CES 2012 Day 2 Coverage

Author: Hienrich Jager
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, January 16th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/CES_2012_DAY_2/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The Arctic booth had quite a few different coolers and accessories on display, and one of the first that we came across was the Freezer 7 PRO Rev. 2. This cooler is designed to work with Intel CPU sockets 1366/1156/1155/775 and AMD CPU sockets FM2/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/939/754. The cooler is capable of cooling up to 150W with the Ultra quiet 92mm PWM fan and 3 heatpipes and 42 fins. Arctic's MX-2 thermal compound is pre-applied for out-of-the-box installation.

The next cooler is the Alpine 11 Plus, which is designed for Intel socket 1156/1155/775 systems and features a maximum of 100W of cooling power with an ultra-quiet 92mm PWM fan. The cooler has an optimized heatsink for better heat dissipation and comes with MX-4 thermal compound pre-applied to the base.

The Freezer i30 is one of Arctic's newer coolers on the market. This cooler is designed for Intel sockets 2011/1156/1155 and gives a maximum cooling capacity of a huge 320 Watts! The ultra-quiet interchangeable 120mm PWM fan comes installed with rubber shock absorbers to minimize vibration and noise levels. Instead of pre-applied thermal paste, you will find a half gram syringe of MX-4 thermal compound included in the box.

The second new cooler here at the booth is the Freezer A30 for AMD CPU sockets FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2. It comes with a half gram syringe of MX-4 thermal compound and features a maximum cooling capacity of 320 Watts. The 120mm PWM fan comes installed on the cooler, which also features four double-sided direct-touch heatpipes for rapid heat dissipation like the Freezer i30.


The Arctic Freezer 13 PRO CO is a cooler for both Intel and AMD CPU sockets with a cooling capacity of 300 Watts. A 120mm PWM fan comes installed on the cooler and is designed for Continuous Operation with dual ball bearings for a lifespan that is expected to be two to five times longer than a typical sleeve bearing fan. The regular Freezer 13 has a maximum cooling capacity of 200 Watts with the ultra-quiet 92mm PWM fan included.

Getting into the VGA cooling solutions from Arctic, we first have the Accelero S1 PLUS and S1 PLUS Turbo Module. The Accelero S1 Plus alone is just a heatsink with no fan installed on it at all, but is CrossFire and SLI compatible and has a patented heatsink design for efficient passive cooling. MX-4 thermal compound comes pre-applied on the cooler. The S1 PLUS Turbo Module meanwhile is a 120mm fan that will help boost the S1 PLUS' cooling performance and is extremely quiet (operating at 0.5 sone). Fluid dynamic bearings help extend service life. The Accelero Mono PLUS is a VGA Cooler for enthusiasts, promising unmatched cooling performance of up to 200 Watts of cooling capacity with an ultra-quiet 120mm PWM fan installed. It features a total of five heatpipes that are designed for efficient heat dissipation and a patented fan holder that absorbs vibration to eliminate the buzzing sound. 

Along the Accelero Twin Turbo series, Arctic showcased the new 6990 version that is specfically designed to run only on the ATI Radeon HD 6990 graphics card (now what gave that away?). With this cooler you are going to get a maximum of 400 Watts of cooling performance. To achieve this, Arctic has two ultra-quiet 120mm PWM fans installed on the heatsink assembly. The heatsink is made up of 10 heat pipes and a total of 86 fins for efficient heat dissipation. This cooler is Crossfire compatible.

The next new cooler is the Accelero Xtreme 7970, specifically designed for the recently launched AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. With this cooler you are going to find a total of three ultra-quiet 92mm PWM fans, five heatpipes, and 84 fins to make up the heatsink assembly. This cooler is also CrossFire compatible and comes with MX-4 thermal paste pre-applied to the base.

The Accelero Twin Turbo II has a total cooling capacity of 250 Watts, achieved by having two ultra-quiet 92mm fans installed on top of five heatpipes and 35 fins which comprise the heatsink. A patented fan holder helps absorb the fan vibration, eliminating the buzzing sound many coolers have. This cooler is cross-platform and supports many ATI and NVIDIA cards.

The Accelero L2 PLUS is another VGA cooler that is cross-platform, however this cooler is designed for progressive users with a maximum cooling capacity of 120 Watts with just one 92mm fan installed. It features CrossFire and SLI compatibility as well as the MX-4 thermal paste pre-applied onto the base. 

 

Arctic jumps into the PSU market with the Fusion 550 Series; while there are a total of four different models (550/550R/550F/550RF), Arctic only had the Fusion 550RF out for display. It has a total of 550 Watts of output power with 80 PLUS certification, and Arctic claims 82-86% efficiency and up to 99% active Power Factor Correction (PFC). It features an 80mm ARCTIC F8 Pro fan with intelligent fan control from 700-2,000 RPM on the end of the PSU, helping control the heat build-up inside the unit.

Arctic's MX-4  thermal compound has low thermal resistance, is easy to apply, and is available in 4 or 20 gram syringes with a viscosity of 870 poise. According to testing, the MX-4 was 5 °C cooler than the Akasa AK-455 thermal paste. The MX-2 thermal compound has a viscosity of 850 poise while still having low thermal resistance, and electrically non-conductive. This paste is available in 4/8/30/65 gram syringes.

Looking at the chassis fans that Arctic had out for display, you can see the ARCTIC F Pro PWM, which comes in sizes of 80mm, 92mm, and 120mm. These fans are extremely quiet with a low-noise impeller installed, and have high airflow and static pressure while still being compatible with screwless mounting and having fluid dynamic bearings that extend service life. The same specifications are seen in the ARCTIC F series as well, but the fan speeds are different. The F8 operates at 2,000/2,000 RPM, while the F9 can run at 1,800/2,000 RPM and the F12 at 1,350/1,500 RPM.

The ARCTIC NC is a compact, lightweight notebook cooler that fits all 12" to 19" laptop models and comes in either black or grey. It features dual quiet 60mm PWM fans that operate at 800-1,700 RPM, as well as a 4-port USB hub.

The ARCTIC Breeze mobile is a light, slim and virtually silent USB fan that operates at 1,700 RPM. This fan can be run on a PC, laptop, or USB charger for easy portability when you find yourself traveling to a warm location and need your own personal fan to help cool down.

Arctic also had a few of their headsets on display, like the P281 professional DJ headphones with an efficient 50mm driver with high sound pressure. The headband has 90-degree swivel ear cups and a gold-plated 6.3mm adapter. The other audio product that we saw was the P531 which is a 5.1 surround sound USB gaming headset with an in-line volume control for front, center, rear, and subwoofer speakers. It features 4 individual drivers in each ear cup for uncompromised 5.1 surround-sound dynamics and deep bass with a special subwoofer. The integrated vibration units offer a life-like gaming experience and has a built-in sound processor to ensure distortion-free digital audio. The P531 headset also has an adjustable headband with 90° swivel ear cups. 

When first heading to the Diamond Multimedia booth we noticed a three-teired shelving system with a bunch of different products, ranging from graphics cards to accessories in their retail packages. On the top shelf was the Radeon HD 7970, HD 6670, HD 6570, and BizView Multi-View graphics cards.

On the middle row you'll find the HP200AV, VStream, and Wireless Range Extender. Diamond's Media Wonder, OneTouch Video Capture devices - one for Mac (left) and one for PC (right) - reside on bottom shelf.
 

A display case showing off a majority of Diamond's newer devices out on the market can be seen on the other side of the booth. On the right-hand side of the case you will see Diamond's HD6770 set up for a low-profile system, like an HTPC or small form-factor chassis that would still need some high-end graphics computing power. Diamond also had the HD6670 graphics card displayed, featuring a total of 2GB of GDDR5 memory installed on it. This card is also smaller than the reference design, but will not fit in a thin chassis as it is still quite tall, but it is only as long as the PCI-E slot it plugs into.

On the left-hand side of the display case is the HD6570 sitting up at the top, which is another very thin-profile graphics card ideal for use in a system where you are trying to run multiple graphics cards, or you are simply limited with the real estate left inside your chassis. You will also notice the BizView Multi-View graphics card sitting at the bottom, with the dual-DVI cable. This is not a high-end card, but is instead designed for a system that requires a simple solution to have multiple monitors hooked up while still trying to keep costs down. This card is also designed with a slim chassis in mind. In the center of the display are two video capture devices, the black one for a Windows based setup while the white one is for a Mac based setup. Both of these devices will capture video and audio from just about any video device supporting composite RCA or S-Video out, and converts it to a USB recording signal. The flagship graphics card on display was the newly launched Radeon HD7970 which has been on everyone's lips for the past few months.

Diamond also had some of its other accessories out for display in retail packaging, like the Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers that connect to a device wirelessly through a Blutooth connection. With these speakers you are going to get surprising sound quality for their size but if you wanted to connect them to a device that does not support Bluetooth, they do include a universal 3.5mm connector. These speakers come in either white or black.

Their VStream device is also displayed here, which adds a wireless HDMI output through a USB port on your PC/laptop/netbook which you can then use to hook up to your TV and watch your media on that device. They also had the Wireless Range Extender on display, designed to eliminate wireless dead spots by connecting to your wired router or modem to create a Wireless Access Point (WAP). The Powerline Internet AV Kit meanwhile adds ethernet support to any room in your house by transfering ethernet signals through the existing power lines in  your home.

Diamond also had a great looking setup showcasing the power of the HD7970 in Eyefinity. However, they did not quite have the test game up and running for people to play around with at the time we got to their booth.

 

The NVIDIA booth had quite a bit up for display, and their big push this year was Tegra3. They have been making big strides in the mobile-computing scene, not to mention along their graphics cards that should be coming out some time soon of course. The first thing that we tested out was one of the ASUS netbooks using the Tegra3 chip, allowing for a very quick user experience when it comes not only to basic navigation but video playback, gaming, and graphics editing.

Taking a look at the applications of the Tegra3 chip, we see that this very energy-efficient and powerful processor featuring a total of 5 cores (with the fifth being used as the touch controller) is being put to use inside of one of Tesla's cars. Here we have the entire instrument and control panel that sit between the driver and passenger seats featuring large displays that are both touch sensitive, all powered by the Tegra3. Once I was allowed to sit inside the car and look at it from the back seat, I noticed the "gadget screen" is where one will be able to get navigation directions, music selections, phone calls, web access, and your basic car controls like AC and seat heating. Looking behind the wheel, we see that the simple layout is not cluttered with a whole lot of information that could overwhelm the driver, but instead switches between different screens while still giving you the basic information needed while driving. The main screen displays your current travelling speed, music being played, as well as your average watt hours per mile. NVIDIA also had a tablet set up near the car with an interface that allows you to connect into the car and pull a bunch of relevant information from it, such as diganostics information, MPG, and driving history.  

 

One of the cooler looking setups at the NVIDIA booth was the two GeForce GTX 580s in SLI that were powering a triple 3D monitor setup for a racing SIM game that not only had surround sound speakers next to the player's head, but also has the steering wheel and pedals set up for a life-like expereince. NVIDIA also had a high-performance gaming laptop set up at their booth, the Toshiba Qosmio X775. Toshiba uses the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M graphics card along with Optimus Technology to power the laptop's graphics, making for a great gaming experience on a notebook. It sure would have been nice to have this laptop like this the next time I'm on assignment.

The Team Razer booth was packed with a lot of their new and favorite hardware. There were two kiosks with four of their new Razer Blade gaming laptops set up for people to try out and enjoy. It was organized really well; Razer didn't want everyone crowding around players at the laptops, so they also set up a 20" LCD monitor above the laptops so that everyone else could still see the screen and what was going on without having to look over any shoulders.The laptop itself is a serious gaming machine either on the go or at home. Packing an Intel Core i7 that operates at either 2.8GHz (powersaving mode) or 3.5 GHz (Turbo) and fed by 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3, this laptop can handle the built-in nVidia GT 555M 2GB DDR5 that uses Optimus Technology. A 256GB Sata III SSD with TRIM support provides the data storage. All of this hardware will not break your back either if you plan on lugging it to the nearest LAN party, as the entire laptop only weighs 6.6 pounds.

The Razer Blade also has a small LCD screen and 10 programmable and customizible buttons that are part of what Razer calls the Switchblade UI. This touchscreen serves as an ultra sensitive trackpad for on-the-go use, or with an external mouse plugged in it becomes a secondary display that can show the gamer information such as hardware temperature status, messenger chat windows, or even web pages. The ten fully programmable buttons above it each contain a small LCD screen where you can choose any image you want to represent the script or macro assigned to it. Additionally, these buttons can be mapped to special moves or selections within the game currently being played on the main monitor. These buttons will then display the icons for those particular commands, ported straight from the game itself.

The Razer team also joined forces with Red 5 Studios for this year's CES, and had their game FireFall loaded onto all the laptops for visitors to play. The game was still in early closed-beta, but was already looking very polished and played extremely smoothly on the Blades. I managed to talk to one of the developers for a few minutes and got the scoop on the game. According to Mark Kern, of Blizzard and World of Warcraft fame, the game will be completely free to play for anyone who downloads it and the developer's monetary model is going to be based on the microtransaction system. He was quick to point out however that this would not develop into a pay-to-win type of system. Rather, all microtransaction purchasable items will be focused around different player model skins and visual elements; such as custom animations and voice-overs.

Firefall will have five classes, referred to as battleframes, which players will be able to play as, with the ability to switch between them at all times on the battlefield from an engineer-created structure. The five classes seem like they will fall neatly into standard archetypes with names like Assault, Recon, Engineer, Medic, and Juggernaut. The developers are really focused on the development of the different classes and have went to great lengths to ensure that each class plays a vital role in squad-based combat while ensuring that they remain competitive in solo play.

Each class will work on a level-based system that vertically scales from Level 1 to 30, with each battleframe needing to be leveled independently of the others. This means that as you level, you will be able to acquire and use better armor and items, and your health pool will also increase, but you will not gain additional defense or chances to avoid or negate damage. In short, this means you won't be invulnerable from lower level creatures or players. The developer made it point to note that lower level enemies will still be able to hit you and deal damage as normal, such that you will have to rely on superior tactics and manuvering to outlast your opponent rather than just your time played. Your increased health pool will help you in this regard, but I was cautioned that it should not be relied upon as strongly as one might expect.

Red 5's partnership with Razer is focused around developing native support for the Switchblade UI, with custom icons and abilities coded for all ten buttons above the trackpad. Mr. Kern expressed hope that the game will be released during late 2012, but that is still a very tenative date and most likely subject to change.

Team Razer also had several new designs for keyboards, mice and headsets on display. Chief among them were the custom designed mice for the new Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO that just launched this past Decemenber 20th, and a custom designed kit based on the 2011 TRON movie. The SWTOR setup included a newly designed 17-button mouse that uses mechanical spring-based connections rather than the less reliable neoprene membrane interface that most modern mice use. These 17 buttons are also fully customizable and programmable, and have been designed with the MMO player in mind.

The keyboard and headset also follow the same design patterns set forth by the mice, like the bone-white color scheme that is so evocative of an Imperial Star Destroyer. The setup they had on display at the show sported a gold back-lit Sith Empire emblem, but this is a removable piece that can be swapped out for the Galactic Republic emblem if you so desire. The keyboard also features the same LCD touchscreen and multifunction keys seen on the Blade Laptop, and are located where the number pad normally resides. The mouse pad is constructed with a new non-stick, abrasion-resistant hard coating so that you can cruise over it either agressively or casually without having to worry about damaging it. The non-reflective surface also ensured that mouse tracking is as accurate as the mouse itself can handle, which is impressive to say the least.

Razer's TRON themed setup was also on display at their booth, but was unfortunately not set up for play. The design concept behind the keyboard and mouse shown below are straight from the movie, with the white trim on both pieces designed to light up based on in-game actions. The mouse pad itself even lights up as your mouse travels across it and activates the bioluminescent paint used on the trim. The gaming mouse sports seven of Razer's Hyperesponse mechanical buttons, which allow for a blazing 1000Hz Ultrapolling response time of less than 1ms. The mouse also features a laser sensor that operates at an excellent 5600 dpi polling rate to enable extremely precise movements. The TRON theming does not stop there though, as the keyboard also sports the action based trim that displays both light and sound effects during start-up and shutdown of the computer, as well as while launching and closing of games. The keyboard contains all mechanical actions that allow for an insane operating lifetime with over 50 million strikes per key. They also use Ultrapolling (1000Hz Polling / 1ms response time) and a new feature that significantly reduces the ghosting effect that super rapid keystrokes can sometime cause in other keyboards. There is a new detachable modular keypad that hooks up on either side, as well as a new row of programmable keys that allows for infinite macro length, so that the user has the freedom to create whatever they can dream up.

The major new release by Team Razer this year will to be the Project Fiona gaming tablet. This tablet has been designed from the ground up as a portable gaming machine that targets the hardcore gamers. This tablet is still in the concept development stage, but thus far the following tech specs have been released:

Intel Core i7
10.1" 1280x800 display
Full-screen user interface supporting multi-touch
3-axis gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer
Force feedback
Dolby 7.1 surround sound
WiFi 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0

The two joysticks that are attached to either side will have force-feedback capability and have been custom designed so that they are not only comfortable but easy to use with any game that you play with it. After talking with some of the concept designers and engineers responsible for this innovative tablet, it's hard not to walk away with the feeling that this could be the next big thing in mobile gaming. At the very least, their goal is to have the Fiona utilizing the touch-based interface touted in the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, so that it will work seamlessly with cloud-based game providers like Games for Windows, Steam and Amazon. Ideally that would mean you can get and play nearly any game on the fly. However it looks like you will still need to find a working WiFi connection because there hasn't been any talk of having 3G or 4G capability on finalized designs. Razer's goal is to have THE definitive gaming tablet for under $1000.00 dollars ready during the fourth quarter of this year, which is just in time for Christmas. Or the end of the world, if you believe that will occur in 2012.

Sennheiser Communications has been around for over 60 years, so they have had the time to figure how to do audio right while making a name for themselves. Whether you want audiophile, portable, VOIP, or just plain good headphones, you are hard pressed to go wrong with Sennheiser. Their designs are also very sturdy and robust with reinforcing structures built into each product that they offer. I myself have owned and loved a cheap PC156 set for several years now, and it has been through a lot of wear and tear without any problems whatsoever. 

At this year's CES, Sennheiser brought to the show floor their very latest and greatest in terms of audio headset technology. Along with a few favorites from the previous year's production cycle, there were plenty of amazing audio hardware to look at. The first set I saw when approaching the booth was a pair of the Amperior series of studio headphones. Based from the legendary HD 25 DJ series of headphones, the new and improved HD 25 (named Amperior) was released at CES 2012. These stylish cans come in either anodized blue or brushed silved aluminum and even though they look like they are made out of solid steel, they only weigh in at just 6.7 ounces. The Amperior's boast 18 ohms of impedance, use a detachable remote for Apple devices, and have a modular design. Time will tell if Sennheiser has done it again with another great product, but just after seeing them on display and listening to some music through them I have no doubt that these will become a hit.

Another new release at CES 2012 is the RS 220. It is based on the proven HD 600 series, but unlike it’s predecessor these are wireless using 2.4 GHz frequency. Digital and analog inputs make this easy to setup. Simple recharging through the transmitter stand and a 100 foot indoor range mean you can wear them around the house without any problems.This headset also won an award from Popular Science for this 2012 CES show.

       

Sennheiser set up a sound-proofed booth using thick glass walls and sound absorbing foam everywhere. Inside they had connected one of each type of new headset that they were showcasing this year with a wide variety of music and sound files so that anyone could walk up and try on a pair of their headphones.

   

       

More and more we are mobile, but still want great sound. Shown below is the MM 550 X Bluetooth 2.1 headset. It folds for easy storage and travel, has a built-in mic and up to 8 hours of talk time on a 3 hour charge. It has a built in switch for TalkThrough, which activates an external microphone for hearing what’s going on around you.

 

These gaming headphones are custom designed for use with the Xbox 360, and offer stereo sound at excellent quality so you can get every little bit of sound from the game. At their booth they set up a 360 console running one of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare titles with the X320 G4ME headset attached and available for play. This headset sounded absolutely amazing compared to standard headsets and is well worth its $160 MSRP. The budget version of the X320, dubbed the X2, was also on display but it was not hooked up to anything. 

    

  

Finally on display were the top-of-the-line offerings from Sennheuser. The HS 700 and the HD 800 are absolutely designed for the extreme audiophile who demand the absolute pinnacle of quality sound. These headsets are the type used by professional musicians who produce the kind of tracks that you hear in the movies and in games. In fact, it would take such a job to pay for a set of these as they are listed at $999.95 and $1,499.95 MSRP, respectively.

       

       

This ends our CES 2012 coverage for Day 2. Tune in for Neoseeker's Day 3 for more awesome stuff that is either coming out soon or just hit the market.

»Neoseeker.com

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