All | Editorial | General Tech | Graphics Cards | Networking | Motherboards | Cases and Cooling | Processors | Chipsets | Memory | Displays | Systems | Storage | Mobile | Shows and Expos
Subject: Systems | January 7, 2018 - 08:14 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Vega M, NUC 8 Enthusiast, nuc, mini PC, kaby lake-g, Intel, core i7, CES 2018, CES, amd, 8th generation core
Intel has announced a new imagining of their high-end NUC mini-PC called the NUC 8 Enthusiast. The most significant difference between this and the previous high-end NUCs from Intel is that this one doesn't rely on Intel's integrated graphics as AMD Vega M graphics are onboard, and along with them the promise of some legitimate gaming muscle.
What exactly is under the hood? There are two variants, with the NUC8i7HVK (which offers 100W AMD RX Vega M graphics) and NUC8i7HNK (with 65W AMD Vega M graphics). Here first are the specs for the NUC8i7HVK:
- GPU and GFX: 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8809G 3.1 GHz to 4.2 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8 MB cache, 100W Radeon™ RX Vega M GH graphics, 1063 MHz – 1190 MHz Unlocked and VR-capable
- RAM: Dual channel DDR4-2400+ SODIMMs, 1.2V, 32GB maximum
- Storage: 2x M.2 22x42/80 (key M) slots for SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen3 NVMe or AHCI SSD, RAID-0 and RAID-1 capable
- SDXC slot
- Connectivity: 2x rear Thunderbolt™ 3 (40 Gbps) and USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) and DisplayPort 1.2 via USB-C™ connector Front USB 3.1 Gen2 via USB-C™ and front USB type-A connector Front charging USB 3.0, 4x rear USB 3.0, 2x internal USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 via headers Front Consumer Infrared port
- Video Outputs: Front and rear HDMI 2.0a (4K 60Hz, HDR) connectors DisplayPort 1.3 via 2x rear Mini DisplayPort ports, and 2x rear Thunderbolt™ USB-C™ ports All ports support HDCP 2.2
- Networking: 2x Intel® 10/100/1000 Mbps (i219-LM and i210-AT) Ethernet ports Intel® Wireless-AC 8265 M.2 22x30 card, IEEE 802.11ac 2x2 + Bluetooth v4.2, internal antennas
- Audio: Up to 7.1 multichannel digital audio via HDMI or DisplayPort signals 3.5mm front headset jack, 3.5mm rear speaker / TOSLINK combo jack
- Enclosure: Metal and plastic with replaceable lid, Kensington lock with base security
- Dimensions: 221 x 142 x 39 mm (1.2 L)
- Internal Headers: Common I/O header with Front Panel, CEC, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB2.0 signals
- Power Adapter: 19V DC 230W power supply with replaceable AC cords
- Other Features:
- Replaceable lid with customizable RGB LED illumination and front panel status RGB LEDs
- Quad beam-forming mic array
- VESA mounting plate included
- Three-Year Warranty
That Core i7 8809G processor listed above is also unlocked, allowing for whatever overclocking might be possibile in this small form-factor. The differences with the NUC8i7HNK are strictly in the CPU/GPU area:
- 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8705G 3.1 GHz to 4.1 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8 MB cache, 65W Radeon™ RX Vega M GL graphics, 931 MHz – 1011 MHz
Besides the new Kaby Lake-G chips there is a lot more I/O in this NUC than we saw with the "Skull Canyon" enthusiast model (NUC6i7KYK), and here the taller design (39 mm vs. 28 mm) doesn't hurt.
With the bottom half of the rear panel reserved for cooling there is still room for 2x Thunderbolt 3, 2x mini DisplayPort, a full size HDMI, dual LAN, 4x USB 3.0 ports, and 3.5 mm audio (with optical). Up front there is a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, two more USB 3.0 ports (one charging), another full-size HDMI, SDXC card slot, and a second 3.5 mm audio.
Just how effectively this small device can cope with the demands of a 65W or 100W GPU - and potentially overclocked quad-core CPU - remains to be seen, but the thicker chassis compared to that previous "Skull Canyon" NUC suggests this has been accounted for.
So how much will this enthusiast-class NUC cost you? MSRP for the 65W GPU version is $799, and the 100W GPU version is $999. Availability is set for March 2018.
Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2018 - 01:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: logitech, g910, g810
On Black Friday 2016, I picked up a Logitech G900 mouse and a Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum mechanical keyboard. At the time, I only knew about the G810 Orion Spectrum and the G910 Orion Spark; I only found out about the G910 Orion Spectrum, a hybrid between the two, from that post’s comments the next day.
Yes, that's a tube TV.
Fast forward about thirteen months – I wanted a new keyboard for work, so I decided to bring my G810 into the office and pick up the G910 Orion Spectrum for home. It arrived on Wednesday night, so I’ll give my impression from the first two days. I was a bit nervous about bringing the G810 into the office, because, even though it’s a quiet mechanical keyboard, it’s louder than a membrane switch. No-one complained when asked, though, or even acknowledged that it could be an issue – and I share a cubical with another software developer.
The old G810 is getting a promotion to work keyboard.
On to the G910.
First, the wrist mount feels amazing. It’s exactly the correct size, height, and angle for how I type, both two-hand and right-hand-on-WASD (left hand on mouse). It doesn’t really do much when I have my right hand on the arrow keys, but I’ve moved away from playing games like that. (That is a shame, by the way, because the three pods of keys surrounding the arrows help finding the key you want by feel.) I was a bit worried about the angle of the keyboard itself, because the risers don’t move it as high as the G810, but the wrist rest apparently makes all the difference.
Second, the volume roller is quite bad. I’m assuming I have a defective unit, but the amount I roll it doesn’t actually correspond to how much it moves. It even jumps to near max or near zero for instants or goes in the wrong direction. My G810 started doing that about a half year after I got it, but this one was out of the box. I really liked the user experience of the control itself, but it just doesn’t work correctly. It seems to get better if I roll slowly and push down on the roller as I move it, but even that’s not perfect.
The new home keyboard.
Third, the WASD keys have a slight texture to them. That might be just the nature of the backlight, because you can feel the transparent bits of every key and the WASD keys have a weird design to them, but it still helps locate them by touch. It feels like a few subtle horizontal lines near the top of the key cap. Otherwise, the keycaps feel almost identical to the G810.
That’s about it for my first impressions. This is not an actual review, like I've done back in 2012, this is just how I feel about it after a couple of days with no real testing. Remember, this is the G910 Orion Spectrum, not the G910 Orion Spark.
Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2018 - 01:42 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gdq, pc gaming
If you’re looking for something to occupy the gaps between our CES posts, then how about watching video games being beaten quickly? Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 begins today at 11:30 AM EST with a pre-show discussion that is hosted by SpikeVegeta, Blechy, Protomagicalgirl, and JHobz. They typically go over what they expect will be the most interesting games and timeslots, and why, as well as hype up some of the donation perks and prizes.
The previous Awesome Games Done Quick, from January 2017, broke 2.2 million dollars in donations. Apart from a blip in January 2016, the amount raised has steadily increased each year. It will be interesting to see whether this year will reach a new high, and what peak we’ll eventually settle at, if one will ever exist.
This event, like the previous seven, will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Typically, it’s Prevent Cancer Foundation in January and Doctors Without Borders in July, but they have also done a few special events, like for the natural disasters that struck Japan (2011) and Houston, Texas (2017).
Probably the most interesting chunk for me will be on the last day, Saturday, January 13th. Starting at about 4pm, they will have Final Fantasy 4, Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario World back-to-back-to-back. Of the three, A Link to the Past is particularly special, because they will be using an item randomizer mod. The runners will not know which chest contains which item ahead of time, just that it is possible to complete the game with the order provided, and each runner will have the same randomized locations. This means that runners will need some luck, because they could take a shortcut hoping that they will stumble across a required item on the way there. If not? They then need to go hunting for it, wasting time.
It was quite something the last time I saw it. And yes, there are many PC games, too.
Subject: Mobile | January 6, 2018 - 06:21 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xmm, ultrabook, thinnest, swift 7, LTE, Intel, CES 2018, acer
Acer took the opportunity today to announce several new notebook designs ahead of CES 2018. One of the more interesting and unexpected items is the newly redesigned Acer Swift 7 notebook.
Touted as the "World's Thinnest Laptop" by Acer, the Swift 7 comes in an impressive 8.98mm (0.35-in) thick. To put that figure into some context, consider that the Core M-based 12" MacBook which was praised for its thin form factor comes in at 13.2mm (0.52-in) at it's thickest point.
Currently, the information we have about the hardware of the Swift 7 is a bit sparse. While Acer states it will feature a 7th Generation Core processor, we don't yet know if this is referring to a 3.5W processor like the i7-7Y75, or a higher power 15W processor such as the i7-7500U. While I am desperately hoping that Acer has managed to integrate a 15W processor into this design, it seems likely to be using a Y-series part.
In addition to the i7 processor, the Swift 7 will be equipped with 256 GB of PCIe storage, as well as 8GB of LPDDR3 memory.
Even with its super-thin form-factor, the Acer Swift 7 manages to pack another surprise, the addition of built-in LTE connectivity. Unlike other connected Windows devices we have seen recently, the Swift 7 is opting for an Intel XMM Modem solution instead of Qualcomm's offerings. The Swift 7 will feature a built-in eSIM for a fast and easy subscription process to your carrier of choice.
In addition, Acer is also partnering with a company called Transatel to provide one month's worth of free trial LTE access (up to 1GB of data) for owners of the Swift 7. Transatel partners with carriers all over the world with their international data SIM service, meaning this connectivity will be available in 48 countries.
As you might expect, the "World's Thinnest Laptop" doesn't come cheap, starting at $1699 for the base configuration with availability set to begin in March.
Additionally, Acer also updated us on their previously announced Switch 7 Black Edition 2-in-1 device.
First discussed at the IFA trade show last year, the Switch 7 Black Edition is billed as the most powerful fanless 2-in-1 device. Not only will it feature a quad-core 8th Generation Intel processor, but Acer also is packing in an NVIDIA GeForce MX 150 discrete GPU cooled by their Dual LiquidLoop heat pipe design.
The Switch 7 Black Edition will be shipping later this month, with the earlier announced base price of $1699
Subject: Storage | January 5, 2018 - 08:45 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: RS4, RS3, patch, meltdown, KB4056892, cpu, 960 EVO, 900P, 850 EVO
While the Meltdown announcements and patches were in full swing, I was busily testing a round of storage devices to evaluate the potential negative impact of the Meltdown patch. Much of the testing we've seen has come in the form of Linux benchmarks, and today we saw a few come out on the Windows side of things. Most of the published data to date shows a ~20% performance hit to small random accesses, but I've noted that the majority of reviewers seem to be focusing on the Samsung 950/960 series SSDs. Sure these are popular devices, but when evaluating changes to a storage subsystem, it's unwise to just stick with a single type of product.
Test conditions were as follows:
- ASUS Prime Z270-A + 7700K
- C-States disabled, no overclock.
- ASUS MCE disabled, all other clock settings = AUTO.
- Intel Optane 900P 480GB (Intel NVMe driver)
- Samsung 960 EVO 500GB (Samsung NVMe driver)
- Samsung 850 EVO 500GB (Intel RST driver)
- NTFS partition.
- 16GB test file. Sequential conditioning.
- Remainder of SSD sequentially filled to capacity.
The first results come from a clean Windows Redstone 3 install compared to a clean Windows 10 Redstone 4 (build 17063), which is a fast ring build including the Meltdown patch:
The 960 EVO comes in at that same 20% drop seen elsewhere, but check out the 850 EVO's nearly 10% *increase* in performance. The 900P pushes this further, showing an over 15% *increase*. You would figure that a patch that adds latency to API calls would have a noticeable impact on a storage device offering extremely low latencies, but that did not end up being the case in practice.
Since the 960 EVO looked like an outlier here, I also re-tested it using the Microsoft Inbox NVMe driver, as well as by connecting it via the chipset (which uses the Intel RST driver). A similar drop in performance was seen in all configurations.
The second set of results was obtained later, taking our clean RS3 install and updating it to current, which at the time included the Microsoft roll-up 01-2018 package (KB4056892):
Note that the results are similar, though Optane did not see as much of a boost here. It is likely that some specific optimizations have been included in RS4 that are more beneficial to lower latency storage devices.
As a final data point, here's what our tests look like with software polling implemented:
The above test results are using an application method that effectively bypasses the typical interrupt requests associated with file transfers. Note that the differences are significantly reduced once IRQs are removed from the picture. Also note that kernel API calls are still taking place here.
Well there you have it. Some gain and some lose. Given that a far lower latency device (900P) sees zero performance hit (actually gaining speed), I suspect that whatever penalty associated with Meltdown could be easily optimized out via updates to the Windows Inbox and Samsung NVMe drivers.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 5, 2018 - 06:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Threadripper, watercooler, roundup
[H]ard|OCP have published a tidal wave of articles focusing on watercooling Threadripper and have just revisited five of them in video form. This is to ensure that they are all tested under the same conditions to provide a valid head to head comparison. The XSPC RayStorm, Phanteks Glacier C399A, Koolance 400A, Swiftech Apogee SKF and EK Supremacy EVO coolers all do a good job at 4GHz but in the end it is the Raystorm which proves the winner. Check it out right here.
"We go back and re-test all of our Socket TR4 AMD Threadripper CPU under the same conditions so we can compare all of those directly in one review article. We cover the EK Supremacy EVO, the Koolance 400A-S, the Phanteks 399A, the Swiftech Apogee SKF-TR4, and the XSPC RayStorm NEO."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- ARCTIC Liquid Freezer 240 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Lian Li PC-T70 Open and Closed Air Test Bench @ Guru 3D
- GamerStorm Baronkase Liquid by DeepCool @ Modders-Inc
- Fractal Design Define R6 Mid-Tower @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: Motherboards | January 5, 2018 - 03:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, mini-itx, msi, ryzen, B350I PRO AC, AM4
While it is not as impressive as it would be if this were a mini-ITX Threadripper board, building a motherboard that is over 50% socket may be asking a bit too much. Instead the B350I PRO AC is designed for Socket AM4 Ryzen chips.
The board is designed with 9-phase PWM design (6+2+1), which will ensure great stability along with an electrically isolated Realtek ALC887 codec and Steel Armour protecting that lone PCIe 16x slot. Memory of up to 32GB of DDR4-3200+ is supported, important to get the most out of your Ryzen processor. There are two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the back as well as HDMI out, so you could use this as an unobtrusive VR box with the right GPU installed; WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity will also come in hand for that.
Check out the full specifications here, while we await availability.
Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2018 - 03:53 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: VR, vive focus, vive, valve, steam vr, Oculus, knuckles, htc, CES 2018
In the run-up to CES 2018, the HTC Vive account on twitter tweeted an image teasing their press conference on Monday, January 8.
— HTC VIVE (@htcvive) January 5, 2018
While we've already heard about the standalone Snapdragon 835-powered HTC VIVE Focus set to start shipping in China later this month, it seems unlikely for this teaser to be referring to that device which HTC has already shown off to the public and press.
Rather, it seems more likely that HTC is ready to start to talk about their next generation VIVE device for PC.
Both the graphic and tagline of "New Year's Resolution" obviously seem to be alluding to improved visual quality, and hopefully less of a screen door effect when wearing the headset. Whether or not this is achieved by a higher resolution display, or improved optics, or both has yet to be determined.
Another thing to look out for at this event will be the long-awaited "Knuckles" controllers showed off by Valve earlier this year. With a new generation of VR headset, I would expect the Knuckles controllers to be the bundled option going forward.
We'll be at HTC's VIVE press conference on the 8th, and have some time scheduled late in the week for demos of whatever they are showing off, so stay tuned for more details about their announcements as they happen!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 5, 2018 - 02:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: meltdown, spectre, geforce, quadro, NVS, nvidia, tesla, security
If you were wondering if NVIDIA products are vulnerable to some of the latest security threats, the answer is yes. Your Shield device or GPU is not vulnerable to CVE-2017-5754, aka Meltdown, however the two variants of Spectre could theoretically be used to infect you.
Variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753): Mitigations are provided with the security update included in this bulletin. NVIDIA expects to work together with its ecosystem partners on future updates to further strengthen mitigations.
Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715): Mitigations are provided with the security update included in this bulletin. NVIDIA expects to work together with its ecosystem partners on future updates to further strengthen mitigations.
Variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754): At this time, NVIDIA has no reason to believe that Shield TV/tablet is vulnerable to this variant.
The Android based Shield tablet should be updated to Shield Experience 5.4, which should arrive before the end of the month. Your Shield TV, should you actually still have a working on will receive Shield Experience 6.3 along the same time frame.
The GPU is a little more complex as there are several product lines and OSes which need to be dealt with. There should be a new GeForce driver appearing early next week for gaming GPUs, with HPC cards receiving updates on the dates you can see below.
There is no reason to expect Radeon and Vega GPUs to suffer from these issues at this time. Intel could learn a bit from NVIDIA's response, which has been very quick and includes ther older hardware.
Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2018 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, spectre, meltdown, antivirus, security, KB4056892
Microsoft are now pushing out an update to mitigate some of the security issues that Meltdown takes advantage of, but there is a small problem. KB4056892 may cause your machine to BSoD depending on the anti-virus software you use so it is not recommended you install the update manually. Windows Update looks for a registry entry on your machine, which indicates your AV software has updated and is compatible with the patch, so far Symantec, F-Secure, Avast, and Windows Defender have all updated. If you are curious, The Register has posted the key in this story so you can check for yourself if you are ready to update and make the change if not.
It is something you should be doing soon, as this is a serious vulnerability which is only somewhat mitigated by the patch but at least this attack will not be successful.
"Microsoft has released updates for Windows to block attempts by hackers and malware to exploit the Meltdown vulnerability in Intel x86-64 processors – but you will want to check your antivirus software before applying the fixes."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- When F00F Bug Hit 20 Years Ago, Intel Reacted the Same Way @ Slashdot
- Quick Facts about Meltdown and Spectre @ [H]ard|OCP
- Samsung topples Intel as semiconductor top dog, but lead 'literally built on sand' @ The Register
- Scaling Raven Ridge with David Kanter: The TR Podcast 191
- Intel facing multiple class-action lawsuits over Meltdown' and 'Spectre' chip flaws @ The Inquirer
- Wine Takes Minor Performance Hit Running Windows Programs On Linux With KPTI @ Phoronix
- HP recalls even more laptop batteries because, you know, fire @ The Inquirer
Subject: Editorial | January 5, 2018 - 09:00 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag, pcper
It's time for the PCPer Mailbag, our weekly show where Ryan and the team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest GPUs, the process of running a tech review website, and more!
On today's show, we look forward to CES and all of the tech to come in 2018:
01:09 - Upgrading CPU for better gaming performance?
02:51 - GPUs with GDDR6 or HBM2 this year?
04:50 - Best time to buy a new GPU?
07:25 - NVIDIA better than AMD with OpenGL?
09:54 - Questions that haven't been asked on the Mailbag so far?
11:08 - PCPer's review process?
14:35 - PCPer office tour?
15:31 - Stagnant tech products?
18:44 - Finding PCPer at CES?
20:27 - Dell OLED monitors at CES?
20:49 - +1 for the Mailbag background!
Want to have your question answered on a future Mailbag? Leave a comment on this post or in the YouTube comments for the latest video. Check out new Mailbag videos each Friday!
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!
Subject: Processors | January 4, 2018 - 01:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, spectre, meltdown, Intel
As the Linux patch for the Intel kernel issue is somewhat more mature than the Windows patch which was just pushed out, and because the patch may have more impact on hosting solutions than gaming machines, we turn to Phoronix for test results. Their testing overview looks at both Intel and AMD, as the PTI patch can be installed on AMD systems and it is not a bad idea to do so. The results are somewhat encouraging, CPUs with PCID (Process Context ID) such as Sandy Bridge and newer seem to see little effect from the patch, network performance seems unchanged and Xeon's see far less of an effect across the board than desktop machines. That is not to say there is no impact whatsoever, in synthetic benchmarks which make frequent system calls or depend on optimized access to the kernel they did see slowdowns; thankfully those workloads are not common for enthusiast software. Expect a lot more results from both Windows and Linux over the coming weeks.
"2018 has been off to a busy start with all the testing around the Linux x86 PTI (Page Table Isolation) patches for this "Intel CPU bug" that potentially dates back to the Pentium days but has yet to be fully disclosed. Here is the latest."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Testing Windows 10 Performance Before and After the Meltdown Flaw Emergency Patch @ TechSpot
- 2nd-Gen Core i7 vs. 8th-Gen Core i7: RIP Sandy Bridge @ Techspot
- Intel Core i7 8700k @ Modders-Inc
- Ryzen Mobile Finally Arrives: AMD Ryzen 5 2500U @ Techspot
- Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- The Best CPUs: This is what you should get @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2018 - 12:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VisualDiscovery, superfish, Lenovo, ftc
Those fancy new Lenovo models announced today, the ThinkPad T, X, and L-series, will not come with insecure adware installed on them, at least not in the USA. The FTC managed to rouse itself enough to deliver a light caress to the wrist of the PC maker, with a fine of $3.5m being imposed in the ruling today. On a possibly more positive note, Lenovo will also be required to hire an external security auditor to vet any bloatware they intend to place on their machines, though the verbiage of the ruling posted by The Register does not make it clear that they would have any ability to stop Lenovo from installing software that didn't pass their audit.
The other part of the ruling which customers should take very close notice of is that Lenovo "will obtain the consumer’s affirmative express consent" before installing random software. Make sure to carefully read those pop ups when you first fire up a ThinkPad and think twice before clicking OK.
"The US government's trade watchdog, the FTC, has finalized its settlement deal with Lenovo on charges the PC builder sold Americans machines crammed with intrusive adware."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Yes, Your Amazon Echo Is an Ad Machine @ Slashdot
- IBM lobs sueball at travel site Expedia for using some old Prodigy patents @ The Register
- Intel Says CEO Dumping Tons of Stock Last Year 'Unrelated' To Big Security Exploit @ Slashdot
- TSMC to outpace Samsung in 7nm volume production in 2018 @ DigiTimes
- devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac Powerline Networking @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2018 - 11:28 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: Z370, Vega, spectre, msi, meltdown, Koolance, Kaby Lake G, google wifi, cord cutting, apple, Android, 400A-S, podcast
PC Perspective Podcast #482 - 1/04/18
Join us for discussion on Spectre, Meltdown, Cord Cutting, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jermey Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:01:54
0:02:15 PCPer Mailbag #24 - 12/29/2017
Week in Review:
0:03:27 Just Picked Up: Google Wifi x4
News items of interest:
0:48:00 The top 20 games of 2017?
Picks of the Week:
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 4, 2018 - 10:15 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: external graphics, external gpu, CES 2017, CES, ASUS ROG, asus
ASUS today announced the XG Station Pro, a Thunderbolt 3-based external GPU enclosure tailored for both gamers and professionals. The XG Station Pro can accommodate full-size GPUs up to 2.5 slots wide, including large cards such as the ROG Strix 1080 Ti and Radeon RX Vega 64.
Featuring a "contemporary design with clean lines and subtle styling," the XG Station Pro has a footprint of 4.3-inches x 14.8-inches, thanks to ASUS's decision to use an external power supply. In order to provide enough juice for high-end graphics cards, ASUS is borrowing the power supply design from its GX800 gaming laptop, which puts out up to 330 watts.
The XG Station Pro's chassis, designed by case maker In Win, has a smooth dark gray finish with a black PCB and sleeved PCIe power cables. It features a soft white internal glow that can be controlled by ASUS's Aura software, including Aura Sync to synchronize lighting with your compatible ASUS and ROG graphics cards and laptops.
Inside the XG Station Pro, dual 120mm PWM fans provide exhaust out of the right side of the chassis. The fans automatically ramp down and even shut off below certain temperatures, but users can also manually control the fans with the ASUS GPU Tweak II application.
Around back, users will find an extra USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, which can supply up to 15 watts of power to compatible devices such as smartphones and external storage. Finally, ASUS notes that it includes the require Thunderbolt 3 cable in the box, something that many Thunderbolt-based devices seem to lack.
The ASUS XG Station Pro will launch later this month for $329 with support for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in Windows 10, and just AMD Vega-based GPUs in macOS Sierra and newer.
Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2018 - 12:01 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: XPS 13, laptop, dell xps 13, dell, CES 2017, CES, 8th generation core
Dell today announced a big update to its popular XPS 13 laptop. The new model features several design improvements, a bump to 8th Generation Intel processors, and longer battery life.
The XPS 13, which Dell is calling “the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop,” sheds some size compared to its predecessor. The new model weighs in at 2.67 pounds with a tapered thickness ranging from 7.8 to 11.6mm, a 24 percent reduction in overall volume compared to last year’s model. Its 13-inch display is available in 1080p and 4K options and features automatic calibration for improved video playback, something Dell is calling “CinemaColor.”
In addition to its slightly slimmer profile, the new XPS 13 moves the webcam to from the bottom-left of the display to the bottom-center. While still not the ideal angle for webcam chats, this move at least eliminates the awkward off-angle view provided by the previous webcam placement. The webcam is also compatible with Windows Hello, allowing for more convenient log-ins.
The new XPS 13 also sees some aesthetic changes. The familiar silver and black model is still available, but Dell has also introduced a new color combination featuring a “rose gold” exterior with “alpine white” interior and a woven glass fiber palm rest that is supposedly resistant to palm-related stains. Dell says that the new palm rest material “looks and feels like silk” while denoting a “sense of elegance.” Fancy.
Inside, buyers will have the choice of either the Intel Core i5-8250U or the Core i7-8550U. Both are 4-core/8-thread parts with max turbo frequencies of 3.4GHz and 4.0GHz, respectively. The XPS 13 can be configured with up to 16GB of DDR4 2133MHz memory while graphics are provided by the Intel UHD 620. Storage options include PCIe and SATA SSDs up to 1TB.
In terms of connectivity, the XPS 13 is packing two Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging, data, and video output, one USB-C 3.1 port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone port.
Dell is also highlighting the XPS 13’s battery life, claiming that it beats all other 13-inch competitors. Dell claims that the i7 model with 4K display can reach 11 hours and 12 minutes on a single charge, while the i5 1080p version lasts an impressive 19 hours 46 minutes.
For Linux fans, Dell is once again offering a “Developer Edition” of the XPS 13, which comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and all compatible drivers.
The new Dell XPS 13 starts at $999.99 and is available to order today — January 4th — direct from Dell’s US and EU websites. The Developer Edition is also available today starting at $949.99.
Subject: Displays | January 4, 2018 - 12:01 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: thinkvision, monitors, Lenovo, displays, CES 2017, CES, 4k monitor
Lenovo today announced the addition of two new displays to the company’s ThinkVision series.
The ThinkVision X24 is a 23.8-inch IPS display with thin 1.1mm bezels, 1920x1080 resolution, 300 cd/m2 brightness, and 96 percent sRGB color gamut. Connectivity options include HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2.
The ThinkVision P32u is a 32-inch IPS display with a 3840x2160 resolution 300 cd/m2 brightness, and 99.5 percent Adobe RGB color gamut. It includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, one full-size DisplayPort 1.2, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports for passthrough capability.
Both monitor stands support height adjustment, tilt, and swivel. The ThinkVision X24 is priced at $249 and will be available this month. The ThinkVision P32u is priced at $1349 and launches in March.
Lenovo Updates ThinkPad X, T, and L Series Laptops with 8th Gen Intel Processors, Improved I/O, and Thinner Designs
Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2018 - 12:01 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: Thinkpad, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, laptops, laptop, CES 2018, CES
Lenovo today announced 2018 updates to several models of the company’s ThinkPad lineup. The ThinkPad T, X, and L-series models all see a jump to 8th Generation Intel Core processors, improved cameras for use with Windows Hello, a built-in “ThinkShutter” webcam cover for increased security and privacy, USB Type-C for both power and data, and support for Lenovo’s ThinkPad Docking Station.
ThinkPad X Series
Lenovo’s X-Series line of laptops are consumer-focused high-end ultraportable systems that the company describes as “Ultraportable Productivity Tools.” Note that the updates described here are for the X280 model only, not the popular X1 Carbon line.
Key features of the 2018 update:
- Mil-Spec tested for durability in inhospitable locations
- Rapid charging support (80 percent charge in 60 minutes)
- Long battery life (13 hours for the X280 and 13.6 hours for the X380 Yoga)
- Thinner and lighter design (X280 is 20 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner than its predecessor)
The ThinkPad X280 starts at $999 while the ThinkPad X380 Yoga starts at $1459. Both will be available starting this month.
ThinkPad T Series
The Lenovo T-Series is the company’s mid-range business line, with a blend of performance, efficiency, and value.
Key features of the 2018 update:
- Security features including IR camera, fingerprint reader, and the ThinkShutter camera cover
- Optional discrete graphics card
- Up to 27 hours of battery life for models configured with extended battery options
The ThinkPad T480 starts at $989, the T480s at $1269, and the T580 at $1079. All three models will be available starting this month.
ThinkPad L Series
The L-Series is Lenovo’s value-focused business line, with models available in both traditional and 2-in-1 “Yoga” form factors.
Key features of the 2018 update:
- Thinner and lighter with size options available in 15-, 14-, and an all new 13-inch form factor
- Optional multi-touch displays
- Discrete graphics options on the L480 and L580 models
The ThinkPad L380 starts at $609, the L380 Yoga at $1049, the L480 at $779, and the L580 at $769. All four models are available starting this month.
ThinkPad Docking Station
Finally, Lenovo also announced a new docking station that is compatible with the ThinkPad X280, T480, T480s, T580, L480, and L580 laptops. The ThinkPad Ultra Docking Station features a one-touch slide-to-connect docking process and provides additional security via a key-based locking mechanism.
While Lenovo touts “complete connectivity options,” we unfortunately don’t yet have a list of exactly which types of I/O it offers. We’ll update this entry when that information becomes available.
The ThinkPad Docking Station will be available in three different models: Basic (90W) for $199, Pro (135W) for $249, and Ultra (135W) for $299. All three will be launching later this month.
Subject: Processors | January 3, 2018 - 08:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, amd, arm, meltdown, spectre, security
The following story was originally posted on ShroutResearch.com.
UPDATE 1 - 8:25pm
Just before the closing bell on Wednesday, Intel released a statement responding to the security issues brought up in this story. While acknowledging that these new security concerns do exist, the company went out of its way to insinuate that AMD, Arm Holdings, and others were at risk. Intel also states that performance impact on patched machines “should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”
Intel’s statement is at least mostly accurate though the released report from the Google Project Zero group responsible for finding the security vulnerability goes into much more detail. The security issue concerns a feature called “speculative execution” in which a computer tries to predict work that will be needed beforehand to speed up processing tasks. The paper details three variants of this particular vulnerability, the first of which applies to Intel, AMD, Arm, any nearly every other modern processor architecture. This variant is easily patched and should have near-zero effect on performance.
The second variant is deeply architecture specific, meaning attackers would need a unique code for each different Intel or AMD processor. This example should be exceedingly rare in the wild, and AMD goes as far as to call it a “near-zero” risk for systems.
The third is where things are more complex and where the claim that AMD processors are not susceptible is confirmed. This one is the source of the leaks and information that filtered out and was the target of the information for the story below. In its statement, AMD makes clear that due to architectural design differences on its products, past and modern processors from its family are not at risk.
The final outlook from this story looks very similar to how it did early on Wednesday though with a couple of added wrinkles. The security report released by Project Zero indicates that most modern hardware is at risk though to different degrees based on the design of the chips themselves. Intel is not alone in this instance, but it does have additional vulnerabilities that other processor designs do not incur. To insinuate otherwise in its public statement is incorrect.
As for performance impact, most of the initial testing and speculation is likely exaggerating how it will change the landscape, if at all. Neither Intel nor AMD see a “doomsday” scenario of regressing computing performance because of this security patch.
At the end of 2017, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said his company would be going through changes in the New Year, becoming more aggressive, and taking the fight to its competitors in new and existing markets. It seems that BK will have his first opportunity to prove out this new corporate strategy with a looming security issue that affects nearly 10 years of processors.
A recently revealed hardware bug in Intel processors is coming to light as operating system vendors like Microsoft and the Linux community scramble to update platforms to avoid potential security concerns. This bug has been rumored for some time, with updates to core Linux software packages indicating that a severe vulnerability was being fixed, but with comments redacted when published. Security flaws are often kept secret to avoid being exploited by attackers until software patches are available to correct them.
This hardware-level vulnerability allows user-mode applications, those run by general consumers or businesses, to potentially gain access to kernel-level memory space, an area that is handled by the operating system exclusively and can contain sensitive information like passwords, biometrics, and more. An attacker could use this flaw to potentially access other user-mode application data, compromising entire systems with bypass around integrated operating system firewalls.
At a time when Intel is being pressured from many different angles and markets, this vulnerability and hardware bug comes at an incredibly inopportune time. AMD spent its 2017 releasing competitive products in the consumer space with Ryzen and the enterprise space with EPYC. The enterprise markets in particular are at risk for Intel. The EPYC processors already offered performance and pricing advantages and now AMD can showcase security as none of its processor are affected by the same vulnerability that Intel is saddled with. Though the enterprise space works in cycles, and AMD won’t see an immediate uptick in sales, I would be surprised if this did not push more cloud providers and large scale server deployments to look at the AMD offerings.
At this point, only the Linux community has publicly discussed the fixes taking place, with initial patches going out earlier this week. Much of the enterprise and cloud ecosystem runs on Linux-based platforms and securing these systems against attack is a crucial step. Microsoft has yet to comment publicly on what its software updates will look like, when they will be delivered, and what impact they have might on consumer systems.
While hardware and software vulnerabilities are common in today’s connected world, there are two key points that make this situation more significant. First, this is a hardware bug, meaning that it cannot be fixed or addressed completely without Intel making changes to its hardware design, a process that can take months or years to complete. As far as we can tell, this bug will affect ALL Intel processors released in the last decade or more, including enterprise Xeon processors and consumer Core and Pentium offerings. And as Intel has been the dominate market leader in both the enterprise and consumer spaces, there are potentially hundreds of millions of affected systems in the field.
The second differentiating point for this issue is that the software fix could impact the performance of systems. Initial numbers have been claiming as much as a 30% reduction in performance, but those results are likely worst case scenarios. Some early testing of the updated Linux platforms indicate performance could decrease from 6-20% depending on the application. Other testing of consumer workloads including gaming show almost no performance impact. Linux founder and active developer Linus Torvalds claims performance impact would range from nothing to “double-digit slowdowns.”
Even though the true nature of this vulnerability is still tied behind non-disclosure agreements, it is unlikely that there will be a double-digit performance reduction on servers at a mass scale when these updates are pushed out. Intel is aware of this vulnerability and has been for some time, and financially it would need to plan for any kind of product replacement or reimbursement campaign it might undertake with partners and customers.
Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2018 - 02:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Ars Technica have assembled an eclectic list of games that they consider the best from last year. Their picks include a variety of platforms, from the Switch to PC, with games ranging the full gamut. VR games are not well represented, interesting considering the number of new games which were released this year or ported, in the case of Skyrim and others. This could be due to the high price to be able to play, or it could represent the somewhat lacklustre uptake of VR gaming. Take a read through the list and then post the games that they completely ignored, that deserve top billing.
"While single-player adventures dominated our rankings this year, the full list encompasses everything from traditional shooters and throwback platformers to indie puzzles and narratives, plus a few VR experiences for good measure."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Max & Maya: Cat Simulator might not be the most authentic thing ever @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- 15-game ‘Premium’ VR Review – Pascal vs. Vega @ BabelTechReviews
- Life is Strange: Before the Storm review: The path to tragedy @ Ars Technica
- The Most Disappointing PC Games of 2017 @ Techspot
- Humble Staff Picks Bundle
- Scanner Sombre Review @ OCC
- PUBG Graphics Performance Revisited: 44 GPUs Tested @ Techspot