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

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

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

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

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This amazing graphics card has some killer features:

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

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

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

PCPer / ASUS 20th Anniversary GTX 980 Contest

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

Source: ASUS

ASUS MG279Q 144 Hz Display Caps at 90 Hz with FreeSync

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: ASUS

Contest: Win a 400GB Intel 750 Series SSD from Intel and PC Perspective!

Subject: Editorial | May 6, 2015 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: SSD 750, PCI Express, NVMe, Intel, giveaway, contest, 750 series

PC Perspective and Intel are partnering together to offer up a giveaway with some pretty impressive swag. Surely by now you have read all about the new Intel SSD 750 Series of products, a new class of solid state drive that combines four lanes of PCI Express 3.0 and a new protocol called NVM Express (NVMe) for impressive bandwidth throughput. In Allyn's review of the SSD in April he called it "the obvious choice for consumers who demand the most from their storage" and gave it a PC Perspective Editor's Choice Award!

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Thanks to our friends at Intel we are going to be handing out a pair of the 400GB add-in card models to loyal PC Perspective readers and viewers. How can you enter? The rules are dead simple:

  1. Fill out the contest entry form below to find multiple entry methods including reading our review, answering a question about Intel SSD 750 Series specs or following us on Twitter. You can fill out one or all of the methods - the more you do the better your chances!
     
  2. Leave a comment on the news post below thanking Intel for sponsoring PC Perspective and for supplying this hardware for us to give to you!
     
  3. This is a global contest - so feel free to enter from anywhere in the world!
     
  4. Contest will close on June 2nd, 2015.

Win an Intel SSD 750 Series From PC Perspective and Intel!

Our most sincere thanks to Intel for bringing this contest to PC Perspective's readers and fans. Good luck to everyone (except Josh)!

Sponsored by Intel

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Product Specifications

Capacity Seqential 128KB Read (up to MB/s) Sequential 128KB Write (up to MB/s) Random 4KB Read (up to IOPS) Random 4KB Write (up to IOPS) Form Factor Interface
400 GB 2,200 900 430,000 230,000 2.5-inch x 15mm PCI Express Gen3 x4
1.2 TB 2,400 1,200 440,000 290,000 2.5-inch x 15mm PCI Express Gen3 x4
400 GB 2,200 900 430,000 230,000 Half-height half-length (HHHL) Add-in Card PCI Express Gen3 x4
1.2 TB 2,400 1,200 440,000 290,000 Half-heigh half-length (HHHL) Add-in Card PCI Express Gen3 x4

Experience the future of storage performance for desktop client and workstation users with the Intel® SSD 750 Series. The Intel SSD 750 Series delivers uncompromised performance by utilizing NVM Express* over four lanes of PCIe* 3.0.

With both Add-in Card and 2.5-inch form factors, the Intel SSD 750 Series eases migration from SATA to PCIe 3.0 without power or thermal limitations on performance. The SSD can now deliver the ultimate in performance in a variety of system form factors and configurations.

Source: Intel.com

Manufacturer: Microsoft

DirectX 12 Has No More Secrets

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

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

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

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

AMD Previews New Flagship GPU with HBM and 3x Perf/Watt Improvements

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 6, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: amd, hbm, radeon, gpu

During today's 2015 AMD Financial Analyst Day, CEO Dr. Lisa Su discussed some of the details of the upcoming enthusiast Radeon graphics product. Though it wasn't given a name, she repeatedly said that the product would be announced "in the coming weeks...at upcoming industry events."

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You won't find specifications here but understanding the goals and targets that AMD has for this new flagship product will help tell the story of this new Radeon product. Dr. Su sees AMD investing at very specific inflection points, the most recent of which are DirectX 12, 4K displays and VR technology. With adoption of HBM (high bandwidth memory) that sits on-die with the GPU, rather than across a physical PCB, we will see both a reduction in power consumption as well as a significant increase in GPU memory bandwidth.

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HBM will accelerate the performance improvements at those key inflection points Dr. Su mentioned. Additional memory bandwidth will aid the ability for discrete GPUs to push out 4K resolutions and beyond, no longer limited by texture sizes. AMD's LiquidVR software, in conjunction with HBM, will be able to improve latency and reduce performance concerns on current and future generations of virtual reality hardware.

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One interesting comment made during the conference was that HBM would enable new form factors for the GPUs now that you now longer need to have memory spread out on a PCB. While there isn't much room in the add-in card market for differentiation, in the mobile space that could mean some very interesting things for higher performance gaming notebooks.

Mark Papermaster, AMD CTO, said earlier in the conference call that HBM would aid in performance but maybe more importantly will lower power and improve total GPU efficiency. HBM will offer more than 3x improved performance/watt compared to GDDR5 while also running more than 50% lower power than GDDR5. Lower power and higher performance upgrades don't happen often so I am really excited to see what AMD does with it.

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There weren't any more details on the next flagship Radeon GPU but it doesn't look like we'll have to wait much longer.

Source: AMD

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

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

PC Perspective Podcast #347 - 04/30/2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Don't be afraid of PCIe or NVMe

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

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

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

Step 1

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

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

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

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

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

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Image credit: Tom’s IT Pro

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

Specs for the EPC612D4I from ASRock:

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

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

Source: ASRock

Samsung's Galaxy refresh refreshes a bit too often

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

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

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

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: HP

BUILD 2015: Windows 10 10074 Released to Fast and Slow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Microsoft

New GeForce Bundle: Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 5, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, nvidia, GTX 980, GTX 970, gtx, geforce, batman arkham knight

NVIDIA has announced a new game bundle for GeForce graphics cards starting now, and it’s a doozy: Purchase a qualifying GTX card and receive download codes for both Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight!

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Needless to say, both of these titles have been highly anticipated, and neither have been released just yet with Witcher 3: Wild Hunt due to be released on May 19, and Batman: Arkham Knight arriving on June 23. So which cards qualify? Amazon has a page specifically created for this new offer here, and depending on which card you select you’ll be eligible for either both upcoming games, or just Witcher 3. NVIDIA has this chart on their promotion page for reference:

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So GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 cards will qualify for both games, and GTX 960 cards and the mobile GPUs qualify for Witcher 3 alone. Regardless of which game or card you may choose these PC versions of the new games will feature graphics that can’t be matched by consoles, and NVIDIA points out the advantages in their post:

"Both Batman and The Witcher raise the bar for graphical fidelity, rendering two very different open worlds with a level of detail we could only dream of last decade. And on PC, each is bolstered by NVIDIA GameWorks effects that increase fidelity, realism, and immersion. But to use those effects in conjunction with the many other available options, whilst retaining a high frame rate, it’s entirely possible that you’ll need an upgrade."

NVIDIA also posted this Witcher 3: Wild Hunt behind-the-scenes video:

In addition to the GameWorks effects present in Witcher 3, NVIDIA worked with developer Rocksteady on Batman: Arkham Knight “to create new visual effects exclusively for the game’s PC release.” The post elaborates:

"This is in addition to integrating the latest and greatest versions of our GPU-accelerated PhysX Destruction, PhysX Clothing and PhysX Turbulence technologies, which work in tandem to create immersive effects that react realistically to external forces. In previous Batman: Arkham games, these technologies created immersive fog and ice effects, realistic destructible scenery, and game-enhancing cloth effects that added to the atmosphere and spectacle. Expect to see similar effects in Arkham Knight, along with new features and effects that we'll be talking about in depth as we approach Arkham Knight’s June 23rd release."

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Of note, mobile GPUs included in the promotion will only receive download codes if the seller of the notebook is participating in the "Two Times The Adventure" offer, so be sure to check that out when looking for a gaming laptop that qualifies!

The promotion is going on now and is available “for a limited time or while supplies last”.

Source: NVIDIA

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

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

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

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The full press release appears below:


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

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

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

Source: GIGABYTE

First Glimpse of the MSI 990FXA-Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2015 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, sli, piledriver, msi, gaming, crossfire, amd, am3+, 990FXA-Gaming, 990fx

Some months ago MSI announced that they are releasing a slew of USB 3.1 compliant parts.  What was surprising was the mention of a brand new AM3+ board based on the now nearly geriatric AMD 990FX chipset.  The 990FX has had quite a lifespan with PCI-E 2.0 support and the accompanying SB950 southbridge with USB 2.0 and SATA6G features.

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It looks as if MSI is doing a clean sheet design for the 990FXA-Gaming.  This looks to be a class leading product with plenty of features.  Not only does it have the USB 3.1 support, but it also implements the enhanced audio design that we have seen on other top end boards from MSI.  It also embraces the Killer ethernet software suite (utilizing Qualcomm's Atheros Gig-E chip).

The power delivery system looks to be a full 8+2 unit, so it can officially handle the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series of CPUs.  It supports both SLI and CrossFire.  The cooling on the board looks to be top notch as well, with a heatpipe stretching from the Southbridge, through the Northbridge, and finally to the VRMs.

We expect these boards to be available sometime around the middle of this month.  We should also be receiving a sample for testing around then.  It is nice to see new support for AMD's FX CPUs, and this should be a cost effective member of the club.  Though AM3+ is a dead end in terms of socket infrastructure, there is still a lot of value in AMD's FX CPU line.

There is no word on pricing at this time, but I would not be surprised to see it hit the $149 mark.  It does not seem as decked out as the 990FXA-GD80 which is priced around $179.  With the robust featureset that they do implement, it does look to be a value if it can hit that aggressive price point.

Source: MSI

Xigmatek Launches SFF Nebula C Cases In Several New Colors

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

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

Xigmatek Nebula C Angled.jpg

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

Xigmatek Nebula C Internals.jpg

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

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

Xigmatek Nebula C Front IO.jpg

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

Source: Xigmatek
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Back in November of last year, we tested the Corsair Neutron XT, which was the first product to feature the Phison PS3110-S10 controller. First spotted at Flash Memory Summit, the S10 sports the following features:

  • Quad-core controller - Quad-core CPU dedicates three cores just to managing flash and maintaining performance
  • Maximum throughput and I/O - Offers speeds of up to 560 MB/s read and 540 MB/s write and 100K IOPs on read and 90 IOPs on write, saturating the SATA 6Gbps bus
  • End-to-end Data Path Protection - Enterprise level CRC/ECC corrects internal soft errors as well as detecting and correcting any errors that may arise between the DRAM, controller, and flash
  • SmartECC™ - Reconstructs defective/faulty pages when regular ECC fails
  • SmartRefresh™ - Monitors block ECC health status and refreshes blocks periodically to improve data retention
  • SmartFlush™ - Minimizes time data spends in cache to ensure data retention in the event of power loss
  • Advanced wear-leveling and garbage collection

Corsair was Phison's launch partner, but as that was a while ago, we now have two additional SSD models launching with the S10 at their core:

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To the left is the Kingston HyperX Savage. To the right is the Patriot Ignite. They differ in flash memory types used, available capacities, and the stated performance specs vary slightly among them. Today we'll compare them against the Neutron XT as well as a selecton of other SATA SSDs.

Read on for the full review!

Falcon Northwest's Updated Tiki PC Packs A Punch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSI Launches 8 New FM2+ Motherboards Supporting AMD Godavari CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | May 4, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: processor, msi, motherboard, Godavari, FM2+, cpu, APU, amd

MSI has revealed a new FM2+ motherboard lineup with support for upcoming AMD Godavari processors, further indicating the launch of these new CPUs will be very soon though no official announcement has yet been made by AMD.

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As reported back in January when the lineup allegedly leaked the new Godavari SKUs feature higher clocks on both processor and, more significantly, in GPU cores in upcoming APUs like the rumored 8850K. MSI states that "these new models are available in ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ATX form factors and are backwards compatible with FM2 processors (Kaveri, Richland, Trinity, 6000 and 5000 series)", so it makes sense to consider these new models for future compatibility if shopping for an FM2 motherboard today. It remains to be seen if vendors will offer support for Godavari through BIOS updates, though it does at least seem likely.

For those interested here is the list of new MSI AMD FM2+/FM2 motherboard models:

  • A68HM-E33 V2
  • A88XM-E45 V2
  • A78M-E35 V2
  • A88XM-P33 V2
  • A78M-E45 V2
  • A88X-G41 PC Mate V2
  • A88XM-E35 V2
  • A88XI AC V2

The familiar Military Class 4 and OC Genie 4 branding is visible across the lineup, and the new models also feature "a rich blend of features and technologies, such as onboard LAN, PCI Express 3.0 x16, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 and multiple display support".

Source: MSI

Say goodbye to Patch Tuesday

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: patch tuesday, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is showing off some of the new security features of Windows 10 and one of the announcements heralded the end of Patch Tuesday for everyone but Enterprise customers.  For consumers any device running Windows 10 could receive a patch at any time Microsoft approves it and pushes it out, apparently a shot across the bows at Google and their less than regular update schedule for mobile devices.  This could lead to some interesting and unexpected behaviour for devices if the patches cause problems on some systems as has happened in the past.  The patches can be distributed via peer-to-peer which will help those with limited bandwidth and time constraints, which you can read about at The Register along with information on the new Advanced Threat Analytics.

The Inquirer touches briefly on Windows Update for Business which will replace current patch distribution for the Enterprise and allow far more control on what gets updated, with which patches and when the installations will occur.

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"Ignite 2015 - Microsoft has shown off some of the new security mechanisms embedded in Windows 10, and revealed a change to its software updates."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Lenovo Software Vulnerability Is Patched

Subject: Systems | May 6, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo

Okay, so some people are drawing parallels between this and Lenovo's Superfish scandal that happened late last year and carried on for the first few months of 2015. I am not a fan of that comparison. In the case of Superfish, Lenovo added third-party software that tampered with security for the purpose of advertising on the user's machine. In this case, a first-party application has a remote code execution vulnerability that was dealt with responsibly.

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This happens to pretty much everyone, regularly.

But, so our readers know, they should update their Lenovo System Update. The current version, which seems to be 5.6.0.34 as far as I can tell, has been available since April and is not affected. This bug only concerns 5.6.0.27 and earlier. The issues were discovered in February by IOActive and disclosed to the PC manufacturer, who updated them before the security company published the issue. Unless I'm missing something, this is how it is supposed to be done.

Source: The Verge