ASUS Announces ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming Mini-ITX Motherboards for AMD Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | October 20, 2017 - 12:25 AM |
Tagged: X370-I Gaming, strix, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, gaming, B350-I Gaming, amd, AM4

While Intel users have long enjoyed the option of a premium ASUS ROG mini-ITX experience, AMD Ryzen owners are now on equal footing with the annoucement of a pair of mITX gaming boards with premium features. ASUS has apparently been working on these for a while now, and they think they will be worth the wait.

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"Mini-ITX boards are among the most difficult to produce. Their diminutive 6.7” x 6.7” dimensions leave little real estate for slots and ports, let alone the extra features that make ROG unique. We’re not willing to compromise your experience for a compact footprint, so it takes some time and creativity to make everything fit. But it’s worth the effort, because our new Strix X370-I Gaming and Strix B350-I Gaming motherboards for Socket AM4 raise the bar for small-form-factor Ryzen builds. They match the cutting-edge features of their full-sized siblings, including liquid-ready cooling and addressable RGB lighting, and they combine an M.2 SSD heatsink and amped-up audio on an innovative riser card."

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The motherboards both feature a 6-phase VRM design, which ASUS says is the same as their full-sized AM4 motherboards, with memory support of up to DDR4-3600. One-click overclocking is provided via the ASUS "5-Way Optimization technology", which can calibrate fan curves in addition to tuning CPU speeds. Speaking of fans, there are three PWM fan headers, one of which is configured by default for a liquid cooling pump.

An interesting design choice was made in the interest of space, as the sound card (S1220A codec) and M.2 slot (PCIe Gen 3 x4) are part of a shared riser card:

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"The Republic of Gamers has a history of working around Mini-ITX limitations by building up with additional circuit boards. Our Maximus Impact series made room for upgraded audio with a dedicated riser, and the Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming go one step further with an M.2 Audio Combo card that contains both SupremeFX sound and M.2 storage. This small PCB is sandwiched between isolated heatsinks for an M.2 drive and the platform chipset, ensuring effective cooling without taking up too much space."

ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting effects are on board, as is an 802.11ac Wi-Fi solution with 2x2 antenna and integrated Bluetooth. Connectivity includes a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, Gigabit LAN, and multi-channel audio on the rear panel, with 4x SATA ports, the M.2 slot, and headers for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 onboard.

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The ASUS ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming motherboards will "be available starting late-October in the United States with pricing to be released in the coming weeks" according to ASUS.

Source: ASUS

How much does the driver matter when playing Forza 7?

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: forza motorsport 7, amd, nvidia, vega 64, vega 56, gtx 1070, GTX 1080, gtx 1080 ti, gaming

[H]ard|OCP recently used Forza 7 in their GPU benchmarks and discovered that AMD's Vega 64 outperformed the GTX 1080 by a noticeable margin.  NVIDIA responded by releasing two new drivers in quick succession, claiming performance improvements of up to 25% in this title, which prompted [H] to revisit there results with the newest drivers from both companies.  They tested at both 1440p and at 4K and saw changes, though perhaps not as great as NVIDIA first announced.  Take a look at the review here and consider the question they pose in their conclusions.

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"Forza Motorsport 7 gaming performance has changed, video cards stack up differently when compared. We take Forza Motorsport 7 and apply new NVIDIA GeForce 387.92 and AMD Crimson ReLive 17.10.1 drivers to find out how these compare, what performance differences there are, and if AMD Radeon RX Vega is still king in this game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MechWarrior returns

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, mechwarrior 5, unreal engine 4

There will still be a long wait for a new mech game, but at least now we are waiting on a definite product or two.  Piranha Games have started showing off gameplay of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and those who have tried it have been quite impressed.  MechWarrior Online has been somewhat satisfying but there are many that have missed a campaign based single player game.  This new game will share the DNA of previous Mercenary releases, putting you in complete charge of a mercenary lance of mechs, searching for contracts that bring in enough money to keep your mechs repaired and provide your pilots salaries.  PC Gamer had some hands on time with the new game as well as a discussion with the developers.  Head on over to take a peek.

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"To that end, MechWarrior 5 will feature an unprecedented number of mechs to choose from. "Most MechWarrior games have had maybe 12 to 15 different mech chassis," Bullock explains. “We’re looking at having upwards of 60 chassis with 300 to 400 variants. You could probably play the game multiple times within just one Great House’s space and see different combinations on the free market.""

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Source: PC Gamer

The vintage Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is back!

