Podcast #404 - Crucial MX300, E3 hardware news, GTX 1080 Shortages and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2016 - 11:43 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, xbox one, void, video, Strider, Silverstone, rx 480, rx 470, rx 460, podcast, PHAB2, Optane, MX300, Lenovo, GTX 1080, Egil, crucial, corsair, asus, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #404 - 06/16/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the new Crucial MX300 SSD, news on upcoming Xbox hardware changes, GTX 1080 shortages 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

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

Program length: 1:48:30
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:39:00 Xbox E3 Hardware Discussion
    2. 0:49:50 GeForce GTX 1080 Shortages?
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Trackr
    2. Allyn: Safely Remove USB devices (or figure out what’s stopping them)
  4. Closing/outro

ASUS Plans a 27-Inch, 144Hz, 4K, IPS Gaming Monitor

Subject: Displays | June 9, 2016 - 02:55 AM |
Tagged: asus, 4k 144hz, ips

Well this will be an impressive set of features some day. People have been asking for high-refresh, 4K panels with good colors for quite a while. It was almost a running joke in some of our comments. Apparently, ASUS took it seriously, and they are looking to release a 144Hz, 4K, IPS Gaming monitor, and they had a prototype on the show floor at Computex 2016.

ASUS-2016-4k-144hz-monitor-vrzone.jpg

Image Credit: VR-Zone

Okay then. That checks off just about every box on the enthusiast wishlist, except maybe OLED (depending on whether the specific enthusiast loves its contrast or fears it color accuracy). Also, it is unclear whether they will support the FreeSync or G-Sync, but either could happen -- or both! Or neither.

We won't know until they make an official announcement... again, some day.

Source: VR-Zone

GeForce GTX 1080s Are Available at Newegg Canada

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: zotac, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, asus

Update @ 10:30pm, June 7th: Annnnnnnnd it's gone.

Update @ 9:45pm, June 7th: ASUS is now out-of-stock, so I crossed out the relevant links. ZOTAC is still around for now.

Update @ 8:45pm, June 7th: Turns out that it's also available on Newegg US. In fact, it's possible that both sites share from the same stock pool, at least for the US ASUS and US ZOTAC cards, given that Newegg Canada says it ships them from the US.

A couple of GeForce GTX 1080s are available at Newegg Canada at the moment. Both models, one from ASUS and one from ZOTAC, are listed at $909. This seems high, but it's actually the current US-to-Canada exchange rate from the $699 MSRP. If you were interested in the Founders Edition cards, then you have a brief moment to pick one up.

nvidia-2016-dreamhack-1080-stockphoto.png

That said, it's looking like the custom-cooled versions might be a better bet. The EVGA dual-fan GAMING SC ACX 3.0 version is listed at $824.99 CDN (~$635 USD) and, from what we've seen so far, seems to be quite a bit cooler than the Founders Edition (albeit we haven't tested sound levels yet). Those should be coming out fairly soon, and will apparently lean on the cheaper side of the Founders Edition fence.

But, if you don't care, go go go go go.

What did we just tell you about bloatware?! Now ASUS Live Update is the risk of the day

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: asus, bloatware, security

After last week when several laptop OEMs, including Lenovo once again, were caught installing highly insecure bloatware on their laptop you might hope that this week would be different.  Sadly you would be mistaken as once again software preinstalled on laptops is in the news.  In this case it is ASUS Live Update which transmits requests for updates in plain text and does not check any software updates which come back for authenticity.  This of course leaves you wide open for man in the middle attacks, where someone posing as those update servers could feed you whatever installation files they desired.  As the pull quote from The Inquirer below states, removing it immediately would be a very good idea.

a6e6087353a6c593afc6327b758650a6.jpg

"My advice to anyone who purchased an Asus device: remove LiveUpdate. It's really that simple. If you're an IT administrator, find devices making periodic calls to Asus's domains and blackhole them, get the user to come and see you,"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Great, everyones bloatware is making your new system vulnerable

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2016 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: security, Lenovo, hp, dell, crapware, asus, acer

We take a quick break from telling you about all the shiny new things you can't have yet to inform you about problems with things you do have.  Bloatware is awful but continues to be popular for sellers of prebuilt systems, both mobile and desktop.  It is not just the pop ups telling you to buy the full version of whatever was installed on your system before you bought it, nor the CPU cycles these programs take up; the issue is security.  Lenovo and the Superfish issue were in the news recently and now it seems that vulnerabilities have been found in systems sold by Acer, ASUS and Dell as well.  10 devices were tested by Duo Security, all of which had vulnerabilities.  Dell and Lenovo had a single problem each, ones which we are already familiar with sadly while Acer and HP both have a pair.  You can read about what the vulnerabilities are over at The Inquirer, something to do while you reimage your new machine.

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"Duo Security identified 12 vulnerabilities across the vendors' machines. We have approached all of them to see whether they are happy to talk about the problems, which Duo described as significant."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

ASUS Announces Zenfone 3 Smartphone Family

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2016 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: zenfone 3, snapdragon 820, Snapdragon 625, smartphone, ips, computex 2016, computex, asus, Android, AMOLED

The Zenfone 3 family has been officially announced, and ASUS has provided all of the details of these new Android smartphones from Computex 2016.

zenfone_3_family.png

The Zenfone 3 family is comprised of three phones; the Zenfone 3, Zenfone 3 Deluxe, and the massive Zenfone 3 Ultra. The first of these is the standard Zenfone 3, which replaces the Zenfone 2 not only in number, but architecture. While the previous version was powered by an Intel SoC, this new Zenfone contains a conventional ARM-based SoC; the Snapdragon 625.

Zenfone_3.jpg

A 5.5-inch device with a FHD (1920x1080) IPS display protected by Gorilla Glass 4, the 7.69 mm thick Zenfone 3 also boasts a 16MP “PixelMaster” camera with OIS and “ultra-fast 0.03s instant focus” for clear photos. Other features include a sizable 4GB of RAM, a “5-magnet” speaker design and 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution audio support, and a 3000 mAh battery. The phone uses USB Type-C connectivity, and arrives with Android 6.0 with ZenUI 3.0.

ZF3_deluxe.jpg

Moving to the Zenfone 3 Deluxe, this higher-end model offers a slightly larger 5.7” FHD AMOLED display (rather than IPS), and adds Quick Charge 3.0 for the 3000 mAh, and USB 3.0 speed to the Type-C connector. The SoC powering the Deluxe is the biggest upgrade over the standard Zenfone 3, with the powerful Snapdragon 820 replacing the base model’s Snapdragon 625.

If you enjoy a more tablet-like experience, the 6.8-inch (!) Zenfone 3 Ultra might be for you!

zenfone_ultra.png

While still FHD at this tablet-like size, the rear camera on the Ultra is a big upgrade, with a 23MP PixelMaster Camera (via the Sony IMX318 sensor). The battery is also a big upgrade over the smaller phones, as the larger chassis allows a 4600 mAh capacity. The big question (pun intended) becomes, will people want to use a 6.8-inch smartphone? To which the answer must be, no, we will hold out for the 7+ inch phones! (Or not.)

As to pricing, the Zenfone 3 is nearly as aggressive as the previous version, with an MSRP of $249. The Deluxe version is priced much more like premium handset at $499, and the Ultra is just behind it at $479. Availablity has not been announced.

Source: ASUS

ASUS Avalon concept PC merges desktops and DIY with cable-free mindset

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 08:04 AM |
Tagged: crazy people, concept, computex 2016, computex, avalon, asus

If you expected Computex to be bland and stale this year, ASUS has something that is going to change your mind. During the company's Republic of Gamers press conference, it revealed a concept PC design it has been working on dubbed Avalon. The goal of this project was to improve on the fundamental design of the PC; something that hasn't changed for decades. ASUS wanted to show that you could build a platform that would allow DIY machines to be "more modular, easier to build, and more tightly integrated."

system-closed.jpg

The result is a proof of concept design that looks more like a high end turntable than a PC. In reality, you are looking at a machine that has been totally redesigned, from the power supply to motherboard and case integration to cooling considerations and more. ASUS has posted a great story that goes into a lot of detail on Avalon, and it's clear this is a project the team has been working on for some time.

The brainchild of Jonathan Chu, the Avalon concept takes a notebook-like approach to desktop design. The motherboard is designed in conjunction with the chassis to enable more seamless cooperation between the two.

system-open.jpg

The first example of changes to Avalon is something as simple as the front panel connectors on a case. Connecting them to your motherboard is the same today, basically, as it has ever been. But if you are the manufacturer or designer of both the chassis and the motherboard itself, it is trivial to have the buttons, lights and even additional capabilities built into a specific location on the PCB that matches with access points on the case. 

io.jpg

Re-thinking the rear IO panel was another target: making it modular and connected to the system via PCI Express means you can swap connectivity options based on the user's needs. Multiple Gigabit NICs a requirement? Done. Maximum USB capability? Sure. Even better, by making the back panel IO a connected device, it can host storage and sound controllers on its own, allowing for improved audio solutions and flexible data configurations. 

psu.jpg

ASUS even worked in a prototype power supply that is based on the SFX form factor but that uses a server-style edge connector, removing wires from the equation. It then becomes the motherboard's responsibility to distribute power through the other components; which again is easy to work through if you are designing these things in tandem. Installing or swapping a power supply becomes as simple as pulling out a drive tray.

This is all made possible by an internal structure that looks like this:

guts1.jpg

Rethinking how a motherboard is built, how it connects to the outside world and to other components, means that ASUS was able to adjust and change just about everything. The only area that remains the same is for the discrete graphics card. These tend to draw too much power to use any kind of edge connector (though the ASUS story linked above says they are working on a solution) and thus you see short run cables from a break out on the motherboard to the standard ROG graphics card.

system-graphics.jpg

The ASUS EdgeUp story has some more images and details and I would encourage you to check it out if you find this topic compelling; I know I do. There are no prices, no release dates, no plans for sampling yet. ASUS has built a prototype that is "right on the edge of what’s possible" and they are looking for feedback from the community to see what direction they should go next.

Will the DIY PC in 2020 be a completely different thing than we build today? It seems ASUS is asking the same question.

Source: ASUS EdgeUp

Computex 2016: ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10: Extreme-performance gaming motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, computex 2016, computex, asus

In celebration of 10 years of ASUS ROG motherboards, the company today revealed the new Rampage V Edition 10, an X99 motherboard targeting the release of the Intel Broadwell-E processors that are also set to be announced this week at Computex. This new board has basically every feature and capability an ROG product and buyer could ask for, including more LED and LED control than I know what to do with.

rampagevedition10.jpg

Some more detail from the ASUS press release:

The Rampage V Edition 10 is a celebratory refresh of ROG’s flagship extreme-performance motherboard designed to let gamers and overclockers break every limit.

glow.jpg

Based on the Intel® X99 chipset, the new motherboard sets new industry standards. It features the ultimate RGB lighting scheme with five independently-controlled onboard LED areas plus one 4-pin 5050 RGB header, and all can be synchronized by the all-new Aura software for stunning aesthetics. ROG has also teamed up with well-known RGB strip-makers and case manufacturers, including CableMod, IN WIN, Deepcool, BitFenix, and Phanteks — helping simplify RGB lighting compatibility and control.

The new motherboard is equipped with multiple ASUS exclusive features to aid extreme overclockers. These include Extreme Engine Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) for the cleanest, smoothest power, ASUS-exclusive T-topology technology for maxed-out DDR4 performance, and 5-Way Optimization for easy overclocking and fan tuning with one click.

shield.jpg

The Rampage V Edition 10 also includes multiple technologies to deliver the best gaming experience. The included SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio amplifier ensures flawless audio, dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet and GameFirst combine forces for low-latency networking, and ASUS Safe Slot reinforcement for PCIe connectors to prevent damage from heavy graphics cards. The new board introduces a patent-pending integrated I/O shield for style, easier construction, and enhanced durability.  There’s also a slew of onboard storage and connectivity options, including U.2, M.2, USB 3.1, and 3x3 Wi-Fi.

According to a post on an ASUS sub-site, the board will retail for $599 and should be on the market very soon!

Computex 2016: ASUS Announces ROG Swift PG248Q 180Hz G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays | May 30, 2016 - 07:12 AM |
Tagged: computex, asus, ROG, swift, pg248q

During the company's Republic of Gamers event at Computex 2016, ASUS officially announced the release of the ROG Swift PG248Q monitor. Though we have seen it teased previously, today's information release has some interesting new details.

pg248q.jpg

Based on a 24-inch 1920x1080 TN panel, the PG248Q was specifically built for gamers that desire a smaller display, to avoid being forced to move their head to find a specific target. The idea here is that eSports players, and those aspiring, need to have the entire monitor in their field of view at all times. 

The small size and 1080p resolution don't mean the display is devoid of impressive features though. It is a G-Sync monitor, so gamers can enjoy tear-free, smooth gaming with GeForce graphics cards as well as a 180Hz refresh rate! Add to that combination a rated response time of 1ms (grey to grey) and you have an incredibly high performance gaming panel.

The PG248Q will be the official display of some impressive gaming events including the ESL One 2016 and The International 2016, so I expect ASUS to have a ground swell of interest in this model.

No specifics on pricing or availability quite yet, but I've put in the requests accordingly.

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces ROG Strix GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 28, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, strix, GTX 1080, nvidia

The Founders Edition versions of the GTX 1080 went on sale yesterday, but we're beginning to see the third-party variants being announced. In this case, the ASUS ROG Strix is a three-fan design that uses their DirectCU III heatsink. More interestingly, ASUS decided to increase the amount of wattage that this card can accept by adding an extra, six-pin PCIe power connector (totaling 8-pin + 6-pin). A Founders Edition card only requires a single, eight-pin connection over the 75W provided by the PCIe slot itself. This provides an extra 75W of play room for the ROG Strix card, raising the maximum power from 225W to 300W.

asus-2016-1080strix-lighting.png

Some of this power will be used for its on-card, RGB LED lighting, but I doubt that it was the reason for the extra 75W of headroom. The lights follow the edges of the card, acting like hats and bow-ties to the three fans. (Yes, you will never unsee that now.) The shroud is also modular, and ASUS provides the data for enthusiasts to 3D print their own modifications (albeit their warranty doesn't cover damage caused by this level of customization).

asus-2016-1080strix-explode.png

As for the actual performance, the card naturally comes with an overclock out of the box. The default “Gaming Mode” has a 1759 MHz base clock with an 1898 MHz boost. You can flip this into “OC Mode” for a slight, two-digit increase to 1784 MHz base and 1936 MHz boost. It is significantly higher than the Founders Edition, though, which has a base clock of 1607 MHz that boosts to 1733 MHz. The extra power will likely help manual overclocks, but it will come down to “silicon lottery” whether your specific chip was abnormally less influenced by manufacturing defects. We also don't know yet whether the Pascal architecture, and the 16nm process it relies upon, has any physical limits that will increasingly resist overclocks past a certain frequency.

Pricing and availability is not yet announced.

Source: ASUS