F FULL STEAM AHEAD: PC AND TRAIN IN ONE!

THE BEST-S ST-SELLING MAG FOR PC HARDWARE, O ST-S G G O W WA E, OVERCLOCK G, G CLOCKING GAMING & MODDING G O G

BUILD YOUR DREAM PC
Make a technology masterpiece just like the pros Water-cooled and hand-modified

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XMAS CHEER: 16 MINCE PIES TESTED TED

ISSUE 113

FEB 2013

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AFFORDABLE ABLE CHASSIS FROM £40

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WorldMags.net Welcome to Issue 113
EDITOR BenHardwidge editor@custompc.co.uk TECHNICALEDITOR HarryButler GAMESEDITOR JoeMartin ARTEDITOR BillBagnall PRODUCTIONEDITOR JulieBirrell CONTRIBUTORS AntonyLeather, CliffHarris, GarethHalfacree,JamesGorbold, JimKillock,LucySherriff, MatthewLambert,MikeJennings, PaulGoodhead,RickLane, SimonTreadaway,TracyKing PHOTOGRAPHY AntonyLeather, DannyBird • GROUPADVERTISINGMANAGER BenTopp +44(0)2079076625 ben_topp@dennis.co.uk ACCOUNTMANAGER AdamMcDonnell +44(0)2079076620 adam_mcdonnell@dennis.co.uk SALESEXECUTIVE FinanTesfay +44(0)2079076898 finan_tesfay@dennis.co.uk USADVERTISINGDIRECTOR MatthewSullivan-Pond +16467179555 matthew_sullivan@dennis.co.uk

Editorial

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DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

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February 2013

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Welcome to Issue 113

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Custom-madeparts, gorgeouswatercoolingloopsand effectivelightingarethehallmarkof anelitePC.Ifyou’veeverwondered howtostartputtingtogetherarig thatlookslikeitwasbuiltbyapro, ratherthanabog-standardbunch ofcomponentsinablackboxthen thisisthefeatureforyou.This month,wedelveintothelustworthy worldofsuper-premiumhardware andcustomisation,showingyou howtobuildyourowndreamPC forafractionofthecostofareadybuiltmachine.

BUILD YOUR DREAM PC

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Dogamersreallypwnyoungdoctors atroboticsurgery?

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CALLOFMEDICALDUTY

Siliconoxidepromisestoreplace flashmemorywithtransparentchips.

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FLASHINTHEPAN

Afterpullingourlegswithitsfirst Indilinxcontroller,OCZnowrevealsitsfirst SSDwithaproperin-housecontroller.

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OCZVECTOR256GB

meanmakinghugecompromises.Weround uptenlow-pricechassistofindtheperfect homeforabudgetbuild.

MINCEPIEMEGATEST

IsitatrainoraPC?Coulditbeboth? WetakealookatLianLi’sPC-CK101–aPC casethatalsodoublesupasamodeltrain, completewithtrackandmotorisedwheels.

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BACKONTRACK

Whichisthebestpietoleavefor Santa?IstheDuchyOriginalstillawful? Findoutinourbiggesteverfestive megatest,featuring16pies.

Featuringacompletelynew plotline,andabrand-newcampaign-based multiplayermode.

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FARCRY3

BUDGETCASES
Affordablecasesdon’tnecessarily

HOWGAMESLOOKTO DEVELOPERS

Likeyou’repermanentlywanderingaroundin debugmode.

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1ssue 113
Palicomp Alpha Blade

Hardware
PC

Reviewed this month
PRODUCTS REVIEWED

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CASE 38 In Win H-Frame 40 Lian Li PC-CK101 SSD 44 OCZ Vector 256GB

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CPU COOLER Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Top Flow SR1

MOUSE 47 Roccat Kone XTD SCROLL SAW 48 Dremel Moto-Saw

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Havingtroublecompletingyour Christmaslist?Letusgiveyouahand.

108 CHRISTMASWISHLIST 116 121

8 From the editor 11 Tracy King 12 Digital rights 14 Interview 16 Incoming 18 Science! 20 Mobile tech watch 24 CPC Elite products 50 How we test 82 Grumpy gamer 92 Dev perspective 94 The engine room 128 Retro tech 130 James Gorbold 112 116

Regulars

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Mince pie megatest

Fortnum & Mason St. Clements Morrisons Deep-Filled Asda Extra Special Tesco Finest with Courvoisier Duchy Originals Organic Mr Kipling Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Selfridges Deep Filled Sainsbury’s SO Organic Heston from Waitrose Marks & Spencer All Butter LIDL Snowy Lodge Deep Filled Asda Harrods Luxury Almond & Brandy ALDI Holly Lane Luxury Waitrose All Butter

Custom kit
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House of Marley Exodus CPU Wars Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Glowlight

Budget case Labs test
59 60 61 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 84 86 87 88 90
Antec One Antec Three Hundred Two BitFenix Shinobi Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus Corsair Carbide 200R Enermax Ostrog Fractal Design Core 3000 NZXT Source 210 SilverStone RL01 Xigmatek Midgard II

MAINTAINYOURWATERCOOLINGLOOP

Community

Ourcompleteguidetocleaningthrough toflushingtheloopandgeneraltuning.

MAKEALOW-PROFILE ADAPTOR

Howtofixacardwithalow-profilePCB, butonly afull-sizedbackplate.

Readers’ drives How to maintain your watercooling loop 121 How to make a low-profile card adaptor 122 Letters 125 Folder of the month 126 Your folding milestones

Games

Far Cry 3 007 Legends Hotline Miami Kairo SimCity

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ISINTELREALLY IS INTEL REALLY ‘KILLING’PC ENTHUSIASM?

from the editor

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Rumours abound that Intel plans to stop making CPUs in separate packages, but is this significant for us?
igashelter,adoptthebracepositionandpreparefortotal annihilationofyourhobby.Apparently,Intelis‘killingthe desktop’andPCsarenolongerrelevant.Atleast,that’sthe rumourcirculatingtheWeb,mainlyduetoanarticleonSemiAccurate (http://tinyurl.com/DesktopRumours)claimingthatIntelisplanning tostopsellingCPUsindividually,andinsteadintegratetheminto motherboards.Accordingtothepiece,Intel’sforthcomingBroadwell architecturewon’tcomeinseparateLGAchippackages. Theremaybesometruthinthisclaim–atthemoment,it’svery difficulttotell,andIcertainlyhaven’tseenenoughevidencefrommy contactstoconfirmeitherway.However, it’simportanttoaddresssomeofthe extravaganthyperbolethat’sbeingflungin thedirectionofcomputerhobbyists,and considerifthisrumour,whethertrueor not,issignificant. Idon’tthinkitis.I’vesaidthisbefore,and I’llsayitagain–theCPUisnolongeran essentialupgradeforPCusers.Inthesamewaythatmostpeople nolongerbuyseparatenetworkcardsandsoundcards,sincethe integratedversionsareadequate,thesamecouldbepossiblefor CPUstoo.Behonest–howmanytimesdoyouchangetheCPUin yourmotherboardthesedays? Infact,we’vealreadyseentheindustryheadinginthisdirection, withmotherboardsfeaturingintegratedAMDAPUsandbudgetIntel CPUs.Thisdoesn’tmeanthedesktopisdead–itmeansit’sevolving, asitalwayshasdone.TheissueformeiswhetherIntelplanstolimit itsnewCPUstojustitsownmotherboards,ifthisrumouristrue,or whetheritwillallowothermanufacturerstomaketheboards.I honestlycan’tenvisagetheformer–Intel’sbusinesshasalways thrivedonthebasisthatOEMpartnerscancaterforeverysingle

Remove the ability to bend pins, and you have a much more controllable system that people can’t bodge up

possiblecornerofthemarketforIntel’schips.Removethat,andyou sellfewerchips. Basically,asaPCenthusiast,thefactIcanreplacetheCPUinmy motherboardisnowlargelyirrelevant–I’mprettysuremyCPUwill befastenoughforthelifetimeofmymotherboard.WhatmakesPC enthusiasm,forme,isn’ttheabilitytoswapoutaCPU,butthe opportunitytochoosemyowngraphicscardandotherexpansion cards.Italsoinformsmychoiceofchassisandcoolingsetup,and whetherI’mgoingtomodifymycaseinanyway.Youcanstillmake yourownscratch-builtcaseforamotherboardwithanintegrated CPU,andI’dbesurprisedifInteldidn’t haveplanstomakeoverclocking-friendly versionsoftheseintegratedchips,ifthis rumourdoeshaveanytruthinit. IalsocompletelyunderstandwhyIntel wouldgodownthisroute,formuchthe samereasonasitchangedfromasocket systemtothecurrentLGApinarrays:it willreducereturnsandRMAs,forbothmotherboardsandCPUs. Removetheabilitytobendpins,andyouhaveamuchmore controllablesystemthatpeoplecan’tbodgeup. ThedesktopPChasbeenaroundforover30years,andit’salways changedandevolvedinthattime,withagreateremphasisbeingput onintegratedcomponents.Thisdoesn’tmeanthatPCenthusiasmis dead,orthatdesktopPCsarefinished.Itjustmeansthatonemore partofthepuzzlehasbeennaileddown. BenHardwidgeistheeditorofCustomPC.HelikesPCs,realale andWarhammer40,000.
EDITOR@CUSTOMPC.CO.UK @MANSHARK

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CALL OF MEDICAL DUTY

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Gamers pwn young doctors at robotic surgery, says the news. Not necessarily, says Tracy King
amingisn’tbrainsurgery,right?Anyonecandoit.However, arecentstudybyDrKilicattheUniversityofTexashasbeen hailedbythepressashavingfoundsomeinterestingparallels betweengamingskillsandroboticsurgery.Or,asonepublicationput it:‘GamersPwnYoungDoctorsAtRoboticSurgery’.Well,no,notquite. Thetheoryisquitestraightforward.Roboticsurgeryrequiresa specificsetofphysicalandmentalskillsthatmayalsobefoundat equallevelsingamers.Thinkingyouknowsomethingisn’tthe sameasprovingit,though,otherwisewe’dallstillbeblood-lettingto cureourbadmoods,soDrKiliccreatedastudytocomparesurgeons andgamers. Onegroupofteenagers(agedaround15) whowereparticularlyadeptatCallofDuty,as wellassports,strategyandracinggames,and whoplayforanaverageoftwohoursperday, wereinvitedtotryaroboticsurgerysimulator. Theirresultswerecomparedtothoseof ‘residents’–realsurgeons-in-training. Ifthisstudyholdsupthenithassome excitingimplications.Notleastbecauseit createsanexcellentargumentforeducational gaminginschools,andhelpstocountersome ofthedemonisingofgamingfromthepressandnon-gamers. However,astheresultshavebeenpresenteduncriticallybythepress, IthoughtI’dtakeacloserlook,andimmediatelysawthatthekidsdid aswellasthedoctors.Notbetter,astheheadlinesdeclare,butnot worseeither. Athirdgroupwasalsomeasured–olderstudentswhoplaygames foranaverageoffourhoursaday.Thisgroupdidn’tperformanybetter thantheothertwogroups.Hmm.Youwouldassumethatmore practicewouldequalbetterresults.Sincewhendoesextrapractice reduceaskillset? Themostobviousconcernisalackofcontrolgroup.There’sno groupmadeofnon-gamersandnon-surgeons.Withouttheresults fromacontrolgroup,wecan’tknowifthegamergroupperformed wellbecausethey’regamers,orbecauseofanotherfactor,suchas age.Theeffectdecreaseswitholderstudents,despitethosestudents spendingtwiceaslonggaming,soperhapstheyoungerstudentsare justmorefearless,leadingtoamoreconfidentperformance. IemailedDrKilic’sPRdepartmenttoaskforacopyofthepaper (afullwrite-upofthestudy),soIcouldlookatthemethodologyand resultsinmoredetail.Iwassentanabstractinstead,aone-paragraph summaryoftheresults,andwastoldthereisnopaper.Thatisn’t unheardof,butI’mautomaticallysuspicious ofputtingoutapressreleasewithoutapaper behindit,notleastbecausewedon’thave theanswerstobasicquestions.Instead,I contactedDrKilicandaskedhimwhythere wasnocontrolgroup. ‘Wedidn’thaveanon-gamersgroupfrom studentsbecausethestudy’sspecificaimwas toseethebaselineofthesethreegroupson theroboticsimulationexercises’,hetoldme. Thetrouble,asfarasIcansee,isthatyou wouldn’tthenbeabletomakeanyinferenceaboutthecontributionof gamingtotheresults.Theconclusionoftheabstractis:‘Basedonour datawespeculatethatthehighschoolgroupspendingmoretimeon videogamesmayhaveanimpacttohaveimprovedroboticsimulation results.’Idon’tthinktheresultssupportthatconclusion,butDrKilicis doingmorestudiessoit’scertainlyaninterestingonetowatch. GamerandscienceenthusiastTracyKingdissectstheevidence andstatisticsbehindsomeofthepopularmediastories @TKINGDOLL surroundingtechandgaming

The most obvious concern is a lack of control group. There’s no group of non-gamers and non-surgeons

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Jim Killock

A year in digital rights
Digital rights campaigners have had some good wins this year, but there’s clearly still a lot of work to be done

S

omeyears,youlookbackoverthe past12months’eventsandthink, thankGodthat’sover.Youwonderhow onearthhowafewindustrylobbyists andignorant,lazypoliticiansareallowedto decidethefateofourdigitalrights,andhow theycanjustifytheerosionoffreespeechand privacythattheirpolicieswillcause. Youwonderhowcompaniesgetaway withtrivial-soundingsoftwarepatentsthat shutothercompaniesoutofmarkets.You creaseupindespairasthemusicandfilm businessesyetagainshootthemselvesin theirrespectivefeetbyblockingapopular, nottomentionlegal,servicethatmightmake themmoney. However,2012wasn’tcompletelylikethat. Tobefair,somecompanieswereasselfinterested,somelobbyistsasself-serving andsomepoliticiansasignorantasever.But therewasonemajordifference,whichwas thatpeoplesuchasyouwonsomevery significantvictories,andnewmovements grewonthebackofthesesuccesses.

ACTA AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY ACT
ProtestsacrossEuropecausedamajor rethinkabouttheinternationalAntiCounterfeitingTradeAgreement(ACTA), whichthreatenedtopushnewprivate copyrightenforcementmeasuresontoISPs, aswellasweakeningprotectionssuchasthe privacyofcitizensandpushingcriminal penaltiesforlargescale,non-commercial copyrightinfringement. Negotiatedinprivate,Europeanprotesters sawthetreatyasillegitimateandpartofa patternofworldwidedemands,including SOPAandPIPA,tocontrolandcensorthe Internetbycopyrightlobbygroups. WhileACTAwasvoteddownintheEU parliament,partsofitsurviveinother internationaltradeproposals,includingthe Canadian-EUTradeAgreement(CETA).Now thatamovementisawareoftheproblems, it’seasiertoattackCETA,butsecretive negotiationscontinue.EuropeanandUK officialsneedtochangethewaytheyconduct

businesswhentheynegotiateaboutthe Internet.TheInternettoucheseveryoneand everything,notjustbusinessandmarkets. Meanwhile,theDigitalEconomyAct,which couldresultinhouseholdsbeingcutofffrom theInternetaftercopyrightinfringement allegationsisstillnotinoperation.Currently, theTreasuryisholdingitupwhileitthinks aboutthecosts.Currentestimatesarethat hundredsofthousandsofletterswillstartto gooutin2014,whichisroughlywhenwe expectthenextelection.Meanwhile,thesister actHadopiinFranceisprovingexpensive, whilethelevelofgrowthinFrenchdigital musicrevenuesislowerthanitisintheUK. TheUKcourtshaveagreedtoblockPirateBay andNewzbin,butthegovernmenthasalso agreedtorepealnewwebblockingpowers createdintheDigitalEconomyAct.

MEGAUPLOAD
KimDotcom’sfilehostingcompanywas shutdownaftercopyrightlobbygroups complainedthatitwasdeliberately

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LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is one of many books that comes out of copyright this year

encouragingcopyright infringement.Whatever thereality,theseizureof serversandshuttingof theserviceleftmany legitimateusersinthe lurch. Theseizureitself will also have made many willalsohavemademany legitimateservices nervousaboutthestandardsofevidenceand thepossiblemeasuresthatmaybetaken againstthemiftheyareincopyrightholders’ badbooks.ISPs,GoogleandYouTubehaveall beenaccusedofbeingpartytocopyright infringementbydifferentcopyrightgroups overtheyears.

EuropeanprotesterssawACTAaspartofanillegitimatepatternofdemandstocontrolandcensortheInternet

DATA PROTECTION
Labour’splantograbthedetailsofallyour communicationtrafficdata,including mobileandInternetchat,wasrevivedbythe previouslyoutragedConservativeandLib Demcoalition.However,somequick-footed campaigningbytheOpenRightsGroup andotherspersuadedthecoalitiontoslow downandlookattheproposedbillinajoint committee,whichhasbeenverycritical.The proposalslackevidence,justificationandany usefuldetailaboutwhat’sreallyproposed. Ifyoutakeoneactiontodefendyourdigital rightsthisyear,youshouldemailyourMP aboutthisBill. Meanwhile,theEUisgearinguptoimprove dataprotectionlaws,andtherighttoeasily retrieveyourdataandhaveitdeleted,by introducingfinesbasedoncompanyturnover. ArebellionfromUScorporationsisalleging thatitwilldamagetheirbusinesses,whileEU regulatorshavetoughenedupenforcement– forinstance,againstGoogle’schangestoits privacypolicy.

repealofthesectionaregrowing.Social mediahasalsobroughtupanotherissue, whichisthatnoweveryoneisapublisher, they’realsoeasytosueforlibel. It’seasytosuppressfreespeechinthe UKwhenthestakessurroundinglibelare sohigh.Reformersarecallingforapublic interestdefence.

IS LEGISLATION REALLY NEEDED, SINCE THIS IS WHAT ISPS ARE ALREADY DOING? PROBABLY NOT
PORN FILTERING
Governmentplansfora‘defaultpornfilter’are unravelling,afterseveralthousandInternet userswrotetotheofficialconsultationtopoint outtheill-informedanddangerousnatureof theidea.DavidCameronrecentlywroteinthe DailyMailthatparentswouldbeaskedto installfilters,butwouldneedtochoosethe setupinordertoprotecttheirchildren appropriately.Islegislationreallyneeded, sincethisiswhatISPsarealreadydoing? Probablynot.

whowroteAnneofGreenGables.There’s plentyofothermaterialtoo,ifyou’realiterary type,andsomegreat-soundingpulpfiction. I’maddingAlexanderBelyayev’sProfessor Dowell’sHeadtomynewyearreadinglist.It seemsit’soneofthefirstsci-finovelsabouta disembodiedheadbeingkeptalivebyanevil scientist.Great!Also,isitjustme,ordoes copyrightlastalittlelongerthanreasonable? Meanwhile,severalstoriesappearedthis pastyearthathighlightedthelackofrightsto yourdownloads,includingerroneousreports aboutBruceWillis.Youdon’treally‘buy’ ebooks,iTunesfilmsorMP3s;youjustrent themforyourlifetime.Theydeleteonexpiry. Yours,thatis.

NE XT YEAR
I’msure2013willbeanotherbusyyear,but itmightbeayearwherewecarryonwinning. Maybenotineveryrespect,butatleastin someareas.Asmorepeoplebecome dependentondigitaltechnologies,their interestindefendingreasonablelaws becomesstronger,anditbecomesmore difficultforgovernmentstofollowtheir analogueinstincts.

TWITTER ARRESTS AND L IBEL
Aspateof‘Section127’arrestsforsickjokes, ghoulishcommentsaboutsoldiersand swearingatlocalcouncillorsonsocialmedia sitesiscreatingconcernamongfreespeech campaignersintheUK.Callsforreform,or

COPYRIGHT
Everyyear,copyrightsexpire.Thisyear,works byauthorsthatdiedin1942enterthepublic domain,soyoucangettheirbooksforfree, remixthem,orevenmakeplays,translations andfilmswithoutpermission.Probablythe biggesthouseholdnameisLMMontgomery,

isexecutivedirectorof campaignorganisation TheOpenRightsGroup (www.openrightsgroup.org) @jimkillock

JIM KILLOCK

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PhotobyIvoKruusamägi

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Joe Martin
Interviewee: Steffen Kabbelgaard, BetaDwarf

Described as ‘Diablo meets Left 4 Dead’, BetaDwarf’s action-RPG Forced has lofty ambitions for a small studio project. Joe Martin investigates

Amateur hour

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heterms‘gamesstudio’or ‘developmentcompany’conjureup imagesofprofessionalteamsand expensiveoffices.Thatisn’talways thecase,however,asthepeopleintheteam behindaction-RPGForcedprovedwhen theymetatuniversity.Here,wecatchup withBetaDwarf’sCEOandgamedirector SteffenKabbelgaard. CPC:So,tellusabouthowtheteamcameto worktogether? Steffen:Well,KennethHarder[nowlead programmer]andIfoundedBetaDwarf twoyearsagoatauniversityin Denmark.Wehadexperience workinginsmallteams,and wantedtotrysomethingslightly biggerandmoreprofessional, suchasstartingacompanyto prepareforthefuture.Sowe auditionedsomestudents andfoundnineotherswho hadshowntalentand dedication.Therewerenineof uswhenwestarteddevelopment. CPC:Whatwastheinspiration behindForced,andhowdidyoustart workonit? Steffen:Itactuallystartedasa top-downlightRPGscroller.We workedonthatand,whenwe

Forcedisa gladiatorcombat game,based ontactical cooperative gameplay withtwoto fourplayers

werehappywiththebasiccontrols, westartedexperimentinglike crazy.Allkindsoffeatures weretried;weusedmaps fromHeroesofMightand Magic,resourcegathering, co-opcitybuildingandsoon. Ishoulddefinitelyadmitthat thiswasalsoduetomyself beinganon-experienced designer/director.Atthat timeIhadn’trealisedthe importanceofstructuringthe team’sdirection,whichresultedinalot ofdisappointmentduetofeaturecuts. CPC:Howdidtheteam’shistoryof moddinginfluencethegame?Tell usaboutthephilosophybehind Forced’sdesign.

Steffen:Wewantedtoensurethatnomatter whatwedid,modtoolswouldbeavailableto everyone.Moddingishowwestarted,so naturallywewanttoseepeoplehavethe toolstocreatesomethingawesome. CPC:Howchallengingwasitforyoutostay focusedduringthattime? Steffen:Wespentourfirstyearsimply learninghowtomakegames.It’shard, especiallywithabigteamofnoobs,andwe hadatonneoffailureswhereelements constantlyhadtoberedone–ourartstyle wasscrappedthreetimes!Itwasimmensely demandingtoasktheartteamtoredo everythingbecauseitwasn’tbeautifulenough. AsIalreadymentioned,Ialsofailedalotas adesigner;Iwasconstantlyexperimenting withdesignideasandfeaturesthatwere waytoocrazy,whichIshouldn’thavedone.

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TheBetaDwarf team

Theprojectwasalsoveryambitious–3D, multiplayer,onlineandAI–butthatmeant welearnedalottoo. CPC:Mostoftheteamlivestogethertoo. Howhasthatworkedoutforyou? Steffen:Ha!YouknowaTVstationactually wantedtofilmusallbecauseitimagined therewouldbealotofconflicts?Buttheonly problemsarebasicallyrelatedtocleaning, musicandbasicmaintenance.Imean,we’re geeks!Whenthegrassgrew,we’djustthink, ‘Wow,itdoesthat?’ Socially,theteamhasbeenreallyrespectful. Itclashesnowandthen,butwehaveahuge focusonconstructivedialogue.Wealsotake personalmeetingsreallyseriously,andhave pointssystemsthatoffergradestopeople,so theireffortsarejudgedwithtransparency. We’reaimingforaflathierarchy. Beforewemovedtothehouse,which allowedalotmoreprivacy(eventhoughwe don’thaveourownrooms),wewereliving

WE HAD EVERYTHING – TOOTHBRUSHES, A BED, FOOD, CLOTHES AND OUR COMPUTERS, SO WHY WOULD WE GO HOME?
togetherinoneroom.Itwasthisdeserted classroom,andwereallylivedthere.Wehad everything–toothbrushes,abed,food,lots ofclothesandourcomputers,sowhywould wegohome?Peoplestartedskippingtheir apartmentstosaveoncosts,becausethey onlyusedtheirhomesforwashingclothes. Wewonderedifwewerethefirstpeopleto literallyliveatauniversity.Oneofthesecurity guardsevendidsomeworkonthegame! CPC:Hasitbeenhardtopromotethegame? Steffen:TheDanishgamesindustryisvery small.We’reonlyhavearound700developers,

andonlyoneAAAstudio(I/Ointeractive). However,thatmeansit’salsoreallyhelpful andsupportive.I’veoccasionallysentemails orcalledotherCEOstogetadvice,andyou don’tfeelthecompetitionatall. AlotofothercompanieshereinDenmark havealreadysupportedourKickstarter project!ThepromotionofForcedhasbeen achallengingtask,butontheotherhand, I’veneverpromotedagamebefore,sowho amItojudge? CPC:Whatadvicewouldyougivetoother youngdevelopers? Steffen: Failasfastasyoucan.Startmaking ambitiousgamesthatpushyoutothelimit, findsomepartnersandstartfailing!Isayitlike thatbecauseit’simportanttofailandexpose yourselfwithpotentiallystinkingprojects.It’s aboutbeingnakedandfearless–armedwith akeyboard. Gotowww.forcedthegame.comformore information.

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NEW HARDWARE

We take a look at the latest newly announced products

CPUcoolershaven’tjustbeengettingtaller.Irritatingly,they’vealso beengrowingwider,whileinsomecasesnotgivingenoughclearance formemory,leavingyouwithjustthreeofyourslotsaccessible. CrucialreckonsitmighthavetheanswerwithitsnewBallistixSport VeryLowProfile(VLP)memory,though,whichitclaimsarebetween 15and35percentshorterthanitscompetitors’offerings;theshort DIMMsbarelyhaveanycircuitboardabovethefirstnotchhole.The newmemoryisavailablenow,withan8GB(2x4GB)1,600MHz9-9-924kitcurrentlygoingfor£35.99incVATfromwww.crucial.com/uk

KEEP A LOW PROFILE

Notcontentwithjustusingitsinnovativevapour-chambercooling systemsonitsowngraphicscards,AMDpartnerSapphirehasjust releaseditsfirstCPUcooler,forawiderangeofbothIntelandAMD sockets.ThecoolerisbasedonSapphire’sVapor-Xtechnology, withthevapourchambermakingdirectcontactwiththeCPU. AccordingtoSapphire,themonstrouscooler,whichmeasures 135x110x1634mm(WxDxH)andincludestwo120mmfans,can copewithamaximumthermalloadof200W-potentiallyenough forevenanoverclockedLGA2011rig.There’snowordonUK pricingandavailabilityyet,butSapphiresaysthenewcooler shouldretailfor$69(£43)intheUSA.

SAPPHIRE CPU COOLERS

Thepastmonthhasseenacoupleofnotabledriverreleasesintimeforthe bumperChristmasgamecrop.Forastart,Nvidiahasreleasedabetaversion ofits310.64GeForcedriver(www.geforce.co.uk/drivers/results/53378); thegreenteamsaysthiscanboosttheframerateinFarCry3byupto38per centat1,920x1,080with8xMSAAonitsGeForceGTX670,680and690 cards.Thecompanyalsosaysthedrivercangiveyouuptoa26percent improvementinframeratesin CallofDuty:BlackOps2. Speakingofwhich,AMDhas alsoreleasedanew(eighth)beta ofitsCatalyst12.11driver(http:// tinyurl.com/Cat1211Beta).The companyclaimsthiswillincrease CrossFireperformanceinBlack Ops2at2,560x1,600,whilealso improvingFarCry3performance onsingle-GPUsystems.

NEW GRAPHICS DRIVERS A GO-GO

WD BLACK DRIVES HIT 4TB
Forthehungrydatahoarderwhostillneedsmorestorage space,WesternDigitalhasjustreleasedthefirst4TB desktopharddriveinitshigh-performanceBlackrange. ThenewWDBlack4TBdrive (modelnumberWD4001FAEX) spinsitsplattersat7,200rpm andfeatures64MBofcache,a dual-processorcontrolsystem andaSATA6Gbpsinterface, althoughthelatterwon’tmake anydifferenceonamechanical storagedevice.Accordingto WesternDigital,thedriveis shippingnow,withanRRPof £240incVAT.

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Lucy Sherriff

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Thegeneralconsensusisthatexisting flashmemorycanonlycontinuetobe scalableforanotherfouryears

Flash in the pan
F
orsometechnology,thebeckoning fingerofobsolescenceisgrowing toocloseforcomfort.Flashmemory, forexample,isbasedona22nm architecture,andtheconsensusisthatithas roughlyfourmoreyearsbeforeitreachesthe limitsofscalability.Thereareseveralpotential replacementsalreadyinmind,withserious researchbehindthem,themosthighprofile probablybeingphasechangememory.Now, however,researchersatRiceUniversityin Texaswanttothrowanothercontenderinto thering. Thankstoarecentbreakthrough,thelatest seriousoptionforthememoryindustryto considerisanoldfriend:siliconoxide.The materialtantalisinglypromisesgenuine3D re-writeablememory.Thechipsare95per centtransparentandcanbebuiltonaflexible plasticsubstrate.What’smore,theycanbe stackedontopofoneanother,sincetheyhave justtwoterminals;onemadeofgrapheneand theotherofindiumtinoxide. Butsurelythisshouldn’tworkatall.Isn’t siliconoxideaninsulator?Thesimpleanswer

Silicon oxide promises to replace flash memory with transparent chips that can be stacked on top of each other
is‘yes’,butundertherightconditions,it retainsthecapacitytosurprise.Thisisdespite thefactthat,accordingtoRiceUniversity professorJamesTour,it’sthemoststudied materialinthehistoryofmankind. Thestorystartsin2007,whenTour’sgroup wasworkingonamemorysystemofcarbon depositedonsiliconoxide.Theexperiment hadstripsofgraphite–pencillead-deposited ontheSiOsubstrate.Theresearchersnoticed thatastrongvoltagewouldbreakthecarbon, andalowervoltagewouldthenhealandbreak thecircuitagain,givingthemcontrollable0 and1states–thefundamentalbasisof computermemory. Whathasnowbeenshownisthatthe currentwasstrippingthesiliconoxideofits oxygen,inaverysmallchanneljust5nmwide, leavingbehind puresiliconfilaments.This phenomenon-dielectricbreakdown–willbe familiartoanyonewhohasGoogled‘lightning’. Lightningwillalwaysfindapathintheairto connectthecurrenttoEarth,eventhoughthe airisaninsulator,saysJunYao,whowasa post-gradstudentinTour’sresearchgroup. Butwhilethepathofalightningboltisswept awaybythecurrentsoftheatmosphere,the pathtakenbythecurrentthroughthesilicon oxideremainsleftbehind. ‘Underproperconditions–suitablevoltage –asmallamountofoxygenatomsinside thesiliconoxidewouldbedrivenout,leaving atinysiliconpathwayinsidethesiliconoxide, whichissimilartothelightningpathway,so thatthecurrentcanconductthroughit,’Yao says.‘Onceit’sformed,youcanbreakor rebridgethispathwaybyapplyingdifferent voltages,sothecurrentcangothroughornot inacontrollablemanner–a‘1’stateor‘0’ state.Ifyoumakealargenumberofthese units,alargeamountofinformationcanbe stored,transformingintothecombinationof aseriesof‘1’and‘0’digits.’ Nowthegrouphasdemonstrateda workingchip,Tourhopesthepedigreeof thematerialwillhelptocommercialisethe technology.‘Siliconoxideisawell-knownand acceptedmaterial–itwillbeallowedinafab andontothefablines.Theindustryalready knowshowtogrowandmanipulateit,and

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February 2013

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makecircuitrywithit,’heargues.‘They’renot goingtosay,“Well,itlooksgood,butwereally don’tknowwhatthismaterialmightdo.”It’s alsoradiation-hardandverystable,soit’s goodforapplicationsinspace.’Samplesof thechipshavealreadymadetheirwaytothe InternationalSpaceStation,wherethe material’sabilitytowithstandtheharsh spaceenvironmentisbeingtested. Therearestillissues,ofcourse.Toursays theOffstateisgreat,buttheOncurrentisn’t asgoodastheteamwouldlike.Theforming voltageis3-5Vhigherthantheresearchers thinkindustrywouldacceptintermsofpower consumption,asistheerasevoltage.Getting itdowntosub-1Visthegoal,andToursaysthe teamhassomeideasabouthowtodothat. ‘Flashgetsawaywith[aformingvoltageof] 12Vbecauseitrunsatpicoamps.Thecurrent isverylow,butoursisn’t,sowecan’tgetaway withahighervoltage.Thisisthekindof problemthatgetssolvedbyindustry,andI’m sureitwouldbesolvedrelativelyquicklywith armiesofpeopleworkingonit,’Touradds. Industrial-scaleresearchandfabexpertise wouldalsodoubtlessboosttheworkingyield, whichstandsat80percentinthelab. Thegrouphasshownthatthematerialcan withstandroughly10,000cyclesbeforeitstops working,whichiscomparabletoflash.And, likeflash,itcanplaythemulti-statescaling game,potentiallyincreasingcapacityfurther. Itsoundspromisingnow.Butbackin2007, theresearchersassumeditwasthecarbon thatwascausingtheswitchingbehaviour,and suggestionsthatthesiliconoxidemightbe playingaroleweremetwithhostilityand derision.JunYao,nowapost-docwiththe LieberGroupatHarvard,explains:‘Since siliconoxideisnormallyinsulating,itwas straightforwardforcolleaguestobelievethat thecarbonmaterialwastheunderlyingcause forthememoryeffect,althoughnothingwas knownabouthowitreallyworked.Eventually, itturnedoutthatthememorysystemstill workedregardlessofthepresenceofcarbon material,aslongasthesiliconoxidewas there.Sothiswasindirect,butstilltelling, evidenceofthesilicon-oxiderole.’ TourincludedabriefmentionofYao’s suggestionthatsiliconoxidemightplayapart intheinitialpaperthegrouppublishedonthe

ProfessorJamesTour’steamatRiceUniversityisresearchinganewtypeofre-writeablememorybasedonsilicon oxide.Thechipsarenotonly95percenttransparent,butarealsostackable

research;amovewhichriledsomeofYao’s colleagues.‘TheRussianpost-docsslammed him,’Toursayswithasmileinhisvoice.‘And there’sJunYao,justquietlypluggingaway.He showedthatyoudon’tneedcarbon;thatyou canmakethewholethingtransparent,and youcanmakeinvisiblememory.’ Havingdemonstratedtheswitching behaviourwithnocarboninvolved,Yao’snext challengewastoexplainwhatwasactually happening,saysTour.‘Criticsasked:“Ifit’s

THIS PHENOMENON – DIELECTRIC BREAKDOWN – WILL BE FAMILIAR TO ANYONE WHO HAS GOOGLED ‘LIGHTNING’
nano-filamentsofsiliconforming,whycanwe notgateitandseethemodulation?”Itturned outthatitwasn’tatypicalsemiconductorform ofsilicon;itwasmetallicinnature,andmetals can’tbegated.’ Yaodecidedthattheonlywaytoknowfor surewastotrytowatchitinrealtime.This meantmovingtheentireexperiment–the siliconoxidesample,withallitsleads–inside thehighvacuumofatransmissionelectron microscope(TEM).Thisway,hecouldshoot theelectronbeamthroughthesampleasthe voltagewasbeingapplied,andwatchthe siliconfilamentsforming. ‘Thekittodothiscost$100K,whichis beyondmybudget,soYaowentandbuiltit himselfinthemachineshopforabout$1,500.

Therewerenoleaks,evenattheplaceswhere theleadshadtogoin,’Toursays,clearlystill marvellingathispost-grad’sachievement. Tourmentionsthathe’sshownthe technologytoIntel,SamsungandTexas Instruments,andwhileeachhasaviewonthe research,thereisn’tenoughdataforindustry toinvestyet.‘Itreallycouldbegoodenoughto beaflashcompetitor,butitneedsmore peopleworkingonit.Ifit’sjustmygroup,then itwon’tseeenoughdaylight.Butifithasfour, sixoreightgroups,there’sachance.Our resultshavebeenrepeatedinEurope,atthe UniversityofTexasandinChina.’ Hesaysthegroupnowneedstobuildabig crossbararraytoshowthatthetechnologyis scalable.Atthetimeofwriting,theteamhas builta1KBunit;asitonlyhastwoterminals, thiscouldbestackedontopofanother‘to makegenuinely3Dre-writeablememory’. ‘Ifthiscomesoff,itwillbedowntothe persistenceofa“lowly”graduatestudent,and whenyouthinkaboutwhatitcouldmeanfor industry…andwhatitcouldmeanforhim?It’s likewatchingoneofyourkidsdowell.JunYao workedsohard.‘It’sinteresting.Thenaysayers neverrepent.Theyjustgoaway.’

isajournalistwitha degreeinastrophysics whoknowsallaboutthe latestscientifictech. @lucysherriff

LUCY SHERRIFF

WorldMags.net

February 2013

19

WorldMags.net
Gareth Halfacree looks at the latest mobile hardware

Intel’s smartphone research
ntelhasrecentlyhitthepress withclaimsit’sdevelopinga 48-coreprocessorfor smartphones(http://is.gd/ intel48core),gettingthejumpon ARManditsmultitudinouslicencees. Eagertodiscoverthetruthbehindthe story,wespoketoJimHeldtofindout what’sreallygoingon. AnIntelFellow,Heldisthelabs directorofIntel’smicroprocessorand programmingresearchteam.It’shis jobtodirectresearchprojectsthat influencefutureprocessordesigns, fromtweakingmicroarchitectures tolarger-scaleprojectssuchas theTerascaleResearchProcessor, an80-corechipdesignedfor supercomputing.Someofhis researchhasalreadybeen commerciallyexploited:the TerascaleResearchProcessorledto thedevelopmentoftheSingle-chip CloudComputer(SCC)andtheXeon PhiacceleratorboardsforhighIntel’s48-coreSingle-chipCloud performancecomputing. Computerissettorevolutionise ‘There’salagbetweenwhenwe mobiledevices,butnotintheway thatsomehavepredicted beginresearchandwhenthings appearinthemarketplace,’explains Held.‘You’reseeingthebenefit–andyouwill centralprocessingcoresandaselectionof intheCorelineaswellastheAtomline–ofthe graphicsprocessingcores,withsomeadding resultsofourresearchintohowtoimprove afifth‘companion’coreforlessdemanding theefficiencyofthemicroarchitecture,andto backgroundtasks.Evenifyouadddigital improvethefine-grainedmanagementofthe signalprocessors(DSPs)foraudio useofpoweronthedie.’ reproductionorcapture,you’realongway from48cores.WhyisIntellookingatsuch MANY-CORE SMARTPHONES? adramaticshift? Thestoryspunbymuchofthecomputing Putsimply,itisn’t.‘Havinglookedatthat pressisofaprojecttocram48processing [ComputerWorld]article,thepointdidn’t coresintofuturesmartphones,providinga comeacrossabouttheresearchthatwas nearone-to-onemappingofapplicationsto goingon,’Heldadmitted.‘Itreallywasn’t cores.It’samajorconceptualshift;modern focusedsomuchonhavinganextremely smartphoneprocessorstypicallyhavefour largenumberofcores,butratheronsomeof

The mobile market is buzzing with news of Intel’s 48-core smartphone CPU. We ask Intel Fellow Jim Held about the company’s mobile intentions
theotherthingsweenabledonthat [SCC]researchchip.Oneofthethings itwaslookingatwashowapplications andruntimesoftwarecouldtake advantageofmulti-core,andgain controloverthepowermanagement featuresinthechip.’

POWER MANAGEMENT
Modernprocessorshavepower managementfeatures,ofcourse, includingdesktopCPUs,butHeld doesn’tthinkthesemeasuresextend farenough. ‘Wewereputtingoutwhatyou mightcallmoredirect,orraw access,tothe[powermanagement] behaviourtoseewhatsoftwarecould makeofit,andexplorealittleabout whatcouldbedoneoutsideoftoday’s regime–P-statesandS-states– andthesystemswenowuseto acceleratethechip. ‘Oneofthemajorwayspower managementfunctionstodayis theoperatingsystemtellingthe hardwarethatit’sidle,thatit’sgoing idle,thatit’sgoingintoareducedlevel ofactivityandalittleabouthowdeeply thechipsleeps,’Heldexplains. ‘Wegavedirectaccesstosettingthe frequency,dividingthefrequencybyjust settingavalueinaregister.Wealsogave accesstoeightdifferentvoltageregulatorsto controlvoltage,sothatthesoftware–notjust theoperatingsystem–couldcontrolthose directly,ratherthangoingintopre-defined powerstatesandthehardwareinferringwhat shouldbedoneinagivencircumstance. ‘Theideaistohaveapplicationsoftware, orruntimeattheapplicationlevel,thathas alotmoreinformationaboutaparticular applicationandwhatitneeds,andwhatit’s

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UsingtechnologyfromtheSCC,Intelisworkingonimprovingpowermanagementin mobiledevices

Futuredeviceswillallowapplication-levelcontroloverthespeedandpowerdrawof individualprocessorcores,accordingtoIntel’sJimHeld

like,ratherthanjustmonitoringthecurrent stateofthesysteminthesamewayasmostof today’spowermanagementsoftware.’

BAL ANCING ACT
DespiteHeld’sclarificationthatIntelisn’t lookingtoreleaseamany-coreprocessorfor smartphonessoon,headmittedthecompany isinvestigatingtheproblemswithparallelism inclient-centriccomputing–desktops, laptopsandsmartphones.Amdahl’sLaw, namedaftercomputerarchitectGene Amdahl,statesthataprogramrunningon multiplecorescanonlybespeduptothelimit ofthetimeittakesthenon-parallelisablecode torun–afterwhichaddingmorecoresdoes nothingforperformance. ‘Amdahl’sLawisalimitingfactor,and softwarecanbemodifiedtoincreaseits parallelism,butthemoreyoutrytogetrid oftheremainingserialcodethemore challengingitis,’Heldsays.‘Sothat’sthe reasonwhywe’recarefultocontinue improvingtheperformanceforeach individualcore.Wetrytobalancethatserial performance,orthesingle-threaded performance,inanygivenproductagainstthe parallelismtomatchtheworkloadinthegiven marketsegment.Sothat’ssomethinginthe clientwhereyouwouldneedtomovemore slowlytoparallelismthanperhapsinthe technicalcomputingspacewhereXeonPhi isbeingapplied,andtheprocessorcoresare beingdesignedaccordingly. ‘IntheclientIthinkthatextremelyhigh degreesofparallelismwilltaketime,andwill beonlyappropriateforcertainactivities.We havetomakesurewedon’tsacrificetoomuch

single-threadedperformanceinthemoveto increasinglevelsofparallelism.’ Itisn’tallaboutthehardware,ofcourse, asHeldexplains:‘Intheclient,andinphone applications,toobtainmaximumbenefitthe softwaredoesneedtoberedesigned,and that’swhywe’redoingexperimentationin programmingtocomplementtheworkwe’re doinginhardware.Idon’tknowifyou’veheard aboutourworkonParallelJavaScript,which isawaytoextendaverywidelyusedweb

IT REALLY WASN’T FOCUSED SO MUCH ON HAVING AN EXTREMELY LARGE NUMBER OF CORES
programminglanguagesothatitcan,inavery straightforwardwaythatwebelieveisagood matchforthethinkingandsophisticationof theprogrammers,allowthemtousemulticoresgracefully. ‘So,yes,softwaredoesneedtochangeto exploitparallelismbeyondmulti-tasking.It needstogobeyondhavingdifferentactivities assignedbytheoperatingsystemtocores, andforanexistingapplicationtomakeuseofit requireschanges.We’reworkingtoseehow wecanmakethateasiertodoforabroader rangeofprogrammers.’

greaterthan80percentinthedesktopand laptopmarket,andaround90percentinthe servermarket,itsshareofthetabletand smartphonemarketiswellbelow5percent. Itsfirstsmartphone-centricAtom processor,asingle-coresystem-on-chip (SoC)runningat2GHzinMotorola’sAndroidbasedRazri,showsthecompany’sintentions, butcanitreallycompeteagainstARM’snear monopolyanddecadesoflow-power computingexperience? ‘Idon’tthinkthere’sintrinsicallyany advantagetotheinstructionset,ofthe ARMinstructionsvstheIntelarchitecture instructions,’Heldclaims,‘soitcomesdown toourexpertiseatimplementingthem.I thinktheshifttoenergyefficiencyandpowerefficientperformancehasbeengoingonfor sometime,andthatwillbeacontinuingtrend thatwe’lltakeadvantageoftogrowour marketshareinthatsegment. ‘ThisisanewmarketsegmentforIntel, we’relearninghowtodoit,andIthinkthe MotorolaphonereleasedinEuropegives youanopportunitytocompare,allthings beingequal,theabilityofourmicroprocessors tocompete.Ithinkyou’lljustseeuscontinue toimprove.’

THE BATTLE FOR MARKET SHARE
Insmartphones,Intelisplayingfroma distinctlyunfamiliarperspective:thatofthe underdog.Whileitenjoysamarketshare

isthenewsreporterat www.bit-tech.net.He knowsallabout the latestnewsinPCandmobiletech. @ghalfacree

GARETH HALFACREE

WorldMags.net

February 2013

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Our choice of the best hardware available
A
You don’t have to spend an astronomical sum to get a decent PC. Our budget PC includes a superb Trinity APU, with a built-in Radeon HD 7660D GPU, plus 8GB of 2,133MHz RAM to boost the on-board graphics
MOTHERBOARD APU RAM

UPDATED
COOLING

B

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OPTICAL DRIVE

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MANUFACTURER www.xigmatek.com www.gigabyte.com www.amd.com www.corsair.com www.gelidsolutions.com www.bequiet.com www.seagate.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 113, p74 Issue 112, p44 Issue 112, p60 Issue 112, p60 Issue 100, p86 Issue 110, p55 Issue 104, p72 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) £52 £60 £92 £51 £25 £59 £42 £14 £119

A B C D E F G H I

Xigamtek Midgard II Gigabyte GA-F2A75M-D3H AMD A10-5800K 8GB Corsair Vengeance 2,133MHz CAS11 Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2 Be Quiet! Pure Power L8 530W 500GB Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 Lite-On IHAS124-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

£514

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WorldMags.net
A
As Core i7 motherboards and high-end graphics cards command a premium price, here are some components for a Core i5 PC that offer great performance and won’t break the bank
MOTHERBOARD CPU RAM COOLING GRAPHICS CARD

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SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.dabs.com www.overclockers.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.dabs.com www.scan.co.uk www.ebuyer.com www.scan.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com www.gigabyte.com www.intel.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com www.arctic.ac www.amd.com www.bequiet.com www.seagate.com http://uk.asus.com www.samsung.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 103, p70 Issue 108, p38 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue104, p48 Issue 111, p62 Issue 110, p55 Issue 104, p75 Issue 99, p108 Issue 104, p68 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) £104 £78 £172 £37 £28 £150 £59 £70 £24 £79 £14 £119

A B C D E F G H I J K L

SilverStone Raven RV03 Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H Intel Core i5-3570K 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK Arctic Freezer i30 AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB Be Quiet! Pure Power L8 530W Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 Asus Xonar DG Samsung SSD 830 128GB Lite-On IHAS124-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

£934

WorldMags.net

April 2012

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WorldMags.net
Our choice of the best hardware available
A
This PC has the potential to be the finest gaming machine you can find – as well as an excellent all-round computer for office work, digital photography, video production and media playback
MOTHERBOARD CPU RAM COOLING GRAPHICS CARD

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SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.overclockers.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.ebuyer.com www.ebuyer.com www.scan.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com http://uk.asus.com www.intel.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com www.bequiet.com www.amd.com www.seasonic.com www.seagate.com http://uk.asus.com www.ocztechnology.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 85, p88 Issue 106, p64 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue 91, p74 Issue 111, p70 Issue 110, p59 Issue 104, p75 Issue 80, p63 Issue 104, p68 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) £179 £148 £172 £37 £47 £340 £124 £70 £57 £155 £14 £119

A B C D E F G H I J K L

SilverStone Fortress FT02B-W USB 3.0 Asus Maximus V Gene Intel Core i5-3570K 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK Be Quiet! Dark Rock Advanced AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB GHz Edition Seasonic X-Series 660W Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 Asus Xonar DX OCZ Vertex 4 256GB Lite-On IHAS123-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

£1,462

formance. Crucial - quality you Award-winning quality. Award-winning per
26 April 2012

can depend on

SATA III Interface, Read Speeds upto 500MB/s, Write Speeds WorldMags.net upto 175MB/s TRIM Support 9.5mm Profile

WorldMags.net
A
The most awesome components around, before reaching workstation territory. We’ve included a dual 120mm liquid cooler kit as a base example, but the case has space for a variety of water-cooling setups
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UPDATED
NAME SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.overclockers.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.ebuyer.com www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com http://uk.asus.com www.intel.co.uk www.kingston.com www.nvidia.com www.corsair.com www.bequiet.com www.ocztechnology.com http://uk.asus.com www.seagate.com www.microsoft.com REVIEWED Issue 63, p87 Issue 106, p64 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue 106, p46 Issue 91, p 74 Issue 110, p64 Issue 113, p44 Issue 80, p63 Issue 104, p75 Issue 75, p46 PRICE (inc VAT) £227 £148 £257 £40 £768 £82 £167 £200 £57 £70 £119

A B C D E F G H I J K

SilverStone Temjin TJ07B-W Asus Maximus V Gene Intel Core i7-3770K 8GB Kingston HyperX Genesis KHX1866C11D3P1K2/8G Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 2GB Corsair H100 Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W OCZ Vector 256GB Asus Xonar DX Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM0001 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

£2,135

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1027 M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e April a r a t e l y. s e p 2012

WorldMags.net
Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

GRAPHICS CARD AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB www.overclockers.co.uk www.amd.com Issue 111, p61 £150

GRAPHICS CARD Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 2GB www.scan.co.uk www.nvidia.com Issue 111, p68 £264

GRAPHICS CARD AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB GHz Edition www.overclockers.co.uk www.amd.com Issue 111, p70 £340

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU Intel Core i5-3570K www.scan.co.uk www.intel.co.uk Issue 106, p36 £172

MOTHERBOARD Asus Maximus V Gene www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 106, p64 £148

COOLER Arctic Freezer i30 www.dabs.com www.arctic.ac Issue 104, p48 £28

RAM 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK www.amazon.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com Issue 106, p40 £37

CPU Cooler Ultra Quiet Triple Fan High Performance
28 April 2012

Suitable for Intel LGA2011, 1366, 1155, 1156 and 775 WorldMags.net and AMD Socket FM1, FM2, AM3+, AM3, AM2+ and AM2

WorldMags.net

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU Intel Core i7-3930K www.novatech.co.uk www.intel.co.uk Issue 101, p32 £450

MOTHERBOARD Asus Sabertooth X79 www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 101, p70 £255

COOLER Corsair H80 www.dabs.com www.corsair.com Issue 101, p86 £70

RAM 16GB Corsair Vengeance 1,600MHz CAS9 www.dabs.com www.corsair.com Issue 101, p40 £57

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU AMD A10-5800K www.aria.co.uk www.amd.com Issue 112, p60 £92

MOTHERBOARD Gigabyte GA-F2A75M-D3H www.novatech.co.uk www.gigabyte.com Issue 112, p68 £60

COOLER Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2 www.scan.co.uk www.gelidsolutions.com Issue 100, p86 £25

RAM 8GB Corsair Vengeance 2,133MHz CAS11 www.cclonline.com www.corsair.com Issue 112, p60 £51

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1029 April 2012
M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

WorldMags.net
Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

LGA1155 CPU WATERBLOCK XSPC RayStorm CPU www.aquatuning.co.uk www.xs-pc.com Issue 107, p60 £51

GEFORCE GTX 680 WATERBLOCK XSPC Razor GTX680 www.overclockers.co.uk www.xs-pc.com Issue 107, p65 £80

RADEON HD 7970 WATERBLOCK Aquacomputer aquagrATIx for HD 7970 www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquacomputer.de Issue 107, p67 £76

DUAL 120MM RADIATOR Alphacool NexXxos UT60 Full Copper 240mm www.aquatuning.co.uk www.alphacool.com Issue 107, p72 £50

UPDATED
TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT) BUDGET CASE Xigmatek Midgard II www.overclockers.co.uk www.xigmatek.com Issue 113, p74 £52 MICRO-ATX CASE SilverStone TJ08-E www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 98, p48 £78 AIR-COOLING CASE SilverStone Raven RV03 www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 103, p70 £104 WATER-COOLING CASE SilverStone Temjin TJ07B-W www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 63, p87 £227

tter Gra Our best selling gaming PC evolved - Be
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AMD FX-4100 3.6GHz CPU, 8GB DDR3 Memory, AMD Radeon HD 7770 WorldMags.net April 2012 1TB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, Built-in Wi-Fi, 2 Year Warranty

WorldMags.net

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

530W PSU Be Quiet! Pure Power L8 530W www.scan.co.uk www.bequiet.com Issue 110, p55 £59

660W PSU Seasonic X-Series 660W www.amazon.co.uk www.seasonic.com Issue 110, p59 £124

850W PSU XFX Pro 850W XXX Edition (Silver) www.overclockers.co.uk www.xfxforce.com Issue 110, p71 £95

1.2kW PSU Corsair AX1200i www.scan.co.uk www.corsair.com Issue 111, p40 £240

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

HARD DISK Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 www.scan.co.uk www.seagate.com Issue 104, p75 £70

SSD OCZ Vertex 4 256GB www.ebuyer.co.uk www.ocztechnology.com Issue 107, p44 £155

NAS BOX Synology DiskStation DS212j www.dabs.com www.synology.com Issue 104, p50 £160

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1031 April 2012
M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

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Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

24IN MONITOR Dell UltraSharp U2412M www.scan.co.uk www.dell.com Issue 105, p64 £221

27IN MONITOR Dell UltraSharp U2711 www.scan.co.uk www.dell.co.uk Issue 81, p56 £536

TRIPLE-MONITOR STAND XFX Triple Display Monitor Stand www.scan.co.uk www.xfxforce.com Issue 96, p58 £299

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

SOUND CARD Asus Xonar DX www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 80, p63 £57

2.1 SPEAKERS Corsair SP2500 www.scan.co.uk www.corsair.com Issue 92, p79 £182

HEADSET Asus Vulcan ANC www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 98, p57 £78

5.1 SPEAKERS Logitech Z906 www.amazon.co.uk www.logitech.com Issue 102, p50 £230

d - Be Our best selling Intel gaming PC evolve
32 April 2012

tter Graphics - Bigger Hard Drive

Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz CPU, 8GB DDR3 Memory, NVIDIA GeForce WorldMags.net GTX 560Ti, 1TB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, 2 Year Warranty

WorldMags.net

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

KEYBOARD Mionix Zibal 60 www.lambda-tek.com www.mionix.net Issue 108, p71 £97

MOUSE Mionix Naos 3200 www.overclockers.co.uk www.mionix.net Issue 108, p60 £35

STEERING WHEEL Logitech G27 www.dabs.com www.logitech.com Issue 92, p108 £211

JOYSTICK Logitech Flight System G940 www.scan.co.uk www.logitech.com Issue 92, p109 £228

TYPE NAME DEVELOPER PUBLISHER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

RPG Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim www.bethsoft.com www.bethsoft.com Issue 101, p100 £30

FPS Dishonored www.arkane-studios.com www.bethsoft.com Issue 111, p96 £26

STRATEGY Frozen Synapse www.mode7games.com www.mode7games.com Issue 96, p92 £19 for two

UNDERDOG Trine 2 http://frozenbyte.com http://frozenbyte.com Issue 102, p98 £12

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1033 April 2012
M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

WorldMags.net
Our in-depth analysis of the latest PC hardware

Anoverclockedgaming rig,completewithmonitor

IN WIN H-FRAME 36 PALICOMP ALPHA 38 Anall-aluminium, BLADE

fanlesschassisthatstands outfromthecrowd

caseinone.Itevenhasa trackandmotors!

LIAN LI PC-CK101P 40 AmodeltrainandPC

OCZfinallyhasaproper newIndilinxcontroller

OCZ VECTOR 44 256GB

TOP FLOW SR1 Idealforalow-profilecase

46 BE QUIET!ROCK SHADOW

Gorgeouslightingandan 8,200dpisensor

47 ROCCAT KONE XTD

PasstheDuchyfromthe left-handside

52 MINCE PIE MEGATEST

Headphonesmadefrom renewablematerials

54 HOUSE OF MARLEY EXODUS

GLOWLIGHT CanitbeattheKindle?

BARNES & NOBLE 54 NOOK SIMPLE

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HOWWETEST,P50 WorldMags.net

WecheckoutDremel’sattemptat amulti-functionscrolltoseehow itfaresatPCmoddingtasks 48
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Dremel Moto-Saw
February 2013 35

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PALICOMP Alpha Blade
An overclocked gaming rig, including a monitor, for less than £1,000
RAZOR SHARP Good performance; reasonable price; decent monitor BLUNT Middling case; noisy case fans; sluggish SSD
HOW MUCH?
Price£999incVAT Supplier www.palicomp.co.uk Manufacturer www.palicomp.co.uk SKUnumberIVY8

IN DETAIL
CPU3.4GHzIntelCore i5-3570Koverclockedto 4.6GHz MotherboardAsus P8Z77-VLX Memory8GB1,600MHz CorsairXMS3DDR3 GraphicsPowerColorAMD RadeonHD79503GB SoundRealtekHDAudio Storage2TBSeagate Barracuda7200.14,120GB OCZAgility3SSD OpticaldriveLGBlu-ray reader CaseThermaltakeV3BlacX Edition CoolingCPU:Thermaltake ISGC-300;case:1x120mm rearexhaustfan,1x120mm intakefan PSUPowercool PC-850AUBA-M PortsFront:1xUSB3,1x USB2,2xaudio;rear:2x USB3,4xUSB2,LAN,audio out,mic,headphone,optical S/PDIFout,PS/2 OperatingsystemWindows 864-bit

t’stemptingtospendasmuchaspossibleon Despitethis,Palicomphasn’tdoneabadjobwith anewPC,buttheproliferationofaffordable, cablerouteing;thepowercablesforthemotherboard, effectivecomponentsmeansyoudon’thave CPUandgraphicscardaretiedthroughthemiddleof tobreakthebanktogetplentyofspeednow. thecase,andtherestarebunchedatthebottom.It Palicomp’sAlphaBladecosts£999but,onpaperat isn’telegant,butwehadfewproblemsworkinginside least,ithasthepowertohandlethelatestgamesand theAlphaBlade,andthecablesdon’tdisruptairflow. applicationswithoutbreakingasweat. Thefansetupissimple:one120mmintakefan,a Aswithmanypre-builtsystems,it’sbasedona 120mmexhaustfan,a120mmfanontheThermaltake Corei5-3570K,althoughhereit’sbeengivenaboost, ISGC-300andan80mmgraphicscardfan. withanoverclockthattakesitfrom3.4GHztoa ThePCincludesamonitortoo.The AsusVS247H’s formidablespeedof4.6GHz.Meanwhile,gaming 24indiagonalservesupa1,920x1,080resolution,with powerishandledbyaPowerColorRadeonHD7950, HDMI,DVI-DandVGAinputs.Thescreen’squalityis althoughit’svirtuallyidenticaltoAMD’sreference goodthroughout,withthestandardsettingsproviding model.Thatmeansan800MHzcoreclock,1,250MHz abrightnesslevelof293cd/m2,ameasuredcontrast ratioof915:1andaDeltaEof3.1. shaderclockand4.3billiontransistors. Thesefiguresensurethescreenismorethanbright There’salsoareasonablysized120GBSSDfora enoughforgamesandmovies,whilethecontrastratio bootdrive,butit’sanOCZAgility3–amodelthat’snow makesforapunchy,vividpanel.Meanwhile,thelow beensupersededbynewerhardware.There’salsoa DeltaEmeanstheAsusdeliversgoodcolouraccuracy. SeagateBarracuda7200.14harddiskoffering2TBof There’satinybitofbacklightbleedalongthebottom space–plentyforahealthySteamlibraryandmedia edge,butthisdidn’tmakeadifferenceineverydayuse. collection–andthere’saBlu-raydriveformoviewatchingtoo.There’snosignofadiscrete soundcardthough. THE ALPHA BLADE’S CPU RUNS AT ThisisallpluggedintoanAsus 4.6GHZ, AND THIS HAD A NOTABLE P8Z77-VLXmotherboard.Thisisastep IMPACT ON PERFORMANCE downfromAsus’high-endboards,andit showsinthespec:noon-boardwireless, Itsonlyshortcomingisthewobblystand. onlytwoUSB3portsonitsbackpanelandonlyone AlsoincludedisaLogitechMK620wireless full-speed16xPCI-Eslot–thesecondisrestrictedto keyboardandmouseset,whichiscomfortabletouse, just4xmode,soitisn’tidealfordualgraphics. andtheformerincludesmediacontrols.However,if Expansionislimitedelsewheretoo.ThefourDIMM youhaveyourownpreferredperipheralsandmonitor slotsareoccupied,withoneblockedbytheCPU already,PalicompsellstheAlphaBladeasabaseunit heatsink’s120mmfan,andonlytwoSATA3Gbps too–dropthemonitor,keyboardandmouse,andthe portsarefree.There’soneUSB3headervacant,but PCalonewillsetyouback£895incVAT. thebottomofthePCBonlyofferstwoUSB2headers, andeventhosearecrowdedbytrailingcables. PERFORMANCE ThecomponentsareallhousedinaThermaltakeV3 TheAlphaBlade’sCPUrunsat4.6GHz,whichis BlacXEditionchassis,whichisamixedbag.Theblack significantlyhigherthanthe4.3GHzchipintheDinoPC paintontheinsidelendstheinterioraclassyair,and Tyrannosaur3570K(seeIssue107,p36),andthishada upgraderoomisreasonable,butthebuildqualityis notableimpactonperformance.TheAlphaBlade’s average,withthinside-panelsthatwobblewhen 2,285scorebeatthe2,023scoredbytheDinoPCinthe flexed.Meanwhile,thelackofamotherboardtray imageeditingtest,andthePalicomp’sscoreof3,674in meanscablesarepainfullyvisible.

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thevideoencodingtestalsobeatingthe3,417ofthe Tyrannosaur.Likewise,inthemulti-taskingtest,the Palicomp’srespectablescoreof1,740trumpedthe 1,641ofitsrival.Italladdsuptoanoverallscoreof 2,566,comparedtothe2,360oftheDinoPC. Meanwhile,intheCPU-heavyTotalWar benchmark,thePalicompreturnedanunplayable minimumframerateofjust22fpsandanaverage framerateof36fps,althoughintheBattlefield3test, thesystemaveraged58fps,withaminimumof46fps. Overclockingreturnedmixedresults.Weincreased thevcoreto1.4Vandraisedthebaseclockto4.7GHz, butthisdidn’tgiveusmuchextra:theoverallscore inourbenchmarksrosefrom2,566to2,630–just abovetheDinoPC’soverclockedresult.Wewouldn’t recommendoverclockingtheCPUanyfurther, though:at4.6GHz,thecorehitapeaktemperature of89°C,andthisincreasedto90°Cwithourtweaks. Wetweakedthegraphicscardtoo,raisingitscore clockfrom800MHzto1,000MHzanditsshaderclock from1,250MHzto1,350MHz.Thisincreasewas enoughtoraisetheTotalWarbenchmarktoaplayable minimumof26fps,whileadding10fpstotheminimum inBattlefield3–definitelyaworthwhiletweak. TheOCZSSDdidn’timpressusinthebenchmarks either.It’sanolderdrive,anditshoweditsagewhen wetesteditinourAS-SSDbenchmarks.Itssequential readresultof199MB/secislessthanhalfthespeed ofthebestdrives,anditssequentialwritescoreof 142MB/secisn’tmuchbetter.Itwasslowerthan averageineverytest. ThemostdisappointingaspectofthePalicomp, though,isitsnoiselevel.TheThermaltakeCPU heatsinkandPowerColorgraphicscardaren’tloud,

PRE-OVERCLOCKED GAMING PC

02

01 03

buttheintakefanandpowersupplybothmakea racket;thismeansthatthePalicompdeliversa consistent,noticeablerumble,evenwhenidle.

TheAMDRadeonHD7950 graphicscardprovidesa decentamountofgruntingames

01

CONCLUSION
TheAlphaBlade’sloudcomponentsaren’tsubtle,and itschassislacksfinesse,butitgivesgoodperformance forthemoney,plusadecentmonitor.Ifyoudon’tmind alittlenoise,anddon’twanttobuildyourownPC,this isagoodroutetoreasonablegamingperformance.
MIKE JENNINGS

althoughoneslotisblockedby thehugeThermaltakeISGC-300 CPUcooler

02 The8GBofRAMisspread overfour2GBDIMMs, 03 Thereisn’talotofroom forcablerouteinginside

theThermaltakeV3BlacX Editionchassis,butPalicomp hasstillmadeadecentjobofit

GIMP IMAGE EDITING
Palicomp Alpha Blade Dino PC 3570K 0 1,000

2,285 2,329 2,023
2,000

Default settings

SHOGUN 2 : TOTAL WAR DX9 CPU BENCHMARK
Palicomp Alpha Blade
22 fps 36 fps 26 fps 37 fps

2,246
3,000 4,000

0

25

50

75

100

HANDBRAKE H.264 VIDEO ENCODING
Palicomp Alpha Blade Dino PC 3570K 0 1,000 2,000

3,674 3,761 3,417 3,796
3,000 4,000

1,920 x 1,080, 16x AF, 4x AA, Ultra settings

BATTLEFIELD 3

Palicomp Alpha Blade 0
Stock speed min

46 fps 56 fps

58 fps 69 fps

25

50
Overclocked min

75

100

MULTI-TASKING
Palicomp Alpha Blade Dino PC 3570K 0

Stock speed avg

Overclocked avg

1,740 1,778 1,641
1,000

1,797
2,000 3,000 4,000

OVERALL
Palicomp Alpha Blade Dino PC 3570K 0 1,000 Stock speed

2,566 2,630 2,360
2,000 Overclocked

2,613
3,000 4,000

SPEED DESIGN HARDWARE VALUE

22 / 25 15 / 25 18 / 25 23 / 25

customPC
OVERALL
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IN WIN H-Frame
In Win chucks the case design manual out the window with this all-aluminium, fanless chassis
Stunning build quality; hot-swap bays; stand-out design

H LANDING PAD

T

Super-expensive; noisy; attracts dust; limited expansion options

H FROM STEPS

HOW MUCH?
Price£266incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturerwww.in-win. com.tw

IN DETAIL
Dimensions(mm)220x545 x524(WxDxH) MaterialAluminium AvailablecoloursSilver Weight9.4kg FrontpanelPower,reset, 1xUSB2,2xUSB3, stereo,mic Drivebays1xexternal5.25in drivebay,3xinternalhotswap3.5in/2.5indrivebays, 1xinternalhot-swap2.5in drivebay Formfactor(s)ATX, micro-ATX Cooling120mmfront mount,120mmrearmount (fansnotsupplied) CPUcoolerclearance 155mm Maximumgraphicscard length350mm

hepremiumcasemarketistraditionally reservedforwater-cooling-friendlybeasts. CasessuchastheSilverStoneTJ11andLian LiPC-V2120retailformoremoneythanmany ofthecomponentstheyhouse,butareconstructed fromthefinestaluminium,andhaveoodlesoffeatures andexpandability.Everyonceinawhile,though, comesacasethatchucksthemanualfortraditional casedesignoutofthe(perspex)window.Standing proudonitsorangesiliconfeet,theInWinH-Frameis case’s open-air design to provide sufficient airflow to asighttobehold. case’sopen-airdesigntoprovidesufficientairflowto Althoughitsunusualstylingwillprobablyoffend yourhardware.Intheory,andwiththerighthardware, somepeopletotheircore,wethinktheH-Frame thisleavesopenthepossibilityofasilentsystemthat looksfantastic.Itfeatures11sheetsofdiamond-cut reliestotallyonpassivecooling.Single120mmfan aluminium,sharplyangledandbeautifullyfinishedin mountsareprovidedonthefrontandrearforthose silverandblue.Thesesheetsarearrangedvertically, whowanttousethem,althoughthecasedoesn’tcater separatedbygoldenspacersalongsomerods, forwatercoolingatall. formingthecase’siconicopen-airdesign. Looseningthefourgoldencapsoneachsidepanel TheH-Frameisopenfromtoptobottomandfront enablesyoutopullthemstraightoff–theydon’tneed toback,andsealedonlybythetwoflatsidepanels. tobeslidandlockedinplacelikemostcasepanels. Althoughthereareobviousbenefitsforairflow,this Doingsorevealsthegorgeousanodisedblueinterior, designprovidesaneasyescapefornoise,andanopen whichmakesuslamentthelackofasidewindow. invitation,completewithchampagnereception,for Withthumbscrewsforjustabouteverything,rubber dust.Themetalmeshfittedtotheroofalsospoils stripsonwhichthePSUrestsandalargeCPU theviewfromabove,anditisn’tverywellattached backplatecut-out,buildingasysteminsidethe either,butit’sprobablybeenincludedasa necessaryprecautiontohelpprevent IN WIN DOESN’T SUPPLY A SINGLE hardware-destroyingobjectsfromfalling FAN WITH THE H-FRAME, RELYING intothecase. INSTEAD ON THE OPEN-AIR DESIGN Thefrontpanelisnothingtoshout abouteither,especiallyforacasecosting £266,butthepowerandresetbuttons,audiojacksand H-Frameisrelativelypain-free,althoughpre-installed twoUSB3portsaresufficientformostpeople.The motherboardmountswouldhavehelped. recessedresetbuttonissmallenoughtorequireapin Withonlyfourinternaldrivemounts,storagespace (ortheendofapen)topress,andthepowerandhard islimited–asacrificemadeinthenameofstyle.The driveaccessLEDsareblueandorangerespectively, drivebays,aswellasthetwofanmounts,feature matchingthecase’scolourscheme.Completingthe spring-loadedthumbscrewsandcomeoutofthecase externalconnectionsisaroof-mountedUSB2port. completelywhentheseareunfastened.Thisall-metal Thisiseasytoaccess,andcanbeusedforcharging designmeansthisprocesscreatesanunpleasant phonesandgadgets,whichcanberestedonthe grinding noise,butatleastitensuresthatfansand slantedsectionoftheH-Frame’sroof. drivesaremountedverysecurely.Eachbayhasitsown Inaboldmove,InWinhaschosennottosupplya hot-swapconnectortoo,makingdriveinstallation singlefanwiththeH-Frame,relyinginsteadonthe evensimpler.However,thewiringforthese

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connectorsisnon-detachableandthushasthe potentialtoleaveyouwithabigsurplusofcables. Meanwhile,thesingle5.25inbayisangledso thatinstalleddriveswillslidearound45degrees downwards,addingtotheuniqueformofthe H-Frame.It’ssecuredusingthumbscrews;aswith the3.5inbays,thismeansyoucanremovetheentire enclosurefromthecase.Interestingly,whenempty, thedriveenclosure’srear,whichhasasmallcutaway sectionfordrivecables,facesforwards,actingasa coverforthefrontofthecase.Withyouropticaldrive inplace,youthenneedtoreplacetheenclosurefacing theoppositedirectiontogiveyourdriveroomtoopen. Forsuchagreat-lookingcase,it’sashamethefront panelcablesaren’tpre-sleevedinblacklikethoseof thehot-swapconnectors.However,forthejobof actuallytidyingawaycables,InWinprovidesthree holesthatletyouroutecablesbehindthe motherboardtray–onenexttothePSUandtwo adjacenttothemotherboarditself,althoughthese don’thaverubbergrommets. Meanwhile,topreventthesidepanelbulgingout fromthecableequivalentofaspaghettijunction pressingonit,it’snecessarytospreadoutthewires behindthemotherboardtray,soafewmorethanthe fiveprovidedziptieswouldhavebeenhandy,aswould someclipstowhichyoucouldtiethem.Thesearen’t disastrousomissions,buttheyshouldbestandardin thedesignofsuchanexpensivecase. in our tests, suffered considerably, posting inourtests,sufferedconsiderably,posting a delta T of 52°C. The CPU delta T of 54°C, adeltaTof52°C.TheCPUdeltaTof54°C, however,isveryrespectablegiventhe circumstances. It’s just 1°C higher than circumstances.It’sjust1°Chigherthan both the Lian Li PC-V2120 and the Cooler boththeLianLiPC-V2120andtheCooler Master Cosmos II, with the latter running MasterCosmosII,withthelatterrunning its fans on their fastest and noisiest speed. itsfansontheirfastestandnoisiestspeed. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, Notwantingtowastetheopportunity, wealsochuckedinacoupleof Thermaltake high-airflow 120mm fans to Thermaltakehigh-airflow120mmfansto fill the H-Frame’s fan mounts and repeated filltheH-Frame’sfanmountsandrepeated our test. The fans had the effect of knocking ourtest.Thefanshadtheeffectofknocking amassive9°CofftheCPUdeltaT,and 4°CofftheGPUdeltaT.Althoughthis demonstratestheeffectivenessofthe open-air design, particularly for the CPU, open-airdesign,particularlyfortheCPU, the noise from the case with the two fans thenoise fromthecasewiththetwofans was almost unbearable. Even without the wasalmostunbearable.Evenwithoutthe fans, noise leakage from the open case fans,noiseleakagefromtheopencase wasfairlyhigh.

ATX CASE

CONCLUSION
Onpaper,theInWinH-Framecosts over£260yetincludesnofans,hasfew features,limitedexpandabilityand below-averagecooling–wewon’tbe recommending it for your next build. It’s recommendingitforyournextbuild.It’s equallyapparent,however,thatitisn’t designed for mass appeal, and is more of an designedformassappeal,andismoreofan exercise in style over substance, geared exerciseinstyleoversubstance,geared towardsthosewithcashtospendonsomethingthat standsout.Withitsopen-airdesign,eye-catching colourschemeandflawlesslycutaluminiumsheets, that’sexactlywhattheH-Frameachieves.
MATTHEW L AMBERT

COOL ING
Withnodirectairflowofitsown,itwasn’tsurprising toseeboththeCPUandGPUdeltaTresultsriseto relativelyhightemperaturesduringourstresstest. TheGPU,whichhasitsfanspeedlockedto30percent

CPU LOAD DELTA T TEMPERATURE
In Win H-Frame (default) In Win H-Frame (two fans) SilverStone TJ11

GPU LOAD DELTA T TEMPERATURE
54°C
In Win H-Frame (default) In Win H-Frame (two fans) SilverStone TJ11

52°C 48°C 37°C 41°C 45°C 49°C
0 15 30 45 60 Lower is better

45°C 42°C 53°C 53°C 61°C
0 20 40 60 80 Lower is better

Lian Li PC-V2120 Cooler Master Cosmos II (High) Cooler Master Cosmos II (Low)

Lian Li PC-V2120 Cooler Master Cosmos II (High) Cooler Master Cosmos II (Low)

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

17 / 30 customPC 14 / 20 27 / 30 9 / 20 OVERALL

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TEST KIT

3.4GHzIntelCorei7-870CPU,AMDRadeonHD58702GB Eyefinitygraphicscard,BiostarTPowerI55motherboard, 2GBOCZ1,866MHzDDR3memory,160GBSeagate Barracuda7200.9harddisk,GelidTranquilloCPUcooler withNoctuaNF-S12BULN120mmfan,SeasonicM12D SS-850EMPSU

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LIAN LI PC-CK101P
The best motorised train PC case we’ve ever seen
FLYING SCOTSMAN Unique; beautifully made; quiet THOMAS Impractical; limited storage mounts; no room for a graphics card; expensive

T

HOW MUCH?
Price£290incVAT Supplier www.oveclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.lian-li.com SKUNumberPC-CK101PB

IN DETAIL
Dimensions(mm) 185x515 x258(WxDxH) MaterialAluminium,plastic AvailablecoloursBlack Weight4.1kg FrontpanelPower,2xUSB 3 Drivebays1xinternal3.5in drivebay,1xinternal2.5in drivebay Formfactor(s)mini-ITX Cooling1x120mmmiddle fanmount(fansupplied) CPUcoolerclearance 125mm

he first time we laid eyes on the PC-CK101 was at the Computex trade show in Taiwan – it was pretty difficult to miss, in truth, as it was instructions are provided, which guide you through chugging up and down the length of the Lian the act of mounting the electric motor, assembling Li booth, drawing double takes and inquisitive looks and fixing the axles, and hooking them all up to the from everyone walking past. battery pack that sits at the back of the train. If we’re honest, we’d written it off as a publicity Also in need of cabling is the natty direction switch, stunt – a concept case made by someone at the which hangs out the floor of the train. This gets factory in their spare time; a labour of love that was tripped by lugs mounted on the end sections of track, never designed for a full production run. Imagine reversing the motor’s drive, and means that the case our surprise, then, when Lian Li got in touch to see can happily run back and forth along whatever length if we’d like a review sample sent to the CustomPC of track you’ve set up all day long. It is, of course, even lab in London. possible to use the PC while it’s running up and down In its defence, Lian Li has a long history of releasing the tracks, but you’ll need lots of room, and long outlandish cases – some of our more seasoned power, video and audio cables. readers may remember the PC-T1A, which was When we came to building a proper PC inside the modelled on a spider and actually walked, and the PC-CK101, we were impressed by the way Lian Li company is famous for its iconic line of nautilushas made the best of the space available. You can, for shaped cases too. instance, secrete a slimline optical drive in the front In the UK, the PC-CK101 is available in two bumper of the train, while the dinky bundled 300W 80 flavours: a static S model, with just the case and a display stand; and the limitedIT’S INCREDIBLY WELL MADE – ALL edition P model, which adds a motor, THE JOINS ARE SLICK, AND THERE axle assembly and atomiser (which ISN’T A HINT OF RATTLE OR FLEX unfortunately Lian Li couldn’t provide for this review) for a realistic chuggingANYWHERE IN THE CASE smoke effect. The ambulatory P model that we’re reviewing here currently retails for Plus certified PSU (suitably) plays the role of driver, a monstrous £290, meaning that you’ll need to sitting in the front cabin. shell out some serious notes for what is, after all, a From here on, however, PC building inside the novelty case. Thankfully, the S model will reportedly PC-CK101 becomes a little tricky, as you have to retail for a far more sedate £160, although we couldn’t stash your motherboard in the rear carriage. This find this model available to buy anywhere at the time means all the PSU cables, front-panel cables, and the of writing. cables for the two USB 3 slots that run down the side As you’d expect from a Lian Li case, the body of the of the engine, have to pass through a narrow channel PC-CK101 is constructed entirely from pleasingly between the bottom of the two carriages. chunky slabs of anodised aluminium. It’s incredibly It’s a tight fit, and it makes building a tidy PC in the well made too – all the joins are slick, and there isn’t PC-CK101 a challenge, especially when there are a hint of rattle or flex anywhere in the case. very few hidey-holes in which to stash unwanted PSU Given that this case is obviously aimed at model cables. This isn’t automatically a negative point – we train enthusiasts, it seems appropriate that Lian Li enjoyed the puzzle and the chance to exercise our ships the case with a degree of assembly skill cable-routeing skills, but it does make the build required. Detailed, if slightly difficult to follow, process take longer.

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MINI-ITX CASE

Thesingle120mmfanblowsair directlyovertheCPUcooler,but itstrugglestoescape,asthere’s noexhaustfan.

Allthewiresfromthe PSUandfrontpanel connectionshavetorun throughthissmallgap.

Themotorandaxlepartsaren’t suppliedassembled,soyouhave toputthemtogetherbeforeyou cangetthecasemoving.

One type of cable you don’t have to worry about, however, is the PCI-E power variety, as the PC-CK101 doesn’t have an expansion slot to buddy up with the single PCI-E graphics slot that’s found on many miniITX motherboards. This is an unusual choice, as there’s room on the rear of the case for a single expansion slot (although it would require relocating the power switch), and it means you’ll be limited to on-board graphics with a CK101 build. This isn’t the limit it used to be (we found AMDs new Trinity APUs to be capable performers last issue), but it restricts flexibility and future upgrades.

PERFORMANCE
Cooling in the case is handled by a single 120mm fan strapped to the inside front of the rear carriage and pointed towards the area in which the CPU cooler sits. It’s a simple arrangement, but the cramped nature of the case means it isn’t very effective; the fact that this single fan has to draw in air through the small gap between the carriages doesn’t help either. During our testing, which was conducted without a graphics card, we saw the CPU temperature peak at a delta T of 57°C – significantly higher than other mini-ITX cases we’ve seen grace these pages.

decision. You don’t buy a case such as this because you want the best cooling or expansion potential, but because it’s a PC IN A TRAIN! If this appeals to you then you’ll be able to overlook the below-average cooling and cramped interior in favour of having a unique-looking computer. The Lian Li PC-CK101 isn’t technically the best mini-ITX case available, but it’s well-made, has a one-of-a-kind design and you can build a perfectly functional PC inside the chassis. However, it’s also ridiculously priced. If you’re going to buy one, it would be best not to let your other half know how much it set you back.
PAUL GOODHEAD

CPU LOAD DELTA T TEMPERATURE
Lian Li PC-CK101 BitFenix Prodigy Fractal Node 304 0 15 30
43°C 46°C 57°C

45 60 Lower is better

CONCLUSION
We’d wager that you already know whether you’re likely to buy the Lian Li PC-CK101, and what we say here isn’t likely to make a blind bit of difference to your

COOLING 20 / 30 customPC FEATURES 15 / 20 DESIGN 25 / 30 VALUE 9 / 20 OVERALL
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SATA 6GBPS SSD

OCZ Vector 256GB
OCZ one-ups Samsung in the SSD arms race
INDILINX Really fast; no performance degradation after full write cycle; effective TRIM OUT-DILINX 840 Pro has quicker singlethreaded 4KB read performance; expensive

U

4.2GHzIntelCorei5-2500K CPU,AsusMaximusV Formulamotherboard, 8GBKingston1,600MHz DDR3memory,Nvidia GeForceGTS250512MB graphicscard,PCPower andCoolingSilencer750W PSU,Windows7Home Premium64-bit,Intel RapidStorageTechnology driver(iaStor.sys)

TEST KIT

HOW MUCH?
Price£200incVAT Supplierwww.ebuyer.com Manufacturer www.ocztechnology.com

IN DETAIL
InterfaceSATA6Gbps Nominalcapacity256GB Formattedcapacity 238.47GB ControllerIndilinx ISX500M00-BC Cache2x256MBDDR3 1,600MHz Memory16xOCZ(micron) 16GB21nmMLCNAND flash WarrantyFiveyears

ntilnow,OCZhasexpandeditsSSDempire withthird-partycontrollers;firstwithIndilinx’s BarefootintheoriginalVertex,thenthefirst andsecondSandForcecontrollersforthe Vertex2and3,andthenwithmodifiedMarvell controllersfortheOctaneandVertex4.Withthe Vector,though,OCZhasfinallygonein-house,with itspurchaseofIndilinxin2011andthelateracquisition ofSoC(system-on-a-chip)makerPLXenablingitto produceitsowncontroller,theIndilinxBarefoot3. Theresultisastunninglyfastdrive.AnAS-SSD sequentialreadspeedof517MB/secisonly4MB/sec behindtheSamsungSSD840Pro(seeIssue111,p43), whileasequentialwritespeedof497MB/secisagain levelwiththe840Pro.TheVectorisn’tquiteasquick with4KBsingle-queue-depthreads;itsspeedof 25MB/secis6MB/secbehindthe840Pro.Itswrite speedof80MB/secwiththesameworkloadismuch fasterthanthe840Pro’s66MB/secthough.Meanwhile, nomorethan1MB/secseparatesthetwodrivesin 64-queue-depth4KBrandomreadandwritetests. InCrystalDiskMarktheVectorwasagainneckand neckwiththe840Prothankstoasequentialread speedof529MB/seccomparedtothe840Pro’s 538MB/sec.Again,theVectorlaggedalittlein4KB single-queue-depthspeeds,though,witharesultof 28MB/seccomparedtothe840Pro’s35MB/sec.The Vectorwasmarginallyfasterinthe32-queue-depth testthough,withawritespeedof373MB/sec. Whileperformancebetweenthe840ProandVector isgenerallyevenlymatched,however,theVectorwins handsdownwhenitcomestoitsapplicationofthe TRIMcommand.Havingfilledthedrivetwice,wefound nosignofanyslowdown,whilethe840Pro’swrite speedsdippedbyasmuchas50MB/sec.

Sequential read/write (MB/sec)

AS SSD

results
OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB 0 OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB 0 140 280
517 497 521 498

420

560

4KB single-queue-depth random read/write (MB/sec)

25 31
20 40

80 66
60 80

4KB 64-queue-depth random read/write (MB/sec)

OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB Samsung SSD 830 256GB 0
Sequential read/write (MB/sec)

368 328 369 327 272 81
100 200 300 400

CRYSTALDISKMARK
OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB 0 OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB

529 505 538 514

135

270

405

540

4KB single-queue-depth random read/write (MB/sec)

28 35
0 25 50 75

86 95
100

4KB 32-queue-depth random read/write (MB/sec)

OCZ Vector 256GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB Samsung SSD 830 256GB 0

397 373 405 370 230 149
Read 105 Write 210 315 420 Lower is better

CONCLUSION
TheVectorisaphenomenallyquickdrive,andwe’re thoroughlyimpressedwithitsabilitytomaintainits performance.However,ataround£200for238GB offormattedcapacity,you’repayingaheftypremium whentheVertex4256GB,whichisonlymarginally slower,costsjust£155.
HARRY BUTLER

scores

FEATURES 19 / 20 SPEED 44 / 45 VALUE 20 / 35

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CPU COOLER

BE QUIET! Shadow Rock Top Flow SR1
Be Quiet! goes top-down with this low-profile CPU cooler
SR71 Low height; good cooling; plenty of room for tall DIMMs CESNA Not particularly quiet; tricky to install

D

HOW MUCH?
Price£34incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturer www.bequiet.com SKUnumberBK012

IN DETAIL
CompatibilityIntel:LGA775, LGA1156/1155,LGA1366 AMD:SocketAM2,Socket AM2+,SocketAM3Socket AM3+,SocketFM1,Socket FM2 Weight650g Size(mm)171x137x126 (WxDxH) Fan1x135mm Statednoise9.6-24.4dBA

espitehavinganenviablereputation,BeQuiet! hasn’tbranchedoutintoliquidcooling,like ZalmanorCoolerMaster,anditscoolershave previouslyfittedfirmlyinthepremiumtower coolercategory.However,thecompanyhasjust releasedtheShadowRockTopFlowSR1which,at lessthan13cmtall,isshortenoughtofitintomost HTPCcases. Thelargealuminiumheatsinkisbentparallelto yourmotherboard,withalarge135mmShadow WingsPWM-controlledfanmountedblowingdown ontoyourmotherboard.Thisshouldprovideexcellent coolingforyourmotherboardtoo,althoughthe exhaustairislikelytobedumpedinalldirections inyourcase,ratherthandirectedtowardstherear exhaustfan.Meanwhile,theheatsinkusesfour8mm heatpipestotransfertheheatfromthenickel-plated coppercontactplate. TheboxstatescompatibilitywiththeusualCPU socketsexceptLGA2011;thewebsitesaysthecooler isLGA2011-ready,butoursampledidn’tincludethe necessaryfittings.Thisisprobablyjustaswell,asits onlyratedtoaTDPofupto160W–we’vegenerally foundlargercoolersarethebestoptionwhendealing withLGA2011systems. Installationistypicallyfiddly,aswe’vefoundwith otherBeQuiet!coolers.We’vedevelopedaknacknow though;placethecoolerupsidedownonadesk,lay themotherboardontopandsecurethefourmounting screwsthroughthebackplatetothebracketsonthe cooler.Foryourownsanity,it’sbesttoremoveyour motherboardtoinstallit;oncewe’ddonethis,there wasplentyofclearancefortallDIMMstoo. TheShadowRockTopFlowSR1recordedadeltaT of43°C,whichisequaltothevenerableDarkRock Advancedandonly2°CwarmerthantheCorsairH80 onitslowestfanspeedsetting.ComparedtotheIntel referencecooler,theShadowRockTopFlowSR1was inadifferentleagueentirely,betteringitbyamassive 30°C.Meanwhile,inourAMDSocketAM3+test system,itsdeltaTof55°Cwasafairwayoffthebetter coolersbutstillsuperiortotheCorsairH80onits lowestfanspeedsetting.Noise-wise,theShadow

RockTopFlowSR1wasfarfrombeingasquietasits towersiblings,though,makinganoticeablethrumin bothtestsystems.

CONCLUSION
TheShadowRockTopFlowSR1performedwellgiven itsskinnyheatsinkandfourheatpipes.It’squieterand coolsbetterthantheIntelLGA1155referencecooler. Theonlydownside,apartfromfiddlyinstallation,isits noise,especiallyasthetypicalhomeforapremium low-profilecoolerisinanHTPC,butatleastthere’s plentyofcoolingheadroomforafancontroller.
ANTONY LEATHER

results
INTEL LGA1155
Be Quiet! Top Flow SR1 Arctic Freezer i30 Reference cooler 0 20 40
5˚C 3˚C 43˚C 39˚C 73˚C

AMD SOCKET AM3+
Be Quiet! Top Flow SR1 Be Quiet! Dark Rock 2 Corsair H80 (low fan speed) 0 Idle
12˚C 12˚C 11˚C

60 80 Lower is better
55˚C 52˚C 60˚C

15 Load

30

45 60 Lower is better

scores: lGa1155

COOLING 32 / 40 customPC DESIGN 22 / 30 VALUE 25 / 30 OVERALL FITTING AVG

scores: Socket am3+

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COOLING 30 / 40 customPC DESIGN 22 / 30 VALUE 22 / 30 OVERALL FITTING AVG

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GAMING MOUSE

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ROCCAT Kone XTD
A great mouse, but it’s pricey and offers little over its predecessor
ICE CREAM CONE Great shape; good software; gorgeous lighting
Little benefit over the Kone [+]; expensive

G

TRAFFIC CONE

HOW MUCH?
Price£75incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.roccat.org SKUnumberROC-11-810

IN DETAIL
ConnectionWired(braided) MaterialPlastic Buttons7,scrollwheel Sensitivity200-8,200dpi ExtrasWeights

amingmicehavealotincommonwithfilm alsostayingoutofthewaywhentheyaren’tneeded. trilogies–they’rebothallaboutescalation. Theergonomicextravaganzaistoppedoffbythe Everythingalwayshastobebiggerandmore chunkyscrollwheel,whichisreassuringlyrobustand intense,whilepackinginmorebells,whistles makeswell-definedclicksasitrotates.Meanwhile, andexplosions.Well,okay,maybethatlastoneis theXTD’sbodyisapleasuretohold,withapleasantly limitedtofilms.Thepointstands,though,andthe soft-feelingfinish. RoccatKoneXTDisagoodexample.Bothits Unusuallyforamoderngamingmouse,theXTD’s predecessors(theKoneandtheKone[+])claimed softwareisalsoattractiveandwelllaid-out,although tobethelastwordingamingmousetechnology, it’sannoyingthatbothpartsofthesoftware(the sowheredoesthatleavetheKoneXTD?Well,not applicationandtheTaskbarmonitor)hadtobeopen surprisingly,it’sclaimingtobethenewultimate foranychangestobesavedtotherodent’son-board standardingamingmice. memory.Asyou’dexpect,aplethoraoftweakscan Toachievethisloftygoal,theRoccat’snewKone beapplied,withoptionsforeverythingfromlift-off XTDisequippedwithaheftyarsenaloffeatures, heighttobuttonbinds.Theobligatorymacrosupport althoughwe’veseenmanyofthembefore.Thefour isalsopresent. clip-in5gweights,forexample,arehelpful,butalso CONCLUSION featuredintheoriginalKone,andtheEasy-Shift[+] Makenomistake,theRoccatKoneXTDisawellbutton,whichactsasamouse-basedShiftkey, designed,great-lookingmousethatfeelsjustright doublingtheamountofavailablebinds,premiered ontheKone[+]. Sowhat’sactuallynewabouttheKone THE ERGONOMIC EXTRAVAGANZA IS XTD?Well,ithasanall-new8,200dpi Pro-AimR3sensor.Whetherthisis TOPPED OFF BY THE ROBUST SCROLL actuallyanupgradeoverthe6,000dpi WHEEL, WHICH MAKES WELLsensorfoundintheKone[+]isdebatable DEFINED CLICKS AS IT ROTATES though;wedon’tknowanyonewhouses adpisettinghigherthanaround3,200,as inyourhand,whilealsoofferingloadsoffeatures. that’swhenitstartstomakegamesuncontrollable, However,italsosharesallitsbestfeatures(theshape, evenforsniperplayerswithbigmousepads. lightingandsoftware)withtheKone[+],whichcanbe MoretangibleadditionsarethenewOmron foundforaround£55,andtheextraresolutionis switchesunderthetwoprimarymousebuttons. needless.Asaresult,there’snoreasonforyoushell Thesefeelsatisfyinglycrunchytouse,withapleasant outanextra£20fortheXTD. snaptotheiraction. PAUL GOODHEAD Beyondthis,however,it’sbusinessasusualagain– thefour-pointlightingarrangementdownthesides ofthemouseisverypretty,andalmostinfinitely customisable,butwe’veseenitbefore,andthe shapeofthemouseisthesametoo. DESIGN 36 / 40 Thelatterpointthereisdefinitelyapointinits favour,though,asitmeanstheXTDhasthesame FEATURES 26 / 35 supportive,hand-fillingshapeasitspredecessors. Thethumbbuttonsarewelllocatedtoo,runningthat VALUE 10 / 25 OVERALL finelinebetweenbeingconvenientlyplaced,while

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SCROLL SAW

DREMEL Moto-Saw
A multi-function scroll saw, but it has its limitations
CHAINSAW Compact; easily dismantled; hard carry case; very effective HACKSAW Other scroll saws are cheaper and have better features

W

HOW MUCH?
Price£94incVAT Supplierwww.tooled-up. com Manufacturer www.dremel.com SKUnumberMS20-1/5

IN DETAIL
Maximummaterialdepth 18mm Maximumclamp/worktop depth70mm Speedcontrol1,500– 2,250rpm Weight1.1kg

henitcomestocuttingcurves andotherdelicatedetails,a scrollsawisusuallybetterthanarotary toolandcuttingdisc.They’realittlemore expensive,withbasicmodelsstartingataround£70, butthey’remuchbetterforcuttingmaterialsquickly andaccurately.Dremelreleaseditsfirstjigsaw-like cuttingtool,theTrio,awhileback,butit’snow Thisprovedtobealittletrickyatfirst,butwesoon launcheditsfirstproperscrollsaw.Calledthe gotthehangofit,andweresurprisedatjusthoweasily Moto-Saw,it’smoreakintoaminihand-heldscroll thebladecandealwithcurvesandcorners.Ithandled sawthanafullyfledged,worktop-bounddevice. 7mm-thickacrylicwithnoproblemsusingthemultiItcomesinasmall,hardcaseandit’salsoeasyto purposewoodsawblade,andthemetalsawblade dismantle.Thisallmakesitworthconsideringifyou madeshortworkofour3mmaluminiumcaseside don’thavethespaceforatraditionalscrollsaw,as paneltoo. thesegenerallytakeawhiletoassembleand CONCLUSION dismantle.Youcanalsouseitawayfromthemodestly TheDremelMoto-Sawisclearlyquitelimitedinits sizedbasetocutlargeorheavyobjectsyouotherwise appeal.Itsbladescan’tberotatedandyoucan’ttiltthe mightnotbeabletomove,suchasdesks,doorsor base,whilesimilarlypricedsawsofferthesefeatures largesectionsofmetal. Withasimpleclick,thesawsection clipsintoplaceinthebase,withalittle THE MOTO-SAW HANDLED 7MMover27cmofclearancebetweenthe THICK ACRYLIC WITH NO PROBLEMS bladeandrearorthroatofthesupport USING THE MULTI-PURPOSE arm.Itincludestwomulti-purposewood sawblades,twodetailwoodsawblades WOOD SAW BLADE andonebladeformetalwork,allofwhich andmore.It’splainlydesignedfordealingwithsmall canbeswappedoverinafewseconds.Twoscrewsectionsofmaterial,ratherthanlargeareas,while clampssecurethebasetoaworktop,whileasimple alsoboastingtheabilitytobehandheldtoo.Themain powerswitchontheundersideenablesyoutoturnit benefitisthatit’smuchquicker,easierandlessmessy on.Thespeedadjustmentdialrangesfrom1,500rpm tousethanaDremelrotarytoolandacuttingdisc.It to2,250rpm,dependingonthematerial.Onemajor performsitsspecifictaskswell,butitalsohasits gripe,however,isthatswitchingitoffisn’tquickor limitations;youcanfindcheaperandbetter-featured easy–anemergencystopbuttonwouldhavebeen scrollsawselsewhere. ausefulinclusion. ANTONY LEATHER Sadly,thebladescan’tberotatedtoenableyouto cutverylongsectionsofmaterialeither,although you’reprobablybetteroffbuyingabandsawifyouplan todoalotofthiskindofwork.There’sonly55mmof FEATURES 24 / 30 clearancebetweentheadjustableguiderailandthe blade,andthecutdepthcan’tbeadjusted.Itsprimary DESIGN 33 / 40 purposeistoenableyoutocutedgesatspecific angles,leavingyoutorelyonsteadyhandstocut VALUE 22 / 30 OVERALL straightsections.

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Thorough testing and research is the key to evaluating whether a product is worth buying, and deciding whether or not there’s a better alternative

We judge CPUs on whether they offer sufficient speed for the price. Part of a CPU’s speed score comes from how overclockable it is. Every type of CPU is tested in the same PC, so all results are directly comparable.

amd fm2

Intel LGA1155

AsusMaximus VGene

8GB of Corsair 8GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

AMDFM2 AMD FM2

Gigabyte GA-F2A75M-D3H

8GBofCorsair 2,133MHzDDR3

AMDSocket AM3+

AsusCrosshairIV Formula

4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

NvidiaGeForce GTX6802GB

120GBPatriot Wildfire

Windows7 64-bit

TESTS: WeusetheCustomPCMediaBenchmarks,CinebenchR11.5,WPrimeandCrysis2.Wealsotesttheresultantpowerdrawofthe
testPCwiththeCPUinstalled.ThesetestsrevealabroadrangeofperformancecharacteristicsfortheCPU,fromimageeditingtogaming andvideoencodingto3Drendering.WerunallthetestswiththeCPUatstockspeedandagainwhenoverclockedtoitshighestfrequency.

Graphics cards are mainly evaluated on how fast they are for their price. However, we also consider the efficacy and quietness of the cooler. Every graphics card is tested in the same PC, so all results are directly comparable.

4.2GHzIntelCore i5-2500K

8GBCorsair1,600MHz DDR3

AsusMaximusV FormulaZ77

Windows 7 64-bit Windows764-bit SP1

The graphics card Thegraphicscard we’rereviewing

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HOW WE TEST

2.66GHzIntelCore2 DuoE6750

2GBofCorsair 1,066MHzDDR2

250GBSamsung SpinPointP120S

AsusP5KDeluxe WiFi-AP

Ourbenchmarksuite simulateshowpeople reallyusePCs,anda higherscoreisbetter. Youcandownload thesuitefrom www.tinyurl.com/ benchies

Motherboards are evaluated on everything from layout and features to overclockability and value for money. Every motherboard is tested with the same components, so all results are directly comparable.

amd fm2
AMDA10-5800K

Someproductsare gloriouslyoverthe top.Theseitemsof excellentoverkill earnourExtreme Ultraaward. PremiumGrade productsare utterlydesirable– we’deatnothing butbeansuntilwe couldaffordthem. Productsworthy oftheProfessional awardmake you andyourbusiness appeareven moreawesome. Approvedproducts arethosethatdoa greatjobforthe money;they’rethe cannypurchasefor agreatPC.

Intel Core IntelCore i7-3770K

Motherboard ontest

8GBofCorsair 8GB of Corsair 1,600MHzDDR3

Motherboard 8GB of Corsair 8GBofCorsair ontest 2,133MHzDDR3

AMDPhenom Motherboard IIX61100TBE ontest

4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

NvidiaGeForce GTX6802GB*

120GB Patriot 120GBPatriot Wildfire

Windows 7 Windows7 64-bit

TESTS: WeusetheCustomPCMediaBenchmarksandseveralgames,andalsotest thespeedsoftheboard’sSATAports.Wetrytooverclockeverymotherboardwereview bytestingforamaximumQPI,baseclockorHTTaswellasoverclockingtheCPUtoits maximumair-cooledlevel.WerunourtestsatstockspeedandwiththeCPUoverclocked.
*Pleasenote:WetestAMDFM2motherboardsusingtheon-boardgraphics,nottheNvidiaGeForceGTX6802GB3GB

TESTS: ByusingthefastPCdetailedonthe left,wecanbesurethatanylimitationswesee areduetothegraphicscardontest.Wetestthe fourgames(right)attheirmaximumdetail settings,intheirhighestDirectXmode,andat threeresolutions.High-endcardsshouldbeable tosustainplayableframeratesat2,560x1,600, while1,920x1,080ismoreimportantformidrangecards; wenolongertestat1,680x1,050 because1,920x1,080issocheap.Wealsotryto overclockeverygraphicscardwetesttoseewhat differencethismakestothecard’sperformance.
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Forthosegadgets andgizmosthat reallyimpressus, orthatwecan’tlive without,there’sthe CustomKitaward.

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Custom Kit

FORTNUM & MASON ST. CLEMENTS
Price£9.95forsix These % gargantuan pieshaveanairof quality,andsothey shouldat£10perpack. should at £10 per pack. Fortunately,theybackupthe Fortunately, they back up the pricewithdivine,crunchy,goldenpastry andoodlesofcitrus-dominatedfilling withapleasantlylongaftertaste.Not suitableasaneverydaypie,butseriously goodforthoselookingtoimpressguests.
Supplier www.fortnumandmason.com Manufacturer www.fortnumandmason.com

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It’s the group test you’ve all been waiting for! This year features our biggest ever mince pie test, with 16 pies blind-tested by the team for your pleasure
Tasters: Ben Hardwidge, Joe Martin, Harry Butler, Matthew Lambert and Alex Watson Words: Paul Goodhead

MORRISONS DEEP-FILLED
Price£1forsix Ifyou’re % looking forapietopopin yournuclearbunker, your nuclear bunker, looknofurther;thesepies look no further; these pies tasteasthoughMorrisonshaspumped themsofullofpreservativesthatthey’ll outlastanynuclearwinter.Notthatyou’d wanttoliveoffthesepies,mind,asthe flabbypastryhadaburnedtastetoitand thefillingwasstrangelychewy.
Supplier www.morrisons.co.uk Manufacturer www.morrisons.co.uk

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ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL
Price£2forsix Asda’s box Asda’sbox % proudlyproclaims thatthesepiesweredevelopedwiththe helpofLeith’sSchoolofFoodandWine, andthefillingcertainlybacksthisup.It wasdubbeda‘propermince’byour panel,beingchunky,thickandpleasantly tart.Annoyingly,though,it’sletdownby thethinandunremarkablepastry,which needsmorebiteandpresence.
Supplier www.asda.com Manufacturer www.asda.com

TESCO FINEST WITH COURVOISIER
Price£2forsix DespitetheCourvoisierbrand, % noonepickedoutanyboozy notesfromthesepies. notes from these pies. Instead,theynoticed Instead, they noticed thethickcaseofdry the thick case of dry pastry,whichsucks moistureoutof yourmouthasyou chew.Thisapity,as thefillingisgoodand the filling is good and fullofchunkypiecesoffruit. full of chunky pieces of fruit.
Supplier www.tesco.com Manufacturer www.tesco.com

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DUCHY ORIGINALS ORGANIC
Price£3.99forsix Long% term readerscouldchart readers could chart theriseoftheDuchy the rise of the Duchy Originalmincepie–early Original mince pie – early versionshadabizarrecheesytwang,but they’vesteadilyimproved.Thisoffering haddeliciouslybutteryandfirmpastry, whilethefillingwastartandrich.A smidgenmorefillingwouldbe appreciated,butthat’snitpicking.
Supplier www.waitrose.com Manufacturer www.duchyoriginals.com

Price£1.79forsix

MR KIPLING

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MrKiplingclaimstomake % exceedinglygoodcakes,but we’veneverbeenbowledoverbyhis mincepies.Thisyearisnodifferent–for everythinggood(thespicy,rich,slightly stickyfilling),there’ssomethingbad(the dry,excessivelybulkypastry dry, excessively bulky pastry case).Thisleftthe panelnonplussed, declaringthese piesexceedingly average.
Supplier www. sainsburys.co.uk Manufacturer www.mrkipling.co.uk

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SAINSBURY’S TASTE THE DIFFERENCE
Price£2forsix Crunchyis % thefirst wordthatcameto mindwhenbitinginto thepastryinthesepies– the pastry in these pies – it’smoreshortbreadthanshort it’s more shortbread than short crust.It’stasty,though,andfilled toburstingwithmincemeat.Ourone quibblewasthatthegenerousdollopof fillingwassimplytoosweet;anannoying oversightinanotherwisesolidpie.
Supplier www.sainsburys.co.uk Manufacturer www.sainsburys.co.uk

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SELFRIDGES DEEP FILLED
Price£6.99forfour At£1.75 % each,these arethemostexpensive are the most expensive piesontest,althoughthey pies on test, although they don’tlookasfatasFortnum don’t look as fat as Fortnum &Mason’sefforts.Bitingintothem, however,revealsdeliciouslycrumbly pastrywithagentlealmondflavour. There’saheapoffillingtoo,althoughit’s goodratherthanspectacular.Fortnum &Masonmakebetterpremiumpies.
Supplier www.selfridges.com Manufacturer www.selfridges.com

CUSTOM KIT

SAINSBURY’S SO ORGANIC
Price£2.25forfour Fromthefirm,crunchy, % shortbread-likepastrytothe fruity,richfilling,thesegenerously proportionedpiesareadelight.Aslight hintofwarmingboozecanbedetected, whichisjustright,andtheratioofpastry tofillingisspoton.Theycostmorethan to filling is spot on. They cost more than average,butthey’re average, but they’re worththeextra pennies.
Supplier www. sainsburys.co.uk Manufacturer www. sainsburys.co.uk

HESTON FROM WAITROSE
Price£3.29forfour Hestoniswellknownforhis % culinaryshenanigans,and they’reinfullforcehere.Thepastryis they’re in full force here. The pastry is heavilyspicedwith ginger,andthefilling ispleasantlychunky. Thereisn’tenoughof thelatter,though,and whilethespicedpastry while the spiced pastry ispleasant,itfeelslike is pleasant, it feels like needlessmessingabout.
Supplier www.waitrose.com Manufacturer www.waitrose.com

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MARKS & SPENCER ALL BUTTER
Price£2.49forsix Theseareregularfavouritesin % ourannualtest,sowewere shockedtofindthefillingtastedsharp andartificialthisyear.Ittastesasthough cheapmedicinalalcoholwasused insteadofbrandy,whichisaproblem eventhepleasantshortbread-like even the pleasant shortbread-like pastrycan’tmitigate. pastry can’t mitigate.
Supplier www. marksandspencer. com Manufacturer www.marksand spencer.com

LIDL SNOWY LODGE DEEP FILLED
Price£1.89for12 At16pperpie,thesearethe % cheapestontest. cheapest on test. Theylookittoo,being They look it too, being evensmallerthan otherbudgetpies. Thepastryis average,andlacks average, and lacks bite,whilethefilling bite, while the filling hasachemicaltwang has a chemical twang andlookslikebrownbaby and looks like brown baby foodratherthanchunkymincemeat.
Supplier www.lidl.co.uk Manufacturer www.lidl.co.uk

ASDA

Price£1forsix We’re % concerned thatAsda’sproduct developmentteam musthavetastedthese must have tasted these andsaid,‘Yes,that’showmince piesshouldtaste.’Thedrypastry disintegratesintoahorriblesandy texturewhenyoubiteit,andtheonly redeemingfeatureaboutthebrown, sludge-likefillingisthatitonlytastes halfasbadasitlooks.
Supplier www.asda.com Manufacturer www.asda.com

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HARRODS LUXURY ALMOND & BRANDY
Price£9.50forsix Thesepiessplitopinion;some % lovedthechunky,almonddominatedfilling,whileothersthoughtit wastoofarfromtraditionalmincemeat. Eitherway,thepastrywaslargely forgettable,meaningthatthesumof thewholewaswellbelow the whole was well below whatwe’dexpect frompiescosting over£1.50apop.
Supplier www. harrods.com Manufacturer www harrods.com

ALDI HOLLY LANE LUXURY
Price£1.69forsix Ifthefirst % biteiswith theeyethenthe HollyLanepiesare alreadyastepbehindmost already a step behind most oftheircompetitorsthankstotheir anaemic,unappealingpastrycases. What’smore,bitingintothemreveals alightsmearingofsubstandard mincemeat,withafakeboozetaste andstrangearomasofbadperfume.
Supplier www.aldi.co.uk Manufacturer www.aldi.co.uk

WAITROSE ALL BUTTER
Price£2.49forsix Thesepiesarelikelytograce % middle-classcoffeetablesall overthecountry,soit’sa over the country, so it’s a shamethey’renothing shame they’re nothing morethanaverage. Ourtastersfoundthe pastrypleasantbut indistinct,andwhile thefillingexhibitedagood, the filling exhibited a good, jammyrichness,itwastoothinlyspread. Therearebetterpiesonofferhere.
Supplier www.waitrose.com Manufacturer www.waitrose.com 54

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Custom Kit
CARD GAME

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CUSTOM KIT

Written by Paul Goodhead Seen something worthy of appearing in Custom Kit? Send suggestions to paul_goodhead@dennis.co.uk

We check out the latest gadgets, gizmos and geek toys
CPU WARS
Wedon’toftenletouta 02 whoopwhenproducts

arrive,butwemadean exceptionfortheconcentrated geekinessinsideCPUWars. BasedonthefamiliarTop Trumpsrules,CPUWarsforces everynotableprocessorfrom thelastfourdecadestoface offinasilicondeathmatch, witheverythingfromthe humbleIntel8080tothe Core-i7rangerepresented. Needlesstosay,playingthe gamecausedmanyoftheteamtoslipintoanostalgia-soakedhaze,witholdCPUssuchasthe ZilogZ80ortheCyrix6x86drawingwistfulsighseverytimetheychangedhands.Ifyou’renot alreadyscramblingforyourdebitcardtoplaceanorder,thenfrankly,you’reoffourChristmas cardlist. PG BOTTOM TRUMPS TOP TRUMPS
Price £8 inc VAT Supplier www.cpuwarsthegame.com Manufacturer www.cpuwarsthegame.com

EBOOK READER ON-EAR HEADPHONES

TheExodusheadphonesaremade almostentirelyfromrenewable materials,whichisallwellandgood,butit doesn’tpreventthemfrombeingamong themostpoorlydesignedheadphones we’veevertested.Thesuede-clad, elasticatedinnerheadbandisfartootightly strung,meaningthecanscreepuptheside ofyourheadwhileyou’rewearingthem. Thiseffectwouldreduceovertimeasyou stretchedtheelastic,but£90headphones shouldworkperfectlystraightoutofthe box.It’sapity,asthesoundonshowistopnotch–highnotesarepickedoutwell,and thebalanceispleasantlyalessbass-biased thanmanyotherpriceyheadphones. PG MARLEY & ME BOB MARLEY
Price £88 inc VAT Supplier www.amazon.co.uk Manufacturer www.thehouseofmarley.co.uk

HOUSE OF MARLEY EXODUS

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK SIMPLE GLOWLIGHT

01

gripontheebookreadermarket,but Barnes&NoblethinksitsNookcan takeontheubiquitousKindle.Fora coupleofweeks,weagreed,asthe Nook’silluminatedscreenmade readingatnightpossible,anditcan displaybooksboughtfromthird-party ebookstorestoo.Unfortunately, AmazonhassincereleasedtheKindle PaperWhite,whichhasamoreeven light,andahigherresolutionscreen. OnceyouaddintheNook’sbloated andchildishstyling,it’sclearthat you’rebetteroffwithaKindle. PG CRANNY NOOK
Price £109 inc VAT Supplier www.argos.co.uk Manufacturer www.barnesandnoble.com

03 It’sabravecompanythat challengesAmazon’svice-like

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BUDGETCASES WorldMags.net

CUT-PRICES CASES
We round up ten chassis under £55 to find the best home for a budget build
omatterwhatpartsyouchooseforyournextPCbuild, you’regoingtoneedacasetoaccommodatethemall. Withevenmid-rangecasescostingcloseto£100, though,splashingoutonanewonecanbeabitterpill toswallow,especiallyifyou’reonatightbudgetandnotfussed aboutfeaturessuchaswater-coolingsupport,showroomlooks ortheabilitytohouseamonsterXL-ATXmotherboard. However,theaffordablecasemarketisstrewnwithpaper-thin steel wreckssportingbadlycutmaterials,below-parcoolingand bodgedbuildqualitythatcanhaveyoucursingyourluckmidbuild.Despitepayingalittleless,youdon’thavetoexpectasteep dropinquality,though.Evenabudgetcasecanoffereasybuilding, decentcoolingandarichsetoffeatures. Inoursearchforthebesthardware,whateverthebuild,we’ve assembledtencasescostinglessthan£55,withahugevarietyin priorities.Somehaveoptedformaximumcooling,othersfora franklyunbelievablerangeoffeaturesfortheprice.Meanwhile, afewhavechosentodrivethepricedown.Whichcasedeserves tohouseyournextbuild?Readontofindout.

N

HARRY BUTLER

58 Howwetested 59 AntecOne 60 AntecThreeHundredTwo 61 BitFenixShinobi 62 CoolerMasterElite 64 CorsairCarbide200R
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431Plus

66 EnermaxOstrog 68 FractalDesignCore3000 70 NZXTSource210 72 SilverStoneRL01 74 XigmatekMidgardII 76 Featuretable 78 Graphs
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otestourarrayofsub-£55cases,we usedaBiostarTPowerI55motherboard andanIntelCorei7-870CPUoverclocked to3.4GHz.WhilethisCPUisnowafew generationsold,its95WTDPmatchesthat oftheIntelCorei5-2500Kandis18Wgreater thanthatoftheIntelCorei5-3570K,soit remainsagoodindicatorofhowacasecan dealwiththeheatfromamodernCPU. AGelidTranquilloheatsinkisfittedtothe CPU,combinedwithaNoctuaNF-S12BULN fan.Runningatitsfullspeedof700rpmand anairflow-rateof38.2m³/hour,thefanpushes outenoughairtokeeptheCPUstableinan unventilatedenvironment,whilebenefiting fromtheadditionalairflowofcasefans. TojudgeGPUcooling,weusedaRadeon HD78502GB.This130WGPUismore indicativeofthemid-rangegraphicscards peoplewillbeinstallingintoaffordable chassisthanahigh-endcard.Wealsolocked itsfanspeedto30percentintheAMD CatalystControlCenter,inordertoeliminate thevariabilityofdriver-enforcedfanspeeds. Alongsidethiscorehardware,wefitted eachcasewitha2.5inSSD,a3.5inharddisk anda5.25inopticaldrivetotesteach associatedmountingmechanism.Fora PSU,weusedaSeasonicX-Series660WGold fullymodularPSU,withthe24-pin,8-pin EPS12V,two6-pinPCI-E,twoSATAandtwo
TheSeasonicX-Series660W’ssemipassivecoolingmakesitsilent whenidleandtherefore unabletointerfere whengauginga case’snoise

how we test T

The130WRadeonHD7850isindicativeofthemid-rangegraphics cardspeoplewillbeinstallingintoaffordablechassis

Molexpowerconnectorsfitted.Thismodel wasselectedduetoitssemi-passivecooling, makingitsilentunderidleconditionsand thereforeunabletointerferewhengauging acase’snoiselevels. Thishardwarewasbuiltintoeverycase, withcaregiventorouteandtidyasmany cablesaspossiblebehindthemotherboard tray,orintodesignatedareas.Thecase’s hardwarewasthenplacedunder30minutes ofthermalloadusingPrime95’ssmallfft testtoloadtheCPUandUnigine’sHeaven BenchmarktostresstheGPU.Using

CoreTempandGPU-Z,temperature measurementsweretakenthroughoutthe 30minutes,withthepeaktemperatures beingrecordedandcomparedtotheambient roomtemperaturetogenerateourresultsin theformofdeltatemperatures(deltaT). Weweren’tjustinterestedinhowthecases performedoutofthebox,butalsoinhow extracoolingfanscouldimprovecooling.As such,wealsotestedeachcaseafteradding apairof120mmScytheGentleTyphoon 1,850rpmfans.Eachiscapableofshifting amighty98m³/hourofair,dramatically boostingairflowinoroutofacase.Thesefans werefittedtoeithertherearexhaust,roof exhaust,sideintake,frontintakeorfinally thefloorintake,inthatorderofpriority, dependingontheavailablemountsineach case,withthethermalteststhenrepeated. Eachcase’sperformancescoreisa combinationofitsperformancewithand withouttheextrafans,comparedtothe otherchassisontest.Thefeaturesscore iscalculatedviaapoints-basedsystem awardedfordrivemounts,fanmounts, includedfansandextrassuchasfan controllersanddustfilters.Meanwhile, thedesignscoreistakenfromourown experienceswhenitcametobuildingour systemineachcase,andtheoverallbuild quality.Finally,thevaluescoreisaweighted combinationofeachofthesethreescores comparedtoacase’scurrentRRP.

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BUDGET CASES

Excellent cooling and good value, but it’s worth spending a little more

ANTEC One

A

ntec’strackrecordwithaffordablecases isimpressive,andtheOnecontinues thistradition.Itsblackcorechassisis complementedbyaremovableplastic fascia,withmeshedgrillsrunningthefullheightof thecase.Meanwhile,afrontpanelequippedwithtwo USB3portsisfittedtotheunderneathoftheroof, ratherthanthefascia,soit’seasytopopoffthefront toconnectfansandroutecables. Despitebeingnarrower,shorterandshallowerthan theThreeHundredTwo(seep60),theOnestilloffersa decentarrayoffanmounts.Therear120mmandroof 120mmmountsarebothequippedwithAntec’sown fans,whilea120mmleftside-panelmount,a120mm frontmountanda120/140mmfloormountallowroom forfurtherimprovement.UnliketheThreeHundred Two,though,there’snooptiontoadjustfanspeeds. Meanwhile,theOne’sinteriorissensiblylaidout. Thetrioof5.25indrivebaysareequippedwithtool-free fittings,whiletheharddiskcagebelow,accessedonly viatherightsidepanel,usesmountingrailstoclip drivesintoplace.Apairof2.5indrivemountsisalso provided–oneontheflooroftheharddiskcageand onededicatedmountatthetopofthecage. Therehavebeensomecompromisesthough; theexpansionslotcoversarefixedinplacewith steelfixingsandmustbesnappedoutbeforebeing discarded,whileamaximumsupportedGPUlength of275mmwillonlyjustaccommodatethelargest cards.Thelackofadedicatedholethroughwhichto tuckthe8-pinEPS12Vcableisanannoyancetoo;

otherwise,cablerouteingisexcellentthankstothe useofextrudedsidepanelbulges. Withitspairoffans,theOneamazedusby producingsuperbcoolingoutofthebox.TheCPU deltaTof48°CandGPUdeltaTof35°Ceven surpassedtheAntecThreeHundredTwo,andthis wasachievedwithnoticeablebutstillpleasantlyquiet fannoise.Withstockcoolingalreadysoremarkable, addingtwoScytheGentleTyphoon1,850rpmfans didn’tadvancetheOne’scoolingagreatdeal.Withone fittedasasideintakeandtheotherasafrontintake, theCPUdeltaTdroppedto46°C,whiletheGPUdipped to33°C–a2°CdropthatplacestheOneamongthe bestcasesontestintermsofcoolingability.

ONE VISION Great stock cooling; low price; solid quality ONE DIRECTION Comparatively lacking in features

CONCLUSION
TheAntecOnepunchesaboveitsweightintermsof cooling,andat£41,offerssuperbvalue.However,the XigmatekMidgardII(seep74)andFractalDesignCore 3000(seep68)offerfancontrollers,morefanmounts and,inthecaseoftheCore3000,morefans.Forjust £10more,they’reworththeextrainvestment. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

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HOW MUCH?
Price£41incVAT Supplier www.cclonline.com Manufacturer www.antec.com
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A decent case with solid build quality and great cooling
SPARTANS Easy to build inside; capable cooling; dualspeed fan controller PERSIANS Fewer fan and drive mounts than the competition; drab interior

ANTEC Three Hundred Two

O

HOW MUCH?
Price£50incVAT Supplierwww.dabs.co.uk Manufacturer www.antec.com

ntheoutside,theThreeHundredTwo hasthesametypicalAntecblackpaintjob andutilitarianmeshedfrontpanelastheOne (seep59),withthefrontpanelequippedwith apairofUSB3portsandplacedatthetopofthefascia. TheThreeHundredTwosportsagreaternumberof fanmounts,though,with120mmrearand140mm rooffansincluded.Therightandleftsidepanelseach offera120mmfanmount,plusthere’sapairoffront 120mmfanmounts.Pleasingly,boththebundled coolingfansarewiredintorear-mountedtwo-speed fancontrollersaswell,andcanbeconnectedvia3-pin orMolexpowerplugs. Swingopenthesidepanel,however,andyou’llbe surprisedtofindadrab,baremetalinterior.Whilethe caselacksasidepanelwindowtoshowoffitsguts,it’s surprisingtofindsuchblandnesswhenpaintedinsides havelongbeenthenormwithenthusiastcases. Theinterioroffersplentyofroom,though,witha fixedharddrivecagecapableofhousingsix3.5in drivesusingmountingrails.Meanwhile,thethree 5.25indrivebaysabovearetool-free,andtwo2.5in drivemountsareavailable–oneatthebottomof theharddrivecageandoneonthebackofthe motherboardmount. Cablerouteingissimple,buteffective,withahuge 26mmofspacebehindthemotherboardtohide cables.Threecut-outholesarealsowellplaced,but there’snoholeforthe8-pinEPS12Vcable,whichyou’ll needtoroutethroughthelargeCPUcut-outinstead. Outofthebox,theThreeHundredTwocooledour

testhardwarewell,withaCPUdeltaTof50°Canda GPUdeltaTof34°C.Switchingthefanstotheirlowest settingsawthesetemperaturesriseby1°Ceach,but eventhentheThreeHundredTwoofferedsomeofthe mosteffectivestockcoolingontest. AddingthepairofScytheGentleTyphoon1,850rpm fans(asaside-panelintakeandfrontintake)hadlittle impact,witha1°CdropinCPUtemperature.The GPUdeltaTof32°Cwasthebestresultofanyontest though.Withtwofanspeedsavailable,we’dchoose thelowersetting;atfullspeed,thefanssoundeda littleintrusive(andnotablylouderthanthoseofthe One),whilethenoisewasminimalatthelowersetting.

CONCLUSION
Withgreatcoolingandsuperbbuildquality,theAntec ThreeHundredTwoisacapablechassis,butit’s eclipsedbythecompetitioninanumberofways.Other casesontestsportmorefanmounts,moredrivebays andbettercablerouteing,whilematchingtheThree HundredTwo’sstrengths.Althoughthere’slittleto criticiseit,therearebetteroptionselsewhere. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

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BUDGET CASES

BITFENIX Shinobi
All show, but no go

B

itFenixhasnowfirmlyestablisheditselfasa regularinthecasemarket,withitschassis oftencladinitstrademarkSofTouchplastic. TheShinobi,despiteits£50pricetag,isno different,andlookssleekandstylishasaresult,with itsminimalistdesignlargelyfreeofthemeshthat dominatesotherbudgetcases. Behindthesleeklooksaresixseparatefanmounts: a120mmmountintherear,fittedwithoneofBitFenix’s ownfans;apairof120mm/140mmmountsintheroof; a120mmmountinthefloor;andapairof120mm mountsatthefront.Boththedetachablefasciaand floorareequippedwithdustfilterstoensuretheinside remainsasattractiveastheoutside,whilethefront panel,equippedwithapairofbothUSB2andUSB3 ports,sitsontheroof. Inside,theShinobiiswellappointed,withcablerouteingholeslocatedaroundtherightsideofthe motherboardtrayandalargeholeinthetop-left cornerthroughwhichtoroutethe8-pinEPS12Vcable. With19mmofclearancebehindthemotherboardtray, there’sloadsofroomtotuckandroutePSUcables, althoughthere’sadistinctlackoftool-freemountsfor either3.5inor5.25indrives,despitethe3.5inrack carryingthefittingsforthem.Youwon’tbeshortof diskspace,though,astheShinobicanaccommodate uptoeight3.5inharddisksandthree5.25indrives, alongsideasolitary2.5indriveviaa5.25inbayadaptor. Whileitslooksmightturnheads,however,the Shinobi’scoolingwaspoorincomparisontothe competition.Ourtestgeardidn’tcomecloseto

overheatingunderload,buttheCPUdeltaTof57°C wasthesecondhighestontest,whiletheGPUdeltaT of44°Cwasjointhighest. EquippingthecasewithapairofScytheGentle Typhoon120mmfansasaroofexhaustandfront intakesawabigimprovement,buttheShinobi remaineduncompetitive;theCPUdeltaTof54°C wasthehighestontestwhenusingtheextrafans, whiletheGPUdeltaTof40°Cwasalsotheworst resultwerecorded.However,theShinobi’ssingle coolingfanwasincrediblyquietinoperation–aclue tothecauseofthosehightemperatures.

SAMURAI JACK Great looks; good cable routeing; easy to build inside AKU Uncompetitive cooling, even with extra fans

CONCLUSION
TheBitFenixShinobiarguablylookstheleast ‘budget’ofanycaseontest,withitssharplines andSofTouchexteriorreminiscentofmuchmore expensivechassis.However,itspoorcoolingcan’t beignored;evenwithanextrapairof120mmcooling fans,it’sunabletomatchthestockCPUdeltaTofthe FractalDesignCore3000.Ourmumswereright;looks aren’teverything. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

15 / 30 19 / 30 18 / 20 12 / 20 OVERALL

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HOW MUCH?
Price£50incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.bitfenix.com
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BUDGET CASES

Not part of the elite after all
ELITE Adding extra fans improves cooling a lot FIRST ENCOUNTERS Poor CPU cooling; no cablerouteing space; no 2.5in mounts; feels cheap

COOLER MASTER Elite 431 Plus

C

HOW MUCH?
Price£45incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturer www.coolermaster.com

oolerMaster’sElite431Plusspicesupits aestheticswiththeadditionofalargeside panelwindowtotheusualcombinationof blacksteelandmesh,butsadlythisisthe highlightofthiscase.Itboaststhefewestfanmounts ontest,witharear80/90/120mmmount,apairofroof 120mmmounts,an80/90/120mmmountinthefloor andasingle120mmmounttothefront. Bafflingly,thesinglebundled120mmfanisfitted asafrontintakeratherthanarearorroofexhaust whereitwouldbemuchmoreeffective,althoughits blueLEDgivesasoftglowtotheElite’sfrontfascia whenrunning. Afrontpanel,includingaUSB3portandapairof USB2ports,iscomplementedbyafront-accessed hot-swap3.5inharddiskbay,fittedtothebottomof thethree5.25indrivemounts.Whilethismightbe usefulforthosejugglingmanydrives,itfeelslikean unnecessaryluxuryforanaffordablecase. Inside,theEliteisratherplainand,shockingly,it lacksanykindofcable-routeingspacebehindthe motherboardtray,unlessyou’rerouteingribbon-SATA cablesor3-pinfanwires.ThisleavesyoutuckingPSU cablesandunusedwiresbehindorinsidethe3.5in mountingrack,whichisn’tideal,asthiscanobstruct airflowfromthefrontofthecase. There’sroomforseven3.5indrivesanduptothree 5.25indrives,butthereareonlytool-freeclipsfortwo 5.25inandthree3.5indrives,andnomountfora2.5in driveanywhere.Wewerealsodisappointedtofindthat theexpansion-slotblankingplateswerefixedtothe

caseandneedtobeforciblysnappedoff–aprocess thatalarminglybendsthecasemetalattheback. Whilemanyofthecasesontestarebelow£50,the Elitewastheonlyonethatfeltcheap. Withitssingle120mmcoolingfanfittedineffectively asafrontintake,weweren’tsurprisedtofindthatthe Elitedeliveredpoorcoolingoutofthebox.TheCPU deltaTof64°Cwas30percenthigherthanthebest ontest,althoughthestockGPUdeltaTof39°Cwas slightlybetter. Addingapairofextra120mmcoolingfansasarear androofexhaustimprovedmattersconsiderably,with theCPUdeltaTdropping13°C–thebiggestimpact ourextrafanshadonanycase.

CONCLUSION
TheCoolerMasterElite431Plusleavesmuchtobe desired.Alackofcable-routeingspacebehindthe motherboardmakesforamessybuild,whileit’s unabletomatchthestockcoolingabilityofotherson test,evenwithupgradedcooling.Othercasesoffer muchmoreforthesameprice. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

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BUDGET CASES

It’s a joy to build inside this case, but its cooling is off the pace
CARBIDE Very well laid out; excellent drive mounts; great cable routeing CARBUNCLE Lacklustre GPU cooling

CORSAIR Carbide 200R

T

HOW MUCH?
Price£50incVAT Supplierwww.ebuyer.com Manufacturer www.corsair.com

heCorsairCarbide200Reschewsthemesh sportedbymanyofitscompetitors,witha minimalistandsmoothfrontfascia,shifting theventilationholestothesides.Itboasts plentyoffanmounts,withapairof120/140mm mountsintheroofcleverlyplacedtoallowthe installationofCorsair’sH100liquidcoolerwithout clashingwithmotherboardheatsinks. Therearealsorearandfront120mmmounts,both equippedwithCorsair’sfans,aswellasa120/140mm mountinthefloorandapairof120mmmountsinthe leftsidepanel.Thefrontfasciaisequippedwithadust filtertoo,asisthePSU,courtesyofafilterthatslides outfromtheundersideofthecaseforeasycleaning. Inside,the200Rhasagreatlayout,withamodern drivebayallocationboastingfour2.5inmountsand four3.5inmounts,allofwhicharetool-free.Thethree 5.25indrivesaretool-freetoo,withagapleftbetween thetwocagestoallowuninterruptedairflowfromthe frontintakefantothehardwareinside.Cable-routeing holesareplacedallaroundthemotherboardtray, includingaveryusefulholeatthetopthroughwhich toroutethe8-pinEPS12Vcable. Meanwhile,the15mmofclearancebehindthe motherboardtrayisenoughforevenfatcablessuchas the24-pinATXsnake,andthefrontpanelconnectors arealllongenoughtobecomfortablyroutedbehind themotherboardtraytothebottom-leftcornerofthe motherboard.AllofthismadetheCarbide200Roneof theeasiestchassisintowhichtobuildourtestsystem. Sadly,the200Rtripsupalittlewhenitcomesto

cooling,though,withitsflatfrontfascialimitingits airflow.ItsstockCPUdeltaTof54°Cisamid-table result,whiletheGPUdeltaTof42°Cwas8°Chotter thanthecoolestcasesontest. Addingapairof120mmcoolingfansasaroof exhaustandsidepanelintakehelpedconsiderably, though,withtheCPUdeltaTdroppingtoacool47°C andtheGPUdeltaTdippingto35°C.Whileitsstock performancewasn’tclosetooverheatingour hardware,it’sclearthataddingapairofextrasfans makesthe200Rmuchmorecompetitivewhenit comestocooling.Thepairofbundledfansareatleast quiet,though,producinganondescriptgentlenoise.

CONCLUSION
There’salottolikeabouttheCorsair200R;it’swell laidout,it’seasytobuildasysteminsideitandithasa healthyarrayoffeatures,includinganumberofextra fanmounts. However,thiscanalsobesaidofthe FractalDesignCore3000(seep68)andXigmatek MidgardII(seep74),bothofwhichoffersuperior stockcoolingandarebetterchoicesasaresult. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

21 / 30 23 / 30 19 / 20 14 / 20 OVERALL
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BUDGET CASES

ENERMAX Ostrog
DEFENCES Good array of fan and drive mounts; removable magnetic dust filters BREACHED Three different 3.5in drive mount methods of varying quality; average cooling

A solid effort, but let down by a confused interior

U

HOW MUCH?
Price£44incVAT Supplierwww.systo.com Manufacturer www.enermax.com

nboxingEnermax’sOstrog(whichisRussian for‘fortress’,andalsothenameofasmall villageinSlovenia–weassumethecaseis namedaftertheformer),itlooksandfeelslike amuchmoreexpensivecasethanits£44pricetag wouldleadyoutobelieve. There’splentyofgearbehindtheguisetoo,asthe Ostrogboastsapairof120/140mmfanmountsinthe roof,a120mmmounttotherear,a120mmmountin thefloor,a120mmmountinthefront,andbothan 80/120mmand120mmmountintheside-panel windowitself.Justasinglerear120mmfanis includedasstandard,althoughthere’scertainlya lotofroomtoexpand.Enermaxalsoincludesapair ofexcellentexternaldustfiltersforyoutoattach whereveryoufitintakefans,alongsideaslot-loaded externalPSUfilter. Sadly,theinteriorisratheramess,thankstoan inconsistentapproachtodrivebays.TheOstroghas threedifferentwaysofmounting3.5indrives:alower tool-freecageholdstwodrives;amiddleremovable cageholdsthreedrivesusingmountrails;anda removablecagesportsapairofexternal3.5inmounts, againusingtool-freeclips.Thequalityofthefittings variestoo;therailmountsarefirmbutthetool-free clipsandexternalmountcagearedecidedlywobbly. Therearefour5.25indrivebaystoo,althoughoneis occupiedbya5.25-to-2.5inadaptorforSSDs. There’safairamountofcable-routeingspace, althoughthe12mmofroomcanmakeslidingonthe sidepanelasqueeze.However,tryingtocraman8-pin

EPS12Vconnectorthroughtheprovidedtop-left holeprovedfutile,soyou’llneedtoroutethisviathe motherboardtray’sCPUcut-outpriortoinstalling themotherboard. Despiteshippingwithonlyasingleexhaustfan,the Ostroghandledourtesthardwarereasonably,witha CPUdeltaTof52°CandaGPUdeltaTof39°C.Both resultsare4°Cand5°Crespectivelywarmerthanthe bestchassisontest,buttheCPUresultisimpressive foracasewithjustonefan.Addinganextrapairof fansasaroofexhaustandsidepanelintakesawthe Ostrog’sCPUdeltaTdrop4°Cto48°C,whileitsGPU deltaTdippedbyonly2°Cto37°C.

CONCLUSION
Withitssmartlooksandsidepanelwindow,the EnermaxOstroglookslikeitshouldcostawholelot morethanits£44pricetag.Therearesomelovely touchestoo,includingthebundledpairofexternal magneticdustfilters.However,othercasesoffer bettercablerouteingandcoolingforaroundthesame cost,withoutthebafflingdrivemountsetup. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

22 / 30 24 / 30 13 / 20 16 / 20 OVERALL
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For Optimum Performance: Cases, PSU & Coolers Roundup

WorldMags.net

Case:

Elysium
Features:
Hot-swappable 2.5/3.5” SATA HDD docking on top panel

Case:

Asgard Pro
Features:
Fancy and elegant meshed front panel with iron-net covers Three external 5.25” drive bays with tool-free holders Seven internal 3.5” drive bays with tool-free holders One external 3.5” drive bay with tool-free holder or 2.5” internal drive space Offer left side tool-free holders but switchable to right side of cage Downside PSU space with removable dust filter Seven cooling fans available at most for your optimized airflow Top I/O with one super speed USB3.0 port, two USB2.0 & HD audio in/out jacks CPU backside hole for easy cooler installation Window side panel available

Support HPTX super big M/B and 10 PCI slots for four graphic cards

Two USB3.0 super-speed ports on top panel with dust-proof cover Both side screw-less ODD holders Dual PSU possible on the top & bottom 360/420mm water cooling radiator possible Fully external twelve 5.25” bays with two ‘4 in 3 HDD cage’ 3.5” HDD anti-vibration rubbers inside of 4 in 3 cages Anti-vibration rubbers & bottom dust filter for PSU Aluminum on the front mesh panel with removable dust filters

£149.99

£39.99

PSU (power supply):

Tauro Centauro Range
Features:
Official approved 80Plus Bronze efficiency certificate Easy cable management by meshed modular cables High compatibility by single 12V rail for high-end system configuration Great DC output quality by low ripple noise & low voltage regulation Stable & continuous output in 50°C ambient temperature Low noise by thermal fan controlled 14cm silent fan & two voltage synchronized 3 pin connectors Universal AC input by active PFC & up to 0.99 PF rate Compliant with latest EU ErP Direction Fully safety certificated with CE, FCC, TUV & UL Complete electric protection by OVP, UVP, OTP, OPP & SCP

PSU:

Features:
Over 85% efficiency & meets official 80Plus Bronze certificate High compatibility by single 12V rail for high-end system configuration Great DC output quality by low ripple noise & low voltage regulation Stable & continuous output in 50°C ambient temperature Low noise by thermal fan controlled 13.5cm silent fan & two voltage synchronized 3pin connectors Universal AC input by active PFC & up to 0.99 PF rate Compliant with the latest EU ErP Direction Fully safety certificated with CE, FCC, TUV, & UL Complete electric protection by OVP, OCP, UVP, OTP, OPP, & SCP

starting from £34.99

Prime SD 1484
Features:

Cooler:

starting from £64.99

Cooler:

H.D.T (Heat-pipe Direct Touch) technology Patent Blade-Fin technology increases 20% of ventilation & drops 10% noise Patent Blade-Fin technology is good at the prevention of keeping dust away from the fins edge Special fins (T: 0.5mm) style combination provides efficient air flow Unique & Patent Anti-vibration rubber fastens prevent vibration & absorb noise Dual fans installed option, 140mm / 120mm Equipped with multiple clips to support Intel LGA1366/1156/1155/775 & AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2

Dark Knight Nighthawk
(Stealth Edition) Features:
H.D.T. (Heat-pipe direct touch) technology Back plate & Spring screw to prevent M/B bended 3pcs 8mm high performance U type heat-pipes Overall black nickel heatsink 4pcs white LED/ transparent black fan Anti-vibration rubbers prevent fan vibration & also absorb vibration noise Light weight 120mm highly efficient PWM fan

£39.99

all available from

£31.99

WorldMags.net

WorldMags.net
Loads of fans and extras make this a great £50 case
CORE Includes three fans and a fan controller; awesome cooling; flexible drive trays
No USB 3; frustratingly stiff side panels; large graphics cards require removal of drive cage

FRACTAL DESIGN Core 3000

T

NETBURST

HOW MUCH?
Price£50incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturer www.fractal-design.com

heCore3000mightnotsharethefancylooks ofsomeofFractalDesign’sothercases, thankstoameshedfrontfascia,butitoffersa greatdealwhereitcounts,beneathitsblack steelyhide.It’sbristlingwithfanmounts,withapairof 120/140mmmountsintheroof,a140mmmount behindthefrontfascia,arear120mmmount,a 120mmfloormountanda120mmside-panelmount. What’smore,FractalDesignbundlesthecasewith threeofitscoolingfans:arear120mmexhaust,aroof 140mmexhaustandafront140mmintake.Whenyou considerthatthesimilarlypricedBitFenixShinobi(see p61)shipswithjustonefan,thisisextremelygenerous. Nothappywithjustaboatloadoffans,theCore3000 alsoshipswithavariable-speedfancontroller,which occupiesarearexpansionslot.Withthree3-pin Core3000withevenalargearrayofdrivessimple,with connectors,theMolex-poweredcontrollercan theadvantagethatitwon’tsoundlikeatinfullofangry regulatethespeedofallthreebundledfanstoyour beesafterwardseither. preference.However,withthecontrolsattherearof However,ifyou’reusingasuper-sizedgraphics thecase,itcanbewearisometoreachbehindyourPC card,youmightnothavetheoptionoftheremovable toadjustthemregularly. drivecage,astheCore3000offersonly270mmof Meanwhile,thefrontfasciamightlookutilitarian, GPUclearanceoutofthebox.Whilethisisenough butithidesafoamdustfilterthat,alongwiththeslotforthevastmajorityof graphicscards,largercards loadedPSUdustfilter,willhelptokeepyourPC’s suchastheRadeonHD58701GB,HD69702GBor innardsclean.Lesspleasingistheomissionof GTX6904GBwon’tfitwithouttheremovalofthe USB3supportontheCore3000’sfrontpanel; upperdrivecage. whilewecanappreciatethetrade-off madehere,prioritisingcoolingoverUSB3 THE FRONT FASCIA MIGHT LOOK support,evenbudgetmotherboards includeaUSB3headernow,sothelackof UTILITARIAN, BUT IT HIDES A FOAM supportisdisappointing.ThefourUSB2 DUST FILTER THAT WILL HELP TO ports,alongsidetheusualpower/reset KEEP YOUR PC’S INNARDS CLEAN buttonsandheadphone/microphone jacks,meanthatyoucanstillpluginplenty ofperipheralsthough. Meanwhile,cable-routeingholesalongtheright AccessingtheCore3000’sinteriorismoredifficult sideofthemotherboardtrayareinplentifulsupply. thanyou’dexpect,however;theextremelystiffside Someareobscuredslightlybythe5.25inand3.5in panelsonourreviewsamplerequiredagreatdeal drivebaymounts,butnottotheextentthatthey’re offorcetopryfree.Onceyou’reinside,you’llfindan completelyblocked. excellentarrayofdrivemountsthough.Six3.5in AswiththeEnermaxOstrog(seep66),therouteing mountsaresplitbetweentwocages;theloweris holeinthetop-leftcornerisunabletoaccommodate rivetedintoplace,buttheupperisremovable(and an8-pinEPS12Vcable,though,soyou’llneedtoroute rotatable)shouldyouneedextraroom. thisthroughthelargeCPUcut-outpriortoinstalling Eachmountusesaremovabledrivetraythatcan yourmotherboard.Spacecanbealittletightbehind mountboth3.5inand2.5indrives,withrubber themotherboardtraywhenitcomestocablerouteing vibration-dampeninggrommetsusedtoreducedrive too,althoughthe13mmofclearanceprovidedis noise.It’sagreatsystemthatmakesequippingthe enoughtoaccommodatethefat24-pinATXcable.

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BUDGET CASES

PERFORMANCE
Thankstoitstrioofstockcoolingfansatfullspeed, theCore3000offeredsuperbcoolingforourtest system,matchingthebestCPUcoolingontestwitha deltaTof48°C.GPUcoolingwasalsogreat,withthe deltaTof35°Cjust1°Cbehindthebestontest.Clearly, there’sasignificantbenefittotheextrabundled coolingfan. Wealsotestedthefansattheirlowestspeed,which sawboththeCPUandGPUdeltaTsriseby3°Cto51°C and38°Crespectively.Evenatfullspeed,thethree fanswerebynomeansloud,butthefannoisehada slightlyharshedgetoit,sodiallingdownthespeeda littleisadvisableiflownoiseisyourpriority. WithourextrapairofScytheGentleTyphoon 120mmcoolingfanstakingtheCore3000’sfancount tofive,coolingperformanceimproved,butnotbya greatdeal.A3°CdropintheCPUdeltaTsawitoffer thebestcoolingofanycaseontest,whileaGPUdeltaT of33°Cwasjust1°Coffthetopspot.However,the Core3000’sstockcoolingperformancewasenough tooutcoolmanycasesontest,evenwhentheywere fittedwithextrafans.

CONCLUSION
TheFractalDesignCore3000isasuperbchassis, thanksinparttotheinclusionofthreefans,enablingit toofferfantasticcoolingforjust£50.However,despite thepositives,there’sroomforimprovement.Thecable routeingcanbetroublesomeandtheabsenceofUSB 3supportisfrustrating,consideringtheubiquityof USB3headersonmodernmotherboards. AstheXigmatekMidgardII(seep74) lacksthese shortcomings,inadditiontomatchingtheCore3000in manyotherareas,itsneaksahead.However,theCore 3000remainsabountifulpackageoffanmounts,drive mountsandbundledfansandismorethanworthyof anApprovedaward. HB

COOLING 28 / 30 FEATURES 26 / 30 DESIGN 15 / 20 VALUE 17 / 20 OVERALL
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Excellent cooling for only £40, but light on features
Fantastic stock cooling; low price

NZXT Source 210 Elite
OPEN SOURCE

SAUCY POSTCARD Lacks dust filters; no 2.5in drive mount

W

HOW MUCH?
Price£40incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer cwww.nzxt.com

ithitsfaux-aluminiumdrivebayblanking platesandmodestlooks,NZXThasmade suretheSource210doesn’tfallfoulof meshoverload,whilekeepingtheplastic trimtoaminimum.Theresultisasmart-looking chassisthat’salsodeceptivelywellequipped consideringitssub-£40pricetag. Thefrontpanelatthetopofthefrontfasciapacksa singleUSB3andUSB2portwiththeusualheadphone andmicrophonejacks,andthefasciaisremovableif youwanttoaccessthepairof120mmfanmounts behindit.There’salsoapairof120/140mmmountsin theroof,arear120mmmount,a120mmfloormount anda120/140mmsidepanelmount. TheSource210mountstwocoolingfansas exhausts,witharear120mmfanandroof140mmfan included.Pleasingly,thecablesforthesefansarealso pre-routedbehindthemotherboardandfittedwith both3-pinandMolexconnectors,helpingtokeepthe interiortidy. Whilethere’splentyoffanmounts,theSource210 hasnodustfilters.Withoutfilters,theinsideofyour caseandPSUcansoonbecomecoatedinmuck,so theircompleteomissionisadisappointment. Inside,theSource210sportsalarge3.5inharddisk cagecapableofhousinguptoeight3.5indrivesusing tool-freefittings.However,thetool-freeclipsare decidedlyunconvincing,andonlyeightclipsare included.There’sno2.5inmounteither,soanSSD willrequirea2.5in-to-3.5inadaptor.Cablerouteing isgood,though,withfourcut-outsaroundthe

motherboard,andthefront-panelcablespre-routed behindthemotherboardtray.Aswithmanycaseson test,though,theholeforthe8-pinEPS12Vcable wasn’tbigenough,soyou’llprobablyneedtoroute thisthroughtheCPUcut-outinstead. Withnodustfilterstoobstructairflow,andapair offansclosetothecorehardware,theSource210 offersimpressivecooling,withaCPUdeltaTof48°C matchingtheFractalCore3000andAntecOne,while itsGPUdeltaTof35°Cwasalsoamongthebest. Addingourtwoextra120mmfansonlydroppedthe CPUandGPUdeltaTsby1°Cthough.Clearly,the Source210’sstockfansareclosetoitsidealcooling setup,andwerereasonablyquiettoo.

CONCLUSION
TheNZXTSource210deliversexcellentcoolingand stylishlooksatarock-bottomprice,butitslackof dustfiltersandadedicated2.5indrivemountarehard toignore.Werecommendspendinganextra£10on thebetter-equippedFractalDesignCore3000(see p68)orXigmatekMidgardII(seep74)instead. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

27 / 30 16 / 30 16 / 20 18 / 20 OVERALL
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Not a candidate for pole position
RED LINE Great dust filters; good cooling with extra fans BLOW-OUT Poor stock cooling; little room for cable routeing behind motherboard; poor 3.5in mounts; noisy fan

SILVERSTONE RL01

U

HOW MUCH?
Price£40incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.silverstonetek.com

nlikemanySilverStonecases,whichuse flippedorrotatedATXdesigns,theRL01has atraditionalmotherboardlayout.There’s stillsomeSilverStoneflairtoit,though,with mouldedsidepanelsandasmoothfrontfascia avoidingtheblack-boxlooksofsomecompetitors. Therearefivefanmountsonoffer,withapairof 120mmmounts,arear80/90/120mmmount,afloor 120mmmountandafront120mmmount.There’sjust asingleredLED-lit120mmfanincluded,though,and it’sfittedasafrontintaketogivethefrontfasciaared glowwhenthePC’srunning.Whiletheinclusionofjust asinglefanisdisappointing,SilverStonehasoutdone itselfwiththeRl01’sdustfilters;thefrontfascia,floor andPSUareallmesh-filtered,withtherooffan mountsboastinganexternalmagneticdustfilter. Meanwhile,apairoffront-panelUSB3portsisa welcomeextra. There’slesstogetexcitedaboutinside,though, especiallywhenyounoticethelackofanycablerouteingholesaroundthemotherboardtray.Instead, therearebentmetalclaspsforsecuringcables,but thesearetooweaktoholda24-pinATXconnector. There’s6mmofroombehindthemotherboardtray, andanextrudedsidepanel,butwithoutpre-cut routeingholes,it’sdifficulttousethisspaceeffectively. Thedrivemountsareunimpressivetoo,witharack foruptofive3.5indrivesonlyofferingtool-freeclipson oneside.Theotherisinaccessiblefromthefront,so drivescanonlybesecuredononeside;notideal shouldyouwanttotransportyourPC.

Thecasedidn’tcoolwelleither.ThestockCPUdelta Tof60°Cisthesecondworstresultontest,andlikely duetothelackofanexhaustfan.TheGPUdeltaTof 41°Cisasimilarlypoorresult,withthemajorityof casesdeliveringtemperatures2-7°Ccooler. Addingapairofextracoolingfansasaroofand rearexhausthelpedalot,though,droppingtheCPU deltaTto47°CwhiletheGPUdippedto36°CdeltaT. TheRL01iscapableofdecentcooling,butit requiresatleastapairofextrafanstounlockit. Therewasonemoredownsidethough:thebundled redLED-litfanwasintrusivelyaudible,andeasilythe noisiestofanyontest.

CONCLUSION
Otherthanitsraftofdustfilters,there’slittlewecan commendabouttheRL01.Thelackofcable-routeing optionsandinsecuredrivemountsmakesitapainto buildinsidethecase,itsfanisnoisyanditsstock coolingiscomparativelypoor.TheFractalDesignCore 3000(seep68)orXigmatekMidgardII(seep74)may cost£10more,butthey’rebothfarbetterchoices. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

19 / 30 18 / 30 12 / 20 15 / 20 OVERALL

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An affordable chassis that’s fit for the gods
THOR Eight fan mounts; great drive bays; external SATA connector; removable roof and front fascia LOKI Stock cooling could be better

XIGAMTEK Midgard II

X

HOW MUCH?
Price£52incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.xigmatek.com

igmatekmightnotbethefirstnameonyour lipswhenlistingcasemanufacturers,but ithasahistoryofputtingtogetherwelldesignedandextremelywell-pricedchassis. Bothitsmid-rangeUtgardandE-ATXElysiumhave earnedPremiumGradeawardsinthepast,withthe MidgardIIlookingtobejustascompetitivethanksto anexhaustivefeatureset,whichrivalsthatofcases twicecostingtwiceasmuch. TheMidgardII’sexteriormanagestostrikea balancebetweenthemeshedsections,neededto alloweffectiveairflowintothecase,andtherounded plasticfascia,whichismadefromasoft-touchplastic reminiscentofBitFenix’strademarkcoating.The resultisacasethatlooksandfeelsreassuringlysolid andstylish,despiteofferingahugetallyofeight separatefanmounts.There’sapairof120/140mm MidgardIIboastsapairofthree-mount3.5indrive mountsintheroof,asecondpairof120/140mm cages,usingdrivetraystoeasilysecureuptosix3.5in mountsintheleftsidepanel,athirdpairof120mm or2.5indrivesinplace.Thelowercageisrivetedin mountsinthefront,arear120mmmountandafloor placebuttheuppercage,fittedinfrontofthebundled 120mmmount.Thisis morethananyothercaseon coolingfan,canberemovedtoimproveairflow.All test,anditallowshugescopeforupgradingthecase’s sixtraysarefittedwithvibration-dampeningrubber stockcooling,apairof120mmfansfittedasafront grommetstocutdownondrivenoisetoo,although intakeandrearexhaust. thismeansthatyou’llneedascrewdrivertofitdrives. Withsomanyfanmounts,it’salsogoodtofindthat Abovethe3.5inmountsisatriooftool-free5.25indrive XigmatekalsobundlestheMidgardIIwitha3-channel bays,withthewelcomeadditionofanadaptorto variable-speedfancontroller.Occupying oneofthecase’ssevenexpansionslots, ABOVE THE 3.5IN MOUNTS IS A TRIO thecontrollerisidenticaltothatbundled OF TOOL-FREE 5.25IN DRIVE BAYS, withtheFractalCore3000(seep68),andit WITH THE WELCOME ADDITION OF A enablesyoutochoosewhetherthecase shouldcompromiseonnoiseorcooling. SLIMLINE OPTICAL DRIVE ADAPTOR There’sampleprovisionfordustfilterstoo, withanexternalfilterfittedalongthecase’sfloor,and mountaslimlineopticaldrive,completewithan thinmeshfiltersinsidethefrontfasciaandoverthe appropriatereplacement5.25inblankingplate. roofvents. Alongsidetheexcellentdrivebaymountsisthe TheMidgardII’sfrontpanelissimilarlywell surprisinglyroomyprovisionforcablerouteing,made equipped,withapairofUSB2portsalongsideasingle eveneasierbytheabilitytofullyremovetherooffascia USB3port,andtheusualheadphone/microphone andfrontfascia.Thankstoacleverfan-mounting jacksandpower/resetbutton.Uniquely,though, mechanismintheroof,whichsecuresfanstotwo there’salsoa3.5in/2.5inexternalSATAdockingstation platformsratherthandrilledmountholes,this builtintothecase’sroof.Whilethisisn’tanecessary effectivelyallowsyoutoremovethecase’sroofand luxury,it’sbetterimplementedthanthesamefeature gainaccesstoallthosepeskycornersaroundthe ontheCoolerMasterElite431Plus(seep62)andwill motherboardforcablerouteing. proveusefulifyou’rejugglingharddrives. Assuch,routeingthe8-pinEPS12Vcablebehind SwingingthesidepanelofftheMidgardIIreveals themotherboardisasnap,with19mmofclearance animpressiveinterior.LiketheFractalCore3000,the behindthemotherboardtrayofferingenoughroomfor

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24-pinATXpowercables.Thereareplentyofcable-tie pointsonthebackofthemotherboardtraytoo, enablingyoutousethebundledcabletiestobring ordertothecablechaos.Ouronecriticismisthatthe frontpanelcablesareratheruntidyandunbraided, butthisissoonrectifiedwithacabletieortwo.

dippingto47°C–2°Cwarmerthanthebestresulton test.TheGPUdeltaTof34°Cwassimilarlypleasing and,again,2°Coffthebestcoolingonoffer.

CONCLUSION
WhiletheMidgardIIdidn’tbeattheFractalCore3000 inourcoolinggraphs,itscoolingcanbeimprovedwith extrafans.It’stheMidgardII’sexpansivefeatureset thatshinesthough;nootherchassisontestcantouch itforfanmountsandextras,helpingtojustifythe£52 price.Theabilitytoremovetheroofandfrontfascia, combinedwiththehigh-qualitydrivebaymounts, makesPCbuildingeasytoo.Thesefactorsmakethe MidgardIIthemostcompetitivecaseinthisleague. HB

PERFORMANCE
Withapairoffansfittedasarearexhaustandfront intake,theMidgardIIproduceddecentcoolingout ofthebox,withaCPUdeltaTof54°Cmatchingthe CorsairCarbide200R(seep64). TheGPUdeltaTof36°Cismorecompetitive, however,withtheventilatedfrontpanelensuring effectiveairflowtothefrontintakefan.Meanwhile, diallingdownthefanstominimumspeedsawthe CPUtemperaturerisetoadeltaTof58°Cwhilethe GPUdeltaTincreasedto40°C.Bothresultsareless competitive,butyou’llwanttoslowdownthefans,as theysoundharshatfullspeed. AddingourtwoScytheGentleTyphoon120mm fansasaroofexhaustandsideintakeimprovedthe MidgardII’scoolingconsiderably,withtheCPUdeltaT

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

24 / 30 28 / 30 19 / 20 16 / 20 OVERALL
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FEATURE TABLE
AntecOne Price* (inc VAT) Supplier Manufacturer Dimensions (W x D x H, mm) Materials Available colours Empty weight (kg) Features Front panel ports 2 x USB 3, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button 2 x USB 3, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 1 8 7 170 320mm 19mm Optional None Dual-speed fan control None Blue LED-lit fan, hot-swap 3.5in hard disk bay 1 x 80/90/120mm rear, 2 x 120mm roof, 1 x 80/90/120mm floor, 1 x 120mm front None 1 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button ATX, micro-ATX 3 0 7 7 170 310 2mm 2 x USB 3, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button £41 www.cclonline.com Antec 195 x 478 x 440 Steel, plastic Black 4.9 AntecThreeHundred Two £50 www.dabs.com Antec 220 x 487 x 470 Steel, plastic Black 6.8 BitFenixShinobi £50 www.overclockers. co.uk BitFenix 205 x 490 x 460 Steel, plastic Black, white 6.8 CoolerMasterElite431 Plus £45 www.scan.co.uk Cooler Master 192 x 499 x 427 Steel, plastic Black 5 CorsairCarbide200R £50 www.ebuyer.com Corsair 210 x 497 x 430 Steel, plastic Black 6.1

Supported motherboards External 5.25in bays External/internal 2.5in bays External/internal 3.5in bays Number of backplates Max CPU cooler height (mm) Max graphics card length (mm) Clearance behind motherboard (mm) Side panel window Extras

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 2 5 7 165 275 7mm + extruded panel

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 2 6 8 175 320 26mm

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 4 4 7 180 320/400mm 15mm

Cooling Fan mounts 1 x 120 rear, 1 x 120mm roof, 1 x 120 left side panel, 1 x 120/140mm floor, 1 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 120mm roof PSU only 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 140mm roof, 1 x 120mm right side panel, 1 x 120mm left side panel, 2 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 140mm roof Front and PSU Two-speed 1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120/140mm roof, 1 x 120mm floor, 2 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120/140mm roof, 2 x 120/140mm left side panel, 1 x 120/140mm floor, 2 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 120mm front Front, PSU

Supplied fans

1 x 120mm rear

1 x 120mm front

Dust filters Fan controller

Front, floor, PSU

Front, roof and PSU

* Prices correct at time of going to press

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EnermaxOstrog £44 www.systo.co.uk Enermax 200 x 480 x 460 Steel, plastic Black, white 5.5 1 x USB 3, 3 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button FractalDesignCore3000 £50 www.scan.co.uk Fractal Design 200 x 480 x 430 Steel, plastic Black 7.7 4 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button NZXTSource210 £40 www.overclockers.co.uk NZXT 195 x 495.5 x 440 Steel, plastic Black, white 5.9 1 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button SilverStoneRL01 £40 www.overclockers.co.uk SilverStone 192.5 x 485 x 440 Steel, plastic Black 5.5 2 x USB 3, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button

BUDGET CASES

XigmatekMidgardII £52 www.overclockers.co.uk Xigmatek 205 x 488 x 458 Steel, plastic Black 7.2 1 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, headphone, microphone, power button, reset button, 2.5/3.5in SATA hot-swap dock ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 6 6 7 170 295/410mm 19mm Optional

ATX, micro-ATX 4 1 6 7 175 280/405mm 12mm Optional Magnetic, removable dust filters

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 2 6 6 7 175 265/410mm 13mm

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 3 0 8 7 165 320 15mm

ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX 4 1 5 7 165 275 6mm

None

None

Removable magnetic dust filter, red LED-lit fan

External hot-swap 3.5in hard disk mount, slimline optical mount 1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120mm/140mm roof, 2 x 120/140mm left side, 1 x 120mm floor, 2 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 120mm front Top, front, floor, PSU Variable speed

1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120/140mm roof, 1 x 80/120mm left side, 1 x 120mm left side, 1 x 120mm floor, 1 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear

1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120/140mm roof, 1 x 120/140mm left side, 1 x 120mm floor, 1 x 140mm front, 1 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear, 1 x 140mm roof, 1 x 140mm front Front, floor, PSU Variable speed

1 x 120mm rear, 2 x 120/140mm roof, 1 x 120/140mm left side, 1 x 120mm floor, 2 x 120mm front 1 x 120mm rear

1 x 80/120mm rear, 2 x 120mm roof, 1 x 120mm floor, 1 x 120mm front

1 x 120mm front

Front, roof, PSU, side

None

Front, roof, floor, PSU

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STOCK COOLING
CPU delta T

STOCK COOLING
GPU delta T

Antec One

48°C

Antec Three Hundred Two

34°C

Fractal Design Core 3000

48°C

Antec One

35°C

NZXT Source 210

48°C

Fractal Design Core 3000

35°C

Antec Three Hundred Two

50°C

NZXT Source 210

35°C

Enermax Ostrog

52°C

Xigmatek Midgard II

36°C

Corsair Carbide 200R

54°C

Cooler Master Elite 431

39°C

Xigmatek Midgard II

54°C

Enermax Ostrog

39°C

BitFenix Shinobi

57°C

SilverStone RL01

41°C

SilverStone RL01

60°C

Corsair Carbide 200R

42°C

Cooler Master Elite 431 0 20 40

64°C 60 80

BitFenix Shinobi 0 10 20 30

44°C 40 50

UPGRADED COOLING (2 X EXTRA 120MM FANS)
CPU delta T

UPGRADED COOLING (2 X EXTRA 120MM FANS)
GPU delta T

Fractal Design Core 3000

45°C

Antec Three Hundred Two

32°C

Antec One

46°C

Antec One

33°C

Corsair Carbide 200R

47°C

Fractal Design Core 3000

33°C

NZXT Source 210

47°C

NZXT Source 210

34°C

SilverStone RL01

47°C

Xigmatek Midgard II

34°C

Xigmatek Midgard II

47°C

Cooler Master Elite 431

35°C

Enermax Ostrog

48°C

Corsair Carbide 200R

35°C

Antec Three Hundred Two

49°C

SilverStone RL01

36°C

Cooler Master Elite 431

51°C

Enermax Ostrog

37°C

BitFenix Shinobi 0 10 20 30 40

54°C 50 60

BitFenix Shinobi 0 10 20 30

40°C 40

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GRUMPYGAMER 82 PressReset FARCRY3 84 Thecryinggame

KAIRO 88 Fair-dohs SIMCITY 90 Don’tneed roads DEVPERSPECTIVE 92 Smokeand mirrors THEENGINEROOM 93 Avalanche
82

86 007LEGENDS YourEyesOnline
HOTLINEMIAMI 87 BanthisFilth

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Combiningbothturn-basedandrealtimestrategyelements,Kalypso’sCityof Gangstersfeelslikeaworthytributeto theclassicswhenitasksyoutoplotthe riseofamobbossinthemiddleof prohibition-eraAmerica.Throughout thecourseofthegameyou’llbuild speakeasies,plotprisonbreaksandeven stormpoliceheadquarterspersonally. Wetookalookatthegameearlierthis monthandit’sshapingupasnicelyasthe boxart,asyoucanseeinthisexclusive lookatthelatter.

Omerta: City of Gangsters

custom pc EX

CLUSIVE IMAG E

Readers’ Night Wed, 19 December, 9 till late
Theplace OurCounter-Strike:Sourceserver Whatyouneed Anup-to-dateCounter-Strike: Sourceinstallation GAMESERVERIPADDRESSES 32-playerBC2 85.236.101.22:16667 32-playerCS:Source 85.236.101.24:37015 FINDUSONSTEAM Publicgroup http://steamcommunity.com/groups/ CustomPC ModernWarfare2 http://steamcommunity.com/ groups/CustomWarfare2

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GAMING

BACK TO LEVEL ONE

W

Single-player games can be fun to play with friends too. Joe Martin remembers the games that got him started

hen I was in primary school, I used to love rainy of passion about computer games that I’ve been chasing ever since. days. Other kids used to pray for sunshine or snow, A few years later, I played The Secret of Monkey Island with my so they could play football or build igloos, but I brother; as a teenager I’d sit on the school bus and debate routes always wanted to stay in the classroom. We had a through Deus Ex with my pals. As an adult I’m here, talking to you. BBC Micro in the corner and, when it rained, I could usually convince Games have changed a lot since those halcyon days. Nowadays the teacher to let us stay inside and play with that, rather than when we talk about ‘social games’, we imagine manipulative clickrunning around the playground. fests such as Farmville, while ‘multiplayer games’ means Call of I wasn’t alone. There was a group of five of us – all boys, all DutyorBattlefield3–gamesthatfacilitateverydifferentcommunities football-phobes – and we used to love that and stories. And as for MMOs, well, where BBC Micro. There was one game in do I start? particular we liked: Martello Towers. It was There’snothingwrongwithmultiplayer EVEN ON THE SUNNY awful. It was a text adventure laced with shootersandMMORPGs,ofcourse.Inmany DAYS WHEN WE WERE educational puzzles and a failed sense of ways,thosegamesarethebestwe’veever FORCED TO GO OUTSIDE made,andtoevenimplythattheyshouldbe mystery and, because we never finished it at the time, I grabbed some emulators a few LIKE NORMAL LITTLE BOYS, wipedoutinfavourofold-schooltext years ago and gave it another try. I bested it adventureswouldbesurefirefolly. WE’D SPEND PLAYTIME in under an hour and it was terrible. WhatIwouldsayfrommyown Maybe I even knew that back then, but if PONDERING THE RIDDLE experience,though,isthatthere’salotto I did then it didn’t matter; what mattered besaidforbackseatgaming,andsingleOF THE TRIANGULAR HATS playergamingdoesn’thavetobeinterpreted was that I was with my friends and we were inside, where we wanted to be. asalonelyexperience. One of us would be taking notes as we played, another would be at Infact,thenexttimeyou’resittingdowntoplayanewgamethat the keyboard entering commands and the others would be talking you’vejustbought,I’durgeyoutoinviteafriendover.Getinsome about the puzzles we faced. Should we go to the basement now or beers,pullupanextrachairandjustseeifplayingthesingle-player later? What would we do if a guard found us before we solved the gametogethercanprovetobeamoresocialandcooperative Magic Rose? experiencethanyouexpect. Even on the sunny days when we were forced to go outside like normal little boys, we’d sit and spend playtime pondering the riddle WHAT I’M PLAYING Honestly?Imightneverstopplaying of the triangular hats and other puzzles. It may have been an awful Dishonored,ever. Joetweets@JoeThreepwood game, but it was a fantastic experience; one that informed a lifetime

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FAR CRY 3
Sprawling, layered shooter hybrid

Welcome back to the jungle
HUNTER

U

HUNTED Poor interface design

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price£29.99incVAT PublisherUbisoft DeveloperUbisoft Website www.far-cry.ubi.com

bisoft’sFarCry2,hasgonedown inhistoryasagameyou’lleither loveorloathe,andFarCry3is nodifferent.There’sbeena smatteringofimprovementsbut,when balancedoutagainstsomeoftheweaker introductions,it’smostlyazero-sumgame comparedwiththeimmediatepredecessor. Whichisn’ttoimplythatFarCry3isaclonein anythingbutathematicsense,however.Infact,most oftherecognisableelementsoftheforebearhave beendiscarded.Theplotiscompletelyseparate fromthepreviousgames,forexample,castingyou as an American tourist who is captured by pirates, asanAmericantouristwhoiscapturedbypirates, but then escapes and is forced to go on the offensive butthenescapesandisforcedtogoontheoffensive in order to free his friends. This in turn means inordertofreehisfriends.Thisinturnmeans hooking up with the indigenous tribe of the islands on hookingupwiththeindigenoustribeoftheislandson which you’re playing, adopting their form of bushido whichyou’replaying,adoptingtheirformofbushido and defending them from the pirate threat. anddefendingthemfromthepiratethreat. In return, the native Rakyat bestows on you all the Inreturn,thenativeRakyatbestowsonyouallthe major mechanics of the game – the skill tree is majormechanicsofthegame–theskilltreeis presented as a network of tribal war tattoos, and presentedasanetworkoftribalwartattoos,and you’re quickly taught how to scavenge for supplies, you’requicklytaughthowtoscavengeforsupplies, mix your own medicines and so on. Hunting animals mixyourownmedicinesandsoon.Huntinganimals and rare herbs therefore becomes a big part of the andrareherbsthereforebecomesabigpartofthe

gameforthefirsttimeintheseries,letting youcraftholstersandupgradesforyour gearinasystemthatworkswellonceyou overlookafewincongruities.Progressis gatedsothatyouneedthehidesofspecific animalsforspecificitems,forexample, whilecorpseswillbeleftwiththeirskinstill intact,evenaftersupposedevisceration. Besidestheselittleroadblocksoverwhatyoucan unlockatwhatpoint,though,FarCry3isotherwise anastonishinglyopenshooter,andtheRookIslands arefullofcollectiblesandsidemissionstohunt down.Fast-travelletsyouskiparoundtoliberated camps, which are camps,whichare thankfully devoid of thankfullydevoidof the respawning foes therespawningfoes that made Far Cry 2 thatmadeFarCry2 such a chore, but we suchachore,butwe personally prefer to personallypreferto travel by foot, travelbyfoot,

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REVIEW

THE CRYING GAME

wheel,hullorwing.Ubisofthasprovided Stealth now works in the way you’d Stealthnowworksinthewayyou’d expect, while combat is no longer foreachofthese. expect,whilecombatisnolonger forced into a staccato rhythm by forcing Whilethelushenvironmentsandnew forcedintoastaccatorhythmbyforcing you to stop and un-jam weapons. craftingmechanicsareworthyadditions, youtostopandun-jamweapons. Instead, fights are glorious FarCry3’sinterfaceoftenleavesmuchtobe Instead,fightsareglorious desired,mainlybecauseittriestoforceso eventsofeitherplanned muchinformationonyouatonce.There’s subtletyorcareless,almost aHandbookthattracksinformationand majesticchaos.Wantto quests,amapthat’sweirdlyuselessuntilyou sneakin,taggingenemies with your camera and taking disablethepirates’radiojammers,awhole withyourcameraandtaking them down with a bow? You can. seriesoftutorialsandstoryguides,plusyour themdownwithabow?Youcan. Prefer to force a pack of tigers into inventoryandskillsystem.Eachoftheseis Prefertoforceapackoftigersinto an enemy base or charge in with a badlydesignedconsideringtheamountof anenemybaseorchargeinwitha flamethrower? That’s good too. timeyou’llspendinthem,andtheHUDisn’t flamethrower?That’sgoodtoo. The sheer scale of Far Cry 3 does muchbettereither.We’reespeciallysadto ThesheerscaleofFarCry3does mean that you occasionally trip over seeyoucan’tdrivecarswithamapinyour meanthatyouoccasionallytripover creases, such as repetitive dialogue, lapanymoretoo. creases,suchasrepetitivedialogue, but it’s important to keep a Whatmakestheissueswith butit’simportanttokeepa sense of perspective. This theinterfacesonoticeable senseofperspective.This is a huge game and the though–beyondthefactthat isahugegameandthe production is top-notch for you’llspendagescustomising productionistop-notchfor the most part; its few flaws yourweaponsandcollecting themostpart;itsfewflaws may hold it back from mustpelts–isthatUbisofthas mayholditbackfrommustplay greatness, but only just. ironedoutmostofthelarger playgreatness,butonlyjust. OVERALL JOE MARTIN issuesthataffectedFarCry2.

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Single-playerisn’ttheonlypartofFar Cry3tobeexpandedwithnewfeatures –there’sthemultiplayersidetoo,which hasbeenheavilyupdatedfollowingits hit-and-misssuccessinFarCry2. Competitively,thebiggestchanges arenodstotheclassicCallofDuty formula.There’sanoverarchinglevel system,meaningthatyoucanunlock newweaponsandskillsasyou progress,andsetupprofilestosuityour style.Itseemsoddforthepower-ups– inwhat’sreallyagameofguerrilla tacticsandintenseraids–toinclude helicoptersupportandsoon,butthe biggerproblemisthesystems’familiar feel.Evenwiththemoreunusualperks, suchasnervegasthatprevents enemiesfromdistinguishingfriends andfoes,multiplayerdoesn’tfeel hugelydifferentfromthestandardfare. Thebigexpansionstothemultiplayer sidecomeelsewhere,though,suchas intechnicalimprovementstothemap editorthat’sincludedwiththegame. FarCry3usesanupdatedversionofthe DuniaengineandtheeditorfromFar Cry2,addingnewenvironmentshaping tools for creating levels with shapingtoolsforcreatinglevelswith more tropical terrain. The level editor moretropicalterrain.Theleveleditor doesn’t constitute a proper set of doesn’tconstituteapropersetof mod tools, however – it works on modtools,however–itworkson consoles too, if that hints at the consolestoo,ifthathintsatthe complexity on offer. complexityonoffer. The co-op mode forms Theco-opmodeforms the main bulk of the themainbulkofthe multiplayer portion, multiplayerportion, however. It has its own however.Ithasitsown storyline, with four new storyline,withfournew characters seeking revenge charactersseekingrevenge after a cruise-ship captain afteracruise-shipcaptain sells them out. Again, you can sellsthemout.Again,youcan wade through the usual loadwadethroughtheusualloadout customisation, but what outcustomisation,butwhat matters the most is that mattersthemostisthat missions aren’t limited to missionsaren’tlimitedto taking place in re-jigged takingplaceinre-jigged single-player areas, and single-playerareas,and there’s more than just wave there’smorethanjustwave defence objectives on offer; defenceobjectivesonoffer; there’s a whole campaign with there’sawholecampaignwith all the variation and scale allthevariationandscale that implies. thatimplies.

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Double oh-no
GOLDFINGER Functional BROWNFINGER Utterly terrible in every other regard

007 LEGENDS

F

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price£29.99incVAT PublisherActivision DeveloperEurocom Website www.007legends.com

ewexperiencesaremorefrustratingthan playingagamethathasalltherightideas,but implementstheminallthewrongways.On thatbasis,007Legendsispossiblythemost frustratinggameevercreated.Ittrieseverythingfrom stealthandRPGsystemstodrivinglevelsand QuickTimeevents(QTEs),butbodgesupeveryone. Itdoesn’thelpthatLegendsfeelslikeit’sbuiltfrom mauledoff-cuts.Eurocomhasstructureditasaseries offlashbackstoenablethegametojumparoundthe bestpartsofBond’shistory,butinreality,noneofthese isframedconsistentlyorinterestinglyenoughto warrantattention.SkyfallbleedsdullyintoGoldfinger, andtheonlyconsistentthreadisthatBondseemslike anutteridioteverywhere. Thestartofthegame,forexample,hasBond (DanielCraig)lookingdownonanupdateof Goldfinger’smilitarybaseandbeingtoldtostay undercover.Herespondsbydetonatingabombthat destroysmostofthebase,thensuddenlyyou’rein controlandrunningthroughtheexplosionswithno explanation.Fiveminuteslater,Goldfingerandco seemsurprisedtoseeyou.It’sdisjointedtothepoint ofdiscomfort,evenifyou’veseenGoldfingerrecently. ThisisallbeforeyougettothefactthatLegendsis borderlineunplayablethankstotheterriblecontrols, withmini-gamesusingrandomkeys,andmenus withoutmousecontrol.Theweaponsarewimpier thanspit-balls,theenemieslackconsistentlocation damageandBondabsorbssomuchdamagethatwe tookout50armedgoonswithjustthebuttofhispistol. Theproblemsneverstopstackingup. It’suglyaswell,toalevelwherethegameplayis listoferrors,includingtheinconsistentpaceand underminedbyhowharditistonoticetheparades intrusionofQTEs;noareaisbeyondreproach.Theonly ofidenticalfoesagainsttheuniversallydrab pluspointisthatithasenoughcontenttofeedthefans, environments.Nomatterwhichresolutionyouuse, andit’sfunctionalenoughforthosewhopersevere. thescreenlookslikeit’sbeenslatheredingrease, Whichisatragedy,really.Onpaper,Legendshas andEurocom’sinterfacemakeslittleornosense. allthehallmarksofagreatspygame,andwereally Yourhealthandarmourarepresented wantedtolikeitintherun-uptorelease– similarlytoGoldenEye64’s–exceptthe thescore-basedchallengemissionsand coloursarechangedsothatyoucan’t heapsofunlockablecontentinparticular easilyreaditataglance,andit’sleft soundedgreat.Inpractice,though, unlabelledsoyoudon’tknowwhichbar Legendsissoshallowanddullthatit’s iswhich.Baffling. almostunbelievablesomuchmoney It’samess,andwe’veonlyscratched wasinvestedinproducingit. OVERALL JOE MARTIN thesurface.Ournotesreadlikeahuge

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REVIEW

Play angry
MIAMI Fast; furious; curious VICE Missing basic options; buggy

HOTLINE MIAMI
fyoujudgeHotlineMiamibythescreenshots, youmightthinkit’salow-fi,super-violenttopdownactiongame.You’dberight,butit’smore thanthat.It’sdeeper,darkerandangrier. It’sbesttothinkofHotlineMiamiasamusicgame, andnotjustbecauseofthepulsingchiptunesand garishbrightlights,butalsothegameplay.It’sall aboutrhythm;youenterahouseandimmediately startchargingaround,punchingenemiesandgorily splatteringthemacrossthepixel-artcanvaswith worryingabandon.One-two,one-twoandsoon. Whenyougettherhythmright,it’slikeplaying vision.It’satwitch-basedshooterinwhichmastering GuitarHeroandnevermissinganote,butninetimes thesmallsetofcontrolsisvitaltosuccess;thismakes outoften,it’slikeplayingapianowhilewearing theinabilityaltermousesensitivityorrebindkeysa mittens.Youdie,youdie,youdie,youmanagetokill pain.Likewise,it’sincrediblydifficulttoconquer, twoguysandthinkyou’redoingwell,andthenyoudie. makingyouearneverystep,butitdoesn’tpreserve ThismasochisticroutinedefinesHotlineMiami,and yourprogressandthereforeforcesrepetition. it’smadeevenscarierbythesensethatthegameis Thebiggestproblemistheenemydesign.Youcould acaricaturisedreflectionoftherealworld.Inthis seeHotlineMiamiasastrategygamewhereyouplan warpedworld,aphonecallcandriveyoutoslaughter, everystageindetail.Whowillyouknockdownwhen androoster-maskedmenhauntyourdreams. youkickopenthedoor?Willyouthrowyourknifeatthe ‘Doyoulikehurtingpeople?’theroosterasksatthe machinegunnerinthedistance,orkeepittotacklethe start.Theanswerisimplicitintheblood-soakedlevels dogatyourankles?Thesequestionsdominatethe anddiscardedweapons.Theseasick-swayingofthe experience,sothegameneedstobepredictablefor cameraagainstthedisco-lightbackgroundtellsa themtowork.Itisn’t.Enemiesveeroffpaths,weapons moreimplicitstory.Thisisprobablywhattheworld randomiseandbugsappear.It’sapain. looksliketoaserialkiller;FrancisDolarhydemeets However,onapragmaticlevel,theseflawsareat FrozenSynapse. leasttemperedbythelowpriceandretro It’sfast,brutal,brilliantanddeeply feel.HotlineMiami’srealredemption disturbinginawaythattakesagesto liesinitsdepthandcomplexity.It’sa appreciate.It’sagamethatyoushouldn’t deeplylayered,fascinatingand wanttoexist,butcan’thelpenjoyplaying. uncompromisinggamethat’sworth However,onamorepracticallevel, playingeveninspiteofoccasionalissues. HotlineMiamiisbynomeansgreatif Itisn’tperfect;it’sglorious. OVERALL JOE MARTIN youseparateitfromthisgrand,warped

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price£6.99incVAT PublisherDevolverDigital DeveloperDennaton Games Websitehttp:// hotlinemiami.com

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REVIEW

KAIRO

Walk like an encryption
JUST DESSERTS Pretty architecture JUST DESERTS Dull; puzzles lack narrative structure
t’shardtobaseagamearoundtheconceptof emptinessbecause,byitsverynature,it’sa littlecontradictory.Thegamesthatbest explorevastemptinessarealsopackedwith contentinotherplaces,suchasSTALKERorDear Esther,tomaketheemptinessvisibleandinteresting. Unfortunately,though,Kairotriestoemphasise emptinesswithouthavingenoughstructuretomake thatemphasisworthwhile.Itpresentsaseriesof architecturallyinterestingenvironmentsandsimple puzzles,butnothingelse.Theeffectissupposedto beintriguingandhaunting,butitendsuponlybeing soporific.TheemptinessKairopresentsisultimately isJapanesefor‘circuit’andrepairingbroken prettyboring. electronicsiscertainlythethemeofmostofthe Andifsayingallthatdoesn’treallygiveyouafeelfor puzzles,butwithoutanynarrativeormotive Kairo,wesympathise,butthat’sbecauseKairoreally consistencythepuzzlesfeelstand-aloneand isn’tmuchinparticular.There’slittlemoretoitthan undirected.Oneroom’spuzzleisbasedaroundan roomsandeasy,self-containedpuzzles.There’sno alienorrery,whilethenexthasafloorblanketedin explicitstorytofollow,nospecificinnovationtoprompt buttons,andthencomesaseriesofmonolithsthat interactions;justthestylisationandsimplicity. onlyformwhenyoustandinacertainplace. Ofcourse,noteverygameneedsagravity-flipping Confusingly,noneofthesecriticismsmakesKairo mechanicoranepicplot,butthelargevarietyof explicitlybadinthesamewayas007Legends(see gamesalreadyavailablemeansyouneedareasonto p86), it’sjustaflatandmostlytediousexperience. lookatoneinparticular.Itcanbeartisticnavel-gazery Somepeoplewillundoubtedlypeoplefindthemselves orpuerileentertainment,butthatreasonneedsto sweptupinanesotericsenseofmysterybut,equally exist,anditdoesn’tinKairo.Thegamedoesn’tfeel undoubtedly,manypeoplewon’t. likeitsaysanythingwithitsemptiness,anditisn’t Despiteitsambitions,Kairoisn’tSTALKERorDear entertainingonitsown.It’sjustthereforthesakeofit. Esther;itdoesn’tchallengeyoutounderstanditor Thentherearethepuzzles,whichare evenmakeitclearthatthere’sanythingto mostlyprettyeasy;theonlymomentsof understand.Itmerelyoffersaselectionof difficultyarisefromtheabstract sometimes-prettyroomscontaining environmentssometimesmakingithard buttonsforyoutopush.Thismaysound toknowwhattodo.Overcomingthese facile,butit’sthegenuinefinalimpression hiccupsneverfeltlikefun.Thepuzzles weformedaboutthegameregardless.It’s don’tseemtocontributetoanarrativeor styleoversubstance. OVERALL JOE MARTIN consistentdesigneither.Theword‘Kairo’

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price£8.99incVAT PublisherIndependent DeveloperLockedDoor Puzzle Websitehttp://kairo. lockeddoorpuzzle.com

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ATHLETE
© Enermax 2012. All rights reserved. All trademarks are property of the respective proprietors. Reserve changes without prior announcement.

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TRIATHLOR & TRIATHLOR FC THE NEW LONG RUNNERS
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PREVIEW

People in GlassBoxes shouldn’t throw stones

SIMCITY

T

THE KNOWLEDGE
PublisherElectronicArts DeveloperFiraxis Webwww.simcity.com ReleasedateMarch2013

henewSimCityislikeaPlaymobilset.No, wait,it’slikeasandwich.Actually,it’smore likeconsumeristnihilism.Ormaybeit’sall ofthesedescriptionsmergedintoone,and we’llhavetobreakitaparttoexplainitproperly. It’seasiesttostartwiththePlaymobilpart, becauseSimCityhasalwaysbeenmoreofatoythan agame,andthelatestversion,whichusesthenew GlassBoxengine,merelytakesthatideatoitsvisual conclusion.Trytoplaceabuildingand,insteadof placingatranslucentmarkerontothegrid,youhave todragaphysicalmodeloftheendproduct.Movethe cursortooquicklyanditevenleansinthedirectionof movement,givingaconvincingimpressionofweight whilethetoy-car-trafficwhizzesinthebackground. Theinterfacehasatoy-likelooktoo.It’scleanand simplistic,withthepreviousgraphsanddatafields seeminglyreplacedbychrome-lookicons.It’sso simplethatachildcoulduseit.However,thatisn’tto diminishthecomplexityofthegameatallbecause, basically,SimCityislikeareallygoodsandwich,with thetoy-likeexterioractingasthebread. Thebreadisallyouseeatfirst,buttakeabiteand yougetatasteofallthelayersbeneath.Literally,as SimCity’sothervisualinnovationwastoremovemost ofthegraphsandreplacethemwithvisual representationsthatarelayeredoveryourmap. Muchofthisiscontext-sensitivetoo,soifyouclick onapowerplant,youcanseearepresentationofthe

energyoutput–withelectricitypulsingoutalongthe powerlinesandheadingtoindividualhomessoyou canseethelocationsandcausesofshortages.Click onapolicecar,meanwhile,andyou’llseeacolourcodedviewofitsawarenesszones,whileclickingon ahousewillshowyouthehappinessoftheresidents. Thelatterisparticularlyinteresting,sinceoneway tointerpretSimCityistolookatitasastatementin supportofconsumeristnihilism.There’sno endgametoSimCity,ofcourse,butwhatevervictory conditionyousetforyourselfwilllikelyinvolve keepingyourcitizenshappy–andwhatmakes citizenshappy?Spendingmoney,mainly.They’re alsobuoyedupbynearbyparks(andwillendupliving thereiftheybecomehomeless),butmainlyit’s spendingmoneythatbringsthemcheer. Ofcourse,happycitizensaremoreproductive, increasingtherateatwhichtheymakeandbreakthe bank.Ultimately,thecyclesaysthat,whilespending moneymakesyouhappy,italsobreedsahappiness thattakesyounowhere–consumeristnihilism. Sadly,there’snoenlightenmentdata-layerto whichyoucanbackout–no waytotellthemasses they’dbebetterofflivinginthemountainsas farmers.That’sgoodtoo;whileSimCitymaybea philosophicalPlaymobilsandwich,it’salsoagamein whichyouneedhappycitizenstomoveforwardsand onethatwe’llbewatchingwithinterest.
JOE MARTIN

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Cliff Harris

Smoke and mirrors – why game devs struggle with playing games
S
ometimeswhenI’mreadingInternet theirmotivation,ortheirloveofgames. becausehe’sfiveyearsolderthanme.Inother discussionsaboutSteamsales,Ifeel Fearnot–I’mnotabouttoconfessto ways,we’reidentical.Or,tobemoreprecise, likeI’minaparalleluniverse.Every hatinggamesorbeingboredwiththem.I I’mgoingtocomparemyselftoNeoinThe otherpostisavariationof‘mywalletis stillconsidermyselfagamer,andwilldefend Matrix.Onlyhalf-seriously,Imightadd. goingtohateme,’or‘mybacklogisabout30 my‘hobby’aswellasmyjob,toanyoneand TheveryendsceneinTheMatrix(the gamesnow’and‘lastsaleIbought25games!’ everyone.No,themainreasonformylack original,notthehideouslydisappointing Ofcourse,Iknowthesubsetofpeoplewho ofgamingpurchasesissimple:mostnew sequels),showsthatNeocanlookaround discussthisonlineisasmallfractionofthe gamesfrustrate,boreorirritatemeina hisworldandseetheMatrix,ratherthanthe generalpopulationofgamers.Butevenso, varietyofways,andit’salmostcertainly simulationeveryoneelsecansee.That’slike I’macutelyawareofavastgroupplayinga nothingtodowiththeactualqualityofthe aglossy,highlypolishedHollywoodisationof lotmoregamesthanme,despitethefact games.Youdon’tsellamillioncopiesofa therealityofbeingagameprogrammerwho thatInotonlyworkintheindustry,andcan gamewithoutithavingatleastadegreeof isalsoagamedesigner. thereforeputallmygamingpurchaseson goodquality,sowhyamInotbuyingthelatest Whenyou’reaprogrammer,youdon’t expenses(ohyes!),butamalsoa ‘literally’seecodewhenyouplaya passionategamer.Ishouldbeinthe game(althoughthatcouldbecool), IN THE END SCENE IN THE MATRIX, butyourecogniseitallovertheplace. top10percentofgamebuyersand players,not(asIsuspect)closertothe NEO CAN LOOK AROUND AND SEE Inmycase,itusuallymakesits bottom10percent. THE MATRIX, RATHER THAN THE presencefeltintheAI,butI’dimagine Howcanagamedesignerand thathardcoregraphicscodersare SIMULATION EVERYONE ELSE SEES farmoresensitivetodistantobjects programmerbuyandenjoyfewer gamesthantheaveragegamer?It’s poppingup,orshiftingbetweenLOD CallofDuty,adventuregameorRTS? morecommonthanyoumightthink,although versions.I’dalsoimaginethatsound Right,I’mabouttocomparemyselfto fewgamedesigners,especiallythe‘known’ programmersareacutelyawareofhowthe KeanuReeves.Thismightbeamusingif ones,willadmittoitpublicly.Nobodywantsto footstepsneversoundright(still!),andthat you’vemetme,becauseyouwouldbeaware admittobeinganythingotherthanahardcore networkprogrammerscringewhenthey thatouraccentsdiffer.Isay‘dude’significantly gamerwhospendseverywakinghourplaying detectrubber-bandingissuestoosubtleto less,andIamofcoursebetter-looking,maybe games,incasetheiraudienceworriesabout riletheaverageplayer.

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InDishonored,you’resupposedtofreezeifsomeonewalkspastintheshadows,butAI codersknowthegamecan’ttrackyourfieldofview,soyoucanswingthemouseanyway

There’sagameontopofallthis,butthisisGratuitousTankBattlesasCliffseesit–in debugmode

Abigpartofyourjobasacoderistospot thenextroom,predictingwhereyou’llgonext andit’sknowledgethatcanruinalotofgames what’swrong,unrealistic,toopredictableor andpopulatingthatareawithNPCs,while foryou.It’snoaccidentthatthegamegenreI artificial-looking,andtofixitsothattheplayer silentlydeletingonesthatwerebehindyou. playthemost(multiplayerFPS)isthegenre doesn’tnotice.Thismeanswe’reconstantly Underthehood,gamesaretheequivalentof I’veneverworkedon.IcanplayanFPSwithout alertwhenplayingagameforany‘glitchinthe ahandfulofactorsrunningaroundthebackof scoffingatitsgraphicsengineorlamentingits Matrix’.Inagamewedidn’tdevelopanddon’t thesetandputtingonanewhattoconveythe AI,andappreciateassomeoneimmersedin havetofix,italsomeanswefinditveryhardto impressionofavastcast.Nothingisasit aworld,takingthatsituationtobe‘real’and ‘switchoff’andrealisethisissomeoneelse’s seems;it’sallthrowntogether. treatingitasanadventure,ratherthana problem.Wecanrelaxandhavefun,but Nowimaginethat,suddenly,inthesame systemtobedebuggedandanalysed. unlessyouspendmoretimegamingthan wayNeofindsouthisworldisasimulation, Thecurseisespeciallyirritatingbecause working(andfewpeopleintheindustry oneofthemotivationsformaking canreallyclaimthisistrue),then SOMETIMES WE REUSE SCENERY originalgamesisthefrustrationofnot you’reprobablymoreconditionedto havingthegamesyouwanttoplay. You FROM ANOTHER LEVEL, BUT playin‘debugmode’than‘funmode’. workyourfingerstothebonetomake Whatmakesmattersworseis one,andthenrealiseyoucannever CHANGE THE COLOUR TINT SO thatthevastmajorityofgamesare appreciateitinthesamewaythatyour YOU WON’T NOTICE programmedinawaythat’slittlemore playersdo.WhenIplayGratuitous thansmokeandmirrors.I’vewritten SpaceBattles,Imentallyseeitin thatyoucansuddenlyperceiveallthatasyou aboutthisbefore,butit’ssufficienttosaythat wireframe,asaseriesofcohabitingsystems playagame.There’snomoreguesswork wecoders‘cheat’alot.Sometimesweknow competingforGPU/CPUtimetooptimisethe andworkingoutwhetheryoucansneakpast youwon’tseeatextureforverylong,sowe rendering.There’sagameontopofallthat, characterX,becauseyouknowtheexact usealowres-version;sometimesweknow butIfindithardtopullbackandseeitlikethat. parametersfedintothatscript.WhenIplay peoplewon’taskwherethatnon-player Sodespitehavinggod-likepowersandcool Dishonored,Itryhardtotellmyselfthatif character(NPC)camefromwhenthereisn’t sunglasses,wecanprobablyconcludethat,at someonewalkspastmewhenI’minthe adoordownthatcorridor,sowejust‘pop’him leastonsomelevel,theMatrixreallydidannoy shadows,Ineedtofreezeinplace,butIknow orherintoexistence.Sometimeswereuse Neo.Despitethekungfu. asanAIcoderthatArkanehasn’tcodedan sceneryfromanotherlevel,butchangethe effectthattrackstheplayer’sfieldofview,soI colourtintsoyouwon’tnotice.Butwecoders canswingthemouseasmuchasIwant.Asa donotice.Wenoticeitall. player,Imightpanicthatblowingoutacandle Whenyouplayagame,it’slikewalking istheone-mancoding mightcauseasmellthatalertstheguarddog. throughawonderful,realisticworldthat’s wizardbehindPositech Asaprogrammer,Iknowitwon’t. immersive,completeandbelievable. Games(www.positech. Ineffect,asaprogrammerordesigner, However,you’reeffectivelysurroundedby co.uk),thedeveloperofGratuitousTank you’regivenneargod-likeabilitiestoseethe atinyarmyoflittlecode-elvesbodgingparts Battles worldinitstrueform,ratherthantheworld togetheroff-camera.Theirjobsinclude theplayerisdesignedtosee.Onceyouhave unloadingimagesfrommemoryonceyou @cliffski thisknowledge,it’sextremelyhardtolose, leavethatroom,loadinginnewtexturesfor

CLIFF HARRIS

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Rick Lane
The heart of Just Cause 2’s epic 400-square-mile landscape, Avalanche uses fractals to procedurally generate terrain

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herearemanybiggerenginesthan Avalanche,butnoengine‘does’big quitelikeAvalanche.Thepower behindRenegadeOps,TheHunter andtheJustCauseseries,Avalancheis capableofcrankingout3Denvironments onatrulycolossalscale.Sprawlingforests, hugemountainranges,idyllicisland archipelagos,vastdesertsandtowering cityscapescanberenderedoverliterally hundredsofsquaremiles,while simultaneouslyensuringyourPCis decidedlynotonfire. ThestoryofAvalancheStudiosandits eponymousenginebeganintheprimordial daysofcomputergaming.In1981,Acorn teamedupwiththeBBCtoreleasetheBBC Micro,intendedtoeducatechildrenin programmingandcomputerliteracyinthe UK.Onesuchcomputermadeitswayto Sweden,andthehomeofLinusBlomberg, whowouldintimebecometheco-founder ofAvalancheStudios.TheMicro’sgaming capabilitieswereprettyrudimentary,and Blombergfoundhepreferredtweakingcode andcreatinggamestoactuallyplayingthem. Then,in1984,theMicrobecamehosttoa littlegamecalledElite. ‘Itwastotallydifferentfromanythingelse I’deverseen,’saysBlomberg.‘Especiallyin thatera,gameswerelikesimpleplatform games,andallofasudden,herewasahuge epicgamewith8,000planetsineight galaxies,anditwasjustenormous.That wasin32KBontheBBCMicro,andIwas like“howthehelldidtheydothis?”’ ThesheersizeandscopeofElite, comparedtothepowerofthehardwarethat ranit,stuckwithBlombergthroughhistime asaprogrammeratParadox,beforesetting upAvalancheStudiosin2003alongwith ChristoferSundberg.Blombergtookhis fascinationwithEliteandgaveitground, reapplyingtheideaofvastspacesthat

Avalanchecan renderenormous environmentsvertically aswellashorizontally

pushedthelimitsofhardwaretogamesin whichtheprioritywaslandscapes. ‘You’dthinkwithhardwarethat’smany thousandsoftimesfasterthanbackthen, thatyouwouldbeabletorelaxabitmoreand notthinkaboutperformanceandsuch,but that’sactuallynottrue,’hesays.‘Youcan neverstopbeingsmartifyouwanttobeon thecuttingedge,becausetherearealways waysyoucanusethishardwaretoproduce biggerandgreatergames.’

numberofassetsisdowntoprocedural generationtechnologydevelopedbythe companythroughoutthepastdecade. Thisisachievedusingfractals–selfsimilarpatternsthatcanbesubdividedto createmoreandmorecomplexstructures. Forexample,asimpleshapesuchasa trianglecanbesubdividedoverandoverto formassetssuchasameshoutlinefora gamecharacter.Manynaturalphenomena suchasmountainrangesexhibitproperties thatcanbeaccuratelymodelled THE SHEER SIZE AND SCOPE OF usingfractals,makingthemapt forprocedurallygenerating ELITE, COMPARED TO THE terrain.Thisenablesdevelopers tocreatenatural-looking POWER OF THE HARDWARE landscapesusingafractionof THAT RAN IT, STUCK WITH thememoryusuallyrequiredto BLOMBERG AS A PROGRAMMER storesuchinformationwhen designedmanually. Togiveanindicationofthescalethat ‘Tous,it’sreallyaphilosophy,anditcomes Avalanchecanachieve,thelandmassofJust downtoeverythingwedointheengine,’says Cause2isapproximately400squaremilesin Blomberg.‘Forinstance,ifthedesignersask size.Bethesda’sSkyrim,meanwhile,clocks forasystemthatcanhandle20AIvehicles, inatapuny16squaremiles.Blombergalso weaskourselveshowwewoulddesigna informsmethatJustCause2’sislandsare systemthatcanhandle20,000AIvehicles.’ coveredbyaroundtenmilliontrees. Suchaseeminglyastronomicaltaskforces Avalanche’sabilitytocreatethisenormous thedevelopmentteamtothinkcreatively.

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‘That’showwefindsolutionsthataremuch morescalable.Eventhoughwemightnot useallofthatcapability,westillhaveavery scalablesystem.’ Theothermajoradvantageofprocedural generationisthatitsignificantlyreducesthe amountoftimeandmoneyneededtocreate environments.Thatsaid,therearesome limitations.Cityscapesarefarharderto developprocedurally,ironicallyduetotheir naturallyartificialconstruction.Avalanche canprocedurallygeneratelimitedaspects ofcityscapesasitstands,andtheteamhas createdamuchmorepowerfulgeneration tool,butithasn’tyetbeenmadecommercial. Creatingthispowerfultechnologyalso presentsitsownproblems,specifically regardingthesizeoftheworldsthestudio enjoysbuilding.‘Therewereperiodsinthe developmentofJustCause2whereitcould take48hoursforafullexportoftheworld,’ explainsBlomberg.‘Soanartistmighthave updatedsometextures,buttheycouldn’t thenseeitin-gameuntil48hourslater. Obviously,thatdoesn’tworkrealwell.’ Iftheenginehasaweaklink,however, it’sphysicsintegration.Likemanyengines, AvalancheusesHavokmiddlewarefor physics,butitsgameslackeithertheweight ofCryENGINEorthetightnessofSource. Blombergexplainsthatthisisn’tstrictlya technicalissue,butlikesomuchelsewith Avalanche,thecauseistheteam’semphasis onscale.‘Ifyouhaveover100different vehiclesthatallshouldbehandling differently,thenthefocusbecomesvariety.’ There’salsoaflipsidetothis:ifAvalanche sportedmorerealisticphysics,manyofthe moreabsurdactivitiesthatmakeitsgames suchariotmightnotbepresent.Agood exampleisAvalanche’suniquegrappling hooktechnologyinbothJustCausegames. Combinedwithaparachute,thegame’s protagonistRicoRodriguezcanessentially catapulthimselfvastdistancesoverthe game’senormousmaps.Thegrapplinghook wasn’toriginallyintendedtobeafeatureof thosegames,butinsteademergedfrom playingwiththeengine’ssystems. ‘Oneofourprogrammerswasjustfiddling aroundwithsomeideasintheengineone night,andhecameupwiththisideathathe

ANALYSIS

Unlikethelandscapes,thecitiesinJust Cause2weremostlybuiltbyhand

ThemountainsinJustCause2areall procedurallygeneratedusingfractals

Thevarietyoflandscapesin JustCause2onfullshow

JustCause2’soceansare equallyenormous

wantedtotry,’explainsBlombergwhen recallingtheintroductionofthegrappling hooktechnology.‘Andwesaid,“Sure,have twoorthreedaystodoafirstimplementation andwe’llseehowitgoes.”Hedidthat,and wewerehooked,nopunintended.Itbecame thecentrepieceofthatgameseries.’ Asforfutureplansfortheengine, Blombergisvagueregardingthedetails. Asidefromthefactthathugelandscapesare stillverymuchafocus,andthatitwilltake advantageofthelatesthardware

innovations,hedoesn’tgivemuchaway. GivenhowAvalanchelooksinitscurrent state,however,it’sexcitingtoconsiderhow itmightmakeuseoftessellationor displacementmapping. Whateverhappens,we’llcertainlybe seeingAvalancheagain.Blomberg’steam hascreatedastunningsliceoftechnology.It doesn’tquitehavethepinpointsharpness anddetailofthealmightyCryENGINE,butin termsofthescale/fidelityratioitcanachieve, it’scurrentlyunrivalled.

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Antony Leather delves into the lustworthy world of super-premium hardware and customisation, from overclocking and water cooling, to case modding and lighting. We show you how to build a dream PC for a fraction of the cost of a ready-made machine
nadventurousexpectationsmightleadyoutothinkthata‘dreamPC’simply hasthreeorfourgraphicscardsandallthemostexpensivehardware,butwe liketousealittlemoreimagination,soourdreamPCisn’tjustaboutbunging themostexpensivegeartogetherforthesakeofit. Accordingly,we’vewater-cooledeverymajorhotspotinourPC,meaningthatit’snot onlyincrediblyquiet,butmassivelyoverclockableandamazing-lookingtoo.We’vealso customisedourcasewithacrylicpanels,whichareeasytomakeathomewithaminimum ofmoddingskills.WeemployednothingmorethanaDremel,heatgunandelectricdrill– itemsthatcostlessthan£50–tosetourdreamPCapartfromtherest. Ofcourse,adreamPCalsoneedstohaveasillyamountofpowerontaptoo.Assuch, we’vehand-pickedspecificcomponentsthatweknowcanhandletoughgamesat maximumsettings,notjustonsingle,high-resolutionmonitors,butonmultiplemonitors too.We’vealsotakenintoaccounttheneedtopowerthroughrenderingandvideo-editing tasks,whileavoidinggoingoverboardonunnecessary,wallet-bustingpurchases.

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Withoutdoubt,thefirstconsiderationyou needtotickoffyourto-dolistisyourchoiceof hardware.IfyourPCcan’tdowhatyouneed, orisn’tmuchquickerthancheaperhardware, you’llendupwastingyourtimeandmoney buildingmoreofanightmarePCthana dreamPC(seewhatwedidthere?).Withthis inmind,wefirstlookedatthebesthardware toplaygames,butalsodecidedtoinclude someoftheusualfavouritesfromthestart, suchasa256GBOCZVertex4SSDanda2TB SeagateBarracudaharddisk. multi-threadedapplications, particularlyinvideo encodingandrendering tasks.Asahappy mediumthatbalances cost,coolingrequirements andmulti-threaded performance,weoptedforthe 3770KforourdreamPC. more,wealsofoundthat waterblockswereinshort supplyfortheGene. Thankfully,itsbiggersibling– theMaximusVFormula–has plentyofoptionsforwatercooling andonlycostsaround£40more.

THE PSU
Corsair’sHX850wonanApprovedAwardin ourrecentPSULabstest(seeIssue110,p68), soitwasalreadyonourshortlist.However, whenwefoundthatCorsairmakespremoddedmodularcablesforit,we immediatelyselecteditasourchoicePSU. Braidingyourowncablesisoneofthemost tediousandtime-consumingtasksyoucan attemptand,whilewedon’tshyawayfrom cable-braidingbyhand(we’llbetakingalook athowtodoitinnextmonth’sHowTosection), you’dbesillytooverlookpre-madecablesthat havebeentailor-madeforyourspecificPSU.

THE MEMORY
Although8GBofRAMhasquicklybecomethe standardnowthat64-bitoperatingsystems aremorewidespread,weaskedourselvesif therewasaneedformore.Weregularlysee 6-7GBinusewheneditinglargephotos, orinsomerenderingoperations, especiallyifwehaveseveralother applicationsopenatthesametime. Therefore,giventhecomparatively lowcostofmemoryatthemoment,we decidedtooptfor16GBof1,600MHzCorsair DominatorPlatinumDDR3memory,bringing ahealthyamountofheadroomandfutureproofingtoourdreamPCforaminimaloutlay. Whilesetscontaining4GBsticksarecheaper, we’vestucktotwo8GBsticks,asfillingall theDIMMslotsonyourmotherboardcan sometimeshamperoverclocking.Thisway, wealsohavetwofreeslotstofillshouldwe everneedmore.

THE GRAPHICS CARD
There’sonlyonegraphicscardavailablethat’s comfortableplayinggamesatextremely highsettingsandresolutionsinevery gamewe’veplayedrecently, andthat’sNvidia’sGeForce GTX6904GB.More importantly,itdoesn’t exhibitmicrostuttering,a problemwe’ve seeninother dual-GPUcardsandsetups WealsoavoidedoptingfortwoGeForceGTX 6802GBsforthesimplereasonthat,when youcombinethecostofthecardswithtwo waterblocksandfourwater-coolingfittings, theyactuallycostmorethanaGeForceGTX 6904GB,andaremuchmoredifficultto plumbintoyourwater-coolingsystem. DespitetheGTX690costingover£800,several waterblockmanufacturerscurrentlyhave coolinghardwareavailableforitand,judging bythebenefitwesawfromArctic’sAccelero TwinTurbo690recently(seeIssue111,p44), water-coolingthismonstrousgraphicscard shouldyieldhugebenefitstoo.

THE CASE
WithanyPCfocusedonlownoiseandwater cooling,thechoiceofcaseispivotal.Wehada shortlistofseveralattractivecasessuchas NZXT’snewPhantom820(fullreviewinnext issue),SilverStone’sTJ07andCoolerMaster’s CosmosII.Allhaveampleroomforplentyof water-coolinghardware,lookgreatandare easytomodtoo.Howeverweoptedfor SilverStone’sTJ11,despiteitbeingthemost expensivecaseonourshortlist,foracoupleof reasons.Itspriceissteep,butwe’reindream PCterritory,sowefeelourchoiceisjustified. It’sveryaccommodatingtowardsmodding andwatercooling,anditshugebottom sectioncanhouseaquad140mm-fan

THE MOTHERBOARD
Aswe’dplannedonusingaverylargecase tocraminasmuchcoolinghardwareaswe could,wedecidedthatourcurrentElite-listed favouriteLGA1155board,theAsusMaximusV Gene,wouldleavethecaselookingempty, whilealsolimitingexpansionoptions.What’s

THE CPU
WhileLGA2011CPUshaveperformance advantagesovertheirLGA1155counterparts insomeheavilymulti-threadedworkstation software,Intel’sCorei7-3770Krunscooler, costsconsiderablylessandisactuallyfaster insometeststoo.Intel’sCorei5-3570Kisa veryfastandoverclockableCPU,buttheCore i7-3770KalsoboastsHyper-Threading,which givesitanoticeableboostinperformancein

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radiator.The radiatorsitson itsside,drawing incoolairfrom onesideand expellingitout theother,without pushingitback intothecase.The CosmosIIandTJ07candothistoo,butnot withaquad140mmradiator.What’smore, theTJ11canfitaPSUinthelowersectiontoo. TheTJ11’ssleekcurvesandaluminium bodyalsomakeitoneofthebest-looking largecases.It’seasytospray-painttoo–the entirecaseisscrewedtogether,ratherthan riveted,soit’seasytodismantle.It’sbasically theperfectblankcanvasforadreamPC.

CUSTOMISATION

DREAM PC SHOPPING LIST
Hardware CPU Motherboard Memory Graphicscard Soundcard PSU Case SSD Harddrive Accessories Model IntelCorei7-3770K AsusMaximusVFormula 16GBCorsair1,600MHzDominator DDR3 AsusNvidiaGeForceGTX690 AsusXonarDX CorsairHX850 SilverStoneTJ11 OCZVertex4256GB SeagateBarracuda2TBST2000DM001 CorsairindividuallysleevedmodularPSU cables Price incVAT £240 £203 £110 £812 £55 £134 £470 £164 £77 £50 Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk www.dabs.com www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.ebuyer.com www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.dabs.com www.novatech.co.uk www.scan.co.uk

THE WATER-COOLING HARDWARE
OneofthereasonswechosetheSilverStone TJ11wasitsabilitytohouseahugequad 140mmradiatorinthebottom.Thisoffers bettercoolingcapacitythanaquad120mm radiatorbutonlycostsaround£5more–a no-brainerifyouhavetheroomforit.This shouldmeanwecanloweritsfanspeedsto silentlevelswithoutsacrificingcoolingtoo. There’sverylittlebenefitfromusingtwo loopsortwopumpsinasystemwithoneCPU andgraphicscard,sowepairedasingleLaing D5pumpwithanEKWaterBlocksEK-D5 X-RES100CSQreservoir,whichattaches directlytothepump.Whileaseparate reservoirisn’tstrictlynecessary,weadded anAlphacoolRepackDualBayres5.25in reservoirtoo,sowecouldtopupthecoolant withoutopeningthePC,andeasilymonitor coolantlevels. WealsooptedforEKWaterBlocks’ GeForceGTX6904GBfull-coverwaterblock, theMaximusVFormulawaterblockkitand itslatestSupremacyCPUwaterblock,all finishedinblackacetal.Weused1/2inID, 3/4inODtubingandalsomanagedtoget holdofMonsoon’slatest redanodised compression fittings,along withsamplesof itsnewrotary angledfittings, whichhaveinserts forLEDs.

WATER-COOLING AND MODDING COMPONENTS
Hardware CPUwaterblock GPUwaterblock Motherboard waterblock Reservoir1 Reservoir2 Radiator Fans Compressionfittings Lightingmodulesfor water-coolingloop Adaptors Adaptors Tubing Lighting Model EKSupremacyCPUwaterblock EK-FC690GTXwaterblock EKFBAsusMaximusVFormula waterblockkit AlphacoolRepackDualBayres5.25in EK-D5X-RES100CSQ PhobyaG-Changer560radiator 4xCorsairAF140fans 3xMonsoonred1/2inID,3/4inOD compressionfittingkits 2xMonsoonG1/4inlightingmodules 2xMonsoonrotaryangledadaptors 2xMonsoonrotaryangledlightport adaptors 2xMasterkleertubing10ft 2xPhobyawhiteLEDflexlights Price incVAT £56 £110 £80 £33 £50 £85 £52 £87 £14 £18 £19 £24 £14 Supplier www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.specialtech.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk

MATERIALS
Hardware Chrometrim Redacrylictintedsheet Blacksatinspraypaint Plasticprimerspraypaint Stepdrillbit Dremel3000 Heatgun Price incVAT £4 £18 £6 £6 £7 £40 £10 Supplier www.ebay.co.uk www.sheetplastics.co.uk www.diy.com www.diy.com www.ebay.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.ebay.co.uk
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AIR-COOL ING PERFORMANCE
Togetanideaoftheimprovementincooling fromourwater-coolingkit,wefirstbuiltthe systeminsidethecasewithjustthestock GeForceGTX690coolerandArctic’s Freezeri30CPUcooler.Wethensetabout overclockingourCPUtoseejusthowfarwe couldpushitonaircooling.Tomakethetesta faircomparison,wealsoreducedthefansof thecasetotheirlowestspeedtokeepnoiseto aminimum. 01 However,thisdidn’tpreventthegraphics cardandCPUcoolersfrommakingquiteadin oncewestartedincreasingclockspeedsand voltages.Wemanagedanoverclockof4.6GHz usingavcoreof1.35V,althoughthisresulted inaCPUtemperatureofover90°C,witha deltaTof67°C.Meanwhile,thegraphicscard wasalreadyhittingadeltaTof54°Catstock speed,withMSIAfterburnershowing temperaturesinexcessof80°C,sowe decidedtoleaveitalone.Thiswastheupper limitofourexploitswithaircooling–wehope ourwater-coolingsystemwilldomuchbetter.

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PL ANNING AND MODDING
Wedrewupsomefairlyambitiousplansfor modifyingourSilverStoneTJ11case.Thefront sectionhasfartoomanydrivebaycoversfor ourtastes,sowedecidedtofilltwowiththe dual-bayreservoirandtherestwithacustom illuminatedacrylicfrontpanel.Wealso wantedtoaddalargeacrylicmid-section platetothecase,separatingthelowerand upperchambersandallowingtubingto disappearintoit–thiswouldbetricky,but worththeeffort. Toaddalittlepizzazztoeachacrylicsection, wemaskedupdesignsandthenpaintedover themwithsatinblackspraypainttomatchthe restofthecase.Removingthemasking revealstheunpaintedacrylic,readytobe illuminatedfromunderneath. Weorderedenoughred-tintedacrylicto completethetask,butothercoloursare availabletoo.Weusedpenandpencil sketches,andacardtemplateforthemidsectionplate,butit’sworthcreatinga3D renderinGoogleSketchUpformore complicateddesigns. 02

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Westartedwiththefrontacrylicpanel, measuringittofitneatlyinplaceoftheTJ11’s numerousdrivebaycovers,andbeneathour dual-bayreservoir.WeusedourDremel’s flexibleshafttogetastraightcut,usingalightusecuttingdisconmediumspeed. 03 04 It’svitaltotest-fitmoddedpartssuchas acrylicpanelsbeforeyoupaintthem–ifyou needtotrimtheedges,nowisthetimetodoit. Onceyourpanelfitsperfectly,it’stimetomask

itupandapplyyourdesign.Weusededging trimfortheedgesofourgrille-shaped designs,withmaskingtapeinthemiddle. Don’tbetemptedjusttousemaskingtape, asthepaintcanseepintotheedgesandend upmakingyourdesignslookmessyand amateurish. 05 06 Tomakethegrilledesigns,wecreatedan ovalshapeinMSPaintandprinteditoutto createthreeidenticaldesigns,measuringthe

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acrylictomakesuretheovalswerealigned andcentredcorrectly.Withanypainted surface,it’salwaysbesttowashitwithmild soapywatertoremoveanygrimebeforeyou paintit.Asyou’vealreadymaskedtheacrylic, useasmallclothorcottonbudstocleanthe exposedareasyouintendtopaint,thenrinse themwithwater. 07 08 Applyplasticprimerfirst–thisgives adhesiontotheacrylic,allowingyour standardspraypainttosticktoitlikeanyother material.Allowthistodryforhalfanhour, thenapplythecolourcoat.Ifthefinishisn’t perfect,usefinewetanddrysandpaperto smooththesurface,thenapplymorecoats. Whenyou’vefinished,removethemasking andinspectyourdesign.Youmayneedtouse acottonbudtotouchupsomeedges. Tomountourfrontpanelinthecase,we usedplasticadhesivetosecurefourcustom mountingarmstoit.Wecutthesefromanoffcutofouracrylicsheet,sandedthemtosize, thendrilledholessowecouldmountthemin thecase’s5.25indrivebays. 09 10

Tobeabletofitallourcoolinggearinthe TJ11,weneededtoremovethebottomdrive cages,the180mmfansandthefanmounts. Asallthecoolingwillbehandledbyour mammothradiator,losingthesefans shouldn’tbeanissue,andwe’llstillhave the120mmrooffanforcomfort. 11 12 Ourfirsttargetforsomewater-cooling treatmentwasourGTX690.Hatefully,Nvidia hasusedstar-shapedscrewsinsteadofhex orstandard–headscrewstofittheGTX690’s stockcooler,soyou’llprobablyneedtoheadto yourlocalhardwarestoretopickuptheright toolforthejob.Withthestockcoolerremoved, weaddedthesuppliedthermalpadsand fittedthenewwaterblock. 13 14 Wethendidthesamewiththe motherboard,fittingthecustomchipset andVRMwaterblocksandmountedthe motherboard,completewiththeCPU waterblockandfittings,ontheTJ11’s removablemotherboardtray. 15 16 Withallthebarbspointingintheir respectivedirections,wethenworkedout

theroutethecoolantwouldtakebefore beginningworkonthemid-sectionpanel. Thetubingwouldcriss-crossthroughthe panel,downtotheradiatorandbackupagain, linkingallthecomponents.Wecreatedacard mock-upofthemid-sectionpaneltouseasa template,thencuttheacrylictosize. 17 18 Thepanelcanbesecuredtothecaseusing themountingpointsattherear,whichwere originallydesignedforthecase’sfanmount brackets.Withthepanelsecured,wethen placedacardboardboxundertheacrylicto provideabracetobenditintoshape. Weappliedheatusingourheatgunand graduallytheacrylicsaggeddown,enabling ustoaddarightanglesothatitbenttowards thebaseofthecase,allowingthesidepanelto fitasnormal. 19 20 Weusedthedrive-cagemountingscrews ontheothersideofthecasetosecurethe oppositesideofthepanel.Onceitwas trimmedtoshape,weworkedoutwhereall ourtubingwouldneedtopassthroughand markedtheholes.Wecutthesewithastep

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The1/2inID,3/4inODtubingcrisscrossesthroughthepanel,down totheradiatorandbackupagain, linkingallthecomponents. WegotholdofMonsoon’slatest redanodisedcompressionfittings, alongwithsamplesofitsnewrotary angledfittingswithLEDinserts. TheEKWaterBlocksGeForceGTX 6904GBfull-coverwaterblock makesahugedifferencetothe temperatureoftheGPUs.

CUSTOMISATION

WepairedasingleLaingD5pump andwithanEKWaterBlocksEK-D5 X-RES100CSQreservoir,which attachesdirectlytothepump.

Asus’MaximusVFormulahas plentyofoptionswhenitcomes towatercooling,anditonlycosts around£40morethantheGene.

EKWaterBlocks’MaximusV Formulawaterblockkit,andits latestSupremacyCPUwaterblock, areallfinishedinblackacetal.

Oneofthemainreasonswechose theSilverStoneTJ11wasitsability tohouseahugequad140mm radiatorinthebottom.

Thequad140mmradiatoronly costsaround£5morethanthe 120mmequivalent–ano-brainer ifyouhavetheroomforit.

Withsuchalargeradiator,you canrunthefourfansatreallylow speedsandstillhavegreatcooling, makingforamuchquieterPC.

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CUSTOMISATION

drill,usingthe18mmcutter,thensandedthe holesalittletoallowthe19mmtubingtopass througheasily.Wethenwentthroughthe wholemaskingandpaintingmethodagain. Ourpatternhasredlinesofacrylicrunning fromtheedgeofthepaneltothetubing,which wemadeusingedgetrimtape. 21 22 Finally,wefinishedpaintingthepaneland installeditinthecase,beforeconnectingall thetubingandfillingourwater-cooling system.Toilluminatetheacrylicpanels,we usedwhiteflexlights,whichcanbestuckin placetoachievethedesiredeffect. 23 24 Thelastdetailsweresomeacrylicfascias forourharddiskandSSD,andsomechrome trim,whichweaddedtotherunnersthatpass aroundthefrontofthecase.

21

22

23

24

OVERCLOCKING AND COOLING RESULTS
Usingaircooling,wemanagedtooverclock ourCorei7-3770Kto4.6GHzbeforeit startedpushingpast90°C.However,our dreamPC’scoolingpowerresultedina deltaTof55°C,whichis12°Ccoolerthan ourfavouriteCPUaircooler.Wethen increasedtheoverclockto4.8GHzusing avcoreof1.4V.ThisresultedinadeltaT of59°C–stillnearly10°Ccoolerthanthe temperaturewithouraircooler. Ourgraphicscardcoolingbeggared beliefthough.Thefull-coverwaterblock shavedanenormous39°Cofftheload temperaturecomparedtothestockcooler. Armedwithsomeseriousheadroom,we rampedupthemaximumpowerdrawin MSIAfterburnerto130percentandtried overclockingthegraphicscard. Wetoppedoutat100MHzextraonthe core,whichboostedtheUnigineHeaven benchmarkscorefrom3,304to3,530.We thenmanagedtoraisethememoryclock by300MHzto1,800MHz(7.2GHzeffective), resultinginafurtherboostto3,740.This sawthepowerdrawtopoutat430Wunder load,butthiswasstillhalfourPSU’srating. ThePCwasalsosignificantlyquieter thanitwaswiththeair-coolingequipment installed. Apartfromtheoccasionalextra whirofthePSUfanwhenunderheavyload, thelowthrumofthefour140mmradiator fanswasallwecouldhear.Thiswasafar cryfromthenoticeablenoisemadebythe graphicscard’sstockcoolerandtheCPU aircooler,whilethecasefansweren’t particularlyquieteither.

COOL ING AND PERFORMANCE RESULTS
CPU
Load delta T

GIMP IMAGE EDITING
67°C 55°C
0 20 40 60 80

OVERALL
2,323

Arctic Freezer i30 Custom PC dream PC

Custom PC dream PC
0 1,000

Custom PC dream PC
3,000 4,000 0 1,000 2,000

2,855
3,000 4,000

2,000

HANDBRAKE H.264 VIDEO ENCODING
Custom PC dream PC
0 1,000 2,000 3,000

CRYSIS 2
4,233
4,000

2,560 x 1,600, Ultra settings, no AA, DX11
59 fps
0 25 50

GPU

Custom PC dream PC
1,920 x 1,080, Ultra settings, no AA, DX11

82 fps
75 100

Load delta T

Stock cooler Custom PC dream PC
0

54°C 15°C
15 30 45 60

MULTI-TASKING
Custom PC dream PC
0 1,000

2,010
2,000 3,000 4,000

Custom PC dream PC
0 25 50

87 fps 100 fps
75 100

Minimum

Average

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Custom PC CustomPC’s
Finding yourself dumbstruck when your folks asks what you want for Christmas? Let Custom PC point you in the right direction
If Santa can find space between the walnuts, satsumas and novelty pencils, he should be able to squeeze one of these into your overgrown sock
heslipperyslopeofPCupgradehabits mighthaveareputationforemptying bankaccounts,butyoucangetsome surprisinglyusefulgizmosthat arebothcheapandsmall enoughtowarrant stocking-fillerstatus. Oneoldfavouriteis theZalmanFanMate 2fancontroller (£2.69incVATfrom www.quietpc.com).Basicallya variableresistorinabox,thisblack plasticboxcanmakethedifference

T

betweenanirritatingwhirringfromyourfan andapleasantthrum.Ithasallthecables neededtohookituptoastandard3-pinfan andpowerconnector,andanadhesivestrip soyoucanstickitanywhereonyourcase, orevenonitsexterior,ifthewireshave anescaperoute,foreasyaccess. Anothergood ideaisa completethermal compound upgradekit.Abottle ofAkasaTIM(£4.78inc VATfromwww.scan.

co.uk)willmakelightworkofcleaninggunk fromCPUsandGPUs,andatubeofArctic MX-2 (£3.72incVATfrom www.scan.co.uk)willdoafine jobofsealingthethermal connectionbetweenyourchip anditscooler,whilealsobeing electricallynon-conductive, meaningitcan’tcauseshort circuitsonexposedcores. Thismeansit’salsoidealfor replacingthethermalpaste underanIvyBridgeCPU heatspreader(seeIssue111,

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p114).Ifyouplantodo thelatter,it’salso worthcompleting thekitwithaPhobya two-component thermalglue (£3.25incVATfrom www.aquatuning. co.uk),whichwill enableyouto securelystickthe heatspreaderbackonyourCPU. ManyofMayhems’variouscoolantdyes alsocomeinhandystocking-sized10ml bottles(£5.99incVATfromwww.aquatuning. co.uk),andenableyoutoaddstrikingcolours toyourwater-coolingloop,includingblue, pinkandpurpleand UV-reactivevarietiestoo. Meanwhile,therearealso plentyofgeekygadgetsthat havevirtuallynothingtodo withPCs,butthatwe’dstillbe delightedtoreceivefromthe bigbeardymaninred.Atthe topofthelististheHan SoloinCarbonite SiliconeTray(£9.99 incVATfromwww. firebox.com),which enablesyoutomake miniversionsof Jabba’sfavourite wall-decorationthat youcandropintoa softdrink.Fireboxalso pointsoutthatyoucanfillthebigmouldwith chocolateforamoreaccurate(andtastier) representationofthescruffiestnerfherderin the galaxy. thegalaxy. Wealsolikethe heat-sensitive PacManmug(£6.99inc VATfromwww. firebox.com);,which showsanempty mazewhenempty, but reveals Namco’s pillbutrevealsNamco’spillgobblingpiechart,completewithghostsand cherries,whenyoufilledwithahotbeverage. Finally,ifyouhaven’treaditalready,we can’trecommendErnestCline’sbookReady

CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

PlayerOne(£5.59incfromwww. amazon.co.uk)enough.Witha compellingstory,genuinely cleverideas, detailed attention detailedattention to technical accuracy totechnicalaccuracy and more retro gaming andmoreretrogaming references than a copy of referencesthanacopyof SinclairUser,it’stheperfect page-turnerfortheseasoned gamingandtechnology enthusiast.

The sort of gifts you can proudly wrap and place under the tree on Christmas Eve. Just remember to write your thank you letters!

A

reallysimplepresentthatcanmake amajordifferencetogamingis anewrodent,andadecentone doesn’thavetocosttheearth either.Ourcurrentfavouriteis theMionixNaos3200(£35inc VATfromwww.overclockers. co.uk),whichfeelsexactlyright inyourhand,whilealsooffering adjustablesensitivityandlighting, nottomentionTeflon-coated feetsoitglideseasilyacross yourpad. Meanwhile,forsouthpaw readers, SteelSeries’Kana hasagreatambidextrousdesign(£35.99inc VATfromwww.overclockers.co.uk)andcosts similarmoney. Whatbetterwaytotryoutyournewmouse thanwithoneof2012’smanygreatPC games?We’veseenthereturnoftheclassic hack-n-slashgenrewithDiabloIIIthisyear, whichhasacompellingcampaignthatyou canplayincooperativemodewithyour mates–makesureyoubindyourkeys sensibly!Alsobackfromthegraveis theclassicXcomseries,inthelatest instalment–EnemyUnknown.However, whileresurrectingoldideasisallwelland

good,ourfavouritegameof theyearhastobebrandnew title Dishonored,withits incrediblevoiceacting,great useofsoundandfantastic world-building.Ifonegamegoes onyourChristmaslistthisyear, makeitDishonored. Meanwhile,wethoroughly recommendgettingadecent fancontrollertostashinafree 5.25indrivebay.Notonlywill thesegiveyoueasy,tangible accesstothespeedofallthefansin yoursystem,butmanyofthemalsolook absolutelylovely.Oursistersite,www.bittech.net,recentlytookalookatFractal’s Adjust108,whichoffersahugerangeof controloverthespeedsofsixfans(and headroomtocontrolmoreviasplittercables), anditslightingsystemlooksgorgeous.

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ourveryownGarethHalfacree! Ofcourse,noChristmasday wouldbecompletewithouta familyboardgame.Infact,ifyou don’tcelebrateChristmas,orare spendingthedaywithfriends ratherthanfamily,thenthere aremanygreatboardgames andcardgamesavailableto testyourstrategicprowess. Ourparticularfavouritesthis yearareAGameofThrones: TheBoardGame(£40.99incVAT from www.gameslore.com),puttingyouin chargeofoneofthemanyclansofWesteros. Thesecrecyofthe planningphasebreeds aridiculouslevelof suspicion–isthatreally anaidtokenthatmyally hasplaced,orawell hiddeninvasionforce? Wealsoparticularlylove theWarhammerInvasion LivingCardGame (£24.99inc VATfromwww.gameslore.com), whichisbalanced,gloriouslyintense andfiercelycompetitive. Portal2mighthavebeenlastyear’sgame oftheyear,butwestillhaveasoftspotforthe loyalCompanionCube,whichloyallyfollows youeverywherelikeastupid,squaredog. Somehow,youfeelbadwhenyouhavetoburn ittodeathinthefirstgame.Anyway,there’sa lotofCompanionCubemerchandisedoing therounds,butourpersonal favouriteisthecookiejar (£21.99incVATfromwww. forbiddenplanet.co.uk).You couldfillitwithcookies,ofcourse, butweplantofillourswith cakeinstead. Ifyou’vebeenlooking longinglyatourdreamPC (seep98),andfancyhaving agoatthismoddinglark,but don’thaveallthekityet, thenthetrustyDremelisthe perfecttooltogetyou started.Therearelotsof rotarytoolsavailable, buttheDremelhas suchawiderangeof accessoriesthatit’s worthpayinga littleextracashfor therealdeal. Youcangetabasiccorded Dremel3000setforjust£40, butwerecommendthefull Dremel3000SeriesMultitool with25Accessoriesand Flexishaftset(£66incVATfrom www.amazon.co.uk),whichincludesahard case,loadsofbitsand,formodders,theallimportantFlexishaft.

Ifyouwantareallystylishdrivebayfiller, however,thenyoucan’taskformorethanthe vintagenumericalnixietubesfoundinthe Lamptron FC10,whichgivethecontrollera deliciouslyold-school,steam-punkflavour. Thismighthavetobealatepresentthough; it’snotoriouslyhardtofindintheUK,butyou canpickoneupfor$99(£62)fromwww. frozencpu.com Ofcourse,it’sallverywellreducingyour casefans’noise,butyoudon’twanttomess aroundwithyourCPUcoolingfanunless you’reabsolutelysurethattheslowfanwill beabletohandletheheat.Ifyou’restill perseveringwiththestockcoolerthatwas includedwithyourCPUthennow’sagood timetogetholdofadecentthird-partycooler.

IfyouhaveanIntelCPU,youcan’tgowrong withtheArcticFreezeri30(£28incVATfrom www.dabs.com),whichknocksthesillynoise onthehead,whilealsoimprovingcooling, providingmoreoverclockingheadroom. Ifyoureallywantaninterestingchallenge forChristmas,though,ourcurrentfavourite computerhobbyist’spieceofkitisthe RaspberryPi(£29.95incVATforthe512MB versionfromwww.cpc.co.uk). Believeitor not,thismoneybuysyouacomplete computer,witha700MHzARMprocessor, 512MBofRAM,anOpenGL-compatible graphicschip,whichcanalsohandleH.264 videodecoding,plusanetworkconnection andallthebasicI/O,soundandHDMIports. Itisn’tthelastwordinhigh-endcomputing, butit’sagreatlittleboardforexperimenting withprogramming,andyoucanevenuseit asamediacentrerunningXBMC. Forsomeideasofwhat youcandowithit,check outourguide(seeIssue 106,p98),orevenaskfor theRaspberryPiUser Guide(£9.74incVATfrom www.amazon.co.uk), whichwasco-authoredby

For those of us lucky enough to have generous relatives who don’t mind splashing some cash on their pressies, and for those of us who just like to dream.
or £159 incVAT(http://play.google.com/ nexus7),the16GBNexus7isanamazing bargainforsuchapowerfulandflexible tablet.Thedevicehasa7inback-litIPSscreen witha1,280x800resolution,anNvidiaTegra3 graphicschipandagorgeousfinishthat

F

makesitgorgeoustohold,eveniftheplastic backisn’tasflashastheiPad’s.Unlikethe WiFi-onlyiPads,theNexus7 alsocomeswith GPS,makingitidealforputtingonthe dashboard,orforatouchofamateur astronomyviaGoogleSkyMap,plushiking.

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There’sawidevariety ofgamesonoffer,butwe particularlylikeplayingaround witholdPCclassicsonthe AndroidversionofDOSBox, andtheSCUMMvirtual machineforplayingold LucasArtsadventures.If you’reluckyenoughtosnag yourselfaNexus7, don’t forgetyoucanreadCustom PC(http://tinyurl.com/ CPCZinio)onitviaZiniotoo! ThereareplentyofPCupgradesthatcould makeabigdifferenceinthiscategorytoo.At thetopofthelist,ifyoudon’thaveonealready, isasolidstatedrive.Thedifferencetheymake toWindowsstart-uptimesis amazing,andtheyalso putastoptoallthe tediousharddrive chuggingthatprevents youfromdoingwhatyou wantimmediately.Ourcurrent favourite,intermsofbangperbuck, istheOCZVertex4256GB(£155incVATfrom www.ebuyer.com). Nextonourlistwouldbea GeForceGTX670graphics card,providingthe perfectbalance betweenspeedand valueformoney,plus theabilitytoplayall yourgameswithallthe settingsmaxedoutat2,560x 1,600.Notonlythat,butthePNY flavour (pictured)cancurrentlybehadforjust£264 incVATfromwww.scan.co.uk Finally,weenterthedreamylandof aspiration,maxed-outcreditcardsandan inabilitytojustifyyour purchases. These are the purchases.Thesearethe presents we’d love to receive, presentswe’dlovetoreceive, but simply can’t justify the butsimplycan’tjustifythe price tags. Let’s start with the pricetags.Let’sstartwiththe Lego Super Star Destroyer, LegoSuperStarDestroyer, which took three of us around whichtookthreeofusaround nine hours over four nights ninehoursoverfournights to assemble, with its 3,200 toassemble,withits3,200 pieces. It’s an immense slab pieces.It’sanimmenseslab of Star Wars Lego paradise, ofStarWarsLegoparadise, and it costs £324 inc VAT from anditcosts£324incVATfrom . Yes, it’s www.amazon.co.uk.Yes,it’s just Lego. Yes, it’s giving more money to that justLego.Yes,it’sgivingmoremoneytothat Lucas bloke. Yes, it isn’t remotely worth the Lucasbloke.Yes,itisn’tremotelyworththe money.Butit’sstillamazing. InsimilarterritoryisForgeWorld’sReaver titansforWarhammer40,000.Takingtheidea fromtheoriginalepic-scalemodels,these 40K-scaletitansaremadefromresin-mix thatenablesForgeWorldtomodelan incredibleamountofdetail.Fromthetitan crewsatinthegiantrobot’sheadtothe detailedhull,thesearetremendous,notto mentionhuge,models.Theonly snagistheprice–the bodyalonecosts£420 incVATfromwww. forgeworld.co.uk,and thenyouhavetobuythe weaponstoo.Theseareclearly for40K-enthusiastsonly,and theirpriceinpoundsbearslittle relationtotheirpriceinpointsbut,my god,they’relovelytoys. Finally,ifyouhappentohavesimilar fundstoRichardBransonand,likeus, you’reasuckerforallthingsrelatedto GeorgeRRMartin’sASongofIceandFire series(GameofThronesintheHBOseries) thengiftsdon’tgetmuchbetterthanthis full-

CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

scale IronThronefromtheseries(£20,000 incVATfromwww.firebox.com,and modelledherebyBen).Whetheryou’re pretendingtolaughlikeRobertBaratheon orsneerlikeevilJoffreyLannister,thisisthe perfectplatformfromwhichto ruleoveryour ownfantasykingdom.

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Your chance to get involved in Custom PC

NameJeremyBirch Age35 OccupationProfessionalmodder, freelancegraphicdesigner LocationPalmBay,Florida MainusesforPCGaming,websurfing Likes Largeceramicmugsoffreshly grounddark-roastblackcoffee,case modding,PCgaming,classicliterature Dislikes Smallpapercupsofbland coffee,brandedPCs,stockcases
CPC:Whatoriginallyinspiredyouto buildBIO-A10? Jeremy:EveryfewyearsImodacase formybestfriendasagift;hehappens toenjoybiohazard-themedideas.Notin reality,mindyou;Ihaven'tfoundhimplaying withcolostomybagsoranything–atleast notyet.IwasabletograbacoupleofLianLi PC-A10chassisforareallyattractiveprice throughdamaged-productclearanceat work,soIfiguredI'duseoneofthemforhis upcomingbuild.Theexistingdentsinthe chassisjustifieddestroyingitalittlemore. CPC:Whatothermodshaveyoubuilt? Jeremy:Quiteafewprojectsovertheyears.A smallamounthadactualprojectlogs,andan evensmalleramountofthosewerepublished inoneformoranother.Mostofthemwere eitherclientbuildsforgamingPCsorjust 'dailydrivers'.Mypersonalprojectswere

Making your work look realistically rusty and weathered is a fine art. Jeremy Birch explains the process he used to give a Lian Li PC-A10 a biohazard theme
fulfillingprophecy.Amazinglyenough,Iwas surprisedbyhowsmoothlythisprojectwent. However,duetopersonalstrife–getting laidofffrommycareer,findingoutwehada childontheway,housingproblemsandother personalissues–Iputmoddingontheback burnerforawhile.AftermywifeandI purchasedahouseoverayearago,Idecided toconvertthegarageintoanewworkshop.I wasdonemourningthelossoftheoldshop andneededtomoveforwards.Itackledthat goaldiligently,buildingworkbenchesand hanginghigh-outputlightingandsoonto makeitalittlemoremod-friendly,especially forphotographyandfilming.TheBIO-A10 projectwasthefirstmodprojectoutofthe newE.E.L.mod-shop. CPC:Whatmaterialsdidyouuse,andwhy? Jeremy:IusedAluminiumfortheoccasional structuralbrace,ortocoverupareasonthe

traditionallygamingrigs,withtheoccasional HTPCandhomeservertossedintothemix. CPC:Whatdifficultiesdidyoucomeacross whilebuildingBIO-A10? Jeremy:Withanymodproject,unforeseen issuesalwaysappear.Ienjoythosekindsof challengesbecauseitkeepsmybrainsharp andfocusedonthetasksathand.Ifaproject isgoingreallysmoothly,Ibecomesuspicious fairlyquickly,whichtendstobecomeaself-

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ENTERYOUROWNPCATHTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET WorldMags.net

ofJeremy’sproject, byheadingoverto http://tinyurl.com/ bio-a10

SEE MORE

chassisthatnolongerneededtobeseen.I usedacrylicaswell,whichismypersonal favouritecanvasthat'susedinallmyprojects. Ialsousedplentyofpaintingtechniques. Attheriskofsoundingpretentious,I'vebeen experimentingwithweatheringonafewrigs inthepastandalwaysenjoyit.Itendtocome upwithaformulaforeachprojecttofollow,so Ihaveconsistentresult,buttheylookalittle differentfrommypreviousweatheredbuilds. Forthisparticularrig,Idevelopedamethodof layingdownabrownish-redrattle-canprimer (purposelylaidunevenly),followedbyrattlecanflatblackandrattle-can'camouflage' brownpaintinterchangeably,soitlookslike it'sdarkerinsomeareas. Ithenusedareallylarge-gritfoamsanding blockandsteelwooltogivethecasea'used' look.Meanwhile,additionalnicksweremade withscrewdrivers,myownteeth,orwhateverI happenedtohavenearme,toaddsomemore

'personality'tothechassis.I'veeventossed abucketfulofscrewsandboltsacrosspanels inthepast. Meanwhile,Iusedcoppersulphateandiron solutionstobuilduptheareasIchoseto'rust' morethanweather,andappliedmorecopper sulphatetotheironforamoreorangetone andlessforabrownertone.Alittletrickto

SYSTEM SPECS
CPU Intel Core i5-3570 GPU Sapphire Toxic Radeon HD 6850 Case Lian Li PC-A10 Storage Western Digital hard drive, SSD hybrid boot system Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3 Motherboard Asus P67 Sabertooth PSU Seasonic Platinum 860W with custom wiring Cooling Custom water-cooling loop consisting of XSPC bay-reservoir and Highflex tubing, DDC 18W pump, EK 420 radiator, EK waterblocks (including GPU and customised Supreme CPU block) and Enzotech compression fittings

readerswhowishtousethestuff–to acceleratethereaction,useaheat-gunwhile it'sdrying.Itsavesalotoftimeandreally makestheorangetonespopout.Onsome areasIbuiltupovertenlayersofeachuntilI washappywiththeresults,especiallyaround the'extremelydesiccatedhole'ontheupper rightofthefrontdoor–itlooksasthoughit's rustedthroughcompletely,showingthe statusLEDshiddenbehindthedoor. Additionalweatheringwasappliedwith airbrushingtechniquesusingthreedifferent earthytones.Finally,todarkentheoveralltone andseal/clearcoatthewholecase,Ifinished everythingoffwithacoatofmattclearpowder. Thispreventspracticallyanyactualnickor scratchfromoccurring,evenifitlooksas thoughit'stakencountlessknocksalready. Italsokeepsanypotentiallydangerous materials(suchasrust)fromchildren's hands,whichwasaconsideration.
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CPC:Whattoolsandmachinerydidyouuse whenbuildingBIO-A10? Jeremy:Mytypicalmoddingarsenalalways beginswithgoodplanning.Iusuallybeginwith pencilsketches,andmoveontoactually designingthefinalproductonthecomputer, readytogoforone-offmanufacturing.After that,therealfunbegins.Myshopmethod includesuseofajigsawandrotarytoolwith numerousattachments,plusoccasional workwithascroll-saw,myownteeth,all kindsofhandtools,sandingmiceandblocks, powder-coating,lasercuttingand,most importantly,mymind. CPC:Howlongdidittaketofinish? Jeremy:Roughly40hoursoveraperiodof oneyearfrominitialplanningtotheactual build,althoughalotofthosehourswere packedintoatwo-monthperiod. CPC:Whathaveyoulearnedfromthe buildingprocess? Jeremy:I'vereignitedmyloveforthe weatheringprocessagain!ThelastoneIdid wastwoorthreeyearsago,andbeforethat probablyacoupleyears.It'salwaysfunto intentionallybeatupstuff,andtheprocessis occasionallymoredifficultthatbuildinga cleansystem.Infact,I'dventuretosayit's downrightcathartictoamindusually obsessedwithcleanlinessandperfection. CPC:Areyouhappywiththeendresult,and isthereanythingyou'ddodifferentlyifyou builtitagain? Jeremy:I'mhappywiththeendresult.It's aboutwhatIexpected,asI'msuchastickler forpre-modplanning.There'salwaysgoing tobesomethingthatendsupdifferenttohow youanticipated,though. Theproject,whencompleted,didleaveme withwhatBillOwen(fromMNPCTech)andI generallyrefertoas'post-modblues'.I'm surehesuffersfromitalotmoreoftenthan me,duetohissheervolumeofawesome turnaround,althoughitcanbedifficultto movepastitregardless. Icanadmititwasdifficulttolethergowhen shewasfinallydeliveredtotheowner(mybest friend).Ikeptwalkingbackwardstowardsthe frontdoorwhilelookingather,andhejust laughedatme.Icouldn'thelpbutfeel ridiculousthatIwasfeelingsadaboutleaving aninanimateobject,butit'soneofmychildren inasense.Thatattachmentwillalwaysexist becauseshewasbornfrommymind. WouldIdoanythingdifferently?Always. Beinganartist,Ialwaysfindflawswithmy work,becauseI'maperfectionistbynature andI'mnevercompletelyhappywithanything. It'simportanttoconstantlytrytoreachthat unobtainableperfection,andrelyonthe owner'sreactiontogaugethequalityofthe work.Inthiscase,hewasspeechlessfora coupleminutes,withasurprisedlookas hewentovereveryinchofthecasewhile mumblingincoherentcompliments,soI supposemyworkwasgoodenough. Makinglovedoneshappy,whetherthey're familyorfriends,isreallywhatcountsforme. IfIbringasmiletosomeone'sface,thenI knowI'vedonemyjob.

Thanks from Jeremy
I'dliketogivemydeepestthankstothebittechcommunityandallmyfriends,readers, andsupportersforallthesupport,backing andencouragement.Idon'thavetologmy work,butIdobecauseofyou.Fromthe bottomofthismodder'sheart,thankyou.

BE A WINNER!

ToenteryourmachineforpossibleinclusioninReaders’ Drives,yourmodneedstobefullyworkingand,ideally, finishedbasedintheUK.Simplylogontowww.bit-tech.netandheadovertotheforums.Once you’rethere,postawrite-upofyourmod,alongwithsomepics,intheProjectLogsforum.Make sureyoureadtherelevantrulesandadvicestickythreadsbeforeyoupost.Thebestentranteach monthwillbefeaturedhere,wherewe’llprintyourphotosofyourprojectandalsointerviewyou aboutthebuildprocess.Fameisn’ttheonlyprize; you’llalso getyourhandsonafabulous selectionofprizes–seetheoppositepagefordetails.

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HTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET

We’ve teamed up with some of the world’s leading PC component manufacturers and retailers to offer this great range of prizes to each lucky Readers’ Drives winner. If your creation is featured in the magazine then you’ll walk away all three of the prizes listed on this page, so get in your entries!

Totalvalue£142incVAT Manufacturerwww.corsair.com CorsairbelievesthatagreatPCstartswithagreat case.TheCorsairCarbideSeries300Ris acompactexpressionofthiscore philosophy.Itpacksina remarkablenumberoffeatures givenitscompactdimensions, providesbuilderswithtonnesof roomforexpansion,andhas amazingcoolingpotential.And, likeallCorsaircases,it’sbuilt usingthefinestmaterialsand finishedtothehigheststandards, soitwillwithstandseveralyears ofupgrades. Justasaqualitycaseis essentialtobuildingaquality PC,ahigh-performance,highqualitypowersupplyisalsoavital ingredient.BasedontheawardwinningTXV2Series,thenew EnthusiastSeriesModularPSUsadda modularcablingsystemforimprovedinstallation

CORSAIR CARBIDE SERIES 300R CASE AND 550W TX MODULAR POWER SUPPLY

flexibility.TXModularpowersuppliesarebuilt usingqualitycomponents,andarerigorously testedandqualifiedat100percentloadatan ambienttemperatureof50°Cforunmatched reliability.They’redesignedtoasuperior standard,sothattheynotonlymeettheATX specification,butalsoexceedit.Inadditionto unmatchedquality,TXModularPSUsarealso power-efficient,offering85percentenergy efficiencyorhigherat50percentload. WithaCorsairCarbideSeries300Rcaseand 550WTXModularpowersupplyattheheartof yourbuild,you’llhavethefoundationsforatruly awesomegamingmachine.

PHOBYA MODDING KIT

Value£50incVAT Manufacturerwww.phobya.com,www.aqua-tuning.co.uk pre-braidedextensioncablegivesyouextra routeingoptionsinyourcase,anditalsoenables youtorunuptofourfansfromonecompatible motherboardheader.Meanwhile,the PhobyaSATA3cablesincludedinthekit offerthesamegreatqualitybraidingas therestofthePhobyarange,whilealso securingyourconnectionwith latchedconnectors.Aswellas this,thekitincludesthePhobya SlimGuideController,whichgives youtheoptiontovarythespeed ofotherfansinyourcase,while thePhobyaTwinLEDsletyou shinealightonyourmods.

ThePhobyamoddingkitisdesignedwiththemodderinmind,offering greatvalueformoneyandqualityproducts.ThekitincludesNano-G 12SilentWaterproof1,500rpmmulti-optionfans,whichuse aninnovativefan-bladedesign.As standard,thefansincludebraided blackcablestokeepyourcaselooking asneataspossible.Thefansarealso suppliedwithaspecialcablethat letsyourunthefanat5Vratherthan 12V,reducingthenoiseemitted inordertohelpyoutobuilda silentsystem. Thekitalsoincludesthe 60cmPhobya3-pinMolexto 4x3-pinMolexY-cable.This

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maintain a water-cooling system
oucannowbuyallthepartsyou needforwatercoolingoffthe shelf,andwithalittleresearch onthevariousfittingsandtubing sizes,it’seasytogetyoursystemupand running.However,therearesometricksto avoidthepitfallsthataren’tmentionedin manuals,suchaspreventingforeignobjects fromgettingstuckinyourwaterblocks.It’s alsogoodtocleanyourloopperiodicallyto removebuilt-upgrime. Followthesestepsand you’llendupwitha perfectlypreppedandtunedcoolingsystem, andavoidthenightmareofcoolantleakstoo.

Water-cooling your PC is easier than ever. Antony Leather gives you tips on how to how to prepare, leak-test and clean your water-cooling system

Y

Don’t use a knife or scissors to cut your tubing, as the edges will probably be uneven, meaning there’s an increased risk of leaks, especially if it’s under sideways stress. A tube cutter will make cutting your tubing far easier, as well as more precise. They cost around £5 but will make your life considerably easier.

CUT YOUR TUBING PROPERLY

Many radiators use water-soluble flux in their construction. This can gradually dissolve, and make your coolant and tubing turn cloudy as it spreads. To remove this, run a hot tap and flush the radiator for ten minutes with hot water. You may even see the water turn cloudy.

FLUSH YOUR RADIATOR

Alphacool Sysclean

Fromwww.aquatuning.co.uk

Plastic tubing cutter

Fromwww.aquatuning.co.uk

Deionised water (battery topup water)
FromHalfords

Low-density foam filter
Mosthardwarestores

ATX jumper

Fromwww.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquatuning.co.uk

RINSE WITH DEIONISED WATER
As tap water contains nasty impurities that can lurk in your system, you need to flush your radiator immediately after step one. You can buy deionised water from Halfords cheaply, rather than using expensive pre-mixed coolant. For the best results, connect the radiator to a pump and pass the coolant through it at high pressure.

Mayhems coolant dye or coloured coolant

CHECK WATERBLOCKS FOR OBSTRUCTIONS

Waterblocks contain a maze of copper fins and small paths through which your coolant will flow. Anything that blocks these could limit your block’s ability to cool your CPU. Dismantle it to check nothing has found its way inside during its construction. Start by removing any securing screws and taking the block apart.

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Remove any small pieces of seal or other detritus stuck in the waterblock with water or tweezers. If your block uses a removable rubber seal, make sure this is correctly placed in its groove. You can then screw the block back together and fill it full of coolant – this will show if the rubber seal has come loose.

ASSEMBLE WATERBLOCK

By adding a small section of sponge to your reservoir, you can prevent small fragments from radiators or waterblocks from becoming lodged in your pump or waterblock. Start by cutting a section of sponge to the right size for your reservoir. Rinse this thoroughly to remove any loose fragments and then insert it.

FILTRATION

Make sure the filter isn’t located directly over an inlet or outlet, although the coolant should flow through it before it exits. The filter will help to trap particles that could otherwise get lodged in the pump or waterblock. Alternatively, in-line filters are available that connect two sections of tubing, although these cost around £10 each.

ADD A FILTER

FILL ING

People often have trouble with trapped air or filling new water-cooled builds, particularly in small PCs where gravity can’t ensure that water reaches the pump from the reservoir. You can let gravity do its work by tilting your case. This may result in a long process of filling, tilting and powering on the pump, but it works.

BLEEDING

Once your loop has enough water, the pump will engage and water will blast around the system. However, air can still be trapped in radiators. As air rises in water, it will most likely be trapped at the top, so it’s time for some more tilting to release the air. While you do this, fill the reservoir so that more air isn’t introduced into the system.

TOP UP

There still may be some residual air in the form of tiny air bubbles. These can make the pump quite noisy, but they eventually dissipate. For this reason, check your reservoir level regularly for the first day or two. If air bubbles are stuck in the tubing, a gentle shake can break them free so they find their way to the reservoir.

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By far the most important job before you power on your water-cooled system is to leak-test it. This can only be achieved once you’ve installed all you components into the case with the pump running. Start by disconnecting all the power connectors, except your pump, so your components won’t be damaged if there is a leak.

LEAK-TEST

An ATX jumper costs just a couple of quid, but it handily jumps your PSU’s power and ground pins, forcing it to power on without a PC connection. This allows you to just switch on the pump to identify leaks under normal conditions, but without powering on the rest of the PC. Switch off your PSU and insert the connector.

INSERT ATX JUMPER

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While some leaks are obvious, slow leaks can appear after several hours. To spot them, wrap tissue around each fitting, and beneath your CPU block and pump, using tape if necessary. Add deionised water and a few drops of dye to your reservoir or fillport, then power on the system. If there are any leaks, the tissues will soak up the dye.

ADD TISSUES AND DYE

Leak-test for 24 hours, and leave the tissues on once you power up the rest of your system. Slow leaks can still manifest themselves once the system warms up, but the tissues will help to identify them, while helping to prevent the coolant from reaching unintended places. Leave the tissues on for a few days, checking them every day.

LEAVE FOR 24 HOURS

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PERSISTENT LEAKS

Some barbs and waterblocks just don’t fit together, but you can use mole grips on metal fittings (not plastic) to tighten them with only a small amount of pressure. Alternatively, you can wrap PTFE tape round the thread, or even use Loctite. Don’t use Loctite on plastic reservoirs, though, as it expands and can crack the casing.

Over time, coolant can break down and small amounts of material from waterblocks, reservoirs and tubing can get in, building up in bottlenecks or settling in tubing. Thankfully, you can clean your loop without taking it apart. Start by draining your system and opening up two ends at easily accessible points for draining and filling.

CLEANING

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FLUSH THE LOOP

Now flush the loop once with deionised water, which will clear out any remaining gunge. If your pump has multiple inlets, keep one open but attach a funnel to fill it, and attach the previous tubing as a drainer. As the coolant is likely to be dirty, empty it into a bucket, rather than onto your patio.

MIX YOUR CLEANER

We’re using Alphacool Sysclean, which needs to be mixed with ten parts water (one part Sysclean), or five parts if your system hasn’t been cleaned for years. It’s safe to use with rubber seals, plastic and other metals, but it can attack the coating of nickelplated waterblocks. For these, use white vinegar mixed with two parts water instead.

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ADD THE CLEANER TO THE SYSTEM

Reconnect the drain hose to your pump and add the cleaner, cleaning up any spills quickly. Fill your system and bleed it, topping up with more water if necessary. The water may turn cloudy, due to oxidation, limescale, additive and other settlements being dissolved. Leave this in your system for 30 minutes with the pump on.

DRAIN AND FLUSH THE SYSTEM

You now need to flush deionised water through your system, so get your funnel and find a way to leave the drain hose in the bucket while you fill it. Engage the pump and allow 4-5 litres to be flushed through, then add corrosion inhibitor, if your coolant doesn’t contain it already, which prevents any residual cleaner from causing issues.

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Sometimes you might need to get physical to deal with blockages or large grime build-ups. Some tubing goes cloudy over time and, while it’s fairly cheap to replace, it’s worth trying to clean it first. You can do this with bathroom cleaner, white vinegar or Alphacool Sysclean, and then run a cloth or tube brush through the tube.

MANUAL TUBE-CLEANING

There may be clumps of matter stuck in your waterblocks’ contact plate fins, which can be removed with a toothbrush, air duster and Alphacool Sysclean. Meanwhile, you can clean radiators by leaving them filled with a more concentrated solution of Sysclean,orwhitevinegarandhot water, thenflushingthisthroughafewtimes.

CLEANING WATERBLOCKS AND RADIATORS

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make a low-profile slot adaptor
Bought a low-profile case, but your expansion cards didn’t include adaptors? Antony Leather shows you how to create your own
ow-profilecasesmightbeidealfor stashinginsideTVcabinets,and plentyofUSB3cards,sound cardsandTVtunercardshave low-profilePCBstofitthemtoo.Sadly, however,theydon’talwayshavelow-profile replacementbracketstoenablethemtofit

L
01

securelyinyourcase.Withoutthem,they couldcomelooseand,inaworst-case scenario,theycouldevenshort-circuityour motherboard.Thankfully,it’sveryeasyto makeyourown.AllyouneedisaDremelwith somereinforcedcut-offwheelsandgrinding attachments,andagluegun.

Tools you’ll need
Dremel with cutting disc and grinding attachments Glue gun Mosthardwarestores

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REMOVE OLD BRACKET

You can either trim and bend your existing bracket to size, or create a new one. We’ve opted for the latter, as it means you’ll have both brackets in case you swap cases again in the future. In any event, you’ll need to remove the original bracket to avoid damaging your card or to create a template if you’re making a new one.

CREATE A TEMPL ATE

Draw around the base of the original bracket, and inside all the ports, so you’re left with a template of the areas to cut away. The distance from the base of each bracket to the ports will be the same, as low-profile brackets simply have a few centimetres lopped off the top.

Your new bracket can either be a spare blanking plate from your case, or a new one. New low-profile blanking plates can be found on eBay for a couple of pounds. Don’t worry if your case uses vented or meshed blanking plates – we’ll just be cutting holes to allow the ports to poke through.

MARK UP BRACKET

04

05

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CUT THE HOLES

The best tool for cutting square edges is a Dremel with a small cutting disc, while round holes are best cut with a drill. Be careful not to chop too much away – you can always finish the rest with a file or grinding attachment. Most blanking plates are made of steel, so you’ll need to use your Dremel on a fairly high speed setting.

SECURE NEW BRACKET TO CARD
As there’s no way to secure your new bracket to your card, you’ll have to use glue. We opted for a glue gun, as the glue is strong enough to hold the bracket, and it sets quickly too – you’ll only need to hold the card and bracket together for a minute or two. Apply it on the underside and edge of the PCB, but avoid the ports.

CUT AWAY E XCESS GLUE

The gun will probably have be quite generous in dishing out copious amounts of glue, so use a Stanley knife to cut away the excess. Be sure to leave enough to keep the bracket firmly fixed in place and take care not to scratch the PCB. Go ahead and fit your new low-profile expansion card in your case.

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Letters
OVER CLOCK ING AN AMD A10-5800K
Notwithstanding your views on the current state of AMD vs Intel, the AMD A10 Trinity APU seems to have hit a sweet spot in value for money. That being so, is there any chance you might run a community overclocking article, focused on this processor, in an upcoming issue? David Wood Ben replies: Indeed, AMD’s A10 APU is a great chip for the money – the gaming performance is amazing when you consider it’s all done by the CPU. At some point in the first half of next year, we’ll be doing a full overclocking masterclass, looking at how to overclock all the latest CPUs. This will definitely feature a section showing you how to overclock AMD’s Trinity chips.

Send us your feedback and correspondence to editor@custompc.co.uk, with ‘Letter’ in the Subject line
actually isn’t bad at all – it’s just that 2D performance from Intel chips is that much better. For average PC use, though, you’re unlikely to notice a huge difference. I have an A8-5600K media centre system myself now, and it’s absolutely fine for a little gaming, and 1080p streaming video – it will be more than adequate for your friend, and a huge improvement over his current PC in every respect.

DUAL GRAPHICS
AMD’sTrinityAPUsoffergreatperformancefor themoney

Ben replies: I have no idea what happened While reading my copy of the January 2013 with your folding name James, but I’ll tell issue of Custom PC, I couldn’t help but Simon (who does the folding stats) so that notice my folding name was mentioned he can try to figure it out. Regarding your twice in the folding section (200,000 points). friend’s PC, I’m not surprised that it’s Also, could I have struggling – the Pentium 4 some upgrade is a very old architecture, advice? My brother and it was even famously has a Pentium 4 and inefficient in its day. a Radeon HD 6450 The Radeon HD 6450, for gaming, and it’s although relatively evident that it no recent, is also longer has enough seriously limited power to play games in 3D power. at even the lowest It sounds like an detail settings and AMD Trinity system resolutions. I was is just what he wandering if AMD needs. The chips’ Argh,Pentium4,returntothefieryhellfromwhichyou trinity APUs are spawned! 2D performance

IS AMD 2D PERFORMANCE REALLY THAT BAD?

really that bad at 2D – I saw in the reviews that the A8s didn’t have such good 2D performance, but are they still good enough for 1080p YouTube videos? He won’t be overclocking, and the cheaper the better. What do you advise? James Edmonds

Greetings, oh great and wondrous PC information supplier. I’ve just finished reading the cracking graphics card write-up in Issue 111, which was great for me, as I’ve built an i7 system. However, I ran out of money so have settled for a cheaper graphics card for now. However, I’m soon

Get a kick out of pointing out the shortcomings of others? It’s okay – so do we
ROBIN HOOD AIRPORT
Oneforpedantscorner(ifyoustillhave thatinthemagatall). YoumightwanttopointouttoJim Killock(issue112,p12)thatRobinHood AirportisinDoncaster,notNottingham. AndrewLevick Ben:Haha,Ican’tbelieveIdidn’tspot that!I’lltellhimtostopconfusing airportswithfictionaldo-gooders.

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going to have enough pennies to upgrade to VROOOM graphics! I was wondering if, in a future issue – preferably within a couple of months – if it would it be possible to have a comparison between two low-end cards in a CrossFire/ SLI configuration against single higher-end cards from the same manufacturer, to find out if the two outweigh the value of the one. I have an Asus P8P67 Deluxe that supports SLI and CrossFire, but I only have a lowly GTX 460, which has done me proud up until now, but I’m aching to try Battlefield 3 in all its glory. My budget is approximately £250. Cenydd PS Bring back the mince pie reviews! PPS Absolutely brilliant mag Ben replies: Thanks for your kind comments Cenydd – glad we can be of service, and I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the huge mince pie megatest we’ve got in this issue! We’ve had a multi-GPU feature on the list for a while now – we are planning to do it, but it may not be as quick as you want it. Anyway, the GeForce GTX 690 has shown that SLI has come a long way since the flaky days of multi-GPU systems, and the drivers are much better than they used to be a few years ago. Personally, however, with a budget of £250, I’d definitely put my old card on eBay and buy a faster single card. Even now, not every game supports SLI and CrossFire, and the performance doesn’t always scale as much as you’d expect either. Multi-GPU systems are really for people who want the fastest systems possible. At the lower end of the scale, I’d always buy a single card, rather than adding another card to my existing setup, as you can then at least vaguely gauge what performance to expect. If you get another GTX 460, and you play a game that doesn’t scale properly with SLI, then you’ll be back where you started, except a little poorer. Sell it and buy a new card, and you can guarantee it will be quicker in your games. If you can stretch to £264 inc VAT, you can currently buy a PNY GeForce GTX 670 from www.scan.co.uk. @ThewizleonGreatmagguys. Adviceplease:I’manAMD RadeonfanandhaveanHD5850.It’s timeforanupgrade,whereshouldIgo? HD7850? Ben:Thatreallydependsonyour budget,thegamesyouplayandyour resolutionrequirements.The7850is certainlyagoodupgradefroma5850– ifthat’syourbudgetthengoforit. @RobertSzynalLMAO,@ CustomPCMagdescribed using#windows8forthefirsttime perfectly! @tmxghostWindows8is useless!GreatreviewinCPC112. IhopeMicrosofttakesnoteandfixesit. Ben:Heh,Ididn’tsayitwasuseless, justthatthenewinterfaceis inappropriatefordesktopsandtakes sometweakingtomakeitusableon anaveragePC. @PaulWithoutTheELeafing throughsomeoldissuesof@ pcproandcameacrosstwoyouthful looking@CustomPCMageditorsside byside.

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@TigernosThelittletoolkitI gotwithmy CustomPCMag subscriptionhasnotonlybuiltmyrig butthedeskit’ssaton!

@WorthingWebLastdayofhalf term.Bestdustoffthelesson plans...Lookoutkids,someone’sbeen reading@CustomPCMag @Baron_von_SteinRevisited the80s,clearingacupboardat mylategrandfather’shouse.

@craigthebeard84Looking forwardtothemincepie megatestnextmonth! #highlightofthemag @TobyJKingIthinkyoushould invitesomeofyourloyalreaders toparticipateinthetest... @dangrenfellCan’twaitforthe DuchyOriginalsverdictagainthat’salwaysentertaining! @stephencgrant Howabouta featureaboutcomedianswho builttheirownPCoutofaQualityStreet tin?Hmm?:) Ben:Wemight,ifyoucansendusapic!

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Join our folding team and help medical research

WHAT IS FOLDING?

Folding@homeusesthespareprocessingcyclesfromyourPC’sCPUandgraphicscardsformedicalresearch.Youcandownload theclientfromhttp://folding.stanford.edu/download.htmlandourteam’sIDis35947.Onceyoupassasignificantmilestone, you’llgetyournameinthemag.Youcanalsodiscussfoldingwithusandotherreadersonthewww.bit-tech.netforums.

We catch up with folder of the month: kirk_hobson
CPC:Whoareyouandwhatdoyoudo? kirk_hobson:My name is Kirk, and I valet new BMWs at the main distribution centre in Doncaster. CPC:Whatmadeyoudecidetostartfolding? kirk_hobson:I lost my great-grandma to cancer, and my uncle is battling Parkinson’s disease. I didn’t know about Folding@home until I picked up a copy of CPC back in 2008. CPC:Whatexcitesyouthemostabout folding? kirk_hobson:The fact that one day I will hopefully play a part in curing various lifethreatening diseases, and seeing how many points I can squeeze out of my hardware. CPC:HowmanyPCsdoyouhavefolding? kirk_hobson:Four. Three of them run 24/7, and one runs when I’m not gaming on it. CPC:What’stheiraveragespec? kirk_hobson: My main gaming rig has a Core2 Quad Q6600 overclocked to 3.6GHz and aGTX560, whichkicks outaround20-25kppd. Meanwhile, the folding rigs have a Core i7-920 overclocked to 4GHz, and a Core i5-750 running at 3.4GHz with a GTX 460. These machines are all at home, but I also have a server with two Xeon E5420s in a data centre. CPC:What’syourbestpieceoffoldingkit? kirk_hobson:Most of my folding kit has been bought from the CPC/bit-tech marketplace on the forums. There some great bargains in there, and the forum members are a really good bunch of guys. CPC:Whatoperatingsystemsdoyouuse? kirk_hobson: The main/gaming rig runs Windows 7, and the other 24/7 folding machines run native Linux Ubuntu. CPC:Doyouintendtokeepupyourcurrent productionlevel? kirk_hobson:Yes. I’m going to downsize the four machines down to one or two, but the production will increase with the new hardware I’ll be getting. CPC:Anytipsforfellowteammembers? kirk_hobson:There’s a wealth of information on the CPC/bit-tech folding forum, and there plenty of members willing to help with any issues or advice you need. CPC:Whatdoyourfriendsandfamilythink aboutyourfolding? kirk_hobson:They think it’s great that I’m helping with research for various cancers, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, they think I’m mad to spend so much money on all the hardware! CPC:What’syourworstfoldingexperience? kirk_hobson:Whenever the electricity bill comes through the door!

CPC:Andthebest? kirk_hobson:Hitting my first million points not long ago. CPC:Ifyoucouldchangeonepartofyour setup,whatwoulditbe? kirk_hobson:It would be to have one folding rig producing the same ppd as the four machines I’m running now. However, that’s happening as we speak - I’m planning to buy a new rig with two Intel Xeons running bigbeta work units. Teamrank94 Worldrank3,220 Score11,089,998 Workunits2,277 Dailypointsaverage94,397 TOPFOLDERS Thismonth’sshout-outsgotoKevinWright, Keith_Chungand_Fanatic.Ifyoufoldasanyof thesenames,emaileditor@custompc.co.uk
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MILESTONES THIS MONTH
Username Points milestone Username Points milestone Username Points milestone Username Points milestone

waffo Ayeska Dalunar FishPond Fr4ggle hivltg SudhirM4H Yonsaber ragedelta BeautifulNight Forquare Kamil2079 Mustathomi SirBenjamin Nunn breadbin123 AceWholes Anselm Evilpaperclip HundredMetal KimE12 anadir2

20000 30000 30000 40000 40000 40000 40000 40000 50000 80000 80000 80000 80000 80000 90000 100000 100000 100000 100000 100000 200000

david-vtdeathrock Jay88018 LboroSlider LifeLongGamer Pausanias828 Rrruby Shetland_ Overclcokers Vinneh JackDK kenco_uk SMauri Borden GrammarSchool chris_van_halen Dr3ster EgAp10 eplison3 JimmyMcRees Killaov luke7dude ReDeamer bigg

200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 300000 300000 300000 400000 400000 400000 400000 400000 400000 400000 400000 400000 500000

Fuse underground SazD Valinor rjcman th3_F15T Emello Ptarmigan RedPanther funkybrown andy_owen Exodeath matthewj25 Peter_Cowdell Scammelio toxic43 Neku ShortMunky

500000 500000 500000 600000 600000 700000 700000 700000 900000 1000000 1000000 1000000 1000000 1000000 1000000 2000000 2000000

Witness Cmaxx Tecnojedi droyden HoistaWheelie luckybfocus BGonz808 Lambo_uk TheAbyssDragon Abomin81on kirk_1701 Dolphin(CPC) jona Keith_Chung KevinWright kirk_hobson tarka_dahl

3000000 4000000 5000000 6000000 6000000 6000000 7000000 7000000 7000000 8000000 8000000 9000000 10000000 10000000 10000000 10000000 10000000

THE NEXT OVERTAKE
World rank Team name Points Daily points average Time until overtake

6 7 60

MaximumPC Magazine CustomPC& bit-tech CiscoSystems

6,390,287,554 5,952,001,152 609,753,290

5,022,962 5,432,379 6,773,168

2.9years 0 10.9Years

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TOP 20 OVERALL
Rank Username Points milestone
1 2

HTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET

TOP 20 PRODUCERS
Work units
109,944 144,678 93,954 143,123 15,794 60,132 33,071 72,296 5,759 46,592 35,899 10,818 7,398 3,107 45,372 39,214 58,823 33,780 53,464 86,309

Username
Dave_Goodchild DocJonz phoenicis coolamasta zz9pzza Lizard Christopher_N._Lewis StreetSam Wallace CustomBitChimps Nelio fir3x One_Box BennieboyUK saspro The_M2B Lordsoth Standin_wave PC_Rich PS3/LanDi

Points
401,543,724 278,868,156 223,349,417 217,852,937 211,014,628 131,878,662 107,595,529 107,003,868 103,999,195 94,389,094 89,019,233 67,165,172 64,863,162 61,286,969 57,534,603 56,743,914 54,827,743 51,592,717 50,639,205 48,446,611

Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Username
DocJonz Ben_Lamb Nelio Christopher_N._ Lewis Scorpuk coolamasta Shetland_ Overclockers Slowlemon Lambo_uk Wallace One_Box Lordsoth kirk_hobson _Fanatic Keith_Chung Dave_Goodchild fir3x debs3759 KevinWright The_M2B

Dailypointsaverage
448,334 402,226 262,412 234,530 230,673 189,641 154,277 147,785 136,863 135,180 121,861 118,899 114,313 111,332 109,363 108,799 95,702 89,735 82,704 79,736

Overallscore
278,868,156 24,504,139 89,019,233 107,595,529 26,675,895 217,852,937 21,240,053 15,682,077 7,152,272 103,999,195 64,863,162 54,827,743 10,092,928 19,000,882 10,905,665 401,543,724 67,165,172 12,622,759 10,029,225 56,743,914

apeman556 Ben_Lamb Scorpuk Shetland_ Overclockers davebodger PC_Rich Wallace Dave_Goodchild

20000000 20000000 20000000 20000000 40000000 50000000 100000000 400000000

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Coming next month in
Gaming laptops NZXT Phantom 820

LaptopsaremucheasiertotaketoLAN Laptops are much easier to take to LAN events than desktops, and some offer a eventsthandesktops,andsomeoffera decent amount of gaming power too. We decentamountofgamingpowertoo.We investigate several gaming laptops to find investigateseveralgaminglaptopstofind thebestdeal.

TheSilverStoneTJ11usedinour dreamPCbuildisn’ttheonlytop-end casedoingtherounds.Nextissue we’regoingtohaveaproperlookat NZXT’slatestwater-coolingchassis.

Shine up your PC

AntonyLeathershowsyouhowto applychromefilmtoyourchassis, potentiallygivinganymaterialthe appearanceofshiny,mirror-finish metal.

PSU braiding

Multi-colouredwiresmighttellyou whichwiregoestowhichpin,butthey alsolookuglyinanotherwiseneat build.Weshowyouhowtobraidyour cables,makingthemneatandtidy.
*Pleasenotethatthesestoriesaresubjecttoproductdelaysandkit notturningup,plusallthetimespentattendingcouriers’executions andfinishingoffallthemincepies.

On sale17 January, 2012

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Ben Hardwidge recalls the PC’s first expansion slot system, when memory, hard drives and even Sega Mega Drives could be put on expansion cards

ISA

E

vennow,wheneversomeonetalks The8-bitISAslotsinthe aboutputtingsomemoneyinanISA, originalIBMPC 5150 myimaginationinterruptstheflowof sensibleconversationwiththeimage ofsomeonewedgingawadofnotesbetween thepinsofan8-bitindustry-standard architecture(ISA)expansionslot.We’renow sousedtointegratedcomponentsthatwe forgetthattherewasatimewhendrive controllers,harddrivesandevenmemory wereoncemountedonseparateexpansion cards.ThesepluggedintoourPCs’chunky blackISAslots;withtheirgoldconnectors, thesewereastapleofPCsfor20years. Beginninglifeas8-bitslotsintheoriginal IBMPC5150,theISAstandardgaveIBMan easywaytoaddextrapartstothe5150’s motherboard,andvarytherangeofoptions onoffer.Eventhefloppydrivecontrollerinthe original5150wasmountedonanexpansion youwantedthememorytobeaddressed. enabledyoutoplugaSegaMegaDrive card,ratherthanthemotherboard.Ofcourse, Strangely,thisbizarresystemdidn’tcatchon. cartridgeintoaPCandplaySoniconyour therewereplentyofISAcardsthatwouldn’t Thesamealsogoesforhardcards.As Amstradmachine. surpriseyou,suchasnetworkcards, harddrivecontrollersweren’tincludedon Basically,iftherewasawayofupgrading modemsandsoundcards,butI’mnow motherboardsasstandard,oneoptionfora yourPCinsomeway,thenyoucouldprobably amazedatsomeofthekitweusedtomount systemsuchasmine(whichhadnoharddrive finditonanISAcard,andthiswasneeded,as onexpansioncardsintheolddays. orcontroller)wastobuyahardcard,which noteveryPCcamewithallthepartsyoumight Ipaidparticularattentiontothis,asmy mountedboththemechanicalharddriveand expect–yousometimesneededanexpansion firstPConlyhadtwo8-bitISAslots,which thecontrollerononeISAcard.Ofcourse, cardjusttogetaparallelprinterport.Heck, meantthatmyoptionswere evenCPUupgradescouldbe limited,particularlywhenthePC suppliedonISAcards. YOU EITHER HAD TO BUY DRAM inquestiondidn’thaveahard TheISAslotwentfrom8-bit CHIPS TO PUT IN YOUR driveorsoundcard,andalsohad to16-bit,andthentovariations awfulCGAgraphics,plusjust suchasEISAandVESAlocalbus MOTHERBOARD, OR BUY A LIM 512KBofRAMwhen640KBwas (basicallyaPCIslotwithanISA (LOTUS INTEL MICROSOFT) CARD thestandard. slotontheend),whileIBMtried Let’sstartwiththelatter,asthis tophaseitoutinfavourofMicro wasbeforethedaysofeasilyreplaceable manyPCshadharddrivecontrollersas Channel.Butthe16-bitISAslotlivedonfor memorymodules–therewerenoDIMMs. standard,makingthemeasiertoupgrade, years,evenlongafterPCIwasintroduced. Infact,thiswasevenbeforeSIMMs.Ifyou butthehardcardwasstillapopularoption. ISAfinallydiedoffabouttenyearsagoin wantedmorememory,youeitherhadtobuy PerhapsmyfavouritebizarreISA PCs(it’sstillactuallyusedinsomeindustrial DRAMchipstoputinyourmotherboard contraptionofalltime,however,isthe applications),butitslegacyremains.We yourself,oryouboughtaLIM(LotusIntel proprietarycardthatAmstradusedinits mightnotbeputtingmemoryandharddrives Microsoft)card,whichgaveyouanextra MegaPCrangeofgamingsystems.Aware onexpansioncardsanymore,butwe’restill chunkofmemoryonanISAexpansioncard. ofthefactthat,atthistime,thePCwasstill verymuchusingtheideaofexpandingour Itwasn’tassimpleasjustinstallingacard eclipsedbyconsolesintermsofthegameson PCsviamotherboardslots,andthe either–youthenhadtotellDOSexactlyhow offer,AmstradcameupwithanISAcardthat backplatesarestillthesameheighttoo.

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THE UPGRADE THEUPGRADE BUG

james GorBolD

W

It isn’t just new games that make you want to upgrade everything
killedthatdrive.UnliketheSSD,whichgraduallydiedoverseveral weeks,theharddisksimplywouldn’tpoweruponeday,soIcouldn’t retrieveanydatafromit. IdidlookintothepossibilityofreplacingthePCBinthehopeof resurrectingthedrivelongenoughtogetthedataoffit,butintheend, Idecidedthatthecostwasn’tworththeslimchanceofsuccess. Afterall,likeanysensiblePCenthusiast,Ikeepregularbackupsof mymostimportantfilesonmyNASbox.Theonlyproblemisthatmy NASboxkeepsrunningoutofspace.Ibrieflyconsideredtheideaof subscribingtoacloudstoragehost,butIreally don’tliketheideaofuploadingfilessuchastax recordsandothersensitivecommercialfiles ontosomebodyelse’sfilesystem.Ialsospent sometimespeccingupaWindowsHome ServerPC,butdecidedthathavingyetanother PCrunninginthehousealldayeveryday wasn’tveryenergy-efficient.Instead,Iordered four2TBdrivesandafour-bayNASbox. Sothereyouhaveit–justtwodrivesdied,but I’vemanagedtojustifybuyingawholenewPC, andanewNASboxwithfournewharddrives.Youonlyneedtostart browsingwhenyou’reonlylookingforonecomponent,andthen you’reintrouble.Whoknows–havingasecondNASboxmighteven preventmefromupgradingmymainrigagainshouldanything happentoanyofthedrivesstillinmymainrig.Thenagain,itwould berudenottoupgradeiftheopportunityarose,wouldn’tit? JamesGorboldfellinlovewiththeoriginalIBMPCintheearly 1980sandhasbeenbuilding,tweakingandoverclockingPCsever since.HehaswrittenanarticleinalmosteveryissueofCustom PCandnowhelpsScanComputerstodevelopnewsystems.

hileit’salltooeasyforPCenthusiaststogetcaughtup inthenever-endingcycleofCPU,motherboardand graphicscardupgrades,forthepastfewmonths,I’ve hadmyattention(forcibly)drawntothestoragemarketinstead. NotbecauseI’vesuddenlycontractedaseverecaseofcompulsive hoarding,butbecausetwodrivesinmyhomenetworkdiedrecently, promptinganear-ridiculousstringofknock-onpurchases.Itisn’tonly gamingthatpromptsyoutoupgradeeverything;I’vefoundyoucan justifywhole-systemupgradesviaalmostanymeans. ThefirstdrivetodiewasanOCZVertex;as anearlyadopterofSSDs,Iboughtthiswhenit wasreleased.However,earlySSDssuchasthe Vertexhadverybasicgarbage-collectionand wear-levellingsystems,soafterhammering thedrivethroughfouryearsofwritecycles, filesstartedtobecomecorrupt. Afteracoupleofweeksofthis,thedrivethen startedtoreadveryslowly,takingaroundten minutestobootintoWindows7.Finallyitdied altogether,leavingmewitha2.5inlumpof uselessplastic,metalandsilicon. Fortunately,Windows7takesfarlesstimetoinstallandconfigure thanpreviousversionsofWindows,soonceI’dboughtanewdrive(a Samsung830)Iwasabletogetitupandrunningrelativelyquickly. Except,asanygoodPCenthusiastknows,itwouldhavebeenrudenot totaketheopportunitytoupgradetherestofmyrigatthesametime. IthereforeendedupswappingouttheCPU,motherboard,RAM, graphicscardandPSUtoo;oh,andIswitchedtoanewcaseaswell. Still,atleastIcouldreducesomeoftheguiltofspendingsomuch moneyonupgradingbyclaimingthatIhadtransferredatleastone componentbetweenrigs–a1TBSamsungharddisk.However,just twomonthslater,thedatadevilstruckagainand,withoutwarning,

As any good PC enthusiast knows, it would be rude not to upgrade the rest of my rig at the same time

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Features
Key switch: N Key Roll over: Key strokes: Lighting: Lighting features: Connectors: Media keys: USB Hub: Audio ports: Cable: Extras: Dimensions: Wrist pad: Weight: Warranty: Software:

Cherry MX mechanical switch technology Full N-Key roll over via USB 50 Million Individual LED backlight on every key for enhanced visuals Four levels of brigthness allow you to locate keys easily Gold plated USB connectors for extremly low latency Media keys for volume control, play, pause and skip tracks Two high speed USB 2.0 ports 3.5mm headphone-out and microphone-in jacks 1.8 meter braided cable 4 extra orange key caps and key cap puller Keyboard: 44,8 x 14,9 x 3,5 cm (17,6 x 5,8 x 1,37 inch) 44,8 x 6,6 x 1,7 cm (17,6 x 2,48 x 0,66 inch) 1.27 Kg (2.8 LBS) 2 year Customizable profiles, programmable keys and macro recording

www.cclonline.com Call us on 08000 50 10 10
Prices correct at time of going to publishing (6th November 2012). I m a g e s a r e f o r i l l u s t r a t i v e p u r p o s e s o n l y. M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

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www.cclonline.com

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