PC Specialist Announce Stunning Liquid Series Range

PC Specialist has quickly forged a reputation as one of the best system integrators on the market and constantly strives to provide the best possible user experience. Custom water cooling looks spectacular and offers excellent overclocking headroom but it can be extremely daunting for novices. As a result, many people opt for closed-loop-coolers like the H110i GT because of the simplicity. Unfortunately, the majority of these Asetek-based units are bland and struggle to evoke a premium finish. Today, PC Specialist has launched their brand new liquid series designed to cater towards customers wanting a gorgeous custom loop without the headache of sourcing compatible parts.

The new range covers both Z170 and X99 chipsets which allows you to select a system which suits your power requirements. Pricing starts from £1291.00 and includes a standard three-year warranty. The basic Z170 system opts for Mayhems X1 UV Blue coolant, an i5-6600K overclocked up to 4.6GHz, 8GB HyperX Fury 2133MHz RAM, EVGA GTX 970 SC, 1TB mechanical hard disk and Corsair RM850. Of course, you can customise the specification and improve the CPU, memory capacity and more.

In addition to the generous warranty, you can purchase a service pack for £149.00 which includes:

  • Collection & Return of Liquid Series PC
  • Full drain of the loop
  • Flush and clean the loop (including Pumps, Blocks, Reservoirs & Fittings)
  • Replace all tubing & refill loop with new coolant.
  • 24 Hours Leak & Stress Test

The liquid series implements the highest level of expertise and component selection. For example, braided cables are deployed to form an absolutely stunning aesthetic design. Here we can see some of the creations you can expect under the liquid series brand:

If you’re interested in a liquid series system please visit this link to browse the extensive catalogue and perhaps make an order. In the next few days, a review sample will be arriving and I cannot wait to analyse the system in extensive detail. So far, I’m really impressed with the range and believe it’s a great addition to PC Specialist’s impressive line-up.

Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.

Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800
  • Case: Game Max Destroyer Windowed
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Processor: Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III
  • Graphics card: Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: N/A
  • Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
  • Price: £889.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.

Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.

The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.

Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.

Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.

The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.

In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.

Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.

 

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

OCZ Significantly Broadens ShieldPlus SSD Warranty Program

With more and more of our purchases being online these days, it is ever more important to have a good RMA and warranty policy in case something goes bad. In a major but not unsurprising move, OCZ Storage Solutions has expanded their ShieldPlus warranty program for their SSDs. Tripling the number of countries by going from 33 to 99, it means more OCZ customers will be able to benefit from the advanced warranty program.

ShieldPlus is one of the better warranty programs for SSDs out there right now. When a drive becomes defective, owners merely have to provide the details of the issue as well the serial number. Once technical support confirms the defect is with the drive, OCZ will give the customer a prepaid shipping label and cross-ship a replacement drive within 24 hours for no charge. This is generally better than most policies that require the customer to send the defective product on their own dime.

A few years back OCZ suffered from a high failure rate for their SSDs and the company ended up being acquired by Toshiba. Since then OCZ has fixed their drives up and have made a strong comeback. With the extension of this warranty to more countries, there is all the more reason for users to consider OCZ these days. The ShieldPlus program currently covers the Vertex 460A, Vector 180, AMD R7, ARC 100 and Trion 100.

Antec’s Latest Closed Loop Liquid Cooler Range is Superb Value!

Corsair has undoubtedly dominated the closed-loop liquid cooling market for some time and provides an impressive array of products to suit a variety of form factors. However, it’s important to reiterate that the actual units are built by either Asetek or CoolIT and not Corsair. As a result, most of the CLCs around are identical apart from a few slight aesthetic adjustments. Out of all the CLCs I’ve tested so far, Corsair’s latest H100i GT and H110i GT are the most impressive due to an attractive block design, LED lighting and gorgeous textured tubing. Nevertheless, at around £90-£100, these are an expensive proposition especially when you consider the core components are almost identical to cheaper alternatives.

On the other hand, Corsair provides a fantastic 5-year warranty on the Hydro series while their competitors like the EKWB Predator 240 only offers a 2 year guarantee. This peace-of-mind is worth the extra to many customers as there is a lot of anxiety regarding liquid cooling and the catastrophic damage from leakage. Technically, Corsair will replace any damaged hardware from a pump failure, although the probability of this occurring is very small. Nevertheless, it’s great to have that extra bit of confidence when purchasing a liquid cooling product. I’ve not heard the official terms and conditions from some of the other manufacturers as replacing hardware is a costly endeavor. I honestly believe hardware companies should clearly outline their cover for any leakage and the RMA procedure.

