26.03.14 | ISSUE 17

Hello and welcome to the March issue of ScanZone. Just like the weather, the IT industry has been blowing hot and cold, with the launch of some exciting, but expensive products such as the Intel 730 SSDs and another service pack for Windows 8 that makes it look and respond more like Windows 7. Scan has also been busy, being awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment as supplier to Her Majesty the Queen. Read on to find out more.

Intel unleashes overclocked SSDs

1. Intel unleashes overclocked SSDs

In September last year Intel announced that it was working on a new family of SSDs that could be overclocked for improved performance. Turn the clock forward six months and that new range has been released as the 730-series.

Unlike the prototypes that were floating around the industry last year, the production 730-series SSDs cannot be overclocked, instead Intel pre-overclocks them. This removes the biggest headache about the prototype overclockable SSDs – data loss if you overclocked them too far.

Continuing the good news, Intel has switched to a new controller. So, rather than using an off-the-shelf SandForce controller like Intel's consumer SSDs do, the 730-series uses the Tisdale controller used in the enterprise-class DC S3500-series SSDs used in many servers. While the Tisdale controller only runs at 400MHz in the DC S3500-series, in the 730-series it runs at 600MHz. The MLC NAND chips are also overclocked in the 730-series, up from 83MHz to 100MHz. Coming from an enterprise-class SSD background the 730-series also has greater endurance than most consumer SSDs, with Intel stating that it can handle up to 70GB of writing a day compared to 20GB for a consumer-class SSD such as the 530-series.

As you'd expect from an overclocked enterprise-class SSD, the 730-series delivers great performance in all workloads, making it definitely worth keeping an eye on for anybody building a high performance gaming PC or professional workstation. That said, the 730-series does command a serious price premium, with the 240GB drive clocking in at £177 and the 480GB drive measuring in at £347, between £50 and £100 more expensive than similar performing drives from Samsung and the like. Even so, it's great to see Intel innovating in the SSD market after a long period of stagnation by many of the players in the market.

Your PC, Your Way

2. Your PC, Your Way

Scan 3XS manufactures thousands of systems every month, each tailored to run specification applications and games. However, we know that some customers would simply prefer to see all the possible combinations of components and spec up a PC the way they would like.

That's why this month we've launched a new section on the 3XS website called Your PC, Your Way. In this new section we've built four new highly flexible configurators, one for each of the major CPU sockets – Intel 1150, Intel 2011, AMD FM2 and AMD AM3. Simply choose which processor family you want, Intel or AMD, then go ahead and customise the other components in your PC, your way. Our award-winning team will then build, test and deliver your custom PC the way you want it.

Get more from your NVIDIA GeForce card

3. Get more from your NVIDIA GeForce card

If you upgrade to a GeForce GTX 660, 670, 680, 760, 770, 780 or 780 Ti graphics card this month you'll also a free digital copy of the upcoming game Daylight. Due to be released on 9th April, Daylight is a first-person survival psychological horror game set in an abandoned hospital. The really clever thing about Daylight is that the world is procedurally generated meaning that you'll get a new spine-chilling experience every time you play. Find out more on our website.

Alternatively if you buy a GeForce GTX 650, 650 Ti, 750 or 750 Ti graphics card you'll get £90 of vouchers to spend in the free-to-play games Heroes of Newerth, Path of Exile and Warface. Find out more on our website.

Windows 8 to be made more accessible

4. Windows 8 to be made more accessible for keyboard and mouse users

Windows 8.1 may only be a few months old, but Microsoft is due to release another major update, imaginatively named Update 1 shortly. However, while Update 1 may not have an exciting name it is worth paying attention to because it once again sees Microsoft making its latest OS more accessible for keyboard and mouse users, i.e. the majority of desktop and laptop PC users.

For example, rather than hiding away the Charms menu off-screen until you gesture it to open, Update 1 adds icons for the Power and Search menus on the Start screen. You'll also be able to customise the appearance of the Start screen more easily by right clicking on tiles. You'll also now able to access the Taskbar within full-screen Windows Store applications and the Start screen instead of having to return to the desktop view, making switching between applications far faster. Alternatively, these full screen Windows Store applications can now also be minimised with the mouse too thanks to the addition of a title bar at the top of the screen.

Finally casual observers will also spot the addition of a new application – OneDrive. However, this in reality is the new name for Microsoft's own cloud storage service that used to be called SkyDrive until Sky successfully won a trademark infringement against Microsoft last summer.

Keep an eye on Windows Update around early April so you can install Update 1 on your PC.

Royal Warrant

5. Service is Everything

Scan Computers is proud to announce that we have been awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen as supplier of High Performance Personal Computers and IT Hardware.

Royal warrants are granted to companies or people who have regularly supplied goods or services to either the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales for no fewer than five consecutive years.

The Royal Warrant was granted on January 1st 2014.

Scan Computers is delighted to have achieved the right to display the Queen's Coat Of Arms and continues to strive for the highest standards of quality and service.

3XS Blog

6. Stay up to date with the 3XS blog

We're always looking at better ways to keep you up to date about new products, services and projects that our talented engineers and partners are working on. We've therefore decided to launch a new blog dedicated to our 3XS system-building division.

You can read the blog online at where you'll find we'll be blogging about some of the new products being released onto the market. We look forward to seeing you on the blog and hearing about what sort of things you'd like to know more about.

BITWIG Webinar

6. BITWIG Studio Webinar - 27th March

Scan Pro Audio are proud to announce that we will be hosting the official UK launch webinar for the eagerly-awaited Bitwig Studio.

Bitwig Studio is a multi-platform music-creation system for production, remixing and performance with a focus on flexible editing tools and a super-fast workflow.

Not only will all the main features and workflow be explained, but Nektar's Tim Chandler will also show the almost total integration with their Panorama Range of controllers.

As always, there will be a mobile friendly chatroom for you to ask questions and there is DVR facility so you can pause and rewind the broadcast. The webinar will be in full HD, 1080p resolution and is viewable on almost every computer or mobile device.

As with all of the Scan Webinars, UK and EU viewers should listen out for the codeword in the broadcast to get yourselves very special offers on Bitwig and Nektar kit! View the Webinar Live at 7.00pm on Thursday 27th March.

It wipes the floor with the most graphically challenging modern games

Expert Reviews took a look at one of our high-end gaming PCs this month, the 3XS Z87 Vengeance SLI. This gaming PC features a water-cooled and overclocked Intel Core i7 4770K and a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 graphics cards for the ultimate in performance.

According to the review, ‘The graphics cards are linked by SLI which means they work together to produce truly blistering frame rates. Needless to say, the 3XS Vengeance SLI blasted through our tests. That's a stellar performance and it shows that you'll have absolutely no problem playing the latest games at ridiculously high graphics quality and resolutions. It's also extremely well built and capable. If a gaming PC is your main source of entertainment and you have the money to spend, you'd be hard pressed to find one better than this. It wipes the floor with the most graphically challenging modern games and is powerful enough to keep you at the cutting edge of gaming for years to come.'

With such praise, Expert Reviews gave the 3XS Z87 Vengeance SLI a score of 5 out of 5 and an Ultimate Award. You can read the full review on Expert Reviews and the latest issue of Computer Shopper magazine.

3XS Vengeance SLI