HTC Vive Price Drops to $599

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, vive, htc vive, valve, htc, price cut

While it looked like HTC and Valve wouldn’t budge on their launch price, the Vive has just been reduced $200 USD, from $799 down to $599. This is still significantly above the $399 USD price tag during their competitor’s summer sale, but it might be close enough for those who prefer the Vive for one reason or another.

I should note that their website still has payment plans through PayPal, which breaks up the $599 price tag into, they say, twelve chunks.

For me? This price cut came just a week and a bit late. I already picked up the Oculus. For us Canadians, it looks like the Vive sale price is $800 CDN on Amazon, versus the $550 mark for the Rift with Touch and two sensors. That said, if I didn’t jump on the Oculus... would I consider the Vive? At this price, I’m still not sure. I’m wary of a hardware refresh, now that these devices are hitting the one-and-a-half year mark. The Oculus, during its sale, is priced in the “Meh” territory. It would have served its purpose until it’s replaced. The extra couple hundred dollars on the Vive might just push it out of the “eh, if it’s replaced, so what” range.

On the other hand, the Vive can be upgraded with a wireless kit, and I do have issues with the Oculus sensors being obstructed. It’s an interesting move for sure.

Source: Vive

ASUS Announces ZenFone 4, Pro, Selfie, and Selfie Pro

Subject: Mobile | August 22, 2017 - 09:35 PM |
Tagged: asus, zenfone, zenfone 4, zenfone 4 selfie

At their “We Love Photo” event in Taiwan, ASUS has announced an updated ZenFone line-up. As you would expect, given the name of the conference, these devices will be focused (heh heh) on camera performance. In fact, they’re split into two categories, each with a regular and a pro variant: ZenFone 4, and ZenFone 4 Selfie. The latter pair of devices differentiate themselves with dual front-facing cameras, but more on that later.

asus-2017-zenfone4pro.png

ZenFone 4 Pro

Let’s start with the ZenFone 4 Pro, because it has the highest computational performance. This device is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, which includes an Adreno 540 GPU. This is the fastest Adreno GPU on the market today, and it is more-than capable of running Vulkan if ASUS ships the appropriate driver for it. It is backed with 6GB of RAM. The phone also has a pair of rear-facing cameras, one of which is optically zoomed in, and the other has 1.4 micrometer pixels (Sony IMX362) for good low-light performance.

asus-2017-zenfone4.png

ZenFone 4

On to the ZenFone 4. It still has a Sony IMX362 main camera, but they don’t mention the specifications of its pair. Its SoC is a more mainstream Snapdragon 660, which includes the Adreno 512 GPU. It will be a little slower, but it’s still a fairly beefy processor.

asus-2017-zenfone4selfie.png

ZenFone 4 Selfie

Now we get to the Selfie line. So ASUS has been adding dual-cameras to their phones since the ZenFone 3 Zoom. The premise is that a zooming mechanism requires a lot of depth, because movable lenses need a space to travel, and that’s difficult to put in a phone... so just have two cameras, each zoomed to a different value. These phones do the opposite: the second camera provides a wider angle, so that multiple people can get into the photo. They call it a “wefie” in the press release, which has apparently been on Urban Dictionary since 2013, and so can’t blame them for it... I guess.

asus-2017-zenfone4selfiepro.png

ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro

The ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is built around a Snapdragon 625, backed with 4GB of RAM, while the regular ZenFone 4 Selfie uses the Snapdragon 430 (RAM unspecified).

Each of these phones will launch in Asia, but eventually make their way to other regions, too.

Source: ASUS

HyperX Announces the Cloud Alpha Headset

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 06:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, hyperx, cloud alpha, gaming headset

HyperX have just announced a new headset, the Cloud Alpha, which will be available for purchase on September 25th for $100.  The headset sports the standard 50mm neodymium magnets that are expected on a gaming headset however the design of the earcups is different than most on the market.  You can see the dual chamber design below.

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High and mid-range frequencies are sent directly through the the earcups while bass is directed out towards the edges which should allow finer control over the balance, however the proof will have to wait until we can get our hands on them.  The aluminium frame helps keep the weight under 300g while the leatherette ear padding should ensure they are comforatable even after a long session. 

The condenser microphone should allow you to be heard clearly when you are gaming or be removed if you don't need it for the moment.  The Cloud Alpha will be compatible with any system that accepts a 3.5mm jack, so you will be able to use the headset on all of your devices.  Full PR below the glamour shot.

HyperX Cloud Alpha_Image 1.jpg

Source: HyperX

Listen to the Void long enough and you become a Pro

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: wireless headset, VOID PRO RGB, virtual 7.1, gaming headset, corsair, audio

The new Corsair Gaming VOID PRO RGB Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset is a reasonable $80 and contains a battery which should be good for around 15 hours of usage.  As the headset contains two 50mm neodymium drivers, the 7.1 surround sound is virtual and the Guru of 3D found that while it opened up the sound somewhat it was not particularly good at enhancing your situational awareness in games.  Thankfully the RGBs are limited to the Corsair logos on the ear cups and not spread across the headband.   Drop by for their full review.

You can also see what Sebastian thought of this headset in his recent review.

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"Corsair today launches their headsets with a new PRO line of the VOID RGB headsets, we test the wireless version. The Dolby headphone certified VOID comes with updated software as well, and manages to seriously impress me in terms of audio quality and sure, build quality as well."

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Audio Corner

Source: Guru of 3D

It's good to be making NAND right now, not so good to be buying

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: nand, bad news

The trend we have seen over 2017 is predicted to continue, with the price of NAND steadily increasing thanks to the limited supply.  Over the first two quarters we have seen prices rise between 3-10% and this trend is expected to continue.  The two driving factors are the coming launch of a new generation of smartphones from most manufacturers, all of which are purchasing NAND in large volumes as well as Enterprise class SSDs which are starting to see more adoption.  At the same time, all manufacturers are seeing an impressive increase in their profitability, even those which are having production issues.  You can see the breakdown in the article posted by Trendforce.

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"We expect supply to be under strain for the rest of 2017. Relief will come later in 2018, when the manufacturing of 64- and 72-layer 3D-NAND Flash reaches maturity."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TrendForce

Linksys Announces WRT32X Gaming Router with Killer Prioritization Engine

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: WRT32X, router, networking, linksys, Killer Prioritization Engine, Killer Networking, gaming, AC3200

Linksys has announced a router that they say is 'built purely for gaming' with the WRT32X, an AC3200 router with a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor and built-in Killer Prioritization Engine.

WRT32X.jpg

"The WRT32X takes gaming to the next level. The router built purely for gaming features AC3200 speed and the Killer Prioritization Engine. The Killer Prioritization Engine identifies, prioritizes and accelerates gaming network traffic above all other devices in your home to deliver a faster, superior gaming experience. The Killer-enabled WRT32X also synchronizes with Killer-enabled PCs to give gaming traffic the highest priority on your network. Turning the Killer Engine on protects from extreme lag spikes and reduces lag by 77%, delivering consistent and superior reaction time during intense gaming scenarios."

Linksys lists the features of the WRT32X as follows:

  • 1.8 GHz CPU: Dual-Core promotes simultaneous high-speed data processing.
  • Pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet Switch: Gigabit (10/100/1000) is 10X faster than Fast Ethernet.
  • Dual-Band (2.4 + 5 GHz): N600 + AC2600 Mbps.
  • Killer Prioritization Engine: The first router that prioritizes gaming.
  • Advanced Security: WPA2 encryption and SPI rewall help keep your network safely connected.
  • Customized Gaming Interface: Custom-built interface and firmware for gaming traffic control.
  • 256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory: Handle more without delay for optimal performance.
  • 4 High-Performance Antennas: Engineered to enhance dual-band communication; four external, adjustable antennas ensure supreme Wi-Fi signal strength.
  • eSATA, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 Ports: Share content via an external storage device with ultra-fast data transfer speeds. USB 3.0 delivers enhanced performance over USB 2.0; eSATA delivers optimal data transfer speeds from external SATA drives and accommodates USB 2.0.

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The WRT32X carries an MSRP of $329.99, with availability TBA.

Source: Linksys

Acer Announces Nitro 5 Spin With Intel 8th Generation Processors

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2017 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: quad core, Intel, gaming laptop, acer, 9th generation core, 2-in-1

Following the reveal of Intel’s “8th Generation Core” refreshed Kaby Lake processors, Acer has announced its upcoming 15.6” Nitro 5 Spin convertible gaming laptop. Sporting a black aluminum shell with red accents the Nitro 5 Spin features a 360-degree hinge with multiple locking positions, a backlit keyboard and large trackpad, front firing speakers with a subwoofer, and a large 15.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Acer claims that the convertible notebook is aimed at casual gaming and the specifications seems to back that up (at least on paper).

acer Nitro 5 Spin convertible 2-in-1.jpg

Acer has opted for refreshed Kaby Lake processors which means a quad core CPU with HyperThreading at up to 1.9GHz base and 4.2 GHz turbo clocks at the high end with the Intel Core i7-8650U along with Intel “UHD Graphics” which is simply a rebrand of its HD Graphics 620 iGPU. Gamers will be happier to see the inclusion of a dedicated graphics card although it is only a midrange NVIDIA GTX 1050. Storage is handled by a PCI-E SSD up to 512 GB. As far as connectivity goes, the Acer Nitro 5 Spin offers 802.11ac MU-MIMO along with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD, HDMI, and a headphone/mic jack.

