Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2017 - 07:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vpro, SFF, sbc, modular computer, Intel, computex, compute card
Launched earlier this year at CES, Intel’s credit card sized Compute Cards will begin shipping in August. Intel and its partners used Computex to show off the Compute Card itself along with prototype and concept devices based around the new platform.
techtechtech opened up the Core M3-7Y30 equipped Compute Card at Computex.
As a quick refresher, the Compute Card is a full PC in a small card shaped form factor measuring 95mm x 55mm x 5mm that features an Intel SoC, DDR3 RAM, solid state storage, wireless connectivity, and standardized I/O (one USB-C and a proprietary Intel connector sit side by side on one edge of the card). The small cards are designed to slot into devices that will use the Compute Card as their brains for smart home automation, appliances, industrial applications, smart whiteboards, and consumer products such as tablets, notebooks, and smart TVs.
At its Computex press events, Intel revealed details on specifications. The initial launch will include four Compute Card SKUs with two lower end and two higher end models. All four of the cards are equipped with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and either 64GB of eMMC or 128GB SSD storage. The two lower end SKUs use Intel Wireless-AC 7265 while the more expensive models have Intel Wireless-AC 8265 (both are 2x2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2). Processor options from top to bottom include the 7th generation Intel i5-7Y57, Core m3-7Y30, Pentium N4200, and Celeron N3450. Enterprise customers will appreciate the TPM support and security features. Reportedly, the Compute Cards will start at $199 for the low-end model and go up to $499+ for the higher end cards.
Intel partners Dell, HP, and Lenovo were reportedly not ready to show off any devices but will launch Compute Card compatible devices at some point. ECS, Foxconn, LG Display, NexDock, Sharp, and others did have prototype devices at Computex and have announced their support for the platform. The Compute Card concept devices shown off include tablets, laptops, All In Ones, digital signage, kiosks, and a monitor stand dock that lets the user add their own monitor and have an AIO powered by a Compute Card. Other uses include ATMs, smart whiteboards, mini PCs for desktop and HTCP uses, and docks that would allow business user sand students to have a single PC with storage that they could take anywhere and get work done. Students could plug their Compute Card into a laptop shell, computer lab PC, whiteboard for presentations, their home dock, and other devices..
(My opinions follow:)
It is an interesting concept that has been tried before with smartphones (and Samsung is currently trying with its S8 and docks) but never really caught on. The promise and idea of being able to easily upgrade a smart TV, computer, smart appliance, home security system, ect without having to replace the entire unit (just upgrading the brains) is a great one, but thus far has not really gained traction. Similarly, the idea of a single PC that you carry everywhere in your pocket and use whatever display you have handy has been promised before but never delivered. Perhaps Intel can drive this modular PC idea home and we could finally see it come to fruition. Unexpectedly absent from the list of partners is Asus and Samsung. Samsung I can understand since they are trying to do their own thing with the S8 but I was a bit surprised to see Asus was not out front with a Compute Card support as they were Intel's partner with its Zenfone and they seem like a company with a good balance of R&D and manufacturing power but nimble enough to test out new markets. The other big PC guys (Dell, HP, and Lenovo) aren't ready with their devices yet either though so I guess we will just have to see what happens in terms of support and adoption. The other thing that could hold the Compute Card back is that Intel will reportedly allow manufacturer lock-in where devices and Compute Cards can be made to only work with hardware from the same manufacturer. Restricting interoperability might hurt the platform, but it might aslo creat less confusion for consumers with the onus being on each manufacturer to actually support an upgrade path I guess.
What are your thoughts on the Compute Card?
Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2017 - 11:22 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: X399, x370, x299, wwdc, video, shield, podcast, plex, pixel, macbook, Mac Pro, Logitech G413, Lian-Li, gigabyte, computex, asus, asrock, apollo lake, 3D XPoint
PC Perspective Podcast #453 - 06/07/17
Join us for talk about continued Computex 2017 coverage, WWDC '17, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:10:50 Honey, I shrunk the silicon
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Memory | June 7, 2017 - 08:49 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: G.Skill, overclocking, ddr4, x299, liquid nitrogen, computex
Amidst the flood of new product announcements at Computex, G.Skill was busy hosting an overclocking competition where its memory was used to in a record breaking overclock that saw DDR4 memory clocked at an impressive 5,500 MHz. Professional overclocker Toppc broke his 5,000 MHz record from last year with the new overclock that was accomplished on Intel’s X299 platform.
Toppc used a MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard, Intel Core X-series processor, G.Skill DDR4 memory built using Samsung 8Gb ICs, and, of course, copious amounts of liquid nitrogen! Looking at the HWBot page, it appears Toppc specifically used an Intel Core i7-7740K (Kaby Lake X) processor and 8GB G.Skill Trident Z RGB RAM (CL 14-14-14-14 stock). Both the CPU and memory modules were cooled with liquid nitrogen for the overclock. The CPU-Z screenshot shows the processor running 1 cores / 2 threads with a 133.06 bus speed. It also shows an 8x multiplier and core speed of 1064.46 but I am questioning whether or not it is accurately reading the Kaby Lake X part correctly as running at those speeds wouldn’t need such exotic cooling – perhaps it is needed to run at the 133.06 bus speed and to keep the memory controller from overheating (or melting hehe).
G.Skill is currently pushing the envelope on standard air cooled DIMMs with a prototype kit hitting 4,800 MHz. The company's CVP Tequila Huang stated in a press release:
“We are seeing amazing overclocking potential for these newly released hardware and we believe that more overclocking benchmark records will be achieved very soon by professional overclockers worldwide."
I am interested to see if it will have any additional headroom in the memory overclocking department and if so how long the 5.5 GHz world record will stand.
Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 02:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, SFF, barebones, nuc, kaby lake, Intel, Optane, computex
MSI recently introduced a new member of its Cubi small form factor barebones PC lineup. The Cubi 3 is a fanless PC that is build around Intel’s Kaby Lake-U processors and will arrive sometime this fall.
The Cubi 3 is a bit larger than its predecessors, but with the larger enclosure MSI was able to achieve a fanless design for up to (U series) Core i7 processors. The SFF PC sports a brushed aluminum case that shows off the top of the CPU heatsink through vents that run around the top edge of the case. There are two flat antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooh integrated into the left and right sides of the case.
FanlessTech reports that the MSI Cubi 3 will sport 15W Kaby Lake-U processors from low end Celerons up to Core i7 models. These parts are dual core parts with HyperThreading (2c/4t) with 3 MB or 4 MB of L3 cache and either HD (615 or 620) or Iris Plus (640 or 650) integrated graphics. The processor is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots for up to 32 GB of 2133 MHz memory, an M.2 2280 SSD (there is even Intel Optane support), and a single 2.5” drive.
The Cubi 3 has an audio jack and two USB 3.0 ports up front, and what appears to be two USB 2.0 ports on the left side. Rear I/O includes one HDMI, one DisplayPort, two more USB 3.0, two Gigabit Ethernet, two COM ports, and one power jack for the 65W AC power adapter.
There is no word on pricing yet, but it is slated to begin production in August with availability this fall.
It is always nice to see more competition in this niche fanless SFF space, and the little box would not look out of place on a desk or even in the living room. What are your thoughts?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | June 6, 2017 - 06:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: hdr, sdr, nvidia, computex
Dmitry Novoselov of Hardware Canucks saw an NVIDIA SDR vs HDR demo, presumably at Computex based on timing and the intro bumper, and noticed that the SDR monitor looked flat. According to his post in the YouTube comments, he asked NVIDIA to gain access to the monitor settings, and they let him... and he found that the brightness, contrast, and gamma settings were way off. He then performed a factory reset, to test how the manufacturer defaults hold up in the comparison, and did his video based on those results.
I should note that video footage of HDR monitors will not correctly describe what you can see in person. Not only is the camera not HDR, and thus not capable of showing the full range of what the monitor is displaying, but also who knows what the camera’s (and later video processing) exposure and color grading will actually correspond to. That said, he was there and saw it in person, so his eyewitness testimony is definitely valid, but it may or may not focus on qualities that you care about.
Anywho, the test was Mass Effect: Andromeda, which has a native HDR profile. To his taste, he apparently prefers the SDR content in a lot of ways, particularly how the blown out areas behave. He claims that he’s concerned about game-to-game quality, because there will be inconsistency between how one color grading professional chooses to process a scene versus another, but I take issue with that. Even in standard color range, there will always be an art director that decides what looks good and what doesn’t.
They are now given another knob, and it’s an adjustment that the industry is still learning how to deal with, but that’s not a downside to HDR.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 05:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tr4, Threadripper, computex, asrock, amd
In case you need just a bit more Computex news, ASRock is jumping into the high-end AMD desktop platform with two new X399 motherboards using the massive TR4 socket for AMD Threadripper. The new premium motherboards are part of the company’s Professional Gaming and Taichi series and are packed with workstation friendly features.
HardwareCanucks spotted the new boards on the show floor.
Both motherboards arare clad in black and silver colors with the professional gaming having some red accents and the Taichi having a stylized gear shaped chipset heatsink. The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming and X399 Taichi both feature eight DDR4 DIMM slots supporting quad channel memory, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, three Ultra M.2 (x4 PCI-E or SATA drives), one U.2 port, and eight SATA 6Gbps ports. The boards are powered by a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin and 4-pin EPS12V and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector to provide stable slot power to PCI-E devices like graphics cards. The Professional Gaming reportedly has a 10+2 power phase feeing the CPU and memory, and while there is no confirmation that the Taichi also has this it should be close if not the same power phase design.
In addition to aesthetic design choices, the boards differ in networking and audio with the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sporting Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 and the X399 Taichi have Purity Sound 4. The Threadripper motherboards both support Wi-Fi and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports. The X399 Professional Gaming adds a 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface that is not present on the Taichi, however.
Rear I/O on the TR4 X399 motherboards include eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (including one Type-C), dual (Intel) Gigabit Ethernet, six audio connections (5 analog, one digital), two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and a single PS/2 port. The X399 Professional Gaming also has 10GbE port.
Unfortunately, no word on pricing or availability.
We will have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but it appears that while ASRock did not go quite as crazy with the power input as Asus and it’s ROG Zenith Extreme, the company has some nice-looking motherboards. Hopefully they perform as well as they look and enable enthusiasts to push the envelope in terms of hardware and clockspeeds when overclocking. If you are interested in these motherboards, Computerbase.de has several more photos of them on their site.
If you are looking for something a "bit" smaller, ASRock also unveiled the Mini ITX X370 Gaming-ITX/ac that uses the X370 chipset on the AM4 (Ryzen) platform.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 11:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, bitfenix, mid tower, E-ATX Case, RGB LED, gaming, tempered glass
BitFenix had several new PC cases on display at its Computex booth, but the one that caught my eye was the sub-$100 Enso mid-tower that has some premium features including a large tempered glass side panel, RGB LED and fan controllers, removable filters, and various cable management features. The BitFenix Enso has a clean design that out of the box limits the RGB to a nice looking front panel while allowing enthusiasts to go crazy with aftermarket LED strips and LED fans if they wish.
The BitFenix Enso mid-tower (Image credit: KitGuru)
The new Enso chassis measures 8.2" x 19.2" x 14.4" (209 x 487 x 442mm).and is clad in all black with clean lines and edges that strikes a balance between boxy and gaudy (heh). The front is a smooth panel that slightly angles out (no external drive support here) with RGB LEDs in all four corners. The front I/O is up top with two USB 3.0, two audio, and power and reset buttons. The left side is almost entirely comprised of a tempered glass side panel that is held on by black thumbscrews.
The top has a mesh grill with support for two 120mm fans along with a removable magnetic fan filter. There is also room for a 120mm fan in the back and two 120mm fans up front (where there is also a removable filter that pulls out from the left side of the front panel). There is not enough room up top for a water cooling radiator up top, but there is plenty of room for up to a 240mm radiator in the front.
The bottom of the case has a compartment for the bottom mounted up to 220mm power supply (which also has a removable dust filter) and two 3.5” drives along with space to hide excess cables. This area is covered by a simple black shroud that should make cable management easier.
Dropping support for external drive bays and extra 3.5” bays, BitFenix is able to support E-ATX motherboards, long graphics cards (up to 320mm, their demo used an Asus Strix GTX 1080), and water cooling radiators in a compact mid-tower case. BitFenix states it is possible to mount a 360mm radiator in the front, but it the specifications suggest if you would be limited to two fans with matching vents.
Lots of tie downs and space to hide cables! (Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
The right side panel is blank, and removing it reveals the back of the motherboard tray. There is room for three 2.5” SSDs with one behind the motherboard and two behind the front fans. The motherboard tray has a large CPU cutout, lots of spots to tie up cables, and rubber grommets for passing cables through to the motherboard and graphics card. Having move of the components sitting behind the motherboard tray means that making a clean looking build will be a bit easier (no drive power cables to hide).
The front panel RGB LEDs are “addressable” which is to say that they can be controlled via the controller at the back or via software where BitFenix is working with Asus to allow its RGB LEDs to be controlled with its Aurora software. There is also a fan controller that looks to accept PWM and control 3-pin fans from that signal. The case is also compatible with LED fans and LEDs strips (the BitFenix demo used strips from Asus that could be controlled with the Asus software). As far as the front panel, you can choose a color or activate a gentle pulsing color change mode that cycles through the colors of the rainbow.
(Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
Out of the box, the BitFenix Enso will have the front panel LEDs and controllers, but users will need to purchase fans and/or LED strips separately. This is not necessarily bad news though because it allows enthusiasts to pick the fans and LEDs they want (or don’t want), and it also allows the case to hit the budget sub-$100 market with lots of nice DIY-friendly features.
According to a BitFenix representative, the BitFenix Enso will arrive around the end of Q3 2017 or towards the beginning of Q4 with an MSRP of $79.
It looks like an impressive budget case, and if they can hit that $79 target it should be a great value that will let you show off your DIY build without breaking the bank! From the videos at Computex, I am really liking the design as well. What are your thoughts?
Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 08:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, amd
Asus is showing off its flagship motherboard for the AMD X399 Threadripper platform at Computex this week, and it is quite the RGB laden beast. The Asus Republic of Gamers Zenith Extreme measures 12” x 10.9” and is powered by a 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS12V, and a molex connector for extra PCI-E power. The power is conditioned by an 8+2 power phase for the CPU and both banks of DDR4 memory. Overclocking should not be an issue, and even appears to be encouraged with the inclusion of usual array of various ROG overclocking features (LN2 and overclocking buttons, an OLED readout, on board start and reset buttons, ect)
The top half of the board is dominated by the massive TR4 socket and the eight DIMM slots that surround it (128GB maximum). Above the CPU sits the power phases under a small aluminum heat spreader that has a heat pipe to connect it to the heasink above the rear IO connectors. The bottom half of the board holds four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot, one M.2 slot under the X399 chipset heatsink, one U.2 connector, and six SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also a riser board by the rightmost DIMM slot that reportedly holds two M.2 22110 connectors.
Networking support includes Intel I211-AT Gigabit Ethernet, ROG 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11AD Wi-Fi. Further, the Zenith Extreme features SupremeFX audio (S1220 codec and ESS901BQ2C DAQ). Fans of RGB will be happy to see Asus is using RGB LEDs on the I/O and chipset heatsinks as well as a configurable OLED display on the I/O heatsink.
Rear I/O includes two USB 2.0, 12 USB 3.1 Gen 1, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps, one Type-A and one Type-C), and six audio ports. There are also external antenna connectors for the built-in Wi-Fi.
This is one monster of a motherboard, and it should allow users to take full advantage of AMD’s Threadripper processor. Unfortunately, there is no word on exact pricing or availability beyond that it is expected sometime in August following the estimated launch date of Threadripper.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 06:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, Lian-Li, LCS, copper radiator, copper, computex, cinsys, AIO
Guru3D made an interesting find at Lian-Li's Computex booth this year where they managed to take photos of a new all in one (AIO) liquid cooler that sports an all copper loop. Specifically, the company was showing off a new Lian-Li branded liquid cooler from Cinsys with a 240mm radiator. The "X-R240 Expandable water cooling heat radiating system" features a raw copper radiator surrounded by a metal shroud (reportedly aluminum) that houses 120mm fan mounts and a pump, large removable tubing, and a thin nickel plated copper CPU water block.
Lian-Li X-R240 expandable water cooler. (Image credit: Guru3D)
Looking at the photos from Guru3D, the Lian-Li X-R240 AIO certainly looks classy and should perform fairly well with the copper block and copper radiator (which is nice to see in an AIO where aluminum is common). The large tubing appears to be fairly long enabling the radiator to be placed up to or in the front of a mid-tower case, though I am curious how flexible it will be in a smaller case in tight quarters (if I am remembering my watercooling correctly, the larger diameter should mean it will be less likely to kink though). Further, it looks like the tubing is removable and users will be able to expand the loop to add additional blocks and/or radiators which is nice though you should be careful to avoid adding non-copper (aluminum/silver/ect) components to the Lian-Li loop. Angled and/or swivel barbs on the CPU blocks would have been nice as well since the straight barbs on the thin CPU block could make installation more difficult.
The raw copper is a nice aesthetic touch, though once it is installed in your case and sitting behind fans it is going to be hard to see and Guru3D does note that over time the copper will oxidize and discolor. Still, it might be useful for modders to get that steam punk look and feel. Thankfully it looks like there is plastic (and maybe foam) separating the copper radiator from the aluminum shell/shroud though it's less of an issue since the outside of the radiator isn't going to be submerged in water (hopefully!).
The company will reportedly be releasing other models beyond the 240mm shown at Computex presumably by the same OEM (Cinsys). A 360mm radiator and some GPU blocks would be nice to see! Hopefully Morry or Sebastian can get one in for testing soon!
What are your thoughts on Lian-Li using raw copper? Do you prefer plated copper?
Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 02:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini ITX, computex, asrock, amd, AM4
ASRock officially announced the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITXmotherboard at Computex. With the AMD AM4 socket and X370 chipset, the motherboard is ready for a Ryzen processor or Bristol Ridge APU (though at this point, it might be prudent to wait for Raven Ridge).
The new motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connector that drives a digital eight phase VRM setup. The AM4 CPU socket is surrounded by two DDR4 DIMM slots, a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and four SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also one Ultra M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4) slot for solid state drives. ASRock includes 7.1 channel (Realtek ALC 1220) audio along with Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet. There is also support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.3 with two external antenna connectors on the back panel.
Speaking of rear I/O, the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x HDMI
- 3 x USB 3.0 Type-A
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
- 5 x Analog audio
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
Small form factor enthusiasts have been waiting for this board for awhile since it was first teased. Fortunately, they will not have long to wait with several websites reporting from Computex that the new Mini ITX motherboard will be available within the month for around $160 MSRP. (There is reportedly also going to be a B350-based variant which may come in a bit cheaper.)
I am looking forward to the reviews on this one! Are you planning a SFF Ryzen build?
- BIOSTAR Launches First Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboards
- BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen
- Computex 2017: ASRock Shows Mini-ITX Intel X299 with the X299E-ITX Motherboard