Cisco have long been pioneers in the networking industry, and their acquisition of home-networking company Linksys in 2003 was a way for the tech giant to reach into consumer’s homes. Since then, the company has been releasing a number of routers designed for home use, which aim to be easy to setup while still delivering reliable performance. Their latest effort comes in the form of the Linksys EA6500, which we had a chance to preview at this year’s GITEX.
Build Quality & Design
I like that Cisco has gone for sleeker looks with their recent lineup of routers. Gone are the million flashing lights and awkward antennas; in the case of the EA6500 we have a flat and slightly curved router, with the Cisco logo lighting up brightly on the front.
At the back you have a WAN port, 4 LAN ports, 2 USB ports, a WPS button, and the reset switch. This particular model is also wall-mountable, so you neatly tuck it away where you choose to.
Performance & Features
The EA6500 comes with Cisco Cloud Connect, which is the company’s new and improved way to setup and configure your router. It does however, require you to have an Internet connection and a free account with Cisco (there is an option to bypass this and go straight to the router’s interface). Once you’re connected, the EA6500 gives you a plethora of options at your disposal. You can configure either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-fi networks, activate Guest access, and prioritize network activity to some applications or devices. The interface is very simple and even advanced options are explained in a clear manner.
You also have the option of downloading various apps that interface with the EA6500 – some of the apps I previously tested let you block certain sites on the fly from your smartphone, or integrate with IP cameras on your network to setup a home surveillance kit, and much more. The included USB ports are great for sharing devices across your network, such as a printer or storage media. In the case of storage media, you can then dictate if you’d like everyone on your network to access the drive or just restrict it to a particular group of users.
Performance-wise, the EA6500 was quite good, taking about 45 seconds to transfer a 680MB file from my laptop to a network drive via wireless. The range on the router was also quite good, with the 5GHz range letting me wander around the garden listening to streaming music uninterrupted. The router also supports the new 802.11ac wireless standard, offering transfer speeds of up to 1.3Gbps with compatible clients.
The Linksys EA6500 is a sleek device that boasts an impressive array of features. It’s certainly a marked improvement from earlier Linksys routers, and the inclusion of 802.11ac is certainly an advantage for devices that support the standard. If you’re looking for a home router that’s able to handle multiple clients and a decent amount of network traffic, then this one is worth picking up.
MSI’s gaming laptops have been making quite a buzz in the enthusiast market space over the last few years. And while their GT series is known to carry some of the best offerings from Intel and Nvidia, the GX series is sure to please any hardcore gamer who likes AMD.
The MSI GX60 is completely built around AMD, with a Trinity processor and Radeon graphics card powering the system. While the chassis is similar to other GT series, with pretty much the exact same shape and body layout, the GX60 is a different machine at heart.
An AMD A10-4600M quad-core APU running at 2.30GHz (turbo up to 3.20GHz) plus a Radeon HD 7970M graphics cards with 2GB of GDDR5 memory for the basis of the GX60. Complimented by a 750GB (7200RPM) HDD with 2x64GB LiteOn SSD in SuperRAID, 8GB-DDR3 1600MHz memory and a Killer Gaming Network card, the MSI GX60 is armed to the teeth.
Of course, there a few more things that make your gaming experience even better. The 1080p 15.6-inch screen with matt finish, with a solidly built keyboard designed by Steel Series and an impressive 2.1 speaker system with THX TruStudio Pro surround sound completes this very impressive package.
With its 9-cell battery, the MSI GX60 weighs in at a hefty 3.5kg, although not much when you consider the amount of impressive hardware packed inside the decently sized chassis. The overall finish and feel of the MSI GX60 is very good, with an easily removable rear panel allowing you to upgrade your HDD or RAM. My only complaint is that the bezel surrounding the screen is glossy black; an irritatingly stark contrast to the beautiful anti-glare screen.
Another little pet peeve is that despite the satisfying feel of the chiclet keyboard from Steel Series, there’s no backlight. MSI have multi-colored backlit keyboards in their other GT series, so the only reason I think of not having the same in this AMD based system is to cut the cost.
So let’s get on with the benchmarks and see how the MSI GX60 stacks against other gaming laptops.
As you can see above that while the MSI GX60 is arguably more powerful than all the other laptops, in terms of pure horsepower, it’s the lowest priced among them all.
Noise & Temperature
Considering the beast of a graphics card inside, I was surprised to find out how cool and relatively quiet the MSI GX60 runs. When benchmarking the GX60 its underside did get very warm, but not so much that I had to take it off my laps. The palmrest area was completely cool, while the fan stays quiet for the most part, kicking in under load. Still, even at full speed the fan isn’t as annoying as I thought.
The AMD A10 Trinity is certainly much cooler than Intel’s i7 processor in terms of heat.
So the MSI GX60 is not only an impressive laptop on paper, but also in practice. While some may consider the AMD A10 Trinity APU to be a bit of a bottleneck, the quad-core processor is more than capable of handling daily tasks and gaming in general. Games like Battlefield 3 and Guild Wars 2 which are heavily dependent on the CPU do show the limitations of the Trinity APU, however.
The screen is extremely crisp and a joy to use, with any game looking great on it without the need for anti-aliasing. The speakers are actually pretty good, for games, music and movies. Typing is a joy on the Steel Series keyboard, it’s a shame there’s no backlight.
I needn’t remind you dear reader that the AMD Radeon HD 7970M performs on par with the Nvidia GTX 680M and is literally one of the fastest mobile GPU’s on the planet right now, to the point that the performance is double what anything lower (from both AMD and nvidia) can offer. And at this price point, you simply cannot do better than the MSI GX60.
As the January 30th reveal of the new Blackberry 10 devices reaches closer, expect a lot of leaks and rumors of the hotly anticipated devices. One of the most concrete ones we’ve had lately is this pretty clear set of images from the upcoming QWERTY device apparently titled the X10.
N4BB.com has hold of these exclusive images, which pretty much show a near-final product in full view. The product will be launched alongside their full touch Z10 device, and the X10 here looks promising but there are some things that could be refined. For example, they keyboard could be closer to the Blackberry 9900 keyboard for best results.
I like the fact that the buttons have been done away with for more real estate, but the icons are needlessly big which leads to only 8 of them on screen at a time which is quite low. Hopefully that’s something that can be customized.
The back cover is a little bit disappointing considering the Z10 back looks absolutely amazing, but keep in mind that this is not the final device and any of these things could drastically change in the retail version that will be unveiled.
Which Blackberry will you opt for? The full touch Z10 or this keyboard X10?