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It's a good time to be slinging lithium

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2016 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: lithium ion, battery

The price of lithium ion batteries is likely to spike in the near future as demand is far outstripping production.  While we are using them in ultramobile laptops, there is another quickly growing industry which consumes these same cylindrical lithium polymer based batteries, the electric car industry.  The demand has grown enough that suppliers are about to demand a noticeable raise in prices and as there does not seem to be any production increase they are likely to get it.  This will result in a small increase in price in ultraportables and a larger one in electric cars.  There is a concern that DigiTimes did not raise in their post; that this level of imbalance in supply and demand can lead to knock-offs and lower quality suppliers being considered as a source simply to ensure that a product is available. 

That could be somewhat of a concern; these batteries often hold a larger charge and are usually found in greater numbers than the ones currently in the news.

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"In addition to the 18650 cylinder battery, the lithium polymer battery, which is commonly used in ultra-thin notebook models, is also suffering from shortages as many vendors including Apple, Acer and Asustek Computer, have all scheduled to released new ultra-thin notebooks models in the near future."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Pimax offers a $300 VR headset to compete with Rift and Vive

Subject: Displays | September 27, 2016 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: pimax, vr headset, steam vr

 As Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN asks in the title, can the $300 Pimax VR headset be too good to be true?  It ships without headphones, or you can buy the $350 which includes audio of moderate quality or provide your own if they fit comfortably under the headset.  It also does not ship with any controllers, which means that Steam games which require anything other than a mouse and keyboard will simply not work; not an empty catalogue of games but definitely more limited than the two more expensive competitors.

The headset does offer better resolution, 1920x2160 per eye, which the reviewer noticed immediately as being clearer than the competition ... as long as you were looking directly at the text or object.  There were issues at the edges of your view however, as well as with quickly turning your head which is likely due to the 60fps refresh rate.  This is less than the 90fps the Vive or Rift can manage as well as creating concerns about reprojection and dropped frames.  There were a few other concerns mentioned in the review which you should familiarize yourself with, but the Pimax is very interesting, a light VR headset with great resolution and only two connecting cord for $300.

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"In the interim, here’s Chinese outfit Pimax, who are selling what they label as the first 4K VR headset for PC, which works with SteamVR. It’s also $350 (or $300 without headphones), compared to the Rift’s $599 and Vive’s $799"

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

China's Newly Completed FAST Now World's Largest Radio Telescope

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: seti, science, radio telescope

The Chinese officially began searching the stars around noon local time on Sunday using the newly completed FAST radio telescope which has surpassed Arecibo in being the world's largest single aperture telescope. Nestled in the natural Dawodang (limestone) depression in the remote and mountainous Pingtang county, Guizhou province, the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will search the heavens to catalog pulsars, investigate dark matter, gravitational waves, and fast radio bursts, and assist in the search for extraterrestrial life and natural hydrogen in distant galaxies.

The $180 million project has been in development for 14 years with construction beginning in 2011. The massive scientific endeavor required the relocation of several villages and 10,000 people living in the vicinity. Further, the remote area required the telescope to be constructed without the use of heavy machinery and the dish had to be constructed manually. FAST is modeled after the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico and uses 4,450 triangular reflector panels supported by a steel mesh suspended over the limestone valley using large steel towers anchored to the surrounding hills. FAST deviates from Arecibo when it comes to reflecting and receiving radio signals, however. While Arecibo uses a 900 ton movable receiver with a complex set of mirrors that make up a sub reflector, FAST uses 2,250 actuators (winches) that pull on up to 300m sections of the dish to create a parabola that can move in real time to track signals as the Earth rotates and reflect them back to the receiver which is reportedly much lighter and can contain more instruments than Arecibo.

While Arecibo, with its 305 meter dish, can track signals up to 20° from the zenith, FAST can track signals up to 26° from the zenith at 300 meter parabola sizes and up to 40° with smaller parabola sizes making it rather versatile. The massive dish combines the benefits of a large single fixed dish and a smaller dish (or dishes which could be combined to provide higher resolution using interferometry) that can tilt and rotate.

Specifically, Dennis Normile quoted experts in saying:

Single dishes excel at observing point sources like neutron stars and at scanning a multitude of frequencies in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, says astronomer Li Di, a FAST project scientist, who previously worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Another advantage is that, compared with the multiple dishes in an array, single dishes are “relatively cheap and relatively straightforward to upgrade,” says George Hobbs, an astronomer at CSIRO. “You just keep building better receivers.” (Dennis Normile at Science Magazine)

FAST is quite the accomplishment and I am interested to see what the scientists are able to discover using the world's largest radio telescope. Hopefully it will continue to receive adequate funding!

Also read:

The toasters are revolting!

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2016 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: iot, security, upnp

Over the weekend you might have noticed some issues on your favourite interwebs as there was a rather impressively sized DDOS attack going on.  The attack was a mix of old and new techniques; they leveraged the uPNP protocol which has always been a favourite vector but the equipment hijacked were IoT appliances.  The processing power available in toasters, DVRs and even webcams is now sufficient to be utilized and is generally a damned sight easier to control than even an old unpatched XP machine.  This does not spell the end of the world which will likely be predicted on the cable news networks but does further illustrate the danger in companies producing inherently insecure IoT devices.  If you are not sure what uPNP is, or are aware but do not currently need it, consider disabling it on your router or think about setting up something along the lines of ye olde three router solution

Hack a Day has links to a bit more information on what happened here.

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"Brace yourselves. The rest of the media is going to be calling this an “IoT DDOS” and the hype will spin out of control. Hype aside, the facts on the ground make it look like an extremely large distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS) was just carried out using mostly household appliances (145,607 of them!) rather than grandma’s old Win XP system running on Pentiums."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

You can't keep an X99 down, the Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI rises

Subject: Motherboards | September 23, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, Phoenix SLI

The Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI certainly sports some unique colours though the design of the board is similar to other G1 Gaming boards.  It sports a rare U.2 port and an M.2 port which [H]ard|OCP describes as being specifically for a wireless NIC.  There are four PCIe 16x 3.0 slots and thanks to the X99 chipset it can run all four at 8x speeds simultaneously.  Along with a variety of other features the board including USB 3.1 is the Ambient Surround LED feature, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Pop over and take a peek.

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"GIGABYTE’s X99 Phoenix SLI is another entry into the G1 Gaming lineup. While there is little to nothing that’s truly unique about the feature set, the combination of features and unique aesthetics are hard to argue with. The X99 Phoenix SLI offers good features and stellar looks at a reasonable price point."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

In Win Launches E-ATX Compatible 509 Full Tower

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 25, 2016 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: In Win 509, in win, full tower, E-ATX Case

In Win recently took the wraps off of a high end mid full tower case called the 509. The new full tower is constructed from SECC steel and uses edge-to-edge tempered glass on the front and side panels. It measures 527mm x 235mm x 578mm (HxWxD) (which is approximately 20.78” x 9.25” x 22.75”) and comes in black with either dark gray or ROG-certified red accents. The case is available now at various retailers (such as Newegg) for a cool $184.99 plus shipping.

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On the outside, the In Win 509 sticks to the basics with simple lines. There are vents along the edges of the front panel and hexagonal honeycomb vents on the right side panel for ventilation in addition to vents along the bottom and rear panels. There are no top exhaust vents on this case which helps maintain the clean look. The left side panel is an edge-to-edge piece of tinted tempered glass that can be removed with four thumb screws. A magnetic system might have been a better looking choice but the screws are likely more secure and help against vibration noise.

Further, the front panel hosts a single right-aligned 5.25” bay, the front I/O (four USB 3.0 and two audio), and a large tempered glass panel. There is an LED-lit In Win logo that can be seen through the glass panel. The LED will light up red by default but if you have an RGB LED controller or RGB LED header on your motherboard you can customize the color.

Cooling is a bit less traditional on the In Win 509 and interestingly there are no included fans with the case. Users can install fans in the following positions:

  • 3 x 120mm in the front
  • 1 x 140mm on the rear panel
  • 2 x 140mm or 3 x 120mm on the bottom (including the PSU fan).

There is a large removable filter in the bottom (much to Ryan’s dismay), and users can alternatively install 360mm water cooling radiators in the side, front, or middle of the case depending on whether or not they need all the drive cages installed.

Internally, the In Win 509 supports bottom mounted power supplies with grommeted cable routing holes, E-ATX motherboards, CPU towers up to 188mm high, and graphics cards up to 370mm in length. The case offers eight PCI slots and brackets to help secure large and heavy GPUs. On the storage front, the case supports five 3.5” drives (three on bottom and two on top) as well as four 2.5” vertical bays that users can choose to install either SSDs or 120mm fans.

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In all it looks like a well-built case and seems to be backed up by reviews. According to Bit-Tech, the In Win 509 is easy to work in and has excellent water cooling support; however, the lack of fans does hurt its out of the box cooling performance. It is available now with a three year warranty.

Source: In Win

Even more VR gaming; this time it is Sword Master VR

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2016 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: VR, sword master vr, htc vive, gaming

With the amount of VR benchmarks coming out of [H]ard|OCP lately we wonder if they are in danger of becoming the worlds first VR addicts.  They tested the usual suite of two AMD cards and five NVIDIA to determine the amount of dropped frames and average render times in this particular game.  As it turns out the game is harder on the player than it is the GPU, all were able to provide decent experiences when swashbuckling.  The developer recommends you clear a 2x1.5m area to play this game and from what [H]ard|OCP experienced while playing this is no joke; you will get exercise while you are duelling some of the harder opponents.

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"Do you want to fight the Black Knight in a sword fight? There is not exactly a "Black Knight" in Sword Master VR, but you can certainly get that feeling. In fact, you can fight him and a couple of his friends at the same time if you are up to the challenge. Just pull the sword from the stone for $10."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Be Quiet! Shows Off New Silent Loop AIO Liquid Coolers

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 29, 2016 - 12:38 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooler, Intel, copper radiator, be quiet!, amd, AIO

Be Quiet!, a popular German manufacturer of PC cases and power supplies is jumping into the liquid cooling game with the introduction of its new Silent Loop all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers. Through a partnership with Alphacool, Be Quiet! Is launching three new coolers with 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm radiators. It is not clear exactly when they will be arriving stateside but pricing is approximately $124, $143, and $170 respectively.

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The Silent Loop 280 AIO liquid CPU cooler.

The new coolers come clad in all black and feature a new pump design paired with copper cold plates and copper radiators. This is nice to see in the wake of aluminum radiators because using the same metals throughout the loop mitigates the risk of galvanic corrosion that will eventually occur in loops that use mixed metals.

The decoupled reverse flow pump courtesy OEM partner Alphacool.The AIO loop is paired with two Silent Wings 2 fans which use rifle bearings and can spin up to 2,000 RPM. To further set the Silent Loop series apart, Be Quiet! uses a nickel plated CPU cold plate, a radiator with a fill port to allow users to top up the fluids over time, and a reportedly innovative (read: not infringing on Asetek IP) "decoupled reverse flow pump" that spins at 2,200 RPM and allegedly reduces noise to nearly inaudible levels. The pump pulls water into the block and over the cold plate and then pulls it through the pump which is in a sectioned off area of the block.

As for the copper radiators, Be Quiet is using 30mm radiators on the Silent Looop 240 and Silent Loop 280 coolers with two fans side by side and a thicker 45mm radiator on the Silent Loop 120 with two fans in a push-pull configuration. Be Quiet! claims that the 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm coolers can handle wattages of 270W, 350W, and 400W respectively (these numbers are likely with the fans cranked to their maximum speeds heh). The included fans can be controlled via PWM and Be Quiet! includes a Y splitter that allows users to attach both fans to one PWM motherboard header – which is good since the CPU_Fan header is sometimes the only "true" PWM header offered.

The liquid coolers use Philips screws throughout for mounting the radiator, fans, and CPU mount and they are compatible with all the usual Intel and AMD sockets.

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Several sites already have reviews of the new coolers including Kit Guru and Guru3D. According to Leo Waldock from Kit Guru, the Be Quiet! Silent Loop 240 is a "funky and nice piece of hardware" and while it did not blow him away it is competitively priced and performs very closely to the Corsair H100i V2. Out of the box the cooler was reportedly inaudible but with lackluster cooling performance; however, once the fans were cranked up from their normal 1,100 RPM to 1,400 RPM cooling performance greatly improved without sound getting too out of control.

In all it looks good aesthetically and appears to be easy to install. If you are in the market for an AIO and do not need fancy extras (LEDs, monitoring software, ect), the Silent Loop coolers might be worth looking into. Hopefully we can get one in for review so that Sebastian or Morry can take it apart... I mean test it! (heh).

Source: be quiet!

More VR testing, Trickster VR on the Vive

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 27, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: VR, trickster vr, amd, nvidia, htc vive

[H]ard|OCP continues their look into the performance of VR games on NVIDIA's Titan X, GTX 1080, 1070, 1060 and 970 as well as AMD's Fury X and RX 480.  This particular title allowed AMD to shine, they saw the RX 480 come within a hair of matching the GTX 1060 which is a first for them and shows that AMD can be a contender in the VR market.  Pop by to see their review in full.

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"Arm yourself with a bow and arrows, a magic sword that flies, or if you prefer, a handful of throwing darts. Then get ready to take on the procedurally generated fantasy world full of cartoonish Orcs, and more Orcs, and some other Orcs. Headshots count as well as chaining your shots so aim is critical. Did I mention the Orcs?"

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #419 - ASUS Rampage V Edition 10, VerticalMouse, AMD A12-9800 and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2016 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: video, toshiba, Silverstone, S340, rampage v edition 10, podcast, ocz, nzxt, gtx 1070, fsp, Evoluent, evga, asus, AOC, amd, A12-9800

PC Perspective Podcast #419 - 09/29/16

Join us this week as we discuss the Edition 10 of the Rampage V motherboard, a VerticalMouse, a shiny SilverStone case, the AMD A12-9800 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:05:25

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro