CES 2015: AMD Announces World's First Shipping FreeSync Monitors

Subject: Displays | January 5, 2015 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: viewsonic, Samsung, Nixeus, monitor, LG Electronics, freesync, display, ces 2015, CES, benq, amd

Today AMD announced that they will be shipping 7 new Freesync displays in 2015 with their partners, BenQ, LG Electronics, Nixeus, Samsung, and Viewsonic.

amd-freesync-technology.png

As we learn more about these individual FreeSync-enabled models we will provide updates, and AMD has stated that there will be models shipping this month.

The full PR announcement from AMD appears below:


AMD today announced the expansion of the FreeSync ecosystem as technology partners including BenQ, LG Electronics, Nixeus, Samsung, and Viewsonic showcased their upcoming commercially available FreeSync-enabled displays at the 2015 International CES. The unveiling of new FreeSync-enabled displays demonstrates the industry's commitment to open standards-based technology that enables improved gaming by synchronizing dynamic refresh rates of the displays to the frame rate of AMD Radeon™ R-Series graphics cards and current generation APUs. The result greatly reduces input latency and helps reduce or eliminate visual defects during gaming and video playback. The new displays range in size between 24" to 34", supporting refresh rates of 30 to 144 Hz, and resolutions of 1080p up to Ultra HD, offering a variety of options for every gamer's needs and at virtually every price point.

"The broad adoption of FreeSync technology from our partners shows how the industry strongly values the same open ecosystem and quality that AMD strives for," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president, ISV/IHV Partner Group, AMD. "Gamers who use FreeSync technology with AMD Radeon™ R-Series graphics and AMD latest generation of APUs can rest assured that they're enjoying the best possible experience."

Monitors from BenQ, LG Electronics, Nixeus, and Samsung are on display at AMD's booth, San Polo rooms 3402 - 3404 at The Venetian at CES Tech West. Displays are expected to be available in market starting this month with additional models set to launch in early 2015.

List of Announced Displays

Manufacturer Model # Size Resolution Refresh Rate
BenQ XL2730Z 27" QHD (2560x1440) 144Hz
LG Electronics 29UM67 29" 2560x1080 75Hz
LG Electronics 34UM67 34" 2560x1080 75Hz
Nixeus NX-VUE24 24" 1080p 144Hz
Samsung UE590 23.6", 28" 4K 60Hz
Samsung UE850 23.6", 28", 31.5" 4K 60Hz
Viewsonic VX2701mh 27" 1080p 144Hz

 


BenQ_XL2730Z.jpg

The BenQ XL2730Z (image credit: BenQ)

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Source: AMD

CES 2015: We Just Spotted the ASUS PG27AQ 4K 60 Hz IPS G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: pg27aq, ips, gsync, g-sync, ces 2015, CES, asus, 60hz, 4k

Sure, the ASUS press conference hasn't started yet, but we did find a new monitor on display in the lobby. The ASUS PG27AQ is a 27-in monitor with a 4K resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Even better is that this is an IPS panel and utilizes NVIDIA G-Sync technology. That's right, a real-life IPS G-Sync monitor!

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I don't have many other details yet but I was told that pricing is not set and availability would be in the "second half of 2015." The physical construction is identical to that of the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q. Unfortunately ASUS was only playing back a 4K video on the system, no real-world G-Sync testing quite yet. The ASUS press event starts in just about 45 minutes so stay tuned!

pg27rq-2.jpg

So, who's interested?

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CES 2015: Philips Announces 34" Curved UltraWide 21:9 IPS Display, the 1440p BDM3490UC

Subject: Displays | January 5, 2015 - 12:08 PM |
Tagged: uwqhd, ultrawide, philips, ips, curved lcd, ces 2015, CES, 3440x1440, 21:9

Philips is showing a new 34-inch, 21:9 monitor at this year's CES, and the ultra-wide monitor will feature a curved IPS panel with 3440x1440 resolution.

philips_1.jpg

The BDM3490UC monitor has a 60 Hz IPS panel with a native response time of 14 ms, though this can be adjusted down to 5 ms using the "SmartResponse" control. This model also features MultiView technology which enables two active connections to be used simultaneously, allowing multiple devices to share the screen.


Specifications:

  • Panel Type: AH-IPS 
  • Backlight: W-LED 
  • Panel Size: 34.1" 
  • Resolution: 3440 x 1440 @ 60 Hz 
  • Response time (typical): 14 ms (Grey to Grey) 
  • SmartResponse (typical) 5 ms (Grey to Grey)
  • Brightness (typical): 300 cd/m² 
  • Contrast ratio (typical): 1000:1 
  • Viewing angle: 178° (H) x 178° (V) @ C/R > 10 
  • Display colors: 1.07 billion colors (8-bits + FRC) 
  • Display inputs: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 1, HDMI 1.4 (w/MHL) x 1, HDMI 1.4 x 1 
  • USB: USB 3.0 x4 (1 with BC 1.2 Fast Charging) 
  • Audio in/out: PC audio in, headphone out 
  • Built-in speakers: 7 W x2 with DTS sound 
  • Tilt: -5/20 degree 
  • Power supply: External 
  • Color: Black

philips_2.jpg

No word on pricing or availability just yet.

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Source: Philips

CES 2015: Intel Launches Broadwell-U (15W and 28W)

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: iris graphics 6100, iris, Intel, hd graphics 6000, hd graphics 5500, ces 2015, CES, broadwell-u, Broadwell

When Intel launched Broadwell-Y in November, branded Core M by that point, they had a 4.5W processor that was just a little slower than a 15W Haswell Ultrabook CPU. This is quite a bit of power efficiency, although these numbers are maximum draw and might not be exactly proportional to average power under load.

intel-broadwell-dieshot.jpg

At CES, Intel has launched Broadwell-U, which takes this efficiency and scales it up to 15W and 28W SKUs. The idea is that the extra thermal headroom will scale up for extra CPU and GPU performance. These are all BGA-attached components, which means that these processors need to be physically soldered to the motherboards -- they are destined for OEMs.

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As an example of Broadwell-U's increased performance, the Core M 5Y70 has a base frequency of 1.1 GHz that can boost to 2.6 GHz; the top-end Broadwell-U has a base clock of 3.1 GHz and boosts to 3.4 GHz. From Core i3 up to Core i7, regardless of TDP, each of these processors are dual-core with HyperThreading (4 threads total). There is also a single Pentium and two Celeron SKUs, which are dual-core without HyperThreading (2 threads total).

intel-broadwell-chart02.png

Its GPU receives a large boost as well, particularly with the 28W SKUs receiving Iris Graphics 6100, although Iris Pro Graphics (6200 and 6300) do not yet make an appearance. If we had access to the number of execution units and we assumed the same instruction-per-clock count as Iris Graphics 5100, we would be able to calculate a theoretical FLOP figure, but that is information that we do not have. It would make sense if it were 48 execution units, twice Core M and consistent with the official die shot that Intel doesn't actually identify by product number. This would give it about 845 GFLOPs of performance, or about an OEM NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 (the retail GTX 460 cards were about 4% faster than the OEM ones).

It is also within 2% of Haswell's Iris 5100 theoretical GFLOPs, albeit with a 15% drop in clock rate.

intel-broadwell-chart03.png

From a features standpoint, the GPU is a definite step-up. It has “Enhanced” hardware support for VP8, VP9, and h.265 (HEVC) video and 4K UltraHD output, wired or by Intel WiDi. Broadwell's iGPU was designed with DirectX 12 in mind and supports OpenCL 2.0 -- leaving NVIDIA behind in that regard, since AMD added that API in last month's Omega driver.

Intel is slightly behind in OpenGL support however, claiming 4.3 compatibility while AMD is at 4.4 and NVIDIA is at 4.5. This could mean that these GPUs do not (unless a future driver changes this) support “Efficient Multiple Object Binding”, “Sparse Texture Extension”, or “Direct State Access”. Then again, they could support these features as extensions or something, because it is OpenGL and extensions are its thing, but you know -- they're obviously missing some part of the spec, somewhere.

intel-broadwell-summary.jpg

This leaves Broadwell-H and Broadwell-K, high performance BGA and socketed LGA respectively, to launch later in the year. These products will have significantly higher TDPs and stronger performance, at the expense of battery life (a non-issue for the desktop-bound -K parts) and heat.

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CES 2015: SanDisk updates affordable SSD Plus, expands Ultra II SSD to mSATA

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: ces 2015, CES, Ultra II, SSD Plus, ssd, sandisk, msata

SanDisk has launched a few items of note this morning. There is a combination USB 3.0 / OTG capable flash drive, but the truly big news is a few updates to existing product lines.

First is an mSATA form factor of their existing and very popular Ultra II SSD. This is expected to perform similarly to its 2.5" SATA brother, but in the smaller form factor needed for some laptops, tablets, and so equipped desktop motherboards.

The other and perhaps most significant launch is the 'SSD Plus'. This is a sequel to SanDisk's original desktop SSD product, and is aimed squarely at the budget consumer that wants an SSD but doesn't necessarily need the best performing product.

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The SSD Plus is SanDisk's attempt to beat the competing SSD prices right out of the gate, with launch MSRP's at $70 for 120GB ($0.58/GB) and $110 for 240GB ($0.46/GB). Those are among the lowest launch MSRP's we've seen to date, and that's not taking into account the sales that typically take place in the months after a given SSD launches.

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We are going to be reviewing these as soon as we get them in. They are not meant to be super fast, but we doubt they would be what would be considered slow. So long as they are decent performers, that's a very good launch price.

Full press blast after the break.

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Source: SanDisk

CES 2015: TP-LINK Archer C2600 and C3200 802.11ac Routers

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 5, 2015 - 07:35 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, 802.11ac

At some point, routers have stopped becoming a pure commodity device. Some manufacturers are differentiating themselves based on CPU performance or available RAM, while others compete on software features. In this case, TP-LINK is introducing two routers: one with four antennas, and the other with six. They are both designed around connection quality for multiple devices that are communicating simultaneously.

TPLink-Archer-C2600.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C2600

The Archer C2600 is the four-antenna product that uses Qualcomm MU-MIMO EFX, which can connect to three devices at once. TP-LINK states that the platform can establish four connections, but they are reserving the fourth to assist the other three by somehow reducing interference. They do not provide details about their specific process (whether it's constructive interference, choose the best signal, etc.) and I do not have a deep understanding of practical implementations in this area.

TPLink-Archer-C3200.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C3200

The Archer C3200 is the six-antenna SKU that can operate on three bands simultaneously. Rather than sharing a single chunk of the 5.0 GHz spectrum, or dropping some devices down to 2.4 GHz, it can manage two segments of 5.0 GHz simultaneously (and a third at 2.4 GHz). As the number of connected devices increase, the router will automatically assign them to the best block.

Both routers also include Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks, and USB 3.0 ports (they do not state how many) to attach storage to. The C3200 advertises “Substantial RAM” without providing any hard numbers.

No pricing information is currently provided, but they are expected to be available in Q3 2015.

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Source: TP-LINK

CES 2015 Podcast Day 1 - Lenovo, NVIDIA Tegra X1, MSI, USB 3.1 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: video, usb type-c, usb 3.1, Tegra X1, tegra, podcast, nvidia, msi, Lenovo, ces 2015, CES

CES 2015 Podcast Day 1 - 01/04/15

It's time for podcast fun at CES!  Join us as we talk about the first day of the show including a lot of announcements from Lenovo, MSI, the NVIDIA Tegra X1, USB 3.1 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 47:58

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CES 2015: MSI Z97I Gaming ACK Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 03:24 AM |
Tagged: z97i gaming ack, z97, video, msi, M.2, ces 2015, CES

We have definitely seen our share of Z97 motherboards using the Mini-ITX form factor by now, but the new MSI Z97I Gaming ACK offers a couple of unique twists worth noting. First, the board features both wireless and wired Killer Networking components, has four SATA 6 Gb/s ports and a total of six USB 3.0 ports. Click BIOS, OC Genie and Command Center are all MSI specific features found on the ACK.

z97i-1.jpg

The most interesting feature though is the rear-mounted M.2 port that allows the user to install a full 10 Gb/s M.2 storage device on the back side of the motherboard! Obviously you will have to be sure that the stand offs on your case will allow the spacing required for an M.2 device, but MSI doesn't think it will be a problem for most cases. It's a very interesting way to integrate more hardware on a design that is incredibly space limited. (Note: you'll have to watch the video to see the rear mounted M.2 port.)

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CES 2015: MSI AG240 4K Edition Gaming All-in-One

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: msi, ces 2015, CES, all-in-one, AIO, ag240, 4k

Our review of the MSI AG270 Gaming AIO was pretty eye opening; I really didn't expect to find that kind of gaming capability inside an all-in-one chassis. Building on that success, MSI is preparing for a March release of the AG240 4K Edition, which as the name suggests, includes a 24-in 4K IPS monitor.

ag240-1.jpg

Other hardware specifications include a 4th Generation Haswell processor, a yet-to-be-named GTX 900-series mobility GPU from NVIDIA and up to 3x mSATA SSDs running in RAID-0 (MSI sure loves its SuperRAID). The 4K screen itself definitely looked nice though I am curious about the choice to only include a single GPU in a system with that many pixels. You can still play your games at 1080p though should GPU horsepower be a concern.

I'm sure we'll have a review sample sometime this quarter, so stay tuned!

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CES 2015: Storage Visions Sightings Part 1: HGST He8, DriveSavers, and SanDisk

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: CES, storage visions, ssd, sandisk, hgst, He8, DriveSavers, ces 2015

Many of the storage announcements this year are under embargo until tomorrow or later in the week. Fortunately there was plenty of things on display out in the open - meaning fair game for me to photograph and present to you in this quick photo walkthrough.

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The HGST Ultrastar He8 was on display. This is a 7-platter Helium filled HDD. The lower density atmosphere enables more platters and higher spin speeds without producing too much heat for the drive to handle.

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The added platters also enable a very large capacity of 8TB, all while consuming less power than most other available non-He HDD's, which is attractive for enterprise usage where racks upon racks are filled with these drives.

The display model we saw here was covered with plexiglass, but the DriveSavers folks had one completely open in all of its glory:

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Seeing the head pack out of a drive is rare, as you're supposed to only get to that point in a clean room environment (unless you don't want your data back, that is). DriveSavers told us the challenge to recovery from an He HDD is getting the Helium back into the housing prior to closing it back up after a failed component replacement. Here's a closer look at that head pack. Note the small logic die built into the ribbon - this component needs to be mounted as close as possible to the heads to minimize interference and signal loss from the very high frequency signal coming from the read heads:

DSC06909_resize.JPG

DriveSavers also has recently announced data recovery capability and partnership with SanDisk. There is a separate announcement we will be covering later in the week, but since we're talking about SanDisk, here is a look at the non-embargoed products we were allowed to show for now:

DSC06899_resize.JPG

From left: UltraDIMM, FusionIO Atomic, Optimus Max, Optimus MAX (opened), Optimus ECO. More interesting here is that SanDisk is able to pack 4TB into the Optimus form factor. They accomplish this by a unique folding PCB design shown below in unfolded form:

DSC06900_resize.JPG

That's it for this update, more to follow shortly.

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CES 2015: Lenovo Shows Off New 24" ThinkVision Display

Subject: Displays | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: thinkvision, thin bezel, PCM, neo-blade ips, Lenovo, ips, ces 2015

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkVision X24

Lenovo is also expanding its line of professional displays with the ThinkVision X24. This monitor is a slim full HD display with a thin bezel aimed at business users desiring single or dual monitor setups. The ThinkVision X24 is a 23.6" Neo-Blade IPS panel with a resolution of 1920x1080. Lenovo used pre-coated metal (PCM) for the rear panel to get the monitor to as thin as 7.5mm. The chrome stand supports tilt adjustments but not swivel or height.

ThinkPad_THINKVISION_X24_sh01.png

The ThinkVision X24 supports HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, 7ms response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 250cd/m^2 brightness, and 178-degree viewing angles. The left and right bezels are extremely thin to allow for favorable dual monitor setups. The ThinkVision X24 provides a new budget option ($249) for the ThinkVision family.

The ThinkVision X24 will be available in April starting at $249.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2015: Lenovo Launches Improved ThinkPad Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, notebook, Lenovo, ces 2015, carbon, business

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkPad Notebooks and Ultrabooks

Lenovo, a leading manufacturer of PCs, recently reached a milestone with the production of its 100 millionth ThinkPad, code-named Eve, which will be on display at CES. The company has a plethora of business machines and updates are coming to the entire family of ThinkPads including the X, T, L, and E series. According to Lenovo, the company has opted for 5th gen Core i processors for most of the machines to provide the best performance and vPro capabilities.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a third generation ultrabook that is lighter and faster than before. The 14" ultrabook builds upon its predecessor with an updated (optionally backlit) keyboard, three button clickpad, and up to a WQHD touchscreen display. The X1 Carbon with its carbon fiber cover weighs 2.9 pounds and is 17.72mm thick (18.46mm if you opt for a touchscreen).

It is powered by up to a 5th Generation Intel Core i7 (Broadwell-U) processor, four to eight GB of DDR3 memory, and up to a 512GB PCI-E SSD. 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 OneLink, Ethernet, analog audio, and a 720p webcam round out the system's connectivity options.

For the road warrior that finds the 14" X1 Carbon too unwieldy, the new ThinkPad X250 is a slightly lighter (starting at 2.88 lbs) PC with a much smaller footprint. The X250 features full HD (1080p) displays with optional touchscreens, backlit keys, the latest clickpad, and updated internal hardware. Lenovo is using Intel's 5th Generation Core i processor, HDD, SSHD, and SSD options, up to 8GB DDR3 memory, and its Power Bridge dual battery technology for a speedy portable with respectable battery life. 

ThinkPad X250 3.jpg

Beyond the X-series, Lenovo has added new models to the ThinkPad T, ThinkPad L, and ThinkPad E series. Lenovo has managed to refine the hardware while keeping the same design principles that have made the predecessors successful.

ThinkPad T550 1.jpg

Lenovo ThinkPad T550

The new machines are thinner, lighter, have better battery life, more ports, high resolution display options, and use Intel's 5th Generation Core processors.

Lenovo's business focused products are slated for availability early this year with the majority of hardware coming in the next two months. For laptops, pricing and availability work out as follows:

Lenovo Notebooks Starting Price Availability
ThinkPad X1 Carbon $1,249 January
ThinkPad X250 $1,149 February
ThinkPad T450s $1,099 February
ThinkPad T450 $849 February
ThinkPad T550 $999 February
ThinkPad E550 $599 February
ThinkPad E450 $599 February
ThinkPad L450 $699 February

The new machines are welcome evolutionary updates to the established ThinkPad pedigree. What are your thoughts on the new notebooks?

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2015: Lenovo Thinks That You'll Love Stackable Accessories

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: CES, usb 3.0, think stack, stack, power bank, peripherals, Lenovo, hotspot, ces 2015

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkPad Stack

The ThinkPad Stack represents a set of independent stackable accessories for business users to pair with their notebook or tablet. The Stack pieces can be placed atop each other interchangeably using a magnetic interlock system and can pass both power and data through the stack in order to connect to power and/or a PC with fewer cables. At launch, there are four accessories: a Bluetooth speaker, portable power bank, wireless hotspot, and a 1TB USB 3.0 hard drive. You will be able to stack any combination of the four accessories together or remove a piece to take with you to a meeting.

THINKPAD_STACK_sh03.jpg

The portable hard drive connects over a micro USB 3.0 connection to support fast transfer speeds. The wireless access point is able to take either a RJ45 wired Ethernet or 3G/4G cellular connection (using a wireless dongle) and broadcast out a Wi-Fi connection to allow you to share the Internet connection with multiple devices. The Bluetooth speaker accessory is aimed at business users wanting a simple device that can be used for conference calls (it has two 2W speakers and a noise cancelling microphone along with 3.5mm auxiliary and micro-USB line inputs). Finally, the power bank has a 10,000 mAh battery capacity and can charge two devices at 5V 2.1A on one port and 1A on the other port. Note that the speaker and hotspot have their own batteries as well.

THINKPAD_STACK_sh05.jpg

The ThinkPad Stack accessories will be available in April with pricing as follows:

Stack Accessory Pricing Availability
ThinkPad Stack Bluetooth Speaker $89.99 April
ThinkPad Stack 10000mAh Power Bank $49.99 April
ThinkPad Wireless Access Point / 1TB Hard Drive Kit $199.99 April

As such, the entire stack of stacks will run you just under $340 USD. The full stack weighs 861 grams or about 1.9 pounds and measures 136mm x 76mm (5.35" x 2.99"). It is a neat concept that should complement Lenovo's PCs well.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2015: NVIDIA Tegra Press Conference Live Stream

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: video, tegra, press conference, nvidia, live stream, live, ces 2015, CES

Tonight at 8pm PT / 11pm ET NVIDIA will be hosting its annual press conference from CES 2015. While I fully expect the majority of the information to be on Tegra-related products, there is a chance they could slip in some GeForce products as well. I leave nothing past NVIDIA with a 2 hour window.

You can watch the live stream of the event right here and I am going to be live blogging from the event as well, pending Internet capability inside the conference room.

 

Live Blog NVIDIA CES 2015 Press Conference

 

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CES 2015: MSI Implements USB 3.1 and USB Type-C Connector

Subject: Motherboards, Storage, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: usb type-c, usb 3.1, msi, ces 2015, CES

If you are like me, you probably thought the world of USB was going to be stable for a bit. Not so much as it turns out! MSI was showing off a couple of new products in its suite at CES 2015 that showcase new performance levels for USB as well as a much-needed new connector type.

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First up, USB 3.1, the upgrade that includes performance as high as single channel Thunderbolt, 10 Gbps. MSI will be shipping USB 3.1 on a new revision of the GT72 gaming notebook as well as on the X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard shipping in February or March. Each will feature two ports of USB 3.1 capable of some impressive speeds.

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These results are based on a RAID-0 implementation of a pair of Intel SSD 730 SSDs running on a prototype USB 3.1 capable controller that MSI didn't want us to show you. Seeing USB speeds reaching as high as 694 MB/s are impressive, exceeding that of the best USB 3.0 speeds we have seen at 470 MB/s. Considering we are looking at very early devices and software implementations, MSI's results on this board are fantastic.

Maybe more exciting than a speed boost to some USB users is implementation of the USB Type-C connector on the MSI Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard due in the same time frame.

usb3.1-3.jpg

There are several advantages to this new connector for both users and OEMs. First, it is reversible meaning you can plug plug the connector in upside down and it will work (finally!). It is also small, able to fit on the slimmest phones and tablets. Both sides of the cable are going to be the same, so any device that can use a Type-C connector will be able to use most any cable.

usb3.1-4.jpg

Power delivery also improves - 10 watts (5V at 2A), 60 watts (12V at 5A) and even up to 100 watts (20V at 5A)! And all of this power can be sent through that tiny Type-C connector as well leaving the possibility of charging your laptop through the same connector as your phone.

Expect both USB 3.1 as well as Type-C connectors to be a big shift in the middle of Q1.

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CES 2015: Storage Visions: Western Digital SATA Express SSD+HDD Spotted

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: CES, western digital, storage visions, ssd, SATA Express, hybrid, hdd, ces 2015

At the SATA-IO booth at Storage Visions, they have a functional demo of Western Digital prototype hybrid HDD/SSD's.

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These are not hybrid in the traditional sense, as the SSD portion (128GB JMicron based controller driving Toshiba flash in the case of these prototypes) is logically separated from the HDD portion (a standard 4TB Black in this case).

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Given that a SATA Express link can simultaneously pass a PCIe 2.0 x2 link in addition to a SATA 6Gbit/sec link, this one unit can link an SSD and an HDD simultaneously and independently. Above you see the standard SATA Express connector, and below is how those pins are connected at the drive itself:

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Note the additional pins at what is usually the black side of the connector.

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The rest of the connector is mostly a standard SATA connector that you are used to seeing.

At the demo, we saw a single 3.5" hybrid unit booting from the SSD portion and using the 4TB HDD for mass storage, all from the same device. The second demo had a separate boot drive and linked a pair of these prototype units in a dual RAID. Configured through Windows dynamic volumes, a RAID of the HDD's offered the increased performance you might expect from a pair of 4TB WD Blacks. The SSD portion of each unit was also RAIDed, and we saw their combined throughput as just over 1GB/sec. That was not much more than what a pair of RAIDed SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs would do, but realize this was being accomplished in addition to (and independently of) the HDD portions.

We were not allowed to start removing screws, but here's a look at the accessible portion of the logic board for this drive:

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There is a JMicron controller paired with a single package of Toshiba flash. Toshiba has shown they can contain 128GB in a single package, so no problems there.

We're not sure where this technology is headed as the recent trend has been towards sticking with the standard SATA link for mass storage and M.2 SSDs plugged directly into the added port we've been seeing in many recent motherboards. We'll keep an eye on this technology moving forward, but for now at least we have seen it in the flesh and fully functional.

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CES 2015: MSI GS30 Shadow Notebook with Discrete GPU Dock Station

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: shadow, msi, gs30, gpu, docking station, ces 2015, CES

Laptops with external graphics - we have been chasing this ghost for a long time everyone. We have seen them attempted through ExpressCard slots and more recently through Thunderbolt. MSI has a different plan with the GS30 Shadow - a physical PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot.

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The GS30 Shadow starts with a laptop - a 13.3-in 1080p design that is surprisingly slim and sleek. It includes a Core i7-4780HQ processor with Iris Pro 5200 graphics, 16GB of DDR3 memory, RAID-0 performance with a pair of M.2 slots and Gigabit networking. Battery life is likely pretty low on its own as there doesn't seem to be much space for a large battery.

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But what really makes the GS30 Shadow stand out is the docking station included. This is a base measuring about a foot long by 6 inches wide and tall. It connects to the laptop through a physical x16 PCIe 3.0 slot along the back of the machine and mechanically latches into place. There is a very old-style feeling to the connection - you pull a latch and use a physical lock button to keep it in place. But once installed, the GS30 sits on top of the docking station and is ready for use.

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The docking station ships with a 450 watt desktop style power supply and supports a full size, desktop-class dual-slot graphics card. Also included are a set of speakers embedded in the front, four USB 3.0 ports as well as audio input and output connections. You will also be able to install additional storage inside the docking station; it adds room for a 3.5-in hard drive.

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The GS30 Shadow with docking station will ship this month and has an MSRP set at $1999. If you value the laptop alone at $1400-1500 then you are paying a premium of around $500 for the docking station capability. This is another new device from MSI that we are eager to test and see if it stands up to real-world usage scenarios as well as it sounds like it might. Could we finally have a good option for mobility + gaming that works for gamers?

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CES 2015: MSI GT80 Titan SLI 18-in Gaming Notebook with Cherry MX Brown Keyboard

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: titan, sli, msi, GTX 980M, gt80, cherry mx brown, ces 2015, CES

Back in late October MSI announced the GT80 Titan gaming laptop that included an impressive array of features, the most interesting of which was the full-size Cherry MX Brown keyboard embedded in the chassis. Seriously.

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At CES this week we got hands on with the beast and I have to say I came away pretty impressed. Hardware powering the system includes an Intel Core i7-4980HQ processor, a pair of GTX 980M GPUs running in SLI, 24GB of DDR3 system memory, up to quad M.2 SSDs in RAID-0, Killer wired and wireless networking and more. All of that hardware sits under the top portion of the bottom of the notebook - the LED backlit Cherry MX Steel Series keyboard takes up the entire depth of the GT80 in the bottom portion.

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Despite its appearance, the GT80 Titan is similar in size to some of the other 17/18-in Alienware notebooks currently selling, but they obviously don't include a Cherry keyboard will full travel switches. MSI also claims that access to the system memory, M.2 storage, 2.5-in HDD location and optical drive through the top panel allows for reasonable upgrade options down the road. Even the two MXM modules for the GTX 980M cards can be changed through the bottom of the GT80. (Mobile GPU upgrades have always been problematic.)

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The GT80 Titan will be available next week and will start at $3299 with a $3499 option including the faster Intel processor. That is an incredibly high price for a gaming machine that is less "portable" than "transportable" but it would be hard to get more gaming horsepower in a smaller package anywhere else. We are looking forward to a review unit showing up shortly after our return! Stay tuned!

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CES 2015: MSI Announces GTX 970 Gaming 100ME - 100 millionth GeForce GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 970, gaming, ces 2015, CES, 100me

To celebrate the shipment of 100 million GeForce GPUs, MSI is launching a new revision of the GeForce GTX 970, the Gaming 100ME (millionth edition). The cooler is identical that used in the GTX 970 Gaming 4G but replaces the red color scheme of the MSI Gaming brand with a green very close to that of NVIDIA's.

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This will also ship with a "special gift" and will be a limited edition, much like the Golden Edition GTX 970 from earlier this year.

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MSI had some other minor updates to its GPU line including the GTX 970 4GD5T OC with a cool looking black and white color scheme and an 8GB version of the Radeon R9 290X.

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CES 2015: Acer Announces New 27-inch Gaming Monitors Including IPS G-SYNC

Subject: Displays | January 3, 2015 - 07:55 PM |
Tagged: monitor, ips, gaming, g-sync, ces 2015, CES, acer, 144hz

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Today Acer has announced two new gaming monitors with "world first" designs. First we have the XB270HU, which is the world’s first NVIDIA G-SYNC gaming monitor with an IPS panel. This is a big step for a category that has predominantly featured TN panels, though it was not stated what the response time of the IPS panel in use might be. We can expect 178° viewing angles and that nice IPS color accuracy, however. The XB270HU also features tilt, swivel, and height adjustment.

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IPS provides realistic color, wide viewing angles, and this sweet logo

Next is the Acer XG270HU (yes, this is a different model name), which Acer says is "the world's first gaming monitor with an edge-to-edge frameless display", which would allow for gapless multi-monitor setups. This one does not feature IPS, but it has the advantage of a 1 ms response time. Inputs will include HDMI 2.0, DVI, and DisplayPort 1.2. The other added feature of the XG270HU is Acer "EyeProtect technology", which "eliminates screen flicker through a stable supply of power", as well as proprietary non-glare and screen dimming features. Both XB270HU and XG270HU monitors have 27-inch displays with WQHD (2560 x 1440) resolution and 144Hz refresh rates.

These will available globally and begin shipping in March 2015.

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Source: Acer