Antec is expanding their water cooling line-up and bringing two new models to market incredibly soon. Apparently, both of the new models will arrive in Europe during late December or early January. The Antec H600 revolves around a 120mm radiator and 20mm deep heat fin array. Furthermore, the included fan opts for a blue LED and speed range between 600-2400RPM. Mostly impressively, the estimated launch price is remarkably cheap at £39.95.

At the higher end, the Antec H1200 utilizes a 240mm radiator, 20mm deep heat fin array and high quality FEP tubing. Here is a complete rundown of this product’s specification:

“High-Performance Pump with LED Status Indicator. The integrated Status LED lights up during operation

7-Blade PWM 12cm Fans with Blue LEDs, Rifle Bearing keeps it whisper-quiet, while filling your rig with blue light.

High-Performance 240mm Radiator. A complex structure of 0.28 mm thick heat fins with 1.3 mm empty space in between each of them maximize the heat dissipation

Maximum Heat Fin Surface Area: 20 mm deep heat fin array increases the surface area for a maximum heat dissipation

High-Quality FEP Tubes: With minimal moisture absorption and high thermal & kinetic tolerances for a prolonged life

Block and Pump Array:
– High-density array of only 0.15 mm thin Micro Heat Channels with 0.2 mm space in between them
– For whisper-quiet operation with an incredible lifetime
– For maximum pump speed and cooling cycle
– Heavy-Duty Graphite bearing for a long and whisper-quiet life time

Specification:
– Noise Level Range of Fan: 16~35dBA
– Fan Speed: 600-2400RPM
– Radiator Dimensions: 271mm x 120mmx 25mm
– Fan Size: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
– Tube Length: 315mm” 

The H1200 is an Asetek-based unit so it should be very reliable and perform remarkably well. Given the radiator size, LED fans, and block LED, you would expect a price around £80. However, Antec is going to offer this performance CLC at £59.99!!! This is a major price cut compared to similar AIOs and a great value proposition. On the other hand, have Antec been able to offer this price due to poorer warranty terms?

The Antec rep at Overclockers UK directly addressed these concerns and said:

“If we have one leak I personally promise to come and visit you if yours leaks and I will replace all damaged components.

Trust me they WILL not leak but seriously if one does we will 100% replace any damaged components for you if it does.”

This level of customer service and honesty is admirable and I wish more companies provided a more direct answer to the leakage question. In the next few weeks, we should have a review of both units and I cannot wait to see how they perform!

CEX Now Offers 24 Month Warranty on Second Hand Goods

Purchasing any used electrical item from smartphones to CPUs involves a high degree of risk unless the product includes an original proof-of-purchase. As a result, when looking for expensive graphics cards on eBay or premium mechanical keyboards, you have to take into account the lack of consumer protection. It’s quite baffling that the selling price is usually so close to a new retail sample which often contains a 2-5 year warranty. Throughout Europe, new goods legally have to come with a 2-year warranty, but there’s some confusion if this applies to used items.

Thankfully, there are some retail stores in the UK which provide guarantees on pre-owned hardware. However, the duration varies quite dramatically and some chains do not disclosure this information in a clear way. Recently, CEX announced they will provide a 24 month warranty on all used items as standard. This is a fantastic scheme and offers piece of mind on used products. Personally, I would probably pay the extra compared to eBay to have that extra year of cover. This enhanced protection encourages consumers to spend money on higher ticket items such as a used Intel Core i7-4770K. The savings are impressive and the warranty period buying used is only reduced by one year in this particular case.

While I’ve not always had the best experience with CEX, I have to applaud this consumer-friendly move. Hopefully, this will force the company to enforce greatly improved testing, and make sure traded-in products meet the standards.

Do you care about the warranty period when buying components?

GIGABYTE Launches New G1 GAMER PACKS

Gigabyte launched a new incentive that will give gamers more value and increased warranty as well as direct RMA process for customers of the G1 Gaming series motherboards. There are several different tiers that will provide different benefits based on what G1 Gamer product that you have purchased. The new service is, in all its simplicity, called the G1 GAMER PACKS.

A direct RMA process is one of the best things a company can offer and that’s something anyone who ever had to deal with stubborn shops can sign. The company behind the product is the natural partner to offer support when you have trouble as well as replace it if it can’t be fixed. Eliminating the middle man saves time, money, and nerves.

Customers that register their product newly purchased Gigabyte G1 motherboard will also get a longer warranty, up to 5-years, with express exchange service and replacement in advance option. On top of that, customers also get a cashback bonus when they upgrade this current motherboard to a successor in the future, making the upgrade quite a bit cheaper.

“The biggest wish for most gamers is to be the best and to have top grade PC Gaming hardware they can trust”. GIGABYTE takes care of these wishes with our new G1 Gamer Packs. Not only do we offer our customers a direct RMA service in case of possible hardware issue, we also offer G1 warranty extensions and the customer will also “receive a next-gen technology-bonus of up to £75 free!”, Timmy Huang, Western Europe Managing Director at GIGABYTE, explained the new service offensive.

For all the small print as well as registering for the G1 GAMER PACKS, you can visit the official Mini-Site here.

OnePlus Announces Extended Warranty Programme

The original OnePlus handset was described as a “flagship killer” and offered a stunning specification for the price point. Sadly, its successor fell flat and didn’t live up to people’s expectations. This was due to people becoming infuriated with the invite process and large array of alternatives like the Hauwei Honor 7. There have also been some horror stories regarding OnePlus’ standard warranty service which doesn’t evoke consumer confidence.

To tackle this head-on, OnePlus have decided to launch an extended warranty programme which protects against accidental and liquid damage for up to two years. The warranty plan starts at €39.99 for 12 months and features a worldwide support team to produce quick turnarounds. OnePlus have set the 24-month price at €64.99. Despite this, it still falls short compared to cheaper and technically able handsets. For example, the Wileyfox Storm costs £199.99 and allows you to purchase a 3 year warranty for an additional £9.99. Furthermore, a screen replacement service also costs £9.99 per year.

Another issue to consider is EU law which offers a standard 2 year period. Clearly, this doesn’t cover accidental damage, but it seems OnePlus are oblivious to their legal obligations. In the USA, where consumer rights aren’t as protected, the policy makes more sense. I’m not convinced the new policy will entice people to buy OnePlus devices in large numbers because they are still restricted by the absurd invite system. If OnePlus wants to exist in the next 5-10 years, they have to drop this nonsense.

Tesla is Now Testing the Used Car Sales Market

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Electric Car giant Tesla has been making massive waves in the automotive and home electrical worlds recently. Firstly by introducing its spectacular Model S and more recently the home batteryThe battery technology is still brand new, but the cars are starting to age a little, with the oldest Model S around 2 1/2 years old.

What does this mean? The consumer turn around for prestige cars like this normally lasts around two – three years; they then trade in and purchase the newest model. So what about the older cars, surely they don’t just leave them rotting or flash the memory and sell as new do they? Of course not, those cars which have started coming back to the dealerships are now being sold through Teslas ‘Buy Pre-Owned‘ scheme.

Looking through the sales pages, the cheapest model to come up was a Model S 60 at a respectable $59,000. After looking for a comparable model, the cheapest Model S 85 was $62,350; when compared like for like to a new model, the price came in at almost $100,000, that’s a huge saving of almost $38,000. You also get 4 years/ 50,000 miles warranty and a delivery to your nearest dealership for up to $1,500.

Tesla can offer these low prices due to only selling through their own dealerships. The used car market is a lucrative place to be, you can sell a car for thousands over book price with the right selling pitch. Well done marketing at Tesla, if the price originally put you off; it seems it’s going in the right direction.

Apple Watch Edition AppleCare+ Plan Will Cost $999

The $10,000 and up Apple Watch Edition will have the AppleCare+ plan set at $999, this will extend the warranty from 2 years to 3 years. Buyers will get a dedicated setup hotline and two years of 24/7 support with two accidental damage incidents covered in that time; people who buy the plan will have that for three years.

For the Watch Sport and the Apple Watch the standard coverage gets the buyers 90 days of phone support and a one year limited hardware warranty. The Watch Sport AppleCare+ will cost $59 and the Apple Watch version will cost $79. The AppleCare+ will get the buyers two years of phone support and coverage for two accidental damage incidents. Pre-orders for the watches starts on April 10th and it should be interesting to see if the demand is there since the reception of the product hasn’t been too great.

Source: PCWorld

Images of Late Soviet Union Computer Mouse Surface, Would Have Cost $300 in 1990

It looks like someone has stumbled upon a rare late Soviet computer mouse. The device is said to have been produced in 1990, but was modelled in 1989, as the documents state. The design is very weird and it comes in red colour (as it would be expected from that era).

The price for this type of mouse is also staggering, coming in at 285 roubles, which was equally translated in US dollars. This would have meant that the mouse in question would have cost around $300 back in the ’90s.

The box states that “It is the most comfortable graphic input device. You can move a cursor or piece of graphics across the screen, paint or use in business”. It even comes with its own serial number written in pen and was under a warranty.

Another odd thing about the mouse is that it comes with its blueprints in the box. But given its price tag, it would be nice to have in case something broke and a piece was required to fix it.

Lastly, the size of the mouse looks pretty realistic compared to a modern mouse, except you can’t really connect it to any modern PC or laptop due to its huge and outdated connector.

Here are the images of the mouse:

Thank you English Russia for providing us with this information

OCZ Sneak in Update of Vertex 460A, Features A19 MLC NAND Flash Upgrade

“Vertex Transitions to Next-Gen Toshiba Technology” reads the latest release press from solid state manufacturer OCZ. Their Vertex 460 disk series has seen a small update to Vertex 460A – providing a revitalized flash to the Toshiba A19 MLC NAND, upgraded warranty and a slight appearance change.

Originally released as an upgrade to the 450, the 460 series utilized OCZ’s Barefoot 3 master flash and contained an upgrade to 19nm components from 20nm. The newly released 460A series now steps this up yet again, changing it up to A19 MLC flash memory. According to reports, this has made no changes to the overall performance of the device however. These drives are still available in a 120GB edition providing a 530,420 MB/s read and write or 240/480GB models with a 540,525 MB/s read and write ability.

As mentioned before, the outside appearance of the drive has changed slightly – as you can see in the cover image, it looks a little less ‘corporate’ and a little more ‘consumer new-age’, with OCZ painting some cool shades of white and blue running across the device. The warranty provided with the 460A has been upgraded to OCZ’s ‘ShieldPlus’ level, meaning that it’s still coming with the three-years as per the original 460, but means that members of the US and Europe are able to skip the broker and send their warranty claims direct to OCZ.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Reliable Tech – Hardware Repair Rate Rankings Released

As computer enthusiasts often get hostile about their favorite brands warranties, returns and reliability, we’ve just been given an insight into hardware failure and warranty rates across popular technology manufacturers.

Only just being released but complied with data relevant prior to October 2014, these statistics will show the top four performers in each category.

Starting with motherboards, the results read:

  • GIGABYTE: 2.51%
  • MSI: 2.65%
  • ASUS: 2.86%
  • ASRock: 2.99%

Before you grab your pitchforks and book the next-leaving flight to the island country of Taiwan, take a close look at the results and think about what you see. The first thing noticeable is that all four of these figures are land within a 0.5% margin, which is a pretty impressive result. Another interesting fact is that of ASUS’s ranking. We’ve just reported that ASUS are looking to out-sell all other brands in 2014, followed next by GIGABYTE, but looking at these statistics shows they aren’t the most reliable.

As with many other things in life (even including CS:GO tournaments), these broad spectrum statistics aren’t a be-all and end-all. Obviously it’s a little damaging for ASRock to be places last in the race and GIGABYTE are sure to have some PR bragging rights given their first place rating – but warranty tracking is often a fickle thing.

If you wish to see the full list of rankings and percentages (and have a translating app or add-on handy), please feel free to check a list compiled here (in Chinese), or the full comprehensive list (in French).

Power supply rankings came in at:

  • FSP Group: 0.83%
  • Be Quiet!: 0.84%
  • Corsair: 1.32%
  • Cooler Master: 1.51% 

The memory (RAM) rankings are:

  • Kingston: 0.36% 
  • Crucial: 0.57%
  • G.Skill: 0.97%
  • Corsair: 1.20%

Graphics card failure rates are slightly higher than any other statistic – ranking from 5.09% down to 2.25%.

  • MSI: 2.25%
  • Gainward: 2.67%
  • GIGABYTE: 2.98%
  • ASUS: 3.00%

It’s also interesting to note that there’s a rather large (in comparison) failure rate here reported of the Radeon R9 280X – coming in at 8.81%.

