HP Reinvents the AMD Desktop GPU line ... or at least leaks it

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: R9 380, R7 A360, R7 A330, leak, gpu, amd

HP announced their upcoming line up of desktops, including new Pavilions, ENVYs and a Spectre studio display with 4K resolution.  An astute reader noticed something else that they announced unintentionally, the models of three unreleased AMD GPUs.  The machines will be available starting on June 10th which even gives us a rough release time line.  The pricing does not reveal all that much as they reference the base models and so it is hard to know what, if any discrete GPU is in the base model.  

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The HP Pavilion All-in-One PCs will sport USB 3.0 and your choice of an AMD Radeon R7 A330 or an R7 A360.  As these are all in one PCs such as the one below you can expect these cards to represent the mid-range of AMD's upcoming lineup, though they could still put out a decent amount of power as the cooling in these systems is effective enough that HP offers models with Intel i7 and AMD A10 chips.

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What most people will likely get excited about is in the HP ENVY and HP ENVY Phoenix Towers, the R9 380 which is offered as an alternative to the GTX 980.  These machines also offer USB 3.0 as well as an option for a 512GB SSD as opposed to a 3TB HDD.  The R9 380 will be powerful enough to handle the new 32" HP Spectre Studio Display, a 4K display with built in speakers and a viewing angle of 178° which implies an IPS display, albeit with an unknown refresh rate.

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That is about all we know for now, but you can keep an eye out for more news about the R7 A330, R7 A360 and R9 380 right here.

Source: HP

Microsoft's Nano Server, the GUI-less server in the clouds

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows server, nano server

Microsoft has really trimmed the fat off of Windows Server to make Nano Server, in fact they may have cut off some of the meat as well.  A Microsoft engineer described it as "a model of 'just enough OS'.", which is why the new Server OS base install is a mere 400MB.  The GUI is gone, you will use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) or the new Core PowerShell which will resemble the old Powershell, but again in a cut down manner.  Drivers and APIs are minimal which will take programmers some time to adjust to as the DLL that they current use may not exist on Core and the installer you all know and hate, Windows MSI is one of the ones which has been cut.  In order to install drivers and applications which currently rely on MSI, you will need to add them to your image.  Read more about this major change in the way you will manage your Windows servers over at The Register.

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"Engineers from Microsoft's Windows Server team took the stage at the Build developer conference in San Francisco this week to share more details on Nano Server, the upcoming micro-sized version of the OS aimed at cloud deployments."

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Source: The Register

Falcon Northwest's Updated Tiki PC Packs A Punch

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 3, 2015 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: z97, xeon e5-2699v3, X99, tiki-z, tiki, SFF, liquid cooling, Haswell-E, falcon northwest, core i7-5960x

Falcon Northwest recently upped the hardware ante on its small form factor Tiki PC. Previously limited to Z97-based hardware, the company is now offering Tiki PCs with X99 motherboards. Even better, the Tiki can be configured with Intel’s Haswell-E Core i7-5000 or Haswell-EP Xeon  chips such as the Core i7-5960X or Xeon E5-2699V3.

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The updated Tiki maintains the same steel and aluminum case measuring 13” x 4” x 13” (HxWxD) with customizable paint work and a removable solid aluminum or granite base as its predecessors (e.g. Tiki-Z). External I/O options include the latest USB 3.1, eSATA, and Dual Intel Gigabit LAN ports. Internally, the Tiki has space for an Intel Z97 or X99 motherboard with a liquid cooled processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 (or 16GB DDR3 with Z97) memory, a dedicated graphics card up to an NVIDIA GTX TITAN X or Quadro and ample storage space in the form of four 2.5” drives or one 3.5” and two 2.5” drives.

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All this hardware amounts to an impressive amount performance in general – much less a small form factor system. At the upper echelon, the Xeon E5-2699V3 offers 18 cores (36 threads with HT) clocked at up to 3.6 GHz paired with 45MB of L3 cache. Paired with a Quadro card like the M6000, that is one powerful workstation!

The updated Tiki is aimed at gamers and workstation builds doing intensive workloads like CAD, 3D animation, and video production.

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The downside to this stylish powerhouse is, of course, pricing – the Tiki is far from cheap and the boutique premium is quite evident here. Available now, the updated Tiki starts at $1,860 for a base level Z97 system with quad core CPU or $2,492 for an eight core X99-based system. Fully loaded, the Tiki tops $10,000. 

It is definitely an extremely niche product, but the engineering and styling is impressive all the same!

Samsung's Galaxy refresh refreshes a bit too often

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2015 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s6, Galaxy S6 Edge

No company wants to hear their new flagship product has issues but unfortunately that has become all too common as financially gifted and tattooed Apple fans are well aware.  It would seem that Samsung is also having launch pains as users are seeing problems with RAM allocation.  The Inquirer reports that the phone will use up to 2.5GB for simple tasks, with Chrome being a major memory thief.  The programs do still run and the issue is not causing crashes, instead you can expect to see some stuttering and a lot of refreshes when you return to an app that has lost focus, even for a short time.  Samsung is aware of the problem and working on incremental updates which you can pick up via Update Now under Settings.

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"SAMSUNG HAS ADMITTED that the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are suffering performance problems due to a RAM management fault."

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Source: The Inquirer

BUILD 2015: Windows 10 10074 Released to Fast and Slow

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, build 2015, build 10074, BUILD

When Microsoft forked their build numbers into 100xx and 101xx lines, we predicted that they were preparing a version to release at BUILD 2015. We also predicted that it would be heavily tested and pushed to both Slow and Fast simultaneously, which would give a good entry point for developers and probably even enterprise evaluators. I was surprised when Microsoft released 10061 last week, and then updated it just two days ago (why???) with four patches, but we ended up being correct in the end.

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Microsoft has just released Windows 10 build 10074 to both Fast and Slow users. Its comes with a very small list of known issues, and they are much less severe than they were in previous releases. The first issue tells developers that Developer Mode needs to be enabled in Group Policy, rather than the place in Settings that it will eventually be. The next two issues are more severe: some games cannot be played in full screen and the People app is still broken. I am not sure how wide-spread “some games” is, but they plan to patch it via Windows Update “as soon as possible”.

One major fix is that now, when certain applications that play audio are minimized, they will continue to play audio. This bug made many media players, such as a few SoundCloud apps in the Windows Store as well as Microsoft's own Music app, pretty much useless. Until 10074, you would basically need to launch them, then cover them up with other windows if you wanted more screen real-estate.

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If you were a fan of Aero from Windows 7, then you will like the blurred transparency effect of Start and the taskbar. Personally, while I think it looks nice, I was never really attached to that aspect of the Windows UI. Honestly, it used to drive me nuts when it kicked me out of games to complain about how it cannot properly manage 2GB of video memory, despite running perfectly fine if I select ignore. Hopefully that will not come back with it. But, if it is here without causing any problems, it does look pretty. Also, the Start Menu can now be manually resized to better arrange your apps. It also looks like the semi-horizontal layout is a great compromise between the Start Menu and the Start Screen for desktops.

So, as we expected, this build is what happens when Microsoft picks a target and mostly cleans up all of their relevant branches into a solid release. It is still a bit buggy here and there, but it feels better than 10049, which was itself better than 10041. That said, I also upgraded my NVIDIA drivers from 349.90 to 352.63; that could have something to do with it (although I am using the same Intel drivers).

There has not been too many announcements regarding features that are not present in 10074 though. It makes you wonder, at least a bit, how much will be added to the 101xx path until the OS finally launches.

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #347 - AMD Zen Architecture and Roadmap leaks, ARM Cortex-A72, budget Z97 board and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, pcper, .

PC Perspective Podcast #347 - 04/30/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Zen Architecture and Roadmap leaks, ARM Cortex-A72, a budget Z97 board 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!

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

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

Beware of Snapdragons for they are subtle and quick to anger

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 810, qualcomm, LG, Samsung

There have been many stories about Qualcomm's difficulties lately, from the court case with NVIDIA to Samsung and LG not using their Snapdragon 810 for their new smartphones.  Qualcomm has struck back at the speculations about problems with this chip that rose from these decisions, pointing out that Microsoft, Xiaomi, Motorola and Sony will all be releasing devices with the Snapdragon 810 in the near future.  LG put in their two cents as well, pointing out their decision to use the 808 chip was made over a year ago and they are still planning on utilizing the next generation Snapdragon 820 in the future, not to mention that they use the 810 in their G Flex 2.  Samsung has also shown their belief in Qualcomm's products considering they will be fabbing the 820.  You can see a short video of an interview with Qualcomm about this topic over at The Register.

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"QUALCOMM HAS DEBUNKED chatter that LG ditched its octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip for the G4 owing to overheating problems."

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Source: The Register

Keep your GTA, there is an island to be 'liberated'

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2015 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, chaos, just cause 3

Sure, pretending to be a gangster can be fun and the many gameplay videos of GTAV certainly make it look entertaining but it pales in comparison to the over the top chaotic gameplay of the Just Cause series.  Watch the trailer below which covers a mix of gameplay, scripted events and cutscenes invoke.  Now decide whether destroying a town with your grapple attached to a bus while flying a helicopter seems like more entertainment than using a mod to drop whales across GTAV's landscape.  The modding community will certainly develop more interesting things to do in GTAV, then again the JC2 modders helped have the multiplayer version of the chaos simulator.  Up to you if you would rather demolish things as a gangster or as a 'liberator'.

Whatever you do remember, only you can stop pre-orders.

"Watching the “gameplay reveal” trailer for Just Cause 3 is like watching the ambitions of every guns, vehicles and explosions game made real. It’s the ludicrously overblown action blockbuster that Uncharted’s scripted events and cutscenes invoke."

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Put some Spring in your step with new peripherals

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2015 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: freesync, 4k, gsync, keyboard, gaming mouse, input

It has been a relatively quiet year for new CPUs and GPUs as we await new releases apart from the occasional incredibly high priced new product.  On the peripheral side it has been anything but quiet, with numerous gaming mice and keyboards of both mechanical and other types being released.  Not only that but we are finally starting to see both AMD and NVIDIA's variable refresh rate monitors appear on the market as well as new 4k and other more traditional displays.  The Tech Report has some recommendations for all of the above as well as other backup peripherals, audio devices and more in this article here.

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"It's time for our latest roundup of recommendations for monitors, keyboards, mice, and more. We've tied it all together in our April 2015 peripheral staff picks."

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Cirrus7 Shows Off Fanless Nimbini Broadwell NUC PC

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2015 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: cirrus7, SFF, nuc, broadwell-u, fanless

Next month, German manufacturer Cirrus7 will begin shipping its new Nimbini system. The Nimbini is an even smaller variant of the company’s small form factor Nimbus PC. This time, Cirrus7 has managed to pack a Intel NUC system into a fanless case with multiple layers of stacked laser cut aluminum panels that double as a heatsink for the internals. Even better, the Nimbini supports Intel’s Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon NUC boards, and supports Broadwell-U processors up to the 28W Core i7 models with Iris Graphics (e.g. the two core, four thread, Core i7-5557U with Iris Graphics 6100).

Cirrus7 Nimbini Fanless Broadwell NUC Case.jpg

The Nimbini will come as a complete system (150 x 150 x 87mm) preloaded with Windows or Ubuntu Linux operating systems or as a barebones DIY kit – which at upwards of 90 pieces (per FanlessTech) is not for the faint-of-heart! This case can be customized to add different covers and to vary the thickness of the case by adding or removing layers. The standard configuration leaves room for a 2.5” drive in addition to the usual M.2 SSD used with NUCs. If you aren’t using that second storage drive, you can make the case thinner or expand it for maximum cooling. While also aesthetically pleasing, the best part about the aluminum construction is that it is a fanless design which is perfect for a HTPC (home theater PC) or audio engineering setup. Cirrus7 claims to support up to 28W processor TDPs without any fans.

Cirrus7 Nimbini Fanless Broadwell NUC Case Back.jpg

Rear IO for the Intel Maple Canyon NUC installed in the layered Nimbini chassis.

Cirrus7 will being taking pre-orders in May. Among others, both the Rock Canyon (with its IR receiver and accompanying case window) and Maple Canyon internal hardware (NUC boards) with dual DisplayPort outputs will be on offer. Pricing has not yet been announced, but it looks promising if you are looking for a premium silent SFF PC.

Source: Cirrus7