If you plan to upgrade your Linux desktop hardware in the near future or will be shopping for new PC hardware this holiday season, here's a few words of advice on recommended components and manufacturers to go with for the best Linux hardware experience.
If you are looking for a secure and nearly indestructible way to transport your laptop and other items, Zero Halliburton has a very viable option with their S1-SI Premium Slimline Attache.
When sending over the Intel Ivy Bridge kit back in April, Intel also included an engineering sample of a PCI Express x1 WiFi adapter that is part of their "Desktop Intel WiFi - 2012" platform. Does this Intel 802.11n WLAN adapter work as well under Linux as their open-source graphics driver?
If you're wanting to pick-up a USB3-enabled drive enclosure like the SilverStone TS07 or RVS02 (or any other USB 3.0 peripherals), but don't have any USB 3.0 ports on your system, the SilverStone EC03 can provide two USB 3.0 ports from a PCI Express x1 slot.
If you're a Linux desktop user on an open-source graphics driver that lacks proper fan management and power management support, you may want to consider an after-market graphics card cooler that is more efficient and also quieter. One of the high-performance after-market GPU cooling solutions is the ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme Plus II, which boasts three fans but is very quiet and does an incredible job at keeping NVIDIA and ATI/AMD graphics processors operating at quite low temperatures.
When talking about SilverStone Technology on Phoronix it's commonly about one of their wonderfully-designed computer cases that we have enjoyed reviewing over the past six years, one of their power supplies, or the few other product categories this Taiwanese manufacturer has explored. Among the more peculiar products from SilverStone has been the HDDBOOST, the Raven mouse, and the Treasure RFID Enclosure. What we have our hands on today is SilverStone's first entry into the single-drive Network Attached Storage (NAS) market. The SilverStone DC01 is an affordable Linux-based NAS server.
Taking a break from the usual plethora of Linux benchmarks, delivering the news about Dirndl, and providing other Linux hardware reviews and news, to end out the week is a look at the Titan from Sumo Lounge. Weighing over 35 kilograms, this is one of the heaviest products that we have reviewed at Phoronix.
A few weeks back we reviewed the Swedish-made Excito B3 Mini ARM Server, which we liked for its capabilities and hardware, until it overheated. Today we are reviewing another product from a Swedish company, Mionix AB, as we try out the Naos 3200 computer mouse. This is coming more than a year after reviewing our first Mionix product, the Saiph 3200 Laser Gaming Mouse.
Not often do we look at computer accessories at Phoronix, but every once in a while some product looks interesting for whatever reason and we decide to try it out. With this review, we are looking at the AluStand from Artwizz. Artwizz is a company that is based in Berlin and was founded in just 2004 as a manufacturer of iPod and iPhone accessories, but since then they have branched out into developing other innovative products primarily designed for Apple devices, but other notebook computers too.
There are some community projects like Lomoco for providing configuration controls for Logitech mice under Linux, but this project and others have not exactly moved along at a brisk pace even though mice drivers are much simpler than say graphics cards or most other hardware components. For Razer mice, there was RazerTool, a simple project to provide some basic tweaking options for select Razer mice under Linux, but that project has been defunct since early 2007. Even with the lack of configuration tools or specialized drivers for Razer mice (or keyboards and other peripherals) on Linux, we still end up falling in love with their hardware as the build quality of their products are phenomenal, the products we have tested have been designed very well, and they really have just been excellent products. Back in February of 2007 we tested out the Razer DeathAdder, which was an example of a great Razer product and received our Editor's Choice Award, but today we are trying out the 1800 DPI version of their DeathAdder gaming mouse.
While wireless chipsets are not as complicated as graphics processors, under Linux they can cause just as many headaches when it comes to getting them working reliably. More hardware vendors have opened up to supporting their wireless chipsets under Linux, but still it can be a pain having to hunt down the firmware for a wireless adapter, needing to build an out-of-tree driver, having issues with the driver such as with WEP/WPA authentication, or if all else fails trying to get the Windows driver working under Linux through ndiswrapper. However, for those looking for a PCI-based 802.11g/n wireless adapter that will work "out of the box" with modern distributions like Ubuntu 9.10, one that we have found to do the job is the Encore ENLWI-N.
Most often we are faced with testing out the latest motherboards, processors, and graphics cards to see how well they work with Linux under different conditions and a variety of tests. While those are obviously the components that most Linux users are concerned with when it comes to Linux compatibility and performance, plenty of peripherals to this day don't work under Linux or will only do so to a limited extent or after jumping through various hurdles to get a half-working device. With mice for instance, they generally will work fine when plugged into any modern desktop Linux distribution, but with some of the gaming and high-end input devices not all of the buttons will be detected or other features will not work. When a company came along that we never heard of, Mionix, claiming to offer some of the best gaming products, curiosity got the best of us and we decided to see how well the Saiph 3200 from this unheard of company would work on the Linux desktop.
When setting up my new office recently one of the test machines wound up being a distance away from the rest of the systems and the wired network. Rather than going through the hassle of dropping a CAT-6 line to this test station, the quicker and easier approach was to just pickup another USB WiFi adapter. The wireless adapter ended up being the MediaLink USB54G that offers USB 2.0 and 802.11g support, but only mentioned compatibility for Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, and Vista systems. How did the MediaLink USB adapter working out under Linux? Quite well.
Back in February we reviewed the NZXT Cryo LX, which was a massive notebook cooler made of aluminum that packed three 120mm fans and support for up to 19" widescreen notebooks. With not many individuals having 17" and 19" notebooks compared to 15" and smaller, NZXT has now introduced the Cryo S that is better sized for smaller notebooks and netbooks. The Cryo S cooler uses just two 120mm fans that can be run off USB or an AC adapter and there is an integrated two-port USB 2.0 hub.
While nearly all of our Linux benchmarking work at Phoronix is automated through the Phoronix Test Suite, it is still grueling and time-intensive work to setup all of the test systems, handle the management of the testing, and of course writing all of the articles and news posts. As a quick break from all of our Linux hardware testing and software benchmarking, the folks at Sumo Lounge asked to send out their Omni Bean Bag Chair. The Sumo Lounge Omni has been reviewed in many computer and gaming magazines as a great piece of furniture for computer gamers and has been featured in other publications like Playboy and Hooters Magazine.
Last year we reviewed the SilverStone Treasure TS01, which was a 2.5-inch hard drive enclosure but what had made it unique was its use of two RFID keys, which unless in the close vicinity to the device, would impair the hard disk drive from functioning. This was a nice security buffer, but SilverStone has been at it again refining their products and seeing what else they are able to achieve. As part of their Raven series, which includes products like the unique RVM01B mouse and beautiful Raven RV01 chassis, there is now the Raven RVS01. The RVS01 does not have any RFID tags or any advanced security measures, but it does offer eSATA connectivity.
Back in November we reviewed the Logitech G15, which was a well-built keyboard and offered a nice set of features, albeit it came at a lofty premium. The G15 sported a "GamePanel LCD" at the top of the keyboard which was a mini programmable LCD. This was nice and with some manual setup procedures would work under Linux. However, for those that may be looking for such a display or just looking for a smaller device to help with gaming, there is the Logitech G13. The G13 is not a traditional keyboard but rather an "Advanced Gameboard", as described by Logitech. It is effectively just an input device for your left hand that comes with 25 programmable keys along with a mini-joystick and at the top is a GamePanel LCD.
It is not often that we look at audio products at Phoronix. Usually we are looking at sound cards with their Linux driver, like the Creative X-Fi Linux fiasco and the ALSA drivers for high-end sound cards. Occasionally we will look at gaming headphones and we have even looked at multi-million dollar home theaters, but in this review, we are checking out a simple 2.1 speaker system. The folks over at Xoxide recently sent out the Altec Lansing VS2421 speaker system, which we are testing out this morning.
Razer has long been known as a manufacturer of high-end gaming mice with such prestigious products as the Copperhead, DeathAdder, and most recently the Lachesis. Razer has also expanded to offer other products such as the Barracuda Sound Card, Tarantula Keyboard, and the Piranha Gaming Headset. Razer's products generally do not come cheap, however, recently they have begun offering lower cost products such as the Arctosa Keyboard, which is still built and designed well but is a step-down from their flagship product lines. Most recently, Razer has now further entered the entry-level gaming mouse product with the introduction of the Salmosa, which is a sub-$40 USD but still promises high precision with its 3G infrared sensor.
Razer is a company that began by producing high-end gaming mice like the Copperhead and since that point they have ventured into other gaming products like high-end sound cards, headphones, and mouse pads. Back in 2006 we looked at the Razer Tarantula, but the Arctosa has now succeeded that gaming keyboard. The Razer Arctosa is a moderately priced gaming keyboard that offers macro keys, media keys, 1000Hz Ultrapolling, and other features to entice gamers. The big question though is how well this keyboard with all of its functionality works under Linux.
Last year we reviewed the OCZ Alchemy Elixir, which was the first keyboard we looked at from this company that once was just known for their system memory and power supplies but since have ventured into all sorts of gaming products. The OCZ Alchemy Elixir was a nice keyboard, but now joining their peripherals line-up is the OCZ Behemoth -- a laser gaming mouse with a 4-way LED display, 18 grams worth of customizable weights, and an adjustable DPI sensor.
Logitech is one of the leading manufacturers of computer peripherals, including keyboards and mice, and with that, they have an immense selection of products. Among the different Logitech mice are ones with interchangeable grips, custom-color LEDs, and even an air mouse, but one of the newest members of the Logitech MX family is the MX1100. The Logitech MX1100 is a cordless laser mouse that is designed to not only be wireless but also provide extremely comfort. Will this Logitech cordless laser mouse work under Linux though?
While a relatively simple device, web-cameras are still an area on Linux that can be problematic when it comes to compatibility and the device functioning properly. The level of Linux support for USB web-cameras has improved quite a bit in recent years, and for many devices it is now a plug-and-play experience, but that is not the case for all devices. In this article we are taking a brief look at the Logitech QuickCam Communicate Deluxe. The QuickCam Communicate Deluxe has a 1.3 mega-pixel sensor with the capabilities to capture video up to a resolution of 1280 x 1024 at 30 frames per second.
Quite infrequently do we look at cooling products at Phoronix, but when something interesting comes along, we certainly snatch up the opportunity to look at something new and unique. An example of this is with the Noctua NH-U12DX, which is a heatsink designed for Intel's Xeon processors, but it does not share many traits with most workstation/server heatsinks. This tower heatsink with three heatpipes can also be setup in an air-duct design for dual Xeon systems where a the 120mm fans can push air across two NH-U12DX coolers.
NZXT is a company that started out by producing unique computer cases designed for computer enthusiasts and gamers that were built well, were not based off designs from other manufacturers, and carried a distinct set of features. We have reviewed several NZXT cases at Phoronix, but with time they have expanded to produce other products. One of their first non-enclosure products was a NZXT power supply, which has now led to a complete series of NZXT power supplies, and a thermal controller that can be installed into a 5.25-inch drive bay. Their latest venture, however, has led them to producing a notebook cooler. The NZXT Cryo LX is a large notebook cooler made of aluminum, has an integrated four port USB 2.0 hub, and uses three 120mm fans for active cooling.
With the holidays quickly approaching, if you are looking for a new 802.11g wireless router to connect a few more gadgets to your network but not looking for something expensive, you may be interested in the NetGear WGR614 Wireless-G Router. This wireless router with four 10/100MB Ethernet ports is fairly basic when it comes to its feature set, but from our testing we've found this router that sells well below $50 USD to be quite reliable for home use.
A few months back we had looked at the OCZ Alchemy Elixir Keyboard, which was designed for gamers and was built quite nicely, but it had fallen short when it came to the multimedia keys working under Linux. Though if you are looking for an advanced keyboard that works quite well with Linux, you may want to check out the Logitech G15, which works under Linux and even with its small LCD display.
While SilverStone Technology has long been known for their high-end (and very expensive) computer cases such as the Sugo and Temjin series, as of late they've begun manufacturing other computer peripherals while driving new and interesting innovations into these conventional products. Earlier this month we looked at the SilverStone Treasure TS01, which was a 2.5" SATA drive enclosure, but separating it from the other enclosure devices on the market, this one would encrypt the drive and secure it using two RFID keys. If these small keys were not exposed to the TS01, the drive enclosure would not work. Another interesting creation from SilverStone Technology is the Raven RVM01B. This here is SilverStone's first computer mouse and we are looking at it today.
Over the years of Razer launching new products such as the Copperhead, Barracuda HP-1, and Tarantula, we have been completely overtaken by their incredibly well-designed products -- primarily their high-end gaming mice -- and the bar they continue to raise with each new iteration of products they introduce. The Razer Copperhead was one of their best mice to have been introduced and it contained a laser sensor with 2000 DPI capabilities, but their newest mouse is the Lachesis and it uses a 4000DPI 3G laser sensor. However, with Razer having yet to provide any drivers or customization software for the advanced capabilities of this mouse on Linux, is the Razer Lachesis worth its expensive price tag?
When thinking of OCZ Technology what comes to mind? High-end DDR3? DDR2 with large and unique heatspreaders? Their Neural Impulse Actuator? Chances are you're thinking of them for their memory products they've been manufacturing for eight years, but not for any OCZ-branded keyboards. However, OCZ has done just that and they've introduced their very first keyboard targeted towards gamers. The Elixir Keyboard is part of OCZ's growing Alchemy series of gaming products. We're not terribly surprised that OCZ has introduced a keyboard, seeing as this company is extremely innovative and has been on the fast track since acquiring PC Power & Cooling and Hypersonic PC last year. Today at Phoronix we are checking out this first OCZ keyboard named the Elixir.
165 peripherals articles published on Phoronix.