Hard Drive manufacturers have reported:

  • Seagate: 0.69%
  • Western Digital: 0.93% 
  • HGST: 1.01% (former Hitachi)
  • Toshiba: 1.29%

SSD’s saw most of the lowest rates of failure and a very close race within the top 3:

  • Samsung: 0.24%
  • Intel:  0.27%
  • Sandisk: 0.29%
  • Crucial: 0.57%

Please note that this statistical data has been taken from French online dealers, meaning some companies were not included due to their product sample being too small to manage. But either way this gives you a pretty fair comparison of companies units as a whole.

Coming from my own experience, as a person who’s previously worked in a hardware manufacturing company for 4 years, here’s a few things I’ve noticed about this warranty/failure rate subject:

  • Not every end user will warranty their broken products
  • Warranty percentages can often be skewed by a bad batch of products due to shipment, storage or factory error
  • Warranty percentages are not always reported, double checked, nor stock-taken

Rankings thanks to Hardware.fr

ASUSTOR Extends Product Warranty to 3 Years

ASUSTOR Inc. announced that the warranty period for all ASUSTOR NAS products has been extended to three years from the previous two year warranty. It is ASUSTOR’s mission to continue to provide its customers with products of the highest quality along with the most reliable and attentive after-sales service possible, as the press release reads.

“Providing first-class service to our customers has always been a top priority for us here at ASUSTOR,“ said Allen Yen, Sales Director at ASUSTOR. “We are extremely elated to announce that we have extended the warranty period for all our products. We would like to thank our loyal customers from their continued support and hope that this will inspire even greater confidence in ASUSTOR products.”

The newly extended three year warranty applies to all ASUSTOR NAS products which include all 6, 3 and 2 series devices. Users who have already purchased ASUSTOR products will also get the new three year warranty applied to their product from the original date of purchase.

Thank you to ASUSTOR for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of ASUSTOR.

PC Specialist ‘Vanquish 230XT’ Gaming System Review

Introduction


When browsing through the countless pre-built systems that are on offer from the likes of Overclockers UK, Scan, CyberpowerPC and PC Specialist as we have here today; most of the time we find users spending on average around £1400-1600 (~$2300-2700 USD) for their new gaming rig and whilst you do get a great amount of power for your money, we do wonder how much extra pixel pushing power do you really get from a system that is around 20% cheaper to buy. Obviously there are going to be some obvious differences in the systems specification and this mainly includes the motherboard, processor and graphics card; but are you really getting 20% extra performance for your money or is it worth spending that bit less and spending that extra cash on a better monitor for example?

With the number of system integrators in the UK slowly increasing, staying one step ahead of the competition in terms of pricing and quality is a never-ending battle. Each company out there has their own little twist on what makes a great system and in the case of PC Specialist, it’s not just the system that you are paying for – customer service is important as well. Since we took our first look at one of PC Specialist’s budget gaming systems; namely the Vanquish X200, back in the first half of last year, we have come to learn that offering a top rate of customer service from the pre-sales end of the line right through to after-sales technical support is of a high priority to this devoted team of enthusiasts. Not only is this a passion driven business, but the extra care that they put into their systems does not constitute to a hefty price tag and it soon becomes clear that the price is far more justifiable with all the hidden extras that you get included – as standard.

The Vanquish 230XT that we’ve got in today comes with a delivered to your door price tag of £1137.00 inc VAT and inside it packs a strong mix of mid-to-high range components that have a better bang-for-buck appeal to them over some of the top end components that we see out there on the market today. Built onto an Asus Z87-A motherboard we have an overclocked and water-cooled quad-core 4670k running at 4.2GHz, teamed up with 16GB of 2400MHz HyperX Beast Memory from Kingston and an AMD R9 280X graphics card ready to deliver a joyful gaming experience. On top of all of that we get a 120GB HyperX 3K SSD and a 1TB hard drive for all of your games and media content to go on and all of this is packed into a budget friendly 230T mid-tower chassis from Corsair.

Bundled into the shipping box alongside the chassis, we find a smaller box inside of which PC Specialist include all of the extra accessories that one would typically find inside the box of each individual component used – after all, you are paying for all of these little extra accessories , and should you wish to upgrade one or two bits at a later stage you may find yourself in need of something that’s in this box.