With the big push for everything in the cloud we have been focusing on ways to consumers and businesses to bring their data back into their own control. One of the least expensive methods for this is through the use of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. These are devices that have a minimum of two drive bays and allow for you to set up RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) Volume for performance and/or redundancy. Today in the Lab we have a five-bay NAS device from Thecus. This is an Atom based system with support for up to 15TB of RAW space and 3GB of memory. So let’s take a look at the Thecus N5550 and see what this $600 (empty) NAS has to offer as we dig deep into its design, build and features.
As motherboards get smaller and CPUs run cooler the demand for smaller cases grows. The idea of the small form factor case is nothing new but these days awe find the number of these is growing as well. The idea is simple; stuff a motherboard (complete with CPU, GPU etc), optical drive and some type of storage into a small area while keeping things cool, pretty easy right? We take a look at one entry from ThermalTake; The Element Q. This is a small form factor case that has a few nice things to offer (like a 200 Watt Power Supply). So let’s take a look that the Element Q and see how it handles a system built around the Intel Core i5 661 CPU.
When you talk about gaming, overclocking and performance there are always a couple of names that pop up. One name that is sure to pop up in the conversation is the name of Asus. Asus has been making great products (along with the not so great) for many years. However, with the launch of Intel’s Nehalem and AMD’s Phenom II Asus has really took off. Their flagship Republic of Gamers (ROG) line has simply been stellar. It is one of these that we are taking a look at today. In the lab we have the Asus ROG Rampage III Extreme (RIIIE). This $380 board packs a ton of features and performance into an attractive red and black ATX package. Let’s see just what $380 gets you for performance.
We have our third victim… um test subject in our continuing Network Attached Storage (NAS) device reviews. This time it is from a company with a fair recognizable name in the industry, NETGEAR. For many the name NETGEAR means low cost consumer networking products and maybe a lower reliability rating. We have to agree that some of that reputation was rightfully earned in the past, but they have since changed things around and are now making some fairly solid products for the consumer, SMBs and the enterprise. We have already covered their ProSafe WNDAP360 wireless access point and found it to be a well put together product. Now we are going to dive into their pro line of NAS products with the ReadNAS Pro 6. This is a 6 bay device that can support up to 12TB of RAW storage and has more than its share of features to boot. So let’s take a look at what you get with the ReadyNAS Pro 6 from NETGEAR.
Although the Intel Z77 Express chipset has been available for a while now we chose to wait until the official launch of Ivy Bridge to begin our reviews. After all the Z77 with Panther Point was designed to get the best performance when tied with Ivy Bridge so why not show that off first. To kick off our coverage of the Z77 we deiced to try out Intel’s reference design in the DZ77GA-70K. This performance desktop board from Intel is a great starting point and will give us the feel of how Intel meant things to work. So let’s get to it shall we?
For our second review of 2011 we thought we would take a look at a P67 board (despite all the drama). We chose the Asus P8P67 WS Revolution. This board (like you did not know) is part of Asus’ workstation line up, but that does not mean that it is boring. In fact the WS Revolution is anything but boring. It has been built with the professional enthusiast in mind. You get items like an NF200 chip to help support three way SLI and Crossfire, a 92% power efficiency rating, multiple SATA 3.0 ports (supported by Intel and Marvell), and dual Intel GBe LAN ports. But there is more to it than just the sum of its features. You also get an improved VRM (voltage regulation module), thicker traces for better signal transfer and quite a bit more. With all of this waiting to be tried out, let’s quit the intro chatter and dive into the P8P67 WS Revolution.
As we continue our coverage of both Ivy Bridge and the Z77 Express chipset we now head over to Gigabyte. Gigabyte is a company that has worked very hard for the position they have in the market. They were originally a manufacturer who concentrated on compatibility and stability rather than working on pushing the envelope in terms of speed and performance. However that was a long time ago. Now they are definitely working to get the most out of each product. We have watch them develop their line up since the P55 days and know that they are more than capable of putting out a motherboard (and other products) that can satisfy your performance needs. So with that in mind let’s take a look at what Gigabyte has built into the GA-Z77X-UD3H in terms of design choices and features.
The workstation server market is one that has been neglected in the mainstream technical media. Yes there are a few “upper-end” sites that cover the workstation arena but they tend be a little snobby at times and almost always talk over the heads of the average consumer. So we are going to try and bring some of that talk to you in plain English. To kick things off we have a very nice product. This is the first Dual socket 1366 motherboard in a standard ATX package. It has been brought to you by the Asus Work Station team. These guys are a very talented bunch and have made some workstation products that can even compete head to head with some of the Republic of Games boards that Asus has. So let’s introduce to you the Asus Z8NA-D6C.
Moving through some of the more prominent Z77 motherboards that are out right now we come to another one from Gigabyte. Here we have the Z77X-UD5H WiFi Motherboard (Model number GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB). The UD5H is typically their second in line for the top spot in Gigabyte’s food chain The Z77X-UD7 currently holds that top crown. However the UD5 boards are always very functional and tend to combine the best of both performance and features. With this review we will be covering not only the features of the Z77X-UD5H WiFi but also come of the design choices that go into the board to get you the performance you expect on the other end. So let’s get right to it and find out if the Z77X-UD5H WiFi is worth the $210 that Gigabyte is asking.
Intel is in full swing with the X79 and their Sandy Bridge-E CPUs. We have watched as they have broken and re-broken records for performance and in some cases overclocking. Behind all of this we have the X79 chipset with its quad-channel DDR3 configuration and some impressive power specifications. Intel has also brought back BCLK overclocking which has made things very interesting. We have a few X79 boards in the lab and are working on finding out just what they can do and how they actually work in the real world. One of these is also our second Gigabyte motherboard; the X79-UD5. This will also be our first video preview where we show you and talk about the design and features. So let’s dive in and see what the GA-X79-UD5 has to offer…