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Crucial M550 SSD 1TB Review

The M550 offers  several tweaks over the M500, designed to boost performance in the lower-capacity models.

A slightly faster M500

Crucial has updated it’s slightly aging M500 SSD with a revamped model, and as the changes are modest, the drive’s name received only a slight bump of 50 marketing buzzwords, hence the name M550 instead of M600 or similar.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Plextor M6e PCIe SSD 256GB Review

The M6e features a full-blown PCI Express SSD in the new M.2 form factor.

The first native PCI Express SSD has finally arrived!

The Plextor M6e is the first native PCI Express SSD we’ve been able to get our hands on, so we’re excited to finally see what an SSD can do when it’s not hobbled by the SATA interface and its 550MB/s bottleneck. Instead of SATA or a 2.5-inch device, this drive utilizes the M.2 form factor along with a PCI Express interface, so it can plug into any late-model motherboard and is bootable. The M.2 interface was designed for notebooks as a replacement for mSATA, as it allows for much higher capacities along with different size devices, so it can be mounted in a wider variety of locations compared to mSATA. To create the M6e, Plextor took a “gum stick” drive and mounted it to a PCI Express 2.0 x2 add-in card. Since each PCI Express 2.0 lane allows for 500MB/s of bandwidth, the two lanes connected to this card allow up to 1GB/s of bandwidth, which is around 800MB/s after deducting overhead. This isn’t a massive increase over SATA 6Gb/s speeds, but it’s a decent bump.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review

The Poseidon’s integrated water block features copper vapor chambers and sits below a massive aluminum heatsink.

Air or liquid cooled—the choice is yours

Nobody would call the GeForce GTX 780 a particularly hot-running or noisy GPU, but that hasn’t stopped Asus from giving it the Poseidon treatment via a “hybrid” air-and-liquid cooling setup. It’s not a self-contained cooling system, but rather an integrated water block complete with copper vapor chambers that sits below an already-beefy DirectCU air cooler. This lets the card run just fine under its own air cooling, and lets you inject it into your liquid-cooling loop, as well. It’s able to do that care of two G1/4-inch tubes attached to the integrated water block that let you attach barbs in pretty much any size ranging from 1/2-inch ID to 1/4-inch ID, so you can easily add it to your existing setup.

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Tablets on Trial: Windows 8 Tablets Compared

x86 tablets arrive, but can they defeat the hordes of other devices?

Is a new wave of mobile x86 chips enough to help Windows fight off Android and iOS?

In October 2012, Windows 8 arrived in two very different flavors. One was the standard x86 version for desktops and laptops. But the other was for Windows RT, a hybrid laptop/tablet device powered by an ARM chip that couldn’t run any x86 software. It wasn’t until the following February that the Surface Pro came out, packed with a conventional Intel CPU. But by then, the damage had been done. It wasn’t until late last year that x86 tablets started trickling out from Asus, Toshiba, and other usual suspects. Surface hybrids remained expensive, while Google’s Android devices invaded price ranges well out of Microsoft’s grasp.

Note: This article was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition Review

The GoPro 3+ Black is the smallest HD Hero cam yet.

The action-cam king is back and better than ever

Other camera companies may deny it, but GoPro created the action-cam market. With so many competent knockoffs out there now, the onus is on GoPro to prove its action cams still rule the roost. And the California-based company hopes to prove that with its latest and greatest Hero 3+ Black Edition camera.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.

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Trendnet TEW-818DRU Review

The TEW-818DRU is bereft of features typically found in routers  at this price range.

A basic router with a few bright spots

There are only a handful of wireless routers on the market that advertise AC1900 speeds, Trendnet’s TEW-818DRU being one of them. The advertised speed rating is actually a combination of the dual-band data rates. An AC1900 designation means the router is capable of up to 1,300Mb/s on the 5GHz 801.11ac band, and up to 600Mb/s on the 2.4GHz 801.11n band. By adding these link rates together, router makers can slap a higher number on the box, though you can’t actually combine the channels for a 1,900Mb/s connection. Still, the rating is a useful way to glean which are supposed to be the fastest routers.

Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.