Author:
Manufacturer: Various

An Upgrade Project

When NVIDIA started talking to us about the new GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card, one of the key points they emphasized was the potential use for this first-generation Maxwell GPU to be used in the upgrade process of smaller form factor or OEM PCs. Without the need for an external power connector, the GTX 750 Ti provided a clear performance delta from integrated graphics with minimal cost and minimal power consumption, so the story went.

Eager to put this theory to the test, we decided to put together a project looking at the upgrade potential of off the shelf OEM computers purchased locally.  A quick trip down the road to Best Buy revealed a PC sales section that was dominated by laptops and all-in-ones, but with quite a few "tower" style desktop computers available as well.  We purchased three different machines, each at a different price point, and with different primary processor configurations.

The lucky winners included a Gateway DX4885, an ASUS M11BB, and a Lenovo H520.

IMG_9724.JPG

Continue reading An Upgrade Story: Can the GTX 750 Ti Convert OEMs PCs to Gaming PCs?

The ASUS Chromebox Will Be Available in March

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 4, 2014 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: Chromebox, asus

Often, people purchase a device with the intent of running a web browser on it. I understand the appeal of Joshtekk.com and we can all relate to the desire for it to have a dedicated machine. Google, through Chrome OS, targets this market with a line of laptops dedicated to web browsing. They are effective against virulent infections, a useful feature for casual Joshtekk encounters, with its limited native applications and simple recovery process.

The ASUS Chromebox will try to be your Joshtekk desktop.

ASUS-Chromebox-hero.jpg

ASUS is, by no means, first to this market. Samsung had a couple of Chromebox models almost two years ago. That said, the ASUS Chromebox will start at $179 USD (which is much cheaper than Samsung's $329 offering). The base model will contain an Intel Celeron 2955U processor (the aforementioned Samsung packed a Celeron B840), which is not a high-performance processor, but may suffice for your web browsing needs. If not, an Intel Core i3 model has also been announced but I do not have pricing to relay about that one. A Core i7-4600U version may or may not surface, as well. Its graphics will support options up to an Intel HD 4400.

One feature that is unexpected is its video outputs. The ASUS Chromebox supports both HDMI and DisplayPort connections for dual monitors and 4K. Given that this is a 5-inch by 5-inch (and fanless) design, with access to Netflix and other streaming services, it could make a good replacement for a "smart TV".

The ASUS Chromebox will be available in March starting at $179 USD. This price comes with 100GB of Google Drive space, free for 2 years. Also free: a VESA mount kit to, I believe, attach the Chromebox to the back of an HDTV.

If interested, read on for the press release.

Source: ASUS

Is custom air cooling enough for the R9 290X?

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 23, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, asus, R9 290X DC2 OC, overclocking

[H]ard|OCP has had a chance to take the time to really see how well the R9 290X can overclock, as frequencies get lower as heat increases a quick gaming session is not enough to truly represent the performance of this new GPU.  The ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II OC offers a custom cooler which demonstrated the overclocking potential of this GPU on air cooling, or at least this specific GPU as we have seen solid evidence of performance variability with 28nm Hawaii GPUs.  You should read the full review to truly understand what they saw when overclocking but the good news is that once they found a sweet spot for fan speed and voltage the GPU remained at the frequency they chose.  Unfortunately at 1115MHz the overclock they managed was only 75MHz higher than the cards default speed and while that could beat a stock GTX 780 Ti, the NVIDIA product overclocked higher and proved the superior card. 

1389621638LtCMz6ijr3_1_1.jpg

"We will take the ASUS R9 290X DC2 OC custom AMD R9 290X based video card and for the first time see how well the 290X can overclock. We will also for the first time compare it to an overclocked GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card head-to-head and see who wins when overclocking is accounted for."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #284 - OCZ Vertex 460, ASUS DirectCUII R9 270X and 280X, TITAN Black and GTX 790 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2014 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, ocz, vertex 460, asus, direcuii, 270X, 280x, titan black, gtx 790

PC Perspective Podcast #284 - 01/23/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the OCZ Vertex 460, ASUS DirectCUII R9 270X and 280X, TITAN Black and GTX 790 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:16:11
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:09:50 PC Perspective's Best Hardware of 2013
    2. 0:11:00 Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Tablet 10
    3. 0:15:50 ECS GANK DRONE Z87H3-A3X Motherboard Review
    4. 0:18:50 OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD Review
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

NVIDIA G-Sync DIY Kit For ASUS VG248QE Monitor Now Available for $199

Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gaming, g-sync, DIY, asus

NVIDIA's new G-Sync variable refresh rate technology is slowly being rolled out to consumers in the form of new monitors and DIY upgrade kits that can be used to add G-Sync functionality to existing displays. The first G-Sync capable monitor to support the DIY upgrade kit path is the ASUS VG248QE which is a 24" 1080p 144Hz TN panel. The monitor itself costs around $270 and the you can now purchase a G-Sync DIY upgrade kit from NVIDIA for $199.

The upgrade kit comes with a replacement controller board, power supply, HDMI cable, plastic spudger, IO shields, and installation instructions. Users will need to take apart the VG248QE monitor, remove the old PCBs and install the G-Sync board in its place. According to NVIDIA the entire process takes about 30 minutes though if this is your first time digging into monitor internals it will likely take closer to an hour to install.

The NVIDIA G-Sync DIY kit below the ASUS VG248QE monitor.

For help with installation, NVIDIA has posted a video of the installation process on YouTube. If you find text and photos easier, you can follow the installation guides written up for PC Perspective by Allyn Malventano and reader Levi Kendall. Both DIY kit reviews stated that the process, while a bit involved, was possible for most gamers to perform with a bit of guidance.

You can order the DIY upgrade kit yourself from this NVIDIA page.

Alternatively, ASUS is also releasing an updated version of the VG248QE monitor with the G-Sync board pre-installed in the first half of this year. This updated G-Sync monitor will have an MSRP of $399.

With the G-Sync kit at $199, will you be going the DIY path or waiting for a new monitor with the technology pre-installed?

Read more about NVIDIA's G-Sync display technology at PC Perspective including first impressions, installation, and more!

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

A Refreshing Change

Refreshes are bad, right?  I guess that depends on who you talk to.  In the case of AMD, it is not a bad thing.  For people who live for cutting edge technology in the 3D graphics world, it is not pretty.  Unfortunately for those people, reality has reared its ugly head.  Process technology is slowing down, but product cycles keep moving along at a healthy pace.  This essentially necessitates minor refreshes for both AMD and NVIDIA when it comes to their product stack.  NVIDIA has taken the Kepler architecture to the latest GTX 700 series of cards.  AMD has done the same thing with the GCN architecture, but has radically changed the nomenclature of the products.

Gone are the days of the Radeon HD 7000 series.  Instead AMD has renamed their GCN based product stack with the Rx 2xx series.  The products we are reviewing here are the R9 280X and the R9 270X.  These products were formerly known as the HD 7970 and HD 7870 respectively.  These products differ in clock speeds slightly from the previous versions, but the differences are fairly minimal.  What is different are the prices for these products.  The R9 280X retails at $299 while the R9 270X comes in at $199.

asus_r9_01.png

Asus has taken these cards and applied their latest DirectCU II technology to them.  These improvements relate to design, component choices, and cooling.  These are all significant upgrades from the reference designs, especially when it comes to the cooling aspects.  It is good to see such a progression in design, but it is not entirely surprising given that the first HD 7000 series debuted in January, 2012.

Click here to read the rest of the review!

CES 2014: Intel Keynote with Their Dual OS and Edison

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2014 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: Transformer Book Duet, Intel, CES 2014, CES, asus

Monday, the opening day of CES, was full of keynotes and announcements from Audi to Valve (Yahoo! was the day after). Okay, so that is probably not the complete alphabetical range, but keep reading regardless. The Intel speech had a few surprises including Gabe Newell re-announcing Steam Machines just a couple of hours after his own keynote.

Intel-logo.svg_.png

Possibly the most surprising to me was the "Dual OS platforms" announcement. Frankly, I am fine with using BlueStacks for whatever little Android use that my desktop experiences. I did see a demo of the ASUS Transformer Book Duet, however, which was able to switch between Android and Windows 8.1 with the touch of a button and about 3 seconds of black screen. It seems to be more than emulation and it is pretty clearly not rebooting.

To be clear, the following is speculation (and not even confident at that). I am hypothesizing... not reporting. Unfortunately, Intel (and ASUS) have been very silent on the actual implementation as far as I can tell. Since this is clearly branded as "Android and Windows can be friends", it would not surprise me if this was a baked solution for the two platforms and maybe even special hardware.

One possibility is that hardware or software loads both operating systems into memory or hibernation state. In this way, when the user signals their desire for a change, the former operating system is slept (or hibernated) and the processor is then pointed to the others memory space.

Video credit: PCMag

If the above is the case then I hope popular Linux distributions can get their hands on it. Rebooting is far too annoying for me to try out alternative operating systems and virtualization is also too problematic (at least for now). If I can just suspend and switch, especially with native performance on either end, then I will definitely be willing to play around. Honestly, how expensive are RAM and storage these days?

But, if it is user-accessible, then it would be a major consideration for a future upgrade.

intel-edison.jpg

The other cute little announcement is Edison, a dual core PC in an SD card form factor. The hope is that this device will power wearable computing and make other devices smarter. It is based on 22nm silicon and even includes WiFi. One use case they presented was a bottle warmer which warms the milk before you even get your child.

Despite the late coverage, it was a very interesting keynote. Ars Technica still has their live blog published if you would like to skim through a play-by-play.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: NVIDIA Shows Modified ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor with G-Sync

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2014 - 01:01 AM |
Tagged: pq321q, PQ321, nvidia, gsync, g-sync, CES 2014, CES, asus, 4k

Just before CES Allyn showed you the process of modifying the ASUS VG248QE to support NVIDIA G-Sync variable refresh rate technology.  It wasn't the easiest mod we have ever done but even users without a lot of skill will be able to accomplish it.  

But at the NVIDIA booth at CES this year the company was truly showing off G-Sync technology to its fullest capability.  By taking the 3840x2160 ASUS PQ321Q monitor and modifying it with the same G-Sync module technology we were able to see variable refresh rate support in 4K glory.

4kgsync1.jpg

Obviously you can't see much from the photo above about the smoothness of the animation, but I can assure you that in person this looks incredible.  In fact, 4K might be the perfect resolution for G-Sync to shine as running games at that high of a resolution will definitely bring your system to its knees, dipping below that magical 60 Hz / FPS rate.  But when it does with this modified panel, you'll still get smooth game play and a a tear-free visual experience.

4kgsync2.jpg

The mod is actually using the same DIY kit that Allyn used in his story though it likely has a firmware update for compatibility.  Even with the interesting debate from AMD about the support for VRR in the upcoming DisplayPort 1.3 standard, it's impossible to not see the ASUS PQ321Q in 4K with G-Sync and instantly fall in love with PCs again.

Sorry - there are no plans to offer this upgrade kit for ASUS PQ321Q owners!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014 Podcast Day 2 - ASUS, Lucid, Valve, Seagate and more!!

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2014 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: video, valve, SteamOS, Seagate, podcast, lucid, LaCie, iosafe, CES 2014, CES, asus

CES 2014 Podcast Day 2 - 01/06/14

It's time for podcast fun at CES!  Join us as we talk about the second day of the show including new products from ASUS, Lucid, Valve, Seagate 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: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 57:03

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: Asus Announces the PadFone X (AT&T Exclusive) and PadFone mini for US

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, PadFone Mini, padfone, LTE Advanced, HD Voice, CES 2014, CES, Carrier Aggregation, atom z2580, asus, Android

Asus’ PadFone is a cool idea that’s never yet made it stateside—but that’s all about to change with the advent of the PadFone X, which will be headed exclusively to AT&T at some point in the future (TBA).  The PadFone was a concept first introduced in 2011 that involves a smartphone which docks with a larger tablet for seamless transition between screen sizes.  Everything is also constantly and instantly synced between the two gadgets via independent Wi-Fi and cellular data connections without the need to manually invoke synchronization.  Any applications which are currently running on either device will automatically resize to fit the other screen when the PadFone is docked or undocked.

PadFone_X.png

It’s a really clever design that we’re happy to see is coming to the US.  Pricing and detailed specifications are still up in the air, but here’s what we do know about it:

  • 5-inch 1080p screen
  • Docks with a 9-inch 1080p companion tablet station
  • Brushed metal frame with soft-touch back cover
  • Dual front speakers

A “large” battery in the companion tablet station also allows for charging of the 5-inch PadFone when docked, providing “2 times longer” battery life.

PadFone_mini_1.jpg

The PadFone X supports a couple of new technologies on AT&T’s network as well to help improve voice quality:

  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE): This is a new technology which allows for much better quality voice transmission using a codec referred to as HD Voice (technically called Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband).
  • Carrier Aggregation: A part of LTE Advanced, this allows for the grouping of up to five separate 20 MHz bands to produce up to a maximum aggregated bandwidth of 100 MHz.  Essentially, it translates to better voice quality for the PadFone X.

More details about the PadFone X will be announced soon.

In the meantime, Asus also unveiled the PadFone mini, which is not tethered to any particular carrier.  It’s essentially a more basic version of the PadFone X, and judging by the screen resolution alone (800x480 for the phone and 1280x800 for the tablet), it’s clear that it’s intended more for the mainstream market than tech enthusiasts.

PadFone_mini_3S.jpg

The full specs are as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Atom Z2560 processor
  • RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
  • Storage: 8 GB internal w/ Micro SD slot for expansion
  • Screen:
    • Phone: 800x480 IPS
    • Station: 1280x800 IPS
  • Camera: 8 MP rear camera (f/2.0) and 2 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery:
    • Phone: 4.5Wh, 1170mAh, non-removable polymer battery
    • Station: 8.3Wh, 2100mAh, non-removable polymer battery
  • Weight/Dimensions:
    • Phone: 116g; 124.42 (L) x 61.44 (W) x 6.3-11.2 (H) mm
    • Station: 260g; 199.85 (L) x 119.43 (W) x 13.91 (H) mm
  • Five color choices: Black, White, Red, Blue, and Yellow
  • Dual-SIM support
  • New ZenUI interface layered atop Android OS, which provides new apps, visual tweaks, and some useful extras.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more on both devices as it’s announced!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus