Revamped Enthusiast Platform
Join us at 12:30pm PT / 3:30pm ET as Intel's Matt Dunford joins us for a live stream event to discuss the release of Haswell-E and the X99 platform!! Find us at http://www.pcper.com/live!!
Sometimes writing these reviews can be pretty anti-climactic. With all of the official and leaked information released about Haswell-E over the last six to nine months, there isn't much more to divulge that can truly be called revolutionary. Yes, we are looking at the new king of the enthusiast market with an 8-core processor that not only brings a 33% increase in core count over the previous generation Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E platforms, but also includes the adoption of the DDR4 memory specification, which allows for high density and high speed memory subsystems.
And along with the new processor on a modified socket (though still LGA2011) comes a new chipset with some interesting new features. If you were left wanting for USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt on X79, then you are going to love what you see with X99. Did you think you needed some more SATA ports to really liven up your pool of hard drives? Retail boards are going to have you covered.
Again, just like last time, you will find a set of three processors that are coming into the market at the same time. These offerings range from the $999 price point and go down to the much more reasonable cost of $389. But this time there are more interesting decisions to be made based on specification differences in the family. Do the changes that Intel made in the sub-$1000 SKUs make it a better or worse buy for users looking to finally upgrade?
Haswell-E: A New Enthusiast Lineup from Intel
Today's launch of the Intel Core i7-5960X processor continues on the company's path of enthusiast branded parts that are built off of a subset of the workstation and server market. It is no secret that some Xeon branded processors will work in X79 motherboards and the same is true of the upcoming Haswell-EP series (with its X99 platform) launching today. As an enthusiast though, I think we can agree that it doesn't really matter how a processor like this comes about, as long as it continues to occur well into the future.
The Core i7-5960X processor is an 8-core, 16-thread design built on what is essentially the same architecture we saw released with the mainstream Haswell parts released in June of 2013. There are some important differences of course, including the lack of integrated graphics and the move from DDR3 to DDR4 for system memory. The underlying microarchitecture remains unchanged, though. Previously known as the Haswell-E platform, the Core i7-5960X continues Intel's trend of releasing enthusiast/workstation grade platforms that are based on an existing mainstream architecture.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | August 28, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, transformer t100, Intel, Bay Trail, Atom Z3775, asus
Following rumors earlier this summer, ASUS has quietly refreshed its Transformer T100 tablet. ASUS is now offering T100 tablet versions in multiple colors with a faster Intel Bay Trail processor as well as a version that retains the original SoC but adds a 500GB hard drive to the keyboard dock. I have been keeping an eye on the T100 since it first launched almost a year ago at IFA 2013, and have been eagerly waiting for the rumored refresh. Fortunately, that wait is now over because the updated Transformer T100s are finally starting to appear and be available for purchase on retailers' websites (first at Tiger Direct, then Amazon, and others now).
The T100 is now available in red and white as well as the original gray. The red and white SKUs feature a higher end Bay Trail SoC while the updated gray SKU comes with a 500GB mechanical hard drive nested inside the keyboard dock. The table below lists the model numbers for the new tablets. I should note that there are conflicting specifications at different retailers for the model numbers listed, which makes this under-the-radar refresh so frustrating, but after a bit of digging I believe the specifications to be accurate and any conflicting information to simply be errors on the part of those retailers.
|Model Numbers||Processor||Internal Storage||Color||Price (Amazon)||Price (MSRP)|
|T100TA-C1-WH(S)||Intel Z3775||64GB eMMC||White||$394.99||$399|
|T100TA-C1-RD(S)||Intel Z3775||64GB eMMC||Red||$388.99||$399|
|T100TA-C1-GR(S)||Intel Z3775||64GB eMMC||Gray||$329.99||$399|
|T100TA-H2-GR||Intel Z3740||64GB eMMC + 500GB HDD||Gray||$449.99||$?|
|T100TA-H1-GR||Intel Z3740||32GB eMMC + 500GB HDD||Gray||$369.00||$399|
The new colors are nice (I'm partial to the red T100), but the upgraded processor is the truly interesting bit about this Windows tablet (which won PC Perspective's "Best Hardware of 2013" award). The original T100 launched with an Intel Atom Z3740 SoC an the refreshed Transformer T100 uses a higher clocked Atom Z3775. The Z3775 is a higher-end Intel Bay Trail processor with four Silvermont CPU cores clocked at 1.46GHz that can boost to as high as 2.39GHz. The HD Graphics GPU retains the same base clockspeed as the Z3740 but has a higher turbo frequency of 778MHz (versus 667MHz on the Z3740). The table below lists the specifications of the two chips. The new SoC has significantly higher CPU clocks and a decent boost to potential GPU horsepower (thermals permitting).
|Intel Atom SoC||Z3740||Z3775|
|CPU Cores||4 x "Silvermont" Cores||4 x "Silvermont" Cores|
|CPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost)||1.33GHz / 1.86GHz||1.46GHz / 2.39GHz|
|HD Graphics GPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost)||311MHz / 667MHz||311MHz / 778MHz|
|Memory Support||4GB 1066MHz||4GB 1066MHz|
The refreshed T100 has an MSRP of $399 USD for the red and white versions with 64GB eMMC storage and gray SKU with 32GB internal storage and 500GB keyboard dock though retail prices are slightly less than that at the time of writing. The Transformer T100 with 64GB eMMC and additional 500GB hard drive has a retail price of around $450 but the MSRP is unknown.
If you have been holding off, now is a good time to pick up an updated version for a small price premium (or an older version at a discount!). However, if you already own a T100, the relatively minor update will is a hard to justify upgrade (you would likely be better off waiting on Cherry Trail-based devices with better battery life or other improvements as possible upgrades).
Subject: Motherboards | August 22, 2014 - 02:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z97-A, lga 1150, Intel, asus
At $145 the ASUS Z97-A is an inexpensive base for a system and yet it still offers quite a few higher end features. Three PCIe 3.0 16x slots that support Crossfire and SLI along with a pair of both PCIe 2.0 1x and legacy PCI slots allow for a variety of configurations. The half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports are simply expected now but the addition of an M.2 port is a welcome enhancement. When [H]ard|OCP overclocked their 4790K in this board they could almost hit 4.8GHz but ended up with 4.7GHz as the best overclock which makes it perfect for the price conscious consumer. Read their full review of this Gold winning motherboard here.
"While ASUS is usually known for motherboards like the Maximus and Rampage Extreme series’ or even feature rich solutions like the Z97-Deluxe it is motherboards like the Z97-A that are ASUS’ bread and butter. Shopping for an inexpensive motherboard doesn’t have to mean accepting poor quality feature stripped solutions."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Z97-Deluxe & Z97-A Review @ OCC
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE @ Kitguru
- ASUS Z97I-PLUS ITX Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- MSI Z97 XPOWER AC - Extreme Overclocking for the new Haswell @ Bjorn3d
- MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC – MSI’s top tier gaming offering @ Bjorn3d
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 3 @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z97 MPOWER @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z97 XPower AC @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Networking | August 14, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless router, wave 2, rt-ac87u, rt-ac87r, qsr1000, mu-mimo, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac
ASUS recently launched the RT-AC87U which is the first "wave 2" 802.11ac wireless router to support multi user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. Although the initial launch happened at the end of last month, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R (a variant exclusive to Best Buy) will finally be avaiable for purchase starting August 26th for around $279.99.
The RT-AC87U is a monster matte black router with four large external antennas and sleek fighter jet angles. I/O is mostly clustered on the rear of the router and includes four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one GbE WAN port, and one USB 2.0 port. In addition to the rear I/O, ASUS has positioned a USB 3.0 port on the front of the router (specifically the right corner of the front panel hidden behind a removeable rubber port cover).
On the wireless front, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R supports the latest 802.11ac and newer 256QAM (600Mbps) 802.11n specification as well as legacy 802.11g/b/a Wi-Fi networks. The router supports simultaneous dual band operation, which results in maximum throughput of 1.73 Gbps on the 5GHz 802.11ac band (4 x 433 Mbps streams) and 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz 802.11n band.
The new and interesting bit about the RT-AC87 is the MU-MIMO support. MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multple Input Multiple Output, is the evolution of MIMO technology which debuted with wireless N routers. The ASUS router is able to use multiple anntennas to communicate with a client device to increase bandwidth. Beamforming is used to focus the signal in the direction of the client to get better range and a stronger signal for that specific client. MU-MIMO builds on this technology by allowing the router to track, beamform, and employ multiple transmit and recieve antennas to talk to multiple clients simultaneously. Previously, routers were limited to communicating with a single client at a time (see the diagram below for an example).
Multi-User MIMO will benefit those users that choose to connect the majority of their networked devices via Wi-Fi. However, the technology will be especially noticeable in areas flooded with various Wi-Fi networks such as apartments. According to Matthew Gast of Aerohive Networks, MU-MIMO will allow all wireless clients to get an acceptable data rate in crowded wireless areas at the expense of being able to deliver the highest data rate to a single client device. Especially when competing Wi-Fi networks are involved and fighting for channels, MU-MIMO will shine at keeping devices connected and talking to the access point.
ASUS has chosen the Quantenna QSR100 chipset to handle the 802.11ac duties while a Broadcom BCM4709 chipset handles the 256QAM wireless N bands. Additionally, the RT-AC87 routers have 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. According to ASUS, the router draws slightly over 45W.
On the software side of things, ASUS has chosen its own ASUSWRT firmware which includes parental controls, Time Machine backup support, VPN support, security software from TrendMicro (AiProtection), and AiCloud 2.0. USB support includes storage sharing as well as 3G/4G cellular modem internet connectivity.
In all, the ASUS RT-AC87U looks to be new home router champion packing quite a bit of hardware and leading the charge of Wave 2 802.11ac wireless routers. This all comes at a cost, however. The RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R will be available on August 26 with a MSRP of $269.99 and e-tail prices currently around $279.99.
For all the nitty-gritty details, check out this ASUS PCDIY blog post!
Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2014 - 03:30 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, ssd, ROG Swift, ROG, podcast, ocz, nvidia, Kaveri, Intel, g-sync, FMS 2014, crossblade ranger, core m, Broadwell, asus, ARC 100, amd, A6-7400K, A10-7800, 14nm
PC Perspective Podcast #313 - 08/14/2014
Join us this week as we discuss new Kaveri APUs, ASUS ROG Swift G-Sync Monitor, Intel Core M Processors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Subject: Displays | August 12, 2014 - 03:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, g-sync, geforce, gsync, nvidia, pg278q, Republic of Gamers, ROG, swift, video
Ryan was not the only one to test the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q G-Sync monitor, Overclockers Club also received a model to test out. Their impressions of the 27" 2560 x 1440 TN panel were very similar, once they saw this monitor in action going back to their 30-inch 60Hz IPS monitor was not as enjoyable as once it was. The only bad thing they could say about the display was the MSRP, $800 is steep for any monitor and makes it rather difficult to even consider getting two or more of them for a multiple display system.
”When you get down to it, the facts are that even with a TN panel being used for the high refresh rate, the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q G-Sync monitor delivers great picture quality and truly impressive gaming. I could go on all day long about how smooth each of the games played while testing this monitor, but ultimately not be able to show you without having you sit at the desk with me. No stuttering, no tearing, no lag; it's like getting that new car and having all the sales hype end up being right on the money. When I flip back and forth between my 60Hz monitor and the PC278Q, its like a night and day experience.”
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- AOC G2460PG G-Sync 144Hz 1ms Gaming Monitor @ Kitguru
- Asus ROG Swift PG278Q 144hz G-Sync Monitor @ Kitguru
- 6400×1080: Testing Mixed-Resolution AMD Eyefinity @ eTeknix
- Demystifying NTSC Color And Progressive Scan @ Hack a Day
The Waiting Game
NVIDIA G-Sync was announced at a media event held in Montreal way back in October, and promised to revolutionize the way the display and graphics card worked together to present images on the screen. It was designed to remove hitching, stutter, and tearing -- almost completely. Since that fateful day in October of 2013, we have been waiting. Patiently waiting. We were waiting for NVIDIA and its partners to actually release a monitor that utilizes the technology and that can, you know, be purchased.
In December of 2013 we took a look at the ASUS VG248QE monitor, the display for which NVIDIA released a mod kit to allow users that already had this monitor to upgrade to G-Sync compatibility. It worked, and I even came away impressed. I noted in my conclusion that, “there isn't a single doubt that I want a G-Sync monitor on my desk” and, “my short time with the NVIDIA G-Sync prototype display has been truly impressive…”. That was nearly 7 months ago and I don’t think anyone at that time really believed it would be THIS LONG before the real monitors began to show in the hands of gamers around the world.
Since NVIDIA’s October announcement, AMD has been on a marketing path with a technology they call “FreeSync” that claims to be a cheaper, standards-based alternative to NVIDIA G-Sync. They first previewed the idea of FreeSync on a notebook device during CES in January and then showed off a prototype monitor in June during Computex. Even more recently, AMD has posted a public FAQ that gives more details on the FreeSync technology and how it differs from NVIDIA’s creation; it has raised something of a stir with its claims on performance and cost advantages.
That doesn’t change the product that we are reviewing today of course. The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q 27-in WQHD display with a 144 Hz refresh rate is truly an awesome monitor. What did change is the landscape, from NVIDIA's original announcement until now.
Subject: Motherboards | August 7, 2014 - 02:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SupremeFX 2014, LANGuard, KeyBot, GameFirst III, FM2+, crossblade ranger, ASUS ROG, asus, amd
ASUS Republic of Gamers have just released their first FM2+ board, the Crossblade Ranger which should be available for ~$160 in the next few days, a perfect base for the A10-7800 and A6-7400K which Josh just reviewed. There is a host of features on this board, from an updated SupremeFX 2014 audio system to eliminate interference and adjust impedance to the LANGuard and GameFirst III networking enhancements. KeyBot is also new, it allows you to program macros on any USB keyboard regardless of the capabilities of the keyboard itself. Check out the full release for a breakdown of the features.
Fremont, CA (6th August, 2014) - ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the Crossblade Ranger, the first AMD FM2+ motherboard to carry the revered ROG brand name, packed with game-boosting features for an AMD-based gaming powerhouse that is beyond compare. The Crossblade Ranger’s core benefits include the best gaming networking with Intel Gigabit Ethernet, the best gaming audio from SupremeFX 2014, the best gaming interface with KeyBot and the best gaming performance.
Best gaming networking
The Crossblade Ranger is fitted with state-of-the-art Intel Gigabit Ethernet that delivers better throughput and lower power consumption than competing solutions from other vendors.
The new motherboard’s networking capabilities additionally benefit from ROG-exclusive GameFirst III technology for optimal online gameplay. This advanced network-optimization software assigns top priority to game-data packets, allocating them more bandwidth to ensure the best online-gaming experience and clear, stutter-free online team-chat — all controlled with ROG’s usual intuitive flair.
These features are coupled with LANGuard Ethernet socket technology. LANGuard works by employing advanced filtering components with low impedance capacitors to reduce noise and improve throughput and also includes ESD and surge-protection to prevent damage from lightning strikes and static-electricity discharges.
Best gaming audio
Immersive audio is essential for gaming, so the Crossblade Ranger is engineered with SupremeFX 2014. At its core the SupremeFX 2014 solution uses PCB isolation techniques to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) and premium ELNA audio capacitors to provide precise 7.1 channel audio that’s on par with the best soundcards.
SupremeFX 2014 features dedicated hardware for features such as Sonic SenseAmp and Sonic SoundStage. Sonic SenseAmp automatically detects analog-audio front-panel (AAFP) headphone impedance and adjusts the amp gain to provide the best volume control range - taking the guesswork and hassle out of setting gain manually.
Sonic Soundstage is a hardware based solution that features preset audio profiles for a variety of gaming genres. First-person shooter (FPS), racing, combat and sports games presets are available via an onboard hardware switch or via the included (Windows) driver package. The benefit of including an onboard hardware switch is that the Sonic Soundstage presets can be applied without needing a driver – so works with any operating system. For Windows users, the presets are fully customizable via software, allowing one to tailor sound to personal preference.
SupremeFX 2014 also includes additional software features to provide a competitive gaming edge and improve immersion.
Designed for first-person shooters (FPS), Sonic Radar II displays a stealthy overlay that shows what opponents and teammates are up to. Players see the precise direction and origin of in-game sounds such as gunshots, footsteps and call-outs, enabling them to hone enemy-pinpointing skills.
Sonic Studio can be used to create virtual surround modes for stereo headsets, provides EQ controls to tune various parts of the audio spectrum and includes noise reduction algorithms for microphones – this all adds up to make SupremeFX 2014 the complete gaming audio solution.
Best gaming interface
The Crossblade Ranger includes KeyBot, a clever tool that lets users instantly ‘upgrade’ an existing keyboard simply by attaching it to the dedicated USB socket.
Once connected, the KeyBot microprocessor is activated and the user is able to use their current keyboard to control multimedia playback, launch favorite applications or assign macros to specific keys —perfect for automating complicated in-game key sequences without the need for an expensive gaming keyboard.
Best gaming performance and experience
Being an ROG motherboard, the Crossblade Ranger is infused with core ROG DNA.
ROG’s Auto-Tuning technology enables the Crossblade Ranger to unleash the true power of AMD APUs with just few mouse clicks. Thanks to the TPU microprocessor (Turbo Processing Unit), the Auto-Tuning routine applies a CPU overclock without need to enter UEFI - perfect for users that are new to the platform.
For users that prefer manual control, the TPU microprocessor and bundled Turbo-V application allows real-time voltage adjustments within the Windows operating system to simplify the process of overclocking a system. Naturally, the ROG UEFI is also chock-full of overclocking functions that help squeeze every ounce of performance from the AMD FM2+ platform.
To keep things cool and quiet, we’ve included five onboard fan headers – each with PWM (4-pin) or DC (3-pin) control. Extensive fan control options are available within UEFI or the automated Fan Xpert 3 calibration utility. Using either method, anyone can customize fan profiles in order to maximize cooling efficiency and eliminate unnecessary fan noise. The level of control on offer here sets a new standard for the FM2+ platform and completely negates the need for using a dedicated and expensive fan controller.
The Crossblade Ranger is also compatible with the ROG Front Base dual-bay gaming panel. The ROG Front Base enables one-click performance boosting, fan-controls, shielded front audio input/outputs, audio profile selection, volume control and real-time system monitoring to provide everything a gamer needs within a single unit.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS ROG Crossblade Ranger lands with an MSRP of $159.99 and will be available at all major online retailers in August.
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 01:37 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Thecus, n2560, asus, strix, strix 780, flash media summit, Samsung, tlc, vnand, Marvell, gtx 880, x99s sli plus
PC Perspective Podcast #312 - 08/07/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News 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
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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Scott Michaud, and Morry Tietelman
Week in Review:
EVGA Contest Winner
User: Lt Dan 521
News items of interest:
Flash Memory Summit 2014
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Ryan: Soccer moms
Jeremy: Playing StarCraft On An ARM, natively!
Experience with Silent Design
In the time periods between major GPU releases, companies like ASUS have the ability to really dig down and engineer truly unique products. With the expanded time between major GPU releases, from either NVIDIA or AMD, these products have continued evolving to offer better features and experiences than any graphics card before them. The ASUS Strix GTX 780 is exactly one of those solutions – taking a GTX 780 GPU that was originally released in May of last year and twisting it into a new design that offers better cooling, better power and lower noise levels.
ASUS intended, with the Strix GTX 780, to create a card that is perfect for high end PC gamers, without crossing into the realm of bank-breaking prices. They chose to go with the GeForce GTX 780 GPU from NVIDIA at a significant price drop from the GTX 780 Ti, with only a modest performance drop. They double the reference memory capacity from 3GB to 6GB of GDDR5, to assuage any buyer’s thoughts that 3GB wasn’t enough for multi-screen Surround gaming or 4K gaming. And they change the cooling solution to offer a near silent operation mode when used in “low impact” gaming titles.
The ASUS Strix GTX 780 Graphics Card
The ASUS Strix GTX 780 card is a pretty large beast, both in physical size and in performance. The cooler is a slightly modified version of the very popular DirectCU II thermal design used in many of the custom built ASUS graphics cards. It has a heat dissipation area more than twice that of the reference NVIDIA cooler and uses larger fans that allow them to spin slower (and quieter) at the improved cooling capacity.
Out of the box, the ASUS Strix GTX 780 will run at 889 MHz base clock and 941 MHz Boost clock, a fairly modest increase over the 863/900 MHz rates of the reference card. Obviously with much better cooling and a lot of work being done on the PCB of this custom design, users will have a lot of headroom to overclock on their own, but I continue to implore companies like ASUS and MSI to up the ante out of the box! One area where ASUS does impress is with the memory – the Strix card features a full 6GB of GDDR5 running 6.0 GHz, twice the capacity of the reference GTX 780 (and even GTX 780 Ti) cards. If you had any concerns about Surround or 4K gaming, know that memory capacity will not be a problem. (Though raw compute power may still be.)