Promise Pegasus2 M4 (4x1TB) Thunderbolt 2 DAS Review

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Typically multi-bay external storage devices tend to utilize 3.5" drives due to the lower cost and higher capacities. The downside, however, is that 3.5" drives are physically larger and heavier, which makes a multi-bay enclosure rather difficult to move around on a regular basis. To fix this, Promise is offering a 4-bay 2.5" RAID solution called the M4. Read on for our full review of this compact DAS.

LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 2 DAS Review

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Seagate’s premium storage brand, LaCie, has been introducing a wide variety of Thunderbolt 2 products since late last year. Today, we are seeing the launch of a hybrid direct-attached storage (DAS) unit with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 connections in the d2 Thunderbolt 2. The differentiating aspect is the availability of a full-speed PCIe SSD add-on which adds another storage module at the expense of the USB 3.0 port. We took the unit for a spin using our Windows-based Thunderbolt 2 setup. Read on to see how the unit performs.

Apple Announces the Apple Watch

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Apple has thrown their hat into the wearable ring with the Apple watch, which tries to bring a better user experience to the watch without trying to adapt iOS to the watch with multi-touch gestures that we’re familiar with on the iPhone.

There’s a single crystal sapphire display, a digital dial crown that acts as a home button and a scroll system. There’s also a strong emphasis on haptic feedback which allows for linking of watches to share notifications by sending taps in any possible pattern. This is done by using a force sensitive touchscreen, which is a method of navigating along with the scrolling dial. This allows for subtle communication that doesn’t rely on obvious sound or gestures. It’s also possible to send taps based upon pulse/heart beat.

There are IR lights and sapphire lenses on the back of the watch for heart rate and serves as a magnetic alignment wireless charging system. The accuracy of the watch is no more than 50 milliseconds off at any time.

In order to support this watch, Apple has also designed a custom SoC called S1, likely for battery life and sensor integration and reduction of board area.

There are six different straps that are easily exchanged. The sport band has multiple colors and is some kind of rubber. There’s a leather sports strap which has multiple magnets to ensure that the fit works correctly. There’s also a traditional leather strap and a stainless steel link bracelet. There’s also a stainless steel mesh band that is infinitely adjustable. There are also two versions of each watch edition, one larger and one smaller.

The Apple Watch also has NFC and will work with Apple Pay.

There are actually three variants though, which include the standard Apple Watch, Watch Sport, and the Watch Edition which has 18 karat gold for the casing. The sport edition has a anodized aluminum casing.

The Apple Watch must be paired with an iPhone to work properly. It starts at 349 USD and will go on sale early 2015.

Apple Announces iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

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Today, Apple is launching the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. One of first changes is that the new iPhone 6 has a 4.7" display that has a 1334×750 display, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5" 1920×1080 (1080p) display. The thickness of of the 4.7" model is 6.6mm and the 5.5" model is 7.1mm. The displays will have higher contrast, better peak brightness, and better viewing angles according to Apple. This suggests that the iPhone display has a chevron shape to its subpixels to improve viewing angles. The glass also has a 2.5D curve similar to the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 for a smooth feel when swiping off the edge of the phone.

iOS is also adapted to the new larger iPhone 6 Plus’ display by adding landscape views for many native applications that are two pane. In addition, in order to work with the differing resolutions Apple has added a "desktop-class scaler" to avoid incompability issues with applications that aren’t aware of the new displays. These displays are known as Retina HD.

The new A8 powers both of these iPhones, and has 2B transistors compared to 1B the A7. It’s also built on 20nm but it’s unclear whether this is TSMC, Samsung, or both.

Apple also claims 50% higher performance on the A8 and is also emphasizing that this new SoC can do better sustained performance over time compared against other smartphones. The GPU is supposed to be a GX6650.

Apple is also emphasizing that battery life on the iPhone 6 improves from the iPhone 5s as the LTE browsing value for the iPhone 6 is constant while it improves for the iPhone 6 Plus to 12 hours.

There’s also a new M8 coprocessor which detects distance and elevation for better fitness tracking, which is achieved by using a barometer to measure relative air pressure which is used for the health application in iOS 8.

