The Tech Report reminds you to get shopping with their updated System Build Guide

Subject: Systems | November 6, 2012 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: system build

Even if The Tech Report's Systems Guide is in direct competition with our own Hardware Leaderboard, it is always nice to have a second opinion especially if you need some advice on Mobile Sidekicks.  Their builds include the Econobox at roughly $600, the Sweet Spot at $1,000, the Editors Choice at $1,500, and the Double Stuff Workstation at $3,000 for those who need the ultimate machine.  There are also alternative components offered for each of these builds so take a look through their recommendations and see if it inspires you.

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"We've refreshed our famous system guide to account for AMD's new A- and FX-series processors, the latest GPU releases, and of course, the arrival of Windows 8."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ORIGIN PC

Specifications and Outside Features

In recent weeks we have been getting a lot of requests for system reviews, but when ORIGIN PC approached us about testing a super-high-end system with dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690s, we were definitely interested.  When we were told to expect a 4.9 GHz Sandy Bridge-E platform to base those Quad SLI GPUs on, we were sold. 

ORIGIN PC has been around since 2009 when several people started the company after leaving Alienware.  While boutique computer builders are still fairly common in today's market, ORIGIN tries to differentiate with ideas like lifetime (yes, lifetime) phone and forum support for your system, lifetime labor for upgrades and services and 72 hours of burn in testing on each machine. 

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The rig we are looking at today falls under the Genesis brand and is the highest end starting point for a custom PC from ORIGIN.  Options for this series include Sandy Bridge-E, Ivy Bridge and even AMD FX processors all with water cooling, multi-GPU configurations and of course, fancy lighting.

Here is a quick overview of the most prominent specs:

  • Corsair 800D chassis
  • Intel Core i7-3930K 6-core Sandy Bridge-E @ 4.9 GHz
  • Intel DX79SR Motherboard
  • Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4GB cards (Quad SLI)
  • 16GB DDR3-1866 quad-channel memory
  • 1200 watt Corsair AX1200i Power Supply
  • Dual 120GB Corsair Force GT SSDs in RAID 0
  • 1TB Seagate 7200 RPM SATA 6G HDD
  • Custom ORIGIN Cryogenic liquid cooling setup on CPU

Our estimated cost is...$5,750. 

Continue reading our review of the ORIGIN Genesis overclocked Quad SLI gaming system!!

How to Build a PC with Windows 8 - PC Perspective Live!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live

Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page.  Won't you come and join us?

UPDATE: Did you miss the event?  Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!

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Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...

If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?

Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?

Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.

***

Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.

This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.

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To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.

I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.

Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.

That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.

Continue reading why we think the Windows you Love is gone...

ASUS TAICHI - Perfect Blend of Ultrabook, Tablet, Uppercase

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | October 23, 2012 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: taichi, asus

ASUS has just officially announced their new TAICHI mobile computer which they are branding as both an Ultrabook and a Tablet. What differentiates this device is that it contains two 1080p touchscreens on either side of the laptop lid. When the lid is closed it is a tablet, when the lid is open it is a standard Ultrabook with a monitor facing away from the user.

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The real difficulty is explaining use cases for potential buyers. Having done some high school teaching in the past the first usage which comes to mind is creating surveys and quizzes without a projector. Since a simple bar chart tends to have larger details it should be quite visible even on an 11.6” display. If you are teacher who tends to do a lot of “clicker” demonstrations it might be particularly useful as you would be able to modify the question on your screen and show the answer on the reverse.

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In terms of a regular laptop it has quite a few nice features: Core i5 or i7 processor, an actual Intel HD 4000 GPU, USB3.0 for practically full-speed external drives, and a 128 or 256GB SSD. It is expected to have 5 hours of battery life when browsing the internet wirelessly. I am satisfied with 4GB of RAM but frankly these days it would be good to get a little more.

Prices start at $1,299 and go up to $1,599 for the i7 with a 256GB SSD. Availability starts November.

Press blast after the break!

Source: ASUS

Samsung Launching ATIV 500T and 700T Windows 8 Convertible Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 19, 2012 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, saumsung, Ivy Bridge, Intel, clover trail, atom, ativ 700t, ativ 500t

Samsung is the latest company to announce its fleet of dock-able tablet computers running the full version of Windows 8. Launched under the ATIV Smart PC brand, the company is offering up two models depending on the amount of computing horsepower you need to get work done. Specifically, Samsung is launching the Series 5 ATIV Smart PC 500T and the Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T. Both models will be available for purchase on October 26th for $749.99 and $1,199.99 respectively.

Samsung Series 5 Slate: ATIV Smart PC 500T

The Samsung Series 5, also known as the ATIV Smart PC 500T is a 11.6” tablet powered by Intel’s recently released Clover Trail-based Atom processor platform. It measures 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.38” and weighs 1.65 pounds.The tablet features a LED-backlit touchscreen display with a resolution of 1366x768. A 2.0 megapixel camera and dual 0.8W speakers are also included. The tablet itself can further be paired with a keyboard dock that has a full qwerty keyboard and touchpad.

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Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 processor (running at 1.5 GHz and featuring dual cores with 256 KB each), 2GB of DDR2L memory, and a 64 GB solid state drive. Radios and networking gear includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. [The specifications sheet further claims Gigabit LAN support but there does not appear to be any Ethernet jacks on the tablet so I’m assuming it’s solely marketing to say that it supports connecting to a Gigabit LAN (over Wi-Fi)...] The 500T is powered by a two cell, 30 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery.

The external IO ports include a micro HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, a combination headphone/mic jack, a microSD card slot, and a docking connector.

The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T will come pre-loaded with the 32-bit version of Windows 8. The tablet itself is $649.99 and with the keyboard dock, it will be $749.99.

Samsung Series 7: ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T

If you need more computing power, Samsung is offering up its newest Series 7 slate, the ATIV 700T. This tablet is slightly thicker than the 500T at 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.5”. It is also a bit heavier at 1.89 pounds versus 1.65 pounds with the 500T. That tradeoff in size nets you significantly better hardware, however. It features a LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1920x1080. It further includes the same 1.6W (2 x 0.8W) stereo speakers, but adds a second 8MP rear camera in addition to the 2MP front facing webcam.

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Internally, the 700T is packing an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U processor. This chip is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads along with 3 MB of L3 cache. The 700T features 4 GB of DDR3 at 1600MHz and a 128GB solid state drive. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi also comes standard. The 700T also has a larger 4 cell Li-Po battery (rated at 49 Wh) to power the faster Intel processor.

External IO includes one micro HDMI, one USB 3.0, a combination headphone/mic jack, docking connector, and a micro SD card slot.

The Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T comes bundled with a dock as standard and it has a starting price of $1,199.99. It will come pre-loaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Read more about Windows 8 convertible tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: Samsung
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: AVADirect

A look outside and in

We handle a fair amount of system reviews here at PC Perspective and use them mainly as a way to feature unique and interesting designs and configurations.  We know how the hardware will perform for the most part; doing extensive CPU and GPU testing on nearly a daily basis.  Sometimes we'll get systems in that are extremely budget friendly, other times vendors pass us machines that have MSRPs similar to a Kia automobile.  Then there are times, like today, we get a unique design that is a great mix of both.

AVADirect has had a Mini Gaming PC design for a while now but recently has gone through a refresh that adds in support for the latest Ivy Bridge processors, NVIDIA Kepler GPUs all using a new case from BitFenix that combines it in a smaller, mini-ITX form factor.

The quick specifications look like this:

  • BitFenix Prodigy chassis
  • Intel Core i7-3770K CPU, Overclocked at 4.4 GHz
  • ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Z77 Motherboard
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 680 2GB GPU
  • OCZ 240GB Vertex 3 SSD
  • Seagate 2TB SATA 6G HDD
  • 8GB Crucual DDR3-1866 Memory
  • Cooler Master 850 watt Silent Pro PSU

You'll also see a large, efficient Prolimatech cooler inside along with a Blu-ray burner and Windows 7 for a surprisingly reasonable $2100 price tag.

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The BitFenix Prodigy chassis is a unique design that starts with sets of FiberFlex legs and handles surrounding the mini-ITX case.  The minor flexibility of the legs absorbs sound and impact on the table while the handles work great for picking up the system for LAN events and the like.  While at first I was worried about using them to support the weight of the rig, I had no problems and was assured by both BitFenix and by AVADirect it would withstand the torture.

Check out our video review before continuing on to the full article with benchmarks and pricing!

Continue reading our review of the AVADirect Mini Gaming PC!!

Is an Atom D520 'good enough' for Linux

Subject: Systems | October 15, 2012 - 08:16 PM |
Tagged: ALUSA Atom Desktop, linux

While the Atom processor does not have a good reputation here at PC Perspective as far as its ability to provide enough power for most peoples usage, Phoronix might have a different take on a tiny Atom powered computer.  After all, Linux has a reputation of needing less system resources than a Windows box, so perhaps the benefits of a tiny 190 x 135 x 25 mm system outweigh any possible performance issues on a customized Ubuntu installation, called ALUSA 12.04 OS.  You may not be surprised to find out that while the system did boot properly out of the box and all the hardware was properly supported, the lack of power especially the maximum resolution limit of 1366x768 was enough to turn Phoronix off of this device.  There is a newer model they hope to test in the future.

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"For the past several weeks I have been testing out the ALUSA Atom Desktop with Linux. As implied by the name it's an Intel Atom powered desktop/nettop computer, but this Atom system comes out of Portugal from a small Linux-focused start-up company."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: Phoronix

Logitech Breaks in to Mechanical Keyboard with the G710+

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | October 9, 2012 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech

Earlier in the year I was in a discussion with a friend of mine about mechanical keyboards. His friend was certain that he owned a mechanical gaming keyboard and so I asked him which one. I stopped him the second he said, “Logitech”. They make several high quality keyboards but not one of them mechanical.

That will soon change when they introduce their mechanical G710+ gaming keyboard to the market.

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The Scarecrow went to the Wizard of Oz to ask for a brain.

Logitech asked to remove their membrane-domes. Heels weren't the only things which clicked.

The G710+ keyboard contains Cherry MX Brown switches along with a full set of media keys, a handful of macro keys, and a number pad. While the brown switches tend to be fairly quiet on their own Logitech has also included damping O-rings under each keycap to make it even more silent than most large mechanical keyboard competitors.

The G710+ is also a white LED backlit keyboard with the option to customize brightness such that your movement keys are lit differently than the rest. This is designed to be a visual cue to lead your fingers back to the movement keys in a dark room.

Macro functionality on the G-keys can be programmed using Logitech drivers in the Lua scripting language. This driver is available for Windows Vista through Windows 8 - sorry to the Windows XP holdouts of the world.

The G710+ is expected to retail for $149.99 in the U.S. (and Canada I believe) this month with Europe expected to ship in December.

Check in after the break for the press release.

Source: Logitech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Thoughts about Interface Design in General

I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.

Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.

Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.

The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.

Sometimes it is better to be worse...

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The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.

Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.

The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.

The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.

What has been designed to threaten QWERTY? Read on to find out.