Best Of Computex 2012: An Award For Innovation In Hardware
We started handing out trade show awards back at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year. Whereas CES' big emphasis is on consumer electronics, though, Computex is more directly focused on PC hardware. So, we decided to do the same thing and hand out awards to companies deserving of recognition for innovation at Computex 2012, too.
It's important that we draw a distinction between these awards, though, and the rare honors bestowed upon deserving products in our reviews. We had our eyes out for new components and technologies at the show, and most of the time, the latest and greatest isn't available yet. So, we're acknowledging impressive specs, perceived value, and potential performance here today.
Of course, as these products become available, they'll be some of the first that we track down for in-depth evaluation. Surely, it'll be interesting to see if our initial impressions are backed up by final hardware!
Storage Innovation: Silicon Power Sky Share H10
Silicon Power's Sky Share H10 received one of our awards at the show. The device is an external 2.5" hard drive with an integrated battery. It can communicate via USB 3.0 or 802.11 g/n wireless networking, and it supports media streaming as well as file sharing features. These functions are managed through a Web-based interface.
Silicon Power wants to release 500 GB and 1 TB capacities of the Sky Share H10; both can be accessed by up to eight users at the same time (on wireless). The USB 3.0 interface is used for data, but also to charge this mobile wireless storage device's battery.
Storage Innovation: Corsair Neutron GTX SSD
Corsair's Neutron GTX SSDs are based on the new (albeit unproven in our lab) Link-A-Media ML 87800 6 Gb/s controller. The firm does have experience in the enterprise segment, though, and now enters the enthusiast market through partners like Corsair.
The SSDs support adaptive wear leveling and on-the-fly ECC. It's important to mention that no data compression is used, unlike drives with SandForce's controllers. The drives do have a DRAM cache, though. The GTX models come with an adaptive DSP technology, which aims at maintaining the highest possible performance over a long period of time and changing workloads.
The 240 GB device is rated at read speeds of up to 555 MB/s and 500 MB/s for writes. Corsair says it can reach 90 000 I/Os per second, both for reads and writes, which we believe is more important than raw throughput. Finally, Corsair backs the Neutron GTX SSDs with a nice five-year limited warranty.
Systems And Components: Gigabyte Ultra Durable 5 Technology
Gigabyte is promising that the PowIRstage IR3550, found on all motherboards with Ultra Durable 5 technology (UD5), increases efficiency and improves stability. Naturally, this is particularly important in overclocked systems, where UD5 could benefit systems employing liquid cooling, since they have a tendency to not receive as much airflow through voltage regulation circuitry.
Ultra Durable 5 is a marketing umbrella that covers several different components, such as the IR3550 PowIRstage, additional copper in the PCB, and 60 A high-capacity ferrite core chokes. We plan to test Gigabyte's claims in an upcoming article.
Systems And Components: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M
Nvidia is cramming the GeForce GTX 680M into laptops. The mobile graphics processor is manufactured using TSMC's 28 nm process (just like the desktop version) and is based on the same Kepler architecture.
The 680M offers seven SMXes, 1344 shader units, 112 texture units, and 32 ROPs, making it more similar to a desktop GeForce GTX 670's specifications. However, its clock rates have to be dropped substantially to fit into a mobile form factor, resulting in a loss of texture fill rate and memory bandwidth compared to the Kepler-based desktop line-up. Nvidia says, however, that its new mobile flagship is roughly 20% faster than AMD's Radeon HD 7970M.
Fortunately, we already have both high-end GPUs in the lab, ready for benchmarking!
Mobility Innovation: Asus TaiChi
The TaiChi is an innovative convertible solution, merging Intel's Ultrabook concept with a tablet. Asus arms this thing with an Intel Core ix-series processor, making it more powerful than your typical tablet, though.
Once you're done with its keyboard, you can close the device and use the display on the outward-facing side. Asus plans to introduce 11.6" and 13.3" versions equipped with Windows 8.
Mobility Innovation: HTC Bluetooth Portable Speaker
We saw a few portable speakers at this year's Computex, but HTC's Bluetooth Portable Speaker is one of the few that actually looks nice. A standby time of 200-300 hours and several hours worth of playback time should be sufficient for most listeners. The speaker can pair with two mobile devices (a smartphone and a tablet, for example) via Bluetooth. It is also possible to use it as a conference speaker system.
Innovation (Power Supply): Corsair AX1200i
Corair's AX1200i receives this company's second award for the show, but deservedly so, as this is one of the few new power supplies that really could surpass many competitors if it delivers on its claims.
A 1200 W sustained output might not even be its most important feature. We like that Corsair is using a DSP to control voltage regulation in an effort to minimize waste. The device is 80 PLUS Platinum-certified and rated for up to 92% power efficiency. If you stay below 40% load, it switches off its fan, eliminating its acoustic profile. Or, you can disable that feature entirely and adjust the fan speed/rail configuration through management software. Corsair says that this is the most advanced PC power supply ever; we'll find out soon.
Innovation (Power Supply): be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10
The last award goes to be quiet! for its Dark Power Pro 10 power supply. There are various models in between 550 and 1200 W, and all but one are 80 PLUS Gold-certified. The Dark Power Pro 10 850 W gets an 80 PLUS Platinum rating.
While the inside is very similar to Seasonic's X series, be quiet! says that it made modifications to completely eliminate electric noise. Also, you can combine individual 12 V rails and connect external fans to the PSU. These fans are then controlled by the PSU, depending on temperature.