Steam "Store Within a Store" at GameStop, GAME UK, and EB

Subject: Systems | October 5, 2015 - 07:39 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam os, steam machines, steam, pc gaming

According to SteamDB, Valve has struck deals with GameStop, GAME UK, and EB Canada to create “store within a store” areas in North American and UK locations. The article does not clarify how many of stores will receive this treatment. It does note that Steam Controller, Steam Link, and even Steam Machines will be sold from these outlets, which will give physical presence to Valve's console platform alongside the existing ones.


The thing about Valve is that, when they go silent, you can't tell whether they reconsidered their position, or they just are waiting for the right time to announce. They have been fairly vocal about Steam accessories, but the machines themselves have been pretty much radio silence for the better part of a year. There was basically nothing at CES 2015 after a big push in the prior year. The talk shifted to Steam Link, which was obviously part of their original intention but, due to the simultaneous lack of Steam Machine promotion, feels more like a replacement than an addition.

But, as said, that's tricky logic to use with Valve.

As a final note, I am curious about what the transaction entailed. From what I hear, purchasing retail space is pricey and difficult, but some retailers donate space for certain products and initiatives that they find intrinsic value in. Valve probably has a lot money, but they don't have Microsoft levels of cash. Whether Valve paid for the space, or the retailers donated it, is question that leads to two very different, but both very interesting in their own way, follow-ups. Hopefully we'll learn more, but we probably won't.

Source: SteamDB

Microsoft to Announce New Windows 10 Devices

Subject: Systems | October 5, 2015 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, surface, Surface Pro, surface pro 4, hp, Lenovo, dell, asus, acer, toshiba

Tomorrow at 10 am ET, Microsoft will host a live stream to announce “new Windows 10 devices from Microsoft”. It's pretty obvious that we'll get at least one new Surface device announced, which rumors suggest will be the Surface Pro 4 with a low-bezel, 13-inch display. W4pHub, via VR-Zone, goes a bit further to claim that the display can shrink to 12 inches when in tablet mode, giving a frame for the user to hold. If true, I wonder how applications will handle the shift in resolution. Perhaps the only problem is a little flicker, which will be hidden by the rest of Continuum's transition?


Image Credit: VR-Zone

The Microsoft Blog post also lists the announcement dates of their partners. Here's the rundown:

  • October 7th -- HP
  • October 8th -- Dell
  • October 9th -- ASUS
  • October 12th -- Acer
  • October 13th -- Toshiba
  • October 19th -- Lenovo

While the rush of Windows 10 devices have missed the Back to School season, despite Microsoft's attempts to rush development with a July release, it looks like we might get a good amount of them for the holiday season. I was a bit worried, seeing how slowly Threshold 2 seems to be advancing, but they seem to have convinced OEMs to make a big deal out of it.

Then again, it could be holiday fever.

Source: Microsoft

Qotom Fanless PCs on Amazon

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 26, 2015 - 10:52 PM |
Tagged: qotom, fanless, Broadwell, SFF

FanlessTech found quite a few models of small form factor PCs on Amazon and, while it's not listed in the specifications, some of the manufacturer Q&A responses state that they are fanless designs. Each of these devices are built around the Broadwell Core i7-5500U, but that might not even be the best part. Each PC has 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, and 2x Gigabit Lan. Dual LAN and Dual HDMI opens up quite a few possibilities for a cheap, silent PC, especially since it has a relatively high-performance processor.


Prices range from $360 to $444 for 2GB of RAM and 8GB up to 256GB of SSD storage (with several models between). A single 8GB RAM model, with a 256 GB SSD, is also available for $483. They also found one with an i3 processor, but you need to bring your own RAM, SSD, and WiFi. It does have the same port layout, four USB 3.0, two HDMI, and two gigabit LAN, but might make more sense to grab the Core i7 versions unless you already have DDR3L RAM and an SSD hanging around (or 2GB is insufficient and the 8GB model is out of your price range). At $221 USD plus these components, you probably will not be saving much to compensate for the drop in performance. You can also find some Core i5 models, too.

Quite a bit to consider, but I think that many would benefit from the thought.

