Don't want Win10 patches? We have a patch for that

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2015 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft's decision to push out updates to non-enterprise Windows 10 without user intervention or even notification has been a bit of a hot topic recently.  While those of us who have been supporting machines for a while have all seen a bad Windows update or 10 which render machines unusable, however we have also seen machines over 100 updates behind that are completely riddled with malware, trojans and other nasties which would have been blocked if those updates had been applied.

Whichever side of that debate you fall on, thanks to the nosy reporters at The Register you now can have a choice.  They've posted a link to the "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter package in this recent article, a tool from Microsoft which would allow you to hide certain updates before they were installed and ensure that they are not installed in the future.  Patch Tuesday is gone but there will still be people keeping track of which updates are released so that if you encounter an issue you can roll back and hide that update.  Of course, that assumes you enabled System Restore, which is has been disabled by default in Windows 10.

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lifted from securityaffairs.co

"MICROSOFT HAS QUIETLY released a tool to stop Windows 10 downloading and installing everything it finds in Windows Update."

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Source: The Register

Zounds, the Amiga is 30 years old?

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2015 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: commodore, amiga

30 years ago Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry's voice introduced a computer which had people dropping their ZX Spectrums and Commie64's in awe, the original Commodore Amiga.  It had such incredible specifications, 256KB of RAM which was upgradable to 512KB, a Motorola 68000 CPU that could handle both 16 and 32 bit addressing and OCS graphics which could manage an unheard of 640×400 resolution with 12 onscreen colour or 4096 at  320x400.  There was one problem though, they were rarer than hen's teeth as Commodore vastly underestimated demand and overestimated their production capability.  If you happen to be in California then check out the link at The Inquirer for there is a celebration this weekend and you might still be able to score tickets.  It is amazing how far we have come in a mere generation.

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"1980S BEDROOM BRILLIANCE the Commodore Amiga computer has reached the ripe old age of 30 and is still blazing in the hearts and minds of anyone who took keyboard and joystick in hand and shut the door on their parents."

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Source: The Inquirer

Skyleak!

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2015 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: Intel Skylake, Intel

As always you should take these leaks with a bit of salt but if they are accurate Skylake may well offer enough enhancements to make a convincing argument for buying a new machine.  The GPU portion of the high end mobile processors will be 34-41% faster than the models available now, with the desktop seeing a moderate 28% jump for those who do not have an add-in card.  The low powered mobile model's performance is not much improved over the previous generation but the claimed 80% reduction in power usage is more than enough to make up for that.  

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SPECint benchmarks show that Skylak will offer a performance boost a bit over 10% but the added 1.4 hours of battery life is rather impressive, even the desktop part is more efficient with a 65W TDP.  As for accessories, Skylake will support 4k cameras and new and improved RealSense 3D cameras, Wake on Voice support and improved touch sensors.  You can see the other two leaked slides at FanlessTech.
 

Source: Fanless Tech

Acer Cloudbook Windows 10 PCs in August

Subject: Systems | July 24, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: acer, cloudbook, Chromebook

If you think about price when you think about Chromebooks, then Microsoft is hoping to have options in Windows 10 for you. Laptops that boot into a web browser still have interesting security and ease-of-use implications, which this will not address. From the previously mentioned cost standpoint though, full-featured Windows laptops can get down to those levels, especially when Microsoft helps out on the OS license fees.

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This is the more-expensive Chromebook running Google Chrome OS.

Acer will launch their Cloudbook line in August, with 11-inch and 14-inch versions, starting at $169. While you can get Chromebooks for $149, Acer's Chromebook 11 is currently selling for $179.99, which puts the Windows 10 model $10 cheaper than it. On the other hand, we don't know anything about the system specifications. It is possible that the Cloudbook could have less than an Intel Celeron with HD Graphics and 2GB of RAM -- but we hope not.

The Acer Cloudbook will not make Microsoft's July 29th launch date of Windows. Instead, as previously stated, look for it some time in August. Prices start at $169 USD.

Source: ZDnet

Rumor: NVIDIA Pascal up to 17 Billion Transistors, 32GB HBM2

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 24, 2015 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: rumor, pascal, nvidia, HBM2, hbm, graphics card, gpu

An exclusive report from Fudzilla claims some outlandish numbers for the upcoming NVIDIA Pascal GPU, including 17 billion transistors and a massive amount of second-gen HBM memory.

According to the report:

"Pascal is the successor to the Maxwell Titan X GM200 and we have been tipped off by some reliable sources that it will have  more than a double the number of transistors. The huge increase comes from  Pascal's 16 nm FinFET process and its transistor size is close to two times smaller."

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The NVIDIA Pascal board (Image credit: Legit Reviews)

Pascal's 16nm FinFET production will be a major change from the existing 28nm process found on all current NVIDIA GPUs. And if this report is accurate they are taking full advantage considering that transistor count is more than double the 8 billion found in the TITAN X.

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(Image credit: Fudzilla)

And what about memory? We have long known that Pascal will be NVIDIA's first forray into HBM, and Fudzilla is reporting that up to 32GB of second-gen HBM (HBM2) will be present on the highest model, which is a rather outrageous number even compared to the 12GB TITAN X.

"HBM2 enables cards with 4 HBM 2.0 cards with 4GB per chip, or four HBM 2.0 cards with 8GB per chips results with 16GB and 32GB respectively. Pascal has power to do both, depending on the SKU."

Pascal is expected in 2016, so we'll have plenty of time to speculate on these and doubtless other rumors to come.

Source: Fudzilla

Team Red gets NASty with QNAP

Subject: Storage | July 23, 2015 - 07:38 PM |
Tagged: TVS-x63, qnap, Puma, amd

AMD is exploring alternate product routes to raise their income and the latest seems to be the Puma powered QNAP TVS-x63.  It is a four bay NAS which is powered by the 2.4GHz AMD GX424-CC SoC which happens to have a 28 stream processor GCN Radeon clocked at 497 MHz.  It has a pair of gigabit ports with an optional add-in card offering a single 10Gb or two additional 1Gb ports, though that will raise you above the cost of the $630 base model. Bjorn3d found the power consumption to be higher than the competition but the overall operation was flawless.

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"The QNAP TVS-x63 marked the world’s first NAS featuring AMD processor. AMD’s new strategy is targeting the markets with high profit return and the company is returning to the server market. NAS, by extension, is like a small scale server, so it makes sense to see AMD putting their processors into these devices."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Bjorn3D

Crucial's 16GB Ballistix Elite 2666MHz, great frequency at the cost of timings

Subject: Memory | July 23, 2015 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: ddr4-2666, crucial ballistix, 16GB

DDR4 has certainly ramped up the frequencies but as we have seen with previous generations of RAM, the timings tend to get looser as that frequency increases.  Take for example Crucial's 16GB DDR4-2666 kit which sports timings of CAS 16, tRCD 17, tRD 17 and tRFC 36.  Indeed to overclock the RAM to 2808MHz, Bjorn3D had to change the timings to 19-17-17-36, however at that speed it nosed slightly ahead of the Patriot kit running at 2800MHz @ 16-18-18-36 so tweaking this RAM can pay off and the Crucial Ballistix MOD Utility will let you know if you are getting into Kenny Loggins' areas.  At $170 it will not break the bank and it will beat out at least some of the competition in performance, albeit by a very slight margin.

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"In this review we are going to be looking at one of the many DDR4 modules that Crucial offers for the 2011v3 CPU platform: the 2666Mhz 16-17-17-36 16GBs DDR4 Ballistix Elite Memory. So step inside and see how this memory stacks up."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

 

Source: Bjorn3D

Podcast #359 - AMD R9 Nano, 4TB Samsung SSDs, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2015 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, r9 nano, Fiji, Samsung, 4TB, windows 10, acer, aspire V, X99E-ITX/ac, TSMC, 10nm, 7nm

PC Perspective Podcast #359 - 07/23/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Nano, 4TB Samsung SSDs, Windows 10 and more!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

Interested in a $250 smartphone compatible mass spectrometre?

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2015 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: tricorder, spectrometer, SCiO

If you are leery of building your own Tricorder and need more that just biometric information about yourself then check out SCiO, unless you contributed to the Kickstarter and already have one.  It is a tiny mass near-infrared spectrometer which will allow you to scan objects to determine their chemical makeup and transmit the information to your phone; finally a way to compare apples and oranges!  The site also suggests you should be able to monitor the health of plants, get nutritional information on food items and even prove that there is absolutely nothing in that homeopathic snake oil other than C6H12O6 and H2O.  Other uses just suggest themselves, such as determining if jewellery is authentic or how degraded the rubber on your tires is.  Scanning an item will add it to a database hosted at SCiO, they describe it as "the world's first database of matter" others might use the phrase baseline sample.  Check it out right here if you use an iOS or Android device and there are educational kits for schools as well.

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"SCiO is the world's first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. Scan physical objects and receive instant and relevant information to your smartphone."

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NVIDIA Adds Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Bundle to GeForce Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 23, 2015 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, gtx, bundle, metal gear solid, phantom pain

NVIDIA continues with its pattern of flagship game bundles with today's announcement. Starting today, GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970 and 960 GPUs from select retailers will include a copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, due out September 15th. (Bundle is live on Amazon.com.) Also, notebooks that use the GTX 980M or 970M GPU qualify.

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From NVIDIA's marketing on the bundle:

Only GeForce GTX gives you the power and performance to game like the Big Boss. Experience the METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN with incredible visuals, uncompromised gameplay, and advanced technologies. NVIDIA G-SYNC™ delivers smooth and stutter-free gaming, GeForce Experience™ provides optimal playable settings, and NVIDIA GameStream™ technology streams your game to any NVIDIA SHIELD™ device.

It appears that Amazon.com already has its landing page up and ready for the MGS V bundle program, so if you are hunting for a new graphics card stop there and see what they have in your range.

Let's hope that this game release goes a bit more smooth than Batman: Arkham Knight...

Source: NVIDIA

AMD A8-7670K (Godavari) Launches with Steamroller

Subject: Processors | July 22, 2015 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, APU, Godavari, a8, a8-7670k

AMD's Godavari architecture is the last one based on Bulldozer, which will hold the company's product stack over until their Zen architecture arrives in 2016. The A10-7870K was added a month ago, with a 95W TDP at a MSRP of $137 USD. This involved a slight performance bump of +200 MHz at its base frequency, but a +100 MHz higher Turbo than its predecessor when under high load. More interesting, it does this at the same TDP and the same basic architecture.

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Remember that these are AMD's benchmarks.

The refresh has been expanded to include the A8-7670K. Some sites have reported that this uses the Excavator architecture as seen in Carrizo, but this is not the case. It is based on Steamroller. This product has a base clock of 3.6 GHz with a Turbo of up to 3.9 GHz. This is a +300 MHz Base and +100 MHz Turbo increase over the previous A8-7650K. Again, this is with the same architecture and TDP. The GPU even received a bit of a bump, too. It is now clocked at 757 MHz versus the previous generation's 720 MHz with all else equal, as far as I can tell. This should lead to a 5.1% increase in GPU compute throughput.

The A8-7670K just recently launched for an MSRP of $117.99. This 20$ saving should place it in a nice position below the A10-7870K for mainstream users.

Source: AMD

Saitek's X-55 Rhino has a HOTAS

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2015 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: input, saitek, X-55 Rhino, Mad Catz

With the revival of space sims recently, joysticks and HOTAS peripherals are once again being updated and selling.  If you are looking for more than just a joystick then check out Nikktech's review of the Saitek X-55 Rhino.  Not only do you get a joystick you also get a nifty looking dual throttle with seven 3-way toggle switches and a pair of rotary buttons and to top it off they use separate USB cables so you can put one away when not in use to save on desk space.  The joystick ships with four removable springs to allow you to choose the relative stiffness of your stick, or you can pull the spring out completely if you happen to swing that way.  At $160 is for those who really do plan to get a lot of use out of it but many people have already paid far more than that to get a fancy ship in Star Citizen so the market is certainly there.

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"If you were a teenager in the 90's then you probably know that compared to that time combat flight and space simulators are almost non-existent today mainly because this particular genre doesn't have as many fans as it used to (perhaps age has something to do with that). You see back then we had the joy of playing not one but several space simulators like the entire Wing Commander series (I/II/III/IV/V/Privateer), Frontier: Elite II and Frontier Wars, Tie Fighter, X-Wing, X-wing VS Tie Fighter, Starlancer, Freelancer and Decent: Freespace I/II along with many regular combat flight simulators like Strike Commander, F-14 Fleet Defender, Jane's ATF, Jane's IAF: Israeli Air Force and of course Falcon 4.0."

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Source: Nikktech

Bringing the Elder to Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, more Skyblivion progress

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: gaming, elder scrolls, skywind, skyblivion

While Morrowind is obviously superior to Oblivion there are those who would rather explore Cyrodiil in the middle of Tamriel.  Either way, it will be more pleasant to explore your old hunting grounds with the improvements to the engine made in Skyrim.  Not only are we now waiting on the brilliant modders behind Skywind to wrap up now the same group are also getting tantalizingly close to wrapping up Skyblivion.  If you don't have both games in your Steam inventory yet you should keep an eye out for deals.  There is a second trailer you can watch over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

"Recent videos show many, many minutes of progress on Skyblivion, trotting around the province of Cyrodiil, leaping into Oblivion gates, and pottering about the Shivering Isles. It looks a lot like Oblivion but in Skyrim, which is sort of the goal of the whole thing. Skyblivion!"

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Microsoft Office shows up in Google Drive

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2015 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: google, google drive, microsoft, office

As has happened recently with Dropbox, Box and Apple iCloud, Google Drive has adopted the Microsoft Office API which was released not to long ago, bringing Office Suite compatibility to their cloud.  As anyone who has actually tried it knows, the compatibility between Google's applications and Microsoft's Office Suite was more theory than fact.  This new plug-in will allow you to save Office files on your Google Drive and open and edit them from within your browser, as long as you are not using the Office 2016 preview which is not compatible. If this interests you then follow the links from The Inquirer to learn more.

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"GOOGLE HAS BECOME the latest big player to integrate with rival Microsoft's Office suite."

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Source: The Inquirer

Thinking of building a new system for summer?

Subject: Systems | July 21, 2015 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: recommedations, system build

While the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard is a great resource for those looking to build a new system sometimes a second opinion is warranted, especially if you are looking for a workhorse instead of a gaming rig.  The Tech Report just published their current recommendations for system builds, updating the Budget, Sweet Spot and High End suggestions as well as offering sample builds at the end.   Feel free to mix and match recommendations from TR and our own but make sure to do a bit of homework if you do to make sure your components are compatible.

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"In this edition of our System Guide, we update our recommendations to account for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti and AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X graphics cards. The Breadbox Mini-ITX build makes a return for the college-bound."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

I'll bet you've never heard of this stacked phone

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, marshall, flac

Marshall has managed to do something almost no other company has been able to recently, kept a brand new product completely secret.  They have just released a brand new Android smartphone with an internal soundcard which allows you to play lossless FLAC audio files, something not common amongst the smartphones on the market.  The branding is immediately obvious and there are some unique additions such as the use of brass on the two headphone jacks and a volume wheel as opposed to a rocker switch.  The hardware is not terribly impressive, a 720p 4.7" display powered by a Snapdragon 410 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of local storage.  This phone is more about the audio, how high a resolution do you want for your equalizer anyways?  Check out more at The Register.

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"The iconic guitar amplifier outfit''s headphones division managed something that Apple hasn't: it's developed a smartphone without having it leaked to a fan-site. So the launch of the London smartphone managed to catch the world somewhat by surprise."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 One-Minute Ad Launches

Subject: Editorial | July 20, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

As we've been saying for several months now, Windows 10 is coming in a handful of days. Naturally, Microsoft is trickling out information and marketing material leading up to it. Some of the interesting ones we can talk about. I'd normally consider a one-minute TV spot as “not very interesting”, and it probably isn't for our audience, but there was one thing that I wanted to say about it.

The ad looks through an international cast of children, and of course an adorable puppy, describing how their technology life will evolve with Windows 10. The premise is that the OS will empower everything that they do, and grow with them because of automatic updates. Of course, young children and a puppy does a lot to sell a consumer product in itself. The video currently has over 200,000 views on YouTube with an almost 20:1 like-to-dislike ratio.

But the part that interested me was the quote “for them, every screen is meant to be touched”.

In a direct way, yes. Once you provide someone with a touch screen, especially a young child, they instantly want to touch every screen in their life. This has actually led to schools refusing to install touch-based all-in-one PCs because they were worried about kids ruining the non-touch monitors.

It is odd that Microsoft would focus on “touch” in the ad, though. This leads me to the point that I want to bring up. Nowhere in the ad is “familiar” or similar verbiage used. Each example is touch, stylus, or voice. You would think that Microsoft wants to draw in the audience who avoided Windows 8.x, and yet the tone sounds identical to what they've been saying for years.

It's just a TV spot, but it sounds a bit out of tune with the last year.

Meet the Intel Core i7-5775C Broadwell CPU

Subject: Processors | July 20, 2015 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: Intel, i7-5775C, LGA1150, Broadwell, crystalwell

To keep it interesting and to drive tech reviewers even crazier, Intel has changed their naming scheme again, with C now designating an unlocked CPU as opposed to K on the new Broadwell models.  Compared to the previous 4770K, the TPD is down to 65W from 84W, the L3 cache has shrunk from 8MB to 6MB and the frequency of both the base and turbo clocks have dropped 200MHz. It does have the Iris Pro 6200 graphics core, finally available on an LGA chip.  Modders Inc. took the opportunity to clock both the flagship Haswell and Broadwell chips to 4GHz to do a clock for clock comparison of the architectures.  Check out the review right here.

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"While it is important to recognize one's strengths and leverage it as an asset, accepting shortcomings and working on them is equally as important for the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Modders Inc

Stop me if you've heard this before; change your .exe and change your performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 20, 2015 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, CS:GO

Thankfully it has been quite a while since we saw GPU driver optimization specific to .exe filenames on Windows, in the past both major providers have tweaked performance based on the name of the executable which launches the game.  Until now this particular flavour of underhandedness had become passé, at least until now.  Phoronix has spotted it once again, this time seeing a big jump in performance in CS:GO when they rename the binary from csgo_linux binary to hl2_Linux.  The game is built on the same engine but the optimization for the Source Engine are not properly applied to CS:GO.

There is nothing nefarious about this particular example, it seems more a case of AMD's driver team being lazy, or more likely short-staffed.  If you play CS:GO on Linux then rename your binary, you will see a jump in performance with no deleterious side effects.  Phoronix is investigating more games to see if there are other inconsistently applied optimizations.

csgo.jpg

"Should you be using a Radeon graphics card with the AMD Catalyst Linux driver and are disappointed by the poor performance, there is a very easy workaround for gaining much better performance under Linux... In some cases a simple tweak will yield around 40% better performance!"

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

AMD's hopes for the second half of 2015

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2015 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, lisa su

It has not been a pretty year for AMD with overall sales of $942m representing 34.6% drop from this time last year and even the graphics portion seeing a 54.2% drop which resulted in loss of $147 million.  In part this is because all PC component companies have been suffering recently; in part because of a lack of incentive to upgrade high end components and to a larger extent because the general public is not going to pick up a new machine just before the release of a new Windows version.  Lisa Su did have some good news, sales of FX processors and A-series APU have been increasing and the second half of the year is historically better for sales.  It was suggested to The Register that AMD is not currently planning on reducing their workforce even more at this time but the possibility of future cuts was not completely ruled out.

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"AMD has confirmed it is slipping back into cost-cutting mode after its annus horribilis, caused by tanking demand for consumer PCs in a quarter described by CEO Lisa Su as the “revenue trough” for 2015."

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Source: The Register