If you want to record data on DVD±R/±RW, DVD-RAM formats and would like to build an affordable multimedia centre that could reduce electricity bills, then look no further for ASUS Energy Green (E-Green) internal DRW-24D3ST drive. Also for those who are trying to reduce energy consumption, the drive itself will immediately hibernate and conserve energy by up to 50% if you decide NOT to use it.
Performance & Comparison
Comparing DRW-24D3ST towards other brands, ASUS has clearly beaten / outsmart other competitors, such as LG / Samsung in certain areas. This would be performance, speed and efficiency. Not only that, ASUS is the only contender that holds “E-Green” titles. Pretty strange don’t you think?
For more comparison, please take a look at ASUS DRW-24D3ST, LG GH24NSB0 Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE. Also, please be aware that all drives are classified as OEM so there are no advantages or extras.
If I go back 10 years ago from memories, I could recall gaming on a portable laptop being the most powerful and unthinkable. Back in College, we would dream of buying the most ridiculous-overpriced laptop just to accomplish heavy-duty tasks or play PC games while traveling. Even if we would’ve gotten our hands on one, overheating / quality concern was a very common issue in gaming and work back then.
Now that technology has improved and made PC gaming / workstation more accessible, any mid-range laptop can handle pretty well under heavy-duty workload. Even competitive gamers use them as their travel-gaming device. It’s no surprise that we can even buy a mobile gaming mouse to improve efficiency and gaming experience. So, from there, Razer decided it was time to enter the upper-market and showcase their greatest invention: Razer Orochi 2013 “Elite Mobile” Mouse.
Package Design & Contents
Looking at the initial design and packaging, the front showcases the Orochi Mouse and depicts an 8-tailed / head dragon in Japanese myth. From the side and back, it provides in-depth diagrams and specification of the mouse.
Inside the package, we got a beautifully presented mouse with a small zippy-pouch (mouse storage), detachable gold / braided cable [USB 2.0], 2 x AA Battery and Orochi’s Quick Starter Guide.
As good as it seems, the Razer Orochi 2013 is a beautifully designed – comfortable gaming mouse with plenty of features just to push your experience to the limits. What stands out most is the mouse small form factor, its rough matte finish for best grip while gaming for long sessions, Bluetooth 4G connectivity and overall build quality. Adding to the lists, it also comes with 6 configurable buttons (left-click disable on ‘Synapse’ apps) for diversity. Not just that, the mouse itself was designed to be ambidextrous, which means you can use it comfortably with both right / left hands. Sure it may not be as comfortable as normal gaming mouse, especially for big hands. But, it does help a lot if you are working / gaming on smaller surfaces.
If you want to go technical, the Orochi 2013 has had an upgrade from its previous model. It now has a 4G sensor with a whopping 6400 DPI and features Green-lit LED instead of Blue. Out of the box it can be customized at various levels from 800, 1800, 3500, 5000 and 6400. With “Razer Synapse 2” installed, the mouse can be tweaked further for better experience. That includes macros configuration and profile-cloud transfer.
For those who like to know the size and weights, it’s approximately 140 grams with 2 x AA Alkaline Batteries and measures around 99 mm, 67 mm and 35 mm. If you prefer ‘wired mode’ without battery, it will set you back to 70 grams (inc. braided cable).
Regarding wireless mode, sensitivity is limited to a lower value than 6400 DPI. That goes the same for ‘polling rate’. So, to get the most out of Orochi, it needs to be connected as ‘wired mode’ at all time.
In conclusion, the Orochi 2013 is a top-notch portable gaming mouse for on-the-go PC gamers. Its design, hardware quality and comfort are everything you would expect from such an expensive mouse. So, for those who are travelling or working in tight-environments, then get it – you’ll LOVE it!
6400dpi 4G Laser Sensor
Ambidextrous Form Factor
Optimized For Longer Battery Life
Wired / Wireless – Bluetooth
WEB – www.razerzone.com
A few weeks ago in Vietnam (February 3RD, 2014), I was pretty much looking around Ho Chi Minh computer store like a headless tourist just to find a single – piece of hardware for my future build – codename “ROG Colossus”. If you are wondering, this is not a Motherboard, GPU, CPU or one of those Zalman Heat-Sink. In fact, it’s one of ASUS high-end ‘Sound Card’ that I required most for editing / recording videos. Lucky enough through direct contact from ASUS HQ (Vietnam), the manager texted me the address of “TAN DOANH” computer store that it has the type of sound card that fits my requirements. From there, I quickly contact the shop, bought it and get it sent for reviews and for the project-build. Sadly, it wasn’t the correct type of model I was looking for (typical Vietnam). The actual model I was looking for is “ASUS Xonar Essence STX”. So instead of getting the impossible and have a nervous breakdown, I decided to take risk and hooked myself up with ASUS most powerful sound card – “ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo”. After buying this bad boy and gone through a bunch of hassle, I never looked back and decided to write a special review about this product that won 14 awards without scratching the surface.
Also as a quick reminder for Vietnam Expats who are planning to buy this product, is that, this sound card is classified as extremely rare and absolutely HARD TO FIND in Vietnam. Therefore, if you manage to spot one, then please for the love of PC community – buy it and walk away!
Now, without further delay, let’s check out “ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo” sound card!
First, as most of you may already know, a lot of motherboard manufacturers had improved their on-board audio with features like software codec that enhance audio clarity and provides decent opamps or headphone amps for the mass majority / tight-budget gamers that doesn’t want to spend more than they should. However, due to restriction on high-end motherboard (on-board audio), they can sometime bottleneck performance and restrict certain features that are suppose to provide enthusiast a better edge when gamming or editing music / videos for a specific reason. So, to resolve this dilemma, it’s up to companies like ASUS to provide users with audio products that mark our requirements. That is why we are going to look at “ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo”, a 7.1 channel sound card.
Like all the other packages from ASUS, they always provide extensive information for potential buyers that are looking for standards and quality assurance. Nevertheless, the package also offers a brilliant flip-top-lid that will allow anyone to examine the card and the breakout module without damaging the products.
Upon opening the package, we got a few goodies:
- ROG Xonar Phoebus 7.1 (PCI-E) Soundcard
- S/Pdif Adapter (Sony / Philips Digital Interface)
- 6-Pin TO 2 x 4-Pin Molex Power Adapter
- ASUS CD Driver & User Manual
- ASUS Warranty Notice
Sound Card – Close UP Inspection
Looking at the sound card itself, the entire design is completely covered in black and provides a nice looking shield. As most of you readers would like to know, that shield with the ROG Logo is the sound card EMI Shield. Its main function is to reduce / block ‘Electromagnetic Interferences’ and protect sensitive components from damage.
From the side, we can clearly see a few “Nichion Gold Capacitors” and “Silver Quality Capacitors”. In total, there are ‘32 Gold Caps’ and ‘3 Silver Caps’ just to make your head spin. Also, underneath that EMI shield, it has ‘Xonar Phoebus Solo’ most powerful C-Media Chipset CMI8888 (Sound Card Processor), Analog To Digital Converter (Cirrus Logic CS5381), Digital To Analog Converter (Cirrus Logic CS4362) and Headphone Amplifiers – 600 Ohm (TPA6120A2). If that isn’t enough, then let me add to the list that this card supports a whopping 192KHz / 24Bit and GX 3.0 Audio Engine as backup to provides EAX compatibility while boosting performances at wider range for better gameplay experience. Not just that, the sound card itself also sports 118 dB SNR (Signal To No Noise Ratio) that is more powerful than Creative Labs – Sound Blaster Z / Sound Blaster Recon3D sound card. Also, underneath the chipset, you got the black PCB that is engineered to block noise and reduce distortion while gaming / working without losing performance.
From the opposite side, we are presented with a 6-Pin PCI-E (+12v) To 4-Pin Molex connector which provides headphone amplifiers and capacitors for cleaner audio signals. Also presented here is a 4-Pin Auxiliary-In Header and S/PDIF Out connector.
