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Manufacturer: AMD

What is old is new again

Trust me on this one – AMD is aware that launching the RX 500-series of graphics cards, including the RX 580 we are reviewing today, is an uphill battle. Besides battling the sounds on the hills that whisper “reeebbrraannndd” AMD needs to work with its own board partners to offer up total solutions that compete well with NVIDIA’s stronghold on the majority of the market. Just putting out the Radeon RX 580 and RX 570 cards with same coolers and specs as the RX 400-series would be a recipe for ridicule. AMD is aware and is being surprisingly proactive in its story telling the consumer and the media.

  • If you already own a Radeon RX 400-series card, the RX 500-series is not expected to be an upgrade path for you.
     
  • The Radeon RX 500-series is NOT based on Vega. Polaris here everyone.
     
  • Target users are those with Radeon R9 380 class cards and older – Polaris is still meant as an upgrade for that very large user base.

The story that is being told is compelling; more than you might expect. With more than 500 million gamers using graphics cards two years or older, based on Steam survey data, there is a HUGE audience that would benefit from an RX 580 graphics card upgrade. Older cards may lack support for FreeSync, HDR, higher refresh rate HDMI output and hardware encode/decode support for 4K resolution content. And while the GeForce GTX 1060 family would also meet that criteria, AMD wants to make the case that the Radeon family is the way to go.

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The Radeon RX 500-series is based on the same Polaris architecture as the RX 400-series, though AMD would tell us that the technology has been refined since initial launch. More time with the 14nm FinFET process technology has given the fab facility, and AMD, some opportunities to refine. This gives the new GPUs the ability to scale to higher clocks than they could before (though not without the cost of additional power draw). AMD has tweaked multi-monitor efficiency modes, allowing idle power consumption to drop a handful of watts thanks to a tweaked pixel clock.

Maybe the most substantial change with this RX 580 release is the unleashing of any kind of power consumption constraints for the board partners. The Radeon RX 480 launch was marred with issues surrounding the amount of power AMD claimed the boards would use compared to how much they DID use. This time around, all RX 580 graphics cards will ship with AT LEAST an 8-pin power connector, opening overclocked models to use as much as 225 watts. Some cards will have an 8+6-pin configuration to go even higher. Considering the RX 480 launched with a supposed 150 watt TDP (that it never lived up to), that’s quite an increase.

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AMD is hoping to convince gamers that Radeon Chill is a good solution to help some specific instances of excessive power draw. Recent drivers have added support for games like League of Legends and DOTA 2, adding to The Witcher 3, Dues Ex: Mankind Divided and more. I will freely admit that while the technology behind Chill sounds impressive, I don’t have the experience with it yet to claim or counterclaim its supposed advantages…without sacrificing user experience.

Continue reading our review of the Radeon RX 580 graphics card!

PCPer Meetup in London! Sponsored by ARM! Win a FREE Chromebook!

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2017 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: meetup, london, giveaway, contest, Chromebook, arm

For a short romantic summer trip, Josh Walrath and I (Ryan Shrout) will be heading across the pond to London, England! With the primary goals of technology education and beer consumption, we thought it would be prudent to invite any and all PC Perspective fans in the area to join us for a night of talking tech, comparing beer preferences and just saying hello!

On Thursday April 27th starting 7:30pm, you will find Josh and me sitting in a dimly-lit booth at the Momentus Bar inside The Cumberland Hotel located at Great Cumberland Place London W1H 7DL. We have no specific agenda but will probably be there until at least midnight, hamming it up with anyone that walks over.

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Yes, it looks fancy, but you're talking to some fancy lads, right!?!

As if hanging with your favorite hosts of the PC Perspective Podcast wasn't enough, I was able to coherce our good friends at ARM to sponsor the event and handing us a couple of Chromebooks to give away as well! That's right - come meet Josh and me at The Cumberland Hotel and have a couple of drinks!

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On display at the event in London will be two ARM-powered Chromebooks: the Acer R13 and the new Samsung Chromebook Plus!

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The Samsung Chromebook Plus powered by ARM

The Samsung Chromebook Plus is powered by the OP processor...a curious part with an even more curious website: www.whatisop.com.

Even though only those in attendance will be able to get hands-on with the two Chromebooks, we are offering the giveaway of the units to our global fan base! All you have to do is enter via the Gleam competition below for your chance to take home one of these two devices!

ARM-powered Chromebook Giveaway!

So, here's the summary: if you are in the London area on April 27th and want to come hang out with Josh and me at Momentus Bar at The Cumberland Hotel, we would love to see you at 730pm! If you aren't in the London area on April 27th, enter the contest above for your chance to win an ARM-powered Chromebook!

PC Perspective London Meetup! Sponsored by ARM!

7:30pm - 12:00am on April 27th

Momentus Bar at The Cumberland Hotel

Great Cumberland Pl, Marylebone, London W1H 7DL, UK

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A HUGE THANKS to our friends at ARM for sponsoring these events and paying for Josh's excuse to drink! Hopefully we will see a lot of you in person very soon!

Manufacturer: DAN Cases

Introduction and First Impressions

The A4-SFX takes the minimalist, full-length GPU capable mini-ITX chassis design down to stunningly compact dimensions, and does so with a precise all-aluminum build and refined industrial design. Created by the one-man company DAN Cases and funded on Kickstarter, the A4-SFX share the spirit of the crowdfunded NCASE M1 that preceded it, but takes even that tiny enclosure's dimensions down considerably. It is, as the company puts it, "the world's smallest gaming tower case".

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What was omitted to bring the size down this far? Comparing the A4-SFX to the aforementioned NCASE M1 (an inevitability as both were crowd-funded and manufactured by Lian Li), the A4-SFX drops support for compact ATX power supplies in favor of SFX/SFX-L units, and CPU cooling is limited to a height of 48 mm, with no liquid cooling support. Many low-profile CPU coolers - including Intel’s stock design - fit this description, but the cooling limitation suggests stock CPU speeds are the tradeoff for such a compact case design.

So how compact is this case, exactly? The A4-SFX has a volume of just 7.25L compared to the NCASE M1 at 12.6L. Yet the A4-SFX can still house a powerful, gaming-ready system with standard components including a full sized GPU (up to 295 mm in length) and any mini-ITX motherboard and CPU.

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Continue reading our review of the DAN Cases A4-SFX Mini-ITX Enclosure!

ASUS Launches the Tinker Board in North America

Subject: Systems | April 19, 2017 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: tinker board, iot, asus

The ASUS Tinker Board is a full system in a tiny form factor, similar to Raspberry Pi or Arduino's products to name a few competitors in the now busy market.  At its heart is the Rockchip RK3288, four ARM Cortex-A17 CPU cores running at 1.8GHz with a Mali-T764 GPU at 600MHz.  They are available now for slightly more than the announced $54.99 and will run a Debian based OS called ASUS TinkerOS.

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Inside are an array of options for add-ins, including a 40-pin GPIO header, a 15-pin MIPI DSI and a15-pin MIPI CSI as well as a2-pin contact point for PWM or S/PDIF signals.  Externally you will have four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack to give you flexibility in how you utilize your Tinker Board.  For connectivity there is a wired NIC as well as 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.  You can read the full PR below.

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Fremont, CA (April 19, 2017) -- ASUS, maker of the world’s best-selling, most award-winning motherboards, is excited to launch the ASUS Tinker Board in North America today. Imagine the freedom to make your ideas come alive, the ability to invent an IoT device for a connected home or just having fun creating an entertainment hub for the family or powering your DIY robot project at school. With Tinker Board, the possibilities to create personalized devices are endless. Tinker Board is a single-board computer (SBC), which makes it the ideal foundation for makers, hobbyists, educators, and electronic DIY enthusiasts to develop and build low-cost, great-performing computers.

Features & Functionality
ASUS Tinker Board offers class-leading performance, robust multimedia support, IoT connectivity, and enhanced DIY design and compatibility with a wide range of leading SBC chassis and accessories. The result is a near credit card sized computer that offers people the freedom to tinker and apply their ingenuity to create platforms for a wide variety of uses.

Key features of Tinker Board include:

  • CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 SoC quad-core processor
  • GPU: Mali-T764 GPU Video:
  • HD/UHD video playback support – including H.264/H.265 decoding Audio: 192kHz/24-bit audio support
  • Memory: 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3
  • Storage: Micro SD(TF) slot features SD 3.0 support
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth° 4.0 + EDR and on-board 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Networking: 1Gb Ethernet
  • Ports: (4) USB2.0 ports, (1) HDMI 1.4 out port, (1) 3.5mm audio jack
  • I/O Ports: (1) 40-pin GPIO interface header, (1) 15-pin MIPI DSI, (1) 15-pin MIPI CSI, (1) 2-pin contact point for PWM and S/PDIF signals
  • Power: Suggested 5V/2A AC adaptor via the micro-USB port (power adaptor not included)
  • OS: (Debian-based Linux) & Android Support
  • Dimensions/Weight: 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm, 45g without included heatsink
Source: ASUS
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction

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XPoint. Optane. QuantX. We've been hearing these terms thrown around for two years now. A form of 3D stackable non-volatile memory that promised 10x the density of DRAM and 1000x the speed and endurance of NAND. These were bold statements, and over the following months, we would see them misunderstood and misconstrued by many in the industry. These misconceptions were further amplified by some poor demo choices on the part of Intel (fortunately countered by some better choices made by Micron). Fortunately cooler heads prevailed as Jim Handy and other industry analysts helped explain that a 1000x improvement at the die level does not translate to the same improvement at the device level, especially when the first round of devices must comply with what will soon become a legacy method of connecting a persistent storage device to a PC.

Did I just suggest that PCIe 3.0 and the NVMe protocol - developed just for high-speed storage, is already legacy tech? Well, sorta.

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That 'Future NVM' bar at the bottom of that chart there was a 2-year old prototype iteration of what is now Optane. Note that while NVMe was able to shrink down the yellow bar a bit, as you introduce faster and faster storage, the rest of the equation (meaning software, including the OS kernel) starts to have a larger and larger impact on limiting the ultimate speed of the device.

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NAND Flash simplified schematic (via Wikipedia)

Before getting into the first retail product to push all of these links in the storage chain to the limit, let's explain how XPoint works and what makes it faster. Taking random writes as an example, NAND Flash (above) must program cells in pages and erase cells in blocks. As modern flash has increased in capacity, the sizes of those pages and blocks have scaled up roughly proportionally. At present day we are at pages >4KB and block sizes in the megabytes. When it comes to randomly writing to an already full section of flash, simply changing the contents of one byte on one page requires the clearing and rewriting of the entire block. The difference between what you wanted to write and what the flash had to rewrite to accomplish that operation is called the write amplification factor. It's something that must be dealt with when it comes to flash memory management, but for XPoint it is a completely different story:

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XPoint is bit addressible. The 'cross' structure means you can select very small groups of data via Wordlines, with the ultimate selection resolving down to a single bit.

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Since the programmed element effectively acts as a resistor, its output is read directly and quickly. Even better - none of that write amplification nonsense mentioned above applies here at all. There are no pages or blocks. If you want to write a byte, go ahead. Even better is that the bits can be changed regardless of their former state, meaning no erase or clear cycle must take place before writing - you just overwrite directly over what was previously stored. Is that 1000x faster / 1000x more write endurance than NAND thing starting to make more sense now?

Ok, with all of the background out of the way, let's get into the meat of the story. I present the P4800X:

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Read on for our full review of the P4800X!

Logitech Announces the G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2017 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical, magnesium, logitech, keyboard, gaming, aluminium

Logitech has announced the G413, a mechanical gaming keyboard with the company's exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches and premium construction (including an aluminum-magnesium upper panel).

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"Engineered for precision and performance, the keyboard delivers unrivaled performance in a thoughtfully balanced, modern design. The Logitech G413 features Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches, offering 25 percent faster actuation than standard mechanical keys, as well as a brushed anodized aircraft-grade aluminum top case, USB passthrough port and precision key backlighting for an affordable price."

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Logitech lists these features for the G413 mechanical gaming keyboard:

  • Romer-G Mechanical Switches: Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches are purpose-built for professional-grade performance, responsiveness and durability. With a short-throw actuation point of 1.5 mm, Romer-G switches register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches, so you can get your shots off faster than your opponent. Designed to enhance gameplay, Romer-G switches offer the perfect blend of speed, precision and quiet performance.
  • Precision Key Lighting: Romer-G mechanical switches are also purpose-designed for precise and clean lighting through the keycaps. This means keys are always visible and never distracting, especially during late night gaming sessions. The Logitech G413 Carbon features elemental red backlighting and the Logitech G413 Silver features iconic white backlighting, for a premium, focused look.
  • Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Alloy: A brushed 5052 aluminum-magnesium alloy top case serves as the keyboard’s backbone. The result is a minimal design balanced with a full set of features. With a focus on high-end finish and performance, the Logitech G413 is crafted from the highest-grade materials.
  • USB Passthrough: Convenience and speed are directly within reach. The additional, dedicated USB cable connects the USB passthrough port to its own input for full power throughput and data speed. 
  • Full Function Keys: Media control is built-in so you can use the FN key to control volume, play and pause, mute, game mode, lighting, etc. The FN toggle feature in the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) configure the keys to perform media commands by default.  
  • Programmable Macros: Use LGS to program custom functions and macro commands on F1-F12 buttons. Execute complex commands, or unleash a timed series of actions or spells with the press of a button.
  • Performance Keycaps: Laser-etched cylindrical keycaps come standard plus a set of 12 optional performance faceted keycaps designed by esports pros are included.

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With an MSRP of $89.99 the G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard goes on sale this month in two versions, with a black finish (shown here) and a silver finish that is exclusive to Best Buy.

Source: Logitech

Rumor: GeForce GT 1030 Planned, Potentially with GP108

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 22, 2017 - 12:53 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, gt 1030, gp108

Expreview.com (machine-translated from Chinese) believes that NVIDIA will launch the GeForce GT 1030 to compete in the low-end. It’s difficult to tell how confident they are about this next part, due to the translation, but they believe that it will be based on a new Pascal design, GP108, rather than a further-disabled GP107 (as seen in the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti). Those parts have 640 and 768 CUDA cores, respectively, which might be where their estimate of 512 CUDA cores for GP108 comes from.

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As for the merits as a product, it seems a little odd to me. There is some room for it in terms of performance, sliding between the GTX 1050 and integrated graphics with a GTX 750-class part, just with higher clocks and/or lower power due to the Pascal architecture. It does seem risky, though, considering the GTX 1050 already occupies the $110 USD price point.

The post also suggests that the cards will have 1 GB and 2 GB variants.

MSI announces accelerated GAMING X+ series

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 21, 2017 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: msi, nvidia, GAMING X+, Twin Frozr VI, GTX 1080, factory overclocked

MSI have announced a new family of GTX 1080s to the market, dubbed the GAMING X+ series.  There are four models, two with 8GB of RAM and two with 6GB, all with respectable factory overclocks.  All of the cards have a Twin Frozr VI cooler with double bearing TORX fans offering quiet performance as well as the capacity to allow you to push a bit more out of the card if you so desire.  They also contain the mysteriously named Premium Thermal Compound X.

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The MSI Gaming App has been update with a One-click to VR app that should make switching between your head mounted display and your desktop monitors quicker and easier.  It also lets you switch your RGBs between 5 different patterns for those who like their GPU illuminated.  Full PR below.

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As the world’s leading GAMING graphics card vendor, MSI is proud to announce a new line of graphics cards based on the award-winning GAMING X series. Loaded up with faster graphics memory, the new GAMING X+ series provide an additional boost to graphics performance for smooth gameplay. Built around NVIDIA’s GeForce® GTX 10 series GPUs, the MSI GeForce® GTX 1080 GAMING X+ 8G and GeForce® GTX 1060 GAMING X+ 6G use the full force of the TWIN FROZR VI cooler, allowing for higher core and memory clock speeds for increased performance in games. The well-known shapes of the stunning TWIN FROZR cooler are intensified by a fiery red GAMING glow piercing through the cover, while the MSI GAMING dragon RGB LED on the side can be set to any of 16.8 million colors to match your mood or build. A completely new custom PCB design using Military Class 4 components enables higher overclocking performance to push your graphics card to the max. The classy matte black solid metal backplate gives the card more structural strength and provides a nice finishing touch.

