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A quick look at a great accessory
Though we are a PC hardware and technology website by day, we are also video creators by night (and sometimes day as well). If you don't believe me, check out our PC Perspective video tag or even our very own YouTube channel. See?!?
While we do have a big fancy studio setup for in-house production, sometimes on the road you just need something quick and easy but also high quality for recording. While our collection of DSLR cameras does amazing with video quality, the audio from the in-camera microphones has always sucked and lugging around wireless mic packs seemed unnecessary much of the time.
Enter the RODE VideoMic.
This $170 shotgun, directional microphone is from one of the most well recognized and respected companies in pro-sumer audio. In the short video below I show you what you get in the box (not much) and how much you can improve your audio with this simple add-on.
Overall, I have to say I was very impressed with the RODE VideoMic and anyone looking to improve the quality of their videos with an audio upgrade should give this option a try!
Battle of the IGPs
Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers. What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing.
Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks. Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs. It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.
Battle of the IGPs
Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today. With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products. In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up.
When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself. Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments. Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later. Now is later.
So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air. A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options. Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2. The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of MSI
The Z87 MPOWER board is one of the first boards released as part of MSI's Z87 update of the much vaunted MPOWER line. The board supports the next generation of Intel processors based on the LGA1150 socket (Haswell), and is packed full of features and overclocking goodness. In-line with the MPower's established theme, the Z87 MPower board maintain's the black and yellow stylings from the last generation with the MSI brand logo proudly displeased on the chipset heat sink. At a retail price of $229.99, the Z87 MPower would be a nice value add to any enthusiast or gaming system.
Courtesy of MSI
Courtesy of MSI
In keeping with its enthusiast appeal, MSI incorporated a full 16-phase digital power delivery system into the Z87 MPower, ensuring CPU stability under the most intense system loads. MSI integrated the following features into the Z87 MPower: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an mSATA 6Gb/s port; a Killer E2205 GigE NIC; Atheros 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth adapter support; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; Lucidlogix Virtu® MVP 2.0 support; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, base clock control, OC Genie, and Go2BIOS buttons; multi-BIOS and OC Genie mode switches; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of MSI
The GPU Midrange Gets a Kick
I like budget video cards. They hold a soft spot in my heart. I think the primary reason for this is that I too was once a poor college student and could not afford the really expensive cards. Ok, so this was maybe a few more years ago than I like to admit. Back when the Matrox Millennium was very expensive, I ended up getting the STB Lightspeed 128 instead. Instead of the 12 MB Voodoo 2 I went for the 8 MB version. I was never terribly fond of paying top dollar for a little extra performance. I am still not fond of it either.
The sub-$200 range is a bit of a sweet spot that is very tightly packed with products. These products typically perform in the range of a high end card from 3 years ago, yet still encompass the latest features of the top end products from their respective companies. These products can be overclocked by end users to attain performance approaching cards in the $200 to $250 range. Mind, there are some specific limitations to the amount of performance one can actually achieve with these cards. Still, what a user actually gets is very fair when considering the price.
Today I cover several flavors of cards from three different manufacturers that are based on the AMD HD 7790 and the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti BOOST chips. These range in price from $129 to $179. The features on these cards are amazingly varied, and there are no “sticker edition” parts to be seen here. Each card is unique in its design and the cooling strategies are also quite distinct. Users should not expect to drive monitors above 1920x1200, much less triple monitors in Surround and Eyefinity.
Now let us quickly go over the respective chips that these cards are based on.
You need some extra space? We got that.
Corsair likes to make cases, I think we know that much for sure by now. I mean, they have designed something on the order of 13 different chassis, not including color variations. The very first case Corsair shipped was the Obsidian 800D and at the time it was massive, just down right big.
Today though we are doing a preview of an even bigger case: the Obsidian 900D. Seriously, the Obsidian 350D can nearly fit inside the primary bay of this case...
Measuring 27 inches tall, 25 inches deep and more than 10 inches wide, the 900D will dominate just about any landscape you put it on, including a desk as you can tell in the video above.
It's height and depth give the 900D space for more processing and cooling components than you will likely ever really need to use, unless you're one of those few crazies out there. I mean, just looking in the window below you'll see we have a standard ATX motherboard installed and it is just dwarfed.
What do they want Origin to be?
GamesIndustry International conducted an interview with EA's Executive Vice President, Andrew Wilson, during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2013). Wilson was on the team which originally designed Origin before marketing decided to write off all DOS-era nostalgia they once held with PC gamers through recycling an old web address.
The service, itself, has also changed since the original project.
'"Over the years ... there've been some permutations of that vision that have manifested as part of Origin," Wilson said. "I think what we've done is taken a step back and said 'Wow, we've actually done some really cool things with Origin.' It is by no means perfect, but we've done some pretty cool things. As you say, the plumbing is there. What can we do now to really think about Origin in the next generation?"
Fans of Sim City, who faithfully pre-ordered, will likely argue that Origin does not have enough sewage treatment at the end of their plumbing and the out-flow defecated all over their experience. A good service can be built atop the foundations of Origin; but, I have little confidence in their ability to realize that potential.
Wilson, on the other hand, believes they now "get it".
One assertion deals with customers who purchase more than one game. He argues that multiple update and online services are required and that is a barrier for users who desire a second, third, or hundredth purchase thereafter. The belief is that Origin can create a single experience for users and remove that barrier to inhibit a user's purchase. In practice, Origin ends up being a bigger hurdle than a single-game's service. It washes a bad faith over their entire library and fails to justify itself: games, such as Sim City, update on their own and old titles still have their online services taken offline.
What it comes down to is lack of focus. Wilson believes development of Origin was too focused on the transaction, and that lead to bad faith, presumably because customers would smell the disingenuous salesman. Good Old Games (GOG), on the other hand, successfully focused on the transaction. The difference? GOG gets out of your way immediately after the transaction, leaving you with just the game plus its bonus pack-ins you ordered, not DRM and a redundant social network.
Steam is heavily focused as a service and that is where EA desires Origin to be. The problem? Valve has set a high bar for EA to contend with. Steam has built customer faith consistently, albeit not perfectly, over its life with its user-centric vision. Not only would EA need to be substantially better than Steam, it is fighting with a severe handicap from their history of shutting down gaming servers and threatening to delicense merchandise if their customers upset them.
A successful Origin will need to carefully consider what it wants to be and strive to win at that goal. While possible, they are still content to handicap themselves and, then, not own the results of their decisions.
Introduction and Features
(Courtesy of High Power)
High Power Electronic’s Astro Series includes seven PC power supplies ranging in output capacity from 500W up to 750W. All of the power supplies in the Astro Series are certified 80Plus Gold (AGD-500F, AGD-600F, AGD-650, AGD-750F, AGD-750) except for two models that achieve the coveted 80Plus Platinum certification for high efficiency (APT-600 and APT-700).
Astro PT 700W Platinum PSU Key Features: (from the High Power website)
• Off-Delay Fan (Fan Stays On After System Shutdown): This feature allows the PSU fan to continue running after the system is shut down for a few seconds to exhaust the residual warm air inside the PSU and computer case to help extend component life.
• Single +12V Output Rail: Offers maximum compatibility for the +12V demand (PT 700W: 58A-696W)
• 100% Japanese-made Capacitors: provide longer lifespan
• Reliable Japan
ese-made Solid-state Capacitors: for enhanced system durability and stability even under extreme conditions
• Easily Detachable and Flexible Flat Modular Cables: Use only the cables you need. Reduce clutter from unused connectors and enhance the airflow inside your system
• Patented Easy Swap Connector: for quick and easy installation
• Long Cable Length: Longer cables for easier cable management behind the motherboard
• ErP 2013 The PSU’s standby mode won’t exceed 0.5W consumption to save energy and help maintain a sustainable environment
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The Z87-Pro was among the first offerings from ASUS designed around the Intel Z87 chipset and offering support for the forth generation Intel Core CPU line, code named Haswell. The board sports the yellow/gold and black coloration common to ASUS' mainstream board line with more than enough features to satisfy most gamers and enthusiasts. At a retail MSRP of $209.00, the Z87-Pro becomes a hard proposition to turn down with its mix of features and performance.
