Some computer components get all the glory. Your normal lineup of FPS crushing GPU’s, Handbrake dominating CPU’s, and super-fast Memory end up with most of the headlines. Yet behind the scenes, there are some computer components we use that are pivotal in our use and enjoyment of computers and receive very little fanfare. Without networking we wouldn’t have file sharing, LAN parties or even the Internet itself. Without routers and network adapters, we wouldn’t have networking.
ASUS recently sent a whole slew of networking components our way and we’ve decided to take them for a spin and see if they’re worth your hard earned dollars. Our box of ASUS goodies included:
- ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
- ASUS PCE-N10 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS PCE-N15 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS USB-N53 - Dual Band Wireless N Adapter
- ASUS USB-N66 - Dual Band Wireless-N900 Adapter
Without further ado, let’s jump in and tackle each one.
ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
Routers are one of those components that most of us don’t really think about unless something goes horribly wrong. Most people will buy one they find on a big box store shelf (or even worse, just use their ISP’s router), pull it out of the box, plug a few cables into it and then forget about it in a closet for a few years.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 16, 2012 - 05:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: whatthecamera, padfone, asus
Out of fairness to our American viewers I will state upfront that information for North America is not currently available and will surface at a later date. ASUS currently only has availability information for the Eastern Hemisphere.
Today, ASUS released their official announcement for their upcoming PadFone 2.
The original PadFone launched just about six months ago starting with Taiwan in April of this year and reaching Australia by August. The refresh adds a half of an inch to the screen but changes the display technology from Super AMOLED to Super IPS+ LCD/LED. (Edit: The original PadFone screen was 4.2" and the new one is 4.7". The PadFone 2 dock screen is 10.1")
While common convention suggests that a Super AMOLED screen has a higher true contrast than a SuperIPS+ LCD/LED TV we will not know for sure until launch how the latter’s specific SuperIPS+ will stack up the former’s specific Super AMOLED in that metric. On the other hand, we are certain - because ASUS said so - that the SuperIPS+ screen will be 720 HD resolution unlike the 960x540p screen of the original Super AMOLED.
The internals are getting the largest refresh. The functional RAM of the unit is doubling to 2GB of RAM and the number of cores doubles from dual to quad while maintaining their 1.5 GHz clockrate. The camera also got a resolution bump from 8 megapixels all the way to 13 megapixels. This camera will also be able to take 1080p video at 30fps or 720p video at 60fps.
Again we will need to reserve full judgement until the phone launches whether we will notice a bump in quality with the finer resolution sensor. One trick that a lot of digital camera manufacturers play is putting a ridiculous sensor in a camera behind a lens that cannot focus down that far because it makes for a large number on your box.
My photographer side was drawn to the f/2.4 aperture and burst mode capabilities: the phone will be capable of taking 6 shots per second for over 16 solid seconds. That is a 100-shot consecutive, solid burst of pictures for those times when you want to capture a specific moment. I guess that is as good of a reason as any to justify sticking twice the RAM of a typical netbook in a phone. The wide aperture should also help with low light performance if you can get in a situation that is not too sensitive to depth of field blur and if the minimum focal distance is small enough let you soften the background of your macro shots.
The 2140mAh battery is rated for 13 hours of Wi-Fi usage. When connected to the tablet dock the phone will have access to its 5000mAh battery. Sure it will also have a 10.1” screen to power but that is still almost two and a half times the capacity of the phone itself.
The PadFone 2 will launch in 19 countries across Europe and Asia by the end of the year with other countries to be announced later. Official press blast after the break.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
It's been a couple months since we've had a chance to evaluate a Z77-based motherboard, so we are taking this opportunity to throw ASUS's P8Z77-V Deluxe on our test bench to put it through our comprehensive real-world and synthetic benchmarks. This $279 board has been available for several months and supports the LGA 1155 platform that includes Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors.
Courtesy of ASUS
There are many features to drool over about the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe, but my favorite ones include the board's unique power management features, Wi-Fi functionality with remote access, and customized UEFI BIOS. This board also includes other enhancements that focus on support for faster USB 3.0 and PCIe 3.0 integration as well as extra SATA 6GB/s ports that provide double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 2, 2012 - 08:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: overclock, asus
ASUSTeK has just accomplished a new world record overclock with their ASUS Maximus V Extreme motherboard. They calculated 1 million digits of Pi in a time of 5s 94ms which beats the current best time 5s 125ms according to HWBot. This result once validated lands the Maximus V Extreme in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place positions.
ASUS has once again broke records in the Pi eating contest with their Maximus V Extreme motherboard.
It must be a fun day for an overclocker when you get to play with Liquid Helium. While I attended the Physics department of Queen’s University up here in Canada the facility was known for its condensed matter group. Much of the building was fitted with piping to recapture and recondense the Helium after its experiments strictly due to how much it cost and how rare it is. If someone offers for you to break an overclocking record with it you are obliged to say yes.
The achieved overclock appears to be tuned towards the application. Memory frequency was kept at 1333 MHz with a FSB of about 110 MHz. I would expect this multiplier-centric overclock is designed to keep the overclock focused on sheer number crunching which Super Pi likely relies on over memory bandwidth. Perhaps reduced memory timings might even come in to play for applications like this?
ASUS broke a few records with their Liquid Helium attempt. As of time of writing none of these records have been updated to the HWBot leaderboard.
With Super Pi running to 1 million digits Asus and their team recorded a time of 5s 94ms -- 31 milliseconds faster than the current leading time of 5s 125ms. The current leaderboard already contains the ASUS Maximus V Extreme motherboard in Gold, Silver, and Bronze positions. This podium has already been well represented by the Maximus V.
When you cannot be satisfied with 1 million digits of pi you can run the marathon to 32 million digits.
The most current record that I could find was set by a team sponsored by GSkill who achieved the time of 4min 44sec 609ms just a couple of weeks ago. ASUS and their team - which apparently has at least one member, “Smoke”, in common with the team GSkill assembled - also beat this record by almost 2 full seconds with a score of 4min 43s 0ms.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | October 2, 2012 - 04:44 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, silent pc, passive cooling, asus, APU, amd
AMD officially launched its desktop Trinity APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) today, and along with the new processors are a number of new socket FM2 motherboards to support them. One of the cooler motherboard and Trinity APU pairings was shown off today in a completely silent PC by ASUS and AMD in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Japan.
The silent system is nested inside a Streacom FC5 chassis that does double duty as a case and heatsink for the AMD APU. Inside the system is an unidentified power supply, two DDR3 DIMMS, Corsair Force SSD, ASUS F2A85-M PRO motherboard, and – of course – the AMD A10-5700K APU that we recently reviewed.
The APU is covered by an aluminum and copper block that is then connected to the metal case via four heatpipes. Then, the outside of the case has a finned design to provide more cooling surface area (but likely just to make it look cooler, heh).
This passively cooled system would make for a really nice home theater PC case, and the GPU prowess of the Trinity APU is well suited to such a task. You can find more photos of the fan-less Trinity system over at FanlessTech.
What do you think of Trinity, and will you be using it in your next build?
Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 02:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: purchase, merger, asus, asrock
The news from DigiTimes yesterday that Haswell will take even more features away from the motherboard and place them on the CPU signalled a problem for second and third tier manufacturers was worrying. With less and less features being available for motherboard manufacturers to use to distinguish their products the market becomes less profitable for those boards which can't afford the additional costs incurred by including Thunderbolt or other high end features. That could well spell the end of several current motherboard manufacturers.
If that wasn't enough to worry you about the possibility of having less choice in system parts in the future, how about the news coming out of SemiAccurate that ASUS is looking to purchase ASRock's motherboard business. If that was to occur ASUS would own a huge portion of the first tier of motherboards and swamp Gigabyte with the volume they could produce. At the same time they could leverage ASRock's lower cost motherboard business and compete with the second tier motherboard manufacturers. With the competition being so fierce and the added features being so limited, at least for Intel boards, the third tier would not have a snowballs chance in the market and would collapse except for a few custom boards for niche markets. Not the best news for enthusiasts or cost conscious consumers.
