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Lian Li Has Created a Case You Can Mount on the Wall: The PC-05S

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 22, 2014 - 08:16 PM |
Tagged: wall mount, Steam Machine, PC-05S, mini-itx, Lian Li, enclosure, cases, aluminum case

Techspot posted a review of the unreleased Lian Li PC-05S case over the weekend, and as you can see it’s a lot more interesting than the generic name might suggest.

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The case features aluminum construction (of course - it’s a Lian Li!) and a tempered glass side to showcase the build. And what better way to show off a build than hanging it on the wall like a picture? Well, the reviewer didn’t show this but the case is described as a “wall mountable open-air chassis” by Lian Li on their site. Overall, Techspot liked the PC-05S and called it “a beautiful case that is well-designed inside and out”.

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Looks great on a desk!

At just over 14 lbs (without components) this will require some planning to mount on a wall. The dimensions (WHD) are 15.1” x 18.3” x 5.8”, and it has a similar layout to Steam Machine cases like the SilverStone RV01 which we reviewed back in January. Like the RV01, the PC-05S requires a mini-ITX motherboard and orients the GPU at a 90° angle (via an included ribbon adapter) to fit in such a slim enclosure. The PC-05S also requires an SFX power supply (such as the SilverStone SX600-G we reviewed recently) and supports 240mm radiators.

Many more photos and full specs are available on the main product page, and the Lian Li PC-05S is slated for a February 2015 release. The cost? $319.

Source: Techspot
Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction, Specs, and First Impressions

BitFenix has been making enclosures for the PC market since 2010 (with the massive Colossus E-ATX case), and came to prominence a couple of years later with the introduction of the Prodigy enclosure. While the company has expanded to produce power supplies and peripherals they are still primarily a case manufacturer, as evidenced by the now 31 different models on their product page. Not content to iterate on their existing designs, BitFenix has consistently introduced new chassis ideas for different form-factors and needs.

We reviewed the Colossus Micro-ATX case back in March, and it is again an enclosure built for the venerable micro-ATX form-factor that we’re looking at here. Quite the opposite of the Colossus Micro-ATX's squat design, the Pandora is smooth and very slim.

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In the world of computer cases there are many variations, but they are mostly boxes with splashes of style and the occasional window. Companies like In Win are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but the design choices for a case with commitment to artistic intent often entail a considerable price tag, and In Win consistently prices itself out of the mainstream market. So what about the middle ground? Enter the BitFenix Pandora. It boasts eye-catching looks, a slim design that seems even more so given the curved panels, and even has a color LCD screen that can be programmed with the image file of your choice!

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The Pandora features a programmable color LCD display, which I affixed with this incredible logo

I don’t want to dissolve into meaningless superlatives, but the Pandora is a striking design. When it was shown at Computex earlier in 2014 it was listed as a mini-ITX enclosure, and while it definitely supports mini-ITX motherboards it is the final product’s micro-ATX support that we focus on in this review. And while it would have been large as a mini-ITX enclosure the Pandora is fairly small as an mini-ATX case, most notably due to that slim profile. This comes at a price, as there won’t be as much room for storage with such a narrow width (and those looking for any optical drive support must look elsewhere). And speaking of price, while the "core" version of the case starts at around $110, this version with programmable display is currently selling for just under $160. Steep, but not outrageous either.

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Continue reading our review of the BitFenix Pandora micro-ATX enclosure!!

Steam Gifting and Trading Are Now Region-Locked

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2014 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam

Especially with digital distribution, some regions of the world receive different pricing for the same content based on what their target market is capable of paying for it. On Steam, most regions are just about equivalent to their exchange rate with the US dollar. There are a few, most notably Russia, that receive steep price cuts (because the increase in expected customers outweighs the decrease per unit).

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Valve's engineers say...

This leads some thrifty people to purchase keys that were intended for other, lower-cost regions. Recently, Valve has adjusted the Steam back-end to block gifting from certain, reduced-price regions to other regions. It does not affect existing purchases, only new ones. This also might not be their final decision, as Valve claims that they are still “assessing the market”, according to PC Gamer. This currently applies to: Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, and Singapore.

I am quite... conflicted on this decision.

On the one hand, I believe that moving a game from one region to another should be acceptable. Unless Steam requires that users (or gift givers of unactivated keys) declare that the license is intended for members of a given region, which could be fraud to lie about, then I cannot see any reasonable way to prevent this. On the other hand, I find Valve's method to be fair and targeted, even though it is relying upon DRM to restrict user access.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments! (Registration is not required)

Source: PC Gamer

Assassin's Creed Unity: Now with Slightly Less Terrible Performance!

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2014 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: patch, gpu performance, assassin's creed, assasins creed unity

The latest patch (version 1.4.0) for Assassin's Creed Unity was released on Friday, and the folks at HardOCP have posted a review with their perfomance findings today.

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Spoiler alert: the performance numbers are better, but not by a lot. To quote the article's conclusion:

"Thanks to the recent patch 1.4.0 it is a little "less terrible," but it is still not very good. This game is poorly optimized, if at all, and performs worse than it should on the latest generation of video cards. Even with SLI you cannot maximize the graphics settings at 1440p with TXAA, one of the added NVIDIA features in the game. This is sad."

The post for Patch 4 on Steam lists these improvements:

  • Performance & Stability: Frame rate drops, game crashes, lost progression
  • Gameplay: Navigation, lock picking chests
  • Online: Connectivity, matchmaking, companion app

The tested patch (which weighs in at 5.4GB) is the fourth one released in December, as Ubisoft attempts to mitigate some of the issues with a game that has only disappointed since launch. While overall improvements seen by the team at [H] were slight, the review does concede that patch "helped performance and image quality" and that "using the latest NVIDIA beta drivers...also helped performance in this game". However to fully enjoy the Assassin's Creed Unity experience they do recommend "a cold beer, or two".

Source: HARDOCP

Team Fortress 2 Beta Includes "Mannpower Mode"

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: tf2, valve

So Valve is working on a new game mode for Team Fortress 2, called “Mannpower Mode”. It is a variation of Capture the Flag and it is currently available in the beta map pool, accessible from the Play Beta Maps checkbox in Play Multiplayer. While it will change significantly over its development period, this beta launch corresponds with their Christmas promotion.

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Even though it's like Capture the Flag, there are some significant differences. First, similar to many other franchises, the objective is touch-return. Fans of Unreal Tournament, Halo, and many other franchises will know that this is different in two main ways: a dropped objective will return to base instant when it is touched by a defender, and the attacker's flag must be returned in to capture the opponent's one. Second, random critical hits are disabled.

Third, grappling hooks and power-ups? I am guessing the Valve wants TF2 to be more competitive in with the fast-paced shooter crowd, so they are finding ways to increase mobility and map control within the Team Fortress 2 ruleset. Of course, that is not a criticism about TF2's game design – quite the opposite; it is different, not worse. It is interesting to think about the relatively slow characters of TF2 being used in more of a higher-reward, lower-forgiveness game mode. The updates add mobility and incentives to use it, both rewarding flag returns as well as acquiring power-ups.

Team Fortress 2 is still free-to-play, but rarely free-toupee.

Rumor: AMD Could Power Nintendo's Next Console

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | December 23, 2014 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: x86, Nintendo, arm, amd

The tea leaves that WCCFTech have been reading are quite scattered, but they could be right. The weaker half is pulled from an interview between Shigeru Miyamoto and the Associated Press. At the very end, the creator of many Nintendo franchises states, “While we're busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be.”

Of course they do. That is not confirmation of a new console.

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Original Mario Bros. Screenshot Credit: Giant Bomb (Modified)

A bit earlier, he also states, “I think that maybe when we release the next hardware system, you can look forward to seeing Mario take on a new role or in a new game.”

This, on the other hand, sounds a little bit like they are iterating on game design ideas that will shape the next console. From what I understand, this is how Nintendo tends to work – they apparently engineer hardware around concept use cases. It could also be a mistake.

The rumor's stronger half is a statement from Devinder Kumar, the CFO of AMD.

“I will say that one [design win] is x86 and [another] is ARM, and at least one will [be] beyond gaming, right,” said Devinder Kumar, chief financial officer of AMD, at the Raymond James Financial technology conference. “But that is about as much as you going to get out me today. From the standpoint [of being] fair to [customers], it is their product, and they launch it. They are going to announce it and then […] you will find out that it is AMD’s APU that is being used in those products.”

So AMD has secured design wins from two companies, one gaming and the other is something else. Also, one design will be x86 and the other will be ARM-based. This could be an awkward co-incidence but, at the same time, there are not too many gaming companies around.

Also, if it is Nintendo, which architecture would they choose? x86 is the common instruction set amongst the PC and other two consoles, and it is easy to squeeze performance out of. On the other hand, Nintendo has been vocal about Apple and the mobile market, which could have them looking at ARM, especially if the system design is particularly abnormal. Beyond that, AMD could have offered Nintendo an absolute steal of a deal in an effort to get a high-profile customer associated with their ARM initiative.

Or, again, this could all be coincidence.

Source: WCCFTech

PCPer 10 Days of Christmas: Day 10 - Netgear X6 AC3200 Router

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2014 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: router, nighthawk x6, netgear, DSLR, Canon, 10 days of christmas

Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!

The staff here at PC Perspective couldn't decide on a final item for our 10 days series. We decided to do a post with two items to end with a bang (and extreme indecisiveness). Then, just before the post went live, one of the items was no longer available in the bundle that we considered a good deal. Thanks, universe, for stepping in and making us declare a single best deal... of the day. Our final recommendation is: a high-performance router!

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Router

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This tri-band, 6-antenna monster that is the Netgear Nighthawk X6 looks the part, and offers up to 3.2 Gbps performance from its three Wi-Fi data streams (one 600 Mb/s 2.4 GHz network and dual 1300 Mb/s 5 GHz networks).  It's powered by a dual-core 1 GHz CPU with 256 MB of RAM, has the usual 4-port Gigabit switch, and offers both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports on the back. It's an impressive piece of hardware with a price to match, just under $300.

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Router - Amazon.com ($288.99) - BHPhoto.com ($288.99)

If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an Amazon.com gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)

 

Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?

Console DRM Woes? Try Some Good Old PC Games Instead!

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 11:23 AM |
Tagged: Xbox live, retro, PlayStation network, pc gaming, GOG, gaming, DRM, console

With the outage over Christmas of both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (both pretty much restored, though it took Sony much longer to recover) many console gamers were unable to play.

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Screen captures of the official status from both networks this morning

Beyond online gaming even those attempting to play their own local games were often hampered by the inability of the DRM system to work, preventing the game from loading. Oh, DRM...who needs it? Not the person playing old games that don't use it!

While the term "retro gaming" will likely evoke images of an Atari 2600 or NES, it is retro gaming of the PC persuasion to which we direct our attention now. The website known as Good Old Games (GOG.com) sells many classic titles from distant and not so distant past, and everything sold is DRM free. Install, run; no internet connection required (after you use the internet to actually download the game, that is).

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The games are inexpensive as well, but get so much more so during the frequent sales the site promotes. One such sale is going on now, where various Square Enix-owned titles are 75% off, which puts them at $1.49 to $2.49 each. Take that, modern console gaming!

Quick Deal (Canada): 480GB Intel 730 SSD for $259.99 CDN

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 28, 2014 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Intel, ssd, ncix, directcanada, deals

A couple of Canadian stores, NCIX and DirectCanada, have marked down the Intel 730 SSD in both 240GB and 480GB models. While sites like Amazon and Newegg are selling it for $530 and $547, respectively, NCIX has the 480GB version on for $259.99 and the 240GB version for $169.99. DirectCanada is close, their price is about $10 more expensive for the 480GB and a few cents cheaper for the 240GB (480GB - $269.89 and 240GB - $169.95). This is even cheaper than the American Amazon price, which is going for $456.99 USD.

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You can see in Allyn's review from February, he really liked the drive. He notes that it is a bit hot and power hungry, but he also notes that the controller is overclocked and that is probably why you want to buy it. If you are Canadian, or are somehow able to make a purchase in Canada, this is a ridiculous price. For everyone else, who knows? It might be a sign that its price could drop altogether. Either that, or NCIX and DirectCanada just feel like throwing money around today.

Source: NCIX

PCPer 10 Days of Christmas: Day 9 - SteelSeries 6Gv2 Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2014 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: steelseries, mechanical keyboard, Keyboards, 6gv2, 10 days of christmas

Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!

Mechanical keyboards are popular these days, and complex enough to be confusing (just me?). Thankfully, our own Scott Michaud recently broke down the different keyswitches involved with the various keyboards, which should help with the difficult buying decision. Another thing that helps with difficult buying decisions? Letting us tell you what to buy! So for today's "10 days" pick, we're going with one of these mechanical keyboards.

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The SteelSeries 6Gv2 is a classic-looking keyboard (minus the beige color scheme of the 80's) that offers fast response and true mechanical switches, and is built to last with gold-plated switches and some of the heaviest construction I've seen. Best of all, it's consistently available for less than $100, which puts it on the more affordable side of these often pricey keyboards. So what kind of switches are in use here, exactly?

Cherry MX Black

The MX Black switch in action - notice how it actuates almost immediately (left)

The 6Gv2 uses a linear-mechanical switch (again, see Scott's article to know what the heck this all means) so it responds very quickly and allows for rapid presses of the same button. It does not offer the same feel of some of the other switches and isn't really designed for typing, though preferences differ widely here. Regardless, this keyboard is built like a tank, and even if you don't end up liking it as a keyboard it would make a serviceable (and compact) replacement to the classic baseball bat home-defense system.

If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an Amazon.com gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)

 

Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?

#GRIDTuesday Brings F1 2010 and Dirt Showdown

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, grid, geforce grid, f1 2010, dirt showdown

Okay, so I forgot about #GRIDTuesday for a little while. NVIDIA didn't. They have been releasing two games for the GRID service each and every week. You will need a SHIELD device to access it, which I don't have, and you will also need to be in a supported region. If you qualify in both criteria, then you can have access to NVIDIA's cloud-streamed game service for free (until June 30th). Since our post last month, which aligned with the release of Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon, eight new games have been added.

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The most recent inclusions, occurring two days before Christmas, were F1 2010 and Dirt Showdown. The previous Tuesday was Lego-themed, with LEGO The Hobbit and LEGO The Lord of the Rings joining the service. This followed the indie titles, Stacking and PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate on December 9th. Finally, December 2nd was Batman: Arkham Origins and LEGO Batman: The Video Game.

Now you're all caught up.

These are quite good games. Batman: Arkham Origins was released just about a year ago and enjoyed by most, especially fans of the franchise. Some have complained about bugs and glitches, but it is free in this promotional period, so why not?

This week brought the number of available games up to an even 30, and they are quite diverse. If you have a SHIELD device, and are in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe, then be sure to check it out.

Source: NVIDIA