PC Perspective Hardware Workshop 2012 @ Quakecon 2012 in Dallas, TX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 10:30 PM |
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways

It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop!  Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.  

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Main Stage - Quakecon 2012

Saturday, August 4th, 2pm CT

Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year.  We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do!  Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!

Our thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!

Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out!  Our thanks to NVIDIA, MSI Computer and Corsair!!

 

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Live Streaming

If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry!  You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services.  Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!

Case Mod Competition

Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest!  There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.

For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!

Prize List (will continue to grow!)

Continue reading to see the list of prizes for the workshop!!!

Source: PCPer

Podcast #213 - Windows 8 RTM, A75 Motherboards, GTX 660Ti rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: video, windows 8 rtm, windows 8, podcast, nvidia, llano, Intel, haswell, amd, a75, 660ti

PC Perspective Podcast #213 - 08/09/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Windows 8 RTM, A75 Motherboards, GTX 660Ti rumors 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, Allyn Malvantano and Steve Grever

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:00:35

Program Schedule:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:19 PCPer Hardware Workshop Overview
    2. 0:07:00 Quakecon Coverage:
      1. http://pcper.com/reviews/Shows-and-Expos/Quakecon-2012-Day-3-Coverage
    3. 0:08:30 What MB is good for all those free APUs we gave out?
      1. MSI A75A-G55 FM1 AMD A75
      2. Asus F1A75-V
    4. 0:12:30 Windows 8 goes RTM
      1. Also, Windows 8 has new box art and changed name of Metro to Windows 8-style UI
  1. 0:18:08 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 0:19:13 AMD FirePro APU is Launched
    2. 0:23:25 Seagate acquires LaCie
    3. 0:25:20 GTX 660 Ti Prices?
    4. 0:27:24 Steam Selling non-game Software starting Sep. 5th - Windows Store competition
    5. 0:31:00 Ivy Bridge-E will come after Haswell
    6. 0:34:00 Plextor M5 Pro SSD - Marvell finally has some speed
    7. 0:35:30 EVGA GTX 460 2Win WAS $169
    8. 0:39:05 ARMAII with DayZ as retail title
    9. 0:41:00 Curiosity landed successfully on Mars (landed with a friggin' rocket powered skycrane!)
  1. Closing:
    1. 0:44:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: UT2004
      2. Jeremy: Oh the decisions … SAMSUNG 830 @ $230 or Corsair Force Series GT @ $175
      3. Josh: My first cellphone in 8 years.
      4. Allyn: Google 2-factor authentication / Authenticator app for mobile
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper and http://twitter.com/joshdwalrath
  4. Closing/Outro

Windows 8 Reaches RTM Status, Almost Immediately Leaked

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 4, 2012 - 06:29 AM |
Tagged: windows 8 rtm, windows 8, video, start screen, microsoft, Metro

Preface: If you prefer a video version, you can check out a video walkthrough of Windows 8 RTM with commentary. For those that want a written preview, I have attempted to break the article up into sizeable chunks. The first part is the introduction and "what's new" regarding getting it set up versus our guide for installing the Consumer Preview. The following sections are for showing off desktop applications and metro/Windows 8 Style UI apps. Finally, a short conclusion and general impressions section as well as some questions for you to answer should you want to join the discussion. Once again, I've gone with a more informal voice for the preview as there is a lot of opinion in here, this is by no means a full review!

Please note that unless otherwise stated, these opinions are my own, and not PC Perspective's. I am interested in hearing your opinions on the RTM build as well, and you can participate in the comments below without registration (though you get some nice benefits–like an avatar and ability to edit posts–if you decide to).

Windows 8 RTM has leaked to the Internet, here's what's new and what I think of it

Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system is well on its way for the final public release on October 26, 2012—in fact OEMs are starting to get their hands on the code, and it is officially in Release To Manufacturing (RTM) status. While Microsoft TechNet subscribers will be able to download the Windows 8 RTM build on August 15, 2012, it has already been leaked to the Internet as is available on various file-sharing websites.

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To be more specific, the leaked build is a volume license version of Windows 8 Enterprise (N) RTM. It is further an “N” edition, which means that it is aimed at the European market and has Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center stripped out. The "N" editions are the result of an EU case relating to alleged anti-competitive actions. From that leaked build, people have managed to create a bootable ISO version for clean installs where there is no existing OS on the machine as well as a zipped folder that can be used for upgrade installations.

Needless to say, the news that the RTM had leaked piqued my interest, so I set out to get my hands on it (and report my findings). I managed to find a non-bootable image called "MICROSOFT.WINDOWS.8.ENTERPRISE-N.RTM.X64.VOLUME.ENGLISH.NON_BOOT_DVD-SAMOVARWZT" (wow that's a long file name) that seemed to check out as being legitimate. I then took that 6.05 GB folder and used the files to do a clean install from a Windows 7 x64 virtual machine I had around for testing just this sort of thing.

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Unlike our previous Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation guide, this RTM build does not require a key to be entered in order to complete the install. As a volume license version, you are allowed a 30-day grace period to activate (I have not tested if the Windows 7 -rearm trick works to extend that yet). Other than the key issue, the clean install procedure is the same as the steps we covered previously. Aesthetically, Microsoft has changed to a purple background and the beta fish logo at boot-up (when the installer restarts the system) is gone. It is replaced by a small light-blue Windows 8 logo.

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Once the installer has finished, it will restart the computer and, upon boot will present a nice graphical OS selection list which appears to be a new addition to the RTM build. After choose Windows 8, you enter the Windows setup wizard which guides you through setting computer options and configuring your user account.

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The setup process in Windows 8 RTM appears to be identical to that of the Consumer Preview version that I installed a couple of months ago (how time has flown!). Below is an animated .gif of the setup screens, which appears to be the same as the Consumer Preview except using a slightly different background color.

After that finished though, I was pleasantly surprised with what came next. After asking for some sort of tutorial ever since the Developer Preview, Microsoft has finally provided one–sort of. Basically, after setup finishes, the screen goes dark and then an animation pops up that briefly shows you how to access the Windows 8 Charms bar by moving your mouse to any corner of the screen. Then it dumps you out to the desktop.

Not exactly what I was hoping for, especially considering I was only able to find out how to actually close a Metro "Windows 8 style UI" application without going to the task manager from a forum post of all things. Needless to say, some of the mouse gestures are not obvious, and I do consider myself to be at least somewhat technically savvy. Therefore, I can only imagine how lost some people might be when presented with Windows 8. When I had the Developer and Consumer Preview(s) installed on my Dell XT convertible tablet, the touch and gesture stuff was easier to discover but it is still not apparent. I was really hoping for a tutorial similar to what Microsoft did for Windows XP that introduces the interface and all the new features on the first setup (and accessible later if needed).

Still, it is a step in the right direction, and the tutorial at least points out one of the new mouse/touch navigation features. Here's hoping that MS adds more to that start-up tutorial by the time final code is out and it is for sale. Below is an animated .gif image of the brief tutorial. Note that the actual tutorial has some fading transitions between scenes. The last two images are two clips from a constantly changing background color as the OS loads the desktop and Windows 8 Start Screen for the first time. It cycles through all the colors available to choose from in the Personalize setting during account creation.

Once Windows has finished setting up your user account, you will be presented with the Windows 8 Start Screen for the first time. In my case, it was an array of "Metro" Windows 8 Style UI live tiles on a dark blue background with my name and photo in the top-right-corner. You can see what my Start Screen looks like in the image below. Yours will look similar but the photos and location information will be different. So you'll have the same stock apps, but the information on the tiles will not be the same. The information in question will be pulled from the Microsoft/Windows Live account that you signed into during the initial setup process.

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Continue reading to see the new "Metro" apps, desktop UI, and my final thoughts

A New Dawn of a new era: NVIDIA tech demo reboot.

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 25, 2012 - 08:55 PM |
Tagged: A New Dawn, video, nvidia, kepler

NVIDIA has released a demo for their latest GPUs which might be a little familiar for long-time PC gamers. A New Dawn is a remake of their Dawn demo for the GeForce FX line of graphics processors -- now with less fake Subsurface Scattering.

What better way to gratify your purchases than scantily clad demihumans?

It has been just months shy of a decade ago when NVIDIA revealed Dawn to attendees of the 2002 Game Developer’s Conference. Dawn, titled after both lead character as well as setting, was set to promote NVIDIA’s GeForce FX line of graphics processors.

Less lensflare than a dance-pop video.

Every day I'm fluttering -- ROFL.

A New Dawn demonstrates the progression between early-stage DirectX 9 through current DirectX 11.1 hardware. Dawn has been remodeled and reskinned with actual subsurface scattering to liven up her skin; fine-grained hair with blur shaders to prevent aliasing; and certainly no extra clothing. Her environment is modeled and tessellated -- a step up from the box she used to reside in.

A New Dawn is available for download from NVIDIA’s website if your system meets the minimum specifications -- which, if you have a Kepler GPU, is quite forgiving for a system that a Kepler GPU would make sense to be in.

Source: NVIDIA

Live Video Recap: AMD Llano Blindfolded PC Build

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 23, 2012 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: video, llano, blindfolded, APU, amd

Well, we did it!  Today I successfully built an AMD A-series APU based computer while blindfolded LIVE.  At the start of the event I went over the various components used for the build including the AMD A8-3800 APU, MSI A75 motherboard, Corsair 550D case and 650 watt power supply and more.  After showing it all, I wrapped a scarf around my head and went to work.  

There were quite a few more hurdles than I expected including spreading the thermal paste correctly, screwing the motherboard into the case and finding the pins for the front panel power button.  I was surprised at how easily I was able to install the APU, memory and heatsink, but that likely comes with years of practice and experience with the hardware.  

In all, it took me 1 hour and 18 minutes to get to a Windows screen using a pre-installed OS on a Western Digital 1TB hard drive.  That was MUCH longer than I had originally thought it would take, so I have been humbled by those DIY PC users that build their own on without sight a regular basis!  

If you missed the live event we hosted at http://pcper.com/live you can find the replay hosted right here below.  Enjoy watching me completely make a fool of myself!

Update: The winner of the blindfolded system was selected, congrats goes to Darren who gets the task of rebuilding this rig!  :D

Live Review Recap: AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2012 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, HD 7970, hd 7970 ghz edition, 7970, 7970 ghz edition, video, live review

A PC Perspective Live Review Recap is a recorded version of a previously live streamed event from http://pcper.com/live.  If you couldn't make the original air time, or simply want to re-watch, the on-demand version is provided below!

On the day of the release of AMD's latest flagship graphics card, the Radeon HD 7970 3GB GHz Edition, Evan Groenke (Desktop Graphics Product Manager) stopped by the PC Perspective offices to sit with us and talk about the new GPU.  In the live event we went over the company's stance and mindset with the release, the new boost capability that the card integrates, performance from our review and even some questions and answers with some giveaways.

I really want to thank AMD and Evan for stopping by and chatting with us and our readers.  Be sure you keep checking back at http://pcper.com/live for more live events you can be a part of!

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

A case for quiet and for performance

In recent years, some of my favorite cases have come from Corsair - a statement that not too long ago I would have never thought I'd be making.  Since the company's rapid expansion into nearly all things enthusiast computing, the Corsair Obsidian line of chassis have helped move along a pretty stagnant industry and foster innovation and change. 

Today we are going to be looking at the new Corsair Obsidian 550D, a case that claims to master both noise reduction and sound isolation as well as offering flexibility for some intense cooling capability. 

Check out our video review below!

Overall we found the 550D to be a great case for the money and the ability to run it in both a quiet and a cooling mode will allow users to swap components and PC designs without having to buy another case at the same time.

The Corsair Obsidian 550D is available at Newegg.com for $139!

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You can catch more images after the break!

E3 12: Unreal Engine 4 -- What you (and we) missed at GDC.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: video, unreal engine 4, E3 12, E3

Epic has released as much of their GDC demo as they are able to in an effort to end E3 2012 with a bang. They have included a second video to walk through the engine for developers to enjoy. We will explain to the masses why it is awesome.

Before we go any further -- the video you have been waiting months to see.

Be prepared for a particle-filled generation.

As was the case with Intel’s sand-to-CPU video -- the demo is pleasing but the supplementary info is the prize.

Epic released a 10 minute developer walkthrough to highlight the most important features of Unreal Engine 4. You can see it below and read on to see what that all means.

Yes, Unrealscript did not make it to Unreal Engine 4.

The first major feature of the engine is real-time dynamic global illumination and glossy specular reflection. Traditional video game graphics only considers the first bounce of light from a source -- if that bounce does not reach the player camera then it does not exist. Global illumination allows objects to be lit not just by light sources but also by light bouncing from neighboring objects.

It has been very popular to calculate how light interacts with objects ahead of time for the last generation as well as a portion of the generation prior to that. With those methods you are able to soften the shadows cast by light and make the scene feel much more naturally lit. The problem arises when anything in the scene moves or changes as obviously happens in a video game.

Unreal Engine 4 has the ability to calculate Global Illumination in real time. Dynamic lights such as muzzle flashes or flames are able to not just illuminate the area around them but also induce that area around it to light each other.

Also, static sources such as moonlight shining in the window against the floor can bounce from the floor and slightly lighten the walls with a bluish tint without being calculated ahead of time. Developers can try lighting effects without waiting for sometimes hours to see the results. This also means that what would have been once a pre-computed lit scene with nothing moving can now be destroyed and still remain properly lit. And now the moon can even move if the designer wants.

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Specular material on the gold statue

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Diffuse material on the gold statue, notice how the floor lighting from the statue desaturates and changes.

In this scene we see how light can reflect against a statue and influence the objects around it. A specular material has a much smoother and more mirror-like surface than a diffuse material which tends to scatter light in all directions. If you were to shine a laser against a mirror the beam would bounce and you would not see it unless you were in the reflected path whereas if you shine the laser against the wall you would see a dot regardless of how you look at it. This is because the wall, like a projector screen, is like trillions of microscopic mirrors all pointed in different directions which each take a tiny fraction of the light and sends it in a different direction.

In Unreal Engine 4, this effect means that a shiny surface will not only glare if you look at it but also light the objects around it differently than a diffuse surface. You can see that effect against the floor.

Read on after the break to continue with the discussion of Unreal Engine 4 features.

MSI Unveils Ultra Portable Laptop and Windows 8 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: x460dx, video, ultraportable, tablet, slider s20, notebook, msi, laptop, computex

MSI has been extremely busy at this year’s Computex trade show by releasing tons of new hardware. The company today officially announced two new Ultra series laptops that are less than 1” thick and made to be ultraportable and stylish.

The MSI X460DX is a 14” thin and light notebook with metal alloy chassis, Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, NVIDIA GT630M graphics card, HDMI, Bluettoth, and USB 3.0 technology. It also supports the company’s Turbo Battery+ technology and a hotkey to turn off idle hardware. The computer sports a stylized trackpad, chiclet keyboard, and metal accents.

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The MSI X460DX weighs in at 2kg and is less than an inch thick. No word yet on pricing or availability.

The other MSI Ultra series notebook is the Slider 20. The 11.6” device is constructed of plastic with brushed metal textures, weighs in at 1.3kg and is stated to be “less than 2 centimeters thin.” The interesting bit about the MSI Slider S20 is the touchscreen, however. The 11.6” screen (which has a resolution of 1366x768) can lay flat over the keyboard in slate mode or slide back and tilt upwards. In laptop mode, the chiclet keyboard is exposed. The computer will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Powering the ultrabook is an Intel Chief River based Core i3 CULV processor, Intel IGP for graphics, and accelerometer. On the outside it features an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, audio output, and webcam.

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The MSI Slider S20 is certainly an interesting form factor, and I suspect it will be sturdier than other convertible tablets that utilize a single hinge in the center to connect the display and keyboard. Engadget managed to get their hands on the device. They reported that although the Slider S20’s keyboard is a bit cramped and even a little too flexible, the screen hinge felt sturdy and the device felt rather lightweight. Beyond that, MSI isn't talking detailed specifications.

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Word around the Internet is that the S20 will be sold for under $1,000 USD which is pretty good (depending on just how far under it is). I’m certainly interested in seeing what this Windows 8 tablet can do.

Source: MSI
Subject: Storage

ioSafe: Introduction and Internals

Introduction:

Cloud storage is all the talk these days, and our own Tim Verry has been hard at work detailing as much of it as he can keep up with. While all of us at PCPer currently use cloud based solutions for many of the day-to-day goings on, it's not for everyone, and it tends to not be for very large chunks of data, either. Sometimes local storage is just the way to go – especially when you want to be the one in absolute control of the reliability and integrity of your data.

The general rule for proper backups is to have your local copy, a local backup (RAID is *not* a backup), and an additional off-site backup to cover things like theft, fires or floods. So lets say you simply have too much sensitive data for your internet connection to support bulk transferring to an off-side / cloud storage location. Perhaps the cloud storage for that much space is simply cost prohibitive, or your data is sensitive enough that – despite encryption – you don't want it leaving your network and/or premesis? Perhaps you're just stubborn and want only one backup of your data? I think I might have the answer you've been looking for – behold the ioSafe SoloPRO:

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What is this thing, you may ask? On the inside it's one of the available 1, 2, 3, or even 4TB 3.5" hard drives. On the outside it's a very durable and solid steel enclosure. The hard drive is wrapped in a thermally conductive yet water resistant 'HydroSafe' foil that enables water resistance rated at a 10 ft depth for 3 days with no data loss. The bonus, however, is not the water resistance - that featuer is present primarily to battle the side effects of something much more drastic - the ioSafe is fire-proof. That feature comes from what sits between the steel casing and the shrink wrapped hard drive - something ioSafe calls a DataCast (pictured below):

Internals:

I'm going to break from my normal warranty voiding and show a photo from this past Storage Visions conference at the Consumer Electonics Show, where an ioSafe was already cracked open for our viewing pleasure:

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Read on for the full review!