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Take a Memo, this $150 tablet is rather good

Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2014 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, memo pad ME176C, android 4.2.2, Bay Trail

Powered by a Bay Trail Atom Z3745, 1GB LP DDR3-1066, 16GB eMMC, with support for up to a 64GB SD card and a 7" 1280x800 IPS display the ASUS Memo Pad ME176C is rather impressive for under $150.  Shipping with Android 4.2.2 or 4.4 the Memo Pad is not quite as powerful as NVIDIA's new tablet but is nowhere near as expensive either.  The Tech Report rather liked this device, as did Ryan; for those on a tight budget the new Memo does just about everything you need for basic usage at an acceptable level of performance.

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"Despite its $149 asking price, Asus' Memo Pad ME176C tablet has a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 7" IPS display, and little extras like a Micro SD slot and GPS functionality. We take a quick look at this budget slate to see how well Android runs on x86 hardware--and whether a $149 tablet can deliver a good experience."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Nixeus' MODA Mechanical Keyboard keeps it simple

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2014 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: input, Nixeus, MODA, mechanical keyboard, Kailh, brown

Nixeus is not a household name by any means but they could heat up competition in the mechanical keyboard market as a new player using relatively new Kailh Brown switches.  Like many ten-keyless gaming boards it has extra blue key caps to make your board more interesting, gold plated USB connectors, a 1000Hz Poll Rate and 6 Key Roll-over.  The Kailh Brown switches are clones of Cherry MX Brown switches and felt almost the same when Legit Reviews tested them.  The keyboard is similar to many already on the market but should appeal to those who prefer simplicity over media buttons and LEDs.

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"Founded in California of 2009, Nixeus is still a bit of a newcomer to the PC hardware industry looking to build up a bigger name in the world of monitors and peripherals. Their aggressively priced 1440p monitors which carry the same LG panels found in the iMac displays have been their mainstay for much of that time, but recently Nixeus is expanding to the PC gaming market including the Moda mechanical keyboard being reviewed here on Legit Reviews. Read on to see how this keyboard performs!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

This high end multi-GPU 4k showdown includes overclocking

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 29, 2014 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, gtx 780, R9 290X DC2 OC, sli, crossfire, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, R9 290X

We have seen [H]ard|OCP test ASUS' STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB and R9 290X DirectCU II before but this time they have been overclocked and paired up for a 4k showdown.  For a chance NewEgg gives the price advantage to AMD, $589 versus $599 at the time of writing (with odd blips in prices on Amazon).   The GTX 780 has been set to 1.2GHz and 6.6GHz while the 290X is 1.1GHz and 5.6GHz, keep in mind dual GPU setups may not reach the same frequencies as single cards.  Read on for their conclusions and decide if you prefer to brag about a higher overclock or have better overall performance.

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"We take the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and run two in SLI and overclock both of these at 4K resolutions to find the ultimate gameplay performance with 6GB of VRAM. We will also compare these to two overclocked ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II CrossFire video cards for the ultimate VRAM performance showdown."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A Tablet and Controller Worth Using

An interesting thing happened a couple of weeks back, while I was standing on stage at our annual PC Perspective Hardware Workshop during Quakecon in Dallas, TX. When NVIDIA offered up a SHIELD (now called the SHIELD Portable) for raffle, the audience cheered. And not just a little bit, but more than they did for nearly any other hardware offered up during the show. That included motherboards, graphics card, monitors, even complete systems. It kind of took me aback - NVIDIA SHIELD was a popular brand, a name that was recognized, and apparently, a product that people wanted to own. You might not have guessed that based on the sales numbers that SHIELD has put forward though. Even though it appeared to have a significant mind share, market share was something that was lacking.

Today though, NVIDIA prepares the second product in the SHIELD lineup, the SHIELD Tablet, a device the company hopes improves on the idea of SHIELD to encourage other users to sign on. It's a tablet (not a tablet with a controller attached), it has a more powerful SoC that can utilize different APIs for unique games, it can be more easily used in a 10-ft console mode and the SHIELD specific features like Game Stream are included and enhanced.

The question of course though is easy to put forward: should you buy one? Let's explore.

The NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet

At first glance, the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet looks like a tablet. That actually isn't a negative selling point though, as the SHIELD Tablet can and does act like a high end tablet in nearly every way: performance, function, looks. We originally went over the entirety of the tablet's specifications in our first preview last week but much of it bears repeating for this review.

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The SHIELD Tablet is built around the NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, the first mobile silicon to implement the Kepler graphics architecture. That feature alone makes this tablet impressive because it offers graphics performance not seen in a form factor like this before. CPU performance is also improved over the Tegra 4 processor, but the graphics portion of the die sees the largest performance jump easily.

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A 1920x1200 resolution 7.9-in IPS screen faces the user and brings the option of full 1080p content lacking with the first SHIELD portable. The screen is bright and crisp, easily viewable in bring lighting for gaming or use in lots of environments. Though the Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 had a 2048x1536 resolution screen, the form factor of the SHIELD Tablet is much more in line with what NVIDIA built with the Tegra Note 7.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and Controller!!

Cooler Master's new V-Series; good on the inside but perhaps lacking on externals

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 28, 2014 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, V650S, modular psu, 650W, 80 Plus Gold

With a total rated power of 650W and two PCIe 6+2 power connectors the CM V650S seems to be aimed at entry level gaming systems but the $180 price tag suggests a high end PSU.  It is partially modular and it bears an 80 Plus Gold rating but perhaps the price also comes from Cooler Master's use of a new OEM, Enhance?  [H]ard|OCP did find it at a much more reasonable $80 on Tiger Direct but it is now out of stock and it does not seem to appear on NewEgg at all right now.   Overall there is a lot of good things to be said about the internals of the PSU but on the outside there is much left to be desired.  Check out the review but perhaps wait for the second version of the V650S before purchasing one.

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"Cooler Master has been off the enthusiast radar in terms of computer power supplies for a while now. It simply walked a different line than much of the rest of the field. Today however we have one of Cooler Master's second foray back into the high end with a mid-level PSU rated for operation at 650 watts."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

What is in a brand? The tale of two low cost SSDs

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2014 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: adata, SP610, corsair, Force LX, 512GB

Two drives are competing for the budget segments money on Legit Reviews, the $250 Corsair Force LX 512GB and the $240 ADATA SP610 512GB SSD.  512GB should be enough for most budget users to store their needed software on and save them the cost of an HDD but which will offer the most value for the money?  Both drives have Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller and 20nm Micron MLC NAND, the same 3 year warranty and the same physical measurements.  Does one stand out over the other?  Read the full review to see.

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"Solid-State Drive (SSD) have been steadily growing in capacity and thanks to improvements to the manufacturing processes the price of NAND and SSD controllers has been falling at an impressive rate. This means that fairly large SSDs are now fairly affordable and something the for the average consumer can justify purchasing."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 is starting to arrive, more pixels and less screen door

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2014 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, DK2, oled, kick ass

The two top improvements in the second Oculus rift are aimed to reduce the screen door effect by changing the display to a full 1080p OLED screen and the inclusion of Valve's low persistence of vision feature to reduce the image smearing that DK1 users reported.  There is a brand new way of tracking your heads position in 3D with the DK2, a camera tracks the motion of hidden onboard IR LEDs to track translational movement in addition to the rotational tracking existent on the DK1.  You will need 2 free USB ports and it connects to an HDMI or DVI port on your GPU, wireless video streaming is still a hurdle for many applications let alone the Oculus Rift.  Check out the comments on Slashdot and follow the link for a full preview.

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"The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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The next candidate in our barrage of ThinkPad reviews is the ThinkPad Yoga, which, at first glance, might seem a little bit redundant.  After all, we’ve already got three current-gen Yoga models to choose from between the Yoga 2 11- and 13-inch iterations and the Yoga 2 Pro top-end selection.  What could possibly be missing?

Well, in fact, as is often the case when choosing between well-conceived notebook models, it isn’t so much about what’s missing as it is priorities.  Whereas the consumer-grade Yoga models all place portability, slimness, and aesthetics in the highest regard, the ThinkPad Yoga subscribes to a much more practical business-oriented approach, which (nearly) always instead favors function over form.  It’s a conversation we’ve had here at PC Perspective a thousand times before, but yet again, it is the core ThinkPad philosophy which separates the ThinkPad Yoga from other notebooks of its type.  Suffice it to say, in fact, that really the only reason to think of it as a Yoga at all is the unique hinge design and affiliated notebook/tablet convertibility; excepting that, this seems much closer to an X240 than anything in Lenovo’s current consumer-grade lineup.  And carrying a currently-configurable street price of around $1,595 currently, it’s positioned as such, too.

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But it isn’t beyond reproach.  Some of the same questionable decisions regarding design changes which we’ve covered in our recent ThinkPad reviews still apply to the Yoga.  For instance, the much-maligned clickpad is back, bringing with it vivid nightmares of pointer jumpiness and click fatigue that were easily the biggest complaint about the T440s and X240 we recently reviewed.  The big question today is whether these criticisms are impactful enough to disqualify the ThinkPad Yoga as a rational alternative to other ThinkPad convertibles and the consumer-grade Yoga models.  It’s a tall order, so let’s tackle it.

First up, the specs:

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While most of this list is pretty conventional, the astute might have already picked out one particular item which tops the X240 we recently reviewed: a possible 16 GB of dual-channel RAM.  The X240 was limited to just 8 GB of single-channel memory thanks to a mere single SODIMM slot.  The ThinkPad Yoga also boasts a 1080p screen with a Wacom digitizer pen—something which is clearly superior to our X240 review unit.  Sadly missing, however, are the integrated Gigabit Ethernet port and the VGA port—and the mini DisplayPort has been replaced by a mini-HDMI, which ultimately is decidedly inferior.

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Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga!!!

Raptr Update Available (for Both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs)

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 28, 2014 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: raptr, pc game streaming

Raptr seems to be gaining in popularity. Total playtime recorded by the online service was up 15% month-over-month, from May to June. The software is made up of a few features that are designed to make the lives of PC gamers easier and better, ranging from optimizing game settings to recording gameplay. If you have used a recent version of GeForce Experience, then you probably have a good idea of what Raptr does.

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Today, Raptr has announced a new, major update. The version's headlining feature is hardware accelerated video recording, and streaming, for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. Raptr claims that their method leads to basically no performance lost, regardless of which GPU vendor is used. Up to 20 minutes of previous gameplay can be recorded after it happened and video of unlimited length can be streamed on demand.

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Notice the recording overlay in the top left.

The other, major feature of this version is enhanced sharing of said videos. They can be uploaded to Raptr.com and shared to Facebook and Twitter, complete with hashtags (#BecauseYolo?)

If interested, check out Raptr at their website.

Source: Raptr

Silverstone's Raven RV05 is much smaller than the original

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 25, 2014 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, raven rv05

The newest Raven from SilverStone is the RV05 which continues the unique look and motherboard orientation of the Raven series. The filtration system continues in the same pattern as previous models with most of the removable screens accessible without needing to disassemble the case.  At 9.5"W x 20.8"H x 19.6"L it is smaller than the previous models which has reduced the number of 2.5" and 3.5" drives which will fit into the case; you will have to decide if the smaller size is worth the sacrifice.  Check out the sound and temperature levels of this case in [H]ard|OCP's full review.

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"The SilverStone Raven series of cases long ago broke the mold when it comes to "normal" computer chassis. Its design execution has always been good and the Ravens' airflow characteristics are excellent. Today SilverStone pushes the new Raven RV05 out there a little bit further in terms of design and function."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Every Commie64 game on an SD card is retrotacular

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: commodore 64, gaming, arduino nano, Tapuino

Over at Hack a Day is a link to a project which will warm the hearts of old gamers everywhere, a tape reader emulator for the C64.  Built using a Arduino Nano V3 with an added SD card reader and with a rather low level of difficulty to build there is now a way to relive your misspent youth assuming you still have a working C64 on display somewhere.  The total build will cost less than $20 making this great for folks looking to get into programming Arduino and building their own electronics.  Check it out here.

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"One of the machines that didn’t make it into his collection until recently was a Commodore 64 with Datasette and 1541 drive. With no tapes and a 1541 disk drive that required significant restoration, he looked at other devices to load programs onto his C64."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer:

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

A few months back, we took a look at the ADATA Premier Pro SP920 series of SSDs. Those came equipped with the Marvell 88SS9189 controller. Marvell SSD controllers have always done a good job, and they were among the first to support SATA 6Gbit speeds. Crucial was one of the first to adopt the Marvell controller into their SATA SSD products, so it seems fitting that we revisit the 88SS9189 controller in the form of Micron's Crucial M550 Series of SSDs:

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Being one of the big manufacturers of SSDs, Micron has some cool production videos. Here's one of their videos covering the production of flash all the way through to the assembly of an SSD. We actually toured one of these plants a few years back. Good stuff:

Continue reading as we evaluate all available capacities of the Crucial M550!!

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Available for Pre-order on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 10:04 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia

Just a small note to continue with our SHIELD Tablet coverage. It turns out that the $299 (16GB) SHIELD Tablet, its cover, and its wireless controller are all available for pre-order on Amazon. The unit will actually be available on July 29th, but we were not aware that pre-orders would be possible until now.

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While Ryan wrote a preview for the SHIELD Tablet, he is not giving a final word until he gets it into his lab and is capable of giving a full review. Also, we do not know how many units will be available. Whether you should pre-order, or wait for Ryan's final word, is up to you.

Thanks to our fans for alerting us of this availabilty in the IRC during TWiCH.

Source: Amazon

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce 800-Series Is 28nm in Oct/Nov.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 24, 2014 - 07:32 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 880

Many of our readers were hoping to drop one (or more) Maxwell-based GPUs in their system for use with their 4K monitors, 3D, or whatever else they need performance for. That has not happened, nor do we even know, for sure, when it will. The latest rumors claim that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870 and 880 desktop GPUs will arrive in October or November. More interesting, it is expected to be based on GM204 at the current, 28nm process.

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The recent GPU roadmap, as of GTC 2014

NVIDIA has not commented on the delay, at least that I know of, but we can tell something is up from their significantly different roadmap. We can also make a fairly confident guess, by paying attention to the industry as a whole. TSMC has been struggling to keep up with 28nm production, having increased wait times by six extra weeks in May, according to Digitimes, and whatever 20nm capacity they had was reportedly gobbled up by Apple until just recently. At around the same time, NVIDIA inserted Pascal between Maxwell and Volta with 3D memory, NVLink, and some unified memory architecture (which I don't believe they yet elaborated on).

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The previous roadmap. (Source: Anandtech)

And, if this rumor is true, Maxwell was pushed from 20nm to a wholly 28nm architecture. It was originally supposed to be host of unified virtual memory, not Pascal. If I had to make a safe guess, I would assume that NVIDIA needed to redesign their chip to 28nm and, especially with the extra delays at TSMC, cannot get the volume they need until Autumn.

Lastly, going by the launch of the 750ti, Maxwell will basically be a cleaned-up Kepler architecture. Its compute units were shifted into power-of-two partitions, reducing die area for scheduling logic (and so forth). NVIDIA has been known to stash a few features into each generation, sometimes revealing them well after retail availability, so that is not to say that Maxwell will be "a more efficient Kepler".

I expect its fundamental architecture should be pretty close, though.

Source: KitGuru

I Guess Battlefield Isn't Annualized - Hardline Delayed to 2015

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2014 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: battlefield, battlefield hardline

Yeah, I will admit it, the title is a joke. EA can annualize Battlefield as much as they like (as long as quality does not drop). The point is that Battlefield: Hardline has been delayed until early 2015. It is only a few extra months, which haters can still it to be a yearly release schedule, but it will not be under your tree, at least not this year.

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Apparently, release dates are not hard lines...

DICE (not Visceral??) made the announcement on their Battlefield blog. Three areas will be worked on with the free time: Multiplayer "Innovation", Single Player Story "Depth", and Stability. I could remember a time, prior to ubiquitous internet access, that "stability" was a certification requirement, not a stretch goal. That was also a time that some platform owners could push you out of their first-party release windows to increase their own sales. I guess, give and take?

Battlefield: Hardline is now set for a launch in early 2015. That should be one less distraction from your Grand Theft Auto V PC experience.

Source: Battlefield

BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 24, 2014 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: biostar, z97, Hi-Fi Z97WE

BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE is so named for the EMI shield over the Realtek ALC892 audio codec though on the board The Tech Report tested it was less than effective at blocking noise from interfering with the headphone out when the GPU was under heavy load.  On the other hand the Digital S/PDIF audio out is rare to see on a lower priced motherboard and will be attractive to some users, even with the lack of digital encoding. The two PCIe 16x slots can handle dual GPUs at 8x speeds but perhaps the most attractive feature is the M.2 slot for an SSD to be inserted.  Check out how well it overclocks and the overall stability of this $124 motherboard in the full review.

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"Biostar's latest Haswell motherboard sells for only $125, but it's specced like pricier alternatives. You get an overclocking-friendly Z97 chipset, PCIe slots primed for multi-GPU configs, an M.2 slot for next-gen SSDs, and upgraded audio hardware. We spent some quality time with the Hi-Fi Z97WE to see what it's really like, and you might be surprised by what we learned."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

The new netbook?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, netbook, Bay Trail

According to DigiTimes we may see a resurgence of netbooks, this time powered by Bay Trail which will make them far more usable than the original generation.  There are three postulated tiers, the $200-250 range of 10.1-15.6" models and $250-400 or $400-600 in 11.6-17.3" which will make them larger in size than the original generation which failed to attract many consumers.  They are currently scheduled to ship with Bay Trail-M with future models likely to have Braswell inside in a mix of transformer style 2 in 1's with touchscreens and more traditional laptop designs.  You can expect to see a maximum thickness of 25mm and a mix of HDD and SSD storage on these and we can only hope that the estimated pricing is more accurate than the pricing on Ultrabooks turned out to be.

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"For the US$199-249 notebooks, Intel and Microsoft's specification preferences are 10.1- to 15.6-inch clamshell non-touchscreen models using Intel's Bay Trail-M series processors or upcoming Braswell-based processors, which are set to release in the second quarter of 2015."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #310 - NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro HDDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2014 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, shield, shield tablet, tegra, tegra k1, WD, red, 6tb red, 4tb red pro, A88X-G45 Gaming, xiaomi, maxwell, amd, Intel

PC Perspective Podcast #310 - 07/24/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro HDDs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:25:40

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital
Tagged: wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, hdd, 6tb, 4TB

Introduction and Specs

Introduction:

*** NOTE ***

In the preparation for this review, we noted abnormal behavior with the 6TB Red. After coordination with Western Digital, they replicated our results and will be issuing a firmware to correct the issue. We are publishing this piece as-is, with caveats added as appropriate. We will revisit this piece with an additional update once we have retested the 6TB Red on the updated firmware / configuration. More information / detail is available in our related news post on this matter.

*** END NOTE ***

Last year we covered the benefits of TLER enabled drives, and the potential for drive errors in a RAID can lead to the potential loss of entire arrays. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series was since incrementally updated to include a 4TB capacity, and other Western Digital lines were also scaled up to 4TB capacities.

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This week the Red line was updated to include both 5TB and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).

Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.

As a recap of what can potentially happen if you have a large RAID with 'normal' consumer grade HDD's (and by consumer grade I mean those without any form of Time Limited Error Recovery, or TLER for short):

  • Array starts off operating as normal, but drive 3 has a bad sector that cropped up a few months back. This has gone unnoticed because the bad sector was part of a rarely accessed file.
  • During operation, drive 1 encounters a new bad sector.
  • Since drive 1 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 1 and marks it offline.
  • Array is now in degraded status with drive 1 marked as failed.
  • User replaces drive 1. RAID controller initiates rebuild using parity data from the other drives.
  • During rebuild, RAID controller encounters the bad sector on drive 3.
  • Since drive 3 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 3 and marks it offline.
  • Rebuild fails.
  • Blamo, your data is now (mostly) inaccessible.

I went into much further detail on this back in the intro to the WD 3TB Red piece, but the short of it is that you absolutely should use a HDD intended for RAID when building one.

Continue reading our review of the new WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro!!

Western Digital launches 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro - with a configuration issue

Subject: Storage | July 23, 2014 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, 6tb, 4TB

Western Digital has extended its Red line with 5 and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).

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Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.

We typically have our WD reviews post right at the NDA. On this piece, we opted to hold back as we've been working with Western Digital on some abnormal performance results we saw with the 6TB Red. Below are the results seen in Iometer. Note that the 6TB Red failed to demonstrate the expected 'ramp up' seen with other drives. HDDs normally show increased performance as Queue Depth increases. This is because the HDD controller is able to see multiple pending requests and optimize its access pattern. The more commands in the queue (higher QD), the more the HDD can optimize the pattern, and therefore the higher resulting IOPS seen.

iometer-ios-file.png

As you can see above, the 6TB Red appears to behave as if NCQ is disabled. Some might argue (in reviews that have already published) that the drive still performs well, but the plain truth of the matter is that a HDD effectively operating without NCQ removes the drives ability to scale when multiple commands are issued. Any test issuing more than one command simultaneously will see a lesser result as compared to a properly configured drive, so things like streaming multiple videos or several users actively simultaneously accessing a NAS will see a negative impact on performance.

The 4TB Red Pro did not demonstrate the issues noted above, and Western Digital has just issued this statement in response to our feedback. Here it is:

WD has learned that initial production units of WD Red 5* and 6 TB drives perform below our expectations in random-read benchmark tests when measured with specific testing software. We have found a configuration setting to be causing these particular test results, for which we are developing a firmware update to correct the configuration setting. In the intended application -- multi-drive NAS systems -- the drives have performed to our high expectations in WD’s labs and by our system partners; users will experience normal WD Red performance.

WD is committed to providing optimally performing storage products, designed for intended applications, and we will have a firmware update available through the WD Red Product Customer Service support line as it becomes available.

*Limited quantities of 5 TB have shipped with the earlier configuration setting.

We have decided to publish the full article covering both new drives, including the 6TB Red in its (currently shipping) misconfigured form. It will go live once I add the necessary verbiage explaining the misconfiguration seen on the 5TB and 6TB Red. Stay tuned for that piece later tonight (**EDIT** our review is now live **EDIT**), as well as a follow-on piece to be published as soon as we have the updated firmware from Western Digital.

Full press blast on the 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro appears after the break.