Asus' Z170I Pro Gaming Is A Stylish Mini ITX Motherboard For Skylake

Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2015 - 01:08 AM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SATA Express, mu-mimo, mini ITX, M.2

Small Form Factor (SFF) enthusiasts will soon have another Mini ITX option for Skylake-based builds in the form of the recently launched Asus Z170I Pro Gaming motherboard. The Z170I Pro Gaming packs a ton of features for its size including all of the latest storage and networking technologies.

Asus is not wasting any space on the PCB with this new board. The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by two red and black heatsinks covering the Digi+ VRMs (which looks to be 10-phase power delivery which isn’t bad for a SFF board), two DDR4 memory slots (up to 32GB at 3400 MHz), the PCH/Southbridge (part of the Z170 chipset), and a single PCI-E x16 slot along the bottom edge.

Asus Z170I Pro Gaming Mini ITX motherboard (1).jpg

Storage options include two SATA III (6Gbps) ports, a single SATA Express port (which holds two SATA III ports of its own), and a M.2 slot on the underside of the motherboard supporting four PCI-E 3.0 lanes.

Other components on the board include an ASMedia USB 3.1 controller, and an EMI shielded SupremeFX 8-channel audio solution that is comprised of the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, isolated circuitry and an EMI cover, Nichicon capacitors, a dedicated 5V power supply, and a 300-ohm headphone amplifier. Asus is further including a 2x2 MU-MIMO capable 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 radios, and an Intel 1219V Gigabit Ethernet NIC.

Rear IO on the Z170I Pro Gaming includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia controller)
  • 4 x USB 3.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
  • 5 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical audio out

The Z170I Pro Gaming is a nice looking board that incorporates many of the features of its Z170 Pro Gaming (ATX) brother. This miniaturization comes at a price, however. While Asus has not yet released official pricing and availability, expect it to be out soon at least $200 USD.

Check out more Mini ITX hardware at PC Perspective!

Also, if you have not already, please consider reading our review of the Intel Core-i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor

Source: Asus

Taming your gaming laptop's heat with CM's NotePal Ergostand III

Subject: Mobile | September 25, 2015 - 05:36 PM |
Tagged: laptop cooler, NotePal Ergostand III, cooler master

We've talked about gaming laptops and the mobile GTX 980 recently on the podcast and mentioned the fact that powerful gaming laptops need help keeping cool.  One product worth considering would be the NotePal Ergostand III from CoolerMaster which has a 230mm adjustable fan covering its backside.  At around $50 it is a decent price for this sort of product and worthy of consideration if you happen to be a gamer who prefers laptops.  You can learn more about it over at Benchmark Reviews.


"That’s where notebook coolers come in, such as the Cooler Master NotePal Ergostand III used as our example in this article about keeping hot laptops cool and running fast."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Gigabyte's Z170X Gaming 7, affordable luxury with a nice clean cut look

Subject: Motherboards | September 25, 2015 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z170X Gaming 7, Z170, LGA 1151, opamp

Gaze upon the empty space surrounding the Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 7's LGA 1151 socket, enough to fit brand stamps and a huge CPU cooler.  The only thing impinging on it is the second M.2 slot, if you were so inclined to use it instead of leaving PCIe lanes free for the three PCIe 3.0 16x slots or the three SEx ports.  There are five fan headers onboard including one designed for use with a water pump.  It also comes with an Intel SSD 750 connector, perhaps you can afford one as this board is not as expensive as many Z170 models on the market.  Check out the performance and features, including a KillerNIC and Creative Sound Core 3D with OPAMP at [H]ard|OCP.


"GIGABYTE's G1 series represents the pinnacle of GIGABYTE's engineering prowess and is targeted squarely at the gamer and overclocking enthusiasts alike. To that end the Z170X Gaming 7 offers almost everything a gamer could want and more. The G1 series gets a new look and evolves in some unexpected ways."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:



Source: [H]ard|OCP

Bad Lenovo! Don't do anything even slightly fishy for a while

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2015 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, fud

Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64 is nowhere near the level of SuperFish when it comes creepy behaviour but it certainly shows a lack of insight from the popular company.  With SuperFish so recently in the headlines and peoples memory it would perhaps have been beneficial for Lenovo to abandon any and all data collection from their users but it would seem that is not the case.  Thankfully this particular one appears in your Programs and can be removed via the Control Panel but you can bet that it will immediately create negative feedback for the company.   The Inquirer covers the details here, apparently it was collecting data about Win10 compatibility and user feedback but no matter if it is innocuous or not, there will be fallout.


"SOFTWARE INCLUDED ON LENOVO hardware has been found to be suspicious-looking, and this is not the first time that the company has been caught out like this."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Hosting Event Next Month, Allegedly Launching New Flagship Windows Devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 25, 2015 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: windows phone, windows 10 mobile, Surface Pro, Skylake, microsoft band, microsoft, lumia, Intel

Earlier this month, Microsoft sent out invites to members of the press for an event to be held on October 6th at the Skylight at the Moynihan Station in New York City. Naturally, Microsoft was short on details on what exactly will be covered. The rumor mill on the Internet (surely the most reliable of sources!) is set on the idea that the event will be used to launch a slew of new hardware products and refresh its mobile and wearable product stacks.

The rumored products include at least two new Windows Phone 10 Lumia smartphones, a refreshed Microsoft Band 2, and new Surface Pro 4 tablet.

New Microsoft Event with Possible New Hardware Launching.jpg

On the smartphone front, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both have fairly generous specifications for Windows Phone devices (running Windows 10 Mobile). The 950 sports a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 display, a six core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of internal memory, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery pack.


Moving up to the 950XL allegedly gets you a larger 5.7-inch display (though it is still at the same 1440p resolution) and a faster Snapdragon 810 SoC (four Cortex A57 at up to 2GHz and four lower power A53 cores along with the Adreno 430 GPU). Oddly, the battery pack is rumored to be only slightly larger than the Lumia 950 at 3,300 mAh which may result in lower battery life thanks to the larger display and faster processor.

Both phones will also feature a 20 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front camera, an iris scanner for Windows Hello, Qi wireless charging support, and a USB Type-C port for data and charging purposes.

Microsoft Band 2.jpg

Further, Microsoft is reported to be launching the Microsoft Band 2, a new (and sleek looking) wearable. The band, powered by an ARM Cortex M4 SoC and two 100 mAh batteries will sport a curved display and improved ergonomic design that can be used to see notifications, track your fitness, and interact with your smartphone using the built in microphone. The Band 2 is said to be compatbile with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android operating systems and connects via Bluetooth 4.0.

Lastly, rumors are pointing towards a new Surface Pro tablet being launched at the event though there has yet to be a consensus on the (alleged) specifications. Some rumors point towards Skylake while others point at Core M (Broadwell) being the processor of choice. Personally, I am leaning towards Microsoft using one of the new mobile Skylake chips for this possible Surface Pro 4 tablet PC. Broadwell with Iris Pro graphics would be nice to see, however...

In any event, I suppose that we will just have to wait and see what comes of this event in two weeks time. I do not have much to say on the smartphone or Surface Pro fronts (except that the tablet will be expensive no matter what the hardware ends up being, heh), but I’m liking the new Microsoft Band -- if they could somehow hit a lower price point I’m sold!

What are your thoughts on the rumors--what new hardware are you expecting to be announced next month?


Android to iPhone Day 0: What to Expect

Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2015 - 10:17 PM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

The last time I used an Apple phone as my primary device was with the release of the iPhone 3G. It remained by my side for a full year when it was replaced by the…Palm Pre in mid-2009. Yes, I loved that Pre, but let’s not depress anyone here today. After my time with the Palm device I moved over to the world of Android with the HTC Evo 4G in early 2010. The move wasn’t easy at the time – Android was messy, frequently unstable and the app ecosystem was still getting started.

