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Tom's Hardware Best of CES Awards 2012

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 15 comments
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We came, we saw, we gave out awards to the best in Las Vegas.

This year, for the first time ever, Tom’s Hardware chose to recognize four companies at CES 2012.

Now, show awards aren’t something we’ve typically done in the past. After all, products that earn our editorial nods are first put through grueling tests and then compared to similar offerings. But we also want to acknowledge innovation and performance, and then encourage vendors to push forward with concepts that may have been on the fence about.

As such, we limited our selection pool to the companies we met with at the show, where we were able to sit down and talk shop for 30 minutes or more. Yes, that meant holding off on handing out our congratulatory trophies until the second, third, and fourth days—but we had to be sure we were recognizing the right products.

MSI GUS II


Our first award went to MSI. Its GUS II external GPU enclosure was the only product to really command our attention during the first day of meetings. It employs Intel’s Thunderbolt technology and employs a power connector able to support any graphics card—so long as it uses less than 150 W. MSI demoed the GUS II using a MacBook running Windows. Later this year, though, we’ll start seeing desktop motherboards with Thunderbolt built-in. Might MSI convince AMD and Nvidia to help with driver support that’d make CrossFire connectivity a plug-in upgrade for Ivy Bridge-based notebooks? That remains to be seen. What we do know, though, is that this is one very cool concept that should become available in the first half of 2012.

From left: Patrick Schmid, Kiner Liu (MSI)From left: Patrick Schmid, Kiner Liu (MSI)

OCZ Lightfoot

We met with OCZ early the following day, and were again drawn to a Thunderbolt-based piece of hardware. To be fair, Intel was showing off the Lightfoot in its booth when we met up Jason Ziller, the director of Thunderbolt planning and marketing. But we wanted OCZ’s take before picking it as a winner. The company claims it’ll be selling its external drive within the next quarter. It’ll hit capacities between 128 GB and 1 TB, and you can expect to pay around $2 per gigabyte. However, the inclusion of a PCI Express-based Kilimanjaro platform is said to enable throughput as high as 750 MB/s through just a single Thunderbolt connector. That’s a lot of very high-speed storage in a convenient form factor.

From left: Alessandro Gilligan (OCZ), Patrick Schmid, Karl Reinke (OCZ), Alex Mei (OCZ), Jessica Luken (OCZ)From left: Alessandro Gilligan (OCZ), Patrick Schmid, Karl Reinke (OCZ), Alex Mei (OCZ), Jessica Luken (OCZ)

EVGA SR-X

In all frankness, the third award was a little more deliberate. We had heard about EVGA’s SR-X before the show, knew we wanted to see it, and suspected it’d win our affections if only because of its gratuitous enthusiast allure. However, as an isolated incident of impossible logistics would have it, there was no way to get from our meeting at The Mirage to EVGA’s suite at the Wynn in the five minutes budgeted. So, we had to call up the EVGA crew to talk about its upcoming dual LGA 2011 interface motherboard. Support for a pair of eight-core Xeon E5s promise to make it a very high-performance platform (even if its cost, completely built-up, will undoubtedly be outrageous). Meanwhile, four-way SLI support with all cards in 16-lane slots is promising for compute applications, while 12 DIMM slots accommodating 96 GB makes room for plenty of memory and  a massive RAM drive.

From left: Joe Darwin (EVGA), Jacob Freeman (EVGA), Patrick SchmidFrom left: Joe Darwin (EVGA), Jacob Freeman (EVGA), Patrick Schmid

SilverStone FT03 Mini

Our final award of the show goes to a company many might consider an unlikely recipient. Rarely are enclosures glamorous enough to single-out amongst the other new products and technologies shown off at CES. However, we were happy to see SilverStone innovating beyond the FT03 it had on-hand last year. Deemed larger than many expected, the FT03 boasted a unique, stylish design, but didn’t really push the envelope in terms of dimensions. SilverStone’s FT03-Mini does, though. Room for a mini-ITX motherboard, SFX power supply, and dual-slot graphics cards up to 9” long should satisfy any number of space-constrained enthusiasts with Zotac Z68-based motherboards.

From left: Patrick Schmid, Tony Ou (SilverStone)From left: Patrick Schmid, Tony Ou (SilverStone)

Discuss
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  • -8 Hide
    nebun , January 18, 2012 6:31 PM
    i would love to see the SR-X with 1366 support please....Xeon CPUs aren't very fordable
  • 2 Hide
    Polaski , January 18, 2012 6:39 PM
    *affordable

    OCZ Lightfoot...Aren't the ssd supposed to be getting cheaper?
  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , January 18, 2012 6:39 PM
    The SilverStone FT03 Mini looks like an enlarged computer case turned inside-out.
  • -1 Hide
    buzznut , January 18, 2012 7:17 PM
    I like the FT03, I found it to be very compelling. the mini looks even cooler! I'm thinking com pletely wireless, except for power cable.
  • 5 Hide
    vigilante212 , January 18, 2012 7:27 PM
    1366 is old tech get over it nobody is making new boards for old tech.
  • 6 Hide
    Zagen30 , January 18, 2012 7:29 PM
    nebuni would love to see the SR-X with 1366 support please....Xeon CPUs aren't very fordable


    First off, the SR-2 was a 1366 product, so there's already a dual-1366 board out there if you really want one. Second, there's no way something like this would be made for two-generations-old hardware; didn't Intel officially end production of most 1366/1156 chips a few months ago? Third, even the SR-2 only supported Xeons since Intel only enables multi-CPU support on higher-end Xeons, so there's nothing EVGA can do to let you run a multi-i7 setup.
  • 1 Hide
    ikyung , January 18, 2012 7:33 PM
    Only if the GPU enclosures didn't cost as much as the GPUs itself :[
  • 3 Hide
    Shadow703793 , January 18, 2012 7:44 PM
    nebuni would love to see the SR-X with 1366 support please....Xeon CPUs aren't very fordable

    You do realize that in order to have a 2P board you MUST use a Xeon, right? The i7s and some of the Xeons can't do 2P due to limitations both at the die level and at the chipset level.
  • 3 Hide
    computernerdforlife , January 18, 2012 10:03 PM
    fordable hurts the ears. That's fordable! *shivers*
  • 4 Hide
    Nemo11 , January 18, 2012 10:52 PM
    nebuni would love to see the SR-X with 1366 support please....Xeon CPUs aren't very fordable


    I think he means that Xeon CPUs aren't very good at crossing rivers.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 18, 2012 11:48 PM
    In response to SSD tech getting cheaper: they are continuing to push the envelope, and achieve greater throughput and IOPS in devices that it gives them more reason to not drop prices by much. In their eyes: 'why drop the price when we are making these drives so much faster and better? that should attract a premium'

    A premium that should go away :D 
  • 2 Hide
    RazorBurn , January 19, 2012 2:49 AM
    Everyone here is dreaming of having a 2p Xeon CPU.. Imagine 16 cores / 32 threads could do in number crunching..
  • 2 Hide
    agnickolov , January 19, 2012 4:20 AM
    computernerdforlifefordable hurts the ears. That's fordable! *shivers*

    I can understand getting your feet and ankles wet, maybe your knees and thighs, but if it reaches your ears, that can hardly be called fordable. You need a boat or a bridge then...
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , January 19, 2012 6:09 AM
    tanny tart faceIn response to SSD tech getting cheaper: they are continuing to push the envelope, and achieve greater throughput and IOPS in devices that it gives them more reason to not drop prices by much. In their eyes: 'why drop the price when we are making these drives so much faster and better? that should attract a premium'A premium that should go away

    NO NO NO NO NO

    why do people still not get this
    ssds are silicon based products
    silicon as a base costs 50k per waffer
    1 waffer gets about 21 tb of space at i believe 25nm process

    this is math done on non rebate and priced to move, brand new ssds, if someone can get me the die size of a ssd chip, how many gb it holds, and what nm its made at, i can tell you how much an ssd costs.

    we dont pay more for faster speeds, we pay more because they simply cant come down in price because of the base cost.

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

    with that motherboard, didnt amd kill off the "multi cpu tax" a while back? meaning charging so much more for a 2 or 4 cpu setup than it needs to? lets hope piledriver meats intel half way between the phenom II and the current i7 in single core performance, and retains its fairly good multi core, that way a dual piledriver may become a better investment than a dual intel.

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

    that said, i love that case, wish i knew more about it though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2012 3:12 PM
    Hey Toms Hardware, I'm commenting on an OLLLDDD story, but the Silverstone FT03-Mini, is widely available now, along with the Z-77 based ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE motherboard (which I don't think anyone saw coming back in January). I'd love to see an article starting with those two components, add in a 680 based card, and a i7 (either ivy or sandy bridge) processor to build an absolutely killer SFF machine.

    Do it, you know you want to!