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THE REGION’S FAVOURITE PC & CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY GUIDE An ITP Technology Publication JUNE JANUARY 20112011

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JANUARY JUNE 20112011

LCD MONITOR BUILD A BUDGET GROUPTEST GAMING SCREAMER TOP 35 WEBSITES FEATURENEED BACKUP FOR BASICS SPEED HOT FEATURE PURSUIT SANDY GAME BRIDGE REVIEW MOTHERBOARD MIXED MARTIAL GROUPTEST ARTS GAME MORTAL REVIEW KOMBAT REVIEW

We show you how to build a budget gaming machine

GAME REVIEWS Mortal Kombat, Portal 2 and more reviewed this month...

GAME REVIEWS Civilization V, FIFA 11 and Medal of Honor

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CONTENTS 1

THE REGION’S FAVOURITE PC & CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY GUIDE An ITP Technology Publication JUNE JANUARY 20112011

www.itp.net www.itp.net

JANUARY JUNE 20112011

CONTENTS

LCD MONITOR BUILD A BUDGET GROUPTEST GAMING SCREAMER TOP 35 WEBSITES FEATURENEED BACKUP FOR BASICS SPEED HOT FEATURE PURSUIT SANDY GAME BRIDGE REVIEW MOTHERBOARD MIXED MARTIAL GROUPTEST ARTS GAME MORTAL REVIEW KOMBAT REVIEW

We show you how to build a budget gaming machine

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST

GAME REVIEWS Mortal Kombat, Portal 2 and more reviewed this month...

GAME REVIEW REVIEWS EVIEW VIE VIEW Civilization V, FIFA 11 and Medal of Honor

REVIEWS: Apple HP dm1 iPhone notebook 4 RIM ICON IVIO BlackBerry smartphone Torch CanonZBOX Zotac IXUS camera AD03 SFF MSI Wind Galaxy GTXU160DX 560 Ti GPU netbookmany and and more moretested... tested... DHS15 ‡65‡/(‡-'‡.'‡45‡//

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12 FEATURE 12 SUMMER SCREAMER Unless you want to get tanned, you'll want to spend summer indoors with a book or, better yet, games. Playing games on an old rig isn't fun however as you'll have to compromise with low graphics settings. Don't fret though as here we show you how to build a gaming screamer on a budget.

22

27

BACKUP BASICS

BRILLIANT BOARDS

22 FEATURE 22 BACKUP BASICS There are two types of data on every person's hard drive: data they don't care about and data they do care about. Given that any number of digital disasters can cause data loss, it's vital that you backup important data regularly. Here, we take you through the basics so you can secure your data on the right media.

27 GROUPTEST 27 BRILLIANT BOARDS

12

SUMMER SCREAMER

WIN

A PC is comprised of different components with the motherboard standing as the most important of the lot. The motherboard acts as the universal interface that allows every other component within a PC to talk to each other. It goes without saying then that the right board is key. With the launch of its latest line of processors, known as Sandy Bridge, Intel has added yet another CPU socket to the computing world and, of course, new chipsets. To this end we've gathered six of the latest Sandy Bridge motherboards on the market to run them through our test gauntlet, so we can tell you which is worth getting and which should be left by the way side. So, if you're keen on building a Sandy Bridge rig, don't waste another second, flip over and get busy reading.

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2 CONTENTS 6 6 7 8

NEWS

37

MICROSOFT NABS SKYPE WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST LAUNCHES FACEBOOK PAGE BLACKBERRY LAUNCHES APP STORE IN UAE

35 HOT KIT REVIEWS 37 38 39 40 41 42

HP PAVILION DM1 NOTEBOOK IVIO ICON DE38 SMARTPHONE LEENO I73461SV SFF PC ZOTAC AD03 PLUS SFF PC AOC VITTA T2442E LCD INTEL 510 SERIES SSD DRIVE

44 BUYER'S GUIDE THE BIGGEST TECH REFERENCE GUIDE 45 45 46 46 47 47 48 48 49 49

COMPONENTS DESKTOPS DIGITAL IMAGING HANDHELDS MONITORS NOTEBOOKS PERIPHERALS PRINTERS SOFTWARE STORAGE

50 GAME ON 50 54

NEWS MORTAL KOMBAT

56

PORTAL 2

60 REGULARS 60 62

COMPETITIONS CD CONTENTS

64

LOGGING OFF

38

40

42


Complete your PC Complete your PC


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4 REGULARS

Editor’s letter An ITP Technology Publication

LOGGING ON Visit WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST online and read this content and much more at www.itp.net

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

ALL SET FOR SUMMER While summer may be a bummer for some, I actually look forward to it because this is the part of the year that forces me to stay indoors and get my geek on. While I was previously unaware of just how much time I was spending indoors, over the last several years I’ve taken to planning what I’m going to do with my indoor time. Last year for instance I planned a system upgrade since my gaming rig at home was last upgraded in 2007. When you consider what has happened in the tech world between then and 2010, my rig was seriously out-of-date and in need of some proper attention. If you're still using an older rig to game with you should check out our ‘Summer of fun’ feature on page 12. We show you how to build a DirectX 11 gaming monster on a budget of just $1,100. However, if you don’t want to rebuild your rig but rather just need to swap in a new motherboard and CPU, you'll find our Sandy Bridge motherboard grouptest on page 27. Just choose a board and fit a processor that fits your budget. While I’m on the topic of motherboards, I would like to highlight that Windows is, and always will be, an unbiased and impartial technology publication. I thought it important to raise this point this month because as I’m sure you’re aware, Asus got into hot water with the local media for trying to run a rather odd ‘competition’ last month. The competition would reward journalists with certain gifts if they participated and won. To win, you would have to put together an inordinately large amount of coverage about their products in just a handful of magazines. While I wrote back urging them to withdraw the misguided campaign, as it would only damage their reputation and relationship with the technology community, word leaked out about the campaign and within a day, there was an uproar that ultimately hurt their reputation. For me, the timing couldn’t have been worse since Asus had already sent us its products for our grouptest. However let me assure you, the campaign I mentioned had nothing to do with the fact that we included them. They are featured because they adhered to our guidelines about when we were doing the grouptest and when the cutoff date was for receiving products. What happened to Asus should serve as a lesson to any company contemplating gaining coverage by trying to bribe journalists. I can assure you that bribes do not fly with me, and as a result, Windows Middle East. Products and companies are featured if they are relevant to what we’re writing about and, products will only ever win our prestigious awards if they have real merit based on benchmarks (where possible) and real world usability. Jason Saundalkar Jason.saundalkar@itp.com

Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: 0097 1 (0)4 444 3000 Fax: 0097 1 (0)4 444 3030 Web: www.itp.com Offices in Dubai & London ITP Technology Publishing CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Managing Director Karam Awad General Manager Peter Conmy Publishing Director Natasha Pendleton EDITORIAL Group Editor Mark Sutton Tel: +971 4 444 3225 e-mail: mark.sutton@itp.com Editor Jason Saundalkar Tel: +971 4 444 3635 e-mail: jason.saundalkar@itp.com Deputy Editor Clayton Vallabhan Tel: +971 4 444 3682 e-mail: clayton.vallabhan@itp.com ADVERTISING Publishing Director Natasha Pendleton Tel: +971 4 444 3193 e-mail: natasha.pendleton@itp.com Advertising Manager Alie Jaber Tel: +971 4 444 3196 e-mail: alie.jaber@itp.com Advertising Manager Kausar Syed Tel: +971 4 444 3361 e-mail: kausar.syed@itp.com STUDIO Senior Designer Michel Al Asmar PHOTOGRAPHY Chief Photographer Jovana Obradovic Senior Photographer Efraim Evidor Staff Photographers Isidora Bojovic, Rajesh Raghav, Ruel Pableo, Lyubov Galushko, George Dipin, Mosh Lafuente, Murrindie Frew, Shruti Jagdeesh, Verko Ignjatovic PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION Group Production & Distribution Director Kyle Smith Deputy Production Manager Basel Al Kassem Managing Picture Editor Patrick Littlejohn Image Editor Emmalyan Robles Distribution Manager Karima Ashwell Distribution Executive Nada Al Alami CIRCULATION Head of Circulation & Database Gaurav Gulati MARKETING Head of Marketing Daniel Fewtrell Marketing Manager Annie Chinoy ITP DIGITAL Assitant Editor Georgina Enzer Tel: +971 4 444 3723 e-mail: georgina.enzer@itp.com Sales Director ITP Digital Business Websites Ahmad Bashour Tel: +971 4 444 3549 e-mail: ahmad.bashour@itp.com Group Sales Manager ITP.net Nathalie Akl Tel: +971 4 444 3502 e-mail: nathalie.akl@itp.com Internet Development Manager Mohammed Affan Content Manager Asad Azizi Web Advertising Manager Meghna Jalnawalla Creative Director Craig Willers ITP GROUP Chairman Andrew Neil Managing Director Robert Serafin Finance Director Toby Jay Spencer-Davies Board of Directors K M Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin Circulation Customer Service Tel: +971 4 444 3672 Printed by Emirates Printing Press L.L.C.Dubai. Controlled Distribution by Blue Truck Subscribe online at www.itp.com/subscriptions Certain images in this issue are available for purchase. Please contact itp images@itp.com for further details www.itpimages.com The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the reader's particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review.

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Al Batha CIO Saji Oommen on the challenges of IT management

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SEPTEMBER 2010 | VOL.23 ISSUE 9

NEW DAWN

How Cisco is banking on a fresh wave of investment to drive its business in the Gulf

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Critical analysis for telecommunications executives

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Why satellite operators are investing heavily in MEA

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Slow progress Growth continues to elude Yemen’s fractured telco sector

Leaseback learnings

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How to get sale and leaseback agreements right ďŹ rst time

Muneer Farooqui, CEO, Warid Pakistan

The truth behind the failure of EMC’s Atmos

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THE SMART CHOICE? Middle East handset channel faces up to new challenges (43)

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Microsoft has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Skype for $8.5bn in cash. The boards of directors for both companies have approved the acquisition. Microsoft purchased the VoIP company from the investor group led by Silver Lake. According to Microsoft, Skype currently has 170 million connected users and handled a staggering 207-billion minutes of voice and video conversations during 2010. Skype broke records in March when it logged 30 million active users simultaneously. Microsoft hopes the acquisition will generate new revenues for itself and enhance its existing VoIP communications and services. Microsoft has already invested in real-time communications platforms such as Lync, Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE and the company will now connect Skype users to Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other Microsoft communities. Skype will also support Microsoft devices such as the Xbox console, Kinect motion sensor add-on and Windows Phone. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,â&#x20AC;? said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.â&#x20AC;? Microsoft will incorporate Skype as a business division within the company and Skype CEO Tony Bates will become president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Microsoft and Skype share the vision of bringing software innovation and products to our customers,â&#x20AC;? said Tony Bates. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype's plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate.â&#x20AC;? Skype was founded in 2003 by two software developers and has since grown to 663 million registered users in 2011. In 2005 eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion in cash and stock, then selling 70% of the company to private investors in a deal that valued Skype at $2.75bn. In 2010, Skype posted revenues of $860m and losses of $7m and now Microsoft is said to be courting the company. The company still had $686 million in long-term debt as of 31st December. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. If approved, the deal will become Microsoft's largest acquisition to date.


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Windows Middle East magazine has launched its social networking page on Facebook. The Windows Facebook page offers the latest technology news, a look at what products will be reviewed in the forthcoming issue of the magazine, a glimpse into the WinLabs, image galleries, polls and exciting competitions. The page can be found at http://www.facebook. com/winmemag Windows Middle East magazine is the region's favourite PC and consumer technology guide. Each issue is packed with the latest regional technology news, product and game reviews, product grouptests, and comprehensive technology features. The magazine also gives readers a chance to win fantastic prizes each month. The magazine is published in English and Arabic (digital) and reaches most of the markets across the Middle East.

COUNTERFEITERS TARGET UAE AND SAUDI ARABIA Dubai Police and HP said they have no idea who is behind the counterfeiting wave currently hitting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but said that many of the counterfeit goods hail from China. "Basically counterfeiting is a serious problem not only in the UAE but across the Middle East and not only here, but in the whole EMEA region. Definitely one of the hotspots is here because the UAE is a kind of hub to transport the products which are mostly coming from the Asian world into the European community," said Andrea Gebhard, LaserJet Supplies, Imaging and Printing Group, MEMA region. Saudi Arabia has also become a hotspot for counterfeit goods, because of its growing stature as a business hub. According to Amin Mortazavi, General Manager, Imaging and Printing Group MEMA, the more business activity that is occurring, the more counterfeiting will occur. "Wherever you have an emerging market where you see market growth, there is market growth for everybody; of course this also provides a ground for those people that are into counterfeiting. If you look at other trade hubs, business hubs across the globe, wherever you see the combination of trade hub and growing economy, you will see counterfeiters," he said. Mortazavi added that counterfeiters are no longer bringing completed products into the UAE but rather are bringing in parts to be assembled inside the UAE. The reason behind this, according to HP is that the Dubai law enforcement authorities have become better trained at spotting counterfeits. HP began working with the Dubai Police in 2006 and is continuing to work very closely with the Dubai Customs and the Dubai police to identify counterfeit goods. "I remember from past seizures we found finished goods, but now days you see components coming into the region and getting assembled here. That can only mean that local customs authorities have a much better awareness and are really after counterfeiters, so to bypass and smuggle the counterfeit goods they bring in bits and pieces and then assemble it here," he said. Counterfeiting is classed as a criminal act in the UAE as the creators of counterfeit products are trying to pass products off as the real thing and generally charge the same prices for the fake products as an official company would charge for a genuine product. Counterfeiters also attempt to get the products to look as close to the genuine originals as possible.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST LAUNCHES FACEBOOK PAGE


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8 NEWS

BLACKBERRY LAUNCHES APP STORE IN UAE Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry, launched its Blackberry App World in the United Arab Emirates last month. The long-awaited development allows Blackberry users to download a range of mobile applications including games, instant messaging apps, social networking tools as well as news and weather reports. According to Etisalat, the UAE's incumbent telecom operator, the store is available for all BlackBerry smartphones with a trackball, trackpad or touch screen running BlackBerry OS 4.2 or higher. The launch of Blackberry's app store in the UAE follows closely from its launch in Bahrain in April. Mike Al-Mefleh, Director of Product Management for the Middle East, RIM, had earlier confirmed to CommsMEA that the app store would be launched in the UAE by June. Al-Mefleh added that RIM had been conducting tests with "different carriers" in the country in preparation for the launch. Mohammed Al Ghanim, Director General of the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said that the TRA has a "strategy to encourage and support application developers". "With the launch of RIM's BlackBerry App World, we are eager to work with BlackBerry developers to provide the appropriate environment and assist them with accessing the required tools to create these applications. We will encourage the UAE universities to develop applications on BlackBerry devices," he said. BlackBerry App World store is already available in the Middle East in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan. Customers can download BlackBerry App World directly to their smartphone by visiting www. blackberry.com/appworld or mobile.blackberry.com.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

GOOGLE LAUNCHES MUSIC CLOUD Google has launched a new music service that allows users to upload their music to the Music Beta by Google cloud for streaming to a user's computer and any other Android devices. The new service will automatically sync users' devices when new music or playlists are added to any of the synchronized Android devices. "If you create a new playlist on your phone, it's instantly available on your computer or tablet. You can use a feature called â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Instant Mixâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to create a playlist of songs that go well together. You can even listen to music when you're offline: we automatically store your most recently played music on your Android device and you can choose to make specific albums or playlists available when you're not connected," read a blog post by Hugo Barra, Product Management Director, Android on the official Google Blog. The service has launched for beta testing in the US and is currently available by invitation only. Google has also announced that it has added movies for rent to the Android Marketplace. Users can now choose from a list of thousands of movies which will be available to play on any Android device. Prices for movie rentals start at $1.99. Google has also begun developing Google Android Open Accessory, which is designed to help developers build new hardware accessories that will work across all Android devices. "We previewed an initiative called Android@Home, which allows Android apps to discover, connect and communicate with appliances and devices in your home. We also showed a preview of Project Tungsten, an Android device for Music Beta to give you more control over music playback within the Android@Home network," said Barra. Google has also revealed that a new version of Android is in development called Ice Cream Sandwich. This OS will be designed to deliver one operating system that will work everywhere, regardless of the device. Ice Cream Sandwich will use features from Honeycomb and develop those features for use on both tablets and phones and will include the holographic interface, debut more multitasking features and the new launcher as well as richer widgets, according to Google. The Google team has also revealed that there are now 100 million activated Android devices with 400,000 activated every day. Android Market now features 200,000 free and paid applications and 4.5 billion applications have been installed from Android Market.


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10 NEWS

RIM ANNOUNCES TWO NEW PHONES, NEW OS Research In Motion has unveiled two new BlackBerry Bold smartphones, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930, powered by the new BlackBerry 7 operating system. Both smartphones feature an integrated BlackBerry keyboard and a hi-resolution capacitive touch screen. "The new BlackBerry Bold smartphones and BlackBerry 7 OS are inspired by millions of customers around the world who want the ultimate combination of performance, functionality and style," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, Research In Motion. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These fully-loaded and beautifully crafted smartphones offer a highly refined user experience with blazingly fast performance, a brilliant touch screen and an outstanding typing experience.â&#x20AC;? Both models feature a stainless steel frame and a high-gloss glass-weave back plate and both measure 10.5mm thick, qualifying them as the thinnest BlackBerrys smartphones yet. The phones operate on a 1.2GHz processor, a Liquid Graphics touch screen and support 4G/HSPA and wide area wireless networks. The Liquid Graphics touch screen offers 60 frames-per-second performance. The smartphones also feature 287 dpi graphics for improved visuals. Both the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones have built-in support for NFC (Near Field Communications). This new technology will allow users to pair the BlackBerry Bold to an accessory or read information such as a web link from smart tags by tapping their BlackBerry Bold to an NFC tag. The smartphones have a built-in compass to support location-based services and augmented reality, which will be integrated with BlackBerry Maps and APIs. The phones support up to 720p HD video recording and playback and users can share their videos directly from the smartphone or sync videos, as well as music and photos, to their computer using Media Sync in the BlackBerry Desktop Software. The BlackBerry 7 OS is designed to provide an easier and faster user experience and has improved browsing, voiceactivated searches and the ability to manage personal content separately from corporate content. It also features additional personal and productivity apps out of the box. The BlackBerry Browser has also had a make-over in the BlackBerry 7 OS, with a new JIT (just in time) JavaScript compiler to improve the load time speed of web pages. The new browser also includes support for additional HTML5 elements, such as HTML5 Video. Users will also have access to the full version of Docs To Go with premium features enabled out-of-the-box so that users can work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint files directly on the smartphone. Docs To Go also includes a native PDF viewer. Both the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones will be released later this year.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

CANON REVEALS NEW POWERSHOT CAMERA Canon Middle East has launched the new Canon PowerShot SX230 HS, which features GPSi technology designed to allow users to tag pictures on the move. The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS has a 28mm wideangle lens with 14x optical zoom and optical Image Stabiliser technology. The camera is available in blue, pink or black finishes and boasts a compact design, allowing for easy portability. The camera has a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon's Smart Auto mode, which is designed to detect up to 32 different scenes and apply different settings appropriate to shooting conditions. The camera's HS System is designed to reduce blur and image noise, particularly in low light or night shooting conditions. The PowerShot also shoots Full HD movies (1080p) with optical zoom, stereo sound, Dynamic IS and HDMI. Movie shooting modes include High-speed Burst and Super Slow Motion Movie. The camera measures 7.5 cm wide and has a PureColor II G LCD.


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COMMENT 11

VIEWS

WHAT THE FLIP?

Network Middle East’s Daniel Shane discusses Cisco’s recent decision to kill its ‘Flip’ video camera line. MMS, e-mail, or by uploading it to YouTube and Facebook." The end of Flip arguably marks the end of Cisco's foray into the consumer market. As part of a company shake-up in April, Cisco has also moved Umi, a high-definition consumer video conferencing product, into its enterprise TelePresence unit. Umi, unveiled just last year, came with a steep $599 price tag. John Chambers, one of the tech sector's more earnest CEOs, was thoughtful in his assessment of Cisco's consumer experiment, and called on the vendor to refocus on the enterprise. "We have disappointed our investors and we have confused our employees. Bottom line, we have lost some of the credibility that is foundational to Cisco's success - and we must earn it back. Our market is in transition, and our company is in transition. And the time is right to define this transition for ourselves and our industry. I understand this. It's time for focus." Others were more succinct in their analysis: "Cisco has realised that's a crappy business," Sean Conner, an analyst at Nuveen Asset Management, told Bloomberg. "There are no synergies with the rest of their business." Cisco's decision to refocus on its core enterprise market comes during a decisive phase of its history, as it faces rising competition from smaller rival Juniper Networks and Chinese heavyweight Huawei. Furthermore, Cisco will doubtlessly be peering over its shoulder at IT giant HewlettPackard's widening focus on the network sector. It is just as well then that another

of Cisco's recent product strategies is performing excellently. Its Unified Computing System, an integrated data centre stack combining networking, storage and virtualisation, had a cracking fourth quarter 2010, posting sales growth of more than 500%.

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I

t is fair to say that network giant Cisco's 2009 acquisition of Pure Digital Technologies raised a few eyebrows among investors and industry analysts. The US network vendor's decision to splash out $590 million on the Flip video camera maker, just as the global economic recession was lolling into gear, was an unorthodox move for a company that derives the lion's share of its revenue from selling to carriers and businesses. The low-priced, consumer-focused Flip camera's key selling point was its USB connectivity, allowing budding film-makers to quickly transfer and edit home movies from the desktop. Among Cisco's more prosaic core product line, namely routers and switches, Flip was quite an obvious white elephant. It came as little surprise then in April 2011 when the company finally decided to bring down the curtains and call it a wrap on Flip. The decision to discontinue Flip will see Cisco shed approximately 550 jobs. Analysts and other commentators' attempts at elucidating on Flip's failure have been akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Bo Gowan, of network solutions vendor Ciena, claims Flip flopped due to its lack of Internet connectivity, and the proliferation of high end smartphones. "That wasn't an issue when the Flip was introduced in 2007," he wrote on Ciena's corporate blog. "But as mobile devices like the iPhone began integrating video, and then HD video, into their bundle of functionality, part of the ‘fun' of having a low-end video camera was being able to immediately share it with friends and family via


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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

12 FEATURE

Summer of fun


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FEATURE 13

The hot temperatures outside make summer the ideal time for one to catch up on gaming in the comfort of their own home. However, playing games on an old, outdated PC is just no fun. Sure it may be able to run the latest games but the fact is youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll probably have to play at a lower resolution and with lower detail settings to experience smooth, playable framerates. The good news is that these days you can build a supremely capable gaming machine without needing to blow your entire paycheck. Here, WINDOWS shows you how to build an awesome gaming machine for under US $1,100 so read on if you want to get gaming this summer.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Summer of fun


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14 FEATURE

Summer of fun

Whereas in the past building a customised PC on your own required a fair bit of PC-assembly know-how, tools and a lot of patience, today, putting together a PC is a relatively simple and stress-free affair. We’ve covered the process in detail on a few occasions - refer to the November 2010 issue of Windows Middle East for a comprehensive guide on the topic or visit ITP.net and look for our Dream Machine 2010 feature. While properly assembling a PC is important, the selection of what goes into it is the most important aspect when putting together a customised gaming PC. Without the right mix of components you’ll end up with an imbalanced PC that will struggle to run the latest games at a fluid framerate. You’ll have also wasted your hard earned money, and time. Unfortunately choosing the right components can be a tricky, as well an expensive proposition; there are hundreds if not thousands of components that you can choose from. Don’t fret however, as this feature will tell you exactly which components you should use to build your gaming rig on a constrained $1,100 budget, as well as why you should use them.

CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

The central processing unit (CPU) or processor is the brain of a PC. While this component doesn’t look like much and is tiny in comparison to most of the other parts that comprise a PC, you can rest assured that it is one of the most important components within your machine. Put simply, without a processor your PC would be utterly useless. When buying a processor you can consider chips from either AMD or Intel. Both companies offer a wide range of CPUs comprising sub US $100 budget models to high-end screamers that cost well over a $1,000. Since we are building a gaming PC on a budget the trick is in picking a processor that isn’t too expensive. At the same time the CPU should be fast enough to tear through code and keep other components, such as the GPU, supplied with the data it needs to turn code into what you see on screen. Since AMD’s Bulldozer architecture CPUs have yet to be launched and because Intel has recently launched what it says are its second-generation ‘Core’ chips which offer better performance than AMD’s Phenom II line - we decided to opt for one of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel has launched several different Sandy Bridge processors and because we’re looking to build a potent machine on a budget, we decided a fast dual-core CPU would be the best bet in terms of price and performance. After testing several processors we found the Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge processor answered our call of duty with aplomb. This CPU runs at a standard frequency of 3.1GHz and packs more than enough firepower under the hood to crunch code and feed our GPU with a constant flow of data. Since this chip is manufactured on a 32nm fabrication process it is power efficient and boasts a TDP of just 65-watts. Thank to these facts you won’t need to invest in a fancy CPU cooler to keep the processor running stable.

Vital Stats

NAME: Core i3-2100 PRICE: $125 FREQUENCY: 3.1GHz NUMBER OF CORES: Two SOCKET: LGA 1155 INTEGRATED GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 2000 THERMAL DESIGN POWER (TDP): 65-watts MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY: 32nm


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Summer of fun

FEATURE 15

MEET THE MOTHERBOARD The motherboard is the most important component in a PC. If the CPU is the brains of your machine then the motherboard is the nerve centre that connects each and every component. Picking the right motherboard then is of critical importance. While we are building a gaming machine on a budget it’s important not to be stingy with this particular component. If you opt for an inexpensive, entry-level motherboard you could be depriving your rig of multi-GPU capabilities, restricting memory and other upgrades or you could even wind up with a basic BIOS or UEFI that doesn’t allow you to tweak settings at all. Since the processor we picked is one of Intel’s new Sandy Bridge offerings we had to find a LGA 1155 motherboard sporting the requisite Sandy Bridge-compatible core-logic chipset. At the same time we had to find a motherboard that offered a degree of futurereadiness, so that should you wish to upgrade your processor or memory later on, you won’t have to bin the existing motherboard and opt for a new one. After scouring the web we finally decided on ECS’s P67H2-A3. As you might have guessed this is a P67 motherboard and when you look at the vital stats box out, you can see that despite its bargain price tag, it is packed with features. The features that interested us the most was its support for multiGPU technology, four DIMM slots and reasonably tweak-friendly BIOS. This motherboard also sports two 6Gbps Serial ATA ports and packs a decent onboard audio system, which meant that we wouldn’t have to purchase a dedicated sound card.

NAME: ECS P67H2-A3 PRICE: $100 SOCKET TYPE: LGA 1155 CHIPSET: Intel P67 NUMBER OF MEMORY SOCKETS: 4

Vita Stat l s

DDR3 DIMMs MAXIMUM MEMORY: 32GB MULTI-GPU COMPATIBLE: Y AUDIO: 8-channel onboard EXPANSION SLOTS: 2x PCI-E x16, 1x PCI-E

x1, 2x PCI slots STORAGE INTERFACE: 4x SATA 3Gbps ports,

2x SATA 6Gbps ports

Random access memory (RAM) is where software resides after you have chosen to execute it (applications or games). The more code in memory, the faster your system will perform so having the right amount of RAM is critical, especially when it comes to playing modern, memory-intensive games. You should remember also that RAM is where your operating system’s (OS) main bits reside, as that too is essentially just a large program. This means that while you may have a certain amount of memory, 2GB of example, of that perhaps only 1GB may be useable by your applications or games, as the rest is being used by the OS and other programs. So again, the more memory you have, the better. Since the P67 chipset is compatible with DDR3 memory we were literally spoilt for choice when it came to deciding on the specifics of the memory we were going to use. We wanted no less than 4GB of memory, the modules would have to sport decent memory timings, offer heat spreaders and offer 100% compatibility with the P67 chipset. Given our budget we also wanted a memory kit that wouldn’t break the NAME: Patriot Viper Xtreme Series Division bank while satisfying all of the aforementioned criteria. 2 PXD34G2133ELK After considering a number of options we chose PRICE: $129 Patriot’s recently launched Viper Xtreme Series Division 2 FREQUENCY: 2,133MHz PXD34G2133ELK memory kit. The kit is designed for MEMORY: 4GB Intel’s 6-series platform, offers 4GB of memory and can NUMBER OF MODULES: 2 modules run at a frequency of 2,133MHz while maintaining timings XMP READY: Y of 9-11-9-27. The memory kit is able to maintain these OPERATING VOLTAGE: 1.65-volts frequencies and timings at just 1.65-volts, meaning heat LATENCY: 9-11-9-27 and thus stability wouldn’t be an issue (though this is also HEAT SPREADER: Y thanks to the fact that the modules boast heatspreaders).

Vital Stats

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

MEMORY MATTERS


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16 FEATURE

Summer of fun

GPU CRAZY When choosing a GPU you first have to decide between either integrated or discreet. With regard to the former, GPUs are today integrated into either the corelogic chipset that powers the motherboard, or are included as part of some modern CPUs such as our Core i3-2100 chip. Modern integrated solutions pack a fair bit of punch that allows them to tackle even recent game titles though the trade off is that you will likely have to reduce detail or play at a lower resolution to maintain a smooth framerate. That said if you are on a seriously constrained budget, choosing an integrated solution is not as game-limiting a choice as it once was. For those interested in high-resolution, high-detail, fluid-gaming, NAME: Zotac GeForce GTX opting for a discreet GPU is the only option however. As both AMD 560 Ti AMP! Edition and nVidia unleash new GPUs every few months, there are a wide PRICE: $310 range of GPUs to choose from, whether you want an entry-level INTERFACE: PCI-E 2.0 performer or a high-end monster. CHIPSET: nVidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti Since we’re building a gaming rig on a budget we decided that a MEMORY: 1GB GDDR5 solid mainstream GPU would do the trick nicely. We had very MULTI-GPU COMPATIBLE: SLI specific criteria with regards to what we expected of the GPU. It PORTS: 2x DVI ports, 1x mini-HDMI port would have to offer full DirectX 11 compatibility of course, as there’s API SUPPORT: DirectX 11, Shader Model 4.1 no point in buying a new GPU that can’t render the latest and COOLING: Dual slot greatest games in the way that the developers intended. We also wanted a GPU that was multi-GPU compatible, so that it would be possible to easily add more graphics grunt in the future by fitting an identical card and running the two in sync. We also wanted a GPU that sported a decent cooling system that was both silent and effective. After looking over our results and reviews database we decided that nVidia’s recently launched GeForce GTX 560 Ti made the most sense. With the GPU decided on we then looked for the best implementation of it and ultimately settled on Zotac’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! Edition card, which we reviewed in our April issue. While standard GTX 560 Ti cards offer serious performance, Zotac’s AMP! Edition is even faster due to the fact that it ships pre-overclocked from the factory. Whereas standard GTX 560 cards have their GPU and memory clocked at 822MHz and 1,002MHz respectively, the AMP! Edition’s components steam along at 950MHz and 1,100MHz. As a result our gaming rig offered seriously potent gaming numbers across the board when running at high resolutions and at high graphic detail levels.

Vita Stat l s

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

While discreet soundcards may offer slightly better features and better overall quality, to most users, the differences are inaudible and thus an expensive luxury

SOUND OFF When it comes to choosing a sound card you, once again, can opt for a discreet solution or one that is integrated. Integrated solutions can be found on most motherboards today and while in the past we would only ever recommend opting for a discreet solution, today, integrated solutions more than hold their own. The latest integrated solutions, like their discreet counterparts, offer multi-channel speaker output, digital connectivity and even support specialised audio extensions that were once limited to only discreet solutions. After testing the 8-channel integrated Realtek ALC892 sound solution that was fitted to our ECS P67H2-A3 motherboard, we were more than satisfied with its features and sound quality. Given that we’re building a gaming rig on a tight budget, it also made sense to put the money saved from going with the motherboard’s sound solution to other, more critical components.


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18 FEATURE

Summer of fun

PERMANENT STORAGE In today’s digital world there’s no denying the importance of storage. Whereas in the past you’d only ever fill your drive with the operating system, applications and games, these days immense music collections, massive photo archives and more can also be found on most people’s drives. And while apps, games and even the operating system will occupy a fair bit of drive space, the sheer amount of digital content that most people call their own could easily fill a drive to the brim. As a result we knew that even though we were building a gaming machine on a budget, we wanted a drive that could stand the test of time in terms of space. To this end we decided that we wanted the machine to have at least 1TB of drive space. NAME: Western Digital Caviar Black At the same time, considering gaming is this PRICE: $100 machine’s focus, we wanted something that could rip CAPACITY: 1TB through load times and get us on the field of battle as SPINDLE SPEED: 7,200rpm soon as possible. While this initially prompted us to BUFFER MEMORY: 64MB cache consider opting for a SSD drive to install the OS and FORMFACTOR: 3.5-inch games onto, the cost of even a basic 64GB SSD meant it INTERFACE: SERIAL ATA 6Gbps was out of reach for our budget gaming machine. With a SSD drive out of the running we shifted our focus back to hard drives and again, though we considered Western Digital’s awesome 10,000rpm VelociRaptor, its high price meant that it was a no-no for this project. In the end however we found a supremely balanced offering in Western Digital’s Caviar Black. The Black we opted for (WD 1002FAEX) offers a 7,200rpm spindle speed, 64MB of cache memory, supports the new 6Gbps Serial ATA interface and offers transfer speeds that can make first generation SSDs sweat. At the same time it also offers reasonably quiet operation, packs 1TB of storage capacity and is a bargain at just US $100.

Vita Stat l s

MASTER OF MEDIA

NAME: LiteOn iHAS524 PRICE: $30 READ SPEEDS: 16x DVD, 48x CD WRITE SPEEDS: 24x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 24x

While we initially entertained the idea of building an optical-drivefree machine, we eventually decided against this bold course of action. There will come a time however when optical drives just DVD-R, 6x DVD-RW, CD-R 48x, CD-RW 32x, won’t be necessary. DVD+R DL 12x, DVD-R DL 12x, DVD-RAM 12x As broadband speeds continue to climb and as more and more INTERFACE: Serial ATA people jump on the broadband bandwagon, digital distribution will FORMFACTOR: 5.25-inch eventually become the norm. At the current rate we could see CACHE: 1.5MB digital distribution become the dominant form of content COLOUR: Black distribution in the next five years but until that time comes, you’ll need a solid optical drive if you plan to try out the latest software, watch movies and play the newest games. Having an optical drive with both read and write capabilities is also useful because you can create backups of critical information, share large files with others and, lets face it, you’ll need a drive for when you decide to watch that special edition copy of your favourite movie, or fire up a classic game such as Stars Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. While Blu-ray technology has been with us since 2006 this High-Definition (HD) media format is still playing second fiddle to older DVD technology in terms of adoption. Whereas Blu-ray drives are available today on a select few off-the-shelf PCs and notebooks, it’s a certainty that every machine bought in the last four years was equipped with a DVD drive. There are several reasons for why Blu-ray hasn’t fully caught on but the most prevalent is cost. Blu-ray drives and media, as well as the content sold on Blu-ray media is still very expensive when compared to DVD. While DVD drives, media and content sold on DVDs was initially expensive when compared to the older CD technology, the price premium eroded within a few years. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for Blu-ray. Given our limited budget, the fact that our machine is gaming-focused and a lack of Blu-ray-based games, it made no sense to opt for a Blu-ray drive. We decided instead to use a standard DVD writer. Here, LiteOn’s iHAS524 fit the bill perfectly. At US $30 it is inexpensive, offers fast read and write speeds and because it’s black, it fits our chassis perfectly.

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al t i V ats St


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Summer of fun

COOL CASE

FEATURE 19

NAME: Fractal Design Define R3 PRICE: $136 COLOUR: Black FORMFACTOR SUPPORT: ATX,

Given that we’re building a gaming machine on micro-ATX, mini-ITX a constrained budget, deciding on the right DRIVE BAYS: 8x 3.5chassis was crucial. The case would have to inch, 2x 5.25-inch offer enough cooling power to keep all the FAN SIZES: internal components happy, it would have to be 120/140mm future-proof i.e. ready for future upgrades and TOOLS FREE: Y it would have to be reasonably priced. We’ve tested a number of cases in the last few months so we decided to run through each in detail, to see if any one of them were a perfect fit for our rig. The Coolermaster HAF X and Storm Sniper are both fantastic cases that pack loads of cooling capabilities and massive amounts of useable internal real estate. Unfortunately both of these cases were quite expensive, retailing for US $218 and $182 respectively. It’s worth mentioning that those prices buy you just an empty case; there’s no power supply included. We then looked over two Gigabyte cases that we tested recently; the Setto II 142 and the Sumo 5112. Priced at $62 and $158 the Gigabyte cases were cheaper than the two Coolermaster behemoths we mentioned earlier though again, these prices don’t include the cost of a powersupply. Studying the two Gigabytes closer however we found that both models ticked most of our pre-requisite check boxes, so we earmarked them for later. The last case to go under our microscope was the Fractal Design Define R3. When we first reviewed the Design Define R3 in our March issue we found ourselves very impressed with the chassis. It offered tool-free convenience, considerable cooling, a decent amount of internal space and, with a 1000-watt powersupply, it offered more than enough juice for our rig’s current specifications, and future as well. The best part is the case itself (no powersupply) costs just $136, which considering what it offers made it ideal for our rig.

Vita Stat l s

POWER UP

l a t i V ts Sta

NAME: Fractal Design Newton R2 650W, 80 Plus PRICE: $116 WATTAGE: 650-watts COLOUR: Black MODULAR CABLE DESIGN: Y COOLING SYSTEM: Variable speed fan UNIVERSAL POWER INPUT: 115V-230V 80 PLUS: Y

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

With the case sorted it was time to zero in on a quality powersupply (PSU). A computer’s PSU is responsible for converting the current supplied by the wall socket into smaller voltages required by the various components that comprise a PC. This is definitely not a component that shouldn’t be skimped on as lower quality units may fail, damage your components or deliver well below their claimed wattage rating which can cause instability. Given that we haven’t picked high-end, power-hungry components for our gaming rig, we didn’t need to splurge on an extremely high wattage PSU. At the same time we didn’t want to go for a low wattage model purely to save cash because this would limit upgrades in the future. After much consideration we ultimately decided a PSU offering about 600-watts would offer more than enough juice for our rig’s current specifications, as well for potential future upgrades. When we were considering PSUs we also decided that we wanted one with a modular cable system. Modular power supplies allow you to attach and detach cables as and when you need them, so rather than have a mass of unused cables cluttering the inside of your PC, you have just what you need. Last but not least we also wanted a PSU with ‘80 Plus’ certification because these PSUs are more efficient at converting power from the mains into the voltages required by the individual components. After examining PSUs from a number of different companies we found Fractal Design’s Newton R2 650W, 80 Plus PSU satisfied all our requirements. At $116 it was aggressively priced, it offered a 650-watts output rating, is 80 Plus certified, boasts a variable speed cooling fan and sports a modular cable system.


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20 FEATURE

Summer of fun

TIME TO GAME Thanks to the potent mix of balanced and relatively inexpensive components, our rig can dance with the latest and greatest DirectX 11 titles at high-resolutions without breaking a sweat. Here are the performance figures our machine managed when running real world games and benchmarks: 1,680 X 1,050 PIXELS

1,920 X 1,080 PIXELS

Final Fantasy XIV

3,900

3,553

Heaven v2.0

53.9fps

48.3fps

Lost Planet 2

51fps (1,280 x 720)

40fps

Street Fighter IV

160.62fps

151.09FPS

World in Conflict

78fps

69fps

RESOLUTION

TAL CO TO

ST

$1,05 6 US

In every benchmark our rig managed framerates comfortably above the 30fps smooth mark while running with 4x anti-aliasing and with all the detail levels set to high. Since the machine managed figures so much over our baseline mark, it suggests that you’ll be able to enjoy smooth, high-resolution graphics even when you try upcoming game titles. As we said through this feature we wanted to build a gaming rig that while pieced together on a constrained budget, is also future-proof. While a rig that’s ready for the future may cost you a little more money in the present (compared to one that isn’t future-proof), in the long run, you’ll find that you’ll benefit much more. If you build exactly the same machine as we’ve detailed in this feature, you’ll be able to take advantage of multi-GPU technology, so when the GTX 560 Ti begins to struggle with next generation games, you have the option of fitting another identical card to boost performance. The ECS board in this machine is also ready for future upgrades because, for the next few years, Intel will stick with the LGA 1155 CPU socket for its mainstream- and performance-aimed Sandy Bridge processors. (The high-end, extreme processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture will ship with a new socket known as LGA 2011. This socket will succeed LGA 1366.) The LGA 1155 CPU socket will be used, for instance, by the yet-to-be released 22nm die shrink Sandy Bridge chips, known as Ivy Bridge. Using Ivy Bridge chips then should just be a case of having to flash the UEFI (BIOS). The P67H2-A3 here also has two free DIMM slots (assuming you used two 2GB modules as we did) and maximum support for up to 32GB of memory. So, should you want to go beyond 4GB of system memory, you won’t have to worry about getting rid of your existing modules. This is one of the reasons we chose to go with a standard ATX motherboard rather than a cheaper micro-ATX board, as boards based on the latter formfactor generally only offer two DIMM slots. The Define R3 chassis also offers loads of cooling capacity and plenty of internal room. So should you run out of drive space or want to add a SSD, you’ll be able to get busy without any trouble.

OTHER IMPROVEMENTS

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

The Roccat Kone+ packs a 6000dpi laser tracking engine, can store game profiles, offers an adjustable weight system, customisable LEDs and more

If you’ve got a slightly larger budget and therefore have money to spare after buying the components we suggested earlier, there are other parts you could spend your money on to improve your The Logitech G19 boasts gaming experience. backlit keys, sturdy construction and keys that A gaming keyboard such as Logitech’s G19 or Roccat’s Arvo you can assign macros to. and gaming mice such as Logtiech’s Gaming Mouse G500 or It even boasts a LCD screen that can be configured to Roccat’s Kone+ can give you a serious advantage when you play. display game information These devices are first and foremost designed to take the abuse or messages of constant gaming, will likely boast extra features such as high resolution, high precision sensors or responsive keys, will have the ability to store key strokes which can be executed at the touch of a button and much more. You could also consider investing in a new LCD screen with a LED backlight. These screens offer excellent colour vibrancy and brightness and will likely boast better response times when compared to your existing display. Remember the quicker the response time on a LCD screen, the better. Screens with sub 5ms response times won’t suffer from motion blur, so you can enjoy fast-paced games without having to deal with trails.


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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

22 FEATURE

Backup basics

If you’ve got data that’s important to you, you should create a backup copy of it. Having a backup will save you from anguish and despair when one or more digital disasters strike and you lose everything stored on your machine’s hard drive or SSD. Here WINDOWS explains why and what you should backup and the options you have when it comes to considering the backup medium.


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Backup basics

FEATURE 23

Backing up your data is as important as having a solid security suite installed on your rig. Unfortunately, most of the time people either play down its importance or forego it entirely. It must be kept in mind that there are many ways that you can lose your important data. For instance imagine someone steals your laptop, or you forget it in a taxi or bus. The chances of getting it back are slim to none. Another instance where you could lose data is if your computer’s hard drive crashes, which it will, as every hard drive has a finite lifespan. The hard drive could even start developing bad sectors, eventually leading to a degradation of its usability, or it may just crash outright from a drop or just because it’s old. Viruses and other malicious threats could also destroy all your data or infect the files rendering the data within them unusable. Now that you’re aware of just how easy it is to lose your data you should ask yourself if the time and paltry amount of money you save by not backing up your data is worth all the heartache? We thought not so lets get started.

SAVE YOUR FILES

This is what a standard hard drive looks like on the inside. While these drives are built extremely well, they will eventually fail. Once this happens and if you don’t have a backup, the only way you’ll be able to recover your data is to send the drive to a data recovery company. Recovering data is a long and expensive process that, at the best of times, doesn’t give many guarantees that you’ll see all or even some of your data returned to you

SAVE IT Types of data a that needs to be backed up include: - All documents in the My Documents folder or any other folder where documents are stored - Contacts, e-mails, calendar entries, browser favourites and any other personal documentation - Movies, videos, family pictures, music - Save game files or game profiles - Drivers for all your PC’s components

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Of the thousands of files on your storage drive, only a few are essential and thus require backing up. All your important text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and database files should be backed up on a regular basis. Most backup programs can do this for you automatically. You can even set them to perform incremental backups that only backup new data or modified files, which will save you time. Other important data that’s worth backing up are the files which store your e-mail messages, calendar entries, browser favourites and contact lists. Good backup software will know exactly where to find these files and will create backups of them. This is best done on a daily basis so you don’t miss out on any important correspondences and contacts, should your drive crash. All your songs, videos and photo albums need to be backed up too. This can be done on a weekly basis. However, if you add new content to your collection each and every day it’s worth backing up this data at the end of each day to ensure you don’t lose these important tunes and memories. If you’re a gamer you should also consider finding and backing up your saved games and profiles. Generally, backup software won’t know where to find this information so you’ll likely have to scour your hard drive manually in order to pinpoint where these files are stored. It is also vital to ensure you have backed up the drivers of all the components that run in your system. This can be done as and when you install a new component or when there is a newer driver released by the manufacturer. Most drivers are available online on manufacturer websites but the benefit of creating a backup is that in the event of a hard drive crash, all the drivers are in one place so you won’t have to hunt through different websites for them. You can backup data using programs such as the free backup application that’s bundled with your operating system or you can simply use one of the many free backup programs available on the web. Alternatively, you can just manually create duplicate copies of files on other storage media. Over the next few pages we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the various media you can use to store your backups.


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24 FEATURE

Backup basics

ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S OPTIC CAL One of the most commonly used media to back up information is optical media. Optical media such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs are quite reliable, easy-to-find and, in the case of CDs and DVDs, are relatively cheap. Most DVD writers today will cost you around US $35 and the DVDs themselves work out to less than a dollar per disc, giving you 4.7GB of available space on a single layer DVD. You can also opt for more expensive dual-layer discs that can store up to 8.5GB of data or, if you can find the very rare double-sided, dual-layer disc, as much as 17GB of data can be packed on. DVD discs then are best for those with heavy backup storage needs. CDs can also be used for backups however the maximum capacity of CDs is much smaller, with most discs offering 700MB of capacity. If you just need to back up a few songs or documents then CDs are just right. This type of media is durable, cheap and data written to them is fairly safe. Most CD and DVD media have proven reliability records; authored discs are readable and their data intact for as long as 10 years after the disc was originally created. For extremely important data that needs to be stored for longer than normal periods, you can purchase Gold discs. These discs have a coating of gold on the media rather than the regular aluminium coating and are more expensive. Discs can cost you around $15-$20 for a pack of three 4.7GB discs. The advantage of the gold coating according to manufacturers is that gold does not corrode with time, hence these Gold discs are supposed to preserve data on them for 100 years. These discs then are suitable for family photographs and home videos that you wish to preserve for future generations. However, as technology changes you should remember to keep shifting the media to more current media, as a DVD drive for example may be a little hard to come by in 100 years.

GOING BLUE Blu-Ray discs have been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years and the ability to store up to 50GB per disc makes them an attractive option for users who have lots of data to backup. The technology is becoming cheaper as more users embrace it worldwide. A Blu-ray writer today costs about $200 and the media costs between $3-4 per disc with a capacity of 25GB. Data integrity over the long term is not something that has been tested however, as the technology is still quite new. While using optical media for data backup is a decent choice there are some issues to bear in mind. The biggest limitation is the capacity of course but beyond that, data can be lost as well. If optical discs are handled improperly, left in hot environments for long periods of time, or if the surface of the disc gets scratched, the disc and data could become unusable.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

FOR AND AGAINST ADVANTAGES OF USING OPTICAL MEDIA: - Discs are compact and fairly durable - Various capacity options are available - CD/DVD burners and media are relatively cheap compared to other storage options

DISADVANTAGES OF OPTICAL MEDIA: - You will sometimes need to create backups over several discs, which can be time consuming and require monitoring (if the amount of data to be backed up is large) - Prone to dust, scratches and if mishandled will fail


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Backup basics

FEATURE 25

IT’S THE FLASH USB flash drives are another storage medium that can be used to backup data to. These drives are generally small, easy to carry around, offer plenty of storage capacity (depending on what you buy) and can be purchased in specialised forms. Specialised drives can, for instance, offer advanced data protection or they could be designed for rugged use. Flash drives can be purchased with capacities ranging from 1GB to 256GB and as time passes, capacities will only continue to grow. The advantage of using a USB flash drive as a backup device is that if you have a reasonably high capacity drive, you can store a lot of data on it and securely tuck it away. Manufacturers claim that USB flash drives have a shelf storage time of about 10 years and can sustain between 500,000 to one million read/write cycles, depending on the type of flash memory used. This then doesn’t make it the ideal medium to store family photographs on, unless you intend to upgrade to other media or keep switching flash drives as time goes on. It is however quite reliable for data that is rarely needed such as old documents. These drives are also ideal to store confidential information on as the drive itself is small and light and can be hidden away discretely. Some flash drives even come with encryption software and fingerprint readers should you need that ultimate security for your data. As USB flash drives are inexpensive you can also have multiple backups of backups to ensure that the integrity of any critical data is never compromised. Flash drives have no moving parts meaning that they don’t suffer from SanDisk’s mechanical wear and tear as is the case with hard drives. They are also Ultra not affected by scratches and dust as is the case with optical media. Backup USB Flash Drive is They are also powered by the USB port itself and hence don’t designed to help need an external power source to function. you backup your data. It sports a dedicated Backing up data simply involves connecting the USB flash drive to backup button, offers password protection and even a USB port and when the drive shows up, you can either use a backup AES encryption (64GB model) program to backup data or just drag and drop files to it yourself.

SUPER SPEED Compared to optical media existing USB2.0 flash drives are considerably faster to work with, especially when it comes to backing up data on a daily basis. The good news is that things will only improve as PCs become USB3.0 compliant. That said there are already plenty of USB3.0 compliant flash drives on the market and these drives, when used with the requisite port, are able to transfer data at much faster rates than their older cousins can manage. In our own tests high-end USB3.0 drives have been able to manage transfer rates as high as 30MB/sec, which is quite a bit faster than optical storage.

ADVANTAGES OF FLASH DRIVES

DISADVANTAGES OF FLASH DRIVES

- Some flash drives can store much more data than current optical media - Being small, a USB flash drive can be mis- Data stored on flash drives is not affected by placed easily, which can be quite a pain if the dust and scratches like optical media information contained on them is sensitive - Flash drives have no moving parts hence there - USB flash drives are costlier for higher is no question of mechanical wear and tear capacity units, compared to regular external - USB3.0 flash drives offer serious transfer rates hard drives or optical media

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

FOR AND AGAINST


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26 FEATURE

Backup basics

DRIVE ON N External hard drives are perhaps the most versatile solution for backing up your data. They are available in large capacities, are relatively inexpensive and are portable (depending on the drive you buy). External drives offer capacities as high as 3TB (3000GB) at the time of writing, and that should be more than enough for even the largest photo, music and HD movie collection. Of course if you don’t need tons of backup storage you can opt for drives with smaller capacities. Larger capacity external drives need a connection to a power socket, whereas smaller, portable drives are powered by the USB port itself. If you need something to make sure your data is backed up and secure but is portable at the same time you should opt for a compact external drive. These can store loads of important documents and contacts along with a decent collection of music, videos and pictures.

DRIVE TROUBLES Unfortunately since most external hard drives are just internal drives in external shells, they are susceptible to the same threats that your PC’s hard drive can fall prey to. Since hard drives are based on mechanical parts that work in close proximity to each other, sudden shocks, knocks and drops are particularly deadly to these drives. A head crash where the read/write head makes contact with the storage platter is a common cause of drive failure and this sort of failure is almost a sure thing should the drive be dropped while it is working. These drives, like internal hard drives, also degrade gradually as their internal components get older. As a result you could potentially lose your backups if you use one drive for a long period of time. Because of this we recommend switching between external hard drives every three years to protect against failure. If you can afford to switch drives every two years however, it’s definitely worth considering. Woes aside external hard drives are the best option to backup important data. They are available in massive capacities and are cheaper on a per GB basis than all other backup media. They are also extremely fast (with a USB3.0) connection and unless you’re careless, are reasonably reliable.

Companies such as Western Digital offer powered and self-powered external drives. The latter offers better portability but we don’t recommend traveling with drives that contain important backup data, as you’re needlessly exposing yourself to a potential failure from knocks and shocks

THE FUTURE The storage world is slowly progressing towards Solid State Drive (SSD) storage, and there are a few manufacturers that have external SSD drives already on the market. These options though are limited to smaller capacities and are very expensive at the moment. The advantage of SSDs however is that because they are based on flash memory they have no moving parts, making the drives impervious to shocks and knocks.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

TOP TIP PS It is highly recommended that you store any critical data in at least three different places at any given time. This could be on your hard drive, on an external hard drive and on a DVD or flash drive. This gives you the best chance of retrieving your data should you ever lose it. The world is also slowly moving into the cloud, and cloud storage is available with options from a few vendors. It is probably alright to backup songs and movies but we would be a bit hesitant about putting up our contacts, private information, documents and family photographs online. Moreover you’re data is in a place that you have little control of. Furthermore, it has been proven time and again that sites and services can be hacked, and the right information in the wrong hands could have devastating consequences. It’s for this reason that we recommend managing your backup needs on your own for the immediate future.

FOR AND AGAINST ADVANTAGES OF EXTERNAL HARD DISKS - Can offer absolutely massive storage capacities - Smaller drives are portable and hence can be used to share data between different computers - External hard drives are the cheapest backup option on a per GB basis - Can be continuously connected to a PC for regular backup updates

DISADVANTAGES OF EXTERNAL HARD DISKS - Because they have moving parts they are susceptible to mechanical wear and tear and to repeated shocks and trauma if moved around often - They are just as easily destroyed by electrical surges or any other freak accidents - If stolen a thief can easily extract all your personal and critical information from the drive


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Intel motherboards

GROUPTEST 27

If you want to build a rig around Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors you'll need a motherboard that is equipped with a LGA 1155 CPU socket. Here, WINDOWS examines six of the latest Sandy Bridge motherboards on the market so if you want to know what's what, read on...

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

BRILLIANT BOARDS


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28 GROUPTEST

Intel motherboards

ASUS MAXIMUS IV EXTREME

A super Sandy Bridge building block PRICE $419 CONTACT +9714 299 3873 WEB www.asus.com

PRICE $295 CONTACT +9714 299 3873 WEB www.asus.com

✪✪✪✪✪

sus has a huge selection of LGA 1155 boards with the Maximus IV Extreme standing as the king of its P67 range. It’s no surprise then that at US $419 the Maximus is the second most expensive board here. One look at the Maximus IV Extreme’s PCB will tell you that this board means business. There’s a chunky heatpipe cooling system for the Northbridge and CPU's voltage regulators. Being a high-end board the Asus offers 3-way AMD and nVidia multi-GPU capabilities thanks to its chipset and four PCI-E x16 slots. These slots can run in a 3-way configuration with one slot running at x8 speed and two running at x16 speed. The board also, expectedly, packs rear and front-panel ready USB3.0 ports, two 3Gbps eSATA headers, four 3Gbps SATA ports and four 6Gbps SATA

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

A

ASUS P8P67 DELUXE

Feature-friendly and fast

✪✪✪✪✪

ports. The board is also littered with fan headers – you get no less than eight on this board. Running our benchmarks on the Maximus IV Extreme we were impressed with the numbers it produced. Its Cinebench 10 Multi-CPU core figure of 26,001 was the highest in this test, whereas its DivX and Lame encode numbers were the lowest and thus the best in the test. The board even managed the best gaming numbers here. Our only real issue with this Asus offering is that it’s an extended ATX board and thus will require a new and expensive case that can handle its size. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT If you’ve got an extended ATX capable chassis, the Maximus IV Extreme offers unbeatable performance and features.

hereas the more expensive Maximus IV Extreme targets overclockers keen on squeezing every bit of performance from their components, the P8P67 Deluxe isn’t as hardcore and instead focuses on providing tons of features. The board, besides sporting a busy PCB, is quite heavy owing to a massive heatpipe cooling system that keeps the CPU’s voltage regulators, Northbridge and Southbridge cool. The Deluxe sports a black PCB with contrasting blue and dark blue colours and thus looks quite sharp. In terms of features there’s precious little that this board doesn’t offer. You get AMD and nVidia multiGPU capabilities, 6Gbps and 3Gps Serial ATA support, rear eSATA ports, Bluetooth and USB3.0 ports back and front. The P8P67 actually

W

ships with its own USB3.0 breakout box that can be mounted to a standard 3.5inch drive bay too. This is extremely useful if you’re using an older chassis that lacks forward USB3.0 ports. Like Foxconn’s P67A-S, the Deluxe also sports a boot diagnostic system. Running our benchmarks we wound up with strong numbers. The board’s Final Fantasy XIV score of 7,010 was the second highest here, whereas the Cinebench score of 25,910 was the third highest. Its Lame, DivX and WinRAR results too were reasonable and matched or beat scores that other more expensive boards produced. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT The P8P67 Deluxe is all you need to build a feature-rich Sandy Bridge rig around. The only thing it lacks is an overclocking edge.


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Intel motherboards

ECS BLACK EXTREME P67H2-A

FOXCONN P67A-S

An enthusiast board for less

A balanced Sandy Bridge board

PRICE $300 CONTACT +9714 870 3333 WEB www.ecs.com.tw

PRICE $140 CONTACT +9714 204 5266 WEB www.foxconn.com

✪✪✪✪✪

E

✪✪✪✪✪

nVidia GPUs. Running the ECS through our test gauntlet the board proved a mixed bag. While its Cinebench 10 multi-core score of 25,873 was the second slowest in this grouptest, its DivX- and Lame-encode figures of 17 seconds and one minute 35 seconds matched the figures that the more expensive Asus P8P67 Deluxe produced. In terms of gaming the Black Extreme proved a strong performer; its Street Fighter IV framerate of 450fps was 1fps faster than the Asus managed and it only fell behind the Asus by 10 points in the Final Fantasy test with its score. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT ECS’ P67H2-A is an overclocking friendly motherboard that packs loads of extra features and decent performance for a fair price.

hereas the Quantum Force Rattler is Foxconn’s best P67 offering the P67A-S on test here is designed for the mainstream market. As a result at US $140 it is one of the least expensive boards in this round-up. Compared to some of the pricier motherboards here the P67A-S boasts a spartan layout. The PCB has acres of uncluttered space but don’t be fooled, this board still packs a punch. On the feature front you get support for two-way multi-GPU setups and there’s USB3.0 and 6Gbps Serial ATA ports as well. The Foxconn also, oddly, boasts a single IDE header so if you’re upgrading your system and you’ve got a couple of legacy IDE drives that you want to bring to your Sandy Bridge machine, the Foxconn is your only real choice in this grouptest.

W

The one issue we have with the P67A-S is that the two 6Gbps Serial ATA ports have been setup as vertical ports. Since the ports are close to the second PCI-E x16 slot, fitting a full length GPU may obstruct access to these ports. Running the board through our slew of benchmarks we found that while it set no performance records, it’s still quite swift. Its gaming numbers of 6,999 and 448fps in our Final Fantasy XIV and Street Fighter IV benchmarks for instance are only slightly slower than the number produced by the Asus Maximus IV Extreme and Gigabyte Z68-UD7-B3. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT If you’re building a Sandy Bridge system on a budget the Foxconn P67A-S is perfect. It’s a well balanced and potent offering.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

CS’ Black Extreme P67H2-A proved a revelation because it packed overclocking features that enabled it take on the established players. The board’s BIOS is easy to work with and sports all the necessary options you need to push your components. At the same time we were impressed to find that ECS has added measure points to this board (just above the four DDR3 DIMM slots), which allows you to hook up a digital voltmeter so you can get a more accurate reading of the voltages that are going to various components. The Black also packs a boot diagnostic system that doubles as a realtime temperature monitor once the system has booted. ECS has also added its unique ‘Hydra Core’ technology to this board, which allows you to build a multi-GPU setup using a mix of AMD and

GROUPTEST 29


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30 GROUPTEST

Intel motherboards

FOXCONN H67-AS

Capable but seriously expensive

PRICE $109 CONTACT +9714 204 5266 WEB www.foxconn.com

PRICE $539 CONTACT +9714 355 5520 WEB www.gigabyte.com

✪✪✪✪✪

oxconn’s H67-AS is the only motherboard on test here built around Intel’s H67 Express chipset. This chipset, along with the recently released Z68, will allow you to take advantage of the GPUs found on GPU-equipped Sandy Bridge processors. The H67-AS targets budget users and as a result it retails for just US $109. In line with its price and positioning it offers minimal features. You get only one PCI-E x16 slot for starters, which means you won’t be able to take advantage of multi-GPU technology and because the H67-AS employs the H67 Express chipset, you can’t overclock your CPU and memory at all. The only component that this chipset will allow you to tweak is the CPU's integrated GPU. The H67-AS is equipped with USB3.0 ports, 6Gbps Serial ATA support and a rear

F

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GIGABYTE Z68X-UD7-B3

Best for basic rigs

✪✪✪✪✪

eSATA port however, so you can still build a capable rig on a budget. Like its slightly more expensive cousin, the P67A-S the H67-AS’s PCB is sparse, owing to a lack of features. The board’s layout is free of any crippling issues and while we prefer side-facing Serial ATA ports, the H67-AS’ five upward facing ports are placed away from the PCI-E x16 slot, so working with SATA cables won't be an issue. With regards to performance the H67-AS fell behind all the other motherboards here. That said, the scores are far from basic so the Foxconn is still worthy of consideration. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT While the H67-AS won’t set you alight with its features and performance, it’s still a strong value proposition for a Sandy Bridge build.

Gigabyte's recently released Z68XUD7-B3 board is the only Sandy Bridge motherboard here to feature the Z68 Express chipset. The Z68 is very similar in terms of architecture to the H67, which means you can output video using any Sandy Bridge CPU that sports a GPU and, it has the same number of PCI-E lanes, USB and Serial ATA ports. The difference between the two chipsets is that whereas the H67 only allows you to overclock the processor's GPU, the Z68 will allow you to overclock the CPU, memory and integrated GPU. Priced at US $539 Gigabyte’s Z68 offering is the most expensive board on trial here and doesn’t hold aces in terms of features. You get two- and three-way SLI and CrossFire X support, there’s USB3.0 support, a mix of 3Gbps and

G

6Gbps Serial ATA support and two eSATA ports. Since the Gigabyte board is designed for ATX casings its PCB is somewhat cramped but free from any glaring problems. The memory sockets clear the first GPU slot by a good degree and the expansion slots are setup logically so you can use three dual-slot cooler GPUs. The board performed well though, given its price, we were hoping for stronger numbers. While its Cinebench 10 multi-CPU and DivX encode numbers are very similar to Asus’ Maximus IV Extreme, the Asus was slightly faster in both gaming benchmarks. PERFORMANCE ✪✪✪✪✪ FEATURES ✪✪✪✪✪ VALUE FOR MONEY ✪✪✪✪✪ VERDICT A capable motherboard that offers solid performance and features. It’s appeal is only diminished due to its high end user price.


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Intel motherboards

GROUPTEST 31

INTEL MOTHERBOARDS

ASUS

ASUS

ECS

Maximus IV Extreme

P8P67 Deluxe

Black Extreme P67H2-A

$419

$295

$300

Tel

+9714 299 3873

+9714 299 3873

+9714 870 3333

Web

www.asus.com

www.asus.com

www.ecs.com.tw

Intel Socket 1155

Intel Socket 1155

Intel Socket 1155

Intel P67 Express Chipset

Intel P67 Express Chipset

Intel P67 Express Chipset

Memory Type

DDR3

DDR3

DDR3

Memory Slots

4

4

4

PCI Express x16 slot

4

3

3

PCI Express x1 slot

1

2

2

PCI slots

0

2

2

Multi-GPU support

Y

Y

Y

IDE Ports

0

0

0

SATA ports

8

8

6

Rear eSATA ports

2

2

2

WiFi

N

0

0

Gigabit

2

2

2

USB3.0 support

Y

Y

Y

Fan headers

8

4

3

Formfactor

Extended ATX

ATX

ATX

Warranty

Three-year

Three-year

Two-year

26,001

25,910

25,873

MANUFACTURER Product Price

MAIN SPECIFICATIONS Socket Type Chipset

OTHER

Cinebench 10 Multi-core CPU score DivX 7 encode test

16 secs

17 secs

17 secs

1 min 34 secs

1 min 35 secs

1 min 35 secs

60 secs

61 secs

62 secs

Final Fantasy XIV

7,100

7,010

7,000

Street Fighter IV

451fps

449fps

450fps

Performance

-----

----

----

Features

-----

----

----

Value

----

----

----

Overall

-----

----

----

Lame 3.97 audio encode test WinRAR compression test

SCORES

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

BENCHMARKS


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32 GROUPTEST

Intel motherboards

INTEL MOTHERBOARDS

FOXCONN

FOXCONN

GIGABYTE

P67A-S

H67-AS

Z68X-UD7-B3

$140

$109

$539

+9714 204 5266

+9714 204 5266

+9714 355 5520

www.foxconn.com

www.foxconn.com

www.gigabyte.com

Intel Socket 1155

Intel Socket 1155

Intel Socket 1155

Intel P67 Express Chipset

Intel H67 Express Chipset

Intel Z68 Express Chipset

Memory Type

DDR3

DDR3

DDR3

Memory Slots

4

4

4

PCI Express x16 slot

2

1

4

PCI Express x1 slot

3

2

1

PCI slots

2

3

2

Multi-GPU support

Y

N

Y

IDE Ports

1

0

0

SATA ports

6

5

8

Rear eSATA ports

2

1

2

WiFi

0

0

0

Gigabit

1

1

2

USB3.0 support

Y

Y

Y

Fan headers

3

3

6

Formfactor

ATX

ATX

ATX

Warranty

Three-year

Three-year

Three-year

25,902

25,879

26,000

MANUFACTURER Product Price Tel Web MAIN SPECIFICATIONS Socket Type Chipset

OTHER

BENCHMARKS Cinebench 10 Multi-core CPU score DivX 7 encode test

18 secs

18 secs

16 secs

1 min 35 secs

1 min 36 secs

1 min 36 secs

61 secs

64 secs

62 secs

Final Fantasy XIV

6,999

6,982

7,000

Street Fighter IV

448fps

439fps

450fps

Performance

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----

----

Features

----

---

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Value

-----

----

---

Overall

----

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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Lame 3.97 audio encode test WinRAR compression test

SCORES


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Intel motherboards

GROUPTEST 33

EDITOR'S CHOICE ASUS MAXIMUS IV EXTREME

ll of the boards in this grouptest offered strong performance numbers in our benchmarks. However, when it came to picking one to stand as our Best Performance winner, our criteria was simple; the board had to be the fastest on the whole. Looking over our test results revealed Asus’ Maximus IV Extreme to be

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the fastest. It managed the best Cinebench, DivX 7, Lame, WinRAR, Final Fantasy XIV and Street Fighter IV figures. While the differences between the Maximus IV Extreme’s scores and some of the other boards were not huge the fact is that the Asus was the fastest. At the same time we were also impressed with the Asus’ considerable features.

FOXCONN P67A-S

Since motherboards are the most important internal component within any PC, we had strict criteria when it was time to pick a winner. We wanted our Value award winner to offer decent overall performance, a strong set of features and, at the same time, be priced sensibly. In this case simply picking a board because it was the

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cheapest just doesn’t work because in the long run, you will find that an inexpensive board lacks key features or lacks an upgrade path. After going through each motherboard with a finetooth comb we finally decided Foxconn’s stellar P67A-2 was our Value winner because it simply offered the sweetest blend of overall performance, features and price.

To test all the participants in this grouptest thoroughly we built a system around each using an Intel Core i7-2600K processor (running at 3.4GHz), 4GB of Patriot DDR3 memory running in dual-channel mode, a Zotac GeForce GTX 480 graphics card, a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7200rpm hard drive, a LG dual-layer DVD writer and, last but not least, a Thermaltake 1500-watt power supply. We used the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate and used the latest drivers for the chipset and graphics card. When we switched from one motherboard to another, we reinstalled the operating system and software so that each board was given a fair trial. Each motherboard was tested using our standard array of benchmarks which consists of Cinebench 10, Lame 3.97 audio encode, DivX 7 video encode, a WinRAR compression test, Street Fighter IV and Final Fantasy XIV. Higher numbers in Cinebench 10, Street Fighter IV and Final Fantasy XIV are preferable whereas the reverse is true with the Lame, DivX and WinRAR compression tests. Motherboards that performed well in these benchmarks walked away with positively influenced performance scores. We also paid close attention to a motherboard’s features and layout. Boards that offered clean layouts that were easy to work with coupled with useful real world features walked away with high feature scores.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

HOW WE TESTED


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HOT KIT 35

37 PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

Awarded to outstanding Awarded to the most products that have excelled in outstanding product we've both value and performance. encountered during the month.

CONTENTS 37

HP Pavilion DM1-3113SE notebook

38

IVIO ICON DE38 smartphone

39

Leeno mini PC I73461SV SFF PC

40

Zotac ZBOX Blu-ray AD03 Plus SFF PC

41

AOC VITTA T2442E LCD screen

41

Galaxy GeForce GTX 560 Ti GC GPU

42

Intel 510 Series 250GB SSD drive

42

Jabra Stone 2 Bluetooth headset

43

Patriot 32GB LX PRO SDHC Class 10 card

43

Point of View Mobii Tegra Tablet 10.1" tablet PC

40

43 WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

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36 HOT KIT

Reviews

HOTKIT

WINLABS

TESTING EXPLAINED performance when dealing with old and new game titles. As H.A.W.X and World in Conflict are playable games, they are real world tests and so give a more accurate view of a GPU's performance. While Heaven v2.0 is a sort of synthetic test, it is still very accurate in terms of reporting on a GPU's performance. Each graphics card is tested at three different test resolutions; 1024 x 768 pixels, 1600 x 1200 pixels and, finally, 1920 x 1200 pixels. All of the games are run on the maximum settings with the exception of full screen anti-aliasing, which we leave at 4x setting. Then, depending on the price and positioning of the graphics card, performance scores are awarded based on how well, or not, it has performed at a specific resolution. For example, low end or entry level graphics cards are graded mostly on their performance at 1024 x 768 pixels whereas expensive, ultra-high-end cards are graded based on their high resolution figures.

HARD DISK TESTING

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST is the definitive Buyers’ Guide for PC and consumer electronics products in the region. We strenuously test products in our dedicated Dubai WinLab in order to highlight the very best models for our readers. Here we explain just how we test new kit in order to offer truly authoritative and objective recommendations, helping us keep WINDOWS the region’s most relevant technology magazine.

CPU TESTING

GRAPHIC CARD TESTING

Testing processors is a time consuming process because there are a number of different tests, each of which thoroughly stresses a CPU. Depending on the CPU that has to be tested, we construct a testbed using a compatible motherboard. Common components that we test all CPUs with are 6GB of DDR3 memory, a Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edtion GPU and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1Tbyte hard drive. All benchmarks are run at 1024 x 768 pixels and we employ the following benchmark tests; Cinebench 10.5, PCMark 2005 CPU and memory tests, 3DMark 2003 and 2005 CPU tests and POV-Ray to test raw processing performance. To test multimedia performance, we run a Lame 3.97 WAV to MP3 encode test, a TMPGENC video encode, MPEG to DivX conversion test in addition to running F.E.A.R and World in Conflict. With the exception of POV-Ray and all the encode tests, higher numbers mean a faster processor and thus a higher performance score.

Our graphics card testbed comprises an Intel Core i7 940 quad-core processor that runs at 2.93GHz, a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4 motherboard, 6GB of Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory, Western Digital’s 300GB Raptor X SATA hard drive and a 750-watt PC Power and Cooling power supply. All of these components are housed in Thermaltake’s Armour+ chassis and we use the 64-bit edition of Microsoft’s Windows 7 as the machine's operating system. To test a graphics card, we fit the card to this PC and connect it to our Viewsonic VX2835wm 28-inch LCD screen. The screen offers a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, which means it allows us to test graphics cards at all the major resolutions. To test graphics cards, we use three specific benchmarks; Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X, Heaven v2.0 and World in Conflict. Both HA.W.X and World in Conflict use DirectX 10 rendering technology, whilst the Heaven benchmark uses DirectX 11. This enables us to gauge a graphics card’s

To test hard drives, we use our graphics card testbed. The drive in question is hooked up to the motherboard’s Serial ATA II controller (or USB or Firewire port if it’s an external hard drive) and tested using a combination of real world and synthetic benchmark tests. For internal hard drives, we rely on a copy test to ascertain real world performance. The test folder is stored on a SSD drive, ensuring that this drive won’t bottleneck the drive being tested and, to gauge write performance, we time how long it takes for the 4GB folder to be transferred from the SSD drive to the test drive. To test read performance, we do the opposite and time how long it takes for the test drive to transfer the data to the SSD drive. Lower times in both cases equate to better performance. Next we call into action HD Tune Pro, a synthetic benchmark. This tests a drive in terms of its access time, average read and write performance, burst speed and CPU utilisation. In terms of access time and CPU use, lower numbers are better. With external drives we use the same real world read/write test methodology but instead of using a 4GB folder only, we also test the drive with a single 238MB test file. Again, lower times are better.

OTHER PRODUCTS Products such as MP3 players, PMPs, mobile phone etc are tested for a period of one or two weeks. During this time we use the products as someone who purchased it would and this helps us gauge performance, features and value for money. In most cases the brunt of the testing is subjective and the testing always focuses on real world usefulness.


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HOT KIT 37

HP PAVILION DM1-3113SE A limited entertainer

PRICE $545 CONTACT +9714 391 6000 WEB www.hp.com/me

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P’s Pavilion dm1-3113se is the first notebook we’ve tested that’s built around AMD’s Fusion line of processors. More precisely this dm1 is an AMD Brazos-based platform consisting of a Zacate processor, an Ontario APU (accelerated processing unit), Fusion controller hub and a Southbridge based on the SB800 series. The AMD E-350 processor, known as Zacate, in this HP machine sports the best APU in the Brazos lineup. It is this chip that will find its way into highend netbooks and nettops such as the dm1, which retail for slightly less than US $600. As a result machines based around this dual-core processor will compete against those based on dualcore Pentium notebooks, entry-level Core i3 machines and, last but not least, high-end Atom offerings. HP refers to its Pavilion dm1-3113se as an ‘entertainment notebook’. This is odd because apart what we said above about the E-350 processor, the dm1 looks like a netbook with its compact dimensions, 1.5kg weight and 11.6-inch LCD screen. This Pavilion doesn’t have an integrated optical drive either but rather HP bundles it along as a USB-based add-on. In terms of portability the dm1 is a

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mighty offering. Thanks to its compact size and weight the dm1 is a doddle to travel with. You can easily slip it into a small carrying bag or even an oversized jacket pocket without worry. Running Imtec’s Battery Mark 1.1 benchmark the HP impressed us with its battery life of three hours and two minutes. Compared to Lenovo’s more expensive IdeaPad U260 lifestyle notebook (March issue), the dm1 lasted over an hour longer. Moving to performance the dm1 proved solid. Running our PCMark Vantage test the HP fired back scores of 2,302, 1,762, 1,606, 1,952, 2,785, 2,282, 1,816 and 3,057 in the PCMark, Memories, TV and Movies, Gaming, Music, Communication, Productivity and HDD tests. These numbers are strong compared to other netbooks but average versus entry-level notebooks. In terms of gaming the dm1 is less impressive. Running our Street Fighter IV and World in Conflict benchmarks at the LCD’s native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, the APU struggled to produce decent figures whether we ran games at high or low detail settings. The World in Conflict figure framerate of 6fps rose to a still unplayable 14fps when we tried low detail. Only when we reduced

the resolution to 1,024 x 768 pixels did we get close to playable framerates. We seriously think HP should reclassify this machine because it is a very good netbook, rather than a notebook. Using the dm1 proved a pleasant experience. The chiclet keyboard is great to work on and feels fairly sturdy while the trackpad responds with aplomb and feels great under finger. Thanks to the E-350 CPU and its integrated APU we were also able to watch HD movies on the machine without any issues.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS 1.6GHz dual-core AMD E-350 processor, 3GB DDR3 memory, Radeon HD 6310 integrated on CPU-die with 384MB of shared memory, 11.6-inch LCD screen, 1,366 x 768 pixels native resolution, 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive, USB dual-layer DVD writer, 6-cell battery, built-in SD/MMC memory card reader, one HDMI port, three USB ports, one D-SUB port, 1.5kg, one-year warranty.. PROS Decent battery life, a featherweight, reasonable application performance. CONS Can’t tackle the latest games at native resolution. VERDICT If you buy the dm1 expecting a capable notebook you’re in for a disappointment. If however you buy this as a high-end netbook, there’s little else that offers this much punch at this price point.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

PORTABLE NOTEBOOK

Reviews


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SMARTPHONE

38 HOT KIT

IVIO ICON DE38

Innovation and value are its virtues PRICE $150 (Online) WEB www.ivio.com

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he ICON DE38 is the first handheld we've tested from Indonesiabased IVIO and priced at US $150 (according to online pricing), it is also one of the least expensive Android smartphones we've reviewed. The phone is built around MediaTek’s first smartphone chipset solution, the MT6516. An interesting feature is that it's able to process MPEG-2 transport stream decoding without an additional co-processor. This allows companies such as IVIO to build a fully fledged multimedia phone at lower cost. The MT6516 also includes DVB-T, CMMB and DVB-H support, which can be implemented without a dedicated multimedia co-processor. Out of the box the DE38 while not a stunning device is far from unattractive. The device sports a minimalistic front design; there's only one physical button on the phone's front face and just above it are four touch sensitive buttons. Given its low end user price we were impressed with the fact this Android device offers dual SIM/dual GSM capabilities. Fitting two SIM cards the phone functioned as expected; when making calls we could select which SIM we wanted to use to dial and, when

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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Reviews

receiving phone calls, the smartphone notified us of which SIM the number was coming through. The DE38 packs two individual processors. We reckon this approach is less expensive than opting for a single dual-core chip and, at the same time, helps the smartphone perform better. In day-to-day use we noticed a few delays when loading intensive web sites and when launching some of the free apps and games we downloaded from the Android Market. Like the HTC Desire S (reviewed last month), the DE38's LCD isn't bright enough to overcome direct sunlight. As a result the screen washes out, which makes using the device in these situations impossible. The LCD screen runs at a native resolution of 320 x 480 pixels and while there are smartphones that offer much higher native resolutions, they are all far more expensive. Despite the limited resolution the screen is a good one that makes everyday usability a pleasant experience. We were able to bang out text messages and e-mails, navigate the interface and browse web pages without any frustration. That said videos and games aren't this screen's forte owing to its resolution.

The DE38's camera is a mixed bag. While shooting photos with sufficient lighting showed reasonable results, shooting in low light was a tricky experience. In low light there's a considerable amount of lag to deal with while you’re panning to your subject and there's a substantial amount of visible grain as well. And when you actually grab a picture, even if you use the flash, there's just too much grain in most photos once again. Tinkering with settings helps matter slightly.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS ARM9 460MHz processor, ARM7 280MHz processor, 512MB ROM, 256MB RAM, 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive multi-touch screen, native resolution 320 x 480 pixels, MediaTek’s MT6516 chip, 3.2-megapixel digital camera, WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, dual SIM/dual GSM, 3.5mm audio jack, Android 2.2 (Froyo), one-year warranty. PROS Inexpensive, dual SIM capabilities, reasonable performance, easy-to-use. CONS Camera’s low light capabilities are iffy, low resolution screen isn't the best for games or videos. VERDICT Given its dual SIM capabilities and reasonably stacked feature list, the ICON DE38 offers strong value-for-money. While not without its flaws these issues aren’t deal breakers.


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HOT KIT 39

LEENO MINI PC I73461SV It’s a small wonder

PRICE $1,145 CONTACT +9662 614 1454 WEB www.leeno.ca

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eeno’s mini PC I73461SV is the first small formfactor (SFF) PC we’ve tested that’s based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform. Given the impressive performance figures we saw when we tested Sandy Bridge earlier in the year, we were keen to see Leeno’s implementation of it in a SFF. Out of the box the Leeno looks basic; the case is finished in a glossy black that unfortunately retains fingerprints. The case itself is standard SFF fair in terms of overall dimensions and we were surprised to find screws, rather than thumbscrews, keeping the outer lid on. Peeling away the cover and studying the mini PC’s innards revealed a tightly packed rig. The SFF is so packed that Leeno has placed the SSD drive in a standing position between the drive cage and the chassis’ cover. While this is not an ideal position it doesn’t get in the way of any other components. One issue we had with the machine was the lack of space for any upgrades. Both of the drive bays are filled (one DVD writer and one hard drive), the two memory slots on the motherboard are populated and the motherboard’s lone PCI-E x16 slot is already populated. Looking closely at the powersupply

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reveals another limitation; because the PSU is only able to deliver 150-watts, you can’t really opt for a high-end GPU or a faster processor. Under the hood you get an Intel Core i7-2600K processor, you get 6GB of DDR3 memory and there’s a nVidia’s GeForce 9500 GT for video duties. There’s also a 40GB Intel X25-V SSD drive that’s configured to be the boot drive, a second 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green drive for data storage and 802.11n WiFi. The only part that we were worried about is the GeForce 9500 GT, as it isn’t exactly a capable gaming GPU. When we ran our slew of benchmarks on the mini PC our concerns were realised. Running at 1,680 x 1,050 pixels the Leeno managed framerates of 14fps, 10fps and 9fps in our H.A.W.X, World in Conflict and Heaven 2.0 gaming benchmarks. These figures are far below our 30fps smooth base point and even when we dropped the resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 pixels the GPU struggled. Unfortunately because of the PSU and the lack of space to fit a dual-slot cooler GPU, you won’t be able to fit a faster card to boost gaming performance. If you’re interested in a gaming machine then this Leeno rig isn’t for you.

Moving to application performance however the mini PC returned spectacular results owing to its fast processor, ample memory and lightningquick SSD drive. We recorded PCMark Vantage scores of 15,547, 7,147, 5,941, 13,801, 18,425, 16,658, 20,773 and 26,795 in our PCMark, Memories, TV & Movies, Gaming, Music, Communications, Productivity and HDD test suites. These are the fastest numbers we’ve ever recorded from a desktop machine to date.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-2600K processor running at 3.4GHz, ECS H67H2-I motherboard, Intel H67 corelogic chipset, 6GB DDR3 memory, nVidia GeForce 9500 GT with 1GB of dedicated memory, Intel X25-V 40GB SSD (SSDA2M040G2GC), 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green hard drive, dual-layer DVD writer, WiFi 802.11n, gigabit Ethernet, Realtek HD audio, Windows 7 64-bit Professional, one-year warranty. PROS Immense application power, reasonably quiet, well priced, SSD boot drive. CONS No upgrade path, GPU limits gaming performance. VERDICT While the Leeno can’t tackle modern games and has no upgrade path, it’s a stunningly quick application’s machine that’s well priced.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

SMALL FORMFACTOR PC

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SMALL FORMFACTOR PC

40 HOT KIT

ZOTAC ZBOX BLU-RAY AD03 PLUS One spectacularly talented SFF rig PRICE $539 CONTACT +9714 886 3330 WEB www..zotac.com

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otac knows how to build some awesome small formfactor (SFF) machines. This became clear after we tested a few of the companies various MAG and ZBOX machines and the ZBOX Blu-ray AD03 Plus on test here is yet another shining example of clever thinking and solid engineering. The AD03 Plus is possibly the best looking SFF machine we’ve ever looked at. It’s unbelievably slim and is elegantly finished in silver and black. And when you power on the machine the now familiar coloured circle (blue in this case) makes an appearance once again. Despite its compact formfactor the AD03 Plus is surprisingly silent even after hours of use. Though there is an active cooling system it was completely inaudible even in a silent room. The only time the machine can be heard is when the optical drive is in use but it’s far from loud or obnoxious. While the ZBOX features a compact frame it can still be upgraded. All you need to do is unscrew the underside of the machine and you gain access to the internals. By default the AD03 Plus ships with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 250GB hard drive. Owing to the compact design of the machine Zotac has once again

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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Reviews

used SO-DIMM memory and a 2.5-inch hard drive. The machine’s motherboard features two DDR3 memory slots and since Zotac has used a single 2GB module, you can fit another module should you feel the urge to upgrade. The storage drive too can be swapped for a larger model or, if you want a quicker overall machine, a SSD drive. Given the choice we’d fit the AD03 Plus with 4GB of memory and a SSD while relying on an external hard drive for storage. Like HP’s dm1 (also reviewed in this issue) the Zotac packs an AMD E-350 dual-core processor. The chip features an integrated Radeon HD 6310 GPU. In terms of performance the machine produced PCMark Vantage figures of 2,240, 1,680, 1,616, 1,943, 2,555, 2,263, 1,454 and 2,581 in our PCMark, Memories, TV & Movies, Gaming, Music, Communications, Productivity and HDD test suites. These figures are on par with those that the dm1 produced. And, like the dm1, the AD03 Plus struggled with games owing to its integrated GPU. All of the games we tried at 1,680 x 1,050 pixels returned sub 30fps framerates but given the positioning and price of the machine, this isn’t a concern.

Day-to-day the machine offers enough grunt for basic tasks. Thanks to its Blu-ray/DVD combo drive and Radeon 6310 GPU the AD03 Plus can be used as a Full HD player. Zotac supplies Cyberlink’s BD Solutions package and using this to watch 1080p movies, the AD03 was superb. We never noticed dropped frames, stuttering or out of sync audio. Given its price, the AD03 is less expensive yet better than some of set-top Blu-ray solutions on the market today. You get PC functionality too.

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS 1.6GHz AMD E-350 dual-core processor, AMD M1 corelogic chipset, 2GB of system memory, AMD Radeon HD 6310 integrated on CPU die, 250GB hard disk drive, Bluray/DVD writer combo drive, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n WiFi adapter, 8-channel digital audio, SD/SDHC/MMC/ MS/MS Pro/xD memory card slot, two USB3.0 ports, one combo eSATA/USB2.0 port,two-year warranty. PROS Great design, can be upgraded, silent, fantastic Bluray solution, decent application performance, well priced. CONS GPU can’t quite tackle modern game titles.. VERDICT The AD03 Plus is the best ZBOX yet. It’s beautifully designed, offers decent application performance, is a competent Blu-ray player and is very well priced.


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AOC

VITTA T2442E A multipurpose bargain PRICE $180 CONTACT +971 50 600 4017 WEB www.aoc.com

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PCI-E GRAPHICS CARD

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS 24-inch screen, 1,920 x 1080 pixels native resolution, 250cd/m2 brightness, 5ms

GALAXY

GEFORCE GTX 560 TI GC A galaxy full of value

PRICE $249 WEB www.galaxytech.com

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PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS PCI-E interface, nVidia GeForce GTX 560 GPU running at 835MHz, 1GB of GDDR5 memory

his new entry from AOC proves that quality does not necessarily have to be expensive. The T2442E comes from the company’s Vitta range of dual purpose TV/monitors and features a stylish piano black design that though pretty to look at, is a fingerprint and dust magnet. On the right side of the 24-inch screen is a touchsensitive panel which gives access to most of the monitor’s settings via a clean and user-friendly on screen display (OSD). These same buttons also allow you to make channel and volume adjustments. The included remote control is reasonably sized and easy-to-use though it’s far from the slickest remote we’ve come across. At the bottom of the LCD

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HOT KIT 41 panel sits a well concealed pair of 5-watt stereo speakers. These are more than adequate for basic audio playback though there’s little to no bass. The LCD screen is Full HD (1080p) capable and has a quick response time of 5ms. Thanks to the latter we noticed no blurring when we were playing Forza Motorsport 3 or watching 'The Fast and The Furious' on this screen. The LCD also boasts reasonable viewing angles, which makes it a good TV for a small room. As for connectivity the Vitta T2442E has one HDMI input and one DVI input. It also has component ports and a standard antenna port, which means you’ll have no issue hooking this screen up to any output source.

response time, 20,000,000:1 contrast ratio, one DVI input, one Component input, one HDMI input, three-year warranty.

VERDICT A reasonably priced dualpurpose screen that performs well and offers the relevant connectivity.

t the time of going to press Galaxy’s portfolio of GTX 560 Ti cards stood at two with the GTX 560 Ti GC playing second fiddle to the GTX 560 Ti White Edition. Like Palit’s Sonic cards and Zotac’s AMP! edition cards this Galaxy graphics card ships pre-overclocked. So whereas standard GTX 560 Ti cards are specified to run at core, memory and shader frequencies of 822MHz, 4,000MHz and 1,644MHz, the GTX 560 Ti GC ticks along at 835MHz, 4,000MHz and 1,670MHz. With the exception of the card’s 1GB of GDDR5 memory, the core and shaders are clocked higher than nVidia’s recommend frequencies. Running the Galaxy

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through our benchmarks the card returned decent results that were faster than standard GTX 560 Ti cards. At the same time because this card isn’t as highly overclocked as Palit’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic (reviewed in our March 2011 issue) or Zotac’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP! Edition (April 2011 issue), it fell behind those cards. For instance whereas the Galaxy managed Heaven v2.0 framerates of 76.2fps, 50.6fps and 43.5fps at 1,024 x 768, 1,680 x 1,050 and 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, the Palit card managed figures of 78.6fps, 54.1fps and 46.5fps. The Galaxy’s party piece however is its low end user price. At $249 the Galaxy is $90 cheaper than the Palit.

running at 4,000MHz, 384 CUDA cores, 1,670MHz shader clock, nVidia SLI ready, DirectX 11 compliant, two-year warranty.

VERDICT While this card isn’t as fast as some of its competitors, it is very aggressively priced.

WINDOWS MIDDL MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

LCD/TV MONITOR

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SSD DRIVE

42 HOT KIT

Reviews

INTEL

SSD 510 SERIES Intel not quite inside

PRICE $584 CONTACT +9714 440 4300 WEB www.intel.com

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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

BLUETOOTH HEADSET

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

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SPECIFICATIONS Serial ATA 6Gbps interface, 250GB storage capacity, 2.5-inch formfactor, up to 500MB/

STONE 2

It’s very easy to roll with this stone PRICE $135 CONTACT +9714 299 6556 WEB www.jabra.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Bluetooth 2.1, dual microphones, audible voice instructions and voice command

for an eye-brow raising $584, meaning you’re paying $2.1 per gigabyte. The smaller 120GB variant (model SSDSC2MH120A2K5) on the other hand retails for $284 or $2.4 per gigabyte. So although the 250GB drive is more expensive, it is cheaper per gigabyte. Running the drive through our benchmark palette we came away impressed. The drive posted average read and write results of 254.9MB/sec and 239.2MB/ sec respectively. These are the fastest figures we’ve ever seen from a SSD drive albeit by a small margin. In our real world tests too the drive was impressive; our Photoshop CS 5.1 and Heaven v2.0 load test took just four- and 15-seconds – the fastest times we’ve recorded yet.

sec sequential reads, up to 315MB/sec sequential writes, 34nm NAND flash memory, three-year warranty.

VERDICT A fast and large SSD drive but you’ll have to cough up a lot of cash for the privilege of owning one.

hen we reviewed Jabra’s original Stone in our April 2010 issue we loved it. We thus had high expectations of the recently released Stone 2. Like its predecessor the Stone 2 combines with its dock to resemble a black stone. While the design of the dock and headset hasn’t changed much, we’re actually happy about this as we love this design. The outside of the headset features a concealed button which activates and toggles between accepting calls and an audible battery level indicator. The headset also features an intelligent voice that provides instructions on pairing. There are also two LEDs on the inner surface of

the headset, which indicates Bluetooth connectivity status and battery level. The Stone2 has noise cancelling features which worked rather diligently; we were able to hear and transmit crisp, clear sound throughout our testing period. An interesting feature is the ability of the headset to inform you, via audible voice, of the number of the caller when you receive a call. If the number is stored in your phone, it will even announce the name of the person. A user can then, via voice command, “Accept” or “Reject” the call. Nifty. Considering the headset’s new features we were happy to find that Jabra has priced the Stone 2 at the same price point that its predecessor launched at last year.

W

JABRA

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

hile Intel will eventually release a successor to its existing X25-M G2 SSD drives that target the mainstream market, the 510 series of SSDs will fill in and target the high-end market. Our drive (model SSDSC2MH250A2K5) packs 250GB of storage capacity and like other retail SSD kits we’ve tested, Intel packs this one with useful accessories. You get a 3.5-inch adapter, a 6Gbps rated Serial ATA cable, a 4-pin molex to SATA power adapter and software in the form of Intel’s own SolidState Drive Toolbox. Although SSDs have fallen in price in recent years, they still hold a considerable price premium over hard drives. Our 250GB test sample for instance retails

enabled, headset weight 7g, operating range 10m, 10mm dynamic speaker, 16 ohm, oneyear warranty.

VERDICT An evolutionary improvement that offers unique features at the same price point of its predecessor.


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PATRIOT

32GB LX PRO SDHC ClASS 10

Your context companion

PRICE $79 WEB www.patriotmemory.com

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TABLET PC

PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

-------------

SPECIFICATIONS SDHC card, SDA 3.0 Class 10, manual lock/ unlock, up to 20MB/sec (133x) transfer

POINT OF VIEW

MOBII TEGRA TABLET 10.1” One power-packed tablet

PRICE TBC WEB www.pointofview-online.com

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PERFORMANCE FEATURES VALUE FOR MONEY

-------------

SPECIFICATIONS 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, nVidia Tegra 250 GPU, 512MB DDR2 memory,

ecure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) memory cards are essential if you create or capture a large amount of content in a single session. This is because whereas standard SD cards are limited to a capacity of 4GB, SDHC cards can be had with capacities as high as 256GB. The 32GB LX Pro SDHC Class 10 card is Patriot’s latest SDHC offering and priced at US $79, it isn’t exactly an inexpensive offering. Doing the math the Patriot works out to an expensive $2.5 per gigabyte. Patriot reckons that its 32GB drive can store up to 12,320 10-megapixel images when they’re shot in ‘fine’ detail mode. If you’re a videographer though, the firm says you can capture up

S

speeds, up to 12,320 10-megapixel photos (fine mode), up to 320 minutes of HD MPEG4 video (13Mbps/CBR), five-year warranty.

hereas Point of View was once known mostly for its range of graphics cards, the company has since diversified and now offers notebooks, tablets, iPod speakers and various other gadgets. Compared to Apple’s iPad 2 tablet which is designed to be held and used in a portrait stance, Point of View’s Mobii TEGRA Tablet 10.1” device, though sporting similar dimensions, is setup by default for landscape use. While we initially thought that using the device in this way would be tough, we found the tablet was easy to hold with one hand and stab away at the LCD with the other. The 10.1” screen fitted to this tablet is quite responsive

W

512MB NAND flash, 10.1-inch LCD screen, native resolution 1,024 x 600 pixels, Android 2.2, one-year warranty.

HOT KIT 43 to 320 minutes of MPEG4 HD content, if you record at a 13Mbps/CBR rate. Beyond capacity the Patriot also offers speed. Since this Patriot SDHC card is a SDA 3.0 Class 10 compliant device it should be able to maintain a minimum transfer rate of 10MB/sec. When we ran our CrystalDiskMark 50MB test, the card managed sequential read and write speeds of 14.63MB/sec and 2.71MB/ sec respectively. And when we moved onto our real world test, transferring a folder containing 161 files that weighed in at 454MB to and from the drive, the Patriot got the write job done in three minutes and 55 seconds and 36 seconds respectively. Decent figures for a Class 10 device. VERDICT Swift performance and a large capacity make this card ideal for HD content creators.

so using the tablet is a stress-free experience. That said the LCD backlight isn’t very bright so the screen does washout when there’s a lot of ambient light or you’re working outdoors in direct sunlight. Colours too aren’t as vibrant when compared to the iPad 2. Thanks to the substantial hardware under the hood however the TEGRA Tablet is a screamer. There’s no lag when calling upon apps and games, web pages load in a jiffy even when there’s substantial flash content and, best of all, the device’s battery lasted for a solid five hours under heavy use. Our only major niggle with this tablet is that the plastic back cover of the device feels a little cheap in hand. VERDICT Point of View’s Mobii tablet is easy-to-use and offers great multimedia performance.

WINDOWS MIDDL MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

SDHC MEMORY CARD

Reviews


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44 BUYERS GUIDE

BUYERSGUIDE HOW TO USE THE GUIDE The Buyer’s Guide is a fully comprehensive guide to the best products that WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST has reviewed, and is intended to act as an effective resource for buyers of such products in the Middle East market. The Buyer's Guide is updated with new products each month, and out of date products removed.

Each of our ten product categories contains ten recommended product buys. For each product we’ve included vendor (or local distributor) contact details, our Windows Middle East overall rating, our verdict on the product and details of which issue we reviewed it in (alternatively you can find all our product reviews - in full - on www.itp.net). Each of the products shown scored either 4/5 or 5/5 in its respective review, so instead of listing products in score order we have arranaged these by price, with the most expensive at the top of the page. This makes it quick and easy for you to find the product you can best afford. We also offer advice on how to go about buying products within each particular product category. This gives you, the reader, the ability to make a better-informed judgment about what kit is suitable for your needs.

RATINGS EXPLAINED Awarded to outstanding products that have excelled in both value and performance.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Awarded to products that offer you the most bang for your buck.

Awarded to products that offer impressive amounts of power and speed.

45 45 46 46 47 47 48 48 49 49

COMPONENTS DESKTOPS DIGITAL IMAGING HANDHELDS MONITORS NOTEBOOKS PERIPHERALS PRINTERS SOFTWARE STORAGE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

AWARDS are basically presented to products for their outstanding performance and value. A Performance or Value winner must have received five stars in that particular category. An Editor’s Choice award goes to outstanding products that have excelled in both value and performance.

FEATURES: What value-added features are included? Do they benefit the user? Are they innovative? PERFORMANCE: Does the product perform well? Is it quick? EASE OF USE: How user-friendly is the interface? Does it require expertise? VALUE FOR MONEY: Does the price represent a fair return on performance? DESIGN: Is the product well designed? Are buttons easy-to-access? Are ports and connections well-placed?

EXCELLENT VERY GOOD GOOD AVERAGE POOR

---------------------


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BUYERS GUIDE 45 Components Fractal Design Define R3 Medium tower ATX case

$381

Fractal Design’s amazing R3 is ideal for building a high-end rig with, thanks to its ample internal space and superb cooling setup.

Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 LGA 1155 motherboard

$539 RATING WEB REVIEWED

Gigabyte’s awesome Z68X-UD7-B3 is packed with features such as USB3.0 and 6Gbps Serial ATA and multi-GPU support. A monster board to build a Sandy Bridge rig around.

Intel Core i7-2600K LGA1155 quad-core processor

$317

The Intel Core i7-2600K CPU is a super fast performer which thanks to its unlocked multiplier can also be overclocked like a monster.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Socket AM3 processor

$270

AMD’s Phenom II X6 1100T represents great value-for-money. It offers strong performance for a bargain price tag.

Zotac GeForce GTX 580 AMP! Edition PCI-E graphics card

RATING +++++ WEB www.fractal-design.com REVIEWED March 2011

TBC

The GeForce GTX 580 GPU is a marked improvement over its predecessor and should really have been nVidia’s first, high-end ‘Fermi’, rather than the GTX 480.

+++++ www.gigabyte.com June 2011

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

+9714 440 4300 www.intel.com April 2011

+9714 427 2626 www.amd.com March 2011

+9714 355 5520 www.zotac.com January 2011

Desktops $8,175

Yoyotech’s PC has oddles of character and packs some serious performance under its distinctive hood. The only real issue is its price tag.

Leeno mini PC I73461SV Small formfactor PC

$1,145

The compact Leeno packs potent application punch thanks to its Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K CPU, 6GB of memory and SSD drive. It’s well-priced too.

Zotac ZBOX Blu-ray AD03 Plus Small formfactor PC

$539

An extremely well built small formfactor rig that looks great and offers fully-fledged Blu-ray playback. It’s also inexpensive at $539.

Sky Electronics Expeditor EXP - X980/6/80SSD/1TB/480X2/RV2 High-end gaming PC

$4,688

If you want butter smooth gaming framerates and wait-free application performance the Expeditor is the rig for you. It’s also very reasonably priced considering its high-spec components.

Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11 Barebones PC The ZBOX HD-ID11 is an impressive mini PC barebones that can be turned into a competent rig with the addition of the right components.

$209

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 800 344357 WEB www.yoyotech.co.uk REVIEWED June 2010 RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

+9662 614 1454 www.leeno.ca June 2011

+9714 886 3330 www.zotac.com June 2011

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 266 3774 WEB www.skyelectronics.com REVIEWED July 2010 RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++ +9714 355 5520 www.zotac.com September 2010

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Yoyotech FI7EPOWER MK3 High-end gaming PC


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46 BUYERS GUIDE Digital imaging RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 391 8400 WEB www.sony-mea.com REVIEWED January 2010

Sony Bravia VPL-VW85 Full HD projector

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 391 5050 WEB www.canon-me.com REVIEWED June 2010

Canon Legria HFM306 Full HD camcorder

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 217 0700 WEB http://ae.nikon-asia.com REVIEWED May 2011

Nikon D7000 Mid-range digital SLR camera

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 353 6074 WEB www.canon-me.com REVIEWED May 2011

Canon EOS 1100D Entry-level digital SLR camera

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 391 5050 WEB www.canon-me.com REVIEWED December 2010

Canon IXUS 1000HS Digital cameras

$7,357

While the Sony isn’t exactly cheap at US $7,357 it actually offers a cost-effective solution if you’re looking for a way to go Full HD with a massive screen size.

$817

The Legria HFM306 offers high quality capture performance and ease-of-use. The only thing it lacks is a long life battery.

$1,989

Nikon’s D7000 is a fantastic picture grabber. It feels great in hand, captures brilliant shots when used by skilled photographers and has a number of useful extras.

$654

While the EOS 1100D feels like a budget digital SLR in hand in terms of its build, it offers excellent image quality and an easy-to-use interface.

$408

The IXUS 1000HS is a decent point-and-shoot that can produce great photographs in the hands of amateurs and skilled photographers alike.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Handhelds RATING +++++ WEB www.blackberry.com REVIEWED September 2010

BlackBerry Bold 2 9700 Business smartphone

RATING +++++ WEB www.garminasus.com REVIEWED June 2010

Garmin-Asus Nuvifone M10 Touchscreen smartphone

+++++

RATING WEB REVIEWED

http://ae.lge.com October 2009

RATING WEB REVIEWED

www.samsung.com September 2010

RATING WEB REVIEWED

www.motorola.com September 2010

+++++

+++++

$626

While the Bold won’t blow you away with its user interface, it is still a great smartphone with loads of features for an attractive price.

$700

The Nuvifone M10 boasts sharp, if unoriginal looks and some very useful GPS features. Great for on the go users.

LG KM900 Arena Touchscreen smartphone

$653

While the KM900 Arena offers solid features and a great looking interface, its touchscreen hinders overall usability.

Samsung Galaxy S Touchscreen smartphone

$735

The Galaxy S is a fantastic smartphone that’s fun and easy-to-use. The experience it delivers beats even Apple’s iPhone 3GS.

Motorola Milestone Touchscreen smartphone The Milestone is, quite literally, a solid phone with decent features. It just feels a little dated compared to other Android devices.

$681


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BUYERS GUIDE 47 Monitors Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD 24-inch LED LCD

$476

The LED-based SyncMaster FX2490HD is a flexible screen that excels at both work and play. It is reasonably priced as well.

Philips Cinema 21:9 56-inch LCD TV

$5,449

Although 21:9 content isn’t widely available as yet, the Philips is still worth having because of its impressive video-scaling.

LG Flatron W2261V 22-inch widescreen LCD

+++++ +9714 335 3666 www.philips.com December 2009

+++++

$195

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

$326

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

BenQ’s E2200HD has aged very gracefully and is now an even better value buy than when it was originally launched.

Acer S243HL 24-inch widescreen LCD

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

$217

The Flatron W2261V offers killer visuals, an elegant and attractive design and won’t necessarily break the bank. A great buy.

BenQ E2200HD 22-inch widescreen LCD

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 364 8600 WEB www.samsung.com/ae REVIEWED January 2011

An aggressively priced LCD screen that’s supremely capable in the visual department. An exceptional value-buy.

+9714 881 2191 www.lge.com September 2009

+9714 299 1000 www.benq.ae September 2009

+9714 805 6000 www.acer.com January 2011

Notebooks $600

Cash strapped buyers will appreciate the DM3’s aggressive price tag and, suave looks and strong overall performance.

FTS M2010 Netbook

$408

A handsome netbook that boasts quick performance and lengthy battery life. The M2010 is competitively priced too.

Asus U53JC Bamboo Collection Desktop replacement

$1,635

Although the Asus has a green element to it, this machine packs serious firepower at a very attractive price point.

Toshiba Qosmio X500-11G High-end desktop replacement

$2,479

The Qosmio X500-11G is a heavy-duty desktop replacement that can tackle applications and games without breaking a sweat.

Dell Streak Tablet PC The Streak is an amazing gadget that offers the functionality of a smartphone with almost all the everyday usability of a full-sized tablet.

$817

+9714 391 6000 www.hp.com/me August 2010

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 501 5716 WEB http://ts.fujitsu.com/ REVIEWED November 2009 RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++ +9714 299 3873 www.asus.com August 2010

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 881 7789 WEB www.toshibame.com REVIEWED August 2010 RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++ +9714 391 1860 www.dell.com January 2011

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

HP Pavilion DM3-1340EV Budget portable


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48 BUYERS GUIDE Peripherals RATING WEB REVIEWED RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED RATING WEB REVIEWED

Sansa Fuze +++++ Sandisk Media player

www.sandisk.com October 2010

$70

The Fuze packs mighty punch despite its low cost and compact size. It’s usable, sports loads of functions and features a memory expansion slot.

+++++ Imation LINK A / V Extender +9714 881 8008 www.imation.com February 2011

$190

Audio video extender

A competent device that allows you to broadcast HD content to your TV or monitor without the use of cables.

+++++ Apple iPod Touch 64GB www.apple.com October 2010

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 343 1441 WEB www.sennheiser.com REVIEWED May 2011 RATING +++++ WEB www.tdkperformance.com REVIEWED January 2011

$486

Media player The iPod Touch is a superb media player that’s capable of providing hours of entertainment either via content or the apps you put on it.

Sennheiser HD 800 High-end headphones

$1,416

The Sennheiser HD 800 headphones are the best set of cans the Windows team has ever had the pleasure of listening to.

TDK WR700 Wireless Headphones Headphones

$199

The WR700 Wireless Headphones offer excellent aural performance at a very reasonable price point. Highly recommended.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Printers RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

+9714 883 5878 www.brother.ae May 2010

+9714 204 5810 www.okime.ae September 2010

+9714 391 6000 www.hp.com September 2010

+9714 204 5810 www.okime.ae February 2011

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 391 5050 WEB www.canon-me.com REVIEWED February 2011

Brother HL-3070CW LED colour printer

$360

Lively performance, compact dimensions and flexible connectivity make the HL-3070CW a worthwhile buy.

OKI B411dn Monochrome laser printer

$360

OKI’s B411dn is ideal for small businesses thanks to its super quick print performance and wide array of standard features.

HP P1102w Monochrome laser printer

$323

The P1102w is well priced, is reasonably quick and sports built-in WiFi connectivity as standard. A solid buy for a SOHO or small business.

OKI MC361DN LED colour printer

$940

The MC361dn is the obvious choice if you have demanding print needs and require a fast and capable colour printer.

Canon PIXMA MG6140 Inkjet colour MFD With six ink tanks, a slick user interface and superb overall print quality, the Pixma MG6140 is a brilliant buy that won’t hurt your bank balance.

$231


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BUYERS GUIDE 49 Software Dr.Web Security Space Pro Security suite

$27

A competent security suite that’s best suited for advanced users who won’t miss interface eye-candy and loads of help.

ESET Smart Security Security suite

$69

While Smart Security lacks a very strong anti-spyware component it is very easy-to-use, packs a decent scan engine and a tough firewall.

Norton Internet Security 2011 Security suite

+++++ www.adaox.com March 2010

RATING +++++ WEB www.symantec.com REVIEWED February 2011

$40

RATING +++++ WEB www.kaspersky.com REVIEWED March 2011

$43

RATING WEB REVIEWED

Kaspersky’s latest security suite is easy-to-use, relatively light on system resources and is packed with accurate and useful security features.

IOLO System Mechanic 10 Utility software

RATING WEB REVIEWED

+++++ www.drweb.com March 2011

$42

NIS 2011 is a well designed package that offers superb protection from a variety of online and local threats. It also operates with almost no impact on system performance. An added bonus.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 Security suite

RATING WEB REVIEWED

Iolo’s System Mechanic 10 is a competent utility that can, in most cases, revitalise your rig. The software is very easy-to-use and doesn’t require any real expertise.

+++++ www.iolo.com Holiday Special

Storage $117

While pricey, the Ultimate offers lightning quick speed, making it much more usable than USB2.0 flash drives.

Hitachi XL Desk 1000 External hard drive

RATING +++++ CONTACT +9714 507 8888 WEB www.hitachigst.com REVIEWED October 2010

$440

RATING WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

+++++

Although performance hasn’t sky-rocketed compared to its predecessor, the second generation Intel X25-M SSD offers better value and reliability.

Western Digital VelociRaptor WD6000HLHX 3.5-inch SATA hard disk

$329

The latest update to Western Digital’s VelociRaptor range brings higher storage capacities and better performance. It is the fastest Serial ATA spindle-based drive you can buy.

Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB 3.5-inch SATA hard disk A top-notch 3.5-inch drive that boasts superlative performance and an enormous amount of storage capacity for a fair price.

+++++ +4401 932 738888 www.kingston.com November 2010

$80

The XL Desk 1000 offers 1TB of storage capacity, a three-year warranty and backup software for an unbelievable price. It’s a steal.

Intel 160GB X25-M SSD SSD drive

RATING CONTACT WEB REVIEWED

$261

www.intel.com October 2009

+9714 881 3234 www.wdc.com July 2010

+9714 881 3234 www.wdc.com February 2011

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Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 USB3.0 memory stick


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50 GAME ON

News

GAME ON NEWS APPLE MAY BE CREATING A HOME CONSOLE Apple may be getting into home console territory according to a research feature by Digital Foundry. To account for this, the feature indicates that Apple has introduced more oomph into the iPad 2’s graphics rendering components, and upped the game on rivals even though it is already a market leader. The feature asks: ‘Why would Apple need to introduce an architecture with a 4x to 7x performance boost over an existing technology that is already dominating the market?’ The feature goes on to say: ‘Either we are looking at a company looking to consolidate its iron grip on the mobile games market by combining its existing unparalleled developer support with state-of-the-art technology, or else iPad 2 represents the first stages of a plan to expand iOS’s reach from mobile phones and MP3 players through to tablets and perhaps in the near future, home games consoles.’ Digital Foundry claims that Apple is currently focusing a lot more on Apple TV and that could be a way to enter the home console market. A further notable indication made by the website was that Apple has acquired highlevel executives from Nintendo and Activision. Both companies are leaders in their own right in the gaming industry.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

NEW MAP IN BLACK OPS TO FEATURE CELEBRITIES Call of Duty: Black Ops has a new map that will feature a host of well known celebrities. The ‘Call of the Dead’ map will feature famous horror and action stars like Robert Englund, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michael Rooker and Danny Trejo. “Our latest zombie creation, Call of the Dead, is unreal! ... We set out to create an exciting new zombie experience for fans of the genre that takes Zombies to an insane new level.” said Mark Lamia, Studio Head of Treyarch. Dave Anthony, Call of Duty: Black Ops Director said, “This is Treyarch’s tribute to the legendary George Romero, who truly defined the zombie genre and whose incredible work has been such an inspiration to our team. It was an absolute honour to work with such an amazing and talented cast whose passion and energy brought their characters instantly to life. Fans are going to love this.” The Call of the Dead zombie level and four other multiplayer maps are available in the second downloadable content pack, known as Escalation. The storyline for the zombie level is inspired by the work of horror writer and director, George A. Romero. Some of his famous works involve, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Romero also stars as himself in the newly created zombie level.

SONY GETS SUED The PlayStation network breach that resulted in millions of players’ personal information and credit card details being compromised has resulted in one user taking Sony to court. The lawsuit brought forward by Kristopher Johns from Birmingham, Alabama accuses Sony of not taking ‘reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users.’ The gamer has said that he will push the severity of the case to class action status and wants free credit monitoring and monetary compensation for his grievances with Sony. “This action arises from Sony’s failure to maintain adequate computer data security of consumer personal data and financial data, including, but not limited to credit card data and the reasonably foreseeable exploitation of such inadequate security at defendant Sony by computer ‘hackers,’ causing the compromise of the privacy of private information of approximately seventy-seven (77) million consumer credit card account holders,” reads the lawsuit.


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News

GAME ON 51

FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS OUT WITH NEW DLC PACKS Bethseda announced last month that it will be releasing three DLC packs for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC versions of Fallout: New Vegas. The first available pack is ‘Honest Hearts’ which was released on the 17th of May for PC and Xbox and on the 18th May for PS3. The game is set in Utah’s Zion National Park and sees you leading an expedition that is soon swamped by a tribal war party. From here you have to escape the Mojave by going through its belligerent nomads in the process. The second DLC pack, known as Old World Blues, is scheduled for release this month. This pack sees players become an unwilling participant in a gruesome experiment. This also gives players an insight into the Mojave's mutated and monstrous inhabitants. This DLC pack will also give gamers the choice to either battle the twisted scientists or combine forces with them to fend off an even greater threat. The last DLC, Lonesome Road, will become available to fans in July and will revolve around the Courier story. The tale will take you through the dangerous canyons of the Divide, a place that has seen devastation through years of earthquakes and violent storms.

R.O.H.A.N: BLOOD FEUD GETS NEW SERVER YNK Interactive have announced the release of a new server, Divinity, as the first of the major updates that the company is moving to in its mature online RPG PC creation, R.O.H.A.N: Blood Feud. “Divinity is just the start of a new beginning with R.O.H.A.N. this year,” said Derrick Lee, Project Manager of YNK Interactive. Lee continued, “We’re thrilled on the release of the new server update, as it sets the foundation for many events and exciting game content to come.” Divinity can be accessed by existing players as well as new players who want to play the fantasy RPG. There will be special perks for new characters and old players will be given additional game content. Divinity comes just before the new Hero expansion for R.O.H.A.N: Blood Feud, which will have new quests and challenges, along with enhanced PVP systems, armour and item alternatives as well as more refined townships. There will also be party or solo adventures available as part of the expansion. YNK announced that characters created in the first month of the server launch would get a Starter package that would contain items to aid players in their quest to become heroes. Some of these include a +50% EXP Growth Seal, a double killing Blessed Seal, Styling Ticket and +5 on all stats Jersey costume.

2K, Nickelodeon and Major League Baseball have announced a new game, Nicktoons MLB, for the Kinect for Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. The stars from the Nicktoons series will ‘batter up’ against top players from 30 Major League Baseball teams. Some of the characters include SpongeBob SquarePants, ZIM, Dudley Puppy, Fanboy, Chum Chum, and Ren and Stimpy, along with star MLB players including Matt Holliday (St. Louis Cardinals), Andre Ethier (Los Angeles Dodgers), Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies), and Robinson Cano (New York Yankees). The baseball fields can be varied and will include Fenway Park as well as the ‘Frosty Freeze Field’. “The Nicktoons are an animated bunch and it’s no secret they have been petitioning our office to facilitate this unprecedented match up,” said Steve Lux, Vice President for Business Development of 2K Play.

“Whether an extraterrestrial from Planet Irk, superheroes who wear underwear on the outside of their costumes, or a secret agent dog, time will tell if these heavy hitters have the grit to play in the big leagues,” continued Lux. Shaan Kandawalla, Vice President of Digital Retail Games for Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group added, “Our Nicktoons stars are taking the field and plan to ‘go yard’ against the best players in Major League Baseball ... Nicktoons MLB will introduce a whole new rivalry on the baseball diamond and mark the first time our popular animated characters and MLB’s players will be featured in the same game.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

NICKELODEON’S TOONS TAKE ON BASEBALL’S BEST


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52 GAME ON

News

MASS EFFECT 3 DELAYED Bad news Mass Effect fans, it appears that Mass Effect 3 has a new launch date according to the guys at Electronic Arts. The game was previously scheduled to release in late 2011 but is now scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2012. After an EA earnings call, John Riccitello, CEO of EA had this to say, "Essentially, step by step BioWare is adjusting some of the gameplay mechanics and some of the features that you'll see at E3 that can put this into a genre equivalent of shooter-meets-RPG, and essentially address a far larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 did and Mass Effect 2 began to approach." Casey Hudson, Executive producer wrote on the game’s official forum, “The development team is laser focused on making sure Mass Effect 3 is the biggest, boldest and best game in the Mass Effect series, ensuring that it exceeds everyone's expectations." An indication of Mass Effect 3 being similar to Mass Effect 2 could definitely suggest that EA is aiming to make Mass Effect 3 more of an action packed game, with a multiplayer mode. The delay has infuriated many fans and leaves gamers with fewer options to play later this year.

LA NOIRE PROVIDES SETTING FOR SHORT STORIES Rockstar Games and Mullholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, have partnered with some greats in the thriller genre to publish a series of short stories of which some are based on characters and cases from the game L.A. Noire. “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories” is available with all e-book retailers from this month, starting 6th June, and includes the work of legendary authors such as Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss. Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser said, “L.A. Noire draws on a rich history of not just film, but also great crime literature for inspiration …Using the game’s world as a springboard, we worked with the genre’s best writers to create stories that lived up to the finest traditions of crime fiction.” The publishing house was equally enthusiastic about this unique venture and Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown and Company said, “We are thrilled to be embarking on a creative partnership with the team at Rockstar Games … The possibilities for cross-promotions of this nature, encouraging gamers to read and readers to play games are huge. We’re looking forward to a new frontier of book publishing possibilities and see Rockstar as an ideal partner.”

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

SEGA ANNOUNCES RE-RELEASE OF GUARDIAN HEROES SEGA has announced that it will release a new Guardian Heroes title later this year. The title was a favourite when it first came out on the Sega Saturn in 1996. The classic action–RPG brawler, developed by Treasure, will feature a completely re-mastered game with enhanced graphics and different modes of play including online co-op and battle modes. Guardian Heroes will be available via Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360, and is said to arrive this fall for players in Europe and the United States. “Ever since we began to make SEGA’s classic Dreamcast and the Mega Drive titles available for modern systems, the fan response has been overwhelming – and the demand for their favourite games has been pouring in,” said Haruki Satomi, VP of Digital Business at SEGA. Satomi continued, “Players have been clamouring for this treasured favourite from the Saturn days, and we cannot wait to show what we have got for them.” Guardian Heroes will bring the Sega Saturn’s favourite game back to life with new HD graphics, and Treasure's fast-paced action gameplay to be used on a new generation of hardware. The game’s ability to be downloaded via Xbox Live will ensure worldwide appeal.


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54 GAME ON

Mortal Kombat

XBOX

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Price: $73 Controller: Xbox 360 controller Best Bit: Finishing moves are completely over the top and absolutely satisfying. Verdict: Although the long running Mortal Kombat series has taken a few missteps over the years, the latest game does everything well. Whether you’re a fan of the series or just a fan of fighting games in general, this is one game you don’t want to miss.

he first Mortal Kombat hit arcades back in 1993 and took the world by storm. From there the series moved into homes around the globe via the PC and various consoles and whereas the series has - over the years - taken a few missteps, we’re happy to say that the latest is a return to form. Like its predecessors this Mortal Kombat game features a story mode but whereas in the past there was precious little holding it together, here, there’s a full fledged storyline that takes place after the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. The game also revisits the time period in which Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat III were based, thanks to an interesting plot element. The good news with the storyline is that it forces you to play and experience most of the combatants in the game. For those who are new to the series, the story mode in addition to moving towards a final showdown, manages to give a fair bit of background on most of the combatants, explaining who they are, what they do and why they’re competing. It’s a comprehensive experience overall. As you progress through the story, the game also introduces you to tag matches, which depending on the difficulty and your level of skill can be seriously challenging. One major misstep the series took in recent years was moving to a 3D fighting plane. Thankfully the developers listened to fan

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feedback and have moved back to a 2D fighting plane. The developers actually describe this Mortal Kombat as being 2.5D because of the fact that the combatants, though fighting on a 2D plane, are rendered in 3D. This reviewer is happy to say that the overall effect is brilliant. In terms of combat the game is flawless. The action is fast and brutal as you’d expect and although the Xbox 360 controller can sometimes get in the way of performing advanced moves, as a fighting game, this is one of the very best we’ve tried. When done right the advanced combos look great and have a real flow to them onscreen and so look fantastic. Mortal Kombat also boasts a new ‘super meter’ which can be charged to three levels. This gradually fills up as you work your way through a fight and each level gives you special actions to call upon via pulling the controller’s triggers. The first level can deliver a more brutal special attack, the second can be used to interrupt an opponent’s combos and, when fully charged, the third can be used to unleash an insane special combo known as a ‘X-ray attack’. The X-ray attacks are super-devastating combo moves that deal out varying amounts of damage, depending on who you play as. With the more serious X-ray attacks almost 50% of an opponent’s life bar can be depleted in one fell swoop. The moves themselves look amazing because the game shows you an X-ray view of the


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Mortal Kombat

Scorpion packs some killer moves in this latest version of Mortal Kombat and he looks awesome inflicting them on his foes

The character animation and special effects are sublime. It’s easily the best looking fighting game we’ve played

GAME ON 55

opponent on the receiving end of this attack. Thanks to this you’ll see bones shatter or break and much more. It’s a superb inclusion though we have to say that given that you see your opponent’s, or your own, bones being shattered, it’s hard to fathom how fighters can continue to fight once the attack is over (assuming they still have any life left). The finishing moves are another hugely impressive aspect of the latest Mortal Kombat. They’re completely over the top and very impressive to watch. The best part is that each combatant has two different fatalities, one stage fatality (for pit levels) and even a ‘babality’. You’ll have to find each character’s second fatality however by unlocking them in the Krypt. You can also unlock loads of other content here via coins, which you earn by winning fights. Generally speaking, completing the storyline will give you enough money to unlock most of the locked content. Graphically Mortal Kombat is very strong. Each of the game’s stages is packed with tons of detail that, if you’re not careful, can distract you from the fight. The characters themselves look superb and boast some serious damage modeling. You’ll see clothes tear, exposed bones (after a particularly brutal fight) and tons and tons of blood. The blood in particular is impressive because it behaves very naturally; an opponent on the receiving end of punishment will have his/her blood fly onto the floor and even onto the other fighter in a realistic way. The X-ray moves, finishing moves, combos and super moves are presentation-perfect too; there’s absolutely nothing we were left wanting for. The game’s audio is spot on as well. The soundtracks are what you’d expect of a Mortal Kombat game; fastpaced and genuinely interesting to listen to. The effects associated with the X-ray moves, fatalities, punches, kicks etc are appropriately in-your-face and do a great job of convincing you that you’ve just taken a seriously blow (or several).

Each of the combatants packs an arsenal of deadly moves ranging from cool to completely incomprehensible

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If blood makes you squeamish this is not the game for you. The damage modeling is beyond cool

Combos are brutal when done right. You can easily reduce an opponent’s health by a massive margin for an early lead

Pit levels are, expectedly, back and when you deliver that final crushing upper cut, the results are brilliant to watch. Don’t Youtube it! You’ve got to see it in-game


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56 GAME ON

Portal 2

XBOX

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Price: $73 Controller: Xbox 360 controller Best Bit: Portal 2’s advanced chambers will test your mettle each and every time. Verdict: A worthy follow up to the fantastic original. It’s better in almost every way and the addition of a proper cooperative mode means that you and a friend can have hours of fun together.

uzzle-platform games are far from something I'm keen on but despite this, the original Portal was one the best games I played back in 2007. Portal 2, like its predecessor, focuses on intriguing gameplay, superb in-game mechanics and elements and a surprisingly engrossing storyline. The basic formula hasn’t changed much in Portal 2 and when you consider how strong its predecessor was, this isn’t a bad thing at all. The storyline picks up after the events of the first game and within the first few minutes of play you meet a comical but helpful AI bot and get hold of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The fun just never stops because the puzzles are just as crazy and engrossing as before. Like its predecessor Portal 2 will take a fair few

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hours to complete and as you progress through the campaign you’ll come up against tougher and tougher puzzles. You, once again, also have to deal with the venom-spewing and ill-meaning AI administrator GLaDOS who, as you might have guessed, isn’t happy to see that you’re still alive. A new addition to Portal 2 is a cooperative mode that allows you and a friend to take on the roles of robots known as Atlas and P-Body. The objective, as with the singleplayer campaign, is to complete each test chamber but here, the chambers require you to work in unison with your friend. While initially quite easy to move from chamber to chamber, the puzzles grow in complexity fairly quickly and will eventually demand some serious thinking to get past. There’s a fair bit of humor packed into the cooperative mode too. Within the chambers there are plenty of laughs from just watching your partner struggle and fail from time-to-time (watching your buddy crash into a ceiling is hilarious). Between chambers

the insane GlaDOS weighs in with humorous comments in an effort to drive a wedge between Atlas and P-Body, in an effort to stop them from advancing further. The cooperative campaign itself is quite long and because of the complexity of the latter chambers, you could easily spend over eight hours attempting to complete this game mode. Visually Portal 2 packs decent punch but compared to FPS titles on the market, it isn’t particularly mindblowing. That said the special effects, character animation and brilliant level design make Portal 2 a decent visual trip. On the audio front there’s nothing to complain about either; the voice acting and writing are top notch, the sound effects appropriate and the music, as before, is original and fits the nature of the game perfectly.

Portal 2 has a bit of a learning curve but if you’re able to persevere, the rewards are well worth the effort you put in

Portal 2 includes full-fledged cooperative play and like the single-player component, it’s mind bending and thoroughly addictive


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SOCOM: Special Forces

GAME ON 57

PS3

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Price: $79 Controller: PS3 Controller or Move Best Bit: The cooperative mode is challenging and thus quite fun when you’re playing with a skilled player. Verdict: While Special Forces has a few issues that get in the way at times it’s a solid third person shooter that offers consistent entertainment.

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just a little bit annoying at times. During play we experienced a few situations where despite hitting the correct button to duck behind cover, the game seemingly didn’t register it. Annoyingly this seemed to happen whenever we were trying to sneak into position to mount an attack on an enemy position. Likewise, even when issuing cover commands to our squad mates we noticed that on a few occasions they got behind cover but on the wrong side of the object, which once again destroyed our stealth operation. One of the major features this game offers is a cooperative story mode, which allows other players to replace the AI Special Ops team. This mode is perhaps one of the game’s biggest draws as playing on a high difficulty setting with a skilled companion proved an edgy and engrossing experience. That said, crushing lag did ruin the fun from time-to-time. SOCOM also offers three different modes of online multiplayer; Standard,

SOCOM: Special Forces’ story mode is packed with unrelenting action. The only time you’ll get to take a breath is when you’re watching a cutscene

Classic and Custom. Each mode changes the rules of the game slightly so whereas Standard, for example, will allow you to respawn when you've been killed, the Classic mode doesn't allow this at all. There are other subtle differences but because we were unable to play each mode for the same amount of time, owing to the PSN network outage, we can't categorically say which mode we preferred best. Visually Special Forces is quite solid, the game’s environments and the objects within them pack a decent amount of detail and look realistic. The only slight issue is that animation relating to a character’s facial movement is a little stiff and unrealistic. On the audio front Special Forces is quite strong, the impressive orchestral soundtrack completely immerses you in the ongoing action, while the special effects such as weapons fire, explosions and voice acting are convincing and create a proper sense of realism.

The game’s cover system can be a source of frustration sometimes as the game doesn’t always immediately register when you’ve hit the button to duck behind an object

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OCOM: Special Forces is the latest game in the SOCOM series and this game, like its predecessors, is exclusive to the PlayStation gaming platform. Special Forces is also the first game in the series to be released on the PlayStation 3, its predecessors were only ever released for the older PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. Special Forces is set in Malaysia and, as before, offers third-person tactical shooter gameplay. Playing the game we found that it offers considerable action regardless of which difficulty level you choose to play with. Thankfully, the shooting mechanics are fairly solid; enemy soldiers react to where they’ve taken shots in a realistic way so if you shoot someone in the leg, they’ll fall to the ground but won’t necessarily die. Likewise, a headshot will drop a soldier permanently. Firefights then are quite satisfying in this game. The cover system however can be


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WWE All Stars W

GAME ON 59

XBOX

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WE All Stars is the latest wrestling title doing the rounds on the gaming circuit and if you’re after an entertaining romp with a flat learning curve, this just might be the game for you. Whereas games like WWE Smackdown! Vs. Raw are simulations that while unrealistic in their own right aim to provide a degree of realism, WWE All Stars is all about completely over the top entertainment with arcadestyle gameplay. As a result getting into WWE All Stars takes no more than 10 minutes at most. The controls are basic consisting of quick and heavy strikes, blocks and reversals. Getting momentum going then is a simple task that requires you to mash your controller in an attempt to

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string together effective combinations. While blocking is fairly effective at warding off an onslaught, reversals can be tricky to execute as the window of opportunity that you have to work with is very short. Beyond basic attacks your wrestler can also execute insane signature moves and finishers. Executing these potent moves is a simple affair that requires that you just pull back on the left and right trigger. Once you’ve done this your wrestlers actions are highlighted colorfully and while time initially slows down, the game will eventually move back to realtime as your wrestler progresses through the move. The final impact is demarked by a loud crash with waves of energy radiating outwards from where your

Signature moves and finishers are explosive and utterly devastating. Thanks to the simple controls they’re easy to pull off too

All Stars’ character roster includes current and past wrestlers with each and every one of them looking unbelievably buff

opponent is in the arena. The game packs a healthy roster of existing and older WWE wrestlers so you can play as guys like Randy Orton, Triple H, Rey Mysterio or, if you’re feeling nostalgic, call upon legends like Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and many more. While the wrestlers look like their realworld counterparts - as far as their faces are concerned - each and every one of them sports an action-figure-style body with impossibly huge muscles. WWE All Stars offers a fair number of game modes and while it’s shallow compared to what Smackdown! Vs. Raw offers these days, the simple, arcade-style gameplay will keep you coming back for more especially if you end up playing with your friends. Our only problem with this title is that it has incredibly long load times that pop up frequently. When we wanted to have a rematch for example, the game took 20 seconds to get us back to the action. The load times when you first want to start a new match are even longer unfortunately (over 25 seconds). This is not a game then for those who are short on patience.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Pri Price: $79 CController: t Xbox 360 controller Best Bit: Signature moves and finishers are insane. They’ll put a smile on your face every time. Verdict: While All Stars doesn’t fire on all cylinders you can still have a lot of fun with it owing to its arcade-style gameplay.


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60 REGULARS

Competitions

COMPETITIONS… As always the Windows team has worked to ensure you have the chance to win some killer, high-tech kit. For your chance to win, just follow the instructions below...

T BRILLIAN D BOAR

MAGNIFICENT MOTHERBOARD

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

GIGABYTE Z68X-UD7-B3 Gigabyte has produced some truly exceptional motherboards in the past. Long time readers will recall that we used the truly awesome GA-X58A-UD9 to build Dream Machine 2010. It goes without saying then that we’re big fans of their motherboard offerings and every time we receive a new board from them, we can’t wait to test it. This month we’ve partnered with our friends at Gigabyte to bring you a truly stunning competition. The Gigabyte Z68XUD7-B3 board reviewed on page 30 of this issue is one of Gigabyte’s newest motherboards and it’s a beast. The board features an ATX formfactor and every inch of the available printed circuit board (PCB) has been used to cram in as many features as possible. This Gigabyte board features Intel’s Z68 core-logic chipset, which is very similar to the older H67 architecturally. This means you can use the onboard GPU found on so-equipped Sandy Bridge processors. However, whereas the H67 was overclocking restricted and only allowed you to adjust the frequency of the GPU, the Z68 allows you to overclock your processor and memory, in addition to the integrated GPU. Beyond the chipset, the Z68X-UD7-B3 also features fully-fledged multi-GPU support, 6Gbps Serial ATA support, USB3.0 ports, eSATA and an impressive overclocking-friendly BIOS. Gigabyte has also fitted a substantial heatpipe cooling system to the board’s critical components, so you have the best chances of achieving a stable and substantial overclock. A truly epic board. For a chance to win this magnificent creation simply point your browser to www.itp.net/competitions and answer this very simple question: What chipset does the Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 feature?

a) Intel P67 b) Intel Z68 c) AMD M1


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Buying tips

REGULARS 61

BUYING TIPS MOTHERBOARD If you’re building a new PC or you’re ou’re just upgrading your existing rig, you should first decide on what processor you’re ou’re going with. AMD and Intel use entirely different CPU socket types and within ithin each company’s processor ranks, there are different sockets for different chips. If you want a ‘Bloomfield’ Core i7 975 Extreme Edition processor, you’ll need a motherboard with a LGA 1366 CPU socket. On the other hand if you want a ‘Lynnfield’ Core i7 processor, you’ll need a LGA 1156 board. If however you want to build a rig around Intel’s newly released Sandy Bridge processors, you’ll need an even newer LGA 1155 motherboard. On the flip side, with AMD, you’ll need a Socket AM3 motherboard if you’re going to buy a Phenom II processor. So, once you know what processor you want, you should then consider your motherboard options and buy accordingly.

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6Gbps Serial ATA and USB3.0 support are two features that you should make sure any new motherboard you buy offers. While the former isn’t an important factor unless you’re putting together a multi-drive RAID array, the latter will ensure you get maximum transfer performance from any USB3.0 compliant devices (such as flash drives or external hard drives).

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If you're upgrading your existing machine and you’re going to reuse your old chassis, pay attention to what formfactor your new motherboard choice is built around. Some modern boards are built around larger extended-ATX formfactors and these boards just won’t physically fit in an older ATX casing.

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WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

Before you buy a motherboard you should consider what sort of machine you’re going to build. Think whether you’re machine’s primary purpose will be application- or gaming-based or if you just want a basic rig for light everyday use such as web browsing and word processing. Depending on this you can then look for a motherboard with the right features for your build. If you want to build a machine for light everyday use for instance you can opt for a board that either has an integrated GPU as part of its chipset or go for a motherboard that will allow you to use the GPU found on certain CPUs.

If you’re planning to build a high-end gaming rig consider a motherboard thatt offers multi-GPU capabilities. Boards with support for AMD’s CrossFire X or nVidia’s Vidia’s SLI will allow you to run two or more GPUs in sync to deliver better framerates when you’re playing games at high resolutions and with all the details set to maximum.


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62 REGULARS

CD contents

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

OUR PICK OF WINDOWS CD

CHROME 11

ZA SOCIAL GUARD

MAGIX MP3 DELUXE

This latest version of Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s browser has polished its getup and feels smoother and quicker than before. Its page rendering abilities are top notch and Google has thrown in new extras as well. It has sync and autofill features as well as compliance with HTML 5. The browser still maintains its minimalistic design that allows the user to use more of his or her screen to view the actual webpage.

Zone Alarm SocialGuard aims to protect kids that browse the web. It addresses parental concerns about their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s social networking activities and makes sessions safer whilst encouraging communication between children and parents. Social Guard has a solid collection of tools and tricks to show parents how kids use Facebook, which makes it an important tool for parents with digital kids.

This app allows you to organise songs, edit ID3 tags, convert songs from different formats and listen to your music collection effortlessly. The program also has a music browser that searches for songs online and allows you to listen to Web radio stations. With support for WAV, MP3, OGG and other popular music file formats, you have everything you need in one place with this great audio application.

TOTAL RECALL DATA RECOVERY Total Recall is one of those programs that can be recommended to any level of computer user looking to recover lost or erased data. The interface is welcoming and simple to use; just select the type of problem you have and source of the data you wish to retrieve. The app will then guide you through a few questions and then all you have to do is sit back and let it work.


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REGULARS 63

CD contents

TO PI P CK

HOW TO USE THE CD BROWSER Place your CD in your PC’s CD-ROM drive. If you have disabled autoplay, double-click ‘CDBrowser’ on the CD instead. When CD Browser starts, six buttons will appear listing software categories. Click a category and the software titles will appear in the left window. Simply choose which title you wish to view and click its name. Program details will appear along with three buttons: Install runs the installation program, Website takes you to the vendor’s site, and Screen displays a larger image of the software in action. In the middle of the window is also an option to change the CD browser’s skin.

CD 171: AWESOME SOFTWARE FREEDOM FIGHTERS DEMO Freedom Fighters takes place in an alternate history where the Soviet Union put an end to World War II by dropping the first atomic bomb on Berlin. In this reality the Soviet Union becomes a world superpower and after dominating all of Europe it begins assaulting the United States, starting with New York City. Playing as protagonist Christopher Stone, a plumber turned American resistance movement leader, it's your job to send the Soviets packing. The game offers thirdperson shooter gameplay and because you can't exactly boot the Soviets out all on your own, you're able to recruit other like-minded soldiers to join your cause. However, you'll only be able to recruit other troops if you have enough charisma, which you gain by doing heroic deeds.

INTERNET

ESSENTIAL FILES

CHROME 11 ZONE ALARM SOCIAL GUARD CHRYSANTH WEBSTORY

ATI RADEON HD 6XXX SERIES DRIVERS (WINDOWS 7 32-BIT) NVIDIA GEFORCE 500 SERIES DRIVERS (WINDOWS 7 32-BIT) JAVA RUNTIME MS ACTIVESYNC 4.5

MULTIMEDIA MAGIX MP3 DELUXE THE PC JUKEBOX

UTILITIES CPU SPEED PROFESSIONAL TOTAL RECALL DATA RECOVERY

PRODUCTIVITY HOLD EVERY MIND SUNBIRD

GAMES FREEDOM FIGHTERS DEMO WWE RAW

INTERNET Chrome 11 Zone Alarm Social Guard Chrysanth Webstory

MULTIMEDIA MAGIX MP3 Deluxe The PC Jukebox

UTILITIES

CPU Speed Professional Total Recall Data Recovery

PRODUCTIVITY Hold Every Mind Sunbird

GAMES

Freedom Fighters Demo WWE RAW

ES ESSENTIAL FILdriver s

Mozilla Sunbird is a redesign of Mozilla’s previous calendar and is a perfect complement to Firefox and Thunerbird. Users that are pro Mozilla will find that it easily integrates with the browser and e-mail client and all three share the same base code. This version has spanning days with a visual indicator, and the day, week, month calendars have been redesigned and look much nicer too. It also has support for drag and drop events which makes duplicating simple and less time consuming. Sunbird is a program that still lacks the finesse of good calendar clients but it will surely satisfy a bunch of users that have limited planning requirements. Best of all its free and the Mozilla community is quite active at updating its creations.

files, MAGIX convert and organise music iPod, pristine shape. It can play, also allows you to link an s or music. The program music from or to media and play or record show import or export digital and player MP3 to download or mobile phone ated web music browser integr an has e edit Delux players. MAGIX MP3 create new playlists and ng you to automatically e, and with MAGIX MP3 Delux songs from websites allowi ence. Organisation is key in no time. tion collec your song titles to suit your prefer ing see you building and arrang convert them into high quality its friendly interface will all your CDs and from music rip ts. also The program can other popular file forma as MP3, WAV, OGG and digital music formats such www.itp.net

ation June 2011 An ITP Technology Public

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Windows Middle East free CD, which contains programs and applications, is provided as a free service to readers of Windows Middle East magazine for personal use. You may not rent, lease, assign, re-sell or otherwise transfer the rights to anyone for any product contained on this CD. The contents of the CD-ROM are provided as is, and although every effort has been taken to ensure the disk and contents are virus and defect free, Windows Middle East, nor The Information & Technology Publishing Co. Ltd., accept liability for any loss or damage resulting from the use of this CD-ROM or the programs on it. We recommend that you make a back-up of all your data before installing any of the software on this CD. Windows Magazine does not provide technical support for this CD-ROM or the programs on it. If your CD-ROM is physically defective, please return it to Reader Services, P.O. Box. 500024, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, so we may issue a replacement.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

MOZILLA SUNBIRD

ATI Radeon HD 6xxx series (Windows 7 32-bit) drivers nVidia GeForce 500 series (Windows 7 32-bit) e Java Runtim Microsoft ActiveSync 4.5

LUXE music collection in IX MP3everDE MAG need to get that budding search for web radio MP3 Deluxe is all you will


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Logging off

LOGGINGOFF ROYAL WEDDING BREAKS LIVE STREAM RECORDS Last month’s royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set some incredible records for live streaming for websites that broadcasted the event. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world logged onto sites like YouTube and Livestream, which, for the first time, broadcasted a royal ceremony live on the web. Livestream reported that it had 330,000 concurrent viewers at one point, and a spokesman for the company said, "We are expecting the final analytics to show at least two million unique viewers throughout the service on livestream.com for the full ceremony." Akami, another major traffic carrier said it was handling nearly three million viewers which broke the record of 1.6-million for last year’s World Cup. Even the BBC was struggling with the massive traffic that hit the site, and at times showed error messages during the live broadcast. Twitter says that nine of the top 10 trending topics on the site were related to the royal wedding, and included hashtags like #RoyalWedding and #proudtobebritish along with the words "They kissed.” Google recorded two of the most popular searches as being “Royal wedding coverage" and "Kate Middleton wedding dress." The search engine also dedicated a ‘doodle’ to the royal wedding, featuring the royal couple riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST JUNE 2011

PEPSI ANNOUNCES SOCIAL VENDING MACHINE Pepsi announced that it will soon release a brand new vending machine that will use a full touch screen for beverage selection and can accept cash or credit. The new machines have another interesting feature however; they allow consumers to send other people Pepsi in buildings where Pepsi vending machines are installed, as well as choose to enter a recepient’s name, phone number and details so that the vending machine can send them an SMS with a location where the Pepsi can be redeemed. A personalised message or video can also be recorded and sent along with the Pepsi as well. Users of the vending machine can also use it to send Pepsis to strangers through the "Random Acts of Refreshment" option. This will let the user send a Pepsi product to any social vending machine. "Our vision is to use innovative technology to empower consumers and create new ways for them to engage with our brands, their social networks and each other at the point of purchase," said Mikel Durham, Chief Innovative Officer at PepsiCo Foodservice. Durham also said, "Social vending extends our consumers' social networks beyond the confines of their own devices and transforms a static, transaction-oriented experience into something fun and exciting they'll want to return to again and again."

GAMERS’ INFORMATION FOR SALE AS A RESULT OF PSN BREACH When the PlayStation Network got hacked Sony said it could not rule out the possibility that user credit card numbers could have been leaked. PSN has close to 77 million members and no clear indication has been given as to how many users have stored their credit card details on Sony’s servers. This created an uproar amongst PSN gamers who couldn’t believe that Sony’s security was so poor that it got breached, and even though Sony said the information was encrypted, it seemed someone was able to decrypt it too. Kevin Stevens, a security researcher, witnessed hackers discussing the database. He tweeted, ‘Supposedly the hackers selling the DB says it has: fname, lnam, address, zip, country, phone, email, password, dob, ccnum, CVV2, exp date,’ he also added ‘it is not a rumor, it was a conversation on a forum’. Known hardware jail-breaker George “GeoHot” Hotz commented on these reports by writing “I sure am glad I don’t have a PSN account about now”.


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Windows Middle East - June2011  

Windows Middle East - June 2011 - ITP Technology

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