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BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 24, 2014 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: biostar, z97, Hi-Fi Z97WE

BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE is so named for the EMI shield over the Realtek ALC892 audio codec though on the board The Tech Report tested it was less than effective at blocking noise from interfering with the headphone out when the GPU was under heavy load.  On the other hand the Digital S/PDIF audio out is rare to see on a lower priced motherboard and will be attractive to some users, even with the lack of digital encoding. The two PCIe 16x slots can handle dual GPUs at 8x speeds but perhaps the most attractive feature is the M.2 slot for an SSD to be inserted.  Check out how well it overclocks and the overall stability of this $124 motherboard in the full review.

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"Biostar's latest Haswell motherboard sells for only $125, but it's specced like pricier alternatives. You get an overclocking-friendly Z97 chipset, PCIe slots primed for multi-GPU configs, an M.2 slot for next-gen SSDs, and upgraded audio hardware. We spent some quality time with the Hi-Fi Z97WE to see what it's really like, and you might be surprised by what we learned."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Watch_Dogs Patched to Optimize Performance and Fix Bugs

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2014 - 06:55 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming

Today, Ubisoft has issued a patch for Watch_Dog that fixes bugs and performance issues. Mainly, it is designed to reduce stuttering with higher levels of texture quality, especially "High Textures". "Ultra Textures" could still have problems for "some players", but Ubisoft suggests that future updates to reduce stutter are in progress.

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Without knowing much about the internal workings of the patch, I expect that it addresses hiccups when swapping textures. Loading textures into memory can take a significant amount of time, and overhead, but it is necessary if the one you need is not in there. As the size of each individual texture increases, fewer can be stored in the same memory space, leading to more swapping required (especially when it is difficult to tell what a user can see at any given point in time). Ubisoft might have found a more efficient organization (for lack of a better word that I can think of) for textures that allow "High Textures" to stay below their target memory footprint, but not "Ultra Textures", at least not frequently enough to call it fixed.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong.

This patch also addresses bugs with multiple network adapters, crashes, and error messages. According to Ubisoft forums, it is available now. It is not yet on their news blog, though.

Source: Ubisoft

HGST Announces 12 Gbps SAS, Enterprise SSDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 29, 2014 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged:

You might remember Allyn say that Samsung's 850 Pro is the closest to total saturation of SATA 6Gbps. The other option that we have seen is the bunch of SSDs that are attached to a PCI Express bus. HGST, formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has just SAS'd back (that was a terrible pun... which I refuse to apologize for) with a Serial Attached SCSI 12 Gbps model (pdf link). They claim a maximum read throughput of 1100 MB/s, with 64K chunks, and 130,000 IOPS, with 4K random accesses.

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The drives will be based on Intel 20nm enterprise-grade NAND with two bits per memory cell (MLC). Its durability is rated at 25 full driver writes per day for 5 years. Models will range from 100GB, all the way up to 1600GB (1.6TB).

While I am limited to Google Translate, there does not appear to be any price or availability information provided. They are enterprise drives, however, so I expect it to be above typical consumer drives.

AMD Releases FreeSync Information as a FAQ

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Displays | July 29, 2014 - 09:02 PM |
Tagged: vesa, nvidia, g-sync, freesync, DisplayPort, amd

Dynamic refresh rates have two main purposes: save power by only forcing the monitor to refresh when a new frame is available, and increase animation smoothness by synchronizing to draw rates (rather than "catching the next bus" at 16.67ms, on the 16.67ms, for 60 Hz monitors). Mobile devices prefer the former, while PC gamers are interested in the latter.

Obviously, the video camera nullifies the effect.

NVIDIA was first to make this public with G-Sync. AMD responded with FreeSync, starting with a proposal that was later ratified by VESA as DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync. AMD, then, took up "Project FreeSync" as an AMD "hardware/software solution" to make use of DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync in a way that benefits PC gamers.

Today's news is that AMD has just released an FAQ which explains the standard much more thoroughly than they have in the past. For instance, it clarifies the distinction between DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and Project FreeSync. Prior to the FAQ, I thought that FreeSync became DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, and that was that. Now, it is sounding a bit more proprietary, just built upon an open, VESA standard.

If interested, check out the FAQ at AMD's website.

Source: AMD
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer:

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

A few months back, we took a look at the ADATA Premier Pro SP920 series of SSDs. Those came equipped with the Marvell 88SS9189 controller. Marvell SSD controllers have always done a good job, and they were among the first to support SATA 6Gbit speeds. Crucial was one of the first to adopt the Marvell controller into their SATA SSD products, so it seems fitting that we revisit the 88SS9189 controller in the form of Micron's Crucial M550 Series of SSDs:

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Being one of the big manufacturers of SSDs, Micron has some cool production videos. Here's one of their videos covering the production of flash all the way through to the assembly of an SSD. We actually toured one of these plants a few years back. Good stuff:

Continue reading as we evaluate all available capacities of the Crucial M550!!

Dropbox for Business; to encrypt or not to encrypt?

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2014 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: dropbox, data privacy, encryption

Dropbox has faced many questions about the privacy of the data held on their service after modified links were shown to successfully connect to private portions of accounts as well as their ability to hand over all your content in readable form to authorities.  While for many the lack of encryption is not much of a concern, businesses cannot afford to be so lax with potentially valuable client data stored on Dropbox.  This use of Dropbox by businesses is far more common than you may think and may expand with the announcement of Dropbox for Business and the expanded services available for this new service.

For those with security concerns about storing unencrypted data on Dropbox it would seem that the recommendation is to use third party client side encryption software.  That does mean that the new search features will not work as Dropbox will be unable to index files as they pointed out to The Inquirer and other media.  Dropbox does have a decent reputation for protecting the data they store but for those intending to store proprietary data on the cloud the balance between ease of use and privacy should be considered before moving to any cloud storage provider.

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"DROPBOX HAS DEFENDED its record on privacy following allegations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that it is "hostile to privacy"."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 is starting to arrive, more pixels and less screen door

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2014 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, DK2, oled, kick ass

The two top improvements in the second Oculus rift are aimed to reduce the screen door effect by changing the display to a full 1080p OLED screen and the inclusion of Valve's low persistence of vision feature to reduce the image smearing that DK1 users reported.  There is a brand new way of tracking your heads position in 3D with the DK2, a camera tracks the motion of hidden onboard IR LEDs to track translational movement in addition to the rotational tracking existent on the DK1.  You will need 2 free USB ports and it connects to an HDMI or DVI port on your GPU, wireless video streaming is still a hurdle for many applications let alone the Oculus Rift.  Check out the comments on Slashdot and follow the link for a full preview.

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"The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

What is in a brand? The tale of two low cost SSDs

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2014 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: adata, SP610, corsair, Force LX, 512GB

Two drives are competing for the budget segments money on Legit Reviews, the $250 Corsair Force LX 512GB and the $240 ADATA SP610 512GB SSD.  512GB should be enough for most budget users to store their needed software on and save them the cost of an HDD but which will offer the most value for the money?  Both drives have Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller and 20nm Micron MLC NAND, the same 3 year warranty and the same physical measurements.  Does one stand out over the other?  Read the full review to see.

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"Solid-State Drive (SSD) have been steadily growing in capacity and thanks to improvements to the manufacturing processes the price of NAND and SSD controllers has been falling at an impressive rate. This means that fairly large SSDs are now fairly affordable and something the for the average consumer can justify purchasing."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage