A USB-C Headset Powered by an ESS Quad-DAC

The ROG Delta is a gaming headset from the Republic of Gamers division of ASUS that offers a Hi-Res audio certification thanks to its ASUS Essence 50 mm drivers with a 20-40,000 Hz frequency response and implementation of a high-end ESS Quad-DAC, and offers custom lighting effects via the circular RGB lighting on each ear cup. A wired headset exclusively, it connects via USB-C or standard USB 2.0 for use with PCs as well as compatible consoles and smartphones.

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“ROG Delta is the world's first gaming headset with the industry-leading, hi-fi-grade ESS 9218 quad DAC, which delivers impeccably clear and detailed sound to give serious gamers the edge they need to win. ROG Delta features a USB-C connector and comes with a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter to let you game on your PC, console and mobile device without changing headsets. A one-of-a-kind, circular rainbow RGB lighting effect provides a stylish look to set you apart on the battlefield.”

Features from ASUS ROG:

  • Industry-leading hi-res ESS quad-DAC for impeccably detailed and true-to-life audio
  • USB-C connector for true multiplatform support, including PCs, Mac, mobile phones and PS4
  • Customizable, multi-color circular RGB lighting lets you shine in style
  • Exclusive ASUS Essence drivers, airtight chamber and audio signal diversion technology for immersive audio experiences
  • Upgraded comfort with ergonomic D-shape and ROG Hybrid ear cushions

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Why a quad-DAC design? When ESS released the ES9218 they pointed to these “internally connected parallel quad DACs” as the key to delivering its rated 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N, in addition to signal-to-noise of up to 130 dB, with ASUS stating that their implementation with the ROG Delta makes the headset “capable of achieving an unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio of 127 dB, a level untouchable by single-DAC gaming headsets.”

Another aspect of the ultra-low noise of the ROG Delta is a design feature that ASUS calls “Hyper-Grounding”, which is an ROG-exclusive technology with an intelligent multi-layer PCB design that prevents interference and shields the audio signals from any RGB lighting-related PWM switching noise.

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So how does this very impressively-specified hi-fi gaming headset sound? I’ll offer my impressions after we check out the design and talk about fit and comfort.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Delta gaming headset

This is your father's BattleTech!

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2019 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: roguetech, mod, gaming, battletech

Have you already collected every 'mech available in the game and bashed your way through the Flashpoint expansion and are looking for something new in your BattleTech gaming time?  How does gunning down a CattleMaster, Uriel or Phoenix Hawk with an LBX Autocannon sound?  RogueTech is a huge mod for Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech which adds over 1000 'mechs, just about every weapon added into the tabletop game over the years, a fair number of new crunchies and even those annoying Power Armour nitwits.  

The changes go deeper than that, with total overhauls to movement, gunnery and how damage is inflicted, by yourself as well as others.  Expect your first missions to go poorly as you stumble your way through the complete revamp of the game, as you can read about over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN; installation instructions included.

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"It brings the combat a little more in line with the full, expanded tabletop rule-set (which no sane person ever used, thanks to requiring dozens of skill checks and countless dice rolled a turn), but through the magic of computers, we can experience all the thrills of full simulation-level ‘Mech combat without putting you to sleep or frying your brain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

NVIDIA to Add Real-Time Ray Tracing Support to Pascal GPUs via April Driver Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2019 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, Unity, turing, rtx, ray tracing, pascal, nvidia, geforce, GTC 19, GTC, gaming, developers

Today at GTC NVIDIA announced a few things of particular interest to gamers, including GameWorks RTX and the implementation of real-time ray tracing in upcoming versions of both Unreal Engine and Unity (we already posted the news that CRYENGINE will be supporting real-time ray tracing as well). But there is something else... NVIDIA is bringing ray tracing support to GeForce GTX graphics cards.

DXR_GPUs.png

This surprising turn means that hardware RT support won’t be limited to RTX cards after all, as the install base of NVIDIA ray-tracing GPUs “grows to tens of millions” with a simple driver update next month, adding the feature to both to previous-gen Pascal and the new Turing GTX GPUs.

How is this possible? It’s all about the programmable shaders:

“NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs powered by Pascal and Turing architectures will be able to take advantage of ray tracing-supported games via a driver expected in April. The new driver will enable tens of millions of GPUs for games that support real-time ray tracing, accelerating the growth of the technology and giving game developers a massive installed base.

With this driver, GeForce GTX GPUs will execute ray traced effects on shader cores. Game performance will vary based on the ray-traced effects and on the number of rays cast in the game, along with GPU model and game resolution. Games that support the Microsoft DXR and Vulkan APIs are all supported.

However, GeForce RTX GPUs, which have dedicated ray tracing cores built directly into the GPU, deliver the ultimate ray tracing experience. They provide up to 2-3x faster ray tracing performance with a more visually immersive gaming environment than GPUs without dedicated ray tracing cores.”

A very important caveat is that “2-3x faster ray tracing performance” for GeForce RTX graphics cards mentioned in the last paragraph, so expectations will need to be tempered as RT features will be less efficient running on shader cores (Pascal and Turing) than they are with dedicated cores, as demonstrated by these charts:

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It's going to be a busy April.

Source: NVIDIA
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

AMD and NVIDIA GPUs Tested

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 launched over the weekend and we've been testing it out over the past couple of days with a collection of currently-available graphics cards. Of interest to AMD fans, this game joins the ranks of those well optimized for Radeon graphics, and with a new driver (Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2) released over the weekend it was a good time to run some benchmarks and see how some AMD and NVIDIA hardware stack up.

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The Division 2 offers DirectX 11 and 12 support, and uses Ubisoft's Snowdrop engine to provide some impressive visuals, particularly at the highest detail settings. We found the "ultra" preset to be quite attainable with very playable frame rates from most midrange-and-above hardware even at 2560x1440, though bear in mind that this game uses quite a bit of video memory. We hit a performance ceiling at 4GB with the "ultra" preset even at 1080p, so we opted for 6GB+ graphics cards for our final testing. And while most of our testing was done at 1440p we did test a selection of cards at 1080p and 4K, just to provide a look at how the GPUs on test scaled when facing different workloads.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

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Washington D.C. is on the brink of collapse. Lawlessness and instability threaten our society, and rumors of a coup in the capitol are only amplifying the chaos. All active Division agents are desperately needed to save the city before it's too late.

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Developed by Ubisoft Massive and the same teams that brought you Tom Clancy’s The Division, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is an online open world, action shooter RPG experience set in a collapsing and fractured Washington, D.C. This rich new setting combines a wide variety of beautiful, iconic, and realistic environments where the player will experience the series’ trademark for authenticity in world building, rich RPG systems, and fast-paced action like never before.

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Play solo or co-op with a team of up to four players to complete a wide range of activities, from the main campaign and adversarial PvP matches to the Dark Zone – where anything can happen.

Continue reading our preview of GPU performance with The Division 2

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 with Windows 7 DX12 Support

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2019 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Windows 7, The Division 2, radeon, graphics, gpu, gaming, dx12, driver, DirectX 12, amd, Adrenalin, 19.3.2

AMD has released Radeon 19.3.2 drivers, adding support for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and offering a performance boost with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. This update also adds a number of new Vulkan extensions. But wait, there's more: "DirectX 12 on Windows 7 for supported game titles." The DX12-ening is upon us.

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Here are AMD's release notes for 19.3.2:

Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 Highlights

Support For

  • Tom Clancy’s The Division® 2
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI: Gathering Storm
    • Up to 4% average performance gains on AMD Radeon VII with Radeon™ Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 vs 19.2.3. RS-288
  • DirectX® 12 on Windows®7 for supported game titles
    • AMD is thrilled to help expand DirectX® 12 adoption across a broader range of Windows operating systems with Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 18.12.2 and onward, which enables consumers to experience exceptional levels of detail and performance in their games.

Fixed Issues

  • Radeon ReLive for VR may sometimes fail to install during Radeon Software installation.
  • Fan curve may fail to switch to manual mode after the manual toggle is switched when fan curve is still set to default behavior.
  • Changes made in Radeon WattMan settings via Radeon Overlay may sometimes not save or take effect once Radeon Overlay is closed.

Known Issues

  • Rainbow Six Siege™ may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay.
  • DOTA™2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan® API.
  • Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics.
  • Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII..

More release notes after the break.

Source: AMD

Need a new NVIDIA GPU but don't want to get Ti'd down in debt?

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2019 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: video card, turing, rtx, nvidia, gtx 1660 ti, gtx 1660, gtx 1060, graphics card, geforce, GDDR5, gaming, 6Gb

Sebastian has given you a look at the triple slot EVGA GTX 1660 XC Black as well as the dual fan and dual slot MSI GTX 1660 GAMING X, both doing well in benchmarks especially when overclocked.  The new GTX 1660 does come in other shapes and sizes, like the dual slot, single fan GTX 1660 StormX OC 6G from Palit which The Guru of 3D reviewed.  Do not underestimate it because of its diminutive size, the Boost Clock is 1830MHz out of the box and with some tweaking will sit around 2070MHz and the GDDR5 pushed up to 9800MHz.

Check out even more models below.

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"We review a GeForce GTX 1660 that is priced spot on that 219 USD marker, the MSRP of the new non-Ti model, meet the petite Palit GeForce GTX 1660 StormX OC edition. Based on a big single fan and a small form factor you should not be fooled by its looks. It performs well on all fronts, including cooling acoustic levels."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Guru of 3D
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Turing at $219

NVIDIA has introduced another midrange GPU with today’s launch of the GTX 1660. It joins the GTX 1660 Ti as the company’s answer to high frame rate 1080p gaming, and hits a more aggressive $219 price point, with the GTX 1660 Ti starting at $279. What has changed, and how close is this 1660 to the “Ti” version launched just last month? We find out here.

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RTX and Back Again

We are witnessing a shift in branding from NVIDIA, as GTX was supplanted by RTX with the introduction of the 20 series, only to see “RTX” give way to GTX as we moved down the product stack beginning with the GTX 1660 Ti. This has been a potentially confusing change for consumers used to the annual uptick in series number. Most recently we saw the 900 series move logically to 1000 series (aka 10 series) cards, so when the first 2000 series cards were released it seemed as if the 20 series would be a direct successor to the GTX cards of the previous generation.

But RTX ended up being more of a feature level designation, and not so much a new branding for GeForce cards as we had anticipated. No, GTX is here to stay it appears, and what then of the RTX cards and their real-time ray tracing capabilities? Here the conversation changes to focus on higher price tags and the viability of early adoption of ray tracing tech, and enter the internet of outspoken individuals who decry ray-tracing, and more so DLSS; NVIDIA’s proprietary deep learning secret sauce that has seemingly become as controversial as the Genesis planet in Star Trek III.

