Time to upgrade your alarm clock?

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: audio, bluetooth, clock

The Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth alarm clock will remind the older readers of the windup alarm clocks of long ago but this one has a few new capabilities.  Apart from the digital display and 5 programmable alarms it is an FM radio with a pair of omnidirectional 4W speakers with a frequency response of 90Hz-20kHz.  That gives it much better sound quality than your average clock radio although the bass is poor, understandable considering the size of the drivers.  In addition to the FM you can input audio via an auxiliary input or pair it with a Bluetooth device so you can also fall asleep listening to the Tick Tock.  It is currently in stock on Amazon for $50 and might make a good gift.  Check the review at Madshrimps if you know someone who needs help with their sleeping patterns.

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"Do not be deceived by the mousy look of the retro Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth retro alarm clock; thanks to the dual drivers, it is able to produce decent quality sound without distortions and at pretty high volumes. The bass is a little on the low side which is perfectly understandable but considering the overall size of the device, we cannot consider this as a negative point."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: MadShrimps

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is eyeing TSMC's Apple

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES

As best we know TSMC is the sole fabricator of Apple's A8 chips on 20nm process, but so far from what DigiTimes has been able to determine that is not the case for the upcoming A9 chips.  TSMC plans to keep pricing the same as they move to 14nm process tech but both Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are in a position where they could decide to drop their pricing in order to win business.  Qualcomm has already placed orders for its 14nm chips with TSMC and Samsung but it is possible that with the experience GLOBALFOUNDRIES has with the 14nm process thanks to business from AMD they may also be able to undercut TSMC's pricing, assuming their yields can stay up.

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"Globalfoundries is striving to be among the major contract chipmakers of Qualcomm and Apple, vying for 14nm chip orders from the two vendors, according to industry sources."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

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".

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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.

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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.

It's the End of the Line for TF2 fans

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: tf2, gaming, Source Filmmaker

If you have 15 minutes to spare then feast your eyeholes on this community made video introducing Team Fortress 2's End of the Line update.  As we have seen from previous contests using Valve's Source Filmmaker these movies are well worth watching, so check it out now or save it for later.  This movie also heralds the release of new hats, taunts and quite possibly a pyrotechnic rubber ducky.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN talked with the video's director, James McVinnie, about the development of this enjoyable little film which you can watch right here.

"I’ve been looking forward to Team Fortress 2’s End of the Line update for over a year, not because I’m in love with novelty virtual clothing but because it’s built around a community-made, fifteen-minute short film. It’s out now, you can watch it below, and if you do care for novelty clothes, a portion of the profits go to the creators who toiled away making the movie."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

The Intel-net of Things

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: Intel, iot, cloudera, wind river

In October we saw the outlines of ARM's mBed OS which will be their Internet of Things offering and today Intel has revealed their own IoT Platform.  The Register had a chance to sit in on the presentation this morning as they described the infrastructure and the partners that are onboard with Intel's solution.  Intel did repeat their belief that their x86 Quark CPUs and other CPUs are every bit as power efficient as ARM while, carefully avoiding stating that they use the same amount of power.  Of far more interest are the security features inherent in Intel's new infrastructure, they will be leveraging both the McAfee technology they now own to embed security features directly into the silicon and the technology that came with their purchase of Wind River to secure the communication channels between the actual devices, aka Edge Devices, and their server infrastructure.  Expect to see more indepth information to be released in the near future but for now you can follow the links in The Register's story to catch up on what has been posted so far.

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"Announced in the past few minutes at a morning presentation in San Francisco, the platform will describe how to hook up gizmos on the edge – the sensors, the wearables, the street lights, the air-con units, and so on – to the backend systems (cough, cough, Cloudera) processing collected information."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Register

Free hat! The Clouds are opening up, time to put on Fedora 21

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, Fedora 21, cloud

Fedora 21 has been released in three different flavours, each intended for a different usage scenario.  The Server version is designed for exactly what it sounds like while the new Cloud version has a modular kernel which is more friendly for being run on remote hardware and is likely to show up in Microsoft Azure's choice of image in their IaaS interface.  The Workstation version is the one that was examined at Linux.com and is likely to be the most common version installed by users.  Fedora has always been a choice for the brave as they tend to be on the cutting edge and while that does mean that they offer features unavailable on other flavours of Linux there can be the occasional bug or other obstacles.  Linux.com found only two so far, Nautilus aka Files stopped working and needed to be either reinstalled or preferably replaced with a better file manager.  The other was an unclear GUI during the updated installation process which is easily avoided once you have seen the screen more than once.  The positives far outnumber the negatives, this looks to be a great improvement on a solid OS and one which should retain its popularity with the software development crowd.  Read the article for the full list of included software and improvements.

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"Fedora is among the most respected Linux-based distributions. Known as a bleeding edge operating system it offers the latest technologies at the earliest stages. It’s also known for working with upstream projects instead of patching things downstream."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

Street Fighter V Revealed: PC-PS4 Cross-Platform Multiplayer

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: street fighter v, street fighter, pc gaming, gaming

Well this is something that people have been demanding for quite some time. Not only will Capcom's Street Fighter V be available on the PC and PS4, but multiplayer can be a mix-and-match between the two platforms. You will not need to coordinate a platform of choice ahead of time. Players on both of these platforms will be able to connect to one another.

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While Capcom has not released any further details, previous Street Fighter releases for the PC have supported local multiplayer when extra controllers are connected. The omission of Xbox One is definitely strange as well, given the exclusive agreement between Microsoft and Capcom for Dead Rising 3. Of course, different game, different contract, but it suggests a larger reason to avoid Xbox One. Two possible, not mutually exclusive reasons are: 1 - Sony paid them and/or 2 - Microsoft was too restrictive about cross platform play. In the past, Microsoft would only allow PC-Xbox cross-platform play if the PC title was branded as Games for Windows Live, which I do not think any game took advantage of (Update: Apparently I was wrong and Shadowrun actually launched cross-platform multiplayer before it was sunset). It also no longer exists.

Street Fighter V will be out... sometime... for PC and PS4.

Source: PC Gamer

Windows 10 Update Installer May Break with Office Installed

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: windows, windows 10, patch, patch tuesday

These are the sorts of things that will happen in prerelease software. Gabriel Aul, leader of the Data and Fundamentals Team at Microsoft and blogger for the Windows Insider Program, announced on Twitter that today's Windows Update for Internet Explorer may not install if Office is also install. The workaround is, if the update fails, to uninstall Office, apply the update, and then reinstall Office. Unfortunately, I am not able to give my personal experience because I use LibreOffice (I did not want to purchase a commercial license of Office).

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I was not expecting to use this fail-bandaid image again, so soon.

If it wasn't an important security update, another option would be to wait for the next build. I know that, when I first installed Windows 10, I had a similar problem with a Defender update that continually failed. The install failure was fixed when I upgraded to Build 9860. The next version of Windows 10 is probably not too far away... … but this is a security update.

Hopefully this is one less thing to break when it hits full release next year.

Origin's Newest "On the House" Promotion Is SimCity 2000

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, on the house, SimCity, simcity 2000

Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, occasionally runs a promotion that is called “On the House”. The best way to think of it is an abrupt, 100%-off sale. If you “purchase” the free game before they put a price tag back on it, then it is yours to keep. Today, the promotion has been applied to SimCity 2000. Log in to the Origin Store and add it to your catalog.

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EA is using money hacks...?

On a related topic, can you believe that SimCity 2000 is just a few months away from its 20th birthday? Some believe that it is the best of the series, although I have never played it. This is one of the many titles that I overlooked, jumping from the original SimCity (Super Nintendo, rented a few times) up to SimCity 3000: Unlimited, which I played until SimCity (2013) launched. Ironically, I received a free copy of SimCity 4 because of the launch issues, so I now have everything from SimCity 2000, onward.

SimCity 2000 is currently free, but will go back up to its regular price at any time.

Source: Origin

AMD Omega is no longer in Alpha

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 9, 2014 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, catalyst, driver, omega

With AMD's new leader and restructuring comes a new type of driver update.  The Omega driver is intended to provide a large number of new features as well as performance updates once a year.  It does not replace the current cycle of Beta and WHQL driver updates and the next driver update will incorporate all of the changes from the Omega driver plus the new bug fixes or updates that the driver was released to address.

Many sites including The Tech Report have had at least a small amount of time to test the new driver and have not seen much in the way of installation issues, or unfortunately performance improvements on systems not using an AMD APU.  As more time for testing elapses and more reviews come out we may see improvements on low end systems but for now the higher end machines show little to no improvement on raw FPS rates.  Keep your eyes peeled for an update once we have had time to test the change on frame pacing results, which are far more important than just increasing your FPS. 

The main reason to be excited about this release, it is the long list of new features, from a DSR-like feature called Virtual Super Resolution which allows you to increase the resolution of your monitor although for now 4K super resolution is limited to the R285 as it is the only AMD Tonga card on the market at the moment.  Along with the release of the Omega driver comes news about Freesync displays, another feature enabled in the new driver and their availability; we have a release date of January or February with a 4K model arriving in March.

Check out the links to The Tech Report and below to read the full list of new features that this driver brings and don't forget to click on Ryan's article as well.

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"AMD has introduced what may be its biggest graphics driver release ever, with more than 20 new features, 400 bug fixes, and some miscellaneous performance improvements."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Seagate is still HAMRing away at improved HDD storage density

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, Seagate, hdd, TDMR

Seagate has been talking about HAMR for many years now but is finally getting close to being able to provide a working product.  Currently they use perpendicular magnetic recording which should reach an areal density of 850/900Gbit/in2 in the coming year with a shingled version hitting 1Tbit/in2.  Shingled platters store data in slightly smaller and overlapping tracks reminiscent of a shingled roof.  In 2016 Seagate predicts the arrival of TDMR which will start at the same density as shingled PMR with an increase to 1.3Tbit/in2 when set up in a shingled format.  2017 is the tentative date for the arrival of the brand new technology and as of now Seagate is predicting an aureal density somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2Tbit/in2.  The performance will never match that of flash based drives but the cost per gigabyte will be far more attractive for those who have more of a need to store large amounts of data than to have high speed access.  Check out more at The Register.

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"We have better visibility into Seagate’s view of the ending of the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) era. The ending is delayed by narrowing the tracks so as to cram more of them on a platter. This is called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) and should arrive in 2016."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

A sighting of the rare joystick, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, Phantom Hawk, input, joystick

The common joystick has fallen out of fashion over the past few years but with the resurgence of space sims some gamers might be out looking to purchase one.  The mainstays are quite expensive but also high quality and perfect for sim games which are very unforgiving to sloppy stick handling.  Speedlink is offering the Phantom Hawk which is available for under $100 and certainly has an interesting look.  The joystick has some weight to it and there are suction cups underneath the body to keep it in place during hectic dogfights and there are enough buttons and both an 8-way hat and 4-way d-pad so you should be able to map most of your needed commands to the joystick.  If you play games which require exacting accuracy then eTeknix found that the dead zone and stiffness interfered with their accuracy but did enjoy playing Microsoft's Flight Sim with it.  Check out the full review to see what you think.

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"It doesn’t take long to realise that if you want to get to grips with a realistic flight stick, you need to spend a fair amount of money. This is why I’ve chosen to put a budget friendly model through its paces, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk. It’s relatively cheap, with prices around £25 from most retailers, so I’m not expecting industry leading performance here. I am however eager to find out just how good it really is, despite its low price tag."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: eTeknix

A little 3D TLC from Samsung, the new 850 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 8, 2014 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, tlc, 256 bit aes, 850 EVO, raid, RAPID, Samsung, sata, ssd

Not only does Samsung's new 850 EVO family introduce us to three dimensional triple level cell NAND, it also incorporates an SLC cache to boost write speeds.  The Tech Report received the 250GB and 1TB models to test, with a spotlight on how they fared against the 840 Pro and 840 Evo.  Their testing shows that the new way of creating NAND has helped mitigate the reduction in speed which accompanied the first generation of TLC drives.  There is no question that the SLC write cache also helps as long as it has space available but this new technology does come with a price, expect $500 for the 1TB and $150 for for the 250GB model.  The 5 year warranty is a nice touch for those who have reliability concerns.

Make sure to ready through Al's review as well, along with single drive benchmarks you can see how these drives perform in RAID.

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"Samsung's long-awaited 850 EVO SSD employs three-dimensional NAND with three bits per cell. It augments that TLC storage with an SLC write cache, and it has a higher endurance rating and longer warranty than most MLC drives. We've taken a closer look to see how it holds up against the competition."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Intel is investing in mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, iot, billions

Intel has pulled out some spare change to upgrade its plant in Chengdu, in what analysts are predicting will be focused on Intel's ultra-mobile chips.  It certainly comes at an interesting time for the market, Google and Microsoft have both had recent unpleasantness with the Chinese government while Qualcomm, a direct mobile market competitor, is about to fork over what could be a record breaking settlement to Chinese anti-trust investigators.  This could make talent from Qualcomm available for Intel to hire as well as giving them even more of a financial advantage.  It marks a change in the recent trend of Intel to invest heavily in their US assets and reinforces their desire to make headway in the current ultramobile market and the burgeoning Internet of Things.  Check out the links at The Register for a bit more background on the state of this market.

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"Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Windows 10 December 2014 Failed Update Workaround

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2014 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, patch, microsoft

A few days ago, I attempted to install my Windows updates, but one failed. After complaining about the update not being accepted, it would ask you to restart your computer, where it would proudly proclaim that you have an update pending... ad infinitum. It apparently did the same for many others, including Paul Thurrott (who voiced his concerns on Twitter).

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Some day (of silence) later, and a workaround has been voiced. As far as I can tell, it was originally discovered by a member of the community, but an Engineering General Manager at Microsoft suggested that Paul Thurrott try it, even though the GM's official workaround was slightly different.

Long story short, here are the steps:

  1. Go to Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Go to View installed updates.
  3. Search for KB3019269 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  4. Search for KB3018943 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  5. Search for KB3016725 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  6. Search for KB3016656 and uninstall it. Restart your computer.
  7. Run Windows Update and install whatever it tells you to.
  8. I needed to do Step 7 twice.
  9. Reboot a second time.

When I did this procedure, Windows Update complained about a failed update. Retrying it, without rebooting, was successful however. If you experienced this problem, be prepared for a potential false error – the fix might have still been successful.

This was actually the second update to fail in the exact same way, the first being a Windows Defender patch from the initial Technical Preview release. That time, the problem went away when Microsoft released a new build and I updated to it. The same probably would be true when Microsoft replaces Build 9879 with whatever they have upcoming, albeit that is at least a month away. As far as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed.

Again, this is pre-release software. I will not knock Microsoft for it, especially since the update procedure is one of the key points of focus for the entire Technical Preview. The occasional failure is to be somewhat expected.

Source: WinSupersite

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.

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"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:

Systems

Another look at the Corsair H75

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 5, 2014 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Hydro H75, AIO, water cooler

[H]ard|OCP are returning to several of the CPU coolers that they have reviewed over the past year to provide a more up to date and accurate comparison of their current performance.  They have deployed a new testbench and so there are a few coolers that were tested on older hardware and so the performance they observed does not refer to current hardware.  In order to give you an informed opinion on the current contenders for your cash they have replicated their Corsair Hydro H75 with comparison charts that show the performance of various coolers all on the same hardware and with current pricing.  If you are already familiar with the H75 then you can jump to the last page for the overall results and price to performance measurements, those who did not read their initial review should take the time to read through the full review.

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"Corsair has been in the liquid CPU cooling game for over 10 years now. As sealed system liquid CPU coolers have become the norm among hardware enthusiasts, the competition has gotten stiff to say the least. Another thing that has changed over the years is that many DIYers are going to smaller cases for their systems."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

If video games are not art, what happens when their engines are used to make movies?

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2014 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: weta, mildly ironic, game engine

When The Inquirer starts talking about using game engines to replace movie post production in the future the first thing that might spring to your mind could be a trilogy of movies already years old.  WETA used Massive to render the huge battle scenes in Lord of the Rings, a rendering engine which has already been used in several games including the recent Total War games.  That example approaches the issue from the opposite direction, instead of an improved CryEngine being used in a movie it is rendering software intended for TV and movies being used in a game.

It highlights the misunderstanding movie executives have about real time rendering.  At heart there is no difference between a scene rendered in a game as opposed to one rendered in a movie, post-production or real time.  Post production would not be necessary or could at least be significantly reduced if you have the hardware to render your CGI in real time.  The software its self is more or less ready but at the moment there is not much money to be made by improving the Unreal Engine to the point where it is photo-realistic since the hardware requirements to run it would be orders of magnitude higher than what is currently available on the retail market. 

This will change and it seems that those with jobs in post production for movies had better start specializing in real effects or think about branching into another field.  It is likely to cause a great hue and cry from the movie industry in the coming years as they attempt to convince the public that video games are not art in the same way as movies are art even though they are made with the exact same tools.  Image the Steam Big Picture mode of the future!

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"Last year, when we reported that LucasFilm, the California production company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, proclaimed that video game engines would be responsible for the decline of the movie post-production process in the next 10 years, our readers scoffed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Another 500TB of Writes and Still Two SSDs Alive

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 4, 2014 - 10:57 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston

Once again, we're talking about The Tech Report and their attempt at working SSDs to death. At the last checkpoint, 1.5 petabytes of total writes, the Samsung 840 Pro and the Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB) became the final two. Which will become the sole survivor? How long will it go before dying? Who knows. We just crossed 2 petabytes and these things simply won't die.

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Image Credit: The Tech Report

So yeah, we have hit 2 petabytes and these drives seem to be chugging along. Neither of the two survivors have even displayed any major drops in read or write performance, at least not permanently. The Samsung 840 Pro has experienced a few, temporary dips in write performance, from around 500MB/s to around 450MB/s, boo hoo, but has recovered each time.

That said, both drives are using their reserve space. The Samsung 840 Pro has used about 60 percent of its reserve in the last 1300 TB of writes, following a fairly linear decline. If it continues, this drive should finally kick the bucket just before 3 petabytes of writes (~2.87PB). The Kingston HyperX, on the other hand, who knows. That SSD seems to have had a rough time over the last 500TB, but that could be just a hiccup. It could also be on its way out, who knows?

Source: Tech Report

Podcast #328 - G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, flickering, ROG Swift, pg278q, in win, d-frame mini, fractal, define r5 silent, nvidia, amd, Intel, asus, gtx 970 DirectCU Mini, msi, 970 Gaming

PC Perspective Podcast #328 - 12/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!