Introduction, Design, User Interface
Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.
Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.
Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.
So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 05:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar Essence One
The Asus Xonar Essence One is an external soundcard and DAC designed specifically for use with high end earphones. This is designed for use by people with very discerning ears, if you are not much of an audiophile or only use $50 headphones you will be missing out on the benefits Xonar Essence One offers. If you are quite willing to discuss the merits of unbalanced and balanced outputs however this device is worth investigating. The quality parts contributed to the premuim price of $600 but they also raised the audio quality enough for the ears of the Kitguru reviewer who highly recommends this for professional musicians and audiophiles.
"Today we are looking at the latest ‘audiophile’ grade Asus Xonar Essence One external soundcard and digital to analogue converter. The Essence series of products have targeted the enthusiast and audiophile user now for some time, using high grade components such as BurrBrown DAC chips. Today we analyse the latest Xonar Essence One from ASUS in a very challenging environment, paired up with a flagship, limited edition Valve/Tube CD player and award winning Audeze LCD2 headphones."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Westone 4R In-ears @ techPowerUp
- NuForce uDAC-2 Digital-to-Analog Converter Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thermaltake Tt eSports Shock Spin Gaming Headset @ Pro-Clockers
- Arctic Living Audio Relay Wireless Media Extender Review @ eTeknix
- SteelSeries Sibera v2 – Natus Vincere edition @ XSReviews
- Microlab M700 2.1 speakers @ XSReviews
Subject: Motherboards | February 1, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Sabertooth, Patsburg, x79, lga 2011
ASUS Sabretooth TUF series has been growing, from the P67 version on the Intel side to the 990FX version for AMD users and now has an X79 model. These boards all feature TUF Thermal Armor which not only gives a unique look but is also intended to provide enhanced cooling. This is a high end family, which features ASUS' customized back panel and a five year warranty to help justify the price. It sports three PCIe 3.0 slots, two at 16x and one at 8x as well as a pair of PCIe 2.0 1x slots and a legacy PCI slot. For storage you four SATA 6Gbps ports and two 6Gbps eSATA ports split between three controllers as well as four 3Gbps ports. You also enjoy a half dozen USB 3.0 ports and even Firewire. Take a look at one of ASUS best offerings for LGA2011 processors at Hardware Canucks.
"In mid November we saw the launch of the enthusiast-based Sandy Bridge Extreme platform along with the X79 (code name Patsburg) chipsets and since then we have brought you reviews of the i7-3960X CPU and the Rampage IV Extreme motherboard. Today we continue our walk down the LGA2011 road and bring you another highly anticipated board from ASUS: the Sabertooth X79."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ECS X79R-AX Black Series Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Sapphire PURE Black X79N @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte GA-X79-UD7: Mainboard for LGA 2011 CPUs Overclocking @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte X79 UD3 Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- ASUS P9X79 WS Workstation Motherboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- ASRock X79 Extreme9 Review - Price For Performance? @ AnandTech
- ASUS P8H67-M Evo Intel H67 Express Motherboard Review @ PCSTATS
- ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT Mini-ITX @ Kitguru
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PSB Parking @ TechARP
- ASUS F1A75-M Pro Review - Micro-ATX Llano at $110 @ AnandTech
3 NV for DCII
The world of video cards is a much changed place over the past few years. Where once we saw only “sticker versions” of cards mass produced by a handful of manufacturers, we are now seeing some really nice differentiation from the major manufacturers. While the first iterations of these new cards are typically mass produced by NVIDIA or AMD and then distributed to their partners for initial sales, these manufacturers are now more consistently getting their own unique versions out to retail in record time. MSI was one of the first to put out their own unique designs, but now we are seeing Asus becoming much more aggressive with products of their own.
The DirectCU II line is Asus’ response to the growing number of original designs from other manufacturers. The easiest way to categorize these designs is that they straddle nicely the very high end and extreme products like the MSI Lightning series and those of the reference design boards with standard cooling. These are unique designs that integrate features and cooling solutions that are well above that of reference cards.
DirectCU II applies primarily to the cooling solutions on these boards. The copper heatipipes in the DirectCU II cooler are in direct contact with the GPU. These heatpipes then are distributed through two separate aluminum fin arrays, each with their own fan. So each card has either a dual slot or triple slot cooling solution with two 80 mm fans that dynamically adjust to the temperature of the chip. The second part of this is branded “Super Alloy Power” in which Asus has upgraded most of the electrical components on the board to match higher specifications. Hi-C caps, proadlizers, polymer caps, and higher quality chokes round out the upgraded components which should translate into more stable overclocked performance and a longer lifespan.
Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2012 - 03:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, padfone, asus, Android
Remember the Asus Padfone? I won't blame you if you do not as it is practically ancient by tech history standards. Making its first appearance at Computex 2011 last May, the device made a splash that quickly died off as it never came to market. To be honest, I just assumed it had completely died off. Apparently; however, Asus did not forget about it and is planning to show it off at this years Mobile World Congress according to an article over at Android Central. Here's hoping they've adjusted for the success of tablets that have surfaced in the interim and that it is at a minimum running the Honeycomb or Gingerbread (Ice Cream Sandwich would be even better) OS and a fast processor.
The Padfone, if the specifications from last year hold true is a 4.3" smartphone that can fit snugly inside of a 10" tablet form factor display that has it's own battery. The tablet portion can charge the smartphone and/or drive the larger display and the smartphone acts as the hardware of the device with it's SoC (system on a chip) and by allowing access to the 3G and WiFi data connections of the phone's radio.
There are still many question about the viability of such a device; however, with the rise in popularity of Android phones if Asus could make it such that any Android phone (within size constraints of course) could nestle itself inside the larger touchscreen display, they might have a popular product on their hands...
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 26, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, GCN, asus, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, dx 11.1, amd, 7970, 28nm
[H]ard|OCP recently came out with two HD7970 reviews, one made by ASUS and one by XFX. The ASUS Radeon HD 7970 is currently one of the least expensive choices at $559 and runs at the default speeds of 925MHz and 1375MHz. It does ship with ASUS' GPU Tweak utility to allow for easy overclocking if you wish to push the card like [H] did, in their case to 1125MHz on the GPU core, and 1695MHz GDDR5.
The other choice is the XFX R7970 Black Edition which is a custom card, overclocked to 1GHz on the core and 1425MHz GDDR5 but costs $50 more than the offering from ASUS. At the out of the box speeds, XFX's card both draws less energy and runs much cooler and was silent compared to the ASUS offering. Even after [H] overclocked the card to 1125MHz core and 1575MHz GDDR5, which was the maximum possible using AMD's Overdrive, it was almost silent when running full out.
The decision seems to be how much it is worth to you to have a quiet card and if you are willing to find a way to overclock beyond what the Catalyst Control Center can manage.
"We have the new XFX R7970 Black Edition video card to evaluate, which is XFX's current flagship Radeon HD 7970 based video card. With a custom PCB, custom hardware components and custom cooling fan, will it take us to new heights in overclocking, or leave us wishing we had just purchased a "reference" card?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6670 @ TechwareLab
- Sapphire HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in CrossFire Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- Asus HD7970 Tri Crossfire @ Kitguru
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II Top Video Card @ Legit Reviews
- HIS Radeon HD 6570 IceQ @ Funky Kit
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in 3-Way CrossFireX @ Tweaktown
- HIS 6670 1GB Fan @ XSReviews
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 3GB CrossFire Review @ Legit Reviews
- An Open-Source, Reverse-Engineered Mali GPU Driver @ Phoronix
- Arctic Accelero XTREME Plus II VGA cooler Review @ XtremeComputing
- Graphics Card Overclocking: Is it really worth it? @ TechSpot
- KFA2 MDT X4 – GTX580 @ Kitguru
- Galaxy GeForce GT 440 2GB Review @ Neoseeker
- Galaxy GT 520 MDT Review @ OCC
- Nouveau For A $10 NVIDIA Graphics Card @ Phoronix
Subject: Motherboards | January 23, 2012 - 05:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x79, asus, asrock, Intel, msi, ECS, lga2011, p9x79 deluxe, X79 Extreme9, X79R-AX, DX79SI, X79A-GD65(8D)
There are five usual suspects when discussing the X79 chipset, Asus's P9X79 Deluxe, the Asrock X79 Extreme9, ECS's X79R-AX, Intel's DX79SI and last but not least, MSI's X79A-GD65(8D). While very similar overall, each board has distinct features that the companies have introduced as standard over the years, from ASUS' Q-LED to MSI's OC Genie. TechSpot had their work cut out for them, the boards range in price by $100 and the board that they picked as the winner might just surprise you.
"Those wanting to build the ultimate performance system will naturally turn to Intel’s new LGA2011 platform which recently made its debut with the Sandy Bridge-E processors. This highly refined architecture takes the original Sandy Bridge design and pumps it full of steroids, while adding a few new things. Moreover, the platform is expected to support enthusiast-level Ivy Bridge processors that are slated for release by the end of 2012, adding to the platform's longevity.
So if you're already spending $600+ on a processor alone, you'll want to make sure your motherboard is equally impressive. Today we are checking out five high-end X79 motherboards from Asus, Asrock, ECS, Intel and MSI."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Review @ OCC
- ECS X79R-AX (Black Extreme) @ AnandTech
- ECS H67H2-M Black Edition Intel H67 Express @ PC Stats
- Biostar TH67XE Intel H67 Express @ PC Stats
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PCI Dynamic Bursting @ Tech ARP
The Prime seems to have no trouble achieving notable firsts. It was the first tablet with a Tegra 3 processor to go to retail, and now it’s the first tablet to have official Ice Cream Sandwich support. The update, scheduled originally for January 12th, actually went live after a surprise announcement on January 9th during Nvidia’s CES conference.
Since we still have our Prime review unit, this update provides us with a unique opportunity to compare Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich side-by-side on the same device. This update is important for the Prime - and all upcoming Android tablets - because the operating system is something that’s currently holding back a number of products with great hardware.
Honeycomb was never an OS that impressed me. It’s often jerky, lacks elegance, and has poor app support. So long as Honeycomb was the version of Android shipping on tablets there was simply no chance for an Android tablet to defeat the iPad 2. The software simply wasn’t up to the high standard set by iOS.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a chance at redemption. The rumors have spread like wildfire. Various sources have reported improvements including better multi-core support, a faster web browser, improved notifications and much more. Official announcements have generally limited themselves to commenting on feature improvements, however - going into the ICS update I didn’t have any expectations for performance improvements because none were ever provided by Google. Nvidia also never set any expectations about the improvements, if any, we’d see from Tegra 3 processors running ICS.
Now that the Prime is updated we can test ICS out for ourselves. Let’s jump in, starting with the interface updates.
Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 11:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: trinity, corsair, CES, asus, amd
The Tech Report have been updating their coverage of CES 2012 as they try to sooth their aching feet, with pictures and information from three different vendors. The most impressive, or at least most looked forward to, was seeing AMD's Trinity running in the wild. We now know there will be two variants of the chip, one running with a 35W TDP and the smaller version at 17W. Not only will they require less power than the current A-series, expect improvements in performance for both graphics and general computation.
At Corsair's table is a case that looks to steal into NZXT's market with the $90 Carbide Series 300R which offers some nice features for a lower cost case, Corsair is also beefing up their line up with the more expensive Obsidian Series 550D with many noise dampening features. Finally they headed to ASUS and were given a peek at the newest audio technology that will replace the current Xonar models.
Remember to click on www.pcper.com/ces to see all of our hard work.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CES 2012 Recap: The Week in Review @ AnandTech
- CES 2012- Zotac, iBuyPower, ADATA, NZXT Party @ TechwareLabs
- CES 2012 Slideshow @ MAKE:Blog
- AMD shows its Lightning Bolt interface behind closed doors @ The Inquirer
- CES 2012 Day 2 - CyberpowerPC Gigabyte and Lian Li @ Ninjalane
- CES 2012 Coverage @ OCC
- Windows Admins Need To Prepare For GUI-Less Server @ Slashdot
- Arch-ing ARM: Running Arch Linux On The NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ Phoronix
- IBM Shrinks Bit Size To 12 Atoms @ Slashdot
- MSI focuses notebook business on gaming models @ DigiTimes
- Win Steelseries Fnatic Limited Edition and Konnet goodies!
Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 05:34 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless router, motherboard, audio, asus
At CES 2012 this week, popular motherboard manufacturer Asus showed off quite a few products. Among the new products, the company is releasing a wireless gigabit router, wireless repeater and Ethernet bridge, a new motherboard, and the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Xonar Phoebus audio sound card set.
The two new wireless products are the Asus RT-N66U, which is a dual band Wireless N Gigabit router, and the Asus EA-N66 Wi-Fi Ethernet bridge. The RT-N66U is a dual band Wireless N router that promises up to 900 Mbps over Wi-Fi thanks to two simultaneous Wireless N streams of 450 Mbps maximum each. One stream is done at 2.4 GHz and on the other stream data is broadcast and received on the 5 GHz spectrum. Asus has bundled the router with 26 dbm Wi-Fi amplifiers to extend the network's range. Other hardware includes three Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device, a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, WAN port, two USB ports, power button, power input, and reset button. The front and top of the router shows off a stylish black pattern, blue status LEDs, and the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Night" name/logo while the back/bottom of the router contain plenty of ventilation ports and a stand to hold the router vertical. On the software side of things, the router features QoS, or Quality of Service, traffic management that the company claims can address up to 300,000 data sessions, eight SSIDs (for setting up guest networks, for example), and the company's ASUSWRT firmware. Downloading files without needing a PC and remote management of USB devices are also features.
The EA-N66 is a wireless Ethernet bridge and Wi-Fi access point. Under the hood of the rather (shall we say) stylized design, it is capable of using either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless spectrum in 450 Mbps bands. Asus claims that when the repeater is paired with their new router, "the EA-N66 gives gamers incredible network speeds and coverage for multi-player gaming sessions."
As Asus demonstrated for us at CES, their new Rampage IV Formula motherboard features a SupremeFX III sound card chip connected to the rear audio ports by traces on their own PCB layer. This "moat" of traces (that light up red, even!) being on a separate PCB layer helps to eliminate interference caused by the other electrical components on the board. Now, you get isolated sound without needing to take up a PCI-E slot. In the video below, Asus shows off the feature.
The Rampage IV motherboard also comes with a bundled headphone amplifier dubbed the ThunderFX. It provides up to 120 dB of amplification and can support up to 600 Ohm high end headphones. The amplifier is EMI shielded and with ENC support, the ThunderFX has dedicated channels for headphone audio and in-game voice chat. Further, the box is compatible with both PCs and game consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), and enables regular PC gaming headsets to be used with the consoles. Last up, it has three audio presets for FPS, RTS, and Racing games.
Asus is also showing off the Xonar Phoebus sound card and breakout box for gaming under the company's Republic of Gamers brand. The set includes a PCI-E sound card capable of driving 600 Ohm headphones and a SNR (signal to noise ratio) of 118 dB. The card itself is shielding using, according to Asus, "carefully selected materials and perfectly shielded" to block EMI (electromagnetic interference) and and isolate itself from other issues caused by the other components in the case. The other piece of hardware is the Xonar Phoebus control box that integrates array microphones to reduce environmental noise when using voice chat and VOIP calls by "up to 50 percent." It further allows volume control and has Dolby Home Theater V4 surround sound and the GX3.0 gaming engine to enhance headphone audio when gaming.
More information can be found here. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!