Specifications and Overview
Talk to most PC enthusiasts today, be they gamers or developers, and ask them what technology they are most interested in for the next year or so and you will most likely hear about 4K somewhere in the discussion. While the world of consumer electronics and HDTV has been stuck in the rut of 1080p for quite some time now, computers, smartphones and tablets are racing in the direction of higher resolutions and higher pixel densities. 4K is a developing standard that pushes screen resolutions to 4K x 2K pixels and if you remove the competing options discussion (3840x2160 versus 4096x2160 are the most prominent) this move is all good news for the industry.
I first dove into the area of 4K displays when I purchased the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in 4K TV in April for $1300 when it popped up online. The TV showed up days later and we did an unboxing and preview of the experience and I was blown away by the quality difference by moving to a 3840x2160 screen, even with other caveats to be had. It was a 30 Hz panel, half a typical LCD computer display today, it had limited functionality and it honestly wasn't the best quality TV I had ever used. But it was 4K, it was inexpensive and it was available.
It was hard to beat at the time but the biggest drawback was the lack of 60 Hz support, the ability for the screen to truly push 60 frames per second to the panel. This caused some less than desirable results with Windows usage and even in gaming where visual tearing was more prominent when Vsync was disabled. But a strength of this design was that it only required a single HDMI connection and would work with basically any current graphics systems. I did some Frame Rating game performance testing at 4K and found that GPU horsepower was definitely a limiting factor.
Today I follow up our initial unboxing and preview of the ASUS PQ321Q 4K monitor with a more thorough review and summary of our usage results. There is quite a bit that differs between our experience with the SEIKI and the ASUS panels and it is more than just the screen sizes.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | July 18, 2013 - 08:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pq321q, PQ321, nvidia, drivers, asus, 4k
It would appear that NVIDIA was paying attention to our recent live stream where we unboxed and setup our new ASUS PQ321Q 4K 3840x2160 monitor. During our setup on the AMD and NVIDIA based test beds I noticed (and the viewers saw) some less than desirable results during initial configuration. The driver support was pretty clunky, we had issues with reliability of booting and switching between SST and MST (single and multi stream transport) modes caused the card some issue as well.
Today NVIDIA released a new R326 driver, 326.19 beta, that improves performance in a couple of games but more importantly, adds support for "tiled 4K displays." If you don't know what that means, you aren't alone. A tiled display is one that is powered by multiple heads and essentially acts as multiple screens in a single housing. The ASUS PQ321Q monitor that we have in house, and the Sharp PN-K321, are tiled displays that use DisplayPort 1.2 MST technology to run at 3840x2160 @ 60 Hz.
It is great to see NVIDIA reacting quickly to new technologies and to our issues from just under a week gone by. If you have either of these displays, be sure to give the new driver a shot and let me know your results!
Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2013 - 02:10 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: z87 oc force, video, pq321q, podcast, gigabyte, fx-9000, asus, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #260 - 07/18/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z87-OC Force, ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor, FX-9000 Processors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:17:39
Week in Review:
0:28:00 Galaxy GeForce GTX 770 GC Review
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Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2013 - 08:34 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Pentium II, Pentium !!!, pentium, P2B, Intel, hardware flashback, asus, 440 BX
Retro hardware is so much fun. Today we have the Asus P2B, and while it was not a game changer for the time, it was a popular board. This popularity sprang from its excellent compatibility with older Pentium II processors and a wide variety of AGP cards. It was one of the last series of boards that Asus released that did not feature the jumperless BIOS options that we take for granted these days.
3 ISA ports staring us in the face! ATA-33? Oh yeah!
There are some things that really spring out when looking at the board. Having 3 ISA slots seems pretty much overkill as most people used perhaps two of them (modem and sound card), but I can see this being popular with people who also utilize older SCSI cards (such as those used with scanners of the time). Having 3 ISA meant that there were only 4 PCI slots. Remember, ISA and PCI slots situated next to each other would share the same backplate slot, so PCI and ISA could not be used adjacent to each other. Remember as well that we often saw issues with the first PCI slot as it shared resources with the AGP slot. This essentially gives only two usable PCI slots if a user was full up on ISA cards.
The board features 3 DIMM slots at a time when it was popular to use a buffer chip to allow up to four DIMM slots. These buffer chips were often a big performance hit in memory operations and they quickly fell out of favor with most enthusiasts and power users. Having 3 DIMM slots did lower the maximum potential installed memory, but not by all that much. The performance benefits of slightly less memory but better performance often outweighed having that fourth DIMM.
These old boards look so bare even compared to current low-end motherboards. Excellent for someone who needs two serial ports, though!
The BX boards supported the 100 MHz bus speed for the latest Pentium IIs and upcoming Pentium !!!s. This particular board was quite popular with people that had older Pentium IIs with the 66 MHz FSB. Running these at 3 x 100 or 3.5 x 100 would give a nice overall boost for these aging processors. Users who were early implementers of Pentium II CPUs were stuck with the old 440FX chipset which did not feature SDRAM or AGP support. This would have been a nice upgrade in performance and functionality for those users as they could pop in their Pentium II 266 or 300 and tweak their way to performance nirvana.
This board was released before we saw the change to the colored peripheral connections, so every plug on the back of the board is black. Color coding was for wimps anyway. It also does not include integrated sound. So there goes one of those ISA slots. Users of the time would have probably installed a soundcard, modem, PCI Ethernet card, and their AGP card. So where would the Voodoo 2 go? How about two of them? Things would get awful crowded very quickly.
That dust may or may not have been deposited around 1999...
The AGP support on these boards was of course excellent. That is primarily because Intel was the main driver of the specification and everyone else developed their cards to run in these slots. VIA, SiS, and others of course had compatibility issues with a wide variety of cards. This is why we saw other folks like 3dfx make their products run at below AGP specs. For instance, the Voodoo 3 was essentially a PCI 66 MHz device in the AGP slot. This disabled features like sideband addressing and reading textures from main memory.
This was still a popular board even in the face of competition with superior features. The Asus brand and name goes far. Plus it was a fast board for the time that was a bit no-frills. Recipe for success? I guess so. This particular board and CPU were running in a homebuilt server for around 10 years until it was replaced. I guess it was money well spent.
Some more 4K love!
This morning Fedex dropped off a new product at our offices, one that I was very eagerly awaiting: the ASUS PQ321Q 31.5-in 4K 60 Hz monitor!
While we are far from ready to post a full review of the display and have lots of more game testing to get to, we did host a live stream for the unboxing and initial testing of the PQ321Q that I think is worth sharing.
In this video we do a walk around the $3500 4K display, hook it up to both NVIDIA and AMD test bed at 60 Hz and then proceed to install 3-Way SLI Titans to see how it games! Enjoy this quick preview before our full review of the ASUS PQ321Q.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 10, 2013 - 01:48 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Overclocked, nvidia, just delivered, gtx 780, gtx 770, gtx 760, GTX 670 Mini, DirectCU II, DCII, asus
Returning home on Monday, I was greeted by several (slightly wet) boxes from Asus. Happily, the rainstorm that made these boxes a bit damp did not last long, and the wetness was only superficial. The contents were perfectly fine. I was pleased by this, but not particularly pleased with FedEx for leaving them in a spot where they got wet. All complaints aside, I was obviously ecstatic to get the boxes.
Quite the lineup. The new packaging is sharp looking and clearly defines the contents.
Inside these boxes are some of the latest and greatest video cards from Asus. Having just finished up a budget roundup, I had the bandwidth available to tackle a much more complex task. Asus sent four cards for our testing procedures, and I intend to go over them with a fine toothed comb.
The smallest of the bunch is the new GTX 670 DC Mini. Asus did some serious custom work to not only get the card as small as it is, but also to redesign the power delivery system so that the chip only requires a single 8 pin PCI-E power connection. Most GTX 670 boards require 2 x 6 pin connectors which would come out to be around 225 watts delivered, but a single 8 pin would give around 175 watts total. This is skirting the edge of the official draw for the GTX 670, but with the GK104 chip being as mature as it is, there is some extra leeway involved. The cooler is quite compact and apparently pretty quiet. This is aimed at the small form factor crowd who do not want/need a overly large card, but still require a lot of performance. While the GTX 700 series is now hitting the streets, there is still a market for this particular card. Oh, and it is also overclocked for good measure!
We see a nice progression from big to little. It is amazing how small the GTX 670 DC Mini is compared to the rest, and it will be quite interesting to see how it compares to the GTX 760 in testing.
The second card is the newly released GTX 760 DCII OC. This is again based on the tried and true GK104 chip, but has several units disabled. It has 1152 CUDA cores, but retains the same number of ROPS as the fully enabled chips. It also features the full 256 bit memory bus running at 6 Gbps. It has plenty of bandwidth to provide the card in most circumstances considering the amount of functional units enabled. The cooler is one of the new DirectCU II designs and is a nice upgrade in both functionality and looks from the previous DCII models. It is a smaller card than one would expect, but that comes from the need to simplify the card and not overbuild it like the higher priced 770 and 780 cards. As I have mentioned before, I really like the budget and midrange cards. This should be a really fascinating card to test.
The next card is a bit of an odd bird. The GTX 770 DCII OC is essentially a slightly higher clocked GTX 680 from yesteryear. One of the big changes is that this particular model foregoes the triple slot cooler of the previous generation and implements a dual slot cooler that is quite heavy and with a good fin density. It features six pin and eight pin power connections so it has some legs for overclocking. The back plate is there for stability and protection, and it gives the board a very nice, solid feel. Asus added two LEDs by the power connections which show if the card is receiving power or not. This is nice, as the fans on this card are very silent in most situations. Nobody wants to unplug a video card that is powered up. It retains the previous generation DCII styling, but the cooler performance is certainly nothing to sneeze at. It also is less expensive than the previous GTX 680, but is faster.
All of the cards sport dual DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI outputs. Both DVI ports are dual-link, but only one is DVI-I which can also output a VGA signal with the proper adapter.
Finally we have the big daddy of the GTX 700 series. The 780 DCII OC is pretty much a monster card that exceeds every other offering out there, except the $1K GTX Titan. It is a slightly cut down chip as compared to the mighty Titan, but it still packs in 2304 CUDA cores. It retains the 384 bit memory bus and runs at a brisk 6 Gbps for a whopping 288.4 GB/sec of bandwidth. The core is overclocked to a base of 889 MHz and boosts up to 941 MHz. The cooler on this is massive. It features a brand new fan design for the front unit which apparently can really move the air and do so quietly. Oddly enough, this fan made its debut appearance on the aforementioned GTX 670 DC Mini. The PCB on the GTX 780 DCII OC is non-reference. It features a new power delivery system that should keep this board humming when overclocked. Asus has done their usual magic in pairing the design with high quality components which should ensure a long lifespan for this pretty expensive board.
I do like the protective plates on the backs of the bigger cards, but the rear portion of the two smaller cards are interesting as well. We will delve more into the "Direct Power" functionality in the full review.
I am already well into testing these units and hope to have the full roundup late next week. These are really neat cards and any consumer looking to buy a new one should certainly check out the review once it is complete.
Asus has gone past the "Superpipe" stage with the GTX 780. That is a 10 mm heatpipe we are seeing. All of the DCII series coolers are robust, and even the DC Mini can dissipate a lot of heat.
The GPU Midrange Gets a Kick
I like budget video cards. They hold a soft spot in my heart. I think the primary reason for this is that I too was once a poor college student and could not afford the really expensive cards. Ok, so this was maybe a few more years ago than I like to admit. Back when the Matrox Millennium was very expensive, I ended up getting the STB Lightspeed 128 instead. Instead of the 12 MB Voodoo 2 I went for the 8 MB version. I was never terribly fond of paying top dollar for a little extra performance. I am still not fond of it either.
The sub-$200 range is a bit of a sweet spot that is very tightly packed with products. These products typically perform in the range of a high end card from 3 years ago, yet still encompass the latest features of the top end products from their respective companies. These products can be overclocked by end users to attain performance approaching cards in the $200 to $250 range. Mind, there are some specific limitations to the amount of performance one can actually achieve with these cards. Still, what a user actually gets is very fair when considering the price.
Today I cover several flavors of cards from three different manufacturers that are based on the AMD HD 7790 and the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti BOOST chips. These range in price from $129 to $179. The features on these cards are amazingly varied, and there are no “sticker edition” parts to be seen here. Each card is unique in its design and the cooling strategies are also quite distinct. Users should not expect to drive monitors above 1920x1200, much less triple monitors in Surround and Eyefinity.
Now let us quickly go over the respective chips that these cards are based on.
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 06:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: igzo, asus pq321, asus, 4k
ASUS announced a new 4K montior last month called the PQ321. The montior will be available July 16th, and is currently up for pre-order at various online retailers. In a bit of good news, it seems that ASUS has managed to cut the MSRP by $300 to $3,499.99 since the original announcement. As a result, it is still fairly pricey, but this monitor and 4K in general is getting cheaper, and that's a good thing!
As a refresher, the ASUS PQ321 is a 31.5" monitor with a tilt, swivel, and height-adjustable stand. The 4K monitor features an LED-backlit IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) panel with a resolution of 3,840 x 2160. The screen has 10-bit RGB color, 176-degree viewing angles, 350 cd/m^2 brightness, and 8ms gray to gray (GTG) response times. ASUS has included 2W stereo speakers as well. The monitor is 35mm thick and weighs 13kg (just under 29 pounds). A 3.5mm audio jack, single DisplayPort input, and two HDMI inputs round out the connectivity options.
Using DisplayPort and its multi stream technology, users can get 60Hz at the panel's native resolution. This requires a dedicated card from AMD or NVIDIA or Intel integrated processor graphics from its 4th Generation Core "Haswell" generation or newer.
The ASUS PQ321 will be available on July 16th for $3,499.99.
ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Dominates Computex Overclocking Event, Used to Break Eight World Records
Subject: Motherboards | June 26, 2013 - 02:49 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: overclocking, computex 2013, ASUS ROG, ASUS Maximus VI Extreme, asus
During Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, Intel and Corsair sponsored the Computex OC Main Event where overclockers set out to push some of the latest hardware to the max. The ASUS Maximus VI Extreme motherboard was one of the pieces of hardware used at this event, and it was the board used in 10 out of 11 winning overclocking runs. Further, it was used in runs that ended up breaking a total of 8 world overclocking records.
Overclockers were able to achieve top spots for a number of benchmarking scores as well as CPU and GPU clockspeeds. The benchmarking records include new high scores for 3DMark01, 3DMark05, 3DMark06, SuperPi 32M, PiFast, and AquaMark3. The overclockers were also able to push an Intel "Haswell" Core-i7 4770K processor to an impressive 7092.68 MHz with HyperThreading disabled and two physical cores active. Considering how stubborn the new Haswell chips are when it comes to overclocking, hitting a bit over 7GHz is quite the feat. CPUs were not the only pieces of hardware that were pushed to the limits, however. Overclockers were also able to overclock four DDR3 DIMMs to 3957 MHz with 13-16-16-45 timings.
Left: CPU Overclock. Right: RAM Overclock. Click on image(s) for a larger version.
The breakdown of the new top benchmarking scores for the various software used at the OC Main Event (from systems using the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme board, Haswell CPU, and GTX TITAN) is listed below.
|SuperPi 32M||4m, 35s, 406ms|
|Haswell Clockspeed||7092.68 MHz (two cores)|
|DDR3 Clockspeed||3957 MHz (13-16-16-45)|
Naturally, ASUS is extremely pleased with the performance of its new motherboard, which proved stable enough to support some impressive CPU, GPU, and RAM overclocking under LN2 and extreme clockspeeds. I'm looking forward to see what Morry is able to achieve using the board in a more real world 24/7 overclock scenario in our upcoming OC review using this ASUS board!
Check out our full review of the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme (overclocking performance details coming soon, as per the new review format).
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The Z87-Pro was among the first offerings from ASUS designed around the Intel Z87 chipset and offering support for the forth generation Intel Core CPU line, code named Haswell. The board sports the yellow/gold and black coloration common to ASUS' mainstream board line with more than enough features to satisfy most gamers and enthusiasts. At a retail MSRP of $209.00, the Z87-Pro becomes a hard proposition to turn down with its mix of features and performance.
Courtesy of ASUS
Under the hood, the Z87-Pro offer a massive 12+2 phase digital power system to keep the CPU juiced up and ready to go no matter what you decide to throw at is. ASUS integrated the following features into the Z87-Pro's design: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an Intel I217-V GigE NIC; Atheros 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 adapter; three PCI-Express x16 slots for dual or tri-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; onboard power, CMOS MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, and DirectKey buttons; 3-way TPU and EPU switches; 2-digit LED diagnostic display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS