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Managed IT Services

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    While hard disk drive vendors have managed to hit the mythical 10TB barrier, SSD manufacturers are not far behind. In fact, a little known Japanese company, Fixstars, has unveiled a 6TB SSD that can fit in some laptops.

    What makes it so special is that it's a 2.5-inch model compared to the 3.5-inch drives that are used in traditional computers – that translates into a much higher storage density, in other words, you can pack in more data per unit volume.

    The SSD-6000M uses 15nm MLC flash memory, providing read/write speeds of up to 540MBps and 520MBps respectively.

    There are actually bigger 2.5-inch SSDs on the market; in November last year, US-based Foremay outed an 8TB SATA 3 SSD drive, with AmpINC and Novachips already shipping 8TB models.

    10TB SSDs on the horizon

    What makes the Fixstars announcement stand out from the pack is the fact that it is a mere 9.5mm thick, thinner than the competition (which is generally 15mm thick).

    The SSD-6000M will be available towards the end of July for US customers with RoW ones likely to follow shortly after. Fixstars hasn't said how much they will cost but expect these drives to come at a very significant premium.

    The next big capacity jump is likely to occur at 10TB with Intel and Micron having already committed to such devices over the next few months.

    Like the aforementioned pair, Samsung on one side and SanDisk and Toshiba on the other will use 3D NAND flash technology to deliver drives that may well surpass the capacity of hard disk drives, albeit at a steep cost.

    Best hard drive deals in the UK: Our top 30 storage recommendations of 2015

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    Intro, solutions 1 and 2

    Mobile technologies – like smartphones, laptops and tablets – are enabling road warriors to stay productive when away from their desks. The downside is that sometimes when you're working remotely, you'll encounter an email or document that needs to be printed, but you're nowhere near a printer.

    Likely, you'll flag it or make a mental note to convert these digital files to analog paper when you return to your office, but chances are you'll forget to revisit your print queue. To overcome the battle between the analog and the digital, here are some simple solutions to printing while mobile:

    1. Take your printer on the road

    You definitely won't want to carry around a 40-pound (18.1kg) office printer and a portable generator in your car just to print in between appointments. Fortunately, companies like Canon and Epson offer wireless travel printers with batteries that make mobile printing as simple as mobile computing.

    Examples of these solutions include the Canon Pixma iP110 ($249, £158, AU$307) and Epson WorkForce WF-100 ($249, £158, AU$307). Delivering print speeds of approximately six pages-per-minute in black-and-white and three pages-per-minute in color, either printer will be able to handle your business documents and office files.

    The WF-100 weighs about the same as an Ultrabook, coming in at 3.5 pounds (1.6kg), and measures 12.2 x 6.1 x 2.4 inches (31.0 x 15.5 x 6.1cm). The iP110 weighs slightly more at 4.3 pounds (2kg) and shares similar dimensions to the Epson, measuring 12.7 x 7.3 x 2.5 inches (32.3 x 18.5 x 6.4cm).

    The battery is included in the cost of the Epson mobile printer but not with the Canon. It's definitely an accessory that you should invest in if you want to print from the road.

    These solutions are great for lawyers, insurance adjusters in the field, contractors who need legal documents signed in person and the executive who may need the occasional hard copy while traveling.

    2. Cut the cord

    If you're working at a remote office, shared office space or a location that has a workgroup printer, all you need is your phone. If you can connect to the same network that the shared printer is connected to, you can use AirPrint on an iPhone or download a printing app for the printer from the app store and print wirelessly.

    Many big printer manufacturers – Canon, Epson, HP, Ricoh, Samsung, Brother and Konica Minolta – offer mobile print apps that allow you to print without much configuration from a phone or tablet. Unfortunately, this solution may not work everywhere, as it requires you to tap into the same Wi-Fi network as the printer, which could be a security imposition on your host.

    Some office printers, like the HP Color LaserJet MFP M277dw ($429, £273, AU$528), also offer NFC printing. Owners of NFC-equipped Android and Windows devices can tap their phones and tablets to the printer to initiate printing. Unfortunately, the NFC chip on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is locked to Apple Pay and won't work with NFC printing.

    Solution 3, scanning

    3. Go remote

    Just because you're out of range of an office's Wi-Fi network doesn't mean you can't print wirelessly. Many printers not only connect to the Wi-Fi network, but are also connected to the internet with their own IP addresses.

    Provided you don't require the prints immediately, you can send print jobs to your network-connected printer from anywhere in the world if you're connected to the internet. Then, when you get back to your office, your completed prints will be waiting for you.

    If your printer supports remote printing off-network, your manufacturer will enable this feature in the mobile app, similar to Wi-Fi printing. Each manufacturer will have slightly different instructions on configuring the app.

    Once the feature is configured, you can use the manufacturer's print app to navigate the internet, go to your cloud storage account or access your emails to print what you need.

    I've started to use this feature more when I am working remotely from a coffee shop or checking office emails at lunch, and it has helped me not miss an important document that I otherwise would have forgotten to print.

    Not just for printing

    If you need the scanning feature from your multifunction office printer, you can also scan on the go. There are portable wireless scanners, like the Epson WorkForce DS-30 ($89, £57, AU$110), if you need a hardware solution.

    If you want to cut down on devices to carry while traveling, today's smartphones and tablets come with capable cameras, and there are plenty of third-party scanner apps that allow you to snap a picture of the document you need scanned. Many of these apps will automatically determine the edges of the paper, unskew your photo so it looks like you're taking a scan instead of an off-angled photograph and make crops to trim the background.

    If your office has an Adobe subscription, Adobe's Document Cloud service is included in that cost. The cloud-connected mobile app lets you take a photo of your document, save it to the cloud as a PDF, edit it, sign it and password protect it.

    Microsoft users should also look at Office Lens, which comes with optical character recognition (OCR) and can convert captured documents into PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint files. There is integration with OneNote, and you can also "scan" receipts and business cards.

    And if you're fortunate enough to have a team working with you at the office, they can also use the workgroup multifunction printers to send scans to a shared folder, cloud drive or email address to give you access to physical documents stored at the office that you need while remote.

    Read our picks for the best printers

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    Intel has agreed a deal with eASIC to develop a new breed of customised Xeon chip designed for specific workloads like security and big data that can cut the time-to-market for chips in half.

    The collaboration is part of Intel's plan to get reprogrammable technology inside its Xeon processors and bring a greater level of performance and power at a more competitive price level.

    In order to bring that new level of customisation to its chips, eASIC will integrate its renowned platform technology with future Intel Xeon chips to bring a highly customised and integrated hardware solution to cloud service providers.

    The new technology will reportedly enable acceleration of up to two times that of a field programmable gate array (FPGA) for workloads like security and big data analytics, and accelerate the time-to-market for custom application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) development by up to 50%.

    Intel hand-picked eASIC to provide the technology because it can increase flexibility and fast-time-to-market compared to traditional ASICs as well as increased performance and lower power consumption when up against FPGAs.

    No confirmation on the chips

    "Having the ability to highly customise our solutions for a given workload will not only make the specific application run faster, but also help accelerate the growth of exciting new applications like visual search," said Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Centre Group.

    Neither firm clarified the Xeon chips that will be getting the eASIC treatment beyond stating that it will be "future Intel Xeon processors".

    Check it out: Intel wants to squeeze ARM out of server market with Xeon D

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    Poor hard disk drive; advances in silicon manufacturing have allowed solid state drives to capture the headlines leaving the traditional spindle-spinning devices in the shadows. But things are about to get more exciting for the latter.

    Toshiba made an important announcement yesterday as it unveiled a new solution that essentially is a new class of server (the Japanese company calls it a multi-device storage solution), one that integrates, in an industry-standard, 3.5-inch form factor, compute (64-bit, probably ARM), networking (Gigabit Ethernet) and storage (with a pinch of SSD storage for low latency tasks and onboard RAM).

    Future iterations – we guess - could include an all-SSD model, a 2.5-inch one or even, may be, just may be, a 5.25-inch model.

    The whole set is enabled by an unidentified Linux platform that will allow the device to run what Toshiba calls, the next generation of software-defined storage applications.

    The HDD becomes the server

    The implications for the industry are tremendous; such a solution could allow data centres to offer a richer set of scale-out object storage features.

    From Toshiba's perspective, adding compute and networking features helps maintain margins while simplifying the overall calculation of total cost of ownership (TCO) and the infrastructure needed, removing what it calls commodity servers used for storage management.

    The other announcement that dovetails nicely with it is that Toshiba has finally committed to deploying SMR technology, well after WD and Seagate.

    Interestingly, the company managed to produce two products that shows its skills when it comes to cramming bits on a platter. The Canvio 3TB, an external 2.5-inch hard disk drive, managed to packs four 750GB platters in a tiny 15mm drive using perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) only.

    In addition, late last year, it debuted a 6TB hard disk drive that apparently squeezed six 1TB platters without the need of helium gas – like HGST - or any other exotic technologies. That drive is likely to be at the heart of Tosihba's new storage solution.

    More coming up later

    Switching to SMR, commonly known as shingles, will increase the storage density significantly perhaps as much as 40% meaning that the Canvio 3TB could pack as much as 4TB.

    It will also include a random write penalty though which might explain why it might be useful to pack a small amount of fast-storage and compute on the drive itself.

    It is likely that other vendors will follow suit. When we interviewed Seagate's Joe Fagan in March, he hinted that his company may and more processing power to the hard drive as its remit goes beyond just holding bits.

    Adding compute would allow it to take on more tasks like inline de-duplication and real-time compression. Most enterprise drives already do encryption.

    "It would need to be done in relationship with the wider industry", he added back then. Don't be surprised if WD (or rather its subsidiary HGST) and Seagate do the same as Toshiba's move seems to be motivated by customer demand.

    The affordability of compute power, the increasing diversity of compute solutions, maturing technologies (both on the integration and manufacturing sides) and the rise in competition can only mean good news for storage manufacturers that want to move up the stack.

    Read SDN and HAMR are key to Seagate's near future

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    SanDisk promises an even more affordable solid state drive with its newly unveiled Z400s. With capacities ranging from 32GB to 256GB, SanDisk claims that the Z400s brings all the benefits of solid state storage – including reliability, performance and low power consumption – at a cost that is competitive with traditional hard disk drives.

    The Z400s is targeted at the embedded space for use in vertical markets as well as the mainstream computing market. SanDisk is positioning the drive as an affordable entry level solution, joining the company's X series and performance A series SSDs.

    "With a single architecture, SanDisk is able to provide OEMs with an affordable solution for displacing HDDs in today's cutting edge consumer devices, and help embedded application designers avoid overpaying for un-needed space – all while delivering the peak performance and high-reliability that only SSDs can supply," said Rizwan Ahmed, senior director of product marketing, client platform solutions, SanDisk.

    Features

    The Z400s is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities in mSATA, 2.5-inch SATA and M.2 (2242 and 2280) form factors. SanDisk says that the drives can be used in mainstreaming computing to bring the benefits of solid state storage to affordable-priced entry-level notebooks.

    For mainstream computing use, the drive fits inside popular mSATA enclosures with a 7mm height. SanDisk claims that the Z400s has a read speed of 550MB/s and a write speed of 380MB/s. These speeds are not too far off from the company's high-end 240GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD ($140, £91, AU$180), which has a 550MB/s read speed and a 520MB/s write speed.

    Even though SanDisk did not announce specific pricing, the company told TechRadar that the drives features a lower total cost of ownership compared to current solid state drives (SSD), and that the Z400s will be priced comparable to hard disk drives (HDD). For comparison, a 250GB Western Digital 2.5-inch hard drive currently retails for $47 (£30, AU$60) on Amazon while a 256GB SSD from rival Samsung costs around $100 (£65, AU$128).

    Laptop use

    SanDisk says that the Z400s uses less power than hard drives, with up to 20 times lower power consumption. The Z400s runs on as little as 30mW of power. When used in a mainstream computing laptop, this means that the laptop can run longer on battery power.

    "By designing systems with the new SanDisk Z400s SSD, PC OEMs can deliver products that are 5x more reliable and 20x faster than traditional hard drives, translating into fewer returns, lower total cost of ownership and increased overall customer satisfaction," said SanDisk.

    Enterprise use

    For embedded applications, SanDisk is positioning the Z400s for use in automotive black boxes, security systems and point-of-sales machines. Because solid state drives feature fast boot times, increased reliability and durability compared to hard drives, the Z400s should be a good fit for these types of solutions.

    The fast boot times will help businesses stay productive and retain customers if they need to restart their POS machines. "Research shows that customers become frustrated after 2.5 minutes if there is no progress in a checkout line; after five minutes, one out of three customers will abandon the line altogether," SanDisk said of the benefit of transitioning to solid state storage.

    SanDisk is currently sampling the drives to customers.

    Read our picks for the best Ultrabooks on the market

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    Asus has launched a slew of products featuring Nvidia's frame-synching G-Sync technology at Computex 2015.

    First up is the ROG 3800R 34-inch curved G-Sync monitor, which sports a 3,440 x 1,440 pixel-resolution resolution with a 'cinematic' 21:9 aspect ratio, G-Sync, DisplayPort and HDMI.

    A second panel, the ROG Swift PG279Q, is a 27-inch panel with a WQHD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440. One for gamers with beefy rigs, it comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, G-Sync, and features DisplayPort and HDMI connections.

    Sync or swim

    Not everything came with G-Sync inside, however; the ROG G751JT/JY is a gaming notebook that comes with an Intel Core i7 CPU and is configurable with up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M mobile graphics chip.

    It's joined by the Asus ROG G501, an ultra-thin gaming laptop that also comes with an Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 900 series graphics, a 4K or UHD display and Asus's Hyper Cool tech that helps keep temperatures down under heavy load.

    Asus also lifted the lid on the ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Ti graphics card, which the company claims delivers cooler temperatures, improve noised reduction and three times quieter performance compared to the GTX 980.

    No pricing or launch dates have been revealed at this point.

    Asus's new Transformer Book looks like a Surface 3 wannabe

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    Intro and computing cores

    After a series of teases, AMD has officially taken the veils off of Carrizo, launching the anticipated notebook A8 and A10 processors as part of the Sixth Generation A-Series APU, or accelerated processing unit. In a presentation in San Francisco, California ahead of the launch, AMD said that it is targeting Carrizo to the 63 million consumers who buy a mainstream laptop every year priced between $400 (£263, AU$524) and $700 (£560, AU$917).

    With the Sixth Generation A-Series APU, AMD wants your notebook to be the ideal connected, versatile hub in your digital life, noting that the integrated processing and graphics core are designed for productivity, gaming and entertainment.

    AMD says that its Sixth Generation APU will be available soon in notebooks from Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Toshiba and HP. For consumers, Carrizo promises to deliver discrete-class graphics at an affordable price. AMD says that in the past, users had to upgrade to a premium laptop if they needed more GPU power – even for light or moderate gaming – but Carrizo aims to satisfy the graphics needs of mainstream notebook users.

    12 computing cores

    The Sixth Generation A-Series comes with four Excavator CPU cores and eight third generation GCN graphics cores that are able to fully share system resources, like memory and RAM. AMD claims that the Sixth Generation chip is the first to use the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) 1.0 design.

    This gives the processor a total of 12 computing cores, and according to AMD, this setup is capable of delivering up to two times faster gaming performance compared to rival processors and more than twice the battery life from the prior generation APU.

    The chip is also the first to support High Efficiency Video Coding (HVEC) decoding for mainstream notebooks. HEVC, or H.265 file formats, videos provide for uninterrupted, smooth video playback with full CPU offload at up to 60 fps. This means that videos will be smoother and notebook batteries will last twice as long while playing video content.

    The HEVC format is supported by Amazon Prime videos and natively in Windows 10.

    Performance and graphics

    Performance comparison

    AMD has squeezed out better performance and more battery life out of its APU with a 28nm chip design, DDR3 memory and HSA 1.0 specifications. This is quite impressive considering that rival Intel has transitioned over to a power efficient 14nm design, yet AMD claims its processor delivers stronger battery life.

    General computing battery life has been improved from about 3.3 hours from the previous generation APU to 8.3 hours on the current model, according to specs released by AMD. What's even more impressive is that battery life while rendering video is also vastly superior compared to the competition. The AMD SoC is capable of 300 minutes of video playback compared to about 112 minutes on system utilizing Intel chips.

    Because of HSA 1.0 compliance, graphics performance of Carrizo is superior to Intel's Core i3 CPU coupled with an Nvidia GeForce GT 740 GPU, according to Adam Kozak, AMD's product marketing manager.

    In fact, Kozak claims that graphics performance is twice as powerful as the integrated graphics on Intel's Core i7 processor. AMD says that HSA 1.0 essentially gives everyone big data capabilities because of the processing power that is now available to mainstream users.

    Graphics

    Even though AMD is focusing on mainstream performance, gaming and entertainment at this time with the Sixth Generation A-Series, Kozak confirmed with TechRadar that the company is working to get its chips inside more mobile workstations. Mobile workstations today use either Intel's integrated graphics in a power-saving mode when not subjected to heavy workloads, with a discrete Nvidia GPU that kicks in whenever the system demands it.

    To compete against these system, Kozak says that AMD's APU can work with a multi-GPU environment. With dual-graphics support, mobile workstations can be configured to take advantage of a secondary discrete AMD Radeon GPU for added performance. AMD says that it will release the APIs to give developers explicit control for more powerful multi-GPU performance. We'll have to see how this setup fares in benchmarks compared to systems utilizing Intel processors and Nvidia graphics.

    Kozak says that the APU already comes with "discrete-class graphics," leveraging the power of an AMD Radeon R7 or R6 GPU inside the APU.

    For business users who require a multi-monitor setup when at the office, the Sixth Generation A-Series can drive up to three simultaneous displays. In AMD's demo room comparing video performance of the A-Series to Intel's Core i-series, videos rendered with the AMD chipset appear far smoother. Videos rendered with Intel's mainstream Core i5 processor look more like a slideshow with very low framerates.

    Additionally, with improved color compression on the APU for video and graphics, I found that pictures, videos and games appear brighter and more vibrant when rendered using an AMD processor compared to rival Intel's chipset at the demo station had set up.

    The APU is also DirectX 12-ready.

    Excavator Core

    Kozak and his team says the reason the APU is able to deliver superior graphics performance is because of the chipset's low power target. This creates a virtuous cycle so the cooler the system runs, the less power it needs to cool down, which means that it can stay cool longer, while driving heavy loads. The company says this creates thermal headroom, so if needed, the chips can run use more power to run faster and exploit the thermal margin created.

    The excavator core is also separated from the memory interface in AMD's thermal architecture to keep hot components away from each other.

    AMD says that the Sixth Generation APU achieves a 23% area reduction in the same 28nm technology node as the prior generation APU. This leads to increased frequency for up to 39% more performance and IPC enhancements that deliver an additional 9-13% more performance.

    The result is an increase in up to 55% more performance in key benchmarks, such as Cinebench, a tool that we use at TechRadar to test laptops and desktops.

    Security and innovations

    Security

    The Sixth Generation A-Series also comes with its own dedicated 32-bit ARM A5 processor embedded inside. The capabilities of the ARM chipset will be extended to select third-party developers to keep things secure. The ARM core on the APU SoC creates a secure container.

    The ARM chipset is like having a TPM inside the A-Series SoC, says Jason Bantam, AMD's director of mobility solutions. There is also a cryptographic co-processor that handles encryption.

    When asked about mobile workstations with discrete and integrated AMD graphics, Bantam says that the company will be making those announcements at a later date.

    AMD innovations

    To showcase the power of its APU, AMD has also created software that takes advantage of the stronger processing performance. AMD Looking Glass is an application that recognizes faces inside videos, so you can search for specific faces of people inside videos. It's like image searches, but for video clips.

    Additionally, the APU also supports gestures and Windows 10. Even though Kozak would not comment on Windows Hello support, he alluded that the APU will be able to handle Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello for added security.

    The chipset will also support ARM Trustzone apps, Secure boot and resume, TPM, and drive key encryption for enterprise users.

    We'll need to get our hands on final production units of laptops running AMD's Sixth Generation APU to see how they compare against their Intel counterparts before making any final verdicts, but the demos that AMD had set up show promise.

    Read our analysis on why smaller is better when it comes to CPU design

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    System memory (or RAM) is the cheapest replaceable storage solution in a computer. 32GB can cost around £140 and supercomputers use a lot of them, terabytes at a time in many cases.

    Researchers at the MIT have come up with a more affordable solution for the so-called HPC (high performance computing) market - for now, at least.

    They intend to replace RAM (Random Access Memory) with a smarter solution that uses much cheaper flash memory (1TB for about £240) and can do some of the work on the controller.

    Each controller comes with a FPGA with 500GB of flash memory, each being reprogrammable depending on the application being run.

    RAM on PC will live on for now

    The initial gains appear to be most visible in databases or big data applications like Image Search, Google PageRank and Memcached.

    For now though, it is unlikely that this solution will replace dynamic RAM any time soon. What is likely to happen is that system memory and main memory will merge.

    HP is already working on Memristor, the Graal of unified memory, which was supposed to be one of the main features of The Machine, its revolutionary new computer.

    The project was sponsored by Quanta, Samsung and Xilinx, all of whom have a keen interest in the research.

    How universal memory will replace DRAM, flash and SSDs

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    In an effort to get PC users to upgrade their aging hard disk drives to better performing solid state drives, SanDisk is rolling out a new help desk service to provide the tools, software and instructions needed for customers to perform the upgrade. SanDisk calls the service the SanDisk SSD Concierge Service, which provides live video support to customers looking to upgrade their HDDs to replace failing SSDs inside their systems.

    The service provides support for all SanDisk consumer solid state drives.

    "Once data has been successfully migrated, consumers will have the ability to schedule a video conference via mobile device with a SanDisk technician, who will walk them through the final steps of removing the existing storage device and installing their new SSD," SanDisk said in a statement.

    Benefits

    There are many benefits to upgrading to a solid state drive, including faster speeds and better system performance. SSDs can also help extend a laptop's battery life as it runs cooler, doesn't require a spinning disk and uses less power, SanDisk said.

    SanDisk will sell its $39 (£24, AU$53) service package at Amazon and TigerDirect.

    Alternatively, if you don't need SanDisk's live video support, you can check out our general guide on replacing your existing drive yourself.

    Read our picks for the best SSDs for Macs

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    Introduction

    Just about any household with broadband internet will have a wireless router supplied by the service provider – but there are plenty of good reasons to buy a newer, more powerful model.

    Your existing router may be a bit long in the tooth, and that means it doesn't have the latest hardware, or support all the modern wireless networking standards, such as 802.11ac, which can deliver much better network speeds and range thanks to directional beamforming, meaning faster downloads and quicker web browsing.

    Latest and greatest

    The majority of new laptops, tablets and smartphones now support 802.11ac, so if you're still using a router from five years ago, you could be missing out.

    You may also be tempted by some of the other recent advances in router technology. Most routers now have powerful software which makes it much easier to manage a home network, for example to accomplish tasks such as creating rules for parental controls, or simply carrying out maintenance tasks. They also come with USB ports to share storage like a NAS, or share printers to any computer in your house.

    If you fancy upgrading, then here are the best 10 wireless routers you can purchase.

    Also check out: Every home internet router needs this super simple app

    1. AVM Fritz! Box 3490

    German engineering

    Speed: ADSL/VDSL modem, 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 450 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 2 x USB 3.0 port

    See more AVM Fritz! Box 3490 deals

    NAS-like management Ports Lacks some high-end features

    The Fritz! Box range from German engineering wizard AVM is known for two things – rock solid reliability and superb software to adjust your network and internet connection settings. While the 3490 may lack the support for DECT cordless phones and the landline telephony functions found in the high-end 7000-series Fritz! models, it's a lot more affordable while still offering good performance and plenty of useful features.

    With its built-in VDSL modem, the 3490 works with cable, fibre and DSL internet connections, with triple-stream 802.11ac support for wireless speeds of up to 1300 Mbit/sec. It has two USB 3.0 ports for the best possible transfer speeds from any storage device you connect to it, with NAS-like management functions built into the software.

    Read the full review: AVM Fritz! Box 3490


    2. Asus RT-AC87U

    Router touts impressive Wi-Fi performance

    Speed: 1733 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, DD-WRT compatible

    See more Asus RT-AC87U deals

    Fast Wi-Fi speeds Ports More expensive than other routers

    Although it's not the most affordable router on the market, the Asus RT-AC87U is one of the best, as it offers ultra-fast 4x4 802.11ac wireless speeds, with the potential for record-breaking performance.

    In our tests we found it to be capable of some of the fastest speeds we'd ever seen over a wireless connection, with additional support for up to 600 Mbit/sec 5GHz 802.11n speeds (although this depends on your client adaptor, as with other routers).

    But it's the software that really makes the RT-AC87U stand out. It's easy to use, and packed with features for both novices and users with advanced networking knowledge. Among its many features are a comprehensive QoS (Quality of Service) system and parental controls that are a doddle to set up, along with a download manager and cloud file backup.

    Read the full review: Asus RT-AC87U


    3. Linksys XAC1900

    Feature-packed router is nice... for a price

    Speed: ADSL modem, 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port

    See more Linksys XAC1900 deals

    Straightforward software Inbuilt DLS modem Expensive

    The software in the Linksys XAC1900 is perhaps the most straightforward to use of any router, with a really clear layout to take you around its various functions. It allows you to control the router remotely, so you can connect to your home network from any other location, anywhere in the world.

    The XAC1900 comes with a DSL modem built into the power supply, keeping cables neatly out of the way. Its wireless performance is adequate, with simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz wireless support for 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac and all other standards, including 802.11n/g/b/a. There's also the usual four gigabit Ethernet ports, with a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port.

    Read the full review: Linksys XAC1900


    4. TP-Link Archer D9 ADSL modem router

    Long-range router can hook up to your phone line

    Speed: 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, DD-WRT compatible

    See more TP-Link Archer D9 deals

    Built-in ADSL modem Long-range performance No status LEDS on ethernet ports

    TP-Link's routers are usually some of the most affordable around, providing a straightforward upgrade path to fast 802.11ac wireless speeds. Although the Archer D9 isn't quite as affordable as its predecessors, it adds a few extra features that make this model one of TP-Link's flagship products.

    The Archer D9 comes with a built-in ADSL modem, which means you can connect it directly to your telephone line, replacing whatever hardware your ISP provides. There's also a USB 3.0 port at the back for shared storage or printers, along with the standard array of ports.

    It supports 3x3 802.11ac wireless for speeds of up to 1300 Mbit/sec and 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n, and it was a great performer in our tests, especially at range. The software isn't quite as polished as some of the efforts on the really high-end models in this list, but it has plenty of features and is easy to use. Overall, this is a router that works superbly well.

    Read the full review: TP-Link Archer D9


    5. Buffalo AirStation Extreme AC1900

    Affordable router was king a few years ago

    Speed: 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, DD-WRT compatible

    See more Buffalo AirStation Extreme AC1900 deals

    Ports Comprehensive software Open source software can be fiddly

    Buffalo's triple antenna AirStation Extreme AC1900 is capable of 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac speeds, with support for 600 Mbit/sec TurboQAM over 802.11n as well. It supports dual-frequency wireless with simultaneous 2.4GHz/5GHz. There's a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port, joining the standard four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and single WAN port.

    The software is well featured too, with web filtering and parental controls fed with data from anti-virus experts Symantec, and a Priority Control QoS (Quality of Service) system.

    Read the full review: Buffalo AirStation Extreme AC1900


    6. Trendnet TEW-818DRU

    User-friendly model is also environment-friendly

    Speed: 867 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 300 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, DD-WRT compatible

    See more Trendnet TEW-818DRU deals

    Performance Easy setup No wall mount

    Trendnet's book-shaped TEW-818DRU offers excellent performance with 1300 Mbit/sec 3x3 802.11ac wireless and 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n TurboQAM. It has the usual array of Ethernet ports, with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports for shared storage, and a small master power button to cut energy consumption when it's not in use.

    It's a doddle to set up too, with some fairly comprehensive software that includes parental controls, QoS (Quality of Service) management and Dynamic DNS support. Although if you don't like Trendnet's software, the TEW-818DRU is compatible with the open-source DD-WRT firmware.

    Read the full review: Trendnet TEW-818DRU


    7. Belkin AC1200DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit

    Where affordability meets performance

    Speed: 867 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 300 Mbit/sec 802.11n | 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 2 x USB 3.0 ports

    See more Belkin AC1200DB deals

    Affordable Ports Isn't the fastest router around

    If you're put off by the high prices of 802.11ac hardware, Belkin's more affordable AC1200DB router might be for you. It may only be capable of 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac for 867 Mbit/sec speeds, but currently, the overwhelming majority of 802.11ac wireless adaptors in Windows laptops can only handle that speed anyway.

    And in every other respect, it's a solid router. It supports older standards just fine, with dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz support for 802.11n/g/b/a devices, and it has a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the back for storage or printer sharing. Unless you're desperate for the very fastest wireless speeds, you're unlikely to be disappointed.

    Read the full review: Belkin AC1200DB

    8. Netgear Nighthawk X4 R7500

    Tri-band router benefits from an upgraded interface

    Speed: 1733 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 4 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x eSATA port

    See more DIR-890-L Wireless AC3200 Tri-Band Router deals

    Ports 802.11ac Requires compatible adaptors

    Shaped like a stealth bomber, Netgear's flagship Nighthawk X4 is one of the most powerful routers we've ever tested. Like the Asus RT-AC87U, it has four antennas, so it supports 1733 Mbit/sec 4x4 MIMO 802.11ac for the fastest possible performance, although it similarly requires a compatible wireless adapter or client to enjoy those speeds.

    This router also has plenty of support for external storage, with both a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port. Although the software doesn't look quite as modern as you find on other routers, there are still plenty of useful functions within it, rounding off a solid networking product.

    9. D-Link DIR-890-L Wireless AC3200

    The king of speed works with Windows and OS X

    Speed: Up tp 3200Mbps (600N on 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps + 1300mbps on 5GHz | Connectivity: 4x gigabit ethernet ports, 1x gigabit ethernet WAN port, 2x USB 3 port, DD-WRT compatible

    See more DIR-890-L Wireless AC3200 Tri-Band Router deals

    High speeds Intuitive interface Odd-looking

    With six antennas on the outside, and a red tent-like body, the DIR-890-L is possibly the weirdest looking router ever made. The six antennas allows for three concurrent wireless networks, two 5GHz 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac networks with a third for 600 Mbit/sec 802.11n speeds , brought together into one SSID with the SmartConnect feature. Behind the scenes, this lets the router work out the rough positioning of a device that's connected to it, then allocate the best speeds depending on its distance.

    D-Link has recently upgraded its software interface with a more intuitive design too, with a few extra features thrown in. It can be set up via a mobile app without needing to go through the hassle of logging in at a computer, and allows for remote monitoring via mydlink Cloud, along with media sharing directly from any connected storage too.

    10. Apple Airport Extreme

    Works without fuss on Macs

    Speed: 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, 450 Mbit/sec 802.11n | Connectivity: 3 x gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 x gigabit Ethernet WAN port, 1 x USB 2.0 port

    See more Apple Airport Extreme deals

    Works with Airport Utility Powerful specs Lacks internal storage

    Apple's Airport Extreme router works with both PCs and Macs, but it's better suited to OS X users thanks to a nifty program bundled with every Mac called Airport Utility. Instead of having to go through on-board software via a web browser, you can set up and configure the Airport Extreme using this program, and on Macs at least, it works fantastically well.

    The AirPort Extreme is also a powerful piece of networking hardware. The latest 6th-generation model supports 1300 Mbit/sec 802.11ac, along with simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz support for 802.11n/g/b/a. It has three gigabit Ethernet ports, a WAN port and a USB 2.0 port to share printers or external storage.

    Apple also sells a variant with a built-in hard disk for over-the-air Time Machine backups. Called the AirPort Time Capsule, it offers all the same networking features as the AirPort Extreme, but with the addition of either a 2TB or 3TB hard disk, you'll be able to back up and restore your Mac's system files remotely.


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    If you're hoping to transfer demanding loads of data quicker, Sony has a new lineup of RAID products designed for you. Small businesses and video production professionals will be particularly excited for these disks, which bring 4K content transfers to small businesses and individuals that deal with tons of data.

    The two portable disks come in 6TB and 4TB capacities that are capable of handling 4K content workloads. The PSZ-RA4T (4TB) and PSZ-RA6T (6TB) offer read/write transfer speeds up to 440MB/s.

    You can chain up to six of these disks via Thunderbolt to create a massive storage network of up to 36TB. Each unit is built in a durable chassis that can handle shocks and vibration – ideal for organizations that require data transfer from off-site locations like factories and fields.

    Why this is cool

    Typical 4-6TB RAIDs can transfer low-format data at around 400MB/s. However, as the file sizes increase and move toward large-format content such as 4K video, these transfer speeds typically drop to about 110MB/s.

    If the Sony units can read and write 4K data at anywhere close to the advertised 440MB/S, then you're looking at a major improvement, especially for units designed for small businesses and professional users.

    Unfortunately, because this is just an announcement, we haven't tested the units. If the advertised transfer speed is close to its actual performance, this will be a victory for Sony.

    A memory card too

    Sony also introduced a 256GB memory card, the SxS PRO+, that can record up to 40 minutes of 4K footage.

    This is memory card is designed to enable video professionals to transfer large amounts of content from recording locations to the studio for editing and long-term storage.

    "As 4K content rapidly becomes a standard in the industry, the demand for larger capacity, mobile storage options has grown," said Bill Cubellis, Director of Professional and Storage Media Sales & Marketing at Sony Electronics, in a statement. "Sony's entry into RAIDs and higher capacity memory cards offer solutions that meet the needs of today's content creators, who require a fast, efficient, portable and dependable workflow, and the ability to store all of the action from a day's shoot in one place."

    Availability

    The RAID units will be available in November and the memory card will be available in October. Pricing for each unit has yet to be determined.

    Need a NAS? Try one of the 10 best on the market

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    At the Global SSD Summit, Samsung is pushing solid state drives as not just the technology of the future, but the technology that users need today to keep up with the speeds available wired and wireless technologies. With new protocols, such as USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 5G mobile broadband, hard disk drives pose as the bottleneck to the computing experience.

    Traditional hard disk drives rely on the SATA III protocol, which is capped at 6Gbps. Up until 2015, this speed was more than sufficient. Hard drives based on the SATA II and SATA III protocol could keep pace with existing wired and wireless standards, like USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11n.

    However, as PCs begin supporting newer, faster standards, for the first time in computing history, the venerable hard disk drive isn't able to keep up.

    Faster technology

    New computers today are beginning to support faster technology, such as USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac. These technologies bring faster data transfer speeds than SATA III's 6Gbps cap.

    For example, USB 3.1 can transfer data up to 10GBps, and Thunderbolt 3 can reach speeds up to 20Gbps, speeds in excess of SATA III's 6Gbps. In the future, 5G mobile broadband, the technology that will replace 4G LTE, allows data transfers up to 1Tbps.

    With these faster speeds, SATA III and the hard drive that relies on this data connection protocol will become obsolete, said Ryan Smith, Senior Product Manager of SSD Marketing at Samsung Semiconductor.

    SSDs and NVMe

    New Samsung solid state drives rely on the non-volatile memory express, or NVMe, protocol, which delivers faster CPU to data storage performance and reduced latency. Smith says that this is the technology of the future, as SSDs that use NVMe can keep up with the wired and wireless technologies available today.

    The benefit to an NVMe-based drive is that these SSDs are able to process multiple queues of data, and as such are suitable for workstations and servers. This allows servers to process simultaneous I/O requests.

    Samsung highlighted live broadcast video as one example where SSDs are more suitable than hard drives.

    Simultaneous data requests

    In a presentation, Peter Morrone, Senior Vice President of Product Engineering for Chyron, described the process for which graphics are overlaid on top of live video feeds. One example of Chyron's technology is live animations and graphics on sports broadcasting.

    "We've used a variety of different storage media," Morrone said, "But SSDs have made such a significant impact on our business: time to market, time to manufacture and provide a better user experience"

    In the past, graphic overlays were done in post-production, meaning they weren't available for live broadcasts. However, because NVMe allows Chyron partners to process multiple queues of data simultaneously, a video feed can be downloaded, edited and uploaded while another clip uploaded. This reduces downtime and allows for live broadcast with real-time graphic overlays.

    SSDs allow sports broadcasters to fulfill their goals, Morrone said. Broadcasters are able to deliver a better user experience by telling better stories with better visuals.

    Global SSD demand

    Samsung estimates that the global demand for NAND memory this year alone is 84 billion GB, and that this number will more than double by 2019 to 209 billion GB of data. Smartphones are the primary drivers for memory consumption today, but SSD growth will outpace smartphone memory consumption moving forward.

    Consumers are paying more attention to SSDs for its increase in reliability, capacity and performance, according to Samsung's research. 38% of consumers shopping for a notebook know what an SSD is, and one in three laptops today ship with an SSD, which is made possible due to the declining cost of storage.

    For example, the average cost per GB for SSD storage is about $0.38 in July 2015. Samsung intends on shipping 13 million of its own branded V-NAND SSD this year for the after-market segment. V-NAND is Samsung's new branding for 3D-NAND.

    Read about how 10TB SSDs are a possibility with this new technology

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    Toshiba is targeting mobile users with new external hard drives and flash drives at CES 2016 that utilize the new USB Type-C, also known as USB-C, connector. The new Canvio Premium portable hard disk drive and Toshiba Transmemory EX Dual both come equipped with the new connector, making them compatible with new laptops, tablets, convertibles and smartphones released this year.

    The Canvio Premium will provide you with the largest amount of storage, with capacities going as high as 3TB. The portable external hard disk drive is compatible with USB 3.0 and USB-C devices through an included adapter.

    The Canvio Premium is available in 1TB, 2Tb and 3TB capacities. The drives are available now through select retailers for $84 (£57, AU$119), $129 (£88, AU$184) and $159 (£108, AU$226) respectively. The Canvio Premium will compete against Samsung's new 2TB external portable solid state drive that's equipped with a USB-C port, like the newly unveiled Toshiba Dynapad.

    Transmemory EX Dual

    The Transmemory EX Dual is a 32GB flash drive that comes with a standard USB Type-A connector as well as a USB Type-C connector.

    This allows you to quickly move files between a tablet or phone with a USB-C port and a laptop or PC with a USB-A port. Or, for MacBook owners, you can use the drive to share files between Apple's uniport MacBook and a MacBook Pro with Retina display, for example.

    Toshiba claims the drive will offer read and write speeds up to 95MB/s and 80MB/s respectively. The Transmemory EX Dual flash drive will retail for $39 (£26, AU$55) when it ships in the first half of this year. The Transmemory EX Dual will compete against SanDisk's mobile storage solution.

    Canvio Desktop and TransferJet card

    Desktop users who need a place to backup or store their files can turn to Toshiba's newly unveiled Canvio for Desktop External Hard Drive. The drives are available in 3TB, 4TB, 5TB and 6TB capacities. These drives offer up to 5Gb/s transfer rates and comes with support for USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 standards.

    Business users can use a password lock to secure the data on the drives, preventing unauthorized access. The drives can be positioned horizontally or vertically to save space on a work desk. The 3TB ($139, £95, AU$198), 5TB ($179, £122, AU$255) and 6TB ($249, £170, AU$355) models will be available next month, while the 4TB ($159, £108, AU$226) version will ship in March.

    Photographers who need to add wireless capabilities to their digital cameras can use Toshiba's latest TransferJet Wireless SD Memory Card Class 10. Wireless transfer speed is up to 560Mb/s, which Toshiba claims is "way faster than any NFC, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection."

    This means that a 4.7GB video file can be wirelessly transferred using TransferJet in less than two minutes. Files can be shared with any iOS, Android or PC device with a TransferJet adapter, which is sold separately. The TransferJet Wireless SD Memory Card Class 10 is available in a 16GB capacity for $79 (£54, AU$112). The drive will be available for purchase later this month through Toshiba and Amazon.

    Toshiba's TransferJet card will compete in the same space as the EyeFi cards.

    Follow our CES 2016 coverage

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    Corsair has revealed its new gaming mouse which is the most accurate the company has ever made.

    The Corsair M65 PRO RGB optical mouse boasts a resolution of 12,000 dpi, the highest resolution the company has ever achieved – although there are gaming mice out there which exceed this (Razer's Diamondback mouse released last autumn hit 16,000 dpi, for example).

    Interestingly, Corsair has included a dedicated sniper button, along with on-the-fly sensitivity switching so you can tone things down when you're zoomed in for that crucial headshot.

    Indeed, this is a peripheral designed for professional gamers, benefiting from a durable and light aluminium chassis that makes it comfortable to use. There's even a 'weight tuning system' that allows the gamer to shift the centre of gravity of the mouse to their preference.

    The M65 also makes use of a utility which is supposed to optimise the optical sensor based on the surface you're gaming on.

    Sniping shenanigans

    On the software side, the Corsair Utility Engine takes care of button configuration (there are eight buttons on the M65 in total), programming macros and customising the peripheral's backlighting.

    The Corsair M65 PRO RGB is on sale now in black, at least in the US where it retails at $60 (around £42, or AU$78) not including tax, with the UK price still to be confirmed. The white version of the gaming mouse will be out at some point next month.

    Check out the very best in gaming mice

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    We now have a release date for AMD's Radeon Pro Duo graphics card, at least according to the rumour mill, and the good news is this beefy beast of a pixel-shifter is due to drop soon.

    Korean tech site Hardware Battle, an often cited source of GPU-related speculation, reckons that AMD's new beast of a card will be out on April 26 – in just a smidge over a fortnight's time.

    Although you'll need to steel your wallet – or indeed perhaps steal someone else's – to be able to afford the thing, given that the retail price has previously been announced as $1,499 (around £1,060, or AU$1,980).

    It's so expensive because AMD has actually crammed dual GPUs on board the Pro Duo (hence the name). Given its huge amount of power under the bonnet – 16 teraflops of computing performance to be precise – this is a video card pitched at VR content creators, as well as enthusiast PC owners and their high-end rigs. (In gaming benchmarking, the Pro Duo is just over 50% faster than a GeForce GTX Titan Z in 3DMark Fire Strike running at 4K resolution.)

    A new reality

    AMD is actually sending the graphics card out to developers at universities in a scheme designed to start VR labs across the globe, driving the creation of virtual reality content this year as headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive make their mark.

    Another recent AMD rumour from Hardware Battle is that we'll see the unveiling of the Radeon R9 490/490X video cards at Computex 2016 next month with Polaris tech on board.

    The rumour mill suggests that these GPUs will go up against Nvidia's incoming GeForce GTX 1070/1080 in terms of performance levels, but there are certainly doubters on that front, which isn't surprising given that Polaris is really focused more on a 'generational jump' in terms of power efficiency (which will be particularly exciting when it comes to mobile graphics, of course).

    We will only know for sure when AMD takes the wraps off these new GPUs – the company has been playing its graphics cards pretty close to its chest of late.

    Via: Guru3D

    Also check out: 'Game-changing' software to let PC gamers mix Nvidia and AMD graphics cards

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    The Radeon Pro Duo, which AMD has billed as the world's fastest graphics card, is now available for those with deep enough pockets.

    The much anticipated dual-GPU video card is priced at $1,499 (around £1,030, or AU$1,940) and is aimed at VR content creators as well as PC gaming enthusiasts with high-end rigs.

    According to AMD's benchmarking the new Radeon is 1.5 times faster than the GeForce GTX Titan X, and 1.3 times faster than the R9 295X2.

    In 4K gaming benchmarks the Pro Duo easily outdid the Titan X, hitting 83.3 fps and 81.6 fps in GTA V and Battlefield 4 respectively, compared to 50.5 fps and 49.7 fps for Nvidia's card. In Far Cry Primal, it was 59 fps playing 35 fps in favor of the AMD graphics card.

    There was an even more pronounced difference when it came to a DX12 title, Ashes of the Singularity, in 4K with maxed-out settings, with the Pro Duo recording 52.8 fps compared to 26.7 fps which the GeForce Titan Z managed. Twin Titan X cards in SLI hit 37.7 fps, but AMD's new board was still 40% faster than this.

    Raw power

    AMD says the Pro Duo boasts a compute performance of 16.38 Tflops and has 8192 stream processors across 128 Compute Units, with 512 Texture Units and a clock speed of up to 1000MHz.

    You get 8GB of HBM video RAM on board with a dual 4096-bit memory interface, and the board utilizes three 8-pin power connectors supping 350W worth of juice.

    In terms of ports, there's an HDMI connector along with three DisplayPorts, and closed loop liquid cooling keeps the card's temperature down along with a 120mm Nidec fan.

    The Pro Duo also benefits from LiquidVR tech to maximize virtual reality performance, including tricks like asynchronous shaders to reduce latency or stuttering and provide a smoother experience all round.

    As you may have previously seen, AMD has kicked off the VR First Initiative which wants to set up virtual reality labs featuring Pro Duo cards in universities across the globe, to drive forward with VR content creation.

    Also check out: 10 best graphics cards in the worldYouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E3R9Z3kWYQ

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    Remember a few months ago when it emerged that Microsoft wanted to use DNA for storage purposes? Well, apparently work on that front is progressing well, and Redmond has announced it's achieved an important milestone.

    Working with the University of Washington, Microsoft has revealed that it's managed to store 200MB of data on DNA – and that's a new record.

    And what was that data? Microsoft literally stored, well, a record – or rather an HD music video by OK Go – and a load of literature, the top 100 books taken from Project Gutenberg to be precise, all on DNA.

    When encoded onto DNA, that data took up a tiny amount of space – a tiny spot in a test tube which was "much smaller than the tip of a pencil" according to Douglas Carmean, the guy from Microsoft running the project. Not a particularly scientific measurement, but you get the general idea…

    Sugar cubes

    This is the crucial bit with DNA storage, with massive space savings promised, and Redmond talking about the masses of information stored in a huge data centre being able to be effectively compressed down to the size of just a few sugar cubes.

    That's why people are so excited about the work in this field, particularly given the massively expanding amount of data being generated these days, and the fact that traditional storage media (optical and magnetic) soon won't be enough to keep up. But a single gram of DNA can store almost a trillion gigabytes of data.

    However, the researchers warn there's still a long way to go in terms of making DNA storage a commercial reality. That said, the team of computer boffins and molecular biologists reckon they are set to make major advances in swift fashion, with Carmean observing: "It's one of those serendipitous partnerships where a strong understanding of processors and computation married with molecular biology experts has the potential of producing major breakthroughs."

    DNA storage isn't just about space savings, but also durability, with the longevity of the medium massively outstripping current storage technologies.

    The data capacity gap: why the world is running out of data storage

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    Introduction

    Greetings, denizen of the virtual reality realm. Make yourself comfortable, because I'll be using this new weekly column to be taking you through some of the most coin-worthy new VR games on Steam. The not-so-good ones? We'll cast a glance at some of those too.

    You see, it's all to save you from expending your time, energy and money on titles best confined the virtual abyss. I'll even trip over my HTC Vive's trailing headset cable and bludgeon my knee on a desk for you at least a few times a week - look, I'm practically providing a public service here.

    Oh, and while I'm focusing on the Vive for now, be assured that I'll be giving the Oculus Rift some love (not like that) in due course. But before I delve into the good, the bad and the ugly to have hit Valve's store in the past seven days, let's have a brief recap of some of the VR gold that's already out there.

    Because, remember, gamers: while the turds may be virtual, the smell is real.

    Awesome VR sauce

    An oldie but a goodie, HoloPoint remains one of the best ways to work up a sweat in a headset. The frenetic archery game uses the Vive's room-scale tracking to great effect, forcing you to duck, weave and spin as you aim arrows at holographs while avoiding returning fire. You're one part Legolas, two parts Neo, three parts a badass.

    And you may have already heard about Raw Data, which looks better than a kebab at 3am. The wave-based shooter can be summed up in three words: lightsabers; guns; robots - that you can punch in the face. If you're not sold on it after that, then sorry - there's nothing more I can do to sway you.

    Looking for a freebie? Of course you are. Rec Room, which grants you a lifetime membership to a swish online multiplayer sports den filled with Nintendo-styled avatars, is what the Wii U should have been. I've had to begrudgingly tear myself off it just to try other games this week.

    Dodgeball, table tennis and disc golf provide solid entertainment, but it's paintball, which uses a teleportation-style movement system, that will keep you returning. The only downside is that matches are sometimes plagued by more camping than a Scouts' weekend. Rage-quitters: you've been warned.

    Finally, there's Onward. A brilliant tactical FPS sim that's more Arma 3 than COD, it practically demands to be experienced in leather boots with warpaint smeared across your face.

    I've only scratched the surface of what's out there, and you could do worse than checking out out our list of best VR games if you want to uncover more gems.

    Or, you know, read this column every week - that works too.

    New 'n' tasty

    So what's new, pussycat? If you've been looking for a charming multiplayer game that tests your reflexes, dexterity and aim, then Bomb U! is well worth its diminutive price tag. It scores high marks for originality and gameplay, but you might be hanging around a while until a player comes online which is a bummer. But tha's kind of expected for a game that's barely out of Early Access.

    This one positions you on a floating island in the sky that matches the size of your Vive's room-scale play area and sees you go mano a mano (or girlo a girlo) with your foe.

    The aim is to use the assortment of weapons at your disposal, including guns, maces and bombs, to blow chunks out of their safe haven until they have nothing left to stand out, causing them to tumble from the sky.

    I had a heart-in-mouth experience the first time I lost, partly because I wasn't expecting it but mostly due to the natural immersion of VR. From that moment on, a layer of tension was added to every match.

    I found myself carefully stepping over missing tiles while stretching out arms to grab weapons and lob bombs like a man possessed. Timing a throw to trigger an explosion at your enemy's feet and send them hurtling down is particularly satisfying, and it means you can still win even when the chips are down - just so long as you stay on your toes.

    Speaking of which, VR Ninja requires the dexterity of an olympic gymnast. This sole aim of this avoid-em-up is to duck out of the way of shriunkens and other particles by diving onto the floor and contorting your body into various shapes that, judging by my sore limbs, evolution has not designed it to make.

    Shots only come at you from the front and sides, however, which makes VR Ninja instantly less engrossing than fully-immersing 360-degree games like HoloPoint. Moreover, a lack of any combat to speak of makes it a bit, well, boring in comparison. Stay away, grasshopper, for there's no honor in cricking your neck like I did on stage six.

    Net gains

    Next up, VR Ping Pong is the table-tennis game I've been waiting for ever since I first played Sports Champions for the PS3 back in 2010.

    Its cartoon-like graphics mark a refreshing change from other Vive paddle-peddlers such as Ping Pong Waves VR and Table Tennis VR. Blocky and colourful, it feels like being dropped into a NES game, or Counter Strike 1.6's fy_pool_day map.

    It also lures you into a false sense of security.

    For the first 10 minutes or so, VR Ping Pong is hard. Like, really hard. I played on the medium difficulty setting against the practice bot and only mustered 78 points versus the computer's 200.

    The challenge stems from the game's realistic and sensitive physics engine, which requires a light touch at all times - just like the real thing. Swinging wildly at the ball to execute power shots - as Sports Champions encouraged you to do six years ago - will more often than not result at it hurtling toward one of the 8-bit characters in the crowd.

    All in all, a good addition to Steam's library for sports fans. All it needs now is multiplayer.

    Vive owners have been spoiled with some excellent archery games - namely HoloPoint, QuiVR and even Longbow Tower Defence from Valve's The Lab - which all set the bar for future efforts. Unfortunately bow-based tower defence game Elven Assassin can't match them for thrills.

    You're tasked with defending a castle from waves of muscular orcs that throw axes at your forehead. Ducking down behind the safety of your tower's wooden panels is sometimes satisfying, but a lack of variety in Elven Assassin's enemy models and occasionally glitchy controls mean that a lot of work needs doing on this release before it emerges from Early Access.

    I've got balls of steel

    Upon first inspection, the intriguing Don't Let Go! sounds like a potential thrillride. More of an experience than a game, it requires you to keep two fingers held down on the keyboard while all manner of creepy crawlies climb up your virtual arm and hiss into your headset's earcups.

    The game's newer Desert sequence is the more impressive of the two "maps" and ends in a close encounter that genuinely made me squirm in my seat. But it's only worth the cost of entry if you're looking for a simple seated tech demo to impress folk who haven't yet experienced VR.

    You know - like your 66-year-old dad.


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    Update: Razer has informed us that its engineers are working on a permanent fix to the problem detailed below, expected on October 1. The company has also produced instructions for a temporary fix to the issue while you wait for the patch, which you can read here.

    Original story follows...

    If you're a Mac owner with a Razer peripheral, and you're thinking of upgrading to macOS Sierra following its release yesterday, then be warned – there are apparently compatibility issues with the Synapse software and Apple's newest desktop OS.

    This has meant that we've witnessed an outpouring of complaints from people with Razer mice and keyboards that no longer function correctly following the Sierra upgrade – for example, check out this thread on the Razer forum, and a short thread on Reddit.

    There have been reports of Razer keyboards (such as the BlackWidow TE Chroma) not working at all, and mice (like the Deathadder and Naga) buttons failing to work, and/or mouse sensitivity going all weird – or worse still peripherals outright crashing the operating system.

    Fried Synapse

    This seems to be down to the Synapse software conflicting with macOS, and the generally suggested solution for now is just to ditch Synapse from your Mac – at least until Razer updates the software with a fix.

    One user (Kale) on the official Razer forum suggested: "Once Synapse has been removed you have the ability to plug the Razer peripheral back in to your Mac and use it as normal just without the luxuries of Synapse."

    Indeed, Razer's support account on Twitter also suggested that "uninstalling Synapse should enable the mouse to work as plug and play".

    Although others say that even after uninstalling Synapse, they're still encountering issues such as the scroll button not working.

    Still other folks, for example on the Reddit thread, have suggested that to get things back to normal not only did they have to uninstall Syanpse, but also: "Manually delete the Razer kext as well (/Library/Extensions/RazerHid.kext)". Note that we haven't tried this, and we're not recommending you do it – it's just some advice that's out there online, and obviously your mileage with it may vary.

    There are always going to be teething issues when a new OS is released, but in this case folks are frustrated with Razer because this problem has apparently been known about for some time, and things with Synapse are clearly still badly broken.

    Of course there are other apps that won't play nice with macOS in some shape or form, as well, and indeed we're working on a fresh section of our Sierra review which will evaluate compatibility with existing Mac apps in detail. Stay tuned for that, because it will be coming soon.

    Consider making the switch to one of the best gaming laptops of 2016

    Joe Osborne has also contributed to this report


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    AMD has unleashed a new range of processors which bring the company's Bristol Ridge tech – previously seen on mobile CPUs – to desktop PCs.

    The seventh-generation AMD Pro processors are APUs (accelerated processing units) meaning they have built-in graphics, and they're targeted at businesses, and will be available in HP and Lenovo PCs to begin with.

    The 'Pro' moniker stands for 'performance, reliability and opportunity', but of course the basic drive is for the former two: AMD promises the chips are quick in terms of computing and graphics performance, and also reliable which is a key factor for a product aimed at businesses.

    Compared to previous generation AMD Pro CPUs, these new models provide up to 14% greater compute power, and a 22% boost on the graphics front according to the company's own benchmarking. They're also 32% more energy efficient, which doesn't hurt.

    As for security concerns, you get AMD Secure Processor tech, boasting secure boot and TPM 2.0 along with various other measures to keep your applications and data safe.

    We are family

    There are four ranges in the new family of processors: A6, A8, A10 and A12. The first is aimed at basic productivity needs, scaling all the way up to the A12 which is designed for the likes of high-performance computing and 3D modelling.

    The base level A6 offering (A6-9500E) is a dual-core CPU running at 3GHz with boost to 3.4GHz, having Radeon R5 integrated graphics running at a clock speed of 800MHz. It has a TDP of 35W.

    At the other end of the scale, you've got the AMD Pro A12-9800 quad-core processor running at 3.8GHz with boost to 4.2GHz, and this has Radeon R5 graphics with a clock speed of 1108MHz – and double the amount of GPU cores, and also double the L2 cache (2MB) compared to the A6. The TDP is 65W.

    Guayente Sanmartin, Vice President of Product Management, Commercial Desktops, HP Inc, enthused: "We're delighted to offer 7th generation AMD Pro processors in our new HP EliteDesk 705 G3 desktop series. We are delivering more performance, security and flexibility to give our enterprise customers peace of mind that allows them to focus on their business, not on IT complexity."

    We should see the release of AMD's next big desktop processor, the much talked about Zen CPU, early next year.

    We discuss when it's the best time to buy a new CPU or GPU

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