Acer's Predator XB321HK, the highest resolution G-SNYC monitor you can hope for until DP 1.3?

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2016 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: g-sync, Predator XB321HK, acer, 4k, ips

Thanks to DisplayPort 1.2's bandwidth being limited to a maximum of 17.28Gbit/s, shoppers looking for a high end variable refresh rate gaming monitor have a tough choice to make.  Leave aside aspect ratio, colour depth and panel type for the immediate question; do you prefer the higher definition of a 4K display but with a limited maximum refresh rate or will you be satisfied by 1440p or 1080p with a refresh rate that can hit upwards of 200Hz?  The Predator XB321HK chooses path of greater resolution, offering 3840x2160 but with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, on an IPS screen with 4ms grey to grey response time.  If you prefer an MVA ultra-widescreen with a higher resolution, perhaps investigate the Acer Z35, if the XB321HK is closer to what you are looking for check Hardware Canucks full review here.

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"With a sensible 4K form factor, a G-SYNC module and a stunning IPS panel, Acer's Predator XB321HK is the stuff gaming monitor dreams are made of. Unfortunately its refresh rate is limited by today's interface technology."

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The 4K version of the MSI GS73 6RF Stealth Pro

Subject: Mobile | November 7, 2016 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: msi, GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, 4k, GTX 1060M

You have two choices of display when purchasing an MSI GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, a 120Hz 1080p which is neither FreeSync nor GSYNC or a 4K display.  It is the 4K version which Kitguru has reviewed, powered by the mobile version of the GTX 1060, an i7-6700HQ and 16GB of DDR4-2400.  Storage is handled by a PCIe based M.2 SSD as well as a HDD for extra storage.  Kitguru loved the look of the panel but unfortunately the 1060M just doesn't have the power to game at that resolution; it also came with more third party software than they would have liked but that did not ruin it for them.  Check out the full review here.

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"MSI have been producing a fine line of gaming-oriented laptops for the last couple of years and today we look at their latest super slimline 17 inch model which features a Core i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics, and a 4k IPS panel along with Steelseries keyboard and Killer networking."

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Source: Kitguru

Google Shows Off $69 4K HDR Capable Chromecast Ultra at #madebygoogle Event

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2016 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: google, chromecast, media streaming, 4k, hdr, google home

During Google's #madebygoogle event (embedded below), the company introduced a number of new pieces of hardware including a new Chromecast. The Chromecast Ultra is aimed at owners of 4K televisions and supports both 4K Ultra HD and HDR content from the likes of Netflix, YouTube, and other apps. Like previous models, the Chromecast takes input from Android, iOS, Mac OSX, and Windows devices that "cast" media to the TV. Additionally, it can be paired with Google Home where users can use voice commands such as "Ok, Google. Play the sneezing panda video on my TV."

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The Chromecast Ultra is a small circular puck with a Micro USB port and a short flexible flat HDMI cable that is permanently attached to the device. The Micro USB port is used for both power and data. One neat feature about the new Chromecast Ultra is that the power adpater has an Ethernet port on it so that users can hook the streaming device up to their wired network for better performance (important for streaming 4K content). Not to worry if you rely on WiFi though because it does support dual band 802.11ac.

Google has not yet revealed what hardware is under the hood of its new 4k capable Chromecast, unfortunately. They did release pricing information though: the Chromecast Ultra will be $69 and is "coming soon". If you are interested you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available.

Source: Google

ASUS Announces the ROG GX800 4K G-SYNC Gaming Laptop with GTX 1080 SLI

Subject: Mobile | August 19, 2016 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: UHD, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebook, laptop, GX800, GTX 1080, gaming, g-sync, asus, 4k

ASUS has announced perhaps the most impressively-equipped gaming laptop to date. Not only does the new ROG GX800 offer dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics in SLI, but these cards are powering an 18-inch 4K display panel with NVIDIA G-SYNC.

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Not enough? The system also offers liquid cooling (via the liquid-cooling dock) which allows for overclocking of the CPU, graphics, and memory.

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"ROG GX800 is the world’s first 18-inch real 4K UHD gaming laptop to feature the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 in 2-Way SLI. It gives gamers desktop-like gaming performance, silky-smooth gameplay and detailed 4K UHD gaming environments. The liquid-cooled ROG GX800 features the ROG-exclusive Hydro Overclocking System that allows for extreme overclocking of the processor, graphics card and DRAM. In 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike Ultra benchmark tests, a ROG GX800 equipped with the Hydro Overclocking System scored 76% higher than other gaming laptops in the market.

