Nixeus MODA Mechanical Keyboard Capsule Review

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Today we’re looking at the Nixeus MODA, a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard designed for applications where a compact quality keyboard at the lowest possible cost is the main goal. It lacks backlighting and advanced features but comes with a three-year warranty and has a competitive price tag. If you are interested in a "no frills, no thrills" kind of product, then the Nixeus MODA may be just right for you.

Intel Xeon E5-2687W v3 and E5-2650 v3 Review: Haswell-EP with 10 Cores

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During September we managed to get hold of some Haswell-EP samples for a quick run through our testing suite. The Xeon E5 v3 range extends beyond that of the E5 v2 with the new architecture, support for DDR4 and more SKUs with more cores. These are generally split into several markets including workstation, server, low power and high performance, with a few SKUs dedicated for communications or off-map SKUs with different levels of support. Today we are testing two 10 core models, the Xeon E5-2687W v3 and the Xeon E5-2650 v3.

The 2014 Razer Blade Review

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In early 2014 the Razer Blade got a refresh. The significant updates over the 2013 model are the display, moving from a (rather poor) 1600×900 panel to a 3200×1800 QHD+ IGZO display and an upgraded GPU to push all of the extra pixels they just added. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M replaces the GTX 765M from the 2013 model. Read on for our full review.

GIGABYTE BRIX GB-BXi7-4500 Review: Intel Core i7 in a UCFF PC

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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 marker. Intel kickstarted the category with their Sandy Bridge NUC kits in early 2013. Recognizing the popularity of this segment, other vendors also began to promote similar products. GIGABYTE targets this market segment with an extensive lineup of products under the BRIX brand. Late last year, GIGABYTE sent us their high-end vanilla BRIX, the GB-BXi7-4500. Unlike Intel’s Haswell NUCs (with a i5-based SKU at the top end), this BRIX brings a Haswell i7 ULV processor into the UCFF market. Read on to find out what an i7 CPU can deliver in this form factor.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M: Mobile to the Maxwell

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Every year NVIDIA launches quite a few new products; some are better than others, but they’re all interesting. This fall, the big news is Maxwell 2.0, aka GM204. Initially launched last month as the GTX 980 and GTX 970, NVIDIA is hopefully changing the way notebook gamers get treated by launching the mobile version of the GM204 just one month later. We already covered all of the new features in the desktop launch, but now we have specifications for the mobile versions. Read on for a preview of GM204 on notebooks as NVIDIA seeks to close the performance gap with desktops.

MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard Review: Five is Alive

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Sometimes it feels odd to review the cheaper elements of the motherboard market. The more expensive models have more to play with, whereas the sub $160 market for Z97 comes down to the choice of an individual controller or two. Here is where brand loyalty and styling seem to matter more than absolute feature set. To make matters worse for MSI, one of the other manufacturers is also branding their motherboards with ‘Gaming X’, making it harder to forge that nomenclature as a brand. Today we are looking at the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 at $160, which at the time of writing was sold out on Newegg.

Antec EDGE 550W Power Supply Review

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Today we are looking at Antec’s latest PSU series, the EDGE, which the company markets as "the pinnacle of power supplies". Bold statements aside, only medium capacity units are available and silence seekers are their main target. We’re reviewing the lowest capacity model of the series, with a maximum output of just 550 Watts, which means this is a PSU that could be used by a larger number of users. Let’s see how it performs.

ASRock Z97 OC Formula Motherboard Review: Less Lamborghini, More Yellow

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ASRock is quietly confident of its OC Formula range. We awarded the Z77 version because of its aggressive tactics at the $240 price point and while the Z87 model offered even more but at $330 it missed that sub-$250 market which cheaper overclocking builds are built on. The Z97 OC Formula ditches the Lamborghini on the box and comes back down to earth at $210, although the feature set becomes lighter as a result. The mainstream overclocking motherboard market is always hot at $200, so today we are putting the Z97 OC Formula through its paces.

The iPhone 6 Review

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With every launch of the iPhone, Apple seems to have everything to lose and not much to gain. Apple’s iPhone line accounts for the majority of profits in the smartphone space, and as the smartphone market marches towards maturity it seems inevitable that companies like Xiaomi will be able to deliver largely similar experiences at much lower prices. The same was once happened with Apple in the days of the PC industry where Apple approached irrelevance. Yet generation after generation, Apple seems to be able to hold on to a majority of the profit share, and they’ve managed to tenaciously hold on to their first-mover advantage. To find out if they can continue that trend with the latest iPhone launch, read on for the full review.

Micron M600 (128GB, 256GB & 1TB) SSD Review

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Those that have been following the SSD industry for a couple of years are likely aware that Micron does not sell retail drives under its own brand (unlike, e.g. Samsung and Intel). Instead Micron has two subsidiaries, Crucial and Lexar, with their sole purpose being the handling of retail sales. The Crucial side handles RAM and SSD sales, whereas Lexar is focused on memory cards and USB flash drives. The Micron crew is left with business to business sales, which consists of OEM sales as well as direct sales to some large corporations. Since the MX100 Micron and Crucial have had separate product planning teams and the M600 is the first Micron-only product to come out of that. Read on to see how the M600 differs from the retail MX100.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Review: Featuring EVGA

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Last week we took a look at NVIDIA’s newest consumer flagship video card, the GeForce GTX 980. Today in the second part of our series on the GTX 900 series we’re taking a look at its lower-tier, lower priced counterpart, the GeForce GTX 970. With a price of just $329, GTX 970 is just as interesting (if not more interesting overall) than its bigger sibling. The performance decrease from the reduced clockspeeds and fewer SMMs that comes with being a GTX x70 part is going to be tangible, but then so is a $220 savings to the pocketbook. With GTX 980 already topping our charts, if GTX 970 can stay relatively close then it would be a very tantalizing value proposition for enthusiast gamers who want to buy in to GM204 at a lower price.

The Intel Haswell-E X99 Motherboard Roundup with ASUS, GIGABYTE, ASRock and MSI

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The launch of Haswell-E ushered in a triumvirate of new technology – a new CPU line, a new motherboard chipset and DDR4 memory. Today we focus on the new consumer motherboard chipset, X99, with motherboards from all four major manufacturers: the ASUS X99-Deluxe, the GIGABYTE X99-UD7 WiFi, the ASRock X99 WS and the MSI X99S SLI Plus.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review: Maxwell Mark 2

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At the start of this year we saw the first half of the Maxwell architecture in the form of the GeForce GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti. Based on the first generation Maxwell based GM107 GPU, NVIDIA did something we still can hardly believe and managed to pull off a trifecta of improvements over Kepler. GTX 750 Ti was significantly faster than its predecessor, it was denser than its predecessor (though larger overall), and perhaps most importantly consumed less power than its predecessor. In GM107 NVIDIA was able to significantly improve their performance and reduce their power consumption at the same time, all on the same 28nm manufacturing node we’ve come to know since 2012. For NVIDIA this was a major accomplishment, and to this day competitor AMD doesn’t have a real answer to GM107’s energy efficiency.

However GM107 was only the start of the story. In deviating from their typical strategy of launching high-end GPU first – either a 100/110 or 104 GPU – NVIDIA told us up front that while they were launching in the low end first because that made the most sense for them, they would be following up on GM107 later this year with what at the time was being called “second generation Maxwell”. Now 7 months later and true to their word, NVIDIA is back in the spotlight with the first of the second generation Maxwell GPUs, GM204.

The New Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) Review

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While I talked about Motorola’s issues in the launch article for the new Moto X, it’s well worth repeating. Motorola has been through a lot these past few years. Once the iconic symbol of Android with their Droid smartphones, Motorola had lost its way. It wasn’t unusual to see one phone launch after the other, with no real regard for strategy, and no real cohesive message to tie all of their devices together. If anything, there was a point where Motorola had become an ODM for network operators in the US, with no real international presence. After Google acquired it in 2012, we saw the launch of the Moto X in 2013. The amount of hype that I saw online before the announcement of the Moto X was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, the device that launched didn’t quite fit with the hype. The Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset was decidedly mid-range by the time it launched. The display was good for the time, but AMOLED wasn’t quite the imminent LCD replacement that it is today. The camera was also rather unfortunate at launch. For better or worse, the Moto X was a phone with the right size and shape, but a lot of hardware choices that aged poorly. This leads us to the new Moto X. On the surface, this phone corrects a lot of issues that were present in the original Moto X. The new Moto X brings an SoC that is up to par with its competition, a new camera with a Sony sensor, and an improved AMOLED panel. To find out how it performs, read on for the full review.

SanDisk Ultra II (240GB) SSD Review

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For nearly two years Samsung was the only manufacturer with an SSD that utilized TLC NAND. Most of the other manufacturers had talked about TLC SSDs in one way or another, but nobody had come up with anything retail worthy until now. A month ago SanDisk took the stage and unveiled the Ultra II, the company’s first TLC SSD and the first TLC SSD that is not by Samsung. Read on for our full review.

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.

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