AMD Demonstrates Prototype FreeSync Monitor with DisplayPort Adaptive Sync Feature

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | June 4, 2014 - 12:40 AM |
Tagged: gsync, g-sync, freesync, DisplayPort, computex 2014, computex, adaptive sync

AMD FreeSync is likely a technology or brand or term that is going to be used a lot between now and the end of 2014. When NVIDIA introduced variable refresh rate monitor technology to the world in October of last year, one of the immediate topics of conversation was the response that AMD was going to have. NVIDIA's G-Sync technology is limited to NVIDIA graphics cards and only a few (actually just one still as I write this) monitors actually have the specialized hardware to support it. In practice though, variable refresh rate monitors fundamentally change the gaming experience for the better

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At CES, AMD went on the offensive and started showing press a hacked up demo of what they called "FreeSync", a similar version of the variable refresh technology working on a laptop. At the time, the notebook was a requirement of the demo because of the way AMD's implementation worked. Mobile displays have previously included variable refresh technologies in order to save power and battery life. AMD found that it could repurpose that technology to emulate the effects that NVIDIA G-Sync creates - a significantly smoother gaming experience without the side effects of Vsync.

Our video preview of NVIDIA G-Sync Technology

Since that January preview, things have progressed for the "FreeSync" technology. Taking the idea to the VESA board responsible for the DisplayPort standard, in April we found out that VESA had adopted the technology and officially and called it Adaptive Sync

So now what? AMD is at Computex and of course is taking the opportunity to demonstrate a "FreeSync" monitor with the DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive Sync feature at work. Though they aren't talking about what monitor it is or who the manufacturer is, the demo is up and running and functions with frame rates wavering between 40 FPS and 60 FPS - the most crucial range of frame rates that can adversely affect gaming experiences. AMD has a windmill demo running on the system, perfectly suited to showing Vsync enabled (stuttering) and Vsync disabled (tearing) issues with a constantly rotating object. It is very similar to the NVIDIA clock demo used to show off G-Sync.

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The demo system is powered by an AMD FX-8350 processor and Radeon R9 290X graphics card. The monitor is running at 2560x1440 and is the very first working prototype of the new standard. Even more interesting, this is a pre-existing display that has had its firmware updated to support Adaptive Sync. That's potentially exciting news! Monitors COULD BE UPGRADED to support this feature, but AMD warns us: "...this does not guarantee that firmware alone can enable the feature, it does reveal that some scalar/LCD combinations are already sufficiently advanced that they can support some degree of DRR (dynamic refresh rate) and the full DPAS (DisplayPort Adaptive Sync) specification through software changes."

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The time frame for retail available monitors using DP 1.2a is up in the air but AMD has told us that the end of 2014 is entirely reasonable. Based on the painfully slow release of G-Sync monitors into the market, AMD has less of a time hole to dig out of than we originally thought, which is good. What is not good news though is that this feature isn't going to be supported on the full range of AMD Radeon graphics cards. Only the Radeon R9 290/290X and R7 260/260X (and the R9 295X2 of course) will actually be able to support the "FreeSync" technology. Compare that to NVIDIA's G-Sync: it is supported by NVIDIA's entire GTX 700 and GTX 600 series of cards.

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All that aside, seeing the first official prototype of "FreeSync" is awesome and is getting me pretty damn excited about the variable refresh rate technologies once again! Hopefully we'll get some more hands on time (eyes on, whatever) with a panel in the near future to really see how it compares to the experience that NVIDIA G-Sync provides. There is still the chance that the technologies are not directly comparable and some in-depth testing will be required to validate.

Computex 2014: Philips Announces Virtually Seamless Dual-Display IPS Monitor

Subject: Displays | June 3, 2014 - 10:50 PM |
Tagged: philips, ips, dual monitor, computex 2014, computex

Philips has announced what they are calling the worlds first "virtually seamless" two-in-one monitor.

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The Philips Two-in-One monitor proudly showing Computex gold (though not as prestigious as the PC Perspective gold award, of course...)

The 19DP6QJNS (love those model names, don't you?) is comprised of two separate 19" IPS displays on a single mount, and the ultra-thin 3.5mm bezels allow for the that "virtual" seamlessness.

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The announcement does not include screen resolution, and from the images the screens don't appear at least to be the usual 16:9 aspect ratio. Even without all of the details there is a clear advantage to a design with a reduced footprint. It's just a more, well, seemless (there's that word again) dual-monitor setup. Each display has its own video inputs, though they are different. The first display has a DisplayPort and VGA input, and the second has a VGA input and MHL-enabled HDMI input. The monitors can tilt up to 22 degrees, and each screen also has a pair of USB ports.

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So about the resolution... Philips states that this new product is "ideal for designers using 3D graphics or requiring extremely detailed information for CAD-CAM solutions," so one wouldn't be faulted for assuming a higher resolution panel here, but we will have to see. This is certainly a niche product, but anyone who has grown accustomed to a dual monitor setup will probably tell you they are more productive (and would never willingly go back). If this is reasonably priced, two IPS screens on a single stand would be a really attractive proposition.

The Philips 19DP6QJNS will be available fall 2014, and no pricing information yet.

Source: Philips

Computex 2014: Be Quiet! Introduces Their First PC Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2014 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: enclosure, computex 2014, computex, cases, be quiet!, atx case

Today Be Quiet! - known for its line of quality power supplies (like the Power Zone 1000W PSU) - introduces their first PC enclosure, and the case (it has no apparent name as of yet) looks excellent, especially at the price point Be Quiet intends to target ($129).

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The monolithic design will be available with your choice of three colors of accents

The Be Quiet! case supports ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ITX motherboards, and has tons of room for your various components. It comes with three of the company's "Pure Wings 2" fans pre-installed (2x 140mm in front, and 1x 120mm in back), and will offer a lot of additional cooling flexibility. The case will support liquid cooling radiators up front (120/140mm), on the back (120mm), and on top (up to 240/280mm).

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The Be Quiet! case is part of this balanced breakfast - er, build

Be Quiet! provided some specs for us:

  • 3x 5.25” optical drive bays
  • 7x 3.5” HDD bays
  • 2x SSD behind motherboard
  • 2x SSD inside HDD tray
  • 2x 140mm front fan mounts
  • 1x 120mm back, and 2x 120/140mm top fan mounts
  • 1x 120/140mm bottom, and 1x 120mm side panel fan mounts
  • Top-mounted USB 3.0 x2 and USB 2.0 x2 ports, plus audio

A larger enclosure, the Be Quiet! case will allow large components as well:

  • CPU cooler max height 170mm
  • PSU max length 290mm
  • VGA max length standard (with HDD cage) 290mm
  • VGA max length (without HDD cage) 400mm

An emphasis has been placed on noise reduction (no surprise here - see company name!) and the case will include noise-dampening mats as wekk as anti-noise HDD and Fan mounts. Adding to the premium feel, all of the numerous air intakes will have filters to keep dust away from your gear.

The (as yet unnamed) Be Quiet! case is set to launch in September with an MSRP of US $129, and will be available as a black chassis with silver, orange, or black inserts.

Read on for additional photos of this new Be Quiet case!

Source: Be Quiet!

More hints on Devil's Canyon

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2014 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, i7-4790k, devil's canyon, computex 2014, computex, 4790k

The biggest improvement for overclockers on the new Devil's Canyon processors goes by the name of Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material; which will replace the much maligned TIM used on Haswell chips that many have blamed for poor overclocking results.  So far the news is good but as no samples have arrived anywhere for review we still await the final word.  As it is an LGA 1150 processor the current heatsinks will cool this chip and in theory a BIOS/UEFI update should allow them to run on current Z87 boards making it a very easy upgrade.  As you can see in the list the speeds are raised slightly from the previous generation, check out the other features [H]ard|OCP heard about right here.

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"Intel is presenting its new Devil's Canyon processors today at Computex in Taiwan. Enthusiasts get a two new processor solutions, one with HyperThreading and one without. While many of us are familiar with processor core clocks of 4GHz+, this is first time we have Intel serving up a minimum 4GHz clock on its enthusiast K processor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

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Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD

Computex 2014: Intel Officially Releases Devil's Canyon, Core i7-4790K

Subject: Processors | June 3, 2014 - 02:30 AM |
Tagged: Intel, i7-4790k, devil's canyon, computex 2014, computex, 4790k

Back in March, we learned from Intel that they were planning to release a new Haswell refresh processor targeted at the overclocking and gaming market, code named Devil's Canyon. As we noted then, this new version of the existing processors will include new CPU packaging and the oft-requested improved thermal interface material (TIM). What wasn't known were the final clock speeds and availability time lines.

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The new Core i7-4790K processor will ship with a 4.0 GHz base clock with a maximum Turbo clock rate of 4.4 GHz! That is a 500 MHz increase in base clock speed over the Core i7-4770K and should result in a substantial (~10-15%) performance increase. The processor still supports HyperThreading for a total of 8 threads and is fully unlocked for even more clock speed improvements.

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All of the other specifications remain the same - HD Graphics 4600, 8MB of L3 cache, 16 lanes of PCI Express, etc.

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Intel spent some time on the Devil's Canyon Haswell processors to improve the packaging and thermals for overclockers and enthusiasts. The thermal interface material (TIM) that is between the top of the die and the heat spreader has been updated to a next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM). The change should improve cooling performance of all currently shipping cooling solutions (air or liquid) but it is still a question just HOW MUCH this change will actually matter. 

You can also tell from the photo comparison above that Intel has added capacitors to the back of the processor to "smooth" power delivery. This, combined with the NGPTIM should enable a bit more headroom for clock speeds with the Core i7-4790K.

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In fact, there are two Devil's Canyon processors being launched this month. The Core i7-4790K will sell for $339, the same price as the Core i7-4770K, while the Core i5-4690K will sell for $242. The lower end option is a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz Turbo clock quad-core CPU without HyperThreading. While a nice step over the Core i5-4670K, it's only 100 MHz faster. Clearly the Core i7-4790K is the part everyone is going to be scrambling to buy.

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Not to be left out, Intel is offering an unlocked Pentium processor for users on a tighter budget. This dual core CPU runs at 3.2 GHz base frequency and includes not just HD Graphics but support for QuickSync video. 

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At just $72, the Pentium G3258 will likely be a great choice for gamers that lean towards builds like the one we made for the Titanfall release.

I was hoping to have a processor in hand to run benchmarks and overclocking testing on, but they haven't quite made it to the office yet. The 4.0 GHz clock speed is easily emulated by any 4770K and some BIOS tweaks but the additional overclocking headroom provided by the changed thermal interface is still in question. Honestly, based on conversations with motherboard vendors, Devil's Canyon headroom is only 100-200 MHz over the base Haswell parts, so don't expect to reach 6.0 GHz all of the sudden.

Later in the week we'll have the Core i7-4790K in hand and you can expect a full review shortly thereafter.

Computex 2014: ASUS Announces ROG G20 Compact Gaming Desktop and ROG GR8 Gaming Console PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gaming pc, computex 2014, computex, asus

Gaming PCs are often misunderstood. Many of our viewers will probably build their own from their personal selection of parts. If you would like to have someone else handle it, then an oft dismissed option is going through a system builder. If you find an option that is in your budget and has the performance you desire, then it is perfectly acceptable to buy it.

ASUS has just announced two offerings, branded Republic of Gamers (ROG), for you to consider.

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The ROG G20 Gaming Desktop can be customized with options which range up to an Intel Core i7 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780. It is designed to be quiet, with expected noise at around 23-25 dbA (it is unclear whether this is measured idle or under load). While it has two fans, it also uses "natural convection" cooling, a process which uses the excess heat to make hot air rise, which is replaced by cool air that cools the components.

Yup, the PC cools itself with the air motion caused by its own heat.

After customizations, the ROG G20 Gaming Desktop is expected to retail for $800-$1700, depending on what options the user selects, and be available in late Q3, for North Americans.

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The other PC is the ROG GR8 Gaming Desktop. This device will include an Intel Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Despite its form factor, a side panel allows user access to RAM and storage. It has Gigabit Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac wireless. While it obviously has HDMI outputs, it also includes DisplayPort.

ASUS does not currently have an expected price range, but it will also be available Q3, for North Americans.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: ASUS ROG Announces GX500 Ultra Thin 15.6" 4K Gaming Notebook

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: UHD, M.2, gaming laptop, core i7, computex 2014, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 4k, 15.6 inch

The GX500 is ASUS’s new ultrabook-thin 15.6" gaming laptop from the ROG series, and it features a very impressive 4K screen.

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This...isn't your average gaming laptop

Just 0.75” thick (but weighing a robust 4.85lbs - though not bad for a 15.6" gaming machine) the GX500 has some very impressive specs. Running up to an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M graphics, and what sounds like an awesome UHD 3840 x 2160-pixel display with ASUS “VisualMaster technology” for a claimed 100% NTSC wide color gamut, which is a world-first on a notebook according to ASUS.

The GX500 also includes a M.2 SSD running on a full PCIe x4 connection, and features a dual-fan cooling system to keep thermals in check in what ASUS says is the worlds thinnest 15” gaming notebook.

ASUS has not announced pricing, but states that it will be dependent upon configuration. The ASUS ROG GX500 will be available in Q3 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: ASUS Announces ROG ARES III Water-Cooled Gaming Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 2, 2014 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: computex, radeon, r9 295x2, Hawaii XT, dual gpu, computex 2014, ASUS ROG, asus, Ares, amd

The latest installment in the ASUS ARES series of ultra-powerful, limited-edition graphics cards has been announced, and the Ares III is set to be the “world’s fastest” video card.

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The ARES III features a full EK water block

The dual-GPU powerhouse is driven by two “hand-selected” Radeon Hawaii XT GPUs (R9 290X cores) with 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The card is overclockable according to ASUS, and will likely arrive factory overclocked as they claim it will be faster out of the box than the reference R9-295x2. The ARES III features a custom-designed EK water block, so unlike the R9 295x2 the end user will need to supply the liquid cooling loop.

ASUS claims that the ARES III will “deliver 25% cooler performance than reference R9 295X designs“, but to achieve this ASUS “highly” recommends a high flow rate loop with at least a 120x3 radiator “to extract maximum performance from the card,” and they “will provide a recommended list of water cooling systems at launch”.

Only 500 of the ARES III will be made, and are individually numbered. No pricing has been announced, but ASUS says to expect it to be more than a 295x2 ($1499) - but less than a TITAN Z ($2999). The ASUS ROG ARES III will be available in Q3 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: Acer XB280HK Is 28-inch 4K with G-Sync

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: XB280HK, g-sync, computex 2014, computex, acer, 4k

Speaking of G-Sync monitors, Acer has announced a 4K monitor ahead of Computex with NVIDIA's adaptive refresh rate technology. While they do not ever say that it is 60Hz, I believe that it is. It also seems to be based on a TN panel. It, being G-Sync, connects with DisplayPort 1.2 and also includes four USB 3.0 ports. It, however, does not seem to support the competing AMD's FreeSync, integrated into VESA's DisplayPort 1.2a standard.

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We do not currently have an image of the monitor

4K could be where we really start seeing benefits for G-Sync. At that resolution, it is very difficult to get a system, regardless of how many GPUs are inside it, which can play the most modern of games without dipping below 60 FPS. Once you miss your 16.67 millisecond window, your game starts hitching between images living 33.33ms and 16.67ms, when each frame is supposed to be presented at a constant rate.

As for pricing and availability: Q2 (early May to end of July). That's all we know.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: Acer