ROG GX800 comes with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology and has plug-and-play compatibility with leading VR headsets to allow gamers to enjoy truly immersive VR environments. It has the MechTAG (Mechanical Tactile Advanced Gaming) keyboard with mechanical switches and customizable RGB LED backlighting for each key."

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Specifics on availability and pricing were not included in the announcement.

Source: ASUS

Thecus Announces N4810 4-Bay NAS with 4K Video Output

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay

Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.

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Image credit: Thecus

"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.

Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."

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Image credit: Thecus

The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.

Source: Thecus
Subject: Systems, Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Introduction and Specifications

Dell's premium XPS notebook family includes both 15 inch and 13 inch variants, and ship with the latest 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors and all of the latest hardware. But the screens are what will grab your immediate attention; bright, rich, and with the narrowest bezels on any notebook courtesy of Dell's InfinityEdge displays.

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Since Ryan’s review of the XPS 13, which is now his daily driver, Dell has added the XPS 15, which is the smallest 15-inch notebook design you will find anywhere. The XPS 13 is already "the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet", according to Dell, giving their XPS series a significant advantage in the ultrabook market. The secret is in the bezel, or lack thereof, which allows Dell to squeeze these notebooks into much smaller physical dimensions than you might expect given their display sizes.

But you get more than just a compact size with these XPS notebooks, as the overall quality of the machines rivals that of anything else you will find; and may just be the best Windows notebooks you can buy right now. Is this simply bluster? Notebooks, like smartphones, are a personal thing. They need to conform to the user to provide a great experience, and there are obviously many different kinds of users to satisfy. Ultimately, however, Dell has produced what could easily be described as class leaders with these machines.

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Continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 13 and 15 notebooks!!

New AMD Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 GPU Details Emerge

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: rumor, Polaris, opinion, HDMI 2.0, gpu, gddr5x, GDDR5, GCN, amd, 4k

While Nvidia's Pascal has held the spotlight in the news recently, it is not the only new GPU architecture debuting this year. AMD will soon be bringing its Polaris-based graphics cards to market for notebooks and mainstream desktop users. While several different code names have been thrown around for these new chips, they are consistently in general terms referred to as Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. AMD's Raja Kudori stated in an interview with PC Perspective that the numbers used in the naming scheme hold no special significance, but eventually Polaris will be used across the entire performance lineup (low end to high end graphics).

Naturally, there are going to be many rumors and leaks as the launch gets closer. In fact, Tech Power Up recently came into a number of interesting details about AMD's plans for Polaris-based graphics in 2016 including specifications and which areas of the market each chip is going to be aimed at. 

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Citing the usual "industry sources" familiar with the matter (take that for what it's worth, but the specifications do not seem out of the realm of possibility), Tech Power Up revealed that there are two lines of Polaris-based GPUs that will be made available this year. Polaris 10 will allegedly occupy the mid-range (mainstream) graphics option in desktops as well as being the basis for high end gaming notebook graphics chips. On the other hand, Polaris 11 will reportedly be a smaller chip aimed at thin-and-light notebooks and mainstream laptops.

Now, for the juicy bits of the leak: the rumored specifications!

AMD's "Polaris 10" GPU will feature 32 compute units (CUs) which TPU estimates – based on the assumption that each CU still contains 64 shaders on Polaris – works out to 2,048 shaders. The GPU further features a 256-bit memory interface along with a memory controller supporting GDDR5 and GDDR5X (though not at the same time heh). This would leave room for cheaper Polaris 10 derived products with less than 32 CUs and/or cheaper GDDR5 memory. Graphics cards would have as much as 8GB of memory initially clocked at 7 Gbps. Reportedly, the full 32 CU GPU is rated at 5.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power and runs at a TDP of no more than 150 watts.

Compared to the existing Hawaii-based R9 390X, the upcoming R9 400 Polaris 10 series GPU has fewer shaders and less memory bandwidth. The memory is clocked 1 GHz higher, but the GDDR5X memory bus is half that of the 390X's 512-bit GDDR5 bus which results in 224 GB/s memory bandwidth for Polaris 10 versus 384 GB/s on Hawaii. The R9 390X has a slight edge in compute performance at 5.9 TFLOPS versus Polaris 10's 5.5 TFLOPS however the Polaris 10 GPU is using much less power and easily wins at performance per watt! It almost reaches the same level of single precision compute performance at nearly half the power which is impressive if it holds true!

  R9 390X R9 390 R9 380 R9 400-Series "Polaris 10"
GPU Code name Grenada (Hawaii) Grenada (Hawaii) Antigua (Tonga) Polaris 10
GPU Cores 2816 2560 1792 2048
Rated Clock 1050 MHz 1000 MHz 970 MHz ~1343 MHz
Texture Units 176 160 112 ?
ROP Units 64 64 32 ?
Memory 8GB 8GB 4GB 8GB
Memory Clock 6000 MHz 6000 MHz 5700 MHz 7000 MHz
Memory Interface 512-bit 512-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 384 GB/s 384 GB/s 182.4 GB/s 224 GB/s
TDP 275 watts 275 watts 190 watts 150 watts (or less)
Peak Compute 5.9 TFLOPS 5.1 TFLOPS 3.48 TFLOPS 5.5 TFLOPS
MSRP (current) ~$400 ~$310 ~$199 $ unknown

Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 5.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)

Another comparison that can be made is to the Radeon R9 380 which is a Tonga-based GPU with similar TDP. In this matchup, the Polaris 10 based chip will – at a slightly lower TDP – pack in more shaders, twice the amount of faster clocked memory with 23% more bandwidth, and provide a 58% increase in single precision compute horsepower. Not too shabby!

Likely, a good portion of these increases are made possible by the move to a smaller process node and utilizing FinFET "tri-gate" like transistors on the Samsung/Globalfoundries 14LPP FinFET manufacturing process, though AMD has also made some architecture tweaks and hardware additions to the GCN 4.0 based processors. A brief high level introduction is said to be made today in a webinar for their partners (though AMD has come out and said preemptively that no technical nitty-gritty details will be divulged yet). (Update: Tech Altar summarized the partner webinar. Unfortunately there was no major reveals other than that AMD will not be limiting AIB partners from pushing for the highest factory overclocks they can get).

Moving on from Polaris 10 for a bit, Polaris 11 is rumored to be a smaller GCN 4.0 chip that will top out at 14 CUs (estimated 896 shaders/stream processors) and 2.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power. These chips aimed at mainstream and thin-and-light laptops will have 50W TDPs and will be paired with up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory. There is apparently no GDDR5X option for these, which makes sense at this price point and performance level. The 128-bit bus is a bit limiting, but this is a low end mobile chip we are talking about here...

  R7 370 R7 400 Series "Polaris 11"
GPU Code name Trinidad (Pitcairn) Polaris 11
GPU Cores 1024 896
Rated Clock

925 MHz base (975 MHz boost)

~1395 MHz
Texture Units 64 ?
ROP Units 32 ?
Memory 2 or 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 5600 MHz ? MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 179.2 GB/s ? GB/s
TDP 110 watts 50 watts
Peak Compute 1.89 TFLOPS 2.5 TFLOPS
MSRP (current) ~$140 (less after rebates and sales) $?

Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 2.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)

Fewer details were unveiled concerning Polaris 11, as you can see from the chart above. From what we know so far, it should be a promising successor to the R7 370 series even with the memory bus limitation and lower shader count as the GPU should be clocked higher, (it also might have more shaders in M series mobile variants versus of the 370 and lower mobile series) and a much lower TDP for at least equivalent if not a decent increase in performance. The lower power usage in particular will be hugely welcomed in mobile devices as it will result in longer battery life under the same workloads, ideally. I picked the R7 370 as the comparison as it has 4 gigabytes of memory and not that many more shaders and being a desktop chip readers may be more widely familiar with it. It also appears to sit between the R7 360 and R7 370 in terms of shader count and other features but is allegedly going to be faster than both of them while using at least (on paper) less than half the power.

Of course these are still rumors until AMD makes Polaris officially, well, official with a product launch. The claimed specifications appear reasonable though, and based on that there are a few important takeaways and thoughts I have.

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The first thing on my mind is that AMD is taking an interesting direction here. While NVIDIA has chosen to start out its new generation at the top by announcing "big Pascal" GP100 and actually launching the GP104 GTX 1080 (one of its highest end consumer chips/cards) yesterday and then over the course of the year introducing lower end products AMD has opted for the opposite approach. AMD will be starting closer to the lower end with a mainstream notebook chip and high end notebook/mainstream desktop GPU (Polaris 11 and 10 respectively) and then over a year fleshing out its product stack (remember Raja Kudori stated Polaris and GCN 4 would be used across the entire product stack) and building up with bigger and higher end GPUs over time finally topping off with its highest end consumer (and professional) GPUs based on "Vega" in 2017.

This means, and I'm not sure if this was planned by either Nvidia or AMD or just how it happened to work out based on them following their own GPU philosophies (but I'm thinking the latter), that for some time after both architectures are launched AMD and NVIDIA's newest architectures and GPUs will not be directly competing with each other. Eventually they should meet in the middle (maybe late this year?) with a mid-range desktop graphics card and it will be interesting to see how they stack up at similar price points and hardware levels. Then, of course once "Vega" based GPUs hit (sadly probably in time for NV's big Pascal to launch heh. I'm not sure if Vega is Fury X replacement only or even beyond that to 1080Ti or even GP100 competitor) we should see GCN 4 on the new smaller process node square up against NVIDIA and it's 16nm Pascal products across the board (entire lineup). Which will have the better performance, which will win out in power usage and performance/watt and performance/$? All questions I wish I knew the answers to, but sadly do not!!

Speaking of price and performance/$... Polaris is actually looking pretty good so far at hitting much lower TDPs and power usage targets while delivering at least similar performance if not a good bit more. Both AMD and NVIDIA appear to be bringing out GPUs better than I expected to see as far as technological improvements in performance and power usage (these die shrinks have really helped even though from here on out that trend isn't really going to continue...). I hope that AMD can at least match NV in these areas at the mid range even if they do not have a high end GPU coming out soon (not until sometime after these cards launch and not really until Vega, the high end GCN GPU successor). At least on paper based on the leaked information the GPUs so far look good. My only worry is going to be pricing which I think is going to make or break these cards. AMD will need to price them competitively and aggressively to ensure their adoption and success.  

I hope that doing the rollout this way (starting with lower end chips) helps AMD to iron out the new smaller process node and that they are able to get good yields so that they can be aggressive with pricing here and eventually at the hgh end!

I am looking forward to more information on AMD's Polaris architecture and the graphics cards based on it!

Also read:

I will admit that I am not 100% up on all the rumors and I apologize for that. With that said, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on AMD's upcoming GPUs and what you think about these latest rumors!

The UHD Alliance finally gets around to creating a standard

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: UHD, 4k

With companies at CES showing off 8K displays it seems that the standards body for UHD felt the need to actually get around to setting a standard for what constitutes a 4K display.   Like USB.org or the IEEE, the UHD Alliance is a body which is supposed to set standards on the various devices we buy so we can know the minimum specifications of the product, unfortunately the UHD Alliance seems to suffer from input lag.  As you would expect, a resolution of 3840 x 2160 is required to bear the "Ultra HD Premium" logo, as well as 10-bit colour and minimum support for colour representation and dynamic range specifications.  The standard applies to both manufacturers and content providers such as Netflix.  You can read more about this slightly tardy standard over at The Register.

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"The UHD Alliance has delivered its promised spec setting down minimum standards for what constitutes 4K. While 4K of some kind has been around for a decade, it was only in 2015 that the industry decided standards were needed."

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Source: The Register

CES 2016: Monoprice Announces 21:9 and 4K Displays

Subject: Displays | January 7, 2016 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: ultra wide, monoprice, monitor, ips, display, CES 2016, CES, 4k, 21:9

Monoprice announced a pair on monitors today at CES, beginning with their new ultra-wide 21:9 display.

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The monitor features a 3440 x 1440 IPS panel with a 75 Hz refresh rate, but the big story with this monitor is going to be cost, as Monoprice will be selling this for $499 – the lowest we’ve seen for a 3440 x 1440 by far. (LG is currently the only supplier of these curved 34-inch 3440x1440 IPS panels, so this should be the same panel found in similar monitors on the market.)

Monoprice also announced a new 27-inch 4K display at CES, and this USB-C monitor uses an LG IPS panel with 99% Adobe RGB color support. Also $499, the monitor offers 100 watt USB-C power delivery for device charging for laptops and other devices, as well as USB 3.0 connectivity. (The display was not available to photograph.)

It was a point of emphasis that Monoprice is only using A+ panels for these new monitors (which means they are the same grade as the big name brands), and the company really seems to be working to establish itself in the display space. Both of these monitors will be available in Q1 2016.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Monoprice

What is this, a GPU for Seattle fans? The MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 8, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK, 980 Ti, 4k

[H]ard|OCP recently wrapped up a review of the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK and are now revisiting the GPU, focusing on the performance at 4K resolutions.  The particular card that they have tops out at 1340MHz base and a 1441MHz boost clock which results in an in-game frequency of 1567MHz.  For comparison testing they have tested their overclocked card against the SEA HAWK at the factory overclock and a regular 980 Ti at 4k resolution.  Read on to see if this watercooled 980 Ti is worth the premium price in the full review.

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"Our second installment with the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK focuses in on gameplay at 4K and how viable it is with the fastest overclocked GTX 980 Ti we have seen yet. We will be using a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti to show the full spectrum of the 980 Ti’s performance capabilities and emphasize the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK’s value."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP