Podcast #502 - Computex coverage and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2018 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: xTend, xps, video, Vega, Threadripper, Snapdragon 850, seasonic, scmd, ROG, qualcomm, podcast, Optane, nvidia, microsoft, logitech, Killer Wireless, Isaac, InWin, Intel, i7-8086k, git, fortnite, EPYC, dell, crystal, corsair, CaseKing, asus, aorus, amd, 7nm

PC Perspective Podcast #502 - 06/07/18

Join us this week for discussion on Computex 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:45:27

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:00:40 ASUS all the things
  3. Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Overview

The initial announcement of Intel and AMD's collaboration on the "8th Gen Intel® Core™ processors With Radeon™ RX Vega M Graphics" (Kaby Lake-G) at CES this year caused a big stir amongst the PC hardware space. 

kbl-g.jpg

Now that we've taken a look at the Intel Hades Canyon NUC and its impressive performance compared to mid-range gaming desktops, it's time to take a look at Kaby Lake-G in the mobile form factor.

Dell's XPS 15 2-in-1 is one of two notebooks utilizing the Intel Kaby Lake-G processor with Vega graphics, alongside the HP Envy Spectre x360.

DSC04941.JPG

Building upon the successful standard clamshell, this new notebook is Dell's first convertible XPS 15, featuring a 360-degree hinge which allows for a variety of configurations including tablet mode where the device folds back on itself.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
MSRP $1299 $1499 $1699 $2199
Screen 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch Display 15.6" 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch Display
CPU Core i5-8305G Core i7-8705G 
GPU AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HBM2 Memory
RAM 8GB DDR4-2400 (non-upgradable) 16GB DDR4-2400 (non-upgradable)
Storage 128GB SATA 256GB PCIe
Network Killer 1435 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth
Display Output

2 x Thunderbolt 3
2 x USB 3.1 Type-C (DisplayPort)

Connectivity

2 x Thunderbolt 3
2 x USB 3.1 Type-C
3.5mm headphone
MicroSD Card Reader

Audio Waves MaxxAudio® Pro 2W (1W x 2)
Weight 4.36 lbs (2 Kg)
Dimensions 13.9-in x 9.2-in x 0.36-0.63-in
(354mm x 235mm x 9-1mm)
Battery 75 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home / Pro (+$60)

As far as specifications are concerned, the XPS 15 2-in-1 impresses.. With up to a 4K, touch-enabled display, quad core processor, discrete AMD Vega graphics, and up to 16GB of memory, the hardware of the XPS 15 2-in-1 is a compelling package for gamers and content creators alike. For review, we recieved the top of the line XPS 15 2-in-1, with a 512GB SSD instead of the stock 256GB configuration (a $150 upgrade from Dell).

DSC04942.JPG

Continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1!

Podcast #501 - Intel Optane DIMMS, DIY Keyboards, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 31, 2018 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: WATERCOOL, video, podcast, Optane, Luce, Intel, i7-8086k, dell, corsair, antec, adata

PC Perspective Podcast #501 - 05/31/18

Join us this week for discussion on Intel Optane DIMMS, DIY Keyboards, 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!

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison, Jim Tanous

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:20:21

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:57:10 Jeremy: It’s a bargain!
    2. 0:58:20 Josh: Already available!
    3. 1:11:00 Alex: https://ergodox-ez.com/ non DIY keyboard
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Some Dell Systems Shipping with 24GB of memory: 8GB DDR4 and 16GB Optane Memory

Subject: Memory, Storage | May 29, 2018 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: Optane, Intel, g3, dell

Recently I came across an interesting product listing on Dell’s website for its new G3 15” gaming notebook. These are budget-friendly gaming systems with mainstream discrete GeForce graphics cards in them like the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti. Starting at just $699 they offer a compelling balance of performance and value, though we haven’t yet gotten hands on one for testing.

One tidbit that seemed off to me was this:

dell1.png

Several of these systems list 24GB of memory through a combination of 8GB of DDR4 and 16GB of Optane Memory for caching. A similar wording exists in the configuration page for these machines:

dell2.png

Clicking on the More Info link takes you to the “Help Me Choose” portion of the page that details what system memory does, how it helps the performance of your machine, and how Optane comes into the mix. There is important wording to point out that Dell provides (emphasis mine):

Some systems allow you to add Intel® Optane™ memory, which is a system acceleration solution for the 7th Gen and 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor platforms. This solution comes in a module format and by placing this new memory media between the processor and a slower SATA-based storage devices ( HDD, SSHD or SATA SSD), you are able to store commonly used data and programs closer to the processor, allowing the systems to access this information more quickly and improve overall system performance.

