Well fork me, there is a schism at OpenWRT

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2016 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: openwrt, LEDE, networking

The Rebel scum known as the LEDE Project have broken away from the OpenWRT project in an unannounced move meant to increase transparency.  Jokes aside, The Register named seven of the developers who are part of this forking, a not uncommon practice in open source projects.  LEDE will try to bring in fresh enthusiasm to a Linux project which has been losing the interest of programmers, perhaps due to the lack of transparency that they cite or possibly just due to waning interest in a long running project.  Pop on over to their page to see their mission statement, rules and processes if you are interested in how they compare to OpenWRT.

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"The LEDE Project – Linux Embedded Development Environment – describes itself as a breakaway project that wants to overcome what it sees as faults in OpenWRT."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Removes Windows Store Blocking Policy from 10 Pro

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2016 - 11:26 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, Windows Store

Well that's a great precedent, Microsoft. In Windows 10 1511, which released in November for the general public, they removed the group policy setting to disable Windows Store from Windows 10 Pro. From a consumer standpoint? I can't see this decision making any difference. I doubt that a group policy setting would be the best line of defense for any use case that requires a disabled Windows Store.

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From an enterprise standpoint -- there might have been good reason to disable it. Microsoft's solution is to use Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education. This doesn't help those who already purchased a significant number of Windows 10 Pro licenses. I've also talked to someone in an enterprise environment who pointed to this decision as their reason to not upgrade to Windows 10 earlier in the year. Their organization cannot justify upgrading to Windows 10 Enterprise, and they have legal obligations that require locking down the apps that end-users can install.

So enterprises have been privately responding to this decision, apparently, but I'm not sure whether they're considering the bigger precedent. This is a concrete example of Microsoft removing user choice after they accepted the platform. This should start to make users think about all the other ways that Microsoft can alter the deal going forward, especially since you cannot just sit on Windows 10 1511 for a decade like you could with Windows XP or Windows 7.

Preventing users from blocking Windows Store (and the UWP) could be seen as a step toward deprecating the “wild west” method of installing software that we're used to. You can install unsigned Win32, for now. You can sideload UWP applications that aren't certified by Microsoft, although they need to be signed by a handful of root certificates, for now. This will always be a concern when dealing with a closed platform, where society isn't allowed to just fork away from disaster, but it's good to continually remind people of what could happen if decisions are extrapolated.

It would be wrong to assume malicious intent, though -- that stuff would leak all the time. But, with sufficient tunnel-vision, we could end up with negative consequences. It could be an enterprise worth of PCs becoming useless legal liabilities overnight, or it could be policies that allow a government to ban encryption software from installing on a platform.

Source: ZDNet

Get ready to Limbo! GAMDIAS goes RGB with their new Hermes

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2016 - 09:53 PM |
Tagged: gamdias, Kailh Blue RGB, Kailh, input, mechanical keyboard

GAMDIAS chose to use Kailh switches as opposed to Cherry MX in their Hermes RGB keyboard but only those with very sensitive fingers will notice the difference.  The keyboard still allows you similar customization, if you want all your keys to be a different colour you will be able to make it so.  They also offer an interesting choice, instead of a WIN key on the left, there is an Fn key which controls your macros and switches lighting profiles.  The key can be programmed as a WIN key but that disables your macros and profiles, an interesting choice.  The use of Kailh Blue keys means you are in for a loud and bumpy ride, which some prefer and others despise.  Take a look at it in action over at Techgage.

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"When RGB mechs first hit the market, they were priced as if they were the first RGB mechs to hit the market. Since then, some vendors have been releasing more affordable options for those who love both RGB LEDs and mechanical switches. GAMDIAS is one of those, and with its $100 Hermes RGB, it’s no longer that expensive to add color to your typing or gaming."

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Source: Techgage

It's raining Men ... and Orks and Eldar

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2016 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: gaming, warhammer 40k, dawn of war III

The Dawn of War series has been very popular, well designed and as pretty as there were bloody; THQ and Relic even managed decent add-ons that surpassed your run of the mill DLC for the most part.  The trailer below gives you a CGI tease of what Dawn of War III might look like when brought to you by Sega and Relic.  Those who preferred DoW II are in for a very unpleasant, even heretical, surprise; according to what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have heard, the base building of the first instalment is coming back.  They do promise to continue the equipment customization of heroes from the second game; here is to hoping they are not just talking about silly hats.

"This isn’t the first public mention of Dawn of War 3. That was way back in 2011, when Relic were still owned by the now departed THQ. It’s likely safe to assume little of that original plan remains."

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Gaming

 

Psst Comrade! Want to buy some email account details cheap?

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2016 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: security

272.3 million is a big number and sadly it refers to the number of email accounts which have been affected by a recent data breach.  The vast majority of the accounts are from Russia's Mail.ru but Yahoo accounts for 15%, Hotmail 12% and Gmail 9% of the leak.  With 50 rubles and the right connections you can have the email addresses and passwords of a very large number of people.  Sadly, The Inquirer also heard that this collection includes details of user accounts of US banking, manufacturing and retail companies.  When you are changing your passwords today, try to avoid obvious Star Wars references.

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"Reuters has the scoop, having heard from Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security - and the man who last year uncovered the largest data breach to date - that the details of 272.3 million stolen accounts are being traded."

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Source: The Inquirer

Is it more than just a name? The Corsair H80i v2 High Performance AiO cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 3, 2016 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: watercooler, AIO, corsair, H80i v2 High Performance

It is funny to think that just a few short years ago AIO watercoolers were rare as hen's teeth when you look at the number of models on the market today.  Manufacturers now offer multiple product lines and many are starting to refresh their products with new models.  Corsair has created a second version of their popular H80i cooler, which [H]ard|OCP has tested to see if it improves upon the original's performance.  They also delve into the rather impressive software which accompanies this cooler, there are a lot more features on the H80i v2 than on the competition which could influence you when you are deciding which cooler to purchase.

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"Corsair's original All-In-One H80i was a great CPU cooling unit, so we have high hopes for the H80i version 2. Push / Pull two-speed PWM fans come stock with this kit's newly designed water block and tubing configuration. We also have a new 49mm radiator and Corsair has some cosmetic updates as well that make this AIO very good looking."

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CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Patch 'em if you got 'em; 40 Google patches for you

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: Android, google, security

Assuming your service provider is not one of those who block Google's patches from coming to you directly you should probably charge up that device, get on WiFi  and check your available updates.  Any Google device running 4.4.4 or newer, including Nexus devices, will have up to 40 patches to slurp up.  Many of the patches are for a vulnerability similar to the previous Stagefright exploit, apps can use the drivers from Qualcomm and NVIDIA to break into the Qualcomm TrustZone on unpatched devices.  The Register provides a full list of the patches which are being pushed to Nexus and Android One devices.

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"Google has today issued a bundle of 40 security patches for its Android operating system.

A dozen of the fixes correct critical vulnerabilities in versions 4.4.4 of the operating system and above. About 74 per cent of in-use Android devices run Android 4.4.4 or higher."

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Source: The Register

NVIDIA Game Ready for Battleborn and the betas of Forza Motorsport 6: APEX, Paragon, and Overwatch

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2016 - 10:21 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics driver, game ready

Some of the games may still be in beta but the driver is fully WHQL; NVIDIA has released Version 365.10 of their graphics driver which focuses on Battleborn which arrives on May 3rd.  We do hope that you have not helped perpetuate the crime against gaming humanity which is the pre-order, but if you have then you should be pre-ordering this driver as well.  Along with Battleborn comes support for three games currently in beta, open or otherwise, Forza Motorsport 6: APEX, Paragon, and Overwatch. The Release Notes also mention new SLI profiles for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Overwatch and even good 3D Vision support for Battleborn for the dozen of you out there which will benefit from it.  If you follow the links below you can read NVIDIA's suggested GPUs for these games.

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Today, we’ve launched our Game Ready driver for Battleborn.  It also covers some beta games:  Forza Motorsport 6: APEX (Beta), Paragon (Beta), and Overwatch (Beta).
 
You can grab GeForce Game Ready 365.10 WHQL drivers on this link.
 
Related Links:
 
Game Ready Driver Article: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/battleborn-forza-motorsport-6-...
 
Overwatch Recommended GPU Article: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/overwatch-system-requirements
 
Paragon Recommended GPU Article: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/paragon-early-access-now-avail...
 
Forza Motorsport 6: Apex System Requirements (external page): http://www.forzamotorsport.net/en-us/news/fm6_apex_beta_announce
 
Game Ready Driver Release Highlights: http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/102199/en-uk

 

Source: NVIDIA

AMD adds panel types and frequency ranges to their FreeSync page

Subject: Displays | May 2, 2016 - 09:53 PM |
Tagged: freesync, amd, about damn time

Better late than never, our friend Robert Hallock has informed the world that AMD has updated their FreeSync display list with response ranges and panel types.  Having the physical size of the display, the resolution and the accepted inputs are necessary but this update offers a much better look at the displays you will be getting.  If you are unwilling to give up the colour reproduction of a IPS panel for the speed of an TN this is invaluable to you, as is pointing out the few VA based monitors.

FreeSync_technology.png

Listing the top and bottom frequencies of the variable refresh displays is arguably even more important.  We now know that currently only the Acer XR341CK and BX340CK, the Nixeus NX-VUE24 and the Viewsonic XG2701 are capable of dropping to 30Hz and that a total of 17 models can reach 144Hz.  Check out the list for the available 4K displays as well as regular 1440p and ultra-wide 1440p displays in the list and refer back to it regularly as there are a few monitors awaiting final specifications and more coming out in the near future.

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Source: AMD

April showers bring May flowers; cash spent means new growth in your PC

Subject: Systems | May 2, 2016 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: build guide

Though this post did not quite make it in time for the title, the components are not going to be any different in The Tech Reports April System's Guide.  Similar to our own HWLB, The Tech Report breaks out their recommendations into several price points to accommodate those who are on a budget as well as those for whom the sky is not the limit.  In most cases there are two recommendations for each level of spending, GPUs are certainly an exception as the market is incredibly crowded at the moment and discounts often impact a buyers final decision.  Pop on over to take a look at the components they chose for those of you doing some spring cleaning inside your PCs.

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"In this edition of The Tech Report's System Guide, we examine the CPUs, graphics cards, memory, cases, power supplies, and other parts that system builders will need to power Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive VR headsets."

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Systems

Biostar is off to the races with the Z170GT7

Subject: Motherboards | May 2, 2016 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: biostar, racing z170gt7, Z170, Intel

Biostar has a mixed reputation online, one similar to ASRock.  Those who have never used one despise the brand on the basis of reading that some guy somewhere once had some sort of problem with one.  Those who have used them are aware that they have some quirks but are decent boards when used for what they were designed for and don't tend to have significantly more issues than other brands.

With the Racing Z170GT7, Biostar is venturing out of its comfort zone as you do not expect to see an LN2 switch on one of their products, nor on a motherboard costing around $130.  It is not light on features either, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, an M.2 port and three SEx ports which are set up to be available as SATA 6Gbps ports as well.  The motherboard also has aesthetic heatsinks and 256 colour LEDs, all of which add up to something new from Biostar.  Check out the board in action over at TechPowerUp ... or not.

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"The Biostar Racing Z170GT7 is a fully-featured high-performance platform that includes an LN2 switch. Unlike previous motherboards from Biostar that were affordable with more basic features, this one has everything a gamer would want and does very well in our testing."

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Motherboards

Source: TechPowerUp

People may actually be migrating to Linux, or at least off of Windows

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2016 - 07:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, market share, linux

We've all seen the comments about how Windows 10 has finally convinced people to switch operating systems but today we have numbers which show that some may have been true to their word.  According to Netmarketshare the marketshare of Windows on desktop machines has dropped below 90% for the first time.  Mac OSX holds onto 3.96% of the market but the Other category is up to 8.59%, which is the category that represents the various flavours of Linux; it holds 1.56%, as well as other non-Microsoft OSes.  It may not be the year of Linux but it certainly is not Microsoft's year.  You can read the calm, rational discussion over at Slashdot on this topic, it is guaranteed to provide amusement.

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"Windows 7 is still the king, but it no longer holds the majority. Nine months after Windows 10's release, Windows 7 has finally fallen below 50 percent market share and Windows XP has dropped into single digits. While this is good news for Microsoft, April was actually a poor month for Windows overall, which for the first time owned less than 90 percent of the market, according to the latest figures from Net Applications."

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Source: Slashdot

Antec Announces P9 Window Full-Tower Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 2, 2016 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: side window, P9 Window, mid-tower, Full-Tower, fan controller, enclosure, case, atx case, antec

Antec has listed a new P9 Window tower enclosure on their site ahead of Computex, and while it's listed as "not available" at the moment, that should change by the end of the month.

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So what is this P9 Window? It's a straightforward case with a big side window, excellent storage and cooling support, and dual onboard fan controllers.

"Don’t let the sleek, understated exterior fool you. The P9 Window is loaded with builder-focused features that deliver performance, Quiet Computing, and future-proof expandability right out of the box. The interior volume, the variety of cooling options, and the modular HDD cages are just a few of the features that make the P9 Window stand out in the Performance One series."

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Specifications:

  • Motherboard Support: ATX, micro ATX, mini ITX
  • Expansion Slots: 8
  • 13 Total Drive Bays:
    • 3 x Tool-less 5.25” ODD Bays
    • 8 x Tool-less 3.5” HDD trays (each compatible with 2.5” SSD)
    • 1 x 3.5” HDD (inside the 5.25” drive cage)
    • 2 x Tool-less 2.5” Dedicated SSD Bays
  • Cooling System:
    • 2 x Front 120mm (included) fan
    • 1 x Rear 120mm (included) fan
    • 3 x Top 120mm or 2 x 140mm fan mounts (optional)
    • 1 x Bottom 120mm (optional)
    • 2 x 120mm HDD cage fan mounts (Optional)
  • Water cooling support:
    • Front: Supports 240mm radiator
    • Top: Supports240/280/360 mm radiator
    • Pump / Reservoir mounting brackets included
    • Removable / Relocation of HDD cages for water cooling pump
  • I/O Ports:
    • 2 x USB 3.0
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 2 x Fan controls
    • Audio In/Out
  • Washable air filters (front intake and PSU)
  • Supports up to 430 mm VGA cards
  • Bottom mounted ATX PSU (not included)
  • Dimensions: 22.44” (W) x 23.50 (H) x 11.26” (D)
  • Weight: 20 lbs

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Pricing shown in Antec's listing is a reasonable $109 for a full-tower design like this, and we'll doubtless get a chance to see how its performing soon enough as reviews start coming out.

Source: ComputerBase

LG Display Further Invests in OLED

Subject: Displays | April 30, 2016 - 05:33 AM |
Tagged: LG, lg display, oled

According to a spokeswoman for LG Display, via Reuters, the display panel company will increase their investment in OLED production by $395.99 million USD. Back in November, we reported on their plans to produce an $8.7 billion USD facility that was expected to manufacture panel sizes that range between smart watch and large TV.

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Just displaying an LG Display display.

Okay then.

It's awesome that OLED is getting even more attention. The display technology is better suited than LCD/LED in terms of both real contrast and high refresh rate / low persistence, with the former good for deep blacks and saturated colors, and the latter for VR, 3D, and generated content like games. We've seen a few professional monitors announced at CES, but they are still in the “decent used car” price range. That's a welcome change from “decent new car” however, but availability is still basically non-existent. This is before LG Display's production facility wakes up in 2018, and LG is known to push lower prices into markets. Just a couple years!

Source: Reuters

AMD Announces Joint Venture with NFME

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2016 - 04:33 AM |
Tagged: SoC, nfme, gpu, cpu, amd

Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (NFME) is a Chinese company that packages and tests integrated circuits. Recently, AMD has been working with China to reach that large market, especially given their ongoing cash concerns. This time, AMD sold 85% of its stake in two locations, AMD Penang, Malaysia and AMD Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, to NFME and formed a joint venture with them, called TF-AMD Microelectronics Sdn Bhd.

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I see two interesting aspects to this story.

First, AMD gets about $320 million USD in this transaction, after taxes and fees, and it also retains 15% of this venture. I am curious whether this will lead to a long-term source of income for AMD, even though the press release claims that this structure will be “cost neutral”. Either way, clearing a third of a billion dollars should help AMD to some extent. That equates to about two-to-three quarters of net-loss for the company, so it gives them about six-to-nine extra months of life on its own. That's not too bad if the transaction doesn't have any lasting consequences.

Second, NFME now has access to some interesting packaging and testing technologies. NFME's website claims that this allows them to handle dies up to 800mm2, substrates with up to 18 layers, and package sizes up to 75mm. These specifications sound like it pulls from their GPU experience, which could bring all of that effort and knowledge to completely different fields.

The press release states that 1,700 employees will be moved from AMD to this venture. They do not state whether any jobs are affected over and above this amount, though.

This is your AMD APU. This is your AMD APU on DX12; any questions?

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 29, 2016 - 11:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, dx12, async shaders

Earlier in the month [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance scaling that Intel processors display in DX12, now they have finished their tests on AMD processors.  These tests include Async computing information, so be warned before venturing forth into the comments.  [H] tested an FX 8370 at 2GHz and 4.3GHz to see what effect this had on the games, the 3GHz tests did not add any value and were dropped in favour of these two turbo frequencies.  There are some rather interesting results and discussion, drop by for the details.

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"One thing that has been on our minds about the new DX12 API is its ability to distribute workloads better on the CPU side. Now that we finally have a couple of new DX12 games that have been released to test, we spend a bit of time getting to bottom of what DX12 might be able to do for you. And a couple sentences on Async Compute."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Not to be outdone by hard drives, ARCHOS releases the 70b Helium Tablet

Subject: Mobile | April 29, 2016 - 10:19 PM |
Tagged: archos, 70b Helium Tablet

ARCHOS has decided that bigger is not always better and released the 7" 70b Helium tablet.  It is powered by a quad-core Mediatek MT8735M running at 1GHz with 1GB of RAM and Android Lollipop 5.1.  At 278g and 188x108x9.9mm it is much smaller than many current generation tablets and costs less as well.  The resolution of 1024x600 is going to disappoint many prospective buyers, on the other hand bloatware is as sparse as the PPI which is a nice benefit to this tablet.  If you have need of a tablet which is not overly powerful and which is inexpensive enough to pass onto a kid or use in unfriendly places such as the beach pop on over to Kitguru to take a peek.

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"Recently there has been a definite trend to having bigger mobile devices. Smartphone flagships are well over 5 inches in size now, and tablets are getting bigger too – just take a look at the 13.3 inch iPad Pro. It is refreshing, then, to see ARCHOS buck the trend with its 70b Helium tablet.

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Source: Kitguru

The VR chair is now a reality thanks to Praevidi

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: Praevidi, turris, vr chair

You are not alone if you are confused by what exactly a VR chair is, but The Tech Report can help.  Aaron Schradin created the Turris VR chair which essentially allows you to steer VR games with your butt.  By leaning forwards, backwards or to the sides you can make your in game avatar move, instead of needing something in your hands.  Swiveling is also mapped, which is more important than you might think; with your torso decoupled from your head movements you can look around while maintaining the same walking direction.  The Turris also doubles as a case, you can install your PC directly into the chair to clean up the overall look of your VR rig.  Check out the video and full review for a look at this interesting piece of technology.  There is no price nor release date yet but Aaron is aiming for Q4 for the first release.

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"Praevidi's Turris VR Chair lets players navigate seated VR experiences by shifting their bodies, an approach that decouples head- and torso-position tracking to create a potentially more immersive experience in VR environments. Join us as we explore this device and its implications for the future of VR control."

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Tech Talk

Seagate Begins Volume Shipment of 10TB Helium-Filled Enterprise Capacity 3.5" HDD

Subject: Storage | April 29, 2016 - 05:36 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, helium, hdd, Enterprise Capacity 3.5, 10TB

We’ve seen a ramp up of Helium filled-hard drives lately, first with HGST, and more recently with Western Digital Red 8TB and Gold 8TB. It seems Seagate also wants in on the fun:

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This drive was initially paper-launched back in January, but now Seagate claims it is shipping in volume. While that original release and today’s update both lack performance specs, there are a few interesting tidbits sprinkled in there:

  • This is a CMR drive, not SMR, meaning that it can be written randomly without any of the batch write penalties of Shingled Magnetic Recording.
  • ‘Advanced write caching capabilities’ hints at a form of the media cache tech present in the HGST He6/He8 and also recently adopted by the WD 8TB Gold.
  • The Seagate 10TB release from earlier this year stated that his model will be a 7-platter design with 14 heads. Helium enables thinner platters, and 7-platter designs began appearing in the HGST He6.
  • At nearly 1.5TB per platter and an assumed spindle speed of 7200 RPM, we can infer that the base specs should be reasonably impressive.

New press blast appears after the break. Original launch blast is linked here.

Not just for the Beatles and Final Fantasy; the Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver headset

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2016 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: audio, kingston hyper x, Cloud Revolver, gaming headset

50mm neodymium drivers have become standard issue on gaming headsets and the Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver is no exception.  With a frequency range of 12Hz–28,000 Hz and impedance of 30 Ω this headset should work well with just about any device.  The steel and leather construction looks nice and will help these headphones resist being damaged while being stored for travel.  As to how they sound, Modders Inc rather liked this analogue headset, read more about it here.

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"The Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver is the latest headset in Kingston's product family. Kingston's gaming headset line up has grown to four different models which feature both 3.5mm and USB connectivity."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Modders Inc