ARM A53/A57/T760 investigated – Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Exynos Review

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It’s been a few months since Josh had the opportunity to review the Note 4. The defining characteristic is that this was the variant with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 SoC running as the heart of the device. This version is found in devices shipping in North America, Western Europe, China and Japan. While these markets have now been served by Qualcomm’s silicon offerings, Samsung is now back on track at trying to expand its market-share of in-house Exynos SoCs. As such, all other markets (with small exceptions) seem to be getting served Exynos variants of the Note 4. To find out how this version performs, read on for the full review.

Mushkin Reactor 1TB SSD Review

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Silicon Motion has practically become the new SandForce. Almost every tier three manufacturer (i.e. one with no controller/firmware IP or NAND fab) has released an SM2246EN based drive in the past ten months and recently Silicon Motion scored two major tier one partners (namely Micron/Crucial and SanDisk) as well. To be honest, this hasn’t come as a surprise because the SM2246EN is a really solid controller with good performance and more importantly it’s been mostly issue free (which is something that cannot be said about SandForce). Mushkin’s Reactor combines the SM2246EN with Micron’s latest 128Gbit 16nm MLC NAND, and this is actually the first time we’ve encountered a non-Micron/Crucial SSD with Micron’s 16nm NAND. Read on to find out how the SM2246EN performs with Micron’s latest NAND!

The DirectX 12 Performance Preview: AMD, NVIDIA, & Star Swarm

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With the various pieces of Microsoft’s latest API finally coming together, today we will be taking our first look at the performance of the future with DirectX 12. The API is stabilizing, video card drivers are improving, and the first DirectX 12 application has been written; Microsoft and their partners are finally ready to show off DirectX 12. To that end, today we’ll looking at DirectX 12 through Oxide Games’ Star Swarm benchmark, our first DirectX 12 application and a true API efficiency torture test. Does DirectX 12 bring the same kind of performance benefits we saw with Mantle? Can it resolve the CPU bottlenecking that DirectX 11 struggles with? How well does the concept of a low-level API work for a common API with disparate hardware? Let’s find out!

DDR4 Haswell-E Scaling Review: 2133 to 3200 with G.Skill, Corsair, ADATA and Crucial

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For any user interested in performance, memory speed is an important part of the equation when it comes to building your next system. This can apply to any user, from integrated graphics throughput to gaming and prosumer environments such as finance or oil and gas. Individuals with an opinion on memory speed fall into two broad camps, from saying faster memory has no effect, to the ‘make sure you get at least XYZ’. Following on from our previous Haswell DDR3 scaling coverage, we have now secured enough memory kits to perform a thorough test of the effect of memory speed on DDR4 and Haswell-E.

Nokia Lumia 735 Review

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Back in September, Microsoft launched what would be the last two Nokia branded Lumias. The Lumia 830 was announced as an affordable flagship, and we reviewed the 830 back in November. The Lumia 730 and 735 were launched with a different feature set, a lower price, and a higher resolution front facing camera. Microsoft announced them as “built for Skype calls and selfies” with the inclusion of the five megapixel front facing camera and put the package in a smaller, lighter body. It was launched with four colors, with the 730 being a dual SIM version and the 735 is a single SIM with LTE capabilities.

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W & 850W PSU Review

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Today we’re looking at the flagship PSU series from be quiet!, the Dark Power Pro 10. We received two of the models, the 650W and the 850W versions, but despite being part of the same series and sharing the same features, the six Dark Power Pro 10 PSUs are have significant differences. We’re going to look at these two models to explore those differences and gain a better idea of what to expect from the Dark Power Pro series.

GIGABYTE GB-BXi7H-5500 Broadwell BRIX Review

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Over the last couple of years, the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) has emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. Intel’s NUC and GIGABYTE’s BRIX are the most popular lineups in this category. Intel’s 14nm Broadwell family was introduced into the market with the fanless Core M-based systems. The excellent performance of units based on Core-M has evoked interest in the performance of the upcoming NUC and BRIX units based on Broadwell-U. Intel is taking its time bringing the NUCs to market after officially announcing them at CES 2015. However, GIGABYTE sent over their premium Broadwell BRIX s SKU, the GB-BXi7H-5500, earlier this week. Read on to see what Broadwell-U brings to the UCFF PC market.

Acer XB280HK 4K G-SYNC Monitor Review

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When it comes to gaming, 4K displays present a conundrum (beyond 4K being used incorrectly, but I’ll still use it). On the one hand, all the extra pixels allow for far more detail. On the other, that is a lot of pixels to push for a GPU. Even with the best GPUs out there, you might [Ed: will] have to disable certain features and start to introduce aliasing and other artifacts. A solution to this might be G-SYNC to enable gaming that looks smooth even when running below 60Hz. Read on for our review of Acer’s XB280HK.

Transcend SSD370 (128GB, 256GB & 512GB) Review

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We got the first glimpse of Transcend’s SSD370 at Computex last year and now the drive has been in retail for quite some time. The interesting bit about the drive is its custom Transcend firmware, which is accompanied by a relabeled Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller (Transcend calls it TS6500). The SM2246EN has increasingly been gaining popularity among SSD vendors, but the SSD370 is the first time I’ve come across a custom firmware solution. Read on to see how the SSD370 and Transcend custom firmware perform in our tests!

ASRock VisionX 471D Review – Evolutionary Upgrades for a Powerful mini-PC

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ASRock has been one of the few motherboard vendors to focus on mini-PCs targeting the HTPC and portable gaming markets. Starting from the ION-based nettop days, they have consistently refreshed the mini-PC lineup in sync with Intel’s product cycle. We reviewed the Haswell-based VisionX 420D last September. Instead of waiting for Broadwell / Skylake, ASRock has taken the opportunity of falling flash memory prices to bring out a mid-generation update in the form of the VisionX 471D. With a Core i7-4712MQ and a 256 GB mSATA SSD under the hood, ASRock manages to address two important improvement aspects that we noted in our VisionX 420D review. Do the additional capabilities come with any caveats? Are there tangible improvements in real-world workloads? Read on to see how the VisionX 471D fares in our mini-PC evaluation routine.

BitFenix Neos Case Review

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BitFenix is a company known for their cost-effective products and unique designs. Today we’ll look at the Neos, a low-cost case designed primarily with aesthetics in mind. Is it able to face the competition within the largest sales portion of the case market? We’ll find out in this review.

Samsung Portable SSD T1 Review

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The last few years have seen rapid advancements in flash technology and the rise of USB 3.0 as an ubiquitous high-speed interface on computers. These have led to the appearance of small and affordable direct attached storage units with very high performance for day-to-day data transfer applications. We have already looked at some SSDs with a USB 3.0 – SATA bridge over the last couple of months. At CES 2015, Samsung launched the Portable SSD T1. Read on for our review of what it offers as a direct-attached storage unit.

ECS LIVA X Review: A Fanless Bay Trail-M mini-PC

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Over the last couple of years, mini-PCs in the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) have emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. ECS first took on this market with the help of the LIVA mini-PC. They have iterated fast to resolve some of the shortcomings of the original LIVA in their latest mini-PC, the LIVA X. Read on for our review of the latest passively cooled mini-PC offering from ECS.

MSI Goes USB 3.1 at CES 2015: The MSI Component Suite Tour

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Back at Computex we reported that MSI was showing a potential mock-up of USB 3.1 on one of their motherboards. Fast forward a few months and this is slowly becoming a reality, with working silicon and demos on hand, almost ready to ship. MSI also had a few neat custom builds as well as a wide variety of colored GPUs, some with a different fan design.

Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano Review: A Fanless Bay Trail-M mini-PC

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Over the last couple of years, mini-PCs in the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) have emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. Zotac is no stranger to this segment. In fact, their nano xs units came to the market before the Intel NUC, even though the NUC is credited with kickstarting the UCFF trend. Intel’s Bay Trail family of SoCs has proved to be an affordable and low-power candidate for UCFF PC units. We have already evaluated a couple – an actively cooled GIGABYTE BXBT-1900 and and the fanless ECS LIVA. This review provides some insights into what the passively cooled Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano brings to the market.

ASRock X99 OC Formula Motherboard Review: What is the Overclocking Formula?

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Within each motherboard manufacturer, there is typically a design team for each market segment they are targeting, be that server, channel or gaming. Overclocking is slightly different as most manufacturers have an extreme overclocker or two directly employed to focus on the engineering and put their name to the product. Nick Shih, former world #1, is the overclocker behind ASRock’s OC range and the newest member of this family, the ASRock X99 OC Formula, bears his signature. This is the board for our review today. 

QNAP TS-853 Pro 8-bay Intel Bay Trail SMB NAS Review

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QNAP has focused on Intel’s Bay Trail platform for this generation of NAS units (compared to Synology’s efforts with Intel Rangeley). While the choice made sense for the prosumer-targeted TS-x51 series, we were a bit surprised to see the TS-x53 Pro series (targeting business users in the higher level market segment) also use the same Bay Trail platform. Having already looked at the Rangeley-based Synology DS1815+ and the Haswell-based Asustor AS7008T, it is now time to see how QNAP’s Bay Trail-based 8-bay TS-853 Pro performs in our evaluation.

SilverStone Raven RV05 Case Review

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Today we are having a look at the Raven RV05, an atypical Midi-ATX case from SilverStone with a rotated motherboard tray and a unique visual appearance. It is the fifth and by far the smallest version of the Raven series cases, with SilverStone boasting that it is "a glimpse into the future of enthusiast PC cases". While we can’t foretell the future, we can see what the present holds for the Raven RV05. Read on for the full review.

HGST Deskstar NAS 6 TB Review

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The increasing affordability of SSDs has put a strain on the traditional market for hard drive vendors. However, hard drives continue to remain the storage medium of choice for applications where capacity and cost factors outweigh performance requirements. Thanks to the rapid growth in the SMB / SOHO / consumer NAS market, new opportunities have opened up for the HDD vendors. All the major players have lineups catering to this market segment. Western Digital was the first to introduce a 6 TB drive in this space, and Seagate joined in recently with a souped-up Enterprise NAS HDD recently. Today, we will take a look at the highest capacity version in HGST’s Deskstar NAS family.

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