Subject: Mobile | November 11, 2015 - 03:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: yoga 900, yoga, video, Skylake, Lenovo, Intel
The barrage of Skylake powered notebooks and tablets has begun and the PC Perspective offices are filling to the gills with boxes and samples. I have already previewed the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in preparation for our full review, so I thought I would do the same for the Lenovo Yoga 900. This is the first product released as part of a new branding scheme Lenovo has adopted for its flexible notebook line.
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a 13-in convertible notebook that can be used in the classic clamshell form factor in addition to the fully collapsed mode to operate as a tablet (and in two other forms). It maintains the same watch bad style hinge that was introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and starts at $1099 with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, a 3200x1800 resolution touch screen and a 256GB NVMe SSD. You can find it in orange, gold or silver colors.
Even maxed out with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, the Yoga 900 is quite affordable, at just $1299!
For this generation Lenovo has decided to use the full 15 watt Skylake processor which will improve performance over the Yoga 3 Pro (the previous model) quite dramatically. If you remember back to last year, the Yoga 3 Pro was thinner and lighter than the Yoga 2 Pro but actually took a step backwards in performance (using a Core M processor) and battery life. Lenovo got lots of feedback that users weren't interested in those trade offs and the Yoga 900 is a bit thicker and heavier, but offers better performance and impressive battery life at over 9 hours in our Wi-Fi browsing tests.
Connectivity is decent for a thin and light machine including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, SD card reader and a combination power port / USB port. That combo port is used to plug in your charger when you are tethered to power or utilize it as an additional USB port for accessories when mobile.
The keyboard and trackpad are still question marks for me - it definitely doesn't feel like previous Lenovo keyboards, with very little throw a requirement to fit in this form factor. I'll give it until we post our full review to really pass judgment.
Check out the video preview as well for some more thoughts on the new Lenovo Yoga 900!!
Subject: Motherboards | November 6, 2015 - 02:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z170A Gaming M7, msi, LGA 1151, Intel
At $220 currently the MSI Z170A Gaming M7 sits comfortably between a value board and a flagship model. The heatsinks not only look good but provide decent cooling as well, as [H]ard|OCP points out in their review. As far as connectivity goes, this board has a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports, two SEx ports and two M.2 slots along with a total of seven USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 ports, one of which has a Type-C connection. There are three PCIe 3.0 slots, x16 in design and capable of running x8/x8/x4 when all populated, with another four 1x slots for an impressive total number of slots. Check out the overclocking performance and the new UEFI which replaces the old Click BIOS in the full review.
"MSI has changed gears as of late vowing to be the number one motherboard manufacturer in the "gaming" segment. While a "gaming" motherboard MSI is still focused on overclocking with this model. We look at the Z170A Gaming M7 to see if it brings MSI one step closer or a step away from that very goal."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- EVGA Z170 Classified Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- ASUS Maximus VIII Gene Review @ OCC
- Asus Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 @ Kitguru
- ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero Review @ OCC
- Gigabyte GA-X99-SOC Champion Sub-Zero Overclocking @ eTeknix
- Choosing the Right Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2015 - 01:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, r9 nano, Lian-Li, q30, q33, Thrustmaster, T150, amd, catalyst, radeon software, crimson, game ready, GFE, ECS, LIVA X2, Braswell, Intel, fallout 4, CRYORIG
PC Perspective Podcast #374 - 11/05/2015
Join us this week as we discuss cases for the R9 Nano, Thrustmaster T150, The End of AMD Catalyst and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:21:59
Week in Review:
0:35:50 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintreepayments.com/pcper
News item of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel
In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.
The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.
Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.
So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!
Subject: Processors | October 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon D, SoC, rumor, report, processor, Pentium D, Intel, cpu
Intel's Xeon D SoC lineup will soon expand to include 12-core and 16-core options, after the platform launched earlier this year with the option of 4 or 8 cores for the 14 nm chips.
The report yesterday from CPU World offers new details on the refreshed lineup which includes both Xeon D and Pentium D SoCs:
"According to our sources, Intel have made some changes to the lineup, which is now comprised of 13 Xeon D and Pentium D SKUs. Even more interesting is that Intel managed to double the maximum number of cores, and consequentially combined cache size, of Xeon D design, and the nearing Xeon D launch may include a few 12-core and 16-core models with 18 MB and 24 MB cache."
The move is not unexpected as Intel initially hinted at an expanded offering by the end of the year (emphasis added):
"...the Intel Xeon processor D-1500 product family is the first offering of a line of processors that will address a broad range of low-power, high-density infrastructure needs. Currently available with 4 or 8 cores and 128 GB of addressable memory..."
Current Xeon D Processors
The new flagship Xeon D model will be the D-1577, a 16-core processor with between 18 and 24 MB of L3 cache (exact specifications are not yet known). These SoCs feature integrated platform controller hub (PCH), I/O, and dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and the initial offerings had up to a 45W TDP. It would seem likely that a model with double the core count would either necessitate a higher TDP or simply target a lower clock speed. We should know more before too long.
For futher information on Xeon D, please check out our previous coverage:
- New Intel Xeon D Broadwell Processors Aimed at Low Power, High Density Servers @ PC Perspective.
- Xeon D Podcast Discussion at 0:40:35 (YouTube or downloadable audio).
Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2015 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x5 Z8300, UP board, Intel, Cherry Trail, atom
Intel's efforts to put an x86 processor in your pocket have been rather varied, from the old Minnowboard, the Compute Stick and recently the new Intel Galileo and Edison chips. Apart from the new Galileo and Edison releases, the hobby community have not adopting them in the same way that they have Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Hack a Day has a post about a new product that might be a bridge between Raspberry hackers and x86 hackers called the UP Board.
It is the size of a credit card and is powered by a quad-core Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8300 clocked at 1.84GHz, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC Flash. For peripheral support it has a Gigabit NIC, five USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, HDMI and most importantly, the same 40-pin GPIO pin connector the Raspberry Pi Model B Plus uses as well as DSI and CSI connectors for the Raspberry Pi camera and touch screen. This offers familiar hardware for those already familiar with the Raspberry and means that the kits they currently have could be transferred. It will be interesting to see if this brings x86 functionality and interfaces into hobbyist scene.
"Efforts to put x86 on a dev board have included the Minnowboard, the Intel Galileo and Edison, and even the Intel Compute Stick. These have not seen the uptake you would expect from a small x86-powered board, but that tide may soon turn. The UP board is exactly what you would expect from a Raspberry Pi-inspired board with a real Intel processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft offers to PAY YOU to trade in your old computer for a Windows 10 device @ The Register
- Standards body wants standards for IoT. Vendors don't care @ The Register
- Windows 10 will nag you not to ditch default Microsoft Edge browser @ The Inquirer
- $65m write-down, ARM chips ship: A 90-second guide to Planet AMD @ The Register
- LEAGOO Elite 4 Smartphone Giveaway @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2015 - 01:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, western digital, vertagear, seasonic, ocz, nzxt, newegg, Intel, hyperx, contest, asus
There is a contest on NewEgg right now for those living in the continental US with a Grand Prize of a full high end gaming system, including a chair as well as two other prizes from Zotac, a ZBox Magnus EN970 and a TX 970 AMP! edition GPU. Tweet #GameLikeAPro and fill in the email form for a chance to win, 20 entries max at one per 24 hours.
Thanks to our friends at Seasonic for pointing us to this contest!!
Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce
Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.
The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.
An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections.
The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.
While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.
UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.
The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.
Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.
The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.
Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included.
Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options.
Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 01:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface, Skylake, microsoft, iris, Intel, edram
Microsoft has finally revealed the next product in the Surface Pro tablet lineup, skipping the Broadwell processor generation and jumping straight to the latest Intel Skylake processors. The design is very similar to previous Surface Pro tablets but the upgrades and changes made for the Surface Pro 4 are impressive.
The kickstand design that has made the Surface recognizable remains the same but there is a solid collection of new features including a fingerprint reader and Microsoft Hello support for security and login. The new Pro 4 model is only 8.4mm thick (coming in just about 1mm thinner than the Pro 3) and is also lighter at 1.73 lbs.
The screen size is 12.3-inches with a 2736 x 1824 3:2 resolution for a pixel density of 267 PPI. It has a 10-point touch interface with drastically improved latency, palm detection and pressure sensitivity for the included Surface Pen. Even better, that improved Surface Pen will have a full year of battery life along with magnetic attachment to the tablet rather than relying on a elastic loop!
The Surface keyboard sees improvements as well including better spacing on the keys, quieter and more reliable typing and it also becomes the thinnest type cover MS has yet to build for the Surface line. A 5-point touch glass trackpad is now part of the deal, 40% larger than the one found on the Pro 3 - a welcome modification for anyone that has used the type cover in the past.
In terms of computing horsepower, the Surface Pro 4 will be available with a Core m3, Core i5 or even a Core i7 processor. It will ship with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of system memory and internal storage capacities as high as 1TB. Microsoft hasn't posted any more details about the clock speeds of these CPUs but if you look at the awesome hype video MS made for the Pro 4 launch, you'll notice an interesting thing in the exploded view: an Intel processor with three dies on a single package.
What you are seeing is the Skylake CPU, chipset and an eDRAM package. This tells us that at least one of the available options for the Surface Pro 4 will ship with Iris graphics and 64MB or 128MB of L4 cache / eDRAM - a first for this form factor! This should help improve performance for graphics as well as other specific CPU compute workloads.
Other highlights for the Surface Pro 4 include front facing stereo speakers, 8MP rear-facing camera and a fancy-ass Windows 10 logo.
Pricing will START at $899 but will spike to as high as $2699 if you max out the processor and storage options.
We are working on getting a unit in for testing as the devices are going up for presale today and should arrive by October 26th.
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: physics, microsoft, Intel, Havok
Microsoft has just purchased Havok from Intel for an undisclosed price. This group develops one of the leading physics engines for video games and other software. It was used in every Halo title since Halo 2, including Halo Wars, and a fork of it drives the physics for Valve's Source Engine. It has been around since 2000, but didn't really take off until Max Payne 2 in 2003.
And the natural follow-up question for just about everything is “why?”
Hopefully this isn't bad taste...
Photo Credit: Havok via Game Developer Magazine (June 2013)
There are good reasons, though. First, Microsoft has been in the video game middleware and API business for decades. DirectX is the obvious example, but they have also created software like Games for Windows Live and Microsoft Gaming Zone. Better software drives sales for platforms, and developers can always use help accomplishing that.
Another reason could be Azure. Microsoft wants to bring cloud services to online titles, offloading some of the tasks that are insensitive to latency allows developers to lower system requirements or do more with what they have (which is especially true when consoles flatten huge install bases to a handful of specifications). If they plan to go forward with services that run on Azure or Xbox Live, then it would make sense to have middleware that's as drop-in as possible. Creating a physics engine from scratch is a bit of a hassle, but so is encouraging existing engines to use it.
It would be better to just buy someone that everyone is using. Currently, that's Havok, an open-source solution that is rarely used outside of other open-source systems, and something that's owned by NVIDIA (and probably won't leave their grip until their fingers are frigid and lifeless).
That's about all we know, though. The deal doesn't have a close date, value, or official purpose. Intel hasn't commented on the deal, only Microsoft has.