By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Virtual reality isn’t the only way to experience immersive gaming – with Razer’s Project Ariana projector you could soon turn your whole room into a game, no headset required.

Announced at CES 2017, Project Ariana is essentially a high-definition projector intended to work with Razer’s Chroma system, which is currently used to bring ambient RGB lighting to the company’s gaming peripherals. 

Though it can be used as a normal 4K projector, Ariana is intended for much greater things; according to Razer, Ariana has an ultra-wide fisheye lens that enables it to project lighting and video effects across an entire room. 

Total immersion

This means that while you play your favorite game on a monitor, the projector will be able to extend in-game graphics and colors into the room around you, effectively immersing you in the game world. 

What’s projected is entirely down to what developers think would work best. It could be something as simple as ambient lighting, to game interface elements such as maps, or developers could even use it to extend the game world beyond the monitor to the walls around you. 

To ensure total immersion, the projector is kitted out with two 3D depth-sensing cameras and calibration software to ensure the images and colors projected fit with the lighting of your room and don’t distort around any furniture.

Razer’s co-founder Min-Liang Tang, Project Ariana is “the future of Razer Chroma” and will bridge “the sensory gap between player and game” allowing for “total gaming immersion.”

It’s certainly an exciting idea. In fact, it’s one we’ve seen before in Microsoft’s IllumiRoom Kinect concept. That project, however, died a death in the concept stages, which is where Project Ariana is right now. As it’s a concept, it’s unlikely we’ll see this projector launched any time soon, but if Razer is able to pull it off it could be something incredibly exciting.

  • For more gadget news straight from CES 2017 check out the official site

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

All-in-ones aren’t your average PCs. They’re desktops with integrated displays, frequently complemented by the internal components of a laptop. For that reason and more, they’ve garnered an unfair reputation for inferiority to their full-on desktop counterparts.

Let it be known, however, that all-in-ones have their advantages. These self-contained PC setups typically occupy less space than a massive computer. At the same time, they don’t produce a nest of cables for guests to trip over. 

Because of the inherent convergence that an all-in-one boasts, PC makers can rethink their design strategies entirely, thereby resulting in more innovative efforts such as the Surface Studio. Ultimately, this only benefits us – the users. 

Below are the best all-in-ones in our review catalog, regularly updated in traditional TechRadar fashion.

Best all-in-one PC: top PCs compared

Apple iMac with 4K Retina display

Bigger doesn’t always mean better

Sure, the 5K iMac is tempting, but what if you don’t need or have room for a 27-inch display? Enter the iMac with 4K Retina display, featuring similar specs as the 5K variant but at a lower cost.

Sure, you won’t get discrete graphics or the 3.2GHz Intel Core-i5, but surely less pixels makes up for the performance difference. Plus, the 4K iMac’s Iris Pro graphics aren’t the Intel HD graphics you remember.

They’re substantially more capable and come wrapped in a gorgeously compact form factor with a crisp P3 display. For the money, what more could you really ask for from an Apple computer?

HP Envy 34

best all-in-ones

A tyrant in video production, a spectacle in everything else

One of the best in the business of making luxury entertainment monitors, HP’s Envy 34-1090na combines the WQHD matte panel of the impressive HP Envy 32 display with a built-in computer toting some mighty impressive specs.

Featuring a Skylake i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a discrete GeForce GTX 960A GPU and the marriage of a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive, the Envy 34-1090na takes the concept of an all-in-one and adds a curve.

That’s right, the Envy 34 packs a wide-angle curved display with all the inputs and outputs needed to put your creativity to the test – mouse, keyboard and speakers included.

iMac with Retina 5K display

Best all-in-one PC: top PCs compared

An expensive luxury, that might just be worth it

While Apple’s iMac with Retina 5K display is one of the most impressive all-in-ones around, its price places it out of the reach of most people. Apple’s older 27-inch iMac possesses many of its best qualities without the wallet-intimidating price tag.

Apple redesigned its iMac line in 2013 to give it an attractive slimline chassis that houses a sharp 27-inch IPS display with a respectable 2,560 x 1,440 pixel-resolution. Excellent build quality means it’s a PC built to last, and a fine option for productivity work, watching movies or light gaming.

LG Chromebase

Best all-in-one PC: top PCs compared

A Chrome OS desktop with simplicity in mind

The LG Chromebase’s most prominent strength is its simplicity. Essentially a Chromebook crammed into a 21.5-inch, 1080p IPS display, the Chromebase runs Google’s ChromeOS that lets you do basic PC tasks using Chrome’s growing list of web apps.

If you have no need for the bells and whistles that come with Windows 10 and macOS Sierra and don’t mind relying on a web browser alone to get things done, the LG Chromebase is an attractive, affordable and convenient all-in-one.

MSI AG240 All-in-One

Best all-in-one PC: top PCs compared

Gaming performance in an all-in-one package

All-in-ones tend to be advertised as family-friendly alternatives to desktop PCs due to their suitability for the living room, but the MSI AG240 isn’t interested in that. The 23.6-inch AG240 is a gnarly gaming PC in an all-in-one’s chassis, combining an Intel Core i7 CPU with a powerful Nvidia GeForce GT860M GPU that’s backed up by 16GB of RAM.

If you’re hankering for a large touchscreen display with the innards of a gaming PC, the dare-to-be-different AG240 fits the bill.

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Samsung has added a 15-inch laptop to its family of ultraportable Notebook Series 9 models.

Unveiled at CES 2017, the Notebook 9 15-inch retains the slim dimensions of previous laptops in the series while arriving with thin InfinityEdge-style bezels that place all of the attention on its capacious display.

That display isn’t quite as high-resolution as what you would find on Dell’s equivalent laptop, the XPS 15, which sports a 4K panel. At Full HD, however, it should be more than adequate for getting work done.

Keeping the pixel-resolution at 1080p should go some way to helping eke out maximum battery life, with Samsung claiming that the Notebook 9’s 66Wh battery can run for 15 hours on a single charge.

The company reckons that it charges back up to full power in less than 2 hours, while 20 minutes connected to the mains will fetch you 3.5 hours of power.

Portable performer

One of the Notebook 9’s most appealing characteristics is its weight of 2.73 pounds, making it much lighter than the 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro 3.48 pounds, and even the 13-inch model (3 pounds).

Inside is Intel’s 7th-generation Core i7 Kaby Lake processor, twinned with Nvidia’s 940MX graphics card – so you’ll be able to tear through Skyrim and Rocket League-type games at the very least.

Other features include a fingerprint sensor for logging into Windows 10 with your desired digit, a USB Type-C connector, two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port, and up to 16GB of DDR4 main memory.

Samsung has yet to announce pricing and availability, so watch this space.

  • Check out all our coverage of CES 2017 straight from Las Vegas

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Samsung has unveiled its first gaming notebook, the Samsung Notebook Odyssey, at CES 2017. If you’re seeking an attractive gaming laptop, you now have at least two new models to choose from and one with a pretty RGB-backlit keyboard too.

The Notebook Odyssey is available in 17.3-inch or 15.6-inch models, both powered by Intel’s 7th-generation Core i7 Kaby Lake processor.

The graphics card in the larger model has yet to be confirmed, and our guess is that it’ll house a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 inside. Nvidia’s GTX 1050, the weakest (but still plenty capable) of Nvidia’s new Pascal GPUs, features in the smaller Notebook Odyssey.

For cooling and ventilation, the machines feature a HexaFlow Vent system that also provides access to storage and memory components.

Samsung Notebook Odyssey 15

Hexcellent displays

Both models ship with a 1080p Wide-View Angle Anti-Glare display, which is where the similarities end.

Unsurprisingly, the 17.3-inch model can be configured with a beefier 64GB of DDR4 memory, versus up to 32GB in the 15.6-inch version. It can also be configured with up to a 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD, beating the 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD combo in the smaller model.

The 17.3-inch Notebook Odyssey also gets a bigger 93Wh battery (43Wh in the 15-incher), but weighs a more substantial 3.79kg (versus 2.53kg). The combination of a 1080p display and a battery of that size should lead to some eye-catching run times.

Samsung is yet to confirm pricing or availability.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2017 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

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Splashed out for a new MacBook Pro, but couldn’t afford the bigger storage options? LaCie is looking to offer your drive some breathing space at CES 2017, launching a duo of new Thunderbolt storage devices aimed squarely at Apple’s computers.

First up is the d2 Thunderbolt 3. To be released in the first quarter of 2017, it has 240MB/s transfer speeds, with the ability to daisychain a string of other devices, from 5K and 4K displays to other Thunderbolt drives.

Starting at $430 (£350 / AU$ 590) for the 6TB version, LaCie will offer d2 drives up to 10TB in size.

Rugged storage

If you like your storage drives to be a little hardier, then LaCie is also showing off the Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C drive. 

As its name suggests, it’s packing both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connections with a range of storage types and sizes. Protected against bumps and drops, it’s available in HDD sizes between 2TB and 5TB, and SSD sizes between 500GB and 1TB.

Launching alongside the d2, the Rugged drives will start at $250 for the 2TB HDD.  

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2017 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

If you haven’t bought a new router recently, you’re depriving yourself of the latest hardware advancements, including support for the 802.11ac networking standard. Wireless routers have undergone few dramatic changes over the last few years, so while the need to upgrade may not be urgent, it can’t be overlooked.

One development we’ve seen in some newer routers is directional beamforming, which allows wireless-transmitting devices to experience faster speeds and greater range than ever before. Unfortunately, even as routers on the whole have seen improvements, it hasn’t stopped hackers from tapping into some of Netgear’s most beloved models.

Luckily, as far as we know (and we’ve done our research), all the routers on this list are safe to use out of the box. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best wireless routers to give your home an 802.11ac boost.

TP Link Archer AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router

The idea behind the six antennas on the Archer AC3200 is triple wireless networks for a situation where you might have dozens of computers and mobile gadgets all needing access to wireless resources. 

It has two 5GHz bands supporting 802.11ac, so when a large transfer is gobbling up all the space on one channel, you can keep other devices running at full speed on the other one. It’s all done through TP-Link’s Smart Wi-Fi tech that automatically picks the most suitable frequency band to assign to your various devices based on network traffic. 

The C3200 also brings a clean and simple management interface that provides the usual basic settings page alongside advanced pages for each Wi-Fi band. On the router itself you can initiate WPS, disable LED lights and switch Wi-Fi on and off.

If you’ve got a large house where the Wi-Fi strains to reach every corner, and your home is filled with people using various devices to access the internet, then the Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit router is the router for you.

It comes with eight aerials and three bands – two 5GHz ones for fast multi-user performance and a 2.4GHz band as well for older devices. It features an excellent QoS system that detects what sort of network traffic it’s handling and sets its priorities accordingly – so streaming 4K Netflix will be given more bandwidth than simple tasks such as moving a file to your NAS.

The design won’t be for everyone, but its performance can’t be downplayed – this is an extremely fast and feature-rich router.


The Starry Station is not like most routers in its price range. Instead of chasing after the fastest speeds and longest range, it’s all about two things: convenience and aesthetic. The triangular design and curious LCD display make the Starry Station a welcome addition to your home whether it’s sitting atop your desk or on a coffee table in your living room.

Sure, it’s expensive for what it is, considering it offers little performance advantage over your ISP’s stock router, but what the Starry Station lacks it more than makes up for in style and ease-of-use. Just be sure that your source connection isn’t in, say, your closet.

Read the full review: Starry Station

Asus RT-AC88U

The Asus RT-AC88U justifies its above-average pricing with unrivalled record-breaking next-generation 802.11ac wireless performance. With four antennas and NitroQAM technology, which pushes speeds further still, this router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit. 

There’s a minor catch – you’ll need to invest in a NitroQAM wireless adapter, such as the Asus PCE-AC88, to see those faster speeds. It’s worth it though. Coupled with comprehensive built-in software, a generous array of eight external LAN ports and 100MB/sec performance from its USB 3 port, this router is a champion, and more affordable than the Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit router we mention above.

Netgear Nighthawk X4S VDSL/ADSL Modem Router D7800

If routers had a fashion contest, Netgear’s D7800 would be among the top contenders. Its solid black finish is complemented by a quartet of antennas. Bolstering speeds faster than a vanilla 802.11ac, this router promises an alluring 1,733Mbps over its 5GHz band and a still-remarkable 800Mbps over a 2.4GHz connection. 

The Nighthawk X4S is is bettered by its inclusion of a duo of USB ports paired with an eSATA connector, thereby offering plenty of room for expanded connectivity. The real centerpiece, though, is the VDSL 2 modem built into the Nighthawk X4S D7800, negating the need to buy or lease one separately. The outfitted software isn’t too shoddy either; a simple Dynamic QOS system makes it a breeze to govern a multitude of devices on a single home network.

Linksys WRT1900ACS

With three wireless streams, the Linksys WRT1900ACS is a less expensive proposition than the above quad-stream 802.11ac routers, and while it doesn’t offer the same blistering performance, it still packs performance and great software. Its internals are very powerful. 

A dual-core 1.6 GHz processor and 512MB of memory drives a great-looking software interface that makes it a doddle to set up and customise a home network, with a built-in VPN, great wireless range as well as fast external connectivity via USB.

D Link EXO AC1750 WiFi Router DIR-869

With four wide antennas that look like solar panels, the orange DIR-869 is a mid-range router from D-Link that uses the company’s flat, angular design. It doesn’t do anything particularly clever, but is still fast enough to work with the vast majority of all wireless hardware on the market at maximum capacity. It’s a dual-band model with a dual-core processor, driving a minimalist but slick software interface. 2.4GHz up to 450Mbps and and 5GHz up to 1300 Mbps is covered.

Synology Router RT1900ac

If you’ve used a Synology NAS, you’ll be familiar with the company’s Linux-based software interface that presents a Windows-like environment, with icons, folders and so on with all the settings to configure your hardware. Synology has gone with the same software design with the Synology Router Manager on the RT1900ac, its first wireless router. 

Hardware-wise it offers the same sort of thing as other 802.11ac routers, with 1300 Mbps 802.11ac and 600 Mbps 802.11n. Unsurprisingly, there’s also great support for shared storage, with well-designed iOS and Android apps to access files. Uniquely, there’s also an SD card slot joining the single USB 3 port for shared external storage.

TP-Link Archer C9

Although the Archer C9 is relatively inexpensive, there’s very little lacking from its specification list. It supports 1300Mbps 802.11ac wireless speeds that will deliver maximum performance for just about all laptops currently on the market. 

It has good software, powerful internals and a bright white, inoffensive look that wont look garish in the middle of your living room. Although the built-in modem only supports DSL, rather than VDSL 2, very little else has been left out, making this a solid value option.

AVM Fritz!Box 3490

AVM’s more high-end 802.11ac routers support built-in VOIP hardware and act as a base station for DECT cordless phones, un addition to router and DSL functions. But the Fritz!Box 3490 leaves all those extras behind in favour of affordability and simplicity.

Sporting an unusual red and silver appearance, the recently updated 6.50 software has some features that more technical users will love. It gives you plenty of control over your home network, such as the ability to scan for local wireless networks that may cause interference, and extensive logging to see exactly how much bandwidth each of your computers is consuming.

[Editor’s Note: This product is only available in the UK and other European territories.]

Read the full review: AVM Fritz!Box 3490

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

So you want a dead compact PC that will fit nicely into any environment, but still has enough grunt to power VR gaming? Then meet the VivoPC X, a neat little computer which has plenty enough horsepower thanks to the Kaby Lake processor and Pascal graphics under the bonnet.

Asus unveiled this machine over at CES in Las Vegas, and it comes with an Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor paired with a GeForce GTX 1060 VR-ready graphics card, along with 8GB of 2133MHz DDR4 system memory.

For storage, there’s a 512GB M.2 SATA SSD, along with an up to 2TB spinning hard drive for extra capacity.

Connectivity-wise, you get four USB 3.1 (Gen 1) ports along with a pair of USB 2.0, plus a DisplayPort and two HDMI ports. All of this in a compact little 5-liter case which means the device can sit next to your living room TV without looking clunky or out of place.

The VivoPC X is due out in March and will be priced at $799 (around £650).

Tower of power

At the big Consumer Electronics Show, Asus also revealed that it has updated the GT51CH gaming PC to feature a Kaby Lake processor.

The rig now comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700K engine – which can be overclocked to 4.8GHz – backed up with twin GTX 1080 graphics cards in SLI (or you can drop down to a GTX 1070 for a more affordable machine).

The twin GTX 1080 beast performed no less than 60% faster than a GTX 980 SLI system, according to testing carried out by Asus, with the company also noting that the GT51CH could run Watch Dogs 2 on ‘ultra’ settings with an average frame rate of 66 fps. Smooth enough, in other words.

You can also specify the machine with up to 64GB system memory, a 256GB M.2 SSD and up to a 3TB spinning disk for storage.

Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but you can expect this gaming PC to arrive at some point in the second quarter.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2017 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

While workforces have become far more mobile, there is still a need for the good old, traditional office desktop PC. 

It remains the most cost-effective computing device as it is easily maintained and is far more versatile than its portable cousins.

Despite the drop in laptop prices and increase in mobile processor power, there are still distinct advantages to running desktop systems in an office environment, which is why the desktop remains the most popular form-factor for computer systems.

Speaking of form factors, the desktop PC has evolved significantly over the past three years beyond the monoliths that mid or mini-towers are.

The range of available desktop systems is as wide and varied as business needs themselves, ranging from a few off-the-shelf units for an SMB to the deployment of thousands of basic desktop PCs and everything in between.

The types of desktop PCs

A recent development in the desktop PC world has been a modest diversification of the system case. The typical business PC comes in a mini-tower box, which is probably best sited under or next to your desk.

But if space is at a premium, a smaller case would be a better choice. Dell, for example, delivers its Optiplex models in mini tower, ‘thin’ desktop and ‘compact’ small form factor sizes, each model offering the same computing power but in a different case.

Three other formats that have grown in popularity are:

[1] All-in-one, otherwise known as AIO, which combine the monitor with the base unit. The move to power-efficient components, the falling price of LCD panels and the ubiquity of touch functionality make AIO an increasingly popular choice for businesses. The all-in-one PC essentially resembles a slightly larger than normal LCD display that contains the processor, hard drive and memory built-in to the screen casing. The end result is a very elegant, clutter-free desktop PC.

[2] Ultra-small form factors, otherwise known as net tops or mini PCs, which borrow a lot of their designs (and components) from laptops. They are essentially laptops without a screen, input peripherals and a battery.

[3] HDMI dongles which have been inspired by tablets and smartphones and often share parts with the latter. These are usually used for display signage or in niche markets. They are usually not powerful enough for most tasks but things are likely to improve by the end of 2016.

Top 10 best business desktop PCs in the UK

To help narrow down your search for the ideal system for your business, here are Techradar Pro’s top 10 business desktop PCs in no particular order.

Desktop PC

Swapping old for new doesn’t have to be expensive. Zoostorm, a UK-based computer vendor widely represented at Ebuyer and Amazon, has the cheapest, brand new desktop PC currently available in the UK. Technically, it is just a consumer desktop PC, but this machine will perform business tasks admirably.

Desktop PC

Got a few computers that you want to get rid of and still hesitating? Then consider the HP 280 G1, a micro-tower desktop PC that won’t break the bank, powered by a solid Haswell CPU and it has plenty in the way of connectivity for a budget option.

HP 260 G1

If you are after a space saving business-ready device that doesn’t cost the earth, this should be on your short-list. Bear in mind that the price includes a 3-year next business day onsite warranty, which is certainly not to be sniffed at if things go wrong. Note that buying it direct from HP entitles you to a 10% discount on HP printers.

Read the full review: HP 260 G1

Lenovo S500

It is just 9cm thick and yet Lenovo’s S500 comes with an optical drive and a slew of ports – 14 in all – that will satisfy all but the most demanding users. Sadly, only one of them is a legacy port although this machine does have an M.2 card slot. As expected it runs on Windows 7 Pro with an upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro.

Acer Veriton

If you are looking for something more functional for your business needs, the Veriton from Acer might fit the bill. While it doesn’t come with the same level of management features as some of its competitors, it does cost significantly cheaper while punching well above its price bracket.

Dell Optiplex 3030

A wonderful piece of technology at an amazing price, this all-in-one PC from Dell is a good example of why you may want to shop around. You can buy this machine from Dell Direct, but you may find it cheaper at Amazon – while that means you might not get to customise the PC at checkout, thanks to Amazon Prime, you can get it the following day even if it is a Saturday.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M700z

It’s not often that you encounter an all-in-one PC certified to the MIL-SPEC but the M700z is one of the handful of AIOs falling under that category. You can spec it up from a humble Pentium with the base machine to a Core i7. We did just that and upped the system memory to 16GB. If you buy this machine from Lenovo, at the time of writing you can save up to 4% (a time-limited offer).

Apple MacMini

Behold the Mac mini. Apple’s cheapest computer is even cheaper when bought from a third-party. It is tiny even compared to the competition but still manages to pack an Intel Core i5 with faster graphics and Thunderbolt 2 plus a myriad of other connectors, all in a box that’s only 36mm thick and sits comfortably on an A4 sheet.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

Apple iMac

There’s no denying the solid build quality and sheer design elegance of the Apple iMac all-in-one. If you were setting out to build the most futuristic, glamorous looking office there’s no doubt the Apple iMac would be at the top of your shopping list. With the lowest-end model built inside a floating-style 21.5-inch display, even this ‘basic’ offering is capable of high-end video and photography work.

Read the full review: Apple iMac

Dell Optiplex 3020

If you need a solid PC system that’s going to work day-in, day-out, then the Dell Optiplex range should get a good chunk of your attention. The 3020 range is based on a no-nonsense micro-tower system, which comes with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit with a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. This system has everything you need to get your business up and running, while remaining expandable as you go.

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What comes to mind when we say workstation? If you’re thinking some big, spaceship-like contraption, you’d traditionally be right. Extra points if you thought of a smaller-than-average office desk.

These days, workstations are sleek and trendy machines that still provide a powerful punch for most applications. They’re useful tools for designers, engineers, financial analysts and researchers running more demanding applications, like rendering complex graphics, financial analysis and computations and digital content creation.

But, with so many on the market, what merits do the office ‘power users’ look for when deciding upon which workstation is the best investment for an increase in productivity, limited downtime and improved reliability?

We’ve rounded up 10 of what we consider to be the best workstations currently on the market – in no particular order – from the main vendors, and then some. From small form factor models to powerhouses, from all-in-ones to one for all, there’s bound to be one for you if you’re in the market.


This is a digital audio workstation, one that is primarily aimed at those working in the sound industry and is a product of the collaboration between UK retailer Overclockers and the Music Store Pro. You have an extensive choice of noise-dampened mid-tower cases paired with an Intel Core i5-6600 CPU and an Asus H110-Plus motherboard.

The latter uses audio shielding, dedicated audio PCB layers and premium audio capacitors to improve audio performance. Also on the list are a number of legacy ports (Parallel, VGA, PS2) that will be useful for older audio equipment.

The i5-6600 is equivalent to the Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5. Both are Skylake-based with four threads/cores, but the Core i5 model has a lower TDP and a higher turbo frequency, but a smaller cache and a lower processor graphics speed. Overclockers provide a standard three-year warranty (24-month Collect and Return plus 12-month labour only).


PC Specialist, unlike others, suggests that you select your main application before pulling up the recommended workstation. In our case, we chose the Maxon Cinema 4D, which brought up the HEX P K2200i. Opt for ANSYS Fluent, a popular simulation software, and a £9,000 workstation rig is suggested to you.

As always with PC Specialist, they only offer one-month collect and return, one-year parts and three-year labour warranty, one of the lowest in the industry but it can be upgraded cheaply.

The three components that shine in this workstation are the Intel Core i7-6800K CPU, the Asus X99-E motherboard and the PNY Quadro K2200 GPU – those three together cost more than £1,000 in the open market. As long as you can live without ECC RAM and the relatively low-rated power supply unit.


Bolton-based Scan Computers International is one of the few remaining British system integrators and online retailers that have survived since the days of printed magazines (hello Evesham and Time Computers!). Their custom 3XS workstation series is “hand-crafted, customised and overclocked” and optimised for specific tasks – from trading PCs to Digital Signage.

The Resolve Grading 4K Plus is the top of the range workstation and, as its name alludes to, is a bespoke system for the DaVinci Resolve. This beast pairs up a GeForce GTX 1080 and Quadro M5000 to allow the system to rip through any uncompressed 4K video footage. The workstation comes with a three-year warranty (on parts and labour) with the first year onsite, and 7-day technical support.


An upgrade to the Mac Pro is imminent so you might want to hold on. But when it comes to the quintessential workstation, nothing comes near to this monolith. How Apple has been able to pack so much firepower into such a small volume almost defies the laws of physics. The current model, though, is well past its prime.

It packs a 3-year old Intel Ivy-Bridge Xeon processor with up to 64GB DDR3 ECC RAM and 1TB storage (no RAID option though). Its two AMD FirePro D500 GPUs are likely to be the weakest link in the system, however, and even the top of the range model doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to run the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift VR platform. It’s also far more expensive than a comparable Windows-based workstation.

Read the full review: Apple Mac Pro


There’s no equivalent to the HP Z1 G3 on the market. The Z1 family was possibly brought to the market in order to compete with (or at least provide an alternative to) the Apple iMac which doesn’t provide the same sort of professional-grade components.

Using a mixture of laptop components (memory and 2.5-inch storage solutions) combined with an enterprise-grade desktop Intel Xeon CPU is an interesting alternative which we’d like others to explore, even in the laptop segment.

For now, the Z1 G3 remains the only viable option if you are looking for a transportable workstation with an all-in-one form factor. Oh and regarding the price, it comes with a 4K monitor, Thunderbolt ports, HP’s nifty Remote Graphics Software and a three-year onsite warranty, upgradable to five with defective media retention.

HP Z240

This is HP’s entry level workstation and one which is very keenly priced with a very compact form factor (about 11L). It’s hard to believe that the Z240 has an Intel Core i7-6700 CPU with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk drive. There’s even an optical drive. The company’s engineers have managed to deliver a system that weighs less than 6Kg and somehow has 20 (yes, 20) connectors and expansion slots (not all of them empty of course).

It even has four DIMM slots to take full advantage of dual-channel technology. As for the rest of the HP workstation family, this one comes with the Remote Graphics Software as well as a three-year onsite warranty bundled. The only major compromise is the fact that it will only take low profile graphics cards. HP also offers the option to buy the workstation for as little as £16 per month excluding VAT.


Lenovo told us recently that they went back to the drawing board in order to get the new generation of ThinkStation ready. And one of the products to come from this process was the P310, an entry level workstation which is designed to offer the level of customisation and attention to detail usually found on far more expensive products. It has a modular design with integrated handles to help move it around, and inherits the Flex Module from its bigger brothers.

That solution allows users to mix and match the components and parts that they need, and this includes useful legacy ports like FireWire or eSata. The £900 model comes with a three-year onsite warranty, an Intel Xeon E3 CPU, a pair of 1TB hybrid hard disk drives, Windows 10 Pro and a discrete Nvidia NVS 310 graphics card with two DisplayPorts.


At the opposite end of Lenovo’s portfolio is the mighty P910, a workstation that offers one or two Xeon E5 CPUs; there’s no E3 here and definitely no consumer parts. It is expensive, industrial in its looks, yet functional in its design. And when we say expensive, we mean it. A fully specced model with 28 cores, half a terabyte of RAM, six half terabyte SSDs and two Nvidia Quadro M5000 cards in SLI will cost you around £15,000. You can pack even more in, but you will have to do it over the phone.

The P910 uses patented Tri-channel cooling to keep the main components from overheating, which requires fewer fans and should, therefore in theory, translate to less downtime. As for most other workstations, you won’t need a single tool to swap components and there are no cables or plugs to worry about.


The small form factor market is attracting more manufacturers as they are vying to shed the bulky and wieldy image of the traditional workstation. Few, if any, however, can pride themselves on designing and manufacturing their products in the same area. Fujitsu can – take the J550.

It can take a Xeon E3 CPU, a full-size professional graphics card, 64GB of RAM, offering up to 13.5TB storage and nearly 20 ports and expansion slots including quite a few legacy ones. Fujitsu is also the only company to offer a three-year warranty (either onsite or bring-in) across the EMEIA region, which spans across the whole of Europe, into Africa and stretches as far as India.


The Precision range is one of the oldest workstation families in this roundup with its roots going back to the late 1990s. Since then a lot has changed with the sheer amount of compute power, storage and memory available. The Precision 7910 is the company’s most powerful and scalable workstation allowing dual Xeon CPUs, up to four graphics cards and even liquid cooling to keep things ticking over nicely.

Dell is one of the few to bundle its own endpoint security solutions that combine malware protection, authentication and encryption. It is also one of the few vendors to ship legacy technology (PCI, Serial, PS2) by default. Oh and don’t be fooled by the base price (around £2,000). Once you fully load it, expect the price to increase up to twentyfold.

Also consider:

  • Gladiator PC, a popular system integrator in the UK that are partner with one of the oldest online tech retailers in the UK, Aria.
  • Workstation Specialists, who as their trading name implies, focus entirely on workstations and are based in the UK as well.
  • Novatech is another veteran online tech retailer based in the UK. Workstation is a small part of what they do but they do anything from rackmounted models all the way to Tesla workstations.
  • InterPro Workstations Ltd, is by comparison, a much younger specialist system builder. Doesn’t mean that they are either less ambitious or less capable. And no, they are not linked with Intergraph’s venerable InterPro.
  • Another UK-based outfit, Computer Planet, is one of the few vendors we know of that delivers desktop workstations based on AMD’s antiquated FX platform. No Opterons here sadly.
  • Boxx is a well-known provider of custom workstation solutions and has been around for a fair few years. They produce what they believe are the finest custom workstations and claim to have the best technical support in the industry.
  • Despite its name, Serverfactory does workstations as well although they tend to sell Supermicro’s brand only – like a few of the names here.
  • Arbico made their name in the gaming market but they branched out to cater for a more eclectic professional audience with an interesting propensity to package AMD parts in their workstations.
  • Like many here, Broadberry has a finger in storage, servers and even transportables (laptops that look like they were teleported from the 1980’s), giving them access to some great workstation partnerships.
  • World Of Computers is an unknown quantity like a few vendors here. Located in Cambridge, it provides with an array of workstation products although they’re happy to sell consumer components as well.
  • Armari has long been associated with expensive and powerful computers. Based in Watford, they offer the ability to truly custom make your own workstation – from the concept to delivery.
  • Hertfordshire-based Boston Limited are better known for their servers (including some cool liquid cooled blade ones) but they also have a line of workstations worth discovering.
  • If there are any missing UK-based system integrators that specialise in workstation (fixed or mobile), drop me a line in the comments section.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Linksys has used CES 2017 to unveil a modular router setup designed to take the hassle out of covering larger homes with a Wi-Fi signal, a task usually achieved by using one or more range extenders.

Called Velop, the system uses identical vase-shaped ‘nodes’ that can be placed around the house in any order. Each one uses a Tri-Band 802.11ac radio, which dedicates two bands to computers, phones, tablets and other devices around the house that can connect on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies.

The remaining band operates on the 5GHz frequency and is used as the backhaul for communications between nodes. According to its maker, this is the Velop’s real party trick, as it prevents bandwidth being cut in half each time a new node is added – a common drawback of using a traditional router/range extender combination.

However many nodes are in use (Velop comes in one, two and three-pack options), they all show up under a single SSID, which is designed to eliminate confusion around deciding to connect to 2.4GHz or 5GHz networks.

Linksys has baked a number of user-friendly features into Velop, including app-based setup that’s conducted over Bluetooth, dynamic channel selection, Spot Finder Technology (to help determine optimal positions to place nodes) and compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant.

The Velop Whole Home Wi-Fi system is available to pre-order now costing £199 (around $244), £349 (around $427) and £399 ($489) for the 1, 2 or 3 pack respectively.

Classic converted

The company has also lifted the lid on a gaming version of its classic WRT54G router, which has been given a stealthy black makeover.

The new WRT32X works its magic through its custom firmware, which prioritizes low latency through a combination of the Linux kernel and “lightweight code base”, according to Linksys.

It also brings a host of special features when twinned with gaming machines that use Killer’s networking adapters.

Through a “Killer Mode”, the router and PC are synched, allowing gamers to manage game traffic, streamed videos and downloads automatically. The latter, for example, allows gamers to be given priority bandwidth over other devices on the network when downloading patches.

The Linksys WRT32X is priced at £279.99 (around $342) and will be available to buy in the spring.

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