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Archive for the ‘What’s New COMPONENTS’ Category

 

 

Solwise’s Piggy adaptors have been among our favourite HomePlug AV devices since they were first released a couple of years ago.With a fast 66.32Mbit/s throughput, they’re easily fast enough for large file transfers and HD video streaming, and their pass through power sockets mean they won’t take up any much-needed power sockets.

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This inexpensive microATX LGA1156 motherboard is ideal for a media centre PC or simply building a desktop PC on a budget. It supports Intel’s on-chip graphics processing and hasVGA and DVI ports. It doesn’t support SATA III or USB3 but you can add these with expansion cards. There are eight USB ports, but no digital audio outputs. The single PCI-E x16 slot could accept a graphics card, and it also has two PCI slots and a PCI-E x1 slot.With only two memory slots, though, you’re limited to 8GB of RAM.At just £58 it’s a great choice for building a compact, low-cost PC.

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Even if you’re not keen on the Contac 29’s colour, its simple installation is a plus.Attaching the fittings for your processor involves four fiddly screws, but
fixing the heatsink is no more complicated than installing a stock cooler.A second 120mm fan can be attached if needed.

 

Although it has only three heatpipes, they’re much thicker than those on other coolers.With its large 120mm fan, it had no trouble keeping our processor cool.When idle, its temperature reached just 22°C at a fan speed of 888rpm. Under load, the processor reached 43°C with a reasonably low fan speed of 1,298rpm.Although very quiet, it wasn’t silent and emitted a low whiny hum. It’s not loud enough to be intrusive, though.

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This fan is our current favourite. It has a transparent frame and blades and is available with either red, green or blue LED lights. It comes with vibration dampening silicone pins and an adaptor that enables Silent Mode. There’s no Molex adaptor.
Silent Mode is very quiet. Without the adaptor, the fan makes a low-pitched hum that’s tolerable once the fan is inside a PC. It spins at 1,000rpm in Silent Mode and pushes 6.8 litres of air per second. In normal operation at 1,800rpm it manages 12.3l/s. The flexibility of the two speed modes makes this fan ideal for either a powerful PC or a quiet media centre. If you don’t want LEDs.

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ANTEC Solo

 

The Solo is among the sturdiest cases we’ve seen. Its thick side panels do an excellent job of insulating noise, and it comes with rubber grommets on which to mount your hard disks to reduce vibrations.Your disks are easily accessed through the front panel. The front vent has a removable dust filter, making it easy to keep clean. It may lack fancy features, but the Solo is well designedwith great build quality.

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The HD 6850’s GPU and architecture are much the same as those of its larger sibling. It has fewer stream processors – 960 rather than 1,120 – and although the memory bus remains at 256-bit, the memory speed has been reduced slightly to 1,000MHz. The most significant change is the GPU’s core clock speed, which has been reduced by 125MHz to 775MHz.The HD 6850 still provides plenty of power

 

Despite these differences, we had to look to our tougher tests to separate this card’s performance from that of the HD 6870. Running Crysis at 1,920×1,080 with 4x anti-aliasing gave us a score of 42.6fps – just 4fps below the HD 6870’s score. The gap widened in our DX11 STALKER test, with the HD 6850 producing 33.3fps compared with 38.8fps from the more powerful card. The HD 6850 achieved a higher score than the GTX 460 1GB in all our tests.

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Our initial reaction to the launch of the new 6000-series Radeon graphics cards was one of mild disappointment. That’s probably not quite whatAMD was hoping for, especially when it has finally retired the ATI name in favour of its own three-letter moniker. Radeon 5000-series cards have dominated our awards in the last year, and we were hoping for a leap forward in performance, matched no doubt by a serious price hike. Instead, with the new HD 6870 and HD 6850,AMD has decided to refine its current architecture and release a pair of good-value, power-efficient cards.

 

 

 

The real gains have been made by an increase in the clock speed, which has shot up from 725MHz on the HD 5850 to 900MHz on the HD 6870. The smaller GPU is largely what makes this possible, as it stays cooler.

 

The HD 6870 has been optimised for DX11 with its range of fancy new graphical effects.A new tessellation engine, which automatically scales the amount of detail required in any 3D object depending how far it is from the camera, is the key element here. It works, too, with the HD 6870 scoring 10fps more than its predecessor in our STALKER test.

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