Thermal Design
As MSI’s best thermal design to date, TWIN FROZR VI has raised the bar of Graphics Card air cooling. TORX Fan 2.0 is the enhanced version of the patented TORX Fan technology which generates 22% more air pressure for better cooling performance while further reducing noise levels. On the GeForce® GTX 1080 GAMING X+, the new fans are equipped with Double Ball Bearings to ensure lasting smooth and silent operation. Connected to the huge heatsink are 8mm copper heat pipes with a squared shape at the bottom for optimal heat transfer from the solid nickel-plated copper baseplate combined with Premium Thermal Compound X to keep the Pascal powerhouse cool.

MSI Gaming App
The MSI Gaming App allows gamers to quickly switch between OC, Gaming and Silent performance modes, depending on their needs. The latest version of MSI Gaming App features One-click to VR, which instantly optimizes your PC for the best Virtual Reality experience. It also includes host of premium features like EyeRest to improve image quality and Dragon Eye which allows you to watch a YouTube video or stream while gaming. Last but not least, the Gaming App features a LED control tab, allowing gamers to choose from 5 unique lighting modes to set the right ambience for their gaming sessions with just one click.

Prepare for VR with MSI
To fully enjoy the immersive worlds of Virtual Reality, high-performance hardware is required. MSI GeForce GTX 1060 and above graphics cards deliver perfect performance for a smooth VR experience. The MSI Gaming App now features a function to optimize the user’s PC for VR performance.

 

Source: MSI

Podcast #446 - Radeon RX 580, Open Benchtable, DAN Cases, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: Editorial | April 20, 2017 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: video, Z270X, tinker board, t-mobile, RX 580, radeon, podcast, Open BenchTable, mini-itx, logitech, keyboard, gigabyte, G413, DAN Cases, asus, A4-SFX

PC Perspective Podcast #446 - 04/20/17

Join us for Radeon RX 580 review, Open Benchtable and DAN cases,  Intel Rumors 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:24

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 1:11:00 ASUS Launches the Tinker Board in North America
  1. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Great deal on a modular Rosewill Glacier Series 500W
  2. Closing/outro
 

Source:

I knew him; IDF, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2017 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: Intel, idf

It is not a post-PC world but it is now officially a post-IDF world as Intel announces they are too diverse to host such a PC-centric conference.  It was 20 years ago today that the first IDF was held in Beijing and Intel announced some time ago the cancellation of this years event in China, however until today they had still planned to hold their scheduled event in San Francisco.  The rationale offered is Intel's expansion into FPGAs, Optane storage, IoT devices, wireless communications and other fields pushes them beyond the scope traditionally represented at the IDF.  Why cancellation of the event in preference of broadening the scope is not explained in their announcement.  Ars Technica has related links here.

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"While the company earlier said that it would not have a Chinese event, the San Francisco IDF was still being planned, albeit with a "new format," in the early months of 2017. It appears now that this 'new format' is in fact 'non-existence.'"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Be Quiet's hefty Dark Base 900 cases

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 21, 2017 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: XL-ATX, e-atx, dark base pro 900, Dark Base 900, be quiet!

The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is impressively large, standing 577x243x585mm (22.7x9.6x23"), supporting even the largest of motherboard model.  That size also allows for some impressive cooling options, radiators of up to 420mm in length can be installed in both the front and top of the case.  The case ships with three be quiet! SilentWings 3 fans installed, for those who opt to forego watercooling and it is also worth mentioning the filter on the bottom of the case slides out from the front.  The side panel is made of tempered glass on the $250 Pro model, the non-Pro has a steel side panel which reduces its cost to $200 and both feature a Qi wireless charging area.  Drop by Modders-Inc for a closer look.

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"When it comes to system building, size equals convenience with large full-tower cases offering plenty of room to work with. Since the case market is extremely crowded and competitive however, simply creating a large case for the sake of creating a large case is not enough. If it does not have the right set of features and is not designed …"

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders-Inc

Windows 10 Cloud ("S"?) Performance Targets Leaked

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2017 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: windows 10 cloud, windows 10, uwp, microsoft

The upcoming version of Windows that can only install applications from the Windows Store, Windows 10 Cloud, will be Microsoft’s latest attempt at locked-down devices, like Windows RT was back in the Windows 8.x days. The goal is to take on the Chromebook market, which is similarly locked down to Google Chrome and Google Play Store apps (although Google allows developer sideloading). To be fair to Windows 10 Cloud, it can be upgraded to Home or Pro to run Win32 applications for a fee, although that somewhat flies in the face of “streamlined, simpler experience” if you acknowledge a monetary value in unlocking the features you claim those users theoretically don’t want.

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Image Credit: Windows Central

Preamble and opinion aside, it would seem that Microsoft is hoping to push OEMs into making decent devices. They are recommending a minimum specification of quad-core Celeron, 4GB of RAM, >40 Wh battery, and “fast eMMC or SSD” storage. This last note about “fast” eMMC amuses me, because it not-so-subtly telegraphs that cheap laptops, despite having technically solid state memory, don’t have a noticeably better experience than typical hard drives.

Microsoft is expected to discuss the initiative on May 2nd at their #MicrosoftEDU event.

G.Skill Releasing DDR4 4333 MHz Memory Kit, Working on DDR4 4500 MHz

Subject: Memory | April 22, 2017 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: z270, G.Skill Trident Z, G.Skill, dual channel, ddr4

For enthusiasts with a need for speed, G.Skill unleashed a new DDR4 memory kit recently that ratchets up two 8GB modules to 4333 MHz out of the box. The new 16GB kit will soon take the top spot in the company’s Trident Z series and will come with the traditional brushed metal heat spreader with red accent.

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The new 16 GB (2 x 8GB sticks) Trident Z memory kit was validated on Intel’s Z270 platform using an Asus ROG Maximus IX Apex motherboard and an overclocked Intel Core i5-7600K. (The processor was clocked at 4200.20 MHz on a x40.0 multiplier and 104.98 MHz bus speed.) The DDR4 kit is running with CAS latencies of 19-19-19-39 and is needs 1.40 volts.

Not content to sit on its laurels, G.Skill is reportedly also working on cranking speeds up even further with a prototype DDR4 kit running at 4400 MHz and a “proof of concept” test of a 16 GB kit running at 4500 MHz. The DDR4-4500 kit is being stress tested while specifications are still under development and it will be “some time” before it is ready for market. G.Skill did manage to at least run Windows and some benchmarks at those RAM clock speeds though using the same Z270 platform listed above (with the Core i5 7600K clocked at 4360.36 MHz on a 108.98 MHz bus and x40.0 multiplier). The benchmark runs reported up to 65 GB/s write speeds, 55 GB/s read speeds, and 52 GB/s copy speeds specifically. DDR4 has come a long way in the speed department to where it is today and apparently still has room to grow.

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Unfortunately, as is the case with most announcements of this nature, no official pricing and availability was mentioned. Looking around online, I would expect the 16GB DDR4-4333 kit to come in somewhere around $280 and be available within the next month or so.

I would love to see what a kit this fast would do for Ryzen as far as alleviating the CCX-to-CCX bottleneck over the Infinity Fabric assuming the Ryzen memory controller can handle those speeds! Also, faster memory has helped AMD’s APUs in the past, so these extremely fast kits that are coming out should pair well with AMD's upcoming Raven Ridge though they will need to come down in price a lot to actually meet the budget of a good budget gaming build (right now with the kits in the $250+ range it would be better to just put the premium into a graphics card – though that kind of defeats the purpose of using the APU heh).

Source: G.Skill

Windows 3.11 in WebVR

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: Windows 3.11, webvr

One of the latest WebVR experiments puts an emulated Windows 3.11 terminal in a virtual space. In it, you can play Minesweeper, Solitaire, and generally mess around. Because it’s a WebVR demo, certain browser, OS, and VR headset combinations will also work, in case you wanted to feel like you were actually in front of a beige box.

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If you’re using it without WebVR, then it will appear as a static 3D scene. Make sure you enable mouse pointer lock, because you will need to use the virtual mouse pointer, not your actual mouse pointer. It will ask you when it’s loaded and focused, but your browser will probably require you to click allow or something.

