Acer Cloudbook Windows 10 PCs in August

Subject: Systems | July 24, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: acer, cloudbook, Chromebook

If you think about price when you think about Chromebooks, then Microsoft is hoping to have options in Windows 10 for you. Laptops that boot into a web browser still have interesting security and ease-of-use implications, which this will not address. From the previously mentioned cost standpoint though, full-featured Windows laptops can get down to those levels, especially when Microsoft helps out on the OS license fees.

acer-2015-chromebook-forcloudbookstory.png

This is the more-expensive Chromebook running Google Chrome OS.

Acer will launch their Cloudbook line in August, with 11-inch and 14-inch versions, starting at $169. While you can get Chromebooks for $149, Acer's Chromebook 11 is currently selling for $179.99, which puts the Windows 10 model $10 cheaper than it. On the other hand, we don't know anything about the system specifications. It is possible that the Cloudbook could have less than an Intel Celeron with HD Graphics and 2GB of RAM -- but we hope not.

The Acer Cloudbook will not make Microsoft's July 29th launch date of Windows. Instead, as previously stated, look for it some time in August. Prices start at $169 USD.

Source: ZDnet

Thinking of building a new system for summer?

Subject: Systems | July 21, 2015 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: recommedations, system build

While the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard is a great resource for those looking to build a new system sometimes a second opinion is warranted, especially if you are looking for a workhorse instead of a gaming rig.  The Tech Report just published their current recommendations for system builds, updating the Budget, Sweet Spot and High End suggestions as well as offering sample builds at the end.   Feel free to mix and match recommendations from TR and our own but make sure to do a bit of homework if you do to make sure your components are compatible.

cpu-socket.jpg

"In this edition of our System Guide, we update our recommendations to account for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti and AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X graphics cards. The Breadbox Mini-ITX build makes a return for the college-bound."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Small in stature, big in performance; CyberPower's Infinity Xtreme Cube

Subject: Systems | June 30, 2015 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: Infinity Xtreme Cube, Cyberpower

The impressively name Infinity Xtreme Cube from CyberPower is a rather impressive machine and not just because of their use of a 400GB Intel 750 M.2 PCIe SSD for storage.  The system is built on a Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 with an i7-5820K processor, 16GB of HyperX DDR4-2400 in quad channel and a GTX 970 for video, not to mention the pair of 1TB HDDs in RAID0 for long term storage.  The components are housed in a Corsair Air 240 case 470x343x381mm (18.5x13.5x15") in size, not the easiest case to install your components in which makes it nice that someone does it for you.  You pay for the configuration and three year warranty but for those who want a working system to arrive at their door this review at Kitguru is worth looking at.  Hopefully based on the review CyberPower will make a slight change to the UEFI settings in future, changing the PCIe slot Configuration from AUTO to GEN3.

AS7V0517.jpg

"Today we look at a powerful, yet diminutive new system from UK system builder CyberPower called the Infinity Xtreme Cube. This system is built around the Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 motherboard – installed inside the tiny Corsair Air 240 chassis."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: KitGuru

Lenovo Introduces ThinkCentre Stick: Intel Bay Trail Micro-PC for $129

Subject: Systems | June 23, 2015 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: Z3735F, Lenovo, Intel, ideacentre stick, compute stick, Bay Trail

Lenovo has announced their own version of an Intel Compute Stick, the ThinkCentre Stick, and this tiny Intel Bay Trail computer will be slightly cheaper than Intel's reference platform with an MSRP of $129.

ideacentre-stick-0.png

Full specs won't surprise anyone who's read our review of the Intel Compute Stick:

  • Processor: Intel Bay Trail Z3735F (quad-core, up to 1.83 GHz)
  • Memory: Up to 2 GB
  • Storage: Up to 32 GB
  • Wireless: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1 x HDMI, 1 x Micro
  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 with Bing or Windows 10
  • Dimensions (W x D x H) 100 x 38 x 15 mm (3.94" x 1.50" x 0.59")

We aren't breaking any new ground here, but seeing more vendors offering products based on Intel's micro-PC platform will only help drive down the price. Lenovo explains the product this way:

"For the wallet friendly starting price of US $129, this plug and play technology can transform almost any HDMI compatible TV or monitor into a fully functioning Windows-based PC. The ideacentreTM Stick 300 does not look like a traditional computer, but it performs like one once a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard and mouse are added."

ideacentre-stick-1.png

The ThinkCentre Stick will be available in July for $129 US.

Source: Lenovo

Low Cost Braswell NUC Incoming - Intel NUC NUC5CPYH for $129

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2015 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: NUC5CPYH, nuc, N3050, Intel, Braswell

A reader sent in a link to a new listing on Amazon.com this morning that points to an as-yet-unreleased Intel NUC product, the Intel NUC5CPYH. This model will include a Celeron N3050 processor, which as listed by Intel's Ark site, is a dual-core, non-HyperThreaded processor with a base clock rate of 1.6 GHz and a maximum Burst frequency of 2.16 GHz. It has a rated TDP of 6 watts with a Scenario Design Power rating (typical usage)  of 4 watts.

braswellnuc-2.jpg

Image from Fanlesstech.com

The Intel Braswell platform (also known as Cherry Trail) is a refresh of the Atom lineup and a follow up to the Bay Trail set of parts using Airmont CPU cores (a minor upgrade over  the  Silvermont architecture). Even though Intel already has ~4-6 watt TDP part in the form of the Core M series using the Broadwell architecture, the cost difference is the big change here. The tray price for the Celeron N3050 is $107 while the Core M 5Y10 sells for $281.

Implications for performance should be substantial and you won't find the Braswell platform lighting up benchmark scores or besting the Core M series. But it might provide enough performance for small form factor PC users, point of sale systems and more. All of this results in a bare bones price point of just $129 for the Intel NUC5CPYH.

I'm sure we'll get details in the coming days, but this model supports 4K display output via HDMI (though I'm not sure if its 60 Hz or 30 Hz refresh rate capable) and is the first NUC to add an SD card reader; something that just makes sense for this form factor and class of system.

Valve Steam Controller Pre-order Is Dated... Twice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 5, 2015 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam link, Steam Controller, steam

So, if a company says “a limited quantity of orders will be shipped on October 16th, weeks in advance of our official launch”... does that mean October 16th is its release date? What about its official launch date of November 10th? Also, why am I trying to make sense of time when the subject is Valve?

Either way, the new Steam Controller has been put up for pre-order and given a release date. The input device will sell for $50 USD, $59.99 CDN, or £40 GBP depending obviously on where you are. It also has a finalized design that is very similar to the Xbox layout, with thumbpads replacing the d-pad and right analog stick. Going to the device's Steam page will send you to a gaming retailer to make the pre-order (wat???). I get EB Games, because I'm Canadian, while Americans get GameStop, which is the same company anyway.

valve-2015-steam-controller-front.jpg

Unlike previous Steam Controller designs, the left thumbpad is shaped like a cross, which I would like to see used as a d-pad because most PC controllers that I've used are either terrible at it, or are horrible at everything else. The video also uses the left thumbpad as a scroll mechanism, but I wonder what other functionality Valve allows because I have yet to find a single mouse driver that can do everything. For instance, Razer's is unable to record mouse scroll (up, down, left, or right) events in macros.

valve-2015-steam-controller-back.jpg

The rear of the controller is very interesting. The main trigger is analog up to the end, which is a tactile switch. These can be bound to independent actions, although you will obviously need to have the maximum analog command play well with the click command. The given possibility is for first person shooters where you use the analog part to bring up your iron sights while you fire with the click. I could also imagine a racing game where the throttle is analog and clicking at the end activates a boost. There are also buttons in the grips for your ring and pink finger to activate. It also looks like there's shoulder buttons above the triggers, but I can't quite tell. This would basically yield six shoulder buttons, along with all of the face inputs, which is about the max that I could imagine.

The official launch is November 10th, but a pre-release run is shipping on October 16th. The Steam Link is supposedly also available at the same time for the same price, which is basically a streaming target for Steam on the TV.

Source: Valve

Computex 2015: ECS Announces New LIVA Core and LIVA X2 Mini-PCs

Subject: Systems | June 2, 2015 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: mini PC, LIVA X2, LIVA Core, LIVA, intel core m, ECS, computex 2015, computex, fanless

ECS has announced two new LIVA fanless mini-PC models, including a new "Core" version with an Intel Broadwell Core M SoC.

LIVA_CORE.png

Here are the full specs for the LIVA Core:

Platform: Intel Broadwell Core M-5Y10C SoC
Memory: DDR3L 4GB
Storage: 1x 80G/120G M.2 SSD
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 4x USB 3.0 Ports
Video Output: 2x HDMI Ports
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 136 x 84 x 38 mm
Card Reader: Micro SD
Adapter    Input: AC 100-240V,Output: DC 19V / 3.43A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10

The LIVA X has been refreshed as well with a new design and updated Intel Braswell SoC.

LIVA_X2.png

Here are the specs for the LIVA X2:

Platform: Intel Braswell N3050 SoC
Memory: DDR3L 2GB/4GB
Expansion Slot: 1 x M.2 for SSD (Up to 1TB)
Storage: eMMC 64GB/32GB
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 3x USB3.0 Ports
Video Output: 1x HDMI Port, 1x D-Sub Port
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 156 x 83 x 51 mm
Adapter    Input: AC 100-240V, Output: DC 12V / 3A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 (Windows 7 supported by M.2)

These new LIVA models are listed on the ECS product pages and should be available soon through the usual retail channels.

Source: ECS

Corsair Unleashes the Bulldog, an Upgradeable, Liquid Cooled 4K Gaming PC For The Living Room

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 1, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: steam os, living room gaming, liquid cooling, gaming, DIY, corsair, computex 2015, computex, barebones, 4k

Today at Computex, Corsair unveiled a new barebones gaming PC aimed at the living room. The compact Bulldog PC is an upgradeable barebones DIY kit that offers gamers an interesting base from which to build a living room PC capable of 4K gaming. The chassis resembles an overbuilt console in that it is a short but wide design with many angular edges and aesthetic touches including stylized black case feet and red accents surrounding the vents. A hidden panel in the lower right corner reveals two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks. It looks ready to fight in the next season of Robot Wars should you add a flamethrower or hydraulic flipper (heh).

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room_Front.jpg

The Bulldog kit consists of the chassis, motherboard, small form factor power supply, and a customized Hydro H55F series closed loop liquid CPU cooler. From there, users need to bring their own processor, RAM, and storage devices. There is no operating system included with the kit, but it, being a full PC, supports Windows, Linux, and SteamOS et al.

As far as graphics cards, Corsair is offering several liquid cooled NVIDIA graphics cards (initially only from MSI with other AIB partner cards to follow) that are ready to be installed in the Bulldog PC. Currently, users can choose from the GTX TITAN X, GTX 980, and GTX 970.

Alternatively, Corsair is offering a $99 (MSRP) upgrade kit for existing graphics cards with its Hydro H55 cooler and HG110 bracket.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC Kit.jpg

The Bulldog case supports Mini ITX form factor motherboards and it appears that Corsair is including the Asus Z97I-Plus which is a socket 1150 board supporting Haswell-based Core processors, DDR3 memory, M.2 (though you have to take the board out of the case to install the drive since the slot is on the underside of the board), a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, and the usual fare of I/O options including USB 3.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and optical and analog audio outputs (among others).

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room H55F CPU Cooler.jpg

A mini ITX motherboard paired with the small from factor Corsair H55F CPU cooler (left) and the internal layout of the Bulldog case with all components installed (right).

User purchased processors are cooled by the included liquid cooler which is a customized Hydro series cooler that mounts over the processor and exhausts air blower style out of the back of the case. The system is powered by the pre-installed 600W Corsair FS600 power supply. The PSU is mounted in the front of the system and the graphics card radiator and fan are mounted horizontally beside it. Along the left side of the case are mounts for a single 2.5" drive and a single 3.5" drive.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room Liquid Cooled Graphics Cards.jpg

GPU manufacturers will be selling card with liquid coolers pre-installed. Users can also upgrade existing air cooled graphics cards with an optional upgrade kit.

The liquid cooling aspect of the Bulldog is neat and, according to Corsair, is what is enabling them to cram so much hardware together into a relatively small case while enabling thermal headroom for overclocking and quieter operation versus air coolers.

I am curious how well the CPU cooler performs especially as far as noise levels go with the compacted and shrouded design. Also, while there is certainly plenty of ventilation along the sides of the case to draw in cool air, I'm interested in how well the GPU HSF will be able to exhaust the heat since there are no top grilles.

Corsair is marketing the Bulldog as the next step up from your typical Steam Machine and game console and the first 4K capable gaming PC designed for the living room. Further, it would be a nice stepping stone for console gamers to jump into PC gaming.

From the press release:

“Bulldog is designed to take the 4K gaming experience delivered by desktop gaming PCs, and bring it to the big 4K screens in the home,” said Andy Paul, CEO of Corsair Components. “We knew we needed to deliver a solution that was elegant, powerful, and compact. By leveraging our leading expertise in PC case design and liquid cooling, we met that goal with Bulldog. We can’t wait to unleash it on gamers this fall.”

The Bulldog DIY PC kit is slated for an early Q4 2015 launch with a MSRP of $399. After adding in a processor, memory, storage, and graphics, Corsair estimates a completed build to start around $940 with liquid cooled graphics ($600 without a dedicated GPU) and tops out at $2,250.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room.jpg

Keep in mind that the lowest tier liquid cooled GPU at launch will be the MSI GTX 970 (~$340). Users could get these prices down a bit with some smart shopping and component selection along with the optional $99 upgrade kit for other GPU options. It is also worth considering that the Bulldog is being positioned as a 4K gaming machine. If you were willing to start off with a 1080p setup, you could get buy with a cheaper graphics card and upgrade later along with your TV when 4K televisions are cheaper and more widespread.

At its core, $400 for the Bulldog kit (case, quality power supply, high end motherboard, and closed loop CPU cooler) is a decent value that just might entice some console gamers to explore the world of PC gaming (and to never leave following their first Steam sale heh)! It is a big commitment for sure at that price, but it looks like Corsair is using quality components and while there is surely the usual the small form factor part price premium (especially cases), it is far from obnoxious.

What do you think about the bulldog? Is it more bark than bite or is it a console killer?

Source: Corsair

Computex: 2015: ASUS Announces Two Systems with Intel Skylake Processors

Subject: Systems | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: vivopc, vc65, g11cb, computex 2015, computex, asus

First, don't get too excited: there isn't much information that has been confirmed with this announcement. But I did find it interesting that ASUS launched not one but two different systems using 6th Generation Intel Core processors, codenamed Skylake. No specifications, no pricing, no time for release; but they do offer varied specifications.

ASUS-G11-CB-small.jpg

The ASUS G11CB is a gaming desktop PC that is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core processor and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics card. It delivers impressive high-speed performance, with M.2 SSD, DDR4 SDRAM, and USB 3.1. The G11CB has an aggressively-designed chassis, with a central zone on its front façade showcasing 8-million color LED light effects, with three red-lit “flames” on its flanks. Aegis II software improves the overall gaming experience, with GameAlive allowing gamers to record and edit their game videos to share on social media sites.

ASUS VivoPC VC65.jpg

ASUS VivoPC VC65 is the latest flagship in the VivoPC line. VivoPC VC65 is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i processor. VivoPC VC65 provides flexible storage options and can accommodate a total of two storage drives. VivoPC accepts both solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives; with RAID support giving users the option to use it as a mini server or NAS. It can also serve as a media library to provide users with non-stop entertainment; and allows for easy software installation through its optical disc drive. VivoPC does away with an external power adapter, resulting in neater, clutter-free placement options; it can even be VESA-mounted.

The G11CB will be a true desktop system with the added weight of a GeForce GTX 980 for gaming performance. Note that the system does use DDR4 memory, confirming that Skylake will utilize it, as expected. The smaller, more business friendly VC65 uses Skylake but for general computing. ASUS actually is pitching the VC65 as a mini server or NAS with its flexible storage options. Can you do that with your VESA-mounted PC??

Zotac's New R Series ZBOX PCs Support Two Drive RAID Configurations

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | May 30, 2015 - 02:14 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, raid, mini server, media server

Zotac recently launched a new line of tiny ZBOX PCs under the new R Series that support two drive RAID 0 and RAID 1 setups. The series currently includes the ZBOX 1323 and ZBOX R1531. Both systems can be mounted vertically or horizontally and strongly resemble the company's existing ZBOX computers. The top and bottom panels are black with a silver bezel around the sides. A Zotac logo sits in the corner and a large blue circle sits in the center of the top.

The front panel hosts two audio jacks, an SDXC ard reader, COM port, IR reciever, and power button. Around back, the ZBOX boasts two antennas for the internal wireless module, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs. A third USB 3.0 port sits along the top edge of this small form factor PC.

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P.jpg

Internally, Zotac is using Intel processors, a small form factor motherboard with two SO-DIMM slots (up to 16 GB), a Mini PCI-E slot for the 802.11ac (plus Bluetooth 4.0) wireless card, and support for up to two 2.5" SATA drives. The motherboard supports RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD configurations for the SATA drives, and the R1531 SKU adds a mSATA slot for a third drive.

The ZBOX R1323 is equipped with a 11.5W dual core Intel (Haswell) Celeron 2961Y processor clocked at 1.1 GHz with 2MB cache and Intel HD Graphics clocked at up to 850 MHz. The ZBOX R1531 steps up to a 15W dual core (plus Hyperthreading) Broadwell-based Intel Core i3-5010U clocked at 2.1 GHz with HD 5500 graphics clocked at up to 900 MHz. 

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P rear IO.jpg

Both versions will be offered as barebones systems and the R1531 is additionally be sold in a PLUS model that comes with a 64GB mSATA SSD and 4GB of RAM pre-installed.

The new ZBOX R Series PCs would make for a nice home server with a mSATA drive for the OS and two storage drives in a RAID 1 for redundancy. The Core i3 should be plenty of horsepower for streaming media, running backups, running applications, and even some light video transcoding. The included COM port will also make it suitable for industrial applications, but I think this is mostly going to appeal to home and small business users.

Zotac has not yet revealed pricing or availability though. Hopefully we are able to find out more about these mini PCs at Computex!

Source: Zotac

Braswell-Powered Intel NUCs Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 29, 2015 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: Cherry Trail, SFF, pentium, nuc, Intel, celeron, Braswell, Airmont

Reports around the web along with this Intel PDF point to the official launch of a new low power NUC coming next month. The NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH are powered by Braswell-based Intel Celeron and Pentium processors topping out at 6W TDPs.

Intel NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH Braswell NUC Angled.jpg

These new NUC models have room for a motherboard, Braswell processor, a single laptop memory slot, a Mini PCI-E slot for the wireless module, and one 2.5" hard drive or SSD. There is no support for mSATA here which likely helped Intel cut costs (and as Olivier from FanlessTech points out mSATA support was dropped around the time of NUC 2.0). Further, unlike the lower power (4W versus 6W TDP) Braswell-based ASRock PC (which is also SFF but not a NUC), the two Intel NUCs are surely actively cooled by a fan.

On the outside of the compact PC, users have access to two USB 3.0 ports (one charging capable 5V/3A), a headphone/mic jack, infrared receiver, and SDXC memory card reader on the front. The rear panel hosts an additional two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, Gigabit LAN port, and optical audio output. The PC also has a Kensington lock port and is VESA moutable.

Intel NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH Braswell NUC Rear IO.jpg

Internally, Intel has opted for two of the highest power Braswell processors, the Intel Celeron N3050 and Intel Pentium N3700. Both are 14nm chips with a 6W TDP with Airmont CPU cores and Intel HD Graphics. The N3050 is a dual core part clocked at up to 2.16 GHz (1.6 GHz base) with 2MB cache and HD Graphics clocked between 320 and 600 MHz. The Pentium N3700 model on the other hand features four CPU cores clocked at up to 2.4 GHz (1.6 GHz base) paired with HD Graphics clocked at 700 MHz (400 MHz base).

Both the NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH will reportedly be available on June 8th starting at $140 and $180 respectively. This is an interesting price point for NUCs though it's popularity is going to heavily depend on the Braswell CPU's performance especially with Bay Trail-powered versions still on the market for even less (though with less performance).

Source: Maximum PC

Lenovo Tech World: ThinkPad Tablet 10 Announced

Subject: Systems | May 27, 2015 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: thinkpad tablet 10, thinkpad tablet, Thinkpad, Lenovo

The announcements keep rolling in here at Lenovo’s first Tech World event here in Beijing, starting off with a next generation version of their ThinkPad Tablet 10.

lenovo-2015-thinkpadtablet10.JPG

The 2015 version of the ThinkPad Tablet 10 is based around Intel’s new Cherry Trail SoC platform in form of the Atom Z8500 and Z8700. Alongside the Atom SoC, the Tablet 10 will sport either 2GB or 4GB of RAM depending on the configuration, although it is unclear if the 4GB option will only be available with the Z8700 option. 64-bit support will also be found with the Tablet 10 thanks to Cherry Trail’s support for 64-bit operations as opposed to the previous generation Bay Trail.

lenovo-2015-thinkpadtablet10-open.JPG

The ThinkPad Tablet 10 marks the first integration of Lenovo’s WRITEit software, which they claim allows for easier handwriting input across the entire Windows OS. While we haven’t had hands on with the final version, the tech preview of this that we saw at CES was very promising and looks to be a better solution than the native Windows 10 handwriting support.

lenovo-2015-thinkpadtablet10-clam.JPG

Lenovo was also eager to mention that they’ve seen wide adoption with the current ThinkPad Tablet 10 in fields such as large enterprises, airlines and hospitals. In light of this, the Tablet 10 will support technologies such as dTPM for trusted computing, NFC, as well as biometric authentication, and optional Smart Card support.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10 is set to launch at the start of August, in the same time frame of Windows 10.

Source: Lenovo

A tiny little Broadwell powered PC; the Shuttle Fanless Slim-PC DS57U

Subject: Systems | May 26, 2015 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, fanless, Broadwell, DS57U, Celeron 3205U

The Shuttle DS57U is powered by a dual core Celeron 3205U running at 1.5GHz and a nice and cool 15W TDP.  The system supports up to 16GB of DDR3 at 1.35 V, no 1.5V DIMM that TechPowerUp tried would work and for add-in cards you have a single full sized mini-PCIE slot and a half sized mini-PCIE slot which is already occupied by a WLAN card.  The system does have only one SATA 6Gbps port so external storage may be necessary, thankfully there are a pair of USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports.  This model is available for $250 currently, if you decide you need more power there are several versions going all the way up to the DS57U7 powered by an i7-5500U.  If you are looking for an inexpensive SFF barebones system, Shuttle is not a bad choice overall and the DS57U is worthy of consideration.

front_rear_panel.jpg

"The Shuttle DS57U is a slim barebone PC that only needs RAM and a HDD or, even better, an SSD to boot. It comes with an Intel dual-core Celeron processor (Broadwell) and features lots of I/O ports, which make it suitable for a wide range of applications."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: techPowerUp

ASRock Launches New Braswell-Based "Beebox" Fanless PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 26, 2015 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, fanless, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asrock

Earlier this month, ASRock showed off a tiny fanless computer it is calling the Beebox. Powered by an Intel Braswell SoC, the new small form factor Beebox offers up a decent selection of I/O ports and general desktop performance while sipping power. The Beebox is approximately the size of Intel's NUC measuring 118.5mm x 110mm x 46mm x  (4.67" x 4.33" x 1.81" -- WxDxH) and will come in three color options: black, gold, and white.

ASRock Beebox Fanless Braswell NUC PC_Cherry Trail.png

This compact PC has a fairly extensive set of ports on tap. The front panel includes a headphone jack, infrared port, one standard USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port which supports 5V/3A charging. The rear panel hosts the power jack, two HDMI outputs, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. Not bad for a small form factor PC.

ASRock will be offering the Beebox in three configuration options including a barebones kit, a version with 32 GB internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows 10, and a Beebox SKU with 128 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM (and no OS pre-installed). Each of the SKUs are powered by the same Intel Celeron N3000 Braswell SoC. From there, users can add a single 2.5" SATA drive and a Mini PCI-E card (although this slot is occupied by the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless module). The system uses two DDR3L SO-DIMMs and supports a maximum of 8 GB DDR3L at 1600 MHz.

The aspect that made the Beebox stand out to me was the inclusion of the Braswell-based Celeron N3000 processor. This 4W 14nm part features two Airmont CPU cores clocked at 1.04 GHz base and 2.08 GHz turbo paired with 2MB L2 cache and a Gen 8 Intel GPU clocked at up to 600 MHz. This is a desktop variant of the Cherry Trail chips being used in tablets, but it is the lowest TDP Braswell chip currently at a mere 4 watts. ASRock likely went with this chip to ensure they could passively cool it and still keep temperatures in check. As FanlessTech notes, the chassis ASRock is using leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to heat dissipation compared to other fanless cases on the market.

We will have to wait for reviews to see how well the Beebox and its Braswell processor perform, but so long as ASRock is able to keep thermals in check, the little PC should offer acceptable performance for general desktop tasks (browsing the internet, checking email, watching streaming videos, etc). Cherry Trail (and keep in mind Braswell is a higher power chip based on the same architectures) is promising noticeable improvements to graphics and at least slight improvements to CPU performance. According to ASRock, the Beebox is going to be priced aggressively at "very low" price points which should make it a good compromise between older Bay Trail-D systems and newer (and more expensive) Broadwell and Haswell systems.

The Beebox is slated for late June availability, with exact pricing to be announced at that time.

Source: Ars Technica

Oculus Rift "Full Rift Experience" Specifications Released

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Displays, Systems | May 15, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus vr, nvidia, amd, geforce, radeon, Intel, core i5

Today, Oculus has published a list of what they believe should drive their VR headset. The Oculus Rift will obviously run on lower hardware. Their minimum specifications, published last month and focused on the Development Kit 2, did not even list a specific CPU or GPU -- just a DVI-D or HDMI output. They then went on to say that you really should use a graphics card that can handle your game at 1080p with at least 75 fps.

oculus-dk2-product.jpg

The current list is a little different:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 (or higher)
  • Intel Core i5-4590 (or higher)
  • 8GB RAM (or higher)
  • A compatible HDMI 1.3 output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 (or newer).

I am guessing that, unlike the previous list, Oculus has a more clear vision for a development target. They were a little unclear about whether this refers to the consumer version or the current needs of developers. In either case, it would likely serve as a guide for what they believe developers should target when the consumer version launches.

This post also coincides with the release of the Oculus PC SDK 0.6.0. This version pushes distortion rendering to the Oculus Server process, rather than the application. It also allows multiple canvases to be sent to the SDK, which means developers can render text and other noticeable content at full resolution, but scale back in places that the user is less likely to notice. They can also be updated at different frequencies, such as sleeping the HUD redraw unless a value changes.

The Oculus PC SDK (0.6.0) is now available at the Oculus Developer Center.

Source: Oculus

Spring has sprung, time to buy a new system and hide from the sun

Subject: Systems | May 12, 2015 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: system guide

The Tech Report have just finished up their latest System build guide, with updates to the Budget, Sweet Spot and High End machines.  The components involved each get a page to allow you to see the differences in recommendations at a glance, both in performance and price.  The example Budget build now includes the $100 Crucial BX100 250GB, the last of the builds to upgrade to an SSD.  Also included is a quiet, yet overclockable Stealth Fighter which weighs in at an estimated $1500 and should satisfy any gamer that can't afford their Maxwellator XXL. Take look at their recommendations and compare it to our own Hardware Leaderboard for an overview of the parts that will give you the best bang for your buck.

test-rig-1.jpg

"Ready to build a new PC? The latest edition of our System Guide features our picks for everything you'll need to put together a shiny new system."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Lenovo Software Vulnerability Is Patched

Subject: Systems | May 6, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo

Okay, so some people are drawing parallels between this and Lenovo's Superfish scandal that happened late last year and carried on for the first few months of 2015. I am not a fan of that comparison. In the case of Superfish, Lenovo added third-party software that tampered with security for the purpose of advertising on the user's machine. In this case, a first-party application has a remote code execution vulnerability that was dealt with responsibly.

lenovo-do.png

This happens to pretty much everyone, regularly.

But, so our readers know, they should update their Lenovo System Update. The current version, which seems to be 5.6.0.34 as far as I can tell, has been available since April and is not affected. This bug only concerns 5.6.0.27 and earlier. The issues were discovered in February by IOActive and disclosed to the PC manufacturer, who updated them before the security company published the issue. Unless I'm missing something, this is how it is supposed to be done.

Source: The Verge

Falcon Northwest's Updated Tiki PC Packs A Punch

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 3, 2015 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: z97, xeon e5-2699v3, X99, tiki-z, tiki, SFF, liquid cooling, Haswell-E, falcon northwest, core i7-5960x

Falcon Northwest recently upped the hardware ante on its small form factor Tiki PC. Previously limited to Z97-based hardware, the company is now offering Tiki PCs with X99 motherboards. Even better, the Tiki can be configured with Intel’s Haswell-E Core i7-5000 or Haswell-EP Xeon  chips such as the Core i7-5960X or Xeon E5-2699V3.

tiki-with-blu-ray-hi.jpg

The updated Tiki maintains the same steel and aluminum case measuring 13” x 4” x 13” (HxWxD) with customizable paint work and a removable solid aluminum or granite base as its predecessors (e.g. Tiki-Z). External I/O options include the latest USB 3.1, eSATA, and Dual Intel Gigabit LAN ports. Internally, the Tiki has space for an Intel Z97 or X99 motherboard with a liquid cooled processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 (or 16GB DDR3 with Z97) memory, a dedicated graphics card up to an NVIDIA GTX TITAN X or Quadro and ample storage space in the form of four 2.5” drives or one 3.5” and two 2.5” drives.

Tiki X99 System with 36 threads.jpg

All this hardware amounts to an impressive amount performance in general – much less a small form factor system. At the upper echelon, the Xeon E5-2699V3 offers 18 cores (36 threads with HT) clocked at up to 3.6 GHz paired with 45MB of L3 cache. Paired with a Quadro card like the M6000, that is one powerful workstation!

The updated Tiki is aimed at gamers and workstation builds doing intensive workloads like CAD, 3D animation, and video production.

Tiki-open-quarter-hi.jpg

The downside to this stylish powerhouse is, of course, pricing – the Tiki is far from cheap and the boutique premium is quite evident here. Available now, the updated Tiki starts at $1,860 for a base level Z97 system with quad core CPU or $2,492 for an eight core X99-based system. Fully loaded, the Tiki tops $10,000. 

It is definitely an extremely niche product, but the engineering and styling is impressive all the same!

ECS LIVA X; the non-HTPC review

Subject: Systems | April 20, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: windows, SoC, mini-pc, Intel, ECS, Bay Trail-M

When Sebastian reviewed the LIVA X he focused on the performance of the device as an HTPC running Ubuntu ...  before attempting to determine its effectiveness in creating a peanut butter and banana omelette, but that is a different story.

Overclocker's Club took a different tack, examining how it would perform for light gaming duties.  On default settings the LIVA X managed 517 in Sky Diver, 1198 in Cloud Gate, 14200 in Ice Storm, and 9598 in Ice Storm Extreme.  This would make it effective at playing mobile games or even playing through legacy games available through GoG or the Internet Archive; they tested CivV as a more modern title and while playable it wasn't great.  Check out the full review for the other benchmark results.

14_thumb.jpg

"The ECS LIVA X surprised me with its small size and completely silent operation. I was able to surf the internet and do work on it very quickly. I enjoyed using it and experienced no problems with browsing the internet, using Office applications, or watching streaming videos on Netflix. Amazon Prime would occasionally lag a little – usually when the HUD would pop up."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Intel Compute Stick Starts Pre-order: Bay Trail and Windows 8.1 for $149

Subject: Systems | April 6, 2015 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, compute stick, Bay Trail-D

Back at CES in January Intel shared with us a preview of the company's latest new platform form factor, the Compute Stick. That's the formal, official name, a follow up from the same team that brought us the NUC (Next Unit of Computing). The Compute Stick is a thumb-drive-shaped, full PC integration that has a physical HDMI connection to plug directly into your TV.

intel-stick-02.JPG

The specifications remain unchanged from what we learned at CES:

The Intel Compute Stick, aptly named, seems to fit somewhere between these two devices. It is an HDMI dongle enclosing an x86, quad-core, computer with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Intel eventually plans to have the device powered by the HDMI port, but it currently requires power over micro USB. Besides power, it also has a standard USB (Type A-Female) port and a micro SD card slot. It also has 802.11n wireless networking inside it. Being a full Windows device, you can stream media, browse the web, and use many other applications on it.

This week the devices have started showing up for pre-order on Newegg.com and even Amazon.com.

83-800-002-05.jpg

Newegg.com has a specific pre-order going but it looks like Amazon is still on the waiting list process. Interestingly, a quick search for "compute stick" on Amazon reveals a host of other very similar devices, the most popular of which are sold as the MeeGoPad Stick with a price tag of ~$109. I'm not sure what those products will ship with when it comes to an operating system and some reviews indicate that the Windows version installed is not activated, so go in at your own risk.

As for the official Intel sold Compute Stick, I'm excited to try one out. The device includes a Bay Trail quad-core CPU, a single micro-USB port for power, a full-sized USB 2.0 port for connectivity (webcam, etc.) as well as a MicroSD slot for storage expansion. The device embeds Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth so you'll be able to connect to a network and get wireless keyboards and mice up and running easily.

computestickside.jpg

The amount of capability you get for $149, including a full copy of Windows 8.1 with Bing, is astounding and, if it lives up the hype, could be a great replacement for a Google Chromecast or a Kindle Fire TV. Look for a review very soon!