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Rosewill produces a whole lineup of products with seemingly incongruous variety. You can get matching brands for your blood pressure monitor, your wine opener, your DSLR bag, and your computer power supply. The vast majority of Rosewill's distribution flows through Newegg.
Their RK-9000 mechanical keyboard was manufactured by CoStar under the Rosewill branding. With that product, they brought a high quality mechanical keyboard to North America for a very decent price of just under a hundred dollars. For what might as well be considered a Filco keyboard, that is an outstanding price. It did not have media keys; it did not have backlighting; but it was a solid keyboard which felt great to type on and had outstanding performance.
Check out our video review of the Rosewill RK-9000 second generation and read on for the written review
At some point Rosewill decided to discontinue the RK-9000 without an official announcement. Beyond a sudden and sustained drop in availability, there was no evidence that the keyboard was no longer produced. A few silent months went by until Rosewill officially announced a second generation of RK-9000 mechanical keyboards. It was then clear why the RK-9000 was discontinued: it was being replaced and updated.
We were approached by the company to conduct a review of their recently released mechanical keyboards. Included was not just the Cherry MX Blue switched RK-9000, but also its three newly introduced siblings: the MX Brown switched RK-9000BR, the MX Black switched RK-9000BL, and the MX Red switched RK-9000RE. A little under three months ago we have received the review units and have been in the process of testing them ever since.
What Rosewill was unaware of was that I am a proud owner of the original RK-9000 keyboard. This review is more than a review of Rosewill’s new products, but also will be a comparison between the new product and their original offering. Despite sharing a Newegg product page with its ancestor, the new keyboard is not identical. For good measure, I also have a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate lying around -- slightly dilute the oversaturation of the letter R in tested product names… albeit, not the company names.
A new contender has enterkeyed.
If you happen to have an original RK-9000, is it time for an upgrade? If you are interested in all of the hoopla about mechanical keyboards, is this the correct time and place to dive in?
Introduction and Features
Thermatake's Toughpower Cable Management Series includes five models ranging from 1,000W up to 1,500W. The Toughpower Cable Management 1350W PSU we have up for review today can deliver 1,350W. Thermaltake states that all of the Toughpower Cable Management Series power supplies are built with the latest technological advances in circuitry design with industrial grade components and feature high efficiency (80 Plus Silver certified), smart cable management, and come backed by Thermaltake's 5-year warranty.
Here is what Thermaltake has to say about the Toughpower Cable Management Series: "Proper airflow within computer system plays an extremely important role in making sure CPU, Graphic Cards, Hard Drives and other critical components are getting adequate cooling. Thermaltake Cable Management Technology allows users to only use the cables needed from the power supply that reduces the amount of cable clutter within the computer to improve cooling and reduce system noise."
Thermaltake Toughpower Cable Management 1350W PSU Key Features:
• 24/7 @ 50°C: Guaranteed to deliver 1350W continuous power
• Compliance with Intel ATX 12V v2.3 and SSI EPS 12V v2.91 standards
• 80 PLUS Silver certified: 87-91% efficiency @ 20-100% load
• Double-forward switching circuitry offers low power loss and high reliability
• DC-to-DC converters provide high efficiency and stable performance
• Robust, dedicated dual +12V rails (60A for 12V1 and 60A for 12V2)
• High quality 105°C Japanese capacitors: ensure superb performance and reliability
• Multi-GPU ready: comes with 8 x PCI-E 6+2 pin connectors
• Designed to support quad core, i7 and Core i5 CPUs
• Silent operation with intelligent 140mm cooling fan speed control
• Fixed and modular smart cable management system
• Universal AC input (90~264V) with Active PFC
• Dimensions:150 x 86 x 200mm (W x H x L)
• Over-current, over-power, over-voltage, under-voltage and short circuit protection
• Safety/EMI approvals: CE,TUV,FCC, UL, CUL, GOST and BSMI certified
• 5-Year warranty
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.
Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.
Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.
So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard.
Introduction, Features, Technical Specifications
PC enclosures continue to evolve as new hardware comes to market like Intel's new Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge processors, affordable solid state drives, and custom liquid cooling solutions. It is more critical than ever that users pay strict attention to not only what a PC case looks like, but what hardware it supports. Since it was founded in 2004, NZXT has been developing unique PC cases to satisfy the appetites of PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts alike. Their latest creation dubbed the Switch 810 is a full-tower "hybird" case that is optimized to support liquid cooling or air-cooled solutions.
The Switch 810 brings together many crowd favorites like right-mounted hard drives with removable HD cages and support for 140 to 240mm radiators to give users a plethora of options for cooling their PC components. If you don't want to go the liquid cooling route, the Switch 810 has room for 10 fans on the front, back, top, and bottom panels. PC builders can use 120mm or 140mm fans, and NZXT starts them off by including four 140mm fans with the Switch 810 to provide excellent airflow for any PC setup.
Introduction and Features
NZXT recently released three power supplies in their new HALE82 Series, with output capacities of 650W, 750W, and 850W. This new lineup compliments NZXT's 80Plus Gold HALE90 Series and is targeted towards gamers and other power hungry enthusiasts. The HALE82 units are built by Seasonic and are 80Plus Bronze certified (82%~85% efficiency). The HALE82 850W PSU we have up for review comes with a full compliment of fixed and modular cables, a dual ball bearing 120mm fan, includes universal AC input with Active PFC and is backed by NZXT's 5-year warranty.
NZXT HALE82 850W PSU Key Features:
• 80+ Bronze Certification - The HALE82 series from NZXT operates with high efficiency: at 20%, 50%, and 100% loads, efficiencies are 82%, 85%, and 82% respectively.
• 100% Japanese Capacitors - High quality components promote longer lifespan and better reliability.
• 120mm Two-Ball Bearing Fan - For smooth, silent rotation and optimal air intake.
• Strong Single +12V Rail - A single +12V rail provides stability and ease of use with the ability to deliver clean currents under a heavy load.
• Modular Design - Includes a selection of flat cables that allow the user to pick and choose which cables they want to use, maximizing cable management and airflow inside chassis.
• Large Tower Support - Extended 8pin connector for bottom mounted cases or large cases.
• Dual 8pin connector - For high end motherbaords dedicated to overclocking.
• Keeping it Safe - The HALE80 series offers over voltage, current, power, temperature, under voltage, and short circuit protection.
• Warranty: 5-Years
• Price: $139.99 USD (Directron.com December 2011)
Layout and Features
From the Forums is a new segment here on PC Perspective where we dive through the best content on the PC Perspective Forums and bring it to the main stage here on pcper.com. Even though this content isn't direct from our editors it brings value to the reader and so we wanted to push into the spotlight! Our forums are some of the best online if you are looking for community fun and gaming or have a particularly annoying issue you are trying to work out on your latest build. Be sure you stop by to see what our members are up to today!!
Windwithme has been a member of the PC Perspective Forums since mid-2009 and has continually contributed with in-depth reviews of hardware including motherboard, graphics cards SSDs and more. Though English is not his native language, and because of that some of his text will seem odd to US readers, the content is great and we are glad to have Windwithme as part of our community! Enjoy! You can find the original thread for this content right here.
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Ever since Intel officially launch Sandy Bridge-E new platform in 2011 November,
several motherboard companies successively roll out new motherboard based on X79 chipset to support Intel next generation high-end platform.
Due to the continuous effort of self-own brand management made by FOXCONN, Quantum Force series still dominant high-end motherboard.
FOXCONN X79 Quantumian-1 still provides various choices for the market though the quantities of Quantum Force series are not as various as they are in the past time. Soon after the release of Intel X79 chipset, FOXCONN promptly roll out corresponding X79 motherboard. Quantum Force was naming in a special way which the Intel code won’t be shown on the models.
This time, Quantumian-1 which belongs to the series of Quantum Force still follows the high-end style both in material and design.
The patterns shown on exterior packing of high-end product are always different which exhibits the great efforts on art design.
The full picture of FOXCONN Quantumian-1
Quantum Force is common to use black and red to create contrast visual sense.
Currently, there are more and more motherboard brands adopt these two colors to match.
It is known that the market segment of Quantumian-1 x79 is positioned as high-end product line.
Besides, the corresponding specification, design and featured over clocking function have also been highly highlighted.
- Product manual
- easy guide
- nVIDIA SLI 3Way bridge
- IO shield
- SATA connectors and cables both in red and yellow
- DC power cable SATA
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Today we take a look at Intel's newest 6Gb/sec SATA SSD - the 520 Series. This is the second non-Intel controller to appear in one of their products. The first was the Marvell controller, which appeared in the 510 Series last March. This time around, Intel has gone with SandForce. This should leave at least one SATA 6Gb/sec model to be released. Taylorsville is the code name for the next SATA 6Gb/sec native-Intel controller, which has been on their roadmap since mid-2010 but has yet to actually materialize. While Taylorsville development continues, Intel has stop-gapped the 6Gb/sec slot with the 510 and now the 520 Series. Intel seemingly worked wonders with the stock Marvell firmware, and while the Marvell controller was much improved over stock, it still lagged far behind other higher performing SATA 6Gb/sec solutions. The SandForce was one of the much more capable controllers eating the 510's lunch, but how much further could Intel improve upon the SandForce firmware?
I guess a good question to answer up front is - What took them so long?!?! The answer is a bit complicated. Intel has actually been working on getting the 520 out the door for over a year now. They had to start with the same base SandForce firmware but accomplish two things for their version to be successful:
- Optimize to perform better than other equivalent SandForce models (from competitors).
- Pass Intel's stringent validation testing.
They didn't say so directly, but I can only imagine Intel's process was plagued by multiple 'back to the drawing board' moments. Trying to one-up competition like OCZ can't be easy as they've been tweaking SandForce firmware since the very beginning. There's also those nasty bugs that would cause random BSOD's or even permanently brick the drive. Such failures have no place in an Intel SSD. Intel's upper limit for each SSD line is a 0.75% annual failure rate, and we've seen SandForce SSD's failing at a higher rate than that this past year.
With each tweak made, Intel would have to once again pass their drives through another round of full validation testing. This is no small task for Intel. As an example: It took Intel just a couple of weeks to recreate and correct the long-term performance issue I discovered back in 2009, but despite mountingpressure, they could not release the updated firmware until it had successfully passed their validation a full three months later. Intel takes this testing very seriously, and that's what leads people to trust their reliability.
Four Displays for Under $70
Running multiple displays on your PC is becoming a trend that everyone is trying to jump on board with thanks in large part to the push of Eyefinity from AMD over the past few years. Gaming is a great application for multi-display configurations but in truth game compatibility and game benefits haven't reached the level I had hoped they would by 2012. But while gaming still has a way to go, the consumer applications for having more than a single monitor continue to expand and cement themselves in the minds of users.
Galaxy is the only NVIDIA partner that is really taking this market seriously with an onslaught of cards branded as MDT, Multiple Display Technology. Using non-NVIDIA hardware in conjunction with NVIDIA GPUs, Galaxy has created some very unique products for consumers like the recently reviewed GeForce GTX 570 MDT. Today we are going to be showing you the new Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 offering that brings support for a total of four simultaneous display outputs to a card with a reasonable cost of under $120.
The Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520
Long time readers of PC Perspective already likely know what to expect based on the GPU we are using here but the Galaxy MDT model offers quite a few interesting changes.
The retail packaging clearly indicates the purpose of this card for users looking at running more than two displays. The GT 520 is not an incredibly powerful GPU when it comes to gaming but Galaxy isn't really pushing the card in that manner. Here are the general specs of the GPU for those that are interested:
- 48 CUDA cores
- 810 MHz core clock
- 1GB DD3 memory
- 900 MHz memory clock
- 64-bit memory bus width
- 4 ROPs
- DirectX 11 support
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
A couple of days ago we looked at a pair of SSD's from Patriot. Next up is a pair of SSD's from Corsair. These are another two SandForce controlled units, but this time it's Async IMFT flash vs. Sync IMFT flash:
We'll carry the Patriot Pyro (IMFT Async) into the results for comparison, and keeping the other benchmark OCZ and Intel models in with the mix of results. The OCZ Vertex 3 and Agility 3 will again share the same SandForce controller, but OCZ has been known to add many performance tweaks to their firmware. Let's see if Corsair was able to use 'tweaked' firmware or instead went with the stock one provided by SandForce.
The Corsair Force 3 and Force GT are both available in the following capacities:
The added capacity points are a bonus of how IMFT can stack their dies in 'odd' multiples (i.e. 3 per package, making a 24GB TSOP). Varying slightly from low to high capacities (and across the two models), specs range from 490 to 525 MB/sec writes and 550 to 555 MB/sec reads. 60GB models get 80,000 4K IOPS and the rest get a rating of 85,000 4K IOPS. Corsairs specs indicate IOMeter 2008 was used for this test, and it's important to note that 2008's writes were a repeating pattern that is easily and fully compressible by the SandForce controller, meaning those specs were derived using fully compressible data.
AMD Gives a Glimpse of the Near Future
AMD has released an updated roadmap for these next two years, and the information contained within is quite revealing of where AMD is going and how they are shifting their lineup to be less dependent on a single manufacturer. The Financial Analyst Day has brought a few surprises of where AMD is headed, and how they will get there. Rory Read and Mark Papermaster have brought a new level of energy to the company that seemingly has been either absent or muted. Sometimes a new set of eyes on a problem, or in this case the attitudes and culture of a company, can bring about significant changes for the positive. From what we have seen so far from Rory and company is a new energy and direction for AMD. While AMD is still sticking to their roots, they are looking to further expand upon their expertise in some areas, all the while being flexible enough to license products from other companies that are far enough away from AMD's core competence that it pays to license rather than force engineers to re-invent the wheel.
The roadmaps cover graphics, desktop, mobile, and server products through 2013.
This first slide is a snapshot of the current and upcoming APU lineup. Southern Islands is the codename for the recently released HD 7000 series of desktop parts. This will cover products from the 7700 level on up to the top end 7990. Of great interest are the Brazos 2.0 and Hondo chips. AMD had cancelled the "Krishna" series of chips which would have been based on Bobcat cores up to 4 on 28 nm. Details are still pending, but it seems Brazos 2.0 will still be 40 nm parts but much more refined so they can be clocked higher and still pull less power. Hondo looks to be the basic Brazos core, but for Ultra Low Power (lower clocks, possibly disabled units, etc.) which would presumably scale to 5 watts and possibly lower.
3 NV for DCII
The world of video cards is a much changed place over the past few years. Where once we saw only “sticker versions” of cards mass produced by a handful of manufacturers, we are now seeing some really nice differentiation from the major manufacturers. While the first iterations of these new cards are typically mass produced by NVIDIA or AMD and then distributed to their partners for initial sales, these manufacturers are now more consistently getting their own unique versions out to retail in record time. MSI was one of the first to put out their own unique designs, but now we are seeing Asus becoming much more aggressive with products of their own.
The DirectCU II line is Asus’ response to the growing number of original designs from other manufacturers. The easiest way to categorize these designs is that they straddle nicely the very high end and extreme products like the MSI Lightning series and those of the reference design boards with standard cooling. These are unique designs that integrate features and cooling solutions that are well above that of reference cards.
DirectCU II applies primarily to the cooling solutions on these boards. The copper heatipipes in the DirectCU II cooler are in direct contact with the GPU. These heatpipes then are distributed through two separate aluminum fin arrays, each with their own fan. So each card has either a dual slot or triple slot cooling solution with two 80 mm fans that dynamically adjust to the temperature of the chip. The second part of this is branded “Super Alloy Power” in which Asus has upgraded most of the electrical components on the board to match higher specifications. Hi-C caps, proadlizers, polymer caps, and higher quality chokes round out the upgraded components which should translate into more stable overclocked performance and a longer lifespan.
Tahiti Gets Clipped
It has been just over a month since we first got our hands on the AMD Southern Islands architecture in the form of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card. It was then a couple of long weeks as we waited for the consumer to get the chance to buy that same hardware though we had to admit that the $550+ price tags were scaring many away. Originally we were going to have both the Radeon HD 7970 and the Radeon HD 7950 in our hands before January 9th, but that didn't pan out and instead the little brother was held in waiting a bit longer.
Today we are reviewing that sibling, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB GPU that offers basically the same technology and feature set with a slightly diminished core and a matching, slightly diminished price. In truth I don't think that the estimated MSRP of $449 is going to really capture that many more hearts than the $549 price of the HD 7970 did, but AMD is hoping that they can ride their performance advantage to as many profits as they can while they wait for NVIDIA to properly react.
Check out our video review right here and then continue on to our complete benchmarking analysis!!
Southern Islands Gets Scaled Back a Bit
As I said above, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB is pretty similar to the HD 7970. It is based on the same 28nm, DirectX 11.1, PCI Express 3.0, 4.31 billion transistor GPU and includes the same massive 3GB frame buffer as its older brother. The Tahiti GPU is the first of its kind of all of those facets but it has a few of the computational portions disabled.
If you haven't read up on the Southern Islands architecture, or Tahiti GPU based around it, you are missing quite a bit of important information on the current lineup of parts from AMD. I would very much encourage you to head over to our Radeon HD 7970 3GB Tahiti review and look over the first three pages as it provides a detailed breakdown of the new features and the pretty dramatic shift in design that Southern Islands introduced to the AMD GPU team.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Today we're going to take a look at a pair of SSD models from Patriot. While they both share the same SandForce controller, that's where the differences end. This won't be your typical review - because this time we're pitting an Async IMFT flash unit against a Toshiba Toggle-mode flash unit:
We're also tossing a few OCZ and Intel models into the mix. The OCZ Vertex 3 and Agility 3 will again share the same SandForce controller, but OCZ has been known to add many performance tweaks to their firmware. This will give us a chance to see the 'baseline' SandForce firmware in action.
Patriot has their drive specs spread out over several pages. Here's a consolidated list for these two models. We will be reviewing a 120GB sample from each of the two product lines.
- Wildfire 120GB:
-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write
-Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)
- Wildfire 240GB:
-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write
-Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)
- Wildfire 480GB:
-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 540MB/S Read | 450MB/S Write*
-Max Random Write IOPS: Max 4K Random IOPS: 40K*
- Pyro 60GB:
- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 520MB/s read | 490MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 80,000 (4K aligned).
- Pyro 120GB:
- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned).
- Pyro 240GB:
- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned).
I've highlighted a few outlier specs in the above list. While the Pyro sees the now expected dip in performance when transitioning from 120GB down to 60GB - due to a reduction in the communication channels to the (fewer) flash chips, the Wildfire sees a seemingly opposite and more drastic effect. This is not due to a change in the number of data paths - it's a limit inherent in the SandForce controller itself, and is not limited to Toggle-mode flash. The difference caused by the Toggle-mode flash is the missing 60GB model - caused by the intermix of capacity points and configuration needed for this different type of flash memory.
Introduction, Thin Is Flimsy
If there was anything that can be pointed to as “the” thing CES was about, it’s the ultrabook. These thin and portable laptops were presented by Intel with all the finesse of a sledgehammer. Intel’s message is clear. Ultrabooks are here, and you’re going to like them.
Such a highly coordinated effort on the part of Intel is unusual. Sure, they’ve pushed industry standards before. But the company’s efforts have usually been focused on a specific technology, like USB. The last time Intel put serious effort into trying to change how system builders constructed their systems was when Intel pushed for the BTX form factor.
BTX was an attempt to address problems the company was having with its Pentium 4 processors, which tended to consume a lot of power and therefor run hot. The push for the ultrabook is also an attempt in address a (perceived) problem. In this case the issue at hand is portability, both in in terms physical system size and battery endurance.
Intel announced some interesting new smartphone and tablet reference designs at CES 2012. These are signs that the company is making headway in this area. But the products based on those reference designs aren’t out yet, and it will probably take a few years for Intel to gain significant market share even if it does manage to offer x86 processors that can beat ARM in smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, Intel needs to provide slim, responsive and portable systems that can distract consumers from tablets.
So we have the ultrabook.
Q4-2012 In a Nutshell
Tis the reporting season. Yes, that time of year when some of the major players in the computing world get together and tell us all how well they did this past quarter. Ok, so they do not necessarily get together to announce results, but they sure time them that way. Today was AMD’s turn (and Apple’s), and the results were not nearly as positive as what Intel had to offer a few days ago.
Q4 2011 was flat in terms of revenue as compared to Q3. The company had gross revenue of $1.69 billion and had a net income loss of $177 million. That net income is not necessarily a bad result, but more on that later. Margins rose to 46%, which is still a far cry from Intel’s 65% for the past quarter. Gross revenue was up 2% from last year, which considering the marketplace and Intel’s dominance, is a solid win for AMD.
When we start talking about non-GAAP results, AMD had a net income of $138 million. The difference between those two numbers (a loss vs. a nice profit) is that the loss came from one time writeoffs. AMD has lowered its stake in GLOBALFOUNDRIES to 8.8%, and in so doing incurred a hefty charge. This is not so much money lost as it is lost value in the company.
Guess what? Overclocked.
The NVIDIA GTX 580 GPU, based on the GF110 Fermi architecture, is old but it isn't forgotten. Released in November of 2010, NVIDIA had held the single GPU performance grown for more than a year before it was usurped by AMD and the Radeon HD 7970 just this month. Still, the GTX 580 is a solid high-end enthusiast graphics card that has wide spread availability and custom designed, overclocked models from numerous vendors making it a viable option.
Gigabyte sent us this overclocked and custom cooled model quite a while ago but we had simply fallen behind with other reviews until just after CES. In today's market the card has a bit of a different role to fill - it surely won't be able to pass up the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 but can it fight the good fight and keep NVIDIA's current lineup of GPUs more competitive until Kepler finally shows himself?
The Gigabyte GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock Card
With the age of the GTX 580 designs, Gigabyte had plenty of time to perfect their PCB and cooler design. This model, the Super Overclock (GV-N580SO-15I), comes in well ahead of the standard reference speeds of the GTX 580 but sticks to the same 1.5 GB frame buffer.
The clock speed is set at 855 MHz core and 1025 MHz memory, compared to the 772 MHz core speed and 1002 MHz clock rate of the reference design. That is a very healthy 10% clock rate difference that should equate to nearly that big of a gap in gaming performance where the GPU is the real bottleneck.
I got your $13.9 Billion over here...
Intel had a record quarter. Are we tired of hearing that yet? I guess that depends on who a person is investing with. Earlier this quarter Intel warned that their results could be negatively affected by the current hard drive shortage that we are experiencing. Apparently, this was a factor, but it did not stop Intel from still having a record quarter.
Q4 2011 turned out to be gangbusters for Intel. They reported gross revenue of $13.9 billion, which is significantly higher than the expected $13.74 billion analysts were predicting. Net income came in at $3.4 billion with an impressive 65.5% gross margin. The overall year was also record setting at $54 billion gross revenue and $12.9 billion net income. For comparison, AMD has a gross revenue of about $6.8 billion and a net income of around $300 million. 2010 was a record year for Intel in that they surpassed $40 billion in revenue for the first time in the company’s history, and this year saw revenue over $10 billion higher. Intel is certainly hitting their stride, and they do not look to slow down anytime soon.
The Prime seems to have no trouble achieving notable firsts. It was the first tablet with a Tegra 3 processor to go to retail, and now it’s the first tablet to have official Ice Cream Sandwich support. The update, scheduled originally for January 12th, actually went live after a surprise announcement on January 9th during Nvidia’s CES conference.
Since we still have our Prime review unit, this update provides us with a unique opportunity to compare Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich side-by-side on the same device. This update is important for the Prime - and all upcoming Android tablets - because the operating system is something that’s currently holding back a number of products with great hardware.
Honeycomb was never an OS that impressed me. It’s often jerky, lacks elegance, and has poor app support. So long as Honeycomb was the version of Android shipping on tablets there was simply no chance for an Android tablet to defeat the iPad 2. The software simply wasn’t up to the high standard set by iOS.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a chance at redemption. The rumors have spread like wildfire. Various sources have reported improvements including better multi-core support, a faster web browser, improved notifications and much more. Official announcements have generally limited themselves to commenting on feature improvements, however - going into the ICS update I didn’t have any expectations for performance improvements because none were ever provided by Google. Nvidia also never set any expectations about the improvements, if any, we’d see from Tegra 3 processors running ICS.
Now that the Prime is updated we can test ICS out for ourselves. Let’s jump in, starting with the interface updates.
Configuration and Exterior
Puget Systems has slowly grown to be one of our favorite system builders for those looking to buy rather than build their own PC. Using off-the-shelf components might seem like a negative but in our mind mixing an upgrade path with small niche features like noise dampening material and a great overall customer buying experience really hit the spot. For the Sandy Bridge-E launch late in 2011 Puget wanted to send over something just a bit different than normal - a workstation class computer.
The result is the Genesis I based on the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition processor from Intel, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard, 32GB of memory and 250GB Intel 510 SSD.
Puget Systems Build Process
One of my favorite things about the Puget Systems system purchase process is the customer service you get. The website isn't anything unusual but is completely functional for even novice users. Despite my knowledge of hardware I actually appreciate the fact that Puget does NOT inundate buyers with a selection of 30 motherboards and even the graphics card options are limited to a handful of selected "best choice" by the staff.
We have previously taken a look at Serenity and Deluge systems from Puget and have been impressed with the build quality and attention to detail they apply. Each build is continually updated throughout the process and communicated to the buyer via emails with a site portal for photos of your specific rig and even including thermal images of the PC running under load and idle. It is nice touches like this that really show the company cares about its customers and wants to them to feel attached to the process.
Cooler Master Aims to Impress
Right at the start of 2012, Cooler Master released a new case that was trumpeted as an "Ultra ATX" design. And while the name itself is purely a Cooler Master creation, the Cosmos II chassis fits the name more than anything we have seen in recent memory. Even though we posted this video on our PC Perspective YouTube channel before CES, I didn't get a chance to write up this short post and embed our host of images below.
This is an impressive chassis design with tons of features and great layout decisions that needs to be seen to be understood - hence the video review below!
Cooler Master's new Cosmos II case is going to cost you $349 and while that price is extremely high, the fact is this is designed exactly for the PC builder that doesn't want to compromise on anything. It weights nearly 50 pounds without a single component installed and feels like it could take more than its fair share of beating without showing damage. Still, it is unique and stylish enough to look good at the same time.
If you have the space and the money for the Cosmos II, then you will undoubtedly be happy with the purchase.
If you still want to see some photos of the Cosmos II, I have included an assortment of them below along with some descriptions and notes.
Get notified when we go live!