Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2013 - 02:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: H87, zotac, haswell, mini-itx, mini ITX, 802.11n, msata
Zotac has announced a new H87ITX-A-E motherboard, which is a mini-ITX form factor board for Intel's latest generation "Haswell" 4th Generation Core processors. The board is designed for small form factor systems and should enable some low power PCs for HTPC, DVR, home server and desktop tasks.
The board has a unique layout. Zotac has placed four SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA (6Gbps) connector, and hte PCH at the top of the board where the CPU socket would traditionally be. The LGA 1150 CPU socket sits just above the single PCI-E x 16 slot and between the VRMs and two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB RAM). There are also headers for four additional USB 2.0 ports and two additional USB 3.0 ports. Zotac is bundling a pre-installed 802.11n Wi-Fi card in the Mini-PCI-E slot.
The Zotac H87 Mini ITX Wi-Fi series board has robust IO that includes:
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x DVI
The Mini-ITX motherboard appears to be available in Japan via Amazon's Japanese site, but US pricing and availability are still unkown. From the specifications though, it looks like a capable motherboard that is worth keeping an eye on. If the price translation is accurate, the board may be around $150 when it hits US shores, though that is not the official MSRP (which could change).
Subject: Mobile | June 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, Samsung, office 2013, haswell, atom z2760, ativ tab 3, ativ q, ativ, android 4.2.2
Late last week, Samsung announced new hardware at an event in London. Among the products shown off, Samsung unveiled the 10.1" ATIV Tab 3 and the 13.3" ATIV Q Convertible notebook. Both machines are x86-64 and run the full version of Windows 8.
Samsung ATIV Q
The ATIV Q is the premium device, with Intel's latest Haswell processor, a high resolution display on a unique sliding hinge design, and a thin ultra-portable form factor. The 13" convertible notebook is 14mm thick and weighs about 2.8 pounds. The system features an impressive 13" touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 (275 PPI) and 178-degree viewing angles.
The ATIV Q has a unique sliding hinge design that allows the display to lay flat in slate tablet mode, held above the keyboard parallel to the keyboard, and in laptop mode with the display snapped to the top of the keyboard and at an angle. The display further supports the company's S-Pen stylus. In order to maintain the 14mm thick figure, Samsung has packed the processor and some of the other internals into the display hinge rather than the traditional placement in the laptop's base (under the keyboard). The hinge also hosts USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports. Here's hoping the build quality is good and the hinge is sturdy as having the internals packed into the hinge is a risky proposition.
Other IO (located around the laptop's base) includes USB, power, and Ethernet jacks. Note that the ATIV Q does not have a touch pad. Users will need to use the eraser point or the touchscreen to navigate.
Internally, the ATIV Q features an Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a battery that is reportedly capable of delivery 9 hours of normal usage. The integrated HD 4400 graphics will not get you much, but it is just barely enough to run older games at around 30 FPS at 1280 x 1024 and reduced quality settings according to reviews of systems with similar specs around the net.
On the software side of things, the ATIV Q runs the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Samsung is also bundling the PC with a virtualized installation of Android 4.2.2 that runs on top of -- and can share files with -- Windows 8. Users can access and run traditional Windows applications, Windows 8 (Metro/Modern UI/Whatever It is Called This Week) apps, and applications from the Google Play store. The WIndows 8 and Android OSes further share folders such that files can be shared between them. Application shortcuts for the Android apps can also reportedly be linked to from the Windows 8 Start Screen.
ATIV Tab 3
The ATIV Tab 3 was also announced at the Samsung event in London. This device is a 10.1" tablet measuring 8.2mm thick and weighing 550g (approximately 1.21 lbs). It is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The 10.1" display has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Samsung is reportedly including a battery rated at 10 hours of usage. The system supports microSD cards for expansion, which is good because there is not going to be much storage space left for user-space files after the OS and bundled programs.
The ATIV Tab 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8 and the full version of Microsoft Office 2013.
Pricing and availability for the two new ATIV tablets has not yet been announced. The Q is a tablet to watch out of for though. So long as the build quality is there, I think it will be popular with those fans of convertible notebooks (of which I am one).
Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: haswell, linux
With the initial difficulties seen with Linux crossing Intel's Bridges it is nice to see decent compatibility from Haswell at launch. While the GPU side does lag somewhat behind the performance offered by the Windows driver it is nowhere near as far behind as in the previous architectures. For raw CPU calculations it is running at peak performance on newer Linux kernels, offering not only a decent upgrade but significantly improved power efficiency. Phoronix have gathered their various reviews to give you a look at the current overall compatibility of Haswell as well as performance results in their latest post.
"Since the Computex launch of Intel's much anticipated Haswell processors at the beginning of the month, there's been much Linux coverage on Phoronix concerning the compatibility and performance of these new Intel processors from both the processing and graphics sides. Here's a summary of all of our discoveries and findings over the past few weeks."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 136: A whole heap of AMD news
- TSMC reaches deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips, sources claim @ DigiTimes
- Raspberry Pi Bitcoin miner @ Hack a Day
- Walkera QR Ladybird V2 RTF Micro Quadcopter @ Metku.net
- ModSynergy 10-Year Celebration Contest: USA-International Edition @ ModSynergy
- Red Bull Training Grounds Santa Monica - StarCraft II Tournament @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2013 - 12:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, u430 touch, u330 touch, sshd, Lenovo, haswell
Lenovo recently unveiled a n umber of new laptops and tablets running Microsoft's latest touch-friendly operating system. New devices include the Lenovo Mix convertible tablet, three new S-series laptops, and two new U-series ultrabooks.
The Lenovo Mix is the company's latest convertible. Primarily a tablet, the 10.1" device comes with a detachable AccuType keyboard case. It weighs 1.2 pounds and is a mere 0.4" thick.
Boasting a 10 hour battery life, the Lenovo Mix features a dual core Intel Atom processor, 64GB internal flash storage, microSD card support, and Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and (optional) 3G+GPS radios. The main attraction is a 10.1" IPS display with a resolution of 1366x768.
The Lenovo Mix will be available later this summer with a starting price of $500.
Lenovo S210, S400, and S500
In addition to the convertible tablet, Lenovo is also releasing three new S-series laptops. These new Windows 8 machines start at 3 pounds and 0.8" thick. They all feature a "tactile metallic finish," Dolby Advanced Audio v2 certification, and pre-installed Lenovo software such as Lenovo Companion, Lenovo Support, Lenovo Cloud.
The Lenovo S210 is a 11.6" laptop that supports Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i3 processors. Moving up from there, the Lenovo S400 is a 14" laptop and the S500 is a 15.6" laptop. Both the S400 and S500 support Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors and discrete NVIDIA graphics.
All three Lenovo S-series laptops will be available for purchase later this summer. The laptops have a starting price of $429 for the S210, $499 for the S400, and $579 for the S500.
Lenovo U330 Touch and U430 Touch
Lenovo is also releasing two new ultrabook-class ultra-portable laptops. The Lenovo U330 is a 13.3" machine and the Lenovo U430 is a 14" thin-and-light. The laptops use a metal chassis, start at 3.7 pounds and 0.74" thick. Users will be able to interact with the ultrabook using voice or motion controls as well as the multi-touch touchpad and 10-point capacitive multi-touch display.
The Lenovo U330 is a 13.3" ultrabook that measures 12.7" x 8.8" x 0.74" and weighs 3.7 pounds. Display options include 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 displays. Lenovo is providing the option of a 10-point multi-touch add-on for the display. Hardware specifications include an Intel Core i3-4010U or a Core i5-4200U CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 42 Whr battery. Storage options include a 500GB or 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB of flash storage as cache, or a single 256GB SSD.
The Lenovo U330 Touch will be available in orange or gray later this summer with a starting MSRP of $799.
Meanwhile, the Lenovo U430 Touch is a larger machine that measures 13.2" x 9.2" x 0.81" and weighs 4.2 pounds. This machine comes with a 14" 1600 x 900 or 1920 x 1080p display with 10-point multi-touch panel option. The ultrabook is powered by Intel's Fourth Generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, optional NVIDIA discrete graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 52 Whr battery. Storage options include a 1TB or 500GB SSHD with 16GB cache or a single 256GB SSD.
IO options on the laptop include HDMI video outputs, USB 3.0 ports, and a SD card reader.
The U430 Touch will be available later this summer with a starting price of $899.
All this new hardware is a lot to take in, but overall the specifications look good.
Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Subject: Systems | June 20, 2013 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hwlb, Richland, haswell
It has been quite a long time since we have seen new processors on the HWLB, Ivy Bridge has enjoyed a long reign as the most powerful consumer chip for high end and mid-range machines and the A10 -5800K Trinity has been on the Low End machine since its initial release. All three system recommendations have now change with the release of Haswell and Richland.
Starting with the most affordable machine, the $455 Low End machine is now powered by the brand new AMD A8-6600K Richland, not the fast chip but a good compromise if you insist on picking up a discrete GPU for hybrid Crossfire. If you skip that GPU you can opt to spend $30 for the A10-6800K and reduce the total cost of the system by $35. MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 motherboard will provide a stable platform to run on but please update the BIOS to take full advantage of Richland's new features.
The Mid-Range system has moved up to Haswell, perhaps not a great upgrade from an existing Ivy Bridge system but perfect for a new build. The i5-4670K is the lowest priced unlocked chip from Intel, a good choice considering the lockdown on overclocking on the non-K parts. MSI's Z87-G43 was chosen for the flexibility of output ports but it does only sport a single 16x PCIe slot, if you expect to upgrade to a system with dual GPUs the 4670K would be a bottleneck and you are better off saving your pennies for the High End system. Also new is the XFX Double D HD 7870 GHz and Block Edition which sports a custom cooling solution to go with its hefty factory overclock. This system offers you a lot of ways to tweak performance and if you are just starting to dabble in overclocking this system would be a great place to start.
Intel has finally dethroned the i7-3770K which lasted longer than just about any other part has on the HWLB, the new i7-4770K is now available with the wide variety of new features offered by Haswell. The chip also needs a new home and the very impressive, and golden, ASUS Z87-EXPERT is perfect for this chip as it sports a huge amount of SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and audio ports along with PCIe 16x and Thunderbolt. Also new this month is NVIDIA's GTX770 which will offer you all the performance of the GTX680 but at the same price as the previous pick, the GTX 670.
The Dream system remains mostly unchanged for now, Ivy Bridge E just offers more power for the truly extreme user. Keep your eye out for updates though, there are more releases scheduled this year that could make it onto the PCPer HWLB!
Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.
Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.
While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.
Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.
In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.
From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | June 20, 2013 - 12:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, gtx 650, giada
Giada Technology has launched a new small form factor desktop PC with its upcoming D2308. The successor to the Giada D2305, the D2308 is a tiny PC that can be used for a variety of workloads. The mini PC, with up to a 70W system TDP, features an Intel "Haswell" processor and a discrete NVIDIA GPU (most likely mobile parts), which makes it a fairly powerful machine for the size!
The D2308 is enclosed in a black chassis with curved edges. Three Wi-Fi antennas stick up from the back of the PC. It looks rather like a home router or the mintBox PC, actually.
Internally, the Giada D2308 uses an Intel Core-i5 or Core i7 Fourth Generation Core CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 650 GPU with 1GB of video memory, up to 16GB DDR3 memory (in two SODIMM slots), a Realtek ALC662 5.1 HD audio codec, TPM module support, and two mini-PCI-E connectors for things like wireless cards or storage drives. The SFF PC can also accommodate a single 2.5" mechanical hard drive or SSD.
According to eTeknix, external IO includes two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, a SD card reader, two HDMI video outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and analog audio outputs. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
I have reached out to Giada for more information on the small form factor PC, but did not hear back from them in time for publication. I will update this post if the company responds to our questions. Although the D2308 is not a fan-less PC, it appears to have good hardware and would do well at a variety of HTPC, desktop, or office PC tasks.
Update: A Giada PC representative responded to our request for more information to let us know that the SFF PC uses the fourth generation Core i5/i7 processors and HM87 chipset along with NVIDIA GTX 650 graphics. It should be available towards the end of July.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 19, 2013 - 04:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: haswell, c6, c7, power supply, evga
Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processors are now official, and additional power supply manufacturers have since stepped up to provide their own Haswell PSU compatibility lists. EVGA is the latest PSU vendor to do so, announcing that all of tits SuperNOVA branded units are fully compatible with the new CPUs and new C6 and C7 sleep states.
The following EVGA power supplies are compatible with Haswell and the lowest power (0.05A) sleep states:
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 1500 Classified (120-PG-1500-XR/VR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX750G Gold (120-PG-0750-GR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX750B Bronze (120-PB-0750-KR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA NEX650G Gold (120-PG-0650-GR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA 1300 G2 (120-G2-1300-XR)
- EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G2 (120-G2-1000-XR)
The list of compatible units spans across the range of SuperNOVA PSUs, from 650W to the monstrous 1500W model.
For a refresher on Haswell’s new C6 and C7 sleep states, check out our previous coverage of the issue as well as coverage of compatible PSUs from other vendors.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 17, 2013 - 08:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: haswell, Intel, Second Opinion
Ryan reviewed the Core i7 4770K earlier in the month and found it an impressive product. He was not able to properly test the CPU paired with a discrete GPU because of time restraints; we value results measured from direct monitor output, which takes longer than FRAPS and other software results. Still, Ryan believes that the boost in raw CPU performance justifies its existence in desktops without a funky "-E" tagged along for good luck.
For a second opinion, you could check NitroWare to see what a cynical Aussie thinks of Intel's latest offering. Of note, they compare software-measured frame rates between the on-chip GPU and those measured from a GTX 460 on Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell. He is nothing if not thorough, collecting his findings over 20 pages.
Ultimately he finds that if you are running Ivy Bridge, you will not benefit too much from the upgrade; Sandy Bridge users and earlier, on the other hand, might want to consider this platform... unless they are wanting to jump into the enthusiast-slot offerings coming up late this year and Haswell-E late the following year.
Also be sure to check back when we have our frametime measurements complete!