Apple is also finally introducing MDM9x25 with carrier aggregation and VoLTE. This means that there’s a dual transceiver solution in the iPhone 6 devices. On the same line, Apple is finally adding 802.11ac to its smartphones and has worked on enabling seamless WiFi calling that goes from WiFi to cellular networks.

On the camera side, we see a new 8MP sensor which adds phase detection auto focus for faster autofocus, which means up to 2x speed. There’s also better local tone map and better noise reduction in addition to the PDAF system that was first seen in the Samsung Galaxy S5. Panoramas can now be up to 43MP in total resolution and a better gyroscope reduces stitching errors.

There’s a brand new ISP in the A8 SoC as well, which is likely to be named the H7 ISP if we follow from the A7. There’s one feature that the iPhone 6 Plus does have that the iPhone 6 doesn’t have for the camera, which is optical image stabilization to reduce handshake. It appears that the entire module is floating instead of just a VCM-based lens stabilization system. There’s also a timelapse feature. The PDAF also helps with continuous AF in video that avoids all of the breathing effects that come with conventional contrast-based focus.

The front facing camera also has a better sensor, f/2.2 aperture, single photo HDR, HDR video, and burst shot on the front facing camera.

Both will launch with iOS 8, which has QuickType that we’ve talked about at the WWDC keynote in addition to Extensibility which allows for TouchID auth in third party apps.

There are new silicone and leather cases with gold, silver, and space gray. The iPhone 6 starts at the usual 199 for 16GB, 299 for 64GB and 399 for 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus comes in the same colors at 299 for 16GB, 399 for 64GB and 499 for 128GB. The iPhone 5s is now 99 USD on 2 year contrast, and the iPhone 5c is free. The new phone will ship on September 19th and preorders begin on September 12th.

Edit: There’s also an Apple Pay system in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus which uses NFC along the top of the phone. This has an encrypted secure element likely on the NFC chip and credit cards are added through Passbook and validation for a purchase can be done using TouchID.

Apple has reassured security concerns by saying that Apple cannot know what is purchased and the cashier cannot see the credit card number or any information to ensure security. Online payment is also handled by Apple Pay which is a one-touch solution using TouchID and one time number from the secure element.

Nokia Lumia 930 Review

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Nokia has once again refreshed its Windows Phone lineup with the release of the Lumia 930, which is the spiritual successor to the Lumia 920 which first launched with Windows Phone 8.0 way back in November 2012. But like the Lumia 630, it takes cues from more than just the Lumia with the closest model number. The Lumia 930 is an interesting combination of many of the other Nokia Windows Phone designs from over the years all wrapped up into a striking package that certainly gives it a new take on the polycarbonate bodies of all of the higher end Lumia devices over the years.

Intel Xeon E5 Version 3: Up to 18 Haswell EP Cores

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Intel’s new Xeon is here, and once again it has impressive specs. The 662 mm² die supports up to eighteen cores, contains two integrated memory controllers, and comes with up to 45MB of L3 cache. We have four different SKUs to test and compare, with each other as well as with the previous generation. We’ve also added some new real world application testing, so join us for one of our biggest server CPU reviews ever.

PCIe SSD Faceoff: Samsung XP941 (128GB & 256GB) and OCZ RevoDrive 350 (480GB) Tested

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We are currently on the verge of PCIe transition. Nearly every SSD controller vendor has shown or at least talked about their upcoming PCIe designs, and the first ones should enter the market in early 2015. In the meantime, there are a couple of existing PCIe drives for the early adopters, namely Samsung XP941 and Plextor M6e, and a variety of RAID-based PCIe SSDs like the OCZ RevoDrive 350. We already reviewed the 512GB Samsung XP941 in May and found it to be the fastest client SSD on the market, but today we are back with the 128GB and 256GB models along with OCZ’s RevoDrive 350.

