: 32GB HyperX Fury w/Heat Spreader DDR4/2400MHz Quad Channel Memory (8 x 4GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: (1x400GB) Intel 750 Series M.2 PCIe Solid State Drive Card, Read: 2500MB/Sec, Write: 1200MB/Sec
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 2TB Seagate Hybrid Gen3 SATA-III 6.0Gb/s Cache 5400RPM SSHD in RAID 0
  • Graphics card: GeForce GTX Titan X (x2 in SLI, with full cover waterblocks)
  • Power Supply: Corsair 1200 Watts AX1200i Platinum 80+ Modular digital control Gaming Power Supply – Quad SLI Ready
  • Extras: ASUS USB 3.1 Expansion PCI-E card, provides extra two USB 3.1, Free Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt
  • Optical Drive: None
  • Wireless: Wireless A/C
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 2 Year Warranty
  • Price: £6400 as configured Delivered.

Here have the huge box,  with oodles of padding, foam and air pockets to protect its precious cargo.

A motherboard box full of extra cables, goodies and more, including a Windows 8.1 disc.

Unboxed and raring to go.  By this point I had smeared the glass with my clammy palms and had to give it a quick wipe down.

 

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Toshiba Announces New Generation Hybrid Drives

Toshiba Electronics announces their new solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) series with Toshiba’s 19nm second generation NAND flash memory (NAND). The new drive comes as 1TB 9.5mm drive for desktop systems and 500GB 7mm for laptops and notebooks.

The new generation merges the NAND controller function directly into the HDD controller chip to create a all-in-one system on a chip (SoC). It features everything you could want in defective block management, ECC (Error Correction Code), conversion of logical block address, and wear-leveling.

Sample shipments will begin February 2015.

Thanks to Toshiba for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Toshiba

WD Is Preparing World Fastest 4TB Hybrid Drive

Las Vegas is a busy place this time of year with the CES event. But there also are a lot of smaller events in the city surrounding CES and one of them is the Storage Visions Conference. Western Digital is presenting their new 4TB Hybrid Drive that utilises the SATA Express PCI-e interface to make the world’s fastest hybrid drive and bring down the costs per GB.

The demonstrated models are using 64GB SSD cache sizes, but WD said that the final models will be made available with up to 128GB cache. Having such a cache increases the data access rate for hot data significantly and improves the overall performance. The WD SATA Express 4 TB drive with 64 GB cache achieved a PCMark8 benchmark score of 4459 and these drives perform close to 10Gbit/s in striped RAID setups.

“WD is committed to working with the industry to push the boundaries of what you might expect from a traditional hard drive,” said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president, Storage Technology, WD. “By moving to PCI Express, the industry marries the world’s most popular storage bus with the world’s most popular computer bus. This union provides a solid growth path to innovate new capability, while preserving the ability to plug legacy SATA drives into new SATA Express based computers.”

I can not wait for these prototype drives to become a reality, bringing down the overall costs for fast storage – for everyone.

Thanks to WD for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of WD

Toshiba 2.5-inch 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive Review

Introduction


Toshiba is one of the world’s leading suppliers when it comes to OEM Hard drives, so it’s no surprise that they also want to be part of the Hybrid Drive wave led by WD, with their own OEM drives and range of consumer SSHD drives. Today we’re taking a closer look at the Toshiba 1TB 2.5″ Notebook Internal Solid State Hybrid Drive, the MQ01ABD100H.

Hybrid drives enter a sweet spot between traditional hard drives with spinning platters and solid state drives with their flash memory. They are giving us the capacity we’re used to from the hard disk but with a boost to the most-used-files on your system to near SSD speeds. Toshiba uses self-learning caching algorithms to determine your usage pattern and optimize file locations.

There are several reasons one would pick a hybrid drive, where none of them have to be exclusive. If your laptop or notebook only has room for one drive while you need a lot of storage space, a SSD that size might be out of your price range. The hybrid drive will give us faster boot times as well as faster access to often used files. Compared to traditional hard drives this is a big bonus, but doesn’t cost much more. A lot of people might also feel it will be easier to just deal with one disk over setting up both a SSD for your system and a HDD for the rest.

It’s also a great choice to make if you aren’t sure that you actually need the speed a SSD will give you. While SSD’s have become both cheaper and bigger over the years, they’re still to expensive for many people. Comparing the pure capacity of hard drives they could get for the same money can leave you with a tough decision. The Hybrid drive fills this gap, allowing everyone to find just the sweet-spot between the price and performance they need.

Since this is an OEM drive, it comes with no form of accessories. The drive is mainly sold to system builders, and they don’t need these extras. The drive isn’t an exclusive and can be had at many retailers as well. Toshiba is offering a 3-year warranty on this 9.5 mm thin drive that weighs 117 grams.

This hybrid drive from Toshiba has been on the market for a while now, and as such I did a little digging into complaints and user feedback. There weren’t many bad user reviews to be found, and less than ordinary on a product of this age. This should already be a good indication on the reliability of this drive.

Lenovo updates ThinkCentre Series with M83 Mini Tower and SFF

Lenovo has updated the ThinkCentre series with the new M83 desktop PC that will be available as either a mini-tower or a small-form-factor unit (SSF). The ThinkCentre products are designed for business users who require increased processing power while maintaining a space-saving design.

With a product aimed at the business users like the ThinkCentre M83 is, it comes with a long list of useful security features. It has Lenovo’s Smart USB Protection that allows administrators to control access to all USB ports. This can prevent data theft and unnecessary risk of infections with malware and viruses. It also has the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that encrypts data and key information like passwords and digital certificates. Physical security includes a Cable lock, a Padlock Loop, a Chassis Intrusion Switch and Absolute Computrace Support.

The M83 isn’t shy about its hardware and has either a 4th generation Intel Core i7-4770 or Core i5-4430 / 4570 / 4670 processors and supports up to 32GB DDR3-1600 memory over 4 DIMM slots. It can either use the Intel iGPU for the graphics or have the Radeon HD8470 / HD 8570, Nvidia GeForce GT620 / GT630 or Nvidia Quadro 410 discrete graphics cards. The chipset used is the Intel Q85.

There’s also plenty of options to choose from when it comes to storage. The M83 has the options of 3.5-inch 7200 RPM HDDs from 250 GB to 2TB and 2.5-inch 5400 RPM HDDs from 320GB to 1TB size. You can also get the M83 with 2.5-inch SSHDs in either 500GB or 1TB size and pure SSDs from 128GB to 180GB size. As optical drive, you have the choice of DVD-ROM or DVD-Recorder.

There is plenty of connection options on both models with two USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks on the front. The rear has four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports as well as options for two PS/2 connectors for mouse and keyboard. It has 1 serial port default while a second can be added and the same goes for the parallel port. It also has an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet connector, audio jacks and supports up to three independent displays with the D-Sub VGA and two DisplayPort connections.

There’s also a choice of options on the wireless capabilities with 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth combo, 802.11 ac WiFi as well as 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with and without Bluetooth. For maximum enterprise compatibility there is a wide variety of operating systems to choose from and you can have it come with Windows 7 Home, Professional or Ultimate, as well as Windows 8 Basic and Pro.

Lenovo also applied their Intelligent Cooling Engine 3.0 to the new M83 systems that will allow you to prioritising between either sound level or cooling effect. It further has the option to send out a warning before any actual overheating issues start. It has excellent energy ratings and you can get these systems with Platinum rated power supplies that have a rating of over 92% efficiency.

The mini tower measures 415 x 175 x 442 mm and weighs 11.2kg while the SFF model only measures 338 x 102 x 375 mm and weighs 7.8 kg. The ThinkCentre M83 will be available in October, starting at approximately $599

Thank you Lenovo for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Lenovo

PC Specialist Vanquish 270X System Review

Introduction


Intel’s Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition CPU release has been very exciting for the PC market, the main reason is that you can now get high-end desktop performance for the price of an entry level system. This is because the bulk of applications and games are still largely dependent on the performance of 1-2 CPU cores, so with the potential to get around 4.5-4.8GHz on both its cores the Pentium G3258 can offer Core i7 4790K-like performance in one to two threaded applications. Today we are testing PC Specialist’s Vanquish 270X system which they have configured and built especially for us! This system features a Pentium G3258 CPU overclocked to a whopping 4.7GHz and that’s paired up with a Powercolor R9 270X 2GB graphics card and 8GB of RAM. All in all this means there is more than enough grunt in this system to drive all the latest gaming titles maxed out at full 1080p or even as high as 1440p depending on the game, as well as to do a wide variety of other productivity and home tasks. What’s even more impressive is that the components used are really cost effective, so this build comes in at just £579! PC Specialist have made very sensible component choices to keep the pricing in that sweet spot zone: they’ve opted for the unlocked Pentium, AMD’s R9 270X, an SSHD, Gigabyte’s entry level Z97 gaming series motherboard and Corsair’s affordable 230T chassis houses it all. Below you can see the full specifications of this build:

Specifications

  • Name: PC Specialist Vanquish 270X
  • Case: Corsair 230T with Red LEDs and Side Window
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 3
  • Processor: Intel Pentium G3258 “Anniversary Edition” Dual Core at up to 4.7GHz w/ OC
  • Processor Cooler: Titan Universal CPU Cooler with Arctic MX4 thermal paste
  • System Memory: 1 x 8GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX Beast 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 1TB Hybrid Solid State Hard Drive with 8GB SSD Cache
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Not included
  • Graphics card: Powercolor AMD R9 270X 2GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS 450W
  • Optical DriveSuper WriteMaster DVD RW
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year Warranty (1 month collect & return, 1 year parts, 3 year labour)
  • Price: £579 (accurate at the time of writing)

Packaging & Accessories

PC Specialist’s Vanquish 270X system comes very well packaged with soft cell foam to absorb shock and vibration in transit as well as some protective plastic to prevent dust and scratches.

In terms of accessories you get PC Specialist’s welcome pack which has all the additional manuals and documentation that came with all the components in your system. There’s also a welcome guide written by PC Specialist that they advise you to read before using your new PC.

CPU-Z

Jumping into CPU-Z and we can see that as promised our Pentium G3258 (which CPU-Z is mistakenly reading as the Pentium G3420) is clocked at 4.7GHz using 1.35 volts. This core voltage is a little high for 24/7 operation, I maybe would have preferred to see 1.3 volts and a slightly lower clock speed.

The memory is just a single DIMM so we have to use single channel mode, that memory is clocked at 2133MHz.

GPU-Z

On the GPU side we have Powercolor’s R9 270X which comes clocked fairly high and has bags of overclocking headroom if you want to push things further.

Cube Raptor Gaming PC Review

Introduction


It is no secret that there are a lot of people who are interested in gaming PCs but do not have the time or the experience to build their own. It is also no secret that PCs made by gimmicky system builders like Alienware are over-priced and are not good value for money, you are mainly paying for the brand name and reputation and get very little hardware for your money. So what other options do you have? Buying from a system integrator is rapidly becoming a popular alternative, with the constant year-on-year growth in the PC gaming industry it is no wonder that there are more system integrators to choose from than ever before.

Today we are taking a look at a gaming system made by the system integrator called Cube. We are checking out their Cube Raptor Gaming PC which offers up a sweet-spot balance of components at a fairly attractive sub-£700 price point. The Raptor boasts the latest Core i5 Haswell Refresh CPU from Intel with the flagship Z97 chipset as well as a 2GB AMD R7 265 overclocked graphics card and 8GB of DDR3. Interestingly, there’s no either/or rubbish going on with the storage – Cube have equipped a hybrid drive so it can bring the benefits of an SSD and large capacity HDD to an attractive price point. All in all this system has an interesting mix of components and is finished off nicely with In Win’s GT1 gaming mid tower case. Check out the full specifications of this system below:

Specifications

  • Name: Cube Raptor Gaming PC
  • Case: In Win GT1 Mid Tower
  • Motherboard: MSI Z97-G43 LGA 1150 socket
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4590 “Haswell Refresh” Quad Core (3.3GHz Base 3.7GHz Turbo) LGA 1150 socket
  • Processor Cooler: Stock Intel Heatsink
  • System Memory: 1 x 8GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX Fury 1866MHz (Blue)
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 1TB Hybrid Solid State Hard Drive with 8GB SSD Cache
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Not included
  • Graphics card: MSI R7 265 OC 2GB GDDR5
  • Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite 500W
  • Optical DriveSuper WriteMaster DVD RW
  • Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN781ND PCIe 150mbps 2.4GHz WiFi card
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 2 Year Warranty (14 Day Swap Out,1st Year collect and return, 2nd Year Return to Base)
  • Price: £669.99 including VAT (accurate at the time of writing)

Packaging & Accessories

We received the Cube Raptor Gaming PC in the usual format: a large cardboard outer box within which we find the system in the box that the In Win case came in. There’s some additional protective polystyrene to protect the inner box from bumps and on top of it all is the motherboard box which contains all the manuals, documentation, cables and adapters that came with components in the system that you might need.

As we can see the inner box is in perfect condition and has sustained no damage in transit, this means it was packaged well.

Inside the motherboard box we find lots of documentation for the system components, a power cable for the system, various CDs, a VGA to DVI adapter and the wireless antenna for the WiFi PCI express card.

Before we get stuck in to looking at the product let’s just take a minute to familiarise ourselves with the stars of the show; the Intel Core i5 4590 and the AMD R7 265 OC.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Seagate Desktop 3.5″ 4TB Solid State Hybrid Drive Review

Introduction


In today’s market, there are countless storage options out there for you to choose for your current system or for a new build that you are planning and in general we find one of two main options being selected for the primary boot drive – this being either a hard drive which offers up large storage capacities, or a solid state drive that mainly offers up the speed.  In the OEM sector, the operating system is typically installed on to a hard drive, whilst custom-built systems from the like of Overclockers UK and PC Specialist use either hard drives or the faster technology that a solid state drive has to offer based on the target audience and the price point.

When we look at where we can boost the performance of a system, be it a pre-built system that is already owned, or one that is in the process of being “spec’d” up, one of the key areas where performance can be gained is through the storage medium, but even in today’s market, the price per GB of storage that a SSD sees over that of a hard drive is still quite high. This premium for SSD performance can in some instances leave users with quite a dilemma; do you choose space or performance?  One option that many say you should go down is to buy a SSD for the boot drive and then a secondary hard drive for the volume, but although the price of entry-level solid state products is far more affordable than it was only a year or to back, by the time you take the price of a hard drive into account, the cost is still fairly expensive for some. Naturally the other logical route that many users see is to simply go down the mechanical drive route and sacrifice performance in favour of purchase cost and the larger volumes that are on offer.

There is a third option that still seems to be pushed to one side of the market, namely the hybrid drive. This type of drive which incorporates both solid state technology along with the volume of a spinning platter has been around for a couple of years now and even though there are a good selection of products on the market, there is this unspoken hesitation that a hybrid drive is not all that good and it is better to just cut your losses and get a SSD. The matter of fact is though that as the technology has matured, the performance benefit that can be seen from a SSHD over a straight forward mechanical drive is far greater than it used to be and the result is a drive which can offer faster read speeds and in turn giving the user a notable boost in the overall system performance – particularly when booting into Windows as an example.

Filtering through the specifications of the desktop SSHDs, we can see that all SKUs come with a 64MB cache on a SATAIII interface along with an average seek time as low as ~8.5ms. For the solid state portion of the drive we get 8GB of MLC type NAND and as a result we can see read speeds of up to 190MB/s on offer when accessing cached data (up to ~156MB/s directly from non-cached data.

Western Digital & SanDisk Join Forces To Build SSHDs

Earlier today we reported that Seagate were set to enter the SSD market and that is of course a good thing for both consumers and fans of Seagate products, yet it looks like Western Digital & SanDisk don’t want Seagate to have all the spotlight today as they announce their new partnership.

Western Digital and SanDisk are two of the biggest players in the world of storage and in joining forces they will be set to (hopefully) create something truly special. Their new products are said to be SSHD’s, a hybrid between SSD and HDD that offers plenty of extra speed similar to an SSD with the added benefit of the large storage capabilities of a regular hard drive and for the most part this is usually at a much more reasonable price that the equivalent SSD.

Western Digital have still to release their last hybrid devices which they announced earlier this year, a range of notebook hybrid drives, but this new development may have something to do with why we have yet to see these products.

SanDisk supply the flash bits for the WD Black SSHD, said to be the worlds thinnest SSHA and lets not forget that the SanDisk iSSD features “best-in-class” 19nm memory technology, which is based on WD hybrid tech, so there is already a lot of back scratching between the two companies in a sense, this partnership is nothing new.

Do you like the sound of a Western Digital / SanDisk SSHD? Personally I think it should be a good mixture and so long as they both get the pricing right, they could have a hot product on their hands.

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Western Digital’s Worlds First Ultra-Slim Drive

 

Today Western Digital announced that they will start shipping the worlds first thinnest hard drive. The new Ultra Slim hard drives will be 47% thinner (5mm) than the standard mobile hard drives (9.5mm), also weighing 37% less, only weighing 74 grams!

The new Ultra Slim hard drives will fall into WD’s BLUE category, they are also releasing a BLACK Solid-State Hybrid Drive. Both of their new slim drives will be only 5mm! Enabling manufacturers of laptops and other mobile devices that use mobile drives to produce lighter and thinner devices for their customers! Both of the new drives will only have 500 GB of storage capacity, though the SSHD will be able to give you that nice performance boost with it’s hybrid technology.

These awesome new drives are thinner and quieter, what more could we ask for? WD kicked it up even further bringing us Edge Card Technology, and an Edge Card Connector allowing the drive to be powered and connect via the SATA interface! To reduce vibration and to stabilize the drive they are giving us StableTrac, making the new drives more accurate to provide consistent higher performance! Last but not least they also put in Dual Stage Actuators, two heads are always better than one, giving those data writes more accuracy!

As for the pricing, these new drives will be shipping to select industrial distributors and OEM customers today, they bring us the 500 GB WD BLUE Model: WD5000MPCK with an MSRP o f $89.00 USD, and it will come with a two-year limited warranty. The WD BLACK SSHD are only shipping to OEM’s and integrators with WD proprietary hybrid technology and industry standard SATA I/O technology.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the new Ultra Slim, click here!

 

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