Subject: Systems | September 17, 2012 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: micro ATX, llano, htpc, gigabyte, GA-A55M-DS2, amd, a8-3870K
If you are on a tight budget and can't afford the cost of a Llano based notebook, or simply just don't want a mobile PC then Legit Reviews can help you out with their new system build guide. For just under $300, shipping included, they will show you how to set up an A8-3870K based system on Gigabyte's GA-A55M-DS2 motherboard, 4GB DDR3-1333 and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD along with an optical drive and a micro ATX case. It won't win any overclocking awards but it has enough outputs to make a decent HTPC system and will handle light gaming duties thanks to the integrated graphics on the A8-3870K
"Are you looking to build a budget PC, but have a limited budget to work with? We have had a number of readers and businesses that we consult with looking for new systems that will save power and be faster than the systems they currently have. When we started to look into low cost Do-It-Yourself (DIY) systems we found that you could easily build an AMD Llano system for less than $300. And when we say under $300 we mean with shipping included! You would think that for under $300 we would have to cut corners and use knock off brands, but that is not the case here. We are using the top of the line AMD A8-3870K APU and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB Solid-State Drive (SSD) into this system. The one corner that we did cut is..."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Giada Mini PC i35G Review @ Madshrimps
- Midrange System Buyer's Guide @ AnandTech
- DinoPC Predator Extreme 3570K OC @ Kitguru
- Building the 2012 AnandTech SMB / SOHO NAS Testbed @ AnandTech
- HP Pavilion 23-1000z Review @ TechReviewSource
- Vizio CA27-A1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 Review @ TechReviewSource
AMD's Radeon HD 7000 Series Graphics Cards Reportedly Receiving Price Cuts Soon (Update: AMD denies further price cuts)
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:25 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Radeon HD 7000, price cuts, pitcairn, HD7000, gpu, amd
Update: AMD has stated that there will not be any price cuts.
NVIDIA launched two budget Kepler-based graphics cards today, and the sub-$250 GPUs are competitively priced. The GTX 650 is a card with an MSRP of $109 and is matched against the Radeon 7750 (which retails for around $110 depending on manufacturer). Further, the $229 GTX 660 is pitted against the Radeon 7850 – an approximately $220 card (some manufacturers beat that price, others are priced higher).
The AMD Radeon HD 7850 Graphics Card from our review.
And while you can find these AMD graphics cards for slightly less than the NVIDIA competition, the green team GPU is a faster card in most games (especially at 1080p). In an attempt to sway gamers towards the AMD choice, the company is preparing to cut prices on the entire 7000-series line – including the 7750 and 7850. These are cuts on the, erm, arleady-cut prices announced last month.
The Price cuts are as follows:
|AMD Radeon HD GPU||New Slashed Prices|
|7970 GHz Edition||$430|
|7950 Boost Edition||$300|
These prices are almost certainly for reference designs, and you can naturally expect to pay for any factory overclocked model. What these price cuts mean, though is that the base versions are now cheaper to get ahold of, which is a good thing (for gamers, not so much for AMD heh).
When specifically talking about the price cuts as a response to budget Kepler cards, both the 7750 and 7850 can be had for anywhere between $5 and $20 cheaper in general. That’s is ~$20 extra dollars that you could devote to more RAM or put you over the edge into getting a better quality PSU. It definitely makes the decision to go AMD or NVIDIA a bit more difficult (but in an exciting/good way).
This is not the first time that AMD has slashed prices on its 7000 series graphics cards and now that it has competition on all fronts, it will be interesting to see how all the prices finally shake out to be. Interestingly, Softpedia seems to have posted the price cut information on Tuesday (two days before Kepler) but states that the cuts will not go into effect until next week – though Newegg seems to have taken some initiative of its own by pricing certain cards at the new prices already. This may have technically been more of a pre-emptive move than a reactionary one, but either way the budget gaming section of the market just got exciting again!
Do the impending price cuts have you reconsidering your budget GPU choice, or are you set on the new Kepler hardware?
Subject: Processors | September 13, 2012 - 01:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, fm2, cpu, athlon, APU, AMD A series, amd, a75
NVIDIA’s new Kepler graphics cards (such as the GTX 660 we recently reviewed) will be getting most of the PC enthusiast attention today, but there is a bit of news about AMD to talk about as well.
The Trinity APU die.
