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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning 2GB Overclocked Video Card Review


msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

MSI's Lightning series is simply put one of my most favorite series when it comes to the video card market. MSI have always done a fantastic job with it and I always remember testing cards based under the Lightning series. Of course one of the best things about the Lightning series is that they're based on the highest end GPU options available.


Today the GTX 700 series which has been graced with the new Twin Frozr Gaming Series name finally sees its first Lightning based model. While we'd normally expect it to be the GTX 780, it's the model just below that, the GTX 770. The good news is, though, just the other day, we got a teaser video for a Lightning based GTX 780, which will hit us towards the end of this month or early next.

Let's get into the new MSI GTX 770 Lightning 2GB to see just what MSI are offering with the latest model we're testing. So, let's buckle down and start with the package before moving on from there.


Package


msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

Being a Lightning based card, we're dealing with quite a large box. As usual, though, the front of the box doesn't give us a ton of information. You can see the model and some of the main specifications in regards to the GTX 770. Once we open up the box, though, we are greeted with a ton of information covering some of the core features.

On the right hand side you can see the main Military Class III features are outlined including Copper MOSFETs, Highly Conductive Capacitors, Golden Solid State Choke and Dark Solid Capacitors, which all help make for a higher quality card that should overclock stronger than others.

Other features include the Unlocked Digital Power, which give us the ability to over volt the Core, Aux and Memory. We've also got the GPU Reactor which is designed to provide a higher current of capacity, hence offering better power support and overclocking stability. The other big feature is the 3x3 OC Kit which is the V-Check Points, Triple Overvoltage we just spoke about and Triple Temp Monitor.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

Looking across the bottom we get our first look at the card. We also have some of the major features that cover the Twin Frozr IV cooler including Dual 10cm Fans, High Density Fins, Nickel-Plated Copper base, Propeller Blade Technology and Super-Pipe Technology. All which make up the Twin Frozr IV, a cooler that has impressed us many times already with this generation. Turning over the box, you can see we get some of the main features in regards to the actual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_lightning_2gb_overclocked_video_card_review

Being a Lightning card, the bundle is larger than other video cards. You can see the Military Class III certificate, manual and driver CD. You can see we've also got a DVI to VGA connector, two 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power connectors, an extra-long SLI cable, which is handy for these large coolers and finally three V-Check cables.

Coming in at $449.99 at the time of writing, the MSI GTX 770 2GB Lightning is the most expensive 2GB version of the GTX 770. This doesn't come as much of a surprise, though, considering the amount of work that goes into creating the MSI Lightning models. Compared to other options, though, the next cheapest is $409.99 after rebate and comes in the form of the EVGA GTX 770 2GB SuperClocked with ACX cooling. That's a great video card and we found ourselves extremely impressed with it when we reviewed it.

If you head over to Newegg, you'll see a number of GTX 770's that come in at $449.99 with the most expensive offerings costing $519.99. It's important to remember, though, that these are 4GB models. So, at the cost of the Lightning model, you can grab yourself a 4GB version. While we can't really comment on how a 4GB model compares to a 2GB model due to the fact we haven't tested one yet, we can with confidence say that you should see very little difference, if previous testing of larger memory video cards is anything to go by. We're not talking about a 1GB card moving to 2GB, instead we're talking about 2GB, which is already a very decent amount of memory, and moving to 4GB.

Would we choose this video card over a 4GB version? In a heartbeat. It's really not something that we need to think about at all. If you're happy to spend mid-$400 on a GTX 770, we'd much prefer to go down the path of this Lightning card from MSI verses a 4GB standard version from another company.

Stepping away from the pricing side of things and getting into the actual performance, it's the fastest GTX 770 that we've tested to date, and with the highest core clock. We actually managed to get a 3DMark 11 benchmark run with the core as high as 1250MHz, but it wasn't stable anywhere really outside of 3DMark, though, so it wasn't a number we could use. If you're doing some benchmarking, though, you're bound to have a ton of fun. Crank the fan speed up to 100%, throw on the air conditioners or open up the windows if its winter, and you're going to get some great performance.

Features and build quality wise, the MSI GTX 770 2GB Lightning has it. It is really packed to the top with quality components. It's that reason it is the most expensive 2GB GTX 770 currently available and also the reason why it's also the highest clocking one we've tested to date.

The bundle isn't huge, but you do get everything needed to get up and running with no problem. The inclusion of the longer SLI cable is handy if you're going to be running two or three of these cards together. The V-Check Point cables, while very cool, are something that most consumers will more than likely not use.

While a little on the pricier side, the cost is easy to justify. You're not simply paying more money for a strong out of the box overclock and a fancy cooler. You're paying extra money for a video card that is going to perform stronger than the competition because of the high quality components MSI has used. The MSI GTX 770 2GB Lightning is the clear benchmark for what creating a near perfect video card should look like.


Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/5605/msi-geforce-gtx-770-lightning-2gb-overclocked-video-card-review/index24.html#5qjzfhxI5hA0C38J.99 

SteelSeries FLUX In-Ear Pro Gaming Headset




flux in ear proa
   As far back as i can remember whenever i would find the time to attend a large LAN event i would see dozens of people wearing full sized closed type gaming headsets since these solutions obviously offered the best possible noise isolation along with good positioning audio (at least for most models). Personally i also use a closed type gaming headset with my primary test system to avoid intruding in other people’s privacy at night when playing online MMOs line Planetside 2 so this never really came as a surprise to me. However things seem to be changing and so lately many gaming peripherals manufacturers have begun to release in-ear headsets (i prefer the term earsets) featuring drivers with exceptional audio specifications making them ideal for gaming use. SteelSeries hardly needs any introductions and as it was expected they were the first manufacturer to join this new trend so follow us as we take their latest FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset and put it through rigorous testing with all the latest gaming titles, movies and of course our favorite new and old tunes.

    From day one, SteelSeries has been focused on making professional gaming gear that provide meaningful benefits to gamers of all skill-level, with the most demanding being those gamers whose lively hood depends on the performance of our products. We believe, as most gamers do, in winning, not trying! What originally began as a small two-person operation in Copenhagen back in 2001 has become a global leader in professional gaming products. SteelSeries recognized the need for superior, high-quality professional gaming gear that would give players a competitive edge. Fast-forward to today, and we've come a long way since our first glass mousepad. We have global offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, providing an integrated portfolio of products designed specifically for gaming. Fueling our growth is you, the gamer!

    If I’ve learned anything after performing countless product reviews for the past years that is to never ever judge a book by its cover (or a product by its appearance obviously). What always matters most is the specifications list/table of each product and so specs-wise the brand new FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset by SteelSeries comes outfitted with two armature based technology drivers featuring a frequency response of 15Hz-22 KHz, 26 Ohm impedance and 105dB of sensitivity (@ 1KHz). Also since we are talking about a gaming headset naturally an in-line Omni-directional microphone is also present featuring a frequency response of 100Hz-10KHz and a sensitivity of -38dB. Just for the record these specifications (especially the ones of the armature drivers) are quite better than what we see with most regular closed type headsets however since the size of the drivers also plays a significant role in the output audio quality and volume levels it's a safe bet that the FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset will fall somewhat short on that end. Just how much is for us to find out during the rest of this review.


flux in ear prob
   Some of you may wonder how a tiny earset can compare to a full sized closed type headset and to be honest with all of you that were our initial response too, however after testing the FLUX In-Ear headset for the past 11 days our opinion has really changed for the best. I need only to say that thanks to the superior audio clarity (highs and mids are almost excellent) and depth offered by the FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset i was able to "spot" extra instruments used in various pop/rock/heavy metal songs with ease something that i usually have a hard time doing with the majority of the headsets and earsets I’ve used to date. Bass is more than sufficient for such a solution but naturally a small driver like the one used here can't compete in that aspect with larger closed type headsets so if you cherish bass above everything else then in general i wouldn't suggest choosing an earset. Positioning effects in games and movies were also not as good as the ones we get from closed type headsets but I would be lying if I said I was expecting something else, we are talking about a set of tiny earphones after all. Perhaps the only thing that did "annoy" us a bit was the weight of the headset so i really suggest using the over the ear attachments instead of using it as is (of course this comes down to personal preference).

   Since the FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset is the high-end in-ear solution by SteelSeries we did expect its price tag to reflect that and at USD129.99 inside the USA (Amazon.com) and 132.89Euros inside the EU (Amazon.de) it really does. Personally i don't think that the price tag is way more than it should be but that being said i do think that SteelSeries should slightly lower it to make the FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset more affordable for people who don't really want to spend over USD100/100Euros for a headset (especially for an earset). That aside with the FLUX In-Ear Pro Headset you are getting a high quality headset with superior audio clarity, near-excellent highs/mids and sufficient bass along with several extras including a carrying case, 3 extra sets of tips (including a memory foam one) and two different detachable ends so we can't think of something more we could ask from SteelSeries which is why we are giving them our Golden Award.

Sony's Xperia i1 'Honami' appear online

It looks like the smartphone camera megapixel wars could be heating up with a Japanese contender, Sony. New leaked images have arrived online from the upcoming Xperia i1 smartphone.

leaked_specs_on_sony_s_xperia_i1_honami_appear_online

The smartphone is currently known under its development name of 'Honami' and features a huge 20.7-megapixel ExmorRS camera sensor that is powered by Sony's Bionz image processing technology. The Xperia i1 will reportedly feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 SoC - a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, and a 5-inch 1080p display.

Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/news/31750/leaked-specs-on-sony-s-xperia-i1-honami-appear-online/index.html#PKzdqqJfTchvOUe5.99 

Point-of-Sale Integrated Address Verification Software Saves Time and Money

A lot of focus is placed on address verification software for direct mail marketers and customer service representatives, but that leaves a big market overlooked by many businesses: the cashiers at point-of-sale registers. Many stores have customer loyalty programs, store cards or another reason to store the customer's address information. The retail environment is high-paced, customers are in a hurry, and the data capture accuracy may not be sufficient for keeping accurate address records.

An integrated address verification software solution assists cashiers in doing their jobs properly and gives you valuable customer data. Address verification software provider QAS reports 66 percent of retail companies have target goals when it comes to their data accuracy numbers, and address verification software integration in point-of-sale systems helps businesses achieve those. Here's how:

Real-Time Address Verification



Point-of-sale machines keep advancing, so look for features that improve your business and make your employees' lives easier. Real-time address verification software runs alongside your point-of-sale operating system and software package. When the cashier or service desk representative inputs the address into the system, the software confirms the validity of the address along with the proper spelling and formatting of street names.

Identifying Buying Patterns



Target's point-of-sale system uses an interesting feature that forecasts major life events based on the buying patterns its customers exhibit. The algorithm Target uses predicts graduation, pregnancy and marriage, among other changes. It uses this information to customize the circulars and coupons sent out to various customer groups. When you use a reward system or another way of tracking customer loyalty to your brand and store, you gain valuable market research. Address verification software prevents duplicate records that scatter the customer's purchase history across several address variations.

Improving Data Quality



A recent survey by Experian QAS indicated 66 percent of retailers believed bad data quality had a major impact on their bottom lines. A single customer view (that is, one record per individual customer) cuts down on bad data floating around in your database. While no database is ever going to be 100 percent accurate, address verification helps keep your records up-to-date so you can send out direct mail campaigns and other targeted marketing without worrying about damaging your customers' confidence in the brand.

Reduce Overhead



Address verification software that requires no additional input from a cashier is a seamless way to handle addresses. Non-integrated software requires verifying information on a separate terminal. If you don't verify data when it is first captured, there is no opportunity to confirm corrections directly with the customer. It also makes your managers focus less on sales and more on learning yet another piece of software. Work smarter, not harder, with integrated address verification software.

Do you have any tips for integrating address verification software into point-of-sale systems? Share them in the comments.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Crucial M500 480GB SSD Review


crucial_m500_480gb_ssd_review

Just days ago we published reviews for the Crucial M500 120GB and 240GB. Prior to that, we published the M500 960GB, Crucial's flagship offering. So far it's been a Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide situation. The 960GB M500 is really good no matter what angle you look at it from.

On the other side of the capacity range, the 120GB and to a lesser extent, the 240GB have issues with sustained write speed and write latency. Both the 120GB and the 240GB use one die per package NAND - 8 packages for the 120GB and 16 packages for the 240GB. Both of the smaller capacity sizes also share the same 128MB DRAM buffer as well.

Crucial claims the M500 480GB shares the same 500MB/s sequential read and 400MB/s sequential write performance with the 960GB. The claimed IOPS performance is the same as well - 80,000 4K IOPS for both read and write. The 480GB model uses three-die per package and increases the DRAM buffer size to 512MB. This isn't the 1GB buffer found on the 960GB model or the 4-dies per package, but it could be good enough to get to competitive performance in the 512GB class category.

Today we're going to finish our coverage of the Crucial M500, at least until Crucial releases new firmware. We have a number of high capacity SSDs to compare the 480GB to and a number of benchmarks see where everything lands.



crucial_m500_480gb_ssd_review

When asked at CES about the M500 price points, we were told the 960GB model would hit the $600 price point and the other capacity would scale from there. Although not specifically stated, I took that to mean $300 for the 480GB, $150 for the 240GB and around $75 for the 120GB. At the time, the prices were very good, although other SSDs were hitting those price points from time to time with sales and incentives, like rebates.

The 960GB model hit the $600 price point for a short period and then Crucial couldn't make enough of them to keep up with demand. We've seen M500 960GB drives selling for as high as $750 this week. We're fairly certain IMFT isn't getting the yields out of 20nm that they would like and that's one of the reasons why 960GB M500 drives are so few and far between. If this is true, then there is no reason for Crucial to move the 480GB down to a $300 price point. I think we'll see this drive at that very low price point before it turns end of life, but I don't see the price going down anytime soon.

At $349.99 (Newegg pricing at the time of writing), the M500 480GB is quite attractive. LSI SandForce drives have performance issues at this capacity size and other Marvell based and Link A Media controlled drives cost more.


Performance wise, the 480GB model is the lowest capacity size that delivers enthusiast level performance. The M500, if you recall, is Crucial's answer to Samsung's 840 SSD with TLC flash. The price points in the smaller capacity sizes are more 840 Pro instead of 840, though. At the higher capacity sizes, the M500 hits the spot in both performance and price. All considered, the Crucial M500 480GB is one of the best buys in this capacity size right now.

Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/5604/crucial-m500-480gb-ssd-review/index13.html#ZkSMPjJJwr6GsPAk.99 

Elon Musk to use vacuum for your future transport

Over the last year so, Space X founder Elon Musk has been carefully dropping hints about a transportation project that could change the future of the world. Of course I'm talking about the Hyperloop Transport System that would take passengers on an underground rail ride that would transfer them from Los Angeles to New York City in just 45 minutes.

elon_musk_to_publish_hyperloop_transport_designs_by_august_12th

Today, Musk posted a tweet to his Twitter account that said he intends to publish the alpha designs for the Hyperloop Transport System by August 12. His tweet went on to ask that, once published, everyone supply him with critical feedback. For those who are out of the loop, the Hyperloop System will be comprised of vacuum-sealed tubes underground which will allow a magnetically levitated train to be hurled at high speeds without any wind resistance.

elon_musk_to_publish_hyperloop_transport_designs_by_august_12th

Initial reports suggest that the vehicle would be able to travel at 4,000 mph and since it's underground, it would be crash proof. Theoretically, there can be tunnels that break away from a main trunk tunnel and visit every major city in America. This could effectively mean that someone who resides in the low-cost areas such as Augusta, GA could work in an area with higher wages such as New York City. This would drastically change the economic landscape for America. Until August 12, we're left to speculate as to what really can happen.

Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/news/31709/elon-musk-to-publish-hyperloop-transport-designs-by-august-12/index.html#hFHemf4xhsLxOkIU.99 

HTC One Max will feature a 6-inch 1080p display and much more

We haven't been hearing much about the next smartphone from HTC, but our good friends over at Mobile Geeks have had their ear to the ground in Taiwan and are reporting on two new smartphones from HTC. The first, is the HTC One Mini, and the second, is the HTC One Max.

rumortt_htc_one_max_will_feature_a_6_inch_1080p_display_and_much_more

The HTC One Mini doesn't sound too bad at all, and feels like a slightly cut down Nexus 4 with its specs: a 4.3-inch 720p LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC (1.4GHz dual-core processor), 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal flash memory. But, the HTC One Max looks like it's going to be quite the smartphone to envy.

We're looking at a 6-inch 1080p Super LCD Display, Qualcomm's super-quick and feature-packed Snapdragon 800 SoC (2.3GHz quad-core processor), 2GB of RAM, 32/64GB of internal flash storage and a 3,200mAh battery. This thing could compete with the Galaxy Note III when it arrives later in the year. The HTC One Max is expected to launch in September.

Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/news/31699/rumortt-htc-one-max-will-feature-a-6-inch-1080p-display-and-much-more/index.html#4aV8ubRk8QjRvs1V.99 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Google Glass may get Play Store access soon

Third-party apps have begun trickling out for Glass, but if Google expects thousands of add-ons to make their way to the public, it's going to need a searchable database of available downloads. And that structure could very well come in the form of a Glass-optimized Play Store. Android and Me noticed a "Google Glass 1" entry pop up in the device field following Mountain View's Play refresh that hit the web last night. It's not possible to push apps directly to the wearable at the moment -- the Glass option is not currently live -- but it's entirely possible that the device could be selectable in the near future. Take a closer look in the screenshot at the source link below.

MSI GeForce GTX 770 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC Video Card Review



msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

While recently we've chosen to attack the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 700 series MSI Twin Frozr Gaming models with an iron fist via MSI Afterburner to see just what we're able to get out of them, today we'll be taking a little bit of a different approach. First we checked out the MSI GTX 760 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC and found ourselves impressed with what the model could do when we overclocked it.

If you wanted to spend a bit more money, though, then the MSI GTX 780 3GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC we looked at and overclocked recently might be a better option. Today, though, we're checking out the video card that sits in between these two models, the MIS GTX 770 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming OC. While we would also normally go down the path of overclocking this card, we won't be today for two reasons.

The first is that we've already looked at the GTX 770 overclocked a few times, but are yet to check out the performance of a pre-overclocked card at its pre-overclocked settings. The second reason is coming up straight behind the MSI GTX 770 2GB Twin Frozr Gaming will be the MSI GTX 770 2GB Lightning, a video card that is designed with overclocking in mind. For that reason we'll be diving into depth of MSI GTX 770 overclocking with that card in the coming days. With a couple of new benchmarks added into the mix, having a record of out of the box speeds is going to make our comparisons stronger in the future.

For now, though, we want to see the final piece of the Twin Frozr Gaming GTX 700 series cards. It's a series that has done a great job of impressing us and we'll have to see if the GTX 770 2GB is also able to do just as great a job. Let's get into the package and move on from there.


Package


msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

The overall box design is nearly identical to what we've seen out of the other Twin Frozr Gaming series based cards. The front gives us the series and model along with mention that it's an OC Edition in the corner. Turning over we cover some of the main features which include the Advanced Thermal Design that the Twin Frozr IV cooler brings, along with the higher quality Military Class 4 components.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

Moving into the bundle, it's pretty light. We've got a driver CD and manual, along with a DVI to VGA connector and two 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power connectors.


msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

You could instantly mistake it for one of the other GTX 700 Twin Frozr Gaming series video cards we've looked at recently. We've got a big Twin Frozr IV cooler sitting on top with two fans pushing air onto a massive heat sink that covers almost the entire PCB. You can see we've got heat pipes coming out both the top and bottom and the overall color scheme is black and red, one we've seen on all the new Gaming Series products.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

MSI has opted for a dual 8-pin PCIe power connector setup instead of the standard 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connector setup. Staying across the top and heading closer to the front, you can see two SLI connectors, giving us the ability to run up to three of these cards in SLI.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

Connectivity options are very standard with two Dual-Link DVI ports. One is DVI-D, while the other is DVI-I. Along with those, you can also see a HDMI and DisplayPort, along with some venting to let the hot air escape out the back of your case.


Specifications


Out of the box, a reference clocked GTX 770 comes in with a 1046MHz core, which is then boosted up to 1085MHz. As for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory, that carries a default clock of 7012MHz QDR.

msi_geforce_gtx_770_2gb_twin_frozr_gaming_oc_video_card_review

Looking above you can see that MSI has given a slight boost on the core to 1059MHz. While not a big gap between the reference clocks, the boost clock of 1111MHz is stronger looking against the reference 1085MHz.

As for the 2GB of GDDR5, like most companies, MSI chose not to touch it and hence comes in at the default 7012MHz QDR.

Eurocom launches thin, light and ultraportable 15.6” Electra Notebook with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, 4th generation Intel Core i7 processors and 7 hours battery life

Eurocom is now launching the thin and light, 15.6” Electra Notebook computer powered by NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics and 4thgeneration Intel Core i7 processors with 7 hours of battery life.

The EUROCOM Electra is a thin and light notebook with the power to play games, and the refined design to take to the boardroom or on the road to a conference.

Weighing just over two pounds and being an inch thick makes the EUROCOM Electra extremely easy to carry and transport, with no need for a power cord due to the 420 minutes (7 hours) of battery life.

“With the power to perform and battery to last the EUROCOM Electra is perfect for anyone” Mark Bialic, Eurocom President.

Get swept away by the beauty of the exquisite 15.6” IPS, matte display, which offers wide viewing angles, beautiful colour reproduction, great contrast and black levels.

“The EUROCOM Electra is a truly unique product, its combination of power, performance, battery life, size, portability and beautiful IPS display is unseen until now.” Mark Bialic.

The following 4th gen Intel Core i7 processors will be available in the EUROCOM Electra to offer outstanding performance and efficiency: Intel Core i7-4930MX with 4 cores and 8 threads running at 3 GHz with 8 MB L3 cache, Intel Core i7-4900MQ, Intel Core i7-4800MQ and Intel Core i7-4700MQ.

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics card has 384 CUDA cores running at 967 MHz with 2 GB GDDR3 memory with Optimus Technology for graphics performance when you want it and long battery life when you don’t.

For users who require substantial amount of storage, the Electra has support for three storage drives, with one mSATA, one 9.5mm standard drive bay and the third taking the place of the optical drive. A total of 2.48 TB of storage is currently offered.

Up to 16 GB DDR3-1600 memory is supported via two slots.

EUROCOM Electra Specifications:
·         Display: 15.6” FHD 1920x1080 IPS matte
·         Processor: Intel 4th Generation i7 Processors; up to Intel Core i7-4930MX Extreme
·         Graphics:  NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M; 2 GB DDR3
·         Memory: up to 16 GB; 2 RAM sockets; DDR3-1600
·         Storage: Up to 3 drives; 1 SATA 3 mSATA, 1 SATA 3 (9.5 mm), 1 SATA 2 (12.5mm)
·         Chipset: Intel HM 87
·         Audio:  High Definition Audio. Microphone. Two Speakers. Sound Blaster Cinema.
·         Card Reader: 9-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC/MS/MS Pro/MS Duo
·         Weight and Dimensions: 2.4 kg / 5.2 lbs.  74 x 252 x 14-26.8mm / 14.96 x 10.2 x 0.56-1.07inch
·         Battery: 62.16WH, 6 cell

Moto X waves hello, again

Moto X waves hello, again in leaked press render
All signs suggest that the Moto X will become official on August 1st, but if snapshotsand videos of the real thing aren't enough to satiate your curiosity... well, now there's a press render from @evleaks and partner site TheUnlockr. Naturally, stock Android has been key to the Moto X for some time now, but it seems that we might find subtle interface tweaks from Motorola, such as the transparent navigation bar, which is now highly visible. In all, there aren't many startling revelations in the latest leak, but one thing is for certain: the phone's face sure looks a lot cleaner now that Motorola's logo has been scrubbed away.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

ASUS MAXIMUS VI HERO (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review



asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

At the launch of the new Intel Haswell platform, the motherboard we used to test the new Core i7 4770K CPU was also the first motherboard we reviewed. The ASUS Z87-Expert impressed us and did a good job of setting a benchmark for boards to follow. Like we mentioned in that initial review, when it comes to the first board or two of a new platform, it doesn't always have the opportunity to shine in the best light.

As the weeks go on, though, and we get the chance to test more and more motherboards, while at the same time sometimes sourcing new CPUs, we're able to get a better idea of the platform. With over a month passed since the launch of the new Haswell platform and a new i7 4770K on hand that is clocking better than our initial one, we're looking forward to seeing what the latest ASUS board offers.

Unlike the initial ASUS board we looked at, the MAXIMUS VI HERO, as the name suggests, falls into the popular Republic Of Gamers or ROG category. One that has gained a strong reputation for performance. Of course that performance has always carried with it a significant price tag.

With the "more accessible while packing major ROG features" tag line over at the ASUS website under the new MAXIMUX VI HERO product, ASUS are trying to bring us ROG based boards at a more competitive price point - and this isn't the first time we've seen this. Both ASRock and GIGABYTE offer boards that focus on performance, but cut down on some of the bells and whistles, giving us a strong performing board at an excellent price point.

How's it going to work with ASUS, though, and the new MAXIMUS VI HERO? Well, there's only one way to find out, and that is to get down and dirty with it.


Package


asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

Looking at the front it's very typical ASUS ROG. We see a simple design with just the appropriate logos and the model clearly shown. Flipping open the box we can see across the top some of the main features are covered. These include the SurpremeFX audio, which is something we've seen for a while, along with GameFirst II and RAMDisk, two pieces of software. Across the bottom you can see a big push for the Extreme Engine Digi+III, which include higher quality power related components.

asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

As we move to the bottom you can see our first look at the board itself. We won't go into too much detail as we cover this more on the next page. Heading over to the back of the box you can again see some of the main features that are mentioned on the inside, along with the main specifications and a diagram of the back panel I/O ports.

asus_maximus_vi_hero_intel_z87_motherboard_review

Normally when we get ROG boards we expect a big bundle, but looking above, we don't really have that this time. You can see we've got the manual along with a driver CD and a sign to hang off your door handle. We've got the typical SATA cable labels, six SATA cables, rear I/O back plate, SLI cable and the EZConnector adapters for your front panel.