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Antec Kühler H20 650 Review

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
£54.99
US price (as reviewed): $69.99

If you’ve got around £50 to spend on a CPU cooler, then you’ve got quite a decision on your hands. There are dozens of great examples – both air and liquid-cooled to choose from and most of these will fit into your average enthusiast case too. Decisions aren’t based just on cooling performance either; there’s also noise to consider and in some cases colours and bling too as we saw with the Phanteks PH-TC14PE.

Of course, all-in-one liquid coolers are still very much in the limelight and if we had the option, they’re probably where our money would go. They top our cooling graphs and many cost less than some of the large premium air coolers out there too. We recently looked at Antec’s Kühler H20 950, which received awards for both our test systems thanks to great cooling, excellent software control and easy mounting. However, if £60 is your limit but you still want to delve into liquid cooling, then Antec has a slightly cheaper option.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
The Kühler H20 650 is essentially a half height radiator, single fan-version of the Kühler H20 950 and retails for a more modest £55, which is one of the cheapest all-in-one liquid coolers we’ve seen. It still features the combined fan and pump assembly as its bigger brother as well as the directional blades at the rear to focus airflow.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
Thermal paste is pre-applied and there’s the same mounting mechanism employed as the Kühler H20 950 too with a ring locking onto the cooler and securing using thumb screws with a backplate used on LGA115X and AMD systems. There’s surprisingly few bits to contend with but that’s exactly the way it should be, especially with anall-in-one liquid cooler.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
The radiator as we’ve already mentioned is a half height model but while it won’t be able to keep up with full size examples like the larger Kühler H20 950, we’ve found they’re not far off in cooling terms and take up less space too. The contact plate and waterblock, being minus a pump, is very low profile indeed so this is one of the more compact all-in-one liquid coolers we’ve tested. The single fan is actually controlled using an on-board temperature monitor rather than tapping into the motherboard’s fan signals, with the temperature also feeding into an illuminated plate on top of the waterblock, which changes colour.

Antec Kühler H20 650 Review Antec Kühler H20 650 Review
When we looked in the box, we assumed there were two fans, however, the extra fan-shaped contraption is a standoff, which Antec claims reduces resistance at the rear of the radiator between it and the case, improving airflow. The extra screws provided can of course be used to mount an extra fan too. Sadly, one thing that is missing is software control – there’s no way to manually control the fan so you’re left at the mercy of the integrated firmware dishing out fan speeds based on the temperature.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775 and LGA1366 LGA115x, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size(mm) 120 x 159 x 27
  • Fan size (mm) 120 x 120 x 25 (W x D x H)
  • Fan(s) 1 x 120mm, 600 -2,400RPM
  • Tubing length 300
  • Waterblock height (mm) 26
  • Stated Noise not stated

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MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX

MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX

MSI looks set to continue its support for mini-ITX when Intel’s Z97 chipset arrives


Following a leak that showed images of future products, MSI has released a few previously locked-down images of its new range of motherboards.

We’re assuming they sport Intel’s anticipated Z97 chipset, which still uses LGA1150 CPUs, and is set for launch this summer.

As we reported here, there will be several ‘Gaming-series’ motherboards, but the images show Gaming 3, Gaming 5, Gaming 7 and Gaming 9 name titles in addition to a mini-ITX board.

Many of the boards feature 802.11ac WiFi adaptors, with the mini-ITX board sporting what appears to be a custom, integrated adaptor on the I/O panel, rather than a standard slot on the PCB.

The Gaming 9 model looks like quite a beast, with an imposing red and black colour scheme and we also spotted an M.2 expansion slot between the two lower 16x PCI-E slots along with voltage measuring points near the on-board power button.

MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
The Gaming 3, Gaming 5 and Gaming 7 also offer the M.2 expansion slot, which suggests this will be a familiar feature on Z97 boards, although it appears to be absent from the funky-looking mini-ITX model.

What do you make of MSI’s new line-up? Let us know in the forum.

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Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

The Logitech K830, designed specifically for home theatre use, boasts soft-touch keys for quiet typing and an integrated trackpad where the number pad would normally sit.


Peripherals giant Logitech has unveiled an illuminated keyboard designed specifically for home-theatre PC (HTPC) use, dropping the traditional number pad in favour of a touch-sensitive trackpad.

Dubbed the Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830, which we’ll refer to as the Logitech K830 from now to save wear on our own keyboards, the new device boasts a rechargeable internal battery, illuminated back-lit keys and the aforementioned trackpad to serve as a single-unit solution for pointing and pressing.

More and more consumers want an easy way to access movies, TV programs, music and photos with their PC connected to a TV,‘ claimed Logitech’s Charlotte Johs at the unveiling. ‘Our new Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 is designed with this setup in mind. Backlit keys and a premium aesthetic that blends into the living room make it a stand-out choice for people with connected TVs.

The Logitech K830 shows a few design tweaks that suggest the company has certainly been considering the requirements of the HTPC and Smart TV enthusiast in its creation: silent-action soft-feel keys reduce typing noise, the integrated backlighting adjusts its brightness depending on ambient conditions and switches off five seconds after you’ve finished typing, and the keyboard’s slim design should make storage a cinch. As with Logitech’s previous wireless products, the K830 uses the company’s Unifying receiver – meaning the K830 can be coupled with a more traditional mouse or trackball while still using only a single receiver.

Logitech has confirmed plans to release the K830 in the US and Europe later this month, with a recommended retail price of €99.99 (around £60, excluding taxes.)

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module, seen docked into the open hardware IO board, packs the power of a Model B into a SODIMM form factor.


The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the impending launch of a new computer-on-module (CoM) version of its popular low-cost microcomputer, offering all the functionality of the full-sized models in a SODIMM form factor.

Taking the same 67.6mm x 30mm footprint as a laptop memory module, and borrowing the same connector for ease of manufacture, the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module features the same BCM2835 system-on-chip processor and 512MB of RAM as its full-sized equivalent. 4GB of on-board storage is also included, a first for the Pi family.

The Pi’s various connectors, however, are spread onto a motherboard which includes full access to the processor’s various features. While lacking the network connectivity of the full-size Model B, which requires the use of a USB-connected hub and Ethernet chip external to the BCM2835, the IO board includes access to all the chip’s on-board facilities – including its general-purpose input-output (GPIO) capabilities.

Unlike the full-size Pi, the IO board – but not the Compute Module itself – will be released as open hardware, the Foundation has confirmed. This will allow manufacturers to customise the boards for their own requirements, adding in features such as the missing Ethernet connector or building entirely new layouts such as blade-style multi-core boards with multiple Compute Modules. It will also make it easer for manufacturers to consider building commercial products around the Compute module, integrating the more compact design into their boards without the need to find the credit-card footprint needed by the original Pi design.

Here, however, the Pi enters a relatively crowded market. SODIMM-sized computer-on-module boards are nothing new, and the Pi’s underpowered ARM processor – a sacrifice made by Broadcom in exchange for surprisingly powerful multimedia capabilities, a feature likely lost on the industrial market – will likely mean an uphill struggle for market share. The Foundation has indicated that it intends to compete on price, and while there are no official figures for the kit which bundles a single module with the IO board it has indicated a unit price of around $30 per unit in trays of 100 for the Compute Module itself.

More details are available on the Raspberry Pi website.

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Unreal Engine to get Linux, SteamOS support

Unreal Engine to get Linux, SteamOS support

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4.1, now available for just $19 a month and five per cent royalties, is to receive preliminary Linux support.


Epic Games’ Mike Fricker has confirmed that his company’s next Unreal Engine update, version 4.1, will include Linux support – including full compatibility with Valve’s prototype SteamOS distribution and Steam Machine platforms.

Following rival Crytek’s announcement that the next release of CryEngine will include support for Linux, Epic’s popular Unreal Engine becomes yet another big name offering support for developers looking to target the open-source operating system. This sudden explosion of interest, after years of neglect, can be attributed directly to Valve’s SteamOS distribution, a customised version of Debian Linux with integrated support for the Steam digital distribution platform.

Folks have been asking about our early Linux efforts and support for Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machines,‘ wrote Fricker in a blog post late last night. ‘We have good news for you! The 4.1 source code has initial support for running and packaging games for Linux and SteamOS. We love Linux!

Fricker has not yet detailed how ‘initial’ the support truly is, although there is a warning that it will require the developer to compile the engine from source rather than using pre-compiled binaries, but regardless of the state of Linux compatibility when Unreal Engine 4.1 launches it’s a clear indicator that it will be included in the engine going forward – and will only improve over time.

Additional new features of Unreal Engine 4.1 include additional templates, improved user experience through new assistants and layout functions, an undo history window, the ability to jump directly to connections in graphs, an experimental translation editor, and numerous bug fixes.

Epic is also giving all Unreal Engine subscribers – who pay $19 plus five per cent of their revenue to use the engine – access to the assets used in the Elemental demonstration first released in 2012. If you’ve forgotten what that looks like, there’s a reminder embedded below.

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Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft’s Build keynote this year included plenty of surprises, from universal apps that can run on Windows devices as well as the Xbox One to the impending return of the Start Menu.


Attendees at Microsoft’s annual Build summit last night were treated to a three-hour keynote speech in which the company announced some dramatic diversions from the norm – including free copies of Windows for phones and tablets, the return of the Start Menu, and Windows apps on the Xbox One.

It’s usual for Microsoft to queue up announcements for the Build event, which is the biggest in its calendar; it’s not usual, however, for it to have quite so many announcements to make as during its keynote session at last night’s opening. Some of the changes, in particular the release of free copies of Windows for mobile devices, will likely have a heavy impact on the future of the company – and it’s not hard to see new chief executive Satya Nadella, a man who has already bemoaned the company’s delayed entry into the mobile market, as the driving force behind much of what occurred last night.

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Microsoft announced the impending launch of Windows 8.1 Update 1, the first major overhaul for what was previously known as Windows Blue. Much of the changes are user experience oriented, rather than under-the-hood overhauls, and many will be welcomed by users: the Desktop and Modern UIs are to be more closely linked, with Modern UI apps being accessible in windowed form from the Desktop interface – allowing a mixing of old and new which was previously verboten.

The new update will also include faster access to the Windows Store – more on which later – by pre-pinning it to the taskbar, and the ability to power off or restart your PC, perform searches and access settings are now available on the main Start Screen instead of hidden off to the side. The update, Microsoft has confirmed, will launch on the 8th of April – the same date, coincidentally, that Windows XP enters official end of life (EOL) status.

The biggest change, however, will have to wait for a future update: the reintroduction of the Start Menu, the absence of which is many users’ biggest bugbear surrounding Windows 8 and newer. Based heavily on the Windows 7 Start Menu, the new version will integrated selected functionality – like Live Tiles – from the Start Screen in an attempt to create a hybrid that will appeal to all. No formal date has been offered for its availability, however.

Mobile Push
A large portion of the keynote was dedicated to Microsoft’s increasingly heavy push to mobile users, where is software is in a distinct minority. As well as new Windows Phone 8.1 devices from Nokia and Samsung, the company confirmed that the new release – a free upgrade to all Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets – will include an Action Centre which appears to riff on the similar functionality available in Google’s rival Android platform.

The company also announced Cortana, its answer to the popularity of voice-activated assistants Google Now and Siri. Based on the artificial intelligence from the Halo series – which, as a major plot point, went crazy, so that’s an interesting marketing angle to take – Cortana will be a standard feature of Windows Phone 8.1.

Finally, Microsoft made what could possibly be the only announcement that could give it real impetus in the fight against Google: Windows will now be licensable at zero cost on all smartphones and tablet devices with a screen size of less than nine inches. Although Google’s basic Android OS is also free – and, in fact, largely open-source – the company has charged for access to the Google Play app store and other Google-specific functionality, while Microsoft’s impressive portfolio of patents has been used to ‘encourage’ Android licensees – including big names like Samsung – to pay Microsoft a fee for every handset shipped.

To put it bluntly: Microsoft’s free Windows for mobiles is cheaper than Google’s free Android – no mean feat.

Universal Apps
The final surprise of the event was confirmation of a long-held rumour that Microsoft’s Xbox One console will be able to run Windows applications. Using a new cross-platform runtime environment, Microsoft explained, developers will be able to build apps that can run on Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox One – and buyers can pay once to run the app on any of the aforementioned devices.

The move doesn’t exactly open up the Xbox ecosystem – apps available on the Xbox One will be even more heavily curated than those available on Windows Phone, with developers needing to seek Microsoft’s approval – but with promises that DirectX 12 will lead to similar cross-platform functionality for games, it’s hard to see it as bad news.

If the above summary isn’t enough for your appetite, the full keynote session featuring speakers David Treadwell, Joe Belfiore, Stephen Elop, Terry Myerson and new leader Satya Nadella is available for your three-hour viewing pleasure.

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Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel has announced the formation of a Smart Device Innovation Centre in Shenzen, back by a $100 million Intel Capital fund, alongside the release of an IoT gateway product line.


Intel is continuing its push into the it’ll-take-off-any-day-now-honest wearable computing market with a major investment in China, founding a Smart Device Innovation Centre backed by a $100 million fund from Intel Capital.

That Intel is focusing heavily on low-power embedded systems for wearable computing is no secret. Having been caught on the hop with the mobile computing boom, allowing Cambridge-based rival ARM to gain an overwhelming majority market share, the company is adamant it won’t make the same msitake twice. In September last year, Intel Capital invested in Recon Instruments, Intel proper recently picked up Basis Science, and the Quark processor and Edison computer-on-module are clearly designed for low-power ultra-compact computing.

Now, chief executive Brian Krzanich has announced a new plan to push its low-power and wearable computing efforts still further with a little help from Shenzen. Announced at the company’s Chinese Developer Forum today, a new deal will see the company establish the Intel Smart Device Centre in Shenzen and introduce a $100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund to encourage the use of Intel products in future low-power devices.

The China technology ecosystem will be instrumental in the transformation of computing, claimed Krzanich in his speech. ‘To help drive global innovation, Intel will stay focused on delivering leadership products and technologies that not only allow our partners to rapidly innovate, but also deliver on the promise that “if it computes, it does it best with Intel” – from the edge device to the cloud, and everything in between.

Krzanich also announced the launch of the awkwardly-named Intel Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things, a router based on Intel’s Quark and Atom chips for connecting low-power wearable and embedded sensors to a network, and demonstrated for the first time his company’s SoFIA integrated mobile system-on-chip design, an all-in-one chip for smartphones and tablets with which Intel hopes to challenge ARM’s dominance.

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AMD partners with Mentor on embedded Linux

AMD partners with Mentor on embedded Linux

AMD is hoping to encourage adoption of its G-series and R-series embedded chips with a partnership on a commercially-supported embedded Linux with Mentor Graphics.


AMD has confirmed that it will continue to target the low-power embedded computing market, announcing a multi-year partnership with Mentor Graphics to ensure high-quality support for AMD’s upcoming accelerator processing units (APUs).

The deal will see Mentor Graphics, which produces its own Mentor Embedded Linux distribution and boasts full Yocto Project compatibility for embedded development, work to create a standardised development toolchain with updated board support packages (BSPs) for the upcoming AMD Embedded G-Series Steppe Eagle system-on-chip and AMD Embedded R-Series Bald Eagle APU and CPU products.

Naturally, Mentor is looking to profit from the deal by charging developers for use of the Mentor Embedded Linux distribution, toolchain and support; the company has, however, pledged to offer a Mentor Embedded Linux Lite platform which provides the essentials required for evaluation at no cost.

The Lite version, the company explained, will include binary images of the root file system and kernel, access to the source of all open source components – a non-negotiable requirement of their use, as it happens – and an upgrade path to the full Mentor Embedded Linux distribution. Should developers choose to upgrade, they’ll receive commercial terms for project development including the promise of bug fixes, security patches and product updates, an Eclipse-based Sourcery CodeBench integrated development environment supporting Windows and Linux hosts, and the option of customisation services for back-porting, long-term support and tailored board support packages. A free Sourcery CodeBench Lite toolchain, command-line based and unsupported, will also be made available.

