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2015 seems to have been a turning point for Microsoft's Surface hardware initiative. Despite the failure of Windows RT and the associated Surface RT, the Intel-powered Surface was beginning to gain some real traction and notoriety with the Surface Pro 3 in late 2014, but was still fairly niche.
In October of 2015, Microsoft signaled that they were taking this fledgling Surface thing seriously with the announcement of their second Surface device, the Surface Book. Fitting into a more traditional notebook-style form factor rather than the Surface's approach to the idea of a 2-in-1 design, the Surface Book introduced several radical design elements, both to Microsoft and the entire PC ecosystem at large.
The unique "dynamic fulcrum" hinge design, true detachable discrete graphics on a 2-in-1 device, and almost 10-hour battery life made the Surface Book stand out in the PC market.
But the original Surface Book wasn't without its faults. Hardware reliability became an issue as early adopters started to use these computers for extended amounts of time, and the lackluster of the available GPU option in the Surface Base mitigated some of the intended utility of the Surface Book Ecosystem.
However, this didn't stop Microsoft from announcing a follow-up in Late 2017, the Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 2 aimed to address some of the hardware issues with the first generation while providing a more powerful unit and introducing a new 15" display option.
On my continued search for a new personal notebook, I decided to purchase a Surface Book 2 13.5" unit for evaluation.
2018: A banner year
Intel has a long history of generating tremendous amounts of revenue and income. This latest quarter is no exception. Intel has announced record Q1 revenues for this year and they look to continue that trend throughout 2018. AMD released their very positive results yesterday, but their finances are dwarfed by what Intel has brought to market. The company had revenue of $16.1 billion with a net income of $4.5 billion. Compare this to AMD’s $1.625B revenue and $81M net income we see that the massive gulf between these two companies will not be bridged anytime soon with either Intel falling or AMD gaining.
Intel has put its money to good use with a wide variety of products that stretch between the PC market and datacenters. While their low power and ultra-mobile strategies have been scaled back and cancelled in some cases, their core markets are unaffected and they continue to make money hand over fist. The company has always been fundamentally sound in terms of finances and they do not typically spend money recklessly. They continue to feature market leading IPC with their product lines and can address multiple markets with the x86 products they have.
The Creative Craft
The Logitech Craft is an object lesson in not judging a book by its cover. By all appearances, it’s seems to be a standard chiclet keyboard with a volume wheel. Nothing impressive, though, sure, it looks sleek. For those willing to look just as little bit closer, you’ll find one of the most versatile keyboards on the market today. That “volume wheel” is more than meets the eye and has the potential to provide a more efficient workflow for creatives and business professionals alike.
Specifications and Design
- MSRP: $199.99 (Amazon.com)
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 32 mm x 430 mm x 149 mm
- Connectivity: Logitech Unifying 2.4GHz wireless technology, USB 2.0, Bluetooth Low Energy technology
- Program Compatibility:
- Microsoft Word®, Microsoft PowerPoint®, Microsoft Excel® 2010, 2013 and 2016 - Windows only
- Adobe® Photoshop® CC, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® Classic CC, Adobe® Illustrator®CC, Adobe® Premiere® Pro CC 2017 and above – Windows and Mac, Adobe Reader DC
- VLC Media Player - Windows
- Preview, Quicktime, Safari® - Mac
- Spotify™ - Windows and Mac
- Additional Features:
- 10m wireless range
- Wireless encryption
- On/Off power switch
- 3 connection indicator lights
- Caps lock indicator light
- Battery indicator light
- Rechargeable with USB type C
- Compatible with Logitech Flow enabled mice
- Weight: 960g
- Warranty: 1-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Beginning with packaging, the Craft ships in a nice black box with a nice render of the keyboard on the front. It’s simple and elegant, matching the keyboard itself. Inside you’ll find the keyboard is wrapped in an adhesive dust-protective film. Underneath, we have the USB Type-C cable, 2.4GHz wireless USB insert, and our documentation.