Courtesy of ASUS
Under the hood, the Z87-Pro offer a massive 12+2 phase digital power system to keep the CPU juiced up and ready to go no matter what you decide to throw at is. ASUS integrated the following features into the Z87-Pro's design: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an Intel I217-V GigE NIC; Atheros 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 adapter; three PCI-Express x16 slots for dual or tri-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; onboard power, CMOS MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, and DirectKey buttons; 3-way TPU and EPU switches; 2-digit LED diagnostic display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
Getting even more life from GK104
Have you guys heard about this new GPU from NVIDIA? It’s called GK104 and it turns out that the damn thing is found yet another graphics card this year – the new GeForce GTX 760. Yup, you read that right, what NVIDIA is saying is the last update to the GeForce lineup through Fall 2013 is going to be based on the same GK104 design that we have previously discussed in reviews of the GTX 680, GTX 670, GTX 660 Ti, GTX 690 and more recently, the GTX 770. This isn’t a bad thing though! GK104 has done a fantastic job in every field and market segment that NVIDIA has tossed it into with solid performance and even better performance per watt than the competition. It does mean however that talking up the architecture is kind of mind numbing at this point…
If you are curious about the Kepler graphics architecture and the GK104 in particular, I’m not going to stop you from going back and reading over my initial review of the GTX 680 from January of 2012. The new GTX 760 takes the same GPU, adds a new and improved version of GPU Boost (the same we saw in the GTX 770) and lowers down the specifications a bit to enable NVIDIA to hit a new price point. The GTX 760 will be replacing the GTX 660 Ti – that card will be falling into the ether but the GTX 660 will remain, as will everything below it including the GTX 650 Ti Boost, 650 Ti and plain old 650. The GTX 670 went the way of the dodo with the release of the GTX 770.
Even though the GTX 690 isn't on this list, NVIDIA says it isn't EOL
As for the GeForce GTX 760 it will ship with 1152 CUDA cores running at a base clock of 980 MHz and a typical boost clock of 1033 MHz. The memory speed remains at 6.0 GHz on a 256-bit memory bus and you can expect to find both 2GB and 4GB frame buffer options from retail partners upon launch. The 1152 CUDA cores are broken up over 6 SMX units and that means you’ll see some parts with 3 GPCs and others with 4 – NVIDIA claims any performance delta between them will be negligible.
Introduction and Specifications
Intel has pushed out many SSDs over the years, and unlike many manufacturers, they have never stopped heavily pushing SSD in the enterprise. They did so with their very first push of the X25-M / X25-E, where they seemingly came out of nowhere and just plunked down a pair of very heavy hitting SSDs. What was also interesting was that back then they seemed to blur the lines by calling their consumer offering 'mainstream', and considering it good enough for even some enterprise applications. Even though the die-hard stuff was left to the SLC-based X25-E, that didn't stop some consumers from placing them into their home systems. The X25-E used in this review came from a good friend of mine, who previously had it installed in his home PC.
With several enterprise class models out there, we figured it was high time we put them all alongside each other to see where things are at, and that's the goal of this particular piece. We were motivated to group them together by the recent releases of the DC S3500 and DC S3700 drives, both using Intel's new Intel 8-channel controller.
|X25-E||SSD 320||SSD 710||SSD 910*||DC S3500||DC S3700|
|Capacity||32, 64GB||40, 80, 120, 160, 300, 600GB||100, 200, 300GB||400, 800GB||80, 120, 160, 240, 300, 480, 600, 800GB||100, 200, 400, 800GB|
|Write (4k)||3.3k||23k (8GB span)||2.7k||18.7k||11k||32k|
- Since the SSD 910 is subdivided into 4 or 2 (depending on capacity) physical 200GB volumes, we chose to test just one of those physical units. Scaling can then be compared to other units placed into various RAID configurations. 910 specs were corrected to that of the single physical unit tested.
- All other listed specs are specific to the tested (bold) capacity point.
Starting with the good old X25-E, which pretty much started it all, is Intel's original SATA 3Gb/sec 10-channel controller. Despite minor tweaks, this same controller was used in the X25-M, X25-M G2, SSD 320 and SSD 710 Series. Prior to Intel releasing their own 6Gb/sec SATA controller, they filled some of those voids by introducing Marvell and SandForce controllers with the 510 and 520, respectively, but those two were consumer-oriented drives. For the enterprise, Intel filled this same gap with the 910 Series - a PCIe LSI Falcon SAS RAID controller driving 2 or 4 6Gb/sec SAS Hitachi Ultrastar SSDs. Finally (and most recently), Intel introduced their own SATA 6Gb/sec controller in the form of the DC S3500 and DC S3700. Both are essentially the same 8-channel controller driving 20nm or 25nm IMFT flash, respectively.
