At the Asus booth there was a heavy emphasis on motherboards as we would expect. Probably the most interesting model was the Crosshair IV Extreme. On a hardware level it allows us to install four 5870 cards in CrossFireX but value is also added by the inclusion of enhanced control software for overclocking. The suite also includes an app which allows control of the board speed from the iPhone. Regular readers will remember our Asus MARS SLI review, looking at a unique product which Asus designed and manufactured to be the fastest and highest specification GeForce GTX 200 series product. On show today was the next model from the same design team, the Ares which is based the 5970 idea. This model takes the 5000 series about as far as it can go in terms of specification due to the use of two overclocked 5870 GPUs and 4GB of GDDR5.
Asus always have a few non component items on show and some of this year’s products were the Eee keyboard which was launched a few months back and the Cine 5 which offers virtual 5.1 sound from one speaker unit. Finally there is O!Play HD2, a media player which offers playback of pretty much any file type and offers wireless connectivity too.
Powercolor’s booth tour started off with a look at their PCS+ branded 5000 series cards which use the four heatpipe cooler and have overclocked specifications. After that it got that little bit more interesting with a passively cooled version of the 5750 that doesn’t require external power. Next up was a card we expect ATI and their partners to push hard in the next few months, the Eyefinity 5870. Surprisingly this was not the only Eyefinity product on show, also present was a 5770 card with 5 outputs that is intended for those who want to game on one screen and have various other applications open on the other four.
As expected G.Skill’s booth focused mainly on memory. The stand out products were some Cas 5 rated DDR3-1600 and Cas9 rated DDR3-2500... yes that’s 2500MHz. Also on show was their new Sandforce based SSD, the Phoenix which will hit the market soon and should ensure that G.Skill have an ultra-competitive product in the next generation of SSDs.
In terms of graphics cards Sapphire had their latest 5970 based model on display, kitted out with 4GB of memory and an Arctic Cooling fan/heatsink it should provide some fantastic performance at the high end of the product stack while running at a lower temperature and noise level to every other air cooled card. Also on show was their micro-ATX AM3 board based on the 785G chipset, a fantastically flexible board for those wishing to build a powerful mini system. Then things got that little bit different with the news that Sapphire are working on a 10" netbook release but better still, how does a pocket sized VGA capable projector sound?
All of the above products were on show in the press area with the public section dedicated to one product, Eyefinity...
The cost of kitting out a system with six screens may be a little too much for some tastes but there is no doubt, seeing it in action with a copy of Race Driver Grid, that this is truly stunning technology. Each time we have passed the Sapphire booth over the past 2 days the area has been packed with people so it seems the general public agree.
We have a Synology NAS review in the works so watch out for that in the next few weeks, the control software is a particular highlight of that product. There were a few interesting items on show at CeBIT which included a 5 bay NAS/Server which solves storage problems by allowing the connection of a second identical unit via proprietary eSATA cable. Fill up 5x2TB, no problem... just ad on this second unit and double up to 10TB... should last even the biggest media junkies a few years. For the security conscious user there was Diskstation, a NAS which offers hardware encryption, ensuring that encrypted data can be accessed without any performance penalty which exists on software solutions.
Over at MSI there was a big focus on their Big Bang series of motherboards. These replace the diamond and platinum models in MSI’s product catalogue and there are some rather special X58 versions being released in the near future. Also on show was MSI’s first USB3/SATA3 based boards which brings them into line with ASUS and Gigabyte in terms of features. It was also clear from the MSI stand that they are making a big effort to promote their GPU business with all models featuring enhanced cooling and most having significant overclocks. A highlight was the 5870 Lightning which uses items such as Hi-c capacitors to greatly enhance the quality of component on the PCB. We also noted that their Afterburner GPU utility (based on Rivatuner) now comes with a FurMark based stress test included... without doubt the best GPU tool around and the good news is it works on any brand of card. Finally we were shown the latest laptop to be released, the GT660 features a Core-i7 CPU and GTX 285 which is impressive enough but MSI go that extra step by including speakers which were designed by Dynaudio, a major player in the professional audio market. If quality sound on the move is a priority then this is the laptop to buy.
Arctic Cooling has been expanding their product catalogue in the past few months with the introduction of items such as a games console and earphones (review coming soon). On show at CeBIT were a few other items which were a departure from their core business, mice and power products which included a travel model of a 4 USB charger. Need to charge your phone, MP3 player, DS and portable speakers at the same time while on a holiday or business trip, Arctic Cooing have you covered.
During our Crucial meeting we were shown two products which are new in their performance range. The first is their Real SSD, a SATA3 (6GB/s) model which by all accounts is selling fantastically well... no doubt due to the phenomenal performance it offers. The second item on show was their new Ballistix memory with large aluminium heatsinks and a dual fan cooler. These kits will start at 1866MHz with various specifications for different price points.
Our final booth for the day was Kingston, a company who sell more memory than anyone else in the industry (Including Corsair and OCZ). Kingston has a few new DDR3 based products on show, the first being a watercooled module which should retail in quarter 2. The most interesting product was their LoVo range, DDR3 sticks which can run on 1.25v (or 1.35v). This low voltage is a world first and as well as saving users energy they are ideal for HTPCs due to the low temperature when in use.
Kicking about the booth in addition to memory was the high end model in Kingston’s USB drive range, a 256GB flash drive which should offer more storage than any normal person needs while on the move.
Finally we moved on to SSD’s where Kingston proved that they cater for every type of consumer. First up was their new value model SSD, a 30GB product which features TRIM support and will retail for approximately £80. On the performance front they had set up two RAID arrays and ran a very cool demonstration which opened over 30 files and 10 applications from a .bat file all at once. The end result was an impressive launch of application windows in a very short time but a look at the CPU usage graph showed their i7 processor hitting 100% load during this time which indicated the CPU was the bottleneck in this scenario, not the SSD’s.
To end the day Kingston further impressed us by demonstrating the speed of file transfer from their first RAID array to the second, a sustained copy of over 700MB/s was fantastic to see and a great way to end the day.
Come back tomorrow when we will look at a few more highlights from our trip to CeBIT 2010.