CES 2014: Gigabyte R9 290X and GTX 780 Ti WindForce Enthusiast Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, gigabyte, R9 290X, gtx 780 ti, windforce

While the world still waits for stock of the custom cooled R9 290X and R9 290 cards from AMD's partners to show up in stores, Gigabyte was showcasing its WindForce models on the floor at CES 2014.

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The Gigabyte GV-R929XOC-4GD is an R9 290X graphics cards that includes the company custom designed WindForce, triple fan cooler.  The cooler is rated at 450 watts of dissipation, but hopefully you'll never actually be drawing that from this single GPU graphics card.  The core clock on this model will be slightly overclocked, going from the stock 1000 MHz to 1040 MHz.  Hopefully we'll have a review sample soon so we can verify that it maintains that overclocked clock speed throughout the gaming workloads.

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Using the very same cooler is the GV-N78TGHZ-3GD based on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti GPU.  In fact, without my tell you which card was which, you'd likely have no way to tell them apart without looking at the PCB more closely. Gigabyte will be setting the base clock on this model at 1085 MHz and the Boost clock at 1150 MHz.  

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The cards will also include a back plate on the rear of the PCB to help protect the components and ICs while also strengthening the board during shipping general use.  Gigabyte says these cards will only carry and MSRP that is $20-50 more than the reference cards so look for each of them this month!

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PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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CES 2014: Gigabyte BRIX MAX is Haswell based Android NAS Device

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, gigabyte, brix, brix max, haswell, Android, NAS

While browsing the Gigabyte suite at CES I came across a very interesting new product from Gigabyte that falls into the Brix family.  The Brix Max is a larger version of the Brix SFF chassis (taller) that includes support for four 2.5-in hard drives.  Powered by a 4th Generation Intel Core (Haswell) Core i5-4250U processor, this system is aimed towards the NAS market.  In particular, those that want tiny NAS devices.

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With a total fluid capacity of 1.2 liters (please don't fill your Brix with liquid...), the Brix Max includes a USB flash port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports.  Maybe more surprising is the fact that this unit was running Android and marks the first time we have seen a Haswell platform running the OS.

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Gigabyte demoed the Brix Max powering a handful of networked devices and providing media content and backup storage for all sorts of other operating system.  I am still not sure what kind of software was running on the Android OS to facilitate the NAS functionality but the Max includes the ability to set users, partition different share locations and more.  Hopefully we'll be able to get a sample in at the offices to test out and let our readers know how an Android-based NAS can perform.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

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CES 2014: AMD Supported in SteamOS "Out of the Box". Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9 in SteamOS Public Stable Branch

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2014 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: SteamOS, CES 2014, CES, amd

The Steam platform prides itself on benefiting from the many billions of dollars spent by the PC industry in-fighting. Two-and-a-half of the consoles seem to realize that they cannot keep up with the constant churn as the PC trots along its exponential curve. They, now more than ever, align themselves with our industry instead of running their own R&D treadmill. Each of these companies now license the efforts of AMD.

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Simply put, consoles struggle because their business model plans on a big loss followed by a few years of rest to have a chance of breaking even. Slow and steady wins the race.

SteamOS is a console that, instead of seeing how much it can justify locking down, goes the other way. So, when the prototype units were announced, it felt really weird to see a fairly wide selection of components... from a set of Intel processors and NVIDIA discrete graphics cards. AMD and Intel were a bit late for one reason or another.

But only just a bit. An updated AMD graphics driver, the Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9, has just been integrated into the SteamOS public stable branch. This driver is expected to fix tearing, overlay performance, in-game performance, and "malfunctioning return to desktop".

The driver will also be released on AMD.com soon.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

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CES 2014: Gigabyte Aorus Brand Launches with X7 Slim Gaming Notebook

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: x7, gigabyte, gaming notebook, CES 2014, CES, aorus

An interesting development that popped out of CES this year was the announcement of a new brand from Gigabyte, Aorus, focused on gaming peripherals and a gaming notebook.  The gaming notebook was particularly impressive as it was able to pack in a ton of high-end hardware in an ultra-slim design that should rival the likes of MSI and Razer.  

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The Aorus X7 weighs in at 6.4 pounds and just 0.9 inches think but is powered by an Intel Haswell 4th Generation processor and a pair of GTX 765M GPUs running in SLI.  Storage options include a pair of mSATA ports for RAID-0 and a 2.5in hard drive (up to 1TB).  

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For connectivity the X7 includes USB 3.0 x3, USB 2.0 x2, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort,  and an SD card reader.  Four SODIMM memory slots allow for upgrades up to 32GB.  For a slim gaming machine and an estimated 3DMark score of P7393, the X7 looks damned enticing. 

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The Aorus X7 will be available this month at Newegg.com and should be priced starting at around $1500.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

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CES 2014: ARM and Huawei Show First True 8-Core Smartphone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, arm, Huawei, mediatek, 8 core

While clearly the need for an 8-core smartphone is still a debate, the enablement of hardware partners like Huawei, Mediatek and ARM are creating an ecosystem that enables the software developer to stretch their legs and innovate.  While wandering around CES we ran into the Huawei G750 smartphone, the first to be powered by a true 8-core (octa-core) processor.

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This phone likely isn't going to find its way to the US market but the design was solid and the user interface, as you would expect, was snappy and smooth.  This processor from Mediatek, the MT6592, has the ability to run all 8 Cortex-A7 cores at the same time when the needs arise.  Rather than go with the big.LITTLE design route Mediatek instead include 8 of the "little" cores in this design.

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Each core is capable of clocking in at 2.0 GHz (though this Huawei model seems to cap at 1.7 GHz) and MediaTek claims that this allows support for 4K high bit-rate H.264 video playback as well as H.265 and VP9 playback.  

The concern of a "core race" in the mobile market is definitely real though you have to be impressed by the drive for hardware vendors to improve capabilities.  Now we just need to be sure that the software ecosystem and the power management designs are keeping up.

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PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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CES 2014: MSI Previews the Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, msi, 290x, radeon, amd, Lightning, R9 290X

The MSI Lightning series of graphics cards continues to be one of the best high end enthusiast lines available as we have seen with our reviews of the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning and the R7970 Lightning.  At CES this week in Las Vegas the company was showcasing the upcoming card in the series based on the latest AMD Hawaii GPU.

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The MSI R9 290X Lightning features an updated triple cooler design and heat pipe cooler that appears to be truly impressive.  If the weight of the card is any indication, this GPU should be running considerably cooler than most of the competition.  

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MSI has included a dual BIOS option, updated Military Class 4 components and hardware but be prepared to sacrifice three slots of your motherboard to this monster.  Power requirements are interesting with a pair of 8-pin power connectors and a single 6-pin connector, though the 6-pin is going to optional.

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The power of the card still comes from AMD's latest R9 290X Hawaii GPU, so you can be sure you'll have enough gaming power for just about any situation.  We implored MSI to make sure that the overclocks of this card, probably in the 1050-1100 MHz range, are maintained consistently through extended game play to avoid any awkward variance discussions. 

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Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

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CES 2014: Oculus Rift Prototype... Because Seeing Dots is a Symptom of NOT Throwing Up?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 03:35 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, CES, CES 2014

Ryan awaited his Oculus Rift eagerly right from the time he placed his Kickstarter donation. He was able to use the device for a few minutes at QuakeCon and last year's CES but he wanted to game for longer sessions to get feel for it. As it turned out, a few minutes in to an Unreal Tournament 3-based demo, he felt the onset of motion sickness.

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Image Credit: Oculus via Ars Technica

The company was at this year's CES with a new prototype called "Crystal Cove". This version looks somewhat like a mocap suit on your face, with various white dots to be recognized by a camera. The thought seems to be that motion capture techniques are lower latency and maybe even more precise than the motion sensors alone. That, combined with the OLED screen's new policy of quickly presenting frames for only a couple of milliseconds, is supposed to make a world of difference in terms of blurriness and nausea.

There are still concerns with the Oculus as a shipping product, however. When your eyes are covered by screens you are subjecting yourself to sensory deprivation. It may be immersive but it does not replace the reality that your body exists within. The cat may be at your feet even if it is not in your virtual world. This will obviously be less of an issue when combined with the Omni treadmill (or similar device) because it keeps your body in a defined space.

Still, advances seem to happen even more quick than a yearly basis. What do you expect the state of Oculus will be at next year's CES?

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: Kyle Orland (Ars Technica) Tries Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: CES 2014, CES, valve, Steam Controller

Valve has garnered a lot of hype leading up to this CES. This event was the launch of Steam Machines from their OEM partners. The line-up for their keynote speech was intense, Ryan tweeting in the crowd a whole half of an hour before the speech. Finally, at 7:59 pm EST, Gabe begun to speak... and taking questions by 8:02. Included below is a dramatization of the event.

Yes, I know, "Simpsons did it..."

... South Park probably did it too.

As previously reported, thirteen OEM designs were presented and available to discuss their product. Steam controllers came up during the question period and brought out a pretty big detail: while Valve will be making the Steam Controller, other manufacturers will be allowed to make their own. Currently release date and expected price are still unknown.

Some journalists actually got their hands on the official Steam Controller and they, naturally, shared their thoughts. Kyle Orland of Ars Technica was one of them and his opinion was quite literally split down the middle. On the one hand, pun fully intended, aiming felt about as comfortable and effective as a mouse. On the other hand, movement in legacy mode was aggravating without any tactile feedback signaling where any of the eight directions (up, down, left, right, and the diagonals) start and end.

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Again, this opinion only stands for shooter-style games in "Legacy Mode". Developers can use the controller more effectively when they design their title for the actual API. Legacy mode maps controller input to mouse and keyboard events and signals.

He also had other comments (positive and negative) about the button layout and other aspects of the controller. It might be worth checking out if you keep in mind: it is early times and he only had a few minutes to base his opinion.

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: Corsair Launches Graphite Series 760T and 730T Full Tower Gaming Cases

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | January 9, 2014 - 02:18 AM |
Tagged: graphite series, full tower, corsair, CES 2014, CES

In addition to the Mini-ITX Obsidian 250D, Corsair is launching two full tower gaming cases under its Graphite series. The Graphite 760T and 730T are full tower cases constructed of steel and aluminum that incorporate many enthusiast-friendly features. The 760T and 730T share the same form factor and general design including two hinged side panels, tool-less drive bays, and support for air and water cooling options. Note that the 730T has metal side panels while the 760T has two windowed side panels and adds a fan controller. Further, the 760T comes in two color options (black and arctic white) while the 730T is only available in black.

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The pair of full tower cases join the existing mid-tower 230T in the Graphite Series. The 760T and 730T are large 22.4" x 9.7" x 22.2" cases that offer up lots of cooling, expansion, storage, cable management, and motherboard support options. The case has a large mesh front panel that has two LED-lit AF140L 140mm  fans and three 5.25" drive bays. On the top edge of the case is the front IO panel which includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two audio jacks, and power and reset buttons. The two side panels are hinged at the back and open using a handle at the front. The left side panel is transparent to show off your hardware while the opposite side panel is opaque. In all, the Graphite 760T and 730T are attractive cases with straight lines and roughly octagonal shape. The case is lifted above the ground using large case feet.

Internally, the case supports 9 PCI slots, three 5.25" drive bays, six 3.5" (or 2.5") hard drives in two modular (and removable) drive cages, four side-mounted 2.5" SSDs, seven cooling fans, ATX motherboards, and ATX power supplies. Users should have no problem fitting a beefy multi-GPU setup into the new Graphite cases.

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When it comes to cooling, the Graphite 760T and 730T support up to seven fans. Corsair includes two LED-lit AF140L 140mm fans in the front and a single AF140L fan in the rear that come pre-installed. From there users can add three 140mm or 120mm fans to the top and a single 120mm fan to the bottom of the case. Users that opt for water cooling can instead install a 360mm radiator in the top of the case and a 280mm radiator to the bottom of the case. The 760T includes a fan speed switch that switches between 12V and 7V power to control the speed (and noise) of the cooling fans. The cheaper 730T does not include this integrated fan controller, however.

Both the 760T and 730T will be available in February from Corsair's authorized distributors and will include a 2 year warranty. The Graphite 760T has an MSRP of $179.99 for the black version and $189.99 for the arctic white SKU. On the other hand, if you can live without windowed side panels, a fan controller, and only one color choice, the black Graphite 730T has an MSRP of $139.99.

Personally, I find it to be a neat looking case that I am considering for my next build assuming the reviews hold up on the build quality. What do you think about the newest entrants to Corsair's Graphite Series?

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

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Source: Corsair

CES 2014: ADATA shows new PCIe SSD and unique OTG flash drive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: PCIe SSD, OTG, CES 2014, CES, adata

ADATA will be rolling out their own PCIe SSD, this solution opting for the SF3700 controller due out later this year. Their demo produced the same 1.8 Gb/sec sequential read speed we saw over at Kingston earlier today:

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While the above solution is SF3700-equipped M.2 adapted to standard PCIe by a ustom PCB, ADATA was also showing an operational PCB which had the components direct mounted:

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Note the heat sink to help dissipate the heat produced by the SF3700. We hope the heat output will be optimized as development of this new controller progresses.

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We also saw a unique spin on the OTG-style USB flash drive we'd been seeing all around CES this year:

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Instead of having a common center containing the flash memory, they have made the center section into more of an adapter to bridge the super-small USB drive (right) across to the micro-USB port (left). An advantage of this format is that you could use the same adapter to bridge pretty much any standard USB flash drive over to an Android device.

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