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WiFi Password sharing, a little known Windows Phone feature is about to hit the big time

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: Wi-Fi Sense, _optout, windows 10

Wi-Fi Sense has been a feature on phones running Windows 8.1, entering in your password on the phone would allow a computer logged in with the same Microsoft account to connect to your own wireless, with the password stored and encrypted on a Microsoft server.  It looks as though this feature will be available on all Windows 10 devices, sharing your wireless passwords with all of your Outlook, Skype and even Facebook contacts if you enable it.  This is certainly handy for when visiting as you will not need to ask for the wireless password at a friends house but does raise some security concerns.  If you happen to have Outlook contacts on your work machine which are not necessarily co-workers, they would be able to access your corporate network, as unfortunately would their contacts and even worse so could anyone who had compromised any of those accounts or machines.  The password is encrypted and not easy to access directly and the application does seem to limit access to WAN, somehow blocking access to the LAN even with proper credentials.  As The Register rightly points out, if a password is the totality of your access management protocols, you are already doing it wrong but this is something all users should be aware of.

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"A Windows 10 feature, Wi-Fi Sense, smells like a security risk: it shares Wi-Fi passwords with the user's contacts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Retail cards still suffer from the issue

In our review of AMD's latest flagship graphics card, the Radeon R9 Fury X, I noticed and commented on the unique sound that the card was producing during our testing. A high pitched whine, emanating from the pump of the self-contained water cooler designed by Cooler Master, was obvious from the moment our test system was powered on and remained constant during use. I talked with a couple of other reviewers about the issue before the launch of the card and it seemed that I wasn't alone. Looking around other reviews of the Fury X, most make mention of this squeal specifically.

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Noise from graphics cards come in many forms. There is the most obvious and common noise from on-board fans and the air it moves. Less frequently, but distinctly, the sound of inductor coil whine comes up. Fan noise spikes when the GPU gets hot, causing the fans to need to spin faster and move more air across the heatsink, which keeps everything running cool. Coil whine changes pitch based on the frame rate (and the frequency of power delivery on the card) and can be alleviated by using higher quality components on the board itself.

But the sound of our Fury X was unique: it was caused by the pump itself and it was constant. The noise it produced did not change as the load on the GPU varied. It was also 'pitchy' - a whine that seemed to pierce through other sounds in the office. A close analog might be the sound of an older, CRT TV or monitor that is left powered on without input.

In our review process, AMD told us the solution was fixed. In an email sent to the media just prior to the Fury X launch, an AMD rep stated:

In regards to the “pump whine”, AMD received feedback that during open bench testing some cards emit a mild “whining” noise.  This is normal for most high speed liquid cooling pumps; Usually the end user cannot hear the noise as the pumps are installed in the chassis, and the radiator fan is louder than the pump.  Since the AMD Radeon™ R9 Fury X radiator fan is near silent, this pump noise is more noticeable.  
 
The issue is limited to a very small batch of initial production samples and we have worked with the manufacturer to improve the acoustic profile of the pump.  This problem has been resolved and a fix added to production parts and is not an issue.

I would disagree that this is "normal" but even so, taking AMD at its word, I wrote that we heard the noise but also that AMD had claimed to have addressed it. Other reviewers noted the same comment from AMD, saying the result was fixed. But very quickly after launch some users were posting videos on YouTube and on forums with the same (or worse) sounds and noise. We had already started bringing in a pair of additional Fury X retail cards from Newegg in order to do some performance testing, so it seemed like a logical next step for us to test these retail cards in terms of pump noise as well.

First, let's get the bad news out of the way: both of the retail AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards that arrived in our offices exhibit 'worse' noise, in the form of both whining and buzzing, compared to our review sample. In this write up, I'll attempt to showcase the noise profile of the three Fury X cards in our possession, as well as how they compare to the Radeon R9 295X2 (another water cooled card) and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference design - added for comparison.

Continue reading our look into the pump noise of the AMD Fury X Graphics Card!

Small in stature, big in performance; CyberPower's Infinity Xtreme Cube

Subject: Systems | June 30, 2015 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, Infinity Xtreme Cube

The impressively name Infinity Xtreme Cube from CyberPower is a rather impressive machine and not just because of their use of a 400GB Intel 750 M.2 PCIe SSD for storage.  The system is built on a Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 with an i7-5820K processor, 16GB of HyperX DDR4-2400 in quad channel and a GTX 970 for video, not to mention the pair of 1TB HDDs in RAID0 for long term storage.  The components are housed in a Corsair Air 240 case 470x343x381mm (18.5x13.5x15") in size, not the easiest case to install your components in which makes it nice that someone does it for you.  You pay for the configuration and three year warranty but for those who want a working system to arrive at their door this review at Kitguru is worth looking at.  Hopefully based on the review CyberPower will make a slight change to the UEFI settings in future, changing the PCIe slot Configuration from AUTO to GEN3.

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"Today we look at a powerful, yet diminutive new system from UK system builder CyberPower called the Infinity Xtreme Cube. This system is built around the Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 motherboard – installed inside the tiny Corsair Air 240 chassis."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: KitGuru

A new type of switch on the Matias Tactile Pro

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: input, matias, tactile pro 4

The Matias Tactile Pro is made by a mysterious entity called The Keyboard Company but is branded as Matias.  It uses their own type of switches which they mention are ALPS inspired and MadShrimps found them to be almost as loud as a typewriter but without the ringing noise present in their previous switches.  This is a working keyboard as opposed to a gaming keyboard, worth looking at if you spend a lot of time typing or if you have a close office neighbour you want to drive insane.

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"The Keyboard Company has just started to bring in the Matias Tactile Pro and has lots of stock for potential enthusiast buyers. The newer v4 version is featuring re-engineered Matias Click switches compared to v3 and are meant to eliminate the ringing sound of the previous Fukka."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Mad Shrimps

ASUS Introduces STRIX GTX 980 Ti with DirectCU III Cooler and a Hefty Overclock

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 30, 2015 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: overclock, oc, GTX 980 Ti, DirectCU III, asus

ASUS has annouced a new STRIX edition of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, and this is one massive card in not only size (measuring 12" x 6" x 1.57") but in potential performance as well.

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First off, there is the new DirectCU III cooler, which offers 3 fans and a much larger overall design than that of the existing GTX 980 STRIX card. And there's good reason for the added cooling capacity: this card has one hefty overclock for a GTX 980 Ti, with a 1216 MHz Base and a whopping 1317 MHz Boost clock in "OC mode". The card's default mode is still quite a bit over reference with 1190 MHz Base and 1291 MHz Boost clocks (a reference 980 Ti has a Base of 1000 MHz and Boost clock of 1075 MHz). Memory with the STRIX 980 Ti is also overclocked, with 7200 MHz GDDR5 in both modes.

Features for this new card from ASUS:

  • 1317MHz GPU boost clock in OC mode with 7200MHz factory-overclocked memory speed for outstanding gaming experience
  • DirectCU III with Patented Triple Wing-Blade 0dB Fan Design delivers maximum air flow with 30% cooler and 3X quieter performance
  • AUTO-EXTREME Technology with 12+2 phase Super Alloy Power II delivers premium aerospace-grade quality and reliability
  • Pulsating STRIX LED makes a statement while adding style to your system
  • STRIX GPU-Fortifier relieves physical stress around the GPU in order to protect it
  • GPU Tweak II with Xsplit Gamecaster provides intuitive performance tweaking and lets you stream your gameplay instantly

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The new DirectCU III cooler

The 0dB fans (zero-RPM mode under less demanding workloads) are back with a new "wing-blade" design that promises greater static pressure. Power delivery is also improved with the 14-phase "Super Alloy Power II" components, which ASUS claims will provide 50% cooler thermals while reducing "component buzzing" by up to 2x under load.

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The previous DirectCU II cooler from the STRIX GTX 980

The new ASUS STRIX GTX 980 Ti Gaming card hasn't shown up on amazon yet, but it should be available soon for what I would expect to be around $699.

Source: ASUS

A fun day in the world of fibre connectivity

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: fibre optics

Two records were recently made with fibre optic connections, one for speed and one for length.  Researchers at Huawei and Proximus, who operate out of Belgium, recently transmitted data over a 1,040km fiber link at 1.4Tbps using Proximus' optical backbone.  Even more impressive for the network geeks out there was the spectral efficiency of the transmission, at 5.7 bits per second per Hertz, a new record for these researchers to be proud of.

Not to be out done, and putting Ryan's Ethernet run to shame, is a link that spanned 12,000 km (7,456 miles) without a repeater.  Certainly not at the speeds in the aforementioned link but a huge step in extending the reach of fibre based networks without the problems associated with simply increasing the strength of the signal.

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"Proximus and Huawei have successfully trialled a super-channel optical signal, flinging out information at up to one terabit per second (Tbps)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Lexar is Micron’s brand covering SD Cards, microSD Cards, USB flash drives, and card readers. Their card readers are known for being able to push high in the various speed grades, typically allowing transfers (for capable SD cards) much faster than what a typical built-in laptop or PC SD card reader is capable of. Today we will take a look at the Lexar ‘Professional Workflow’ line of flash memory connectivity options from Lexar.

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This is essentially a four-bay hub device that can accept various card readers or other types of devices (a USB flash storage device as opposed to just a reader, for example). The available readers range from SD to CF to Professional Grade CFast cards capable of over 500 MB/sec.

We will be looking at the following items today:

  • Professional Workflow HR2
    • Four-bay Thunderbolt™ 2/USB 3.0 reader and storage drive hub
  • Professional Workflow UR1
    • Three-slot microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow SR1
    • SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow CFR1
    • CompactFlash® USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow DD256
    • 256GB USB 3.0 Storage Drive

Note that since we were sampled these items, Lexar has begun shipping a newer version of the SR1. The SR2 is a SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II USB 3.0 reader. Since we had no UHS-II SD cards available to test, this difference would not impact any of our testing speed results. There is also an HR1 model which has only USB 3.0 support and no Thunderbolt, coming in at a significantly lower cost when compared with the HR2 (more on that later).

Continue reading for our review of all of the above!

Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

AMD fans have been patiently waiting for a proper FreeSync display to be released. The first round of displays using the Adaptive Sync variable refresh rate technology arrived with an ineffective or otherwise disabled overdrive feature, resulting in less than optimal pixel response times and overall visual quality, especially when operating in variable refresh rate modes. Meanwhile G-Sync users had overdrive functionality properly functioning , as well as a recently introduced 1440P IPS panel from Acer. The FreeSync camp was overdue for an IPS 1440P display superior to that first round of releases, hopefully with those overdrive issues corrected. Well it appears that ASUS, the makers of the ROG Swift, have just rectified that situation with a panel we can finally recommend to AMD users:

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Before we get into the full review, here is a sampling of our recent display reviews from both sides of the camp:

  • ASUS PG278Q 27in TN 1440P 144Hz G-Sync
  • Acer XB270H 27in TN 1080P 144Hz G-Sync
  • Acer XB280HK 28in TN 4K 60Hz G-Sync
  • Acer XB270HU 27in IPS 1440P 144Hz G-Sync
  • LG 34UM67 34in IPS 25x18 21:9 48-75Hz FreeSync
  • BenQ XL2730Z 27in TN 1440P 40-144Hz FreeSync
  • Acer XG270HU 27in TN 1440P 40-144Hz FreeSync
  • ASUS MG279Q 27in IPS 1440P 144Hz FreeSync(35-90Hz) < You are here

The reason for there being no minimum rating on the G-Sync panels above is explained in our article 'Dissecting G-Sync and FreeSync - How the Technologies Differ', though the short version is that G-Sync can effectively remain in VRR down to <1 FPS regardless of the hardware minimum of the display panel itself.

Continue reading as we will look at this new ASUS MG279Q 27" 144Hz 1440P IPS FreeSync display!

Samsung Publishes Battery Enhancement Tech with Silicon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 26, 2015 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, battery

When I was in my Physics program, there was a running joke that the word “Nano” should be a red flag when reading research papers. This one has graphene and nanoparticles, but it lacks quantum dots and it looks privately funded by a company, so we might be good. Kidding aside, while I have little experience with battery technology, they claim to have surrounded silicon anodes for lithium batteries with a layer of graphene.

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Image Credit: Samsung via Nature

This addition of graphene is said to counteract an issue where silicon expands as it is used and recharged. The paper, which again is the first source that I have seen discuss this issue, says that other attempts at using silicon adds vacant space around the anode for future growth. If you can keep the material at the same volume over its lifespan, you will be able to store more electricity in smaller devices. I wonder why Samsung would want something like that...

Source: Nature
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Various

Business Model Based on Partnerships

Alexandru Voica works for Imagination Technologies. His background includes research in computer graphics at the School of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna in Pisa and a brief stint as a CPU engineer, working on several high-profile 32-bit processors used in many mobile and embedded devices today. You can follow Alex on Twitter @alexvoica.

Some months ago my colleague Rys Sommefeldt wrote an article offering his (deeply) technical perspective on how a chip gets made, from R&D to manufacturing. While his bildungsroman production covers a lot of the engineering details behind silicon production, it is light on the business side of things; and that is a good thing because it gives me opportunity to steal some of his spotlight!

This article will give you a breakdown of the IP licensing model, describing the major players and the relationships between them. It is not designed to be a complete guide by any means and some parts might already sound familiar, but I hope it is a comprehensive overview that can be used by anyone who is new to product manufacturing in general.

The diagram below offers an analysis of the main categories of companies involved in the semiconductor food chain. Although I’m going to attempt to paint a broad picture, I will mainly offer examples based on the ecosystem formed around Imagination (since that is what I know best).

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A simplified view of the manufacturing chain

Let’s work our way from left to right.

IP vendors

Traditionally, these are the companies that design and sell silicon IP. ARM and Imagination Technologies are perhaps the most renowned for their sub-brands: Cortex CPU + Mali GPU and MIPS CPU + PowerVR GPU, respectively.

Given the rapid evolution of the semiconductor market, such companies continue to evolve their business models beyond point solutions to become one-stop shops that offer more than for a wide variety of IP cores and platforms, comprising CPUs, graphics, video, connectivity, cloud software and more.

Continue reading The IP licensing business model. A love story. on PC Perspective!!

The LEPA AquaChanger 240 AIO CPU Cooler, marketing or magnificence?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 26, 2015 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: water cooler, lepa, AquaChanger 240, AIO

This particular watercooler comes with long list of features which sound interesting on paper but need to be tested to see how effective they really are.  The fans are very effective at pushing air through the radiator but [H]ard|OCP found them a bit loud, on the other hand the pump could not be heard at all so if you were to modify the fan speed you could have a very quiet cooler, at the cost of some performance.  The cooling performance was almost exactly the same as the SilverStone Tundra TD02-E but the LEPA is available for under $100 which makes it a better value while still retaining decent performance. 

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"LEPA comes to us today with its new AquaChanger 240 AIO CPU Cooler for review. LEPA lists a lot of cool sounding features like, Central Diffusing Passage Cold Plate, Protrusive Copper Base, Dual Convex Blade Fans, Ceramic Bearing Pump, and maybe the best is Anti-Leakage Tubing...because nobody likes leaky tubing."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Windows Hololens is headed to space

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2015 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, hololens

The new Windows Hololens will be headed to the ISS to let the NASA ground crew see through the eyes of astronauts onboard and even to annotate the view in real time.  Instead of using cameras and audio instructions, an astronaut could look at a peice of equipment and the engineer on the ground could overlay a visual of what repairs or changes would need to be completed, or text annotations giving details of the equipment.  One can only hope that the public might one day get a chance to see the ISS through the eyes of someone onboard.  The Inquirer also mentions several other projects the Hololens will be used in, from virtual tours of Mars to use in an underwater training facility to make the illusion of being in orbit even more convincing and valuable as training for future astronauts.  These devices will be wonderful for gaming but there are many other applications that they will be used for.

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"Early demonstrations of Hololens included scenarios involving NASA researchers walking virtually on the surface of Mars through a sister project called OnSight, but now the idea has been extended to real-life interaction with ISS astronauts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Report: No Stock Cooler Bundled with Intel Skylake-K Unlocked CPUs

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2015 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: skylake-s, Skylake-K, Intel Skylake, cpu cooler

A report from Chinese-language site XFastest contains a slide reportedly showing Intel's cooling strategy for upcoming retail HEDT (High-end Desktop) Skylake "K" processors.

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Typically Intel CPUs (outside of the current high-end enthusiast segment on LGA2011) have been packaged with one of Intel's ubiquitous standard performance air coolers, and this move to eliminate them from future unlocked SKUs makes sense for unlocked "K" series processors. The slide indicates that a 135W solution will be recommended, even if the TDP of the processor is still in the 91-95W range. The additional headroom is certainly advisable, and arguably the stock cooler never should have been used with products like the 4770K and 4790K, which more than push the limits of the stock cooler (and often allow 90 °C at load without overclocking in my experience with these high-end chips).

Aftermarket cooling (with AIO liquid CPU coolers in particular) has been essential for maximizing the performance of an unlocked CPU all along, so this news shouldn't effect the appeal of these upcoming CPUs for those interested in the latest Intel offerings (though it won't help enhance your collection of unused stock heatsinks).

Manufacturer: Seasonic

Introduction and Features

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It’s always a happy day at the PC Perspective Test Lab when the delivery truck drops off a new Seasonic power supply for evaluation! Seasonic is a well-known and highly respected OEM that produces some of the best PC power supplies on the market today. In addition to building power supplies for many big-name companies who re-brand the units with their own name, Seasonic also sells a full line of power supplies under the Seasonic name. Their new Snow Silent Series now includes two models, the original 1050W and the new 750W version we have up for review.

The Snow Silent Series power supplies feature a stylish white exterior along with top level Seasonic build quality. The Snow Silent-750 is a next generation XP-Series (XP2S) power supply that comes with fully modular cables and a 120mm cooling fan with Fluid Dynamic Bearings. It features an upgraded S3FC Hybrid Fan Control Circuit that provides fanless operation up to ~50% load. The Snow Silent-750 is designed to provide high efficiency (80 Plus Platinum certified) and tight voltage regulation with minimal AC ripple.

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Seasonic Snow Silent 750W PSU Key Features:

•    High efficiency, 80 Plus Platinum certified
•    Fully Modular Cable design with flat ribbon-style cables
•    Seasonic Patented DC Connector Panel with integrated VRMs
•    Upgraded Hybrid Silent Fan Control (S3FC: Fanless, Silent and Cooling)
•    120mm Fan with Fluid Dynamic Bearings (FDB)
•    Ultra-tight voltage regulation (+2% and -0% +12V rail)
•    Supports multi-GPU technologies (four PCI-E 6+2 p connectors)
•    High reliability 105°C Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
•    Active PFC (0.99 PF typical) with Universal AC input
•    Dual sided PCB layout with dual copper bars
•    Energy Star and ErP Lot 6 2013 compliance
•    7-Year manufacturer's warranty worldwide

Please continue reading our Seasonic Snow Silent-750 power supply review!

Samsung's M.2 SM951 PCIe SSD appears for sale and is worth every penny

Subject: Storage | June 25, 2015 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: SM951, Samsung, PCIe SSD, M.2

Samsung's M.2 SM951 PCIe SSD was never originally intended to be sold on its own but thankfully the 128, 256 and 512GB models are showing up on Newegg and other sites and the speeds it can reach are very impressive.  The Tech Report tested the 512GB model and saw it beat the Intel 750 Series in IOMeter at a queue depth of one, though the Intel SSD still shows off its prowess at higher queue depths.  Their testing showed that the speed of the flash produces enough heat that the drive throttles itself so you should consider rigging an active cooling solution if you do pick up this drive.  Check out their full review to see some very impressive numbers and boot times.

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"Samsung's SM951 SSD squeezes a quad-lane PCIe Gen3 interface onto a diminutive M.2 form factor. It offers incredible performance under the right conditions, but it also struggles in some scenarios. Our in-depth review explains the drive's strengths, weaknesses, and unique enthusiast appeal."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Podcast #355 - AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, fury x, Fury, Fiji, nvidia, gtx 980ti, maxwell, gm200, batman, arkham knight, gameworks, r9 390, sapphire, nitro, Intel, Braswell, Cherry Trail, Lenovo, thinkcentre

PC Perspective Podcast #355 - 06/25/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight 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, Josh Walrath, Sebastian Peak, and Allyn Malventano

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

Rounding out the Fiji reviews, Fury X on tour

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 25, 2015 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: 4GB, amd, Fiji, Fury, fury x, hbm, R9, radeon

[H]ard|OCP used a slightly different configuration to test the new R9 Fury X, an i7-3770K on an ASUS PB287Q as opposed to an i7-3960X and an ASUS P9X79, the SSD is slightly different but the RAM remains the same at 16GB of DDR3-1600.   [H] also used the same driver as we did and found similar difficulties using it with R9-2xx cards which is why that card was tested with the Catalyst 15.5 Beta.   When testing The Witcher 3 the GTX 980 Ti came out on top overall but it is worth noting the Fury's 70% performance increase over the 290X when HairWorks was enabled.  Their overall conclusions matched what Ryan saw, read them for yourself right here.

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"We review AMD's new Fiji GPU comprising the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury X video card with stacked chip technology High Bandwidth Memory. We take this video card through its paces, make comparisons and find out what it can do for us in real world gameplay. Is this $649 video card competitive? Is it truly geared for 4K gaming as AMD says?"

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The rumours of ECS's withdrawl were greatly exaggerated

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2015 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: msi, rumour

In response to the news yesterday that ECS would be withdrawing from the DIY motherboard market, Sunny Yang, President of ECS released a statement denying any accuracy to that rumour.  He cites their participation in Computex where they showed off some of their new LEET gaming motherboard in addition to the LIVA mini-PC which received far more attention from the press.  They will still have a lot of struggling to do to take market from ASRock, Gigabyte and ASUS, not to mention MSI.  Here is to hoping their new products stand out and that their Dragon gaming Ethernet solution really does help with latency.

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: ECS
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Zotac

Introduction and First Impressions

The Zotac ZBOX CI321 nano is a mini PC kit in the vein of the Intel NUC, and this version features a completely fanless design with built-in wireless for silent integration into just about any location. So is it fast enough to be an HTPC or desktop productivity machine? We will find out here.

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I have reviewed a couple of mini-PCs in the past few months, most recently the ECS LIVA X back in January. Though the LIVA X was not really fast enough to be used as a primary device it was small and inexpensive enough to be an viable product depending on a user’s needs. One attractive aspect of the LIVA designs, and any of the low-power computers introduced recently, is the passive nature of such systems. This has unfortunately resulted in the integration of some pretty low-performance CPUs to stay within thermal (and cost) limits, but this is beginning to change. The ZBOX nano we’re looking at today carries on the recent trend of incorporating slightly higher performance parts as its Intel Celeron processor (the 2961Y) is based on Haswell, and not the Atom cores at the heart of so many of these small systems.

Another parallel to the Intel NUC is the requirement to bring your own memory and storage, and the ZBOX CI321 nano accepts a pair of DDR3 SoDIMMs and 2.5” storage drives. The Intel Celeron 2961Y processor supports up to 1600 MHz dual-channel DDR3L which allows for much higher memory bandwidth than many other mini-PCs, and the storage controller supports SATA 6.0 Gbps which allows for higher performance than the eMMC storage found in a lot of mini-PCs, depending on the drive you choose to install. Of course your mileage will vary depending on the components selected to complete the build, but it shouldn’t be difficult to build a reasonably fast system.

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Continue reading our review of the Zotac ZBOX CI321 nano!!

Warner Bros. Suspends Arkham Knight PC Sales

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 24, 2015 - 10:10 PM |
Tagged: batman, wb games, consolitis, gameworks, pc gaming, nvidia, amd

Over the last few days, the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight has been receiving a lot of flak. Sites like PC Gamer were unable to review the game because they allege that Warner Brothers would not provide pre-release copies to journalists except for the PS4 version. This is often met with cynicism that can be akin to throwing darts in an unlit room with the assumption that a dartboard is in there somewhere. Other times, it is validated.

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Whether or not the lack of PC review copies was related, the consensus is that Arkham Knight is a broken game. After posting a troubleshooting guide on the forums to help users choose the appropriate settings, WB Games has pulled the plug and suspended the game's sales on Steam until the issues are patched.

TotalBiscuit weighs in on the issues with his latest "Port Report".

No-one seems to be talking about what the issue is. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't have the game myself so I cannot look and speculate based on debug information (which they probably disabled from the released game anyway). I could wildly speculate about DX11 limits from the number of elements on screen, but that is not based on any actual numbers. They could be really good at instancing and other tricks to keep the chunks of work being sent to the GPU as large as possible. I don't know. Whatever the issue is, it sounds pretty bad.

Source: WB Games