Vulkan is not extinct, in fact it might be about to erupt

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, Intel, Intel Skylake, kaby lake

The open source API, Vulkan, just received a big birthday present from Intel as they added official support on their Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs under Windows 10.  We have seen adoption of this API from a number of game engine designers, Unreal Engine and Unity have both embraced it, the latest DOOM release was updated to support Vulkan and there is even a Nintendo 64 renderer which runs on it.  Ars Technica points out that both AMD and NVIDIA have been supporting this API for a while and that we can expect to see Android implementations of this close to the metal solution in the near future.

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"After months in beta, Intel's latest driver for its integrated GPUs (version 15.45.14.4590) adds support for the low-overhead Vulkan API for recent GPUs running in Windows 10. The driver supports HD and Iris 500- and 600-series GPUs, the ones that ship with 6th- and 7th-generation Skylake and Kaby Lake processors."

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Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Quiet PC Launches Stylish Fanless Intel NUC-Based PC

Subject: Systems | May 25, 2016 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: UK, SFF, quiet pc, nuc, iris, Intel Skylake, hd graphics

Quiet PC (a UK-based retailer for PCs and components) recently launched a small form factor fanless PC based on Intel’s Skylake NUC platform. The new PC is aptly named the Ultra NUC Pro 6 and combines an Intel Skylake-based Core i5 processor with a fanless chassis from Aleutia (the R50) that results in a quiet and stylish PC.

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The understated case is built from a single block of aluminum using a CNC machine and 5-axis drill. It is primarily black although the center of the case reveals bare copper plates (that direct contact the CPU) used help facilitate cooling the 15W TDP Core i5-6260U CPU. The front panel hosts two USB 3.0 ports, an analog audio port, and IR receiver while the rear I/O includes two more USB 3.0 ports, one Wi-Fi antenna connector, Kensington lock, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), AC power, and mini DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4b video outputs.

Internally, you are able to configure this particular fanless NUC with either a Core i3 clocked at 2.3 GHz or a Core i5 clocked at 1.8 GHz base and up to 2.9 GHz Turbo Boost. Both 14nm chips have a 15W TDP and are dual cores with HyperThreading (2 core / 4 thread), but they differ in the GPU portion. The Core i3 hosts Intel HD Graphics 520 while the Core i5 has Intel’s Iris Graphics 540. Beyond the processor, users can configure the PC with up to 32GB of dual channel DDR4, a single M.2 form factor SSD (up to a 512GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD), and a pre-installed Wi-Fi module (Intel Wireless-AC 8260).

Alueta Quite PC Fanless NUC case.jpg

This new NUC measures 160 x 37 x 110mm and comes with a 2 year warranty. Quiet PC currently offers the base model at £575.83 (~$841.33) sans OS. The model with Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and Windows 10 Pro is £776.76 which translates to about $1135.23.

That is the major drawback of this nearly half liter PC: the price. Despite it’s neat industrial design, this PC is essentially priced out of the home market perhaps save for certain fanless enthusiasts like our friends at FanlessTech (hehe). Industrial customers that need a decently powerful PC without moving parts and an internal case that can gather dust, metals, wood, and whatever other factory and workshop conditions it might be subjected to would be interested in this however. Quiet PC further indicates that this fanless PC is aimed at marine and healthcare customers. Aleutia claims that at ambient temperatures of 21°C (69.8°F) the PC maxed out at 51°C (123.8°F) under 100% CPU load and the PC can be used in environments with ambient temperatures up to 50°C (122°F).

Do you think our friends on the other side of the pond have a nice quiet PC option or is the price of silence too much?

Also watch: Intel NUC5i5RYK SFF System Review - Broadwell NUC

Source: Quiet PC

CES 2016: Lenovo Announces Updated ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 3, 2016 - 10:30 PM |
Tagged: ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Thinkpad, NVMe, Lenovo, Intel Skylake, CES 2016, CES

The thinnest, lightest ThinkPad of them all, the X1 Carbon, has received an overhaul for 2016 with 6th gen Intel Core processors and NVMe SSDs among the upgrades.

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“The lightest 14" business Ultrabook. It is lighter and thinner with increased performance; 11hrs battery life, faster storage with NVMe SSDs, faster connectivity with LTE-A, and improved docking with WiGig & OneLink+.”

Lenovo provides this list of key features:

  • Up to Intel 6th Gen Core i7 vPro
  • 2560x1440 WQHD 300nits; 14” 1920x1080 FHD IPS, 300 nits
  • Up to 16GB memory
  • Up to 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Intel HDGraphics HD520
  • Optional LTE-A WWAN
  • Optional WiGig docking
  • Mil Spec tested
  • Common Ports: 3x USB 3.0; OneLink+ (RJ45), mDP, HDMI, microSD, Audio, Touch FPR, WWAN
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Battery life: Up to 11 hrs (52Whr)
  • Dimensions: 13.1 x 9.0 x .66 inches; 2.6lbs / 1179 g weight
  • Camera&Mic: 720p / Digital array mic

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The ThinkPad X1 Carbon will go on sale in February starting at $1299.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

Asus Lights Up Budget Skylake With New B150 Pro Gaming D3 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | November 11, 2015 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, Intel Skylake, Intel B150, asus

Asus has a bright new option for budget gamers with a Skylake compatible motherboard based around the B150 chipset. The Asus B150 Pro Gaming D3 is a cheaper alternative that sacrifices some expandability while still incorporating several enthusiast-friendly features.

Intel’s B150 chipset is a cheaper alternative to the Z170 which has received a lot more attention this year. 

The Asus B150 Pro Gaming D3 features a LGA 1151 socket ready for up to Core i7 Skylake processors that is powered by the company’s “Digi+” VRMs. On the memory front, Asus has opted for four DDR3 slots supporting up to 64GB dual channel DDR3 modules at 1,866 MHz. This is a departure from most of the Skylake motherboards that have launched this year which use DDR4. Opting for DDR3 means slightly less potential performance but at welcome cost savings.

For storage, this motherboard has six SATA 6Gbps ports and a single M.2 slot for solid state drives (albeit limited to 2 lanes of PCI-E).

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The lower-left of this budget board is dominated by a slew of expansion slots as well as Asus’ SupremeFX (Realtek ALC1150 codec) audio hardware. The B150 chipset powers a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot and the board further includes a second PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E x1 slots, and two PCI slots for legacy expansion cards. 

To help this board stand out, the company has added LED lighting above the PCI-E slot and along the right edge of the board. These LEDs can be configured as a solid color, to cycle colors, or to respond to changes in CPU temperature or load (which could help accentuate a custom case mod or simply act as more "bling").

Rear I/O is decent with the following options:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 4 x USB 3.0 (Intel B150)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (ASMedia)
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel)
  • 5 x Analog audio (300 ohm headphone support, Realtek codec)
  • 1 x S/PDIF

There are some limitations with this board, however. The major downgrade from Z170 to B150 is the number of PCI Express lanes from 20 on Z170 to 8 with B150. As such, when using the second physical x16 slot (max electrical x4) with a x4 or faster device the two physical x1 slots will be disabled. Further, when using the M.2 slot for your SSD in SATA mode, one of the physical SATA ports will be disabled. There is only so much bandwidth to go around here as well as the loss of overclocking ability with the cheaper chipset.

Naturally, Asus has not released specific pricing or availability for the B150 Pro Gaming D3. Expect it to undercut existing Skylake compatible boards, though. And if you have been thinking about upgrading, this is a cheaper upgrade path (you can re-use your DDR3 memory) that is an alternative to the Biostar board that can support both DDR3 and DDR4.

Also read: The Intel Core i7-6700K Review - Skylake First for Enthusiasts

Source: Asus

ASRock Scores a Fatal1ty With Its $200 Mini ITX Gaming Motherboard For Skylake CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2015 - 01:23 AM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, M.2, LGA 1151, Intel Skylake, asrock

ASRock (the Taiwan-based manufacturer currently owned by Pegatron) recently revealed its take on miniature Skylake motherboards with the Mini ITX form factor Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac.

