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Giveaway! Take home a 20th Anniversary ASUS GeForce GTX 980!

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 4, 2015 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: GTX 980, giveaway, contest, asus, anniversary

I bet many of you are going to feel a little old as you read this, but ASUS is celebrating its 20th anniversary of being in the graphics card market! Starting in 1996, when ASUS launched its first discrete graphics product based on the S3 Virge/DX GPU and running through 2015 with the release of updated GTX 900-series and AMD Radeon 200-series cards, ASUS has been a pivotal part of the GPU landscape.

GiveAwayBanner_20thGTX980_2.jpg

To celebrate this achievement, ASUS built a new, gold, 20th anniversary edition of its GeForce GTX 980 product, limited to only 200 units in all of North America! And the best part? You can win one right here on PC Perspective for FREE!

asus20th-2.jpg

This amazing graphics card has some killer features:

  • GTX 980 GPU
  • 4GB GDDR5 memory at 7.0 GHz
  • 1317 MHz Base / 1431 MHz Boost clocks
  • 8+8-pin power connections
  • DirectCU II 0db Fan Technology
  • Memory Defroster
  • "Safe Mode" VBIOS reload
  • 14-phase Super Alloy power

asus20th-3.jpg

How do you enter for this prize? Pay attention, there are some specifics!

  1. First and foremost, you must be subscribed to the ASUS PCDIY email list, which you can sign up for at http://pcdiy.asus.com/. Repeat: this is a requirement!
     
  2. You must leave a comment on the news story here and tell us what you love about ASUS graphics cards or the new 20th anniversary GTX 980 Special Edition!
     
  3. This is a global contest - so feel free to enter from anywhere in the world!
     
  4. You can gain other entries by utilizing the Gleam.io form below!

PCPer / ASUS 20th Anniversary GTX 980 Contest

The contest will end on May 15th at 9pm ET so be sure to get your entries in early!

Source: ASUS

ASUS MG279Q 144 Hz Display Caps at 90 Hz with FreeSync

Subject: Displays | May 1, 2015 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, freesync, asus, mg279q

Early in April ASUS and AMD announced that the MG279Q display, first shown at CES in January, would be brought into the world of FreeSync and officially adopt AMD's branding. The original post from the AMD Twitter account clearly mentions the display would support 144 Hz refresh rates, an increase from the 120 Hz that ASUS claimed during CES.

amdfs-mg279q.jpg

Now however, we have some complications to deal with. According to a FAQ posted on the ASUS.com website, FreeSync variable refresh rates will only be supported in a range of 35 - 90 Hz.

Enable FreeSync™ in the MG279’s OSD setting, choose PC’s refresh rate timing between 35-90Hz (DP/miniDP only)

On the positive, that 35 Hz lower limit would be the best we have seen on any FreeSync monitor to date. And while the 90 Hz upper limit isn't awful (considering we have seen both 75 Hz and 144 Hz limits on current monitors), it does the beg the question as to why it would be LOWER than the 144 Hz quoted maximum overall refresh rate of the display.

The ASUS MG279Q is an IPS-style display so the quality of the screen should be top notch, but that doesn't alone answer why the upper FreeSync limit and upper refresh rate would not match. We already have the Acer Predator XB270HU G-Sync display in-house that operates at a variable refresh rate as high as 144 Hz with a similar quality IPS display. I've inquired to both AMD and ASUS about the reasoning for this 90 Hz limit, and we'll see if either side cares to comment prior to the display's release.

Source: ASUS
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Some Fresh Hope for 2016

SH SOTN has some eagle eyes and spotted the latest leaked roadmap for AMD.  These roadmaps cover both mobile and desktop, from 2015 through 2016.  There are obviously quite a few interesting tidbits of information here.

On the mobility roadmap we see the upcoming release of Carrizo, which we have been talking about since before CES.  This will be the very first HSA 1.0 compliant part to hit the market, and AMD has done some really interesting things with the design in terms of performance, power efficiency, and die size optimizations.  Carrizo will span the market from 15 watts to 35 watts TDP.  This is a mobile only part, but indications point to it being pretty competent overall.  This is a true SOC that will support all traditional I/O functions of older standalone southbridges.  Most believe that this part will be manufactured by GLOBALFOUNDIRES on their 28 nm HKMG process that is more tuned to AMD's APU needs.

amd_mobile_roadmpa.jpg

Carrizo-L will be based on the Puma+ architecture and will go from 10 watts to 15 watts TDP.  This will use the same FP4 BGA connection as the big Carrizo APU.  This should make these parts more palatable for OEMs as they do not have to differentiate the motherboard infrastructure.  Making things easier for OEMs will give more reasons for these folks to offer products based on Carrizo and Carrizo-L APUs.  The other big reason will be the GCN graphics compute units.  Puma+ is a very solid processor architecture for low power products, but these parts are still limited to the older 28 nm HKMG process from TSMC.

One interesting addition here is that AMD will be introducing their "Amur" APU for the low power and ultra-low power markets.  These will be comprised of four Cortex-A57 CPUs combined with AMD's GCN graphics units.  This will be the first time we see this combination, and the first time AMD has integrated with ARM since ATI spun off their mobile graphics to Qualcomm under the "Adreno" branding (anagram for "Radeon").  What is most interesting here is that this APU will be a 20 nm part most likely fabricated by TSMC.  This is not to say that Samsung or GLOBALFOUNDRIES might be producing it, but those companies are expending their energy on the 14 nm FinFET process that will be their bread and butter for years to come.  This will be a welcome addition to the mobile market (tablets and handhelds) and could be a nice profit center for AMD if they are able to release this in a timely manner.

2016 is when things get very interesting.  The Zen x86 design will dominate the upper 2/3 of the roadmap.  I had talked about Zen when we had some new diagram leaks yesterday, but now we get to see the first potential products based off of this architecture.  In mobile it will span from 5 watts to 35 watts TDP.  The performance and mainstream offerings will be the "Bristol Ridge" APU which will feature 4 Zen cores (or one Zen module) combined with the next gen GCN architecture.  This will be a 14nm part, and the assumption is that it will be GLOBALFOUNDRIES using 14nm FinFET LPP (Low Power Plus) that will be more tuned for larger APUs.  This will also be a full SOC.

The next APU will be codenamed "Basilisk" that will span the 5 watt to 15 watt range.  It will be comprised of 2 Zen cores (1/2 of a Zen module) and likely feature 2 to 4 MB of L3 cache, depending on power requirements.  This looks to be the first Skybridge set of APUs that will share the same infrastructure as the ARM based Amur SOC.  FT4 BGA is the basis for both the 2015 Amur and 2016 Basilisk SOCs.

Finally we have the first iteration of AMD's first ground up implementation of ARM's ARMv8-A ISA.  The "Styx" APU features the new K12 CPU cores that AMD has designed from scratch.  It too will feature the next generation GCN units as well as share the same FT4 BGA connection.  Many are anxiously watching this space to see if AMD can build a better mousetrap when it comes to licensing the ARM ISA (as have Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and others). 

The Desktop

2015 shows no difference in the performance desktop space, as it is still serviced by the now venerable Piledriver based FX parts on AM3+.  The only change we expect to see here is that there will be a handful of new motherboard offerings from the usual suspects that will include the new USB 3.1 functionality derived from a 3rd party controller.

amd_desktop_roadmap.jpg

Mainstream and Performance will utilize the upcoming Godavari APUs.  These are power and speed optimized APUs that are still based on the current Kaveri design.  These look to be a simple refresh/rebadge with a slight performance tweak.  Not exciting, but needs to happen for OEMs.

Low power will continue to be addressed by Beema based APUs.  These are regular Puma based cores (not Puma+).  AMD likely does not have the numbers to justify a new product in this rather small market.

2016 is when things get interesting again.  We see the release of the FM3 socket (final proof that AM3+ is dead) that will house the latest Zen based APUs.  At the top end we see "Summit Ridge" which will be composed of 8 Zen cores (or 2 Zen modules).  This will have 4 MB of L2 cache and 16 MB of L3 cache if our other leaks are correct.  These will be manufactured on 14nm FinFET LPE (the more appropriate process product for larger, more performance oriented parts).  These will not be SOCs.  We can expect these to be the basis of new Opterons as well, but there is obviously no confirmation of that on these particular slides.  This will be the first new product in some years from AMD that has the chance to compete with higher end desktop SKUs from Intel.

From there we have the lower power Bristol Ridge and Basilisk APUs that we already covered in the mobile discussion.  These look to be significant upgrades from the current Kaveri (and upcoming Godavari) APUs.  New graphics cores, new CPU cores, and new SOC implementations where necessary.

AMD will really be shaking up the game in 2016.  At the very least they will have proven that they can still change up their game and release higher end (and hopefully competitive) products.  AMD has enough revenue and cash on hand to survive through 2016 and 2017 at the rate they are going now.  We can only hope that this widescale change will allow AMD to make some significant inroads with OEMs on all levels.  Otherwise Intel is free to do what they want and what price they want across multiple markets.

Source of post/leak.

Podcast #347 - AMD Zen Architecture and Roadmap leaks, ARM Cortex-A72, budget Z97 board and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, pcper, .

PC Perspective Podcast #347 - 04/30/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Zen Architecture and Roadmap leaks, ARM Cortex-A72, a budget Z97 board and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

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

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

Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Don't be afraid of PCIe or NVMe

In very early April, Intel put a shot across the bow of the storage world with the release of the SSD 750 Series of storage devices. Using the PCI Express bus but taking advantage of the new NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) protocol, it drastically upgrades the capabilities of storage within modern PC platforms. In Allyn's review, for example, we saw read data transfer rates cross into the 2.6 GB/s range in sequential workloads and write rates over 1.2 GB/s sequentially. Even more impressive is the random I/O performance where the SSD 750 is literally 2x the speed of previous PCIe SSD options.

IMG_2051.JPG

A couple of weeks later we posted a story looking into the compatibility of the SSD 750 with different motherboards and chipsets. We found that booting from the SSD 750 Series products is indeed going to require specific motherboards and platforms simply due to the "new-ness" of the NVMe protocol. Officially, Intel is only going to support Z97 and X99 chipsets today but obviously you can expect all future chipsets to have proper NVMe integration. We did find a couple of outliers that allowed for bootability with the SSD 750, but I wouldn't count on it.

Assuming you have a Z97/X99 motherboard that properly supports NVMe drives, of which ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte seem to be on top of, what are the steps and processes necessary to get your system up and running on the Intel SSD 750? As it turns out, it's incredibly simple.

Step 1

Make sure you have enabled NVMe in the latest BIOS/UEFI. The screenshot below shows our ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard used during testing and that it is properly recognizing the device. There was no specific option to ENABLED NVMe here though we have seen instances where that is required.

Continue reading our overview of installing Windows on the Intel SSD 750 Series!!

Samsung 840 EVO Standalone ISO Updater Now Available

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo

For those of you following the Samsung 840 EVO saga, last week we saw the release of Magician 4.6. Samsung was initially throttling downloads and firmware update rates, but those limits appear to have been lifted as of this morning. Another thing we noticed this morning was the inclusion of the standalone ISO updater for those who are otherwise unable to run the Magician software (i.e. Mac users):

EXT0DB6Q ISO.png

For those on laptops or other devices with no optical drive, I've confirmed the ISO can be used via USB if placed there with a tool such as Rufus.

Note to Linux users:

There was an early report of complications from a user who was running a full disk fstrim during boot, where that operation was causing errors (corrected once that operation was disabled). It should be noted that full disk TRIM operations are redundant so long as the OS is issuing TRIM on-the-fly during regular file moves / deletions. This may be an issue with queued TRIM handling of the new 840 EVO firmware. If not reproduced / corrected by Samsung, the Linux devs may be able to add this firmware revision to the queued TRIM blacklist to possibly fix the problem on their end.

Note to mSATA 840 EVO users:

It appears the update does not currently apply to these. I've asked Samsung about this.

ASRock EPC612D4I Motherboard: Mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 with Quad-Channel DDR4

Subject: Motherboards | May 1, 2015 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: sodimm, quad-channel, mini-itx, EPC612D4I, ddr4, ASRock Rack, asrock

They finally did it! A new mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 has been announced by ASRock, the EPC612D4I, and this server-grade product will offer full quad-channel memory support with a switch to SoDIMM RAM.

EPC612D4I-R1.00_45.jpg

Image credit: Tom’s IT Pro

While ASRock had previously released a mini-ITX X99 motherboard (the X99E-ITX/ac) there were concessions made based on the limitations of the form-factor, and the motherboard was limited to dual-channel memory with only two DDR4 DIMM slots. So for a full quad-channel experience it became obvious that a switch to SoDIMM’s would be required. So are there any DDR4 SoDIMMs available? They certainly aren’t cheap, but a quick search for the model number of this new board finds a page from Crucial for compatible DDR4 modules – at a cost of $555.99 for a massive 32GB (4x8GB) of 1.2V DDR4-2133 ECC memory.

Specs for the EPC612D4I from ASRock:

  • LGA 2011 R3 Intel Xeon processor E5-1600/2600 v3 series
  • 4x SO-DIMM slots, supports quad-channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC
  • 4x SATA 6Gb/s by C612
  • 1x PCIe 3.0 x16                      
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Intel Dual GLAN (Intel i210 + Intel i217)

The new board was first reported by Tom's IT Pro and their article lists the retail price for the ASRock EPC612D4I at $265, which isn’t bad for a product like this. While definitely targeting the server market this could potentially be implemented for a very compact workstation setup (and allow creation of a PC to rival the diminutive Mac Pro, perhaps).

Source: ASRock
Manufacturer: Microsoft

DirectX 12 Has No More Secrets

The DirectX 12 API is finalized and the last of its features are known. Before the BUILD conference, the list consisted of Conservative Rasterization, Rasterizer Ordered Viewed, Typed UAV Load, Volume Tiled Resources, and a new Tiled Resources revision for non-volumetric content. When the GeForce GTX 980 launched, NVIDIA claimed it would be compatible with DirectX 12 features. Enthusiasts were skeptical, because Microsoft did not officially finalize the spec at the time.

Last week, Microsoft announced the last feature of the graphics API: Multiadapter.

We already knew that Multiadapter existed, at least to some extent. It is the part of the specification that allows developers to address multiple graphics adapters to split tasks between them. In DirectX 11 and earlier, secondary GPUs would remain idle unless the graphics driver sprinkled some magic fair dust on it with SLI, CrossFire, or Hybrid CrossFire. The only other way to access this dormant hardware was by spinning up an OpenCL (or similar compute API) context on the side.

Read on to see what DirectX 12 does differently...

Samsung's Galaxy refresh refreshes a bit too often

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2015 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s6, Galaxy S6 Edge

No company wants to hear their new flagship product has issues but unfortunately that has become all too common as financially gifted and tattooed Apple fans are well aware.  It would seem that Samsung is also having launch pains as users are seeing problems with RAM allocation.  The Inquirer reports that the phone will use up to 2.5GB for simple tasks, with Chrome being a major memory thief.  The programs do still run and the issue is not causing crashes, instead you can expect to see some stuttering and a lot of refreshes when you return to an app that has lost focus, even for a short time.  Samsung is aware of the problem and working on incremental updates which you can pick up via Update Now under Settings.

Samsung-galaxy-s6-edge-gold.jpg

"SAMSUNG HAS ADMITTED that the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are suffering performance problems due to a RAM management fault."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

BUILD 2015: Windows 10 10074 Released to Fast and Slow

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, build 2015, build 10074, BUILD

When Microsoft forked their build numbers into 100xx and 101xx lines, we predicted that they were preparing a version to release at BUILD 2015. We also predicted that it would be heavily tested and pushed to both Slow and Fast simultaneously, which would give a good entry point for developers and probably even enterprise evaluators. I was surprised when Microsoft released 10061 last week, and then updated it just two days ago (why???) with four patches, but we ended up being correct in the end.

windows-10.png

Microsoft has just released Windows 10 build 10074 to both Fast and Slow users. Its comes with a very small list of known issues, and they are much less severe than they were in previous releases. The first issue tells developers that Developer Mode needs to be enabled in Group Policy, rather than the place in Settings that it will eventually be. The next two issues are more severe: some games cannot be played in full screen and the People app is still broken. I am not sure how wide-spread “some games” is, but they plan to patch it via Windows Update “as soon as possible”.

One major fix is that now, when certain applications that play audio are minimized, they will continue to play audio. This bug made many media players, such as a few SoundCloud apps in the Windows Store as well as Microsoft's own Music app, pretty much useless. Until 10074, you would basically need to launch them, then cover them up with other windows if you wanted more screen real-estate.

microsoft-windows10-10074-start.jpg

If you were a fan of Aero from Windows 7, then you will like the blurred transparency effect of Start and the taskbar. Personally, while I think it looks nice, I was never really attached to that aspect of the Windows UI. Honestly, it used to drive me nuts when it kicked me out of games to complain about how it cannot properly manage 2GB of video memory, despite running perfectly fine if I select ignore. Hopefully that will not come back with it. But, if it is here without causing any problems, it does look pretty. Also, the Start Menu can now be manually resized to better arrange your apps. It also looks like the semi-horizontal layout is a great compromise between the Start Menu and the Start Screen for desktops.

So, as we expected, this build is what happens when Microsoft picks a target and mostly cleans up all of their relevant branches into a solid release. It is still a bit buggy here and there, but it feels better than 10049, which was itself better than 10041. That said, I also upgraded my NVIDIA drivers from 349.90 to 352.63; that could have something to do with it (although I am using the same Intel drivers).

There has not been too many announcements regarding features that are not present in 10074 though. It makes you wonder, at least a bit, how much will be added to the 101xx path until the OS finally launches.

Source: Microsoft
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: ARM

ARM Releases Cortex-A72 for Licensing

On February 3rd, ARM announced a slew of new designs, including the Cortex A72.  Few details were shared with us, but what we learned was that it could potentially redefine power and performance in the ARM ecosystem.  Ryan was invited to London to participate in a deep dive of what ARM has done to improve its position against market behemoth Intel in the very competitive mobile space.  Intel has a leg up on process technology with their 14nm Tri-Gate process, but they are continuing to work hard in making their x86 based processors more power efficient, while still maintaining good performance.  There are certain drawbacks to using an ISA that is focused on high performance computing rather than being designed from scratch to provide good performance with excellent energy efficiency.

arma72_01.jpg

ARM has been on a pretty good roll with their Cortex A9, A7, A15, A17, A53, and A57 parts over the past several years.  These designs have been utilized in a multitude of products and scenarios, with configurations that have scaled up to 16 cores.  While each iteration has improved upon the previous, ARM is facing the specter of Intel’s latest generation, highly efficient x86 SOCs based on the 2nd gen 14nm Tri-Gate process.  Several things have fallen into place for ARM to help them stay competitive, but we also cannot ignore the experience and design hours that have led to this product.

(Editor's Note: During my time with ARM last week it became very apparent that it is not standing still, not satisfied with its current status. With competition from Intel, Qualcomm and others ramping up over the next 12 months in both mobile and server markets, ARM will more than ever be depedent on the evolution of core design and GPU design to maintain advantages in performance and efficiency. As Josh will go into more detail here, the Cortex-A72 appears to be an incredibly impressive design and all indications and conversations I have had with others, outside of ARM, believe that it will be an incredibly successful product.)

 

Cortex A72: Highest Performance ARM Cortex

ARM has been ubiquitous for mobile applications since it first started selling licenses for their products in the 90s.  They were found everywhere it seemed, but most people wouldn’t recognize the name ARM because these chips were fabricated and sold by licensees under their own names.  Guys like Ti, Qualcomm, Apple, DEC and others all licensed and adopted ARM technology in one form or the other.

arma72_02.jpg

ARM’s importance grew dramatically with the introduction of increased complexity cellphones and smartphones.  They also gained attention through multimedia devices such as the Microsoft Zune.  What was once a fairly niche company with low performance, low power offerings became the 800 pound gorilla in the mobile market.  Billions of chips are sold yearly based on ARM technology.  To stay in that position ARM has worked aggressively on continually providing excellent power characteristics for their parts, but now they are really focusing on overall performance and capabilities to address, not only the smartphone market, but also the higher performance computing and server spaces that they want a significant presence in.

Click here to read the rest of the ARM Cortex-A72 Introduction.

Kubuntu drops the old KDE for the new Plasma 5 desktop environment

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2015 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: plasma, linux, kubuntu

Kubuntu came about when Ubuntu switched to the Unity desktop environment as a KDE based alternative, which as Linux.com points out caused much disgust due to bugs at launch and a less than attractive interface.  The newest version now uses the Plasma 5 environment, the first release to do so, replacing version 4 which has been in use almost decade now.  This distro still uses Dolphin as its file manager but now uses Simple Desktop Display Manager (SDDM) instead of KDM.  It also incorporates systemd, with these two changes users of Arch Linux will feel right at home.  Check out the review for a list of the programs it ships with as well as the ones that Linux.com added after the fact to make Kubuntu work best for their machines.

kubuntu-non-kde.jpg

"The latest version of Kubuntu, 15.04, aka Vivid Vervet was released last week and it's available for free download. With this release it has become the first major distro to ship Plasma 5 as the default desktop environment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

NZXT Announces the Noctis 450 Gaming Mid-Tower Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2015 - 09:29 PM |
Tagged: nzxt, Noctis 450, mid-tower, enclosure, case

NZXT proclaims that “bold is back” with their new enclosure design, a striking-looking case based (at least internally) on the popular H440.

Noctis-450-2560x1600-black2.jpg

The Noctis 450 takes the H440 and combines it with an angular external construction that looks similar to the company’s Phantom enclosure series. As the interior is identical to the H440 this new enclosure features the spacious interior and excellent cooling support from the previous model. As a nice addition the Noctis 450 adds a PWM fan controller (and includes 4 fans), further simplifying cooling for a build with this case.

NZXT has created a product video to showcase the new design:

In the appearance department the Noctis 450 really does look good (although style is always a personal thing), with dramatic black/red and the familiar NZXT white/black color schemes available to help accent the interesting angles, and there is an adjustable LED lighting system as well.

N450-case-white-right-open.jpg

Plenty of storage room (unless you're Allyn) with 5 slide-out HDD trays

The MSRP is set at $139.99 and the Noctis 450 is currently available for pre-order on the NZXT site.

Source: NZXT

GIGABYTE Enables 5th Gen Intel Core CPU Support for 9 Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | April 30, 2015 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel, Broadwell, h97, z97, bios, cpu, processor

GIGABYTE has announced support for the upcoming LGA 1150 variants of Intel's 5th-generation Core (Broadwell) processors for all existing 9-series motherboards via BIOS update.

GIGABYTE.jpg

The full press release appears below:


City of Industry, California, April 30th, 2015 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire line-up of Z97 and H97 motherboards now support the soon-to-launch 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors.

GIGABYTE engineers have tested and validated all GIGABYTE 9 series motherboards including Z97 and H97 chipset-based motherboards to ensure optimal performance for 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. Users wanting to take advantage of all the features of 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processors have to offer at launch, simply need to download the latest UEFI BIOS from the GIGABYTE website.

To get the latest UEFI BIOS for your motherboard, please visit the GIGABYTE website: http://www.gigabyte.us

Source: GIGABYTE

HP Reinvents the AMD Desktop GPU line ... or at least leaks it

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: R9 380, R7 A360, R7 A330, leak, gpu, amd

HP announced their upcoming line up of desktops, including new Pavilions, ENVYs and a Spectre studio display with 4K resolution.  An astute reader noticed something else that they announced unintentionally, the models of three unreleased AMD GPUs.  The machines will be available starting on June 10th which even gives us a rough release time line.  The pricing does not reveal all that much as they reference the base models and so it is hard to know what, if any discrete GPU is in the base model.  

HPaio.GIF

The HP Pavilion All-in-One PCs will sport USB 3.0 and your choice of an AMD Radeon R7 A330 or an R7 A360.  As these are all in one PCs such as the one below you can expect these cards to represent the mid-range of AMD's upcoming lineup, though they could still put out a decent amount of power as the cooling in these systems is effective enough that HP offers models with Intel i7 and AMD A10 chips.

HPenvy.GIF

What most people will likely get excited about is in the HP ENVY and HP ENVY Phoenix Towers, the R9 380 which is offered as an alternative to the GTX 980.  These machines also offer USB 3.0 as well as an option for a 512GB SSD as opposed to a 3TB HDD.  The R9 380 will be powerful enough to handle the new 32" HP Spectre Studio Display, a 4K display with built in speakers and a viewing angle of 178° which implies an IPS display, albeit with an unknown refresh rate.

HPspectre.GIF

That is about all we know for now, but you can keep an eye out for more news about the R7 A330, R7 A360 and R9 380 right here.

Source: HP

Cirrus7 Shows Off Fanless Nimbini Broadwell NUC PC

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2015 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: cirrus7, SFF, nuc, broadwell-u, fanless

Next month, German manufacturer Cirrus7 will begin shipping its new Nimbini system. The Nimbini is an even smaller variant of the company’s small form factor Nimbus PC. This time, Cirrus7 has managed to pack a Intel NUC system into a fanless case with multiple layers of stacked laser cut aluminum panels that double as a heatsink for the internals. Even better, the Nimbini supports Intel’s Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon NUC boards, and supports Broadwell-U processors up to the 28W Core i7 models with Iris Graphics (e.g. the two core, four thread, Core i7-5557U with Iris Graphics 6100).

Cirrus7 Nimbini Fanless Broadwell NUC Case.jpg

The Nimbini will come as a complete system (150 x 150 x 87mm) preloaded with Windows or Ubuntu Linux operating systems or as a barebones DIY kit – which at upwards of 90 pieces (per FanlessTech) is not for the faint-of-heart! This case can be customized to add different covers and to vary the thickness of the case by adding or removing layers. The standard configuration leaves room for a 2.5” drive in addition to the usual M.2 SSD used with NUCs. If you aren’t using that second storage drive, you can make the case thinner or expand it for maximum cooling. While also aesthetically pleasing, the best part about the aluminum construction is that it is a fanless design which is perfect for a HTPC (home theater PC) or audio engineering setup. Cirrus7 claims to support up to 28W processor TDPs without any fans.

Cirrus7 Nimbini Fanless Broadwell NUC Case Back.jpg

Rear IO for the Intel Maple Canyon NUC installed in the layered Nimbini chassis.

Cirrus7 will being taking pre-orders in May. Among others, both the Rock Canyon (with its IR receiver and accompanying case window) and Maple Canyon internal hardware (NUC boards) with dual DisplayPort outputs will be on offer. Pricing has not yet been announced, but it looks promising if you are looking for a premium silent SFF PC.

Source: Cirrus7

Xigmatek Launches SFF Nebula C Cases In Several New Colors

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 3, 2015 - 09:33 PM |
Tagged: xigmatek, SFF case, SFF, nebula c, mini ITX

Looking for a cute and cuddly case? Xigmatek may have you covered with its latest Mini ITX-friendly Nebula C chassis which will soon be available in pink, purple, yellow, lime, and emerald colors.

Xigmatek Nebula C Angled.jpg

Measuring 305 mm (H) x 260 mm (W) x 260mm (D) or roughly 12" x 10" x 10", the Nebula C has a SECC Steel frame paired with an ABS plastic exterior. There is a power button nestled in the top right corner, front I/O (two USB 3.0 and two audio ports) on the right side, and a triangular orange cutout in the bottom left corner for aesthetic reasons. Apart from that, the Nebula C is smooth plastic with little in the way of vents, logos, or other garnishments. Cooling is handled by a large passive mesh vent on the bottom of the case and a single 120mm fan on the rear panel. There is space for regular ATX power supplies, two expansion slots, and external water cooling radiators by way of two rubber grommets.

Xigmatek Nebula C Internals.jpg

Internally, the Nebula C can hold a standard Mini ITX motherboard, a CPU heatsink up to 80mm tall, a full height graphics card up to 230mm in length, one 3.5" drive bay and one 2.5" bay. Using an adapter, you can fit a maximum of three 2.5" drives in this system. The support for ATX power supplies is nice to see as there are many more options in this space as well as better quality parts with lower noise at similar price points ( you would have to spend more money to get these features in a small form factor PSU where available).

Judging from Bit-Tech's review of the glossy white Nebula C, the case looks very easy to work with and the ability to remove all three side panels should make it easy to get at just about every bit of hardware without needing to take anything out of the case. They do note that cable management is a pain, and that a modular power supply is recommended. Since the motherboard is mounted on the bottom with the drive bays and PSU mounted above that, I can see how it could easy start to look like a rats nest in there if you don't plan ahead on this part of the build process. In all, it may be a worthy small form factor case if you have less than $100 and want something with a bit of color.

Xigmatek Nebula C Front IO.jpg

The refreshed Nebula C cases in pink, purple, lime, emerald, an yellow will be available soon. There is no official word on pricing or availability, but expect them to go for around $80 USD (if the glossy white version is any indication).

Source: Xigmatek

Falcon Northwest's Updated Tiki PC Packs A Punch

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 3, 2015 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: z97, xeon e5-2699v3, X99, tiki-z, tiki, SFF, liquid cooling, Haswell-E, falcon northwest, core i7-5960x

Falcon Northwest recently upped the hardware ante on its small form factor Tiki PC. Previously limited to Z97-based hardware, the company is now offering Tiki PCs with X99 motherboards. Even better, the Tiki can be configured with Intel’s Haswell-E Core i7-5000 or Haswell-EP Xeon  chips such as the Core i7-5960X or Xeon E5-2699V3.

tiki-with-blu-ray-hi.jpg

The updated Tiki maintains the same steel and aluminum case measuring 13” x 4” x 13” (HxWxD) with customizable paint work and a removable solid aluminum or granite base as its predecessors (e.g. Tiki-Z). External I/O options include the latest USB 3.1, eSATA, and Dual Intel Gigabit LAN ports. Internally, the Tiki has space for an Intel Z97 or X99 motherboard with a liquid cooled processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 (or 16GB DDR3 with Z97) memory, a dedicated graphics card up to an NVIDIA GTX TITAN X or Quadro and ample storage space in the form of four 2.5” drives or one 3.5” and two 2.5” drives.

Tiki X99 System with 36 threads.jpg

All this hardware amounts to an impressive amount performance in general – much less a small form factor system. At the upper echelon, the Xeon E5-2699V3 offers 18 cores (36 threads with HT) clocked at up to 3.6 GHz paired with 45MB of L3 cache. Paired with a Quadro card like the M6000, that is one powerful workstation!

The updated Tiki is aimed at gamers and workstation builds doing intensive workloads like CAD, 3D animation, and video production.

Tiki-open-quarter-hi.jpg

The downside to this stylish powerhouse is, of course, pricing – the Tiki is far from cheap and the boutique premium is quite evident here. Available now, the updated Tiki starts at $1,860 for a base level Z97 system with quad core CPU or $2,492 for an eight core X99-based system. Fully loaded, the Tiki tops $10,000. 

It is definitely an extremely niche product, but the engineering and styling is impressive all the same!

Kingston and Phison and Toshiba; oh my

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: Phison PS3110, 19nm, toshiba, toggle NAND, kingston hyper x, ssd

When you pick up a Kingston HyperX Savage SSD you have a choice of the barebones model at $122 for the 240GB model or you can pay an extra $25 for the upgrade kit which contains 2.5mm z-height adapter, a SATA 6Gb/s cable, a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter plate, Acronis True Image HD imaging software, a micro-screwdriver set, and a USB 3.0 enclosure with USB 3.0 cable.  That upgrade kit is perfect for those looking for an easy way to move their entire OS to the new SSD with a minimum of fuss.  Inside the drive is the Phison PS3110 controller with a 256MB DDR3-1600 cache and Toshiba's 19nm Toggle Mode NAND.  Hardware Canucks put the drive to the test and it shows huge improvements from the first generation, enough to put it in competition with offerings from OCZ, Intel and Crucial.  This demonstrates a faster evolution that competitors products but it does unfortunately come at a price that is a bit high compared to those competitors offerings.

board1_sm.jpg

"The affordable Kingston HyperX Savage is one of the first SSDs to use the new Phison PS3110 controller and the end results are extremely impressive to say the least."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Garbage Day on Steam Greenlight

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2015 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

If you have ever watched the movie Groundhog Day, then the premise of this game should be familiar. Garbage Day borrows its premise and lets the player do whatever they want for a day, and time resets. The game is said to justify the theme with a nuclear power accident, because the average person doesn't understand how nuclear energy works so why not?

In the movie, this gave Bill Murray countless opportunities, literally, to understand the town and figure out what he was supposed to do to move on with his life. This is the core of many video games, such as the Hitman franchise, but it is perceived as repeated failures. The game will supposedly have an end state to allow the player to break the cycle based on their actions. Unlike a stealth-action game however, it looks like it encourages goofing off as a means to soften the repetition.

It's an interesting thought and it's on Steam Greenlight, albeit without a (recent) demo.