Cooler Master

The major drag about our visit to Cooler Master was the fact that the best product they had up for show is under NDA and will be kept under wraps until likely 3Q11. It's a tragedy really, all the best stuff was behind closed doors and we couldn't show you or talk about it except to say that it's worth waiting for.

They did show off their line of power supplies, and one of particular interest was a single 1.2 kilowatt unit that was shown simultaneously powering three Lynnfield systems, each equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460.

While the mechanical gaming keyboard was comfortable to use and the gaming mouse, though shaped like a hockey puck, actually felt and tracked very well (and featured nine buttons in places you'd actually press them), some of their more impressive innovations were in cooling. One of their processor heatsinks, dubbed the Gemini, is a unique design that actually orients the cooling fin array horizontally instead of vertically, and as a result the large fan and heatsink array actually hovers over the memory slots on most boards. The downward-facing fan then is able to cool both the processor and the memory, though enthusiast RAM with high heatspreader fins won't fit under it.

Their entry into water-cooling kits was also noteworthy: while the 120mm radiator and fan kit wasn't distinguishable from any others (and even the rep admitted as much), the secret ingredients were in the block that affixed to the processor. The pump built into the block is capable of moving tremendous amounts of liquid, but the real star of the show may be the copper piece that contacts the processor. Internally Cooler Master uses a lattice of fins that substantially increases the amount of surface area the liquid comes into contact with.

The Storm series case we were shown was an intriguing design; outside of the Cosmos, Cooler Master tends to produce feature-packed, affordable cases, and this one was no different. It featured space for water cooling, removable cable routing for the power supply, and tool-less drive installation. We're looking forward to getting some of Cooler Master's cases on hand for review soon.


Speaking of cases, Thermaltake is bringing something you've been waiting for down to a still-high-but-at-least-not-migraine-inducingly-high price in the form of the Level 10 GT. At $269 it isn't cheap, but still features a lot of the more interesting and practical design choices from the original Level 10, including largely isolated hot-swappable drive bays (all powered by a single molex connection), easy behind-the-motherboard cable routing, and tool-less 5.25" drive bays. Worth nothing also is the USB 3.0 bracket that plugs into the front: Thermaltake has it use the USB 3.0 motherboard header natively, but also includes a passthrough dongle if your board doesn't have the header.

In addition to the Level 10 GT, Thermaltake showed off a case with a built-in BlacX dock on the top as well as USB 3.0-powered BlacX docks. Finally there were a pair of active-cooled 3.5" drive enclosures with largely toolless installations: remove two screws from a backplate (and the backplate itself), slide the drive in, snap a clasp into place and you're good to go (after replacing the backplate.) The fans are quiet and feature blue LED lighting that can be toggled off.


Finally we visited with Patriot. We were used to seeing Marvell-powered SATA 6Gbps SSDs, but Patriot revealed they were working on a SandForce SF-2000-based one. They also showed off memory kits XMP-enabled for Sandy Bridge and a remarkably fast USB 3.0 flash drive. The drive is the same size as a conventional thumb drive, but is rated to run at up to 100MB/sec on read and 70MB/sec on write.

Their last big product they wanted to show off was a network-attached storage box called the Javelin. Intended to be viewed more as a media server, Patriot took a page out of Apple's book and elected to design more around simple configuration and user experience, and they seemed to be on the right track, opting to let the users configure for "reliability" instead of just saying "RAID 1" or "RAID 5." For more advanced users there are a slew of features, though, including the ability to VPN into the box to stream video from it through your browser from anywhere. The four-bay version was given an MSRP of $389, though there will also be a two-bay version available.

Kingston, Zalman, Zotac, and A-Data Conclusion
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  • flurazepam - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Would be nice to see a windowed panel option (i.e. post purchase) for the existing Corsair 600T cases.
  • Corsair Tech Marketing - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    Those will be available soon...
  • Meaker10 - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    I think that SSDs should have a new style of interface based of pci express lanes.

    They should be able to plug straight into the motherboard with a single powered connector (possibly like mini-PCIe where it lies flat I suppose but have cable support for larger drives).

    Maybe have 8-16 lanes fed to a controller chip with configurable lanes between each port say up to a maxmimum of 4 (for now).
  • Hrel - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    So... Why isn't anyone using fiber optics in computers yet? Intel has talked about it, ISP's are using it. Everyone knows its faster than anything out now and in a computer the length of cables doesn't need to be very long.

    Get on it industry.
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Optical networking is still too expensive for the consumer market. Eg the cheapest gigabit PCIe fiber card on newegg is $200. Intel's described research that should lead to making optical connections on silicon significantly cheaper. Hopefully that will play out in the next few years; but it's not here yet.
  • Penti - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Why do you need it though? We have 100GbE now over copper that is in the making. And 10GbE over copper is standard. Converting that to fiber in the switch or media converter is no problem. You can of course terminate directly into a computer if you like, but if your not running it as a router it's pointless. You use fiber optics for high-speed links or uplink/trunks in your networks and for long distances. Besides it's already used in data centers with fibre channel. Do the end user need to terminate to anything more then 1Gb ethernet over copper or multiple 1GbE? Or 10GbE over copper (or multiple bonded/trunked). Nope not even the servers need that. Well maybe if you need more then 4x10GbE in one server. But for access to the SAN there's a separate fibre channel card connected to a fibre channel switch with fiber optics. No reason to replace the Ethernet copper connection in the computer/server. Unless you need a length kilometers of cable and then fiber optics have always been the choice. Since long distances is rarely needed it don't make any sense to have fiber optics everywhere. OP actually nails it, the cables don't need to be long. If you can do 100GbE over 10 m of cable that's enough. 10 GbE handles the same distance as 1 GbE, 100 meters. Do you really need fiber optics the last meters? No. And for home use I think you prefer that you can use a cheap ethernet switch or router even if you have FTTH. It's not like it would go any faster.
  • softdrinkviking - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    intel is surely making progress on lightpeak, and it will eventually be cheap enough to make it into PCs.
    this is way, way future, and by the time they figure it out, or at least at some point in the future, it may be necessary for something, hey.
    also, i think it's really interesting to see what comes out of running fiber in PCs beacuse it's something new and you never know what advantages may come of it.
    like how toslink cables have the pleasant side-effect of relieving horrible ground hiss in audio signals out of some PCs.
    not saying that we NEED fiber in our computers, but most gadget or tech hobbyists are not really concerned with what we need. It's more of a "wow look at that, that's cool" kind of thing.
  • Penti - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Well this kind of things are driven by the professional side, and audio has gone back to copper with HDMI and DisplayPort any way. And S/PDIF over RCA isn't bad. You still have timing errors over toslink too.

    We don't really use fiber because it's faster we use it because it's more practical. For connecting cities and countries that is. Intel has demonstrated you could even use it inside computers, but they also no they don't need it.

    Lightpeak might be practical, but that's just one use of fiber optics. That don't mean we will rip out are CAT6 cables and use it for ethernet. Just means it will be used for some high-performance and consumer devices. How it advances in the data centers is something fully other thing though. It will be other standards there.
  • semo - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Any word on current memory fabrication? I remember Samsung was talking about 2xnm node RAM that was supposed to work at 1.35V.
  • BathroomFeeling - Friday, January 7, 2011 - link

    Any word as to what that super secret Coolermaster thing "worth waiting for" is?

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