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Kingston's First NVMe SSD, The KC1000

Kingston has reintroduced the KC1000 NVMe SSD. We first saw the drive in January at CES, but the company wanted to hold the details until the official launch. Seemingly, that is in the very near future--mid June.
The KC series has historically targeted system builders and corporations upgrading systems en masse. Kingston released several client SSDs under the KC brand, and many of them were tuned for increased stability and longevity but share similar hardware with models from the standard consumer product line. The KC1000 press release seems to turn the tables and take this series in a slightly different direction.
"The demands of today’s performance power users are constantly being put to the test as new data-intensive applications push the boundaries of what can be achieved with even the market’s high performance professional workstations and most powerful gaming rigs,” said Ariel Perez, SSD business manager, Kingston. “KC1000 is the perfect solution to meet the needs of media and design professionals, gaming enthusiasts and anyone who needs ultra-low latency storage performance to end data bottlenecks. This native NVMe device offers one of the industry’s most powerful storage solutions for high-resolution content delivery, virtual reality applications, accelerated game play or a competitive edge for the creative professional on tight deadlines.”
Gamers, power users, and enthusiasts have always been directed to the HyperX brand, but in recent years that series shifted to target gamers exclusively. Kingston calls the KC1000 an "Ultimate Storage Upgrade for HD Video, PC Enthusiasts, Gaming and More." The release later identified a list of specific application categories the series will perform well in:
High-resolution video editing Virtual and augmented reality applications CAD software applications Streaming media Graphically intensive video games Data visualization Real-time analytics  
It seems the KC series may begin to target a wider audience with the introduction of the first Kingston NVMe SSD.
The KC1000 series ships in three capacity sizes, but there are a total of six product SKUs. For each capacity, the drives ships as either a bare drive or with a half-height, half-length (HHHL) add-in card adapter. The performance coming from the Phision PS5007-E7 controller paired with Toshiba 15nm planar NAND looks strong. The sequential read performance reaches 2,700 MB/s, and the sequential writes are 900 MB/s for the 240GB model and 1,600 MB/s for the two largest-capacity drives. Random performance is also impressive, with up to 290,000 IOPS (225,000 for the 240GB). Users can reach up to 190,000 random write IOPS.
Kingston backs the KC1000 series with a generous five-year limited warranty with ample endurance figures that reach as high as 1PB for the 960GB drive.
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    The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine Review

    By Tom Senior May 25, 2016


    Have you ever wanted to get drunk with a vampire? The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion gives you that opportunity, and lets you ask all the important questions. What's it like to die and come back? What's it like to live for centuries in a world that mostly wants you dead? How does the bat thing work? The brooding, complicated undead are just one aspect of an excellent add-on that every Witcher fan should play. 


    Though you ostensibly play a monster hunter for hire, Geralt has a habit of getting sucked into local politics. Such is the case in Toussaint, the huge, gorgeous new region added by The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion. You arrive on an invitation from the Duchess, who wants you to slay 'The Beast', a vicious creature that's targeting elite knights in her retinue. A twisting detective story follows as Geralt investigates the murder scenes, and begins to hack his way through a series of interlocking plots that, naturally, come to threaten the entire realm.


    The Witcher 3 is at its best when dealing with small dramas—a haunted house, a local curse, a baron's broken marriage. Blood and Wine's central story weaves a series of local short stories into an escalating threat. The plot has superb pace and variety throughout. Geralt awkwardly picks his way through an artists' soiree, storms a castle or two and has a creepy, memorable encounter with a spotted wight. Vivid characterisation and some great voice work—particularly from Geralt's main ally—sells the world beautifully. 


    The story takes roughly ten hours to finish if you slavishly blast through the missions in order, but sidequests are an essential part of The Witcher 3 experience, and there are many to enjoy in Toussaint. You can seek out grandmaster gear for multiple witcher schools, collect armour dyes, take on a number of monster hunts, join a tourney and compete in Gwent competitions to take on the expansion's new Skellige deck. Pursue these and you'll easily reach the advertised 30 hour play time. 




    Early in the expansion, you get your own vineyard, which can be upgraded—slowly, and at great cost—to give you access to useful adventurer amenities, including a grindstone, an armour bench and an alchemy table. Once you've taken a particular opening quest you can start working towards the expansion's new mutations, which let you put ability points into powerful ability-modifiers. Depending on the one you choose to install, these can cause sign spells to land critical hits, blowing up Igni victims and freezing Aard victims. Other mutations improve Geralt's swordsmanship and make him more resilient.


    The extra combat effects don't revolutionise the combat system, but mutations serve as a productive place to put your points as you move to level 40 and beyond. I found more worth in the new armour sets and the magical bonuses they confer. In a green flash I now absorb enemy life force with every killing blow thanks to a suave set of ancient black gear. I always found The Witcher 3's combat to be passable, with its large enemy health pools, stagger inducing enemy guard stances and sluggish spell switching, but Blood and Wine is the most fun I've had with it. There are some decent boss fights and the extra abilities Geralt has access to at high levels generate more interesting options. When you stagger bandits with Geralt's Aard wind blast, and follow up with his high-level spinning fast attack flurry, limbs literally start to fly. It's the best realisation of Geralt's superhuman style that the series has managed. 


    Of course, if you've made it far enough into the main game to access Blood and Wine, you will already be familiar with the Witcher 3's combat, and the game's other quirks. Horse movement is still an issue. Roach still catches on scenery all the time and he has particular trouble with the narrow wood bridges that span Toussaint's brooks. Blood and Wine adds nothing to core game's suite of storytelling devices, either. Geralt's magic detective vision is still a major crutch, but these investigation sections are well shuffled into quests that use combat, conversation, cut scenes and exploration in measured doses. I'd only ask for a few more important choices across the campaign.




    These devices may be familiar, but Toussaint itself lends this adventure a different flavour. It's a stunning, sun-drenched land of relative opulence. The Duchess' castle, and the azure-and-terracotta town of Beaclair at its foot, are a postcard-perfect centrepiece for the area. As you ride around Toussaint's outskirts, you can almost always see the shining white spires of the palace. The region's outskirts are rich with shimmering foliage, and the area's winding trails reliably offer stunning vistas, cleverly arranged by CD Projekt's environment artists. Yet, where required, the landscape can hide an ancient dungeon or a foggy graveyard, or the site of a bloody massacre. The blood and wine duality runs through both the plot and the design of the zone itself. In The Witcher universe glamourous appearances always come with a catch.


    View it at steam for £17.49


    Frankly if one of these expansions came out every year I'd still be playing The Witcher 3 in 2020. However, this is a fine end. Fantasy RPGs like this offer us the chance to walk through the pages of pulp fantasy fiction, to stand opposite the witches, wizards and wights of those stories. Even if we can't form our own words, or ultimately greatly affect the stories they tell, the semblance is powerful enough. Even in its immutable, heavily cutscene-driven form, The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is an accomplished piece of genre fiction with some characters I'll come to miss. Pour a goblet of the red stuff and join them, you won't be disappointed.

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