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.

1401752020S1ZfWBGnjt_1_7_l.jpg

"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).

WD-SATAe-demo.jpg

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: 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.

ASUS_ROG_G20_Compact_Gaming_Desktop_PC.jpg

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.

ASUS_ROG_GR8_Gaming_Console_PC.jpg

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

NVIDIA Launches GeForce Experience 2.1

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 2, 2014 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, geforce experience, ShadowPlay

NVIDIA has just launched another version of their GeForce Experience, incrementing the version to 2.1. This release allows video of up to "2500x1600", which I assume means 2560x1600, as well as better audio-video synchronization in Adobe Premiere. Also, because why stop going after FRAPS once you start, it also adds an in-game framerate indicator. It also adds push-to-talk for recording the microphone.

nvidia-geforce-experience.png

Another note: when GeForce Experience 2.0 launched, it introduced streaming of the user's desktop. This allowed recording of OpenGL and windowed-mode games by simply capturing an entire monitor. This mode was not capable of "Shadow Mode", which I believed was because they thought users didn't want a constant rolling video to be taken of their desktop in the event that they wanted to save a few minutes of it at some point. Turns out that I was wrong; the feature was coming and it arrived with GeForce Experience 2.1.

GeForce Experience 2.1 is now available at NVIDIA's website, unless it already popped up a notification for you.

Source: NVIDIA

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.

gsync-logo.jpg

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

Computex 2014: ASUS PG278Q Is G-Sync and 144Hz at 1440p

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: g-sync, displays, display, computex 2014, computex, asus, 2560x1440, 144hz, 1440p

NVIDIA's G-Sync allows video cards to time the refresh rate of monitors. This is an advantage because the GPU knows when a frame is actually ready to be displayed to the user. The initial batch of announcements were each 1080p monitors, which are least likely to dip down into the 30-60Hz gap where G-Sync is noticeable.

asus-pg278q.jpg

Today at Computex, ASUS has announced a 27", 2560x1440, 144Hz G-Sync display. This higher resolution is starting to reach the point where faster graphics cards struggle to maintain 60 FPS. Not only that, but it is one of the first 1440p panels that you can get which supports high (over 100Hz) refresh rates, officially. Others exist, but "rare" is an understatement.

Its response rate is 1ms (GTG) which, unfortunately, suggests a TN panel. This might be a deal-breaker for some, but if you are looking for a G-Sync, 1440p, and high refresh rate panel, then it might be an acceptable compromise.

The ASUS PG278Q is available in Q2, which ASUS seems to define as the beginning of May to the end of July, for $799 USD. Unfortunately for AMD fans, the panel does not seem to support FreeSync, recently added to DisplayPort 1.2a. FreeSync, of course, is the competitor to G-Sync that AMD proposed to the VESA standards body.

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

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: Corsair's Cherry MX RGB Keyboards Launch

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: computex, Computer 2014

Cherry MX RGB key switches were teased since December but not yet made into a product. They generated interest by integrating red, green, and blue LEDs that, together, are capable of glowing any one of 16 million colors. Each key can even glow its own color and brightness independently, allowing users to color certain zones, with animation, if desired. Corsair had a year of exclusivity over this switch with their line of keyboards which they have done nothing with, so far.

Today, they announce that MX RGB switches will be available in four models:

  • K70 RGB Red, available in late July ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K70 RGB Blue, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K70 RGB Brown, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K95 RGB Red, available in late August ($189.99 MSRP)

If you happen to have wanted Cherry MX Blue or Brown, you will be looking at the K70 because the K95 RGB will only be available in Cherry MX RGB Red. Of course, that could change in future announcements but, even still, the main difference is the 18 macro keys. Honestly, though I have had several keyboards which offer these, I have never used mine. Then again, I also do not play MMOs or MOBAs so judge for yourself whether the extra keys are deal breakers.

VENG_K95_RGB_K_US_top.png

Corsair Vengeance K95 RGB

As usual, Corsair puts a lot of thought into their keyboards. Each one is based on an NKRO matrix which provides "100% anti-ghosting" (rant: more precisely, the keyboard is built well enough that it physically cannot ghost to require anti-ghosting). Even their first generation design aced my grueling test, where I spam the equivalent of several hundred words per minute as input and compare it to what the keyboard believes.

VENG_K70_RGB_K_US_top.png

Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB

Also announced, the M65 RGB Gaming Mouse. RGB LED lighting on a mouse is not as novel, but it will match your keyboard. That will be available late August for $69.99 MSRP.

All devices will come with a two (2) year warranty, which definitely gives confidence to someone considering peripherals in this price point.

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

Source: Corsair

Computex 2014: Corsair's Flash Voyager GTX USB

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, thumb drive, ssd, flash drive, corsair, computex 2014, computex

The Flash Voyager GTX is Corsair's attempt to be an SSD over USB 3.0. Differentiating itself from a standard USB flash drive, the Voyager GTX includes TRIM support, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and interfaces with USB Attached SCSI. It also comes in two, SSD-sized capacities, 128GB ($119.99) and 256GB ($199.99). These drives are rated at 450MB/s read and 350MB/s write.

FVGTX_open.png

This pricing structure puts the Voyager GTX against the Samsung 840 Pro, which is an interesting comparison to make. Both drives are backed by a five (5) year warranty and, while the 840 Pro has higher read bandwidth, the write speeds are fairly comparable. IOPS and write durability is not listed for the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX but, even if they are marginally behind, this has the advantage of USB.

Benchmarking should be interesting for this. I would be curious if this could lead to portable OS installations and abrupt boosts to Steam library sizes, both with SSD-like speeds.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0 drives will be available in July. The 128GB version has an MSRP of $119.99, while the 256GB is listed at $199.99.

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

Source: Corsair

Computex 2014: ASUS PA328Q 60Hz, Professional 4K Panel

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 2, 2014 - 03:20 AM |
Tagged: pq321q, PA328Q, displays, display, computex 2014, computex, asus, 4k

You might remember the ASUS PQ321Q 4K monitor from last year that we loved. It was based on an IGZO panel and allowed for 60Hz via one DisplayPort 1.2 cable, running in Multi Stream Transport (MST). At Computex 2014, ASUS announced the PA328Q. This "ProArt" panel ships calibrated and offers 10-bit, 100% sRGB color representation. More interestingly, it supports HDMI 2.0 as well as DisplayPort 1.2, for 4K at 60Hz, apparently over a single cable.

asus-pa328q-fixed.jpg

The monitor also has an extra mini DisplayPort connector and two HDMI 1.4 inputs. Also, four (4) USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack. I guess professionals like high-speed removable storage.

Some points that I would like to see clarified are:

  1. its Adobe RGB coverage (for printer color spaces)
  2. its panel type (I expect IGZO)
  3. and its pricing (and availability)...

I do not know how this fits in to the ASUS product stack, relative to the $3500 PQ321Q. It includes more modern connections and could hit the checkboxes for digital content creation at 4K. Its price might give us an idea about where it stands... or it might just blow our minds, one way or the other. For now, I don't know.

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

Source: ASUS

A Summary of the Recent Open Source Security News

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2014 - 04:04 AM |
Tagged: TrueCrypt, security, openssl, openssh, heartbleed

This week has been most notable for security, as previous news suggests. TrueCrypt, the popular file encryption suite, lost its developers when they wanted to call it quits -- right in the middle of its audit. While on that topic, OpenSSL is being given money and full-time developers, in response to the recent Heartbleed fiasco. OpenSSH and Network Time Protocol, and others in the future, are also being given love.

Yes, these are two separate pieces of news that are combined into a single article.

TrueCrypt_Logo.png

Earlier, we reported on TrueCrypt's mysterious implosion. The developers' alleged last advice, use closed source solutions or whatever comes up on a random package manager search, I considered too terrible to have been from them. Seriously, from "Trust No-One" to "Trust Who Knows". Just does not seem right...

Since the article, they have apparently been contacted and confirmed that the project is being shut down. That said, it seems like basically every source cites the third-party auditors and no-one else seemed to have direct contact with them -- so who knows. Regardless, the audit is apparently still going on and might lead to a usable fork maintained by someone else.

As for the second piece of news -- several other libraries are getting serious security audits. Apparently, The Linux Foundation has arranged for a long list of companies to commit $5.4 million, over three years, to audit and maintain these projects. As mentioned, OpenSSL, OpenSSH, and Network Time Protocol are the first three mentioned, but others will be included later. Also, that budget can increase as other companies and donors step up.

Currently, the donors are: Adobe, Amazon, Bloomberg, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Qualcomm, Rackspace, Salesforce, and VMware. Eighteen companies, each pledging $100,000 per year for three years.

All in all, it seems like the world is on the path to righting itself, somewhat.

Source: Ars Technica

Intel Announces "Cars Are Things" - with New Automotive Platform

Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2014 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: SoC, linux, internet of things, Intel, automotive, automation, atom

Imagine: You get into the family car and it knows that it’s you, so it adjusts everything just the way you like it. You start driving and your GPS is superimposed over the road in real time from within your windshield, with virtual arrows pointing to your next turn. Kids play games on their touchscreen windows in the back, and everyone travels safely as their cars anticipate accidents...

Sound far-fetched? Work is already being done to make things like these a reality, and Intel has now announced their stake in the future of connected, and eventually autonomous, automobiles.

IMG_20140530_101730.jpg

Intel's new automotive computing platform

Ensuring that every device in our lives is always connected seems like the goal of many companies going forward, and the “Internet of Things” is a very real, and rapidly growing, part of the business world. Intel is no exception, and since cars are things (as I’ve been informed) it makes sense to look in this area as well, right? Well, Intel has announced development of their automotive initiative, with the overall goal to create safer - and eventually autonomous - cars. Doug Davis, Corporate VP, Internet of Things Group at Intel, hosted the online event, which began with a video depicting automotive travel in a fully connected world. It doesn’t seem that far away...

"We are combining our breadth of experience in consumer electronics and enterprise IT with a holistic automotive investment across product development, industry partnerships and groundbreaking research efforts,” Davis said. “Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities.”

IMG_20140530_114529.jpg

So how exactly does this work? The tangible element of Intel’s vision of connected, computer controlled vehicles begins with the In-Vehicle Solutions Platform which provides Intel silicon to automakers. And as it’s an “integrated solution” Intel points out that this should cut time and expense from the current, more complex methods employed in assembling automotive computer systems. Makes sense, since they are delivering a complete Intel Atom based system platform, powered by the E3800 processor. The OS is Tizen IVI ("automotive grade" Linux). A development kit was also announced, and there are already companies creating systems using this platform, according to Intel.

Source: Intel

AMD and NVIDIA get into a hairy argument

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 07:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, dirty pool, business as usual, amd

The topic on NVIDIA Gameworks was discussed at great length on last night's PCPer Podcast and from the live comments as well as the comments on Ryan's original story this is obviously a topic which draws strong opinions.  As it is always best to limit yourself to debating topics of which you are familiar with the facts The Tech Report's article on the aftereffects of the Forbes story is well worth a read.  Cyril had a chance to speak with a rep from NVIDIA's driver development team about Hallock's comments pertaining to NVIDIA's Gameworks and the legitimacy of AMD's complaints.  As you might expect there is a lot of denial and finger pointing from both sides; what long time enthusiasts might describe as 'business as usual'.  Both sides of this argument have vehemently denied ever attempting to undermine each others business but yet both sides can point to specific instances in which the competition has used questionable methods to get a leg (or hair) up on the competition.  

6a00d8341c795b53ef010535c10aa8970b.jpg

"Earlier today, I spoke with Cem Cebenoyan, Director of Engineering for Developer Technology at Nvidia, who offered a rebuttal to a Forbes story we covered yesterday. In that story, AMD's Robert Hallock alleged that Nvidia's GameWorks program prevents AMD from working with game developers on GPU optimizations."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Podcast #302 - ASUS PB287Q 4K Monitor, NVIDIA and AMD's fight over GameWorks, Haswell-E Leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, asus, 4k, pb287q, nvidia, amd, gameworks, ubisoft, watch dogs, crucial, mx100, tegra k1, gsync

PC Perspective Podcast #302 - 05/29/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB287Q 4K Monitor, NVIDIA and AMD's fight over GameWorks, Haswell-E Leaks 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano

Program length: 1:29:01
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: For Josh - the Wenger Giant Knife
  4. Closing/outro

 

TrueCrypt Taken Offline Doesn't Pass My Smell Test

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: TrueCrypt

It should not pass anyone's smell test but it apparently does, according to tweets and other articles. Officially, the TrueCrypt website (which redirects to their SourceForge page) claims that, with the end of Windows XP support (??), the TrueCrypt development team wants users to stop using their software. Instead, they suggest a switch to BitLocker, Mac OSX built-in encryption, or whatever random encryption suite comes up when you search your Linux distro's package manager (!?). Not only that, but several versions of Windows (such as 7 Home Premium) do not have access to BitLocker. Lastly, none of these are a good solution for users who want a single encrypted container across multiple OSes.

A new version (don't use it!!!) called TrueCrypt 7.2 was released and signed with their private encryption key.

TrueCrypt_Logo.png

The developers have not denied the end of support, and its full-of-crap reason. (Seriously, because Microsoft deprecated Windows XP almost two months ago, they pull support for a two year old version now?)

They have also not confirmed it. They have been missing since at least "the announcement" (or earlier if they were not the ones who made it). Going missing and unreachable, the day of your supposedly gigantic resignation announcement, does not support the validity of that announcement. 

To me, that is about as unconfirmed as you can get.

Still, people are believing the claims that TrueCrypt 7.1a is not secure. The version has been around since February 2012 and, beyond people looking at its source code, has passed a significant portion of a third-party audit. Even if you believe the website, it only says that TrueCrypt will not be updated for security. It does not say that TrueCrypt 7.1a is vulnerable to any known attack.

In other words, the version that has been good enough for over two years, and several known cases of government agencies being unable to penetrate it, is probably as secure today as it was last week.

"The final version", TrueCrypt 7.2, is a decrypt-only solution. It allows users to unencrypt existing vaults, although who knows what else it does, to move it to another solution. The source code changes have been published, and they do not seem shady so far, but since we cannot even verify that their private key has not leaked, I wouldn't trust it. A very deep compromise could make finding vulnerabilities very difficult.

So what is going on? Who knows. One possibility is that they were targeted for a very coordinated hack, one which completely owned them and their private key, performed by someone(s) who spent a significant amount of time modifying a fake 7.2 version. Another possibility is that they were legally gagged and forced to shut down operations, but they managed to negotiate a method for users to decrypt existing data with a neutered build.

One thing is for sure, if this is a GoG-style publicity stunt, I will flip a couple of tables.

We'll see. ┻━┻ \_()_/ ┻━┻

Source: TrueCrypt

Watch this Dog run

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2014 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: watch_dogs, ubisoft, gaming

Watch_Dogs introduces us to a new game engine called Disrupt and uses NVIDIA's new GameWorks development platform to include HBAO+ as well as TXAA 2X and TXAA 4X.  That is not to say that AMD cards cannot run the game but you will need to be running  the 14.6 Beta driver the game prefers; Win 8.1 no longer required with the released vesrion.  AMD does benefit from its tendency to sport more VRAM as [H]ard|OCP saw some texture loading issues with the GTX 780 Ti and overall preferred the performance of the 290X.  Other sites have found rather different results, it is worth keeping an eye out for further investigations on what is happening.  You can also feast your eyes on [H]'s gallery of screenshots showing the differences in texture settings.

1401224279MyyhWfCPnN_1_6_l.png

"We have previewed the performance experienced in Watch Dogs, now it is time to preview image quality and look at some specific image quality differences. We will look at texture quality and the great differences between modes, anti-aliasing, and Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion effects, AKA HBAO."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

You unspeakable cad! How dare you upset those sensitve marketing types

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2014 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: idiots, data privacy

How dare you choose not to use all of those wonderful tools marketers provide you with to share your thoughts and have your purchases and opinions added to their databases so that they can provide you with personalized ads!  If you just email or heavens forbid, share your opinions face to face, you are part of Dark Social and are undermining the social media establishment dominated by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google.  How can you chose to not let your life be dictated by social media but instead share your thoughts off the grid?  Follow the link at The Register to read about this brand new threat to advertisers that involves the use of email and interpersonal relationships instead of easily trackable social media tools.  The next time you want to go on a date you had better Instagram your outfit choice and crowd source your plans for the evening or else you are a part of the problem!

index.jpg

"If you're old enough, you'll remember that if you wanted to tell a friend – or a group of friends – about an interesting link, you'd e-mail them either the whole text or a link to it. Congratulations: courtesy of the reptiles of marketing, you're now lumped into a nasty bunch of users called “dark social”."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Futuremark Announces 3DMark Sky Diver Benchmark

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 28, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: benchmarking, 3dmark

HELSINKI, FINLAND – May 28, 2014 – Futuremark today announced 3DMark Sky Diver, a new DirectX 11 benchmark test for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs. 3DMark Sky Diver is the ideal test for benchmarking systems with mainstream DirectX 11 graphics cards, mobile GPUs, or integrated graphics. A preview trailer for the new benchmark shows a wingsuited woman skydiving into a mysterious, uncharted location. The scene is brought to life with tessellation, particles and advanced post-processing effects. Sky Diver will be shown in full at Computex from June 3-7, or find out more on the Futuremark website.

Jukka Mäkinen, Futuremark CEO said, "Some people think that 3DMark is only for high-end hardware and extreme overclocking. Yet millions of PC gamers rely on 3DMark to choose systems that best balance performance, efficiency and affordability. 3DMark Sky Diver complements our other tests by providing the ideal benchmark for gaming laptops and mainstream PCs."

3DMark - The Gamer's Benchmark for all your hardware
3DMark is the only benchmark that offers a range of tests for different classes of hardware:

  • Fire Strike, for high performance gaming PCs (DirectX 11, feature level 11)
  • Sky Diver, for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs (DirectX 11, feature level 11)
  • Cloud Gate, for notebooks and typical home PCs (DirectX 11 feature level 10)
  • Ice Storm, for tablets and entry level PCs (DirectX 11 feature level 9)

With 3DMark, you can benchmark the full performance range of modern DirectX 11 graphics hardware. Where Fire Strike is like a modern game on ultra high settings, Sky Diver is closer to a DirectX 11 game played on normal settings. This makes Sky Diver the best choice for benchmarking entry level to mid-range systems and Fire Strike the perfect benchmark for high performance gaming PCs.

See 3DMark Sky Diver in full at Computex
3DMark Sky Diver will be on display on the ASUS, MSI, GIGABYTE, Galaxy, Inno3D, and G-Skill booths at Computex, June 3-7.

S.Y. Shian, ASUS Vice President & General Manager of Notebook Business Unit said,

"We are proud to partner with Futuremark to show 3DMark Sky Diver at Computex. Sky Diver helps PC gamers choose systems that offer great performance and great value. We invite everyone to visit our stand to experience 3DMark Sky Diver on a range of new ASUS products."

unnamed.jpg

Sky Diver will be released as an update for all editions of 3DMark, including the free 3DMark Basic Edition. 

Source: Futuremark

HP 7 Plus: HP Is Selling a Tablet at $99, Legitimately

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 27, 2014 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: tablet, HP 7 Plus, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer

Years ago, HP purchased Palm with the intention of producing tablets based on WebOS. After a very short time on the market, the company pulled the plug and liquidated their stock for $99. These tablets, of course, sold instantly. Now, HP has developed an Android tablet which actually intends to be sold at that $99 price point.

hp-7-plus.png

Called the HP 7 Plus, this tablet has a quad-core SoC from Allwinner Technology, based on the low-power ARM Cortex A7 architecture. This is the architecture that you often see paired with Cortex A15 cores in their "big.LITTLE" arrangement. Complementing this processor is 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, 640x480 front-facing and 2MP rear-facing cameras, and about five (5) hours of battery life. It is capable of Miracast over WiFi, which is an impressive feature for its price.

The operating system is Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean. While this is not the most recent distribution of Android, it should definitely serve users looking for an under-$100 tablet. Seriously, this space is huge and often a crap shoot in terms of reliability. If HP released a decent device, it could be a winner.

The HP 7 Plus is apparently available now, but out of stock, for $99.99. I do not know whether they already released and sold out immediately, or if it is still waiting on its first shipment.

Source: HP

Just Delivered: EVGA Torq X10 Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | May 27, 2014 - 12:19 AM |
Tagged: mouse, laser mouse, gaming mouse, evga

It has been a while since I reviewed hardware and, when I did, they were all keyboards. Being a southpaw, it is fairly difficult to review higher-end mice. When offered to review the EVGA Torq X10 Gaming Mouse, I noticed that it is a (nearly) symmetric design with nine (9) buttons: five (5) on the top, two (2) on the left for right-handed thumbs, and two (2) more, identical buttons on the right for left-handed thumbs.

delivered-front.jpg

Of course, the off-hand buttons can still be used for time-insensitive commands, like pinging the map of a strategy game. Personally, I tend to rebind mouse sensitivity to the pinky-buttons and rebind what is usually meant for DPI adjustments to pinging maps or, on games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, fly up and down (for the UAV).

delivered-back-contents.jpg

A quick unboxing shows the underside of the mouse, an accessory pouch made out of paper with a getting started guide and what looks to be sticker-based grips, a plastic bag of weights, and that metal thing beside the mouse is a torx screwdriver. This screwdriver is what will be used to customize the palm angle by turning its adjustment at the rear of the mouse.

While I have not yet plugged it in, I did play around with its grip adjustment. You probably will not notice its effects unless you are looking for it, but it does result in significant changes to the touch. I will discuss this, and its other features, more in my upcoming full review.

As for pricing, EVGA is currently accepting pre-orders through Newegg. The base version is available for $49.99 (pre-order price, $99.99 MSRP) with a "carbon fiber" version, an identical mouse outside of the surface material, also on pre-order for $69.99 (pre-order price, $129.99 MSRP). It is unclear whether they will ever make it up to their MSRP but, if they do, an almost half-price pre-order (with a free mouse pad if you pre-order, register your mouse, and upload your invoice, apparently) is pretty gigantic.

It is expected to ship in a month (late June). I hope to have at least a preliminary review, if not a full one, up with time left for pre-orders.

Source: EVGA

AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Driver Now Available, Adds Mixed Resolution Eyefinity

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 27, 2014 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon, R9, R7, eyefinity, amd

AMD has just launched their Catalyst 14.6 Beta drivers for Windows and Linux. This driver will contain performance improvements for Watch Dogs, launching today in North America, and Murdered: Soul Suspect, which arrives next week. On Linux, the driver now supports Ubuntu 14.04 and its installation process has been upgraded for simplicity and user experience.

amd-146-eyefinity.png

Unless performance improvements are more important to you, the biggest feature is the support for Eyefinity with mixed resolutions. With Catalyst 14.6, you no longer need a grid of identical monitors. One example use case, suggested by AMD, is a gamer who purchases an ultra-wide 2560x1080 monitor. They will be able to add a pair of 1080p monitors on either side to create a 6400x1080 viewing surface.

amd-146-eyefinity2.png

If the monitors are very mismatched, the driver will allow users to letterbox to the largest rectangle contained by every monitor, or "expand" to draw the largest possible rectangle (which will lead to some assets drawing outside of any monitor). A third mode, fill, behaves like Eyefinity currently does. I must give AMD a lot of credit for leaving the choice to the user.

Returning to performance with actual figures, AMD claims "up to" 25% increases in Watch Dogs at 1080p or 28% at 1600p, compared to the previous version. The new CrossFire profile also claims up to 99% scaling in that game, at 2560x1600 with 8x MSAA. Murdered: Soul Suspect will see "up to" 16% improvements on a single card, and "up to" 93% scaling. Each of these results were provided by AMD, which tested on Radeon R9 290X cards. If these CrossFire profiles (well, first, are indicative of actual performance, and) see 99% scaling across two cards, that is pretty remarkable.

amd-146-jpeg.png

A brief mention, AMD has also expanded their JPEG decoder to Kabini. Previously, it was available to Kaveri, as of Catalyst 14.1. This allows using the GPU to display images, with their test showing a series of images being processed in about half of the time. While not claimed by AMD, I expect that the GPU will also be more power-efficient (as the processor can go back to its idle state much quicker, despite activitating another component to do so). Ironically, the three images I used for this news post are encoded in PNG. You might find that amusing.

AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Drivers should be now available at their download site.

Source: AMD