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Is 240 Hertz SWIFT enough for you? The new ASUS ROG gaming monitor

Subject: Displays | March 20, 2017 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged: tn monitor, SWIFT PG258Q, gsync, ASUS ROG, 1080p

As we wait for connectivity and GPU horsepower to catch up to the new technology available in monitors, those who are upgrading face a choice.  If you want incredibly high refresh rates then you have to sacrifice resolution, whereas if 4K is your need then you will have to be satisfied with lower refresh rate ranges.  The ASUS ROG SWIFT PG258Q is one of the former, offering 1080p resolution but with G-SYNC capable of a refresh rate reaching 240Hz.  That extremely high refresh rate also requires the use of a TN panel, so if you prefer 4k IPS then this display is not the one you are looking for. 

Kitguru provides a full review of the monitor here, including a look at the new style of asymmetrical ROG stand which can tilt farther than you might think at first glance.

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"Gaming monitors are clearly going through a bit of a growth spurt, and ASUS is a company particularly focusing on this area. The ROG SWIFT PG258Q is a 24.5in screen with a whopping 240Hz top refresh and NVIDIA G-Sync, plus a host of other features specifically tailored for serious gamers."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

Source: Kitguru

Hack a Day Prize kicks off today for those with creative spirits and skills

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: hackaday prize, contest

The 2017 Hack A Day Prize kicks off today and for anyone thinking of joining, or who has a project they have started or are thinking of starting then you should sign up as there is a huge list of prizes.  In addition to the grand prizes are prizes awarded in five different categories, the first of which is for project design, you don't need a physical product to win this category, a best design plan with details on how the project could help change the world from the better will walk away with the first prize.  The design purpose also matters, your plan might not compete in the IoT category but could soar in the wheels, wings, and walkers or assistive technology portions of the contest.  Check out the rules and regulations and pop a bookmark into your browser to see what the winners and runners up have created!

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"We have over $250,000 in cash going out to hundreds of entries this year. The Grand Prize of $50,000 is joined once again this year by the Best Product Prize of $30,000. Four other entries will place second through fifth and receive $20k, $15k, $10k, and $5k respectively."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Intel Officially Kicks Off Optane Launch with SSD DC P4800X

Subject: Storage | March 19, 2017 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, SSD DC P4800X, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, client, 750GB, 3D XPoint, 375GB, 1.5TB

Intel brought us out to their Folsom campus last week for some in-depth product briefings. Much of our briefing is still under embargo, but the portion that officially lifts this morning is the SSD DC P4800X:

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MSRP for the 375GB model is estimated at $1520 ($4/GB), which is rather spendy, but given that the product has shown it can effectively displace RAM in servers, we should be comparing the cost/GB with DRAM and not NAND. It should also be noted this is also nearly half the cost/GB of the X25-M at its launch. Capacities will go all the way up to 1.5TB, and U.2 form factor versions are also on the way.

For those wanting a bit more technical info, the P4800X uses a 7-channel controller, with the 375GB model having 4 dies per channel (28 total). Overprovisioning does not do for Optane what it did for NAND flash, as XPoint can be rewritten at the byte level and does not need to be programmed in (KB) pages and erased in larger (MB) blocks. The only extra space on Optane SSDs is for ECC, firmware, and a small spare area to map out any failed cells.

Those with a keen eye (and calculator) might have noted that the early TBW values only put the P4800X at 30 DWPD for a 3-year period. At the event, Intel confirmed that they anticipate the P4800X to qualify at that same 30 DWPD for a 5-year period by the time volume shipment occurs.

Read on for more about the SSD DC P4800X (and other upcoming products!)

Mass Production for the Wooting One Analog Keyboard

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 18, 2017 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: keyboard, gaming keyboard

About nine months ago, we reported on the Wooting One Analog Keyboard. At the time, they were expecting to ship the keyboard in November, but that has apparently slipped. Of course, creating products is difficult, and even the big companies have production issues (the difference with crowd-funding is that these issues are publicly obvious). They are expecting to start shipping in April.

The hook with this keyboard is that doesn’t just know whether a key is up or down, but how far it is. This can be mapped into the driver as an XInput device, emulating an axis rather than a button. This is actually where today’s issue arises: a batch of keyboards fail to register the full range of motion, and, thus, QA. They released a video, embed above, to explain the issue, and complain about small pizzas?

LG 32UD99: FreeSync, 4K, and HDR (95% DCI-P3) for $999

Subject: Displays | March 18, 2017 - 12:15 AM |
Tagged: LG, hdr10, hdr

There’s a lot of interesting elements to this monitor. Apart from the refresh rate, which I believe is 60 Hz, it checks off basically every nice-to-have that I can think of... at least for AMD users. It is borderless on all four sides. It has 95% coverage of DCI-P3, which might even be factory-calibrated (if I understand the “Color Calibrated” specification correctly). It also has FreeSync to make gaming at 4K slightly more smooth if you’re just a bit below 60 FPS.

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And, according to B&H Photo (via The Verge), it will be coming on the 28th for $999.

It even includes a $100 B&H Gift Card at that price, too!

If you are into printed content production, then you might want to verify its Adobe RGB compatibility before making your purchase. DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB are both fairly large color spaces, but they deviate from each other. (Apparently, DCI-P3 covers more of the red end, while Adobe RGB covers more of the green.) Adobe RGB, if I understand correctly, extended sRGB into a space that printers could be calibrated into, while DCI-P3 is more for HDR video.

Personally, I find 60 Hz mouse pointers to be very noticeable and distracting. As such, the low refresh rate might be a deal-breaker for someone like me, but pretty much everything else looks like a win -- including the ever-important price and availability.

Source: LG

Eurocom's Sky X9E3 Is a Fully Upgradable Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom

Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.

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"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."

One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.

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What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:

  • Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
  • Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
  • Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
  • VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
  • Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
  • Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
  • Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
  • Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
  • Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
  • Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
  • Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
  • Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch

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Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.

Source: Eurocom

EVGA Announces SC17 1070 4K G-SYNC Laptop

Subject: Systems | March 17, 2017 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: evga, g-sync, gtx 1070, laptop

The updated EVGA SC17 laptop, announced on Thursday, is headlined by a 17.3-inch, 4K, IPS panel with NVIDIA G-SYNC. The panel will have a 60 Hz refresh rate, so, while games will be able to cleanly dip below the 60 FPS threshold via G-SYNC, you will not have the smooth mouse movement in productivity applications like you would on a 100+ FPS monitor. Speaking of productivity, the color gamut (coverage of sRGB and Adobe RGB) is also unlisted.

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But, for our many readers that are interested in performance, EVGA has made this beefy.

Again, this is a 17.3-inch laptop, so don’t expect it to be ultra-portable by today’s standards. Weighing in at about 9 lbs, this desktop replacement is based around an unlocked Intel Core i7-6820HK processor with an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card. While the CPU is a little over a year old, based on Skylake, it has four cores (eight threads) that can boost up to 3.6 GHz. Being that I’m running a Core i7-4790k on my production machine, this level of performance is pretty good. It even contains 32 GB of RAM.

If you're a multi-monitor type of person, it also has three display outputs: 1x HDMI 2.0b and 2x Mini DisplayPort (unclear which version level).

The EVGA SC17 1070 with NVIDIA G-SYNC is available now for $2799.99, although there’s currently a $250-off instant rebate (~$2550 USD).

Source: EVGA

A reasonable response about Ryzen, please do not check your sanity at the door

Subject: Processors | March 17, 2017 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, ryzen, sanity check

Ars Technica asks the question that many reasonable people are also pondering, "Intel still beats Ryzen at games, but how much does it matter?".  We here at PCPer have seen the same sorts of responses which Ars has, there is a group of people who had the expectation that Ryzen would miraculously beat any and all Intel chips at every possible task.  More experienced heads were hoping for about what we received, a chip which can challenge Broadwell, offering performance which improved greatly on their previous architecture.  The launch has revealed some growing pains with AMD's new baby but not anything which makes Ryzen bad. 

