G.Skill Adds Faster 64GB DDR4 3600 MHz Kit To Trident Z Lineup

Subject: Memory | November 5, 2016 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: G.Skill Trident Z, G.Skill, ddr4

Yesterday G.Skill announced the launch of the soon-to-be fastest DDR4 64 GB kit using 16 GB modules running at 3600 MHz. The new Trident Z kit uses Samsung 8Gb chips and pairs four 16 GB DIMMs supporting XMP 2.0 and CAS latencies of 17-19-19-39.

GSkill Trident Z.png

The DDR4 memory kit features stylized brushed aluminum heatspreaders with red accents similar to those used on existing Trident Z kits. Out of the box the kit runs at 1.35 voilts though overclockers should be able to push them further to eke out a bit more speed beyond the stock 3600 MHz!

Beyond that there is not much to the announcement other than G.Skill claiming the speed crown. Looking online, it seems the previous highest speed offered was 3466 MHz so the new modules are a decent bit faster.

According to G.Skill, the new Trident Z 64GB kit will be available in December. They have not yet released pricing, but I would expect it to MSRP for at least $570 considering G.Skill and Corsair currently have DDR4 3466 MHz 64GB kits priced at $540 and $530 respectively. If you are into overclocking, you can probably save a few bucks and overclock some lower specc'ed memory, but these might be good if you are building a workstation that doesn't need ECC (e.g. a video editing and streaming monster heh).

Source: G.Skill

Diablo 3 Will Get a Diablo-style Campaign for Free

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, pc gaming, diablo, diablo iii

Starting in the Public Test Realm next week, Diablo 3 will receive a campaign that is based on the original game, which turns 20 years old on New Year's Eve. Like the original game, you will fight down the levels of a dungeon into Hell where you fight and kill Diablo. Pardon the spoilers.

blizzard-2016-diablologo.png

The patch, called The Darkening of Tristram, seems to be taken light-heartedly by the company. They announce that it will add a low-quality rendering mode to pay homage to graphical limitations of 1996. More functionality, they also force the character to move in eight directions, which I'm not sure it's tongue-in-cheek or actually implemented for gameplay reasons.

Either way, you can check it out next week by joining the beta realm.

Source: Blizzard

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.2 Hotfix Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 4, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, crimson

AMD has released another hotfix driver, just a day after releasing 16.11.1. This version has a single listed change: “Improved Shader Cache storage limit”. I'm not sure why the company decided to release this update so abruptly, since I'm not aware of any critical issue that relies upon it, but there's certainly nothing wrong with rapidly releasing optional software. I'm guessing at least one new game has a performance issue with the previous maximum, though.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

If this has been an issue for you, and you are able to install drivers that are unsigned, it's available.

Source: AMD

VR Funhouse Game Jam Results

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, nvidia

In early September, we posted about a VR game jam that was coming to Hamburg, Germany by Epic Games, NVIDIA, HTC, and Valve. The companies wanted to increase the amount of content available so, with the release of the VR Funhouse mod kit, they rented a boat, docked it really well, and let indie developers do their thing around the clock. Seven teams of three-to-five participated, and the public were invited to play around with the results.

Most of the entries deviated from the literal fun-house theme to some extent. Probably the most original game is one where users play a kid in a candy store, trying to evade detection while gorging on sweet, sweet candy. Go figure, it's called Kid in a Candy Store. The closest to the literal interpretation of the theme is Beer Beer Beer and Sausages, where you serve carnival food, with real beer and mustard fluid simulations.

Two of the games, Beer Beer Beer and Sausages and Waiter Wars, are available for free on the VR Funhouse Steam Workshop page. I'm not sure what happened to the rest. The Unreal Engine post seems to suggest that they are supposed to be here, but maybe some of the teams are looking to polish it up a little first.

Source: Epic Games

Alphabet Inc.'s DeepMind Working on StarCraft II AI

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, google, ai, deep learning, Starcraft II

Blizzard and DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 and is now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., have just announced opening up StarCraft II for AI research. DeepMind was the company that made AlphaGo, which beat Lee Sedol, a grandmaster of Go, in a best-of-five showmatch with a score of four to one. They hinted at possibly having a BlizzCon champion, some year, do a showmatch as well, which would be entertaining.

blizzard-2016-blizzcon-deepmindgoogle.jpg

StarCraft II is different from Go in three important ways. First, any given player knows what they scout, which they apparently will constrain these AI to honor. Second, there are three possible match-ups for any choice of race, except random, which has nine. Third, it's real-time, which can be good for AI, because they're not constrained by human input limitations, but also difficult from a performance standpoint.

From Blizzard's perspective, better AI can be useful, because humans need to be challenged to learn. Novices won't be embarrassed to lose to a computer over and over, so they can have a human-like opponent to experiment with. Likewise, grandmasters will want to have someone better than them to keep advancing, especially if it allows them to keep new strategies hidden. From DeepMind's perspective, this is another step in AI research, which could be applied to science, medicine, and so forth in the coming years and decades.

Unfortunately, this is an early announcement. We don't know any more details, although they will have a Blizzcon panel on Saturday at 1pm EDT (10am PDT).

Source: Blizzard

Your ZX Spectrum Vega+ will be arriving soon

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: ZX Spectrum Vega+

If you backed the return of Sinclair's ZX Spectrum Vega+ then The Inquirer has good news for you, it should be arriving in the near future.  It ships with roughly 1000 retro games installed and with an SD card you can add any of your favourites you can use an SD card to add them.  The Vega+ can hook up to an external display and keyboard, not just to game but also to help if you plan on coding on the device.  Once all the backers have received theirs you will begin to see the Vega+ for sale, so you did not miss out if you did not back it.  The Inquirer was happy to note that games now launch in mere seconds as opposed to the minutes the original required.

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"Our backers will be getting their machines first, before the press, before the shops. It’s because of them that we’re here and we owe it to them to make sure they get their Vega first," explained Suzanne Martin of Retro Computers, the company behind the project."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Is Changing How Windows 10 Updates (Further)

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows update, windows 10, microsoft

In a blog post, yesterday, Microsoft outlined their Unified Update Platform (UUP) initiative. The short version of this story is that UUP, which is expected to affect consumers with the major update after the Windows 10 Creators Update, will shrink download sizes of updates by omitting portions that are already on your device. They claim that it is expected to result in about 35% less bandwidth used by a major update.

microsoft-2016-windows7-update.png

Beyond bandwidth, Microsoft also claims that this will help battery life and time spent searching for updates, because the difference is calculated in the cloud. (I guess you can call that reAzurement. I'll see myself out.) At least for mobile, I can see how this might be cheaper than the new system completely client-side. I wouldn't say the current method is too slow, though. I mean, it takes a while, especially a Windows 8.1 laptop I have at times, but I don't really see how it would help a gaming PC that likely has a faster processor than their servers.

We'll see.

Also, if you're the type of person who likes to scorch earth on a regular basis, I'm guessing Microsoft will still be providing ISOs that can either clean install or perform the typical update method. Also, this new feature will reduce the download size of cumulative updates, which are inherently very redundant, so that should be good.

I can't think of a real negative to this, especially not with the ISO workaround for the more picky power users. Maybe I'm not thinking of something, though, but it sounds like a net win (unless it turns out to be an unstable mess).

Source: Microsoft

Recordings of Valve's Steam Dev Days Now on YouTube

Subject: Shows and Expos | November 4, 2016 - 02:35 AM |
Tagged: VR, valve, steam, pc gaming

A little over three weeks ago, Valve hosted a fairly big developer conference, which excluded journalists so that attendees could network without feeling anxious. The goal was not to keep information from the public, however, and so they created high-quality recordings of the talks and the Steamworks Development YouTube channel, which I assume is owned by Valve but cannot verify this, made the videos public.

valve-2016-steam-dev-days-logo.jpg

Again, each of these talks were aimed at various types of developers, and they were hosted by numerous companies. One video has Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, discuss Physically-Based Rendering (PBR) and another has Na'Tosha Bard, the technical director at Unity, highlight points that a game developer should know if they intend to publish to Linux, including SteamOS.

In all, there are 25 videos, ranging from ten minutes to an hour and a half, with most clocking in around 45 minutes. It's a fairly large commitment if you want to watch it all, but the topics vary wildly, so it could easily be a “kill an hour learning something” sort of thing. Also, the talks from 2014 are available, too. (There wasn't a Steam Dev Days conference in 2015.)

Thanks Phoronix for finding these.

Huawei Announces Mate 9 Smartphone with Kirin 960 and Dual-Lens Leica Camera

Subject: Mobile | November 3, 2016 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, phablet, Mate 9, Mate 8, Mali-G71, Leica, Kirin 960, Kirin 950, Huawei, dual camera

Huawei announced their flagship Mate 9 smartphone earlier today, successor to the Mate 8 we reviewed a few months back. A hair smaller than last year's phablet design, the Mate 9 boasts improved internals and the dual-lens Leica camera recently introduced with the company's P9 phone.

Mate_9_1.jpg

The biggest change inside the Mate 9 is the new Kirin 960 SoC, which makes use of the latest ARM Cortex architecture in an 8-core big.LITTLE design. Importantly, the Kirin 960 also includes the latest Mali-G71 MP8 graphics, and with GPU power a low point with the Kirin 950 this is a welcome change.

Mate_9_2.jpg

Specifications:

  • Display: 
    • 5.9” FHD display
    • 2.5D glass
    • 1080p (1920 x 1080), 373ppi
    • 16.7M colors, Color saturation (NTSC) 96% High contrast 1500:1 (Typical)
  • CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 960; Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73 + 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-processor
  • GPU: Mali-G71 MP8
  • Memory and Storage: 
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB Storage
    • microSD card slot, supports up to 256GB (uses secondary SIM slot) 
  • Camera: 
    • Front: 8MP AF, F1.9
    • Main: Dual, 20MP Monochrome + 12MP RGB, F2.2 OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
    • 4K video
  • Connectivity:
    • Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Wi-Fi Direct support
    • BT4.2, BLE support
    • USB Type-C (Hi-Speed USB)
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • Operating System: Android 7.0 (Emotion UI 5.0)
  • Colors: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Black
  • Size and Weight: 
    • (H x W x D): 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm
    • Approx. 190 g

Mate_9_Lens.jpg

The other major improvement for the Mate 9 vs. the 8 is the primary camera, which now incorporates a dual-lens system. The dual Leica lenses in the Mate 9 are backed by two different cameras, with separate color and monochrome image sensors. This unusual setup has the potential to offer more detailed images, and the camera system can also produce simulated depth-of-field effects.

We have day-one review hardware in hand here at PC Perspective, so stay tuned for the full review!

Source: Huawei

Call of Duty Has a Big Issue. Choose Your Store Carefully.

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: xbox, steam, pc gaming, fail

In a few short hours, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will unlock on Steam and Windows Store. If you're intending to get it for the multiplayer, though, then you need to choose your store carefully. According to Activision's support page, Steam users can only play with other Steam users, and Windows Store users can only play with other Windows Store users.

Ouch.

activision-2016-codtwopeople.jpg

"We need to stick together! I wanted to pad my Gamerscore and you're the only one online!"

They do not elaborate on why this is the case. PC Gamer speculates that it could be an issue with Windows 7 versus Windows 10, but that makes basically no sense. The protocol between computers is just data, controlled by Activision, so the operating system that transfer it from network socket to game application is irrelevant.

I think I know what it is, though. According to the same support page, they note that a Microsoft Account is required to play online with Windows Store. I'm not sure if Activision voluntarily chose to use two different account systems, or if Microsoft pressured Activision to use Xbox accounts on Windows Store, but I'm guessing the incompatibility is due to Steamworks versus Xbox.

Again, I really don't know why Activision chose to, or was forced to, split their user base. We'll need to see if this becomes a trend going forward, though. If it is, I can see this hurting Microsoft more than Valve.

Source: Activision

Skyrim Special Edition Beta Patch Released

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: bethesda, pc gaming, skyrim

Despite the complaints that are seen across the internet, the launch of Skyrim Special Edition (on PC) has not been bad. If you received it for free, because you own the original Skyrim and all of its paid DLC, then it delivers a newer engine with more rendering features and the potential to handle much more modded content at the same time. It is a new game, though, and I think users were expecting to binge on it at launch, when it will take a bit of time to catch up to the original game.

bethesda-2016-skyrim-special-edition.png

Speaking of catching up, though, Bethesda has released a beta patch for the PC version. Skyrim Special Edition 1.1.51 will remove compression on “some” sound files, which was a major complaint that circled the web since release. They also fixed a few bugs with the save games, performance, and NPC behavior.

To access it, switch Skyrim Special Edition to the Beta channel on Steam by right clicking on the game in your library, clicking properties, and changing the drop-down in the betas tab.

Source: Bethesda

Call of Duty: Radeon Crimson Remastered

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, Crimson Edition 16.11.1

By the time you read this you should be able to grab the new Radeon Crimson Edition 16.11.1 driver from AMD.  While mostly focused on the new CoD games there are also some fixes for existing games.  Check here for the version which is right for you.

Capture.PNG

Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD’s revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.1 Highlights

  • Support For: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

New AMD CrossFire profile added for DirectX®11:

  • Titanfall 2

Fixed Issues

  • AMD XConnect Technology will now allow Microsoft Office applications to migrate to iGPU on unplug.
  • Flickering may be observed on some surfaces in a few maps or locations in Battlefield 1 in AMD CrossFire mode.
  • Radeon R9 390 graphics series may experience a crash or application hang when running Unigine Heaven using OpenGL.
  • The Radeon WattMan feature may intermittently display a Radeon Software popup error regarding Radeon WattMan for non-supported products.
  • The Division may experience an application freeze or hang when running in AMD CrossFire mode after extended periods of play.
  • OBS screen capture may stutter after extended periods of use while capturing video and watching or streaming content in a web browser.

Source: AMD

Fractal Design's Define C enclosure, only slightly bigger than a breadbox

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 3, 2016 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: fractal design, define c

At 210x440x399mm (8.3x17.3x15.7") the Define C is a fair bit smaller than your average ATX case.  The size does limit the GPUs the case can fit somewhat, though there are few GPUs longer than a foot so you should not feel too limited.  You can fit up to seven fans or there is space to mount large radiators on the top and rear, a front radiator can also be installed if you remove the drive cages. The Tech Report gave the Define C high marks in looks and design, especially as both the windowed and non-windowed models sell for well under $100.

front34.jpg

"Fractal Design's latest Define case, the Define C, promises ATX expandability in a mid-tower that's no larger than some microATX cases. We put the Define C to the test to see whether Fractal's fat-trimming added any compromises on the way."

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

CASES & COOLING

VRMark arrives

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: VRMark, Futuremark, Blue Room, Orange Room, VR

Futuremark's VRMark is available today via Steam or directly from Futuremark.  As with 3DMark the basic version is free while the Advanced Edition is $20, with a 25% discount for the first week of its release.

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The difference between the two versions is the inclusion of the Blue Room in addition to the Orange Room; the Blue Room is for high end systems which surpass the basic VR requirements and need heavier loads to test.  The two rooms can be used to run either a standard benchmark or to enter Experience Mode which lets you wander the room on your own to get a feel for the headsets reprojection performance as well as spatial audio and an interactive flashlight to test lighting.

blue.jpg

VRMark Basic Edition - free download

  • See if your PC meets the performance requirements for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  • Test your system's VR readiness with the Orange Room benchmark
  • Explore the Orange Room in Experience mode

VRMark Advanced Edition - $19.99

  • Unlock the Blue Room benchmark for high-performance PCs
  • See detailed results and hardware monitoring charts
  • Explore both rooms in Experience mode
  • Make tests more or less demanding with custom settings.

VRMark comes with two VR benchmark tests, which you can run on your desktop monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. There is also a free-roaming Experience mode that lets you judge the quality of a system's VR performance with your own eyes.

The performance requirements for VR games are much higher than for typical PC games. So if you're thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift this holiday, wouldn't it be good to know that your PC is ready for VR?

VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR-ready, and if not, how far it falls short.

Orange Room benchmark
The VRMark Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today.

Blue Room benchmark
The VRMark Blue Room benchmark is a more demanding test with a greater level of detail. It is the ideal benchmark for comparing high-end systems with specs above the recommended requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. A PC that passes this test will be able to run the latest VR games at the highest settings, and may even be VR-ready for the next generation of VR headsets.

Results and reporting
After running a benchmark, you'll see clearly whether your PC is VR-ready or not. To pass, your PC has to meet or exceed the target frame rate without dropping frames. You also get an overall score, which you can use to compare systems.

Hardware monitoring charts show how your PC performed frame-by-frame. There are charts for frame rate, GPU frequency, GPU load, and GPU temperature.

Experience mode
VR headsets use clever techniques to compensate for missed frames. With Experience mode, you can judge the quality of the VR experience with your own eyes. VRMark Experience mode features free movement, spatial audio, and an interactive flashlight for lighting up the details of the scene. Explore each scene in your own time in VR or on your monitor.

Source: Futuremark

Weird, the cell signal is really strong over by the printer

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: security

Just how easy is it to intercept your cellphone signals, be it texting or calling?  Julian Oliver showed off the simplicity of it by adding a GSM base station to the internals of an HP printer and thanks to its proximity to your phone it easily overpowers the signal sent by your providers cell tower.  It can text and call you or intercept anything sent from your phone once your device connects, showing just how easily unencrypted cell signals can be monitored.  This particular project is for an art show with warnings displayed for attendees, as this is to highlight the simplicity of eavesdropping as opposed to the nefarious purposes it could easily server.  Drop by Ars Technica for more detail, including the code he used.

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"Earlier this week, the Berlin-based hacker-artist unveiled the result: An entirely boring-looking Hewlett Packard printer that also secretly functions as a rogue GSM cell base station, tricking your phone into connecting to it rather than your phone carrier’s tower, effectively intercepting your calls and text messages."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #423 - Logitech G231, DX12 Multi-GPU, GTX 1070/1080 issues and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 10:35 AM |
Tagged: vrm, video, skyrim, qualcomm, prodigy, powercolor, podcast, nxp, multi-gpu, msi, micron, logitech, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, g231, evga, dx12, devil box, deus ex: mankind divided, amd, Alienware 13

PC Perspective Podcast #423 - 11/03/16

Join us this week as we discuss the Logitech Prodigy G231, multi-GPU scaling with DX12, Qualcomm buying NXP, issues with GTX 1070 and 1080 cards 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

Program length: 1:10:25

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Today’s episode is brought to you by Harry’s! Use code PCPER at checkout!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

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

Dell Teases "Smart Desk"

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | November 3, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: dell

Update November 3rd @ 2:20pm: As noted in the comments, the video and article are back from 2014. As I said in the article, the concept was teased in Adobe MAX, but I must have found an old source and misread the date. I've also embed the new video just below.

Original post below

Adobe MAX started yesterday, and Dell used it as a venue to announce their Smart Desk concept. While it draws comparisons with Microsoft's Surface Studio, especially with their dial-based input accessory, it's unclear whether the similarities stop. For instance, while they promote how it uses “Dell Precision workstation performance,” they don't explicitly state that it is a PC itself. Unlike the Surface Studio, it might be a peripheral to be paired with a full desktop, which its thin profile suggests, unless it requires a specific device that's just not pictured.

I mean, it would be possible to fit a laptop into a twenty-some-inch tablet that's designed to permanently sit on a desk, but, unless the software requires deep OS integration, you would think that going the Wacom route would be a win for both parties. While powering hardware wouldn't be an issue, you would still need to use slower-for-the-price laptop components to dissipate heat and exist in a small volume. If it does contain a PC, it would be running Windows 10, too, because that was clearly shown on the secondary UltraSharp 27 monitor attached to it. On the other hand, the interface, while nothing about it excludes being a complex driver for everyday desktops, is the sort of thing that a company would do if they're shipping it in a full PC.

dell-2016-smartdeskconcept.jpg

We'll know more in the future as Dell spills the beans (and probably develops a marketable product to have beans spilled over). What would you be more interested in? An all-in-one or a peripheral?

Source: Dell

Steam "Discovery Update 2.0" Changes Screenshot Policy

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:58 AM |
Tagged: steam, valve, pc gaming

According to leaked images of an announcement that Valve made to Steam developers, which PC Gamer claims to have confirmed with Valve, the digital distribution platform will undergo several changes in “a couple weeks”. The message calls this initiative “Discovery Update 2.0”. While I would guess that this is the final name, it could be a placeholder that tells developers to expect changes similar to 2014's Discovery Update, which introduced Steam Curators and the Discovery Queue to the front page.

SteamLogo.png

A lot of the changes, like the original Discovery Update, affect how games can be found on the front page. There will be a focus on promoting whatever the user's Steam friends are consuming as well as elevating the visibility of the “Top Selling New Releases” screen. The will also be more picky about who to show ads for new games to, which Valve expects will lead to fewer impressions, but hopefully higher click-through.

Valve will also refresh the Steam Curator feature by allowing them to communicate about titles in a more nuanced way, possibly without even making a recommendation one way or the other at all. We'll need to wait a little while and see how it is actually implemented, along with all of the other changes, but they might nudge the platform away from the visibility issues that users and indie developers alike were complaining about. At the very least, you can expect Valve to carefully measure how sales are impacted by these alterations, and continue to experiment with why.

Then we get to the screenshot policy.

Two changes are planned, each addressing a wholly different issue. The first change regards mature content. Valve does not seem to be planning to discourage gory, lewd, or offensive content, but rather force developers to properly tag their content so the user can filter out what they aren't interest in (or disgusted by). Of course, censorship could creep in with the correct mix of misguided good intentions and complacency, but that doesn't seem to be the goal, which should mean that accidents will be fixed as they arise.

The other change alters the way they intend screenshots to be used. Previously, they were treated like promotional content, even by Valve. In fact, their one example picked apart the store page of their own game, DOTA 2. Valve seems to want to change it into a glimpse of the actual game, like a demo in still image form. Basically, the “screenshots” section is turning more literally into a section of screenshots, rather than, as they verbatim say, concept art, pre-rendered cinematic stills, or images that contain awards, marketing copy, or written product descriptions. “Please show customers what your game is actually like to play.”

This all seems like fairly routine changes to me, although we will need to wait until it's live (or another leak occurs) to truly know.

Thoughts on Alcatel IDOL 4S / Windows Mobile Announcement

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:07 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, VR, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, microsoft, idol 4s, alcatel

While it does make a little sense if you pay attention, I guess, Microsoft's business in the mobile space has been... sporadic. Initiatives seem to come and go with little notice, and they may or may not oppose one another. To me, they do seem to point to Microsoft wanting to keep Windows Mobile relevant as a third-place contender, but they realize that, outside of leaning it against the development of Windows 10 for PCs, it's a money pit. Its problems cannot be solved by simply throwing money at it, so don't throw any more than is necessary.

Through this lens, the recent announcement of the Alcatel IDOL 4S makes a bit of sense. Google has not secured their place in mobile VR, and Apple isn't even trying to enter this segment (as best as we can tell). Microsoft is also into VR and AR on the PC and console side of things, so I'm guessing that even that cost can be dulled slightly. As such, why not release a phone that has roughly the same specs as a ZTE Axon 7, which is itself positioned as a first wave of mobile Google Daydream VR devices, and hopefully plant your foot somewhere in this space? They even have an OEM partner covering the hardware side of things.

So, basically, it seems like last year, when we heard that Windows 10 Mobile would be quiet, it wasn't so much an admission of defeat. They really seem to be moving forward, slow and steady.

Source: Microsoft

The down and dirty on the hot and bothered ACX 3.0 cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX1070, GTX1060, GTX 1080, fail, evga, ACX 3.0

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Checklist time readers, do you have the following:

  • A GTX 1060/1070/1080
  • Which is from EVGA
  • With an ACX 3.0 cooler
  • With one of the model numbers above

If not, make like Bobby McFerrin.

If so, you have a reason to be concerned and EVGA offers their apologies and more importantly, a fix.  EVGA's tests, which emulate the ones performed at Tom's show that the thermal temperature of the PWM and memory was just marginally within spec.  That is a fancy way of saying that in certain circumstances the PWM was running just short of causing a critical thermal incident, also know as catching on fire and letting out the magic smoke.  They claim that this was because the testing focused on GPU temperature and the lowest acoustic levels possible and did not involve measuring the heat produced on memory or the VRM which is, as they say, a problem.

Nvidia-GTX-1080-EVGA-FTW-Catches-Fire-840x473.jpg

You have several choices of remedy from EVGA, please remember that you should reach out directly to their support, not NVIDIA's.  You can try requesting a refund from the store you purchased it at but your best bet is EVGA.

The first option is a cross-ship RMA.  Contact EVGA as a guest or with your account to set up an RMA and they will ship you a replacement card with a new VBIOS which will not have this issue and you won't need to send yours back until the replacement arrives.

You can flash to the new VBIOS which will adjust the fan-speed curve to ensure that your fans are running higher than 30% and will provide sufficient cooling to additional portions of the GPU.  Your card will be louder but it will also be less likely to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion.

Lastly you can request a thermal pad kit, which EVGA suggests is unnecessary but certainly sounds like a good idea especially as it is free although requires you sign up for an EVGA account.  Hopefully in the spare seconds currently available to the team we can get our hands on an ACX 3.0 cooled Pascal card with the VBIOS update and thermal pads so we can verify this for you.

This issue should not have happened and does reflect badly on certain factors of EVGA's testing.  Their response has been very appropriate on the other hand, if you are affected then you can get a replacement card with no issues or you can fix the issue yourself.  Any cards shipped, though not necessarily purchased, after Nov. 1st will have the new VBIOS so be careful if you are sticking with a new EVGA Pascal card.

Source: EVGA