Dell resolves to have the most pixels ever; meet 5120 x 2880 aka 5K

Subject: Displays | September 4, 2014 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: dell, 5120 x 2880, 5k, UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K

That's right, Dell is releasing the Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor with a resolution of 5120 x 2880 for a mere $2500 just in time for Christmas.  That is just under 6.5 million more pixels than 4k which is an impressive jump and should look very interesting on a 27" display!

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While we may not have TV content to justify this resolution gamers with extreme GPUs should be able to take advantage of it as soon as it is released. You will probably be able to turn your anti-aliasing settings down with pixels that small.  It will also have 16W integrated Harmon Kardon speakers and quite likely a few USB ports.  Surround setups are going to need every PCIe lane you can toss at it though, good thing those 295X2's are on sale right now!  They've also added some information about their 4K displays here.

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Source: Dell

ASUS' white knight for Haswell processors

Subject: Motherboards | September 4, 2014 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: X99 Deluxe, X99, Haswell-E, asus

You can immediately spot the ASUS X99 Deluxe thanks to the unique white heatsink and shielding around the audio and peripheral ports but there is more to this board than just its looks.  The board is well laid out but due to the amount of features included there is a bit of crowding but you can still fit two triple-wide graphics cards or three double-wide on the board if you have a 40 lane PCIe CPU.  They have also come up with a different orientation for M.2 SSDs, which will sit vertically in a bracket freeing up space and getting them away from major sources of heat which could provide performance benefits.  To get the full list of features you will need to read through The Tech Reports full review right here.  Of course, that assumes you are already completely familiar with Morry's review.

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"Haswell-E is finally here, and so is a new wave of motherboards based on its X99 companion chip. We've spent some quality time with Asus' X99 Deluxe, which combines all the goodness baked into the platform with a luxurious array of additional features."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

You've probably noticed Intel launched a new family of chips

Subject: Processors | September 4, 2014 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, haswell, ddr4, core i7, 5960X

[H]ard|OCP reviewed Intel's brand new Extreme processor, the Haswell-E i7-5960X as weill as posting a large amount of Intel's launch slides detailing the new features present in this series of CPU.  As you can see from the picture they used the same funky white ASUS motherboard which Ryan used in his review but chose a Koolance EX2-755 watercooler as opposed to the Corsair H100i which allowed them to hit 4.5GHz with 1.301v CPU core voltage, slightly lower than Ryan managed.  In the end, while extremely impressed by the CPU they saw little benefits to gaming and recommend this CPU to those who spend most of their time encoding video, manipulating huge images and of course those who just want the best CPU on the planet.

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"There are many members of the "1366 X58 Enthusiast Overclockers Club" that have been waiting with bated breath for Intel's launch of the new X99 Express Chipset and new family of Core i7 Haswell-E processors. All this new hardware comes bundled with brand new DDR4 RAM technology packing huge bandwidth as well."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Clearing up the confusion around ASUS' LGA2011-3 OC sockets

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2014 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: X99, Haswell-E, asus

KitGuru got in touch with Intel to confirm that the ASUS OC Socket present on their X99 boards will not in any way void the warranty on the processor.  What ASUS has done is activate several pins which were only intended to be used by Intel when verifying that a chip is functioning properly.  The pins will allow overclockers to bump the default voltage of Haswell-E processors from their default of 1.2V all the way to 2.1V – 2.2V.  Running a processor at those voltages without proper cooling will not only likely void your warranty but also fry the chip so as always, overclock at your own risk ... and pleasure.

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"Asustek Computer on Wednesday clarified the situation with its custom LGA2011-3 O.C. sockets as well as warranty that covers Intel Corp.’s processors. The mainboard maker denied that Intel’s warranty does not cover chips used with O.C. sockets and stated that the sockets are absolutely safe to use. A new statement by Intel confirms Asus’ claims"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: KitGuru

Podcast #316 - Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2014 - 10:58 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Haswell-E, 5960X, 5820K, amd, fx 8370, 8370e, 9590, r9 285, X99, western digital, my passport wireless, netgear, Matrox, r9 295x2

PC Perspective Podcast #316 - 09/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:32:43
 

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

 

Lenovo Shows Off New Y70 Touch Notebook and ERAZER Desktop Gaming PCs

Subject: Systems | September 4, 2014 - 12:42 AM |
Tagged: y70 touch, Lenovo, haswell, gaming notebook, gaming, Erazer

Yesterday, Lenovo unveiled two new gaming systems at IFA in Berlin. The new Y70 Touch is a 17-inch gaming notebook while the Erazer X310 and Erazer X315 are mid-tower desktops. All three systems will be available later this month.

Lenovo Y70 17-inch haswell gaming touchscreen notebook.jpg

The Y70 Touch is Lenovo's first desktop replacement notebook with a touchscreen. The 25.9mm thick notebook features a 17.3" 1080p display, backlit keyboard, and JBL-powered stereo speakers (with subwoofer). It can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 processor, NVIDIA GTX 860M GPU with 4GB RAM, 16GB of DDR3 system memory, and 1TB solid state drive (SSD). (Storage options include 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SSD options.) Lenovo is including an external disc drive with the gaming PC which was left out of the chassis itself to maintain its slim form factor and to reduce weight.

The Y70 Touch gaming notebook starts at $1,299 and will be available in the US later this month.

If desktops are more your style, Lenovo is now offering up the Erazer X310 and X315 mid-tower PCs. The X310 and X315 will share the same black mid-tower chassis but will use different internal hardware. the X310 with Intel Haswell CPUs will be available worldwide while the AMD APU-powered X315 will be exclusive to North America.

Lenovo ERAZER X315 and X310 Haswell Gaming Desktop.jpg

The ERAZER X310/X315 case is all black with a stealthy angular front panel design that hosts two 5.25" bays and a blue LED-backlit power button. The X310 can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 CPU while the X315 supports AMD "Kaveri" APUs up to the A10 series (e.g. A10 7850K). Users can choose up to a NVIDIA GTX 760 (2GB) or AMD Radeon R9 255 (2GB) graphics card. The mid-tower has four PCI slots and in theory could support further DIY upgrades but GPU length would be limited and the power supply may need to be upgraded as well. Further, both systems feature up to 32GB system memory and a maximum of 4TB mechanical hard drive, 2TB hybrid hard drive or 256GB solid state storage.

The new ERAZER X310 and X315 desktops will be available shortly starting at $599.

For those interested in the APU-powered desktop, the following articles might be of interest.

Source: Lenovo

AMD's Dropping the R9 295X2 Price to $999 USD

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 3, 2014 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, R9, r9 295x2, price cut

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While not fully in effect yet, AMD is cutting $500 off of the R9 295X2 price tag to $999 USD. Currently, there are two models available on Newegg USA at the reduced price, and one at Amazon for $1200. We expect to see other SKUs reduce soon, as well. This puts the water-cooled R9 295X2 just below the cost of two air-cooled R9 290X graphics cards.

If you were interested in this card, now might be the time (if one of the reduced units are available).

Source: Newegg

MINIX Neo Z64 Is x86-64 and $129

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 3, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: fanless, htpc, windows, Android

Because fanless and cheap PCs are awesome, MINIX is launching the Neo Z64. Priced at $129 USD, it will contain an Intel Atom Z3635F SoC with 2GB of DDR3L and 32GB of eMMC internal storage. The device will ship loaded with Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) but is compatible with Windows 8.1, if you have a license for it.

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Externally, the device features a microSD card slot (maximum size not specified), one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an IR receiver (with remote), and HDMI 1.4. Note that HDMI is the only audio outputs on this device, which could be tricky if you want to run it as something other than a home theater PC (if you do not have a USB sound card that is compatible with your chosen OS). Lastly, it also has 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless support.

This is still a significant price premium over some other devices, like a Roku, but could be useful for some. The lack of any SteamOS mention is a bit disconcerting, given that the free OS could be applied to turn the device into an In-Home Streaming target (or host of simple, Linux-compatible games, like Super Meat Boy). Hopefully, future products will consider Valve's home theater platform.

The MINIX Neo Z64 will be available in October for $129.

Source: FanlessTech

Matrox Creates Professional Graphics Cards with AMD GPUs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 3, 2014 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: Matrox, firepro, cape verde xt gl, cape verde xt, cape verde, amd

Matrox, along with S3, develop GPU ASICs for use with desktop add-in boards, alongside AMD and NVIDIA. Last year, they sold less than 7000 units in their quarter according to my math (rounding to 0.0% market share implies < 0.05% of total market, which was 7000 units that quarter). Today, Matrox Graphics Inc. announce that they will use an AMD GPU on their upcoming product line.

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While they do not mention a specific processor, they note that "the selected AMD GPU" will be manufactured at a 28nm process with 1.5 billion transistors. It will support DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.4, and OpenCL 1.2. It will have a 128-bit memory bus.

Basically, it kind-of has to be Cape Verde XT (or XT GL) unless it is a new, unannounced GPU.

If it is Cape Verde XT, it would have about 1.0 to 1.2 TFLOPs of single precision performance (depending on the chosen clock rate). Whatever clock rate is chosen, the chip contains 640 shader processors. It was first released in February 2012 with the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. Again, this is assuming that AMD will not release a GPU refresh for that category.

Matrox will provide their PowerDesk software to configure multiple monitors. It will work alongside AMD's professional graphics drivers. It is a sad that to see a GPU ASIC manufacturer throw in the towel, at least temporarily, but hopefully they can use AMD's technology to remain in the business with competitive products. Who knows: maybe they will make a return when future graphics APIs reduce the burden of driver and product development?

Source: Matrox

Blizzard's New Battle.net Launcher Feels Slick...

Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2014 - 12:31 AM |
Tagged: blizzard, battle.net

There has been a new Battle.net launcher in the works for quite some time now, about thirteen months. Blizzard is finally rolling it out to users of StarCraft II. Loading up the game a couple of days ago, I was transitioned to the new system. I must say: it looks and feels pretty slick.

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First, the main pages have a glass-like blur atop a background image for its window chrome. It has a borderless window style with a simple, one-pixel frame. When focused, it lights up a little central region at the top, rather than an entire strip of it. Personally, I find that this looks a little bit better than even Steam's most recent update -- but that is just being picky. Blizzard definitely thought about how it would look, and it shows.

The games are currently limited to World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Hearthstone. This leaves the shop quite limited, except for a few in-game mounts, pets, and services attached to WoW. Beyond the store, the layout is definitely intuitive and clean, despite only playing StarCraft II. And who knows, it might encourage me to branch out a little bit (but probably not).

blizzard-battlenet-01.jpg

The app is also designed to function as a messenger client. When playing StarCraft II, I found it quite weird to have a chat and instant messenger client built into each of their games, which needed to be running for it to be useful. Obviously, it is much easier to have Battle.net run in the background 24/7 than, say, Diablo III or StarCraft II, so this should make their messenger application more useful. This is a fairly obvious statement. The part that feels weird is how it doesn't seem to integrate with any of the game's chatrooms. I would have expected that I could interact with the chat groups of Blizzard's various games, but that is not that case. It seems like I still need to launch into StarCraft II, or whatever, to go about doing that. This, as stated, feels weird... almost like they have not got around to it yet.

Blizzard's new Battle.net launcher is available for download basically the next time you launch StarCraft II.

Source: Blizzard

Lenovo Outs 8-Inch $199 Intel-Powered TAB S8 Android Tablet

Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2014 - 12:02 AM |
Tagged: tablet, tab s8, Lenovo, ifa 2014, ifa, Bay Trail, Atom Z3775, Android

Lenovo launched the TAB S8 at IFA in Berlin today, making it the company's first Intel-powered 8-inch tablet running Google's Android operating system. The TAB S8 packs a decent amount of hardware into a 7.9mm thick and 299 gram package that will be available later this month starting at $199.

The TAB S8 features an 8-inch "Infinity Glass" 1920 x 1200 IPS display, two front facing Dolby Audio speakers, a 1.6 megapixel webcam, and an 8MP rear camera. Lenovo will offer the TAB S8 in white, black, yellow, and blue.

Lenovo Tab S8 Intel Bay Trail Android Tablet.jpg

Internally, the TAB S8 uses an Intel Atom Z3775 "Bay Trail" SoC clocked at up to 1.83 GHz, 16GB of eMMC storage, and 2GB DDR3 memory. The tablet runs Android 4.4 and will support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and (optionally) LTE cellular radios.

Exact SKUs and specifications have not yet been announced, but the base 16GB model will be available in September for $199. For the price, the TAB S8 looks to be a good deal, with hardware that is very competitive to other budget Android tablets!

Also read: Video Perspective: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10

Source: Lenovo

Puget Systems Offering X99-Based Deluge XL Gaming PCs

Subject: Systems | September 2, 2014 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: X99, puget systems, Puget, pre-built, Intel, Haswell-E, gaming

Puget Systems has joined the X99 fray with its Deluge XL gaming PC. The new system joins the existing Deluge which is based around Haswell and the Z97 chipset. This high end, liquid cooled, PC starts at $3,920.67 and is available now.

Puget Systems Deluge XL X99 Haswell-E Liquid Cooled Gaming System_Fractal Design Case.jpg

The Deluge XL features a Fractal Design Define XL R2 chassis, ASUS X99 Deluxe motherboard, up to an Intel Core i7 5960X processor, 16GB DDR4-2133 memory, single and multi-GPU options from NVIDIA and AMD, multiple storage options that include SSDs and mechanical drives, and a bottom mounted EVGA SuperNOVA P2 1,000W power supply to drive it all. Both the CPU and graphics card(s) are liquid cooled in a custom water loop comprised of a Koolance PMP-400 pump, 3/8" clear tubing (with an in-line flow meter), Koolance CPU-380 processor waterblock, and Koolance GPU waterblock(s). Users can further elect to upgrade the thermal paste to Arctic Cooling MX-2 and upgrade and/or add additional case fans. A blue LED lighting kit is available as an optional add-on along with other accessories. The Deluge XL can be configured with the Ubuntu Linux 14.04, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7 operating system.

Puget Systems Deluge XL X99 Haswell-E Liquid Cooled Gaming System.jpg

The base model comes with a GTX 780 graphics card and 500GB mechanical hard drive which does leave something to be desired. The motherboard is one of the highest end Haswell-E models out there and the PSU is up to the task of running almost any hardware, however. Switching out the above mentioned GPU and HDD for an AMD Radeon R9 290 and a 250GB Samsung 840 EVO respectively brings the price up to $4,087.10.

It's not cheap, but it is powerful and for some enthusiasts the simplified support along with not needing to spend time researching and building (and doing good cable management!) makes a pre-built system worth it. Puget is not the only game in town though, and other boutique system builders are rolling out their own X99-based PCs as well. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more news!

Steam Adds App Types: Film, TV, Video, Plugin, and Music

Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2014 - 10:50 PM |
Tagged: steam os, steam, htpc

In a recent Steam Beta update, Valve added a few new entries to its EAppType structure. Previously, the options were invalid, game, application, tool, demo, media, DLC, guide, driver, config, shortcut, and "depotonly". The recent update adds five new ones: film, TV series, video, plugin, and music.

Steam-eapp-additions.png

These additions could mean that Steam is intending to distribute film, TV, video, plugins, and music; alternatively, it could just allow users to integrate existing catalogs into the same interface. Of course, this is coming from someone with just about zero knowledge of Steam's internal structure. Someone who is more familiar with Steam might be able to say that I am stupid and this specific enum structure is only used the interface with the catalog or the store. I do not know.

What I am confident in saying is that Valve is serious about making Steam a full home theater PC platform. At LinuxCon, prior to the announcement of SteamOS, Gabe Newell discussed the family ownership (and sharing) of music and movie libraries right alongside his discussion of video games. Whether they want to deal with media company relations is a different story, however.

But let's not get too caught up in media for a second. What is a "plugin"?

This entry was what really caught my eye. Could Valve be designing a plugin architecture for the Steam client? Its built in web browser (or third-party browsers if Valve allows)? Or could it be a method of delivering user content for other apps on their system (similar to how DLC has its own type). If it is a Steam Client or SteamOS plugin, what would that even entail? I am definitely curious.

NVIDIA Announces GAME24: Global PC Gaming Event

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 2, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, game24, pc gaming

At 6PM PDT on September 18th, 2014, NVIDIA and partners will be hosting GAME24. The evemt will start at that time, all around the world, and finish 24 hours later. The three main event locations are Los Angeles, California, USA; London, England; and Shanghai, China. Four, smaller events will be held in Chicago, Illinois, USA; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Mission Viejo, California, USA; and Stockholm, Sweden. It will also be live streamed on the official website.

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Registration and attendance is free. If you will be in the area and want to join, sign up. Registration closes an hour before the event, but it is first-come-first-serve. Good luck. Have fun. Good game.

Source: NVIDIA

NETGEAR Announces Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 05:31 AM |
Tagged: nighthawk x4, netgear, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Today, NETGEAR has announced the Nighthawk X4 802.11ac router. It is dual-band, with up to 1733 Mbps of bandwidth (four channels of 433 Mbps) on 5.0 GHz and up to 600 Mbps (three channels of 200 Mbps) on 2.4 GHz. Compared to the Nighthawk X6, released earlier in the year, the X4 is design for fewer users who demand more performance.

netgear-nighthawkx4-01.jpg

The first thing that stood out for me was its processor...s. The router contains two of them. Its main CPU is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon-based (Update - Sept 2nd @ 5:20pm EDT: "Snapdragon-based" is unclear and misleading. It has "Snapdragon DNA with dual Krait cores". It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, as mentioned in the following sentence.) ARM processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, so it is not directly comparable to an SoC from their mobile line-up. NETGEAR also added a second, dualcore processor, clocked at 500 MHz, that is dedicated to deal with WiFi-related tasks as an "offload".

The reason why I found this interesting was that, not too many years ago, routers did not advertise their processor and RAM. There was once a niche who would create their own routers out of old PCs and an x86-compatible firmware (like OpenWRT). The push was to cheap routers with high bandwidth ratings. When I asked NETGEAR at what point did the industry decide to take the internal hardware seriously, their response was that about 73% of customers are repeat buyers. They upgraded their router because they were not happy with the performance that they were getting. Users have changed. HD video is going to numerous devices all over the home at the same time as games and downloads do their thing. The extra performance is necessary to keep the potential bandwidth in line with its usage.

netgear-nighthawkx4-02.png

One feature about this router that NETGEAR was promoting is Dynamic QoS. Using the extra processing power, mentioned in the two paragraphs above, the device identifies applications and allocates bandwidth accordingly. One example that they gave is YouTube versus Netflix. While both stream, Netflix will only grab what it needs while YouTube will load as quickly as possible to buffer ahead. If resources are tight, and Netflix is attempting to coexist with YouTube at any given time, the router will throttle the YouTube stream to provide it with at least enough bandwidth to stream, but not buffer, like, ten times faster than real time and choke out Netflix into a lower bit rate. If necessary, it will also prioritize the larger screen (TV) with the higher bit rate Netflix connection, where it will be more noticeable (than the smaller screen of a tablet, for instance).

And yes, QoS has been present in routers for more than a dog's age. They claim that it is typically a feature that users turn on, dislike, then turn right back off again. They believe that their new implementation will actually win you over.

netgear-nighthawkx4-03.jpg

The router will also feature two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection. It will allow networked PC backup to an external hard drive and streaming media (photos, music, and videos) to TVs by DLNA.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500) is available now for $279.99.

Source: NETGEAR

Falcon Northwest Offering X99 Based PCs In Three Form Factors

Subject: Systems | August 31, 2014 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: X99, system builder, SFF, Intel, Haswell-E, falcon northwest

Haswell-E is official and components supporting the new X99 platform are flooding the market (or at least your news feed!). Intel's latest chip is not just for the DIY crowd, however. Boutique system builders have started announcing their refreshed lineups. First up is Falcon Northwest which has refreshed its product lineups to feature Haswell-E in small form factor (Micro ATX), mid-tower, and full tower systems.

ICON2-FragBox-AudiRed-hi.jpg

Falcon Northwest has updated the Mach V, Talon, and FragBox PCs to include Haswell-E, updated X99 chipset motherboards, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, and the latest connectivity options such as at least six USB 3.0 ports and up to 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports. 

Users will be able to configure the refreshed models with any of Intel's launch CPUs: the six core i7 5820K, hexacore i7 5930K, and flagship 8-core i7 5960X (our review). All three processor options will come with a liquid cooler and optional overclock.

Haswell-Es.jpg

A tray of Intel Core i7 5930K Haswell-E Processors. Photo Courtesy Falcon Northwest.

Per the press blast, Falcon Northwest President Kelt Reeves had the following to say about Intel's new enthusiast desktop platform:

“In our 23 years of building high-end PCs, I can’t ever remember seeing this much new tech hitting at the same time.” said Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest. “Our fall desktop lineup of Intel X99-based systems with 8-core CPUs, 10 SATA ports, 12 USB 3.0 ports, and 64 gigs of DDR4 memory make the systems we built even a year ago look like antiques. Intel X99 is that big of a leap forward.”

The new systems can be configured with various storage, graphics card, and case/aesthetical options much like their predecessors. The newer platform which supports more processor power, 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, and DDR4 (which uses less power and offers up more bandwidth versus DDR3) is the notable factor here.

The small form factor (and LAN party friendly) FragBox PC starts at $2,313. The mid-tower Talon and full tower Mach V start at $2,330 and $3,021 respectively. You can find the updated custom built boxes on the Falcon Northwest website.

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While I would not go as far as Mr. Reeves, I do think Haswell-E noticeably improves upon Ivy Bridge-E and it brings hardware to bear that will be most welcomed by professionals in workstations and servers that can take advantage of the power. For enthusiasts and gamers, it also represents a much waited-for trickle down of technology from the Xeon lineup of an Intel chip with 8 physical cores to consumers at a price that is relatively affordable (heh).

Are you excited for Haswell-E? Will you be upgrading or carrying on with your current setup? Here's hoping Broadwell-E (or whatever the next generation ends up being called, of course) brings the 8 core monster to the $400 space so my i7 860 can finally rest and graceful Linux test box retirement before I end up killing it from too much time overclocked and over-volted ;).

Volition to Release Saint's Row IV Mod Kit

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: Saints Row IV, mod, pc gaming

I just finished discussing how Grand Theft Auto IV's mod community thrives almost in spite of not having an official toolkit. Apparently, at PAX 2014, Volition announced that Saint's Row IV's official development kit will be released to the public. This follows their announcements of Saint's Row 4: Re-elected, an updated version for PS4 and Xbox One, and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, a spin-off of Saint's Row IV for the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC, that claims to place the Third Street Saints in a Disney-esque musical set in Hell.

As usual, I encourage as many developers as possible to release their development tools to the community. If you have a good game, and the community believes they could make it even better, that could help you. This seems obvious but has some development costs and (irrational?) fear of eating into DLC sales. On the other hand, it could help promote your product and its DLC, spin-offs, and so forth... see above.

Source: Joystiq

Watch_Dogs Mod for Grand Theft Auto IV

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming, mod, GTA4

If you are not in our IRC chat room, at irc.pcper.com in the #pcper channel, then you could be missing out. We often promote the forums, especially when they review components or host a LAN party, the chatroom is populated just about 24/7. A couple of days ago, KngtRider, IRC regular and owner of Nitroware, an Australian computer hardware news and review website, dropped me a link to a Grand Theft Auto IV mod that adds Watch Dogs elements. You can see the main features in the video below.

The level to which Grand Theft Auto games have been modded is surprising, especially since the tools are community-developed (unless I am completely mistaken). In this mod, the player is able to hack into cameras, ATMs, lights, and even blackout the area around his or her character. The developers even add in a custom HUD, the new wanted level system, and take down attacks.

While I did not try it, the video is impressive. For more information, check out the Kotaku article.

Source: Kotaku

ASRock Launches High End X99 WS E-ATX Motherboard For Workstations and Servers

Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2014 - 10:10 AM |
Tagged: xeon, x99 ws, X99, workstation, socket 2011-3, Intel, Haswell-E, asrock

Alongside the X99 Extreme6 for enthusiasts, ASRock has launched the X99 WS (E-ATX) motherboard for professional workstations and servers. The board uses a black PCB, blue aluminum heatsinks on the power phase and PCH areas, and gold colored caps. The E-ATX motherboard uses short screws and a thinner CPU socket backplate to allow it to fit into 1U server cases. You have ample PCI-E slots, DDR4 (and ECC RDIMMs), USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2 (with an AIC), eSATA, M.2, and SATA III for connectivity. Power is regulated by a 12 power phase "Digi Power" design with high quality Ultra Dual-N MOSFETs, 60A chokes, 12K Nichicon capacitors.

The X99 WS also uses larger heatsinks, especially around the CPU area. The board features an Intel LGA 2011-3 socket that will accept Haswell-E or Xeon E5-1600/2600 v3 processors up to 18 cores and 160W TDPs. Eight memory slots surround the CPU socket and support a maximum of 128GB of DDR4 3200+ memory. Storage is handled by 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports and a single "Ultra M.2" slot that supports SATA III or PCI-E x4 controller equipped drives.

X99 WS E-ATX Workstation and Server Motherboard for Haswell-E.jpg

This worskation board takes advantage of the Extended ATX form factor to cram in additional PCI-E 3.0 slots versus the shorter X99 Extreme6. A PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slot sits directly below the CPU socket followed by the (mentioned above) M.2 slot and five PCI-E 3.0 x 16 slots. The five PCI-E 3.0 slots allow for 4-Way CrossFireX and 4-Way SLI multi-GPU setups. To take full advantage of this board, you will want to pair it with the higher end Haswell-E parts (5930K, 5960X, et al) with the full 40 lanes rather than the entry level 5820K with its limited 28 PCI-E lanes.

Using internal headers, the X99 WS supports a TPM module, two COM ports, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a Thunderbolt port (via an extra add-in-card). It features two CPU fan and three chassis fan headers as well.

The X99 WS features the following ports on the rear IO panel.

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x Gigabit LAN
    • 1 x Intel I217LM
    • 1 x Intel I210AT
  • 7.1 Channel Audio (Realtek ALC1150)
    • 5 x Analog audio outputs
    • 1 x Optical audio output

The X99 WS is available now with a three year manufaturer warranty for $323.99. The price alone pushes this board well into the professional market, but gamers can get most of the way to the WS feature-wise with the X99 Extreme6. The WS goes up against the boards like the ASUS X99-Deluxe and MSI X99S XPOWER AC.

Source: ASRock

Creative Introduces Sound Blaster E5 Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 08:44 AM |
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic

Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5. 

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This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".

Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5mm headphone jacks. The two 3.5mm jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5mm jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)

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The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.

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The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.

The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).

Source: Creative