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A Haswell powered ZBox

Subject: Systems | August 28, 2014 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: SFF, zotac, zbox, zbox ID92. haswell

The Zotac Zbox ID92 is not quite as small as the PI320 pico at 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" (188 x 188 x 51 mm) nor as inexpensive as it ships for $486 sans memory, storage and OS.  However with a 2.9GHz Core i5-4570T is significantly more powerful and the HD4600 GPU will allow you to enjoy some light gaming and to enjoy 4K content with an appropriate display.  With both SATA and mSATA the storage subsystem is more agile and also upgradeable as are the two SO-DIMM slots.   The Tech Report quite liked this device for media but suggest those intending to spend more time gaming spend an extra $100 on the Zbox EN760 with its GTX860M.

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"In recent months, we've reviewed two Gigabyte mini-PCs with Haswell inside. In light of those experiences, we figured we'd take a look at one of Zotac's newest Zbox systems: a 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" machine with a 35W Haswell processor, room for dual storage devices, and generous connectivity."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Corsair and ASUS Join Forces to Create World’s Fastest Production DDR4 Memory Kit

Subject: Motherboards, Memory | August 29, 2014 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: X99, ddr4, corsair, asus, Dominator Platinum, X99-Deluxe, Rampage V Extreme

PAX Prime, Seattle —August 29, 2014 — Corsair, a worldwide leader in high-performance PC components and ASUS a worldwide leader in motherboards, today announced the availability of the Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 memory kits in 3300MHz, 3200MHz and 3000MHz speeds – the world’s fastest production memory kits. Corsair developed the new high-speed DDR4 memory in close collaboration with ASUS, tuning and validating the memory timings to take advantage of the optimized DRAM layout and UEFI firmware of ASUS’s new X99 motherboards. The new Dominator DDR4 memory kits, when paired with the ASUS X99 Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme motherboards, creates some of the fastest, most stable enthusiast PC platforms available for the new Intel Core i7 processors (codenamed Haswell-E).

“Our rigorous validation with ASUS has enabled us to make Dominator Platinum 3300MHz the fastest desktop DDR4 memory available at launch,” said Thi La, Chief Operating Officer at Corsair. “Our OC team and engineers are excited to see such performance headroom the new Intel platform and are looking forward to releasing even faster kits in the near future.”

“It is always exciting when two companies renowned for being at the forefront of innovation and pushing performance boundaries work together to create new products for end-users. The combination of ASUS X99 motherboards with Corsair Dominator Platinum ushers in a new era of memory performance and stability for enthusiasts,” Joe Hsieh, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Motherboard and Desktop System Business Unit.

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Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR Memory
Dominator Platinum memory kits have a striking industrial design for good looks, patented DHX technology for cooler operation, user-swappable colored “light pipes” for customizable downwash lighting, and Corsair Link compatibility for real-time temperature monitoring. Dominator Platinum memory is built with hand-screened ICs, undergoes rigorous performance testing, and incorporates state-of-the-art cooling for reliable performance in demanding environments.

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The ASUS X99-Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme
The ASUS X99-Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme feature an enhanced CPU socket and DRAM trace layout to improve signal integrity, providing increased overclocking headroom and stability over reference designs. This is coupled with a highly customized and refined UEFI firmware that allows easy setup and tweaking – perfect for getting the most from Corsair Dominator Platinum memory.

Availability and Warranty
The DDR4 memory kits are available in Corsair’s Vengeance LPX and Dominator Platinum lines. The memory kits are available immediately via Corsair’s worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers and are backed by a lifetime warranty.

The ASUS X99-Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme motherboards are available now at ASUS authorized distributors and resellers worldwide. Both motherboards are covered by a three year warranty with advanced replacement in the first year.

Source: ASUS

Interview with Intel's Matt Dunford about Haswell-E and X99

Subject: Processors, Chipsets | August 29, 2014 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: video, Intel, X99, Haswell-E, core i7-5960x, 5960X, ddr4

Though my review of the Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E processor was posted earlier today, we hosted a live stream later in the afternoon where Allyn and I talked about the launch. We were also able to welcome Matt Dunford, Princpal Evangelist at Intel to talk about his role in the Haswell-E release, the future of the platform, how DDR4 memory fits into it all and much more.

The video is embeded in the processor review now as well but I have included it separately below for those of you that want to jump straight in.

My thanks goes out to Matt from Intel for joining us on the live stream and to all the viewers that came by to submit questions and participate!

ASRock Shows Off Upcoming X99 Extreme6 Haswell-E Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2014 - 01:43 AM |
Tagged: X99, socket 2011-3, lga 2011, Haswell-E, atx, asrock

Today, ASRock unveiled the X99 Extreme6 motherboard, a high end board for enthusiasts featuring Intel's X99 chipset and support for Haswell-E processors and all of the latest connectivity options (short of SATA Express).

This ATX motherboard uses a black PCB, gold capacitors, and blue heatsinks to create an appealing color scheme. A 12 power phase "Digi Power" design feeds the LGA 2011-3 CPU socket. Eight total DDR4 memory slots surround the processor socket (four on each side) with support for up to 128GB of DDR4 running at 3000+MHz (w/ requisite CPU/IMC overclock).

The bottom half of the motherboard hosts the PCI-E slots, PCH, and 10 SATA 3 ports. Specifically, the X99 Extreme6 features three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (supporting Triple SLI or CrossFire), two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, a single Mini PCI-E connector, and one "Ultra M.2" PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slot for SSDs. Ten right angled SATA III 6Gbps ports sit to the right of the southbridge.

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Using internal headers, users can add four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, one Thunderbolt port (requires an add-on card to work), and one COM port(s) for additional connectivity and connecting case front panel ports.

Rear IO on the Extreme6 includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • ​7.1 Channel Purity Sound 2 Audio (Realtek ALC1150)
    • 5 x Analog audio
    • 1 x Optical audio output
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
    • 1 x Intel 1218V NIC
    • 1 x Qualcomm Atheros NIC

The X99 Extreme6 is part of ASRock's new "Super Alloy X99" lineup. It is available now from retailers for $279.99 with a three year manufacturer warranty.

Also read: Haswell-E: The Intel Core i7-5960X 8-core Processor Review at PC Perspective.

Source: ASRock

Broadwell Intel NUCs Being Developed. Rumored Q1 2015?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 27, 2014 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, nuc, Broadwell

The Intel NUC is their small computing form factor, packing what is equivalent to an Ultrabook into a chassis that is smaller than a CD spool. The first release came with Ivy Bridge and it was refreshed with Haswell about a year later. FanlessTech has got a hold a... semi-redacted (?)... slideshow presentation that outlines various models and features. Six models are expected, spread out between Q4 2014 (Haswell), Q1 2015 (Broadwell Core iX), and Q2 2015 (Broadwell Celeron).

Note that a typical Intel NUC contains fans, although the company has released a fanless Bay Trail-based model (and third parties have made their own, custom cooled models based on the form factor). I expect that FanlessTech covers it for those two reasons; it does not mean that these models will be passively cooled. In fact, the product matrix claims that none of these new products will be.

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The six models are broken into three code names.

Both Maple Canyon and Rock Canyon cover the Core i3 and i5 processor segments. Both include NFC, an optional 2.5" drive, four external USB 3.0 ports, LAN, a SATA 3 port, and so forth. They begin to diverge in terms of display outputs, however. Rock Canyon, which is targeted at home theater, home office, and gaming, includes one mini HDMI (1.4a) and one mini DisplayPort (1.2) output. Maple Canyon, on the other hand, includes two mini DisplayPort (version unknown, probably also 1.2) connections. While I do not have a slide for Maple Canyon, replacing the mini HDMI for a mini DisplayPort suggests that it will be targeted more at kiosks and other situations where monitors, rather than TVs, will be used.

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One Haswell Core i5-based Maple Canyon NUC is expected for Q4 2014. Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i5, Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, and Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i5 are all expected in Q1 2015. All models will accept up to two DIMMs of memory (16 GB max).

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Only one Pinnacle Canyon model is listed. It will be based on Broadwell Celeron, allow up to 8 GB of memory (1 DIMM), and include four USB 3.0 ports (external). Its display configuration is significantly different from Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon, however. It will have one, full-sized HDMI (1.4a) and one VGA output. It will launch in Q2 2015.

For more information, check out the slides at FanlessTech.

Source: FanlessTech

WinXP Service Pack 4, but from a third party

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2014 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: windows xp

Would you trust a third party developer to provide you with a new service pack for Windows XP?  There is currently a beta version of SP4 developed by one 'harkaz' that you can download and install by following the link at The Inquirer on 32-bit versions of XP with at least SP1 installed.  There are updates to .NET, MCE and a variety of hotfixes in the Service Pack so the majority of the patches are already officially available as individual updates from Windows Update, just rolled into one easy to install package.  The one major change is the POSready registry setting which will allow machines to get the updates intended for Windows XP Embedded which is supported until 2019.  Check it out, if you dare.

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"The developer, who is known as "harkaz", has been working on the service pack since last September. It will work on any version of Windows XP with at least Service Pack 1 applied and can easily be slipstreamed into installation media for fresh installs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

PNY's Customized OC series, decent value for great performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 25, 2014 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: pny, gtx 780, gtx 780 ti, Customized OC, factory overclocked

PNY is not as heavily marketed as some GPU resellers in North America but that doesn't mean they are not hard at work designing custom cards.  Hardware Canucks tried out the Customized OC GTX 780 and 780 Ti recently with the factory overclock as well as pushing the cards to the limit by manual overclocking.  Using EVGA's Precision overclocking tools they pushed the GTX 780 to 1120MHz Core, 6684MHz RAM and the Ti to an impressive 1162MHz Core, 7800MHz RAM.  Read on to see how effective the custom cooler proved to be as it is also a major part of the Customized series.

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"PNY's latest Customized series will be rolling through their GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti lineups, bringing high end cooling and increased performance."

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

Graphics Cards

Watch Notch Make a Doom Renderer in Dart and WebGL

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: Notch, webgl, dart, doom

Notch, creator of Minecraft, is developing a rendering engine for Doom in Dart and WebGL (I assume as a hobby). I am a little late to the party, and he has been developing for the last couple of hours now. If you were curious about what it looks like to watch someone develop a 3D rendering engine, this could be your chance. He also interacts with the chatroom, which should be more interesting.

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Dart is an open-source programing language that was released by Google in 2011. It compiles to Javascript, but also can be used to make applications via a modified Chromium browser with a direct Dart virtual machine (VM). It can also be run within a command-line.

Watching people program is picking up in popularity. While you would think that this is even more boring than watching people play video games, and you might be right, it could still gain an audience. Epic Games has been working to develop Twitch streaming capabilities directly within Unreal Engine 4's editor, to allow indies (or even large developers) to interact with fans and colleagues.

If interested, check out Notch's stream at Hitbox.tv.

Source: Hitbox.tv

ASRock Launches High End X99 WS E-ATX Motherboard For Workstations and Servers

Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: xeon, x99 ws, X99, workstation, socket 2011-3, Intel, Haswell-E, asrock

Alongside the X99 Extreme6 for enthusiasts, ASRock has launched the X99 WS (E-ATX) motherboard for professional workstations and servers. The board uses a black PCB, blue aluminum heatsinks on the power phase and PCH areas, and gold colored caps. The E-ATX motherboard uses short screws and a thinner CPU socket backplate to allow it to fit into 1U server cases. You have ample PCI-E slots, DDR4 (and ECC RDIMMs), USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2 (with an AIC), eSATA, M.2, and SATA III for connectivity. Power is regulated by a 12 power phase "Digi Power" design with high quality Ultra Dual-N MOSFETs, 60A chokes, 12K Nichicon capacitors.

The X99 WS also uses larger heatsinks, especially around the CPU area. The board features an Intel LGA 2011-3 socket that will accept Haswell-E or Xeon E5-1600/2600 v3 processors up to 18 cores and 160W TDPs. Eight memory slots surround the CPU socket and support a maximum of 128GB of DDR4 3200+ memory. Storage is handled by 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports and a single "Ultra M.2" slot that supports SATA III or PCI-E x4 controller equipped drives.

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This worskation board takes advantage of the Extended ATX form factor to cram in additional PCI-E 3.0 slots versus the shorter X99 Extreme6. A PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slot sits directly below the CPU socket followed by the (mentioned above) M.2 slot and five PCI-E 3.0 x 16 slots. The five PCI-E 3.0 slots allow for 4-Way CrossFireX and 4-Way SLI multi-GPU setups. To take full advantage of this board, you will want to pair it with the higher end Haswell-E parts (5930K, 5960X, et al) with the full 40 lanes rather than the entry level 5820K with its limited 28 PCI-E lanes.

Using internal headers, the X99 WS supports a TPM module, two COM ports, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a Thunderbolt port (via an extra add-in-card). It features two CPU fan and three chassis fan headers as well.

The X99 WS features the following ports on the rear IO panel.

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x Gigabit LAN
    • 1 x Intel I217LM
    • 1 x Intel I210AT
  • 7.1 Channel Audio (Realtek ALC1150)
    • 5 x Analog audio outputs
    • 1 x Optical audio output

The X99 WS is available now with a three year manufaturer warranty for $323.99. The price alone pushes this board well into the professional market, but gamers can get most of the way to the WS feature-wise with the X99 Extreme6. The WS goes up against the boards like the ASUS X99-Deluxe and MSI X99S XPOWER AC.

Source: ASRock

Watch_Dogs Mod for Grand Theft Auto IV

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming, mod, GTA4

If you are not in our IRC chat room, at irc.pcper.com in the #pcper channel, then you could be missing out. We often promote the forums, especially when they review components or host a LAN party, the chatroom is populated just about 24/7. A couple of days ago, KngtRider, IRC regular and owner of Nitroware, an Australian computer hardware news and review website, dropped me a link to a Grand Theft Auto IV mod that adds Watch Dogs elements. You can see the main features in the video below.

The level to which Grand Theft Auto games have been modded is surprising, especially since the tools are community-developed (unless I am completely mistaken). In this mod, the player is able to hack into cameras, ATMs, lights, and even blackout the area around his or her character. The developers even add in a custom HUD, the new wanted level system, and take down attacks.

While I did not try it, the video is impressive. For more information, check out the Kotaku article.

Source: Kotaku

Creative Introduces Sound Blaster E5 Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic

Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5. 

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This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".

Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5" headphone jacks. The two 3.5" jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5" jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)

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The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.

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The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.

The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).

Source: Creative

Falcon Northwest Offering X99 Based PCs In Three Form Factors

Subject: Systems | September 1, 2014 - 01:06 AM |
Tagged: X99, system builder, SFF, Intel, Haswell-E, falcon northwest

Haswell-E is official and components supporting the new X99 platform are flooding the market (or at least your news feed!). Intel's latest chip is not just for the DIY crowd, however. Boutique system builders have started announcing their refreshed lineups. First up is Falcon Northwest which has refreshed its product lineups to feature Haswell-E in small form factor (Mini ITX), mid-tower, and full tower systems.

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Falcon Northwest has updated the Mach V, Talon, and FragBox PCs to include Haswell-E, updated X99 chipset motherboards, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, and the latest connectivity options such as at least six USB 3.0 ports and up to 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports. 

Users will be able to configure the refreshed models with any of Intel's launch CPUs: the six core i7 5820K, hexacore i7 5930K, and flagship 8-core i7 5960X (our review). All three processor options will come with a liquid cooler and optional overclock.

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A tray of Intel Core i7 5930K Haswell-E Processors. Photo Courtesy Falcon Northwest.

Per the press blast, Falcon Northwest President Kelt Reeves had the following to say about Intel's new enthusiast desktop platform:

“In our 23 years of building high-end PCs, I can’t ever remember seeing this much new tech hitting at the same time.” said Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest. “Our fall desktop lineup of Intel X99-based systems with 8-core CPUs, 10 SATA ports, 12 USB 3.0 ports, and 64 gigs of DDR4 memory make the systems we built even a year ago look like antiques. Intel X99 is that big of a leap forward.”

The new systems can be configured with various storage, graphics card, and case/aesthetical options much like their predecessors. The newer platform which supports more processor power, 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, and DDR4 (which uses less power and offers up more bandwidth versus DDR3) is the notable factor here.

The small form factor (and LAN party friendly) FragBox PC starts at $2,313. The mid-tower Talon and full tower Mach V start at $2,330 and $3,021 respectively. You can find the updated custom built boxes on the Falcon Northwest website.

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While I would not go as far as Mr. Reeves, I do think Haswell-E noticeably improves upon Ivy Bridge-E and it brings hardware to bear that will be most welcomed by professionals in workstations and servers that can take advantage of the power. For enthusiasts and gamers, it also represents a much waited-for trickle down of technology from the Xeon lineup of an Intel chip with 8 physical cores to consumers at a price that is relatively affordable (heh).

Are you excited for Haswell-E? Will you be upgrading or carrying on with your current setup? Here's hoping Broadwell-E (or whatever the next generation ends up being called, of course) brings the 8 core monster to the $400 space so my i7 860 can finally rest and graceful Linux test box retirement before I end up killing it from too much time overclocked and over-volted ;).