According to Tech Radar Acer claims that the gaming laptop is rated at up to 10 hours of gaming usage (though that’s probably a casual title with brightness all the way down heh).

Surprisingly, the Nitro 5 Spin will be available as soon as October with a starting price of $999 (though the top end i7-8650U plus 512GB SSD option is obviously going to cost a lot more).

Acer did not weigh in on just how heavy the gaming PC is, but if they can keep the weight down it might be a decent PC for college kids to play games on (I mean, uhm, do homework!) and consume media. What do you think, does a convertible gaming notebook make sense?

Source: TechRadar

AMD's HBCC for you and me

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2017 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: Vega, amd, raja koduri, HBCC

Techgage has posted a look at what AMD's new HBCC feature in Vega is and how it will help you run games faster.  HBCC allows your GPU to treat VRAM as a last-level cache, so that a request for data not currently located in VRAM can be pulled into Vega's HBC for immediate access while simultaneously flushing out data which is no longer needed.  In addition to describing how the feature functions they also did quite a bit of testing to determine the real world effect of enabling HBCC in games and benchmarks.  Drop by for a look.

AMD-HBCC-Memory-Allocation.png

"AMD’s Vega GPU architecture brings many notable features to the table, but the one to find its way into Radeon chief Raja Koduri’s heart is HBCC – or “high-bandwidth cache controller”. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what HBCC is, why it offers no benefit right this moment, and talk about what it could offer in the future."

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

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Techgage

Back to school or just the beach, the best mobile devices to drag with you

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 21, 2017 - 11:49 AM |
Tagged: laptop, cellphone

The Tech Report have polled their crew to build a list of the best mobile devices on the market to help you enjoy your summer.  Amazon's tablets were a top pick thanks to the reasonable prices you can purchase them at; they won't be able to play Crysis but there are plenty of other things you can do.  For those who need a bigger screen without overly increasing the price you can peruse the Chromebooks or you could just head straight to the big ticket items in the gaming laptop section.  Drop by for a look at what you might be interested in over at TR.

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"It's time for another edition of The Tech Report's mobile staff picks, where we comb the worlds of tablets, laptops, and phones to separate the best from the rest."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation Vulkan Support Soon

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, oxide, Oxide Games, vulkan

Oxide Games has been mentioned all throughout the development of the next-generation graphics APIs, DirectX 12, Mantle, and Vulkan. Their Star Swarm “stress test” was one of the first practical examples of a game that desperately needs to make a lot of draw calls. Also, their rendering algorithm is very different from the other popular game engines, where lighting is performed on the object rather than the screen, which the new APIs help out with.

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Currently, Ashes of the Singularity supports DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, but Vulkan will be added soon. Oxide will be pushing the new graphics api in the 2.4 update, bringing increased CPU performance to all OSes but especially Windows 7 and 8 (neither of which support DirectX 12), and a free DLC pack that contains nine co-op maps. They also plan to continue optimizing Ashes of the Singularity for Vulkan in the future.

All of this will be available on Thursday, August 24th.

The Enermax LIQMAX II 240 shunts away 250W of TDP

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2017 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: LIQMAX II 240, enermax, AIO

Enermax's LIQMAX AIO cooler has not received a lot of attention, in the case of [H]ard|OCP they were less than impressed with the choice to locate the fan controller on the hub.  The second generation has remedied that issue by moving the switch to the side of the fans which makes it much more convenient when you need to adjust it.  They also praise the evolution of the mounting brackets which have become easier to install with every new generation, though on a Threadripper you will still need to use AMD's bracket to install the LIQMAX II.  Overall, the performance exceeded their expectations, for an $80 AIO solution it is quite effective albeit somewhat loud on the highest setting.  Drop by for a look at their full review.

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"Enermax is extremely proud of its Liqmax II 240 CPU AIO cooler. It is one of the few coolers you will find that it proudly displays its TDP rating right on the front of the box, which happens to be "350W+." With its Batwing fan blades, ceramic bearing pump, and Shunt-Channel-Technology it is a sure winner, right? Let's find out."

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CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Fishing for Ice Lake rumours

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2017 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: rumours, Intel, ice lake, coffee lake, 9th generation core

It's Friday so why not engage in some speculation with us about Intel's upcoming new chips?  We will start off by confusing the issue with a post detailing Intel's naming conventions that The Inquirer found.  It would seem that not only is the "Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel Core processor family" but it is also described as an "“8th generation Intel Core Processor Family” and available only to early access users.  One can only hope that there is a typo in Intel's decoder ring as the current naming schemes are already confusing enough between AMD and Intel without adding more levels of complexity.

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That makes the above a little more interesting than unannounced low power parts usually are.  AnandTech recently learned of these two new families of 8th gen chips, the i7-8xxx and i5-8xxx, both of which offer double the amount of cores as their 7th gen processors.  The base frequencies are lower than the previous generation, perhaps to remain inside the 15W TDP with double the amount of cores, with the turbo frequencies remaining a mystery for now.  With the aforementioned confusion, it is possible these could be Ice Lake based, though it is far more likely that they are indeed caffeinated instead.

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The final rumour for you to look at this morning is the above screenshot from Chiphell.  You will need to zoom and enhance to get the full story, however there are some interesting reveals in the legible parts of the slide.  Enjoy.

"More news from Intel this morning, this time published directly on their website. With the upcoming announcement of the 8th Generation Core next week to which Intel has already posted teasers to the media, it would seem that someone at Intel decided to add processor details and pricing into Intel’s official Price List today."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: AnandTech

Vulkan Renderer for Doom 3 BFG Source Code Published

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2017 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: id software, vulkan, doom, Doom 3

Over the last few days, Dustin Land of id Software has been publishing commits to his vkDOOM3 GitHub repository. This project, as the name suggests, adds a Vulkan-based renderer to the game, although it’s not really designed to replace the default OpenGL implementation. Instead, the project is a learning resource, showing how a full application handles the API.

id-logo.jpg

This is quite interesting for me. While code samples can show you how a chunk of code is used in rough isolation, it’s sometimes good to see how it’s used in a broader context. For instance, when I was learning Unreal Engine 4, I occasionally searched into the Unreal Tournament repository for whatever I was learning about. Sometimes, things just don’t “click” until you see the context, especially when your question starts with “why”.

If you’re interested, check out the GitHub repo. You will need to own Doom 3 BFG Edition to actually play it, though.

Source: GitHub

What difference is it 2 you? X99 versus X299

Subject: Motherboards | August 17, 2017 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: X99, Intel X299, Intel

There has been a trend recently in which we see rather lacklustre improvements in Intel's CPUs and chipsets which have changed the reaction of many to new releases.  When a new chip drops enthusiasts no longer immediately switch to a diet of pot noodles so they can upgrade ASAP, instead they are more likely to have to squint to see the performance difference an upgrade would provide.

[H]ard|OCP recently took a look at the differences offered between the modern X299 chipset and the three year old X99 chipset.  The new X299 chipset offers full PCI-Express 3.0 support, 24x HSIO lanes and up to 24 PCIe lanes but the small number of systems with multiple GPUs seems to be decreasing instead of increasing so perhaps those extra lanes are merely nice to talk about but are never used.  Read through the article for a look at what the differences are, and if you feel there is a compelling reason to upgrade or if X99 is good enough to last until the next generation of Intel chipset arrives.

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"New processors and another socket means a new chipset. Intel's X299 Express chipset replaces the venerable and X99 Express Chipset and updates it's HEDT platform to match it's mainstream offerings and then some. This chipset promises to be the most versatile and feature rich Intel has released to date, but is it really an improvement?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Cooler Master's MasterPulse MH320, bargain or bust?

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2017 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, cooler master, masterpulse MH320, gaming headset

The MasterPulse MH320 gaming headset is a mere $40 on Amazon right now and TechPowerUp wanted to determine if it was a bargain or not.  The specifications are reasonable, 40mm neodymium drivers and a 20-20,000Hz frequency response, a bi-directional microphone and 3.5mm plugs, sans USB.  In testing they found spatial positioning to be a weakness, if you depend on audio clues to detect your enemies you will be disappointed but for games which do not require this feature as well as for listening to music the MH320's are a good deal.  They were also a big fan of CM utilizing a dual headband design on a budget level headset.  For more details head on over and read the full review.

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"By releasing the MasterPulse MH320, their least-expensive gaming headset to date, Cooler Master tries to grab the attention of gamers on a very tight budget. Even though it costs a mere $40, it offers a dual-headband design, a foldable bi-directional boom microphone, and a few other interesting features."

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Source: TechPowerUp

NVIDIA's Quadro vDWS creates Tesla powered servers

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2017 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, pascal, grid, tesla, Quadro vDWS

NVIDIA have updated their GRID virtual PC architecture to allow up to 24 virtual desktops, each with a 1GB desktop, doubling the previous capacity of their virtual machine tool.  Along with this increase comes a new service called Quadro vDWS which allows you to power those virtual desktops with one of their HPC cards like their Pascal-based line of Tesla GPU accelerators.  For workflows which incorporate things such as VR or photorealism this will offer a significant increase in performance; unfortunately Minesweeper will not see any improvements.  NVIDIA accompanied this launch with a new blade server, the Tesla P6 which has 16GB of memory which can be split down to 16 1GB virtual desktops.   Drop by The Inquirer for more information including on where to get this new software.

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"NVIDIA has announced a new software suite which will allow users to virtualise an operating system to turn the company's ridiculously powerful Tesla GPU servers into powerful workstations."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #463 - AMD VEGA 64, Flash Memory Summit, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2017 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: video, T5, Samsung, RX VEGA 64, qualcomm, podcast, PC-Q39, P4800X, NX500, NGSFF, micron, Lian Li, Intel, EK Supremacy EVO, EDSFF, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #463 - 08/17/17

Join us for AMD Threadripper, Intel Rumors, 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, Ken Addison, Sebastian Peak

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:37:18

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:26:30 Jeremy: caveat emptor
    2. 1:32:30 Ken: Prusa i3 MK2S 3D Printer (NOW IN STOCK!)
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Lian Li’s new PC-Q39 tempered glass Mini-ITX (wide) tower

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 16, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: tempered glass, PC-Q39, mini-itx, Lian Li

Lian Li have released an upgrade to the PC-Q37 with the new mini-ITX PC-Q39 with tempered glass side panel and a larger internal volume.  The aluminium case will be large enough to fit a three slot GPU, with the extra width allowing a separated second chamber to house an ATX PSU of up to 160mm. 

q39-00.jpg

In addition to the PSU there is space for a pump and reservoir for watercooling as well as mounting points for two 3.5” and one 2.5” drive, allowing you to configure an unobstructed view of your components and he almost mandatory RGB LED lightshow which they produce.  If you do chose to watercool, a radiator of up to 240mm can be mounted at the top while the bottom of the case will accommodate two 120mm fans or a single 140 fan.

q39-10.jpg

The front panel has a minimalist design, the various connectors have been moved to the top of the case.  There is now a USB 3.1 Type-C plug in addition to two USB 3.1 plugs, audio jacks and a power button.  The shield at the top of the case is removable to make it easier to mount your fans or radiator as well as making it easy to clean. 

The MSRP is $210 and it is available now at NewEgg and other fine retailers.

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Click for the full PR.

Source: Lian Li

Samsung's T5 provides a mobile storage junkies fix

Subject: Storage | August 16, 2017 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: USB 3.1 gen 2, T5, Samsung, portable, 500gb, 2TB

Hopefully Samsung changes its naming schemes before we hit T1000 but for now, as many people know a T5 is stronger than a T3.  If you missed Al's review, you should take a peek before heading to The Tech Report to benefit from his wisdom.  With portable drives, or most drives for that matter, the metric that we care the most about is real world usage which is what Robobench is intended for.  In order to properly test this USB 3.1 Gen 2 drive, TR picked up an addin card with the most common Gen 2 chip, the ASMedia ASM1142 controller and tested the transfer speeds for both compressible and non-compressible data.  Drop by for a look at how the Samsung T5 performed.

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"Samsung has refreshed its portable SSD lineup with 64-layer V-NAND and an aluminum unibody. We take the new T5 external for a spin to see if it lives up to the legacy of the T1 and T3."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Only 10 days to train up for the Fragging Frogs VLAN #16

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2017 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: vlan, fragging frogs, gaming, kick ass

That's right fellow gamers, in just over a weeks time you will be able to once again dedicate your Saturday to a truly noble effort, fragging friends, family and strangers in the 16th Fragging Frogs VLAN party.  It kicks off at 10AM EDT and goes until the last player succumbs to weakness and falls asleep.  Lenny is hard at work organizing the event as well as gathering hardware and other goodies for the giveaways.

You can't win unless you let him know you are coming by posting to this thread and if you don't set up Teamspeak then you'll never know if you won or not, not to mention that the day is a lot more fun when you are chatting with your fellow Frogs.  The thread also lets you suggest games as well as providing valuable information on the event and getting your mods and patches set up.

Be there or be a pixellated block!

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: PCPer Forums