Computex 2015: ASRock Shows Off Skylake-Based Z170 Gaming Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 10, 2015 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, mini ITX, Intel Skylake, computex 2015, computex, asrock

ASRock had some nice looking motherboards on display at Computex, but one in particular caught my attention. The ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac is a Mini ITX motherboard ready to support Intel's upcoming Skylake processor, DDR4 memory, and a slew of speedy connectivity options.

Asrock Z170 Gaming-ITXac Mini ITX Motherboard.jpg

The LGA 1151 socket is situated in the middle of the compact board and is surrounded by a 6+2 power phase, two DDR4 memory slots, the PCH with red heatsink and ASRock Gaming logo, a mini PCI-E slot with pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi card, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot snuggled along the bottom edge. Storage support includes four SATA 3 ports and a single SATA Express port in the bottom right corner. Several websites are also reporting that this board has an Ultra M.2 port as well, which may be located on the underside of the board like existing Mini ITX motherboard implementations (for space reasons). Unfortunately, I was not able to dig up any photos of the back so we will have to wait for reviews to confirm this. 

As far as external I/O, the motherboard has the following ports on the rear panel:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs (two HDMI and one DisplayPort)
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN (from Intel)
  • 3 x Analog audio output
  • 1 x Optical audio output

In all, this pint-size motherboard packs a punch and will make for a powerful small form factor gaming PC when paired with a Skylake CPU and dedicated graphics card! Of course, the all-important pricing and availability were not announced at the show.

Source: VR-Zone

The Connector Formerly Known as SFF-8639 - Now Called U.2

Subject: Storage | June 8, 2015 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: U.2, ssd, SFF-8639, pcie, NVMe, Intel, computex 2015, computex

Intel has announced that the SSD Form Factor Working Group has finally come up with a name to replace the long winded SFF-8639 label currently applied to 2.5" devices that connect via PCIe.

u2-nvme-ssd.jpg

As Hardwarezone peeked in the above photo, the SFF-8639 connector will now be called U.2 (spoken 'U dot 2'). This appropriately corresponds with the M.2 connector currently used in portable and small form factor devices today, just with a new letter before the dot.

U.2-M.2.jpg

An M.2 NVMe PCIe device placed on top of a U.2 NVMe PCIe device.

Just as how the M.2 connector can carry SATA and PCIe signaling, the U.2 connector is an extension of the SATA / SAS standard connectors:

Demartek_SFF-8639.png

Not only are there an additional 7 pins between the repurposed SATA data and power pins, there are an additional 40 pins on the back side. These can carry up to PCIe 3.0 x4 to the connected device. Here is what those pins look like on a connector itself:

360x240xSFF-8639PCIe.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.aYB-7jt4Ab.jpg

Further details about the SFF-8639 / U.2 connector can be seen in the below slide, taken from the P3700 press briefing:

IntelP3700-SFF8639_w_600.png

With throughputs of up to 4 GB/sec and the ability to employ the new low latency NVMe protocol, the U.2 and M.2 standards are expected to quickly overtake the need for SATA Express. An additional look at the U.2 standard (then called SFF-8639), as well as a means of adapting from M.2 to U.2, can be found in our Intel SSD 750 Review.

Source: Hardwarezone

Computex 2015: Corsair Shows SF600 SFX Power Supply

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2015 - 08:51 AM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFX, SFF, SF600, PSU, power supply, corsair, computex 2015, computex

Corsair has shown its first SFX form-factor PSU at Computex, the SF600.

corsair_sf600.jpg

Image credit: Tom's Hardware

True to its name the SF600 is a 600W PSU, and it features a fully modular design and will carry an 80 PLUS Gold certification. According to the report from Tom's Harware Corsair is using a 92 mm fan with the SF600, slightly larger than the 80 mm fans found in standard SFX power supplies, but smaller than the 120 mm fans that SilverStone has been using in its SFX-L form-factor PSUs.

corsair_sf600_2.jpg

Image credit: Tom's Hardware

This PSU was secretly powering the new Corsair Bulldog living room PC, also shown at Computex. Naturally there was no announcement on pricing or availability for this new PSU, but we'll keep you posted if anything official is announced.

Computex 2015: PowerColor Debuts Devil HDX Sound Card

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: sound card, powercolor, devil hdx, computex

PowerColor is best known as an add-in board (AIB) partner of AMD who has also branched out into cases and power supplies. This year, they have introduced a new product category: sound cards. The PowerColor Devil HDX connects via PCIe and can take up one or two slots, depending on whether the user wants to install its included (!!) daughterboard with analog (4 x 3.5mm) surround outputs and a microphone input. Without the daughterboard, the card has a quarter-inch headphone jack, two analog RCA jacks for stereo, an RCA SPDIF output, and an optical SPDIF output. The main card is covered in a full EMF shield, because it's inside a computer.

powecolor-2015-devilhdx-face.jpg

The card includes switchable OP-AMPs, high quality capacitors, a Cmedia CM8888 audio processor, and a Wolfson WM8741 DAC. This configuration is capable of driving headphones with up to 600 Ohm impedance. The signal-to-noise ratio is a little better on the RCA jacks, because they're not amplified, but not by much. The RCA jacks are rated at 124 dB SNR, while the headphones are rated at 120 dB SNR with the supplied OP-AMPs. PowerColor wrote a driver interface, called “Xear”, which includes ASIO 2.2 support.

powecolor-2015-devilhdx-ports.jpg

The PowerColor Devil HDX doesn't have a release date but Tom's Hardware, who spoke with the company, said it should be “over the coming months”. They also said it will retail for $159, which is apparently $50 less than their competition.

Source: PowerColor

Computex 2015: G.Skill Enters PSU Market With New Ripjaws Series Power Supplies

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 5, 2015 - 02:15 AM |
Tagged: modular psu, G.Skill, computex 2015, computex, 80+ platinum

In addition to teasing a new line of DDR4 memory, G.Skill also announced a new line of Ripjaws branded power supplies. So far, the lineup includes four models offering wattages from 750W to 1,250W. The PS750G and PS850G are rated 80 PLUS Gold while the PS850P and PS1250P are rated 80 PLUS Platinum which is nice to see (Platinum status requires 92% efficiency while the Gold models hit 90% efficiency).

GSkill Ripjaws 80Plus PSUs.jpg

The new Ripjaws PSUs are fully modular designs using all japanese capacitors and reportedly high quality components. G.Skill is using a 140mm fan for cooling that is able to spin down to zero at low loads to reduce noise levels. Safety features include support for over current, under voltage, and short circuit protection among others (OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, SCP, OTP). Beyond that, detailed specifications have yet to be revealed. I have reached out to G.Skill to inquire about the source or OEM of these power supplies, and will update the article if they are willing to comment at this time.

Pricing and availability are also unknown at this time. G.Skill appears to be spreading its wings this year as it branches out further into other segments of the PC market. The company even has headsets and keyboards now! Are you ready to rip into these new Ripjaws PSUs? (Figuratively, of course, unless your Allyn or Lee!)

Source: G.Skill

Computex 2015: Enermax Shows Off New Highly Efficient 550W Digital Fanless PSU

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2015 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, Fanless PSU, enermax, computex 2015, computex, atx

Enermax has a new power supply on the market that is fully modular, fanless, and digital to boot. the new 550W PSU falls under the company's DigiFanless brand and looks to be perfect for enthusiasts wanting a silent PC.

The Enermax EDF550AWN is the first 550W power supply that is both fanless and supports digital monitoring and control. The 80 PLUS Platinum rated PSU is fully modular and supports both single and multiple +12V rail configurations (user-selectable, +12V1 and +12V2 are rated at 30 amps).

Enermax 550W Digital Fanless Power Supply.jpg

There are no fans here, just lots of ventilation for passive cooling. Enermax officially rates the power supply at 40°C (104°F) maximum operating temperature while delivering the full 550W ouptut power, but in talking with Maximum PC at Computex the company stated that in its testing lab they were able to maintain the maximum output at up to 50°C temperatures before the PSU needed to shut down.

The digital nature of the PSU is related to the ZDPMS (Zero Delay Power Monitoring System) technology which allows users to monitor and control the hardware using software running on the PC it is installed in. The application displays, in real time, the total output power, efficiency, temperature, and individual rail performance. Users can also input their $/KWh electricity costs into the TCO calculator to figure out how much it costs to run their PC and the CO2 footprint. Users are also able to use the ZDMS to adjust the current output and warning notification thresholds.

Enermax ZDPMS Digital Fanless PSU Monitoring and Control Software.png

Maximum PC was on site at Computex and was able to see a demonstration of the PSU monitoring software.

Enermax has included logic to shut down the power supply in the event of overheating as well as the usual fare of safety features (OCP, OVP, UVP, OPP, OTP, SCP & SIP) They even included a bracket that locks the AC cable to the back of the power supply.

From the specifications and this review from ocaholic, the 550W Digifanless PSU is a highly efficient silent PSU with some useful extras that would be perfect for a silent gaming PC, HTPC, or audio engineering PC. It is available now for around $210 from online retailers. Looking on Newegg, you can even get it for 25% off using the promo code 25YRCELEBRATE.

Source: Maximum PC

Computex 2015: Fractal Design Launches Mini ITX Node 202 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2015 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: SFX PSU, SFF, node 202, mini ITX, HTPC case, fractal design, computex 2015, computex

Fractal is showing off several new products at Computex, but the one that caught my eye was the new Node 202 which is a small form factor Mini ITX case perfect for the living room. The thin case is all black with a metal texture finish, rounded corners, and diagonal ventilation grilles along the sides and top. The 10.2 liter capacity case measures 377mm x 88mm x 332mm (including case feet) and can accommodate SFX power supplies, Mini ITX motherboards, and a dedicated graphics card.

Fractal Design Node 202.jpg

The front of the case has two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks in the bottom left corner next to the power button. Large filtered vents are located on the right, top, and bottom of the case while the left side has a thin grill along the bottom. Needless to say, there is plenty of room for airflow and the case would do well with both air cooled and fanless systems. Users can mount the case horizontally or vertically using an included stand. Interestingly, the Node 202 divides the case into two separate chambers to isolate the graphics card from the CPU, motherboard, and power supply to facilitate cooling.

Internally, the Node 202 has room for a Mini ITX or Thin Mini ITX motherboard with CPU coolers up to 56mm tall, a 130mm SFX power supply, and a dual slot graphics card up to 310mm in length. Users can install up to two 120mm fans in the GPU chamber. Storage support tops out at two 2.5" hard drives or solid state drives (SSDs).

Fractal Design Node 202 Internals .jpg

Fractal Design is also offering a version of the Node 202 bundled with its Integra SFX 450W power supply. The 80+ Bronze power supply will come with custom length cables and connectors designed specifically for the Node 202. It is covered by a 3 year warranty.

The PSU-less Node 202 will have a MSRP of $79.99 while the Node 202 with bundled PSU will be $139.99. Both models will be available soon in the US.

Podcast #352 - GTX 980 Ti, News from Computex, AMD Fiji Leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2015 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: zotac, video, titan x, thunderbolt 3, SSD 750, podcast, ocz, nvidia, msi, micron, Intel, hbm, g-sync, Fiji, computex, amd, acer, 980 Ti

PC Perspective Podcast #352 - 06/04/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 980 Ti, News from Computex, AMD Fiji Leaks 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 2:02:45

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Computex, Dawg
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Computex 2015: Synaptics Touches Up The Space Bar With SmartBar Technology

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: touch, synaptics, smartbar, opinion, gaming, computex 2015, computex

Synaptics revealed more details on its SmartBar technology today at Computex. The human interface company most known for its trackpads is looking to expand its reach into keyboards. Specifically, SmartBar is technology that will add touch input functionality to the keyboard spacebar. Using the technology, OEMs can integrate capacitive touch sensors into the spacebar allowing for several unique and productivity boosting gestures. 

Synaptics SmartBar Capacitive Spacebar.jpg

The SmartBar spacebar can be broken up into five logical (touch sensitive areas) buttons each of which can be associated with user created macros using a bundled macro editing utility. Alternatively, users can enable touch gestures. Synaptics is touting the ability to use quick left and right swipe motion to edit text by moving the cursor back and forth word by word though a document as well as the ability to use a two thumb pinch gesture to zoom in and out on an image or document. The touch input would also be useful to gamers who want to future increase their actions per minute in RTS games or even something as simple as shifting gears or switching weapons in racing and first person games respectively.

Along the lines of gaming, it turns out that Thermaltake under it's Tt eSports line will be the first adopter of this SmartBar technology, and while Synaptics did not reveal any exact products I am looking forward to see what Thermaltake does with the technology in its future gaming keyboards. This could be a gimmick, or it could really take off and be a must have feature depending on how well it is implemented in both hardware and software. It does make sense though; the spacebar is the natural resting place for your thumbs, so it should not take too much effort to incorporate touch gestures (literally at your fingertips...) to improve your game or work efficiency. A simple but promising idea for sure.

From the press release:

“Desktop PCs still represent a sizeable portion of the PC market, especially in the commercial segment, but most desktop users have been left behind in terms of next-generation interfaces such as touch,” said Tom Mainelli, VP of Devices & Displays at International Data Corporation (IDC). “Companies are always looking for ways to help drive employee efficiency, and feature-rich, touch-enabled keyboards represent a straightforward, affordable way to help increase worker productivity.”

The SmartBar technology is available now to OEMs, but we might have to wait until CES to see actual products offering touch sensitive spacebars.

What do you think of the technology, and would you use it for gaming?

Source: Synaptics

Computex 2015: Micron Announces 16nm TLC For Consumer SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, micron, flash, computex 2015, computex, 16nm

Chugging right along that TechInsights Flash Roadmap we saw last year, Micron has announced the TLC extension to their 16nm flash memory process node.

Micron Roadmap.png

While 16nm TLC was initially promised Q4 of 2014, I believe Micron distracted themselves a little with their dabbles into Dynamic Write Acceleration technology. No doubt wanting to offer ever more cost effective SSDs to their portfolio, the new TLC 16nm flash will take up less die space for the same capacity, meaning more dies per 300mm wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost/GB of consumer SSDs.

micron_128gb_16nm_nand_flash.jpg

Micron's 16nm (MLC) flash

The Crucial MX200 and BX100 SSDs have already been undercutting the competition in cost/GB, so the possibility of even lower cost SSDs is a more than welcome idea - just so long as they can keep the reliability of these parts high enough. IMFT has a very solid track record in this regard, so I don't suspect any surprises in that regard.

Full press blast appears after the break.