ASUS Strix 2.0 Multi-Platform Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


It’s been almost a year since we put the feature-packed ASUS STRIX DSP Gaming Headset through its paces, and it certainly did well in our review. The latest from ASUS, the STRIX 2.0 may not have as many features as its big brother, but with a more affordable price and multi-format support, it’s certainly an attractive option for those looking for a new gaming headset, so we’re eager to see what it can do.

Picking the right headset can make or break your gaming experience, not to mention they can also be great for general multimedia use. The STRIX 2.0 is equipped with support for PC/MAC, mobile devices and PlayStation 4, although in all fairness it’s also widely compatible with a lot of things, so long as the have a 3.5mm jack. It’s certainly great if you game on multiple devices, and this setup could save you money as you wouldn’t need to buy multiple headsets.

“STRIX 2.0 is powered by 60 mm neodymium-magnet drivers to deliver punchy, high-fidelity sound. In addition to providing fantastic gaming audio, STRIX 2.0 is a great way to enjoy listening to music. Connect STRIX 2.0 to your desktop, laptop, PS4 or smart device and experience superb sound with brilliant details and punchy bass from games, music, and more.”

The hardware certainly seems promising, with a pair of powerful 60mm neodymium drivers, which are quite simply massive for any headset, so I’m expecting some good bass performance here. There’s also a uni-directional boom microphone, which is also fully detachable should you not need it.

The packaging for the STRIX 2.0 is absolutely massive, the box looks big enough to house two of these headsets. There’s a large window section showing off one of the ear cups of the headset, as well as a few major specifications dotted on the front of the packaging.

Around the back, more details about the 60mm drivers, dual microphones and cross-platform support.

In the box, you’ll find the quick start guide, warranty information, a detachable boom microphone, as well as some good quality braided adaptor cables for PC and mobile devices.

Asus Unveils Trio of Strix Sound Cards

Asus has announced three dedicated PCI-E sound cards which output 7.1-channel surround sound and 192kHz/24-bit audio. The Strix Raid DLX, Strix Raid Pro and Strix Soar feature Perfect Voice noise cancellation to enhance the immersion factor during tense, atmospheric games. Asus’ flagship card is the Strix Raid DLX which utilizes a ESS SABRE9016 digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and provides the world’s leading performance 32-bit and 24-bit audio. Furthermore, the Strix Raid DLX is capable of an incredible 123dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

The Strix Raid Pro and Strix Soar focus on the gaming market and include a ESS SABRE9006A DAC for pure, full-sounding audio with an impressive 116dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Low-dropout (LDO) regulators and Hi-Fi-grade Nichicon FineGold, Nichicon Muse, and German WIMA capacitors ensure optimized power delivery. All 3 models contain an integrated 600-ohm headphone amplifier to enhance the audio production in high-end equipment. Here is a complete rundown of the software package:

Instant in-game audio adjustment with Raid Mode
Strix Raid Mode lets gamers with Strix Raid DLX and Strix Raid Pro sound cards save their favorite audio adjustments into custom presets that they can instantly turn on or off with the dedicated Raid button on the included soundcard audio control box. This powerful feature ensures gamers will never miss a single moment of gaming action by having to pause their game and open software to adjust their audio settings. The audio control box also has a convenient control knob that lets users adjust the volume and the Raid Mode intensity level, while also doubling as an output-selector button to switch between headphones and speakers.

Simple audio configuration with Sonic Studio
Strix Raid DLX, Strix Raid Pro, and Strix Soar sound cards come with Sonic Studio, the next-generation sound utility from ASUS that provides gamers complete control over their sound card’s audio features. It features a beautiful, intuitive interface that groups a wide range of audio-adjustment functions together logically, making Sonic Studio both powerful and easy to use. Unlike typical audio utilities with multi-screen interfaces that make configuration complicated and time-consuming, Sonic Studio has an elegant all-in-one view that puts all the necessary controls on a single screen to make adjustments fast and easy for users.

The Sonic Studio interface groups key audio controls together based on function, making features easy to find and configuration error-free. The Audio Enhancement group features tools for fine-grained audio control, including an equalizer for adjusting the gain of specific frequencies, Bass Boost for deeper, more pronounced bass, Voice Clarity for making speech stand out more prominently in games and movies, and Compressor to adjust audio dynamic range. The Tuning group lets headphone listeners enable virtual surround-sound and configure the spaciousness of the effect using virtual adjustments of speaker placement and reverb. Finally, the Mic tuning group contains microphone configuration tools and features the Perfect Voice control. Designed for multiplayer gaming where communicating with teammates is especially important, Perfect Voice reduces background noise – such as keyboard and mouse clicks as well as people talking nearby – in speech signals to ensure clear, in-game voice communication.

Sonic Studio also includes controls for Sonic Radar Pro, a unique feature that precisely maps in-game sounds – such as footsteps and gunshots – and displays them on an on-screen overlay, so gamers can pinpoint their enemies for a competitive advantage in first-person shooters.

Do you use a dedicated sound card?

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information. 

Nvidia GTX 950 Round-Up Review: Three Cards Go Head to Head

Introduction


With all of the hype surrounding the GTX 900 series recently, it has been hard to imagine what the lower end of the graphics card market would hold for the refined Maxwell architecture. We originally saw Maxwell in the mighty GTX 750Ti, but it was only when the GTX 900 series was released that we received the Maxwell that we know today. Our reviews and news have focused heavily on the GTX 980Ti and Titan X graphics cards, so information on the GTX 950 has been scarce to say the least; that is about to change. In today’s review, there is not one, not two but three GTX 950’s in for punishment; the ASUS STRIX GTX 950 2GB, Inno3D iChill AIRBOSS ULTRA GTX 950 2GB and the MSI GAMING GTX 950 2GB.

The GTX 950 is hot off the manufacturing line and features some lack-luster, but pokey specifications; knowing NVIDIA, less is more and we should see a stormer of a graphics card here regardless. Most of the options will feature 2GB of VRAM due to the product placement, but we will see some 4GB models which should make for a very capable SLI configuration for not a great deal of money. So with a price tag of around £120 depending on the manufacturer, performance isn’t going to be outstanding compared to the bigger options. However, the estimated performance and price tag makes this an extremely attractive option for 1080p and online gamers. Personally, I feel that this GTX 950 will be the final piece in the puzzle for NVIDIA; it will then have a great graphics option at almost every price point.

Now just because the GTX 950 is aimed at the lower price market, do not assume that you are not getting the full NVIDIA treatment. As with almost every NVIDIA GPU you will get the following:

  • NVIDIA Surround
  • NVIDIA SLI
  • GPU Boost 2.0
  • NVIDIA G-Sync
  • DX12 Support

The GM206 GPU core makes its second appearance here since the GTX 960 options; however, it seems to have had a shave to bring the performance down. Would this be enough or will we see another Titan X and GTX 980Ti scenario here, let’s find out shall we.

AMD R9 Fury Details Exposed

We have recently received information of the upcoming AMD R9 Fury graphics card. What makes this particular card so special is the fact that manufacturers can add their own cooling solutions to the cards themselves; which is something that we missed with the R9 Fury X.

The information comes in the form of what seems to be the hardware guide for the card, which is supplied directly by AMD to their partners. Throughout the slides, we see general information that we already know from the Fury line-up, however; the last slide is particularly interesting. Contained within the slides, we see the reference to two card designs, the Sapphire Tri-X and the brand new ASUS Strix DCUIII; a peculiar thing is that AMD have used the Strix model for stock photos as well, could this mean that we are not going to see an AMD reference design at all?

Seeing the two models side by side allows us to look at the output ports, on the Fury X, we were missing the DVI port. This technology is aging, but it doesn’t force consumers to shop elsewhere or buy a new monitor just so they can use HDMI or DisplayPort. Thankfully, it seems ASUS has added a DVI port to its version.

We know now to take AMD performance figures with a relatively large pinch of salt. Here it shows the Fury outpacing the GTX 980 at 4K with ease; let’s hope AMD haven’t cut too much from the graphics core so these figures could hold truth.

Last, but not least, the figures, we can see that the processors have been cut down to 3584 from 4096, compute units down to 56 from 64 and texture units down to 224 from 256. These cutbacks see the performance drop by around 17% (compute and texture fill rate). What will be interesting is to see where the price vs performance ratio fits in against the current AMD lineup as well as the current Nvidia lineup.

We’ll bring you more information as soon as we have it.

ASUS STRIX R9 380 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


ASUS is one of the biggest names in the enthusiast technology market; with a product range including motherboards, AIO PC’s, and even internet routers, they know a thing or two about what makes a good product. They produce some of the best graphics cards on the planet with such innovative designs and production processes, it can make other companies shake.

Today we have in an ASUS STRIX R9 380 2GB. ASUS has introduced an entirely new production method with the R9 300 series, called Auto-Extreme. This new process introduces a highly automated production line, increasing longevity by removing all possible human error and with the eradication of flux; this increases the quality of joints and components. The R9 380 also brings new technology and features to the table, with the full support of DX12, Free sync technology, and passive cooling; this is set to be a great enthusiast graphics card. Why not take a look at the Auto-Extreme process here:

https://youtu.be/4gRpuurPsuc

The R9 380 range, in general, is based on the slightly ageing R9 285 graphics card PCB, this can only lead you to think why AMD want to push older technologies; is it to push more resources into new technology? We’ll find out today in this review.

The box follows a similar design to the rest of the newly introduced STRIX range. A striking outer sleeve with the key information and the essential documents to get you up and running.   

The cooling shroud follows a similar design to that of the previous STRIX cooler designs, this model also runs passively under low load circumstances.

Something ASUS always pleases me with is the backplate. Even on the lower models such as this, you get a stunning backplate that not only strengthens the card, but provides cooling support for the rear mounted components. Here we can see the behemoth 10mm cooling pipe, iconic of the DIRECT CU coolers from ASUS.

A close up on the power connection shows that this card gets all of its power from a single 8-pin PCI cable, great news for those looking for an upgrade with a lower wattage power supply.

At the business end of the card, we see the usual connections of 2x DVI, 1x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort.

 

Get Your Old Rig Gaming Ready on a Tight Budget

Introduction


Have you been looking at the latest graphics cards, then looking at your own PC and thinking you’ve got a gutless gaming rig? I know the feeling, the new cards can be very tempting, at least until you check your bank balance and remember you’re not rich. High-end hardware is great, but do you really need a $1000 Titan X to enjoy your favourite games? Nope. If you’re thinking that your current system is a little outdated, that you need to upgrade the whole thing to be able to enjoy the latest games, you’re wrong and I’m going to prove it.

Now I will admit, if you have a good bit of money saved up to replace your entire rig, go for it, it’ll be awesome. However, if your budget is limited and your system needs a new lease of life, we’re going to see how much improvement you can get for a modest investment of just £300 (approx $440 US)!

I’ll be starting out with a rather humble system, which features the hardware listed below, which I think you’ll agree is pretty unremarkable by today’s standards. The motherboard is an overclocking board, but we’ll be running at stock clocks to help better simulate an under powered system, it just happens to be the most suitable board I had at the time.

  • Dual-core i3 4330 3.5GHz
  • MSI GTX 560 Ti 1GB graphics card
  • ADATA 8GB 1600Mhz Memory 11-11-11-28
  • Gigabyte GA-Z97N Motherboard
  • Western Digital 500GB Hard Drive 7200RPM
  • Silverstone Kublai KL06 Chassis
  • Seasonic 600W 80+ Bronze PSU
  • CoolerMaster Gemini Low-Profile CPU cooler

I’ll be upgrading the system with the following components, then benchmarking it in some popular applications to compare how much the performance improves.

All prices correct at the time of writing.

As you can see, there’s nothing exciting about this system. Perhaps a couple of years ago, a system of this specification may have raised an eyebrow a little, but perhaps not so much today.

No SSD here, just a standard and rather well aged mechanical hard drive, so expect boot times to be enough to go and make a coffee.

The GPU has had a hard life, it’s actually the one we used to use for chassis reviews, so there’s are a few bumps and scrapes, but it’s still in perfect working order.

I’ve already benchmarked the system with this setup and we’ll get to the scores for that very soon, so let’s install our new Ballistix Sport memory, which has tighter timings than the old kit, it won’t be much, but it should give us that extra edge for very little investment.

The Crucial BX100, an absolutely incredible bargain at under £60 ($88 US); this will no doubt have a huge impact on the systems performance.

I’ll be using the new ASUS GTX 960 STRIX 2GB card for my upgrade.

It’s certainly one of the nicest GTX 960’s on the market right now and while I’m expecting great performance gains, it’s also aesthetically pleasing, so should provide a nice visual upgrade too!

The card also features more video outputs than the 560 Ti, giving you greater connectivity options.

It also features a nice back plate and only required a single 6-pin power connector vs the dual 6-in required by the GTX 560 Ti.

 

New components all installed, which only took about ten minutes to get them out of their respective boxes and plugged in.

The GTX 960 looking great!

Our new BX100 SSD.

Finally, the new Ballistix Sport memory.

Asus GeForce GTX 960 DirectCU II OC STRIX 2GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction and A Closer Look


Today we welcome the highly anticipated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 to the table. The GeForce GTX 960 is the 3rd iteration in the GTX 900 series. Based on the newest, most powerful NVIDIA Maxwell architecture to date, it hopes to bring 1440p and up gaming to those on a tighter budget. Nvidia has held information of this card close to their chest, but have given us a tantalising taste with their recent statement of it being an “Overclockers Dream”, supposedly reaching very high core clocks; insane capability for a midrange card. NVIDIA states that this card is aimed at the core gamers, with Steam users feedback outlining that 66% of users still game with the equivalent of a GTX 660 or below; that’s around the same performance as a Radeon 7850 for those in the Red corner. NVIDIA are keeping the same features that we’ve previously seen on the GTX 970/GTX 980 which were introduced with Maxwell such as MFAA (Multi-Framed Sampled Anti-Aliasing), allowing high detailed gaming at higher resolutions, perfect for 4k. With Maxwell, also brought much lower power requirements, lower operating temperatures, noise and electric bills.

The version we have here today is the Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 960. This particular model, STRIX being the ancient Roman word for owl, is Asus’ newest variation, incorporates the DirectCU II cooling style, but with more features and improved aesthetics. This particular model boasts 30% cooler operation with an impressive 0 decibel operation. This card comes with an awe inspiring overclock, with 2 presets of ‘Gaming’ and ‘Overclock’ modes for you to choose from. Nvidia has waited 4 months to release this graphics card, but has it been worth the wait?