Indeed, with more DX12 or Vulkan games arriving we should see AMD's performance improve, especially if programmers start to take more effective advantage of high core counts.  Head over to read the article, unless you feel that is not a requirement to comment on this topic.

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"In spite of this, reading the various reviews around the Web—and comment threads, tweets, and reddit posts—one gets the feeling that many were hoping or expecting Ryzen to somehow beat Intel across the board, and there's a prevailing narrative that Ryzen is in some sense a bad gaming chip. But this argument is often paired with the claim that some kind of non-specific "optimization" is going to salvage the processor's performance, that AMD fans just need to keep the faith for a few months, and that soon Ryzen's full power will be revealed."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Ars Technica

Microsoft is making friends again, no new Win 7/8 updates for new chips

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2017 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, kaby lake, microsoft, Windows 7, windows 8

KB4012982 describes the error you will see if you attempt to update Windows 7 or 8.x on 7th generation Intel processors, AMD Bristol Ridge and newer or Qualcomm "8996" and more recent models.  Microsoft has implemented the hardware based obsolescence which they had discussed several months ago when they stated that new chips would need Windows 10 to run.  This move will of course be heralded as brilliant and no one could possibly find this upsetting in the least, especially not in this Reddit thread.  It is a good thing Microsoft does not have a near monopoly in the market and that anyone who does not support this decision can choose from a wide variety of easily implemented alternatives.

Expect there to be workarounds, the vast majority of Enterprise customers have no interest in moving their infrastructure to Windows 10, nor the budget available to do so if they wanted.

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"Microsoft has started the process of built-in obsolescence to current hardware by blocking updates of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Intel 7th Generation (Kaby Lake), AMD Ryzen and Qualcomm Snapdragon 82x processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Reddit

Project X42; let's make the Kraken glow in the dark!

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 16, 2017 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: AIO, nzxt, Kraken X42, RGB

It will ruin its stealth abilities, but then again a Kraken doesn't worry about such things.  [H]ard|OCP had a chance to test the new Kraken X42 from NZXT, with a pump they advertise as more efficient and with quieter operation than the previous model, along with a new 140mm fan.  The performance of the X42 on high speed offers almost exactly the same performance as the X60 on low, which is a shame considering the ~$130 price tag.  It seems that NZXT put a lot more effort into the RGB effects than the performance of the cooler.  If that does happen to be your thing, you should check out the review here.

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"The new NZXT Kraken X42 is its new "entry level" All-In-One CPU liquid cooler. The Kraken series is not new to us, but NZXT makes a lot of claims about this cooler being better in many ways, and of course has all kinds of cool RGB LED lights built into it. But all of this comes a price. Does it keep your CPU cooler while overclocking?"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The power of CUE: CORSAIR's New Tenkeyless K63 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: K63, corsair, mechanical keyboard, input, CUE, cherry mx red

Corsair have released a new mechanical keyboard for those aching for something new to type on.  The K63 has an MSRP of $80 and comes with Cherry MX Red switches to go with the red back lighting.  They chose to leave the numpad off of this model but did include media buttons at the top as well as a Windows key lock to prevent you from accidentally hiding the game you were playing.  Read the full PR below the post.

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FREMONT, CA –March 16th - CORSAIR, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC components and high-performance gaming hardware today announced the new K63 mechanical gaming keyboard. Continuing the CORSAIR legacy of top-quality, high-performance gaming keyboards, the K63 combines tenkeyless design, precision CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches, a full complement of media keys and per-key red LED illumination. What’s more, K63 offers all this at a price that puts mechanical performance within reach of gamers wanting to step up their game to the next level. The result is a perfect combination of mechanical precision, advanced gaming features and a space-saving design that makes it ideal for compact desktops or gamers on-the-go.

Packing the best of CORSAIR keyboards into a new compact size, the K63 boasts a host of features ready to match the most demanding games. Beneath its sleek exterior and gold-contact CHERRY MX Red key switches, per-key red LED backlighting vibrantly illuminates each key. With the power of CORSAIR Utility Engine (CUE) software, every key’s lighting can be controlled individually, allowing for virtually unlimited lighting customization and control. CUE software also allows for near endless programmability, with every key individually reprogrammable with alternative commands, custom macros or dynamic lighting effects.

Dedicated volume and multimedia controls located at the top of the keyboard offer easy access to audio adjustments in-game, while dedicated Windows Key Lock and brightness adjustment buttons allow gamers to keep distractions to a minimum at crucial moments. Precision and accuracy are nothing without control, and the K63 delivers when it matters most. 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover ensures that every press of the keyboard is registered, no matter how many keys are pressed simultaneously, or how fast you press them.

CORSAIR K63 Specifications

  • 100% CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches: Gold-contact CHERRY MX mechanical gaming keyswitches deliver the ultimate performance and competitive advantage.
  • Per-key red LED backlighting and large font keycaps: Brilliant red LED backlighting enhances the experience with dynamic and virtually unlimited lighting adjustability.
  • Compact, tenkeyless design: Great for travel, and you’ll have more room for your mouse.
  • Dedicated volume and multimedia controls: Control to adjust media on-the-fly, without interrupting your game.
  • 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover: No matter how fast your in-game actions are, your keystrokes always register the way you intended.
  • The power of CUE: Fully programmable with CUE to assign macros to any key and create dynamic lighting effects.
  • Windows Key Lock mode: Stay focused and prevent accidental Windows and Context Menu key presses.

Availability, Warranty and Pricing
The CORSAIR K63 is available immediately from the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers, and distributors and is backed by a two-year warranty and the CORSAIR worldwide customer support network.

Source: Corsair

Industrial strength hacking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: iot, scary, scada, security, ics

The Register posted a cheerful article today, discussing the security of the other Internet of Things, which they have dubbed the Internet of Big Things.  Botnets formed out of compromised toasters, refrigerators and webcams is one thing; taking over power stations and industrial equipment is quite another.  Citizens of the Ukraine know the dangers all too well, having had their power grid taken offline once in 2015 and again more recently by nefarious means.  Take a read through to learn about how vulnerabilities in systems such as the Industrial Control System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition could be used to cause significant harm, as well as a search engine reassuringly named Shodan. 

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"The Internet of Big Things exists because it makes perfect sense to have accessibility to equipment from afar. Industrial systems are complex, specialist items and for many such systems it’s common for there to be only a handful of qualified maintenance staff in the country, continent or world."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #441 - GTX 1080 Ti, FCAT VR, Ryzen, Kaby Lake De-lidding

Subject: Editorial | March 16, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: podcast, ryzen 5, ryzen, nvidia, mobileye, jetson, gtx 1080 ti, fcat vr, delidding

PC Perspective Podcast #441 - 03/16/17

Join us for NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti, AMD Ryzen Scheduler Discussion, AMD Ryzen 5 Announcement, Intel Kaby Lake de-lidding, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Morry Teitelman, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:24:48

 

Source:

Sprint, Qualcomm, and Motorola Team up to demonstrate Gigabit Class LTE Network in New Orleans

Subject: Mobile | March 16, 2017 - 11:15 AM |
Tagged: x16, Sprint, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, new orleans, motorola, LTE Plus, LTE Advanced, LTE, gigabit-class

Demoing improvements to mobile phone networks is difficult. Where an individual vendor such as Intel or AMD can show off an improved CPU architecture mostly by themselves, it takes a lot of cooperation between companies to show off advanced mobile data initiatives.

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This is just what Sprint, Qualcomm, and Motorola teamed up to do last week at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The first part of the story revolves around Sprint’s unique placement in the US mobile network market.  While network operators such as Verizon, ATT, and T-Mobile in the US currently operate their LTE networks on low and mid-band LTE frequencies, the vast majority of Sprint's allocated frequency into the high-band range of 2.5GHz. The reason that Sprint has this spectrum is from their short-lived rollout of WiMax technology with Clear.

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High-band frequencies can provide several advantages when deploying technologies enabling Gigabit-class LTE and on the road to 5G.

First, the antenna size needed in the 2.5GHz range is substantially smaller than the antenna size for a more common LTE frequency like 1900MHz. This means that when looking to deploy cellular sites utilizing technologies like 4X4 MIMO antenna arrays, Sprint can make smaller cell sites and be more nimble by placing them in areas where they are seeing substantial network load.

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Continue reading about the push to Gigabit LTE from Qualcomm, Sprint and Motorola!

BitFenix Releases the Portal: A Sleek Mini-ITX Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 16, 2017 - 09:34 AM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFX, SFF, Portal, mini-itx, enclosure, case, bitfenix, aluminum

BitFenix has announced the Portal, which is one of the more interesting-looking chassis designs to hit the market in recent memory. Available in both black and white, and with or without a top-mounted window to show off your GPU (thanks to the inverted motherboard layout), the Portal is a sleek mini-ITX enclosure with a smooth, rounded aluminum exterior that is certainly a departure from typical case designs.

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One of the design concepts made possible by SFX power supplies is a slimming down of the standard tower concept, which leaving component layout identical. In the case of this mini-ITX mini tower case from BitFenix, you might at first think you are looking at a larger case, but that PSU opening is in fact SFX, and the case is just wide enough to accommodate a standard PCIe graphics card.

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A smaller mini-ITX case is often more challenging to work in, but here BitFenix has a clever solution with their dual-frame design:

"Designed for ITX Motherboards, the striking key component of the interior is the Dual Frame Design for easy access and quick installation. The inner chamber, equipped with enough space for high-end components, slides into the housing via a ball bearing runner design."

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The external housing slimply slides off to reveal a standard chassis frame, allowing for easy component installation. Beyond the requirements of mini-ITX motherboard and SFX power supply, the Portal allows for CPU coolers of up to 125 mm, and full size graphics cards up to 300 mm long.

Specifications:

  • Chassis Type: ITX Chassis
  • Colors: Black | White
  • Materials: Aluminum | SECC Steel | ABS | Transparent acrylic
  • Motherboard: Mini-ITX
  • CPU Cooler: Up to 125mm height
  • Graphic Card Length: Up to 300mm
  • Power Supply: SFX Form Factor
  • Storage Capacity: 3.5" HDD x2, 2.5" HDD 1+2
  • Cooling Capacity: Front 120mm x1 (included), rear 80mm x1 (included)
  • Radiator Capacity: (Front) Up to 120mm x1
  • Front I/O ports: USB 3.0 x2 | HD Audio Mic & Headphone
  • Dimensions (with stand): (WxHxD) 247 x 395 x 411 mm (9.72 x 15.55 x 16.18 inches)
  • Weight: 5.81 kg (12.81 lbs)

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Cooling is another area that has received BitFenix's attention, as they have implemented what they call their "intelligent cooling solution" with the Portal:

"To cool the built-in hardware, the portal is equipped with air inlets at all four corners and the bottom of the housing. The air-permeable inner chamber is further equipped with included 120mm intake and 80mm exhaust fan, for a stable airflow for basic Office and Home Theater PCs."

The BitFenix Portal is available now for $139.99 with your choice of color and window option (product pages already up on Newegg.com).

Source: BitFenix
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Here Comes the Midrange!

Today AMD is announcing the upcoming Ryzen 5 CPUs.  A little bit was known about them from several weeks ago when AMD talked about their upcoming 6 core processors, but official specifications were lacking.  Today we get to see what Ryzen 5 is mostly about.

