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Podcast #396 - MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, Intel, Playstation, ps4, neo, ps4k, phanteks, idf, Optane, XPoint, western digital, nvidia, GTX 1080

PC Perspective Podcast #396 - 04/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

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

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

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Various

Intro and Xbox One

Introduction to Remote Streaming

The ability to play console games on the PC is certainly nothing new. A wide range of emulators have long offered PC owners access to thousands of classic games. But the recent advent of personal game streaming gives users the ability to legally enjoy current generation console games on their PCs.

Both Microsoft and Sony now offer streaming from their respective current generation consoles to the PC, but via quite different approaches. For PC owners contemplating console streaming, we set out to discover how each platform works and compares, what level of quality discerning PC gamers can expect, and what limitations and caveats console streaming brings. Read on for our comparison of Xbox One Streaming in Windows 10 and PS4 Remote Play for the PC and Mac.

Xbox One Streaming in Windows 10

Xbox One Streaming was introduced alongside the launch of Windows 10 last summer, and the feature is limited to Microsoft's latest (and last?) operating system via its built-in Xbox app. To get started, you first need to enable the Game Streaming option in your Xbox One console's settings (Settings > Preferences > Game DVR & Streaming > Allow Game Streaming to Other Devices).

xbox-vs-ps4-1.png

Once that's done, head to your Windows 10 PC, launch the Xbox app, and sign in with the same Microsoft account you use on your Xbox One. By default, the app will offer to sign you in with the same Microsoft account you're currently using for Windows 10. If your Xbox gamertag profile is associated with a different Microsoft account, just click Microsoft account instead of your current Windows 10 account name to sign in with the correct credentials.

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Note, however, that as part of Microsoft's relentless efforts to get everyone in the Virgo Supercluster to join the online Microsoft family, the Xbox app will ask those using a local Windows 10 account if they want to "sign in to this device" using the account associated with their Xbox gamertag, thereby creating a new "online" account on your Windows 10 PC tied to your Xbox account.

xbox-vs-ps4-3.png

If that's what you want, just type your current local account's password and click Next. If, like most users, you intentionally created your local Windows 10 account and have no plans to change it, click "Sign in to just this app instead," which will allow you to continue using your local account while still having access to the Xbox app via your gamertag-associated online Microsoft account.

Once you're logged in to the Xbox app, find and click on the "Connect" button in the sidebar on the left side of the window, which will let you add your Xbox One console as a device in your Windows 10 Xbox app.

xbox-vs-ps4-4.png

Continue reading our comparison of Xbox One Streaming and PlayStation 4 Remote Play!!

Zotac Releases PCI-E x1 Version of NVIDIA GT 710 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 21, 2016 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged:

Zotac has released a new variant of the low-power NVIDIA GeForce GT 710, and while this wouldn't normally be news this card has a very important distinction: its PCI-E x1 interface.

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With a single-slot design, low-profile ready (with a pair of brackets included), and that PCI-E x1 interface, this card can go places where GPUs have never been able to go (AFAIK). Granted, you won't be doing much gaming on a GT 710, which features 192 CUDA cores and 1GB of DDR3 memory, but this card does provide support for up to 3 monitors via DVI, HDMI, and VGA outputs. 

A PCI-E x1 GPU would certainly provide some interesting options for ultra-compact systems such as those based on thin mini-ITX, which does not offer a full-length PCI Express slot; or for adding additional monitor support for business machines that only offer a single PCI-E x16 slot, but have a x1 slot available.

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Specifications from Zotac:

Zotac ZT-71304-20L

  • GPU: GeForce GT 710
  • CUDA cores: 192
  • Video Memory: 1GB DDR3
  • Memory Bus: 64-bit
  • Engine Clock: 954 MHz
  • Memory Clock: 1600 MHz
  • PCI Express: PCI-E x1
  • Display Outputs: DL-DVI, VGA, HDMI
  • HDCP Support: Yes
  • Multi Display Capability: 3
  • Recommended Power Supply: 300W
  • Power Consumption: 25W
  • Power Input: N/A
  • API Support: DirectX 12 (feature level 11_0), OpenGL 4.5
  • Cooling: Passive
  • Slot Size: Single Slot
  • SLI: N/A
  • Supported OS: Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP
  • Card Length: 146.05mm x 111.15mm
  • Accessories: 2x Low profile bracket I/O brackets, Driver Disk, User Manual

zt-71304-20l_image7.jpg

The card, which is listed with the model ZT-71304-20L, has not yet appeared on any U.S. sites for purchase (that I can find, anyway), so we will have to wait to see where pricing will be.

Source: Zotac

Yes it's Apple but OWC does good work, meet the Aura 1TB PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 20, 2016 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: owc, apple, PCIe SSD, Aura, 1TB, mlc

It has been a while since we heard from OWC, over a year since Al saw their offerings at Storage Vision, so it is interesting to see a new PCIe SSD from them.  Their days of Sandforce are over, two SMI 2246 XT 4-channel controllers are paired with a Marvell 9230 RAID controller which allows the four unbranded 256GB MLC flash chips to act as a 1TB RAID 0 drive.  The SSD Reviews found the Macbook Air upgrade drive to run slightly slower than the original 256GB SSD but with quadruple the storage the slight slow down is offset by the extra space.  Check out the Aura drive if you have a Mac in need of upgrade, or if you are simply interested in a tiny 1TB SSD.

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"Because of its limited storage capacity and Apples horrendous cost for upgrades, it was very close to being replaced, at least until OWC contacted me a week ago asking if we might like to review their latest 1TB Aura PCIe SSD replacement for mid-2013 and later MacBooks."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Delving into DirectX 12 performance

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: hitman 2016, gaming, dx12, asynchronous compute, ashes of the singularity

DX12 is very new and with these two games utilizing it, Hitman 2016 and Ashes of the Singularity, it is difficult to get a good sample of results to see exactly what the new API will offer.  [H]ard|OCP have been working with both of these games to determine the performance differences between DX11 and DX12 and to find where the bottlenecks, if any, are.  With Ashes they tried limiting the CPU, one set of tests at 1.2GHz and the second at 4.5GHz which showed how well DX12 lived up to the touted benefits of reduced CPU usage.  They also tested with older GPUs on a 4.5GHz CPU to see if the new API does indeed help out older GPUs.  They also delve somewhat into the confusion surrounding AMD's Asynchronous ace in the hole.

For Hitman they contrasted various GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA while leaving the CPU alone for the testing.  This review emphasizes the performance delta between DX11 and DX12 on the same GPUs, and unfortunately also addresses some stability issues which DX12 has brought with it.  Read through the review to see what results they gathered so far but do not consider this the final word since both NVIDIA and AMD's GPUs could barely manage 10 minutes of DX12 gaming before completely locking up.

We still have a lot more investigation to perform before we can define the strengths and weaknesses of DX12.

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"Hitman (2016) supports the new DirectX 12 API. We will take this game and find out if DX12 is faster than DX11 and what it may offer in this game and if it allows a better gameplay experience. We will also compare Himan performance between several video cards to find what is playable and how AMD vs. NV GPUs compare."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Best of luck in your new life; farewell to Jonney Shih

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: jonney shih, asus

There are some fairly solid rumours that Jonney Shih, Chairman of ASUS, will be stepping down soon, with ASUS co-founder Ted Hsu likely to take the reigns.  He has been chair of ASUS for 23 years and has overseen some very large changes in the industry.  He is widely know for the ASUS Eee PC Project, which has changed the mobile computing world from larger notebooks to the netbooks and ultraportables which have become ubiquitous.  His presentations have always been both informative and entertaining, hopefully his retirement is not immediate and we will still see him around for a few years yet.

We at PC Perspective would rate his performance as head of ASUS as 9.99 out of 10.

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"Asustek Computer will have co-founder Ted Hsu, currently vice chairman for ODM Pegatron, return to become chief strategy officer, triggering speculation that Asustek chairman Jonney Shih is going to retire and let Hsu succeed him."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Lian Li Announces DK-04 Standing Computer Desk Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 20, 2016 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: standing desk, Lian Li, enclosure, DK-04, desk enclosure, case, aluminum

Lian Li has officially announced their standing desk shown at CES 2016, and the DK-04 offers variable (powered) height adjustment.

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The DK-04 in standing position

"Standing desks aren’t just fashionable, they’re proven to be beneficial and healthy in multiple ways. Lian Li sought to design a new computer desk chassis in this spirit. Users can configure up to four different height settings, from 67.5cm to 116cm, for the desk to automatically adjust to at the press of a button. The DK-04 can serve as a standing desk for work and switch to a sit-down gaming desk in an instant!"

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The DK-04 lowered to sitting position

I had a chance to check out the DK-04 in person at this year's CES, and it was an impressive piece of hardware. My first question? How much will it cost, of course! Lian Li didn't have an answer for me back in January, but official pricing was included in today's annoucement.

DK-04.jpg

I checked out the DK-04 at CES 2016

The cost? MSRP is $1499, and the DK-04 will be available on May 10, 2016.

If you've priced ergonomic office furniture the $1499 price tag won't seem quite so shocking, especially for a powered sit/stand design made entirely from aluminum (don't forget this is also a PC enclosure).

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The DK-04 is also a full-sized PC enclosure under the glass top

Of course, in the world of PC components it's obviously going to require a specific use-case to justify an enclosure that costs as much as a fairly high-end gaming PC.

Source: Lian Li

Summer Games Done Quick 2016 Schedule Published

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 08:55 PM |
Tagged: gdq, pc gaming

It's still a few months out, but the schedule for Summer Games Done Quick 2016 has been posted to their official website. SGDQ 2016 is almost a solid week of speedruns, starting on Sunday, July 3rd at noon and ending some time after the midnight between Saturday, July 9th and Sunday, July 10th. Games Done Quick, itself, is a charity event, which generated over a million dollars of donations in four out of its last five occurences. It occurs about twice each year, plus an extra one for special events (such as the 2011 earthquake in Japan and TwitchCon 2015).

gdq-2016-sgdq logo.png

They usually have a fair amount of PC titles in their mix. While the schedule doesn't state the chosen platform, Elder Scrolls II, III, and V will be run back-to-back-to-back, followed by Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. That all takes place after a block of Quake, Hexen, System Shock, Deus Ex, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Serious Sam, and other titles. Curiously, Super Mario 64 is missing, except for a 50-star run of Super Mario 64 DS, which is usually their big event. They will have a TAS block, though, which uses a computer to submit controller input at a much higher precision than a human would be capable of, leading to interesting glitches, like injecting an IRC client into Pokémon.

It's a fun spectacle, and it's for a good cause. SGDQ 2016 will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

DroboAccess Enables SSL Encrypted Remote File Access for Drobo 5N and B810n

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: SSL, remote access, NAS, DroboAccess, drobo, B810n, 5N

We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.

myDrobo.png

DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:

Drobo Access-42-.png

After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and Wordpress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:

Drobo Access-45-.png

The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app - an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network - only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.

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In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:

  • The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
  • Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.

…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.

Source: Drobo
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Lenovo

A Very Familiar Look and Feel

Released alongside the launch of Windows 8 in October 2012, the original Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 was a revolutionary device. While Microsoft's initial vision for a touch-enabled Windows may have not panned out exactly as they wanted it to, people still found utility in 2-in-1 devices like the Yoga. In the proceeding years, similar devices from companies like HP and Dell have arose, but consumers ultimately migrated towards Lenovo's offerings.

The Yoga line has seen several drastic changes since it's inception in 2012. Industrial design changes like the Watchband Hinge introduced in the Yoga 3 Pro, and the spinning off of Yoga out of the IdeaPad brand into it's own family this generation with the Yoga 900 point towards the longevity of this 2-in-1 design.

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Today we are taking a look at the most affordable option in the Yoga family, the Lenovo Yoga 700.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo Yoga 700!

IOGear's Kaliber Gaming Mechlite,

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: input, Kailh, Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, IOGear, mechanical keyboard

IOGear have joined the mechanical keyboard market with the Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, opting for Kailh Blue switches as opposed to the Cherry MX switches which have dominated the market.  The plain black look will appeal to some, for others the blue LED backlighting with adjustable light levels will be more attractive.  The lighting is controlled via a switch as opposed to software, something which may lessen the attractiveness of the board to potential buyers, as will the lack of a bundled wrist rest.  Currently it sells for $70 on Amazon, relatively competitive for a backlit mechanical keyboard.  Neoseeker has published their impressions of the keyboard if it piques your interest.

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"The Kaliber Gaming Mechlite has a blue LED backlight with adjustable brightness levels in 7 different patterns. It has 5 programmable macro keys supporting up to 32 characters each, anti-ghosting keys with full N-key rollover, a Windows key lockout, laser cut keys and braided USB connector cable."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Neoseeker

An easier way to make flexible FETs

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: flexible transistors, quantum dots

Flexible transistors have been made in the lab before but the process to deposit semiconductors on a flexible substrate required a vacuum to evaporate all but the desired portions of the layers laid on that substrate.  This new technique utilizes the same materials for insulators and semiconductors but the process uses inks and a photoresist mask to ensure the correct placement of a layer of conductive silver nanocrystals for the gate.   Over top opf the later of silver a layer of aluminium-oxide is added as the insulator, then cadmium-selenide quantum dots for the semiconductor channel and then another layer of silver nanocrystals and indium nanocrystals for the drain.  This is baked as you would normally treat transistors to dope the semiconductor channel and you end up with working FETs on a flexible substrate.  Check out more details on the process at Nanotechweb.

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"A high-quality, flexible transistor, made entirely from colloidal nanocrystals, has been developed by a team in the US. By sequentially depositing their components in the form of nanocrystal "inks," the researchers could make transistors using standard industrial methods, without the need for high-temperature, high-vacuum specialist equipment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Nanotechweb

Sony plans PlayStation NEO with massive APU hardware upgrade

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | April 19, 2016 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, Playstation, neo, giant bomb, APU, amd

Based on a new report coming from Giant Bomb, Sony is set to release a new console this year with upgraded processing power and a focus on 4K capabilities, code named NEO. We have been hearing for several weeks that both Microsoft and Sony were planning partial generation upgrades but it appears that details for Sony's update have started leaking out in greater detail, if you believe the reports.

Giant Bomb isn't known for tossing around speculation and tends to only report details it can safely confirm. Austin Walker says "multiple sources have confirmed for us details of the project, which is internally referred to as the NEO." 

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The current PlayStation 4 APU
Image source: iFixIt.com

There are plenty of interesting details in the story, including Sony's determination to not split the user base with multiple consoles by forcing developers to have a mode for the "base" PS4 and one for NEO. But most interesting to us is the possible hardware upgrade.

The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. The documents we've received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it's not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed.

...

Games running in NEO mode will be able to use the hardware upgrades (and an additional 512 MiB in the memory budget) to offer increased and more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity, at least when those games run at 1080p on HDTVs. The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native.

Giant Bomb even has details on the architectural changes.

  Shipping PS4 PS4 "NEO"
CPU 8 Jaguar Cores @ 1.6 GHz 8 Jaguar Cores @ 2.1 GHz
GPU AMD GCN, 18 CUs @ 800 MHz AMD GCN+, 36 CUs @ 911 MHz
Stream Processors 1152 SPs ~ HD 7870 equiv. 2304 SPs ~ R9 390 equiv.
Memory 8GB GDDR5 @ 176 GB/s 8GB GDDR5 @ 218 GB/s

(We actually did a full video teardown of the PS4 on launch day!)

If the Compute Unit count is right from the GB report, then the PS4 NEO system will have 2,304 stream processors running at 911 MHz, giving it performance nearing that of a consumer Radeon R9 390 graphics card. The R9 390 has 2,560 SPs running at around 1.0 GHz, so while the NEO would be slower, it would be a substantial upgrade over the current PS4 hardware and the Xbox One. Memory bandwidth on NEO is still much lower than a desktop add-in card (218 GB/s vs 384 GB/s).

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Could Sony's NEO platform rival the R9 390?

If the NEO hardware is based on Grenada / Hawaii GPU design, there are some interesting questions to ask. With the push into 4K that we expect with the upgraded PlayStation, it would be painful if the GPU didn't natively support HDMI 2.0 (4K @ 60 Hz). With the modularity of current semi-custom APU designs it is likely that AMD could swap out the display controller on NEO with one that can support HDMI 2.0 even though no consumer shipping graphics cards in the 300-series does so. 

It is also POSSIBLE that NEO is based on the upcoming AMD Polaris GPU architecture, which supports HDR and HDMI 2.0 natively. That would be a much more impressive feat for both Sony and AMD, as we have yet to see Polaris released in any consumer GPU. Couple that with the variables of 14/16nm FinFET process production and you have a complicated production pipe that would need significant monitoring. It would potentially lower cost on the build side and lower power consumption for the NEO device, but I would be surprised if Sony wanted to take a chance on the first generation of tech from AMD / Samsung / Global Foundries.

However, if you look at recent rumors swirling about the June announcement of the Radeon R9 480 using the Polaris architecture, it is said to have 2,304 stream processors, perfectly matching the NEO specs above.

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New features of the AMD Polaris architecture due this summer

There is a lot Sony and game developers could do with roughly twice the GPU compute capability on a console like NEO. This could make the PlayStation VR a much more comparable platform to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive though the necessity to work with the original PS4 platform might hinder the upgrade path. 

The other obvious use is to upgrade the image quality and/or rendering resolution of current games and games in development or just to improve the frame rate, an area that many current generation consoles seem to have been slipping on

In the documents we’ve received, Sony offers suggestions for reaching 4K/UltraHD resolutions for NEO mode game builds, but they're also giving developers a degree of freedom with how to approach this. 4K TV owners should expect the NEO to upscale games to fit the format, but one place Sony is unwilling to bend is on frame rate. Throughout the documents, Sony repeatedly reminds developers that the frame rate of games in NEO Mode must meet or exceed the frame rate of the game on the original PS4 system.

There is still plenty to read in the Giant Bomb report, and I suggest you head over and do so. If you thought the summer was going to be interesting solely because of new GPU releases from AMD and NVIDIA, it appears that Sony and Microsoft have their own agenda as well.

Source: Giant Bomb

Report: NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU Cooler Pictured

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 19, 2016 - 11:08 AM |
Tagged: rumor, report, nvidia, leak, GTX 1080, graphics card, gpu, geforce

Another reported photo of an upcoming GTX 1080 graphics card has appeared online, this time via a post on Baidu.

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(Image credit: VR-Zone, via Baidu)

The image is typically low-resolution and features the slightly soft focus we've come to expect from alleged leaks. This doesn't mean it's not legitimate, and this isn't the first time we have seen this design. This image also appears to only be the cooler, without an actual graphics card board underneath.

We have reported on the upcoming GPU rumored to be named "GTX 1080" in the recent past, and while no official announcement has been made it seems safe to assume that a successor to the current 900-series GPUs is forthcoming.

Source: VR-Zone

Western Digital Reworks Enterprise Lineup, Launches 8TB Gold Datacenter HDD

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: Xe, western digital, wdc, WD, se, RE, Media Cache, hgst, HelioSeal, gold, 8TB

Western Digital rolled out their Se / Re / Xe branding back in mid-2013. Since that time, a lot has changed in the rapidly evolving enterprise storage industry. SSDs are encroaching into more of the data center rack space out there, and the need for small capacity 10k and 15k RPM drives is dropping substantially in favor of more power efficient (in power and capacity per dollar), larger spinning disks.

With these winds of change comes today’s announcement from Western Digital:

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The new Gold lineup appears to be a merging of old and new product lines. The 6TB and below Re series are essentially being absorbed under the new Gold label, but 6TB will no longer be the top capacity offered to WD enterprise customers. A new 8TB capacity will be offered in the form of a HelioSeal drive. The 8TB model will share more parts with the HGST He8 than WD’s previously released 8TB Red, including HGST’s Media Cache architecture, which should yield a nice boost to sustained random write performance over drives lacking this technology.

The press release does not state this, but I suspect WD will be phasing out their Se and Xe product lines over the coming months in favor of Helium-filled drives of the 5400 (Red) and 7200 (Gold) RPM variety. Fewer lines to manage should help them tighten things up a bit and reduce costs even further over time.

We’ll be reviewing the new 8TB Gold just as soon as samples arrive for testing, so stay tuned!

Full press blast appears after the break.

Zalman's Z9 Neo White, ready to go out of the box

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 18, 2016 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: zalman, neo, Z9 Neo

Neo is a popular appellation for computer hardware, from PSUs to motherboards and today another case from Zalman.  The Z9 Neo is a mid-tower case which can hold heatsinks under 200mm tall and GPUs of up to 420mm, perfect for the majority of builds.  The PSU mounts at the bottom and there is a dust filter to protect it, unfortunately one which slides to the rear, making it somewhat difficult to get at.  The case comes with five 120mm fans included, a nice bonus for those looking to be ready to run as soon as possible. Benchmark Reviews also determined it to be friendly for watercooling if that happens to be your preference.

Zalman-Z9-Neo-White-Computer-Case-Front-Door-Open.jpg

"Unlike it’s predecessors in the Z-series line, the Z9 Neo comes with a full length front panel door. Now if your old school, as I am, you probably shutter at the mere mention of a computer case having a door. But over the years, especially with the rise in digital mediums and digital distribution, I find myself using 5.25″ drives less and less."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

The FiercePC Imperial Stormer; shoots close to the mark but misses

Subject: Systems | April 18, 2016 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: watercooling, FiercePC, Core i7 6700K, GTX 970, carbide 400c

The components chosen for this prebuilt system are an odd mix, the 6700K is paired with a  GTX 970, though the rest of the components make sense, with 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD and a 2TB HDD.  These are all installed in a Corsair 400C and the CPU is cooled with an Alphacool NexXos XP3 Light water block, NexXos ST3 radiator; it is the only component which is watercooled.  Kitguru found the enclosure to be impressively quiet and the performance matched their expectations but they also felt that both the GPU and SSD should have been upgraded.

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"The FiercePC Imperial Stormer is a gaming PC that squeezes a custom-built water-cooling loop and some very nifty lighting effects into a rather svelte Corsair Chassis. This enables a mighty 4.7GHz overclock for the Intel Core i7-6700K, which coupled with a GeForce GTX 970 – delivers some very good performance results."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: KitGuru
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

27 notebooks can't be wrong

A month or so back, I had a friend come to me asking for advice on which gaming notebook he should purchase. He had specific needs that were tailored to a portable gaming machine: he wanted to have a single machine for home and mobile use, he wanted to be able to game while traveling and he had a pretty reasonable budget. As the "guy that runs the gaming hardware website" I was expected to have an answer...immediately. But I didn't. As it turns out, dissecting and digesting the gaming notebook field is pretty complex.

I sent a note to MSI, offering to build a video and a short story around its products if they sent me one of each of line of gaming notebooks they sold. Honestly, I didn't expect them to be able to pull it together, but just a couple of weeks later, a handful of large boxes arrived and we were staring at a set of six powerful gaming notebooks to analyze. 

  GE62 Apache Pro-014 GS40 Phantom-001 GS60 Ghost Pro-002 GS72 Stealth Pro 4K-202 GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 GT80S Titan SLI-002
MSRP $1299 $1599 $1699 $2149 $2599 $3399
Screen 15.6-in 1080p 14-in 1080p 15.6-in 1080p 17.3-in 4K 17.3-in 1080p G-Sync 18.4-in 1080p
CPU Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6820HK Core i7-6820HK
GPU GTX 960M 2GB GTX 970M 3GB GTX 970M 6GB GTX 970M 3GB GTX 980M 8GB GTX 980M 8GB SLI
RAM 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB 32GB 24GB
Storage 128GB M.2 SATA
1TB HDD
128GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
128GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE RAID SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE RAID SSD
1TB HDD
Optical DVD Super-multi None None None Blu-ray Burner Blu-ray Burner
Display Output HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
Connectivity USB 3.1 Type-C
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 1
Super Port
USB 3.0 x 2
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 3.1 x 2
USB 3.0 x 2 
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 6
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 5
Dimensions 15.07-in x 10.23-in x 1.06-in 13.58-in x 9.65-in x 0.87-in 15.35-in x 10.47-in x 0.78-in 16.47-in x 11.39-in x 0.78-in 16.85-in x 11.57-in x 1.89-in 17.95-in x 13.02-in x 1.93-in
Weight 5.29 pounds 3.75 pounds 4.2 pounds 5.7 pounds 8.4 pounds 9.9 pounds

MSI sent this collection along as it appears to match closely with entire range of available options in its own gaming notebook line, without actually sending us ALL 27 OF THE AVAILABLE SKUs! Yes, twenty-seven.

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MSI GS40 Phantom

In the video below, I'll walk through the discussion of each of the series of notebooks that MSI offers for gamers, what the prevailing characteristics are for each and what kind of consumer should be most interested in it. I also discuss the specifics of each of the models we received for the project as well as getting into the performance deltas between them.

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MSI GS72 Stealth Pro 4K

  • MSI GE Series
    • $1099-$1499
    • The entry level of gaming notebooks, available in both 15.6 and 17.3-in 1080p screens, limited to GTX 970M or GTX 960M GPUs. You still get 16GB of memory, SSDs in MOST systems, Killer Networking hardware, Steel Series keyboards and weights range from 5.29 to 5.95 pounds.
  • MSI GS Series
    • $1499-2149
    • Varies in screen size from 14-in to 17.3-in but the focus here is on slimmer designs. Both 1080p and 4K screens are available, though you are still maxing out at a GTX 970M graphics solution. 16GB of RAM, NVMe PCIe SSDs are standard, with available models as thin as 0.78-inches and as light as 3.75 pounds.
  • MSI GT72 Series
    • $1599-3499
    • These focus on performance per dollar, getting maximum single GPU performance in the chassis. They all have 17-in screens with available G-Sync integration, and GPUs from the GTX 970M to the GTX 980 (full). 16-32GB of memory, all using SSDs, optical drives, Thunderbolt, six USB 3.0 ports but GT72 systems are bigger and heavier to compensate for all this.
  • MSI GT80 Series
    • $2799-4799
    • These are for the crazy enthusiasts only, all of which include SLI configurations or GTX 970M, 980M or 980. An 18.3-in 1080p screen is the only option for your display, but you get 16-64GB of memory, RAID enabled SSD configurations, Blu-ray burners, Thunderbolt, five USB 3.0 ports and a friggin Cherry Brown mechanical keyboard!

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After going through this project, here are a few recommendations I would have for users looking to pick up an MSI gaming notebook.

  • Best Gaming Value
    • GT72 Dominator G-831 - This combines the larger form factor with a GTX 970M GPU, 17.3-in 1080p screen, 16GB of memory, 128GB SSD and priced at $1599. I think this is a good balance of cost and GPU horsepower.
  • Looking for a Slimmer Design
    • GS70 Stealth Pro-006 - For $1699 you lose the optical drive from the above GT72, but get a lighter and thinner design. You have the same technical horsepower, GTX 970M, Core i7 processor, etc., but the integrated fans will likely be noticeably louder to expel the heat from the more narrow chassis.
  • If you need more performance
    • GT72 Dominator Pro G-034 - With a jump from the $1599 GT72 above to $2099, this model gets you a GTX 980M and a 256GB SSD. Based on the performance metrics I ran, that should net you another 40-50% of GPU horsepower.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about these machines and I'll do my best to answer them!

HP's Z1, a user upgradeable All-in-One workstation

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2016 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: hp, z1, workstation, AIO

The newly announced HP Z1 all-in-one workstation is smaller than its predecessors but hides quite powerful capabilities inside.  You can choose between a Skylake or Xeon E3 chip from Intel, 32 or 64GB of RAM and you can add in a pair of HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SDDs to complement the installed HDDs.  The screen is 4k, but of a slightly smaller size than previous models at 23.6" which may deter some previous owners from upgrading, support for NVIDIA's new Maxwell chips may change that opinion.  For peripherals, there are a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, Type-C form factor for those of you whom this is of prime importance.  As you can see from the picture at The Inquirer, these AIO's are designed to be user serviceable and you can upgrade most of the components after you have purchased the machine.

hp-z1-3g-front-540x334.jpeg

"HP INC has unveiled its third-generation Z1 workstation, having given it a boost with more memory, more storage and the latest Intel processors. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Sony's Optical Disc Archive Storage Reaches 3.3 TB

Subject: Storage | April 18, 2016 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: storage, sony, optical disc archive, optical disc, ODA, hard drives, backup, Archival

Sony has developed a higher-capacity version of their Optical Disc Archive (ODA), which now allows up to 3.3 TB of archival storage with the promise of 100-year retention.

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Sony ODS-D280U (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)

Of course the viability of such a system in the next century is unknown, and a working cartridge (which is similar to the multi-CD systems found in cars a few years ago) would be needed to access the data. The idea is certainly interesting considering the potential for failure with traditional hard drives, though hard drives are relatively inexpensive and offer more utility, unlike the write-once Sony ODA cartridges.

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Cartridge exploded view (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)

For those seeking pure read-only archival storage, the higher capacity of the second-generation Sony ODA at least brings it closer to parity with current hard drive storage.