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Two new SDKs aimed at VR performance join NVIDIA's GameWorks

Subject: General Tech | November 19, 2015 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: gameworks vr, designworks vr, virtual reality, NVIDA, sdk

There is something about this phrase which describes a feature of NVIDIA's newly announced VR SLI that excites the kid in me "multiple GPUs can be assigned a specific eye to dramatically accelerate stereo rendering".  Maybe you can't afford two GPUs per eye but the fact that it would work if you could manage it is rather impressive.  NVIDIA has announced new SDKs specifically aimed at VR design and performance, GameWorks VR and DesignWorks VR.  Epic has announced that Unreal Engine 4.3 will support these new tools and you can grab them from NVIDIA's developer website right now if you so desire.  You can read more about specific features and optimizations these SDKs will provide at this article on The Inquirer.


"The company said at the release of version 1.0 of GameWorks VR and DesignWorks VR that the SDKs will solve the power-guzzling problems associated with complex, immersive VR graphics processing."

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Source: The Inquirer

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

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

Rdio Slowly Shutting Down Starting November 23rd

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2015 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: rdio

I say slowly shutting down because the service will remain active for a little while, letting users finish their subscriptions or use the free option. As of now, the only announced date is that Rdio will no longer renew subscriptions (or accept new paying customers) on November 23rd.


The company recently filed for bankruptcy, after trying to raise more capital and find other ways to keep the business running. Pandora will pay $75 million for the remnants of the service, although that could change if a better offer surfaces or an issue arises in bankruptcy protection. The press release states that “many members of the Rdio team will continue to shape the future of streaming music, applying our tradition of great design and innovative engineering on an even larger stage with Pandora.” It further states “Pandora is not acquiring the operating business of Rdio,” but rather just “the technology and talent.”

Rdio has not given a date that their service will end. This news is disappointing for me, because Rdio was the first music streaming service in Canada, at least that I found out about, which led me to choose it.

Source: Rdio

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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Source: [H]ard|OCP