Windows 10 Build 10041 Released to Insiders

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2015 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, build 10041

It has been a long time coming, but the new preview build of Windows 10 has been released. 10041 can be installed for users on the “Fast” ring, leaving users who opt into “Slow” to be on 9926 for a bit longer. You know, the wise enthusiast learns from their mistakes, but the smart enthusiast learns from the mistakes of others. At any rate, pun intended, a few things have changed in this build, but I expect that most of it is under the hood.

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On the user-facing side though, the Start menu has been modified to include transparency and Virtual Desktops can now support dragging windows between instances (or onto the + to create a new Virtual Desktop with that window in it). Each update, I have attempted to use Virtual Desktops but I have never stuck with it. Rather than being organized, it felt separated, which gave the impression that I was wasting more time context-switching than if I just sifted through cluttered windows. As always, I will give it another chance with 10041. Perhaps I am just using it wrong. We'll see.

There are some known bugs in this version, like always, so read up on it before making the update if your machine is important. I mean, even 9926 has some noticeable problems that are getting annoying, so you might even be net-positive, but look before you leap. That is, unless you are on an unimportant device or are amused by bugs and you want the newest nowest yesterday.

Speaking of which, as previously discussed, Microsoft intends to speed up the rate of “Fast” builds. Their users seem to want less-stable and more cutting edge builds, so they are hoping to have one or two builds per month.

Also, don't let my posts discourage anyone from trying Windows 10. Just because I need to report on all the issues that I experience (even some that ended up being coincidentally exploded hardware, whoops...) doesn't mean that I am casting shame on it. Ultimately, whatever you install Windows on is a device. If that device performs a critical function in your life, then you need to be aware of the issues that I know about. If not, then enjoy the pre-release experience.

I will probably be installing 10041 soon, especially if it brings new Intel and NVIDIA GPU drivers.

Update (March 19th @ 4PM EDT): I installed 10041 last night, and was greeted with two new graphics drivers: one for Intel and another for NVIDIA. Still to early to tell whether it fixed issues or made things worse, but nothing bad happened yet. I am hearing that some people are having difficulty installing audio drivers, though. Allyn linked me to a problem with Xonar cards, and people in the comments of this article mention "audio drivers" in general. About that, all I can say is that my Blue Yeti works fine, as both a mic and sound card.

Source: Microsoft

Legacy of the Void closed beta kicks off at the end of the month

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2015 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: gaming, blizzard, Starcraft II

Get your twitch reflexes back to their peak over the next few weeks as the multiplayer beta for the third instalment of StarCraft 2 kicks off on the 31st.  On that date you will find out if you are invited to participate in the test and get to see the new units as well as the tweaks that have been applied to existing units.  The main page suggests that this episode will focus more on online multiplayer harassment tactics than all out assaults and so units have been altered to reflect that focus.  Blizzard also suggests this beta will go for longer than previous ones have so it will still be a while before we see the next chapter in the single player story.  You can catch the preview movie at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

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"Good news if you’ve been waiting to see how Big Stubbly Man and Chitin Stilettos Woman managed to defeat timeless evil once and for all until the next sequel: the third and final chunk of StarCraft II is very much on its way. In fact, beta invites for the Protoss-focused Legacy of the Void are due to go out before the end of the month. “Much has changed” since the last time Blizzard let us have a peek at their void."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Get your pirated Windows a letter of marque

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2015 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: WinHEC, windows, microsoft

If you know a friend that has a friend that might have picked up a copy of Windows from a site of ill repute they still have a chance to redeem their soul.  At WinHEC today Microsoft announced that any eligible version of Windows running on hardware compatible with Windows 10 can also upgrade to a new and fully licensed version of Windows 10 when it is released.  This is an interesting move by Microsoft but there is sense behind the move as it will increase their customer base for purchasing apps from the Microsoft Store and any licensing which may come into effect after the free year they offer.  It also gives them more accurate data on the number of users of Windows and possibly other metadata as well.

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"Microsoft will make Windows 10 available as a free upgrade even to pirated copies of other Windows operating systems in China. Terry Myerson of Microsoft's operating systems unit made the announcement at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China, and then told Reuters, "We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.""

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

d'IE!

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2015 - 07:43 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, IE, project spartan

First of all, this is possibly the shortest title we have ever made at PC Perspective. I guess I win something? Either way, WinBeta claims that Microsoft has finally said, on the record, that the Internet Explorer branding will not be applied to Project Spartan. The quote is from Chris Capossela, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft.

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And Web Developers say...?

We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10," said Capossela. "We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.

This quote still seems a little vague for me. While it clearly separates “the new brand” from “Internet Explorer”, it does not definitively say that Project Spartan will not be derived from it (pardon the double-negative). Of course, I think it is safe to say that it will be a wholly new brand, but I don't think this quote changes anything.

By the way, may I recommend “PhoIEnix”? I'm pretty sure no-one tried that name for a web browser before being immediately disputed by Phoenix Technologies. Wow, that's oddly specific to not be a reference to anything, at all, ever...

Source: WinBeta

NVIDIA Announces DIGITS DevBox - 28 TFLOPS, 1300 Watts, $15k

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | March 17, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, DIGITS

At GTC, NVIDIA announced a new device called the DIGITS DevBox:

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The DIGITS DevBox is a device that data scientists can purchase and install locally. Plugged into a single electrical outlet, this modified Corsair Air 540 case equipped with quad TITAN X (reviewed here) GPUs can crank out 28 TeraFLOPS of compute power. The installed CPU is a Haswell-E 5930K, and the system is rated to draw 1300W of power. NVIDIA is building these in-house as the expected volume is low, with these units likely going to universities and small compute research firms.

Why would you want such compute power?

GTC-29.jpg

DIGITS is a software package available from NVIDIA. Its purpose is to act as a tool for data scientists to manipulate deep learning environments (neural networks). This package, running on a DIGITS DevBox, will give much more compute power capability to scientists who need it for their work. Getting this tech in the hands of more scientists will accelerate this technology and lead to what NVIDIA hopes will be a ‘Big Bang’ in this emerging GPU-compute-heavy field.

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More from GTC is coming soon, as well as an exclusive PC Perspective Live Stream set to start in just a few minutes! Did I mention we will be giving away a Titan X???

**Update**

Ryan interviewed the lead developer of DIGITS in the video below. This offers a great explanation (and example) of what this deep learning stuff is all about:

Ivy Bridge-E versus Haswell-E and the gang

Subject: Processors | March 17, 2015 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, i7-4970K, i7-4960X, i7-4770k, Haswell-E

TechPowerUp has put together a quick overview of the differences of Intel's current offerings for your reference when purchasing a new machine or considering an upgrade.  The older i7-4770K would run you $310 as compared to $338 for the i7-4790K or $385 for an i7-5820K while the i7-4960X would set you back $1025.  Is it worth upgrading your machine if you have an older Haswell, or going full hog to pick up the $1000 flagship model?  The results are presented in a handy format and while perhaps not an in depth review the results are quite striking, especially the performance while gaming.

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"We review the Haswell-E lineup by pitting all its processors against each other and the Ivy Bridge-E Intel Core i7-4960X, Haswell Refresh Intel Core i7-4970K, and Haswell Intel Core i7-4770K. If you are looking to build a high-end gaming PC, or are looking to upgrade, then look no further: This review will tell you which CPU you will want to get to cover your needs."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: techPowerUp

GTC 2015: NVIDIA Roadmap Shows Pascal with 3D Memory, NVLink and Mixed Precision Compute

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 17, 2015 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, gtc 2015, GTC, geforce

At the keynote of the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) today, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang disclosed some more updates on the roadmap for future GPU technologies.

GTC-36.jpg

Most of the detail was around Pascal, due in 2016, that will introduce three new features including mixed compute precision, 3D (stacked) memory, and NVLink. Mixed precision is a method of computing in FP16, allowing calculations to run much faster at lower accuracy than full single or double precision when they are not necessary. Keeping in mind that Maxwell doesn't have an implementation with full speed DP compute (today), it would seem that NVIDIA is targeting different compute tasks moving forward. Though details are short, mixed precision would likely indicate processing cores than can handle both data types.

3D memory is the ability to put memory on-die with the GPU directly to improve overall memory banwidth. The visual diagram that NVIDIA showed on stage indicated that Pascal would have 750 GB/s of bandwidth, compared to 300-350 GB/s on Maxwell today.

NVLink is a new way of connecting GPUs, improving on bandwidth by more than 5x over current implementations of PCI Express. They claim this will allow for connecting as many as 8 GPUs for deep learning performance improvements (up to 10x). What that means for gaming has yet to be discussed.

GTC-38.jpg

NVIDIA made some other interesting claims as well. Pascal will be more than 2x more performance per watt efficient than Maxwell, even without the three new features listed above. It will also ship (in a compute targeted product) with a 32GB memory system compared to the 12GB of memory announced on the Titan X today. Pascal will also have 4x the performance in mixed precision compute.

HSA Version 1.0 arrived today

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2015 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: hsa foundation, hsa, amd, arm, Samsung, Imagination Technologies, HSAIL

We have been talking about the HSA foundation since 2013, a cooperative effort by AMD, ARM, Imagination, Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek and TI to design a heterogeneous memory architecture to allow GPUs, DSPs and CPUs to all directly access the same physical memory.  The release of the official specifications today are a huge step forward for these companies, especially for garnering future mobile market share as physical hardware apart from Carrizo becomes available.

Programmers will be able to use C, C++, Fortran, Java, and Python to write HSA-compliant code which is then compiled into HSAIL (Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language) and from there to the actual binary executables which will run on your devices.  HSA currently supports x86 and x64 and there are Linux kernel patches available for those who develop on that OS.  Intel and NVIDIA are not involved in this project at all, they have chosen their own solutions for mobile devices and while Intel certainly has pockets deep enough to experiment NVIDIA might not.  We shall soon see if Pascal and improvements Maxwell's performance and efficiency through future generations can compete with the benefits of HSA.

The current problem is of course hardware, Bald Eagle and Carrizo are scheduled to arrive on the market soon but currently they are not available.  Sea Islands GPUs and Kaveri have some HSA enhancements but with limited hardware to work with it will be hard to convince developers to focus on programming HSA optimized applications.  The release of the official specs today is a great first step; if you prefer an overview to reading through the official documents The Register has a good article right here.

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"The HSA Foundation today officially published version 1.0 of its Heterogeneous System Architecture specification, which (if we were being flippant) describes how GPUs, DSPs and CPUs can share the same physical memory and pass pointers between each other. (A provisional 1.0 version went live in August 2014.)"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Watch NVIDIA Reveal the GTX TITAN X at GTC 2015

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | March 17, 2015 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, video, GTC, gtc 2015

NVIDIA is streaming today's keynote from the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) on Ustream, and we have the embed below for you to take part. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will reveal the details about the new GeForce GTX TITAN X but there are going to be other announcements as well, including one featuring Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Should be interesting!

Source: NVIDIA

PCPer Live! GeForce GTX TITAN X Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 16, 2015 - 07:13 PM |
Tagged: video, tom petersen, titan x, nvidia, maxwell, live, gtx titan x, gtx, gm200, geforce

UPDATE 2: If you missed the live stream, we now have the replay available below!

UPDATE: The winner has been announced: congrats to Ethan M. for being selected as the random winner of the GeForce GTX TITAN X graphics card!!

Get yourself ready, it’s time for another GeForce GTX live stream hosted by PC Perspective’s Ryan Shrout! This time the focus is going to be NVIDIA's brand-new GeForce GTX TITAN X graphics card, first teased a couple of weeks back at GDC. NVIDIA's Tom Petersen will be joining us live from the GPU Technology Conference show floor to discuss the GM200 GPU, it's performance and to show off some demos of the hardware in action.

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And what's a live stream without a prize? One lucky live viewer will win a GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB graphics card of their very own! That's right - all you have to do is tune in for the live stream tomorrow afternoon and you could win a Titan X!!

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X Live Stream and Giveaway

1pm PT / 4pm ET - March 17th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Tuesday, March 17th at 1pm PT / 4pm ET at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prize you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

Tom has a history of being both informative and entertaining and these live streaming events are always full of fun and technical information that you can get literally nowhere else.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Tuesday at 1pm PT / 4pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Huge thanks to ASUS for supplying a new G751JY notebook, featuring an Intel Core i7-4710HQ and a GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GPU to power our live stream from GTC!!

360mm of radiator; the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 16, 2015 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, Water 3.0 Ultimate, watercooling, AIO

Using the Asetek Gen 4 pump and a radiator measuring 393mm x 120mm x 27mm the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate is a large cooler designed for serious overclockers.  The fans are rated at 99CFM and are set up properly with PWM connections to balance noise and performance.  Overclockers Club increased their i7-4770K to 4.2GHz and this cooler kept the CPU at an impressive 67 °C, topping the charts of the coolers they have tested previously.  They managed to get the chip running at 4.5GHz on 1.241 volts which raised the temperature to 75 °C but that was the highest frequency that particular i7-4770K could reach.  Check out their full review here.

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"Cooling capacity is dependent on air flow and the Ultimate has you covered. You have close to 300CFM of air at your command, so expect to notice the fans when you crank up the heat and with a cooler this size, a little fan noise just goes with the territory. Thermaltake has refined a few components to make the installation about as easy as it can be. The low profile Asetek pump looks good and is quiet. Even at a 4.5GHz overclock, the Ultimate still has some thermal room if your chip can handle a higher overclock."

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

CASES & COOLING

It has been a long time since we saw a gaming chair review

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2015 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming chair

A few years back Ryan reviewed the Nerdytec COUCHMASTER, even longer ago The Tech Report played with the SumoSac and there are still ButtKickers out there for sale.  Now you can pick up the brightly coloured AKRACING AK-6011 Gaming Chair which is style after the bucket seats found in many sports cars.  Neoseeker picked one up and assembled it to see just how comfortable it and the two included pillows actually are.   After two months of usage they are quite happy with the comfort and sturdy design of the chair, so if you really want to make a statement you can pick one up from Amazon, there are different colour schemes available if the only thing that you find odd about this product is the shade of green they used.

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"While we aren't strangers to reviewing gaming peripherals, we haven't yet had the chance to take one of AKRACING's premium gaming chairs for a spin. The brand might ring a bell for readers familiar with eSports. Modeled after the seats used in race cars, AKRACING looks to blend fast lane sensibilities with the ergonomic features that users come to expect from any comfortable chair. On our review today is the AKRACING AK-6011 in a two-tone black and green color scheme with two extra pillows to better customize proper sitting posture. See what over $300 for a chair ought to get you."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Neoseeker

The Tech Report Endurance Test Ends Just After 2.4PB

Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance

The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.

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This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.

Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!

  1. Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
  2. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
  3. Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
  4. Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
  5. Intel 335 (240GB)
  6. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)

The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.

Source: Tech Report

NVIDIA Quadro M6000 Leaks via Deadmau5

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, quadro, m6000, deadmau5, gtc 2015

Sometimes information comes from the least likely of sources. Deadmau5, one of the world's biggest names in house music, posted an interesting picture to his Instagram feed a couple of days ago.

Well, that's interesting. A quick hunt on Google for the NVIDIA M6000 reveals rumors of it being a GM200-based 12GB graphics card. Sound familiar? NVIDIA recently announced the GeForce GTX TITAN X based on an identical configuration at GDC last week.

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A backup of the Instagram image...in case it gets removed.

With NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference coming up starting this Tuesday, it would appear we have more than one version of GM200 incoming.

Source: Deadmau5

Star Citizen Keeps Getting Bigger. Literally.

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: star citizen, rsi

When the game is finished, Robert Space Industries is expecting the Star Citizen game client to be 100GB in size. The company was given $75 million USD from fans over the last two and a half years, and they seem to be using it for content. Individual patches are expected to be in the 2 to 6GB range, but could extend to 20GB if an architecture change requires updating old assets to some new system.

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I guess this is a case of “be careful what you wish for”. When you praise a developer for producing a gigantic experience with tonnes of content, it will need to be stored somewhere. At the same time, I wonder when games from typical publishers will match this bar. Say what you like about crowd-funding, but Star Citizen seems to be an example of the business model done right (although their budget is astronomical and that probably helped).

Star Citizen is slowly being released, piece by piece, with a 2016 shipping date.

Source: PC Gamer

GDC 15: Valve's GDC VR "Aperture Science" Demo

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 14, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: vive vr, vive, valve, re vive, Portal 2, Portal, mwc 15, MWC, htc, gdc 15, GDC

At the recent Game Developer Conference and Mobile World Congress events, Valve had a demo for HTC's Vive VR system that was based in the Portal universe. The headset is combined with two controllers, one for each hand, which sound like a cross between Valve's Steam Controller and the Razer Hydra.

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When HTC briefed journalists about the technology, they brought a few examples for use with their prototype. C|Net described three: a little demo where you could paint with the controllers in a virtual space, an aquarium where you stand on a sunken pirate ship and can look at a gigantic blue whale float overhead, and a Portal-based demo that is embedded above. I also found “The Gallery” demo online, but I am not sure where it was presented (if anywhere).

Beyond VR, the Source 2 engine, which powers the Portal experience, looks good. The devices looked very intricate and full of detail. Granted, it is a lot easier to control performance when you are dealing with tight corridors or isolated rooms. The lighting also seems spot on, although it is hard to tell whether this capability is dynamic or precomputed.

The HTC Vive developer kit is coming soon, before a consumer launch in the Autumn.

Source: YouTube

Windows 10 Preview Build Stuff and Stuff

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

So we have been on Build 9926 for a while and Microsoft is aware that we want something new. They started out this Technical Preview claiming that we will see the OS evolve as it is built. While we have, for the most part, been given builds frequently enough to influence the development, the last couple of updates have been about half of their expected interval.

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For this release, Microsoft claims that there is just a single blocking bug that is preventing a public release. They also state that users who want a more stable preview build, such as those who installed it to a production machine (not naming any names... sigh), should switch their update schedule to “Slow”. Users on the “Fast” lane will get new builds much quicker. The words “Daily Builds” appeared on an internal document, but was quickly clarified as an internal memo.

Microsoft is also considering a third tier that pushes updates faster than both “Fast” and “Slow”.

There are two opposing forces when it comes to the update speed of preview software. While you end up with more stability if you are extra careful with troubleshooting, you will not catch every bug. For that matter, there are still bugs that I can point to in Windows 7 that will never be fixed at this point (there is one bug with resizing windows on vertically-separated multiple monitors that still exists in Windows 10 -- although other multi-monitor interfaces that are not in Windows 7 give plenty of workarounds room).

When the update speed is low, you are stuck with bugs that feel excruciating for what feels like forever. Add that to the slow, bursty roll-out of new features and it gives some extra merit to the fast release model. That is, unless you get so quick that you run into bluescreens and other, more critical failures. It is a tough balance that I can sympathize with and empathize to.

It's tough, so I have personally flipped my machine over to “slow”. I figure that I could keep on the more stable builds for a short period of time and wait to hear what the community thinks about each new release before flipping to the fast track.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

MSI Announces New AMD And Intel Motherboards With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2015 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, msi, FX, atx, asmedia asm1352r, amd, am3+

MSI recently announced a torrent of new motherboards that feature USB 3.1 ports. The refreshed lineup includes ten Intel models and, in an interesting twist, two AMD motherboards. MSI’s new motherboards support USB 3.1 by using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller that interfaces with the system via two PCI-E 2.0 lanes (PCI-E 2.0 x2). The controller is rated for the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds. 

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It is worth noting that the boards use the traditional USB Type-A connector with one exception. The MSI Z97A Gaming 6 features the new reversible Type-C connector in the form of a single Type-C USB 3.1 port on the rear I/O panel. The other boards have at least two USB 3.1 ports on their rear I/O panels.

The new USB 3.1-supporting lineup is listed below:

  • AMD (970 chipset):
    • SLI Krait Edition
  • AMD (990FX chipset):
    • 990FXA Gaming
  • Intel (Z97 chipset):
    • Z97A Gaming 9 ACK
    • Z97A Gaming 7
    • Z97A Gaming 6
  • Intel (X99 chipset):
    • X99A Gaming 9 ACK
    • X99A Gaming 7
    • X99A Xpower AC
    • X99A Mpower
    • X99A SLI Krait Edition
    • X99A SLI Plus
    • X99A Raider

These new boards are all essentially minor refreshes of previous versions that add the Asmedia controller and faster USB 3.1 ports. You can expect all the multi-GPU and overclocking-friendly features to remain present on these new motherboards.

MSI USB 3.1 Motherboards.jpg

MSI's X99 Xpower AC (left) and Z97A Gaming 9 ACK (right) now support 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports.

AM3+ is still technically AMD's enthusiast platform, but it is still somewhat odd that MSI chose to add USB 3.1 support to AM3+ motherboards with AMD’s aging 990FX and 970 chipsets rather than FM2+ boards with the newer A88X chipset. On the other hand, you can now add much faster external storage to your AM3+ system to give it a bit more life. 

There is no word on pricing but expect the USB 3.1 models to come at a slight premium over the older models in each respective series.

Source: MSI

Report: ASRock to Reveal Mini-ITX Haswell-E Motherboard at CeBIT - The X99E-ITX/ac

Subject: Motherboards | March 13, 2015 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: X99, mini-itx, Haswell-E, CeBIT 2015, asrock

AnandTech is reporting that motherboard maker ASRock will be showing off a new Haswell-E motherboard at CeBIT 2015, and it would represent an industry first as this new X99 board is in the mini-ITX form factor.

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Cramming an X99 system into mini-ITX does limit the platform, as the form-factor's two-DIMM limitation means this can only support dual-channel memory. The other obvious penalty is the single x16 PCI Express slot, though ASRock has incorporated an M.2 connector that may be using a x4 connection (the article points out the "Ultra M.2" listing on the box).

The LGA 2011-3 socket is apparently a slim version according to the report, but it still dominates the tiny motherboard. Dual Intel NICs and included 802.11ac WiFi make this very capable from a networking standpoint, but with limited expansion and reduced memory bandwidth this will appeal to only a limited number of users. Very compact micro-ATX enclosures and existing X99 motherboards in the mATX form-factor can already provide a platform for a very powerful small build, but there is something to be said for the engineering that has made the move the mini-ITX possible.

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Image credit: SweClockers

One item of interest is the inclusion of a heatsink and fan with the motherboard, and given the unusual layout and socket design it is unclear what the aftermarket cooler support might be like with this motherboard. We should see further details soon as CeBIT 2015 kicks off next week.

Source: AnandTech

Dual GPUs can still be quiet

Subject: Systems | March 13, 2015 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: sli, quiet computing

Silent PC Review spends a lot of effort choosing components which offer a great performance but do not create a lot of noise and their latest sytem is a perfect example.  Even with a pair of air cooled GTX 970's and an i5-4690K this system only hit 23dBA under load, quiet enough for SPCR to confirm their 970's suffer from coil whine.  The sound came primarily from the GPUs as you would expect so it is possible that finding a very quiet radiator and watercooling them might reduce the sound produced even further.  It just goes to show how much quieter air cooling has become from the days of screaming 40mm Deltas.

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"For our 8th Quiet Gaming PC Build Guide, we take on the challenge of two high-end video cards in an SLI configuration featuring a pair of Zotac GTX 970s in the SilverStone Fortress FT05 case."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems