These days, everyone’s got more than one computer in their household. Here are four ways to share a printer with those computers:
Read more at CNET.com…
These days, everyone’s got more than one computer in their household. Here are four ways to share a printer with those computers:
Read more at CNET.com…
Back on September 16, Corsair introduced their new Vengeance line of gaming headsets and peripherals. The Vengeance 1500 headset is the follow up to the Corsair HS1, one of the best gaming headsets available, at any price. The new Corsair Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset is based on the Corsair HS1 USB headset and now looks as good as it sounds.
Corsair makes some of the world’s best PC enclosures; just read all the critical acclaim and awards that their Obsidian and Graphite Series cases have garnered. I had the chance to review the Graphite Series White 600T about six months ago, and was impressed with its interior space, cable management, flexible cooling options and Corsair’s attention to detail. Despite the impressive performance and features of the Graphite and Obisidian Series cases, there’s no question that the premium price kept Corsair’s enclosures out of reach for many people––until now.
To complete their offering of high-performance cases, Corsair has introduced the Carbide Series mid-tower case. As their entry-level case, the 400R promises “everything you need, nothing you don’t” at an MSRP of $99.99. Let’s see if the 400R lives up to that promise.
The exterior of 400R has a very clean and simple design. It doesn’t stand out like the Obsidian or Graphite Series cases do, but the simple design will probably appeal to a lot of people. It’s also a more typical mid-tower size than the 600T.
At 18.5 lbs, the 400R is almost 10 pounds lighter than the 600T. The dimensions are also smaller, all the way around. If you have furniture with say, a standard-sized computer stand or you just need something smaller for your space, the 400R should work out nicely. Like the 600T, the 400R uses a mixture of steel and molded ABS plastic.
As an added convenience, the 400R has a carry handle in the front, which makes it easy to carry around to LAN parties. I also use it to store USB cables for quick access.
Installing components in the 400R was comfortable and easy because of the roomy interior space. The 400R doesn’t have the unique latch mechanisms for the side panels like the 600T, but I didn’t mind using the standard thumb screws. The screws are also conveniently attached to the side panels so you don’t misplace them. The muscular design of the side panels not only make them look cooler, but also increases the space at the sides. This made reattaching the right panel a lot easier. In fact, I didn’t even bother spending the time to tidy up the cables on the right side because the panel shut easily without doing so. If you’re a total neat freak though, there are a fair number of tie-down loops and Corsair even includes a few nylon zip ties.
The motherboard was easy to drop into the 400R, even without a motherboard tray. Large heatsinks also aren’t a problem because of the large CPU cutout. In my initial build, I had a stock air cooler installed and later installed a Corsair H80 water cooler. Because of the CPU cutout, I didn’t have to remove the entire motherboard, just to install mounting brackets for the water block––score! The PSU install was also a cinch and I was able to rout the ATX 8-pin power connector to the motherboard via the cutout for it.
Like the 600T, the 400R has plastic drive caddies. I noticed that the caddies on the 400R are a bit more flexible than the ones in the 600T, but it made no difference in mounting the drives. Hard drives snapped right in to the caddies, without having to mess around with screws or rails. SSD drives can also be mounted into the same caddies, but with the use of screws. This means you no longer have to buy SSD desktop kits or use velcro to safely mount your SSD drive.
Optical drives are even simpler to install, since they use the same tool-free mechanism as the 600T. Just slide the optical drive in until it clicks and you’re done; no screws or rails to slow you down.
Expansion cards pose no installation problems for the 400R and the bracket covers are vented for better airflow. You get eight PCI-E slots with support for up to 316mm (12.4 inch) long expansion cards. So yeah, if you want to set up SLI or CrossFire, the 400R has you covered.
The last thing I want to mention about working inside the 400R are the cable-routing holes. If you read my review of the 600T, then you already know how much I like Corsair’s cable-routing holes. They allow me to keep the case free of cable clutter, resulting in unrestricted airflow and a better looking case.
The 400R comes with three 120mm fans––one rear exhaust and two front intake. The front intake fans also have white LEDs. With the default number of fans, the 400R has good cooling and is pretty quiet. However, if you have greater cooling requirements, the 400R supports up to 10 total fans. You can even install a 240mm radiator at the top of the case. Obviously, cooling options on the 400R are plentiful.
The 400R’s I/O panel is conveniently located at the top and includes 2 x USB 3.0 ports, power switch, HDD LED, mic and headphone jacks, FireWire (1394) port, fan LED on/off switch, and a reset switch. The only issue I had with the I/O panel was that the fan LED on/off switch is located just above the reset switch. Twice, I accidentally hit the reset switch when I meant to hit the fan LED switch. Granted, this happened in the dark, but they’re so close together, I could see myself and others hitting the wrong switch even in the daylight.
The 400R also comes with a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 converter for the motherboard, which is a nice touch. Additionally, the I/O cables are neatly wrapped in a black cover and clearly labeled. I know it’s minor, but it’s probably the best looking I/O cables I’ve seen yet for a PC enclosure.
Finally, I just want to mention another example of the detail that Corsair paid with the 400R. To install optical drives on the 400R, you have to remove the entire front panel of the case. Seasoned system builders have performed this act, countless times in their careers. It goes something like this: unclip the stupid plastic tabs located all over the left and right sides, partially pull the front panel out, unclip the stupid tabs again that clipped back in, then finally remove the front panel completely.
Removing the front panel of the 400R is a different story and it goes something like this: pull the front panel out. Done. The 400R doesn’t use plastic tabs. It’s a little hard to describe, but the 400R uses a circular metal tab that when you give it a quick pull, the entire front panel comes out without fuss. Those Corsair engineers are pret-ty smart.
|Dimensions||20.5″ (H) x 19.8″ (L) x 8.1″ (W)|
|Mobo Support||ATX, mATX|
|Material||Steel structure w/molded ABS plastic accent pieces|
|Drive Bays||5.25” (x4), 3.5”/2.5” (x6) w/drive caddies|
|Cooling||120mm fans w/white LED (x2), 120mm fan (x1)|
|Front I/O Panel||USB 3.0 (x2), IEEE 1394 (x1), Headphone (x1), MIC (x1)|
|Power Supply||ATX (not included)|
The Corsair Carbide Series 400R mid-tower case has hit its mark. For $99, you probably shouldn’t expect too much out of an ATX case, but the 400R has raised the bar. The 400R gives system builders and enthusiasts an affordable alternative to Corsair’s higher-end enclosures, without sacrificing a whole lot. You still get the same Corsair-grade build quality, support, tool-free design, cable-routing holes, roomy interior, flexible cooling and good looks. So yeah, you could say that the 400R has lived up to its billing and is a great way to step into a Corsair case without breaking the bank. I highly recommend it.
Available from Amazon.com.
Review unit provided by Corsair
The Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ USB flash drive has been around since late 2009, but is still a viable solution today because of the added security that it provides. How do you carry sensitive documents around? If you like to carry them on your USB flash drive, then read more about the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ below.
ThinkPad T Series laptops have long been known as the premium enterprise laptop, even back when it was the IBM ThinkPad. The T420 and T520 are Lenovo’s latest T Series ThinkPads that carry on the ThinkPad tradition of strong performance, excellent durability, and flexible management options.
The design of the ThinkPad T420/T520 is classic ThinkPad. The black chassis, red TrackPoint cap, and no-nonsense layout are still distinctly ThinkPad. Lenovo hasn’t stood still, resting on their laurels however. Features like a roll-cage, metal hinges, hard drive impact protection, spill-resistant keyboard and my favorite, the ThinkLight keyboard light, are all a part of what makes a modern ThinkPad, a ThinkPad.
Build quality on the ThinkPad T Series is like no other and you feel it from the very moment you take it out of the box. Fit and finish is superb. The latch, volume and power buttons, UltraNav pointing system, and ports, all have a solid feel to them. This is how a premium business laptop should look and feel.
Both the T420 and T520 offer the latest 2nd Gen Intel Core processors. Currently, the T420 is available with an i5-2520M, i5-2540M, or an i7-2620M. In addition to the CPUs offered with the T420, the T520 can also be configured with an i7-2630QM, i7-2720QM, or an i7-2820QM. Up to 8GB of 1333HMz DDR memory is supported for both the T420 and T520. The T420 test unit I received, came with a Core i5-2520M (2.5GHz), 4GB of RAM, 500GB 7200RPM hard disk, NVidia NVS 4200M discrete video + Intel HD 3000, Centrino Advanced-N 6205 Wi-Fi card, and a 14-inch display running at 1600×900 resolution. The T520 came with an identical configuration except for a slightly faster CPU (Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz). Every task was zippy and at no point did the systems feel sluggish. I was unable to publish PCMark Vantage benchmarks (hope to fix that soon) for both systems due to licensing, but believe me when I say that they scored very well.
Though the T Series ThinkPads are enterprise-class laptops, they achieved some decent FPS marks for gaming, due in part to the discrete Nvidia graphics card. Paired with an Intel HD 3000 graphics chip, the Nvidia NVS 4200M card uses Optimus Technology to automatically switch between graphics chips in order to achieve the best performance and battery life. As you can see from the DiRT2 benchmarks below, at medium to lower settings, the T420 and T520 had reasonably good FPS scores.
Both the T420 and T520 test units I tested, supported 1600×900 resolution. Desktop space was plentiful and I didn’t feel crowded at all, like I typically do with 1366×768 displays. I watched several DVD movies and streamed Netflix and HBO videos. Everything looked sharp with good colors. The display has 15 brightness settings and at the highest setting, the screen was very bright and easy to see in sun light. I’m also happy to report that the ThinkPad T Series laptops use matte screens, to further reduce issues with glare. A glossy screen on a ThinkPad would have been a serious deal breaker.
The speakers on the ThinkPad T Series, located on each side of the keyboard, produced acceptable sound for a business laptop. I streamed several tracks from Spotify, and enjoyed the music listening experience. Movies on the other hand, lacked any kind of punch, though the dialogue was clear and easy to understand. For movies with lots of explosions or similar special effects, I’d recommend plugging in a decent pair of headphones. The high quality BlueAnt Embrace headphones I tested with, made a huge difference in audio quality, as was expected.
The webcam on the T420 and T520 did pretty well in my Skype test. The video quality and photo stills weren’t anything to write home about, but they worked as expected and the software did a good job of suppressing keyboard clicks during video chats.
The ThinkPad keyboard is LEGENDARY. While many laptop manufacturers have switched to the chicklet-style keys, Lenovo has kept the extremely successful keyboard on the ThinkPad T Series the same. The ThinkPad “Classic Keyboard” keys are comfortable, responsive, and reasonably quiet. My average typing speed on a desktop Logitech Illuminated Keyboard is 81WPM. On the ThinkPad, I was able to achieve 77WPM.
The layout of the keys are fairly standard for laptops, with the exception being the Fn key (function), which is located on the lower left-hand corner. This made using the function shortcuts easier, but unfortunately, it hindered my productivity in office applications and email because it’s located right where the CTRL key normally is. I often use editing keyboard shortcuts like, CTRL+C (copy), CTRL+X (cut), and CTRL+V (paste) while writing and it wasn’t easy to adjust to the new location without having to look down to find it.
On the bright side, I was able to use the Fn key to easily enable the ThinkLight keyboard light so I could see where the CTRL key was while using the ThinkPad at night. I wasn’t sure that I would like the ThinkLight as much as backlit keys but I’ve come to appreciate the ThinkLight much more than a backlit keyboard because the ThinkLight acts as a mini desk lamp. Using the ThinkLight, I could not only see the keyboard, but I got enough light to see where some of the USB ports were on the sides and to also read papers I had on my desk. Being a touch typist, a backlit keyboard is only marginally useful to me, but the ThinkLight is perfect for working in dark environments.
The UltraNav multi-pointing system is a combination of the standard touch pad and mouse buttons and the TrackPoint pointing device. Several years ago, a lot of PC manufacturers experimented with the “eraser head” pointing device but dropped them in favor of the normal touch pad. Lenovo stuck with the TrackPoint and instead, integrated it with a standard touch pad to give the user a couple of choices. I found the TrackPoint to be very good at precise mouse movements, but a bit tricky for scrolling.
Though the textured touch pad on the ThinkPad supports multi-touch, like most multi-touch implementations on PCs, it didn’t quite measure up to a Macbook’s touch pad. I also thought that the miniaturized mouse buttons were slightly too small.
Both the T420 and T520 are available with a display port w/ audio and VGA, 1 always-on USB 2.0 (marked in yellow), Firewire port or modem, 34mm Express Card slot and optional 4-in-1 SD Card reader and a Smart Card Reader on some models. The T420 has 2 USB 2.0 ports and 1 USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, while the T520 includes an additional USB 2.0 port and has the combo USB 2.0/eSATA port on models with discrete graphics cards.
What was surprising to me in regards to connectivity options was the lack of USB 3.0 ports. The T420s has one USB 3.0 port, so I’m not sure why it didn’t make its way to the T420 and T520.
Upgrading the memory in the T420/T520 isn’t too difficult, but the two memory slots are located in two different locations. One slot is underneath the laptop, like most laptops, but the other is located underneath the keyboard. To get to the slot under the keyboard, you have to remove the bottom memory slot cover, remove another screw, slide the keyboard down, and carefully lift it up.
Upgrading the hard disk is easier, but if you want to upgrade from a hard disk drive to a solid state drive, you’ll need to purchase special SSD rubber rails from Lenovo.
The battery life on both the T420 and T520 are very good. The T420 test unit came with a 9-cell battery that Lenovo rated at 15 hours. To test battery life, I took a 1 hour, h.264 movie file and played it on a continuous loop with brightness set to 40% (setting 6 of 15) and Wi-Fi turned off. The battery lasted 6 hours and 12 minutes. I estimate that the battery life should increase by about 30% when limited to just web surfing, which equates to about 8 hours.
I ran the same test on the T520, which also came with a 9-cell battery, and it lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes. Again, I’d suspect about a 30% increase for strictly web browsing, giving you about 6 hours or so on the T520.
The Lenovo battery management software that’s included with the ThinkPads is excellent. It goes beyond what Windows offers, like disabling the optical drive until it detects that you’ve ejected it. Of course, if you need even more battery life, you can purchase a 9-cell “slice” battery that acts as second battery for your ThinkPads. It adds some bulk, but in theory, this should double the time you can go between charges. I wasn’t provided a slice battery to test, but if you truly need all-day computing, the slice battery is a must. It’s also on sale at the moment, for just $99.99 (normally $179).
SPECS (as tested)
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2520M (2.5GHz)||Intel Core i5-2540M (2.6GHz)|
|OS||Windows 7 Professional 64-bit||Windows 7 Professional 64-bit|
|RAM||4GB (up to 8GB)||4GB (up to 8GB)|
|Hard disk||500GB 7200RPM||500GB 7200RPM|
|Graphics||Nvidia NVS 4200M + Intel HD3000 integrated||Nvidia NVS 4200M + Intel HD3000 integrated|
|Display||14-inch (1600×900) 250 nits||15.6-inch (1600×900) 220 nits|
|Optical drive||DVD multiburner||DVD multiburner|
|Wi-Fi||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205|
|Card slots||4-in-1 SD card reader, Express Card slot||4-in-1 SD card reader, Express Card slot|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year|
|Dimensions||13.4″ x 9.05″ x 1.18-1.20″||14.68″ x 9.65″ x1.25-1.40″|
|Weight||Starts at 4.9lbs||Starts at 5.74lbs|
|Price as tested||$1254||$1269|
The ThinkPad T420 and T520 are stellar business laptops, well-suited for both travel and the office. If you want a good balance of performance, durability, and management options from a business laptop, the ThinkPad T Series laptops deserve your serious consideration.
Available from Lenovo.com.
* Review loaners provided by Lenovo.
This past July, Corsair announced the availability of the Hydro Series H80 and H100 liquid CPU coolers. You might recall that Corsair released the H50 in June of 2009 to great fanfare. Though not the first closed-loop liquid cooler, the H50 was wildly popular for its cooling prowess, cool looks, and reasonable price (for a water-cooling system). Each iteration of the Hydro series since the H50, has evolved with greater cooling efficiency and more features, keeping competitors on their toes. The H80 is the next step in the Hydro series, offering compact and quiet cooling, easy installation, and support for Corsair Link.
Water cooling in general, is a scary proposition for many enthusiasts. It requires a lot of dedication to cooling because of maintenance, high cost, and the risk of spills. However, the H80 is a closed-loop system that requires no maintenance and has a reasonable, one-time cost. The H80, like the H50, is pre-filled and sealed. It uses high-quality Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) tubing that helps minimize coolant evaporation so you never have to worry about refilling the coolant. Besides great cooling performance, water cooling systems are good for keeping noise levels down. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, read on.
Installation of the H80 was fairly easy and I appreciated the small cooling unit. Air coolers that use huge heatsinks with gigantic fins can be challenging to install because they have a tendency to block memory slots on motherboards. Another advantage of the light-weight H80 cooling unit is that it doesn’t cause undue physical stress on the motherboard.
Since this was my first closed-loop water cooler, I took a little extra time to look over the quick start guide and even watched an installation video on the Corsair blog. I had no problems installing the universal Intel mounting bracket it and was easy to adjust for the LGA775 socket of my motherboard.
Next, I installed the radiator and two 120mm fans in place of my rear case fan. Following Corsair’s recommendation, I installed the fans so that they drew air in (push-pull). Conveniently, the fans plugged directly into the cooling unit, instead of having to string the fan cables all over the motherboard. After installing the radiator and fans, I lined up the cooling block and tightened the screws.
CPU: Intel E4500 (overclocked to 2.75GHz)
Motherboard: Abit IP35 Pro (LGA775)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Enclosure: Corsair Carbide Series 400R
According to Corsair, the cooling unit of the Hydro H80 uses a split-flow manifold and a micro-channel copper cold plate that allows it to absorb heat more efficiently. Plus, the double-thick radiator increases cooling capacity and the dual 120mm fans aid in achieving maximum cooling performance.
Before running my tests, I ran RealTemp to check out the CPU temperature and was amazed at the difference in idle temperatures between the stock Intel HSF and the H80. With the H80, idle temps never went above 37°C in any of the H80’s cooling profiles. The real test though, would be how it’d perform at 100% load.
To test the H80, I set AIDA64 (previously Everest Ultimate) to log the CPU core temps, which recorded the temperature about every 10 seconds or so. I then ran IntelBurnTest v2.52, 10 times, to bring to CPU load up to 100%. I extracted the last 5 minutes of log data and averaged the temperatures. I repeated this procedure for all three cooling profiles (quiet, balanced, and performance) and recorded the ambient temperature at 28.5°C.
As you can tell from the graph, the H80 performed remarkably well. With the stock Intel HSF, I actually had to stop the test early because it got dangerously hot. The H80 on the other hand, barely broke a sweat. It performed nearly 26% better in Quiet mode and 34% better in Performance mode, than the stock Intel HSF! To cycle between cooling profiles, all I had to do was push the button on top of the cooling unit and the indicator lights showed which profile was running. The only drawback was that I had to open the case each time to change the cooling profile, but the Corsair Link Commander add-on should address this as soon as Corsair releases it.
The noise level of the H80’s 120mm fans range from 22dBA to 39dBA. The H80 is very, very quiet in Quiet mode, but still performs nicely at 100% load––crushing the performance of the stock Intel HSF. I found the balanced mode to be somewhat loud, but not significantly louder than systems that require a lot of cooling. Performance mode was the loudest, but as expected, had the best performance.
|Radiator Dimensions||120mm x 152mm x 38mm|
|Fan Dimensions||120mm x 120mm x 25mm|
|Fan Speed||(+/- 10%): up to 1300 RPM (Low Noise), 2000 RPM (Balanced), and 2500 RPM (High Performance)|
|Fan Airflow||46 – 92 CFM|
|Fan dBA||22 – 39|
|Fan Static Pressure||1.6 – 7.7mm/H20|
The Corsair Hydro Series H80 Liquid CPU Cooler is by far, the most effective CPU cooler I’ve ever used. The H80 solves the problem of high performance cooling solutions that are too bulky. Like many enthusiasts, I’ve had to return gigantic air coolers that were just way too big for my system. Factor in the H80’s great performance, good looks, zero maintenance, 5 year warranty and flexible cooling profiles, and what you’ve got is a cooling solution that can meet just about everyone’s needs. Plus, when Corsair releases the Corsair Link Commander, it’ll give you configuration and monitoring options that you only dreamed of. I highly recommend the H80.
Available from Amazon.com.
Review unit provided by Corsair.
“Memory you can rely on.” That pretty much sums it up, in my opinion. Corsair makes some of the fastest and most reliable memory for laptops, netbooks and desktop systems. The 8GB dual channel kit is one of the few PC3-10600 (1333MHz) rated kits you can get for your laptop and is my choice for laptop memory upgrades.
When deciding which laptop memory to buy, it really boils down to reliability and price. The price for the Corsair kit is aggressive and you can often find good deals after rebates. As far as reliability goes, Corsair is one of the best, if not the best, in memory reliability.
After struggling a little bit to get the memory out of the packaging, I installed and tested two separate kits inside both a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 and T520. Both ThinkPads immediately identified the new Corsair memory. So far, so good.
I then re-ran the Windows Experience Index and got an improved score–going from 5.9 to 7.5 (upgraded from 4GB to 8GB).
The Lenovo ThinkPads I used for testing included some very comprehensive hardware tests, including those for memory. I decided to use them to test the Corsair memory kit. The first test included several kinds of memory tests and the Corsair memory passed them all without any problems.
The second test was a memory stress test and again, the Corsair memory passed the test without any problems.
As a final and conclusive test, I ran Memtest86+ on the kits for about 2 hours each and they again, passed without a problem.
|Density||8GB (2x4GB SODIMM)|
Other than some slight issues with the packaging, the 8GB (2X4GB) DDR3 SODIMM Memory from Corsair is the perfect memory upgrade for your laptop. It performs well, is very reliable–passing every memory test I threw at it–and is inexpensive. If you own a laptop, don’t even think about buying memory upgrades from the laptop manufacturer; get a Corsair kit instead. You won’t be disappointed.
Available from Amazon.com.
Review samples provided by Corsair