Never Settle Forever now with Saint's Row IV

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | September 9, 2013 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: amd, never settle forever, never settle, Saints Row IV

A month after the launch of the choose your own adventures, "Never Settle Forever", we get another entry for the gold tier: Saint's Row IV.

saintsrow4.jpg

Yet another territory they claim.

Two Radeon cards, the HD 7950 and the HD 7970 (with or without GHz edition), qualify for this tier in AMD's promotion. Desktop PCs built with a Radeon HD 8900 installed also count toward this promotion. When you go for the gold, so to speak, you can choose three of the following (now) eleven games to enjoy your new hardware with:

  • Saint's Row IV
  • Tomb Raider
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • DMC
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • DiRT 3
  • DiRT: Showdown
  • Sniper Elite V2

AMD prepared a statement about their partnership with Saint's Row IV publisher, Deep Silver:

“AMD and Deep Silver have a long and successful history of collaboration across their many excellent games, and Saints Row IV is another example of their outstanding development talent.  We are very proud to have their partnership in the AMD Gaming Evolved program and Never Settle Forever bundle,” said Ritche Corpus, director of developer relations and alliances team, Graphics Business Unit, AMD. “As a result, PC gamers with AMD Radeon™ graphics cards can fire up their copy of Saints Row IV knowing that they are receiving the best possible experience. And as the exclusive hardware partner for Saints Row IV, the AMD Gaming Evolved program continues to demonstrate its relentless commitment to ensuring the world’s most exciting games are exclusively optimized for AMD Radeon™ hardware.”

AMD is not finished with Never Settle and claims more will arrive in the coming months. I would expect the switch to choose-your-bundle gives the company slightly more freedom to add extra titles without ballooning costs or removing popular entries. I hope we will see titles available in other tiers, except for the HD 7990 which should keep its 8 game promotion, along with more gold entries.

Either way, we will keep you updated as we hear more.

Source: AMD

Dell Unveils New T3610, T5610, and T7610 Workstations

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 9, 2013 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, workstation, quadro, micron, LSI, k6000, Ivy Bridge-EP, firepro, dell

Along with the release of new mobile workstations, Dell announced three new desktop workstations. Specifically, Dell is launching the T3610, T5610, and T7610 PC workstations under its Precision series. The new systems reside in redesigned cases with improved cable management, removable power supplies (tool-less, removable by sliding out from rear panel), and in the case of the T7610 removable hard drives. All of the new Precision workstations have been outfitted with Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-EP based Xeon processors, ECC memory, workstation-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, Xeon Phi accelerator card options, LSI hardware RAID controllers, and updated software solutions from Intel and Dell.

Dell Precision T3610 T5610 T7610.jpg

The new Precision workstations side-by-side. From left to right: T3610, T5610, and T7610.

Dell's Precision T3610 is a the mid-tower system of the group powered by single socket Xeon E5-2600 v2 hardware that further supports up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two graphics cards, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” SSDs.

Dell Precision T3610 Single Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

The Precision T3610, a new single socket, mid-range workstation.

The Precision T5610 ups the ante to a dual socket IVB-EP processor system that can be configured with up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. Quadro K5000) graphics cards, a Tesla K20C accelerator card, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” solid state drives.

Finally, the T7610 workstation supports dual Intel Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors (up to 24 cores per system), up to 512GB DDR3 ECC memory, three graphics cards (including two NVIDIA Quadro K6000 cards), four 3.5” hard drives, and eight 2.5” SSDs.

Dell Precision T5610 Dual Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

Dell's Precision T5610 dual socket workstation.

The new Precision workstations can also be configured with an Intel Xeon Phi 3120A accelerator card in lieu of a Tesla card. The choice will mainly depend on the applications being used and the development resources and expertise available. Both options are designed to accelerate highly parallel workloads in applications that have been compiled to support them. Further, users can add an LSI hardware RAID card with 1GB of onboard memory to the systems. Dell further offers a Micron P320h PCI-E SSD that, while not bootable, offers up 350GB of high performance storage that excels at high sequential reads and writes.

On the software front, Dell is including the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer and the Intel Cache Acceleration Software. The former automatically configures and optimizes the workstation for specific applications based on profiles that are reportedly regularly updated. The other bit of software works to optimize systems that use both hard drives and SSDs with the SSDs as a cache for the mechanical storage. The Intel Cache Acceleration Software configures the caching algorithms to favor caching very large files on the solid state storage. It is a different approach to consumer caching strategies, but one that works well with businesses that use these workstations to process large data sets.

Dell Precision T7610 Dual Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

The Dell Precision T7610 workstation.

The Dell workstations are aimed at businesses doing scientific analysis, professional engineering, and complex 3D modeling. The T7610 in particular is aimed at the oil and gas industry for use in simulations and modeling as companies search for new oil deposits.

All three systems will be available for purchase worldwide beginning September 12th. Some of the options, such as 512GB of ECC and the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 on the T7610 will not be available until next month, however. The T3610 has a starting price of $1,099 while the T5610 and T7610 have starting prices of $2,729 and $3,059 respectively.

What are your thoughts on Dell's new mid-tower workstations?

Source: Dell

Dell Introduces Powerful New M4800 and M6800 Mobile Workstations

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: workstation, quadro, precision series, optimus, mobile workstation, m6800, m4800, haswell, firepro, enduro, dell

Today, Dell announced new mobile workstation systems in 15” and 17” notebook form factors. The Dell Precision M4800 and Precision M6800 are 15” and 17” laptops constructed of magnesium alloy and anodized aluminum cases, pack some impressive portable computing power, and will be available later this week.

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The Dell Precision M6800 and M4800. Photo courtesy of Dell Inc.

Both the Dell M4800 and M6800 are ISV certified, MIL-STD-810G tested, and support FIPS fingerprint readers, self encrypting hard drives, and TPM security chips. The workstations are updates to the existing M4700 and M6700 systems and can be configured with Intel Haswell i5 or i7  (including i7 Extreme Edition) processors, AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz (or 16GB DDR3 at 1866MHz), multiple storage drives, Waves MaxxAudio, and WiGig wireless dock support that allows up to 5 external displays. Users can attach a 9-cell 97Wh slice battery in addition to the 9-cell 97Wh system battery to get extended battery life. Users can add dedicated graphics cards to the systems from AMD (FirePro) or NVIDIA (Quadro), which support Enduro and Optimus technologies respectively. The technology allows the system to turn off the dedicated cards and use the Intel processor graphics when the extra horsepower is not needed to conserve battery life. The M4800 and M6800 workstations each come with 3 year warranties.

The Dell Precision M4800 is a mobile workstation weighing 6.35 pounds. It features a backlit keyboard, trackpad, and high resolution 15.6” QHD+ IGZO display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. The notebook can be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 “Haswell” Extreme Edition processor, an AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro or NVIDIA Quadro K2100M graphics card, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory, and 2.5 TB of internal storage (two 1TB plus one 500GB drive) in RAID 0, 1, or 5 modes.

The 15” Dell Precision M4800 workstation will be available on September 12th starting at $1,249.

Stepping up to the larger 17” Precision M6800, users can configure the system with a Haswell Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz system memory, 3.5TB of storage space in RAID 0, 1, or 5, and a 17” 1080p LED-backlit 10-point multi-touch display. This notebook weighs 7.86 pounds.

The M6800 will be available in black or phoenix red with a starting MSRP of $1,599 on September 12th.

Business customers needing portable computing power have some interesting new options with the two new Dell workstations, which pack some powerful hardware into a laptop form factor. Sure, they are not the lightest or thinnest machines, but you won't find i7 processors, 32GBs of memory, Quadro graphics, and 2+TB of storage in an ultrabook.

Source: Dell

IFA 2013: Lenovo Reveals Yoga 2 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga Convertible PCs

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 5, 2013 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: yoga 2 pro, thinkpad yoga, thinkpad tablet, Lenovo, ifa 2013

One of the major themes of Lenovo's IFA product releases is the push into multi-mode computing which amounts to convertible PCs such as its Yoga series with 360-degree hinges. Two of the new multi-mode computers are the consumer focused Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga for business users. Both devices will be available later this year.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is a 13” convertible ultrabook measuring 12.99” x 8.66” x 0.61” and weighing 3.06 pounds. The system is an update to the original Yoga, and maintains the dual hinge design that allows the display to fold all the way back into tablet mode.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro_Image.jpg

The Yoga 2 Pro has a QHD+ touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 and 350 nit brightness. Other external features include a backlit AccuType keyboard, trackpad, stereo speakers, and a 720p webcam. There are several IO ports situated around the sides of the notebook including one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one combo mic/headphone audio jack, one SD card slot, and one micro HDMI video output.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Convertible PC.jpg

The convertible ultrabook is configured with an Intel Haswell Core i7 ULT processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 512GB SSD, and a battery rated at 6 hours of 1080p video playback with the display at 150 nits brightness. It also comes equipped with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. The Yoga 2 Pro will come pre-installed with Windows 8.1 Pro. Users can control the Yoga 2 using the touchscreen, keyboard and trackpad, voice, or motion controls. Lenovo further includes software that will automatically list Windows applications on the Start Screen depending on the mode the “multi-mode” computer is in (tablet, laptop, tent, ect).

The Yoga 2 Pro will be available in October for $1099.99 (starting MSRP).

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

Beyond the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo is introducing the Yoga form factor to the business market with the new ThinkPad Yoga. The system is smaller than the Yoga 2 Pro but a bit thicker and heavier. It does make several trade-offs versus the consumer Yoga 2 Pro to integrate business-friendly features such as digitizer support. Interestingly, the two systems are priced similarly, and the starting MSRP on the ThinkPad Yoga is lower than the Yoga 2 Pro.

The upcoming ThinkPad Yoga is a 12.5” notebook with a magnesium alloy chassis that is 0.74” thick and weighs 3.48 with everything installed. Users can choose between an HD display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass or a 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen display with support for an optional Wacom digitizer pen. Unfortunately, there is no QHD+ option on this business-class multi-mode PC. Other features include a backlit keyboard, five button glass trackpad, stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, and “all day battery life.” Specifically, the ThinkPad Yoga is rated at 5.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i7 or 8.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i3 processor. IO on the ThinkPad Yoga includes a single audio jack (mic+headphone), SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI video output, and a DC-in OneLink dock adapter port.

The other interesting feature that is exclusive to the ThinkPad version of the Yoga is a keyboard that uses what Lenovo calls a “lift and lock” system to secure the keyboard while the system is in tablet mode. When the display is rotated all of the way back into tablet mode, rubber bumpers and the frame around the keyboard lift up. The keyboard frame lifts up to be flush with the top of the keys. Meanwhile, the keys themselves lock into place such that they cannot be pressed down. This is a useful feature as it creates a stable base and removes the worry that keys would accidentally be pressed during a key presentation (even if the existing Yoga already ignores key presses, having a hardware lock in place gives some piece of mind).

Internally, the ThinkPad Yoga can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell Core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 1TB hard drive plus 256GB SSD, large battery, and Wi-Fi, and NFC radios. The OneLink dock will allow users further expansion options by adding Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, and additional display outputs.

The ThinkPad Yoga will be available in November starting at $949. You can find photos of the new PC at the IFA show in Berlin over at Engadget.

Which would you choose, the Yoga 2 Pro with high resolution display or the ThinkPad Yoga with Wacom digitizer and locking keyboard?

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2013: ASUS Zenbook UX301 and UX302 Sleek Glass

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 4, 2013 - 09:11 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, ifa 2013, asus

How about some Ultrabooks? We got Ultrabooks. Thin, light, and metal brushed with their characteristic circular pattern. They are proud of that design, proud enough to cover it, the top of the lid, with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from scratches and gouges. It feels a little absurd to say, but covering metal in glass for increased durability seems to make sense and could help your premium laptop look new for longer.

ZenbookUX301.jpg

These 13.3-inch laptops come in two resolutions: 1920x1080 Full HD is the lower offering, with 2560x1440 for higher-end tastes. Both monitors are IPS-based with 10-point multi-touch capabilities.

