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Google giveth with one hand whilst taking with the other

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2015 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, flash, apple

The good news from Google is that as of next month, Flash ads will be 'Click to Play' when you are browsing in Chrome.  This will be nice for the moving ads but even better for defeating those sick minded advertisers who think audio ads are acceptable.  However this will hurt websites which depend on ad revenue ... as in all of the ones that are not behind a paywall which have Flash based ads.  The move will make your web browsing somewhat safer as this will prevent the drive-by infections which Flash spreads like a plague infested flea and as long as advertisers switch to HTML 5 their ads will play and revenue will continue to come in.

The news of Chrome's refusal to play Flash ads is tempered somewhat by Google's decision to put advertising ahead of security for Apple devices.  The new iOS 9 uses HTTPS for all connectivity, providing security and making it more difficult for websites to gather personalized data but as anyone who uses HTTPS Everywhere already knows, not all advertisements are compliant and are often completely blocked from displaying.  To ensure that advertisers can display on your iOS9 device Google has provided a tool to get around Apple's App Transport Security thus rendering the protection HTTPS offers inoperative.  Again, while sites do depend on advertisements to exist, sacrificing security to display those ads is hard to justify.

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"The web giant has set September 1, 2015 as the date from which non-important Flash files will be click-to-play in the browser by default – effectively freezing out "many" Flash ads in the process."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard is among initial offerings from ASUS' channel line of Intel Z170 chipset board line. The board features ASUS' new Channel line aesthetics, featuring white and black coloration to differentiate the line from their Z97 gold-theme offerings. ASUS uses the Z170-A to redefine the definition of a base-line motherboard, integrating many "upper-tier style" features not normally found on the lower tier offerings. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset integrates support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. Offered at a price-competitive MSRP of $165, the Z170-A threatens to give the rest of the Z170-based boards a run for the money.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170 shares the same DIGI+ style power system of its higher priced siblings, featuring an 8-phase digital power delivery system. ASUS integrated the following features into the Z170-A board: four SATA 3 ports; one SATA-Express port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; one PCI slot; on-board power, and MemOK! buttons; EZ XMP and TPU switches; Crystal Sound 3 audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA video ports; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard comes standard with ASUS latest iteration of their sound technology, dubbed Crystal Sound 3. Like its predecessors, Crystal Sound 3 integrates the audio components on a isolated PCB from the other main board components minimizing noise generation caused by those other integrated devices. ASUS designed the audio subsystem with high-quality Japanese-sourced audio and power circuitry for a top-notch audio experience.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z170-A motherboard!

Dell 27-inch S2716DG Gaming Monitor Announced with NVIDIA G-Sync Gen II

Subject: Displays | August 28, 2015 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: wqhd, TN, S2716DG, gaming monitor, G-Sync Gen II, g-sync, dell, 27-inch, 2560x1440

Dell announced a new 27-inch WQHD gaming monitor yesterday, and while the 2560x1440 resolution and TN panel are nothing new the real story is the inclusion of NVIDIA G-Sync Gen II.

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Dell provides these details about the S2716DG monitor:

  • Nvidia’s G-Sync Gen II support feature synchronizes GPU and monitor to minimize graphic distortions and screen tearing
  • Quad HD resolution of 2560 x 1440 with close to 2 times more onscreen details than Full HD
  • A full range of adjustability features, like tilt, pivot, swivel and height-adjustable stand allow for long hours of comfortable gameplay
  • A wide range of connectivity features, including DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4, four USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.0 upstream, Audio line-out & Headphone-out
  • 144 Hz maximum refresh rate and 1ms response time

Pricing is listed as $799 and the S2716DG will be available October 20.

UPDATE: Looking at the Dell announcement page, the company links to a Quadro PDF using a technology called G-Sync II. The problem is that technology was releaesd in 2011 and served a very different purpose than the G-Sync we use for gaming monitors today. We always knew that re-using that name would haunt NVIDIA in some ways...this is one of them. So, that means that Dell's reference to a second generation of G-Sync here is simply a typo, or the naming scheme is correct but the writer of the press release linked to something unrelated.

It is possible that a new version of the G-Sync module is on its way out with updated features and possibly support over other display outputs, but I haven't heard anything official as of yet. I'll keep digging!

-Ryan

Source: Dell

Navigating Skylake, here's a map of the ASUS Z170-A

Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: Z170-A, skylake-s, lga1151, Intel Z170, asus

Morry looked at the ASUS Z170-A at the beginning of the month, while SkyLake was still being launched and we were learning about multiple Z170 boards every day.  With the chipset still so new it is worth investigating the results of other sites when they tested ASUS' mid-range motherboard which costs about half of the Z170-Deluxe.  The aesthetics of this board are somewhat simpler than the Deluxe model and [H]ard|OCP reported the motherboard felt much thinner and more flexible, it didn't break but it certainly didn't feel as sturdy as the more expensive model.  Apart from the construction they also could not reach the same RAM speeds as they did with the Deluxe, one of the testers could not get 3200MHz DIMMs to run completely stable at their JEDEC specs.  Check out the full review here, the price on this motherboard can make the small issues moot for many enthusiasts looking to upgrade to a new Intel based system.

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"Previously we looked at ASUS’ Z170-Deluxe which offered users a huge amount of features and a premium price to go with it. Not everyone wants to spend $300 or more on a motherboard which is why ASUS has just what you need. ASUS’ Z170-A offers all the performance without all the extra features and fluff and a low price point."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA 355.80 Hotfix for Windows 10 SLI Memory Issues

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 27, 2015 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, nvidia, geforce, drivers, graphics drivers

While GeForce Hotfix driver 355.80 is not certified, or even beta, I know that a lot of our readers have issues with SLI in Windows 10. Especially in games like Battlefield 4, memory usage would expand until, apparently, a crash occurs. Since I run a single GPU, I have not experienced this issue and so I cannot comment on what happens. I just know that it was very common in the GeForce forums and in our comment section, so it was probably a big problem for many users.

nvidia-geforce.png

If you are not experiencing this problem, then you probably should not install this driver. This is a hotfix that, as stated above, was released outside of NVIDIA's typical update process. You might experience new, unknown issues. Affected users, on the other hand, have the choice to install the fix now, which could very well be stable, or wait for a certified release later.

You can pick it up from NVIDIA's support site.

Source: NVIDIA

MSI Announces Z170I Gaming Pro AC Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, Z170, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel Skylake

MSI has announced a new mini-ITX motherboard for Intel's latest chipset, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC.

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Mini-ITX boards have been hard to come by for Skylake thus far, with very few models and limited availability in the first month (though not quite as elusive as the i7-6700K). With this new gaming-oriented board MSI offers another option, and it looks pretty impressive with 5-phase power delivery, 802.11ac wireless, an Intel onboard NIC, and M.2 support from a slot on the back of the PCB.

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Pricing isn't immediately available, but the existing Mini-ITX Z170 motherboards (EVGA and ASRock each have one) have been selling for $199 so I'd expect something in that vicinity.

Source: TechPowerUp

What, no ethernet?!? ASUS trims the ZenBook UX305

Subject: Mobile | August 27, 2015 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: asus, ZenBook UX305

That is correct, the 12mm thick Zenbook UX305 from ASUS does not have a LAN port, it is wireless or nothing for this ultrabook.  It does have three USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI, a 3.5mm jack for audio and an SD card reader so you will be able to use some wired peripherals with this ultramobile device.  At a mere 1.2 kg the machine is very light and with a M-5Y10 which can clock between 800MHz up to 2GHz with Turbo Boost it will run when you need it and be gentle on your battery when you do not.  KitGuru has posted a review of the UX305 here.

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"The ZenBook UX305 is the latest Ultrabook offering from Asus. When I last reviewed one of their products – the hybrid T300 Chi – it greatly impressed me. The UX305 is a similar device, with a Core M processor, 8GB RAM and another SanDisk M.2 SSD. This time, however, it is a conventional laptop, and is priced at £649.95."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: KitGuru

Kids these days and their Raspberry Pi's

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: nifty, Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi and its various flavours have been out for a while now and we have heard of a variety of projects developers and hobbyists have come up with but this story from The Register has them all beat.  With a little Googling and a lot of creativity and inspiration there are kids out there creating all sorts of new uses for the little device.  One 11 year old was a little worried about her Grampa and used a Pi along with PHP and HTML to pair a device with a webpage which can bring up a web browser for him, allow simple texting capabilities and to photos to make sure he is still OK.  Others have created a scanner to keep track of scores in netball or to make sure that the sushi they grab from a restaurant's conveyor belt isn't getting too old.   Give kids a chance to create and what they come up with will blow you away.

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"Completely at home with Raspberry Pis, these kids Google around for the things they don’t know how to do - because when you’re 11, you don’t know what you can’t do. They are inventing the future, and for them it’s just child’s play."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #364 - Nixeus Vue 24 FreeSync Monitor, AMD R9 Nano leaks, GPU Marketshare and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Nixeus, vue24, freesync, gsync, amd, r9 nano, Fiji, asus, PB258Q, qualcomm, snapdragon 820, nvidia

PC Perspective Podcast #364 - 08/27/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Nixeus Vue 24 FreeSync Monitor, AMD R9 Nano leaks, GPU Marketshare 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

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

 

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

The Tiniest Fiji

Way back on June 16th, AMD held a live stream event during E3 to announce a host of new products. In that group was the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X, R9 Fury and the R9 Nano. Of the three, the Nano was the most intriguing to most of the online press as it was the one we knew the least about. AMD promised a full Fiji GPU in a package with a 6-in PCB and a 175 watt TDP. Well today, AMD is, uh, re-announcing (??) the AMD Radeon R9 Nano with more details on specifications, performance and availability.

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First, let’s get this out of the way: AMD is making this announcement today because they publicly promised the R9 Nano for August. And with the final days of summer creeping up on them, rather than answer questions about another delay, AMD is instead going the route of a paper launch, but one with a known end date. We will apparently get our samples of the hardware in early September with reviews and the on-sale date following shortly thereafter. (Update: AMD claims the R9 Nano will be on store shelves on September 10th and should have "critical mass" of availability.)

Now let’s get to the details that you are really here for. And rather than start with the marketing spin on the specifications that AMD presented to the media, let’s dive into the gory details right now.

  R9 Nano R9 Fury R9 Fury X GTX 980 Ti TITAN X GTX 980 R9 290X
GPU Fiji XT Fiji Pro Fiji XT GM200 GM200 GM204 Hawaii XT
GPU Cores 4096 3584 4096 2816 3072 2048 2816
Rated Clock 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 1050 MHz 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 1126 MHz 1000 MHz
Texture Units 256 224 256 176 192 128 176
ROP Units 64 64 64 96 96 64 64
Memory 4GB 4GB 4GB 6GB 12GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 500 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 5000 MHz
Memory Interface 4096-bit (HBM) 4096-bit (HBM) 4096-bit (HBM) 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit 512-bit
Memory Bandwidth 512 GB/s 512 GB/s 512 GB/s 336 GB/s 336 GB/s 224 GB/s 320 GB/s
TDP 175 watts 275 watts 275 watts 250 watts 250 watts 165 watts 290 watts
Peak Compute 8.19 TFLOPS 7.20 TFLOPS 8.60 TFLOPS 5.63 TFLOPS 6.14 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 5.63 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 8.9B 8.9B 8.9B 8.0B 8.0B 5.2B 6.2B
Process Tech 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP (current) $649 $549 $649 $649 $999 $499 $329

AMD wasn’t fooling around, the Radeon R9 Nano graphics card does indeed include a full implementation of the Fiji GPU and HBM, including 4096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 64 ROPs. The GPU core clock is rated “up to” 1.0 GHz, nearly the same as the Fury X (1050 MHz), and the only difference that I can see in the specifications on paper is that the Nano is rated at 8.19 TFLOPS of theoretical compute performance while the Fury X is rated at 8.60 TFLOPS.

Continue reading our preview of the AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card!!

Logitech Releases G633 and G933 Headsets for Premium Gaming Market

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: logitech, headphones, gaming, G933, G633, DTS Headphone:X, 7.1

Today Logitech is announcing that they have added to their headset lineup with two new products.  This is a fairly big announcement as it has been around five years since Logitech did anything with their gaming headset.  Units like the recently reviewed G35 and G230 have been around since 2010.  Users have been complaining as of late about a lack of fresh products on the scene, even though those previous products have adequately filled their niche.

Artemis Spectrum.jpg

The two new products coming out are the wireless G933 and the wired G633. These are under the new brand Artemis Spectrum Gaming Headsets.  The G633 has a MSRP of $149.99 putting it at the higher end of gaming headsets.  Compare this to the G35 which originally shared that MSRP, but is now around $79 at retail.  The top end G933 is a pricier option at $199.99 US.

Logitech has done a lot of work in terms of physical characteristics and the software they are using to drive these units.  Neither comes as a pure analog solution, but instead utilizes a USB connection to power the wired and wireless units.  Logitech continually refines its gaming software and this provides a great amount of flexibility when it comes to usage scenarios and audio features for these headphones.

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Powering these cans is a newly designed 40 mm driver that is created from a stiffened fabric rather than paper or plastic.  Logitech is branding these as the patent pending Pro-G audio drivers.  The engineers worked with materials people to develop the technology that is said to provide audiophile quality sound across a variety of applications.  I had asked why Logitech stayed with a 40 mm driver when other companies were utilizing larger 50 mm units which can deliver potentially deeper bass.  The answer was that they discovered that 40 mm was the sweet spot for this material to provide a flat curve without diminishing the high end.  The 50 mm prototypes just did not have the high end performance of the 40 mm units, so it was decided to sacrifice a bit of the low end to keep things more balanced and brighter.

Previously the Logitech Gaming headphones used Dolby Headphone support to simulate 3D/positional sound.  This is changing up with these latest headphones.  The new ones do support a virtual 7.1 audio solution as well as the new DTS Headphone: X support.  This is an area where Logitech has again done quite a bit of work to improve their HRTF support.  Ryan was shown around 30 different ear “models” that were used to measure how sound was reflected, refracted, and tone shifted when audio  was played around these models in multiple positions.  HRTF stands for Head Related Transfer Function.  Humans can recognize sound positioning through a lot of processing in the brain.  The brain can recognize when a sound’s tone is shifted due to the individual curves and shape of a person’s ear.  Logitech has taken this data and created a software solution that more accurately provides this effect than their previous G35 and higher headphones which features the 7.1 functionality.  This functionality will also seem more realistic when combined with a higher end driver, such as what is included with the Pro-G audio drivers.

logi_02.jpg

The boom microphone is very similar to the previous models.  It can swing down and provide some decent audio for outgoing.  It will not match more professional units, but we can only hope that it is superior to the previous generation of headphones that Logitech has put out.

One area that could potentially be controversial is that of the LED lighting on the headphones.  The headsets light up around the cups and can be changed to the tune of 16.8 million colors.  The side plates can also be swapped, so potentially custom made plates can be swapped in to show whatever logos or pictures as one desires.  One positive of this design is that the LED lights are facing to the rear of the listener’s head, so potential reflections off of a screen (or glasses) will just not happen.  The headphones also feature three programmable G-Keys, a feature that was on the previous G35 units.  It also features the mute button and the scroll wheel to control volume.  These are handy, handy things for those that have already created a dozen macros on their keyboard and could potentially start mashing buttons.  Not like I have ever done that before trying to mute some headphones…

These headphones also have a unique feature in that they can dynamically mix multiple inputs.  The G633 can mix audio from two different inputs while the G933 can handle three inputs.  There are multiple use scenarios for this such as playing on a console while having the headphones attached to a cellphone.  Users can mix and match this functionality in a variety of scenarios that will fit their lifestyle.  This is slightly more interesting for the wireless G933 as more devices can be connected, and the user can be free of a plethora of cables attached to the base unit.

The G933 also have an option of being a wired unit through analog cables.  This does provide some nice flexibility for users, as well as playing for hours more when the batteries of the wireless headphones are recharging.  This flexibility was not featured in previous wired headsets and is a nice change of pace.

logi_03.jpg

Certain products have a long lifespan when it comes to product cycles.  Headphones are one of these areas (just ask Grado and how many generations they have gone through in the past 25 years).  Logitech has done some serious groundwork to make sure that these are competitive and high quality units.  The final proof will of course be listening to these cans under multiple scenarios to see if the new drivers are in fact as good as they claim to be.  With the laser like focus that Logitech has been aiming at gaming as of late, I am pretty comfortable in the idea that these headsets are the real deal when it comes to quality audio under gaming, movies, and music situations.  Individual tastes will of course vary, but Logitech has spent a great deal of time and effort to make these competitive with the industry at large.  It is a good step forward and I look forward to hearing the results.

The G633 will be available starting in September while the G933 will come to market in an October timeframe.  The DTS Headphone:X support will be a software upgrade with the Logitech Gaming software in October.

Source: Logitech

EK Jumps Into AIO Water Cooling With New EK-Predator Coolers

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 27, 2015 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooling, Intel, ek, AIO

EK (EK Water Blocks) is pouncing on the AIO liquid cooling market with its new EK-Predator series. The new cooler series combines the company's enthusiast parts into pre-filled and pre-assembled loops ready to cool Intel CPUs (AMD socket support is slated for next year). Specifically, EK is offering up the EK-Predator 240 and EK-Predator 360 which are coolers with a 240mm radiator and a 360mm radiator respectively.

EK-Predator 240 AIO Water Cooler.jpg

The new coolers use copper radiators and EK Supremacy MX CPU blocks the latter of which has a polished copper base so there is no risk associated with using mixed metals in the loop. A 6W DDC pump drives the loop with the pump and a small reservoir attached to one side of the radiator (allegedly using a vibration dampening mounting system). EK ZMT (Zero Maintenance Tubing) 10/16mm tubing connects the CPU block to the pump/radiator/reservoir combo which uses standard G1/4 threaded ports.

EK pairs the radiator with two or three (depending on the model) EK-Vardar high static pressure fans. The fans and pump are PWM controlled and connect to a hub which is then connected to the PC motherboard's CPU fan header over a single cable. Then, a single SATA power cable from the power supply provides the necessary power to drive the pump and fans.

EK-Predator 360 AIO Water Cooler.jpg

The EK-Predator 360 further adds quick disconnect (QDC) fittings to allow users to expand the loop to include, for example, GPU blocks. EK Water Blocks is reportedly working on compatible GPU blocks which will be available later this year that users will be able to easily tie into the EK-Predator 360 cooling loop.

Available for pre-order now, the EK-Predator 240 will be available September 23rd with an MSRP of $199 while the larger EK-Predator 360 is slated for an October 19th release at $239 MSRP.

My thoughts:

If the expected performance is there, these units look to be a decent value that will allow enthusiasts to (pun intended) get their feet wet with liquid cooling with the opportunity to expand the loop as their knowledge and interest in water cooling grows. The EK-Predators are not a unique or new idea (other companies have offered water cooling kits for awhile) but coming pre-assembled and pre-filled makes it dead simple to get started and the parts should be of reputable quality. The one drawback I can see from the outset is that users will need to carefully measure their cases as the pump and reservoir being attached to the radiator means users will need more room than usual to fit the radiator. EK states in the PR that the 240mm rad should fit most cases, and is working with vendors on compatible cases for the 360mm radiator version, for what that's worth. Considering I spent a bit under $300 for my custom water cooling loop used, this new kit doesn't seem like a bad value so long as the parts are up to normal EK quality (barring that whole GPU block flaking thing which I luckily have not run into...).

What do you think about EK's foray into AIO water cooling? Are the new coolers predators or prey? (okay, I'll leave the puns to Scott!).

This is your Intel HD530 GPU on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 26, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, linux, Godavari

Using the GPU embedded in the vast majority of modern processors is a good way to reduce the price of and entry level system, as indeed is choosing Linux for your OS.  Your performance is not going to match that of a system with a discrete GPU but with the newer GPU cores available you will be doing much better than the old days of the IGP.  The first portion of Phoronix's review of the Skylake GPU covers the various versions of driver you can choose from while the rest compares Kaveri, Godavari, Haswell and Broadwell to the new HD530 on SkyLake CPUs.  Currently the Iris Pro 6200 present on Broadwell is still the best for gaming, though the A10-7870K Godavari performance is also decent.  Consider one of those two chips now, or await Iris Pro's possible arrival on a newer socketed processor if you are in no hurry.

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"Intel's Core i5 6600K and i7 6700K processors released earlier this month feature HD Graphics 530 as the first Skylake graphics processor. Given that Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has been working on open-source Linux graphics driver support for over a year for Skylake, I've been quite excited to see how the Linux performance compares for Haswell and Broadwell as well as AMD's APUs on Linux."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

Don't head out on a wild goose chase when buying a GPU to play Witcher 3

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, VLAN party, fragging frogs

[H]ard|OCP has taken the guesswork out of GPU performance on the current version of Witcher 3 in this round up featuring 10 GPUs, five from each company.  Of course only NVIDIA supports lips occluded by PhysX powered mustachios but not everyone is obsessed with perfect hair.  Indeed when it takes a $1000 video card just to enable the lowest options on HairWorks at 1440p without disabling every other feature one wonders why HairWorks had gamers tied up in knots.  Check out the full review for performance comparisons and even some HairWorks nitpicking.

This weekend also marks the 11th Fragging Frogs VLAN party, which kicks off on Saturday August 29 10:00 AM ET and will go until the last frog has been fragged.  Sign up in this thread if you haven't already and if you are new to the Fragging Frogs follow the links to the FAQ threads for information on which patches or mods you will need to apply to your games to get playing as soon as possible. 

witcher_3_wild_hunt.jpg

"We take The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, using the 1.08.2 patch and latest drivers, find the highest playable settings and examine apples-to-apples performance with and without GameWorks across 10 video cards. We put a focus on NVIDIA HairWorks and how it impacts performance and find out which video cards provide the best gaming value."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

SilverStone's small and portable SG12 SFF case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: SFF, micro-atx, mini-itx, SG12, Silverstone

The SilverStone SG12 is an SFF case which dreams big, built for Mini-ITX through Micro-ATX motherboards it is still large enough to fit a GPU over a foot long.  Overall it is 266x210x407mm (10.5x8.3x16") in size, still small enough to fit in a living room or cart around with you thanks to the built in handle but large enough to fit high end components.  Bjorn3D installed an i7-4790K on an ASUS Z97M-PLUS with a GTX 970 powered by a SilverStone SST-ST55F-G PSU which is about 40mm shorter than the majority of PSUs.  For a cooler they used the SilverStone SST-ST55F-G, the 140x82x139mm size comes close to the maximum size you can fit into the case.  Check out their full review here.

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"Here at Bjorn3D we are no strangers to the SilverStone brand. They have been creating awesome cases, power supplies, coolers and more since 2003, and we have been fortunate enough to take a look at many of their offerings over the years. Early on in their history, they created the Sugo series of cases, a line which caters to those that wish to build a small form factor PC."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Bjorn3D
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Retail Card Design

AMD is in an interesting spot right now. The general consensus is that both the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and the R9 Fury graphics cards had successful launches into the enthusiast community. We found that the performance of the Fury X was slightly under that of the GTX 980 Ti from NVIDIA, but also that the noise levels and power draw were so improved on Fiji over Hawaii that many users would dive head first into the new flagship from the red team.

The launch of the non-X AMD Fury card was even more interesting – here was a card with a GPU performing better than the competition in a price point that NVIDIA didn’t have an exact answer. The performance gap between the GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti resulted in a $550 graphics card that AMD had a victory with. Add in the third Fiji-based product due out in a few short weeks, the R9 Nano, and you have a robust family of products that don’t exactly dominate the market but do put AMD in a positive position unlike any it has seen in recent years.

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But there are some problems. First and foremost for AMD, continuing drops in market share. With the most recent reports from multiple source claiming that AMD’s Q2 2015 share has dropped to 18%, an all-time low in the last decade or so, AMD needs some growth and they need it now. Here’s the catch: AMD can’t make enough of the Fiji chip to affect that number at all. The Fury X, Fury and Nano are going to be hard to find for the foreseeable future thanks to production limits on the HBM (high bandwidth memory) integration; that same feature that helps make Fiji the compelling product it is. I have been keeping an eye on the stock of the Fury and Fury X products and found that it often can’t be found anywhere in the US for purchase. Maybe even more damning is the fact that the Radeon R9 Fury, the card that is supposed to be the model customizable by AMD board partners, still only has two options available: the Sapphire, which we reviewed when it launched, and the ASUS Strix R9 Fury that we are reviewing today.

AMD’s product and financial issues aside, the fact is that the Radeon R9 Fury 4GB and the ASUS Strix iteration of it are damned good products. ASUS has done its usual job of improving on the design of the reference PCB and cooler, added in some great features and packaged it up a price that is competitive and well worth the investment for enthusiast gamers. Our review today will only lightly touch on out-of-box performance of the Strix card mostly because it is so similar to that of the initial Fury review we posted in July. Instead I will look at the changes to the positioning of the AMD Fury product (if any) and how the cooler and design of the Strix product helps it stand out. Overclocking, power consumption and noise will all be evaluated as well.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Strix R9 Fury Graphics Card!!

