AMD Cancels Catalyst, Introduces Radeon Software Crimson

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon software, radeon, driver, crimson, catalyst, amd

For as long as I can remember, the AMD (previously ATI) graphics driver was know as Catalyst. The Catalyst Control Center (CCC) offered some impressive features, grew over time with the Radeon hardware but it had more than its share of issues. It was slow, it was ugly and using it was kind of awful. And today we mourn the passing of Catalyst but welcome the birth of "Radeon Software" and the first iteration if it, Crimson.


Starting with the next major driver release from AMD you'll see a major change the speed, design and usability of the most important interface between AMD and its users. I want to be clear today: we haven't had a chance to actually use the software yet, so all of the screenshots and performance claims are from an AMD presentation to the media last week. 


Let's start with new branding: gone is the AMD Catalyst name, replaced by "Radeon Software" as the overarching title for the software and driver packages that AMD releases. The term "Crimson Edition" refers to the major revision of the software and will likely be a portion of the brand that changes with the year or with important architectural changes. Finally, the numeric part of the branding will look familiar and represents the year and month of release: "15.11" equates to 2015, November release.


With the new brand comes an entire new design that AMD says targets simplicity, ease of use and speed. The currently available Catalyst Control Center software is none of those so it is great news for consumers that AMD has decided to address it. This is one of AMD's Radeon Technology Group SVP Raja Koduri's pet projects - and it's a great start to a leadership program that should spell positive momentum for the Radeon brand.

While the Catalyst Control Center was written in the aging and bloated .Net coding ecosystem, Radeon Software is designed on QT. The first and most immediate advantage will be startup speed. AMD says that Radeon Software will open in 0.6 seconds compared to 8.0 seconds for Catalyst on a modestly configured system. 


The style and interface look to be drastically improved with well defined sections along the top and settings organized in a way that makes them easy to find and address by the user. Your video settings are all in a single spot, the display configuration is on its as well, just as they were with Catalyst, but the look and feel is completely different. Without hands on time its difficult to say for sure, but it appears that AMD has made major strides. 


There are some new interesting capabilities as well, starting with per-game settings available in Game Manager. This is not a duplication of what GeForce Experience does in terms of adjust in-game settings, but it does allow you to set control panel-specific settings like anti-aliasing, texture filtering quality, vertical sync. This capability was around in the previous versions of Catalyst but it was hard to utilize.

Overdrive, the AMD-integrated GPU overclocking portion of Radeon Software, gets a new feature as well: per-game overclocking settings. That's right - you will now be able to set game-specific overclocking settings for your GPU that will allow you to turn up the power for GTA V while turning things down for lower power consumption and noise while catching up on new DLC for Rocket League. I can see this being an incredibly useful feature for gamers willing to take the time to customize their systems.


There are obviously more changes for Radeon Software and the first iteration of it known as Crimson, including improved Eyefinity configuration, automatic driver downloads and much more, and we look forward to playing around with the improved software package in the next few weeks. For AMD, this shows a renewed commitment to Radeon and PC gaming. With its declining market share against the powerful NVIDIA GeForce brand, AMD needs these types of changes.

Kangaroo is a Pocket-Sized Battery-Powered Windows 10 PC

Subject: Systems | October 31, 2015 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: x5-Z8500, windows 10, PC, mini-pc, Kangaroo, intel atom, InFocus, computer, Cherry Trail

InFocus has created what they are calling “the world’s smallest personal, powerful, portable PC”, and the Kangaroo is certainly an impressive-looking device that looks even better when you consider the $99 price tag.


The Kangaroo is looks like a 2.5-inch external hard drive, and inside the sleek housing it offers a quad-core Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5-z8500 processor with a nominal speed of 1.44 GHz (turbo up to 2.24 GHz), along with the usual 2 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC storage. Add dual-band 802.11ac wireless and a built-in fingerprint reader, and this becomes a quite the full-featured mini-PC. And the best part might just be the battery, as the Kangaroo can operate for up to 4 hours of “casual use” without wall power, according to InFocus.


Here are the full specifications from InFocus:

  • OS: Windows 10 - Home edition
  • CPU: Intel Atom x5-Z8500 Processor (2M Cache, up to 2.24 GHz)
  • Graphics: Intel Processor Graphics Gen8
  • Video Memory: Sharing System Memory
  • Memory: 2GB LPDDR3
  • Hard Drive: 32GB eMMC
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 A/C (Dual Band) / Bluetooth 4.0
  • Expansion Slot microSD
  • Security: Fingerprint reader
  • Battery Life: 4 hours (casual use)
  • Dimensions: Computing module : 80.5 x 124 x 12.9mm / Base : 80.5 x 46.9 x 12.9mm
  • Weight: 200g (without adapter & power cord) / 470g (including adapter & power cord)
  • Ports: (Computing module) microSD, Micro USB (charge only); (Base) USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 1, HDMI x 1, DC-IN
  • Audio: Supported through HDMI
  • Cloud: OneDrive
  • Power Adapter: Input: 100V-220V ~ 1A, 50-60Hz / Output: 12V/3A
  • Accessories included: Software - OS Link (requires USB cable), dock, power supply, cables


There’s even more versatility available for the Kangaroo user when you add the OSLinx iOS app to the mix, essentially allowing you to use the tablet as a monitor:

“Your iPad is all you need to have to enjoy the benefits of your Kangaroo PC on the go. OSLinx Windows Monitor turns your iOS device into a primary display of your Kangaroo PC. It connects to a PC through a Lightning-to-USB cable and works with OSLinx Server installed on the Kangaroo PC. OSLinx Windows Monitor supports mouse as well as multitouch gestures.”

The Kangaroo is available now, and currently being sold on for that $99 MSRP.

Source: InFocus

It's not Logitech, it's not RAM, it's the G.SKILL Ripjaws MX780 gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2015 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: input, MX780 RGB, G.Skill, ripjaws

Trying to keep branding straight in your mind is not an easy task, especially when companies mix old branding from competitors with their own current branding for a completely different type of product.  Branding aside, the G.SKILL Ripjaws MX780 sports eight fully customizable buttons and the height, length and width of much of the mouse can be adjusted via screws as we first saw back in the Cyborg Rat 7 and other similar devices.  The software from G.SKILL allows you to program the buttons, polling rate, DPI sensitivity and the seven different LEDs on the mouse.  Check out how well the mouse performs at Overclockers Club.


"The main problem I found with this mouse is with using cloth mouse pads – lifting the mouse would cause it to stop working momentarily when sat back down as if it were recalibrating. Using a hard surface the mouse worked perfectly. I used a Ratpadz hard pad, an XTracGear Ripper cloth pad, and a Corsair Gaming Mouse Mat cloth pad. Only the hard plastic pad worked reliably when lifting the mouse and setting it down."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Appropriately named for Halloween; the HP Spectre x360

Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2015 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: hp, spectre x360

We saw a preview of HP's new Spectre x360 back in March, today The Inquirer has put up a quick hands on look at the Skylake powered laptop.  The touchscreen resolution will satisfy most users, at 13.3" 2560x1440 but the shiny coating on it may not.  While the keyboard does hinge completely over to allow you to use the device in tablet mode, however The Inquirer found it a bit heavy to be comfortable while using it as such.  For peripheral support you have three USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, a full-size HDMI port and a SD card reader.  The 2.5GHz dual core i7-6500U is paired with 8GB of RAM and there was a 512GB SSD installed in the model The Inquirer spent some time with.  Check it out here.


"Regardless, the recent launches of Windows 10 and Intel's 6th-generation Core processors - nicknamed Skylake - have prompted a refresh of HP's portable PCs. We went hands-on at a preview event in London to see what, besides an updated CPU, the latest Spectre x360 has to offer."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Source: The Inquirer

Google to merge Chrome and Android into their One True OS

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2015 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged: chrome, Android, google

It has been long suspected that eventually Google would merge their two operating systems into one and we now have a rumoured date, 2017.  An Android runtime for the Chrome OS already exists and almost any Android app can be modified to run on a Chrome powered device but we now have confirmation that the two will finally merge under the Android brand.  The new OS will remain open sourced and programmers may be enticed into programming more applications as they would only need to make one application instead of needing to write two versions.  Pop by The Inquirer for more speculation.


"ALPHABET SUBSIDIARY Google (still sounds weird, right?), is reportedly planning to merge Chrome OS and Android into a single platform."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Corsair's KATAR is an Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse with Pro Features

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2015 - 12:05 AM |
Tagged: KATAR, gaming mouse, DPI tuning, corsair, ambidextrous, 8000 DPI, 1000 Hz polling rate

Corsair has introduced their new Katar gaming mouse, designed with input from professional gamers and boasting an 8000 DPI optical sensor and 1000 Hz polling rate. And the Katar also features an ambidextrous design and a retail of just $39.99.


Not many gaming mice are geared towards both right and left-handed players, and Corsair’s compact Katar mouse is also very lightweight – which may not be everyone’s preference, but still a feature for longer sessions.

“Katar’s compact and ultra-lightweight 85g ambidextrous design makes it supremely comfortable to play with all day, whether you’re left or right-handed, and its rubber side grips mean gamers always have a firm hold, no matter how intense the action gets.”

The mouse also features “Pro Player Mode”, which Corsair explains “allows gamers to take advantage of pre-configured performance and tuning settings used by the world’s top players”. There are also 4 programmable buttons and on-the-fly DPI tuning on top of the 1000 Hz polling rate and 8000 DPI sensor, making this seem like a very capable little gaming mouse.


Here are the specifications from Corsair:

  • Designed for winning: Created with the help of top pro-gaming teams around the world.
  • Pro player mode: Get up to speed with preconfigured performance and tuning settings customized by the world’s top players.
  • Compact, ultra-light weight design: At just 85 grams, it can help you react more quickly and reduce fatigue.
  • 8,000 DPI optical sensor: Extreme accuracy for FPS and MOBA gaming.
  • Zero lag interface: 1,000Hz polling rate pushes the limits of the USB protocol.
  • Ambidextrous Shape: Optimized textured rubber sides grips for left and right handed players.
  • Four programmable buttons: Take control with extensive customization -- anything from simple remaps to complex macros.
  • On-the-fly DPI tuning: Instantly adapt your mouse speed to the situation for total command of any environment
  • MSRP: $39.99


More information is available at Corsair’s product page, and the Katar will be available for purchase in November. Corsair has a pre-order page up here, and Newegg already has a product page up, with availability listed as November 16.

Source: Corsair

Just Picked Up: Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 09:36 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, windows 10

As some have noticed, my recent “Just Delivered” post for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller was not very... wireless. Simply put, the Elite does not come with a wireless adapter for Windows, because that would be useless for the console-only crowd, and its price was already high enough. While it was released on October 20th, the Xbox Canada website gave a server error for its product page until the 22nd.

It seemed like a bit of a rushed launch, to say the least.


Well, when I popped into EB Games on my walk today, I was surprised to find that they have stock. Yay. Installation was relatively simple. Open the box, stick it into an available USB port, wait for Windows 10 to recognize it, put batteries in your gamepad, turn the controller on, press both sync buttons, and wait until the Xbox logo (on the controller) turns a solid glow. From then on, you just need to turn the gamepad on and off by pressing and holding the Xbox logo, which takes about a count of fifteen to turn off.

A couple of additional notes. First, the adapter is said to support up to eight controllers. This is great, especially for indie developers who are interested in party games. Also, the ability to update controller firmware will be added via the “Xbox Accessories” app from Windows Store, which is the same one used to rebind gamepad inputs. That update will be available on November 12th (see "Headset audio issues through the controller"). Thanks to an anonymous comment for this info!

Also, this means that you pretty much should not get Xbox One accessories unless you're planning to run Windows 10.

Microsoft Publishes Windows 10 Build 10576 to Fast Insiders

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

It's unclear which changes will make it into the general release November update, but Insiders are still getting features early. Microsoft has just published Build 10576, which contains a few interesting additions, but one that stands out. Microsoft Edge will be able to cast (unprotected) content to any Miracast and DLNA device on your network. This could be something like a WDTV Live or an Amazon Fire TV. It might even work with the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, but that's just speculation from a quick Google search.


So basically, it works with YouTube, Facebook, Pandora, and other sources. It will not work with Netflix or Hulu, which use EME, though.

There are quite a few Known Issues with this build, though. Volume gets ducked when the system gets a notification, some devices will bluescreen if their display resolution is odd, a few codecs are still missing (although that last issue was around for a couple of builds).

If I were to guess, I would expect that these features are targeted for Threshold 2 in November. I doubt that we have seen anything scheduled for Redstone 1 yet, but I could be wrong.

Source: Microsoft

So Twitch Bought All 403 Episodes of Joy of Painting...

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged:, twitch, bob ross

Today would have been Bob Ross's 73rd birthday. He passed a little over twenty years ago, in July 1995, after a few years of battling lymphoma. He was best known for his long-running TV series, The Joy of Painting, which aired on PBS (and elsewhere) for just over eleven years.


I mention this because Twitch broadened their horizons a bit, creating a category for users to broadcast creative works, called “Creative”, such as painting and pumpkin carving. This seems like a large pivot from playing games, although it isn't really. For a long time, Twitch allowed users to publish game development in their Game Development “game”. I, personally, have been doing this for a little under a year, creating a game called “Check It!” entirely on video stream (it's like Chess, but with designed levels that could be even based on a 64 x 64 or larger grid, have holes and corridors, etc.). The “Creative” channel is really a just a tip-toe away from that. It's also something that people have been doing on sites like LiveStream (and probably even Justin.TV back in the day) for a long time.

Kicking off the “Creative” group is a channel for Bob Ross. Twitch purchased all 403 episodes of The Joy of Painting, and are playing them in a marathon that started at 5pm ET. As of this publishing, they just started episode 2. I don't know what they will do when they run out, but we'll probably find out in a little over a week. Hopefully it will be on a loop or something.

Hopefully, now more people will know it's there.

Source: Twitch

Podcast #373 - Samsung 950 Pro, ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q, Steam Link and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Samsung, 950 PRO, NVMe, asus, ROG Swift, pg279q, g-sync, nvidia, amd, steam, steam link, valve

PC Perspective Podcast #373 - 10/29/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 950 Pro, ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q, Steam Link 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: - Share with your friends!

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

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

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


Now that's a big SSD, Novachips comes in 4TB and 8TB

Subject: Storage | October 29, 2015 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: novachips, Scalar Series, 4TB SSD, 8TB SSD, HLNAND

Yes, if you have the money you can now pick up SSDs of 4TB or larger, but you will be paying a premium.  Novachips uses HLNAND to acheive this density, a technology that The SSD Review describes as being similar to Thunderbolt in that it daisy-chains together flash memory to allow high access speeds even when the storage medium is stacked this high.  Novachips uses a proprietary NVS3800 controller which is ARM-based and provides eight channels.  Check out the full review to see these drives in action but before you get too excited the MSRP of these drives is going to be about $0.65/GB.


"Novachips has just introduced the worlds largest capacity notebook SSDs through its development of HLNAND and The SSD Review has the exclusive first review of both. Their Scalar 4/8TB SSDs are the first single controller 2.5" SSDs of these volumes, and both have top tier SATA 3 speedsa along with a low heat and power draw."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


This laptop is open source from the hardware up

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2015 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: open source, arm, Cortex A9, debian, Novena

A pair of engineers in Singapore, Andrew "Bunny" Huang and Sean Cross, have developed a working laptop which was designed to be completely open sourced, with no proprietary drivers or software of any kind.  The Novena laptop is powered by a Cortex A9 and an FPGA and runs Debian, even communications are handled by a software-defined radio board.  This is more of a proof of concept than a marketable machine but the links at The Register will take you to the details on how you could build one yourself.  Even the bezel is open source and modifiable, it is a laptop with an upgradable screen!


"This week, the pair developing the Novena open laptop have provided an update on their work. The idea is to develop a usable system that is completely open to customization and scrutiny – from the electronics to the firmware to the operating system to the applications."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

GIGABYTE Adds Thunderbolt 3 Support to Existing Z170 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 29, 2015 - 11:01 AM |
Tagged:  Z170X-Gaming GT,  Z170X-Gaming 7, Z170X-Gaming G1, thunderbolt 3, motherboard, gigabyte, firmware

GIGABYTE has announced support for Intel Thunderbolt 3 for three existing Z170 motherboards after receiving certification from Intel.


The motherboards include the GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7. How do you get Thunderbolt 3 if you own one of these boards? Simply update to the latest firmware.

“Users that wish to upgrade their motherboard can download an updated version of the firmware from GIGABYTE’s website. Once the user installs the updated firmware, Thunderbolt™ 3 support will be enabled on the motherboard.”

GIGABYTE has provided quick links to access the firmware update page for each motherboard:


Thunderbolt 3 on the motherboards is powered by Intel’s controller, and is available via USB Type-C connector on the motherboards to provide bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s, double that of Thunderbolt 2.


Android to iPhone Day 31: Battery Life and Closing

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2015 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android, A9

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:


It has been too long since my last update to this story, and I promised a final answer when it comes to our view of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of battery life. If you remember back to some of our previous posts, the iPhone 6s actually has a smaller battery in it than the previous iPhone 6 did; the same is true for the Plus model as well.

Model Battery Size
iPhone 6 1810 mAh
iPhone 6s 1715 mAh
iPhone 6 Plus 2910 mAh
iPhone 6s Plus 2750 mAh

Clearly Apple knew that would be a contentious specification change from year to year, but the company has clearly done a lot to make sure it doesn't affect the battery life and usability of the iPhone. First, the new Apple A9 SoC is built on a smaller process technology; both Samsung and TSMC are making chips for the phones at 16nm and 14nm, and along with that process technology change comes an inherent power efficiency gain. Changing process nodes does not always magically make an existing architecture better performing or more efficient, but Apple's engineers are more than capable of being able to achieve that. After all, when you have unlimited funds and an edict never make a misstep, it helps.

The other change that came with the iPhone 6s and Plus is the move to iOS 9, which promises to improve battery and processing efficiency along the way. In the past, we have all heard rumors or had experiences with users of older phone models seeing decreased performance or decreased battery life when upgrading to the latest version of iOS. That may be the true, and I am not going to attempt to validate those claims here today, but it does make some sense that the latest OS would be tuned for the latest hardware.

If you're Apple, you don't want to have to make the battery in the new phones smaller than the old phones. It's a line item in a review that stands out to the general consumer - "WHAT? This year's model has a SMALLER battery??" - and could have a dramatic impact on sales and perception. But Apple also couldn't make the new phone any thicker as the same immediate response would take place. In order to add in support for the new 3D Touch and Taptic Engine technology the phones had to sacrifice a bit of space behind the screen. The result is a slightly thinner, and smaller capacity, battery.


Image source: iFixit iPhone 6s Teardown

But let's talk about usability. In several instances in this series of editorials I have mentioned my extremely positive impressions from battery life in my normal use. The phone just seems to last longer than my Motorola Droid Turbo did, even with the Droid Turbo's much larger (3000 mAh) battery. Apple's control over the operating system, and to some extent the amount of interaction and capability that third party applications have, allows them to do more with less. And as a result you can drastically improve surrounding experiences: phone size, weight, design, included hardware features, etc.

There have definitely been days where my iPhone 6s would have been dead before I made it to my bed had I not had an external battery with me. But those were always extreme cases and include little to no service at a camp ground with the family, a wedding where I took hundreds of photos and videos, a 7am to 2am day where we had a site maintenance issue and I was on the phone (yes, talking!) for several hours in total. I don't think there is a scenario of use where the Android devices I have had would ever surpass the battery life of the iPhone 6s. And that's an impressive feat all things considered.

But like many of you reading this, I like hard numbers. Data, graphs and empirical results. To get some numbers I ran the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus through our standard PC Perspective Wi-Fi Battery testing process. We have a custom site that allows us to cycle through legit, real websites in a cycle of 20, pausing and scrolling on each to closely simulate how a user would surf.


The biggest winner here is the iPhone 6s Plus, pulling in nearly 9 hours of continuous use in our web browsing test. The OnePlus 2, with a battery size of 3,300 mAh, can't keep up with the flagship iPhone product of the class of form factor, able to muster only 7.5 hours of use, a full 20% less than the 6s Plus. The iPhone 6s, using the same Apple A9 processor, pulls in than 6.6 hours of battery life in our Wi-Fi test, more than 1.5 hours more than the LG G4, one of the flagship Android phones of this past summer.

It's not exhaustive, but I think the results speak clearly about where the iPhone 6s stands in the current smartphone ecosystem. It has outstanding battery life, though there are plenty of rival Android phones on market currently that could match it. The key difference is that Apple is able to do it with less physical battery, and thus make a sleeker device. Seeing the added battery life of the iPhone 6s Plus does make me wonder if I would be willing to sacrifice my pockets for the extra security it offers. What I really want though is an iPhone 6s that is a bit thicker, offering up the same level of battery capacity as the larger phone. I know many users would be willing to swap the cache of sexy iPhone industrial design for the ability to make last call without a wall plug completely reliably.

Wrapping up the Experiment

It's been just over 30 days now in my Android to iPhone experiment, so the big question needs to be answered: will I be sticking with the iPhone 6s or going back to one of the newer Android devices like the refresh Nexus phones?

The Apple iPhone 6s will stay in my pocket.

Honestly, the answer surprises me - I did not expect this result when I placed the order button on those many weeks ago. I have always been a proponent of the openness of Android, the flexibility that offered in terms of applications and OS access, but at the end of the day, I'm just a person using a phone. I have had only one instance of a crash/lock up on the iPhone 6s in my usage and it is reliably fast and responsive, something that eventually faded on the Droid Turbo. The camera takes fantastic photos, the application ecosystem offers more range than the Google Play Store and the global integration of Touch ID makes using LastPass less frustrating, accessing my eTrade bank accounts quicker and much more. Those are just some of the reasons for the switch for me.

I don't propose that everyone should make the same move. If you are a power user that likes to root your phones and change Android ROMs, you won't really find the same level of support for that on iPhones. If you welcome side-loading applications easily to your device (which is something I do miss) for development or experimenting purposes, Android is still the way to go. But it's hard to see the majority of the consumer base of smartphones in this country using both devices for extended periods and not see Apple as the more polished and friendly experience. That's what happened to me.

I look forward to trying out the upcoming Android phones in the near term and I won't ever say that I won't be switching back. Google continues to push the OS development further and offers features sometimes years of ahead of Apple. I'm working on getting both a 6P and 5X Nexus phone to try out; I'm curious to see how the implementation of the fingerprint sensor and improve cameras might shift my view.

And who knows, maybe in early 2016 we'll see a revamped editorial series going back to Android, or even Windows Phone? Easy now, don't get crazy Ryan.

Just Delivered: Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, pc gaming

The Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller launched yesterday, and mine arrived in the early afternoon by mail. It was not a review unit, I bought it at retail, but I intend to publish my thoughts on the device in the near future. I am currently thinking up tests and benchmarks to run it through. Be sure to look out for that. It will be told from the perspective of a PC gamer who does not own an Xbox One console, and who does not intend to get one.


I have been using it over the last two days, off and on, however. I must say, it is pretty solidly built from what I can tell. The thumb sticks rolls around with basically zero grinding sensation, and the D-Pad feels precise (although that will need to be actually tested). It does feel just a bit awkward for games that center on the D-Pad though, because my left thumb feels more natural somewhere between it, the left thumb stick, and the “view” (back) button. It is certainly better than a standard Xbox 360 gamepad for “16-bit” style games, but probably not a step-up from USB-based knock-off SNES controllers for enthusiasts who go for that sort of thing.

It's definitely the best offering that I've used for titles like Super Meat Boy, though... even as far back as Windows 98/XP era. Granted, I didn't dip too far into the niche companies.

So keep an eye out for our later review. It will probably be one of the few that exclusively focus on the PC, and was written by someone who could potentially see themselves buying one... because I did. A word of warning though -- the controller's firmware still cannot be updated without an Xbox One console (although the Xbox Accessories app to customize it is available for free in the Windows Store). I've reached out to Xbox PR asking for any update on that situation, and the answer will probably be a big part of the review.

ASUS’ New ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Flagship Now Available For $500

Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2015 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, Maximus VIII Extreme, e-atx, ddr4, ASUS ROG, asus

Motherboards supporting Intel’s latest “Skylake” processor have been trickling out for months, and ASUS is no stranger to the Z170 chipset. After several months of waiting, its flagship motherboard is now available under the Republic of Gamers brand. The ROG Maximus VIII Extreme is a monster both in size – it’s an E-ATX board – and features. It’s not cheap though with an MSRP of $499.

The Maximus VIII Extreme is clad in black and red with silver capacitors. A massive heatsink keeps the Extreme Engine Digi+ power delivery hardware cool even under heavy overclocking conditions. Nested between the VRMs and the four DDR4 slots (up to 3866MHz) is the LGA 1151 processor socket. This motherboard can be used with the OC Panel II hardware overclocking module which can sit outside the case or in a 5.25” drive bay. There are also overclocking buttons on the top-right corner of the board itself.

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme EATX Skylake Motherboard.png

Storage options include eight SATA 6Gbps ports (two SATA Express), a M.2, and a separate U.2 MVMe connector. Networking is handled by Intel Gigabit Ethernet (1219-V) and a 3x3 802.11ac WiFi NIC. ASUS is further including its SupremeFX 8-channel audio chipset.

When it comes to PCI-E expansion, this board delivers with four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (which can run at x16/x8/x8/x4) and two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. 

Rear I/O includes:

  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 3.1 (3 x Type A + 1 x Type C)
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 5 x Analog Audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF optical audio out
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x PS/2 combo port
  • 3 x Wi-Fi antenna connectors
  • 1 x Clear CMOS + 1 x BIOS Flashback button

Needless to say this board has everything but the kitchen sink (though that might be unlocked with a BIOS update...) in it. It is squarely aimed at extreme overclockers and gamers wanting to run triple or quad multi-GPU setups along with Intel’s latest Skylake CPU. The flagship hardware will cost you though, with street prices just under $500 USD. If you’re interested in this beast, keep an eye out for reviews (which appear to be scarce at the moment).

Source: ASUS

Zotac shows off its SFF talents with the ZBOX MAGNUS

Subject: Systems | October 28, 2015 - 05:19 PM |
Tagged: zotac, Magnus EN970, SFF, GTX970M, zbox

Zotac's ZBOX series has evolved from a small device that let you browse the internet and play some online games with modest requirements to the latest Magnus EN970 which is a full fledged gaming PC that is smaller than your average laptop.  The small size of the Magnus limits the power of the CPU you can use, this model comes with a low power Core i5-5200U  but the graphics card makes up for it.  The EN970 branding implies that this has a mobile GTX 970 installed, which is technically true but if you are expecting equivalent performance to a desktop GTX 970 you are in for a bit of disappointment.  The GTX970M performs more on par with a GTX 960 but calling it a 960M would not be completely accurate either; expect good performance at 1080p which is what your TV likely runs at. That is the expected use for this PC and a dead giveaway is the four HDMI out that the Magnus provides which is a connection far more common on TVs than DisplayPort is. 

To see how well it can game and play movies check Bjorn3D's full review here.


"Mini-PC’s usually come with a lot of compromises due to their small size. They for example rarely are fit for any serious gaming. The Zotac Magnus EN970 though is different. It still is a small mini-PC, although not as small as some of the other Zotac mini-PC’s we have reviewed, but it comes with a discrete graphics chip, a GTX960 (or more exact a variant of the GTX970M), which means it suddenly becomes a viable gaming machine for your TV."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Corsair Introduces Carbide 88R Micro-ATX Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 28, 2015 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: micro-atx, enclosure, corsair, case, Carbide 88RR, carbide

Corsair has introduced a new enclosure that delivers solid looks, a roomy internal layout, and a low $49.99 MSRP.


Image credit: Corsair (via TechPowerUp)

The Carbide Series 88R is a micro-ATX enclosure that offers plenty of room for cooling inside, with dual 120 mm fan mounts up front and on top of the case along with the 120 mm rear fan. There's a 5.25" bay as well for your optical drive needs, and while the open layout doesn't leave a ton of room for storage there is still space for a pair of 3.5" hard drives - with mounts for two SSDs as well.

With 383 mm of GPU clearance even the longest graphics cards will fit, though CPU (up to 150 mm) and PSU (up to 160 mm) support is reduced compared to the typical mid-tower. The Carbide 88R measures 378 x 198 x 440 mm (HxWxD), and weighs 3.65 kg.


Image credit: Corsair (via TechPowerUp)

The $49.99 price point is very attractive, and the Carbide 88R looks very good for a budget offering with a nice brushed finish front panel and a large side window to show off your build. So when can you buy one? Availability, sadly, was not announced.

Source: TechPowerUp

Here's a launch trailer for you, watch it instead of pre-ordering

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars Battlefront, gaming

EA continues to tease us before the November 17th launch date of Star Wars Battlefront, now with a brand new launch trailer which you can watch below.  Enjoy the trailer, fondly remember the open beta and put that credit card down!  If you don't want Day 1 DLC, games that are only mostly ready for Primetime at launch and Deluxe Pre-order Editions that cost over $100 then don't pre-order games!  If you don't encourage them by buying things sight unseen then the problem will go away.

"This is the News You Are Looking For."

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Source: EA

What better way to celebrate the release of Star Wars Battlefront than making a motorized AT-AT

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, AT-AT, 3d printing

You will need some experience to build this AT-AT successfully as there are a total of 69 individual parts in 28 STL files and you will need to wire in a 9V battery, a 90 rpm motor, and a switch to make it walk.  The finished design will stand about 12" tall and walk on flat surfaces, you will need to modify the design if you want sound effects or a lightsaber created hole in the bottom to insert explosives but the basic design is more than impressive.  You can see the AT-AT in action at MAKE:Blog and the creator, Dan Olson, has posted the full project at Thingiverse if you want to build your very own.


"This is a walking model of an AT-AT from the Star Wars films. It is powered by a 9V battery, a 90 rpm motor, and a switch. Everything else is 3d printed using roughly 750 grams of filament."

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Tech Talk

Source: MAKE:Blog