"Currently word has it that an offer has been made for Asrock, and Pegatron is essentially fine with the terms. This would take the #1 and #3 mobo makers and combine them, leaving the industry with one massive behemoth, one solid player, and a lot of minnows struggling to make waves. As of now, there is a first tier of Asus and Gigabyte, then Asrock, MSI, and ECS at less than half of that volume, plus a few niche players in the motherboard market."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate's OCZ gobble was real, but went sour in CEO row @ The Register
- Adobe scrambles to revoke stolen cert @ The Register
- Touchscreen controller ICs in tight supply @ DigiTimes
- Making logic gates out of crabs @ Hack a Day
- Arctic Breeze USB Fan Review @ Legit Reviews
- Guru3D Rig of the Month for September 2012
- A Quick Review of Acronis True Image 2013 @ Techgage
- BE QUIET! COMPETITION @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 04:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, resolution, asus, Zenbook Prime, win7, disappoint
The Tech Report were excited by the arrival of the new ASUS Zenbook Prime with its 1920x1080 13.3" IPS display but when they they used it under Win7 they ran into some problems. As the text at this resolution is absolutely tiny on a 13.3" screen it is zoomed to 125% which is about right for text on the desktop, the third party applications however did not necessarily look right and when they fired up IE9 it got much worse, as you can see below. As there is a new almost finished version of Windows 8 available, which touts its ability to handle high pixel per inch screens, they loaded that OS onto the Zenbook in the hopes of improving the look of the web. Read their disappointing results from using Win8 and IE10 on small screen with a big resolution.
"We've taken Windows 8 for a spin on Asus' new Zenbook Prime in order to get a feel for the new OS's PPI scaling capabilities. As we found, Windows 8's suitability for systems with high-PPI screens may have been exaggerated."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Western Digital adds 4TB offering to hard drive line @ The Inquirer
- Google spikes old MS file formats @ The Register
- Intel Haswell processor design may cause motherboard players to exit market @ DigiTimes
- New critical Java flaw claimed @ The Register
- Tri-mounted monitors using strut channeling (no welding) @ Hack a Day
- Laser power system keeps UAVs flying indefinitely @ Hack a Day
- Trinity interview with AMD VP Leslie Sobon @ Kitguru
- Samsung slaps swift patch over phone-wiping Galaxy S III vuln @ The Register
- Intel’s Clover Trail is a bloated nightmare @ SemiAccurate
- Win a MDSSD TweakTown Chris Ramseyer Signature Edition by SuperSSpeed 128GB SLC SSD @ SSD Review
Subject: Motherboards | September 21, 2012 - 05:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, p8z77-V deluxe
The ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe has a 20-phase power design, more heatsinks than an assault mech and a long list of features including a pair of PCIe 16x slots for CrossFireX and SLI, LucidLogix Virtu MVP, Quick Sync video, Smart Response Technology, Smart Connect Technology and many other extras. You do pay a premium for such a long list as the board is $280 on NewEgg, those who want this much motherboard are going to have to spend a bit more than someone happy with a basic Z77 implementation. [H]ard|OCP put the board to the test most important to many enthusiasts, overclocking an i7 3770K to 4.84GHz with some careful adjustments to the voltages provided to the components. It pulled in a Gold Award but [H] recommends only the experienced pick up this board as there are available settings in the UEFI BIOS which could seriously damage your equipment if you aren't very familiar with the specifications of your CPU and memory.
"The ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe comes from an outstanding pedigree as virtually every board in the ASUS P8xxx series has been excellent. Is this another tremendously worthy entry in the lineup or does this one shy away from its heritage? Read on to learn about our experiences with the P8Z77-V Deluxe."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z77 Pro4 (Z77) Motherboard @ eTeknix
- Asrock X79 Extreme11 @ Pro-Clockers
- First "Ultra Durable 5" Mainboards with Two Thunderbolt Ports: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH and GA-Z77X-UP5 TH @ X-bit Labs
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z77X Intel Z77 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS Maximus V Formula @ Kitguru
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula @ Tweaktown
- MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower Intel LGA 1155 @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte X79S-UP5 WiFi @ Legion Hardware
- MSI Big Bang XPower II (X79) Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH Review: Thunderbolt Times Two @ AnandTech
- Gigabyte GA-X79-UP4 Socket 2011 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- The 4 Best X79 Motherboards - You will never see @ Ninjalane
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PEG Port VC1/Map @ TechARP
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 20, 2012 - 04:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: overclock, gtx 660, DirectCU II, asus
As promised [H]ard|OCP has spent some time overclocking the ASUS GTX 660 DirectCU II card and have come back with their results. The highest GPU clock they managed was a reported 1170MHz Boost clock in GPU Tweak but which was 1215MHz in actual in-game performance. While that was the high speed record it did not provide the best performance as the frequency often dipped much lower because of the heat produced, [H]'s sweet spot was actually a 1100MHz Boost clock, in-game a much more steady 1152MHz though it did still dip occasionally. They also upped the memory, but again because of the heat produced by the overclock they could not raise voltage without negative consequences. Check the whole review here.
"We put our new ASUS GeForce GTX 660 through the ringer of overclocking and make real world gaming comparisons. If you are thinking the new GTX 660 (GK106) GPU will be a good overclocker like its bigger brother GK104, you may be in for a surprise that puts the new GTX 660 in a new light."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP @ [H]ard|OCP
- GeForce 9800 GT vs GeForce 660 GTX @ Guru of 3D
- Zotac GTX680 AMP Edition @ Bjorn3D
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Zotac GeForce GTX 660 with GK106 GPU @ @ X-bit Labs
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Review @ Techgage
- Sparkle GTX650 OC Dragon Series @ Kitguru
- GeForce GTX 650 MSI Power edition @ Guru3D
- KFA GeForce GTX 650 EX OC 1 GB @ techPowerUp
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SC @ Guru of 3D
- MSI GeForce GTX 650 Power Edition OC 1 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table @ Hardware Secrets
- NVIDIA FXAA Anti-Aliasing Performance @ Phoronix
- Seven Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 round-up: Super cards @ Hardware.info
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Arctic Accelero Twin Turbo 6990 VGA Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Low Profile Review @ Neoseeker
- ARCTIC Accelero Hybrid 7970 @ Hardwareoverclock
- PowerColor Devil 13 HD 7990 Review @ OCC
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex Edition Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition Overclocked 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire HD7770 GHZ FleX Edition @ Kitguru
- Sapphire Radeon Flex HD 7770 GHz Edition Video Card @ Pro-Clockers
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Vapor-X Review @ OCC
- HD 7990 Review; PowerColor’s Devil 13 @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI HD7850 Power Edition Video Card @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 19, 2012 - 07:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows rt, vivo tab rt, vivo tab, taichi, tablet, pricing, asus
Earlier this month we detailed two ASUS tablets that were on display at IFA 2012. The important specification that was unknown at the time was pricing, however. Specifically, pricing information has been leaked on not only the two ASUS Vivo tablets, but a third tablet that we reported on in June: the ASUS Taichi convertible tablet.
ZDNet claims to have gotten a hold of the final pricing for the three tablets, by means of a leaked slide(s) that represent the company's holiday roadmap. The leaked slide can be seen below.
The two upcoming Vivo-series tablets are the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT, which will run the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 8 respectively.
The Vivo Tab will run an Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, front/rear cameras (8MP/2MP), and sport a 10.1" Super IPS+ display (1366x768 resolution). It is rated at 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. According to the leaked slide, the Vivo Tab will be priced at $799 for the base model, and the accompanying keyboard dock will cost an additional $199.
On the other hand, specifications for the Vivo Tab RT include a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, 11.6" Super IPS+ display (1366x768), 8MP/2MP front and rear camera. It weighs 520 grams and is 8.3mm thick. This tablet has a starting price of $599 for the tablet itself, and the keyboard dock costs $199 extra.
Note that this ARM-powered tablet will come with the preview/RTM version of Microsoft Office 2013 at launch (which I have been using since the Customer Preview came out, and generally like it). Once office goes gold, Windows RT tablets will receive a free update to the final version. However, with the Windows RT version, you do not have access to features like macro support in excel (which kind of defeats the purpose of using this a business machine, but at least it's 'free').
|ASUS Vivo Tab||ASUS Vivo Tab RT||ASUS Transformer Prime||ASUS Transformer Infinity|
|Processor/SoC||Intel Atom||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3|
|Display||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||10.1" IPS @ 1280x800||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200|
|Camera(s)||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 1.2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front|
|Size||8.7mm thick||8.3mm thick||10.4" x 7.1" x .3"||10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)|
A comparison of the Vivo Tab and Vivo RT compared to ASUS' Android-powered alternatives.
Further, the ASUS Taichi is not only a tablet, but one with dual screens that is actually billed as an ultrabook -- and with a (rumored) price to match! For $1299, you get an ultrabook with two 1920x1080 multi-touch displays on the front and bad "lid" of the laptop. Specifications include an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, SSD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, dual cameras, and USB 3.0 support. Even better, both displays on the Taichi can be used at the same time to share the computer with a friend sitting across from you (unclear how the software handles this though I don't think both users get individual desktops).
What that means is that if you want a Windows 8 tablet from ASUS with a keyboard dock, you are looking at a minimum of $798 for the ARM-powered Vivo Tab RT, $998 for the Vivo Tab, and $1299 for the ASUS Taichi. Now, the Taichi's pricing I can forgive, because it is marketed and positioned as an ultrabook. The two Vivo Tabs do seem overpriced for what you are getting once you factor in the additional cost fo the keyboard dock. If the dock was included in the $599 and $799 (base tablet) prices, I think those prices would be fair – but they do not. Even comparing to the company's Android tablets, it is difficult for me to justify the 'x86 and Microsoft taxes' that are likely responsible for the increased cost. As an example, you can find the 32GB Transformer Prime and keyboard dock for a total of $616.94 on Amazon right now. Is the (approx.) additional $180 really worth it just to run Windows 8 – and the ARM version at that (so no traditional desktop apps). For many people, I think not and I think Microsoft and the many tablet OEMs that are going to try to push Windows 8 tablets/notebooks this holiday season are going to need to re-evaluate the market if they want these devices to sell well.
After using Windows 8 RTM on my main desktop, I'm not sold on metro but it's not terrible and it's actually a decent UI when navigating around with a touchscreen (I've also tried it on a convertible tablet). I do think that Windows 8 tablets are a good thing, and if positioned at the right price, Microsoft and the OEMs could sell a lot of these just on the merits of being able to say that this computer/tablet/notebook/et al is running 'Microsoft' and/or 'Windows' on the box and displays (at retail) which consumers are familiar with and comfortable paying for (the brand name).
The crux of it is pricing though, because if there is a 10" tablet for $800 next to a 10" for $600, and the only discernable difference is what is on the screen (the OS, and especially since Win 8 isn't all that reminiscent of Windows' desktop), I have to believe that the majority of consumers are going to go for the cheaper model (likely running Android).
[And that's not really touching on the $1000 Vivo Tab+dock that is running an Atom processor of all things... that is most definitely ultrabook territory and for that price you should be getting at least a Sandy Bridge CPU, and better chassis. If I was in that situation of choosing just between ASUS' devices (with a touchscreen), I would probably just save up the extra cash for the Taichi and get a 'real' ultrabook (internal specs-wise), or go for something like the Transformer Pad Infinity which wouldn't run Windows but would at least have a much better display and be a bit more portable.]
But what do you think? Are the rumored prices reasonable? Would you buy a Windows 8 tablet over an Android tablet even if the Microsoft-powered device is significantly more expensive?