You know of all the computer parts one that is take truly for granted is the USB key. I remember when these first came out and how we marveled at the ability to easily move files between PCs without waiting for a CD to burn or trying to use floppies. These simple little devices changed the way we moved files between systems and put the final nail into the floppy coffin. However they have changed little over the years except for adding more space. The original drives where tiny compared to today and expensive as well. Today an 8 gig key might set you back $10 and we all have one laying around someone, most of us have more than one.
Kingston, as one of the industry leaders in memory has had a solid line of USB drives over the years. Producing these devices under the name of Data Traveler, Kingston build on it’s solid reputation with a dependable USB Key that was reasonably priced. However looking back over the years there was an absence of the use of the HyperX name when it came to these drives. The reason for this was simple, for Kingston the HyperX brand is their flag ship and unless they felt they could do something that would really stand out they wanted to not make use of the branding. Well it appears that special USB Key design has been found and so we are looking today at the Data Traveler HyperX.
For before we begin lets be clear, this is NOT a common use USB key. Priced at $130 on Newegg, this is a serious luxury item. With 64 gig of memory this is the size of a decent SSD and makes full use of the USB 3.0 ports you see on new computers. This key comes in two sizes, the 64 gig model we are looking at today and a 128 gig model for those needing even more space.
Now remember this is a HyperX product so this is the best of the best and Kingston setout to make sure this was achieved. Not only do you have a large capacity for storage, the devices use an 8 channel memory controller to allow this drive to reach incredible transfer rates. In fact according to Kingston on a USB 3 port this drive should move data faster than a spindle hard drive.
We started out testing by running a quick read test using Crystal Disk Mark, I reran the test 4 times to confirm the fact that this drive was doing a sequential transfer rate of 250 MB/s. Not only is this FAST but it is faster than spindle hard drives, something I have never seen from a USB key and faster than the speed Kingston rates the device at.
However simple benchmarks have never impressed me so I decided to see what this beast could do with real world usage. I put together a test folder made up of pictures, some programs and even a short video. To ensure the key was not held back I put the file on my HyperX SSD and then transfer the folder to the USB Key and them transferred it back, measuring the time with a stopwatch. For comparison purposes I used another brand of USB 3.0 key and a generic 8 gig USB 2 key, all devices where used on the USB 3 port connected to a Z68 based motherboard.
Using the USB 2.0 device as the standard and zero mark the other USB device was at 19% faster. This was a nice speed boost but not what you would hope for with the move to USB 3 on a device supposedly designed to use the USB 3 speed. Next up was the HyperX and again we ran the test mutliple times to confirm the results, the HyperX was 417% faster! I am not kidding and this is not a typo, the speed difference was NUTS! To give you an idea of how fast we did 500 meg, 76 files of various sizes in under 10 seconds.
Okay so this suckers lets you move files onto it fast, what about off the drive to the SSD? Again the generic USB 2 device is our standard and our other USB 3 device achieved a more impressive than last time, clocking at 170% faster. Now we begin to see the USB 3 speed kick in. Again we fired up the HyperX and again our jaws dropped when the numbers showed that the data was moved back to the SSD 651% faster! This translates BTW into right at 4 seconds to pull the data off the key.
Okay so this is impressive but can it sustain those speeds, well I had a thought and I wanted to test it. Remember this is a HUGE device with 64 gigs of space. With the amazing transfer rates I was seeing I wanted to see what this little key could really do so I moved my entire STEAM folder to the key and unplugged my 64 Gig SSD that I use for my STEAM games. Now with the games fully moved over and the software running okay I fired up Skyrim.
This was a seriously ambitious test that would make any other USB key fall to it’s knees in tears, however the Hyper X did not even burp as it swallowed everything I threw at it, letting me play Skyrim and Civilization V off the USB key with no performance hit. In fact compared to a spindle drive, a Caviar blue, the games actually loaded a little quicker. To say this result is insane is an understatement!
With a USB 3 enabled computer this key is more like an external SSD. The performance is amazing and it can be used just like an internal storage device. I can serious see this paired with a netbook or laptop using an SSD and this being the storage drive for data and even some software. It would be like adding a second SSD to the device.
Fast is great but will the HyperX hold up to use? Well Kingston thinks so as the device comes with a 5 year warranty. The exterior of the device is made of a mix of a powder coated metal and rubber. To be honest though I did not have a clue of how tough the metal was until I did the key test on it. However rather than try to explain how tough the finish is I thought you should see it for yourself and so put together a quick video.
