Win Free Stuff! YouTube Contest with Linus Tech Tips and Hardware Canucks

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2013 - 10:05 PM |
Tagged: video, contest, giveaway

I don't want to spoil anything, but if you haven't gone to our YouTube channel today you are missing out on one of the most interesting giveaways ever hosted at PC Perspective.  Partnering with Linus Tech Tips and Hardware Canucks, you could win a prize pack that includes:

  • MSI Radeon R9 290 Graphics Card
  • Koolance R9 290 water block
  • Caselabs Mercury S5 case with custom water cooling kit
  • Intel Core i5-4670K processor

Pretty awesome, isn't it?  The rules are pretty simple.  Watch the video below and visit the YouTube video page for all the details!

Bitcoin StarCraft Challenge Right Now!

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2013 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: Starcraft II, esports, bitcoin

Update: The main series prize pool was increased to 14 BTC in addition to 1 BTC for the intro match.

So Bitcoins are becoming popular and a legitimate currency. TotalBiscuit decided to create a StarCraft 2 tournament where they are the prize. At the time of the announcement, the 12 Bitcoin prize was valued at about $10,000. Currently, after a little issue in China, it is worth about $7000 to $8000 USD. The English casters are TotalBiscuit and IdrA with several other languages provided including Portuguese and Vietnamese.

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The headlining act is Scarlett versus NaNiwa in a best of 7 matchup. Also, they just announced an opening act for a single Bitcoin prize: iNcontroL versus Destiny in a best of 3. The latter pairing are two very comedic personalities. iNcontroL was a prominent player in the Starcraft: Brood War era while Destiny got popular in the StarCraft 2 Beta through Wings of Liberty.

Still no MULEs to mine Bitcoins though.

The stream is running now at TotalBiscuit's Twitch account.

The VoDs will be available later at his Youtube. Update: The specific playlist is here.

Read on after the teaser break for spoilers as we update throughout the event. Update: The match is now over. The full article contains summaries of each game.

Source: TotalBiscuit

Steam Holiday Sale on Amazon - Day 1

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2013 - 10:09 PM |
Tagged: steam, steam sale, amazon

In case you hadn't heard yet, Steam is holding their annual Holiday Sale on PC games.  What you probably didn't know though is that Amazon has committed to matching prices with the Steam sale!  Now, the Amazon sales will just give you Steam keys that you can use in Steam, so what's the point?   Well it makes it easier to combine with other purchases you may be making for the holidays and it also happens to support PC Perspective at the same.

What's not to love!?

Here are some of the best sales we found on the Steam Holiday Sale through Amazon!  Keep in mind that deals will change frequently so buy them quickly if you find one you want!

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It's like you don't even want us to like you Win 8

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2013 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: win 8.1, pixel, high ppi

In their latest commentary The Tech Report looks at the nasty way that Win 8.1 renders its GUI on high pixel per inch displays, for instance the majority of high end laptops.  1366x768 panels don't look to bad but if you were to pick up a 13.3" 1920x1080 laptop or for that matter a reasonably sized 4k display you are going to notice blurry text and icons as Win 8.1 is not great at recognizing and scaling for monitors with dense pixels.  Some 3rd party applications are better than others but for the most part you are going to feel like you are starting to lose your sight.  They offer some workarounds that mitigate the issue somewhat, but like proper mouse support this is something the new flavour of Windows really should have gotten right immediately.

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"Displays with high pixel densities are pretty much standard in tablets, and we're all waiting for them to become standard in notebooks. Take a trip to your local Best Buy, though, and chances are a majority of systems in the laptop aisle will have 1366x768 panels—even large notebooks that really have no business with a display resolution that low."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Dell UltraSharp U2913WM 29" 2560 x 1080 LED-backlit Monitor @ $500 with Free Shipping

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2013 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: deals

The Dell UltraSharp U2913WM is one of those rare 21:9 aspect ratio screens, sporting a 2560 x 1080 resolution and offering comparable screen real estate to two smaller displays thanks to it's 29" screen.   The ghosting on this IPS monitor is minimal and the input lag is acceptable which makes it a good choice for gamers as well as for productivity.  You are going to need some space if you want multiple screens though, a triple U29WM setup will be 7' of screen!

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Source: LogicBUY

Some Strong AMD FirePro Results in SPECviewperf 12

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 19, 2013 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, SPECviewperf

SPECviewperf 12 is a benchmark for workstation components that attempts to measure performance expected for professional applications. It is basically synthetic but is designed to quantify how your system can handle Maya, for instance. AMD provided us with a press deck of some benchmarks they ran leading to many strong FirePro results in the entry to mid-range levels.

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They did not include high-end results which they justify with the quote, "[The] Vast majority of CAD and CAE users purchase entry and mid-range Professional graphics boards". That slide, itself, was titled, "Focusing Where It Matters Most". I will accept that but I assume they did the benchmarks and wonder if it would have just been better to include them.

The cards AMD compared are:

  • Quadro 410 ($105) vs FirePro V3900 ($105)
  • Quadro K600 ($160) vs FirePro V4900 ($150)
  • Quadro K2000 ($425) vs FirePro W5000 ($425)
  • Quadro K4000 ($763) vs FirePro W7000 ($750)

In each of the pairings, about as equally-priced as possible, AMD held decent lead throughout eight tests included in SPECviewperf 12. You could see the performance gap leveling off as prices begun to rise, however.

Obviously a single benchmark suite should be just one data-point when comparing two products. Still, these are pretty healthy performance numbers.

Source: AMD

Podcast #281 - NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2013 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: video, ROG, podcast, nvidia, mars 760, gtx 760, gsync, DirectCU II, aus, 290x

PC Perspective Podcast #281 - 12/19/2013

Join us this week as we discuss our NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs 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 Malventano and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:38:13
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:04:00 Intel Roadmap Leaks
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

 

Alienware Aurora r4 Desktop (Liquid-cooled) with Dual GTX 680 @ $2200 with free shipping

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2013 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: deals

Looking for the easiest way to get a powerful gaming machine and have more money that patience?  The Alienware Aurora r4 is a custom built watercooled PC with a fairly impressive list of internals.  From the Core i7-4820K @ 3.7GHz and 16GB of DDR3 to the pair of GTX 680's in SLI you will be able to play most new games at the highest settings.  Storage is handled by a 3TB drive so you might want to consider getting an SSD and reloading the included Win7 64-bit Home onto it.

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Source: LogicBUY

Hardcoreware Reviews Intel Core i3-4340

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 19, 2013 - 04:05 AM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell

In another review from around the net, Carl Nelson over at Hardcoreware tested the dual-core (4 threads) Intel Core i3-4340 based on the Haswell architecture. This processor slides into the $157 retail price point with a maximum frequency of 3.6GHz and an Intel HD 4600 iGPU clocked at 1150MHz. Obviously this is not intended as top-end performance but, of course, not everyone wants that.

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Image Credit: Hardcoreware

One page which I found particularly interesting was the one which benchmarked Battlefield 4 rendering on the iGPU. The AMD A10 6790K (~$130) had slightly lower 99th percentile frame time (characteristic of higher performance) but slightly lower average frames per second (characteristic of lower performance). The graph of frame times shows that AMD is much more consistent than Intel. Perhaps the big blue needs a little Fame Rating? I would be curious to see what is causing the pretty noticeable (in the graph, at least) stutter. AMD's frame pacing seems to be very consistent albeit this is obviously not a Crossfire scenario.

If you are in the low-to-mid $100 price point be sure to check out his review. Also, of course, Kaveri should be coming next month so that is something to look out for.

