be quiet! Launches Shadow Wings 2, Pure Wings 2 high-speed Fans

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 22, 2019 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: silent, Shadow Wings 2, rifle bearing, quiet, pwm, Pure Wings 2, fans, cooling, case, be quiet!

be quiet! has officially launched their two new fan series shown at CES, with the Shadow Wings 2 silent fans and the Pure Wings 2 high-speed series of fans, both in 120 and 140 mm sizes as well as standard and PWM versions.

We start with the Shadow Wings 2, which is their lowest-noise fan option:

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"Shadow Wings 2 is a slowly spinning and highly optimized case fan and the most silent fan series in the be quiet! lineup. It relies on an array of features to keep its noise level as low as only 15.9 dB(A) at maximum speed. Airflow-optimized fan blades provide reliable cooling and whisper-quiet operation. A new anti-vibration mounting system and rubberized fan frame ensure easy installation and decoupling from the case frame. High-grade rifle bearing technology guarantees a lifespan of up to 80,000 hours. Shadow Wings 2 comes in 120mm and 140mm sizes, with 3-pin connectors or PWM control. Maximum rotational speed for the 120mm models is 1,100 rpm, and 900 rpm for its 140mm sibling."

Next is the Pure Wings 2 high-speed,  which favors cooling performance with speeds of up to 2000 RPM:

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"be quiet!’s Pure Wings 2 offers an extremely versatile fan with a great price-performance ratio. High air pressure makes this fan the perfect choice for water-cooling radiators, heatsinks or as a performance-oriented case fan. The versatility of Pure Wings 2 is evident from its integration in several other be quiet! products such as air and water coolers as well as the Silent Base and Pure Base chassis series. Nine airflow-optimized fan blades reduce noise-generating turbulence and ensure high airflow while high-quality rifle bearings guarantee a long lifetime of up to 80,000 hours. Users demanding even higher cooling performance can now opt for high-speed versions of Pure Wings 2. Available in 120mm and 140mm versions with 3-pin or PWM connectors, these offer higher rotational speeds up to 2,000 rpm (120mm), or 1,600 rpm (140mm). Even at full speed, the maximum noise level is no higher than 37.3 dB(A)."

Both new fan series are available now, with pricing as announced as follows for the various models:

  • Shadow Wings 2
    • 120 mm: $15.90 
    • 120 mm PWM: $16.90
    • 140 mm: $17.90
    • 140 mm PWM: $18.90
  • Pure Wings 2 high-speed
    • 120 mm: $12.50
    • 120 mm PWM: $12.90
    • 140 mm: $13.50
    • 140 mm PWM: $13.90
Source: be quiet!
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction, Specifications, and Design

The LIVA Z2 is another in the line of fanless mini systems from ECS, and this one offers up to an Intel Gemini Lake Pentium N5000 processor, which is the configuration of our review unit. The N5000 is a 4-core, non-HyperThreaded part with a 6W TDP (4.8W SDP). The system can support up to 8GB of DDR4L SO-DIMM memory across two slots, and eMMC storage comes onboard in capacities of either 32GB or 64GB.

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The first thing you might notice about the Z2 is that it is quite a bit taller than the previous LIVA designs we've seen, with the LIVA Z and Z Plus about half of the height of this new Z2. The added height allows for an optional 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD to be installed, which can be used either in place of or in addition to the onboard eMMC storage (there are no M.2 slots available).


Specifications:

  • Platform: 
    • Intel Pentium N5000
    • Intel Celeron N4100
    • Intel Celeron N4000
  • Memory: 2x SO-DIMM, Up to 8GB DDR4
  • Storage:
    • eMMC 32GB/64GB
    • Support 1x 2.5” SATA HDD
  • Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
  • LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
  • USB:
    • 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A Ports
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C Port
    • 2x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Video Output:
  • 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x HDMI 1.4
  • Wireless: Intel WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.2
  • Dimensions: 132 x 118 x 56.4 mm
  • VESA: Supports 75mm / 100mm
  • Power Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
  • OS Support: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Accessories:
    • 1x Power adapter
    • 1x VESA Bracket
    • 6x VESA Mount Screws
    • 2x HDD Screws(Optional)
    • Quick Guide & Driver DVD

Pricing and Availability: $200 - $250 MSRP ($250 as reviewed); USA availability TBD

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Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z2 fanless mini-PC!

Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Case Exterior

It has been almost three years since we reviewed the original Silent Base 600 enclosure, and today we have the brand new Silent Base 601 from be quiet! in for review. Launching this week, the latest case from the German manufacturer combines a noise-reducing interior with a no-frills exterior. Gone are its predecessor's optical drive bays and hinged front panel door, allowing for a wide-open internal layout, and overall this is a thoroughly modern enclosure design.

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The Silent Base 601 enclosure also marks this reviewer's first experience with a be quiet! product (Lee handled the Silent Base 600 review), so I came into the this with zero expectations - and was honestly pretty surprised by the case overall. My findings (and many photos) are documented in this review, so let's get started!

Features from be quiet!:

  • Noise dampening vents provide excellent air permeability with maximum silence
  • Extra thick insulation mats of 10mm in the front, top and sides
  • Two preinstalled Pure Wings 2 140mm fans
  • 3-step fan controller caters for up to three fans
  • The PSU shroud provides a neat interior
  • Ready for radiators up to 360mm
  • Three years manufacturer’s warranty 
  • Product conception, design and quality control in Germany

The Silent Base 601 is available in both the standard version (as reviewed) or a windowed version for $10 more, and with the option of three different front accent colors - orange, black, or silver.

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Continue reading our review of the be quiet! Silent Base 601 enclosure!

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Azulle

Introduction, Specifications, and Design

Azulle's Inspire Barebone Mini PC offers a range of processor options and is, in all but the Intel Core i7 variant, a fanless system. The Inspire supports up to 32GB of DDR4 across two SoDIMMs, and supports both 2.5-inch SATA and M.2 storage. We had a chance to test out a Core i5-powered variant, and we'll explore both the design and performance in this review.

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As this is a barebone system, the Inspire - like Intel NUC computers - requires users to supply memory and storage, leaving only the processor to be selected when you order. Four Intel platform options are available, with Apollo Lake ($169.99), Core i3 ($269.99), Core i5 ($334.99), and Core i7 ($449.99) CPUs. Our review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200U, which is the $334.99 configuration, and Azulle sent over NVMe storage and DDR4 memory to make this a complete system.


Specifications from Azulle:

  • Processor:
    • Intel Apollo Lake J4205
    • Intel Kaby Lake i3-7100U
    • Intel Kaby Lake i5-7200U
    • Intel Kaby Lake i7-7500U
  • RAM: Up to 32 GB DDR4
  • Storage: MMC Optonal, SSD supported
    • M.2. Slot: x1
    • SATA: x1
  • GPU: Intel® HD Graphics 620
  • Wi-Fi: 2.4g/5.0g Dual-Band
  • Ethernet: 1x Gigabit
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
  • DisplayPort: x1 Port, 4K @ 60 FPS
  • HDMI: x1 Port, 4K @ 60 FPS
  • USB: x3 3.0 Port, x1 Type-C
  • SD Card Slot: x1
  • IR: IR Control
  • Audio Output: 3.5 mm Jack
  • BIOS: Wake On LAN/ PXE/Auto Power
  • Power Supply: 12V/3A
  • Dimensions: 4.9 in x 4.9 in x 1.9 inches

Pricing and Availability:

  • Inspire Mini PC Barebone - Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U: $334.99, Amazon

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Continue reading our review of the Azulle Inspire Intel Kaby Lake fanless mini-PC!

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Azulle

Introduction and Design

Azulle might not be a familiar name unless you have been browsing for mini PCs lately, as the company offers various small form-factor computers and accessories on Amazon.

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Today we will take a close look at their Intel Apollo Lake-powered Byte3 mini PC which starts at $179.99 (and goes up to $337.99 depending on configuration), and provides another fanless solution to this category. Does our $199.99 quad-core version, which includes Windows 10 Pro, stand out? Read on to find out!


Specifications:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Apollo Lake N3450
  • RAM: 4 GB / 8 GB
  • Storage: eMMC 32 GB / 2.5" SSD or M.2 SSD Supported
  • M.2 Slot: AHCI (SATA)
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 500
  • Wi-Fi: Dual-Band 2.4 GHz / 5.0 GHz
  • Ethernet: 1 Gigabit
  • Bluetooth: 4.0
  • Display Output: 1x HDMI (4K @60Hz), 1x VGA
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 / 1x USB 2.0 / 1x USB Type-C
  • SD Slot: Up to 256 GB
  • BIOS: Wake on LAN / PXE / BIO Reset
  • IR: IR Control
  • Audio Output: 3.5 mm jack
  • OS Support: Windows 10 Pro / Ubuntu Linux
  • Power Supply: 12V
  • Dimensions: 5.6 x 4 x 1.5 inches

Thanks to Azulle for providing the Byte3 for our review!

We'll start with a quick look inside the box:

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The Byte3 has a small, rectangular form-factor of some 5.6 inches wide and 4 inches deep, with a height of 1.5 inches.

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Continue reading our review of the Azulle Byte3 Fanless Mini PC!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cherry

Overview

Cherry is one of the most well-known brands in the mechanical keyboard industry. The company, based in Germany, is best known for their MX key switches, which have become the gold standard in the premium keyboard market. As a result of their high standards, tight quality control, and even the occasional scarcity, “genuine Cherry key switches” has become a veritable marketing point on more than a few features lists.

Since they make their own switches, it should come as no surprise that Cherry also produces their own keyboards. Today, we’re looking at the G80-3494, a new entry in the G80-3000 line and one of the few keyboards in the United States to feature Cherry MX Silent Black key switches. Do their full-fledged boards live up to the lofty standards of their switches?

Specifications

  • MSRP: $149.99 (currently sale price: $111.56)
  • Layout: ANSI, 104-key
  • Key Switch: Cherry MX Silent Black (linear)
  • Key Lifespan: 50M keystroke
  • Actuation Force: 60cN
  • N-Key Rollover: 14-key simultaneous
  • Cable: 1.75m, non-detachable, PVC coated
  • Dimensions: 470 x 195 x 44 mm
  • Weight: 935g

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Continue reading our review of the Cherry G80 MX Board Silent keyboard!

Airtop2 Inferno: Compact Fanless Gaming PC Featuring a Core i7-7700K and GTX 1080

Subject: Systems | February 14, 2018 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: small form factor, silent, SFF, nvidia, mini PC, Intel, Inferno, GTX 1080, gaming, fanless, core i7 7700k, compulab, Airtop2

Compulab, maker of mini systems such as the fitlet and Airtop is bringing the compact, fanless concept to a powerful gaming system - with no less than an Intel Core i7-7700K and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. The catch? Is is not yet available, pending an upcoming Kickstarter campaign beginning February 24.

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The teaser image of the upcoming Airtop2 Inferno fanless gaming system

The Airtop2 is already available for purchase in a fanless workstation version, built-to-order with up to an Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6 and NVIDIA Quadro P4000 (starting at $2575 for that configuration before adding memory/storage), and this new "Inferno" version of the Airtop2 promises to be very interesting to silent computing enthusiasts.

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Front and rear views of the Inferno system

A fanless gaming system with high-end components is only going to be as effective as its cooling system, and here Compulab has a lot of experience on the industrial/embedded side of things.

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Exploded view of the standard Airtop2 design (no images of the Airtop2 Inferno interior available yet)

Compulab lists these specs for the Airtop2 Inferno (along with the teaser, "and a little more..."):

  • Unlocked Intel Core-i7 7700K
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
  • Up to 64 GB DDR4 2400 RAM
  • 2x NVMe + 4x 2.5″ SSD / HDD
  • 2x USB 3.1 + 7x USB 3.0 | dual LAN | front (and back) audio

Compulab has also provided some benchmark results to demonstrate how effective their fanless implementation of these components is, with results using 3DMark and Unigine Heaven available on the Inferno product page.

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The company has set up a Q&A page for the Airtop2 Inferno, but pricing/availability info will probably have to wait until February 24th when the Kickstarter campaign is active.

