Author:
Subject: Systems, Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple

What have we here?

The latest iteration of the Apple MacBook Pro has been a polarizing topic to both Mac and PC enthusiasts. Replacing the aging Retina MacBook Pro introduced in 2012, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar introduced late last year offered some radical design changes. After much debate (and a good Open Box deal), I decided to pick up one of these MacBooks to see if it could replace my 11" MacBook Air from 2013, which was certainly starting to show it's age.

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I'm sure that a lot of our readers, even if they aren't Mac users, are familiar with some of the major changes the Apple made with this new MacBook Pro. One of the biggest changes comes when you take a look at the available connectivity on the machine. Gone are the ports you might expect like USB type-A, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort. These ports have been replaced with 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a single 3.5mm headphone jack.

While it seems like USB-C (which is compatible with Thunderbolt 3) is eventually posed to take over the peripheral market, there are obvious issues with replacing all of the connectivity on a machine aimed at professionals with type-c connectors. Currently, type-c devices are few and are between, meaning you will have to rely on a series of dongles to connect the devices you already own. 

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I will say however, that it ultimately hasn't been that much of an issue for me so far in the limited time that I've owned this MacBook. In order to evaluate how bad the dongle issue was, I only purchased a single, simple adapter with my MacBook which provided me with a Type-A USB port and a pass-through Type-C port for charging.

Continue reading our look at using the MacBook Pro with Windows!

Spring component refresh on your mind?

Subject: Systems | May 12, 2017 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: system guide

2017 has been a good year for system guides as we finally have new hardware with a compelling reason to upgrade.  AMD now has new processors and the refreshed Polaris cards may tempt those who have a GPU several generations out of date.  NVIDIA released a graphics card which will tempt those who want the best and the SSD market continues to grow exponentially.

The Tech Report have updated their build recommendations for May and you can check out their new builds right here.  The recommendations span budgets from around $500 to $5000 so almost everyone is included.

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"AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs are shaking up the midrange CPU market, and we're here to help builders navigate this unfamiliar terrain with the latest edition of our System Guide. We also account for the introduction of AMD's Radeon RX 500-series graphics cards."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Naked pictures of the Corsair One Pro found on the interwebs

Subject: Systems | May 3, 2017 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: pro, prebuilt system, ONE, GTX 1080, force LE, Corsair Link, corsair, 7700k

You have already seen Ken's review of the Corsair One Pro, but there was something he didn't have the guts to do; rip it open and expose its innards.  The Tech Report were not that squeamish and risked cracking open the machine to see what the layout inside was.  The news is good and bad, the components are squeezed into an impressively small space and the layout is very effective at cooling in such a confined space.  However it is not easy to swap out components, the watercooling hoses are so short the case cannot be fully opened without disconnecting them and while you could add in an M.2 drive, you need to completely remove the GPU to get at it.  Drop by to take a look at the titillating pictures and see what The Tech Report thought of this compact gaming powerhouse.

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"Corsair's One Pro promises full-fat desktop performance from a system much smaller than most off-the-rack Mini-ITX PCs. We turned up the heat on the One Pro to see whether Corsair's liquid-cooling know-how can really shrink full-size desktop performance into a 13-liter package."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Overview

Despite its surprise launch a few weeks ago, the Corsair ONE feels like it was inevitable. Corsair's steady expansion from RAM modules to power supplies, cases, SSDs, CPU coolers, co-branded video cards, and most recently barebones systems pointed to an eventual complete Corsair system. However, what we did not expect was the form it would take.

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Did Corsair hit it out of the park on their first foray into prebuilt systems, or do they still have some work to do?

It's a bit difficult to get an idea of the scale of the Corsair ONE. Even the joke of "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" doesn't quite work here with the impressively breadbox-size and shape.

Essentially, when you don't take the fins on the top and the bottom into account, the Corsair ONE is as tall as a full-size graphics card — such as the GeForce GTX 1080 — and that's no coincidence. 

Corsair ONE Pro (configuration as reviewed)
Processor Intel Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake)
Graphics NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 Watercooled
Memory 16GB DDR4-2400
Motherboard Custom MSI Z270 Mini-ITX
Storage 960 GB Corsair Force LE
Power Supply Corsair SF400 80+ Gold SFX
Wireless Intel 8265 802.11ac + BT 4.2 (Dual Band, 2x2)
Connections 1 X USB 3.1 GEN2 TYPE C 
3 X USB 3.1 GEN1 TYPE A 
2 X USB 2.0 TYPE A
1 X PS/2 Port
1 X HDMI 2.0 
2 X DisplayPort 
1 X S/PDIF
Dimensions 7.87 x 6.93 x 14.96 inches (20 x 17.6 x 38 cm)
15.87 lbs. (7.2 kg)
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $2299.99 - Corsair.com

Taking a look at the full specifcations, we see all the components for a capable gaming PC. In addition to the afforementioned GTX 1080, you'll find Intel's flagship Core i7-7700K, a Mini ITX Z270 motherboard produced by MSI, a 960GB SSD, and 16GB of DDR4 memory.

Click here to continue reading our review of the Corsair ONE Pro Gaming PC!

ASUS Launches the Tinker Board in North America

Subject: Systems | April 19, 2017 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: tinker board, iot, asus

The ASUS Tinker Board is a full system in a tiny form factor, similar to Raspberry Pi or Arduino's products to name a few competitors in the now busy market.  At its heart is the Rockchip RK3288, four ARM Cortex-A17 CPU cores running at 1.8GHz with a Mali-T764 GPU at 600MHz.  They are available now for slightly more than the announced $54.99 and will run a Debian based OS called ASUS TinkerOS.

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Inside are an array of options for add-ins, including a 40-pin GPIO header, a 15-pin MIPI DSI and a15-pin MIPI CSI as well as a2-pin contact point for PWM or S/PDIF signals.  Externally you will have four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack to give you flexibility in how you utilize your Tinker Board.  For connectivity there is a wired NIC as well as 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.  You can read the full PR below.

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Fremont, CA (April 19, 2017) -- ASUS, maker of the world’s best-selling, most award-winning motherboards, is excited to launch the ASUS Tinker Board in North America today. Imagine the freedom to make your ideas come alive, the ability to invent an IoT device for a connected home or just having fun creating an entertainment hub for the family or powering your DIY robot project at school. With Tinker Board, the possibilities to create personalized devices are endless. Tinker Board is a single-board computer (SBC), which makes it the ideal foundation for makers, hobbyists, educators, and electronic DIY enthusiasts to develop and build low-cost, great-performing computers.

Features & Functionality
ASUS Tinker Board offers class-leading performance, robust multimedia support, IoT connectivity, and enhanced DIY design and compatibility with a wide range of leading SBC chassis and accessories. The result is a near credit card sized computer that offers people the freedom to tinker and apply their ingenuity to create platforms for a wide variety of uses.

Key features of Tinker Board include:

  • CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 SoC quad-core processor
  • GPU: Mali-T764 GPU Video:
  • HD/UHD video playback support – including H.264/H.265 decoding Audio: 192kHz/24-bit audio support
  • Memory: 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3
  • Storage: Micro SD(TF) slot features SD 3.0 support
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth° 4.0 + EDR and on-board 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Networking: 1Gb Ethernet
  • Ports: (4) USB2.0 ports, (1) HDMI 1.4 out port, (1) 3.5mm audio jack
  • I/O Ports: (1) 40-pin GPIO interface header, (1) 15-pin MIPI DSI, (1) 15-pin MIPI CSI, (1) 2-pin contact point for PWM and S/PDIF signals
  • Power: Suggested 5V/2A AC adaptor via the micro-USB port (power adaptor not included)
  • OS: (Debian-based Linux) & Android Support
  • Dimensions/Weight: 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm, 45g without included heatsink
Source: ASUS

Lenovo Announces the Flex 11 Chromebook

Subject: Systems, Mobile | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: notebook, Lenovo, laptop, Flex 11, convertible, Chromebook, 2-in-1

Lenovo’s Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 convertible notebook design powered by a 2.1 GHz quad-core ARM processor and running Google’s Chrome OS. It features an 11.6-inch IPS multi-touch HD display, up to 10-hour battery life, and a weight under 3 lbs.