Motorola Announces the New Moto X: Initial Impressions and Hands On

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Motorola has been through a lot, to say the least. It was only a few years ago that Motorola had become an OEM struggling to stay afloat, as it was effectively an ODM for network operators in the US. We saw phone after phone pushed out with no real cohesive strategy or market. After its acquisition by Google, we saw a major shift. Motoblur was removed, and we saw a move to using the AOSP UI to facilitate faster updates and smoother experience. The only real changes were Motorola’s custom apps and features, which were still following Android’s design principles. However, the Moto X seemed to lack in certain areas. The Snapdragon S4 Pro just couldn’t keep up with the Snapdragon 800 in performance also used more power. The Clear Pixel camera was definitely interesting from an academic perspective, but at launch it was rather disappointing. Combined with Moto Maker exclusivity to AT&T and general exclusivity to the US, the Moto X was a great idea held back by timing and distribution. Today, Motorola hopes to make things right with the new Moto X.

GIGABYTE Server GA-7PESH3 Motherboard Review

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A dual processor system sounds awesome to the home user but in reality it is almost entirely a professional market. The prosumer has to use Xeons at JEDEC memory speeds and then ensure that the software is NUMA aware, especially if it decides searching for data in the other processor’s L3 cache. However now that GIGABYTE Server is selling to the prosumer via Newegg, they sent us the GA-7PESH3 for review.

Seasonic Platinum SS-1050XP3 & SS-1200XP3 Power Supply Review

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Very powerful PSUs may not be all that useful to most users, but they certainly are the pride of any company. Today we’re looking at the new pinnacle of Seasonic’s retail PSUs, the Platinum XP3 series, products designed with very advanced users and cryptocurrency miners in mind. Their advertised performance seems amazing, especially when combined with their reasonable retail price. How well can they perform though? We will find out in this review.

Samsung SSD 845DC EVO/PRO Performance Preview & Exploring IOPS Consistency

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Traditionally Samsung’s enterprise SSDs have only been available to large server OEMs (e.g. Dell, EMC, and IBM). In other words, unless you were buying tens of thousands of drives, Samsung would not sell you any. However, back in June Samsung made a change in its strategy and released the 845DC EVO, Samsung’s first enterprise SSD for the channel. The 845DC EVO was accompanied by the 845DC PRO a month later and today we have a performance preview of both SSDs, along with a glimpse of our new enterprise test suite.

AMD FX-8370E CPU Review: Vishera Down to 95W, Price Cuts for FX

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I will be honest, after AMD did not update its FX processor line with the Steamroller architecture, I was not too hopeful for the brand to see anything new in 2014. But since the start of the year the 5 GHz turbo FX-9590 has been rereleased as a consumer part and today AMD is showing it can get four Piledriver modules down to 95W with a few frequency adjustments and cherry picking the dies. This is accompanied with price cuts for the eight-thread FX parts, which AMD is aiming squarely at similarly priced Intel i5 and i3 processors.

VisionX 420D Review: ASRock’s mini-PC Lineup Continues to Impress

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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 have been reviewing members of their CoreHT lineup (rechristened as VisionHT last year) since the Arrandale days, but today, we are focusing on their gamer-targeted mini-PCs. The VisionX lineup marked the departure from NVIDIA to AMD for the discrete GPU component, and their Haswell version, the VisionX 420D combines a Core i5-4200M with an AMD Radeon R9 M270X. Read on to see how the mini-PC fares under both gaming and HTPC workloads.

The Road Ahead

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Both of my parents were teachers, and for as long as I can remember they both encouraged me to do something in life that would help others. I figured being a doctor would be the most obvious way to do that, but growing up around a pair of teachers must’ve rubbed off on me. My venue wouldn’t be the classroom but rather the Internet. On April 26, 1997, armed with very little actual knowledge, I began to share what I had with the world on a little Geocities site named Anand’s Hardware Tech Page. Most of what I knew was wrong or poorly understood, but I was 14 years old at the time. Little did I know that I had nearly two decades ahead of me to fill in the blanks. I liked the idea of sharing knowledge online and the thought of building a resource where everyone who was interested in tech could find something helpful.

That’s the short story of how I started AnandTech. There’s a lot more to it involving an upgrade to the AMD K6, a PC consulting business I ran for 2 years prior and an appreciation for writing that I didn’t know I had – but that’s the gist.

I’m 32 now. The only things that’ve been more of a constant in my life than AnandTech are my parents. I’ve spent over half of my life learning about, testing, analyzing and covering technology. And I have to say, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

But after 17.5 years of digging, testing, analyzing and writing about the most interesting stuff in tech, it’s time for a change. This will be the last thing I write on AnandTech as I am officially retiring from the tech publishing world. Ryan Smith is taking over as Editor in Chief of AnandTech. Ryan has been working with us for nearly 10 years, he has a strong background in Computer Science and he’s been shadowing me quite closely for the past couple of years. I am fully confident in Ryan’s ability to carry the torch and pick up where I left off. We’ve grown the staff over the course of this year in anticipation of the move. With a bunch of new faces around AnandTech, all eager to uphold the high standards and unique approach to covering tech, I firmly believe the site can continue to thrive for years to come.

It’s important for me to stress two things: this isn’t a transition because of health or business issues. I am healthy and hope to be even more so now that I won’t be flying nearly 130,000 miles every year. The website and business are both extremely strong. We’ve expanded our staff this year to include a number of new faces contributing to both mobile and more traditional PC categories. Traffic is solid, we are looking forward to a bunch of very exciting launches especially in the final quarters of 2014. On the business side we continue an amazing run of being self sustaining, profitable and growing for every since year since 1997. We don’t talk about business affairs much on the site but we set a number of records in 2013 and expect that to continue. In other words, you don’t have to worry about the ability of the site to continue to operate.

Even though I’ve been doing this for nearly 18 years, we’ve evolved with the industry. AnandTech started as a site that primarily reviewed motherboards, then we added CPUs, video cards, cases, notebooks, Macs, smartphones, tablets and anything else that mattered. The site today is just as strong in coverage of new mobile devices as it is in our traditional PC component coverage and there’s a roadmap in place to continue to support both sides of the business. Our learnings in the PC component space helped us approach mobile the right way, and our learnings in the mobile space have helped us bring the PC enthusiast message to a broader audience than would’ve ever seen it before.

Over the past year I’ve transitioned many of my personal coverage areas to other ATers. Ian took over CPUs not too long ago and Josh has been flying solo with our mobile coverage for a bit now. Even the articles I helped co-author with Josh were 90% his. Kristian has more or less been running our entire SSD review program at AnandTech for a while now and he’s been doing a tremendous job. I remember editing one of his pieces and thinking wow, this kid knows more than me. In fact I’d go as far as to say that about all of our editors at this point. We’ve got a sea of specialists here and each one of them knows more than me about the area in which they cover. I’m beyond proud of them all and honored to have worked with them.

On a personal level I’ve made myself available to all AnandTech editors for advice and guidance, however I have fully removed myself from the editorial process. I can offer a suggestion on how to deal with a situation so long as describing the situation does not reveal any confidential information to me.

Thank You All

To everyone I worked with in the industry – thank you for the support and help over the years. You were my mentors. You showed kindness and support to a kid who just showed up one day. I learned from you and every last one of you influenced me at a very formative period in my life. The chance you all took on me, the opportunities, and education you provided all mean the world to me. You trusted me with your products, your engineers and your knowledge – thank you.

To Larry, Cara, Mike, Howard, Virginia, Hilary and the rest of the LMCD team that has supported (and continues to support) AnandTech for almost its entire life, I thank you for making all of this possible. I learned so much about the business side of this world from you all and it helped give me perspective and knowledge that I could have never gotten on my own. For those who don’t know them, the LMCD crew is responsible for the advertising side of AnandTech. They’ve made sure that the lights remained on and were instrumental in fueling some of our biggest growth spurts. 

To the AnandTech editors and staff, both present and past, you guys are awesome. You are easily some of the hardest working, most talented and passionate enthusiasts I’ve ever encountered. Your knowledge always humbles me and the effort that you’ve put into the site puts my own to shame. You’ve always been asked to do the best job possible under sometimes insane time constraints and you’ve always delivered. I know each and every one of you will have a bright future ahead of you. This is your ship to steer now and I couldn’t be happier with the crew.