More to follow on the next page, where we dive into the guts of each unit.
Introduction and Design
As headlines mount championing the supposed shift toward tablets for the average consumer, PC manufacturers continue to devise clever hybrid solutions to try and lure those who are on the fence toward more traditional machines. Along with last year’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 and ThinkPad Twist, Lenovo shortly thereafter launched the smallest of the bunch, an 11.6” convertible tablet PC with a 5-point touch 720p IPS display.
Unlike its newer, more powerful counterpart, the Yoga 11S, it runs Windows RT and features an NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core system on a chip (SoC). There are pros and cons to this configuration in contrast to the 11S. For starters, the lower-voltage, fanless design of the 11 guarantees superior battery life (something which we’ll cover in detail in just a bit). It’s also consequently (slightly) smaller and lighter than the 11S, which gains a hair on height and weighs around a quarter pound more. But, as you’re probably aware, Windows RT also doesn’t qualify as a fully-functional version of Windows—and, in fact, the Yoga 11’s versatility is constrained by the relatively meager selection of apps available on the Windows Store. The other obvious difference is architecture and chipset, where the Yoga 11’s phone- and tablet-grade ARM-based NVIDIA Tegra 3 is replaced on the 11S by Intel Core Ivy Bridge ULV processors.
But let’s forget about that for a moment. What it all boils down to is that these two machines, while similar in terms of design, are different enough (both in terms of specs and price) to warrant a choice between them based on your intended use. The IdeaPad Yoga 11 configuration we reviewed can currently be found for around $570 at retailers such as Amazon and Newegg. In terms of its innards:
If it looks an awful lot like the specs of your latest smartphone, that’s probably because it is. The Yoga 11 banks on the fact that such ARM-based SoCs have become powerful enough to run a modern personal computer comfortably—and by combining the strengths of an efficient, low-power chipset with the body of a notebook, it reaps benefits from both categories. Of course, there are trade-offs involved, starting with the 2 GB memory ceiling of the chipset and extending to the aforementioned limitations of Windows RT. So the ultimate question is, once those trade-offs are considered, is the Yoga 11 still worth the investment?
Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.
Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.
While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.
Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.
In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.
From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.
OpenCL Support in a Meaningful Way
Adobe had OpenCL support since last year. You would never benefit from its inclusion unless you ran one of two AMD mobility chips under Mac OSX Lion, but it was there. Creative Cloud, predictably, furthers this trend with additional GPGPU support for applications like Photoshop and Premiere Pro.
This leads to some interesting points:
- How OpenCL is changing the landscape between Intel and AMD
- What GPU support is curiously absent from Adobe CC for one reason or another
- Which GPUs are supported despite not... existing, officially.
This should be very big news for our readers who do production work whether professional or for a hobby. If not, how about a little information about certain GPUs that are designed to compete with the GeForce 700-series?
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The GIGABYTE Z87X- UD3H is one of the newest members of the GIGABYTE Intel Z87 product lineup. The board features a fully redesigned power system, dubbed Ultra Durable 5 Plus, designed to handle the power needs for an LGA1150 CPU under any circumstances. At a retail price of 189.99, the Z87X-UD3H remains ahead of the curve with an aggresive price point.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The Z87X-UD3H comes standard with an 8-phase digital power delivery system, featuring International Rectifier (IR) manufactured PowIRstage™ ICs and PWM controllers. GIGABYTE integrated the following feature set into the Z87X-UD3H: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an Intel GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to dual-card support; three PCI-Express x1 slots; one PCI slot; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, and switch BIOS buttons; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Introduction and Features
Be Quiet! has been a market leader for PC power supplies in Germany for seven years straight and they are bringing their top-of-the-line Dark Power Pro 10 series to North American markets. The Dark Power Pro 10 series includes six different models ranging from 550W all the way up to 1200W. The focus of the Dark Power Pro series is “no compromise silence and performance”. All Dark Power Pro 10 power supplies are certified for 80Plus Gold efficiency except for the 850W model, which achieves 80Plus Platinum efficiency levels.
Be Quiet! is targeting the Dark Power Pro series for high resolution gaming, 3D graphics, photo and video editing, and multimedia systems that incorporate overclocked components with multiple CPUs and up to four GPUs.
Dark Power Pro 10 Highlights:
• Virtually inaudible SilentWings 135mm fan
• World class efficiency of up to 94%
• Top performance and stability for CPU and GPU
• Overclocking key for multi or single rail use
• Professional cable management
• Five year warranty
Here is what Be Quiet! has to say about their Dark Power Pro series: “Legendary Silence, Cutting Edge Performance! Dark Power Pro series power supplies are renowned as the world’s quietest PSUs in the high performance category. They range in capacity from 550W to 1200W, feature astonishingly high power efficiencies, and are appropriate for the world’s toughest computing tasks – particularly where quiet is as much a priority as raw power.
The Dark Power Pro 10 850W model takes a giant step further with an all-new design topology that delivers 80Plus Platinum performance, the world’s highest energy efficiency certification. Add to that an unparalleled array of enhancements that augment this unit’s compatibility, convenience of use, reliability, and safety, and the result is simply a power supply without equal. Simply put, this is the highest-powered, most technologically-advanced power supply be quiet! has ever built.”
Kepler-based Mobile GPUs
Late last month, just before the tech world blew up from the mess that is Computex, NVIDIA announced a new line of mobility discrete graphics parts under the GTX 700M series label. At the time we simply posted some news and specifications about the new products but left performance evaluation for a later time. Today we have that for the highest end offering, the GeForce GTX 780M.
As with most mobility GPU releases it seems, the GTX 700M series is not really a new GPU and only offers cursory feature improvements. Based completely on the Kepler line of parts, the GTX 700M will range from 1536 CUDA cores on the GTX 780M to 768 cores on the GTX 760M.
The flagship GTX 780M is essentially a desktop GTX 680 card in a mobile form factor with lower clock speeds. With 1536 CUDA cores running at 823 MHz and boosting to higher speeds depending on the notebook configuration, a 256-bit memory controller running at 5 GHz, the GTX 780M will likely be the fastest mobile GPU you can buy. (And we’ll be testing that in the coming pages.)
The GTX 760M, 765M and 770M offering ranges of performance that scale down to 768 cores at 657 MHz. NVIDIA claims we’ll see the GTX 760M in systems as small as 14-in and below with weights at 2kg or so from vendors like MSI and Acer. For Ultrabooks and thinner machines you’ll have to step down to smaller, less power hungry GPUs like the GT 750 and 740 but even then we expect NVIDIA to have much faster gaming performance than the Haswell-based processor graphics.
A necessary gesture
NVIDIA views the gaming landscape as a constantly shifting medium that starts with the PC. But the company also sees mobile gaming, cloud gaming and even console gaming as part of the overall ecosystem. But that is all tied together by an investment in content – the game developers and game publishers that make the games that we play on PCs, tablets, phones and consoles.
The slide above shows NVIDIA targeting for each segment – expect for consoles obviously. NVIDIA GRID will address the cloud gaming infrastructure, GeForce and the GeForce Experience will continue with the PC systems and NVIDIA SHIELD and the Tegra SoC will get the focus for the mobile and tablet spaces. I find it interesting that NVIDIA has specifically called out Steam under the PC – maybe a hint of the future for the upcoming Steam Box?
The primary point of focus for today’s press meeting was to talk about the commitment that NVIDIA has to the gaming world and to developers. AMD has been talking up their 4-point attack on gaming that starts really with the dominance in the console markets. But NVIDIA has been the leader in the PC world for many years and doesn’t see that changing.
With several global testing facilities, the most impressive of which exists in Russia, NVIDIA tests more games, more hardware and more settings combinations than you can possibly imagine. They tune drivers and find optimal playing settings for more than 100 games that are now wrapped up into the GeForce Experience software. They write tools for developers to find software bottlenecks and test for game streaming latency (with the upcoming SHIELD). They invest more in those areas than any other hardware vendor.
This is a list of technologies that NVIDIA claims they invented or developed – an impressive list that includes things like programmable shaders, GPU compute, Boost technology and more.
Many of these turned out to be very important in the development and advancement of gaming – not for PCs but for ALL gaming.
JJ pays PC Perspective a visit!
In case you hadn't heard, on June the 4th, (world famous) JJ Guerrero from ASUS stopped by the PC Perspective offices to help host a live stream focused on Z87 platforms and the Intel Haswell processor. Since Intel decided to launch on a Saturday morning, you might have missed the boat: the Core i7-4770K was reviewed right here on PC Perspective and the results are pretty good.
Motherboards, we got motherboards here!!
Along with Haswell though is the release of the new Z87 chipset and with THAT, about 100 different ASUS motherboards. I exaggerate, but only a little. In our live stream that aired for about 4.5 hours, JJ and I discussed about 20 different motherboard ranging from Mini-ITX options to the budget-minded Z87-A and even the ROG Maximus VI Extreme!
Below you will find an on-demand version of the stream, broken up into five segments.
ASUS Z87 Motherboard Segmentation
This first segment details the mindset ASUS had when creating the four different motherboard product lines: Mainstream, Workstation, TUF and ROG. Why do they need all of these options and what features and quality points are common across the entire families?
ASUS Mainstream Z87 Motherboard Lineup
ASUS' new mainstream line of motherboards with the z87 chipset range from the Z87-A to the Z87-Deluxe/Dual. JJ talks about the features that are added as you move up the product stack so that you can find the option that fits your platform needs and budget.
Trinity... but Better!
Richland. We have been hearing this name for a solid nine months. Originally Richland was going to be a low end Trinity model that was budget oriented (or at least that was the context we heard it in). Turns out Richland is something quite different, though the product group does extend all the way from the budget products up to mainstream prices. We have seen both AMD and Intel make speed bin updates throughout the years with their products, but that seems like it is becoming a thing of the past. Instead, AMD is refreshing their Trinity product in a pretty significant matter. It is not simply a matter of binning these chips up a notch.
Trinity was released last Fall and it was a solid product in terms of overall performance and capabilities. It was well worth the price that AMD charged, especially when compared to Intel processors that would often be significantly slower in terms of graphics. The “Piledriver” architecture powers both Trinity and Richland, and it is an improved version of the original “Bulldozer” architecture. Piledriver included some small IPC gains, but the biggest advantage given was in terms of power. It is a much more power efficient architecture that can be clocked higher than the original Bulldozer parts. Trinity turned out to be a power sipping part for both mobile and desktop. In ways, it helped to really keep AMD afloat.
It turns out there were still some surprises in store from Trinity, and they have only been exposed by the latest Richland parts. AMD is hoping to keep in front of Intel in terms of graphics performance and compatibility, even in the face of the latest Haswell parts. While AMD has not ported over GCN to the Trinity/Richland lineup, the VLIW4 unit present in the current parts is still very competitive. What is perhaps more important, the software support for both 3D applications and GPGPU is outstanding.
An new era for computing? Or, just a bit of catching up?
Early Tuesday, at 2am for viewers in eastern North America, Intel performed their Computex 2013 keynote to officially kick off Haswell. Unlike ASUS from the night prior, Intel did not announce a barrage of new products; the purpose is to promote future technologies and the new products of their OEM and ODM partners. In all, there was a pretty wide variety of discussed topics.
Intel carried on with the computational era analogy: the 80's was dominated by mainframes; the 90's were predominantly client-server; and the 2000's brought the internet to the forefront. While true, they did not explicitly mention how each era never actually died but rather just bled through: we still use mainframes, especially with cloud infrastructure; we still use client-server; and just about no-one would argue that the internet has been displaced, despite its struggle against semi-native apps.
Intel believes that we are currently in the two-in-one era, which they probably mean "multiple-in-one" due to devices such as the ASUS Transformer Book Trio. They created a tagline, almost a mantra, illustrating their vision:
"It's a laptop when you need it; it's a tablet when you want it."
But before elaborating, they wanted to discuss their position in the mobile market. They believe they are becoming a major player in the mobile market with key design wins and outperforming some incumbent system on a chips (SoCs). The upcoming Silvermont architecture pines to be fill in the gaps below Haswell, driving smartphones and tablets and stretching upward to include entry-level notebooks and all-in-one PCs. The architecture promises to scale between offering three-fold more performance than its past generation, or a fifth of the power for equivalent performance.
Ryan discussed Silvermont last month, be sure to give his thoughts a browse for more depth.
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