Grand Theft Auto V Mods Don't Disappoint

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, GTAV, pc gaming

Triple-A games with a long shelf life, regardless of how pretty they are, will probably get a graphics mod on the PC. A ridiculous number of them exist for Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV, which make them (arguably at the very least) look better than titles a whole generation ahead of them. Sometimes this raises controversy, as seen in the Watch_Dogs launch fiasco, but most of the time it is just hobbyists remaking the wheel (sometimes literally) to take advantage of newer hardware.

Toddyhancer, which is apparently a mod for Grand Theft Auto V, already looks impressive. It is not yet released, and the developer claims that it has a significant performance impact of ~10-30 FPS, which would be more useful in units of frame time (ms), but it makes its point. The above video seems to focus on shader effects to give a film feel.

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Other screenshots exist, but it is difficult to figure out everything that has, and has not, been changed. The developer claims, “Don't go bananaz! its just Reshade Shaders, ENB series, simple tweaks and some tonemapping with class!”. Still, check it out if interested.

Source: Imgur

SanDisk's Ultra II; SSD bargain or not?

Subject: Storage | August 25, 2015 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, Ultra II, Marvell 88SS9189, Marvell 88SS9190

We've seen Sandisk's Ultra series before but the Ultra II is relatively new to the market.  If anything, they have made the pricing even more attractive, the top end 960GB model is a mere $310, $0.32/GB is getting closer to Ryan's preferred SSD pricing.  As far as the advertised speeds, sequential read and write remain constant at 550MB/s and 500MB/s but IOPS vary by the size of the drive from 81K/80K random read/write for the 120GB model to 99K/83K for the 960GB model.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows performance more or less in line with the OCZ Trion 100 but somewhat slower than the Samsung 850 EVO, both of which are almost the exact same price.  Check out the full review to see the exact differences, or simply rejoice in the fact that SSDs are approaching prices below $0.30/GB.

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"Most of you know that the easiest way to get a performance boost from your old mechanical hard drive is to get rid of it and replace it with a shiny new SSD. SanDisk's Ultra II offers a lot of capacity for the money and comes with a 3 year warranty. Is that enough to compete in a market where prices are falling across every category?"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

VAIO PCs Are Coming Back to the US in the Fall

Subject: Systems | August 25, 2015 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: vaio, z canvas

Sony's PC manufacturing division, VAIO, was spun out and sold off to Japan Industrial Partners last year. In the process, it shrunk down to about 250 employees and exited every market besides Japan. While it wasn't profitable last year, which makes sense for a restructure of this size, it expects to be floating on its own for this one.

This sounds like a SquareEnix ad...

They are also confident enough to expand back into the US.

This Autumn, which Paul Thurrott narrows down to October, VAIO will begin selling PCs through Microsoft's retail stores and website. The VAIO Z Canvas will be the first model to hit North America, which will have a PCIe 3.0-based SSD. The compute specs are less extraordinary as it is built around Intel Haswell-H and Iris Pro graphics. This is likely because the machine was previously released a few months ago in Japan, but it targets creative professionals so it should be sufficient in those areas. The high speed, PCIe SSD might even mask its weak points in typical usage.

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We then get to the price. The VAIO Z Canvas will launch above $2000, which is much more expensive than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It comes with a stylus, keyboard screen protector, and no bloatware under the “Microsoft Signature PC” branding. We will probably need to wait and see if any pricing or last minute specification adjustments occur before launch, but this seems like it will have some issues unless the SSD is much larger than 256 GB as rumored.

Source: VAIO

A hint of what to come from Hot Chips

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, hot chips, SK Hynix

Thanks to DigiTimes we are getting some information out of Hot Chips about what is coming up from AMD.  As Sebastian just posted we now have a bit more about the R9 Nano and you can bet we will see more in the near future.  They also describe the new HBM developed in partnership with SK Hynix,  4GB of high-bandwidth memory over a 4096-bit interface will offer an impressive 512Gb/s of memory bandwidth.  We also know a bit more about the new A-series APUs which will range up to 12 compute cores, four Excavator based CPUs and eight GCN based GPUs.  They will also be introducing new power saving features called Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling (AVFS) and will support the new H.265 compression standard.  Click on through to DigiTimes or wait for more pictures and documentation to be released from Hot Chips.

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"AMD is showcasing its new high-performance accelerated processing unit (APU), codenamed Carrizo, and the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury family of GPUs, codenamed Fiji, at the annual Hot Chips symposium."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes