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Preview: OCIA New Content

OCIA New Content

Bring you the latest tech news


GeIL 2x8GB evo FORZA DDR4-3000
GeIL, or Golden Emperor International Ltd., based out of Taipei, Taiwan has been in the memory business since 1997, and distributes their products to more than 50 countries around the world. Unlike some companies who have diversified their product line over the years, GeIL continues to focus almost solely on memory, and are arguably one of the top overclocking memory manufacturers in the world. Today GeIL has sent over a 2x8GB dual channel kit of their latest DDR4-3000 evo FORZA gaming memory, spec'd to run at 1500MHz with 15-17-17 timings.

Azza Titan 240 Mid-Tower Case
The Titan 240 is one of three new mid-tower designs from Azza alongside the Photios 250 and Onyx 260. These three cases share a similar underlying chassis but offer differing exterior panels that give each case a distinct look. With support for a 240mm radiator up top and a 240mm or 280mm radiator in the front, the Titan 240 is capable of hosting a variety of liquid cooling configurations. Another unique feature shared by Azza's new mid-tower designs is the tempered glass side panel.

Kingston HyperX Predator 240Gb M.2 PCIe G2 x4 SSD
Today we have for review the Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB PCIe SSD. This is an M.2 format, 2280 size drive that comes with an optional half-height, half-length (HHHL) adapter card to fit a standard PCIe slot. It supports PCIe revision 2.0 and up to x4 lanes which yields a theoretical bandwidth limit of 2000MB/s. Available in either 240GB or 480GB capacities, the HyperX Predator SSD features a Marvell controller and Toshiba NAND flash.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless G3 / Pro
With the popularity of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and other handhelds (most of which have a fixed amount of storage built in), Kingston realized there was a need for an easy-to-access-external storage device. While cloud-based storage is often the most simple way to back up or transfer your digital media, there are occasions where access to the Internet or cloud service may not be available. The Kingston MobileLite Wireless devices address these concerns.

Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 Socket 1151 Motherboard
With the introduction of the Intel Z170 chipset, we see a number of changes from the previous Z97 and several improvements. First and foremost is a new socket specification for the CPU, the 1151. Although not compatible with previous socket interfaces as far as the CPU is concerned, the overall dimensions are nearly identical, allowing for interchangeability with other 1150/1155/1156 compatible coolers. Another change is the switch to DDR4 memory. The DMI version 3.0 grants a greater number of PCI-E lanes between CPU and chipset, allowing manufacturers to implement more M.2 or SATA Express, as well as more USB 3.0 ports. For our Skylake build, Gigabyte has sent over their Z170X-UD5 motherboard.

Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 16GB Memory
With the release of its Skylake Core processors, Intel introduced a new 1151 socket and Z170 chipset design. Rather than previous generation mainstream desktop configurations using DDR3, Intel opted to adopt the latest DDR4 also used in their high-end/enthusiast X99 platform. The DDR4 specification starts at 2133 and currently runs up to 3400 and will certainly continue higher as frequencies improve. For our Skylake build, Kingston sent over a 2x8GB kit of their latest HyperX Fury modules in DDR4-2666 speed. Join us as we take a closer look at the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 memory.

Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Motherboard
The Gigabyte Z97X-SLI is an SLI-capable motherboard priced very attractively for budget gamers. Due to licensing models with Nvidia, not all chipsets and boards are available to support SLI. Additionally, the board will support CrossFire natively as all Z97 boards do. This model also features high-end ALC1150 115dB SNR audio, a high quality headphone amplifier and a dedicated audio hardware zone to protect from interference. Intel Gigabit LAN, all solid caps and a new heatsink design round out the feature list.

Swiftech Komodo R9 LE GPU Water Block
Swiftech recently released their latest GPU block design, the Komodo R9 LE and Komodo NV GTX9, which match the aesthetics of their Apogee XL. The Komodo blocks are a full coverage design and offer similar illumination effects to the Apogee XL, with changeable color scheme between red, blue, green and white. The base is manufactured of copper that has been chrome plated instead of the more commonly used nickel and the housing is acetal with transparent window.

Swiftech H220-X AIO Liquid Cooler
The Swiftech H220-X combines the MCP30 pump into either a dual 120mm or dual 140mm radiator, similar to their previous MCR-X20 Drive series. The H220-X, however, relocates the pump from the end of the radiator to a spot beside the fins for a more compact length. They've also integrated a backlit reservoir window so users can easily check the coolant level without opening up the system. Finally, they opted to integrate their current flagship water block, the Apogee XL, into the mix.

Cougar 700M and Speed Gaming Mouse and Pad
One look at the Cougar 700M Gaming Mouse and I was immediately reminded of another mouse I had recently reviewed, the Thermaltake Level 10. Upon closer examination there are more than a few differences between them, however compared to the typical computer mouse, they share a few similarities. For one, both exhibit a barebones-style open architecture with an aluminum skeleton. Both also feature adjustable panels to customize the fit to the user's hand along with fully programmable buttons and a high attention to detail on the fit and finish.

OCZ RevoDrive 350 PCIe Solid State Drive
Today we have for review OCZ's latest RevoDrive 350. With the new model number falling in line with other recent OCZ offerings such as the Vertex 460 or Vector 150, the RevoDrive 350 marks OCZ's fourth generation PCIe-based SSD. Featuring dual or quad SandForce SF-2282 controllers (depending on capacity), the RevoDrive 350 offers up to an advertised 1800MB/s read and 1700MB/s write speeds and an astounding 135,000 to 140,000 IOPS. Utilizing the same 19nm Toshiba toggle flash found in OCZ's other recent offerings, the RevoDrive 350 sports a three year warranty with up to 50GB/day of host writes.

Swiftech Apogee XL CPU Waterblock
Today we have for review Swiftech's absolute latest in blocks, the Apogee XL. Superseding the Apogee HD, which we reviewed two years ago, the XL offers some fine-tuning in performance for the latest AMD and Intel processors, reduced flow restriction and a new visual enhancement with LED back-lit logo plate in four included interchangeable colors: blue, green, red and white. There are two different versions available, the standard black polycarbonate body we received and an all-new XLC model with clear top.

X2 Aurel Noise Cancellation Headset
X2 Products comes to us from a team of PC enthusiasts based in the Netherlands. X2 has sent over for review today the X2 Aurel audio headphones with passive noise cancellation. Despite having an in-line microphone, the Aurel seem to be emphasized more for their audio headphone performance rather than portrayed as a true gaming headset. X2 advertises the Aurel series 2.0 as genuine audio headphones designed for style and functionality with gold-plated cables, passive noise cancellation and superb and crystal clear sound.

OCZ 240GB Vertex 460 solid state drive
One of the first announced products to come about as a result of Toshiba acquiring OCZ was the Vertex 460, a marriage of OCZ's Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller and Toshiba 19nm toggle flash memory. Advertising up to 545MB/s sequential reads and 525MB/s sequential writes and from 90,000 to 95,000 4K random IOPS, it appears as if OCZ is right back at the top of their game in the SSD market. Available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities with a three year warranty, the Vertex 460 joins the Vector 150 in OCZ's new lineup of consumer SSDs utilizing Toshiba's toggle NAND flash memory.

SilverStone Grandia GD08 HTPC Case
SilverStone makes many different sizes and styles of HTPC cases. The chassis we'll be taking a look at today is their Grandia GD08 which supports a full-size ATX motherboard and power supply along with dual optical drives and as many as eight 3" and two 2" hard drives. Provisions for cooling are spacious as well with up to four 120mm intake and two 80mm exhaust fans plus extra venting in the top and rear.

Kingston HyperX Predator 8GB DDR3-2400 Kit
What Kingston sent us for review today represents the next step up in their HyperX Predator line, the 8GB DDR3-2400 KHX24C11T2K2/8X kit. While only half the capacity of the set we reviewed last year, this kit is verified to run at the faster DDR3-2400 speed and CAS11. Memory bandwidth becomes very important for performance when shared with an iGPU such as AMD's latest Kaveri APU. Kingston also offers 8GB kits in DDR3-2666 and now DDR3-2800 speeds.

AzzA XT 1B Full Tower Case
The case I have for review today is a new design called the XT-1. Similar to the Solano 1000, this is described as a full tower case with dimensions that place it more in an extended mid-tower category. It is available in either a black/red or white/blue color scheme, denoted by either a B or W in the model number. AzzA touts the XT-1's cooling ability with four included fans and support for dual 120mm radiator, graphics cards up to 340mm in length, a tool-less design with included hot-swap drive bay and removable/exchangeable front and top grills.

Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-UP4 AMD FM2+ Motherboard
The F2A88X-UP4 fills a spot in Gigabyte's lineup of FM2+ boards that is at the upper echelon, just shy of the top G1.Sniper gaming platform. It features Gigabyte's newest Ultra Durable 5 Plus component design, utilizing IR Digital PWM Controllers and PowlRstage IC's. Cooling these components is Gigabyte's integrated three-way heatpipe heatsink design. Also included is Gigabyte's DualBIOS, Two-way CrossFire, 2x Copper PCB and onboard debug LED and quick buttons.

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935
Not since Shawn reviewed the Mountain Mods U2-UFO Duality have I seen a case specifically designed to house two individual computer systems. There are several reasons a hardcore computer enthusiast may have for needing room above and beyond what even your typical full tower case provides, but not many options are available without building your own... until now. Earlier this fall, Cooler Master revealed plans for a customizable, modular case system combining the cooling capabilities of the High Air-Flow series with the discontinued Stacker name, the HAF Stacker.

ADATA XPG v1.0 Black DDR3-1600 CL9 Memory
Despite being around for more than six years now, DDR3 memory remains the standard desktop module type in use today. It may be another year before DDR4 begins to filter into the marketplace and with manufacturers pushing DDR3 speed far beyond the 2133 ceiling, it may be even longer until it is completely supplanted. Check any component retailer and you'll likely find DDR3-1600 still the most abundant and commonly sold memory type to date. No surprise then that ADATA sent over a 2 x 4GB kit of their XPG v1.0 Black DDR3-1600 memory for review.

SilverStone Raven RV04 Case
For the introduction of its fourth generation RAVEN case, SilverStone has opted to switch back to a more traditional layout with cooling fans moving air from front to rear and hardware located in its usual position within the chassis. Options are once again relegated to a single choice of color, which is fine as long as you like black. The right side panel is available with or without a window. New for the RV04 is a front panel door, the first to grace any RAVEN case yet. Can the fourth generation RAVEN carry on the well-respected name of its predecessors? Join us as we aim to find out.

SilverStone Tundra TD02 AIO Liquid Cooler
AIO or All-In-One liquid coolers have become very popular in recent years, offering better capability than top-of-the-line air coolers without all the noise typically associated with fast spinning fans and without the hassle and setup of custom liquid cooling loops. The Tundra TD02 features a dual 120mm brazed fin aluminum radiator that is 45mm thick. Coupled with that are two 120mm PWM-controlled fans and an all-metal housing pump with copper base and nickel-plated aluminum body.

SilverStone Strider Gold 650W Power Supply
Within the last decade we've seen the 80Plus certification become a widely accepted standard and further expanded into Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels as efficiency improves. Combine lower hardware power requirements with more efficient power supplies and we start to see what had been a steady upward trend in power supply size begin to level off and perhaps even decline. Where 750W or 850W may have once been the norm, we're now seeing units in the 500W to 650W range become more popular.

Gigabyte Z87X-D3H LGA1150 Motherboard
With Intel's 7-series chipset a little over a year old, the latest 8-series offers only a few minor improvements. There's some power savings to be had, along with more built-in ports for USB 3.0 and 6Gb/s SATA. Other than that, there's not much to distinguish from the previous 1155 socket generation. The motherboard we have for review today comes to us from Gigabyte in the form of their Z87X-D3H. They offer no less than fifteen different Z87 based chipset motherboards, everything from mini-ITX boards with onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to their top-of-the-line G1 Sniper gaming motherboards, and the D3H falls somewhere in the middle.

SilverStone Temjin TJ04-E Evolution Chassis
The case we were supplied with for this build comes to us from SilverStone in the form of their Temjin series TJ04-E Evolution. What might arguably be considered a Lian-Li PC6/7 lookalike, the SilverStone TJ04/E has a similar clean and understated appearance that is sure to appeal to a wide audience. Quite a lot has changed in the PC world in the last decade so one must wonder, has SilverStone's venerable Temjin case undergone a true evolution to keep pace?

Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR3-2133 Kit
The HyperX Predator series is one of Kingston's enthusiast level memory kits offering speeds from 1866MHz up to 2666MHz, with 2800MHz awaiting certification. Kits are available in either 8GB or 16GB capacity with several different XMP profiles and CAS levels and from 1.5V to 1.65V voltage requirements. All Kingston memory is 100% tested and backed by their lifetime warranty.

Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD
As most PC enthusiasts know, the right choice of storage media - particularly for the operating system - can make or break the entire build. Earlier this year we reviewed the Vector and Vertex 3.20, two of OCZ's latest SSD offerings and judging by the Kingston data sheet their HyperX 3K looks to bring an equal challenge to the table. Touting 555MB/s sequential reads and 510MB/s writes, the HyperX 3K 240GB SSD offers impressive performance courtesy of the Sandforce 2 controller... all with a three year warranty.

iStarUSA BPU-340 and BPN-DE HDD Enclosures
The BPU-340 and the BPN-DE series that we are taking a look at today are two different hard drive enclosures that allow for easy hot swapping of hard drives in and out of a chassis. These are quite simple units in design but offer functionality that few vendors out there provide.

ioSafe N2 NAS / RAID Storage Solution
The ioSafe N2 is one of the newest ioSafe devices that build on an already popular concept: robust and resilient data storage backed by a data protection service. This model combines a fire, water and EMI proof chassis with the power of the Synology DSM allowing users to quickly connect the storage to a gigabit network and utilize it over a LAN. It also includes data recovery protection up to $5,000 out of the box.

OCZ Vertex 3.20 240Gb Solid State Drive
The key difference this time around, however, is the selection of MLC NAND. As the name indicates, the Vertex 3.20 uses 20nm MLC NAND compared to the larger 25nm / 34nm variants found on the original Vertex 3. It's part of a market-wide push for smaller flash across the board. That aside, everything else under the hood remains virtually the same although LSI now owns SandForce.

Roccat Kone XTD Mouse
Roccat has already established themselves as a solid manufacturer and designer of performance gaming peripherals and accessories. The Roccat Kone XTD is the next release in their line of performance gaming mice. This unit retails for around $90 USD and features eight fully programmable mouse buttons, a tracking sensor that scales up to 8200 DPI and a custom weight system that allows you to change the weight of the mouse in your hand in five gram increments.

AData 500GB USB 3.0 DashDrive Elite
The item that we have for review today is one of the smallest and lightest external hard drives available, the ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720. Inside its attractive brushed steel skin lies 500GB of storage, accessible via a fast USB 3.0 powered connection. With a size and weight less than most smartphones, the DashDrive Elite easily fits in your pocket or travel bag and with only one cable to worry with, you're not going to be tied to a socket either.

Thermaltake Level 10 Mouse
When the Thermaltake Level 10 case debuted at CeBIT in 2009, it garnered quite a bit of attention for its radical concept design. Now Tt aims to broaden the Level 10 product stable further by adding gaming peripherals such as headsets and mice. The Level 10 M Gaming Mouse, like previous Level 10 cases, was designed in partnership with BMW DesignworksUSA. One look tells you that this is not your average ordinary mouse.

OCZ Vector 256GB Solid State Drive
Today we take a look at a new Solid State Drive offering from OCZ, the Vector Series SATA III SSD. The Vector joins the Vertex models in OCZ's High-Performance category drives, touting a 7mm low profile design, Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller and either 128GB, 256GB or 512GB capacities. Like the Vertex 4 that Shawn reviewed last year, the Vector Series touts an impressive 5-year warranty. Performance looks to be on par with the Vertex as well, with over 500MB/s claimed sequential read/write speeds (on the larger capacity models) and around 100,000 random 4k IOPS.

OtterBox Commuter and Defender for iPhone 5
OtterBox has traditionally sent over retail boxed versions of their cases for evaluation but this time around, we received a special "complementary sample" box that contained two different cases. It's worth pointing out that the actual cases are identical to what you'd buy at your local store - the only difference here is the packaging.

Thermaltake Frio Advanced & Extreme Coolers
It's been more than two years since Thermaltake launched its first Frio CPU cooler. Then they turned around and presented the Frio OCK nearly a year later. For this year Thermaltake presents not one but two new Frio based coolers for review, the Advanced and Extreme! Both coolers carry on the Frio name by utilizing dual fans on a heatpipe tower configuration. Both claim top-shelf cooling ability suitable for today's high-end processors, the question becomes then just how extreme do you need your cooling?

Thermaltake Armor Revo Snow Edition Case
It's been a year since our last Thermaltake case review, the Chaser MK-1 full tower. Those familiar with some of the features of that model may be pleased to learn that Thermaltake has incorporated many of those same options into their new Armor Revo cases. Things like the built-in fan speed and light control, top external hard drive dock, pivoting base feet and removable mesh filters are carried over directly. The chassis layout is also very similar, with the same four bay front and large 200mm front, top and side mount fans.

Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer and Pro Water Cooling Kits
Thermaltake is one of the few computer accessory companies that has found success with multiple product lines. Several have tried to branch out from their core business but most ultimately fail and either resort back to what they know best or shut down shop completely. But not Thermaltake - they've found success with their line of power supplies, cases and cooling solutions over the years. Today we will be taking a look at a relatively new product line from the latter category in the Water 2.0 liquid cooling kits.

Cooler Master ARC Stand for Macbook and iPad
Cooler Master recently sent out a press release announcing the availability of the ARC Macbook and iPad Stand. We saw this device briefly during our meeting with Cooler Master at CES earlier this year although it didn't make our final coverage article. Today we will be taking a closer look at the dual-purpose device aimed squarely at Apple product owners.

Noctua NH-L12 L-Type Low-Profile Cooler
Often built into micro-ATX or smaller chassis, HTPC aficionados demand small size and silent operation over sheer performance. Noctua aims to target the HTPC crowd with the release of their latest cooler, the NH-L12. Following in the footsteps of their C-Type NH-C14 that we reviewed here last year, the L12 offers a similar top-flow design in a slimmer, lower profile, while retaining a dual-fan configuration and incorporating their latest F-Series Focused-Flow PWM fan.

OCZ Vertex 4 128GB Solid State Drive
The Everest 2 platform comes as a result of OCZ's acquisition of Indilinx in early 2011 but it isn't the first time we have seen the Indilinx brand stamped on a Vertex drive. The company launched the original Vertex SSD as one of the pioneering flash storage solutions for mainstream users with an Indilinx controller under the hood. OCZ jumped on the SandForce bandwagon with the Vertex 2 and Vertex 3 but have come full circle back to an Indilinx solution with the Vertex 4... well, sort of. But we'll get to that in just a bit.

Cooler Master Cosmos II Ultra Tower Case
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past several months, you've no doubt seen this chassis online or perhaps even at your local hardware retailer or LAN party (although I pity the person responsible for lugging this heavyweight anywhere outside of their house). Cooler Master showcased what they call the Ultra Tower at CES and it goes without saying that it was the most impressive computer case I saw during my week in Las Vegas. We've been anxious to get this chassis on the test bench to see if it lives up to the hype.

Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution 750W Power Supply
This year Silverstone revamps their Strider Gold lineup as the Evolution series, touting a new Air Penetrator fan, improved component design and slightly better power and efficiency. They've also included a magnetic mount fan filter for those less-than-pristine operating environments.

Bitfenix Raider Mid-Tower Chassis
Bitfenix is a bit of the new guy on the block, yet this is the second case we have had the opportunity to review from them in the past year. Last July we took a look at their Shinobi case and at the time I said it was a nice departure from their original Colossus chassis - which was a bit odd for my taste. They have quickly become known for not just their interesting designs, but the quality of their construction. Taking a look at the Raider which we have here today, my first impression is that it is a refinement of the previous Shinobi design.

Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 Heatsink and NF-F12 PWM Fans
Two years ago I posted my review of the original Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler and proclaimed it the best air cooler money could buy at the time. When it came time to select a heatsink to use in our new LGA2011 test system, I immediately reached out to Noctua for our cooling needs. The timing was just right as Noctua had recently introduced the NH-D14 SE2011 for Intel's Sandy Bridge-E platform. The gang had also launched their NF-F12 PWM cooling fans and agreed to send over a few along with the cooler for evaluation in our test system.

Zotac GeForce GTX 560 Ti Graphics Card
Today we will be taking a look at a mainstream graphics solution from Zotac, a GeForce GTX 560 Ti. Sure, this isn't the most powerful card on the market but the truth of the matter is I'm not a diehard gamer like many so a more powerful card would likely go to waste. When I build a system, I want something that is extremely fast in day to day use but graphics aren't a major concern. On paper, the Zotac card appears to be a good fit for this type of build and we will find out just how much power it packs shortly when paired with an enthusiast-class system.

Silverstone Precision PS07 Micro-ATX Case
The Silverstone Precision PS07 micro-ATX chassis offers a more traditional layout than the Fortress series, although access to the interior is via the right side of the case, a-la BTX style format. The chassis features dual hidden 120mm silent fan intakes, along with an independent airflow channel for the power supply, all with easily removable filters. With a wide stance to accommodate extra room for cabling, the PS07 maintains a small footprint while allowing use of a full-size power supply and video card, not to mention up to six hard drives. It's available in two color choices, black or white.

Gigabyte X79-UD3 Motherboard
Today we will be looking at an X79 motherboard from Gigabyte, the GA-X79-UD3. The UD3 represents Gigabyte's entry level model on the X79 platform but if processor price didn't already tip you off, LGA 2011 is an all-around expensive platform. For example, pricing on this entry-level board starts around $250 - more along the lines of what you'd expect to pay for a premium P67 board.

Actiontec MyWirelessTV Multi-Room HD Video Kit
Featuring an 802.11 wireless standard transmitter and receiver, capable of streaming up to 1080p60 video up to 150 feet, the MyWirelessTV allows you to broadcast your HD content to nearly any room in the house. Future capabilities will offer multi-cast transmission, from one transmitter to up to four receivers, and multi-source, linking multiple transmitters to one receiver. The product we've received for review today is their standard kit, which includes everything needed to get started.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Motherboard
Today we are taking a look at a board from the latter series, the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme, a P67 B3 Revision board that throws caution to the wind by including virtually every bell and whistle one could desire. This board is specifically designed for Intel 2nd Generation Core CPU overclocking and supports Nvidia SLI and ATI CrossFire X multi-GPU configurations in addition to a treasure trove of ROG-specific features and applications.

Azza Fusion 3000 Full Tower Chassis
The PC case market is one that is hard to stand out in but of course that doesn't stop manufacturers from trying. We have only reviewed one other Azza case before, the Solano 1000 way back in 2009, but we generally came away impressed with it. In reading up on their history, I discovered that at one time Azza offered mainboards in addition to their PSU line. They aren't in the mainboard market anymore but have a variety of chassis and PSU offerings such as the Fusion 3000 that we will be taking a look at here today.

ASUS Wireless Adapters
Wireless is fast becoming the standard way to connect to networks. True there are still applications where traditional wired Ethernet is not only preferred, but recommended, but in typical day-to-day use wireless, is not only sufficient but often preferred based on convenience alone. Today we are going to look at few different products from ASUS, a company that is largely known for motherboards, video cards and notebooks.

CES 2012: Gigabyte
Gigabyte has quite a good reputation among PC hardware and gaming enthusiasts. I had the pleasure of seeing some of their solutions in their demo suite at the Venetian. Gigabyte displayed a plethora of graphics cards and motherboards, including a few motherboard engineering samples for Intel's next-generation platform due out in a few months. Samples spanned all budgets, including the GA-B75M-D3H, GA-Z77X-UD3H, GA-Z77X-UD5H, G1.Sniper 3, and G1.Sniper M3.

CES 2012: MSI
MSI is jumping on the Intel Thunderbolt bandwagon with a new product called GUS II. GUS II is an external graphics card enclosure designed to house a single card with a power draw no higher than 150 watts, ideally targeted at notebook gamers. The device operates over the Thunderbolt interface on one end with a PCIe X16 slot for cards inside the enclosure.

Swiftech Apogee HD Water Block
Today we have for review Swiftech's absolute latest in blocks, the Apogee HD. Superseding the venerable Apogee XT as their flagship product, the HD offers improvements in all areas: increased performance, reduced flow restriction and a new innovative feature known as multi-port connectivity. By paralleling the outputs to other components like the VGA, RAM and VRM, flow restriction is reduced and the need for a second pump in long, daisy-chain setups is eliminated.

CES 2012: Thermaltake
We stopped by Thermaltake to visit with them at their suite in the Palazzo hotel. Here Thermaltake showed us their new Level 10 GTS mid-tower chassis. The GTS features USB 3.0, EasySwap storage bays, an HDD storage system and a nice cable management system. The chassis is constructed from steel although there wasn't a net weight listed. A 200mm LED fan comes pre-installed in the front for intake and there's a 120mm rear exhaust fan.

CES 2012: OCZ Technology
We stopped by OCZ's suite at Aria to check out what they had on tap for 2012. The highlight of our time with OCZ was their next-generation Everest 2 NAND flash controller platform. Set for release next June, the SATA 6Gb/s interface boasts preliminary numbers of 550MB/s read and 500MB/s write with up to 90,000 4K random write IOPS. These IOPS are a good bit higher than SandForce 2000 series controllers are capable of.

CES 2012: Cooler Master
We visited with Cooler Master at the Bellagio after they hosted one heck of a party the night before. Cooler Master is celebrating their 20 year anniversary with a plethora of new products for 2012. The PR team first showed us their upcoming heatsink known as the TPC-812 which utilizes a new technology called Vertical Vapor Chamber. We were told that Cooler Master is one of only two companies in the world that are capable of producing this technology.

NZXT Switch 810 Tower Case
At CES 2012, NZXT launched a new full tower case they've dubbed the Switch 810. NZXT is calling this a "hybrid" tower design, suitable for extreme air cooling or complex liquid cooling setups, and offering users a choice between maximum airflow or noise reduction. With up to ten 120/140mm fans, top 360/420mm and bottom 140/240mm radiator support, pivoting internal fan mounts and removable dust filters, NZXT is definitely taking the cooling aspect of this case seriously.

CES 2012: Roccat
Roccat kicked off our meeting on the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center by showing us their Kone+ gaming mouse. The follow-up to the original Kone includes a 6000 DPI sensor and up to 20 grams of adjustable weights. There's a 1000Hz polling rate, Teflon coated pads and support for up to 500 macro actions.

CES 2012: SilverStone
We headed over to the LVH (Las Vegas Hilton) for our meeting with enthusiast case manufacturer SilverStone where we stumbled upon perhaps the most interesting chassis of the week. Their new Mini-ITX FT03-Mini is nearly identical externally to the original FT03 except that it supports a smaller form factor and the optical drive is mounted vertically which looks a bit odd on the silver version. The SilverStone rep described it as the SG05 turned vertically which we can totally relate to.

CES 2012: Kingston
Kingston was celebrating their HyperX brand's 10 year anniversary at CES and to kick things off, we were shown their new HyperX Red limited edition RAM modules. The Reds are available in dual channel kits at 1333 (1.5v) or 1600 (1.65v) MHz variants and are Intel XMP ready. Kingston illustrated how the red heat spreaders complement motherboards with red accents like the Asus Rampage IV Extreme.

CES 2012: ioSafe
ioSafe invited us to the tennis pavilion at the Las Vegas Country Club to demonstrate their new Rugged Portable Thunderbolt drive. Playing on the Thunderbolt theme, ioSafe set up the most convincing demo I have witnessed in the four years that I have attended CES.

CES 2012: Zotac
We stopped by the Mirage to visit with Zotac, a company known for their small form factor motherboards, graphics cards and all-in-one Zboxes. Our marketing specialist Cherry first showed us Zotac's latest ITX solutions including the A75-ITX WiFi with the AMD A75 chipset and Radeon HD 6000 graphics. The H67ITX-D-E, sporting an Intel H67 chipset and GeForce GT 520 graphics, will be on sale in mid February for $149.99 while the D2700-ITU WiFi Supreme (just launched at CES) with its Intel Atom 2.13GHz dual-core processor will be available around the same time for $180.

NZXT HALE82 650W Power Supply
NZXT has traditionally been better known for their offerings in the low to middle end market where the bulk of consumers shop for their gear, and the HALE90 is maybe just a tad out of that price range. Not surprisingly then, NZXT has released a new HALE82 line of power supplies, in 650W, 750W and 850W ratings, that come in at a 20%-30% savings over their HALE90 counterparts. The HALE82 features a similar design, with semi-modular construction, single +12V rail and 80Plus Bronze certification.

SilverStone Raven RV03 Case
While we've reviewed many SilverStone cases here at, we have yet to get a close look at any of their "extreme enthusiast" RAVEN series, other than the brief glimpses we've had at CES. SilverStone is now in their third release of the popular RAVEN tower, the RV03 which Jakob previewed at CES 2011. It was with great anticipation then when we received the RAVEN 3 for review. From our experience SilverStone has always produced high quality enclosures and the RAVEN looks to be no exception, however what really sets this series apart from other tower designs is the 90 clockwise orientation of the motherboard.

OCZ RevoDrive 3 PCI-Express SSD
The 240GB sample that we have features blistering performance rated at up to 1000MB/s read and 900MB/s write with 130,000 IOPS. This is 260MB/s read and 180MB/s write faster than the RevoDrive X2, a card that included four SandForce controllers to obtain such speeds. The RevoDrive 3 is able to trump those numbers with only two controllers thanks to new advances across the board.

ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe Motherboard
After my recent review of the impressive ASUS Sabertooth P67 board, I was wondering what ASUS could have in store for us next. Intel released their Z68 chipset not too long ago and ASUS is certainly on schedule with their Z68 lineup. There is a lot to choose from with 10 different Z68 offerings from the company. Today we are going to take a look at the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe, second in line only to the Maximus IV Extreme-Z as ASUS' top Z68 motherboard.

OCZ ZT Series 650W Modular Power Supply
Late last month we took a look at OCZ's current budget power supply, the ZS series 750w power supply. This unit featured a single 12v power rail, 80 Plus Bronze certification and a hardwired construction. The PSU performed just fine in our evaluation but one thing that many people (myself included) typically look for in a modern power supply is a modular design. Today we have an upgraded version of that power power supply that falls under OCZ's High Performance category, OCZ's ZT series modular power supply.

ASUS Sabertooth P67 Motherboard
TUF series boards in general all have three key elements: I/O connectivity, component quality and reliability / cooling technology. ASUS uses military-grade components on TUF boards and as such, this product line features a five year warranty and goes through a different internal validation test compared to standard boards. But it's the cooling aspect, a cover over the entire board known as Thermal Armor, that I'm most excited about.

NZXT Avatar S Gaming Mouse
Back in 2008 NZXT released their first gaming mouse, dubbed the Avatar. Other than driver updates to accommodate newer games and provide bug fixes, NZXT has seemed content to leave it at that. You might ask then how NZXT could improve upon the Avatar's success enough to warrant a new product designation. Well you could start by replacing the 2600 DPI optical sensor with a 1600 DPI laser for better tracking on all surfaces. Then you eliminate two customizable buttons that the majority of users will probably never miss. Continue by reducing the switchable DPI selections from four down to three, throw in 16Kb of memory for storing of settings and profiles, and allow users to customize the LED lighting. Finally freshen up the aesthetics and slap an "S" model designation on it. Oh yeah, and cut the price almost in half.

OCZ Technology ZS Series 750w Power Supply
Today we will be looking at OCZ's current budget power supply, the ZS series 750w PSU. We got our first glimpse of this unit way back at CES 2011 when we toured OCZ's upcoming product line for this year. The ZS series features a single 12v rail construction and a modest 80 Plus Bronze certification. OCZ sent over the 750w unit but you can also elect for less powerful 550w and 650w flavors should your hardware not require as much juice.

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 Motherboard
That said, today I will be checking out another Z68 board in the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5, a premium Z68 offering that retails for almost $100 more than the MSI mainboard. This time around, in addition to our standard review analysis, we will be comparing benchmarks between the two boards and against a P67 system to see the performance improvement that Intel's latest chipset brings to the table.

ASUS M5A99X EVO Motherboard
When we reviewed the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX motherboard several weeks ago, the planned launch date for AMD's new AM3+ compatible Bulldozer chips was September 19th. Finally on October 12th the chips began popping into online inventories everywhere. Unfortunately a slew of reviews published that same day gave the FX series Zambezi chips scathing remarks. Despite lackluster performance from the new FX processors, AM3+ does still have some benefits to offer AMD users, particularly if you're still on an older AM2+ board or utilizing nVidia SLI. If a $200 motherboard isn't in your budget, the ASUS M5A99X EVO we have for review today may be just your cup of tea.

ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II Graphics Card
I've looked at a couple of video cards over the past few months, each being more powerful (and expensive) than the previous. It all started with MSI's R6850 which retailed for $177.99 at the time of our review. Next on the list was the ASUS GTX560 Ti which showed a marked improvement over the slower AMD offering, albeit at roughly $75 more expensive. Today we will bump things up to the higher-end of the spectrum as we analyze the ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II graphics card, a $500 premium GPU featuring a core clock of 782 MHz, 512 processor cores and an effective memory clock of 4008 MHz. This card is factory overclocked by 10 MHz (772 MHz reference) but ASUS also offers a higher factory overclocked version of this card at 816 MHz.

SilverStone DC01 Network Attached Storage device
A few years ago network attached storage (NAS) devices were only targeted to businesses and enthusiasts, but in the age of digitized music, photos, and movies, most people find themselves wanting a centralized way to manage all of their digital content. SilverStone has come up with the DC01 network attached storage device to fill this niche. With powerful features and simple management, SilverStone has designed a product to please both enthusiasts as well as non-tech savvy consumers.

Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 Motherboard
Today we will be testing out the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5. Based on the latest AM3+ architecture and featuring the top-end 990FX chipset and SB950 southbridge combo, this board offers a mid-grade enthusiast platform with an emphasis on robust build quality and rich feature sets. The Gigabyte 990FXA series is also available in UD3 and UD7 models, the main difference among the three being the number of supported graphics cards.

ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP Graphics Card
Today we will be taking a look at the ASUS GTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP graphics card, an Nvidia-based Fermi GPU priced at roughly $250. Much like the R6850, this is an overclocked edition card that bumps the core clock up to 900 MHz and the shader clock to 1800 MHz; defaults for each are 810 MHz / 1620 MHz. Technology differences aside, it's no secret that many people shop with their wallets alone, so the aim of this comparison review is to see what sort of improvement you can from a quality $250 video card versus something a bit cheaper.

ASUS P6X58E-Pro X58 Motherboard
The P6X58-E Pro is ASUS' next iteration of their popular Intel X58 based motherboard. This board supports the Core i7 LGA1366 CPU (up to 6 cores) with DDR3 memory up to 48GB. 3-way SLI/Quad GPU CrossfireX is available and ASUS was kind enough to include both the 2-way and 3-way bridges. The board is currently being sold for about $250 which puts it on par with most performance X58-based motherboards from other manufacturers. As a current happy owner of the previous version of this board, the P6X58-D, I am quite excited to see what improvements ASUS has made to this already very solid performance-based platform.

MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 Motherboard
A few months later in May Intel launched an updated Sandy Bridge chipset called Z68 which essentially takes the best features of the P67 and H67 and combines them into one. With a Z68 board, users can overclock the CPU and use the integrated Intel HD graphics. Previously, if you wanted to overclock, you had to buy a P67 board and you had to use a discrete graphics card. If you wanted to use the integrated graphics, you needed an H67 board but then you couldn't overclock the CPU. In addition to these combined features, Z68 also introduces a new feature called Smart Response Technology (SRT) which uses a solid state drive to cache data from a traditional spinning hard drive.

ASUS Sabertooth AMD 990FX Motherboard
There are a wide array of motherboard manufacturers cranking out AM3+ boards, with chipsets ranging from the venerable 760G up through the gamut of 800 series. Of course AMD has also refreshed its chipset naming to match the new CPUs, and motherboards based on the 970, 990X and top dog 990FX are also available. It's two of these 900 series of boards that ASUS has sent over for review; the one we will be focusing on today is the Sabertooth 990FX.

Asus Black Diamond RT-N56U Router and USB-N13 Adapter
It feels like just yesterday that the name Asus was associated with motherboards and graphics cards; a big name to enthusiasts, but not to the consumer electronics market. Now, Asus has snuck into all kinds of mainstream markets, including laptops, Android tablets, and even wireless hardware. Today, we'll be taking a look at their "Black Diamond" RT-N56U Wireless-N Router in combination with the USB-N13 Wireless-N Adapter.

Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Full Tower Case
The blue highlights around the case are the most noticeable feature when it first comes out of the box. I like the headset hook on the MK-1 far more than the one that was included with the Level 10 GT. It folds up and is out of the way until it is needed. Taking a look at the side we can see the stylized window and large vent opening.

Bitfenix Shinobi Window Case
Bitfenix is a relative newcomer to the market and certainly new to me. The case we are looking at today, the Bitfenix Shinobi, is actually my first hands-on experience with their products. When they introduced the Colossus chassis I was bit skeptical; the styling was just something that I questioned. However, most have seemed very happy with the build quality, so that did perk my attention. The Shinobi is a mid-tower offering that has a minimalistic style and comes with or without a side window. The sample sent to us includes the side window, viewed as an added perk by most.

Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
Cooler Master sent over a pre-production sample of their new CM Storm Sirus 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset for evaluation recently. This wired headset certainly has a lot of promise, with eight speakers (four per side), a built-in microphone, optional ear padding, a powered desktop control panel and the option to plug directly into your sound card. More importantly, at least for me, is that the headset features over-the-ear cups. I find these types of headsets much more comfortable than on-the-ear cans which tend to cause me discomfort after a short while.

Cubitek Tattoo Pro Chassis
The Cubitek brand isn't one I was familiar with even though they were founded in 2002. They were initially founded as an OEM/ODM business model but in the spring of 2010 they reorganized to be able to become a branded manufacturer. That translates to them being a newer player in the market and perhaps I haven't been remiss in not noticing them until now. Their philosophy of "Build something we would want to buy at a price we would want to pay" certainly speaks to me. Today we are going to take a look at their Tattoo Pro mid-tower offering and see if it lives up to that claim.

MSI R6850 Cyclone PE / OC Graphics Card
Discrete computer graphics are one of the toughest markets to keep current with. New graphics cores are released on a pretty frequent basis from both ATI and NVIDIA and with naming schemes that change nearly as often, it can be difficult to determine where each card stands in relation to others in the same price range. Today we will be taking a look at the MSI R6850 PE / OC graphics card, a mid-range GPU that was launched at the end of last year. Codenamed Barts, this GPU is built on a 40nm process with support for DirectX 11 & Open GL 4.0. Other notable features include HDMI 1.4a & DisplayPort 1.2 support as well as AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology and CrossfireX support.

NZXT H2 Classic Silent Mid-Tower Case
NZXT introduces the newest design in their Classic series, the H2 Silent mid-tower. Building upon the success of their previous Hush mid-tower and Whisper full-tower chassis, the H2 incorporates the latest case upgrades and technological advances into a compact mid-tower frame, utilizing quieting features and a classic styling that practically screams NZXT.

FSP Group Aurum Gold 500 Power Supply
Unless you are running multiple video cards and a beefy processor, you won't have any use for a monster 1KW+ PSU. Even relatively powerful hardware doesn't come close to using the kind of power that super high-end units provide. Today we will be taking a look at a "mainstream" power supply from FSP Group, the Aurum Gold 500. The Aurum is a 500 watt non-modular power supply that features 80+ Gold certification and dual 12v rails. The 500w model is one of four in the Aurum series; other models include a 400w variety and beefier 600w and 700w units.

OCZ Technology Agility 3 240GB Solid State Drive
The SSD technology of today is worlds better than what we had in 2009. Better understanding of the technology, mature controllers, Windows 7, SATA 6Gb/sec and even the PCI-e bus have all advanced things to a point where SSDs are coming close to mainstream adoption. Pricing is also much more attractive as well as evident by the drive we are looking at today, OCZ's Agility 3 240GB unit. The Agility 3 is one of three new SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs and is classified as a high-performance drive alongside the higher-end Vertex 3.

Sentey GSP850-SM 850w Power Supply
I have gotten to know Sentey through their case division over the past few months. In that time I have looked at the Optimus and the Arvina mid-tower offerings. Today we have their 80 Plus Gold 850 watt power supply on hand for evaluation. This will be the first power supply I have looked at from them, so it will be interesting to see how they handle something besides a case.

Corsair Obsidian 650D Midtower Chassis
Corsair has since released two follow-up cases in the Obsidian line, the 700D and the 650D. The 700D is essentially identical to the 800D, but removes the hot-swap drive bays and windowed side panel. The 650D, on the other hand, is a mid-tower offering that heavily resembles the 800D in fit and function. There are some changes that had to be made given the smaller footprint, but it's largely a shrunken 800D. Today we will be going over the smaller 650D to see if it truly lives up to the stellar reputation the 800D holds.

Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1050W PSU
As a hardware enthusiast, trade shows like CES and Computex showcase many new products that you can expect to see on the market either immediately or sometime after the show. As a hardware reviewer, these shows are even more insightful as it gives a pretty solid road map of what we will be working with over the next six months or so. We have already looked at products from OCZ, Cooler Master and SilverStone that we previewed at the show, just to name a few. Today that trend continues as we have Thermaltake's Toughpower Grand series power supply on the hotbed.

MUKii TransImp X3 Plus Hard Drive Enclosure
The MUKii TransImp X3 Plus is one of many new USB 3.0 hard drive enclosures coming to the market. The TransImp X3 Plus is no ordinary enclosure and MUKii has designed the unit with a few bells and whistles that separate it from other enclosures on the market. Some of those features include a front lit LCD display that shows real time I/O rates, an attractive black aluminum case and a small but effective set of software tools.

Thermaltake Level 10 GT Chassis
The Thermaltake Level 10 GT is yet another case that I had the opportunity to preview at CES 2011. The Level 10 GT is a follow-up to the original Level 10 that garnered a ton of press from CES 2010. The goal with this new version is to bring the style of the original Level 10 case to a much more reasonable price point. The original had an asking price around $800 - more than some users spend on an entire system!

Cooler Master Elite 371 Midtower Case
Today we are going to take a look at another case that was introduced at CES 2011. The Cooler Master Elite 371 was on display at Cooler Master's suite at the Bellagio, so we had a chance to preview this one a few months back. My impression at the time was that it looked like a solid budget case but now we will get to put it through the paces for a full evaluation.

Swiftech Polaris 120 CPU Cooler
It has been quite a while since Swiftech last offered a new air-cooled heatsink. Looking back through old reviews it appears the last one may have been the MCX6400-V, circa 2004. Certainly at that time Swiftech's coolers were well regarded, and they were the only ones to utilize anything like their patented Helicoid cooling pin design for base to fin heat transfer. However in more recent years Swiftech has concentrated exclusively on liquid cooling products. You can imagine my surprise then when I received the notice that I would be reviewing a new air-cooled heatsink from Swiftech, the Polaris 120.

How to Install a Computer in a Car
I mulled over multiple options for nearly a week before deciding that I wanted to install a PC in place of the current setup. A computer would allow me to add all of my MP3s as well as replace the unsightly TV / VCR combo. The PC would open up nearly all types of digital video formats as well which would certainly come in handy for passengers during a road trip.

SilverStone FT03 Micro ATX Chassis
We've looked at more computer cases than any other component or accessory over the past 10 years here at While styling and trends have certainly changed over the past decade, the general hardware layout inside a case has remained constant: motherboard in the middle, power supply either on the top or bottom, optical drives up front at the top and hard drives in the lower front area. There have been advances in certain departments like hot swap drive and aesthetics (lighting, funky paint jobs, etc) but the basic ATX layout hasn't changed much since the beige box. That's all about to change as SilverStone has taken the classic ATX layout and dropped it in a blender.

CM Storm Enforcer Mid Tower Chassis
The CM Storm Enforcer is the latest case in the Cooler Master "Storm" series of products and the second one we will be reviewing (the first was the CM Storm Sniper back in early 2009). Our first glimpse of this case was in the Cooler Master suite at CES 2011. Unlike the "ultra mid tower" Storm Sniper, this is a mid-tower offering aimed at budget gamers and enthusiasts.

How Much Energy Is Used At Your Computer Desk?
If a computer is plugged into a wall, and nobody is there to turn it on, does it still use energy? While a more familiar question with trees begs existential consideration, the answer to my question is far simpler; it's yes. As gas prices go up and up, everyone is looking to economize and save money everywhere they can. Phantom energy, electricity drawn by devices not in use, is one target of many people's efforts. Still, a lot of us think that the minimal wattage used by an empty cell-phone charger isn't worth the hassle and that there are bigger fish to fry. The