Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [06.06.05]
2005 marks our second year at Computex; last year it quickly became my favourite event - especially after Comdex bit the dust.
Computex makes for the perfect venue for the leading PC manufacturers to show off their goods. After all, they are all based in Taiwan! Some companies are located within minutes of the showroom floor.
First of all, while it seems that this year's show may have been smaller than last year's, I must say the weather sure worked out well for everyone. Temperatures hovered around the 30 degree Celsius range (about 86 Fahrenheit), but unlike typical Taiwan summers, the humidty wasn't as drastic. It only rained for a few hours (however in those few hours, I think we got a week's worth of rain) and I am glad I stayed a few days after the show, because the weather has been wonderful - sunny and dry.
Our coverage might be a little different than what you're used to - we don't make any attempts to get 'everything Computex has to offer' into 3 or 4 days worth of coverage. Instead, we go around, looking for products you might find interesting. Our tour begins with Gigabyte:
Looking at Gigabyte's booth, it appears that they are in a bit of a flux lately... On one hand, they had some pretty hardcore cooling solutions, and on the other, it was business as usual. We recently awarded them two Editor's Choice awards in a single review (it's not common we give away one award, let alone two!) for their efforts in providing totally silent video cards in the mid-to-high end range. After writing that review, I was curious to see what they had to show at Computex.
The first thing that caught my eye, and is definitely generating a lot of buzz in our forum is iRam.
iRam is Gigabyte's attempt to offer an affordable solid state drive solution. It sits in a PCI slot - but don't worry, it's only there to take power. Rather than connect through a very slow PCI bus, it connects to the SATA bus through a SATA translator chip. This will enable it to use every last bit of SATA bandwidth, something no hard drive can claim.
iRam has four DDR slots, supporting up to 4GB of space. It also packs a backup battery on board, because as soon as the ram loses power, all information will be wiped. Don't worry though, even when the PC is shut down, there is still enough juice going through the PCI slot to keep the ram and battery from emptying out.
4 GB may not sound like a lot, but it should be suitable for working on large video and picture files, as well as databases. One idea that quickly came to our forum members was to use it as a Windows swap drive. I personally can't wait to throw some real world benchmarks at this thing. It should retail for around $50-60, although I don't think Gigabyte is sure if they want to sell it individually or bundle it with some of their higher end motherboards.
Although the original 3D1 impressed us in that it shows Gigabyte is willing to think outside the box (and go through with their designs), it wasn't exactly a practical product. The 6600 GT is a great low end solution, but just doesn't make for a very good SLI solution. Gigabyte is moving on though, with another version of the 3D1. This time, they kicked things up a notch by using the 6800 GT core:
Sure it looks BIG, but remember there are two GPU's on one card! This should make for a more practical solution for those who can afford SLI right off the bat (although I think the greatest benefit of SLI is the capability to upgrade further down the road). This version of the 3D1 will deftinitely work on any other SLI motherboard, from any brand. To be successful though, I think Gigabyte has to price it below a pair of 6800 GT's.
Using the GT core allowed Gigabyte to keep the 3D1 within a reasonable size. Although the Ultra would have been faster, well... have a look at Asus' version:
That thing is HUGE! Picture trying to install a motherboard into your case vertically... This thing is almost that big! And to boot, Asus didn't have a live demo running, so I think this is more 'proof of concept' than anything.
We have some more Gigabyte stuff to show you later on...
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