Podcast #354 - AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Nano, ASUS Zenfone2 and much more!

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2015 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, radeon, R9, fury x, Fury, Fiji, fiji xt, r9 nano, fiji x2, project quantum, asus, zenfone 3, g751j, gameworks, nvidia, metal gear solid

PC Perspective Podcast #354 - 06/18/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Nano, ASUS Zenfone2 and much more!

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

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

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ASUS Announces the STRIX R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2015 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: Strix R9 390X, Strix R9 390, Strix R9 380, Strix R7 370, strix, DirectCU II, asus

These particular ASUS STRIX models don't seem to have arrived at Amazon yet but Gigabyte, Sapphire, MSI and XFX are all showing up with prices, though perhaps not reasonable availability.  Newegg is also showing similar models and pricing, so keep your eyes out for the ASUS cards to appear.

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Fremont, CA (June 17, 2015) — ASUS today announced the Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 graphics cards. Powered by the latest AMD Radeon graphics-processing units (GPUs), the new Strix R9 390X and R9 390 graphics cards are packed with exclusive ASUS technologies. These include DirectCU III with a patented triple wing-blade fan design and ASUS Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components for aerospace-grade production quality and reliability. All models feature GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster software for intuitive performance tweaking and instant gameplay streaming.

Cool, silent gameplay: DirectCU III with a triple wing-blade fan design

The Strix R9 390X and R9 390 are equipped with ASUS-exclusive DirectCU III cooling technology, which features two 10mm direct-GPU-contact heat pipes — outperforming reference designs for gaming performance by up to 30%. They each have three fans engineered with a patented, new wing-blade design that delivers maximum airflow and static pressure over the heat sink — giving a 105% improvement over fans without wing-blades. This exclusive triple wing-blade design operates at noise levels three times (3X) quieter than reference cards, making DirectCU III the coolest and quietest graphics card-cooling solution available to date.

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The Strix R9 380 and R7 370 come with DirectCU II cooling technology, featuring direct-GPU-contact copper heat pipes and a dual wing-blade design to deliver an incredible gaming experience. All cards feature 0dB fan technology, which stops fan rotation completely during lighter gaming sessions — eliminating noise for undisturbed gameplay.

Premium quality and reliability: Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components

The Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 benefit from ASUS-exclusive Auto-Extreme technology, the industry’s first 100%-automated manufacturing process that removes human fallibility from the production line for consistent perfection — making them ultra-reliable in all scenarios, from general use to hardcore gaming and overclocking. Auto-Extreme technology eliminates flux to minimize dust buildup and oxidization, while the rear of the printed-circuit boards are totally smooth, for easy handling. This new manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals and reducing production power consumption by 50%.

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The new cards also feature aerospace-grade Super Alloy Power II1 components for enhanced efficiency, reduced mechanical noise under load, and lower operating temperatures for unsurpassed quality and reliability. Complementing their amazing reliability, the latest Strix graphics cards are built to be incredibly tough. The Strix R9 390X, R9 390 and R9 380 each come with a strengthened backplate that provides protection and also prevents PCB bending over time.

Tweakable and intuitive: GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster

Redesigned with an intuitive, all-new user interface, GPU Tweak II makes gaming and overclocking the new Strix cards easier and more visual than ever, while retaining advanced options for seasoned overclockers. With one click, the new Gaming Booster function maximizes system performance by removing redundant processes and allocating all available resources automatically. An included 1-year XSplit Gamecaster premium license — a $99 value — lets gamers easily stream or record gameplay via a convenient, in-game overlay.

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Source: ASUS
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Specifications

The ASUS Zenfone 2 is a 5.5-inch smartphone with a premium look and the specs to match. But the real story here is that it sells for just $199 or $299 unlocked, making it a tempting alternative to contract phones without the concessions often made with budget devices; at least on paper. Let's take a closer look to see how the new Zenfone 2 stacks up! (Note: a second sample unit was provided by Gearbest.com.)

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When I first heard about the Zenfone 2 from ASUS I was eager to check it out given its mix of solid specs, nice appearance, and a startlingly low price. ASUS has created something that has the potential to transcend the disruptive nature of a phone like the Moto E, itself a $149 alternative to contract phones that we reviewed recently. With its premium specs to go along with very low unlocked pricing, the Zenfone 2 could be more than just a bargain device, and if it performs well it could make some serious waves in the smartphone industry.

The Zenfone 2 also features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen with 1920x1080 resolution (in line with an iPhone 6 Plus or the OnePlus One), and beyond the internal hardware ASUS has created a phone that looks every bit the part of a premium device that one would expect to cost hundreds more. In fact, without spoiling anything up front, I will say that the context of price won't be necessary to judge the merit of the Zenfone 2; it stands on its own as a smartphone, and not simply a budget phone.

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The big question is going to be how the Zenfone 2 compares to existing phones, and with its quad-core Intel Atom SoC this is something of an unknown. Intel has been making a push to enter the U.S. smartphone market (with earlier products more widely available in Europe) and the Zenfone 2 marks an important milestone for both Intel and ASUS in this regard. The Z3580 SoC powering my review unit certainly sounds fast on paper with its 4 cores clocked up to 2.33 GHz, and no less than 4 GB of RAM on board (and a solid 64 GB onboard storage as well).

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Zenfone 2 smartphone!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design

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With the introduction of the ASUS G751JT-CH71, we’ve now got our first look at the newest ROG notebook design revision.  The celebrated design language remains the same, and the machine’s lineage is immediately discernible.  However, unlike the $2,000 G750JX-DB71 unit we reviewed a year and a half ago, this particular G751JT configuration is 25% less expensive at just $1,500.  So first off, what’s changed on the inside?

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(Editor's Note: This is NOT the recent G-Sync version of the ASUS G751 notebook that was announced at Computex. This is the previously released version, one that I am told will continue to sell for the foreseeable future and one that will come at a lower overall price than the G-Sync enabled model. Expect a review on the G-Sync derivative very soon!)

Quite a lot, as it turns out.  For starters, we’ve moved all the way from the 700M series to the 900M series—a leap which clearly ought to pay off in spades in terms of GPU performance.  The CPU and RAM remain virtually equivalent, while the battery has migrated from external to internal and enjoyed a 100 mAh bump in the process (from 5900 to 6000 mAh).  So what’s with the lower price then?  Well, apart from the age difference, it’s the storage: the G750JX featured both a 1 TB storage drive and a 256 GB SSD, while the G751JT-CH71 drops the SSD.  That’s a small sacrifice in our book, especially when an SSD is so easily added thereafter.  By the way, if you’d rather simply have ASUS handle that part of the equation for you, you can score a virtually equivalent configuration (chipset and design evolutions notwithstanding) in the G751JT-DH72 for $1750—still $250 less than the G750JX we reviewed.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS G751JT!!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard is one of the newest motherboards to join their Intel Z97-based line of products. The board is squarely targeted at gaming enthusiasts, combining an appealing aesthetic with a compelling feature set for a must-have product. At an MSRP of $169.99, the Z97-Pro Gamer offers premium features to budget-conscious gamers.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

Even with its aggressive price-point, ASUS coupled the Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard with a top-rated power system dubbed Gamer's Guardian. The board includes an 8+2 phase digital power delivery system, 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, DIGI+ VRMs, ESD (electro-static discharge) modules protecting the integrated ports, and DRAM overcurrent protection with integrated resetable fuses. For superior sound fedelity, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX audio system into the board's design, featuring illuminated board sheilding, 300 ohm headphone amplifier, and ELNA audio capacitors.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard!

Computex 2015: ASUS 3800R 34″ Ultrawide 3440x1440 IPS 21:9 Curved G-SYNC Monitor

Subject: Displays | June 1, 2015 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gsync, g-sync, asus, 3800R

At Computex this week ASUS is showing off a prototype of the new ROG 3800R monitor,  a 34-in curved display with a 3440x1440 resolution and G-Sync variable refresh rate capability. ASUS claims on its PCDIY blog that the 21:9 aspect ratio was the one of the "most requested" specifications for a new ROG monitor, followed by a curved design. The result is a gorgeous display:

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Here's a list of specifications:

  • 34” optimal dimension for QHD resolutions with 3440×1440 resolution
  • 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio for increased immersion and improved horizontal workflow
  • IPS based panel for superior color reproduction, black levels and reduction of color shifting
  • NVIDIA G-SYNC equipped offering smooth, fluid and tear free gaming with improved motion clarity. Additionally equipped with ULMB operating mode for outstanding motion clarity.
  • Frameless design for seamless surround gaming
  • ASUS exclusive GamePlus feature and Turbo Key
  • Ergonomic adjustment including tilt, swivel and height adjustment

Hot damn, we want of these and we want it yesterday! There is no mention of the refresh rate of the display here though we did see information from NVIDIA that ASUS was planning a 34x14 60 Hz screen - but we are not sure this is the same model being shown. And the inclusion of ULMB would normally indicate a refresh rate above 60-75 Hz...

Another interesting note: this monitor appears to include both DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity.

This 34-inch 3800R curved display features wide-viewing angles, a 3440 x 1440 native resolution, and 21:9 aspect ratio. It features NVIDIA® G-SYNC™ display technology to deliver smooth, lag-free visuals. G-SYNC synchronizes the display’s refresh rate to the GPU in any GeForce® GTX™-powered PC to eliminate screen tearing and minimizing display stutter and input lag. This results in sharper, more vibrant images; and more fluid and responsive gameplay. It has extensive connectivity options that include DisplayPort and HDMI.

The above information came from ASUS just a few short hours ago, so you can assume that it is accurate. Could this be the start of panels that integrate dual scalars (G-Sync module plus something else) to offer more connectivity or has the G-Sync module been updated to support more inputs? We'll find out!

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces ZenPad 8-inch Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: ZenPad, tablets, moorefield, computex 2015, computex, intel atom, atom x3, asus, ZenPad S

ASUS has announced their ZenPad 8.0 Series of tablets, and these feature some proprietary visual enhancements to give their screens more contrast and vivid color:

  • ASUS VisualMaster HDR video technology
  • ASUS TruVivid (direct bonded glass)
  • Bluelight filter (reduces blue light by 30%)
  • ASUS Tru2Life (contrast and sharpness enhancement) technology
  • Inteligent contrast (up to 150% wider contrast levels)

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The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0

What about specifications? Here’s a quick rundown of the tablets, both of which run Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS ZenUI:

ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA

  • Intel Atom 3580 Moorefield
    • Quad-core up to 2.3 GHz
    • PowerVR G6430 Rogue graphics
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage
  • 8-inch IPS panel
    • 2048x1536 display (4:3)
    • 324ppi
    • TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
    • 73.75% screen-to-body ratio
  • Dual front speakers
  • 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Micro SDXC (up to 128GB)
  • 15.2Wh battery
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB Type-C connector

ZenPad 8.0 Z380C series

  • Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA)  C3200 series
    • Quad-core
    • Mali 450MP4 GPU
  • 8-inch IPS display
    • 76.5% screen-to-body ratio
    • 1280 x 800
    • 16:10 ratio
    • 10-finger multi-touch
  • 1GB/2GB ram
  • 8GB or 16GB eMMC
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
  • 1 x micro SDXC
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, E-compass, GPS, Hall sensor, Light sensor
  • 4000 mAh battery (non-removable)

No specifics on pricing or availablitiy just yet.

Source: ASUS

Computex: 2015: ASUS Announces Two Systems with Intel Skylake Processors

Subject: Systems | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: vivopc, vc65, g11cb, computex 2015, computex, asus

First, don't get too excited: there isn't much information that has been confirmed with this announcement. But I did find it interesting that ASUS launched not one but two different systems using 6th Generation Intel Core processors, codenamed Skylake. No specifications, no pricing, no time for release; but they do offer varied specifications.

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The ASUS G11CB is a gaming desktop PC that is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core processor and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics card. It delivers impressive high-speed performance, with M.2 SSD, DDR4 SDRAM, and USB 3.1. The G11CB has an aggressively-designed chassis, with a central zone on its front façade showcasing 8-million color LED light effects, with three red-lit “flames” on its flanks. Aegis II software improves the overall gaming experience, with GameAlive allowing gamers to record and edit their game videos to share on social media sites.

ASUS VivoPC VC65.jpg

ASUS VivoPC VC65 is the latest flagship in the VivoPC line. VivoPC VC65 is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i processor. VivoPC VC65 provides flexible storage options and can accommodate a total of two storage drives. VivoPC accepts both solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives; with RAID support giving users the option to use it as a mini server or NAS. It can also serve as a media library to provide users with non-stop entertainment; and allows for easy software installation through its optical disc drive. VivoPC does away with an external power adapter, resulting in neater, clutter-free placement options; it can even be VESA-mounted.

The G11CB will be a true desktop system with the added weight of a GeForce GTX 980 for gaming performance. Note that the system does use DDR4 memory, confirming that Skylake will utilize it, as expected. The smaller, more business friendly VC65 uses Skylake but for general computing. ASUS actually is pitching the VC65 as a mini server or NAS with its flexible storage options. Can you do that with your VESA-mounted PC??

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces the Transformer Book T100HA

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: Transformer Book T100HA, quad-core, intel atom, computex 2015, computex, Cherry Trail, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has announced the newest version of their Transformer Book 2-in-1, and the T100HA features a Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5 series quad-core processor and will run Windows 10 when released later this year.

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From ASUS:

"ASUS Transformer Book T100HA is the successor to the best-selling Transformer Book T100TA 2-in-1, and combines the power of a stylish 10.1-inch laptop with the convenience of a super-slim tablet. This new iteration has up to 14 hours of battery life, and has an ultra-thin 8.45mm chassis that weights just 580g. It has a metallic finish and is available in Silk White, Tin Grey, Aqua Blue and Rouge Pink.

The T100HA is powered by a choice of quad-core Intel® Atom™ ‘Cherry Trail’ X5 series processors, and has 4GB RAM and a USB Type-C port. This device comes pre-installed with Windows 10 and will be available in the third quarter of 2015."

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Source: ASUS

Computex 2015: New ASUS ROG Notebooks include G-Sync, Thin-and-Light Options

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gl552, g751, g501, computex 2015, computex, asus

Launching with Computex this week, ASUS has a set of three new ROG (Republic of Gamers) notebooks for potential mobile gamers to take a look at. First up is the G751JT and G751JY machines that feature Intel Core i7 processors (likely Haswell) and GeForce GTX 980M discrete graphics. After the recent announcement of G-Sync for notebooks, it should be no surprise that this updated G751 will feature an impressive 75 Hz 1920x1080 screen that supports variable refresh gaming!

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ASUS G751JT/JY Notebook

For those more interested in a thin-and-light gaming machine, ASUS has the ROG G501. This will be available with either 2560x1440 or 3840x2160 resolution displays and will feature Intel Core i7 processors, again without specification on if that is Haswell or Broadwell based. ASUS claims that the G501 "features dual independent fans and copper heat sinks to ensure efficient thermal management for smooth and stable performance even at high loads."

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ASUS G501 Notebook

Finally, the ROG GL552 looks to be a more standard gaming rig with a Haswell-based Intel processor, non-descript "discrete graphics" and an "optional" solid state drive. The GL552 will feature an "easy-access design for additional storage and memory upgrades."

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ASUS GL552 Notebook

Look for more details on these notebooks and hopefully reviews very soon!