Saturday, June 30, 2012

Corsair H100 CPU Water Cooler Review by Kirk Spencer

Keeping a CPU cool is an important task that also helps extend its life expectancy. This task becomes even more important when overclocking is considered. As the stock voltage is increased to reach higher potentials of a CPU, the temperature will also increase. Recent processors from Intel have an uncanny potential to be significantly overclocked. Today we're going to test
out the Corsair H100 by overclocking a second generation Core i5-2500k processor. We'll measure temperatures at the stock level and then at overclocked speeds idle and at full CPU load after a couple hours. It's time to see how this monster of a water cooling unit stacks up.
The Corsair H100 is a sealed water cooling unit. I can't say enough how nice it is to get the benefit of water cooling without having to put anything together and there's no worry of leaks. Enthusiasts looking to squeeze every last drop of performance out of a processor should take note that they don't have to hassle with hoses and fluid and everything else that goes along
with a water cooling unit that is not pre-sealed. The H100 has a large radiator which takes up essentially two 120mm fan slots, so you need to make sure there is plenty of room in your case. We've installed it in our Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 case.
· Radiator dimensions: 122mm x 275mm x 27mm
· Fan dimensions: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
· Fan speed: 1300 - 2600RPM
· Fan airflow: 46 - 92 CFM
· Fan dBA: 22 - 39 dBA
· Fan static pressure: 1.6 - 7.7mm/H20

When you see a box like this on your doorstep it's bound to put a smile on your face. The H100 comes with all the individual parts wrapped up. The contents are as follows:
· Corsair H100 Extreme-performance liquid CPU Cooler
· Corsair Link Digital connector
· Two 120mm fans with mounting screws
· Multi-platform mounting kit (Intel LGA 1366, 1155, 1156, 775, and 2011.AMD AM2 and AM3)
· Thermal compound (pre-applied)
· Quick start guide

I've said it already and I will say it again, the Corsair H100 is a no hassle easy to install water cooling unit. The only issue we ran into had to do with our case being a bit too big for the 120mm fan setup. We still got it mounted securely to the top of the case. Once the unit was mounted to
the case and the fans were on we attached the mounting kit for our Core-i5 processor and motherboard. To reiterate a point, make sure you have room for two side by side 120mm fans to mount this unit to. The pump itself is relatively small so you won't have to worry about it getting in the way of memory modules which is definitely a welcomed change over the larger silent air
cooling alternatives.
Noise Level
The Corsair H100 has a digital fan control button on the pump which lets you choose between three levels of fan control: 1) quiet 2)performance 3) balanced profiles. The H100 also supports the Corsair Link Cooling Kit. As you might have guessed the quiet fan control setting keeps the fans at a db level where they are practically silent even when the cpu is running at a max load. The performance setting runs the fans at a noticeably higher db level.
To start off we have a second generation Intel Core i5-2500k processor. We installed the Corsair H100 on this computer and set all of the bios settings to their default settings. Each processor is going to be somewhat different, this should give you an idea of what you can expect out of the
performance of this liquid cooling unit.
The CPU with all the stock settings at idle hung out at around 25-26 degrees Celsius and never really went over 30 degrees Celsius.
This is where it gets really interesting. We cranked the processor up to maximum loads and the temperatures never went above 46 degrees Celsius! That staggering result left our jaws dropping to the floor. With those numbers in hand it was time to put the pedal to the metal and overclock this CPU. Rather than do some insane overclock that would barely post we wanted to
demonstrate what this cooler was capable of by overclocking the CPU by about 1GHz above its stock speeds. This is a reasonable setting which you could keep it at 24/7. Our voltage levels had to be increased and any increase to the voltage will result in an increase to temperature settings.
Our idle temperatures with the Core i5-2500k overclock stayed at an average of 32 degrees Celsius. The increase in temperature here is only a slight increase for the performance gain we're getting at a speed of 4.4 GHz.
At full load the temperatures never went above 60 degrees Celsius! These results speak for themselves. You can expect staggering results from Corsair's H100 sealed liquid cooling unit. If you're looking at overclocking your CPU, this is definitely a safe, easy and highly effecting

If you are looking for extreme cooling at a reasonable price, the Corsair H100 is a solid bet. We didn't have to worry about leaks or the fluid levels or any of that mess. The installation was easy and we experienced extreme cooling with no hassle. Corsair has put together something we can all lust after. Heck with a current price tag of $109.99 on you should be running out and getting one! If you're in the market for a cooling solution for your CPU we highly recommend picking up the Corsair H100. You will not be disappointed. Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Corsair H100 has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Alpine Type-S SWS-10D4 10 Inch Subwoofer Review

If you like bass and car stereos, there is one way to get it. It is called a subwoofer. Subwoofers come in all shapes and sizes. Mostly round, some are square. Most are big, and some can be just huge. Up for review today is a subwoofer more on the smaller size, being a 10" model. It is the Alpine SWS-10D4 .
Don't let it's smaller size fool ya. One thing I like about technology is that it is always changing. The new technology tends to debut on the top of the line models. Then it can work it's way down the product line. This is also true with Alpine. The Alpine SWS-10D4 benefits from technology previously found on it's SWR-10D4 line.
It's features and specs:
Power Handling Range: 150W - 500 Watts RMS
Power Handling: 500W
Peak Power Handling: 1500W
Dimensions Mounting Depth: 141mm (5.6'')
Mounting Diameter: 226mm (8.875'')
Displacement: 0.04 cu. Ft.
Added Volume: 0.06 cu. ft. (Reverse Mount, Magnet Out)
Frequency Response: 28Hz - 200Hz
Material: Oversized Hairline-Textured Mica Poly Dustcap w/ Kevlar Reinforced Pulp Paper Cone Design: 2-Piece Parabolic
Surround Material: Injected Molded Santoprene
Design: High Amplitude Multi-Roll H.A.M.R Surround Design (Patent Pending)
Spider Material: Conex
Design: 10 Segment High-Roll Progressive
Voice Coil Material: 180 degrees High Temp Wire on Sprial-Cut Aluminum Bobbin
Design: 6-Layer Dual Voice Coil
Motor Structure Pole Geometry: FEA Optimized Underhung Design w/ Dual-Sided Compound Radius Pole Geometry
Configuration: Dual Flared Design w/ Integrated Backplate Venting
Frame Material: 18GA High Strength Steel
Design: Alpine-Designed 5 Leg Structure w/ Integrated Radial Voice Coil Vents
Terminals Layout: One Sided Design: 8ga. Push Terminals
Tinsel Leads Design: Reinforced-Layer Spider Integration
Gasket Design: Concealed Mount Gasket System
The Alpine SWS-10D4 shipped in an attractive box with traditional alpine styling. It was printed with pictures of the sub, and some of it's specs. Opening the box showed protective packaging that included your typical cutout cardboard. Taking the subwoofer out of the cardboard and lifting it to take off the protective plastic bag, it had good heft to it.
I must say that I was impressed with the quality of the sub. Alpine is definitely making a statement with this model at such an aggressive price point. I had to keep reminding myself that MSRP is only $129.95!!!!
The quality of the materials was very good. The magnet was rather massive, with a wide vent hole down the center. The basket was stamped, rather than cast, but was expected at this point. And with a power heading of 500 watts RMS, the handling and use at a stamped basket is plenty sufficient. The spring loaded push terminals were of good quality, as well as the spider with sewing in tinsel leads. I also liked the ribbed surround, and rubber cover over the basket to give a clean lack once installed. It all came together to give a high quality looking product that also appeared to be a rather beastly looking subwoofer that would yield good performance. Also included was a user manual, and a couple wires for more simple wiring options for the dual voice coils.
So lets see how this all came together with the listening tests. I chose to go with the ported option in a 1.0 cu ft enclosure for more output. Fergie: Fergalicious has good output with low end extension. The bass was clean, and I was impressed at how well controlled the cone movement was, with the ribbed surround giving good excursion. Justin Timerlake: Sexyback, provided good output and played with very good authority, just as well as Fergalicious. The Alpine SWS-10D4 also provided very good impact and punch. Dead Or Alive: Lover Come Back To Me provided very good impact again, and the driver sounded only a tad muddy in trying to keep up with the quick beats. Finally turning to my old album Techmaster PB: Activate, and Time To Jam sounded very good. The SWS-10D4 not only played with very good authority for a 10 inch driver, it also had very good extension. The specs say it will play down to 28Hz, and I would tend to agree that it seemed fairly accurate. It did a very good job making my rear view mirror dance...always a good test. While the sound was not perfect, it did sound better and provide more output than a $129.95 10 inch subwoofer should.
Alpine usually does not surprise me. I have been using their products for 20 years, so I know to expect very high quality from them. But the Alpine SWS-10D4 surprised me with it's performance at it's price point. It definitely sounded like a much more expensive subwoofer. If you are either a bass head, or just looking for good quality bass at a cheap price, the answer is easy. Check out the Alpine SWS-10D4. You'll get a big bang, or boom, for your buck. At it's price point, products would typically earn our Value award, but based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Alpine SWS-10D4 has earned our Recommended Award (in fact, it's performance had come closer to the performance of some Highly Recommended award winners at over twice its price, than it should have at it's price point). It actually came close to earning our Highly Recommended Award, which is more typical of around a $300 price point. Excellent job Alpine! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at: Reference gear used included Kenwood Excelon DNX-9980HD Multimedia receiver, Alpine Type-X SPX-13PRO component speaker system, German Maestro MS 654010 component speaker system, Zed Audio Leviathan III 6 channel full range class D amplifier, JL Audio XD600/6 channel full range class D amplifier, Vide Audio Black Death Bass 1 Class GH subwoofer amp, AudioControl DQXS Digital Electronic Crossover/Equalizer.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Antec Kuhler H20 920 CPU Water Cooler Review

When it comes to computers, one of the biggest ways to increase performance is through overclocking. Overclocking however generates a lot of heat. And the CPU needs a good cooler. The best way to cool is through water cooling. Up for review today is the Antec Kuhler H20 920 CPU water cooler.
The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 works like a car radiator. There is a radiator that feeds water to the CPU. The water cools the CPU. This water that was heated by the CPU then goes back to the radiator. Dual fans, one on each side of the radiator, pushes and pulls air access the fins. This in turn cools the water back down. This endless cycle cools the CPU, just like a similar system cools the engine of a car.
Features and specs include:
-CPU Socket Compatibility:
- Intel LGA 2011/ 775 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366
- AMD AM2 / AM3 / AM2+ / AM3+
-Included software provides essential tools to control and monitor the KÜHLER H₂O 920
-Non-corrugated easy-bend tubes for maximum flexibility in radiator positioning
-Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) radiator fans generate the quietest high performance cooling
-Customizable RGB LED creates brilliant illumination
-Cooling Liquid - Safe, environmentally-friendly, anti-corrosive
-Fan Speed: 700 - 2400 RPM (PWM controlled)
-Tubing Length: 13.0" / 330 mm
-Radiator Dimensions:
- 5.6" (H) x 4.7" (W) x 1.9" (D) /
- 151 mm (H) x 120 mm (W) x 49 mm (D)
-Fan Dimensions:
- 4.7" x 1.0" / 120 mm x 25 mm
-Air Flow: - 110.0 CFM
-Noise Level: - 43 dBA
-Cold Plate + Pump Height: - 1.1" / 29 mm
-Net weight:- 2.4 lbs / 1.1 kg
-Gross weight:- 3.5 lbs / 1.6 kg
-AQ3 - Antec Quality 3 year limited warranty on parts and labor
The cooler came in an attractive box that included photos and info on the product. It came well packaged and protected. The quality of the components used were good, as well as the fit and finish. It also included simple to read instructions to help with the installation, as well as the software CD.
I really likes the design, features, and ease of use of the Kuhler H2O 920. Water cooling can sound a bit intimidating. But the Kuhler H2O 920 is easy to use and truly maintenance free. It was easy to install, and a fully sealed system. There is no need to check the fluid levels and worry about the fluids being low, or leaking. The product was well put together, and thanks to the quality of the connections, there were no leaks.
The included CD software was also very easy to use, and beneficial. It helps you monitor the CPU temperature, but it does more than that. There is also fan control, with multiple settings. The faster the fans, the more it helps to cool the coolant. The increased fan speed also increases sound levels. So there are different settings of silent, custom, and extreme, based on the current cooling needs of your system.
Performance of the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 CPU cooler was stellar. I love the software, that lets you customize the performance. I usually used the silent setting, but there is extreme that while loud does keep things cooler. And for somewhere in the middle, you can adjust the fan speeds for a custom setting. The pump only runs at full speed. It was comforting knowing I did not have to worry about CPU cooling when overclocking. And the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 really did keep things cool. At idle with basic loads such as web surfing in the silent setting, temps were only 33 degrees. And when at max loads it only went to 52 degrees. I really like this cooler!
I was impressed with the whole package that Antec gives in the Kuhler H2O 920. You get a great product with software that supports it well. The product was also built very well for years of use, and is a worthwhile investment with an MSPR of only $110. While there are cheaper solutions, such as the Kuhler H2O 620, the 920 gives you better features like the software to monitor and fully control the cooler. Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

JL Audio NexD XD600/6 6 Channel Full Range Class D Amplifier Review

When it comes to car stereo, it's about the music. Want to upgrade your sound from being powered by your receiver? The best way is to get a dedicated amplifier. And if you want a subwoofer for more bass, more amplifier power is needed. Add space to the problem and your number of solutions are more limited. Enter the JL XD600/6 amplifier.
It's specs and features include:
Rated Continuous (RMS) Power @ 14.4 V: @ 4 Ω75 W RMS x 6,@ 2 Ω100 W RMS x 6, Bridged @ 4Ω200 W RMS x 3
Rated Continuous (RMS) Power @ 12.5 V: @ 4 Ω60 W RMS x 6, @ 2 Ω90 W RMS x 6, Bridged @ 4Ω180 W RMS x 3
Frequency Response: 12 Hz - 22 kHz (+0, -1dB)
S/N Ratio, referred to highest rated power: >104 dB below rated power (A-weighted, 20 Hz - 20 kHz noise bandwidth)
S/N Ratio, referred to 1 W: >84 dB (A-weighted, 20 Hz - 20 kHz noise bandwidth)
Damping Factor @ 4 Ω: >150 / 50 Hz
Damping Factor @ 2 Ω: >75 / 50 Hz
THD+N @ Rated Power: <1% @ 2 Ω per Ch.
Input Voltage Range @ RCA Inputs: 100 mV - 4 V RMS
Min Copper Power / Ground Wire Gauge: 4 AWG wire
Fuse Rating: 50 A (AFS, AGU or MaxiFuse™)
Filter Modes: Low-Pass or High-Pass
Filter Slope (dB/Octave): 12dB
Filter Frequency Range: 50-500 Hz
Detented, Calibrated Filter Freq. Potentiometers: Yes
Filter Defeatable?: Yes
Remote Level Control: Optional (HD-RLC)
Remote Level Modes: 2 or 4 or All Channels
Channel Input Mode Switch: Yes (2/4/6 ch.)
Pass-Through Preamp Output Type: None
Source Channel Selection for PreOuts: N/A
Height (H): 2.05 in / 52 mm
Width (W): 10.23 in / 260 mm
Depth (D): 7.09 in / 180 mm
Net Weight: 5.8 lb / 2.63 kg
Often space for electronic gear, such as amps, can be really limited. Finding space for an amp for your door speakers and a subwoofer amp, can be difficult. There are multi-channel amps out there, like 5 and 6 channel amps that will work. And getting it in one amp can save space. But most still are rather large. The JL XD NexD amps are full range class D amps, and are very small in size.
The XD600/6 is a full system amp. With it's 6 channels of equal power, and built-in crossovers, there is a lot of flexibility. Channels 1-4 can power your door speakers, and channels 5-6 can be bridged to power a subwoofer. Or you can use all 6 channels to power front and rear door speakers, and maybe dedicating each channel to a dedicated driver in a component system. There are a lot of different configuration possibilities.
The amp came well packaged and double boxed. The box for the amp was printed with a good looking design. It featured pics of the amp, and some specs. And it was well packaged in the box with it's custom styrofoam pieces. Also included was a manual, and hex hey for taking off the front panel to gain access to the controls.
The quality is also very good. I would expect nothing less from JL Audio, and the XD600/6 does not disappoint. The amp is really small, especially for a 6 channel amp. And it has some really good heft to it. I like the styling with the black and natural aluminum colors. Fit and finish were very good, as was the quality of the components used. The crossovers and settings were well marked, but the gains not as much so. But after reading the manual, the gains were easy to get set. The built-in crossovers do not offer the most flexibility I have seen. But unless you are looking to run an active 3-way system, the range of the built-in crossovers should be sufficient.
As with other JL Audio products used, the JL Audio XD 600/6 performed very well. They are only rated at 75 watts per channel at 4 ohms at 14.4V (or 60 watts at 12.5V), but they seemed to provide more than that. The power was clean, and very transparent to the source material. The sound was also very full with detailed resolution. Using it to power an active system, the drivers sounded cleaner than previously heard. I was also pleased to see the amp ran fairly cool as well. It got warm, but not hot.
I was very pleased with the sound of some of the reference material I like to use. Fresh Aire I: Chocolate fudge had crisp percussion, clean drums, and the flute had good air. Justin Timberlake: Sexyback had good dynamics, and impactful bass. Boys II Men: Yesterday, was not only very smooth, they also had excellent timbre, resolution, and real depth to the vocals.
Performance of the JL Audio XD 600/6 was steller. I would have preferred a little more flexibility in the crossover section, but JL makes up for it in their extremely small size, and performance. Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the JL Audio XD600/6 has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear used included Kenwood Excelon DNX-9980HD Multimedia Receiver, German Maestro MS 654010 3-way component system, Alpine Type-X SPX-13PRO 2-way component system, Kicker 15" L7 subwoofer, AudioControl DQSX six channel digital crossover and equalizer, Zed Audio Leviathan III amplifier, Vibe Audio Black Death Bass 1 amplifier.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD Hard Drive Review by Kirk Spencer

Not too long ago we reviewed a few SSD drives and we mentioned that Kingston was going to get a chance to save face since they were the only ones to provide an Asynchronous NAND drive. Today we’re going to cover the Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD from Kingston. This drive uses Synchronous NAND. The box boasts speeds of 555 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write. Does the drive deliver? Read on!
Features and specs:
-SandForce controller technology
-High-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds
-Advanced Wear-Leveling Technology
-User-Configurable Over Provisioning4
-Performance — incredible speeds for enhanced productivity
-Reliable — much less likely to fail than a standard hard drive
-Shock-Proof — dropping your notebook no longer means losing your data
-Cool & Quiet — runs silent and with no moving mechanical parts to generate heat
-Innovative — uses NAND Flash memory components
-Supports TRIM — enhances device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks
-Supports S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)
-Guaranteed — three-year warranty (KC100 features a five-year warranty), free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability.
-Capacities1: 90GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
-Sequential reads2: SATA Rev. 3.090GB/120GB/240GB – 555MB/s480GB – 540MB/s
-Sequential writes2: SATA Rev. 3.090GB/120GB/240GB – 510MB/s480GB – 450MB/s
Kingston offers free tech support for the drive. They also provide a 3 year warranty for the HyperX 240GB 3K SSD.
Kingston really goes out of their way to make their HyperX line look amazing. Their 240GB HyperX 3K SSD is no exception. When you open the box you’ll see a shiny new drive packaged in shapely foam padding. The drive itself has a nice looking brushed metal plate that looks like an X with the HyperX logo in the top left corner and Kingston branding in the
lower right.You can guess by the size of the box that you’re not only getting an amazing SSD...there’s more inside that box! Pulling off the first layer which the SSD is sitting in you’ll uncover more
contents.Yes, that is a HyperX blue screwdriver you see. We’ve seen HD enclosures before with Kingston’s drives so that’s no surprise; however, the screwdriver is definitely new and a nice touch too. It’s a simple thing to include but I’ve used it several times already. The HD enclosure also has a nice brushed metal look to it.
The box also comes with a mounting bracket, a pair of SSD cables, a CD and a USB cable for the HD enclosure. That’s an impressive lineup of contents for an SSD drive.
SSD Controller
Underneath the SSD casing we can see that Kingston is using the same SF-2281 SandForce controller we saw from our previous Kingston SSDNOW V+200 drive and also from our OCZ Vertex 3 drive. One thing to keep in mind is that this SandForce controller does not handle incompressible data as well as compressible data. If you’re working constantly with incompressible data (files that have already been compressed: jpg, h264, rar, zip, 7z, etc.) then you might notice a performance hit. However, for everyday use the SandForce controller used in these drives delivers.
This Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD is a lower cost drive which uses 3K memory chips. The 3K is an idea of how many times you should be able to write the full capacity of the memory chip. This is a 240 GB drive which means I would have to roughly write 240 GBs of data to the drive 3,000 times before it would potentially die. For anyone concerned about this number lets break it down a little more. You’re looking at about 720 terabytes worth of data. If an average user writes let's say 960 GBs of data to the drive each month (yeah that’s probably far beyond what an average user would do but stick with me on this) that’s 4 full writes each month. At the end of a year we’re only at 48 full writes. You’re looking at about 62.5 years before you would hit the 3,000 full writes at this pace. Now let’s say you’re writing about 5760 GBs of data to the drive each month. That’s about 185 GB a day, 24 full writes a month and 288 full writes a year. You would still be able to get a little over 10 years out of it before you would hit the 3,000 full writes.
We’ll use the same set of applications as before to benchmark the 240GB HyperX 3K SSD: CrystalDiskMark, AS SSD Benchmark and ATTO Disk Benchmark.
AS SSD - Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD
If you look back to our review with the Corsair Force GT drive you’ll see it has similar numbers. This HyperX drive is slightly slower in the sequential read and 4K read than the Corsair drive, but it outperforms the Corsair Force GT drive in all other tests with AS SSD. Across the board the HyperX drive outperforms in write tests. The access times for the drive are also quite impressive.
CrystalDiskMark - Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD
We have similar results with the CrystalDiskMark software. Some of the write tests are slightly slower than the Corsair drive, but all of the writes are faster.
ATTO - Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD
The box for the Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD says that this drive should perform at 555 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write according to ATTO. We’re happy to say that our HyperX drive was able to slightly outperform these numbers on the box.
Some might consider the 3K series risky, but from our vantage point you get all the speed, less cost and an admirable life expectancy with no more real world risk than what other SSD drives might face. The Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD retails currently for about $289.99. The synchronous NAND packs a powerful punch giving us all the speed we crave from our SSDs. If you’re in the market for a new SSD the Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD is definitely one to add to the shopping cart. You just gotta love it's performance. Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD drive has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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