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront 2, gamespy

We lost access to the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 back in 2014 when Gamespy's servers were shut down but thanks to a dedicated group of fans and support from Disney the game is once again playable. There are some issues currently, from servers not responding to deadly lag but there is a team working to resolve the issues.  From the trailer released earlier this week, linked below, we can see that the new version about to be released is nowhere near as disappointing as the reboot of 2015.  There will be far more maps, vehicle and heroes in the new game but we have yet to see if it will match the fun that was the original.  Hopefully it will, but it won't match the current price of $4 on GoG.

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"Battlefront 2's online relaunch doesn't seem to be going entirely smoothly for everyone, though. The game's Steam forums are currently clogged with threads such as Online is back but I can t [sic] play it, Can't join any servers, Multiplayer crashing and Insane server lag."

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Source: Ars Technica

Gigabyte Teases Z370 AORUS Gaming 7 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2017 - 01:31 AM |
Tagged: aorus, gigabyte, coffee lake, Z370, Z370 AORUS, RGB LED, gaming, overclocking

This week Gigabyte took the wraps off its lineup of Z370 motherboards that will support Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake processors. The new lineup is comprised of five models that incorporate Gigabyte Ultra Durable technology, Dual BIOS, server grade digital power delivery, ESS Sabre DAC, a high-quality headphone amplifier, M.2 thermal guards, RGBW and Digital LED headers, and support for monitoring and control of fans and water pumps using RGB Fusion and Smart Fan 5 respectively. At the top of the lineup is the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 which appears to have a lot to offer for enthusiasts planning a Coffee Lake build.

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The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by an improved digital VRM setup that is rated at 60A per power phase. The board uses 10K Ultra Durable Black capacitors as well. The VRMs are cooled by large aluminum heatsinks as well as a small fan tucked away under the “thermal armor” above the rear I/O panel connectors. Using Gigabyte’s Smart Fan 5 technology, the built-in fan as well as CPU and case fans can be set to stop when the PC is idle and only spin up when needed.

Speaking of cooling, the board has eight fan/water pump Hybrid Fan headers (one is rated at 3A) and nine temperature sensors.

There are four DDR4 DIMM slots to the right of the processor socket that support up to 4400 MHz memory clockspeeds. Storage is handled by six SATA 6Gbps ports, two M.2 (PCI-E/SATA), and one smaller PCI-E M.2 slot with support for Intel’s Optane Memory technology. Expansion slots include three PCI-E x16 slots (x16/x8/x4) and three PCI-E x1 slots. Other internal headers include a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C front panel, additional USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two RGBW LED headers, two Digital LED headers, two temperature sensor headers, and one Thunderbolt 3 Add-in card header. Power, reset, OC, and Clear CMOS buttons are also included on the board to make running it on a test bench and overclocking a bit easier.

For the RGB fans, there are several lighting zones on this board including on the VRMs, on the “Thermal Armor”, around the DIMM slots, around the PCI-E x16 slots, on the Z370 chipset heatsink, and a LED strip along the right side of the board that you can customize the look of with a 3D printer.

In addition to the Z370 chipset, Gigabyte is also using ASMedia silicon for additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, a Realtek chip for a USB 3.1 Gen 1 hub, Intel GbE LAN and Rivet Networks Killer E2500 NIC for Gigabit Ethernet, and Realtek ALC1220 audio codec for audio.

On the audio front, Gigabyte is spicing things up a bit by pairing that Realtek ALC1220 audio codec with an ESS9018Q2C DAC, Nichicon and WIMA audio capacitors, independent analog power(LME49720), a smart headphone amp (auto-detects impedance), gold plated audio jacks, and support for USB DAC-UP 2 technology (adjustable voltage to compensate for voltage drop).

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Around back the Aorus Gaming 7 features:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 5 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A
  • 2 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • 5 x 3.5mm audio out.

It appears that Gigabyte has packed a lot of hardware into its flagship Z370 motherboard, and with the actively cooled VRMs it should be a decent overclocker even when using water cooling for the CPU (though noise from the small fan might be an issue). Unfortunately, Gigabyte has not yet released pricing information. On the bright side, there are several models in the Aorus Z370 lineup for those that do not want the Killer networking, third PCI-E x16 slot, as many LEDs, or ESS Sabre audio where there is room to save some money to put towards a graphics card or monitor. I'll leave it up to Sebastian and Morry to determine if the audio is audiophile and CMOS placement is good enough respectively.

What are your thoughts on the Aorus Z370 lineup? Is it enough to entice you to upgrade to Coffee Lake?

Source: Gigabyte

Terra Invicta; X-COM gone intergalactic, planetary

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2017 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: Terra Invicta, x-com, long war, Pavonis Interactive, Kickstarter, gaming

Pavonis Interactive, the development team behind the wonderfully torturous Long War mods for the new X-COM series sat down with Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN to talk about their current project, a full game entitled Terra Invicta.  It will encompass the defence of Earth against an alien invasion force, similar to X-COM but will be their first game designed from the ground up with a Kickstarter campaign soon to get underway.  With two huge and impressive mods under their belt, the team should have what it takes to make this game very interesting.  For instance, they plan to have the battlefield encompass not just Earth, but to allow you to eventually take the fight to the stars.   Check out the full interview here.

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“It’s a little like what you might imagine the XCOM spokesman’s job to be,” Pavonis head John Lumpkin tells me, “trying to unify Earth’s nations against an alien threat.” And then it moves to cover the entire solar system."

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 arrives

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2017 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: gaming, divinity original sin 2

The original game was the first RPG that offered you a chance to argue with yourself, with a unique method of dialogue between the two main characters you played.  It incorporated the environmental effects of spells in a much more effective way than the majority of RPGs, making it wise to dump water on an opponent before zapping them with a lightning bolt.  The quests were often quite unique and the sequel seems to keep that alive, one reviewer at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN describes how they "ate the meat from the shark’s mouth" as part of the solution to a quest.  If you are looking for a different type of fantasy RPG that will make you smile, cry and scratch your head, often simultaneously, then check out the review and see if you want to pick up the game that launched today.

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"Divinity: Original Sin 2 is out of Early Access and fully released. Adam and John have both spent many, many hours with the alpha, and are now beginning to chew their way through the full version."

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The Fallout: New Vegas prequel mod may soon arrive as Fallout: New California

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, mod, fallout, Fallout: New California, fallout: new vegas

This mod has been eight years in the making but we may soon see it released for us all to enjoy.  The New Vegas mod will put you into the wilds of the NCR after being rather abruptly ejected from your home in Vault 18.  This will be a nice experience for those who found Fallout 4 to have strayed a bit far from the games roots, especially in the dialogue.  Head over to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a video showing off the mod and giving you a look into how your adventure will start.

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"Vault 18 is at the heart of the California Wasteland high in the San Bernardino Mountains, and its legendary Wasteland Scouts have managed to keep its secrets safe for decades despite the wars raging beyond the great door. In their old age, their adventures have created a new generation to take their place… if their rebellious adopted kids survive the threat brewing within their own ranks."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Clutch Chairz

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Clutch Chairz

The Throttle Series Gaming Chair is the king of Clutch Chairz gaming line, hosting the largest chairs in the cornucopia of offerings. The Throttle Series chairs are built to accommodate what I like to refer to as "normal-sized" gamers, being those of us more weathered enthusiasts in our 30-to-40 somethings with kids at various states of schooling. The series is built with larger profile seats and seat backs to better accommodate "normal-sized" people with its steel skeleton covered in soft leather and memory foam for premium comfort. That premium comfort comes with a premium price with the Throttle Series Gaming Chair MSRP coming in at $469.99.

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Courtesy of Clutch Chairz

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Courtesy of Clutch Chairz

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Courtesy of Clutch Chairz

As shown in the pics, the Throttle Series chair comes with two support pillows, an upper pillow with straps for neck support and a lower large pillow for lumbar support. Both support pillows are made from the same memory foam material as the chair. The chair itself has an adjustable seat back that goes between 90 and 180 degrees, as well as allowing for rocking without fear of tipping. Its armrests are adjustable in 4 dimensions and the seat can be height adjusted as well. From the detailed dimensions shown (all in mm), you get a better picture of just how large a Throttle Series chair is and the superb upper limits it can support.

Continue reading our review of the Clutch Chairz Throttle Series Gaming Chair!

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Blazkowicz

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2017 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: Wolfenstein 2, gaming, Blitzmensch

Here is one of the best advertisements for a game you will see all day.  It might be light on the gameplay, but one could forgive them due to the sheer campy beauty of it all. The game will not be out until October 27th; we suggest you use this video to tide you over until the release.  Remember, only you can prevent pre-order exclusive deals and Day 1 DLC ... and defeat Blitzmensch as well.

"Adam West has passed away, but now we get to see him impact on today's game marketing. Godspeed Adam! I still have that signed Batman picture you gave me when I was seven years old."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP