Europeans: Atlast! Has Haswell-based Fanless NUCs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: fanless, nuc, haswell

The Akasa Newton X is a fanless case for the NUC form factor that was announced in May and released a couple of months ago. Now, we are beginning to see system builders (albeit in Europe) integrate it in some higher-end devices. This one, from Atlast! Solutions, is built around the Intel Core i5-4250U, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage (512GB Crucial M550 mSATA + 1TB 840 EVO SATA), and up to 16GB of RAM. It can also be configured with up to two-antenna Wireless AC.

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The Core i5-4250U is a dual-core (four threads) processor that is rated for 15W TDP. Its on-chip GPU is the Intel HD Graphics 5000 with a peak, theoretical compute throughput of 704 GFLOPS. This makes it a little under three-times the graphics performance of an Xbox 360. In terms of PC games, you are looking at Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on low at 1024x768 (or basically whatever your home server can do if used as a stream-to target).

Prices currently start at £449.00 for 4GB of RAM and 60GB of mSATA SSD, including VAT.

Thanks to FanlessTech for covering this story.

Gigabyte's Z97X G1 Gaming GT is a bit of a step backwards

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X G1 Gaming GT, z97

Calling the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming GT Z97 motherboard trimmed down is a bit of an exaggeration, all that was removed was Bluetooth, WiFi and and Creative's Sound Core3D codec.  It still features AMP-UP audio with swappable OP-AMPs, a E2200 KillerNIC, high quality caps, four PCIe 3.0 16x slots thanks to a PLEX chip as well as an impressive array of SATA and USB ports.  At $270 it will cost you a somewhat less than choosing a new Haswell-E system and the performance in most cases will be very comparable, especially if you desire high quality audio.  However not all was good once [H]ard|OCP started testing the board, while there were no insurmountable issues their overall experiences with setting up the board make this particular model difficult to recommend; read the reasons why in their full review.

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"GIGABYTE’s G1 Gaming GT looks to be a stripped version of the Z97X Gaming G1 WiFi-BK. Like other offerings in the G1 family the G1 Gaming GT is a premium part representing the pinnacle of what GIGABYTE design and innovation can and should offer. We have high expectations for the G1 Gaming GT."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Check out results of The Tech Report's hardware survey

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: survey, components

The Tech Report have compiled the data from their survey of readers machines and the data is now posted in this article.  You can see how your build compares to the major trends that they observed, from the number and type of monitors that you use to the amount of RAM you have installed.  The most interesting page covers the odd facts which were revealed such as the overwhelming predominance of ATX boards and cases that are being used despite the fact that 75% of respondents having only a single card installed in their systems.  It is also interesting to note a mere 10% of those responding use more than one GPU.  Check out the findings here.

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"Typical PC enthusiasts may spend more on their PCs than you might think—and by the looks of it, their taste for high-end hardware isn't just limited to core components. Those are two of the main takeaways from the TR Hardware Survey 2014, in which we invited readers to answer 26 questions about their PCs. Around 4,000 of you participated over a period of about a week and a half, and the results paint an enlightening picture of current trends in the hobbyist PC realm. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Author:
Manufacturer: Apple

One Small Step

While most articles surrounding the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this far have focused around user experience and larger screen sizes, performance, and in particular the effect of Apple's transition to the 20nm process node for the A8 SoC have been our main questions regarding these new phones. Naturally, I decided to put my personal iPhone 6 though our usual round of benchmarks.

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First, let's start with 3DMark.

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Comparing the 3DMark scores of the new Apple A8 to even the last generation A7 provides a smaller improvement than we are used to seeing generation-to-generation with Apple's custom ARM implementations. When you compare the A8 to something like the NVIDIA Tegra K1, which utilizes desktop-class GPU cores, the overall score blows Apple out of the water. Even taking a look at the CPU-bound physics score, the K1 is still a winner.

A 78% performance advantage in overall score when compared the A8 shows just how much of a powerhouse NVIDIA has with the K1. (Though clearly power envelopes are another matter entirely.)

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If we look at more CPU benchmarks, like the browser-based Google Octane and SunSpider tests, the A8 starts to shine more.

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While the A8 edges out the A7 to be the best performing device and 54% faster than the K1 in SunSpider, the A8 and K1 are neck and neck in the Google Octane benchmark.

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Moving back to a graphics heavy benchmark, GFXBench's Manhattan test, the Tegra K1 has a 75% percent performance advantage over the A8 though it is 36% faster than the previous A7 silicon.

These early results are certainly a disappointment compared to the usual generation-to-generation performance increase we see with Apple SoCs.

However, the other aspect to look at is power efficiency. With normal use I have noticed a substantial increase in battery life of my iPhone 6 over the last generation iPhone 5S. While this may be due to a small (about 1 wH) increase in battery capacity, I think more can be credited to this being an overall more efficient device. Certain choices like sticking to a highly optimized Dual Core CPU design and Quad Core GPU, as well as a reduction in process node to 20nm all contribute to increased battery life, while surpassing the performance of the last generation Apple A7.

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In that way, the A8 moves the bar forward for Apple and is a solid first attempt at using the 20nm silicon technology at TSMC. There is a strong potential that further refined parts (like the expected A8x for the iPad revisions) Apple will be able to further surpass 28nm silicon in performance and efficiency.

Intel RealSense SDK Beta Available, Camera Pre-Order

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 03:41 AM |
Tagged: Realsense 3D, realsense, kinect, Intel

RealSense is Intel's 3D camera initiative for bringing face recognition, gesture control, speech input, and augmented reality to the PC. Its closest analogy would be Microsoft's Kinect for Windows. The technology has been presented at Intel keynotes for a while now, embodied in the "Intel Perceptual Computing SDK 2013" under its "Perceptual Computing" initiative.

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Since August 31st, that has been removed from their site and replaced with the Intel RealSense SDK. While the software is free, you will probably need compatible hardware to do anything useful. None is available yet, but the "Intel RealSense Developer Kit" hardware (not to be confused with the "Intel RealSense SDK", which is software) is available for reservation at Intel's website. The camera is manufactured by Creative Labs and will cost $99. They are also very clear that this is a developer tool, and forbid it from being used in "mission critical applications". Basically, don't trust your life on it, or the lives and health of any other(s) or anything.

The developer kit will be available for many regions: the US, Canada, much of Europe, Brazil, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Israel, and Singapore.

Source: Intel

Assassin's Creed: Rogue Might Be for the PC?

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: assassin's creed, pc gaming, ubisoft

Ubisoft's upcoming Assassin's Creed: Rogue is currently only announced for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but it might see a PC release, too. This is particularly weird because Rogue is scheduled to launch, for the two aforementioned consoles, on the same day as Assassin's Creed: Unity is scheduled for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Unless they are planning a delayed PC launch, PC gamers might receive two games, in the same franchise, on the same day.

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I would have to expect that its PC release would need to be staggered though, right? I mean, how would they market two similar games at the same time? In particular, how would they market two fairly long, similar games at the same time? I mean, thanks Ubisoft, but it just seems like an unnecessary risk of market cannibalization.

About that evidence, though. PC Gamer apparently found reference to the title in the Brazillian software ratings board and the title was mentioned on one of Ubisoft's Uplay page for the PC. Those are pretty good pieces of evidence, although we need to take their word on it, which is implicitly trusting screenshots from NeoGAF. Also, PC Gamer really needs to link to the exact thread at NeoGAF because it was buried under the first several pages by the time I got there.

Assassin's Creed: Unity launches on November 11th, 2014 (not the 14th). Rogue -- maybe?

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Editor Video

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2014 - 08:30 PM |
Tagged: mount & blade, taleworlds, mount & blade ii, bannerlord, pc gaming

The Mount & Blade franchise is enjoyed among a relatively small, dedicated group of fans. One leading reason for this uptake is the large base of third-party content from its modding community. One mod, Mount & Musket, led to the creation of a game studio, Flying Squirrel Entertainment, when the mod was picked up into an official expansion, Mount & Blade: Warband: Napoleonic Wars. Sometimes taxonomy can be proper but a little bit excessive.

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Developer, TaleWorlds, builds games atop their own, proprietary engine and designs it with modders in mind. They are currently in development of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlords, a prequel to Mount & Blade: Warband. In the video, below, they explain that every feature in the video is available for third-parties. This includes painting layers of materials and foliage, generating terrain by height-maps, and tessellation.

Hopefully they also add "connect to IP"...

While the game was first announced two years ago, it is still in a "when it's done" phase. The publisher is still unknown. Paradox Interactive was attached to the first three games, and Napoleonic Wars, but are not involved with Bannerlord, according to a Reddit AMA from last year. As popular as it is, at least for what it is, TaleWorlds could even be self-publishing to digital distribution platforms like Steam, Desura, GoG, and others, but that is just speculation.

Source: TaleWorlds

EVGA Live Stream! Learn about Maxwell, X99 and Win Prizes!!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | September 28, 2014 - 12:25 AM |
Tagged: X99, video, maxwell, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, evga

UPDATE: If you missed the live stream with myself and Jacob, you can catch the entire event in the video below. You won't want to miss out on seeing the first ever GTX 980 water block as well as announcements on new Torq mice!

EVGA has been a busy company recently. It has continued to innovate with new coolers for the recent GTX 980 and GTX 970 card releases, newer power supplies offer unique features and improved quality and power output, a new line of X99 chipset motherboards including a Micro ATX variant and hey, the company even released a line of high-performance mice this year! PC Perspective has covered basically all of these releases (and will continue to do so with pending GPU and MB reviews) but there is a lot that needs explaining.

To help out, an industry and community favorite will be stopping by from EVGA to the PC Perspective offices: Jacob Freeman. You might know him as @EVGA_JacobF on Twitter or have seen him on countless forums, but he will making an in-person appearance on Friday, September 26th on PC Perspective Live! We plan on discussing the brand new ACX 2.0 cooler on the Maxwell GPUs released last week, go over some of highlights of the new X99 motherboards and even touch on power supplies and the Torq mice line as well.

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EVGA GTX 980/970, X99, PSU and Torq Live Stream featuring Jacob Freeman

3pm ET / 12pm PT - September 26th

PC Perspective Live! Page

EVGA has been a supporter of PC Perspective for a long time and we asked them to give back to our community during this live stream - and they have stepped up! Look at this prize list:

How can you participate and win these awesome pieces of hardware? Just be here at 3pm ET / 12pm PT on http://www.pcper.com/live and we'll be announcing winners as we go for those that tune in. It really couldn't be more simple!

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If you have questions you want to ask Jacob about EVGA, or any of its line of products, please leave them in the comments section below and we'll start compiling a list to address on the live stream Friday. Who knows, we may even save some prizes for some of our favorite questions!

To make sure you don't miss our live stream events, be sure you sign up for our spam-free PC Perspective Live! Mailing List. We email that group a couple hours before each event gets started.

Intel Expands x86 SoC Program to Tsinghua Unigroup

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: Intel, spreadtrum, rda, Rockchip, SoC

A few months ago, Intel partnered with Rockchip to develop low-cost SoCs for Android. The companies would work together on a design that could be fabricated at TSMC. This time Intel is partnering with Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. and, unlike Rockchip, also investing in them. The deal will be up to $1.5 billion USD in exchange for a 20% share (approximately) of a division of Tsinghua.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

Intel is hoping to use this partnership to develop mobile SoCs, for smart (and "feature") phones, tablets, and other devices, and get significant presence in the Chinese mobile market. Tsinghua acquired Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics within the last two years. The "holding group" that owns these division is apparently the part of Tsinghua which Intel is investing in, specifically.

Spreadtrum will produce SoCs based on Intel's "Intel Architecture". This sounds like they are referring to the 32-bit IA-32, which means that Spreadtrum would be developing 32-bit SoCs, but it is possible that they could be talking about Intel 64. These products are expected for 2H'15.

Source: Intel

The Evil Within System Requirements

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 27, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: rage, pc gaming, consolitis

Shinji Mikami has been developing a survival horror game, which makes sense given a good portion of his portfolio. He created Resident Evil and much of the following franchise. The Evil Within is about to release, having recently gone gold. At around this time, publishers begin to release system requirements and Bethesda does not disappoint in that regard.

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Are the requirements... RAGE-inducing?

A case could be made for disappointing requirements, themselves, though.

Basically, Bethesda did not release minimum requirements. Instead, they said "This is what we recommend. It will run on less. Hope it does!" This would not be so problematic if one of their requirements wasn't a "GeForce GTX 670 with 4GBs of VRAM".

They also recommend a quad-core Core i7, 4GB of system memory, 50GB of hard drive space, and a 64-bit OS (Windows 7 or Windows 8.x).

Before I go on, I would like to mention that The Evil Within is built on the RAGE engine. Our site has dealt extensively with that technology when it first came out in 2011. While I did not have many showstopping performance problems with that game, personally, it did have a history with texture streaming. Keep that in mind as you continue to read.

A typical GTX 670 does not even have 4GBs of VRAM. In fact, the GTX 780 Ti does not even have 4GB of VRAM. Thankfully, both of the newly released Maxwell GPUs, the GTX 970 and the GTX 980, have at least 4GB of RAM. Basically, Bethesda is saying, "I really hope you bought the custom model from your AIB vendor". They literally say:

Note: We do not have a list of minimum requirements for the game. If you’re trying to play with a rig with settings below these requirements (you should plan to have 4 GBs of VRAM regardless), we cannot guarantee optimal performance.

Each time I read, "You should plan to have 4 GBs of VRAM regardless", it is more difficult for me to make an opinion about it. That is a lot of memory. Personally, I would wait for reviews and benchmarks, specifically for the PC, before purchasing the title. These recommended settings could be fairly loose, to suit the vision of the game developers, or the game could be a revival of RAGE, this time without the engine's original architect on staff.

The Evil Within launches on October 14th.

Source: Bethesda