Source: Metacade

Oculus App Version 1.14 Released

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2017 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift

Oculus has updated their Oculus App to version 1.14. This release has two noteworthy features: full support for 360-degree tracking with three sensors, and the Touch controller can now be used with some, but not all, games that were previously gamepad-exclusive. For the latter, you will need to check with each specific game in the Oculus store, where it will be listed with a “Touch (as gamepad)” tag.

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As for the former, Oculus has been allowing 2- (like the Vive) and 3-sensor setups for 360-degree tracking for a while, but experimentally. They have apparently settled on the three-sensor setup for final support, though. According to their documentation, they recommend that two of the sensors are plugged into USB 3.0 or higher, while leaving the third on USB 2. Specifically, the USB 2-connected sensor will be the one behind the user, with the two USB 3.0 sensors sitting out in front; to visualize this, imagine stereo speakers sitting on either side of your TV, with only one surround sound speaker behind the user. It will be interesting to see how Oculus two-sensor, Oculus three-sensor, and Vive two-sensor compares, especially since the last two are (in the case of Oculus, now) officially supported, but the first one isn’t.

While I don’t currently have a Rift, Oculus apparently delivers updates on a staggered schedule. Don’t be surprised if your system isn’t pushed to the new version immediately.

Source: Oculus

Interesting Blender Updates for Upcoming Versions

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2017 - 02:49 AM |
Tagged: Blender

The Blender Foundation and volunteers have been quite busy, especially over the last few weeks. Two major changes that are prepared for Blender 2.79: near-parity between CUDA and OpenCL, and an implementation of the Disney PBR shader.

Aside: A physically-based (“PBR”) shader allows modeling a bunch of common materials, such as plastics, ceramics, metals, and so forth, using parameters that are independent of lighting. This means that you can reuse the same object and material in all of your scenes, and it will behave like we expect it would given the environment. For instance, PBR materials account for conservation of energy, so objects get shinier as they get smoother, but they also look darker off-axis because less light is being diffusely scattered.

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While it was always possible to render in Cycles with a PBR workflow, you needed to create your own node setup, which typically consisted of about seven or eight elements connected in a specific way. When this new version lands, you will just need to connect the appropriate textures and colors to their corresponding pins in this node. The Disney-based Principled BSDF accounts for albedo (base color), subsurface scattering, metallic, specular, roughness, anisotropic reflections, sheen, clearcoat, index of refraction, and transparency.

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Update (April 21st @ 5:35pm): Blah! I forgot to embed the chart. Here it is.
Image Credit: Blender Foundation

Now we get to “near-parity between CUDA and OpenCL”. According the Blender Foundation, OpenCL can support all features found on CUDA with the exception of correlated multi jitter. This is accompanied by a graph, embed above, showing the RX 480 beat the GTX 1060 in a variety of benchmark scenes. Unfortunately, at the same time, GPU-accelerated rendering in Cycles now requires GCN 2.0 and up, which is the AMD R9 290 and later. Blender will still work on older cards, like the R9 280 or, heck, probably even the Radeon HD 4890, but the final render will need to be done on the CPU.

Blender 2.79 doesn’t have a firm release date, but the code freeze schedule has it expected for some time in either May or June.

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

With the release of Intel Z270 chipset, GIGABYTE unveiled its AORUS line of products. The AORUS branding differentiates the enthusiast and gamer friendly products from other GIGABYTe product lines, similar to how ASUS uses the ROG branding to differentiate their high performance product line. The Z270X-Gaming 8 is one of two "enhanced" boards in the AORUS product line, factory-customized with a Bitspower designed VRM hybrid water block. The board features the black and white branding common to the AORUS product line with the rear panel cover and chipset featuring the brand logos. The board is designed around the Intel Z270 chipset with in-built support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Kaby Lake processor line (as well as support for Skylake processors) and Dual Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2400MHz speed. The Z270X-Gaming 8 can be found in retail with an MRSP of $399.99.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard: four SATA III 6Gbps ports; two SATA-Express 10Gbps ports; two U.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; two RJ-45 GigE ports - an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC and a Rivet Networks Killer E2500 NIC; a Rivet Networks Killer 802.11ac 2x2 Wireless adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; Creative® Sound Core 3D 8-Channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video ports; Intel Thunderbolt 40Gbps support; G-Chill hybrid VRM water block (designed by Bitspower); and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE partnered with Bitspower in designing the integrated cooling solution for the Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard. The integrated VRM hybrid block, dubbed G-Chill by GIGABYTE, can operate with or without coolant. The block itself consists of a nickel-plated copper base plate, an acrylic top plate, a metal overplate, and a plastic cover to give it a unified appearance with the rest of the board components. The inlet and outlet ports are sealed with port covers by default, and are G1/4" threaded for use with any after-market water fittings currently available.

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard!

Windows 10 Releases Target ~September and ~March

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2017 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Now that Microsoft has pushed their third major version of Windows 10, the Creators Update, the company has decided to settle on a six-month rotation. This is similar to how the Ubuntu distribution of Linux pushes updates, although Windows 10 will be targeting September and March rather than Ubuntu’s October and April (and Ubuntu has a different long-term support model, as we’ll discuss below). More importantly, it’s designed to occur at the same time as Office 365 ProPlus updates, so IT departments can certify and roll out both at the same time.

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The previous release cycle was a little… chaotic. The November Update occurred about three and a half months after the initial release, followed almost nine months later by the Anniversary Update. Seven months after that, the Creators Update landed, which brings us to today.

Each version will be supported for eighteen months.

Source: Microsoft
Author:
Manufacturer: Riotoro

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Earlier this year we looked at the Enigma 850W PSU from Riotoro, their first entry into the PC power supply market. Today we are going to take a detailed look at two more power supplies in Riotoro’s new Onyx Series. Formed in 2014 and based in California, Riotoro originally started their PC hardware business with a focus on cases, mice, and LED fans targeted towards the gaming community. They are continuing to expand their product offerings to include two new power supply lines, the Enigma and Onyx Series, along with two liquid CPU coolers and several RGB gaming keyboards.

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Riotoro announced the introduction of the three power supplies last year at Computex 2016: the Enigma 850W, Onyx 750W, and Onyx 650W. All three power supplies were developed in partnership with Great Wall and are based on a new platform designed to hit the sweet spot for practical real-world performance, reliability, and price. The Enigma line kicked off with the 850W unit and the Onyx line will initially be available in 650W and 750W models.

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The main differences between the Enigma Series and the Onyx Series are listed in the table above. The Riotoro Onyx Series power supplies are certified to comply with the 80 Plus Bronze criteria for efficiency, come with semi-modular cables, and both use a quiet 120mm variable speed fan for cooling.

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Riotoro Onyx Series PSU Key Features:

•    650W or 750W Continuous DC output at up to 40°C
•    80 PLUS Bronze level efficiency certification
•    Semi-modular cables
•    Quiet 120mm cooling fan
•    Japanese made bulk (electrolytic) capacitors
•    Compatible with Intel and AMD processors and motherboards
•    Active Power Factor correction with Universal AC input (100 to 240 VAC)
•    Safety protections: OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, and SCP
•    3-Year warranty
•    MSRP: Onyx 650W $64.99 and Onyx 750W $74.99 USD

Please continue reading our review of the new Riotoro Onyx PSUs!!!

Teaching an old star new tricks, the Radeon RX 580

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 18, 2017 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: RX 580, radeon, Polaris, amd, powercolor, red devil

Ryan covered the improvements over the previous Polaris based cards the RX 580 offers, a higher Rated Clock and standardizing memory frequency of all RX 580 models to 8GHz.  That lead to the expected increase in performance compared the the RX 480, in a marketplace somewhat different than what the first Polaris chips arrived in.  Consumers now know what NVIDIA's current generation cards provide in performance and prices have settled as much as can be expected in the volatile GPU market.  Those using cards several generations old may be more receptive to an upgrade than they were with the previous generation, especially as the next large launches are some time off; we shall see if this is true in the coming months.

One particular reason to consider upgrading is VR support, something [H]ard|OCP covers in their review.  The improved speeds do not provide miracles in their VR Leaderboard however they do show improvements in some games such as Serious Sam, with reprojection rates dropping markedly.

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"AMD is launching the AMD Radeon RX 500 series today, and we lead with a custom retail Radeon RX 580 GPU based video card from PowerColor. We’ll take the Red Devil RX 580 Golden Sample video card through the paces and see how it compares to the competition at the same price point."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP