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Cooler Master's NovaTouch TKL; we're OK with $240 keyboards becoming common?

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2014 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: topre, NovaTouch TKL, mechanical keyboard, cooler master, Cherry MX

That is not a typo, the NovaTouch TKL is currently selling for $240 on Amazon, and you don't even get a numpad.  However if you are a keyboard aficionado, which obviously some people are, the mix of Topre switches and Cherry MX caps may just take your fingers to typing nirvana.  The latter was certainly the conclusion at The Tech Report who found the Topre Cherry MX mix to be uniquely satisfying and preferred it to the other expensive keyboards they have tried recently.  If you are looking for something special to type on and don't have a tendency to drink near your computer then you should check out the review, if you are more prone to spillage you might want to give this one a miss.

CoolerMaster would like to point out that the MSRP for the NovaTouch TKL is actually $199 USD and you can occaisonally find it for a bit less.  Also to be fair, The Tech Report is not kidding when they describe the $200 keyboard market as crowded ... there are a lot of $200 keyboards, just none on my desk.

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"This $200 keyboard from Cooler Master features genuine Topre switches modified to fit Cherry MX key caps. Is it a good mix? We investigate."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Symantec starts a non-destructive reformat

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: symantec, security, norton, billions

Symantec is splitting its self down the middle, with one side focusing on their antivirus and security products, which apparently still sell and are not just bundled with new laptops and computers, and the other handling information management.  Considering they made nearly $7 billion last year someone must be buying their software and even more shocking they must be renewing the license which came with the new machine. Those commenting on Slashdot immediately tried to help Norton out by suggesting that one side should create and spread viruses while the other should come in like a white knight and slay them.  That would certainly make it a more interesting read; even so the fact that Symantec is still alive and prospering is enough of a shock for a Friday morning.

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"Symantec announced plans on Thursday to split into two separate, publicly traded companies – one focused on security, the other focused on information management. The company's security business generated $4.2 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2014 while its information management business meanwhile hit revenues of $2.5 billion. "As the security and storage industries continue to change at an accelerating pace, Symante c's security and IM businesses each face unique market opportunities and challenges," Symantec CEO Michael A. Brown, who officially took over as CEO last month, said in a statement."

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Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Corsair recently released three new HXi Series Fully Modular power supplies: the HX1000i, HX850i, and the HX750i. All three power supplies are 80 Plus Platinum certified and support the Corsair Link digital interface. Corsair continues to offer a full line of high quality power supplies, memory components, cases, cooling components, SSDs and accessories to market for the PC enthusiast and professional alike. In this review we will be taking a detailed look at the HXi Series 1000W fully modular power supply.

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All three of the new Corsair HXi Series power supplies are optimized for silence and high efficiency. Zero RPM fan mode means the fan doesn’t spin until the PSU is under heavy load, and the fan itself is custom-designed by Corsair for low noise operation even at high loads. Flat ribbon-style black cables are fully modular to facilitate fast, clean builds.

The Corsair HXi Series is built with high-quality components, including all Japanese electrolytic capacitors, and is guaranteed to deliver clean, stable, continuous power, even at ambient temperatures as high as 50°C. HXi Series users can also install Corsair Link software to monitor power usage, efficiency, and fan speed.

80 Plus Platinum: High Efficiency – Low Heat HXi Series PSUs are 80 Plus Platinum certified, making them among the most efficient on the market. With efficiency of at least 92% at 50% load, your PC will remain cool and quiet, potentially saving money in the process.

Corsair Link Ready While the HXi is an analog power supply, it features a built in analog to digital bridge to communicate vital information to the Corsair Link software via USB. This allows the user to monitor and log fan speed, current and voltage of the +3.3V, +5V, and +12V rails, monitor power out, display power in and efficiency, and enable/disable OCP on the +12V rails.

Zero RPM Fan Mode offers silent operation at low to moderate loads. Thanks to a highly efficient design, the HXi Series power supplies generate minimal heat and are able to operate in a silent, zero RPM Fan Mode for up to 40% of the PSU’s maximum load (at 25°C room temperature). This means the HXi power supply can be completely silent while the PC is performing less intensive tasks. As the load and temperatures rise within the PSU, the thermally controlled fan gradually spins up for quiet operation even during more demanding computing.

Optimized for Low Noise Corsair continues to branch out beyond memory and power supplies and is paying close attention to fans and their applications. Within a PSU, the most important feature of a fan is high static pressure, allowing the fan to push air through the relatively high density of components. The NR135P intake fan was specifically designed to move more air through the power supply components with less noise. Fan blades are properly balanced to prevent resonance at higher RPMs and the fan features fluid dynamic bearings for quiet operation and long life.

In addition to the specially designed Corsair cooling fan the components on the HXi Series PCB are laid out to allow air to easily flow between them. The HXi PSUs also include fully modular cables made flat for easy installation and reduced airflow resistance.

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Corsair HX1000i PSU Features summary:

•    1,000W continuous DC output (up to 50°C)
•    7-Year Warranty and Comprehensive Customer Support
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified, at least 92% efficiency under 50% load
•    Corsair Link ready for real-time monitoring and control
•    Fully modular cables for easy installation
•    Flat ribbon-style, low profile cables help optimize airflow
•    Zero RPM Fan Mode for silent operation up to 40% load
•    Quiet fluid dynamic fan bearing for long life and quiet operation
•    High quality components including all Japanese electrolytic capacitors
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Safety Protections : OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    MSRP for the HX100i : $229.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair HX1000i PSU!!!

Gigabyte's X99-UD4 ... wait, is that what Dubstep is?

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2014 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, X99-UD4

Gigabyte's X99-UD4 is going with a more aesthetically clean design than other X99 boards have been sporting, although it does have a 30-µm gold layer on the CPU socket, DIMM slots, and PCIe x16 slots so don't think they skipped out on the design.  Cooper Bussmann chokes and solid-state capacitors as well as International Rectifier's PowIRstage all-digital circuitry explain both the high power efficiency and smooth overclock settings that The Tech Report found when benchmarking this board.  However if you really want to see the most impressive feature on this board you have to head over and watch the video on the first page of the review.

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"Buying into Intel's high-end desktop platform doesn't have to be exorbitantly expensive. Gigabyte's X99-UD4 motherboard offers an affordable path to Haswell-E, and it doesn't skimp on quality hardware or extra perks. We've taken a closer look at the board to see if the rest of it measures up."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Lenovo Launches Atom-Powered Yoga Tablet 2 Tablets Running Android or Windows

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, Lenovo, atom, Android

Back in January, Ryan got his hands on Lenovo's 8-inch and 10-inch Yoga tablets. The tablets ran Android OS, had good battery life, and featured a unique design that included a tube and kickstand. Despite less-than-stellar performance, Ryan came away with positive impressions thanks to the comfortable form factor and long battery life.

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That was almost a year ago. Today, Lenovo unveiled updated Yoga tablets that address the pitfalls of the previous models while keeping the unique ergonomic form factor. The Yoga Tablet 2, like its predecessor, comes in 8-inch and 10-inch models and will run Android or Windows 8.1 operating systems, depending on the specific SKU. The Yoga Tablet 2 features upgrades to full resolution displays, Intel Atom Z3745 processors (the previous models used a quad core MediaTek Cortex-A7), and an improved 180-degree hinge. The Android versions come in silver while the Windows 8.1 tablets are ebony black. The table below lists the dimensions and weight of the various models.

  8" Android 10" Android 8" Windows 10" Windows
Dimensions 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3" 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3"
Weight 0.92 pounds 1.36 pounds 0.94 pounds 1.39 pounds

The Yoga Tablet 2 systems have the same general design as the previous models including one tubular side that holds a large battery, front facing stereo speakers, a power button, and an audio jack. One difference is in the kickstand, which can now be rotated 180-degrees and has a cutout that allows it to be hung on a wall or the back of an airplane seat (for example). Further, the Yoga Tablet 2 (8" and 10" alike) features an 8-inch or 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 1.6MP webcam, and a 8MP rear camera with auto focus and an improved BSI 2 (backside illumination) sensor.

Internal specifications are a huge improvement over the previous models including an Intel Atom Z3745 SoC (quad core clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache), 2GB LP-DDR3L memory, and internal flash storage. The Android models come with 16GB of internal storage while the Windows versions come with 32GB internal storage. In both cases, uses can use a micro SD card up to 64GB to expand upon the internal storage. Other features include dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G (not available in the US), and a battery life of up to 18 hours.

The Android-powered version ships with Android 4.4 KitKat while the Windows version ships with Microsoft Windows 8.1 and one year of Office 365. The Windows version is able to take advantage of Intel Burst technology to allow monitoring of usage and overclocking to improve time to idle and reduced processing time at full load to improve battery life and balance performance.

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The 10-inch Windows version comes bundled with a Bluetooth Accutype keyboard cover that can also be purchased separately for the 10-inch Android tablet.

Lenovo looks to have a winner on its hands with its updated Yoga Tablet 2 tablets, and I'm interested to see reviewers put them through their paces. On the Android side, the 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 has a MSRP of $249 and the 10-inch model has a MSRP of $299. The Windows model starts at $299 for the 8-inch model and $399 for the 10-inch model with bundled keyboard. According to Lenovo these are the launch prices and rebates may be available in the future.

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo Introduces New Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 Tablet PCs

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, windows, Thinkpad, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, haswell, Broadwell

At a press event in London (watch the livestream), Lenovo showed off two new convertible PCs – the Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 – aimed at the consumer and business markets respectively that each incorporate evolutionary improvements over their predecessors. The Windows 8.1 PCs will be available at the end of October.

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The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is the company's new flagship multi-mode system, and features build quality and internal processing power enhancements over the Yoga 2 Pro while being 17% thinner (0.5") and 14% lighter (2.62 lbs). Lenovo attributes the size and weight reductions to its new watchband hinge which is uses 800 pieces of aluminum and steel to achieve a thin yet flexible hinge with six focus points that resembles a metal watchband. Additionally, Lenovo has updated the display to a 13.3" multi-touch panel with (QHD+) 3200x1800 resolution. Other external features include JBL stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 and DC-input port, one micro HDMI output, and one audio combo jack.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Watchband Hinge.jpg

Lenovo's new hand-constructed watchband-style hinge with six focus points.

Internally, Lenovo is using the Intel Core M-70 (Broadwell) processor, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life, depending on usage. The PC will be available in Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, or Champagne Gold.

Lenovo also announced the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14. While it does not have the kinds of form factor and hinge design improvements as the Yoga 3 Pro, it does maintain the useful Lift 'n Lock keyboard and feature welcome internal upgrades. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 measures 13.3" x 9.4" x 0.82" and weighs 4.1 pounds. The magnesium alloy frame holds a 14" 1920x1080 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch, a 720p webcam, dual microphones with noise cancelation, stereo speakers, a backlit Lift 'n Lock keyboard (which, when in tablet mode, raises the frame flush with the keys which lock in place), full keyboard, trackpad, and trackpoint nub.

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This PC is noticeably bulkier and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, but it trades bulk for processing power, storage, and external I/O. Externally, the PC has one full HDMI video out (which is preferable to having to remember a micro HDMI adapter on the road or to meetings), two USB 3.0 ports, one combo USB 2.0/DC power/OneLink docking connector, one SD card slot, and one audio combo jack. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 is powered by an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, NVIDIA GeForce 840M GPU, either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory, and 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB flash for caching purposes. It comes with Windows 8.1 and "all day" battery life of up to eight hours.

In all, it has some useful updates over last year's model which we reviewed here.

Pricing and Availability:

The Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 will be available at the end of October from Lenovo.com or Best Buy. The Yoga 3 Pro has an MSRP of $1,349 while the ThinkPad Yoga 14 starts at $1,149.

Both systems continue the Yoga family forward, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Broadwell-powered Yoga 3 Pro performs in particular. I do wish the Lift 'n Lock keyboard technology had trickled down to the consumer models even understanding it would add additional weight and thickness. Obviously, Lenovo felt the tradeoff was not worth it though.

Source: Lenovo

Podcast #321 - EVGA GTX 980 Water Block, AMD's New CEO, R9 290 Price Drops and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2014 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, evga, hydrocopper 980, GTX 980, water block, amd, lisa su, nvidia, GTX 980M, Lenovo Y50 Touch, directx12, windows 10, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #321 - 10/09/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the EVGA GTX 980 Water Block, AMD's New CEO, R9 290 Price Drops 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Three strikes; you're out! Microsoft might be abandoning Surface

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, fail

It seems that Microsoft might be catching on to something everyone else in the market knew when they first announced their first foray into hardware since the Zune; software companies shouldn't annoy their customer by competing with them.  Ballmer originally tried to assuage companies like Acer by claiming that Surface was just a proof of concept, which was met by disbelief and after 3 iterations of Surface those doubts were proven to be justified. According to Microsoft the Surface 3 is a big hit overseas but as this is their first crack at those markets you can bet that the sales will follow the same precipitous drop we saw for the first Surface in North America. 

The news from DigiTimes today is that Surface 3 will be the last generation of this hybrid tablet.  It could be that Microsoft will now focus on their phones, much to the dismay of those who have used their phones though perhaps the remaining human assets from Nokia will bring forth a new generation of workable devices.

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"Microsoft continues to see weak sales for its Surface Pro 3 tablet and is reportedly planning to cancel the product line since shipment performance has been far lower than expectations, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source:

Dr. Lisa Su Is AMD's New President and CEO

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | October 8, 2014 - 05:54 PM |
Tagged: amd

In an abrupt announcement, Rory Read has stepped down from his positions at AMD, leaving them to Dr. Lisa Su. Until today, Mr. Read served as president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the x86 chip designer and Dr. Su as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Today however, Dr. Su has become president and CEO, and Mr. Read will stay on for a couple of months as an adviser during the transition.

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Josh Walrath, editor here at PC Perspective, tweeted that he was "Curious as to why Rory didn't stay on longer? He did some good things there [at AMD], but [it's] very much an unfinished job." I would have to agree. It feels like an odd time, hence the earlier use of the word "abrupt", to have a change in management. AMD restructured just four months ago, which was the occasion for Dr. Su to be promoted to COO. In fact, at least as far as I know, no-one is planned to fill her former position as COO.

These points suggest that she was planned to take over the company for at least several months.

 

Josh's Thoughts

I have been told that timing is everything.  I guess this rings true, but only if you truly know the circumstances around any action.  Today’s announcement by AMD was odd in its timing, but it was not exactly unexpected.  As Scott mentioned above, I was confused by this happening now.  I had expected Rory to be in charge for at least another year, if not two.  Rory had hinted that he was not planning on being at AMD forever, but was aiming at creating a solid foundation for the company and to help shore up its finances and instill a new culture.  While the culture is turning due to pressure from up top as well as a pretty significant personnel cuts, AMD is not quite as nimble yet as they want to be.

Rory’s term has seen the return of seasoned veterans like Jim Keller and Raja Koduri.  These guys are helping to turn the ship around after some fairly mediocre architecturse on the CPU and GPU sides.  While Raja had little to do with GCN, we are seeing some aggressive moves there in terms of features that are making their products much more competitive with NVIDIA.  Keller has made some very significant changes to the overall roadmap on the CPU side and I think we will see some very solid improvements in design and execution over the next two years.

Lisa Su was brought in by Rory shortly after he was named CEO.  Lisa has a pretty significant background in semiconductors and has made a name for herself in her work with IBM and Freescale.  Lisa attained all three of her degrees from MIT.  This is not unheard of, but it is uncommon to stay in one academic setting when gaining advanced degrees.  Having said that, MIT certainly is the top engineering and science school in the nation (if not the world).  I’m sure people from RPI, GT, and CalTech might argue that, but it certainly is an impressive school to have on your resume.

Dr. Su has seemingly been groomed for this transition for quite some time now.  She went from a VP to COO rather quickly, and is now shouldering the burden of being CEO.  Lisa has been on quite a few of the quarterly conference calls and taking questions.  She also serves on the Board of Directors at Analog Devices.

I think that Lisa will continue along the same path that Rory set out, but she will likely bring a few new wrinkles due to her experience with semiconductor design and R&D at IBM.  We can only hope that this won’t become a Dirk Meyer 2.0 type situation where a successful engineer and CPU architect could not change the course of the company after the disastrous reign of Hector Ruiz.  I do not think that this will be the case, as Rory did not leave the mess that Hector did.  I also believe that Lisa has more business sense and acumen than Dirk did.

This change, at this time, has provided some instability in the markets when regarding AMD.  Some weeks ago AMD was at a near high for the year at around $4.66 per share.  Right now it is hovering at $3.28.  I was questioning why the stock price was going down, and it seems that my question was answered.  One way or the other, rumors of Rory taking off reached investors’ ears and we saw a rapid decline in share price.  We have yet to see what Q3 earnings look like now that Rory has rather abruptly left his position, but people are pessimistic as to what will be announced with such a sudden departure.

Tesoro Kuven.pro; mythical helmet or 5.1 surround headset?

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: audio, Tesoro, Kuven.pro, gaming headset

The Tesoro Kuven.pro 5.1 gaming headset uses multiple speakers in the earcups to provide 5.1 sound as opposed to emulating it via software.  While this does have the advantage of bypassing the occasional issues caused with software emulation, placing speakers so close together inevitably causes its own confusion, though not enough to put Legit Reviews off of them.  The controller that comes with the headset allows you to adjust the master volume as well as the volume of each channel separately and mute the microphone but does not function as an equalizer.  Overall Legit Reviews described the sound as flat, a negative listening to music but an advantage when gaming, which is what this headset is for.  The earcups are also rather comfortable, making this a good choice for the gamer who spends long nights gaming and needs to ensure they don't bother the neighbours.

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"Today we’re looking at a true 5.1 gaming headset from the likes of Tesoro Technology, an up and coming gaming peripheral company based in Northern California that’s been around since 2011 and not to be confused with the petroleum refining company Tesoro Corporation. The headset is officially called the Kυνέη.pro, in the Greek spelling of the mythological Helm of Darkness owned by Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. However, Tesoro also spells the product name as Kuven.pro."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

What are the folks who didn't make the cut at Irrational Games doing now?

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: Day For Night Games, The Black Glove, irrational, gaming

Watch the Kickstarter video from Day For Night Games and you will see a lot of Bioshock DNA in The Blck Glove, but not a lot of bloodshed.  Instead of hordes of Splicers to take down in a variety of ways there are three artists whose creations you can improve by changing their past Muse, Medium or Message and instead of Big Daddy there is a ... Space Minotaur?  You take the role of curator for The Equinox, a rather surreal 1920's theatre with three exhibits, the artist Marisol, the filmmaker Avery Arnault, and musical act Many Embers.  By overcoming the Space Minotaur in a variety of minigames you can change the past of these three artists to completely change and hopefully improve their creations in the games present.  The focus will be on the amount of times you can replay the game as each of the three categories will have three sub-categories which leads to many possible outcomes for the three artists creations.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN offers their thoughts on this project here.

This may not end up being as much of a hit as Bioshock multiplayer did with the Fragging Frogs but there will likely be a few members who do end up picking it up.  In the meantime BF4, ARMA2 and 3, UT2K4 and a wide variety of other games remain popular and more importantly, populated with players.  Check out what they will be up to tonight!

"The Black Glove is a new project from a selection of the developers who worked on Bioshock, from the first game right up until Burial at Sea and the winding down of Irrational. It has instantly become one of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing more of, although that’s partly because there’s not quite enough on show right now."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

AMD will be cracking the Linux Catalyst wide open over the next year

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, unified driver, pirate islands

AMD had some news at the 2014 X.Org Developer's Conference that concerns their strategy when it comes to providing open source drivers for Linux.  To start off with the bad news, the new unified driver was prototyped on a not yet released Linux kernel and Sea Islands GPUs and will only work on the next generation of graphics cards, the Pirate Islands.  That is not a terrible thing as backwards compatibility can be a Kong sized monkey on the back of a driver and a fresh start allows the incorporation of features that might be skipped if legacy support is a main focus.  Only a small portion of the driver blob will be proprietary, the majority will be based on Catalyst but will be fully open source and editable.  This means users of the X.Org Server or even just those playing with new versions of the Linux kernel will no longer have to wait for a new Catalyst to be released nor will those playing with OpenGL.  Dive in deeper at Phoronix.

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"Alex Deucher of AMD has taken the floor at XDC2014, which got underway today in France to provide an update on the company's new unified open-source driver strategy. Compared to what I originally reported earlier in the year when breaking the news, there's some notable changes but overall this is an exciting endeavor for AMD Linux customers with the open and closed source AMD GPU drivers going to share the same (open-source) Linux kernel driver."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Maximus VII Formula motherboard is one of the newest members of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) product line, integrating several new features to elevate the board to an entirely new level over is predecessor. From outward appearance the Maximus VII Formula looks very similar to its previous revision, the Maximus VI Formula. However, ASUS made some under-the-hood enhancements and minor layout adjustments to the board, utilizing the functionality of the integrated Intel Z97 chipset. The Maximus VII Formula comes with a premium MSRP of $369.00, but is well worth the cost given the premium feature set and performance potential of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

05-audio.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Maximus VII Formula motherboard with a top-rated 8-phase digital power delivery system, combining 60A-rated BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETs with a 90% efficiency rating, and 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, for unprecedented system stability under any circumstance. Additionally, ASUS integrate their updated SupremeFX Formula audio system for superior audio fidelity through the integrated audio ports. The Maximus VII Formula contains the following features integrated into its design: six SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; two SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; an Intel I218V GigE NIC; an AzureWave (Broadcomm chipset) 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; three PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; three PCI-Express Gen2 x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, Keybot, MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, ROG Connect, and Sonic SoundStage buttons; Probelt voltage measurement points; OC Panel support; SupremeFX Formula 2014 audio solution; CrossChill Hybrid air and water cooled VRM copper-based cooling solution; ROG Armor overlay; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Maximus VII Formula motherboard!

Seasonic's Platinum 1050 beats everything but its predecessor

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 7, 2014 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: seasonic, Platinum-1050, modular psu, kilowatt, hybrid silent fan, 80 Plus Platinum

Lee just wrapped up a review of Seasonic's 1050 and 1200W Platinum PSU's but why not revisit the powerful 1050W PSU in [H]ard|OCP's latest PSU review.  Their testing methodology differs from Lee's as does the hardware used to test it.  This way you get even more information about how this PSU functions under differing conditions and you will be more informed about your possible purchase.  Reading the whole review is the best way to fully understand this fully modular PSU's strengths but if you insist on skipping to the conclusion then this PSU is both better than the competition and less expensive.  The only constructive criticism that [H] could offer was that it does not really improve in any major way over Seasonic's previouslt released 1000W PSU.

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"Seasonic is one of our long-time favorites when it comes to truly high-end power supplies. The new PLATINUM-1050 PSU claims to deliver excellent power efficiency and does so with a fully modular design. Seasonic is often known designing products with excellent sound profiles. Does the PLATINUM-1050 fit the profile?"

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: Rebellion

Quick Performance Comparison

Earlier this week, we posted a brief story that looked at the performance of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on the latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD. Last week also marked the release of the v1.11 patch for Sniper Elite 3 that introduced an integrated benchmark mode as well as support for AMD Mantle.

I decided that this was worth a quick look with the same line up of graphics cards that we used to test Shadow of Mordor. Let's see how the NVIDIA and AMD battle stacks up here.

For those unfamiliar with the Sniper Elite series, the focuses on the impact of an individual sniper on a particular conflict and Sniper Elite 3 doesn't change up that formula much. If you have ever seen video of a bullet slowly going through a body, allowing you to see the bones/muscle of the particular enemy being killed...you've probably been watching the Sniper Elite games.

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Gore and such aside, the game is fun and combines sniper action with stealth and puzzles. It's worth a shot if you are the kind of gamer that likes to use the sniper rifles in other FPS titles.

But let's jump straight to performance. You'll notice that in this story we are not using our Frame Rating capture performance metrics. That is a direct result of wanting to compare Mantle to DX11 rendering paths - since we have no way to create an overlay for Mantle, we have resorted to using FRAPs and the integrated benchmark mode in Sniper Elite 3.

Our standard GPU test bed was used with a Core i7-3960X processor, an X79 motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and the latest drivers for both parties involved. That means we installed Catalyst 14.9 for AMD and 344.16 for NVIDIA. We'll be comparing the GeForce GTX 980 to the Radeon R9 290X, and the GTX 970 to the R9 290. We will also look at SLI/CrossFire scaling at the high end.

Continue reading our performance results in Sniper Elite 3!!

Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

be quiet! is a relative new comer to the US computer component market with an award-winning reputation for high quality power supplies and components in their native Germany. Recently, they have branched out into the highly competive cooling space with their Dark Rock and Shadow Rock cooler lines. The Dark Rock Pro 3 is the newest member of their Dark Rock cooler line, featuring a massive dual tower radiator and dual fan design. The Shadow Rock Slim is a recent addition to their Shadow Rock line, featuring a smaller footprint single radiator design to maximize motherboard compatibility with the cooler. The Dark Rock Pro 3 comes with a premium MSRP of $89.99, while the Shadown Rock Slim is available at an MSRP of $49.99.

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Courtesy of be quiet!

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Courtesy of be quiet!

As a flagship solution, the Dark Rock Pro 3 cooler has most of the nice to haves to find on top-end coolers from other manufactures - copper base plate and heat pipes, nickel plating on all copper surfaces, thick dual radiator construction, dual fans, and a massive amount of heat pipes to wick the heat away from the CPU surface as fast as possible. be quiet! developed the cooler using dual fans, a 120mm front fan and a 135mm inner fan. Heat is transfered from the copper base plate to the dual aluminum radiators by a dense array of seven copper heat pipes. All surfaces are nickel coated for corrosion protection and scratch resistance with the nickel plating black colored to give the cooler a sleek and menacing appearance.

Continue reading our review of the be quiet! CPU air coolers!

MSI Revamps Armory of Gaming Laptops with Latest NVIDIA GTX 970M & 980M Graphics

Subject: Mobile | October 7, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, maxwell, GTX 980M, GTX 970M, gt dominator, gs stealth, gs ghost

You've heard about NVIDIA's new GTX900M Series and MSI has released two new families of gaming laptops which contain the new GPU.  The GS Stealth and Ghost series are the thinner, lighter more mobile of the laptops while the Dominator Series is more a desktop replacement and should also give you a good workout while you are carting them around.  The base model will run you $1600, with more expensive options available such as the limited edition Crimson Red Stealth Pro model at the end.  Before you ask, no the integral displays are not G-SYNC however since the mobile GPUs are based on Maxwell you may be able to output to a G-SYNC monitor with a variable refresh.  Stay tuned for more.

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City of Industry, Calif. – October 7, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the immediate availability of the critically acclaimed GS Stealth/Ghost Series and GT Dominator Series gaming laptops with NVIDIA’s latest GTX 900M Series graphics. Armed with unprecedented power and an array of cutting-edge features, including MSI’s new SHIFT technology, the new gaming notebooks deliver up to 28% more graphics performance for a mobile gaming experience without barriers.

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“MSI’s newest gaming laptops showcase breakthroughs in mobile gaming technology that improve graphics performance, increase gaming comfort, and transport gamers into an unbelievable gaming journey,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “NVIDIA’s GTX 900M Series GPU delivers mobile graphics that are up to par with desktop graphics card models and superior to anything we’ve ever seen.”

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SHIFT Your Speed
MSI’s newest gaming laptops feature their exclusive SHIFT power adjustment technology that enables easy tweaking of CPU and GPU performance to best suit the gamers’ needs. SHIFT comes with three proprietary modes: Sport to maximize CPU and GPU usage for extreme performance, Comfort for a smooth and balanced ride, and Green, which enables the lowest power consumption of both CPU and GPU while maintaining the coolest constant temperatures for both.

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Unprecedented Customization
MSI provides unprecedented customization in all NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M Series graphics equipped laptops via the Dragon Gaming Center and SteelSeries Engine. Gamers can SHIFT CPU and GPU usage through the Dragon Gaming Center as well as monitor system performance, temperature, network speed, power consumption, fan speed and more. The SteelSeries Engine gives gamers the ability to personalize playing style with over a billion customization options, program individual keys for unlimited configurations, determine key color and lighting patterns, save and share configurations, and learn gaming patterns with key usage statistics.

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Cutting Edge Components
All revamped gaming laptops come with 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, Killer E2200 Game Networking, Sound Blaster Cinema, Dynaudio Technology, XSplit Gamecaster, 4K HDMI Output, Matrix Display and NVIDIA Surround View. NVIDIA Surround is now supported on all next gen models, allowing gamers to immersive themselves in the ultimate gaming experience. Select models come with MSI’s Super RAID technology which supports up to 4x M.2 SATA SSD’s in RAID 0, ultra-high resolution 3K displays, and Killer DoubleShot Pro combining Killer E2200 Game Networking with Killer N1525 Wireless AC.

MSI’s latest update applies to the ultra-thin and light GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro models, and the potent GT72 Dominator, GT70 Dominator and GT60 Dominator gaming laptops. All GS and GT gaming laptops equipped with NVIDIA’s GTX 900M graphics are available now starting at $1,599.99.

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In addition, MSI is launching a special edition GS70 Stealth Pro in Crimson Red, catering to the demands of gamers who want more choices in color and style. The GS70 Stealth Pro Crimson Red edition will be available through online retailers with next gen graphics.

Source: MSI

AMD's mobile APU update, Carrizo-L for Christmas, full Carrizo for the new year

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2014 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: mobile apu, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, amd, 28nm

Kaveri, Beema and Mullins are on their way out to be replaced by the Excavator based Carrizo family towards the end of the year.  We can hope they will appear in products in time for Christmas as the low power Carrizo-L, rumoured to be around 12-35W TDP, will arrive.  In the new year the more powerful Carrizo, speculated at 45-65W TDP, will be available.  It is unclear how long the delay will be between availability to system builders and the products appearing on the market.  The chips will support DDR3, contain a GPU based on GCN 3.0 and stacked on-package memory which will be accessible by Through Silicon Via to act as a sort of L3 cache for HSA applications.  DigiTimes also mentions it will run Win8 and Win10 as well as SLED.

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"AMD is planning to announce next-generation Carrizo APUs in March 2015 to replace its existing Kaveri APUs for the mainstream performance notebook segment and will release Carrizo-L APUs for the entry-level notebook segment in December 2014 at the earliest to challenge Intel's Pentium and Celeron processors, according to sources from notebook players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

If there is one message that I get from NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 900M-series announcement, it is that laptop gaming is a first-class citizen in their product stack. Before even mentioning the products, the company provided relative performance differences between high-end desktops and laptops. Most of the rest of the slide deck is showing feature-parity with the desktop GTX 900-series, and a discussion about battery life.

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First, the parts. Two products have been announced: The GeForce GTX 980M and the GeForce GTX 970M. Both are based on the 28nm Maxwell architecture. In terms of shading performance, the GTX 980M has a theoretical maximum of 3.189 TFLOPs, and the GTX 970M is calculated at 2.365 TFLOPs (at base clock). On the desktop, this is very close to the GeForce GTX 770 and the GeForce GTX 760 Ti, respectively. This metric is most useful when you're compute bandwidth-bound, at high resolution with complex shaders.

The full specifications are:

  GTX 980M GTX 970M
GTX 980
(Desktop)
GTX 970
(Desktop)
GTX 880M
(Laptop)
CUDA Cores 1536 1280 2048 1664 1536
Core (MHz) 1038 924 1126 1050 954
Perf. (TFLOP) 3.189 2.365 4.612 3.494 2.930
Memory Up to 4GB Up to 3GB 4GB 4GB 4GB/8GB
Memory Rate 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 7.0 (GT/s) 7.0 (GT/s) 2500 MHz
Memory Width 256-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Architecture Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Kepler
Process Node 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
DirectX Version 12.0 12.0 12.0 12.0 11.0

As for the features, it should be familiar for those paying attention to both desktop 900-series and the laptop 800M-series product launches. From desktop Maxwell, the 900M-series is getting VXGI, Dynamic Super Resolution, and Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA). From the latest generation of Kepler laptops, the new GPUs are getting an updated BatteryBoost technology. From the rest of the GeForce ecosystem, they will also get GeForce Experience, ShadowPlay, and so forth.

For VXGI, DSR, and MFAA, please see Ryan's discussion for the desktop Maxwell launch. Information about these features is basically identical to what was given in September.

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BatteryBoost, on the other hand, is a bit different. NVIDIA claims that the biggest change is just raw performance and efficiency, giving you more headroom to throttle. Perhaps more interesting though, is that GeForce Experience will allow separate one-click optimizations for both plugged-in and battery use cases.

The power efficiency demonstrated with the Maxwell GPU in Ryan's original GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 review is even more beneficial for the notebook market where thermal designs are physically constrained. Longer battery life, as well as thinner and lighter gaming notebooks, will see tremendous advantages using a GPU that can run at near peak performance on the maximum power output of an integrated battery. In NVIDIA's presentation, they mention that while notebooks on AC power can use as much as 230 watts of power, batteries tend to peak around 100 watts. Given that a full speed, desktop-class GTX 980 has a TDP of 165 watts, compared to the 250 watts of a Radeon R9 290X, translates into notebook GPU performance that will more closely mirror its desktop brethren.

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Of course, you probably will not buy your own laptop GPU; rather, you will be buying devices which integrate these. There are currently five designs across four manufacturers that are revealed (see image above). Three contain the GeForce GTX 980M, one has a GTX 970M, and the other has a pair of GTX 970Ms. Prices and availability are not yet announced.

AIDA64 Version 4.70 Released

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2014 - 11:50 PM |
Tagged: FinalWire, aida64

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 4.70 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition, Engineer Edition, and Business Edition of the software.

The latest version of AIDA64 has been updated to work with the latest LCD and VFD screen-based devices as well as several of the newest SSD devices on the market. FinalWire also integrated support for CUDA 6.5, Mantle, and OpenGL 4.5 for testing with the newest AMD and NVIDIA graphics accelerators.

New features include:

  • Support for new LCD and VFD devices: Acer Idea 500, Adafruit, Aquaero, AX206, BWCT, CH424, Crystalfontz, ct-Mausekino, Cwlinux, Dangerous Prototypes HD44780, Futaba DM-140GINK, Futaba MDM166A, GLCD2USB, IkaLogic, LCDInfo USB13700, LCDInfo USBD480, LPT, Matrix Orbital LK RS232, Matrix Orbital GLK RS232, Odroid-Show, Phidget, picoLCD, POS, Pyramid, Roccat Valo, Samsung SPF, SoundGraph iMon LCD, SpikenzieLabs MPTH, Sure Electronics, Trefon, USB2LCD+, Wallbraun LUI, Yoctopuce
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Technical Preview and Windows Server 2015 Technical Preview support
  • Advanced support for Razer SwitchBlade UI LCD
  • Support for LGA2011-v3 motherboards
  • CUDA 6.5, OpenGL 4.5 support
  • AData SP610, AData SP910, Corsair Force LX, Corsair Neutron, Corsair Neutron GTX, OCZ Arc 100, Seagate 600, SanDisk Extreme Pro, SanDisk X300s SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R9 285
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 900 Series

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v4.00):

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 support
  • OpenCL GPGPU Benchmark Suite
  • AMD Mantle graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • Multi-threaded memory stress test with SSE, SSE2, AVX, AVX2, FMA, BMI and BMI2 acceleration
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for AMD “Kaveri”, “Bald Eagle”, “Mullins”, “Beema” APUs
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Atom C2000 “Avoton” and “Rangeley” SoC
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel “Bay Trail” desktop, mobile and tablet SoC
  • Full support for the upcoming Intel “Haswell Refresh” platform with Intel “Wildcat Point” PCH
  • Support for new LCD and VFD devices: Abacom (ExpertProfi), AlphaCool, Digital Devices, LCD2USB, Mad Catz Venom, Matrix Orbital LK, Matrix Orbital GLK, Matrix Orbital GX, nMedia Pro-LCD, Pertelian X2040, SDC Megtron, SoundGraph iMon VFD, VL System LIS, VL System LIS 2
  • Improved support for Intel “Broadwell” CPU
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Carrizo” and “Toronto” APUs
  • Preliminary support for Intel Quark X1000 “Clanton” SoC
  • Preliminary support for Intel “Skylake”, “Cherry Trail”, “Denverton” CPUs
  • Improved support for Intel “Haswell-E” CPU and DDR4 memory modules
  • Support for DDR4 XMP 2.0 memory profiles
  • Intel H97 and Z97 chipset based motherboards support
  • SMTP SSL support
  • Improved handling of XSL files
  • Revamped Direct3D Compute Shader devices enumeration
  • CUDA 6.0, OpenGL ES 3.1 support
  • Improved support for OpenCL 2.0
  • Support for VirtualBox v4.3 and VMware Workstation v10
  • A-Data SP920, Crucial M550, Intel 730, OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 460, Plextor M6M, Plextor M6S, Samsung 845DC Evo, Samsung 850 Pro, Samsung XP941 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R5, R7, R9 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 700 and 800 Series

About FinalWire

FinalWire is the global leader in the development of diagnostic and network management software products for Windows based computers. The company's founding members are veteran software developers who have worked together on programming system utilities for almost two decades. For more information, visit www.aida64.com

Source: FinalWire