A second helping of Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi B+, DIY

Tinkerers and developers received a nice gift today, an updated Raspberry Pi B+ which adds extra I/O to the existing platform which will allow you more functionality without needed to relearn how to program it.  The Broadcom BC2835 SoC is still present and still overclockable along with the 512MB of onboard RAM and most important the $35 price tag remains.  What has change is the number of USB ports which have double to four, a click in MicroSD port and an increase in the GPIO header to 40 pin, though it remains backwards compatible with 26 pin by plugging in on the left hand side which means you have not lost the work you put into the previous Pi.  Check out the introductory video at The Inquirer and feast your eyes on the new board layout below.

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"Although it's not touted as Raspberry Pi Two, but rather "the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi", the firm has tailored the Model B+ to include all of the additions that Raspberry Pi users have requested."

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Source: The Inquirer

Roll your own Rift for half the price of retail

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2014 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: OpenVR, oculus rift, DIY

Owning an Oculus Rift is enough to make your gamer friends turn green with envy but what if it was an open sauce Rift you built yourself?  The specs for this build specifies two one 5.6″ 1280×800 LCDs which will give you resolution on par with the Facebook owned version and the casing is 3D printed which offers you a chance to personalize your own model.  The steps for setting up the hardware are available by following the link from Hack a Day as well as a link to the source code on GitHub.  The price is right and you not only get a working VR headset you get the credit for building it as well!

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"The Oculus Rift is a really cool piece of kit, but with its future held in the grasp of Facebook, who knows what it’ll become now. So why not just build your own? When the Oculus first came out [Ahmet] was instantly intrigued — he began researching virtual reality and the experience offered by the Oculus — but curiosity alone wasn’t enough for the $300 price tag."

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Source: Hack a Day

A quick project to give you all the USB chargers you could want

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: usb, charger, DIY

Over at Hack a Day is a guide on how to convert your old chargers for devices you no longer use into a useful charger with a USB plug.  They will need to be of the 5V variety and provide at least 500 mA in order to be useful with today's gadgets with 1A being preferable; don't go so high you are at risk of killing your device though.  Apple fanatics will have to do the usual modifications to convince their iThing to accept a charge but most other devices won't care if the charger is home made or not, they just want the USB.  Do try not to set yourself or any of your possessions on fire by not testing your charger thoroughly before leaving it unattended.

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"If you’re like us, you probably have a box (or more) of wall warts lurking in a closet or on a shelf somewhere. Depending on how long you’ve been collecting cell phones, that box is likely overflowing with 5V chargers: all with different connectors."

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Source: Hack a Day

A new way to recommend system builds

Subject: Systems | March 6, 2014 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: DIY, system build

The Tech Report have re-imagined their system build for this update, with what they describe as being more focused on the individual components as opposed to the entire build.  While they still provide different levels of machines, the Budget, Sweet Spot and and High End they spend more time explaining why a particular component was chosen and in some cases offer you a choice of multiple components.  Now the pages are set up to describe the components for each build as opposed to each build having a separate page.  Check out their new format and see what you think.

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"We've reworked our famous TR System Guide with a new, component-centric format, which tells readers not just which components to choose, but also how to choose them."

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Systems

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

Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 06:35 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
Manufacturer: NVIDIA G-SYNC

Introduction and Unboxing

Introduction:

We've been covering NVIDIA's new G-Sync tech for quite some time now, and displays so equipped are finally shipping. With all of the excitement going on, I became increasingly interested in the technology, especially since I'm one of those guys who is extremely sensitive to input lag and the inevitable image tearing that results from vsync-off gaming. Increased discussion on our weekly podcast, coupled with the inherent difficulty of demonstrating the effects without seeing G-Sync in action in-person, led me to pick up my own ASUS VG248QE panel for the purpose of this evaluation and review. We've generated plenty of other content revolving around the G-Sync tech itself, so lets get straight into what we're after today - evaluating the out of box installation process of the G-Sync installation kit.

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Unboxing:

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All items are well packed and protected.

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Included are installation instructions, a hard plastic spudger for opening the panel, a couple of stickers, and all necessary hardware bits to make the conversion.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

What is the Hardware Leaderboard

What is a Leaderboard?  If you have to ask you really haven't clicked on enough of the tabs at the top of PC Perspective!  The Leaderboard consists of four different systems, each with a price target and are updated monthly.   They start with the ~$500 budget system which is for general family or dorm usage but not for heavy gaming usage, though it can certainly handle many online games without issue.  The Mid Range machine can be yours for around $1000 and packs enough power under the hood to handle productivity software and can give a console a run for its money when gaming.  Things start getting more serious when you look at the High End machine, even while keeping the price around $1500 you start to see serious performance that will show you why PC Gaming is still far more popular than some would have you believe.  Finally is the Dream Machine which doesn't have a specific price cap but is limited by a certain amount of common sense; you can slap four GPUs in the system but you really will not be getting a great return on your investment as the performance scaling does not continue to increase at a linear pace.

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You may notice several components missing from the HWLB and there is a reason for that.  Enclosures are a very personal choice for system builders and no ones desires are exactly the same.  Dremel owners with a good imagination want a case that is easily moddable while pet owners want washable filters on their systems.  Some may want a giant white case while others an unobtrusive and quiet enclosure and who can tell where you prefer your front panel connectors to be but you?  Cooling solutions are again a personal choice, do you plan on getting the biggest chunk of metal you can find with three 140mm fans strapped to it or were you thinking of using watercooling, either a self contained CPU cooler or a custom built cooling loop that incorporates multiple components?  The same applies to monitors with some gamers preferring to sacrifice colour quality and viewing angle for the refresh rates of a TN display while others have a need to pick up a professional quality display at over $1000 for when they are working.  Size is always personal; just how big can you fit in your place?  (Editor's note: we did include a couple of case recommendations in the build guide summary tables, in case you are interested though.)

So continue on to see the components that make up the current four builds of the Hardware Leaderboard.  Once you have all your components you can reference Ryan's videos covering the installation of the parts into the case of your choice as well as installing your OS and Steam so you can get right to gaming and surfing.

Jump straight to the Low End System Build Guide!!

A fresh new season of system recommendations

Subject: Systems | November 25, 2013 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: DIY, system build

It is once again time for The Tech Report to refresh their recommended system builds.  This is a perfect time to do it as we have recently seen the new generation of GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA.  Gamers looking to build a machine from scratch or to complete a partial upgrade can utilize these recommendations in addition to our HWLB.  Make sure to also check out the new mobile sidekicks section to get an idea of other hardware you might want to pick up as well.

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"We've updated our four staple builds to account for all of the latest hardware releases, including the arrival of new graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia."

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Systems

Build your own Pi in the sky; Raspberry flavoured clouds

Subject: General Tech | November 12, 2013 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, arkOS, cloud, DIY

Over at MAKE:Blog is an interesting little project for those looking for ideas on what to do with your Raspberry Pi.  Using arkOS, a lightweight Linux-based operating system specifically designed for hosting applications you can build your own private cloud without a huge investment of money.  Once you have the basics running, installing Jacob Cook's open-source Genesis application provides you a web based interface for running all your apps.  If you are relatively familiar with Linux and Raspberry it shouldn't take you that long to be fully functional. 

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"Twenty-three-year-old Jacob Cook is on a mission to help you create your own small piece of cloud on the internet, freeing you from other providers for services like file storage and sharing, web hosting, e-mail, calendars, music, and photos."

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Source: MAKE:Blog

Are you still lapping your heatsinks?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 4, 2013 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: lapping, heatsink, DIY

Back in the ancient past of aircooling, when heatsinks did not weigh a kilogram and 120mm fans were a novelty item and not the standard many enthusiasts practiced the art of lapping.  With a water tray and automotive grade sandpaper of increasingly fine grit you could not only flatten the base of the heatsink, something that was all too necessary for some models, you could also acheive a mirror finish which helped your heat paste spread evenly.  Today you do not hear much talk of lapping either heatsinks nor the integrated heatspreader on CPUs and SPCR decided to test if it remains a good practice.  Check out the difference a proper lapping job still makes, though keep in mind lapping the IHS on your CPU will void the warranty and could weaken its structure.

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Not what you want to see!

"Lapping the CPU in a heatsink test platform is probably a controversial move that's bound to provoke reactions. Funny thing is, it was done a year ago, and photos of the CPU showing the copper top exposed by the lapping have been featured in many of our reviews. Yet, not a single comment. This article goes through the problems, investigations and explorations that led us to lap our Core i7-965 Extreme test CPU, and analyzes the results and implications."

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CASES & COOLING