Asrock DeskMini Z370 GTX 1060 Review

For such a small Computer, the DeskMini PC by Asrock looks to pack a lot of power in its punch.  Based on the 8th Generation Intel processor, you can expect fast speed and reliability.  This currently comes installed with Windows 10.  I am excited about getting my hands on this one to check it out.  It is one nice desktop computer.

Asrock DeskMini Z370 GTX 1060 Review

Today we’re checking out Asrock’s latest DeskMini PC, a name that may ring a bell if you’ve read our previous coverage on the original entry to this compact computer. The latest version that we have on hand today looks exactly the same as the last DeskMini and has the same name as the previous two DeskMinis.


The first DeskMini — the DeskMini 110 — was released in 2016 and sported a tiny 1.92L case that housed an H110-based Micro-STX motherboard with support for 6th and then 7th generation Core processors. However, the DeskMini 110 was so small it couldn’t actually handle a discrete graphics card, so it was basically an office PC.


That situation changed last year as the series was updated with the DeskMini GTX/RX which features support for an MXM discrete mobile GPU that can be installed thanks to a beefier B250 or Z270-based Micro-STX motherboard, which increased the case capacity to 2.7L but still made for a very compact unit.


Now we have another new DeskMini GTX/RX, this time based on Intel’s 8th generation Core series. To get around this confusion, retailers have been putting the chipset in the product title to make it easier for shoppers to work out which system they’re actually buying.


The latest DeskMini Z370 comes with either an GTX 1060 or GTX 1080 in the MXM form-factor pre-installed. Alternatively, you can buy Asrock’s system without a discrete graphics card but be aware that securing a new MXM GPUs after the fact will be nearly impossible as they are not sold at retail as you can generally only get them from salvaged laptops.


Currently there doesn’t appear to be any DeskMini Z370 models on sale but Asrock says the MSRP for the GTX 1060 model is $850. The previous generation B250 DeskMinis are on sale and the GTX 1060 version costs a cool $800 with the GTX 1080 model priced at $1,500 , so while the new Z370 models aren’t that much more expensive, $850 is getting toward the pricier side of things for this little PC and we’re keen to see what more it offers over the previous versions.


Included in the package is the tiny 2.7L case and a 220w external power brick that is quite a large volume itself at 0.7L, or 26% of the DeskMini’s total size. Along with the case and power supply you also get a custom Z370M-STX MXM motherboard that’s 2″ longer than your typical Micro-STX motherboard and this extra real-estate has been used to squeeze in an MXM slot supporting up to Type B+ cards at 113mm long.


Because we have the GTX 1060 DeskMini, ours naturally came with a GTX 1060 MXM graphics card pre-installed. To get up and running you’ll need to bring your own Coffee Lake CPU as well as some DDR4 SO-DIMM memory and storage. Assuming you went with a Core i5-8400 ( $180 ), 16GB of DDR4-2400 ( $170 ) and a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro ( $300 ) for example then you’d be pitching in an extra $650 on top of the $850 for the DeskMini, bringing the total bill for the GTX 1060 model to at least $1,450.


That’s probably not too bad when you can expect to pay around $400 alone for a GTX 1060, but we’ll discuss pricing more at the end of the review. For now let’s take a look around the unit before checking out the hardware inside. Externally, the all-black case features a brushed aluminium front with clean lines. The circular power button blends in nicely as does the front I/O which […]

Recently Acer Switch 7 Benchmark Testing Received Rave Reviews

Its strange how much things have changed in 10 years.  I remember when Acer was known as a cheap low quality brand.  But these days, they are one of the best on the market at a reasonable price.  My favorite computer at home is my Acer touchscreen all in one PC.  I have been very please with it.  Check us out for all of your computer hardware reviews and the latest computer tips.

The Acer Switch 7 looks like a very nice tablet .  Check out the following infographics and then read all about the Acer Switch below.Acer Switch 7 Review



Acer’s brand new and very interesting Switch 7 is a high-

end tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard, complete with Black Edition branding. What makes the Switch 7 unique is that it’s a fanless 13.5-inch tablet, yet despite what should be obvious thermal constraints, Acer has crammed in both an Intel Core i7-8550U processor along with discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics.

Acer Switch 7 Review

Discrete GPUs are usually restricted to 15-inch laptops, with the occasional 14-inch unit seen in the wild. So it’s a feat in itself that the Switch 7, a much smaller device, contains a discrete GPU. But on top of that, you get an Intel quad-core CPU without any fans, instead using what Acer calls a “dual LiquidLoop” cooling solution to send heat away from these components and distribute it around the chassis.

Acer Switch 7 Review

That’s entirely passive cooling for a 15W CPU and around a 25W GPU, all in a 13-inch tablet form factor. Other base hardware includes 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, along with a 2256×1504 (3:2 aspect ratio) IPS LCD, but just a 35.1 Wh battery.


Cramming a discrete GPU into this device has taken its toll in at least one area, and that appears to be the battery capacity. For now I want to talk about the build quality of the Switch 7. This is a premium priced product at $1700, so I was a tad disappointed with the final build, both tablet and the included keyboard cover.


The materials used are good – smooth glass on the front, metal on the sides and rear – but there are a lot of seams in the construction, particularly around the I/O and around the display, which doesn’t make it look or feel as high-end as the best tablet or laptop designs out there.


The Microsoft Surface Pro , for example, features a more refined metal design in keeping with its price tag. The are also a few alignment and symmetry issues with the Switch 7 that you wouldn’t get with a better designed product. The webcam, for example, is offset to the right by a large distance for seemingly no good reason.


Even worse is the display position and bezels: the right-side bezel is about 2mm larger than the left-side bezel, leaving the display slightly off center. As soon as I saw the unit I thought something wasn’t quite right about the bezels, and after about 10 measurements just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, I indeed confirmed one bezel is larger than the other. Certainly a bizarre design choice.


The hinged kickstand assembly is a neat concept, in that it automatically pops out the kickstand when the bottom edge of the tablet contacts your desk. There are two buttons located along this bottom edge that release the spring-loaded hinge mechanism, and from there you can adjust the exact angle to your liking.


It’s a convenient system, as all you have to do is place the tablet on your desk and it’s already propped up and ready to use, whether you have the keyboard attached or not. However the system does have a few significant flaws. The stand itself doesn’t look great, at least in my opinion, and the groove it leaves in the rear of the tablet is a dust magnet.


After just a few days, dust and dirt had already accumulated in the hinge cavity that’s hard to remove or clean without compressed air. You don’t get this issue with the flat-kickstand of the Surface Pro. While you can set an angle for the kickstand, and it can go fairly flat like the Surface […]

Helpful Asus ROG Strix GL503VD Gaming Laptop Review


Even if you’re something of a PC gamer, you don’t necessarily need a powerful gaming laptop. Some customers are simply looking for a laptop with great build quality and features, plus a graphics chip just powerful enough to run some of their favorite games. Alas, many laptop vendors implement only low-end graphics hardware into non-gaming models, providing casual gamers an inferior experience.


An ideal chassis for casual gaming would be something like the Asus ROG Strix GL502 , which we reviewed in the middle of 2017. As it turns out, Asus has updated the ROG Strix with the GL503VD, a brand-new model with an updated chassis. Specifications Packaging Asus’ packaging is stylized with black ink and ROG and Asus logos, nearly identical with the previously reviewed GL502’s wrappings


. The top of the box has a plastic carrying handle, which makes transporting the laptop easy. The box interior is slightly updated. Gone is the plain brown cardboard, which is replaced by black cardboard with a holographic ROG logo on the inside cover. You’ll find the Strix on the very top, wrapped in cloth. Beneath the laptop are additional compartments housing the AC power cord, the 240V power brick, an information booklet, and a warranty card. The packaging is very straightforward. The Strix is well-protected, and the addition of black cardboard makes the presentation feel slightly more upscale. The rest of the presentation is the same, as nothing needed to be changed in the first place. Exterior Our first impression when we unboxed the Asus ROG Strix GL503VD was,

“ike the Asus Zephyrus.” The brushed-metal finish is a spitting image of the latter, with everything from the same finish to the chrome logo. Some key differences are the direction in which the brushed finish runs; the Zephyrus finish has a 45° brushed texture on the top half of the laptop and a 90° texture running vertically. The Strix is also split down the middle by a diagonal accent, ‘


but the brushed metal bias runs at 45° on both portions. Our only gripe with the finish is that fingerprints and smudges easily appear after normal use. This is a symptom all metal finishes present, and the Strix is no exception.


Finally, the Strix has “REPUBLIC OF GAMERS” printed in a subtle, almost unnoticeable black on the very bottom of the lid, whereas the Zephyrus has it printed in white. Similarly, the Strix has a reflective chrome ROG logo on the right side of the lid. When the system is powered, red LED lighting will emanate from behind the chrome. The main difference is the pattern, or rather the lack thereof, that shines through the logo. The Strix’s LEDs emit a solid light through the chrome logo, whereas the Zephyrus logo shines with a pindot pattern.


Speaking of LEDs, the Zephyrus’ diagonal accent has a grille from which additional red lighting emits; the Strix’s diagonal accent has no such lighting. The surface surrounding the input devices is constructed out of plastic, much like on the GL502, but the brushed-and-diagonal aesthetic from the lid makes its way here, as well.


The diagonal edge starts from the top left corner and ends at the bottom right corner. Above the diagonal, the plastic surface features a brushed texture, whereas the surface below the diagonal edge is smooth.


As a result, the smudges and fingerprints don’t show up as easily on the top right portion of the plastic surface, but are quite prominent on the bottom left half. Various logos decorate this surface: a Strix to the top left of the keyboard, […]

Radeon RX Vega GPUs are next to impossible to buy: Is AMD hitting pause or simply prioritizing Frontier Edition?

I have been a big fan of AMD products for years. This looks to be a state of the art graphics card at a reasonable price. Find more computer hardware advice and computer tips

We recently noticed some information regarding the poor availability of AMD’s Radeon RX Vega GPUs that we’d like share with you by way of conjecture. Before we get going, as a reminder, AMD released the Vega 56 and Vega 64 graphics cards back in August, some five months ago. At the time they sold out in seconds and since then supply has been unable to meet demand with miners being mostly to blame for this. Despite the poor availability, a good many of you have been asking us to review custom RX Vega graphics cards from one of AMD’s partners. This request likely comes at least in part due to my comments openly bashing AMD’s reference design, claiming that it’s hot, loud and that you simply shouldn’t buy it. Many custom models have been announced, but getting your hands on any one of them is next to impossible — I can’t even get one, despite AMD saying that it’s willing to support me directly. I’ve heard for months that the cards are coming, until last week when two of AMD’s board partners told me that they wouldn’t be coming after all. This had me confused and after making a few more inquiries it was confirmed by one exclusive partner and one massive partner that the custom cards have been effectively canceled as the companies are no longer receiving Vega 56 and 64 GPUs from AMD, and its reference models weren’t being supplied either. No Vega graphics cards were being sold by these partners. That didn’t seem right to me, so I dug a little more. First I went to check Newegg to see who has RX Vega cards in stock and specifically what models/brands, but I found nothing! Newegg did list some custom Gigabyte models at insane prices with no stock along with a single PowerColor model, also out of stock, as well as a reference model sold by XFX which was likewise unavailable. What was in stock was the ‘ Vega Frontier Edition ‘ and I’ll come back to that shortly. Every other US retailer I checked also showed zero stock for the Vega 56 and Vega 64. It’s the same story for Australian retailers. In fact, PC Case Gear now list just a single Vega 56 model, which is of course out of stock. I also tried the AMD shop on their official website and checked all the links they provide to various retailers — none of them had stock for either model. I also decided to have a look at pre-built systems, though there are almost none that feature RX Vega graphics cards. That said I do know of one, a CybertronPC packing an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X with a reference RX Vega 64 graphics card at Best Buy, who has more than two dozen system to choose from yet only with an RX Vega card inside. And guess what? It’s the only PC out of stock. There’s one exception to the Vega’s availability and that’s Apple. AMD obviously wouldn’t want to upset the apple cart, so you can still buy a horrendously overpriced iMac Pro to get a Vega 56 or Vega 64 graphics card. It’s only $8,260 for the Vega 64 version with an eight-core Xeon CPU, 32GB of memory and a 1TB SSD. At this point, I realized two things: there didn’t appear to be a single Vega 56 or 64 card in stock anywhere in the US or Australia. That’s not completely unusual for Vega, but I was intrigued by that detail knowing that AMD’s partners told me the company isn’t currently […]

Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell XPS 13 ReviewAs I am sure you have heard me rant before. I still do not recommend Dell computer hardware of any kind. For years, I referred all of my customers to Dell. But after too many bad experiences, I just can’t send my customers to experience what I have seen time and time again. I have discussed them in previous computer tips posts.

Today we’re taking a look at the brand new Dell XPS 13 9560 . You won’t be able to tell from the outside, but the latest XPS 13 has received a single important update compared to the model that launched towards the end of 2016: the move to Intel’s 8th-gen Kaby Lake-R processors.


Even though it’s a simple CPU swap, it’s a big upgrade for the XPS 13 considering the performance difference between the dual-core Kaby used previously, and the new quad-core parts. Initial testing we performed a few months ago showed performance gains nearing 50% , but of course, we’ll explore more of that later.


To start with I wanted to discuss the design of the XPS 13, which has changed very little in nearly three years since the first Broadwell model launched. We’ve seen some minor additions, like the fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello and a USB-C port, but the basics with its ultra-slim bezels have remained much the same. Some reviews floating around suggest the design of the XPS 13 is a bit stale and needs to be updated to remain relevant up against other modern ultraportables.


While I agree the design is a bit stale, I don’t think it needs to be updated. When the XPS 13 launched in early 2015, the design was far ahead of the competition, delivering a massive display in a smaller chassis. A couple of years later and the XPS 13 design isn’t the standout it once was, having competitors lifting their game, but it’s still pretty good and holds its own against other manufacturer’s offerings.


In fact, we’re still not at the point where all other laptops are maximizing screen real estate and minimizing bezels, though we’re slowly getting there. If you haven’t seen an XPS 13 before, the build uses aluminium on the lid and underside, plus soft touch carbon fiber around the keyboard and trackpad.


The two-tone design looks fantastic, and it feels great to hold when shut thanks to the matte metal finish. The keyboard palm rest does accumulate fingerprints rather easily, though it too feels great when typing. Dell isn’t super concerned with making the slimmest or lightest laptop, which is why the XPS 13 sits at up to 15mm thick, and 1.3 kg (2.8 lbs) for the touchscreen model.


This is a good choice anyway, as it allows them to cram in a large 60 Wh battery and keep the overall footprint small. The XPS 13 is still one of the smallest 13-inch notebooks you can buy. The slim bezel experience with the XPS 13 is great, though you will have to live with some trade-offs like the less-than-ideal webcam placement.


You’ll also have to choose between the 1080p non-touch and QHD+ touchscreen display options, which are the same as earlier models: the higher-resolution display comes with a battery life hit, though it’s a fair bit sharper. The keyboard and trackpad remain unchanged, both of which offer a decent experience.


Some of the modifier keys are a little smaller than other keyboards, though this doesn’t hurt usability, and the feel to each key is fairly average these days for a laptop. The trackpad is excellent, and you won’t have any problems using it.


The I/O is also unchanged. Two USB 3.0 ports on either side, a Thunderbolt 3 port with just two PCIe lanes, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an SD card slot. Unfortunately the XPS 13 still charges using a proprietary connector rather than USB-C; I’d rather see an additional USB-C port added to the device for charging, which could double as handy […]

Why It Is Better To Buy A Used Laptop Rather Than A New One?

My number one reason to buy a used laptop would be to avoid Windows 10.

Why Buy a Used Laptop Instead of New?

If you’re planning to purchase a laptop or notebook (note that laptops and notebooks are the same thing), consider buying used or refurbished laptop. A refurbished laptop is a used laptop that has been rebuilt by a professional, and made to be like new again.

First, let us take a moment to consider your needs in a laptop. What do you plan to do with your laptop?

Do you your plans include the following:

  • Surfing the internet
  • Checking emails
  • Instant messenger
  • Writing papers
  • Printing Papers
  • Making spreadsheets
  • Slide Presentations
  • Playing Solitaire
  • Downloading MP3’s
  • Listening to MP3’s
  • Burning to CD’s
  • Watching DVD’s
  • Digital camera photo
  • Children’s games
  • Keeping bank figures
  • Small business use
  • The lists goes on…


Most used laptops will easily complete all of the above mentioned tasks for you. What’s really great is that for most current applications on a refurbished laptop, you won’t notice a performance difference compared to a brand new laptop.

How is that possible to not notice a difference between a brand new laptop and a refurbished one?

That’s a good question. The fact is, most current software for your computer is not designed to need the high performance of a brand new laptop. Computer manufactures are moving so fast, that software makers simply do not keep up. Most current software will run on a computer 4 times slower than the fastest laptops made.

Most current software will run flawlessly on a computer 4 times slower than the fastest laptops made.

What does that mean for you? It means that it’s not necessary to spend $1500 or more on a top of the line laptop. Depending on your needs from your laptop, you may be able to buy a laptop for as low as $250. A $250 laptop will perform all the necessary tasks for most people. However, if you are looking for a laptop that will burn CD’s and watch DVD movies, expect to spend $400 – $750.

Dell says I can buy a brand new laptop for $699, why should I buy a used one?

This is a very smart, and very much overlooked, marketing trick. Let me start by saying that I think Dell is the best computer manufacture on the market, and I endorse their products myself. However, try this yourself on any given day with any manufacture :

Today I went to and browsed new inspiron laptops (The Dell line designed for home users). On the home page

was an ad for a laptop “from” $699. This is after a $100 rebate, so make that price $799. I click the ad and attempt to purchase the item. I am offered to “Customize” or choose “Recommended Solutions”. Customizing sounds great. I’m the customer, and I should get what I want.

After choosing “Customize”, without selecting any upgrades at all, suddenly the price of the laptop is $1371. I don’t like that, so I chose all of the lowest possible choices for all available features to achieve the lowest price. The lowest available configuration made the price $907. I don’t want to give up, so I go back and choose “Recommended Solutions” because these configurations are pre-manufactured in quantity, and are therefore cheaper.

Four options were offered at these prices: $949, $1249, $999, and $1319. Each one of these options was offered a $150 rebate (keep in mind this is a mail-in rebate so it doesn’t lower your price at checkout) so respectively, if I were to purchase, then wait for my rebate, I could get a laptop for $799, $1099, $849, or $1169.

Not one option was available to purchase this laptop at the advertised priced price of $699, even after a mail-in rebate! You will find the same scenario anywhere you go, no matter what manufacture.

No option was available to purchase a laptop for $699, even after a mail-in rebate!

They have to get you to buy from them somehow. All of the computer manufactures have been using this marketing technique (as described above) for years. Imagine if everyone knew about this and the money they could save on buying a refurbished laptop, without having to sacrifice any of their goals and needs from the computer. These manufactures would not be the same companies that they are today.

There are more reasons to consider a refurbished laptop.

Another aspect of buying a refurbished computer that should be considered is this: Most refurbished laptops available are not the “low end” home user based laptops. Examples of home user laptops are: Compaq Presario, Dell Inspiron, eMachines, Hewlett Packard Pavilion, Sony Vaio, and Toshiba Satellite. Refurbished laptops are almost always business model laptops that are off-lease from major corporations.

Business laptops have parts available even long after warranty expires.

Business laptops provide a better solution because they are the laptops provided by a company that are proven to work well. Examples of business laptops are: Compaq Armada, Dell Latitude, Hewlett Packard Compaq Mobile/Business Workstation, and Toshiba Tecra.

Home user laptops, believe it or not, are usually testing grounds for new engineering of laptop equipment. Home user laptops are typically given shorter warranty, and are designed to last until that warranty expires. After the laptop’s warranty has expired, the newer “experimental” home user model available uses different parts. Since the older models are no longer under warranty, and they use “out of date” parts, the manufacture no longer stocks the parts.

Therefore, when your home user laptop has an out of warranty problem (which it will), the parts that are available to fix your laptop are very expensive, if they are available at all. This leaves the home user with the attitude to “throw away and buy new”, which is exactly what the manufacture wants you to do.

Since business laptops use technology that is proven to work, their parts seldom change from model to model. Due to this fact as well as the fact that business laptops are leased to corporations, huge stock piles of parts are kept at the manufacture for extended warranties as well as out of warranty purchases. For example, you can still call Dell today to order parts for an out of warranty laptop that was manufactured in 1997 or 1998 for the same cost as laptops manufactured in 2002.

Business laptops are more expensive than home laptops (as much as $3000), buy used and save a ton.

Business laptops, due to their stability, are far more expensive than home user laptops. Using the Dell example, the cheapest Dell business laptop (Latitude), currently available is $2000. Many of the refurbished laptops being sold today for $250-$800 originally sold for $3000 or more. This means you can buy refurbished and save as much as 80% over buying new.

Purchase a refurbished laptop that will suit your needs and last for years, at a great savings.

What all of this means is that if you purchase a refurbished laptop, you can expect the following:

  1. Able to complete all tasks necessary to an everyday user
  2. Half the cost of a brand new home user laptop
  3. Up to 80% less than a brand new business laptop
  4. Proven technology that will last for years
  5. Parts always available if your laptop has a problem
  6. Take control in your life, and put extra money in your pocket for other things that are important to you!

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MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

I am not into gaming, but I know that many of you are so I wanted to share this latest computer hardware review.  The MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard looks like quite a beast.  I have had a couple of customers buy MSI gaming computers to use as desktop computers and the result is quite nice.  When you set up your Windows 10 installation on a SSD Solid State Drive and have a HDD to store you data on, You will get optimal performance.  10-15 second boot times are now a reality with this kind of a set up. I have shared this computer tip with a few other customers when they were looking to upgrade and so far everyone has been very happy.

We’ve been testing AMD’s Threadripper and Socket TR4 over the past couple of months in between our X370 and B350 motherboard reviews featuring the Ryzen processor.


We’ve come to realize the potential of the high-end desktop platform and its caveats, and it’s time to expose what we’ve discovered in this next series of X399 motherboard reviews. And so we begin. PCIe, cores, and memory capacity are Threadripper’s big selling points.


AMD touts this platform as ideal for streamers, content creators, and professionals looking to speed up and multitask workloads in high-end desktop PCs.


To get there, AMD pieces together two Ryzen die onto a single chip to form a dual-chip module (DCM). This DCM enables multiple bricks of CCX (CPU Complex), Infinity Fabric , and of course gobs of direct attach PCIe and quad-channel memory.


The X399 chipset handles remaining I/O, storage, and system needs. Because Threadripper is a massive chip with an abundance of built-in I/O, X399 has the straightforward goal of filling in the platform gaps. USB 2.0, native USB 3.1 Gen1, native USB 3.1 Gen2, large quantities of SATA3, and PCIe Gen2 can all be harnessed by motherboard manufacturers to provide additional device connections.


It will be very interesting to see how different vendors pick and choose these options. Specifications MSI X399: First Foray into the Core Counts On paper, X399 and Threadripper represent a potent combo.


Cut from the same cloth as MSI’s other Performance Gaming boards, the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC ships with all of the bells and whistles we expect from a top-tier board. The contents of the box are abundant, and a bulk of the cabling is delivered in a drawstring bag rather than plastic.


Typical box contents include a driver CD, motherboard documentation, quick install guide, and SATA stickers. Unique to this MSI X399: a dual-card, high-bandwidth SLI bridge; an RGB splitter extension cable; mounting screws; USB extension; case badge; OC fan mounting hardware; and multiple sets of exchangeable covers for the various name plates around the board.


One item deserves its own five minutes of fame: A break-out PCIe card that houses the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 WiFi module and antenna headers. This solution occupies a lone PCIe x1 slot and a USB 2.0 header on the board.


We’d recommend populating it in the bottom x1 slot. If you’re using SLI or three dual-slot PCIe cards, you’re forced to put the card into the bottom x16 slot, which is less than ideal. However, you also don’t have to use it. And it can be used in any other PC you’ve got.


Don’t be fooled by the silver-lined PCIe slots, which aren’t all Gen3 x16. The first and third slots are wired for true x16 connections, while the second and fourth slots are wired for x8. As such, you should plug SLI or Crossfire into PCI_E1 and PCI_E4. Beyond that, you get two x1 PCIe slots.


Through some clever slot placement, creative builders can consider the potential for capture cards and additional high-performance network or storage controllers. Another feather in the cap for X399 is its ability to expose PCIe lanes for up to three native NVMe Gen3 x4 solid state drives.


These cards are housed beneath each of the top three x16 slots, and as an added bonus you get M.2 heat shield plates. We use the Toshiba RD400 in all of our test beds, so we can’t commit to any vendor’s cooling solution to verify the effectiveness of the shields, but they are removable using an interesting hinge mechanism. After getting the more prominent features out of […]

Eve V Review – A Much Better Alternative to the Surface Pro

Eve V Review

I thought the story behind this new laptop that was designed to compete with the Surface Pro.  I never liked the Surface Pro one bit.  The touch screen response on it is terrible.  It’s very slow and a pain in the rear to do just about any task that you are used to doing on your computer.  I am curious to see if they were able to out do Microsoft.  This is one piece of computer hardware that I highly anticipate.  If it came with a better operating system than Windows 10, I would be much happier.  I would even be happy with Windows 7 coming back.  If you need computer repair in Hillsboro, TX check out


Crowdfunded tech products have a long history of being complete garbage, usually shipping years after their original launch dates with missing features, broken functionality and no further support.


So when I heard I would be reviewing the crowdfunded Eve V , a more affordable, better-featured competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro , I was expecting to find yet another piece of junk that failed to live up to the hype.


I was completely and utterly wrong. For a first-generation product , the Eve V is remarkably solid. It’s especially impressive when you consider its direct competition – the Surface Pro – is well entrenched in the Windows tablet market and known to be an excellent option.


From my experience with the Eve V over the past week, it’s not just a great competitor to the Surface Pro: it is a better option in several ways. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk basics.


You’ll see the Surface Pro referenced a lot in this review, and that’s for a key reason: the Eve V is very similar from a hardware and design perspective. It’s a 12.3-inch Windows 10 tablet with a magnetic, detachable keyboard cover and a kickstand.


It’s designed for people that want to work on the go, and want to combine the flexibility of a tablet form factor with the convenience of typing on a physical keyboard.


The main selling point here is that if you were thinking of getting a Surface Pro, you might want to consider the Eve V instead. Similar form factor, similar hardware, but at a lower price and with more features. As I’m sure you can appreciate, that’s an enticing proposition for those interested in the Surface Pro.


Like with the Surface Pro , there are a range of hardware configurations (five to be specific), that come with different processors, memory, and storage capacity. The base model, which retails for $799, packs an Intel Core m3-7Y30, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD space.


You can configure the Eve V up to a Core i7-7Y75, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, which will set you back $1,999. My review model was one step down from the top, with a 512GB instead of 1TB SSD, with a retail price of $1,599. I’ll be talking a bit more about the hardware and direct price comparisons to the Surface Pro later in this review, but the Eve V is cheaper across the board for a comparable hardware configuration.


This is partly due to a simple factor: every Eve V comes with the detachable keyboard and active stylus included in the box, while with the Surface Pro, these essential accessories are expensive extras.


Need a quick comparison? The Eve V with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs $1,200 with the keyboard and stylus included. A comparable 2017 Surface Pro costs $1,300 plus $130 for the Type Cover and $100 for the pen. The Eve V is $330 cheaper, and that difference only gets bigger at higher-end configurations.


Enough talk about pricing, let’s discuss the actual design of this tablet. One of the Surface Pro’s best features is its beautiful magnesium body, and for startup hardware companies, design can be one of the hardest aspects to nail.


However, the Eve V gets a lot of things right with its solid, well-built metal unibody, to the point where most complaints are nitpicks rather than deal-breaking flaws.


I still think the Surface Pro has an outstanding aesthetic that the Eve V can’t match, but that’s not to say the Eve V falls


Eve V ReviewEve V Review […]

Eve V

EKWB Slim 240 Liquid Cooling Kit Review

For the hard core gamer or performance geek check out this sweet liquid cooling kit.  Its one of the best performing pieces of computer hardware for cooling.  They say it can even cool CPU’s that Windows 10 puts to big of a load on.  LOL JK

An open loop kit is probably the best way to jump into custom liquid cooling. It means you get everything you need inside one convenient box. No worrying that you forgot one part or another.

No fretting that you accidentally got the wrong sized tubing or that your pump won’t work with your reservoir housing. To top it off, kits are usually less expensive than buying all the same parts à la carte.

Last year we saw EK’s Performance line of kits blow away even the best AIO liquid coolers. Today we’re looking at the much cheaper little brother, the Slim 240. At only $200, it’s not much more expensive than a premium AIO and almost half the price of the Performance 280 and 360 . If it can keep up with the big boys, we might see our first true value award for liquid cooling.

Specifications The Slim product line is EK’s lowest-tier kit, offering three different versions based on radiator size. The Slim 240 we’re testing uses a dual 120mm radiator. A Slim 120 and Slim 360 are also available. While the Slim kits are the least expensive EK offers, the components inside are the same EK sells individually.

These kits use solid copper water blocks and radiators, not cut-rate parts. Water Block The Slim kit uses EK’s Supremacy MX water block, the same used in the company’s Predator expandable AIO coolers. It features a solid copper cold plate with a mirror polished bottom. The top is clear polymer with a black anodized brushed aluminum cover plate. The two ports up top use the common G1/4 threading for fittings.

The manual clearly shows the proper flow direction for the ports, though it’d be better if the block itself were labeled. Instead of the pre-mounted Intel bracket that comes with the Predator and most standalone MX blocks, the Slim 240 includes the EVO’s universal mounting kit, supporting LGA 115X, 2011(-3), 2066, AM3, and AM4 sockets.

If you order directly from EK, the company will even throw in additional mounting hardware for AM2 and FM2, or LGA 775 and 1366 for just a penny. Radiator The dual 120mm radiator in the Slim 240 is EK’s SE 240. It uses a solid copper core for both fins and tubes, while the end chambers are brass.

The exterior frame is steel and aluminum. Like most loop components available today, it uses G1/4 threads on the two ports at the end. It’s worth discussing the radiator’s thickness, or rather thinness. Most basic radiators from other manufacturers are 30mm thick, but the SE 240 is only 25mm thick.

While this slightly diminishes the overall surface area for cooling, it does make the radiator a little easier to fit in tight cases. To help make up for this lack of girth, EK stacks the core with 22 fins per inch (FPI). Fans You need a capable fan to work with a 22 FPI radiator, and the Vardars included in the Slim 240 kit deliver.

These are the F3-120 variant, not the F4-120ER that came with the Predator and Performance kits last year. Both share the same scooped seven-blade design, but the F3 has a lower maximum speed than the F4: 1850 RPM compared to 2200 RPM.

It also doesn’t have the extended PWM range that gives the ER variants their name, so the fan can only slow to 50% instead of 25% duty cycle. Pump The pump included in the Slim 240 is an SPC 60A with XRES 100 reservoir combo volute. It looks like a DDC variant, and perhaps you can think of […]