PC Component Selections
It's that time of year again! When those of us lucky enough with the ability, get and share the best in technology with our friends and family. You are already the family IT manager so why not help spread the holiday cheer by picking up some items for them, and hey...maybe for you. :)
This year we are going to break up the guide into categories. We'll have a page dedicated to PC components, one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets and one for PC accessories. Then, after those specific categories, we'll have an open ended collection of pages where each PC Perspective team member can throw in some wildcards.
Our Amazon code is: pcper04-20
Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor
The Intel Core i7-4770K is likely the best deal in computing performance today, after to power just about any configuration of PC you can think of without breaking much a sweat. You want to game? This part has you covered? You want to encode some video? The four cores and included HyperThreading support provide just about as much power as you could need. Yes there are faster processors in the form of the the Ivy Bridge-E and even 10+ core Xeon processors, but those are significantly more expensive. For a modest price of $299 you can get what is generally considered the "best" processor on the market.
Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 Case
Cases are generally considered a PC component that is more about the preference of the buyer but there are still fundamentals that make cases good, solid cases. The new Corsair Carbide Air 540 is unique in a lot of ways. The square-ish shape allows for a division of your power supply, hard drives and SSDs from the other motherboard-attached components. Even though the case is a bit shorter than others on the market, there is plenty of working room inside thanks to the Corsair dual-chamber setup and it even includes a pair of high-performance Corsair AF140L fans for intake and exhaust. The side panel window is HUGE allowing you to show off your goods and nice touches like the rubber grommeted cable routing cut outs and dust filters make this one of the best mid-range cases available.
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2013 - 01:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DRAM, HMC, hybrid memory cubes, micron, TSV
Hybrid Memory Cubes are DRAM stacked in layers with logic on the bottom layer to decide which memory layer to address commands to whic is being developed by a team that includes Altera, ARM, IBM, SK Hynix, Micron, Open-Silicon, Samsung and Xilinix. This is intended to give DRAM enhanced parallelization which will help it keep up with today's multi-cored processors. Micron's example which the Register takes a look at here claims up to 10 GB/sec (80 Gb/sec) of bandwidth from each of the 16 vaults present on the chip, a vault being an area of memory on a layer. That compares favourably to the maximum theoretical JEDEC speed of DDR3-1333 which is just a hair over 10GB/s. Read more here.
"Dratted multi-core CPUs. DRAM is running into a bandwidth problem. More powerful CPUs has meant that more cores are trying to access a server’s memory and the bandwidth is running out.
One solution is to stack DRAM in layers above a logic base layer and increase access speed to the resulting hybrid memory cubes (HMC), and Micron has done just that."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Prolonged Ivy Bridge life-cycle affects Intel 2014 CPU roadmap @ DigiTimes
- Repairing Dead USB Flash Drives @ Hack a Day
- Globalfoundries gearing up for high-volume MEMS manufacturing @ DigiTimes
- Gigabyte expected to post 28-year shipments high of 21 million motherboards in 2013 @ DigiTimes
- THOUSANDS of Ruby on Rails sites leave logins lying around @ The Register
- How to Remote Control Your Camera with Darktable on Linux @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 28, 2013 - 03:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Xeon Phi, gpgpu
Intel was testing the waters with their Xeon Phi co-processor. Based on the architecture designed for the original Pentium processors, it was released in six products ranging from 57 to 61 cores and 6 to 16GB of RAM. This lead to double precision performance of between 1 and 1.2 TFLOPs. It was fabricated using their 22nm tri-gate technology. All of this was under the Knights Corner initiative.
In 2015, Intel plans to have Knights Landing ready for consumption. A modified Silvermont architecture will replace the many simple (basically 15 year-old) cores of the previous generation; up to 72 Silvermont-based cores (each with 4 threads) in fact. It will introduce the AVX-512 instruction set. AVX-512 allows applications to vectorize 8 64-bit (double-precision float or long integer) or 16 32-bit (single-precision float or standard integer) values.
In other words, packing a bunch of related problems into a single instruction.
The most interesting part? Two versions will be offered: Add-In Boards (AIBs) and a standalone CPU. It will not require a host CPU, because of its x86 heritage, if your application is entirely suited for an MIC architecture; unlike a Tesla, it is bootable with existing and common OSes. It can also be paired with standard Xeon processors if you would like a few strong threads with the 288 (72 x 4) the Xeon Phi provides.
And, while I doubt Intel would want to cut anyone else in, VR-Zone notes that this opens the door for AIB partners to make non-reference cards and manage some level of customer support. I'll believe a non-Intel branded AIB only when I see it.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sad, ocz, bankrupt
It has been a rough year for OCZ as they tried to overcome the problems that they inherited from once CEO Ryan Petersen. The news first broke in February when Wells Fargo announced that they would have OCZ delisted from the stock exchange as they had not submitted an acceptable profit statement since Q1 of 2012. That would have had a drastic effect on the ability of OCZ to do business and would have triggered a shareholder revolt. The new company head, Ralph Schmitt, managed to stave off the Feb 28th deadline with the help of Crowe Horwath LLP's auditors and received an extension on the SEC deadline. As long as OCZ could produce an accurate accounting of 2012 and Q1 of 2013 by April 8th they would not be delisted. Unfortunately the corrected bookkeeping revealed a serious problem with OCZ's sales model. The higher their raw revenues climbed during 2013 the more their net loss increased, with sales incentives, poor chip supplies and other costs contributed to a seemingly unsustainable business model.
Today the sad announcement of the coming demise of OCZ became official, at 9AM EST trading of OCZ stock was suspended as they announced their impending bankruptcy. The trading resumed just a short time ago, at 2:30PM and as you can see the news is bleak for shareholders.
The stock price declined by 67% since the beginning of the year until this announcement and is currently plummeting even more. According to Barrons and other sources, Toshiba has made an offer to purchase OCZ's assets, the "“material terms have been agreed to,” though there are a number of conditions that have to be satisfied, such as retention of employees." Until this deal is finalized we will not know the fate of OCZ and their product lines or warranty support and it could be quite some time before the specifics are agreed upon and announced to consumers. It is a sad day for enthusiasts who have enjoyed the great performance and low prices that OCZ's SSDs lines offered.
UPDATE : “With the recent news OCZ wants to reassure all our valued customers that the Company is honoring all product warranties. If any customers require support they are encouraged to contact our customer support and forum support teams who will be more than happy to assist.”
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8, gaming, BF4
[H]ard|OCP found something that Win8.1 can do better than Win7, especially now that the mouse issue is not nearly as pervasive. As it turns out the current non-Mantle version of Battlefield 4 performs between 3-6% faster when run on a Win8 machine. While that finding does not imply a huge performance difference they also reported that the video was much smoother when run under Win8 with none of the choppiness that was present under Win7. Think of the frame pacing examples Ryan has provided as a good demonstration of what they are referring to, though the cause may not be the same. It will be interesting to see how the Mantle version will perform under both operating systems.
"Is in-game real world Battlefield 4 gaming performance better on the Windows 8.1 operating system or on Windows 7? We look at video card performance between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in this game and find out if upgrading to Windows 8.1 is worth it or not for the much rumored performance advantage."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Review @ OCC
- Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler released today @ HEXUS
- Let Slip The Increasingly Hairy Dogs Of Modern Warfare @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- InXile On Date, Length, And Expansion Of Wasteland 2′s Beta @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Today a more powerful model of Dell XPS is on sale, running Win7 and featuring a Core i5-3230M, 6GB RAM, 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive + 32GB mSATA SSD and a 1GB GeForce GT 630M. The screen is a full 1080p and the machine weighs a mere 5.8lbs for extra portability. There is also a more expensive Core i7 based model available.
- Dell XPS 15 Core i5 1080p Ultrabook w/ GeForce GT 630M & Windows 7 for $599.99 with Free Shipping (normally $1,369.99 - use coupon code: L5NQDD$WD96PWL).
- Logitech Wireless MK320 Keyboard/Mouse for$29.74 with Free Shipping(normally $34.99 - use coupon code: QG3G$33HH3QP0?).
- Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard for $29.99 with Free Shipping (normally $39.99 - use coupon code: QG3G$33HH3QP0?)).
- LG 27EA33V 27" IPS-Panel LED Backlight LCD Monitor + $10 Macys Gift Card for $199.99 (normally $249.99 - use coupon code: FP2TWJSDDGM00Y).
- Symantec Norton 360 Version 2013 (3-PC DL) for $28.00 with free shipping (normally $59.99).
- Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II for $269.95 with Free Shipping(normally $299.95).
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 12:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, nest, nest protect, smoke, carbon monoxide
Though a little bit outside our normal coverage area, I wanted to share a quick video we made this morning that shows off the new Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Much like the Nest thermostat released a couple years ago, the smoke detector takes a new approach to this bland and "dumb" device in your home. It connects to Wi-Fi for alerts, speaks in a human tone about warnings and is intelligent enough to let you know in what room the emergency is occurring.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 12:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Intel, arm, sales
Chips are hot this year, an increase in sales volume of 27% in Q1, 24% in Q2 and similar growth is expected over the coming year. Unfortunately for AMD and Intel most of these chips are in mobile devices, a market which neither company has leveraged successfully as of yet; PC chip sales have declined steadily over the previous quarters. The only good news is for AMD who managed to take a slightly larger share of this shrinking market. Both companies are going to have to become much more focussed on the ultra low voltage mobile market if they want to remain profitable, which means less development on high end desktop processors. Grab more market stats over at The Inquirer.
"PROCESSOR CHIP SALES will increase by almost quarter this year thanks to the growing demand for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, analyst outfit IHS has predicted."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Works On Some GeForce 700 GPUs, Fails On Others @ Phoronix
- Windows CE On A Raspberry Pi @ Hack a Day
- CIOs, IT chiefs: ARRGH! What do you MEAN, HR just bought 400 iPads and didn't tell us @ The Register
- Netgear R6250 Dual Band Gigabit Smart WiFi Router @ eTeknix
- Rosewill RPLC-200PKIT Powerline Adapter Kit @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 27, 2013 - 12:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox one, ps4, IHS
Parts and labor costs have surfaced for the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Last time around, both Microsoft and Sony were bleeding over a hundred dollars each time a console was produced and sold before you even consider research, development, support, and so forth. This time, both are fluttering around the break-even point.
Console fans commonly say, "You cannot build an equivalent gaming PC for what I can get a console for." My response has been, "Correct and neither can Sony or Microsoft; they are bleeding to gouge you later. Add up those license fees and PC gaming is often cheaper." That may change.
Easier for developers... and their CFO.
While it has not changed that PC gaming can still be cheaper, because it has less middlemen demanding license fees, the consoles might not be losing as much money. Last week, IHS iSuppli inventoried the Playstation 4 and determined that it costs Sony around $381 USD for every $399 console they sell. The Xbox One has also had its turn: $471 USD for the $499 device.
This may seem a lot, but the $499 launch PS3 (20GB) cost Sony $805.85 in parts and labor. The Xbox 360 was less devastating for Microsoft at a cost of $525 for their $399 console. None of these fees include research, development, support, store markup (if they are allowed any), etc.
The last generation of consoles, despite its length, may or may not have delivered any profit for either party. The recent several quarters of profits are easily offset by many more of losses. I expect that neither company is interested in repeating the last generation. It hurt.
But the consoles, despite being cheaper than last time, could still have a reasonable lifespan. A large chunk of the original PS3 bill of materials was the hardware "Emotion Engine" (most links are broken by now but I believe it was about as much per chip as the Cell processor). The consoles are now based upon commodity PC hardware. They can finally take advantage of the competition between other companies to focus their research and development costs on the platform itself.
Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2013 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
The Dell XPS 8700 desktop is on again at a great price. A powerful i7-4770 is paired with 8GB of DDR3 and a GT635 for light gaming duties. This is a Win8 machine so you might want to consider personalizing the system with one of the multi-touch screens for the best possible user experience.
- Dell XPS 8700 Core i7 "Haswell" Quad-core Desktop for $649.99 with Free Shipping (normally $924.99 - use coupon code: HF08ZLDCXJM19W).
- Seagate Expansion 3TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive for $99.99 with Free Shipping(normally $124.99 - use coupon code: EMCWWVP33).
- Linksys EA4500 Dual-Band N900 4-Port Gigabit Router for $79.97 with Free Shipping (normally $199.99).
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 for $65.00 (normally $99.99).
- Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Blu-ray) for $47.99 with free shipping (normally $99.98).
- Foscam FI8918W Wireless Camera w/ Night Vision for $44.99 with Free Shipping(normally $139.99).
- Dell C1765nf Color Multifunction Printer + $100 Gift Card for $279.99 with Free Shipping(normally $319.99).
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