Asus Digital Home System A33 launched

Lars Göran Nilsson | | Nov 30, 2007 8:18 AM CST

Asus has launched their latest HTPC, or as Asus likes to call them, Digital Home System, namely the A33. It's quite compact at 430x330x80mm (WxDxH) and it's powered by an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ CPU. There's no mention of the chipset used, but judging by the specifications, we're guessing on the AMD 690G chipset. Key features of the system are HDMI with HDCP support, component video out and dual hybrid TV tuners with hardware encoding.

The A33 also features a front mounted 2.4-inch LCD display and it comes with two remote controls, one even has a built in trackball and there's also a wireless RF keyboard included. The optical drive is a slot loaded slim-line DVD writer which is compatible with all the standard formats. There's also a 500GB hard drive, a built in card reader, 802.11 n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1-channel HD audio and a wide range of other features thrown in for good measure.

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Intel's 45nm Wolfdale E8400 tested

Lars Göran Nilsson | | Nov 30, 2007 3:45 AM CST

Expreview has compared Intel's upcoming 45nm Core 2 Duo E8400 based on the Wolfdale core to a Core 2 Duo E6850, as both CPU's are clocked at 3GHz. The improvements of the new core include larger cache and SSE4 support, but apart from that there aren't any major differences between the two chips.

Expreview managed to overclock the E8400 to 4.05GHz and it was stable at this speed with a normal air cooler. The comparison at 3GHz compared to the E6850 shows that the Wolfdale core is on average about one to five percent, but can be as much as over 10 percent faster. They've also compared the performance in Half-Life 2 Episode two, with the CPU at various speeds from 2.33 to 3GHz.

The impressive part is power consumption, where the new core uses almost 20W less under load. It also runs about eight degrees Celsius cooler at idle and 11 degrees cooler under load.

Continue reading: Intel's 45nm Wolfdale E8400 tested (full post)

OCZ ramp DDR2 kits to 8GB

Steve Dougherty | RAM | Nov 29, 2007 8:15 PM CST

For those of you who just arn't satisfied with 4GB of RAM in your system, OCZ are catering to the real memory hungry folks with some new DDR2 8GB "Quad Kits" aimed towards Advanced Gaming Systems and Professional Workstations.

"To have eight gigabytes of memory available in the system may sound like overkill for the average user; however, in any mega-tasking environment the requirements for system memory can skyrocket and easily break the 4GB boundary, thus far considered as the penultimate amount of system memory," commented Dr. Michael Schuette, VP of Technology Development at OCZ Technology. "The new OCZ2P8008GQ kit is the first to bring eight gigabytes of memory also to Intel architecture-based systems to explore workloads which previously were a challenge within the personal computing space."

The new PC2-6400 8GB Platinum Quad Kit has rated timings of 5-4-4 and comes shipped with OCZ's platinum-mirrored XTC (Xtreme Thermal Convection) heatspreaders.

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Asus brings HDMI and ICH9 to Intel G35

Asus has quietly launched two motherboards based on Intel's G35 chipset which relies on Intel's integrated graphics, but this time the graphics engine is somewhat different, as the G35 chipset relies on the GMA X3500. Intel claims that the new graphics engine supports DirectX 10 as well as Shader Model 4.0 and OpenGL 2.0. The G35 chipset is long overdue, but it looks like Intel has finally managed to ship it out to its partners, as the Asus boards have just gone on sale in Japan.

The two models are the P5E-V HDMI and the P5E-VM HDMI, with the main difference between the two being that the first one is ATX while the second one is mATX. Interestingly enough, Asus claims CrossFire support for the full size P5E-V HDMI board and it looks like the design is similar to a P35 board in terms of CrossFire support. Both boards feature an HDMI connector as well as a D-sub for the onboard graphics and an HDMI to DVI converter comes in the box.

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Vantec goes for all-in-one watercooler

Lars Göran Nilsson | Cases, Cooling & PSU | Nov 28, 2007 6:26 AM CST

Vantec might not be your first port of call when it comes to watercooling, but the company has had some success with its StingRay kit, but this time the company has decided to go for an ever smaller setup with the compact StingRay Mini STG-110. We're talking an all-in-one solution here, something that has been done before and which rarely offers any advantage over a normal air cooler.

Hopefully Vantec can bring something new to the table with the StingRay Mini and at least the design looks pretty funky. It relies on a 92mm fan to cool the radiator and it has a rated air flow of 22.25-55.89 CFM depending on the fan speed which is adjustable between 1,200 and 2,800 rpm and produces 24 to 36dB.

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Foxconn to launch 790FX board with SB700

Lars Göran Nilsson | | Nov 28, 2007 2:58 AM CST

Pictures of Foxconn's upcoming AMD 790FX based board, the A79A-S has made its way onto the web and Expreview scored them. The big news about this board is that it's the first motherboard that we've heard of that will feature the new SB700 southbridge from AMD. The SB700 bring support for six SATA ports, no less than 12 USB 2.0 ports and for some reason two USB 1.1 ports. It also supports RAID and good old fashioned IDE.

We have to say that we're not in love with the Foxconn A79A-S design, despite that fact that it has no less than four x16 PCI Express slots and there are several reasons for this. First of all Foxconn has only incorporated four SATA connectors on the board, as two of the six SATA connectors supported by the SB700 have been moved to the rear I/O as eSATA. We're not quite sure why you'd ever need more than one eSATA port, but if you've got an answer, let us know.

Continue reading: Foxconn to launch 790FX board with SB700 (full post)

Dell launches cheapest XPS notebook yet

Lars Göran Nilsson | Laptops | Nov 27, 2007 8:24 AM CST

Dell has finally launched its XPS M1530 notebook which is the latest addition to its thin and light XPS models, which got popularized by the M1330. We're not sure if a 15.4-inch widescreen notebook can ever be classified as thin and light, but Dell has done its best to compact it together as much as possible. You're looking at a notebook measuring 357x263x35.1mm (WxDxH) although the height varies from 23.7 to 35.1mm. It weighs in at 2.62kg, which isn't too bad considering that many budget 14.1-inch models aren't far off this kind of weight.

There's a wide range of customizable options and the CPU range includes either a T5250 or a T5450 for the cost conscious buyer or anything from a T7250 to a T7800 for those looking for some extra performance. The XPS M1530 can be configured with up to 4GB of DDR2 667MHz memory and up to 320GB hard drive space depending on the kind of drive you want and SSD is also an option. It comes with a slim-line slot-loading DVD writer as standard and this can be traded in for a Blu-ray drive for an additional US$500.

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Qingbar GP300 video glasses

Lars Göran Nilsson | Internet & Websites | Nov 27, 2007 6:06 AM CST

Now, normally we wouldn't make a big fuss about something like a portable media player, but the Qingbar GP300 takes portable to a whole new level. YellowMosqiuto, the company behind the Qingbar GP300 has managed to incorporate everything into a pair of rather unsightly video glasses, so forget about needing a DVD player or something else to plug into them, as they're ready to go as they are. Apparently the Qingbar GP300 features two LCOS displays with QVGA resolution - that's 320x240 to you and me - which are meant to simulate the image of a50-inch display at 2 meters distance.

We've sadly had the pleasure of testing similar products in the past and they're far from great, although we haven't seen any using LCOS technology before. But the very low resolution on these glasses seems like a limiting factor, as even the poor quality modes we've tried has had 640x480 or 800x600 resolution LCD displays. The Qingbar GP300 accepts mini SD cards for media storage, as it incorporates all the hardware needed for video playback.

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XP performance to increase with SP3

Steve Dougherty | | Nov 26, 2007 6:17 PM CST

A Florida based performance testing company by the name of Devil Mountain Software has issued out a graph to the masses which shows benchmark results calculated by "OfficeBench" in both Windows XP (SP2) and Vista (RTM).

This alone seems a little pointless as we already know XP is still able to hold its own ground for the most part when soley focusing on performance. However, what makes the graph a bit more interesting is that the testing company also chose to throw in test results of both Vista and XP running pre-release builds of SP1 and SP3 respectively.

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Zalman finally launches 3D displays

At Computex earlier this year Zalman was showing its upcoming 3D displays and they've finally launched them. We're looking at a 19 and a 22-incher and we're not sure if Zalman has come up with Trimon name as a play on Trinitron or Pokemon. Either which way, these new 3D display requires you to wear a pair of glasses for them to work and you need to use an Nvidia graphics card.

You might wonder about the latter requirement and the answer is simple, Zalman relies on Nvidia's 3D stereoscopic driver, which is flaky at best. At least the glasses you get with the Zalman displays look more like a pair of naff shades than something really nerdy as early types of stereoscopic glasses with LCD shutters used to be like.

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