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"Packing the fun of a tablet with the power punch of a PC, and designed with Android apps in mind, the Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 laptop optimized for entertainment and productivity. Its 360° hinge and 11.6" multi-touch display gives users the flexibility to shift between four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) for any combination of work and play activities."

Lenovo says the Flex 11's hardware is designed to be rugged, with drop and liquid spill resistance including a water-resistant keyboard (up to 1 cup) with “channels beneath the keyboard to drain liquid, keeping it away from sensitive electrical components”. In addition to Chrome apps the Flex 11 will support the Google Play store (Lenovo says this is "coming soon").

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I/O includes USB 3.0, USB Type-C, HDMI, a mic/audio jack, and an SD card slot. As to pricing/availability, the Flex 11 Chromebook starts at $279 and will be available this month.

Source: Lenovo

Spring has sprung, the system guide is riz

Subject: Systems | April 13, 2017 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: system guide

Sebastian posted a systems guide to inspire you this spring and the HWLB is slowly getting a refresh but we are not the only ones who are twitterpated.  The Tech Report also published a brand new System Guide, timed to include Ryzen in their picks.  As is their habit, they've broken the recommendations int Budget, Sweet Spot and High end systems, with a couple of bonus system builds at the end of the article.  Get some great ideas for your next system right here.

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"AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card have arrived, and that means it's time for a new edition of The Tech Report's System Guide. Join us as we explore how to build the best PCs with these shiny new components."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Never mind the Bulldog! Here's the One from Corsair

Subject: Systems | March 23, 2017 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: corsair, CORSAIR ONE, CORSAIR ONE PRO, core i7 7700k

Today Corsair announce a family of new pre-built systems, the Corsair One series.  Two of the systems will be available for purchase at your favourite retailers and two will be exclusive to Corsair's web store. 

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All models have aluminium cases and an an integrated liquid-cooling system for both the i7-7700k as well as the GPU, be it a GTX 1070, 1080 or 1080Ti.  All systems are built on a custom MSI Z270 Mini-ITX motherboard, a Corsair FORCE LE SSD with a HDD for extra storage, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-2400 and an 80 PLUS GOLD rated SFX PSU.

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They will hit stores later this March and will come with a two year warranty which includes dedicated technical support, 24 Hour Phone support and an included suite of self-diagnostic tools.  You can read the full PR below the fold.

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Source: Corsair

Eurocom's Sky X9E3 Is a Fully Upgradable Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom

Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.

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"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."

One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.

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What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:

  • Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
  • Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
  • Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
  • VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
  • Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
  • Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
  • Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
  • Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
  • Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
  • Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
  • Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
  • Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch

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Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.

Source: Eurocom

EVGA Announces SC17 1070 4K G-SYNC Laptop

Subject: Systems | March 17, 2017 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: evga, g-sync, gtx 1070, laptop

The updated EVGA SC17 laptop, announced on Thursday, is headlined by a 17.3-inch, 4K, IPS panel with NVIDIA G-SYNC. The panel will have a 60 Hz refresh rate, so, while games will be able to cleanly dip below the 60 FPS threshold via G-SYNC, you will not have the smooth mouse movement in productivity applications like you would on a 100+ FPS monitor. Speaking of productivity, the color gamut (coverage of sRGB and Adobe RGB) is also unlisted.

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But, for our many readers that are interested in performance, EVGA has made this beefy.

Again, this is a 17.3-inch laptop, so don’t expect it to be ultra-portable by today’s standards. Weighing in at about 9 lbs, this desktop replacement is based around an unlocked Intel Core i7-6820HK processor with an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card. While the CPU is a little over a year old, based on Skylake, it has four cores (eight threads) that can boost up to 3.6 GHz. Being that I’m running a Core i7-4790k on my production machine, this level of performance is pretty good. It even contains 32 GB of RAM.

If you're a multi-monitor type of person, it also has three display outputs: 1x HDMI 2.0b and 2x Mini DisplayPort (unclear which version level).

The EVGA SC17 1070 with NVIDIA G-SYNC is available now for $2799.99, although there’s currently a $250-off instant rebate (~$2550 USD).

Source: EVGA