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Archive for Antony Leather

AMD isn’t planning to steal a little market share; it’s plotting a true enthusiast comeback

Posted on 24th Feb 2017 at 12:41 by Antony Leather with 34 comments

Antony Leather
I’ve been following the rumour mill of AMD’s upoming Ryzen CPU product range quite closely over the last few weeks, and I’m honestly amazed by what I’m seeing.

For starters, there’s the sheer number of products. The leaks pointed at nearly 20 different CPUs, with four, six, or eight cores and up to 16 threads. This isn’t a small move at gaining some market share, this is an entire range of CPUs. Obviously, the massively exciting thing is that, if the performance figures are to be believed, we’ll be seeing some real competition again and have real choice between AMD and Intel, especially as the AM4 boards for Ryzen seem to be on par with their Intel equivalents too.

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Tags am4, amd, ryzen

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans

Posted on 30th Dec 2016 at 09:59 by Antony Leather with 8 comments

If you thought 2016 was an RGB-fest, then wait until you see 2017. In fact, even as we say goodbye to this year, we're struggling to deal with all the lights given there's usually wine, cider or some other alcoholic substance close at hand this time of year. We jest, of course, but the short story is that NZXT has joined Corsair and Thermaltake in offering multi-coloured fans, courtesy of the Aer RGB range.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

While NZXT's and Corsair's offerings are different in ways we'll get to in a minute, there are some similarities in the way they work. Specifically, they both require each company's RGB controller to work - you can't use motherboard RGB headers from the likes of Asus here, which is a bit of a pain. When we connected the Aer RGB's to an Aura-compatible Asus board, not a lot happened.

For the Aer RGBs, you'll need NZXT's Hue+ controller as well, and remembering that the triple set of Aer RGB 120mm fans we're looking at here already retails for £70, the added expense for the controller, albeit along with four 30cm RGB LED strips, at around £40 means that to kit your PC out with three RGB fans will cost over £100. You can do this with a trio of Corsair HD 120 fans for £70, including the controller.



However, there's one big difference between the NZXT Aer RGB fans and Corsair's HD 120s, which is that the former are fully RGB - you can select from the usual massive colour pallet, choosing practically any colour you like, while the Corsair controller is only able to cycle through a few colours and effects. A set of HD 120s can lay on some very funky effects, mind you, and can also spread these across the fans in wave effects down your PC - the same is true here with the Aer RGB fans, except they're more flexible with even more effects and colours to choose from.

To get them working, you'll need to power each fan with the usual 4-pin PWM connector, then hook up a separate cable to the controller. Thankfully, you can daisy-chain the fans rather than each one requiring a physical connection to the controller, so if you're connecting them in series along a radiator or multiple fan mounts, it's actually fairly easy to deal with the lighting side of things.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

This is especially so given that NZXT includes 10cm and 50cm fan-to-fan/daisy-chain cables, so whether the fans are right next to each other or in the roof and rear fan mounts, you just need to run a cable from one to the other. Corsair's fans, meanwhile, require you to connect each fan to the controller, which is a bit of a nightmare if you're trying to build a clean PC.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

The Hue+ controller uses a DC input that's powered from a standard 4-pin Molex connector, plus you'll need a free USB 2.0 motherboard header so software, in the form of NZXT CAM, can talk to the fans. All the cables you need are included and the fans come with a trio of resistor cables too, which is a nice touch.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

The CAM software works well with Windows 10 but we've had issues with it on Windows 7 before now. In short, make sure the OS is up to date and all drivers are correctly installed, and you shouldn't have any problems. With the controller and fans connected, head to the Hue+ section at the bottom, click on 'Change Mode', and you should be met with the lighting channels, with the 'Edit Settings' button taking you through to the customisation.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

Here you can select from 10 effects, with several such as Marquee and Covering Marquee sending light waves down the fans in turn, which looks rather cool. You're able to select from any colour you can create too, with some effects sporting multiple colour options as well as the ability to control the speed of the effects and how many LEDs are involved. You don't need to stop at the fans either - the effects can be synchronised with the four included RGB LED strips too, although you may need sunglasses as well in that case.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

At face value, the Aer RGB fans seem expensive, but while they're certainly more pricey than Corsair's efforts, there's a lot more customisation on offer here plus a more polished package too. The fact you can daisy-chain the cables is a huge boon for cable tidying, plus you have access to the full RGB colour spectrum. You also get four RGB LED strips, fan speed reductions cables and all the cables you need. Well done, NZXT.

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3D Printing with Asus ROG feat. Z170 Pro Gaming/Aura

Posted on 31st Oct 2016 at 17:52 by Antony Leather with 1 comments

Antony Leather
While we're not printing replacement organs just yet, 3D printing is proving very useful in prototyping and also in PC customisation. We've seen numerous PC mods sporting 3D-printed components and one or two that had entirely 3D-printed cases as well.

Asus has taken things one step further and begun offering an array of 3D-printed components that can be attached to motherboards. You can download the files and print them yourself or send them off to one of an increasing number of third party printing companies.

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Thoughts on the cost of Nvidia graphics cards

Posted on 17th Oct 2016 at 11:18 by Antony Leather with 36 comments

Antony Leather
I think it's fair to say that as well as the graphics market having been pretty interesting for the last few years, Nvidia has also been quite dominant. So much so, that it has seen fit to alter prices in the industry as well as performance, with both moving upwards quite considerably.

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What do you want from a motherboard?

Posted on 11th Oct 2016 at 17:37 by Antony Leather with 38 comments

Antony Leather
As a prolific upgrader both before and during my time as a tech journalist, I’m well aware of the choices anyone reading this likely makes when they’re on the hunt for a new motherboard. Probably the biggest factor is price, but even then you might be looking for certain features. Given the huge variety or perks that come with current motherboards, though, just what drives the modern PC enthusiast to buy a motherboard?

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I believe it's time for a PC case revolution

Posted on 12th Sep 2016 at 10:59 by Antony Leather with 28 comments

Antony Leather
Two different areas of PC technology could have some big influence on the PC over the next few years. However, they might not be the areas you think. I'm not talking about graphics cards or CPUs but hardware that's often not that interesting - storage and power supplies.

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Non K-edition baseclock overclocking fiasco: Is it good or bad for Intel?

Posted on 31st Dec 2015 at 16:24 by Antony Leather with 19 comments

Antony Leather
When reports of substantial overclocks being achieved on non-K edition Intel CPUs surfaced a few weeks ago, my initial thoughts didn't immediately leap to motherboard manufacturers having found a very interesting and potentially cost-saving backdoor.

In fact, at first, I thought quite the opposite - that Intel may even have left the option there for motherboard manufacturers to find or even colluded with them months ago. The possible reasons for this? Poor Skylake sales being one of them, although, despite current high prices and initial lack of availability both of the CPUs and motherboards, I don't think sales are bad enough to warrant this - far from it.

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Is 2016 a make or break year for AMD?

Posted on 23rd Jul 2015 at 10:36 by Antony Leather with 51 comments

Antony Leather
There has been some pretty grim reading surrounding AMD in the last few days. The fact it's now worth just a quarter of what it paid for ATI back in 2006 may sound pretty devastating, but even just a year later in 2007, the company was actually worth less than the $5.4 billion it paid for the GPU giant, so things have clearly been on a consistent downward spiral.

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Some questions about our new CPU cooler test systems

Posted on 30th Apr 2015 at 10:15 by Antony Leather with 59 comments

Antony Leather
We're currently in the process of building numerous new test systems here at bit-tech and before we leap in and start churning out reviews with our awesome new hardware, I wanted to reach out and get some feedback on a couple of questions involving our CPU cooler systems.

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Is Nvidia's GTX 960 really a disappointment?

Posted on 28th Jan 2015 at 11:16 by Antony Leather with 27 comments

Antony Leather
It's taken a while to arrive but the eagerly-awaited sub-£200 version of Nvidia's Maxwell-based graphics cards is finally here. However, the GTX 960 is not quite what we were all expecting.

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