Microsoft reSurfaces their Studio so they can show off a puck

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2017 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, surface studio

Microsoft's Studio Surface is quite a change from the usual Studio notebooks, instead of a tiny screen this system is built into a 28" display with some seriously impressive specs.  The display has a resolution of 4500x3000 which translates to 192ppi, perfect for getting the most detail out of your artistic creations; gaming may be troublesome as the top end model comes with a GTX 980M that has 4GB of GDDR5.  The Surface Dial would also present control difficulty for gamers but for artists it offers a new way to control a wide variety of options in your software.  Aso worth noting is that you can swivel the screen to an angle where it can be used as a sketching board, the stand will even support a reasonable amount of weight if you lean into your drawings.  The Inquirer did have some areas in which they thought Microsoft could make some improvements but overall they were quite impressed.  Check it out here.

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"IT'S ALL CHANGE over at Microsoft with not one, but two entirely new product categories sporting the Surface name. The first is a traditional form-factored laptop with some fuzzy touchy-feely plush elements. The second, the Surface Studio is a powerful all-in-one with a giant display, stacks of power and one funky, optional knob."

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Source: The Inquirer

iFixit: Microsoft Surface Laptop Gets a Zero on Repairability

Subject: Systems | June 18, 2017 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: ifixit, recycling, microsoft, surface laptop

It’s no surprise that many devices have been sacrificing user-serviceability in favor of small, light, and fast. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see device manufacturers forego even the ability to recycle them when they’re done, even if their components are theoretically made out of recyclable materials. (It doesn’t matter if it’s mostly metal and glass if they’re all glued together in a way that takes forever to separate.)

microsoft-2017-surfacelaptop-ifixitzero.png

In this case, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop gets a big zero from iFixit. For context, the iPad 3, which stirred a bit of controversy a few years ago, scored a two out of ten. Two major points that they made against it are “You can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage” and “The battery is difficult and dangerous to replace”. Yikes.

To be clear, sacrificing user-serviceability isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although I’d argue that recyclable components should always be installed in a recyclable way). As long as the user is aware that they are trading-off the ability to fix or upgrade the thing they purchase, then they can make the value decision for themselves.

And now potential customers know.

Source: iFixit

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.

Area-51 TE.jpg

"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.

Threadripper.jpg

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

Area-51 Open.jpg

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.

Area-51 Intel.jpg

"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

Intel Core-i9.jpg

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)

Area-51.jpg

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

Look inside this Ryzen powered system from FiercePC

Subject: Systems | June 5, 2017 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: FiercePC, Imperial Hive, amd, ryzen

The branding you see at the top of eTeknix's review of this system may not match your preferences, unless you really loved Blood Dragon, however the components probably will.  The front and side panels of the case are tempered glass so you can see the RGBs present on almost all of the components.  The system is powered by a Ryzen 1700 on an Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 with graphics powered by a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.  Your OS and favourite games will sit on a 250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVME with a 2TB Seagate FireCuda Hybrid drive for extra storage.  Drop by to see more pictures as well as the system in action.

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"Are you ready to take your gaming to the next level? I’m sure many of you are! Today, we’ll be ticking off a few “firsts” here at eTeknix, as we review our first system from Fierce PC, as well as our first system review featuring the Ryzen 1700X, and first with a GTX 1080 Ti. What’s interesting is that we’ve already reviewed many of the individual components used in this system, so we know they’re pretty rocking, but never before together in this configuration."

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Source: eTeknix

Computex 2017: ZOTAC Introduces the MEK Mini-ITX Gaming PC

Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM |
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer

ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.

MEK-GamingPC_image01.jpg

"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."

The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).

zt-p10800h-10p_image2.jpg

Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.

Source: ZOTAC

Computex 2017: Zotac ZBOX Pico PI225 / PI335 Tiny PCs

Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox

Zotac is announcing two new additions to their line of mini PCs: the ZBOX Pico PI225 and the ZBOX Pico PI335. There’s not a whole lot of information about specifications and other details, but they are both passively cooled.

zotac-2017-zbox-pi225.jpg

The smaller PI225

The main difference between the two that one is smaller, but the other has more video connectivity. The ZBOX Pico PI225 is listed as the thinnest ZBOX that has ever been made, and it is capable of powering a single display at up to 4K resolution. Judging by the photos, it looks about SSD sized. The ZBOX Pico PI335 is bigger, but it has the ability to power two displays at up to 4K resolution.

zotac-2017-zbox-pi335.jpg

The larger PI335, view of ports
(not visible, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x DC Power on other side)

Zotac has not yet released pricing or availability info.

Source: Zotac

Computex 2017: Dell Updates XPS 27 AIO with RX 570 for VR

Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: RX 570, kaby lake, Intel, dell, AIO, amd

Dell has refreshed their XPS 27 All-in-one with two new models. Both of these have their GPU upgraded to the AMD RX 570 and their CPU refreshed to the Core i7-7700, which Dell highlights for its VR readiness. The difference between the two is that the lower-end model, $1999.99 USD, has a non-touch screen and a 2TB hard drive backed by 32GB of M.2 SATA SSD cache; the higher-end model, $2649.99 USD, has a touch screen and a 512GB, PCIe SSD, which makes it a quarter of the storage, but much faster. Both are loaded with 16GB of RAM, but they can be configured up to 64GB.

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About two weeks ago, Kyle Wiggers of Digital Trends had some hands-on time with the refreshed all-in-one. He liked the vibrant, 4K panel that was apparently calibrated to AdobeRGB (although I can’t find any listing for how much it covers). The purpose of that color space is to overlap with both non-HDR video and with the gamut of commercial printers, which is useful for multiple types of publishers.

The Dell XPS 27 All-in-one is available now.

Source: Dell

Spring component refresh on your mind?

Subject: Systems | May 12, 2017 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: system guide

2017 has been a good year for system guides as we finally have new hardware with a compelling reason to upgrade.  AMD now has new processors and the refreshed Polaris cards may tempt those who have a GPU several generations out of date.  NVIDIA released a graphics card which will tempt those who want the best and the SSD market continues to grow exponentially.

The Tech Report have updated their build recommendations for May and you can check out their new builds right here.  The recommendations span budgets from around $500 to $5000 so almost everyone is included.

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"AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs are shaking up the midrange CPU market, and we're here to help builders navigate this unfamiliar terrain with the latest edition of our System Guide. We also account for the introduction of AMD's Radeon RX 500-series graphics cards."

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Naked pictures of the Corsair One Pro found on the interwebs

Subject: Systems | May 3, 2017 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: pro, prebuilt system, ONE, GTX 1080, force LE, Corsair Link, corsair, 7700k

You have already seen Ken's review of the Corsair One Pro, but there was something he didn't have the guts to do; rip it open and expose its innards.  The Tech Report were not that squeamish and risked cracking open the machine to see what the layout inside was.  The news is good and bad, the components are squeezed into an impressively small space and the layout is very effective at cooling in such a confined space.  However it is not easy to swap out components, the watercooling hoses are so short the case cannot be fully opened without disconnecting them and while you could add in an M.2 drive, you need to completely remove the GPU to get at it.  Drop by to take a look at the titillating pictures and see what The Tech Report thought of this compact gaming powerhouse.

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"Corsair's One Pro promises full-fat desktop performance from a system much smaller than most off-the-rack Mini-ITX PCs. We turned up the heat on the One Pro to see whether Corsair's liquid-cooling know-how can really shrink full-size desktop performance into a 13-liter package."

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ASUS Launches the Tinker Board in North America

Subject: Systems | April 19, 2017 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: tinker board, iot, asus

The ASUS Tinker Board is a full system in a tiny form factor, similar to Raspberry Pi or Arduino's products to name a few competitors in the now busy market.  At its heart is the Rockchip RK3288, four ARM Cortex-A17 CPU cores running at 1.8GHz with a Mali-T764 GPU at 600MHz.  They are available now for slightly more than the announced $54.99 and will run a Debian based OS called ASUS TinkerOS.

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Inside are an array of options for add-ins, including a 40-pin GPIO header, a 15-pin MIPI DSI and a15-pin MIPI CSI as well as a2-pin contact point for PWM or S/PDIF signals.  Externally you will have four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack to give you flexibility in how you utilize your Tinker Board.  For connectivity there is a wired NIC as well as 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.  You can read the full PR below.

tinker-bottom.jpg

Fremont, CA (April 19, 2017) -- ASUS, maker of the world’s best-selling, most award-winning motherboards, is excited to launch the ASUS Tinker Board in North America today. Imagine the freedom to make your ideas come alive, the ability to invent an IoT device for a connected home or just having fun creating an entertainment hub for the family or powering your DIY robot project at school. With Tinker Board, the possibilities to create personalized devices are endless. Tinker Board is a single-board computer (SBC), which makes it the ideal foundation for makers, hobbyists, educators, and electronic DIY enthusiasts to develop and build low-cost, great-performing computers.

Features & Functionality
ASUS Tinker Board offers class-leading performance, robust multimedia support, IoT connectivity, and enhanced DIY design and compatibility with a wide range of leading SBC chassis and accessories. The result is a near credit card sized computer that offers people the freedom to tinker and apply their ingenuity to create platforms for a wide variety of uses.

Key features of Tinker Board include:

  • CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 SoC quad-core processor
  • GPU: Mali-T764 GPU Video:
  • HD/UHD video playback support – including H.264/H.265 decoding Audio: 192kHz/24-bit audio support
  • Memory: 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3
  • Storage: Micro SD(TF) slot features SD 3.0 support
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth° 4.0 + EDR and on-board 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Networking: 1Gb Ethernet
  • Ports: (4) USB2.0 ports, (1) HDMI 1.4 out port, (1) 3.5mm audio jack
  • I/O Ports: (1) 40-pin GPIO interface header, (1) 15-pin MIPI DSI, (1) 15-pin MIPI CSI, (1) 2-pin contact point for PWM and S/PDIF signals
  • Power: Suggested 5V/2A AC adaptor via the micro-USB port (power adaptor not included)
  • OS: (Debian-based Linux) & Android Support
  • Dimensions/Weight: 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm, 45g without included heatsink
Source: ASUS

Lenovo Announces the Flex 11 Chromebook

Subject: Systems, Mobile | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: notebook, Lenovo, laptop, Flex 11, convertible, Chromebook, 2-in-1

Lenovo’s Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 convertible notebook design powered by a 2.1 GHz quad-core ARM processor and running Google’s Chrome OS. It features an 11.6-inch IPS multi-touch HD display, up to 10-hour battery life, and a weight under 3 lbs.

Flex 11 01.jpg

"Packing the fun of a tablet with the power punch of a PC, and designed with Android apps in mind, the Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 laptop optimized for entertainment and productivity. Its 360° hinge and 11.6" multi-touch display gives users the flexibility to shift between four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) for any combination of work and play activities."

Lenovo says the Flex 11's hardware is designed to be rugged, with drop and liquid spill resistance including a water-resistant keyboard (up to 1 cup) with “channels beneath the keyboard to drain liquid, keeping it away from sensitive electrical components”. In addition to Chrome apps the Flex 11 will support the Google Play store (Lenovo says this is "coming soon").

Flex 11 02.jpg

I/O includes USB 3.0, USB Type-C, HDMI, a mic/audio jack, and an SD card slot. As to pricing/availability, the Flex 11 Chromebook starts at $279 and will be available this month.

Source: Lenovo

Spring has sprung, the system guide is riz

Subject: Systems | April 13, 2017 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: system guide

Sebastian posted a systems guide to inspire you this spring and the HWLB is slowly getting a refresh but we are not the only ones who are twitterpated.  The Tech Report also published a brand new System Guide, timed to include Ryzen in their picks.  As is their habit, they've broken the recommendations int Budget, Sweet Spot and High end systems, with a couple of bonus system builds at the end of the article.  Get some great ideas for your next system right here.

sysguidehero.jpg

"AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card have arrived, and that means it's time for a new edition of The Tech Report's System Guide. Join us as we explore how to build the best PCs with these shiny new components."

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Never mind the Bulldog! Here's the One from Corsair

Subject: Systems | March 23, 2017 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: corsair, CORSAIR ONE, CORSAIR ONE PRO, core i7 7700k

Today Corsair announce a family of new pre-built systems, the Corsair One series.  Two of the systems will be available for purchase at your favourite retailers and two will be exclusive to Corsair's web store. 

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All models have aluminium cases and an an integrated liquid-cooling system for both the i7-7700k as well as the GPU, be it a GTX 1070, 1080 or 1080Ti.  All systems are built on a custom MSI Z270 Mini-ITX motherboard, a Corsair FORCE LE SSD with a HDD for extra storage, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-2400 and an 80 PLUS GOLD rated SFX PSU.

corsairOne_exploded-build_glamour_top_down.png

They will hit stores later this March and will come with a two year warranty which includes dedicated technical support, 24 Hour Phone support and an included suite of self-diagnostic tools.  You can read the full PR below the fold.

models.png

Source: Corsair

Eurocom's Sky X9E3 Is a Fully Upgradable Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom

Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.

m400_1.jpg

"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."

One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.

m400_12.jpg

What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:

  • Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
  • Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
  • Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
  • VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
  • Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
  • Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
  • Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
  • Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
  • Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
  • Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
  • Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
  • Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch

m400_11.jpg

Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.

Source: Eurocom

EVGA Announces SC17 1070 4K G-SYNC Laptop

Subject: Systems | March 17, 2017 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: evga, g-sync, gtx 1070, laptop

The updated EVGA SC17 laptop, announced on Thursday, is headlined by a 17.3-inch, 4K, IPS panel with NVIDIA G-SYNC. The panel will have a 60 Hz refresh rate, so, while games will be able to cleanly dip below the 60 FPS threshold via G-SYNC, you will not have the smooth mouse movement in productivity applications like you would on a 100+ FPS monitor. Speaking of productivity, the color gamut (coverage of sRGB and Adobe RGB) is also unlisted.

evga-2017-sc17-laptop.jpg

But, for our many readers that are interested in performance, EVGA has made this beefy.

Again, this is a 17.3-inch laptop, so don’t expect it to be ultra-portable by today’s standards. Weighing in at about 9 lbs, this desktop replacement is based around an unlocked Intel Core i7-6820HK processor with an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card. While the CPU is a little over a year old, based on Skylake, it has four cores (eight threads) that can boost up to 3.6 GHz. Being that I’m running a Core i7-4790k on my production machine, this level of performance is pretty good. It even contains 32 GB of RAM.

If you're a multi-monitor type of person, it also has three display outputs: 1x HDMI 2.0b and 2x Mini DisplayPort (unclear which version level).

The EVGA SC17 1070 with NVIDIA G-SYNC is available now for $2799.99, although there’s currently a $250-off instant rebate (~$2550 USD).

Source: EVGA

MSI's Trident 3 ballistic mini-system

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2017 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: msi, Trident 3, kaby lake, i7-7700, gtx 1060

MSI's Trident 3 is much smaller than an Ohio class submarine, measuring roughly the same size as a PS4 Pro, albeit with a very different look.  Inside you will find a Kaby Lake i7-7700, 16GB of DDR4-2400 and a GTX 1060 with storage consisting of a 256GB Kingston M.2 SATA SSD and a 1TB Hitachi Travelstar.  It does lack USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt as the USB Type-C port you see is USB 3.0, it is also worth mentioning the front HDMI port will not function without the included HDMI passthrough connected on the back.  The Tech Report tested it against a similar machine, the Zotac Magnus EN1070 which features a much more powerful mobile GTX 1070.  On the other hand the $1300 Trident 3 comes ready to play, whereas the Zotac lacks a Windows license, storage and memory so even though it sells at $100 less than the MSI system, it may cost you more in the long run.

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"MSI's Trident 3 compact PC houses a desktop Core i7-7700 CPU and a GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card in a case no larger than many of today's consoles. We put that tantalizing combo to the test to see whether MSI has achieved small-form-factor gaming nirvana."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

NVIDIA, Microsoft, Ingrasys (Foxconn) Announce HGX-1

Subject: Systems | March 9, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, microsoft, hgx-1, GP100, dgx-1

When NVIDIA announced the Pascal architecture at last year’s GTC, they started with the GP100 architecture that was to be initially available in their $129,000 DGX-1 PC. In fact, this device contained eight of those “Big Pascal” GPUs that are connected together by their NVLink interconnection.

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Now, almost a full year later, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Ingrasys have announced the HGX-1 system. It, too, will contain eight GP100 GPUs through eight Tesla P100 accelerators. On the CPU side of things, Microsoft is planning on utilizing the next generation of x86 processors, Intel Skylake (which we assume means Skylake-X) and AMD Naples in these "Project Olympus" servers. Future versions could also integrate Intel FPGAs for an extra level of acceleration. ARM64 is another goal of theirs, but in the more distant future.

At the same time, NVIDIA has also announced, through a single-paragraph statement, that they are joining the Open Compute Project. This organization contains several massive players in the data center market, spanning from Facebook to Rackspace to Bank of America.

Whenever it arrives, the HGX-1 will be intended for cloud-based AI computations. Four of these machines are designed to be clustered together at high bandwidth, which I estimate would have north of 160 TeraFLOPs of double-precision (FP64) or 670 TeraFLOPs of half-precision (FP16) performance in the GPUs alone, depending on final clocks.

Source: NVIDIA

ARMing the Cloud; Qualcomm's Centriq 2400 Platform will power Microsoft Azure instances

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 8, 2017 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, OCP, microsoft, falkor, centriq 2400, azure, arm, 10nm

Last December Qualcomm announced plans to launch their Centriq 2400 series of platforms for data centres, demonstrating Apache Spark and Hadoop on Linux as well as a Java demo.  They announced a 48 Core design based on ARM v8 and fabbed with on Samsung's 10nm process, which will compete against Intel's current offerings for the server room.

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Today marks the official release of the Qualcomm Falkor CPU and Centriq 2400 series of products, as well as the existence of a partnership with Microsoft which may see these products offered to Azure customers.  Microsoft has successfully configured a version of Windows Server to run on these new chips, which is rather big news for customers looking for low powered hosting solutions running a familiar OS.  The Centriq 2400 family is compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus architecture, used by the Open Compute Project Foundation to offer standardized building blocks upon which you can design a data centre from scratch or use as an expansion plan.

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Enough of the background, we are here for the specifications of the new platform and what can be loaded onto a Centriq 2400.  The reference motherboard supports SOCs of up to 48 cores, with both single and dual socket designs announced.  Each SOC can support up to six channels of DDR4 in either single or dual channel configurations with a maximum of 768GB installed.  Falkor will offer 32 lanes of PCIe 3.0, eight SATA ports and a GbE ethernet port as well as USB and a standard 50Gb/s NIC.  NVMe is supported, one design offers 20 NVMe drives with a PCIe 16x slot but you can design the platform to match your requirements.  Unfortunately they did not discuss performance during their call, nor any suggested usage scenarios.  We expect to hear more about that during the 2017 Open Compute Platform US Summit, which starts today.

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The submission of the design to Open Compute Project ensures a focus on compatibility and modularity and allows a wide variety of designs to be requested and networked together.  If you have a need for HPC performance you can request a board with an HPC GPU such as a FirePro or Tesla, or even drop in your own optimized FPGA.  Instead of opting for an impressive but expensive NVME storage solution, you can modify the design to accommodate 16 SATA HDDs for affordable storage.

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Qualcomm have already announced Windows 10 support on their Snapdragon, but the fact that Microsoft are internally running Windows Server on an ARM v8 based processor is much more impressive.  Intel and AMD have long held reign in the server room and have rightfully shrugged of the many times in which companies have announced ARM based servers which will offer more power efficient alternatives.  Intel have made huge advances at creating low power chips for the server room; AMD's recently announced Naples shows their intentions to hold their market share as well.

If the submission to the OPC succeeds then we may see the first mainstream ARM based servers appear on the market.  Even if the Windows Server instances remain internal to Microsoft, the Centriq series will support Red Hat, CentOS, Canonical and Ubuntu as well as both GCC and LLVM compilers. 

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(click to seriously embiggen)

ARM may finally have reached the server market after all these years and it will be interesting to see how they fare.  AMD and Intel have both had to vastly reduce the power consumption of their chips and embrace a diametrically opposite design philosophy; instead of a small number of powerful chips, servers of the future will consist of arrays of less powerful chips working in tandem.  ARM has had to do the opposite, they are the uncontested rulers of low powered chips but have had to change their designs to increase the processing capabilities of their chips in order to produce an effective product for the server room.  

Could Qualcomm successful enter the server room; or will their ARMs not have the necessary reach?

Source: Qualcomm

GamersNexus Tears Down a Nintendo Switch

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 4, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, teardown, switch, nvidia, Nintendo

Here at PC Perspective, videos of Ryan and Ken dismantling consoles on their launch date were some of our most popular... ever. While we didn’t do one for the Nintendo Switch, GamersNexus did, and I’m guessing that a segment of our audience would be interested in seeing what the device looks like when dismantled.

Credit: GamersNexus

As he encounters many chips, he mentions what, if anything, is special about them based on their part numbers. For instance, the NVIDIA SoC is listed as A2, which is apparently different from previous Maxwell-based Tegra X1 SoCs, but it’s unclear how. From my perspective, I can think of three possibilities: NVIDIA made some customizations (albeit still on the Maxwell architecture) for Nintendo, NVIDIA had two revisions for their own purposes and Nintendo bought the A2, or the A2 shipped with NVIDIA's Maxwell-based Shield and my Google-fu is terrible.

Regardless, if you’re interested, it should be an interesting twenty-or-so minutes.

Source: GamersNexus