All | Editorial | General Tech | Graphics Cards | Networking | Motherboards | Cases and Cooling | Processors | Chipsets | Memory | Displays | Systems | Storage | Mobile | Shows and Expos
Subject: Motherboards | October 29, 2015 - 11:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
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.
Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2015 - 09:46 AM | Ryan Shrout
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:
- Day 0: What to Expect
- Day 3: Widgets and Live Photos
- Day 6: Battery Life and Home Screens
- Day 17: SoC Performance
- Day 31: Battery Life and Closing
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.
|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 Apple.com 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.
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 10:02 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2015 - 08:38 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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).
Subject: Systems | October 28, 2015 - 05:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Checklist to Build a Gaming PC @ Hardware Secrets
- TechPowerUp 120 Hz Build Guide @ techPowerUp
- Shuttle XPC Nano Barebone NC01U Review @ Madshrimps
- Beelink GTQ 4K Android Media Center @ Benchmakr Reviews
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 28, 2015 - 02:48 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 02:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Kooky Ooky: I Am Bread & Goat Simulator Team Up @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Spooky games, spooky deals @ GoG
- Become A Weapon: Deus Ex – Mankind Divided @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Total War: Warhammer Out April 28th, Bringing Chaos @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- No Man's Sky lands on PC and PS4 in June 2016 @ HEXUS
- Vaporware Dreams – Infinity: Battlescape On Kickstarter @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2015 - 01:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Google is reportedly following in Apple's footsteps and making its own chips @ The Inquirer
- Oracle Java 'no longer the greatest risk' to US Windows PC users @ The Register
- Oracle ships first Sparc M7 systems with security in silicon @ The Inquirer
- Intel sprinkles Saffron on its chips, to satisfy its Big Data appetite @ The Register
- Template Management in LibreOffice 5 @ Linux.com
- Micron’s had its chips … and expects even more. Thanks Intel! @ The Register
Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel
In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.
The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.
Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.
So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2015 - 05:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: MakerBot Replicator, 3d printer
Some university boffins have been using their melons to modify a commercially available 3D printer to print out a variety of organs with collagens, alginates and fibrins. They modified a MakerBot Replicator with a custom syringe-based extruder, which they made on the MakerBot and have provided the STL files for anyone who wants to make one. Their process is much different than current organ printing techniques, instead of printing live cells on a existing scaffold they print the organs in a hydrogel support bath which keeps the cells alive and also acts as a support structure. They call the bath FRESH and it is of a consistency that allows the print head to move through the gel easily but holds the extruded cells firmly where they are printed, making it possible to print with much greater accuracy and flexibility that you would when printing freely suspended in the air. Their full article is available to those who are interested if you click through the link at The Inquirer.
"A RESEARCH TEAM FROM Carnegie Mellon University has hacked a commercial 3D printer to create models of hearts, arteries, bones and brains out of biological material."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Immersion Cooling Drives Server Power Densities To Insane New Heights @ Slashdot
- Ubuntu 15.10: Wily Werewolf – not too hairy, not too scary @ The Register
- Android Security: How's BlackBerry going to fix it? @ The Register
- Mac OS X applications are leading the PC @ The Inquirer vulnerability war
- ARM64 Vs ARM32 -- What's Different For Linux Programmers? @ Slashdot
- ASRock G10 Gaming Router @ Kitguru
- With Intel at Shoreditch Studios, London @ Kitguru
- Oracle and Intel team up to torment IBM @ The Inquirer
- Russian subs prowling near submarine cables: report @ The Register
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway #8 : Dell Portable HDD!
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2015 - 11:22 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Strafe RGB Silent, mechanical keyboard, keyswitches, keycaps, gaming keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX Silent, Cherry MX
Corsair has introduced the Strafe RGB Silent mechanical keyboard, which is the first keyboard to use the Cherry’s new MX Silent keyswitches.
“With a sophisticated noise dampening system integrated into each key, the Strafe RGB Silent offers all the legendary precision and feel of German-engineered Cherry MX mechanical key switches, but up to 30% quieter.”
Corsair says that “you simply won’t find a Cherry MX Silent keyswitch anywhere else”, so if the noise from mechanical key-switches bothers you (or those around you) this looks like a great alternative. So how is it silent? Corsair explains:
“Rather than using rubber O-rings or other quick-fix external fittings to reduce key noise, the Cherry MX Silent uses a patented fully-integrated noise reduction system built into every key, greatly reducing key bottoming-out and spring-back noise. The result is a keyswitch that’s up to 30% quieter, making Strafe RGB Silent the ideal choice for gamers that demand the tactile feel of a mechanical key, but prefer a quieter operation to not disturb their partner, kids or co-workers.”
The keyboard also features full RGB lighting powered by Corsair’s on-board controller, and offers “individual multi-color dynamic backlighting for nearly unlimited lighting customization, effects and personalization”. Lighting profiles can also be downloaded using Corsair’s RGB Share service.
Corsair lists these other features for the new keyboard as well:
- USB pass-through port allows the easy connection of a mouse, gaming headset or phone to a PC
- Full-length soft-touch wrist rest offers comfort for even the longest gaming sessions
- Gaming grade circuitry provides 100% anti-ghosting and full 104 key rollover ensuring every critical key press registers
- Two included sets of custom textured and contoured keycaps, vital keys offer enhanced grip and feel for FPS or MOBA games
The Strafe RGB Silent carries a 2-year warranty from Corsair and is available now with an MSRP of $159.99 from Corsair’s web store, or exclusively at Best Buy (in North America).
Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2015 - 12:08 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, valve, steam link, steam hardware, Steam Controller, steam, game streaming
Last week we posted a video that looked over the new Valve Steam Controller and I offered some feedback and input on the new hardware. It was interesting, to say the least, and took some getting used to, but in the end I was surprised by how easy some things were, and how different other things felt. It's an interesting experiment for $50 or so, but it definitely is not a product I recommend all of our readers invest in immediately.
But what about the Steam Link device? This second piece of the puzzle is a small unit that sits near your TV or entertainment system, with an HDMI output, USB inputs, integrated wireless connectivity and Ethernet support. The goal is to stream Steam games from your primary PC without the need for a second computer. Instead, much like the NVIDIA GameStream technology that we have seen for a couple years now, the Steam Link receives a video stream from the gaming PC, accepts input from a controller or keyboard/mouse, and loops it all back.
Specifications (from Valve website):
- 1080p resolution at 60 FPS
- Wired 100 Mbit/s Fast Ethernet and Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO) networking abilities
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- Bluetooth 4.0
- HDMI out
- Supports Steam Controller (sold separately,) Xbox One or 360 Wired Controller, Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710, or keyboard and mouse
In the Box
- Steam Link
- Power cable and adapter
- HDMI 2.0 cable
- Ethernet cable
To get my full take on it, and to see me test out a handful of games using the Steam Link in our office, check out the video above. The short answer is that game streaming technology is still hit or miss: some titles work great others are an immediate turn off. Want to play a fast paced FPS game? You're going to hate it if you have any kind of PC gaming experience already. Maybe you need to catch up on those recent indie games released on the PC but want to sit on your couch? Steam Link will do the trick.
Again, the device is only $50, so it's not a significant investment for most people, and it might be worth trying if you have some time and are interested in checking out the technology out for yourself.
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2015 - 07:28 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, edge
One thing that will not be in the November update for Windows 10 is extensions for Microsoft Edge. The browser should be updated in general, that feature needs a little more time before it is ready for the public. The official statement has the feature arriving in “a future Windows 10 update in 2016”. We still don't know how frequent these updates will occur, but Mary Jo Foley has sources that say “Redstone 1” will be released in June (give or take maybe?).
To me, this means that it's either far off, or completely mundane.
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
We have been expecting a relatively major update to Windows 10 in the October-ish (which at some point the rumors slipped to November-ish) time frame since the OS launched in July. We already know much of what will be in it, based on the preview builds being sent to Windows Insider participants, so the contents are not really a surprise either. It will update a few user interface elements, tweak how System manages memory, and allow clean installs using Windows 7 and 8.1 product keys that qualify for Windows 10 upgrades.
Really, the major news is how the update will be delivered. I was honestly expecting to do the in-place upgrades that each new Insider build forced upon users. This made sense to me. If you have installed Windows 7 recently, you will know that it is a several-hour updating process that involves several reboots and gigabytes of patches. The build metaphor makes sense in a “Windows as a Service” universe, where all PCs are pushed from milestone to milestone with a few incremental patches in between.
Apparently, it will just be pushed down Windows Update in an item named “Windows 10 November 2015”. That's it. Pretty much the same experience as downloading service packs over Windows Update in previous versions. Oddly familiar, especially given the effort they put into the in-place upgrade interface over the last year and a bit.
Maybe we'll see that in future feature-updates?
Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2015 - 10:54 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: warner bros, steam, release, re-release, pc gaming, batman arkham knight
Four months after being pulled from sale due to performance woes, Batman: Arkham Knight is being re-released for PC (along with a new patch containing all of the fixes) on October 28.
Image credit: Warner Bros.
From the official statement:
“At 10 am PDT, Oct. 28th, Batman: Arkham Knight will be re-released for the PC platform. At the same time we’ll also be releasing a patch that brings the PC version fully up-to-date with content that has been released for console (with the exception of console exclusives).
This means that next week, all PC players will have access to Photo Mode, Big Head Mode, Batman: Arkham Asylum Batman Skin, and character selection in combat AR challenges.”
After such a terrible introduction and long absence after its unprecedented removal from sale on Steam, is there any chance Warner Bros. will still attempt to charge full price for the re-released game? Such a move might be considered controversial, but we will have to wait and see as pricing was not announced.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | October 24, 2015 - 04:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ROG Swift, refresh rate, pg279q, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, geforce, asus, 165hz, 144hz
In the comments to our recent review of the ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q G-Sync monitor, a commenter by the name of Cyclops pointed me in the direction of an interesting quirk that I hadn’t considered before. According to reports, the higher refresh rates of some panels, including the 165Hz option available on this new monitor, can cause power draw to increase by as much as 100 watts on the system itself. While I did say in the review that the larger power brick ASUS provided with it (compared to last year’s PG278Q model) pointed toward higher power requirements for the display itself, I never thought to measure the system.
To setup a quick test I brought the ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q back to its rightful home in front of our graphics test bed, connected an EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti (with GPU driver 358.50) and chained both the PC and the monitor up to separate power monitoring devices. While sitting at a Windows 8.1 desktop I cycled the monitor through different refresh rate options and then recorded the power draw from both meters after 60-90 seconds of time to idle out.
The results are much more interesting than I expected! At 60Hz refresh rate, the monitor was drawing just 22.1 watts while the entire testing system was idling at 73.7 watts. (Note: the display was set to its post-calibration brightness of just 31.) Moving up to 100Hz and 120Hz saw very minor increases in power consumption from both the system and monitor.
But the jump to 144Hz is much more dramatic – idle system power jumps from 76 watts to almost 134 watts – an increase of 57 watts! Monitor power only increased by 1 watt at that transition though. At 165Hz we see another small increase, bringing the system power up to 137.8 watts.
Interestingly we did find that the system would repeatedly jump to as much as 200+ watts of idle power draw for 30 seconds at time and then drop back down to the 135-140 watt area for a few minutes. It was repeatable and very measurable.
So, what the hell is going on? A look at GPU-Z clock speeds reveals the source of the power consumption increase.
When running the monitor at 60Hz, 100Hz and even 120Hz, the GPU clock speed sits comfortably at 135MHz. When we increase from 120Hz to 144Hz though, the GPU clock spikes to 885MHz and stays there, even at the Windows desktop. According to GPU-Z the GPU is running at approximately 30% of the maximum TDP.
Though details are sparse, it seems pretty obvious what is going on here. The pixel clock and the GPU clock are connected through the same domain and are not asynchronous. The GPU needs to maintain a certain pixel clock in order to support the required bandwidth of a particular refresh rate, and based on our testing, the idle clock speed of 135MHz doesn’t give the pixel clock enough throughput to power anything more than a 120Hz refresh rate.
Pushing refresh rates of 144Hz and higher causes a surprsing increase in power draw
The obvious question here though is why NVIDIA would need to go all the way up to 885MHz in order to support the jump from 120Hz to 144Hz refresh rates. It seems quite extreme and the increased power draw is significant, causing the fans on the EVGA GTX 980 Ti to spin up even while sitting idle at the Windows desktop. NVIDIA is aware of the complication, though it appears that a fix won’t really be in order until an architectural shift is made down the road. With the ability to redesign the clock domains available to them, NVIDIA could design the pixel and GPU clock to be completely asynchronous, increasing one without affecting the other. It’s not a simple process though, especially in a processor this complex. We have seen Intel and AMD correctly and effectively separate clocks in recent years on newer CPU designs.
What happens to a modern AMD GPU like the R9 Fury with a similar test? To find out we connected our same GPU test bed to the ASUS MG279Q, a FreeSync enabled monitor capable of 144 Hz refresh rates, and swapped the GTX 980 Ti for an ASUS R9 Fury STRIX.
The AMD Fury does not demonstrate the same phenomenon that the GTX 980 Ti does when running at high refresh rates. The Fiji GPU runs at the same static 300MHz clock rate at 60Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz and the power draw on the system only inches up by 2 watts or so. I wasn't able to test 165Hz refresh rates on the AMD setup so it is possible that at that threshold the AMD graphics card would behave differently. It's also true that the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU is running at less than half the clock rate of AMD Fiji in this idle state, and that may account for difference in pixel clocks we are seeing. Still, the NVIDIA platform draws slightly more power at idle than the AMD platform, so advantage AMD here.
For today, know that if you choose to use a 144Hz or even a 165Hz refresh rate on your NVIDIA GeForce GPU you are going to be drawing a bit more power and will be less efficient than expected even just sitting in Windows. I would bet that most gamers willing to buy high end display hardware capable of those speeds won’t be overly concerned with 50-60 watts of additional power draw, but it’s an interesting data point for us to track going forward and to compare AMD and NVIDIA hardware in the future.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 23, 2015 - 03:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, amd, nvidia, steam os
Steam Machines powered by SteamOS are due to hit stores in the coming months and in order to get the best performance you need to make sure that the GPU inside the machine plays nicely with the new OS. To that end Phoronix has tested 22 GPUs, 15 NVIDIA ranging from a GTX 460 straight through to a TITAN X and seven AMD cards from an HD 6570 through to the new R9 Fury. Part of the reason they used less AMD cards in the testing stems from driver issues which prevented some models from functioning properly. They tested Bioshock Infinite, both Metro 2033 games, CS:GO and one of Josh's favourites, DiRT Showdown. The performance results may not be what you expect and are worth checking out fully. As well Phoronix put in cost to performance findings, for budget conscious gamers.
"With Steam Machines set to begin shipping next month and SteamOS beginning to interest more gamers as an alternative to Windows for building a living room gaming PC, in this article I've carried out a twenty-two graphics card comparison with various NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon GPUs while testing them on the Debian Linux-based SteamOS 2.0 "Brewmaster" operating system using a variety of Steam Linux games."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING @ [H]ard|OCP
- Gigabyte GTX 950 Xtreme @ Modders-Inc
- The EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI GTX 980 Ti Sea Hawk Review @ Hardware Canucks
- EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
- PNY GTX 950 2GB @ eTeknix
- MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning 6GB @ Kitguru
- PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 390 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Processors | October 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon D, SoC, rumor, report, processor, Pentium D, Intel, cpu
Intel's Xeon D SoC lineup will soon expand to include 12-core and 16-core options, after the platform launched earlier this year with the option of 4 or 8 cores for the 14 nm chips.
The report yesterday from CPU World offers new details on the refreshed lineup which includes both Xeon D and Pentium D SoCs:
"According to our sources, Intel have made some changes to the lineup, which is now comprised of 13 Xeon D and Pentium D SKUs. Even more interesting is that Intel managed to double the maximum number of cores, and consequentially combined cache size, of Xeon D design, and the nearing Xeon D launch may include a few 12-core and 16-core models with 18 MB and 24 MB cache."
The move is not unexpected as Intel initially hinted at an expanded offering by the end of the year (emphasis added):
"...the Intel Xeon processor D-1500 product family is the first offering of a line of processors that will address a broad range of low-power, high-density infrastructure needs. Currently available with 4 or 8 cores and 128 GB of addressable memory..."
Current Xeon D Processors
The new flagship Xeon D model will be the D-1577, a 16-core processor with between 18 and 24 MB of L3 cache (exact specifications are not yet known). These SoCs feature integrated platform controller hub (PCH), I/O, and dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and the initial offerings had up to a 45W TDP. It would seem likely that a model with double the core count would either necessitate a higher TDP or simply target a lower clock speed. We should know more before too long.
For futher information on Xeon D, please check out our previous coverage:
- New Intel Xeon D Broadwell Processors Aimed at Low Power, High Density Servers @ PC Perspective.
- Xeon D Podcast Discussion at 0:40:35 (YouTube or downloadable audio).
Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2015 - 01:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: google, youtube, youtube red
Google is taking advantage of its near monopoly of online streaming once again. Earlier this year they dropped ad revenue for content creators down to 55%, significantly lower than competitors such as Spotify. Now they are essentially repeating what they did just over a year ago with independent artists, either you sign up for YouTube Red or your content will no longer be visible to anyone. This will only effect those content contributors who make a fair amount of ad revenue, the average uploader will not need to pay the $10/month to enusre their videos are not blocked. One question that doesn't seem to be answered at either The Register nor Techcrunch is the effect YouTube Red will have on ad revenue, if you sign up for the service as a viewer you will no longer see ads, so how exactly will content creators make anything from ads that no longer show up or generate revenue?
"YouTube Red is Google's ad-free subscription service, and rolls up both music and video for $9.99 a month. Google Play subscribers will be opted in, and find that Red videos will be available offline too. Amateur uploaders aren't affected: what Google wants to do is nail down producers who have drawn an audience, and who already draw a tangible quantity of shared advertising revenue."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ubuntu 15.10 'Wily Werewolf' Released @ Slashdot
- China: OK, Seagate, you may now kiss your bride (Samsung's disk biz) @ The Register
- Microsoft will release first major Windows 10 update in early November @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft introduces Visual Studio beta bug bounty programme @ The Inquirer
- Acer establishes subsidiary to enter electric vehicle power system and battery industries @ DigiTimes
- NVIDIA GeForce Experience Quarter 4 2015 Update Analysis @ NitroWare
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 23, 2015 - 01:49 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: tape out, rumor, report, Radeon 400 Series, radeon, graphics card, gpu, Ellesmere, Baffin, amd
Details are almost nonexistent, but a new report claims that AMD has reached tape out for an upcoming Radeon 400 series of graphics cards, which could be the true successor to the R9 200-series after the rebranded 3xx cards.
Image credit: WCCFtech
According to the report:
"AMD has reportedly taped out two of its next-gen GPUs, with "Ellesmere" and "Baffin" both taping out - and both part of the upcoming Radeon 400 series of video cards."
I wish there was more here to report, but if this is accurate we should start to hear some details about these new cards fairly soon. The important thing is that AMD is working on the new performance mainstream cards so soon after releasing what was largely a simple rebrand accross much of the 300-series GPUs this year.