Taking it out of the box, we find what appears to be a standard 104-key chiclet keyboard with a large metal bar on the top. The Craft is slightly more compact than a traditional keyboard coming in at just under 17-inches wide. The keyboard is thin but surprisingly heavy with a solid 2.1 pounds to keep it stationary on your desk. Much of this seems due to the bar on the top; however, the chassis is also fairly rigid and angled to diminish any flex in normal use.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
We have been overdue for a Samsung NVMe SSD refresh, and with the launch of their 860 PRO and EVO back in January, folks have been itching for the 970's to come out. The 950 and 960 (PRO) lines were separated by about a year, but we are going on 18 months since the most recent 960 EVO launch. Samsung could afford to wait a bit longer since the 960 line already offered outstanding performance that remained unmatched at the top of our performance charts for a very long time. Recently, drives like the WD Black have started catching up, so it is naturally time for Samsung to keep the competition on their toes:
Today we will look at most of the Samsung 970 PRO and EVO lineup. We have a bit of a capacity spread for the EVO, and a single PRO. Samples are hard to come by so far since Samsung opted to launch both lines at the same time, but we tried to get the more common capacities represented. EVO 2TB and PRO 1TB data will have to come at a later date.
Specs come in at just slightly higher than the 960 lines, with some welcome additions like OPAL and encrypted drive (IEEE1667) support, the latter being suggested but never making it into the 960 products. Another welcome addition is that the 970 EVO now carries a 5-year warranty (up from 3).
The 970 EVO includes 'Intelligent TurboWrite', which was introduced with the 960 line. This setup maintains a static SLC area and an additional 'Intelligent' cache that exists if sufficient free space is available in the TLC area.
Packaging is in line with the previous 960 series parts. Nice packaging. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Introduction and Features
The latest Hydro PTM power supply lineup sits right in the middle of FSP’s top-tier Premium Series and currently includes three models: 750W, 650W, and 550W. FSP Group Inc. has been designing and building PC power supplies under their own brand since 2003 and they are the OEM for many other big name brands. The three standard Hydro PTM power supplies are not water-cooled as the Hydro name might imply, but the FSP Hydro PTM+ 1200W PSU is. We will be taking a detailed look at the PTM 650W Platinum model in this review.
FSP designed the Hydro PTM Series to operate cool and quiet thanks to Platinum level efficiency and a high-quality 135mm FDB (Fluid Dynamic Bearing) fan. The units feature all modular cables and are designed to deliver tight voltage regulation with excellent AC ripple and noise suppression. All Hydro PTM Series power supplies incorporate high-grade components like all Japanese made electrolytic capacitors and come with changeable side stickers (Blue, Red, or Green) and they are backed by a 10-year warranty!
FSP Hydro PTM Series PSU Key Features:
• 550W, 650W or 750W continuous DC output @ 50°C
• High efficiency, 80 PLUS Platinum certified =92%
• Complies with newest ATX12V v2.4 & EPS12 v2.92 standards
• 100% Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
• Quiet 135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing fan
• Powerful single +12V rail design
• Fully modular with flat ribbon-style cables
• Multiple 6+2 pin PCI-E connectors and VR ready
• Protections: OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, SCP and OTP
• 10-Year Manufacturer’s warranty
• MSRP: $124.99 USD
Here is what FSP has to say about the Hydro PTM 650W PSU:
“FSP’s Hydro PTM power supply series features 80 Plus Platinum rated efficiency and are fully modular. They are an excellent choice for high-performance PCs, thanks to the fluid dynamic bearing (FDB) fan and Japanese electrolytic capacitors. These highly reliable power supplies are perfect for gaming enthusiasts and overclockers.”
The Premiere Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Corsair has long been the company to beat in the world of RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. With the K95 RGB Platinum, they present their flagship: an oversize, fully-programmable, light show of a board with the kind of rapid response competitive gamers crave. But for $199, it’s a steep asking price. Is it worth such a high MSRP? Let’s find out.
Specifications and Design
- MSRP: $199.99 ($172.99 on Amazon at time of writing)
- Key Switches: Cherry MX RGB Speed (also available in Cherry MX Brown)
- Actuation Force: 45g
- Actuation Distance: 1.2mm (standard 2.0mm)
- Travel Distance: 3.4mm (standard 4.0mm)
- Lifespan: 50M
- Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
- Macro Keys: 6 dedicated G-keys
- Report Rate: Up to 1ms
- Matrix: 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
- On-board Memory: Yes
- Media Keys: Six dedicated multimedia keys, incl. Volume Up/Down roller
- Wrist Rest: Full length, detachable, dual-sided with soft touch finish
- Cable Type: Braided Fiber
- Dimensions: 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
- Weight: 1.324kg
- Warranty: Two years
The K95 RGB Platinum comes in nice packaging in the standard Corsair black and yellow. We have a nice profile shot of the keyboard on the front and the features highlighted on the back. It’s also one of the few cases where the marketing shots really undersell the keyboard. It looks much better in person, especially in low light.
Inside, the keyboard comes in a dust-preventative plastic sleeve with the wrist rest, ten replacement keycaps (QWER, ASDF, WD), and keycap puller under the keyboard itself.
Taking a closer look at the keyboard, the first thing that stands out is just how refined it is compared to the previous K95s or popular K70 variants. Compared to the K68 we looked at previously, the K95 is a massive upgrade, featuring a full aluminum top plate, aluminum volume roller, a glossy illuminated Corsair sails logo, and a dedicated control area for profile switching, brightness control, and Windows Lock. It also features a gorgeous LED light bar along the top rim, a USB 3.0 pass-through, and six programmable macro keys along the left side.
A Year Later
Despite what might be considered an overall slump in enthusiast PC building due to record low GPU availability and sky-high memory prices, 2017 was one of the most exciting and competitive years in recent history when it comes to CPU innovation. On the desktop side alone, we saw the launch of AMD's new Zen CPU architecture with the Ryzen 1000 series of parts starting last March; we also saw new HEDT platforms from both Intel and AMD, and Intel's first 6-core mainstream CPUs.
Although the timeline doesn't quite work out for Ryzen to have affected the engineering-side of Intel's decision to release a 6-core desktop processor, it's evident AMD's pressure changed Intel's pricing and release schedule.
With little desktop competition, it's likely that the i7-8700K would have been a more expensive part, and released later. It's likely that Coffee Lake would have seen a full stack product launch in early 2018, as opposed to the staggered launch we experienced where only one compatible chipset and a subset of CPUs were available for months.
AMD and Ryzen have put significant pressure on Intel to remain competitive, which is good for the industry as a whole.
We're now at just over a year since AMD's first Ryzen processor releases, and looking at the first appearance of the codename Pinnacle Ridge CPUs. Launching today are the Ryzen 7 2700X and 2700, and the Ryzen 5 2600x and 2600 processors. Can AMD keep moving the needle forward in the CPU space? Let's take a look.
NVMe RAID and StoreMI
With Ken testing all of the new AMD X470 goodness that we had floating around the office here at PCPer, I snuck in some quick storage testing to get a look at just how the new platform handled a typical power user NVMe RAID configuration. We will be testing a few different platform configurations:
- ASUS Z270 w/ 7700K
- 1x SSD behind chipset (PCH)
- 2x SSD (RAID-0) behind chipset (PCH)
- 1x SSD directly connected to CPU
- AMD X470 w/ 2600X
- 1x SSD via RAIDXpert bottom driver
- 2x SSD (RAID-0) via RAIDXpert
- 1x SSD via MS InBox NVMe driver
For the AMD system we tested, all M.2 ports were direct connected to the CPU. This should be the case for most systems since the AMD chipset has only a PCIe 2.0 x4 link which would cut most NVMe SSD bandwidth in half if passed through it. The difference on AMD is that installing the RAIDXpert software also installs a 'bottom driver' which replaces the Windows NVMe driver, while Intel's RST platform handles this process more in the chipset hardware (but is limited to PCIe 3.0 x4 DMI bandwidth). Now onto the results:
Random Read IOPS
For random IO, we see expected scaling from AMD, but do note that IOPS comes in ~40% lower than the same configuration on Intel's platform. This is critical as much of the IO seen in general use is random reads at lower queue depths. We'd like to see AMD doing better here, especially in the case where a single SSD was operating without the interference of the RAIDXpert driver, which was better, but still not able to match Intel.
Random Read Latency
This latency chart should better explain the IOPS performance seen above. Note that the across the board latency increases by ~10us on the X470 platform, followed by another ~20us when switching to the RAIDXpert driver. That combined ~30us is 50% of the 60us QD1 latency seen the Z270 platform (regardless of configuration).
Ok, now we see the AMD platform stretch its legs a bit. Since Intel NVMe RAID is bottlenecked by its DMI link while AMD has all NVMe SSDs directly connected to the CPU, AMD is able to trounce Intel on sequentials, but there is a catch. Note the solid red line, which means no RAIDXpert software. That line tracks as it should, leveling off horizontally at a maximum for that SSD. Now look at the two dashed red lines and note how they fall off at ~QD8/16. It appears the RAIDXpert driver is interfering and limiting the ultimate throughput possible. This was even the case for a single SSD passing through the RAIDXpert bottom driver (configured as a JBOD volume).
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.
AMD claims the typical speedups that one would expect with an SSD caching a much slower HDD. We have done some testing with StoreMI and can confirm the above slide's claims. Actively used applications and games end up running at close to SSD speeds (after the first execution, which comes from the HDD). StoreMI is not yet in a final state, but that is expected within the next week or two. We will revisit that topic with hard data once we have the final shipping product on-hand.
Not Just a Better Camera
Samsung’s updated Galaxy phones are available now, and while the external designs - while beautiful - look the same as last year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature faster internals and an improved camera system. Is it worth an upgrade over the Galaxy S8? How does this new flagship from Samsung compare to Apple’s more expensive iPhone X? Read on to find out!
During the Galaxy S9 at Samsung’s “Unpacked” event unveiling the new phones, much was made about the GS9’s camera - and particularly its video recording capability, which features an ultra slow-motion mode. While camera is a vital part of the experience, and can make or break a handset for many people, it is the application processor that constitutes a bigger upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S8 phones.
In the USA, Samsung is using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845, while many of the international versions of the phone use Samsung’s own Exynos SoC. We took an early look at performance with the Snapdragon 845 during Qualcomm’s recent media day, and now with shipping hardware and far more time for benchmarking we can really put this new mobile platform to the test. You can take or leave synthetic benchmark results, of course; I can offer my own subjective impressions of overall responsiveness, which is as much a test of software optimization as hardware.
|Samsung Galaxy S9+ Specifications (US Version)|
|Display||6.2-inch 1440x2960 AMOLED|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (SDM845)|
|CPU Cores||8x Kryo 385 up to 2.8 GHz|
|GPU Cores||Adreno 630|
|RAM||6 GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64 / 128 / 256 GB|
|Network||Snapdragon X20 LTE|
Bluetooth 5.0; A2DP, aptX
USB 3.1 (Type-C)
|Battery||3500 mAh Li-Ion|
|Dimensions||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 189 g|
Samsung has opted to bring back the same industrial design introduced with last year’s Galaxy S8/S8+, but this was already a class-leading design so that is not a bad thing.
Despite the recent launch of the high-powered Hades Canyon NUC, that doesn't mean the traditional NUC form-factor is dead, quite the opposite in fact. Intel continues to iterate on the core 4-in x 4-in NUC design, adding new features and updating to current Intel processor families.
Today, we are taking a look at one of the newest iterations of desktop NUC, the NUC7i7DNHE, also known as the Dawson Canyon platform.
While this specific NUC is segmented more towards business and industrial applications, we think it has a few tricks up its sleeves that end users will appreciate.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8650U (Kaby Lake Refresh)|
|Graphics||Intel UHD 630 Integrated|
|Memory||2 X DDR4 SODIMM slots|
Available M.2 SATA/PCIe drive slot
Available 2.5" drive slot
|Wireless||Intel Wireless-AC 8265 vPro|
2 x HDMI 2.0a
4 x USB 3.0
|Price||$595 - SimplyNUC|
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ECS
The ECS Z370 Lightsaber motherboard is the latest offering in ECS' L337 product line, offering support for the Intel Z370 chipset. Similar to previous iterations of the Lightsaber board, the Z370-Lightsaber builds on the those board by adding dual-m.2 slot support, enhanced power support, as well as support for the latest Intel Coffee Lake-based processors. With an MSRP of $199, ECS priced the Z370 Lightsaber to be price-competitive with other mid-tier Z370-based offerings.
Courtesy of ECS
ECS designed the Z370 Lightsaber with a 14-phase digital power delivery system, using high efficiency chokes and MOSFETs, as well as solid core capacitors for optimal board performance. The following features into the Z370 Lightsaber board: six SATA 3 ports; two PCIe X2 M.2 ports; a Rivet Networks Killer E2500 GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a 3-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, Quick overclock, BIOS set, BIOS update, BIOS backup, and Clear CMOS buttons; a dual BIOS switch; Realtek audio solution; integrated DVI and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Gen2 port support.
Courtesy of ECS
For the integrated audio solution, ECS used a Realtek chipset on a separate PCB to minimize audio crosstalk and interference. The also include a removable audio amplifier chipset and high-end Nichicon audio capacitors for a superior audio experience.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
A while back, we reviewed the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB998SP-B and MB993SK-B hot-swap SATA docks. These were well built, high-density docks meant for 7mm height SSDs and HDDs. The former part was unique in that it let you squeeze eight drives in a single 5.25” drive bay, all while enabling you to hot swap all of them at the front panel. The ToughArmor line has been pushing into higher and higher bay counts, so it only made sense that we eventually saw something higher than an 8-bay unit:
Enter the ToughArmor MB516SP-B. While it looks like two MB998SP-B’s stacked on top of each other, there is more than meets the eye in order to pull this trick off properly. We'll focus on that further into the review, but for now, let us get through the specs.
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.
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!
- 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!
- Azulle Byte3 Mini PC (N3450/4GB/32GB/Win 10 Pro): $199.99 - Amazon.com
We'll start with a quick look inside the box:
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.
Takes a lickin' and keeps on clickin'
Over the years, Corsair has developed a name for itself as one of the premiere manufacturers of mechanical gaming keyboards in the market. One could argue that their K70 series is the leading inspiration for gaming keyboard design to today. Their dominance isn’t just limited to physical design, however. RGB illumination and powerful software programming have also defined their keyboards and set them apart from the competition.
Today, we’re looking at a newer entry in the mechanical keys catalog with the K68 RGB. The K68 is more of a budget-entry, but still packs a suite of premium features to please gaming fans. It’s also water and dust resistant with an IP32 rating. We put that to the test. Without further ado, let’s take a close look.
Specifications and Design
- MSRP: $119.99
- Keyboard Size: Standard
- Key Switches: Cherry MX Red
- Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
- Switch Lifespan: 50-million actuations
- Report Rate: 1000Hz
- Matrix: Full Key (NKRO), 100% anti-ghosting
- Water/Dust Resistance: IP32
- Media Keys: Dedicated
- Wrist Rest: Yes
- Cable Type: Tangle-free rubber
- WIN Lock: Yes
- Software: CUE Enabled
- Dimensions: 455mm x 170mm x 39mm
- Weight: 1.41kg
- Warranty: Two years
The K68 arrives in standard Corsair keyboard packaging. The box is rich with feature-highlights and definitely plays up the RGB illumination. This is 2018 and a Corsair product, so that should come as no surprise.
Everything is well packed inside the box. The keyboard ships with the usual plastic dust-sleeves on both the keyboard, cable, and plastic wrist-rest. We also get a pair of small documentation inserts that describe the warranty and unlabeled hotkeys.
Taking it out of the box, it’s here we get the first indicators of how Corsair managed to cut $50 off the price of the K70 RGB. The cable, rather than coming braided, is standard rubber. Likewise, the included wrist-rest is a more lightweight plastic, felt especially in the more flexible arms attaching it to the keyboard’s body. Neither of these are bad, especially when many gaming keyboards don’t include a wrist-rest at all.
Introduction and Features
Enermax is an established player in the PC peripherals market with a full line of power supplies for enthusiasts, gamers and professionals alike. The Platimax DF Series currently includes five models: 1200W, 1050W, 850W, 600W and 500W. They all feature Platinum level efficiency and come housed in a relatively compact chassis, measuring only 160mm deep. The Platimax DF Series includes Enermax’s latest D.F. (Dust Free Rotation™) fan technology, which works by briefly spinning the fan in the opposite direction to keep dust from building up on the fan blades.
All of the Platimax DF Series power supplies incorporate fully modular cables and feature Japanese made 105°C electrolytic capacitors, a 140mm Twister-bearing fan with semi-fanless operation and they come backed by either a 10-year (1200W, 1050W, and 850W) or 5-year (600W and 500W) warranty. We will be taking a detailed look at the Platimax DF 850W power supply in this review.
Enermax Platimax DF 850W PSU Key Features:
• 850W Continuous DC output at up to 50°C
• 80 PLUS® Platinum certified for high efficiency
• Enermax patented Dust Free Rotation™ fan technology
• Multi GPU support with six PCI-E 6+2 pin connectors
• Fully-modular cables
• Dedicated quad +12V rails (70A/840W combined)
• 140mm Twister-bearing fan (160,000 MTBF)
• Semi-fanless operation (below 30-40% load)
• Japanese made electrolytic capacitors 105°C
• Active Power Factor correction with Universal AC input (100 to 240 VAC)
• Safety protections: OCP, OVP, UVP, OPP, SCP, OTP, and SIP
• Zero Load Operation ready
• 2013 ErP Lot 6 ready
• 10-Year warranty
• MSRP: $249.99 USD
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
While Western Digital has a huge history with spinning disks, their experience with SSDs has been touch and go. They expanded further into the HDD arena with their very long merging process with HGST, but they have only really dabbled in the solid-state arena. Their earliest attempt was with the Black2 back in 2013, which was a novel concept that never really caught mainstream fame. WD acquired SanDisk a few years back, but they were better known for SD cards and OEM SATA SSDs. More recently we began seeing WD test the waters with PCIe / NVMe parts, with a WD Black and Blue launching at CES 2017. Those were 'ok', but were more of a budget SSD than a powerhouse class-leading product worthy of the Black moniker. Today we see WD take another stab at a WD Black NVMe SSD:
Enter the WD Black NVMe and SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D 1TB SSDs. Yes, I know the names are a mouthful, but I would be more worried about the potential for confusion when looking for a WD Black SSD on the market (as there are now two *very* similarly named products). Technically the new part is the 'Western Digital WD Black NVMe SSD'. Yes I know don't tell me - they said Western Digital twice.
We will also be reviewing the SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD today. I'm including those results as well, but just as they did with their previous SATA SSD release, these are identical parts with different packaging and labeling. The specs are the same. Heck, the firmware is the same minus the bits that report the device name to the host. For the sake of simplicity, and the fact that the WD part is meant for retail/gamers (SanDisk for creative pros and OEMs), I'll stick with referring mostly to the WD side throughout this review.
Strong specs here. Fast sequentials, but random IOPS is rated at QD32 across 8 threads (QD=256), which is, well, just silly. I know WD is doing this because 'everyone is doing it', and they have to compete, but I have a feeling we will also be seeing very good low QD performance today.
It doesn't get much more no frills than this.
The tides are turning. Over the last few years, the technology industry sung with praises and predictions on virtual reality. The past year, however, tides have begun to shift. While VR remains prohibitively expensive and still wanting in the kind of experiences gamers crave, Augmented Reality is becoming the head-mounted hope for mainstream saturation.
Today, we’re taking a look at one of the first major consumer AR products with Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. The set marries exciting technology with exciting IP, but is it enough to justify the $199 MSRP?
MSRP: $199.99 ($169.99 on Amazon as of this writing)
- Dimensions: 315.5mm x 47.2mm
- Weight: 275g
- Buttons: Power, Activation Matrix, Control Button
- Battery: Micro-USB Rechargable
Lenovo Mirage AR Headset
- Dimensions: 209.2mm x 83.4mm x 154.8mm
- Weight: 477g
- Buttons: Select, Cancel, Menu
- Camera: Dual motion tracking cameras
- Battery: Micro-USB Rechargable
- Dimensions: 94.1mm x 76.7mm
- Weight: 117g
- Buttons: Power/color switch
- AA batteries (x2) required
- Connection: Bluetooth connection to phone
- Languages: English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish
The set comes in a large box that doubles as a storage container when the headset and isn’t in use. Everything is nicely packaged, but especially the lightsaber which rests in a nice foam cut-out just under the top half of the box. The unboxing experience is befittingly premium for a product such as this.
The attention to detail on the lightsaber is impressive. It’s a loving recreation of Luke’s lightsaber from A New Hope. The top illuminates white or blue to indicate when it’s paired with your phone. In-game, pressing the side buttons causes the blade to rise up with the iconic sound effect; if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s beyond neat.
Introduction and Motherboard Layout
For the launch of the Intel H370 chipset motherboards, GIGABYTE chose their AORUS brand to lead the charge. The AORUS branding differentiates the enthusiast and gamer friendly products from other GIGABYTE product lines, similar to how ASUS uses the ROG branding to differentiate their high performance product line. The H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI is among GIGABYTE's intial release boards offering support for the latest Intel consumer chipset and processor lines. Built around the Intel H370 chlipset, the board supports the Intel LGA1151 Coffee Lake processor line and Dual Channel DDR4 memory running at up to 2667MHz speeds. The H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI can be found in retail with an MRSP of $139.99.
The HS370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI motherboard features a black PCB with black and chrome colored heat sinks covering all the necessary board components. The AORUS series logos are emblazoned on the chipset heat sink and the rear panel cover. Further, a large rendering of the logo is silk-screened in the upper left quadrant of the board. The ATX form factor provides more than enough surface area to house the integrated features, as well as giving the board compatibility with most available consumer enclosures.
The board's back is completely free of components, posing no problems with case mounting or mounting the CPU backplate.
GIGABYTE designed the H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI motherboard with a 10-phase digital power system in an 8+2 configuration. The CPU VRMs are passively cooled by dual aluminum heat sinks above and to the upper right of the CPU socket.
Introduction and Case Exterior
The Meshify C - TG from Fractal Design is a high-airflow ATX case design with some added style from its unique angled front panel. Throw in a tempered glass side panel and a pair of pre-installed Dynamic X2 GP-12 120 mm fans and the $89.99 price tag looks pretty good - but how did it perform? We'll find out.
Having reviewed a few Fractal Design cases in the past three years I have come to expect a few things from their enclosures: solid construction, intelligent internal layouts, and excellent cable management. As to style, their cases are generally understated, and the Meshify's black color scheme with a tinted glass side certainly fits the bill - though the angled front mesh design catches the light and does add some visual interest.
More than a single enclosure, Meshify is now a dedicated line from Fractal Design, with a new Meshify C Mini for mATX/mITX motherboards, as well as variants of this Meshify C including a model with a solid side panel (the standard Meshify C) and one with dark-tinted glass (Meshify C - Dark TG). Regardless of which model you might be considering, they share a common design focused on high airflow (with a full compliment of filters), flexible storage options, and maximizing component space within their compact dimensions.
OK, call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first) but this is something I’ve wanted to try for years, and I bet I’m not the only one. Each time a new power supply comes across the lab bench with ever increasing output capacities, I find myself thinking, “I could weld with this beast.” Well the AX1600i pushed me over the edge and I decided to give it a go; what could possibly go wrong?
133.3 Amps on the +12V outputs!
The Corsair AX1600i Digital power supply can deliver up to 133 Amps on the combined +12V rails, more than enough amperage for welding. There are dozens of PC power supplies on the market today that can deliver 100 Amps or more on the +12V output, but the AX1600i has another feature that might help make this project a success, the ability to manually set current limits on the +12V outputs. Thanks to the fact that the AX1600i is a digital power supply that allows manually setting the current limits on the +12V outputs via the Corsair Link data acquisition and control software, I might be able to add the ability to select a desired amperage to weld with. Yes!
Just because the AX1600i “can” deliver 133A doesn’t mean I want that much current available for welding. I typically only use that much power when I’m welding heavy steel pieces using ¼” rod. For this experiment I would like to be able to start out at a lot lower amperage, and I’m hoping the Corsair Link software will provide that ability.
Stick Welding with a PC Power Supply!
My first thought was to try to adapt a TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welder for use with the AX1600i. I figured using a TIG torch (Tungsten electrode shrouded with Argon gas instead of a flux coated rod) might give better control especially at the lower voltage and currents where I plan to start testing. TIG welders are commonly used to weld small stainless steel parts and sheet metal. But then I remembered the TIG welder power supply has a high voltage pulse built-in to initiate the plasma arc. Without that extra kick-start, it might be difficult to strike an arc without damaging the fine pointed tip of the Tungsten electrode. So I decided to just go with a conventional stick welding setup. The fact that PC power supplies put out DC voltage will be an advantage over the more common AC buzz-box arc welders for better stability and producing higher quality welds.
Obviously, trying to convert a PC power supply into an arc welding power supply will require a few modifications. Here is a quick list of the main challenges I think we will have to overcome.
• Higher capacity fan for better cooling
• Terminate all the PSU’s +12V cables into welding leads
• Disable the Short Circuit protection feature
• Implement selecting the desired current output
• Strike and maintain a stable arc with only 12 volts