Designed specifically for Apple products such as iPads, iPhones and iPods, the new JetDrive Go 500 Flash Drive has been released not too long ago by Transcend. What makes this flash drive stand out among its peers is that it features a high-quality alloy construction that gives it a lighter feel and a more compact look when compared to previous offerings. As far as connectivity goes, the JetDrive Go 500 incorporates a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector as well as a Lightning connector, which makes it ideal for transferring files from Apple handheld devices to regular computers and vice versa. Moreover, the JetDrive Go App eliminates potential storage space issues by allowing users to capture photos and videos directly on the JetDrive Go 500 flash drive.
Available in silver and gold versions, this product comes with a sleek alloy casing and an extended Lightning connector that ensures a plus of compatibility with oversized protective bumper cases. Performance-wise, this connector can reach transfer speeds of up to 20MB/s while the USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector can reach up to 130MB/s. Transcend’s JetDrive Go 500 is backed by a two-year limited warranty, and it was released in 32 GB and 64 GB storage versions, which means that it can definitely meet and surpass modern storage requirements.
USB 3.1 is the newest generation and it brings quite a few improvements over the previous generation, such as the double bandwidth capabilities. The trouble with new generations of connectors is that you’ll also need to upgrade your system to use them, at least if you got an older one. Luckily you don’t need to upgrade your entire system, you can just use an expansion card. SilverStone just released the ECU03 which is such a card and it will give your system both a USB 3.1 Type A and a USB 3.1 Type C connector.
The SilverStone ECU03 offers 10 Gbps bandwidth for excellent throughput and transfer rates, especially when multiple external drives are attached simultaneously and otherwise would create bottlenecks. The ECU03 fully supports the eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) that makes it driverless for an easy installation. The expansion card also supports the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) that increases the overall throughput by handling multiple requests at the same time.
USB is by definition highly compatible and the card is naturally backward compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices. Motherboard support is secured through the use of a PCI-Express Gen2 x2 interface that most stationary PCs will have available for use. Even small form factor (SFF) systems are supported as the card is designed to be low-profile. SilverStone also includes a low-profile expansion slot bracket with the card right out of the box.
Includes SuperSpeed USB 3.1 external USB Type-C connector
SuperSpeed USB 3.1 with Type A and Type C ports
PCI-E Gen2.0 x2, throughput up to 10Gbps
Compliant with eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) specification Revision 1.1
Compliant with USB Attached SCSI Protocol Revision 1.0 (UASP)
Includes optional low-profile slot cover for supporting low profile cases
Since the release of Intel’s Z170 chipset, MSI has unveiled a fantastic, feature-rich motherboard range which caters to contrasting user demands. For example, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON is an excellent choice for consumers wanting a stylish black colour scheme and great reliability at an affordable price point. In contrast to this, the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Edition‘s gorgeous aesthetic design makes it one of the most innovative LGA1151 motherboards on the market. Of course, the iconic dragon styling on many MSI products have become a popular choice among the core gaming demographic. This red and black theme compliments mainstream hardware and retails at very competitive prices across various performance tiers.
The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 is a mid-range motherboard sporting an attractive design and impressive specification. More specifically, the product is capable of housing two PCI-E M.2 storage devices and has support for USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity. Not only that, the motherboard includes a one year premium XSplit license and Nahimic audio enhancements. As you might expect, many of MSI’s leading technologies are incorporated such as DDR4 Boost, Game Boost and much more. Given this particular model’s astonishing software suite and military class components, I expect to see it rival higher priced offerings rather well. Could this be the best value Z170 motherboard thus far for high-end users? Let’s find out!
Packing and Accessories
MSI always does a phenomenal job when it comes to packaging design and the Z170 GAMING M5 is no different. The bold colours and stunning product snapshot contrasts extremely well. This is one of the most eye-catching motherboard boxes I’ve seen and showcases the motherboard’s beautiful appearance.
On the opposite side, there’s a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s key selling points such as support for 3-way crossfire, 2-way SLI and Audio Boost 3.0. This is presented in a slick manner and doesn’t alienate the end-user with technical jargon.
In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a user’s guide, driver’s disk, metal case badge, I/O shield, SLI bridge, registration details, basic installation guide and four SATA cables. Please note, the press sample I received was previously used by another media so there’s only 3 SATA cables displayed in the photograph. Rest assured, the retail version will include four and be packaged without the need for an elastic band.
ASUS have compiled a comprehensive Z170 motherboard range which caters to different sections of the consumer market. For example, the GAMING PRO line-up offers superb functionality and impeccable stability at an affordable price point. ROG products evoke a more premium feel and includes a stunning software suite for power users. The Sabertooth brand revolves around a stringent testing procedure to ensure each motherboard exhibits unprecedented reliability. The extreme thermal testing and deployment of TUF components prioritizes long-term durability. As a result, it’s a great option for consumers who demand a very high-end motherboard and have no intentions of upgrading in the near future.
Typically, motherboards opt for a red and black colour scheme because it’s the most popular option among the core gaming audience. Some time ago, ASUS unleashed the limited edition Z97 Sabertooth Mark S which utilizes an innovative white PCB and military camouflage. It’s quite rare to see motherboard sporting a white theme and while there is some competition from the MSI Krait series, ASUS is the only manufacturer to offer a pure white PCB.
The Sabertooth Z170 S is the spiritual successor to the Z97 Sabertooth Mark S and features a very unusual design philosophy. When adopting such a wacky colour scheme, it’s bound to have a polarizing reception and I’m fascinated to hear feedback on ASUS’ aesthetic choices. Looking beyond the visual aspects, I’m expecting to see some very impressive numbers given the premium electronics and DIGI+ Power Control.
Packing and Accessories
The motherboard’s box is characterized by a white finish and contains camouflage highlights. This provides a great insight into the product’s unconventional styling and creates a web of intrigue. On the front, information regarding the 5 year warranty is displayed in a clear manner.
Moving onto the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the product’s thermal radar monitoring made possible by the TUF ICe processor. On another note, the packaging outlines the rear I/O connectivity and basic motherboard layout.
Included in the package is a user’s guide, M.2 screws, driver’s disk, case badge, certificate of reliability, stickers and a gorgeous white I/O shield. As someone who loves the technical details of motherboards, it’s fantastic to read the reliability assessment document. Here, you can browse information regarding a huge array of tests such as moisture resistance, thermal shock, solder bath, salt spray and more!
There’s also four SATA cables, a Q Connector, CPU installation tool, back I/O dust cover and SLI bridge. The Q Connector is a really handy tool which eliminates the frustration factor when attaching front panel headers. Furthermore, the CPU installation tool is designed to minimize the contact time and pressure between your fingers and the CPU. While it’s not necessary for veteran builders, it could prevent beginners from causing damage during the build process.
We have tested quite a few of SilverStone’s storage solutions in the past and while the new TS11-C external hard drive docking station might look like previous models, it is special as it comes with the newest technologies. In the past, we have been limited by the USB 3.0 protocol and its maximum 5Gbps transfer speeds even though we connect a 6Gbps capable drive to the docking station. SilverStone’s new TS11-C should make up for this as it uses the USB 3.1 connector for a transfer speed of up to 10Gbps.
SilverStone’s TS11-C is an external hard drive docking station that is made to accommodate either a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive at speeds up to 10Gb/s with its USB 3.1 Gen2 capability and it also features the new Type-C connector. Since USB is plug and play, as long as you have your USB drivers installed, which also means that this docking station is plug and play. You don’t need any additional drivers to get going, just plug it in, add a drive and turn it on. It is almost a given with a docking station like this, but it’s still worth highlighting that the TS11-C supports USB Attached SCSI protocol (UASP) which allows much better transfer rates in systems that support this compared to those who don’t.
The body itself is gold coloured and made of aluminium. This aids the passive unit itself to stay cool, but it also helps the inserted drive to dispose of its heat. This isn’t as much an issue when used with solid state drives, but mechanical drives need quite a bit of cooling. The cover itself is made of plastic to prevent your drives from being scratched. The top slot cover is a two-piece item that automatically folds back as you insert a drive. The small gap for 2.5-inch drives also helps with the positioning on top of the connector.
The docking station is built around an ASMedia ASM1351 chipset that provides this unit with its USB 3.1 Gen2 capability with speeds up to 10Gbps through the Type-C connector. The included USB cable uses a normal type USB connector which also makes it easy backward compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1. The internal SATA3 interface is also backward compatible with SATA2 and SATA1 drives, as it should be.
With an external device like this that is highly portable, you might want to take it on the road with you too in order to connect extra storage to your mobile devices such as laptops and modern smartphones. SilverStone thought of this too and added a power adapter with exchangeable plugs to be used in pretty much every place on earth no matter what plug type or voltage available.
USB 3.1 type-C connector with Gen2 up to 10Gb/s super speed transfer rate
Supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) function for even faster performance
Aluminum body with tool-free and tray-less design
Supports all 2.5 and 3.5-inch SATA drives up to any capacity
Plug & play with support for hot-swapping
Multinational adapter socket included
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers information and might as such be subject to changes in possible future revisions of the product.
Package and Accessories
The box uses the same gold colour as the device and is overall a great looking product packaging. The front shows how the docking station looks and tells you what it is.
The rear of the box contains the specifications and a few more details about the docking station and what drives it can take.
Inside the box, we find a USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-A connector, a user manual, and the multi-regional power adapter next to the docking station itself.
There can be many reasons why you would want to add some external storage to your system and there are about as many different possibilities as there are reasons. One of the easiest ways to connect storage to your system is via a USB docking stations. Whether you have a notebook or stationary system, this allows you to connect any normal internal drive to your system externally.
Sharkoon just released a new docking station that can do this with ease and it is one that also sports the newest type of USB connection: USB 3.1 Type-C. The new docking station is literarily called what it is as it is called Sharkoon QuickPort USB 3.1 Type C. While the docking station itself features the tiny and reversible Type-C connector, it connect to any normal sized Type-A USB port on your system by the included cable.
Whether you want to use 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drives in this docking station, it’s covered and it will work just as well as you can connect the docking station or older USB ports such as normal 3.0 or 2.0. Both SATA and USB are backward compatible which allows you to connect this modern enclosure no matter what hardware you have – but you naturally won’t get the impressive 10Gbps speeds possible from the USB 3.1 or the 6Gbps from the SATA3 when you connect slower drives or use an older connection standard. But it is great to have the option.
Should you not have a system with USB 3.1 yet, then Sharkoon fittingly also introduced a new add-in card to give you just this. The new host controller features both a Type-A and a Type-C USB 3.1 connector on the rear and plugs into your normal PCI-Express x4 or bigger slots.
Both new Sharkoon items are built around ASMedia’s controllers and that is a company with a lot of experience in the field. The docking station is powered by an ASMedia ASM1351 bridge controller while the add-in card is powered by an ASMedia ASM1142 USB host controller.
Both new Sharkoon USB 3.1 devices are available now. The docking station has a suggested retail price of €39.99 while the host card is a little cheaper with a suggested retail price of €29.99.
Intel’s current iteration of enthusiast processors offering impressive overclocking headroom incurs a fairly hefty premium compared to the previous generation especially if you’re opting for the i7-6700K. Unfortunately, the retail version of this CPU sporting a 3 year warranty still teeters around the £300 mark, and falls into a similar budget to the 6-core 5820K. The real savings when selecting the Z170 chipset revolve around cheaper motherboards which usually cater towards the gaming demographic with LED illumination, unusual colour schemes and a comprehensive software suite. It’s astonishing to see the kind of performance and bundled list of features on products under £100. At this price, there’s fierce competition and some manufacturers have struggled to outline the value of H170/B150 alternatives due to the narrow difference to affordable Z170 options.