To the millions of readers who have visited and supported me and the site over the past 17+ years, I owe you my deepest gratitude. You all enabled me to spend over half of my life learning more than I ever could have in any other position. The education I’ve received doing this job and the ability to serve you all with it is the most amazing gift anyone could ever ask for. You enabled me to get the education of a lifetime and I will never be able to repay you for that. Thank you.

I’ve always said that AnandTech is your site and I continue to believe that today. Your support, criticism and push to make us better is what allowed us to grow and succeed.

In the publishing world I always hear people talk about ignoring the comments to articles as a way of keeping sane. While I understood the premise, it’s not something I ever really followed or believed in. Some of the feedback can be harsh, but I do believe that it’s almost always because you expect more from us and want us to do better. That sort of free education and immediate response you all have provided me and the rest of the AnandTech team for years is invaluable. I’m beyond proud and honored by the AnandTech audience. I believe we have some of the most insightful readers I’ve ever encountered. It’s not just our interactions that I’m proud of, but literally every company that we work with recognizes the quality of the audience and the extreme influence you all exert on the market. You’re paid attention t

AMD Radeon R7 SSD (240GB) Review

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In 2011 AMD took the first step in expanding the Radeon brand and partnered with Patriot and VisionTek to provide AMD branded memory. With the launch of the Radeon R7 SSD AMD is continuing this strategy by jumping into the SSD market. Just as they did with memory, AMD is partnering with a third party that handles the development, manufacturing and support of the product, which in the case of the R7 SSD is OCZ. Based on OCZ’s Barefoot 3 controller, the R7 is positioned between the Vector 150 and ARC 100 with its four-year warranty and 30GB/day endurance. Read on to see what AMD’s first SSD adds to the market.

OCZ ARC 100 (240GB) SSD Review

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OCZ launched the Barefoot 3 platform and the Vector SSDs in late 2012, and with their new direction OCZ has been trying to change their image to become a premium manufacturer of high performance SSDs rather than a budget brand. The Vector remained as the only Barefoot 3 based product for months until OCZ introduced the Vertex 450, a not exactly cheap but more mainstream version of the Vector with a shorter three-year warranty. Now, almost two years after the introduction of the Barefoot 3, OCZ is back in the mainstream SSD game with the ARC 100. Read on to find out what has changed and how the ARC 100 performs.

A Month with the iPhone 5s: Impressions from an Android User

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I must confess that the last time I used an iPhone was three or four years ago. While I’ve followed the hardware changes from generation to generation, I’ve never really been able to write about the iPhone or iOS in detail. While objective data is great to work with, a great deal of evaluation relies on subjective experience. To fix this gap in knowledge, I received an iPhone 5s. After a month, I’ve really come to have a much more nuanced view of how Android and iOS compare, along with how Apple’s iPhone compares to the rest of the smartphone market. To find out how it compares, read on for the full article.

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K Review

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MSI has several lines of gaming notebooks catering to different types of users. At the high-end is the GT series that supports the fastest mobile CPUs and GPUs while the GE series caters more towards the cost-conscious buyers. Somewhere in the middle is the GS line, which offers similar (or slightly higher) specifications to the GE series but delivers everything in a refined and more attractive chassis. Read on to find out how the GS60 with a 3K display compares to the other gaming laptops.

NAS Units as VM Hosts: QNAP’s Virtualization Station Explored

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Virtualization has been around since the 1960s, but it has emerged as a hot topic over the last decade or so. Despite the rising popularity, its applications have been mostly restricted to enterprise use. Hardware-assisted virtualization features (AMD-V, VT-x and VT-d, for example) have been slowly making their way into the lower end x86 parts, thereby enabling low-cost virtualization platforms. QNAP is, to our knowledge, the only NAS vendor to offer a virtualization platform (using the Virtualization Station package for QTS) with some of their units. Read on to find out how it works and the impact it has on regular performance.

AMD’s Big Bet on ARM Powered Servers: Opteron A1100 Revealed

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It has been a full seven months since AMD released detailed information about its Opteron A1100 server CPU, and twenty two months since announcement. Today, at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, AMD revealed the final missing pieces about its ARM powered server strategy headlining the A1100. One thing is certainly clear, AMD is betting heavily on ARM powered servers by delivering one of the most disruptive server CPUs yet, and it is getting closer to launch.

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