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Here a roundup of the latest reviews and articles:

3 Free Alternatives to Windows for Desktop PCs
AMD Mantle Performance: Thief & Battlefield 4
ASUS Radeon R9-290X Matrix Review
BitFenix FLO Headset Review
Corsair Hydro H75 & H105 Review
CyberpowerPC Zeus Mini-I 780 mITX System Review
Diamond Wireless Bluetooth Music Receiver Review
Func F-Series 10 XL Mousepad Review
GIGABYTE F2A88X-UP4 Review
Icy Dock Blizzard 3.5" SATA Enclosure
Intel 730 SSD Review
Interview OCZ - Recent history and SSD endurance
INWIN 901 Mini-ITX PC Chassis Review
Megacon 2014 Mega Gallery
Mini Review: Mophie Space Pack
Ozone Onda PRO Review
Return of the DirectX vs. OpenGL Debates
Roccat Kone Pure Mouse Review
Silverstone SST-PB03 AA Emergency Battery Pack Review
Wavemaster Stax Second Generation Speakers Review
WD My Cloud EX2 Personal Cloud Server Review
XFX R7 240 Review



3 Free Alternatives to Windows for Desktop PCs

It's an increasingly mobile world -- and the mobile future of Windows is dubious. To better accommodate end users, CIOs would be wise to consider these three alternatives to Windows on the desktop -- Chrome, Android and Ubuntu.

Read full article @ Computerworld

AMD Mantle Performance: Thief & Battlefield 4

AMD announced its Mantle API last year as a method of improving performance in games by allowing them to use your CPU and GPU more efficiently. AMD's Catalyst software lets applications speak directly to the Graphics Core Next architecture in your GPU or APU to help remove load from your CPU.

Although AMD says Mantle will be an open API, the company has yet to make its specification public. For now, Mantle is limited to parts built on AMD's 28nm Graphics Core Next architecture including the Radeon R9 290X, R9 290, R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X. We assume older cards will be left behind.

The biggest news for Mantle since being announced has been support from DICE's Frostbite 3 engine (and by extension, Battlefield 4). Given that BF4's cutting-edge graphics raised the benchmark for 3D visuals, it would be of great benefit for AMD to give Radeon owners a free performance boost.

Read full article @ Techspot

ASUS Radeon R9-290X Matrix Review

In this review we will benchmark and test the ASUS Radeon R9-290X Matrix Platinum edition. This Radeon R9-290X has been overhauled from A to Z. Yeah, the GPu might have remained in-tact, however the graphics card received an all custom 14-phase digital VRM based PCB, a luxurious cooler, some James Bond style gadgets for the hardcore overclockers and next to that, the product has been factory overclocked towards a nice 1050 MHz on the GPU core. Interesting stuffz we say !

The 2816 counting Shader processors based Hawaii chip is paired with a nice 4 GB GDDR5 memory running along a 512-bit memory interface. The card will clock towards 1080 MHz but is clocked at reference clocks on the GDDR5 memory. Hmmm, I just catch your attention ? Yeah I figured that much, let's go and check 'r out shall we ? So what does a Hawaii GPU bring into the garphics cards ? Oh what about 6 Billion transistors on a 438 mm2 Die, 512-bit Memory bus with 4 GB - 5.0 Gbps GDDR5 memory, Ultra HD ready, 5.6 TFLOPS of compute performance. Not bad for keywords, eh? AMD also has been focusing strongly at gaming in Ultra High Definition (UHD), so this will be a focus in our review as well. Will we be able to play the hottest games at that whopping 8.2 Mpixels at a 3840x2160 resolution @ 60 Hz.

Read full article @ Guru3D

BitFenix FLO Headset Review

Even though I am often among the first to embrace new technologies, I am still a purist in many respects. It could be due to having been through "the next big thing" so many times, only to have it end with dismally disappointing results. It could also stem from many of the newer technologies by skewed wholly for cost and convenience rather than quality, and that convenience being the deciding factor on the item's popularity. But, if the entire fast food industry was built off this concept, it can obviously be brought over to technology.

Thankfully, most of the time it is easy to tell which of the manufacturers of a technology are developing and which are merely jumping on the bandwagon in an area they have little experience with. For example, with gaming booming right now we are seeing a ton of gaming peripherals coming at us from all sides. Legendary audio headset manufacturer Sennheiser has even crossed over to meet the needs of the gamer with high-end, gaming specific headsets. This actually makes perfect sense, or at least more sense than say....G. Skill marketing a gaming headset. These types of crossovers rarely work out well, but there are certainly notable exceptions. When you think of ASUS, audio is likely not your first thought. However ASUS designs and manufactures quite a few highly acclaimed high-end audio pieces that are not all PC dependent. We all know BitFenix for their cases, and now they are looking to join the list of crossover exceptions with their first audio piece, the Flo headset.

Read full article @ HiTech Legion

Corsair Hydro H75 & H105 Review

It may not seem like it, but it has now been over a year since Corsair released their cutting edge H60i and H100i All In One CPU water coolers. Now it’s time for an update as the Hydro H75 and H105 are being rolled out.

In many ways the H60i and H100i are still considered among the best solutions available in their respective categories so some may be wondering why they’re being phased out. The answer to tthat is simple: competition breeds innovation. Despite combining a straightforward installation process, user friendly software and excellent -for their class - cooling potential, other companies homed in on the 120mm form factor. Now that market has become exceedingly crowded with everyone from Cooler Master to Silverstone to Antec releasing their own unique designs which typically surpass H60i and H100i in both performance and ease of use.

With such hungry competition methodically eating away at their foothold on the market, it comes as no surprise to see Corsair once again turning their attention back to single and dual 120mm designs. To do this, they are once again looking towards Asetek as their OEM of choice for the H75 and H105. This means we will see many things in common with the H55, H90 and H110. Unfortunately, since Asetek is being used here, these new units lack the “I” suffix which denotes compatibility with Corsair’s LINK application. This means the H75 and H105 will have to rely upon motherboard-based inputs for fan speed control rather than using a convenient Windows centric hub-based design.

Read full article @ Hardware Canucks

CyberpowerPC Zeus Mini-I 780 mITX System Review

CYBERPOWER PC is one of the premier gaming PC boutiques out there these days, and recently they sent out there Zeus Mini-I 780 for us to play with! The Zeus Mini-I 780 is a small form factor PC, which are becoming more and more popular these days. People have realized that you can get all the performance of a ginormous system, with a fraction of the size of a chassis like Corsairs ‘Godzilla’ 900D. While SFF systems such as the Zeus Mini-I 780 have the advantage of taking up less of the precious desktop real estate, the small size can be a double edged sword. It can be a little on the challenging side to fit some of the latest and greatest components inside the chassis. We will look at that in greater detail later down the line, but CYBERPOWER PC was able to shoe horn some great features into their custom designed chassis. CYBERPOWER PC started the prices of the various Zeus Mini PC’s at only $599 for the Zeus Mini-I 100, the Zeus Mini-I 780 I have on hand starts at $1509...

Read full article @ Legit Reviews

Diamond Wireless Bluetooth Music Receiver Review

Over the past few months I have been hooking up my phone to my Stereo or PC speakers via a 3.5mm audio jack. Which also means I have to leave it plugged in next to my TV or my PC and when I receive a phone call I then have to remove the phone and answer and redo the whole process when I get off the phone. I have a very nice home theatre system and really don’t feel the need to upgrade to get the special perks of some of the new technology. Portable Bluetooth speakers are great when you’re out on the go but not when you want to be in your house and want to listen to music on your home theatre system. Well over the past few years there have been some options, but they all cost a good chunk of change. A few weeks ago I received the Diamond Wireless Music Receiver which broadcasts over Bluetooth. Lets take a look and see if this wireless music receiver will fit your needs in your house.

Read full article @ ThinkComputers.org

Func F-Series 10 XL Mousepad Review

Yesterday I reviewed the Func MS-3² gaming mouse and today I have the companion to it, the Func F-Series 10 XL gaming mousepad. I have a large desk so I like large mousepads and this one comes in at 38×29 cm or 15×11.5 but it’s only 2mm or about .1 inches thick. The F-Series 10 XL is a hard surface pad which is very finely textured giving it very little resistance allowing your mouse of choice to just glide across it almost effortlessly. So read on to learn more…

Read full article @ TestFreaks

GIGABYTE F2A88X-UP4 Review

In terms of motherboard output, there seems a clear dichotomy between AMD based motherboards and Intel motherboards. Innovation starts on the higher selling Intel ATX products, whereas AMD is more focused on smaller form factors. With the Kaveri APUs moving to more integrated graphics power, this makes sense. However some of those high-end innovations do make it over to the AMD + ATX crowd, which is what GIGABYTE has done with the F2A88X-UP4. The F2A88X-UP4 is an AMD FM2+ motherboard with reinforced power delivery which we are reviewing today.

Read full article @ Anandtech

Icy Dock Blizzard 3.5" SATA Enclosure

External enclosures have always been useful in turning veteran hard drives from old machines back into useful storage mediums but lately they have been making a comeback with more and more focus being placed on mobility and flexibility. Today we take a look at a new form of external enclosure with performance on its mind. The Blizzard series external enclosure from Icy Dock promises to give use the mobility we desire with not swap and plug-n-play functionality with the ability to keep our drives icy cool during operation.

Read full article @ LanOC Reviews

Intel 730 SSD Review

Recently Intel released their latest range of SSDs, the 730 Series and today we take a look at the 480GB model in single drive and Raid 0 while also throwing in a few tests on the 240GB too.

Read full article @ HardwareHeaven.com

Interview OCZ - Recent history and SSD endurance

In the past few months OCZ has undergone quite a lot of change, whereas the buyout by Toshiba Group certainly created most headlines. A few more years back, when OCZ released their first SSDs, not all products have been as reliable as the company wanted them to be, but still, OCZ always pushed hard to make sure to stay at the forefront of technological developments, ensuring highest competitiveness. In this interview Tobias Brinkmann - Vice President, Global Marketing - and Daryl Lang - Senior Vice President Product Management - are going to answer a few questions we've always wanted to ask.

Read full article @ ocaholic

INWIN 901 Mini-ITX PC Chassis Review

It is not often that find a product that is as strikingly gorgeous as it is functional, especially when it takes the form of a PC chassis. As we introduced previously, INWIN recently released the 901 Mini-ITX PC Chassis, and we have the opportunity to take an in-depth look. At the same time, INWIN released the 904 ATX chassis to accommodate those who are looking to build a larger system. However, for those wishing for a chassis that parallels INWIN contemporary and innovate design model, the 904 Mini-ITX chassis is an excellent choice, as it’s small form factor is sleek and intriguing.

Read full article @ TechnologyX

Megacon 2014 Mega Gallery

Megacon 2014 hit Orlando over the weekend with over 75,000+ attendees, awesome celebrity appearances including Stan Lee and Karl Urban, and special events planned over 3 days. People of all ages decended upon Orlando bringing with them over 28 Million in revenue for the city and businesses there. Costumed superheros reigned and villians ran amok wall to wall. It was THE go to venue for finding your favorite comic book, TV series, and specialized genre accessories.

Read full article @ TechwareLabs.com

Mini Review: Mophie Space Pack

The iPhone 5 and 5S are excellent to the point of near perfection, but there are a few nagging things about them that could use improvement. Luckily, the Mophie Space Pack hits on all those pain points.The Mophie Space Pack can be thought of as a 3-in-1 iPhone accessory: a case, an extra battery pack and an additional storage pack. While it envelops and protects the phone from most scratches and drops, it also gives the phone more juice and additional memory.

Read full article @ Techradar

Ozone Onda PRO Review

Ozone, in their competitive battle for gamers hearts, have incorporated technologies in the new Onda Pro gaming headset that have targeted some of the key hurdles gamers face with their audio. Starting with a new Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to improve the quality of compressed audio, an Environmental Noise cancelling (ENC) technology using dual microphones and a lightweight headband and frame for long periods of comfort.

On first impression, the design seems to share the OEM with the CM Storm Ceres 300, which is potentially a smart idea due to the proven comfort of this particular design. Various visual changes of note on the Onda Pro are, a soft PU leather coated padding is used on the earcups and it uses a plug and play USB connection rather than a 3.5mm jack.

Read full article @ Vortez

Return of the DirectX vs. OpenGL Debates

With the announcement of DirectX 12 features like low-level programming, it appears we're having a revival of the DirectX vs. OpenGL debates—and we can toss AMD's Mantle into the mix in place of Glide (RIP 3dfx). I was around back in the days of the flame wars between OGL and DX1/2/3 devotees, with id Software's John Carmack and others weighing in on behalf of OGL at the time. As Microsoft continued to add features to DX, and with a healthy dose of marketing muscle, the subject mostly faded away after a few years. Today, the vast majority of Windows games run on DirectX, but with mobile platforms predominantly using variants of OpenGL (i.e. smartphones and tablets use a subset called OpenGL ES—the ES being for "Embedded Systems") we're seeing a bit of a resurgence in OGL use. There's also the increasing support of Linux and OS X, making a cross-platform grapics API even more desirable.

At the Game Developers Conference 2014, in a panel including NVIDIA's Cass Everitt and John McDonald, AMD's Graham Sellers, and Intel's Tim Foley, explanations and demonstrations were given suggesting OpenGL could unlock as much as a 7X to 15X improvement in performance. Even without fine tuning, they note that in general OpenGL code is around 1.3X faster than DirectX. It almost makes you wonder why we ever settled for DirectX in the first place—particularly considering many developers felt DirectX code was always a bit more complex than OpenGL code. Anyway, if you have an interest in graphics programming (or happen to be a game developer), you can find a full set of 130 slides from the presentation on NVIDIA's blog. Not surprisingly, Valve is also promoting OpenGL in various ways; the same link also has a video from a couple weeks back at Steam Dev Days covering the same topic.

Read full article @ Anandtech

Roccat Kone Pure Mouse Review

Roccat has recently introduced their sixth mouse in the Kone line up: the Kone Pure. Benchmark Review’s has had the opportunity to take the new Roccat Kone Pure for a spin and see what is so different from the previous iterations. This gaming mouse sports an all new laser sensor for the ultimate in sensitivity, perfect for ultra high monitor resolutions.

Read full article @ Benchmark Reviews

Silverstone SST-PB03 AA Emergency Battery Pack Review

In our highly connected digital worlds, keeping on touch with everyone around us is virtually mandatory and as a result we find ourselves demanding more and more battery life from our mobile devices and smart phones. Naturally there is only so much power that can be crammed in to the shell of a smart phone and short of having a very bulky handset, the only real option for many of us is to stick near to a power source where we can give our phones a quick boost of power, although this is both inconvenient and unpractical. To keep us going, portable battery packs that allow us to charge our phones on the go have started cropping up through multiple vendors, making them a commodity for those of us that use our phones a lot whilst out on the go – myself being a prime example.

When it comes to selecting the right battery pack for your budget or needs, the number of options to choose from is huge and the vendors themselves know this. With the demand so high and the number of competing items growing at a rapid rate, every manufacturer is doing the best they can to set their products apart from the rest of the crowd, whether it be through design to suit a particular set of users, or through features and functionality by adding in additional features and accessories such as carry bags, torches, larger capacities and wireless charging capabilities. Whilst all off these products have a variety of designs and capacities, they all have internal batteries and when these come to the end of their working life, there is no option but to buy a new pack. Silverstone however believe they have to the solution to the problem of battery life, simply by removing the battery out of the equation, leaving the user the freedom to select their own batteries and thus the freedom to get a larger capacity of battery for a longer charge time,

Built into a metal casing with a plastic inside, Silverstone’s PB03 barging pack features a small LED light and also doubles up as an AA battery charger. With the cost of portable battery packs spread out across a fairly wide range of budgets, the real question to ask is whether you are better off in getting the PB03 and your own set of batteries, or should we stick to the plug and play units that require no user interaction apart from charging?

Read full article @ eTeknix

Wavemaster Stax Second Generation Speakers Review

Wavemaster designs speakers in Germany and then manufactures in the Far East. It’s a clever partnership that allows them to get the best of both worlds: Teutonic desire for engineering perfection with a Chinese love of cost control and affordability. In 2013, that resulted in the most impressive set of speakers we saw all year – the Stax. The product has evolved and today we listen out for improvements in the Second Generation model.

Read full article @ KitGuru

WD My Cloud EX2 Personal Cloud Server Review

Western Digital’s original My Cloud personal cloud storage solution brought a unique approach to the NAS segment, for individuals and the SOHO crowd, and the subsequent multi-bay My Cloud EX4 offered a beastly amount of storage--8TB, 12TB, or 16TB--via the same “My Cloud” platform.

WD introduced the My Cloud EX2 as something of a ‘tweener' solution, bringing a two-bay option that isn’t as hard on the wallet as the EX4 yet offers a copious amount of storage capacity and more powerful features such as RAID...

Read full article @ HotHardware.com

XFX R7 240 Review

Obviously this line of graphics cards is not intended for hardcore gaming, but for its intended uses it does well. As always, for just a little more money, there are more features higher up. This is the bottom rank of the AMD GPU ladder, but it does have roles to fill. Taking that into consideration, none of those are cons. This card operated perfectly and gave me no issues. As a reminder of the prior points I have listed performance as a con, but really it shouldn't be held against it.

Read full article @ OCC