Source: Hardcoreware

Valve Releases Steamworks API for Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 19, 2013 - 03:42 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is a gamepad where touch replaces analog joysticks. Developed internally at Valve, its design focused on being a comfortable gaming accessory which did not compromise on the accuracy allowed by an absolute position-based input device (ie: a mouse). Velocity-based inputs, such as thumbsticks, have the hand-eye and/or timing problem where we need feedback to know when to cease giving input to actually stop. It is a lot easier to make a good estimate of how far to move your hand (or finger, or eye) and perform that action without further feedback necessary.

It is just how we behave.

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Valve is very confident in their design and believes that it is accurate enough to emulate a mouse. In fact, most games (if and until the Steam Controller gains traction) will be operating in "Legacy Mode" which emulates a mouse and keyboard. They are requesting that the community develop many shared profiles, on a game-by-game basis, to give a large catalog of known configurations by the time the device ships publicly.

But what about the not "Legacy Mode"? The main announcement is that Valve has shipped the controller's Steamworks API to allow developers direct access to its hardware. In other words, rather than emulate a mouse and keyboard, the developer can use the hardware in the way they see fit. Of course this will be most useful for the touchscreen (if a blank 4-quadrant button is insufficient) and the haptic feedback but can also mean new methods of emulating the velocity-based input of a gamepad.

Remember, I said velocity input is less accurate for things like rapid rotation between randomly oriented targets. Flight games often prefer long continuous input which are great for joysticks and thumbsticks. Simply put, traditional gamepads are "better" at certain things (driving games, flight games, third-person games where accuracy is not important but quickly pressing one of four-or-so commands is, etc.). Many developers will want this controller to solve those problems, too.

Keep an eye out at Steam Universe for more updates like these; they occur rapidly as of late.

Video Perspective: Topre Type Heaven Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2013 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: video, Type Heaven, topre, keyboard

I don't consider myself a keyboard guru, but I sure do go through a lot of them in my line of work.  At any of five different workstations in our office I'll be using a different keyboard.  And we tend to interchange them often enough that I would guess I have typed on as many as 15 different keyboards this year.  Some for longer periods of time than others of course, but the ones that make it to my main desk get quite a workout.

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When our friends at Seasonic told us they wanted to send along a Topre Type Heaven keyboard for us to try out, I told them to feel free; but in my head I was thinking "oh geez another keyboard."  Turns out I didn't give this brand and this keyboard enough credit out the gate.

(Note: Seasonic is the official distributor of the Topre keyboard brand in the US now and offers a 2 year warranty on the units!)

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With a price tag of $150 on Amazon.com, there are going to quite of few of you that just instantly turn off.  Understandable.  Others though will appreciate the need for a high quality input device if you do any appreciable amount of typing for work or pleasure.  Using a technology called electrostatic capacitive key switches, Topre combines benefits of Cherry and standard membrane keyboards in one package.

Check out my video above for some sound comparison as well as my thoughts on using the keyboard long term.  Not to spoil it: but I'm keeping this keyboard on my desk despite me missing the multimedia controls of my previous keyboard. 

Check below for more photos of the Topre Type Heaven keyboard!!

Alienware 14 Gaming Laptop w/ GeForce GT 750M @ $980 with Free Shipping

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2013 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: deals

Today's Alienware 14 deal is for a 14" 1080p laptop with quite a bit inside of it's compact chassis.  A core i7-4700MQ, 8GB DDR3-1600 and a 1GB GeForce GTX 750M offer decent performance and connectivity includes Bluetooth and a KillerNIC handling WiFi. Storage is a 750GB 7200RPM HDD and a DVD Burner you can upgrade to a BlueRay if you so desire.   It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed.  More powerful and expensive units also available by following the link.

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Source: LogicBUY

AMD's plans for 2014

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2013 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: amd, 2014, beema, Kabini, FS1B

DigiTimes has put together an overview of AMD's plans to take back market share over the coming year, though of course AMD is not confirming or denying the accuracy of their report.  First off will be the coming of the 28nm Kaveri family in January with availability planned to follow quickly.  Beema, which will be based on the Puma+ architecture should arrive in the summer but there is also a Kabini-based series for the new socket, FS1B, which will get limited release in some areas.  FS1B will be used for up coming Sempron and Athlon models designed for low power usage scenarios though don't expect to see AM3+ or FM2 disappear any time soon.  You will have to wait for 2015 before Carrizo and Nolan make an appearance.

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"AMD has been enhancing the marketing of its processors in DIY markets and aims to increase its global DIY market share from about 30% currently to 40%, and to reach a DIY market share above 45% in China in particular, at the end of 2014, according to Taiwan-based motherboard makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

ASUS Announced GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II Graphics Card

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 18, 2013 - 04:25 AM |
Tagged: GeForce GTX 780 Ti, DirectCU II, asus

There has not been too many custom coolers for top-end NVIDIA graphics cards as of late. Starting with the GeForce GTX 690, NVIDIA allegedly demands AIB partners stick to the reference designs for certain models. Obviously, this is a problem as it limits the innovation realized by partners when they are forced to compete on fewer metrics (although the reference designs were pretty good regardless). This is especially true because the affected models are the upper high-end where pricing is more flexible if the product is worth it.

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This is apparently not the case for the top end GTX 780 Ti. ASUS has just announced the GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II graphics card. ASUS claims this will lead to 30% cooler operating with 3x less noise. A 6% bump to performance (as measured in Battlefield 4) will accompany that cooler and quieter operation as the full GK110 GPU will boost to 1020MHz.

ASUS makes custom GPUs for both AMD and NVIDIA. Be sure to check out our review of another high-end DirectCU II card, with 100% less NVIDIA, very soon. It will definitely be a great read and maybe even an excellent podcast topic.

Source: ASUS

GeForce Experience 1.8.1 Released with Twitch Streaming

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 17, 2013 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, ShadowPlay, geforce experience

Another update to GeForce Experience brings another anticipated ShadowPlay feature. The ability to stream live gameplay to Twitch, hardware accelerated by Kepler, was demoed at the NVIDIA event in Montreal from late October. They showed Batman Origins streaming at 1080p 60FPS without capping or affecting the in-game output settings.

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GeForce Experience 1.8.1 finally brings that feature, in beta of course, to the general public. When set up, Alt + F8 will launch the Twitch stream and Alt + F6 will activate your webcam. Oh, by the way, one feature they kept from us (or at least me) is the ability to overlay your webcam atop your gameplay.

Nice touch NVIDIA.

Of course the upstream bandwidth requirements of video are quite high: 3.5Mbps on the top end, a more common 2Mbps happy medium, and a 0.75Mbps minimum. NVIDIA has been trying to ensure that your machine will not lag but there's nothing a GPU can do about your internet connection.

GeForce Experience 1.8.1 is available now at the GeForce website.

Dell U2414H UltraSharp 24" 1080p IPS Monitor @ $262.49 with Free Shipping

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2013 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: deals

Dell's U2414H has something special for multi-monitor users, a bezel that is a mere 6.05mm thick!  At 1080p it isn't as impressive as the UP2414Q but also won't break your bank account or require at least two GPUs to power it.  It is an IPS display so the rated 8ms g2g response rate is believable and should fit your gaming needs quite adequately. 

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Source: LogicBUY

The Heisenbug is here; Fedora 20 arrives

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2013 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, heisenbug

Fedora 20 in a variety of flavours has arrived for anyone interested in trying out the newest version of this long standing Linux distro.  They have native support for just about any desktop environment you could want without the need to release separate versions for each.  It also offers full support for ARM processors, either small devices or multitudes of processors strung together into something a little more powerful.  If you are uncertain about how much you trust the new OS, follow the comments at Slashdot to see what challenges people have encountered.

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"The Fedora Project has announced the release of Fedora 20, code named Heisenbug (release notes). Fedora 20 is dedicated to Seth Vidal, the lead developer of Yum and the Fedora update repository, who recently died in a road accident. Gnome is the default DE of Fedora, and so it is for Fedora 20. However unlike Ubuntu (where they had to create different distros for each DE) Fedora comes with KDE, XFCE, LXDE and MATE. You can install the DE of your choice on top of base Fedora."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Intel Broadwell-EP Xeon E5 v4 Because Why Not?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 16, 2013 - 09:17 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-EP, Broadwell-EP, Broadwell

Intel has made its way on to our news feed several times over the last few days. The ticking and the tocking seem to be back on schedule. Was Intel held back by the complexity of 14nm? Was it too difficult for them to focus on both high-performance and mobile development? Was it a mix of both?

VR-Zone, who knows how to get a hold of Intel slides, just leaked details about Broadwell-EP. This product line is predicted to replace Haswell-EP at some point in the summer of 2015 (they expect right around Intel Developer Forum). They claim it will be Intel's first 14nm Xeon processor which obviously suggests that it will not be preceded by Broadwell in the lower performance server categories.

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Image Credit: VR-Zone

Broadwell-EP will have up to 18 cores per socket (Hyper-Threading allows up to 36 threads). Its top level cache, which we assume is L3, will be up to 45MB large. TDPs will be the same as Haswell-EP which range from 70W to 145W for server parts and from 70W to 160W for workstations. The current parts based on Ivy Bridge, as far as I can tell, peak at 150W and 25MB of cache. Intel will apparently allow Haswell and Broadwell to give off a little more heat than their predecessors. This could be a very good sign for performance.

VR-Zone expects that a dual-socket Broadwell-EP Xeon system could support up to 2TB of DDR4 memory. They expect close to 1 TFLOP per socket of double precision FP performance. This meets or exceeds the performance available by Kaveri including its GPU. Sure, the AMD solution will be available over a year earlier and cost a fraction of the multi-thousand-dollar server processor, but it is somewhat ridiculous to think that a CPU has the theoretical performance available to software render the equivalent of Battlefield 4's medium settings without a GPU (if the software was written with said rendering engine, which it is not... of course).

This is obviously two generations off as we have just received the much anticipated Ivy Bridge-E. Still, it is good to see that Intel is keeping themselves moving ahead and developing new top-end performance parts for enthusiasts and high-end servers.

Source: VR-Zone

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Exhibition Match for Bitcoins!

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2013 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: Starcraft II, HoTS, bitcoin

Bitcoin Starcraft Challenge is a show match between Scarlett, the Zerg player from Canada, and NaNiwa, the Protoss player from Sweden. These are two of the best 25 players in the world and, with TLO, the only top-25 players from outside of South Korea (although they each spent substantial time training there at some point).

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Of course the interesting part is that they are playing for Bitcoins, 12 of them, which has a value of roughly $10,000 USD. Thankfully there is no Terrans to drop MULEs otherwise the whole economy would collapse (I troll, they are balanced all things considered).

TotalBiscuit and other (currently TBD) announcers will commentate the event, this Saturday, at noon EST. The event will be best of 7 and streamed by TotalBiscuit on Twitch; the VoDs will be later available on his Youtube page. It should be a very interesting event.

This will probably be the most efficient way to acquire Bitcoins with your GPU for quite some time.

Source: TeamLiquid

Dell Inspiron 17 900p Core i3 Laptop w/ Windows 7 & 2GB Radeon HD 8650M @ $500 with Free Shipping

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: deals

Need a laptop for school but are on a tight budget?  This Dell Inspiron 17 contains i3-3227U and a 500GB HDD along with 4GB DDR-1600, unfortunately shipping with a single DIMM but offering the chance of a future doubling of RAM.  Add in an HD 8650M and you can even get some light gaming in after finals.

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Source: LogicBUY