ASUS Avalon concept PC merges desktops and DIY with cable-free mindset

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: crazy people, concept, computex 2016, computex, avalon, asus

If you expected Computex to be bland and stale this year, ASUS has something that is going to change your mind. During the company's Republic of Gamers press conference, it revealed a concept PC design it has been working on dubbed Avalon. The goal of this project was to improve on the fundamental design of the PC; something that hasn't changed for decades. ASUS wanted to show that you could build a platform that would allow DIY machines to be "more modular, easier to build, and more tightly integrated."

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The result is a proof of concept design that looks more like a high end turntable than a PC. In reality, you are looking at a machine that has been totally redesigned, from the power supply to motherboard and case integration to cooling considerations and more. ASUS has posted a great story that goes into a lot of detail on Avalon, and it's clear this is a project the team has been working on for some time.

The brainchild of Jonathan Chu, the Avalon concept takes a notebook-like approach to desktop design. The motherboard is designed in conjunction with the chassis to enable more seamless cooperation between the two.

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The first example of changes to Avalon is something as simple as the front panel connectors on a case. Connecting them to your motherboard is the same today, basically, as it has ever been. But if you are the manufacturer or designer of both the chassis and the motherboard itself, it is trivial to have the buttons, lights and even additional capabilities built into a specific location on the PCB that matches with access points on the case. 

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Re-thinking the rear IO panel was another target: making it modular and connected to the system via PCI Express means you can swap connectivity options based on the user's needs. Multiple Gigabit NICs a requirement? Done. Maximum USB capability? Sure. Even better, by making the back panel IO a connected device, it can host storage and sound controllers on its own, allowing for improved audio solutions and flexible data configurations. 

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ASUS even worked in a prototype power supply that is based on the SFX form factor but that uses a server-style edge connector, removing wires from the equation. It then becomes the motherboard's responsibility to distribute power through the other components; which again is easy to work through if you are designing these things in tandem. Installing or swapping a power supply becomes as simple as pulling out a drive tray.

This is all made possible by an internal structure that looks like this:

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Rethinking how a motherboard is built, how it connects to the outside world and to other components, means that ASUS was able to adjust and change just about everything. The only area that remains the same is for the discrete graphics card. These tend to draw too much power to use any kind of edge connector (though the ASUS story linked above says they are working on a solution) and thus you see short run cables from a break out on the motherboard to the standard ROG graphics card.

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The ASUS EdgeUp story has some more images and details and I would encourage you to check it out if you find this topic compelling; I know I do. There are no prices, no release dates, no plans for sampling yet. ASUS has built a prototype that is "right on the edge of what’s possible" and they are looking for feedback from the community to see what direction they should go next.

Will the DIY PC in 2020 be a completely different thing than we build today? It seems ASUS is asking the same question.

Source: ASUS EdgeUp

Computex 2016: ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10: Extreme-performance gaming motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 11:18 AM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, computex 2016, computex, asus

In celebration of 10 years of ASUS ROG motherboards, the company today revealed the new Rampage V Edition 10, an X99 motherboard targeting the release of the Intel Broadwell-E processors that are also set to be announced this week at Computex. This new board has basically every feature and capability an ROG product and buyer could ask for, including more LED and LED control than I know what to do with.

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Some more detail from the ASUS press release:

The Rampage V Edition 10 is a celebratory refresh of ROG’s flagship extreme-performance motherboard designed to let gamers and overclockers break every limit.

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Based on the Intel® X99 chipset, the new motherboard sets new industry standards. It features the ultimate RGB lighting scheme with five independently-controlled onboard LED areas plus one 4-pin 5050 RGB header, and all can be synchronized by the all-new Aura software for stunning aesthetics. ROG has also teamed up with well-known RGB strip-makers and case manufacturers, including CableMod, IN WIN, Deepcool, BitFenix, and Phanteks — helping simplify RGB lighting compatibility and control.

The new motherboard is equipped with multiple ASUS exclusive features to aid extreme overclockers. These include Extreme Engine Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) for the cleanest, smoothest power, ASUS-exclusive T-topology technology for maxed-out DDR4 performance, and 5-Way Optimization for easy overclocking and fan tuning with one click.

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The Rampage V Edition 10 also includes multiple technologies to deliver the best gaming experience. The included SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio amplifier ensures flawless audio, dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet and GameFirst combine forces for low-latency networking, and ASUS Safe Slot reinforcement for PCIe connectors to prevent damage from heavy graphics cards. The new board introduces a patent-pending integrated I/O shield for style, easier construction, and enhanced durability.  There’s also a slew of onboard storage and connectivity options, including U.2, M.2, USB 3.1, and 3x3 Wi-Fi.

According to a post on an ASUS sub-site, the board will retail for $599 and should be on the market very soon!

Computex 2016: ASUS Announces ROG Swift PG248Q 180Hz G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays | May 30, 2016 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: computex, asus, ROG, swift, pg248q

During the company's Republic of Gamers event at Computex 2016, ASUS officially announced the release of the ROG Swift PG248Q monitor. Though we have seen it teased previously, today's information release has some interesting new details.

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Based on a 24-inch 1920x1080 TN panel, the PG248Q was specifically built for gamers that desire a smaller display, to avoid being forced to move their head to find a specific target. The idea here is that eSports players, and those aspiring, need to have the entire monitor in their field of view at all times. 

The small size and 1080p resolution don't mean the display is devoid of impressive features though. It is a G-Sync monitor, so gamers can enjoy tear-free, smooth gaming with GeForce graphics cards as well as a 180Hz refresh rate! Add to that combination a rated response time of 1ms (grey to grey) and you have an incredibly high performance gaming panel.

The PG248Q will be the official display of some impressive gaming events including the ESL One 2016 and The International 2016, so I expect ASUS to have a ground swell of interest in this model.

No specifics on pricing or availability quite yet, but I've put in the requests accordingly.

Source: ASUS

MSI Announces Four Custom GTX 1080s (Six SKUs)

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2016 - 09:46 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 1080, sea hawk, gaming x, armor, Aero, nvidia

Beyond the Founders Edition, MSI has prepared six SKUs of the GTX 1080. These consists of four variants, two of which have an overclocked counterpart to make up the remaining two products. The product stack seems quite interesting, with a steady progression of user needs, but we'll need to wait for price and availability to know for sure.

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We'll start at the bottom with the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 AERO 8G and MSI GeForce GTX 1080 AERO 8G OC. These are your typical blower designs that pull air in from within the case, and exhausts it out the back after collecting a bunch of heat from the GPU. It will work, it should be one of the cheapest options for this card, and it will keep the GTX 1080's heat outside of the case. It has a little silver accent on it, too. The non-overclocked version is the standard 1607 MHz / 1733 MHz that NVIDIA advertises, and the OC SKU is a little higher: 1632 MHz / 1771 MHz.

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Next up the product stack are the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 ARMOR 8G and MSI GeForce GTX 1080 ARMOR 8G OC versions. This uses MSI's aftermarket, two-fan cooler that should provide much lower temperatures than AERO, but they exhaust back into the case. Personally? I don't really care about that. The only other thing that heats up in my case, to any concerning level at least, is my CPU, and I recently switched that to a closed-loop water cooler anyway. MSI added an extra, six-pin power connector to these cards (totaling 8-pin + 6-pin + slot power = up-to 300W, versus 8-pin + slot power's 225W). The non-overclocked version is NVIDIA's base 1607 MHz / 1733 MHz, but OC brings that up to 1657 MHz / 1797 MHz.

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Speaking of closed-loop water coolers... The MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK takes the AERO design, which we mentioned earlier, and puts a Corsair self-contained water cooler inside it, too. Only one SKU of this is available, clocked at 1708 MHz base and 1847 MHz boost, but it should support overclocking fairly easily. That said, unlike other options that add a bonus six-pin connector, the SEA HAWK has just one, eight-pin connector. Good enough for the Founders Edition, but other SKUs (including three of the other cards in this post) suggest that there's a reason to up the power ceiling.

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We now get to MSI's top, air-cooled SKU: the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G. This one has their new TWIN FROZR VI, which they claim spins quieter and has fans that drag more air to spin slower than previous models. It, as you would assume from reading about ARMOR 8G, has an extra, six-pin power connector to provide more overclocking headroom. It has three modes: Silent, which clocks the card to the standard 1607 MHz / 1733 MHz levels; Gaming, which significantly raises that to 1683 MHz / 1822 MHz; and OC, which bumps that slightly further to 1708 MHz / 1847 MHz.

Currently, no pricing and availability for any of these.

Source: MSI

ASUS Announces ROG Strix GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 28, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, strix, GTX 1080, nvidia

The Founders Edition versions of the GTX 1080 went on sale yesterday, but we're beginning to see the third-party variants being announced. In this case, the ASUS ROG Strix is a three-fan design that uses their DirectCU III heatsink. More interestingly, ASUS decided to increase the amount of wattage that this card can accept by adding an extra, six-pin PCIe power connector (totaling 8-pin + 6-pin). A Founders Edition card only requires a single, eight-pin connection over the 75W provided by the PCIe slot itself. This provides an extra 75W of play room for the ROG Strix card, raising the maximum power from 225W to 300W.

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Some of this power will be used for its on-card, RGB LED lighting, but I doubt that it was the reason for the extra 75W of headroom. The lights follow the edges of the card, acting like hats and bow-ties to the three fans. (Yes, you will never unsee that now.) The shroud is also modular, and ASUS provides the data for enthusiasts to 3D print their own modifications (albeit their warranty doesn't cover damage caused by this level of customization).

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As for the actual performance, the card naturally comes with an overclock out of the box. The default “Gaming Mode” has a 1759 MHz base clock with an 1898 MHz boost. You can flip this into “OC Mode” for a slight, two-digit increase to 1784 MHz base and 1936 MHz boost. It is significantly higher than the Founders Edition, though, which has a base clock of 1607 MHz that boosts to 1733 MHz. The extra power will likely help manual overclocks, but it will come down to “silicon lottery” whether your specific chip was abnormally less influenced by manufacturing defects. We also don't know yet whether the Pascal architecture, and the 16nm process it relies upon, has any physical limits that will increasingly resist overclocks past a certain frequency.

Pricing and availability is not yet announced.

Source: ASUS

Teaser - GTX 1080's Tested in SLI - EVGA SC ACX 3.0

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 27, 2016 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: sli, review, led, HB, gtx, evga, Bridge, ACX 3.0, 3dmark, 1080

...so the time where we manage to get multiple GTX 1080's in the office here would, of course, be when Ryan is on the other side of the planet. We are also missing some other semi-required items, like the new 'SLI HB 'bridge, but we should be able to test on an older LED bridge at 2560x1440 (under the resolution where the newer style is absolutely necessary to avoid a sub-optimal experience). That said, surely the storage guy can squeeze out a quick run of 3DMark to check out the SLI scaling, right?

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For this testing, I spent just a few minutes with EVGA's OC Scanner to take advantage of GPU Boost 3.0. I cranked the power limits and fans on both cards, ending up at a stable overclock hovering at right around 2 GHz on the pair. I'm leaving out the details of the second GPU we got in for testing as it may be under NDA and I can't confirm that as all of the people to ask are in an opposite time zone, so I'm leaving out that for now (pfft - it has an aftermarket cooler). Then I simply ran Firestrike (25x14) with SLI disabled:

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...and then with it enabled:

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That works out to a 92% gain in 3DMark score, with the FPS figures jumping by almost exactly 2x. Now remember, this is by no means a controlled test, and the boss will be cranking out a much more detailed piece with frame rated results galore in the future, but for now I just wanted to get some quick figures out to the masses for consumption and confirmation that 1080 SLI is a doable thing, even on an older bridge.

*edit* here's another teaser:

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Aftermarket coolers are a good thing as evidenced by the 47c of that second GPU, but the Founders Edition blower-style cooler is still able to get past 2GHz just fine. Both cards had their fans at max speed in this example.

*edit again*

I was able to confirm we are not under NDA on the additional card we received. Behold:

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This is the EVGA Superclocked edition with their ACX 3.0 cooler.

More to follow (yes, again)!

Another look at the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD

Subject: Storage | May 27, 2016 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: TSV, toshiba, ssd, revodrive, RD400, pcie, ocz, NVMe, M.2, HHHL, 512GB, 2280, 15nm

If you somehow felt that there was a test that Al missed while reviewing the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD, then you have a chance for a second look.  There are several benchmarks which The SSD Review ran which were not covered and they have a different way of displaying data such as latency but the end results are the same, this drive is up there with the Samsung 950 Pro and Intel 750 Series.  Read all about it here.

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"With specs that rival the Samsung 950 Pro, a capacity point that nips at the heels of the Intel 750's largest model, and competitive MSRPs, the OCZ RD400 is out for blood. Read on to learn more about this latest enthusiast class NVMe SSD and see how it competes with the best of the best!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

You met the Couchmaster, now meet the Corsair Lapdog

Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: corsair, lapdog

You may remember the Nerdytec COUCHMASTER Ryan tested back in 2013?  Kitguru received a similar device recently, the Corsair Lapdog for use with K70 and K65 keyboards and with enough space on the side for mousing.  Unfortunately the setup is only comfortable for right handed users, lefties will have to hope a sinister model comes out.  It has a built in 4-powered port USB 3.0 hub, not just for your peripherals as it supports quick charging for your portable devices.  Check out their video review to see if you might want to upgrade from what you currently use when sitting on your couch.

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"The Corsair Lapdog is grandly described as a ‘Gaming Control Centre’, however that doesn’t explain things very well as Lapdog is unlike anything we have seen before."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

Podcast #401 - Gigabyte X99P-SLI, RevoDrive is back, GPU Drivers, Computex, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2016 - 09:53 PM |
Tagged: X99P-SLI, toshiba, revodrive, review, RD400, podcast, pcper, ocz, msi, hardware, gigabyte, fdsoi, computex, amd, AM4, am3, am2, 303, 22nm

PC Perspective Podcast #401 - 05/26/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte X99P-SLI, RevoDrive is back, GPU Drivers, Computex, 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!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:07:00
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: #MakeSpaceGreatAgain
    2. Allyn: [the Sequence]
    3. Josh: Last Year’s Model, but still nifty!
    4. Sebastian: A great game, remastered
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  6. Closing/outro

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

Thermaltake's eSports’ Level 10M has reached the advanced level

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2016 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: input, thermaltake, eSports Level 10M Advanced, gaming mouse

The Thermaltake eSports’ Level 10M gaming mouse is a new version of the original Level 10M, now with a braided USB cable and a thumbrest.  The side sports two buttons which function normally, along with a third button that is in fact a 5-axis controller to control mouse features.  If you press it in the lights change, left and right will lower or increase the sensitivity and what happens when you push the button up or down will be up to you, as they can be programmed.  The overall look of the mouse is unique and the $70 price tag is reasonable, check out Kiguru's full review if you are interested in picking this mouse up.

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"Back in 2012, we reviewed Tt eSports’ Level 10M mouse, and now there is an updated ‘Advanced’ edition. With the same striking visuals and customisation options, it will be interesting to see how the Level 10M Advanced fares as a gaming mouse in 2016."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

X means X again, thanks Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2016 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

It seems that taking inspiration from those nasty popups where the X button does not actually close the window was a bad idea for Redmond and thankfully they have listened to reason.  No longer will clicking the X on the Win10 nag screen be construed as accepting the upgrade as long as it is a Roman numeral, but will once again return to the clost command which it represents on any and all other windows.  The Inquirer was more than a little miffed about this which is perfectly understandable as this particular step was far beyond the pale, the other attempts to forcibly upgrade ranged from reasonable to annoying but this one was just wrong.  Thankfully Microsoft has listened and once again it will go back to asking you for a date repeatedly, until you remove KB2952664, acquiesce to its advances or hold out past July 29th when you will have to pay $120 to hang out with it.

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"Microsoft has now responded to "customer feedback" and agreed to change the behaviour of the 'X' button back to the more 'piss off' tone that we all know and love."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Soon to be observed - AOC Bringing Quantum Dot Monitors to North America

Subject: Displays | May 25, 2016 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: quantum dots, QD Vision, AOC

AOC is partnering with QD Vision to bring QLED displays to market in the near future.  If the term does not seem familiar you can revisit our older coverage, but essentially they are tiny particulates which radiate colour when excited based on size with larger dots fluoresce red, mid-sized dots green and the smallest blue.  This property allows a much wider colour gamut to be produced and requires a lot less energy to do so.  AOC will be launching a series of PLS/PLS-ADS displays in the near future which will provide up to 98% Adobe RGB colour reproduction, the first generation will be 1080p but expect to see this change as the technology matures.  We don't have set dates or prices as of yet but we do have the PR which you can read below.

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San Francisco, California – May 25, 2016 – Today AOC, one of the world’s leading monitor brands, announced that their latest quantum dot-based monitors will be available in North America this year. The new monitors, which were introduced in China last month, integrate QD Vision’s Color IQ™ technology to deliver the most vivid color viewing experience commercially available today, enabling 50 percent better color performance than a typical LCD monitor, at a competitive price point.

AOC will sell its 27-inch and quantum dot displays, which deliver 98 percent Adobe RGB color, making them ideal for entertainment, photography and gaming. The new AOC Quantum Dot monitors will be available later this year online and at AOC retailers.

“Given the overwhelming positive feedback we’ve received from customers and reviewers alike, we are thrilled to expand our distribution to North America,” said Mr. Lidong Yan, general manager of monitor BU, OBM China, TPV Group. “QD Vision has helped us deliver the widest color gamut displays available today with their leading-edge quantum dot technology, and we can now bring the latest product innovations and display technology to a broader global audience.”

QD Vision’s Color IQ solution enables the widest, more accurate color gamut across screens by utilizing semiconductor nanocrystals, called quantum dots, to precisely and efficiently convert light emissions and create virtually any color of the visible spectrum. Color IQ Optics lead in green chemistry nano-material innovation and deliver the most brilliant, full gamut color displays, providing a superior viewing experience over any other commercial technology, including OLED, but at a much lower overall cost.

“Quantum dot technology provides far more natural and vivid viewing, and these new monitors from AOC will enhance performance, accuracy and user experience for consumers worldwide,” said John Volkmann, chief marketing officer at QD Vision. “AOC is one of the leaders in delivering the most accurate, wide color gamut experience and by integrating QD Vision’s Color IQ optics, these monitors deliver incredible performance at affordable price points.”

Today, most high-end monitors can only display 95 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut while many mainstream models are limited to illustrating, at most, 70 percent of the Adobe spectrum. Using QD Vision's Color IQ solution, AOC quantum dot displays deliver nearly 100 percent of the full Adobe RGB spectrum, resulting in remarkably crisp images with vivid, life-like colors, making them ideally suited for binge-watching television shows, online gaming, personal photography or other activities that would benefit from the highest degree of color accuracy and brightness consistency.

The PLS/PLS-ADS wide view angle panel offers perfect image performance and real color uniformity at an extremely large viewing angle of 178°, and flicker-free technology provides critical eye support for photographers who are used to long-time photo editing, providing a more comfortable viewing experience that promotes greater eye health. The AOC 27” quantum dot monitors features 1920 x 1080 resolution, ?E<3 color deviation, 50 million:1 dynamic contrast and support for multiple I/O ports including VGA, DVI-D, HDMI and an audio line output. The series is compatible with Blu-ray players and most gaming consoles, including PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360.

Source: AOC

GOATS IN SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2016 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: gaming, goat simulator, #MakeSpaceGreatAgain

That's right, those insanely beautiful bastards over at Coffee Stain Studios did it again, Goat Simulator: Waste of Space will be arriving tomorrow on Steam as DLC, likely at the $5.00 price point the previous GoatZ and Payday DLCs sold for.  It features a lightsabre so impressive it will throw Kylo into a sulk, romance plot lines that put Mass Effect to shame, facehugger spitting goats and plenty of self referential humour as well.  The trailer is below and you can read a bit more over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

You are a goat too!

"Then there’s the faux-Schwarzenegger narrator. “Listen to me, you bastards,” he demands. “You will stop at absolutely nothing to make the galaxy great again.” Which evidently involves licking a crew member’s face who has cherry-topped cream cakes covering their nipples."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

MSI at Computex, a peek before the show

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2016 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex 2016, GS63 Stealth Pro

MSI offered a sneak peek at the lineup you can expect to see them showcase at Computex and the list is quite long, with some interesting new additions.

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For laptops you can expect to see the new GS63 Stealth Pro, with a Core i7 6700HQ and GTX970M inside.  The cooling system is also new, a five heatpipe system called the Cooler Boost Trinity with Whirlwind Blades pushing hot air out the exhaust ports.  We should hear more about what this system actually is during the show.

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The GT83 and GT73 Titan SLI laptops are built with VR in mind, as well as supporting output to multiple monitors and 4K resolutions; though perhaps not both at once.  The GT83 contains desktop class GTX 980s while the GT73 uses the mobile versions, the GTX 980M or a single desktop GTX 980 if you prefer.

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The GS73 focuses on a slimmed down design while still incorporating a GTX970M and the aforementioned Cooler Boost Trinity system.  It will also sport a SteelSeries gaming keyboard, an ESS SABRE HiFi headset AMP and Nahimic 2.0 sound system.

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Something far more unique is the 'Backpack PC', allowing you to strap a Core i7 and GTX 980 to your back so that you are not tied to a desk when using VR.  With that amount of power you will still need mains power as the weight of the battery required to power that system for more than a few minutes would be prohibitive.  On the other hand the cables from your VR headset and controllers would be connected to the backpack which would theoretically direct the cables out of your way.

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The Aegis Gaming Desktop is a far more familiar desktop machine, though it too offers a nod towards VR usage by locating an HDMI connection at the front of the 19.6L case.  It will also have a Dragon Button, reminiscent of the old Turbo button from the original 8086 processor, which will boost your 'speed and performance' by 15%.  Likely this is an overclocking preset which one assumes can be enabled on the fly.

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The Vortex G65 SLI desktop is a little less plain, a round case which is a mere 6.5L in volume but still contains two GTX 980s and an i7-6700K, with their proprietary Silent Storm Cooling system.  MSI continues the pattern of building systems around VR compatibility with the Vortex.

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Continuing on to their Cubi 2 Plus, a SFF system powered by a Skylake-S class processor a wee 5x5" mini-STX motherboard.  The CPU is not BGA and so can be upgraded and there is enough space in the system for a 2.5" SSD upgrade, albeit just barely.

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On to their motherboards, first up is the X99A GAMING PRO CARBON which offers a few new features to tempt users to upgrade.  Not only does it have USB Type-C connectors but they are described as being located at the front, presumably on a header. It also sports Audio Boost 3, Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s, SEx ports and Dynamic Mystic Light, an LED systems with software that supports more than 16.8 million colors.

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For those more concerned with overclocking than having an impressive light show, the X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM features Military Class 5 components and a specially designed thermal system to ensure a solid overclock.  It also has support for U.2 32Gb/s drives.

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The last of the trio of motherboards will be the Z170A MPOWER GAMING TITANIUM, similar to the X99A model apart from the socket. You will get all the features of the TITANIUM series for your LGA1151 processors.

Expect to see much more information about these products and others once Computex gets underway.

Source: MSI

Report: AMD Socket AM4 Compatible with Existing AM2/AM3 Coolers

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | May 25, 2016 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: Zen, socket AM3, cpu cooler, amd, AM4

Upgrading to the upcoming Zen processors won't require the purchase of a new cooler or adapter, according to a report from Computer Base (German language).

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The AMD Wraith Cooler (image credit: The Tech Report)

Answering a customer question on Facebook, a Thermalright representative responded (translated):

"For all AMD fans, we have good news. As we advance AMD has assured the new AM4 processors and motherboards are put on the usual base-fixing, which is standard for AM2. To follow all the Thermalright coolers are used on the Zen processors without additional accessories!"

This news is hardly surprising considering AMD has used the same format for some time, much as Intel's current CPUs still work with coolers designed for LGA 1156.

Quiet PC Launches Stylish Fanless Intel NUC-Based PC

Subject: Systems | May 25, 2016 - 06:26 AM |
Tagged: UK, SFF, quiet pc, nuc, iris, Intel Skylake, hd graphics

Quiet PC (a UK-based retailer for PCs and components) recently launched a small form factor fanless PC based on Intel’s Skylake NUC platform. The new PC is aptly named the Ultra NUC Pro 6 and combines an Intel Skylake-based Core i5 processor with a fanless chassis from Aleutia (the R50) that results in a quiet and stylish PC.

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The understated case is built from a single block of aluminum using a CNC machine and 5-axis drill. It is primarily black although the center of the case reveals bare copper plates (that direct contact the CPU) used help facilitate cooling the 15W TDP Core i5-6260U CPU. The front panel hosts two USB 3.0 ports, an analog audio port, and IR receiver while the rear I/O includes two more USB 3.0 ports, one Wi-Fi antenna connector, Kensington lock, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), AC power, and mini DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4b video outputs.

Internally, you are able to configure this particular fanless NUC with either a Core i3 clocked at 2.3 GHz or a Core i5 clocked at 1.8 GHz base and up to 2.9 GHz Turbo Boost. Both 14nm chips have a 15W TDP and are dual cores with HyperThreading (2 core / 4 thread), but they differ in the GPU portion. The Core i3 hosts Intel HD Graphics 520 while the Core i5 has Intel’s Iris Graphics 540. Beyond the processor, users can configure the PC with up to 32GB of dual channel DDR4, a single M.2 form factor SSD (up to a 512GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD), and a pre-installed Wi-Fi module (Intel Wireless-AC 8260).

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This new NUC measures 160 x 37 x 110mm and comes with a 2 year warranty. Quiet PC currently offers the base model at £575.83 (~$841.33) sans OS. The model with Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and Windows 10 Pro is £776.76 which translates to about $1135.23.

That is the major drawback of this nearly half liter PC: the price. Despite it’s neat industrial design, this PC is essentially priced out of the home market perhaps save for certain fanless enthusiasts like our friends at FanlessTech (hehe). Industrial customers that need a decently powerful PC without moving parts and an internal case that can gather dust, metals, wood, and whatever other factory and workshop conditions it might be subjected to would be interested in this however. Quiet PC further indicates that this fanless PC is aimed at marine and healthcare customers. Aleutia claims that at ambient temperatures of 21°C (69.8°F) the PC maxed out at 51°C (123.8°F) under 100% CPU load and the PC can be used in environments with ambient temperatures up to 50°C (122°F).

Do you think our friends on the other side of the pond have a nice quiet PC option or is the price of silence too much?

Also watch: Intel NUC5i5RYK SFF System Review - Broadwell NUC

Source: Quiet PC

CRYENGINE Source Goes Public on GitHub

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2016 - 05:43 AM |
Tagged: crytek, CRYENGINE V, CRYENGINE

So, a few months ago in March, Crytek announced that CRYENGINE V would be licensed under a “pay what you want” business model, which extends down to free -- nothing up front and no royalties. It supports DirectX 12 and a Mono-based framework, which they're calling CE# Framework, that allows gameplay code to be programmed in C#. Since it's done in Mono, it looks like it can be used in all supported platforms, but I could be wrong. While C++ is typically more desirable for AAA-style games, other engines, especially Unity, have attracted a lot of attention with their C# parsers.

The engine doesn't appear to support Vulkan, though, at least not yet.

Crysis2.jpg

Hold the phone...

Today's news? The source code is now on GitHub, and not even as a private repository. It's just... there. CRYENGINE V is licensed under a typical EULA, of course, so they impose a few restrictions on how it can be used. Content must not be sexual explicit, vulgar, or “in a reasonable person's view, objectionable.” I expect that this will not be enforced too strictly in terms of violence and cursing, but it differs from, say, Unreal Engine 4, which officially permits Adult content (although they'll occasionally ask to have their trademarks removed, so their logos do not appear to be endorsements).

Crytek also prevents their engine from being used in simulation, science, and architecture. I assume those are intended to be pushed into a separate licensing structure. It would seem silly for them to just outright ban those applications.

Anywho, feel free to check out the engine on GitHub.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 25, 2016 - 01:46 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, radeon, overwatch, graphics driver, Crimson Edition 16.5.3, crimson, amd

AMD has released new drivers for Overwatch (and more) with Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3.

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"Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD's revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements."

AMD lists these highlights for Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3:

Support for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch
  • Dota 2 (with Vulkan API)

New AMD Crossfire profile available for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch

The driver is available from AMD from the following direct links:

The full release notes with fixed/known issues is available at the source link here.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Releases 368.22 Drivers for Overwatch

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 24, 2016 - 10:36 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Yesterday, NVIDIA has released WHQL-certified drivers to align with the release of Overwatch. This version, 368.22, is the first public release of the 367 branch. Pascal is not listed in the documentation as a supported product, so it's unclear whether this will be the launch driver for it. The GTX 1080 comes out on Friday, but two drivers in a week would not be unprecedented for NVIDIA.

While NVIDIA has not communicated this too well, 368.22 will not install on Windows Vista. If you are still using that operating system, then you will not be able to upgrade your graphics drivers past 365.19. 367-branch (and later) drivers will required Windows 7 and up.

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Before I continue, I should note that I've experienced so issues getting these drivers to install through GeForce Experience. Long story short, it took two attempts (with a clean install each time) to end up with a successful boot into 368.22. I didn't try the standalone installer that you can download from NVIDIA's website. If the second attempt using GeForce Experience failed, then I would have. That said, after I installed it, it seemed to work out well for me with my GTX 670.

While NVIDIA is a bit behind on documentation, the driver also rolls in other fixes. There were some GPU compute developers who had crashes and other failures in certain OpenCL and CUDA applications, which are now compatible with 368.22. I've also noticed that my taskbar hasn't been sliding around on its own anymore, but I've only been using the driver for a handful of hours.

You can get GeForce 368.22 drivers from GeForce Experience, but you might want to download the standalone installer (or skip a version or two if everything works fine).

Source: NVIDIA

ASUS and Gigabyte boards see a small growth

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2016 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: asus, gigabyte

According to the information that DigiTimes was able to garner, only Asustek Computer and Gigabyte Technology will see their shipment of motherboards over this first half of the year either remain the same as last year or perhaps experience a small growth.  As neither are expected to break 20 million units this is not great news but is certainly better than the news ASRock, MSI, ECS and Biostar are expecting.  The lack of competition in the CPU/APU market is spilling over to motherboard manufacturers as customers are not immediately upgrading to the new platforms but are instead choosing premedical upgrades.  The next few quarters are going to be interesting as we see what strategies motherboard manufacturers adopt to retain sales.  New boards based on the Intel 200 series chipset will not likely be a factor until the last quarter of this year, at the earliest.

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"The sources expect Asustek and Gigabyte's motherboard shipments in 2016 to stay at the same level in 2015 and neither of them is able to break 20 million units. Since overall demand continues shrinking, the top-2 players are likely to continue taking market share from lower-tier players."

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Source: DigiTimes