Podcast #377 - AMD Radeon Software Crimson, our Holiday Gift Guide, Scott Wasson moving to AMD and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2015 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, radeon software, crimson, holiday gift guide, ATIC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, raspberry pi zero, scott wasson, tech report, Thinkpad, yoga p40

PC Perspective Podcast #377 - 12/03/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Radeon Software Crimson, our Holiday Gift Guide, Scott Wasson moving to AMD and more!

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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

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Meet the OberonStation, kid friendly and powered with the son of Pascal

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: OberonStation, pascal, oberon

To paraphrase Barbie, "Linux is hard".  Present a child with a Linux powered Pi of whichever flavour you like and you will spend a lot more time trying to explain why they have to do things a certain way instead of letting them create on their own.  The OberonStation was released at the same time as the Pi Zero we have heard about but it has a significant difference.  It uses a descendent of the Pascal programming language, which some readers may remember for both the OS and the programs which will run on the OberonStation.  This simplifies things greatly and while it will limit what the device can do compared to a Pi it also means it is a better teaching tool for young programmers who won't have to learn the odd and twisted world of Linux ... or at least not yet.

The Register compares it to learning on a ZX Spectrum or Amiga 600, simple enough to grasp but yet useful enough to give you a solid foundation in programming practices and functions.  This will make it more interesting and accessible for youth you want to corrupt with thoughts of a future in programming and electronics.  It is unfortunately sold out, if you are still interested in turning your kids or young relatives to the dark side consider one of the littleBits kits available at MAKE such as the Deluxe Kit, it is a great way to introduce them to electronics and to get some nifty devices out of the deal as well!

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"Two tiny, inexpensive, single-board educational computers just shipped. One has had lots of coverage already, but the odds are you've never heard of the other machine. However, the idea behind the obscure one is more important."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

The Tech Report's Scott Wasson Leaves for AMD

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2015 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: amd

Update 2 (11:50pm): Okay, so. Scott Wasson was asked by Raja Koduri to join the Radeon Technologies Group, their intention being to implement the work he did with (and surrounding) his frame time benchmark to improve user experience. Scott Wasson will step down as Editor-in-Chief of The Tech Report, and promote Jeff Kampman in his place.

Update: Scott Wasson has just published a blog post about it, naturally minutes after I wrote this. We'll add more details above this as we digest them. Original news below!

AMD has just announced that Scott Wasson, Editor-in-Chief at The Tech Report, will leave his site and join their ranks. Details are still scarce because of how fresh this announcement is, but he will join the company to lead User Experience. Scott Wasson is a good friend of PC Perspective and our Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Shrout. They shared notes during the development of Frame Rating.

amd-2015-scottwasson.jpg

Ryan is still visiting AMD for the scheduled briefing, and will probably be talking more about this over the next couple of days. Scott Wasson's new position at the chip designer will take effect in January. We don't yet know how this will affect The Tech Report itself, whether someone will take over or not. Ryan broke the news on our most recent podcast from the event.

The Corsairs of Katar ... and their favourite gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2015 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: input, corsair, KATAR, gaming mouse

The Corsair Katar seems small, 85g and 111x64x38mm but the reviewer at Hardware Canucks did not seem to find it uncomfortable.  The sensor matches up to the competition, adjustable between 100 to 8000 DPI but you can see all of the buttons in the picture below, there are only 4.  However for many games, such as DOTA that may well be all the buttons you need and the simple design makes it easy to use in either hand.  At under $40 it is not overly expensive to pick up.  Check out the full review to see if this mouse is good enough you want it to fall into your hands.

4.jpg

"Can a peripheral that's endorsed by "professional gamers" be worthwhile? Typically no, but Corsair's Katar begs to differ. It offers everything FPS gamers could possibly want in a gaming mouse."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Blow stuff up Just Cause ... 3

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2015 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: gaming, just cause 3

When a reviewer mentions that they utterly forgot about the first mission for 12 hours after completing ye old mandatory game beginning you know something is up.  From how Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN describe Just Cause 3 it is not because the storyline is so bad you want to ignore it but because there is just so much stuff to blow up and it is a lot of fun doing it.  That describes the first two Just Cause games and it looks like the third will be no different, apart from what is described as a more reasonable escalation of enemy forces in the later parts of the game.  If the random violence of maliciously attaching people to various objects and generally causing chaos is up your alley then the latest installment of this series should not disappoint.

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"Avalanche’s Just Cause 3 is officially released Tuesday morning online and in something called “shops”. “Officially”, because it was apparently released early in a few naughty nations, prompting the developers to make a list of planned Day 0 fixes. Of course, that means the code we’ve been reviewing from for the last week also lacks that patch, making it tricky to know how many of the issues I encountered – in an otherwise stupendous game – will affect you. Bearing this in mind, here’s wot I think."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

10TB of helium filled storage from HGST

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2015 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: 10TB, hgst, western digital

Western Digital subsidiary HGST had previously released a 10TB drive which used their new shingling technique to reach such high storage densities and meant that there was a limited capacity for rewrites.  They have now released a new 10TB drive which is formatted in a more traditional manner and does not have the same limitations as brought on with the shingling method of design.  The Inquirer also mentions 6TB and 8TB models if you don't quite need 10TB of storage.  No mention of price is made but you can guess that this HDD will be close in price per GB to SSDs, sadly not the price parity we were hoping for.

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"HGST HAS released its first 10TB helium-filled drive for general purpose data centre use."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Cable Companies Besting DSL For Internet, But Continue Dropping Pay TV Subscribers

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2015 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: networking, cable tv, cable isp

A bit before the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, I came across a pair of interesting articles (linked below) over at DSL Reports that had some interesting figures for the state of broadband and cable TV. While cable companies continue to rule the roost when it comes to the ISP subscriber side of things, they are also steadily bleeding cable TV subscribers. According to the numbers (which they got from Leichtman Research), the third quarter of 2015 has been simultaneously the worst quarter ever for telcos who lost both internet and cable TV subscribers, it was the best quarter (of least cable TV losses) since 2006.

On the broadband side of things, of the top seventeen providers Leichtman Research provided numbers for, cable companies brought in 787,629 new subscribers while the telephone companies lost 143,338 of their subscribers (likely customers on older forlorn CO-fed DSL tech). Cable companies are maintaining a healthy lead in total subscribers as well at approximately 54 million versus 25 million telco subscribers.

 

Broadband internet subscribers at end of Q3'15
  Subscribers YTD Net Subscribers +/- in Q3
Cable 54,262,565 787,629
DSL 35,246,382 -143,338

Not too bad considering all the bad press the cable companies have thrust upon themselves with, for example, Comcast rolling out 300GB caps across the US and their notorious (or should I say infamous) customer support departments. Somehow only CableOne and WOW lost subscribers in Q3.

At the end of Q3'15 there were 94 million cable television subscribers shared among the 12 top providers (eight cable, two satellite, and two cable). Collectively, the companies lost 190,693 TV subscribers versus last quarter which is an increased loss YoY as well (155,000 in Q3'14). It should be noted that if Dish's Sling TV subscriber numbers are not taken into account, it is a 345,000 decrease in pay TV subscribers.

Cable TV Subscribers at end of Q3'15
  Subscribers Net Subscribers +/- in Q3
Cable 48,809,907 -144,693
Satellite 33,479,000 -3,000
Telephone 11,678,000 -49,000

The cable companies lost 144,693 subscribers in Q3 making it an improvement in that it is the least amount of subscribers lost since 2006. For example, in the same quarter last year the cable companies lost 440,000. Comparatively, the telephone companies only lost 49,000 TV subscribers, but it was their worst quarter yet when it comes to losing TV subscribers. Charter, Direct TV, and Verizon were the only three of the listed companies to actually pick up subscibers this quarter while everyone else lost them.

 What do you think about the numbers? Will the cable beheomouths continue being the dominant source of internet for the US? Will traditional cable/paid TV ever make a comeback, and if not just how many subscribers will these providers have to lose before they embrace new models that support à la carte and even cord cutting/streaming only?

Source: DSLReports

Shuttle Shrinks Its Small Form Factor Lineup With XPC Nano Series

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2015 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, broadwell-u, M.2, mini PC

Shuttle, once the king of compact PCs, is jumping right into the think of the tiny PC market with its new XPC Nano (NC01U) series, a half liter broadwell-powered black and gold affair. The XPC Nano boxes measure 5.55 x 5.55 x 1.14 inches, and while they are vesa mountable, the chassis design is nice enough to leave in the open as well.

Shuttle NC01U Series XPC Nano SFF PC.jpg

The mini PCs feature two USB 3.0 ports and a SD card slot on the front panel, an old-school RS-232 port on the left side, and the following ports on the back.

  • 1 x Mini DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x Audio combo jack

Inside, Shuttle is using Intel’s Broadwell U processors and there are options from Celeron 3205U up to the Core I7 5500U. This chip is cooled by an allegedly “whisper quiet” heatpipe cooler. There are two DDR3L memory slots for up to 16GB RAM, a 2.5” (7mm) drive slot, and one M.2 port for a solid state drive. It further comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The XPC Nano systems will come pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home. The base model starts at $279 and there is a $10 mail in rebate if bundled with a keyboard and mouse from Shuttle’s website.

The base SKU with a Celeron 3205U (1.5GHz) and 2GB RAM is currently available for $275.77 on Newegg. The higher end models do not appear to be for sale yet, but should be soon. Product specifications can be found here (PDF)

Source: Shuttle

Apollo Lake is coming next summer

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2015 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: Intel, apollo lake, 14nm, rumours

DigiTimes has heard rumours that Intel will be refreshing their processor lineup with Apollo Lake processors in June and August 2016, with devices powered by the new processors in October.  This is rather good news considering how slowly new PC sales have been growing over the past year, it is nice to see that we will still have some new CPUs in the coming year.  Details are rather scarce, the 14nm chips will come in dual and quad-core options and use the new Gen9 GPU which will support Ultra HD output. You can expect 6-10W TDP, these are very much mobile oriented chips.

index.jpg

"Seeing the trend, Intel is scheduled to mass produce its next-generation Apollo Lake-based processors in June-August 2016 with related entry-level PC products becoming available in the market in October 2016, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

PC Components

It's that time of year again, where giving thanks has given way to the season of gift-giving. And what could be better than giving (or getting) the latest technology this year? Whatever your budget there's a good chance at least part of your holiday shopping this season will include some sort of tech hardware, and once again the staff here at PC Perspective have put together some of our recommendations. Sure, we might be biased in our belief that PC hardware and other tech gadgets make the best gifts, but we live and breathe this stuff every day (it's hard to turn it off!).

Our guide is once again broken up into categories, beginning with this page dedicated to PC components. Next up we have one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets, and then one for PC accessories.  Then our staff members have the chance to throw in some "wildcard" picks on the remaining pages.

We thank you for your support of PC Perspective through all of 2015. The links included below embed our affiliate code to Amazon.com (when applicable) and if you are doing other shopping for the holidays this year we would appreciate it if you used the button above before perusing Amazon.com. In case you want to know the affiliate code directly, it is: pcper04-20.

You can also support PC Perspective through your Amazon gift card purchases, and then purchase whatever you want!

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Enjoy!!

Processors

Intel Core i7-6700K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor - $431, Amazon

6700k.jpg

Last year we picked the Intel Core i7-4790K as our high-end consumer desktop CPU, and with a current retail somewhere near $300 (Amazon) it's a fantastic option, and still the #1 selling CPU on Amazon. Going forward the Z170 platform will be the enthusiast standard as Z97 starts to be phased out, but the poor availability of the 6th-generation Intel Skylake unlocked parts (particularly this i7-6700K) has helped keep the new platform from wider adoption. The $400+ retail for this CPU is steep, but there is no faster option outside of the X99 platform processors.

Intel Core i5-6600K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor - $254.99, Amazon

For a more affordable option, particularly for gaming where the importance of Hyper-Threading is debatable, the unlocked quad-core i5-6600K is a very attractive option if you want to get into an unlocked Skylake CPU for a lot less money.

Intel Core i3-6100 - $131.49, Amazon

Having been very impressed with the performance of the 4th-gen Core i3-4130 processor, the move to 6th-gen Skylake will only provide more per-thread performance for a dual-core part that still plays the latest quad-core dependent games thanks to Hyper-Threading.

AMD Athlon X4 860K Quad-Core Processor - $69.99, Amazon

The king of the budget quad-core processors, the 860K provides very good performance that might be a little below Intel's Core i3, but for about half the price it's a sensational way to start a build that will still play all the latest games and provide a good productivity experience.

Continue reading our holiday tech gift guide!!