Windows Update Installs GeForce 349.65 with WDDM 2.0

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 21, 2015 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: wddm 2.0, nvidia, geforce 349.65, geforce, dx12

Update 2: Outside sources have confirmed to PC Perspective that this driver contains DirectX 12 as well as WDDM 2.0. They also claim that Intel and AMD have DirectX 12 drivers available through Windows Update as well. After enabling iGPU graphics on my i7-4790K, the Intel HD 4600 received a driver update, which also reports as WDDM 2.0 in DXDIAG. I do not have a compatible AMD GPU to test against (just a couple of old Windows 7 laptops) but the source is probably right and some AMD GPUs will be updated to DX12 too.

So it turns out that if your motherboard dies during a Windows Update reboot, then you are going to be spending several hours reinstalling software and patches, but that is not important. What is interesting is the installed version number for NVIDIA's GeForce Drivers when Windows Update was finished with its patching: 349.65. These are not available on NVIDIA's website, and the Driver Model reports WDDM 2.0.

nvidia-34965-driver.png

It looks like Microsoft pushed out NVIDIA's DirectX 12 drivers through Windows Update. Update 1 Pt. 1: The "Runtime" reporting 11.0 is confusing though, perhaps this is just DX11 with WDDM 2.0?

nvidia-34965-dxdiag.png

I am hearing online that these drivers support the GeForce 600 series and later GPUs, and that there are later, non-public drivers available (such as 349.72 whose release notes were leaked online). NVIDIA has already announced that DirectX 12 will be supported on GeForce 400-series and later graphics cards, so Fermi drivers will be coming at some point. For now, it's apparently Kepler-and-later, though.

So with OS support and, now, released graphics drivers, all that we are waiting on is software and an SDK (plus any NDAs that may still be in effect). With Game Developers Conference (GDC 2015) coming up in a little over a week, I expect that we will get each of these very soon.

Update 1 Pt. 2: I should note that the release notes for 349.72 specifically mention DirectX 12. As mentioned above, is possible that 349.65 contains just WDDM 2.0 and not DX12, but it contains at least WDDM 2.0.

Epic Games Announces "Unreal Dev Grants"

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: unreal engine 4, unreal engine, epic games

On Thursday, Tim Sweeney joined the Unreal Engine 4 Twitch Broadcast to announce “Unreal Dev Grants”. In short, Epic Games have set aside 5 million dollars to pass out in increments of five thousand ($5000 USD) to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000 USD), with no strings attached. If you are doing something cool in, with, or involving Unreal Engine 4, you are eligible and can use the money in any way. You keep all your “intellectual property” and equity, and you do not even have any accountability requirements.

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It's free money that you can apply for, or they will even approach you with if they see you doing something awesome (you can even nominate other people's projects). The only “catch” is that your work needs to be relevant to Unreal Engine. From there, it could be anything from congratulating an awesome pull request for the engine on GitHub, to giving an indie (or even AAA) game a little bit of a financial boost. Tim Sweeney was telling stories about mowing lawns for the $3000 it took for him to launch ZZT. He mowed lawns so you don't have to.

For more information, or to nominate yourself or someone else, check out their website.

Source: Epic Games

EVGA would like to give you a GTX 960 SSC and a Z97 FTW motherboard

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 20, 2015 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: z97, gtx 960, giveaway, evga, contest

I know, the nerve of some people. Jacob from EVGA emails me this week, complaining about how he has this graphics card and motherboard just sitting in his cubicle taking up space and "why won't I just give it away already!?"

Fine. I'll do it. For science.

So let's make this simple shall we? EVGA wants to get rid of some kick-ass gaming hardware and you want to win it. Why muddle up a good thing?

The Prizes

  • EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC
     
    • The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade, offering 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency of previous-generation cards*. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays.
       
    • The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.

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  • EVGA Z97 FTW Motherboard
     
    • Welcome to a new class of high performance motherboards with the EVGA Z97 lineup. These platforms offer a return to greatness with a new GUI BIOS interface, reimagined power VRM that focuses on efficiency, and are loaded with features such as Intel® Gigabit LAN, Native SATA 6G/USB 3.0 and more.
       
    • Engineered for the performance users with excellent overclocking features. Includes a GUI BIOS that is focused on functionality, new software interface for overclocking in the O.S., high quality components, M.2 storage option and more.

evgacontest2.jpg

The Process (aka how do you win?)

So even though I'm doing all the work getting this hardware out of Jacob's busy hands and to our readers...you do have to do a couple of things to win the hardware as well. 

  1. Fill out the questionnaire below.
     
  2. Enter the "secret phrase" from tonight's 337th episode of the PC Perspective Podcast. We'll be live streaming at 10pm ET / 7pm PT or you can wait for the downloadable version at http://www.pcper.com/podcast or the video version on our PC Perspective YouTube channel

The contest will run for one week so you will have more than enough time to listen to or watch the podcast and get the super-secret answer. We'll ship to anywhere in the world and one person will win both fantastic prizes! Once the contest closes (Wednesday, February 25th at 12pm ET) we'll randomly draw a winner from the form below that got the correct answer!

A HUGE thanks goes to our friends at EVGA for supplying the hardware for our giveaway. Good luck!

Source: EVGA

It's Friday, lets speculate about the Galaxy S6

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2015 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s6, rumours

Gizmodo was kind enough to gather all the rumours and speculation about Samsung's unreleased phone into one article.  We do know that Samsung has trademarked both Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, with the Edge expected to be a smaller Note 4 Edge perhaps with curves on both sides.  For the interface they are expect to run their Touchwiz interface on top of Android Lollipop 5.0.2, with changes to the interface to make it much more like vanilla Android which will be very welcome if true.  There is not a huge amount of information on the internals but what there is can be found in this rumour roundup.

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"There are smartphones, and then there are smartphones. Phones that you pay attention to. Phones that are like whoa. The iPhone is one. Maybe the new Nexus. The Galaxy S3 was one. The S4 and the S5? Not so much. But the S6 looks poised to make a splash again. The S6 is looking serious."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Gizmodo

NVIDIA Brings Saint's Row IV to #SHIELDTuesday. Up Next: Alan Wake and then Metro: Last Light Redux

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 20, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, Saints Row IV, nvidia, metro last light, gridtuesday, grid, alan wake

Once again, NVIDIA brings some really good games to their GRID service, which is currently free for all SHIELD owners. The concept is that NVIDIA will compute the graphics at their server farms, accept your input, and return an audio/video stream of the result. This is a very convenient way to access content, but it cannot replace actual ownership for guaranteed access to specific art that find intrinsically valuable. It can help you discover new content, though.

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This week, Saint's Row IV is available to be played on the GRID gaming service. Its predecessor, Saint's Row: The Third, was published on GRID earlier this month. It would be good to play them in order, and they are both worth your time. I did find that the campaign of Saint's Row IV was a bit less unique because the majority of missions were a handful of side-missions strung together, while Saint's Row: The Third had more scenario-based objectives, with the side-missions as an option to build up stats (or just be fun) between these. On the other hand, the movement mechanics were genius in IV. Play them both.

Looking ahead, next Tuesday will be Alan Wake. This is a survival-horror title from Remedy that makes you appreciate just how long your batteries last in real life. Basically, electricity is light and light is a vulnerability for the monsters that want to destroy you. The week after, the third of March, is Metro: Last Light Redux. This is one of the most visually demanding games available, and it is still used as a GPU benchmark at this site.

Saint's Row IV went live last Tuesday, while Alan Wake arrives on the 24th and Metro: Last Light comes in last, on March 3rd.

Source: NVIDIA

You are going to need 240V for this one; Superflower's 2000W PSU

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: kilowatt, modular psu, superflower, Leadex Platinum, 80 Plus Platinum, 8 pack edition, two freaking kilowatts

The perfectly reasonable 2 kilowatt Superflower is only able to provide a paltry 166.6 amps on its single +12v rail so you will need to be absolutely positive that your rig will not need a more powerful source of power.  Available only in the UK, it is possible that Superflower is not exaggerating when the claim it will accept 100V~240V, perhaps a budding North American electrician could set up a test to see if this 80 PLUS Platinum rated PSU can actually be powered by any mere wall wart.  No ones seems to mention the weight of this PSU but it does measure 150 x 86 x 220 mm which is a pity as this PSU would be perfect for an mATX build.  You can catch a video of this PSU in action on the last page of the review, powering a PC not an arc welder.

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"‘Holy Moly’. This is the PG version of the first words I said when we were offered the new 2000 watt Superflower power supply for analysis. Renowned and highly respected UK overclocker Ian ’8Pack’ Parry partnered up with SuperFlower for the creation of this new monster unit. The ’8 Pack Edition’ is a fully modular design, 80 Plus Platinum certified and ships with enough cables to choke Godzilla."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: KitGuru
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

The ASUS STRIX TACTIC PRO is a premium mechanical gaming keyboard featuring Cherry MX Brown switches and some serious style.

tactic_main.jpg

Keyboards are a very personal thing, and as this is one of the three primary interfaces with the system itself (along with the mouse and display), feel will help decide the experience. Without a doubt mechanical keyboard have become very popular with enthusiasts, but as more manufacturers have started offering them - and the market has begun to saturate - it becomes much more difficult to pick a starting point if you're new to the game. To further complicate a buying decision there are different types of key switches used in these keyboards, and each variety has its own properties and unique feel.

tactic_key_angle.jpg

And on the subject of key switches, this particular keyboard built with the brown variety of the Cherry MX switches, and ASUS offers the option of Cherry MX Black, Blue, and Red switches with the STRIX TACTIC PRO as well. Our own Scott Michaud covered the topic of key switches in great detail last year, and that article is a great starting point that helps explain the different types of switches available, and how they differ.

Cherry MX Brown

The Cherry MX Brown switch in action

I'll go into the feel of the keyboard on the next page, but quickly I'll say that MX Brown switches have a good feel without being too "clicky", but they are certainly more stiff feeling than a typical membrane keyboard. While it's impossible to really describe how the keyboard will feel to a particular user, we can certainly cover the features and performance of this keyboard to help with a purchasing decision in this crowded market. At $150 the STRIX TACTIC PRO carries a premium price, but as you'll see this is also a premium product.

Continue reading our review of the STRIX TACTIC PRO mechanical gaming keyboard!!

Podcast #337 - Snapdragon 810 Preview, USB 3.1, Dell Venue 8 Tablet and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2015 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: x99a gaming 9 ack, video, venue 8 7000, usb 3.1, snapdragon, silicon motion, qualcomm, podcast, nvidia, Intel, dell, CS850M, crucial bx100, corsair, bx 100, amd, 810

PC Perspective Podcast #337 - 02/19/2015

Join us this week as we discuss our Snapdragon 810 Preview, USB 3.1, Dell Venue 8 Tablet 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 Sebastian Peak

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

 

Lenovo for those who don't care about security

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2015 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: superfish, Malware, Lenovo

Since 2014 Lenovo has been selling consumer laptops installed with an innocuously named program, Superfish.  For those not in the habit of wiping their laptop and installing the OS fresh to avoid the bloatware generally present on consumer products, you have been sharing the exact same SSL certificate as every other Lenovo owner and the icing on the cake is that it is self signed by Superfish, not a certificate authority.  This means any and all transmissions done on a browser (apparently other than Firefox) could have easily been unencrypted by anyone who captured your wireless transmissions since the SSL key you were using is well known seeing as it is present on every recent Lenovo machine. 

Lenovo is downplaying the security issue and emphasizing that Superfish was just intended inject ads into your browser based on history and that it could be disabled manually or by not agreeing to the terms and conditions when you turn on your laptop for the first time.  As the commentors on Slashdot rightly point out, that argument is disingenuous and exposing your customers to a man in the middle attack just so you can serve them up some targeted advertising is a gross oversight.  Samsung has not seen much success with the argument that their monitoring software could be manually disabled either.  The program is no longer bundled on Lenovo laptops, as of this year.

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"... doesn't mention the SSL aspect, but this Lenovo Forum Post, with screen caps, is indicating it may be a man-in-the-middle attack to hijack an SSL connection too. It's too early to tell if this is a hoax or not, but there are multiple forum posts about the Superfish bug being installed on new systems. Another good reason to have your own fresh install disk, and to just drop the drivers onto a USB stick."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

You can't stop the undead; check out the mods that exist for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, vampire the masquerade

Just because White Wolf and the World of Darkness were purchased by Icelandic studio CCP Games who are now doing nothing with the IP doesn't mean you can't explore the world with your favourite clan of vampire. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines which was originally released in 2004, gained a massive following of players many of whom are skilled modders who have been cranking out patches and mods over the years.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has just posted about two of the newest, one which unlocks Bloodlines Antitribu clans allowing you to play a far wider variety of clans and use their particular Disciplines.  That particular team is currently working on Sabbat storylines for the game as well.  In addition a new version of The Final Nights is available with a huge list of changes, additions and improvements.  Even if you have no Humanity left you should check out the work that has gone into keeping this game vibrant and interesting.

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"I’ve been conservative with Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. The only modding I do is boshing on ye olde unofficial patch, without even enabling the optional new bits, and maybe replacing my character model with a nicer NPC model. I might be bolder next playthrough, as apparently we’re spoilt for choice with Bloodlines mods at the moment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming