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Manufacturer: Intel

Overview and CPU Performance

When Intel announced their quad-core mobile 8th Generation Core processors in August, I was immediately interested. As a user who gravitates towards "Ultrabook" form-factor notebooks, it seemed like a no-brainer—gaining two additional CPU cores with no power draw increase.

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However, the hardware reviewer in me was skeptical. Could this "Kaby Lake Refresh" CPU provide the headroom to fit two more physical cores on a die while maintaining the same 15W TDP? Would this mean that the processor fans would have to run out of control? What about battery life?

Now that we have our hands on our first two notebooks with the i7-8550U in, it's time to take a more in-depth look at Intel's first mobile offerings of the 8th Generation Core family.

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Click here to continue reading our look at performance with Intel 8th Generation mobile processors!

MSI's Aegis 3, a perfect gateway system for console gamers

Subject: Systems | October 30, 2017 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: msi, aegis 3

The MSI Aegis 3 has a small footprint, including the base it stands 17.05x14.81x6.69" (43.3x37.6x17cm) though it is wider when you extend the ears to hang your headphones off of.  The inside is very well laid out for such a tiny pre-built system, The Tech Report could easily access all the components in the system for potential upgrades or even simple cleaning.  This ~$1000 machine is perfect for someones first PC as it ships with a DS4200 keyboard and DS-B1 gaming mouse, leaving only the monitor to purchase separately and the inclusion of a 16GB Intel Optane M.2 Cache Module will impress them with the speed.  The Tech Report did have some suggestions for improvements on the VR hookups but overall found this to be a great introduction to the PC gaming world for a first timer.

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"MSI's Aegis 3 starts with a compelling enough spec sheet for the budding gamer: a Core i7-7700 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1060 3GB graphics card, and 16GB of RAM. We spent some time with the Aegis 3 to see whether a 16GB Optane cache and a 2TB hard drive offer an SSD-like user experience in this NAND-starved era."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

GIGABYTE's X399 DESIGNARE EX

Subject: Motherboards | October 30, 2017 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: X399, Threadripper, gigabyte, designare EX, amd

Gigabyte have updated their lineup of X399 Threadripper boards with the new Designare EX.  It sports a long list of features including dual Intel GbE LAN, Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, three M.2 slots, ALC1220 audio with 120dB SNR and a USB 3.1 Type-C port on the back as well as support for a second front port once cases start including them.

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Two of the M.2 slots lie between PCIe slots, with the third under the lit heatshield on the lower right of the board so do make sure to install them before the GPU.  The board is great for miners and gamers alike, the four top PCIe 3.0 slots can provide x16/x16/x8/x8 simultaneously thanks to Threadrippers huge count of PCIe lanes; the bottom most slot offers x4 speeds for an SSD. 

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You can read more about their Smart Fan 5 cooling, M.2 heatsinks, advanced power features and RGBs in the full press release.

Source: Gigabyte

Providers and Devices

"Cutting the Cord," the process of ditching traditional cable and satellite content providers for cheaper online-based services, is nothing new. For years, consumers have cancelled their cable subscriptions (or declined to even subscribe in the first place), opting instead to get their entertainment from companies like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

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But the recent introduction of online streaming TV services like Sling TV, new technologies like HDR, and the slow online adoption of live local channels has made the idea of cord cutting more complicated. While cord cutters who are happy with just Netflix and YouTube need not worry, what are the solutions for those who don't like the idea of high cost cable subscriptions but also want to preserve access to things like local channels and the latest 4K HDR content?

This article is the first in a three-part series that will look at this "high-end" cord cutting scenario. We'll be taking a look at the options for online streaming TV, access to local "OTA" (over the air) channels, and the devices that can handle it all, including DVR support, 4K output, and HDR compliance.

There are two approaches that you can take when considering the cord cutting process. The first is to focus on capabilities: Do you want 4K? HDR? Lossless surround sound audio? Voice search? Gaming?

The second approach is to focus on content: Do you want live TV or à la carte downloads? Can you live without ESPN or must it and your other favorite networks still be available? Are you heavily invested in iTunes content? Perhaps most importantly for those concerned with the "Spousal Acceptance Factor" (SAP), do you want the majority of your content contained in a single app, which can prevent you and your family members from having to jump between apps or devices to find what they want?

While most people on the cord cutting path will consider both approaches to a certain degree, it's easier to focus on the one that's most important to you, as that will make other choices involving devices and content easier. Of course, there are those of us out there that are open to purchasing and using multiple devices and content sources at once, giving us everything at the expense of increased complexity. But most cord cutters, especially those with families, will want to pursue a setup based around a single device that accommodates most, if not all, of their needs. And that's exactly what we set out to find.

Read on for our overview and experience with cutting the cord in 2017.

The Origin of the worlds most powerful DRM revealed!

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2017 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, origin, DRM, assassins creed origins

More powerful than a speeding Core-i5, able to crash a Ryzen 3 in a single launch process; it's not a demo, it's not a plane, it's SuperDRM!  Not only will Ubisoft's new creation prevent pirates from taking over this non-pirate verison of Assassin's Creed (for a few days or so) it can also prevent people who did not invest enough money in their rigs from playing the copy they bought!  This masterful scheme should ensure that only those truly worthy souls, with a machine capable of creating a virtual machine for the game and the Denuvo DRM software to run on will be able to learn the true Origins of Assassin's Creed.  The Inquirer's story also points out that your GPU power does not matter, if your CPU can't handle the completely reasonable request to create and run a VM for the DRM and its sidekick, then your GPU will be stuck waiting on the bus. 

You can vent your Steam here as you wait for Ubisoft to figure out how to get out of this one.

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"EARLY ADOPTERS of Assassin's Creed Origins are have been quick to moan that the open world game is using excessive CPU resources, and it's thought that Ubisoft's implementation of piracy-thwarting DRM tools is to blame."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Party in the front, business in the back; Corsair's new Carbide Series Spec-04

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 27, 2017 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: corsair, carbide series spec-4, carbide

The front of the Spec-04 is a rather fancy plastic protrusion, the interior remains in a traditional layout as you can easily see through the tempered glass side panel.  While that interior looks spacious, The Tech Report did have some difficulty installing several components.  They succeeded in their installation with a bit of effort, and at $60 this should not discourage those looking for a stylish case at a decent price. With the purchase of a few extra case fans, this case would make a good home for a budget build.

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"Corsair's Spec-04 TG brings a tempered-glass side panel and sharp looks to the $60 price point. We built up our test system inside to see whether the Spec-04 TG has the performance to go with its distinctive design."

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

CASES & COOLING

Microsoft goes on a bender in Andromeda

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2017 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, andromeda, foldable

Microsoft have completely abandoned their mobile line which is why they have announced the new prototype Andromeda foldable mobile device.  The foldable eReader-like device will run Win10 on ARM and will take advantage of Windows Ink to allow users to take accurate notes on the touchscreen.  The device is rumoured to have celluar capabilities so it could replace an executives phone, or at least let them leave the laptop at the office.  Unfortunately the announcement left out the most interesting detail, we do not know if the fold is between two seperate screens or if the Andromeda will feature a folding screen.  Hopefully Windows Central will have an updated post soon.

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"Microsoft isn't building this device for your average consumer. If it ever comes to market, and that's a big if, it isn't going to be an iPhone or Android competitor because as Microsoft has publicly claimed in the past, it's just too late for that."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

It’s been two long years since we first heard about 3D XPoint Technology. Intel and Micron serenaded us with tales of ultra-low latency and very high endurance, but when would we have this new media in our hot little hands? We got a taste of things with Optane Memory (caching) back in April, and later that same month we got a much bigger, albeit remotely-tested taste in the form of the P4800X. Since April all was quiet, with all of us storage freaks waiting for a consumer version of Optane with enough capacity to act as a system drive. Sure we’ve played around with Optane Memory parts in various forms of RAID, but as we found in our testing, Optane’s strongest benefits are the very performance traits that do not effectively scale with additional drives added to an array. The preferred route is to just get a larger single SSD with more 3D XPoint memory installed on it, and we have that very thing today (and in two separate capacities)!

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Rumor Central:

You might have seen various rumors centered around the 900P lately. The first is that the 900P was to supposedly support PCIe 4.0. This is not true, and after digging back a bit appears to be a foreign vendor mistaking / confusing PCIe X4 (4 lanes) with the recently drafted PCIe 4.0 specification. Another set of rumors centered around pre-order listings and potential pricing for the 280 and 480 GB variants of the 900P. We are happy to report that those prices (at the time of this writing) are way higher than Intel’s stated MSRP's for these new models. I’ll even go as far as to say that the 480GB model can be had for less than what the 280GB model is currently listed for! More on that later in the review.

Specifications:

Performance specs are one place where the rumors were all true, but since all the folks had to go on was a leaked Intel press deck slide listing figures identical to the P4800X, we’re not really surprised here.

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Lots of technical stuff above, but the high points are <10us typical latency (‘regular’ SSDs run between 60-100us), 2.5/2.0 GB/s sequential reads/writes, and 550k/500k random read/write performance. Yes I know, don’t tell me, you’ve seen higher sequentials on smaller form factor devices. I agree, and we’ve even seen higher maximum performance from unreleased 3D XPoint-equipped parts from Micron, but Intel has done what they needed to do in order to make this a viable shipping retail product, which likely means sacrificing the ‘megapixel race’ figures in favor of offering the lowest possible latencies and best possible endurance at this price point.

Packaging:

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Packaging is among the nicest we’ve seen from an Intel SSD. It actually reminds me of how the Fusion-io ioDrives used to come.

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Also included with the 900P is a Star Citizen ship. The Sabre Raven has been a topic of gossip and speculation for months now, and it appears to be a pretty sweet looking fighter. For those unaware, Star Citizen is a space-based MMO, and with a ‘ship purchase’ also comes a license to play the game. The Sabre Raven counts as such a purchase and apparently comes with lifetime insurance, meaning it will always be tied to your account in case it gets blown up doing data runs. Long story short, you get the game for free with the purchase of a 900P.

Read on for our full review of the Intel Optane SSD 900P (in both capacities)!

PCPer Mailbag #15 - 10/27/2017

Subject: Editorial | October 27, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag, pcper

It's Friday, which means it's time for PC Perspective's weekly mailbag, our video show where Ryan and team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest hardware, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

Here's what you'll find on today's show:

00:25 - C-State performance penalty?
03:32 - Shared GPU memory in laptops?
06:10 - The future of external GPUs?
08:57 - Why are new 6-core CPUs faster than old 8-core CPUs?
11:40 - Retail availability of AMD EPYC?
14:00 - Why does Windows Task Manager report different CPU speed?
15:27 - Gaming frame rate bottleneck?
17:31 - NVIDIA GPUs with FreeSync monitors?
18:49 - Next NVIDIA GPU release date?
20:50 - When will 4K 120Hz become mainstream?
22:39 - Wait to buy a new monitor?

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube

The GIGABYTE Aorus Gaming 7; function over form

Subject: Motherboards | October 26, 2017 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, gigabyte, X399, aorus gaming 7

[H]ard|OCP took exception to some of the design choices on the Gaming 7, specifically the placement of an M.2 slot directly underneath the first PCIe slot and some of the data and power connectors are inconveniently placed.  On the other hand the performance of the board is top notch, the 1950X ran perfectly stable at 4GHz and as there are two headers for watercooling on separate sides of the motherboard you should be able to hit that yourself.  They have learned some interesting facts about the X399 chipset so even if you are not picking up this board it is worth reading through the whole article.

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"We review GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7 and see how it stacks up in the world of HEDT motherboards. This motherboard is not priced all that high considering the amount of features it touts and certainly it is not priced high for the stability we were afforded while overclocking the Threadripper to 4GHz."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

PCIe 4 specifications arrive

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: pcie 4.0

PCI-SIG have announced PCIe 4.0 is on the horizon, with up to 16GT/s or just a hair under 32GB/s transfer rate on a 16x slot.  The new standard will also allow devices to use more power, the draw from the slot remains at 75W but external power should be able to exceed 225W without exceeding the specs.  This could mean GPUs can continue to emphasize performance over power efficiency, which could lead to some interesting products.  There is no specific date for any products to arrive, this announcement is technically for revision 0.9, so it is a not quite ready for prime time.  This may disappoint those who read about the new Optane drives, which are capable of x4 PCIe transfer as opposed to PCIe 4.0.

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"PCI-SIG, the organization responsible for the widely adopted PCI Express (PCIe) industry-standard input/output (I/O) technology, today announced the release of the PCI Express 4.0, Revision 0.9 Specification, supporting 16GT/s data rates, flexible lane width configurations and speeds for high-performance, low-power applications"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: PCI-SIG

Podcast #473 - AMD Q3 Earnings, Forza 7 Performance, Allyn's storage rant, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2017 - 11:40 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, x370, VROC, video, ROG Strix, podcast, nzxt, forza 7, b350, asus, ARM PSA, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #473 - 10/26/17

Join us for discussion on AMD Q3 Earnings, Forza 7 Performance, Allyn's storage rant, 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:03:33

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:27:25 Allyn’s RAID rant
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 0:45:55 Allyn: Cinemaps
  4. Closing/outro

 

Source:

The GTX 1070 Ti: NVIDIA's Response to RX Vega

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 26, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1070Ti, gtx 1070 ti, graphics card, gpu, evga

NVIDIA today announced the launch of the GTX 1070 Ti. The card, which has been the subject of leaks and rumors for several weeks, is NVIDIA’s first major response to AMD’s RX Vega line, designed to go head-to-head with the RX Vega 56, and give Vega 64 a run for its money in terms of price-to-performance in many games.

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Compared to the GTX 1070, the 1070 Ti increases the GPU core count from 1920 to 2432 — 128 shy of the GTX 1080 — and raises the base clock frequency to the GTX 1080’s 1607 MHz. The 1070 Ti’s stock boost clock remains the same as the 1070, however, at 1683 MHz, although NVIDIA’s Pascal based cards have been shown to easily exceed this rated maximum clock speed. Other changes between the 1070 and 1070 Ti include an increase in texture units from 120 to 152 and a jump in TDP from 150 to 180 watts.

  RX Vega 64 Liquid RX Vega 64 Air RX Vega 56 Vega Frontier Edition GTX 1080 Ti GTX 1080 GTX 1070 Ti GTX 1070
GPU Cores 4096 4096 3584 4096 3584 2560 2432 1920
Base Clock 1406 MHz 1247 MHz 1156 MHz 1382 MHz 1480 MHz 1607 MHz 1607 MHz 1506 MHz
Boost Clock 1677 MHz 1546 MHz 1471 MHz 1600 MHz 1582 MHz 1733 MHz 1683 MHz 1683 MHz
Texture Units 256 256 256 256 224 160 152 120
ROP Units 64 64 64 64 88 64 64 64
Memory 8GB 8GB 8GB 16GB 11GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 1890 MHz 1890 MHz 1600 MHz 1890 MHz 11000 MHz 10000 MHz 8000 MHz 8000 MHz
Memory Interface 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 352-bit G5X 256-bit G5X 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 410 GB/s 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 320 GB/s 256 GB/s 256 GB/s
TDP 345 watts 295 watts 210 watts 300 watts 250 watts 180 watts 180 watts 150 watts
Peak Compute 13.7 TFLOPS 12.6 TFLOPS 10.5 TFLOPS 13.1 TFLOPS 11.3 TFLOPS 8.2 TFLOPS 8.1 TFLOPS 5.7 TFLOPS
MSRP (current) $699 $499 $399 $999 $699 $499 $449 $349

The GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition is launching at $449, which puts it $100 above the current MSRP of the 1070 and $50 higher than the RX Vega 56. The GTX 1080 and 1070 first launched at $599 and $379 but saw a price drop in late February to $499 and $349, respectively.

EVGA’s GTX 1070 Ti Launch Lineup

The GTX 1070 Ti launch will of course include dozens of options from NVIDIA’s partners, but we have some specifics to share from EVGA. The GPU maker is launching with four 1070 Ti models:

EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti GAMING
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti SC GAMING Black Edition
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti FTW2
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti GAMING HYBRID

Following the pattern of EVGA’s other Pascal-based releases, the 1070 Ti GAMING features a basic blower-style cooler, the SC model features ACX 3.0 cooling, and the FTW 2 version includes EVGA’s ICX cooling system. The HYBRID model utilizes a self-contained, all-in-one 120mm water cooler.

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Pricing is not yet known for every model, but we’ve learned that the base GAMING edition will start at $469 and the FTW2 will carry a $489 MSRP. For comparison, the FTW2 version of the GTX 1070 is currently priced at $480 (expect prices to change once 1070 Ti stock hits the market) while the GTX 1080 FTW2 is $600.

GTX 1070 Ti Availability

NVIDIA is doing things a bit differently for the 1070 Ti launch. Although today (October 26th) marks the official “launch date,” actual product availability and performance benchmarks won’t land until next Thursday, November 2.

Aside from the advertised specifications, we therefore having nothing more to share at this time in terms of benchmarking or performance analysis, but rest assured that we’ll have our complete coverage ready to go as soon as we get our hands on these new cards.

Source:
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

A potential game changer?

I thought we were going to be able to make it through the rest of 2017 without seeing AMD launch another family of products. But I was wrong. And that’s a good thing. Today AMD is launching the not-so-cleverly-named Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line that will bring the new Zen processor architecture and Vega graphics architecture onto a single die for the ultrathin mobile notebook platforms. This is no minor move for them – just as we discussed with the AMD EPYC processor launch, this is a segment that has been utterly dominated by Intel. After all, Intel created the term Ultrabook to target these designs, and though that brand is gone, the thin and light mindset continues to this day.

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The claims AMD makes about its Ryzen mobile APU (combination CPU+GPU accelerated processing unit, to use an older AMD term) are not to be made lightly. Right up front in our discussion I was told this is going to be the “world’s fastest for ultrathin” machines. Considering that AMD had previously been unable to even enter those markets with previous products, both due to some technological and business roadblocks, AMD is taking a risk by painting this launch in such a light. Thanks to its ability combine CPU and GPU technology on a single die though, AMD has some flexibility today that simply did not have access to previously.

From the days that AMD first announced the acquisition of ATI graphics, the company has touted the long-term benefits of owning both a high-performance processor and graphics division. By combining the architectures on a single die, they could become greater than the sum of the parts, leveraging new software directions and the oft-discussed HSA (heterogenous systems architecture) that AMD helped create a foundation for. Though the first rounds of APUs were able to hit modest sales, the truth was that AMD’s advantage over Intel’s on the graphics technology front was often overshadowed by the performance and power efficiency advantages that Intel held on the CPU front.

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But with the introduction of the first products based on Zen earlier this year, AMD has finally made good on the promises of catching up to Intel in many of the areas where it matters the most. The new from-the-ground-up design resulted in greater than 50% IPC gains, improved area efficiency compared to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake core design, and enormous gains in power efficiency compared to the previous CPU designs. When looking at the new Ryzen-based APU products with Vega built-in, AMD claims that they tower over the 7th generation APUs with up to 200% more CPU performance, 128% more GPU performance, and 58% lower power consumption. Again, these are bold claims, but it gives AMD confidence that it can now target premium designs and form factors with a solution that will meet consumer demands.

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AMD is hoping that the release of the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U can finally help turn the tides in the ultrathin notebook market.

  Core i7-8650U Core i7-8550U Core i5-8350U Core i5-8250U Ryzen 7 2700U Ryzen 5 2500U
Architecture Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Zen+Vega Zen+Vega
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm 14nm
Socket BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 ? ?
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
Base Clock 1.9 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.7 GHz 1.6 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.0 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4 DDR4
Memory Speeds 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400 2400
Cache 8MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB
System Bus DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s N/A N/A
Graphics UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 Vega (10 CUs) Vega (8 CUs)
Max Graphics Clock 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.3 GHz 1.1 GHz
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 12-25W
15W Nominal
12-25W
15W Nominal
MSRP $409 $409 $297 $297 ? ?

The Ryzen 7 2700U will run 200 MHz higher on the base and boost clocks for the CPU and 200 MHz higher on the peak GPU core clock. Though both systems have 4-cores and 8-threads, the GPU on the 2700U will have two additional CUs / compute units.

Continue reading our preview of the new AMD Ryzen Mobile Processor!

Microsoft Now Supports Original Xbox Games On Xbox One

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: xbox one x, xbox one s, xbox one, xbox, upscaling, gaming, console, backwards compatible

Microsoft is adding original Xbox games to its backwards compatibility program with 13 games available now with more on the way in spring of next year. Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X owners will soon be able to play a curated selection of original Xbox games at higher resolutions and with improved color details.

Microsoft claims that original Xbox games will run with up to four times the pixel count on Xbox One (and One S) and up to 16 times the pixels on Xbox One X. Gamers will be able to use their original Xbox game disc to play or they can purchase the older titles in digital form from the Microsoft Store. Original features like co-op and System Link will work, but there is no Xbox Live service support which means online multiplayer will not work. Further, Microsoft notes that players will not earn any achievements when playing original Xbox games.

The first batch of original Xbox games includes:

  1. BLACK
  2. BloodRayne 2
  3. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
  4. Dead to Rights
  5. Fuzion Frenzy
  6. Grabbled by the Ghoulies
  7. King of Fighters Neowave
  8. Ninja Gaiden Black
  9. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  10. Psychonauts
  11. Red Faction II
  12. Sid Meier's Pirates!
  13. KOTOR (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)

While I have not played most of those games, I played a ton of Red Faction II with my brother, and fondly remember KOTOR on the PC. The video above shows a comparison between the original KOTOR running on Xbox and the backwards compatible enhanced version of the game running on Xbox One, and the visual difference is impressive (still not as good as it can look on the PC with mods though heh) with the game being significantly sharper with deeper colors (the original Xbox game looks extremely blurry and washed out by comparison).

It is a small list currently, but there are some gems on the launch list, and I am interested to see how the games look running on the Xbox One X. Hopefully the frame rates and loading times can also be improved ;-). As an added bonus Microsoft also pointed out that Xbox Game Pass members can grab Ninja Gaiden Black for free.

Microsoft claims that gamers have spent 700 million hours playing the 400 backwards compatible Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. There is certainly interest and it seems Microsoft is watching the numbers carefully which will be important for gamers in getting the Redmond-based company to continue adding support for additional classics.

Also read:

Source: Microsoft

Zotac Shrinks GTX 1080 Ti Into Water-Cooled Small Form Factor ArcticStorm Mini

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 25, 2017 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: zotac, gtx 1080 ti, SFF, water cooler

Zotac finally made its watercooled GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini official last week. A card that was first teased at Computex, the ArcticStorm Mini is a dual slot with metal backplate and full cover water block that has been significantly shortened such that it can fit into many more cases including Micro ATX and some Mini ITX form factors. Specifically, the ArcticStorm Mini measures 212mm (8.35”) x 164mm (6.46”) and uses a custom shortened PCB that appears to be the same platform as the dual fan air cooled model.

Zotac GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini.jpg

The star of the ArcticStorm Mini is the full cover waterblock with nickel plated copper base and a tinted acrylic top cover. According to Zotac the waterblock uses 0.3mm micro channels above the GPU to improve cooling performance by moving as much heat from the GPU into the water loop as possible. There are ports for vertical or horizontal barb orientation though I would have loved to see a card that routed the water cooling in and out ports to the rear of the card rather than the side especially since this is aimed at small form factor builds. The water block can accommodate standard G1/4” fittings and Zotac includes two barbs that support 10mm ID (inner diameter) tubing in the box. A metal backplate helps prevent warping of the PCB from the water cooling which can be rather hefty.

While there is no RGB on this card, Zotac did go with an always on white LED that along with the gray and silver colors of the card itself are supposed to be color neutral and allow it to fit into more builds (as opposed to Zotac’s usual yellow and black colors). Around the front are five display outputs including: DVI-D, HDMI 2.0b, and three DisplayPort 1.4 connections.

Out of the box, the GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini comes with a modest factory overlock that pushes the GP102’s 3,584 CUDA cores to 1506 MHz base and 1620 MHz boost. The 11GB of GDDR5X remains clocked at the stock 11 GHz, however. (For comparison, reference clocks are 1480 MHz base and 1582 MHz boost.) The graphics card is powered by two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and enthusiasts should be able to push it quite a bit further than the out of the box clocks simply by increasing the power target as we saw in our review of the 1080 Ti, and barring any silicon lottery duds this card should be able to clock higher and have more stable clocks than our card thanks to the liquid cooler.

As is usual with these things, Zotac did not reveal exact pricing or availability, but with the full sized GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm already selling for $809 on Amazon and $820 over at Newegg, I would expect the little SFF brother to sell for a bit of a premium beyond that, say $840 at launch with the price going down a bit with sales later.

It would have been nice to see this be a single slot card, and giving up DVI would be worth it, but you can’t have everything (heh). I am looking forward to seeing the systems modders and enthusiasts are able to cram this card (or two) into!

Source: Zotac

If you are going to play this game at high resolution it is your Destiny 2 buy a Vega

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gaming, destiny 2, amd, 4k, 1440p

In their testing of the new PC port of Destiny 2, The Guru of 3D made some interesting discoveries.  The first is that at 1080p, the game's performance can be somewhat limited by your CPU, but not at 1440p or higher resolutions.  The second finding is the impressive showing of AMD's Vega 64 and 56 at 1440p and 4K, which both outperform the GTX 1080.  It may be that NVIDIA will release an optimized driver and repeat the improvements seen in Forza 7 but for now AMD is in the lead.  

Drop by for their full review.

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"We test that PC enhanced Destiny 2 for Windows relative towards graphics card performance with the latest AMD/NVIDIA graphics card drivers. Multiple graphics cards are being tested and benchmarked. We have a look at performance with the newest graphics cards and technologies."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Epson is quite upset someone is interfering with their license to print money

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: epson, ebay

Apparently the profits from selling a substance worth more than gold or even the blood in your veins is not enough to enable Epson to survive a bit of competition and so they have demanded eBay remove a long list of compatible cartridges which are sold on that site.  Their claim is based on the proprietary way in which "chip contacts on the cartridges are aligned"; presumably something resembling a single raised finger.  HP tried a similar approach a year ago, adding DRM to their printers and ink cartridges which prevented refilled or third party cartridges from working.  They also included an expiry date in the DRM, so even a full authentic cartridge would have to be replaced after a set date.  This did not go well for them and they reversed their policy after a public outcry.  You can read more about HP, Epson and the price of your blood over at The Inquirer

For now it continues to be more economical to toss your Epson printer out when an ink cartridge runs dry than to replace it with a full one.

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"EPSON HAS become the latest printer company to attempt a ban on third-party printer cartridges, asking eBay to issue takedown notices for sellers under the site's VeRO programme."

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Source: The Inquirer

AMD Q3 2017 Earnings: A Pleasant Surprise

Subject: Editorial | October 25, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: Vega, Threadripper, sony, ryzen, Q3, microsoft, EPYC, earnings, amd, 2017

Expectations for AMD’s Q3 earnings were not exactly sky high, but they were trending towards the positive.  It seems that AMD exceeded those expectations.  The company announced revenue of $1.64 billion, up significantly from the expected $1.52 billion that was the consensus on The Street.

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The company also showed a $71 million (GAAP), $110 million (non-GAAP) net for the quarter, which is a 300% increase from a year ago.  The reasons for this strong quarter are pretty obvious.  Ryzen has been performing well on the desktop since its introduction last Spring and sales have been steady with a marked increase in ASPs.  The latest Vega GPUs are competitive in the marketplace, but it does not seem as though AMD has been able to provide as many of these products as they would like.  Add into that the coin mining effect on prices and stocks of these latest AMD graphics units.  Perhaps a bigger boost to the bottom line is the introduction of the Epyc and Threadripper CPUs to the mix.

Part of this good news is the bittersweet royalties from the console manufacturers.  Both Sony and Microsoft have refreshed their consoles in the past year, and Microsoft is about to release the new Xbox One X to consumers shortly.  This has provided a strong boost to AMD’s semi-custom business, but these boosts are also strongly seasonal.  The downside to this boost is of course when orders trail off and royalty checks take a severe beating.  Consoles have a longer ramp up due to system costs and integration as compared to standalone CPUs or video cards.  Microsoft and Sony ordered production of these new parts several quarters ago, so revenue from those royalties typically show up a quarter sooner than when actual product starts shipping.  So the lion’s share of royalties are paid up in Q3 so that there is adequate supply of consoles in the strong Q4/Holiday season.  Since Q1 of the next year is typically the softest quarter, the amount of parts ordered by Sony/Microsoft is slashed significantly to make sure that as much of the Holiday orders are sold and not left in inventory.

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Ryzen continues to be strong due to multiple factors.  It has competitive single and multi-core performance in a large variety of applications as compared to Intel’s latest.  It has a much smaller die size than previous AMD parts such as Bulldozer/Piledriver/Phenom II, so they can fit more chips on a wafer and thereby lower overall costs while maximizing margins.  Their product mix is very good from the Ryzen 3 to the Ryzen 7 parts, but is of course still missing the integrated graphics Ryzen parts that are expected either late this year or early next.  Overall Ryzen has made AMD far more competitive and the marketplace has rewarded the company.

Vega is in an interesting spot.  There have been many rumors about how the manufacturing costs of the chip (GPU and HBM) along with board implementations are actually being sold for a small loss.  I find that hard to believe, but my gut here does not feel like AMD is making good margins on the product either.  This could account for what is generally seen as lower than expected units in the market as well as correspondingly higher prices than expected.  The Vega products are competitive with NVIDIA’s 1070 and 1080 products, but in those products we are finally seeing them start to settle down closer to MSRP with adequate supplies available for purchase.  HBM is an interesting technology with some very acute advantages over standard GDDR-5/X.  However, it seems that both the cost and implementation of HBM at this point in time is still not competitive with having gone the more traditional route with memory.

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There is no doubt that AMD has done very well this quarter due to its wide variety of parts that are available to consumers.  The news is not all great though and AMD expects to see Q4 revenues down around 15%.  This is not exactly unexpected due to the seasonal nature of console sales and the resulting loss of royalties in what should be a strong quarter.  We can still expect AMD to ship plenty of Ryzen parts as well as Vega GPUs.  We can also surmise that we will see a limited impact of the integrated Ryzen/Vega APUs and any potential mobile parts based on those products as well.

 Q3 was a surprise for many, and a pleasant one at that.  While the drop in Q4 is not unexpected, it does sour a bit of the news that AMD has done so well.  The share price of AMD has taken a hit due to this news, but we will start to see a clearer picture of how AMD is competing in their core spaces as well as what kind of uptick we can expect from richer Epyc sales throughout the quarter.  Vega is still a big question for many, but Holiday season demand will likely keep those products limited and higher in price.

AMD’s outlook overall is quite positive and we can expect a refresh of Zen desktop parts sometime in 1H 2018 due to the introduction of GLOBALFOUNDRIES 12nm process which should give a clock and power uplift to the Zen design.  There should be a little bit of cleanup in the Zen design much as Piledriver was optimized from Bulldozer.  Add in the advantages of the new process and we should see AMD more adequately compete with Coffee Lake products from Intel which should be very common by then.

 

Source: AMD

Forza Motorsport 7 Performance

The first full Forza Motorsport title available for the PC, Forza Motorsport 7 on Windows 10 launched simultaneously with the Xbox version earlier this month. With native 4K assets, HDR support, and new visual features like fully dynamic weather, this title is an excellent showcase of what modern PC hardware can do.

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Now that both AMD and NVIDIA have released drivers optimized for Forza 7, we've taken an opportunity to measure performance across an array of different GPUs. After some significant performance mishaps with last year's Forza Horizon 3 at launch on PC, we are excited to see if Forza Motorsport 7 brings any much-needed improvements. 

For this testing, we used our standard GPU testbed, including an 8-core Haswell-E processor and plenty of memory and storage.

  PC Perspective GPU Testbed
Processor Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E
Motherboard ASUS Rampage V Extreme X99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB DDR4-3200
Storage OCZ Agility 4 256GB (OS)
Adata SP610 500GB (games)
Power Supply Corsair AX1500i 1500 watt
OS Windows 10 x64 
Drivers AMD: 17.10.1 (Beta)
NVIDIA: 387.92

As with a lot of modern console-first titles, Forza 7 defaults to "Dynamic" image quality settings. This means that the game engine is supposed to find the best image settings for your hardware automatically, and dynamically adjust them so that you hit a target frame rate (adjustable between 30 and 60fps) no matter what is going on in the current scene that is being rendered.

While this is a good strategy for consoles, and even for casual PC gamers, it poses a problem for us trying to measure equivalent performance across GPUs. Luckily the developers of Forza Motorsport 7, Turn 10 Studios, still let you disable the dynamic control and configure the image quality settings as you desire.

One quirk however though is that in order for V-Sync to be disabled, the rendering resolution within the game must match the native resolution of your monitor. This means that if you are running 2560x1440 on your 4K monitor, you must first set the resolution within windows to 2560x1440 in order to run the game in V-Sync off mode.

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We did our testing with an array of three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4K) at maximum image quality settings. We tested both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards in similar price and performance segments. The built-in benchmark mode for this game was used, which does feature some variance due to dynamic weather patterns. However, our testing within the full game matched the results of the benchmark mode closely, so we used it for our final results.

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Right off the bat, I have been impressed at how well optimized Forza Motorsport 7 seems to be on the PC. Compared to the unoptimized disaster that was Forza Horizon 3 when it launched on PC last year, it's clear that Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft have come a long way.

Even gamers looking to play on a 4K display at 60Hz can seemingly get away with the cheaper, and more mainstream GPUs such as the RX 580 or the GTX 1060 with acceptable performance in most scenarios.

Games on high-refresh-rate displays don't appear to have the same luxury. If you want to game at a resolution such as 2560x1440 at a full 144Hz, neither the RX Vega 64 or GTX 1080 will do this with maximum image quality settings. Although these GPUs appear to be in the margin where you could turn down a few settings to achieve your full refresh rate.

For some reason, the RX Vega cards didn't seem to show any scaling in performance when moving from 2560x1440 to 1920x1080, unlike the Polaris-based RX 580 and the NVIDIA options. We aren't quite sure of the cause of this and have reached out to AMD for clarification.

As far as frame times are concerned, we also gathered some data with our Frame Rating capture analysis system

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Taking a look at the first chart, we can see while the GTX 1080 frame times are extremely consistent, the RX Vega 64 shows some additional variance.

However, the frame time variance chart shows that over 95% of the frame times of the RX Vega 64 come in at under 2ms of variance, which will still provide a smooth gameplay experience in most scenarios. This matches with our experience while playing on both AMD and NVIDIA hardware where we saw no major issues with gameplay smoothness.

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Forza Motorsport 7 seems to be a great addition to the PC gaming world (if you don't mind using the Microsoft store exclusively) and will run great on a wide array of hardware. Whether or not you have a NVIDIA or AMD GPU, you should be able to enjoy this fantastic racing simulator.