ASUS Z97-A offers amazing bang for your buck

Subject: Motherboards | August 22, 2014 - 02:26 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS RT-AC87U Is First Wave 2 802.11ac Router Supporting MU-MIMO Technology

Subject: Networking | August 14, 2014 - 11:47 PM |
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).

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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).

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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!

Source: Quantenna

Podcast #313 - New Kaveri APUs, ASUS ROG Swift G-Sync Monitor, Intel Core M Processors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2014 - 03:30 PM |
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!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

Program length: 1:41:24
 

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

G-SYNC is sweet but far from free

Subject: Displays | August 12, 2014 - 03:36 PM |
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.

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”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.”

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Displays

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

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.

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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.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q 2560x1440 G-Sync Monitor!!

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces the Crossblade Ranger

Subject: Motherboards | August 7, 2014 - 02:14 PM |
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.

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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.

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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.

Overclocking Features
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.

Fan Controls
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.

ROG Accessories
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.

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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.

Source: ASUS

Podcast #312 - Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News and more

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 01:37 PM |
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!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Scott Michaud, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:00:33
 

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

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.

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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.)

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Strix GTX 780 6GB Graphics Card!!

Take a Memo, this $150 tablet is rather good

Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2014 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, memo pad ME176C, android 4.2.2, Bay Trail

Powered by a Bay Trail Atom Z3745, 1GB LP DDR3-1066, 16GB eMMC, with support for up to a 64GB SD card and a 7" 1280x800 IPS display the ASUS Memo Pad ME176C is rather impressive for under $150.  Shipping with Android 4.2.2 or 4.4 the Memo Pad is not quite as powerful as NVIDIA's new tablet but is nowhere near as expensive either.  The Tech Report rather liked this device, as did Ryan; for those on a tight budget the new Memo does just about everything you need for basic usage at an acceptable level of performance.

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"Despite its $149 asking price, Asus' Memo Pad ME176C tablet has a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 7" IPS display, and little extras like a Micro SD slot and GPS functionality. We take a quick look at this budget slate to see how well Android runs on x86 hardware--and whether a $149 tablet can deliver a good experience."

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Mobile

This high end multi-GPU 4k showdown includes overclocking

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 29, 2014 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, gtx 780, R9 290X DC2 OC, sli, crossfire, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, R9 290X

We have seen [H]ard|OCP test ASUS' STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB and R9 290X DirectCU II before but this time they have been overclocked and paired up for a 4k showdown.  For a chance NewEgg gives the price advantage to AMD, $589 versus $599 at the time of writing (with odd blips in prices on Amazon).   The GTX 780 has been set to 1.2GHz and 6.6GHz while the 290X is 1.1GHz and 5.6GHz, keep in mind dual GPU setups may not reach the same frequencies as single cards.  Read on for their conclusions and decide if you prefer to brag about a higher overclock or have better overall performance.

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"We take the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and run two in SLI and overclock both of these at 4K resolutions to find the ultimate gameplay performance with 6GB of VRAM. We will also compare these to two overclocked ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II CrossFire video cards for the ultimate VRAM performance showdown."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP