The Killer NIC through the years

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot

When the Killer NIC was first released in 2006 the PC Perspective crew were not overly impressed, it seemed a solution in search of a problem and initially it was far more expensive than it was effective.  Over the years the way the solution was implemented changed from running on an embedded Freescale PowerPC SoC to using part of the CPU to handle the processing which both reduced the price as well as offering better overall performance.  More recently the acquisition by Qualcomm has helped Bigfoot develop a far more effective product, the one seen on many Z170 boards and which has received far more positive reviews.  The Tech Report recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Killer's CEO Mike Cubbage and the Chief Marketing Officer Bob Grim about how their product has changed over the years.  You can read about what they learned as well as learn more about how the current generation of Killer NIC performs its various tasks in their article here.


"Killer-powered Gigabit Ethernet ports can be found on many gaming-focused motherboards and laptops these days. We talked to Killer Networking about the details of its latest hardware and software, and then we put those features to the test with a Killer-equipped motherboard."

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Mionix is keeping it simple with their Castor Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2015 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: input, mionix, Castor, gaming mouse

The Mionix Castor gaming mouse is for those right-handed people who are looking for a basic LED glow and programmable buttons that number under a dozen.  On the Castor there are six in total, two of which sit under the thumb on the right hand side of the mouse which is why lefties are not going to enjoy using the Castor.  Using Mionix's software you can program those buttons as you see fit as well as adjusting the DPI between 50 to 10,000 and split the X and Y axis if you so desire.  You can also vary the USB polling rate, Angle Snapping, Angle Tuning, Pointer Speed and Lift Distance to be saved in one of five profiles which you can jump between using the button at the top.  Techgage with the overall design of the mouse as well as the number of features hidden in this unassuming mouse.  Check out their full review if you are looking for a new gaming mouse.


"Mionix’s marketing strategy of naming its products after heavenly bodies is brave. It’s good, then, that the company succeeds more often than not in designing stellar products. Will its Castor, named after one of the brightest of stars visible in our skies, live up to its billing? Or will it explode like a supernova amidst such galactic expectations? Read our review to find out!"

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Source: Techgage

Cherry Trail in a Raspberry Pi form factor

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: x5 Z8300, UP board, Intel, Cherry Trail, atom

Intel's efforts to put an x86 processor in your pocket have been rather varied, from the old Minnowboard, the Compute Stick and recently the new Intel Galileo and Edison chips.  Apart from the new Galileo and Edison releases, the hobby community have not adopting them in the same way that they have Raspberry Pi or Arduino.  Hack a Day has a post about a new product that might be a bridge between Raspberry hackers and x86 hackers called the UP Board.

It is the size of a credit card and is powered by a quad-core Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8300 clocked at 1.84GHz, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC Flash.  For peripheral support it has a Gigabit NIC, five USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, HDMI and most importantly, the same 40-pin GPIO pin connector the Raspberry Pi Model B Plus uses as well as DSI and CSI connectors for the Raspberry Pi camera and touch screen.  This offers familiar hardware for those already familiar with the Raspberry and means that the kits they currently have could be transferred.  It will be interesting to see if this brings x86 functionality and interfaces into hobbyist scene.


"Efforts to put x86 on a dev board have included the Minnowboard, the Intel Galileo and Edison, and even the Intel Compute Stick. These have not seen the uptake you would expect from a small x86-powered board, but that tide may soon turn. The UP board is exactly what you would expect from a Raspberry Pi-inspired board with a real Intel processor."

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Source: Hack a Day

Valve Says (External) Ads in Steam Are "Just Dumb"

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2015 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam

Of course, this quote doesn't include things like promotional images for games. It's a store, so it will promote its products. This is referring to like, Doritos. In response to Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation integrating ads in their service, Valve said that it doesn't make sense for Steam. It might make some short-term money, but it doesn't bring value to the user, it could harm the long-term relationship with the user, and it probably doesn't even sell Doritos.


Doesn't go with Mountain Dew.

In my opinion, it doesn't really matter. An ad-free Steam is nice, but I don't feel it would that it would affect me much as a user (although that would need to be actually measured to be a valid data point). I also think that its lack of effect is a fallacy. When surveyed, the vast majority of people believe that advertisements don't work on them, or just let them know that products exist. They're wrong.

I do believe that it would affect their long term brand perception with customers in general, though. Several brands have tried to get involved in gaming platforms and events, and the inevitable ads and product placement get ridiculed. It makes sense that Valve would avoid that, especially since their brand is what's keeping them on par with their competitors.

What do you think, though? Do you believe that you would mind? Or would you just shrug and ignore them (unless they're obnoxious)?

Source: GameSpot

Windows 10 Slow Ring Users Get First Post-Launch Build

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2015 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Windows 10 Build 10565 was released last week to Fast Ring users. It was the fourth public build since release, and it contained the most listed changes of any of them. One major change is the ability to clean install Windows 10 with a Windows 7 or 8.x key. Previously, users would need to install their old OS and then upgrade it. This was particularly annoying for users who upgraded an old version of Windows to 10, did a reinstall of Windows 10 for some reason, and the activation servers didn't recognize them. The official solution in that case was to uninstall Windows 10, installed Windows 7 or 8.x again, then upgrade again. (Again, this is only if a Windows 10 reinstall failed to reactivate for some reason.)


Tonight, the bandages come off... or on. On. Definitely on.

That's last week's news, though. This week, they moved Build 10565 to Slow Ring and released ISOs for it. The interesting part is that Slow Ring users, until now, were still on the official build, 10240, alongside the general public. This is almost too close to the rumored November update of Windows 10 to be worth it. At the same time, they also chose the build with some of the more severe known issues to flight to the Slow users, such as the inability to use Search without Cortana. This makes me wonder if they pushed it just to release ISOs for the above reinstall with Windows 7/8.x key feature.

If you're a Slow Ring user that is still on 10240, then this is your last chance to disable Insider builds, if you are properly activated.


This gun can shoot down drones but don't try it at home

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2015 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: drone, electro-magnetic cannon

The concept sounds easy to duplicate, a so called "electro-magnetic cannon" which sends radio signals powerful enough to interfere with communications between a drone and its controller that then triggers the drone to automatically land but you probably shouldn't build one.  As with WiFi and cell signal disruptors, it are considered illegal for civilian usage, a pity for movie goers who would be far happier without the jerk in front of them talking on their phone during the main feature.  Battelle's gun has as range of 400 metres and if put into practice will prevent future incidents such as the recent grounding of waterbombers during a forest fire because numerous drones were occupying the air space in order to take pictures.  The drones would be unharmed and emergency services would not be interfered with.  Take a peek at The Register for more information, but stop those dreams of intercepting Amazon drones to see what they are carrying.


"US biz Battelle boasts it has found a way to rid our skies of annoying drones without breaking the flying machines' hardware."

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Source: The Register

Western Digital PiDrive Kit Easily Adds 1TB of Storage to Your Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 15, 2015 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: western digital, Raspberry Pi, external hard drive

Western Digital recently made storage simpler when it comes to the Raspberry Pi micro computer. The aptly-named PiDrive Kit allows you to easily pair the company’s 1TB 2.5” hard drive with the SFF PC.

Released last week, the PiDrive Kit consists of a 1TB laptop-style mechanical hard drive, a custom Micro USB cable, a microSD card, and a 5V USB AC power adapter. The hard drive has a micro USB 3.0 port (though the Raspberry Pi only supports 2.0 speeds) for data and power. One end of the cable connects to the drive. The cable then breaks out into three cables which connect to one of the Pi’s USB ports, the Pi’s micro USB power input, and the USB wall adapter. This allows the drive and Raspberry Pi to be powered off of one USB connection.

WD Labs PiDrive Kit.jpg

Looking up the model number from the WD website, it looks like the hard drives are part of the company’s Passport Ultra line. The biggest bottleneck is likely to be the USB 2.0 interface, especially when it comes to burst speeds though. The included micro SD card (WD does not specify capacity or speeds) can be used to test out alternative operating systems or to test out setting up the external storage in Linux without messing with your main development install.

If you are using a Raspberry Pi Model B+ or a Pi 2 Model B and need a hefty terabyte of storage, WD has a simple option that is currently for sale on their website for $52. I’m sure enthusiasts will find uses for the massive storage upgrade beyond what micro SD can offer (at the moment). 

Is it time to dust off the Pi?

Podcast #371 - MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, ROG Product Announcements, Ultrawide G-Sync and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2015 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: xps15, xps13, video, uhs-2, uhs-1, thinkpad stack, sd cards, ROG, podcast, msi, Maximus VIII, Lenovo, gx700, gt72s, G752, dell, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #371 - 10/15/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, ROG Product Announcements, Ultrawide G-Sync 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: - 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 Malventano

Program length: 1:39:38

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:42:55 This week’s podcast is brought to you by Casper. Use code PCPER at checkout for $50 towards your order!
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  5. Closing/outro

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

Hacks in Spaaaaace!

Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2015 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: hack, nasa, skylab

Figuring out and successfully executing a hardware hack is fun in and of itself, not to mention that you end up with a working device at the end but for the pinnacle of this craft you should check out this article at Hack a Day.  NASA has pulled off some very inspired hardware hacks in the most inhospitable place for humans imaginable, with serious repercussions if the kludges don't work.  Skylab was launched unmanned but before the crew was even prepping for launch numerous problems began to plague the space station, including an internal temperature of 77C.  These issues needed a workable solution in place before humans could set foot in the station, preferably ones that could be enacted remotely without any humans on the spot.  That is only one of the examples in the article, check out the other examples of ingenuity under extreme pressure by clicking that link.


"From the repairs to fix the blinded Hubble Space Telescope to the dodgy cooling system and other fixes on the International Space Station, both manned and unmanned spaceflight can be looked at as a series of hacks and repairs."

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Source: Hack a Day

In the continental US and want to win NewEgg's Game Like a Pro contest?

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2015 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: zotac, western digital, vertagear, seasonic, ocz, nzxt, newegg, Intel, hyperx, contest, asus

There is a contest on NewEgg right now for those living in the continental US with a Grand Prize of a full high end gaming system, including a chair as well as two other prizes from Zotac, a ZBox Magnus EN970 and a TX 970 AMP! edition GPU.  Tweet #GameLikeAPro and fill in the email form for a chance to win, 20 entries max at one per 24 hours.



Thanks to our friends at Seasonic for pointing us to this contest!!

Source: NewEgg

Bringing new life to J.C. Denton; Deus Ex: Revison

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, retro, deus ex revision, mod

Have you tried to play the original Deus Ex in the past few years only to find the resolution and overall quality of the textures so painful that you stopped after the first mission?  Have you though about doing it but never quite managed to start it up?  Perhaps this new revamp of the game will change your opinion, with all new assets, music and graphics tweaks.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN would like you to know about  Deus Ex: Revision, a mod available on Steam for those who own the game which brings new life to the old classic.  Thanks to the Stealth Sale the GotY version is a steep $1.55(ish) on Steam, so pick it up and see if this update is enough to convince you to replay or to introduce you for the first time to the game which was significantly better designed than its sequel. 

"Deus Ex: Revision [official site] is a project that overhauls “the environments and soundtrack” of Ion Storm’s classic, and it’s out now on Steam. The release has the backing of Deus Ex’s current publishers and developers (Square Enix and Eidos Montreal), and is designed to work exclusively with the Steam release of the original."

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Canon shows off its 8k prototypes

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2015 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: 8k, Canon, 7680x4320

Canon is showing off some impressive kit at its Global Expo 2015 in Paris, a camera which records in 8k resolution along with displays capable of the same impressive pixel count of 7680x4320.  None of these products are close to being released but do show what the next generation of video technology holds for us.  It is probably good that we won't have these cameras soon, you don't want to see any of the crew here at that level of detail.  It is of course impossible to show off just how beautiful the video The Inquirer saw on lesser monitors such as we mortals possess but it is still worth popping over for a peek.


"CANON has shown off its latest range of ultra-high definition imaging technologies, including 8K cameras, displays and projector demonstrations."

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Source: The Inquirer

Jamming WiFi on the cheap

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2015 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: security, Raspberry Pi

With a Raspberry Pi and a cheap WiFi dongle a researcher has shown an effective way to completely block 2.4Ghz transmissions in a 120 metre radius.  By disabling the backoff wait time, aka Short Interframe Space (SIFS), which is accomplished by firmware modification the WiFi dongle will continually resend a frame and block any device with a higher bitrate.  This will block WiFI, Bluetooth and most IoT devices including security systems.  They did not provide the source code used in this procedure, so you won't be able to block your friends for your own amusement but security researchers can reach out to the inventor for access to see if there are ways to circumvent this vulnerability.  The story at The Register also has some information on TKIP vulnerabilities and possible ways to block transmissions on the 5GHz band.


"The wireless security boffin presented his work at the BruCon conference last week and revealed his weapon of choice is a bargain WiFi dongle bought off Amazon that, when paired with a Raspberry Pi and a small amplifier, can block 2.4Ghz transmissions for up to 120 metres."

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Source: The Register

Another hard quarter for PC sellers

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2015 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: pc sales, Q3 2015

73.7 million units, including desktops, laptops and ultrabooks were sold in the third quarter of 2015, down 7.7% from this time last year.  In the EMEA, Japan and Latin America this could be in part because prices have risen by about 10% but is also likely due to a lack of any convincing reason to upgrade.  The recent security problems revealed on Lenovo machines do not seem to have hurt their sales in North America , they saw a 22% increase in sales with the launch of their various 2 in 1 portable devices.  Gartner feels this may change in the latter half of the year as many companies do not get out of the red until holiday sales start driving consumers, but also because machines shipping with Windows 10 will start to hit the markets.  Skylake product refreshes should also help out and we can all hope to see bargains on older kit that distributors want off their shelves as well as the numerous holiday sales start to ramp up.  You can follow the links from The Inquirer for more detailed information.


"FIGURES FROM GARTNER show that PC shipments declined a further 7.7 percent year on year during the third quarter of 2015, despite the release of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system during the period."

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Source: The Inquirer

A keyboard joins the G.SKILL Ripjaws family; meet the colourful KM780

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: cherry mx brown, G.Skill, ripjaws, KM780, input, mechanical keyboard

G.SKILL has extended their Ripjaws family beyond RAM with the introduction of the KM780, a mechanical keyboard sporting some unique features.  For lighting enthusiasts the Cherry MX Brown keys are clear instead of black which allows the backlighting to show through significantly more than on other boards.  There is a bar at the back of the keyboard which adds an interesting aesthetic and allows for a cord holder to be incorporated into the design.  As well, not only can you program macros using the software there are keys which can be depressed to allow you to program a macro on the fly while playing a game.  The lighting is perhaps a bit much for some but if you are a fan of keyboards that are seen and not heard you should check out the full review at Overclockers Club.


"Upon first look at the KM780, I was taken aback by the design. The bars looked odd to me, but in use they didn't bother me, in fact I had many ideas as to possible uses for them including using them as tie downs for traveling, such as to LAN parties, and for locking the keyboard down to a surface using clamps on the bars – great for systems where the keyboard will move a lot such as gaming PC chair rigs."

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Podcast #370 - Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gigabyte, z170x gaming g1, Skylake, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, Android, ios, iphone 6s, Samsung, 840 evo, msata, dell, UP3216Q, nvidia, pascal

PC Perspective Podcast #370 - 10/08/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors 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: - Share with your friends!

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  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Program length: 1:31:05

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:30:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: iPhone 6s Stallion
  5. Closing/outro

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

Soft Machines' VISCy business

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: VISC, Soft Machines, Shasta

A year ago The Tech Report talked with a representative from a company called Soft Machines who were designing processors using their new VISC architecture.  We are all familiar with CISC and RISC based designs, this new Virtual Instruction Set Computing is a new architecture designed after multicore processors became the norm.  The architecture is designed from the ground up to take advantage of multiple cores and is able to virtualize both cores and threads across multiple physical cores.  That means a demanding process that is still only a single thread could be run on a virtual core across multiple hardware cores, increasing the speed at which that task can be completed. 

Their current design, named Shasta is fabbed on a 16nm FinFET process, uses a generic 256-bit interconnect bus for compatibility with a wide variety of infrastructures and currently runs at 2GHz.  The Tech Report doesn't have any benchmarks per se, but you can read more about how this new architecture works here.


"Soft Machines presented details about its intriguing VISC CPU architecture, along with a roadmap for VISC CPUs and SoCs, at the 2015 Linley Processor Conference today. We spoke with Soft Machines founder and CTO Mohammad Abdallah and the company's VP of marketing and business development, Mark Casey, to learn more about these chips."

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Far Cry Primal will be released ... eventually

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2015 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: gaming, far cry primal, ubisoft

Far Cry Primal was announced and it is even more console-centric than the previous release, seeing as how the PC launch will be a month after its initial release.  We can only hope that Ubisoft does spend time making sure that high end PCs do have graphic features that take advantage of the power provided by new GPUs.  As for the gameplay it should be interesting as there will be no more machine guns and fancy pistols, you will be stabbing mammoths with pointy sticks and running for your life from sabretooth tigers.  It also sounds as though eating enough food and other features common to the plethora of survival sims will be included, making this very different from previous games.  Check out the trailer and screenshots at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN if you haven't seen them yet.


"Ubisoft attempted to announce Far Cry Primal [official site] with a tantalising livestream, which was rather spoiled by a brief leak of the game’s name and basic details. Now we know more, including proper trailers, screenshots, and a release date… which will see the game land on PC the month after it’ll arrive on console."

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On-die watercooling

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: watercooling, nifty

These researchers are skipping the waterblock altogether and have made channels in surface of the die its self for de-ionized water to flow through and cool the chip.  The 28-nanometer Altera FPGA they tested this cooling method on had numerous channels cut into it which were then sealed up with a layer of silicon.  With a flow rate of 147 ml/minute they kept the chip to a comfortable 24C, a mere 4C higher than the temperature of the water and significantly lower than the 60C the chip would run at using air cooling.  Neither Hack a Day nor PCPer encourage you to try to cut micron sized channels in your brand new processor, however we all hope to see this cooling technique incorporated into heatspreaders in future generations of processors.


"Researchers at Georgia Tech have been working on cutting fluid channels directly into the back of commercial silicon die (an Altera FPGA, to be exact). The tiny channels measure about 100 micron and are resealed with another layer of silicon. Water is pumped into the channels to cool the device efficiently."

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Source: Hack a Day

MSI Releases GK-701 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2015 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: msi, GK-701, gaming keyboard, cherry mx brown

MSI has a new mechanical gaming keyboard available, and the GK-701 features MSI’s black and red "Dragon" styling with red LED backlighting for each key, and uses Cherry MX Brown switches.


MSI is emphasizing the quality of their build with this new keyboard, stating that each key “is created with precision laser etching for extra resistance to wear and tear”, and the red LED backlight for each key is rated for “over 50 million key presses”. Additionally, the GK-701 offers a braided USB cable with a 18K gold plated connector, and there is a set of multimedia hotkeys and a game mode that disables the Windows Key. As this is a mechanical keyboard one of the biggest aspects is of course key switch selection, and the Cherry MX Brown switches MSI has chosen for the GK-701 offer a tactile “non-clicky” feel that some prefer.

GK-701 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard specs from MSI:

  • Cherry MX Brown switches
  • Red LED Backlight
  • Windows Key Lock
  • N-Key Rollover
  • Multimedia Hotkeys
  • Anti-slip Rubber Feet
  • Ergonomic Design
  • USB 2.0 connection
  • Braided wire and gold-plated connector
  • Switches lifetime: 50 Million Clicks
  • Dimensions: 450 x 165 x 38mm, 1200g weight


The MSI GK-701 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is available now and currently selling on for $119.99.

Source: MSI