Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital today is launching the latest version of its Black-series NVMe SSDs. Like its predecessor, the WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers, introducing a new "Gaming Mode" that tunes the drive to favor performance over power efficiency.

The drive will be available in two variants — one including a heatsink and one without — in capacities up to 2TB. Western Digital worked with cooling experts EK to design the heatsink.

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We had a brief time to review the 1TB non-heatsink model and have some initial performance results to share.

Read on for our review of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD.

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: HyperX

A Tale of Two Headsets

There is no shortage of wireless gaming headsets these days, with 2.4 GHz via USB dongle the most common option. The HyperX Cloud MIX provides wireless connectivity of the Bluetooth variety, and if you need or just prefer a wired connection don't worry - as the name implies these provide wired analog audio via a 3.5mm headset plug, with a Y-cable is also included to split off mic and audio to your sound card's requisite I/O.

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An interesting addition to the standard Bluetooth codecs with the Cloud MIX is aptX support, which means this headset has the capability of far better wireless audio quality than the standard SBC codec can provide - if you have a way to connect with aptX, that is. It's also worth noting that the Cloud MIX is actually the first Bluetooth-capable headset HyperX has released, with latency a roadblock to its adoption in this market.

Before moving on here is a look at the full specifications from HyperX:


  • Headphone
    • Driver: Custom dynamic, 40mm driver with neodymium magnets
    • Type: Circumaural; Closed back
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz–40,000Hz
    • Impedance: 40Ω
    • Sound Pressure Level: 100dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
    • T.H.D.: < 2%
    • Weight: 260g
    • Weight with Mic: 275g
  • Cable Length:
    • Detachable Headset Cable:  1.3m
    • PC Extension Cable:  2m
    • USB Charging Cable:  0.5m
  • Connection Type:
    • Detachable Headset Cable:  3.5mm plug (4 pole)
    • PC Extension Cable:  3.5mm stereo and mic plugs
  • Boom Microphone
    • Element: Electret condenser microphone
    • Polar Pattern: Noise-cancelling
    • Frequency Response: 50Hz-18,000 Hz
    • Sensitivity: -42dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
  • Built-in Microphone
    • Element: Electret condenser microphone
    • Polar Pattern: Omni-directional
    • Frequency Response: 50Hz-8,000 Hz
    • Sensitivity: -33dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
  • Battery Life (50% headphone volume) 20 hours
  • Bluetooth Version: 4.2
  • Wireless Range: Up to 10 meters

Pricing and Availability: $199.99, Best Buy

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Continue reading our review of the HyperX Cloud MIX Wired Headset with Bluetooth!

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Formidable Mid-Range

We have to go all the way back to 2015 for NVIDIA's previous graphics card announcement at CES, with the GeForce GTX 960 revealed during the show four years ago. And coming on the heels of this announcement today we have the latest “mid-range” offering in the tradition of the GeForce x60 (or x060) cards, the RTX 2060. This launch comes as no surprise to those of us following the PC industry, as various rumors and leaks preceded the announcement by weeks and even months, but such is the reality of the modern supply chain process (sadly, few things are ever really a surprise anymore).

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But there is still plenty of new information available with the official launch of this new GPU, not the least of which is the opportunity to look at independent benchmark results to find out what to expect with this new GPU relative to the market. To this end we had the opportunity to get our hands on the card before the official launch, testing the RTX 2060 in several games as well as a couple of synthetic benchmarks. The story is just beginning, and as time permits a "part two" of the RTX 2060 review will be offered to supplement this initial look, addressing omissions and adding further analysis of the data collected thus far.

Before getting into the design and our initial performance impressions of the card, let's look into the specifications of this new RTX 2060, and see how it relates to the rest of the RTX family from NVIDIA. We are  taking a high level look at specs here, so for a deep dive into the RTX series you can check out our previous exploration of the Turing Architecture here.

"Based on a modified version of the Turing TU106 GPU used in the GeForce RTX 2070, the GeForce RTX 2060 brings the GeForce RTX architecture, including DLSS and ray-tracing, to the midrange GPU segment. It delivers excellent gaming performance on all modern games with the graphics settings cranked up. Priced at $349, the GeForce RTX 2060 is designed for 1080p gamers, and delivers an excellent gaming experience at 1440p."

