Raptr's Top PC Games of April 2015

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

The PC gaming utility, Raptr, is normally used to optimize in-game settings, chat and socialize, and record game footage. It also keeps track of game-hours and aggregates them into a list once per month, which makes it one of the few sources for this type of data on the PC. We were late on it last month, which means that another was posted just a week later.

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April marks the release of Grand Theft Auto V for the PC. It went live on the 14th and, despite only counting for half of the month, ended up at 4th place. Next month's survey will tell us whether the post-release drop-off was countered by counting Grand Theft Auto for a full month, which is double what they have now. It was just 0.17% of global play time behind CS:GO. Despite an error on the graph, it knocked DOTA 2 down to fifth, and Diablo III down to sixth. In fact, just about everything below Grand Theft Auto V dropped at least one rank.

Only three games actually gained places this month: ArcheAge, Warframe, and Spider Solitaire. Yes, that game is now the 19th most played, as tracked by Raptr. You could sort-of say that Hearthstone gained a rank by not losing one, but you would be wrong. Why would you say that?

League of Legends dropped less than a percent of total play time, settling in at about 21%. This is just about on target for the game, which proves that not even Rockstar can keep people from having a Riot.

Source: Raptr

Budget headphones that are just good enough, Ozone Rage ST

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: audio, ozone, Rage ST, gaming headset

With a pricetag of $40 many may be a bit leery of purchasing the Ozone Rage ST Headset as it is significantly lower in price than most gaming headsets which implies lower quality too.  It does use the 40mm drivers common in most headsets with a response range of  20-20kHz but the microphone is omnidirectional as opposed to unidirectional which means you will send background noise.  Modders-Inc tried it out and were pleasantly surprised; while it has none of the extra features that $100+ headsets do, the overall quality was worth the price of admission.  If you are in need of a headset but are strapped for cash, these are a good choice for you.

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"Despite the stereotype, gamers are social creatures too. Competitive games after all requires another person to play with, but as expressive as some gestures may be such as virtual teabagging, it is not nearly as effective in conveying what you really feel when you shout out expletives through a headset. It feels very natural in fact that one almost feels …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Another juicy rumour; Lenovo wants MSI's gaming laptops?

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: rumours, msi, Lenovo

When you think of Lenovo laptops you tend to think of suits and office suites, not Cheetos and Red Bull but DigiTimes has heard tell that this could possibly change.  With Acer, Asustek's ROG and Dell's Alienware lineups all seeing decent profits from the niche market of high end gaming laptops the rumour is that Lenovo would like in on some of that filthy lucre.  DigiTimes' source posits that MSI's gaming laptop subdivision would be the obvious target for Lenovo.  It is possible that this is all hot air but Lenovo is a huge company and could easily afford to buy a division of a competitor, if they were willing to sell.

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"Micro-Star International (MSI) has been successful in selling gaming notebooks and Lenovo is interested in acquiring MSI's gaming notebook business unit, according to sources from supply chain makers. However, MSI has denied the reports."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #349 - Death of Media Center, i7 NUC, Fractal Define S and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2015 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, supermicro, X99, Intel, amd, corsair, H100i GTX, H80i GT, fractal, define s, akracing, nvidia, shield, grid, epson, xeon e7 v3

PC Perspective Podcast #349 - 05/14/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Death of Media Center, i7 NUC, Fractal Define S 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

You can teach a Wolfram Alpha new tricks

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2015 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: wolfram alpha, stephen wolfram, image identify

You may have had the pleasure of using the Google Goggles image identification app, not so much for its successes as for its often hilarious misses.  There is now a new image identification app from Wolfram Alpha which you can try out.  The Register immediately tried a random picture of Stephen Wolfram who is apparently a podium in disguise but Image Identify seems very fond of capyberas.   Head on over to amuse yourself and of course only use your pictures for proper training as we wouldn't want to reclassify the podium as Daddy, now would we?

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"search your heart ..."

"WOLFRAM ALPHA has released a new site designed to help you identify any image that you throw at it."

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Source: The Register

Firefox 38 Launches with (and also without) DRM Support

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2015 - 05:06 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, DRM

Mozilla has just released Firefox 38. With it comes the controversial Adobe Primetime DRM implementation through the W3C's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). Or, maybe not. If you upgrade the browser through one of the default channels, the Adobe Primetime Content Decryption Module will appear in the Plugins tab of your Add-ons manager on Windows Vista or later (but it might take a few minutes after the upgrade).

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Alternatively, you can use Mozilla's EME-free installer for Firefox and avoid it altogether.

I have mentioned my concerns about DRM in the past. EME does not particularly bother me, because it is just a plugin architecture, but the fundamental concept does. Simply put, copy protection does very little good and a whole lot of bad. If your movie is leaked before it is legally available in consumer's hands, as it regularly does, then what do you expect to accomplish after the fact? It takes one instance to be copied infinitely, and that often comes from the film company's own supply chain, not their customers. Moreover, it is found to reduce sales and hurt customer experience (above and beyond the valid ideological concerns).

Beyond the DRM inclusion, several new features were added. One of the more interesting ones is BroadcastChannel API. This standard allows a web application to share data between “contexts” that have the same “user agent and origin”. In other words, it must be on the same browser and using the same app (even secondary instances of it). This will allow sites to do multi-monitor split screen, which is useful for games and utilities.

WebRTC has also been upgraded with multistream and renegotiation. Even though the general public thinks of WebRTC as a webcam and voice chat standard, it actually allows arbitrary data channels. For example, “BananaBread” is a first person shooter that used WebRTC to synchronize multiplayer state. Character and projectile position is very much not webcam or audio data, but WebRTC doesn't care.

Firefox 38 launched on May 12th with an optional, DRM-incompatible build.

Source: Mozilla

Project Cars is finally here and it certainly is pretty

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2015 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: gaming, project cars

The Tech Report pulled out their wheel and pedals, tied their chair to their desk and tried out Project Cars, a game which shows off just what a good PC is capable of.  The cars, tracks and weather are all rendered in amazing quality with lifelike reflections and lighting.  Even better is the feel of the game, realistic handling work with the graphics to immerse you fully into the game. Their are options to help the novice driver get their skills up to speed and while there may not be quite as many tracks and cars to choose from as games such as Forza, the realism more than makes up for it.  It will also work with a controller and Steam Big Picture for those who prefer to drive from the couch.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets behind the wheel in Project Cars, a new PC driving game with realistic handling and jaw-dropping graphics. This may be the best-looking game in any genre, and it feels as real as it looks."

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Epson's new 3D glasses

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2015 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: Moverio BT-200, epson, 3d glasses

Epson has teamed up with NGRAIN to create the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses for use in industrial design and repair.  The glasses are connected to a controller to minimize the weight of the actual glasses as well as allowing you control options on the 3D view you see through the glasses.  The Register were not overly impressed with the image nor the interface but could certainly see the usefulness in the demonstrations that were conducted.  One benefit the glasses do offer is dual usage, they can be used both to show 3D images as well as augmented reality overlays when looking at physical objects, allowing to use the interface you prefer.

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"You may be really looking forward to 3D glasses but based on the latest tech giant's efforts, it may be some time.

Today we tried out Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses at IoT World in San Francisco and were left… underwhelmed."

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Source: The Register

Use your SHIELD to stream games over NVIDIA GRID at 1080p

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: gaming, shield, nvidia, grid

Ryan and the crew have tested out NVIDIA's GRID, the cloud streaming service that lets you play games at 720p, as long as you have a 10 Mbps down connection on a network with a NVIDIA GameStream-ready 5 GHz Wi-Fi router and 60 ms or less ping time to a GRID server.  In testing Ryan did notice lag but he still found them playable once he mentally adjusted to the delay.

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Today NIVIDA announced an upgrade to the GRID service, 35 of the 50 games on the service can now stream at a full 1080p and 60fps including Batman: Arkham Origins, Devil May Cry 4 and Dirt 3 Complete Edition.  In order to properly enjoy the HD quality you will need a compatible router from the list linked to above and connection of at least a 30 Mbps down, with 50Mbps being recommended by NVIDIA for best results. 

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The new SHIELD Hub beta is available to SHIELD owners by following the link in NVIDIA's blog post here.  They also announced the addition of Bionic Commando to their library, playable at the new resolution.

Source: NVIDIA

Need another reason to try out Win10? How about live translation on Skype

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, win 8.1, translator, Skype Translator, skype, microsoft

The Skype Translator service has been available for users that signed up and were approved by Microsoft for testing.  It has now been made available for any and all users of Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 pre-release.  It can translate audio to and from English, Spanish, Italian or Mandarin in real time and can translate instant messages from another 50 languages.  You will of course need someone to call who speaks a different language from you to see how bad the eggcorns are but watching live translation is always impressive.  You can see it in action at The Inquirer and the link for the software is at the bottom of the article.

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"MICROSOFT HAS MADE its Skype Translator Preview available to all Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users."

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Source: The Inquirer

Remote door answering with the Ring

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2015 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: iot, ring, digital home, smart home

Ryan was impressed with Google's Nest Learning Digital Thermometre and recommended it a few years back as a great holiday gift, which is still true to this day.  A company called Ring is making inroads into the smart home market with their self titled second generation product.  Their original product was Doorbot, which some hated and many liked but which is nowhere near as interesting as the new Ring.  It is a 720p camera, with a motion sensor, microphone and speaker all powered by the small current provided by your existing doorbell circuits and a battery backup good for about a year.  It connects to your house and the Cloud via WiFi and is capable of not only ringing on your iOS7+ or Android 4.0+ phone but also to send the video so you can interact with whoever is at your front door even when you are away.  You may not be able to sign for packages remotely but barring that this can be very handy.  Read more at The Register.

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"Ring is enjoying that classic moment in a company's lifecycle when word has started getting out and orders are coming in at a rate that requires scaling up to the next level. And for good reason too. By all accounts, Ring the video doorbell is an impressive product, successfully navigating the path between hardware, software, smart phones and cloud services to deliver a genuinely innovative product with a real use-case."

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Source: The Register

COUGAR 600M, the gaming mouse that squeaks

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: input, Cougar, 600M, gaming mouse

The Cougar 600M Gaming Mouse does well at adding functionality without going to the extremes some other models have. The sensor can be set up to 8200 DPI and you can also adjust the USB polling rate from 125Hz to 1000Hz, a nice feature for those who want to be able to have complete control over their input.  Those who love LEDs will like that the software allows you to toggle the lighting between 16.8 million colours as well as programming the eight buttons as single functions or macros.  How well does it game?  Check out the full review at Overclockers Club.

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"The scroll wheel was an issue I only found from "longer" use, that I probably would not have noticed in a typical review testing time frame. After enough use, it started to squeak a bit, and in general make more noise. However, enough use later, and it's back to no squeak. It seems like it will be something that comes and goes. It still works, and that is most important."

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NVIDIA has mixed results for this first quarter

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2015 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, earnings, Q1 2015, billion

NVIDIA's reported revenue of $1.15 billion just missed the analysts predictions, they saw an increase of roughly 4% from Q1 2014 but an 8% drop compared to the last quarter of 2014 which saw the release of the GTX 970 and the usual spike in sales from the holidays.  However when you look at net income, there was a drop of 2.2% compared to a year ago.  GPU sales made up the bulk of the income and are doing well as that division increased sales by 14% from last year bring in revenue 4.7% higher than last year.  Mobile Tegra sales saw a similar increase of 4.3% but the same can not be said for their LTE division, the Icera LTE modem unit is now on the chopping block, to either be dissolved or sold off.  You can get more numbers from this story at The Register.

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"Nvidia has reported revenues of US$1.15 billion for the first quarter ended April 26, 2015, up 4% from US$1.10 billion a year earlier, but down 8% from US$1.25 billion the previous quarter."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #348 - DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Fiji, hbm, microsoft, build 2015, DirectX 12, Intel, SSD 750, freesync, gsync, Oculus, rift

PC Perspective Podcast #348 - 05/07/2015

Join us this week as we discuss DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

AMD has new APUs and new pricing for the ones already on the market

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, Carrizo-L, A8-7410, A6-7310, E2-7110, E1-7010, APU

AMD has provided information on their new Carrizo-L based 7000 series of chips featuring the A8-7410, A6-7310 and the A4-7210 as well as the E2-7110 and E1-7010.  The two E series chips replace the low powered Beema APS, the E1-6010 and E2-6110 which were found in All-in-One machines with the new E2-7110 being the first of that series to have four cores.  The other three models are new desktop chips with newer graphics cores, the full feature set you would expect and slightly higher TDPs than the E-Series.

The existing AMD A-Series Desktop APUs have seen a price reduction today with prices for the top end A10-7850K reduced to $127 with the low end A4-7300 costing a mere $42 which helps AMD's positioning as a supplier in the lower end of the market.  You can see the entire price list as well as some information about the new R300 series of GPUs in their post.

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"The AMD A-series APU are also the world’s best SoCs for DirectX 12, as independent testing showed a 41% framerate increase under DirectX 12 – read more in the AMD blog here. Additionally, using DirectX 12 the AMD A-series APU was able to demonstrate an incredible 511% increase in performance per watt.

Finally, with a suitably equipped AMD socket FM2+ motherboard featuring DisplayPort, AMD A-series APUs also support AMD FreeSync to deliver all the incredible experience benefits detailed in our AMD blog here."

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Source: AMD

Raptr's Top PC Games of March 2015

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

Raptr is an application that helps PC gamers by optimizing in-game settings, recording and streaming gameplay, and providing a chat service. Each month, they use their community data to compile a list of most played PC games over the previous month. This release concerns the month of March, 2015.

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The top five games rarely move, but the last two months are minor exceptions. In February, Diablo III kicked Smite out of fifth place, leaving League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive untouched above it. In March, DOTA 2 by Valve Software had its third place ranking usurped by their arch nemesis: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by Valve Software. That is the only change in the top five segment.

Looking at the bottom three-quarters, Dragon Age: Inquisition continued its descent right off the list, allowing PAYDAY 2 and Spider Solitaire to both re-enter the top twenty. (Apparently Spider Solitaire dropping by the list made Raptr “sad”. It has been absent since November 2014.) Battlefield 4 is down and War Thunder is up. Battlefield Hardline was only tracked for the first two weeks after its release, because we ran out of March, but it didn't even come close to the top twenty, placing 49th. It is attributed to Battlefield 4's decline, though.

StarCraft II being the only exception, four of Blizzard's five current titles are in the top ten most played games on the PC. With the Legacy of the Void beta going on, I wonder if they will achieve a five-for-five (or six-for-six if Overwatch is available by then) when the game fully releases, whenever that is.

Source: Raptr

GTA performance part 2 ... GPUs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, GTAV, 1440p, 4k, crossfire, sli

Last week [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance of GTAV on single GPU systems and this week comes the promised follow up featuring Crossfire and SLI, including the expensive Titan X.  With these high end setups, they tested 1440p and 4k performance as running these GPUs at 1080p is a crime against silicon.  At 1440p, the GTX 980 in SLI could handle more than a single Titan X though nowhere near what that card managed in SLI while on the AMD the 295X2 could keep up frame wise, but at the cost of some graphical extras.  At 4k resolutions, not even the mighty Titans could manage to run with all graphics options turned up, though it certainly did provide the best performance. AMD's GPUs lagged behind in performance however in scaling they were significantly better than NVIDIA's offerings, though there is still some room for improvement.  The real battle is at the $650 mark, you can choose between a pair of GTX 970's or a single R9 295X2 as they offer relatively similar performance but if you want the most out of GTAV you are going to have to pay much more than that.

You should also make sure to free up your calendar at the end of the month for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN Party #10 is coming up on the 30th!

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"This is Part 2 of our full evaluation of Grand Theft Auto V's video card gaming performance. In this part we dive into NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire highest playable gameplay settings and apples-to-apples at 1440p and 4K resolutions. We find out just what it takes to get the most out of GTA V at its highest settings."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The Oculus Rift is coming in early 2016, preorders before the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, crescent bay

Finally we have a release date for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift, some time in Q1 of 2016.  The 2012 Kickstarter lead to the first and second Developers kits which have been out for a while now but not generally available. The most recent news was back in September when John Carmack and others showed off the prototype Crescent Bay model.  The Dev Kit 2 model was provided for a cost of $350 to those who qualified which gives a rough benchmark of the cost of the consumer model when it goes on sale.  At this point Oculus has not provided much in the way of technical specifications but those will be coming in the very near future.  You can see quite a bit of information on the Oculus page about the current version, if you want to tease yourself before news about the consumer package is officially released.

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"The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as updated ergonomics for a more natural fit, and a highly refined industrial design. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be revealing the details around hardware, software, input, and many of our unannounced made-for-VR games and experiences coming to the Rift. Next week, we’ll share more of the technical specifications here on the Oculus blog"

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Source: Oculus

Say goodbye to Patch Tuesday

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: patch tuesday, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is showing off some of the new security features of Windows 10 and one of the announcements heralded the end of Patch Tuesday for everyone but Enterprise customers.  For consumers any device running Windows 10 could receive a patch at any time Microsoft approves it and pushes it out, apparently a shot across the bows at Google and their less than regular update schedule for mobile devices.  This could lead to some interesting and unexpected behaviour for devices if the patches cause problems on some systems as has happened in the past.  The patches can be distributed via peer-to-peer which will help those with limited bandwidth and time constraints, which you can read about at The Register along with information on the new Advanced Threat Analytics.

The Inquirer touches briefly on Windows Update for Business which will replace current patch distribution for the Enterprise and allow far more control on what gets updated, with which patches and when the installations will occur.

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"Ignite 2015 - Microsoft has shown off some of the new security mechanisms embedded in Windows 10, and revealed a change to its software updates."

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Source: The Register

HP Reinvents the AMD Desktop GPU line ... or at least leaks it

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: R9 380, R7 A360, R7 A330, leak, gpu, amd

HP announced their upcoming line up of desktops, including new Pavilions, ENVYs and a Spectre studio display with 4K resolution.  An astute reader noticed something else that they announced unintentionally, the models of three unreleased AMD GPUs.  The machines will be available starting on June 10th which even gives us a rough release time line.  The pricing does not reveal all that much as they reference the base models and so it is hard to know what, if any discrete GPU is in the base model.  

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The HP Pavilion All-in-One PCs will sport USB 3.0 and your choice of an AMD Radeon R7 A330 or an R7 A360.  As these are all in one PCs such as the one below you can expect these cards to represent the mid-range of AMD's upcoming lineup, though they could still put out a decent amount of power as the cooling in these systems is effective enough that HP offers models with Intel i7 and AMD A10 chips.

HPenvy.GIF

What most people will likely get excited about is in the HP ENVY and HP ENVY Phoenix Towers, the R9 380 which is offered as an alternative to the GTX 980.  These machines also offer USB 3.0 as well as an option for a 512GB SSD as opposed to a 3TB HDD.  The R9 380 will be powerful enough to handle the new 32" HP Spectre Studio Display, a 4K display with built in speakers and a viewing angle of 178° which implies an IPS display, albeit with an unknown refresh rate.

HPspectre.GIF

That is about all we know for now, but you can keep an eye out for more news about the R7 A330, R7 A360 and R9 380 right here.

Source: HP