As I said at the start Kingston had held off creating a HyperX USB Key until they felt they could make something worthy of the HyperX branding, HOLY COW! This is the fastest USB Key I have ever seen, and I have seen a ton of them over the years, none have ever come close to this level of performance. I mean a lot of spindle hard drives do not come close to this level of performance, some old SSDs did not beat this thing in benchmarks! I think it is safe to say Kingston found a design worthy of the HyperX branding.
As if all that speed and the massive storage was not enough, Kingston made this key TOUGH! I have run this key over with a car, stepped on it, put it through a washer cycle and it keeps working. Kingston is so sure of how solidly it is built they put 5 years behind it, then we have a tough outer shell that looks great and holds up the punishment it will face everyday with ease.
If you can handle the cost and want the absolute best USB Key you can get then there is nowhere else to look. The Kingston Data Traveler HyperX is nothing short of amazing!
Review segment as aired live 28 January 2012.
First be forewarned that what you have before you is a serious wall of text. A discussion on piracy on the OCC forums made me put this together and I am feeling that the shows Blog is a better place for this than taking up a few forum posts. So I have put my thoughts together in this editorial. I truly do want to hear your thoughts or opinions on what I have written. We need a serious discussion on piracy within the computing community. We do not need the media industry or law makes but the community to have this discussion and to deal with this issue before others force a solution upon us that will hurt us all.
There is a common theme throughout humans that we see played out in every aspect of life and that is the desire to believe that they are not a bad person. Often they will go on about the opinion of others not mattering and for many this is true, but the opinion of self is always important. With that position in mind, when a person is engaged in an activity that has negative connotations or is perceived bad by others they are put into a position that forces them to look upon their own bad behavior and try to find a way for it to not be bad.
In modern society one of the most common methods for this self-protection of worth is to change the definition of the action by changing what it is called. An example of this is the term date rape which is most often used by those that actually perform the act. They feel that by adding the term date in front of it their behavior is in some way less of a terrible act that pure rape.
Within this same context we find the word game being used by people when it involves online piracy or as the legal term defines it copyright infringement. The term infringement makes the offense sound like something akin to stepping on toes. When it is pointed out to someone that it is actually a form of theft they quickly begin an argument of how nothing is actually stolen, no one is being deprived of their property.
However theft in its many forms is not limited to physical property. For example one can perform a theft of services which is not depriving anyone of anything but instead incurring an extra cost on them to pay for a service they did not receive.
In the same way piracy is theft, you are taking something that you have no right to and making use of it without the permission of the owner of the property, hence theft is occurring. Piracy however seldom stops at just stealing but also involves in most cases the trafficking of those stole goods. Most methods of piracy involve the sharing of the data to facilitate faster file transfers for all. This means not only are you stealing but you are helping others to steal as well. Also most pirates share the material they steal with friends, again trafficking of stolen goods.
Once you get many people engaging in this activity to see this point they will back down but the more die hard will then begin creating excuses for the behavior. They will claim they are drove to it because the companies make things too expensive, or another common excuse that they are hurting no one because they would not have bought it anyway. Perhaps one of the most pathetic excuses, well the game, in this case, is actually broke so they are not getting my money for it.
Now remember we are not talking about someone that is on the streets begging to exist stealing some bread. We are talking about a movie, piece of music or software, not exactly the needs of living. Yet the person in question feels they are somehow justified in their stealing because the company charges to much. Well if they charge to much then do not partake, it is easy after all and you do not need it to survive. They claim they would not have paid for it, so then why use it? If it is not worth your money then it is surely not worth your time. Of course then we have the fun one of it is owed to me. The game they made is broke I will not pay but they owe me the game? Really, you did not buy the game, they owe you nothing?
None of these excuses are about need, they are about greed. The sense of entitlement that we are somehow owed these things and we can take them as we like, in other words steal.
Finally we come to the last place that the pirates seek refuge in order to make themselves believe they are not bad people, the argument that they are not hurting anyone, that this is a victimless crime.
Using just some very conservative estimates of a specific piece of software lets look at that. The Witcher 2 was one of the best RPG releases last year. According to a few different estimates the game was pirated around 30,000 times based on torrent trackers. Now anyone that knows anything about piracy knows that this number represent a fraction of the actual piracy that took place but for this argument let’s say this was ALL that was done. Now let’s say that 50% of these people would never have bought the game if they had not pirated it. That leaves 15000 copies of a brand new game stolen. Based on the current price of the game from Steam which is $40, we are left with the market losing $600,000.
Now remember that this is a single game and we are not looking at just the loss to the publisher but the entire retail chain of the game coming forward. We add in a few more games like Skyrim which would be safe to say had a piracy level higher than Witcher due to its popularity but let’s leave it the same for argument. How about we throw in BF3 and MW 3 as well and do the same, leave the level the same for this example. So now we have four of the biggest releases from 2011 and using a formula that is conservative to the extreme, likely accounting for less than 10 of the real numbers we see a loss to the market of 2.4 million dollars. That is just 4 games, we are not counting the many movies and music and productivity software and so on.
If we are JUST talking about 15000 people of all the piracy from each item and the thousands and more items we are talking about the numbers are pretty big when we look at the loss to the market, sounds like someone is getting hurt there.
Oh I know the argument on your lips already folks and I agree, the artists in the movies or the music who are overpaid to the nuts level are not being hurt. You are right they are not, they have been paid already. Also the publishing houses that live off the efforts of others are not feeling the pinch, your right they are taking a minor dip I am sure in the end. However what about the minimum wage workers that handle all this material? What about the consumers that buy it?
You see that lose has to come from somewhere, that is simple economics. That means the loss is reflected by lower sales and thus less people working, reduced budgets for the next project or an increase in cost to cover the loss in advance.
The hurt of piracy does not end there however; we feel it in our homes as well. You see hardcore pirates use a lot of bandwidth. They use software designed to max out their download speeds so they can “steal” faster. In small communities it only takes a few such people to max out a node for a cable service and cause a reduced amount of bandwidth availability for others; in other words stealing our ability to enjoy the internet.
Now the argument here is that we are blaming them for crappy internet service and this is NOT true. For years the policy has been for an ISP to carry minimal bandwidth due to cost. What they carry is similar to what was done in the days of the dialup modem, a 7 to 1 ratio. The theory is that never more than 1 in 7 people were using the internet at any one time.
In today’s reality we know that with 24/7 internet that is not true but the premise is that only a few people and only for short periods will actually max out the bandwidth offered. This premise BTW is very true with the exception of pirates. See even streaming HD from Netflix does not max out the bandwidth. The stream process is design to pull in bursts that might be high bandwidth but do not stay there. Even if they did they would stay for about an hour and then drop off completely thanks to buffering.
People that test software often might make use of the same tools as pirates but the nature of the tools means they can do their downloads fast, often in a hour or two and then they are done, they do not occupy that bandwidth for days at a time.
When the sensible solution of having the ISP monitor such behavior and throttle the pirates scream the loudest that they are being screwed over. The truth is they are the ones doing the screwing.
In this age of digital access to our media or software, with low costs and even good free alternatives there is no excuse for piracy that can hold up. Yet people every day try to create excuses for bad behavior. They know they do not need the items and yet they do it, they know it is a crime and yet they do it. They blame the companies and society and everything else but do not just except responsibility and when they do they try to hide the bad behavior behind words that do not sound so bad and make them feel better about themselves.
Laws like SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy, even a new economic model coming from within the industry will not completely stop piracy. There will always be a group of people out there that steal from others. However in the case of piracy we have as a society condoned it, make it okay because we have allowed people to create this wall of illusion around their behavior and said it was okay.
The first step to stopping piracy is not going to come from our government or the media companies; it must come from us, the computing community. We need to stop allowing this to be an acceptable behavior. You would not hang out with a known thief in the real world, would not trust them in your homes, so why do so on the internet? For that matter why do so in real life? Piracy is a crime, it is a theft that is motivated by a pure self-entitled, selfish greed, until we treat it as such it will not go away.
AMD has a history of filling a product line when they do a processor. I mean look at all the model and speed choices we got with the Phenom II and Athlon II. So when we looked at the A8-3850 6 months ago I fully expected us to see a full product line up of these value based Fusion processors to shortly follow. What followed however was 2 A6 and 2 A4 models and that was it, the line up seemed to stall there. This was really odd because as I said AMD is known for a full product line. However we now see two new A series chips, the A8-3870 and the A6 3670.
Both of these chips are 100 MHz bumps over the chips that preceded them, so it is hard to get excited about the performance bump. AMD however took the initiative and did something more, both chips are Black Edition, which means they are fully unlocked for overclocking. So while the 100 MHz bump is not all that exciting the overclocking holds the promise of more. For our testing AMD sent us the A8 3870K, so lets throw it into our Fusion system and see what we get.
A quick refresher the Fusion APU is a traditional CPU with a Parallel Co-Processor, or GPU on the same die. This extra unit means the chip can perform all the graphic functions the computer needs for display and is also fully usable by APIs such as Direct Computer and OpenAL for GPU computing.
The A8-3870 is the current flagship of the APU lineup clocked at 3.0 GHz with GPU portion running at 600 MHz. For defining the GPU performance level AMD has listed this as a 6550D. For our testing we used the same system as our original A series review, all we did was swap the processor and began our testing.
First we established baselines at stock speed in comparison to the A8 3850 and as expected the performance was so close as to be un-noticeable in difference. Remember though this was only a 100 MHz speed bump so stock performance was not were we expected to see a difference. This chip is unlocked however so overclocking should be easy. So we started by overclocking the 3850 we had and was able to achieve a stable overclock with no tweaking at 3.3GHz. Firing up the 3870 I was hoping for more but hit 3.4Ghz and would have been forced to start tweaking voltages and such to go further. The result was not as much as I had hoped.
However the CPU portion is only the beginning, with the 3850 we where unable to get any overclock on the GPU portion but with the 3870 we where able to pull some nice boost. We where able to take the speed up to 775 MHz without any tweaking and this resulted in a 3D Mark 11 Performance score boost of about 28%, pushing it close to the Performance score of a 6570. Next we paired the overclock chip with a 6670 and watched the performance go up more netting us another 17% above the performance we saw with the stock speeds and the 6670 is Crossfire.
While the overclocking we got gave a nice little speed bump, overall it is a very limited overclock. These chips are just pushing the envelope with stock speeds it seems and overclocking them is a neat exercise but any real bumps are just not going to happen without a lot of effort. This is a bit disappointing considering how well other Black Edition chips have overclocked historically for AMD.
What does this mean for you? Well we where able to run Skyrim at High Detail at 1440×900 and it was butter smooth throughout our game play session. Further I could play Champions Online at max detail at 1440×900 and run pretty high frame rates, easily high enough to make lag from the hardware a none issue. This chip will not win any performance marks out of the game but take this chip with a sub $100 video card and you get some really solid performance that will easily meet a budget gamers needs.
The system when running the 6670 in crossfire can push into 1080 resolution game play but you need to start backing down some settings. I did most of my testing at 1440 because this is a realistic resolution for the price point with details levels as high as possible.
Sadly however this may be Llano’s, the codename for this chip, last hoorah. Trinity based APUs were on display at CES in their mobile version and the desktop is likely not far behind. These next generation APUs will be based on Piledriver and be of a completely different architecture so the performance we will see compared to Llano is up in the air until we can get one. The 3870 and 3670 could very well be the only refresh we see on the first run of APUs.
If you are a hardware tinkerer and want to do a low budget build with some gaming potential the APU platform is really a must look at for your first choice. With even the onboard video and overclocking you can get fair performance for basic gaming at 1440×900. Drop in a low cost video card and you can game decent at 1080 or great detail levels at 1440. These unlocked APUs are a neat chip to look at but at the end of the day will be a minor blip on the APU radar as this phase of the APU is pushed out of the way by Trinity.
The FM1 Socket APU however has done it’s job and made it’s note in history. The first real APU design this chip has shown that an integrated graphics solution CAN be done and done well, not just basic functionality. The ability for it to be used outside the graphics area and as a full parallel co-processor is it’s most important contribution in my eyes. So with my Fire and Ice reference I think it is fitting that instead of going quietly into that good night as Trinity comes along, Llano should go out with a last hoorah and take the Black. Heading to the wall to give us our start into a new kind of chip.
Hey folks, with our preparations for CES this week being so heavy in addition to Doug and myself getting our day job responsibilities out of the way we have just not had time to put together a proper blog entry. However we intend to make it up to you this week with a few posts during the week from CES as well as some quick interviews we will be performing there. So while this little post is all you get this Saturday, you should see more later in the week.
You also may have noticed I have pruned the show Archives of some of the older shows. If you are still looking for a show and do not see it send me information and we will see if we can track it down for you.
So I am off to get things ready for this weeks show and then hopping a plane Sunday for Vegas and CES 2012. Trust me there is more to come.