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PCPer Live! AMD Radeon Crimson Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 24, 2015 - 09:08 PM |
Tagged: video, radeon software, radeon, live, giveaway, freesync, crimson, contest, amd

UPDATE: Did you miss today's live stream? No worries! You can get the full rundown of the new Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver and get details on new features like FreeSync Low Frame Rate Compensation, DX9 frame pacing, custom resolutions, and more. Check out the video embed below.

It's nearly time for the holidays to begin but that doesn't mean the hardware and software news train comes to a halt! This week we are hosting AMD in the PC Perspective offices for a live stream to discuss the upcoming release of the new AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition. Earlier in the month we showed you a preview of what changes were coming to the AMD GPU driver and now we are going to not only demo it for you but let the community ask AMD questions directly about it!


And what's a live stream without prizes? AMD has stepped up to the plate to offer up some awesome hardware for those of you that tune in to watch the live stream! 

  • 2 x AMD Radeon R9 Nano 4GB Fiji Graphics Cards
  • 2 x PowerColor PCS+ Radeon R9 380 Graphics Cards




AMD Radeon Software Crimson Live Stream and Giveaway

12pm PT / 3pm ET - November 24th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Tuesday, November 24th at 12pm PT / 3pm ET at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

I will be joined by Adrian Costelo, Product Manager for Radeon Software, and Steven Gans, UX Designer for Radeon Software. In short, these are the two people you want to hear from and have answer your questions!

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from AMD?

So join us! Set your calendar for Tuesday at 12pm PT / 3pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Source: PCPer Live!
Manufacturer: AMD

FreeSync and Frame Pacing Get a Boost

Make sure you catch today's live stream we are hosting with AMD to discuss much more about the new Radeon Software Crimson driver. We are giving away four Radeon graphics cards as well!! Find all the information right here.

Earlier this month AMD announced plans to end the life of the Catalyst Control Center application for control of your Radeon GPU, introducing a new brand simply called Radeon Software. The first iteration of this software, Crimson, is being released today and includes some impressive user experience changes that are really worth seeing and, well, experiencing.

Users will no doubt lament the age of the previous Catalyst Control Center; it was slow, clunky and difficult to navigate around. Radeon Software Crimson changes all of this with a new UI, a new backend that allows it to start up almost instantly, as well as a handful of new features that might be a surprise to some of our readers. Here's a quick rundown of what stands out to me:

  • Opens in less than a second in my testing
  • Completely redesigned and modern user interface
  • Faster display initialization
  • New clean install utility (separate download)
  • Per-game Overdrive (overclocking) settings
  • LiquidVR integration
  • FreeSync improvements at low frame rates
  • FreeSync planned for HDMI (though not implemented yet)
  • Frame pacing support in DX9 titles
  • New custom resolution support
  • Desktop-based Virtual Super Resolution
  • Directional scaling for 2K to 4K upscaling (Fiji GPUs only)
  • Shader cache (precompiled) to reduce compiling-induced frame time variance
  • Non-specific DX12 improvements
  • Flip queue size optimizations (frame buffer length) for specific games
  • Wider target range for Frame Rate Target Control


That's quite a list of new features, some of which will be more popular than others, but it looks like there should be something for everyone to love about the new Crimson software package from AMD.

For this story today I wanted to focus on two of the above features that have long been a sticking point for me, and see how well AMD has fixed them with the first release of Radeon Software.

FreeSync: Low Frame Rate Compensation

I might be slightly biased, but I don't think anyone has done a more thorough job of explaining and diving into the differences between AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync than the team at PC Perspective. Since day one of the G-Sync variable refresh release we have been following the changes and capabilities of these competing features and writing about what really separates them from a technological point of view, not just pricing and perceived experiences. 

Continue reading our overview of new features in AMD Radeon Software Crimson!!

Software Development Debate: Design vs Profile

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: software development

This is article is a bit different from what we normally post, so be sure to give your opinion in the comments if you want to see more of this (or not). You will most often find these types of software development rants on a programmer's personal blog, but I find them interesting so here we go.


There are two camps in software development regarding optimization, each with diehard advocates. One side argues for software to be strictly designed, with decisions needing to be coherent and performance-minded. The other viewpoint claims that optimization should be done after profiling, because you could spend weeks making a fairly useless chunk of code purr like a kitten, and ignore the turkey that's using 99.99% of your resources.

Both sides can also point to situations that validate their opinion. The latter, “don't premature optimize” crowd can show examples where time is wasted because the engineer didn't look before they leaped. One such story comes from Chandler Carruth of Google. One of his first tasks at the company was to review code from Ken Thompson, a “very senior engineer” who created Unix and defined UTF-8. It solved rule-matching with about a 20-fold increase in performance over what they were currently using. When Chandler went to integrate the fix, his colleague mentioned “Yeah, turns out our use-case overwhelmingly hits a single rule, so I just check it first. It's now 100x faster.”

The other crowd says that, even if you can find exactly where poop stinks, you're still polishing a turd. One issue that is commonly pointed to is garbage collection. In memory-managed languages, this process scans through your application to delete unused chunks. Its goal is to remove memory leaks without users needing to carefully manage allocation themselves. The problem is that it necessarily freezes basically every thread and often takes several frames worth of time to complete. As such, you can either live with the bad user experience in real-time applications, or you can carefully design your application to avoid leaking memory. If you take the time to design and architect, it allows you to either choose a framework without garbage collection, or sometimes reduce / eliminate how often it triggers.

So the argument is over-thinking wasting time versus under-planning painting software into corners. As it should be somewhat obvious, both are correct. It's a bad idea to blindly charge into development, and it's good to think about the consequences of what you're doing. At the same time, what you think means nothing if it differs from what you measure, so you need to back up your thoughts with experimentation.

The challenge is to coast the middle for the benefits of both, without falling into the traps on either side.

Intel to Ship FPGA-Accelerated Xeons in Early 2016

Subject: Processors | November 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Intel, FPGA

UPDATE (Nov 26th, 3:30pm ET): A few readers have mentioned that FPGAs take much less than hours to reprogram. I even received an email last night that claims FPGAs can be reprogrammed in "well under a second." This differs from the sources I've read when I was reading up on their OpenCL capabilities (for potential evolutions of projects) back in ~2013. That said, multiple sources, including one who claim to have personal experience with FPGAs, say that it's not the case. Also, I've never used an FPGA myself -- again, I was just researching them to see where some GPU-based projects could go.

Designing integrated circuits, as I've said a few times, is basically a game. You have a blank canvas that you can etch complexity into. The amount of “complexity” depends on your fabrication process, how big your chip is, the intended power, and so forth. Performance depends on how you use the complexity to compute actual tasks. If you know something special about your workload, you can optimize your circuit to do more with less. CPUs are designed to do basically anything, while GPUs assume similar tasks can be run together. If you will only ever run a single program, you can even bake some or all of its source code into hardware called an “application-specific integrated circuit” (ASIC), which is often used for video decoding, rasterizing geometry, and so forth.


This is an old Atom back when Intel was partnered with Altera for custom chips.

FPGAs are circuits that can be baked into a specific application, but can also be reprogrammed later. Changing tasks requires a significant amount of time (sometimes hours) but it is easier than reconfiguring an ASIC, which involves removing it from your system, throwing it in the trash, and printing a new one. FPGAs are not quite as efficient as a dedicated ASIC, but it's about as close as you can get without translating the actual source code directly into a circuit.

Intel, after purchasing FPGA manufacturer, Altera, will integrate their technology into Xeons in Q1 2016. This will be useful to offload specific tasks that dominate a server's total workload. According to PC World, they will be integrated as a two-chip package, where both the CPU and FPGA can access the same cache. I'm not sure what form of heterogeneous memory architecture that Intel is using, but this would be a great example of a part that could benefit from in-place acceleration. You could imagine a simple function being baked into the FPGA to, I don't know, process large videos in very specific ways without expensive copies.

Again, this is not a consumer product, and may never be. Reprogramming an FPGA can take hours, and I can't think of too many situations where consumers will trade off hours of time to switch tasks with high performance. Then again, it just takes one person to think of a great application for it to take off.

Source: PCWorld

Blackberry exposes its Privs and the world ... likes it?

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2015 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, Priv, Android

Could it truly be enough to add a little Android to your Blackberry to bring them back to some form of popularity?  From what this contributor at The Register has to say it could very well be what the company once known as RIM needed.  The Priv is described as the least irritating Android phone they've ever used, which translates to high praise when you are talking about a Blackberry device.  The sliding keyboard is actually useful, the BlackBerry DTek security app is decent but requires a Google account to be linked to the phone, as do many other apps.  Check out the review to see if this is a berry flavoured Lollipop you might actually want a few licks at.


"Other than that, none of which really counts, I think this might be my least disliked Android phone so far. It’s at least as good as the best Android phones I have used, because it’s the same as all other Androids, just minus the garbage often layered on top. And it’s better, because the BlackBerry stuff layered on top is very far from being garbage."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Source: The Register

Windows 10 Tool Now Reverted to Build 10240

Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2015 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

UPDATE (Nov 24th, 8pm ET): As I was informed, both on Twitter and in the comments, the update has been restored. Apparently the issue was that this tool, when upgrading Windows 10 to Windows 10 1511, accidentally reset four privacy settings to default. They also happened to be four of the less-severe ones, such as whether to allow apps to run in the background and whether settings should sync between devices. It has apparently been fixed and the tool will install the latest version of Windows 10 once more.

Source: Ars Technica

Regardless of your opinion about Windows 10, I'm glad that Microsoft has once again provided a way to force a specific version on your device. Their recent statement, telling users that Windows Update will give them the correct build eventually, is not comforting if someone is failing to receive the update. Is it coming? Or did it block for some reason? I also wonder if the 30-day policy would still be enforced, making clean installs that much more annoying. Turns out it was all hypothetical, and Microsoft was planning on reinstating it instantly, though.

This is a bit surprising and disappointing. When the November 2015 update for Windows 10 went live, existing users could upgrade with Windows Update (if it let them) and the rest could force an in-place upgrade from Windows 7, 8.x, and earlier builds of Windows 10 using the tool. The latter method has apparently been reverted to the original Windows 10 build from July 2015.


This image is getting a lot more use than I intended.

Why? Who knows. They are still offering the update through Windows Update, and Microsoft claims that they have no intention of pulling it. This concerns me, because there are a few situations where Windows 10 updates will get stuck, such as if you get it through Windows Update then uninstall it. I have not seen any report cover the official procedure for this issue. Also, I wonder if there's a way to get past Microsoft's 30-day no-update policy.

According to WinBeta, Microsoft's official statement contains the following: “Microsoft has not pulled the Windows 10 November 10 update. The company is rolling out the November update over time – if you don’t see it in Windows Update, you will see it soon.” (Emphasis not mine.)

We'll probably hear more about this as the week goes on.

Source: WinBeta

Security Professionals Find eDellRoot Superfishy

Subject: Systems | November 23, 2015 - 09:25 PM |
Tagged: dell, superfish, edellroot

The pun was too tempting, but don't take it too seriously even though it's relatively similar. In short, Dell installs a long-lived, root certificate on their machines with a private key that is now compromised (because they didn't exactly protect it too well). This certificate, and the compromised private key, can be used to sign secure connections without needing to be verified by a Certificate Authority. In other words, it adds a huge level of unwarranted trust to phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks.


Dell has not really made any public comment on this issue yet. I don't really count the tweet from Dell Cares, because customer support is a terrible source for basically any breaking news. It's best to wait until Dell brings out an official statement through typical PR channels before assuming what their position is. Regardless of what they say, of course, your security will be heavily reduced until the certificate and eDell plug-in are removed from your device.

I'm really just wondering if Dell will somehow apologize, or stick to their guns.

Source: Duo Security

Deals of the Day: 960GB SSD for $199, $69 Athlon X4, GTX 970 Price Drop

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2015 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: SanDisk Ultra II, MSI GTX 970 Gaming, GTX 970, 960GB SSD

The internet is full of sales this week, and there are some great PC hardware deals out there beginning with the best price per GB on an SSD we've ever seen.


At $199.99 shipped this 960 GB SanDisk Ultra II SSD is a stunning $0.20/GB, and offers good speeds for a SATA III drive with up to 550 MB/s reads and 500 MB/s writes, along with "n-Cache 2.0" which SanDisk explains is "a large, non-volatile write cache (which) consolidates small writes to boost random write performance".

What better to fill up that huge SSD than a library of games, and if you're in the market for a new graphics card to drive them there are some excellent deals out there. A good mid-range GPU option is the oft-maligned NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, and memory controversy aside it's a very high performer for the money. Lately prices have dropped a bit, and there some great options out there when you factor in rebates.


While you can find some lower-cost GTX 970's out there this is a good deal for one of MSI's overclocked Gaming series cards. And if you're looking for a quad-core processor to help drive a new GPU, how about AMD's ultra-affordable Athlon X4 860k, now under $70!


It's nice to see prices starting to drop on some solid upgrades, and we're currently working on our annual holiday gift guide with more recommendations for a tech-filled holiday season. Stay tuned!

AMD is the new King of Crimson

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 24, 2015 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: radeon software, radeon, low frame rate compensation, freesync, frame pacing, crimson, AMD VISION Engine

In case you thought we missed something in our discussion of the new AMD Crimson software you can check out what some of the other websites thought of the new release.  The Tech Report is a good first stop, they used the Fable Legends DX 12 to test the improvements to frametime which will be of interest to those who do not obsess over DX 9 games and their performance.  They also delve a bit more into the interface so you can see what the new screens will look at as well as learning the path that will take you to a familiar settings screen.  Check out their impressions right here.


"AMD's Radeon Software Crimson Edition is the second in a line of major annual graphics driver updates from the company. Crimson also replaces the Catalyst Control Center software with a faster, more refined utility called Radeon Settings. We dug in to see what Crimson has to offer."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

ASUS Announces New N Series Laptops with Intel Skylake and 4K IPS

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 22, 2015 - 01:30 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, PCIe SSD, notebook, N752, N552, laptop, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 960M, asus, 4k

ASUS has added two new laptops to their N series line up premium, entertainment-focused laptops. The new models offer Intel’s 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 processors and high resolution IPS displays, as well as fast PCIe storage and discrete NVIDIA graphics.


The new models are the 15.6-inch N552 and 17.3-inch N752, and both sizes offer wide-gamut IPS display options up to 3840x2160 with 100% sRGB coverage. The displays are powered by graphics up to a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors power both models, with a generous 16GB of RAM standard. Storage is provided via PCIe x4 storage with speeds of 1500 MB/s with capacities up to 512 MB, and external connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.


While boasting powerful specs these N-series laptops are also geared toward entertainment, with ASUS drawing attention to the sound from their “SonicMaster” audio system, which boasts powerful B&O ICEpower class-D amplification for the laptop’s front-facing speakers. Other features include backlit keys which offer 1.8 mm travel, and aluminum covering the keyboard area and lid.

The new models haven’t shown up on the U.S. product pages just yet, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

Source: TechPowerUp

What the hell Dell?

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2015 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: dell, superfish, security, edellroot

As Scott mentioned yesterday, Dell refused to learn from Lenovo's lesson and repeated the exact same mistake with eDellRoot, a self-signed root CA cert with an unknown purpose.  Unlike SuperFish which was to allow targeted ads to be displayed eDellRoot serves an unclear purpose apart from a mention of Microsoft-like "easier customer support" but it exposes you to the exact same security risks as SuperFish does.  You could remove the cert manually, however as it resides in Dell.Foundation.Agent.Plugins.eDell.dll it will return on next boot and can return on fresh Windows installs via Dell driver updates, something which will be of great concern to their business customers.

Dell has finally responded to the issue, "The recent situation raised is related to an on-the-box support certificate intended to provide a better, faster and easier customer support experience. Unfortunately, the certificate introduced an unintended security vulnerability." and provided a process to remove the certificate from the machine permanently in this Word Document.  You can check for the presence of the cert on your machine in those two links. 

However the best was yet to come as researchers have found a second cert as well as an expired Atheros Authenticode cert for BlueTooth and private key on a limited amount of new Dell computers as well.  As Dell made no mention of these additional certificates in their statement to the press it is hard to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The Bluetooth cert will not make you vulnerable to a man in the middle attack however the second cert is as dangerous as eDellRoot and can be used to snoop on encrypted communications.  The second cert was found on a SCADA machine which is, as they say, a bad thing. 

We await Dell's response to the second discovery as well as further research to determine how widespread the new certs actually are.  So far Dell XPS 15 laptops, M4800 workstations, and Inspiron desktops and laptops have been found to contain these security issues.  The chances of you falling victim to a man in the middle attack thanks to these security vulnerabilities are slim but not zero so be aware of them and keep your eyes out for them on your systems.  With Lenovo and Dell both being caught, it will be interesting to see if HP and other large vendors will learn this lesson or if it will take a third company being caught exposing their customers to unnecessary risks.


"A second root certificate and private key, similar to eDellRoot along with an expired Atheros Authenticode cert and private key used to sign Bluetooth drivers has been found on a Dell Inspiron laptop. The impact of these two certs is limited compared to the original eDellRoot cert."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

There's data in dem der lightbulbs; moves really fast too!

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2015 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: wireless, li-fi, 1GBps

Li-Fi is a new experimental wireless data transmission technology which sends data using the same lights that illuminate the space you are in, at such frequencies and intensities that your brain does not process any change in lighting which your eyes might capture.  It transmits at an incredible speed, under perfect conditions in the the lab they saw 224GBps and recently have successfully transmitted at 1GBps in the field.  Yes, that is 1GB per second of data transfer, light travels rather quickly after all.  There are limits on where this technology can be used, in large spaces signals from different lights could interfere with each other and if you are outside then you will not be able to benefit but for offices and the home this could be rather impressive to behold.  Read more about the researchers and how these lightbulbs could be tied into existing lighting at The Inquirer.


"BOFFINS HAVE field tested Li-Fi for the first time, achieving wireless speeds 100 times faster than WiFi."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Inquirer

AMD GPU Architectures pre-GCN Are Now Legacy

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 26, 2015 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, GCN, terascale

The Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture is now a minimum requirement for upcoming AMD graphics drivers. If your graphics card (or APU) uses the TeraScale family of microarchitectures, then your last expected WHQL driver is AMD Catalyst 15.7.1 for Windows 7, 8.x, and 10. You aren't entirely left out of Radeon Software Crimson Edition, however. The latest Crimson Edition Beta driver is compatible with TeraScale, but the upcoming certified one will not be.


GCN was introduced with the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series, although it was only used in the Radeon HD 7700 series GPUs and above. The language doesn't seem to rule out an emergency driver release, such as if Microsoft breaks something in a Windows 10 update that causes bluescreens and fire on older hardware, but they also don't say that they will either. NVIDIA made a similar decision to deprecate pre-Fermi architectures back in March of 2014, which applied to the release of GeForce 343 Drivers in September of that year. Extended support for NVIDIA's old cards end on April 1st, 2016.

I wonder why AMD chose a beta driver to stop with, though. If AMD intended to support TeraScale with Crimson, then why wouldn't they keep it supported until at the first WHQL-certified version? If they didn't intend to support TeraScale, then why go through the effort of supporting it with the beta driver? This implies that AMD reached a hurdle with TeraScale that they didn't want to overcome. That may not be the case, but it's the first thing that comes to my mind none-the-less. Probably the best way to tell is to see how people with Radeon HD 6000-series (or lower-end 7000/8000-series) cards work with Radeon Software Crimson Beta.

Likely the last drivers that users with Radeon HD 6000-series graphics need are 15.7.1 or Radeon Software Crimson Edition Beta. We will soon learn which of the two will be best long-term.

Or, of course, you can buy a newer GPU / APU when you get a chance.

Source: AMD

Even more keyboards, check out Thermaltake's Poseidon Z RGB

Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2015 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: poseidon Z RGB, thermaltake, mechanical keyboard, input

The keyboard market has changed drastically over the past year with the introduction of mainstream mechanical keys and improved LED backlighting features.  Where once the market was not that competitive and only a few major players were offering products we now have a wide variety of brands to choose from.  This makes it hard to stand out in the market without adding extra features to your keyboards, which leads us to the Thermaltake Poseidon RGB.  This particular keyboard has an integrated 32-bit processor which allows you to choose between 16.8 million colors for each key.  The keys use Kailh Brown RGB switches, a less expensive clone of the Cherry MX Brown switches more commonly found on these types of boards.  Find out if they are good enough over at Benchmark Reviews.


"Just a few months ago, full RGB mechanical keyboards were rare beasts, and the inclusion of full per-key RGB lighting commanded a very high price, with some keyboards selling for almost $200.00. Now, prices are coming down rapidly and vendors are starting to compete on features, but how many more features are there left to add?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Should you fear SilverPush?

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2015 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: security, silverpush, fud

SilverPush has been around for a while but was recently reverse-engineered so that it could be investigated by anyone with an interest in their phones security.  It is software that is often bundled in advertisements or streamed media that takes advantage of your phones the far greater range of audio sensitivity and the fact that you can communicate information via audio signals.  This could allow an app to communicate with your phone without your knowledge, to collect data from your phone or even to provide contextual ads on your phone.

However as you can see from the list of apps which The Register links to, there is not much likelihood that you have an app which has SilverPush enabled installed on your phone and that is the real key.  If you do not have an app which is listening for audio signals on those frequencies then you will not suffer the effects of SilverPush.  The moral of the story is that your phones security starts with you, if you download random free apps and allow them full access to your phone then you should not be surprised by this sort of thing.


"SilverPush's software kit can be baked into apps, and is designed to pick up near-ultrasonic sounds embedded in, say, a TV, radio or web browser advert. These signals, in the range of 18kHz to 19.95kHz, are too high pitched for most humans to hear, but can be decoded by software."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Enermax updates its AIO coolers with the Liqmax II 120s

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 23, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: AIO, enermax, liquimax II 120s, watercooling

Enermax's Liqmax II 120s is a relatively small AIO watercooler, the radiator is 154x120x27 mm (6.1x0.8x1.0") and will fit on any modern motherboard, Intel or AMD.  The two 120mm fans which come with the cooler are high static pressure fans with the moniker Batwing and have a physical screw on them which allows you to tune the fan speed manually.  Modders Inc were impressed with this cooler, it performed relatively well and quite quietly and the fact thatit sells for $75 doesn't hurt either. 


"When it comes to a new build I always keep cooling in mind. Not every rig I build has custom water reservoirs, custom piping or fancy radiators. Sometimes I just need a machine to work without spending an enormous amount of cash on custom parts. I find that All in One (AIO) cooling systems are easy to install, work well …"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Modders Inc

BitFenix Announces Pandora ATX Mid-Tower Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 23, 2015 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: pandora atx, Mid-Tower Case, enclosure, case, bitfenix pandora, bitfenix, atx case

BitFenix has released a larger follow up to the Pandora enclosure, previously a slim Micro-ATX tower. The new full ATX sized Pandora offers the same styling and optional customizable screen as the previous version, and now offers support for up to 360 mm radiators.


“The Pandora ATX offers the same much-loved unique styling as the original Pandora - but with housing capabilities for full-sized hardware and a 360mm radiator, either in the top or the front. Conceived as a versatile base for DIY projects, it is designed to show off your hardware in a tasteful manner through its large side window. The front panel is like no other, with the wrap-around side panels covering parts of it, leaving only a sober glossy black front panel housing the programmable 2.8" ICON color display visible through it. The ICON is a story in itself, allowing you to add any logo or picture you wish, for maximum personalization.”

I was impressed with the original Pandora when I reviewed it at the end of last year, but there were certainly concessions to size (beginning with the restriction to mATX or mITX motherboards) including limited cooler and taller GPU support. This was in fact a very narrow tower previously. With the new Pandora ATX you can have the same style including an optional LCD with ICON software that allows drag-and-drop customization with your own image. And while some might think ICON is a gimmick, and it arguably is, this is still a solid-looking enclosure.


So what exactly does this new Pandora ATX support? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

  • Highlights:
    • 2.8" BitFenix ICON Display
    • One-piece PSU cover and MB tray
    • Top, Front and Bottom Dust Filters
    • 360mm Radiator Support
    • 20mm Cable Clearance
    • Graphics Card Length up to 440mm
  • Materials: Steel, ABS
  • Colors (Interior/Exterior): Black/Black
  • Supported Motherboards: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX
  • LCD: 2.8" TFT, 240 x 320 (Pandora ATX only)
  • I/O: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 2x 3.5mm Audio (Line Out, Mic-in)
  • 3.5” Drive Bays: x4, x3 (Pandora ATX Core)
  • 2.5” Drive Bays: x4, 2x (Pandora ATX Core)
  • Front Cooling: 1x 140mm (Included, Pandora ATX only), Max 3x 120mm OR 2x 140mm (Not Included)
  • Rear Cooling: 1x 120mm FDB Fan (Included)
  • Top Cooling: Max 3x 120mm OR 2x 140mm (Not Included)
  • Expansion Slots: x7
  • Power Supply: ATX & EPS, up to 220mm length
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 203 x 510 x 558 mm
  • Weight: 9.92 kg (net), 11.4 kg (gross)

It seems that the only thing we don’t know about this new enclosure is pricing and availability, which have not yet been released.

Source: BitFenix

ASUS updates the TUF line of motherboards with the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1

Subject: Motherboards | November 20, 2015 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: asus, TUF SABERTOOTH Z170, LGA 1151

It has been a while since we saw a new Sabertooth motherboard from the other side of ASUS, The Ultimate Force, up for review but [H]ard|OCP has remedied that with the new Z170 member of this line of products.  It bears the same Thermal Armour design as previous models, adding a small fan that doesn't quite fit in with the overall design of the motherboard.  As well you will notice an absence of a visible CMOS battery, it is indeed buried under the armour.  [H]ard|OCP were less than impressed with the memory subsystem, the board is rated for DDR4 2400MHz DIMMs maximum and no higher.  On the other hand the incredible stability of this board and the amount of features available on this relatively inexpensive Z170 board did garner a Gold Award.  Read the full review to understand the benefits and drawbacks of this motherboard.


"In our opinion ASUS’ TUF series motherboards target the sweet spot in regard to features, price, and performance. TUF motherboards give you more features than most mid-range motherboards but lack certain features found on the high end. The Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 is the flagship part of the current TUF series."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Bringing mods to the post-nuclear wastelands of Massachusetts

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2015 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: fallout 4, mod, gaming

The modders over at the Nexus community are already hard at work creating mods for Fallout 4 and Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have compiled a list of the best ones currently out there.  After a quick tutorial on how to apply mods they jump into the list and of them all the first one may be the most useful as it allows you to tweak your display resolution, mouse sensitivity, field of view and the many other settings you might have expect to be changeable in the game itself.  From there they move onto improved lighting, longer death cam viewing, a higher settlement budget and even dialogue expansion.  Check out what is there or head over to Nexus Mods to see what others catch your interest.


"While official mod support for Fallout 4 [official site] hasn’t arrived just yet, Nexus Mods have opened their proverbial gates. Their community is fast at work creating handy customisations and helpful leg-ups to see you right as you dive head first into the irradiated unknown."

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Giving the R9 Nano some breathing space

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 25, 2015 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, mini ITX, amd, obsidian 250d, corsair

When Ryan tested out how the R9 Nano performs in tiny cases he chose the Cooler Master Elite 110, the Raijintek Metis, the Lian Li PC-Q33BL and their PC-Q30X.  The card did slow down somewhat because of a lack of airflow in the case but that was quickly remedied with a drill press and we saw vast improvements in the in-game frequencies.  [H]ard|OCP performed a similar experiment with the Cooler Master Elite 110 as well and found similar results.

They are now back at it again, this time testing in a Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX case, which is large enough to accommodate a full sized GPU and provide improved airflow.  They tested the Nano against a GTX 980 Ti and a R9 Fury X as they cost a similar amount to the tiny little Nano.  They tested the cards at both 1440p and 4K resolutions and as you might reasonably expect the Nano fell behind, especially at 4K.  If you have a case which can fit a full sized GPU then the Nano does not make sense to purchase, however in cases in which the larger cards will not fit then the Nano's performance is unmatched.


"Our second installment covering our AMD Radeon R9 Nano in a Small Form Factor chassis is finally done. We will upgrade the case to a Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX PC Case and compare the R9 Nano to price competitive video cards that can be installed. We game at 1440p and 4K for the ultimate small form factor experience."

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Graphics Cards


Source: [H]ard|OCP