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Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2016 - 01:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, Polaris, computex, amd
There is a rumour floating around this morning and it is not good. Guru of 3D translated a story over at Nordic Hardware which suggests AMD has stated they will not have any new working cards to show at Computex. The only Polaris hardware they will have ready will be equivalent to the current R9 390 and 390X, albeit at a lower price point. The rumoured problem is that the new flagship cards simply won't hit 850 MHz reliably, which in turn means high end GPUs are right out.
This had better not be true or AMD may find themselves shoeless and GPU enthusiasts will be as disappointed as White Sox fans back in 1919, albeit for different reasons. Those in the NVIDIA camp would do well to remember this has an effect on them as well; why would NVIDIA lower the price on those shiny new 1080's or 1070's when there is nothing in the market to compete with them?
This is a rumour from an anonymous source at an AMD partner, so be sure to take it with a grain of salt and hope that it is completely unsubstantiated; or that a silicon-based miracle happens in the coming months if there is some substance to this.
"Okay before I start on this news-item, I really need to state that this is based on a vague rumor, nothing has been confirmed or denied otherwise. Here's the story, some reports say Polaris 10 can't hit 850 MHz reliably and that availability will be pushed back to October. I sincerely hope the rumor is not true."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Is Preparing A Major Restructuring Of Their Graphics Driver @ Phoronix
- Google Chirp To Rival Amazon Echo @ Slashdot
- Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest @ The Register
- Criminals exploit zero day Flash vulnerability @ The Register
- Android VR: Google to launch mid-range Gear VR rival at I/O next week @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft new Surface Book said to be delayed @ DigiTimes
- How-To: Configuring Linux Usage Limits with Docker and AWS ECS @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: square enix, final fantasy
Okay, so we're starting to get just about every main-line Final Fantasy title on the PC platform. They haven't always arrived in good condition, with Final Fantasy XIII having major user interface issues, which were mostly (but not entirely) patched, and Final Fantasy IX requiring the installation of a few Android plug-ins... on Windows. Still, many of them are classics and it's therefore good to have them on platforms that (barring current UWP discussions) encourage perpetual compatibility.
As for its system requirements? They don't specify integrated GPUs, ie: Intel, but what they do list are what we would expect for a game that targets the Xbox 360 and PS3. If it comes from AMD or NVIDIA, and they are still releasing drivers for it, you should be fine. SquareEnix declares a minimum of either a AMD Radeon HD 2600XT or a NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT.
Excluding the spin-offs, the PC is now missing just the original Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy XII, and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. The rest have arrived on the PC in some form, be it a port of the original or one of their remasters. Still no word on any of those remaining four, though, but it seems like Square is just dropping games onto Steam with a few days of notice now.
Oddly enough, no price is listed (at least in Canada). No idea why.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 11, 2016 - 11:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, crimson, graphics drivers
For the second time this month, hence the version number, AMD has released a driver to coincide with a major game release. This one is for DOOM, which will be available on Friday. Like the previous driver, which was aligned with Forza, it has not been WHQL-certified. That's okay, though. NVIDIA's Game Ready drivers didn't strive for WHQL certification until just recently, and, even then, WHQL certification doesn't mean what it used to.
But yeah, apart from game-specific optimizations for DOOM, 16.5.2 has a few extra reasons to be used. If you play Battleborn, which launched on May 3rd, then AMD has added a new CrossFire profile for that game. They have also fixed at least eleven issues (plus however many undocumented ones). It comes with ten known issues, but none of them seem particularly troubling. It seems to be mostly CrossFire-related issues.
You can pick up the driver at AMD's website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 11, 2016 - 10:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sli, nvidia, GTX 1080, GeForce GTX 1080
Update (May 12th, 1:45am): Okay so the post has been deleted, which was originally from Chris Bencivenga, Support Manager at EVGA. A screenshot of it is attached below. Note that Jacob Freeman later posted that "More info about SLI support will be coming soon, please stay tuned." I guess this means take the news with a grain of salt until an official word can be released.
Original Post Below
According to EVGA, NVIDIA will not support three- and four-way SLI on the GeForce GTX 1080. They state that, even if you use the old, multi-way connectors, it will still be limited to two-way. The new SLI connector (called SLI HB) will provide better performance “than 2-way SLI did in the past on previous series”. This suggests that the old SLI connectors can be used with the GTX 1080, although with less performance and only for two cards.
This is the only hard information that we have on this change, but I will elaborate a bit based on what I know about graphics APIs. Basically, SLI (and CrossFire) are simplifications of the multi-GPU load-balancing problems such that it is easy to do from within the driver, without the game's involvement. In DirectX 11 and earlier, the game cannot interface with the driver in that way at all. That does not apply to DirectX 12 and Vulkan, however. In those APIs, you will be able to explicitly load-balance by querying all graphics devices (including APUs) and split the commands yourself.
Even though a few DirectX 12 games exist, it's still unclear how SLI and CrossFire will be utilized in the context of DirectX 12 and Vulkan. DirectX 12 has the tier of multi-GPU called “implicit multi-adapter,” which allows the driver to load balance. How will this decision affect those APIs? Could inter-card bandwidth even be offloaded via SLI HB in DirectX 12 and Vulkan at all? Not sure yet (but you would think that they would at least add a Vulkan extension). You should be able to use three GTX 1080s in titles that manually load-balance to three or more mismatched GPUs, but only for those games.
If it relies upon SLI, which is everything DirectX 11, then you cannot. You definitely cannot.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2016 - 06:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vulkan, doom, bethesda
Update: May 11th @ 6pm EDT
NVIDIA has released new footage, which is both higher quality and longer. It is still running on the Vulkan API, although the graphics card has been switched out to the Titan X. The game is running at 1080p, 120-degree FOV, with all settings at their maximum. The game was locked to 60 FPS, but that makes sense -- they wanted it to look good on video.
The video is embedded above. NVIDIA is also self-hosting their original capture (plus a blog post) if you want to see it without YouTube's recompression (or you don't want to stream from YouTube for other reasons).
Bethesda also has their own, new video, which is just above this.
We return to the original news post, below.
At the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 event, which aligns with DreamHack Austin, id Software showed off DOOM running on Vulkan API. It will not make launch, which is this upcoming Friday, May 13th, but the game will be patched to support it “really, really shortly after launch”. Ryan was not there, but PC Gamer took video of the presentation and posted it to their YouTube.
Video Credit: PC Gamer
We don't know how performance compares with OpenGL, but the Vulkan numbers (running on the GTX 1080) are pretty impressive. After they uncapped the engine, the listed frame rate stayed above 120 FPS except in the most intense battles, at which point it had momentary drops to about 100-120 FPS. According to PC Gamer, because I didn't hear it explicitly mentioned in the video, this is all at 1080p.
That's... good... to say the least.
This also means a game that officially supports Vulkan will land at around the same time as DirectX 12. We have a few DirectX 12 titles but, while Ashes of the Singularity is a good example, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition was plagued with performance problems, and so was Quantum Break. Tomb Raider and Hitman have DirectX 12 support, too, but it doesn't signal a commanding lead for DirectX 12. It still depends upon the engines, especially Unreal Engine, CryEngine, Frostbite, and Unity, but it's another sign that Vulkan arrived on time.
DOOM Launches on Friday the 13th.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2016 - 04:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arg, nvidia, giveaway, GTX 1080
ARG, it's the bees all over again! That's right, another alternate reality game has arrived, this time from NVIDIA to celebrate their new GPU. The puzzles honour mathematicians such as Pascal, which makes sense considering NVIDIA's recent naming conventions. Try to solve the puzzles to win some serious prizes.
With the online ARG and the Dreamhack Austin-based live Tessellation Hunt now behind us, the Order of 10 is kicking into high gear! Earlier today, we began our mission promising fans, "10 Challenges. 100 Chances to Win. One of 1,000 Prizes."
Daily prizes include limited edition Order of 10 T-shirts (50 each day) and pins (50 each day). One (1) lucky winner each day will be awarded an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition card!
Each day’s puzzle solvers are also entered to win an "Elite Game Ready PC”. Key components include: Intel Core i7-5820K processor, 2x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition GPU with new SLI HB bridge, 32GB HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 (Quad Channel) memory, a VR HMD and Windows 10 Home 64-bit operating system!
For your shot at snagging a new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founder’s Edition card, or even a complete new Elite Game Ready gaming rig, make your way to OrderOf10.com and solve your way through PASCAL’s triangle of puzzles.
ELIGIBILITY: Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of:
- 50 United States and DC
- Canada (excluding Quebec)
- United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) …who are at least 18 years old or the age of majority in their respective states/jurisdictions of permanent residence, whichever is greater, as of May 10, 2016.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2016 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Civ V, sid meier
Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN got a deeper look at Civ VI than just the launch trailer and it is hard to say if this will be a good one or not. The armies will continue to be unstackable but they have created formations, allowing you to group a number of units to move together which will lessen the onerous task of moving your armies around. This may help somewhat but we shall see how they deal with terrain and path calculation. The unstackable trait will now infect cities, buildings no longer stack on top of your city but will be laid out on the map just like improvements. No longer will you be sending out workers to build farms as you have in previous games, instead they will be working on upgrades from your city menu.
Research is now not only geographically based but also reliant on certain resources or upgrades; if they are appropriate your research will go much faster. Diplomacy and the AI have also been changed. There is not enough information yet to make a call but so far the news is worrying and it seems unlikely devoted fans will move away from Civ IV and its mods.
"The game is running on a brand new suite of software, built to be far more mod-friendly than its predecessor, and as well as brand new AI systems, there are a host of new mechanics that will explore and emphasise your relationship with Civ’s greatest character: the map."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tom Clancy's The Division Gameplay Performance @ [H]ard|OCP
- Wot I Think: Stellaris @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Oculus Rift virtual reality headset @ Kitguru
- The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine details revealed @ Polygon
- The Banner Saga 2 review @ Polygon
- Disney Cancels Infinity, Ends Game Publishing Division @ Giantbomb
- Quick Look: Uncharted 4: A Thief's End @ Giantbomb
- Dishonored 2’s New Abilities Sound Promising @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 11, 2016 - 02:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: phanteks, Enthoo Pro M
Phanteks updated their Enthoo PRO M Acrylic Window Edition with three new colours. You can choose from Titanium Green, Brushed Black and Anthracite Grey.
Walnut, California, May 10th, 2016 – Phanteks today introduced the new Titanium Green and Anthracite Gray Enthoo Pro M Acrylic Edition. The new color will be available for immediate release.
The PRO M Acrylic Window Edition has a full acrylic window, front and top brushed aluminum look panels, and the innovative radiator bracket. The I/O port now resides on the side of the front panel creating a simple but elegant design without the cost.
The PRO M Acrylic Window Edition will feature a large interior to support full ATX. A innovative top radiator bracket to allow easy installation of the radiator and/or fans like the Enthoo EVOLV ATX and the EVOLV ITX.
The PRO M Acrylic Window Edition comes with the all new HDD mounting system multiple storage with the optional HDD bracket (PH-HDDKT_02).
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2016 - 01:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wifi sense, security, microsoft
Here is an update we can get behind! Windows 10 Build 14342 will no longer have WiFi Sense, that bizarre feature which Microsoft added which would pass on any of your stored WiFi passwords to your contacts as well as overriding your preferred network if one of your contacts signals was available. This caused a certain amount of alarm as you might not trust every contact you might have on Outlook.com with your WiFi password nor trust their WiFi networks. The blather about high cost and low demand is an interesting cover for changing their minds, regardless it is good to see it go. There were a couple of other updates included in this release, check them out at The Inquirer.
"We have removed the WiFi Sense feature that allows you to share WiFi networks with your contacts and to be automatically connected to networks shared by your contacts," explained Aul."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NVMdurance extends flash life tenfold @ The Register
- Nest releases open source version of Thread IoT networking protocol @ The Inquirer
- Chipzilla veteran joins IBM's OpenPOWER @ The Register
- TSMC board approves US$4.1 billion for capacity expansion @ DigiTimes
- Sales Of PCs, Laptops, Tablets Continue to Fall, Hit Lowest Point Since 2011 @ Slashdot
- Marc Benioff apologizes as Salesforce NA14 instance goes TITSUP @ The Register
- This is what a root debug backdoor in a Linux kernel looks like @ The Register
- A quarter of Windows users are using an outdated browser called Internet Explorer @ The Inquirer
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2016 - 07:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980 Ti, GTX 970, GTX 1080, geforce
The GTX 1080 announcement is starting to ripple into retailers, leading to price cuts on the previous generation, Maxwell-based SKUs. If you were interested in the GTX 1080, or an AMD graphics card of course, then you probably want to keep waiting. That said, you can take advantage of the discounts to get a VR-ready GPU or if you already have a Maxwell card that could use a cheap SLI buddy.
This tip comes from a NeoGAF thread. Microcenter has several cards on sale, but EVGA seems to have the biggest price cuts. This 980 Ti has dropped from $750 USD down to $499.99 (or $474.99 if you'll promise yourself to do that mail-in rebate). That's a whole third of its price slashed, and puts it about a hundred dollars under GTX 1080. Granted, it will also be slower than the GTX 1080, with 2GB less video RAM, but $100 might be worth that for you.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2016 - 07:29 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, geforce
After the live streamed event announcing the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, Allyn and I spent a few minutes this afternoon going over the information as it was provided, discussing our excitement about the product and coming to grips with what in the world a "Founder's Edition" even is.
If you haven't yet done so, check out Scott's summary post on the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 specs right here.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 10, 2016 - 04:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: thermalright, quiet computing, Le Grande Macho, heatsink, cpu cooler, air cooling, air cooler
Thermalright has released a very large new CPU air cooler with an equally impressive name: Le Grande Macho RT.
The Le Grande Macho RT features no fewer than 7 heat pipes from its massive heatsink, and is paired with a quiet 140 mm fan (model TY-147B) that ranges from just 300 RPM to 1300 RPM. While large it is still smaller than the company's well-respected SilverArrow dual-tower cooler, and depending on performance could offer a compelling alternative for low-noise air cooling.
Specifications from Thermalright:
Dimension: L150mm x W120mm x H159mm (Fin Area only)
L150mm x W125mm x H159mm (Heat sink incl.)
Heat pipes: 6mm heatpipe*7 units
Fin: T = 0.4 mm ; Gap = 3.1 mm
Fin Pcs: 35 pcs
Copper Base: C1100 Pure copper nickel plated
Motherboard to Fin: 36 + 8 = 44 mm 46 + 8=54 mm
Dimension: L152 mm x W140 mm x H26.5 mm
Rated Speed: 300 - 1300 RPM
Noise Level: 14 - 20dBA
Air Flow: 16.9- 73.6 CFM
Connector: 4 Pin (PWM Fan connector)
Bearing Type : FDB Bearing
The Le Grand Macho RT is listed on Amazon.com for $79.99, which places it in the same territory as the Noctua NH-D14. We'll see how it performs relative to the market once reviews start to appear.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2016 - 04:06 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: video card, reference cooler, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, graphics card, GeForce GTX 1080, Founder's Edition
The first non-reference GTX 1080 has been revealed courtesy of Galax, and the images (via VideoCardz.com) look a lot different than the Founder's Edition.
Galax GTX 1080 (Image Credit: VideoCardz)
The Galax is the first custom implementation of the GTX 1080 we've seen, and as such the first example of a $599 variant of the GTX 1080. The Founder's Edition cards carry a $100 premium (and offer that really nice industrial design) but ultimately it's about performance and the Galax card will presumably offer completely stock specifications.
(Image Credit: VideoCardz)
Expect to see a deluge of aftermarket cooling from EVGA, ASUS, MSI, and others soon enough - most of which will presumably be using a dual or triple-fan cooler, and not a simple blower like this.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2016 - 12:11 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 10, windows, vrr, variable refresh rate, uwp, microsoft, g-sync, freesync
Back in March, Microsoft's Phil Spencer addressed some of the concerns over the Unified Windows Platform and PC gaming during his keynote address at the Build Conference. He noted that MS would "plan to open up VSync off, FreeSync, and G-Sync in May" and the company would "allow modding and overlays in UWP applications" sometime further into the future. Well it appears that Microsoft is on point with the May UWP update.
According to the MS DirectX Developer Blog, a Windows 10 update being pushed out today will enable UWP to support unlocked frame rates and variable refresh rate monitors in both G-Sync and FreeSync varieties.
As a direct response to your feedback, we’re excited to announce the release today of new updates to Windows 10 that make gaming even better for game developers and gamers.
Later today, Windows 10 will be updated with two key new features:
Support for AMD’s FreesyncTM and NVIDIA’s G-SYNC™ in Universal Windows Platform games and apps
Unlocked frame rate for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games and apps
Once applications take advantage of these new features, you will be able to play your UWP games with unlocked frame rates. We expect Gears of War: UE and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex to lead the way by adding this support in the very near future.
This OS update will be gradually rolled out to all machines, but you can download it directly here.
These updates to UWP join the already great support for unlocked frame rate and AMD and NVIDIA’s technologies in Windows 10 for classic Windows (Win32) apps.
Please keep the feedback coming!
Today's update won't automatically enable these features in UWP games like Gears of War or Quantum Break, they will still need to be updated individually by the developer. MS states that Gears of War and Forza will be the first to see these changes, but there is no mention of Quantum Break here, which is a game that could DEFINITELY benefit from the love of variable refresh rate monitors.
Microsoft describes an unlocked frame rate as thus:
Vsync refers to the ability of an application to synchronize game rendering frames with the refresh rate of the monitor. When you use a game menu to “Disable vsync”, you instruct applications to render frames out of sync with the monitor refresh. Being able to render out of sync with the monitor refresh allows the game to render as fast as the graphics card is capable (unlocked frame rate), but this also means that “tearing” will occur. Tearing occurs when part of two different frames are on the screen at the same time.
I should note that these changes do not indicate that Microsoft is going to allow UWP games to go into an exclusive full screen mode - it still believes the disadvantages of that configuration outweigh the advantages. MS wants its overlays and a user's ability to easily Alt-Tab around Windows 10 to remain. Even though MS mentions screen tearing, I don't think that non-exclusive full screen applications will exhibit tearing.
Gears of War on Windows 10 is a game that could definitely use an uncapped render rate and VRR support.
Instead, what is likely occurring, as we saw with the second iteration of the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark, is that the game will have an uncapped render rate internally but that frames rendered OVER 60 FPS (or the refresh rate of the display) will not be shown. This will improve perceived latency as the game will be able to present the most up to date frame (with the most update to date input data) when the monitor is ready for a new refresh.
UPDATE 5/10/16 @ 4:31pm: Microsoft just got back to me and said that my above statement wasn't correct. Screen tearing will be able to occur in UWP games on Windows 10 after they integrate support for today's patch. Interesting!!
For G-Sync and FreeSync users, the ability to draw to the screen at any range of render rates will offer an even further advantage of uncapped frame rates, no tearing but also, no "dropped" frames caused by running at off-ratios of a standard monitor's refresh rate.
I'm glad to see Microsoft taking these steps at a brisk pace after the feedback from the PC community early in the year. As for UWP's continued evolution, the blog post does tease that we should "expect to see some exciting developments on multiple GPUs in DirectX 12 in the near future."
Subject: Motherboards | May 10, 2016 - 10:45 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99, ROG, Republic of Gamers, Intel, asus
ASUS Republic of Gamers has announced a new X99 motherboard for the upcoming Intel Core i7 X-series processors, and the ROG STRIX X99 Gaming packs a number of features into its ATX form-factor.
"ROG Strix has taken on a brand-new look and the time has come to debut the first motherboard in the ROG Strix Series. ROG Strix X99 Gaming is a new ATX motherboard based on the Intel X99 chipset, retrofitted with exclusive technologies to maximize the potential of the new Intel Core i7 X-series processor for socket LGA 2011-v3. ROG Strix X99 Gaming delivers performance you'll notice, while the bold new design featuring customizable colors highlights the centerpiece of a system others will notice"
There is certainly no shortage of features with this new gaming board, including the company's SupremeFX audio, Intel NIC, 2x2 dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support, SATA Express, M.2, and U.2 storage support, Thunderbolt 3, and a reinforced PCI-E slot for heavier GPUs. But the feature that will be the hardest to miss with the STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard has to be the customizable RGB lighting.
"ROG Strix X99 Gaming features the aesthetics for gamers looking to personalize an illuminate gaming rig. Ten LED effects can be customized using ASUS Aura, an intuitive lighting control software for the built-in RGB LEDs and attached RGB strips (via the integrated 4-pin RGB strip header like the ones you can find on the ROG Maximus VIII Formula and Hero Alpha), allowing easy custom illumination that can be perfectly synchronized across the system or even the whole gaming desk with additional RGB strips."
As is often the case with new product announcements, pricing and availabilty were not revealed.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | May 10, 2016 - 08:55 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: water cooling, radeon pro duo, radeon, pro duo, liquid cooling, graphics cards, gpu cooler, gpu, EKWB, amd
While AMD's latest dual-GPU powerhouse comes with a rather beefy-looking liquid cooling system out of the box, the team at EK Water Blocks have nonetheless created their own full-cover block for the Pro Duo, which is now available in a pair of versions.
"Radeon™ has done it again by creating the fastest gaming card in the world. Improving over the Radeon™ R9 295 X2, the Radeon Pro Duo card is faster and uses the 3rd generation GCN architecture featuring asynchronous shaders enables the latest DirectX™ 12 and Vulkan™ titles to deliver amazing 4K and VR gaming experiences. And now EK Water Blocks made sure, the owners can get the best possible liquid cooling solution for the card as well!"
Nickel version (top), Acetal+Nickel version (bottom)
The blocks include a single-slot I/O bracket, which will allow the Pro Duo to fit in many more systems (and allow even more of them to be installed per motherboard!).
"EK-FC Radeon Pro Duo water block features EK unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine with a micro fin design for best possible cooling performance of both GPU cores. The block design also allows flawless operation with reversed water flow without adversely affecting the cooling performance. Moreover, such design offers great hydraulic performance, allowing this product to be used in liquid cooling systems using weaker water pumps.
The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of quality POM Acetal or acrylic (depending on the variant). Screw-in brass standoffs are pre-installed and allow for safe installation procedure."
Suggested pricing is set at 155.95€ for the blocks (approx. $177 US), and they are "readily available for purchase through EK Webshop and Partner Reseller Network".
Subject: Motherboards | May 9, 2016 - 05:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, Z170A SLI PLUS, Intel Z170
The MSI Z170A SLI Plus is a full sized ATX board with a lot of space on it, providing not only nice clean looks but also space for air to flow around components. It is available for around $140, a decent price for the feature set it comes with. There are three x16 PCIe 3.0 slots, six SATA 6Gbps and an x4 M.2 slot which will accept U.2 with the proper adapter and a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port offering the full benefits of the new standard. The Tech Report loved the simple design of the board and were more than impressed with the manual overclocking potential; check out their full review here.
"MSI's Z170A SLI Plus is a mainstream board that gives builders everything they need and nothing they don't—at least on paper. We reviewed this board to see whether its real-world performance lives up to its promising spec sheet and relatively friendly price tag."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 @ TechARP
- MSI Z170A Tomahawk @ Kitguru
- ASRock Z170 Extreme4 @ TechARP
- Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 @ Kitguru
- GIGABYTE X99P-SLI LGA 2011v3 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2016 - 05:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, geforce
During the GeForce GTX 1080 launch event, NVIDIA announced two prices for the card. The new GPU has an MSRP of $599 USD, while a Founders Edition will be available for $699 USD. They did not really elaborate on the difference at the keynote, but they apparently clarified the product structure for the attending press.
According to GamersNexus, the “Founders Edition” is NVIDIA's new branding for their reference design, which has been updated with the GeForce GTX 1080. That is it. Normally, a reference design is pretty much bottom-tier in a product stack. Apart from AMD's water-cooling experiments, reference designs are relatively simple, single-fan blower coolers. NVIDIA's reference cooler though, at least on their top-three-or-so models of any given generation, are pretty good. They are fairly quiet, effective, and aesthetically pleasing. When searching for a specific GPU online, you will often see a half-dozen entries based on this, from various AIB partners, and another half-dozen other offerings from those same companies, which is very different. MSI does their Twin Frozr thing, while ASUS has their Direct CU and Poseidon coolers.
If you want the $599 model, then, counter to what we've been conditioned to expect, you will not be buying NVIDIA's reference cooler. These will come from AIB partners, which means that NVIDIA is (at least somewhat) allowing them to set a minimum product this time around. They expect reference cards to be intrinsically valuable, not just purchased because they rank highest on a “sort by lowest price” metric.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. It wasn't too long ago that NVIDIA finally allowed AIB vendors to customize Titan-level graphics cards. Before that, NVIDIA's reference cooler was the only option. When they released control to their partners, we started to see water cooled Titan Xs. There is two ways to look at it: either NVIDIA is relaxing their policy of controlling user experience, or they want their personal brand to be more than the cheapest offering of their part. Granted, the GTX 1080 is supposed to be their high-end, but still mainstream offering.
It's just interesting to see this decision and rationalize it both as a release of control over user experience, and, simultaneously, as an increase of it.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 9, 2016 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rosewill, Valens-700, 700W, 80 Plus Gold
Saving a bit of money on your PSU can seem like a good idea but the importance of a solid PSU is often overlooked. Rosewill has been around for quite a while but their PSU's do not tend to end up in a lot of high end rigs. [H]ard|OCP took a look at their new Valens-700 which looks good on paper with a single 12V rail, 80 PLUS Gold certification and the hope that part of the savings is due to the non-modular design. Unfortunately once it was strapped onto the test bed it failed many tests and did not receive a passing grade. Check out the full review for the specifics and recommendations on better PSU at around this price point.
"While Rosewill is likely not a go-to computer power supply brand to most people, we have been surprised with Rosewill's quality on two of its PSUs over the last couple of years. Today we review an $80 700 watt Rosewill unit that is rated for Gold efficiency, and well ... that is about all that marketing has to say about its Valens-700."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Enermax Revolution X't II 750W PSU Review @HiTech Legion
- SilverStone Strider Titanium ST70F-TI 700W @ Kitguru
- Corsair RMi Series 650 W @ techPowerUp
- EVGA 600B Entry Level Power Supply @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2016 - 02:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, crimson
This is good to see. AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.1 to align with Forza Motorsport 6: Apex. The drivers are classified as Beta, and so is the game, coincidentally, which means 16.5.1 is not WHQL-certified. That doesn't have the weight that it used to, though. Its only listed feature is performance improvements with that title, especially for the R9 Fury X graphics card. Game-specific optimizations near launch appear to be getting consistent, and that was an area that AMD really needed to improve upon, historically.
There are a handful of known issues, but they don't seem particularly concerning. The AMD Gaming Evolved overlay may crash in some titles, and The Witcher 3 may flicker in Crossfire, both of which could be annoying if they affect a game that you have been focusing on, but that's about it. There might be other issues (and improvements) that are not listed in the notes, but that's all I have to work on at the moment.
If you're interested in Forza 6: Apex, check out AMD's download page.