Friday, 19 December 2014

MSI WS60 Workstation Laptop Review

Weighing in at just under 2KG’s, the MSI WS60 Workstation Laptop is aimed at those who need to run demanding software on the go, and while stationary. Let’s first take a look at the extensive specsheet of this powerhouse laptop.

Intel® Core ™ i7 4710HQ
Intel, HM87 Chipset
16GB DDR3L 1600MHz Memory
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M 2GB Workstation Card
15.6” WQHD+ IPS Display (2880x1620)
2x 128GB m2 SATA SSD In MSI Exclusive SuperRAID
1TB Hard Drive
SteelSeries Full-Colour Backlit Keyboard
6-Cell 4840mAh Battery
Price: $3299

I’ll start off on the display, because when you start it up for the first time it’s the first thing that immediately gives you that ‘wow’ factor. The huge resolution gives the end user an ample amount of real estate for work and play. You are going to need a super set of eyes or a good set of glasses at that resolution though, even with windows text scaling, every text does look very small in amongst all those pixels. Work applications like Maya, 3DS Max and even Photoshop are slightly immune to this problem but you may have troubles reading the screen with general web applications like reading the news or social media management, however I don’t expect many people who invest in this machine will use it for such small daily things!

Booting up the machine and logging in you’ll notice the slick black background with the big proclamation ‘Best Laptop for CAD & 3D Modelling’ and I will have to partially agree to that statement. Putting the internal specifications aside for a few minutes the WS60 is not just about function over form. It is able to pack all that power in a super thin, lightweight and stylishly modern enclosure. It is plastic all around but not that cheap skimpy one you would feel on the $300 laptops on the market. Sure, it would have been very nice to add in some aluminium or metal trimming or detailing but in its current state it is a very good looking laptop. Don’t let the thin and lightweight design put you off, even with the reduced footprint it does manage to stay relatively cool and quiet for most of the medium to heavy work I did. I only heard and felt the true heat of the laptop come out after a few renders in Maya.

The addition of the SteelSeries full colour backlit keyboard takes it to a whole new level of workstation laptops. No longer are we seeing those big bulky workstation laptops that require a two man team to carry around with dedicated trolleys to pull them around. A lot more style and thoughtful design is going into the higher end laptops and it’s definitely something pleasing to see. The keyboard does come with a full array of software that lets you control the backlights to an almost unlimited number of combinations, colours and even effects. For a laptop marketed towards a more professional and mature audience it’s definitely a nifty little addition. The keys and keyboard itself has a comfortable layout although they have moved around some of the keys like the ‘DEL’ button so I did find myself having to quickly skim my eyes over the keys to find what I was looking for at times. The better news is even under load I did not feel the heat of the machine coming up through the keyboard which meant I could comfortably continue to use the keyboard under load and not feel distracted by the heat.

 The performance of the laptop is written in the specs. Powered by a quad core i7 processor and a beefy Quadro K2100M workstation GPU this laptop will run and handle complex 3D files and CAD drawings with ease. There’s also sufficient amount of memory to keep you multi-tasking with ease and the super high resolution always comes in handy when working in creative. All that screen real estate is perfect for 3D scenes, video editing and even Photoshop.

At $3200, who is this laptop actually designed for? It’s a hard case to consider this laptop for gamers but if you’re in the business of design or architecture work and sometimes wish you had something you could carry around with you for those last minute touch-ups or to show off that master 3D file you’ve been working on on-the-fly in your next meeting, this is the laptop you want. It has the power, the performance and just enough battery while running heavy applications to get you through a meeting over an hour long. The super lightweight and thin design makes it easy to carry around anywhere you go.

Sahin Selvi

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

LG 34" 34UC97 Curved IPS Display Review

The LG 34” Curved IPS Display
It’s finally here. That was my reaction on the arrival of the LG 34UC97 Curved Ultrawide Display. We’ve seen consumer TV’s with curved panels and now it’s time for the PC master race to take full advantage of all these pixels.

The 34UC97 comes boxed up similar to any TV packaging you’ve come across the past few years. It’s shiny on the outside but pretty basic on the inside. Hard foam protection isn’t the greatest for such a delicate product and if I were to purchase this online, I’d definitely have a few nerves kicking in on how it will be handled if not packed properly.  It would have been nice to see LG adopt a similar concept to the packaging style used by Dell in their high end displays for ultimate panel protection.
Inside the box you’ll find the curved panel, leg support, back I/O cover, screws for fitting the leg to the panel, HDMI & DP cable along with the power brick and manual. Yes, this does come with an external power brick. A panel this size requires some serious juice from the wall.
Putting the panel together felt a bit old-school with the pieces fastened together with screws as opposed to the ‘insert and click’ option many other manufacturers are doing these days.
Once it’s all up and running though is where this display sits in its own category of awesomeness.

There isn’t much to say about the quality of the panel apart from ‘it’s awesome’. The colourfully rich IPS panel will have you watching things over and over again in awe of the panel quality. Movies, games, photos and general usage just looks amazing with everything you do. The quality in the display gets a solid 10/10. There aren’t many more displays out there that look this good.
The UI is controlled by the awkwardly positioned analogue stick right below centre of screen. It works yes, but being right in the middle you do need to awkwardly shape your arm to get to it. If they stuck the stick somewhere along the right side of the panel, would’ve been no issues at all.

The ‘Curve’
What gives this monitor the ‘wow’ factor, is the curve. Even if that factor lasts for only 10min. it’s definitely a head turner and will attract the sharp eyes of almost anyone who sees it. It’s an eye opener of a feature, but sadly that’s all there really is to it. In my usage I found no benefits to the curve from daily usage. It didn’t really add a benefit to the way I work but it also doesn’t take anything away. The curve is also slightly interesting for the fact that no matter where you look at it from, either the top part of the screen, or bottom will show some horizontal distortion at certain angles. It can be a bit off putting doing regular things like reading and general web surfing. With games I didn't even notice a curve; it didn't add or take away anything from the experience aside from the amazing amount of pixels to play with.

At 3440x1440, this is hands down the most productive display to work on, watch movies on, and if your GPU allows, the best gaming experience. I’ve been personally using Ultrawide Monitors for about a year now and I can’t imagine life without it. It adds a whole new level of productivity, an entirely new gaming experience and most of all for me, movies look incredible. With the 21:9 ultrawide ratio most movies will fill out the entire screen without any black borders. On the LG 34UC97 you not only get the wideness but the slight hint of curve which makes this in my opinion, The Best Display For Entertainment. There just is nothing that will give you the level of experience you get from the LG 34UC97 on any other display.
I’m not a competitive person, I always prefer panel and picture quality over the speedy TN panels so for me, this was an incredible experience. Games like Civilisation 5, Cities XL and other ‘sim’ type games are made for displays like these. The extra pixels give you so much more to play with it is an incredible feeling. FPS games at ultrawide give you a bigger field of view and with the slight curve you do feel a bit more immersed in the action, though I did realize while playing fast paced action games you sometimes do completely forget and not notice the curve at all.


Overall, this is a new piece of tech that is somewhat appropriately priced. The good news is if you’re willing to pay the $1800, you aren’t going to be disappointed. Even if you get over the curve feature, the quality in this panel is what makes this monitor really stand out. With a whole lot of pixels it will easily be the monitor you will ever work / play on.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Linksys EA6800 AC1900 Smart WiFi Router

AC Routers have started flooding the market lately and today I'm taking a look at the Linksys EA6900 AC1900 Router promising consumers speeds up to 1900Mbps (600mbps for Wireless-N & 1300Mbps for Wireless-AC).

Setting up the EA6900, the device wasn’t too fond of my Home network and refused to be detected through wires. After eventually setting it up through my laptop the router was up and running. Looking over the design of the unit it’s fairly similar to previous models with the addition of a few subtle changes and the addition of the 3 antennas. One thing you will notice is the size of the router. It is quite large and if you’re planning to place it somewhere on your desk, you may need to rethink it.
Once setup the web GUI of the device is very friendly and almost every level of user should be able to navigate and make changes quite easily and comfortably. The device lets you manage and edit everything you need to in a router. By default both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz on the device come with the same network ID and password, so your device will connect to whichever one is at its best reach. This is something you may want to change and control so that you can manually manage what devices you have connect to which network. The router also has functionality of using your smartphone to access the routers settings via an account and the app.

Speed wise the EA6900 is the fastest router I’ve used on the 2.4GHz at close range. It easily surpasses anything I’ve used and beats my own wireless router that I use. Where it doesn’t do so well is in the distance. Head to head against my dedicated Wireless-N router, it performs on par. I didn’t really see an improvement of speed against my existing router using the EA6900. For the premium price tag on the device and the age gap difference between the routers I was expecting significant improvement on the wireless range and throughput.

The biggest downside to the unit is the amount of heat it generates. It’s definitely up there as one of the hottest I’ve held. Even after an hour or so of powering it on, it gets uncomfortably hot. So beware and ensure you’re router is placed in a well-ventilated area as it’s going to need it.

Overall, the Linksys EA6900 is a solid piece of hardware with powerful specs that does have a few minor issues going against it. Saying that, most issues should be fixed with firmware updates which I hope Linksys is working on. If you’re looking to future proof your Home or Office wireless network, the Linksys EA6900 is one to put on your consideration list.