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The price of upgrading, DDR4 starts to appear

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Memory | August 20, 2014 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: Haswell-E, G.Skill, ddr4-2800, ddr4-2666, ddr4-2400, ddr4-2133, ddr4, crucial, corsair

DDR4 is starting to arrive at NewEgg and some kits are actually in stock for those who want to be the first on their block to have these new DIMMs and can remortgage their home.  The price of Haswell-E CPUs and motherboards is as of yet unknown but looking over the past few years of Intel's new processors you can assume the flagship processor will be around $999.99 with the feature rich motherboards starting around $200 and quickly raising from there.

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Both G.SKILL and Crucial have lead with 32GB kits in DDR4-2133 and DDR4-2400 and as you can see the price for their DIMMs and most likely the competitions will be between $450 to $500.

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At the 16GB mark you have more choices with Corsair joining in and a range of speeds that go up to DDR4-2800 as well as your choice of a pair of 8GB DIMMs or four 4GB DIMMs.  Corsair was kind enough to list the timings, the DDR4-2666 @ 15-17-17-35 and the DDR4-2800 @ 16-18-18-36 though you will certainly pay a price for the RAM with the highest frequencies.

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For those on a budget it would seem like waiting is your best choice, especially as Amazon is offering a limited selection of the new kits, as there is only a single 8GB kit from Crucial although you can buy two of the single DIMMs without heatspreaders for $110. 

Intel product releases are always dearly priced, the introduction of a new generation of RAM is both exciting and daunting. You will see power reductions, base frequencies that were uncommon in DDR3 and very likely an increase in the ability to overclock these DIMMs but it is going to cost you.  If Haswell-E is in your sights you should start planning on how to afford replacing your CPU, motherboard and RAM at the same time as this is no refresh this is a whole new product line.

Source: NewEgg

Watch_Dogs_revisited

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: gaming, watch_dogs, 4k

After three months, two patches, driver updates and many a flamewar, [H]ard|OCP has posted their complete performance review of Watch_Dogs.  From the mighty Titan to the much more reasonably priced R9 270 almost a dozen cards performance is tested on this much hyped game.  The high end cards were paired and tested in 4k resolution with the R9 290X CrossFire setup coming out on top and holding that lead when tested in single GPU configurations at 2560x1600.  Indeed even at 1080p AMD was able to provide higher quality settings with an acceptable price in performance.  Read the full review to see the visual effects of the various graphics settings as well as the preferred cards at the various resolutions.

After the podcast tonight, or indeed just about any night, you can find some of the Fragging Frogs online playing a variety of games.  If you haven't checked them out yet you can learn all you need to know about joining up with one of the most fun group of gamers online right here.

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"We published a preview of Watch Dogs performance when it was released back in May this year. We have given this game time to mature. Now that a couple of game patches have been released, along with newer drivers from NVIDIA and AMD, it is time for our full performance and image quality comparison review."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Run Windows on Intel's Galileo

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: galileo, Intel, windows, SoC

Intel's first generation low powered SoC which goes by the name of Galileo and is powered by a 400MHz Quark X1000 is now capable of running Windows with the help of the latest firmware update.  Therefore if you are familiar enough with their tweaked Arduino IDE you should be able to build a testbed for low powered machines that will be running Windows.  You will want to have some time on hand, loading Windows to the microSD card can take up to two hours and those used to SSDs will be less than impressed with the boot times.  For developers this is not an issue and well worth the wait as it gives them a brand new tool to work with.  Pop by The Register for the full details of the firmware upgrade and installation process.

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"Windows fans can run their OS of choice on Intel’s counter to Raspberry Pi, courtesy of an Intel firmware update."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

VIA's Rumored New "Isaiah II" Based x86 CPU Will Compete With Intel Bay Trail and AMD Kabini Chips

Subject: Processors | August 19, 2014 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: VIA, isaiah II, centaur technologies, centaur

VIA subsidiary Centaur Technology is rumored to be launching a new x86 processor at the end of August based on the "Isaiah II" architecture. This upcoming chip is a 64-bit SoC aimed at the mobile and low power space. So far, the only known implementation is a quad core version clocked at up to 2.0 GHz with a 2MB L2 cache. Benchmarks of the quad core Isaiah II-based processor recently appeared online, and if the SiSoft Sandra results hold true VIA has very competitive chip on its hands that outperforms Intel's Bay Trail Z3770 and holds its own against AMD's Jaguar-based Athlon 5350.

Centaur Technology.jpg

The SiSoft Sandra results below show the alleged Isaiah II quad core handily outmaneuvering Intel's Bay Trail SoC and trading wins with AMD's Athlon 5350. All three SoCs are quad core parts with integrated graphics solutions. The benchmarks were run on slightly different configurations as they do not share a motherboard or chipset in common. In the case of the VIA chip, it was paired with a motherboard using the VIA VX11H chipset).

Processor VIA Isaiah II Quad Core AMD Athlon 5350 Intel Atom Z3770
CPU Arithmetic 20.00 GOPS 22.66 GOPS 15.10 GOPS
CPU Multimedia 50.20 Mpix/s 47.56 Mpix/s 25.90 Mpix/s
Multicore Efficiency 3.10 GB/s 4.00 GB/s 1.70 GB/s
Cryptography (HS) 1.50 GB/s 1.48 GB/s 0.40 GB/s
PM Efficiency (ALU) 2.90 GIPS 2.88 GIPS 2.50 GIPS
Financial Analysis (DP FP64) 3.00 kOPT/S 3.64 kOPT/S 1.50 kOPT/S

For comparison, The Atom Z3770 is a quad core clocked at 1.46 GHz (2.39 GHz max turbo) with 2MB L2 cache and Intel HD Graphics clocked at up to 667 MHz supporting up to 4GB of 1066 MHz memory. Bay Trail is manufactured on a 22nm process and has a 2W SDP (Scenario Design Power). Further, the AMD "Kabini" Athlon 5350 features four Jaguar CPU cores clocked at 2.05 GHz, a 128-core GCN GPU clocked at 600 MHz, 2MB L2 cache, and support for 1600 MHz memory. AMD's Kabini SoC is a 28nm chip with a 25W TDP (Thermal Design Power). VIA's new chip allegedly supports modern instruction sets, including AVX 2.0, putting it on par with the AMD and Intel options. 

Processor VIA Isaiah II Quad Core AMD Athlon 5350 Intel Atom Z3770
CPU 4 Cores @ 2.00 GHz 4 Cores @ 2.05 GHz 4 Cores @ 1.46 GHz (up to 2.39 GHz turbo)
GPU ? 128 GCN Cores @ 600 MHz HD Graphics @ (up to) 667 MHz
Memory Support ? 1600 MHz 1066 MHz
L2 Cache 2 MB 2 MB 2 MB
TDP / SDP ? 25W 2W
Process Node ? 28nm 22nm
Price ? $55 $37

The SiSoft Sandra benchmarks spotted by TechPowerUp suggest that the Centaur Technology designed chip has potential. However, there are still several (important) unknowns at this point. Mainly, price and power usage. Also, the GPU VIA is using in the processor is still a mystery though Scott suspects an S3 GPU is possible through a partnership with HTC. 

The chip does seem to be offering up competitive performance, but pricing and power efficiency will play a major role in whether or not VIA gets any design wins with system OEMs. If I had to guess, the VIA chip will sit somewhere between the Intel and AMD offerings with the inclusion of motherboard chipset pushing it towards AMD's higher TDP.

If VIA prices it correctly, we could see the company making a slight comeback in the x86 market with consumer facing devices (particularly Windows 8.1 tablets). VIA has traditionally been known as the low power x86 licensee, and the new expanding mobile market is the ideal place for such a chip. Its past endeavors have not been well received (mainly due to timing and volume production/availability issues of the Nano processors), but I hope that Centaur Technology and VIA are able to pull this one off as I had started to forget the company existed (heh).

Source: TechPowerUp
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction and Features

Introduction

Today we are going from one extreme to another. Two months ago we took an in-depth look at Cooler Master’s Elite 110 enclosure, which is a compact small form-factor case designed to house a mini-ITX system. Now we are going to the opposite end of the spectrum and will be taking a detailed look at the largest case Cooler Master (or most anyone else for that matter) has released to date, the HAF Stacker 935 Modular-Tower Case. In addition, the good folks at Cooler Master sent along a HAF Stacker 915F to show off how easy it is to expand a HAF Stacker system by adding one or more HAF Stacker case modules.

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(Courtesy of Cooler Master)

Because this case is so large (we will actually be reviewing three different cases together: HAF 915F, 925 mid, and 915R) we are going to split the review into two parts. In Part 1 we are taking a detailed look at the three chassis (features, specifications, etc.) and the in Part 2 we will start installing parts and build a full-size ATX system along with a mini-ITX system and also look at various cooling solutions.  

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CM HAF Stacker 935 (HAF 925/HAF 915R)                   (3) HAF 915s Stacked

The Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 case consists of two pieces: a HAF 925 Mid-Tower enclosure and a HAF 915R mini-ITX case stacked together. The HAF 935 comes with the 915 mini-ITX chassis mounted on top of the HAF 925 Mid-Tower case but you can swap them around if you like because all of the HAF Stacker Series cases are interchangeable. This offers great flexibility for building multi-PCs in one chassis and provides a large amount of room for mounting all sorts of components like high-end water cooling systems, huge HDD arrays, etc. The HAF Stacker series can provide an excellent base system for some extreme case modding if desired.

Please continue reading our CM HAF Stacker 935 Case review!

Western Digital launches My Passport Metal Edition. 10th Anniversary Edition coming soon.

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2014 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: western digital, portable, my passport, hdd

It's the 10th anniversary of Western Digital's My Passport line. To celebrate the occasion, they have launched an updated series:

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The My Passport Ultra is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, in both 'Metal' and 'Anniversary' Editions. The aluminum enclosures have an old-school radio-dial style finish. Both editions communicate over USB 3.0. While the Anniversary model comes out in September, the Metal Edition is now shipping at $89 for 1TB and $139 for 2TB.

Full press blast after the break:

AMD squeezes 240GB onto a Radeon

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2014 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: amd, R7 240, ssd, radeon r7, barefoot 3, 19nm, toshiba mlc

We have seen the Barefoot 3 controller that AMD used in their first SSD before in OCZ's Vector 150, but not exactly like this.  The controller has been optimized to work with Toshiba's 19nm and is clocked slightly higher than the Vertex, though AMD will not say by how much.  That may account for the reduction in daily writes to 30GB/day and the warranty period to 4 years but as it is OCZ that is handling the warranty it is hard to determine the exact reasoning at this point.  On the plus side the MSRP is also reduced by $28 to $164 which still falls short of reaching the magic $0.50/GB mark.  The Tech Report tested the 240GB model here, as with other SSDs you can expect the 120GB to be slightly slower and the 480GB model to perform slightly faster.

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"AMD is getting into the storage business. The Radeon R7 SSD combines OCZ's Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba's 19-nm MLC NAND, custom firmware, and a snazzy new sticker. We take a quick look to see what's what."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

An odd Q2 for tablets and PCs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 19, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, gpu market share, q2 2014

Jon Peddie Research's latest Market Watch adds even more ironic humour to the media's continuing proclamations of the impending doom of the PC industry.  This quarter saw tablet sales decline while overall PCs were up and that was without any major releases to drive purchasers to adopt new technology.  While JPR does touch on the overall industry this report is focused on the sale of GPUs and APUs and happens to contain some great news for AMD.  They saw their overall share of the market increase by 11% from last quarter and by just over a percent of the entire market.  Intel saw a small rise in share though it does still hold the majority of the market as PCs with no discrete GPU are more likely to contain Intel's chips than AMDs.  That leaves NVIDIA who are still banking solely on discrete GPUs and saw over an 8% decline from last quarter and a decline of almost two percent in the total market.  Check out the other graphs in JPR's overview right here.

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"The big drop in graphics shipments in Q1 has been partially offset by a small rise this quarter. Shipments were up 3.2% quarter-to-quarter, and down 4.5% compared to the same quarter last year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Corsair Commander Mini Provides Ultimate Control of PC Cooling, Lighting, and Performance

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 19, 2014 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: corsair, corsair commander, Corsair Link, Corsair Link Digital

You are probably already familiar with the Corsair Link functionality in Corsair "i" series of PSUs as well as their self contained watercoolers which allows intelligent fan control from a software control panel.  Corsair Commander is an expansion of that tool, allowing control of fans and LEDs in addition to your PSU and CPU cooler, as long as they bear the Corsair Link Digital decal.  For $60 you can think of it as a powerful, if specialized, fan controller with a few other tricks up its sleeve.

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FREMONT, California —August 19, 2014 — Corsair, a worldwide leader in high-performance PC hardware components, today announced the availability of the Corsair Commander Mini control unit. The compact Commander Mini gives users the ability to connect and control multiple lights, fans, and other Corsair devices with an intuitive software interface.

Corsair Commander Mini
The Corsair Commander Mini is a centralized control unit for Corsair Link PC control and monitoring system. Equipped with four Corsair Link Digital ports, six fan control connectors, four temperature probe inputs, and a port for connecting Corsair Link LED lighting strips, Corsair Commander Mini lets users take complete control of their PC’s lighting and cooling. The unit is easy to install with an included mounting kit and connects to your PC via a standard SATA connector for power and an included cable to connect it to a USB 2.0 header on the PC’s motherboard.

Corsair Link gives ultimate PC control
Corsair Link marks an end to the days of case fans, component fans and case lighting that must be managed manually with hardware switches and dials, while simultaneously offering more advanced control and expansion options than motherboard BIOS settings. Everything is configurable from the PC’s desktop via the Corsair Link Dashboard software interface.

Precise Monitoring
Users can see how a system is operating at a glance with an unprecedented level of detail. Coolant temperature, ambient temperature (at multiple points), and the speed of case fans and fans built-in to compatible system components can be monitored, all via the Corsair Link Dashboard software.

A New Level of Control
Corsair Link gives PC users the power to manage fan speeds individually, set up customized cooling profiles, or program fans to respond to changes in ambient or component temperature. Lighting can be programmed to relay critical system information or to change the look of the system to provide an instant visual indicator of the selected cooling profile, or just for fun.

Expandable Eco-System
The Commander Mini fan controllers work with virtually any standard PC case fan, and the included temperature sensors can be placed nearly anywhere in a PC case. Expand your control by adding compatible peripherals, including Corsair i-Series liquid CPU coolers, i-Series power supplies, and DRAM cooling systems which feature the Corsair Link Digital logo.

Source: Corsair

Also, Corsair's Cherry MX RGB Launch Date Changed

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2014 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: corsair, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx rgb

So I actually did not see this until after I published the Razer story. Just a few hours ago, Corsair posted an announcement to their Facebook page that claimed a "cbange" in launch date for their Cherry MX RGB-based keyboards. I actually forgot that the K70 RGB Red was supposed to be out already, with availability listed as "late July" (the rest were scheduled to arrive in "late August"). Corsair does not yet have a new date, but will comment "in a few weeks".

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Got to say, that does look nice.

While, again, no further details are given, it sounds like a technical hurdle is holding back the launch. Corsair claims that they want the product to live up to expectations. This, of course, chips further at the company's exclusivity window and could put them in direct competition with Razer's custom design, and may even be available second, almost in spite of the exclusivity arrangement.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma Announced

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2014 - 09:17 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard

Earlier in the year, we reported on Corsair's exclusivity over Cherry MX RGB-based mechanical keyboards. The thing is, Razer develops their own switches and is not reliant on ZF Electronics (Cherry Corporation). The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma mechanical keyboard uses their own switches, not Cherry's, and is not subject to Corsair's exclusivity. The keyboard can be ordered now for $179.99 USD and will be available in September.

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I contacted Razer and asked them about their technology. They could not provide any direct comparison between their design and the Cherry MX RGB, but they were able to add a few details to their offering. The BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma was designed with its LEDs positioned away from moving parts and lined up with the keycap imprint. The LEDs are pointed upward for brightness.

Razer will be providing developers with Chroma SDK, allowing games and applications to control the Chroma-enabled device lighting to assist or immerse their users. I say "Chroma-enabled device" rather than "Chroma keyboards", because they already have plans for mice and headsets with the same technology. At the very least, they expect that users will appreciate coordinated colors across their gaming peripherals.

The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma is available to order, for $179.99 USD ($199.99 CDN), and ships in September. A Chroma-enabled mouse, based on the DeathAdder design, and a Chroma-enabled headset, based on the Kraken model, are announced but do not yet have pricing or availability information.

Source: Razer

Can you really have a wireless gaming mouse?

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2014 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, wireless gaming mouse, SteelSeries Sensei

Gaming mice have wires as it reduces input lag that would otherwise be the death of you while gaming.  Unfortunately for some this means they cannot sit on the couch streaming YouTube to their TVs since the wire on their mouse just isn't long enough.  SteelSeries claims to have overcome the technical problems of gaming wirelessly with their SteelSeries Sensei.  The software is definitely aimed at gamers, with an impressive array of settings to tweak and an impressive macro editor but that is not enough to solve the performance issues.  Believe it or not when TechGage compared it to a wired mouse they could not detect any difference whatsoever.  I would still recommend wearing pants while frying bacon regardless of your final mouse choice.

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"Want a high-performance wireless gaming mouse that doesn’t have its battery-life measured in seconds? Well, SteelSeries has released its renowned Sensei into the wild, free to run and frolic in grassy meadows, without the need of being tethered to unsightly cables. Does the result live up to our high expectations? There’s only one way to find out."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Techgage

Angelbird mixes style and performance with the wrk

Subject: Storage | August 18, 2014 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: 512GB, angelbird, silicon motion, SMI, ssd, wrk

The simple look and extra care that went into manufacturing the Angelbird wrk SSDs show that they are serious about breaking into the market.  They have launched at a price slightly higher than average for the market but also bring the best sequential reads that Al has seen yet on a SATA drive.  Legit Reviews pried the drive open to reveal the Silicon Motion SM2246EN SATA III 6Gbps SSD controller previously seen on Corsair, PNY, ADATA and Transcend SSDs, along with MLC flash and 256MB of DDR3 cache.  In Legit Reviews testing of the drive they concluded that you should pick up the 256GB or 512GB model for the extra performance that it brings, you will not be disappointed.

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"Angelbird might night be a household name, but the Austrian company has been around in the SSD market for a number of years and has gotten a reputation for having high quality products. When we found out that Angelbird was coming out with a new SSD product like called the SSD wrk we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one of these drives and see what Angelbird has to offer consumers. Read on to find out!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

A good old Gigabyte Overclocking Competition

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2014 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Extreme Overclocking Competition, overclocking

The weapons this year at Gigabyte's EOC were a Core i5-4690K and Core i7-4790K, Gigabyte Z97X-SOC FORCE LN2, Gigabyte HD7790, G.Skill TridentX F3-2933C12D-8GTXDG
and a Seasonic SSX-1200 Platinum PSU.  Team Awardfabrik hit 6578MHz on the i7-4790K with a mix of luck and skill while Team Switzerland took top spot for memory at 2106.3MHz.  Raw speed of one component is not enough to win this competition and when the nitrogen fog lifted it was Team HardwareLuxx with the overall win.  Check out what benchmarks were run and pictures and video from the event on MadShrimps.

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"Each year Gigabyte Germany organizes the Extreme Overclocking Competition. At the EOC the best overclocking teams of Germany have a chance to prove who is still king. The main organizer behind each event is Germany’s finest Roman Hartung also known as der8auer at HWBot.org. This year besides Gigabyte also G.Skill, Intel, Seasonic and Gelid solutions provided the required hardware and funds to allow this clash of the titans to take place at the Know Cube at the Heilbronn Tech University."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: MadShrimps
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Angelbird

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

You might have never heard of Angelbird - until now, that is. Angelbird Technologies GmbH is an SSD maker based out of Vorarlberg, Austria. Their product lines have historically focused around high end and Mac-based products, with a recent arch into portable SSDs (like their SSD2go line). Angelbird is known for their high build quality, and their products are assembled using a technique I can appreciate - vapor phase soldering - (seen here) a technique that puts the least possible thermal stress on the components, as well as ensuring all solder joints are oxygen free. While the vast majority of the their prior products have been build around SandForce controllers, today they have launched a new line, the SSD wrk:

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The Angelbird SSD wrk is built around a new (to them) controller, the SM2246EN from Silicon Motion:

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Silicon Motion prides themselves on making SSD controllers that deliver good performance at very low power consumption. For those wanting more detail on this particular controller technology, we have a detailed analysis from last August, available at this page.

Continue reading as we evaluate the new Angelbird SSD wrk!

Gigabyte's New Essence Chassis Enables Fanless Mini PCs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 17, 2014 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, gigabyte, fanless, essence, Bay Trail

Gigabyte recently rolled out a new small form factor case called the Essence for DIY PCs. The chassis measures 300mm x 234mm x 74mm (~11.8" x 9.2" x 2.9"), comes bundled with a 120W PSU, and will happily hold a Mini ITX motherboard and laptop-sized hard drive. Large mesh vents on the side panels allow for plenty of airflow and ventilation to run a fanless system.

Gigabyte Essence SFF Case.png

The Essence case uses a SECC frame along with ABS plastic. A rectangular base, which hosts the front IO ports, holds the machine vertically and at a slight backwards tilt. The DC power components are mounted to the bottom of the motherboard tray and are driven by a 120W external power supply (Similar to the type of setup the Xbox 360 uses). The red removable motherboard tray (accessible via the right side panel) allows you to screw in a Mini ITX motherboard and a single 2.5" SSD or HDD up to 9.5mm thick.

Gigabyte Essence SFF Case With Removable Motherboard Tray and Components Installed.jpg

The front IO includes two USB 2.0 ports, one headphone output, and one microphone jack. Aesthetically speaking, the Essence looks nice with its red faceplate, silver power button, and black mesh side panels with embossed shapes. It is small enough that it could easily sit next to a monitor and act as a low power desktop or next to the TV as a home theater PC. So long as you do not mind it not fitting into an AV rack/stack, this case could be used along with a cheap SSD and fanless Bay Trail or Kabini-based system for a silent media box or streaming client for Steam games. 

Gigabyte Essence SFF Case With Removable Motherboard Tray.jpg

The Gigabyte Essence is now available in Japan for 13,800 Yen or approximately $125 USD. It comes with a one year warranty. There is no word yet on availability in other countries at this time, however.

Source: FanlessTech

Falcon Northwest Tiki-Z Special Edition Crams Titan Z And Liquid Cooled i7-4790K CPU Into A Stylish Micro Tower

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 16, 2014 - 01:40 AM |
Tagged: titan z, tiki-z, gtx titan z, gk110, falcon northwest, dual gpu

The Tiki-Z Special Edition is the latest custom PC from boutique vendor Falcon Northwest. This high-end enthusiast system, which starts at $5,614 manages to pack a dual GPU graphics card, liquid cooled CPU, 600W power supply, and up to 6TB of storage into a stylish micro tower that measures a mere 4” wide and 13” tall.

Falcon Northwest has taken the original Tiki chassis and made several notable tweaks to accommodate NVIDIA’s latest dual GPU card: the GeForce GTX TITAN Z which we reviewed here. The case has a custom (partial) side window that shows off the graphics card. This window can be green glass or smoke tinted acrylic with customizable laser cut venting. A ducted intake feeds cool air to the graphics card and vents at the rear and front of the case exhaust hot air. The exterior of the case can be painted in any single color of automobile paint for free or with a fully customized paint scheme with artwork at an additional cost.

Falcon Northwest Tiki-Z Micro Tower.jpg

In addition to the Titan Z with its 5,760 CUDA cores, 12GB of memory, and 8.1 TFLOPS of peak compute power, Falcon Northwest has packed a modular small form factor 600W PSU from SilverStone, an ASUS Z97I Plus motherboard, Intel Core i7-4790K “Devil’s Canyon” CPU with liquid cooler, up to 16GB of DDR3 1866MHz memory from G.Skill, and up to 6TB of storage (two 1TB SSDs and one 4TB Western Digital Green hard drive). The i7-4970K comes stock clocked at 4GHz (4.4GHz max turbo), but can be overclocked by Falcon Northwest upon request.

Needless to say, that is a lot of hardware to cram into a PC that can easily sit next to your monitor at your desk or in your living room!

The engineering, artwork, and support of this high end system all come at a price, however. The new Titan Z powered boutique PC starts at $5,614 USD and is available now from Falcon Northwest. To sweeten the deal, for a limited time Falcon Northwest is including a free ASUS PB287Q 4K monitor (3820x2160, 60Hz, 1ms response time, see more specification in our review) with each Tiki-Z purchase.

This system is an impressive feat of engineering and it certainly looks sharp with the artwork, custom side panel, and compact form factor. My only concern from a usability standpoint would be noise from the cooling systems for the GPU, CPU radiator, and PSU. One also has to consider that the Titan Z graphics card by itself is priced at $3,000 which puts the Tiki Z pricing back into the somewhat sane world of boutique PC pricing (heh at about $2,600 for the system minus the GPU). No question, this is not going to be a system for everyone and will even be a niche product within the niche market of those enthusiasts interested in pre-built gaming systems. Even so, if noise levels can be held in check it will make for one powerful little gaming box!

Khronos Announces "Next" OpenGL & Releases OpenGL 4.5

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | August 15, 2014 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: siggraph 2014, Siggraph, OpenGL Next, opengl 4.5, opengl, nvidia, Mantle, Khronos, Intel, DirectX 12, amd

Let's be clear: there are two stories here. The first is the release of OpenGL 4.5 and the second is the announcement of the "Next Generation OpenGL Initiative". They both occur on the same press release, but they are two, different statements.

OpenGL 4.5 Released

OpenGL 4.5 expands the core specification with a few extensions. Compatible hardware, with OpenGL 4.5 drivers, will be guaranteed to support these. This includes features like direct_state_access, which allows accessing objects in a context without binding to it, and support of OpenGL ES3.1 features that are traditionally missing from OpenGL 4, which allows easier porting of OpenGL ES3.1 applications to OpenGL.

opengl_logo.jpg

It also adds a few new extensions as an option:

ARB_pipeline_statistics_query lets a developer ask the GPU what it has been doing. This could be useful for "profiling" an application (list completed work to identify optimization points).

ARB_sparse_buffer allows developers to perform calculations on pieces of generic buffers, without loading it all into memory. This is similar to ARB_sparse_textures... except that those are for textures. Buffers are useful for things like vertex data (and so forth).

ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query is apparently designed to let developers choose whether or not to draw objects based on whether the buffer is overflowed. I might be wrong, but it seems like this would be useful for deciding whether or not to draw objects generated by geometry shaders.

KHR_blend_equation_advanced allows new blending equations between objects. If you use Photoshop, this would be "multiply", "screen", "darken", "lighten", "difference", and so forth. On NVIDIA's side, this will be directly supported on Maxwell and Tegra K1 (and later). Fermi and Kepler will support the functionality, but the driver will perform the calculations with shaders. AMD has yet to comment, as far as I can tell.

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Image from NVIDIA GTC Presentation

If you are a developer, NVIDIA has launched 340.65 (340.23.01 for Linux) beta drivers for developers. If you are not looking to create OpenGL 4.5 applications, do not get this driver. You really should not have any use for it, at all.

Next Generation OpenGL Initiative Announced

The Khronos Group has also announced "a call for participation" to outline a new specification for graphics and compute. They want it to allow developers explicit control over CPU and GPU tasks, be multithreaded, have minimal overhead, have a common shader language, and "rigorous conformance testing". This sounds a lot like the design goals of Mantle (and what we know of DirectX 12).

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And really, from what I hear and understand, that is what OpenGL needs at this point. Graphics cards look nothing like they did a decade ago (or over two decades ago). They each have very similar interfaces and data structures, even if their fundamental architectures vary greatly. If we can draw a line in the sand, legacy APIs can be supported but not optimized heavily by the drivers. After a short time, available performance for legacy applications would be so high that it wouldn't matter, as long as they continue to run.

Add to it, next-generation drivers should be significantly easier to develop, considering the reduced error checking (and other responsibilities). As I said on Intel's DirectX 12 story, it is still unclear whether it will lead to enough performance increase to make most optimizations, such as those which increase workload or developer effort in exchange for queuing fewer GPU commands, unnecessary. We will need to wait for game developers to use it for a bit before we know.

The third incarnation of Microsoft's Pro Tablet Surfaces

Subject: Mobile | August 15, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: Surface Pro 3, microsoft

With a 12" 2160x1440 resolution screen, a 4th generation Core i3, i5 or i7 and a full version of Win 8.1 the new Surface Pro 3 is the best tablet offered by Microsoft so far.  Overall it is thinner but 1.5" larger than the Pro 3 with better resolution with a battery that should last about 8 hours while you are working, slightly longer when just browsing.  The Surface Pen is a nice addition to the dock and stand we have become familiar with.  Overall The Inquirer was fairly impressed with Microsoft's new offering, apart from the pricing which is rather prohibitive even before accessorizing.

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"THE SURFACE PRO 3 tablet brings some of the biggest and most welcome changes seen in the Surface tablet line yet, with a bigger and better 12in HD screen, a much thinner case and an improved keyboard and kickstand, meaning its never lived more up to its motto of "the tablet that can replace your laptop."

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Source: The Inquirer

Prying OpenGL to slip a little Mantle inside

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2014 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, Mantle, opengl, OpenGL Next

Along with his announcements about FreeSync, Richard Huddy also discussed OpenGL Next and its relationship with Mantle and the role it played in DirectX 12's development.  AMD has given Chronos Group, the developers of OpenGL, complete access to Mantle to help them integrate it into future versions of the API starting with OpenGL Next.  He also discussed the advantages of Mantle over DirectX, citing AMD's ability to update it much more frequently than Intel has done with DX.  With over 75 developers working on titles that take advantage of Mantle the interest is definitely there but it is uncertain if devs will actually benefit from an API which updates at a pace faster than a game can be developed.  Read on at The Tech Report.

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"At Siggraph yesterday, AMD's Richard Huddy gave us an update on Mantle, and he also revealed some interesting details about AMD's role in the development of the next-gen OpenGL API."

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