  GTX 1660 GTX 1660 Ti RTX 2060 RTX 2070 GTX 1080 GTX 1070 GTX 1060 6GB
GPU TU116 TU116 TU106 TU106 GP104 GP104 GP106
Architecture Turing Turing Turing Turing Pascal Pascal Pascal
SMs 22 24 30 36 20 15 10
CUDA Cores 1408 1536 1920 2304 2560 1920 1280
Tensor Cores N/A N/A 240 288 N/A N/A N/A
RT Cores N/A N/A 30 36 N/A N/A N/A
Base Clock 1530 MHz 1500 MHz 1365 MHz 1410 MHz 1607 MHz 1506 MHz 1506 MHz
Boost Clock 1785 MHz 1770 MHz 1680 MHz 1620 MHz 1733 MHz 1683 MHz 1708 MHz
Texture Units 88 96 120 144 160 120 80
ROPs 48 48 48 64 64 64 48
Memory 6GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR6 6GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5X 8GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5
Memory Data Rate 8 Gbps 12 Gbps 14 Gbps 14 Gbps 10 Gbps 8 Gbps 8 Gbps
Memory Interface 192-bit 192-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit
Memory Bandwidth 192.1 GB/s 288.1 GB/s 336.1 GB/s 448.0 GB/s 320.3 GB/s 256.3 GB/s 192.2 GB/s
Transistor Count 6.6B 6.6B 10.8B 10.8B 7.2B 7.2B 4.4B
Die Size 284 mm2 284 mm2 445 mm2 445 mm2 314 mm2 314 mm2 200 mm2
Process Tech 12 nm 12 nm 12 nm 12 nm 16 nm 16 nm 16 nm
TDP 120W 120W 160W 175W 180W 150W 120W
Launch Price $219 $279 $349 $499 $599 $379 $299

So what is a GTX 1660 minus the “Ti”? A hybrid product of sorts, it turns out. The card is based on the same TU116 GPU as the GTX 1660 Ti, and while the Ti features the full version of TU116, this non-Ti version has two of the SMs disabled, bringing the count from 24 to 22. This results in a total of 1408 CUDA cores - down from 1536 with the GTX 1660 Ti. This 128-core drop is not as large as I was expecting from the vanilla 1660, and with the same memory specs the capabilities of this card would not fall far behind - but this card uses the older GDDR5 standard, matching the 8 Gbps speed and 192 GB/s bandwidth of the outgoing GTX 1060, and not the 12 Gbps GDDR6 and 288.1 GB/s bandwidth of the GTX 1660 Ti.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card

Phoenix Point suffers Epic mission creep

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2019 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: phoenix point, gaming, epic games, Snapshot Games

Fans of the original X-COM will soon have a reason to visit the Epic Games Store, as not quite released yet Phoenix Point will be sold there, exclusively.  For those backers who cannot bear the idea of creating an account, you can request a refund but if you don't you will get a years worth of DLC for free, not that we know as of yet what those additions may be.  The offer does suggest that Snapshot Games is getting a good deal as the crowdfunding campaign fell short of a few reach goals which might be an indication of what the contents of the DLC will be.  If you didn't back the game and are still interested you will be able to pick it up for around $40. 

Drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a look at the video announcement of this decision.

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"Phoenix Point will launch exclusively on the Epic Games Store now for £36, although they are offering refunds for those who absolutely wanted the game on Steam or GOG. You can find its official site here."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

NVIDIA Explains How Higher Frame Rates Can Give You an Edge in Battle Royale Games

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 7, 2019 - 11:07 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, gaming, fps, battle royale

NVIDIA has published an article about GPU performance and its impact on gaming, specifically the ultra-popular battle royale variety. The emphasis is on latency, and reducing this when gaming with a combination of high FPS numbers and a 144 Hz (and higher) refresh display. Many of these concepts may seem obvious (competitive gaming on CRTs and/or lower resolutions for max performance comes to mind), but there are plenty of slides to look over - with many more over at NVIDIA's post.

"For many years, esports pros have tuned their hardware for ultra-high frame rates -- 144 or even 240 FPS -- and they pair their hardware with high refresh rate monitors. In fact, ProSettings.net and ProSettings.com report that 99% of Battle Royale Pros (Fortnite,PUBG and Apex Legends) are using 144 Hz monitors or above, and 30% are using 240 Hz monitors. This is because when you run a game, an intricate process occurs in your PC from the time you press the keyboard or move the mouse, to the time you see an updated frame on the screen. They refer to this time period as ‘latency’, and the lower your latency the better your response times will be."

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While a GTX 750 Ti to RTX 2080 comparison defies explanation, latency obviously drops with performance in this example

"Working with pros through NVIDIA’s research team and Esports Studio, we have seen the benefits of high FPS and refresh rates play out in directed aiming and perception tests. In blind A/B tests, pros in our labs have been able to consistently discern and see benefits from even a handful of milliseconds of reduced latency.

But what does higher frame rates and lower latency mean for your competitiveness in Battle Royale? A few things:

  • Higher FPS means that you see the next frame more quickly and can respond to it
  • Higher FPS on a high Hz monitor makes the image appear smoother, and moving targets easier to aim at. You are also less likely to see microstutters or “skip pixels” from one frame to the next as you pan your crosshair across the screen
  • Higher FPS combined with G-SYNC technologies like Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) makes objects and text sharper and easier to comprehend in fast moving scenes

This is why for Battle Royale games, which rely heavily on reaction times and your ability to spot an enemy quickly, you want to play at 144 FPS or more."

One of the more interesting aspects of this article relates to K/D ratios, with NVIDIA claiming an edge in this are based on GPU performance and monitor refresh rate:

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"We were curious to understand how hardware and frame rates affect overall competitiveness in Battle Royale games for everyday gamers - while better hardware can’t replace practice and training, it should assist gamers in getting closer to their maximum potential."

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"One of the common metrics of player performance in Battle Royales is kill-to-death (K/D) ratio -- how many times you killed another player divided by how many times another player killed you. Using anonymized GeForce Experience Highlights data on K/D events for PUBG and Fortnite, we found some interesting insights on player performance and wanted to share this information with the community."

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For more on this topic, and many more charts, check out the article over at NVIDIA.com.

Source: NVIDIA

Logitech's 24-Hour Gaming Stream and Fundraiser for International Women’s Day Starts Today

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2019 - 10:37 AM |
Tagged: water, twitch, streaming, logitech g, logitech, IWD, International Women’s Day, gaming, fundraiser, event, charity, blue microphones, ASTRO Gaming

Logitech is hosting a 24-hour live stream beginning today (March 7) at 2:00 PM Pacific Time / 5:00 PM Eastern  to celebrate International Women’s Day; with Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming, and Blue Microphones also involved in this "multi-city live stream".

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"To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to acknowledge the women who contributed to gaming. Some of our favorite games have women at the helm, and many women are involved in creating the amazing technology used to play these great games.

As a part of this celebration,  Logitech, Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming and  Blue Microphones will host a 24-hour, multi-city live stream on March 7 and 8 to raise funds for charity: water. Their goal is to bring clean and safe drinking water to developing countries improving health, education and opportunity – especially for women and children, who spend up to 40 billion hours a year walking to collect clean water. It’s our goal to help improve the quality of life for women globally."

You can access the stream via the Logitech G Twitch channel and on TILTIFY, featuring "female gamers and Logitech employees around the world." Donations can be made to the foundation during the live stream, with Logitech matching the first $15,000.

"Please join us for this one-of-a-kind event. Help us celebrate diversity and donate to a worthy cause. As little as a $30 donation will bring clean water to an individual for an entire year. And if we hit our $30,000 goal, we’ll be able to bring three full communities clean water!"

Logitech provides this 24-hour stream schedule:

Thursday, March 7

  • 2pm – 10pm PT
    • Broadcast from the Logitech office in Newark, Calif.
    • Guest Streamer: @JessBrohard
  • 10pm – 2am PT /  Mar 8 7pm – 11pm Napier, New Zealand
    • Broadcast from New Zealand
    • Guest Streamer: LoriiPops

Friday, March 8

  • 2am – 6am PT / 10am – 2pm GMT
    • Broadcast from the Logitech office in Cork, Ireland
    • Guest Streamer: Fuzzy Freaks
  • 6am – 10am PT / 8am – 12pm CST
    • Broadcast from Mexico City, Mexico (in Spanish)
    • Guest Streamer: Why So Sara
  • 10am – 2pm PT
    • Broadcast from ASTRO Gaming in San Francisco, Calif.
    • Guest Streamer: @JessBrohard
Source: Logitech