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Robert Say (UK)

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Asus AMD Radeon HD 6670 Graphics Card (1GB, PCI-Express, GDDR5, Dust-proof Fan)
Asus AMD Radeon HD 6670 Graphics Card (1GB, PCI-Express, GDDR5, Dust-proof Fan)

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Either just decent or great depending on your setup and purpose., 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are two ways to view this card - performance for price, or performance outright. Both of these can be affected by your setup as this card is the highest supported chipset on AMD's A-Series APU processors for a "Dual Graphics" setup.

Performance for Price
- Very, very good. The card is a little over £50 and for that you get a good quality heat sink/fan assembly, 1GB GDDR5 memory and the bundled software allows you to tweak your GPU and allow for some modest overclocking if you like that sort of thing. A steal at this price point, and little else comes close.

Performance Outright
- This card sits in a difficult area where it is miles better than cards costing just £10 less, but miles worse than cards costing closer to £100 which means it is hard to find a distinct purpose for it. Too powerful for YouTube/DVD playback, but may choke on high end games at high settings. It will play most modern games on medium settings paired with modest processors (Intel Core i3 or AMD Phenom for example)

HOWEVER. Where this card shines is if you set this card up in a Dual Graphics configuration with an AMD A10 5700 or 5800K. You get a lot more bang for your buck and this card will run Crysis 3 on high settings, Dishonored on maximum settings and Civilization 5 on Very High settings (all at 1080p resolution) just to name a few in this setup - a great option for gamers on a budget, or anyone already using the A10 on it's own and looking for a boost.

Ultimately if you are looking at a £50 GPU the chances are that budget may be a concern for you, and for the price, there really is no competition in terms of performance for your money.

If however money is no object and you want to play the latest games at high/max settings, look higher up the food chain to avoid being disappointed - you do get what you pay for.

If all you want to do is play movies, watch videos and do some casual gaming (Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and the like), then most integrated graphics solutions will suffice for your needs, so save your money and put it into the rest of your setup!


Enermax ETS-T40-TB T.B. Silence CPU-K1/4hler (PWM 120mm) f1/4r Sockel 775/1155/1156/1366/2011/AMD/AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1
Enermax ETS-T40-TB T.B. Silence CPU-K1/4hler (PWM 120mm) f1/4r Sockel 775/1155/1156/1366/2011/AMD/AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1
Offered by Advance Technologies
Price: £27.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent performance, OK noise levels but way too big., 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good Points
- Looks great
- Solid construction
- Mountable to just about any AMD or Intel socket, including Intel 2011

Bad Points
- Size. This cooler is HUGE and unless you are careful, you can wind up blocking RAM slots, PCI-e slots, and it may be too large for your case. Check measurements before buying!

The noise levels and cooling performance are honestly neither great nor all that bad. The fan is too loud for my liking at high speeds, but at lower RPM (under 1100 or so) it is quite acceptable. However this cooler is aimed at overclockers and enthusiasts, so this may be likely to cause you a problem. The cooling performance is decent, idling an AMD 5800K (stock clock, 3.8 Ghz) at around 40 degrees and reaching about 50-55 degrees under load.

All in all there are better coolers available for the same price, but there are far worse too and this model from Enermax is solid and reliable, if not all that exceptional.


G-Skill Ares F3-1866C9D-8GAB 8 GB (4 GB x 2) DDR3-1866 Non-ECC Memory Modules with Low Profile Heat Spreader - Blue
G-Skill Ares F3-1866C9D-8GAB 8 GB (4 GB x 2) DDR3-1866 Non-ECC Memory Modules with Low Profile Heat Spreader - Blue
Price: £42.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Low Profile RAM, 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
G-Skill are known for making high performance RAM, and also usually quite gaudy and flashy - fine if you want a PC resembling the Enterprise's engineering deck but I was looking for something less shouty for an ITX media/gaming build.

The RAM is rated for 1866Mhz, but will run at either 1333Mhz or 1600Mhz out of the box depending on your motherboard, so do go into BIOS and select XMP profile 1 to get the advertised speeds and timings.

The build quality is fantastic, and not something I've seen specifically said of G-Skill products but the DIMMs are solid, weighty without being cumbersome and the low profile heat sinks look sleek and smart.

All in all this is really good quality memory which looks great on a motherboard which also has blue highlights!


MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 AMD FM2 Mini-ITX Motherboard (Socket FM2)
MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 AMD FM2 Mini-ITX Motherboard (Socket FM2)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Mid-Range Board, 12 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having spent a lot of my budget for this build on good quality PSU, case, keyboard and mouse I have chosen the FM2 platform to provide good performance at a lower price point than a more powerful Intel based rig. This MSI board was a bit of a gamble, however I can happily report it was one well worth taking.

Good Points
- Price is very reasonable
- Feature set is impressive: some great features including SATA-III; USB 3.0; Bluetooth 3.0+HS; WiFi stack; e-SATA; HDMI; VGA - all built onto the board, which is amazing for a 6" square Mini ITX board
- Great graphical BIOS. Supports mouse input and has extensive settings for overclocking all your components

Bad Points
- If you are using an aftermarket cooler you may find that it blocks your only precious PCI-e slot! 120mm is the absolute maximum width of the fins. I have an HD6670 GPU and I had to insert a small rubber gromit between the card and cooler (a Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk) fins to prevent a short.
- Not a great VRM, and no manual voltage control so overclocking is ultimately going to be limited to anything you can achieve with what the board can do automatically (around 1.4 volts - I have got 4.2 Ghz so far with fairly little effort, so potentially hopeful)
- BIOS won't display properly over an HDMI connection - hold onto that old VGA monitor for a bit longer!

The issue with the spacing of the CPU socket and the PCI-e slot is my reason for knocking off 1 star. It's not insurmountable, but does have the potential to cause problems for less experienced users. If you're simply using the onboard graphics for an A-Series APU though, this problem will not affect you - similarly if you use the stock cooler or one less than 120mm in width, then there will be no issue here either.

I can recommend this board for anyone looking to build a pretty powerful mid range media/gaming PC on a budget.

***NOTE*** - I have just repurchased this board having trashed my first one by incorrectly flashing the BIOS! Make sure you carefully read the flashing instructions on the MSI website if upgrading from BIOS version 1.x-2.x as it requires a boot from USB to do.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition (XBOX 360)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition (XBOX 360)
Offered by GAMEFORCE
Price: £19.99

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great game with Flawed Mechanics, 3 Oct. 2012
OK first up - Oblivion is not Skyrim. It's 5 years old now, so I won't be comparing the two, just taking Oblivion on its own merits.

The basic premise of Oblivion is that a parrallel dimension, known as Oblivion, and filled with Daedra - demon like warriors hell bent on the destruction and ruin of Tamriel - is staging an invasion of the Imperial heartland. Led by Mehrunes Dagon, the Prince of Destruction, the whole world stands on the brink of bloody conflict and conquer, and you are the only one who can stop it. Sound familiar? It should since the majority of RPG games feature a similar premise. What does Oblivion credit though is the way that it engages you in this storyline. It may be a bit tired as a narrative, but giving you a truly HUGE world to explore, books to read that give you history from the previous Elder Scrolls games in case (like me) you never played them before, and loads and LOADS of options for independant exploration to further you experience make it a deeply compelling world. Even for agame of its age, the scenery is impressive and there is an enourmous amount of content like side quests, guilds to join and activities to do. There are very few games that offer so much for the price on the box.

HOWEVER. The encouragement to explore, and develop your character, and level up is central to the ultimate failing of this title, and it is a big one. The levelling system, perhaps the single most fundamental gameplay element of any RPG is BROKEN. Yep. Broken.

It breaks down like this - Your character has attributes like Strength, Intelligence and Willpower. These values govern relevant skills. The higher your attribute, the more effective you will be at the skills it governs e.g. Strength governs weapon abilities like Blade which makes your better with swords and daggers. Your skill level (between 1 and 100) also governs how effective you'll be with a particular weapon, but not as much as the multiplyer from attributes. Attributes also govern your three basic character stats which are health, stamina and magika. You use up reserves of these states to cast spells, perform weapon attacks, run, jump, and take damage.

Seems like a solid system? Well it isn't. You level up by getting 10 skill increases in any of your seven 'major' skills that you nominate during the opening section of the game. Each time you level up you nominate three attributes to increase that level, and they will increase by between 1 and 5 points depending on how many skill ups you got that level in skills governed by that attribute. Unfortunately enemies scale to your level based on an assumption that you will always get 5 points of attribute increase in each of your three chosen attributes EVERY LEVEL and if you don't - YOU GET WEAKER BY LEVELLING UP. Relative to your enemies.

Unbelievable. What this means is that unless you turn the difficulty to minimum (boring) or spend every moment of the game relentlessly tracking and planning your skill increases to ensure you level 'efficiently' (also very boring - I speak from exhaustive experience here) you won't be able to complete the game as the end game enemies will out-power you by such a margin it becomes impossible. Can it be done? Of course if you track everything. Should you have to? Debateable, it is an RPG after all. Do you want to? Probably not!

The only way to enjoy this game is to set your major skills to skills you literally NEVER USE. e.g. for a mage your major skills should be all combat. Block, Blunt etc. This means you never level up, but your 'minor' skills can still increase to 100. This means you have a powerhouse level 1 character who can defeat just about everything in the game with ease. Downside? Most loot is level based, and since smithing isn't featured in Oblivion you will (almost) never see interesting or fun weapons and armor.

However taking this approach means you can explore and take advantage of the rich world and explore and actually have fun with the game as intended by the developers.

All in all then Oblivion is a frustrating game to play. You want to love it, and play it and enjoy it but its core gameplay mechanics mean that you can't, unless you take the approach I describe above. It has plenty to recommend it, but plenty that takes away from its strengths which is a great shame.

I'm sure that hardcore, stat tracking RPG players will love to spend their free time bookkeeping and note taking, but I'm a gamer, not an accountant and for this reason I can't give Oblivion a rating any Higher than 3*

What is does well it does REALLY well, but there are too many faults to let it shine.

If you're new to the Elder Scrolls, save your money and go buy Skyrim instead - That's the introduction to the franchise you deserve.


Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers (Walnut Pearl)
Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers (Walnut Pearl)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Entry Level Speakers I've Used, 24 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've owned and loved my pair of these for three years now and essentially the strength of these speakers comes from 2 or 3 big things they do absolutely right, which are:

Sound: These speakers sound great. They are full, rounded and can handle reasonable levels of bass meaning that a subwoofer isn't a necessity as it is with almost all other lower priced speakers. How do they do this?:

Construction Quality: These speakers are BIG. They weigh over 6.5 Kg each as they have a very deep cabinet (some 12 inches front to back) which means that you'll likely need to position these at an angle to fit them onto bookshelves, tv benches or stands - not a particular problem since you really should angle speakers towards the center of a room anyway. The speaker cones are woven kevlar, and have the excellent bonus of a good quality tweeter in each speaker for clear treble frequencies. This means music and particularly dialogue in movies is clearly audible, even at lower volume levels.

Price: I bought these speakers some three years ago for £200. Even at that price, these are still a steal, so for the £149.99 price at time of this review? What are you waiting for, an invitation?

Bottom line:

Great, balanced, long lasting, clear sound quality with a warmth and depth of sound you don't normally get even from higher priced bookshelf speakers - the only thing I will ever replace my pair of Diamond 10.1's with is another pair of Diamond 10.1's.

5*

(I use the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers with a Cambridge Audio S90 Subwooder and a Yamaha RX-V467 Av reciever. Blu Ray, DVD, CD and Vinyl all sound fantastic with the right choice of DSP settings. MP3 also sounds great if you have high quality files. IF YOUR MP3 PLAYER IS LOADED WITH LOW BIT-RATE PIRATED GARBAGE, THESE SPEAKERS WILL NOT HIDE IT. DON'T BUY THESE OR ANY OTHER QUALITY EQUIPMENT TO DO SO.)


How I Met Your Mother - Season 3-4 [DVD]
How I Met Your Mother - Season 3-4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Josh Radnor
Price: £7.68

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Dear. Lost its way quickly., 24 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not much to say beyond the title - Series 1 and 2 were charming, funny and enjoyable. Seasons 3 and 4 are none of these things.

The format of telling the story through flashbacks from the point of view of "Future Ted" becomes an inconvenience in most episodes, and the writers clearly feel the same as they avoid it as much as possible, sticking to a "present" point of view as much as they can.

Why?

Because the show has gone on for too long. Having a slightly eccentric old dad telling some little stories around the central 'how I met your mother' story is fine. Worked well for two series. But no child would listen to this dreck for this long! Nor would any dad repeatedly tell his kids that if he hadn't stopped at that particular crosswalk that his life would never be the same again, only for NOTHING TO HAPPEN AT ALL OF ANY REAL CONSEQUENCE. The first two seasons made sense and covered some major events in the characters lives. Seasons 3 and 4 don't - they draw out the most tedious story points of the first two series because they had no new ideas: if all you're left with are the stories that didn't make the cut for series 1 or 2 END THE SHOW. Its been good, finish there. Please.

Unfortunately going out on a high isn't something american TV execs understand.


Castle - Season 1-3 [DVD]
Castle - Season 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nathan Fillion

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts great, loses itself along the way., 24 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Castle - Season 1-3 [DVD] (DVD)
OK first, let's get one thing clear: this is a GREAT TV series. It does loads of things right from humour to storyline, character interplay to suspense and action. It doesn't often put a foot wrong, but there are a couple of things that keep it from being as good as it could have been.

I have owned all three seasons as seperate sets, so I can't comment on the packaging of this collection etc. so this review is all about the content, which is, lets be honest, all we really care about in the end.

Season 1: Introduces the characters and sets the tone of the whole Castle narrative with some truly brilliant and even (sometimes) ORIGINAL "whodunnit" stories - not many US series can make a genuine claim to originality, be it jilted lovers, jealous divorcees or roommates etc etc - especially keep an eye out for episode 4 - won't ruin anything, but probably the highlight of Season 1 for me. The main story arc involves the 10 year cold murder of Detective Beckett's mother, and this theme is revisited periodically across all three seasons. The relationship between Castle and his daughter Alexis is heartfelt and funny - although the mother's character doesn't get a chance to shine until later series, she's a welcome addition to the ensemble and rounds off the cast well.

Season 2: Develops the over-arching story involving the murder of Beckett's mother well, with some interesting twists and a great mid-season two parter that brings all of the main characters (who by now you will love) into harms way in a Joss Whedon-esque 'he might actually kill this guy...' way that makes the suspense all the more effective. HOWEVER. The increased focus on the central narrative does inevitably take away from many of the day-to-day murder cases the team investigates, reducing some of them to one or two line scenes where one person reveals they 'just happened' to find a clue to the key piece of incriminating evidence when they tripped over in a broom closet or some such. This may not be an issue for some people, but because the great strength of the first season was in its individual murder case stories, this detracted from the overall feeling of the season compared to Season 1, which is to me still the best on offer.

Season 3: OK, now things get a bit silly. Again moving more towards the Beckett's mother thread, but in a (typically) american way of introducing more and more unlikely and convoluted plot points in order to prolong the story into a guaranteed fourth season renewal (btw, Castle is soon showing season 5 in the US, so be prepared for this to go on for some time...). There are a number of revelations about the case, some good, others ummm - not. Make up your own minds about it. Ultimately though, this one case dominates the latter half of season 3 and all of the great little stories give way to allow for this to happen. A shame, but overall still a worthwhile season.

All along I should add, are the smatterings of the "will-they-won't-they" romance between Castle and Beckett, which was endearing in series 1 and 2 as it was just a bit flirty and fun but into season 3 it's becoming more real, but at the same time the writers (again having to draw out plot points to fill a 24 episode season) manage to turn it into a Ross and Rachael debarcle of unlikely last second betrayals and frustrating near misses. A shame as this results in the loss of the firey chemistry the pair shared in seasons 1 and 2, becoming more resentlful of one another.

All problems aside, Castle is a fun and worthwhile series for fans of US detective dramas, with enough character stories and comedy to appeal to others as well.


Avengers Assemble [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [2012]
Avengers Assemble [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [2012]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: £6.35

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shameless Rip-off, 23 Sept. 2012
Eons ago, we poor suckers would not have known the exact content of US versions of films compared to UK releases. However in these times of the internet, did some braindead sap at Marvel/Disney really think people wouldn't notice a stripped out half hearted release like this??

It's an unfathomable decision but a lesson in what happens when studios get greedy. "I'm sure they'll buy this AND the full release in 6 months won't they?"

No Disney. No we won't.


Once
Once
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out, Chauvinists, Out!, 23 Mar. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Once (Audio CD)
I'm sure by now that most of you know the deal with these bands: Overly talented virtuoso power metal. With so many bands from Scandanavia and Central Europe dominating the market and some Brit up-and comers emerging as well (most notably 'Dragonforce') it is hard to find a band that has truly set themselves apart from the pack.
Enter Nightwish.
'Once' is a fantastic album in every way one could expect. Truly collossal guitar tones, breakneck drumming, heavy orchestration and killer vocal melodies.

It is in this latter catagory that the key to Nightwish is found. Female vocalists are few and far between in Metal, but Tarja Turunen turns in a breathtaking performance, and the passionate timbre of voice she brings to a harsh wall of guitar provides an indulgingly fresh take on the genre, without stooping to the commercialised depths of Evenescance.
If anyone could dare to listen to this album and still claim women have no place in rock I'd despair.
Worth every penny, and I eagerly await the next Nightwish effort.


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