Podcast #191 - ASUS AMD GPU Roundup, IMFT Flash, and tons of news from MWC!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: vengeance, tegra, podcast, nvidia, MWC, Intel, corsair, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #191 - 02/29/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our ASUS AMD GPU Roundup, IMFT Flash, and tons of news from MWC!

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 Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:05:06

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:32 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:38 Contest Reminder - http://pcper.com/contest
  6. 0:03:35 SilverStone TJ08-E Micro-ATX Tower Enclosure Review
  7. 0:05:00 Asus DirectCU and DirectCU II for AMD: 6850, 6870, 6950, and 6970 Boards Under the Microscope
  8. 0:16:15 AMD Updates the FX Line: Some Thoughts on Future Moves for AMD
  9. 0:22:55 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:23:45 Intel Ivy Bridge delay is confirmed essentially
  11. 0:27:30 GPU sales look a little down in the month
  12. 0:31:13 Could this new research lead to light speed RAM?
  13. 0:33:45 Just Delivered: Corsair Vengeance K90, K60, M90, M60 Keyboards and Mice
  14. 0:36:30 Intel / Micron Flash Technology Venture Expands, Micron Assumes Two Plants
  15. 0:40:30 Qualcomm Shipped Most Smartphone and Tablet GPUs in 2011
  16. 0:42:20 MWC 12: Samsung to compete with Tegra on quad-core CPU
  17. 0:45:20 MWC 12: Huawei enters the mobile SoC world with quad-core K3V2
  18. 0:47:00 Nokia World's Largest Windows Phone OS Smartphone Vendor in Q4 2011
  19. 0:49:00 MWC 12: Intel branded, Atom-powered smartphone to be sold by Orange
  20. 0:51:30 MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone
  21. 0:55:00 MWC 12: Lots of industry support for NVIDIA DirectTouch
  22. 0:56:55 MWC 12: NVIDIA Roadmap Outlines Tegra's Future Including 4G and Die Shrink
  23. Contest Reminder - http://pcper.com/contest
  24. 1:00:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: A phone that shows pictures of hotels
    2. Jeremy: Audio steganography
    1. Josh: If you do wanna go AMD... cheaply
    2. Allyn: CircuitLab
  25. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  26. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  27. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  28. Closing

Source:

MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: MWC, Transformer, tablet, padfone, mobile world congress, eee pad, asus, MWC 12, infinity, transformer prime

While attending CES last month, ASUS showed us a Transformer Prime with a full HD display. It looked great, but it did feel as if the branding would be a bit perplexing, as this new model would also be sold as a Prime.

ASUS Transformer Pad_Infinity_04.jpg

Apparently the company had this thought, as well. They’ve now unveiled the Transformer Pad Infinity Series, a new tablet with a 1920x1200 IPS+ display. It will come in two different variants. One is 4G LTE compatible and uses a Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait (whoa! Take a breath…) dual-core 1.5 GHz processor. The WiFi version, on the other hand, uses the now-familiar Nvidia Tegra 3. Both models have a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. They also share the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Infinity Series will be available in the same Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold finishes already available on the current Transformer Prime.

(Editor's Note) If you are wondering why the LTE version of the new Transformer Infinity is not using the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, we are hearing that the NVIDIA part is still not compatible with LTE radio controllers and won't be for another few months.  This is also why the new HTC One X smartphone doesn't use the Tegra 3 processor on the AT&T LTE network while other phones in the family do.  So will users of the LTE version of the Infinity miss the quad-core design when moving to the dual-core option from Qualcomm instead?  While we can't be sure, the new Krait design is a "wider" CPU with a better memroy interface yet still runs at similar clock speeds and it should be faster in single or lightly threaded programs.  

ASUS Transformer Pad_TF300.jpg

This new flagship will slot above the Transformer Prime. But ASUS hasn’t just focused on the glitter and gold – they’ve also taken the wraps off the Transformer Pad 300, which is a new entry-level model. It features a 1280x800 IPS display and uses Tegra 3 in both the 4G LTE and WiFi models. The front camera is a 1.2MP unit and the rear camera is 8MP with LED flash. 16GB of internal storage is your only option. The 300 will offer new blue, white and red color schemes not yet available on any Transformer table

Both of these new models are Transformers, which means keyboard docks will be available as an option. They also include Android 4.0 and quote the same battery life of 10 hours without the dock.

Source: ASUS
Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

AMD Gets the Direct CU Treatment

In the previous roundup I covered the DirectCU II models from Asus featuring NVIDIA based chips.  These boards included the GTX 580, 570, and 560 products.  All of these were DirectCU II based with all the updated features that are included as compared to the original DirectCU products.  With the AMD parts Asus has split the top four products into two categories; DirectCU II and the original DirectCU.  When we start looking at thermal properties and price points, we will see why Asus took this route.

asus_4amd_01.jpg

AMD has had a strong couple of years with their graphics chips.  While they were not able to take the single GPU performance crown in this previous generation, their products were very capable and competitive across the board and at every price point.  In fact, there are some features that these cards have at particular price points that make them very desirable in quite a few applications.  In particular are the 2 GB of memory on the HD 6900 series cards where the competition from NVIDIA at those price points features 1 GB and 1.25 GB.  In titles such as Skyrim, with the HD texture DLC enabled, these cards start to limit performance at 1920x1080 and above due to the memory requirements needed for these higher resolution textures.

Read the entire article here.

Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) Update For Original Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2012 - 09:31 AM |
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, ics, ice cream sandwich, eee pad transformer, asus, Android

While the new Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime and it's Transformer Prime with upgraded display sibling have stolen the spotlight from the original dock-able Transformer tablet, Asus has not forgotten about it. They recently began pushing out an Over The Air update to bring a tasty Ice Cream Sandwich to the Asus Transformer (original)!

transformerICS.png

In case you missed it, our own Matt Smith did a review of the new Android operating system on the Transformer Prime here. While the original Transformer is running older hardware, users are reporting that aside from minor app glitches performs fairly well on the Tegra 2.  And if you've been living under a rock for the past two years, he also wrote up a nice review of the original Eee Pad Transfomer.

According to Maximum PC, users are reporting that the update was mostly a success and the performance was decent, though there seems to be a few instances of app glitchy-ness.  It will just take some time to work out the kinks in updating the older hardware, and in general I think the update is a great thing for Asus to provide, especially  this late in the game.  Perhaps we will start seeing some discounted Transformers, though we may also see them become more valuable and go for a few more dollars now that they are updated to the new ICS OS.

It is nice to see Asus continuing to support their products with new updates.  Have you received the ICS update on your Transformer yet? Let us know what you think of the performance and new features in the comments below!

Source: Maximum PC

Switch on a hinge and a 350 foot network cable - how to rig up your new office

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2012 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: asus, office tour

Sometimes things don't work out the way you want them and you have to improvise.  In our case this week, as we prepare to move into a new office space, we had a couple of dilemmas crop up.

  1. The "cabinet" the previous owner made for network was an actual cabinet and didn't have enough depth for a switch, let alone a server.
  2. Fiber internet is coming but not for another 6 weeks - what do we do until then?

The first issue of our networking cabinet was resolved by putting a 24-port Gigabit switch on a hinge inside the not-quite-deep-enough space we had for it.  And sure, once you find out we used Gorilla glue, a block of wood and standard door hinges from Home Depot, it might sound a little bit on the ghetto side, but the fact is...it worked!

Our problem with an actual internet connection to apply to the switch in question was a bit harder.  Since our fiber wasn't going to be installed until late March, and I didn't want to see the office space simply sit there and be wasted until then, we had to find another solution.  We asked our neighbors about using their connections temporarily and while several were open to it, speed tests showed consistent 1.4 mbps downstream and 0.45 mbps upstream connections.  Not good for the amount of video we do here.

So, another option presented itself: our current office that has 20 mbps down and 2 mbps up service (mediocre, but still better) was only a short 100-110 meters away.  Could a Cat5e cable simply be run between them?  Turns out it could and we were even able to run a length has long as 500 ft without a problem, connecting 10/100 rather than Gigabit speeds.  

In total, our hinge modification cost us about $4.50 and the 500 ft spool of cable just around $50 but the hassle we saved has been worth thousands.  The cable connection issue is obviously not permanent but barring any rogue squirrel retaliation in the next 4-6 weeks, it should more than serve our purposes.

Enjoy the weekend!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design, User Interface

P1050445.JPG

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.

specifications.png

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. 

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Transformer Prime Keyboard!!

ASUS Xonar Essence One, not all ears need apply

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 02:03 PM |
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.

KG_asus-xonar.png

"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:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Kitguru

Rawr, ASUS unleashed the X79 Sabertooth

Subject: Motherboards | February 1, 2012 - 02:16 PM |
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.

HWC_Intro.jpg

"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:

Motherboards

 

Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

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.

adcII_01.jpg

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.

Read the entire article here.

Asus Padfone To (Finally) Debut At Mobile World Congress

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2012 - 12:30 PM |
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.

padfone.png

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...