Introduction With the growing industry of digital media and streaming devices, the world of compact designed media players and HTPCs have grown quite a bit over the last few years. While some can suffice with a simple media device like the Roku, Western Digital Media Box and even the Chrome TV, these devices can sometimes only satisfy the basic general consumers’ needs. What about those in need of a little more power and flexibility? This is where the growing SFF (small form factor) HTPC market comes into play. Some will say you can build an HTPC with some basic PC components and drop them into a computer case and call it a day, but who wants a junky or bulky PC tower sitting in their entertainment center looking out of place. For users like us, we like our media center to be the center of attention… so you probably want something a little more aesthetically pleasing. Today, we have chance to look at a uniquely designed SFF PC chassis that can operate in complete silence. We have on our test table today the Streacom FC8 Evo Fanless Chassis. Also, when we refer to it being silent, we really mean it, because the Streacom FC8 Evo case features a completely fanless design. Perhaps its sleek aesthetics will prove to be a talking point of your entertainment center. Let’s review it and find out… Before we move forward with the exciting features, let’s first talk about who Streacom is: History Streacom was founded in 2010 by a small but experi...
Introduction The Z97 chipset motherboards have now gone into full swing, and with the Haswell refresh we saw a lot of new flavor in motherboard choices this time around. Today, we are going to be looking at the Biostar HiFi Z97WE Motherboard. At first glance, we have to be honest here… we didn’t really like the color combination Biostar used with the HiFi Z97WE Motherboard. The gold heatsinks with its yellow and black accents really don’t go well together aesthetically speaking. However, putting the aesthetics aside we are going to put the Biostar HiFi Z97WE to the test in terms of performance and see how well it stacks up with other Z97 Motherboards we have already tested. So before we dive in for a closer look, let’s talk about who Biostar is: In 1980,the IT industry was growing at a phenomenal rate. With wide experience in buying and selling electronic parts as well as researching on future demands for mainboards and add-on cards , the founder of BIOSTAR GROUP,established BIOSTAR MICROTECH INTERNATIONAL CORP in 1986. In the early years, BIOSTAR concentrated on the manufacture of mainboards built for XT form factor. To maintain steady business growth, BIOSTAR managed to keep a large portion of its capital and manpower invested on the design and development of new products, which at the same time has enabled it to stay competitive in the rapid evolution of the computer industry. BIOSTAR has enriched its competence in the design and manufacture of p...
A few months ago we had the honor of reviewing the new MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboards during the launch of the Z97 chipset. Today, we are here again to look at another MSI motherboard. We have MSI's flagship Gaming Motherboard the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC. At first glance the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC motherboard looks rather close aesthetically to the Gaming 5 we reviewed. While the looks are similiar, the Gaming 9 has some additional features and aesthetic improvements that make it stand out on its own. The first obvious improvement on the Gaming 9 motherboard is the shield that covers the rear I/O port section and the isolated PCB for its sound card. During the Z97 chipset many manufacturers started to switch over to using higher quality Japanese capacitors and while the caps were much better in quality they looked rather ugly on many of the new boards. It was nice to see that MSI designed the Gaming 9 series motherboard with the shield to cover up that section making the motherboard look much sexier. Let's dive in and put the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard to the test and see how it performed against its little brother the Gaming 5. But before we do that, let's talk a little about who MSI is.
Introduction Over the last few years we have seen ASRock gain movement in the motherboard arena. They have developed and revamped some rock solid motherboards at a very affordable price. In the past, we have seen many flagship motherboards from ASRock that have been top performers when it comes to overclocking and stability. Not only has ASRock performed well in the past, they have great aesthetic appeal too. Today, we have a chance to look at their newest variation from their already popular Fatal1ty series. This is the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard. With Haswell’s refresh chipset in full swing, we have tested a number of great performing motherboards. But today, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series has another advantage in this arena due to its aggressive pricing. So let’s move forward and put this motherboard to the test and see what it can do with our Intel 4770K Haswell Processor. Just in case you are unfamiliar with ASRock, let’s take a look at who they are first: ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept. ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard ...
Gigabyte as a motherboard manufacturer has been very successful over the last decade, and the last few years have only served to solidify that. In fact, Gigabyte has taken things a step further with their more recent motherboard releases. Their design team has revamped the styling and improved the lineup with feature-rich variations. Giagbyte's popular UDX series motherboards are frequently one of the first considered motherboards on the market since the Z77 release. With Gigabyte's Haswell refresh, the Z97 chipset, they aim to continue that tradition. Today we are going to be looking at the Z97X-SLI motherboard. By the name, it appears Gigabyte has geared this motherboard towards SLI as its defining feature. However, there is more than meets the eye. At a glance, this board looks a little more simplified when compared to the UDX series board. Will it pack the same punch? We are going to put the Z97X-SLI to the test to see how it stacks up to Gigabyte's reputation.
Introduction Aftermarket CPU Air Coolers flood the market with many options and styles today. With the vast number of options, we know that competition is fierce. Today, we are going to be looking at the Enermax ETS-N30 CPU cooler that was designed for the mid-range users who aren’t looking to spend a great deal of money. The Enermax ETS-N30 CPU Air Cooler sports a 92mm blue LED fan with a copper based heatsink that not only looks good, but also fits the bill for those in a budget crunch. Let’s take a look at the Enermax ETS-N30 CPU Cooler and what is has to offer. Before we do that, let’s talk little about who Enermax is: Enermax Technology Corporation is a world-renowned PC Power Supply Unit manufacturer. Since our establishment in 1990, we provide power supply products and peripherals like chassis, cooler, fan and keyboard with excellent quality and have won recognitions of consumers around the world. ENERMAX products are recommended by worldwide reviewers, and certain were granted by iF, Red Dot, Good Design and Taiwan Excellence Awards. Those are proven evidence of our top-notch quality and design competency recognized by the professionals. To develop an intensive sales network and better service customers around the world, Enermax has set up branch offices in Germany, France, U.S.A., Japan and China. We also have service offices and distributors in countries across Europe, America, Asia and Oceania. Our farsighted R & D capability is our key str...
All in one liquid cooling units are among the popular cooling solutions recently. With AIO units gaining popularity due to their cost to performance ratio, it doesn't come as a surprise. If we look back a mere 2 years ago, liquid AIO cooling units were few and far between, and only a hand of manufacturers offered this type cooling solution. However, today we find AIO units flooding the market, and selecting the right one can be a hard choice with so many readily available. Today are going to be looking at 2 units from Enermax that recently joined in on this market. We have the Enermax Liqtech 240 and Liqmax 120S AIO cooling units on the test bench. While choosing AIO units should be based on cooling performance, sometimes we find that aesthetics and software can be a deciding factor as well. Let's put both these units on our bench for testing today, but before we do that, let's talk about Enermax for just a moment.
ROG is the popular abbreviation for Asus' Republic of Gamers line of PC enthusiast products. The ROG series motherboards started out as the flagship line of the ASUS series motherboards as far back as the X58 chipset. Since then, it has featured the signature red and black aesthetic theme, which has carried on over the last few years, and has continued due to its popularity and success. Since that time, Asus has made several variations of their ROG line for multiple price points. Today, we are going to be looking at the ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Hero. This motherboard is the evolution of the previous Maximus Hero line, which was originally developed for the more budget conscious consumer during the Z87 chipset launch. With on-going success, ASUS continues to bring the Maximus Hero line, which is now feature packed and is available for any board within its price point. Let's put the ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Hero to the test to see if it can meet the great performance that ASUS is known for.
With the new Intel Processors on the horizon, motherboard manufacturers have gone into full force with the new updated chipsets. Today we are going to be looking at the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard. MSI really took the market strong since its release of the Z77 Gaming addition motherboards and has since grown its gamer series design into multiple platforms. With the Z87 chipset, MSI really made some great improvements not only in their design and aesthetics, but they also really stepped it up with an intuitive software system and improved GUI interface across the board. Today, we are going to put their newly developed MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard to the test. While the Gaming 5 is not the flagship motherboard, we are still very excited to see what updates this will bring to the future. Let's dive right in!
Kingston Technologies have been in the memory business over two decades and are known for their reliable and fast memory. Today we are going to be looking at Kingston's new HyperX line called "Fury". This new Fury line from Kingston will position itself against its current mainstream HyperX Genesis and high-end HyperX Predator lines. The HyperX Fury pretty much lines up with its competitor from Corsair the Vengeance line. This will give consumers more options and widens that market share. The Fury line was not designed to be the best of the best, but is meant to meet that middle line between your beginning users and the higher-end clients. We have speeds ranging from 1333MHz to 1866Mhz which will be available in 8GB single sticks or 8GB to 16GB kits. Let's put the Kingston HyperX Furry DDR3 1866MHz kit we got for review to the test and see how well it performs.
Portable storage devices like USB thumb drives have been around over the last decade or so. Despite this, we are starting to see a much higher use from such drives in the last few years, especially with capacity on them being larger and faster. However, sometimes storing data on such drives can increase the risk of having your data easily lost or stolen. Well, today we are going to be looking at a new Kingston 64GB DataTraveler Locker+ G3 USB 3.0 thumb drive that aims to help with that. What's so different about this drive? It includes some extra security which requires a password to access the drive! Kingston released a software based USB drive that will only give you access to the drive once the password you set up is input. The password encoded drive will help secure all the files stored, which will give you piece of mind that your data is safe for traveling or normal every day use. Today as we continue forward, we are going to test the Kingston 64GB DataTraveler Locker + G3 in multiple scenarios to evaluate the performance, security and reliability of the drive.
When AMD announced the launch of the new FM2+ based socket for the up coming "Kaveri" APU Processor, manufacturers were in full force with the launch of new motherboards. Over the next few weeks we caught a glimpse of the up coming releases, and its design and aesthetics caught our attention. In the past, we have seen some nice products for the APU socket line, but the motherboards were never as fancy as some of the enthusiast boards we have come to see with the higher end chipsets and processors, like the AMD FX Series, the 990FX chipset line. With AMD's FX Series road map unclear, and AMD's APU series processors rising success, it was only a matter of time before we start to see more enthusiast style motherboards hit the market. Today, we have the pleasure of taking a look at an ASUS motherboard that sports the fancy aesthetics and brings to the table the full enthusiast experience that the APU market has missed out on before. Today we have the ASUS A88X-Pro Motherboard which runs the flagship A88X chipset. This is one of the 3 chipsets launched for the FM2+ based Kaveri APU. So, the question that most of us have today is does all this fancy aesthetic meet the demands of an enthusiast's desire? Well today we are going to put the ASUS A88X Motherboard to the test and find out.
In Win has been known to release some pretty unique PC chassis; their design team have some pretty creative ideas when it comes to its aesthetics and overall style. Of course, that's not always true. Sometimes we've seen some pretty questionable designs and wonder what they were thinking? This can be true of any manufacturer. Regardless, the are other times when we just get that WOW factor. Today, we are going to look at an In Win chassis that gave us that WOW factor at first glance. The In Win 901 mini-ITX chassis has a very sleek and elegant design. Its aluminum construction combined with tempered glass just screams sophistication. Lets break down the In Win 901 Aluminum mini-ITX Chassis and see if this classy design meets the build quality and functionality to match its initial WOW factor.
During our visit with Kingston at CES 2014 this year, we had a chance to sit down with them to talk about the new and up-coming flash memory cards that are designed for HD Media use. With the advancing and growing media recording industry, faster and more reliable flash memory cards are on high demand, especially those looking for high capacity to store everything on one card. With the standards of 1080p recording, Ultra HD 2160p and 3D/2K&4K resolutions on the horizon, the number of pixels on recording devices can no longer suffice with the slower and lower capacity memory cards. It has been a couple of months since the initial talk and today we finally got our hands on the Kingston 64GB SDXC Class 3 UHS-I U3 flash memory card. Kingston developed this particular card in three available sizes, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The last one will be the memory card we take a look at today. Kingston was also nice enough to send us the Kingston Mobile Lite G3 SD and Micro-SD card USB 3.0 reader as an extra bonus to be able to test the memory card today. With the speed advancements in the SDXC memory card, we wanted to make sure there are no bottlenecks.
AMD's APU series market has really picked up pace over the last few years. The most recent updates to their current road map, included the new FM2+ socket A88X based chipset and the Kaveri Processor. This has really generated a great deal of interest with many of today's budget conscious consumers. However, with no updates to AMD's enthusiast FX series chip road map, AMD's APU series is really the only new technology we are seeing at the moment from its consumer line. With that said, we are excited to see that AMD is starting to put more budget friendly APU technology out in the market and we are going to shed some light on what to expect. Today we are looking at a very new low-budget APU inspired motherboard. It includes the Kabini SoC processor (which runs the Jaguar APU Cores) on a Radeon HD8000 series graphics base, and it does it all in a tight nit space. At the beginning of the year, ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) announced this Kabini SoC processing unit which houses an AMD A6-5200 CPU. It also includes a Radeon 8400 GPU all in a small mini-ITX form factor APU combo. Today we got our nitty gritty hands on this tiny power house to put it to the test. We are excited to see what this Quad Core A6-5200 APU can do. Before we jump into the details of the ECS KBN-I/5200 motherboard, lets take a look at ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems).