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NVIDIA GeForce Driver 337.50 Early Results are Impressive

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 11, 2014 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, dx11, driver, 337.50

UPDATE: We have put together a much more comprehensive story based on the NVIDIA 337.50 driver that includes more cards and more games while also disputing the Total War: Rome II results seen here. Be sure to read it!!

When I spoke with NVIDIA after the announcement of DirectX 12 at GDC this past March, a lot of the discussion centered around a pending driver release that promised impressive performance advances with current DX11 hardware and DX11 games. 

What NVIDIA did want to focus on with us was the significant improvements that have been made on the efficiency and performance of DirectX 11.  When NVIDIA is questioned as to why they didn’t create their Mantle-like API if Microsoft was dragging its feet, they point to the vast improvements possible and made with existing APIs like DX11 and OpenGL. The idea is that rather than spend resources on creating a completely new API that needs to be integrated in a totally unique engine port (see Frostbite, CryEngine, etc.) NVIDIA has instead improved the performance, scaling, and predictability of DirectX 11.

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NVIDIA claims that these fixes are not game specific and will improve performance and efficiency for a lot of GeForce users. Even if that is the case, we will only really see these improvements surface in titles that have addressable CPU limits or very low end hardware, similar to how Mantle works today.

Lofty goals to be sure. This driver was released last week and I immediately wanted to test and verify many of these claims. However, a certain other graphics project kept me occupied most of the week and then a short jaunt to Dallas kept me from the task until yesterday. 

To be clear, I am planning to look at several more games and card configurations next week, but I thought it was worth sharing our first set of results. The test bed in use is the same as our standard GPU reviews.

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB
Graphics Drivers NVIDIA: 335.23 WHQL, 337.50 Beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

The most interesting claims from NVIDIA were spikes as high as 70%+ in Total War: Rome II, so I decided to start there. 

First up, let's take a look at the GTX 780 Ti SLI results, the flagship gaming card from NVIDIA.

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TWRome2_2560x1440_PLOT.png

With this title, running at the Extreme preset, jumps from an average frame rate of 59 FPS to 88 FPS, an increase of 48%! Frame rate variance does increase a bit with the faster average frame rate but it stays within limits of smoothness, but barely.

Next up, the GeForce GTX 770 SLI results.

TWRome2_2560x1440_OFPS.png

TWRome2_2560x1440_PER.png

TWRome2_2560x1440_PLOT.png

Results here are even more impressive as the pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards running in SLI jump from 29.5 average FPS to 51 FPS, an increase of 72%!! Even better, this occurs without any kind of frame rate variance increase and in fact, the blue line of the 337.50 driver is actually performing better in that perspective.

All of these tests were run with the latest patch on Total War: Rome II and I did specifically ask NVIDIA if there were any differences in the SLI profiles between these two drivers for this game. I was told absolutely not - this just happens to be the poster child example of changes NVIDIA has made with this DX11 efficiency push.

Of course, not all games are going to see performance improvements like this, or even improvements that are measurable at all. Just as we have seen with other driver enhancements over the years, different hardware configurations, image quality settings and even scenes used to test each game will shift the deltas considerably. I can tell you already that based on some results I have (but am holding for my story next week) performance improvements in other games are ranging from <5% up to 35%+. While those aren't reaching the 72% level we saw in Total War: Rome II above, these kinds of experience changes with driver updates are impressive to see.

Even though we are likely looking at the "best case" for NVIDIA's 337.50 driver changes with the Rome II results here, clearly there is merit behind what the company is pushing. We'll have more results next week!

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

SLI Testing

Let's see if I can start this story without sounding too much like a broken record when compared to the news post I wrote late last week on the subject of NVIDIA's new 337.50 driver. In March, while attending the Game Developer's Conference to learn about the upcoming DirectX 12 API, I sat down with NVIDIA to talk about changes coming to its graphics driver that would affect current users with shipping DX9, DX10 and DX11 games. 

As I wrote then:

What NVIDIA did want to focus on with us was the significant improvements that have been made on the efficiency and performance of DirectX 11.  When NVIDIA is questioned as to why they didn’t create their Mantle-like API if Microsoft was dragging its feet, they point to the vast improvements possible and made with existing APIs like DX11 and OpenGL. The idea is that rather than spend resources on creating a completely new API that needs to be integrated in a totally unique engine port (see Frostbite, CryEngine, etc.) NVIDIA has instead improved the performance, scaling, and predictability of DirectX 11.

NVIDIA claims that these fixes are not game specific and will improve performance and efficiency for a lot of GeForce users. Even if that is the case, we will only really see these improvements surface in titles that have addressable CPU limits or very low end hardware, similar to how Mantle works today.

In truth, this is something that both NVIDIA and AMD have likely been doing all along but NVIDIA has renewed purpose with the pressure that AMD's Mantle has placed on them, at least from a marketing and PR point of view. It turns out that the driver that starts to implement all of these efficiency changes is the recent 337.50 release and on Friday I wrote up a short story that tested a particularly good example of the performance changes, Total War: Rome II, with a promise to follow up this week with additional hardware and games. (As it turns out, results from Rome II are...an interesting story. More on that on the next page.)

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Today I will be looking at seemingly random collection of gaming titles, running on some reconfigured test bed we had in the office in an attempt to get some idea of the overall robustness of the 337.50 driver and its advantages over the 335.23 release that came before it. Does NVIDIA have solid ground to stand on when it comes to the capabilities of current APIs over what AMD is offering today?

Continue reading our analysis of the new NVIDIA 337.50 Driver!!

Win a Galaxy GeForce GTX 750 Ti GC or GeForce GTX 750 GC!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 16, 2014 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: video, giveaway, galaxy, contest

UPDATE: Our winners have been selected and notified! Thanks to everyone for participating and stayed tuned to pcper.com as we'll have more contests starting VERY SOON!!!

Our sponsors are the best, they really are. Case in point - Galaxy would like us to give away a pair of graphics cards to our fans. On the block for the contest are a Galaxy GTX 750 Ti GC and a Galaxy GTX 750 GC option, both based on the latest generation Maxwell GPU architecture from NVIDIA.

I posted a GTX 750 Ti Roundup story that looked at the Galaxy GTX 750 Ti GC option and it impressed in both stock performance and in the amount of overclocking headroom provided by the custom cooler.

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How can you win these awesome prizes? Head over to our YouTube channel to find or just watch the video below! You need to be a subscriber to our YouTube channel as well as leave a comment on the video itself over on YouTube.

Anyone, any where in the world can win. We'll pick a winner on April 16th - good luck!

Source: YouTube

Post Tax Day Celebration! Win an EVGA Hadron Air and GeForce GTX 750!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 16, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: hadron air, hadron, gtx 750, giveaway, evga, contest

In these good old United States of America, April 15th is a trying day. Circled on most of our calendars is the final deadline for paying up your bounty to Uncle Sam so we can continue to have things like freeway systems and universal Internet access. 

But EVGA is here for us! Courtesy of our long time sponsor you can win a post-Tax Day prize pack that includes both an EVGA Hadron Air mini-ITX chassis (reviewed by us here) as well as an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 graphics card. 

evgacontestapril.jpg

Nothing makes paying taxes better than free stuff that falls under the gift limit...

With these components under your belt you are well down the road to PC gaming bliss, upgrading your existing PC or starting a new one in a form factor you might not have otherwise imagined. 

Competing for these prizes is simple and open to anyone in the world, even if you don't suffer the same April 15th fear that we do. (I'm sure you have your own worries...)

  1. Fill out the form at the bottom of this post to give us your name and email address, in addition to the reasons you love April 15th! (Seriously, we need some good ideas for next year to keep our heads up!) Also, this does not mean you should leave a standard comment on the post to enter, though you are welcome to do that too.
     
  2. Stop by our Facebook page and give us a LIKE (I hate saying that), head over to our Twitter page and follow @pcper and heck, why not check our our many videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel?
     
  3. Why not do the same for EVGA's Facebook and Twitter accounts?
     
  4. Wait patiently for April 30th when we will draw and update this news post with the winners name and tax documentation! (Okay, probably not that last part.)

A huge thanks goes out to friends and supporters at EVGA for providing us with the hardware to hand out to you all. If it weren't for sponsors like this PC Perspective just couldn't happen, so be sure to give them some thanks when you see them around the In-tar-webs!!

Good luck!

Source: EVGA

This is becoming somewhat of a habit Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2014 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, win 8.1, win 8.1 update

The end of support for XP is an annoying but sensible move on Microsoft's part however today's announcement that Windows 8.1 EoL is the Patch Tuesday in May is anything but sensible.  The announcement states that no more updates for Win 8.1 will be released, if a customer wants to receive updates they must still be running Win 8 or upgrade to Win 8.1 Update 1.  The continued support for Win 8 machines seems rather odd and is perhaps intended to mollify corporate users who have not had the 8.1 patch pushed out as Microsoft has removed Win 8.1 Update 1 from their WSUS servers over a week ago making it impossible for corporations to properly upgrade their users to Update 1.   For those who bought a device recently this deadline does not give them much time to apply Update 1, especially when you consider the amount of critical errors installing Update 1 is causing.  Catch the vitriol over at Slashdot and think back to the good old days when all you had to keep track of were the various flavours of Win7.

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"Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Put the final touch on your Win8 machine

Subject: Displays | April 11, 2014 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: touch screen, philips, 231C5 SmoothTouch

If you are going to use Windows 8 as your OS you will find it is a better overall experience to use if you have a touchscreen.  With mobile devices that is not a problem but for the most part desktop systems do not tend to sport a touchscreen.  Enter the Philips 231C5 SmoothTouch a 23" IPS 1080p display with a built in webcam and microphone as well as multi-touch capability of course.  The array of inputs are sufficient, two HDMI ports – one with MHL capabilities, DisplayPort, VGA, two USB 3.0 ports and stereo audio. Before you dismiss this display completely you should check out eTechnix full review.

Philips231C5_Front.jpg

"When Microsoft announced the imminent launch of Windows 8, one of the revolutionary aspects of the new operating system was its more streamlined integration into touch screen devices. Since that time we have seen touch screen capable notebooks and Ultrabooks swarm the market and the era of the touch screen computer has changed the way that many of us have interacted with our systems."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

Source: eTeknix

Getting burned by the Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2014 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, gdc 14

At the Game Developers Conference last month The Tech Report had some one on one time with the Steam Controller and walked away with a less than positive impression.  It would seem that the learning curve for this device is rather steep, especially when they tried Portal 2.  Fine aiming, circle strafing and other tasks which come naturally to those used to a keyboard and mouse were quite difficult to accomplish on the new controller.  When asked, the Valve rep admitted it took them about 8 hours to familiarize themselves with the Steam Controller.  Is that too steep a learning curve or is it simply part of the fun of playing with a new type of console and controller?

controller.jpg

"Valve's Steam controller looks great on paper. It promises not just greater accuracy than conventional console gamepads, but also support for point-and-click titles that traditionally required a mouse and keyboard. There's a downside, though. As TR's Cyril Kowaliski learned first-hand, the Steam controller has a pretty steep learning curve—steep enough, perhaps, to put off some potential converts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Testing Kabini on Linux

Subject: Processors | April 14, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: Kabini, linux, Athlon 5350, Athlon 5150, Sempron 3850, Semprov 2650, amd, athlon, sempron

An easy way to trim the cost of a lower end system is to skip Windows and install Linux, along with picking a less expensive AMD chip to power your system.  AMD has recently gifted us with new Kabini based Sempron and Athlon chips, the most expensive of which is available for less that $70.  For testing Phoronix used Ubuntu 14.04, the 3.14 kernel and Mesa 10.2 along with the Radeon 7.3.99 driver.  You will be glad to know that there were no compatibility problems with Linux whatsoever, all CPUs performed more or less as expected as you can see for yourself in the full review.

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"It's been a busy past few days since AMD launched their "AM1" Socketed Kabini APUs. After the initial Athlon 5350 Linux review on launch-day, I did some tests involving a faster kernel and newer Mesa code along with some reference DDR3 memory scaling benchmarks for these APUs with Jaguar processor cores. Since then the Athlon 5150 and Sempron 3850/2650 APUs arrived."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

Refreshed Intel Haswell Processors Coming Next Month For Desktop and Mobile

Subject: Processors | April 15, 2014 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: z97, Intel, i7-4790, haswell refresh, haswell, h97

Intel is releasing a refreshed lineup of processors based on its latest generation “Haswell” micro-architecture. The new lineup is comprised of 27 new desktop processors and 17 new mobile CPUs (44 in total). The new chips will displace the existing Haswell processors at their existing price points with small clockspeed increases.

On the desktop side of things, the Haswell Refresh lineup includes four new Core i7, ten Core i5, five Core i3, five Pentium, and three Celeron processors. The new chips come in both standard and (multiple) lower-TDP variants. At the top end, Intel is introducing a new non-K part called the Intel Core i7 4790 which is a quad core (eight thread) processor clocked at 3.6 GHz with 8MB of L3 cache. The new CPU also comes in 65W i7-4790S (3.2 GHz) and 45W i7-4790T (2.7 GHz). The new desktop parts range in tray price from $45 to $303.

Intel Haswell Refresh Desktop and Mobile Processor CPU Lineup.png

Additionally, Intel is updating its mobile lineup by introducing 17 new chips. The refreshed lineup includes six Core i7s, four Core i5s, five Core i3s, one Pentium, and one Celeron CPU. The mobile parts range in tray price from $75 to $434. Like the desktop range, the mobile chips come in multiple low power TDP SKUs. Five of the new chips are quad cores while the rest are dual cores.

Intel’s new refreshed Haswell processors are reportedly coming early next month as part of the "Haswell Refresh Platform." The chips will fully support motherboards based on Intel’s upcoming LGA 1150 9-series chipsets, and the various motherboard manufactures appear to be hard at work getting their lineups ready. As a result, enthusiasts can expect to see the new chips and motherboards (using the H97 and Z97 chipsets) on store shelves soon.

If you have not already bought into Haswell, the refreshed lineup is worth waiting for.  if you are already running a Haswell-based system, upgrading to a refreshed Haswell CPU and H97 or Z97 motherboard makes much less sense. Instead, you should ride it out until Sky Lake or at least Broadwell (upgrade itch permitting, of course).

Steaming on a Sempron

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: steambox, amd, sempron, athlon, Kabini, SteamOS

A popular question that has arisen from the release of the four new low cost Kabini processors has been their effectiveness in powering a Steam Machine. Phoronix have just finished testing the new Athlon and Sempron chips, paired with several laptop IGPs using Catalyst Linux driver fglrx 13.35.5/OpenGL 4.3.12798 on Ubuntu 14.04.  They tested Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, and Portal at a variety of resolutions to see just how much performance these chips offer.  None of the chips could offer acceptable performance at 1080p and only Portal was delivered at 60fps assuming you used 1024x768.  They will be following this review with another that will pair discreet GPUs with Kabini which should increase gaming capabilities greatly.

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"Earlier today the latest installment of our extensive Linux testing of AMD's new Athlon AM1 APUs were shared in the form of RadeonSI vs. Gallium3D benchmarks of the Radeon R3 Graphics found with these new entry-level APUs. Not included with that open-source vs. closed-source driver testing was any Source Engine / Steam Linux game testing due to an XCB DRI3 issue, but this article is devoted to looking at the Catalyst performance for the Sempron 2650, Sempron 3850, Athlon 5150, and Athlon 5350 to see whether any of these APUs can make the cut for a budget Steam Machine."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

XP has helped slow the decline of PC sales

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2014 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: gartner, pc sales, desktop market share

With a total of 76.6 million PCs shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2014 the desktop market only shrunk by 1.7% compared to the first quarter of 2013.  Gartner attributes this to two main factors, new desktops being purchased to replace aging machines running WinXP and a decline in the sales of tablets, at least in the US.  Lenovo retains its top spot globally but HP has been doing quite well with their marketing and now hold top spot in both the US and EMEA.  Check out all their findings at DigiTimes.

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"The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

The Health of Intel's Many Divisions...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | April 16, 2014 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: Intel, silvermont, arm, quarterly earnings, quarterly results

Sean Hollister at The Verge reported on Intel's recent quarterly report. Their chosen headline focuses on the significant losses incurred from the Mobile and Communications Group, the division responsible for tablet SoCs and 3G/4G modems. Its revenue dropped 52%, since last quarter, and its losses increased about 6%. Intel is still making plenty of money, with $12.291 billion USD in profits for 2013, but that is in spite of Mobile and Communications losing $3.148 billion over the same time.

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Intel did have some wins, however. The Internet of Things Group is quite profitable, with $123 million USD of income from $482 million of revenue. They also had a better March quarter than the prior year, up a few hundred million in both revenue and profits. Also, Mobile and Communications should have a positive impact on the rest of the company. The Silvermont architecture, for instance, will eventually form the basis for 2015's Xeon Phi processors and co-processors.

It is concerning that Internet of Things has over twice the sales of Mobile but I hesitate to make any judgments. From my position, it is very difficult to see whether or not this trend follows Intel's projections. We simply do not know whether the division, time and time again, fails to meet expectations or whether Intel is just intentionally being very aggressive to position itself better in the future. I would shrug off the latter but, obviously, the former would be a serious concern.

The best thing for us to do is to keep an eye on their upcoming roadmaps and compare them to early projections.

Source: The Verge

An overclocked flagship GPU duel

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 17, 2014 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, nividia, gigabyte, asus, R9 290X, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, factory overclocked

In the green trunks is the ASUS GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II OC which [H]ard|OCP overclocked to the point they saw in game performance of 1211MHz GPU and 7.2GHz on the memory.  In the red trunks we find Gigabyte's R9 290X 4GB OC weighing in at 1115MHz and 5.08GHz for the GPU and memory respectively.  Both cards have been pushed beyond the factory overclock that they came with and will fight head to head in such events as Battling the Field, Raiding the Tomb and counting to three twice, once in a Crysis and again in a Far Cry from safety.  Who will triumph?  Will the battle be one sided or will the contenders trade top spot depending on the challenge?  Get the full coverage at [H]ard|OCP!

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"Today we look at the GIGABYTE R9 290X 4GB OC and ASUS GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II OC video cards. Each of these video cards features a custom cooling system, and a factory overclock. We will push the overclock farther and put these two video cards head-to-head for a high-end performance comparison."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications, and Contents

Corsair has added another double-width liquid cooler to their growing lineup of all-in-one solutions with the H105, joining the existing H100i and larger H110 in this category.

H105_hero_fans.png

Image courtesy of Corsair

Initially, the H105 might leave you scratching your head. It's listed on Corsair’s site with the same $119.99 MSRP as the H100i, and both are 240mm designs featuring the same high performance fans. The similarities end there, however, as the design of the H105 is more akin to Corsair's new 120mm H75 (which we recently reviewed) than to the existing 240mm H100/H100i. With the H75 already a solid price/performance pick in Corsair’s lineup - and the various other options still available - it's reasonable to wonder exactly where H105 fits in.

While this new cooler is using the same pair of excellent SP120L PWM fans as the earlier H100i (and H80i), it's the radiator they will be connected to that should separate the H105 from prior efforts. Corsair has implemented a much thicker 240mm rad with the H105 at 35mm (vs. only 27mm on earlier products), and this added thickness should have an noticeable impact on cooling performance, and possibly fan noise as well.

Continue reading our review of the Corsair H105 Liquid Cooler!!

Non-Replaceable, Defective Batteries in Sony VAIO Fit 11A

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 15, 2014 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: vaio, sony, battery issue

So it turns out that Sony, after releasing their last VAIO PC refresh before the division is sold to Japan Industrial Partners, have found an issue with Panasonic's custom lithium battery packs. The VAIO Fit 11A models, released February 2014, have the potential to overheat and catch fire, burning itself and the PC. They are in the process of creating a refund, repair, or exchange program but, in the mean time, request users stop using the devices for their safety.

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In head-crushing formation. #HandsCheck

The affected products fall under the model number, "SVF11N1XXXX", where Xs are, of course, some random letter or number. This information is printed underneath the display, accessible using the "release-lock" latch when the laptop is open.

Of course, this is all just unfortunate for Sony. The last product they create under their VAIO brand requires what basically amounts to a safety recall -- for a third-party component. Beyond that, Panasonic asserts that the flaw only seems to exist in the batteries that were customized for Sony. Panasonic, like many manufacturers, introduces slight modifications to existing products for a specific customer's needs. They do not believe that their other batteries, even of the same model, is defective outside of the shipment that Sony received.

At some point, you just need to feel bad for them...

Source: Sony

ASUS Xonar U7, dump your onboard audio for an external solution?

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2014 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar U7, usb sound card

ASUS has an easy way for you to upgrade your sound without needing to crack open your case, the Xonar U7 USB sound card.  Capable of delivering 7.1 surround with a Cmedia 6632A processor and no less than three different Cirrus signal conversion chips this is a high quality device for $90.  Connectivity is equally impressive, on one side an amplified 3.5 mm headphone output and shared line-in/microphone3.5 mm jack, on the other are Side, Center, and Rear channel outputs, an SPDIF output and the USB jack.  Read Legit Reviews' full article to hear how they felt the Xonar U7 performed.

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"We got an early look at an upcoming affordable USB powered sound card from ASUS called the Xonar U7. Its compact form makes it easy to setup or use with laptops which normally can’t have their audio solutions upgraded."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Podcast #296 - NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, 337.50, corsair, H105, amd, Intel, haswell, devil's canyon

PC Perspective Podcast #296 - 04/17/2014

Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details 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

Program length: 1:25:06
 

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

 

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Released.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 18, 2014 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: canonical, ubuntu, ubuntu 14.04

Ubuntu, the popular Linux distribution, has been on a steady six-month release schedule for eight years. Every four versions, that is, once every two years, one is marked as Long Term Support (LTS). While typical (non-LTS) releases are supported for around 9 months, LTS versions are provided with five years of updates. Of course, each version, LTS or not, is free. The choice to stay on a specific branch is something else entirely.

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For most home users, it will probably make sense to pick up the latest version available on your update manager. Of course, each new release will change things and that can be a problem for some users. That said, given that releases come in six-month intervals, it does make sense to keep up with the changes as they happen, rather than fall behind and have a real shock in five years. Enterprise customers, on the other hand, would love to adopt an operating system which never changes, outside of security updates. Windows XP is a recent example of where enterprise customers will actually pay to not upgrade. These customers will benefit most from LTS.

So, why 14.04 LTS?

First and foremost, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, wants to catch the wave of PC users who are looking to upgrade from Windows XP and Windows 7. It is free, it has a web browser and an office suite, it is stable and secure, and they suggest that it will be easy to deploy and manage for governments and other institutions.

The interface is Unity7, although users will have the option to try Unity8. The latter version is Canonical's attempt to cover all form factors: phones, tablets, TVs, and desktops.

They probably could have chosen a different number, if only for the jokes.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is available now at their website. It is free. If you want it, go get it unless you already have it.

Source: Canonical

Intel Haswell-based NUCs on Sale for $329 and $265

Subject: Systems | April 17, 2014 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: nuc, i5-4250u, amazon, 4250U

Back in September we posted a review of the latest Intel NUC device (next unit of computing), a tiny 4-in x 4-in barebones computer developed and sold by Intel directly. As a couple of readers pointed out to me today, these units are being discounted by as much as $70 today over at Amazon.com

These units share a lot of the same feature set but they differ in the processor actually embedded in them. The Core i5-4250U comes with the more expensive model and that includes the faster Intel HD 5000 graphics configuration as well. This is the same processor found in the MacBook Air and many shipping Ultrabooks. For the lower priced model you get the Core i3-4010U that runs at a static 1.7 GHz clock speed. The 4250U scales up to 2.6 GHz with Turbo Boost technology.

nuc1.jpg

Both are based on the Haswell architecture and pack a lot of processing punch in a tiny little form factor.

Keeping in mind these are barebones units, you'll still have to add memory, storage in the form of an mSATA SSD, wireless modules (unless you want to use the Gigabit Ethernet) and a power cord. If you are looking for some suggestions from us on those components, check out the lists and pricing below.

