Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2013 - 10:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: steam, steam sale, amazon
In case you hadn't heard yet, Steam is holding their annual Holiday Sale on PC games. What you probably didn't know though is that Amazon has committed to matching prices with the Steam sale! Now, the Amazon sales will just give you Steam keys that you can use in Steam, so what's the point? Well it makes it easier to combine with other purchases you may be making for the holidays and it also happens to support PC Perspective at the same.
What's not to love!?
Here are some of the best sales we found on the Steam Holiday Sale through Amazon! Keep in mind that deals will change frequently so buy them quickly if you find one you want!
Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2013 - 02:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: gold box, amazon
If you haven't picked up Assassin's Creed IV yet, today might be the best chance you'll get before the holiday. Amazon.com's Gold Box deal today offers you the PC DVD, Steam, Uplay, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions for just $29.99.
Just keep in mind that the Amazon Gold Box deal ends at the end of the day!
That is half off the current Steam price and based on my time with the game, and reviews in general, Assassin's Creed IV is much better than AC3 and currently sits at a score of 87 on Metacritic.
Subject: Editorial | November 25, 2013 - 02:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pcper, amazon
UPDATE: With biggest buying season of them all creeping up on this week here in the US, I just thought I would offer up another reminder about those readers that would like to support PC Perspective while they happen to be shopping on Amazon.com. You can either install one of the quick and easy extensions listed below or, if you would rather take the passive approach, click the link below and shop away!
Recently a couple of PC Perspective fans have asked about an Amazon Affiliate code they could use for their normal Amazon purchases to help support the team here. Previously, we rarely used one of these codes so I setup a new one specifically for our use. As it turns out the small commission we receive for Amazon purchases is quite a bit LARGER than any commission we get for our various links to Newegg.com for example.
Our Amazon code is: pcper04-20
The easiest way to integrate it into your shopping, rather than remembering to add it to your URL each time, is to use a couple of plugins for Chrome or FireFox. For Chrome, the plugin is called Amazon Affiliate Link and is super easy to install.
Install the plugin.
Right click the new icon in the upper right corner.
Set the affiliate IDs to pcper04-20
For FireFox, the plugin is called AffiliateFox.
Add the plugin to FireFox.
Click the okay to install it.
Go to your Add-on settings and add pcper04-20 as each code.
That's it, you're done and you're supporting PC Perspective! We thank you tremendously for it and promise to do our best to continue to bring you the best possible content!!
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Storage | November 19, 2013 - 01:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: i7-4770k, gold box, deals, amazon, 530 series
I don't often post about the Amazon Gold Box deals, but today the company has some great offerings specific to PC enthusiasts and DIY builders that you might want to take advantage of. Please keep in mind though that these deals are only good today, November 19th!!
The flagship offering is the Intel Core i7-4770K, the company's highest end LGA1150 Haswell processor, is on sale for $299; $60 off the normal MSRP. That is the best price I have seen on that flagship CPU with the exception of in-store offerings from MicroCenters.
For those of you on a tighter budget, Amazon has the Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge processor on sale for $199.
Another great price can be had on the Intel 530 Series 240GB SSD that is going for $149; well under the MSRP price.
Here are some other interesting deals, all found on the Gold Box deal page:
- Kingston HyperX 8GB kit DDR3-1600 for $64
- Corsair H90 cooler for $69
- Corsair AX760i power supply for $149
- Corsair Obsidian 900D Super Tower case for $289
- Creative Sound Blaster Z PCIE Sound Card for $59
- Corsair K50 Gaming Keyboard for $79
- Corsair M65 Gaming Mouse for $49
- Kingston HyperX Steel Series Siberia V2 Gaming Headset for $64
And just remember: these deals are only good today, November 19th!!
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2013 - 05:12 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z87X-UD5H, video, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, nvidia, gtx 780, grid, ec2, amd, amazon
PC Perspective Podcast #276 - 11/07/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R9 290, Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H, SSD Torture tests and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | November 5, 2013 - 09:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, grid, AWS, amazon
Amazon Web Services allows customers (individuals, organizations, or companies) to rent servers of certain qualities to match their needs. Many websites are hosted at their data centers, mostly because you can purchase different (or multiple) servers if you have big variations in traffic.
I, personally, sometimes use it as a game server for scheduled multiplayer events. The traditional method is spending $50-80 USD per month on a... decent... server running all-day every-day and using it a couple of hours per week. With Amazon EC2, we hosted a 200 player event (100 vs 100) by purchasing a dual-Xeon (ironically the fastest single-threaded instance) server connected to Amazon's internet backbone by 10 Gigabit Ethernet. This server cost just under $5 per hour all expenses considered. It was not much of a discount but it ran like butter.
This leads me to today's story: NVIDIA GRID GPUs are now available at Amazon Web Services. Both companies hope their customers will use (or create services based on) these instances. Applications they expect to see are streamed games, CAD and media creation, and other server-side graphics processing. These Kepler-based instances, named "g2.2xlarge", will be available along side the older Fermi-based Cluster Compute Instances ("cg1.4xlarge").
It is also noteworthy that the older Fermi-based Tesla servers are about 4x as expensive. GRID GPUs are based on GK104 (or GK107, but those are not available on Amazon EC2) and not the more compute-intensive GK110. It would probably be a step backwards for customers intending to perform GPGPU workloads for computational science or "big data" analysis. The newer GRID systems do not have 10 Gigabit Ethernet, either.
So what does it have? Well, I created an AWS instance to find out.
Its CPU is advertised as an Intel E5-2670 with 8 threads and 26 Compute Units (CUs). This is particularly odd as that particular CPU is eight-core with 16 threads; it is also usually rated by Amazon at 22 CUs per 8 threads. This made me wonder whether the CPU is split between two clients or if Amazon disabled Hyper-Threading to push the clock rates higher (and ultimately led me to just log in to an instance and see). As it turns out, HT is still enabled and the processor registers as having 4 physical cores.
The GPU was slightly more... complicated.
NVIDIA control panel apparently does not work over remote desktop and the GPU registers as a "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter". Actually, two are available in Device Manager although one has the yellow exclamation mark of driver woe (random integrated graphics that wasn't disabled in BIOS?). GPU-Z was not able to pick much up from it but it was of some help.
Keep in mind: I did this without contacting either Amazon or NVIDIA. It is entirely possible that the OS I used (Windows Server 2008 R2) was a poor choice. OTOY, as a part of this announcement, offers Amazon Machine Image (AMI)s for Linux and Windows installations integrated with their ORBX middleware.
I spot three key pieces of information: The base clock is 797 MHz, the memory size is 2990 MB, and the default drivers are Forceware 276.52 (??). The core and default clock rate, GK104 and 797 MHz respectively, are characteristic of the GRID K520 GPU with its 2 GK104 GPUs clocked at 800 MHz. However, since the K520 gives each GPU 4GB and this instance only has 3GB of vRAM, I can tell that the product is slightly different.
I was unable to query the device's shader count. The K520 (similar to a GeForce 680) has 1536 per GPU which sounds about right (but, again, pure speculation).
I also tested the server with TCPing to measure its networking performance versus the cluster compute instances. I did not do anything like Speedtest or Netalyzr. With a normal cluster instance I achieve about 20-25ms pings; with this instance I was more in the 45-50ms range. Of course, your mileage may vary and this should not be used as any official benchmark. If you are considering using the instance for your product, launch an instance and run your own tests. It is not expensive. Still, it seems to be less responsive than Cluster Compute instances which is odd considering its intended gaming usage.
Regardless, now that Amazon picked up GRID, we might see more services (be it consumer or enterprise) which utilizes this technology. The new GPU instances start at $0.65/hr for Linux and $0.767/hr for Windows (excluding extra charges like network bandwidth) on demand. Like always with EC2, if you will use these instances a lot, you can get reduced rates if you pay a fee upfront.
Amazon's Kindle Matchbook Program Offers Discounted or Free E-Books for Users That Buy Physical Copies
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2013 - 05:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: matchbook, kindle, ebook, amazon
Amazon recently announced a new service called Kindle Matchbook. Akin to the digital and physical music album matching AutoRip service, Matchbook will offer users Kindle editions of physical books purchased from Amazon at steep discounts.
Starting in October, Matchbook will offer Kindle editions for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or for free to customers that purchased the physical version of the book new from Amazon. The company is extending the program to those books purchased from 1995 to the present, and to future purchases. The program will cover approximately 10,000 books at the time of the program's launch in October.
Notably, the Kindle Matchbook program depends on publisher support, which means that users will only be able to get the discounted ebooks if the physical book publisher allows it. Hopefully, publishers will jump on board with the program and add more books to the supported library!
Keep an eye on Amazon's homepage for more information next month.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 18, 2013 - 04:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, nvidia, HPC, amazon
Adam DeConinck, high performance computing (HPC) systems engineer for NVIDIA, built a personal computer cluster in his spare time. While not exactly high performance, especially when compared to the systems he maintains for Amazon and his employer, its case is made of Lego and seems to be under a third of a cubic foot in volume.
Image source: NVIDIA Blogs
Raspberry Pi is based on a single-core ARM CPU bundled on an SoC with a 24 GFLOP GPU and 256 or 512 MB of memory. While this misses the cutesy point of the story, I am skeptical of the expected 16W power rating. Five Raspberry Pis, with Ethernet, draw a combined maximum of 17.5W, alone, and even that neglects the draw of the networking switch. My, personal, 8-port unmanaged switch is rated to draw 12W which, when added to 17.5W, is not 16W and thus something is being neglected or averaged. Then again, his device, power is his concern.
Despite constant development and maintenance of interconnected computers, professionally, Adam's will for related hobbies has not been displaced. Even after the initial build, he already plans to graft the Hadoop framework and really reign in the five ARM cores for something useful...
... but, let's be honest, probably not too useful.
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2013 - 06:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: file sync, cloud storage, cloud drive, amazon
Amazon has announced two new Java-based applications for Windows and Mac PCs that will sync files between multiple computers and the company's Cloud Drive online storage service.
Amazon Cloud Drive is a companion service that was spun off of its Cloud Player music locker service. Users get 5GB for free, with additional tiers of storage available for purchase. (Any music from Amazon side-loaded to Cloud Drive and Cloud Player before July 31st does not count towards your storage quota). Until now, Cloud Drive has been merely a web storage locker, but with the new desktop apps Amazon is adding file syncing capabilities that will keep your files updated across multiple PCs. The desktop apps will create a folder which will then contain a locally-stored copy of your Amazon Cloud Drive files. If you choose to install the desktop app onto a second PC, it will also sync with Cloud Drive and store a copy of the files locally. The most recently modified version will sync to all the other computers' local store and the cloud drive. There is no word on versioning support, so note that this should not be a replacement for a true file backup. With that said, the multiple-PC file sync is a welcome addition that makes Cloud Drive much more useful than ever before.
The new desktop apps will run on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8, and on Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8.
When Amazon was asked about mobile apps and file sync, the company told Ars Technica that it had "nothing specific to share." That could mean that Cloud Drive will bring file synchronization to iOS, Android, and WP8, or it could be a literal statement. It is difficult to say, but I think if Amazon wants its Cloud Drive storage service to be taken seriously the company will need to enter the mobile space (as it has done with Cloud Player).
Today, Amazon rolled out a new feature for users of its Cloud Player music service called AutoRip. The new feature will provide free MP3 files to users that purchase CDs from Amazon with the AutoRip logo. The MP3 files will automatically be made available for streaming or download in your Cloud Player application (or the web browser-based music library) upon purchase of an eligible album.
The MP3s are 256kbps files and can be played on Kindle Fire, Android and iOS devices as well as Samsung Smart TV, Roku, and Sonos boxes. You will also be able to stream them from the Cloud Player website. The free music files from AutoRip are stored in your Amazon Cloud Player library, but they will not count against your storage quota.
Currently, the AutoRip program extends to 50,000+ physical CDs available on the Amazon website. Amazon has stated that it is working to add additional albums to the program. Interestingly, the AutoRip program applies to all future purchases as well as any AutoRip eligible CD purchase from Amazon since 1998(!). Albums that are eligible for the free MP3 copies can be identified by the AutoRip logo, which is a double blue and green arrow.
Considering older CDs were likely ripped with inferior codecs and/or bitrates (like RealMedia...), the AutoRip service may be a great deal if you purchased your discs from Amazon! Personally, I’m surprised Amazon did not restrict the value add to Prime subscribers only (not that I’m complaining), but it should help to bolster physical CD sales if you are getting the MP3s anyway along with a physical disc.
The full press release is available below the break.