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Synology DS1618+ Review
Synology's 2018 product lineup includes a new network-attached storage device that merges a prosumer price point with an enterprise-level (albeit entry-level enterprise) feature set. The Synology DS1618+ is a six-bay NAS sporting a quad-core Intel processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, and, most importantly, a PCIe expansion slot.
It's that last key feature -- a PCIe 3.0 x8 (x4 link) slot -- that really makes the DS1618+ interesting, as it lets users optionally expand the capabilities of the device with add-ons like NVMe flash adapters or 10GbE ports. Synology has long offered PCIe expansion capabilities in their products, but they've generally been limited to the much costlier enterprise models. With the costs of 10-gigabit networking continuing to fall, however, the DS1618+ is perfectly timed to bring ultra-fast networked storage to home power users.
Synology loaned us a DS1618+ for review, and we've spent the last few weeks testing it with our existing 10GBase-T network.
Introduction and Features
Earlier this year we looked at the BitFenix Whisper M 850W power supply and today we are taking a detailed look at the BitFenix Formula Gold 750W unit. With a lower price point the Formula Gold Series is targeted towards mainstream consumers. The most obvious difference between these two units is the Formula God Series has all fixed cables while the Whisper M Series comes with modular cables. The Formula Gold power supplies use a 120mm cooling fan that spins all the time while the Whisper M units incorporate a 135mm fan with semi-fanless operation. And last but not least is a difference in warranty period. The Formula Gold Series are backed with a 5-year warranty while the Whisper M units come with a 7-year warranty.
Formed in 2014 and based in New Taipei, Taiwan, BitFenix started their PC hardware business with a focus on power supplies, cases, lighting accessories, and LED fans targeted towards enthusiasts, gamers and modders. They currently have four different power supply lines: the Formula Gold, BitFenix BPA, Whisper M, and the Fury. The Formula Gold series includes four models: 450W, 550W, 650W and 750W.
The BitFenix Formula Gold Series power supplies are certified to comply with the 80 Plus Gold standards for high efficiency and feature Japanese made capacitors. All of the Formula Gold power supplies use a multi-rail delivery system with four dedicated +12V outputs: MB-PH, CPU, VGA1, and VGA2.
BitFenix Formula Gold 750W PSU Key Features:
• 750W Continuous DC output at up to 50°C
• 80 PLUS Gold certified for high efficiency
• Dedicated quad +12V rails
• 120mm Cooling fan with FDB
• Intelligent Fan Control for quiet operation
• Japanese made capacitors
• Complies with Intel ATX12V v2.4
• Active Power Factor correction with Universal AC input (100 to 240 VAC)
• Safety protections: OCP, OVP, UVP, OPP, SCP, OTP, and SIP
• No Load Operation (NLO)
• 2013 ErP Lot 6 ready
• 5-Year warranty
• MSRP: $89.95 USD
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Samsung has been in the portable SSD business for a good while now. They released their T1 back in 2015, with the T3 and T5 coming in at a yearly cadence. Keeping with tradition, today we see the release of a new model on a new interface - Samsung's new Portable SSD X5:
(970 EVO included for scale)
While the 'T' branded predecessors were USB 3.0 and 3.1 (Gen1 - limited to 5Gbps), Samsung has now jumped onto the Thunderbolt 3 bandwagon, taking a firmware-tweaked (for encryption) 970 EVO and placing it behind an Intel Alpine Ridge DSL6340 Thunderbolt 3 controller.
Specs of note are the nearly 3GB/s sequential read speed. 2.3GB/s writes are nothing to sneeze at, either. No random performance noted here, but we will fix that with our test suite later on in the article.
Nice packaging and presentation.
Read on for our review of the Samsung Portable SSD X5!
We aim to find out
Back in April of this year we first took a look at the storage performance of the then-new X470 chipset for the 2nd generation of Ryzen processors. Allyn dove into NVMe RAID performance and also a new offering called StoreMI. Based on a software tiered storage solution from Enmotus, StoreMI was a way for AMD to offer storage features and capabilities matching or exceeding that of Intel’s mainstream consumer platforms without the need for extensive in-house development.
Allyn described the technology well:
AMD has also launched their answer to Intel RST caching. StoreMI is actually a more flexible solution that offers some unique advantages over Intel. Instead of copying a section of HDD data to the SSD cache, StoreMI combines the total available storage space of both the HDD and SSD, and is able to seamlessly shuffle the more active data blocks to the SSD. StoreMI also offers more cache capacity than Intel - up to
512 256GB SSD caches are possible (60GB limit on Intel). Lastly, the user can opt to donate 2GB of RAM as an additional caching layer.
We recently did some testing with StoreMI after the release of the 2nd generation Threadripper processor evaluation was out of the way, just to get a feel for the current state of the software offering and whether or not it could really close the gap with the Optane caching solutions that Intel was putting forward for enthusiasts.
Your Mileage May Vary
One of the most interesting things going around in the computer hardware communities this past weekend was the revelation from a user named bryf50 on Reddit that they somehow had gotten his FreeSync display working with his NVIDIA GeForce GPU.
For those of you that might not be familiar with the particular ins-and-outs of these variable refresh technologies, getting FreeSync displays to work on NVIDIA GPUs is potentially a very big deal.
While NVIDIA GPUs support the NVIDIA G-SYNC variable refresh rate standard, they are not compatible with Adaptive Sync (the technology on which FreeSync is based) displays. Despite Adaptive Sync being an open standard, and an optional extension to the DisplayPort specification, NVIDIA so far has chosen not to support these displays.
However, this provides some major downsides to consumers looking to purchase displays and graphics cards. Due to the lack of interoperability, consumers can get locked into a GPU vendor if they want to continue to use the variable refresh functionality of their display. Plus, Adaptive-Sync/FreeSync monitors, in general, seem to be significantly more inexpensive for similar specifications.
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.
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:
- 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
Evolution of a Pro Mouse
Logitech’s original G Pro mouse quickly became a fan favorite among competitive gamers and, with the introduction of the new HERO16k sensor, it was only a matter of time before we saw an updates trickling into their existing lines. Well, now is that time and we actually find ourselves with two new G Pro mice to test today: the updated wired G Pro and the LIGHTSPEED equipped G Pro Wireless. Let’s dig in and see if they deliver!
Before we get to packaging, let’s have a look at the specs:
- Sensor: HERO16K™
- Resolution: 100-16,000 DPI
- Max. acceleration: tested at > 40G
- Max. speed: tested at > 400 IPS
- USB data format: 16 bits/axis
- USB report rate: 125Hz (8ms) - 1000 Hz (1 ms)
- Microprocessor: 32-bit ARM
- Main buttons: 50-million clicks with precision mechanical button tensioning
- Feet: tested at > 250-km range
- Physical specifications:
- G Pro Wireless: 4.92in (H) x 2.50in (W) x 1.57in (D)
- G Pro: 4.59in (H) x 2.44in (W) x 1.50in (D)
- G Pro Wireless: 2.8oz/80g
- G Pro: 2.93oz/83g (mouse only)
- Cable length:
- G Pro Wireless: ~6 ft (charging)
- G Pro: ~6.5 ft
- Illumination: Yes, dual zone
- Pricing and Availability:
- G Pro Wireless: $149.99 at LogitechG.com
- G Pro: $69.99 at LogitechG.com
As you can tell, when it comes to performance, these mice are almost identical. That’s no surprise given that they’ve been developed in collaboration with top e-Sports pros over the last two years. Whether you’re wired or cable-free, if you’re in the middle of a tournament, you need your mouse to be reliable and on the cutting edge of tracking, so we wouldn’t expect to see a performance difference between the two, particularly when LIGHTSPEED has so narrowed the gap between wired and wireless performance. Instead, the differences come down to physical design.
The packaging on each of the mice is very similar. The Pro Wireless is clearly more premium, however, coming apart in two pieces to showcase the mouse underneath.
The G Pro Wireless comes with a few accessories, including a 6-foot USB cable, USB dongle and extender, and plates to block the side buttons on either side. Conveniently, the wireless receiver can be stored in a compartment in the bottom of the mouse. The wired G Pro is much simpler, including only the mouse and some basic documentation.
Recently, we got the opportunity to take a look at an interesting video capture device from a company called Pengo. While we had never heard of this company before, the promises of 4K 60Hz video capture at the price of $150 were too compelling to pass up.
Also, the Pengo 4K is a UVC capture device, which means that it uses the standard Microsoft video drivers, meaning it will work with any application capable of seeing camera input from a webcam and requires no additional software/drivers. Pengo also claims support for Mac OS and Linux with this device, although you would have to find software that knows how to deal with UVC devices.
From a design perspective, the Pengo 4K is quite simple. The device itself is made from aluminum and about the size of a deck of playing cards.
In addition to video capture, you can also use the Pengo as an audio input/output device through the audio connectors on the front.
Taking a look at the back of the Pengo, we can see my one major gripe with the device. Instead of using a proper port like MicroUSB or USB-C, the device ships with a Type-A to Type-A cable, which is actually against the USB specifications and will make finding a replacement cable, or a cable longer than the included cable (about 1 foot) difficult.
In this case, we used OBS to record footage from the Xbox One X using the Pengo 4K. Here, we can see that the Xbox is, in fact, capable of outputting full 4K 60Hz content to this capture card.
However, if you do some further investigation, we found that while the Pengo capture device ingests 4K footage, it is only actually capable of recording at 1080p 60Hz, meaning that it internally downsamples the footage.
While this still makes sense to some degree, allowing you to keep your console or PC in 4K for your local display while gaming, it's disappointing to see the capture functionality limited to 1080p. To be fair, the recording limitations of the Pengo are hidden on the specifications page, but overall it seems disingenuous to market this device heavily as "4K".
For anyone looking for an inexpensive, easy to use capture device, I would still recommend taking a look at the Pengo 4K HDMI Grabber. However, if you are looking for true 4K capture, this is not the device for you.
|Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
|How product was obtained:||The product was on loan from Pengo for the purpose of this review.|
|What happens to the product after review:||The product remains the property of Pengo but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.|
|Company involvement:||Pengo had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.|
|PC Perspective Compensation:||Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Pengo for this review.|
|Advertising Disclosure:||Pengo has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.|
|Affiliate links:||This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.|
|Consulting Disclosure:||Pengo is not a current client of Shrout Research.|
Introduction and Features
NZXT recently introduced the E Series line of digital power supplies which is being offered in three sizes: 500W, 650W and 850W. The E Series power supplies are all modular, support 80 Plus Gold efficiency certification, and come backed by a 10-year warranty. We will be taking a detailed look at the NZXT E850 PSU in this review.
One of the more unique features offered by the NZXT E Series digital power supplies is support for NZXT’s CAM desktop monitoring and control software. This allows the end user to monitor various power supply parameters (voltages, power, temperature, etc., by rail) and provides control over current limit set points and fan speed profiles. An onboard DSP digital interface connects the E Series power supply to the PC via a USB link to the motherboard.
NZXT partnered with Seasonic as the OEM for the E Series; one of the most respected manufacturers in the industry. So as you might expect the NZXT E Series power supplies incorporate high-quality components like all Japanese made electrolytic capacitors 105°C and a 120mm FDB (Fluid Dynamic Bearing Fan).
The E Series power supplies are currently entering retail channels and should be available from your favorite online retailer by the end of July 2018. The MSRPs for the three E Series power supplies are:
• NZXT E500 - $119.99 USD
• NZXT E650 - $129.99 USD
• NZXT E850 - $149.99 USD
NZXT E Series PSU Key Features:
• 500W, 650W, and 850W continuous DC output at up to 50°C
• Digital interface supports NZXT CAM monitoring and control software
• 10-Year Warranty and NZXT Service and Support
• 80 PLUS Gold certified, at least 90% efficiency under 50% load
• Fully modular cables for easy installation
• Fan-less mode for silent operation at low power
• Quiet 120mm fan with FDB for long life and quiet operation
• High quality components including all Japanese electrolytic capacitors 105°C
• Compact chassis measures only 150mm (5.9”) deep
• Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
• Safety protections: OPP, OVP, UVP, OCP, OTP and SCP
Aggressively Pursuing New Markets
ARM has had a pretty fascinating history, but for most of its time on this Earth it has not been a very public facing company. After the release of the iPhone and ARM’s dominance in the mobile market, they decided to push their PR efforts up a few notches. Now we finally were able to see some of the inner workings of a company that was once a little known low power CPU designer that licensed cores out to third parties.
The company was not always as aggressive as what we are seeing now. The mobile space for a long time was dominated by multiple architectures that all have eventually faded away. ARM held steady with design improvements and good customer relations that ensured that they would continue into the future. After the release of the original iPhone, the world changed. Happily for us, ARM changed as well. In previous years ARM would announce products, but they would be at least three years away and few people took notice of what they were up to. I originally started paying attention to ARM as I thought that their cores might have the ability to power mobile gaming and perhaps be integrated into future consoles so that there would be a unified architecture that these providers could lean upon. This was back when the 3DS and PSP were still selling millions of units.
This of course never came to pass as I had expected it to, but at least ARM did make it into the Nintendo Switch. ARM worked hard to quickly put faster, more efficient parts out the door. They also went on a buying spree and acquired several graphics startups that would eventually contribute to the now quite formidable Mali GPU family of products. Today we have an extensive lineup of parts that can be bundled into a tremendous amount of configurations. ARM has a virtual monopoly in the cellphone market because they have been willing to work with anyone who wants to license their designs, technologies, and architectures. This is actually a relatively healthy “monopoly” because the partners do the work to mix and match features to provide unique products to the marketplace. Architectural licensees like Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung all differentiate their products as well and provide direct competition to the ARM designed cores that are licensed to other players.
Today we are seeing a new direction from ARM that has never been officially explored. We have been given a roadmap of the next two generations of products from the company that are intended to compete in not only the cellphone market, but also in the laptop market. ARM has thrown down the gauntlet and their sights are set on Intel and AMD. Not only is ARM showing us the codenames for these products, but also the relative performance.
Widening the Offerings
Today, we are talking about something that would have seen impossible just a few shorts years ago— a 32-core processor for consumers. While I realize that talking about the history of computer hardware can be considered superfluous in a processor review, I think it's important to understand the context here of why this is just a momentous shift for the industry.
May 2016 marked the launch of what was then the highest core count consumer processor ever seen, the Intel Core i7-6950X. At 10 cores and 20 threads, the 6950X was easily the highest performing consumer CPU in multi-threaded tasks but came at a staggering $1700 price tag. In what we will likely be able to look back on as the peak of Intel's sole dominance of the x86 CPU space, it was an impossible product to recommend to almost any consumer.
Just over a year later saw the launch of Skylake-X with the Intel Core i9-7900X. Retaining the same core count as the 6950X, the 7900X would have been relatively unremarkable on its own. However, a $700 price drop and the future of upcoming 12, 14, 16, and 18-core processors on this new X299 platform showed an aggressive new course for Intel's high-end desktop (HEDT) platform.
This aggressiveness was brought on by the success of AMD's Ryzen platform, and the then upcoming Threadripper platform. Promising up to 16 cores/32 threads, and 64 lanes of PCI Express connectivity, it was clear that Intel would for the first time have a competitor on their hands in the HEDT space that they created back with the Core i7-920.
Fast forward another year, and we have the release of the 2nd Generation Threadripper. Promising to bring the same advancements we saw with the Ryzen 7 2700X, AMD is pushing Threadripper to even more competitive states with higher performance and lower cost.
Will Threadripper finally topple Intel from their high-end desktop throne?
Intro and NNEF 1.0 Finalization
SIGGRAPH 2018 is a huge computer graphics expo that occurs in a seemingly random host city around North America. (Asia has a sister event, called SIGGRAPH Asia, which likewise shuffles around.) In the last twenty years, the North American SIGGRAPH seems to like Los Angeles, which hosted the event nine times over that period, but Vancouver won out this year. As you would expect, the maintainers of OpenGL and Vulkan are there, and they have a lot to talk about.
- NNEF 1.0 has been finalized and released!
- The first public demo of OpenXR is available and on the show floor.
- glTF Texture Transmission Extension is being discussed.
- OpenCL Ecosystem Roadmap is being discussed.
- Khronos Educators Program has launched.
I will go through each of these points. Feel free to skip around between the sections that interest you!
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Flash Memory Summit 2018 is on, and it's rapidly looking like the theme of the year is 'QLC'. QLC stands for Quad Level Cell, which is a bit of a misnomer since there are actually 16 voltage levels of a QLC cell - the 'quad' actually relating to the four bits of data that can be stored at any specific location.
Doubling the number of voltage states allows you to store 33% more data in a given number of flash cells, but comes at a cost. The tighter voltage tolerances required and higher sensitivity to cell leakage mean that endurance ratings cannot be as high as TLC or MLC, and programming (writing) requires greater voltage precision, meaning slower writes. Reads may also see a slight penalty since it is more difficult to discriminate more finely grained voltage thresholds. SSD makers have been trying to overcome these hurdles for years, and it seems that Intel is now the first to crack the code, launching their first mainstream QLC SSD:
Specifications are not earth shattering but respectable for a budget-minded NVMe SSD. 1.8GB/s sequentials and 250,000 IOPS fall well within NVMe territory. The write figures may be higher than expected given this article intro, but Intel has a few tricks up their sleeves here that help them pull this off:
While not specifically called out in the specs, Intel has implemented a large dynamic write cache to help overcome slower QLC media write speeds. The idea here is that in the vast majority of typical usage scenarios, the user should never see QLC speeds and will only ever be writing to SLC. The dynamic cache is created by simply operating sections of the QLC media in SLC mode (1TB of QLC = 256GB of SLC). Intel could have gone higher here, but doing so would more negatively impact endurance since erasing blocks of cells wears the flash similarly regardless of the mode it is currently operating in.
Simple packaging. Nothing to write home about.
Read on for our full review of the Intel SSD 660p 1TB QLC SSD!
While we tend to focus on PC Gaming-oriented displays here at PC Perspective, they don't necessarily represent the highest-end of the PC monitor market. Often professionals working in photography and videography areas have stricter requirements for the displays they use.
Just imagine, if you are mastering video in wide gamut color spaces like DCI-P3 for HDR playback, you need to be assured that the source image on your PC is being accurately represented on your display. While the highest-end production use reference displays that can cost upwards of $20,000, there's a growing market for more modestly priced displays for prosumers that can also provide reasonable assurance of color accuracy.
This is the type of consumer that ASUS targets with their "ProArt" lineup. Today, we are taking a look at the ASUS ProArt PA32UC, a factory-calibrated 32" 3840x2160 display capable of 99.5% AdobeRGB coverage.
Logitech G560 Review
Continuing the seemingly unstoppable trend of RGB-enabled PC accessories, Logitech last month introduced the G560 LIGHTSYNC PC Gaming Speaker. The G560 is a $200 2.1 speaker system with multiple RGB lights that works with Logitech's LIGHTSYNC platform.
The company loaned us the G560 for review, and we spent the last few weeks using it as our primary speaker system for movies, music, and games. Does adding RGB lighting to your PC speakers make a positive contribution to your multimedia experience? Or is it just a gimmick?
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The GIGABYTE X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WIFI board features a matte black PCB with with a black armor overlay protecting the rear panel and audio components, as well as an integrated rear panel shield. In keeping with their previous AORUS series board designs, GIGABYTE spread RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, configurable via the UEFI or the windows app. The board supports the AMD Ryzen 2 series processor line and Dual Channel DDR4 memory via the AMD X470 chipset. The X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WiFi motherboard can be found at most retailers with an MRSP of $239.99
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The following features have been integrated into the board: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports (one PCIe 2.0 and one PCIe 3.0); an RJ-45 port featuring an Intel I211-AT Gigabit NIC; dual antennae ports tied to the Intel 802.11ac WiFi controller; three PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; a Realtek audio CODEC; an integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated integrated a 12-phase (10+2) digital power delivery system into the X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WIFI board's design. The digital power system was designed with IR digital power controllers and PowIRstage ICs, Server Level Chokes, and Durable Black capacitors. The power components used are the same as those used to great effect on their AORUS Intel boards.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
GIGABYTE integrated a variety of fan headers and temperature sensors into the board They integrated temperature sensors into the CPU socket, VRMs, and chipset. Additionally, there are monitored fan headers spread throughout the board's surface, all supporting high current devices (fans or water pumps), rated for up to 24W (2A at 12V).
More than RGB
The Pulsefire Surge from HyperX is a wired gaming mouse with solid specs and 360-degree ring of RGB lighting. The heart of the mouse is its optical sensor, which in this case is the Pixart PMW3389; a sensor with a native 16,000 DPI (or CPI) resolution. A pair of Omron switches handle clicking duties for the left/right mouse buttons, and on paper this seems like a pretty good option - with the added flair of RGB effects. So how did it perform? Let's find out!
First here's a look at the specifications from HyperX:
- Ergonomic: Symmetrical
- Sensor: Pixart PMW3389
- Resolution: Up to 16,000 DPI
- DPI Presets: 800 / 1600 / 3200 DPI
- Speed: 450ips
- Acceleration: 50G
- Buttons: 6
- Left / Right buttons switches: Omron
- Left / Right buttons durability: 50 million clicks
- Backlight: RGB (16,777,216 colors)
- Light effects: Per-LED RGB lighting and 4 brightness levels
- Onboard memory: 3 profiles
- Connection type: USB 2.0
- Polling rate: 1000Hz
- USB data format: 16 bits/axis
- Dynamic coefficient of friction: 0.13µ
- Static coefficient of friction: 0.20µ
- Cable type: Braided
- Weight (without cable): 100g
- Weight (with cable): 130g
- Dimensions:Length: 120.24mm
- Height: 40.70mm
- Width: 62.85mm
- Cable length: 1.8m
Pricing and Availability:
- HyperX Pulsefire Surge - $69.99, Amazon.com
Out of the box the Pulsefire Surge looks quite conventional - more like a standard productivity mouse than a gaming product. This is a compact symmetrical design (aside from the two side buttons along the left edge). Without RGB lighting enabled this could pass for any number of inexpensive or OEM mice on a desk - but we will discover that actual use paints a very different picture.
The Story Begins
In the automotive world, there is the idea of a sleeper car. Sleepers are high-performance cars in mundane, dull shells. This performance can come from a variety of different areas; it might be a high-performance trim level of a vehicle that most people associate to be cheap or slow, from modifications, or even entire drivetrain swaps.
The enthusiast PC building world also has their equivalent sleepers. In general, these sorts of project swap new, high-performance hardware into chassis from vintage desktop computers, this build from Linus Tech Tips springs to mind as a standout option.
One area that largely gets left behind in the PC hardware modification world is notebooks. Generally, notebooks don’t use standard components, making it virtually impossible to do something like swap newer hardware into an existing notebook chassis.
What we are taking a look at today, however, defies all common knowledge of the PC world. Through the work of some intrepid modders, I am now the proud owner of a 2010-vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X201 with a modern, 8th generation quad-core mobile processor, NVMe SSD, and 32GB of DDR4 memory in it.
Introduction and Case Exterior
Corsair's new Crystal Series 280X RGB enclosure brings tempered glass and lighting effects down to the size of the company's previous micro-ATX Carbide Air 240 case (reviewed here back in 2014), creating a high-end take on this compact dual-chamber design. Beyond the stylish appearance an important question presents itself: can the Crystal 280X RGB offer sufficient airflow for good cooling with all of those glass panels? We will find out!
There is no more pervasive trend in the world of PC hardware than RGB lighting, and with the Crystal Series of enclosures Corsair adds the one component you will need to see as much of that colorful lighting as possible: glass, glass, and more glass. Yes, no fewer than three panels of the tinted, tempered glass variety adorn the 280X RGB, with the side, front, and top of the case covered - or, with the front and top, partially covered. About a third of the front is a solid panel, as is a third of the top, and this serves to help illustrate from the exterior that we are actually looking at a dual-chamber design.
Not so 'micro' ATX?
There are those who feel that an enclosure's internal volume must be low to qualify as "small form-factor", and that can certainly be argued; consider this design (like that of the Air 240), then, a compact take on the larger cube-like dual-chamber case that started with the Carbide Series Air 540 which we reviewed way back in 2013. As you will see, the ease with which a clean-looking build can be completed in such a case, and the ample storage and fan support, help mitigate the size. This case is wide for its height, though the rear chamber allows for the easy installation of a full-size ATX power supply, simultaneous installation of two standard hard drives and another three SSDs, and plenty of room for cable management.
Introduction and Features
Earlier this year we had our first look at one of EVGA’s new SuperNOVA G3 power supplies and we were impressed – great performance at an attractive price. Today we are taking another look at a G3 power supply to see if the test results will be consistent with our original findings. We’re guessing they will.
The Supernova G3 Series power supplies are based on EVGA’s popular G2 series and come packaged in a compact chassis at an affordable price. The G3 Series uses a 128mm cooling fan with a hydraulic dynamic bearing for quiet operation and EVGA claims the G3 units offer even better performance than the original G2 models. The Supernova G3 Series is available in five different models ranging from 550W up to 1000W.
• EVGA SuperNOVA 550W G3 ($99.99 USD)
• EVGA SuperNOVA 650W G3 ($109.99 USD)
• EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G3 ($129.99 USD)
• EVGA SuperNOVA 850W G3 ($149.99 USD)
• EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G3 ($199.99 USD)
The Supernova G3 series power supplies are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, and EVGA’s ECO Intelligent Thermal Control System which enables fan-less operation at low to mid power. All G3 series power supplies are NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire Ready and are backed by either a 7-year (550W and 650W) or 10-year (750W, 850W and 1000W) EVGA warranty.
EVGA SuperNOVA 650W G3 PSU Key Features:
• 650W Continuous DC output at up to 50°C
• 7-Year warranty with unparalleled EVGA Customer Support
• 80 PLUS Gold certified, with up to 90%/92% efficiency (115VAC/240VAC)
• Highest quality Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
• Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
• Quiet 128mm hydraulic dynamic bearing fan for long life
• ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
• NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire Ready
• Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
• Heavy-duty protections: OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, SCP, and OTP