Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Specifications

The ASUS Zenfone 2 is a 5.5-inch smartphone with a premium look and the specs to match. But the real story here is that it sells for just $199 or $299 unlocked, making it a tempting alternative to contract phones without the concessions often made with budget devices; at least on paper. Let's take a closer look to see how the new Zenfone 2 stacks up! (Note: a second sample unit was provided by


When I first heard about the Zenfone 2 from ASUS I was eager to check it out given its mix of solid specs, nice appearance, and a startlingly low price. ASUS has created something that has the potential to transcend the disruptive nature of a phone like the Moto E, itself a $149 alternative to contract phones that we reviewed recently. With its premium specs to go along with very low unlocked pricing, the Zenfone 2 could be more than just a bargain device, and if it performs well it could make some serious waves in the smartphone industry.

The Zenfone 2 also features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen with 1920x1080 resolution (in line with an iPhone 6 Plus or the OnePlus One), and beyond the internal hardware ASUS has created a phone that looks every bit the part of a premium device that one would expect to cost hundreds more. In fact, without spoiling anything up front, I will say that the context of price won't be necessary to judge the merit of the Zenfone 2; it stands on its own as a smartphone, and not simply a budget phone.


The big question is going to be how the Zenfone 2 compares to existing phones, and with its quad-core Intel Atom SoC this is something of an unknown. Intel has been making a push to enter the U.S. smartphone market (with earlier products more widely available in Europe) and the Zenfone 2 marks an important milestone for both Intel and ASUS in this regard. The Z3580 SoC powering my review unit certainly sounds fast on paper with its 4 cores clocked up to 2.33 GHz, and no less than 4 GB of RAM on board (and a solid 64 GB onboard storage as well).

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Zenfone 2 smartphone!!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design


With the introduction of the ASUS G751JT-CH71, we’ve now got our first look at the newest ROG notebook design revision.  The celebrated design language remains the same, and the machine’s lineage is immediately discernible.  However, unlike the $2,000 G750JX-DB71 unit we reviewed a year and a half ago, this particular G751JT configuration is 25% less expensive at just $1,500.  So first off, what’s changed on the inside?


(Editor's Note: This is NOT the recent G-Sync version of the ASUS G751 notebook that was announced at Computex. This is the previously released version, one that I am told will continue to sell for the foreseeable future and one that will come at a lower overall price than the G-Sync enabled model. Expect a review on the G-Sync derivative very soon!)

Quite a lot, as it turns out.  For starters, we’ve moved all the way from the 700M series to the 900M series—a leap which clearly ought to pay off in spades in terms of GPU performance.  The CPU and RAM remain virtually equivalent, while the battery has migrated from external to internal and enjoyed a 100 mAh bump in the process (from 5900 to 6000 mAh).  So what’s with the lower price then?  Well, apart from the age difference, it’s the storage: the G750JX featured both a 1 TB storage drive and a 256 GB SSD, while the G751JT-CH71 drops the SSD.  That’s a small sacrifice in our book, especially when an SSD is so easily added thereafter.  By the way, if you’d rather simply have ASUS handle that part of the equation for you, you can score a virtually equivalent configuration (chipset and design evolutions notwithstanding) in the G751JT-DH72 for $1750—still $250 less than the G750JX we reviewed.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS G751JT!!!

NVIDIA VR Headset Patent Found

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 6, 2015 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: VR, nvidia, gameworks vr

So I'm not quite sure what this hypothetical patent device is. According to its application, it is a head-mounted display that contains six cameras (??) and two displays, one for each eye. The usage of these cameras is not define but two will point forward, two will point down, and the last two will point left and right. The only clue that we have is in the second patent application photo, where unlabeled hands are gesturing in front of a node labeled “input cameras”.


Image Credit: Declassified

The block diagram declares that the VR headset will have its own CPU, memory, network adapter, and “parallel processing subsystem” (GPU). VRFocus believes that this will be based on the Tegra X1, and that it was supposed to be revealed three months ago at GDC 2015. In its place, NVIDIA announced the Titan X at the Unreal Engine 4 keynote, hosted by Epic Games. GameWorks VR was also announced with the GeForce GTX 980 Ti launch, which was mostly described as a way to reduce rendering cost by dropping resolution in areas that will be warped into a lower final, displayed resolution anyway.


Image Credit: Declassified

VRFocus suggests that the reveal could happen at E3 this year. The problem with that theory is that NVIDIA has neither a keynote at E3 this year nor even a place at someone else's keynote as far as we know, just a booth and meeting rooms. Of course, they could still announce it through other channels, but that seems less likely. Maybe they will avoid the E3 hype and announce it later (unless something changes behind the scenes of course)?

Source: VRFocus

AMD Carrizo SKUs and Dual Graphics Options Announced

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 4, 2015 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: amd, carrizo

My discussion of the Carrizo architecture went up a couple of days ago. The post did not include specific SKUs because we did not have those at the time. Now we do, and there will be products: one A8-branded, one A10-branded, and one FX-branded.


All three will be quad-core parts that can range between 12W and 35W designs, although the A8 processor does not have a 35W mode listed in the AMD Dual Graphics table. The FX-8800P is an APU that has all eight GPU cores while the A-series APUs have six. The A10-8700P and the A8-8600P are separated by a couple hundred megahertz base and boost CPU clocks, and 80 MHz GPU clock.


Also, we have been given a table of AMD Radeon R5 and R7 M-series GPUs that can be paired with Carrizo in an AMD Dual Graphics setup. These GPUs are the R7 M365, R7 M360, R7 M350, R7 M340, R5 M335, and R5 M330. They cannot be paired with every Carrizo APU, and some pairings only work in certain power envelopes. Thankfully, this table should only be relevant to OEMs, because end-users are receiving pre-configured systems.

Pricing and availability will depend on OEMs, of course.

Source: AMD
Manufacturer: AMD

Digging into a specific market

A little while ago, I decided to think about processor design as a game. You are given a budget of complexity, which is determined by your process node, power, heat, die size, and so forth, and the objective is to lay out features in the way that suits your goal and workload best. While not the topic of today's post, GPUs are a great example of what I mean. They make the assumption that in a batch of work, nearby tasks are very similar, such as the math behind two neighboring pixels on the screen. This assumption allows GPU manufacturers to save complexity by chaining dozens of cores together into not-quite-independent work groups. The circuit fits the work better, and thus it lets more get done in the same complexity budget.


Carrizo is aiming at a 63 million unit per year market segment.

This article is about Carrizo, though. This is AMD's sixth-generation APU, starting with Llano's release in June 2011. For this launch, Carrizo is targeting the 15W and 35W power envelopes for $400-$700 USD notebook devices. AMD needed to increase efficiency on the same, 28nm process that we have seen in their product stack since Kabini and Temash were released in May of 2013. They tasked their engineers to optimize their APU's design for these constraints, which led to dense architectures and clever features on the same budget of complexity, rather than smaller transistors or a bigger die.

15W was their primary target, and they claim to have exceeded their own expectations.

Backing up for a second. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

When I met with AMD last month, I brought up the Bulldozer architecture with many individuals. I suspected that it was a quite clever design that didn't reach its potential because of external factors. As I started this editorial, processor design is a game and, if you can save complexity by knowing your workload, you can do more with less.


Bulldozer looked like it wanted to take a shortcut by cutting elements that its designers believed would be redundant going forward. First and foremost, two cores share a single floating point (decimal) unit. While you need some floating point capacity, upcoming workloads could use the GPU for a massive increase in performance, which is right there on the same die. As such, the complexity that is dedicated to every second FPU can be cut and used for something else. You can see this trend throughout various elements of the architecture.

Read on for more about what Carrizo is, and what it came from to get here.

Computex 2015: MSI Announces Notebooks with Quad-Core Broadwell CPUs

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: notebook, msi, Intel Core i7, gaming notebook, computex 2015, computex, Broadwell

MSI has unveiled a refreshed notebook lineup featuring the new quad-core Intel Broadwell mobile processors.


Broadwell launched as a dual-core only option, which resulted in some high-performance notebooks opting to stay with Haswell CPUs. With the introduction of quad-core versions of the new Broadwell chips for mobile, MSI has jumped on the bandwagon to offer a few different options. Of the 20 new notebooks offered by MSI, 18 of them are powered by Intel Core i7 chips.

Intel’s 5th Generation Core i7 processor powers 18 MSI laptop models, including the GT80 Titan SLI, GT72 Dominator, GS70 Stealth, GS60 Ghost, GE72 Apache, GE62 Apache, GP72 Leopard, GP62 Leopard, and the newly announced PX60 Prestige.  Available immediately, all gaming notebook models come with an array of superior technologies, including Killer DoubleShot Pro for lag-less gaming, SteelSeries Gaming Keyboard for exceptional customization and feel, and more.

The flagship GT80 Titan SLI has these impressive specs, including an Intel Core i7-5950HQ processor:

GT80 Titan SLI

  • Screen: 18.4” 1920x1080 WideView Non-Reflection
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-5950HQ, 2.9 - 3.7 GHz
  • Chipset: HM87
  • Graphics: Dual GTX 980M SLI, 8GB GDDR5 VRAM each
  • Memory: 24GB (8GB x3) DDR3L 1600MHz (4 SoDIMM slots, max 32GB)
  • Storage: 256GB Super RAID (128GB M.2 SATA x2, RAID 0) + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD
  • Optical: BD Burner
  • LAN: Killer Gaming Network
  • Wireless: Killer N1525 Combo (2x2 ac), BT 4.1
  • Card Reader: SDXC
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, mDP v1.2 x2
  • MSRP: $3799.99


The GT80 Titan SLI gaming notebook

1920x1080 with this model seems low, especially considering the obscene amount of VRAM (8GB per card on a laptop? Really?). Still, this notebook has excellent external monitor support with dual mini-DisplayPort outputs, though HDMI is limited to version 1.4.

MSI has also introduced a refreshed GT72 Dominator with NVIDIA G-Sync (covered here), and this new version also features USB 3.1. And for the more business-minded there is the premium PX60 Prestige, now refreshed with Broadwell Core i7 as well.

These refreshed notebook models will be “available immediately” from MSI’s retail partners.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: MSI GT72 Gaming Notebook with G-SYNC and Eye Tracking

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Tobii Technology, msi, GTX 980M, gt72, gaming notebook, g-sync, eye-tracking, computex 2015, computex

MSI has announced a new version of the GT72 gaming notebook featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC technology.


Like the current GT72 Dominator Pro G, this features NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics, though this announced version has 8GB of GDDR5 (vs. the previous 4GB) powering its 17.3” display. The G-SYNC implementation with this notebook will allow for variable refresh between 30 - 75 Hz, and as the existing G72 is a 1920x1080 notebook also featuring a GTX 980M it might seem unnecessary to implement G-SYNC, though this would ensure a smoother experience with the newest games at very high detail settings.

Based on the current GT72 Dominator Pro G we can also expect an Intel Broadwell Core i7 mobile processor (the i7-5700HQ in the current model), and these notebooks support up to 32GB of DDR3L 1600MHz memory, as well as up to 4 M.2 SSDs in RAID 0.


MSI is also announcing development, in partnership with eye-tracking company Tobii Technology, of a “fully integrated eye-tracking notebook” for gamers, and MSI will have prototype notebooks at Computex to demonstrate the technology.

We’ll post additional details when available. Right now full specs, as well as pricing and availability, have not been revealed.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces ZenPad 8-inch Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: ZenPad, tablets, moorefield, computex 2015, computex, intel atom, atom x3, asus, ZenPad S

ASUS has announced their ZenPad 8.0 Series of tablets, and these feature some proprietary visual enhancements to give their screens more contrast and vivid color:

  • ASUS VisualMaster HDR video technology
  • ASUS TruVivid (direct bonded glass)
  • Bluelight filter (reduces blue light by 30%)
  • ASUS Tru2Life (contrast and sharpness enhancement) technology
  • Inteligent contrast (up to 150% wider contrast levels)


The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0

What about specifications? Here’s a quick rundown of the tablets, both of which run Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS ZenUI:

ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA

  • Intel Atom 3580 Moorefield
    • Quad-core up to 2.3 GHz
    • PowerVR G6430 Rogue graphics
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage
  • 8-inch IPS panel
    • 2048x1536 display (4:3)
    • 324ppi
    • TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
    • 73.75% screen-to-body ratio
  • Dual front speakers
  • 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Micro SDXC (up to 128GB)
  • 15.2Wh battery
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB Type-C connector

ZenPad 8.0 Z380C series

  • Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA)  C3200 series
    • Quad-core
    • Mali 450MP4 GPU
  • 8-inch IPS display
    • 76.5% screen-to-body ratio
    • 1280 x 800
    • 16:10 ratio
    • 10-finger multi-touch
  • 1GB/2GB ram
  • 8GB or 16GB eMMC
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
  • 1 x micro SDXC
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, E-compass, GPS, Hall sensor, Light sensor
  • 4000 mAh battery (non-removable)

No specifics on pricing or availablitiy just yet.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2015: New ASUS ROG Notebooks include G-Sync, Thin-and-Light Options

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gl552, g751, g501, computex 2015, computex, asus

Launching with Computex this week, ASUS has a set of three new ROG (Republic of Gamers) notebooks for potential mobile gamers to take a look at. First up is the G751JT and G751JY machines that feature Intel Core i7 processors (likely Haswell) and GeForce GTX 980M discrete graphics. After the recent announcement of G-Sync for notebooks, it should be no surprise that this updated G751 will feature an impressive 75 Hz 1920x1080 screen that supports variable refresh gaming!

G751 Left Open135 Top.jpg

ASUS G751JT/JY Notebook

For those more interested in a thin-and-light gaming machine, ASUS has the ROG G501. This will be available with either 2560x1440 or 3840x2160 resolution displays and will feature Intel Core i7 processors, again without specification on if that is Haswell or Broadwell based. ASUS claims that the G501 "features dual independent fans and copper heat sinks to ensure efficient thermal management for smooth and stable performance even at high loads."

G501_Left Open135 Top.jpg

ASUS G501 Notebook

Finally, the ROG GL552 looks to be a more standard gaming rig with a Haswell-based Intel processor, non-descript "discrete graphics" and an "optional" solid state drive. The GL552 will feature an "easy-access design for additional storage and memory upgrades."


ASUS GL552 Notebook

Look for more details on these notebooks and hopefully reviews very soon!

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces the Transformer Book T100HA

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: Transformer Book T100HA, quad-core, intel atom, computex 2015, computex, Cherry Trail, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has announced the newest version of their Transformer Book 2-in-1, and the T100HA features a Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5 series quad-core processor and will run Windows 10 when released later this year.


From ASUS:

"ASUS Transformer Book T100HA is the successor to the best-selling Transformer Book T100TA 2-in-1, and combines the power of a stylish 10.1-inch laptop with the convenience of a super-slim tablet. This new iteration has up to 14 hours of battery life, and has an ultra-thin 8.45mm chassis that weights just 580g. It has a metallic finish and is available in Silk White, Tin Grey, Aqua Blue and Rouge Pink.

The T100HA is powered by a choice of quad-core Intel® Atom™ ‘Cherry Trail’ X5 series processors, and has 4GB RAM and a USB Type-C port. This device comes pre-installed with Windows 10 and will be available in the third quarter of 2015."


Source: ASUS