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This ASUS ROG X99 board comes with no reSTRIXions on GAMING

Subject: Motherboards | July 7, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, rog x99 strix gaming, X99

The relatively recent refresh of X99 motherboards have seen several features become standard including an RGB lightshow, USB 3.1 and U.2 ports, though the chipset itself remains unchanged.  [H]ard|OCP tried out ASUS' new ROG X99 Strix Gaming motherboard recently, even suffering for their fans while doing so.  That minor fingernail related incident aside the board proved quite capable, though perhaps not to the extreme level they were hoping to see.  In part that lies in the fact that this is a Gaming board as opposed to one of the extreme overclocking boards, which is also reflected in the pricing.  For those looking for a board that runs out of the box, with some overclocking potential it is worth looking at the full review; those hoping to play with LN2 may wish to shop around more.

1466881900BKdPeuqwWM_1_9_l.jpg

"ASUS’ ROG X99 STRIX GAMING motherboard adds a bit of bling to the ROG line and much needed fresh blood that comes with some cool features and a much lower price point than other ROG X99 chipset offerings. And it has all the pretty lights in any color you want, if that is your thing."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

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

Radeon Software 16.7.1 Adjustments

Last week we posted a story that looked at a problem found with the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card’s power consumption. The short version of the issue was that AMD’s new Polaris 10-based reference card was drawing more power than its stated 150 watt TDP and that it was drawing more power through the motherboard PCI Express slot that the connection was rated for. And sometimes that added power draw was significant, both at stock settings and overclocked. Seeing current draw over a connection rated at just 5.5A peaking over 7A at stock settings raised an alarm (validly) and our initial report detailed the problem very specifically.

AMD responded initially that “everything was fine here” but the company eventually saw the writing on the wall and started to work on potential solutions. The Radeon RX 480 is a very important product for the future of Radeon graphics and this was a launch that needs to be as perfect as it can be. Though the risk to users’ hardware with the higher than expected current draw is muted somewhat by motherboard-based over-current protection, it’s crazy to think that AMD actually believed that was the ideal scenario. Depending on the “circuit breaker” in any system to save you when standards exists for exactly that purpose is nuts.

powertesting.jpg

Today AMD has released a new driver, version 16.7.1, that actually introduces a pair of fixes for the problem. One of them is hard coded into the software and adjusts power draw from the different +12V sources (PCI Express slot and 6-pin connector) while the other is an optional flag in the software that is disabled by default.

Reconfiguring the power phase controller

The Radeon RX 480 uses a very common power controller (IR3567B) on its PCB to cycle through the 6 power phases providing electricity to the GPU itself. Allyn did some simple multimeter trace work to tell us which phases were connected to which sources and the result is seen below.

rx480-phases.jpg

The power controller is responsible for pacing the power coming in from the PCI Express slot and the 6-pin power connection to the GPU, in phases. Phases 1-3 come in from the power supply via the 6-pin connection, while phases 4-6 source power from the motherboard directly. At launch, the RX 480 drew nearly identical amounts of power from both the PEG slot and the 6-pin connection, essentially giving each of the 6 phases at work equal time.

That might seem okay, but it’s far from the standard of what we have seen in the past. In no other case have we measured a graphics card drawing equal power from the PEG slot as from an external power connector on the card. (Obviously for cards without external power connections, that’s a different discussion.) In general, with other AMD and NVIDIA based graphics cards, the motherboard slot would provide no more than 50-60 watts of power, while any above that would come from the 6/8-pin connections on the card. In many cases I saw that power draw through the PEG slot was as low as 20-30 watts if the external power connections provided a lot of overage for the target TDP of the product.

Continue reading our analysis of the new AMD 16.7.1. driver that fixed RX 480 power concerns!!

AMD Radeon Crimson 16.7.1 Software Released for RX 480 Power Issue

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: rx480, rx 480, Radeon RX 480, radeon, power draw, PCIe power, graphics drivers, driver, Crimson Edition 16.7.1, amd

As promised, AMD has released an updated driver for the RX 480 graphics card, and the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 promises a fix for the power consumption concerns we have been covering in-depth.

Note: We have published our full analysis of the new 16.7.1 driver, available here.

RX480_05.jpg

AMD lists these highlights for the new Crimson Edition 16.7.1 software:

"The Radeon RX 480’s power distribution has been improved for AMD reference boards, lowering the current drawn from the PCIe bus.

A new 'compatibility mode' UI toggle has been made available in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues.  This toggle is 'off' by default.

Performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the 'compatibility' toggle."

You can go directly to AMD's page for this updated driver from this direct link: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/desktop?os=Windows%2010%20-%2064

Source: AMD

Podcast #407 - RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: xbox play, video, Thrustmaster, technology, Samsung 840, rx 480, review, radeon 490, radeon, power, Polaris, podcast, pcper, news, Micron 9100 MAX SSD, lenovo thinkpad x1 yoga, Kinetic, gtx 1060, EVO, cooler, coolchip, alcantera

PC Perspective Podcast #407 - 07/07/2016

Join us this week as we discuss RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, and more!

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

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

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Kaspersky! (promo code pcper)

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

Program length: 1:47:16
  1. Week in Review:
  2. AD BREAK
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Canuck with no patience? Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 Gaming
  5. Closing/outro

microSD was just a flash in the pan; meet your new tiny storage overlord, Samsung's UFS cards

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: UFS, Samsung, microSD

Samsung just announced the first product based on the new Universal Flash Storage standard which will be making microSD cards as obsolete as your old mix tape.  They will come in sizes from 256GB down to 32GB but it is the speed of these new storage devices that will impress, not the density.  Samsung tells of sequential read speeds of up to 530MB/s, allowing you to dump HD quality video to a PC and random reads of 40,000 IOPS if you have a usage scenario which would read in such a manner.  For recording video you can expect up to 170MB/s sequential write speed or 35,000 random IOPS; 4K drone recordings won't be limited by bandwidth anymore. 

Unfortunately, as The Inquirer points out, no one can use these yet as we haven't a place to stick them.

UFS_02-0.jpg

"What UFS does mean already is that we'll start to see a bottleneck lifted in storage speeds in phones and tablets. As we've already seen, MicroSD doesn't cut it in the speed stakes, and it doesn't seem so long ago that we reported on torn down phones with 'internal' memory that was really just an SD card hidden away."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GP106 Preview

It’s probably not going to come as a surprise to anyone that reads the internet, but NVIDIA is officially taking the covers off its latest GeForce card in the Pascal family today, the GeForce GTX 1060. As the number scheme would suggest, this is a more budget-friendly version of NVIDIA’s latest architecture, lowering performance in line with expectations. The GP106-based GPU will still offer impressive specifications and capabilities and will probably push AMD’s new Radeon RX 480 to its limits.

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Let’s take a quick look at the card’s details.

  GTX 1060 RX 480 R9 390 R9 380 GTX 980 GTX 970 GTX 960 R9 Nano GTX 1070
GPU GP106 Polaris 10 Grenada Tonga GM204 GM204 GM206 Fiji XT GP104
GPU Cores 1280 2304 2560 1792 2048 1664 1024 4096 1920
Rated Clock 1506 MHz 1120 MHz 1000 MHz 970 MHz 1126 MHz 1050 MHz 1126 MHz up to 1000 MHz 1506 MHz
Texture Units 80 (?) 144 160 112 128 104 64 256 120
ROP Units 48 (?) 32 64 32 64 56 32 64 64
Memory 6GB 4GB
8GB
8GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 2GB 4GB 8GB
Memory Clock 8000 MHz 7000 MHz
8000 MHz
6000 MHz 5700 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 500 MHz 8000 MHz
Memory Interface 192-bit 256-bit 512-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 4096-bit (HBM) 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 192 GB/s 224 GB/s
256 GB/s
384 GB/s 182.4 GB/s 224 GB/s 196 GB/s 112 GB/s 512 GB/s 256 GB/s
TDP 120 watts 150 watts 275 watts 190 watts 165 watts 145 watts 120 watts 275 watts 150 watts
Peak Compute 3.85 TFLOPS 5.1 TFLOPS 5.1 TFLOPS 3.48 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 3.4 TFLOPS 2.3 TFLOPS 8.19 TFLOPS 5.7 TFLOPS
Transistor Count ? 5.7B 6.2B 5.0B 5.2B 5.2B 2.94B 8.9B 7.2B
Process Tech 16nm 14nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 16nm
MSRP (current) $249 $199 $299 $199 $379 $329 $279 $499 $379

The GeForce GTX 1060 will sport 1280 CUDA cores with a GPU Boost clock speed rated at 1.7 GHz. Though the card will be available in only 6GB varieties, the reference / Founders Edition will ship with 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8.0 GHz / 8 Gbps. With 1280 CUDA cores, the GP106 GPU is essentially one half of a GP104 in terms of compute capability. NVIDIA decided not to cut the memory interface in half though, instead going with a 192-bit design compared to the GP104 and its 256-bit option.

The rated GPU clock speeds paint an interesting picture for peak performance of the new card. At the rated boost clock speed, the GeForce GTX 1070 produces 6.46 TFLOPS of performance. The GTX 1060 by comparison will hit 4.35 TFLOPS, a 48% difference. The GTX 1080 offers nearly the same delta of performance above the GTX 1070; clearly NVIDIA has set the scale Pascal and product deviation.

NVIDIA wants us to compare the new GeForce GTX 1060 to the GeForce GTX 980 in gaming performance, but the peak theoretical performance results don’t really match up. The GeForce GTX 980 is rated at 4.61 TFLOPS at BASE clock speed, while the GTX 1060 doesn’t hit that number at its Boost clock. Obviously Pascal improves on performance with memory compression advancements, but the 192-bit memory bus is only able to run at 192 GB/s, compared to the 224 GB/s of the GTX 980. Obviously we’ll have to wait for performance result from our own testing to be sure, but it seems possible that NVIDIA’s performance claims might depend on technology like Simultaneous Multi-Projection and VR gaming to be validated.

Continue reading our preview of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060!!

This Has to Be Wrong... GP100 Titan P at Gamescom

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: titan, pascal, nvidia, gtx 1080 ti, gp102, GP100

Normally, I pose these sorts of rumors as “Well, here you go, and here's a grain of salt.” This one I'm fairly sure is bogus, at least to some extent. I could be wrong, but especially the GP100 aspects of it just doesn't make sense.

nvidia-2016-gp100tesla.jpg

Before I get to that, the rumor is that NVIDIA will announce a GeForce GTX Titan P at Gamescom in Germany. The event occurs mid-August (17th - 21st) and it has been basically Europe's E3 in terms of gaming announcements. It also overlaps with Europe's Game Developers Conference (GDC), which occurs in March for us. The rumor says that it will use GP100 (!?!) with either 12GB of VRAM, 16GB of VRAM, or two variants as we've seen with the Tesla P100 accelerator.

The rumor also acknowledges the previously rumored GP102 die, claims that it will be for the GTX 1080 Ti, and suggests that it will have up to 3840 CUDA cores. This is the same number of CUDA cores as the GP100, which is where I get confused. This would mean that NVIDIA made a special die, which other rumors claim is ~450mm2, for just the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

I mean, it's possible that NVIDIA would split the GTX 1080 Ti and the next Titan by similar gaming performance, just with better half- and double-precision performance and faster memory for GPGPU developers. That would be a very weird to me, though, developing two different GPU dies for the consumer market with probably the same gaming performance.

And they would be announcing the Titan P first???
The harder to yield one???
When the Tesla version isn't even expected until Q4???

I can see it happening, but I seriously doubt it. Something may be announced, but I'd have to believe it will be at least slightly different from the rumors that we are hearing now.

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Seems to Be Stepping Up RX 480 Support on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, graphics drivers, rx 480, Polaris

Linux support from AMD seems to be improving, as it has been on Windows. We'll be combining two separate, tiny stories into one, so bear with us. The first is from Fudzilla, and it states that AMD has AMDGPU-PRO 16.30 drivers for the RX 480 out on day one. It's nice to see that their Radeon driver initiative applies to Linux, too.

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That brings us to the second story, this one from Phoronix. One Windows, the Crimson 16.7.1 drivers will include a fix for the RX 480 power issues (which we will obviously test of course). Michael Larabel was apparently talking with AMD's Linux team, and it seems likely that this update will roll into the Linux driver as well. They "are still investigating", of course, but it is apparently on their radar.

Source: Phoronix

AMD Updates Its Users About RX 480 Power Issues

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 08:11 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, graphics drivers, amd

In the next 24 hours or so, AMD will publish Radeon Software 16.7.1, which addresses the power distribution issues in the AMD Radeon RX 480. The driver makes two major changes. First, AMD claims that it will lower the draw from the PCIe bus. While they don't explicitly say how, it sounds like it will increase the load on the 6-pin PCIe cable, which is typically over-provisioned. In fact, many power supplies have 6-pin connectors that have the extra two pins of an 8-pin connector hanging off of it.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

Second, seemingly for those who aren't comfortable with the extra load on the 6-pin PCIe connector, a UI control has been added to lower overall power. Being that the option's called “compatibility”, it sounds like it should put the RX 480 back into spec on both slot and the extra power connector. Again, AMD says that they believe it's not necessary, and it seems to be true, because that option is off by default.

amd-2016-rx480-candid.jpg

Beyond these changes, the driver also adds a bunch of game optimizations. Allyn and Ryan have been working on this coverage, so expect more content from them in the very near future.

Valve Announces TF2 "Meet Your Match" Update

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, tf2

Conveniently just after Overwatch received its Competitive Play update, Valve has announced the Meet Your Match update to Team Fortress 2. This update includes Competitive Mode, which is a ranked, 6v6 gametype, which sounds even more like Overwatch. Only the first day has been revealed thus far, as Valve likes to break update posts into chunks and release them over the course of a week, but it includes three maps, two achievements, and the official launch of the PASS Time game mode. The second part of the update is coming soon.

PASS Time was originally announced last year, in collaboration with Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams' production company) and Escalation Studios. While I've never played it (yes, I pretty much only play 2Fort...) it sounds similar to game modes like Bombing Run or Grifball. Obviously, those game modes are typically for more individual shooters, not TF2's class system, so it's interesting to see how, for instance, a Level 3 Sentry plays into it.

Source: Valve

Rumor: Reddit Finds Listings for RX 460, RX 470, RX 480, and "RADEON 490"

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, rx 460, rx 470, rx 480, RX 490, sapphire

Unfortunately, I don't have a Sapphire SSC ID, so I cannot verify these myself. That said, a Reddit user by the name of CBwardog found a few extra listings on the company's drop-down menu for products which really shouldn't exist yet. The product name doesn't really have much associated with it, but it does have video RAM and display outputs.

amd-2016-sapphirerxlineup-reddit-cbwardog.png

Image Credit: CBwardog on Reddit

According to Sapphire, the Radeon RX 460 will launch in 2GB and 4GB versions, each of which have one HDMI, one DVI, and one DisplayPort connector. The RX 470 will come in 4GB and 8GB versions. The 4GB version of the RX 470 will have HDMI and three DisplayPorts, while the 8GB version of the RX 470 will have two HDMI ports, one DVI port, and two DisplayPort connectors. Lastly, ignoring the RX 480 that we already know about, a “RADEON 490” (which an earlier leak by AMD called the RX 490) will be available in just an 8GB version, with one HDMI and three DisplayPorts.

As always, rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, it is possible that port configuration could be specific to Sapphire, as we've seen AIB partners modify outputs before, but you would think that there would be at least one reference design per model, so, chances are, it should be fairly uniform across vendors.

Source: Reddit

NVIDIA Releases 368.69 WHQL Drivers for Dirt Rally VR

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: VR, Oculus, nvidia, graphics drivers, DiRT Rally

A Game Ready Driver has just launched for DiRT Rally VR. GeForce Drivers 368.69 WHQL increments upon the last release, obviously adding optimizations for DiRT Rally VR, but it also includes a few new SLI profiles (Armored Warfare, Dangerous Golf, iRacing: Motorsport Simulator, Lost Ark, and Tiger Knight) and probably other bug fixes.

nvidia-geforce.png

The update doesn't yet have a release date, but it should be soon. According to NVIDIA's blog post, it sounds like it will come first to the Oculus Store, but arrive on Steam later this month. I haven't been following the game too heavily, but there doesn't seem to be any announcement about official HTC Vive support that I can find.

You can pick them up at NVIDIA's website or through GeForce Experience. Thankfully, the GeForce Experience 3 Beta seems to pick up on new drivers much quicker than the previous version.

Source: NVIDIA
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Micron
Tagged: U.2, ssd, pro, pcie, NVMe, micron, MAX, HHHL, 9100

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

It's been too long since we took a look at enterprise SSDs here at PC Perspective, so it's high time we get back to it! The delay has stemmed from some low-level re-engineering of our test suite to unlock some really cool QoS and Latency Percentile possibilities involving PACED workloads. We've also done a lot of work to distill hundreds of hours of test results into fewer yet more meaningful charts. More on that as we get into the article. For now, let's focus on today's test subject:

DSC01442.jpg

Behold the Micron 9100 MAX Series. Inside that unassuming 2.5" U.2 enclosure sits 4TB of flash and over 4GB of DRAM. It's capable of 3 GB/s reads, 2 GB/s writes, and 750,000 IOPS. All from inside that little silver box! There's not a lot more to say here because nobody is going to read much past that 3/4 MILLION IOPS figure I just slipped, so I'll just get into the rest of the article now :).

Specifications:

specs.png

The 9100's come in two flavors and form factors. The MAX series (1.2TB and 2.4TB in the above list) come with very high levels of performance and endurance, while the PRO series comes with lower overprovisioning, enabling higher capacity points for a given flash loadout (800GB, 1.6TB, 3.2TB). Those five different capacity / performance points are available in both PCIe (HHHL) and U.2 (2.5") form factors, making for 10 total available SKUs. All products are PCIe 3.0 x4, using NVMe as their protocol. They should all be bootable on systems capable of UEFI/NVMe BIOS enumeration.

Idle power consumption is a respectable 7W, while active consumption is selectable in 20W, 25W, and 'unlimited' increments. While >25W operation technically exceeds the PCIe specification for non-GPU devices, we know that the physical slot is capable of 75W for GPUs, so why can't SSDs have some more fun too! That said, even in unlimited mode, the 9100's should still stick relatively close to 25W and in our testing did not exceed 29W at any workload. Detailed power testing is coming to future enterprise articles, but for now, the extent will be what was measured and noted in this paragraph.

Packaging:

Our 9100 MAX samples came only in anti-static bags, so no fancy packaging to show here. Enterprise parts typically come in white/brown boxes with little flair.

Read on for our full review of the Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB U.2 Enterprise SSD!

Saturday July 9 10:00 AM ET - Fragging Frogs VLAN #13 is right around the corner

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, vlan, kick ass, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

That's right, it is time for another Fragging Frog VLAN, this time lucky number 13, kicking off this Saturday morning.  If you are at all interested in having the best possible Saturday ever then head to the forums and put your name in the list of attendees.  If you are not a member of the Forums for some bizarre reason you need to sign up ASAP as it is members and contributors of PCPer and the Fragging Frogs who are given first shot at games and prizes.  To that end you will need to post at least 5 times to our Forums between now and Saturday; pictures of SPAM not included.

FraggingFrogs.jpg

The list of possible games is already quite long, from UT2K4 up to the newly released Overwatch, by way of Battle both field-ish and Front-ian with many more on the list.  If you don't see one of your favourites post it to the thread and we will add it on.  Before joining in, make sure to check out this thread here for the information you need to hop onto the TeamSpeak server so you can chat with your fellow gamers.  You also need to join into the channel if you want to win any of the prizes which will be given away during the event.

2832655240977272601.jpeg

That's right, prizes and gaming!  The wonderful folks at AMD have sent over some mysterious parts for you to have a chance to win and several of the staff of PCPer have dug through their closets and sent out some of the gear we have reviewed recently.  What could these be?  Only one way to find out; see you on Saturday!

That ThinkPwn vulnerability extends beyond Lenovo as the fault is with the motherboard

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: ThinkPwn, Lenovo, gigabyte, 68-UD3H, z77x-ud5h, Z87MX-D3H, Z97-D3H, Intel, SMM

The ThinkPwn vulnerability which has been in the news lately, which allows attackers to disable Secure Boot and bypass Virtual Secure Mode on Win10 Enterprise as well as disabling flash write protection turns out not to be yet another questionable Lenovo feature.  Instead the problem lies with the motherboards UEFI, specifically the Intel System Management Mode implemented on Gigabyte motherboards.  So far the issue has been located on Z68-UD3H, Z77X-UD5H, Z87MX-D3H, and Z97-D3H but it is possible that the vulnerability exists on far more motherboards, perhaps even beyond Gigabyte as the flaw is in the Intel code.  The Register also postulates this could effect HP Pavilion machines as they use these boards as well.

lp486_2.gif

"Gigabyte has been swept into turmoil surrounding low-level security vulnerabilities that allows attackers to kill flash protection, secure boot, and tamper with firmware on PCs by Lenovo and other vendors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Thrustmaster

The New Corinthian Leather?

I really do not know what happened to me, but I used to hate racing games.  I mean, really hate them.  I played old, old racing games on Atari.  I had some of the first ones available on PC.  They did not appeal to me in the least.  Instant buyer’s remorse for the most part.  Then something strange happened.  3D graphics technology changed that opinion.  Not only did hardware accelerated 3D help me get over my dislike, but the improvements in physical simulations also allowed a greater depth of experience.  Throw in getting my first force feedback device and NFS: Porsche Unleashed and I was hooked from then on out.

tm_alc_01.jpg

The front of the box shows the lovely Ferrari 599XX supercar with the wheel in the foreground.

The itch to improve the driving experience only grows as time goes on.  More and more flashy looking titles are released, some of which actually improve upon the simulation with complex physics rewrites, all of which consume more horsepower from the CPU and GPU.  This then leads to more hardware upgrades.  The next thing a person knows they are ordering multiple monitors so they can just experience racing in Surround/Eyefinity (probably the best overall usage for the technology).

One bad thing about having a passion for something is that itch to improve the experience never goes away.  DiRT 2 inspired me to purchase my first FFB wheel, the TM Ferrari F420 model.  Several games later and my disappointment for the F420’s 270 degree steering had me pursue my next purchase which was a TX F458 Ferrari Edition racing wheel.  This featured the TX base, the stock/plastic Ferrari wheel, and the two pedal set.  This was a tremendous upgrade from the older TM F420 and the improvement to 900 degrees of rotation and far better FFB effects was tremendous.  Not only that, but the TX platform could be upgradeable.  The gate leading to madness was now open.

The TX base can fit a variety of 2 and 3 pedal systems, but the big push is towards the actual wheel itself.  Thrustmaster has several products that fit the base that feature a materials such as plastic, rubber, and leather.  These products go from $120 on up to around $150.  These are comprised of three GT style wheels and one F1 wheel.  All of them look pretty interesting and are a big step up from the bundled F458 replica that comes standard with the TX set.

tm_alc_02.jpg

The rear shows the rim itself at actual size.

I honestly had not thought about upgrading to any of these units as I was pleased with the feel and performance of the stock wheel.  It seemed to have fit my needs.  Then it happened.  Thrustmaster announced the Ferrari 599XX EVO wheel with honest-to-goodness Alcantara ™ construction.  The more I read about this wheel, the more I wanted it.  The only problem in my mind is that it is priced at a rather dramatic $179.  I had purchased the entire TX F458 setup on sale for only $280 some months before!  Was the purchase of the 599XX worth it?  Would it dramatically change my gaming experience?  I guess there is only one way to find out.  I hid the credit card statement and told my wife, “Hey, look what I got in for review!”

Click here to read the entire Thrusmaster 599XX EVO Alcantara Edition Wheel Review!

Vive, DisplayPort, and GP104 Apparently Don't Mix For Now

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:15 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, htc vive, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104

NVIDIA is working on a fix to allow the HTC Vive to be connected to the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 over DisplayPort. The HTC Vive apparently has the choice between HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, but the headset will not be identified when connected over that connection. Currently, the two workarounds are to connect the HTC Vive over HDMI, or use a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if your card's HDMI output is already occupied.

nvidia-2016-dreamhack-1080-stockphoto.png

It has apparently been an open issue for over a month now. That said, NVIDIA's Manuel Guzman has acknowledged the issue. Other threads claim that there are other displays that have a similar issue, and, within the last 24 hours, some users have experienced luck with modifying their motherboard's settings. I'd expect that it's something the can fix in an upcoming driver, though. For now, I guess plan your monitor outputs accordingly if you were planning on getting the HTC Vive.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Denies Rumor that RX 480 Has Disabled CUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, amd

Apparently, some people think that AMD will be releasing an RX 490 based on Polaris 10 with an extra four compute units, bringing the total number of stream processors to 2560. I'm guessing that people expected it to be a nice, round number or something, but that's not the case. According to Evan Groenke, Senior Product Manager at AMD, the die has 36 compute units, and there is “nothing else hidden on the product that end users might be looking forward to unlocking”.

amd-2016-rx480-candid.jpg

Really, this kind-of makes sense. AMD seems to have designed this chip around the performance target of VR, which the RX 480 hits. I don't think that it would really make sense to push about 11% more compute processors into the design, decreasing their yield per wafer for such a relatively small gain.

We are expecting an RX 490 card to land at some point though, thanks to a mistake in publishing on AMD's part. It won't be Polaris 10 or 11.

Razer Announces BlackWidow X Tournament Edition

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX

Well this is interesting. Razer has announced the BlackWidow X Tournament Edition, which is a new tenkeyless mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX Blue switches. This is interesting, because it does not use Razer's own switches -- not even as a customization (like the BlackWidow X Ultimate). You must use Cherry MX Blue. It's an interesting change, and I'm not sure why they did that, but they did.

razer-2016-blackwidowxte.png

Beyond that, it's a fairly standard keyboard. It doesn't have a number pad, but it does have a button to record macros on it. I personally do not like those ever since my original Razer BlackWidow. I would accidentally press the button, not realize it, then have everything I typed get spammed out for the next half hour, including passwords. I would assume Razer has fixed that issue in the last four-or-so years, but I haven't used their keyboards in a while. There might have even been an option to prevent it back then, but I never found it. Also, for some, a macro button is probably a nice feature, seeing as they've consistently included it.

The talk about Cherry Switches and Macro Keys aside, the keyboard seems like a pretty decent value. The Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition costs $69.99 and ships next week.

Source: Razer

Xbox Play Anywhere Has Been Formalized

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: xbox, windows 10, microsoft

Microsoft is launching Xbox Play Anywhere this fall, which allows games that are purchased on Xbox Store and Windows Store to be available on the other for no additional cost.

microsoft-2016-window10xboxplayanywhere.png

To our site, this means that these games will also be available on Windows 10. Moreover, Microsoft has announced that “every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.” So this means that, starting with Re-Core, Microsoft should publish all of their games on the PC.

Update (July 6th @ 3:33pm EDT): Turns out that it was updated to clarify "at this year's E3". So the list of games on XboxPlayAnywhere is all they're announcing so far.

That said, it will all be done through Windows Store, and so we'll need to remain concerned about the openness of that platform. The obvious example is when Games for Windows Live was shut down, bricking all software that the developer didn't patch out (or patch over to Steam). There's also concern about people being able to distribute software independently and anonymously as well.

That said, Microsoft is free to publish their own software however they like, and it's nice to see them supporting the PC again. I just want to make sure a strong, alternative platform exists (like Win32 or a strong Web standard) that cannot be (legally or technically) pivoted into Windows RT (or iOS), which forced all browsers to be re-skins of Internet Explorer (or Safari in iOS's case), forced content guidelines on games, etc. Someone will abuse any restrictions that are made, now or in the future.