But I stuck with the Google platform, diving headfirst into a world of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, etc. I moved through countless Android phones in my never ending quest to find better hardware and, maybe more importantly, better software. I had the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 5 – I had phones from Samsung, LG and Motorola. Even oddball companies like OnePlus found their way into my pocket, so to speak. Most recently the everyday device has been the Motorola Droid Turbo, purchased due to its faster processor and extended battery life.

In the past year or so PC Perspective has put emphasis on the mobile market in terms of phones and tablet reviews. You can find reviews of the ASUS Zenfone 2, Motorola Moto E, and Galaxy Note 4 on, in addition to numerous articles that look at the SoC architectures from Qualcomm, ARM, Intel and others. And for every phone review you actually saw, there are 1-2 other phones that are purchased or sampled, used for context and internal testing.

But despite the fact that Ken, Allyn and others on the PC Perspective staff have and use Apple products, I personally had spent no time with any iPhone since the release of the iPhone 3G. With Apple by far the most dominant player in the mobile space, this is just dumb on my part. How can I pretend to offer informed opinions on the selection of smartphones to our readers and viewers without even giving the annually updated Apple iPhone a chance?


To fix this, I ordered myself an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Rather than just get the phone in, run some benchmarks, take some sample photos and write a typical review of the new iPhone 6s, I thought it might be interesting to our readers to take them along on a journey. Starting tomorrow when the iPhone 6s arrives I will be swap out my Verizon SIM card and commit to using it as my only mobile phone for the next 30 days. I think it’s only fair, considering the drastic ecosystem differences between Android and iOS, to engulf myself in the iPhone platform completely rather than simply keep it with me as a secondary device. (That’s something I typically do with Android review units.)


My new smartphone. I'm not sure I'm ready.

As an Android user for many years, I am familiar with many of the stereotypes associated with the iPhone and its users: closed platform, overpriced hardware, complications with access to data and photos, etc. But is it really that bad? Too many of my friends and family use iPhones for me to believe it’s THAT bad. So I’m going to find out.

I'm honestly nervous about a handful of things already:

  1. How much am I going to miss having Quick Charge capability?
  2. How many Lightning cables am I going to have to buy to replace the locations I have micro USB cables at?
  3. How can I easily access the full resolution photos I take on the phone?
  4. Am I REALLY going to have to use iTunes again?
  5. Will I be able to recreate the workflow I am used to on Android? Apps like Gmail, Calendar, Keep and doubleTwist are essential!
  6. Will this new "Move to iOS" applications on the Play Store actually work?

I plan to write frequent entries to this series, offering up my thoughts on the performance, application ecosystem, camera, battery life, gaming capability, accessory market and more. You'll see some posts that simply discuss my experiences that day and others that show performance data or battery metrics. What is it like to suddenly decide to “change sides” at this point in the Android / iOS war? 

Let’s find out.

Qualcomm Announces Quick Charge 3.0

Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2015 - 07:55 PM |
Tagged: usb, snapdragon 820, Quick Charge 3.0, Quick Charge, qualcomm, mobile, battery charger

Qualcomm has announced Quick Charge 3.0, the latest iteration of their fast battery charging technology. The new version is said to not only further improve battery charging times, but also better maintain battery health and reduce temperatures.

One of the biggest issues with fast battery charging is the premature failure of the battery cells; something my first Nexus 6 (which was replaced due to a bad battery) can attest to. The new 3.0 standard adds "Battery Saver Technology" (BST) which constantly varies the current delivery rate based on what the battery can safely accept, thus preventing damage to the cells. This new version of Quick Charge also claims to offer lower temps while charging, which could be partly the result of this variable current delivery.

The other change comes from "Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage" (INOV), which can vary the voltage delivery anywhere from 3.6V to 20V in 200mV increments depending on the device's negotiated connection. INOV will allow Quick Charge 3.0 to charge a full 2x faster than the original Quick Charge 1.0 (it's 1.5x faster than QC 2.0), and 4x over standard USB charging as it provides up to 60W to compatible devices.

This new Quick Charge 3.0 technology will be available soon with devices featuring upcoming Qualcomm SoCs such as the Snapdragon 820.

The CRYORIG H7 is a great value for those on a budget

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 24, 2015 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: CRYORIG, H7, air cooling

[H]ard|OCP just strapped another of CRYORIG's coolers to their test bench, this time the H7 CPU Air Cooler.  This model is smaller than the one they previously reviewed, a mere 711g in weight and 98x123x145mm (38.5x48.4x57") which offers more compatibility with cases but is not quite in the SFF category.  It will fit modern AMD sockets as well as LGA 115X and while it is nowhere near the most effective cooler [H] has reviewed it is the most cost efficient making it a great choice for a gamer looking for something better than stock cooling which won't break the bank.  See the CRYORIG H7 in action right here.


"CRYORIG mates its Hive Fin Technology with a smaller design that allows for better RAM module fitment without interference with its H7 CPU Air Cooler. Its "compact" 145mm tall design, excellent mounting configuration, and dollar value are winners for sure. Its new Quad Air Inlet fan design gives us high hopes about its performance."

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



Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #368 - full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Jim Keller, Zen, Samsung, 950 PRO, NVMe, M.2, vnand, Thrustmaster, tx f458, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x250, t450s, helix

PC Perspective Podcast #368 - 09/24/2015

Join us this week as we discuss full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD 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: - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Morry Teitelman

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


The Fable of the uncontroversial benchmark

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 24, 2015 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, lionhead, geforce, fable legends, fable, dx12, benchmark, amd

By now you should have memorized Ryan's review of Fable's DirectX 12 performance on a variety of cards and hopefully tried out our new interactive IFU charts.  You can't always cover every card, as those who were brave enough to look at the CSV file Ryan provided might have come to realize.  That's why it is worth peeking at The Tech Report's review after reading through ours.  They have included an MSI R9 285 and XFX R9 390 as well as an MSI GTX 970, which may be cards you are interested in seeing.  They also spend some time looking at CPU scaling and the effect that has on AMD and NVIDIA's performance.  Check it out here.


"Fable Legends is one of the first games to make use of DirectX 12, and it produces some truly sumptuous visuals. Here's a look at how Legends performs on the latest graphics cards."

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

Graphics Cards

Why you couldn't swipe right while watching a movie in someone else's appartment

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: amazon, AWS, dynamoDB

It has not been a good week for internet users, with Skype suffering major outages and AWS based services such as Tinder and Netflix going down Sunday and experiencing issues again today.  The Register takes you through what caused the outage in this quick article about Amazon Web Services and DynamoDB. 

As with other Cloud providers, the database is spread out over the globe, with DynamoDB tables split into partitions which are not necessarily close geographically.  The location of tables to which the partitions are members of are stored in metadata servers which can connect the scattered tables into seamless interface for the end user ... when all is well.  In this case the metadata servers were responding to slowly for the tables to function which resulted in those tables querying updated memberships on the metadata servers which caused enough traffic to bring down AWS.  


"Picture a steakhouse in which the cooks are taking so long to prepare the food, the side dishes have gone cold by the time the waiters and waitresses take the plates from the chef to the hungry diners. The orders have to be started again from scratch, the whole operation is overwhelmed, the chef walks out, and ultimately customers aren't getting fed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Thirtysomething cents per gigabyte; Kingston's HyperX Fury versus the SanDisk Ultra II

Subject: Storage | September 23, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: kingston, HyperX Fury, Ultra II, sandisk, SandForce SF-2281, Marvell 88SS9189

The Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD is currently $90 and the same size SanDisk Ultra II is $86 though the 960GB model that The Tech Report actually reviewed is a relatively decent $300.  At those prices they can be quite attractive although there is a big difference between the two drives, Kingston's uses SandForce's SF-2281 while SanDisk opted for the Marvell 88SS9189 controller.  Once the benchmarks started the difference did not show in real world applications, both are good performers overall though the HyperX did show some delays in the IOMeter testing.  The OCZ Arc 100 that they included did end up on top overall, a strong showing for a drive that is getting a little long in the tooth.


"Kingston's HyperX Fury 240GB SSD and Sandisk's Ultra II 960GB drive both offer solid-state storage at budget-friendly prices for their capacity. We put them through their paces to see whether they're worthy of builders' hard-earned cash."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:



More Star Wars Battlefront news

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars Battlefront

When EA stated there would not be a server browser for their upcoming game many were worried what that would mean for dedicated servers.  Today Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN heard confirmation that there will still be dedicated servers and that there will be a “new skill based matchmaking system” for players looking for games.  The news does give hope to those who were planning on setting up private servers or playing with specific users. 

HEXUS also had good news to share, the Beta will be available to one and all, with Walker Assault and Pod Drop maps confirmed to be included, hopefully with some others.  Sadly we do not yet have a date for when the Beta will be available.


"Star Wars: Battlefront will have dedicated servers. EA DICE’s Jamie Keen confirmed the feature to PlayStation LifeStyle at the Tokyo Game Show. It’s good news though a slight surprise, given that it was announced earlier this month that the game wouldn’t have a server browser."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


Windows Update Fails to Install KB3087040 for Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Well this is a problem. (Update, Sept 24th @ 5:30pm ET: Microsoft fixed it.)

KB3087040 is an update from Microsoft that patches Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge (and other applications as we'll mention later). The add-on has been vulnerable to numerous security issues over the last several years, which is a big concern whenever an application accepts untrusted data, especially when it is developed in a language with explicit memory management. It can be as simple as forgetting the sign of an integer.


But that's not the problem -- we know Flash has holes all over that Adobe has been filling with calcified tears. No, the trouble is with Windows Update this time. On Windows 10, the update is failing to install with an error code. Workarounds exist to block the plug-in from loading, but on a program-by-program basis. Microsoft specifically mentioned Office 2007 and Office 2010 in their security advisory, which can invoke Flash through Internet Explorer even if your system's group policy to disable Flash in Internet Explorer. You really need to apply the update to be secure.

There is apparently a way to do it, too, but Microsoft has not recommended it. InfoWorld found the update's manual installer links, one for Windows 10 32-bit and the other for Windows 10 64-bit, and posted it in their article. Yes, they link to, which is an official Microsoft website.

So what should you do? I don't know. It's impossible for me to verify that InfoWorld got the correct version of the patch, because Microsoft has issued KB3087040 several times and mistakes are easy to make. It's also impossible for me to know if manually installing the patch will confuse Windows Update in the future. Both potential problems seem unlikely, though.

If you don't manually install the update before Microsoft fixes their bug, then you probably shouldn't use Internet Explorer, Edge, Office, or maybe even Windows Store apps that use Trident or Edge rendering engines.

Source: Infoworld

That free OS upgrade doesn't seem to have helped sales of new PCs

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, pc sales, microsoft

It may seem obvious to most that giving away a free upgrade is not going to positively effect sales but apparently not so to market analysts who seem to have assumed the release of Windows 10 would boost PC sales.  Most machines capable of running Windows 7 or a variety of Windows 8 can run Windows 10 without issues, with most problems arising from driver issues which can be worked around, so there was no huge rush to purchase a brand new laptop or desktop.  This quarter a fall of 7.3% in sales compared to this time last year is expected, decent in comparison to last quarters fall of 9.8% but still far from good.  The only increase in sales occurred in the smartphone segment, even tablet sales are down over 10%.  There is good news on the horizon for new hardware does drive sales and Intel has recently released Skylake and products using the new chip have yet to reach the channel in large numbers.  As the manufacturers produce more products using the new processor we should see somewhat of an increase in sales of systems though this story at The Inquirer suggests it may be 2017 before we see an increase ... perhaps some relatively good news for AMD?


"So says analyst outfit Gartner, which seems to think Microsoft's latest Windows release hasn't done much to reverse faltering PC sales, despite the software giant having gone out of its way to ensure users download it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Inquirer

Street Fighter V Will Be RAM-Heavy, Otherwise Decent

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 07:31 AM |
Tagged: street fighter v, pc gaming, consolitis, capcom

For the longest time, game developers have been complaining about 32-bit limits for memory usage but were timid to cut off support for 32-bit OSes. It is one thing to tell users to drop a few extra sticks into their PC, as a handful of gigabytes have been pretty cheap for a while, but this barrier also required an OS upgrade, and many gamers were clinging to XP or fearful of driver problems. The problem has mostly been resolved for PC gamers now, and current consoles have crossed the threshold themselves with 8GB of memory (for Microsoft and Sony).


This brings us to Street Fighter V. I am not quite sure that a game like this inherently requires so much memory given the relatively few unique objects that fighting games tend to display. It apparently will be though, according to Capcom. Their official specifications claim that the game will not even launch without 6GB of memory installed, and 8GB is appreciated if it is available.

Otherwise, the game requires a dual-core (four thread) Haswell i3 at 3.6 GHz and an NVIDIA GTX 480 or higher. This is relatively high, slightly higher than Battlefield 3 in fact, but not too bad for today's situation. For the record, Capcom recommends a Devil's Canyon i5 with a GTX 960, but they naturally don't say what that corresponds to. They also don't provide AMD or Intel GPU equivalents, but I don't think even Iris Pro is equivalent so that probably just leaves Radeon users doing trial and error. Thankfully, Steam offers refunds just for that kind of thing.

They also want to say that Street Fighter V supports Steamworks. Expected, but nice.

Source: Capcom

More Movies on Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, movies

Valve has been dipping their toes into distributing non-games on Steam for quite a while. Gabe Newell at LinuxCon 2013 said that they are dissatisfied with families needing to manage multiple content silos, and they would like everything to be accessible everywhere. This can be interpreted as a “situation: there are now 15 competing standards” environment, but it seems to be more in the context of “I have all my content on my PC, why can't I bring it into my own living room?”


We later saw this manifest as Steam In-Home Streaming for PC games. For videos, according to the Streaming Video on Steam FAQ, “In-home streaming is not currently supported”. Still, this seems like it will be their method of getting this content out to arbitrary displays in the future. Also, I have to wonder how Valve's historical practice of distributing purchases made from other stores will play into this whole situation.

For now, Valve has been adding more and more content to their service. It started with a few documentaries and low-budget films, including a video from the publisher of the game Hotline Miami. Now we are seeing the Mad Max franchise including the summer film, Mad Max: Fury Road available on the service. Steam doesn't need to have every movie right now if it wants to survive. They don't have to justify their actions to a board. They do, and they experiment with how it works and why.

Source: Valve

Phoronix Looks at NVIDIA's Linux Driver Quality Settings

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 22, 2015 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, linux, graphics drivers

In the NVIDIA driver control panel, there is a slider that controls Performance vs Quality. On Windows, I leave it set to “Let the 3D application decide” and change my 3D settings individually, as needed. I haven't used NVIDIA's control panel on Linux too much, mostly because my laptop is what I usually install Linux on, which runs an AMD GPU, but the UI seems to put a little more weight on it.


Or is that GTux?

Phoronix decided to test how each of these settings affects a few titles, and the only benchmark they bothered reporting is Team Fortress 2. It turns out that other titles see basically zero variance. TF2 saw a difference of 6FPS though, from 115 FPS at High Quality to 121 FPS at Quality. Oddly enough, Performance and High Performance were worse performance than Quality.

To me, this sounds like NVIDIA has basically forgot about the feature. It barely affects any title, the game it changes anything measureable in is from 2007, and it contradicts what the company is doing on other platforms. I predict that Quality is the default, which is the same as Windows (albeit with only 3 choices: “Performance”, “Balanced”, and the default “Quality”). If it is, you probably should just leave it there 24/7 in case NVIDIA has literally not thought about tweaking the other settings. On Windows, it is kind-of redundant with GeForce Experience, anyway.

Final note: Phoronix has only tested the GTX 980. Results may vary elsewhere, but probably don't.

Source: Phoronix

Rumor: Google To Host Press Briefing on September 29th

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 22, 2015 - 08:37 PM |
Tagged: Nexus, google, Android

Well, the event is apparently official. It's the contents that are rumored...

It's been a little while since Google announced new Android phones, almost a year in fact. Two phones have been rumored this year, which are allegedly named the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. I am not sure how much of the leaks are pure speculation, versus grounded in actual fact, so I will leave it as an exercise to you to read a couple of links that summarize them. A grain of salt will be necessary of course. It's not that we are afraid to look at rumors, as we do so frequently, but I'd rather not play arbitrator this time. I don't think that I can research this topic enough to arrive at a sufficient level of confidence at the moment.


What I can say is that Google will host an event on September 29th, 2015, to announce whatever they have. The invitations have gone out to sites like CNet and it will present devices that use Android 6.0 M, which Google announced stands for “Marshmallow” last August. An updated Chromecast is also expected to be launched at the same event.

Source: CNet

Samsung Announces New Branding and Future SSD Capacity Expansion with their New 48-Layer V-NAND

Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: vnand, V-NAND, Samsumg, 4TB, 48-layer, 2TB, 1TB

During yesterday's SSD Summit, obscured by their 950 PRO launch was new branding for their 32 (and now 48) layer Vertical NAND technology:

V-NAND branding.JPG

This new branding is more in line with what folks were calling their NAND anyway (Samsung was previously using the term '3D VNAND'. Dropping the 3D made sense, as it was implied with the 'V').

Also of interest were some announcements of upcoming higher capacities of their existing models:


4TB 850 EVO and PRO? Yes please.


1TB in the 850 EVO M.2 edition, and while there is no slide for this, the 950 PRO is also expected to be updated with a 1TB model within the same time frame as well.

How is all of this expansion possible? The answer is their third generation V-NAND, which is 48 layers and 256 GBit (32 GB) capacity per die. Samsung intends to roll this flash out and update all model lines currently using V-NAND technology. This decision was made by Samsung's Senior VP of Marketing, UnSoo Kim:

DSC06006.jpg before you get out the pitchforks and form up the 'don't change the flash without a new model' lynch mob, I'd like to point out a few things that make this change different than what you might have seen in the past.

  • Samsung is trying to prevent confusion by adding product lines with nearly identical specs.
  • Samsung is being very open about this change (others were secretive / deceptive).
  • Samsung has promised that they will only implement this change in a way that *increases* the performance and *decreases* the power consumption of these products.

I did leave the Q+A with some further questions about this change. The lower capacities of the 850 EVO still see slower write performance when writing straight to TLC flash (SLC cache is full). This is because there are fewer dies available to write the data, and each die can only write so fast in TLC mode. Since the 48-layer V-NAND is to have double the capacity per die, that would mean half the dies per SSD and possibly slower write speeds in the overall product.

I approached UnSoo Kim after the Q+A and asked this specific question, and his answer was both interesting and refreshing. First, he understood my question immediately and assured me that they will not roll out 256Gbit 48-layer V-NAND into their smaller capacity models - in order to prevent any performance reduction over their current 32-layer equipped parts. Second, he told me that they also intend to produce a 128Gbit variant of 48-layer V-NAND at some point in the future, and use *that* part to substitute the 128Gbit 32-layer V-NAND in those smaller capacity models, keeping the die counts (and therefore sequential write speeds) equal. That additional variant of their third generation V-NAND is the only way (in my mind) that they could update their smaller capacity parts without losing performance, and it was great to see that Samsung has thought out the execution of this rollout in such a proper manner.