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BUILD A

ZX81 FROM SCRATCH H

THE BEST-SELLING MAG FOR PC HARDWARE, OVERCLOCKING, GAMING & MODDING

HOW TO

BUILD BUILD A TINY POWER PC


Mini cases and ini motherboards reviewed Full expert building guide

STEPBY-STEP GUIDE

310mm

HOW TO PAINT YOUR CASE 340mm TERMINATOR SCIENCE PROGRAMMABLE MATTER


REVEALED: WHY ARM BEATS X86 ON MOBILES
ISSUE 109

PLUS

m 250m

OCT 2012

4.50

Our best selling gaming PC evolved Better Graphics - Bigger Hard Drive - Better Deal!
AMD FX-4100 3.6GHz Quad Core Processor 8GB 1333Mhz DDR3 Memory AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB Graphics Card Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2 Motherboard 1TB SATA-III Hard Disk Drive DVD+/- RW Writer Drive Built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n Adapter
CCL Code - CCL-EL-HWK2

www.cclonline.com

P r i c e s c o r r e c t a t t i m e o f g o i n g t o p u b l i s hi n g ( 3 t h J u l y 2 0 1 2 ) . Images are for illustrative purposes only M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l es a r e a v a i l a bl e s e p a r a t e l y. WorldMags.net

EE Y FR ER LIV DE

Welcome to Issue 109


EDITOR BenHardwidge editor@custompc.co.uk TECHNICALEDITOR HarryButler GAMESEDITOR JoeMartin ARTEDITOR BillBagnall PRODUCTIONEDITOR JulieBirrell CONTRIBUTORS AntonyLeather, CliffHarris, GarethHalfacree,JamesGorbold, JimKillock,LucySherriff, PaulGoodhead,RickLane, SimonTreadaway,TracyKing PHOTOGRAPHY AntonyLeather,DannyBird,Gareth Halfacree GROUPADVERTISINGMANAGER BenTopp +44(0)2079076625 ben_topp@dennis.co.uk ACCOUNTMANAGER AdamMcDonnell +44(0)2079076620 adam_mcdonnell@dennis.co.uk SALESEXECUTIVE FinanTesfay +44(0)2079076898 finan_tesfay@dennis.co.uk USADVERTISINGDIRECTOR MatthewSullivan-Pond +16467179555 matthew_sullivan@dennis.co.uk

Editorial

Publishing & Marketing


GROUPPUBLISHER PaulRayner paul_rayner@dennis.co.uk MARKETINGEDITORIALEXECUTIVE PaulGoodhead paul_goodhead@dennis.co.uk LICENSINGMANAGER CarlottaSerantoni Carlotta_Serantoni@dennis.co.uk +44(0)2079076550 LICENSINGANDSYNDICATIONASSISTANT NicoleAdams Nicole_Adams@dennis.co.uk +44(0)2079076134 SYNDICATIONSENIORMANAGER AnjumDosaj +44(0)2079076132

Dennis Publishing Limited


Tel:02079076000fax02079076193 DIRECTOROFADVERTISING JulianLloydEvans MANAGINGDIRECTOR DENNISTECHNOLOGY JohnGarewal CEO IanWestwood NEWSTRADEDIRECTOR DavidBarker FINANCEDIRECTOR BrettReynolds GROUPFINANCEDIRECTOR IanLeggett CHIEFEXECUTIVE JamesTye CHAIRMAN FelixDennis SUBSCRIPTIONS Youcanmanageyourexistingsubscription throughwww.subsinfo.co.ukthisshouldbe yourfirstportofcallifyouhaveanyqueries aboutyoursubscription.Email:custompc@ servicehelpline.co.uk Annualsubs:UK39.99 UKsubs:08448440032 Overseassubs:Europe60, ROW80Overseassubs:+44(0)1795592906 LICENSING,REPRINTS,EPRINTS WrightsMedia 0800-051-8327(TollFree) PrintedbyBGP DistributedbySeymourDistribution Tel:02074294001

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DONT TRY THIS AT HOME

WorldMags.net

October 2012

Welcome to Issue 109

BUILD A MINI POWER PC

You no longer need a big towering monolith on your desk if you want the fastest performance. In fact, a PC thats half the size is quite capable of accommodating the fastest GPU available and an Ivy Bridge CPU overclocked to 4.8GHz. Weve gathered several mini-ITX cases and Z77 motherboards in order to find the ideal combination for an uncompromising mini PC, and we even show you how to build the final rig, complete with a water-cooling loop.

52

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124

102

10 14 18

PERFORMANCEENHANCING DRINKS

Whatstheevidencebehindsomeofthe scientific-soundingclaimsmadebyenergy drinksmanufacturers?

GarethHalfacreeanalyseswhyARM issomuchmorepopularthanx86formobiles.

20 36

ARMVSx86

HAPPYDAYZ

SUPERHIGH-END MOTHERBOARDS

Itsasimplegamecodedbyone man,anditcostsjust6.JoeMartinexplains howagameconstructedfromsimpleblocks andsquarescanstillbeasurprisingly emotionalexperience.

89 96

THOMASWASALONE

JoeMartintalkstoDeanRocket Hall,creatorofArmaIIzombiemodDayZ.

Whatdoyougainfroma300motherboard? HarryButlerlooksatEVGAsZ77FTWand AsusMaximusFormulaVtofindout.

THEENGINEROOMUNITY

PROGRAMMABLEMATTER

Howfarareweawayfromcreating theliquid-metalcyborgfromTerminator2?

Ithasanattractive,understated design,butcantheR4competeelsewhere?

42 FRACTALDESIGNDEFINER4

Thisamazinglyflexiblegameengine alreadyrunsonWindows,MacOS,iOS, Android,andthereareplanstosupportFlash andLinuxtoo.CouldUnityendupbeingthe oneenginetorulethemall?

October 2012

WorldMags.net

124 52 74 108 18 84 20 14 108

1ssue 109
Reviewed this month
Hardware
MOTHERBOARDS 36 EVGA Z77 FTW 36 Asus Maximus Formula V CASES 40 Aerocool Strike-X Air 42 Fractal Design Define R4 MICROCONTROLLER 44 Arduino Leonardo COOLER 46 Arctic Accelero Hybrid
PRODUCTS REVIEWED

22

20

Paintingyourcaseisntassimpleas justsquirtinganaerosolatit.AntonyLeather guidesyouthroughthewholeprocessof priming,painting,sandingandlacquering yourprideandjoy.

108 HOWTOPAINTYOURCASE

8 From the editor 10 Tracy King 12 Digital rights 14 Interview 16 Incoming 18 Science! 20 Mobile tech watch 24 CPC Elite products 48 How we test 82 Grumpy gamer 94 Dev perspective 96 The engine room 124 Retro tech 130 James Gorbold

Regulars

Custom kit 50 Warhammer Invasion 50 Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbuds 50 Stickems 51 Google Nexus 7 Motherboard and case Labs test 54 BitFenix Prodigy 56 Fractal Design Node 304 58 Lian Li PC-TU200 60 SilverStone FT03-Mini 64 ASRock Z77E-ITX 66 P8Z77-I Deluxe 68 Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi Games 84 Spec Ops: The Line 88 Quantum
89 90 93
Conundrum Thomas Was Alone Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Metro: Last Light

BUILDASINCLAIRZX81 124 FROMSCRATCH


NotonlyhasGarethHalfacreebuiltaworking ZX81fromscratch,performingallthe solderinghimself,buthesalsomoddeditso thatithasacompositeTV-outaswell.

Community

102 Readers drives 108 How to paint your case 116 Letters 121 Folder of the month 122 Your folding milestones
WorldMags.net

October 2012

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WorldMags.net

THE RETURN OF THE MINI PC

from the editor

When you can do so much with miniITX, why would most of us need a bigger PC?
natypicalexampleofclichmanglingtomakeapunnyheadline, Issue10smaincoverheadingwasSmallWonders,withaLabs testdedicatedsolelytothebignewtrendindesktopcomputingminibarebonechassis.Somepeoplecalledthemshoeboxes,while thosewhopreferredincomprehensiblemarketingjargoncalledthem smallformfactorPCs.Likeacrossbetweenaminihi-fisystemanda standardPCcase,thesesystems,startingwithShuttlesXPCline-up, enabledyoutobuildapintsizePCwithadecent-specCPUand graphicscard. Welovedthem,buttheyhadtheirissues too.Theyhadproprietarymotherboards andcoolingsystems,soyoucouldnteasily swapthemoutthemotherboard,orputin anotherthird-partycoolereither.Weonce water-cooledaShuttleXPCintheHowTo section,butittookseveralofusalotof effortoverafewdaystomanageit.Wehad mini-ITXbackthen,ofcourse,butmostof thecaseslookedawful,andmostofthe motherboardswerebasedonVIAslow-poweredEPIAplatform,and oftenonlycamewithasinglePCIslot,ratherthananAGPgraphics slot.Issue10turnedouttobeoneofourworst-sellingissuesever,and weneverputthemonthecoveragain. Sowhatschanged?WhyareminiPCssuddenlyonthecoverofCPC again?ShuttlesstillproducingtheXPCrange,ofcourse,butthisyear weveseenasuddenexplosioninthemini-ITXmarket.Suddenly manufacturershaverealisedthatenthusiastssuchasourselvesdont reallywantproprietarymotherboards,limitedPSUsandcaptive coolingsystems.Wewanttobeabletoeasilyaddourowncooling system,putinafull-specgraphicscardandupgradethemotherboard whennecessary.Wewanttooverclock.Webasicallywanteverything

You can now not only build a full-spec mini-ITX Ivy Bridge rig, but also watercool it, overclock it to 4.8GHz and put in a GeForce GTX 680 too

thatafull-specdesktopPCdoes,anduntilsmallerPCscandothat, theresnotreallymuchpointinbuildingone. Thisistheturningpoint.AsourownPC-buildingaficionadoAntony Leathershowsonp74,youcannownotonlybuildafull-specmini-ITX IvyBridgerig,butyoucanalsowater-coolit,overclockittothesame clockfrequencyasafull-sizedATXmachine,andyoucanputina GeForceGTX680too.Basically,youraveragePCenthusiast,gamer andCustomPCreadercannowgeteverythingtheywantinasmall PC,and withoutmakingcompromises. ThebigquestionImaskingnowiswhy mostofuswouldeverneedtobuildafullsizedATXPCagain.Unlessyourerunning multiplegraphicscards,orstillusea dedicatedsoundcardorTVcard,theres basicallynopoint.Iforonewelcomeour newshoebox-sizedoverlords. Inothernews,Idliketothankeveryone whocametotheveryfirstCustomPCand bit-techPubQuiz(seep100)lastmonth ifwedoitagain,IpromiseIllmakemyretrotechroundeasier!! Meanwhile,Idalsoliketoextendabig,warmwelcometomy predecessorintheeditorschair,themightyJamesGorbold,whos nowreturnedtoCustomPCwithanewbackpagecolumn(seep130). JamescurrentlyhelpingScan spec-upits3XSsystems,sohesstill verymuch workingwithPCs,andImverygladtohavehimbackon boardagain. BenHardwidgeistheeditorofCustomPC.HelikesPCs,realale andWarhammer40,000.
EDITOR@CUSTOMPC.CO.UK @MANSHARK

October 2012

WorldMags.net

WorldMags.net

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRINKS


1 2 3

REFERENCES
http://tinyurl.com/ CPCEnergyShot http://tinyurl.com/ CPCEnergyShot2

Can energy drinks really improve gamers concentration and memory?


amingofteninvolveslatehours.Youmayhaveacoffeeor energydrinknexttoyourightnow.Ido.Oryoumayfind caffeinemakesyoujitteryandinterfereswithyourgaming,so youavoidit.Itwasntgoingtobelongbeforemanufacturerscaughton toouroftennocturnallifestyleandtargeteduswithaspecificsolution. ThefolkatGungHo,makerofanewenergyshot,claimtohave solvedourall-nightsessionneedswithonehandysachet,illustrating theirwebsitewithapicofagamecontroller.Over50percentof gamersarenotsatisfiedwithcurrentenergyshotsanddrinks,claims anarticle1 onPRWeb,whichactuallyreferstoresearchfundedby GungHoitself.ThisisfollowedbyaquotefromDrDanMowrey,who InoteattainedhisPhDinexperimental psychology(notneuroscience),andwhoin 2005,waschargedbytheFTC2 withfalsely claimingtobeamedicaldoctor.DrMowrey says,Mostenergyshotsordrinksfailatboth endsofyourexperience.Theinitialrush andjittersoftendisruptmentalfocusand physicalperformancetheresultofcritical compositionalimbalancesthatprovokethe customarycrash. Asisoftenthecase,itsbesttobeguidedby scientificconsensusratherthanadefinitethatsthat,despitewhatDr Mowreysays.Somestudiesshowcaffeineimprovesmemory,others showitimpairsit.Someofthesestudiesareflawed,somearerobust. Thecurrentconsensusisthatalotofcaffeineimpairsthecapacityof short-termandworkingmemory,andthatsagoodenoughreasonto cutdown,particularlyingamingwhereworkingmemoryisvital. Socaffeinemightscrewwithyourworkingmemory.DoesGungHo containcaffeine?Yes!ButIdontknowhowmuch,becausethepage withtheingredients3 doesntsay.WhenIemailedGungHoformore information,thecompanysaid,Anyonecanputadifferentlabelon

http://www.gogungho. com/supplementfacts

The current consensus is that a lot of caffeine impairs the capacity of short-term and working memory

caffeineandsomeB-Vitamins,addadashofTaurineandcallitanew product.Wewantedtoimproveonit.Itthenlinkedmebacktothe sameingredientspage.However,GungHomadeitveryclearthatits flagshipingredientissomethingcalledCognizin. CognizinisthebrandnameofCitocoline.TheFDA(thebody responsibleforapprovingdrugsintheUSA)refusedtoapproveitas amedicine.Itdoesntappeartohaveanysolidevidencebehindit, withstudiesshowingitworksnobetterthan,toquoteProfessor Farnsworth,abigfatplacebo.However,theFDAdoesntregulate food,soitsmarketedasfoodinpackets,suchastheGungHoenergy shot,withoutneedingtoprovideanyproofofefficacy.Youcantbuy GungHointheUK,butyoucanbuyCitocolin. TheGungHowebsiteclaimstheproduct canactuallyincreaseyourcapacitytofocus, storeandmemorizeovertime,whichwould behandyforgamers.Iaskedneuroscientist DrDeanBurnettofCardiffUniversityifthats possible.Hesaid,Imnotsurehowtheyd arguethis.Ifyouperformarepeatedtaskin laboratorysettings,thenyoudgetbetterat recallingit(thatis,storingandmemorising), withorwithouttheproduct.Also,theresno knowncapacityforhumanmemoryasofyet,sohowtheydknow theyreenhancingitisanyonesguess.Thisislargelyscientifically unchartedterritory. Notsuchaflagshipingredientafterall.Thebestwaytoimprove concentrationandperformanceistodrinkwaterandgetplentyof exercise.Flexingmytriggerfingerwillbeagoodstart. GamerandscienceenthusiastTracyKingdissectstheevidence andstatisticsbehindsomeofthepopularmediastories @TKINGDOLL surroundingtechandgaming

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October 2012

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WorldMags.net A=He)-? ?E ;JCZL &b ^)H E'')C )F+A *IKIfK,I.,L PBaa DC!-)A JC)

Jim Killock

The Digital Economy Act: back from the grave


Coming soon prosecutions with only 20 days to appeal, and you might not even be the copyright infringer
nthedyingdaysoftheLabour government,LordMandelson usheredinalawenablingInternet userstobecutoffforreceivingmere allegationsofcopyrightinfringementthe DigitalEconomyAct(DEAct).Inaforetaste ofthelaterprotestsagainstSOPA,PIPA andACTA,thisoffensivepieceoflegislation becamethefocusofwidespread protests. Theoutragewasntjustaboutthelawitself: itwasalsoaboutthewayitwasrammed through,withlittledemocraticscrutiny. HowcouldParliamentpushforwardsuch acrudeandill-thoughtoutproposal?Howdid commerciallobbyistsfromtheentertainment industrygainsuchastrangleholdonpolitical power?Theentertainmentindustrieskey lobbygroups,especiallytheInternational FederationofPhonographicIndustries,has beenpushingforthreestrikeslegislation aroundtheglobeformanyyears.These pusheswerepartofabuild-uptolegislation intheUSA,whichculminatedintheSOPA andPIPAproposalsforbroadcontrolsonthe Internetandnewcensorshiptools. Similarlegislationhasbeenproposedina numberofcountriestoo,reachingthestatute booksinNewZealand,FranceandSouth Korea,aswellastheUK.However,many othercountriesrejectedtheidea,including Germany,andattemptstointroduceit throughtheEUalsofailed.Theindustry cantrealisticallyhopetointroducealaw suchasthisintheUSA,soinstead,ithas triedtopersuadeISPstointroduceitthrough contractwithendusers. TheIFPIanditslocalUKbranch,theBPI, arguethattheyneedtobeabletopunishand deterillicitdownloading(onlinecopyright theft).Theysaythatusersmustbedissuaded fromsharingoracquiringfileswithout payment.Theyclaimthatinvestmentwont beforthcomingunlessactionistakento reduceinfringement. TheyalsostatethattheUKdigitalmarket grewbynearly25percentin2011,andthat manydigitalservicesaredeliveringnew andexcitingproductstotheircustomers. AccordingtotheIFPI,peer-to-peer(P2P) infringementisdeclininginFrance,anddigital saleshaveincreasedmorethanexpected. Othersclaimthatthemainimpacton infringementhasbeentoshiftitaround, primarilytostreamingwebsites,whichis hardertodetectrobustly. Workingthroughindustrystatisticsis notoriouslydifficult,butonefactisclear; digitalrevenuesinbothFranceandtheUK rosein2011,whileonlyoneofthesecountries wassendingletterstoallegedinfringers. ThatimpliesthattheDEActmaywellnotbe necessary,butthatdoesntseemtobe worryingthegovernment. Rather,thegovernmentsmainconcern seemstobehonouringthecommitment madetothemusicandfilmindustriesto implementtheAct.Sofar,thathasbeenvery difficult.Internetprotesterswerenttheonly groupthatwasunhappywiththenewAct. ISPs,especiallyBTandTalkTalk,stated thattheydidntwanttoactastheInternet police,administeringroughjusticetotheir customers,whilebearingunwarrantedcosts. ThustheychallengedtheActthrougha JudicialReview(JR),whichhelpedtodelay

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October 2012

WorldMags.net

HOW IT WORKS
DETECTING PEER-TO-PEER

01

Copyrightholdersemployprivate companiestodetectP2Pfilesharing.

thecopyrightgroupstobandtogether forbulkdiscounts. CopyrightownerssupplytheIP 02 addressandtimestampofthe allegedinfringers.ISPsmatchthese againsttheirrecordstofindoutwhose accountwasused.Thisdoesntidentify anactualinfringer,ofcoursejustthe accountholder.

all,anyothergrounds,hasbeenremoved, limitingdiscretionoftheappealsbody. Theappealswillcostaround400 06 eachtoadminister.Thecostisborne bythecopyrightholders. Ifthreewarningsfromthesame 07 copyrightholderhavebeenlodged, theaccountisthenplacedonarepeat infringerslist,towhichcopyrightholders canclaimaccessinordertoprosecute accountholders.

Theprivatecompaniesdownloada copyofasharedfile.Theyverifyifits acopyofaworkwhosecopyrightisheldby theiremployer.

02

03 Thecopyrightownerslurkonthe P2Pnetwork,andaskforpartsofthe
filefromotherusers.Theytakepartsofthe copyrightfilefromotherusers,verifythat itmatches,andrecordtheIPaddressand time.Thisshouldshowthatafileisbeing activelysharedbysomeonewhocouldbe anyoneatthatIPaddress.

03 Onceanotificationislodgedagainst anaccount,awarningletterissent
bypost.Warningsaresentatintervalsofat leastonemonth. Eachwarningletterallowsthe 04 accountownertoappealagainstthe infringementnotifications. Thereareonly20daystoseekadvice, 05 preparedocumentsandfilean appeal.Theappealcosts20,whichis refundableifitswon.Thegroundsof appealhavebeennarrowed,andthecatch-

08 Thereisanexemptionfor commercialWiFioperatorssuch
asTheCloud,butnotforsmallbusinesses orlibrarieswiththeirownWiFinetwork forcustomers.

THE INITIAL OBL IGATIONS CODE


Copyrightownerswillguaranteeto sendacertainnumberofletters: theyreceivebigvolumediscounts,soit willmakesensetosendalot.Theyllpay 75percentofthetotalcosts,andthesum isnon-refundable.Thisalsoencourages

01

THE FUTURE DISCONNECTIONS?


IfOfcomdoesntreportasignificantdropin infringement,thegovernmentcanaddnew obligationstodisconnectaccountsfora periodoftime,orlimitaccessinotherways.

implementationforabouttwoyears, althoughthepoordraftingoftheActhas alsocontributedtothedelay.TheActis implementedthroughHenryVIIIclauses sweepingpowerstodraftsecondary legislation(StatutoryInstruments,orSIs), whichwouldnormallyreceiveonlyminimal scrutinyinParliament. DraftingerrorsmeantthattheoriginalSIs hadtoberesubmitted,andnowthatthereal SIsaregoingtobesubmittedforwhatthe governmenthopesisafinaltime,problems arecontinuingtoemerge.Parliamentary scrutinycommitteesareaskingquestions extremelyunusualforthistypeoflegislation, whichismeanttobeusedforunimportant administrativeactions.Unfortunately,for thehundredsofthousandsoffamiliesand businessesthatwillreceiveletters,theInitial ObligationsCode,CostsordersandAppeals wontbeunimportant.Theycouldwellbe disturbingandrequireswiftaction.

Thecopyrightlobbyistshavepushedhard tomakesurefewpeopleappeal,claimingthat peoplemaycampaigntostoptheCodefrom workingbybombardingitwithappeals.Asa result,only20daysisbeinggiventoappeal, whichwillbechallengingformanypeople, whowontunderstandwhatitallmeans. Thecopyrightownershaveasignificant financialinterestinlimitingthenumbersof appeals,astheyllbepayingaround400to administrateeachone.Thisillustratesthe inadequacyofsemi-privatisedjudicial processesinthiscase.Accesstojustice shouldntbelimitedbyfinances. TheprocesswillalsothreatenopenWiFi. AlthoughcommercialWiFiisexempted, hotels,barsandcafesarestillatriskifthey sharetheirnormalISPconnectionwith customers.Librariesarealsocampaigning strongly,buttheyvebeengivenlittlecomfort. Thiswillnowtakeyearstogetinto operation.Meanwhile,musicandfilm

revenueskeepincreasing,butwillthe pressuretolimitandcontroltheInternet reduce?Lobbyistandgovernmentsstillwant theInternettobemorelikecableTV,often willingtopushinappropriaterestrictionsthat damageastrongandgrowingpartofthe economy.Thesepusheshavecreated backlashesintheSOPA,PIPAandACTA debates,showingthatwecanwin.Bythetime theDigitalEconomyActisinoperation,itwill seemlikeapolicyfromanother,longgone era.TheDEActisstillamess.

isexecutivedirectorof campaignorganisation TheOpenRightsGroup (www.openrightsgroup.org) @jimkillock

JIM KILLOCK

WorldMags.net

October 2012

13

Joe Martin

HappyDayZ
CPC:HowdidtheideaforDayZ originate,andareyoucloseto completingthatinitialvision? Dean:Thebasicgenesisofthe ideacamewhileIwasinthearmy,afterId completedmysurvivaltrainingwiththe SingaporeArmedForcesinBrunei.Idbeen developingmyownthoughtsforhowtomake gamesand,whiletheresstillalargechunk missing,werecomingclosetothat. Thebiggestinspirationwasprobablythe bookTheRoadbyCormacMcCarthy,and alsomyownexperiencesinJungleSurvival training.Ifindemotionalresponsesfrom entertainmentmediumsreallycompelling, andIthinkmoviesandbookshavemanaged thisforsometime.However,itseemedto methatmainstreamgameshadbeenstuck dealingwithexcitementforfartoolong withsomenotableexceptions,ofcourse. Thestuffthatsmissingismainlyrelatedto groupplayfeatures,andwhathappens once youvemanagedtosurvivewhenyouneed tostartthriving. CPC:Wereyouinspiredbyspecificzombie booksorfilms? Dean:Ivereadaconsiderableamountof zombiefiction,butItrytostayawaynow fromcallingthecreaturesinDayZzombies, sincemanypeoplearefrustratedtheydont sticktozombiecanon.Itrytocallthem

Arma II zombie mod DayZ has become a hit with survivalists. We talk to the mods creator Dean Rocket Hall about Arma III and what comes next

InDayZ,everyshotfeelsdramatic

infectedsothatpeoplerealisethisisan attempttotakeanewlookatthegenre withouttheoldbaggageandrestrictions.I guesstimewilltellifthisisagooddecision! CPC:HasthesuddenpopularityofDayZ causedanyproblemsforyou? Dean:Itschangedalot,andithasntjust affected developmentofthemod,butmy personallifeaswell.Astimehasgoneon, andtheimpactofithasbecomemore significant,itsstartedtohaveahuge impactonmylifesomepositiveand somechallenging.Imjusttryingtomake thebestofthesituationasitis.

CPC:Wheredoyouthinkthatpopularity camefrom?Whydoplayersliketoshare theirsurvivalstoriessomuch? Dean:Thekeywasthat,associalcreatures, welovetellingstories.Sincethedaysof antiquity,Imsurepeoplehavesataround campfiresandtoldstories.Ourgeneration hassocialmedia;thatsourcampfire. CPC:Youvespokenbeforeaboutturning DayZfromamodintoaproperrelease. Howdoyouintendtodothat? Dean:Movingfrommodtogameisadifficult process,andeachopportunityneedstobe carefullyconsidered.Thekeyissettingupthe

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April 2012

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Weregonnaneedabiggergun

DayZisagameof survivalandteamwork

ZOMBIES ENABLE PLAYERS TO EXPLORE SOME OF SOCIETYS KEY FEARS, AND OUR DESIRE TO GO BACK TO BASICS
CPC:YouworkforBohemia asagamedesigner.Did thatinfluenceyourdecision touseArmaIIfortheDayZmod? Dean:Iwascontractedonthedevelopment ofArmaIIIasamultiplayerdesigner,not employedoutright,butthatsanexciting project.Isupposeyoucouldsayitinfluences metoworkwithBohemia,asmyopinion aboutitbeingafantasticstudiowasconfirmed whenIstartedworkthere.Obviously,nothing isperfect,butIidentifiedwiththepassion anddesiretodosomethingdifferentthat permeateseveryaspectofthatstudio. CPC:DidyouevertrytopitchDayZasafull gameatBohemia,ratherthanamod? Dean:IdonlybeenatBohemiaInteractive forabrieftime,andjustasacontractor,so Iwasntreallytheretopitchideas.However, IoutlinedtheworkIdperformedon persistency,andBohemiaInteractiveis committedtolookingforexcitingwaysto developtheseries.Thatswhatssogreat aboutthestudio;ItrulythinkBohemiaisone oftheworldsbestkeptsecrets,andIthink wellbeseeingsomeseriouslyinnovativestuff fromthereinthenextfewyears. YoucanfindoutmoreaboutDayZatwww. dayzmod.com

experimentsothatitcancontinuethenwe canreallygetagoodresult.Also,theproject mustbesustainable.Asitstands,themod hasafinitelifespanbecauseitsgrownsobig sofast.Theadministrationandupkeepisa full-timejobforseveralpeoplewithoutpay. CPC:DayZisnttheonlyzombiegame;the marketissaturatedwiththem.Whyare zombiessopopularatthemoment? Dean:Idontthinkitsasmuchtodowith zombiesaswhattheyrepresentandenable. Theyrepresentaspectsofcommonfearsthat areveryrelevantintodaysworld.Discussing them,andparticularlyusingthemasagame narrative,givesusthefreedomtoexplorethat whatif?scenariooftheworldending. Withoutthezombiesasantagonists, youstruggletofilltheworldwithasmuch meaningfulaction.Zombiesarethemedium thatenablesplayerstoexploresomeof societyskeyfears,andinsomeways,our desiretogobacktobasics.

ThefilmTheRoad,aswell astheoriginalbook,wasa biginspirationforDayZ

WorldMags.net

April 2012

15

NEW HARDWARE

We take a look at the latest newly announced products


Yep,itsnotatypo.Crucialreallyhas launchedanewrangeofSATAIISSDs, forthesimplereasonthatevenSSDs limitedbySATAIIsmaximum bandwidthof3Gb/secarestill massivelyfasterthanharddrives.BasedonaPhisonPS3105controller, and25nmMicronsynchronousMLCNAND,Crucialclaimsthenewv4 drivescanreadatupto230MB/secandwriteatupto190MB/sec.Those figuresarequotedforthe256GBversionthewritespeeddrops dramaticallyto60MB/seconceyougetdowntothe30GBversion.The mostimpressiveaspectaboutthesedrives,however,aretheprices.The v4sareavailablenow,costing31.99(32GB),44.99(64GB),63.99 (128GB)and122.99(256GB),allincVAT.

CRUCIAL LAUNCHES NEW SATA II SSDs

ADATA REVEALS 2,400MHz RAM


MemorymakerADATAhasjustlaunchedanewtop-endlineof 2,400MHzRAM(19.2GB/secbandwidth)asapartofitsXPG Gamingv2.0series.Availableinan8GB(2x4GBdual-channel) kit,ADATAsaysthememorywillrunatlatencytimingsof10-1212-31at1.65V,andthatitalsosupportsIntelsExtremeMemory Profile(XMP)system.Thememoryalsohasaneight-layerPCB containing2ozofcopper,inordertoremoveasmuchheatas possiblefromthechips.Thekitsareavailablenowatselected retailersfor89.99incVAT.

Pi AND ICE CREAM SANDWICH


IfyouvemanagedtogetyourhandsonaRaspberryPi,orare onthewaitinglist,thenyoumaybewonderingwhattodo withit.Wevehadsomeofour ownideas(seeIssue106, p98),includinginstalling Debian,usingitasaNASbox andmakingaminimedia centre,butheresanother ideainstallAndroidon it.RaspberryPihasjust announcedthatsupport forAndroid4.0(IceCream Sandwich)isonitsway,and demonstratedavideoofitin actiononthePi.Hardware-acceleratedgraphicsandvideo havebeenupandrunningsmoothlyforsometime,saysthe company.AudioFlingersupportistheonlymajormissing pieceatthemomentCouldthismeantherespotentialto makeyourowntablet?Wellbewatchingthisspaceintently.

Twisters,yousay?Tornados,partygames,KFCwraps,ChubbyChecker? Nope,140mmisjusttoosmall,althoughwequiteliketheideaofPocket ChubbyChecker.Inthiscase,weretalkingaboutEnermaxsfansbasedon itspatentedtwisterbearing,whichusesamagnetandmetalballtokeep thefanbladesontheshaft.Theballistheonlypointofcontactbetweenthe shaftandtherotor,resultinginaquiet fanwithsmoothoperation.Enermax hasjustupdatedlotsofitsfanline-ups basedonthebearingwith140mm modelsidealforpushingoutplenty ofairwithoutmakingtoomuchnoise. Fivenew140mmfanshavebeen introduced,fromthe9.90fixed-speed (750rpm)T.B.Silencetothe13.90 Everest,whichincludesathermal sensor.Thefansareavailableto purchasenow.

140MM TWISTERS

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WorldMags.net

WorldMags.net

Lucy Sherriff

Programmable matter
A
ssociateProfessorSethCopen Goldsteinistechnicallytryingto developprogrammablematter materialthatcanbeprogrammed intodifferentshapes.Butreally,hestrying tosolvesomeofthehardestprogramming challengesfacingthishighlyconnected, highlydistributedworldinwhichwelive. Originally,weweremotivatedbyhowlittle thingshavechangedwithcommunication. Couldwedobetterthanjustreproducinga voice,ortransmittinga2Dimage?Whynot builda3Dmodelofaspeakerandreproduce itattheotherendofacall?This,hestresses, isntcloningorteleporting.Weretalkingon thephonerightnow,butitisntmysound wavesyourehearing.Theyhaventbeen teleportedtoyourear.Thosesoundwaves havebeenreproduced.Weretalkingabout doingthesamewithaphysicalform. Thisisntlike3Dprinting,whereyouprint outanobject,butitdoesntchange.Youcan printahammer,butitwontturnintoasaw.It isntdynamicphysicalrendering,something capableofbeingmorethanoneuseable object.Hestalkingaboutobjectsmadefrom claytronicatoms,orcatomsforshort.These willbetinysiliconspheres,eventually,that self-organiseintoprettymuchanydesired shape.Theyllalsobeabletochangecolour andformondemand. Letsstartwiththehardware.Goldsteins PhDstudent,MustafaEmreKaragozler,has demonstratedcatomsthatwillsticktoone another,communicatewithoneanother andtransferpowerbetweenthemselves. Locomotionisthenextstep.Wereworking onhowtheylatchandunlatch,Goldsteinsays. Currently,acatomiscomposedoftwolayers asiliconshelloveranaluminiumchip.The shellismadewithphotolithographyonaflat thinfilm.Whenreleasedfromthewafer,the filmsspringnaturallyintotheirtubularshape.

Using materials that can be programmed into different shapes, could we actually create the liquid metal cyborg from Terminator 2?
Hey,Mrliquidmetalterminator, arent you a sight for sore eyes? arentyouasightforsoreeyes?

ProfessorDanielaRusteamatMITisalready printingoutworkingrobotsandtoolswithembedded electronics. PhotoByJasonDorfman,CSAIL/MIT

Thedecisiontomakethecatomsoutoftwo partsispurelyeconomical.Atthemoment, werenotmakingtheelectronicsonthesame substrateastheshell,saysGoldstein.Its simplytooexpensivetomakethemallon onesurfacewedhavetoprintentirewafers atatime,andthatsprohibitive.Amore fundamentalissueishowweregoingtodeal withenvironmentalcontaminants.Were stickingthesethingstogetherwithstatic electricity.Thatmakesthemdustmagnets. Theyneedtobeself-cleaning. Thegoalistomakethemsmaller.Although sub-millimetreisgoodenoughfortheforces involvedatthisstage,eventuallyProfessor Goldsteinwantscatomstobesphericaland measurearound300micronsacross.This wouldmakethemlessstableforstacking,but givesthemgreatersurfaceareas,andthus roomformoreelectronics,foragivenvolume. Soarewetalkingaboutsomethingalittle likeTerminator2sliquid-metalmimentic polyalloy?Onethatcantformcomplex movingparts,butmightjustbeabletomake

knives and stabbing knivesandstabbing weapons? Well, sort of, but weapons?Well,sortof,but not quite. For a start, its notquite.Forastart,its going to be really expensive. goingtobereallyexpensive. Even some way down the Evensomewaydownthe line, Professor Goldstein line,ProfessorGoldstein says, it will cost a substantial says,itwillcostasubstantial sum.Weclearlywontbetalkingfull-sized humanreplicasforsometime. However,thatdoesntmeantherearent immediatelyobviousapplicationsfor smallerquantitiesofit.Forexample,space explorationmissions,wherepayloadmass isofcriticalimportance(andvastexpense) aclaytronichammer/spanner/whatever youneedwouldmakealotofsense.When spaceisthatconstrained,whysendmultiple instrumentswhenyoucansendalumpof catomsthancanbeallofthem? ProfessorGoldsteinalsosuggestsitcould havemedicalapplications.Itcouldpotentially formthesurgeonstoolsinsidethebody, performtheoperationandthencomeback outthroughthehypodermicneedle.Itwould makeminoroperationsmuchsimpler,and wouldremovetheneedforsterilerooms.Ican reallyseethishappeninginthenearterm. Thisisstillsomewayoff.Plus,whilethe loftyresearchgoalssoundcool,Goldstein saystheresearchismostlymotivatedbya softwareproblem.Wehavealotofsoftware inourlives,evenwhenwedontrealiseit.If wecansolvetheproblemofcontrollingthe catoms,wecanimpactdirectlyonagreat numberofreal-worldsoftwareproblems. Wehavealotofhighlydistributedsystems. Ifsomethingbadhappensatapowerplant, forexample,youwantthesystemtoknow aboutitandautomaticallycompensate;air trafficcontrolisanothergloballydistributed

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Centimetre-scaleclaytronicscatom prototypessticktooneanother,andmove aroundeachotherviaelectromagnets. Itshopedthatfuturecatomswill measurejust300micronsacross

system;theInternet.Butthesoftwareforall isfullofwonderfulchallengesand origamirobotsself-assemblingmachines theseisbrittleitreliesoneachnodehaving discoveries.AsRussays,itsaninteresting thatbuildthemselvesfromaflatsheet. itsownaddress. scientificquestionthathasthepotentialto Backin2010,thisworkhadprogressedas Claytronicswontworklikethat.Each revealnewinsightsaboutautonomy. farasbeingabletostartflatandmakepaper catomwillhavenoconceptofitslocation Theapplicationpotentialisgreatan boatsandairplanes.Nottobesniffedat,for withinastructure.Instead,Goldsteins objectthatcanself-assemblebyfoldingcan sure,butitsnowmovedon.ProfessorRus teamistakinganembryogenicapproachto beshippedflatinacompactwayand,on explainsthatinsteadofdesigningonesheet controllingthesystem,modellingitswork arrivalatitsdestination,itcantakethe3D ofmaterialthatwillbeabletoachieveany onthemostmassivelydistributed,complex, shapeitneedstodeliverthedesiredfunction. shapewewant,muchlikeanorigamisheet, self-organisingsystemimaginable:DNA. Currentprintingtechnologyisunableto wewouldliketostartwiththedesired Howdogenesproduceanimals?heasks. produceobjectswithembeddedsensing, shapeandfunction.Forexample,youcould Howdoesthatcellknowitneedstobea actuators,computationandcommunication, havearobotthatcancrawlthroughrubble, hair,aleaforabranch?Individualcatoms sowehavetodevelopnewprocessesthat andautomaticallydesigntheoptimalsheet needtocooperatewithoutwritten allowustodothis. programmesforeachone. Currently,thefocusisonmakingthe GOLDSTEINS TEAM IS TAKING robotsworktospec,althoughfuture Thechallengehefacesisthesame asthatfacinganyonewritingcodefor AN EMBRYOGENIC APPROACH robotsmightbemoreresponsive. amulti-coremachine:writinga Thistechnologymaybeapplicablefor TO CONTROLLING THE SYSTEM, creatingrobotsthatcanmorphfrom programthattakesadvantageof MODELLING THE WORK ON DNA oneshapeintoanother,butourcurrent theprocessorsabilitytoprocessin parallelwithoutendingupindeadlock, goalistooptimisethedesignand whereeachroutineiswaitingfortheother fabricationofoneshapethatmeetstheusers geometrythatcanself-assembleasadevice tofinish,orlivelock,whereeachroutine high-levelspecs,Russays.Iftherobotis capableofthedesiredhigh-levelfunction. performsitsaction;however,neithermakes designedtowalkthroughrubblethenit ThesheetsaremadefromPEEK(Polyether progressbecausetheybothhavetoconstantly shouldwalkthroughrubble;ifithastoplay etherketone)arobustbiomaterialusedin changeasaresultoftheothersaction. withyourcat,itshouldplaywithyourcat. medicalimplants,compressorplatevalves This,forGoldstein,isthemotivating Andifitsdesignedtotravelintothepastto andcableinsulation,amongmanyother example:beingabletowriteconcurrent,faulteliminatetheconsequencesoftimetravel applications.Wealsoembedtheelectronics tolerantsystemswithbillionsofcomponents. paradoxes?Wellhavetowaitandsee. inthismaterial,Rusnotes.AlthoughPEEK Beingabletoprovethatyourprogramisfree isrobust,itdoeshaveafailurepoint,andthis oftheseissuesistheholygrailofthiskindof limitsthekindsoftasksanypotentialprinted programming.ThelanguageweuseisMELD, robotmightbeabletoachieve.Beyondthat, andwecanprovethatforasystemofmillions thematerialandembeddedelectronics isajournalistwitha ofunits,oursystemisdeadlockandlivelock computation,actuation,sensingandsoon degreeinastrophysics free,Goldsteinsays. dictatetherangeoffunctionsthatcanbe whoknowsallaboutthe Thereareotherkindsofprogrammable deliveredbytheself-foldedobject. latestscientifictech. matter,though,andProfessorDanielaRus LikeProfessorGoldstein,Rusiseagerto atMITisworkingatabiggerscalewithout setherworkinawidercontext.Asmuchas @lucysherriff catoms.Instead,shesdevelopingprintable theresearchgoaliscool,thepathtothatgoal

LUCY SHERRIFF

WorldMags.net

October 2012

19

Gareth Halfacree looks at the latest mobile hardware

ARM chips account for over 95 per cent of the mobile market, but why? Lets analyse the ARM and x86 architectures
ntelistheundisputedleader ofthedesktopandlaptop CPUmarket,withthemost recentfiguresestimating that80.2percentofallprocessor shipmentscomefromthecompany. Intheembeddedandlow-power market,however,itsabitplayer: chipsbasedondesignsfromARM,a Britishcompanybornoutoftheashes ofAcornComputers,accountforthe overwhelmingmajorityofprocessors inthemobilemarket. Intelisntcomfortablewiththis situation,andthecompanyhasmade significantmovesinrecentyearsto ARMsprocessor assaultthemobilemarketfromthe designsare becoming unfamiliarpositionoftheunderdog. increasingly ThedifferencesbetweenARMand complex,whileIntels Intelarefargreaterthanthose Atomgrowssimpler betweenIntelanditsnearestdesktop rival,AMD;theyalsoextendbeyonddifferent designofrivalchipsfromcompaniessuchas businesspracticestotheveryarchitectureon MotorolaandIntel.Despiteindustry-leading whichtheprocessorsarebased.Butwhat innovations,thefirstARMchipswerenta differencedoesitmaketotheconsumer? commercialsuccess;AcornsArchimedes andRiscPCproductlineswouldusethechips, THE ORIGINS OF ARM butonlyDigitalEquipmentCorporation(DEC) ARMHoldings,thecompanyresponsiblefor wouldlicensethetechnology.EvenApple,a thearchitecturethatsprovedsosuccessful partnerintheARMproject,refusedtousethe forlow-powerdevices,wasntalwaysknown chipinitsdesktopcomputers. asARM.Launchedasanin-houseproject tocreateacustomprocessorforBritish microcomputingpioneerAcorn,Acorn RISCMachines(laterrebadgedasAdvanced RISCMachineswhenAcornwasdelisted fromthestockexchangeafterthegreat microcomputercrashof1984)was incorporatedin1990asajointventure betweenAcorn,AppleandVLSITechnology. ARMsprimarydesignpoint,andthefocus forleadengineerSophieWilson, wasto createlow-power,energy-efficientCPUsasa IntelsdecisiontocreateanAtomSoCdesigngivesit majorcompetitiontopitchagainstARMsIP responsetowhatwasseenasthewasteful ARMchipssimplifieddesignand reducedinstructionsetcomputer (RISC)architecturemeantthatthey drewsignificantlylesspowerthan rivalprocessors,however,andas companiesstartedtodeveloppersonal digitalassistants(PDAs),andother precursorstotodaystabletsand smartphones,thechipslooked increasinglytempting.Fastforwardto today,andARMboastsamarketshare insmartphonesandtabletsofover95 percent,whilehavingalmostzero presenceelsewhereexactlythe oppositeofIntel.

ARM vs x86

ARMS ADVANTAGES
However,whatmakesARMsdesigns sopopularforlow-powercomputing? Thecompanycertainlyhasadifferent approachtothemarketfromthatof Intel,wherethelatterproducesitsownchips; ARMproducesnophysicalgoodswhatsoever. Instead,itlicensesitsintellectualproperty(IP) tothirdpartieswhocaneitherstartbuilding ARM-basedprocessorsimmediatelyusing anoff-the-pegdesign,orbuildonARMswork tocreateacustomchip.ARMslicensees includeApple,Marvell,Nvidia,Texas Instruments,andatonepoint,evenIntelitself. Asimpledifferenceintacticscantaccount forARMsstellarsuccess,however.Perhaps thebiggestcontributortoARMsdomination ofthemobilemarketcomesfromthe architectureitself.Basedonareduced instructionset,Wilsonandhiscolleague SteveFurbertriedtoreplicatetheefficiency ofMOSTechnologys6502chip,whichhada morestreamlinedapproachthanthatof complexinstructionsetcomputer(CISC) competitorsusedbyIntel.Inshort,fewer instructionsmeansfewertransistors. WhileIntels80286designpacked134,000

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IntelsnewAtomSoCsareexpectedto gainasmallbutimportantfootholdinthe mobilemarket

THE CURRENT MARKET transistors,thefirstproduction Inteliscageyaboutdetailingthe ARMprocessordesignARM2 numberoftransistorsinitsAtom outperformeditwithjust30,000 Z2460SoC,butweknowithasa transistors. 12x12mmpackage-on-package Fewertransistorsalsomean (PoP)design.ThatprovesIntel acheaper,smallerchip,andthese canshrinkitspartsenoughto arekeyconsiderationsinmobile competewithcompaniessuchas computing.Fewertransistorsalso Samsung,whichmakesaseries meanalowerpowerdraw,with of12x12mmARMpartsinthe extendedbatterylifefarbeyond Exynosfamily;Qualcommwas whatcanbeofferedbyaCISCpowerusagearebeingpitchedasa managing14x14mmpackageswhenitused baseddesignusingasimilar majorcompetitortoARMsdesignsinthe a45nmprocessforitsSnapdragonS1family. manufacturingprocess. burgeoningtabletandsmartphonemarkets. Intelstillhassomewaytogo,however.The ARM,throughitsmultifariouslicensees, ItsmostrecentAtomproduct,theAtom current-generationAtomSoCmightbea wasalsoanearlyadopteroftheconceptof MedfieldZ2460,isaSoCthatsalreadywon similarsizetoitsARM-basedcounterparts, system-on-chip(SoC)design.Wherea supportinsmartphonesandtabletsfrom butthiswasachievedbycuttingafewcorners. traditionalprocessorrequiresmultiple Lenovo,AsusandAcer. WhereSamsungsExynospartsaredual-or supportingcomponents,suchasthe IntelsattempttofightbackagainstARM quad-core,theAtomZ2640hasjustonecore. NorthbridgeandSouthbridge,anSoCpacks hasbeenhelpedbyashiftinprocessor Althoughdual-corepartsareduefromIntel, asmuchofthisaspossibleintoasinglechip. design:whereolderx86chipswerepure ithasntyetrevealedtheirsize,orwhateffect Byallowingmanufacturerstoconcentrateon CISCdesigns,modernchipshavemore theextracorewillhaveonpowerdraw. theuser-facingelementsofdesign,while incommonwiththeRISCmethodology WhileIntelisworkingonshrinkingitsparts simplydroppinginasinglechipthathandles preferredbyARM,withaCISCoverlayused anddevelopingcompetitiveSoCdesigns, centralprocessing,graphicsprocessing,bus ARMislookingtobreakintoIntels processing,communicationsand primarymarket.ThelatestARMv8 more,ARMbecamethesimplest FEWER INSTRUCTIONS MEANS instructionsetintroduces64-bit chipsetuponthemarket.Although somemanufacturersstillpreferto FEWER TRANSISTORS, AND FEWER supportforthefirsttime,alongwith producepureornear-pureARM TRANSISTORS MEANS CHEAPER hardwarevirtualisationinstructions andotherfeaturesthatmakeit CPUs,heavilyintegratedSoC AND SMALLER CHIPS suitableforuseinservers.Withthe designssuchasthosefrom growthofcloudcomputingspurring Qualcommaccountforalarge toprovidecompatibilitywithexistingx86 interestinso-calledmicroservers,Intelcould chunkofthemarket. code.Asaresult,Intelcanshrinkitsdesigns befightingoffARMinitsmostprofitable INTEL FIGHTS BACK considerably,andwhileitsunlikelydroptothe market,evenasittriestobreakintoARMs IntelisnostrangertotheadvantagesofARMs priceofarivalARMchip,Intelalsohashuge mobilestronghold.Inshort,ARMsdesigns RISC-baseddesign,ofcourse.Aspartofa cashreservesonitsside. arebecomingmorecomplex,whileIntelis lawsuitsettlementwithDEC,Intelgained ARMslicensingmodelmeansthat,despite simplifyingitsown.ThelinesbetweenRISC anARMlicenceandusedittoproduceits itshugepopularity,ithasrazor-thinmargins. andCISChaveneverbeensoblurred. StrongARMprocessorsfortheearlyPDAand ARMsrevenueforthelastquarterwas209.4 embeddedmarkets.Thatlicencewouldlater million,whileIntelswas8.3billionoverthe besoldtoMarvell,withIntelpreferringto sameperiod.ARMslicensingmodelmeans concentrateonitsownx86architecture. significantlyloweroperatingcosts,ofcourse, isthenewsreporterat Foralongtime,IntelallowedARMto buttheresultisclearintheprofitfigures: www.bit-tech.net.He dominatethelow-powerembeddedmarket, 61.9millioncomparedtoIntels1.7billion. knowsallabout the butinthepastfewyearsthecompanyhas ThatextracashgivesInteltheroomtoinvest latestnewsinPCandmobiletech. beenhittingback.Althoughoriginally inresearchanddevelopment,whichisslowly designedforthenetbookmarket,IntelsAtom butsurelybringingthecompanycloseto @ghalfacree processorsx86CISCchipsdesignedforlowparitywithitsBritishrival.

GARETH HALFACREE

WorldMags.net

October 2012

21

WorldMags.net

WorldMags.net

Our choice of the best hardware available


A
You dont have to spend an astronomical sum to get a decent PC. Our stunning value build includes 4GB of branded memory and a quad-core AMD Llano APU with integrated graphics
MOTHERBOARD APU RAM COOLING

PSU

HARD DISK

OPTICAL DRIVE

OPERATING SYSTEM

NAME

SUPPLIER www.overclockers.co.uk www.lambda-tek.com www.aria.co.uk www.overclockers.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.cclonline.com www.amazon.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.antec.com www.gigabyte.com www.amd.com www.crucial.com www.gelidsolutions.com www.thermaltake.com www.seagate.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 108, p36 Issue 98, p34 Issue 104, p38 Issue 100, p96 Issue 100, p86 Issue 97, p72 Issue 104, p72 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) 45 64 88 26 25 52 50 13 110

A B C D E F G H I

Antec One Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD2H AMD A8-3870K Black Edition 4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport PC3-12800C9 Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2 Thermaltake SP-530PCWEU 500GB Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 Lite-On IHAS124-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

473

web, use office application Unbeatable value for money - browse the content with this amazing PC!
24 April 2012

and enjoy HD

AMD E2-3500 CPU, 4GB DDR3 Memory, 1000GB Hard Drive WorldMags.net DVD Drive, 1 Year Warranty

A
As Core i7 motherboards and high-end graphics cards command a premium price, here are some components for a Core i5 PC that offer great performance and wont break the bank
MOTHERBOARD CPU RAM COOLING GRAPHICS CARD

PSU

HARD DISK

SOUND CARD

SOLID STATE DRIVE

OPERATING SYSTEM

NAME

SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.aria.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.dabs.com www.amazon.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.dabs.com www.scan.co.uk www.cclonline.com www.amazon.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com www.gigabyte.com www.intel.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com www.arctic.ac www.sapphiretech.com www.thermaltake.com www.seagate.com http://uk.asus.com www.samsung.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 103, p70 Issue 108, p38 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue104, p48 Issue 105, p40 Issue 97, p72 Issue 104, p75 Issue 99, p108 Issue 104, p68 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) 104 78 172 38 28 208 52 78 24 79 15 110

A B C D E F G H I J K L

SilverStone Raven RV03 Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H Intel Core i5-3570K 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK Arctic Freezer i30 Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB Thermaltake SP-530PCWEU Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 Asus Xonar DG Samsung SSD 830 128GB Lite-On IHAS124-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

986

WorldMags.net

M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

www.cclonline.com Call us on 08000 50 10 10 April 2012 25

Our choice of the best hardware available


A
This PC has the potential to be the finest gaming machine you can find as well as an excellent all-round computer for office work, digital photography, video production and media playback
MOTHERBOARD CPU RAM COOLING GRAPHICS CARD

PSU

HARD DISK

SOUND CARD

SOLID STATE DRIVE

OPERATING SYSTEM

NAME

SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.dabs.com www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.cclonline.com www.amazon.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com http://uk.asus.com www.intel.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com www.be-quiet.net www3.pny.com www.corsair.com www.seagate.com http://uk.asus.com www.samsung.com www.liteonit.eu www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 85, p88 Issue 106, p64 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue 91, p74 Issue 105, p36 Issue 97, p79 Issue 104, p75 Issue 80, p63 Issue 104, p68 Issue 99, p108 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) 188 153 172 38 41 408 90 78 58 150 13 110

A B C D E F G H I J K L

SilverStone Fortress FT02B-W USB 3.0 Asus Maximus V Gene Intel Core i5-3570K 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK Be Quiet! Dark Rock Advanced PNY GeForce GTX 680 2GB Corsair Professional Series HX 650 Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 Asus Xonar DX Samsung SSD 830 256GB Lite-On IHAS123-19 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

1,499

generation Intel Core i3 Processor Great home PC powered by the second and 4GB of DDR3 memory!
26 April 2012

Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz CPU, 4GB DDR3 Memory, GeForce GT 520 WorldMags.net 500GB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, Built-in Wi-Fi, 1 Year On Site Warranty

A
The most awesome components around, before reaching workstation territory. Weve included a dual 120mm liquid cooler kit as a base example, but the case has space for a variety of water-cooling setups
MOTHERBOARD CPU RAM GRAPHICS CARD COOLING

PSU

SOLID STATE DRIVE

SOUND CARD

HARD DISK

OPERATING SYSTEM

NAME

SUPPLIER www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.overclockers.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.ebuyer.co.uk www.aria.co.uk www.scan.co.uk www.amazon.co.uk

MANUFACTURER www.silverstonetek.com http://uk.asus.com www.intel.co.uk www.kingston.com www.nvidia.com www.corsair.com www.antec.com www.ocztechnology.com www.uk.europe.creative.com www.seagate.com www.microsoft.com

REVIEWED Issue 63, p87 Issue 106, p64 Issue 106, p36 Issue 106, p40 Issue 106, p46 Issue 91, p 74 Issue 97, p78 Issue 107, p44 Issue 62, p61 Issue 104, p75 Issue 75, p46

PRICE (inc VAT) 263 153 251 50 840 83 129 178 78 78 110

A B C D E F G H I J K

SilverStone Temjin TJ07B-W Asus Maximus V Gene Intel Core i7-3770K 8GB Kingston HyperX Genesis KHX1866C11D3P1K2/8G Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 2GB Corsair H100 Antec High Current Pro HCP-750 OCZ Vertex 4 256GB Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM0001 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE

2,213

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1027 April 2012


M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

GRAPHICS CARD Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB www.dabs.com www.sapphiretech.com Issue 102, p61 135

GRAPHICS CARD Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 www.amazon.co.uk www.sapphiretech.com Issue 105, p40 208

GRAPHICS CARD PNY GeForce GTX 680 2GB www.scan.co.uk www3.pny.com Issue 105, p36 408

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU Intel Core i5-3570K www.scan.co.uk www.intel.co.uk Issue 106, p36 172

MOTHERBOARD Asus Maximus V Gene www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 106, p64 153

COOLER Arctic Freezer i30 www.dabs.com www.arctic.ac Issue 104, p48 28

RAM 8GB Patriot G2 PGD38G1600ELK www.amazon.co.uk www.patriotmemory.com Issue 106, p40 38

Bigger Hard Drive - Better Deal! gaming PC evolved - Better Graphics, Our best selling
28 April 2012

AMD FX-4100 3.6GHz CPU, 8GB DDR3 Memory, AMD Radeon HD 7770 WorldMags.net 1000GB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, Built-in Wi-Fi, 2 Years Warranty

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU Intel Core i7-3930K www.novatech.co.uk www.intel.co.uk Issue 101, p32 435

MOTHERBOARD Asus Sabertooth X79 www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 101, p70 257

COOLER Corsair H80 www.dabs.com www.corsair.com Issue 101, p86 72

RAM 16GB Corsair Vengeance CAS9 DDR3 www.dabs.com www.corsair.com Issue 101, p40 80

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

CPU AMD A8-3870K www.aria.co.uk www.amd.com Issue 104, p38 88

MOTHERBOARD Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD2H www.lambda-tek.com www.gigabyte.com Issue 98, p34 64

COOLER Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2 www.scan.co.uk www.gelidsolutions.com Issue 100, p86 25

RAM 4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport PC3-12800C9 www.overclockers.co.uk www.crucial.com Issue 100, p96 26

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1029 April 2012


M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

LGA1155 CPU WATERBLOCK XSPC RayStorm CPU www.aquatuning.co.uk www.xs-pc.com Issue 107, p60 51

GEFORCE GTX 680 WATERBLOCK XSPC Razor GTX680 www.aquatuning.co.uk www.xs-pc.com Issue 107, p65 90

RADEON HD 7970 WATERBLOCK Aquacomputer aquagrATIx for HD 7970 www.aquatuning.co.uk www.aquacomputer.de Issue 107, p67 76

DUAL 120MM RADIATOR Alphacool NexXxos UT60 Full Copper 240mm www.aquatuning.co.uk www.alphacool.com Issue 107, p72 50

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

BUDGET CASE Antec One www.overclockers.co.uk www.antec.com Issue 108, p36 45

MICRO-ATX CASE SilverStone TJ08-E www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 98, p48 82

AIR-COOLING CASE SilverStone Raven RV03 www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 103, p70 104

WATER-COOLING CASE SilverStone Temjin TJ07B-W www.scan.co.uk www.silverstonetek.com Issue 63, p87 263

in Blu-Ray drive, low profile design, The ultimate media PC, with its built super quiet cooling and good looks!
30 April 2012

AMD E-450 1.65GHzCPU, 8GB DDR3 Memory, 1000GB Hard Drive WorldMags.net Blu-ray Drive, Built-in Wi-Fi, 1 Year On Site Warranty

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

530W PSU Thermaltake SP-530PCWEU www.scan.co.uk www.thermaltake.com Issue 97, p72 52

650W PSU Corsair Professional Series HX 650 www.dabs.com www.corsair.com Issue 97, p79 90

750W PSU Antec High Current Pro HCP-750 www.scan.co.uk www.antec.com Issue 97, p78 129

1.2kW PSU Antec High Current Pro 1200W www.ebuyer.com www.antec.com Issue 96, p48 228

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

HARD DISK Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST2000DM001 www.scan.co.uk www.seagate.com Issue 104, p75 78

SSD Samsung SSD 830 256GB www.scan.co.uk www.samsung.com Issue 104, p68 150

NAS BOX Synology DiskStation DS212j www.dabs.com www.synology.com Issue 104, p50 160

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1031 April 2012


M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

Our choice of the best hardware available

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

24IN MONITOR Dell UltraSharp U2412M www.scan.co.uk www.dell.com Issue 105, p64 227

27IN MONITOR Dell UltraSharp U2711 www.aria.co.uk www.dell.co.uk Issue 81, p56 525

TRIPLE-MONITOR STAND XFX Triple Display Monitor Stand www.scan.co.uk www.xfxforce.com Issue 96, p58 299

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

SOUND CARD Asus Xonar DX www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 80, p63 58

2.1 SPEAKERS Corsair SP2500 www.scan.co.uk www.corsair.com Issue 92, p79 184

HEADSET Asus Vulcan ANC www.scan.co.uk http://uk.asus.com Issue 98, p57 76

5.1 SPEAKERS Logitech Z906 www.ebuyer.com www.logitech.com Issue 102, p50 250

d - Bet Our best selling Intel gaming PC evolve

ter Graphics - Bigger Hard Drive

32

April 2012

Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz CPU, 8GB DDR3 Memory, NVIDIA GeForce WorldMags.net GTX 560Ti, 1000GB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, 2 Years Warranty

TYPE NAME SUPPLIER MANUFACTURER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

KEYBOARD Mionix Zibal 60 www.lambda-tek.com www.mionix.net Issue 108, p71 106

MOUSE Maonix Naos 3200 www.overclockers.co.uk www.mionix.net Issue 108, p60 35

STEERING WHEEL Logitech G27 www.scan.co.uk www.logitech.com Issue 92, p108 200

JOYSTICK Logitech Flight System G940 www.scan.co.uk www.logitech.com Issue 92, p109 228

TYPE NAME DEVELOPER PUBLISHER REVIEWED PRICE(incVAT)

RPG Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim www.bethsoft.com Bethesda Issue 101, p100 30

FPS Deus Ex: Human Revolution www.square-enix.com www.square-enix.com Issue 98, p96 30

STRATEGY Frozen Synapse www.mode7games.com www.mode7games.com Issue 96, p92 19 for two

UNDERDOG Trine 2 http://frozenbyte.com http://frozenbyte.com Issue 102, p98 12

www.cclonline.com WorldMags.net Call us on 08000 50 10 1033 April 2012


M o n i t o r s a n d d e s k t o p b u n d l e s a r e a v a i l a b l e s e p a r a t e l y.

Our in-depth analysis of the latest PC hardware

WepitchAsusflagship againstEVGAsequivalent

AEROCOOL 36 ASUS MAXIMUS V 40 STRIKE-X AIR FORMULA

Itsacase,butnotaswe knowit

A90casethats attractivelyunderstated

42 FRACTAL DESIGN DEFINE R4

Amicrocontrollerthats perfectforadvancedmods

44 ARDUINO LEONARDO

Anall-in-oneGPUwatercoolerforjust105

46 ARCTIC ACCELERO 50 SHARKFIN SELFHYBRID MOLDINGEARBUDS


Stopyourearphones fallingoutofyourears

mankyt-shirttocleanyour phonescreen

STICKEMS 50 Nomoreusingyour 50 WARHAMMER INVASION

Wecantstopplayingthis fantasycardgame

GOOGLE NEXUS 7 Jumpontothe tabletbandwagonforjust 159incVAT


36

51

34

October 2012

WorldMags.net

HOWWETEST,P48

IsEVGAsnewsuperhigh-endZ77 motherboardreallyheading forthewin? 36


WorldMags.net
October 2012 35

EVGA Z77 FTW

ASUS MAXIMUS V EXTREME AND EVGA Z77 FTW


When you absolutely have to have the fastest PC in the room, accept no substitutes
ASUS MAXIMUS V EXTREME
EXTREME Faster; easy to overclock; great EFI; lots of extras MUNDANE Pricey; little real-world speed advantage over cheaper boards
HOW MUCH? ASUS MAXIMUS V EXTREME
Price312incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturer http://rog.asus.com

IN DETAIL
ChipsetIntelZ77 CPUsupportLGA1155Core i3,Corei5,Corei7,Pentium andCeleron Memorysupport4slots:max 32GBDDR3(upto3,200MHz) ExpansionslotsFive16x PCI-E3.0slot(oneat16xor fiveat8x),one1xPCI-E2 slot, one1xmini-PCI-E2slot SoundRealtekALC8987.1 NetworkingIntelGigabit Ethernet,on-boardWiFi, on-boardBluetooth OverclockingBaseclock80 300MHz,CPUMultiplier3663;maxvoltages,CPU1.92V, RAM1.92V,PLL2.5V Ports3xSATA3Gbps(Z77),1 xmSATA3Gbps(Z77)2xSATA 6Gbps(Z77),4xSATA6Gbps (ASMedia)1xPS/2,8xUSB2 (Z77),4xUSB3(Z77),4xUSB 3(ASMedia)LAN,4x surroundaudioout,linein, mic,opticalS/PDIFout, HDMI,DisplayPort, Thunderbolt Dimensions(mm)305x272 (EATX)

hilethevastmajorityofusplumpfor sensiblehardwareatsensibleprices, thereareotherswhoseidealPC isabankbalance-destroying, electricitybill-manglinggiantofmultiGPUengineering.Thisreviewthenisthe latter,aswepittwoofthemostpremium Z77boardsagainsteachothertheAsus MaximusVExtremeandEVGAZ77FTW. TheExtremeisthelargerat305mmx272mmand, asAsuscurrentflagshipboard,itsstuffedwithextras tocomplementtheZ77chipset.Alongsidethetwo largebanksofVRMsandaccompanyingaluminium heatsinks,theExtremesportsfivePCI-Egraphics slots,runningoneat16xorfiveat8x.Theseslotsare connectedtoaPLXsplittingchipbeneaththebacklit RepublicofGamerslogo,whichenablestheboardto supportupto4-waySLIandCrossFireX.Theresalso asingle1xPCI-E2slot,butthisisblockedifyouopt fora4-waySLIdual-slotGPUsetup. Elsewhere,thereareon-boardpowerand resetbuttons,aPOSTcodereader,adualBIOS arrangementwithanon-boardswitchandaraftof extrasforprofessionaloverclockers.Theserange fromAsusSubzeroSenseports,whichenableyou toaccuratelymonitorsystemtemperatureswhen coolingwithLN2,toaVGAhotwirearrayofpin-outs forsolderingonyourownvoltageregulators.These arentparticularlyusefulfeaturesunlessyouhavea canofLN2 onhandthough. MorepracticalisasetofPCI-Edebugswitches, withwhichyoucanenableanddisablePCI-Eslots. Therearealsoon-boardWi-FiandBluetooth,andthe inclusionofAsusOC-Key.TheOCkeyisparticularly handy,connectingtoyourDVIoutput

AsusMaximus VExtreme

EVGAZ77FTW

anddisplayingavisualoverlayshowingreal-time clockspeedsandtemperatures. TheExtremeisalsothefirstboardweveseenwith IntelsThunderboltport.Itspeakbi-directionalspeed of10Gb/sec(1.25GB/sec)andabilitytodaisy-chain bothdisplayandstoragedevicesmakesitan intriguingproposition,notonethatsessentialyet. Theresalsotherequisitetruck-loadofUSBand SATAports.TherearI/OoffersfourUSB3portsand fourUSB2ports,withanextrafourofeachavailable viaon-boardheadersintheboardslowerright-hand corner.AsushasexpandedontheusualfourSATA 3GbpsandtwoSATA6GbpsportsoftheZ77chipset too,withanASMediacontrollerofferinganadditional (albeitslower)fourSATA6Gbpsports.Theresalsoan mSATAconnectionviaadaughterboardconnectedat thetopoftherearI/Opane,belowwhichyoullfinda CMOSresetandBIOSflashbackswitches. AsAsusdesignatedbonkersboard(notan officialtitle),theExtremealsocarriesextrapower connectors.The8-pinEPS12Vconnectorisjoinedby anoptional4-pinconnector,whilea6-pinPCI-E connectorsitsabovetheexpansionslots formultiplegraphicscards. Basically,itsthemost comprehensively featuredboardweve handledtodate. Incomparison,EVGAs Z77FTWoffersfewerfeatures,butstill distinguishesitselfasasuper-high-endboard.

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October 2012

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LGA1155 MOTHERBOARDS

Insteadofusingawraparoundarrayof AsusMaximus VRMs,theZ77FTWssinglelargebanksitsto VExtreme theleftoftheCPUsocket,cooledviaasingle largealuminiumheatsink. Ittoosportsfivefull-sized16xPCI-E3 slots,runningwitheitheroneslotat16x,or fiveat8x.Theresalsoasingle1xPCI-E2slot but,aswiththeAsus,thisisblockedifyoukit outtheboardwiththefullcomplementof fourdual-slotgraphicscards. On-boardextrasincludeatriple-BIOS switch,power,resetandCMOS-clear buttons,aPOSTcodereaderthatdoublesas aCPUtemperaturereadout,andanactively cooledchipset,courtesyofalow-profile 40mmfan.Theresalsoahandyarrayof switchesforenabling/disablingthePCI-E slotsusefulfortroubleshootingmulti-GPU EVGAZ77FTW setupsandanarrayofvoltageread-out pinsabovetheDIMMslots. Lookingtotherearoftheboard,theEVGA hassixUSB2portsandfourUSB3ports (withanotherfourUSB2andtwoUSB3ports availableviano-boardheaders),alongsidea pairofeSATAportspoweredbyaMarvell controller.DualMarvell1Gb/secEthernet ports(comparedtotheExtremessingleIntel 1Gb/secport)andaCMOSresetswitchare alsousefuladditions.Meanwhile,on-board displayoutputishandledbyasingleminiDisplayPortconnector. TheZ77FTWalsoboastslotsofadditional powerconnectorsforusewhenextreme overclockingorifyouusemultiplegraphics Extremeboostedto3.9GHzregardless.Thissaw cards.Nexttothe8-pinEPS12Vconnectoris theExtremereturnanoverallscoreinourMedia anoptional8-pinconnector,andtheresapairof6-pin Benchmarksof2,399points,comparedtotheZ77 PCI-Econnectorsatthetopandbottomofthebankof FTWs2,265.InCrysis2,therewasnosuchgap, PCI-Eslotstoo.Asanextraneattouch,the24-pinATX though,withbothboardsproducingaplayable connectorisalsoequippedwitha90-degreeadaptor, minimumframerateof26fps. helpingtomakethattop-endbuildlookevenneater. Overclockingperformanceistheimportantaspect Whilebothboardsareloadedwithextrastodeal forhigh-endboards,though,andwefirstturnedour witheventhepickiestofdemands,itsclearthatthe attentionstotheExtreme.AsusEFIhasnowmatured, Extremeisthebetterequippedofthetwo,with sooverclockingtheExtremewasstraightforward. Thunderbolt,WiFiandBluetoothbeingthemost Clockspeedmultiplierandvoltageadjustmentsareall practicaladvantages.Forthoseconsideringa4-way closelygrouped,andwehadlittletroublereachingour SLIsetup,theExtremeisalsotheonlyoneofthetwo testCPUsmaximumof4.8GHz.Todothis,wedisabled toincludea4-waySLIbridge,withtheZ77FTWonly IntelC-states,usedamultiplierof48xandabase bundlingdual-cardandtriple-cardbridges. blockof100MHz,setLoadLineCalibrationtoUltra PERFORMANCE HighandtheCPUvoltageto1.33V. FittingourtestIntelCorei7-3770Kineachboard,we OverclockingtheZ77FTWprovedalittlemore foundtheZ77FTWhadanimmediatedisadvantageat taxing.WhileitsEFIgroupssettingswell,itlooks stockfrequencies,asitsCPUonlyTurboBoostedto positivelyold-schoolandfeelsmorelikeanout-of3.7GHzwhenallfourcoreswereloaded,whilethe dateBIOSthanthecontrolsystemforasuper-high-

EVGA Z77 FTW


WINNER 40 cheaper than the Asus; dual1Gb/sec LAN RUNNER-UP Slower at stock and overclocked speeds; outdated EFI; harder to overclock; doesnt include 4-way SLI bridge, WiFi, or Bluetooth
HOW MUCH? EVGA Z77 FTW
Price269incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk

IN DETAIL
ChipsetIntelZ77 CPUsupportLGA1155Core i3,Corei5,Corei7,Pentium andCeleron Memorysupport4slots:max 32GBDDR3(upto3,000MHz) ExpansionslotsFive16x PCI-E3slot(Oneat16x,four at8x),onePCI-E2.16x slot, onePCI-E21xslot SoundRealtekALC8897.1 Networking2xMarvell 88E8057 OverclockingBaseclock80 130MHz,CPUMultiplier1680;maxvoltages,CPU1.99V, RAM1.99V,PLL2.6V Ports4xSATA3Gbps(Z77),2 xSATA6Gbps(Z77),2xSATA 6Gbps(Marvell9182)2x eSATA(Marvell88SE6121) 1xPS/2,10xUSB2(Z77), 4xUSB3(Z77)2xUSB3 (ASMedia),2x LAN,4x surroundaudioout,linein, mic,opticalS/PDIFout,miniDisplayPort Dimensions(mm)305x 263.5(EATX)
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October 2012

37

LGA1155 MOTHERBOARDS

AsusMaximusVExtreme

EVGAZ77FTW

endboard.WedisabledC-statesandvdroop,setthe multiplierto48xandbaseblockto100MHz,and pushedtheCPUvoltageto1300mV(1.32V),onlyto findthatourCPUfrequentlyclockeddownto4.4GHz. ThecausewastheCPUpowermanagementsettings; settingtheIAcorecurrentmaxandpowerlimitsto 2,040,longandshortdurationpowerlimitsto255and longdurationmaintainedpowerlimitto120resolved theissueandresultedinastableOC. WhilebothCPUswererunningatsimilar frequencies,theExtremeprovedthefasterboardin ourMediaBenchmarks.Anoverallscoreof2,865was closeto100pointsclearoftheZ77FTWs2,770,with theExtremeholdinga5percentadvantageinthe videoencodingtestalone.InCrysis2,bothwere inseparable,though,witheachproducingan increasedminimumframerateof32fps. Wealsobenchmarkedbothboardsina3-waySLI setup,courtesyofthreeGTX6702GBcardsconnected toa5,760x1,080NvidiaSurrounddisplay.Therewas littletodistancethetwoboards,though,withboth producingthesameresultin63fpsminimumin Battlefield3,demonstratinganimpressive91per centscalingforthethree-cardsetup.Wefoundthat theZ77FTWwasalittlemorepower-hungryhere, though,withoursystempullingapeakof640Win BF3comparedtotheExtremes633W.

CONCLUSION
Whilebothboardsdeliveredthecrazyframerateswe expectfromhigh-endmulti-GPUsetups,itstoughto lookbeyondtheAsusMaximusVExtremewhen choosingbetweenthetwo.Despiteits40premium overtheEVGAZ77FTW,theExtremeoffersmany usefulextrafeatures,fromWiFiandBluetoothtoa Thunderboltportandbundled4-waySLIconnector.It wasalsoconsistentlyfasteracrossourbenchmarks atleastat4.8GHz,whichisthelimitofourtestCPU. Despiteitsvictory,though,theresnoawardforthe MaximusVFormula.Z77boardsareprimarilylimited byIntelsIvyBridgeCPUswhenoverclocking,andthe Extremeperformsalmostthesameasthe150 cheaperAsusMaximusVGene(seeIssue106,p64)in ourbenchmarks.Despiteitsepicfeatureset,most peoplewillstruggletofindauseformanyoftheextras, leaving4-waySLIandCrossFireXastheonlydraw. Whilewelovetheframeratesofmulti-GPUsetups, dealingwiththeirheat,noiseandpowerconsumption, nottomentiondriverdependency,removesmuchof theshine,andyoucanstillrunatwo-wayGPUsetup ontheGeneanyway.Ifyouabsolutelymusthavethe biggest,mostcapableZ77motherboardaroundthen theMaximusVExtremeistheoneotherwise,youcan getadecentboardforhalfthemoney.
HARRY BUTLER

GIMP IMAGE EDITING


Asus Maximus V EVGA Z77 FTW 0 Asus Maximus V EVGA Z77 FTW 0 1,000 2,000 1,000

1,941 1,829
2,000

2,322 2,298
3,000 4,000

1,920 x 1,080, High settings, no AA, no AF

CRYSIS 2

Asus Maximus V

26 fps 32 fps 26 fps 32 fps

81 fps 82 fps 81 fps 82 fps

HANDBRAKE H.264 VIDEO ENCODING


3,463 4,312 3,289
3,000

EVGA Z77 FTW

4,098
4,000

25

50

75

100

MULTI-TASKING
Asus Maximus V EVGA Z77 FTW 0

BATTLEFIELD 3
5,760 x 1,080, 3 x GTX 670 2GB in 3-way SLI, Ultra settings, 4x AA, 16x AF

1,792 1,676
1,000

1,952 1,914

Asus Maximus V EVGA Z77 FTW 3,000 4,000


Stock speed min

63fps 63fps
0 25 50
Overclocked min

74fps 74fps
75 100

2,000

OVERALL
Asus Maximus V EVGA Z77 FTW 0 1,000 Stock speed

Stock speed avg

Overclocked avg

2,399 2,265
2,000 Overclocked

2,865 2,770
3,000 4,000

3.2GHzIntelCorei7-3770K CPU,8GB1,600MHz CorsairDDR3memory, 128GBPatriotWildfire SSD,NvidiaGeForceGTX 6802GBgraphicscard,3x GTX6702GBfor3-waySLI, Windows764-bit


37

TEST KIT

scores: asus
SPEED 42 / 45 FEATURES 30 / 30 VALUE 10 / 25

82

scores: EVGa
SPEED 38 / 45 FEATURES 25 / 30 VALUE 11 / 25

OVERALL

74
OVERALL

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October 2012

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BENCH TABLE

AEROCOOL Strike-X Air


An exotic-looking bench table, but is it as good as it looks?
OFFENCE Easy to use; good access to motherboard; good CPU cooling DEFENCE Large; mediocre GPU cooling; average build quality

HOW MUCH?
Price90incVAT Supplierwww.quietpc.co.uk Manufacturer www.aerocool.us SKUNumberCA-030-AE

IN DETAIL
Dimensions(mm)613x525 x340(WxDxH) MaterialPlastic,steel AvailablecoloursBlack Weight 9kg Frontpanel3.5in/2.5in, power,reset,USB3,2xUSB 2,stereo,mic Drivebays3xexternal 5.25in,3xexternal3.5in or2.5in. FormfactorsATX,microATX Cooling1x200mmtopfan mount(fanincluded),1x 120mmsidefanmount (fanincluded) CPUcoolerclearance Unlimited Maximumgraphicscard length295mm ExtrasTool-less3.5inbays, 120mmand140mm radiatorsupport

hereareanumberofbenchtablesavailable However,ourmaingripewiththisotherwise atthemoment,butAerocoolsStrike-XAiris straightforwardproductisthebuildquality.The certainlythemostdramatic-looking.Itspartly plasticsectionsfeltcheapand,whileafairamount modulardrivecagesandcable-routeingholes ofitismadefrom0.7mmsteel,thechassishasa makeitmoreofacasethanabenchtable,andits considerabledegreeofflexinit.Thatsaid,itsits muchlargerthananaveragestack-designtabletoo. firmlyonadeskand,unlessyourepronetotaking Themotherboardrestsinalargeopen-air thenearestbigsticktoitwhenyouroverclockfails, compartment,whileaswivellinglidwitha200mmfan itslackofrigidityisnomajorcauseforconcern. blowsairintothemainsection.Thislidcanbeclosed PERFORMANCE orheldopenatvariousanglesbyusingalatchthat Withourusualcasetestinggearinstalled,theStrike-X workslikeacarsbonnet-stay.Theresenoughroom AirmanagedaloadCPUdeltaTof48Cagoodresult forthelargestCPUaircoolers,andthelidrotates thatsonaparwiththeCoolerMasterHAFXandAntec completelyoutofthewaytoousefulifyouredealing OneHundred.Ourgraphicscard,meanwhile,topped withwater-coolingorliquidnitrogenpots. outwithadeltaTof45C. Thisisntagreatresult,and Speakingofwatercooling,thereslittleelseinthe wayofsupportforpumpsorreservoirs, butvariousmountingholesattherearof THERES ENOUGH ROOM FOR LARGE thechassisenableyoutoinstall120mm CPU COOLERS, AND THE LID ROTATES or140mmradiators.A120mmmountis COMPLETELY OUT OF THE WAY TOO alsolocatednexttothe3.5inbaystokeep yourharddiskscool. islikelyduetothefactthattheresnofantomimica Totheleftofthemotherboardtrayisasectionof casesfrontintakefanonlythetop200mmfanblows variouscubbyholesthathousethe5.25indrivebays, airinthedirectionofthemotherboard. tool-free3.5in/2.5indrivebaysandPSUmount.Most aretheusual affairsthatyoudfindonastandardcase, CONCLUSION althoughthePSUclipsintoplaceattherear,witha AerocoolsStrike-XAirisaverymixedbag.Itlooks largeholeinfrontofitforrouteingcablesunderneath betterthantheblandmetaltablesfromLianLiand thetabletothemotherboard.Theonlyissuewehad CoolerMaster,butthelatterstablesarecheaper, herewasthedistanceour8-pinEPS12Vconnector stronger,lesscumbersomeanddoexactlythesame onlyjustreachedthemotherboard,andhadtodoso job(CoolerMastersLabTestBenchcostsaround overthetopinanunsightlyfashion. 45).UnlessyoulovetheAirsquirkyappearance,wed Meanwhile,othernoteworthyfeaturesincludea adviseshopping aroundforasuperiordesigninstead. USB3port,fourrubbergrommetsattherear,and ANTONY LEATHER front-mountedpowerandresetbuttons.

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

22 / 30 customPC 12 / 20 22 / 30 13 / 20 OVERALL

69

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October 2012

WorldMags.net

WorldMags.net

FRACTAL DESIGN Define R4


Fractal Design returns with a featurestuffed, highly capable case
DEFINED Loads of features; great build quality; costs 90 INDISTINCT Mediocre stock cooling; no room for 60mm radiators
HOW MUCH?
Price90incVAT Supplierwww.ebuyer.co.uk Manufacturer www.fractal-design.com SKUnumber FD-CA-DEF-R4-BL

IN DETAIL
Dimensions(mm)232x523 x464(WxDxH) MaterialSteel,plastic AvailablecoloursPearl Black(reviewed),Arctic White,TitaniumGrey Weight12.3kg FrontpanelPower,reset, 2xUSB3,2xUSB2,stereo, microphone Drivebays2xexternal 5.25indrivebays,8xinternal 3.5in/2.5in,2x2.5indrivebays Formfactor(s)ATX,microATX,mini-ITX Cooling2x120/140mm frontmounts(1xfan supplied),1x140mmrear fanmount(fansupplied), 2x120/140mmrooffan mounts,1x140mmsidefan mount,1x120/140mmfloor fanmount CPUcoolerclearance170mm Maximumgraphicscard length295mmwithHDD cage;430mmwithout ExtrasDustfilters,3-speed fancontroller,sounddeadeningfoam,ModuVent blankingplates

evebeenfansofFractalDesigns minimaliststylingandflexible,low-noise coolingsincewesawtheDefineR2in 2010.TheFractalR3impressedusayear lateraswellbut,aswefoundinourlastcaseLabstest (seeIssue103,p64),theR3hasbeenslowlysurpassed bynewercaseswithmoreflexibilityandfeatures.The R4isthelatestcontinuationofthefranchise(inagood, DarkKnightwaynotabadPhantomMenaceway), addingadditionalfeaturesandflexibilitywhile maintainingthesamedesignethos. WhiletheR4retainsitspredecessorsunderstated looks,itsgainedsomegirthandheightovertheR3, andisnow22mmwiderand25mmtaller.Itsexterior remainsstoicallyuntaintedbyexpansesofventing, meshorplastic,though,withthealuminium-finish plasticfrontdoorfittedovertheplasticfrontfascia;this isflankedbyreassuringlysolidandsnug-fittingside panels.ItscertainlyidealforthosewhothinktheirPC shouldbeneitherseennorheard,butitwontmake muchofasplashifyouwanttoshowoffyourPC. Meanwhile,theroofpanelsportsapairof 120/140mmcoolingfanmountsfilledwithfoambackedblankingplates,withathirdblankingplate 140mmmountontheleftsidepanel.Openthefront doorandyoullalsofindasinglelargepush-pin securedhatch,behindwhichsitsaremovableplastic fanmountcapableofhousingapairof120/140mm fansitsequippedwitha removabledustfiltertoo. RoundingofftheR4scooling componentsareasixthfan mountinthecasesfloor,again capableofmountingeithera 120mmor140mmcoolingfan, andaseventh140mmmountto therear.Whilethismatchesthe numberofmountsofferedby theolderR3,eachhasnowbeen upgradedtoaccommodate 140mmcoolingfans,with
Thefrontpanelhidesaremovablefan mountforapairof120/140mmfans

FractalDesignincludingapairofitsown140mmfans fittedasafrontintakeandrearexhaust. TheR4sfrontpanelisfoundontopof theplastic frontfascia;itcomprisesapairofUSB3ports(with internalconnector),twoUSB2ports,3.5mm microphoneandheadphonejacks,andpowerand resetbuttonswithablueLEDpowerindicator.Swing thedooropenandyoullalsofindthatmostessential ofcaseaccessories:athree-speedfancontroller.Its agreatinclusion,withsettingsfor12V,7Vand5V,plus internalconnectorsforuptothreefans.However,as thebundledfansonlyspinupto1,000rpm,thefan controllerisbestusedtoadjustanyextrafansyouadd. Movinginside,theR4againhasasimilardesignto itspredecessors,althoughitsnowmuchmore modular.Alaterallymountedpairofharddrivecages sitacrossthefrontofthecase,witheachabletomount a3.5inor2.5indriveviaeasilyremovabledrivetrays. Theuppercageaccommodatesuptofivedrives, whilethelowertakesonlythree;botharefully removableshouldyouwishtooptimise thecaseforairflowratherthanstorage capacity.Apairof2.5indrivemountsalso sitbehindthemotherboard,makingthis aperfectlysuitablecaseforthosewho haveditched3.5instorage.There arealsojusttwo5.25indrivebays,which isafaircompromiseconsideringthe increasingirrelevanceofopticaldrives. Meanwhile,themotherboardtrayis sturdyandequippedwithnumerous well-placedcable-routeingholes.Lined withrubber,thesemakeiteasytotuck PSUcablesbehindthemotherboardtray andthereareplentyofcable-tiepointsto

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ATX CASE

01

03

securethemaswell.Theflatsidepanelsmeanthat thereisntasmuchroombehindthemotherboard asyoudexpect,however,withtheextracasewidth insteadallowingforCPUcoolersupto170mmin height.Theresonlyroomfora30mmradiatorand accompanyingfanabovethemotherboardthough. Tothereararesevenexpansionslots,withaneighth slotfittedverticallyabovethem.Thisisacarry-over frompreviousDefinedesigns,wherethebundledfan controllerwasmountedinaspareexpansionslot. ItsstillusefulforaddingextraUSBportsorlighting controlsthough.Oneelementnotretainedfrom previousdesigns,however,istheuseofexternal water-coolinggrommets.Thesehavenowbeen completelyremoved,whichisafairdecisiongiventhat all-in-oneinternalcoolersarenowcommonplace.

04 02

COOL ING
Whileitsoptimisedforlow-noisecooling,theR4 stillmanagedafairresultonceourtestsystemwas installed.Withitspairof1,000rpmfansattheirvery discreetfullspeed,theR4producedaCPUdeltaT of51CandaGPUdeltaTof49C.CPUperformance isveryencouraging,andmatchesthatofthe competingCorsair550Dwithoutitspanelling.The GPUtemperaturewasamongthewarmestweve seenfromafull-sizedchassisthough. Afterdiallingthefansdowntotheir5Vminimum, theCPUdeltaTrosetoatoasty60C,whiletheGPU deltaTclimbedonlyslightlyto50C.However,with theR4sfocusonflexibility,therearemanywaysto improvecooling.RemovingthetopandsidefanmountblankingplatesdroppedtheGPUdeltaTby 2C,asdidtheremovaloftheupperharddiskcage.

blankingplates.TheR4doesntofferthebestcooling blanking plates. The R4 doesnt offer the best cooling outofthebox,buttheresplentyofflexibilitytoimprove this.Itoffersgreatbuildqualityforacompetitiveprice ofjust90,makingitastrongcontenderforthosewho prioritisesubtletyoverlowtemperatures.
HARRY BUTLER

The R4s front panel is TheR4sfrontpanelis ontopoftheplasticfront fascia,andsportsapairofUSB3 portsandtwoUSB2ports

01

pairof2.5inmountsbehindthe motherboardtray

02 Bothdrivecagesare fullyremovable,witha

CPU LOAD DELTA T TEMPERATURE


Fractal Design Dene R4 (full speed) Fractal Design Dene R4 (low speed) Corsair Obsidian 550D (vents) Corsair Obsidian 550D (no vents) Corsair Carbide 500R

noiseandmakethecasequieter
51 C 60 C 56 C 51 C 51 C

03 Thesidepanelsarelined withfoamtohelpdeaden

withrubber,makingiteasyto tuckPSUcablesbehindthe motherboardtray

04 Thenumerouscablerouteingholesarelined

15

30

45 60 Lower is better

GPU LOAD DELTA T TEMPERATURE


Fractal Design Dene R4 (full speed) Fractal Design Dene R4 (low speed) Corsair Obsidian 550D (vents) Corsair Obsidian 550D (no vents) Corsair Carbide 500R 0 15 30

49 C 50 C 49 C 47 C 42 C
45 60 Lower is better

CONCLUSION
TheFractalDesignDefineR4continueswhereits predecessorsleftoff,combiningdiscreetlooksand low-noisecoolingwithalargearrayoffeatures. FractalDesignhasaddressedmanyprevious criticisms,addingafront-mountedfancontroller andmakingthedrivecagesfullyremovable,while retainingexcellentextrassuchasthefan-mount

COOLING 18 / 30 customPC FEATURES 19 / 20 DESIGN 29 / 30 VALUE 17 / 20 OVERALL

83

3.4GHzIntelCorei7-870 CPU,AMDRadeonHD5870 2GBEyefinitygraphics card,BioStarTPowerI55 motherboard,2GBOCZ 1,866MHzDDR3memory, 160GBSeagateBarracuda 7200.9harddisk,Gelid TranquilloCPUcoolerwith NoctuaNF-S12BULN 120mmfan,Seasonic M12DSS-850EMPSU

TEST KIT

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43

ARDUINO Lenoardo
A bargain microcontroller thats ideal for adventurous PC modders
Cheap; keyboard and mouse emulation is handy; 12 analogue inputs

DA VINCI

DA VINCI CODE Some compatibility problems with Uno-based sketches

HOW MUCH?
Price19incVAT Supplier www.oomlout.co.uk Manufacturer www.arduino.cc

IN DETAIL
MicrocontrollerAtmel ATmega32U4 RAM2.5KB Flash32KB(28KBavailable toArduinoIDE) EEPROM1KB Clockspeed16MHz Operatingvoltage5V(input 6-20V) Size(mm)68.6x53.3 PCconnectivityMicro-USB, ISPorSPIUARTSerial Pins20,including12 analogueinputs,7PWM outputs ExtrasStickers

some of the 20 digital I/O pins. As before, all pins can icrocontrollerssmallcomputingdevices someofthe20digitalI/Opins.Asbefore,allpinscan also be used as digital inputs or outputs on demand. thatcanbeprogrammedtocontrolsensors, alsobeusedasdigitalinputsoroutputsondemand. Sadly, the move to a new chip isnt always smooth. motors,lightsandmoreprovidemodders Sadly,themovetoanewchipisntalwayssmooth. Switching from an FTDI IC to the ATmega16U2 for withalmostunlimitedpossibilities,but SwitchingfromanFTDIICtotheATmega16U2for theyrealsooftenapaintoprogram,requiringthe USB-to-serialconversionintheUnobroughtsome learningofnear-incomprehensibleprogramming problems,andthemovefromanATmega328PUto languages.TheArduinoproject,launchedin2005, theLeonardosATmega32U4continuesthattrend. changedallthat,takingthecheapATmegafamilyof TheArduinosUSBconnectionandassociated microcontrollersandaddingalibraryWiringwhich serialconnectionnowresetsitselfwhenthemain waseasyforbeginnerstolearn.Sincethen,Arduino processorresets,whichcancauseproblemsifa deviceshaveonlybecomemorepowerfulandthe programlisteningtotheserialportisntprogrammed latestrelease,theArduinoLeonardo,isnoexception. toreconnectfollowingaconnectionreset.Sketches Designedtotakeoverfromthelast-generation Arduino-speakforprogramswrittenwiththeboards ArduinoUno,theLeonardohasaspartanboard inmindalsonolongerrestartwhenanewserial design.WhilepreviousArduinomodelsincludingthe connectionisdetected. Unoanditspredecessor,theDuemilanovehaveused Thebiggestchange,however,isinthewaythat twointegratedcircuits,theLeonardousesjustone. severalofthepinsoperate.Whiletheserialconnection TheAtmelATmega32U4,asmallsurface-mount waspreviouslyaccessibleoverboththeUSB packagelocatedinthecentreoftheboard,takeson connection,andtheRXandTXpinsontheArduino theresponsibilityofhandlingboththemicrocontroller boarditself,thisisnolongerthecase:theUSB andtheUSBconnection. connectionisnowaddressedasSerial,whilethe Theresultisasparseboardthats bothcheapertomanufactureandmore ITS PERFECTLY POSSIBLE TO USE flexible.UnlikepreviousArduinomodels, THE LEONARDO TO CREATE A whichforcedthoselookingtolinkthe deviceswithacomputertowriteback-end CUSTOM-MADE MACRO KEYPAD daemonstolistenforcommunications overaserialport,theLeonardocanactasahuman physicalpinsareaddressedasSerial1.Sketchesthat interfacedevice,emulatingakeyboardormouseatthe expecttoaddressthephysicalpinswillneedtobe programmersdiscretion. rewritten,andtheylllosecompatibilitywithprevious ForpeoplelookingtoaddsensingtotheirPC,its Arduinomodelsintheprocess.Meanwhile,the nothingshortofarevelation:suddenlytheArduino processofcreatingdesignsthatrelyonsimultaneous cansendkeycombinationstocontrolaPCsoperation USBandphysicalserialportaccesshasbecome withnoback-endprogrammingrequired.Ifyourea muchmorecomplicated. gamer,thismeansthatitsperfectlypossibletouse Certainshieldsadd-onboardsthatpiggybackonto theLeonardotocreateacustom-mademacrokeypad; theArduinotoaddfeaturesarealsoincompatible foroverclockers,thesamefeaturecouldbeusedto withtheLeonardo,inparticularthosebasedonthe sendashutdownhotkeycombinationiftheArduino SerialPeripheralInterconnect(SPI)standard,which detectsariseintemperatures. isnowonlyavailableviathe6-pinIn-System Speakingofsensors,theLeonardosnewchipgives Programmer(ISP)headerattheendoftheboard. itextracapabilitiesheretoo.WhiletheUnoandits AnotherbackwardsstepfortheLeonardoisthe predecessorshadsix10-bitanalogueinputs,the amountofflashmemoryavailablefortheuploading Leonardoboastsdoublethenumberbyborrowing sketchesorstoringofdata.WhiletheATmega32U4

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MICROCONTROLLER

01

02

hasthesame32KBflashregionastheUnos ATmega328PU,thenewkeyboardandmouse emulationfeaturesandUSB-to-serialconversion takesitstollinthesizeofthebootloader4KB comparedtojust0.5KBontheUno.Asaresult, sketchesanddataarelimitedto28KBbeforeexternal storageisrequired,althoughifyourArduinosketch compilestomorethan28KB,youreprobablyusingthe wrongtoolforthejob.However,thenewchipboosts theRAMfrom2KBto2.5KB.Thevastmajorityof shieldsandsketchesshouldoperatejustfineonthe Leonardothough. Duringtesting,weencounteredfewproblemswith thechipschangedfeatureset.Shieldsdesignedfor theoldDuemilanoveboardworkedfirsttime,withthe exceptionofaBurnduinoflasherboardthatrequires theabilitytoremoveasocketedmicrocontrollerfor pass-throughsketchuploadingsomethingthatthe surface-mountchipusedintheLeonardocantoffer. Someoldersketchesalsoneededsomerewriting beforebeingfullyoperationalwiththeLeonardo.In particular,sketchesthatusedserialcommunications neededafewdelayshereandtheretopreventthe moreefficientnewsystemfromfloodingthe connectionandcrashingtheArduinoIDEsoftware. Otherwise,however,usingtheLeonardowiththe latestArduinoIDEreleasewasasheerjoy.

03

Amovetothe ATmega32U4means newfeatures,butbringssome compatibilityissues

01

someSPI-basedshieldsare incompatible

02 Mostshieldswork withtheLeonardo,but 03 TheLeonardonowuses micro-USBforpowerand

data,ratherthanmini-USB

CONCLUSION
Ofcourse,themainreasontorecommendtheArduino Leonardoistheprice.Switchingtoanewchipmay haveintroducedafewcompatibilityproblems,butits addedplentyofexcitingnewfeaturestomakeupfor that,whileremovingoneoftheboardsmostexpensive componentshasreducedthebillofmaterials. Thisisreflectedintheprice.WhiletheArduino Unocosts22,theLeonardosellsforjust19. Althoughstillpricedwayabovelessbeginner-friendly microcontrollerprototypingsystemssuchasTexas Instrumentsremarkable5MSP430LaunchPadand Arduino-compatibleclonessuchasOomlouts11.50 BreadboardArduinoCompatibleKit,itsagreatprice foranofficialArduinoboard.

Priceaside,theLeonardoisamoddersdream. Thankstoitskeyboardemulationcapabilities,youcan setuptheLeonardotocontrolaPCwithoutwritingany back-endcodethiswasonlypossiblethroughagreat dealofeffortusingtheUnoandpriormodels. Whetheritsworthupgradingfromanexisting Arduinoorcompatibleboarddependsontheindividual project.Ifthenewhumaninterfacedeviceemulation soundstempting,itsasmallpricetopay.However,if yourealreadystretchingthelimitsoftheArduinos 32KBofflashmemory,theLeonardosbulky4KB bootloadermayruleitout. Lookoutfornextmonthsissue,inwhichwellshow youhowtousethis19boardtocreateatemperaturesensitivelightingsystemforyourPC.
GARETH HALFACREE

FEATURES 36 / 40 FLEXIBILITY 25 / 30

customPC

VALUE 29 / 30 OVERALL
October 2012 45

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GPU COOLER

ARCTIC Accelero Hybrid


A cheaper and easier alternative for water-cooling your graphics card?
ARCTIC FOX Excellent cooling; quiet fans ARCTIC ROLL Terrible to install

HOW MUCH?
Price105incVAT Supplier www.specialtech.co.uk Manufacturer www.arctic.ac SKUnumber DCACOV750001-GB

IN DETAIL
CompatibilityAMDRadeon HD:7870,7850,6970,6950, 6870,6850,6790,6770,5870, 5850,5830,4890,4870,4850 NvidiaGeForce:GeForce GTX680,670,580,570,560 Ti,560SE,560,480,470,465, 460SE,460 Weight800g Size(mm)150x53x120 (WxDxH)(radiator) Fan1x120mm,1x80mm Statednoise0.3sones

adeforArcticbyAsetek,whichalsomakes oneliquidcoolers,itsusuallybesttohavetheradiator AntecsfantasticKhlerH20620,the exhaustinghotairfromthecase.Usingitasanintake AcceleroHybridcosts105andreplaces willmeanlowerGPUtemperatures,butyoullbe yourgraphicscardsreferencecooler.Ifyou dumpingtheheatdirectlybackintoyourcase.Its weretowater-coolyourgraphicscardinthetraditional yourchoice,though,andArcticisforthcomingin way,usingaseparatepump,radiatorandfittings, highlightingthesechoices. youdusuallybelookingatanother100orsoin Ontheplusside,theHybridscoolingwasexcellent customparts,soitscertainlyacheaperoption. anditsGPUdeltaTof26Cwasamassive24Ccooler Arctichassomefancyclaimsforittoo,including thanourGeForceGTX6803GBsreferencecooler.The a20CdropinGPUtemperaturecomparedtoa idletemperaturewas8Clowertoo,andunderfull standardNvidiaGeForceGTX6803GBcooler,and load,theAcceleroHybridwasnoticeablyquietertoo, muchquieteroperationtoo. althoughthepumpseemedtogurgleonoccasions. Thekitincludesavastarrayofscrews andheatsinks.Thisnearlyhadusintears THE GPU DELTA T OF 26C WAS A atfirst,butthereasonforthisisthatthe MASSIVE 24C COOLER THAN OUR AcceleroHybridiscompatiblewithavast GTX 680S REFERENCE COOLER arrayofreference-designgraphicscards outofthebox,includingthoseinthe CONCLUSION GeForceGTX400,500and600-series,aswellas WhiletheAcceleroHybridofferssignificantgainsin AMDsRadeonHD7800-series,6900-seriesand thecoolingandnoisedepartments,wehaveserious 5800-series.Meanwhile,theradiatorisahalf-height reservationsaboutitsinstallationprocess.Itswortha 120mmaffairandusesa120mmPWM-controlledfan lookifyoureshortofcashandhappytopersevere, thatcanspinupto1,350rpm,completewithafluid butwestronglyrecommendconsideringafullwaterdynamicbearing.Theradiatorisattachedtoa coolingkitinstead.Itmightcostmore,butyoullend combinedcoolingplateandpumpthatssecuredto upfeelingconsiderablylessstressed. alargeshroudthatsportsanangled80mmfan, ANTONY LEATHER enablingittodirectairflowthroughtheshroud. TofittheAcceleroHybrid,youllneedtoremoveyour graphicscardscooler,andthenfittheappropriate heatsinkstotheRAMandVRMsthesewillbecooled GEFORCE GTX 680 3GB bythe80mmfanintheshroud.Thesedontattach Reference cooler 15C 50C usingtheusualadhesivepadsthough.Instead,you Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7C 26C needtouseatubeofthermaladhesive,sobewarned: 0 15 30 45 60 youmightnotbeabletogetthemoffafteritsets. Idle Load Lower is better ThecoolingplateissecuredtotheGPUcoreviaa backplate.Thissoundedeasytousatfirst,butitsone ofthemostawkwardcoolerstofitweveseen,dueto thetinypins,threadedholesandtheneedforsomany COOLING 39 / 40 partstobelinedupatonce. Afterhalf-an-hourfilledwithexpletivesand DESIGN 10 / 30 frustration,wefinallymanagedtosecurethecontact VALUE 18 / 30 plateandinstalledtheradiatorinafree120mmfan OVERALL FITTING BAD mountattherearofourtestcase.Likeotherall-in-

results

customPC

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Thorough testing and research is the key to evaluating whether a product is worth buying, and deciding whether or not theres a better alternative

We judge CPUs on whether they offer sufficient speed for the price. Part of a CPUs speed score comes from how overclockable it is. Every type of CPU is tested in the same PC, so all results are directly comparable.

Intel LGA1155

AsusMaximus IVGene-Z

4GB of Corsair 4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

AMD FM1 AMDFM1

MSI A75MA-G55

4GB of Corsair 4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

AMDSocket AM3+

AsusCrosshairIV Formula

4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

NvidiaGeForce GTX5903GB

120GBPatriot Wildfire

Windows7 64-bit

TESTS: WeusetheCustomPCMediaBenchmarks,CinebenchR11.5,WPrimeandCrysis.Wealsotesttheresultantpowerdrawofthetest
PCwiththeCPUinstalled.ThesetestsrevealabroadrangeofperformancecharacteristicsfortheCPU,fromimageeditingtogamingand videoencodingto3Drendering.WerunallthetestswiththeCPUatstockspeedandagainwhenoverclockedtoitshighestfrequency.

Graphics cards are mainly evaluated on how fast they are for their price. However, we also consider the efficacy and quietness of the cooler. Every graphics card is tested in the same PC, so all results are directly comparable.

3.3GHzIntelCore i5-2500K

4GBCorsair1,600MHz DDR3

Asus P8P67 Rev 3 AsusP8P67Rev3

Windows 7 64-bit Windows764-bit SP1

The graphics card Thegraphicscard werereviewing

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HOW WE TEST

2.66GHzIntelCore2 DuoE6750

2GBofCorsair 1,066MHzDDR2

250GBSamsung SpinPointP120S

AsusP5KDeluxe WiFi-AP

Ourbenchmarksuite simulateshowpeople reallyusePCs,anda higherscoreisbetter. Youcandownload thesuitefrom www.tinyurl.com/ benchies

Motherboards are evaluated on everything from layout and features to overclockability and value for money. Every motherboard is tested with the same components, so all results are directly comparable.

Someproductsare gloriouslyoverthe top.Theseitemsof excellentoverkill earnourExtreme Ultraaward. PremiumGrade productsare utterlydesirable wedeatnothing butbeansuntilwe couldaffordthem. Productsworthy oftheProfessional awardmake you andyourbusiness appeareven moreawesome. Approvedproducts arethosethatdoa greatjobforthe money;theyrethe cannypurchasefor agreatPC.

Intel Core IntelCore i7-3770K

Motherboard ontest

8GBofCorsair 8GB of Corsair 1,600MHzDDR3

AMD A8-3850 AMDA8-3850

Motherboard 4GBofCorsair ontest 1,600MHzDDR3

AMDPhenom Motherboard IIX61100TBE ontest

4GBofCorsair 1,600MHzDDR3

NvidiaGeForce GTX5903GB*

2TB Western Digital 2TBWesternDigital CaviarBlack

Windows 7 Windows7 64-bit

TESTS: WeusetheCustomPCMediaBenchmarksandseveralgames,andalsotest thespeedsoftheboardsSATAports.Wetrytooverclockeverymotherboardwereview bytestingforamaximumQPI,baseclockorHTTaswellasoverclockingtheCPUtoits maximumair-cooledlevel.WerunourtestsatstockspeedandwiththeCPUoverclocked.


*Pleasenote:WetestedAMDFM1motherboardsusingtheon-boardgraphics,nottheNvidiaGeForceGTX5903GB

TESTS: ByusingthefastPCdetailedonthe left,wecanbesurethatanylimitationswesee areduetothegraphicscardontest.Wetestthe fourgames(right)attheirmaximumdetail settings,intheirhighestDirectXmode,andat threeresolutions.High-endcardsshouldbeable tosustainplayableframeratesat2,560x1,600, while1,920x1,080ismoreimportantformidrangecards; wenolongertestat1,680x1,050 because1,920x1,080issocheap.Wealsotryto overclockeverygraphicscardwetesttoseewhat differencethismakestothecardsperformance.
WorldMags.net

Forthosegadgets andgizmosthat reallyimpressus, orthatwecantlive without,theresthe CustomKitaward.

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49

Custom Kit
CARD GAME
Themostrevealingstorywecantellyouabout WarhammerInvasionisthat,inthefewweeksweve hadit,weveplayedatleast25or30gamesofit.Itsabeautifully balanced(andimportantly,quick)game,witheachofthefour factiondecksintheboxofferingplentyofcharacter,whilealso beingbothbalancedandcompetitive.However,therulebook canbealittlevagueinplaces(wererunningwitharoundeight houserulingsalready),andalotcandependonwhatyoure giveninyourfirsthand,butitsagamethatregularlyservesup memorablemomentsandtensefinishes.Atonly22,andwith loadsofexpansionsavailabletoo,itsasteal.Wehaventplayed agamethisgoodsinceAnkh-MorporkbackinIssue100. PG CULTISTS BLOODTHIRSTER
Price 22 inc VAT Supplier www.gameslore.com Manufacturer www.fantasyflightgames.com

Written by Paul Goodhead Seen something worthy of appearing in Custom Kit? Send suggestions to paul_goodhead@dennis.co.uk

We check out the latest gadgets, gizmos and geek toys


WARHAMMER INVASION

01

EAR BUDS

SHARKFIN SELF-MOLDING EARBUDS


ears.Inanidealworld,wedallhave custommouldedmodels,butuntilthat time,theSharkfinbudsdothejobvery well.Essentiallyamouldableputtythat youwraparoundyourearphonesand thenshoveinyoureartoset,thebuds didagreatjobofcuttingoutexternal noisefromourearphonesnoteven strenuousexercisecouldshiftthem, thankstothecustomfit.Obviouslyyou cantusethemonotherearphones oncetheyreset,andyoullneed anothersetifyoudontgetthemright firsttime,butthatshardlyamajor crimewhentheycostjust5. PG GENERIC CUSTOM
Price 5 inc VAT Supplier www.advancedmp3players.co.uk Manufacturer www.vdera.com

03 Thequalityofyourearphonesdoesntmatterajotiftheyhave poorlyshapedorsizedearbudsthatcontinuallyfalloutofyour

SCREEN CLEANER

STICKEMS

somanypeoplespendhundredsofpoundsonaphoneortablet, andthencleanthescreenbysteamingitupwiththeirbreath,and wipingitwithat-shirt.For5,Stickemsareacleveralternative. Theirtackybacksticksthemfirmlytothebackofaphone,tabletor laptoplid,andtheirmicrofibreuppermeanstheycanbepeeledoff, usedtobuffthescreen,thenstuckbackinplace.Thedesignswe weresentfortestingarealittlecutesy,butotherlesscartoonish designsareavailable. PG FILTHY CLEAN
Price 45 inc VAT Supplier www.theacessoriescrowd.com Manufacturer www.stickems.co.uk

Findingabetterwaytokeepscreenscleanisntgoingto 02 changetheworld,butweadmitwefinditalittlestrangethat

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CUSTOM KIT

TABLET

GOOGLE NEXUS 7

ACTUAL SIZE

allknowitsidentity.However,timesare changing,asGooglesNexus7hashit theheadlines.ManufacturedforGoogle byAsus,theNexus7isarguablyavery differentbeasttotheiPad(as demonstratedbyitspriceandsize),but readontofindoutwhyitstillhasthetools toupsettheApplecart. PG 8GB 16GB
Price 159/199 inc VAT Supplier http://play. google.com Manufacturer www.google.com

Onlyonecompanyhaspreviously 04 generatedtablethysteria,andyou

TheNexus7inIPSscreenisa majorboonforatabletatthisprice, immediatelymakingtheNexus7 standoutagainsttheopposition.Its resolutionof1,280x800meansthat itsabletodisplay720pHDcontent and,whileitspixeldensityof216ppi isntashighasthatofthenewiPad, itsstillverydifficulttomakeout individualpixelsineverydayusage. ThescreenisfedbyanNvidiaTegra3 chipset,whichhasaquad-coreARM CPUrunningat1.3GHz,plusan integratedGPUwith12stream processorsfor3Dgaming.

SCREEN

A4,325mAhbatteryisnestledunder thedimpled,rubberisedrearofthe tablet,andthisisagainanunusually high-specinclusionfortheprice. This,coupledwiththefactthatthe Tegra3chipsethasafifthlow-power CPUcoreforuseduringlow-intensity tasks,meantthatwecouldrunH.264 video(whichishardware-decoded) ontheNexus7forasolid10.5hours onjustasinglecharge.Onefeature thatwontbeadrainonthebatteryis mobiledata,however.TheNexus7 lacksany3Gcapabilities,soyoull havetopre-loadanymapsormedia youllneedwhentravelling,unless youfindahotspotorarehappyto tetherittoaphone.

BATTERY

TheNexus7usesAndroid4.1,andinteractingwiththenewOSisabeautifullysmooth experiencethatjustoozesclass;thisiscertainlythemostpolishedversionofAndroidweve seenyet.Itsalsothemostmedia-focusedbuildthehomescreenhasshortcutstoyourmedia asstandard,withrecommendationsonwhatyoumightliketobuyfromtheswishPlayStore. Withthisfocusinmind,the8GBcapacityofthismodelhastobeseenasadrawback,especially whentabletgameinstallsarebecominglargerallthetime.Asaresult,wedrecommend stumpinguptheextra50forthe16GBversion,whichiscurrentlytheAndroidtablettobeat.

ANDROID 4.1

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MARVELS
izeisnteverything,asthesayinggoes.Infact,moreandmoremini-ITX productsarebeingreleased,enablingustobuildsmallPCswithout compromisingonhardwarechoices,overclockingabilityorcooling. However,sincemini-ITXwaspreviouslythepreserveoflow-power boardsbasedonVIAEPIA,IntelAtomorlow-powerAMDCPUs,theresconfusion overwhethermini-ITXisagenuinehigh-endcontender,orasmallfeatherweight. Forthisreason,wevegatheredthreeofthemosthighlyspeccedmini-ITXZ77 motherboards,aswellasfourcompatiblecases,tofindtheidealcombinationfor buildingacompact,powerfulPC.Wellproveyoudontneedafull-sizedboardto achievehigh-endoverclocks,oracolossalcasetoaccommodateanambitious coolingsetup,andwellevenshowyouhowtobuildamini-ITXPCtoo.
HARRY BUTLER AND ANTONY LEATHER

Miniature
S

Why build a full-height monolith when you can build a high-end PC in a pint-sized chassis? We rounded up a load of decent-spec mini-ITX cases and motherboards to find the best kit

54 BitFenixProdigy 56 FractalDesignNode304 58 LianLiPC-TU200 60 SilverStoneFT03-Mini 64 ASRockZ77E-ITX 66 P8Z77-IDeluxe 68 ZotacZ77-ITXWiFi 71 Graphs 73 Featuretables 74 Buildawater-cooledmini-ITXmonster

reviewed this month

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Totestthemotherboards,weusedanIntelCorei7-3770KCPU,a GeForceGTX6802GBand4GBofPatriot1,600MHzDDR3memory. Totestperformance,werantheCPCMediaBenchmarkssuite, alongsideourownArmaIIbenchmark,beforeoverclockingthe boardsandtestingagain. Totestthecases,wefittedthemwithanAsusP8Z77-IDeluxe (seep66),alongwithanIntelCorei5-2500Koverclockedto4.4GHz,

how we test

usingavcoreof1.3V. Alongsidethis,weuseda140mmEnermax Eco82+620WPSU,aGeForceGTX5701.3GBand2GBofKingston 1,600MHzDDR3memory.TocooltheCPU,weusedaZalmanlowprofileCNPS8900CPUcooler.Meanwhile,theGTX5701.3GBs coolingfanwaslockedat70percentspeed,andthesystemwas placedunderthermalloadusingacombinationofPrime95and UniginesHeavengraphicsbenchmark.

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BITFENIX Prodigy
PHOENIX Brilliant cooling; exible fan mounts; room for dual-120mm radiator; just 65 ASHES Comparatively large; wobbly FyberFlex base; side panels rattle slightly

Not without faults, but beats the competition for just 65

HOW MUCH?
Price65incVAT Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk Manufacturer www.bitfenix.com

itFenixhasclearlyapproacheditsnew mini-ITXcase,theProdigy,withafocuson flexibilityandcapability,asopposedtogetting everythingintothesmallestpossiblebox.This meansthatitsthelargestandheaviestcaseontest(it isntfaroffSilverStonescompactMicro-ATXTJ08-Ein thevolumestakesat26litres).Italsoboastscooling capabilitiesofcasestwiceitssize,whilestillbeing undeniablysmallandcompact. TheProdigysexteriorisdominatedbyitscurved FyberFlexhandles,fittedtoboththetopandbottomof thecorechassis.Doublingashandlesandcasefeet, theFyberFlexmaterialisincrediblyhard-wearingand, truetoitsname,veryflexible,whileremainingstiff enoughtodoubleaseitheracasefootorcarryhandle. However,theuseofFyberFlexinthepermanentcase feetmeansthattheProdigywobblesalarminglywith thelightesttouch.Thankfully,theFyberFlexpanelsare removable,allowingyoutosubstitutethemforcase feetofyourown,albeitataddedexpense. RemovethehandlesandtheProdigyisntthatmuch largerthancompetingchassis,yetitoffersagreatdeal ofcoolingpotential.Themeshfrontfascia,secured withpush-pins,hidesagrilled frontthatcanmountahostof coolingfans,from120mmto 230mm,withoutcompromising anyoftheinteriorfittings.The dustfilter-equippedroofalsohas mountsforapairof120mmfans, whiletherearfanmountcan accommodateeithera120mm or140mmfan. Theresultisacasecapable ofmountingthekindofcooling equipmentyoudexpectinafullsizedtowerchassis,butinabox littlebiggerthanadesktopsubwoofer.Evenbetter,thepairof roof-mounted120mmfan mountscanaccommodatea full-depth,dual120mmwatercoolingradiator,something thatevennewfull-sizedcases suchastheFractalDesignDefine R4(seep42),areunabletooffer. Asstandard,BitFenixpairsthe

casewithtwo120mmfins,oneofwhichactsasafront intakewhiletheotherisarearexhaust. Alongsideitsarrayofcoolingfanmounts,the Prodigyisalsoextensivelyventilated.Theleftside panelisperforated,asisthefloorofthecase,although onlythelattersportsaremovabledustfilterforthe floorsPSUmount.Oddly,thecasesfrontpanel connectorsarefoundontheright-handsidepanel, withapairofUSB3ports,headphoneandmicrophone jacks,andbothpowerandresetbuttonsmatchingthe connectorarraysofthecompetition. However,thecasesexteriorisntwithoutfault,and weweresurprisedtofindthesidepanelswerealittle loosearoundtheirfrontfittingpoints,andtherefore hadatendencytorattle.SimilarlytotheFyberFlexfeet, itsanannoyingfaultthatseasilyremediedwithsome sparerubberspacersortape,butitstilldetractedfrom whatisotherwiseasolidandwellput-togethercase. Removingtheaforementionedsidepanels,the Prodigysinteriorisincrediblyroomyforamini-ITX chassis,placingthemotherboardtraydirectlyabove thePSUmount.Despitetheopeninterior,theProdigy canmountfive3.5indrivesinapairoffullyremovable

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WITH OUR TEST KIT FITTED AND UNDER THERMAL LOAD, THE PRODIGY MADE THE OTHER CASES ON TEST LOOK PEDESTRIAN

drivescages(althoughyoullneedtoremovethe upperthreemountsifyouhaveagraphicscardthats longerthan180mm).Therearealsofourmore2.5in drivemountsdottedaroundtheinteriorofthecase, aswellasaremovable5.25indrivemountinthecases roof,theremovalofwhichisrequiredformountinga roofradiator. Thedecisiontoplacethemotherboardflatinthe caseontopofthePSUcagemeanstheres175mm ofCPUcoolerheadroomtoo,soinstallingourtest systemwasasnap.ThePSUcagedoublesasaplace totuckyourunusedcaptivePSUcablingtooand,asits equippedwithcable-routeingholes,cabletidyingis straightforward,helpingtokeepairflow-interrupting cablesoutoftheway. Withourtestkitfittedandunderthermalload,the Prodigymadetheothercasesontestlookpedestrian, withaCPUdeltaTof43CandaGPUdeltaTof48C bothresultswerethebestontestbysomedistance. Infact,theGPUtemperaturewas10Ccooler thanthenextbestcase,givingtheProdigyahuge advantage.Notonlythat,butthenoisefromthestock pairoffanswaspleasantlyunobtrusive,evenatfull

speed.WiththeProdigyshighlyexpandablecooling, theresplentyofroomtoimproveittoo.

CONCLUSION
TheBitFenixProdigyisntwithoutitsflaws,namelyits wobblyFyberFlexfeetandslightlyloosesidepanels, buttheseissuescanberemediedeasilyandcheaply. Italsocompensatesfortheseproblems withitsgreat coolingcapabilities,andtheflexibilitytomounthighendwater-coolingequipmentshouldyouwish(see p74).Whatsmore,buildingasysteminsidethe Prodigyisstraightforward,anditsavailablefora bargainpriceof65.WhileitisntthesmallestminiITXcaseontest,itsundoubtedlythebest. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

28 / 30 19 / 20 24 / 30 19 / 20 OVERALL
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FRACTAL DESIGN Node 304


Well priced; compact; good CPU cooling; room for all-inone liquid coolers

Well-made, compact and affordable, but GPU cooling is lacking


NODAL

NOODLE PSU cables conict with graphics card; poor GPU cooling

hileFractalDesignsDefine(seep42) andArcseriesofcaseshaveconsistently impressedoverthelastfewyears,the Node304isthecompanysfirstmini-ITX chassistosupportfullATXpowersuppliesandlarge graphicscards.Lookingtostrikeabalancebetween thesuper-teenySilverStoneFT03-Mini(seep60)and theheftierBitFenixProdigy(seep54),theNode304 displaysFractalDesignstrademarkunderstated design,withitsbrushed-aluminiumfrontfascia. Thecurvedfrontplateenablesventedsectionsin thetopandbottomofthefasciatoallowdust-filtered airflowtopassthroughapairof90mmintakefans locatedbehindit.Meanwhile,theresabluepower LEDsitsatthebottomright,withapairofUSB3ports, apowerbutton,andtherequisite3.5mmmicrophone andheadphonejackstuckedaroundtherightsideof thefascia. Theexteriorisalsodottedwithventedsectionsto improveairflow;alongdust-filter-equippedventruns alongtheleftsidepanel,servicingtheGPUfitted behindit,whileasmallunfilteredventontherightside panel,andafilteredventonthecasesfloor,servethe laterallymountedPSU.Meanwhile,a140mmcooling fansitsattherear,aswellasanintakefantoprovide airflowoverthemotherboard.Thismeansthatthe Node304reliesentirelyonitsthreeintakefansand thepositivepressuretheycreatetoexpelhotair.

Theexternalpanellingismadefromasinglesheet ofmetal,whichslidesoffinonepiecetorevealthe internalframe.Themotherboardisfittedtothefloor ofthecaseattherear,withthePSUplacedlaterally acrossthefrontofthechassisinsideasmallinternal bracket.Tokeepthe3-pinpowersockettotherear, FractalDesignhasincludedaninternal90-degree extensioncable,withtheventedsectionsinthecases exteriorprovidingplentyofairflowforthePSU. Meanwhile,harddrivestorageisprovidedbyatrio ofwhitedrivehangerssuspendedabovethePSU. Drivesarefittedusingrubbervibration-dampening grommets,andeachcaddyalsosupports2.5indrives shouldyouwishtofitasextetofSSDs.However,the leftharddrivecagemustberemovedinorderto accommodatefull-sizedgraphicscards;thismeans that,withafull-specificationsystem,youllonlytobe abletofitfourdrives.Bravely,FractalDesignhasalso chosentoditchthe5.25inmount,notevenofferinga slimlineopticaldrivefitting;however,consideringthe decreasingrelevanceofphysicalmedia,wecant disagreewiththatdecision. WiththePSUandstorageallatthefront,Fractal Designhasleft165mmofheadroomforCPUcoolers. Withtherearfanmountrightnexttothemotherboard, itsalsoideallyplacedforsingle-radiatorall-in-one liquidcoolerkits.However,therearefewerpositives regardingthePSUandgraphicscardarrangement,

HOW MUCH?
Price72incVAT Supplierwww.ebuyer.co.uk (availableearlySeptember) Manufacturer www.fractal-design.com

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EACH CADDY SUPPORTS 2.5IN DRIVES, SHOULD YOU WISH TO FIT A SEXTET OF SSDs

aslongerGPUswillstrayintothecablesofevenshort PSUs.Officially,Fractalstatesthatcardslongerthan 170mmwillconflictwithPSUslongerthan160mm,as thePSUthenextendsintothegraphicscardsspace, butyoucanfitamuchlargergraphicscardinsideifyou useashorterPSU.However,our140mmtestPSUs cablingsoonfounditselfcoileduprightnexttoour 267mm-longGeForceGTX5701.3GB.Thisblocked airflowtotheendofthecard,anditsevendifficultto avoidthiswithafullymodularPSU,asthetwo componentsareinsuchcloseproximity. Otherthantheconflictbetweenthegraphicscard andPSU,buildingaPCinsidetheNode304provedto beverysimple.Withnothingmountedintheexterior shell,youcanperformalltherequiredcable-tidying androuteingwithease,andthefront-panel connectorsarelongenoughtosnakerightaroundthe motherboard.Withnosidepanelsorroofinplace,its easytoreachinsideandtuckcablesandconnectors intoplacetoo,somethingthatcertainlywasntthe casewithconfinedchassissuchastheLianLi PC-TU200(seep58). Despiteitstrioofintakefans,however,theNode 304scoolingleftusalittledeflated.CPUcoolingwas decent,withadeltaTof46Cbeing3Ccoolerthan eithertheSilverStoneFT03-MiniorLianLiPC-200,but 3CwarmerthanthatoftheBitFenixProdigy.Itwas

GPUcoolingthatsouredthesituation,though,witha deltaTof63Cbeing15ChotterthantheProdigyit wasalsothehighestresultontest.Allthreefanswere reasonablyquiet,buttheproximityofthePSUand GPU,andtheresultingcablebuild-up,clearly impactedthegraphicscardscooling,despitethe largeside-panelvent.Basically,thisisreallyonlya caseforsmallgraphicscards,whicheverPSUyoure using,andthisgivesitadistinctdisadvantage.

CONCLUSION
WithFractalDesignstypicalminimalistlooksand sensiblelayout,wehadhighhopesfortheNode304. Sadly,itspoorGPUcoolingletitdown,althoughit rallieswellwithsolidCPUcoolingthankstoitstrioof coolingfans.WhiletheNode304soverallbuildquality issuperior,theBitFenixProdigyischeaper,coolerand moreflexible,leavingtheNode304insecondplace. HB

COOLING 20 / 30 FEATURES 15 / 20 DESIGN 27 / 30 VALUE 16 / 20 OVERALL


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LIAN LI PC-TU200
FORD Great build quality; very light; pre-tted handle LABEOUF Poor all-round cooling; no extra fan mounts; expensive; hotswap bays dont t 2.5in drives

Gorgeous and well-built, but hot and expensive as well

ianLiwasoneofthefirstmanufacturersto producemini-ITXcasesaspartofitscore productline,matchingitslegendary aluminiumconstructionandbuildqualitywith theemergingminiformfactor.Oneofitslatestcases, theAdventurer-brandedPC-TU200,hasabasic appearancethatmatchesLianLislong-serving PC-Q08,withasleekflight-caselookandimproved rigiditytomatch. Madealmostentirelyfromaluminium,theTU200 isextremelylightatjust3.49kg.LianLihasalso reinforcedeachcornerwithmachinedaluminium guards,whicharerivetedintoplacearoundthecore chassistoreinforceandprotectthecaseduring transit.AddingcredotoitsAdventurertagistheplastic carryhandleonthecasesroof,enablingyoutoeasily grabthecasereadytocartofftoaLANparty. Meanwhile,side-panelandroofventingis conspicuousbyitsabsence,withalargeventedareaat thefrontcaseallowingairflowintothesingle140mm intakefan.Theresalsoaventilatedsectioninthebase toprovideairflowtothefloor-mountedgraphicscard, butonlythefrontventisfittedwithadustfilter,andifit requirescleaning,youllneedtoremovethefan. Elsewhereonthecasesfrontfasciaisaprestealthed5.25indrivebay,acommoninclusionwith

HOW MUCH?
Price141incVAT Supplier www.specialtech.co.uk Manufacturer www.lian-li.com

LianLiscases,andatouchthatmakesacaselook muchmorecompleteandstylishthanabaredriveface plate.Meanwhile,afrontpanelwithapairofUSB3 ports,aneSATAport,and3.5mmmicrophoneand headphonejacks islocatedatthebottomofthe casesfront,whilecombinationpower/powerLED andreset/harddriveLEDbuttonssitinthemiddleof thefrontfascia. Withthereinforcedaluminiumplatesaroundthe casescornersandalongitslength,theresno immediatelyobviouswaytoremovetherecessedside panels.Thisisachievedviaapairofleversattherearof thecase,securedwiththumbscrewsthatprytheleft andrightpanelsoutoftool-freeclipsinsidethecase. Itsaslickprocess,enablingthecasessidestoappear smoothandfreeofanyfittings,althoughyoullneedto pullthepanelsfreeoncetheleverspopacornerout. Insidethecase,themotherboardisfittedtoa motherboardtray,ratherthandirectlytothesidepanel aswiththePC-Q08,withafour-drive3.5inhot-swap drivecageonstorageduty.Thedrivecageisfully removable,butitscleverlyplacedsothatagraphics card,mountedalongthecasesfloor,canfitbeneathit withouthavingtocompromiseonstoragespace.Lian Lievenincludesarubber-cappedgraphicscard holdertonegateboard-bendonlongercards. However,thehot-swap bays,whilekittedout withexcellentvibrationdampeningmountsfor 3.5indrives,dontquite fit2.5indrives.Asthey dontreachthehot-swap connectors,youllneed toconnectthesetotheir cablesyourself;an annoyingtaskthat requiressomeserious fingerdexteritytowork aroundtheexistinghotswapfittings. Meanwhile,theres spaceforaPSUwitha maximumdepthof 140mm,whichyoumount byslidingitintothebackof thecaseandfittingitover

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LIAN LI EVEN INCLUDES A RUBBER-CAPPED GRAPHICS CARD HOLDER TO NEGATE BOARDBEND ON LONGER CARDS

thetopofthemotherboard,althoughLianLiseems ambiguousaboutwhichwayaroundthePSUshould bemounted. Itsownwebsiteshowsimagesofthe PSUwithitsfanmountedtowardsthesidepanel, whilethemanualindicatesitshouldbefittedwiththe fantowardsthemotherboard.Regardless,theres justenoughroomforairflowoneitherside.Fittingthe PSUcanbetricky,though,asthemountmeansthe majorityofcableswillonlybeintroducedatthefinalfit, makingitdifficulttoroutecablesoutofthewayinside. WithaPSUmounteddirectlyabovethe motherboard,CPUcoolerheadroomislimitedtojust 80mmtoo,butthisisstillenoughforstockcoolersor low-profileaftermarketcoolers,suchasourtest systemsZalmanCNPS8900. DuetothecablingconstraintsofaddingthePSU last,however,buildingaPCinsidetheTU200wasa littletroublesomeandwhenwedfinished,cooling abilitywasntstellar.Withitssingle140mmintake fan,theTU200managedaCPUdeltaTof49Cthe hottestofanycaseontest,whileitsGPUdeltaTof 58Cwasalsoonthewarmside,althoughperfectly

stable.Thefrontcoolingfansnoiseprovedslightly intrusivetooand,withnoadditionalfanmounts, theresnowaytoimprovethesituationeither.

CONCLUSION
WhiletheLianLiPC-TU200certainlylooksthepart, deckedoutingorgeousbrushedaluminium,itstricky tobuildinside,anditofferspoorcoolingthankstoits lackoffanmountsandventing.Whatsmore,at140, itcostsmorethandoublethepriceoftheBitFenix Prodigy(seep54);despiteitsaluminiumcharms,the TU200isapoorchoiceforthoselookingtobuildafullspecriginamini-ITXcase. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

21 / 30 11 / 20 25 / 30 11 / 20 OVERALL
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Stunning design, but limited to SFX PSUs and expensive


MINI COOPER Incredibly small; great aluminium construction; innovative design MINI DISC Only supports SFX PSUs; expensive; unimpressive GPU cooling; no extra fan mounts

SILVERSTONE FT03-Mini

ilverStonesstandardFT03isoneofthebest micro-ATXchassisoutthere,combininga 90-degree-rotatedlayoutwithaningenious layoutthatfitstogetherlikeagameof componentTetris.TheFT03-Minilookstogoone better,usingamini-ITXdesigntosqueezeafullpowersystemintoassmallacontaineraspossible. Withatotalvolumeofjust17.6litres,theFT03-Mini isthesmallestcaseontestandhasclosetohalfthe volumeofitsbiggersibling.Itsverticaldesignalso givesitatinydesktopfootprintofjust189x235mm.As usualforacaseunderSilverStonesFortressbrand, stylingisrestrainedandminimalist,withallfoursides ofthecasefinishedingorgeousaluminiumthatsbeen anodisedandsandblasted. Lookunderneath,andyoullfindaclip-ondustfilter protectingthecasesonlyfanmounta140mmfloor mountequippedwithoneofSilverStonesown140mm

HOW MUCH?
Price103incVAT Supplierwww.scan.co.uk Manufacturer www.silverstonetek.com

AirPenetratorfans.Thesefansuseaspecialframeto channelairintoatightcone,allowingeffectiveairflow topenetratedeepinsidethechassis. Ontop,themotherboardrearI/OandPSUexhaust arerecessedslightly.Thisistoallowcablingtobe tuckedbeneaththecasesdetachableplasticroof grille,keepingcablemesstoaminimum.Meanwhile, theplasticfasciaclipsfirmlyintoplace,withafront panelsittinginaraisedcentralsection,andfeaturing twoUSB3ports,powerandresetbuttons,and microphoneandheadphonejacks. TakingtheFT03-Miniapartisabizarreexperience fortheuninitiated,however,asallthreedetachable panels(thefront,rearandside)canberemoved withouttheuseofascreworclip.Allaresecuredby push-pins,andthearrangementofthesemakesit impossibletofitthewrongpanelinthewrongplace. Eachpanelclickssatisfyinglyintoplace,resultingin thecasessmooth,sleekandtool-freeexterior.It alsomakestakingtheFT03-Miniapartadoddle; pullingthepanelsfreetakesseconds,revealing thecorechassisframeworkbeneath. AswithSilverStonesRV03(seeIssue103,p70), themotherboardmounthasbeenrotatedby90 degrees,withtherearI/Opointingupwards.The boardissecuredtothemotherboardtrayabovethe casesonenon-removableexteriorpanel,witha drivebaycagefittedintotheframeworkalongthe oppositesideofthecase.Fittingthemotherboard issimpleinanemptycase,withtheotherhardware subsequentlyaddedaroundtheboard.Thefrontpanelcablesarealsoperfectlycuttolooparound theboardbeforeconnecting,andthefloormounted140mmcoolingfanblowsairdirectly throughtheheartofthechassis. However,therehavebeencompromisesmade inordertofitadecent-specPCintosuchasmall box.Mostimportantly,theFT03-Miniisonlyableto accommodateanSFX-sizedPSU;thisisntan issueifyourebuyinganewsystem,butitisa problemifyouplantouseoldATXparts.SFX PSUsaremuchsmaller,butalsoofferlowerpeak wattageasaresult.However,evenanoverclocked mini-ITXsystemequippedwithaGeForceGTX680 2GBwontpullmorethan400Wunderpeakload, andSilverStoneprovideduswithits450WStrider SFXPSUforourtesting.

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EACH PANEL CLICKS SATISFYINGLY INTO PLACE, RESULTING IN THE CASES SMOOTH, SLEEK AND TOOL-FREE EXTERIOR

AsthePSUisfittedabovethemotherboard,CPU coolerheadroomislimitedtojust78mm,butthisis stillsufficientforstockcoolersorlow-profilecoolers suchasourtestsystemsZalmanCNPS8900.Asthe PSUispositioneddirectlyoverthemotherboard, connectingcablesissimple;thePSUissmallerthan theboard,andaccesstotheedge-mountedpower connectorsisunhindered.Connectingpowertodrives isalittlemoredifficult,though,andyoullneedtowire upyourstoragedevicesbeforefittingtheremovable drivecage.However,theresonlyroomforaslotloadingslimlineopticaldrive,asingle3.5indriveand apairof2.5indrives. Meanwhile,agraphicscardupto254mmlong cansitbehindthefrontofthecase,separatingitfrom therestoftheFT03-Minisinternalmachinations. However,asitsalmostflushwiththesidepanel,it benefitslittlefromthe140mmfanbelow,whichis mountedcentrally. Sadly,withourtestsystemfitted,theFT03trailed whenitcametocooling.ACPUdeltaTof48Cwas stableifunspectacular,whileaGPUdeltaTof58C matchedthecoolingofthesimilarlyequippedLian

PC-TU200(seep58).BothtrailedtheBitFenixProdigy (seep54)significantly,especiallywithGPUcooling theProdigywas10Ccooler.

CONCLUSION
TheSilverStoneFT03-Minisabilitytoaccommodate full-sizedhardware(withsomeconcessionsinthe formoftheSFXPSU)intosuchasmallspaceisa remarkablefeat.However,atover100,italsohasa highpricetag,andunspectacularcoolingtoboot.If yourelookingforthesmallestpossiblegamingPC thentheFT03-Miniistheeasychoice.Ifyourelooking forflexibility,featuresandcooling,however,the Prodigywins. HB

COOLING FEATURES DESIGN VALUE

22 / 30 12 / 20 25 / 30 13 / 20 OVERALL
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AVAILABLE FROM:
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Great-looking and very overclockable


Great overclocker; good looks; decent EFI

ASROCK Z77E-ITX
POWER TOOL

HAND TOOL Slightly cramped PCB; Asus still has superior EFI

HOW MUCH?
Price123incVAT Manufacturer www.asrock.com Supplier www.overclockers.co.uk

ithitsgun-metalgreycolourscheme, golddetailsanddark-brownPCB, ASRocksZ77E-ITXlooksstunning. ASRockhasoptedfora6+2powerphase design,whilethePCBissurprisinglydevoidoflarge heatsinks,withjustasinglechipsetheatsink,anda smallstackontheVRMsbehindtheI/Oports. Layoutisgenerallyproblem-freetoo,althoughthe 12-pinEPS12VconnectoriswedgedbetweentheVRM heatsink,batteryandI/Oports,alongwiththecables fortheWiFimodulenearby,whichisatightsqueeze. Otherthanthis,therearentanymajorissues.Thetwo SATA3GbpsandtwoSATA6Gbpsportsarelocatedat theedgeofthePCB,alongwiththeUSB3headerand 24-pinATXconnector.ThePCI-Egraphicsslotisfree fromobstructions,withtheaudioheadersituatedwell outoftheway,unliketheAsusP8Z77-IDeluxesslot (seep66).TheCPUsocketisrelativelycleartoo, althoughtheEPS12Vconnectormayinterferewith largeheatsinkorwaterblockmounts,asitlaysright ontheedgeofthemarkedexclusionzone. AnmSATAconnectorsitsunderneaththePCBfor connectingsupportedSSDs,whileaminiPCI-Eslotis occupiedbytheon-boardWiFimodule(anantennais includedinthebox),sotheresnospare slotasthereisontheZotacZ77-ITX WiFi(seep68). However,theZ77E-ITXhastwo moreUSB3portsthantheZotac, alongwithaneSATA3Gbps connector,DVIandDisplayPort outputs,andasingleHDMIport. Therearenopowerorreset switches,noraPOSTerrorcode readout,though,whichisashame, althoughyoucanatleastresetthe CMOSusinganI/Opanelswitch. Youmightfindithardtoconnect allyourcasefanstotheZ77E-ITX, however,asitonlyhastwo4-pin fanheaders. Thisisthesamewithallthe boardsontest,though,andlooking atthePCB,itsdifficulttoseewhere ASRockcouldfitanother.Sadly,the boxdidntincludeanymeansof usingthemotherboardsUSB3

headereither,soyoullhavetoinvestinabreakout adaptorifyouneedmorethanthefourUSB3ports ontheI/Opanel.

