ZOTAC Injects Palm-Sized ZBOX nano XS with Double Dose of Performance

Subject: Systems | October 1, 2014 - 10:29 AM |
Tagged: zotac, SFF, nano xs, MI521, Core i3 4030U

ZOTAC is releasing the new MI521 nano XS model using the Haswell Core i3 4030U with HD4400 graphics with support for mSATA SSDs and two DDR3 slots capable of handling up to 16GB of RAM.  The two models listed below are the same, in one case you do not have to supply your own RAM and SSD, the other comes with only the processor inside.  The branding is skewed more towards the multimedia capabilities but these could also function quite well for office work, with support for 4K workspaces and perhaps a little entertainment once you've polished off that Word doc.

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HONG KONG – Oct. 1, 2014 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and manufacturer of graphics cards and mini-PCs, today injects the palm-sized ZBOX nano XS chassis with a double dose of performance from a 4th Generation Intel Core i3 processor. The new ZOTAC ZBOX MI521 nano XS series delivers a dual-core punch and expansive connectivity in an extra small size for an excellent mini-PC experience.

“ZOTAC is a pioneer when it comes to packing as much performance as possible into the smallest form factor possible. Our latest ZBOX MI521 nano XS series takes that same formula and gives it more performance and connectivity to create a mini-PC that’s perfect for office productivity or multimedia tasks,” said Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International.

New to the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series is a very efficient and capable Intel Core i3 4030U dual-core processor with Intel HD Graphics 4400. The new processor enables dual display capabilities on the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series with standard HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs for maximum work productivity.

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A suite of Intel technologies including Clear Video HD, InTru 3D and Quick Sync Video transforms the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series into the perfect HTPC for high quality HD video playback, including CPU-intensive Hi10P formats. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi technologies round out the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series features to provide compatibility with popular input devices and high-speed network connectivity to wireless home networks.

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Source: Zotac

HP Releases Cheaaaaaap PCs and Windows Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 30, 2014 - 01:15 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer

Before I get into the devices, the $149 HP Stream 8 tablet and certain models of the HP Stream 13 laptop (the ones with an optional 4G modem) includes "free 4G for life" for customers in the USA. Reading in the fine print, the device company apparently signed a deal with T-Mobile for 200MB/mo of 4G service. Of course, 200MB will barely cover the Windows Update regimen of certain months, but you have WiFi for that. It is free, and free is good. I can guess that T-Mobile is crossing their fingers that dripping a drop of water on the tongues of the thirsty will convince them to go to the fountain.

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If it works? Great. That is just about the most honest way that I have ever seen a telecom company attract new customers.

Back to these devices. Oh right, they're cheap. They are so cheap, they barely have any technical specifications. The $199.99 HP Stream 11 laptop has an 11-inch display. The $229.99 HP Stream 13 laptop has a 13-inch display and can be configured with an optional 4G modem. Both are passively cooled (more fanless PCs...) and run on a dual-core processor. Both provide a year of Office 365 Personal subscriptions. Both are available in blueish-purple or pinkish-purple.

The two tablets (7-inch Stream 7 and 8-inch Stream 8) are a similar story. They run an x86 processor with full Windows 8.1 and a year's subscription to Office 365. Somehow, the tablets are based on Intel quad-core CPUs (rather than the laptop's passively cooled dual-cores) despite being cheaper. Then again, they could be completely different architectures.

While HP is interested in, you know, selling product, I expect that Microsoft's generous licensing terms (see also the Toshiba alternative we reported earlier) is an attempt to push their cloud services. They know that cheaper device categories cannot bare as much royalties as a fully-featured laptop, and not having a presence at those prices is conceding it to Google -- and conceding that to Google is really giving up on cloud services for those customers. The simple solution? Don't forfeit those markets, just monetize with your own cloud service. I doubt that it will harm their higher-end devices.

The four devices (Stream 7 - $99, Stream 8 -$149, Stream 11 - $199, Stream 13 - $229) are coming soon.

Source: HP

Europeans: Atlast! Has Haswell-based Fanless NUCs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: fanless, nuc, haswell

The Akasa Newton X is a fanless case for the NUC form factor that was announced in May and released a couple of months ago. Now, we are beginning to see system builders (albeit in Europe) integrate it in some higher-end devices. This one, from Atlast! Solutions, is built around the Intel Core i5-4250U, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage (512GB Crucial M550 mSATA + 1TB 840 EVO SATA), and up to 16GB of RAM. It can also be configured with up to two-antenna Wireless AC.

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The Core i5-4250U is a dual-core (four threads) processor that is rated for 15W TDP. Its on-chip GPU is the Intel HD Graphics 5000 with a peak, theoretical compute throughput of 704 GFLOPS. This makes it a little under three-times the graphics performance of an Xbox 360. In terms of PC games, you are looking at Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on low at 1024x768 (or basically whatever your home server can do if used as a stream-to target).

Prices currently start at £449.00 for 4GB of RAM and 60GB of mSATA SSD, including VAT.

Thanks to FanlessTech for covering this story.

Check out results of The Tech Report's hardware survey

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: survey, components

The Tech Report have compiled the data from their survey of readers machines and the data is now posted in this article.  You can see how your build compares to the major trends that they observed, from the number and type of monitors that you use to the amount of RAM you have installed.  The most interesting page covers the odd facts which were revealed such as the overwhelming predominance of ATX boards and cases that are being used despite the fact that 75% of respondents having only a single card installed in their systems.  It is also interesting to note a mere 10% of those responding use more than one GPU.  Check out the findings here.

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"Typical PC enthusiasts may spend more on their PCs than you might think—and by the looks of it, their taste for high-end hardware isn't just limited to core components. Those are two of the main takeaways from the TR Hardware Survey 2014, in which we invited readers to answer 26 questions about their PCs. Around 4,000 of you participated over a period of about a week and a half, and the results paint an enlightening picture of current trends in the hobbyist PC realm. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

MSI KingBox MS-9A66 for Their Industrious... Fans

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 26, 2014 - 11:16 PM |
Tagged: msi, kingbox, ms-9a66, fanless, industry, ruggedized

This is not usually a category of computer that we report on, but MSI has just released a fanless, embedded desktop for industrial applications. Silent PCs seem to be talked about more and more frequently, and I am not sure how much of it is industry trends (as opposed to me just paying more attention). Their focus on this design is performance while remaining rugged and, as mentioned a few times, fanless.

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Note that it supports CPUs with a maximum of 35W TDP. This leaves room for MSI to include up to a Core i7-4785T in the device, but we do not know if this is actually offered. It has four expansion bays, one PCIe x16 and three regular PCI slots. It does not have an ISA slot, though. I am sure this will be disappointing to some enterprises, and Josh. He probably still has a graphics card for it. You might think I would be joking. I am, but sadly I also am not.

For power, the device can accept anywhere from 9 to 36V DC. Basically, it seems to be based on laptop components with expansion slots for add-in boards. You can also purchase a fan "module" for it if, for one reason or another, it is still the best PC for the job even if it wasn't fanless.

Pricing and specific availability are not provided, but it is apparently released.

Source: MSI

Samsung Stops Selling Laptops and Chromebooks in Europe

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 24, 2014 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Chromebook, laptop

This does not apply to our North American readers, although it is good for them to know. To our European fans: Samsung has pulled out of the laptop market, for devices running either Windows or ChromeOS, in your region. The company is not commenting on how many jobs will be lost as a result of this decision. Samsung is not halting operations in any other region and this decision "is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets".

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Parallels are drawn with Sony and its VAIO division, but this is significantly different. Sony sold its PC business to Japanese Industrial Partners who, in July, relaunched the brand in Japan. Samsung has not sold any division although there is rumors of upcoming restructuring. While Samsung will retain their brand and continue to develop products for the other regions, pulling away is always concerning for customers. It really could be a geographic anomaly, like Xbox was in Japan, or it could be a warning tremor. We simply do not know.

Source: PC Advisor

Tranquil MonoOne Is a Fanless All-in-One

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 23, 2014 - 05:34 PM |
Tagged: transquil, monoone, all-in-one, fanless

This announcement does not have too much information to go on, but Tranquil PC is launching their MonoOne all-in-one PC at the end of the month. It will be fanless and milled out of solid aluminum. This solid chunk of metal helps keep the device cool. It is a large mass of metal with fins cut out of it for extra surface area.

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Specifications are not listed. We do not even know the screen resolution, processor, drive, I/O ports, or RAM. Current speculation is that it will use a low power Core-level CPU. It looks like it has a removable metal stand and a VESA mount for the wall. In fact, it looks like the stand is attached by the bottom two wall-mount points but I cannot see for sure.

The MonoOne launches at the end of September.

Source: Tranquil

ECS "Design Your Own LIVA" Competition Is Almost Over!

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 17, 2014 - 11:27 PM |
Tagged: LIVA, ECS, case mods, case mod contest

ECS USA is holding a competition for North American users to design mods for the LIVA mini PC kit. The contest consists of three phases and round one, whose winners will advance to the second phase, ends on September 30th. If you want to enter in the contest, you will need to submit your first phase entry before then to be eligible for the second phase. Check out Morry's post for a second opinion.

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What are the phases?

Round 1 (Ends September 30th): You will need to publish the "soft copy" of your design draft to Facebook. This will consist of six illustrations: Front, Rear, Left Side, Right Side, Top, and 45-degree 3D illustration. See the image below for an example. The top ten participants, based on Facebook likes, will be provided with a white LIVA mini PC kit to modify in Round 2.

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Round 2 (Ends October 31st): The winners of Round 1 will, using the provided LIVA kits and your design draft, implement their customizations. Photographs of these modified cases will be sent to ECS (I assume by Facebook) for a team of judges to rank them first, second, third, or runner-up.

Round 3 (November 7th): Sit back, relax, and wait for the judges to select winners. The Champion will receive $1000 USD for their trouble, second place will get $500 USD, and third will get $300 USD. The honorable mentions will get various swags.

The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada. Do it fast! It's less than two weeks and, as I understand it, the later you enter, the less time you will have to accumulate Facebook likes.

Source: ECS

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Is Selling Out?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 14, 2014 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: surface 3, surface, microsoft

Through their blog, Microsoft claims that their Surface Pro 3 devices are selling out in their recently added, overseas markets. In parts of Australia, all models were sold out early in the first day (we can of course question how many is "some retailers" and how much stock each had). The company expects to have appropriate stock levels in a week or two.

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Honestly, I never quite get these announcements of low stock. While it is better than having too much stock, and these releases might ease the nerves of shy investors, having too low stock is a problem, too. It is often a sign of something lacking: production, confidence, market insight, distribution, and so forth. It can tell an interesting story if these sales figures are immense, see the Nintendo Wii, but often it just raises a critical eyebrow. This is especially true if concrete figures are danced around.

I mean, if someone is at a store and looking for a Surface but none is available, do you really need to let them know that you intend to make more?

Source: Microsoft

ChromeOS Gets Android "App Runtime for Chrome (Beta)"

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome os, Android

To some extent...

This is not the entire Google Play Store; in fact, it is just four Android apps at launch: Duolingo, Evernote, Sight Words, and Vine. According to a Google spokesperson, via Ars Technica, the company built an Android platform on top of Native Client, which is their way of sandboxing (a subset of) native code for use in applications which require strict security (such as a web browser). Android apps can then see and use those platform-dependent Android APIs, but be kept at two arms-lengths away from the host system.

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From the app's standpoint, code will not need to be changed or ported. Of course, this is sound in theory, but little bugs can surface in actual practice. In fact, Flipboard was demonstrated at Google I/O under this initiative but is curiously absent from launch. To me, it seems like a few bugs need to be resolved before it is deemed compatible (it is dubbed "Beta" after all). Another possibility is that the app was not yet optimized for a Chromebook's user experience. Claiming either would be pure speculation, so who knows?

Android apps using App Runtime for Chrome (Beta) are available now at the Chrome Web Store.

Source: Google

Intel Loves Exponential Trends: Shrinking Mini-PCs

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 12, 2014 - 11:20 AM |
Tagged: idf, idf 2014, nuc, Intel, SFF, small form factor

A few years ago, Intel introduced the NUC line of small form factor PCs. At this year's IDF, they have announced plans to make even smaller, and cheaper, specifications that are intended for OEMs to install Windows, Linux, Android, and Chrome OS on. This initiative is not yet named, but will consist of mostly soldered components, leaving basically just the wireless adapters user-replaceable, rather than the more user-serviceable NUC.

