Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Introduction and Specifications

Logitech has been releasing gaming headphones with a steady regularity of late, and this summer we have another new model to examine in the G433 Gaming Headset, which has just been released (along with the G233). This wired, 7.1-channel capable headset is quite different visually from previous Logitech models as is finished with an interesting “lightweight, hydrophobic fabric shell” and offered in various colors (our review pair is a bright red). But the G433’s have function to go along with the style, as Logitech has focused on both digital and analog sound quality with this third model to incorporate the Logitech’s Pro-G drivers. How do they sound? We’ll find out!

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One of the main reasons to consider a gaming headset like this in the first place is the ability to take advantage of multi-channel surround sound from your PC, and with the G433’s (as with the previously reviewed G533) this is accomplished via DTS Headphone:X, a technology which in my experience is capable of producing a convincing sound field that is very close to that of multiple surround drivers. All of this is being created via the same pair of left/right drivers that handle music, and here Logitech is able to boast of some very impressive engineering that produced the Pro-G driver introduced two years ago. An included DAC/headphone amp interfaces with your PC via USB to drive the surround experience, and without this you still have a standard stereo headset that can connect to anything with a 3.5 mm jack.

If you have not read up on Logitech’s exclusive Pro-G driver, you will find in their description far more similarities to an audiophile headphone company than what we typically associate with a computer peripheral maker. Logitech explains the thinking behind the technology:

“The intent of the Pro-G driver design innovation is to minimize distortion that commonly occurs in headphone drivers. When producing lower frequencies (<1kHz), most speaker diaphragms operate as a solid mass, like a piston in an engine, without bending. When producing many different frequencies at the same time, traditional driver designs can experience distortion caused by different parts of the diaphragm bending when other parts are not. This distortion caused by rapid transition in the speaker material can be tuned and minimized by combining a more flexible material with a specially designed acoustic enclosure. We designed the hybrid-mesh material for the Pro-G driver, along with a unique speaker housing design, to allow for a more smooth transition of movement resulting in a more accurate and less distorted output. This design also yields a more efficient speaker due to less overall output loss due to distortion. The result is an extremely accurate and clear sounding audio experience putting the gamer closer to the original audio of the source material.”

Logitech’s claims about the Pro-G have, in my experience with the previous models featuring these drivers (G633/G933 Artemis Spectrum and G533 Wireless), have been spot on, and I have found them to produce a clarity and detail that rivals ‘audiophile’ stereo headphones.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech G433 7.1 Wired Surround Gaming Headset!

Hide yer wallets! Steam's Summer Sale kicks off tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: steam sale, gaming

Is that list of Steam games you own but haven't played getting a little shorter?  Well, there is a solution to that as the on of the most dangerous causes of impulse buying starts tomorrow.  Paypal let the cat out of the bag and Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN spotted it, along with the launch time for the UK, 6pm BST on 22 June.  The reason PayPal revealed the start of the sale is because they are offering a bit of a deal in the UK and possibly the rest of the world, if you buy more than £20 of games and pay for it with PayPal you get an extra £5 off.

Perhaps this is a good time to head out of town and spend the weekend somewhere without internet connectivity?

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"I assume you young people will be dragging your camping stools to the Steam storefront from 21 June, nursing a thermos of something nutritious and exchanging stories about the time you queued for something else with your fellow queuers."

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WAAAGH penguins; like Squigs only open sores

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2017 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: linux, gaming, dawn of war III

Dawn of War 3 released its Linux version earlier this year with support for both OpenGL and Vulkan.  Vulkan performance is much better in CPU bound testing with resolutions under 1080p and when gaming above that resolution it utilizes far less CPU resources than OpenGL.  Overall on NVIDIA performance is the same on both APIs, with the current Radeon driver you are better off on OpenGL.  As is their usual style, Phoronix tested 18 GPUs, a dozen from NVIDIA and six of AMD's cards with differing resolutions and graphics quality settings, all the way up to 4k. 

Check the full results here.

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"Today marks the highly anticipated debut of Dawn of War III for Linux (and macOS) ported by Feral Interactive. Here are a number of OpenGL and Vulkan benchmarks of NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards running Ubuntu Linux with this game."

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Source: Phoronix

Dell Announces Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition

Subject: Systems | June 12, 2017 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Threadripper, sli, ryzen, RX 580, PC, gtx 1080 ti, gaming, desktop, dell, crossfire, amd, alienware

Dell has revealed their new Alienware Area-51 gaming desktops featuring the latest high-performance AMD and Intel processors. We will begin with a look at the Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition, and Dell has an exclusive on pre-built systems using the new Ryzen Threadripper CPUs.

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"Through 2017, Dell will be the exclusive OEM partner to deliver AMD Ryzen Threadripper pre-built systems to the market and the high-end 16-core will be factory-overclocked across all 16-cores and 32 logical threads. The Area-51 Threadripper Edition is ideal for customers who explore the world of mega-tasking, doing many system demanding tasks at the same time, and are looking for a complete, reliable solution from a trusted brand."

The systems are based on the X399 chipset and can be configured with either a 12-core/24-thread or 16-core/32-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, which are liquid-cooled in all configurations. Standard memory configurations begin with quad-channel 2667 MHz DDR4 up to 64GB, with 2933MHz HyperX memory up to the same quad-channel 64GB available. Graphics options begin with a choice between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 570, and max out at either dual GTX 1080 Ti or triple Radeon RX 580 cards.

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Storage options include up to a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD and 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s HDD, and networking is handled by dual Killer E2500 Gigabit NICs and a choice of either Dell 1820 802.11ac 2x2 or Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi. (A look at the other Area-51 desktop annoucement provides a more complete look at the rest of the general specifications - with a few chipset-related differences.)

Features from Dell/Alienware:

  • Designed for Megatasking, game streaming and more, the new Area 51 Threadripper Edition is ready for today’s most demanding PC gaming enthusiast and supports high performance configurations with a chipset that enables up to 64 PCIe Gen 3 lanes.
  • All configuration come standard with unlocked, factory-overclocked across all cores and liquid cooled AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs with Alienware's most powerful liquid cooling unit to date.
  • Iconic triad high quality, uniquely engineered chassis built to deliver exceptional airflow, thermal management, and user ergonomics for daily use and future upgrades.
  • Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire graphics technology, with dual and triple GPU options
  • Introduces M.2 storage options to Area-51.
  • Built for gaming enthusiast wanting the absolute best gaming performance played with a VR, 4k or 8k display
  • Alienware Command Center includes AlienFX, AlienAdrenaline, AlienFusion, Thermal and Overclocking Controls

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The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition will be available beginning June July 27, and pricing information is not yet announced.

Source: Dell

Intel Core X-Series Coming to Alienware Area-51 Desktops

Subject: Systems | June 12, 2017 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: radeon, PC, Optane, nvidia, Intel, geforce, gaming, desktop, dell, Core X-Series, Core i9, Area-51, amd, alienware

Dell has announced upcoming Alienware Area-51 gaming desktops featuring Intel's new Core X-Series processors, with CPU options up to the 10-core Intel Core i9 7900X and GPU configurations up to dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or triple Radeon RX 580 graphics.

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"The Alienware Area-51 is our flagship gaming desktop, in this next generation, a new Intel architecture based on ‘Skylake-X’ technology has come to the high end desktop arena; Intel introduces the new Intel Core XSeries processors with a new level of Intel Core i9 options.

Gamers looking for the best that Intel has to offer that love gaming and have creative hobbies that employ resource intensive applications should anticipate the new Area-51 with Intel Core X-series processors. Geared to deliver the best gaming experiences in 4K, 8K and in VR environments, this new rig is powered for gamers running applications that prioritize clock with the 10-core option running at speeds of up to 4.5GHz using stock settings.

The Area-51 featuring Intel Core X-Series is ideal for customers who explore the world of megatasking, doing many system demanding tasks at the same time, and are looking for a complete, reliable solution from a trusted brand."

The Area-51 desktops feature (from Dell):

  • Iconic triad high quality, uniquely engineered chassis built to deliver exceptional airflow, thermal management, and user ergonomics for daily use and future upgrades
  • Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire graphics technology, with dual and triple GPU options
  • Introduces Intel Optane Memory technology and M.2 SSD storage options to Area-51
  • Built for gaming enthusiast wanting the absolute best gaming performance played with a VR, 4k or 8k display
  • Designed with power supplies that provide modular cabling and a 1500W option with 80 Plus Gold efficiency for clean and efficient power
  • Alienware Command Center includes AlienFX, AlienAdrenaline, AlienFusion, Thermal and Overclocking Controls

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Specifications:

  • Chipset:
    • Intel X299 w/unlocked BIOS for overclocking, CPU Socket R4 (2066 pins)
  • Processor Options:
    • Intel Core i7 7800X (6-core, 8.25MB Cache, up to 4.0GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology)
    • Intel Core i7 7820X (8-core, 11MB Cache, up to 4.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology)
    • Intel Core i9 7900X (10-core, 13.75MB Cache, up to 4.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology)
  • Single Video Card Options
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080, or GTX 1080 Ti
    • Liquid Cooled NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
    • AMD Radeon RX 570 or RX 580
  • Multi GPU Options
    • Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, GTX 1080, or GTX 1080 Ti (NVIDIA SLI Enabled)
    • Triple AMD Radeon RX 570 or RX 580 (AMD Crossfire Enabled)
  • Memory Support
    • 4x 288-Pin DDR4 UDIMM Slots
    • 8GB DDR4 at 2667MHz standard, additional memory available up to 64GB of quad-channel 2667MHz or 2933MHz (HyperX)
  • Storage Options
    • Single drive: 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s or 256GB - 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD
    • Dual drive: 128GB - 1TB M.2 SATA SSD (Boot) + 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage)
    • Intel Optane Accelerated Options
      • 16GB Intel Optane memory accelerated 1TB 7200RPM HDD
      • 32GB Intel Optane memory accelerated 1TB - 2TB 7200RPM HDD
    • Slot-Loading Dual-Layer DVD Burner (DVD±RW) (Standard)
    • Slot-Loading Dual Layer Blu-ray Disc Reader (BD-ROM, DVD±RW, CD-RW)
  • Internal High-Definition 7.1 Audio (Standard)
    • Dual Killer E2500 Intelligent Networking (Gigabit Ethernet NIC)
    • Dell 1820 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi/Bluetooth 4.1 or Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi/Bluetooth 4.1
  • Front Ports
    • 2x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
    • 3.5 mm headphone and 3.5 mm Mic Port
    • Media Card Reader
  • Rear Ports
    • 2x RJ-45 Killer Networks E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Port
    • 2x Hi-Speed USB 2.0
    • 6x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
    • 1x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
    • 1x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C w/ 15W PowerShare technology
    • 1x SPDIF Digital Output (TOSLINK)
    • 1x Line-In (blue port)
    • 1x Front L/R / Headphone (green port)
    • 1x Center Channel / Subwoofer (orange port)
    • 1x L/R Rear Surround (black port)
    • 1x L/R Side Surround (white port)
  • Operating System:
    • Windows 10 Home (64-bit) (Standard)
    • Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)

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The release date and pricing have not been announced, but Dell states these Intel Core X-series desktops "will be available late summer" with pricing information soon to come.

Source: Dell

Logitech's G433 7.1 Gaming Headset: Stylish Looks and Pro-G Drivers for $99

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2017 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: wired, surround, Pro-G, logitech, headset, headphones, gaming, G433, DTS Headphone:X, drivers, 7.1

Logitech has released their latest surround gaming headphones with the wired G433 Gaming Headset, a 7.1-channel (via DTS Headphone:X) model that is latest to use the company's Pro-G drivers.

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The style of the new G433 is quite eye-catching, with four colors (black, red, blue, and blue camo) of a unique fabric finish that Logitech says is hydrophobic (repels water) for enhanced durability. The G433 primarily function as an analog headphone (with a 3.5 mm plug) unless an included USB DAC/headphone amp is used, giving PC users access to DTS Headphone:X surround up to 7.1 channels and customizable EQ via Logitech's Gaming Software. The microphone is a removable boom style with noise reduction to help improve voice clarity, and Logitech has used a 5-element double-grounded cable to eliminate crosstalk and prevent game audio from bleeding into voice.

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The G433 arrives with an MSRP of $99, making the headset the least expensive Pro-G option to date, but this comparatively low price tag for a premium option still provides the buyer a complete accessory pack including the USB DAC,  alternate ear pads, two 3.5 mm audio cables (one with inline mic), a 3.5 mm audio/mic Y-cable, and a fabric storage bag.

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The Logitech G433 is available now, and with a pair on hand will have a full review up very soon!

Source: Logitech

A chat with Paradox on sequels and expansions

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, paradox

Paradox is well named as it has a very different philosophy from the rest of the industry about how to treat games after they have been released.  It is becoming quite common for developers to already be working on a sequel to a game that they have just released, or are in the process of releasing.  Once a game launched you can expect to see numerous and often expensive DLC released for the game, which usually offer little to no new real gameplay or functionality.

Paradox treats games completely differently, their DLC expansions are often expensive but frequently offer a significant change to the base game and when released they always add several major new features to anyone who owns the game without charge.  They do this for a long time after launch, two examples are Crusader Kings II which is five years old and has twelve expansions, while the four year old Europa Universalis IV has ten expansions.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN sat down with the creative director Johan Andersson and CEO Fredrik Wester to discuss the future of these games and Paradox itself, as well as talking about the effects of offering major updates to older games as opposed to the more common constant release of sequels to games.

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"With Crusader Kings II now five years old and twelve expansions deep, and Europa Universalis IV a relatively sprightly four years and ten expansions, what is the future of these titles? At what point are they done and at what point does the thought of a sequel come up."

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Computex 2017: BitFenix Shows Off Affordable Mid-Tower With RGB and Tempered Glass

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 11:16 PM |
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.

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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.

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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.

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(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?

Source: Tech City

Gaming on a Ryzen

Subject: General Tech | May 31, 2017 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ryzen, amd

[H]ard|OCP decided it was time to test out the real world performance of AMD's Ryzen 7 1700 and did so with the programs most likely to be used ... games.  They tested 10 different games, from The Witcher 3 through DOOM at resolutions of 4K, 1440p, and 1080p.  The GPU installed on systems will vary which is why they included GTX 1080 Ti, 1080 and 1060 along with the RX 480 both in single GPU and Crossfire configurations.  Check out the full review to see how the Ryzen chip compares to the performance of Intel's 2600K and 7700K. 

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"With our AMD Ryzen 7 overclocked to 4GHz we find out if this is a competitive real-world gaming CPU or not. We compare it with two overclocked Intel 7700K and 2600K systems across six different video card configurations at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p to find out which CPU provides the best gameplay experience using playable game settings."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Computex 2017: Acer Predator Triton 700 Gaming Laptop with NVIDIA GeForce GTX Max-Q Design

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: Triton 700, Predator, nvidia, notebook, max-q, laptop, GTX 1080, geforce, gaming, computex 2017, acer

Acer has introduced the Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop, which boasts a very thin and light design as it is built to NVIDIA's newly-announced Max-Q specifications. This allows the Triton to house a "standard-voltage" Intel Core i7 processor (overclockable, no less) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.

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"The Predator Triton 700 utilizes Max-Q, NVIDIA’s innovative approach to designing the world’s thinnest, fastest, and quietest gaming laptops. Max-Q, an integral part of NASA’s mission to launch man into space, is defined as the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximized. Thus, the design of the rocket is precision-engineered around Max-Q. NVIDIA has applied a similar philosophy to designing gaming laptops, enabling Acer to build laptops that are thinner with more GPU performance of previous generation products."

Storage is just as impressive as the CPU/GPU tandem, with dual NVMe PCIe drives in RAID-0, just in case you would like to experience double to the speed of the fastest available type of solid-state storage (the benchmarks will probably be astonishing). Other specs include a 15.6 FHD display with NVIDIA G-SYNC, memory support for up to 32GB 2400 MHz DDR4, Killer DoubleShot Pro networking, and Thunderbolt 3.

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The design of the Predator Triton 700 is somewhat unusual for a laptop, with a mechanical keyboard that sits flush with the front edge of the palm rest, and a touch pad positioned above. But this is no ordinary touch pad, as Acer explains:

"A large Corning® Gorilla® Glass plate above the keyboard serves as a window into the notebook’s cooling system, showcasing the AeroBlade™ 3D Fan and five heat pipes, and also functions as a Precision Touchpad."

The Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop will be available beginning in August with an MSRP of $2999.

Source: Acer