Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | March 5, 2014 - 08:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: motherboards, Kabini, asus
AMD has just released Kabini as a socketed SoC with the AM1 platform. Not far behind is a few motherboards... because who wants a socketed APU without a socket? Chumps, that's who. Since no-one wants to be a chump, ASUS is getting ready to release two options in April. They are designed for low-power desktops and home theatre PCs.
The two boards are named the AM1M-A (Micro ATX) and the AM1I-A (Mini ITX). Otherwise, the two boards are very similar, but not identical. For instance, the Micro ATX version has two extra USB 3.0 ports while the Mini ITX has an extra COM header. The Micro ATX also has VD... by that, I mean a Realtek ALC887-VD sound card, where the Mini ITX has the ALC887 sound card without the suffix (I do not think there is a difference). The Micro ATX board also has a PCIe x16 slot (although it is electrically PCIe x4) to connect a larger-socketed add-in board (AIB) to it. As far as I can tell, they are basically the same, though.
Both motherboards will be available in April, but we do not yet have pricing information.
If interested, check out ASUS' press release after the break.
Subject: Motherboards | March 3, 2014 - 06:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, J1800I, Bay Trail, mini ITX
Asus has launched a new motherboard that comes equipped with Intel’s latest Bay Trail processor. The new Asus J1800I-C is a mini ITX motherboard with a passively-cooled (soldered on) Intel Celeron J1800I prcoessor.
In addition to the included Bay Trail processor, the Asus J1800I-C motherboard has two DDR3L SODIMM slots (8GB 1333MHz max), two SATA II 3Gbps ports, a PCI-E x1 slot, and a single Mini PCI-E connector. The Celeron J1800I is a 10W TDP chip with two cores clocked at 2.41 GHz base and 2.58 GHz boost paired with an Intel HD Graphics GPU and 1MB CPU cache.
External I/O on the J1800I-C includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 1 x COM
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111G NIC)
- 3 x Audio
- 2 x Video outputs
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but the board and CPU combo should retail for around $65 USD. This system could be used as a development board for mobile Bay Trail systems or a low cost driver of digital signage and kiosks. It could also make for a low power desktop if the pricing works out right compared to other SFF systems.
Also read: MSI Launching J1800I Mini ITX Motherboard With Intel Bay Trail-D Processor @ PC Perspective.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula is among the newest members of the Republic of Gamer (ROG) product line. From the design of its ROG Armor to its power regulation circuitry, the Maximum VI Formula takes the ASUS Z87 motherboard line to a whole new level. The Maximus VI Formula does not come cheap at an MSRP of $329.99, but it is a steal in light of all the high-end component ASUS packed under the hood.
Courtesy of ASUS
ASUS designed the Maximus VI Formula with a top notch power delivery system, featuring an 8+2-phase digital power regulation system using BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETS touting 90% efficiency, and 10k-rated Black Metallic capacitors. The ASUS integrated the following features into the Maximus VI Formula's design: 10 SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) SSD slot integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo II card; an Intel I217-V GigE NIC; an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo II card; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, ROG Connect, DirectKey, and BIOS switch buttons; Probelt voltage measurement points; OC Panel support; SupremeFX Formula audio solution; CrossChill Hybrid air and water cooled VRM cooling solution; ROG Armor overlay; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 4, 2014 - 06:00 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 23, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Sapphire R9 290 4GB TRI-X OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- HIS R9 270X IceQ X² Turbo Boost 2GB @ eTeknix
- Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X 4GB @ eTeknix
- Powercolor R9 280X TurboDuo 3GB @ eTeknix
- ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II OC 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte AMD Radeon R9 290X WF OC Video Card Review @ Madshrimps
- Sapphire Radeon R7 260X OC Review @ TechwareLabs
- EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified 3072 MB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHZ Edition Review! @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2014 - 11:22 AM | Ken Addison
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!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 03:35 PM | Tim Verry
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!
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 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.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2014 - 12:32 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
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.
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