Gigabyte reveals two motherboards and a Next Generation BRIX at CES 2016

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: X170-Extreme ECC, gigabyte, GA-X150M-PLUS WS, GA-X150-PLUS WS, CES, brix

Gigabyte revealed two high end LGA1151 motherboards which will support Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 processors in addition to the more common Core models purchased by enthusiasts.  The GA-X150-PLUS WS is a full sized ATX board with a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 connector with transfer rates of up to 32Gb/s as well as SEx ports and a network traffic management application called cFosSpeed on the gigabit NIC to reduce latency.

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The GA-X150M-PLUS WS is a Micro-ATX version of the previous board, keeping all of the features of the larger model but sacrificing dual GPU support due to size constraints.  They also released a X170-Extreme ECC, one of the few consumer boards to support ECC memory for those who regularly use programs which can benefit from error correcting DRAM.

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For those who like their systems small and ready to go out of the box, the new Brix line up is a mere 0.46L (34.4 x 112.6 x 119.4mm) and uses the new Skylake processors, the model number indicating the processor you will find within the Brix.  They all sport an M.2 SSD slot, a pair of slots for SO-DIMM DDR3L, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs along with four USB connectors and both wired and wireless network connectivity.  These new Brix will also support Thunderbolt 3 over their USB Type-C port

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Full PR after the break.

Source: Gigabyte

CES 2016: Oculus Price Announced and Pre-Orders Open

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, oculus touch, CES, CES 2016

Oculus has finally announced that the Rift will launch on March 28th for $599 USD. If you were an original backer on Kickstarter, then this kit will be given to you for free. DK2 purchasers do not receive this gift, but I guess the company was relatively established by that point. Pre-orders have now opened, although the kit will be available (albeit at “limited locations”) through typical retail channels in April. Finally, making good on their “$1500” announcement earlier this year, systems that meet the minimum requirements, and bundle the Oculus Rift, will be available for pre-order that start at $1499.

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Okay, so let's unpack this.

The elephant in the room is the price. It's steep. If you are even moderately patient, you can pick up a GeForce 980 Ti for the same amount. (As I write this, I'm looking at a Gigabyte 980 Ti with a custom cooler for $599.99 on Amazon.) For that price, you get the headset (with its two 1080x1200 OLED screens, microphone, and headphones), an Xbox One controller, a sensor, and a newly-announced Oculus Remote. You cannot purchase the Oculus Rift without an Xbox One controller, which is unfortunate for current owners of Xbox One controllers.

Who has two thumbs and bought an Xbox One Elite controller? This guy.

The benefit of including a (regular) Xbox One controller is that Oculus Rift developers can rely on each customer having access to a solid PC gamepad. Without it, some percentage of users might (and when you deal with large sample spaces, probability increasingly becomes a distribution) have just a mouse and keyboard. I'd also expect that Microsoft would provide them a bit of a discount for at least the volume, with the ties between Microsoft and Facebook possibly coming into play, too.

Unlike the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift will not ship with its motion controller (called the “Oculus Touch”). That will be delayed until later in the year, which also means that some fraction of the user base will never have it. This is a concern for cross-compatibility between the Rift and the Vive, but not nearly as bad as it would have been if Oculus didn't have any motion control option at all. Developers would be looking at a “release on both Wii and PS2” situation, only with a (likely) much smaller install base.

And a final point: What about the other uses of Oculus?

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The Oculus Remote controls the interface and media.

This announcement is gaming-centric, to say the very least. Oculus has said that the Rift is “primarily a gaming device” and, apparently, Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, strongly believes in gaming for the device. In my opinion though, it could be very useful, especially in professional applications. If the OLED screens have sufficient color and resolution, then desktop space becomes infinite. You don't need an additional monitor to map additional virtual space to your environment. While that's probably not something that Facebook could do alone, they could encourage the parties who influence these decisions with tech demos, peripherals, and so forth.

They still don't seem to be. This could be a concern since their primary competitors, Microsoft and even Valve/HTC, already have non-zero amounts of progress in that space. I'd be curious to hear whether they have any plans at all moving forward, even if those plans are to be reactionary.

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Source: Oculus

Meet the new PowerVR Series7XT Plus family of GPUs from Imagination Technologies

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: Series7XT Plus, PowerVR, hsa. GT7200 Plus, GT7400 Plus, CES

Update (Jan 7th, 2016 - Scott Michaud): Imagination sent us an updated diagram, and they wanted to clarify that there is "a 1:1 correspondance between the FP32 ALUs and the integer units." The updated diagram is just below.

PowerVR Series7XT Plus GPU - ALU architecture_2.png

Original article below

PowerVR GPUs are found in a variety of devices from the PlayStation Vita to the last couple of iPhones and at one point was the GPU in Intel APUs.  Their latest offerings are the GT7200 Plus and GT7400 Plus both of which offer quite a few improvements over their previous generations, not least of which is wholesale adoption of heterogeneous computing and its various benefits such as shared virtual memory.

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These GPUs expand their support to INT16 and INT8 data paths, keeping the legacy INT32 paths for applications that require it.  They have also adopted the OpenCL 2.0 API for heterogeneous computing as well as OpenGL ES 3.2 and even Vulkan support.  The GT7200 Plus is in a dual-cluster configuration with 64 ALU cores and the GT7400 Plus doubles that to a quad-cluster with 128 ALU cores.

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Along with the performance and feature upgrades comes a focus on upgrading the machine vision capabilities of the Rogue GPUs to be able to  identify thousands of objects directly from the camera input stream in real-time.  Check out their blog entry for more information on the new chips and if you want a refresher on the technology in these GPUs you can refer back to Ryan's article here.

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Intel Announces Core m Skylake and Cherry Trail Compute Sticks

Subject: Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, core m5, core m3, compute stick, Cherry Trail, CES 2016, CES

First up on the meeting block with the official opening of CES 2016 was Intel and its NUC and Compute Stick division. You should remember the Intel Compute Stick as a HDMI-enabled mini-computer in the shape of a slightly over sized USB drive. The first iteration of it was based on Bay Trail Atom processor and though we could see the benefits of such a device immediately, the follow through on the product lacked in some key areas. Performance was decent but even doing high bit rate video streaming seemed like a stretch and the Wi-Fi integration left something to be desired.

Today though Intel is announcing three new Compute Stick models. One is based on Cherry Trail, the most recent Atom processor derivative, and two using the Intel Core m processors based on the Skylake architecture.

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Old Compute Stick on top, new on the bottom

The Intel STK1AW32SC uses the Cherry Trail Atom x5 processor, the x5-Z8300 quad-core CPU with a 1.44 GHz base clock and a 1.84 GHz Turbo clock. This CPU only has a 2 watt SDP so power consumption remains in line with the design we saw last year. Other specifications include an updated 802.11ac 2x2 wireless data connection (nice!), 32GB of internal eMMC storage, 2GB of DDR3-1600 memory and Bluetooth 4.0 support. Intel claims this configuration will offer about 2x the graphics performance of the previous model though CPU changes will be less noticeable. Still, we should see much improved 1080p streaming video performance without the dropped frames that were a problem last generation.

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For connectivity, Intel has moved from a single USB port to a pair, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0. There is still a requirement for external power via the micro USB port on the side.

The design is definitely more refined and feels higher quality than the original Compute Stick concept. This model is shipping today and should have an MSRP of $159 on the market.

More interesting are the pair of new Core-based Compute Sticks. There are two different models, one with a Core m3-6Y30 and another with a Core m5-6Y57 and vPro support. These devices get a nice bump to 64GB of internal eMMC storage, which Intel promises has better performance to take advantage of the USB 3.0 ports, along with 4GB of DDR3-1833 memory to keep things running smoothly.

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The processor differences are noteworthy here – the Core m5-6Y57 has a sizeable advantage in peak boost clock, hitting 2.8 GHz versus only 2.2 GHz on the Core m3-6Y30. Base clocks are 1.1 GHz and 900 MHz, respectively, so I am curious how much time these devices will spend in the higher clocked modes in this form factor. As with the original Compute Stick, all three of the new models include an active fan cooling system.

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The build quality on the Core variants of the Compute Stick are very similar to the Atom Cherry Trail model, though with a couple of unique changes to the I/O. On the device itself you have just a single USB 3.0 port and a single USB 3.0 Type-C connection used for both power and data.

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On the wall power connector though, Intel has smartly integrated a USB 3.0 hub, giving us two more USB ports available at the wall, moving data to the Compute Stick itself through the Type-C cable. It’s really neat design idea and I can easily see this moving toward more connectivity on the power device in the future – maybe additional displays, audio outputs, etc.

The STK2M3W64CC, the Core m3-6Y30 variant that has Windows 10 pre-installed, will MSRP for $399. A version without Windows (STK2M364CC) will sell for around $299. Finally, the Core m5-6Y57 model, the STK2M3W64CC, is going to be $499, without an OS, targeted at the business markets. All three will be shipping in February.

We have a Cherry Trail Compute Stick in our hands already for testing but I am very curious to see how both the Core m3 and Core m5 version of the device improve on it with performance and usability. It’s very possible that these 4.5 watt parts are going to be more than enough for a large portion of the market, making truly headless computing a viable solution for most workloads.

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MSI and HTC team up for Vive support as well as two tools for streamers

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:05 AM |
Tagged: vive, nahimic, msi, dragon eye, CES

Along with the hardware that MSI is teasing us with at CES comes a project worthy of note.  It would seem that MSI has been working with HTC to provide out of the box support for the Vive, assuming you buy components with the power to push that many pixels at the necessary speed.  There is little meat as to the specifics but any work done before the product is released which gives first adopters a helping hand is a valuable thing when it comes to sales.

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For those gamers who love to livestream their gaming sessions or record them for editing and later publication should take a peek at Dragon Eye and Nahimic 2, two new software tools MSI will be releasing.  Nahimic 2 is an HD Audio Recorder to ensure captured or broadcasted audio is of high quality and also includes Sound Tracker which will give you graphic indications of noise sources in games, assuming you would stoop that low.  Dragon Eye is for video and its usage is also quite different from Nahamic2.  It will allow you to easily use its picture-in-picture feature to watch Youtube videos and other streams in a small window while you are gaming. 

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At the very least it will be handy to see your team mates screen or to watch a walkthrough while playing a game, again assuming a certain moral turpitude on the part of the player.

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Source: MSI

Four full systems announced by MSI, Vortex Gaming Tower Impresses

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:04 AM |
Tagged: Vortex Gaming Tower, Nightblade X2, Nightblade MI2, msi, Gaming 27XT, Cubi 2 Plus, CES

Along with the laptops comes three full sized prebuilt systems and a mini-PC at MSI's display booth.  Most are customizable, the price you pay depends on the components you choose and the case you prefer, two of which have picked up awards.

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First we have the Vortex Gaming Tower which as you can see from the picture is not configured like a normal PC at all.  The cylindrical shape is 6.5 litres, about 1.7 gallons which is an odd measurement but does mean the case is rather small.  Don't let that fool you about the interior components, it comes with two GTX 980's in SLI and their proprietary 360° Silent Storm Cooling.

MSI - Gaming 27XT.JPG

The Gaming 27XT comes with an impressive and almost unique feature, support for an external GPU.  It is an All-in-One PC, with a 144Hz display and is likely powered by Intel's HD graphics if you do not choose to mount a GPU on the back of the display.  The placement should also help keep that GPU cool by separating its airflow from the rest of the components.  Nahimic Audio Enhancer and a Killer Lan NIC come standard.

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The familiar Nightblade Series gains two new members, the Nightblade X2 and MI2.  The systems both use a Skylake motherboard with the X2 being compatible with cards up to the GTX 980ti and the MI2 stopping at the 970.  As you should expect both systems use  Military Class 4 components and come with a variety of tools from MSI.

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Last comes the tiny Cubi 2 Plus system, competition for the NUC and ZBOX.  It will be powered by a 6th Gen Skylake-S processor so it will be more than capable of handling duties as a media server.  More importantly it has support for both an M.2 SSD and  a 2.5" SSD ensuring you are not forced into using a drive you would rather not have.  You can also see four USB ports on the front which means plenty of room for expansion even with a mouse and keyboard connected.

Keep your eyes peeled for more detailed information as the team on the ground visits the MSI booth in person.

 

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Source: MSI

MSI has number of neat new laptops for you

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:03 AM |
Tagged: WS72 Workstation, msi, GT72S Tobii, GS72 Stealth Pro, GS40 Phantom, CES

MSI is revealing a long list of laptops, systems, motherboards, GPUs, and even new software to use.  Up first are the laptops, of which there are three.  The GS40 Phantom is a 14" gaming laptop with a Skylake processor and NVIDIA GTX 970M graphics but yet weighs only 3.75 lbs and is less than 0.87 inches thick. 

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Next up is the larger GT72S Tobii which offers a unique feature, Tobii Eye-Tracking technology built into the laptop.  That allows facial recognition and eye tracking in applications and games, currently this would apply to Windows Hello, which enables Windows 10 biometric authentication and eye-tracking functionality.  In the near future the release of Tom Clancy’s The Division will add a game to the list of supported applications.  You can read more about them here.

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MSI are also updating their Stealth lineup with the GS72 Stealth Pro, which currently features a 4k screen, with another model coming out very soon with a non-4K display for those who don't see the point of such a high resolution on a 17" laptop.  It is also rather thin, at 0.78".

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To finish up the laptops is the workhorse, the WS72 Workstation.  This comparatively thick laptop is powered by an Intel Xeon and is certified to work with a long list of professional applications such as Autodesk, Adobe, PTC Creo, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Maya, and Revit.\

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Las Vegas – January 6th, 2016 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, showcases the future of PC gaming technology with an award-winning selection of ultra-portable and desktop-replacement laptops, gaming AIOs, compact desktops, and more; including CES Innovation Honorees GS40 Phantom, Gaming 27XT, and Vortex Gaming Tower.

“Gamers demand reliable, versatile and powerful products that address their gaming needs, and our newest selection of gaming warriors address those demands,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “PC gaming is constantly evolving and our award-winning selection rises to any challenge.”

 

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Source: MSI

MSI teases their new motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:02 AM |
Tagged: Z170A, X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON, msi, GAMING PRO CARBON, CES, B150M GAMING 3X

We will let MSI tell you about the two new Carbon editions of their popular Gaming Pro and Godlike Gaming motherboards as well as the B150M GAMING 3X in their own words for now.  Expect more once we lay Mk.1 eyeballs on the products.

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Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON Edition - Sporting the latest Intel® Z170 chipset and the latest version of Mystic Light, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON Edition motherboard is sure to offer outstanding performance and customization of your system. Enjoy crystal-clear immersive in game sounds from the premium quality components of Audio Boost 3. Steel Armor ensures the most heavyweight graphics card setups are solid and stable. Engineered to provide both a stunning gaming and visual experience, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON Edition gives you plenty of reasons to show off.

X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON Edition - The world’s most powerful gaming motherboard solution just got better. The X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON Edition motherboard features the improved Mystic Light RGB LED feature, supporting up to 16.8Million colors and 16 LED effects to style your rig in any way possible. Featuring the patented Turbo Socket, the X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON Edition removes all limits by providing extra pins (2036 in total) for better overlocking of the Intel® extreme processors. Dominate the world of gaming and overclocking while looking awesome with the new X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON Edition motherboard.

B150M GAMING 3X - MSI celebrates its 30th Anniversary with the B150M GAMING 3X, with a golden PCB and red color scheme – which represents fortune and bliss in traditional Chinese culture. The B150M GAMING 3X inherits MSI’s GAMING DNA, with a powerful GAMING LAN to experience ultrafast online gaming, and Audio Boost 3 for a crystal clear immersive gaming experience. This special 30th Anniversary model will include a MSI GAMING mouse as a bundle deal!

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Source: MSI

CES 2016: Silicon Motion Updates SM2246EN for 3D NAND, Teases TLC and PCIe

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: tlc, SM2260, SM2258, SM2256, SM2246EN, slc, SK Hynix, silicon motion, mlc, micron, Intel, imft, CES 2016, CES, 3d nand

Silicon Motion has updated their popular SM2246EN controller to support MLC 3D NAND from IMFT and SK Hynix:

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The SM2246EN acts as a gateway for third parties to make their own SSDs. Adding support for 3D NAND is good news, as it means we will be able to see third party SSDs launch with 3D flash sourced from Intel, Micron, or SK Hynix. Another cool tidbit is the fact that those demo units in the above photo were equipped and operating with actual 3D NAND from Intel, Micron, and SK Hynix. Yes, this is the first time seeing packaged MLC 3D NAND from a company other than Samsung. Here are some close-ups for those who want to read part numbers:

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Another question on non-Samsung 3D NAND is how does its performance stack up against planar (2D) NAND? Silicon Motion had a bit of an answer to that question for us:

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Keep in mind those are results from pre-production firmware, but I was happy to see that my prediction of IMFT 3D NAND speeds being effectively equal to their previous 2D flash was correct.

To knock out some other info overheard at our briefing, Silicon Motion will also be making an SM2258, which will be a TLC 3D NAND variant of the SM2256. In addition, we saw the unreleased SM2260:

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...which is Silicon Motion's PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD controller. This one is expected to surface towards the middle of 2016, and it is currently in the OEM testing stage.

Lots more storage goodies coming later today, so stay tuned! Full press blast for the updates SM2246EN after the break.

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CES 2016: Razer Blade Stealth Has External GPU Dock

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 12:59 AM |
Tagged: razer, CES 2016, CES, blade stealth, blade

I've been seeing a handful of Razer laptops in my day-to-day life. They are known to pay attention to details, including the precise shade of green that their USB ports are colored. This seems to translate well to designing ultrabooks. Once again, they announced a new line of Razer Blade PCs. The headlining feature is the Razer Core external graphics enclosure, but I'm more interested in the display.

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First, the graphics. Instead of integrating a discrete, mobile GPU, Razer is using the Intel HD 520 graphics on their chosen Core i7-6500U Skylake processor. This is not a powerhouse. It can barely play Rainbow Six: Siege and Star Wars Battlefront on low settings. It is power efficient though, and it will handle just about any professional, media, or light gaming task you throw at it. If you want to use it for high-performance graphics, then you will need to connect their optional Razer Core GPU dock by Thunderbolt 3. Pricing and availability are not yet available for that, which can be a deal-breaker quite easily. The other problem is that the Skylake processor is dual-core (four threads). Even with a good GPU, some games might be riding the line on the CPU side. It allows you to dock whatever graphics card you like, though. It's worth considering once we get the rest of the details.

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But back to the laptop. As I mentioned before, the screen is possibly more interesting than the graphics situation. The panel is based on IGZO technology, which fights with IPS in terms of picture quality. You have two choices in resolution: 2560x1440 with 70% Adobe RGB, or 4K with 100% Adobe RGB. That doesn't seem like much, but Adobe RGB is actually a very wide color space, designed to cover both video and print color spaces. Even the professional grade Dell monitors do not claim 100% Adobe RGB, although they've come within 3% for years now. Having full coverage of Adobe RGB could be very appealing to professionals, especially magazine publishers and similar jobs.

The Razer Blade Stealth is available now, starting at $999.

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Source: Razer

CES 2016: Samsung Announces 850 EVO-based Portable SSD T3 - Updated

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 12:15 AM |
Tagged: T3, ssd, Samsung, portable, msata, CES 2016, CES, 850 EVO

We got our first look at the Samsung T1 SSD at CES 2015. The concept was simple - Make a very compact external portable encrypted drive, and make it fast. Based on a 3D VNAND equipped mSATA 850 EVO and using an ASMedia USB to SATA bridge, the T1 had no issue saturating the SATA side of the link and was capable of well over 400 MB/s over a USB 3.0 link.

This year Samsung is teasing the next iteration on this product:

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Dubbed the T3 (T2 doesn't translate well in some other languages), the T3 has some notable changes / updates / upgrades over the T1 of last year:

  • Type-C connector on the device end of the cable (we assume the included cable will link to Standard A for compatibility). The T1 used micro-B.
  • Metal case / housing. T1 was all plastic.
  • Capacities up to 2TB. T1 was limited to 1TB.

Full press blast / additional details / specs appear after the break. Look out for a review of this one just as soon as we can get our hands on one!

*Update* I got my hands on one at a Samsung press dinner. Here it is next to the older T1. The T3 is a tiny bit larger and thicker, but the difference is hardly noticeable as the T1 was very thin and light as it was. Here's a pic:

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Source: Samsung

CES 2016: NVIDIA talks SHIELD Updates and VR-Ready Systems

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 09:39 PM |
Tagged: vr ready, VR, virtual reality, video, Oculus, nvidia, htc, geforce, CES 2016, CES

Other than the in-depth discussion from NVIDIA on the Drive PX 2 and its push into autonomous driving, NVIDIA didn't have much other news to report. We stopped by the suite and got a few updates on SHIELD and the company's VR Ready program to certify systems that meet minimum recommended specifications for a solid VR experience.

For the SHIELD,  NVIDIA is bringing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the device, with new features like shared storage and the ability to customize the home screen of the Android TV interface. Nothing earth shattering and all of it is part of the 6.0 rollout. 

The VR Ready program from NVIDIA will validate notebooks, systems and graphics cards that have the amount of horsepower to meet the minimum performance levels for a good VR experience. At this point, the specs essentially match up with what Oculus has put forth: a GTX 970 or better on the desktop and a GTX 980 (full, not 980M) on mobile. 

Other than that, Ken and I took in some of the more recent VR demos including Epic's Bullet Train on the final Oculus Rift and Google's Tilt Brush on the latest iteration of the HTC Vive. Those were both incredibly impressive though the Everest demo that simulates a portion of the mountain climb was the one that really made me feel like I was somewhere else.

Check out the video above for more impressions!

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Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: ASUS Announces MB169C+ USB Type-C Monitor

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: usb monitor, usb 3.0, mb169c+, CES 2016, CES, asus

I somehow missed the ASUS MB168B+ USB 3.0 monitor. It is a 15.6-inch, 1080p, TN display that connects to the PC by a single USB 3.0 cord. This provides both power and video, so you can have multiple monitors on the go without struggling to find a wall outlet. At the very least, you can reduce it to just the one charging your laptop.

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This was upgraded at CES to the MB169C+. It has a few differences. First, it uses an IPS display instead of the MB168B+'s TN panel. This should provide better color and viewing angles. It also switches from a USB 3.0 Type-A connector to a USB 3.0 Type-C one, which is starting to arrive in smaller laptops and tablets (which have to be running Windows for this device). The display is 8.5mm thick and weighs 1.76 lbs.

Pricing and availability vary by region.

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Source: ASUS

CES 2016: ASUS Announces MG Line of 4K Monitors

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 08:20 PM |
Tagged: asus, CES, CES 2016, mg28uq, mg24uq, vrr, freesync, adaptive sync

Two 4K monitors were announced by ASUS at the show. Both use VESA Adaptive-Sync for variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming, which means they are compatible with AMD FreeSync, but not NVIDIA G-Sync. If you want to use the latter VRR standard, then you would be more interested in the ROG Swift PG348Q monitor that was announced in September. There was talk that Intel would be implementing a VRR format VESA Adaptive-Sync in a future GPU.

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ASUS MG24UQ

If you're still here, then you either don't care about variable refresh, or you are looking for an AMD-compatible one. The first one is the 24-inch MG24UQ. It is based on an IPS panel, which are used for vibrant, precise colors and wide viewing angles. They tend to be a little slower than traditional “gaming” panels, but that is so low for the last couple of years that IPS is considered a pure upgrade. The second monitor, the 28-inch MG28UQ, is not IPS, though.

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ASUS MG28UQ

Again, no pricing or availability yet as it varies by region.

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Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2016: RIOTORO Launches with Prism CR1280 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, riotoro, RGB LED

Some former employees of Corsair and NVIDIA founded a new company, called RIOTORO. All they state is that they develop “innovative PC components,” so it's difficult to gauge where the intend to go in the future. Their website also lists gaming mice and keyboards. They started with a test market in Latin America, but now they feel they are ready to take on the US market.

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Their first product, the Prism CR1280, is a PC case with 256-color RGB LED lighting. Color and fan speed can be controlled by the front panel, which should mean that you don't need yet another driver panel running to change little details on your system. The case itself has the ability to mount a 360mm radiator (or up to three 120mm radiators) on the top, and an additional 240mm radiator in the front, and yet another 120mm radiator in the rear.

The RIOTORO Prism CR1280 will be available in February for $139.99. It comes with a two year warranty.

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Source: RIOTORO

CES 2016: ASUS Announces ROG GT51 Gaming Desktop

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, gaming desktop, CES, CES 2016, ROG, rog gt51

While many of our readers that are interested in high-end desktop PCs will typically assemble their own, a handful might like to get someone else to deal with the assembly and support. That's perfectly valid. You will typically spend a little more, especially if you value your free time as free labor, but that might be worth it for some.

asus-2016-GT51 side.png

The ASUS ROG GT51 gaming desktop PC will be one such option. It places itself at the high end, to say the least. It has the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700K paired with “up to” a pair of NVIDIA GeForce TITAN X graphics cards. ASUS, like their individual components, support overclocking on the device with their tuning software. The machine also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port, which is highly sought after, even in the DIY motherboard space.

Again, no pricing or availability. I expect the top-of-the-line version will be pretty expensive though, especially with two TITAN X GPUs. It also might be a bit much, since the video cards have been out for almost a year and Pascal might arrive at any time. It might be worth it if they offer other options, like the 980 Ti, depending on your specific needs.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2016: ASUS Announces XG Station 2 External Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: external graphics, CES 2016, CES, asus

While external graphics has been a thing for quite some time, it was rarely an available thing. Several companies, such as AMD, Lucid, and others, announced products that were never sold. ASUS had their XG Station for Windows Vista that allowed laptops to plug into a GeForce 8600 GT, which was only available in Australia. Only now are we beginning to see options from Alienware, MSI, and even Microsoft that are widely available.

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ASUS is jumping back in, too. Not much is known about the XG Station 2, except that it is “specially designed for ASUS laptops and graphics cards.” This sounds like it is using a proprietary connector, similar to Alienware and MSI, to connect to ASUS laptops. Also saying it's specifically for ASUS graphics cards is a bit confusing, though. If it is an open PCIe slot, I'm not sure why or how it would be limited to ASUS cards. If the graphics cards are pre-installed, then we don't know the list of potential GPUs.

Either way, ASUS states that the dock can be disconnected without shutting down the PC. I'm interested to see how the GPU is supposed to be unplugged, as Alienware's option can only be done when the system is off, and Microsoft's Surface Book has a software detach with a hardware latch. The connector will also charge the laptop, which is an interesting add-in.

Pricing and availability varies, like the other ASUS announcements, by region.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: ASUS

CES 2016: Fasetto Teases Link SSD Storage Platform

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, Fasetto, Link, wifi, NAS, ssd, Samsung, vnand, 802.11ac

Fasetto is a company previously known as one of those cross-platform file-sharing web apps, but I was shocked to see them with a space at CES Unveiled. Companies without physical products tend to fall flat at this type of venue, but as I walked past, boy was I mistaken!

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To give the size a bit of perspective here, that's a business card sitting in front of the 'Link', which only measures 1.9x1.9x0.9" and weighs just under 4 ounces. That's a belt clip to the right of it. Ok, now that we have the tiny size and low weight described, what has Fasetto packed into that space?

  • Aluminum + ABS construction
  • Waterproof to 45 feet (and it floats!)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 802.11AC dual band WiFi (reportedly 4x4)
  • 4GB RAM
  • Quad core ARM CPU
  • 9-axis compass/accelerometer/gyro
  • 1350 mAh Li battery
  • Wireless charging (Chi style)
  • Up to 2TB SSD

For a portable storage device, that is just an absolutely outstanding spec sheet! The Link is going to run an OS designed specifically for this device, and will have plugin support (simple add-on apps that can access the accelerometer and log movement, for example).

The BIG deal with this device is of course the ability to act as a portable wireless storage device. In that respect it can handle 20 simultaneous devices, stream to seven simultaneously, and can also do the expected functions like wireless internet pass-through. Claimed standby power is two weeks and active streaming is rated at up to 8 hours. Even more interesting is that I was told the internal storage will be Samsung 48-layer VNAND borrowed from their T3 (which explains why the Fasetto Link will not be available until late 2016). This is sure to be a hit with photographers, as WiFi compatible cameras should be able to stream photos to the Link as the photos are being taken, eliminating the need to offload cameras at the end of a shoot.

We will definitely be working with Fasetto to help shake out any bugs prior to the release of this little gem. I suspect it might just be the most groundbreaking storage product that we see come out of this CES.

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CES 2016: Activision Blizzard Confirms MLG Purchase

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.

Activision_Blizzard_logo.png

According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.

As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.

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CES 2016: ASUS Announces ZenFone Zoom Smartphone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: zenfone zoom, zenfone, CES 2016, CES, asus

Here is another x86 smartphone from ASUS. Sebastian reviewed the ZenFone 2 in June, which he gave an Editor's Choice award to. It was a high-performance, very responsive phone with a great, IPS screen, and it was available for just $199 or $299.

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Today, they are announcing the ZenFone Zoom. This one has a 3x optical zoom using lenses from HOYA. The camera also has a laser autofocus that, ASUS claims, can adjust in three hundredths of a second. While auto modes are available, it also allows the user to override ISO gain, exposure, white balance, and “other options.” It has a dual-LED flash, which is said to generate photos with “more lifelike colors and skin tones.” No flash can overcome the physics of flooding light from a single, small point source. Any dominant light will dominate shadows, which exaggerate wrinkles, intensify oil glare, and so forth. While you will always get better photos in an environment that is lit from several, wider angles, it's good to have a flash that can make the most of a bad situation (have a good control over color, etc.).

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Two SoCs are available for this phone. The lower-end chip is the same as the ZenFone 2's higher-end one, the Intel Atom Z3580 (up to 2.3 GHz boost). A higher-end processor is available as well, the Z3590, which gives a 200 MHz bump in boost frequency (up to 2.5 GHz boost). All models are backed with 4GB of RAM, which is a huge amount for a phone. It will come in two storage sizes: 64GB or 128GB. It also includes a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 128GB. It uses the Intel LTE modem.

The ASUS ZenFone Zoom will be available in February, with prices starting at $399.

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Source: ASUS