PERFORMANCE
LiketheZotac,theZ77E-ITXfailedtoTurboBoost allthewayto3.9GHz,onlyreaching3.7GHz,soits performanceresultswere,notsurprisingly,alittle slowerthantheAsusboardatstockspeeds.Itsimage editingscoreof1,775was49pointsoffthepace,while itwas135pointsbehindtheAsusboardinourCPUintensivevideoencodingtest.Overall,itmanaged 2,14070pointsshortoftheAsusboard,butthisistiny inpercentageterms.Meanwhile,itsminimumframe rateinArmaIIwas123fpsroughlyequaltotheZotac, whileitsSATA6Gbpsspeedswereslightlyfaster. TheZ77E-ITXisequippedwithfarmore overclockingandmonitoringfeaturesthanthe Zotac,though,whileitsEFIismucheasiertouseand navigate,althoughAsusstillhasaclearedgehere.Its AXTUtuningsoftwareprovidesbasiccontroloffans andoverclocking,whiletheEFIhasalmosteverything barafullymanualCPUPLLvoltageoption,whichthe Zotacalsolacked.

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ITS MAXIMUM CPU VOLTAGE OF 1.7V IS MORE THAN ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH ENTHUSIASTIC BENCHMARKING
However,itsmaximumCPUvoltageof1.7Vismore thanenoughtodealwithenthusiasticbenchmarking. Weneededafarlesscrazy1.28VtogetourCPUtoits usual4.8GHzabrilliantachievementforthistiny motherboard,anditneededfarlesstweakingthanthe Zotactoo.OurCPUtoppedoutat98CusingaCorsair H100all-in-oneliquidcooleratthesesettings,soheat wasthelimitingfactor.TheEFIalsoincludessome auto-overclockingfeatures,althoughourmanual settingsworkedbetter.WesettheCPUfrequencyto 4.8GHzandtheEFIchangedafewoptions,although thesedidntprovetobestable,withtheCPUvoltageof 1.24Vnotprovidingadequatepower. Eitherway,theoverclocksawexcellentgainsinour benchmarks.Theimageeditingscoreroseby555 pointsto2,330,whileamassive1,171pointswere addedtothevideoencodingtestscoreanincrease of38percent.ArmaIIalsosawsomesizeablegains, withtheminimumframeraterising12fpsto135fps. performanceofmuchlarger,moreexpensive motherboards.Italsohasnearlyeverythingyouneed forapowerfulPC,withtheaddedbonusofWiFi, mSATAandminiPCI-Eports. At123,itsthesamepriceasZotacsZ77offering; however,withitssuperiorEFIandmorebalanced featureset,theZ77E-ITXjustedgestheZotacinto secondplace.Thetrickydecisioniswhencomparing ittotheAsusP8Z77-IDeluxe.Thishasanevenbetter EFI,andsuperiortweakingandmonitoringtools,plus afewadditionalfeatures.Forthisreason,despite costing20more,theAsusisourmini-ITXboardof choice,butifyoudratherputthatmoneytowardsa betterCPUcoolerorhigher-capacitySSD,youllbefar fromdisappointedwiththeASRockZ77E-ITX. AL

CONCLUSION
ASRockhascomeuptrumpswiththeZ77E-ITX.It hasaneasy-to-useEFI,ittookourchiptoitslimit whenoverclockingand,indoingso,matchedthe

SPEED 39 / 45 FEATURES 24 / 30 VALUE 23 / 25

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The best mini-ITX motherboard weve seen


P8 Excellent EFI; loaded with features; great overclocker P45 Same price as good micro-ATX boards; lacks expansion; on-board sound header fouls graphics card

ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe

onsideringitshugeinfluenceinthe motherboardmarket,Asushasbeen strangelyreservedinthemini-ITXarena.Its offeringshavesofarusuallyfocusedonIntel Atom,NvidiaIonorAMDembeddedmodels,rather thanopen-socket,enthusiast-orientatedboards. AllthatchangeswiththeP8Z77-IDeluxe,though. Ifevertherewasamini-ITXfanboysdream motherboard,theAsusP8Z77-IDeluxeistheclosest weveseentoitbecomingareality.Theboardhas 10-phasedigitalpowerdeliveryconsiderablymore thaneithertheASRock(seep64)orZotac(seep68). ThiscomescourtesyofthelargeVRMdaughterboard thatsticksoutatarightangleatthetopofthe motherboard.Itsarareandinherentlyexpensive featuretohaveonamotherboard,butdespitethis extravagance,theP8Z77-IDeluxeonlycosts20 morethanitstwocompetitorsinthisLabstest. ThedaughterboardalsohousestheVRMs,sothey arentpepperedacrossthePCB,furtherreducingits alreadylimitedreal-estate.Asaresult,itemssuchas the8-pinEPS12VconnectorandUSB3headerhave beenlocatedattheedgeofthePCB,ratherthanthe middle.TheresalsoalotofroomaroundtheCPU

socket,sowaterblocksandlargeaircoolersshouldnt havecompatibilityissues. However,thereisonesizeableissue,andthats theon-boardaudioheader.Itslocatedbelowthe backofthePCI-Egraphicsslotand,withacaseaudio connectorpluggedin,itfoulsmostgraphicscards. Ourtestsetuponlyjustworkedwiththeheader connectedbutweneededtouseafairamountofforce onthegraphicscardtomakeitfit,whichcausedthe motherboardtobendintheprocess. Thankfully,theP8Z77-IDeluxedoesntdisappoint intermsoffeatures.IthasmoreUSBportsthanany otherboardontestatotalofeightUSB2andsix USB3,andistheonlyboardtoofferBluetoothas wellasWiFi.LiketheASRock,italsofeaturessingle DisplayPort,HDMIandDVIoutputs,alongwithtwo SATA3GbpsandtwoSATA6Gbpsports,plusan additionalpairofeSATA6Gbpsports. Whileithasnoon-boardpowerorresetbuttons,or POSTerrorcodereadout,theresaCMOSclearswitch ontheI/Opanel,aswellasabuttonforAsusUSB BIOSFlashback,aniftyfeaturethatenablesyouto flashtheBIOSwithoutpoweringontheboardyou dontevenneedaCPUinthesocket. Theboardalsoincludes AsusAISuiteIIsoftware,which includesavastarrayofuseful tweakingandmonitoringutilities. Forexample,FanXpertprovides hands-oncontroloverfans connectedtothemotherboard, andyoucanevensetfanprofile curvesandautomatic temperatureresponses. Meanwhile,theWiFiGo! softwareusestheincluded WiFimoduleandantennasto essentiallyturntheP8Z77-I Deluxeintoawirelessaccess point,enablingyouuseitasa DLNAstreaminghub,andcontrol yourPCusingyourmobilephone.

HOW MUCH?
Price144incVAT Manufacturer http://uk.asus.com Supplierwww.dabs.com

PERFORMANCE
Unliketheothertwoboards testedinthislabstest,theP8Z77-I DeluxemanagedtoTurboBoost

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MINI-ITX MOTHERBOARDS

THE 10-PHASE DIGITAL POWER DELIVERY COMES COURTESY OF A LARGE VRM DAUGHTERBOARD AT THE TOP OF THE MOTHERBOARD
to3.9GHz,givingitaclearleadinourbenchmarksat stockspeedsa127-pointleadinourvideoencoding test,anda70-pointleadoverall. InArmaII,itwas6fps fasterthanthenextbestresulttoo,withaminimum framerateof129fps.ItalsohadthefastestSATA 6Gbpsspeedsontest,althoughonlybyawhisker overtheASRock. OverclockingtheP8Z77-IDeluxewasalso incrediblyeasy.Wesimplyneededtograduallywork ourwayuptoourmaximumCPUfrequency,buteven whenwewerealittleover-zealous,theP8Z77-IDeluxe recoveredinstantly,sowecouldcarryon. Theresawealthofoverclockingoptionstoo,though notquiteasmanyasyoudseeonacurrentAsus RoGmotherboard. Evenso,therewasenoughflexibilitytopushour IntelCorei7-3770Ktoits4.8GHzlimitusinga1.28V vcore.Here,theCPUhadatoastytemperatureof97C atload,butitwasstillperfectlystable.Thisyielded hugegainsinourbenchmarks,withtheoverallscore risingfrom2,210to2,868,whiletheArmaIIminimum framerateroseto135fps.

CONCLUSION
TheAsusP8Z77-IDeluxeisexpensiveforamini-ITX board.Infact,Asuslargermicro-ATXMaximusV Genecostsonlyalittlemoreandhasfarmore features.However,ifyoureconsideringamini-ITX system,youreprobablyalreadycomfortablewiththe ideaofshunningexpansionslotsandexoticon-board audiosystemsinfavourofreducedsize,andthe P8Z77-IDeluxeisamarvelforitssize. Itsfast,loadedwithfeaturesandveryeasytouse; theonlyslightissuewithitisthePCBlayout.Asus hasntonlyjoinedtheenthusiastmini-ITXparty,but alsothrowninacaseofchampagne. AL

SPEED 41 / 45 FEATURES 28 / 30 VALUE 21 / 25

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Zotac returns to the mini-ITX scene but it has erce competition


T-1000 Excellent overclocker; power and reset switches; dual LAN ports ED 209 Lacks software and features; poor EFI

ZOTAC Z77-ITX WiFi

HOW MUCH?
Price123incVAT Manufacturer www.zotac.com Supplierwww.ebuyer.com

otachasbeenastalwartmini-ITXsupporter foryears,producingmanyinterestingand overclockablemotherboards.Infact,itsZ68ITXWiFipracticallyhadtheoverclockable Z68mini-ITXmotherboardmarkettoitself,withjust ASRockofferinganycompetition. However,nowthatAsushasjumpedonthe bandwagon,andZotacsZ77-ITXWiFilookspractically identicaltoitsZ68predecessor,itwillbeinterestingto seewhetherZotachasinvestedenoughefforttocope withthecompetition. TheZ77-ITXWiFisboxistheusualZotacminiITXaffair,includingaUSB3breakoutadaptorand twoWiFiantennas.Thereslittletofaultwiththe Z77-ITXWiFislayouteither;thelonePCI-Egraphics slotisplacedclearofallothercomponentsonthe motherboard,unlikeAsusP8Z77-IDeluxe(seep66), wheretheon-boardsoundheaderinterfereswith yourgraphicscard. Thisisalsotheonlymotherboardontestthat featuresbothaPOSTerrorcodereadout,andpower andresetswitcheswhicharealwayshandyadditions fortestingyourPCbeforeyouputittogetherwhile theI/OpanelsportsaCMOS clearbutton. Meanwhile,thetwoSATA 3GbpsandtwoSATA6Gbps portsarelocatedattheedgeof thePCB,asisthe24-pinATX powerconnector.However,the 8-pinEPS12Vconnectoris locatedontheothersideofthe PCB,inanawkwardposition betweentherearaudioports andVRMheatsink. Theboardsotherfeaturesare ratheramixedbag.TheZ77-ITX WiFidoesnthaveanon-board DVIportinsteaditfeatures twoHDMIportsandaminiDisplayPortconnector(aminiDisplayPorttoDisplayPort adaptorisincludedinthebox). ItalsohastwofewerUSB3 portsthantheASRockandAsus boards.However,itclawsback somepointswithitsdualLAN

portsandspareminiPCI-Eslot(inadditiontothe slotusedfortheWiFimodule),whichcanbeusedto connectminiPCI-ESSDs,aswellasthird-partyUSB3 andSATAexpansioncards.Thisisdefinitelyabonus overtheothertwoboardsontest,andonethatmay wellcomeinhandyifyouplantouseadiscrete graphicscard,butalsoneedadditionalUSB3or SATAports.

PERFORMANCE
Sadly,whenbenchmarkingtheZ77-ITXWiFi,we sawthatitwasntalwaysTurboBoostingtothelofty 3.9GHzachievedbytheAsusboardwithourIntelCore i7-3770K.Asaresult,the100-200MHzdifference, dependingonwhichbenchmarkweran,sawitfall behindtheAsusinmostofourtestsatstockspeed, thoughnotbymassiveamounts. Itwas70pointsadriftinourMediaBenchmarks overall,and7fpsslowerinArmaII,althoughthis equatestoadifferenceoflessthan6percent.Its SATA6Gbpsspeedswerealittleslowertoo,dropping behindby4MB/sinthereadtestand14MB/sinthe writetest.

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WE MANAGED TO GET THE CPU TO TOP OUT AT 4.8GHz, USING A 48x MULTIPLIER AND 1.28V VCORE
TheotherareawheretheZotacfellbehindwas whenitcametousingitsEFIsystem.TheZ77-ITXWiFi notonlyhasthepoorestEFIontest,butithasaslightly outlandishcolourschemetoo.Itwasfareasiertofind overclockingsettingsontheAsusboardthanthe Zotac,andtheZ77-ITXWiFialsolacksaUSBBIOS flashingutility.Theresnoexcuseforthelatternow,but thankfully,wedidnthavereachforourbootdisk,as ZotachasntreleasedanewBIOSyeteither. Theboardalsodoesntincludeanythingintheway offancontroloroverclockingsoftware.Thisisinstark contrasttotheAsusboard,whichprovidesthefull suiteoftweakingandtuningfacilitiesyoudexpectto seeonitsfull-sizedmotherboards. Afterspendingsometimetweaking,anddealing withtheoddfailedoverclockandnon-recovery,we managedtogettheCPUtotopoutat4.8GHz,using a48xmultiplierand1.28Vvcore,wheretheCPU reachedatoasty98CusingPrime95.Thisisour CPUsclocklimit,though,evenonfull-sized motherboards,sothisisstilladecentresult.The overclocksawtheoverallscoreinourMedia Benchmarksriseby700points,whiletheminimum framerateinArmaIIjumpedupby12fps.

CONCLUSION
TheZotacZ77-ITXWiFioverclockswellandcosts20 lessthantheAsusP8Z77-IDeluxetoo.However,the Asushasloadsofusefulfeatures,whiletheZotacis devoidofusefulsoftware.TheAsusalsohasavastly superiorEFIandisfareasiertooverclockasaresult. Itneverfailedtorecoverfromafailedoverclockeither, althoughtheZotacdidthisonlytwice.SadlyforZotac, theASRockZ77E-ITXisalsoeasiertouseand,asithas thesameprice,itsthebetterbuyforthemoney. AL

SPEED 39 / 45 FEATURES 21 / 30 VALUE 22 / 25

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MOTHERBOARD RESULTS
Handbrake H.264 video encoding Multi-tasking
(high quality, 1,920 x 1080, high AF, AA disabled)

Gimp image editing

Arma II: Operation Arrowhead

Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

1,824 3,241 4,249 1,566 1,921 129fps


Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

2,379 135fps

ASRock Z77E-ITX

135
162fps

ASRock Z77E-ITX Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi

1,775 2,330 4,243 1,564 1,977 146fps

3,114

Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi ASRock Z77E-ITX

1,772 1,530 1,923

2,351

3,079 4,250

Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi 0 500 ASRock Z77E-ITX 1,000 1,500 2,000

123fps
0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000

135fps

600

1,200

1,800

2,400

Overall

Intel SATA 6Gbps read (MB/sec)

Intel SATA 6Gbps write (MB/sec)

137fps
Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

161fps

MINI-ITX CASES AND MOTHERBOARDS

Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

2,210 556 528

2,868

Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe

ASRock Z77E-ITX ASRock Z77E-ITX

2,140 555

2,834

122fps 526
Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi

ASRock Z77E-ITX

134fps

Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi

2,139 552

2,839

131 514
150 300 450 600 0 50
Stock speed min Overclocked min

Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi 600 0

136fps

750

1,500

2,250

3,000

150

300

450

100

150
Stock speed avg Overclocked avg

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CASE RESULTS
43
BitFenix Prodigy

Stock speed

Overclocked

CPU delta T (C)

GPU delta T (C)


48

BitFenix Prodigy

Fractal Design Node 304

46

Fractal Design Node 304

58

SilverStone FT03-Mini

48

SilverStone FT03-Mini

58

Lian Li PC-TU200 30 45

49
60 Lower is better

Lian Li PC-TU200 0 20 40

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15

60

80 Lower is better

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MINI-ITX CASES AND MOTHERBOARDS

CASES
Price (inc VAT) Supplier Manufacturer Dimensions (W x D x H, mm) Case volume (litres) Materials Available colours Empty weight (kg) Features Front panel ports Supported motherboards External 5.25in bays External/internal 2.5in bays External/internal 3.5in bays Number of expansion slots Max CPU cooler height (mm) Max graphics card length (mm) Max PSU length (mm) Extras Cooling Fan mounts Fans supplied Dust filters Fan controller

BitFenixProdigy 65 www.overclockers.co.uk BitFenix 250 x 340 x 310 26.35 Steel, plastic Black, white 6.69 2 x USB 3, microphone, headphone Mini-ITX 1 4 5 2 160 330 160 Fyberflex handles

LianLiPC-TU200 141 www.specialtech.co.uk Lian Li 220 x 360 x 320 25 Aluminium Black, silver 3.49 2 x USB 3, eSATA, microphone, headphone Mini-ITX 1 0 4 2 80 300 140 4 x hot-swap 3.5in bays, topmounted handle

FractalDesignNode304 72 www.ebuyer.co.uk Fractal Design 250 x 374 x 210 19.5 Steel, plastic Black 4.83 2 x USB 3, microphone, headphone Mini-ITX 0 0 6 2 165 310 160 None

SilverStoneFT03-Mini 103 www.scan.co.uk Silverstone 189 x 235 x 397 17.6 Aluminium, plastic Black, silver 4.41 2 x USB 3, microphone, headphone Mini-ITX 0 2 1 2 78 254 SFX PSU only None

2x 120 or 1 x 140/180/200/230mm front, 1 1 x 140mm front x 120/140mm rear, 2 x 120mm roof 1 x 120mm front, 1 x 120mm rear 1 x 140mm front Yes (removable) Yes (removable)

2 x 92mm front, 1 x 120mm/140mm rear 2 x 92mm front, 1 x 140mm rear Yes (removable)

1 x 140mm floor 1 x 140mm floor Yes (removable)

MOTHERBOARDS
Price (inc VAT) Supplier Manufacturer Dimensions (mm) Features Chipset RAID Audio Fan headers Ports Storage Audio LAN WiFi / Bluetooth USB 2 / USB 3 HDMI / DVI / DP / mini-DP Overclocking control Base clock (max) CPU multiplier CPU voltage (max) RAM voltage (max) CPU PLL voltage (max) VCSSA (max) Cooling Chipset VRMs Extras

ASRockZ77E-ITX 123 www.overclockers.co.uk www.asrock.com 170 x 170

AsusP8Z77-IDeluxe 144 www.dabs.com http://uk.asus.com 170 x 170 Intel Z77 0, 1, 5 and 10 via Intel Z77 8-channel HD audio via Realtek ALC898 2

ZotacZ77-ITXWiFi 123 www.ebuyer.com www.zotac.com 170 x 170 Intel Z77 0, 1, 0+1, 5 via Intel Z77 8-channel HD audio via Realtek ALC898 2

Intel Z77 0, 1, 5 and 10 via Intel Z77 8-channel HD audio via Realtek ALC898 2

2 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x SATA 3Gbps, 1 x eSATA 3Gbps 2 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x SATA 3Gbps, 2 x eSATA 3Gbps 2 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x SATA 3Gbps 4 x surround audio, optical S/PDIF out 3 x surround audio, optical S/PDIF out 4 x surround audio, optical S/PDIF out 1 x 10/100/1000 1 x 10/100/1000 2 x 10/100/1000 / 6/6 1/1/1/0 150MHz 16x-63x 1.7V 1.8V N/A 1.208V Heatsink Heatsink / 8/6 1/1/1/0 300MHz 36x-63x 1.99V 2.135 1.9V 1.56V Heatsink Heatsink WiFi GO!, AI Suite, USB BIOS Flashback / 8/4 2/0/0/1 300Mhz 0-255x +0.3V 1.8V N/A N/A Heatsink Heatsink USB 3 breakout adaptor

Fan control and monitoring software * Prices correct at time of going to press

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>>
samotherboardandcaseformfactor, mini-ITXhasbeenaroundforyears, butitspasthasmainlybeenspentin thelow-poweredmarket,oftenwithembedded CPUs,andeventhosewithCPUsocketslacking theoverclockingoptionsoftheirfull-sizedATX siblings.However,mini-ITXmotherboards havespentthepastyearorsobecoming increasinglycapable,bothintermsoffeatures andoverclockingpotential.Infact,thismonths Labstestprovesthat,forthefirsttime,theyre nowabletocompeteonalmostequaltermswith largermotherboards. Thisisfantasticnews;ifyourepreparedtolive withlimitedexpansionduetothelimitednumber

MONSTER
Antony Leather shows you how to use the greatest hardware from this months mini-ITX Labs test to build a water-cooled pocket rocket

Build a water-cooled mini-ITX


A
ofSATAandPCI-Eports,theresnolongerany needtousealargetowercasetohousean overclockedpowerhouse.Thishasalreadyhad significantramificationsinthemotherboard andcasemarkets,asmoremanufacturersare climbingonthemini-ITXbandwagon.Weveseen plentymoreZ77-basedmini-ITXmotherboards waitinginthewings,andloadsofnewcasestoo. However,asourmini-ITXcaseLabstest shows,therearesignificanthurdleswhen dealingwithanoverclockedCPUinaconfined spaceitisntlikebuildingastandarddesktop PC.Inthisfeature,weshowyouhowtobuildyour ownminimonstersystemusingsomeofthebest hardwarefromthismonthsLabstest.

>>>> 1
74 October 2012

OurcaseofchoiceisBitFenixsProdigy(seep54).Itsbeendesignedto houseenoughcoolingequipmenttocopewithtoastyhardware,and hasroomforamid-rangewater-coolingsystemstoo,includingall-inonedual120mmliquidcoolerssuchasCorsairsH100.Itsbyfarthe bestchoiceifyourelookingtobuildthefastestandcoolestmini-ITX systempossible. Weveoptedforasinglewater-coolingloop,withafull-heightdual 120mm-fanradiatorintheroofcoolingourgraphicscardandCPU.It wouldbepossibletofitanotherradiatorinthefrontofthecaseifyou needmorecooling,oruseathinnerradiatorintheroof.However,its unlikelythatyoullbeabletousethe5.25inbay,asthisissituatedinthe roofwhereyourradiatorwillsit.

>>TheHARDWARE

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CUSTOMISATION

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>>> 2
Dismantlingacasecanbequite anarduousprocessinvolving drillingoutrivetsanddealing withplasticflanges.However, somecasesusescrewstohold everythingtogether.Whilethe Prodigyisntentirelybound usingscrews,youcanstripit backtoitsbareshellusinglittle morethanascrewdriver.Your firstjobistoremovethetopfan coverbyopeningthelatchon thetopandleveringitout.
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>>Making ROOM

>>WaterCOOLING

>>

WellonlybeusinganSSDinourbuild,securedwithVelcroordoublesidedtape,sowereremovingalltheharddrivecages.A256GBSSD nowcostsaround150,whichisenoughspaceforalltheessentials, bargargantuanamountsofvideosandphotos.However,ifyouoptfora differentpump,radiatorandreservoircombinationfromtheonewere usingthenyoumightbeabletokeepthelower3.5indrivecageifyouwant toaddaharddrive.Therearetwoscrewsoneithersideofthetopofthe casethatenableyoutoreleasethetop3.5indrivecage.

Yourchoiceofradiatorwilldependonthehardwareyouneedtocool.A full-heightdual120mm-fanradiator(weusedaPhobyaG-Changer240, (45fromwww.aquatuning.co.uk)istheminimumwedrecommendto coolaquad-coreIvyBridgeCPU,andagraphicscardsuchasaGeForceGTX 6803GBorAMDRadeonHD79703GB.However,ifyourethinkingabout applyingsomeextremeoverclocksthenitsworthconsideringusinghighspeedfans,orinstallinganadditionalradiatorinthefrontofthecase.

Younowneedtoremovethefrontfasciaofthecase.Insidethecases front,thefasciasecurestotheframeofthecasewithfourplasticflanges. Bendingtheseoutwardsallowsyoutopushthemforwards,releasingthe entirefasciafromthecase.Meanwhile,screwsonthefrontfasciaand sideofthecaseenableyoutoremovethesingle5.25indrivecage.With thisremoved,leavethefasciaoffforthetimebeing,asthiswillmakelife easierwheninstallingthewater-coolinghardware.

5
76 October 2012

Removethelower3.5indrivecageand youllbeleftwithabarechassisjust beggingforsomewater-coolinggear. Werecommendwaitinguntilthisstage beforeorderingyourwater-cooling hardware.Unlessyouremimickinga setupsomeoneelsehasbuiltwithan identicalcase,youwonthaveagood enoughideaabouttheexactamountof spacethatwillbeavailableuntilyouve strippedeverythingout.TheProdigy hasroomforafull-heightdouble 120mm-fanradiatorintheroof wevealsoseenacoupleofexamples of200mmradiatorsbeingusedinthe frontfanmount.

>> >> >>


WorldMags.net

Usethescrewsthatwereincludedwithyourradiatortomountthefans. Makesuretheybothpointinthesamedirection,andthattheyrelocated onthecorrectside,dependingonwhetheryouwanttohavethem drawinginairorexhaustingitthroughtheradiator.Weveoptedfora pushingsetup,withthefanspushingairthroughtheradiatorandout ofthecase.TheProdigyhasmountingholesforfansorradiatorsinthe roof,soonceyouveinstalledyourchoiceoftubefittings,lineupthe radiatorandsecureitinplace.

Thetubingsizedoesntaffectcooling,soitsworthusing 3/8ininternal-diametertubingasopposedtothe1/2in tubingthatspopularinlargerPCs(weused3/8inID Masterkleertubingfromwww.aquatuning.co.uk, 7for10ft).Thisisbecausethe3/8intubinghas amuchtighterbendradius,enablingyouto squeezeitaroundcornerswithout kinking.Thisisessentialinthe tightconfinesofamini-ITX case.Tothisend,weoptedfor Alphacool3/8incompression fittingsforusewith3/8inID tubing (4eachfromwww. aquatuning.co.uk).

>> 8

>>
7

36

CUSTOMISATION

>>
WorldMags.net

WereusingthismonthsLabs-winning mini-ITXmotherboard, theAsusP8Z77-I Deluxe(seep66).ThankstoaVRM daughterboard,ithaslotsofroom aroundtheCPUsocket;ourXSPC RaystormCPUwaterblock(51from www.aquatuning.co.uk)fittedwith plentyofroomtospare.Itsalsoworth securingthefittingstotheblockpriorto mountingdoingthisafterwardscan placeunduepressureonthemounting mechanismandmotherboard.

>>

>>
October 2012 77

12

>>

>>Fill the LOOP

Priortocabletidying,youneedtoleak-testyourwater-coolingloop,just toensurethatyouwontdamageanyofyourhardware.Startbyfillingit withcoolantweoptedforsomeMayhemsAuroraNebulaBlue(15 fromwww.specialtech.co.uk),whichlooksfantasticnexttothecopperplatedfittings.Fillyourchosenreservoirwiththecoolant,followingthe instructions providedourEKreservoirhasascrew-caplid,makingit easytofillthesystem. Afterthat,connectthepumptoyourPSUanddisconnectthepower toyourmotherboardandgraphicscard.YounowneedtouseanATX bridgingplug(85pfromwww.aquatuning.co.uk)tojump-startthePSU withoutpluggingitintothemotherboard.Disconnectingthepower ensuresyourhardwarewillbesafeifanyleaksshouldoccurinthistest.

TheMayhemscoolantisfairlygoodatbleedingthesystemofairbubbles itself,butitsalwaysworthtiltingthecasetoallowairtobleedfromthe radiatorandCPUblocksthankfully,thisisamucheasiertaskwiththe dinkyProdigythanitiswithafull-towercase.Dontbefooledintothinking thatthepearlescenteffectofthecoolantistrappedairitsaactuallyan ingeniousfeaturethatmakesthereservoirlookparticularlyspectacular. Dontbetemptedtofillthereservoirtothebrim,though.Instead,once youvefullybledtheairfromtheloop,anditspoweredon,allowagood centimetreorsobetweenthecoolantlevelandthetopofthereservoir.The pressureofthepumpwilllowerthecoolantlevel,meaningthattherewillbe alotofpressureinthereservoirwhenitsswitchedoff.Leavingasmallgap 78 willallowthecoolanttoexpandwhenthesystemisswitchedoff.

>>
13

10 9

Withthemotherboardmounted,younowneedto decideonalocationforthepump.Inourcase,thisis theonlyvariable;ourradiatorneedstobelocatedin theroof,andwereusingacombinedpumpand reservoir.Youcanalsoseeourtubingbendseasily undertheradiatorthiswouldnthavebeenthecase withthickertubing. Pumpscomeinmanyshapesandsizes,butas werejustcoolingtheCPUandGPU,andusingjust sixbarbs,weoptedforaPhobyaDC12-220& EK-ReservoirComboDCP2.2Bundle(49from www.aquatuning.co.uk).Thisisntaspowerfulasa LaingDDCorD5pump,butthecombinedpumpand reservoircanfitintotinyspaces.Italsocostslessthan 50,whileaLaingpumpcostsover60onitsown.

1 1

TocoolourGeForceGTX6803GB,weoptedfor ourLabs-winningGPUfull-coverwaterblock, theXSPCRazorGTX680(seeIssue107,p65). WeroutedthetubingtoitfromtheCPU,and theloopthenheadsbackdowntothepump, withtheradiatorbeingfeddirectlyfromthe pumpsoutlet.Weleftenoughslackinthe tubingsothatwecouldeasilyremovethe graphicscard,withouthavingtodraintheloop first.Dependingonwhichwayyouroutethe tubing,youcouldalsooptfor90-degree angledfittingstokeeptubingoutoftheway, particularlyontheGPUwaterblocksoutlet.

CUSTOMISATION

>>

>> Cable TIDYING


CabletidyingisusuallythebaneofallPCbuilds,butitsa comparativelyeasyjobintheProdigy.BitFenixhashadthe foresighttoleavelargegapsoneithersideofthePSUcage, whichprovideexcellentlocationstotieyourstraypower cablesandtuckthemaway.Astheresnomotherboardtray, youneedtoperformallyourcabletidyingontherearsideof thecaseaccesswillbeeasywiththesidepanelremoved. Dependingonwhichmotherboardyouchoose,youmay nothaveenough3-pinfanheaderstopowerallyourfans (theAsusP8Z77-IDeluxeonlyhastwofanheaders,butour caseandcoolingsystemhasfourfans). Tosolvethisminorissue,weusedsomeMolexto3-pin fanadaptorstopowertheadditionalfans;youcouldalsouse aninternalfancontroller(sincethe5.25inbayisunusable) orafansplittercable.

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Thatsit!Sitbackandadmireyourminimonster.Ifyoureusinganyofthe Z77 motherboardsinthismonthsLabstest, youcanuseoursettingstooverclock yourCPU.Alotwilldependonyour particularsetupespeciallyifyouwatercoolboththeCPUandgraphicscard andthenumberandsizeofradiatorsyou use.Checkyourtemperaturesoncethe use. Check your temperatures once the PCisupandrunning. PC is up and running.

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ThefinalcomponenttoinstallistheSSD.Weleftthisuntillastbecause youcansecureit practicallyanywhereintheProdigywithsome double-sidedtapeorVelcro.Withthelocationofthepumpfinalised, andtherestofourcablestidiedaway,wesettledonthesideofthePSU cageforthelocationofourSSD.Thismeantthatwecouldroutethe SATApoweranddatacablesdirectlytoitthroughoneofthecablerouteingholes,ratherthantrailing themaroundtheinsideofthe case.ItalsomeansthattheSSDcanbeeasilyaccessedfromtheside.

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GRUMPYGAMER 82 Myauthority SPECOPS:THELINE 84 Justsand inour eyes?

One-dimensional

88 QUANTUM CONUNDRUM
THOMASWAS 89 ALONE MAGIC:THE 90 GATHERING

Hip tobesquare

DuelsofthePlaneswalkers 2013 METRO:LASTLIGHT 93 Howsitglowing? DEVPERSPECTIVE 94 Wherehasall my THEENGINEROOM 96 Unity

graphicsmemorygone?

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om A c cuLstIVE IMpGE EXC US


SequeltotheoldNaturalSelectionmod forHalf-Life,NaturalSelection2fuses real-timestrategyandfirst-person shooterelements,givingyouthechoice toplayasstrategiccommandersor frontlineforcesinamultiplayer environment.Thedistinctionbetween structure-buildingcommandersand weapon-totingsoldiersisnttheonly differencebetweenteams,though,as thisimagesuggestsfindoutmoreat www.naturalselection2.com

Natural Selection 2

Readers Night Wed, 29 August, 9 till late


Theplace OurCounter-Strike:Sourceserver Whatyouneed Anup-to-dateCounter-Strike: Sourceinstallation GAMESERVERIPADDRESSES 32-playerBC2 85.236.101.22:16667 32-playerCS:Source 85.236.101.24:37015 FINDUSONSTEAM Publicgroup http://steamcommunity.com/groups/ CustomPC ModernWarfare2 http://steamcommunity.com/ groups/CustomWarfare2

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October 2012

81

GAMING

WHY GAMES SHOULD RESPECT YOU

Joe Martin may not know how to swim, drive or cycle, but he still demands your respect
I think Ive actually reached breaking point now. I dont want to play games that keep having to unsubtly remind me how to play them because they dont respect my intelligence. I dont want to play games where a rude, fictional soldier is interrupting me every ten seconds to tell me exactly where to stand. I dont want to play games that are padded out with boring cutscenes that show me actions I could be doing myself. Importantly, Im also going to make these expectations an explicit part of my reviewing process. If a game doesnt seem to respect your time, Ill tell you as brazenly as possible. I saw Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 demonstrated recently, for example. That game didnt respect player time and, despite all the hyperbole thrown around by Treyarch, what I saw of the game was little more than a tedious procession from one time-wasting tactic to another. It was so boring that I decided I wasnt even going to preview it properly in this issue; your time is far too valuable for you to be expected to read about foregone conclusions. It bears mentioning that a lot of this realisation comes from an excellent lecture by Jonathan Blow called Video Games and the Human Condition, by the way. You can and should watch it online at http://tinyurl.com/JonathanBlow if have the time.
FIND ME ON TWITTER: @JOETHREEPWOOD

oes anyone in the games industry really respect me? Thats the question Ive been asking myself lately, though not in the fishing-for-compliments way you might expect. Im far more concerned about whether games respect me as a player in terms of my time, intelligence and patience. I dont think they do respect me. Instead, as the games industry has matured over the past decade, I think games have been increasingly losing respect for their audiences. It used to be that shooters, for example, would let players wander freely and experiment, but now I cant take three steps in Call of Duty without being shoved into a breach mini-game or a truck-mounted turret. And, sure, those types of game elements are exciting and interesting the first or second time you see them and they arguably even help to fulfil the purpose of the game then too. These sequences and ideas dont show up just once or twice, though; theyre starting to form the bulk of the experience and, because were overexposed, they become dull, purposeless and disrespectful. The worst part, though, is that this isnt something you see in just a couple of games. Its everywhere, across every genre, and the games that seem to be the most popular are the worst offenders. Take Diablo III, for example, which uses in-game stores to repeatedly dip into the wallets of players, while the game itself has been designed around known psychological ploys to keep you playing. That isnt respectful; its practically treating players like constantly processed cattle.

Im going to make these expectations an explicit part of my reviews. If a game doesnt respect your time, Ill tell you

WHAT IM PLAYING No,IhaventbeenplayingHalf-Life3Ive beenplayingthelittle-knownMissingInformationmod,which piecestogethercontentcutfromtheoriginalplanforHalf-Life2.

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SPEC OPS: THE LINE


Apocalypse nowish
HEART Storyline choices; occasionally poignant DARKNESS Hypocritical ambitions; repetitive

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price29.99incVAT Publisher2KGames DeveloperYager Developments Website www.specopstheline.com

emayaswellsay itupfront:Spec Ops:TheLine isntthatgreat. Itisntaterriblegame,but asfarasthird-person shootersareconcerned,its asmechanicallyrun-of-themillasyouraverageconsole port.Theresacoversystem,a two-weaponlimitandaregular dribbleofturretsequencesthroughoutthe campaignnothingthat wehaventseen100times before.However,theresoneaspectofitthatstands outasbeingworthyofdiscussion,andthatsthe introductionofchoicesintothestory. Tounderstandwhatmakesthechoicesso important,youfirstneedtoknowthatSpecOpsisan adaptationofJosephConradsHeartofDarkness, althoughitssetinstorm-besetDubairatherthan onanAfricanriver.Theideaisthataperpetual sandstormhascutoffDubaifromtherestofthe worldandeveryoneinsideispresumedtobedead,

includingaUSarmyregiment thatstayedbehindtoaid survivors.Sixmonthslater, itsyourjobtoinvestigate andfindoutwhathappened tothecolonelincharge. Ofcourse,thestorylineis alreadyfullofholesatthis point.Ifitwassoeasytosendin yourunit,whywasDubaisealed off?Whysendonlythreemento rescueeveryone?Theseissuesandothers hovernonsensicallyoverthestoryline;theyrenever openlyaddressedandtheybecomeevenmore noticeableasthegamecontinues. Regardless,afterafewhoursofmindless violence,SpecOpsstartstodrawclosertothesource materialbyrevealingtheatrocitiescommittedinthe city.Atfirst,yourejustwalkingpastmassgraves, butsoonafterthat, youreinvitedintotheheartof darknessyourself.WillyousavetheCIAoperative withvaluableinformation,orwillyousavethe citizenshesprotecting?Willyouuseprohibited

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REVIEW

AFTER A FEW HOURS OF MINDLESS VIOLENCE, SPEC OPS DRAWS CLOSER TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL BY REVEALING THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED IN THE CITY

weaponstoachieveyourgoals?These choicessteptotheforeandthe consequencesarerevealedviathe commentsofyourAIteammates. Whiletheintroductionofthesechoicesis admirablefordisplayingSpecOpsambition

ArrivingonthePCin1998,theSpecOps serieshashadatroubledhistory.The firstthreegamesweredevelopedby ZombieStudios,whichreleasedthe disappointingBlacklight:Retribution forfreeonSteamrecently.Afterthat, thefranchisefocusedmoreonconsoles andsawseveralnewteamsbecome involved.Thelastgame,Airborne Commando,cameoutin2002andthe franchisehasbeenhibernatingever since,withevenRockstarcancellinga plannedrebootforthePlayStation2.

SERIES PROFILE SPEC OPS

tobemorethanjustacorridorshooter, SpecOps:TheLine mayreceivean however,theyarentenoughtoimmediately approving nodforitsambition,butthat elevatethegameasawholeforavarietyof doesntpreventitfromchokingwhenit reasons.Someofthechoicesareincredibly bitesoffmorethanitcanchew.Theproblem poorlypresentedthealternativetousing withtryingtobuildcomplexemotional whitephosphorusagainstyourenemies, responsesintogamesisthattomakethem forexample,isthattheyllspawninfinitely work,youhavetocommittothemwhollyand untilyourunoutofammoanddie.Many consistently.SpecOps,intryingtobebothan otherchoicesarealsosimilarlyartificially actionblockbusterandameaningfulreport constructedtothepointwheretheyshatter onthehumancondition,failstoexcelon yoursuspensionofdisbelief. eitherfront.Theendingsmaystarttoveer ItalsoappearshypocriticalforSpecOpsto towardsthemarvellous(especiallyintheir conveyamessageaboutthehorrificnature ambition),butthatdoesntimmediately ofwarinagamethatfeaturesslow-motion redeemalltheotheraspects. explodingheadshots. Wedlovetoseemoregameshandling Thisisagamethatglorifies topicssuchasthis,butcoupling massviolenceandforcesyou thissortofdramawithrepetitive, tokillthousandsofpeopleto predictablecombatisnta finishitbutthentriesto convincing waytodoit.Strip makeyoufeelguiltyforit.Its awaytheliteraryambitionsand masochisticandultimately yourebackwhereyoustarted unfairwhenconsideredinthe SpecOps:TheLineisntgreat, OVERALL widercontext. butitisntterribleeither.

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REVIEW

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS
SpecOps:TheLineisanobviousconsole-to-PCport,withlittle optimisationforthegraphicallysuperiorPCplatform.This doesntmeanthatthegamelooksbadonthecontrary,itlooks quitegoodbutthereslittleopportunitytocustomisethegamein ameaningfulway.Thefieldofviewisfixed,forexample,andmouse accelerationisbafflinglyturnedonatalltimes. Theoptionsformalisedinthegamesmenuarentexactly thrillingeither.BesidesswitchingShadowsandTextureDetail levelsbetweenfiveimperceptiblydifferentsettings,thereisntalot todo.WeveincludedsomescreenshotsoftheseonVeryLowand VeryHightogiveyouanideaoftheverybestandworstthatthe gamecanlook,butotherthanthelossofthedynamicshadowson thelowend,thereslittleimpact.Theonlyareawecouldspota changeintexturequalitywasonthebeltofthemaincharacter, whichlookscrisperonVeryHigh. TheoneupsideofSpecOpsconsoleoriginsarethatitwillrun onoldersystemswithoutputtingupmuchofafight3GBofRAM, a2.4GHzquad-coreCPUandaDirectX9graphicscardwith512MB ofRAMareallthatsrecommendedtorunthegame.Despitethis, thegraphicsstilllookgood,though,mainlybecauseofthegames linearstructurethereslittlechancetowanderoffthepathor performtheunexpected. Eventhecontrollayoutpointstoaconsole-focuseddesign,with nooptiontosetsecondaryinputsandastreamlinedsetofcontextsensitivecontrols.Themiddlemousebutton,forexample,isused toissuesnipe,healandgrenadeorders,allbasedonwhatsunder thereticulewhenyouclickit.Thisisntanissueatfirst,butatthe harderdifficultylevels,itsfrustratingthatyoucantgivemore nuanceddirectivestoyoursupportingAIdrones. Worstofall,theINIfilesareencrypted,soyoucantmanuallyfix hiddenoptionsthatwayeither.Afan-madedecrypterhassince beencreated,butreportsindicatethatitsfarfromreliableand oftencreatesmoreproblemsthanitsolves.However,ifyouwant totryit,youcandownloaditfromhttp://tinyurl.com/CPC-specops

TEXTURES
HI GH LO W

SHADOWS
HI GH LO W

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Like a boson
PHYSICS Funny and smart PSYCHICS Often ddly

QUANTUM CONUNDRUM

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price9.99incVAT PublisherSquareEnix DeveloperAirtightGames Websitehttp:// quantumconundrum.com

alves atmospheric alvesatmospheric puzzler Portal has puzzlerPortalhas loomed large over the loomedlargeoverthe games industry for years, gamesindustryforyears, but there is none that sits so firmly in its butthereisnonethatsitssofirmlyinits shadow as Quantum Conundrum. Not only shadowasQuantumConundrum.Notonly arebothgamessingle-player,science-orientated comedypuzzlersaboutdistortingthelawsofphysics, butbothweredesignedbyKimSwiftformerlyof Valve,andnowofAirtightGames. Whatsmore,bothgameshaveasimilarstructure whenitcomestostorytelling,withConundrum onplatformingpuzzles;youoftenhavetomakevery castingyouasalittleboywhomusttraverseaseries precisejumpswhileswappingdimensions.Thereare ofillogicalpuzzlesinordertorescuehismadscientist manypuzzleswhereyouhavetotraversegapsinthe uncle,ProfessorQuadwrangle.VoicedbyJohnD SlowMotiondimensionbyhoppingfromonethrown Lancie,Quadwrangleismorekindlyandtalkative objecttoanother,forexample,andthisisoften thanPortalsGlaDOSbutitsnotablethatbothexist frustratinglydifficultfromafirst-personperspective. primarilyasavoicethaturgesyouthroughthegame. Thatsaid,Conundrumscomplextoolsetmeans Ratherthanbasingitselfaroundtheuseofportals thatthedifficultyisconsistentthroughoutthegame, andspacemanipulation,however,Conundrumlets asopposedtoPortalsdifficultycurve.Thereareplenty youchangethelawsofphysicsasawholebyswitching ofplaceswherepuzzlescanhavemultiplesolutions, throughfourdifferentdimensions.Eachhasunique nottomentioncollectiblestofind,aswell. propertiesyoucanharness,suchastheFluffy Theresultofcombiningthistoughlevelofdifficulty Dimensionwhereeverythingistentimeslighter withamorechildish,cartoonysettingthanPortals andsofterthanusual,soyoucanwieldlargeritems. isntgoingtobetoeveryonestaste,however.Infact,its Thefourdimensionsdontconfinetheireffects sometimesdifficulttodiscernthetargetaudiencefor tothepuzzle-criticalitemseither,buttheentire QuantumConundrum.UnlikePortal,thisisntagame level.Paintingsanddecorativeitemswill thatyoucanexpecttoeasilyplaywithnonalsoshifttomatchthenewrealitythe gamers,despiteitscartoonishstyling. usualpictureofaboywithaballoonwill Thisdoesntmeanthatitcantbe becomeapictureofaboycrushedunder enjoyedonitsown,though,especially aleadweightintheHeavydimension, ifyoureabletotakeitatfacevalueand forexample. dontmindperseveringwithrepetitive WhereConundrumdiffersfromPortal environmentsandfiddlyplatformjumps. OVERALL JOE MARTIN fortheworse,however,iswithitsfocus

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REVIEWS

Its hip to be square


RIGHT ANGLE Witty; moving; original WRONG ANGLE A little too easy

THOMAS WAS ALONE

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price5.99incVAT PublisherMikeBithell DeveloperMikeBithell Websitewww. thomaswasalone.com

ideogamescantellallsortsof stories,buttoooften,thegames industrytrendstowardsthe knownsafetyofblockbusterseries. Hugeexplosions,endlessturretsequencesanda constantparadeofsoldierswhocantquitegrowfull beardsbutwonteverstoptrying.ThomasWasAlone doesnthaveanyofthat,howevernoteventhe beards,anditsallthebetterforit. Instead,ThomasWasAlonehasasenseof Eventhewordpolishedisinadequatewhenit warmthandwhimsythatmakesitimmediately comestosummingupthispuzzle-platformer; invitingtoeveryconceivabletypeofaudience.Ithas Thomashasbeensoexpertlybuffedthatitsfinishis acastofsmall,multi-colouredquadrilaterals,each practicallymirror-like.Thisimpressionismadeall ofwhichrepresentsanAIunitinsideasystemthats themorestrikingbythesimplicityofthedesign.All suddenlybecomesentient,andeachofwhichsets youhavetodoineachlevelisnavigatetheavailable outtouseitsuniqueskillstoaccomplishgoals.For charactersthroughit,switchingthecharacter example,Clairefloatsandisconvincedthatshesa currentlycontrollingtoharnessthepowersofeach superhero,whileSarahcandouble-jumpandis oneforthegoodofthegroup. brilliantlymegalomaniacal. Theoneunfortunateconsequenceofallthis Andthenthereslovable,affableThomas.Hecant streamlining,however,isthatThomashas doanythinginparticular,butyoucanthelpwanting essentiallysacrificedcomplexityforaccessibility, topluckhimfromthescreensoyoucangivehima andthegameisunlikelytochallengeevenirregular bighug.Werecomfortableadmittingthat. gamersasaresult.Theresenoughcontentinitto ThefactthatThomasWasAlonemanagesto keepyoupluggingawayforafewdays,sovaluefor exudethissenseofmagicalcharismacanbe moneyisntmuchofanissue;however,itsashame attributedtomanyindividualelementsofthedesign. theresnoeurekamomentstobehadfromsolving Theresthehilariouslymelodramaticnarrationby eventhehardestpuzzlesposedbythegame. DannyWallace,forexample,andthe Thatlackofsignificantlyharder waythewritingmakesthegamefeellike challengesmakesThomasWasAlone ahigh-techbedtimestory.Thegames uniquelysuitableforplayingwithother biggeststrength,however,istheway peopleofallagesandabilities,however. designerMikeBithellallowsthese Infact,wevetriedthisalready,andits underlyingelementstoshinethrough anexperiencethatwedinstantly bytrimmingoutanythingthatdoesnt recommendtoeveryone. OVERALL JOE MARTIN absolutelyneedtobeinthegame.

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REVIEW

MAGIC: THE GATHERING DUELS OF THE PLANESWALKERS 2013


Wed tap that
PLANE Deep and complex PLAIN Occasionally sedentary

THE KNOWLEDGE
Price6.99incVAT PublisherWizardsofthe CoastLLC DeveloperStainless Games Websitewww.wizards. com/magic/digital/ duelsoftheplaneswalkers. aspx

agic:TheGatheringhasbeen whatcanbeplayedandwhen,whileaction lampoonedasfarbackasFallout movesforwardsataregularrateandcan 2,whereyourcharactercould beimmediatelypausedatanypoint. becomeaddictedtoasuspiciously Meanwhile,tooltips,hintsandflavourtext similarcardgamecalledTragic.Stepaway groundyouintheworldandconveyallthe fromanypreconceptionsyouhaveabout essentialinformationwithoutoverwhelming Magicseye-blurringdepthandwallet-draining theprocess.Itsaremarkableaccomplishment. design,however,andyoullfindanincredibly Theonlythorninitsside,infact,isthatthe interestinggamethatsrewardingandstrategic. presentationissostreamlinedthat,onceyouve Thebasicrulesaresimple;traditionally,twoplayers learnedhowtoplay,youoftenwanttorushahead arecastintherolesofwizardswhobattlethrough fasterthanthegameactuallyallows.Thiswillprobably accumulatedcardsthatrepresentvariousforces, beespeciallyfrustratingforthosealreadyfamiliarwith spellsandresources.Inthisdigitaladaptationofthe thegamefrompreviousversionsorthetraditional game,youmainlyaccruenewcardsbybestingthe cardformat,butthereareplentyofimprovements single-playercampaignmode,thensortyour overpreviousdigitalversionstolessenthesting.The reservesintodecksthatyoucarrytotheonlineportion. multiplayeroptionhasbeenbroadenedtoinclude Thedetailofhowyourcardsareusedaretoo worldwideleaderboards,forexample,aswellastwoinvolvedtosumuphere,withacomplicatedsystem vs-twocooperativematchesandmore. ofroundsmadeyetmorebafflingbythesheervariety Thealreadyimpressiveproductionandreplay ofcardsonoffer.Therearesomanyvariationsand valueshavejumpedforwardstoo.Thenew3Dplaying criticaleffectstoremember,fromTrample(excess deckandbackgroundsgiveMagicamorestylised damagespillsontoopposingforces)toShroud(cant gloss,whilethecampaignhasbeenbolsteredwith betargetedbyspells)andthatsallwithoutgetting challengesthatwillkeepyoucomingbackformore. intothenitty-gritty.Whendoyousearchyour Planeswalkers2013istheperfectantidoteto graveyard?Whatsthedifference Magic:TheGatheringsimageproblem, betweenanenchantmentandartefact? peelingbacktheunsightlystereotypes Whilethesenuanceshavemadethe thatplaguedthecommonperception conventionalcardgameanintimidating andremovingthebarriersofentryfor prospectfornewplayers,however, newcomers.Itsquitesimplythemost Planeswalkers2013ispresentedsimply gracefulandrefinedtakeonthefranchise enoughtomeanthatthisisntamajor yet,andonethatswellworthalook. OVERALL JOE MARTIN issue.Subtlegloweffectsletyouknow

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www.scan.co.uk 0871 472 4747

www.overclockers.co.uk www.dabs.com 0871 200 5052 WorldMags.net

www.ebuyer.com

PREVIEW

METRO: LAST LIGHT


Tunnel vision
tisntoftenthattheapocalypseispresented asbeinggenuinelyterrifyingincomputer games.Exciting,sure,butnotscary.Instead, gameseriessuchasFalloutandLeft4Dead preferoffsettingthefictionaldeathsofeveryone youveeverknownwithsomeslyMontyPython referencesorfreneticcombat.LastLight,onthe otherhand,specificallysetsouttogiveyouthechills. Themechanicsbywhich4AGamesachievesthis arealmosttoonumeroustomention,rangingfrom thecontinueduseofghostlyvoicesandapparitions toasubtlechangeinaestheticsthatsslightly differenttootherpost-apocalypticgames.THQcalls itnuclearspringanditsintendedtobleedalittle morevariationintothepost-apocalypsepalette, whilealsomakingyoufeeluncomfortablewiththe realisationthattheworldischangingaroundyou. Themosteffectivefear-makingtacticofall, though,isalsooneofthesmallestanewfeature calledmaskwipe,whichseesyourvisionsteadily obscuredbytheenvironment.Becomecaught inarainstormorclosecombat,forexample, andthevisorofyourgasmaskwillget spattered,meaningthatyouhaveto manuallycleanit. Itsoundslikeasmallchange,butit hasadramaticeffectwhenitspiledon topofalltheexistingimmersionsystems carriedoverfromMetro2033,suchasthe torchthathastoberegularlyrecharged, aswellasthelimitedamountofair.When youredashingacrossthesurfaceof Moscowandagroupofmutantssuddenly descendsonyou,tryingtofendthemoffwhile effectivelyhalf-blind,chokingandsurroundedby darknessisnothingshortofnerve-shredding. Bestofall,THQhastakenonboardalotofwhatit sayswasvalidcriticismofthecombatandAIinthe firstgame.Ithasrespondedbynotonlyimproving thosesystems,butalsoadjustingtheoverallpaceof thesequel.LastLightwillplayatamuchslowerpace than2033,withmoreroomforexplorationsothat playerscandealwithenemiesontheirownterms. However,thegamewillalsostillthrowinplentyof furiousfirefights. WhatsimportanttotakeawayfromMetro:Last Light,however,isthatTHQseemstobepushingback againstthetrendssetbymostotherbig-nameFPS games.ChattingwithTHQsHuwBeynon,theres nospielaboutaccessibilityordeliveringamore cinematicexperience.Instead,theconversationis about4AGamescreativevision,andhowthats communicatedintinydesigntouches. Theresult,wethink,isexactlywhatalotof single-playerfansarecallingoutforablend offirst-personshooterandRPGelements thatsgrowingstrongeranddeeperasit progresses,ratherthanbecomingmore diluted.Itstillremainstobeseenhow wellthestorycanbetoldonalargerlevel, andif4AGameswillmanagetostrikea goodbalancewhenitcomestodifficulty, butwellfindoutinduecourse.Atthe moment,werejusthappytofinda technicallydemandingPCgamethats scalinginapositivedirection.Therest oftheindustryshouldtakenote.
JOE MARTIN

THE KNOWLEDGE
PublisherTHQ Developer4AGames Website www.enterthemetro.com ReleasedateEarly2013

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93

Cliff Harris

Where has my graphics memory gone?


G
iventhatevenbasicgraphics Graphicscardscanonlycopewithtextures thatareapoweroftwointermsof cardsoftenhave1GBofRAM dimensions,sothescreensizeisroundedup asstandardnow,many to2,048x2,048,orroughly4millionpixels gamersmustoccasionally findthemselvesscratchingtheir twocopiesofthescreentheonein headsandwonderingwhattheir frontofyou,andtheonethatthegame gamesaredoingwithallthatRAM. isrenderinginthebackgroundready Atleastpartoftheansweristhat forthenextframe. itrequiresalotmoreworkandpixels Foreachframe(ideally60timesa andtexturememorythanyoumight second),thecardwillswapthose imaginetorenderamoderngame, images,soyouinstantlygetafully andIlltrytoillustratethatbyusing renderedframe,withoutseeingthe theonlyexampleIhavetohandfor framebeingrenderedbehind-thecollectingsuchdata,whichismy scenes.Ifyouturnoffv-sync,youcan gameGratuitousTankBattles.GTB sometimesseetearingwhichisthe isatop-down2Dstrategytowervisualartefactthissystemisdesigned onlycopewithtexturesthatareapowerof defence/RTSgame.Youcanzoominand toavoid.Asyoucansee,thegamealreadyhas twointermsofdimensions,sotragically,the outquiteheavily(whichisimportantforthe afrontandback-buffer(possiblyseveral screensizeisroundedupto2,048x2,048,or purposeofthisdiscussion),andpeopleare more),soourgraphicsRAMusagehas roughly4millionpixels. generallycomplimentaryaboutitsgraphics. alreadydoubledto44MB. Soyoucouldassumethatweneedjust4MB Ontheoppositepageisascreenshotof Likemostgraphicallyshinygames,GTB ofRAM,pluswhatevertexturesalltheinfantry thegameinactionatnight-time(also alsohasabunchofcleverstuffthatbumpsit &tanksuse,right?Notevenclose.Firstly, important)withsomelaserbeamsshooting upfurther.Rememberthatthisisanight-time unlikehighlycompressedJPEGimages,the atstuff.Asitsa2Dgame,youmight shot,whichmeansthatIneedanothersneaky graphicscardwillrepresenteachpixelusing automaticallyassumethatlittlehorsepower copyofthewholescreentowhichIcandraw threeorfourbytes(dependingonwhether isrequiredonthegraphicsfronttorenderit. lightmaps.Thisisthencompositedwiththe Ohboy,wouldyoubewrong. renderedworldatthelastminute,so AgraboftheDirectXoutputforthat yougetsearchlightsandsooninthe YOUD NOTICE IF MIP-MAPS WERE game.Thats66MB.Ialsousesome exactframe(thankstoniftysoftware calledPix)tellsmethatatthepointof cunningdistortioneffectsinthegame TURNED OFF, AS EVERYTHING thatrender,thegamehad570textures BECOMES A LITTLE OVER-SHARP forshockwavesandsoon,which loaded.Yep,570.Andwhatsscaryis requiresanothercopyofthescreento AND SHIMMERY thatIactuallymakequiteheavyuseof composite,sothats88MB.Ialsohave textureatlasing(packingseveral aniftyselectioneffectforhighlighted thatpixelneedstransparencydata).These imagesintooneinordertoavoidconstant units,whichworksthesameway,and you representred,greenandblue. textureswapping,whichmostcardsfindtobe guesseditwerenowat110MBofgraphics Theupshotisthatafull-screenimageuses slow).Whatonearthareallthosetextures, RAM,withoutevendrawinganytextures. either16MBor22MBofvideocardmemory, andhowcantheyevenmakeadentinyour AsIneededverysmoothanimation,even whichwouldbefineifweonlyneededthe 1GBofgraphicsmemory? ataslowed-downspeedwithamaximum roomforoneimage.However,moderngames Theanswerisabittechnical,butalso zoom,itturnsoutthatthe128framesof alsomakeuseoftheverticalrefreshrateto interesting.Forstarters,thescreenshot mechs-walkinganimationmeansthatI synchronisedrawingthegame,andcopying wastakenataresolutionof1,920x1,200.For requireawhopping22MBtextureforeach theimagetothemonitor.Basically,thereare reasonsofbinarymaths,graphicscardscan mechtype.Thosearethebiggestconventional

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Anight-time screenshotof GratuitousTank Battlesitlooks simple,butits alreadyusing110MB ofgraphicsRAM beforeitseven starteddrawing thetextures

texturesinthegame.Intheory,theyshouldnt bethatsize,buttheyrebulkedoutbymipmaps.Mip-mapsprovideawayforimages tolookgoodwhethertheyrenearorfar away.Youdnoticeifmip-mapswereturned off,aseverythingbecomesalittleover-sharp andshimmery. Meanwhile,somethingthataddseven moretoGTBstexturebudgetistheabilityto customisetanks.Peoplewhoaredisparaging about2Dgamesoftenthrowoutcomments suchasitsjustsprites,whichislaughable giventheactualcomplexity.Someofthetanks haveninedifferentlayersblendedtogether, andofcourse,allthoselayershavemipmaps,whicharetakinguptexturememory. Addintheterrain,relativelyhigh-resolution shadow-mapstofakethegrounds3Dlook, themenugraphics,loadingscreensandso on,andyoucanprobablyseewherethe570 textures(mostaremip-maps)andallthat videomemoryisgoing. Thatsaroughexplanationofwhereallyour texture-memorymightbegoing,butwhat aboutthesheerpolygon-pumpingpower?Its firstlyimportanttopointoutthat,foranontrivialpartofeachframe,yourfancypolygon renderinghardwareisdoingabsolutely nothing.Theresanidealsituationdiscussed bythegraphics-pipelinegods,wheretheres perfectconcurrencybetweentheCPUandthe GPU.Inotherwords,theGPUisbusydrawing

afewthousandpolygonswhiletheCPU preparesthenextthousand,andneitherunit iseveridle.Inpractice,thisneverhappens. Asyouchargedownacorridorinafirstpersonshooter,orswipethecameraoverthe battlefieldinanRTS,thegraphicsrendering pipelineisinconstant,wildchange.Fromone frametoanother,themodelsbeingrendered, theactiveeffects,andthespritesandtextures requiredareinconstantflux.Inoneframe,the bottleneckistextures,asyoulookoutover rollingterrain.Inanother,thebottleneckis polygons,asavastarmyofhigh-polygon soldiersmarchpast.Thenashockwaveblast thatdistortsthescreenpushestheshader pipelineintobottlenecklandwiththenext frame,andsoon. Codersdowhattheycan(usingtools suchasperfHUDandPIX,togetherwith in-gamelivedisplays),toachieveasmuch concurrencyaspossible,andmakethemost ofboththeCPUandGPU,buttheynever manageitperfectly.Nocodepathworksin everycircumstanceinaspecificgame(and genericengineshavetoappealtoallkinds ofgames,makingthisevenharder),andno codepathcanpossiblyhandlethemyriadof differentcardsavailableeither.Someare relativelybetteratpolygons,othersattextures andsomeatshaderprocessing.Addtothis theproblemswithdifferentresolutions,SLI/ CrossFireXandmulti-monitorsupport,andit

becomesinevitablethatyourgraphicscard willoftenendupwaitingfortheCPUtocatch up,andviceversa. Inshort,spareathoughtforthepoorsod developingagraphicsengine.Balancingall thesesystemsishellonearth,evenfora singlegame,andasinglegraphicscardand drivercombinationdevelopinganefficient genericrenderingpipelineisextremely challenging.Secondly,beawareofhow muchdifferenceitmakestotheamountof graphicsRAMandprocessing(dontforget thatshaderswillbeusedforallthosepixels too)whenyoubuyabiggermonitorandrun atahigherresolution.Also,beawarethat droppingyourverticalresolutionbelow1,024, oryourhorizontalresolutionto2,048orbelow, canmakeamajordifferencetothedemands madeonyourvideocard.Andyouthought binarymathswasnevergoingtobeof practicaluse,didntyou?

istheone-mancoding wizardbehindPositech Games(www.positech. co.uk),thedeveloperofGratuitous SpaceBattles @cliffski

CLIFF HARRIS

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Rick Lane

Unity
A

It runs on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and there are plans to support Flash and Linux too. Could Unity end up being the one engine to rule them all?
fewclichsspringtomindwhen consideringUnity.Blacksheep, darkhorse,risingstar.Theyall seemaccurate,andatthesame time,inappropriate.Theresasimplereason forthis,anditisntjustbecausetheyrelazy metaphors.Unityhasdefineditselfbydoing itsjobdifferently.Itaspirestobeeverything toalldevelopers.Thatithascomeanywhere closetoachievingthisisremarkable. Unitybeganlifein2002,atatimewhen licensinganenginewasalmostasdifficult asmakinganactual game.Backthenthere werentanyreadily availableengines that asmallstudioorstartupcouldreadilyaccess wewerethreeguysin abasement,says DavidHelgason,CEO andco-founderofUnity Technologies.They wereallexpensive,and youcouldntevenreachthoseguysifyou didnthaveanameorsomekindoffunding. TheobvioussolutionforHelgasonand histwoco-founders,NicholasFrancisand JoachimAnte,wastomakeonethemselves. Likemostotherengines,Unitywasintended tobeaspecifictooltosuitaspecific requirement.However,thetrioquicklyran intotroublewhenitcametothatspecificity. Wecouldneveragreeonwhichgames tomake,sotheenginehadtobemore genericbecauseithadtoaccommodate alltheideaswehad,saysHelgason. In2004,werealisedthatwewerentthat greatatmakinggames.Welovedgames; thatswhywestarted,butwerealisedthat wemaybedidntlovemakingthem.What wedidlovewascreatingthisengine.We becamereallyexcitedandrealisedthatthe
Rochardsphysicsbasedgameplay wasntplannedfrom thebeginning

Unitynowsupports DirectX11too

approachwehadtakenwasdifferentfrom thatusedbyanybodyelse. Whatbeganasanimpassableobstacle evolvedintoadeliberatedesignphilosophy thatsbeenthedrivingforcebehindUnity eversince.TheteambegantomouldUnity withtheintentofmakingitaccessible, affordableand,aboveall,flexible.The ideawastotargetsmallteamssimilarto themselves,tocreateanenginewithfastyet easilyunderstandableworkflows,andthe capabilitytocreateanytypeofgame.In short,thespecificaimwastomakeitas unspecificaspossible. Thetraditionalwayofgamebuilding ishighlyinflexible,explainsHelgason, whereyoubuiltarigidhierarchyofthetype ofobjectsinthegame.Soyoucanhavea character,andthatcanbeanNPCoraplayer

character.Itcouldbeaweapon,anditcould beabaseweaponoraweaponyoucanpick up,orashieldandsoon.Butthemoment youwantasingingswordthatsbotha characterandaweapon,oranycreative expression,yougetintotrouble,sowewent withthismuchmoreflexiblemodel. ThefirstversionofUnitylaunchedin 2005,andimmediatelydifferentiateditself fromotherenginesbyfindingitsinitialhome onApplesrevitalisedMacplatform.Unity hassustainedastrongandsuccessful relationshipwithAppleeversince,becoming theengineofchoicefordevelopersonthe iPhoneandiPad.WemadeUnitysupportthe iPhoneacoupleofmonthsaftertheApp Storeopened,saysHelgason,anditjust tookoff.Wewerealreadygrowing,butthe growthdoubledandeverythingspedup. SinceitsmovetomobileandPCplatforms, Unityhasgainedareputationforbeingthe indiedarlingofgameengines,whichis understandablegivenitsdevelopment historyandtargetmarket.However,ifUnity wastobeuseduniversally,italsohadtobe powerfulenoughforthemainstreamgames market.ThefirsttwoversionsofUnitywere

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ANALYSIS

Unity3sdeferredrendering systemenablesanunlimited numberoflightstobeset upwithinagamenotethe variationin thevisibilityof theskullsinthemiddlehole

significantlybehindthecurrentgeneration inthisarea.Thethirditeration,however, markedthebeginningofapushtowards equallingthepowerofcurrent-gentech. Unity3mademajorstrideswithits deferredrenderingsystem;thisenabled anunlimitednumberoflightstobeplaced inagame,allofwhichcouldinteract appropriatelywiththerelevantmappingon materialsandtextures,accuratelylighting bumpsanddipsonsurfaces.Combinedwith thenewlyintroducedocclusionculling,this allowedforincreaseddetailwithoutany impactonperformance,asanythingnot viewableon-screenwouldimmediatelybe removedfromtherenderingprocess.The latestversion,Unity3.5,addedsupportfor HDRlighting,abrandnewdedicatedparticle systemnamedShuriken,andNavigational MeshestomakeiteasierforAIcharacters tofindtheirwayaroundenvironments essentialforcharacter-basedgames. Onegamethatstakenadvantageofthis morepowerfulversionofUnityisRochard aphysics-basedplatformersetinadeepspaceasteroidminingstation.Rochard proclaimsitselftobethemostadvanced Unitygametodate.SampsaLehtonen leadprogrammerandco-ownerofRecoil Gamesexplainedhowitwasthesemore advancedtechniquescombinewiththe enginescoredesignideasthatmade Rochardpossible.Themostimportant featureinUnityforuswasthespeedof iteration,saysLehtonen.Youcouldtryout newgameplayideasquickly.Infact,the wholephysics-basedgameplaywasnt plannedatthestartoftheproject,butwas prototypedasitprogressed.

systemisoneexample.A morebizarreexampleisthe TreeCreator,whichisexactly whatitsnamesuggestsa tooldedicatedtobuilding detailedflora.Itsticksoutas acuriouslyspecifictoolinan enginewheretheobjectiveis tobegeneric. Itsbecauseeverybody buysSpeedTreeandplugsit intotheirengine,Helgason explains.Wewanttobethe enginethatdoeseverything youneed.Thatisntpossible, UNITY 3 MADE MAJOR STRIDES butwellgoasfaraswecan. WITH ITS DEFERRED RENDERING Sooneoftheprojectswedid wastheTreeCreator;ithas SYSTEM, ENABLING AN someprettyawesometools UNLIMITED NUMBER OF LIGHTS tobuildreallyrealistictrees, TO BE PLACED IN A GAME orweirdorcartoonytrees, butitsjustasmuchan Rocharddemonstratesthegrowingpower enablerforpeopletocreatetrees ofUnity,andalsohighlightswhyUnityhas themselvesandsellthemtoothers. onlyrecentlybegunthepursuitforvisual SpeedTree,thebasisfortheTreeCreator, punch.Poweroftencomesatthecostof iswhatsknownasaUnityAsset,available complexity,andwhenanengineisdesigned forpurchaseinoneoftheenginesmost tobepowerful,universallyaccessibleand intriguingfeaturestheAssetStore.Here, completelyflexible,gettingthebalance developerscancreateandselltheirown rightisnightmarish.Itisntdesignedjust assetstootherusersofUnity,whetherits forfirst-personshootersorplatformers, apackofcharactermodelsorcodefora Lehtonenpointsout.Soyoullinevitably particularvisualeffect.Thisisusefulin needtodosomeextraworktogetthe avastnumberofways.ItmakesUnitymore frameworkforthekindofgameyoure accessiblefornewcomers,astheydont developing,includingbothgameplayandthe havetomakeeverythingfromscratch,andit tools.AnemptyUnityprojectisacleanslate. meansthatexperienceddeveloperscanget Thesolution,ofcourse,istocreatenew holdoftoolsandtricksthatUnitydoesnt toolstodealwithnewgraphicalfeaturesthat currentlysupportinitscorepackage.Whats complicatematters.TheShurikenparticle more,aswasthecasewiththeTreeCreator,
Unitysintegrated characteranimation system,Mecanim, providesarangeofprepackagedanimations 98

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theengineroom
Codemastersisusing UnityforitsbrowserbasedF1Onlinegame

ANALYSIS

Rochardavailablefor PC,PS3andMacOSX

RochardshowsoffthepotentialtouseUnityforgoodlookingvisualsandcomplex,physics-basedgameplay

ithelpsthecreatorstounderstandwhat developerswantfromUnityandwhereto focustheireffortsnext. Absorptionandintegrationhasbeena keyfacetofUnityssuccessoutsideofthe AssetStoretoo.Unitysupportsnumerous subsidiaryprogramssuchasNvidiaPhysX formorebelievablein-gamephysics,and AllegorithmicSubstances,athird-partytool forcreatinghighlyrealistic,differentiated andeasilyadaptablesurfacematerials.This adoptionofnewtechnologyissettocontinue intheupcomingUnity4engine,whichwas announcedacoupleofmonthsago. AlongsidesupportforDirectX11which isavitalinclusionifUnitywantstocompete withthemainstreamUnityisalsopushing itsintegrationofMecanim;apowerful characteranimationsystemthathands developersawholerangeofpre-packaged animations.Thesecanthenbetweaked andblendedtosuitparticularneeds,andare abletoimporttheirownmotion-capture. ItsalittlelikeShurikenortheTree Creator.ItsaperfectUnitysystem,says Helgason.Itsveryhigh-powered.Wevehad around50charactersrunningonaniPad, fullyanimated,and200-300characters runningonabeefyPC. Itseemsasthoughtheseeffortsoverthe pastcoupleofyearsarebeginningtopayoff.

RacingheavyweightCodemasterschose Unityforitsbrowser-basedFormula1game F1Online.AssociateProducerMikeRowland elucidatesonwhyUnitywasaptforcreating thisgame. TheideaforF1Online:TheGamewasto makeafree-to-play,easilyaccessiblegame forabroadrangeofracingandFormulaOne fans,saysRowland.WhatUnityprovided wasastrongandimpressiveinstallbasefor itsbrowserplug-in,plusafullsuiteoftools toallowustoputthegameintoabrowser. TheUnitysupportteamhasbeenalongside usallthewayandhaveprovidedincredible helpthroughthosenigglytimesyou inevitablygetwithaprojectofthisscale. Thewordsbrowserandfreearent usuallyassociatedwithcoregaming,but Codemastersisamainstreamdeveloper, soF1Onlineindicatesthemainstream industrysgradualacceptanceofUnityas aviableoptionforcreatinggames. CodemastersexperienceofcreatingF1 OnlinealsorevealsareaswhereUnitymight

improveinordertoconquercoregaming. Codemasterswishlistincludesafully integratedUIsystem,whichisimportant ifUnityistobeusedtocreatemore complicatedgames.Alsomentionedis morecontroloverbuildprocessestomake iteasiertomouldagamearoundaparticular developersapproach. Unitystillneedstoputonafewpounds ifitwantstocompetewithUnrealand CryEngine,buttheresnodoubtthatits becomingacontender.Andwhenwesay contender,itsactuallyestimatedthatover halfamilliondeveloperscurrentlyuseUnity worldwidevastlymorethananyofthe majorcommercialengines.Whatsmore, alongsideitsfocusoncurrent-gentechare planstosupportFlash,LinuxandAsian languages,meaningthatitsuserbasewill likelygrowexponentiallyinthenearfuture. Unitymaynotyetbetheengineforeveryone, butitsgivenvoicetoapreviouslysilent majority,andinthecomingyears,thatnoise couldbeheardaboveallothers.

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fyourearegularreaderofCustom identifyingwhetherastatementwasfromafilm,gameor Elpida, the struggling PCmagazine,orourTwitterfeed(@ hardwarereview.Wethoughtthiswouldbeprettytricky, ducer, was DRAM pro CustomPCMag),youllknowthatthis butanumberofteams(UnderQualified,8-bitHeroesand rchased by which recently pu monthsawushostthefirstCustomPC TeamPFSspecifically)proveduswrongwithhighscoresof petitors? of its com seven and eight. andbit-techPubQuiz,inwhich17teams sevenandeight. Even these scores were eclipsed by the perfect ten out of ten battledovertenfiendishlydifficulttechEventhesescoreswereeclipsedbytheperfecttenoutoften themedrounds. achievedbyForeverAloneinthefirstpictureround,however.Thisleftus Alsoinattendancewasateamfromoursponsorandprizeprovider atthehalfwaystage,withEpic.LANatthe Corsairnaturally,abigthankyougoesouttothecompany,aswithout What was Nvidi top,closelyfollowedbyOCBATGTTYand as main graphics br itssponsorshipandsupport,theeventsimplywouldnthavebeen 192.168.X.X.Meanwhile,bringingupthe and before it introdu possible.AlsodeservingofanhonourablementionisParadox rearwasaverydemocraticthree-waytie ced GeForce? Interactive,whichkindlydonatedacopyofMagickaforeveryattendee. betweenUnderQualified,TeamCorsair ThefirstroundwasIntheNews,andtosayitprovedtoughwouldbe andTeamAriaForums. anunderstatement.Noteveryonefoundithard,however,withR.A.G. Thehalf-timebreakthenplayedhometo jumpingstraightintotheleadwithascoreofseven,followedcloselyby oursurprisinglypopularmake-a-memecompetition,whereweasked thesmashinglytitledOurCheesecakeBringsalltheGeekstotheYard teamstocaptionthefourmemetemplateswedmade.Therewere some cracking entries, which you can see (OCBATGTTY)andthree-manteam192.168.X.X. somecrackingentries,whichyoucansee Thankfully,thenextround,TechTVandFilm,provedmore infullonourFacebookpage. date, how many To accessible,withallbutoneteamabletonamethefilmin Movingon,roundfivewasGeneralTech episodes of The IT Crowd which Hugh Jackman plays an elite computer hacker. One whichHughJackmanplaysanelitecomputerhacker.One Knowledge,whichcoveredabroadrange have aired on British TV? questiondidoutfox oftopicsincludingconsoles,moddingand everyone,howevercan overclocking.Itcausedratheranupsetat In November 2000, younametwoofthefourstatincreases thetopofthetabletoo,asEpic.LANonlynotchedupthreepoints,letting Intel released the first ScottPilgrimgainsforfindingthe OCBATGTTYsneakintofirstplace. Pentium 4 processor. What powerofselfrespect? Roundsix,TechAcronyms,thenturnedouttobethehighest-scoring was the codename of the Roundthreewasourtakeonthe round,inwhichteamshadtodecipheracronymssuchasNTFS,RAID original Pentium 4 core classicmusicround(gamethemes, andHTTP.Wethenhadthesecondpictureround,whereteamshadto architecture? naturally), and round four saw teams naturally),androundfoursawteams identifymultiplayerFPSmaps,whichprovedtrickyforeveryoneapart

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A. 24

A. Riva

A. Micron

Ten rounds, a meme board and a whole load of cheesecake

A. Wilamette

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Say

No

to

Slow

fromEpic.LANandSteve In which film does a BallmersNeckSweat,bothof young girl utilise a UNIX whichclearlyspendalotoftime 3D file system browser by onlinefraggingn00bs. the name of FSV, to bring However,whatcamenext security functionality back canonlybedescribedasmessy online? theRetroTechround. WrittenbyCustomPCsown editorBenHardwidge,thiswaswidelyregardedasthetoughestround inthequiz,asillustratedbytheaveragescoreoftwo.Oneteam,R.A.G., roseaboveitalltopostan(honestlyamazing)scoreofsix,though, helpedbythefactthatteamcaptainWayneYoungmanhasbeen readingCustomPCsinceIssue1! Theall-importantfinalroundwasFamousGameQuotes,andwith OCBATGTTYonlytwopointsbehindEpic.LAN,itcouldhavegoneeither way.Intheend,bothteamsscoredfive,leavingEpic.LANourwinners, OCBATGTTYsecondand192.168.X.Xinthird.Eachteamwonabunch ofCorsairgoodies,andEpic.LANalsowalkedawaywiththeGolden Graphics Card trophy. Mentions also GraphicsCardtrophy.Mentionsalso gotoAllOurBeersAreBelongToUs, ny go to All Our Beers Are Belong To Us, Toshiba, IBM and So 8-BitHeroesandSteveBallmers the collaborated on NeckSweat,whowonprizesfor re thats processor architectu postingupthethreefunniest ation 3. used in the PlaySt memesinthehalf-timebreak. What is it called? Thankstoeveryonewhoattended theCustomPCandbit-techquiz night,andmadeitagreatnight.We hopetoholdanotherone,probablyinthewinter,sokeepaneyeoutfor informationinthemag.

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October 2012

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CPC:Whatinspiredyoutobuild D33pThought? Andy:Itendtobuildanewgamingrig whenaBattlefieldtitleisreleased itstheonlygameIplay.Whenthishappens,I alwaysbuythefastesthardwareIcanafford (orinmostcases,cantafford).Ialreadyhad thishardwarebeforeIstartedD33pThought, andtheadditionofathirdgraphics cardcreatedtheneedforchange itwouldhavemeantrunningfive waterblocksfromonepump.The pumpwasalreadystruggling,and Icouldhearthenoiselevelsrising witheachblockthatwasaddedto thesystem.Asasidepoint,this makesmewonderaboutthe practicalitiesofotherbuildsI've seenthathavesixorsevenblocks connectedtooneloop.

Anyway,Ineededabiggercase,and couldntfindonethatIreallyliked.Ididntlike theideaofmoddinganothercase;Iwanted somethingunique.Iendeduptrawling throughtheNetlookingforideas,andthats whenIstumbleduponwww.bit-tech.net.This iswhereIsawMikeKrysztofiak'sPhinixCube, andIthought,yeah,Icoulddothat.However,I

alsowantedtosomethingdifferenttoPhinix Cube.Alotofthought(andscrewed-upscraps ofpaper!)wentintothedesign. CPC:Weassumethenameisareferenceto thebigcomputerinHitchhiker's? Andy:Ididn'toriginallygivemuchthoughtto theproject'sname;Ididntevenrealisethe buildneededone.Itwasonlywhen IstartedtheprojectlogthatIhad thatsinkingfeeling,andthought, ohno,thebuildneedsaname.The sketchhadaresemblancetoDeep ThoughtfromTheHitchhiker's GuidetotheGalaxy.Igrewupwith thatkindofstuffIreadthebooks, watchedthe1980sTVshowand sawtheokay(ish)film.Theproject nameeventuallytookoverthe wholebuild,andthethemealso

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ENTER YOUR OWN PC AT HTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET ENTERYOUROWNPCATHTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET

YoucanseemoreofAndy's gorgeousacrylicPCinthe fullprojectlogathttp:// tinyurl.com/ D33pThought42

DON'T PANIC!

gavemeplentyofmaterialforthesmall featuresthataddextrapointsofinterest. CPC:Whatothermodshaveyoubuilt? Andy:I'vebuiltseveralsystemsIadded windowstothelastfour,aswellaspaintjobs andwatercooling. Alltheexistinghardware forD33pThoughtcamefromanold ThermaltakeKandalfcase.Theinsidewas painted,andhalfofthedrivebayrackchopped outtomakeroomforareservoirandpump. CPC:Whatdifficultiesdidyoucomeacross whenbuildingD33pThought? Andy:Thefirstwasamajordesignflaw.IfI'd builtD33pThoughtexactlyliketheoriginal sketch,Iwouldnthavebeenabletogetmy handsinsidetoinstallanyhardware.Plus, anymaintenanceorsmalljobswouldhave beenamajorpainasIdhavetodismantleall

thelayers.Luckily,thatwaspickedupduring theplanningstages,andsolvedbymaking thefrontstripsandtoppanelremovable.This enablesthetworadiatortowerstoswing open,withthelongthreadedbarsthathold thelayerstogetheractingasahinge. CPC:Whatmaterialsdidyouuse,andwhy? Andy:Thecasewasalwaysgoingtobe constructedfromacrylic,asitseasytowork

SYSTEM SPECS
CPU Intel Core-i7 960 GPU 3 x Asus Radeon HD 6970 2GB Storage OCZ Agility 3 128GB SSD Memory 12GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer Motherboard Asus Rampage III Extreme PSU Corsair 1,200W Cooling 2 x D5 Laing pumps, 2 x 240 Magicool Radiators, Aqua Computer CPU block, 3 x EK GPU blocks, EK motherboard block, 2 x Phobya 250 Balance reservoirs, 4 x Phobya 120mm Nano fans, Lamptron fan controller

withandisavailableinavarietyofcolours.The hardestpartwasfiguringoutthethicknessof thelayers;ImeasuredmyDVDdrive(asthis wouldbeclampedbetweenthelayers)and playedaroundwithdifferentwidths.I eventuallysettledon8mmsheets,which hadthebenefitofbeingfairlyrigid,whilealso enablingmetominimisethenumberoflayers andkeepthecostdown. Also,InoticedwhileIwasworkingouthow manylayerswereneededthatthefigurewas verycloseto42(theoriginalDeepThought's answertotheultimatequestion),soI incorporatedthisintothedesign.Theonly othermaterialsusedwerestainlesssteel threadedrodstoholdthebuildtogetherand 8mmnylonspacersbetweenthelayers. CPC:Whattoolsandmachinerydidyouuse tobuildD33pThought?
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Andy:ThefirsttoolIboughtwasaDremel;its oneofthosetoolsthat'salwayshandy,andthe widerangeofaccessorieswouldprettymuch doeveryjobthatIhadinmindforit.Oneof thesewastheDremeltheroutertableIhad tomakealotofinternalcuts,andfoundbeing abletolocktheguideintoafixedposition usefulforcuttingmultiplepartsexactlythe same.Ineededabettersurfacefinishthan theendresultofthis,though,sotherewasa lotoffilingandsandingtoo. Ieventuallyusedafine-toothedsawforthe longercuts,whichgavemeabetterfinish, althoughitstillneededsomefiling.Ialso usedtheDremelpillardrillaccessory,which generallyworkedokay,althoughthere'sa limitedrangeofdrillbitsavailableforit.You alsohavetodrillverycarefully,asitcan wanderifyoudrilltooquickly.Myoverall impressionsoftheDremelaregood,butI wishthatIcouldchangethecollarusedto attachtheaccessories.Idpreferonemade fromamuchtoughermaterial,asitsvery easytostripthethread. CPC:Howlongdidittakeyoutocomplete D33pThought?

Andy:Istartedworkonitaroundtheendof January,andeventuallyfinisheditinMay.It wasthecutting,filingandsandingthattook upmostofthetimeover100hours,infact.I wasveryrelievedtogetthroughitallandmove ontothemorefunstuff.Ialsomovedhomein themiddleofit,whichdisruptedprogress. CPC:Whathaveyoulearnedfrombuilding thisproject? Andy:Ilearnedplenty.I'dneverusedacrylic before,soIspentafairamountoftimeonthe Internet,lookingthroughmanytutorialsand YouTubevideossothatIwas100percentsure aboutwhatIwasdoing.Evenafterthat,Istill practisedonascrappieceofacrylicbefore workingonthefinalpieces.Atonepoint,I alsoblewupmygirlfriend'shairdryerwhile tryingtobendtheacrylicwithit,sothat'swhy

Isuddenlyhadtogetabrandspankingnew heatgun.Puttingawaythedryeranddenying allknowledgeaboutitdoesntworkeither. CPC:Areyouhappywiththeendresult,and isthereanythingyou'ddodifferently now? Andy:Thefilingandsandingnearlybrokeme. Ihugelyunderestimatedhowlongthatpart ofthebuildwouldtake,sobythetimeitwas complete,Ifeltmorereliefthanexcitement. Lookingback,Icouldhavehadeverything laser-cut,whichwouldhavecostmorebut wouldhavebeenfarmoreaccurate.However, nowthatafewweekshavepassed,Ilookat thebuildwithgreatsatisfactionIsometimes gobackthroughthebuildlogreadingevery postagain,whichmakesmesmile.WouldI doitagain?SureIwould,andthereareplans foranother!

BE A WINNER!

ToenteryourmachineforpossibleinclusioninReaders Drives,yourmodneedstobefullyworkingand,ideally, finishedbasedintheUK.Simplylogontowww.bit-tech.netandheadovertotheforums.Once yourethere,postawrite-upofyourmod,alongwithsomepics,intheProjectLogsforum.Make sureyoureadtherelevantrulesandadvicestickythreadsbeforeyoupost.Thebestentranteach monthwillbefeaturedhere,wherewellprintyourphotosofyourprojectandalsointerviewyou aboutthebuildprocess.Fameisnttheonlyprize; youllalso getyourhandsonafabulous selectionofprizesseetheoppositepagefordetails.

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Totalvalue142incVAT Manufacturerwww.corsair.com CorsairbelievesthatagreatPCstartswithagreat case.TheCorsairCarbideSeries300Ris acompactexpressionofthiscore philosophy.Itpacksina remarkablenumberoffeatures givenitscompactdimensions, providesbuilderswithtonnesof roomforexpansion,andhas amazingcoolingpotential.And, likeallCorsaircases,itsbuilt usingthefinestmaterialsand finishedtothehigheststandards, soitwillwithstandseveralyears ofupgrades. Justasaqualitycaseis essentialtobuildingaquality PC,ahigh-performance,highqualitypowersupplyisalsoavital ingredient.BasedontheawardwinningTXV2Series,thenew EnthusiastSeriesModularPSUsadda modularcablingsystemforimprovedinstallation

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flexibility.TXModularpowersuppliesarebuilt usingqualitycomponents,andarerigorously testedandqualifiedat100percentloadatan ambienttemperatureof50Cforunmatched reliability.Theyredesignedtoasuperior standard,sothattheynotonlymeettheATX specification,butalsoexceedit.Inadditionto unmatchedquality,TXModularPSUsarealso power-efficient,offering85percentenergy efficiencyorhigherat50percentload. WithaCorsairCarbideSeries300Rcaseand 550WTXModularpowersupplyattheheartof yourbuild,youllhavethefoundationsforatruly awesomegamingmachine.

PHOBYA MODDING KIT

Value50incVAT Manufacturerwww.phobya.com,www.aqua-tuning.co.uk pre-braidedextensioncablegivesyouextra routeingoptionsinyourcase,anditalsoenables youtorunuptofourfansfromonecompatible motherboardheader.Meanwhile,the PhobyaSATA3cablesincludedinthekit offerthesamegreatqualitybraidingas therestofthePhobyarange,whilealso securingyourconnectionwith latchedconnectors.Aswellas this,thekitincludesthePhobya SlimGuideController,whichgives youtheoptiontovarythespeed ofotherfansinyourcase,while thePhobyaTwinLEDsletyou shinealightonyourmods.

ThePhobyamoddingkitisdesignedwiththemodderinmind,offering greatvalueformoneyandqualityproducts.ThekitincludesNano-G 12SilentWaterproof1,500rpmmulti-optionfans,whichuse aninnovativefan-bladedesign.As standard,thefansincludebraided blackcablestokeepyourcaselooking asneataspossible.Thefansarealso suppliedwithaspecialcablethat letsyourunthefanat5Vratherthan 12V,reducingthenoiseemitted inordertohelpyoutobuilda silentsystem. Thekitalsoincludesthe 60cmPhobya3-pinMolexto 4x3-pinMolexY-cable.This

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Paint your case


venifyouveneverusedaspray canbefore,paintingyourcaseisnt asdauntingasitseems.Witha littlepracticeandplanning,youll beabletopaintyourcaseanycolouryoulike. Theendresultcanbespectacular,butitsalso veryeasytoendupwithacasethatlooksfar worsethanwhenyoustarted.Ifyouwantto avoidthis,thenourstart-to-finishguidelooks atallthestepsyoushouldbetaking. Whateveryourcasessize,youcanachieve agreatpaintjobaslongasyouhaveenough space.Wellalsodiscussthebestwaysto sprayspecificcaseparts,andwhattodoif youprefertohavesomeoneelsedothisjob. Whetheryourelookingtoaddsomepizzazz, orwantyourcasetohaveaspecificcolour scheme,thisguidewillshowyouhowtodoit.

Painting your case is a fantastic way to make it stand out. Antony Leather shows how to achieve the perfect finish, and even add custom details

CHOOSE YOUR COLOURS

Its worth experimenting with your chosen colour first using small spray cans before investing in full-sized cans. Youll also need some spare test material to see how the colour will look when it dries. Alternatively, you can use Google SketchUp (http://sketchup.google. com) to render your case and apply different colours check http://scc.jezmckean.com to see if your case has already been rendered.

PREPARE YOUR WORK AREA

You wont be popular if overspray ends up on someones plant pots, so if youre spraying outside, use a dust sheet with room on either side to catch stray paint it also helps to tape the sheet against a wall and secure it to the ground. Your spraying areas location is key to obtaining a good finish too; avoid grassy areas, as these harbour insects and loose particles that can become trapped in the paintwork. Good ventilation is also important, as is a face mask.

Wet and dry sandpaper 1,000 to 1,600- grit


Frommosthardwarestores

Dust sheet, sponge and microfibre towel

Frommosthardwarestores

Primer, colour and lacquer acrylic spray paint


Frommosthardwarestores

Masking tape

Frommosthardwarestores

Vinyl line tape T-Cut

MAKE A SPRAY BOOTH

Fromwww.tapes-direct.co.uk Halfords

If youre limited for space, you could buy or even make your own spray booth. Cardboard makes an excellent booth material, and a booth can be constructed using old boxes and duct tape. This could even be equipped with an extractor fan to remove fumes and excess paint if you have no option but to spray indoors. A booth is a great way of dealing with overspray, while also protecting your items from dust and insects.

SELECT YOUR PAINTS

Youll need three types of spray paint. Primer acts as an undercoat using a white primer will make lighter colours such as red or yellow appear punchier, while a darker primer is better for dark blues and blacks. Use gloss paint for a shiny finish, or satin or matt paint for a muted shine. Finally, the lacquer adds a layer of protection to your paint and enhances the shine. You should apply all the coloured coats before the lacquer.

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DISMANTLE YOUR CASE

If you dont want to paint some parts, such as grilles and buttons, remove these prior to painting. You could mask them, but its far easier to remove them, as youll end up with much easier surfaces to spray. Power and reset buttons, as well as ports and switches, can be tricky to mask properly, but theyre usually removable. You may need to detach your cases front fascia first, however.

If you plan to spray your cases insides then dismantle it completely, as its otherwise tricky to avoid the paint running in the corners. Youll need to drill out the rivets that hold the various sections together, enabling you to lay them out for easy spraying. Youll then need to purchase a rivet gun and new rivets to put the case back together. Look out for a full guide on how to do this next month.

REMOVE THE RIVETS

Youll need to wash your case before you start, especially if it isnt new. Anything thats stuck to it tea or coffee stains, dust or unseen grime can have a negative effect on your paintwork, and even sanding it might not get rid of all the dirt. First, remove any electronic equipment, such as PCBs, and then use a sponge and washing-up liquid with plenty of water to clean every part of the case that needs to be painted.

WASH THE CASE

SAND THE CASE

Sanding your case before painting provides a smooth base for the paint, and removes grease or silicon left behind from the manufacturing process or cleaning products. These can cause horrible finishes, as the paint wont settle properly. Youll need finegrit wet and dry sand paper, and lots of water. The higher the grit number, the less coarse the paper; youll need between 1,000 and 1,600-grit for a smooth finish.

MIX THE PAINT AND TEST

Shake the can up and down vigorously for five minutes a ball inside will mix the paint. If its cold outside, leave the can indoors overnight; the paint will dry faster and youll end up with a better finish. Dont leave it near a radiator or naked flame though. Once its mixed, test-spray it on some newspaper or a spare case. Get used to the flow of paint and practise moving from left to right in sweeping movements.

MASK UP

Youll need to mask certain areas to prevent paint from getting into them. Masking is also great for adding details, such as go-faster stripes. Masking tape edged with fine-line vinyl tape is good for sharp edges, while polythene dust sheets are great for larger areas, such as side panels a 3m x 3m sheet costs around 1. Dont use newspaper; this can leave residue on surfaces and your fingers.

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CLEAN THE AREAS TO BE PAINTED

Before each coat, and after sanding, use a damp cloth or sanding dust cloth to clean the areas youll be spraying. This will remove any surface dust thats settled in between coats. Be sure to use a lint-free cloth or something that wont leave hairs behind, such as a tissue. A microfibre cloth is ideal, but you can also buy sanding dust cloths for around 1 that are specifically made for the purpose.

Find a platform on which to place your case when spraying it. The ideal option is to hang the parts from a jig, booth or ceiling. This means that you can cover all the surfaces at the same time, so there wont be any joins in the paintwork as you move it. Another option is to use a pasting table, which will raise the case off the ground, but youll still be able to obtain good results if you have a clean and clutter-free work area.

POSITION YOUR CASE

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Primer is key to obtaining a blemish-free finish. Thankfully, it dries quickly, so you wont be left hanging around for long. Apply a single, thin coat of primer, taking care not to cover the same area too many times, as this can make the paint run. Use long sweeping strokes as you spray, and spray in one direction, rather than in circles. In warm conditions, the primer will dry in 10-15 minutes.

APPLY PRIMER

SAND THE PRIMER

Sand the layer of primer until its smooth using wet and dry sandpaper. It might sound strange to use sandpaper on your fresh coat of paint, but by adding more coats, then sanding them, youll build up a super-smooth surface and fill in any imperfections in the cases surface, ready for the final coat. You shouldnt need more than four or five coats of primer just enough so that you cant see the original paintwork.

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As the process of sanding the panel will leave dust and paint particles behind, youll need to wash the case again with a clean sponge or damp cloth. Youll need to do this after each coat of primer its a laborious process, but it will result in a wonderfully smooth primer coat when youve finished.

WASH OFF THE DEBRIS

APPLY THE COLOUR COAT

The main coat rests on top of the primer, and is key to the final look of your new paint job. Applying primer will be good practice here, as the main coat will be very prone to running. Apply at least four or five coats, one coat at a time, allowing an hour or so between each coat for it to dry dont be tempted to get it all done in one go. If any of the coats end up with a rough or rippled surface, then go to step 21.

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APPLY MASK ING TAPE AND L INE TAPE

Dont be tempted to use masking tape for painting straight edges. Spray paint can seep into its sides, creating whats called paint creep, ruining any straight lines. For straight edges, youll need vinyl line tape not only is this waterproof, but it can also be bent into curves as well as straight lines. This flexibility makes it perfect for creating go-faster stripes, plus elaborate details such as curved flames or logos.

With a coat of gloss white paint applied to our case on top of the primer, we opted to create some go-faster stripes on our case. By masking sections of the white paint, all you then have to do is paint the whole case the final colour a glossy red in our case. We used masking tape to fill the centre of the lines, and then applied vinyl line tape to mask the edges.

MARK UP DETAILS

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REMOVE MASK ING

Let the paint dry completely before removing the masking tape; not doing so can result in paint running into areas that were masked. Allow enough time for drying then gently remove the masking. If any paint has strayed, this can be touched up with a fine brush after spraying some paint into a pot. If the straying is extensive, consider masking small areas off and then respraying.

As well as issues with masking, check the case for paint creep and imperfections in the paintwork, such as hairs, dust or insects. These will be difficult to remove once the lacquer has been applied, so now is the time to sort them out, even if it means sanding and respraying sections.

INSPECT FOR IMPERFECTIONS

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If you end up with a rough or rippled surface, dont fret. All you have to do is sand down the area, as you did with the primer, so that its smooth, and you can then start again. You can do this if dust or insects become trapped in the paint while its drying too, but youll need to make sure the paint is dry before attempting it.

SAND THE PAINT, IF NECESSARY

WASH THE CASE

Allow the colour coats to dry thoroughly overnight. Not doing so will mean that theyre soft enough to pick up fingerprints with even small amounts of pressure. Once the paint is dry, give the case a final wash to prepare the surface for the final coat 112 lacquer, which will add shine to your work and protect it.

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APPLY L ACQUER TO L ARGE AREAS

Start by lacquering a large area, such as a side panel, to see how the lacquer settles, and how much to use on smaller sections. Use a slower, more generous movement than with the other coats, allowing the lacquer to gel and create a shiny layer. If possible, practise first using some spare material. Youll need at least three or four layers of lacquer the thickness will determine your cases resistance to scratches.

Smaller sections will need more attention to prevent the lacquer from running, or building up in corners or troughs. It will dry hard, so youll want to apply it thinly in these areas. Once youre finished, leave the lacquer to harden overnight. Its best to leave it in a garage or somewhere outside of your house the fumes emitted while drying are pungent.

L ACQUER SMALLER PARTS

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As with respraying cars, your newly painted case will respond well to some T-Cut, which will help to buff the layer of lacquer and smooth out any imperfections as you rub it. Use the same method as you would when polishing a car circular movements with plenty of pressure. After that, remove the residue with a clean cloth. If you opted for a gloss paint, you can achieve an impressive shine.

POL ISH WITH T-CUT

If you needed to dismantle your case then now is the time to assemble it. Dont be tempted to do this before the lacquer has hardened its all too easy to knock a side panel or scratch the case as you put everything back together. After that, youre finished you can now sit back and admire your painting skills.

PUT EVERYTHING BACK TOGETHER

If you dont fancy spraying your case yourself, or youre after a more elaborate job, such as powder coating or anodising, there are professionals who can do it for you. For around 100, you can send off your case and have a professional apply your dream colour scheme; for a little more theyll spray the inside and outside of your case with your desired designs too. Check out www.chilledpc.co.uk for more information. Meanwhile, there are plenty of companies that offer custom decals and logos too. Etches and stickers are also a great way of adding a unique touch to your case, and adding the icing to the cake. Check out www.kustompcs.co.uk, which stocks a variety of custom decals.

PROFESSIONAL PAINT JOBS, CUSTOM LOGOS AND DECALS

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for the win!

WIN! A Fractal Design Define R4 case


I
WORTH 90 EACH
fyoulikeyourPCtolooksmartandstylish thenyoumayhavefoundyourselftakinga fancytoFractalDesignsDefineR4(seep42), andwedontblameyouitsalovely-looking case.Italsoboastssuperbbuildquality,with asolidcombinationofsteelandplastic,anda lustworthybrushed-aluminiumfrontfascia. Itsquiettoo,withthefoam-linedside panelshelpingtodeadenfannoise,anditcan accommodateboth120mmand140mmfans, soyoucanpushplentyofairthroughthecase withouthavingtorunyourfansatsillyspeeds. Thecaseincludesanintegratedthree-speed (5V,7Vand12V)fancontrollerhiddenbehind thefront,andtheresapairofUSB3portson thetop-mountedfrontpanelaswell. Meanwhile,theresplentyofroomfor decenthardwareinside,includingclearance

UP FOR GRABS

foraCPUcoolerwithaheightofupto170mm, androomforeight3.5indrivesinthestandard cages;theresalsoafurtherpairof2.5in mountsbehindthemotherboardforSSDs. FormoreinformationabouttheDefineR4, visitwww.fractal-design.com Tobeinwithachanceofwinningoneof thesefantastic,stylishcases,answerthe questionbelow.

Q
114 October 2012

WhatdoesATXstandfor? a)AcceleratedThreadedXeon b)AdvancedTechnologyeXtended c)ArmouredTankXylophone

with Fractal Design Competition 109 in the Subject line.


Closing date: 12 October, 2012

competition@custompc.co.uk

Email your answer to

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Letters
CASES FOR SEVEN GRAPHICS CARDS
Ive been aware of Folding@home for some time, but Ive never been overly interested in the GPU processing side of it. Recently this changed and Ive been cobbling together a dedicated GPU-processing PC from some second-hand bits and pieces. The massive computational power of modern cards makes forays into Folding@home an interesting hobby. Plus, there are other greyer sides to GPUprocessing machines, such as hash cracking and bitcoin mining, that are also made possible with a dedicated GPU machine. Currently, I have an Asus Supercomputer P6T7 WS motherboard, an LGA1366 Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a generic hard drive, but my question relates to PSUs and cases. The P6T7 motherboard has a whopping total of seven PCI-E slots, and I fully intend to fill each one of them throughout the course of the PCs lifetime. Of course, Im aware that fitting multiple PCI-E cards in a motherboard reduces the speed of each slot, but I dont see this being a problem, as its a calculation machine rather than a gaming machine. However, I would like some advice on which cases would be appropriate for all those PCI-E cards. I know that PCI-E risers are available to give you more flexibility when fitting cards in a machine. However, you then end up with a load of cards that are still flapping about in the breeze. What are you supposed to do with all those cards? You cant screw them all into the

Send us your feedback and correspondence to editor@custompc.co.uk, with Letter in the Subject line
SilverStonesTJ12prototypesixdualslotgraphicscardsinthesamecase

case, and Im not aware of any external housing you could use. Plus another issue is that the flexible riser cards you can buy provide flexibility in one plane, but no more flexibility in any other plane. Thats the quandary. Im hoping you guys have some insight on this issue. James Wilmington Ben replies: Seven graphics cards? Thats a serious folding rig youre putting together, and I really admire your determination. Of course, pretty much any ATX case will have backplates for seven single-slot graphics cards youll just have to put up with a lot of noise, and make sure theres plenty of airflow going through the case to prevent them from overheating. However, I suspect this isnt

what youre asking, and that youre actually looking at installing seven dual-slot graphics cards in the same case. In truth, we havent seen a case that can do this yet, but we have seen something close. At Computex last year, we saw a prototype of SilverStones TJ12 case, which could accommodate six dual-slot graphics cards in the same case, using an ingenious system of PCI-E extender daughterboards connected to the motherboard via flexible PCI-E data cables. Its an odd arrangement to look at, with the graphics cards seemingly floating above the motherboard, but they all screw firmly into place. The other bonus of this is that not only can you get six graphics cards in the same case, but theres also plenty of airflow space between them. We havent heard anything from SilverStone about this since then, but maybe you should write to the company and encourage it to put the case into production.

CORE AND ORDER


I was reading your magazine, and on p108 of Issue 107, I saw the How to overclock an Intel Core i5-3570K guide. All the settings are fine, but theres one issue. At the bottom of the page with the results, you say the CPU is a Core

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FEEDBACK

i5-3770K, but thats the model number for a Core i7. Is this right? Im using a 3770K, which is overclocked to 4.7GHz. I wish I could get it to 5GHz with a better cooler but, as you know, Ivy Bridge CPUs get really high temps. Dariusz Stachowski Ben replies: Nope, thats most definitely not right, Dariusz well spotted. The CPU we used was indeed a Core i5-3570K, not a Core i7 chip. Congratulations on your 3770Ks 4.7GHz overclock though. Im not sure a better cooler would get you much further than that the problem with the heat from that CPU is that its all concentrated into a very small space under the heatspreader even our test chip wont go any higher than 4.8GHz, and thats with a dual 120mm liquid-cooling system on full blast.

Follow us on Twitter at @custompcmag


@BiggKennyIstheRadeon HD7870reallyworththeextra cashovera7850?Assumebothare overclocked. Ben:Yes,the7870hasmorestream processorsandtextureunitsits noticeablyquickernotjustaclock speedbump. @JaffoAfterreading@ CustomPCMag,Imnow downloadingtheHRTPforSkyrim. WishIdknownaboutit113hoursago! @Sean_W19IhaveanAsus D2X.Whichwouldbebetterfor gaming?AnAsusVulcan,Corsair Vengeance1500orapairof Sennheisers? Ben:Ifyouwanttogetthesoundfrom yourD2X,thenyoullwantananalogue connection,ratherthanUSB,which automaticallydisqualifiestheCorsair Vengeance1500.GofortheAsus VulcanANCitnotonlyhasanalogue audioconnectors,butitsalsoour gamingheadsetofchoice(seep32). @TobyJKingIlovethatCustom PCmugthatsgiventonew subscribers.Canitbepurchased? @craigthebeard84Idea:what aboutgivingsomethingbackto alltheloyalsubscribers?Themugsfor signingupnowaregreat! #herefromthestart Ben:Wow,loadsofpeoplehavebeen askingaboutthemugthismonthit seemstobequiteamazinglypopular. Illaskthepowersthatbe. @JoshJeffheadBeena subscriberforafewyears,but thismonthsissuehashelpedmethe most.Usingancorrectly. #BlewMyMind @thebiganzIvesubscribed sinceIssue1.Lookingbackat beattheofficePCnowseemslike yesterday.Actuallyitwas2004. Ben:Youllbepleasedtoknowthat the2.6GHzPentium4Engineering SampleusedinIssue1sBeatThe OfficePCisnowenjoyingahappy retirementinmymediacentrePC! @Ghobson1985Howwouldone goaboutorderingabackissue?I wanttheliquidcoolingone:) Ben:Ah,thatsmyfavouriteone.My bestadviceistopickupthedigital versionfromhttp://gb.zinio.com, whereyoucanbuydigitalversionsof mostofourrecentbackissuesIssue 107costs3.50.Failingthat,yourbest betiseBay.

UpgradingtoanSSD willmakeamuchbigger differencethananew motherboardandCPU

GIVE OLDER K IT A CHANCE


I read with interest your editorial concerning upgrading to an SSD. In the editorial, you mention people still using a Core 2 Quad or first-generation Core i7 system wanting to gut their system and install a new Ivy Bridge setup. The brand-new PC I built at Christmas is new Core i7 930 on an Asus Sabertooth LGA1366 motherboard, with 12GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3 memory, an H100 cooler and an MSI GTX 580. Its by far the fastest computer Ive owned, and it breezes through Battlefield 3, The Witcher 2, Crysis et al with everything at the highest settings, and with truly mindboggling frame rates. I also decided to try my hand at this overclocking lark, and was pleasantly surprised to see my humble CPU reach around 4.5GHz with little change in the temperatures (though no really appreciable change in the gameplay). As such, I dont

really feel inclined to upgrade my new computer to a newer Ivy Bridge system. In fact, to pile on the agony, Im in the process of upgrading to a Core 2 Quad Q6600 system from my wifes current AMD Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition setup. In everything Ive read about it, the Core 2 Quad is a good upgrade from the present AMD CPU, which is showing its age and getting a little slow. My point is that you might have quite a few readers who arent early adopters, dont

have unlimited budgets and are really interested in getting the best they can from what they have. I know the Core 2 Quad is old now, but is the Core i7 930 a museum piece already? Is it now to be shunned because its too old to be considered? My next upgrades for both machines will be SSDs, probably for my new computer first, followed by the Core 2 Quad. This isnt intended to be a lot of criticism. I really enjoy the magazine and keeping up
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FEEDBACK

IntelsSandyBridgeEamazingfor multi-threadedworkstationsoftware, butitneedsseriouscoolingifyouwant tooverclockit

WHERES THIS SANDY BRIDGE E SYSTEM?


Im loving the new magazine layout, guys, its looking really good. However, in Issue 101, you reviewed a load of new LGA2011 motherboards and Intels new Core i7 CPUs. Throughout the reviews you kept mentioning that they need a decent watercooling system to overclock them efficiently. Then, in the back of the same issue, in the Coming next month section, one of the articles was going to be on Scans epic building skills. Scan was going to put together a water-cooled system to tame Intels Sandy Bridge E. I assumed this wasnt the fake article, because one of the other articles was on hacking banks and thats just illegal! I waited eagerly for the next issue to find out the potential of combining a fully overclocked Intel Core i7-3930K CPU with decent water-cooling. To my disappointment, there was no mention of it in Issue 102, or any issue since to my recollection. Have I overlooked the article? Could you tell me if its coming soon or if its already been published? Im interested in the full potential of the Core i7-3930K CPU, as Im currently using Autodesk Maya 2011 for my university course and I could do with a super-fast PC. I have around 2,000 as a budget, as well as 300 reserved for water cooling. I dont even know if these amounts will suffice, or what I would have to buy in order to cool a fully overclocked i7-3930K. Please help! Nikki Beestin

Get a kick out of pointing out the shortcomings of others? Its okay so do we
ANOTHER LEVELW
Onp56ofIsssue108itsays:depending onthetypeofswitch,havedifferent levelwsofresistance.LasttimeI checkedtherewasnowinlevels:P AntonyBragg,viaFacebook

with developments in technology, but I feel its important not to write off older tech just because of its age. I also feel that, outside the world of benchmarking and speed competitions, a lot of peoples real-world experiences dont always reflect the outcome of the testing process. Dale Latimer Ben replies: I agree with you completely, and I think you may have misunderstood the point of that part of my column. My point wasnt to encourage people to gut their older systems to install new Ivy Bridge kit, but to say that people with components such as yours would be much better off replacing their system hard drive with an SSD, rather than swapping out the CPU, motherboard, memory and so on for whats basically not much of a speed increase in real-world terms. The difference made by an SSD, in terms of general computer usage, will be much greater than the difference from going to a Core i7 930 to an Ivy Bridge setup. As a side point, Im also a big fan of getting the most out of your older kit, rather than just chucking out everything every couple of years. As youll see in the Twitter Highlights (see previous page), Ive even found a home for my ancient Socket 478 Pentium 4 system.

Ben replies: Thanks for your positive comments about the magazines new formula, Nikki, Im glad youre enjoying what were doing. As you probably noticed, there were a lot of changes to the magazine between Issue 101 and when I took over on Issue 103. The Coming next month section in Issue 101 was basically written by a different editorial team the Scan Sandy Bridge E system to which we referred definitely wasnt a joke. If Im honest, my first priority when I took over wasnt to go through previous Coming next month sections before the one in Issue 102 I honestly just forgot about it. Interestingly, though, while discussing the Ivy Bridge gaming rig in Issue 106, we chatted to Scan about the potential for getting in an all-singing, all-dancing Sandy Bridge E system, and now that former Custom PC editor James Gorbold (see p130) is helping Scan to spec up its top-end 3XS systems, this could be a really interesting idea to follow up. Watch this space.

Harryhasjustrealisedthathesbeenaberk,and calledtheAlphacoolNexXxosUT60theAlphacool NexXxosXT60throughoutourwatercoolingLabsin Issue107.Simplyput,itssoldastheUT60,NOTthe XT60.Weapologisefortheconfusion.

COR R E C T I O N

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Join our folding team and help medical research

WHAT IS FOLDING?

Folding@homeusesthespareprocessingcyclesfromyourPCsCPUandgraphicscardsformedicalresearch.Youcandownload theclientfromhttp://folding.stanford.edu/download.htmlandourteamsIDis35947.Onceyoupassasignificantmilestone, youllgetyournameinthemag.Youcanalsodiscussfoldingwithusandotherreadersonthewww.bit-tech.netforums.

We catch up with folder of the month: : Votick


CPC:Sowhoareyouandwhatdoyoudo? Votick: My name is Chris, and Im an IT support engineer for BrightVisions in Cambridgeshire. CPC:Whatpromptedyoutostartfolding? Votick:It was probably the first issue of CustomPC I purchased way back in 2008. I made an account and started to fold, but had to pack it in shortly afterwards. My 1GHz Athlon K8 didnt manage very well, sadly, as it took days to complete a unit. I then returned in 2010, and Ive been active ever since, mainly via GPU folding. CPC:Whataspectexcitesyouthemost aboutfolding? Votick: The fact that my PCs are a part of the worlds largest distributed supercomputer, joining with others from around the world to help with the study of protein folding in diseases such as Alzheimers, Huntingtons and many cancers. CPC:Howmanymachinesdoyoucurrently havefolding? Votick: I have around four machines that fold, although only two run 24/7; both of these are servers. My main gaming PC (an overclocked Phenom 1055T running at 3.5GHz with a GTX 680) turfs out the most points (around 25,000 ppd), but its turned off when not in use. Meanwhile, the two servers run SMP clients on an AMD FX-4 4100 X4 Bulldozer and an Intel Xeon i7 W3520, both of which fold using around 50 per cent of the CPU resources, to allow room for general use. Most of the PCs are at home, although various servers are in data centres, which is handy for folding, as they stay very cool. CPC:Doyouintendtokeepupyourcurrent productionlevel? Votick: Sadly not. My main spike in points recently was made possible while I was beta-testing some cloud computing products. However, this has inspired me to build a dedicated folding rig to keep up my production. CPC:Anytipsforfellowteammembers? Votick: I see this in every issue, and I have to repeat it, as its a very important tip: sign up to the forums and get to know the others in the team! Some great tips can be found on the forum, which can enable you to squeeze more units out of your hardware. CPC:Whatsyourworstfoldingexperience? Votick: Probably burning out a GeForce 8800 GTX because it overheated. R.I.P. CPC:Andthebest? Votick: Ive really enjoyed participating in the Chimps Challenge event for the past three years. Sadly, I missed this years challenge, but Ill be in on the next one hopefully with more power! CPC:Whatwouldyouchangeaboutyour setup,ifanything? Votick: Id like to swap out my overclocked AMD Phenom 1055T for an Intel Core-i7, which I would then use as an occasional folding machine. Once Id done that, the AMD CPU and motherboard could then be turned into a dedicated folding rig. However, I need to save up some pennies first. Teamrank186 Worldrank7,167 Score4,189,623 Workunits5,547 Dailypointsaverage7,021 TOPFOLDERS Thismonthsshout-outsgotoScorpuk, johnim,PaulChapman,fatchef,kirk_hobson anddebs3759.Ifyoufoldunderanyofthese names,emaileditor@custompc.co.uk
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MILESTONES THIS MONTH


Username Points milestone Username Points milestone Username Points milestone Username Points milestone

DJcarrot Jamie matthewed wardcornish Pickles96 Youtube BelgiumPress a5pin Aesir Anselm Eltresino MalecAndBrinn

20000 20000 20000 20000 20000 30000 30000 30000 30000 30000

tompdb david_thomas 1903 jpostlethwaite ThreeFN Borden GrammarSchool Detsawm KINGOF THESWING baggins Daysdivinity dixy999 natwilford03 ReDeamer Rosyglo darthvanman Evil_Pillsbury

60000 70000 70000 80000 100000 100000 100000 200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 200000 300000 300000 300000 300000 300000 400000 400000 400000 400000

Archaon88 CCHS Fartlek maxrealism YbrFinX kornvdd Munky toothytech Antec-G Osiris_Blue zit_z_pps ForGrace yes beads Dobbs2010 Humwawa Number14 geonectixs Igniseus kirk_hobson Laguna2012

500000 500000 500000 500000 500000 600000 600000 600000 700000 700000 700000 800000 800000 900000 900000 900000 900000 1000000 1000000 1000000 1000000

Pete ShortMunky chelseascum firth72 PRJKITCH Slowlemon Daniel_Selley gordon_wardlaw JazzNazz Leevor SicoAnimal Abomin81on Votick debs3759 KevinWright Mark_Skeldon TheAbyssDragon cave_diver davidj2010 JediMasterJonny Scorpuk

1000000 1000000 2000000 2000000 2000000 2000000 3000000 3000000 3000000 3000000 3000000 4000000 4000000 5000000 5000000 5000000 5000000 7000000 7000000 7000000 7000000

Rykard_Maximus 30000 EricK humphrey K.I.T.T. Raoul589 Eldorado-Bittech_ gfos2 RandomDecoy TheManicGibbon {HSP}Dazzler KyralTim SirBenjamin Nunn 40000 40000 40000 40000 50000 50000 50000 50000 60000 60000 60000

Filce Taffers toxic43 Filce Fuseunder ground SourDipRaita TokerRizla

THE NEXT OVERTAKE


World Team name rank Points Daily points average Time until overtake

CustomPC& bit-tech

5,413,845,616

3,721,133

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HTTP://FORUMS.BIT-TECH.NET

TOP 20 OVERALL
Rank Username Points milestone
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

TOP 20 PRODUCERS
Work units
107,186 140,363 93,954 15,794 141,158 59,963 71,877 46,589 5,663 32,148 3,107 45,372 8,714 33,572 27,465 6,865 86,274 162,571 36,689 51,047

Username
Dave_Goodchild DocJonz phoenicis zz9pzza coolamasta Lizard StreetSam CustomBitChimps Wallace Christopher_N._Lewis BennieboyUK saspro fir3x Standin_wave Nelio One_Box PS3/LanDi greenfrog.biz The_M2B Lordsoth

Points
381,086,302 234,674,005 223,349,417 211,014,628 193,221,222 130,940,425 105,983,638 94,376,547 87,165,477 83,773,042 61,286,969 57,534,603 56,658,911 50,874,887 49,880,646 48,855,411 48,279,418 47,697,607 47,214,549 43,275,895

Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Username
DocJonz Christopher_N._ Lewis Nelio coolamasta One_Box Wallace LordBadger Scorpuk The_M2B fir3x Lordsoth PC_Rich fatchef kirk_hobson Slowlemon Leroyingo PaulChapman Mark_Rowe johnim debs3759

Dailypointsaverage
415,343 338,525 294,821 231,719 161,757 159,446 79,483 78,772 75,720 73,575 71,168 65,496 56,875 55,354 51,477 42,878 42,864 41,673 40,551 30,814

Overallscore
234,674,005 83,773,042 49,880,646 193,221,222 48,855,411 87,165,477 30,285,135 7,390,494 47,214,549 56,658,911 43,275,895 41,187,277 13,257,012 1,321,428 2,754,866 17,342,197 12,966,304 31,321,512 38,291,456 5,174,578

Serpentine TheFlipside julianvt _Fanatic Angy LordBadger PC_Rich PeteBee Christopher_N._ Lewis

7000000 7000000 8000000 9000000 20000000 30000000 40000000 40000000 80000000

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Coming next month in


Power supplies Make a temperaturesensitive light system

Harrysbeenstockpilingaveritable mountainof500-850Wpower suppliesinourlab,whichhesgoing topushtotheirlimits,readyfora massiveLabstestnextmonth.

IfyouwerebaffledbytheArduino Leonardoreview(seep44)thenpay attentiontothiscrackingguidefrom GarethsHalfacreenextissue.

PC building masterclass

WhetheryourenewtothisPC-building lark,orjustwantsometipsoncablerouteing,wellshowyouhowtoput togetheragreatcomputer.

Wedontjustmeanremovingtheside panelsAntonyLeathershowsyouhow tocompletelydismantleyourcaseand drilloutalltherivets,forpropermodding.


*Pleasenotethatthesestoriesaresubjecttoproductdelays,kit notturningupandseveraldaysspentimpalingcouriersonspikes, whileweconsumeburritosandrumamidtheirdesperatecries.

How to dismantle your case

On sale 20 September, 2012

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Gareth Halfacree managed to get hold of a brand new, unopened Sinclair ZX81 kit from 1981. Now he readies his soldering iron to see how the computer building process has changed over the last three decades...

hefactthatyourereadingthis magazinemeansthatyouremore thanlikelyfamiliarwiththeconcept ofbuildingyourownPC.Putting togetheryourowncomputerwasntalways aseasyasthestandardisedjigsawpuzzlewe havenowthough.Togiveyouanideaofjust whatitmeanttobeasystembuilderbackin thebadolddays,weregoingtotakeyouona tripdownmemorylanetothegoldeneraof microcomputing:the1980s. Forthebenefitofyoungerreaders,the 1980swasamagicaltime.Despitealittle warandsomeunpopulardecisionsbythe firstfemaleprimeminister,Margaret Thatcher,the1980sisrememberedby mostgeeksasbeingthebirthofwhat youmayrecogniseasthecomputing era.Microcomputerssimple, 8-bitmachineswithverylittle memoryweretakingthe worldbystorm,andBritain wasattheforefront.At thestartofthedecade, SinclairComputers foundedfromthe ashesofClive SinclairsSinclair Radionicswouldoffer theworldsfirsthome computerforunder100:theZX80.

FollowingthesuccessoftheZX80,andthe launchoftheAcornAtomfromSinclairs bitterrival(andformeremployee)Chris Curry,Sinclairdemandedmore:abug-fixed systemthatcouldbesoldforevenless money.TheresultwastheZX81. Launched,asthenamesuggests,in1981, theZX81cost 69.95bymailorderdirectly fromSinclair.Ifyouwereacheapskate,orof acuriousmindset,however,youcouldalso opttobuythemachineinkitformforjust 49.95theequivalentofaround170now; andthiswasatatimewhenrivalmachines costclosertothe300mark. Foryourcash,youacquiredamachine basedaroundtheZilogZ80processoror

acompatiblechipfromNECrunningat 3.5MHz,withawhopping1KBofRAManda copyofSinclairBASICheldinan8KBROM (read-onlymemory). Itseasytoscoffatthenow-meagre specifications,buttogetarealsenseofhow timeshavechangedtheresonlyonething forit:togettheDeLoreanupto88mphand getourhandsonakit-formZX81forsome microcomputerbuildingaction. Afterwaitingtherequired28daysfor deliverythepostalservicewasdifferent backthen,andSinclairwasntabovetaking peoplesmoneyfordevicesthatdidntquite existwereturnedto2012withourveryown ZX81kit.Intheboxwefoundaplasticcasing finishedinfuturisticblack, alongwithasurprisingly compact,printed circuitboard,apower supplytowhichwellhave toattachourownpluglater someleadsforatape recorder,anRFmodulator, akeyboard,andseveral bagsofcomponents. Lookinginthebags, somecomponentsare moreobviously recognisablethanothers. AbagofblackICs,for

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Thediagramontheback oftheboxshowshowto hookupthecomputer, butsaysnothingabout theamountofsoldering involvedinbuildingit

example,areroughlythesameparts Othercomponentsareless THE ROM CHIP IS THE ONLY ONasamoderncomputerhastoday:an obvious:thetransparentbags, BOARD STORAGE. PERMANENTLY packeddutifullybySinclair NECD780C-1istheCPU,apincompatibleZilogZ80clone,whilea assembly-lineworkersanxiousnot BURNED INTO THE CHIP IS THE pairof512-byte2114RAMchipstake tobecomeanotherunemployment BOOTLOADER EQUIVALENT TO statistic,containanassortmentof theplaceofDIMMs. A BIOS IN A MODERN PC LessrecognisablearetheFerranti resistors,diodes,capacitorsand UncommittedLogicArray(ULA)and transistorsandnotasurfaceasystem-on-chip(SoC)aboutitifyouignore theROM,markedSinclairResearch. mountcomponentinsight.Eachone thelackofon-boardCPU. TheformeristhesecretofSinclairslowneedstobeattachedtothePCBbyhandand TheROMchipistheZX81sonlyon-board costsuccess:theULAisasemi-custom intherightlocationmeaningthatwere storage.Permanentlyburnedintothechipis chipwhichtakesontherolesof12ofthe goingtohavetoaddasolderingirontoour thebootloaderforthedevicetheequivalent chipsfoundintheoriginalZX80,reducingthe PC-buildingtoolkitforthefirsttimeinyears. toaBIOSorEFIinamodernPCalongwith complexityandcostdramatically.Itsalmost Afteridentifyingallofthecomponentsand acopyoftheZX81soperatingsystem: liketheNorthbridgeandSouthbridgeofa matchingthemtotheprovidedassembly SinclairBASIC. modernPC,althoughitalsohasshadesof guide,itstimetostartthebuild.

TheblackICsareroughlythesamepartsasthoseofa moderncomputer,withaCPUandapairofRAMchips

TheZX81includesanRF(aerialsocket)modulator(left)asstandard.However,weregoingtodoalittlemodding,and replaceitwithaunitthatscapableofoutputtingacompositesignalforcurrentTVs(right) 126

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The first step is to insert all the resistors that lay flat on the board. There are other resistors to fit, but well add these later, as they need to stand upright. Each resistor location on the board requires a specific value, which you read from the resistor by decoding the colour stripes on its body. The wrong resistor in the wrong place means a dead ZX81. Just to make matters even more complicated, some positions on the board are left empty. There are no handy PCI slots or ZIF sockets for these components, either; once inserted, you need to flip over the board and solder each resistor into place a total of 26 solder joints are needed to complete this first step.

Just when we thought wed seen the last resistor, Sinclair throws in a curveball: a set of resistor packs. These contain several resistors in a single long package with a common pin at the end, saving even more space.Whilethesehavetheirvaluesprinted on the side meaning that we dont have to squint at coloured bands they need to be soldered to the board with the common pin pointing towards the C marking on the PCB. Another 15 solder points for these brings us to 81 in total. The iron is starting to feel remarkably heavy now.

Next, we need to solder the diodes to the keyboard port. Diodes act as electronic gates, so that electricity can flow in one direction but not the other. In some ways, the diodes are easy to fit; unlike the resistors, they all have the same value and only fit in one location. However, the diodes are polarised, meaning that they need to be fitted with the thick band pointing upwards, or the keyboard wont work. Another 16 solder points in this step brings us to 42 so far the sweat is starting to build and the fumes are getting troublesome.

More resistors! To save board space and therefore money Sinclairs engineers opted to fit some resistors standing upright. This means that each of these resistors needs to be carefully bent into shape, inserted into the holes and then held in place while the board is flipped. After soldering another 24 joints for a running total of 66 each resistor is inspected to make sure that it isnt touching any of its neighbours and causing a short circuit.

Finally, were able to have a little break from resistors, as its now time to solder the capacitors to the board. These store small amounts of electricity like a very small battery and provide smoothing for various important signals. Some are ceramic discs, which are no more difficult to fit than resistors. However, the blue drum-shaped electrolytic capacitors have a specific polarity, like diodes, which means that you have to carefully investigate the markings on the PCB. Another 24 more solder points and weve broken the century at 105 in total and were barely halfway through the build process.

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CUSTOMISATION

As with a modern PC, the ZX81 needs a heatsink but it isnt the CPU well be protecting. A 5V regulator takes the incoming 9V feed from the power supply and turns it into power the logic circuits can use, but in doing so, it becomes very warm indeed. A sharp-edged slab of metal bolted to the regulator provides some cooling and more so when we deviated from the instructions a little by adding some silicone thermal paste. Just three solder joints required this time, meaning that weve now had 256 so far.

Next comes a trio of miscellaneous components: three-legged transistors, which are significantly smaller than the tip of your finger, and a ceramic filter. The filter can go on the board any way around, but the transistors need to be aligned with the outline on the PCB. This is a short step, and adds nine solder points to the total, bringing us to a sweat-inducing sum of 114.

Sockets and slots make matters a lot easier when youre building a modern-day PC system, but not when you have to solder them on yourself. The IC sockets protect the chips from the heat of soldering. Well add the sockets now, then put the chips in them towards the end of the build. This part is seriously time-consuming; the ULA (uncommitted logic array) and CPU sockets both have 40 pins, while the ROM has 24 and the RAM has 18, plus a further 17 for the two keyboard connectors thats a whopping 139 solder joints, more than doubling our total at 253. At this point, we had to open a window for some fresh air.

A trio of 3.5mm jacks provide connections for a tape recorder as an input device for loading software and a storage device for saving software and the 9V power supply. While wed question the logic of having a power supply that uses the same plug as a set of headphones, were trusting Clive on this one. At the same time, were swapping out the Sinclair-supplied RF modulator, which provides an analogue video signal for older TV sets, for a ZXVid. Designed by Andy Rea , and built by Ian Gledhill, the ZXVid provides a highquality, stable composite video output, providing a much cleaner picture and support for modern LCD TVs. Another 13 solder joints in this step brings the total to 269 and we can finally shut down the iron and mop our fevered brows.

Its finally time to put in the chips. The workhorse ULA is placed next to the modulator, followed by the ROM towards the bottom of the board. Meanwhile, the Z80 CPU is situated in the middle, and the two RAM chips sit towards the righthand side of the PCB. Each needs to have its legs carefully bent inwards by pushing against a flat surface theyre manufactured with slightly splayed legs, a trait continued by ICs today before being pushed firmly into the socket. Bend a pin, and its game over. At least theres no more soldering.
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CUSTOMISATION

Officially, its now time to install the ZX81 in its case: but this is Custom PC, so we cant resist a little mod. Ferranti designed the ULA to run at around 50 per cent utilisation, but the ZX81 runs it closer to 75 per cent meaning that it gets extremely hot. This leads to premature failure, and we dont fancy forking out for the plutonium needed to make another trip to 1981 to pick up a replacement. Some thermal tape and a low-profile heatsink should head trouble off at the pass.

Its now time to connect the keyboard. Sinclair had what were going to generously call an original approach to keyboard design, and the ZX81 is no exception. The sealed membrane keyboard means that it was cheap to manufacture and reasonably resistant to spills, but it creates a typing experience described by the BBCs Micro Men as like trying to read Braille through a pair of gardening gloves. Third-party replacements were popular, but well stick with the original, which slides through the case and connects to the PCB through a pair of very fiddly and fragile cables.

Finally, its time to assemble the case. Unlike a modern PC case, the ZX81s housing is made entirely from lovely cheap plastic. The PCB is placed onto the lid not the base of the case face-down and secured with two screws. The bottom half of the case is then attached with a further five screws, and the system can be flipped over into its correct orientation. At this point, its easy to see why the ZX81 earned the nickname doorstop.

With power connected, and a composite video cable running to a classic CRT TV, the ZX81 flickers into life some 31 years after the kit was placed in its box. Theres no whirr of fans or hard drives, or even the reassurance of a glowing LED to let you know its functioning, but the machine is working hard nevertheless. Our efforts are rewarded with a blank white screen, and a cursor awaiting our instructions. What better way to christen the device than a short program designed to duplicate albeit rather clumsily the CustomPC logo, we thought? Well, aside from Crysis and if you can figure out a way to make that work, be sure to let us know at the usual address. CPC

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Everything you need to know about Windows Phone, in one place.


The Ultimate Guide To

Top Windows Phone handsets tested and rated Find out all the tips, tricks and shortcuts The best apps and games to download

Order your print or digital copy direct from magbooks.com or call 0844 844 0053
MagBooks cover a range of topics, from IT to Motoring, and Fitness to Lifestyle WorldMags.net

MOVING PAINS

james gorbold

James Gorbold discovers that moving home has become all the more complicated for PC enthusiasts in 2012
hadtoaddathirdquestiontomylistofprioritieswhenhouse-hunting isfastbroadbandaccessavailable? Infact,Ivealreadyhadtoturndownseveralotherwiseattractive houses.Takethedetachedhouseoverlookingalakewithsome mountainsinthedistanceasanexample.Despitebeingpartofa housingestatebuiltinthelastfewyears,andbeinglocatedlessthan fivemilesawayfromseverallargeindustrialestates,noneoftheISPs Iapproachedcouldguaranteeaconnectionfasterthan1Mb/sec. IknowImnotaloneeither;afriendrecentlyfinishedbuildinghis dreamhomeinsouthWalesonlytofindthat thefastestbroadbandonofferis1.5Mb/sec. Iwasgoingtodescribethisasironic,given thatthevastmajorityofunderseacablesthat connecttheUKtotherestoftheInternetarein southWalesorjustacrosstheBristolChannel, butIvecometotheconclusionthatitsmore tragicthanironic. Whatthisnowmeansisthatinadditionto keepingtheusualhouse-huntingwebsitessuchasRightmoveopen inFirefox,IalsohavetokeepaneyeonallthemajorISPsandtheir paltryselectionofservices.GiventhattheUKapparentlygenerates moremoneyonlinethananyotherG20country[source:http://tinyurl. com/slowuk],whatarePCenthusiastssupposedtodo?Iforonedont fancytheideaofclusteringtogetherintherun-down,boarded-up urbanmetropolisesofthiscountryinthehopeofgettingfast broadbandaccess,likehobosgatheringroundaburningoilcan. JamesGorboldfellinlovewiththeoriginalIBMPCintheearly 1980sandhasbeenbuilding,tweakingandoverlockingPCsever since.HehaswrittenanarticleinalmosteveryissueofCustom PCandnowhelpsScanComputerstodevelopnewsystems.

hileIwasintendingtowritemyfirstnewCustomPC columnabouthardware,overthepastfewweeks,a farmorepressingandworrisomeissuethanmynext memoryupgradehascometolight.Despitethisbeing2012,theyear oftheLondonOlympics,whichissurelyallabouttheneedforspeed, broadbandaccessisstillwoefullypooracrossmuchoftheUK. Ofcourse,Irealisethisishardlygoingtobestartlingnewstoany ofyou;numerousreportshaveconsistentlyshownthattheUKhas amongtheslowestbroadbandconnectionsinEurope.Whatthe headlinefigureslistedinthesestoriesdont oftenshow,however,isthevariationin broadbandspeedsacrosstheUK.Thisis somethingthatsrecentlybeenbroughthome tome,asImcurrentlyrelocatingtoadifferent partofthecountryforthefirsttimeintenyears. Backthen,almosttheonlychoiceifyou wantedbroadbandwasa512Kb/secor1Mb/ secInternetconnection.Theprioritised questionswhenhouse-huntingwerehoweasyisittocommuteto andfromwork?andisthereenoughroomforallmyPCs? Tenyearson,thewayweusetheInternethaschangedsignificantly. Now,ratherthansimplyreadingwebsitesanddownloadingsmall gamedemos,wedownloadmulti-gigabytegamesfromSteamand Origin,streamHDvideosfromYouTube,NetflixandLovefilmand uploadvastquantitiesofdatatoonlinebackuparchivesandmedia sharingsitessuchasFlickr. Basically,amere1Mb/secconnectionisntgoodenoughany more.Infact,evena20Mb/secconnectionfeelsprettyslowattimes. Theproblemisthat,evenin2012,manypartsoftheUKstillonlyoffer amaximumconnectionspeedof1Mb/sec. AsallthesemodernInternetservicesplaysuchakeyroleinmylife (andIimagineahugenumberofCustomPCreaderslivestoo),Ive

None of the ISPs I approached could guarantee a connection faster than 1Mb/sec

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www.novatech.co.uk

www.ebuyer.com

WorldMags.net www.aria.co.uk www.eclipsecomputers.com

Chillblast.com
www.chillblast.com

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