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Samsung announced the launch of its 850 Pro earlier this year, introducing 3D Vertical NAND (VNAND) to the SSD market. 3D VNAND doubles endurance over what triple-level cell (TLC) NAND devices allowed, but simultaneously increases density – two aspects of NAND that have previously been opposed. The density increase comes as a result of stacking the NAND vertically (like an apartment highrise vs. single-home neighborhood), similar in top-level concept to Intel's 3D transistors.

Published in Hardware

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We hope you had your fill of Thanksgiving turkey and survived the ensuing Cyber Monday sales rush. With several of the sales at major retailers ended, we had to dig a bit harder to find remaining good bargains. These left-overs would be great as gifts for the upcoming holidays, or even just to treat yourself after having to sit through hours of family torture and bad football. This weekend, we found sales on RAM, an SSD, a couple video cards, and an mITX case.

Published in Sales

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Like many sites, our site relies heavily upon referral commission from online retail outlets. It's a fairly straight-forward operation: We help our readers build computers, find the right video card, and test games; in return for this free service, we earn a small commission on sales from Newegg, Amazon, and similar online retail outlets. It's not a lot of money, but it's something.

Now that Black Friday is over and all of the sales are reporting in, we started analyzing data to see which items were the most popular referred purchases through our site. This isn't representative of the most popular hardware in the industry – just what was recommended on our site – but is a good cross-section for what PC builders are interested in.

Published in Industry

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Continuing this weekend's trend of consumerism, “Cyber Monday” sees the introduction of several more PC hardware and video game sales. Note well that, despite banners on retail websites, sales at this point in the year will remain a constant until the final days before the 25th. Most shockingly, we found a $160 R9 280 3GB GPU, $870 Y50 gaming laptop, 480GB SSD for $180, cases / coolers, CPUs, and a 49" HDTV.

These buyer's guides we've published may provide further assistance, in the event the below (active) sales do not contain what you're after:

Published in Sales

Welcome to another edition of our weekend-ly hardware sales roundup. This weekend, we decided to do things a little differently; we've paired up dual components that we found to be great deals. I found a couple power supplies, a couple SSDs, and a couple of video cards at discounted prices.

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Published in Sales

One of the hurdles of TLC NAND and VNAND is an inherently lower count of program / erase (P/E) cycles that the SSD can endure. This is the nature of packing more voltage levels into a cell to accommodate for the extra bits each cell can hold (yielding our higher capacity and lower cost). More voltage levels means more granularity required when attempting to read/write data, and the NAND loses its ability to accurately perform those reads / writes as it ages. Controllers have to step in to ensure longer life when using TLC NAND.

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Published in Hardware

After a relaxing time on vacation, I got to come back to traffic court. Yeah. Lucky me... Though I'm sure you are all jealous and want to give your money to government, I have some better ways to spend your cash. This weekend's sales round-up is featuring a PNY Optima 240GB SSD, Intel's G3258 Pentium CPU, an EVGA GTX 750 Ti, and a Rosewill 650W PSU. These deals should definitely get you speeding to your next system. Keep posted to our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts for sales, hardware reviews, and helpful how-tos.

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Published in Sales

SSD benchmarks generally include two fundamental file I/O tests: Sequential and 4K random R/W. At a very top-level, sequential tests consist of large, individual files transfers (think: media files), which is more indicative of media consumption and large file rendering / compilation. 4K random tests employ thousands of files approximating 4KB in size each, generally producing results that are more indicative of what a user might experience in a Windows or application-heavy environment.

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Theoretically, this would also be the test to which gamers should pay the most attention. A "pure gaming" environment (not using professional work applications) will be almost entirely exposed to small, random I/O requests generated within the host OS, games, and core applications. A particularly piratical gamer -- or just someone consuming large movie and audio files with great regularity -- would also find use in monitoring sequential I/O in benchmarks.

This article looks at a few things: What types of I/O requests do games spawn most heavily and what will make for the best gaming SSDs with this in mind? There are a few caveats here that we'll go through in a moment -- namely exactly how "noticeable" various SSDs will be in games when it comes to performance. We used tracing software to analyze input / output operations while playing five recent AAA titles and ended up with surprisingly varying results.

UPDATE: Clarified several instances of "file" vs. "I/O" usage.

Published in Hardware Guides

This year has been full of delays in the hardware-time continuum, it seems. It feels like forever ago since Maxwell was announced, with Intel's Broadwell and HW-E / X99 platform similarly far behind us. Each of these devices will finally be shipping by the holidays, or so we're told, but that still leaves a major market segment untouched: SSDs. Other than recent innovations in Samsung's NAND lineup, the SSD market has remained relatively silent since our initial SandForce Gen3 controller analysis.

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At the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara this week, SandForce announced plans to meet a December, 2014 on-shelves timeline with its SF3700 SSD controller. For clarity, SandForce was acquired by LSI some years back, which was recently acquired by Avago Technologies (the same people who make most mouse sensors); Avago is presently in the process of spinning-off SandForce to Seagate, who do not yet have an in-house controller manufacturer. A confusing pattern of acquisitions, to be sure, but its impact will be deep on the controller market. That's something for a future article, though. Technically, SandForce is no longer a standalone company in the market -- it's just a technology under LSI, now. For ease of understanding with our audience, we're going to keep calling it "SandForce" rather than try to balance the various Avago / LSI / Seagate owners.

Published in Hardware

Our weekend sales roundup always helps begin the month right. These deals should help get a back-to-school system ready for those late nights of … studying. This weekend, we've got a 4TB HDD for $160, a mid-tower gaming case, high-end PSU, and some extras.

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Published in Sales
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