Gigabyte BRIX Gaming UHD Combines 2.6L Chassis with Discrete GPU

Subject: Systems | August 17, 2016 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: UHD, SFF, IDF 2016, idf, gigabyte, gaming, brix

While wandering around the exhibit area at this year’s Intel Developers Forum, I ran into our friends at Gigabyte a brand new BRIX small form factor PC. The BRIX Gaming UHD takes the now-standard NUC/BRIX block shape and literally raises it up, extending the design vertically to allow for higher performance components and the added cooling capability to integrate them.

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The design of the BRIX Gaming UHD combines a brushed aluminum housing with a rubber base and bordering plastic sections to create a particularly stunning design that is both simple and interesting. Up top is a fan that pulls air through the entire chassis, running over the heatsink for the CPU and GPU. This is similar in function to the Mac Pro, though this is a much more compact device with a very different price point and performance target.

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Around the back you’ll find all the connections that the BRIX Gaming UHD supplies: three (!!) mini DisplayPort connections, a full size HDMI output, four USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 connection, two wireless antennae ports, Gigabit Ethernet and audio input and output. That is a HUGE amount of connectivity options and is more than many consumer’s current large-scale desktops.

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The internals of the system are impressive and required some very custom design for cooling and layout.

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The discrete NVIDIA graphics chip (in this case the GTX 950) is on the left chamber while the Core i7-6500HQ Skylake processor is on the left side along with the memory slot and wireless card.

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Gigabyte measures the size of the BRIX Gaming UHD at 2.6 liters. Because of that compact space there is no room for hard drives: you get access to two M.2 2280 slots for storage instead. There are two SO-DIMM slots for DDR4 memory up to 2133 MHz, integrated 802.11ac support and support for quad displays.

Availability and pricing are still up in the air, though early reports are that starting cost will be $1300. Gigabyte updated me and tells me that the BRIX Gaming UHD will be available in October and that an accurage MSRP has not been set. It would not surprise me if this model never actually saw the light of day and instead Gigabyte waited for NVIDIA’s next low powered Pascal based GPU, likely dubbed the GTX 1050. We’ll keep an eye on the BRIX Gaming UHD from Gigabyte to see what else transpires, but it seems the trend of small form factor PCs that sacrifice less in terms of true gaming potential continues.

HP's Latest Omen Desktop Puts a Gaming System in a Cube

Subject: Systems | August 17, 2016 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: PC, Omen 900, Omen, hp, gaming, desktop, cube, computer

HP has introduced a new pre-built gaming desktop, and while the Omen series has existed for a while the new Omen offers a very different chassis design.

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This Omen isn't just cube-like, it's actually a cube (Image credit: HP)

Inside the specifications look like the typical pre-built gaming rig, with processors up to an Intel Core i7 6700K and graphics options including AMD's Radeon RX 480 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. Configurations on HP's online store start at $1799 for a version with a GTX 960, a 1TB spinning hard drive, and a single 8GB DIMM. (Curiously, though reported as the "Omen X", the current listing is for an "Omen 900".)

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A look inside an AMD Crossfire configuration (Image credit: HP via The Verge)

HP is certainly no stranger to unusual chassis designs, as those who remember the Blackbird 002 (which Ryan stood on - and reviewed - here) and subsequent Firebird 803 systems will know. The Verge is reporting that HP will offer the chassis as a standalone product for $599, itself an unusual move for the company.

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(Image credit: HP)

The new Omen desktop goes on sale officially starting tomorrow.

Source: The Verge

GIGABYTE Announces GeForce GTX 10 Series Gaming Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | August 16, 2016 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, nvidia, notebook, laptop, Intel Core i7, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, gigabyte, gaming

GIGABYTE has refreshed their gaming laptop lineup with NVIDIA's GTX 10 series graphics, announcing updated versions of the P55 & P57 Series, and thin-and-light P35 & P37.

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"GIGABYTE offers a variety of options based on preference while providing the latest GeForce® GTX 10 series graphics and the latest 6th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor for the power and performance to meet the growing demands of top tier applications, games, and Virtual Reality. With the superior performance GIAGBYTE also includes industry leading features such as M.2 PCIe SSD, DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 with Type-C connection, and HDMI 2.0."

The notebooks retain 6th-gen Intel (Skylake) Core processors, but now feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1060 GPUs.

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Here's a rundown of the new systems from GIGABYTE, beginning with the Performance Series:

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The GIGABYE P57 Gaming Laptop

"The new 17” P57 is pulling no punches when it comes to performance, including the all-new, ultra-powerful NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 & 1060 Graphics. With a fresh GPU, come fresh ID changes. Along with its subtle style, curved lines and orange accents, comes all-new additional air intake ventilation above the keyboard to improve thermal cooling. The backlit keyboard itself supports Anti-Ghost with 30-Key Rollover. The Full HD 1920x1080 IPS display provides vivid and immersive visuals, while a Swappable Bay is included for user preference of an optical drive, an additional HDD, or weight reduction."

Next we have the thin-and-light ULTRAFORCE Gaming models:

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The ULTRAFORCE P35

"The new 17.3” P37 reiterates what ULTRAFORCE is all about. Despite being a 17” model, the P37 weights under 2.7kg and retains an ultra-thin and light profile being less than 22.5mm thin. Paired with extreme mobility is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. The display comes in both options of 4K UHD 3840x2160 and FHD 1920x1080, achieving high-res gaming thanks to the performance boost with the new graphics.

The P37 includes a hot-swappable bay for an additional HDD, ODD, or to reduce weight for improved mobility, forming a quad-storage system with multiple M.2 PCIe SSDs and HDDs. The Macro Keys on the left, together with the included Macro Hub software, allows up to 25 programmable macros for one-click execution in any games and applications

Powerful yet portable, the thinnest gaming laptop of the series, the 15.6” P35, also has either a UHD 3840x2160 or FHD 1920x1080 display, delivering perfect and vivid colors for an enhanced gameplay experience. Included in the Ultrabook-like chassis is the powerful all-new NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. The P35 also features the iconic hot-swappable bay for flexible storage and the quad-storage system."

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The P37 keyboard features macro keys

We will update with pricing and availability for these new laptops when known.

Source: GIGABYTE

Lenovo Announces the IdeaCentre Y910 AIO Gaming Desktop

Subject: Systems | August 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: PC, nvidia, Lenovo, Intel Core i7, IdeaCentre Y910, GTX 1080, gaming, desktop, all in one, AIO

Lenovo has announced a new all-in-one gaming desktop, and the IdeaCentre Y910 offers up to a 7th-generation 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics behind its 27-inch QHD display.

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But this is no ordinary all-in-one, as Lenovo has designed the Y910 to be "effortlessly upgradeable":

"Designed to game, engineered to evolve, the IdeaCentreTM AIO Y910 is easy to upgrade –
no special tools needed. Simply press the Y button to pop out the back panel, for effortless swapping of your GPU, Memory or Storage."

The specs include a 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, and if that's not a typo we're talking about Intel Kaby Lake here. Specs have been corrected as 6th-gen Intel Core processors up to an i7. Exactly what SKU might be inside the Y910 isn't clear just yet, and we'll update when we know for sure. It would be limited to 65 W based on the specified cooling, and notice that the CPU isn't on the list of user-upgradable parts (though it could still be possible).

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Here's a rundown of specs from Lenovo:

  • Processor: Up to a 6th-generation Intel Core i7 Processor
  • Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8 GB
  • Memory: Up to 32 GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 2 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
  • Display: 27-inch QHD (2560x1440) near-edgeless
  • Audio: Integrated 7.1 Channel Dolby Audio, 5W Harmon Kardon speakers
  • Webcam: 720p, Single Array Microphone
  • Networking: Killer DoubleShot WiFi / LAN
  • Rear Ports:
    • 2x USB 2.0
    • LAN
    • HDMI-in / HDMI-out
  • Side Ports:
    • 3x USB 3.0
    • 6-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MS, MS-Pro) Headphone, Microphone
  • Cooling: 65 W
  • Dimensions (W x L x H): 237.6 x 615.8 x 490.25 mm (9.35 x 24.24 x 19.3 inches)
  • Weight: Starting at 27 lbs (12.24 kg)

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Update: The IdeaCentre Y910 starts at $1,799.99 for a version with the GTX 1070, and will be available in October.

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube: Small Form-Factor Gaming with Desktop Power

Subject: Systems | August 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, nvidia, Lenovo, Killer Networking, Intel, IdeaCentre Y710 Cube, GTX 1080, gaming, gamescom, cube

Lenovo has announced the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube; a small form-factor system designed for gaming regardless of available space, and it can be configured with some very high-end desktop components for serious performance.

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"Ideal for gamers who want to stay competitive no matter where they play, the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube comes with a built-in carry handle for easy transport between gaming stations. Housed sleekly within a new, compact cube form factor, it features NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX graphics and 6th Gen Intel Core processors to handle today’s most resource-intensive releases."

The Y710 Cube offers NVIDIA GeForce graphics up to the GTX 1080, and up to a 6th-generation Core i7 processor. (Though a specific processor number was not mentioned, this is likely the non-K Core i7-6700 CPU given the 65W cooler specified below).

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Lenovo offers a pre-installed XBox One controller receiver with the Y710 Cube to position the small desktop as a console alternative, and the machines are configured with SSD storage and feature Killer Double Shot Pro networking (where the NIC and wireless card are combined for better performance).

Specifications include:

  • Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080; 8 GB
  • Memory: Up to 32 GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 2 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
  • Cooling: 65 W
  • Networking: Killer LAN / WiFi 10/100/1000M
  • Connectivity:
    • Video: 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
    • Rear Ports: 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0
    • Front Ports: 2x USB 3.0
  • Dimensions (L x D x H): 393.3 x 252.3 x 314.5 mm (15.48 x 9.93 x 12.38 inches)
  • Weight: Starting at 16.3 lbs (7.4 kg)
  • Carry Handle: Yes
  • Accessory: Xbox One Wireless Controller/Receiver (optional)

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The IdeaCentre Y710 Cube is part of Lenovo's Gamescom 2016 annoucement, and will be available for purchase starting in October. Pricing starts at $1,299.99 for a version with the GTX 1070.

Source: Lenovo

MSI Updates Gaming Laptops with NVIDIA Pascal Graphics

Subject: Systems, Mobile | August 16, 2016 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, notebook, msi, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, gaming laptop, gaming

MSI has updated their gaming notebook lineup with the new NVIDIA Pascal mobile GPUs, with the GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060 now available across the board. MSI says the new GPUs will provide up to 40% better performance than the company’s previous GT, GS, and GE models.

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“MSI’s GT83/73VR Titan series now showcases an even more commanding design with sports car inspired exhausts and MSI’s Cooler Boost Titan, featuring multiple exhausts and dual whirlwind blade fans to guarantee the best performance even under the most stress.  Available in 3 different sizes and 17 unique configurations, including with SLI graphics, 4K panels and Tobii’s eye-tracking technology, MSI’s GT series is the optimum laptop for serious gamers.”

Positioned at the top of the heap is the mighty Titan series, which naturally offers the highest possible specs for those who can afford the price tag.

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Notice anything about the top-end GT83 model in the chart above? The GT83VR Titan SLI indeed contains not one, but two NVIDIA GTX 1080 graphics chips, making this $5099 gaming machine a monster of a system - though its 1080p screen real estate means a connected VR headset will be more likely to use all of that available GPU power.

Moving down to the GT72/GT62 series, we see a move to the GTX 1070 GPU accross the board:

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Next up is the GS73, which offers (in addition to Pascal graphics) MSI's "Cooler Boost Trinity", which is the company's advanced cooling system for thin notebook designs.

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“MSI’s redesigned GS73/63 VR Stealth Pro series now comes with MSI’s Cooler Boost Trinity, a temperature control system featuring three ultra-thin whirlwind blade fans, and a 5-pipe thermal design optimized for ultra-slim gaming notebooks.  Available in 17-inch, 15-inch, and 14-inch options, MSI’s GS series gives power mobile gaming a new meaning with the performance of larger systems while measuring less than 1-inch thick.”

The more modest GTX 1060 powers the <1 inch thick notebooks in the series, and both the GS73 and GS63 VR Stealth Pro are equipped with 4K resolution IPS screens (with the GS43VR Phantom Pro at 1080p).

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Next we have the VR Apache series, with another approach to cooling called "Cooler Boost 4":

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“MSI’s GE72/62 VR Apache series now features MSI’s Cooler Boost 4 technology, an enhanced cooling system with multiple exhausts to keep temperatures low even during the most headed battles.  Starting at $1,649, the VR-ready GE series comes in two different sizes and is the ideal unit for gaming enthusiast looking for a powerful and reliable unit.”

These lower-cost gaming machines are still equipped with Intel Core i7 processors, and offer GTX 1060 graphics for both models.

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As a very interesting addition to the news of these new laptops, MSI has also announced that select machines equipped with NVIDIA GTX 10 Series graphics will feature 120Hz IPS panels with a 5ms response time.

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We should have more imformation on availability soon.

Source: MSI

Time for fresh system recommendations?

Subject: Systems | August 15, 2016 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: system guide

The Tech Report have released their recommended system components for this summer, which you can check out right here.  They have maintained their previous format, offering a choice of several components at the Budget, Sweet Spot and High End levels, wrapping up with example builds.  They recommend holding off on building a budget machine for the nonce, at the time of publishing they recommended the RX 480 4GB but we have now seen the release of cards more suitable for this level of build.  The Sweet Spot is VR Ready and the High End machine remains Broadwell-E, much as with our own Hardware Leaderboard they cannot recommend moving from the reigning champ.

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"In this edition of The Tech Report System Guide, we account for the choices that AMD's Radeon RX 480 and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 afford builders in the under-$300 graphics card market."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Rumor: Nintendo NX Uses NVIDIA Tegra... Something

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | July 27, 2016 - 07:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Nintendo, nintendo nx, tegra, Tegra X1, tegra x2, pascal, maxwell

Okay so there's a few rumors going around, mostly from Eurogamer / DigitalFoundry, that claim the Nintendo NX is going to be powered by an NVIDIA Tegra system on a chip (SoC). DigitalFoundry, specifically, cites multiple sources who claim that their Nintendo NX development kits integrate the Tegra X1 design, as seen in the Google Pixel C. That said, the Nintendo NX release date, March 2017, does provide enough time for them to switch to NVIDIA's upcoming Pascal Tegra design, rumored to be called the Tegra X2, which uses NVIDIA's custom-designed Denver CPU cores.

Preamble aside, here's what I think about the whole situation.

First, the Tegra X1 would be quite a small jump in performance over the WiiU. The WiiU's GPU, “Latte”, has 320 shaders clocked at 550 MHz, and it was based on AMD's TeraScale 1 architecture. Because these stream processors have single-cycle multiply-add for floating point values, you can get its FLOP rating by multiplying 320 shaders, 550,000,000 cycles per second, and 2 operations per clock (one multiply and one add). This yields 352 GFLOPs. The Tegra X1 is rated at 512 GFLOPs, which is just 45% more than the previous generation.

This is a very tiny jump, unless they indeed use Pascal-based graphics. If this is the case, you will likely see a launch selection of games ported from WiiU and a few games that use whatever new feature Nintendo has. One rumor is that the console will be kind-of like the WiiU controller, with detachable controllers. If this is true, it's a bit unclear how this will affect games in a revolutionary way, but we might be missing a key bit of info that ties it all together.

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As for the choice of ARM over x86... well. First, this obviously allows Nintendo to choose from a wider selection of manufacturers than AMD, Intel, and VIA, and certainly more than IBM with their previous, Power-based chips. That said, it also jives with Nintendo's interest in the mobile market. They joined The Khronos Group and I'm pretty sure they've said they are interested in Vulkan, which is becoming the high-end graphics API for Android, supported by Google and others. That said, I'm not sure how many engineers exist that specialize in ARM optimization, as most mobile platforms try to abstract this as much as possible, but this could be Nintendo's attempt to settle on a standardized instruction set, and they opted for mobile over PC (versus Sony and especially Microsoft, who want consoles to follow high-end gaming on the desktop).

Why? Well that would just be speculating on speculation about speculation. I'll stop here.

Prefer your GTX 1060 to arrive packaged in a full system? Overclockers UK can do that with the Titan Neutron

Subject: Systems | July 19, 2016 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: gtx 1060, gainward, GTX 1060 Dual, micro ATX, Overclockers UK, Titan Neutron

Gainward chose a confusing name for their new card, the GTX 1060 Dual, which seems to refer to either the two fans or the two slots it occupies; it is not a secret SLI version.  The Micro ATX system is built in a Raijintek Styx Classic case with a Core i5-6400, 8GB DDR-4 2400MHz and strangely a hybrid 1TB Seagate 7200rpm drive with and 8GB MLC cache.  On the other hand the packaging material includes some Haribo candies.  Kitguru tested it out for performance as well as sound, being a Micro ATX system after all and found that for the price of £900 it was not a bad deal at all.  Check out the  Overclockers UK Titan Neutron if you are on that side of the pond, or keep the specs in mind if you are shopping around over here in North America.

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"The exponential evolution of gaming graphics shows no signs of abating. We have already seen a plethora of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 cards (most recently from MSI), our first taste of the more modestly specified GTX 1060 comes installed in a complete system from Overclockers UK, the Titan Neutron Micro-ATX Gaming PC."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: Kitguru

Now that's a NUC of a different colour, the NUC6i5SYK

Subject: Systems | June 13, 2016 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: nuc, Intel, NUC6i5SYK, Skylake

The new NUC6i5SYK may look like the previous generations but the innards represent a huge step forward.  At the base is a Skylake Core i5-6260U which brings with it support for DDR4 and more importantly NVMe SSDs. Connectivity includes Ethernet, 802.11AC Dual Band WiFi, miniDP 1.2 and proper HDMI CEC 1.4b output.  The barebones kit will run $380USD, not bad for this type of design.  Missing Remote put the new NUC through its paces; check out the results here.

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"Updated with an Intel Core i5-6260U with Intel Iris Graphics 540, support for NVMe SSD, and DDR4, the system has the opportunity to fix the shortcomings in the previous generation (cough, CSH). The sleek looks and features will not be as much of a bargain as the plug-in-and-go Intel Pentium based NUC5PGYH. Intel is asking $380/£335 for the barebones kit, but with quite a bit more performance, better networking, and features on tap, it could well be worth the extra dosh."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Computex 2016: Wooting One Analog Keyboard

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | June 4, 2016 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: gaming keyboard

Wooting, a start-up that is currently running an already-funded Kickstarter, is looking to produce a keyboard with analog inputs. This is not exactly an entirely-new concept. Ben Heck created one back in 2012 by modifying the WASD cluster to include Hall Effect sensors, which were attached to the guts of an Xbox 360 controller to signal thumbstick offsets. The further you press the key, the more intense of an input would be sent to the PC.

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The Wooting One, which, again, is a Kickstarter campaign, does it a bit more... professionally. The keyboard uses the “Flaretech” switch, which I've never heard of before now, from Taiwanese manufacturer Adomax. Unlike Ben Heck's Hall Effect sensors, this one measures offset with light sensing. This raises a petty, pedantic argument about whether it's technically a mechanical keyboard, since the activation isn't performed by a direct, mechanical process, but users typically equate “mechanical keyboard” with its quality and feel, which could be achieved with non-mechanical processes. Semantics aside, the light-sensing mechanism allows precise measurement of how far down the key is. From there, it's just a matter of mapping that distance to an input.

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This is where the Wooting One looks quite interesting. The firmware and driver will communicate under XInput and apparently other Gamepad APIs, functioning under most games that allow simultaneous gamepad + keyboard input for a single player. They are also expecting to create an open-source system, with an API, that allows games to access the analog input of apparently all keys on the board. This is interesting, because XInput has fairly restrictive limitations of about six axises of analog input (although the two axises corresponding to the triggers are lower precision and, with the Xbox One controller, joined into a single axis). A new API can circumvent all of this for gaming going forward, and it will be required for analog keyboards to get off the ground. It's not a difficult task itself, as there is quite a bit of bandwidth in external IO connections these days, but getting and entire industry's worth of vendors to agree could be a task (unless you're, like, Microsoft). Hopefully it's open, with a permissive license, and a few, big-name engine vendors add support to push it forward.

And, let's be honest -- XInput is limiting. A new API could be good for obscure gamepads, too.

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Outside of analog gaming, they are also milking this “know how far down the key is” feature as much as they can. For instance, they are also allowing users to choose the activation distance in digital mode. Users can set their balance between rejecting partial presses and speed of input based on their ability to touch type.

It's a European Kickstarter, and the lowest backer tier that includes the keyboard ships in November and is worth 100 Euro, ~$115 USD. which apparently includes tax and shipping for North America and Europe. That doesn't correlate to a retail price, if the product even gets off the ground, but it's a data point however reliable. Tax-in and free shipping sounds a bit... sketchy for a crowdfunding campaign... but that could just be a sign that they're more affiliated with an existing company (and its supply chain) than they're letting on, rather than business naivety.

MSI AEGIS, the World's Fiercest Mobile Gaming Barebone PC Series

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2016 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: msi, gaming desktop, computex 2016, aegis x, aegis

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MSI has released more information about their new non-backpack model systems, the Aegis Gaming Desktops.  There will be two models, the basic with a B150 motherboard, a Silent Storm 2 air cooling system and support for Intel CPUs of up to 65W TDP.  The Aegis X will sport a Z170 motherboard and Silent Storm 2 Pro watercooling, with support for up to 95W TDP processors such as the 6700K. 

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Both support M.2 SSDs along with 2.5/3.5" drives and sport a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, although only the Aegis X has the second generation port. The two systems support both wired, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the base model uses Intel and Realtek while the X uses a Killer product for both wired and wireless.  With base prices of $400 and $500 respectively you get a decent deal for a motherboard, a 600W 80 PLUS Gold PSU and a decent looking case with some impressive features.

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The Aegis X also comes with one touch overclocking, aka the Dragon OC button which boost speeds by 15%.  MSI's Mystic Light LED system is on both systems, the second most popular thing at this year's Computex is the ability to offer 16 million different colours with different modes and patterns. 

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The Aegis X features the most popular feature at the conference, it is VR Ready.  In this particular case, since both are bare bones products is that there is a front mounted HDMI and USB 3.1 support.  This feature is handy for those of us with head mounted displays but it is quickly approaching the point where toasters and Josh's favourite wand will be advertised as VR Ready.

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Click to read through the original PR.

Source: MSI

GIGABYTE Showcases New Motherboards and BRIX at Computex 2016

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | June 1, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: Z170, X99, Ultra Gaming, Intel H170, gigabyte, designare, brix

Gigabyte is showing off new X99, B150 and Z170 motherboards, the Ultra Gaming series and the Designare series which they describe as being optimized for content creators, designers, and artists.  The Ultra Gaming series will add Ambient Surround LEDs, found on the motherboard and Pinstripe Headers so that you can have a lightshow while you game. 

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Also new is Hybrid Fan Control which will allows the motherboard headers to support Voltage Calibration and Pulse Width Modulation fans and pumps.  M.2 and U.2 support is of course also added to the new boards.  The new boards include the GA-X99-Ultra Gaming, GA-X99-Phoenix SLI, GA-Z170X-Ultra Gaming, GA-Z170-UD3 Ultra and GA-B150-Gaming TH.

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The Designare series is a bit different, with a focus on storage speed.  USB 3.1 ports offer quick transfer speeds for your external storage and support for three NVMe drives in RAID-0 ensure that the speed of your internal storage does not slow your creative flow down.  This series features the GA-X99-Designare EX, GA-Z170X-Designare and GA-H170-Designare.

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They also offered a teaser as to their new BRIX lineup.  The BRIX Gaming UHD will be tiny, less than 2.6L and less than 2kg but will support Core i5 and i7 processors.  As we well there will be a new GIGABYTE PC which will be slightly larger at about 10L and will support full sized graphics cards.

Click for the full press release.

Source: Gigabyte

ECS launches brand new LEET GAMING motherboard & LIVA mini PC

Subject: Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: ECS, leet gaming, liva pro, Z170-LIGHTSABER, computex 2016

It must have been quite a fight for ECS to be able to call their new motherboard the Z170-LIGHTSABER but that is exactly what they have done.  The motherboard features the usual lineup of Z170 features, three 16x PCIe 3.0 slots with an additional 1x, 7.1 sound from an onboard ALC1150 codec and an OPAMP, a pair of USB 3.1 ports along with over a dozen legacy USB ports and support for an M.2 drive.  In addtion higher end Nichicon caps were used, there is an E2400 Killer NIC onboard and seven colour LEDs to make it shine.  They also discuss a brand new USB power supply for use with devices that draw a lot of power, it will be interesting to see if this has the impact on VR devices they imply.

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They have also announced the new LIVA Pro based on the new SFX motherboard standard.  The brochure has a good example of what this new form factor is and how it compares to others.

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The LIVA Pro will support any 6th generation Skylake Intel processor with a TDP of 65W or less and a pair DDR4 SO-DIMMs of up to 32GB.  Internal storage is handled by an M.2 drive and the 1.3L case has an external 2.5" drive dock built into it for additional storage.  For external interfaces you have a USB 3.0 Type C port, three USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0, HDMI and DisplayPort.  There is a second M.2 port which is populated by a WiFi/Bluetooth combo card.

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Click on through to read the PR.

Source: ECS

ASUS Avalon concept PC merges desktops and DIY with cable-free mindset

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 08:04 AM |
Tagged: crazy people, concept, computex 2016, computex, avalon, asus

If you expected Computex to be bland and stale this year, ASUS has something that is going to change your mind. During the company's Republic of Gamers press conference, it revealed a concept PC design it has been working on dubbed Avalon. The goal of this project was to improve on the fundamental design of the PC; something that hasn't changed for decades. ASUS wanted to show that you could build a platform that would allow DIY machines to be "more modular, easier to build, and more tightly integrated."

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The result is a proof of concept design that looks more like a high end turntable than a PC. In reality, you are looking at a machine that has been totally redesigned, from the power supply to motherboard and case integration to cooling considerations and more. ASUS has posted a great story that goes into a lot of detail on Avalon, and it's clear this is a project the team has been working on for some time.

The brainchild of Jonathan Chu, the Avalon concept takes a notebook-like approach to desktop design. The motherboard is designed in conjunction with the chassis to enable more seamless cooperation between the two.

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The first example of changes to Avalon is something as simple as the front panel connectors on a case. Connecting them to your motherboard is the same today, basically, as it has ever been. But if you are the manufacturer or designer of both the chassis and the motherboard itself, it is trivial to have the buttons, lights and even additional capabilities built into a specific location on the PCB that matches with access points on the case. 

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Re-thinking the rear IO panel was another target: making it modular and connected to the system via PCI Express means you can swap connectivity options based on the user's needs. Multiple Gigabit NICs a requirement? Done. Maximum USB capability? Sure. Even better, by making the back panel IO a connected device, it can host storage and sound controllers on its own, allowing for improved audio solutions and flexible data configurations. 

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ASUS even worked in a prototype power supply that is based on the SFX form factor but that uses a server-style edge connector, removing wires from the equation. It then becomes the motherboard's responsibility to distribute power through the other components; which again is easy to work through if you are designing these things in tandem. Installing or swapping a power supply becomes as simple as pulling out a drive tray.

This is all made possible by an internal structure that looks like this:

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Rethinking how a motherboard is built, how it connects to the outside world and to other components, means that ASUS was able to adjust and change just about everything. The only area that remains the same is for the discrete graphics card. These tend to draw too much power to use any kind of edge connector (though the ASUS story linked above says they are working on a solution) and thus you see short run cables from a break out on the motherboard to the standard ROG graphics card.

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The ASUS EdgeUp story has some more images and details and I would encourage you to check it out if you find this topic compelling; I know I do. There are no prices, no release dates, no plans for sampling yet. ASUS has built a prototype that is "right on the edge of what’s possible" and they are looking for feedback from the community to see what direction they should go next.

Will the DIY PC in 2020 be a completely different thing than we build today? It seems ASUS is asking the same question.

Source: ASUS EdgeUp

MSI at Computex, a peek before the show

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2016 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex 2016, GS63 Stealth Pro

MSI offered a sneak peek at the lineup you can expect to see them showcase at Computex and the list is quite long, with some interesting new additions.

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For laptops you can expect to see the new GS63 Stealth Pro, with a Core i7 6700HQ and GTX970M inside.  The cooling system is also new, a five heatpipe system called the Cooler Boost Trinity with Whirlwind Blades pushing hot air out the exhaust ports.  We should hear more about what this system actually is during the show.

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The GT83 and GT73 Titan SLI laptops are built with VR in mind, as well as supporting output to multiple monitors and 4K resolutions; though perhaps not both at once.  The GT83 contains desktop class GTX 980s while the GT73 uses the mobile versions, the GTX 980M or a single desktop GTX 980 if you prefer.

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The GS73 focuses on a slimmed down design while still incorporating a GTX970M and the aforementioned Cooler Boost Trinity system.  It will also sport a SteelSeries gaming keyboard, an ESS SABRE HiFi headset AMP and Nahimic 2.0 sound system.

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Something far more unique is the 'Backpack PC', allowing you to strap a Core i7 and GTX 980 to your back so that you are not tied to a desk when using VR.  With that amount of power you will still need mains power as the weight of the battery required to power that system for more than a few minutes would be prohibitive.  On the other hand the cables from your VR headset and controllers would be connected to the backpack which would theoretically direct the cables out of your way.

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The Aegis Gaming Desktop is a far more familiar desktop machine, though it too offers a nod towards VR usage by locating an HDMI connection at the front of the 19.6L case.  It will also have a Dragon Button, reminiscent of the old Turbo button from the original 8086 processor, which will boost your 'speed and performance' by 15%.  Likely this is an overclocking preset which one assumes can be enabled on the fly.

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The Vortex G65 SLI desktop is a little less plain, a round case which is a mere 6.5L in volume but still contains two GTX 980s and an i7-6700K, with their proprietary Silent Storm Cooling system.  MSI continues the pattern of building systems around VR compatibility with the Vortex.

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Continuing on to their Cubi 2 Plus, a SFF system powered by a Skylake-S class processor a wee 5x5" mini-STX motherboard.  The CPU is not BGA and so can be upgraded and there is enough space in the system for a 2.5" SSD upgrade, albeit just barely.

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On to their motherboards, first up is the X99A GAMING PRO CARBON which offers a few new features to tempt users to upgrade.  Not only does it have USB Type-C connectors but they are described as being located at the front, presumably on a header. It also sports Audio Boost 3, Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s, SEx ports and Dynamic Mystic Light, an LED systems with software that supports more than 16.8 million colors.

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For those more concerned with overclocking than having an impressive light show, the X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM features Military Class 5 components and a specially designed thermal system to ensure a solid overclock.  It also has support for U.2 32Gb/s drives.

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The last of the trio of motherboards will be the Z170A MPOWER GAMING TITANIUM, similar to the X99A model apart from the socket. You will get all the features of the TITANIUM series for your LGA1151 processors.

Expect to see much more information about these products and others once Computex gets underway.

Source: MSI

Quiet PC Launches Stylish Fanless Intel NUC-Based PC

Subject: Systems | May 25, 2016 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: UK, SFF, quiet pc, nuc, iris, Intel Skylake, hd graphics

Quiet PC (a UK-based retailer for PCs and components) recently launched a small form factor fanless PC based on Intel’s Skylake NUC platform. The new PC is aptly named the Ultra NUC Pro 6 and combines an Intel Skylake-based Core i5 processor with a fanless chassis from Aleutia (the R50) that results in a quiet and stylish PC.

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The understated case is built from a single block of aluminum using a CNC machine and 5-axis drill. It is primarily black although the center of the case reveals bare copper plates (that direct contact the CPU) used help facilitate cooling the 15W TDP Core i5-6260U CPU. The front panel hosts two USB 3.0 ports, an analog audio port, and IR receiver while the rear I/O includes two more USB 3.0 ports, one Wi-Fi antenna connector, Kensington lock, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), AC power, and mini DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4b video outputs.

Internally, you are able to configure this particular fanless NUC with either a Core i3 clocked at 2.3 GHz or a Core i5 clocked at 1.8 GHz base and up to 2.9 GHz Turbo Boost. Both 14nm chips have a 15W TDP and are dual cores with HyperThreading (2 core / 4 thread), but they differ in the GPU portion. The Core i3 hosts Intel HD Graphics 520 while the Core i5 has Intel’s Iris Graphics 540. Beyond the processor, users can configure the PC with up to 32GB of dual channel DDR4, a single M.2 form factor SSD (up to a 512GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD), and a pre-installed Wi-Fi module (Intel Wireless-AC 8260).

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This new NUC measures 160 x 37 x 110mm and comes with a 2 year warranty. Quiet PC currently offers the base model at £575.83 (~$841.33) sans OS. The model with Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and Windows 10 Pro is £776.76 which translates to about $1135.23.

That is the major drawback of this nearly half liter PC: the price. Despite it’s neat industrial design, this PC is essentially priced out of the home market perhaps save for certain fanless enthusiasts like our friends at FanlessTech (hehe). Industrial customers that need a decently powerful PC without moving parts and an internal case that can gather dust, metals, wood, and whatever other factory and workshop conditions it might be subjected to would be interested in this however. Quiet PC further indicates that this fanless PC is aimed at marine and healthcare customers. Aleutia claims that at ambient temperatures of 21°C (69.8°F) the PC maxed out at 51°C (123.8°F) under 100% CPU load and the PC can be used in environments with ambient temperatures up to 50°C (122°F).

Do you think our friends on the other side of the pond have a nice quiet PC option or is the price of silence too much?

Also watch: Intel NUC5i5RYK SFF System Review - Broadwell NUC

Source: Quiet PC

April showers bring May flowers; cash spent means new growth in your PC

Subject: Systems | May 2, 2016 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: build guide

Though this post did not quite make it in time for the title, the components are not going to be any different in The Tech Reports April System's Guide.  Similar to our own HWLB, The Tech Report breaks out their recommendations into several price points to accommodate those who are on a budget as well as those for whom the sky is not the limit.  In most cases there are two recommendations for each level of spending, GPUs are certainly an exception as the market is incredibly crowded at the moment and discounts often impact a buyers final decision.  Pop on over to take a look at the components they chose for those of you doing some spring cleaning inside your PCs.

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"In this edition of The Tech Report's System Guide, we examine the CPUs, graphics cards, memory, cases, power supplies, and other parts that system builders will need to power Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive VR headsets."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Nintendo Announces NX Launch Window

Subject: Systems | April 27, 2016 - 03:51 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, amd

Not a whole lot to go off for this announcement. I mean, hints have been dropped, partners have made announcements, and leaks have surfaced for over a year at this point. The only thing that today brings is a release window: March 2017. The final name, exact specifications, and even whatever the thing is that makes this console different, are all currently unknown. Given that E3 2016 will be the last E3 before release, though, I expect that we will find out all about it in June.

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Speaking of announcement dates, though, today is an odd one. Midnight (PST) on a seemingly random Wednesday in April doesn't hold any significance to me. Sure, it aligns with their earnings report for investors. Maybe a release date would help raise their stock price (or buffer its potential fall) but it doesn't mean a whole lot for its fans. Does that matter, though? Maybe not.

While this site is PC-oriented, we do touch on console coverage. When the WiiU launched, Ryan disassembled the console over the course of a five-hour livestream, which was archived YouTube. (He dismantled the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well.) We are also interested in how AMD benefits from this whole arrangement. That company is one of the few sources for x86 processors, which gaming consoles have been flocking to, as well as high-end graphics. Combine the two, and you can get a relatively cheap system that is quite competent (for not having a discrete, add-in graphics card) at gaming workloads. According to AMD's previous earnings call, they secured multiple design wins, but we'll need to wait and see whether this is one, and whether it includes the CPU this time. As an aside, Nintendo also recently joined the Khronos Group, so that could eventually be interesting for our readers, too... or not.

The FiercePC Imperial Stormer; shoots close to the mark but misses

Subject: Systems | April 18, 2016 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: watercooling, FiercePC, Core i7 6700K, GTX 970, carbide 400c

The components chosen for this prebuilt system are an odd mix, the 6700K is paired with a  GTX 970, though the rest of the components make sense, with 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD and a 2TB HDD.  These are all installed in a Corsair 400C and the CPU is cooled with an Alphacool NexXos XP3 Light water block, NexXos ST3 radiator; it is the only component which is watercooled.  Kitguru found the enclosure to be impressively quiet and the performance matched their expectations but they also felt that both the GPU and SSD should have been upgraded.

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"The FiercePC Imperial Stormer is a gaming PC that squeezes a custom-built water-cooling loop and some very nifty lighting effects into a rather svelte Corsair Chassis. This enables a mighty 4.7GHz overclock for the Intel Core i7-6700K, which coupled with a GeForce GTX 970 – delivers some very good performance results."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: KitGuru