Valve Releases Steamworks API for Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 19, 2013 - 03:42 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is a gamepad where touch replaces analog joysticks. Developed internally at Valve, its design focused on being a comfortable gaming accessory which did not compromise on the accuracy allowed by an absolute position-based input device (ie: a mouse). Velocity-based inputs, such as thumbsticks, have the hand-eye and/or timing problem where we need feedback to know when to cease giving input to actually stop. It is a lot easier to make a good estimate of how far to move your hand (or finger, or eye) and perform that action without further feedback necessary.

It is just how we behave.

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Valve is very confident in their design and believes that it is accurate enough to emulate a mouse. In fact, most games (if and until the Steam Controller gains traction) will be operating in "Legacy Mode" which emulates a mouse and keyboard. They are requesting that the community develop many shared profiles, on a game-by-game basis, to give a large catalog of known configurations by the time the device ships publicly.

But what about the not "Legacy Mode"? The main announcement is that Valve has shipped the controller's Steamworks API to allow developers direct access to its hardware. In other words, rather than emulate a mouse and keyboard, the developer can use the hardware in the way they see fit. Of course this will be most useful for the touchscreen (if a blank 4-quadrant button is insufficient) and the haptic feedback but can also mean new methods of emulating the velocity-based input of a gamepad.

Remember, I said velocity input is less accurate for things like rapid rotation between randomly oriented targets. Flight games often prefer long continuous input which are great for joysticks and thumbsticks. Simply put, traditional gamepads are "better" at certain things (driving games, flight games, third-person games where accuracy is not important but quickly pressing one of four-or-so commands is, etc.). Many developers will want this controller to solve those problems, too.

Keep an eye out at Steam Universe for more updates like these; they occur rapidly as of late.

Manufacturer: Be Quiet!

Introduction and Features

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Be Quiet! has been a market leader for PC power supplies in Germany for seven years straight and in 2013 they are continuing to expand their PC power supply lineup into North American markets.  Earlier this year, we reviewed Be Quiet!’s top-of-the-line Dark Power Pro 10 850W PSU and the value-minded Pure Power L8 Series with very good results. Now we are going to take a look at the new Power Zone Series, sprecifically the Power Zone 1000W PSU.  The Power Zone Series features a 135mm Be Quiet! SilentWings fan, are certified for 80Plus Bronze efficiency, come with all-modular cables, and are backed by a 5-year warranty.

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Be Quiet! is targeting the Power Zone Series towards discerning gamers and PC enthusiasts seeking high power, top performance and great features.

Here is what Be Quiet! has to say about their Power Zone Series: “The Power Zone Series provides the winning combination of superior performance, rock-solid stability, and advanced cooling. Whether you are assembling a high power PC or multi-GPU gaming system, your build will benefit from the Power Zone features. The Power Zone 1000W hits the sweet spot with granite stability, advanced cooling features, low noise and great value.

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Be Quiet! Power Zone 1000W PSU Key Features:

• 1000W of continuous power output @ 50°C
• Massive +12V rail design is ideal for overclocking
• Full cable management supports maximum build flexibility
• Quiet operation: 135mm SilentWings fan with 6-pole motor
• COOL*OFF feature runs fans for 3 minutes after system shutdown
• Connect up to three case fans for optimized system cooling
• 80Plus Bronze certification (up to 90% power conversion efficiency)
• Meets Energy Star 5.2 Guidelines
• Fulfills ErP 2013 Guidelines
• Supports Intel’s Deep Power Down C6 mode
• Sleeved cables for improved cooling and more attractive looks
• NVIDIA SLI Ready and AMD CrossFireX certified
• Up to six PCI-E connectors for multi-GPU support
• 5-Year warranty
• German product conception, design and quality control

Please continue reading our Power Zone 1000W power supply review!!!

Will PC Power and Cooling be Silenced?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 13, 2013 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, 750w, silencer mk III, pc power & cooling

PC Power & Cooling have been providers of high quality PSUs for a long time and are keeping up the pace, recently with the updated 750W Silencer Mk III.  They have a unique style, black and white colouring and a proprietary connector for their modular cabling that both looks and connects better than some of the recessed plastic connectors seen on other models.  Unfortunately since OCZ purchased the company they have gone from being the PSU all other companies try to match to a mid-range supplier that provides decent PSUs but lack the incredible quality they once possessed, as you can see by [H]ard|OCP's Pass marking without an award.  This may well be one of the last models you see labelled PC Power & Cooling, with OCZ's bankruptcy the continuation of the PSU business is in doubt.

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"PC Power & Cooling is back on our test bench today and it has been a while. Today it is promising "industrial-grade performance and stability," with "ultimate efficiency," and "ultra-quiet operation" with its Silencer Mk III 750 watt PSU. We put it to the test to see if OCZ has done anything to return its PSUs to your next build."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NZXT G10 Allows Users To Unleash The AIO Water Cooler Kraken On Graphics Cards

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 12, 2013 - 04:03 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, nzxt, kraken, gpu cooler

NZXT has a new cooling product coming out next week that caught my attention recently. Called the KRAKEN G10, it is a bracket and fan assembly that allows users to attach All In One (AIO) water coolers – those traditionally aimed at CPUs – to graphics cards. The Kraken G10 consists of a steel bracket with a CPU waterblock mounting hole, 92mm fan, and water tube routing space.

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The Kraken G10 is a stylish approach to pairing cheap sealed water coolers to graphics cards with reference PCBs – a feat that has traditionally been limited to adventurous enthusiasts armed with zip ties and a good deal of patience. The bracket is compatible with many recent GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA, and it allows enthusiasts to mount AIO water coolers from NZXT as well as other manufacturers. The water cooler is then able to efficiently cool the GPU while the pre-installed 92mm fan works to keep the VRM and memory areas of the graphics card cool. The G10 bracket measures 177 x 32.5 x 110.6 mm (WxHxD) and comes in white, black, or red with white fan blades and NZXT logos on the side and fan.

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Specifically, the KRAKEN G10 supports the following graphics card models (with reference PCBs only).

AMD NVIDIA
  • R9 290X
  • R9 270X
  • HD 7870
  • HD 7850
  • HD 6970
  • HD 6950
  • HD 6870
  • HD 6850
  • HD 6790
  • HD 6770
  • HD 5870
  • HD 5850
  • HD 5830
  • GTX TITAN
  • GTX 780
  • GTX 770
  • GTX 760
  • GTX 680
  • GTX 670
  • GTX 660 Ti
  • GTX 580
  • GTX 570
  • GTX 560 Ti
  • GTX 560
  • GTX 560SE

Further, users can use the G10 to mount the waterblocks of the following sealed loop water coolers.

Antec Corsair NZXT Thermaltake Zalman
KUHLER H2O 920V4 H110 KRAKEN X60 Water 3.0 Extreme LQ-320
KUHLER H2O 620V4 H90 KRAKEN X40 Water 3.0 Pro LQ-315
KUHLER H2O 920 H55   Water 3.0 Performer LQ-310
KUHLER H2O 620 H50   Water 2.0 Extreme  
      Water 2.0 Pro  
      Water 2.0 Performer  

It is a niche, but useful, product that can allow users to more easily upgrade the cooling of their graphics cards to allow for higher overclocks and/or quieter operation. The NZXT KRAKEN G10 will be available on December 16, 2013 for $29.99 from NZXT’s website. Update: It appears the first batch of G10 brackets has sold out already. Fret not, a second batch of Kraken G10s will be available towards the middle of next month according to NZXT. (End of update.)

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Are you planning to unleash the Kraken G10 on your GPUs (I expect crypto currency miners might be especially interested in this product heh).

Source: NZXT

Cool, queit and customizable; Enermax wins again with the iVektor ATX case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 10, 2013 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: enermax, iVektor, atx case

The Enermax iVektor is an ATX case with quite a few drive bays, all tool-less installation and space at the top of the case for a radiator if you prefer watercooling.  Three 5.25" bays and seven 3.5" of which four can be converted to 2.5" for SSDs ought to give you enough space for storage and controllers.  Up to six 120mm fans can be installed, that number drops to four if you install a 240mm radiator at the top of the case.  [H]ard|OCP were impressed with both the thermal performance and low noise of the case as well as the with customization possible, earning this ~$80 case a Gold Award.

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"Enermax has long been an enthusiast brand associated with some of the best computer power supplies made in the industry. Over the last couple of years it has also developed a very strong following in computer case arena with DIYers. Today we look at the iVektor case designed by Enermax and it looks to be a strong contender for your next build."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CES 14: Corsair & Cherry Partner on RGB-backlit Keyboard(s)

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 4, 2013 - 03:52 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX, cherry, CES 2014

The three little letters that instill fear in tech journalists (and vendors) right around the holiday season: CES. This will be the first of many news posts coming out of that event -- it is still a month away! Companies are already preparing for what will come after the holidays. Brace yourselves!

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Corsair and Cherry have just released a preview of their upcoming CES announcement. Mechanical keyboards (at least those based on Cherry MX switches) were only rarely backlit. Pretty much every model of Cherry MX-based keyboard with per-key LED lighting was, at one point, developed by iOne (they produced the XArmor line of backlit keyboards and collaborated with Razer on the BlackWidow). I am not particularly sure what the difficulty was from an engineering standpoint but I do know it was rare.

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Cherry, themselves, are assisting the next evolution of this technology. The company has developed a special version of their MX Red-class switch with built-in RGB illumination. The mixture of these three colors allows for a key to be lit by any color in the visible spectrum (up to the precision allowed by hardware and software). Their press release suggests 8-bit per channel control (~16.7 million colors). Their exclusive launch partner for this 2014 debut will be Corsair.

Clearly their K-series keyboards sold well.

If you want to learn more about the Cherry MX switches, be sure to check out our overview from 2012. Also, check out the Cherry website for a ridiculously informative breakdown of the switch all each of its components. Seriously, this puts my animation to shame; it is kind of depressing.

Also, check out the press blast after the break.

Source: Cherry
Manufacturer: Noctua

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Noctua

Noctua is a well known name in the enthusiast world for its high-end CPU cooler products. Their flagship cooler, the NH-D14, features a nickel-plated copper base with dual radiator towers actively cooled by low noise 120mm and 140mm fans. The NH-D14 can be used with all current Intel and AMD CPU offerings. The cooler was put to the test against other similarly classed air and water-based cooling systems to see just how well Noctua's design would hold up. The Noctua NH-D14 does not come cheap with a retail price at $99.99, but its performance and utility should make up for that initial outlay.

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Courtesy of Noctua

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Courtesy of Noctua

The Noctua NH-D14 cooler is everything you would expect in a premium CPU cooler - nickel-plating for corrosion resistance, twin-tower radiators for massive heat dissipation potential, and copper / aluminum hybrid design for optimal heat transfer from the CPU. Noctua designed the NH-D14 with a total of six heat pipes, laid out in a U-shaped design which passes through the copper base plate and terminates in the radiator towers. The bottom of the copper base plate leaves the factory ground flat and polished to a mirror-like finish, ensuring optimal interfacing with the CPU surface.

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Courtesy of Noctua

Noctua included the following components in with the base cooler: SecureFirm2™ multi-socket mounting kit, NF-P14 140mm fan, NF-P12 120mm fan, four fan mounting brackets, a dual-ended fan power cable, two single-fan low power cables, a case badge, and NT-H1 thermal compound.

Continue reading our review of the Noctua NH-D14 CPU air cooler!

Noctua puts their new NH-U12S on a diet

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 25, 2013 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: noctua, NH-U12S, heatsink

Noctua have attempted to strike a balance between performance and profile with the NH-U12S, slimming it down to allow for tall heatspreaders to be used on RAM but without shaving off too much performance.  From the tests performed at [H]ard|OCP it seems that Noctua did exactly what they claimed, there is plenty of space to fill all your DIMM slots with any brand of RAM and the performance at stock speeds was better than average.  It is a little more expensive than some alternatives and is not the best at cooling an overclocked CPU but but of you want a slim profile and reasonably quiet performance this is a good choice.

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"The Noctua NH-U12S is well known in enthusiast circles for a few reasons. Noctua states it is because, "the NH-U12S is a complete premium quality solution that combines outstanding performance, quiet operation and excellent compatibility." And quite frankly Noctua would be very correct. Where does the value stand today?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Releases Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2 Driver To Correct Performance Variance Issue of R9 290 Series Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | November 8, 2013 - 02:41 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, powertune, hawaii, graphics drivers, gpu, GCN, catalyst 13.11 beta, amd, 290x

AMD recently launched its 290X graphics card, which is the new high-end single GPU solution using a GCN-based Hawaii architecture. The new GPU is rather large and incorporates an updated version of AMD's PowerTune technology to automatically adjust clockspeeds based on temperature and a maximum fan speed of 40%. Unfortunately, it seems that some 290X cards available at retail exhibited performance characteristics that varied from review units.

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AMD has looked into the issue and released the following statement in response to the performance variances (which PC Perspective is looking into as well).

Hello, We've identified that there's variability in fan speeds across AMD R9 290 series boards. This variability in fan speed translates into variability of the cooling capacity of the fan-sink. The flexibility of AMD PowerTune technology enables us to correct this variability in a driver update. This update will normalize the fan RPMs to the correct values.

The correct target RPM values are 2200RPM for the AMD Radeon R9 290X "Quiet mode", and 2650RPM for the R9 290. You can verify these in GPU-Z. If you're working on stories relating to R9 290 series products, please use this driver as it will reduce any variability in fan speeds. This driver will be posted publicly tonight.

From the AMD statement, it seems to be an issue with fan speeds from card to card causing the performance variances. With a GPU that is rated to run at up to 95C, a fan limited to 40% maximum, and dynamic clockspeeds, it is only natural that cards could perform differently, especially if case airflow is not up to par. On the other hand, the specific issue pointed out by other technology review sites (per my understanding, it was initially Tom's Hardware that reported on the retail vs review sample variance) is  an issue where the 40% maximum on certain cards is not actually the RPM target that AMD intended.

AMD intended for the Radeon R9 290X's fan to run at 2200RPM (40%) in Quiet Mode and the fan on the R9 290 (which has a maximum fan speed percentage of 47%) to spin at 2650 RPM in Quiet Mode. However, some cards 40% values are not actually hitting those intended RPMs, which is causing performance differences due to cooling and PowerTune adjusting the clockspeeds accordingly.

Luckily, the issue is being worked on by AMD, and it is reportedly rectified by a driver update. The driver update ensures that the fans are actually spinning at the intended speed when set to the 40% (R9 290X) or 47% (R9 290) values in Catalyst Control Center. The new driver, which includes the fix, is version Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2 and is available for download now. 

If you are running a R9 290 or R9 290X in your system, you should consider updating to the latest driver to ensure you are getting the cooling (and as a result gaming) performance you are supposed to be getting.

Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2 is available from the AMD website.

Also read:

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on the Radeon R9 290 series GPU performance variance issue as it develops.

Image credit: Ryan Shrout (PC Perspective).

Source: AMD

Are you still lapping your heatsinks?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 4, 2013 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: lapping, heatsink, DIY

Back in the ancient past of aircooling, when heatsinks did not weigh a kilogram and 120mm fans were a novelty item and not the standard many enthusiasts practiced the art of lapping.  With a water tray and automotive grade sandpaper of increasingly fine grit you could not only flatten the base of the heatsink, something that was all too necessary for some models, you could also acheive a mirror finish which helped your heat paste spread evenly.  Today you do not hear much talk of lapping either heatsinks nor the integrated heatspreader on CPUs and SPCR decided to test if it remains a good practice.  Check out the difference a proper lapping job still makes, though keep in mind lapping the IHS on your CPU will void the warranty and could weaken its structure.

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Not what you want to see!

"Lapping the CPU in a heatsink test platform is probably a controversial move that's bound to provoke reactions. Funny thing is, it was done a year ago, and photos of the CPU showing the copper top exposed by the lapping have been featured in many of our reviews. Yet, not a single comment. This article goes through the problems, investigations and explorations that led us to lap our Core i7-965 Extreme test CPU, and analyzes the results and implications."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

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