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Image Credit: Liliputing

Being the owner of Moore's Law, they just couldn't help but fit it to some type of exponential curve. While it is with respect to generation, not time, Intel expects the new, currently unnamed form factor to halve both the volume (size) and bill of material (BOM) cost of the NUC. They then said that another generation after ("Future SFF") will halve the BOM cost again, to a quarter of the NUC.

What do our readers think? Would you be willing to give up socketed components for smaller and cheaper devices in this category or does this just become indistinguishable from mobile devices (which we already know can be cheap and packed into small spaces)?

Source: Liliputing

Toshiba Chromebook 2: 13-inch Full HD IPS Display

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 9, 2014 - 07:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, Chromebook, chromebook 2

Somehow, I heard about Toshiba's $120, Windows 8.1 tablet but not their Chromebook 2. This ChromeOS-based laptop will have a choice between one of two 13.3-inch displays. The entry level is standard HD while the premium model is upgraded with a 1080p, IPS monitor. Prices range from $249.99 to $329.99. It is expected to be available on October 5th.

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On the low end, you are looking at a browser-only device with 2GB of RAM, and Intel Celeron processor, 802.11ac, HDMI out, an HD webcam, two USB ports (one 2.0 and one 3.0), and an SD card slot. The higher-end device is the same, except with the better screen and double the RAM (4GB). At $330, that is a pretty good deal if you can live in Google Chrome day-in and day-out. Of course, this raises concerns about browser lock-in because you are buying a device with only one choice. That said, you are doing the same if you buy iOS, FirefoxOS, or Windows RT devices, so it is not a complaint about ChromeOS, specifically.

As stated, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 will be available October 5th, starting at $249.99.

Source: Toshiba

ASUS ZenBook UX305 Will Be Based on Core M (Broadwell)

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 8, 2014 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: Intel, asus, core m, broadwell-y, Broadwell, 14nm, ultrabook

This will probably be the first of many notebooks announced that are based on Core M. These processors, which would otherwise be called Broadwell-Y, are the "flagship" CPUs to be created on Intel's 14nm, tri-gate fabrication process. The ASUS ZenBook UX305 is a 13-inch clamshell notebook with one of three displays: 1920x1200 IPS, 1920x1200 multi-touch IPS, or 3200x1800 multi-touch IPS. That is a lot of pixels to pack into such a small display.

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While the specific processor(s) are not listed, it will use Intel HD Graphics 5300 for its GPU. This is new with Broadwell, albeit their lowest tier. Then again, last generation's 5000 and 5100 were up in the 700-800 GFLOP range, which is fairly high (around medium quality settings for Battlefield 4 at 720p). Discrete graphics will not be an option. It will come with a choice between 4GB and 8GB of RAM. Customers can also choose between a 128GB SSD, or a 256GB SSD. It has a 45Wh battery.

Numerous connectivity options are available: 802.11 a, g, n, or ac; Bluetooth 4.0; three USB 3.0 ports; Micro HDMI (out); a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack; and a microSD card slot. It has a single, front-facing, 720p webcam.

In short, it is an Ultrabook. Pricing and availability are currently unannounced.

Source: ASUS

Toshiba Encore Mini Is Windows 8.1 for $119.99

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 6, 2014 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, tablet, cheap tablet, cheap computer, x86, Windows 8.1

While you should only get a cheap PC if you have a need for one, Toshiba is selling a $120 tablet with Windows 8.1 and a quadcore, Intel Atom processor. It also includes a single year of Office 365 Personal, which contains Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, an 1TB of OneDrive storage (normally $69 or twelve installments of $7/mo).

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While RAM has not been announced, it contains 16GB of storage, expandable with a microSDXC card of up to 128 GB. It is based on a 7-inch, 1024x600 multi-touch display. Of course, 16GB of internal storage is about as low as you can have Windows 8.1 be installed within. In fact, it is the minimum requirements for 32-bit (64-bit requires 20 GB). You will not be fitting too many applications on your main drive.

The tablet also has a front-facing webcam and a back-facing 2 megapixel camera for photos and video.

The Toshiba Encore Mini is available now for an MSRP of $119.99.

Source: Toshiba

Lenovo Shows Off New Y70 Touch Notebook and ERAZER Desktop Gaming PCs

Subject: Systems | September 4, 2014 - 12:42 AM |
Tagged: y70 touch, Lenovo, haswell, gaming notebook, gaming, Erazer

Yesterday, Lenovo unveiled two new gaming systems at IFA in Berlin. The new Y70 Touch is a 17-inch gaming notebook while the Erazer X310 and Erazer X315 are mid-tower desktops. All three systems will be available later this month.

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The Y70 Touch is Lenovo's first desktop replacement notebook with a touchscreen. The 25.9mm thick notebook features a 17.3" 1080p display, backlit keyboard, and JBL-powered stereo speakers (with subwoofer). It can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 processor, NVIDIA GTX 860M GPU with 4GB RAM, 16GB of DDR3 system memory, and 1TB solid state drive (SSD). (Storage options include 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SSD options.) Lenovo is including an external disc drive with the gaming PC which was left out of the chassis itself to maintain its slim form factor and to reduce weight.

The Y70 Touch gaming notebook starts at $1,299 and will be available in the US later this month.

If desktops are more your style, Lenovo is now offering up the Erazer X310 and X315 mid-tower PCs. The X310 and X315 will share the same black mid-tower chassis but will use different internal hardware. the X310 with Intel Haswell CPUs will be available worldwide while the AMD APU-powered X315 will be exclusive to North America.

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The ERAZER X310/X315 case is all black with a stealthy angular front panel design that hosts two 5.25" bays and a blue LED-backlit power button. The X310 can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 CPU while the X315 supports AMD "Kaveri" APUs up to the A10 series (e.g. A10 7850K). Users can choose up to a NVIDIA GTX 760 (2GB) or AMD Radeon R9 255 (2GB) graphics card. The mid-tower has four PCI slots and in theory could support further DIY upgrades but GPU length would be limited and the power supply may need to be upgraded as well. Further, both systems feature up to 32GB system memory and a maximum of 4TB mechanical hard drive, 2TB hybrid hard drive or 256GB solid state storage.

The new ERAZER X310 and X315 desktops will be available shortly starting at $599.

For those interested in the APU-powered desktop, the following articles might be of interest.

Source: Lenovo

MINIX Neo Z64 Is x86-64 and $129

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 3, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: fanless, htpc, windows, Android

Because fanless and cheap PCs are awesome, MINIX is launching the Neo Z64. Priced at $129 USD, it will contain an Intel Atom Z3635F SoC with 2GB of DDR3L and 32GB of eMMC internal storage. The device will ship loaded with Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) but is compatible with Windows 8.1, if you have a license for it.

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Externally, the device features a microSD card slot (maximum size not specified), one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an IR receiver (with remote), and HDMI 1.4. Note that HDMI is the only audio outputs on this device, which could be tricky if you want to run it as something other than a home theater PC (if you do not have a USB sound card that is compatible with your chosen OS). Lastly, it also has 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless support.

This is still a significant price premium over some other devices, like a Roku, but could be useful for some. The lack of any SteamOS mention is a bit disconcerting, given that the free OS could be applied to turn the device into an In-Home Streaming target (or host of simple, Linux-compatible games, like Super Meat Boy). Hopefully, future products will consider Valve's home theater platform.

The MINIX Neo Z64 will be available in October for $129.

Source: FanlessTech

Puget Systems Offering X99-Based Deluge XL Gaming PCs

Subject: Systems | September 2, 2014 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: X99, puget systems, Puget, pre-built, Intel, Haswell-E, gaming

Puget Systems has joined the X99 fray with its Deluge XL gaming PC. The new system joins the existing Deluge which is based around Haswell and the Z97 chipset. This high end, liquid cooled, PC starts at $3,920.67 and is available now.

Puget Systems Deluge XL X99 Haswell-E Liquid Cooled Gaming System_Fractal Design Case.jpg

The Deluge XL features a Fractal Design Define XL R2 chassis, ASUS X99 Deluxe motherboard, up to an Intel Core i7 5960X processor, 16GB DDR4-2133 memory, single and multi-GPU options from NVIDIA and AMD, multiple storage options that include SSDs and mechanical drives, and a bottom mounted EVGA SuperNOVA P2 1,000W power supply to drive it all. Both the CPU and graphics card(s) are liquid cooled in a custom water loop comprised of a Koolance PMP-400 pump, 3/8" clear tubing (with an in-line flow meter), Koolance CPU-380 processor waterblock, and Koolance GPU waterblock(s). Users can further elect to upgrade the thermal paste to Arctic Cooling MX-2 and upgrade and/or add additional case fans. A blue LED lighting kit is available as an optional add-on along with other accessories. The Deluge XL can be configured with the Ubuntu Linux 14.04, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7 operating system.

Puget Systems Deluge XL X99 Haswell-E Liquid Cooled Gaming System.jpg

The base model comes with a GTX 780 graphics card and 500GB mechanical hard drive which does leave something to be desired. The motherboard is one of the highest end Haswell-E models out there and the PSU is up to the task of running almost any hardware, however. Switching out the above mentioned GPU and HDD for an AMD Radeon R9 290 and a 250GB Samsung 840 EVO respectively brings the price up to $4,087.10.

It's not cheap, but it is powerful and for some enthusiasts the simplified support along with not needing to spend time researching and building (and doing good cable management!) makes a pre-built system worth it. Puget is not the only game in town though, and other boutique system builders are rolling out their own X99-based PCs as well. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more news!

Falcon Northwest Offering X99 Based PCs In Three Form Factors

Subject: Systems | August 31, 2014 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: X99, system builder, SFF, Intel, Haswell-E, falcon northwest

Haswell-E is official and components supporting the new X99 platform are flooding the market (or at least your news feed!). Intel's latest chip is not just for the DIY crowd, however. Boutique system builders have started announcing their refreshed lineups. First up is Falcon Northwest which has refreshed its product lineups to feature Haswell-E in small form factor (Micro ATX), mid-tower, and full tower systems.

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Falcon Northwest has updated the Mach V, Talon, and FragBox PCs to include Haswell-E, updated X99 chipset motherboards, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, and the latest connectivity options such as at least six USB 3.0 ports and up to 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports. 

Users will be able to configure the refreshed models with any of Intel's launch CPUs: the six core i7 5820K, hexacore i7 5930K, and flagship 8-core i7 5960X (our review). All three processor options will come with a liquid cooler and optional overclock.

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A tray of Intel Core i7 5930K Haswell-E Processors. Photo Courtesy Falcon Northwest.

Per the press blast, Falcon Northwest President Kelt Reeves had the following to say about Intel's new enthusiast desktop platform:

“In our 23 years of building high-end PCs, I can’t ever remember seeing this much new tech hitting at the same time.” said Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest. “Our fall desktop lineup of Intel X99-based systems with 8-core CPUs, 10 SATA ports, 12 USB 3.0 ports, and 64 gigs of DDR4 memory make the systems we built even a year ago look like antiques. Intel X99 is that big of a leap forward.”

The new systems can be configured with various storage, graphics card, and case/aesthetical options much like their predecessors. The newer platform which supports more processor power, 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, and DDR4 (which uses less power and offers up more bandwidth versus DDR3) is the notable factor here.

The small form factor (and LAN party friendly) FragBox PC starts at $2,313. The mid-tower Talon and full tower Mach V start at $2,330 and $3,021 respectively. You can find the updated custom built boxes on the Falcon Northwest website.

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While I would not go as far as Mr. Reeves, I do think Haswell-E noticeably improves upon Ivy Bridge-E and it brings hardware to bear that will be most welcomed by professionals in workstations and servers that can take advantage of the power. For enthusiasts and gamers, it also represents a much waited-for trickle down of technology from the Xeon lineup of an Intel chip with 8 physical cores to consumers at a price that is relatively affordable (heh).

Are you excited for Haswell-E? Will you be upgrading or carrying on with your current setup? Here's hoping Broadwell-E (or whatever the next generation ends up being called, of course) brings the 8 core monster to the $400 space so my i7 860 can finally rest and graceful Linux test box retirement before I end up killing it from too much time overclocked and over-volted ;).

A Haswell powered ZBox

Subject: Systems | August 28, 2014 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: SFF, zotac, zbox, zbox ID92. haswell

The Zotac Zbox ID92 is not quite as small as the PI320 pico at 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" (188 x 188 x 51 mm) nor as inexpensive as it ships for $486 sans memory, storage and OS.  However with a 2.9GHz Core i5-4570T is significantly more powerful and the HD4600 GPU will allow you to enjoy some light gaming and to enjoy 4K content with an appropriate display.  With both SATA and mSATA the storage subsystem is more agile and also upgradeable as are the two SO-DIMM slots.   The Tech Report quite liked this device for media but suggest those intending to spend more time gaming spend an extra $100 on the Zbox EN760 with its GTX860M.

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"In recent months, we've reviewed two Gigabyte mini-PCs with Haswell inside. In light of those experiences, we figured we'd take a look at one of Zotac's newest Zbox systems: a 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" machine with a 35W Haswell processor, room for dual storage devices, and generous connectivity."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

ASUS Quietly Refreshes Its Transformer T100 Tablet With New Hardware and Color Options

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | August 28, 2014 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, transformer t100, Intel, Bay Trail, Atom Z3775, asus

Following rumors earlier this summer, ASUS has quietly refreshed its Transformer T100 tablet. ASUS is now offering T100 tablet versions in multiple colors with a faster Intel Bay Trail processor as well as a version that retains the original SoC but adds a 500GB hard drive to the keyboard dock. I have been keeping an eye on the T100 since it first launched almost a year ago at IFA 2013, and have been eagerly waiting for the rumored refresh. Fortunately, that wait is now over because the updated Transformer T100s are finally starting to appear and be available for purchase on retailers' websites (first at Tiger Direct, then Amazon, and others now).

ASUS T100 Red Windows 8 Tablet.jpg

The T100 is now available in red and white as well as the original gray. The red and white SKUs feature a higher end Bay Trail SoC while the updated gray SKU comes with a 500GB mechanical hard drive nested inside the keyboard dock. The table below lists the model numbers for the new tablets. I should note that there are conflicting specifications at different retailers for the model numbers listed, which makes this under-the-radar refresh so frustrating, but after a bit of digging I believe the specifications to be accurate and any conflicting information to simply be errors on the part of those retailers.

New ASUS Transformer T100 Tablet SKUs (T100 Refresh)
Model Numbers Processor Internal Storage Color Price (Amazon) Price (MSRP)
T100TA-C1-WH(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC White $394.99 $399
T100TA-C1-RD(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Red $388.99 $399
T100TA-C1-GR(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Gray $329.99 $399
T100TA-H2-GR Intel Z3740 64GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $449.99 $?
T100TA-H1-GR Intel Z3740 32GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $369.00 $399

The new colors are nice (I'm partial to the red T100), but the upgraded processor is the truly interesting bit about this Windows tablet (which won PC Perspective's "Best Hardware of 2013" award). The original T100 launched with an Intel Atom Z3740 SoC an the refreshed Transformer T100 uses a higher clocked Atom Z3775. The Z3775 is a higher-end Intel Bay Trail processor with four Silvermont CPU cores clocked at 1.46GHz that can boost to as high as 2.39GHz. The HD Graphics GPU retains the same base clockspeed as the Z3740 but has a higher turbo frequency of 778MHz (versus 667MHz on the Z3740). The table below lists the specifications of the two chips. The new SoC has significantly higher CPU clocks and a decent boost to potential GPU horsepower (thermals permitting).

Intel Atom SoC Z3740 Z3775
CPU Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores
CPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 1.33GHz / 1.86GHz 1.46GHz / 2.39GHz
HD Graphics GPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 311MHz / 667MHz 311MHz / 778MHz
L2 Cache 2MB 2MB
Memory Support 4GB 1066MHz 4GB 1066MHz
SDP 2W 2W
Process Node 22nm 22nm
Tray Price $32.00 $35.00

The refreshed T100 has an MSRP of $399 USD for the red and white versions with 64GB eMMC storage and gray SKU with 32GB internal storage and 500GB keyboard dock though retail prices are slightly less than that at the time of writing. The Transformer T100 with 64GB eMMC and additional 500GB hard drive has a retail price of around $450 but the MSRP is unknown.

ASUS T100 White WIndows Tablet.jpg

If you have been holding off, now is a good time to pick up an updated version for a small price premium (or an older version at a discount!). However, if you already own a T100, the relatively minor update will is a hard to justify upgrade (you would likely be better off waiting on Cherry Trail-based devices with better battery life or other improvements as possible upgrades).