Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and Specifications

The Primera Series PM01 is a new tower enclosure from SilverStone which combines sleek looks and integrated LED lighting.

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It's been a little while since we've taken a look at a new case from SilverStone, and the company has certainly not been idle during this time. The case we have for you today is the first model from the new Primera Series, which offers "the feel of a luxurious supercar" from its angular lines and mesh grills, and it features an impressive piano black high gloss finish (a white version is also available).

The PM01 is also equipped with a trio of 140 mm intake fans, which in our black review sample are outfitted with red LED lights (the white version contains blue lighting). In addition to the front fans, the case has integrated LED lighting strips above and beneath the large side panel window, and the lighting effects can be controlled with a 4-position selector button on the top of the case.

SilverStone lists these features for the PM01 enclosure:

  • Includes three 140mm LED fans and built-in LED strips for stunning visual impact
  • Oversized front panel mesh design inspired by supercar intake grill
  • Support two 240/280/360mm radiator for AIO liquid cooler or custom water cooling
  • Reserved water tank mounting holes for water cooling setup
  • Removable filters with positive air pressure design for dust reduction
  • Built-in 4-segment LED light controller to adjustable brightness and modes
  • Super clean internal look with PSU and drive bay cover
  • Includes 10-in-1 fan hub for fan cable management

The metal mesh front and rear exhaust suggest excellent airflow, and we will find out just how effectively this new case can cool a gaming build - and how quietly it does so.

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Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Primera Series PM01 case!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Evoluent

The Handshake Approach

Evoluent is a maker of ergonomic mice and keyboards, and we received one of the company's vertical mice for review. At a glance you can see that it's a very different design than the typical mouse, as it is intended to be used with the arm in a "handshake" position.

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"The patented ergonomic shape supports your hand in an upright neutral posture that eliminates forearm twisting. Many users said the Evoluent VerticalMouse provides superior comfort and even relieved their wrist pain."

The vertical design has been implemented to reduced strain on the arm and wrist, but how much of an adjustment is there in moving to this orientation? How sensitive and accurate is the sensor? Depending on your workload, precision might trump comfort, but if the VerticalMouse can provide both it would be quite an achievement.

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To test it out I resolved to use the VerticalMouse with my PC exclusively for a week. It was a startling change at first, feeling quite foreign in the first minutes. For someone who uses a standard mouse hours a day (sound familiar?) I felt like I wasn't in control as I attempted to move the cursor around, and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to adjust. But I pushed on, and rapidly began to grow accustomed to the feeling.

Switching to something that promises to ease discomfort doesn't always mean instant gratification, as any seller of orthopedic shoes can tell you. There is going to be a period of adjustment, with the end result outweighing any initial hesitation - when it's effective, of course. I could spoil the review a bit here and tell you if I'm still using the mouse after a week (I am), but I'll fully describe my impressions below.

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Continue reading our review of the Evoluent VerticalMouse C Right wireless mouse!

Introduction and Specifications

In this roundup we'll explore the performance of three premium (and large) air coolers - with the ultra-popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in the mix to see how this $29 option stacks up against the big dogs on test.

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Many of the large air coolers on the market are built for ultra-efficient cooling at whisper-quiet volume levels. With massive heatsinks (and sometimes pairs of them) they can often cool demanding CPU loads with minimal fan speeds, and this usually results in very low noise output. Another advantage is the increased thermal headroom such a cooler provides, which can allow for overclocking without the need for liquid cooling - or even much additional noise.

So what coolers are included? In alphabetical order we have:

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Can the $29 Hyper 212 EVO hold its own in this group?

Kicking Cooler Testing up a Notch

I reviewed the Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT recently, using a Core i5 6600K-based test platform (the Scythe Ninja 4 was also reviewed using this platform), and readers correctly pointed out that a cooler of this size should really be tested with some more challenging thermal loads. The Core i5-6600K is a quad-core, single-threaded design with a 91W TDP, and in moving to a new CPU cooler test system I decided to make the jump to the 140W TDPs of Intel's LGA2011 processors.

So I ended up with a Core i7-6800K; a newer Broadwell-E design with a 6 core/12 thread configuration (and of course that 140W TDP). The base speed of the CPU is 3.40 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.60 GHz. Without much trouble I was able to push the CPU to 4.0 GHz on each core, and proceeded to test each of these coolers at both stock and OC frequencies. My hope is that the results to follow will adequately demonstrate just how effective these coolers are when really pressed.

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Continue reading our roundup of large CPU air coolers!!

Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction and Specifications

The Phanteks Enthoo Primo is a massive full-tower case with a monolithic appearance, and a ton of cooling support. It's tall, heavy, and certainly looks every bit the premium enclosure the price tag indicates. So how did it perform? Read on to find out!

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We've reviewed other cases in the Enthoo series from Phanteks, and these have been a solid choice in their respective price ranges. The cases we've looked at offer excellent construction, nice appearance, and excellent component support. The Enthoo Primo sits at the top of the lineup, and it looks it; a nearly 26-inch tall case that is nearly as deep, it's so large it even has a second ATX power supply mount (a dual PSU adapter is offered as a separate purchase).

So what market does this Enthoo Primo case serve? It could house any sort of enthusiast or high-end workstation/server setup, supporting EATX and even SSI EEB motherboard form-factors. There's a ridiculous amount of liquid cooling potential, though given its size the average all-in-one cooler will need to stay close to the processor given the length of typical AIO cooler hoses. This thing is begging for a custom watercooling loop (sorry, I didn't oblige in this review).

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The Enthoo Primo is fitted with an aluminum faceplate

Continue reading our review of the Phanteks Enthoo Primo enclosure!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HUAWEI

Introduction and Specifications

Immediately reminiscent of other phablet devices, the Mate 8 from HUAWEI is a characteristically large, thin slab of a smartphone. But under the hood there's quite a departure from the norm, as the SoC powering the device is new to the high-end phone market - no Qualcomm, Samsung, or even MediaTek here.

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"The Mate 8 takes the look and feel of the Mate series to a whole new level. Boasting a vivid 6" FHD display, an ultra slim design, a re-designed fingerprint sensor that's faster and more reliable, and a sleek aluminum unibody design, the Mate 8 is sure to impress."

The HiSilicon Kirin 950 powers the Mate 8; an 8-core design comprised of 4x ARM Cortex-A72 cores clocked at up to 2.3 GHz, and 4x ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.80 GHz. Memory is 3GB for our sample, with 32GB storage; with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage is also available.

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The Mate 8 looks every bit a premium device, and the metal and glass construction of the handset feels solid. It also feels rather light (185g) given its size. But how does it perform? This is an especially interesting question given the unusual silicon in the Mate 8, but the Kirin 950's Cortex-A72 is the most powerful ARM design (at least until the Cortex-A73, announced this summer, finds its way into devices).

In this review we'll explore the overall quality of the HUAWEI Mate 8, and go over usage impressions. And, of course, we'll look at some performance benchmarks to see how this Kirin 950 SoC stacks up against recent Snapdragon and Apple SoCs.

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Continue reading our review of the HUAWEI Mate 8 smartphone!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Audeze

Introduction, Specifications, and Design

More than an ordinary pair of headphones, the SINE headphones from Audeze feature planar magnetic drivers, and the option of direct connection to an Apple Lightning port for pure digital sound from the SINE's inline 24-bit DAC and headphone amp. So how does the "world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone" sound? We first had a chance to hear the SINE headphones at CES, and Audeze was kind enough to loan us a pair to test them out.

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"SINE headphones, with our planar magnetic technology, are the next step up in sound quality for many listeners. Instead of using ordinary dynamic drivers, our planar technology gives you a sound that’s punchy, dynamic, and detailed. In fact, it sounds like a much larger headphone! It’s lightweight, and folds flat for easy travelling. Once again, we’ve called upon our strategic partner Designworks, a BMW group subsidiary for the industrial design, and we manufacture SINE headphones in the USA at our Southern California factory."

Planar headphones certainly seem be be gaining traction in recent years. It was a pair from Audeze that I was first was able to demo a couple of years ago (the LCD-3 if I recall correctly), and I remember thinking about how precise they sounded. Granted, I was listening via a high-end headphone amp and lossless digital source at a hi-fi audio shop, so I had no frame of reference for what my own, lower-end equipment at home could do. And while the SINE headphones are certainly very advanced and convenient as an all-in-one solution to high-end audio for iOS device owners, there’s more to the story.

One the distinct advantages provided by the SINE headphones is the consistency of the experience they can provide across compatible devices. If you hear the SINE in a store (or on the floor of a tradeshow, as I did) you’re going to hear the same sound at home or on the go, provided you are using an Apple i-device. The Lightning connector provides the digital source for your audio, and the SINE’s built-in DAC and headphone amp create the analog signal that travels to the planar magnetic drivers in the headphones. In fact, if your own source material is of higher quality you can get even better sound than you might hear in a demo - and that’s the catch with headphones like this: source material matters.

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One of the problems with high-end components in general is their ability to reveal the limitations of other equipment in the chain. Looking past the need for quality amplification for a moment, think about the differences you’ll immediately hear from different music sources. Listen to a highly-compressed audio stream, and it can sound rather flat and lifeless. Listen to uncompressed music from your iTunes library, and you will appreciate the more detailed sound. But move up to 24-bit studio master recordings (with their greater dynamic range and significantly higher level of detail), and you’ll be transported into the world of high-res audio with the speakers, DAC, and headphone amp you need to truly appreciate the difference.

Continue reading our review of the Audeze SINE Planar Magnetic headphones!

Introduction and First Impressions

The Le Grande Macho RT is a massive air CPU cooler design from Thermalright that pairs a very large heatsink (with 7 heat pipes) with a quiet 140 mm fan. It certainly looks impressive, but you'll want to read on to find out how it performed on our test bench!

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"With the Le Grand Macho RT we offer an actively cooled version of our famous semi-passive flagship. Thanks to the silent-running TY 147 B with fluid dynamic bearing, the Le Grand Macho RT can cool up to 280 watt.

The design of the heat sink has not been changed and is still asymmetrical. This offers the highest possible compatibility to the most recent motherboards. Thus it is guaranteed that the Le Grand Macho RT neither blocks the RAM spaces, nor the top-most PCIe slot on current ATX-boards."

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While the Le Grand Macho RT is one of the largest coolers I've tested, it is still a little smaller than Thermalright's famous SilverArrow dual-tower cooler. In fact, the 159 mm height means it will fit a large number of enclosures (with 165 mm being a common limit).

The single-fan design of the Macho makes it look like a good candidate for low-noise air cooling, and it's physically larger than the Scythe Ninja 4 cooler I reviewed back in January - which was, incidentally, the quietest cooler I've tested to date.

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Why install this giant on a mini-ITX board? Why not!

Continue reading our review of the Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT CPU cooler!!

Subject: Systems, Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Introduction and Specifications

Dell's premium XPS notebook family includes both 15 inch and 13 inch variants, and ship with the latest 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors and all of the latest hardware. But the screens are what will grab your immediate attention; bright, rich, and with the narrowest bezels on any notebook courtesy of Dell's InfinityEdge displays.

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Since Ryan’s review of the XPS 13, which is now his daily driver, Dell has added the XPS 15, which is the smallest 15-inch notebook design you will find anywhere. The XPS 13 is already "the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet", according to Dell, giving their XPS series a significant advantage in the ultrabook market. The secret is in the bezel, or lack thereof, which allows Dell to squeeze these notebooks into much smaller physical dimensions than you might expect given their display sizes.

But you get more than just a compact size with these XPS notebooks, as the overall quality of the machines rivals that of anything else you will find; and may just be the best Windows notebooks you can buy right now. Is this simply bluster? Notebooks, like smartphones, are a personal thing. They need to conform to the user to provide a great experience, and there are obviously many different kinds of users to satisfy. Ultimately, however, Dell has produced what could easily be described as class leaders with these machines.

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Continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 13 and 15 notebooks!!

Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction: Rethinking the Stock Cooler

AMD's Wraith cooler was introduced at CES this January, and has been available with select processors from AMD for a few months. We've now had a chance to put one of these impressive-looking CPU coolers through its paces on the test bench to see how much it improves on the previous model, and see if aftermarket cooling is necessary with AMD's flagship parts anymore.

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While a switch in the bundled stock cooler might not seem very compelling, the fact that AMD has put effort into improving this aspect of their retail CPU offering is notable. AMD processors already present a great value relative to Intel's offerings for gaming and desktop productivity, but the stock coolers have to this point warranted a replacement.

Intel went the other direction with the current generation of enthusiast processors, as CPUs such as my Core i5-6600k no longer ship with a cooler of any kind. If AMD has upgraded the stock CPU cooler to the point that it now cools efficiently without significant noise, this will save buyers a little more cash when planning an upgrade, which is always a good thing.

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The previous AMD stock cooler (left) and the AMD Wraith cooler (right)

A quick search for "Wraith" on Amazon yields retail-box products like the A10-7890K APU, and the FX-8370 CPU; options which have generally required an aftermarket cooler for the highest performance. In this review we’ll take a close look at the results with the previous cooler and the Wraith, and throw in results from the most popular aftermarket cooler of them all; the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Wraith CPU Cooler!!

Manufacturer: RIOTORO

Introduction and First Impressions

A newcomer in the PC enclosure space, RIOTORO has a lineup of unique-looking products to offer in a market flooded with options at every price-point. With this full-tower PRISM CR1280 enclosure the company says that they are providing not just a home for your components, but the world’s 1st fully RGB case with unparalleled personalization options”.

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Clearly, RGB lighting has been one of the biggest trends in PC hardware for the past year or so, and if you are so inclined the PRISM CR1280 promises fully customizable color with lighted accents on the front of the case, and included RGB intake fans.

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Beyond the RGB lighting, however, the PRISM CR1280 has a rather unusual industrial design. There is angular black plastic over a steel body, and a large edge-to-edge side panel window (not to mention those bare aluminum feet). It looks like a premium enclosure, and it’s certainly priced like one with an MSRP of $169.99 (selling for $149 currently). Is it worth it? Read on to find out!

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Continue reading our review of the Riotoro Prism CR1280 Enclosure!!