The new SFF motherboard uses an 8-layer PCB with high quality Nichicon capacitors and the company’s Digi Power 8-phase power delivery feeding the LGA 1151 socket. The board has a red and black aesthetic with red VRM and Z170 chipset heatsinks, memory slots, and PCI-E slot adding a bit of flair to the otherwise all-black PCB and connectors. Very little space is wasted on this board save for the top edge. To the right of the CPU socket are two DDR4 memory slots (maximum 32GB at 4,000 MHz) and a single SATA Express connector. The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac further features four SATA III 6 Gbps (in addition to the two ports used for SATA Express) ports.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX_ac.jpg

Expansion slots include a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, a M.2 slot with four lanes of PCI-E 3.0 mounted on the underside of the board, and a half-size Mini PCI-E slot that is used for the pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card

ASRock is using an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio, and Realtek ALC1150 audio codec on this board. Keeping in line with the “Fatal1ty” theme, the board supports, using software, and adjustable USB polling rate on a certain rear port from 1 Hz up to 1,000 Hz with the default being 500 Hz.

On the back of the motherboard, it provides the following I/O options:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 5 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 3.0 “Fatal1ty Mouse Port” (adjustable polling rate up to 1,000 Hz)
  • 2 x USB 3.1 (one Type-A and one Type-C)
  • Video outputs:
    • 2 x HDMI (4K@60Hz)
    • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical audio output

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming ITX/ac is available now for $185 at various online retailers (Amazon affiliate code – support PC Perspective when you shop at Amazon).

This board looks to be a solid base for a tiny gaming system (perhaps paired with the R9 Nano in a svelte living room friendly chassis even without going in for the Fatal1ty gamer-centric branding, if that's your thing. I am expecting this board to be priced competitively with or to come in slightly less than the Asus Mini ITX Z170 motherboard I wrote about yesterday. The audio and overclocking potential, at least in theory and bare specifications, appear to be a bit cut back on this board in comparison, but in exchange for that it's (hopefully slightly cheaper while still giving you most of the essentials. We'll have to wait for actual reviews where they are both put to the test to see for certain though!

For those curious, check out the manufacturer's page with photos and specifications as well as our previous coverage of the board from CES before we had the details on pricing and confirmation of 4K@60Hz HDMI and the Ultra M.2 slot support (and the user discussions).

Source: ASRock

IFA 2015: Lenovo Introduces New ideapad Notebook Lineup

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, Lenovo, laptops, Intel Skylake, Intel Braswell, IFA 2015, ideapad 500S, ideapad 300S, ideapad 100S, Ideapad, gtx, APU, amd

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Lenovo has unveiled their reinvented their ideapad (now all lowercase) lineup at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and the new laptops feature updated processors including Intel Braswell and Skylake, as well as some discrete AMD and NVIDIA GPU options.

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At the entry-level price-point we find the ideapad 100S which does not contain one of the new Intel chips, instead running an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU and priced accordingly at just $189 for the 11.6” version and $259 for the 14” model. While low-end specs (2GB RAM, 32GB/64GB eMMC storage, 1366x768 screen) aren’t going to blow anyone away, these at least provide a Windows 10 alternative to a Chromebook at about the same cost, and to add some style Lenovo is offering the laptop in four colors: blue, red, white, and silver.

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Moving up to the 300S we find a 14” laptop (offered in red, black, or white) with Intel Pentium Braswell processors up to the quad-core N3700, and the option of a FHD 1920x1080 display. Memory and storage options will range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD. At 0.86" thick the 300S weighs 2.9 lbs, and prices will start at $479.

A lower-cost ideapad 300, without the “S” and with more basic styling, will be available in sizes ranging from 14” to 17” and prices starting between $399 and $549 for their respective models. A major distinction will be the inclusion of both Braswell and Intel 6th Gen Skylake CPUs, as well at the option of a discrete AMD GPU (R5 330M). 

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Last we have the ideapad 500S, available in 13.3”, 14”, and 15.6” versions. With Intel 6th Gen processors up to Core i7 like the 300S, these also offer optional NVIDIA GPUs (GTX 920M for the 13.3", 940M for the 14"+) and up to FHD screen resolution. Memory and storage options range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD, and the 500S is a bit thinner and lighter than the 300S, with the 13.3” version 0.76” thick and 3.4 lbs, moving up to 0.81” and 4.6 lbs with the 15.6” version.

A non-S version of the ideapad 500 will also be available, and this will be the sole AMD CPU representative with the option of an all-AMD solution powered by up to the A10-7300 APU, or a combination of R7 350M graphics along with 6th Gen Intel Core processors. 14” and 15” models will be available starting at $399 for the APU model and $499 with an Intel CPU.

All of the new laptops ship with Windows 10 as Microsoft’s newest OS arrived just in time for the back-to-school season.

Source: Lenovo

MSI Announces Z170I Gaming Pro AC Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, Z170, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel Skylake

MSI has announced a new mini-ITX motherboard for Intel's latest chipset, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC.

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Mini-ITX boards have been hard to come by for Skylake thus far, with very few models and limited availability in the first month (though not quite as elusive as the i7-6700K). With this new gaming-oriented board MSI offers another option, and it looks pretty impressive with 5-phase power delivery, 802.11ac wireless, an Intel onboard NIC, and M.2 support from a slot on the back of the PCB.

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Pricing isn't immediately available, but the existing Mini-ITX Z170 motherboards (EVGA and ASRock each have one) have been selling for $199 so I'd expect something in that vicinity.

Source: TechPowerUp

Skyleak!

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2015 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: Intel Skylake, Intel

As always you should take these leaks with a bit of salt but if they are accurate Skylake may well offer enough enhancements to make a convincing argument for buying a new machine.  The GPU portion of the high end mobile processors will be 34-41% faster than the models available now, with the desktop seeing a moderate 28% jump for those who do not have an add-in card.  The low powered mobile model's performance is not much improved over the previous generation but the claimed 80% reduction in power usage is more than enough to make up for that.  

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SPECint benchmarks show that Skylak will offer a performance boost a bit over 10% but the added 1.4 hours of battery life is rather impressive, even the desktop part is more efficient with a 65W TDP.  As for accessories, Skylake will support 4k cameras and new and improved RealSense 3D cameras, Wake on Voice support and improved touch sensors.  You can see the other two leaked slides at FanlessTech.
 

Source: Fanless Tech

Report: No Stock Cooler Bundled with Intel Skylake-K Unlocked CPUs

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2015 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: skylake-s, Skylake-K, Intel Skylake, cpu cooler

A report from Chinese-language site XFastest contains a slide reportedly showing Intel's cooling strategy for upcoming retail HEDT (High-end Desktop) Skylake "K" processors.

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Typically Intel CPUs (outside of the current high-end enthusiast segment on LGA2011) have been packaged with one of Intel's ubiquitous standard performance air coolers, and this move to eliminate them from future unlocked SKUs makes sense for unlocked "K" series processors. The slide indicates that a 135W solution will be recommended, even if the TDP of the processor is still in the 91-95W range. The additional headroom is certainly advisable, and arguably the stock cooler never should have been used with products like the 4770K and 4790K, which more than push the limits of the stock cooler (and often allow 90 °C at load without overclocking in my experience with these high-end chips).

Aftermarket cooling (with AIO liquid CPU coolers in particular) has been essential for maximizing the performance of an unlocked CPU all along, so this news shouldn't effect the appeal of these upcoming CPUs for those interested in the latest Intel offerings (though it won't help enhance your collection of unused stock heatsinks).

Computex 2015: ASRock Shows Off Skylake-Based Z170 Gaming Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 10, 2015 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, mini ITX, Intel Skylake, computex 2015, computex, asrock

ASRock had some nice looking motherboards on display at Computex, but one in particular caught my attention. The ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac is a Mini ITX motherboard ready to support Intel's upcoming Skylake processor, DDR4 memory, and a slew of speedy connectivity options.

Asrock Z170 Gaming-ITXac Mini ITX Motherboard.jpg

The LGA 1151 socket is situated in the middle of the compact board and is surrounded by a 6+2 power phase, two DDR4 memory slots, the PCH with red heatsink and ASRock Gaming logo, a mini PCI-E slot with pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi card, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot snuggled along the bottom edge. Storage support includes four SATA 3 ports and a single SATA Express port in the bottom right corner. Several websites are also reporting that this board has an Ultra M.2 port as well, which may be located on the underside of the board like existing Mini ITX motherboard implementations (for space reasons). Unfortunately, I was not able to dig up any photos of the back so we will have to wait for reviews to confirm this. 

As far as external I/O, the motherboard has the following ports on the rear panel:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs (two HDMI and one DisplayPort)
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN (from Intel)
  • 3 x Analog audio output
  • 1 x Optical audio output

In all, this pint-size motherboard packs a punch and will make for a powerful small form factor gaming PC when paired with a Skylake CPU and dedicated graphics card! Of course, the all-important pricing and availability were not announced at the show.

Source: VR-Zone