The latest motherboard from Gigabyte targets the mainstream audience utilizing a single discrete graphics card, and overclocked Skylake processor. While it does technically support Crossfire, the lack of x8/x8 functionality might be a deal breaker for users wanting the absolute maximum bandwidth. There’s also no support for SLI setups either which may be a contentious issue. To be honest, I don’t see this as a huge problem because the motherboard retails for approximately £95 and dual card configurations are fairly niche in today’s market. Despite the very low price, Gigabyte has still implemented 32Gb/s M.2 storage, a great audio solution and USB 3.1. From the outset, it seems Gigabyte managed to achieve this excellent specification on a budget by removing SLI support. I’m interested to see the stock performance numbers though compared to high-end solutions and determine the motherboard’s credentials. Could this be the best value gaming Z170 motherboard ever released? Let’s find out!
Packing and Accessories
The Z170-Gaming K3 is packaged in a visually appealing box showcasing the attractive dual tone PCB design. This draws you into the product and evokes a sense of excitement prior to the unboxing process.
On the rear, there’s a huge description regarding the motherboard’s high-speed connectivity, premium audio hardware and networking with traffic prioritization for gaming purposes. This is presented in an easy to understand manner, and the clear pictures do a great job of relaying technical information without bamboozling the end-user.
In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with an I/O shield, user’s guide, G Connector, case badge and SATA cables opting for a very stylish metallic look. This is the first time I’ve seen a color of this ilk but I have to admit it’s a nice touch and looks fantastic. The G Connector is really useful when connecting those fiddly front panel connectors and improves the user-experience when building a new system. Other additions include a rather fetching door hanger, drivers disk, and World of Warships content code.
ASUS already got a lot of praise for their tiny Mini PCs and they’ve just announced two new systems in the series. The two new systems are called the VivoMini VM65N and the VivoMiniVM65 and they are impressive, compact, 2-liter systems that still pack quite a punch. The systems are built with Intel Skylake i3 or i5 CPUs and come with discrete Nvidia 900M series graphics card to deliver a smooth 4K visual experience and casual gaming. Don’t misunderstand this, it isn’t for gaming in 4K, naturally.
The new system can be equipped with up to 16GB DDR4 memory to be the backbone for the either an i5-6200U CPU in the VM65N and a VM65 uses an i3-6100U CPU. It also only the N model that features the Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card with 1GB DDR3 memory while the VM65 relies on the Intel HD Graphics 520 iGPU. Both come with ASUS SonicMaster-enhanced audio to make them an ideal choice for a daily computing platform or home entertainment hub.
The tiny 2-liter systems only support one 3.5-inch drive, but you can also mount two 2.5-inch drives via Vivo DualBay adapter, effectively turning them into one as far as the system is concerned. You can get the VM665 series with either a 3.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 7200rpm HDD, 2.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 5400rpm HDD, or 2.5-inch 128GB or 256G SSD out of the box.
The VM65N comes with two USB 3.1 ports that the smaller model doesn’t have, but other than that the connections are the same. You get four USB 3.0 ports, one RJ45 LAN port, HDMI and DisplayPort with UHD 4K support, a card reader, and audio connections.
The price naturally variates based on model and the drives you want it to come with and not all models will be launched in all regions or at the same time. In the United Kingdom the VM65N will launch with a single SKU VM65N-G018Z model that features an i5-6200U CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD, GT930M 1GB GPU, Win 10 64bit OS, Intel Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi+ BT, and with a Wireless Keyboard & Mouse included. This system will then set you back £549.99.
Intel recently released their Greenlow based Skylake series Xeon CPUs and it’s a pleasure to take a look at the first enterprise-grade motherboard built for these processors today. I have Supermicro’s X11SAE motherboard on the test bench which is a standard ATX-sized single CPU board, but one with all the trimmings.
“Supermicro’s new X11 UP workstations, long-life embedded systems and motherboards integrate the latest technologies such as USB 3.1 and M.2 as well as step up performance, density and efficiency to provide a new generation of Green Computing solutions,” said Charles Liang, President and CEO of Supermicro. “Indeed, with Supermicro’s first-to-market integration, advanced engineering and architecture expertise, we deliver the widest range of Skylake-S platforms available to the industry, enabling our customers with exactly the best competitive advantage on the market.”
Supermicro’s X11SAE doesn’t just support the new Greenlow Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 family CPUs, you can also use 6th Gen Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium, and Celeron series processors. The brain behind the motherboard is the new C236 chipset which comes with a lot of enhancements over the predecessors and Supermicro generally added the newest technologies to this motherboard. Additionally, the motherboard supports up to 64GB DDR4 2133MHz ECC UDIMMs in its 4 sockets. While this motherboard does support ECC and non-ECC modules, it doesn’t support RDIMMS, so make sure you get the right ones.
There are plenty of storage features on this motherboard with the eight native SATA3 6 Gbps ports provided directly by the chipset. The ports support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 for that extra spice in your storage setup and the motherboard also has two SuperDOM ports with built-in power. You’ll also find a next-gen PCIe M.2 slot beside the default SATA3 ports, allowing you to get that extra speed. The M.2 slot doesn’t support AHCI modules, but 2242, 2260, and 2280 PCIe modules will run at a great speed thanks to the x4 slot.
Further expansion can be added through the two PCI-E 3.0 x16 and three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. The Supermicro X11SAE also features two legacy 5V PCI 32-bit slots for use with older hardware despite the upgrade to the newest platform.
Externally the X11SAE has two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 LAN ports where one is powered by an Intel i210-AT and the other is powered by an Intel i219LM chip. There’s also a DVI, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI out for use when processors with iGPU are inserted into the motherboard. Further, you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 ports on the rear IO area. The USB 3.1 ports sport the increased bandwidth and power which allows it to run with up to 10Gbps.
Internally you can connect an additionally four USB 3.0 and size USB 2.0 ports. The motherboard also features two COM port headers, an ALC 888S 7.1 HD Audio chip, a TPM 1.2 header, and much more.
A workstation motherboard also needs a good set of monitoring abilities. You can connect up to five PWM fans with status monitor for speed control, on/off settings, and tachometer. The temperature monitoring includes the CPU and chassis environment as well as CPU thermal trip support and I2C temperature sensing logic and Thermal Monitor 2 (TM2) support.
As a Supermicro motherboard, we also have the benefits of their SuperDoctor 5 software that monitors system health of hardware and operating system services from the target nodes in real-time and provides alerts to administrators on the availability of systems in data centers.
The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers product page and can as such be subject to changes in future revisions of the product.
Single socket H4 (LGA 1151) supports: Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5, Intel 6th Gen. Core i7/i5/i3 series, Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium
Intel C236 chipset
Up to 64GB Unbuffered ECC/non-ECC, UDIMM DDR4 2133MHz; 4x DIMM slots
2 PCI-E 3.0 x16 (run at 16/NA or 8/8), 3 PCI-E 3.0 x1 (in x4), and 2 5V PCI 32-bit slots
Single GbE LAN with Intel i210-AT, Single GbE LAN with Intel i219LM
6x USB 3.0 (2 rear + 4 via header), 8x USB 2.0 (2 rear + 6 via headers), 2x USB 3.1 (10Gbps, rear)
Packaging and Accessories
The Supermicro X11SAE comes in a neutral package and that’s all that’s needed for a board like this. It isn’t one you’ll find on a shelve in the local store while browsing around, it’s one your order because you know it’s the one you want. There’s still a sticker on the side that will tell you what’s inside and what the base specifications are.
The rear of the box explains a little bit about the series of motherboards which this one is part off. You get basic information about the series as well as a quick view of optimized chassis and systems.
Inside the box we find four SATA3 cables and the IO shield next to the motherboard itself.
MSI announced a new addition to their lineup of mini-PCs with the release of the new MSI Cubi 2 Plus. The new Cubi 2 Plus is built on the same principle as other mini-PCs where modern technology meets a space-saving design. This is also a system that will speak equally to normal consumers like you and me as well as businesses that want the benefits from a powerful system without the size restraints.
This new generation Cubi comes with the new mini-STX motherboard form factor that is about 29% smaller than a mini-ITX motherboard and making it the smallest motherboard with a socket design available. This is a new thing for miniPCs and it will allow you to easily upgrade the CPU should it be needed. You are still limited to the Skylake-S processors, but that in return makes the Cubi 2 Plus a very energy-efficient device that and uses less power.
The Intel H110 chipset used will allow you to install up to 32GB DDR4 memory to run at speeds up to 2133MHz. Internally you can attach one M.2 SSD and one 2.5-inch SATA drive which should be plenty local storage. Externally the Cubi 2 Plus offers both USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1, and USB 2.0 with super charger function. It has normal Gigabit Ethernet LAN powered by an Intel i219LM controller and dual-band wireless support via an M.2 adapter.
Overall, this is a system that seems to have it all and the only weak point, if you could call it that, is the use of Intel HD graphics. You still get support for dual-monitor setup through the HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.
The new MSI Cubi 2 Plus is scheduled to be globally available by the beginning of March 2016. Next to the normal Cubi 2 Plus there also will be a vPro edition with support for Intel’s® vPro technology. With all the security benefits it now also features Intel Unite. Intel Unite lets you easily set up meetings with colleagues that are all around the world and supports sharing up to 4 screens at the same time.
Windows 10 Home
DDR4 2133HMz up to 32GB
6th Intel® Skylake-S power saving processor
Equipped with USB3.1 Gen1 type C
Maximum to 1 x M.2 SSD and 1 x 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD
Supports 4K ultra-high definition resolution
Supports Dual monitors
Special USB2.0 port on the top of the case with supercharger
SanDisk, sensing the growing popularity of USB Type-C, has released its first range of dedicated thumb drives featuring the new reversible connector standard, boasting USB 3.1 transfer rates and up to 128GB of storage.
The SanDisk Ultra USB Type-C, available in 128GB, 64GB, 32GB, and 16GB models, has sequential read speeds of 150MB/s (except for the 16GB version, which reads at up to 130MB/s), beating the speeds of its previous USB Type-C drive, the Dual USB Drive Type C, which could only manage read speeds of 60MB/s. The drives are also backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 Type-C ports. The devices also support the SanDisk Memory Zone app to manage and backup data across different devices.
“The super-thin SanDisk Ultra USB Type-C flash drive is designed specifically for next-generation devices with the new USB Type-C port. The reversible connector has a uniform design, so that it’s always right-side up, making it easy and fast to plug in,” the SanDisk website reads.
The SanDisk Ultra USB Type-C is available now in the US – priced at $12.99 for the 16GB model, $17.99 for the 32GB, $27.99 for the 64GB, and $49.99 for the 128GB on Amazon – with the flash drive set to hit Europe and other territories any day now. Each model comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
One of the downsides with compact mobile devices such as two-in-one, ultrabooks, and tablets is the lack of connection ability. They all have a USB connection, but beyond that, it is very limited. Luckily you can do a lot with adapters and SilverStone just released two new USB 3.1 Type-C adapters where the one adds a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 network port and the other adds an HDMI port that’s capable of 4K video output.
The first of the two new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapters is the EP05 and it is a compact Gigabit Ethernet network adapter in beautiful all white colored design. The adapter uses the Realtek RTL8153 chipset which offers TCP Offload Engine and it also supports advanced IEEE features such as 802.1Q VLAN tagging and 802.3az among others. The Realtek chipset offers both normal Wake On LAN (WOL) as well as RealWoW that allows you to wake your system over the internet too.
The EP05 would be a great addition to notebook computers such as MacBooks that do not have network port at all on their own. Naturally it is downwards compatible all the way to 10Mbps and USB 1.1 connections and it works driverless on Windows 8 or newer systems. Windows 7 and earlier will need to download and install drivers first.
The second new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapter is called the EP07 and it provides you with an easy way to add an extra HDMI port to your system. The SilverStone EP07 doesn’t just support USB 3.1 input and HDMI output, it also supports flexible USB 3.1 Type-C switching for DP 1.2 Alt Mode.
The EP07 Supports HDMI 1.4 and also former versions for older devices, but sadly no official HDMI 2.0 support. That doesn’t mean that you can’t connect a HDMI 2.0 display to it, you just don’t get the advantages. It supports content protection of HDCP Rx and Tx keys and it can display resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30Hz with DP1.2 in SST mode.
Both SilverStone adapters work without extra power input which makes them highly portable. They don’t weigh much either, which always is a great feature in accessories for mobile devices.
Both the SilverStone EP05 and EP07 adapter will be available next week for a recommended end user price of $18.15 USD for the EP05 and $22.11 USD for the EP07 (excl. VAT).
SilverStone has been on a frenzy lately, releasing a lot of new products. Among them are two new PCI-Express add-in cards that could come in very handy and add some modern features or extra functionality to your system. The two new PCI-Express cards are the ECS03 2-port Hardware RAID SATA controller and the other is the ECU04 internal USB 3.1 add-in card.
The SilverStone ECS03 is a PCIE-Express Gen.2 x2 add-in card that will give you system another two SATA3 ports. The card has an ASMedia 1062R controller that supports RAID 0, RAID 1, SPAN, and non-RAID modes. The controller supports normal SATA 6Gbps drives and it’s backwards compatible with previous SATA generations. It also supports port multiplier for those that wish to split the ports up or use it with external multi-drive enclosures. The low-profile design also makes sure that it’ll fit almost any chassis and setup.
The SilverStone ECU04 is a PCI-Express card that will add an internal USB 3.1 19-pin header to your system, allowing you to get speeds up to 10 Gbps. The card is compliant with both the eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) specification Revision 1.1 and the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) Revision 1.0 to give you maximum compatibility and performance. The ECU04 also comes with a low-profile slot cover for usage in SFF builds. The extra power requirements to the card will be provided through the normal SATA power connector on the card.
Thanks to the XHCI support, you won’t need any drivers for the ECU04 on operating systems that support this, and most do. Windows 7 users will need to install the provided drivers, but everyone else should have a plug and play experience.
The ECS03 comes with an MSRP of 40.15 USD and the ECU04 has an MSRP of 29.59 USD. Both cards should be available now. Does your system have enough of these ports or are you tempted by either of these new cards. Let us know in the comments.
It came as quite a surprise when GIGABYTE first mentioned their new AMD socket AM3+ based motherboards about a month ago and quite a few people were shocked by this news. But there can be a lot of benefits in these two new AM3+ based GIGABYTE motherboards, benefits that some people might not have considered.
The most likely scenario for these new motherboards is probably one where the old motherboard has died or generally just starts to bug around. It is time for a replacement despite that the user might originally have intended to wait for one of the new CPU architectures such as Intel’s upcoming Extreme series or AMD’s own Zen-based series. You could buy an up to six years old motherboard and gain nothing, or you could get one of GIGABYTE’s new ones and get a lot of benefits from modern technology and advancements that have been made since the AM3+ socket was introduced in 2009.
The two new motherboards are the GA-990FX-Gaming and GA-970-Gaming that both got the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming treatment. They come with an M.2 connectors that can transfer with up to 10Gb/s on the 970-based board and 20Gb/s on the 990FX-based.
Both can utilize NVMe and SATA drives, but you naturally you won’t reap the full benefits of an NVMe drive with 10Gb/s speeds. It would still be great and the board is able to use these modern drives with the result being a much faster systems and one that takes less CPU usage than an equivalent SATA version.
GIGABYTE also added USB 3.1 and USB Type-C connectors to these motherboards, allowing you to use the newest peripherals too. This again allows you to move forward with all other aspects of your system while you wait for one of the new hot platforms to be released.
The bigger of the two boards comes with three PCI-Express x16 slots and the smaller only has two, but both support dual-graphics solutions and you can add up to 32GB DDR3 memory to both. Another nice touch on the PCI-Express slots is the use of the exclusive ultra durable metal shielding that will give the slots more durability.
Being boards in the G1 Gaming series, these boards also come with great network and audio solutions. The Audio is taken care of by an 115dBB SNR HD Audio system with built-in rear audio amplifier and high-quality audio capacitors as well as the Audio Noise Guard with Ambient LED Trace Path Lighting to prevent interference. The network connection is provided by a KillerNIC E2200 network controller.
GIGABYTE didn’t reveal any pricing or availability, but considering that they are launched now they should be available soon and the pricing should be close to the predecessors.
SilverStone has quite a few external docking solutions for both SSDs and HDDs, but they newest of them that’s just been released is the fastest of them all. This is at least the case when we exclude the external RAID solutions. The new external docking station from SilverStone is called the TS11-C (SST-TS11G-C) and it comes with a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 connector with up to 10Gb/s super speed transfer rates.
Besides the connection options, the TS11-C is a pretty ordinary desktop styled docking station for hard disk drives and solid state drives. It can take SATA drives with a 2.5-inch form factor of any height as well as 3.5-inch drives. Just plug them in from the top and turn the docking station on. The docking station supports plug-and-play as well as hot-swapping of the drives for even easier usage.
The body of the TS11-C itself is made of aluminium while the top cover is made of plastic-ABS. The top is black while the rest of the unit has been gold coloured. A fitting colour for a premium docking station like the TS11-C is. While it comes with the newest standards in both USB and SATA, it is backwards compatible on both to previous generations. The operating system support is specified to Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, and future releases of Mac OS 10.5 or above.
SilverStone made sure to use a controller chip, the ASM1351, that supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for the fastest possible transfer speeds and prevent bottlenecks on the USB connection.
A 2.5-inch SSD will easily get enough power through a USB connection, but a 3.5-inch hard disk drive will draw too much power. For this, the TS11-C comes with a 12V DC adapter and it also has a very convenient power button that allows you to have it connected all the time without actually using it.
SilverStone’s new TS11-C will be available on January the 28th for a recommended end user price of $53.35 USD (excl. VAT). We will also have a review ready for you on just this docking station very soon, so stay tuned for more.
Patriot Memory introduces four new USB flash drives with a large 128GB capacity yet packed in a compact form factor. The new USB flash drives use a USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface but are fully backwards compatible with previous USB standards. The drives are small and large, but they don’t feature the best overall performance. But one can’t expect wonders from such small drives with such large capacity. The drives are rated for speeds up to 110MB/s reading and 20MB/writing.
Pictured above is the Patriot Vex and it is the first of the four new drives. The Vex is perfect for the consumer looking for a pop of color, but minimalist design. The 128GB Vex will be available in a bright green coupled with a black plastic top for better grip while inserting and ejecting.
The Patriot Tab flash drive is probably the simplest it can get and speaks to those looking for a truly minimalistic design. It has a small eyelet at the top for attachment to a key ring or similar and at the same time it aids when ejecting the drive.
The Spart features a metal uni-body design that makes it seamlessly disappear into any device. A perfect grab-and-go drive, allowing the user to take their files wherever they please.
The last of the four new drives that got a capacity boost is the Supersonic mini. The compact, rubberized, and rugged, flash drive is built to withstand a beating and comes in a sleek opaque black finish.
The Tab, Spark Vex and Supersonic mini will be available for purchase worldwide on December 14th at a starting MSRP of $49.99 USD.
The USB 3.1 standard has been among us for some time now, but there aren’t many drives on the market that support this new standard yet. Lately more and more drives are being released, but they mostly just feature the new connectors and no real performance improvement considering the bus is capable of 10Gbps. That is no different with this new drive from Adam Elements and called ROMA, but it’s still something a little special. The clothing one wears don’t define you, but it can’t hurt to look good and the same goes for the Adam Elements USB 3.1 ROMA flash drive.
The ROMA drives match the Mac Book series perfectly with their Gold and Space Grey colours, and that is no real surprise as Adam Elements was founded in 2013 by Alan Cheng who previously worked for Apple Taiwan as a Senior Manager. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the drives in any other system with the appropriate ports.
The ROMA features both a USB 3.1 Type C and a normal USB 3.1 Type-A connector for maximum compatibility to modern laptops, smartphones, and other USB 3.1 capable devices. You get 64GB storage when your purchase an ROMA and that’s not bad at all. It should be plenty for most people needs and enough to unload your smartphone data onto the drive.
ROMA’s USB-C plug works either way up, so users will never need that cursed 3-turn USB move again. Whenever data needs to be moved to another computer with a standard USB socket only, the connector can simply be swivelled around, and a full-sized USB 3.1 plug is ready to go. On both ends, ROMA boasts high-end transfer speeds of up to 130 MB/s, but whether that’s just read or also goes for write is anyone’s guess. My guess is that it only goes for the read speeds and that you shouldn’t expect much in terms of write performance.
The drive’s casing is forged from premium zinc-aluminium alloy which makes it shock-resistant and dustproof. In order to make transport easier and add to the design, ROMA comes with a brown handmade genuine leather strap which fastens neatly onto bags and clothes.
ROMA can be ordered directly from the Taiwan-based Adam Store and will also become available at European retailers shortly. The MSRP is set to £39.99 which isn’t bad at all for a stylish drive like this with 64GB capacity.
Kingston’s high-end gaming division HyperX launched a new USB thumb drive to replace the popular DataTraveler HyperX drive. The new flash drive to replace it is called the HyperX Savage and continues the performance scheme that we have come to love from the HyperX series.
The new HyperX Savage comes in three capacity version: 64GB, 128GB, and a mighty 256GB version. As it always is with thumb drives, capacity has an impact on performance and the larger drives are faster. The 64GB version is rated for a performance of up to 350MB/s reading and 180MB/s writing while the larger 128GB and 256GB models can write with up to 250MB/s. That’s quite impressive for a USB flash drive.
The new drive is USB 3.1 Gen 1 compliant to suit the newest notebook standards as well as any other USB capable device such as smart TVs and consoles. The relative slim design should prevent too much interference and blocking around the USB port it has been plugged into, which is a big bonus.
The HyperX Savage also looks pretty stylish with its simple black design with a large red X in the middle. It is backed by a 5-year warranty and Kingston’s well-known free live technical support.
Blazing fast transfer speeds: HyperX Savage delivers blazing transfer speeds of 350MB/s read and 250MB/s write (64GB model delivers 350MB/s read and 180MB/s write) to save time and let you quickly access files with no performance lag. Capacities up to 256GB provide plenty of room to store large files including movies, high-resolution images, music, games and more.
USB 3.1 Gen. 1 functionality: HyperX Savage is compliant with USB 3.1 Gen. 1 specifications to let you take advantage of USB 3.0 ports in newer notebooks and desktops.
Bold design: This stylish drive has an aggressive look that complements the latest PCs and consoles. Its sleek black casing is accented with the signature HyperX logo in metallic red.
Multi-platform compatibility: Use this versatile drive on multiple platforms, including desktops, notebooks and gaming consoles1 including PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360®. Its slim design fits in tight console USB ports and it lets console users quickly transfer their profiles.
Thunderbolt 3 is capable of 40Gbps via a USB Type-C connector and able to power dual 4K displays or a single 5K monitor at 60Hz. This astonishing amount of bandwidth is integrated into Intel’s Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller on the H170 and Z170 chipset. As a result, any motherboard passing Intel’s certification can theoretically access the enhanced speed. Although, it is in the hands of manufacturers to offer a software update to utilize this added functionality.
Gigabyte is providing a firmware update for the GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 to offer the enhanced speeds. As a result, Gigabyte’s supported range is becoming quite comprehensive. It’s impressive to see such a quick reaction to the potential of Thunderbolt 3.0 and giving early adopters improved functionality. Whether any affordable consumer displays support Thunderbolt 3 is another topic for discussion. However, the interface could become essential in the future when displays surpass the 4K resolution.
Thunderbolt 3 contains 100w of charging power which might prove to be more useful for the average consumer. Whatever the case, I’m pleased to see motherboard partners offering firmware updates and adding more value to each z170 motherboard. Sadly, the 1151 CPUs are quite expensive at the moment which is limiting the amount of people upgrading from older sockets.
ASRock released an upgraded version of their tiny NUC mini PC, the BeeBox. The BeeBox is now available with a quad-core processor, 32GB eMMC SSD and comes bundled with a free copy of Windows 10. The BeeBox is also available in a new silver coloured version now on top of the black, gold, and white versions.
The new quad-core CPU is an Intel N3150 SoC and the NUC comes with 2GB DDR3 1600MHz, upgradeable to 16G. You can add plenty of storage despite the small 0.6l volume of the NUC. You can add both an mSATA SSD and a 2.5-inch drive, allowing you to reach 3TB storage and beyond in the near future with newer and bigger drives.
Beebox is the world’s first mini PC with a Type-C USB port and it is the only one to support triple monitor, H.265 decoding and 4K video playback through two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort. The whole system has low power consumption and is extremely quiet while powered on. It is nearly silent when run in Eco mode where it could be used for light tasks such as torrent downloading. So bedrooms aren’t excluded from the possible locations to place it. Another added bonus is the included IR control so you can control it from the couch or bed.
Have you made the switch to ultra compact systems somewhere in your home or do you still prefer the large systems with endless possibilities everywhere? Let us know in the comments.
ASRock has come a very long way over the last years, moving from a budget company to a force that shouldn’t be dismissed, and that is proven again by the quite impressive Fata1ty branded Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac mini-ITX motherboard. Despite its size, it packs amazing features and a solid build quality.
The first feature to stand out on this little marvel is the native 4K 60Hz video output capabilities thanks to the HDMI 2.0 port. HDMI 2.0 was introduced quite a while ago, but its adoption has been more than sluggish. That also means that this is the first 100-series chipset mITX motherboard with just that feature.
Moving on and you’ll find anything else that you’ll want from a Gaming motherboard. ASRock added the Fatal1ty mouse port, Intel-based Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and an 802.11ac wireless network card.
The Gaming-ITX motherboard features plenty of USB connections, ranging from USB 2.0 to USB 3.1, SATA3 ports, a single SATA-Express port. Other connections include a PS2 dual-port, onboard audio, a PCIe x16 Gen3 slot, and more. Hidden on the rear of the motherboard you’ll also find an ultra M.2 slot.
The motherboard is built on an 8-layer PCB and adopts an eight power phase design. IUt’s further built with Super Alloy and Gaming Armor design, such as the Premium 60A Power Chokes, Dual-Stack MOSFET, Nichicon 12K Platinum Capacitors, Hi-Density Power Connector, 15μ gold contacts and Digi Power.
ASRock didn’t reveal a global availability or MSRP price, but it can already be had in some regions such as Germany where it retails starting from €193.04. It surely isn’t the cheapest, but it’s also quite impressive on its feature list.
The USB 3.1 era is upon us and ASMedia were the first to become officially authorized by the USB-IF official organization. Up until now, USB 3.1 has been more a gimmick and a sales pitch than a useful product, there simply haven’t been any devices around that really could take advantage of what the new host controller and protocol can perform.
So we need a demonstration of what it can do, some real figures to work with instead of theoretical figures. We all know that USB theory doesn’t equal USB reality. During the Intel IDF 2015 we now got that demonstration from ASMedia. They had an MSI notebook and an ASUS USB 3.1 enclosure box connected to show what the host controller can do. The ASUS USB 3.1 enclosure box had two M.2 SSDs on the insides, making sure that there is enough performance to test the bus to the max. The USB 3.1 host controller also supports RAID on a hardware level, which is really nice.
And the result is pretty impressive for a USB connection. We see a sequential performance of up to 735MB/s and a sequential write performance up to 748 MB/s. The random QD32 4K performance isn’t without either and is something that the previous USB connections weren’t good at, not at all. Now we just have to wait for some actual drives to be released that take advantage of this, instead of the unimpressive USB 3.1 flash drives that don’t perform any better than a USB 3.0 does.
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Asus has announced the world’s first dual USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C front panel which provides access to the fastest external transfer rates available. USB 3.1 Type-C operates at a maximum rated speed of 10 Gb/s compared to USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s. However, to access this bandwidth, your motherboard requires a SATA Express port found on many of the mid-high end z97, or z170 motherboards.
The installation process is extremely simple and involves 3 easy steps. Firstly, feed the UPD panel into your preferred 5.25-inch drive bay and tighten the bundled screws. Next, connect the SATA Express cable to your PC’s motherboard before attaching two Molex power to the front bay. Alternatively, it’s possible to physically remove the PCB and install the card in a PCI-E expansion slot.
There are other advantages to USB 3.1 Type-C such as reversible connectors, tidy cabling and charging power up to 100W. However, to take advantage of this additional power, the device being charged has to support the Power Delivery 2.0 standard. While USB 3.1 is becoming more prevalent, the majority of cases do not support it and this device would be the best method to access 10 Gb/s transfer speeds. The unit has some flexibility as it can be installed in an expansion slot which helps cases without any front bays.
Computex 2015 – The highlight for me at the SanDisk booth were the new, and Industries first, 2TB SATA SSD. The CloudSpeed Evo Gen II is optimized for cloud data services, video streaming, social media analytics and content repository.
The CloudSpeed ECO II is intended for data centres, but there is good news for consumers too as the also presented an external 2TB portable drive. Okay, that’s not entirely true as it only holds up to 1.92TB. The SanDisk Extreme 900 portable SSD doesn’t just look good, it’s also fast.
SanDisk set up a demonstration of the drive and we see transfer speeds of up to 714MB/s on sequential reads and 717MB/s on writes.
That is some seriously fast external storage, so fast that it beats what most have as internal storage
The new USB 3.1 standard is all the hype at the moment, but it doesn’t help much to have a port and no device to connect to it.
Kingston just announced the release of the DataTraveler microDuo 3C USB Flash drive that does just that. As the duo name already suggest, this is another flash drive that is usable in more than one type of device. It comes with both the USB type-C connector, but also a standard USB type A for legacy support in USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
The type-C connector is the new reversible connector that fits slimmer and sleeker devices such as smartphones and tablets where we’ll see the next generation come with these ports. The port isn’t just for storage and file transfers, it will also support video output.
The DataTraveler microDuo 3C provides up to 64GB storage, but will also be available be available as 16GB and 32GB models. The speeds sadly aren’t anything that big and the drive is rated for 100MB/s reading and 15MB/s writing. It still isn’t bad for such a small drive and the universal connectivity makes up for it.
“DataTraveler microDuo 3C has a dual interface that accommodates both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports to give users easy access to the latest USB interface,” said Jean Wong, Flash business manager, Kingston. “Our drive provides more storage, features fast data transfer speeds and helps make the new technology more accessible to consumers.”
In addition to the DataTraveler microDuo 3C, Kingston will soon ship its next-generation DataTraveler Micro 3.1. As one of the world’s smallest USB Flash drives, it is perfect for adding more storage to tablet PCs, slim notebooks, car audio systems and more while barely increasing the size of the device’s footprint. The DataTraveler Micro 3.1 will also be available in 16GB to 64GB capacities.
Kingston backs the DataTraveler microDuo 3C is with a five-year warranty, free technical support and Kingston reliability.
Thunderbolt may soon go mainstream and ubiquitous. Intel has announced Thunderbolt 3 with a crucial new feature, USB Type-C connectors. Not only will Thunderbolt 3 use USB Type-C ports, it will also support the USB 3.1 protocol and provide up to 100W though the USB Power Delivery spec. Bandwidth has also doubled to 40Gbps and non-USB PD power delivery increased to 15W. Unfortunately, backwards compatibility with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 is not guan teed and requires an adapter.
Backed by Intel’s new controller, Alpine Ridge, Thunderbolt 3 utilizes either 4 PCIe 3 lanes to drive two ports or 2 PCIe 3 lanes to drive a single port. USB 3.1 support is baked into Alpine Ridge meaning all Thunderbolt 3 ports can connect to USB devices as well. Up to 2 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display, again at 60Hz, can be driven with support for Display Port 1.2. 10Gb Ethernet can also run on Thunderbolt 3 as well.
Building in USB into Thunderbolt is for sure going to increase the chances of adoption. Instead of having to build separate USB and Thunderbolt ports, firms can just use Thunderbolt ports and support both protocols. Cost is reduced as well with only the controller to mainly worry about as normal Type-C cables will run Thunderbolt 3 just fine. It would not be surprising to see eventually see laptops with just 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and maybe an extra Type-C port for larger models. The move to Type-C also means Thunderbolt can not move into smaller devices like phones and tablets. Thunderbolt may finally be the one port to rule them all, for those that pay for the controller of course.
Computex 2015 – When you mention Enermax, most people think of cooling as the first thing. But the company produces a lot more than just fans and we’ve swung by their booth at Computex to check out their storage expansion units, card readers, and multi-purpose units.
Enermax brought along two of everything so they both could show off the units in built-in as seen in the shots above, but also let us check out the units first hand and from all sides.
We have the default hot-swap units such as the EMK5102 and EMK5102 as well as more advanced docks such as the EMK5201U3 that features both USB 3.0 front bays and hot-swappable 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives.
3.5-inch enclosures are just as well covered as the 5.25-inch ones and you’ll even find PCI expansion slot covers for 2.5-inch SSDs such as the EMK3106.
The Mobile Rack EMK3203 is a unique and pretty cool enclosure. It doesn’t just put two 2.5-inch drives into a single 3.5-inch drive bay, it allows for easy switching of drives as well as hardware-based RAID. The aluminum cover helps to keep everything cool, even when running mechanical drives inside.
It has rarely been so easy to take your RAID setup on the road and at the same time have the insurance that it will work in any system with a default 3.5-inch drive bay.
Every one of these enclosures is built great and with first class components, and should last you a long time.
Card readers are also part of the display and thanks to the USB 3.0 connection you’ll get all the speed that your memory cards can perform. No bottleneck as there used to be with USB 2.0 connected readers.
All new are the USB 3.1 enclosures Brick EB308U31 and Ultrabox EB310U31. The two new devices are capable of utilizing the new 10Gbps USB connections that are twice as fast as USB 3.0.
Featuring the new USB type-C reversible connector makes it easier than ever to connect them and you’ll never again have to do the well known 3-times-turn move to connect your USB devices.
The Ultrabox docking stations are available as single-bay and two-bay units where the 2-bay even features built-in cloning abilities with process indicators.