MSI GX60 Gaming Laptop

January 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

The GX60, MSI’s latest and greatest generation gaming notebook, features AMD’s newest high-end HD 7970M discrete graphics card with excellent 3D performance and amazing visuals that increase game realism. The all-new 28nm graphics core supports DirectX®11 technology, world-class PowerTune Technology, and Enduro display switching technology to throttle up performance and extend battery time as you enjoy a high-performance, high-resolution gaming experience.

Check out our review to see what makes the MSI GX60 such an amazing laptop!

Apacer Armor Series vs Kingston HyperX Beast

With motherboards and CPUs utilizing higher memory bandwidth, it comes as no surprise that performance memory kits are becoming the norm. Still, with so much choice out there it’s important to realize that not all kits perform the same, despite having similar specs on paper.

Both Kingston and Apacer happened to drop their latest memory kits in our office recently, so what better way to test them both than pit them against each other?

Apacer Armor Series

The Apacer Armor Series is the newest performance based DDR3 memory from the company, with complete Intel XMP support. Our testers were the 8GB DDR3 PC3-17000 kit which costs AED 200. The kit comes with two 4GB sticks capable of running at 2133MHz and CAS latency of 11-11-11-30 @ 1.65V. The Apacer Armor Series have a slim profile heatsink which goes up 1-inch, making them ideal for large CPU coolers. They look decent and work very nicely to keep heat in check.

Kingston HyperX Beast

On the other side we have Kingston’s latest entry into the HyperX series, with the new HyperX Beast memory. This tester unit came as the 8GB DDR3 PC3-17000 kit costing AED 215. The kit consists of two 4GB sticks capable of running at 2133MHz and CAS latency of 11-12-11-30 @ 1.60V. The HyperX Beast have large heatsinks on them that go up 1.55-inches, as has been typical of the HyperX series in the past.

Benchmarks

For testing these memory kits the following testbed was used:

While the Apacer Armor 8GB kit started off with a speed of 1600MHz [CL at 9-9-9-24] (default for Ivy Bridge), the Kingston HyperX Beast ran at 1333MHz. This was quickly remedied in the BIOS by selecting 1600MHz[CL at 9-8-9-24] in XMP Profile 2. Profile 1 sets it up straight to 2133MHz. The Apacer Armor just had one option for XMP, which was 2133MHz.

Conclusion

It’s nice to see both Apacer and Kingston perform on par with each other. However, with the short height the Apacer Armor has an edge on Kingston. That said, the difference between these two memory kits in real world is negligible.

 

We’re talking about nanoseconds here, and general performance differences between the two kits won’t be noticeable. Still, it’s nice to know that if you’re building a high-end gaming system, that your memory is not causing any bottlenecks. Both Apacer Armor and Kingston HyperX Beast memory kits perform incredibly well, and you cannot go wrong with either company. Perhaps the only thing to consider, given the small price difference, is that Apacer comes with 3 years warranty, while Kingston gives lifetime coverage.

Quick Look: Samsung NX20 & NX1000 Cameras

January 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Quick Look, Spotlight

Samsung’s new lineup of digital cameras is doing something different to stand out from the crowd. Yes, there’s way too many digital cameras from mulitple companies in the market already fighting for the best image quality and specifications. But instead of trying to outdo other companies in that regard, Samsung is focusing on their strengths – innovation. And hence, their lineup has some very nifty features that most other cameras in the market do not offer. Today, we’ll do a quick look of 2 of their latest cameras – the big-league Samsung NX20 as well as its smaller counterpart NX1000.

NX20

To start off with the NX20, this is one of the higher end models in Samsung’s lineup and is being marketed as the closest to a DSLR that they have. From the looks of it, it definitely exudes the body of a compact DSLR. The design is very much like a DSLR with the buttons placed just the way you’re familiar with. But at the same time, Samsung has managed to keep the device light and portable without the big lens on (the pancake lenses are much more portable and lighter). Even the screen itself can swivel around, just like the newer DSLR’s like 600D and others. On the design end, Samsung has succeeded in making this a DSLR-like body without the added weight that most of them have.

On the specifications side, the NX20 packs enough power to compete with the best of mirrorless cameras in the market. With a 20.3MP APS-C CMOS Sensor, 1080p video recording, 3 inch AMOLED screen, ISO 100-12800, features like 3D Panorama and intelligent auto modes, Samsung hasn’t cut any corners power-wise. And because of that, the image quality doesn’t disappoint from the brief tests that we conducted with it. There’s a lot of detail in the images which come out vibrant and vivid and actually not only match the quality of other competing mirrorless compact cameras in the market but also some entry level DSLR’s in the market.

But it’s the extra features where the camera really impresses – particularly the built in Wi-Fi on the camera that allows transfer of images without the need of a memory card slotting into your laptop. Other cameras are catching up to this technology, but Samsung can boast being one of the first cameras to do so in the market. Then there’s also the I-Function lens system, which allows you to control the most common shooting elements through the focus ring of compatible lenses and that’s a huge timesaver that I’m sure other companies will implement soon enough. The ability to automatically select shooting modes is something that professionals may frown upon, but it allows casual users to take the best pictures out of an already robust camera system.

Overall, the Samsung NX20 is a surprisingly impressive entry into the mirror-less camera segment with great design and solid image quality to boot. But most of all, there’s functional features here that are hard to find in the segment that give it the overall edge.

NX1000

Next up is the Samsung NX1000, which serves as the little brother to Samsung’s big boy lineup. But don’t mistake it to be underpowered, because the NX1000 is targeted for people looking for an even more compact and more importantly pocketable camera that still has enough power inside it for great image quality. And NX1000 slots in right there for that need. The camera feels lighter than the NX20, but that has to do with the plastic body used in the model. The design itself is quite appealing and mirrors a DSLR a lot in terms of the dials and buttons, but of course this is a small mirrorless camera which means it doesn’t have the ability to change lenses and comes with a default 20-50mm zoom lens.

With a 20.3 megapixels APS-C sensor, a lot of the features from its bigger brother are carried over into this camera including the Wi-Fi capabilities which is impressive. The 8fps continuous shooting mode leads to some very snappy shots when the time calls for it, but the zoom isn’t particularly helpful in that regard but does the job adequately. The image quality doesn’t quite match the NX20 in terms of detail and color, but does a very good job for its size and will impress with its swift autofocus. Also impressive is the fact that the camera can record a full 1080p resolution video that looks pretty good and crisp. In night shots, there may be some noise issues as well as shakiness since there’s no strong image stabilization built in, but that’s a problem with every camera of this size.

Conclusion

In the end, Samsung NX1000 complements the NX20 in a positive manner. Both these cameras show that Samsung is here to make a dent in the camera market and aren’t further behind in terms of specifications of quality, and may even be a step or two ahead in terms of the extra bells and whistles designed to make your life easier. Depending on your budget, both these cameras are solid choices in a market saturated with digital cameras.

R.I.P Netbooks

January 2, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Asus and Acer today announced they will stop making netbooks, putting the final nail in the coffin for the once popular consumer PC.

Netbooks could be considered the precursor for tablet-PCs, for it was small, compact, and cheap, yet packing enough power to do basic tasks such as browsing, Word processing, or watching a movie. The trend kicked off in 2007 when Asus launched their Eee model, and was soon joined by other manufacturers such as Dell, Acer and HP as sales for netbooks skyrocketed.

But with the explosion of powerful tablet-PCs and touchscreen notebooks, netbooks no longer looked attractive, with sales slumping to just 1.1 million units in 2011. With such poor sales and an increasingly declining consumer interest, PC makers started to abandon making netbooks, with the final two being Acer and Asus now announcing that they are giving up on the platform as well.

Did you ever owned a netbook? Do you still use it or have you replaced it with a tablet-PC? Let us know in the comments below!

Touch-friendly version of Ubuntu coming soon?

January 2, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Ubunutu has long been one of the more popular Linux distributions out there, and it seems that the free OS is about to release a new touch-friendly version of the OS.

A countdown timer has appeared on the OS’s homepage teasing “So close, you can almost touch it”, indicating that an OS release is imminent that will be optimized for touch-enabled PCs. Canonical, the company that publishes Ubuntu, has long hinted that the OS would feature touch integration and its latest OS mimics a design that would work fairly well on a touch-enabled PC.

Ubunutu has in the past hinted that it would like to also appear on handsets in the future, which would enable more powerful devices to function as both a smartphone and a full-fledged desktop PC. Another ambitious project is to also bring Ubuntu to TVs in the near future.

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