DirectX 12 Preview in New Windows 10 Build. No Drivers Yet.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 23, 2015 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, dx12, DirectX 12, DirectX

Microsoft has added DirectX 12 with the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview that was released today. Until today, DXDIAG reported DirectX 11 in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. At the moment, there has not been any drivers or software released for it, and the SDK is also no-where to be found. Really, all this means is that one barrier has been lifted, leaving the burden on hardware and software partners (except to release the SDK, that's still Microsoft's responsibility).

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No-one needs to know how old my motherboard is...

Note: I have already experienced some issues with Build 9926. Within a half hour of using it, I suffered an instant power-down. There was not even enough time for a bluescreen. When it came back, my Intel GPU (which worked for a few minutes after the update) refused to be activated, along with the monitor it is attached to. My point? Not for production machines.

The interesting part, to me, is how Microsoft pushed DX12 into this release without, you know, telling anyone. It is not on any changelog that I can see, and it was not mentioned anywhere in the briefing as potentially being in an upcoming preview build. Before the keynote, I had a theory that it would be included but, after the announcement, figured that it might be pushed until GDC or BUILD (but I kept an open mind). The only evidence that it might come this month was an editorial on Forbes that referenced a conversation with Futuremark, who allegedly wanted to release an update to 3DMark (they hoped) when Microsoft released the new build. I could not find anything else, so I didn't report on it -- you would think that there would be a second source for that somewhere. It turns out that he might be right.

The new Windows 10 Technical Preview, containing DirectX 12, is available now from the preview build panel. It looks like Futuremark (and maybe others) will soon release software for it, but no hardware vendor has released a driver... yet.

The GIGABYTE FORCE M63 mouse strips for you

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2015 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: input, FORCE M63, gigabyte, gaming mouse

The newest in Gigabyte's Raptor lineup is the FORCE M63 gaming mouse, with sensitivity adjustable between 50 to 4000 DPI and a pack of weights which allow you to adjust between 1.8 to 21.3g.  The sensor is an Avago a3090 and the buttons all use OMRON and TTC switches and there is enough onboard memory to program the 10 buttons in numerous profiles, each of which can produce a different coloured light on your mouse wheel if you so choose.  Modders Inc were quite happy with the performance, head on over to see shots of the innards of the mouse as well as the software.

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"To win in the game you need to customize your controls for maximum speed and comfort. It is very important to feel in control of your character whether you are playing an FPS game or an RPG. If you think all of the peripherals are equal in performance, comfort or customization; you are wrong. There are numerous types and styles …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Taking the HoloLens with a grain of salt

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, hololens

That fancy black visor was not what was provided to those lucky few who were invited to try out the HoloLens after the WinX presentation.  The working model consists of straps and an adjustable headband holding the lenses all enclosed within a wire frame to which is attached an external enclosure holding the battery and processors.  There were four different experiments to try, including the Minecraft looking demo we saw on stage and a virtual Mars experience using the data captured by Curiosity.  We won't be seeing the slick model demonstrated on stage any time soon but the technology is solid and was enough to convince The Register that Microsoft has an incredible product in store for us.

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"During Wednesday's Windows 10 preview day, select groups of hacks were stripped of any recording devices or cameras and sent down into the bowels of Building 92 of Microsoft's Redmond campus to try out the HoloLens, the software giant's new "hologramatic" wearable."

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Source: The Register

New MSI All In One PCs Powered By AMD Beema APUs

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2015 - 12:56 AM |
Tagged: msi, beema, APU, amd, all in one, AIO

MSI will soon release three new All In One PCs under its Adora and Entertainment series. The new PCs are powered by AMD’s Beema APU and are aimed at light duty home computing and commercial applications respectively.

Beema Powered MSI All In One PC.jpg

MSI AE200 5M and AE220 5M AIO PC

The AIOs are clad in a white plastic casing with a clear bezel surrounding the matte display.  The Adora20 5M offers a 19.5” 1600 x 900 screen while the AE200 5M and AE220 5M feature a 19.5” 1600 x 900 and 21.5” 1920 x 1080 displays respectively. All the displays use MSI’s anti flicker, blue light reduction, and optional anti-glare technologies to reduce eye strain. The panels are multi-touch capable as well.

As far as I/O, the AIOs have webcams, optical disc drives, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet, analog audio in/out, and an SD card reader. All of the PCs support 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The Entertainment series PCs (AE200 5M and AE220 5M) further add a Mini-PCIe connection and a COM port on the back to support barcode scanners, card readers, and other legacy peripherals.

Internally, the PCs are powered by a low power AMD “Beema” APU, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a single 2.5” SATA III hard drive or SSD. The Beema APUs in question are the AMD A4-6210 and E2-6110 with the Adora20 5M getting the latter chip. Both processors are 15W 28nm SoCs with four Puma+ x86 cores and discrete Radeon GCN graphics. The A4-6210 and E2-6110 are similarly configured but the A4-6210 has higher clockspeeds on the quad core CPU (up to 1.8GHz vs 1.5GHz) and 128 GCN graphics cores (600MHz vs 500MHz). Josh wrote up an article following the launch of Beema that goes into more details, but the gist of it is that Beema is competing with Intel’s Bay Trail Atom chips in this area and the chips tend to trade benchmark wins. Depending on the application used under Windows 7/8.1, users should see roughly similar performance versus an Atom based system. I will admit to being surprised to see AMD get a design win here given the huge popularity of Bay Trail, but in this form factor Beema should do well.

Beema Powered MSI All In One PC rear IO.jpg

Rear IO of the AE220 5M and AE200 5M PCs.

As is usually the case with these sort of announcements, there is no word on pricing or availability yet. Keep in mind that the AE200 5M and AE220 5M are aimed at businesses for use as kiosks, checkout terminals, product demonstrations, et al while the Adora20 5M is aimed more towards consumers who need a second PC or a primary PC for those with basic (mostly web-based or media playback focused) needs.

Source: MSI

PCPer Live! GeForce GTX 960 Live Stream and Giveaway with Tom Petersen

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 22, 2015 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: video, tom petersen, nvidia, maxwell, live, gtx 960, gtx, GM206, geforce

UPDATE 2: If you missed the live stream you missed the prizes! But you can still watch the replay to get all the information and Q&A that went along with it as we discuss the GTX 960 and many more topics from the NVIDIA universe.

UPDATE (1/22): Well, the secret is out. Today's discussion will be about the new GeForce GTX 960, a $199 graphics card that takes power efficiency to a previously un-seen level! If you haven't read my review of the card yet, you should do so first, but then be sure you are ready for today's live stream and giveaway - details below! And don't forget: if you have questions, please leave them in the comments!

Get yourself ready, it’s time for another GeForce GTX live stream hosted by PC Perspective’s Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA’s Tom Petersen. Though we can’t dive into the exact details of what topics are going to be covered, intelligent readers that keep an eye on the rumors on our site will likely be able to guess what is happening on January 22nd.

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On hand to talk about the products, answer questions about technologies in the GeForce family including GPUs, G-Sync, GameWorks, GeForce Experience and more will be Tom Petersen, well known on the LAN party and events circuit. To spice things up as well Tom has worked with graphics card partners to bring along a sizeable swag pack to give away LIVE during the event, including new GTX graphics cards. LOTS of graphics cards.

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Live Stream and Giveaway

10am PT / 1pm ET - January 22nd

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

Here are some of the prizes we have lined up for those of you that join us for the live stream:

  • 3 x MSI GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Cards
  • 4 x EVGA GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Cards
  • 3 x ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Cards

prizes.jpg

Thanks to ASUS, EVGA and MSI for supporting the stream!

The event will take place Thursday, January 22nd at 1pm ET / 10am PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Tom to answer live. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

Tom has a history of being both informative and entertaining and these live streaming events are always full of fun and technical information that you can get literally nowhere else. Previous streams have produced news as well – including statements on support for Adaptive Sync, release dates for displays and first-ever demos of triple display G-Sync functionality. You never know what’s going to happen or what will be said!

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Thursday at 1pm ET / 10am PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Now that is small form factor, a PC in a mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: DIY, mod, mouse-box

Inside the red and black striped body of this mouse is a quad-core ARM Cortex processor of unknown pedigree running at 1.4GHz and 128GB of flash storage; no information on how much RAM might be available.  It has inbuilt WiFi, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a single micro-HDMI port for output and it will charge wirelessly when placed on a pad via Qi or a similar solution.  As well the regular mouse input the Mouse-Box will also have an accelerometer and gyroscope, perhaps a revival of the 3D interface mice which appeared and quickly disappeared a few years back.  Check out the video at The Register to see the team's pitch and a way to get in contact with them.

mouse_box.jpg

"The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #333 - ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, Rampage V Extreme, Samsung, T1, 850 EVO, ECS, liva x, amazon echo, amd, carrizo, windows 10, raptr

PC Perspective Podcast #333 - 01/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

 

Manufacturer: Microsoft

Introducing Windows 10 (Again)

I did not exactly make too many unsafe predictions, but let's recap the Windows 10 Consumer announcement anyway. The briefing was a bit on the slow side, at least if you are used to E3 keynotes, but it contained a fair amount of useful information. Some of the things discussed are future-oriented, but some will arrive soon. So let's get right into it.

Price and Upgrade Options

Microsoft has not announced an official price for Windows 10, if the intent is to install it on a new PC. If you are attempting to upgrade a machine that currently runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then that will be a free upgrade if done within the first year. Windows Phone 8.1 users are also eligible for a no-cost upgrade to Windows 10 if done in the first year.

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Quote Terry Myerson of Microsoft, “Once a device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will be keeping it current for the supported lifetime of the device.” This is not elaborated on, but it seems like a weird statement given what we have traditionally expected from Windows. One possible explanation is that Microsoft intends for Windows to be a subscription service going forward, which would be the most obvious extension of “Windows as a Service”. On the other hand, they could be going for the per-device revenue option with Bing, Windows Store, and other initiatives being long tail. If so, I am a bit confused about what constitutes a new device for systems that are regularly upgraded, like what our readers are typically interested in. All of that will eventually be made clear, but not yet.

A New Build for Windows 10

Late in the keynote, Microsoft announced the availability of new preview builds for Windows 10. This time, users of Windows Phone 8.1 will also be able to see the work in progress. PC “Insiders” will get access to their build “in the next week” and phones will get access “in Feburary”. Ars Technica seems to believe that this is scheduled for Sunday, February 1st, which is a really weird time to release a build but their source might be right.

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We don't know exactly what will be in it, though. In my predictions, I guessed that a DirectX 12 SDK might be available (or at least some demos) in the next build. That has not been mentioned, which probably would have been if it were true. I expect the next possibility (if we're not surprised in the next one-to-ten days when the build drops) is Game Developers Conference (GDC 2015), which starts on March 2nd.

The New Web Browser: Project Spartan

My guess was that Spartan would be based on DirectX 12. Joe Belfiore said that it is using a new, standards-compliant rendering engine and basically nothing more. The event focused on specific features. The first is note taking, which basically turns the web browser into a telestrator that can also accept keyboard comment blocks. The second is a reading mode that alters content into a Microsoft Word-like column. The third is “reading lists”, which is basically a “read it later” feature that does offline caching. The fourth is Adobe PDF support, which works with the other features of Spartan such as note taking and reading lists.

Which Transitions Into Cortana

The fifth feature of Spartan is Cortana integration, which will provide auto-suggestions based on the information that the assistant software has. The example they provided was auto-suggesting the website for his wife's flight. Surprisingly, when you attempt to control a Spartan, Cortana does not say “There's two of us in here now, remember?” You know, in an attempt to let you know she's service that's integrated into the browser.

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Otherwise, it's an interesting demo. I might even end up using it when it comes out, but these sorts of things do not really interest me too much. We have been at the point where, for my usage, the operating system is really not in the way anymore. It feels like there is very little friction between me and getting what I want done, done. Of course, people felt that way about rotary phones until touch-tone came out, and I keep an open mind to better methods. It's just hard to get me excited about voice-activated digital assistants.

Gaming Features

As I stated before, DirectX 12 was mentioned but a release date was not confirmed. What they did mention was a bit of relative performance. DirectX 12 supposedly uses about half of the power consumption of DirectX 11, which is particularly great for mobile applications. It can also handle scenes with many more objects. A FutureMark demo was displayed, with the DirectX 11 version alongside a DirectX 12 version. The models seem fairly simple, but the DirectX 12 version appears to running at over 100 FPS when the DirectX 11 version outright fails.

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Other gaming features were mentioned. First, Windows 10 will allow shadow recording the last 30 seconds of footage from any game. You might think that NVIDIA would be upset about that, and they might be, but that is significantly less time than ShadowPlay or other recording methods. Second, Xbox One will be able to stream gameplay to any PC in your house. I expect this is the opposite direction than what people hope for, rather wishing for high-quality PC footage to be easily streamed to TVs with a simple interface. It will probably serve a purpose for some use case, though.

In Summary

Well that was a pretty long event, clocking in at almost two-and-a-half hours. The end had a surprise announcement of an augmented reality (not virtual reality) headset, called the “HoloLens”, which is developed by the Kinect team. I am deliberately not elaborating on it because I was not at the event and I have not tried it. I will say that the most interesting part about it, for me, is the Skype integration, because that probably hints at Microsoft's intentions with the product.

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For the rest of us, it touched on a number of interesting features but, like the Enterprise event, did not really dive in. It would have been nice to get some technical details about DirectX 12, but that obviously does not cater to the intended audience. Unless an upcoming build soft-launches a DirectX 12 preview (or Spartan) so that we can do our own discovery, we will probably need to wait until GDC and/or BUILD to find out more.

Until then, you could watch the on-demand version at Microsoft's website.

Battlefleet Gothic could be a real thing very soon!

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, warhammer 40k, exterminatus, battlefleet gothic

That's right, Eldar and their tissue paper clad ships will be going up against the city sized ships of the Imperium, Abaddon the Despoiler's Black Legion and even the cobbled together Orc vessels which have grown large enough to deserve the name Battlekrooser.  The single player and possibly the two player co-op missions will be Imperium only while multiplayer will allow you to choose to control filthy Xenos fleets.  In both cases the ships and crew will accumulate experience and upgrade skills or weaponry but only if they survive battle and do not get executed for not following orders.  Exterminatus will be present in the game as well as boarding parties, with the latter being restricted to scuttling ships.  The game will be based on it's tabletop forefather but will not be enslaved to it, map movement is expected to be turn based but the battles will be in real time, at a pace which matches the ponderous size of these ships.  Check out the excitement at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

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"The news that an adaptation of Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic was in development made for happy reading last week but solid facts were thin on the ground. We knew that the game would be real-time rather than turn-based, which was cause for concern in some quarters, and that four factions would be available."

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Chromecast meets Linux

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: linux, chromecast, DIY, stream

Linux.com has put together a quick tutorial on how to stream content to Chromecast from a machine running Linux, giving you an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to stream your own capture media.  With the use of a Samba group in openSUSE you can send data to the Chromecast dongle attached to your TV, something that was not initially possible with Chromecast.  The author took this a step further, showing you how to set up your Android devices to stream to Chromecast as well.  Learn how to here.

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"Chromecast is one of the most used devices in my household. After using it for over a year now, I believe there is no longer a market for the so-called 'smart TV'. Inexpensive devices like Chromecast can turn any HDMI-enabled TV into a smart TV with immense possibilities to expand its features."

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Source: Linux.com