The raw specifications for the UX301 are:

  • Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U or i7-4558U
  • 4GB or 8GB DDR3L
  • Intel HD 5100 Graphics
  • SATA 3 SSD (up to 512GB RAID0)
  • 13.3-inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD or 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
  • 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Mini DisplayPort, Micro-HDMI 1.4
  • 2x USB3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
  • Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro

Zenbook UX302.jpg

For the UX302:

  • Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U
  • 4GB DDR3L
  • Intel HD 4400 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (2GB)
  • Up to a 750GB HDD with 16 GB SSD cache
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
  • 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Mini Displayport, HDMI 1.4
  • 3x USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
  • Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro

The UX301 seems to be the more-premium device with obviously higher specs, at least for options, despite being almost 2mm thinner (15.5mm vs 17.2 for the UX302) and a quarter of a pound lighter (1.38kg vs 1.5 kg for the UX302). Both models are listed as a 50W battery, which I assume means 50Wh since watts are not a unit of electrical storage, but I am not entirely sure.

No information about pricing and availability has been released.

Press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

LG V960 All-In-One PC Announced at IFA 2013

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | August 31, 2013 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: LG, AIO, 21:9

HDTVs have an aspect ratio, the proportion between width and height, of 16:9. This, more noticeably rectangular, format was seen as a suitable compromise between 4:3 tradition and the many widths of theatrical releases. Computers, high resolution since the 90s (give-or-take) to fit more stuff on screen, first adopted many HD innovations.

Widescreen, however, was firmly resisted. Internet video was not popular or even known to the general public. Vista, with its sidebar optimizations, was expected to make 16:10 tolerable. 16:9 was too wide to even be considered an effective option for documents and websites.

LG_IPS_Monitor_MA731.jpg

I must say: I don't know how I'd live without Sidebar making my monitor feel wastefully narrow and...

... normal.

Now that the public is comfortable with 16:9, because at some point it ceased to be scary for display manufacturers, some are experimenting with even wider niches. 2560x1080 has about a third more width than a "FullHD" panel to add another side-by-side-by-side document to edit or snapped website to refer to. At this point, if people want to buy it, do it.

LG, at IFA 2013, unveiled their V960 all-in-one (AIO) desktop. This computer is housed inside a 29" 21:9 (technically 64:27, but those numbers are big and scary) IPS display. Despite lacking a touchscreen, and despite OSX screenshots for its also announced plain monitors in its promo image, the AIO comes with Windows 8 pre-installed. It houses a mobile GeForce GT 640M GPU and... well that is about all we know of its internals.

The company believes that you might use some screen width for picture-in-picture TV browsing. LG is not too clear on what functionality will be available to the V960. Other monitors in the line contain a TV tuner, but they never specified whether the AIO would have a tuner or just an HDMI input. Also unclear, whether video inputs are accessible to the computer for DVR functionality or whether it is delivered straight to the display.

The LG V960 was on display at IFA 2013. No pricing and availability information has been announced by LG.

Source: LG

Back to school specials, dorm PCs and laptops

Subject: Systems | August 28, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: system build

It's that time again, with students headed back to school and looking for electronic devices to accompany them. The Tech Report just updated their System Build Guides for not only the high end gaming builds but also an mATX system that will fit in a dorm room as well as some tablets and laptops.  With an i5-4670K, HD 7950 Boost and a Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD you will indeed be the envy of the dorm for about $1300 so you will still have money left over for beverages and pot noodles.

Don't forget to keep an eye on our PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard as well.

TR_rig.jpg

"The back-to-school season is upon us, and we've updated our system guide for the occasion. In addition to refreshing our usual builds, we've added a dorm-worthy microATX config and revamped our mobile recommendations."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Lenovo Bundles Start Menu... Which Bundles an App Store?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 22, 2013 - 11:45 PM |
Tagged: SweetLabs., Pokki, Lenovo

Hate the "Modern" Windows UI? There's an app... store... for that...?

Several solutions exist to reintroduce the classic Windows interface into Windows 8. Not surprisingly, OEMs consider developing or including some option with their devices as a selling point. Perhaps even less surprising, this solution is considered bloatware by some and tries to suggest apps for you.

Oh Lenovo...

sweetlabspokki.jpg

As Ars Technica reports, at least the software tries to be helpful, almost spiting its nature as a pre-installed third party app store. Pokki, the software developed by SweetLabs, includes shortcuts to the Windows Control Panel and other functions expected of a Start Menu.

It also, from its promotional image, above, feels like it will confuse novice users. The recommendations are prominent and docked against what should be system functionality. The layout is not particularly dishonest but, in my opinion, is too opaque about its intent to sell you applications.

SweetLabs previously struck a deal with Acer to include Pokki and Zynga titles on their laptops.

Lenovo intends to include this software in a variety of products. IdeaPad laptops, IdeaCentre desktops, and ThinkPad laptops were all announced.

pocky.jpg

... no relation to the sweet snack, Pocky... I think?

Maybe a little inspiration?

Of course many users might prefer this software to the default Windows experience. Even on Windows 7, I found myself purchasing and installing DisplayFusion to customize taskbar functionality. I also use BlueStacks, for example, which has its own marketplace and recommended applications.

This software could be good for users.

Mostly I hope consumers, from the out-of-box experience with their new devices, have control and understanding over the situation. Typical bundleware gives that a bad name. I am looking at you, antivirus trials.

Source: Ars Technica
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Digital Storm

Haswell and Kepler

With the release of Intel's Haswell core processors and the updated graphics card lineup from NVIDIA, Digital Storm has updated many of their custom PC lines to include both.  A little while ago the company sent along a pre-built Ode system that includes some impressive hardware like an overclocked Core i7-4770K and a GTX 780 along with a Corsair SSD and more.  Even though the design is using fully off-the-shelf parts, the build quality is impressive and will interest many users that want the jump start of a ready made rig.

Our article today (and embedded video) will give you a quick overview of the hardware, the build and the performance that you can expect for this $2500 PC.

  • Digital Storm Ode Custom
  • Intel Core i7-4770K (OC to 4.4 GHz)
  • ASUS Z87-C Motherboard
  • Corsair H100 Water Cooler
  • 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kingston HyperX DDR3-1866
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Graphics Card
  • 120GB Corsair Neutron SSD
  • 1TB Western Digital 7200 RPM HDD
  • Corsair HX1050 Power Supply
  • Corsair Graphite 600T White Case

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Current pricing on this build is $2577 from Digital Storm's website and while that is definitely higher than buying the same components out right, the difference shouldn't be enough to scare you off.  More on that later.

IMG_9812_0.JPG

The Ode from Digital Storm is built around the Corsair 600T chassis, an older design that still stands up well in terms of looks and performance.  The only draw back to it is that it does not have an internal USB 3.0 header and thus still uses the external cable to plug into the back of the motherboard.  If you want to see video from 2010 we did of this case, check the way back machine to do so!

A white color scheme really makes this system stand out and the window on the side panel will let everyone gawk at the components included inside.  With plenty of room for fans, radiators and good intake filter support throughout, the 600T remains one of our favorite chassis at PC Perspective.

Continue reading our review of the Digital Storm Ode Custom Gaming PC!!

Going from Kentsfield to Haswell, can you see the difference?

Subject: Systems | August 9, 2013 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: q6600, i7-4770k, upgrade

Haswell has not been recieved with screams of joy from enthusiasts as we appreciate the power savings but are honestly more interested in MOAR POWER!  As an upgrade from Ivy Bridge there are only a few benefits but what about updating from an old Q6600 on an X38 motherboard?  That is what Legit Reviews just did, moving to a Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H and i7-4770K and as an upgrade it is more than impressive; everything from gaming to the productivity of the system skyrocketed as you can see below.  If you are still running a Q6600 on your main rig it looks like saving your pennies would be a very good idea.

cinebench_cpu.jpg

more impressive benchmarks if you follow the link

"We all love doing computer upgrades, but sometimes we have to ask ourselves if a full system upgrade is worth it or necessary. There are times that you may only gain a small percentage of a performance boost, where there are other times that you gain significant increases. Today I am going to compare my original Intel Kentsfield CPU and X38 motherboard to a shiny new Haswell CPU and Z87 motherboard."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems