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Saturday, 16 March 2019

MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X Review

MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X - All hail to the new 1080p king!


In context to Ray Tracing a wise man once said that, It works, but apparently the consumers didn't think like that & the lost in market share for Nvidia last year is a blatant proof of that hence proving that It just doesn't work! The RTX series cards have been a hard pill to swallow for everyone and definitely not received well by consumers who just are not ready to shell that extra dime for Ray Tracing and DLSS that the new Turing architecture from Nvidia cards offers. A hollow promise at the launch and then poorly implemented feature set in games like BF V that took away performance for a few extra reflections on the screen followed by a mostly blurry DLSS in Metro Exodus just didn't work for the paying consumers hence the need for a GTX card was needed more than ever and Nvidia finally just did that. Recently they came up with the GTX 1660 Ti 6GB graphics card that is based on the same Turing architecture and uses a 6GB of GDDR6 memory minus all the Tensor and RT cores that makes it a card as we knew them before RTX came around & performed as one would expect it to be if you go through our review on the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X.
But this card isn't enough as it still is a bit higher on the price tag and not truly a direct competition to the RX 590 from AMD simply due to its price so here we are today with the newly fresh out of the oven MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X lying on the table for review!

Priced in at $250 or ₹27,800 in India the card is a direct head on collider to the RX 590 which utilizes the same TU116 GPU at its core as the GTX 1660 Ti but with a few washed down features to bring down the cost and hopefully not the performance. At its heart it is powered by the TU116 based on the Turing architecture and has 6GB of GDDR5 memory working at 8Gb/s which also marks the first Turing card carrying a GDDR5 memory rather than the newer GDDR6. Having 1408 CUDA cores makes it 8% lesser than those in the GTX 1660 Ti, all of this has a boost clock of 1860Mhz which is way past the factory specifications.

What's in the Box!?


MSI has brought the GTX 1660 Gaming X in a simple and sleek packaging with a thin cardboard box which carries black as the main color theme. We have a large MSI logo along with the card image in the center and the product name at eh bottom left corner with a highlight on the Twin Frozr 7 cooler implementation. And of-course the familiar GeForce GTX logo is back on the bottom right corner.

At the back you'll mostly find MSI telling you as much as they can about their new cooler and the Torx 3.0 fans and how the card is fast aswell as decorated with RGB lights all over the shroud.

Inside the box we are greeted with a humble yet adequate number of accessories, we get a bunch of Luck the Dragon stickers, a user guide, a booklet on how to install the graphics card, a thank you note, a driver CD and the actual card itself.

A Closer Look


MSI has ditched their red and black color scheme with the new RTX series cards and the same goes for the GTX 1660 aswell which comes in a black and grey color scheme and looks pretty sleek for a card of its stature and price point.

The card even though is quite stealthy with its gun metal color scheme but you can still see that its original shroud design is from the previous generation only with a few minute changes here and there. It has a B2 bomber plane feel to it and the trims around the new fans have RGB strips that can be easily controlled via the MSI Mystic Lights software.

Measuring in at 247x127x46 mm this is a small card but does come with a backplate which has  a brushed aluminum finish to it giving it that extra bit of premium feel that is a must for the price tag for which this card comes at. But without a doubt this backplate is one of the most elegant ones out there and I personally love it since its that portion of the card which would be visible in most chassis.

Underneath you won't see any big heat pipes protruding outside the shroud and we have only three 6mm heatpipes running in and out of the heatsink which should be adequate to cool the TU116 chip underneath especially with the new Torx 3.0 fans on top which are 90mm each and going by their impressive past record should do just fine.

For power the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X relies on a single 8-pin PCIe power connector which gives it a 225W power draw capacity on paper however Nvidia even though without any reference model out there rates the GTX 1660 at 120W and same is the case with this one too making it an immensely power efficient card. However some AIBs can by default bump this limit by 10W or so.

The IO shield on the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X has four ports namely as one HDMI 2.0a port and three DisplayPorts 1.4 that are 1.4a ready hence can support upto 8K 60Hz display. The DVI port is long gone which makes this card both slim and also leaves more room for exhaust vents which might be a part of MSI's mastering aerodynamics plan with this card.

Benchmarks and Overclocking 


Installing the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X was easy and it powered up like a breeze once we booted up the system. Since this is a very short card one won't have any issues when installing it in most to any case out there which is how it should be for a mainstream card.
GPUZ reported the correct frequencies with 1530Mhz on the clock and 2001Mhz on the memory with boost reaching 1995Mhz courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0

For testing the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X graphics card our new test bench was as follows -

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X @3.9Ghz
Motherboard: Asus X370 Crosshair VI Hero
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB 3200Mhz
Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
Graphics Card: MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X
Storage: Kingston A400 256GB
Secondary Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W
Case: Cooler Master H500M
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Sleeved Cables: TweakedPC

Overclocking any Turning architecture card right now is not the easiest of affairs in terms of reaching high frequencies as Nvidia has locked the power target on these cards which is 107% in case of the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X. This greatly limits one to add more numbers to the frequency to the GPU or the memory due to deficiency of maximum power supplied. My sample isn't the best out of the lot and hence I could only manage a 140Mhz increase on the clock along with a 950Mhz on the memory and anything more than that mostly resulted in crash, system freezes or poor results so we settled down to 1670Mhz on the clock and 2476Mhz as the boost frequency which kept us in the 2100Mhz to 2145Mhz range in game courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0 at default fan curve.

3DMark Fire Strike & Time Spy


Fire Strike and Time Spy by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is mostly GPU & memory dependent.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider


Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It continues the narrative from the 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider and is the twelfth mainline entry in the Tomb Raider series.
Based off the Dynamics' proprietary Foundation engine like its predecessor SOTTR is a visual treat and heavily optimized for PC platform. We are running it at Highest graphical preset in DX12 mode benchmarked using the game's build in tool.

Far Cry New Dawn 


Far Cry New Dawn uses an enhanced version of the Dunia 2 engine. Unlike its predecessor the game now uses DirectX 12 API, the development team have optimized the game extensively to take advantage of hardware capabilities. Furthermore, Far Cry New Dawn is a testament to achieving proper visual fidelity while keeping overall polygon count in check. Testing is done at Ultra preset using the build in benchmark to keep the results standardized.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey 


Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a 2018 action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is the eleventh major installment, and twentieth overall, in the Assassin's Creed series and the successor to 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins.
Using the AnvilNext 2.0 graphics engine the game though better optimized than Origin is still very taxing even on the best of systems out there. We are running the game's build in benchmark at Ultra presets.

Battlefield V


Battlefield V is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield V is the sixteenth installment in the Battlefield series.
Masking use of the ‎Frostbite 3 engine the game is extremely beautiful both in terms of graphics and story-line, I've tested the game in D3D12 mode at maxed out settings on full HD resolution.

Metro: Exodus


Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. Not only is this the first game ever to implement ray tracing global illumination and DLSS simultaneously but this game can beat any modern day PC hardware to its knees and can rightfully be called the present day Crysis. We are running it at Ultra presets with Hairworks on and Tessellation set to full using the game's build in benchmarking tool.

Thermals 


The MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X runs cooler than most other GTX 1660 cards out there mainly due to the dense fin stack along with the two Torx 3.0 fans that are more than adequate to cool a card of this category with a 120W TDP rating hence, keeping it well off the thermal throttling mark when at stock or manually overclocked even when its inside a closed chassis such as the Cooler Master H500M and not on an open test bench. The card was allowed to run with the default fan curve & the temperature readings are taken in a strictly controlled environment with ambient temperature at 25°C.

My Verdict 

Nvidia has hit the ball out of the park with the GTX 1660, there you go I said it! Priced in at a baseline of $199 this is exactly what everyone expected and more so wanted so desperately in times when graphics card prices seem to be going upward ever since the mining era especially when you consider the budget gamer who's looking for an upgrade or building a new system from scratch.
With that being said the card in hand today, the MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X does everything that Nvidia promises for a GTX 1660 and even more thanks to all the bells and whistles that MSI has included with this card out of the box. With an overclocked core and great overclocking headroom thanks to its extremely competent cooling arrangement the MSI GTX 1660 is a beast in its own right that has clearly handled every modern AAA titles with ease on full HD resolution and can even drive through at ease in the 1440p realm with minor tweaking in the settings making it a must have for every gamer on budget.
Putting things into perspective we are looking at the best modern card out there today at the time of writing for 1080p gaming in all its glory, offering unmatched price to performance ratio at an extremely low power consumption putting it quite ahead of its competitors inform of the RX 580 and RX 590 which had recently dethroned the old GTX 1060.
All is nice and dandy till you look at the price tag that MSI has put on the GTX 1660 GAming X making it one of the most expensive GTX 1660 cards out there and dangerously hovers around the starting price range of the GTX 1660 Ti which obviously offers better performance even if you go for the base models.
"MSI has found itself a winner in form of the GTX 1660 Gaming X creating the perfect card for a budget gamer who wants to game at 1080p in all its glory & doesn't mind shelling a little extra for all the add-on features that the card comes with both in terms of stealthy aesthetics & beefed up performance."  

Pros - 

  • Solid Build Quality 
  • Subtle RGB implementation 
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Great 1080p performance
  • Runs cool and quite
  • Extremely power efficient

Cons - 

  • Price tag is on the higher side
I give it a 8/10 earning our Gold Award!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X Review

The MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X - Great Performance, Heavy Price Tag!


In context to Ray Tracing a wise man once said that, It works, but apparently the consumers didn't think like that & the lost in market share for Nvidia last year is a blatant proof of that hence proving that It just doesn't work! The RTX series cards have been a hard pill to swallow for everyone and definitely not received well by consumers who just are not ready to shell that extra dime for Ray Tracing and DLSS that the new Turing architecture from Nvidia cards offers. A hollow promise at the launch and then poorly implemented feature set in games like BF V that took away performance for a few extra reflections on the screen followed by a mostly blurry DLSS in Metro Exodus just didn't work for the paying consumers hence the need for a GTX card was needed more than ever and Nvidia finally just did that. Recently they came up with the GTX 1660 Ti 6GB graphics card that is based on the same Turing architecture and uses a 6GB of GDDR6 memory minus all the Tensor and RT cores that make it a card as we knew them before RTX came around. Thanks to MSI India we have their flagship in the range, the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X, with us on the table for review.

Priced in at $310 or ₹31,990 in India this card is as expensive as any GTX 1660 Ti gets today! Equipped with GDDR6 memory working in at 6000Mhz pushing through a 192 bit bus the GTX 1660 Ti comes with 1536 shader cores working along the TU116 GPU, this card has 25% less shader units than the RTX 2060 so expect lower performance here. On the bright side it is factory overclocked hence reaches upto 1875Mhz on the clock.

What's in the Box!? 


MSI has brought the GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X in a simple and sleek packaging with a thin cardboard box which carries black as the main color theme. We have a large MSI logo along with the card image in the center and the product name at eh bottom left corner with a highlight on the Twin Frozr 7 cooler implementation. And of-course the familiar GeForce GTX logo is back on the bottom right corner.

At the back you'll mostly find MSI telling you as much as they can about their new cooler and the Torx 3.0 fans and how the card is fast aswell as decorated with RGB lights all over the shroud.

Inside the box we are greeted with a humble yet adequate number of accessories, we get a bunch of Luck the Dragon stickers, a user guide, a booklet on how to install the graphics card, a thank you note, a driver CD and the actual card itself.

A Closer Look


MSI has ditched their red and black color scheme with the new RTX series cards and the same goes for the GTX 1660 Ti aswell which comes in a black and grey color scheme and looks pretty sleek for a card of its stature and price point.

The card even though is quite stealthy with its gun metal color scheme but you can still see that its original shroud design is from the previous generation only with a few minute changes here and there. It has a B2 bomber plane feel to it and the trims around the new fans have RGB strips that can be easily controlled via the MSI Mystic Lights software.

Measuring in at 247x127x46 mm this is a small card but does come with a backplate which has  a brushed aluminum finish to it giving it that extra bit of premium feel that is a must for the price tag for which this card comes at. But without a doubt this backplate is one of the most elegant ones out there and I personally love it since its that portion of the card which would be visible in most chassis.

Underneath you won't see any big heat pipes protruding outside the shroud and we have only three 6mm heatpipes running in and out of the heatsink which should be adequate to cool the TU116 chip underneath especially with the new Torx 3.0 fans on top which are 90mm each and going by their impressive past record should do just fine.

For power the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X relies on a single 8-pin PCIe power connector which gives it a 225W power draw capacity on paper however Nvidia even though without any reference model out there rates the GTX 1660 Ti at 120W and same is the case with this one too making it an immensely power efficient card. However some AIBs can by default bump this limit by 10W or so.

The IO shield on the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X has four ports namely as one HDMI 2.0a port and three DisplayPorts 1.4 that are 1.4a ready hence can support upto 8K 60Hz display. The DVI port is long gone which makes this card both slim and also leaves more room for exhaust vents which might be a part of MSI's mastering aerodynamics plan with this card.

Benchmarks and Overclocking 


Installing the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X was easy and it powered up like a breeze once we booted up the system. Since this is a very short card one won't have any issues when installing it in most to any case out there which is how it should be for a mainstream card.
GPUZ reported the correct frequencies with 1500Mhz on the clock and 1500Mhz on the memory with boost reaching 1965Mhz courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0

For testing the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X graphics card our new test bench was as follows -

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X @3.9Ghz
Motherboard: Asus X370 Crosshair VI Hero
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB 3200Mhz
Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
Graphics Card: MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X
Storage: Kingston A400 256GB
Secondary Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W
Case: Cooler Master H500M
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Sleeved Cables: TweakedPC


Overclocking any Turning architecture card right now is not the easiest of affairs in terms of reaching high frequencies as Nvidia has locked the power target on these cards which is 107% in case of the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X. This greatly limits one to add more numbers to the frequency to the GPU or the memory due to deficiency of maximum power supplied. My sample isn't the best out of the lot and hence I could only manage a 130Mhz increase on the clock along with a 1000Mhz on the memory and anything more than that mostly resulted in crash, system freezes or poor results so we settled down to 1630Mhz on the clock and 2085Mhz as the boost frequency which kept us in the 2025Mhz to 2040Mhz range in game courtesy to GPU Boost 4.0 at default fan curve.

3DMark Fire Strike & Time Spy


Fire Strike and Time Spy by 3D Mark is a test suit that plays a cinematic scene to determine the FPS, GPU temperature and CPU temperature scaling everything via a cumulative score. It is a great tool to benchmark your GPU since the render is mostly GPU & memory dependent.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider


Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Eidos Montréal in conjunction with Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It continues the narrative from the 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider and is the twelfth mainline entry in the Tomb Raider series.
Based off the Dynamics' proprietary Foundation engine like its predecessor SOTTR is a visual treat and heavily optimized for PC platform. We are running it at Highest graphical preset in DX12 mode benchmarked using the game's build in tool.

Far Cry New Dawn


Far Cry New Dawn uses an enhanced version of the Dunia 2 engine. Unlike its predecessor the game now uses DirectX 12 API, the development team have optimized the game extensively to take advantage of hardware capabilities. Furthermore, Far Cry New Dawn is a testament to achieving proper visual fidelity while keeping overall polygon count in check. Testing is done at Ultra preset using the build in benchmark to keep the results standardized.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey


Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a 2018 action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is the eleventh major installment, and twentieth overall, in the Assassin's Creed series and the successor to 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins.
Using the AnvilNext 2.0 graphics engine the game though better optimized than Origin is still very taxing even on the best of systems out there. We are running the game's build in benchmark at Ultra presets.

Battlefield V


Battlefield V is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield V is the sixteenth installment in the Battlefield series.
Masking use of the ‎Frostbite 3 engine the game is extremely beautiful both in terms of graphics and story-line, I've tested the game in D3D12 mode at maxed out settings on full HD resolution.

Metro: Exodus


Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. Not only is this the first game ever to implement ray tracing global illumination and DLSS simultaneously but this game can beat any modern day PC hardware to its knees and can rightfully be called the present day Crysis. We are running it at Ultra presets with Hairworks on and Tessellation set to full using the game's build in benchmarking tool.

Thermals 


The MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X runs cooler than most other GTX 1660 Ti cards out there mainly due to the dense fin stack along with the two Torx 3.0 fans that are more than adequate to cool a card of this category with a 120W TDP rating hence, keeping it well off the thermal throttling mark when at stock or manually overclocked even when its inside a closed chassis such as the Cooler Master H500M and not on an open test bench. The card was allowed to run with the default fan curve & the temperature readings are taken in a strictly controlled environment with ambient temperature at 25°C.

My Verdict

Nvidia finally brought out something to the table that is near perfect and fitting to be a successor of the previous 10 series. The card offers exactly what one expects from a new launch and gives a great price to performance ration which is sweetened by the fact that it does what its promises to do, offering great rasterization in-game performance. Coming to the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X in hand we have a winner in its own right without a shadow of a doubt, the card is absolutely a slayer in almost every area!
The card looks great with its all new gun metal stealth design and the new Torx 3.0 fans do their job well keeping the card cool and quiet hence sustaining higher and stable clocks. For a near $300 card we get the best 1080p performance we've seen in a while for this price where the GTX 1660 Ti offers GTX 1070 like performance at lower price and power draw. Its a great card for professional eSport players who value high refresh rates at full HD for their games and even for those who are looking for a card that can drive their games at that magical 60FPS on a 1440p display across a wide variety of titles with a minor tweak in the settings.
Overclocking wise I'm quite impressed as its easy to dial the frequencies up even with that 107% power limit and we can get even better performance without heating up the card too much so noise or ventilation isn't a factor to count in here. The only down side on the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X is its price point that makes it one of the most expensive 1660 Tis in the market and it hovers dangerously close to the RTX 2060 price tag which offers superior raw gaming performance not to mention the benefits of ray tracing no matter how broke that might be right now!
"MSI has done a superb job in crafting the GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X with cool industrial looks, efficient cooling solution and great software support which is only plagued by its high price tag. So if you want a card with subtle looks and RGB lights that offers blistering fast performance right out of the box for high refresh rate 1080p panels then the MSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming X is the card for you!"

Pros - 

  • Solid Build Quality 
  • Subtle RGB implementation 
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Good 1440p performance
  • Runs cool and quite
  • Meant for high refresh rate 1080p panels

Cons - 

  • Price tag is on the higher side
I give it a 8/10 earning our Gold Award!

CORSAIR Launches Crystal Series 680X RGB and Carbide Series 678C Cases in India

CORSAIR Launches Crystal Series 680X RGB and

Carbide Series 678C Cases


MUMBAI, India - March 13, 2019

CORSAIR®, a world leader in PC gaming peripherals and enthusiast components, today announced the launch of two new mid-tower cases to meet the wide-ranging needs and preferences of PC enthusiasts everywhere. The CORSAIR Crystal Series 680X RGB is a high airflow ATX smart case that puts its stunning RGB lighting on full display, with four included fans and a CORSAIR Lighting Node PRO for complete lighting control out of the box. The CORSAIR Carbide Series 678C is an ATX case emphasizing low noise and refined styling, with a plethora of cooling and storage options offering tremendous versatility to builders. Both are available in either black or white to fit any environment.

The Crystal Series 680X RGB comes with everything you need for both strong cooling and brilliant visuals. The case includes one CORSAIR SP120 fan and three CORSAIR LL120 RGB PWM fans, each equipped with 16 individually addressable RGB LEDs. Combined with the included Lighting Node PRO and CORSAIR iCUE software, the 680X RGB puts on a stunning light show as soon you plug in your system.

Building on the legacy of CORSAIR's multi-award winning Carbide Series Air 540, the 680X uses a dual-chamber layout. By separating your headline hardware from drives and cables, it is easier than ever to create an immaculate build. The dual-chamber design ensures a Direct Airflow Path between the included cooling fans and your PC's hottest components, efficiently directing cool air to where it's needed most. In addition to the four included fans, the 680X boasts room for up to eight 120mm fans and four simultaneous radiators (up to 360mm in front, up to 280mm in the roof and floor, and up to 140mm in the rear), providing a huge range of options for custom cooling systems. Finally, a vertical graphics card mount lets you put your graphics card center stage - perfect for the 680X's three crystal-clear tempered glass panels in the front, roof and side that show off your components.

The Carbide Series 678C is a low noise case defined by its clean lines and smooth steel construction, styled for sophistication with a single tempered glass side panel offering a window into your system. Equipped with three CORSAIR SP140 PWM fans, a six-fan PWM repeater and high-density sound dampening material on the side, front, and roof panels to deaden the noise from your components, the 678C is easy on the ears as well as the eyes.

The 678C's refined styling belies its massive cooling and storage options, which are among the most impressive of any CORSAIR ATX case. With room to install up to nine 120mm fans and multiple radiators, including dual 360mm radiators, the 678C can accommodate a wealth of custom cooling to match the highest spec systems. A modular drive bay system allows the 678C to host a huge array of storage and accessories, with room for up to 1x 5.25in drive, 6x 3.5in and 3x 2.5in drives, and the potential to add a further 2x 3.5in drives with additional trays.


Both the Crystal Series 680X and Carbide Series 678C feature front panel high-speed USB 3.1 Gen-2 Type-C ports, putting modern connectivity within easy reach, and are backed by a two-year warranty. Whether you're looking for the high airflow and brilliant lighting of the 680X RGB, or the quiet operation and remarkable versatility of the 678C, CORSAIR has a new ATX case sure to suit your style.

Availability, Warranty and Pricing

The CORSAIR Crystal Series 680X RGB and the CORSAIR Carbide Series 678C are available immediately from the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers and distributors, as well as direct from the CORSAIR webstore.

The Crystal Series 680X RGB and the Carbide Series 678C are backed by a two-year warranty and the CORSAIR worldwide customer service and technical support network.

For up-to-date pricing of the Crystal Series 680X RGB and the Carbide Series 678C, please refer to the CORSAIR website or contact your local CORSAIR sales or PR representative.

###

About CORSAIR
Founded in 1994, CORSAIR has grown from pioneering the high-performance DRAM market into one of the world's leading providers of high-performance PC peripherals and components. CORSAIR offers a complete range of products to equip gamers, enthusiasts and e-sports athletes, including mechanical keyboards, precision gaming mice, wireless headsets, high-performance components that gamers use to build gaming PCs, and the CORSAIR ONE fully-integrated gaming PC. With a company-wide commitment to quality, innovative design, advanced features and high performance, CORSAIR products have won thousands of media and industry awards, earning their place in gamers' hands and PCs following years of development and engineering by a team dedicated to building great products they themselves would want to use.

Copyright © 2019 CORSAIR Components, Inc. All rights reserved. CORSAIR, the sails logo, and Vengeance are registered trademarks of CORSAIR in the United States and/or other countries. All other company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks, and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Features, pricing, availability, and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Asustor AS4004T 10GbE NAS Review

Asustor AS4004T NAS Box - Low on Budget, High on Performance


NAS or Network Attached Storage was once a novelty and a piece of tech for only the elite and professionals who could make use of it or needed all that data pool to be shared across various platforms and users at once. But now in 2019 NAS is just another IT component that you can find lying around in most tech savvy or even common households or commercial outlets due to their lowered prices, more feature sets and ease of usage along with the expansion of supportive techs and gadgets like CCTV cameras, powerful handheld devices etc.
But one thing that always remained expensive was the ability to transfer data at high speeds that is at present a 10GbE connection hence restricting most NAS boxes to a 1GbE port and most network adapters having the same. However Asustor, a brand that is a subsidiary of Asus the famous motherboard and graphics card manufacturer, recently brought to the market the Asustor AS4004T 10GbE NAS box which happens to provide the latest and fastest data transfer interface at an affordable price tag making it one of the cheapest NAS with a 10GbE interface.

Priced in at around $350 or Rs 67,000 in India the Asustor AS4004T is in the affordable spectrum of NAS boxes that offer a 10GbE connection along with support for four storage drives be it a SSD or a HDD. The way Asustor managed to keep the price in check here is simple, they eliminated add-on features from the AS4004T such as HDMI port making it a consumer focused storage and streaming/backup device rather than a commercial one or something that can act as a stand alone PC. For me this makes perfect sense as even non-commercial applications use high speed data transfer and data storage. Under the hood the device rocks a Marvell ARMADA 7020 dual-core processor running at 1.6GHz with 2GB of DDR4 system memory, all of which is covered under a 3 year warranty period.

What's in the Box!?


Asustor brings the AS4004T in a big white box which has an industrial and minimalistic approach to the color scheme with white and blue dominating. We get bulletins with the key features enlisted right in the front along with the technical specifications on the other side which is great for a potential buyer. Also the 10GbE feature is greatly highlighted with a 'Now 10X Faster" slogan.

Inside the NAS box is tightly and securely packed and nestled  in thick molded blocks of styrofoam that houses the main unit and a box cardboard box with all the accessories inside. For the accessories or rather essentials we have a multilingual user manual, installation CD, an AC power cord and adapter, two RJ-45 CAT 5e cables, one 10GbE CAT 6a cable and some screws to mount 2.5' drives in the drive caddies.

A Closer Look


Asustor designed the AS4004T as a plain and simple box with a magnetic face plate which is diamond cut in design and has a glossy finish. It gives it a nice touch that makes it look appealing and even helps to gel in with rest of the interiors and decorations incase one wants to put it right on top of the living room table. In the front you can see that there is the power button on top followed by a row of LEDs that indicate various things such as power on, initialization/drive activity, network activity, USB device activity and then four indicators for each of the four drives. You also get one USB 3.1 port in the front that can be used to connect a flash drive or even USB dongles like a WiFi adapter etc.

In the back its plain aluminum and houses the enormous 120mm fan that provides this unit and the drives inside ample cooling to stay cool even under load for hours or even days at a stretch. This fan cools the unit thanks to its tunnel like design to which we'll come later on. Along the right side, we find a USB 3.1 port at the top, followed by a 10 GbE and two 1 GbE ports for network connections. One can also use all three of these ports simultaneously via Link Aggregation in case one doesn't have a 10GbE port on their switch to still benefit from high speed which in most cases will be more than 1GbE.

Inside you will find four individual tool less caddies that hold the drives be it a 3.5' HDD or a 2.5' SSD. These can be easily pulled out with hands and as the AS4004T supports Hot Swappable technology so it becomes all the way more useful as one can swap out a drive without turning off the device. Installing a HDD is easy and one can just pull out the supports from either sides, slide in the drive and tehn lock it in place with the supports. For a SSD one can use the provided screws and tighten them in to these caddies.

Inside the box with the caddies removed you can see that its like a tunnel design to maximize cooling and minimize the size of the unit itself. The Marvell ARMADA 7020 dual-core processor and the motherboard chipset are placed in the corner with an aluminum fin-stack or heatsink along with the 2GB DDR4 SODIMM which is from Micron. By doing this Asustor has managed to cool the drives and the vital components of the device through one 120mm fan at the back which pushes the cool air through this tunnel like arrangement.

Initialization and Setup


After installing all the drives or drive you want just connect the box using either one of 1GbE ports incase you don't have a 10GbE switch or use all the three ports to configure them in a Link Aggregation mode. Upon powering on the unit you'll hear the HDDs making a spinning noise to initialize which takes a round 2-3 minutes upon which you'll hear a beep that denotes that the unit is ready to be configured. I recommend that you download the Asustor Control Center utility from their official website which upon running will now detect the device and prompt you to click on the uninitialized button that'll open your default browser and guide you through the setup further on.

If the unit is online then it'll first download the latest firmware which Asustor calls ADM and once downloaded and updated the unit will guide you further. Over here you can select all the drives that you want to use & configure then into either RAID 0, RAID 5 or RAID 6. I use RAID 0 here as I require maximum capacity but you can use what suits your use & purpose the best. Also once done you'll have to enter an Admin name and password for accessing the AS4004T either through the browser or through the mobile app.








The UI of the Asustor AS4004T is one of the most intuitive and simple I've seen in a while with everything laid out neatly and in an easy to understand fashion even for the first time users. In the main interface you can install new apps from the App Central including CMS clients like Wordpress and P2P clients like Torrent. One can also use the AS4004T to connect to CCTV cameras, upto 16, and take their live feed through a client app on their handheld devices which is a worthwhile function for many. Monitoring the usage and temperature of the CPU , RAM and the drives is also possible since the other components will be stressed when pushing that 10GbE interface to its limits especially when using SSDs. Power Plans can be managed as per the usage or customized into an entirely new plan. I like how you can even manage the LED brightness incase you keep it on a table top directly where you sit and work.

Performance and Benchmarks


Setting up the Asustor AS4004T was easy and everything went smooth in the setup process. I have used two Toshiba MG04ACA200E 3.5" 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 7.2K RPM Enterprise Hard Drives that offer 128MB of cache and are ideal for servers and NAS devices. I will be putting these two in RAID 0 and run a series of real world tests that one may encounter in their day to day usage through a 1GbE port on my Asus X370 Crosshair VI motherboard. Over here I have used a cluster of files of various nature to get a more accurate result while for workload Adobe Premier Pro was used.

Over here we can see that the two Toshiba drives are working exactly as they should in a RAID 0 configuration and the AS4004T is doing its job perfectly without any bottlenecks or mid-work lapses. This shoes that even if one uses four drives in RAID 0 on a 1GbE connection or even a 10GbE connection there won't be any performance anomaly. Though to stress a 10GbE connection you'll need SATA drives in RAID 0.

For noise testing the level was measured from a distance of three feet which is ideal even in case one keeps it right next to him on his work table. The device is barely audible even at fan set to Auto and one can only hear the noise of the HDD spinning ever now and then. Power consumption is also minimal and mainly of the HDDs themselves. As for the temperature the HDDs were in the low 30°C mark while the CPU reached a maximum of 55°C, this was recorded after an overnight usage of the box where I had put a few files on download via Torrent and then copied them onto my main system so this should be a real word usage indicative as most people would keep this device running for prolonged period of time.

My Verdict 

The 10GbE interface is the future and even if one doesn't need it now they'll surely need it tomorrow due to the ever growing usage and falling prices of such switches across the board. Asustor AS4004T comes at a time when it offers almost everything that one would need at a price tag that is much lower than what others come at with the same 10GbE port. Its loaded with features and does the job well in terms of both performance and usability especially with it intuitive yet easy to use UI which even a novice can use.
I love the physical appearance too which is elegant and functional giving it a hassle free appeal. Hot Swappable drives and Link Aggregation is something that many will find useful along with a rich collection of apps either on the store or via installing one's own APK files. Its one of those products where its hard for me to find any flaw as to be honest there aren't any especially when looking at the target audience and price tag.
"Asustor has done a brilliant job with the AS4004T, making it an all rounder offering rich features and to the point performance along with a future proof 10GbE interface all at an affordable price tag. A must buy in its price range!"
Pros - 
  • Competitive pricing 
  • Has a 10GbE port
  • Easy to use UI
  • Hot Swappable drives and Link Aggregation 
  • Runs cool and quite 
  • Elegant Looks 
  • Solid Build Quality 

Cons - 
  • None
I give it a 9/10 earning our Gold Award!