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  RTX 2080 Ti RTX 2080 RTX 2070 RTX 2060 GTX 1080 GTX 1070
GPU TU102 TU104 TU106 TU106 GP104 GP104
GPU Cores 4352 2944 2304 1920 2560 1920
Base Clock 1350 MHz 1515 MHz 1410  MHz 1365 MHz 1607 MHz 1506 MHz
Boost Clock 1545 MHz/
1635 MHz (FE)
1710 MHz/
1800 MHz (FE)
1620 MHz
1710 MHz (FE)
1680 MHz 1733 MHz 1683 MHz
Texture Units 272 184 144 120 160 120
ROP Units 88 64 64 48 64 64
Tensor Cores 544 368 288 240 -- --
Ray Tracing Speed 10 Giga Rays 8 Giga Rays 6 Giga Rays 5 Giga Rays -- --
Memory 11GB 8GB 8GB 6GB 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 14000 MHz  14000 MHz  14000 MHz 14000 MHz 10000 MHz 8000 MHz
Memory Interface 352-bit GDDR6 256-bit GDDR6 256-bit GDDR6 192-bit GDDR6 256-bit GDDR5X 256-bit GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth 616 GB/s 448 GB/s 448 GB/s 336.1 GB/s 320 GB/s 256 GB/s
TDP 250 W /
260 W (FE)
215W /
225W (FE)
175 W / 185W (FE) 160 W 180 W 150 W
MSRP (current) $1200 (FE)/
$1000
$800 (FE)/
$700
$599 (FE)/ $499 $349 $549 $379

Continue reading our initial review of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

New Corsair Gaming Mice

This week at CES 2019 Corsair is launching two new gaming mice as well as featuring another recently-launched flagship. The M65 RGB Elite, released late last year, and the Harpoon RGB Wireless and Ironclaw RGB, launching at CES, each offer unique features geared toward specific games and user preferences, including improved optical sensors, refined designs, and more options for customization.

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We got an early peak at each mouse along with the MM350 Extended XL, the latest version of Corsair’s gaming mouse/desk pads. Read on for a quick look at what each new gaming mouse brings to your PC gaming experience.

Corsair Gaming Mice Spec Comparison

First, here's a quick look at the major features and price point of each new mouse.





  M65 RGB Elite Harpoon RGB Wireless Ironclaw RGB
Connectivity USB 2.0 USB 2.0
Bluetooth LE 4.2
2.4GHz Slipstream
USB 2.0
Resolution Up to 18,000 DPI Up to 10,000 DPI Up to 18,000 DPI
Buttons 8 6 7
Weight 97g 99g 105g
Battery Life N/A 30hrs 2.4GHz w/lighting
45hrs 2.4GHz
40hrs Bluetooth w/lighting
60hrs Bluetooth
N/A
MSRP $59.99 $49.99 $59.99

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: FlexiSpot

FlexiSpot SanoDesk Pro Review

I'm no doctor, but the consensus appears to be clear: sitting for long periods of time isn't healthy. There are lots of jobs where prolonged sitting can be a problem, and writing about and reviewing PC hardware is certainly one of them.

Our knowledge of the dangers of prolonged sitting or, more positively, the benefits of standing while working, isn't new. Indeed, several years ago when I first started my career focused on online writing I purchased what was then a relatively novel motorized sit-to-stand desk from Steelcase.

That Steelcase desk, which I continue to use to this day, is solid and well built, but it was insanely expensive at the time I bought it. Since then lots of companies have entered the market to offer cheaper sit-to-stand solutions, but few are high quality or feature-rich enough to justify their price points.

In my time looking at options ranging from Ikea to boutique companies specializing only in the standing desk product category, I've found that desks either lack features such as height memory, feel cheap with loud jerky motor movement, or involve a complicated and time consuming assembly process. There are good options out there, of course, and while they're far cheaper than my original Steelcase desk, they're still quite expensive.

But we were recently contacted by a company called FlexiSpot, who asked us to evaluate one of their motorized high-adjustable desks. We receive all kinds of review requests here, including frequent requests related to things on the periphery of the PC hardware industry such as desks and other furniture. But what caught my attention with FlexiSpot's proposal was their claim of an "easy 5-minute assembly" for their desk.

So, intrigued by that, I agreed to a review sample of the FlexiSpot SanoDesk Pro. Priced at $599.99 for the basic desk, the SanoDesk Pro isn't cheap, but in my testing I found it to offer premium construction and operation at a lower price than many alternatives of equal quality. And yes, that "5-minute assembly" claim is actually true.

Read on for our impressions of the FlexiSpot SanoDesk Pro.

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Wooting

The World’s First Fully Analog Keyboard

For years, keyboards have been mostly static. Sure, there’s been innovations here and there but for the most part, we’ve been clacking on the same set of keys for most of our lives. The switches are digital, like the light switches on your wall: they’re either on or off with nothing in between. For many games, this just isn’t ideal. Racing games need feathery touches; third-person action games demand you both creep and run; most, in fact, feel better when you add a little bit of nuance to your control.

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The Wooting One is the world’s first completely analog optical keyboard. With the press of a button, every key can offer the same kind of nuanced control of a controller’s trigger, and thanks to a clever design, it will work any game that offers dual controller and keyboard support. Coming in at $159.99 for a single tenkeyless model and two switch options, this is the kind of innovation that doesn’t come cheap.

Join us as we dig in to see just how much of a game changer analog switches truly are.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DeepSpar

Introduction

DeepSpar is the big name in data recovery, making all sorts of data recovery hardware used by many of the big data recovery warehouses. They've recently ventured into getting their recovery hardware into the hands of smaller operations. A couple of years back, they launched the RapidSpar (reviewed here), which offered a nice little package that enabled smaller shops and small businesses to bring a fair chunk of their data recovery operations in-house. While these tools could also be used for data forensics, that's a 'different crowd' really. Forensic operations want to just be able to plug a drive into a write blocker and hit GO on their imaging software. Write blockers are hardware devices that prevent any write requests from ever reaching the storage device, which lets the forensic shop later prove to the court (if needed) that the evidence (source drive) has not been tampered with. Historically, write-blocking hardware has not implemented data recovery functionality, meaning that a drive that times out with read errors would do the same thing when connected via a write blocker. This equates to added headaches for the data forensics guys that are just trying to get their drives imaged and get on with their cases (digging through the image looking for evidence of system compromise, illegal activity, etc). A few hard drive errors throwing a big wrench into the drive imaging process should be a solvable problem, and DeepSpar has stepped in to take a crack at just that:

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Enter the Guardonix. This simple little box sits inline, between the capture PC and the USB device (flash drive, HDD in a USB dock, etc). It naturally performs the typical write blocking functionality expected from the device, but it throws in a round of data recovery functionality as well. Let's look at the simple software interface to help explain further:

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Connecting the device to the system the first time mounts a small volume containing software to get up and running. The app handles firmware and driver updates within its own interface, making things simple. DeepSpar recommends using the Asmedia USB3 controller on your system board for best possible compatibility, with the vendor driver installed (don't use the Microsoft InBox driver - download the USB 3 controller driver from your motherboard/laptop vendor). The same Asmedia controller recommendation applies to the use of a USB 3 dock connected to the Guardonix - Asmedia controllers best support the necessary device resets necessary for the data recovery tricks it is capable of.

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Once up and running, there is a series of configuration and data recovery options available. Logging options are extensive and necessary for inclusion in forensic reports. The 'PRO' settings (added cost) enable greater control of read timeouts, allow file system mounting, and enable some cool tricks like the ability to fake write attempts instead of replying with 'write denied' errors.

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Above is a typical setup showing the whole operation in action. I'm using a simple data recovery app instead of ($$$) dedicated forensic software, but the principles are the same.

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Here's a look at the Guardonix output while pushing through a drive containing read errors. Note that once past the errors, we see full speed of the source drive (a 2.5" SATA HDD in this case). The configurable timeouts are 1.25 (short), 4 (medium), and 10 (long) seconds. If the drive fails to come back after each reset attempt, the Guardonix is able to repower the drive a few seconds later. The error handling is definitely robust. I was able to go as far as to remove and reinsert the drive from the dock during imaging, and it just picked right back up from where it left off. Here's the Guardonix demo video:

Pricing and conclusion:

The base Guardonix goes for $320 at the time of this writing, with the PRO add-on features tacking on another $470. This may seem steep, but compared to other write-blocking hardware I've seen in the past, it's about average, with the PRO add-on tacking on some data recovery options capabilities not normally possible with simpler write blockers. So long as you are ok with only USB and docked SATA connectivity, that $470 is actually a good deal compared to the pricier RapidSpar (but not nearly as feature-packed).

*edit* Prices adjusted slightly after publishing. Article updated to reflect current prices.

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Overall this is good stuff from DeepSpar. I'm glad to see them venturing into the forensics space, as that arena could stand to benefit from less frustration during their imaging operations. I know it would have saved me a bunch of time and headaches back when I was dealing with data forensics!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction

Once we saw Intel launch QLC flash installed in their recent 660p M.2 part, I had a feeling that Micron would not be far behind, and that feeling has been confirmed with the launch of the Crucial P1 M.2 SSDs:

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Both the 500GB and 1TB models are single sided. The 2TB (not yet released) will likely have packages installed at the rear.

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No surprises with the packaging. Does the job just fine.

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Specs are also reasonably standard for an NVMe SSD at this point, though we do see a bit more of a falloff at the lower capacities here. This is partially due to the use of QLC flash, even though these specs are likely assuming full use of the available SLC cache. Since QLC allows for higher capacity per die, that translates to fewer dies for a given SSD total capacity, which lowers overall performance even at SLC speeds. This is a common trait/tradeoff for the use of higher capacity dies.

Read on for our review of the Crucial P1!

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Introduction

2-Banner.jpg

Corsair recently introduced two new SFX small form-factor power supplies into their already formidable lineup of PC power supplies. The SF Platinum Series includes two SFX models, the SF450 (450W) and SF600 (600W). They are very similar to the two current Gold Series SFX units currently on the market but thanks to some tweaks in the circuit design and manufacturing process the Platinum Series SF450 and SF600 now deliver Platinum level efficiency.

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Both new power supplies feature fully modular cables with individually sleeved wires. The SF450 and SF600 feature a Zero RPM Fan Mode for silent operation at low to medium power and come backed by a 7-year warranty. And an SFX-to-ATX mounting bracket is included in the box. We will be taking a detailed look at the Corsair SF600 Platinum power supply in this review.

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Corsair Platinum Series SFX power supply Key Features:

•    450W or 600W continuous DC output (up to 50°C)
•    Compact SFX form-factor chassis (only 100mm deep)
•    80 Plus Platinum certified for high efficiency
•    Custom designed 92mm Cooling fan with riffled sleeve bearing
•    Zero RPM Fan Mode for silent operation at low to mid power
•    105°C Japanese capacitors for high reliability
•    Individually sleeved, Fully modular cables
•    SFX-to-ATX mounting bracket included
•    Active PFC (0.99 PF typical) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections: OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    7-Year Manufacturer’s warranty
•    SF450 MSRP : $119.99 USD
•    SF600 MSRP : $149.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair Platinum SFX PSUs!!!

Manufacturer: Scythe

The Ninja 5 is the latest in the line of high performance, low-noise tower air coolers from Scythe, building on the venerable Ninja 4 design (reviewed here back in 2016) with a new dual-fan configuration. The Ninja 5 (SCNJ-5000) ships with a pair of Kaze Flex 120 mm fans, which should provide very low noise output with their 800 RPM max speed. Does the combination of big heatsink and dual low-speed fans translate into high performance? Let's find out!

Ninja_5_Hero.jpg

Let's get right to the specifications from Scythe:


  • Model number: SCNJ-5000
  • CPU Support:
  • Intel 775 / 115x  / 1366 / 2011(V3) / 2066
  • AMD AM4 / AM3(+) / AM2(+) / FM2(+) / FM1
  • Radiator size: (W) 130 x (H) 155 x (D) 130mm
  • Fan size: 120 x 120 x 27mm
  • Heatpipe: Ø6mm x 6
  • Fan speed: 300±200~800 rpm±10% RPM
  • Airflow: 16.6~43.03 CFM
  • Statics: 0.0762~0.49 mmH2O / 0.75~4.8 Pa
  • Noise: 4.0~14.5 dBA
  • Weight (fan included):  1190g

Pricing and Availability: $59.99 MSRP (currently unavailable from known retailers in USA)

Ninja_5_Box.jpg

The Ninja 5 arrives nicely boxed with good protection, and the accessory pack has everything you'll need right down to a full-size screwdriver:

Ninja_5_Accessories.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Scythe Ninja 5 air cooler!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

For years we have been repeatedly teased by Samsung. Launch after successful launch in the consumer SSD space, topping performance charts nearly every time, but what about enterprise? Oh sure, there were plenty of launches on that side, with the company showing off higher and higher capacity 2.5" enterprise SSDs year after year, but nobody could ever get their hands on one, and even the higher tier reviewers could not confirm Samsung's performance claims. While other SSD makers would privately show me performance comparison data showing some Samsung enterprise part walking all over their own enterprise parts, there was not much concern in their voices since only a small group of companies had the luxury of being on Samsung's short list of clients that could purchase these products. Announcements of potentially groundbreaking products like the Z-SSD were soured by press folk growing jaded by unobtanium products that would likely never be seen by the public.

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Samsung has recently taken some rather significant steps to change that tune. They held a small press event in September, where we were assured that enterprise SSD models were coming to 'the channel' (marketing speak for being available on the retail market). I was thrilled, as were some of the Samsung execs who had apparently been pushing for such a move for some time.

As a next step towards demonstrating that Samsung is dedicated to their plan, I was recently approached to test a round of their upcoming products. I accepted without hesitation, have been testing for the past week, and am happy to now bring you detailed results obtained from testing eight different SSDs across four enterprise SSD models. Testing initially began with three of the models, but then I was made aware that the Z-SSD was also available for testing, and given the potential significance of that product and its placement as a competitor to 3D XPoint products like Intel's Optane, I thought it important to include that testing as well, making this into one heck of a Samsung Enterprise SSD roundup!

One large note before we continue - this is an enterprise SSD review. Don't expect to see game launches, SYSmark runs, or boot times here. The density of the data produced by my enterprise suite precludes most easy side-by-side comparisons, so I will instead be presenting the standard full-span random and sequential results for fully conditioned drives, marking the rated specs on the charts as we go along. High-Resolution QoS will also be used throughout, as Quality of Service is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing SSDs for enterprise usage. In short, the SSDs will be tested against their own specifications, with the exception of some necessary comparisons between the Samsung Z-SSD and the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X which I will squeeze in towards the end of this very lengthy and data-dense review.

Read on for our full review of Samsung's new enterprise products!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Vega meets Radeon Pro

Professional graphics cards are a segment of the industry that can look strange to gamers and PC enthusiasts. From the outside, it appears that businesses are paying more for almost identical hardware when compared to their gaming counterparts from both NVIDIA and AMD. 

However, a lot goes into a professional-level graphics card that makes all the difference to the consumers they are targeting. From the addition of ECC memory to protect against data corruption, all the way to a completely different driver stack with specific optimizations for professional applications, there's a lot of work put into these particular products.

The professional graphics market has gotten particularly interesting in the last few years with the rise of the NVIDIA TITAN-level GPUs and "Frontier Edition" graphics cards from AMD. While lacking ECC memory, these new GPUs have brought over some of the application level optimizations, while providing a lower price for more hobbyist level consumers.

However, if you're a professional that depends on a graphics card for mission-critical work, these options are no replacement for the real thing.

Today we're looking at one of AMD's latest Pro graphics offerings, the AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200. 

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Click here to continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200.

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Better With Age

Logitech has been around since 1981 and has produced well over a billion mice during that time. As most companies have found out through the years, if there is no differentiation in products then there is a greater risk of suffering dips due to changes in demand or missed product cycles. Through acquisitions and smart hiring, Logitech has continued to grow and have addressed markets well beyond the mice that they have been famous for.

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The G29 is compatible with the Driving Force Shifter from Logitech. This leather wrapped shifter features 6 speeds and a reverse in a self clamping package.

The move to gaming controllers was started decades ago and Logitech has a pretty significant lineup under the Logitech G brand. These gaming oriented products have proven to be quite popular due to their features, construction, and overall price. Initially Logitech opted for joysticks, but have broadened their reach with other controller types. Eventually they produced their own racing wheels and have found a moderate amount of success there. The earlier G25 and G27 products became quite popular due to their overall featureset and relatively low price. The previous G27 was originally released in 2010 so it was prime time to design a new product that would address the PC and console markets.

In 2015 Logitech released the G29 for the PC and Playstation and the G920 for PC and Xbox. The difference between the two wheels is limited to button placement and functions. The internal mechanism is the same as well as the pedals and mounting. This is primarily due to licensing limitations from Sony and Microsoft. The design philosophy that powered the G25 and G27 wheels is retained for this latest generation. There are some differences though, and they were not exactly positive.

At release the G29 and G920 wheels were priced at $399. This is a significant hike from the $299 price of the G27. Also significant is that Logitech did not include the manual shifter that was packaged with the G25 and G27 models. A far higher initial price which did not include an optional shifter was not a popular decision with consumers. While reviews were generally positive for the wheel, it seems as though Logitech had priced themselves out of the market compared to what the competition could give.

Now that we are a few years from that launch we are taking another look at the G29 now that prices have dropped significantly from $399. On Amazon and Newegg the wheel is listed at $266, and I have seen prices as low as $230. MSRP is still at $399 according to Logitech’s site, but in reality the price is far lower and much more in line with expectations and the competition.

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Packaging is pretty minimal with no styrofoam or extra packing. It arrived in excellent condition with cardboard inserts and good compartmentalization.

 

Click to continue reading about the Logitech G29 Racing Wheel review!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

With the release of Intel's lastest consumer-oriented chipset, the Z390, GIGABYTE has unveiled its own Z390 motherboard lineup. We got our hands on one of these new boards, the mid-range GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z390 AORUS Pro features a matte black PCB and an integrated rear panel shield. In keeping with its previous AORUS series board designs, GIGABYTE spread RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, which are configurable via a Windows applet. The board offers support for the latest Intel 9th generation processors (as well as maintaining support for the 8th generation processors) and Dual Channel DDR4 memory via the Intel Z390 chipset. The Z390 AORUS Pro can be found at retail at an MRSP of around $190.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The following features have been integrated into the board: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports; an RJ-45 port featuring an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a Realtek ALC1220-VB Audio CODEC; an integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated a 13-phase (12+1) digital power delivery system into the Z390 AORUS Pro board's design. The digital power system was designed with an IR Digital PWM Controller and DrMOS ICs, high grade choke, and all-metal long-life capacitors. The power circuitry and board trace design works together to give the board excellent overclockability when used in combination with Intel 9th generation processors.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro motherboard!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, QLC, 860 QVO, 2.5

Introduction

With recent QLC SSD launches like the Intel 660P and Crucial P1, folks may have been wondering when Samsung would jump on the QLC bandwagon. I'm happy to report that your wait is now over:

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Samsung has opted to name this new product 'QVO'. The Q presumably stems from the use QLC flash, which can store four bits per cell.

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While QLC writes are far slower than what we are used to seeing from a modern SSD, SLC caching is the answer to bridging that performance gap. The 860 QVO employs Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite, which has a minimum 6GB static cache plus a dynamic cache of up to 72GB. This dynamic cache varies based on available QLC area which can be reconfigured to operate in SLC mode. Do note the 'After TubroWrite' speeds of 80 and 160 MB/s - that's the raw QLC speeds that you will see if the cache has been exhausted during an extended write period.

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The rest of the specs are about what we expect from a SATA SSD, but I do have a concern with those QD1 4KB random read ratings of only 7,500 IOPS. This is on the low side especially for Samsung, who typically dominate in low QD random read performance.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction

It has been 9 years since I reviewed the DroboPro. For its time, that product was a beast of a device, with the closest to a 'set it and forget it' RAID implementation I had ever seen. It was also robust enough to shrug off any combination of power loss and pulling (failing) disks that I could throw at it. The ease of use/durability combination was a good formula for Drobo that has now lasted over a decade. The main hurdles over the years have been more on the performance side of things. The original DroboPro was indeed quicker than previous Drobos and other competing models, but competition quickly surpassed them in performance. Later Drobo models brought decent performance and capabilities for competitive prices (like the Drobo 5C), but we haven't had a worthy successor to the original DroboPro. They came close in the form of the B810 series, but those were still limited by Gigabit links. We needed the 8-bay form factor to have a larger pipe - and now we do:

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Read on for our review of the Drobo 8D

Tagged: gaming, esports

The Esports Stadium Arlington

On Monday, November 19, we were invited to partake in the unveiling of North Texas' latest technological marvel, the Esports Stadium Arlington. Arlington is already a well known sports destination, hosting both the Dallas Cowboys at the AT&T Stadium, and the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. The city partnered with Populous and NGAGE Esports to construct the largest eSports venue in North America, hoping to make Arlington (and North Dallas) a hub for eSports in addition to its well-known sports stature.

Populous was chosen for their expertise in designing cutting edge sports-related venues with NGAGE Esports providing the eSports and gaming-related tweaks to make the venue a reality. The Esports Stadium Arlington is a 100,000 square foot space within the existing Arlington Convention Center complex with seating to accommodate a 2,500 person crowd watching the matches on its 85 foot long LED wall screen above the competition area.

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From the initial approach to the venue, it is obvious how much importance Arlington is putting behind its new Esports Stadium Arlington. It has top billing on the venue sign as well as an LED screen scrolling announcements for upcoming events at the venue. The venue's kickoff event will be a CSO League event occurring over the Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 24 - 25).

Entrance Hall

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Upon entering the venue, you are greeting with a large and brightly lit space with no doubt left as to its eSports-centered use. There are hanging banners with the venues core themes - Fan, Player, Icon, as well as a large name plaque with the venue's logo, a mural with various eSport-related highlights, and a fully stocked merchandise section. The merchandise section has various gamer wear, as well as video cards and peripherals, on display and for sale for those interested.

Gaming Area

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Upon entering the Esports complex proper, you first enter the gaming area containing various console and PC gaming areas where both the general public and teams to play their chosen titles of choice. They even have console style stations where players can get the true 1-v-1 experience.

Continue reading our coverage of the Esports Stadium Arlington Unveiling Event!

Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

New Products

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

A few weeks back, GIGABYTE hosted several press outlets and retailer partners in Miami to unveil their latest product offerings, centered around their Intel Z390-based motherboard and NVIDIA RTX 20 series graphics card lines. On display was the normal assortment of channel, gaming, and enthusiast-class boards and graphics cards, in addition to some other products that you would not normally associate with GIGABYTE. They are beginning to push the boundaries of their product lines with everything from in-house developed PSUs and memory to hard drives and case fans. They even had a few PCIe-base M.2 RAID cards on hand. All-in-all, GIGABYTE is pushing into the run up to Christmas and 2019 swinging for the fences.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Among the changes covered was the revamping of their product lines and naming conventions to make it easier for consumers to know what they're paying for across each product line. The motherboard line will consist of the AORUS line at the top, split into enthusiast and gaming tiers, the mid-tier GIGABYTE Gaming line, and the Ultra Durable (UD) Series for their base tier. Similarly, their graphics lines will be split across the AORUS line at the top, the GIGABYTE Gaming OC line as their mid-tier offering, and their Windforce OC and Turbo OC lines as their lower-tier offerings.

AORUS Motherboard Specs

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

With the release of the Intel Z390 chipset, GIGABYTE worked hard to equalize their board series and models so that users didn't feel forced to buy the highest end boards to get all the latest and greatest features. As exemplified in their AORUS board line, all boards share Intel-based GIGE LAN controllers, GEN1 and GEN2 USB 3.1 controllers, and at least two on-board M.2 ports (even on their mini-ITX board). The differentiation comes in the form of added integrated ports and enhanced cooling for the VRMs and chipset, allowing for more targeted overclocking ceilings.

20-Series Graphics Cards Specs

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Their 20-series graphics cards lines share the same reconfiguration of their branding and design with all cards within a card family (families being 2070 / 2080 / 2080Ti) sharing common features and base level design decisions. The higher end cards in each of the product families have enhanced power capabilities and cooling potential for the enthusiasts wanting to squeeze that last bit of FPS out of their system.

Continue reading our coverage of the GIGABYTE AORUS Z390 launch event review!

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!

Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Features

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Introduction

EVGA has one of the largest selections of PC power supplies on the market, which currently range from 400W all the way up to 1600W. The G1 Series has been around for several years and continues to be very popular. The latest iterations adds a plus + to the name along with several enhancements. We will be taking a detailed look at the EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G1+ power supply in this review.