Subject: Systems | August 25, 2015 - 06:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vaio, z canvas
Sony's PC manufacturing division, VAIO, was spun out and sold off to Japan Industrial Partners last year. In the process, it shrunk down to about 250 employees and exited every market besides Japan. While it wasn't profitable last year, which makes sense for a restructure of this size, it expects to be floating on its own for this one.
This sounds like a SquareEnix ad...
This Autumn, which Paul Thurrott narrows down to October, VAIO will begin selling PCs through Microsoft's retail stores and website. The VAIO Z Canvas will be the first model to hit North America, which will have a PCIe 3.0-based SSD. The compute specs are less extraordinary as it is built around Intel Haswell-H and Iris Pro graphics. This is likely because the machine was previously released a few months ago in Japan, but it targets creative professionals so it should be sufficient in those areas. The high speed, PCIe SSD might even mask its weak points in typical usage.
We then get to the price. The VAIO Z Canvas will launch above $2000, which is much more expensive than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It comes with a stylus, keyboard screen protector, and no bloatware under the “Microsoft Signature PC” branding. We will probably need to wait and see if any pricing or last minute specification adjustments occur before launch, but this seems like it will have some issues unless the SSD is much larger than 256 GB as rumored.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | August 17, 2015 - 11:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: NPD, gpu, discrete gpu, graphics, marketshare, PC industry
News from NPD Research today shows a sharp decline in discrete graphics shipments from all major vendors. Not great news for the PC industry, but not all that surprising, either.
These numbers don’t indicate a lack of discrete GPU interest in the PC enthusiast community of course, but certainly show how the mainstream market has changed. OEM laptop and (more recently) desktop makers predominantly use processor graphics from Intel and AMD APUs, though the decrease of over 7% for Intel GPUs suggests a decline in PC shipments overall.
Here are the highlights, quoted directly from NPD Research:
- AMD's overall unit shipments decreased -25.82% quarter-to-quarter, Intel's total shipments decreased -7.39% from last quarter, and Nvidia's decreased -16.19%.
- The attach rate of GPUs (includes integrated and discrete GPUs) to PCs for the quarter was 137% which was down -10.82% from last quarter, and 26.43% of PCs had discrete GPUs, which is down -4.15%.
- The overall PC market decreased -4.05% quarter-to-quarter, and decreased -10.40% year-to-year.
- Desktop graphics add-in boards (AIBs) that use discrete GPUs decreased -16.81% from last quarter.
An overall decrease of 10.4 % year-to-year indicates what I'll call the continuing evolution of the PC (rather than a decline, per se), and shows how many have come to depend on smartphones for the basic computing tasks (email, web browsing) that once required a PC. Tablets didn’t replace the PC in the way that was predicted only 5 years ago, and it’s almost become essential to pair a PC with a smartphone for a complete personal computing experience (sorry, tablets – we just don’t NEED you as much).
I would guess anyone reading this on a PC enthusiast site is not only using a PC, but probably one with discrete graphics, too. Or maybe you exclusively view our site on a tablet or smartphone? I for one won’t stop buying PC components until they just aren’t available anymore, and that dark day is probably still many years off.
Subject: Systems | August 10, 2015 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Celeron 3205U, DS57U, shuttle, SFF
Madshrimps have just wrapped up testing the Intel Celeron 3205U powered Shuttle DS57U, a SFF system which can be mounted to the back of a monitor with VESA or placed beside your monitor in the included stand. The presence of two serial ports, WOL and resume after power outage mean this little system could also be used in industrial or POS duties. It is worth noting that this system only supports 1.35V SODIMMs, make sure to choose the proper RAM to avoid disappointment. Check out the full review here; if you like the case but not the CPU there are i3, i5 and even an i7 model for you to consider.
"Shuttle has built the DS57U inside a proven chassis, which takes quite little space and succeeds to cool the internal components without the need of extra fans; one of the case laterals is acting like a huge heatsink and in this case it only remains warm even when the system is stressed to the max."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Wired2Fire Diablo Reactor Gaming PC @ Kitguru
- ZOTAC ZBOX Nano CI540 Plus Review @ Bjorn3d
- OCUK Evolution Wrath System @ Kitguru
- KitGuru Complete Guide to PC Workstations - Part 3
Subject: Systems | July 24, 2015 - 03:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: acer, cloudbook, Chromebook
If you think about price when you think about Chromebooks, then Microsoft is hoping to have options in Windows 10 for you. Laptops that boot into a web browser still have interesting security and ease-of-use implications, which this will not address. From the previously mentioned cost standpoint though, full-featured Windows laptops can get down to those levels, especially when Microsoft helps out on the OS license fees.
This is the more-expensive Chromebook running Google Chrome OS.
Acer will launch their Cloudbook line in August, with 11-inch and 14-inch versions, starting at $169. While you can get Chromebooks for $149, Acer's Chromebook 11 is currently selling for $179.99, which puts the Windows 10 model $10 cheaper than it. On the other hand, we don't know anything about the system specifications. It is possible that the Cloudbook could have less than an Intel Celeron with HD Graphics and 2GB of RAM -- but we hope not.
The Acer Cloudbook will not make Microsoft's July 29th launch date of Windows. Instead, as previously stated, look for it some time in August. Prices start at $169 USD.
Subject: Systems | July 21, 2015 - 03:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: recommedations, system build
While the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard is a great resource for those looking to build a new system sometimes a second opinion is warranted, especially if you are looking for a workhorse instead of a gaming rig. The Tech Report just published their current recommendations for system builds, updating the Budget, Sweet Spot and High End suggestions as well as offering sample builds at the end. Feel free to mix and match recommendations from TR and our own but make sure to do a bit of homework if you do to make sure your components are compatible.
"In this edition of our System Guide, we update our recommendations to account for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti and AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X graphics cards. The Breadbox Mini-ITX build makes a return for the college-bound."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Turning Up The Dials On Intel’s NUC – Overclock And Overpower @ Techgage
- ASRock Beebox @ Hardware Secrets
- Small & Mighty - Intel NUC5i5RYK Mini PC Review @ Techgage
- Chillblast Fusion Scythe 2 mini-ITX @ Kitguru
Introduction and Test Hardware
The PC gaming world has become divided by two distinct types of games: those that were designed and programmed specifically for the PC, and console ports. Unfortunately for PC gamers it seems that far too many titles are simply ported over (or at least optimized for consoles first) these days, and while PC users can usually enjoy higher detail levels and unlocked frame rates there is now the issue of processor core-count to consider. This may seem artificial, but in recent months quite a few games have been released that require at least a quad-core CPU to even run (without modifying the game).
One possible explanation for this is current console hardware: PS4 and Xbox One systems are based on multi-core AMD APUs (the 8-core AMD "Jaguar"). While a quad-core (or higher) processor might not be techincally required to run current games on PCs, the fact that these exist on consoles might help to explain quad-core CPU as a minimum spec. This trend could simply be the result of current x86 console hardware, as developement of console versions of games is often prioritized (and porting has become common for development of PC versions of games). So it is that popular dual-core processors like the $69 Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition (G3258) are suddenly less viable for a future-proofed gaming build. While hacking these games might make dual-core CPUs work, and might be the only way to get such a game to even load as the CPU is checked at launch, this is obviously far from ideal.
Is this much CPU really necessary?
Rather than rail against this quad-core trend and question its necessity, I decided instead to see just how much of a difference the processor alone might make with some game benchmarks. This quickly escalated into more and more system configurations as I accumulated parts, eventually arriving at 36 different configurations at various price points. Yeah, I said 36. (Remember that Budget Gaming Shootout article from last year? It's bigger than that!) Some of the charts that follow are really long (you've been warned), and there’s a lot of information to parse here. I wanted this to be as fair as possible, so there is a theme to the component selection. I started with three processors each (low, mid, and high price) from AMD and Intel, and then three graphics cards (again, low, mid, and high price) from AMD and NVIDIA.
Here’s the component rundown with current pricing*:
- AMD Athlon X4 860K - $74.99
- AMD FX 8350 - $165.93
- AMD FX 9590 (with AIO cooler) - $259.99
- Intel Core i3-4130 - $118
- Intel Core i5-4440 - $184.29
- Intel Core i7-4790K - $338.99
Graphics cards tested:
- AMD Radeon R7 260X (ASUS 2GB OC) - $137.24
- AMD Radeon R9 280 (Sapphire Dual-X) - $169.99
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (MSI Lightning) - $399
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (OEM) - $149.99
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 (OEM) - $235
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (ASUS STRIX) - $519
*These prices were current as of 6/29/15, and of course fluctuate.
Subject: Systems | June 30, 2015 - 07:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Infinity Xtreme Cube, Cyberpower
The impressively name Infinity Xtreme Cube from CyberPower is a rather impressive machine and not just because of their use of a 400GB Intel 750 M.2 PCIe SSD for storage. The system is built on a Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 with an i7-5820K processor, 16GB of HyperX DDR4-2400 in quad channel and a GTX 970 for video, not to mention the pair of 1TB HDDs in RAID0 for long term storage. The components are housed in a Corsair Air 240 case 470x343x381mm (18.5x13.5x15") in size, not the easiest case to install your components in which makes it nice that someone does it for you. You pay for the configuration and three year warranty but for those who want a working system to arrive at their door this review at Kitguru is worth looking at. Hopefully based on the review CyberPower will make a slight change to the UEFI settings in future, changing the PCIe slot Configuration from AUTO to GEN3.
"Today we look at a powerful, yet diminutive new system from UK system builder CyberPower called the Infinity Xtreme Cube. This system is built around the Gigabyte X99M-Gaming 5 motherboard – installed inside the tiny Corsair Air 240 chassis."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Overclockers UK Infin8 Nebula Custom Watercooled Gaming PC @ Kitguru
- Intel's NUC5i7RYH mini-PC with Iris graphics @ The Tech Report
- CompuLab's Fitlet Is A Very Tiny, Fanless, Linux PC With AMD A10 Micro @ Phoronix
- Zotac CI321Nano Barebones System @ eTeknix
- Zotac ZBOX CI321 Fanless Nano PC @ SPCR
Introduction and First Impressions
The Zotac ZBOX CI321 nano is a mini PC kit in the vein of the Intel NUC, and this version features a completely fanless design with built-in wireless for silent integration into just about any location. So is it fast enough to be an HTPC or desktop productivity machine? We will find out here.
I have reviewed a couple of mini-PCs in the past few months, most recently the ECS LIVA X back in January. Though the LIVA X was not really fast enough to be used as a primary device it was small and inexpensive enough to be an viable product depending on a user’s needs. One attractive aspect of the LIVA designs, and any of the low-power computers introduced recently, is the passive nature of such systems. This has unfortunately resulted in the integration of some pretty low-performance CPUs to stay within thermal (and cost) limits, but this is beginning to change. The ZBOX nano we’re looking at today carries on the recent trend of incorporating slightly higher performance parts as its Intel Celeron processor (the 2961Y) is based on Haswell, and not the Atom cores at the heart of so many of these small systems.
Another parallel to the Intel NUC is the requirement to bring your own memory and storage, and the ZBOX CI321 nano accepts a pair of DDR3 SoDIMMs and 2.5” storage drives. The Intel Celeron 2961Y processor supports up to 1600 MHz dual-channel DDR3L which allows for much higher memory bandwidth than many other mini-PCs, and the storage controller supports SATA 6.0 Gbps which allows for higher performance than the eMMC storage found in a lot of mini-PCs, depending on the drive you choose to install. Of course your mileage will vary depending on the components selected to complete the build, but it shouldn’t be difficult to build a reasonably fast system.
Subject: Systems | June 23, 2015 - 03:48 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z3735F, Lenovo, Intel, ideacentre stick, compute stick, Bay Trail
Lenovo has announced their own version of an Intel Compute Stick, the ThinkCentre Stick, and this tiny Intel Bay Trail computer will be slightly cheaper than Intel's reference platform with an MSRP of $129.
Full specs won't surprise anyone who's read our review of the Intel Compute Stick:
- Processor: Intel Bay Trail Z3735F (quad-core, up to 1.83 GHz)
- Memory: Up to 2 GB
- Storage: Up to 32 GB
- Wireless: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
- Ports: 1 x HDMI, 1 x Micro
- Operating System: Windows 8.1 with Bing or Windows 10
- Dimensions (W x D x H) 100 x 38 x 15 mm (3.94" x 1.50" x 0.59")
We aren't breaking any new ground here, but seeing more vendors offering products based on Intel's micro-PC platform will only help drive down the price. Lenovo explains the product this way:
"For the wallet friendly starting price of US $129, this plug and play technology can transform almost any HDMI compatible TV or monitor into a fully functioning Windows-based PC. The ideacentreTM Stick 300 does not look like a traditional computer, but it performs like one once a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard and mouse are added."
The ThinkCentre Stick will be available in July for $129 US.
Subject: Systems | June 21, 2015 - 12:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: NUC5CPYH, nuc, N3050, Intel, Braswell
A reader sent in a link to a new listing on Amazon.com this morning that points to an as-yet-unreleased Intel NUC product, the Intel NUC5CPYH. This model will include a Celeron N3050 processor, which as listed by Intel's Ark site, is a dual-core, non-HyperThreaded processor with a base clock rate of 1.6 GHz and a maximum Burst frequency of 2.16 GHz. It has a rated TDP of 6 watts with a Scenario Design Power rating (typical usage) of 4 watts.
Image from Fanlesstech.com
The Intel Braswell platform (also known as Cherry Trail) is a refresh of the Atom lineup and a follow up to the Bay Trail set of parts using Airmont CPU cores (a minor upgrade over the Silvermont architecture). Even though Intel already has ~4-6 watt TDP part in the form of the Core M series using the Broadwell architecture, the cost difference is the big change here. The tray price for the Celeron N3050 is $107 while the Core M 5Y10 sells for $281.
Implications for performance should be substantial and you won't find the Braswell platform lighting up benchmark scores or besting the Core M series. But it might provide enough performance for small form factor PC users, point of sale systems and more. All of this results in a bare bones price point of just $129 for the Intel NUC5CPYH.
I'm sure we'll get details in the coming days, but this model supports 4K display output via HDMI (though I'm not sure if its 60 Hz or 30 Hz refresh rate capable) and is the first NUC to add an SD card reader; something that just makes sense for this form factor and class of system.