The packaging style follows suit for the STRIX brand, incorporating the mechanical Owl as an eerie backdrop. Follow suit for the DirectCU II cooler advertisement, Asus display a slightly exploded view of the cooler housing and internals. Along the bottom of the box, the core features of the card are displayed. Contents include Asus’ SpeedSetup manual, driver disc and a DVI to VGA adapter.

The cooler shroud has its very distinctive Owl shape, keeping the colour theme very plain and simple with mere red highlights to break up the black. Asus make no attempt at hiding those distinctive 10mm cooling pipes at the base of the card. This model boasts an impressive passive feature while keeping the graphics card up to 30% cooler compared to reference design. The passive feature remains active for temperatures below 65°c, to allow for zero noise interference for light gaming sessions and general use.

Along the bottom, we get a better look at those behemoth cooling pipes and can get a sneak peek into the heatsink where all the magic happens to help it shave up to 30% cooling capability off the reference cards.

At the end of the card, its a very economic, the shroud ends just shy of the heatsink to allow for improved airflow around the fins.

Looking down onto the top of the card, you get a better feel for the size of it. With the cooling shroud and heatsink hanging around a 1/5th over the end of the card, you know this will stay nice and cool, even under intense gaming sessions. Equipped with a single 6-pin power connection and a single SLI connection, there is little distraction away from the STRIX logo.

The 6-pin power connection has an integrated LED to provide a visual representation for an incomplete setup. Red for incomplete and white for satisfactory installation of the power cable.

The back of the card retains the plain and simple look to the card, brushed metal with just a laser-etched Asus logo, very understated. The metal backplate provides extra protection to the PCB which helps lower the temperature. A bit of thought has gone into the logo placements, both upside down, so when mounted, they will be the correct way up; shame about the sticker placement though.

For such a small card, it doesn’t fall short of outputs. three full-sized DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x HDMI 2.0 and 1x DVI-i. It gives you the feeling that this can handle a multi-monitor setup with ease; the HDMI 2.0 port can handle 4k resolutions at 60Hz.

Asus STRIX DSP Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


ASUS have done a lot of good for the PC gaming community, not only have they created some of the best looking and performing graphics cards and motherboards on the market, but they’ve also created a stunning range of gaming peripherals. Their new STRIX range offers a lot of products that are packed full of gaming focused features and the DSP gaming headset is as feature packed as headsets come!

Having a high-performance gaming headset can reap huge rewards to your gaming experience, while I couldn’t say that most headsets will actually make you a better gamer, the ASUS STRIX DSP has a few features that could give you the edge in your favourite game. If you’re a fan of multiplayer games that have a team element, then you’ll certainly benefit from clear audio and a high-quality microphone. If you play at LAN gaming events or anywhere noisy, you’ll also benefit from environment noise cancelling technology. If you want surround sound to hear exactly where your enemies are coming from, it can make the difference between life and death (at least in the game). If you enhance the sound of your game to make footsteps or engine noises stand out more, it can make the difference between first and last place. Fortunately for gamers, the STRIX DSP ticks all these boxes and more, so let’s get right to it and see what it can really do!

The STRIX DSP is full of features, so it comes with a few extra cables to help you get the most out of the headset. You’ll find three high quality braided cables with gold-plated connectors; a full size USB cable to hook the base unit up to your PC as well as two mobile cables to provide support for the majority of handsets from brands like HTC, Apple, Samsung, Sony etc.

The base unit looks pretty cool and has all the major controls you could need within easy reach. There’s a large volume dial on the top with LED indicators around it, four control buttons for surround, amp, mic and speakers, as well as a three-way toggle wheel at the front of the unit.

The four control buttons are fairly self-explanatory and enable or disable various features.

There are four AMP modes available that can enhance different aspects of your game audio.

The smaller dial wheel has three options, mic, main and spectrum. Mic allows you to chance the microphone volume level from the main volume wheel, main is for master volume and spectrum is for picking the amp mode (seen above).

Around the back you’ll find two 3.5mm jack plugs, one to connect the headset and the other for the speaker line out. The speaker line out is a very welcome feature as you can enable or disable the headset from the base unit; no more mucking about behind your computer trying to swap cables over.

Around the other side you’ll find the USB-in.

The unit is a little light, but ASUS has fitted three large rubber grips to prevent it from sliding around your desk. There are two small switches, actually they’re freaking tiny switches, tiny and recessed right into the body; they’re near impossible to switch without the use of a pointy tool of some kind. Why they’re so inaccessible is beyond me, but when you do reach them, you’ll notice they control the environment noise cancellation and the surround sound mode.

The headset has a stunning overall design, with matte black plastic for the bulk of the finish and orange highlights on the back of the drivers.

Each drive has a clear back panel that gives the DSP a unique appearance. One thing that does stand out is that the ear cups are huge! Although I guess they need to be to fit 60mm drivers.

The headband is a fixed size, giving a lot of strength to the headset. There’s a secondary soft headband on the interior which is automatically adjusts to the user’s head; providing you with a comfortable fit.

The inner headband has four sections of thick padding for added comfort.

On the bottom of the drivers, you’ll find the headset is hard-wired with a braided cable and there’s a custom shaped socket for the boom microphone.

The headset has a semi-flexible boom to help you find a better speaking position; it also means the microphone is less likely to snap if knocked.

EK Releases ASUS GTX 970 Strix Full-Cover Water Block

If you have picked up one of the great ASUS Strix GTX 970 Graphics cards, or plan to, you might enjoy the news that EK WB introduced the new Full-Cover water block designed and engineered specifically for ASUS Strix series GTX 970 graphics cards and is called the EK-FC970 GTX Strix.

The new water block has been co-developed with ASUS’ ROG engineering team to achieve the best possible solution to cool the GPU, RAM and VRM as well as allowing the card to remain stable even under high overclocks. The EK-FC970 GTX Strix water block also features EK central inlet split-flow cooling engine which also works flawlessly with reverse water flow and without adversely affecting the cooling performance.

The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of either POM Acetal or acrylic. As with all EK WB products, screw-in brass standoffs are pre-installed and allow for safe and easy installation.

An aesthetic retention backplate will also be available in both black coloured and nickel versions. Not only will it look great but it will also aid to cool the backside of the PCB.

All these water blocks are made in Slovenia, Europe and are readily available for purchase through the EK Webshop and resellers now for an MSRP of €108.95.

Thanks to EKWB for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of EKWB

eTeknix 2014 Christmas Tech Buying Guide

Christmas time is almost here and as we wrap up warm over winter, we’re also wrapping up on a year of incredible products here at eTeknix HQ. We’ve had hundred of reviews this year, but no doubt many of you are eagerly writing your letters to Santa, or at least dropping hints to your parents, partner or friends for what you want for Christmas. Of course, there’s no doubt a fair few of you who are eager to treat themselves to something cool this Christmas. We’ve scratched our heads and had a really good think about what some of our favourite bits of technology are from this last year, and if you’ve still got some money left after the manic Black Friday sales, perhaps some of these products will be perfect for you.

While I admit that I couldn’t fit all of our favourites onto this list, its certainly a killer list of great products and they’ve all won awards from us here at eTeknix for one reason or another. If you’re after a headset, a chassis, a new keyboard, graphics card, or other cool gadget, you’ll find something that’s right for you in our guide.


Astro A38 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Astro A38 headset really stood out for me, not only is it one of the more stylish looking headsets I’ve ever reviewed, but the sound quality is nothing short of incredible. They’re a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for and Astro have yet to create a product that was anything less than stunning. They’re a perfect gift for yourself or someone else and ideal for those who love to listen to music and play games on the go, and the wireless technology and NFC pairing makes them very user friendly.

Check out our full review here – £144 from Astro Gaming


NZXT H440 Mid-Tower Chassis

A great PC deserves a great chassis and the H440 is certainly one of my all-time favourites. It’s not the biggest, and it may not even be the best chassis ever, that much is subjective, but it’s certainly got a lot of great features.  From the PSU shroud that helps keep cable management looking neat and tidy, to the comprehensive set of dust filters, thick sound dampening material lined panels and the large side panel window; you’ll find a lot to love about this chassis.

Check out our full review here – £89.99 from Overclockers


Thermaltake Core V71 Full Tower Chassis

Not all chassis’ are created equally, the Core V71 packs an incredible range of features that make it an ideal choice for high-end systems. The Thermaltake Core V71 looks great, but the real magic comes from its extreme flexibility. It has class leading radiator and fan mounting support and there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to build a stunning air-cooled system thanks to its array of 200mm pre-installed fans, or an incredible custom water cooling loop thanks to its modular interior. If you need extreme performance without spending crazy amounts of money, this chassis needs to be at the top of your list.

Check out our full review here – £131.34 from CCL Computers


Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard

Treating yourself to a high-quality mechanical keyboard is a solid investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, but their overall build quality and performance goes a long way to justifying the cost. The NovaTouch TKL isn’t your average mechanical and features something called Hybrid Capacitive Switches that offer a truly premium and luxurious typing experience. If you want to treat your fingers to a more enjoyable typing experience, try out this keyboard!

Check out our full review here – £149.99 from Overclockers


Zowie FK1 Gaming Mouse

I have yet to use a Zowie mouse that wasn’t impressive and the FK1 is by far one of their best. While this mouse only offers minor revisions over its previous model, such as a slightly larger body and an improved sensor, it’s performance is second to none. It’s ambidextrous, has one of the best performing sensors available, great ergonomics and a stylish design. If you’re serious about your gaming and want something that offers eSports levels of performance, then you’ll love what the Zowie FK1 has to offer.

Check out our full review here – £49.99 from Overclockers


Nvidia Shield Android 5.0 Gaming Tablet

Mobile gaming is something that never really excited me, but Nvidia have really pulled out all the stops with their Shield Tablet. It’s powered by the incredibly powerful Tegra K1 graphics chip and it’s one of the fastest tablets on the market. It recently received an update that added the latest Android 5.0 operating system, as well as enabling Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service and all this comes on top of features like in-home game streaming, 4K video output, wireless controller support and a whole lot more. The Shield Tablet is easily one of the most versatile portable on the market.

Check out our full review here – from £239.99 at Overclockers


Nvidia GeForce “Maxwell” GTX 970 Graphics Card

Nvidia are on our list once again, first they dominate the mobile gaming market, now they’re showing their worth once again in the desktop GPU market. While we admit that the GeForce GTX 980 is an incredible graphics card, you’ll not be disappointed by their GTX 970 as it offers most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much more affordable price tag. This card is packed with the latest features, it looks fantastic and for gaming, it’s one of the best cards you can buy right now. If you want to welcome your computer into the world of high-end PC gaming, this is a great place to start.

Check out our full review here (Asus Strix GTX 970) – from £247.99 at Overclockers


Asus Rampage V Extreme LGA 2011-3 Motherboard

Intel really set a new standard for PC performance this year with the launch of their consumer X99 chipsets. It’s not a cheap upgrade right now, but a new support for the latest high-end CPUs, DDR4 memory and a wave of new features make this motherboard perfect for the enthusiast and professional markets. The Asus Rampage motherboard series has long been a popular choice and the V Extreme is certainly one of the best available right now.

Check out our full review here – £329.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Z97X Gaming5 1150 Motherboard

Extreme motherboards are one thing, but they’re a little out of the reach of your average consumer. The Gigabyte X97X Gaming 5 series of motherboards offers a lot of exciting features that make them a great choice for high-end gaming PCs, without the colossal price tags that you’ll find with enthusiast grade products. We loved this motherboard when we review it and while the black and red colour scheme is getting a little bit repetitive in the gaming market, it’s still a great looking board that is perfect for a wide range of systems.

Check out our full review here – £109.99 from Overclockers


Gigabyte Brix Ultra Compact System

A lot of the fame and glory goes to big gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, loads of hard drives, water cooling and all that other crazy stuff, but this system turns all that on its head. The Brix may be small, but it packs enough power to be worthy of our Extreme Performance award! When space is limited, this little rig will fit on the back of your monitors VESA mount and it packs enough performance to get through a heavy workflow with ease. It’s a little expensive, but for a full-fledged PC that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, it’s a bargain!

Check out our full review here – £503.96 from Scan


PC Specialist Vortex 440 System

If you’re looking to upgrade to an X99 equipped system, then it’s likely that you’ll also be investing in DDR4 memory, a new CPU and a whole host of other components, so why not take all the fuss out of the process and invest in one of the best systems we’ve reviewed this year, the PC Specialist Vortex 440. We loved this system, partly because it was packed full of high-end hardware, but also because it was incredible value for money. Despite what the high price tag may suggest, the Vortex 440 actually worked out cheaper to buy than it would to build it yourself; now that’s a deal we can get behind!

Check out our full review here – around £1500 (customisable) from PC Specialist


OCZ Arc 100 240GB SSD

There’s a lot of SSD hard drives on the market right now and there are so many great ones that it’s now very easy to find one suitable for your system. The OCZ ARC 100 really stood out for us as it offers excellent performance, solid reliability, lots of features and it’s also competitively priced (per GB). Upgrading to an SSD is a great way to give your system a new lease of life, your system will boot faster and all of your games will benefit greatly from the speed boost. There is a cheaper 120GB model available, but the 240GB is the best balance of storage and value, making it a great choice for a boot drive.

Check out our full review here – £94.99 from Overclockers


Asus RT AC68U Dual Band Wireless Router

A really great router is something a lot of people overlook, it can be daunting spending a lot of money on tech like this, but the rewards soon pay for themselves. With more and more devices becoming internet connected, it’s likely that you’re not reaching the full potential of your devices networking capabilities. If you’re wanting to stream movies around your house from a NAS, play games online, while browsing the web from smartphones, tablets, consoles and other devices, then you’re going to see huge benefits from a router that can handle the most demanding workloads without sacrificing performance. The Asus RT AC68U looks great and offers a simple way to improve your home network. It’s expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.

Check out our full review here – £166.98 from Overclockers


Crucial 32GB 2133MHz Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Kit

DDR4 memory marks the first major update to RAM memory formats in desktop systems in years, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, should you choose to make the leap for your high-end X99 platform build, then you should really consider the Crucial 32GB 2133MHZ kit. If you’re not too bothered about the aesthetics, this memory really does impress in terms of performance and offers excellent value for money vs many of the other DDR4 products on the market.

Check out our full review here – £319.99 from Overclockers


So, what will you be asking Santa for this year?

ASUS Announces the Strix 7.1 True Surround Gaming Headset

ASUS is expanding their Strix Gamers series with the Strix 7.1 Gaming Headset. It is a true 7.1 surround headset as it has a total of 10 neodymium magnet drivers (5 per ear). The USB headset comes with an audio station for easy management of your audio profiles and pretty much everything a gamer could want from a headset.

The ASUS Strix has foldable ear cups that are cushioned with ultra-soft, full-size memory foam; 130mm across at its widest point and covered with protein leather. For easy transport or storage, the microphone is detachable.

The audio station features a headphone amplifier, 90% environmental noise cancellation for voice capture, and four game-audio spectrum profiles that enable gamers to tailor their audio experience to the type of game being played. With dedicated volume controls for each surround channel you can tune the balance just right for your taste and current played game. A switch to stereo is also possible at a push of a button. It has four pre-programmed profiles for FPS Gunfire, FPS Footsteps, Action RPG and Racing.

Thanks to Asus for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Asus

ASUS STRIX GeForce GTX 970 4GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


In May of this year ASUS decided to introduce a new product series into its graphics card line up, the STRIX line. STRIX first showed up on two ASUS graphics cards sporting the AMD R9 280 and the Nvidia GTX 780 GPUs. The headline feature was a 0dB fan operation mode below 65 degrees celsius operation. Shortly after those releases ASUS expanded the STRIX moniker to a range of gaming peripherals to try and create a comprehensive brand for gaming needs. In the graphics card space the STRIX series has phased out the primacy of the ASUS DirectCU series of graphics cards. Although, the term phased out should be used loosely since ASUS effectively market the STRIX GTX 900 series graphics cards as STRIX and DirectCU products at the same time. While confusing, the duality of the naming pattern allows clear recognition of what these STRIX GTX 900 series cards offer. They offer DirectCU II cooling solutions but also the STRIX 0dB fan mode.

Today we are reviewing the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 graphics card which is inspired by the DirectCU philosophy as we find a direct copper contact cooling solution with a pair of fans. ASUS have improved the power delivery to a DIGI+ 6 phase super alloy power design and to give end users some further benefits ASUS have pushed the clock speed up by about 65MHz too. The much paraded 0 dB fan mode is also equipped and I would also like to point out that other manufacturers have jumped on the passive fan bandwagon. MSI and EVGA are the most recent vendors to offer some mimicked variant of this.

Packaging and Accessories

The ASUS STRIX GTX 970 comes in a dual branded box as we’ve already mentioned: both DirectCU II and STRIX branding sits side-by-side. The accessory package is basic: a driver DVD and generic speed setup guide. No power or display adapters here.

ASUS STRIX GeForce GTX 970 Design Revealed

After much anticipation, the first images of Nvidia GeForce GTX 9xx cards have started leaking online. One of the first images to come our way is of the new ASUS STRIX GeForce GTX 970; unfortunately, it doesn’t look all that different from the current GTX 780 series cards.

The new design, or should I say old design, has been tweaked a little bit to better meet the needs of the graphics card. There are less heat pipes near the PCI-E interface; this is no surprise given that the new graphics card has a significantly reduced power consumption over the current generation of hardware.

The card features the popular DirectCU II cooling fans, these only start spinning when the card reaches 65 C to help keep thing nice and quiet when you’re not gaming; the fans can even start as low as 500RPM.

On the box you can see a few of the specifications for the card, such as the DIGI+VRM, 4GB of GDDR5 memory and a factory overclock; although the new clock speeds are still unknown.

Prices are estimated to cost between $400 – 450, with a release date of September 19th.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of VideoCardz.

ASUS Preparing STRIX Variant of AMD R9 285 “Tonga” GPU

The idea behind the ASUS STRIX range is that it can operate silently up until 65 degrees and then after that the fans will spin up. For that reason ASUS has only equipped it to power efficient GPUs, unsurprisingly that meant the GTX 780 saw a STRIX variant and the best AMD card that saw one was the R9 280 – anything above that is too hot-running for the STRIX cooler to be effective. With the R9 285 being released ASUS now has another STRIX variant up its sleeves thanks to the improved power efficiency of Tonga.

The star of the show is the ASUS STRIX cooling solution which features a hybrid fan mode, like you’ll see on many power supplies. The basic logic is that sub-65 degrees celsius the fans do not spin, after that they kick in with a pretty standard fan profile. The core of the cooling design is a DirectCU II implementation: a dense aluminium heatsink array supplemented by direct contact copper heat pipes and a pair of what appear to be 80mm fans. 

As the box denotes ASUS have factory overclocked the card, although by how much is anyone’s guess. This ASUS STRIX R9 285 graphics card will offer 2GB of GDDR5 although we may see a 4GB variant later down the line. Expect pricing to command a 10% or more premium over the R9 285 MSRP of $249.99. Availability will be from September 2nd – that’s 1 week tomorrow.

Source: VideoCardz

Images courtesy of VideoCardz

ASUS Announces a Whole List of New Gaming Accessories

ASUS is expanding on their Strix brand and not just with one or two new products. We see 5 new products aimed at the hardcore gamers: A new optical mouse, a mechanical keyboard, a headset and two new mouse pads.

Following the recent launches of the Strix Pro gaming headset and Strix R9 280 and GTX 780 graphic cards, ASUS are completing their Strix gaming-gear line-up that “sharpens gamers’ hearing and places everything under their control”.

Strix DSP gaming headset

The Strix DSP is a multi-platform gaming headset that comes with massive 60mm neodymium-magnet drivers and full-size hexagonal ear cushions. The environmental-noise-cancellation (ENC) technology used is said to filter out up to 90% of external noise. The headset is also fold-able for easy transport

The USB plug-and-play audio station that’s part of the Strix DSP package provides true 3D surround sound with Dolby® Headphone and Dolby Pro Logic® IIx technologies and with native 7.1-channel audio to virtual 7.1 surround sound process. It also has what I think is an amazing feature, a dedicated speaker jack and switch so you don’t need to fumble around with software settings.

The compatible is announced with PCs, Macs, the PlayStation® 4 games console and many smartphones and tablets.

Strix Claw

The Strix Claw is a 5000 DPI 8 button optical gaming mouse aimed at first-person-shooter gamers. It is using high-quality Omron D2F-01F switches and the DPI is adjustable down to 50 DPI steps. For serious snipers it also has a so called DPI Clutch to instantly reduce the sensitivity for getting that head shot every time.

It has 64KB on-board memory to remember gaming profiles and a small LED indicator for DPI status information.

Strix Tactic Pro

The Strix Tactic Pro is a new mechanical gaming keyboard, available with MX red (light no click), blue (light with click), brown (heavy with click) or black (heavy no click) keys that are rated for 50 million keystrokes.

To prevent ghosting the Strix Tactic Pro features N-Key Rollover with a switch to go back to 6-Key Rollover if needed. You have 13 dedicated macro keys at your disposal and you can chose to reassign F1 to F8 as well, giving you a total of 21 macro keys at your disposal. The keyboard supports both on-the-fly macro recording as well as with the bundled software.

In common with Strix Claw, Strix Pro offers a choice of software or plug-and-play hardware modes, enabling advanced personalization and easy installation for gaming on the go.


Strix Glider Control and Glide Speed

Not every game style benefits from the same surface, so ASUS have made two new mouse pads to work with both optical and laser mice. Both new mouse-pads are manufactured with fray-resistant edges for durability.

The Strix Glide Control is finished with a premium heavy-weave fabric, providing a textured surface for games that require fine control and absolute precision.

Strix Glide Speed is made for game-play that needs fast, efficient movement, with a fine-weave finish that allows the mouse to glide swiftly across the entire pad with zero hindrance.

Thank you ASUS ROG for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ASUS ROG.

ASUS Announces 0dB Strix R9 280 and GTX 780 Graphics Cards

ASUS announced their upcoming Strix R9 280 and GTX 780 graphics cards, which are dubbed to be 15% faster, 20% cooler and 3x quieter. The Strix series is also said to expand this year and incorporate other products such as exceptionally agile mice, super-cool gaming graphics cards, boundary-pushing keyboards and awesome gaming headsets.

The Strix ASUS version of the R9 280 and GTX 780 presents DirectCU II technology, giving the user a cooler, quieter and faster performance for high-end action gaming. In addition to the latter, the 0dB-cooling technology allows the graphics cards to offer total silence in gaming sessions.

ASUS DIGI+ voltage regulation modules are also featured on the graphics cards, providing enhanced stability and efficiency while the GPU Tweak feature provides simple overclocking and online streaming.

Both Strix R9 280 and GTX 780 graphics cards present a new exclusive fan design, which is said to be able to allow gamers to enjoy latest titles played in full HD ( 1920 x 1080 ) at environmental temperatures of 65˚C in total silence by stopping the fans. The temperature is then maintained with the help of highly conductive 10mm copper cooling pipes in direct contact with the card’s GPU, along with a heat-sink that delivers a heat-dissipation area which is 220% larger than reference.

In terms of specs, the ASUS Strix R9 280 comes with 3GB of GDDR5 memory and a 384-bit memory interface, having the GPU clocked at 980 MHz and memory clocked at 5200 MHz. Looking at the output ports, the graphics card presents one DVI-D, one DVI-I, one HDMI and one Display Port.

The ASUS Strix GTX 780 however features 6GB of GDDR5 memory and a 384-bit memory interface, having the GPU clocked at 889 MHz base and can go up to 941 MHz when boosted while the memory is clocked at 6008 MHz. In terms of connectivity, the output ports seem to be similar to the R9 280, having one DVI-D, one DVI-I, one HDMI and one Display Port.

No confirmed release date and price has been announced for the two graphics cards, but more details can be found on ASUS’ official website.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of VideoCardz