Source: Compulab
Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction and First Impressions

The Define R6 marks the sixth generation of the Define series, and Fractal Design’s flagship ATX case now sports a cleverly-designed tempered glass side panel and a redesigned interior. Does the new R6 again define the ATX mid-tower market? We’re about to find out!

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Looking at the front panel alone it would be very difficult to tell the Define R6 from its predecessors, as it still has the trademark solid front door panel, nicely finished here with aluminum. 5.25-inch drive support is down to a single bay, but it is there if you need it for an optical drive or fan controller - though the Define R6 also includes a new PWM fan hub (more on that later on).

The most obvious change to the design is the tempered glass side panel, which makes sense considering that has been the biggest industry trend of the past couple of years. Fractal Design does it a little differently than you’ll see elsewhere, however, with a pop-in design that makes screws optional. The Define cases were already very clean and simple externally, and this implementation of a glass side panel fits that aesthetic perfectly.

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Improvements such as the third-gen ModuVent top panel and additional storage and cooling capacity from the redesigned interior make this release a bigger upgrade than it might at first appear, and in this review we’ll go over the case inside and out to see how this latest Define enclosure stacks up in this ever-crowded market.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define R6 case!

Palit Introduces Fanless GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 6, 2017 - 11:43 AM |
Tagged: video card, silent, Passive, palit, nvidia, KalmX, GTX 1050 Ti, graphics card, gpu, geforce

Palit is offering a passively-cooled GTX 1050 Ti option with their new KalmX card, which features a large heatsink and (of course) zero fan noise.

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"With passive cooler and the advanced powerful Pascal architecture, Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX - pursue the silent 0dB gaming environment. Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti gives you the gaming horsepower to take on today’s most demanding titles in full 1080p HD @ 60 FPS."

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The specs are identical to a reference GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5 @ 7 Gb/s, Base 1290/Boost 1392 MHz, etc.), so expect the full performance of this GPU - with some moderate case airflow, no doubt.

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We don't have specifics on pricing or availablity just yet.

Source: Palit
Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

Quiet, Efficient Gaming

The last few weeks have been dominated by talk about the memory controller of the Maxwell based GTX 970.  There are some very strong opinions about that particular issue, and certainly NVIDIA was remiss on actually informing consumers about how it handles the memory functionality of that particular product.  While that debate rages, we have somewhat lost track of other products in the Maxwell range.  The GTX 960 was released during this particular firestorm and, while it also shared the outstanding power/performance qualities of the Maxwell architecture, it is considered a little overpriced when compared to other cards in its price class in terms of performance.

It is easy to forget that the original Maxwell based product to hit shelves was the GTX 750 series of cards.  They were released a year ago to some very interesting reviews.  The board is one of the first mainstream cards in recent memory to have a power draw that is under 75 watts, but can still play games with good quality settings at 1080P resolutions.  Ryan covered this very well and it turned out to be a perfect gaming card for many pre-built systems that do not have extra power connectors (or a power supply that can support 125+ watt graphics cards).  These are relatively inexpensive cards and very easy to install, producing a big jump in performance as compared to the integrated graphics components of modern CPUs and APUs.

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The GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti have proven to be popular cards due to their overall price, performance, and extremely low power consumption.  They also tend to produce a relatively low amount of heat, due to solid cooling combined with that low power consumption.  The Maxwell architecture has also introduced some new features, but the major changes are to the overall design of the architecture as compared to Kepler.  Instead of 192 cores per SMK, there are now 128 cores per SMM.  NVIDIA has done a lot of work to improve performance per core as well as lower power in a fairly dramatic way.  An interesting side effect is that the CPU hit with Maxwell is a couple of percentage points higher than Kepler.  NVIDIA does lean a bit more on the CPU to improve overall GPU power, but most of this performance hit is covered up by some really good realtime compiler work in the driver.

Asus has taken the GTX 750 Ti and applied their STRIX design and branding to it.  While there are certainly faster GPUs on the market, there are none that exhibit the power characteristics of the GTX 750 Ti.  The combination of this GPU and the STRIX design should result in an extremely efficient, cool, and silent card.

Click to read the rest of the review of the Asus STRIX GTX 750 Ti!