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There are four initial SKUs that AMD is talking about this evening.  These encompass quad core and six core products.  There are two “enthusiast” level SKUs with the X connotation while the other two are aimed at a less edgy crowd.

The two six core CPUs are the 1600 and 1600X.  The X version features the higher extended frequency range when combined with performance cooling.  That unit is clocked at a base 3.6 GHz and achieves a boost of 4 GHz.  This compares well to the top end R7 1800X, but it is short 2 cores and four threads.  The price of the R5 1600X is a very reasonable $249.  The 1600 does not feature the extended range, but it does come in at a 3.2 GHz base and 3.6 GHz boost.  The R5 1600 has a MSRP of $219.

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When we get to the four core, eight thread units we see much the same stratification.  The top end 1500X comes in at $189 and features a base clock of 3.5 GHz and a boost of 3.7 GHz.  What is interesting about this model is that the XFR is raised by 100 MHz vs. other XFR CPUs.  So instead of an extra 100 MHz boost when high end cooling is present we can expect to see 200 MHz.  In theory this could run at 3.9 GHz in the extended state.  The lowest priced R5 is the 1400 which comes in at a very modest $169.  This features a 3.2 GHz base clock and a 3.4 GHz boost.

The 1400, 1500, and 1600 CPUs come with Wraith cooling solutions.  The 1600X comes bare as it is assumed that users want to use something a bit more robust.  The R5 1400 comes with the lower end Wraith Stealth cooler while the R5 1500X and R5 1600 come with the bigger Wraith Spire.  The bottom 3 SKUs are all rated at 65 watts TDP.  The 1600X comes in at the higher 95 watt rating.  Each of the CPUs are unlocked for overclocking.

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These chips will provide a more fleshed out pricing structure for the Ryzen processors and provide users and enthusiasts with lower cost options for those wanting to invest in AMD again.  These chips all run on the new AM4 platform which are pretty strong in terms of features and I/O performance.

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AMD is not shipping these parts today, but rather announcing them.  Review samples are not in hand yet and AMD expects world-wide availability by April 11.  This is likely a very necessary step for AMD as current AM4 motherboard availability is not at the level we were expecting to see.  We also are seeing some pretty quick firmware updates from motherboard partners to address issues with these first AM4 boards.  By April 11 I would expect to see most of the issues solved and a healthy supply of motherboards on the shelves to handle the influx of consumers waiting to buy these more midrange priced CPUs from AMD.

What they did not cover or answer would be how the four core products would be presented.  Would each be a single CCX and only 8 MB of L3 cace, or would AMD disable two cores in each CCX and present 16 MB of L3?  We currently do not have the answer to this.  Considering the latency between accessing different CCX units we can surely hope they only keep one CCX active.

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Ryzen has certainly been a success for AMD and I have no doubt that their quarter will be pretty healthy with the estimated sales of around 1 million Ryzen CPUs since launch.  Announcing these new chips will give the mainstream and budget enthusiasts something to look forward to and plan their purchases around.  AMD is not announcing the Ryzen 3 products at this time.

Update: AMD got back to me this morning about a question I asked them about the makeup of cores, CCX units, and L3 cache.  Here is their response.

1600X: 3+3 with 16MB L3 cache. 1600: 3+3 with 16MB L3 cache. 1500X: 2+2 with 16MB L3 cache. 1400: 2+2 with 8MB L3 cache. As with Ryzen 7, each core still has 512KB local L2 cache.

Ryzen Locking on Certain FMA3 Workloads

Subject: Processors | March 15, 2017 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, Infinity Fabric, hwbot, FMA3, Control Fabric, bug, amd, AM4

Last week a thread was started at the HWBOT forum and discussed a certain workload that resulted in a hard lock every time it was run.  This was tested with a variety of motherboards and Ryzen processors from the 1700 to the 1800X.  In no circumstance at default power and clock settings did the processor not lock from the samples that they have worked on, as well as products that contributors have been able to test themselves.

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This is quite reminiscent of the Coppermine based Pentium III 1133 MHz processor from Intel which failed in one specific workload (compiling).  Intel had shipped a limited number of these CPUs at that time, and it was Kyle from HardOCP and Tom from Tom’s Hardware that were the first to show this behavior in a repeatable environment.  Intel stopped shipping these models and had to wait til the Tualatin version of the Pentium III to be released to achieve that speed (and above) and be stable in all workloads.

The interesting thing about this FMA3 finding is that it is seen to not be present in some overclocked Ryzen chips.  To me this indicates that it could be a power delivery issue with the chip.  A particular workload that heavily leans upon the FPU could require more power than the chip’s Control Fabric can deliver, therefore causing a hard lock.  Several tested overclocked chips with much more power being pushed to them seems as though enough power is being applied to the specific area of the chip to allow the operation to be completed successfully.

This particular fact implies to me that AMD does not necessarily have a bug such as what Intel had with the infamous F-Div issue with the original Pentium, or AMD’s issue with the B2 stepping of Phenom.  AMD has a very complex voltage control system that is controlled by the Control Fabric portion of the Infinity Fabric.  With a potential firmware or microcode update this could be a fixable problem.  If this is the case, then AMD would simply increase power being supplied to the FPU/SIMD/SSE portion of the Ryzen cores.  This may come at a cost through lower burst speeds to keep TDP within their stated envelope.

A source at AMD has confirmed this issue and that a fix will be provided via motherboard firmware update.  More than likely this comes in the form of an updated AGESA protocol.

Source: HWBOT Forums

NVIDIA's GeForce 378.78; is this the DX12 driver you have been waiting for?

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2017 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce 378.78

AMD has been offering support for DX12 more effectively than NVIDIA in many titles; not enough to consistently surpass the higher end GTX cards but certainly showing improvements.  NVIDIA announce that their new driver, along with optimized support for the new Tom Clancy game will also offer performance increases in DX12 games.  [H]ard|OCP put the numbers referenced in the PR to the test in their recent review.  The news is good for the games which were mentioned but you should not expect any gains in DX11 titles with the new driver as you can see from the benchmarks results. 

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"We will take the new NVIDIA GeForce 378.78 performance driver and add it to our NVIDIA Video Card Driver Performance Review graphs to see if this driver has improved performance. NVIDIA has made some very bold claims lately, so let's see if those come through as true gaming advantages."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

This is System Shock, not to be confused with System Shock

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: system shock 3, gaming, starbreeze

We have gone from no new System Shock to a pair of them, good news for fans of the series.  The Kickstarter reboot we already know about, with many mixed opinions about the move to the Unreal Engine, however the recently announced System Shock 3 is a totally different beast.  This sequel is being produced by Starbreeze and will not involve crowd sourcing.  Having migrated from a space station to starship it will be interesting to see what location is chosen for the third; as it is in early development they did not let Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN in on the secret.  We anxiously await examples of the art style and other details from Starbreeze and will let you know as they arrive.

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"Starbreeze are putting $12 million towards System Shock 3 [official site] in a publishing deal, the Swedes announced today. Publishing deals are rarely exciting enough for us to mention but this means ..."

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Let's get patching

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday

Patch Tuesday arrived, after a delay of a month thanks to a SMB bug which was announced just prior to our scheduled day of updating.  That particular SMB issue was patched by a third party and today you can get it directly from Microsoft if you decided to live dangerously during the shortest month of the year.  The list of fixes include the traditional Adobe Flash patch as well as numerous others which you should really get around to installing before the podcast tonight.  The Register were kind enough to provide links and a summary of what each patch is intended to repair, you can read about them all here.

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"These flaws range from a hypervisor escape in Hyper-V, remote-code execution via PDF and Office files and malicious SMB traffic, to the usual barrage of information leaks and privilege escalations."

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Source: The Register