A substantial upgrade for Thunderbolt

Today at Computex, Intel took the wraps off of the latest iteration of Thunderbolt, a technology that I am guessing many of you thought was dead in the water. It turns out that's not the case, and this new set of features that Thunderbolt 3 offers may in fact push it over the crest and give it the momentum needed to become a useable and widespread standard.

First, Thunderbolt 3 starts with a new piece of silicon, code named Alpine Ridge. Not only does Alpine Ridge increase the available Thunderbolt bandwidth to 40 Gbps but it also adds a native USB 3.1 host controller on the chip itself. And, as mobile users will be glad to see, Intel is going to start utilizing the new USB Type-C (USB-C) connector as the standard port rather than mini DisplayPort.

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This new connector type, that was already a favorite among PC Perspective staff because of its size and its reversibility, will now be the way connectivity and speed increases this generation with Thunderbolt. This slide does a good job of summarizing the key take away from the TB3 announcement: 40 Gbps, support for two 4K 60 Hz displays, 100 watt (bi-directional) charging capability, 15 watt device power and support for four protocols including Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, USB and PCI Express.

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Protocol support is important and Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C will be able to connect directly to a DisplayPort monitor, to an external USB 3.1 storage drive, an old thumb drive or a new Thunderbolt 3 docking station. This is truly unrivaled flexibility from a single connector. The USB 3.1 controller is backward compatible as well: feel free to connect any USB device to it that you can adapt to the Type-C connection.

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From a raw performance perspective Thunderbolt 3 offers a total of 40 Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth, twice that of Thunderbolt 2 and 4x what we get with USB 3.1. That offers users the ability to combine many different devices, multiple displays and network connections and have plenty of headroom.

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With Thunderbolt 3 you get twice as much raw video bandwidth, two DP 1.2 streams, allowing you to run not just a single 4K display at 60 Hz but two of them, all over a single TB3 cable. If you want to connect a 5K display though, you will be limited to just one of them.

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For mobile users, which I think is the area where Thunderbolt 3 will be the most effective, the addition of USB 3.1 allows for charging capability up to 100 watts. This is in addition to the 15 watts of power that Thunderbolt provides to devices directly - think external storage, small hubs/docks, etc.

Continue reading our preview of the new Thunderbolt 3 technology!!

Rivet Networks Announces Killer Wireless-AC 1535

Subject: Networking, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: msi, killer nic, killer, computex 2015, computex, 802.11ac

Killer Networking has developed several networking solutions, focused on gamers, over the last decade or so. Ryan reviewed their first product way back in 2006, and he found it had some merit but struggled when quantifying it, especially to the price tag that it bore. Many years later, Qualcomm picked them up and their technology found a few design wins, especially with Gigabyte motherboards. They also branched out into wireless networking, a segment that undeniably could benefit from innovation. They are also, now, under the Rivet Networks brand, which is listed as an “Authorized Design Center” for Qualcomm.

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Today, they are announcing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Networking Adapter. This brings their technology to the 802.11ac standard. It includes features like DoubleShow Pro, which allows Windows to balance network traffic between wireless and wired networks. It also allows the user to monitor their wireless traffic, even providing an interface to throttle or outright disable certain applications from using the internet. They are mostly promoting their “ExtremeRange” technology, which uses the MU-MIMO standard of 802.11ac, along with beamforming and two signal amplifiers, to provide high bandwidth at longer ranges.

The Killer Wireless-AC 1535 has received a few design wins, this time with MSI. It will be available in the MSI GT72 and MSI GT80 gaming laptops, as well as the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard. Thankfully, they are not adopting MSI's love of uppercase letters.

Computex 2015: Intel Announces Quad-Core Broadwell for Desktop, Mobile

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 11:10 AM |
Tagged: Intel, computex 2015, computex, Broadwell

Earlier this morning you saw us post a story about MSI updating its line of 20 notebooks with new Broadwell processors. Though dual-core Broadwell has been available for Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s for some time already, today marks the release of the quad-core variations we have been waiting on for some time. Available for mobile designs, as well as marking the very first Iris Pro graphics implementation for desktop users, Broadwell quad-core parts look to be pretty impressive.

Today Intel gives to the world a total 10 new processors for content creators and enthusiasts. Two of these parts are 65 watt SKUs in LGA packaging for use by enthusiasts and DIY builders. The rest are BGA designs for all-in-one PCs and high performance notebooks and include both 65 watt and 47 watt variants. And most are using the new Iris Pro Graphics 6200 implementation.

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For desktop users, we get the Core i7-5775C and the Core i5-5675C. The Core i7 model is a quad-core, HyperThreaded CPU with a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a max Turbo clock of 3.7 GHz. It's unlocked so that overclockers and can mess around with them in the same way do with Haswell. The Iris Pro Graphics 6200 can scale up to 1150 MHz and rated DDR3L memory speeds are up to 1600 MHz. 6MB of L3 cache, a 65 watt TDP and a tray price of $366 round out the information we have.

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The Core i5-5675C does not include HyperThreading, has clock speed ranges of 3.1 GHz to 3.6 GHz and only sees the Iris Pro scale to 1100 MHz. Also, it drops from 6MB of L3 cache to 4MB. Pricing on this model will start a $276.

These two processors mark the first time we have seen Iris Pro graphics in a socketed form factor, something we have been asking Intel to offer for at least a couple of generations. They focused on 65 watt TDPs rather than anything higher mostly because of the target audience for these chips: if you are interested in the performance of integrated graphics then you likely are pushing a small form factor design or HTPC of some kind. If you have a Haswell-capable motherboard then you SHOULD be able to utilize one of these new processors though you'll want a Z97 board if you are going to try to overclock it.

From a performance standpoint, the Core i7-5775C will offer 2x the gaming performance, 35% faster video transcoding and 20% higher compute performance when compared to the previous top-end 65 watt Haswell part, the Core i7-4790S. That 4th generation part uses Intel HD Graphics 4600 that does not include the massive eDRAM that makes Iris Pro implementations so unique.

For mobile and AIO buyers, Intel has a whole host of new processors to offer. You'll likely find most of the 65 watt parts in all-in-one designs but you may see some mobile designs that go crazy and opt for them too. For the rest of the gaming notebook designs there are CPUs like the Core i7-5950HQ, a quad-core HyperThreaded part with a base clock of 2.9 GHz and max Turbo clock of 3.8 GHz inside a TDP of 47 watts. The Iris Pro Graphics 6200 will scale from 300 to 1150 MHz so GPU performance should basically be on par with the desktop 65-watt equivalent. Pricing is pretty steep though: starting at $623.

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These new processors, especially the new 5950HQ, offer impressive compute and gaming performance.

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Compared to the Core i7-5600U, already available and used in some SFF and mobile platforms, the Core i7-5950HQ is 2.5x faster in SPECint and nearly 2x faster in a video conversion benchmark. Clearly these machines are going to be potent desktop replacement options.

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For mainstream gamers, the Iris Pro Graphics 6200 on 1920x1080 displays will see some impressive numbers. Players of League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and WoW will see over 60 FPS at the settings listed in the slide above.

We are still waiting for our hardware to show up but we have both the LGA CPUs and notebooks using the BGA option en route. Expect testing from PC Perspective very soon!

Computex 2015: ECS Announces New LIVA Core and LIVA X2 Mini-PCs

Subject: Systems | June 2, 2015 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: mini PC, LIVA X2, LIVA Core, LIVA, intel core m, ECS, computex 2015, computex, fanless

ECS has announced two new LIVA fanless mini-PC models, including a new "Core" version with an Intel Broadwell Core M SoC.

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Here are the full specs for the LIVA Core:

Platform: Intel Broadwell Core M-5Y10C SoC
Memory: DDR3L 4GB
Storage: 1x 80G/120G M.2 SSD
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 4x USB 3.0 Ports
Video Output: 2x HDMI Ports
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 136 x 84 x 38 mm
Card Reader: Micro SD
Adapter    Input: AC 100-240V,Output: DC 19V / 3.43A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10

The LIVA X has been refreshed as well with a new design and updated Intel Braswell SoC.

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Here are the specs for the LIVA X2:

Platform: Intel Braswell N3050 SoC
Memory: DDR3L 2GB/4GB
Expansion Slot: 1 x M.2 for SSD (Up to 1TB)
Storage: eMMC 64GB/32GB
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 3x USB3.0 Ports
Video Output: 1x HDMI Port, 1x D-Sub Port
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 156 x 83 x 51 mm
Adapter    Input: AC 100-240V, Output: DC 12V / 3A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 (Windows 7 supported by M.2)

These new LIVA models are listed on the ECS product pages and should be available soon through the usual retail channels.

Source: ECS

Computex 2015: Lian Li Desk Chassis and PC-O8 Dual-Compartment Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 2, 2015 - 09:07 AM |
Tagged: PC-O8, Lian Li, enclosures, dual-compartment enclosure, DK-02, desk chassis, computex 2015, computex, cases

Lian Li is showing two new versions of their massive desk system chassis at Computex, as well as a new dual-compartment enclosure.

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The DK-Q2 Desk Chassis

From Lian Li:

"Like the previous desk chassis, the aluminum body and tempered glass surface highlight the minimalism of this practical fusion of desk and chassis. The updates on these new models add simplicity to system building, more refined aesthetics and ergonomics. New thinner body and stronger adjustable legs add to the look and workplace efficiency of this growing line of computer desks."

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PC-O8 dual-compartment enclosure

From Lian Li:

"The PC-O8 dual-compartment chassis combines aluminum and tempered glass to show off DIY builders high-end, intricate setups, while hiding cables and less eye catching components in the large compartment behind the motherboard tray."

Pricing and availability for these new enclosures has not been announced.

Source: Lian Li

Computex 2015: MSI Announces X99A GODLIKE GAMING Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: X99A GODLIKE GAMING, RGB, msi, motherboard, Intel X99, gaming, computex 2015, computex

In the spirit of being un-subtle (and writing things in all-caps) MSI has introduced its new ultra high-end X99 platform motherboard, the X99A GODLIKE GAMING.

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MSI says the X99A GODLIKE GAMING is the “world’s first RGB LED motherboard, supporting more than 2000 colors and many style presets such as breathing, flashing and waving”. Flashing and waving? Two things my motherboard has always needed. And breathing? Well, we all have to do that.

In all seriousness however (that name notwithstanding) the X99A GODLIKE GAMING looks like a really interesting product for a gaming market permeated by RGB-adorned peripherals and enclosures.

From MSI:

“The X99A GODLIKE GAMING employs the latest Audio Boost 3 PRO technology to deliver crystal clear sound quality and lossless audio compression. For efficient data transfer, Turbo M.2, SATA Express and USB 3.1 are supported. The X99A GODLIKE GAMING also adopts the latest Killer DoubleShot-X3 PRO. Smart teaming with two Killer Ethernet chips and Killer 1535 Wi-Fi module, X99A GODLIKE GAMING can provide up to 2.867Gbps of network bandwidth for hardcore gamers. The Mystic Light, another special feature, lets users easily control the LED light effects with the MSI Gaming APP on OS and the Mystic Light APP on Android mobile devices.”

No details yet on pricing or availability for this “god-like” motherboard just yet.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: MSI Announces Notebooks with Quad-Core Broadwell CPUs

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: notebook, msi, Intel Core i7, gaming notebook, computex 2015, computex, Broadwell

MSI has unveiled a refreshed notebook lineup featuring the new quad-core Intel Broadwell mobile processors.

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Broadwell launched as a dual-core only option, which resulted in some high-performance notebooks opting to stay with Haswell CPUs. With the introduction of quad-core versions of the new Broadwell chips for mobile, MSI has jumped on the bandwagon to offer a few different options. Of the 20 new notebooks offered by MSI, 18 of them are powered by Intel Core i7 chips.

Intel’s 5th Generation Core i7 processor powers 18 MSI laptop models, including the GT80 Titan SLI, GT72 Dominator, GS70 Stealth, GS60 Ghost, GE72 Apache, GE62 Apache, GP72 Leopard, GP62 Leopard, and the newly announced PX60 Prestige.  Available immediately, all gaming notebook models come with an array of superior technologies, including Killer DoubleShot Pro for lag-less gaming, SteelSeries Gaming Keyboard for exceptional customization and feel, and more.

The flagship GT80 Titan SLI has these impressive specs, including an Intel Core i7-5950HQ processor:

GT80 Titan SLI

  • Screen: 18.4” 1920x1080 WideView Non-Reflection
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-5950HQ, 2.9 - 3.7 GHz
  • Chipset: HM87
  • Graphics: Dual GTX 980M SLI, 8GB GDDR5 VRAM each
  • Memory: 24GB (8GB x3) DDR3L 1600MHz (4 SoDIMM slots, max 32GB)
  • Storage: 256GB Super RAID (128GB M.2 SATA x2, RAID 0) + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD
  • Optical: BD Burner
  • LAN: Killer Gaming Network
  • Wireless: Killer N1525 Combo (2x2 ac), BT 4.1
  • Card Reader: SDXC
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, mDP v1.2 x2
  • MSRP: $3799.99

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The GT80 Titan SLI gaming notebook

1920x1080 with this model seems low, especially considering the obscene amount of VRAM (8GB per card on a laptop? Really?). Still, this notebook has excellent external monitor support with dual mini-DisplayPort outputs, though HDMI is limited to version 1.4.

MSI has also introduced a refreshed GT72 Dominator with NVIDIA G-Sync (covered here), and this new version also features USB 3.1. And for the more business-minded there is the premium PX60 Prestige, now refreshed with Broadwell Core i7 as well.

These refreshed notebook models will be “available immediately” from MSI’s retail partners.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: MSI GT72 Gaming Notebook with G-SYNC and Eye Tracking

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Tobii Technology, msi, GTX 980M, gt72, gaming notebook, g-sync, eye-tracking, computex 2015, computex

MSI has announced a new version of the GT72 gaming notebook featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC technology.

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Like the current GT72 Dominator Pro G, this features NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics, though this announced version has 8GB of GDDR5 (vs. the previous 4GB) powering its 17.3” display. The G-SYNC implementation with this notebook will allow for variable refresh between 30 - 75 Hz, and as the existing G72 is a 1920x1080 notebook also featuring a GTX 980M it might seem unnecessary to implement G-SYNC, though this would ensure a smoother experience with the newest games at very high detail settings.

Based on the current GT72 Dominator Pro G we can also expect an Intel Broadwell Core i7 mobile processor (the i7-5700HQ in the current model), and these notebooks support up to 32GB of DDR3L 1600MHz memory, as well as up to 4 M.2 SSDs in RAID 0.

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MSI is also announcing development, in partnership with eye-tracking company Tobii Technology, of a “fully integrated eye-tracking notebook” for gamers, and MSI will have prototype notebooks at Computex to demonstrate the technology.

We’ll post additional details when available. Right now full specs, as well as pricing and availability, have not been revealed.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2015 - 08:07 AM |
Tagged: STRAFE, mechanical keyboard, gaming keyboard, corsair, computex 2015, computex, Cherry MX

Corsair has announced the STRAFE mechanical gaming keyboard featuring Cherry MX switches, and the company is calling it the “most advanced mono-backlit mechanical gaming keyboard available”.

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From Corsair:

“The STRAFE mechanical gaming keyboard’s brilliant red backlighting can be customized to a virtually unlimited number of lighting configurations and effects. Each key can be programmed with automated macros using CUE (Corsair Utility Engine) software. Users can choose from six unique lighting effects or craft their own custom profiles and share them on www.corsairgaming.com.”

The STRAFE features:

  • German-made Cherry MX red switches with gold contacts for fast, precise key presses
  • Fully programmable brilliant red LED backlighting for unrivaled personalization
  • USB pass-through port for easy connections
  • Textured and contoured FPS/MOBA keycaps
  • 100% anti-ghosting technology with 104-key rollover
  • Enhanced, easy-access multimedia controls

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The Corsair STRAFE has an MSRP of $109.99 and will be available in June.

Source: Corsair

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces ZenPad 8-inch Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: ZenPad, tablets, moorefield, computex 2015, computex, intel atom, atom x3, asus, ZenPad S

ASUS has announced their ZenPad 8.0 Series of tablets, and these feature some proprietary visual enhancements to give their screens more contrast and vivid color:

  • ASUS VisualMaster HDR video technology
  • ASUS TruVivid (direct bonded glass)
  • Bluelight filter (reduces blue light by 30%)
  • ASUS Tru2Life (contrast and sharpness enhancement) technology
  • Inteligent contrast (up to 150% wider contrast levels)

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The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0

What about specifications? Here’s a quick rundown of the tablets, both of which run Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS ZenUI:

ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA

  • Intel Atom 3580 Moorefield
    • Quad-core up to 2.3 GHz
    • PowerVR G6430 Rogue graphics
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage
  • 8-inch IPS panel
    • 2048x1536 display (4:3)
    • 324ppi
    • TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
    • 73.75% screen-to-body ratio
  • Dual front speakers
  • 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Micro SDXC (up to 128GB)
  • 15.2Wh battery
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB Type-C connector

ZenPad 8.0 Z380C series

  • Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA)  C3200 series
    • Quad-core
    • Mali 450MP4 GPU
  • 8-inch IPS display
    • 76.5% screen-to-body ratio
    • 1280 x 800
    • 16:10 ratio
    • 10-finger multi-touch
  • 1GB/2GB ram
  • 8GB or 16GB eMMC
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
  • 1 x micro SDXC
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, E-compass, GPS, Hall sensor, Light sensor
  • 4000 mAh battery (non-removable)

No specifics on pricing or availablitiy just yet.

Source: ASUS