Mixing DRAM with Intel® Optane™ delivers better performance and cost. For example, 4 GB DRAM + 16GB Intel® Optane™ memory delivers better performance and cost than just 8GB DRAM.

What is the difference between Intel® Optane™ memory and DRAM? Does it replace DRAM?
The Intel® Optane™ memory module does not replace DRAM. It can be, however, added to DRAM to increase systems performance.

If I use Intel® Optane™ memory with an HDD to accelerate my games, game launches and level loads become faster and close to that of an SSD experience, but what about the game play? Is the game play impacted?
Game play will not be that different between an SSD and an HDD based systems since the games in loaded into DRAM during play.

While my initial reaction of this as a clever way to trick consumers into thinking they are getting 24GB of memory in their PC when in reality it is only 8GB holds true, there are a lot of interesting angles to take.

First, yes, I believe it is a poor decision to incorporate Optane Memory into the specification of “memory” in these PCs. Optane Memory is an accelerant for system storage, and cannot replace DRAM (as the FAQ on Dell’s website states). If you have 8GB of memory, and your application workload fills that, having 16GB of memory would be a tremendous improvement in performance. Having 16GB of Optane caching on your system will only aid in moving and swapping data from main storage INTO that 8GB pool of physical memory.

Where Dell’s statements hold true though is in instances where memory capacity is not the bottleneck of performance, and your system has a standard spinning hard drive rather than an SSD installed. Optane Memory and its caching capabilities will indeed improve performance more than doubling the main system memory in instances where memory is not the limiter.

I do hope that Dell isn’t choosing to remove SSD options or defaults from these notebooks in order to maintain that performance claim; but based on my quick check, any notebook configuration that has the “24GB of memory” claim to it does NOT offer an SSD upgrade path.

Though it isn't called out one way or the other in the Dell specifications, my expectation is that they are NOT configuring these systems to use the Optane Memory as a part of the Windows page file, which MIGHT show some interesting benefits in regards to lower system memory capacity. Instead, these are likely configured with Optane Memory as a cache for the 1TB hard drive that is also a required piece of the configuration. If I'm incorrect, this config will definitely warrant some more testing and research.

Where the argument might shift is in the idea of performance per dollar improvements to overall system responsiveness. As the cost of DDR4 memory has risen, 16GB of Optane Memory (at around $25) is well below the cost of a single 8GB SO-DIMM for these notebooks (in the $80-90 range), giving OEMs a significant pricing advantage towards their bottom line. And yes, we have proven that Optane Memory works well and accelerates application load times and even level loads in some games.

But will it allow you to run more applications or games that might need or want more than 8GB of system memory? No.

Ideally, these configurations would include both 16GB of DDR4 system memory AND the 16GB of Optane Memory to get the best possible performance. But as system vendors and Intel itself look for ways to differentiate a product stack, while keeping prices lower and margins higher, this is one of the more aggressive tactics we have seen.

I’m curious what Dell’s input on this will be, if this is a direction they plan on continuing or one that they are simply trialing. Will other OEMs follow suit? Hopefully I’ll be able to get some interesting answers this week and during Computex early next month.

For now, it is something that potential buyers of these systems should pay attention to and make sure they are properly informed as to the hardware configuration capabilities and limits.

Source: Dell

Dell Adds New G Series Of Budget Gaming Laptops To Its Portfolio

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2018 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged: dell, UHD, gaming laptop, coffee lake h, nvidia, max-q, gtx 1060

Dell recently announced updates to its budget laptop lineup to include a new G series that replaces the previous generation Inspiron Gaming branded products. The new brand comes in three tiers and two form factors that include the 15.6" G3, G5, and G7 and the 17" G3 all of which utilize various levels of 8th Generation Core Intel CPUs and mid-range 1000 series NVIDIA mobile GPUs. There is a lot of overlap in hardware, build, and pricing depending on the specific configuration you build.

These budget gaming laptops are fairly thin – ranging from 22.7mm on the G3 15 to 25mm on the G3 17 and G5 15 and G7 15 – but do make compromises in the build quality department with most of the body being plastic-based rather than metallic (the higher-end components and prices remain reserved to the Alienware models). On the bright side, Dell appears to be taking cooling seriously and makes liberal use of vents both front and rear along with dual fans. The G series also all feature dual drive bays, backlit spill-resistant keyboards, dual Waves MaxxAudio Pro speakers, webcams, fingerprint sensors, and matte exterior finishes.

G3-Family.png

The G3 series features up to an 8th Generation Core i7 processor and either a GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, or GTX 1060 Max Q graphics card along with a full HD (1920x1080) anti-glare display. The G3 15 comes in black, recon blue, or alpine white while the G3 17 comes in either black or recon blue. Three USB 3.1, USB-C / Thunderbolt 3, SD, HDMI, Ethernet, and one audio jack account for the external I/O ports that line the edges of the notebook. Note that the G3 15 has a normal hinge while the higher end models have a smaller centered hinge that leaves gaps on either side presumably for larger vents.

G5 15_image 1.png

Stepping things up a bit to the G5 tier, the G5 15 comes in Licorice Black or Beijing Red and features a quad or hexacore Coffee Lake H processor and up to a GTX 1060 Max Q 6GB and two drive bays for up to two SSDs much like the G3 but adds Killer Networking 1x1 (up to 2x2 Wi-Fi supported) and the option for a 4K UHD IPS panel.

Moving from the G5 15 to the G7 15 in a "but wait, there's more" infomercial style offers you the ability to configure the Licorice Black or Alpine White laptop with a Core i9 Coffee Lake H processor, 32GB RAM, GTX 1060 Max Q, and dual SSDs in addition to the 4K display and Killer networking options of the G5 15. The G7 15 further has a larger 56 Whr 4-cell battery.

G7 15_image 1.png

Limited configurations of the G3 15, G3 17, G5 15, and G7 15 are set to be available later this month (with two options for the G7 15 available now on Dell's website) with additional configuration options to follow. The G3 series starts at $749, the G5 starts at $799, and the G7 starts at $849 (though that model is not yet up on Dell's site) though as you see with the G7 on Dell's site adding SSDs and RAM brings the pricing up quite a bit (the $1099 model has an i7 8750H, GTX 1060, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD for example).

It is refreshing to see Dell move away from the Inspiron brand for gaming, but I hope the fresh brand also brings fresh build quality although you can't ask for too much at these prices with this hardware inside at least for the base models (I am mostly concerned about the small hinge on the higher end models). We will have to wait for reviews to know for sure though. Cnet has a gallery of hands-on photos of the laptops as well as The Verge if you are curious what these machines look like.

Source: Dell
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Overview

Since it's introduction in early 2015, the modern iteration of the Dell XPS 13 has been one of the most influential computers in recent history. An example of the rise of desirable Windows-based notebooks back into the premium market, the XPS 13 has done what only a few OEMs have been able to—inspire knockoffs. Now, the market is filled with similar designs including ultrathin bezels (and some even copying the compromises of webcam placement), at similar price points.

Even though it's been regarded as one of the best PC notebooks for its entire tenure, it was clear for a while that Dell must move the brand of their flagship notebook forward, and here it is, the redesigned XPS 13 9370 for 2018.

DSC04736.JPG

From a quick glance, the 2018 XPS 13 is quite similar to the outgoing 9360 model from last year. Apart from this new, radical Alpine White and Rose Gold color scheme of our particular review unit, you would be hard-pressed to spot it as unique in public. However, once you start to dig in, the changes become quite evident.

DSC04747.JPG

While the new XPS 13 maintains the same physical footprint as the previous iterations, it loses a significant amount of thickness. Still retaining the wedge shape, although much less exaggerated now, the XPS 13 9370 measures only 0.46" at its thickest point, compared to 0.6" on the previous design. While tenths of inches may not seem like a huge difference, this amounts to a 23% reduction in thickness, which is noticeable for a highly portable item like a notebook.

Click here to continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018)

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Acer

When PC monitors made the mainstream transition to widescreen aspect ratios in the mid-2000s, many manufacturers opted for resolutions at a 16:10 ratio. My first widescreen displays were a pair of Dell monitors with a 1920x1200 resolution and, as time and technology marched forward, I moved to larger 2560x1600 monitors.

I grew to rely on and appreciate the extra vertical resolution that 16:10 displays offer, but as the production and development of "widescreen" PC monitors matured, it naturally began to merge with the television industry, which had long since settled on a 16:9 aspect ratio. This led to the introduction of PC displays with native resolutions of 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, keeping things simple for activities such as media playback but robbing consumers of pixels in terms of vertical resolution.

I was well-accustomed to my 16:10 monitors when the 16:9 aspect ratio took over the market, and while I initially thought that the 120 or 160 missing rows of pixels wouldn't be missed, I was unfortunately mistaken. Those seemingly insignificant pixels turned out to make a noticeable difference in terms of on-screen productivity real estate, and my 1080p and 1440p displays have always felt cramped as a result.

I was therefore sad to see that the relatively new ultrawide monitor market continued the trend of limited vertical resolutions. Most ultrawides feature a 21:9 aspect ratio with resolutions of 2560x1080 or 3440x1440. While this gives users extra resolution on the sides, it maintains the same limited height options of those ubiquitous 1080p and 1440p displays. The ultrawide form factor is fantastic for movies and games, but while some find them perfectly acceptable for productivity, I still felt cramped.

Thankfully, a new breed of ultrawide monitors is here to save the day. In the second half of 2017, display manufactures such as Dell, Acer, and LG launched 38-inch ultrawide monitors with a 3840x1600 resolution. Just like the how the early ultrawides "stretched" a 1080p or 1440p monitor, the 38-inch versions do the same for my beloved 2560x1600 displays.

The Acer XR382CQK

I've had the opportunity to test one of these new "taller" displays thanks to a review loan from Acer of the XR382CQK, a curved 37.5-inch behemoth. It shares the same glorious 3840x1600 resolution as others in its class, but it also offers some unique features, including a 75Hz refresh rate, USB-C input, and AMD FreeSync support.

XR382CQK-desk.jpg

Based on my time with the XR382CQK, my hopes for those extra 160 of resolution were fulfilled. The height of the display area felt great for tasks like video editing in Premiere and referencing multiple side-by-side documents and websites, and the gaming experience was just as satisfying. And with its 38-inch size, the display is quite usable at 100 percent scaling.

windows-3840x1600.jpg

There's also an unexpected benefit for video content that I hadn't originally considered. I was so focused on regaining that missing vertical resolution that I initially failed to appreciate the jump in horizontal resolution from 3440px to 3840px. This is the same horizontal resolution as the consumer UHD standard, which means that 4K movies in a 21:9 or similar aspect ratio will be viewable in their full size with a 1:1 pixel ratio.

Continue reading our look at 38-inch 3840x1600 ultrawide monitors!

Podcast #486 - AMD Mobile APUs, new Xeon-D processors, EPYC offerings from Dell, and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2018 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: podcast, amd, raven ridge, 2500U, APU, Intel, xeon-d, dell, EPYC, vaunt, Tobii

PC Perspective Podcast #486 - 02/08/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including AMD Mobile APUs, new Xeon-D processors, EPYC offerings from Dell, 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!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:16:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:12:15 Alex: Terraria
  4. Closing/outro
 

Dell's Epyc package

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2018 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: amd, dell, EPYC, R6415, R7415, R7425

Dell has released three new PowerEdge server models, all powered by one or two of AMD's new EPYC chips.  The R6415 is a single socket, 1U server which supports 1TB of RAM, though The Register does point to a PR slide that implies 2TB might be achievable.  The R7415 is larger at 2U because it can hold up to 12 SAS/SATA/NVMe + 12 NVMe drives or up to 14 3.5" drives.  Last up is the dual socket R7425 with either 32 SATA/SAS drives or 24 NVMe flash drives and up to 4TB of RAM.  Check out more specs at The Register.

epyc_performance_950.jpg

"There are three PowerEdge AMD-powered servers: the R6415, R7415, and R7425. These accompany the PowerEdge 14G R640 and R740 Xeon SP servers in the Round Rock company's server portfolio, and they inherit general PowerEdge management and feature goodness."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #484 - New Samsung SSDs, Spectre and Meltdown updates, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2018 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: spectre, Samsung, podcast, plex, meltdown, Intel, inspiron 13, dell, amd, 860 pro, 860 evo

PC Perspective Podcast #484 - 01/25/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including new SSDs from Samsung, updates on Spectre and Meltdown, and building the ultimate Plex server, 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!

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

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison

Program length: 1:28:56

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:30 Thanks to Casper for supporting our channel. Save $50 on select mattresses at http://www.casper.com/pcper code: pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:14:10 Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan:
  5. Closing/outro