Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of EVGA
Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. The latest board on our test bench from EVGA proves that fact, the EVGA Z77 Stinger. The Z77 Stinger is a micro-ITX form factor board based on the Intel Z77 chipset, but don’t let its size fool you. This board is packed with features and delivers the performance that we’ve come to expect out of its full-size brethren. At a mere $199.99 base price, the EVGA Z77 Stinger would be at home in any enthusiast’s full tower case or HTPC build.
Courtesy of EVGA
Even with its small stature, the EVGA Z77 Stinger promises to pack some power. It features support for the following: SATA 2, SATA 3, eSATA, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 type devices; two different network types featuring an Intel GigE NIC and an Atheros Bluetooth adapter; PCI-Express x16 3.0 and m-PCIe ports; and HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.1a style video ports. With the addition of an m-PCIe adapter, the board can support onboard Wi-Fi as well.
Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2012 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pentium, celeron, Intel, 22nm, G2130, G2020, G2020T, G1620, G1610, G1610T, Ivy Bridge
There won't be any new Intel desktop processors for Christmas and even in the New Year it will be the entry level lineup that is first refreshed. Six older Pentium and Celeron models will hit EOL and be replaced with new Ivy Bridge based 22nm models, likely with similar specs and reduced power consumption. The news for mobile processors is a little better with the Core i7-3687, Core i5-3437U, Celeron 1037U, 1007U, 1020M and 1000M all slated for the first quarter of 2013. DigiTime also mentions a new 20nm member of the 530 series of SSDs should be arriving at the same time.
"Intel is set to upgrade its entry-level desktop Pentium and Celeron product lines in the first quarter of 2013 with the launch of Ivy Bridge-based 22nm Pentium G2130, G2020 and G2020T and Celeron G1620, G1610 and G1610T processors, while its existing Sandy Bridge-based 32nm Pentium G870, G645 and G645T as well as Celeron G555, G550 and G550T will be phased out of the market starting the end of 2012, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ten weird Chinese mobile phones @ The Register
- RIM reveals Blackberry 10 Dev device with physical QWERTY keypad @ The Inquirer
- Samsung printers have secret admin account @ The Register
- Electrical Applications for Infrared Thermometers @ TechwareLabs
- Protect Your Home from Burglary & Vandalism: There’s an App for That @ TechwareLabs
- Win a Nokia Lumia 820 Windows 8 Phone With Scancom @ eTeknix
Ivy Bridge without the HD Graphics
The processor market is kind of stale these days; there aren't a lot of releases and the dominance of Intel in the high-end CPU market kind of makes things uninteresting. We still have lot of great AMD processors in the low and mid-range markets but if you want a $200+ card part you will probably find your way into the world of Intel.
Today's processor review cuts across segments with a unique twist. The Intel Core i5-3350P can be picked up at Newegg.com for $189 putting it right in the price point of the AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi) and the AMD FX-8320 (Vishera). It also undercuts the very popular Intel Core i5-3570K by $50 or so while still offering some impressive performance results.
The only catch: this Ivy Bridge based processor does not include any integrated graphics.
The Intel Core i5-3350P
Intel recently released a couple of Ivy Bridge based processors that have disabled the integrated graphics completely, the 3350P being one of them. This allows Intel to sell processor die that might have a defect on the GPU portion to increase the relative yield rate of their 22nm process and also gives them another weapon to fight off any pricing competition from AMD.
A small, custom chassis
Right before the holiday weekend we got an email from Digital Storm detailing some changes to the Bolt system based on ours, and other reviewers, feedback. Design changes include:
- "Quieter operation" after moving from a Bronze level 500 watt 1U power supply to a Gold level unit. I have put that part in quotes because I am hesitant to believe that much has changes on the sound levels of the system; we are still talking about a 1U unit here with two tiny fans. Until DS publishes some sound level metrics, we'll consider this a modest change.
- Digital Storm has also given the Bolt "a less glossy and improved external finish" to help prevent fingerprints and dust from reflecting in light.
In addition, there have been some hardware changes in the Level 3 unit that we were sent that are fairly significant:
- Upgrade from a 60GB cache SSD to a 120GB SSD dedicated to the OS installation.
- Storage drive lowered from a 1TB to a 500GB
- Upgrade from a Core i5-3570K to a Core i7-3770K CPU
That is a pretty hefty change in hardware specs, in particular the move from the Core i5-3570K to the i7-3770K. That increases the CPU performance of the Bolt pretty handily and they were able to do that without raising the price.
This definitely gives us a better opinion overall for the entire Digital Storm Bolt configuration as tested and makes it a much better option when compared to the other recent systems we have reviewed.
END UPDATE 11/22/2012
A couple of months ago Digital Storm contacted us about a new design they were working on that they claimed would easily become the highest performance, smallest custom PC on the market. The result of that talk was the new Digital Storm Bolt, a system designed in-house by DS to target PC gamers that want a powerful PC without the bulk of traditional desktop designs.
Digital Storm claims that the Bolt is the "thinnest, most powerful gaming PC ever designed" and we tend to agree. This is not chassis that you can buy off the shelf but instead was custom designed for this system and actually requires some very specific hardware for it to function completely. Items like a 1U power supply, 90 degree PCI Express riser extensions and slim-line optical drives aren't found in your standard gaming PCs.
Available in several starting "levels" of configuration, the Digital Storm Bolt can include processors from the Core i3-2100 all the way up to the Core i7-3770K and graphics cards starting at the GTX 650 Ti 2GB and increasing to the GTX 680 2GB. Our system came with the following hardware:
- Intel Core i5-3570K @ 4.2 GHz
- Low Profile CPU Heatsink
- 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz memory
- GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB
- 60GB cache SSD + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD
- Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WiFi motherboard
- 1U 500 watt power supply
- Windows 7 Home Premium x64
- Custom DS Bolt Chassis
Starting cost for this configuration is $1,599.
Check out our quick video review!
The box the Bolt ships in is pretty timid compared to some of the crates that have hit our office recently but that's just fine by me. Due to the small size of the case though I have actually had some laptop boxes (the Alienware M18x comes to mind) that were bigger!
There she is, the Digital Storm Bolt, a combination of custom steel case design and fingerprint-loving piano black paint. Measuring just 14-in tall and 3.6-in wide the case is going to be able to fit and blend in places other desktops simply could not.
Introduction and Specs
Courtesy of ECS
As part of their Black Extreme line of motherboards, the ECS Z77H2-AX pairs the promise of performance and a mile-long feature list with looks that could kill. We decided to put this board through the paces, throwing our normal suite of benchmark and functionality tests to see how well it lived up to its reputation. The ECS Z77H2-AX seems to be well priced at its $309.99 base price with all the higher-end features and bling built into the board.
Courtesy of ECS
From the initial unboxing of the board, I was dumbstruck. ECS literally gold-plated every heat-producing surface on this board, giving it a very unique look and feel. The board itself has no shortage of features with SATA 2, SATA 3, mSATA, and eSATA ports, support for 3 different networking types, and enough USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports for anyone.
Intro and Tech Specs
Courtesy of ASUS
Today we will be evaluating the ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard on the test bench, evaluating its performance and functionality in various ways to ensure that the board works up to the standards we’ve come to expect from ASUS. At $339 a base price, this Intel Z77 chipset based board is part of the ASUS Workstation series, designed to meet the needs of the harsh corporate and server environments requiring optimal component functioning over a 24/7 timeframe.
Courtesy of ASUS
The P8Z77 WS is a feature-rich solution with dual Intel-based GigE NICs, an ASUS customized UEFI BIOS, and multi-GPU PCI 3.0 support offered innately through the Intel Z77 chipset as well as the integrated LicidLogix Virtu MVP chipset.
Courtesy of ASUS
Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2012 - 01:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: yoga 13, yoga, ultrabook, Lenovo, Ivy Bridge, Ideapad
Earlier today we got in the new Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13, an Ivy Bridge Core i5 Ultrabook with a very distinctive display panel that works as a laptop, a tablet, a tent and in a stand mode. Basically, think of the Lenovo machine you saw from CES with the screen that wraps around the back.
After getting the notebook in I recorded a quick 15 minute hands-on and overview video that I thought I would share in preparation for our full review coming later! Enjoy!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 28, 2012 - 03:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zenbook, windows 8, ultrabook, nvidia, laptop, Ivy Bridge, GT650M, GT620M, asus
Asus has announced a refresh of its Zenbook lineup of Intel-powered ultrabooks to accompany its new VivoBooks and VivoTabs running Windows 8. Available next month, the PC OEM is introducing six new laptop SKUs with Ivy Bridge processors and dedicated graphics cards from NVIDIA. Specifically, the Asus Zenbook UX21A, UX31A, UX32VD, UX42VS, US52VS, and U500VZ ultrabooks are coming soon with the refresh.
The UX31A Ultrabook with touch display
The new Zenbooks will have Ivy Bridge processors, up to 10GB of memory, and up to NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics. They maintain the aluminum chassis of Asus’ previous generation ultrabooks but up the hardware ante. The company has expanded the lineup to include models with 11.6,” 13.3,” 14,” and 15.6” IPS displays, backlit keyboards, and multitouch trackpads. The U500VZ and UX31A can even be outfitted with capacitive touchscreen displays.
The ASUS UX42VS Zenbook
The VX42VS further includes an optical drive, but otherwise the Zenbooks source of storage lies in solid state or hybrid hard drives. Interestingly, the UX32VD and U500VZ can even be configured with two 256GB solid state drives in RAID 0 (Ryan’s favorite kind of RAID).
The ASUS UX52VS Zenbook
The following chart outlines all the known specifications. Note that several of the ultrabooks are not listed on Asus’ website yet so exact dimensions are unknown for the UX52VS and U500VZ in particular.
|Dimensions||299 x 196.8 x 3 ~ 17 mm||325 x 223 x 3 ~18 mm||325 x 223 x 5.5 ~18 mm||14" tapers to 6mm||~15" tapers to 6mm||~15"|
|Weight||1.1 kg||1.3 kg||1.45 kg||1.5kg||2.2kg||2 kg|
|Processor||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i5 3317U or i7 3517U||i3, i5, or i7 IVB||i5 or i7 ULV IVB||i7 std voltage|
|Storage||256GB SSD||256GB SSD||2 x 256GB SSD (RAID 0)||1TB Hybrid Hard Drive||1TB Hybrid Hard Drive||2 x 256GB SSD (RAID 0)|
*onboard + 1 x SODIMM
All of the new Zenbook laptops will be available in November and will come with Windows 8. Pricing will range from $699 to $1999 for the premium model (The U500VZ). Specific pricing details should become available closer to launch.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 19, 2012 - 05:14 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, saumsung, Ivy Bridge, Intel, clover trail, atom, ativ 700t, ativ 500t
Samsung is the latest company to announce its fleet of dock-able tablet computers running the full version of Windows 8. Launched under the ATIV Smart PC brand, the company is offering up two models depending on the amount of computing horsepower you need to get work done. Specifically, Samsung is launching the Series 5 ATIV Smart PC 500T and the Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T. Both models will be available for purchase on October 26th for $749.99 and $1,199.99 respectively.
Samsung Series 5 Slate: ATIV Smart PC 500T
The Samsung Series 5, also known as the ATIV Smart PC 500T is a 11.6” tablet powered by Intel’s recently released Clover Trail-based Atom processor platform. It measures 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.38” and weighs 1.65 pounds.The tablet features a LED-backlit touchscreen display with a resolution of 1366x768. A 2.0 megapixel camera and dual 0.8W speakers are also included. The tablet itself can further be paired with a keyboard dock that has a full qwerty keyboard and touchpad.
Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 processor (running at 1.5 GHz and featuring dual cores with 256 KB each), 2GB of DDR2L memory, and a 64 GB solid state drive. Radios and networking gear includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. [The specifications sheet further claims Gigabit LAN support but there does not appear to be any Ethernet jacks on the tablet so I’m assuming it’s solely marketing to say that it supports connecting to a Gigabit LAN (over Wi-Fi)...] The 500T is powered by a two cell, 30 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery.
The external IO ports include a micro HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, a combination headphone/mic jack, a microSD card slot, and a docking connector.
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T will come pre-loaded with the 32-bit version of Windows 8. The tablet itself is $649.99 and with the keyboard dock, it will be $749.99.
Samsung Series 7: ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T
If you need more computing power, Samsung is offering up its newest Series 7 slate, the ATIV 700T. This tablet is slightly thicker than the 500T at 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.5”. It is also a bit heavier at 1.89 pounds versus 1.65 pounds with the 500T. That tradeoff in size nets you significantly better hardware, however. It features a LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1920x1080. It further includes the same 1.6W (2 x 0.8W) stereo speakers, but adds a second 8MP rear camera in addition to the 2MP front facing webcam.
Internally, the 700T is packing an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U processor. This chip is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads along with 3 MB of L3 cache. The 700T features 4 GB of DDR3 at 1600MHz and a 128GB solid state drive. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi also comes standard. The 700T also has a larger 4 cell Li-Po battery (rated at 49 Wh) to power the faster Intel processor.
External IO includes one micro HDMI, one USB 3.0, a combination headphone/mic jack, docking connector, and a micro SD card slot.
The Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T comes bundled with a dock as standard and it has a starting price of $1,199.99. It will come pre-loaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 8.
Read more about Windows 8 convertible tablets at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 13, 2012 - 02:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, sony vaio, sony, Ivy Bridge, Intel, convertible tablet
Not content to let the other OEMs have all the Windows 8 tablet fun, Sony has announced a new 11” convertible ultrabook – the VAIO Duo 11 – that uses a sliding hinge to transform from a notebook into a tablet.
The Vaio Duo 11 weighs in a 2.86 pounds and measures 12.6 inches x 7.8 inches. It features an 11.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 10 point multitouch. Also, it has stereo speakers, a 2.4 megapixel webcam, full (backlit) qwerty keyboard, and pressure sensitive digitizer. Interestingly, the Duo 11 does not have a trackpad. Instead, it has a small touch sensitive trackball that resembles the pointing sticks on IBM/Lenovo PCs but on the Vaio Duo 11 the nub does not move. In that respect, it is more like the trackpad on some Blackberry Phones, but smaller. There are two mouse buttons below the spacebar, however. Other specifications include a magnesium alloy chassis.
Sony is calling the hinge the “Surf Slider” and the display slides forward to lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode. As Ars Technica points out, when the computer is in notebook mode, there is a ribbon cable to the display that is exposed which is less than ideal.
Ports around the sides of the device include a VGA video output, card reader, and headphone jack on the left, and two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI output, and a power button on the right. Reportedly, there is also an Ethernet jack.
Fortunately, Sony did not have to compromise as much on the internal specifications to achieve the 11” form factor. The Vaio Duo 11 includes an Intel Core i3 (Ivy Bridge) processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and a 128 GB solid state drive.
Image credit: CNet. See their full review here.
The convertible ultrabook will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. It will also include Wi-Fi that can establish ad-hoc wireless connections with other devices by tapping the NFC radios together.
Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 will go on sale October 26, 2012. Prices will start at $1,099.99, with more expensive models adding more storage or a faster processor. It is a bit pricey, but this PC is positioned as an ultraportable convertible tablet, and in that respect it is priced competitively with the competition.
You can find the full press release on Sony's website.