For AMD, the deal is proof that the company is serious about competing with both Intel and overwhelming majority shareholder ARM in the embedded market. ‘Partnering with the largest independent embedded Linux and tools vendor in the market today is an exciting step forward as we continue to invest in the embedded market,‘ said AMD’s general manager of embedded solutions Scott Aylor. ‘We are providing the embedded development community an opportunity for choice, and this agreement with Mentor Graphics brings the embedded community an open-source platform to help tailor and expand their development.

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Nadella confirms new roles for Elop, Guthrie, Spencer

Nadella confirms new roles for Elop, Guthrie, Spencer

Satya Nadella is continuing to make fundamental changes to Microsoft’s executive appointments, announcing new roles for Stephen Elop, Phil Spencer and Scott Guthrie.


Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella is continuing to shake up the company’s executive line-up, announcing new and expanded roles for Stephen Elop, Phil Spencer and Scott Guthrie.

Taking over from Ballmer, who remains on Microsoft’s board of directors, Nadella has been attempting to revitalise the company with a new-broom approach – and, with Microsoft stock hitting a 14-year high, shareholders certainly seem to appreciate his efforts. Previous changes at the top include the departures of Tony Bates and Tami Reller, with Nadella’s hand also being heavily implicated in Antoine Leblond’s exit earlier this week.

Nadella’s latest changes see Stephen Elop, who left Microsoft to run Nokia only to return to the fold when the company was acquired by his former paymaster, appointed executive vice-president of the Microsoft Devices Group. Reporting directly to Nadella, Elop will oversee the integration of Nokia’s devices and services division into Microsoft, as well as partnering with the Xbox division on combined gaming efforts.

On the latter topic, Phil Spencer has been given the role of leading a new division combining the previous Xbox and Xbox Live development teams with the Microsoft Studios software publishing arm. Reporting to Terry Myerson, Spencer is to lead the Xbox, Xbox Live, Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Microsoft Studios teams. ‘Our community is at the heart of what we do at Xbox,‘ Spencer claimed in the announcement of his new role. ‘Whether it is meeting thousands of fans at the launch of Xbox One, talking at industry events or hearing from gamers on Twitter and Xbox Live, I am actively listening and I am motivated to do what’s right for fans who’ve invested their time, hearts and money in the products we build.

Finally, Nadella has announced that Scott Guthrie, a Microsoft employee since 1997 and driving force behind the .NET project, has been promoted to the role of executive vice president for the company’s cloud and enterprise arm.

Recently, I’ve discussed with the Microsoft leadership team the need to zero in on what truly makes Microsoft unique,‘ Nadella told staff in an all-employees email announcing the appointments. ‘As I said on my first day, we need to do everything possible to thrive in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The announcements last week, our news this week, the Nokia acquisition closing soon, and the leaders and teams we are putting in place are all great first steps in making this happen.

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Nvidia launches Tegra-based Jetson K1 SBC

Nvidia launches Tegra-based Jetson K1 SBC

Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor forms the heart of the Jetson K1, a new hobbyist-targeted single-board computer from the graphics giant.


Nvidia has announced plans to get into the hobbyist development market with the launch of a new single-board computer based around its Tegra K1 system-on-chip (SoC) processor: the Jetson K1.

Based on a compact board layout measuring just 127mm x 127mm and 26mm in height, the Jetson K1 packs at its heart a Tegra K1 SoC boasting 192 Kepler-class graphics processing cores and the company’s traditional quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores with a fifth low-power companion core for background tasks. 2GB of memory is included on the board, along with a 16GB eMMC flash module for local storage – expandable through an SD slot or the on-board SATA port.

The board also boasts a singular half-mini-PCIe slot, a single USB 2.0 port and a further USB 3.0 port, on-board Realtek-powered gigabit Ethernet connectivity, analogue audio input and output, an RS232 serial port, a full-size HDMI port and a 4MB boot flash module. An expansion port also offers a number of general-purpose input-output (GPIO) connections, along with serial UART, I2C, HSIC, SPI, CSI and DisplayPort or LVDS digital video outputs.

Zotac has confirmed that it will be bringing the Jetson K1 to the UK, but has yet to announce availability and pricing. Nvidia’s US arm, meanwhile, is taking pre-orders for the device in North America for $192 (around £116 excluding taxes) – making it a significantly pricier alternative to the popular, although considerably less powerful, Raspberry Pi.

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