Razer Blade Gaming Laptop Refreshed for 2015

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 3, 2015 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: razer blade, razer, nvidia, Intel, GTX 970M

When the Razer Blade launched, it took a classy design and filled it with high-end gaming components. Its competitors in the gaming space were often desktop replacements, which were powerful but not comfortable, every-day laptops. The Blade also came with a $2800 (at the time) price-tag, and that stunted a lot of reviews. It has been refreshed a few times since then, including today.


The New Razer Blade QHD+ has a 14-inch 3200x1800 display, with multi-touch and an LED backlight. The panel is IGZO, which is a competitor to IPS for screens with a high number of pixels per inch (such as the 4K PQ321Q from ASUS). This is housed in a milled aluminum chassis that is about 7/10th of an inch thick.

Its power brick is rated at 150W, which is surprisingly high for a laptop. I am wondering how much of that electricity is headroom for fast-charging (versus higher performance when not on battery). Most power adapters for common laptops that I've seen are between 60W and 95W. In a small, yet meticulously designed chassis, I would have to assume that thermal headroom of either the heatsinks or the components themselves would be the limiting factor.


On the topic of specifications, they are expectedly high-end.

The GPU was upgraded to the GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM (up from a 3GB 870M) and the CPU is now a Core i7-4720HQ (up from a Core i7-4702HQ). The system memory also got doubled, to 16GB (up from 8GB). It also has 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4a out, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and (of course) a high-end, backlit keyboard. Razer offers a choice in M.2 SSD capacity: 128GB for $2199.99, 256GB for $2399.99, or 512GB for $2699.99. This is kind-of expensive for solid state memory, $1.56/GB for the jump to 256GB and $1.17/GB to go from there to 512GB.

The New Razer Blade Gaming Laptop is available now at Razerzone.com in the US, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It will arrive at Microsoft Stores in the USA on February 16th. China, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, UAE, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia can purchase it on Razerzone.com in March. Prices start (as stated above) at $2199.99.

Source: Razer

ASRock Adds VisionX 471D To Small Form Factor PC Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 30, 2015 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: visionx, SFF, radeon, m270x, haswell, asrock, amd

ASRock has unleashed an update to its small form factor VisionX series. The new VisionX 471D adds a faster Haswell processor and dedicated Radeon mobile graphics to the mini PC.

ASRock VisionX 471D SFF Mini PC.jpg

The 7.9” x 7.9” x 2.8” PC chassis comes in black or silver with rounded corners. External I/O is quite expansive with a DVD optical drive, two audio jacks, one USB 3.0 port, one MHSL* port (MHL compatible port that carries both data and video), and a SD card reader on the front. Further, the back of the PC holds the following ports:

  • Audio:
    • 5 x Analog audio jacks
    • 1 x Optical audio out
  • Video:
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x HDMI
  • Networking:
    • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
    • 802.11ac (2 antennas)
  • Storage/Peripherals:
    • 5 x USB 3.0
    • 1 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x eSATA

ASRock has gone with the Intel Core i7-4712MQ processor. This is a 37W Haswell quad core (with eight threads) clocked at up to 3.3GHz. Graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon R9 M270X which is a mobile “Venus” GCN-based GPU with 1GB of memory. The 28nm GPU with 640 cores, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs is clocked at 725 MHz base and up to 775 MHz boost. The PC further supports two SO-DIMMS, two 2.5” drives, one mSATA connector, and the above-mentioned DVD drive (DL-8A4SH-01 comes pre-installed).

ASRock VisionX 471D Rear IO.jpg

The VisionX 471D is a “barebones” system where you will have to provide your own OS but does come with bundled storage and memory. Specifically, for $999, the SFF computer comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 2TB mechanical hard drive, and a 256GB mSATA SSD (the ASint SSDMSK256G-M1 using a JMF667 controller and 64GB 20nm IMFT NAND). This leaves room for one additional 2.5” drive for expansion. Although it comes without an operating system, it does ship with a Windows Media Center compatible remote.

This latest addition to the VisionX series succeeds the 420D and features a faster processor. At the time of this writing, the PC is not available for purchase, but it is in the hands of reviewers (such as this review from AnandTech) and will be coming soon to retailers for $999 USD.

The price is on the steep side especially compared to some other recent tiny PCs, but you are getting a top end mobile Haswell chip and good I/O for a small system with enough hardware to possibly be "enough" PC for many people (or at least a second PC or a HTPC in the living room).

Source: ASRock

CompuLab Fitlet PC Lineup Is Small and Fanless

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 16, 2015 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: nuc, fitlet-x, fitlet-i, fitlet-b, fitlet, compulab, APU, amd

The Israeli PC manufacturer, CompuLab Ltd., has announced three lines of small, fanless systems. They will be smaller than the NUC and run AMD APUs, from the E1 to the A4, which CompuLab claims are more powerful than NUCs of comparable prices. They can be configured with either Windows (7, 8, or 10) or Linux Mint. They are officially classified as Industrial PCs, and the 5-year warranty reinforces that association, but others might also be interested.


CompuLab Fitlet-b

Let's start in the middle with the Fitlet-i. With a TDP of 4.5W, it is powered by an AMD A4-6400T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.6 GHz boost). It can be configured with up to 8GB of DDR3 memory.

The other features of the Fitlet-i are:

  • Two 3.5mm stereo audio jacks (one in, one out)
  • One S/PDIF port
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Two HDMI 1.4 ports
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 802.11ac (clarified Jan 17th: built in, with external antennas I believe)
  • One microSD card slot
  • One eSATA port, rated at 6Gbps
  • One serial port (because industrial)
  • One mSATA socket (low profile)
  • One mini-PCIe socket (high profile, half or full size)

The Fitlet-X is similar to the above, except that it has four Gigabit Ethernet ports (instead of two), but it loses one USB 2.0 port (three total), has its Wireless downgraded to a USB 802.11n dongle, and it has no eSATA port. The extra pair of Gigabit Ethernet adapters is not the only perk though, as it has their “FACET card” interface, which provides 3 lanes of PCIe (if you want to take a risk on the interface).


CompuLab Fitlet-i

That leaves us with the Fitlet-b, which is the base model. Its TDP is slightly lower, 3.95W, and is powered by an AMD E1-6200T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.4 GHz boost). It has just one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, the USB 802.11n dongle, and just a full-size mSATA (low profile) expansion for storage. It does have both HDMI 1.4a outputs though.


CompuLab Fitlet-X

The Fitlet will be available in February, starting at $129 for the Fitlet-b barebone, via Amazon for North America and Europe. It will also be available directly from CompuLab and resellers for the rest of the world.

Source: CompuLab

CES 2015: Intel Compute Stick Runs Windows for $149

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 12:56 AM |
Tagged: x86, Raspberry Pi, Intel, compute stick, chromecast, ces 2015, CES, atom

The Chromecast (and its open siblings) and the Raspberry Pi are interesting devices because they shrunk our concept of a compute device, which put them into new roles. Whether it is streaming media to your TV or controlling electronics on a high altitude balloon, you can use a full computer to do it. Full computers in new roles sound exactly like something Intel wants to research into lately.


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


The Intel Compute Stick with Windows will cost $149, which is significantly more than either a Chromecast or a Raspberry Pi. A Linux version, with 1GB of RAM (half of the Windows version) and 8GB of storage (a quarter of the Windows version), but at a significantly lower price of $89.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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Source: Intel

CES 2015: Intel Introduces NUC Hardware with 5th Generation Processors - Broadwell Arrives

Subject: Systems | January 6, 2015 - 08:09 PM |
Tagged: nuc, intel core, Intel, ces 2015, CES, Broadwell

Intel has announced new NUC units with 5th generation Intel Core processors and a dizzying array of complex model names.


It comes as no surprise that Intel's NUC lineup hs been upgraded to their newest 5th generation Core architecture, and these new units are powered by Core i3 and i5 Broadwell CPUs. The move to Broadwell will enable these new NUCs to operate with greater efficiency and lower power consumption, an especially vital advantage for systems housed in enclosures as small as 115mm x 111mm x 48.7mm (4.53" x 4.37" x 1.92"). There are a variety of new models to choose from, and Intel is highlighting specific usage examples to aid in the buying decision.


The featured NUC, memorably named NUC5i5RYH, is powered by the Core i5 5250U CPU which offers dual-core, 4-thread performance up to 2.7 GHz and supports 2.5" hard drives. Graphics are handled by the integrated Intel HD 6000 GPU which offers multi-display support via Mini DisplayPort (1.2) and Mini HDMI (1.4a). This model supports up to 16GB dual-channel DDR3L memory via two SoDIMM slots, with connectivity provided by Intel PRO Gigabit Ethernet and Intel Wireless-AC 7265.

Storage options for the NUC5i5RYH include M.2 (x4) and SATA 6.0 Gb/s for a SSD/HDD up to 9.5mm thick.


The NUC5i5RYH is joined by the NUC5i5RYK, NUC5i3RYH, NUC5i3RYK... Actually, just follow the link to see a comparison of the new Broadwell NUCs.

The new Broadwell NUCs will be shipping in February and March, depending on model.

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Source: Intel

CES 2015: Velocity Micro Announces New Lineup of Custom Built Laptops

Subject: Systems | January 6, 2015 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: velocity micro, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, customized, ces 2015, CES

Velocity Micro is announcing a new line of custom-configurable laptops with three versions.


The first is the Raptor MX70, a 17.3" gaming laptop with a matte finish 1080p screen. Like the other notebooks in this lineup, the buyer can choose their preferred CPU (in this case Intel Haswell Core i7 chips are available) and GPU.

Raptor MX70 Specifications:

  • 17.3” Full HD LED-Backlit Display, Matte Finish Screen
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 980M graphics options
  • Haswell-based Intel Core i7 processor options
  • Integrated camera, fingerprint scanner, backlit keyboard
  • Starting at $1999

Next we have the Raptor MX50, a smaller 15.6" design with the option of either 1080p IPS or a full 4K (probably not IPS) panel.


Raptor MX50 Specifications:

  • 15.6” 1920x1080 IPS screen, upgradeable to 3840x2160
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 980M graphics options
  • Haswell-based Intel Core i7 processor options
  • Integrated camera, fingerprint scanner, backlit keyboard
  • Starting at $1899

Finally we have the NoteMagix M17, a more affordable option that still has a large 17.3" screen and Core i7 processors.


NoteMagix M17 Specifications:

  • 17.3” Full HD LED-Backlit Display, Matte Finish Screen
  • NVIDIA GTX 850M options with Optimus technology
  • Haswell-based Intel Core i7 processor options
  • Integrated camera, fingerprint scanner

Units will begin shipping later this month.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

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CES 2015: Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro with Intel RealSense 3D

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 08:46 PM |
Tagged: Realsense 3D, realsense, notebook, Intel, ces 2015, CES, acer

Intel's “Perceptual Computing” initiative, later branded Intel RealSense 3D, is beginning to be integrated with consumer electronics. For a while now, developers could pick up a Creative Labs-produced SDK with a camera, depth sensor, and dual microphones (in an array) for $99 USD. We will probably hear more about it tomorrow during Intel's CES 2015 Keynote at 7:30pm EST. Hopefully, they will also have some compelling software to go along with it.


This is the previous model. For the new version, see the video below.

But this announcement is from Acer, which will launch a new Aspire V 17 Nitro notebook with a built-in Intel RealSense 3D camera. The company believes that the technology will be used for controlling games, or scanning your face and objects for 3D printing. I'm... not so sure about printing my face, but I could see facial recognition being an interesting feature of upcoming software, even if it is not good enough for secure authentication purposes.

The laptop itself will be built on a Haswell-based Core i7-4710HQ that is paired with a GeForce GTX 860M GPU (4GB GDDR5). It can be configured with up to 16GB of system memory, up to 256GB of SSD space, and up to a 1TB secondary hard drive. As the name suggests, the display is a 17-inch IPS panel, which is apparently not a touch-screen.

The Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro will be available this month, but no pricing information is available. The previous model is still on Acer's website for $1400 USD, without RealSense 3D.

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Source: Acer

CES 2015: Gigabyte Brix Broadwell is exactly what you think it is

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 07:35 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, ces 2015, CES, Broadwell, brix s, brix

Along with the launch of Intel's 5th Generation Core processor, codenamed Broadwell, Gigabyte announced a set of updated Brix and Brix s SFF systems using the new platform. The rest of the hardware remains mostly unchanged and the barebones "build your own" status is maintained. The "s" model supports a 2.5-in hard drive while the base models will support M.2 only.


Gigabyte plans Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 models based on Broadwell and the Core i7 model will include NFC capability on the top of the unit. Pricing and availability to come!

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CES 2015: MSI AG240 4K Edition Gaming All-in-One

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: msi, ces 2015, CES, all-in-one, AIO, ag240, 4k

Our review of the MSI AG270 Gaming AIO was pretty eye opening; I really didn't expect to find that kind of gaming capability inside an all-in-one chassis. Building on that success, MSI is preparing for a March release of the AG240 4K Edition, which as the name suggests, includes a 24-in 4K IPS monitor.


Other hardware specifications include a 4th Generation Haswell processor, a yet-to-be-named GTX 900-series mobility GPU from NVIDIA and up to 3x mSATA SSDs running in RAID-0 (MSI sure loves its SuperRAID). The 4K screen itself definitely looked nice though I am curious about the choice to only include a single GPU in a system with that many pixels. You can still play your games at 1080p though should GPU horsepower be a concern.

I'm sure we'll have a review sample sometime this quarter, so stay tuned!

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CES 2015: ZOTAC Announces Updated ZBOX Mini-PC Lineup - CI321, EN860, and 2nd Gen pico

Subject: Systems | January 2, 2015 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox pico, zbox nano, zbox, SFF, mini-pc, EN860, E-Series, CI321, ces 2015, CES


As processors continue to shrink and power consumption dwindles to tablet-like numbers with the newest notebook computers, the mini-PC segment just gets more interesting. While the tiniest of these (ZBOX pico, ECS LIVA) might not be suitable for any heavy desktop use, ZOTAC is trying to cater to all needs with their new lineup for CES this year.


The ZBOX CI321 nano

First up is a new addition to the C-series mini-PC family, the ZBOX CI321 nano. This is powered by a dual-core Intel processor with dual Gigabit LAN, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and supports dual-channel memory. The CI321 nano is passively cooled for completely silent operation.

Next we have the next-generation ZBOX E-series gaming mini-PC:


The ZBOX EN860

The EN860 system adds G-SYNC support, multi display support (via DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI), and support for 4K @ 60 Hz (though at what kind of framerates we will have to wait and see).


A look at the back of the EN860

Finally we have the second edition of the tiny ZBOX pico, a mini-PC that resembles a small external hard drive:


The current-gen ZBOX pico 

The new version of the pico is set to offer both AMD and Intel versions with dual-display support, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0.

No specifics on hardware components for these new ZBOX units just yet, but we'll keep you updated once the show begins and more details emerge.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: ZOTAC

Rumor: 15.4" Broadwell-U Chromebooks Are Coming

Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 29, 2014 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: laptop, google, dell, ChromeOS, Chromebook, chrome, acer

According to DigiTimes via The Tech Report, because of course DigiTimes, we should receive 15.4-inch Chromebooks in the near future. Their sources claim that both Acer and Dell have products planned with that operating system, in that size, and will cost less then $300. The Acer system is expected in March 2015 with Dell scheduled for some time in the first half of 2015.


One part that stands out for me is the maximum price of $300. The claim is that this is a Google mandated ceiling for Chromebooks with up-to Core i3 performance. This is troubling for two reasons. First, depending on the details, it might dance around inside the minefield of price-fixing laws, although I am sure that Google is doing this in a legally. I mean, Apple has been getting away with enforcing maximum retail prices of iPods and iOS devices for around a decade and I believe console manufacturers do about the same.

Second, and more importantly, it limits the ability for manufacturers to be creative and innovative, which is the major advantage of an open ecosystem. Being a web browser-based platform, there is already constraints on what manufacturers can implement. Sure, Google is probably open to communication with their partnered hardware vendors, but it is uncomfortable none-the-less. I could use the Nexus Q as an example of an experiment but unfortunately it was neither a hit nor did it cost over $300. Sure, they could add a more powerful processor to escape that clause but it is still

These Chromebooks are expected to launch in the early half of 2015.

Source: Tech Report

Rumor: AMD Could Power Nintendo's Next Console

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | December 23, 2014 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: x86, Nintendo, arm, amd

The tea leaves that WCCFTech have been reading are quite scattered, but they could be right. The weaker half is pulled from an interview between Shigeru Miyamoto and the Associated Press. At the very end, the creator of many Nintendo franchises states, “While we're busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be.”

Of course they do. That is not confirmation of a new console.


Original Mario Bros. Screenshot Credit: Giant Bomb (Modified)

A bit earlier, he also states, “I think that maybe when we release the next hardware system, you can look forward to seeing Mario take on a new role or in a new game.”

This, on the other hand, sounds a little bit like they are iterating on game design ideas that will shape the next console. From what I understand, this is how Nintendo tends to work – they apparently engineer hardware around concept use cases. It could also be a mistake.

The rumor's stronger half is a statement from Devinder Kumar, the CFO of AMD.

“I will say that one [design win] is x86 and [another] is ARM, and at least one will [be] beyond gaming, right,” said Devinder Kumar, chief financial officer of AMD, at the Raymond James Financial technology conference. “But that is about as much as you going to get out me today. From the standpoint [of being] fair to [customers], it is their product, and they launch it. They are going to announce it and then […] you will find out that it is AMD’s APU that is being used in those products.”

So AMD has secured design wins from two companies, one gaming and the other is something else. Also, one design will be x86 and the other will be ARM-based. This could be an awkward co-incidence but, at the same time, there are not too many gaming companies around.

Also, if it is Nintendo, which architecture would they choose? x86 is the common instruction set amongst the PC and other two consoles, and it is easy to squeeze performance out of. On the other hand, Nintendo has been vocal about Apple and the mobile market, which could have them looking at ARM, especially if the system design is particularly abnormal. Beyond that, AMD could have offered Nintendo an absolute steal of a deal in an effort to get a high-profile customer associated with their ARM initiative.

Or, again, this could all be coincidence.

Source: WCCFTech

The Pico PI320 is here, BayTrail powered cuteness

Subject: Systems | December 15, 2014 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, Pico PI320, Bay Trail

Just look at how tiny this new Zotac ZBox is, it makes the HDMI cable look positively huge and yet can power HDTV and even some light gaming.  The current price point seems to be around $200 with deals occasionally available which certainly undercuts lower priced laptops.  Inside is a quad core BayTrail Atom Z3735F, 2GB DDR3-1333 and a 32GB eMMC card for storage which runs the full verion of Windows 8.  Bjorn3D managed to get this device to play Dirt 2 as well as playing back HDTV from a NAS set up as a Plex server, albeit on a wired connection as the WiFi did not perform very well at all.  There were a few kinks in their testing which you can read about in the full review but overall this new ZBox performed rather well for such a tiny little system.


"Zotac is a company with lots of experience when it comes to small PC’s. We have reviewed some of them before and always come away impressed.The little PC we are testing today, and it really is little, is their smallest yet as it quite literally fits in your pocket. Even though it is small it still comes with WIndows 8 and is by all accounts a proper PC. It might not fit all users but it turns out to be a nifty little PC with several interesting use-cases."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Source: Bjorn3D

Intel shows pictures of new Broadwell NUC

Subject: Systems | December 12, 2014 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, nuc, Broadwell, leak

Intel has leaked, either purposefully or accidentally, the upcoming Broadwell-based NUC device. In a story posted on Computerbase.de, the German website points out that Intel has updated the NUC landing page with images of hardware we haven't seen publicly yet.




This is definitely a new piece of NUC hardware and all indications are that Intel has completed development of a Broadwell-U based SFF platform. No other specifications are listed on the website but you can tell from the images (though small) that we have an M.2 slot available and a yellow USB charging port that are new. The smaller unit on the left also appears to be a bit shorter than the previous NUC designs, though it's hard to tell for sure without direct side-by-side comparisons.


Also interesting is that Intel has a support page already mentioning new NUC kit and board part numbers, though without any additional information.

It has been 14 months since Intel released the Haswell-based NUC unit and my review of the system was incredibly positive with the lone exception of the high price Intel had set. The price of the D54250WYK1 is still hovering over $340 on Amazon.com but I am hopeful that Intel will be able to drop cost even further with this Broadwell iteration.

I'm sure we'll have all the answers we need come CES next month.

ECS Has A New Mini-PC on the Way, the LIVA X

Subject: Systems | December 10, 2014 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: SoC, mini-pc, LIVA, Intel, ECS, Bay Trail

A new, more powerful ECS mini-PC has been reported by The Tech Report, and this latest iteration of the LIVA will be known as the "X".


The LIVA X features a faster 2.25GHz dual-core CPU from its Bay Trail SoC, and maximum configurable memory has been doubled to 4GB. OS support has been revised as well, with Windows 7 supported - but only when using an mSATA SSD. The LIVA X still offers full Windows 8.1 support, along with beta Linux driver support as before.


The LIVA X also offers one more USB 2.0 port than its predecessor, along with the same 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage onboard, Gigabit Ethernet, and included 802.11 wireless N card.

The LIVA proved to be a good value when we reviewed it, though it was underpowered for some desktop tasks. Adding another 2GB of memory as well as a slightly faster CPU will make this new version a very interesting product, depending on price. The new LIVA X hasn't shown up for sale just yet in the usual places, but the product page is up on the ECS site.

Shrinking the silent system

Subject: Systems | December 5, 2014 - 04:57 PM |
Tagged: mini-itx, quiet computing, gaming machine

After finishing up their full sized quiet gaming system Silent PC Review upped the difficulty by shrinking the system down to a Mini-ITX board.  The system recommendations do have one thing in common, the quietly powerful ASUS STRIX GTX 980 but that is about the only similarity.  The i5-4690K is cooled by a Silverstone Argon AR03 and powered by a fanless Seasonic X-520 PSU.  Kingston HyperX Genesis DDR3-1866 has a low profile to keep it out of the way in this small build and the M.2 SSD also takes up very little room.  The motherboard they chose was the ASUS Z97I-PLUS and these components are all housed in the Rosewill Legacy W1-S.  They offer many alternatives for each component, catch them all in the full review.


"A quiet system in a smaller form factor is our followup to the Quiet ATX Gaming Build Guide posted in the last couple of weeks. It is another high performance rig, but still quiet enough to be just about inaudible even atop your desk. Your family will never know that you're gaming on this machine unless your sound effects are on speakers and they can see the action on your monitor."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Oak Ridge National Laboratory Chooses IBM and NVIDIA for Two Supercomputers, Summit and Sierra

Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 27, 2014 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, IBM, power9, Volta

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been interested in a successor for their Titan Supercomputer. Sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the new computer will be based on NVIDIA's Volta (GPU) and IBM's POWER9 (CPU) architectures. Its official name will be “Summit”, and it will have a little sibling, “Sierra”. Sierra, also based on Volta and POWER9, will be installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


Image Credit: NVIDIA

The main feature of these supercomputers is expected to be “NVLink”, which is said to allow unified memory between CPU and GPU. This means that, if you have a workload that alternates rapidly between serial and parallel tasks, that you can save the lag in transferring memory between each switch. One example of this would be a series of for-each loops on a large data set with a bit of logic, checks, and conditional branches between. Memory management is like a lag between each chunk of work, especially across two banks of memory attached by a slow bus.

Summit and Sierra are both built by IBM, while Titan, Oak Ridge's previous supercomputer, was developed by Cray. Not much is known about the specifics of Sierra, but Summit will be about 5x-10x faster (peak computational throughput) than its predecessor at less than a fifth of the nodes. Despite the fewer nodes, it will suck down more total power (~10MW, up from Titan's ~9MW).

These two supercomputers are worth $325 million USD (combined). They are expected to go online in 2017. According to Reuters, an additional $100 million USD will go toward research into "extreme" supercomputing.

Source: Anandtech

Run softly and carry a big GPU

Subject: Systems | November 25, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, STRIX GTX 980, i5-4670K, scythe, Kotetsu, quiet computing, Z97-PRO

Silent PC Review has put together their recommendations on how you can build a powerful computer which runs very quietly.  The recommended component list certainly lives up to a high powered gaming machine, a STRIX GTX 980, a 3.4GHz i5-4670 and 8GB of DDR3-1866 running on the Asus Z97-PRO.  For cooling they chose an air cooler, specifically the Scythe Kotetsu as in their opinion most of the AIO watercoolers have loud fans on their radiators which defeats the purpose of this build.  The enclosure of choice is the sound dampened Fractal Design Define R4 with a be quiet! Straight Power 10 600W as opposed to a passively cooled PSU as the excess heat would mean the rest of the fans would need to spin faster to dissipate it.  Check out the full article for their alternative suggestions as well as the finished results of the builds. 


"The first of our quiet gaming build guides for the season is an ATX tower featuring the highly efficient NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. Join us as we plan, build, and stress test this beast, while trying to keep it quiet enough to satisfy our own high standards. A sneak preview: We managed to keep it under 20 dBA@1m under all test conditions!"

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Zotac ZBOX CI540 Nano; are you a fan of fanless mini PCs?

Subject: Systems | November 13, 2014 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox ci540 nano, fanless, haswell, i5-4210Y

The Zotac ZBOX CI540 Nano is a bit more powerful than your average Bay Trail based mini-PC, it sports a Haswell based dual core i5-4210Y which runs between 1.5-1.9GHz and has Intel's HD4200 onboard.  This won't play AC:Unity but comes close to matching a NUC containing a Core i5-4250U, you give up a bit of horsepower for completely silent operation and for media it sports enough power to watch your favourite videos.  As you look at Silent PC Reviews' article you can see the honeycomb patterned knockouts on the casing to allow heat to dissipate and to let in liquid if you don't put some thought into where you are going to place the ZBOX.  It does have Bluetooth and there is an unofficial optional IR receiver that can be used to make it easy to place this tiny computer in a safe place.


"The Zotac ZBOX CI540 Nano gives up a little CPU/GPU horsepower to deliver a completely fanless, silent and full-featured mini-PC experience."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Update for November: Android 5.0, "Green Box", GRID Gaming Service

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 13, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, grid, geforce grid

Today, NVIDIA has announced the November update for their SHIELD Tablet, which is really about three announcements that are rolled up together.


As expected, the SHIELD Tablet is getting a roll-up to Android 5.0 Lollipop and its new, “Material Design” style guide. NVIDIA's took the opportunity to refresh the SHIELD HUB (my shift key must think that this is an MSI announcement by now...) in the same design specification. While interesting, the two other announcements probably beat it out, especially the GRID streaming service (and how it relates to the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4).


But before we get to GRID, let's talk “The Green Box”. In May, NVIDIA sent us a green crowbar to mark the availability of Half-Life 2 and Portal on the NVIDIA SHIELD. These were full, native ports of the PC title to ARM and Android that is exclusive to the NVIDIA SHIELD. With the November update, Half-Life 2: Episode One has also been ported to the platform. The three games, Portal, Half-Life 2, and Episode One, are also packaged in “The Green Box” bundle, which will be included free-of-charge with the SHIELD Tablet 32GB. Note that, while the games are included with the tablet, they require a controller to play, which is not included.

Now we talk about GRID.


Netflix is a popular service where people can watch a variety of movies from their rolling catalog. It will not replace ownership of certain, intrinsically valuable titles, but there is probably options for anyone who wants to consume some form of entertainment. GRID is a similar service for video games, and it is not the first. We took a look at a preview of OnLive in 2010, connecting to a server about 2400 miles away, which is over twice the maximum intended range, and found the experience somewhat positive for games except Unreal Tournament 3 at that relatively extreme latency. Another company, GaiKai, was purchased by Sony and rebranded as PlayStation Now. It will serve up a selection of games from the PS3 catalog. Again, content on these services can be pulled at any time, but if you are just looking for the entertainment value, something else will probably be there to scratch your itch.


The interesting part that I have been teasing throughout this entire post is the performance of NVIDIA GRID. PlayStation Now is rated at 192 GFLOPs, which is the theoretical GPU compute throughput of the PS3's RSX chip. GRID, on the other hand, is rated for 2448 GFLOPs (~2.5 TFLOPs). This is higher than the PlayStation 4, and almost twice the GPU performance of the Xbox One. On the PC side, it is roughly equivalent to the GeForce GTX 760 Ti.


This compute rating has a hidden story, too. Back in 2011, Epic Games demoed “Samaritan” in Unreal Engine 3. This was the bar that Epic Games set for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to mark a new console generation. When Unreal Engine 4 was unveiled at the end of E3 2012, it was embodied in the Elemental Demo, which also ran at (you guessed it) 2.5 TFLOPs. At the PlayStation 4 (1.9 TFLOPs) announcement, the demo was scaled back with reduced particles and lighting complexity. It was not shown at either Xbox One (1.3 TFLOPs) announcement at all.


What all of that means is simple: NVIDIA GRID is the only fixed hardware platform (that I am aware of) to meet Epic's vision of a next-gen gaming system. I say fixed, of course, because the PC can over-double it per card, with some games scaling to four discrete GPUs. This also says nothing about the CPU performance, system memory, or video memory, but it has the GPU in the right place for a next gen platform.


The NVIDIA GRID preview will launch in November for North America, with East Coast and West Coast servers. It will expand in December for Western Europe, and in “Q2” for Asia Pacific. The service will be free for SHIELD users until June 30th, 2015. The Android 5.0 Update for the SHIELD Tablet will be available on November 18th.

Source: NVIDIA