Weekend News, April 17th 2011

Sandy Bridge, by now you all know the name and you know that Intel’s new processors blew the socks off almost anything out there. With this whole new architecture comes a new line of components made specifically for Sandy Bridge. Today we will be taking a look at some memory from our friends at G.Skill. A little while back we took a look at their 1600 MHz Ripjaws memory and today we are checking
out the 2133 MHz Ripjaws-X memory, more specifically the Ripjaws-X F3-17000CL9D-8GBXLD kit. This kit runs at 2133 MHz with timings of 9-11-9-28 at 1.65v. Let’s take a look at this memory and see if it is perfect for your Sandy Bridge setup.

Purchasing the Intel DH67BL MicroATX motherboard isn’t a sacrifice in quality. The DH67BL has all the necessary features that a HTPC or anyone needing a small powerful computer would need. The DH67BL has the LGA1155 socket that supports the newest Intel Core i7/i5/i3 Sandy Bridge processors. There are four 240-pin DIMM slots that support DDR3 memory modules at 1333MHz and 1066MHz speeds. Maximum supported memory is 32GB. The Intel H67 Express Chipset has the Intel Rapid Storage Technology capability. This allows RAID 0,1,5, and 10 hard drive configurations. Onboard are DVI-I and HDMI connections to allow processors with Intel HD Graphics.

Utilizing Intel’s I340 server NIC on one end, and a Realtek on the other, a transfer from SSD to SSD (Corsair F160 to Corsair F160) proved to be about 111MB/s for a solid file, and 56.75MB/s for a folder,
which consisted of 6,353 files of varying sizes. At around 111MB/s, we found our network to be pretty-well maxed-out, even with the Intel server card involved (and for what it’s worth, we found pretty much the same in Linux, except it was 1MB/s slower on average).


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Not everyone wants to build their own HTPC, and despite the relative small size of most HTPC cases compared to a full tower for example, they’re still fairly large next to most other electronic devices in a home theater environment. The Zotac Zbox on the other hand, is a fully functional HTPC in a very slim size; about the same as the average netbook. Offering a choice of barebone or pre-configured hardware, the model we have for review today includes the Intel Atom D525 dual-core CPU, nVidia ION2 graphics, 250Gb hard drive, 2Gb of memory and a slot-loading Blu-Ray drive. Add to that Gigabit wired and 802.11n wireless networking, 6-in-1 card reader, HDMI, USB3 and eSATA, and you’ve got a huge amount of functionality packed into one tiny device.

Upper segment-motherboards have developed a tendency to look like space stations or Starcraft structures lately. If they don’t, the basic presumption is that they must be cheap. Therefore, it was with a great deal of relief that we received a top-notch motherboard that looks moderate, while being replete with features. ASUS’ WS series, which is shortened for Workstation, targets users who find quality and stability to be the key features to any PC, while enabling the same PC to use its performance to the max on said motherboard. As the new series of Sandy Bridge CPUs has recently been introduced, it was only logical to expect ASUS to send a new WS motherboard our way as well.

The 3D debate is long from over and there is not a definitive winner at this point. Active shutter glasses do provide the best image quality – but at the expense of eye-strain and cost. Polarized (passive) solutions like the Zalman ZM-M240W can ease the eye-strain, but are a bit more finicky to set up and provide their own sets of challenges.

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