ASUS Launches ROG RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: ssd, raidr express, raidr, pci-e ssd, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched its PCI-E based ROG RAIDR Express SSD which was first shown off at CES 2013. The company posted details and high resolution photos on its Republic of Gamers blog on Friday.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Installed In A System.jpg

The new PCI-E-based solid state drive measures 157 x 120 x 20mm and contains 240GB of NAND flash encased in a sleek metal Replublic Of Gamers themed exterior. Specifically, the RAIDR Express uses 19nm Toshiba synchronous MLC NAND flash and two LSI SandForce 2281 SSD controllers. As such, the drive is actually two SSDs that are placed in a RAID 0 configuration for the best performance. ASUS rates the drive at 830 MB/s sequential reads and 810 MB/s sequential writes. The PCI-E SSD is further capable of up to 100,000 4K random IOPS.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Chips.png

ASUS has also included what it is calling a "DuoMode" BIOS switch that allows the drive to be used with either legacy or modern UEFI BIOSes. When the switch is in the EUFI position, PCs with the modern UEFI-equipped motherboards can boot up faster.

Beyond the RAIDR Express SSD itself, ASUS includes the following bundled software packages:

  • CrystalDiskMark
  • RAMDisk software
  • HybriDisk caching software
  • SSD TweakIT utility

ASUS is including RAMDisk software that is able to use as much as 80% of system RAM as a virtual drive that can be used to reduce wear on the SSD by using the RAM drive instead of the SSD for writing temporary files and the like. The above mentioned HybriDisk software allows the RAIDR Express SSD to be used as a cache drive for mechanical hard drives up to 4TB in capacity. Users can use the TweakIT utility to manage and optimize the SSD, and the CrystalDiskMark benchmark is being included to allow gamers to run benchmarks on the RAIDR Express to get an idea of its performance.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD.png

Oddly enough, ASUS has yet to release specific pricing or availability. More information along with the full press release can be found on the Republic of Gamers blog, however.

With that said, some sites are reporting that the RAIDR Express will be sold for around 440 Euros, which works out to about $600 USD or $2.5 per Gigabyte. Update: Commentor Roberto has pointed out that the RAIDR Express 240GB is available over in Japan for around 39,980 Yen, or ~$409 USD which is a much more reasonable price. US availability and pricing are still just estimates at this point, however. A bit on the expensive side (if the price is true) for sure, but it is nice to see another player in the PCI-E SSD space and it looks to be a speedy drive aimed at ROG fans and enthusiasts.

Also read: Details on a 120GB ASUS ROG RAIDR Express SSD @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

Google Rolls Out Updated Nexus 7 With Android 4.3 And Better Hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon S4 Pro, qualcomm, nexus 7, google, asus, android 4.3

Google recently launched an updated version of its Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet. The existing Nexus 7 will be discontinued and replaced by three new Nexus 7 SKUs. The updated tablets are slightly thinner and lighter, come with improved hardware specifications, and will come with Google’s latest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” operating system.

The updated Nexus 7 features a 7” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which works out to 323 pixels per inch (PPI) and front-facing HD webcam on the front of the device. The back of the tablet hosts a 5MP camera and a smooth soft touch cover. A micro USB port is located on the bottom edge. Google has added stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the tablet.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

Internal specifications include a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the specific SKU. There is no SD card slot on the Nexus 7, unfortunately. Additionally, the Nexus 7 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and Qi wireless charging. Google will have both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the latter coming with 32GB of internal storage and a 4G LTE cellular radio compatible with all the major US carriers.

The chart below compares the specifications of the original Nexus 7 to the updated Nexus 7 tablet.

  New Nexus 7 Original Nexus 7
Display 1920 x 1200 1280 x 800
Height 7.9" 7.81"
Depth/thickness 0.3" 0.41"
Weight 11.2 oz 12 oz
Processor Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)
RAM 2GB 1GB
Internal Storage Options 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB
Wireless Radio Options Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), BT, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), BT, and 3G/HSPA+21
OS Android 4.3 Android 4.1
Starting MSRP $229 (16GB) $249 (16GB)

Google has continued its partnership with Asus and worked with the hardware company to develop the updated Nexus 7 tablets.

The Nexus 7 will be available in the US starting on July 30. It will be rolled out to other countries over the next few weeks including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea, and Spain among others.

The 16GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $229 while the 32GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $269. Finally, the Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE modem will cost $349.

In all, I think Google has another winner on its hands with the updated Nexus 7.
 

Source: Google

Podcast #261 - ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor Review, Samsung 840 Evo details, Kepler meets Tegra, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2013 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: video, tegra 5, Samsung, pq321q, podcast, logan, kepler, asus, 840 evo, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #261 - 07/25/2013

Join us this week as we discuss our ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor Review, Samsung 840 Evo details, Kepler meets Tegra, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:12:20

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Got nothing so random mod
    2. Allyn: A sinusesectomy
    3. Morry: When Artic Silver just isn't good enough - IC Diamond Thermal Paste
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

 

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: ASUS

Specifications and Overview

Talk to most PC enthusiasts today, be they gamers or developers, and ask them what technology they are most interested in for the next year or so and you will most likely hear about 4K somewhere in the discussion.  While the world of consumer electronics and HDTV has been stuck in the rut of 1080p for quite some time now, computers, smartphones and tablets are racing in the direction of higher resolutions and higher pixel densities.  4K is a developing standard that pushes screen resolutions to 4K x 2K pixels and if you remove the competing options discussion (3840x2160 versus 4096x2160 are the most prominent) this move is all good news for the industry.

I first dove into the area of 4K displays when I purchased the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in 4K TV in April for $1300 when it popped up online.  The TV showed up days later and we did an unboxing and preview of the experience and I was blown away by the quality difference by moving to a 3840x2160 screen, even with other caveats to be had.  It was a 30 Hz panel, half a typical LCD computer display today, it had limited functionality and it honestly wasn't the best quality TV I had ever used.  But it was 4K, it was inexpensive and it was available. 

It was hard to beat at the time but the biggest drawback was the lack of 60 Hz support, the ability for the screen to truly push 60 frames per second to the panel.  This caused some less than desirable results with Windows usage and even in gaming where visual tearing was more prominent when Vsync was disabled.  But a strength of this design was that it only required a single HDMI connection and would work with basically any current graphics systems.  I did some Frame Rating game performance testing at 4K and found that GPU horsepower was definitely a limiting factor. 

IMG_9767.JPG

Today I follow up our initial unboxing and preview of the ASUS PQ321Q 4K monitor with a more thorough review and summary of our usage results.  There is quite a bit that differs between our experience with the SEIKI and the ASUS panels and it is more than just the screen sizes.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS PQ321Q 4K 60 Hz Tiled Monitor!!

NVIDIA Releases 326.19 Beta Driver, Adds Support for 4K Tiled Displays!

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | July 18, 2013 - 08:16 PM |
Tagged: pq321q, PQ321, nvidia, drivers, asus, 4k

It would appear that NVIDIA was paying attention to our recent live stream where we unboxed and setup our new ASUS PQ321Q 4K 3840x2160 monitor.  During our setup on the AMD and NVIDIA based test beds I noticed (and the viewers saw) some less than desirable results during initial configuration.  The driver support was pretty clunky, we had issues with reliability of booting and switching between SST and MST (single and multi stream transport) modes caused the card some issue as well. 

4kdriver.png

Today NVIDIA released a new R326 driver, 326.19 beta, that improves performance in a couple of games but more importantly, adds support for "tiled 4K displays."  If you don't know what that means, you aren't alone.  A tiled display is one that is powered by multiple heads and essentially acts as multiple screens in a single housing.  The ASUS PQ321Q monitor that we have in house, and the Sharp PN-K321, are tiled displays that use DisplayPort 1.2 MST technology to run at 3840x2160 @ 60 Hz. 

It is great to see NVIDIA reacting quickly to new technologies and to our issues from just under a week gone by.  If you have either of these displays, be sure to give the new driver a shot and let me know your results!

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #260 - Gigabyte Z87-OC Force, ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor, FX-9000 Processors and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: z87 oc force, video, pq321q, podcast, gigabyte, fx-9000, asus, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #260 - 07/18/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z87-OC Force, ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor, FX-9000 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!

  • 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, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:17:39

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: T-shirts
    2. Jeremy: Electro-Permanent Magnets on quadcopters; how do they work?
    3. Morry: Water cooler barbs, what else - Monsoon barbs
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

 

Hardware Flashback: Asus P2B

Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2013 - 08:34 PM |
Tagged: Pentium II, Pentium !!!, pentium, P2B, Intel, hardware flashback, asus, 440 BX

Retro hardware is so much fun.  Today we have the Asus P2B, and while it was not a game changer for the time, it was a popular board.  This popularity sprang from its excellent compatibility with older Pentium II processors and a wide variety of AGP cards.  It was one of the last series of boards that Asus released that did not feature the jumperless BIOS options that we take for granted these days.

p2b_01.jpg

3 ISA ports staring us in the face!  ATA-33?  Oh yeah!

There are some things that really spring out when looking at the board.  Having 3 ISA slots seems pretty much overkill as most people used perhaps two of them (modem and sound card), but I can see this being popular with people who also utilize older SCSI cards (such as those used with scanners of the time).  Having 3 ISA meant that there were only 4 PCI slots.  Remember, ISA and PCI slots situated next to each other would share the same backplate slot, so PCI and ISA could not be used adjacent to each other.  Remember as well that we often saw issues with the first PCI slot as it shared resources with the AGP slot.  This essentially gives only two usable PCI slots if a user was full up on ISA cards.

The board features 3 DIMM slots at a time when it was popular to use a buffer chip to allow up to four DIMM slots.  These buffer chips were often a big performance hit in memory operations and they quickly fell out of favor with most enthusiasts and power users.  Having 3 DIMM slots did lower the maximum potential installed memory, but not by all that much.  The performance benefits of slightly less memory but better performance often outweighed having that fourth DIMM.

p2b_02.jpg

These old boards look so bare even compared to current low-end motherboards.  Excellent for someone who needs two serial ports, though!

The BX boards supported the 100 MHz bus speed for the latest Pentium IIs and upcoming Pentium !!!s.  This particular board was quite popular with people that had older Pentium IIs with the 66 MHz FSB.  Running these at 3 x 100 or 3.5 x 100 would give a nice overall boost for these aging processors.  Users who were early implementers of Pentium II CPUs were stuck with the old 440FX chipset which did not feature SDRAM or AGP support.  This would have been a nice upgrade in performance and functionality for those users as they could pop in their Pentium II 266 or 300 and tweak their way to performance nirvana.

This board was released before we saw the change to the colored peripheral connections, so every plug on the back of the board is black.  Color coding was for wimps anyway.  It also does not include integrated sound.  So there goes one of those ISA slots.  Users of the time would have probably installed a soundcard, modem, PCI Ethernet card, and their AGP card.  So where would the Voodoo 2 go?  How about two of them?  Things would get awful crowded very quickly.

p2b_03.jpg

That dust may or may not have been deposited around 1999...

The AGP support on these boards was of course excellent.  That is primarily because Intel was the main driver of the specification and everyone else developed their cards to run in these slots.  VIA, SiS, and others of course had compatibility issues with a wide variety of cards.  This is why we saw other folks like 3dfx make their products run at below AGP specs.  For instance, the Voodoo 3 was essentially a PCI 66 MHz device in the AGP slot.  This disabled features like sideband addressing and reading textures from main memory.

This was still a popular board even in the face of competition with superior features.  The Asus brand and name goes far.  Plus it was a fast board for the time that was a bit no-frills.  Recipe for success?  I guess so.  This particular board and CPU were running in a homebuilt server for around 10 years until it was replaced.  I guess it was money well spent.

Source: Asus
Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: ASUS
Tagged: video, pq321q, PQ321, asus, 4k

Some more 4K love!

This morning Fedex dropped off a new product at our offices, one that I was very eagerly awaiting: the ASUS PQ321Q 31.5-in 4K 60 Hz monitor!

pq321-1.jpg

While we are far from ready to post a full review of the display and have lots of more game testing to get to, we did host a live stream for the unboxing and initial testing of the PQ321Q that I think is worth sharing.

In this video we do a walk around the $3500 4K display, hook it up to both NVIDIA and AMD test bed at 60 Hz and then proceed to install 3-Way SLI Titans to see how it games!  Enjoy this quick preview before our full review of the ASUS PQ321Q.

UPDATE: This display is now available for purchase if you want to shell out the $3500!

Just Delivered: The Latest Midrange to High End NVIDIA Graphics Cards from ASUS

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 10, 2013 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: Overclocked, nvidia, just delivered, gtx 780, gtx 770, gtx 760, GTX 670 Mini, DirectCU II, DCII, asus

Returning home on Monday, I was greeted by several (slightly wet) boxes from Asus.  Happily, the rainstorm that made these boxes a bit damp did not last long, and the wetness was only superficial.  The contents were perfectly fine.  I was pleased by this, but not particularly pleased with FedEx for leaving them in a spot where they got wet.  All complaints aside, I was obviously ecstatic to get the boxes.

asus_jd_01.jpg

Quite the lineup.  The new packaging is sharp looking and clearly defines the contents.

Inside these boxes are some of the latest and greatest video cards from Asus.  Having just finished up a budget roundup, I had the bandwidth available to tackle a much more complex task.  Asus sent four cards for our testing procedures, and I intend to go over them with a fine toothed comb.

The smallest of the bunch is the new GTX 670 DC Mini.  Asus did some serious custom work to not only get the card as small as it is, but also to redesign the power delivery system so that the chip only requires a single 8 pin PCI-E power connection.  Most GTX 670 boards require 2 x 6 pin connectors which would come out to be around 225 watts delivered, but a single 8 pin would give around 175 watts total.  This is skirting the edge of the official draw for the GTX 670, but with the GK104 chip being as mature as it is, there is some extra leeway involved.  The cooler is quite compact and apparently pretty quiet.  This is aimed at the small form factor crowd who do not want/need a overly large card, but still require a lot of performance.  While the GTX 700 series is now hitting the streets, there is still a market for this particular card.  Oh, and it is also overclocked for good measure!

asus_jd_02.jpg

We see a nice progression from big to little.  It is amazing how small the GTX 670 DC Mini is compared to the rest, and it will be quite interesting to see how it compares to the GTX 760 in testing.

The second card is the newly released GTX 760 DCII OC.  This is again based on the tried and true GK104 chip, but has several units disabled.  It has 1152 CUDA cores, but retains the same number of ROPS as the fully enabled chips.  It also features the full 256 bit memory bus running at 6 Gbps.  It has plenty of bandwidth to provide the card in most circumstances considering the amount of functional units enabled.  The cooler is one of the new DirectCU II designs and is a nice upgrade in both functionality and looks from the previous DCII models.  It is a smaller card than one would expect, but that comes from the need to simplify the card and not overbuild it like the higher priced 770 and 780 cards.  As I have mentioned before, I really like the budget and midrange cards.  This should be a really fascinating card to test.

The next card is a bit of an odd bird.  The GTX 770 DCII OC is essentially a slightly higher clocked GTX 680 from yesteryear.  One of the big changes is that this particular model foregoes the triple slot cooler of the previous generation and implements a dual slot cooler that is quite heavy and with a good fin density.  It features six pin and eight pin power connections so it has some legs for overclocking.  The back plate is there for stability and protection, and it gives the board a very nice, solid feel.  Asus added two LEDs by the power connections which show if the card is receiving power or not.  This is nice, as the fans on this card are very silent in most situations.  Nobody wants to unplug a video card that is powered up.  It retains the previous generation DCII styling, but the cooler performance is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  It also is less expensive than the previous GTX 680, but is faster.

asus_jd_03.jpg

All of the cards sport dual DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI outputs.  Both DVI ports are dual-link, but only one is DVI-I which can also output a VGA signal with the proper adapter.

Finally we have the big daddy of the GTX 700 series.  The 780 DCII OC is pretty much a monster card that exceeds every other offering out there, except the $1K GTX Titan.  It is a slightly cut down chip as compared to the mighty Titan, but it still packs in 2304 CUDA cores.  It retains the 384 bit memory bus and runs at a brisk 6 Gbps for a whopping 288.4 GB/sec of bandwidth.  The core is overclocked to a base of 889 MHz and boosts up to 941 MHz.  The cooler on this is massive.  It features a brand new fan design for the front unit which apparently can really move the air and do so quietly.  Oddly enough, this fan made its debut appearance on the aforementioned GTX 670 DC Mini.  The PCB on the GTX 780 DCII OC is non-reference.  It features a new power delivery system that should keep this board humming when overclocked.  Asus has done their usual magic in pairing the design with high quality components which should ensure a long lifespan for this pretty expensive board.

asus_jd_04.jpg

I do like the protective plates on the backs of the bigger cards, but the rear portion of the two smaller cards are interesting as well.  We will delve more into the "Direct Power" functionality in the full review.

I am already well into testing these units and hope to have the full roundup late next week.  These are really neat cards and any consumer looking to buy a new one should certainly check out the review once it is complete.

asus_jd_05.jpg

Asus has gone past the "Superpipe" stage with the GTX 780.  That is a 10 mm heatpipe we are seeing.  All of the DCII series coolers are robust, and even the DC Mini can dissipate a lot of heat.

Source: Asus
Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

The GPU Midrange Gets a Kick

I like budget video cards.  They hold a soft spot in my heart.  I think the primary reason for this is that I too was once a poor college student and could not afford the really expensive cards.  Ok, so this was maybe a few more years ago than I like to admit.  Back when the Matrox Millennium was very expensive, I ended up getting the STB Lightspeed 128 instead.  Instead of the 12 MB Voodoo 2 I went for the 8 MB version.  I was never terribly fond of paying top dollar for a little extra performance.  I am still not fond of it either.

The sub-$200 range is a bit of a sweet spot that is very tightly packed with products.  These products typically perform in the range of a high end card from 3 years ago, yet still encompass the latest features of the top end products from their respective companies.  These products can be overclocked by end users to attain performance approaching cards in the $200 to $250 range.  Mind, there are some specific limitations to the amount of performance one can actually achieve with these cards.  Still, what a user actually gets is very fair when considering the price.

budg_01.jpg

Today I cover several flavors of cards from three different manufacturers that are based on the AMD HD 7790 and the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti BOOST chips.  These range in price from $129 to $179.  The features on these cards are amazingly varied, and there are no “sticker edition” parts to be seen here.  Each card is unique in its design and the cooling strategies are also quite distinct.  Users should not expect to drive monitors above 1920x1200, much less triple monitors in Surround and Eyefinity.

Now let us quickly go over the respective chips that these cards are based on.

Click here to read the entire article!