Podcast #430 - Holiday Special

Subject: Editorial | December 20, 2016 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: robot chef, racing chairs, podcast, personal aerial drone, logitech G810, littlebits, htc vive, hololens, holiday, drobo, 3d printer

PC Perspective Podcast #430 - 12/20/16

Join us this week as we discuss holiday gift selections and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, David Hewlett

Program length: 1:36:05

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Gift Selections
    1. 0:02:19 David - Robot Kitchen
    2. 0:09:13 Ryan - Random Hardware
    3. 0:10:28 Group Discussion - Storage, Backups, Joysticks
    4. 0:12:48 Ryan - SimpliSafe Security System
    5. 0:19:50 Jeremy - LittleBits
    6. 0:26:30 Allyn - SSDs!!!!
    7. 0:33:37 Josh - Racing Chair
    8. 0:39:43 David - Personal Aerial Drone
    9. 0:45:02 Ryan - IR Thermometer
    10. 0:49:09 Allyn - Dromida Ominus
    11. 0:53:00 Jeremy - Victorinox CyberTool M
    12. 0:58:10 Josh - Logitech RGB G810
    13. 1:00:00 Ken - Monoprice Maker Select Mini 3D Printer
    14. 1:05:26 Ryan - HTC Vive
    15. 1:14:08 David - Microsoft Hololens
    16. 1:19:03 Ryan - Sony A7x
    17. 1:19:45 Josh - Monoprice Ear Buds
    18. 1:23:10 David / Allyn - Drobo B810n
  2. Postscript
    1. 1:29:12 David - UpgradeRequired.org
  3. Closing/outro

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Speedy storage at stocking stuffer prices, the Samsung 750 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 19, 2016 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, SSD 750, slc, sata, Samsung, planar, 750, 2d

With current prices of $61 for 120GB, $89 for the 250GB and $140 for the 500GB model, anyone still stuck using spinning rust for their main drive can join the flash revolution.  Al reviewed these drives at the beginning of the year and there have been so many new drives this year you may have forgotten about it.  It is not the highest tech drive on the market, with 2D NAND and a SATA interface, which is also why they are so inexpensive.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of the drives and the Magician software which comes with it.

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"The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s range of SSD’s was a low price value oriented drive. This has been rectified by the arrival of the SSD750 EVO product line. To keep production costs and therefore the cost of the drive down, Samsung has forsaken the 3D V-NAND of the last few drive ranges and gone back to 2D Planer NAND."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Kitguru

ASUS' ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING, getting the most out of Polaris

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 19, 2016 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, asus, ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING, factory overclocked, DirectCU III, Polaris

ASUS went all out with the design of the ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING card, almost nothing on this card remains a stock part from cooling to power regulation.  It ships with a GPU clocked at 1310MHz in GAMING mode and 1330MHz in OC mode, [H]ard|OCP reached a stable 1410MHz GPU and 8.8GHz VRAM when manually overclocking.  The card does come at a premium, roughly $50 more than a stock card which makes it more expensive than NVIDIA's GTX 1060.  The bump in frequency helps narrow the performance gap between the two cards, but it doesn't make this RX 480 a clear winner.  Check out the full review to see how it performs in the games which matter to you.

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"We put the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING video card through the wringer to find out how well this video card performs and overclocks against a highly overclocked MSI GTX 1060 GAMING X video card. Check out the highest overclock and fastest performance we’ve ever achieved to date with and AMD Radeon RX 480."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

5G might be a hard cell

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 19, 2016 - 05:19 PM |
Tagged: 5G, cell phones, predictions

At least one expert is predicting that the roll out of 5G mobile service will either be delayed or poorly implemented.  Over at The Register Professor William Webb offers his insight as to why this will be.  He predicts that the physical upgrading or replacing of existing signal stations from 4G to 5G will be significantly more expensive than the upgrade to 4G was and that a hybrid option will result in an insignificant increase in network speeds.  He also suggests that total mobile data usage is starting to plateau and we may not even need this extra bandwidth.  That is a contentious claim, with mobile usage seemingly increasing thanks to more and more streaming apps and the ever expanding market of mobile users.  Any slowdown in total usage could instead be caused by pricing, many simply can't afford the overage charges incurred by heavy data usage but would gleefully slurp up more the moment their data caps increase.

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"THE 5G WIRELESS VISION is flawed because technological advances are insufficient to deliver it, users won't pay extra for the higher data rates and don't need the greater capacity it is expected to provide - and because mobile operators can't afford to implement it anyway."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Fatal1ty, you Monster! The FXM 200 gaming headset

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2016 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: fatal1ty, monster, FXM 200, gaming headset, audio

Ah Monster, forever famous for their cable pricing.  Surprisingly the Fatal1ty FXM 200 gaming headset is a mere $95, an amazing value as they feature both Hex720 Sound Chamber Technology and Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound!  Surprisingly, The Tech Report were impressed with the quality of gaming audio which came out of this headset and had no reservations in recommending it for gamers, either single player or online.  However that quality did not extend to listening to music, as the quality of audio suffered greatly when listening to various tracks.  This does make sense as Fatal1ty products are made for gamers, not audiophiles.  Drop by for a look at their full review here.

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"Famed gamer Fatal1ty has joined up with Monster to produce a pair of signature headsets: the FXM 100 and FXM 200. We put the FXM 200 to the test to see whether its performance lives up to that fabled name."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Who is the coolest of 2016?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 16, 2016 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: heatsink, watercooler, FrostFlow 240L, ID-Cooling, Dark Rock TF, be quiet!, MasterLiquid Pro 280, cooler master

One product we have not had a dearth of in 2016 are heatsinks and watercoolers, we have seen numerous new products and upgrades to existing product lines.  Overclockers Club took a look back at all of the reviews they conducted this year and picked the top three coolers they saw in 2016.  ID-Cooling is not a particularly popular brand but as its FrostFlow 240L AiO cooler takes third place it may become more famous.  The DarkRock TF from be quiet! is the only air cooler on the list and this hunk of metal with a 220W TDP rating seems to deserve second place.  At the top of the list is a product that is very well known, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280.  Drop by for links to all their reviews.

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"As 2016 comes to a close, it is time for me to talk about the top three coolers. After reviewing many coolers throughout the year, the line blurs and it is really hard to pick, since they are all quite so good. None of them are bad, and it often comes down to price or maybe a certain color scheme that gets my attention."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Stop paying the ransomware you idiots! You get nothing back and encourage them to continue!

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2016 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: ransomware, security, idiots, backup

To anyone working in the field, it will come as no surprise that almost half of the 1600 businesses and consumers in the survey quoted at The Inquirer have been the victim of a ransomware attack.  What will come as a disappointment to you is that 70% of those who were infected paid the the ransom, 25% of them between $20,000 to $40,000.  Shockingly the majority of those who paid the ransom got nothing back; after all how could someone who makes money by purposefully infecting machines not honour their word?

If you are infected with ransomware you have lost the data, pure and simple.  Reimage and move on, this is why you have backups.  It is painful and frustrating but if you pay the bitcoins you are not going to get anything back and are encouraging them to continue by making this a lucrative business.  Just as it is with spam, it takes only a tiny percentage to fall for it to make it profitable.  Go and back your stuff up, twice.  If you need a stocking stuffer for someone get them an external drive or a subscription to an online backup service, look into CryptoDrop or a similar program.  Just don't give them bitcoins

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"The report suggested that as many as 46 per cent of the respondents had been affected by ransomware and that 70 per cent of these had admitted to paying the ransom, contrary to the advice of law enforcement agencies."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

PC Perspective Podcast 429 12/15/16

Subject: Editorial | December 15, 2016 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: podcast, zalman, ryzen, note 7, nand, LG, instinct, hdr, DRM, doom, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #428 - 12/8/16

Join us this week as we discuss AMD ReLive, Ryzen, Zalman Keyboards, LG HDR monitors  and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:17:34

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Aged, not obsolete - SAMSUNG 850 EVO 2.5" 2TB
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

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A different sort of Flash, Alcatel's rebranded OneTouch phablet

Subject: Mobile | December 15, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: alcatel, flash plus 2, smartphone, phablet, Android, marshmallow

We don't see many Alcatel phones, so why not take a peek at their newest model, the Flash 2 Plus.  At 5.5" it is big enough to be in that strange breed called phablets, with a 1080p screen it is perhaps not the most impressive example of its species.  Inside you will find the     MediaTek Helio P10 SoC, with an eight core ARM big.LITTLE consisting of four Cortex-A53 @ 1.8GHz and four more Cortex-A53 at 1GHz, an ARM Mali-T860 MP2 GPU and either 2GB or 3GB of LP-DDR3 depending on the model you chose.  It is certainly not the top performing phablet on the market, but it is also not the most expensive, about $140 Euros or in the neighbourhood of $200US if you find it over here.  You can read more about it at TechARP.

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"Love the original Flash 2 smartphone? The Flash Plus 2 offers even more value for money with a renewed focus on delivering mobigraphy – the ultimate mobile photographic experience. Let’s take a look!"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: TechARP

Drabby Lake has sprung a leak, so to the Intel 200 series chipset

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 15, 2016 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: leak, kaby lake, intel 200

Tech ARP have an interesting story posted today, it would seem they pried the specs of the upcoming Kaby Lake processors and accompanying Intel 200 chipset.  The top chip, the $349 Core i7-7700K will have 4 cores and 8 threads running at 4.2 GHz, with an 8 MB L3 cache and a TDP of 95W while the non-K version will have it core clock dropped to 3.6GHz, TDP dropped to 65W and price lowered to $309.  The chipsets will encompass series similar to the previous generations from Intel, including the LGA 1151 Z270, H270, Q270, B250 and Q250 series.  There is no information on the socket the server level C422 and high end X299 boards will use in this leak, but we are sure you can extrapolate from existing rumours and innuendo.  Follow that link for the entire lineup.

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"As AMD gears up to launch the AMD Ryzen desktop processor in early Q1 2017, Intel has finalised the launch plans for their desktop Kaby Lake processors, and the accompanying 200 Series chipsets.

Although Intel has been extremely secretive, we managed to obtain the specifications and launch details of the desktop Kaby Lake processors, and the 200 Series chipsets. Check it out!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechARP

LG to Introduce Their First HDR Computer Monitor at CES

Subject: Displays | December 14, 2016 - 10:46 PM |
Tagged: monitor, LG, ips, high dynamic range, hdr, display, 4k

Ahead of CES 2017 LG has announced their upcoming monitor lineup, which features an HDR (high dynamic range) model. The 32UD99 is a 32-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS display that offers 95% DCI-P3 color and HDR10 support. (Specifics as to peak brightness, rated black levels have not been released.)

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From LG's press release (pdf):

“As the availability of HDR (high dynamic range) content continues to expand across a wide range of categories, from movies to games, LG is leading the way in bringing this enhancement to desktop monitors,” said to Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA. “The enhanced picture quality offered by HDR technology is instantly recognizable to even the most casual user, and manufacturers are already pushing this promising technology to its fullest potential. From high-resolution displays compatible with HDR technology, to UltraWide monitors optimized for multitasking and gaming, LG is committed to delivering the most state-of-the-art and premium monitors in the industry today.” 

HDR is a somewhat complex standard, incorporating requirements for bit depth and supported color space, brightness level, and black levels for the display - along with compatibility with one of the HDR standards; HDR10 or Dolby Vision. The fact that LG is using IPS for their new montior seems problematic given the high black levels associated with IPS (unless sophisticated local dimming is employed, such as with LG's Infinia televisions of a few years ago), as most HDR sets employ a VA panel of some kind. Of note, rival Panasonic only recently announced their work on very high native contrast IPS panels, but there is no indication that LG has developed a similar technology at this point.

HDR is all the rage in the 4K television world, and for gaming both Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles support the more common HDR10 implementation - with compatible games, UHD Blu-ray, and streaming content, that is. It was inevitable that HDR would make its way into the computer display space, and presumably more and more PC games will be offering support going forward (Shadow Warrior 2 was the first title to support HDR on PC). A quick primer on HDR (with respect to the "Premium" standard from the UHD Alliance) can be found here, and only time will tell if the HDR10 standard will win out over Dolby Vision, though at this point it seems likely.

Source: LG

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.33 Drivers

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2016 - 10:07 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

While they’re not really promoting this release, such as with a blog post on the GeForce website, NVIDIA has just released their 376.33 WHQL drivers. This one is not associated with any specific game release, so it seems like this is more of a maintenance release, working on bugs rather than application-dependent optimizations. The release notes specifically mention several security improvements, so I would assume they’re going back through previous changes and looking at things like video memory management, which might also lead to overall performance and stability enhancements.

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As for the long-running Folding@Home bug affecting some of our readers, it turns out that the cause was a bug in the application that just happened to work until NVIDIA applied a fix on their end. This reminds me of when I was working on an OpenCL-based software renderer. At one point, I started crashing when executing on the Intel CPU, but not on either GPU (Intel HD 4600 or NVIDIA GTX 670). I later found out that it was an out-of-bounds access in my code, when a render group slightly bled off the side of the render buffer, which the GPU drivers silently compensated for. It looked like Intel’s CPU driver had a bug, but, really, it was just the only one that didn’t work around my bug.

Despite this, NVIDIA is planning on releasing a workaround for Folding@Home in a hotfix driver, until the organization can patch the issue on their own. This driver is not the one, though.

Source: NVIDIA

Who's a pretty Dog? Watch what the graphics settings do to image quality

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2016 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, watch dogs 2

[H]ard|OCP have already gone through the highest quality video settings in Watch Dogs 2 which are still playable at a reasonable frame rate, now they are investigating how these settings actually effect the visual quality. The High Resolution Texture Pack does indeed make a difference to the world, much like it did in Skyrim but how do the two NVIDIA only  shadow options differ from the Ultra setting?   The Extra Details slider seems to be a renamed draw distance slider with the effect you would expect and there is a long look at the variety of AA options offered.  If you are curious which of these options most appeal to you, take a long look.

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"In Part 3 of our Watch Dog 2 series we focus on the image quality aspects of this game. We will compare high resolution textures, shadows, ambient occlusion, extra details slider and AA. If you are curious what those features look like, how they compare between quality levels, this article will give you an idea what to expect."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Roll out the gifts this season, mobility for all

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2016 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: holiday gift guide

You want tablets and chromebooks and laptops and cellphones, Shields and Yogas and iPads and Pixels; but can you recall a shopping list which has them all?  Try out The Tech Report's gift guide, for it has many shiny things and if you want Google's Pixel you will even find it shows ...

Anyways, they have put together a list of dozens of their favourite mobile products from this year, all of which will be familiar but it is nice to have a compendium of the vast amount of products which were released in 2016; apart from that one hot item.

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"In this edition of The Tech Report's mobile staff picks, we dig ourselves out of the snow to bring you the latest and best in tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and phones."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Zalman's ZM-K900M mechanical keyboard can be taught to do more than change colours

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: zalman, ZM-K900M, input, mechanical keyboard, Kailh Blue RGB

Not only does Zalman's ZM-K900M suffer from RGB disease underneath it's Kailh switches, it also has a split personality.  When you look at the closeups of the keys over at The Tech Report you will see odd symbols and messages under the usual lettering, things like ZM2 or Speed Meter.  Those are for programming macros, simply hitting Fn + ZM# starts the recording and it will capture every click, including buttons which emulate mouse buttons and stop once you press Fn + ZM# again.   These will play back exactly as recorded and the somewhat misspelled Speed Meter allows you to increase or decrease the speed which it plays back.  If you find this intriguing, pop by The Tech Report for a closer look.

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"Zalman's ZM-K900M keyboard hides a huge range of hardware-controlled backlight and macro modes underneath an unassuming exterior. We took it for a spin to see whether this RGB LED-backlit mechanical marvel stands out in an increasingly jam-packed keyboard market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

"HTML5 by Default" Rolling in to Chrome Userbase

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, Adobe, flash

Google is about to begin transitioning their users away from Flash, unless they explicitly enable it on a site-by-site basis. This is a step beyond click-to-activate, which refuses to activate the plug-in until the user permits it, that will not even acknowledge the plug-in’s existence unless the user requests it. The difference is that this tells sites to treat the browser as not having Flash, which, for PC Perspective as an example, should load our HTML5 article carousel instead of presenting a click-to-activate Flash one that has an expanding oval transition animation.

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Because changes like these could have side-effects, Google is dipping their toe before jumping in. About 1% of users on the current Chrome 55 (and ~50% of Chrome 56 pre-release users) will have this change flipped on any day now, which contains the outrage if it breaks something popular or, otherwise, causes user grief. If it all goes well, though, it will be enabled for everyone when Chrome 56 arrives for the general public in February.

Source: Google

Flash news: Demand up, supply down ... outcome obvious

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, price increase, nand

DRAMeXchange is predicting a price hike in NAND chips over the coming year thanks to a supply decline combined with an impressive rise in demand.  The supply decline is a direct result of the industry's switch in preference to 3D NAND, which requires manufacturers to retool their existing lines.  While retooling from the production of 2D to 3D NAND, the line can produce neither and as all available lines were currently at or near full volume production, we are seeing a decline in the amount of available flash chips.  Even once lines are retooled, only Samsung has seen an increase in their production volumes, a situation which will hopefully change in the coming year.  With demand on the rise as more and more users switch to SSDs and the amount of storage on cellphones increasing in each new model we can only expect to see prices rise.  DigiTimes reports a predicted 10% rise in average SSD prices in Q1 of 2017, with prices of eMMC and UFS storage jumping even more.

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"From the supply side, the industry-wide transition to 3D-NAND is now moving at full speed," said Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange. "However, most suppliers with the exception of Samsung have not improve their yield rates for the technology as quickly as they would like."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

/Noclip Publishes Documentary on DOOM

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 01:26 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, doom, Doom 4, id software, bethesda, zenimax, noclip

Danny O’Dwier and his company, Noclip, publishes behind-the-scenes documentaries of entities in the video game industry. Their first handful of videos, published piece-by-piece over a few weeks in October and November, were about Rocket League. The series is funded by fan donations on Patreon, which is currently at $20,547 USD per month.

This one is about id Software, and, specifically, the recently-released DOOM and the canceled DOOM 4. They were surprisingly open and honest about internal struggles and design issues regarding “Doom 4 1.0”. It even contains quite a bit of footage from the cut content, which is a step above and beyond just merely acknowledging and discussing these problems. Of course, they mentioned that Bethesda and Zenimax were supportive of the studio as it transitioned in multiple, simultaneous ways.

If you’re interested in DOOM, this will be a well-spent half hour.

Source: /Noclip

AMD has the Instinct; if not the license, to kill

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: vega 10, Vega, training, radeon, Polaris, machine learning, instinct, inference, Fiji, deep neural network, amd

Ryan was not the only one at AMD's Radeon Instinct briefing, covering their shot across NVIDIA's HPC products.  The Tech Report just released their coverage of the event and the tidbits which AMD provided about the MI25, MI8 and MI6; no relation to a certain British governmental department.   They focus a bit more on the technologies incorporated into GEMM and point out that AMD's top is not matched by an NVIDIA product, the GP100 GPU does not come as an add-in card.  Pop by to see what else they had to say.

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"Thus far, Nvidia has enjoyed a dominant position in the burgeoning world of machine learning with its Tesla accelerators and CUDA-powered software platforms. AMD thinks it can fight back with its open-source ROCm HPC platform, the MIOpen software libraries, and Radeon Instinct accelerators. We examine how these new pieces of AMD's machine-learning puzzle fit together."

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

Graphics Cards

NVIDIA GeForce GTX, HTC VIVE Bundle Deal at GeForce.com

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, geforce, htc vive, VR, game bundle

AMD's RX 480 and Fury X are capable of providing decent performance in VR applications and will save you some money for the VR headset, dongles and games.  However NVIDIA upped the ante today, giving away three games to anyone who purchases a GTX 1080, 1070 or 1060 and an HTC Vive. 

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The giveaway encompasses more than North America, as long as you can purchase the bundle from either Microsoft or NewEgg where you happen to live you should be able to get your three free games.  They are redeemable on Steam and should be available immediately, a peek at Sports Bar VR is below.

 

Source: NVIDIA