White Quantum Dots are bright

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2014 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: quantum dots, WLED, carbon dots

Researchers may have found a less toxic alternative to using quantum dots in displays, the so called carbon dot which is a semiconductor that generate a rather cold light, in that they do not emit much yellow or red wavelengths.  Previously the CDs were used as the white light which shone through QDs but they contain cadmium or lead which tends to be strictly controlled when used in consumer goods.  Nanotechweb is reporting on the successful results of teams which are using cadmium free zinc copper indium sulphide core/shell QDs to produce displays with a significantly higher colour-rendering index than currently available LEDs are capable of, so we may still be on track for better displays in the next few years.

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"By combining carbon dots that emit blue light and zinc copper indium sulphide quantum dots that emit in the green and red regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, researchers in China and the US have succeeded in making white light-emitting diodes with a high colour-rendering index of 93."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

If you like your gaming keyboards with light and sound ...

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: input, rosewill, RGB80, mechanical keyboard, Kailh

The Rosewill RGB80 is very much a gaming keyboard, the extras like USB pass through have been eliminated as has the numpad.  It also features N-key rollover which can be toggled with a key combo if your computer has difficulty detecting the keyboard.  One unique feature are the switches which are made by Kailh as opposed to Cherry, the switches are similar to Cherry MX Blue with a bump and click when you depress a key, perhaps not the best for typing but perfect for gaming.  In addition to the PC mode there are five available gaming profiles which you can use to store macros and LED colour settings as this keyboard currently supports 228 colour choices with updated software due in the future to vastly increase that spectrum.  Head over to The Tech Report to see more on this brilliant mechanical keyboard.

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"Rosewill's RGB80 is one of the first mechanical keyboards with RGB LED backlighting, which can produce a dizzying array of colors. We've taken it through its paces."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Trying to repair the reputation of low cost tablets; the ASUS MeMO Pad 7

Subject: Mobile | July 14, 2014 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: memo pad 7, memopad, asus, Android 4.4.2

The ASUS MeMO Pad 7 has a 7" 1280x800 IPS display, a BayTrail Atom Z3745 Quad-Core that can run up to 1.86GHz, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with support for SD cards up to 32GB.  All in all this seems like the stats you would expect from a $150 tablet, but the challenge is to be usable enough to not be returned.  Legit Reviews tested out this tablet and were impressed by the graphics performance of the new Atom but were disappointed by the WiFi speeds which were significantly slower than their preferred tablet, the ~$200 Nexus 7.

You can also check out Ryan's review from June.

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"Budget friendly Android tablets are a dime a dozen these days, but they all aren’t created equally and there are some very bad tablets out there. When you get into the sub $150 tablet market you need to be very careful with what tablet you go with as companies start cutting costs by reducing the hardware specifications and that can lead to subpar performance and an overall bad user experience. If you’ve ever purchased an inexpensive tablet thinking that they were all the same, you usually find out in under three minutes that you screwed up and will be running to return it."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Take Your Best BF4 Battlefest Battleshots and Win!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: giveaway, gaming, ea, dice, battlefield 4, amd

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For the next month, until August 12th, Battlefield.com, AMD and Sapphire will be giving away video cards, DICE giftcards and BF4 Premium memberships to the best screenshots submitted to their blog.

This week:

Daily Prize Package: An AMD Sapphire graphics card, a $50 DICE online store gift code, and a BF4 Premium membership code on your platform of choice.

  • Saturday, July 12 – EXPLOSIONS
  • Sunday, July 13 – HELICOPTERS
  • Monday, July 14 – VISTAS
  • Tuesday, July 15 – INFANTRY
  • Wednesday, July 16 – TEAM PLAY
  • Thursday, July 17 – NAVAL
  • Friday, July 18 – PARACHUTES

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Why not team up with the Fragging Frogs to play BF4 and work together to make the best screenshot submissions you can?

A second helping of Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 10:29 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi B+, DIY

Tinkerers and developers received a nice gift today, an updated Raspberry Pi B+ which adds extra I/O to the existing platform which will allow you more functionality without needed to relearn how to program it.  The Broadcom BC2835 SoC is still present and still overclockable along with the 512MB of onboard RAM and most important the $35 price tag remains.  What has change is the number of USB ports which have double to four, a click in MicroSD port and an increase in the GPIO header to 40 pin, though it remains backwards compatible with 26 pin by plugging in on the left hand side which means you have not lost the work you put into the previous Pi.  Check out the introductory video at The Inquirer and feast your eyes on the new board layout below.

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"Although it's not touted as Raspberry Pi Two, but rather "the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi", the firm has tailored the Model B+ to include all of the additions that Raspberry Pi users have requested."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Raptr's Top Twenty Games of June 2014

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2014 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: raptr

There have been significant changes in the Top 20 list of most played PC games for June. Raptr, the service for PC gamers to update drivers, stream gameplay, and tune settings, records the number of hours played for each game, compiling it into a monthly list. While not sales figures, it does suggest how popular one game is compared to another -- at least if you want to factor in hours played, not just the number of players.

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By far the most funny increase is Battlefield 3. This month, due to EA's Origin "On the House" program, the three-year-old shooter jumped thirty places, from 42nd to 12th. At the same time, Battlefield 4 dropped three places, from 7th to 10th, leaving it with just a 0.04% lead over its previous version. Jokes aside, this probably means that EA has a significant, untapped user base who would be interested in the Battlefield franchise.

Watch Dogs jumped eleven places, from 19th to 8th, which might sound surprising but was actually predicted by Raptr. The bigger surprise is how high it was in the last ranking, being that it launched on May 27th. That was a lot of usage for just a handful of days, almost as much as Team Fortress 2 had for the entire month.

Of course, League of Legends is still in first place, over doubling the game time of DOTA2.

Source: Raptr

Release the all new Kraken X61

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 11, 2014 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: Kraken X61, nzxt, AIO, water cooling

NZXT's new Kraken X61 has a new trick up its sleeving, a variable speed pump for those who want as quiet a cooler as possible. [H]ard|OCP found that the design was so efficient and quiet that they really didn't need that feature but for those with sensitive ears it might be a perfect solution.  The performance was on par with many of the other AIO coolers they have tested however the price was higher at ~$140 which may be a deal breaker for some.  The other possible barrier for potential purchasers is the lack of documentation for both the physical installation and the software; experienced users will not be daunted by this but those who are not comfortable with muddling around in advanced settings and mounting coolers may want to print out the online docs before attempting to use the X61.

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"NZXT is known to many enthusiasts for its computer cases but not so much for its Kraken series of CPU closed loop liquid coolers. After a year of design NZXT has introduced its new Kraken X61. Its claim to fame is that it is the "world's first variable speed liquid cooler." Let's see what this variable RPM pump does for the new Kraken."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The Third x86-based SoC Player: VIA & Centaur's Isaiah II

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 11, 2014 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, isaiah II, Intel, centaur, arm, amd

There might be a third, x86-compatible processor manufacturer who is looking at the mobile market. Intel has been trying to make headway, including the direct development of Android for the x86 architecture. The company also has a few design wins, mostly with Windows 8.1-based tablets but also the occasional Android-based models. Google is rumored to be preparing the "Nexus 8" tablet with one of Intel's Moorefield SoCs. AMD, the second-largest x86 processor manufacturer, is aiming their Mullins platform at tablets and two-in-ones, but cannot afford to play snowplow, at least not like Intel.

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VIA, through their Centaur Technology division, is expected to announce their own x86-based SoC, too. Called Isaiah II, it is rumored to be a quad core, 64-bit processor with a maximum clock rate of 2.0 GHz. Its GPU is currently unknown. VIA sold their stake S3 Graphics to HTC back in 2011, who then became majority shareholder over the GPU company. That said, HTC and VIA are very close companies. The chairwoman of HTC is the founder of VIA Technologies. The current President and CEO of VIA, who has been in that position since 1992, is her husband. I expect that the GPU architecture will be provided by S3, or will somehow be based on their technology. I could be wrong. Both companies will obviously do what they think is best.

It would make sense, though, especially if it benefits HTC with cheap but effective SoCs for Android and "full" Windows (not Windows RT) devices.

Or this announcement could be larger than it would appear. Three years ago, VIA filed for a patent which described a processor that can read both x86 and ARM machine language and translate it into its own, internal microinstructions. The Centaur Isaiah II could reasonably be based on that technology. If so, this processor would be able to support either version of Android. Or, after Intel built up the Android x86 code base, maybe they shelved that initiative (or just got that patent for legal reasons).

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But what about Intel? Honestly, I see this being a benefit for the behemoth. Extra x86-based vendors will probably grow the overall market share, compared to ARM, by helping with software support. Even if it is compatible with both ARM and x86, what Intel needs right now is software. They can only write so much of it themselves. It is possible that VIA, being the original netbook processor, could disrupt the PC market with both x86 and ARM compatibility, but I doubt it.

Centaur Technology, the relevant division of VIA, will make their announcement in less than 51 days.

Source: 3d Center

HSA on Linux

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2014 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: linux, hsa, amd, open source

Open source HSA has arrived for the Linux kernel with a newly released set of patches which will allow Sea Islands and newer GPUs to share hardware resources.   These patches are both for a sample driver for any HSA-compatible hardware and the river for Radeon GPUs.  As the debut of the Linux 3.16 kernel is so close you shouldn't expect to see these patches included until 3.17 which should be released in the not too distant future.  Phoronix and Linux users everywhere give a big shout of thanks to AMD's John Bridgman for his work on this project.

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"AMD has just published a massive patch-set for the Linux kernel that finally implements a HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) in open-source. The set of 83 patches implement a Linux HSA driver for Radeon family GPUs and serves too as a sample driver for other HSA-compatible devices. This big driver in part is what well known Phoronix contributor John Bridgman has been working on at AMD."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

The PC is still not dead

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2014 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: market share, desktop pc

There has been a 2 year slump in PC sales due to a number of reasons, from a lack of attractive system upgrades to the increasing capabilities of mobile devices but according to Gartner this is coming to an end.  While Acer and the smaller brands and no-name systems continue to see sales declines the major players such as Lenovo HP, Dell, and Asus have all seen increases in the amount of systems they have sold in this past quarter.  The Register quotes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa in their article, "... we expect to see slow, but consistent, PC growth" as emerging markets augment their low cost tablets with purchases of full PCs. 

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"By Gartner's estimates, worldwide PC shipments were essentially flat for the second quarter of 2014, growing just 0.1 per cent when compared to the same period a year ago. But even that is encouraging, the analyst firm points out, because shipments have declined for the last eight consecutive quarters."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #308 - Intel and Mantle, XSPC Watercooling Kits, Quantum Dots, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2014 - 10:17 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, Mantle, amd, nvidia, XSPC, quantum dots, western digital, My Cloud Mirror, A10-7850K, Kaveri, arm, quakecon

PC Perspective Podcast #308 - 07/10/2014

Join us this week as we discuss Intel using Mantle, XSPC Watercooling Kits, Quantum Dots, and more!

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

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

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

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:25:47

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

 

Fully Enabling the A10-7850K while Utilizing a Standalone GPU

Subject: Processors | July 9, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, Luxmark, Lightning, hsa, GTX 580, GCN, APU, amd, A88X, A10-7850K

When I first read many of the initial AMD A10 7850K reviews, my primary question was how would the APU act if there was a different GPU installed on the system and did not utilize the CrossFire X functionality that AMD talked about.  Typically when a user installs a standalone graphics card on the AMD FM2/FM2+ platform, they disable the graphics portion of the APU.  They also have to uninstall the AMD Catalyst driver suite.  So this then leaves the APU as a CPU only, and all of that graphics silicon is left silent and dark.

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Who in their right mind would pair a high end graphics card with the A10-7850K? This guy!

Does this need to be the case?  Absolutely not!  The GCN based graphics unit on the latest Kaveri APUs is pretty powerful when used in GPGPU/OpenCL applications.  The 4 cores/2 modules and 8 GCN cores can push out around 856 GFlops when fully utilized.  We also must consider that the APU is the first fully compliant HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) chip, and it handles memory accesses much more efficiently than standalone GPUs.  The shared memory space with the CPU gets rid of a lot of the workarounds typically needed for GPGPU type applications.  It makes sense that users would want to leverage the performance potential of a fully functioning APU while upgrading their overall graphics performance with a higher end standalone GPU.

To get this to work is very simple.  Assuming that the user has been using the APU as their primary graphics controller, they should update to the latest Catalyst drivers.  If the user is going to use an AMD card, then it would behoove them to totally uninstall the Catalyst driver and re-install only after the new card is installed.  After this is completed restart the machine, go into the UEFI, and change the primary video boot device to PEG (PCI-Express Graphics) from the integrated unit.  Save the setting and shut down the machine.  Insert the new video card and attach the monitor cable(s) to it.  Boot the machine and either re-install the Catalyst suite if an AMD card is used, or install the latest NVIDIA drivers if that is the graphics choice.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 allow users to install multiple graphics drivers from different vendors.  In my case I utilized a last generation GTX 580 (the MSI N580GTX Lightning) along with the AMD A10 7850K.  These products coexist happily together on the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming motherboard.  The monitor is attached to the NVIDIA card and all games are routed through that since it is the primary graphics adapter.  Performance seems unaffected with both drivers active.

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I find it interesting that the GPU portion of the APU is named "Spectre".  Who owns those 3dfx trademarks anymore?

When I load up Luxmark I see three entries: the APU (CPU and GPU portions), the GPU portion of the APU, and then the GTX 580.  Luxmark defaults to the GPUs.  We see these GPUs listed as “Spectre”, which is the GCN portion of the APU, and the NVIDIA GTX 580.  Spectre supports OpenCL 1.2 while the GTX 580 is an OpenCL 1.1 compliant part.

With both GPUs active I can successfully run the Luxmark “Sala” test.  The two units perform better together than when they are run separately.  Adding in the CPU does increase the score, but not by very much (my guess here is that the APU is going to be very memory bandwidth bound in such a situation).  Below we can see the results of the different units separate and together.

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These results make me hopeful about the potential of AMD’s latest APU.  It can run side by side with a standalone card, and applications can leverage the performance of this unit.  Now all we need is more HSA aware software.  More time and more testing is needed for setups such as this, and we need to see if HSA enabled software really does see a boost from using the GPU portion of the APU as compared to a pure CPU piece of software or code that will run on the standalone GPU.

Personally I find the idea of a heterogeneous solution such as this appealing.  The standalone graphics card handles the actual graphics portions, the CPU handles that code, and the HSA software can then fully utilize the graphics portion of the APU in a very efficient manner.  Unfortunately, we do not have hard numbers on the handful of HSA aware applications out there, especially when used in conjunction with standalone graphics.  We know in theory that this can work (and should work), but until developers get out there and really optimize their code for such a solution, we simply do not know if having an APU will really net the user big gains as compared to something like the i7 4770 or 4790 running pure x86 code.

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In the meantime, at least we know that these products work together without issue.  The mixed mode OpenCL results make a nice case for improving overall performance in such a system.  I would imagine with more time and more effort from developers, we could see some really interesting implementations that will fully utilize a system such as this one.  Until then, happy experimenting!

Source: AMD

Win a BYOC Seat at Quakecon 2014!

Subject: Shows and Expos | July 9, 2014 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: workshop, quakecon, contest, byoc

Are you interested in attending Quakecon 2014 next weekend in Dallas, TX but just can't swing the BYOC spot? Well, thanks to our friends at Quakecon and at PC Part Picker, we have two BYOC spots up for grabs for fans of PC Perspective!

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While we are excited to be hosting our PC Perspective Hardware Workshop with thousands of dollars in giveaways to pass out on Saturday the 19th, I know that the big draw is the chance to spend Thursday, Friday and Saturday at North America's largest LAN Party.

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The giveaway is simple. 

  1. Fill out the form below with your name and email address.
     
  2. Make sure you are able and willing to attend Quakecon from July 17th - July 20th. There is no point in winning a free BYOC spot that you cannot use!
     
  3. We'll pick a winner on Friday, July 11th so you'll have enough time to make plans.

There you have it. Get it to it guys and we'll see you in Dallas!

Coming soon to a PC near you; the Skywind Public Beta Test

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2014 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: skywind, skyrim, morrowind, gaming, elder scrolls, !console

It has been a long time coming and unfortunately it isn't quite here yet but sometime in the not too distant future Skywind will be opened up to the public for testing.  If you do not own Skyrm then you probably have no interest in this mod but you may need to ensure you have a copy of Morrowind, including both Tribunal and Bloodmoon addons.   You will need both games installed as well as the soon to be released assets from TESRenewal.com to try out Skywind for yourself.  If your head is about to explode from the excitement and anticipation you probably shouldn't watch the video below nor read more about it at the equally excited Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

In the mean time you can distract yourself by chatting with the Fragging Frogs in the Forum and get some gaming done to burn off some of that nervous energy.

"Skywind, the total rebuild of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in Skyrim’s engine, continues to play sweet melodies on my heart strings. They’re nostalgic tunes that lull me like the most charming of snake charmers. There’s a new trailer out, and I can practically feel the Balmoran cliff racers pecking at my back, making me invent new deities just so I can use their names as curse words."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Quantum dots may be screening on your mobile by 2020

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2014 - 10:38 AM |
Tagged: cellphone, lcd, quantum dots

Research into using quantum dots in LCDs has been ongoing and several breakthroughs at research laboratories have proven that they can provide much a much wider and more accurate colour spectrum than conventional backlit LCDs.  The size of the dot effects the colour, with larger dots fluoresce red, mid-sized dots green and the smallest blue, emulating the familiar spectrum of pixels at a lower energy cost and greater accuracy.  DigiTimes is reporting on the predictions of DisplaySearch which feel that quantum dots will be the next step forward for LCD technology and could represent up to a quarter of the smartphone display market by 2020. 

The technology to incorporate quantum dots into displays is currently available but there are several hurdles which need to be overcome before you can expect to see them in your next mobile device.  First and foremost is the price of manufacturing, as with any new process the first generations are quite expensive to manufacture, even if it is ways to molecularly seed a panel with a tailored particles to produce quantum dots succeeds in large quantities.  Current mass production relies mostly on heavy metals such as Cadmium which are strictly regulated when used in commercial products and would likely not be approved for use in the production of mobile phones in the amounts currently required.  It won't happen in the next few generations of phones but keep your eyes peeled for greatly enhanced LCD panels by the end of the decade.

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"The firm said that the penetration of quantum dots in smartphone TFT LCDs will be 3% in 2015, growing to 26% in 2020. Penetration in tablets will also be relatively high, with nearly 2% penetration in 2015, growing to 15% in 2020. The quantum dot penetration in LCD TVs is expected to be lower, due to the large area of TV displays. DisplaySearch forecasts that less than 1% of LCD TV screens will use quantum dots in 2015, growing to 9% in 2020."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Celeron II: The Second Coming

Subject: Processors | July 8, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: intel atom, Pentium G3258, overclocking

Technically it is an Anniversary Edition Pentium processor but it reminds those of us who have been in the game a long time of the old Celeron D's which cost very little and overclocked like mad!  The Pentium G3258 is well under $100 but the stock speed of 3.2GHz is only a recommendation as this processor is just begging to be overclocked.  The Tech Report coaxed it up to 4.8GHz on air cooling, 100MHz higher than the i7-4790K they tested.  A processor that costs about 20% of the price of the 4790K can almost meet its performance in Crysis 3 without resorting to even high end watercooling should make any gamer on a budget sit up an take notice.  Sure you lose the extra cores and other features of the flagship processor but if you are primarily a gamer these are not your focus, you simply want the fastest processor you can get at a reasonable amount of money.  Stay tuned for more information about the Anniversary Edition Pentium as there are more benchmarks to be run!

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"This new Pentium is an unlocked dual-core CPU based on the latest 22-nm Haswell silicon. I ran out and picked one up as soon as they went on sale last week. The list price is only 72 bucks, but Micro Center had them on sale for $60. In other words, you can get a processor that will quite possibly run at clock speeds north of 4GHz—with all the per-clock throughput of Intel's very latest CPU core—for the price of a new Call of Shooty game.

Also, ours overclocks like a Swiss watchmaker on meth."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Antec's TruePower 750W offers good performance at a good price

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 8, 2014 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: PSU, antec, 750w, 80 Plus Gold, TruePower Classic

[H]ard|OCP reviewed the highest powered model of the new TruePower Classic lineup, the 750W non-modular 80 Plus Gold rated PSU which has a lot of advertising hype to live up to.  Inside it is a highly modified Seasonic G-Series with quality capacitors, though the fan is only of middling quality.  This PSU did pass every test that was thrown at it bit did not quite provide the same high performance as other PSUs [H] tested that used the same design.  On the other hand at $103 it does not cost as much either making it a good example of compromise between extreme performance and extreme cost.

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"Antec comes to us today with a mid-level 750 watt enthusiast computer power supply that touts Gold efficiency. This PSU is somewhat light on marketing and heavy on features such as Japanese capacitors, "unprecedented tight voltage regulation," and low ripple and noise to "maximize your system's performance."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Panasonic ARMs will be fabbed at Intel

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2014 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Panasonic, Intel, arm

Intel has been fabbing ARM chips for Altera since the end of last year after their unprecedented move of allowing non-Intel designs into their fabs.  This decision allowed Intel to increase the percentage of time the fabs were active, as they are no longer able to keep them at full capacity with their own chips and have even mothballed the new Fab 42 in Arizona.  Altera is a good customer, as are Tabula, Netronome and Microsemi but together they are still not enough to bring Intel's capacity close to 100%.  The Register has reported on a new contract with the ink still wet from signing; Panasonic will now be using Intel's Fabs for their ARM based SoCs.   The immense size of Panasonic should keep Intel busy and ensure that they continue to make mountains of money licensing their 14nm-process tri-Gate transistors as well as the Fab time.

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"Intel has notched up another customer for its fledgling Foundry business as it tries to make money out of its manufacturing and engineering expertise besides x86 processor sales.

The world's most valuable chip manufacturer said on Monday that Panasonic's audio-visual gear will make future system-on-chips (SoCs) in Intel's factories."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer should not be judged by looks alone

Subject: Motherboards | July 7, 2014 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Fatal1ty Z97 Killer, budget

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer can be yours for $135, much less than many previous motherboards bearing that famous name and [H]ard|OCP has a good idea why after reviewing the board.  The build quality of the board is rather cheap, as in the PCB is "as straight as undercooked bacon and feels more prone to breakage than the crispiest strips of bacon" and there was also mention of blood spilled.  However you should not judge the board by its cover as [H] soon found out, 8 phase power and sold caps provided a solid performance experience with no problems installing the OS or during their benchmarking process.  Their i7-4770K hit 4.7GHz with almost no effort whatsoever and can be coaxed higher if you have the time and skill.  This mix of low price, cheap build and stellar performance for a budget board earned this Killer a Gold Award and a place on the short list for economical enthusiasts.

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"The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer offers very little frills and boasts tons of performance at a very low cost. ASRock with us has been hit and miss in the past in terms of reviews. This $125 has all the features though that are needed to get you overclocking though. We put the ASRock Z97 Killer Fatal1ty to the test."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Breaking News: League of Legends Is Hard. "Intro Bots" Soon.

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2014 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: riot games, moba, lol, free to play

MOBAs are known to be intricate, unforgiving PC games. League of Legends is one of the most popular at the moment (#1 PC game in terms of hours played for May 2014 according to Raptr). It is free to install and play, with small purchases to unlock more content ("microtransaction"). The free-to-play business model is quite interesting, albeit polarizing, because your commitment starts when your users installs your title, not ends. This often leads to one of two outcomes: abusers of human psychology or constantly developed, great games that strive to never get boring.

Now you can see why it is polarizing (or just read our impending comments).

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The business model does permit games that are deep in gameplay mechanics, however, if it keeps a core user base playing (and buying additional content) forever. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult for new players to join -- especially when it is competitive and multiplayer.

Riot Games noted that they were uncomfortable with how many of their players lose "Battle Training", which is supposed to be a tutorial. Some even prove to have significant skill later on. They interpret this as the problem being how they educate new players. There is high complexity that is fair, and then there is just bad user experience.

"Intro Bots" is designed to be a mode which adjusts its difficulty to match the player currently, and as they progress. Hopefully it works. Obviously that is the limiting factor. It does seem to be designed reasonably. It teaches with repetition and in realistic scenarios.

Intro Bots is coming soon, after a brief stop in public beta. Ironically, the public beta realm was refered to as "PBE"... in a press release for a feature intended to be easier for new players. You know, the people who might not know the game's vocabulary. Just saying.

Source: Riot Games