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Crucial Expands MX300 SATA SSD Lineup, Adds 1TB, 525GB, 275GB M.2 2280

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2016 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: MX300, micron, M.2, crucial, 525GB, 275GB, 1TB

We reviewed the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD a few months back. It was a good drive that tested well, and thanks to its IMFT 3D NAND, it came in at a very competitive price point. Today Crucial has rearranged that lineup a bit:

mx300-full-ssd-intro-image.png

The following capacities are being added to the MX300 lineup:

  • 1TB      $260 ($0.26/GB)
  • 525GB $130 ($0.25/GB)
  • 275GB  $70  ($0.25/GB)
  • 275GB * M.2 2280

The new capacities will be what is sold moving forward (starting 'late August'), with the 750GB model shifting to 'Limited Edition' status. That $0.25/GB carrying all the way down to the lowest capacity is significant, as typically we see higher cost/GB due to controller/PCB/packaging have more impact. Without that coming into play, we get a nearly 300GB SSD coming in at $70!

Specs and expected performance remain the same across all capacities, save a dip in random read performance on the 275GB models, mainly due to the reduced die count / parallelism. We'll take a look at these new capacities just as soon as samples arrive.

Full press blast appears after the break.

Source: Crucial

SIGGRAPH 2016: NVIDIA Takes Over mental ray for Maya

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, mental ray, maya, 3D rendering

NVIDIA purchased Mental Images, the German software developer that makes the mental ray renderer, all the way back in 2007. It has been bundled with every copy of Maya for a very long time now. In fact, my license of Maya 8, which I purchased back in like, 2006, came with mental ray in both plug-in format, and stand-alone.

nvidia-2016-mentalray-benchmark.png

Interestingly, even though nearly a decade has passed since NVIDIA's acquisition, Autodesk has been the middle-person that end-users dealt with. This will end soon, as NVIDIA announced, at SIGGRAPH, that they will “be serving end users directly” with their mental ray for Maya plug-in. The new plug-in will show results directly in the viewport, starting at low quality and increasing until the view changes. They are obviously not the first company to do this, with Cycles in Blender being a good example, but I would expect that it is a welcome feature for users.

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Benchmark results are by NVIDIA

At the same time, they are also announcing GI-Next. This will speed up global illumination in mental ray, and it will also reduce the number of options required to tune the results to just a single quality slider, making it easier for artists to pick up. One of their benchmarks shows a 26-fold increase in performance, although most of that can be attributed to GPU acceleration from a pair of GM200 Quadro cards. CPU-only tests of the same scene show a 4x increase, though, which is still pretty good.

The new version of mental ray for Maya is expected to ship in September, although it has been in an open beta (for existing Maya users) since February. They do say that “pricing and policies will be announced closer to availability” though, so we'll need to see, then, how different the licensing structure will be. Currently, Maya ships with a few licenses of mental ray out of the box, and has for quite some time.

Source: NVIDIA

ASRock Releases H110M-STX Mini-STX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock

The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.

H110M-STX(L1).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

Specifications from ASRock:

  • Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
  • Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
  • Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • ALC283 Audio Codec
  • 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
  • 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)

Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.

H110M-STX(L2).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.

H110M-STX(L4).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.

Source: ASRock
Manufacturer: XSPC

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of XSPC

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Courtesy of XSPC

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Courtesy of XSPC

XSPC is a well established name in the enthusiast cooling market, offering a wide range of custom cooling components and kits. Their newest CPU waterblock, the Raystorm Pro, offers a new look and optimized design in comparison to their last generation Raystorm CPU waterblock. The block features an all copper design with a dual metal / acrylic hold down plate for illumination around the outside edge of the block. The Raystorm Pro is compatible with all current CPU sockets with the currect mounting kit.

Continue reading our review of the XSPC Raystorm Pro CPU waterblock!

Podcast #410 - Data Recovery, New Titan X Launch, AMD builds a GPU with SSDs and more!!

Subject: Editorial | July 28, 2016 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: XSPC, wings, windows 10, VR, video, titan x, tegra, Silverstone, sapphire, rx 480, Raystorm, RapidSpar, radeon pro ssg, quadro, px1, podcast, p6000, p5000, nvidia, nintendo nx, MX300, gp102, evga, dg-87, crucial, angelbird

PC Perspective Podcast #410 - 07/28/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the new Pascal based Titan X, an AMD graphics card with 1TB of SSD storage on-board, data recovery with RapidSpar 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, Sebastian Peak, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:46:33
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. 1:29:15 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Wii emulation is absolutely usable now (Dolphin 5)
  4. Closing/outro

Checking out the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 25, 2016 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 1070, Gaming Z, Twin Frozr VI, factory overclocked

The Tech Report had a chance to see what the MSI Twin Frozr VI cooler can do to a GTX 1070, they have just wrapped up a review of the Gaming Z edition of that NVIDIA card.  It comes with a respectable frequency bump when you enable OC mode, 1657 MHz base and 1860 MHz boost.  When they tested it under load the GPU stayed below 70C so there should be room to push the card further.  Check out the full benchmark suite in their full review.

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"Nvidia's second Pascal graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1070, aims to set a new bar for graphics performance in the $379-and-up price range. We put MSI's GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z card through the wringer to see how a more affordable Pascal card performs."

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

Graphics Cards

Intel Will Release 14nm Coffee Lake To Succeed Kaby Lake In 2018

Subject: Processors | July 28, 2016 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, Intel, gt3e, coffee lake, 14nm

Intel will allegedly be releasing another 14nm processor following Kaby Lake (which is itself a 14nm successor to Skylake) in 2018. The new processors are code named "Coffee Lake" and will be released alongside low power runs of 10nm Cannon Lake chips. 

Intel Coffe Lake to Coexist With Cannon Lake.jpg

Not much information is known about Coffee Lake outside of leaked slides and rumors, but the first processors slated to launch in 2018 will be mainstream mobile chips that will come in U and HQ mobile flavors which are 15W to 28W and 35W to 45W TDP chips respectively. Of course, these processors will be built on a very mature 14nm process with the usual small performance and efficiency gains beyond Skylake and Kaby Lake. The chips should have a better graphics unit, but perhaps more interesting is that the slides suggest that Coffee Lake will be the first architecture where Intel will bring "hexacore" (6 core) processors into mainstream consumer chips! The HQ-class Coffee Lake processors will reportedly come in two, four, and six core variants with Intel GT3e class GPUs. Meanwhile the lower power U-class chips top out at dual cores with GT3e class graphics. This is interesting because Intel has previous held back the six core CPUs for its more expensive and higher margin HEDT and Xeon platforms.

Of course 2018 is also the year for Cannon Lake which would have been the "tock" in Intel's old tick-tock schedule (which is no more) as the chips will move to a smaller process node and then Intel would improve on the 10nm process from there in future architectures. Cannon Lake is supposed to be built on the tiny 10nm node, and it appears that the first chips on this node will be ultra low power versions for laptops and tablets. Occupying the ULV platform's U-class (15W) and Y-class (4.5W), Cannon Lake CPUs will be dual cores with GT2 graphics. These chips should sip power while giving comparable performance to Kaby and Coffee Lake perhaps even matching the performance of the Coffee Lake U processors!

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information!

LeEco To Buy US TV Manufacturer Vizio For $2 Billion This Year

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: vizio, LeEco, China, business

Chinese technology company LeEco (SZSE: 300104) will purchase US television manufacture Vizio (NASDAQ: VZIO (not trading)) in a deal worth $2 Billion USD set to close in the fourth quarter of this year. 

LeEco plans to acquire Vizio's hardware and software divisions and run the US company as a wholly owned subsidiary while spinning off Vizio's Inscape television viewership data arm as a privately held company. With approximately 400 employees, yearly revenue in the billions ($3.1 billion in 2014), and at least 20% of the US television market, the acquisition would allow LeEco to enter the US market in a big way. Vizio is best known in the US for its televisions where it is a respected brand, but the company also produces ultrabooks, tablets, smartphones, and sound bars. It is a private US-based company with manufacturing in Mexico and China.

Vizio.jpg

Founded in 2004, LeEco is involved in a number of technology related fields across China, India, and soon the US. The Vizio brand (and partnerships such as the one with Walmart to carry its TVs) alone will be instrumental in LeEco's plans to break into the US market which has been resistant to Chinese brands making inroads (Lenovo apparently being the exception, but even Lenovo was not able to get its smartphones into the US market in a big way). The company of 5000+ employees is involved in Internet TV, video production and distribution, e-commerce, smartphones, tablets, gadgets, home automation, and even (soon) driverless cars.The company had 2014 revenue of $1.6 billion.

It is interesting to see all of the buy outs of US tech companies by overseas companies. To be clear, I don't necessarily think that these deals are a bad thing or being done with malicious intentions, but they do piques my curiosity. In this case it could be a good partnership that would allow both companies to benefit with LeEco getting a strong US brand and the recognition and market trust that entails and Vizio getting a much larger staffed company with experience in Chinese markets where it could help Vizio push its smart TV platform and ultrabooks and phone aspects further. Here's hoping that a LeEco owned Vizio grows and maintains its quality and price points.

What do you think about LeEco buying out Vizio? What will the future hold for the US TV maker?

Source: Reuters

Gigabyte Rolls Out New GTX 1060 Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 26, 2016 - 12:36 AM |
Tagged: windforce, pascal, gigabyte, GeForce GTX 1060

In a recent press release, Gigabyte announced that it will soon be adding four new GTX 1060 graphics cards to its lineup. The new cards feature Windforce series coolers and custom PCBs. At the high end is the GTX 1060 G1 Gaming followed by the GTX 1060 Windforce OC, small form factor friendly GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC, and the budget minded GTX 1060 D5. While the company has yet to divulge pricing or availability, the cards should be out within the next month or two.

All of the upcoming cards use a custom design that uses a custom PCB and power phase setup paired with Gigabyte's dual – or in the case of the Mini ITX card – single fan Windforce air cooler. Unfortunately, exact specifications for all of the cards except the high end model are unknown including core and memory clocks. The coolers use a dual composite heatpipe that directly touches the GPU to pull heat away and is dissipated by an aluminum fin stack. The fans are 90mm on all of the cards with the dual fan models using a design that has each fan spinning alternate directions of the other. The cards feature 6GB of GDDR5 memory as well as DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs. For example, the Mini ITX OC graphics card (which is only 17cm long) and features two DVI, one HDMI, and one DP output.

Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 Gaming.jpg

More information is available on the GTX 1060 G1 Gaming. This card is a dual slot dual fan design with a 6+1 power phase (reference is 3+1) powered by a single 8-pin power connector. The fans are shrouded and there is a metal backplate to aid in stability and cooling. Gigabyte claims that its "GPU Gauntlet" technology ensures users get heavily overclockable chips thanks to sorting and using the most promising chips.

The 16nm Pascal GPU is factory overclocked to 1847 MHz boost and 1620 MHz base clockspeeds in OC mode and 1809 MHz boost and 1594 MHz base in gaming mode. Users will be able to use the company's Xtreme Engine software to dial up the overclocks further as well as mess with the RGB LEDs. For comparison, the reference clockspeeds are 1708 MHz boost and 1506 MHz base. Gigabyte has left the 6GB of GDDR5 memory untouched at 8008 MHz.

Gigabyte GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC.jpg

The other cards should have similarly decent factory overclocks, but it is hard to say exactly what they will be out of the box. While I am not a big fan of the aesthetics, the Windforce coolers should let users push Pascal fairly far (for air cooling).

I would guess that the Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 Gaming will MSRP for just above $300 while the lower end cards will be around $260 (the Mini ITX OC may be at a slight premium above that).

What do you think about Gigabyte's new cards?

Source: Guru3D

SIGGRAPH 2016 -- NVIDIA Announces Pascal Quadro GPUs: Quadro P5000 and Quadro P6000

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 25, 2016 - 04:48 PM |
Tagged: siggraph 2016, Siggraph, quadro, nvidia

SIGGRAPH is the big, professional graphics event of the year, bringing together tens of thousands of attendees. They include engineers from Adobe, AMD, Blender, Disney (including ILM, Pixar, etc.), NVIDIA, The Khronos Group, and many, many others. Not only are new products announced, but many technologies are explained in detail, down to the specific algorithms that are used, so colleagues can advance their own research and share in kind.

But new products will indeed be announced.

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The NVIDIA Quadro P6000

NVIDIA, having just launched a few Pascal GPUs to other markets, decided to announce updates to their Quadro line at the event. Two cards have been added, the Quadro P5000 and the Quadro P6000, both at the top end of the product stack. Interestingly, both use GDDR5X memory, meaning that neither will be based on the GP100 design, which is built around HBM2 memory.

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The NVIDIA Quadro P5000

The lower end one, the Quadro P5000, should look somewhat familiar to our reader. Exact clocks are not specified, but the chip has 2560 CUDA cores. This is identical to the GTX 1080, but with twice the memory: 16GB of GDDR5X.

Above it sits the Quadro P6000. This chip has 3840 CUDA cores, paired with 24GB of GDDR5X. We have not seen a GPU with exactly these specifications before. It has the same number of FP32 shaders as a fully unlocked GP100 die, but it doesn't have HBM2 memory. On the other hand, the new Titan X uses GP102, combining 3584 CUDA cores with GDDR5X memory, although only 12GB of it. This means that the Quadro P6000 has 256 more (single-precision) shader units than the Titan X, but otherwise very similar specifications.

Both graphics cards have four DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, as well as a single DVI output. These five connectors can be used to drive up to four, 4K, 120Hz monitors, or four, 5K, 60Hz ones. It would be nice if all five connections could be used at once, but what can you do.

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Pascal has other benefits for professional users, too. For instance, Simultaneous Multi-Projection (SMP) is used in VR applications to essentially double the GPU's geometry processing ability. NVIDIA will be pushing professional VR at SIGGRAPH this year, also launching Iray VR. This uses light fields, rendered on devices like the DGX-1, with its eight GP100 chips connected by NVLink, to provide accurately lit environments. This is particularly useful for architectural visualization.

No price is given for either of these cards, but they will launch in October of this year.

Source: NVIDIA

Seasonic Flagship PRIME 750W, when they upgrade they mean business

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 25, 2016 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, Seasonic PRIME, 750w

It has been about a year since Seasonic released a brand new PSU as they do not tend to flood the market with incremental upgrades to their PSU families.  While this may hurt their business a little as newer users do not see reviews or advertisements frequently, long term enthusiasts take note when a new PSU arrives.  This fully modular PSU offers a single 12V rail capable of delivering 744W @ 62A and offers six 6+2 PCIe power cables, it even still has a floppy connector for those desperate times when you need to pull one out.  [H]ard|OCP strapped the PSU to their torture bench and this Seasonic unit came out with a Gold medal.  Check out the full review here.

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"Seasonic has never been big on marketing-speak. Outside of its impressive specifications, and a list of features, this is all it has to say. "The creation of the PRIME Series is a renewed testimony of Seasonic's determination to push the limits of power supply design in every aspect." Let's see if that is true, or the shortest sales pitch ever."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Xiaomi Launches Sleek Mi Notebook Air Ultrabooks

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5

According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.

The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).

Xiaomi Mi-Notebook-Air in Gold and SIlver.jpg

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.

Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.

The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.

If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.

Also read:

The Huawei MateBook Review: A Denial-of-Surface Attack

Source: Xiaomi