Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Rampage V Edition 10 motherboard is the latest revision of ASUS' award winning Rampage V board, bring a new level of awesome of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) product line. The board features a fully enclosed rear panel, armor plating covering the lower half of the board back, upgraded audio components, and integrated RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration via its Intel X99 chipset. The Rampage V Edition 10 comes with a hefty MSRP of $599.99, in-line with other high-end Intel X99-based offering but in the higher tier of components nonetheless.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS integrated the following features into the Rampage V Edition 10 board: 10 SATA 3 ports; one U.2 32Gbps port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; dual GigE controllers - an Intel I218-V Gigabit NIC and an Intel I210 Gigabit NIC; 3x3 802.11ac WiFI adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; on-board power, reset, MemOK!, Retry, BIOS Switch, Safe Boot, Clear CMOS, and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; Slow Mode and Multi GPU mode switches; PCIe and DIMM lane switch blocks; LN2 Mode jumper; Aura LED 12V power header; 2-digit Q-Code LED diagnostic display; ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel audio subsystem with SupremeFX Hi-Fi adapter; and USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support. ASUS also included their Fan Extension controller card with the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

To better protect the critical components on the back of the board PCB, ASUS integrated an armored back plate covering the lower half of the PCB's back. the backplate covers the lower DIMM slot set traces and extends to cover the chipset area on teh left side of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Rampage V Edition 10 features an eight phase digital power system, providing more than enough power to the CPU for whatever you choose to throw at it. The power delivery system itself consists of Infineon PowIRStage IR3555 MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10k-rated Japanese-sourced black-metallic capacitors.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Rampage V Edition 10 motherboard!

Author:
Manufacturer: FSP Group Inc.

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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FSP Group Inc. has been designing and building PC power supplies under their own brand since 2003. Not only do they market power supplies under their own FSP name but they are the OEM for many other big name brands. FSP’s Hydro G lineup is part of their top-tier Premium Series and currently includes three models: 850W, 750W, and 650W. Now you might be thinking “Hydro” refers to water-cooling but it does not – the Hydro G series power supplies all use conventional air cooling. The Hydro apparently refers to the Hydro Dynamic Bearing used in the cooling fan.

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The power supply we have in for review is the Hydro G 850W unit. FSP developed the Hydro G Series with server grade circuitry and an advanced thermal layout. The unit comes with all modular cables and is certified to comply with the 80 Plus Gold efficiency criteria. The power supply is designed to deliver tight voltage regulation with excellent AC ripple and noise suppression. All Hydro G Series power supplies incorporate a quiet 135mm cooling fan, which starts out in silent fan-less mode and they come backed with a 5-year warranty.

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FSP Hydro G Series Gold PSU Key Features:

•    650W, 750W or 850W continuous DC output @ 50°C
•    Server grade circuits and advanced thermal layout
•    High efficiency, 80 PLUS Gold certified =90%
•    Complies with newest ATX12V & EPS12V standards
•    100% Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
•    Quiet 135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing fan
•    Intelligent fan control (allows fan-less operation at low power)
•    Powerfull single +12V rail design
•    Fully modular with flat ribbon-style cables
•    SLI and Crossfire ready
•    Protections: OCP, OVP, SCP, OPP, UVP and OTP
•    5-Year Manufacturer’s warranty

Please continue reading our review of the FSP Hydro G 850W PSU!!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Monster

Introduction and First Impressions

The Fatal1ty by Monster FXM100 gaming headset is designed to be very lightweight for a comfortable fit, while delivering powerful sound. It uses what the company calls “fHex720 Sound Chamber Technology”, which is said to provide clear, natural sound without distortion. In this review we’ll take a look at the design, and then explore fit, comfort, and (most of all) audio performance.

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We received the version of the headset currently being sold at retail, and while it's marketed for console gaming and mobile use (with a single 3.5 mm connector), an adapter for PC use is available. To evaluate PC sound I simply plugged the headset into my computer’s headphone jack, but if you need to split the headphone and microphone output (the headset’s 3.5 mm connector is a 3-conductor plug that handles both) you’ll need an adapter. We were told that the version of the headset that will be available for purchase online will include this adapter.

Monster lists these features for the FXM 100 headset:

  • Designed for Long Wear and Comfortable Fit
  • Built Strong and Durable to Take Anywhere
  • Exclusive fHex720 Sound Chamber Technology
  • Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound
  • Detachable Noise Cancelling Microphone
  • Exclusive Sound Chamber Technology​
  • Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound​
  • Custom Built Drivers for Maximum Detail​
  • Detachable Noise Canceling Microphone​
  • In-line Audio Controls ​
  • Tangle-free Cable​
  • Comfortable Over-Ear design

(Curiously, there are no specifics - driver size, sensitivity, frequency response, etc. - listed for these.)

One of the biggest features of this headset is its weight, and at just 6 oz it's a very light pair of gaming headphones. Just how powerful can the sound be when the total weight is so low? Let's find out!

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Continue reading our review of the Fatal1ty by Monster FXM 100 Gaming Headphones!!

Introduction and Specifications

In this roundup we'll explore the performance of three premium (and large) air coolers - with the ultra-popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in the mix to see how this $29 option stacks up against the big dogs on test.

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Many of the large air coolers on the market are built for ultra-efficient cooling at whisper-quiet volume levels. With massive heatsinks (and sometimes pairs of them) they can often cool demanding CPU loads with minimal fan speeds, and this usually results in very low noise output. Another advantage is the increased thermal headroom such a cooler provides, which can allow for overclocking without the need for liquid cooling - or even much additional noise.

So what coolers are included? In alphabetical order we have:

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Can the $29 Hyper 212 EVO hold its own in this group?

Kicking Cooler Testing up a Notch

I reviewed the Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT recently, using a Core i5 6600K-based test platform (the Scythe Ninja 4 was also reviewed using this platform), and readers correctly pointed out that a cooler of this size should really be tested with some more challenging thermal loads. The Core i5-6600K is a quad-core, single-threaded design with a 91W TDP, and in moving to a new CPU cooler test system I decided to make the jump to the 140W TDPs of Intel's LGA2011 processors.

So I ended up with a Core i7-6800K; a newer Broadwell-E design with a 6 core/12 thread configuration (and of course that 140W TDP). The base speed of the CPU is 3.40 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.60 GHz. Without much trouble I was able to push the CPU to 4.0 GHz on each core, and proceeded to test each of these coolers at both stock and OC frequencies. My hope is that the results to follow will adequately demonstrate just how effective these coolers are when really pressed.

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Continue reading our roundup of large CPU air coolers!!

Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Actiontec

Actiontec MoCA WCB6200Q and ECB6200 Review

Occasionally we’ll get some gear rolling through the PCPer offices that are a bit off the beaten path.  The pair of devices on tap today are something you may not come across often, and could very well be something you may not have even heard of.  They are niche products serving a niche need, and that niche is “MoCA.”  Today we’re looking at the Actiontec WCB6200Q 802.11ac MoCA 2.0 Wireless Network Extender and its partner in crime the Actiontec ECB6200 Bonded MoCA 2.0 Network Adapter.

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So, what the hell is “MoCA” you ask?  “MoCA” stands for “Multimedia over Coax Alliance” and is a standard for running data over in-house Coax wiring.  Whether you know it or not, you may have already run into MoCA networking as it's often used by cable and satellite companies to connect multi-room DVRs.  Established in 2004, the ‘Alliance’ currently has 45 members including pay TV operators, OEMs, manufacturers and IC vendors.  These members came together and developed a standard to create an in-home backbone for wireless network extension, multi-room digital video recorders (DVRs), over-the-top (OTT) streaming content as well as network access in MDU (Multiple Dwelling Unit) environments.  Using unused frequency bands on the Coax cabling, MoCA comes in 3 flavors, MoCA v1.1 that has speeds of up 175 Mbps, MoCA v2.0 was released in 2010 with speeds of up to 800 Mbps, and just recently announced in April of this year, MoCA v2.5 will see throughput of up to a whopping 2.5 Gbps.  Unfortunately, MoCA v2.5 is so new that we’ve not seen any related hardware yet.

So, what does all that actually mean?  Simply put, MoCA is a way for you to easily get high speed network connectivity to areas that you normally couldn’t.  Unless you are lucky enough to have a house with network drops in each room, you are most likely are using wireless to reach the far corners of your house.  But what if you can’t get a good signal somewhere in your home, or you can get a signal, but the throughput just isn’t up to snuff?  This is where MoCA is supposed to help.  You likely already have a ‘hard wire network’ running into every room of your house, and that’s Coax.  Using a MoCA network you can extend your high speed network’s footprint anywhere in your house you have a Coax port.

Continue reading our review of the Actiontec MoCA adapters!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Penclic

Introduction

The Professional Typist MK1 from Penclic is a compact, tenkeyless (TKL) mechanical keyboard with Kailh Brown switches that the Swedish company has designed "for the professional typist that wants to type fast, really fast."

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"Whether you are an engineer writing reports, journalist writing articles, or anyone else who uses a keyboard a lot, you require the best tool for the job. The brown mechanical keys give a distinct feel for when you have pressed far enough and are more responsive than membrane alternatives and the keystroke sound is also suitable for the office environment. These features enable users with extra nimble fingers to type superfast."

A relative newcomer to the PC industry (and one I had not heard of before now), Penclic was founded in 2011 and specializes in ergonomics and "smart, clean Scandinavian design". I can certainly appreciate the clean design aesthetic, which is refreshing after mainly covering products in an industry that thinks PC enthusiasts want RGB lighting on everything and Batmobile-inspired industrial design.

This keyboard may not be targeted specifically at "gamers", (it is called the "Professional Typist MK1" after all) but it could certainly be used in that capacity. Key switches are a personal thing - as is standard vs. TKL (and 60%, etc.) - but Penclic may just have produced a product that can appeal to just about any user.

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Continue reading our review of the Penclic Professional Typist MK1 mechanical keyboard!!

Introduction, Specifications, and First Impressions

Cooler Master has introduced a pair of new all-in-one liquid CPU cooler designs, with the former Nepton series now replaced by the MasterLiquid Pro 120 and 240. It is the larger of these that we have for you today, and in this review we'll see just how well this new design performs.

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“Based on our expertise in thermal technology, we reengineered how liquid absorbs and expels heat throughout the all-in-one (AIO) closed loop of the cooler. Our holistic approach to the flow puts in your hands a comprehensive cooling machine that lasts longer, performs better and requires virtually no maintenance.”

The MasterLiquid Pro 240 uses what Cooler Master is calling “FlowOp Technology”; a series of design choices that are intended to improve all aspects of the cooler's efficiency. It begins with the pump, which “sprays liquid directly at the center of the water block”, and the block, which offers what Cooler Master claims to be 657% more surface area (thanks to many more “ultra-fine fins on the copper base”) and 40% greater performance compared to previous designs.

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The radiator features a square fin design, which the company claims “creates greater surface area for absorption of the heat and allows for spacious airflow”.

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These claims, along with a pair of Cooler Master’s new “MasterFan Pro Air Balance” fans, make this new design sound very powerful, and I couldn’t wait to get it on the testbench to find out just how powerful - and quiet - it might be.

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Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 CPU Cooler!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus VIII Formula is the latest board in the ROG (Republic of Gamer) board line, featuring the Armor overlay common to the Formula and Sabertooth boards, integrated RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, and support for the Intel Z170 chipset. The base board aesthetics feature the ROG standard black and red in an ATX form factor. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset gives the board support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. The Maximus VIII Formula can be found in the wild for an MSRP of $399, making it more expensive than most offerings but justified in light of the integrated features and design quality of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS integrated the following features into the Maximus VIII Formula board: four SATA 3 ports; two SATA-Express ports; one U.2 32Gbps port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; 2x2 802.11ac WiFI adapter; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; on-board power, reset, MemOK!, Clear CMOS, and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; LN2 Mode jumper; Aura LED 12V power header; 2-digit Q-Code LED diagnostic display; Q-LED support; ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video ports; and USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus VIII Formula features an impressive 10 phase digital power system in an 8+2 configuration, providing more than enough power to the CPU/GPU for whatever you choose to throw at it. The power delivery system itself consists of Texas Instruments NexFET MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10k-rated Japanese-sourced black-metallic capacitors.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Maximus VIII Formula motherboard!

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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SilverStone Technology Inc. continues to focus attention on providing compact power supply solutions. Earlier this year we looked at the SilverStone SX700-LPT, which packed 700 watts into an extended SFX chassis. In this review we are going to check out SilverStone’s ST85F-PT, which packs 850W into a compact ATX enclosure. While the typical 850W ATX power supply measures 180mm (7.1”) deep, the Strider Platinum Series 850W unit is housed in a 140mm chassis (5.5”). This results in a power density of 471W per liter.

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The Strider Platinum Series now includes four compact models, the ST55F-PT (550W), ST65F-PT (650W), ST75F-PT (750W) and ST85F-PT (850W), which SilverStone claims are the smallest fully modular ATX power supplies with 80 Plus Platinum efficiency. All of the Strider Platinum Series PSUs are designed to provide quiet, reliable operation. The 120mm cooling fan incorporates a Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) and an intelligent fan control permits fanless operation at low power. Overall performance is optimized with tight voltage regulation and low AC ripple on the DC outputs.

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SilverStone Strider Platinum Series Key Features:
 
•    550W, 650W, 750W and 850W DC power output
•    Compact design with a depth of only 140mm for easy integration
•    High efficiency with 80 Plus Platinum certification
•    100% Modular cables
•    Intelligent semi-fanless operation
•    Quiet 120mm cooling fan with Fluid Dynamic Bearing
•    24/7 Continuous power output with 40°C operating temperature
•    Strict ±3% voltage regulation and low AC ripple
•    Dedicated single +12V rail
•    Universal AC input (90-264V) with Active PFC
•    DC Output protections: UVP, OVP, OPP, SCP, OCP, and OTP
•    Dimensions: 150mm (W) x 86mm (H) x 140mm (L)
•    5-Year warranty
•    MSRP : $159.99 USD (850W model)

Please continue reading our review of the SilverStone 750W Platinum PSU !!!

Manufacturer: Phanteks

Introduction and Specifications

The Phanteks Enthoo Primo is a massive full-tower case with a monolithic appearance, and a ton of cooling support. It's tall, heavy, and certainly looks every bit the premium enclosure the price tag indicates. So how did it perform? Read on to find out!

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We've reviewed other cases in the Enthoo series from Phanteks, and these have been a solid choice in their respective price ranges. The cases we've looked at offer excellent construction, nice appearance, and excellent component support. The Enthoo Primo sits at the top of the lineup, and it looks it; a nearly 26-inch tall case that is nearly as deep, it's so large it even has a second ATX power supply mount (a dual PSU adapter is offered as a separate purchase).

So what market does this Enthoo Primo case serve? It could house any sort of enthusiast or high-end workstation/server setup, supporting EATX and even SSI EEB motherboard form-factors. There's a ridiculous amount of liquid cooling potential, though given its size the average all-in-one cooler will need to stay close to the processor given the length of typical AIO cooler hoses. This thing is begging for a custom watercooling loop (sorry, I didn't oblige in this review).

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The Enthoo Primo is fitted with an aluminum faceplate

Continue reading our review of the Phanteks Enthoo Primo enclosure!!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech G

Play More

I don’t think it should come as a surprise that, as the PC gaming market has grown, so has the need for high performance and deeply customizable accessories. Just look at the explosion of companies like Razer, Corsair and SteelSeries, all fairly new entrants into the world of gaming-specific PC keyboards, mice, audio devices and more. Logitech is likely the oldest name in keyboards and mice that many of us know; also, if you have been paying even a semblance of attention recently, you know that the Logitech G brand has been putting the giant back into the mix in regards to those coveted high end PC gaming buyers.

But what about the rest of the community, the growing segment that includes kids, parents and users that were once dedicated console gamer? For many of the people that fall into this category, the idea of paying $150 for a keyboard and $150 for a mouse seems ludicrous, and sometimes it’s hard not to agree with them. To counter, how many of these newer and less experiences gamers are banging away on keyboards that shipped with their computer or with a keyboard and mouse combination that Mom or Dad brought home from the office? There remains a need for a set of gaming peripherals that are both gaming-centric but easy to use and low cost enough to address the mass market.

Logitech’s answer is the Logitech G Prodigy brand of devices. Launching today with two mice (wired and wireless), a keyboard and a headset, the Prodigy collection is meant to be low cost and easy to use, but still offers the key technologies and advantages that higher end hardware has created.

G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse

Available in both a wired and wireless version, priced at just $69 and $99 respectively, the G403 Prodigy mouse is a step above standard mice for gaming. The shape and feel of the unit are very clearly an iteration of the old Microsoft Intellimouse, which is one of the most, if not THE most popular input devices of the last 20 years. This gives the mouse an instantaneous familiarity to a large number of gamers and hey: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?

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The G403 has some impressive performance as well, with the same 1ms polling rate as the majority of Logitech G’s gaming mice. Both wired and wireless versions use the PMW3366 optical sensor, of which I am big fan of based on previous reviews and long term usage. This sensor is the same as the one used in the G900, for example, that doesn’t utilize pixel rounding giving gamers the most accurate translation from hand movement to screen without annoying mouse acceleration.

Continue reading our preview of the new Logitech G Prodigy product line!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction:

It's been quite some time since we saw a true client SSD come out of Intel. The last client product to use their legendary 10-channel controller was the SSD 320 (launched in 2011), and even that product had its foot in the enterprise door as it was rated for both client and enterprise usage. The products that followed began life as enterprise parts and were later reworked for consumer usage. The big examples here are the SATA-based SSD 730 (which began life as the SSD DC S3500/3700), and the PCI/NVMe-based SSD 750 (which was born from the SSD DC P3700). The enterprise hardware had little support for reduced power states, which led Intel to market the 730 as a desktop enthusiast part. The 750 had a great NVMe controller, but the 18-channel design and high idle power draw meant no chance for an M.2 form factor version of the same. With the recent addition of low-cost 3D NAND to their production lines, Intel has now made began another push into the consumer space. Their main client SSD of their new line is the 600p, which we will be taking a look at today:

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Read on for our full review of the Intel SSD 600p M.2 NVMe SSD!

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

What's new and what's not

While spending time learning about upcoming products and technologies at the Intel Developer Forum earlier this month, I sat down with the company to learn about the release of Kaby Lake, now known as the 7th Generation Core processor family. We have been seeing and reporting on the details of Kaby Lake for quite some time here on PC Perspective – it became a more important topic when we realized that this would be the product that officially killed off the ‘tick-tock’ design philosophy that Intel had implemented years ago and that was responsible for much of the innovation in the CPU space over the last decade.

Today Intel released new information about the 7th Gen CPU family and Kaby Lake. Let’s dive into this topic with a simple and straight forward mindset in how it compares to Skylake.

What is the same

Actually, quite a lot. At its core, the microarchitecture of Kaby Lake is identical to that of Skylake. Instructions per clock (IPC) remain the same with the exception of dedicated hardware changes in the media engine, so you should not expect any performance differences with Kaby Lake except with improved clock speeds we’ll discuss in a bit.

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Because of this lack of change many people will look down on the Kaby Lake release as Intel’s attempt to repackage an existing product to make sure it meets a financial market required annual product cadence. It is a valid but arguable criticism, but Intel is making changes in other areas that should make KBL an improvement in the thin and light ecosystem.

Also worth noting is that Intel is still building Kaby Lake on 14nm process technology, the same used on Skylake. The term “same” will be debated as well as Intel claims that improvements made in the process technology over the last 24 months have allowed them to expand clock speeds and improve on efficiency

What is changed

Dubbing this new revision of the process as “14nm+”, Intel tells me that they have improved the fin profile for the 3D transistors as well as channel strain while more tightly integrating the design process with manufacturing. The result is a 12% increase in process performance; that is a sizeable gain in a fairly tight time frame even for Intel.

That process improvement directly results in higher clock speeds for Kaby Lake when compared to Skylake when running at the same target TDPs. In general, we are looking at 300-400 MHz higher peak clock speeds in Turbo Boost situations when compared to similar TDP products in the 6th generation. Sustained clocks will very likely remain voltage / thermally limited but the ability spike up to higher clocks for even short bursts can improve performance and responsiveness of Kaby Lake when compared to Skylake.

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In these two examples, Intel compares the 15 watt Core i7-6500U (a common part in currently shipping notebooks) and the upcoming 15 watt Core i7-7500U, both with dual-core HyperThreaded configurations. In SYSmark 2014 a 12% score improvement is measured while WebXPRT shows a 19% advantage. Double digit performance increases are pretty astounding for a new generational jump that does not include a new microarchitecture or a new process technology (more or less) though we should temper expectations for other applications and workload profiles like content creation.

Continue reading our overview of Intel's Kaby Lake processors!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Strix X99 Gaming motherboard is the newest product in ASUS Strix product line, bringing a more performance gaming focused board into the ROG (Republic of Gamer) sphere. The board features an armored rear panel and audio components, integrated RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, and support for the Intel X99 chipset. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. The Maximus VIII Formula can be found in the wild for an MSRP of $399, making it more expensive than most offerings but justified in light of the integrated features and design quality of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS integrated the following features into the Strix X99 Gaming board: eight SATA 3 ports; one SATA-Express port; one U.2 32Gbps port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I218-V Gigabit NIC; 2x2 802.11ac WiFI adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; on-board power, reset, MemOK!, and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; Aura RGB LED 4-pin power header; RGB Q-Slot support; 2-digit Q-Code LED diagnostic display; Q-LED support; ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel audio subsystem; and USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Maximus VIII Formula motherboard!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HUAWEI

Introduction and Specifications

Immediately reminiscent of other phablet devices, the Mate 8 from HUAWEI is a characteristically large, thin slab of a smartphone. But under the hood there's quite a departure from the norm, as the SoC powering the device is new to the high-end phone market - no Qualcomm, Samsung, or even MediaTek here.

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"The Mate 8 takes the look and feel of the Mate series to a whole new level. Boasting a vivid 6" FHD display, an ultra slim design, a re-designed fingerprint sensor that's faster and more reliable, and a sleek aluminum unibody design, the Mate 8 is sure to impress."

The HiSilicon Kirin 950 powers the Mate 8; an 8-core design comprised of 4x ARM Cortex-A72 cores clocked at up to 2.3 GHz, and 4x ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.80 GHz. Memory is 3GB for our sample, with 32GB storage; with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage is also available.

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The Mate 8 looks every bit a premium device, and the metal and glass construction of the handset feels solid. It also feels rather light (185g) given its size. But how does it perform? This is an especially interesting question given the unusual silicon in the Mate 8, but the Kirin 950's Cortex-A72 is the most powerful ARM design (at least until the Cortex-A73, announced this summer, finds its way into devices).

In this review we'll explore the overall quality of the HUAWEI Mate 8, and go over usage impressions. And, of course, we'll look at some performance benchmarks to see how this Kirin 950 SoC stacks up against recent Snapdragon and Apple SoCs.

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Continue reading our review of the HUAWEI Mate 8 smartphone!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel launched their Datacenter 'P' Series parts a little over two years ago. Since then, the P3500, P3600, and P3700 lines have seen various expansions and spinoffs. The most recent to date was the P3608, which packed two full P3600's into a single HHHL form factor. With Intel 3D XPoint / Optane parts lurking just around the corner, I had assumed there would be no further branches of the P3xxx line, but Intel had other things in mind. IMFT 3D NAND offers greater die capacities at a reduced cost/GB, apparently even in MLC form, and Intel has infused this flash into their new P3520:

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Remember the P3500 series was Intel's lowest end of the P line, and as far as performance goes, the P3520 actually takes a further step back. The play here is to get the proven quality control and reliability of Intel's datacenter parts into a lower cost product. While the P3500 launched at $1.50/GB, the P3520 pushes that cost down *well* below $1/GB for a 2TB HHHL or U.2 SSD.

Read on for our full review of the Intel DC P3520 SSD!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Specifications and Card Breakdown

The flurry of retail built cards based on NVIDIA's new Pascal GPUs has been hitting us hard at PC Perspective. So much in fact that, coupled with new gaming notebooks, new monitors, new storage and a new church (you should listen to our podcast, really) output has slowed dramatically. How do you write reviews for all of these graphics cards when you don't even know where to start? My answer: blindly pick one and start typing away.

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Just after launch day of the GeForce GTX 1060, ASUS sent over the GTX 1060 Turbo 6GB card. Despite the name, the ASUS Turbo line of GTX 10-series graphics cards is the company's most basic, most stock iteration of graphics cards. That isn't necessarily a drawback though - you get reference level performance at the lowest available price and you still get the promises of quality and warranty from ASUS.

With a target MSRP of just $249, does the ASUS GTX 1060 Turbo make the cut for users looking for that perfect mainstream 1080p gaming graphics card? Let's find out.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo 6GB!

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Clean Sheet and New Focus

It is no secret that AMD has been struggling for some time.  The company has had success through the years, but it seems that the last decade has been somewhat bleak in terms of competitive advantages.  The company has certainly made an impact in throughout the decades with their 486 products, K6, the original Athlon, and the industry changing Athlon 64.  Since that time we have had a couple of bright spots with the Phenom II being far more competitive than expected, and the introduction of very solid graphics performance in their APUs.

Sadly for AMD their investment in the “Bulldozer” architecture was misplaced for where the industry was heading.  While we certainly see far more software support for multi-threaded CPUs, IPC is still extremely important for most workloads.  The original Bulldozer was somewhat rushed to market and was not fully optimized, while the “Piledriver” based Vishera products fixed many of these issues we have not seen the non-APU products updated to the latest Steamroller and Excavator architectures.  The non-APU desktop market has been served for the past four years with 32nm PD-SOI based parts that utilize a rebranded chipset base that has not changed since 2010.

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Four years ago AMD decided to change course entirely with their desktop and server CPUs.  Instead of evolving the “Bulldozer” style architecture featuring CMT (Core Multi-Threading) they were going to do a clean sheet design that focused on efficiency, IPC, and scalability.  While Bulldozer certainly could scale the thread count fairly effectively, the overall performance targets and clockspeeds needed to compete with Intel were just not feasible considering the challenges of process technology.  AMD brought back Jim Keller to lead this effort, an industry veteran with a huge amount of experience across multiple architectures.  Zen was born.

 

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This year’s Hot Chips is the first deep dive that we have received about the features of the Zen architecture.  Mike Clark is taking us through all of the changes and advances that we can expect with the upcoming Zen products.

Zen is a clean sheet design that borrows very little from previous architectures.  This is not to say that concepts that worked well in previous architectures were not revisited and optimized, but the overall floorplan has changed dramatically from what we have seen in the past.  AMD did not stand still with their Bulldozer products, and the latest Excavator core does improve upon the power consumption and performance of the original.  This evolution was simply not enough considering market pressures and Intel’s steady improvement of their core architecture year upon year.  Zen was designed to significantly improve IPC and AMD claims that this product has a whopping 40% increase in IPC (instructions per clock) from the latest Excavator core.

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AMD also has focused on scaling the Zen architecture from low power envelopes up to server level TDPs.  The company looks to have pushed down the top end power envelope of Zen from the 125+ watts of Bulldozer/Vishera into the more acceptable 95 to 100 watt range.  This also has allowed them to scale Zen down to the 15 to 25 watt TDP levels without sacrificing performance or overall efficiency.  Most architectures have sweet spots where they tend to perform best.  Vishera for example could scale nicely from 95 to 220 watts, but the design did not translate well into sub-65 watt envelopes.  Excavator based “Carrizo” products on the other hand could scale from 15 watts to 65 watts without real problems, but became terribly inefficient above 65 watts with increased clockspeeds.  Zen looks to address these differences by being able to scale from sub-25 watt TDPs up to 95 or 100.  In theory this should allow AMD to simplify their product stack by offering a common architecture across multiple platforms.

Click to continue reading about AMD's Zen architecture!

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Why Two 4GB GPUs Isn't Necessarily 8GB

We're trying something new here at PC Perspective. Some topics are fairly difficult to explain cleanly without accompanying images. We also like to go fairly deep into specific topics, so we're hoping that we can provide educational cartoons that explain these issues.

This pilot episode is about load-balancing and memory management in multi-GPU configurations. There seems to be a lot of confusion around what was (and was not) possible with DirectX 11 and OpenGL, and even more confusion about what DirectX 12, Mantle, and Vulkan allow developers to do. It highlights three different load-balancing algorithms, and even briefly mentions what LucidLogix was attempting to accomplish almost ten years ago.

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If you like it, and want to see more, please share and support us on Patreon. We're putting this out not knowing if it's popular enough to be sustainable. The best way to see more of this is to share!

Open the expanded article to see the transcript, below.

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Audeze

Introduction, Specifications, and Design

More than an ordinary pair of headphones, the SINE headphones from Audeze feature planar magnetic drivers, and the option of direct connection to an Apple Lightning port for pure digital sound from the SINE's inline 24-bit DAC and headphone amp. So how does the "world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone" sound? We first had a chance to hear the SINE headphones at CES, and Audeze was kind enough to loan us a pair to test them out.

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"SINE headphones, with our planar magnetic technology, are the next step up in sound quality for many listeners. Instead of using ordinary dynamic drivers, our planar technology gives you a sound that’s punchy, dynamic, and detailed. In fact, it sounds like a much larger headphone! It’s lightweight, and folds flat for easy travelling. Once again, we’ve called upon our strategic partner Designworks, a BMW group subsidiary for the industrial design, and we manufacture SINE headphones in the USA at our Southern California factory."

Planar headphones certainly seem be be gaining traction in recent years. It was a pair from Audeze that I was first was able to demo a couple of years ago (the LCD-3 if I recall correctly), and I remember thinking about how precise they sounded. Granted, I was listening via a high-end headphone amp and lossless digital source at a hi-fi audio shop, so I had no frame of reference for what my own, lower-end equipment at home could do. And while the SINE headphones are certainly very advanced and convenient as an all-in-one solution to high-end audio for iOS device owners, there’s more to the story.

One the distinct advantages provided by the SINE headphones is the consistency of the experience they can provide across compatible devices. If you hear the SINE in a store (or on the floor of a tradeshow, as I did) you’re going to hear the same sound at home or on the go, provided you are using an Apple i-device. The Lightning connector provides the digital source for your audio, and the SINE’s built-in DAC and headphone amp create the analog signal that travels to the planar magnetic drivers in the headphones. In fact, if your own source material is of higher quality you can get even better sound than you might hear in a demo - and that’s the catch with headphones like this: source material matters.

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One of the problems with high-end components in general is their ability to reveal the limitations of other equipment in the chain. Looking past the need for quality amplification for a moment, think about the differences you’ll immediately hear from different music sources. Listen to a highly-compressed audio stream, and it can sound rather flat and lifeless. Listen to uncompressed music from your iTunes library, and you will appreciate the more detailed sound. But move up to 24-bit studio master recordings (with their greater dynamic range and significantly higher level of detail), and you’ll be transported into the world of high-res audio with the speakers, DAC, and headphone amp you need to truly appreciate the difference.

Continue reading our review of the Audeze SINE Planar Magnetic headphones!