Moving away from these, we have the sound card logo ‘Xonar Phoebus’ which is printed upside-down. When running at low-profile, the LED lights operates as Blue, whereas running at high-profile, the LED lights switches to Red. It will only take effect if you push your card above 60 Ohms.
Moving through the rear compartment (External I/O), we are presented with multiple jacks that are covered in gold. From left to right, the sound card supports: Microphone (IN), Headphone (OUT), Box Control Link (Exclusive to Xonar Phoebus), Line (IN), Front (OUT), Ctr/Sbw (OUT), Rear (OUT) and Side / SPDIF (OUT).
Well, that is pretty much it. I hope you like this article!
Audio Controller: C-Media CM8888HT (Sound Card Processor)
Analog to digital converter: Cirrus Logic CS5381
Digital to analog converter: Cirrus Logic CS4362
Headphone AMP Chipset: TI TA6120A2
Maximum Recording / Playback Quality: 24 bit/192 KHz
Input / Output ‘Signal-To-No-Noise’ Ratio: 118 dB Crystal Clear Audio
Xear Surround – Headphone
GX 3.0 Game Audio Engine
Dolby Home Theater v4 (Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 ONLY)
Optimized Game Profiles – FPS, RTS, RPG, Racing
DTS Ultra PC II Technology
Magic Voice (Voice Tweaking / Masking)
Over the pass months, ASUS has been busy updating their ROG motherboard and tell the entire world they had unleashed another monster that can push overclockers and computer enthusiast further like never before in the uncharted lands. Some say it’s so dark, it can’t be seen in the dark. Others say it’s a demon from heaven. But, my own opinion? It’s built to eat calculations and withstand stress for breakfast.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the waits and agonies are finally over. I present you ASUS multi – national – awards: RAMPAGE IV BLACK EDITION – the dream, the fantasy for overclockers and enthusiast of all level!
Okay, please don’t drool over your keyboard…
Esthetic, Design & Revamps!
Taking in my first glimpse or shock if you like, the entire motherboard is completely covered in midnight BLACK like batman’s reinforced tank! You heard me, it’s completely BLACK!
If you look at the rear (I/O Back Panel), ASUS appears to take that design from SABERTOOTH motherboard and implement it on their “Ramapage IV Black” like a shield to hide the rear portion from damage or stop itchy fingers from touching sensitive parts and cause ESD bomb.
From my point of view, that is pretty clever and helps prevent / block debris from hiding in hard-to-reach areas, especially the “I/O shield” compartment.
Compared closely between ASUS R4B (Black Edition) and R4E (Extreme Edition) unique design, the R&D / Engineer department did a pretty good job by hiding R4B’s various / sensitive compartments just to make it look clean and more appealing towards gamers, overclockers or benchers.
The first example to hit the lists is the rear “I/O Shield” with the black heatsink and lack of copper / nickel heatpipes. The main concept behind ASUS massive heatsink design is to keep sensitive parts, such as: “VRM, MOSFET, CAPS and Chokes” protected against debris / dirt and keep certain parts regulated. The other part is heatpipes where ASUS R&D managed to reduce / remove a portion of these and kept the motherboard simple or provides more head-room for the processor unit.
Now between the two heatsink, there is one thick – nickel – heatpipes travelling from one end to another. As most of you PC nerds already know, underneath those kinky heatsink, it covers the MOSFET, VRM, CAPS and Chokes. In technical terms, MOSFET are responsible for the actual amplification, signals switching and assist in voltage identification for the CPU. VRM is Voltage Regulator Module that is program to regulate / supply appropriate voltages for the processor itself. In short, they act like phases down units that convert high-voltages into usable voltages for the CPU. CAPS (Capacitor) are like mini battery / charge storage (blocks DC, and passes AC) that collects electrical charges when the currents are high and releasing it when it’s low. Chokes on the other hands are built to handle high-level overclocking and improves power efficiency with overvolting.
The second example is the annihilation of “R4E x79 Chipset” heatsink. What they did was beyond “revamped”. Why? They took the liberty like a rampage god, threw out that horrible FAN that was built with the heatsink and give R4B Edition a fanless x79 heatsink that looks far more deadly and ultra kinky. So, for me and a few others, that is a good sign, because, we PC enthusiast don’t want dust / debris sneaking into the ‘x79 Chipset’ and cause mayhem later on. Trust me on this. If the Chipset fails to operate, you will need to strip it down and RMA your motherboard. That means NO COMPUTER for a month (a few weeks if you are lucky).
If you want to go tech-voodoo (which I love to confuse everyone), underneath that big-headed heatsink you get the grandeur x79 Chipset – North Bridge & South Bridge. Both handle connections between CPU, Key Memories which contains FSB (Front Side Bus) and information from the PCI / PCI-E and ISA.
The third example is the PCI-E Slots. For example, instead of dividing R4E PCI-E slots like R4B, ASUS R&D had gone lala-land and decided to knock in a fifth PCI-E slots just for show. Seriously, that is over-the-moon integration. Likewise, as stated, the R4B motherboard was given a little more care by dividing all 4 PCI-E slots ‘proportionally’ with two pairs of 1 x PCI-E slots in-between for USB 2.0 / 3.0 card, Soundcard and additional LAN card. In truth, that is a big improvement. But, regarding previous model? One word: “claustrophobic”.
The fourth example is clearance around CPU slots.
Looking closely around R4E processor slot, the surrounding area looks a lot more claustrophobic like the PCI-E slots. Even the heatpipes are really close and nearly touching the corners! But when we take a closer look at R4B motherboard, the genius at ASUS did rectify this problem by reducing the number of heatpipes. From now on, anybody who fancy WATER COOLING, they can easily clamp a colossal ‘CPU Block’ without shifting or twisting to avoid touching other parts of the motherboard.
The fifth example is ROG “Memory OK!” button. In the previous model – R4E, the button were placed really close in-between ‘24-pin ATX Connector’ and ‘PCI-E Lane Switch’. For crying out loud! Big fingers are going to have a problem pressing that button! But don’t worry everyone, because, it’s now placed next to DDR3 DIMM slots.
The sixth example is R4E – OC Key. It’s big, clunky and thick enough to fit your hand like an oversized keychain. Here is my story and horrors:
Going back in-time to my previous build, I found out that the accessory was too long and I was forced to push my PC Workstation forward just to fit it through the back. As soon as I insert that OC Key through the back, I noticed how the weight of that thing applies pressure to my GPU. After testing my OC Key for the first time, I never again used it. One wrong move, such as tripping over something while you are trying to remove it, that thing could destroy your beloved GPU!
Now, my horrors were put to rest as ASUS ROG finally released something better and that is the OC Panel. But, when it comes to benchmarks, testing, gaming or monitoring temps, the panel offers two modes – Normal Mode (Inside The Case) and Extreme (Operates as External Console).
If you ever decide to use this outside your case, you can also try slotting it through ROG 5.25″ Metal Bay which is for the front of your PC. From there, you can check dynamic CPU temps, ratios, base clocks, and fan RPM infos. Nevertheless, you can also use one-click ‘instant’ CPU Level Up. For cooling, you may select Turbo, Standard and Silent CPU fan modes.
Regarding OC Panel advance features, it supports / includes Subzero Sense, VGA SMB, VGA Hotwire, 4 x 4-pin Fan Headers, Slow Mode and Pause Switch.
Features and Extra Goodies!
Many people today are giving back their LOVE for ASUS R4B Edition, because, it’s considered as a rare commodity or classified as high-end / upper class hardware for the enthusiast. Since the board was optimized / engineered to take advantage of Ivy Bridge-E processors and parts of ‘ASUS ROG’ brand, the Rampage IV Black Edition is targeted for those who would like to build the ultimate system and tweak the living daylight out of it. But, don’t hold your horses, just yet, because, this motherboard is NOT just for gaming, it’s also built for heavy duty work like ASUS WS Motherboard Series. Why do you ask? Here are my reasons:
1.] Intel LGA 2011 processors are technically built / designed to work like Intel Xeon processors. However, they operate a little different with 2 cores disabled. Since the processor share the same architecture, they are pretty much identical and support nearly all of the features that is on the Xeon processor – MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AVX, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST), Intel 64, XD Bit (NX Bit Implementation), TXT, Intel VT-x, Intel VT-d, Turbo Boost, AES-NI, Smart Cache, Hyper-threading.
2.] The motherboard supports the biggest memory bucket, which means, you get to stack as much as you want similar to “P9X79-E WS” motherboard, for example: if you are a graphics designer / 3D Visual Animator, rendering large scale projects on 3DS MAX and using Photoshop at its full potential; these applications will not hesitate to eat up memories. So, to avoid this problem, you can stack different amounts from 16GB, 24GB, 32GB to ‘64GB overkill’ if you are running Windows 7 Pro 64BIT / Windows 8 Pro system. If you want to take further control, you can easily tweak and adjust memories to operate at specific BUS speed – 1333 MHz (Default), 1600 MHz, 1866 MHz, 2133 MHz (OC), 2400 MHz (OC) and 2800(OC).
Included with the motherboard, you get these:
1 x ASUS User Manual + SATA Cable Stickers
1 x Drivers & Software Installation Disk (Online Download Recommended)
5 x Bags Of SATA Cables – 6 x SATA 6GB/s + 4 x SATA 3Gb/s
1 x ASUS 2T2R Wi-Fi Moving Antennas (802.11a/b/g/n/ac – 2.4GHz / 5GHz)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridges
1 x 4-Way SLI bridges
2 x 2-Way CrossFire Bridges
1 x Bag of Q-Connector(s)
1 x ROG Connector cable (White, USB A – A)
1 x ROG Magnet + Case Badge
1 x I/O Shield
1 x LGA 2011 BP (Backplate)
1 x FULL Game: Assassins Creed Black Flag (Ubisoft)
1 x OC Panel + 5.25” Metal Bay
1 x OC Panel Cable
First on the lists for overclocker-heads, you will be pleased to know that R4B supports 60 AMPS – quality Chokes, 10K Black Metallic (Japanese) Capacitors and two AMI BIOS Chip(s) just in case you messed up. Also for hard-core PC builder who wants to freeze their computer to death, the motherboard is equipped with 8 x 4-pin Fan connectors. Now, if you are clever, you can easily achieve 14 Fans for your build. This will depends on your Case, PSU and Radiators.
This is overclocking heaven for nerds like you, yeah… the world knows about it as well. So, admit it if you read this article.
If you decide to stack multiple GPU(s) and ran out of room for additional PCI-E Soundcard, then you seriously need to check out ASUS SupremeFX Chipet (Onboard). This chipset is primed and loaded with 120dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio), integrated 600 ohm-headphone amplifiers and provides EMI Shielding (Electromagnetic Interference) + German quality WIMA film capacitors. Now that is immersive gameplay and true – to – life surround sound!
Another feature you might want to check out is “LN2 slow mode”, because, this little guy is pretty useful if you are benchmarking under dangerous temperature (– 75C). In other terms, if you are using Dry ICE (cardice), activating “LN2 Mode” will eliminating the cold bug issues found in some processors during extreme overclocking. Not only that, the motherboard will immediately lower processor frequency and other parts of the system to maintain stability while you increase / decrease temperature.
Weird, didn’t know CPU could have a cold like us… *shrug* …
Second on the lists is the PCI-E Lane Switch. It features four tiny dip-switches just for those who encounter problems with their PCI-E slots. This will come in-handy if you are running water loops through your GPU(s) blocks and don’t want to waste time draining or checking individual cards the hard way. Instead of doing all that, you can flip each switches and find the faulty ones.
Third on the lists is ASUS trusty Wi-Fi Moving Antenna. This birdy is capable running AC frequency if your ‘Wireless Router’ supports it. But, don’t worry if you don’t have AC Wireless Routers as it is backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n. Also, don’t you forget to thanks ASUS R&D / Engineers for these fabulous features. It’s rare to get a hold of AC-Wifi Antenna / USB Dongle as it is VERY expensive! Also to mention, Vietnam doesn’t stock any of these. If you manage to find one, then I shall congratulate you!
Fourth on the lists of fame, ASUS had gone through considerable changes for R4B – UEFI Bios. When you access the BIOS screen, it offers user-friendly interface with the option to access advance mode that goes beyond traditional keyboard-only BIOS configuration. Also, for those who prefer updating their BIOS without having to access the menu, you can opt for EZ-Flash Black that will automatically do everything without booting. However, to accomplish this, you will need to download “ASUS Bios Renamer” and consult the initial updates with the manual.
Finally, looking at the rear I/O back panel, it reveals:
4 x USB 2.0 / 6 x USB 3.0 port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard + Mouse port
1 x CMOS – EZ Flash Back button (top) + the ROG Connect button (bottom)
2 x SATA III E-SATA (RED)
1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Jack
1 x Bluetooth 4.0 + Wifi 802.11 A/B/G/N/AC
1 x SupremeFX Audio Jack + Optical SPDIF (in/out) port
In conclusion, we realized that ASUS / ROG has gone way off this world. It also features many things that overclocker, gamers and enthusiast wants! You name it – 10K Metallic CAPS, 60 AMPS Chokes, AC Ready Wifi, Supreme FX Chipset (Soundcard) and many more. But, it doesn’t stop there: in the previous model, R4E only supports 8 SATA ports (4 x SATA 6Gb/s + 4 x SATA 3Gb/s). Now everybody can take advantage of 10 x SATA ports (6 x SATA 6Gb/s + 4 x SATA 3Gb/s). That is pretty awesome, if not, that is absolutely insane!
Oh, another thing we also forgot to mention is a FREE copy of Assassins Creed: Black Flag and the new OC Panel where you can monitor / tweak / overclock to your heart’s content.
Today on our list, we shall be looking at “WD My Passport” USB 3.0 -500GB HDD (Black). For those who prefer other flavours instead of black, they can be found in RED, BLUE, SILVER, WHITE and supports other models, such as: 750GB, 1TB and 2TB just for those who wants more capacity.
Looking at the external drive, WD offers a well-rounded sleek design that is durable and small enough for easy transport. Judging the outer case itself, it was built with ‘anodized aluminium’ and ‘matte plastic finish’ that contrast nicely with the top shell (dotted patterns). You can take a closer look at the picture below…
HDD Interface: USB 3.0 @ 5GB/s -5400 RPM
HDD Interface: 2.5″ SATA
HDD Dimensions: 111 x 82 x 15 mm
Weight: 138g (0.30 Pounds)
Available colours: Black / Red / Blue / Silver / White (Drive Capacity May Vary)
Item model Number: WDBKXH5000ABK
HD Tune shows us the maximum speed at around 113.4 MB/s, with average transfer rates dropping around 84 MB/s. Burst rate shows a peak of 164.0 MB/s. That is not bad performance, but failed to surpass ADATA HD710 external drive just by a tiny fractions.
In conclusion, WD does a good job and continues to offer solid performance / quality assurance for consumers who need a portable hard drive. The company even pre-formatted their hard drive as NTFS formats just to save time for those who doesn’t know how to format. However, there is one concern: the hard drive are packed with applications that a lot of user will never use or delete without checking. If the user wants the application, they can download them at WD official website. The company should have left the hard drive clean.
- It’s well built, durable and easy to transport.
- It’s shockproof and protects valuable data.
- Aesthetically appealing, sleek and utterly lightweight.
- Supports quick data transfer at 5GB/s with USB 3.0 technology.
- Very quiet operations.
- It operates @ 5200 RPM. Therefore, it’s limited to around 100-110 MB/s.
- Consumers hate add-ons and bloat-wares. WD shouldn’t force these tactics on their products. They should at least provide a link on the manual.