  Core i5-4250U System Core i3-4010U System
Barebones System NUC D54250WYK - $329 NUC D34010WYK - $265
Memory Crucial 4GB Single DDR3L SO-DIMM - $40 Crucial 4GB Single DDR3L SO-DIMM - $40
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 120GB mSATA - $109 Samsung 840 EVO 120GB mSATA - $109
Wireless Intel Dual Band 7260 802.11ac - $32 Intel Dual Band 7260 802.11ac - $32
Power Cord 6 ft 3-slot - $4 6 ft 3-slot - $4
Total (Amazon) $514 on Amazon.com $450 on Amazon.com

If you are really on a budget and want to save some more cash, you could go with a smaller and less expensive mSATA SSD like the ADATA Premier Pro 32GB option for as low as $39.99 but you are going to be REALLY limited on local storage space. 

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Still, for $514 you are getting most of the component technology of a high end Ultrabook but in a desktop form factor, ready to be used as your primary PC or connected to your TV for a home theater setup. I built one for my dad for Christmas to play a flight simulator on and its still going strong and he's loving it!

Going to take Intel and Amazon up on these prices? Already have a unit of your own? If so, let me know in the comments what you currently, or plan to, use it for. Happy SFF building!

Source: Amazon.com

Intel Unveils Ruggedized Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2014 - 07:03 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Education, convertible tablet, atom z3740d

Intel has introduced a new convertible tablet aimed at the education market (specifically as a tool for students to use in their studies) conveniently dubbed the Intel Education 2-In-1. This latest product is a portable dockable tablet powered by an Intel Atom processor and running Windows 8.1 along with Intel Education software.

The new Education 2-In-1 tablet is the successor to Intel's previous Education Tablets series which included two Atom powered devices running the Android OS. The latest convertible tablet features a 10.1 touchscreen and capacitive stylus that weighs 683 grams (1.51 pounds). The tablet can also be connected to a keyboard dock for a total weight of 1.173 kilograms (2.58 pounds). It is a ruggedized design that can withstand up to 70cm drops (50cm when docked) and is both water and dust resistant per IP51 specifications.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet for Education and Schools.jpg

The upcoming PC features a 10.1” 5-point multi-touch display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 1.26 MP webcam, and a 5.0 MP rear camera. The keyboard dock offers up a full qwerty keyboard, trackpad, additional IO ports, and a second battery. Intel rates its Atom-powered tablet at 8 hours of battery life for the tablet itself and 11 hours (total) when docked with the keyboard.

External IO includes:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Micro SD card slot
  • 1 x Audio out/Mic in combo jack
  • 1 x Micro HDMI
  • 2 x integrated speakers
  • 1 x Integrated microphone

The tablet further offers up a wide array of sensors for obtaining environmental data including an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, electronic compass, gyroscope, and optional GPS. Students can also get temperature readings via a probe and pair the rear camera with a magnification lens. The sensor and image data can be fed into the educational software bundled with the tablet for use in school labs.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet In Use_Collaboration.jpg

Internally, the convertible tablet is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3740D processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, 2GB of DDR3L 1333 MHz memory, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal eMMC storage. Networking is handled by an 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radio along with optional NFC, 3G, and LTE cellular radios. The tablet hosts a 7600mAH (28 Wh) battery while the keyboard dock offers up an additional 15 Wh battery.

On the software side of things, the tablet runs the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 which is bundled with Intel's educational software suite and McAfee AntiVirus Plus. The educational software includes a digital textbook library from Kno Products.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Peripherals.jpg

The ruggedized design leaves something (read: aesthetics) to be desired, but the somewhat-bulky convertible is built to handle the inevitable, well, handling by students during their daily class schedules. Further, the Bay Trail SoC should run Windows 8.1 well enough to run the basic applications needed for coursework.

Intel has not yet released pricing or availability information on its latest educational hardware offering.

As more schools are looking into supporting digital learning material and incorporating devices such as laptops, tablets, and e-readers, Intel does not want to be left out of the game. The Education 2-In-1 is not likely to be a direct-to-consumer product but more of a business-to-educational institution offering much like Google's Chromebook subscription program and is intended to show off the hardware and software 'experience' that the company's Bay Trail Atom SoC platform is capable of enabling.

Source: Intel