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.

Driving your RAM at 3.6GHz

Subject: Memory | September 22, 2015 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: Ripjaws V, G.Skill, DDR4-3600, ddr4

Bringing the frequency of your RAM up to 3600MHz certainly has an effect on price compared to DIMMs clocked at 2666MHz but does the performance justify that cost?  The timings of 17-18-18-38 @ 2T are tight for RAM of this frequency, though not as tight as 15-15-15-35 but perhaps that gives you some room for overclocking?  As shown in TechPowerUp's review it is not quite that easy, for example many Intel Z170 boards simply don't support these frequencies and updating your BIOS should be your first step before working with these DIMMs.  Synthetic benchmarks benefited from the full speed of these DIMMs but when it comes to actual gaming the results are negligible, especially considering you will be paying roughly triple the price for these DIMMs.  On the other hand if you simply need to have the best components on the market in your system you should check out the full review.


"Intel's new Skylake platform comes with DDR4 at increased memory speeds, and the first to help us investigate the benefits of high-performance DDR4 is G.Skill's latest design, the Ripjaws V. Wrapped in a new look, these ultra-fast 3600 MHz modules push the limits of your Skylake CPU."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:



Source: techPowerUp

MSI Makes Desktop Gaming Graphics Mobile with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU

Subject: Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 980M, GT72 Dominator Pro

It will cost you a pretty penny to pick up but if you are a laptop gamer the new MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is going to tempt you.  The laptop contains the mobile GTX 980 which Ryan recently covered, powerful enough to make G-SYNC run smoothly as well as offering support for sending 4K video. The actual notebook display is 1080p, sufficient for mobile gaming but you will want to invest in a serious 4K HDMI monitor to game on when you are at home. The PR is below and you can read more about the options and models straight from MSI right here.


City of Industry, Calif. – Sept 22, 2015 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, celebrates its 29th anniversary, presenting the availability of its flagship gaming notebook, the GT72 Dominator Pro, with NVIDIA’s most advanced and highest performance GPU, the GeForce GTX 980.

Designed to bring desktop gaming graphics to a notebook, NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX GPU runs all 2048 cores at full clocks and full performance, resulting in the most immersive experience available. NVIDIA’s newest GPU is also built for overclocking and virtual reality, with NVIDIA Maxwell architecture and loaded with NVIDIA GameWorks VR Technologies for blistering fast and highly responsive VR graphics. 3D Mark 11 performance, when over-clocking, is expected to reach over P14,500 points, which is as powerful as that of desktops with GTX980 graphics. MSI fans may experience smoother DirectX 12 extreme gaming effects on Windows 10 for enhanced image quality and details with 3K or even 4K resolutions.

“The combination of NVIDIA’s latest GPU and the cutting edge components inside the GT72 Dominator Pro will astound even the most serious desktop gamers,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “The GT72 Dominator has always been a mobile gaming beast, and now the beast is even more powerful.”

MSI’s refreshed GT72 Dominator Pro armed with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU is ready to shatter records with Intel’s latest Core i7 processor, up to 32 GBs of DDR4 RAM, Killer Gaming Network Connectivity, and more. In additional, it enjoys NVIDIA’s BatteryBoost technology for longer battery life, NVIDIA’s Optimus technology that optimizes notebook performance, and a vast array of other features such as G-SYNC and Surround gameplay technology.

Source: MSI

A quick overview of the iPhone 6s

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2015 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: apple, iphone 6s

For those interested The Inquirer has a quick breakdown of the specifications of the coming iPhone 6s.  At 138x67x7.1mm, it is a tiny bit thicker than the original iPhone 6 and so it also weighs slightly more at 143g.  The screen is unchanged at 4.7" with a 1334x750 resolution but it will now support 3D Touch that allows the phone to react differently depending on how much force you use while touching it. The Inquirer compares it to the Huawei Mate S's force-sensitive screen, if you have had experiences with that particular phone.  As usual Apple is not saying much about the processor but we do know it will be upgraded to an ARM A9 from the A8 present in the original.  Read on for more details right here.


"AS EXPECTED, Apple has announced that the next iPhones will be the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, updates to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Source: The Register

Who would have guessed? Microsoft's Cloud has a Linux lining

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: azure, microsoft, linux

It is a strange new world we find ourselves, where part of Microsoft's Azure infrastructure will be built on Linux.  Azure Cloud Switch will allow software-defined networking to be used on Azure for those who are brave enough to dabble in SDN.  Microsoft will be incorporating the OpenCompute developed Switch Abstraction Interface based on Linux, as The Register points out this is likely due to a lack of similar functionality in Windows software.  In this particular case Microsoft will not be reinventing the wheel but will wisely focus on improving the functionality of Azure and Azure based products such as Office 365 which they have developed in house.  The 'cloud' is a strange place and it just got a little bit stranger.

windows azure.png

"Redmond's revealed that it's built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.”"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Register

ASUS Updates Transformer Book Lineup with T100HA and TP200SA

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 11:48 AM |
Tagged: transformer book, TP200SA, T100HA, intel atom, convertible tablet, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has updated their Transformer Book lineup today with new options for both the convertible tablet and 2-in-1 laptop designs.

T100HA_3K_Gray _(12)_NC.jpg

First up we have the revised T100 model, the T100HA, which has a significant hardware update. Now featuring an Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5 Z8500 processor over the current T100TA's Bay Trail-T options, and the T100HA also features 4GB of memory standard.

T100HA_3K_Gray _(11).jpg

Here's a look at the full specs from ASUS:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom 'Cherry Trail' x5 Z8500 (up to 2.24 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 10.1in WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Tablet I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps), 1x Micro USB port, 1x Micro HDMI, 1x Micro SD card slot, 1x headphone/mic combo jack
  • Keyboard dock I/O: 1x USB 2.0
  • Cameras: 2MP front / 5MP back
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Size: (Tablet) 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.33 inches; (Keyboard Dock) 
  • 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.28~0.39 inches
  • Weight: (Pad only) 1.28 lbs; (Keyboard dock) 1.04 lbs

Next up we have the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA, an 11.6-inch  2-in-1 design with an Intel Celeron N3050 (Braswell) processor.

TP200SA_3G_Crystal Silver_(15).jpg

Here are specs for the TP200SA:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Celeron 'Braswell' N3050 (up to 2.16 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 11.6in WXGA (1366 x 768) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Micro 
  • HDMI, 1x Micro SD, 1x headphone/mic combo
  • Camera: VGA front
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Color: Dark Blue
  • Size: 11.69 x 7.93 x 0.73 inches
  • Weight: 2.65 lbs

These new Transformer Book models are set for a late September availability with pricing at $299 for the T100HA and $349 for the TP200SA.

Source: ASUS

Samsung Launches 950 PRO - 300,000 IOPS and 2.5 GB/sec from a M.2 V-NAND SSD!

Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: vnand, V-NAND, ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2 2280, M.2, 950 PRO, 512GB, 256GB

I’ve been waiting a long time for Samsung to put their V-NAND flash memory into a PCIe connected SSD, and such a product has just been officially announced at the Samsung SSD Global Summit.


Samsung’s new product launching will be called the 950 PRO. This will be an M.2 2280 form factor product running at PCIe 3.0 x4. Equipped with Samsung’s 32-layer V-NAND and using the NVMe protocol enabled by a new UBX controller, the 950 PRO will be capable of up to an impressive 300,000 random read IOPS. Random writes come in at 110,000 IOPS and sequential throughputs are expected to be 2.5 GB/sec reads and 1.5 GB/sec for writes. Available capacities will be 256GB and 512GB.




The 950 PRO will be shipping with a 5-year warranty rated at 200 terabytes written for the 256GB model and 400 TBW for the 512GB. That works out to just over 100GB per day for both capacities.

These hit retail in October and we currently have samples in hand for testing.


(for those curious, both capacities only have components on the front side of the PCB)

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Samsung

Good Morning (Night) From Seoul! New Samsung SSDs Are Coming!

Subject: Storage | September 21, 2015 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: vnand, Summit, ssd, Seoul, Samsung, M.2, Korea, Global, 2015

As I hinted during last week's podcast, I am in Seoul, Korea to cover an upcoming press conference.


To those keen readers who have followed my previous trips here, it can only mean one thing -


..and with a Samsung SSD Global Summit comes product announcements. Those don't happen until tomorrow (late tonight for you folks back in the states), but I did notice a clue on the cover of our itinerary folder:


See it? Here, let me help:



A VNAND powered M.2 (presumably NVMe) SSD is *exactly* the thing I have been waiting for Samsung to unleash into the wild ever since we reviewed their NVMe SM951. Given that Samsung's prior M.2 offerings gave the Intel SSD 750 a run for its money all while consuming half the power, and did so with Samsung's older 2D Planar NAND, you can bet a VNAND version will be something to behold. Let's hope this new model is released as a consumer product and doesn't end up as OEM-channel unobtanium like the NVMe SM951 was!

Keep an eye out for additional posts from our coverage of the 2015 Samsung SSD Global Summit!

Happy Sesquimillenial Linux Game, Valve and Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2015 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: linux, pc gaming, steam

While the number of games doesn't exactly mean much in isolation, a large amount of them have been making their way to Linux recently. Valve's first-party library is an obvious addition, as they have been jaded with Windows since 8.x scared just about anyone interested in back catalog support with their “Desktop as an App” attempts to isolate the Win32 APIs. Other developers have been following suit, especially since engines are being designed cross-platform as of late.


Milestones can be interesting, though. In this case, Steam crossed the 1,500 mark in games for Linux that are hosted on its service. Some equate this to “there exists 1500 games for Linux”, which isn't quite right, but the distribution platform is definitely a behemoth in the industry. It is the default way to purchase many new titles, and is a Linux host for ARK: Survival Evolved and Shadow of Mordor.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who listed what the 1500th title was. Sorry!

Source: Phoronix

Microsoft Created a Private Linux Distro. Laugh It Up.

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, linux

Azure Cloud Switch is an operating system, which is based on Linux, that Microsoft has created for their data centers. This software will be installed on their network appliances, such as switches, to let them control the features that their data centers require. It also helps them interface hardware together, since they now control the software stack regardless of hardware vendor.


This is naturally making tech websites doodle on their calendars as the company uses Windows for just about everything. While basing a portion of their infrastructure in Linux is a sign that Microsoft is embracing open source, this is not the first time. Back in 2003, which is not a Linux-friendly year for the company, Microsoft used Linux-based infrastructure from Akamai to provide DDoS and malware protection. It worked. They have even been attributed as a top contributor to the Linux kernel in the past.

The OS is internal to Microsoft, but it is in affiliation with the Open Compute Project. I'm not sure if we will ever see the OS or its full source publicly.

Source: Microsoft

September Update of Xbox App for Windows 10 Released

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, xbox, pc gaming

The Xbox App for Windows 10 was touted as a major feature before launch, but you barely hear about it after. I will occasionally get a notification that I can record game footage, or a little pop-up after pressing the center button of my 360 controller. Other than that, I barely notice that it exists. A lot of the functionality is useful to manage their Xbox One or Xbox Live Gamertag (do they even call it that anymore?) but PC gamers barely have a reason to open it. Granted, I expect Microsoft hopes that will change after enough Xbox-aware games for Windows 10 hit market. It's early days.


Some currently use it though, and it has just received an update for them. Version 9.9.16003.00000 has added four new features, two of which implement automatic updates for friends and their activity feeds. The button to refresh is still present, which is always nice in case something goes wrong, but it shouldn't need to be pressed as the app should be pulling notifications from Microsoft's servers on its own.

The other two features are more interesting.

The Xbox App now supports “Console text entry”. This feature allows Xbox One users to type into the console's search boxes “and more” using Windows 10 devices, and, more importantly, their keyboards or keypads. A chat pad is being launched for the console soon, which plugs into the controller to give it a QWERTY keyboard, but supporting laptops is definitely nice.

The last feature is “Game progress comparison”. In the Achievements panel, you are able to click on the “compare” button to line up your achievement history next to your friends. As it turns out, Ryan has a higher score than me in Halo 3. That just won't do.

Microsoft has also announced that they will be providing a Beta app in the future, which will arrive later this month. You can pick it up from the Windows Store when it becomes available, if you want.

Source: Microsoft

Cooler Master Launches QuickFire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, quickfire xti, mechanical keyboard

Once again, a mechanical keyboard with 104-key rollover claims to have 100% anti-ghosting, because that is expected from a marketing perspective. Once you have a key matrix that has each key isolated, which 104-key rollover strongly suggests, then ghosting cannot occur so “anti-ghosting” is meaningless. Unfortunately, keyboard companies are still compelled to advertise the feature on the box, but I hope our readers understand the difference.


Regardless, Cooler Master has launched the QuickFire XTi mechanical keyboard. It uses official Cherry MX switches, but not the Cherry MX RGB switches that were once exclusive to Corsair. Instead of 16 million colors in the typical human spectrum, it allows for 35 colors on the red-blue spectrum. This could be a problem for people who want yellow, white, or green keys, but acceptable if you'll keep it at colors in the range of red, blue, or magenta. I'm not particularly sure why they cut so much of the spectrum away, but it clearly made sense to them. The lighting can be animated, though.

Cooler Master is proud of their cable management, though. The cable is detachable with a micro USB head and braided. They also have a few different ways of routing the wire under the keyboard, allowing the cable to come out on the side that makes the most sense for your desk, which is particularly good for lefties.

The Cooler Master QuickFire XTi is available now for $150 USD. I've found it on Amazon for $123.86, though.

Cooler Master Launches V Series PSUs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 19, 2015 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, PSU

Cooler Master has "announced the availability of" six power supplies in their “V” series. They are high efficiency products that are fully modular with flat cables for routing. They each use “100% high quality Japanese capacitors” and introduce “exclusive 3D Circuit Design”. Models are available in 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, 1000W, and 1200W. The highest-end one was announced a while ago, back in 2014, but the line is now available and larger.


The V550, V650, V750, V850, and V1000 each carry an 80PLUS Gold certification for efficiency, while the V1200 is rated at 80PLUS Platinum. Cooler Master claims that their 3D technology, which uses full, separate circuit boards to distance noisy circuits from each other, provides three benefits. First, it reduces heat and improves heat dissipation. Second, it reduces inefficiency that could be introduced by signal noise, which sounds a bit weird for direct current but makes a bit of sense. Third, the reduced ripple and noise can lower long-term stress on the capacitors, which definitely does make sense to me.

Five of the six power supplies come with five-year warranties (the 1200W has a seven-year one). They are available now and range from around 90$ USD to around 300$ USD. The V1200 is currently 30$ off at 270$ USD on Amazon.