Thanks to a Gigabyte motherboard compatibility list that was accidentally leaked to the internet, it was revealed that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) would be repurposing Trinity APU dies that don’t quite make the cut due to non-operative graphics cores. Instead of simply discarding the processors, AMD is going to bin the chips into at least three CPU-only Athlon-branded processors. The Athlon X4 730, X4 740, and X4 750K are the three processors that are (now) public knowledge. All three of the CPUs have TDP ratings of 65W, and the X4 750K is even unlocked – allowing for overclocking. Further, the processors are all quad core parts with a total of 4MB of L2 cache (1MB per core).
The new Athlon-branded processors will be supported by the A75 chipset and will plug into FM2-socket equipped motherboards.
The following chart details the speeds and feeds of the Athlon processors with Trinity CPU cores.
|Athlon X4 730||2.8GHz||65W|
|Athlon X4 740||3.2GHz||65W|
|Athlon X4 750K||3.4GHz||65W|
Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability. You can expect them to be significantly cheaper than the fully fledged Trinity processors to keep them price-competitive and in-line with the company's traditional CPU-only processors.
Would you consider rolling a Trinity-based Athlon in a budget build?
Read about the new direction of AMD as it moves to producing Vishera processors and beyond.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: seamicro, amd, Intel, xeon, piledriver, smug
To think that only 3 years ago we finally saw the end of the legal battle between Intel and AMD over the x86 patent makes today's news bring a smile to those with a certain sense of humour. Some of SeaMicro's new servers will be powered by Intel's Xeon line of processors, meaning that an AMD owned company will be offering Intel Inside. As AMD purchased SeaMicro for their "Freedom" 3D mesh/torus interconnect technology as opposed to an attempt to push Intel out of that particular make of server, this move makes perfect sense as AMD's bottom line will benefit from every sale of an Intel based SeaMicro server. It also opens up the choices available to the market as you will be able to purchase Piledriver based SeaMicro servers using the same interconnect technology.
From The Register we get more information on the Piledriver processors we will see in these servers, they will have eight cores and would come in three speeds; 2GHz, 2.3GHz, and 2.8GHz. They also infer that with this design you could have 512 cores and 4TB of memory in a 10U chassis which is enough to make any SETI@Home or Folding@Home team member drool with jealousy. On the Intel side they will use the 2.5GHz quad core Xeon E3-1265L v2 which means you would only have a mere 256 cores in a similar 10U chassis. DigiTimes also picked up on this story with more details on the insides of the servers, both Intel and AMD.
"SeaMicro is not longer an independent company, but you would not have guessed that if you were dropped in from outer space to attend the launch of the new SM15000 microserver in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Advanced Micro Devices may own SeaMicro, but the company went out of its way to support the latest "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E3-1200 v2 processor from rival Intel as well as its own forthcoming "Piledriver" Opteron processor as new compute nodes in a new SeaMicro chassis."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel hints at weaving network fabric into Xeons, Atoms @ The Register
- Microsoft to open 32 pop-up retail stores for the holidays @ The Register
- NETGEAR N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL 2+ Modem Router Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung will seek to ban Apple's Iphone 5 @ The Inquirer
- A preview of the reviews for the iPhone 5 @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtualization, radeon, onlive, gaming, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd
In the wake of OnLive going bankrupt and selling itself to new investors, a new cloud gaming company has emerged called CiiNOW. The company was founded in 2010 and now has 24 employees. It has managed to raise more than $13 million USD, but with a new investment from new chip designer AMD CiiNow is ready to go public with its software. Interestingly, instead of starting its own cloud gaming service, CiiNow is positioning itself as a Middleware company by selling its virtualization and gaming software to other companies. Those business customers would then use CiiNow’s software to start their own cloud gaming services.
In the deal with AMD, CiiNOW will recommend AMD Radeon graphics cards to customers as well as supporting them on its software platform. According to CiiNow, its virtualized platform is able to run on any data center or cloud computing platform’s hardware. While OnLive generally required specialized servers where the graphics card was dedicated to providing games to one (or a small number of) user(s), CiiNow claims to be able to provide up to eight 720p HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per traditional server rack. On the user side of things, CiiNow has stated that gamers would need at least a Mbps internet connection in order to play the streamed games effectively. Company CEO Ron Haberman was quoted by Venture Beat in stating the following:
“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs, we are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”
While the company has not gone into details about how the virtualization software works on off-the-shelf servers, they claim that it is an extremely scalable solution that can support rapidly growing numbers of end users without dramatically increasing hardware costs. It's impossible to say how well cloud gaming services based on this technology will work without more details or a hands on, but it is nice to see someone else take up the mantle from OnLive – especially with competitor Gaikai being bought out by Sony. CiiNow wants its technology to be used to deliver AAA titles to gamers over the Internet, so I'm interested in how they are going to pull that off using varying hardware with CiiNow's software layer running on top (specifically, the performance they will be able to get out of the hardware and how it will be sliced up between clients/gamers).
The company has said that games will not need to be ported to the virtualized software to work, only a DRM free copy from the publisher needs to be provided to load it onto the platform. Further, the cloud gaming provider using CiiNow's software will be able to support game pads and other controllers to interact with the streamed games. CiiNow does not list specific latency numbers on its site, but claims that it is using a low latency H.264 video stream to send the gameplay down to users. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to match or exceed NVIDIA's GRID technology in that respect, however.
There are still a lot of questions about how CiiNOW's software will work, and whether it will advance cloud gaming in general. Fortunately, you should be able to get some answers soon as the company's software is now available to the public, and we should start to see some new cloud gaming providers popping up based on the virtualization technology. Reportedly, the company has completed several trial runs in Europe and has potential customers in the US, Korea, and Australia. CiiNow claims that it could take around two months from when a customer orders equipment before its cloud gaming service can go live, so the first fruits of CiiNow's labor might emerge by the end of this year.
There is a preview of a cloud gaming service up on CiiNOW's website, but no partners with plans to launch gaming services have been publicly announced yet.
In the video below, CiiNOW CEO Ron Haberman introduces the company's new cloud gaming platform.
Continue reading for my speculation and brief thoughts on cloud gaming. Feel free to join the comment discussion (no registration required).
Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2012 - 09:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini-itx, htpc, fusion, biostar, APU, amd, a68i-350 deluxe, a68
While Intel has gotten a lot of Mini-ITX love lately, AMD is not out of the game yet. Motherboard manufacturer Biostar recently launched an AMD Fusion APU powered Mini-ITX motherboard that would make for a nice little HTPC. The A68I-350 Deluxe is based around some of the latest technologies including support for DDR3, PCI-E 3.0, and USB 3.0 standards.
The A68I-350 Deluxe motherboard measures 17 cm x 17 cm and comes with a bundled dual core AMD Fusion 350D APU. A heatsink and passive cooling for the south bridge are also provided in the package. The graphics card, memory, storage and other accessories are up to you, however. The Mini-ITX board features two DDR3 DIMM slots that support a maximum of 16 GB. Located in the lower right-hand corner are three SATA 3 6Gbps ports. Below that is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot for a graphics card or other peripheral. Additional internal IO includes:
- 1 x printer header
- 2 x USB 2.0 header
- 1 X front panel audio
- 1 X front panel header (hdd, power, reset, ect)
- 1 x S/PDIF-OUT header
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x system fan header
- 1 x serial header
According to Biostar, the motherboard also uses all solid capacitors to improve longevity.
Rear IO on the board is not quite as extensive as some of the other offerings available, but is still fairly good for the price. It features two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, one HDMI out, one VGA output, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8111F Gigabit controller), and three audio output jacks (Realtek ALC662 6-channel HD audio).
The AMD APU that comes with the A68I-350 Deluxe features Radeon 6310 graphics, which are not the fastest but will still provide plenty of oomph for watching videos on the big screen. While it has not yet shown up at online retailers like Amazon and Newegg yet, it is reportedly already shipping and will have an MSRP of € 66 (euros) or approximately $84 USD. Considering the Intel options that have recently surfaced are going for $100+ easily, this Biostar motherboard should provide a nice budget option for your next HTPC or small form factor PC build!
You can find more information on the A68I-350 Deluxe over at the Biostar website.
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, hot chips, bulldozer, amd, Abu Dhabi
You've seen the slides everywhere and read through what Josh could observe and predict from those slides but at the end of Hot Chips will still know little more about the core everyone is waiting for. The slides show a core little changed from Bulldozer, which is exactly what we've been expecting as AMD has always described Steamroller as a refined Bulldozer design, improving the existing architecture as opposed to a complete redesign. SemiAccurate did pull out one little gem which might mean good news for both AMD and consumers which pertains to the high density libraries slide. The 30% decrease in size and power consumption seems to have been implemented by simply using the high density libraries that AMD uses for GPUs. As this library already exists, AMD didn't need to spend money to develop it, they essentially managed this 30% improvement with a button press, as SemiAccurate put it. This could well mean that Steamroller will either come out at a comparatively low price or will give AMD higher profit margins ... or a mix of both.
"With that in mind, the HDL slide was rather interesting. AMD is claiming that if you rebuild Bulldozer with an HDL library, the resulting chip has a 30% decrease in size and power use. To AMD at least, this is worth a full shrink, but we only buy that claim if it is 30% smaller and 30% less power hungry, not 30% in aggregate. That said, it is a massive gain with just a button press.
AMD should be applauded, or it would have been, but during the keynote, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Why didn’t they do this 5 years ago?”. If you can get 30% from changing out a library to the ones you build your GPUs with, didn’t someone test this out before you decided on layout tools?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The best and worst of IFA 2012 @ The Inquirer
- US energy lab's pump-happy petaflopper goes green @ The Register
- Quantum Teleportation Sends Information 143 Kilometers @ Slashdot
- Finger-free Kinect coming to fondlesome Windows 8 @ The Register
- VIA suffers close to 15% on-month drop in August revenues @ DigiTimes
- Micron expresses interest in partnering with TSMC @ DigiTimes
- An Argument Against Expensive Solid State Drives @ Benchmark Reviews
- Interview: 2Dawn Games on its upcoming shooter 'Ravaged' and life as an indie studio @ TechSpot
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 3, 2012 - 07:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor pcs+, powercolor, gpu boost, amd, 7950 with boost, 7950
Earlier this month AMD announced that it was upgrading the Radeon HD 7950 graphics card to run at higher clockspeeds and with boost capability. The PowerTune with Boost technology uses digital temperature estimation and dynamic voltage control to increase the GPU core clockspeed above the base clockspeed in most applications.
Using a new BIOS, manufacturers would be able to refresh their existing lineups to enable PowerTune with Boost and higher clockspeeds. Original graphics cards along with the refreshed boost-capable GPUs will be sold in parallel (the original 7950s are not being phased out completely yet). And in a somewhat similar situation to unlockable 6950 reference cards, users could attempt to flash the new boost-capable BIOS to their original HD 7950s – though it is not guaranteed to work (and that's where the OEM certification becomes useful).
AMD Add In Board (AIB) partner PowerColor (who recently launched the Devil 13 7990) has released its second Radeon HD 7950 graphics card with boost in the form of its custom – and factory overclocked – PCS+ graphics card. The original PCS+ and new "Boost State" graphics card will be sold simultaneously, and (fortunately) you will be able to tell them apart by the red Boost State sticker on the box and the new "Boost State" labeling tacked onto the product name at online retailers. The new PowerColor PCS+ HD7950 3GB GDDR5 Boost State graphics card steps up the factory overclock to 900 MHz base while keeping the same PCS+ cooler and PCB design. The triple-slot design incorporates a cooler with dual 92mm fans and three 8mm heatpipes connected to an aluminum fin array. The PCB hosts the 7950 GPU, 3GB of GDDR5 RAM clocked at 1250 MHz, 6+2+1 power phase, digital PWM circuitry, and ferrite core chokes. A dual BIOS switch and two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors are also present. Video outputs include two mini-DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and one DVI.
Those specifications remain unchanged, and the new graphics card is essentially a PCS+ HD7950 that has been certified to run with the updated BIOS at the new GPU clockspeeds (and with boost). It may be possible to flash an original PCS+ 7950 with the updated BIOS and get the same performance as the new card but there are, obviously, no guarantees. However, because of the dual BIOS switch the risk of permanent damage is minimal (though the warranty would likely be void).
There is no word on pricing or when exactly you will be able to buy the new "Boost State" cards, but they should start showing up at retailers soon. Expect pricing to be a bit above the original PCS+ GPU's (approx.) $330 retail price.
Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2012 - 03:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook, s405, s400, s300, Lenovo, laptop, Ivy Bridge, core i5, budget, amd, a8
Tablets and ultrabooks have stolen the IFA 2012 show, but the hardware – while nice to look at – is not for everyone, especially for the price. It seems that Lenovo has the budget showings covered by announcing three budget laptops that offer up some decent specifications.
Lenovo has added three new laptops to its Ideapad S series, and the specifications of the new models are vastly improved versus the current netbook-class S-series models. The new additions are the S300, S400, and S405, and all three are packing the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD respectively.
All three of the laptops feature a display resolution of 1366x768, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad with gesture support, 720p webcam, and a "tactile metal finish" for the laptop lid that comes in silver, pink, or red colors. External ports include an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and power jack on the right side and a USB 3.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and recovery button on the left. They are all expected to provide around four hours of battery life, and the laptops weigh in at 3.97 pounds and are 0.86" thick. All three models will come with Windows 7, but will eligible for the $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.
According to the press release, all three models will have cotton candy pink, red, and silver-gray lid color options in a "tactile" metal finish, though only the S300 has been spotted in the wild with the pink lid.
The S300 has a 13.3" screen while the S400 and S405 have 14" screens, but they share the same chassis, which means that the S300 will have a slightly bigger bezel but otherwise will be the same as the higher-end models on the outside.
On the inside, the S300 is powered by an Intel ultra low voltage (ULV) Core i3 or Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor, a 500GB mechanical hard drive, up to 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. Other features include Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio v2.
The S400 follows that exact same pattern: Intel ULV Core i3/i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 500GB spinning platter hard drive, 4GB of RAM, optional AMD Radeon 7450M GPU, WiDi, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and WiDi support. The differences include a larger 14" LED backlit display (at that same 1366x768 resolution, unfortunately) and an optional 32GB SSD.
The S400 comes in two different lid color options: a black interior and red lid, or a black interior with silver lid.
The S405 breaks the mold by replacing the Intel Ivy Bridge processor for an AMD A8 Trinity APU. It can also have up to 1TB of mechanical hard drive storage, 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M. Alternatively, it can be upgraded to a 32GB SSD. It features the same LED backlit 14" display and red/black or silver/black color scheme as the S400. The WiDi option does not appear to be included with the Ideapad S405 (which would make sense), but otherwise it is essentially the S400 without the Intel CPU/iGPU.
All three notebooks will be available later this month in the US, and the starting price is $499. The new Lenovo Ideapads make up a nice middle ground between expensive thin-and-light ultrabooks and low cost tablet+keyboard combinations. The quality of the keyboard and trackpad are really going to make or break the new S-series notebooks, because if they manage to pull off a good typing experience these could be some decent travel companions for people that need a productivity machine with a bit of "oomph" thanks to the Intel i5 or AMD Trinity APU. On the other hand, if the keyboard is crappy, the middle ground budget notebooks will really miss the entire point and road warriors will need to look elsewhere. Be on the lookout for reviews on these S-series Lenovo notebooks, as they look interesting for the money (if you are in the position of looking for a budget workhorse machine/one that would not be as terrible to lose on a trip, et al).
What do you think about the new budget Lenovo laptops?
Subject: Systems | August 31, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: trinity, SFF, htpc, Arctic MC101, amd, a10-4600m
There is a lot to like about the Arctic MC101 HTPC, from the brushed aluminium exterior to the Trinity based quad core A10-4600M and HD7660M graphics core that comes with the A10. Bjorn3D thought it was rather strange that the system ships without a remote control but thankfully it does have an IR sensor so a Windows Media Centre type remote will work perfectly. Connectivity is quite good, USB 3.0, combo USB 2.0/eSATA port, a headphone jack and a 4-in-1 memory card reader, along the front and sides. The back panel has even more, TV antenna, an audio out port, a line-in jack, SPDIF audio out, 4 USB 2.0 ports, two more USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out and an ethernet port. At ~$750 it will set you back a bit to purchase and after reading Bjorn3D's review you may be willing to spend it.
"Arctic’s latest home entertainment system user an AMD A10-4600M APU, bringing a powerful combination of CPU and GPU in a tiny little box. Packed with WiFi, TV Tuner, 8GB RAM, and 1TB of storage, the MC101 brings us plenty of power for our media needs and is also able to deliver decent gaming performance."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Arctic MC101-A10 Home Entertainment Centre @ Kitguru
- Mede8er MED1000X3D review - 3D media player without Android @ Hardware.info
- 128-inch silver screen for your viewing room @ Hack a Day
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Play! Android Media Player @ Tweaktown
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