Source: FanlessTech

ASUS Updates Transformer Book Lineup with T100HA and TP200SA

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 11:48 AM |
Tagged: transformer book, TP200SA, T100HA, intel atom, convertible tablet, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has updated their Transformer Book lineup today with new options for both the convertible tablet and 2-in-1 laptop designs.

T100HA_3K_Gray _(12)_NC.jpg

First up we have the revised T100 model, the T100HA, which has a significant hardware update. Now featuring an Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5 Z8500 processor over the current T100TA's Bay Trail-T options, and the T100HA also features 4GB of memory standard.

T100HA_3K_Gray _(11).jpg

Here's a look at the full specs from ASUS:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom 'Cherry Trail' x5 Z8500 (up to 2.24 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 10.1in WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Tablet I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps), 1x Micro USB port, 1x Micro HDMI, 1x Micro SD card slot, 1x headphone/mic combo jack
  • Keyboard dock I/O: 1x USB 2.0
  • Cameras: 2MP front / 5MP back
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Size: (Tablet) 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.33 inches; (Keyboard Dock) 
  • 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.28~0.39 inches
  • Weight: (Pad only) 1.28 lbs; (Keyboard dock) 1.04 lbs

Next up we have the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA, an 11.6-inch  2-in-1 design with an Intel Celeron N3050 (Braswell) processor.

TP200SA_3G_Crystal Silver_(15).jpg

Here are specs for the TP200SA:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Celeron 'Braswell' N3050 (up to 2.16 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 11.6in WXGA (1366 x 768) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Micro 
  • HDMI, 1x Micro SD, 1x headphone/mic combo
  • Camera: VGA front
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Color: Dark Blue
  • Size: 11.69 x 7.93 x 0.73 inches
  • Weight: 2.65 lbs

These new Transformer Book models are set for a late September availability with pricing at $299 for the T100HA and $349 for the TP200SA.

Source: ASUS

Arbor Solutions Announces FPC-7800 Fanless, Rugged PCs

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 19, 2015 - 05:34 PM |
Tagged: arbor, fanless, ruggedized

This is an interesting product for a couple of reasons. First, it uses the fourth-generation Haswell processors, rather than the newer Skylake or Broadwell components. On the other hand, it uses LGA-1150 components up to the 45W Intel Core i7-4770TE, which explains the lack of Broadwell and Skylake, because only Core i3 Skylake processors fit both of those constraints currently.


The device is rated for -4F to 131F and an undisclosed amount of shock and vibration. They support 2.5” drives, but the site only lists Intel SSDs. You would probably not want a spinning hard drive in a PC that you are concerned about shock and vibration tolerances. It also supports up to 16GB of DDR3 (again, Haswell) RAM, which should give you a fairly robust system to leave running in the middle of nowhere.

Like other systems that we've seen earlier, the case itself acts as a heatsink, which brings the product's weight up to 14.1 pounds. When you deal with these types of cooling solutions, it's difficult to tell whether they are rated with still air, or a sufficient breeze to carry the heat away from the case fins. It's not something that's advertised.

No pricing or availability is listed.

The new Braswell LIVA X2 from ECS is a nice upgrade

Subject: Systems | September 14, 2015 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: ECS, LIVA X2, SFF, Braswell, Intel

The new LIVA X2 ships with a Braswell N3050, either 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 and either 32GB or 64GB eMMC local storage.  That new chip brings much better support for peripherals, such as M.2 cards of up to 1TB in size, three USB 3.0 port, HDMI and D-Sub as well as a combo audio port and even internal microphones.  For connectivity, you can choose a mix of LAN cable, WiFi a/c and Bluetooth 4.0.  You can see the inside of the device as well as performance results over at Mad Shrimps.


"The Braswell-equipped LIVA X2 is a much needed improvement over the original LIVA which brings more USB ports to the table, the ability to install a M.2 SSD up to 1TB for increased storage capacity while keeping a small footprint and very low power consumption (8.8W IDLE, 19.71W Full Load). Despite the new generation SoC, we have seen that its arithmetic performance is very close to the original LIVA, while the 3D one has been increased."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

Dell XPS 12 Might Be a Surface Pro Alternative

Subject: Systems | September 14, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: xps 12, thunderbolt 3, Surface Pro, dell

So Microsoft got a form factor right when they designed the Surface and Surface Pro tablets. The concept is basically a tablet with a kickstand that can be attached magnetically to a keyboard at the bottom. We are seeing a few OEMs do their own versions, although some question whether it is imitation or a license from Microsoft.


Image Credit: Giga

One such device is the Dell XPS 12, and it has some fairly interesting components according to a leak from Giga. This tablet has a 4K screen with 400 nits of brightness, which is useful for outdoor viewing. It is supposedly compatible with the Dell Active Stylus. This pen apparently has good reviews, but it takes AAAA batteries (not a typo). They might be difficult to find when you need them once every two to three months. The keyboard is backlit, but I'm not sure if it can be used as a cover.

The most interesting addition is Thunderbolt 3, though. The standard uses the USB Type-C connector and supports 40 Gbps along with several other features. We don't know what processor it will use, but Skylake seems likely even though it's not required for Thunderbolt 3. It would seem silly to have new technology paired with older processors though, unless they had a surplus of something.

The Dell XPS 12 is rumored to launch in October, but nothing official and no pricing yet.

Source: Giga

IFA 2015: ASUS Introduces ROG G752 Gaming Notebook with 4K and Skylake

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebooks, laptops, IFA 2015, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, G752, asus, 4k

ASUS has announced the newest addition to their Republic of Gamers (ROG) gaming laptop lineup, the G752. What's new? ASUS offers these bullet points:

  • All-new chassis with new design theme
  • New plasma copper, armor titanium and lava red color
  • Intel Skylake platform
  • NVIDIA graphics up to a GTX 980M 8GB
  • Optional 4K display
  • Thunderbolt 3.0 technology
  • Gaming keyboard with anti-ghosting 30-key rollover with 2.5mm long-travel keys


The high-end model is the ROG G752VY, which boasts these specs:

  • 17.3” AG FHD IPS LED backlit display (1920x1080) with G-SYNC / 17.3” AG UHD IPS LED backlit display (3840x2160) with G-SYNC
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ / i7-6820HK Processor (TBD)
  • Mobile Intel CM236 Chipset
  • DDR4 2133 MHz memory up to 64 GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M GPU with 4 GB / 8 GB GDDR5
  • 2.5” SATA 2TB 5400 RPM HDD/1TB 7200 RPM HDD/1TB SSHD, PCIEX4 M.2 NVME 512 GB / 256 GB / 128 GB SSD
  • DVD Super-Multi / Blu-ray combo / Blu-ray writer
  • Built-in HD camera and array mic
  • (WxDxH) 428 mm X 334 mm X 23~53 mm, 4.38 Kg (with 8-cell battery)

With the option of a 4K display and some serious specs the G752VY covers the bases for a desktop-replacement gaming powerhouse, topping the list of new laptops.

Sitting below the G752VY is the G752VT (yes this is a different laptop, though you could easily mistake the “T” for the other model name’s “Y”), and this 17.3” laptop differs in GPU selection with the GTX 970M and is only offered with a FHD 1920x1080 IPS display. Rounding out the lineup is the G752VL which has the GeForce GTX 965M GPU, and is otherwise virtually identical.

These new gaming laptops will be available in Q4, and pricing starts at $1499.

Source: ASUS

IFA 2015: Acer Aspire V Notebook Series Gets Skylake and Advanced Wi-Fi

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer

Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.

Aspire_V3-372_white_acercp_straight on.jpg

The Aspire V 13

"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."

MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.

Aspire V15 Nitro VN7-592_08.jpg

The Aspire V 15 Nitro

What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:

  • 6th Gen Intel Core processors
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
  • NVIDIA GeForce graphics
  • (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
  • Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model

Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.

Aspire V17 Nitro VN7-792_win10_02.jpg

The Aspire V 17 Nitro

Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.

Source: Acer

IFA 2015: Lenovo Introduces New ideapad Notebook Lineup

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, Lenovo, laptops, Intel Skylake, Intel Braswell, IFA 2015, ideapad 500S, ideapad 300S, ideapad 100S, Ideapad, gtx, APU, amd


Lenovo has unveiled their reinvented their ideapad (now all lowercase) lineup at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and the new laptops feature updated processors including Intel Braswell and Skylake, as well as some discrete AMD and NVIDIA GPU options.


At the entry-level price-point we find the ideapad 100S which does not contain one of the new Intel chips, instead running an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU and priced accordingly at just $189 for the 11.6” version and $259 for the 14” model. While low-end specs (2GB RAM, 32GB/64GB eMMC storage, 1366x768 screen) aren’t going to blow anyone away, these at least provide a Windows 10 alternative to a Chromebook at about the same cost, and to add some style Lenovo is offering the laptop in four colors: blue, red, white, and silver.


Moving up to the 300S we find a 14” laptop (offered in red, black, or white) with Intel Pentium Braswell processors up to the quad-core N3700, and the option of a FHD 1920x1080 display. Memory and storage options will range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD. At 0.86" thick the 300S weighs 2.9 lbs, and prices will start at $479.

A lower-cost ideapad 300, without the “S” and with more basic styling, will be available in sizes ranging from 14” to 17” and prices starting between $399 and $549 for their respective models. A major distinction will be the inclusion of both Braswell and Intel 6th Gen Skylake CPUs, as well at the option of a discrete AMD GPU (R5 330M). 


Last we have the ideapad 500S, available in 13.3”, 14”, and 15.6” versions. With Intel 6th Gen processors up to Core i7 like the 300S, these also offer optional NVIDIA GPUs (GTX 920M for the 13.3", 940M for the 14"+) and up to FHD screen resolution. Memory and storage options range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD, and the 500S is a bit thinner and lighter than the 300S, with the 13.3” version 0.76” thick and 3.4 lbs, moving up to 0.81” and 4.6 lbs with the 15.6” version.

A non-S version of the ideapad 500 will also be available, and this will be the sole AMD CPU representative with the option of an all-AMD solution powered by up to the A10-7300 APU, or a combination of R7 350M graphics along with 6th Gen Intel Core processors. 14” and 15” models will be available starting at $399 for the APU model and $499 with an Intel CPU.

All of the new laptops ship with Windows 10 as Microsoft’s newest OS arrived just in time for the back-to-school season.

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2015: Lenovo Announces ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460 2-in-1 Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: YOGA 460, YOGA 260, ultrabook, thinkpad yoga, skylake-u, Lenovo, laptop, IFA 2015, 2-in-1

The newest versions of the ThinkPad Yoga are here, and these updated models feature the latest Intel 6th Gen Core (Skylake-U) mobile processors while retaining the trademark 360-degree hinge.


First up we have the ThinkPad Yoga 260, the 12.5-inch variant. This is the original form-factor from the ThinkPad Yoga S1, and while screen size and resolution options haven’t changed virtually everything else about this new laptop has.

The Yoga 260 makes use of the newest Intel CPUs from Core i3 to i7, and unlike that first TP Yoga S1 this uses DIMMs which creates the possibility of upgrading after purchase – but that probably won’t be necessary as the configuration options allow for a very powerful system:

  • 12.5-inch multi-touch display with 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel Core i3-6100U, i5-6200U, i5-6300U, i7-6500U, i7-6600U processors
  • Up to 16 GB DDR4 DIMM
  • Up to 512 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth® 4.1, WiFi Combo Card, SCR, LTE-A
  • 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+ and microSD ports
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10 / Windows 7

The ThinkPad Yoga 260 starts at 2.9 lbs and will be offered in both black and silver finishes. We will update with pricing/availability when available.

Next there is the 14-inch version, the ThinkPad Yoga 460.


The specs for the larger version of the new ThinkPad Yoga are a little more business-oriented than the 260 with an anti-glare screen option, DDR3L memory, and standard HDD storage available, and the 460 also adds a discrete GPU option:

  • 14-inch multi-touch display with 1920x1080 (glossy or anti-glare) or 2560x1440 (glossy) resolution
  • Up to 6th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors
  • Up to 8 GB DDR3L
  • Up to 1TB HDD, 256 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi Combo Card, 802.11ac WLAN, WWAN Connectors
  • 3x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+, 4-in-1 Media Card Slot
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10


The Yoga 460 is constructed from a carbon fiber material and starts at 3.9 lbs, and will also be offered with either a black or silver finish. We’ll update with pricing/availability information for this one as well when it's announced.

Source: Lenovo

VAIO PCs Are Coming Back to the US in the Fall

Subject: Systems | August 25, 2015 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: vaio, z canvas

Sony's PC manufacturing division, VAIO, was spun out and sold off to Japan Industrial Partners last year. In the process, it shrunk down to about 250 employees and exited every market besides Japan. While it wasn't profitable last year, which makes sense for a restructure of this size, it expects to be floating on its own for this one.

This sounds like a SquareEnix ad...

They are also confident enough to expand back into the US.

This Autumn, which Paul Thurrott narrows down to October, VAIO will begin selling PCs through Microsoft's retail stores and website. The VAIO Z Canvas will be the first model to hit North America, which will have a PCIe 3.0-based SSD. The compute specs are less extraordinary as it is built around Intel Haswell-H and Iris Pro graphics. This is likely because the machine was previously released a few months ago in Japan, but it targets creative professionals so it should be sufficient in those areas. The high speed, PCIe SSD might even mask its weak points in typical usage.


We then get to the price. The VAIO Z Canvas will launch above $2000, which is much more expensive than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It comes with a stylus, keyboard screen protector, and no bloatware under the “Microsoft Signature PC” branding. We will probably need to wait and see if any pricing or last minute specification adjustments occur before launch, but this seems like it will have some issues unless the SSD is much larger than 256 GB as rumored.

Source: VAIO

Overall GPU Shipments Down from Last Year, PC Industry Drops 10%

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | August 17, 2015 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: NPD, gpu, discrete gpu, graphics, marketshare, PC industry

News from NPD Research today shows a sharp decline in discrete graphics shipments from all major vendors. Not great news for the PC industry, but not all that surprising, either.


These numbers don’t indicate a lack of discrete GPU interest in the PC enthusiast community of course, but certainly show how the mainstream market has changed. OEM laptop and (more recently) desktop makers predominantly use processor graphics from Intel and AMD APUs, though the decrease of over 7% for Intel GPUs suggests a decline in PC shipments overall.

Here are the highlights, quoted directly from NPD Research:

  • AMD's overall unit shipments decreased -25.82% quarter-to-quarter, Intel's total shipments decreased -7.39% from last quarter, and Nvidia's decreased -16.19%.
  • The attach rate of GPUs (includes integrated and discrete GPUs) to PCs for the quarter was 137% which was down -10.82% from last quarter, and 26.43% of PCs had discrete GPUs, which is down -4.15%.
  • The overall PC market decreased -4.05% quarter-to-quarter, and decreased -10.40% year-to-year.
  • Desktop graphics add-in boards (AIBs) that use discrete GPUs decreased -16.81% from last quarter.


An overall decrease of 10.4 % year-to-year indicates what I'll call the continuing evolution of the PC (rather than a decline, per se), and shows how many have come to depend on smartphones for the basic computing tasks (email, web browsing) that once required a PC. Tablets didn’t replace the PC in the way that was predicted only 5 years ago, and it’s almost become essential to pair a PC with a smartphone for a complete personal computing experience (sorry, tablets – we just don’t NEED you as much).

I would guess anyone reading this on a PC enthusiast site is not only using a PC, but probably one with discrete graphics, too. Or maybe you exclusively view our site on a tablet or smartphone? I for one won’t stop buying PC components until they just aren’t available anymore, and that dark day is probably still many years off.

Source: NPD Research

Another look at Shuttle's DS57U barebones SFF system

Subject: Systems | August 10, 2015 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: Celeron 3205U, DS57U, shuttle, SFF

Madshrimps have just wrapped up testing the Intel Celeron 3205U powered Shuttle DS57U, a SFF system which can be mounted to the back of a monitor with VESA or placed beside your monitor in the included stand.  The presence of two serial ports, WOL and resume after power outage mean this little system could also be used in industrial or POS duties.  It is worth noting that this system only supports 1.35V SODIMMs, make sure to choose the proper RAM to avoid disappointment.  Check out the full review here; if you like the case but not the CPU there are i3, i5 and even an i7 model for you to consider.


"Shuttle has built the DS57U inside a proven chassis, which takes quite little space and succeeds to cool the internal components without the need of extra fans; one of the case laterals is acting like a huge heatsink and in this case it only remains warm even when the system is stressed to the max."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

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.


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.


"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."

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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.


"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."

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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.


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."


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 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.


Image from

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.


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.


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