GDC 14: Valve's Steam Controller Is Similar to Dev Days

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | March 14, 2014 - 10:44 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 14, valve, Steam Controller

Two months ago, Valve presented a new prototype of their Steam Controller with a significantly changed button layout. While the overall shape and two thumbpads remained constant, the touchscreen disappeared and the face buttons more closely resembled something from an Xbox or PlayStation. Another prototype image has been released, ahead of GDC, without many changes.

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Valve is still in the iteration process for its controller, however. Ten controllers will be available at GDC, each handmade. This version has been tested internally for some undisclosed amount of time, but this will be the first time that others will give their feedback since the design that was shown at CES. The big unknown is: to what level are they going to respond to feedback? Are we at the stage where it is about button sizing? Or, will it change radically - like to a two-slice toaster case with buttons inside the slots.

GDC is taking place March 17th through the 21st. The expo floor opens on the 19th.

Author:
Manufacturer: NZXT

Installation

When the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X first launched last year, they were plagued by issues of overheating and variable clock speeds.  We looked at the situation several times over the course of a couple months and AMD tried to address the problem with newer drivers.  These drivers did help stabilize clock speeds (and thus performance) of the reference built R9 290 and R9 290X cards but caused noise levels to increase as well.  

The real solution was the release of custom cooled versions of the R9 290 and R9 290X from AMD partners like ASUS, MSI and others.  The ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II model for example, ran cooler, quieter and more consistently than any of the numerous reference models we had our hands on.  

But what about all those buyers that are still purchasing, or have already purchased, reference style R9 290 and 290X cards?  Replacing the cooler on the card is the best choice and thanks to our friends at NZXT we have a unique solution that combines standard self contained water coolers meant for CPUs with a custom built GPU bracket.  

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Our quick test will utilize one of the reference R9 290 cards AMD sent along at launch and two specific NZXT products.  The Kraken X40 is a standard CPU self contained water cooler that sells for $100 on Amazon.com.  For our purposes though we are going to team it up with the Kraken G10, a $30 GPU-specific bracket that allows you to use the X40 (and other water coolers) on the Radeon R9 290.

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Inside the box of the G10 you'll find an 80mm fan, a back plate, the bracket to attach the cooler to the GPU and all necessary installation hardware.  The G10 will support a wide range of GPUs, though they are targeted towards the reference designs of each:

NVIDIA : GTX 780 Ti, 780, 770, 760, Titan, 680, 670, 660Ti, 660, 580, 570, 560Ti, 560, 560SE 
AMD : R9 290X, 290, 280X*, 280*, 270X, 270 HD7970*, 7950*, 7870, 7850, 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 6770, 5870, 5850, 5830
 

That is pretty impressive but NZXT will caution you that custom designed boards may interfere.

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The installation process begins by removing the original cooler which in this case just means a lot of small screws.  Be careful when removing the screws on the actual heatsink retention bracket and alternate between screws to take it off evenly.

Continue reading about how the NZXT Kraken G10 can improve the cooling of the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X!!

Corsair and Cherry Answer Mechanical Keyboard Questions

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 10, 2014 - 11:16 PM |
Tagged: corsair, cherry, Cherry MX, mechanical keyboard

A lot of diverse topics arose from the Corsair blogs, lately. This time, they compiled fan questions and enlisted mechanical switch and keyboard manufacturer, Cherry Corporation, to provide answers. Coming in at over two-thousand words, it is quite lengthy.

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Many of the questions seemed to come from long-term fans of their mechanical keyboards. One person asked whether a specific ergonomic keyboard (G80-5000) would make a return, while another inquired about Cherry-branded Hall Effect switches (presumably for analog controls). In all, if you are interested in mechanical keyboards, it is worth a read. They kept a little secret sauce, secret, but otherwise seemed pretty open in their responses.

Source: Corsair

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of SilverStone

SilverStone Technology is a well known brand in the computer component space, offering high quality solutions for everything from cases to case-mounted fan controllers and displays. Their CPU air-coolers are some of the best in the industry with the latest incarnation being part of the Argon Series. The Argon Series AR01 CPU cooler is made for optimal cooling of your Intel socket 115X or AMD-based systems, comprised of a single aluminum radiator tied to a copper base-plate via a set of copper heat pipes with a 120mm fan for heat dissipation. To prove out the performance of the AR01 unit, we tested put it up against other high-performance liquid and air-based coolers. At a retail MSRP of $34.99, the AR01 cooler has a great performance to price ratio for its cooling potential.

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Courtesy of SilverStone

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Courtesy of SilverStone

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Argon Series AR01 CPU air cooler!

Razer Designs New Mechanical Switches

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 6, 2014 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: razer, Cherry MX, cherry, mechanical keyboard

So Razer has a history of doing the unexpected. The peripheral manufacturer has branched out into other segments, including laptops, tablets, software, exercise equipment, and so forth. Their April Fools announcements are often hilarious but their real products sometimes feel as far-fetched, except that they release and apparently find an audience. If Project Christine comes out then it would be the best example, but Project Fiona and the Razer Blade seemed just as unlikely - and I've seen multiple Blades in the wild.

And yet it is their keyboard announcement which surprises me, today.

It turns out that Razer decided to design their own key switch modules, instead of ordering them off-the-shelf from ZF Electronics (Cherry). Razer will not manufacture these key modules, and they look enough like Cherry MX switches that I could guess who their third party manufacturer is, but they did push their own specifications. Razer claims that the main advantage is a higher actuation point, leading to less latency between when your finger starts moving, and when it has moved enough to activate the button.

Razer has developed two switches: "Green", which is their analogy of the Cherry MX Blue, and "Orange", which is analogous to the Cherry MX Brown. The former is clicky while the latter has a relatively silent bump.

The Green switches are available in the BlackWidow, BlackWidow Tournament, and BlackWidow (with the Orange switches in each Stealth variant). Some models will ship in late March with the rest shipping in April.

Source: Razer

Corsair Blogs About... Oh Come On!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 1, 2014 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: corsair, mining

When mining some form of cryptographic coin, very few components in the system are utilized. A GPU is basically a self-contained massively parallel cruncher with its own memory and logic. The host system just needs to batch the tasks which leads to PCs with dirt-cheap CPUs, a very modest amount of RAM, and quite literally a half-dozen high-end graphics cards.

If you thought that gaming machines skew a little too much towards GPUs, you should see a mining rig with five R9 290X cards fed by a Sempron.

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As you can guess, since many GPUs are double-slot, it might be difficult to fit seven of them in a seven-slot motherboard with a limited number PCIe lanes. To get around this limitation, miners attach their graphics cards to extension cables. Thankfully (for them), mining does not pass a lot of data across the bus to the host system. Even a single PCIe fails to be a bottleneck, apparently.

Anyway, the Corsair blog created an open-air rack which hangs six graphics cards (five HD 7970s and a R9 290X) above a motherboard housing an Intel Celeron G1830. For air, a quartet of Corsair fans suck air upwards and around the graphics cards. For power, of course they use the Corsair AX1500i because why not mine with an arc welding torch. It apparently had more power capacity than the breaker they originally hooked it up to. Whoops.

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While ridiculous, I do hope to see systems with multiple (even mismatched) graphics processors as we move toward batches of general mathematics. PhysX was not entirely successful in teaching users that GPUs do not need to be in SLi or Crossfire configurations to load balance. It is just finding an appropriate way to split tasks without requiring a lot of bottlenecks in setting it up.

I might not mine coins, but I could see some benefit to having 35 TeraFLOPs across seven compute devices. I could also see Corsair wanting to sell me a power supply for said PC.

Source: Corsair
Manufacturer: Antec

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Antec

Antec is an established company and brand-name in the computer component space, offering quality solutions for everything from cases and power supplies to thermal paste and case-mounted fan controllers. Their latest foray is into the world of liquid cooling. The KUHLER H20 1250 is their flagship liquid cooler, featuring an all-in-one dual pump design, a 240mm x 120mm x 25mm aluminum radiator, and hardware monitoring support via the integrated USB cable and the included Antec Grid software. The KUHLER H2O 1250 comes standard with support for all current Intel and AMD CPU offerings. To gage the performance of Antec's flagship cooler, we set it against several other high-performance liquid and air-based coolers. With a retail MSRP of $109.99, the KUHLER H2O 1250 cooler comes at a premium for all the premium features it has to offer.

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Courtesy of Antec

The KUHLER H2O 1250 liquid cooler was designed for a single purpose, to keep your process as cool as possible. Antec includes two pumps with the unit, one integrated into each fan. The top pump pulls liquid through the radiator and pushes it to the CPU block through the radiator outlet, while the bottom pump pulls water from the CPU block through the radiator inlet and pushes it through the radiator towards the top pump.

Continue reading our review of the Antec KUHLER H20 1250 all-in-one liquid cooler!

Antec bumps up it's Kuhler series with the 1250

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 24, 2014 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: antec, all in one, water cooler, KUHLER H20 1250

As you might expect from the name, the Antec Kuhler 1250 is a larger version of the popular all in one liquid CPU coolers. This model is designed for overclockers, with a radiator measuring 159mm x  120mm x  27mm which does limit the amount of enclosures it will fit in unless you plan on an external mount.  As it is only $10 more than the smaller 950 it comes out ahead on [H]ard|OCP's dollar to performance ratio; at $120 it is a bit of an investment but for overclockers it is a decent solution to heat problems.

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"Antec and its All-In-One sealed system CPU coolers have been around for a good while now. We still have some of its first series working well here in the HardOCP offices. Today we have Antec's newly designed high end Kuhler model 1250. It has some unique offerings all based on new cold plates and big double fan radiator."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Seasonic's S12G-550; you have to pay for prime power

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 21, 2014 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: PSU, seasonic, S12G-550, 550W, 80 Plus Gold

With an 80 Plus Gold rating and the ability to deliver 45A on its single 12V rail the 550W Seasonic S12G-550 PSU is perfect for a mid-range rig.  A pair of 6+2 PCIe connectors gives you a choice of powering a single high end GPU or two low or midrange GPUs.  It is also relatively small, barely larger than the 120mm cooling fan it uses though some may be turned off by its non-modular cables.  At around $85 it is not the least expensive model at that wattage but [H]ard|OCP's Silver Award proves it is worth it if you want solid power for your system.

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"Seasonic builds some of the best computer power supplies on the market. When do we ever get a power supply that is actually a better product than what it is marketed to be? Not often, but that is the case with the S12G-550 PSU. It is not terribly inexpensive, but it is a great value for your hard earned dollars."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of SilverStone

SilverStone Technology is a well known brand name with high quality solutions in the form of everything from cases to case-mounted fan controllers and displays. They have also gone through several iterations of CPU all-in-on liquid cooling solutions with their newest models being part of the Tundra Series. The Tundra Series TD02 liquid cooler is designed to cool CPUs of any make, including the latest offering from both Intel and AMD. The cooler is comprised of a massive 2x120mm radiator attached to a copper base plate with integrated pump. To best measure the TD02's performance, we set it against several other high-performance liquid and air-based coolers. With a retail MSRP of $129.99, the TD02 comes in at the higher end of the all-in-one cooler price range.

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Courtesy of SilverStone

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone Tundra Series TD02 all-in-one liquid cooler!