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 - 04:42 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: General Tech, Processors | June 18, 2013 - 12:11 AM | 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!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | June 15, 2013 - 11:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge-E, Haswell-E
In my analysis of the recent Intel Computex keynote, I noted that the displayed confidence came across more as repressing self-doubt. It did not seem, to me, like Intel wants to abandon the high-end enthusiast but rather catch up with their low performance and high efficiency competitors; they just know they are secure in that market. Of course, we could see mid-range choices dwindle and prices stagnate, but I cast doubt that Intel wants to exit the enthusiast market despite their silence about Ivy Bridge-E.
All Images, Credit: VR-Zone
And Intel, now, wants to return some confidence to their high-end consumers comma they are not slowing down exclamation point exclamation point.
VR-Zone, the site which published Ivy Bridge-E's lazy release roadmap, are also the ones to suggest Haswell-E will come before mainstream Broadwell offerings. Once again, all is right with the world. Slated for release around holiday 2014, just a year after Ivy Bridge-E, Haswell-E will come alongside the X99 chipset. Instead of Broadwell, the back to school window of 2014 will by filled by a refresh of 22nm Haswell products with a new 9-series chipset.
Seriously, it's like watching the face of Intel's Tick-Tock while a repairman is tweaking the gears.
In terms of specifications, Haswell-E will come in 8 and 6-core offerings with up to 20MB of cache. Apart from the inclusion of DDR4 support, the main advantage of Haswell-E over the upcoming Ivy Bridge-E is supposed to be raw performance; VR-Zone estimates up to 33-50% better computational strength. A depressingly novel area of improvement as of recent...
Lastly, with recent discussion of the awkwardly hobbled K-series parts, our readers might be happy to know that all Haswell-E parts will be unlocked to overclocking. This, again, leads me to believe that Intel is not hoping to suffocate the enthusiast market but rather sort their users: mid-range consumers will take what they are given and, if they object, send them on the bus to Funk-E town.
Note, while the headlining slide definitively says "All Processors Unlocked"...
... this slide says "For K and Extreme series products." I will assume the latter is out of date?
Which begs the question: what does our readers think about that potential strategy? It could lead to mainstream performance products being pushed down into BGA-territory, but cements the existence of an enthusiast platform.
Intel Prevents Overclocking of non-K Haswell Processors, and Strips Virtualization and TSX Features From K Parts
Subject: Processors | June 13, 2013 - 01:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tsx, overclocking, Intel, i7-4770k, haswell
First revealed at IDF Beijing, Intel's latest generation 4th Generation Core "Haswell" processors enjoy a refined architecture, improved processor graphics, an integrated voltage regulator (FIVR), and for the enthusiast crowd, new methods for overclocking.
In truth, the methods for overclocking Haswell are very similar to those used to overclock Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. However, Intel has further unlocked the new Haswell CPUs. Enthusiasts can set an overclocked Turbo clockspeed, use additional base clock (BCLK) values (100 MHz, 125 MHz, and 167 MHz), and overclock the unlocked processor graphics core clockspeed and memory clockspeed (memory in 200 MHz or 266 MHz steps). The additional BCLK values allow for easy overclocks without putting the other subsystems (such as the PCI-E bus, GPU, and memory) out of spec, which is important for the PCI-E bus which needs to be close to 100 MHz for a stable system.
The following PC Perspective articles have further information on overclocking unlocked "K" edition Haswell processors:
- Integrated Voltage Regulator and Overclocking Haswell - Ryan pushes a Core i7-4770K to 4.6GHz
- Intel Talks Haswell Overclocking at IDF Beijing - Intel outlines overclocking features of Haswell at IDF
Although Intel's overclocking reveal at IDF was fairly detailed, the company did not get into specifics on how overclocking would work on non-K chips.
On that note, the crew over at the Tech Report uncovered some rather disheartening facts such that the non-K edition Haswell processors will, essentially, be locked at stock speeds and not overclockable (they are slightly more locked down than previous generations).
While the K edition Haswell processors, such as the Core i7-4770K, will enjoy unlocked multipliers, unlocked GPU and memory clockspeeds, and additional BCLK options, the standard non-K chips (ie Core i7-4770, Core i5-4670, et al) will have locked multipliers, no Turbo Boost clockspeed overclocking, and will not be allowed to use the additional 125 MHz and 167 MHz BLCK options, which effectively makes overclocking these standard chips impossible. It may still be possible to push the BLCK up a few MHz, but without the extra
stepping and gearing ratio options, the other component clockspeeds based off that same base clock are going to go out of spec and will become unstable fairly quickly as you try to push that BLCK up.
There is one saving grace for enthusiasts considering a non-K part, however. The standard non-K CPUs will have Intel's latest TSX extensions and enterprise virtualization technologies enabled.
Although quite the head scratcher, Intel has decided to disable TSX, vPro, and VT-d on the unlocked K edition chips. The TSX extensions are not widely used yet, but will provide a noticeable performance boost to future programs that do take advantage of them by allowing developers to essentially mark off sections of code that can be run independently, and thus increase the multi-threaded-ness of the application by running as much code in parallel across multiple cores as possible. Further, the vPro and VT-d features are used by virtual machine applications (with VT-d being more relevant to the consumer side of things).
In short, Intel has continued to lock down and artificially limit its chips, as many enthusiasts suspected would happen. Standard non-K Haswell processors are more locked down than ever, and even the premium unlocked K CPUs suffer with the (odd) removal of TSX and virtualization support. As Mr. Gasior points out, enthusiasts are going to be faced with an odd choice where they can either spend extra money on a premium K part that will overclock but is limited in other ways, or go with the lower cost part that has all of the ISA extensions and virtualization support turned on... but is not overclockable.
In my opinion, locking down the standard chips is one thing-- Intel needs to incentivize enthusiasts to go with the more expensive (~$25 premium) unlocked K processors some how -- but if those same enthusiasts are spending extra money for a premium chip, they should get all the features the accompanying non-K SKU has as well as overclocking.
What do you think about the artificial limitations placed on the various Haswell SKUs?
Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2013 - 08:01 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, computex 2013, Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge, k900, Lenovo, baytrail, silvermont, ultrabook, acer, aspire s7
Intel had a host of new technologies to show off at Computex this year, starting of course with the Haswell processor launch. Hopefully you have read our review of the Core i7-4770K LGA1150 CPU already but thanks to some video sent our way, we have other interesting bits to share.
Below you will see Intel demonstrating four new products. First is the Acer Aspire S7 using a Haswell dual-core platform playing back 4K content. Next up is an Ivy Bridge tablet that is running completely fanless (passive) thus generating no noise at all while still offering impressive CPU and graphics performance. Intel then pulls a Lenovo K900 Android smartphone out of its pocket powered by the Clovertrail+ enabled Atom Z2580 SoC. Finally, we get a sneak peak at the next-generation of SoC designs with a look at a Silvermont-based Baytrail tablet running at 2560x1440.
JJ pays PC Perspective a visit!
In case you hadn't heard, on June the 4th, (world famous) JJ Guerrero from ASUS stopped by the PC Perspective offices to help host a live stream focused on Z87 platforms and the Intel Haswell processor. Since Intel decided to launch on a Saturday morning, you might have missed the boat: the Core i7-4770K was reviewed right here on PC Perspective and the results are pretty good.
Motherboards, we got motherboards here!!
Along with Haswell though is the release of the new Z87 chipset and with THAT, about 100 different ASUS motherboards. I exaggerate, but only a little. In our live stream that aired for about 4.5 hours, JJ and I discussed about 20 different motherboard ranging from Mini-ITX options to the budget-minded Z87-A and even the ROG Maximus VI Extreme!
Below you will find an on-demand version of the stream, broken up into five segments.
ASUS Z87 Motherboard Segmentation
This first segment details the mindset ASUS had when creating the four different motherboard product lines: Mainstream, Workstation, TUF and ROG. Why do they need all of these options and what features and quality points are common across the entire families?
ASUS Mainstream Z87 Motherboard Lineup
ASUS' new mainstream line of motherboards with the z87 chipset range from the Z87-A to the Z87-Deluxe/Dual. JJ talks about the features that are added as you move up the product stack so that you can find the option that fits your platform needs and budget.
An new era for computing? Or, just a bit of catching up?
Early Tuesday, at 2am for viewers in eastern North America, Intel performed their Computex 2013 keynote to officially kick off Haswell. Unlike ASUS from the night prior, Intel did not announce a barrage of new products; the purpose is to promote future technologies and the new products of their OEM and ODM partners. In all, there was a pretty wide variety of discussed topics.
Intel carried on with the computational era analogy: the 80's was dominated by mainframes; the 90's were predominantly client-server; and the 2000's brought the internet to the forefront. While true, they did not explicitly mention how each era never actually died but rather just bled through: we still use mainframes, especially with cloud infrastructure; we still use client-server; and just about no-one would argue that the internet has been displaced, despite its struggle against semi-native apps.
Intel believes that we are currently in the two-in-one era, which they probably mean "multiple-in-one" due to devices such as the ASUS Transformer Book Trio. They created a tagline, almost a mantra, illustrating their vision:
"It's a laptop when you need it; it's a tablet when you want it."
But before elaborating, they wanted to discuss their position in the mobile market. They believe they are becoming a major player in the mobile market with key design wins and outperforming some incumbent system on a chips (SoCs). The upcoming Silvermont architecture pines to be fill in the gaps below Haswell, driving smartphones and tablets and stretching upward to include entry-level notebooks and all-in-one PCs. The architecture promises to scale between offering three-fold more performance than its past generation, or a fifth of the power for equivalent performance.
Ryan discussed Silvermont last month, be sure to give his thoughts a browse for more depth.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 4, 2013 - 09:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Kabini, Intel, haswell, gigabyte, computex 2013, computex, brix, amd
Earlier this year, Gigabyte showed off a new small form factor (SFF) mini PC called the Brix during its New Idea Tech Tour. Those initial models came equipped with Intel Ivy Bridge processors, two SO-DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory), one mSATA slot, and one mPCI-E connector for storage and wireless networking respectively. The Brix hardware is housed in an aluminum chassis that doubles as a heatsink. However, since the Brix's debut, both Intel and AMD have come out with new more power efficient processors. In light of this, Gigabyte is not only showing off the original Brix PC at Computex 2013, but a new SKU called the GB-XM1 that comes equipped with your choice of Intel Haswell or AMD Kabini processors.
The new 4.5 x 4.2 x 1.2" Gigabyte Brix XM1 PC supports mSATA, mPCI-E, dual display outputs, USB 3.0, and is VESA mountable. The Haswell variant's processor options range from a Core i3-4010U to a Core i7-4500U. On the AMD side of things, the GB-XM1 is available with options ranging from the E1-2100 to the A4-5000. All of the AMD "Kabini" chips are outfitted with 12 Radeon cores, but they differ from there. The highest-end chip, the A4-5000, is a quad core with 2MB of L2 cache while the lower tier chips are dual cores with only 1MB of L2 cache. The following chart outlines all of the Haswell and Kabini CPU choices.
|GB-XM1 (Haswell)||GB-XM1 (Kabini)|
For more information on Kabini, check out our review of the AMD A4-5000 Kabini processor. If you need a refresher on Intel's Haswell architecture, you can also find a review of the Core i7-4770K here.
Gigabyte has not released pricing or availability information on the GB-XM1, but expect the Kabini models to be noticeably cheaper than the Haswell counterparts. Thankfully, it is not all bad news for Kabini users, as the Radeon cores help the low power processor accomplish 3D and media playback tasks, as noted in Josh's review.
For those interested in the mini Brix PC as a media center box or low-power desktop PC, Engadget reports that Gigabyte is also experimenting with specialized Brix SKUs, including a wireless charging pad for mobile devices and another Brix with a Pico projector. These accessories are merely prototypes at this point and may not go into mass production.
I'm glad to see Gigabyte moving forward with its Brix lineup to provide a useful alternative to Intel's NUC.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2013 - 08:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, ROG, Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, Intel, haswell, gaming, g30, crosschill, computex 2013, computex, asus
During an ASUS ROG press conference at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS launched a number of new bits of hardware aimed at PC gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to the mini ITX Maximus VI Impact launch, ASUS showed off the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, OC Panel accessory, and ROG G30 desktop. The available details on each piece of hardware is as follows:
ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard
While ASUS hinted at several of its Z87 motherboards last month by allowing us to post teaser photos ahead of the launch, until today enthusiasts have not seen the latest "Formula" motherboard. However, now that the board is official, you can see the new Z87 motherboard in high resolution photos below!
The board comes in red and black colors, and surprisingly, comes equipped with ASUS' thermal armor accessory which includes a plastic shroud for the front of the motherboard and a SECC back-plate with thermal pads to aid in cooling and supporting the motherboard (even with heavy CPU HSFs). In addition to the thermal armor, the board has finned heatsinks on the PCH and VRM hardware. The VRM heatsink in particular uses the company's CrossChill technology which allows user to integrate the VRM heatsink into their water cooling loop or leave it as air-cooled. The board also features a diagnostic display and start/reset buttons.
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a LGA 1150 CPU socket, four dual channel DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a total of 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports.
The rear IO panel includes a mPCI-E Combo II card that supports 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios along with a M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) SSD slot at the top. Other IO includes:
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports (one used for BIOS flashing)
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
- 1 x S/PDIF connector
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN
- 6 x analog audio jacks
Overclocking technology includes ASUS' Extreme Engine DIGI+ III power delivery that incorporates 60A BlackWing chokes, (90% efficient) NexFET MOSFETs, and 10K Black Metallic capacitors.
Finally, ASUS has also added a SupremeFX chipset for quality onboard audio. This audio chip is capable of 120dB SNR, a headphone amplifier for 600 ohm cans, EMI shielding, and quality OpAMPs.
ASUS OC Panel Overclocking Accessory
The ASUS OC Panel is a hardware accessory for the company's ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It allows you to adjust the BCLK and other settings related to overclocking your processor in real time. It also provides CPU temperature feedback on the top of the LED display.
According to the press release, overclockers Andre Yang and Shamino managed to push a system with a Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 32GB RAM, and a Core-i7 Haswell processor to 7GHz CPU and 4200MHz clockspeed using liquid nitrogen cooling. It looks like a cool accessory that will allow you to easily adjust the overclocking settings without rebooting into the UEFI BIOS. Pricing and availability have not been announced, but expect it soon.
ASUS ROG G30 Gaming Desktop
The ROG TYTAN G30 desktop PC features a stylized case with red LEDs and a front door with ROG and ASUS logos. Internals include an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor and a NVIDIA GTX 780 graphics card. Even better, ASUS is using liquid cooling for the CPU, and offers a 1-button overclock of all four CPU cores to 4.1GHz. The PC also integrates ASUS' SonicMaster and AudioWizard technology which reportedly enhances in-game audio.
Again, pricing and availability for the haswell gaming PC are still unknown.
What do you think of ASUS' recent ROG product announcements? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 news throughout the week!
- ASUS Maximus VI Impact ROG Mini-ITX Motherboard @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective
- ASUS "We Transform" Press Conference: Mobile devices, tablets, VivoPC, and more! @ PC Perspective
- ASUS VivoPC and VivoMouse Details @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Working On GTX 770 Poseidon With Hybrid Air/Water Cooler @ PC Perspective
- ASUS G750 Gaming Notebook With Haswell and GTX 700M Hardware @ PC Perspective