Squeeze the most out of your SSD with this handy guide

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Optimization Guide

Tech ARP have updated their handy SSD Optimization Guide which covers a variety of ways to ensure that your SSD has a long life and offers you the best possible performance while it works for you.  Many of the tips such as enabling AHCI mode in your BIOS before installing an OS are obvious to even an SSD newbie but not everyone will be familiar with their GUID Partition Table or proper partition alignment.  The guide is a handy reference for users old and new to make sure that your brand new SSD is performing up to specification.

icon_big.jpg

"Modern SSDs use a mix of techniques and technologies like overprovisioning of memory cells, wear levelling, a write combine buffer (or on-the-fly data compression), and the Trim command or automatic garbage collection to maintain performance and extend the lifespan of the flash memory cells. However, there's only so much they can do."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: TechARP

Get your old school game on

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: internet arcade, retro, gaming

Fire up your browser, currently Firefox is the best choice, then load up games you haven't played in over 20 years; or find out what people are talking about when they remininsce about the good old days of arcades.  Using JSMAME the Internet Archive has brought back hundreds of MAME cabinet games going back to the 70's, the majority of which are playable to some degree.  There is a tech support forum as well as a link to contact the curator of the page if you encounter issues with launching or sound and other technical problems.  The one thing that they can't help you with is the games with special controllers that just physically do not translate to mouse and keyboard or gamepad, you might have to think about creating and programming one if you want the rotating joystick from Victory Road.

If you need more modern games to satisfy you, the Fragging Frogs are up to a little something this weekend.

games.JPG

"The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

8 GB Variants of the R9 290X Coming This Month

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 5, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, amd, 8gb

With the current range of AMD’s R9 290X cards sitting at 4 GB of memory, listings for an 8 GB version have appeared on an online retailer. As far back as March, Sapphire was rumored to be building an 8 GB variety. Those rumours were supposedly quashed last month by AMD and Sapphire. However, AMD has since confirmed the existence of the new additions to the series. Pre-orders have appeared online and are said to be shipping out this month.

amd-r9-290x-8gb-GX-353-SP_88860_600.jpg

Image Credit: Overclockers UK

With 8 GB of GDDR5 memory and price tags between $480 and $520, these new additions, expectedly, do not come cheap. Compared to the 4 GB versions of the R9 290X line, which run about $160 less according to the online retailer, is it worth upgrading at this stage? For the people using a single 1080p monitor, the answer is likely no. For those with multi-screen setups, or those with deep enough pockets to own a 4K display, however, the benefits may begin to justify the premium. At 4K though, just a single 8 GB R9 290X may not provide the best experience; a Crossfire setup would benefit more from the 8 GB bump, being less reliant on GPU speed.

AMD’s 8 GB R9 290X’s are currently available for preorder: a reference version for £299.99 + VAT (~$480) and a Vapor-X version for £324.99 + VAT (~$520). They are slated to ship later this month.

Price versus performance, Dell's Venue 11 Pro tablet

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: dell, Venue 11 Pro, core m

Dell's Venue 11 Pro 7000 will be a Win8.1, 10.8" tablet with a 1920x1080 IPS touchscreen display, powered by an Intel Core M running at 2GHz and 64GB of local storage with the option to add up to a 64GB SD card for more space.  There will be a dock which comes with the tablet to allow you to connect a display, mouse and keyboard while you are not on the road, with a single USB 3.0 and micro HDMI connectivity when you are mobile.  The tablet is obviously made to compete with the Surface Pro 3, the base model of which sports a better screen and processor but is more expensive than the $700 Dell and does not include the price of the dock which Dell bundles with the Venue 11 Pro.  IT professionals should note that with the inclusion of the optional fingerprint scanner and two factor authentication the Venue is approved for use by the US DoD.  Check out more on the Venue and its competitor on The Inquirer.

dell-venue-11-pro-update-540x334.JPG

"Announced at the Dell World conference in Austin, Texas today, the Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series tablet will "accelerate productivity for mobile workers and provide secure access to content beyond the corporate firewall for easy IT management", the firm said."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

EA's Dawngate Found Itself Out of Its League?

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2014 - 01:23 AM |
Tagged: moba, free to play, ea, dawngate

Just a couple short weeks after VentureBeat reported, and I discussed, that multiple free-to-play games were on track to make over a billion dollars this year, EA has announced that their competing MOBA, Dawngate, is canceled. The servers will be up for about three more months if you would like to get some last-minute play time in before it goes away. Any money that you spent will not go away, though; EA has committed to full refunds for any transactions that occurred during the beta.

ea-dawngate-background.jpg

As for employees of the developer, Waystone Games, the open letter thanks them for their dedication, but it does not specifically mention lay-offs or closures. The end of Dawngate could be the beginning of something new, or it could be similar to the recent cancellation of Medal of Honor, where Danger Close was shut down and its employees scattered (many to DICE LA).

Development of Dawngate has ceased, but the game will remain playable until February 2nd, 2015, give or take a few days (depending on how literal they were about "90 days").

Introducing the NVIDIA GeForce GTX "Pick Your Path" Bundle

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2014 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Pick your Path, game bundle, GTX 980, GTX 970, GeForce GTX 780, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, GTX 980M, GTX 970M

NVIDIA has introduced a promotion to compete with AMD's Never Settle Forever program.  The Pick your Path bundle offers purchasers of GTX 980, 970, 780 Ti, or 780 cards or who have bought notebooks with a GTX 980M or 970M the choice of one of three games.   These titles include The Crew, Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity, all of which feature optimization taking advantage of NVIDIA's new HBAO+ and TXAA technologies, enhanced performance at 4k resolutions and other game specific benefits such as the tessellation in Assassin's Creed.  This promotion will run until the end of the year so if you had planned on upgrading your hardware to play one of these games it makes NVIDIA's solutions a little more attractive.

GF-GTX-Pick-Your-Path-Bundle-WheretoBuy-Header-GFcom-717.jpg

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Nov. 4, 2014— NVIDIA today announced a new technology PC gaming development partnership with Ubisoft that will bring consumers closer to their games than ever before.

Thanks to the power of NVIDIA GeForce GTX technology, including the just-released GTX 980 and 970 GPUs, this holiday’s hottest games, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4 and The Crew, will look simply incredible. By integrating NVIDIA’s superior GameWorks technologies, such as HBAO+ for realistic shadows, TXAA for cinema quality smoothness, as well as enhanced 4K support, Ubisoft is delivering cutting-edge content that allow PC gamers to become fully immersed in their gaming environments.

Part of the “Pick Your Path” promotion which kicks off this week and runs to the end of the year, gamers who purchase a qualifying GeForce GTX GPU, including a GeForce GTX 980, 970, 780 Ti, or 780 graphics card or a notebook with GeForce GTX 980M or 970M get their choice of which title--The Crew, Far Cry 4 or Assassin’s Creed Unity--to add to their library for free.

“NVIDIA has worked hard, hand-in-hand with our development teams, to help provide the best experience for our PC players,” said Jean-Francois St.Amour, Lead Graphics Programmer at Ubisoft Montreal. “Their support and insight is even more important now, as we make a big technological leap into the next-generation of Assassin’s Creed games.”

Assassin’s Creed Unity, the latest installment in Ubisoft’s most successful franchise, will feature HBAO+, TXAA, PCSS and tessellation technologies which allow Ubisoft to realistically render the 16th century game environments, which are set in Paris during the French Revolution.

Another legendary game series getting a massively visual and technology upgrade is Far Cry 4. In addition to HBAO+, TXAA, PCSS and enhanced 4K support, Far Cry 4 also integrates NVIDIA Godrays technology so gamers can feel the sun beating down in the Himalayas, and NVIDIA HairWorks, for rendering the realistic, but deadly adversaries that will be encountered in the game.

And finally, if horsepower, engines and pound per cubic feet rev your receptors more, then The Crew, the ultimate street racing game ever made, may be just the ticket you’ve been waiting for. Motoring through the bustling streets of New York City and Los Angeles, cruising down sunny Miami Beach or trekking through the plateaus of Monument Valley never looked so superb thanks in part to the integration of HBAO+ and TXAA technologies-- all rendered in breathtaking 4K. The Crew even comes with an Android companion app that lets you tinker with your ride before playing it live, chat remotely, browse friend profiles, and send your crew on jobs – all from the road.

Source: NVIDIA

Seagate's Kinect, LAN attached HDD, no server required

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2014 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, Kinetic, hdd, openstack

Bringing down the cost of storage is a big focus now as files continue to grow in size and retention becomes more popular with even casual users.  Services like Amazon and Netflix require huge amounts of storage to keep their products on and every penny they can squeeze results in better profits for themselves and shareholders.  Seagate is addressing this with their new Kinect, a type of HDD which connects directly over Ethernet without needing server infrastructure to work.  There is a working demonstration of this technology using Bigfoot JBOD at OpenStack and AOL is at least somewhat interested in testing arrays of these drives.  The Register offers a bit more information here, hopefully more will be forthcoming after the OpenStack conference wraps up.

kinetic_terascale.jpg

"Kinetic is a disk drive directly addressed over Ethernet using Get and Put-style object storage commands using an open source API. The idea is that applications can directly use banks of these drives without having to go through complex filesystem software stacks or block access protocols and storage array controllers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

MSI Also Launches X99S GAMING 9 ACK Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: msi, X99, motherboard, motherboards, qualcomm, killer, 802.11ac

The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC motherboard is built for the Haswell-E architecture, and Morry did a review of it just a couple of week ago. He liked it, giving it a gold award. Now MSI has released a new model, the X99S GAMING 9 ACK, which is basically identical except for its wireless adapter. While the original AC-variant had Intel 802.11ac with dual antennas, the ACK comes with Qualcomm Killer-branded 802.11ac.

msi-x99s-ACK.jpg

Again, for the rest of the motherboard, I will refer you to Morry's review. The only real difference is the Killer NIC and Wireless-AC combo, which is actually more than it seems. If I understand it correctly, "Smart Teaming" will monitor the specific applications using the network and split them between LAN and WiFi, with the more latency-dependent programs getting the wired connection. In theory, this is interesting except that both streams would need to merge in order to get out the internet, which will be your bottleneck. On the other hand, if this works with multiple internet connections, then I could see a use case. For instance, someone has a solid DSL connection alongside their high-bandwidth Cable ISP.

Or, of course, that could not work at all and the outbound internet will, in fact, be your bottleneck.

Pricing and availability is also not available. You can find the original X99S GAMING 9, with the Intel wireless network controller, for about $405. An upgraded wireless adapter should not increase the cost much at all.

Source: MSI

MSI Launches X99S MPOWER Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: X99, overclocking, msi, mpower, motherboards, motherboard

The X99S XPOWER is MSI's top-of-the-line overclocking motherboard. The company has just introduced the X99S MPOWER to complement it on their product stack. It is a similar motherboard with a smaller price tag that was reduced by removing a few optional features (I will outline the major differences, below). These are basically unrelated to performance and overclocking, minus the buttons to set the base clock on the motherboard itself and a couple of accessories (the XPOWER comes with a free Delid Die Guard and temporary fan stand). It is more things like the number of I/O ports.

msi-2014-10_mpower_image1-1.jpg

The main differences with the MPOWER are:

  • It does not have the fifth, eight-lane PCIe slot, just the four provided by Haswell-E.
  • It has one Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter, instead of two.
  • It does not have built-in 802.11ac WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • It has two less USB 3.0 ports (external).
  • It has one less USB 2.0 port (internal, seemingly the "Direct USB" port for BIOS updates).
  • It does not come with a Delid Die Guard or fan stand.

There are a few other differences, such as the XPOWER having an I/O port cover and a few extra on-board overclocking switches and buttons, but I cannot see anything that stands out. The current price difference is about 115$ at Newegg, which is a healthy saving if nothing is a deal-killer.

The X99S XPOWER motherboard is available now, although MSI does not provide an expected MSRP. I found it at Newegg for $270 (USD) and at MemoryExpress for $320 (CDN), though.

Source: MSI

TrackIR for those who want to graduate from the POV hat switch

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: TrackIR, TrackIR5, TrackClip, TrackClip Pro

TrackIR is not a poor mans Occulus, it is a way to literally upgrade your POV hat switch by turning your hat into an input device.  The picture below shows the passive reflectors and an optional active IR transmitter on a ball cap, the second half of the device is a sensor which sits on your display similar to where you keep your webcam.  Once configured it will enable games that support it to track your head movements and change your on screen point of view to match.  If you have heard of TrackIR before it is likely you are an ARMA fan as it has been successfully incorporated into the series and those who have used it swear they will never give it up.  For space sims like the upcoming Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen it is also a brilliant way to interface with the game.  Techgage tested out several other games with both the passive TrackClip and the TrackClip PRO active sensor accessory in this review, check out which of the two they preferred.

trackir_hardware_02_thumb.jpg

"The TrackIR 5 is unique; it provides us the ability to turn our heads and look around our surroundings with no input from our hands. Does this product have the ability to finally change the way we game or are we doomed to keep playing with baby toys for the foreseeable future?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Techgage