CES 2015: ASUS Strix Tactic Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and Strix Claw Mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Strix Tactic Pro, Strix Claw, strix, mechnical keyboard, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, Cherry MX, ces 2015, CES, asus

The new Strix Tactic Pro is a mechanical gaming keyboard designed for durability, and it looks the part.

ASUS_Strix_Tactic_Pro.png

Since switches obviously matter the Tactic pro will be available with a choice of black, blue, brown, or red Cherry MX switches. ASUS states that the keyboard “employs the highest-specification N-Key Rollover (NKRO) technology over USB and has 13 dedicated, easy-to-reach macro keys for fast and hassle-free command customization”. The F1 - F8 keys can also be reprogrammed for a total of 21 macro keys if you need them.

ASUS_Strix_Claw.png

ASUS is also showing their Strix Claw gaming mouse, which features “right-handed ergonomics” (sorry, lefties), Japanese-made Omron D2F-01F switches, a “gaming-tuned” 5000 DPI high-precision optical sensor (adjustable), true 1:1 movement with angle-snap-free capability, and 3 independently programmable buttons.

The Strix Claw is already up on Amazon but no word yet on availability/pricing of the Tactic Pro keyboard, though it is listed on the ASUS site.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: ASUS

CES 2015: ASUS Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: strix, gaming headset, ces 2015, CES, asus, 7.1 headset

The Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset is on display at CES, and the "true" in the name isn't just marketing.

ASUS_Strix71.png

This gaming headset actually features 10 neodymium magnets and volume controls for each channel. This multi-drive mania promises "lifelike, immersive audio" and considering we're talking about 20 discrete drivers I have no reason to doubt these have that capability.

ASUS_Strix71_Station.png

The headset's control also works as a USB sound card with in-game audio control

The Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset also features static and breathing lighting effects, environmental noise cancellation, and multiple sound profiles.


Specifications:

  • 10 neodymium magnets and volume controls for each channel
  • Plug-and-play USB audio station
  • Static and breathing lighting effects
  • 90% environmental noise cancellation
  • 4 game-audio spectrum profiles for first-person shooter (FPS), racing, and action/role-playing games (RPG)
  • 110mm protein leather cushions: Highly breathable material is perfect for long gaming sessions
  • Foldable ear cups: Travel-friendly design lets you game anywhere

ASUS_Strix71_Flat.png

Owl stuff is so in right now

The product page is up on the ASUS site, but no official word on pricing or availability just yet.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: ASUS

CES 2015: We Just Spotted the ASUS PG27AQ 4K 60 Hz IPS G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: pg27aq, ips, gsync, g-sync, ces 2015, CES, asus, 60hz, 4k

Sure, the ASUS press conference hasn't started yet, but we did find a new monitor on display in the lobby. The ASUS PG27AQ is a 27-in monitor with a 4K resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Even better is that this is an IPS panel and utilizes NVIDIA G-Sync technology. That's right, a real-life IPS G-Sync monitor!

pg27rq-1.jpg

I don't have many other details yet but I was told that pricing is not set and availability would be in the "second half of 2015." The physical construction is identical to that of the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q. Unfortunately ASUS was only playing back a 4K video on the system, no real-world G-Sync testing quite yet. The ASUS press event starts in just about 45 minutes so stay tuned!

pg27rq-2.jpg

So, who's interested?

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Podcast #331 - Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, LG, Intel, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, drobo, bitfenix, asus, amd, acer, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #331 - 12/31/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo 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, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:54:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
      1. Ken is an idiot, don't try to use the Hyper 212 Evo in the Air 240.
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. Graphics Card of 2014
      1. GTX 980
      2. Winner: GTX 970
      3. R9 285
      4. GTX TITAN Z (lulz)
      5. R9 295 X2
      6. Runner-up: GTX 750 Ti
    2. CPU of 2014
      1. Winner: Core i7-4790K
      2. Pentium G3258
      3. Core i7-5960X
      4. Core M 5Y70 (Broadwell-Y)
      5. AMD AM1 Athlon 5350
      6. AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
      7. Tegra K1
      8. Runner-up: Athlon X4 860K
    3. Storage of 2014
      1. Samsung 850 Pro
      2. Winner: Samsung 850 EVO
      3. Crucial MX100
      4. Runner-up: Intel P3700
      5. 6TB HDDs
      6. Intel SSD 730 Series
      7. Silicon Motion SM2246EN (Force LX, Angelbird ssd wrk, Adata 610)
    4. Case of 2014
      1. Winner: NCASE M1
      2. Runner-up: Corsair Carbide Air 240
      3. Fractal Design Define R5
      4. SilverStone Raven RVZ01
      5. PHT Ultra Low-Profile HTPC Case
    5. Motherboard of 2014
      1. Runner-up: ASUS Crossblade Ranger FM2+
      2. ASUS Z97 Deluxe
      3. Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Black Edition
      4. X99 Deluxe
      5. Winner: Z97 Maximus VII Formula
    6. Price Drop of 2014
      1. Winner: AMD R9 290X/290
      2. R9 295 X2
      3. Good Displays
      4. GTX Titan Z (lulz)
      5. Runner-up: SSDs (again)
      6. Gasoline
    7. Best Trend of 2014
      1. Variable Refresh Rate Monitors / Tear-free Gaming
      2. Smart Watches
      3. Runner-up: PCIe/NVMe storage
      4. Gigabit Internet
      5. Custom Watercooling
      6. Winner: 21:9 Monitors
    8. Worst Trend of 2014
      1. Smart Watches
      2. Locked GPU Voltages
      3. DDR4
      4. Winner: 840 Evo Performance Issues
      5. Runner-up: G-SYNC Monitor prices
      6. Curved Displays
      7. GPU Mining BitCoins
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

/p>

Podcast #329 - Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: z97, video, Samsung, podcast, plex, nzxt, Maximus VII Impact, h440 razer, h440, FM2+, crossblade ranger, catalyst omega, asus, amd, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #329 - 12/11/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer 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, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

 

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Asus

A Step Up for FM2+

I have been impressed by the Asus ROG boards for quite a few years now.  I believe my first encounter was with the Crosshair IV Formula, followed by the CH IV Extreme with that crazy Lucidlogix controller.  These were really outstanding boards at the time, even if one was completely overkill (and not terribly useful for multi-GPU via Lucidlogix).  Build quality, component selections, stability, and top notch features have defined these ROG products.  The Intel side is just as good, if not better, in that they have a wider selection of boards under the ROG flag.

cbr_01.jpg

Asus has had a fairly large hole in their offerings that had not been addressed until fairly recently.  The latest AMD APUs based on FM1, FM2, and FM2+ did not have their own ROG member.  This was fixed in late summer of this year.  Asus released the interestingly named Crossblade Ranger FM2+ motherboard for the AMD APU market.

FM2+ motherboards are, as a rule, fairly inexpensive products.  The FM2+ infrastructure does not have to support processors with the 219 watt TDPs that AM3+ does, instead all of the FM2+ based products are 100 watts TDP and below.  There are many examples of barebones motherboards for FM2+ that are $80 and less.  We have a smattering of higher end motherboards from guys like Gigabyte and MSI, but these are hitting max prices of $110 to $120 US.  Asus is offering users in the FM2+ market something a little different from the rest.  Users who purchase an AMD APU will be getting much the same overall experience that the top end Intel based ROG customers if they decide to buy the Crossblade Ranger, but for a much lower price.

cbr_02.jpg

The bundle is functional, but not overly impressive.

Click here to read the entire Asus Crossblade Ranger Review!

 

Podcast #328 - G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, flickering, ROG Swift, pg278q, in win, d-frame mini, fractal, define r5 silent, nvidia, amd, Intel, asus, gtx 970 DirectCU Mini, msi, 970 Gaming

PC Perspective Podcast #328 - 12/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Maximus VII Impact motherboard is among ASUS' ROG (Republic of Gamers) board offerings in their Intel Z97 Express product line. The board builds on the strengths of its predecessor with the a similar layout and add-in card design implementation. ASUS augmented the new version of the board with an updated chipset and as well as additional support for the latest hard drive and audio technologies. The Maximus VII Impact has a premium price of $239.99 for its small status, but come packed full for features and power to more than justify the cost.

03-board-flyapart.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

04-board-pwr.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

05-board-audio.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS did not pull any punches in designing the Maximus VII Impact board, integrating a similar 8-phase digital power system as found on the Maximus VII Formula ATX board. The power system combines 60A-rated BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETs with a 90% efficiency rating, and 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors onto an upright board to minimize the footprint of those components. Additionally, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX Impact II audio system for superior audio fidelity using the included SupremeVX Impact II add-in card.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Maximus VII Impact motherboard!

Manufacturer: PC Percpective

Overview

We’ve been tracking NVIDIA’s G-Sync for quite a while now. The comments section on Ryan’s initial article erupted with questions, and many of those were answered in a follow-on interview with NVIDIA’s Tom Petersen. The idea was radical – do away with the traditional fixed refresh rate and only send a new frame to the display when it has just completed rendering by the GPU. There are many benefits here, but the short version is that you get the low-latency benefit of V-SYNC OFF gaming combined with the image quality (lack of tearing) that you would see if V-SYNC was ON. Despite the many benefits, there are some potential disadvantages that come from attempting to drive an LCD panel at varying periods of time, as opposed to the fixed intervals that have been the norm for over a decade.

IMG_9328.JPG

As the first round of samples came to us for review, the current leader appeared to be the ASUS ROG Swift. A G-Sync 144 Hz display at 1440P was sure to appeal to gamers who wanted faster response than the 4K 60 Hz G-Sync alternative was capable of. Due to what seemed to be large consumer demand, it has taken some time to get these panels into the hands of consumers. As our Storage Editor, I decided it was time to upgrade my home system, placed a pre-order, and waited with anticipation of finally being able to shift from my trusty Dell 3007WFP-HC to a large panel that can handle >2x the FPS.

Fast forward to last week. My pair of ROG Swifts arrived, and some other folks I knew had also received theirs. Before I could set mine up and get some quality gaming time in, my bro FifthDread and his wife both noted a very obvious flicker on their Swifts within the first few minutes of hooking them up. They reported the flicker during game loading screens and mid-game during background content loading occurring in some RTS titles. Prior to hearing from them, the most I had seen were some conflicting and contradictory reports on various forums (not limed to the Swift, though that is the earliest panel and would therefore see the majority of early reports), but now we had something more solid to go on. That night I fired up my own Swift and immediately got to doing what I do best – trying to break things. We have reproduced the issue and intend to demonstrate it in a measurable way, mostly to put some actual data out there to go along with those trying to describe something that is borderline perceptible for mere fractions of a second.

screen refresh rate-.png

First a bit of misnomer correction / foundation laying:

  • The ‘Screen refresh rate’ option you see in Windows Display Properties is actually a carryover from the CRT days. In terms of an LCD, it is the maximum rate at which a frame is output to the display. It is not representative of the frequency at which the LCD panel itself is refreshed by the display logic.
  • LCD panel pixels are periodically updated by a scan, typically from top to bottom. Newer / higher quality panels repeat this process at a rate higher than 60 Hz in order to reduce the ‘rolling shutter’ effect seen when panning scenes or windows across the screen.
  • In order to engineer faster responding pixels, manufacturers must deal with the side effect of faster pixel decay between refreshes. This is a balanced by increasing the frequency of scanning out to the panel.
  • The effect we are going to cover here has nothing to do with motion blur, LightBoost, backlight PWM, LightBoost combined with G-Sync (not currently a thing, even though Blur Busters has theorized on how it could work, their method would not work with how G-Sync is actually implemented today).

With all of that out of the way, let’s tackle what folks out there may be seeing on their own variable refresh rate displays. Based on our testing so far, the flicker only presented at times when a game enters a 'stalled' state. These are periods where you would see a split-second freeze in the action, like during a background level load during game play in some titles. It also appears during some game level load screens, but as those are normally static scenes, they would have gone unnoticed on fixed refresh rate panels. Since we were absolutely able to see that something was happening, we wanted to be able to catch it in the act and measure it, so we rooted around the lab and put together some gear to do so. It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but we only needed to observe differences between the smooth gaming and the ‘stalled state’ where the flicker was readily observable. Once the solder dust settled, we fired up a game that we knew could instantaneously swing from a high FPS (144) to a stalled state (0 FPS) and back again. As it turns out, EVE Online does this exact thing while taking an in-game screen shot, so we used that for our initial testing. Here’s what the brightness of a small segment of the ROG Swift does during this very event:

eve ss-2-.png

Measured panel section brightness over time during a 'stall' event. Click to enlarge.

The relatively small ripple to the left and right of center demonstrate the panel output at just under 144 FPS. Panel redraw is in sync with the frames coming from the GPU at this rate. The center section, however, represents what takes place when the input from the GPU suddenly drops to zero. In the above case, the game briefly stalled, then resumed a few frames at 144, then stalled again for a much longer period of time. Completely stopping the panel refresh would result in all TN pixels bleeding towards white, so G-Sync has a built-in failsafe to prevent this by forcing a redraw every ~33 msec. What you are seeing are the pixels intermittently bleeding towards white and periodically being pulled back down to the appropriate brightness by a scan. The low latency panel used in the ROG Swift does this all of the time, but it is less noticeable at 144, as you can see on the left and right edges of the graph. An additional thing that’s happening here is an apparent rise in average brightness during the event. We are still researching the cause of this on our end, but this brightness increase certainly helps to draw attention to the flicker event, making it even more perceptible to those who might have not otherwise noticed it.

Some of you might be wondering why this same effect is not seen when a game drops to 30 FPS (or even lower) during the course of normal game play. While the original G-Sync upgrade kit implementation simply waited until 33 msec had passed until forcing an additional redraw, this introduced judder from 25-30 FPS. Based on our observations and testing, it appears that NVIDIA has corrected this in the retail G-Sync panels with an algorithm that intelligently re-scans at even multiples of the input frame rate in order to keep the redraw rate relatively high, and therefore keeping flicker imperceptible – even at very low continuous frame rates.

A few final points before we go:

  • This is not limited to the ROG Swift. All variable refresh panels we have tested (including 4K) see this effect to a more or less degree than reported here. Again, this only occurs when games instantaneously drop to 0 FPS, and not when those games dip into low frame rates in a continuous fashion.
  • The effect is less perceptible (both visually and with recorded data) at lower maximum refresh rate settings.
  • The effect is not present at fixed refresh rates (G-Sync disabled or with non G-Sync panels).

This post was primarily meant as a status update and to serve as something for G-Sync users to point to when attempting to explain the flicker they are perceiving. We will continue researching, collecting data, and coordinating with NVIDIA on this issue, and will report back once we have more to discuss.

During the research and drafting of this piece, we reached out to and worked with NVIDIA to discuss this issue. Here is their statement:

"All LCD pixel values relax after refreshing. As a result, the brightness value that is set during the LCD’s scanline update slowly relaxes until the next refresh.

This means all LCDs have some slight variation in brightness. In this case, lower frequency refreshes will appear slightly brighter than high frequency refreshes by 1 – 2%.

When games are running normally (i.e., not waiting at a load screen, nor a screen capture) - users will never see this slight variation in brightness value. In the rare cases where frame rates can plummet to very low levels, there is a very slight brightness variation (barely perceptible to the human eye), which disappears when normal operation resumes."

So there you have it. It's basically down to the physics of how an LCD panel works at varying refresh rates. While I agree that it is a rare occurrence, there are some games that present this scenario more frequently (and noticeably) than others. If you've noticed this effect in some games more than others, let us know in the comments section below. 

(Editor's Note: We are continuing to work with NVIDIA on this issue and hope to find a way to alleviate the flickering with either a hardware or software change in the future.)

ASUS Announces GeForce GTX 970 DirectCU Mini: More Mini-ITX Gaming Goodness

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2014 - 09:57 AM |
Tagged: pcie, PCI Express, nvidia, mini-itx, GTX 970, graphics card, geforce, directcu mini, DirectCU, asus

ASUS has announced a tiny new addition to their GTX 970 family, and it will be their most powerful mini-ITX friendly card yet with a full GeForce GTX 970 GPU.

970_1.png

Image credit: ASUS

The ASUS 970 DirectCU Mini card will feature a modest factory overclock on the GTX 970 core running at 1088 MHz (stock 1050 MHz) with a 1228 MHz Boost Clock (stock 1178 MHz). Memory is not overclocked and remains at the stock 7 GHz speed.

970_2.png

The GTX 970 DirectCU Mini features a full backplate. Image credit: ASUS

The ASUS GTX 970 DirectCU Mini uses a single 8-pin PCIe power connector in place of the standard dual 6-pin configuration, which shouldn’t be a problem considering the 150W spec of the larger connector (and 145W NVIDIA spec of the 970).

970_3.png

Part of this complete mITX gaming breakfast. Image credit: ASUS

The tiny card offers a full array of display outputs including a pair of dual-link DVI connectors, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2. No word yet on pricing or availability, but the product page is up on the ASUS site.