Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Acer

Acer Predator Z271T With Tobii Eye Tracking

It seems like it's never been a better time to be a PC gamer. With new technologies like VR, AR, HDR, adaptive sync, and high refresh rates being introduced or improved upon at a rapid pace, there's always something new and exciting right around the corner.

Today, we're taking a look at one new technology that promises to bridge the gap between traditional monitors and full-blown VR or AR setups: eye tracking. Originally developed for its use as an assistive device for users with disabilities, eye tracking is making a big jump to gaming, as it can both provide an additional method of control input as well as alter the way the user experiences the game.

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We first took a look at Tobii a few years ago with an early standalone eye tracking device. Now Tobii eye tracking is starting to make its way directly into monitors, and we spent some time with one such monitor: the Acer Predator Z271T.

Specs & Box Contents

The Acer Predator Z271T -- which I'll refer to as "Z27" going forward -- is a $700 27-inch monitor with a curved VA panel, 1920x1080 native resolution, and 144Hz refresh rate. The complete technical specifications:

  Acer Predator Z271T
Screen Size 27-inch
Curve Ratio 1800R
Response Time 4ms
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Backlight Technology LED
Panel Technology Vertical Alignment (VA)
Tilt Angle -5 to +25 degrees
Viewing Angle 178 degrees horizontal/vertical
Maximum Adjustable Height 4.72 inches
Video
Maximum Resolution 1920x1080
Standard Refresh Rate 144 Hz
Color Supported 16.7 Million
Contrast Ratio 3,000:1
Brightness 300 nits
Tearing Prevention Technology G-SYNC
Audio
Speakers 2 x 7W
Interfaces/Ports
DisplayPort Yes
HDMI Yes
3.5mm Audio Output Yes
USB 3.0 Yes (4-port hub)
Power Description
Operating Power Consumption 27 watts
Standby Power Consumption 500 mW
Off-Mode Power Consumption 400 mW
Physical Characteristics (with stand)
VESA Mount Compatible Yes (100mm x 100mm)
Height 20.4 inches
Width 24.4 inches
Depth 10.6 inches
Weight 16.76 pounds
Miscellaneous
Package Contents 1 x DisplayPort cable
1 x HDMI cable
1 x USB 3.0 Cable
Power cord

In terms of physical characteristics, the Z27 weighs in at 16.76lbs and is 20.4-inches high, 24.4-inches wide, and 10.6-inches deep when attached to its included stand. From the stand, the Z27 can tilt from -5 degrees to 25 degrees, and swivel up to 30 degrees side-to-side.

Continue reading to check out our impressions of both the current state of Tobii eye tracking tech, as well as how it works when implemented into a modern gaming display.

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Specifications

Corsair has released a premium version of their VOID headset with the VOID PRO family, which includes wired and wireless option boasting major improvements to the previous designs.

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“We made it better. Building upon the success of CORSAIR’s VOID series of headsets, VOID PRO features various significant enhancements across comfort, sound, mic quality and wireless performance designed to provide an even better gaming experience. VOID PRO resets the bar and delivers best-in-class performance.“

Surely, every major segment of the PC accessory market has reached saturation at this point, with the gaming headset market one of the most crowded. Companies need to offer more than just style and value to differentiate at the high end, with sound quality - including the microphone - now beginning to get some much-needed attention.

At times, aggressive styling and an apparent obsession with low bass seemed to dominate design choices, but a more balanced and accurate sound provides the kind of fidelity that can transform gaming and entertainment into a truly immersive experience. So, can Corsair match the improvements of such competitors as Logitech and provide a more premium sonic experience? We will find out!

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair VOID PRO RGB Wireless SE gaming headset!

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Design

The ECS LIVA Z Plus is a mini-PC with far more capable processors than the non-Plus variants of the current LIVA family, and we have for review a version with the top-end Intel Core i5-7300U CPU option, along with a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. These specs position the LIVA Z Plus against similarly-powered Intel NUC mini-PCs, and the LIVA has the advantage of being ready to go out of the box (just add an OS).

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We recently took a look at the entry-level ECS LIVA mini-PC, which is a fanless device equipped with a low-power Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3350 in its base configuration (as reviewed). The performance was merely 'okay' for most desktop computing, and that entry-level LIVA Z was more of a need-specific choice, useful for some applications such as a DIY router as it includes dual NICs in addition to the wireless networking on board. But I kept wishing I had more CPU power the entire time I was testing out the base LIVA Z, and the Plus version seemed like the perfect solution. There is just one catch: it isn't fanless. (Gasp!) Was this an issue? Was it even audible? How were thermals with a 15W Intel Core i5 processor inside such a small enclosure, even it is was being actively cooled? Read on to find out!

First, a look at the specs from ECS:


Specifications:

  • Platform:
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7300U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i3-7100U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Celeron 3965U SOC
  • Memory:
    • DDR4 Up to 32GB
    • 2x SO-DIMM Memory Slots
  • Storage Support: 1x M.2 2242 SSD (SATA / PCIE)
  • Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
  • LAN: 2x Gigabit LAN (1x Intel LAN)
  • USB:
    • 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports
    • 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port
  • Video Output:
    • 1x HDMI Port (HDMI 1.4)
    • 1x mDP Port
  • Wireless: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0
  • PCB Size: 115 x 111 mm
  • Dimension: 117 x 128 x 33 mm
  • VESA Support: 75 mm / 100 mm (bracket included)
  • Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
  • OS Support: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Windows 10
  • Accessories:
    • 1x Power adapter
    • 1x VESA Bracket
    • 6x VESA Mount Screws
    • Quick Guide & Driver DVD

  • ECS LIVA Z Plus: $489 MSRP

Package contents are identical to that of the non-Plus LIVA, as we are presented with the LIVA Z Plus, power adapter, and VESA mount.

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The LIVA Z Plus is externally identical to the LIVA Z, with the same complement of three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and 3.5 mm audio jack on the front, and dual NICs, HDMI 1.4, and mini DisplayPort on the back.

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The side panels are also identical to the passively-cooled LIVA Z, with vented sides that in this case allow for intake and exhaust for the small internal fan.

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If you think this LIVA Z Plus looks like the standard LIVA Z, you're right. Externally, the two are identical:

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Next we'll take a look inside and then see how it performed with a few benchmarks.

Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z Plus!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

A surprise twist from Intel

Any expectations I had of a slower and less turbulent late summer and fall for the technology and hardware segments is getting shattered today with the beginning stages of Intel’s 8th Generation Core Processors. If you happen to think that this 8th generation is coming hot on the heels of the 7th generation that only just released to the consumer desktop market in January of this year, you’d be on the same page as me. If you are curious how Intel plans to balance Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Cannon Lake, all releasing in similar time frames and still use terms like “generation,” then again, we are on the same page.

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Today Intel launches the 15-watt version of its 8th Generation Core Processors, based on a refresh of the Kaby Lake CPU design. This not a new architecture nor is this is not a new process node, though Intel does talk about slight changes in design and manufacturing that make it possible. The U-series processors that make up the majority of the thin and light and 2-in-1 designs for consumers and businesses are getting a significant upgrade in performance with this release. The Core i7 and Core i5 processors being announced will all be quad-core, HyperThreaded designs, moving us away from the world of dual-core processors in the 7th generation. Doubling core and thread count, while remaining inside the 15-watt thermal envelope for designs, is an incredible move and will strengthen Intel’s claim to this very important and very profitable segment.

Let’s look at the specifications table first. After all, we’re all geeks here.

  Core i7-8650U Core i7-8550U Core i5-8350U Core i5-8250U Core i7-7600U Core i7-7500U
Architecture Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Socket BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 2/4 2/4
Base Clock 1.9 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.7 GHz 1.6 GHz 2.8 GHz 2.7 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.5 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3
Memory Speeds 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2133/1866 2133/1866
Cache (L4 Cache) 8MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 4MB 4MB
System Bus DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s
Graphics UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 HD Graphics 620 HD Graphics 620
Max Graphics Clock 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.05 GHz
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 15W 15W
MSRP $409 $409 $297 $297 $393 $393

The only differences between the Core i7 and Core i5 designs will be in cache size (Core i5 has 6MB, Core i7 has 8MB) and the clock speeds of the processors. All of them feature four true Kaby Lake cores with HyperThreading enabled to support 8 simultaneous threads in a notebook. Dual channel memory capable of speeds of 2400 MHz in DDR4 and 2133 MHz in LPDDR3 remain. The integrated graphics portion offers the same performance as the 7th generation designs, though the branding has moved from Intel HD Graphics to Intel UHD Graphics. Because Ultra.

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But take a gander at the clock speeds. The base clock on the four new CPUs range from 1.6 GHz to 1.9 GHz, with 100 MHz steps as you go up the SKU ladder. Those are low frequencies for modern processors, no doubt, but Intel has always been very conservative when it comes to setting specs for base frequency. This is the speed that Intel guarantees the processors will run at when the CPU is fully loaded using a 15-watt TDP cooling design. Keeping in mind that we moved from dual-core to quad-core processors, it makes sense that these base frequencies would drop. Intel doesn’t expect users in thin and light machines to utilize all 8 threads for very long, or very often, and instead focuses on shorter use cases for multi-threaded workloads (photo manipulation) that might run at 3.x GHz. If this period of time is short enough, the cooling solution will be able to “catch up” and keep the core within a reasonable range.

Continue reading about the new 8th Generation Intel Core Processors!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction:

Back in January of 2016, Samsung launched the Portable SSD T1. This was a good way to get more of their VNAND flash out into the market in the form of a speedy and portable USB connected SSD. The launch went so well that they followed it up with the T3 in early 2016. While the T1 maxed out at 1TB of capacity, the T2 pushed that to 2TB, which remains the market sweet spot for max portable capacity today. As increased flash densities come out, it became time for Samsung to refresh the lineup:

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Meet the Samsung Portable SSD T5. This new version is ever so slightly smaller than the T3, while packing a 256Gbit die version of Samsung's 64-layer VNAND, along with a newer USB controller that should help get closer to the internal SATA 6Gbit speed of the device.

Specs:

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Most specs are nearly identical to the T3, with a notable increase to 540MB/s throughput, thanks to the faster interface capability.

Packaging:

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Straightforward packaging with a notable inclusion of both Type-C to A and C to C cables. The T3 and T1 came with only Type-A.

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

A confusing market

I feel like I have been writing about AMD non-stop in 2017. Starting with the release of Ryzen 7 and following through last week’s review of the HEDT Threadripper processor, AMD has gone from a nearly-dormant state in 2015-2016 to a wildly active and successful organization with more than a dozen new product launches under its belt. Today we will reveal the company's first consumer products based on the new Vega GPU architecture, thrusting the Radeon brand back into the fight at the $400+ price segments.

At this point, with architecture teases, product unboxings, professional card reviews, and pricing and availability reveals, we almost know everything we need to know about the new Radeon RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56 products. Almost. Today we can show you the performance.

I want to be honest with our readers: AMD gave me so little time with these cards that I am going to gloss over some of the more interesting technological and architectural changes that Vega brings to market. I will come back to them at a later time, but I feel it is most important for us to talk about the performance and power characteristics of these cards as consumers finally get the chance to spend their hard-earned money on them.

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If you already know about the specifications and pricing peculiarities of Vega 64 and Vega 56 and instead want direct access to performance results, I encourage you to skip ahead. If you want a refresher those details, check out the summary below.

Interesting statistics from the creation of this review in a VERY short window:

  • 175 graphs 
  • 8 cards, 8 games, 2 resolutions, 3 runs = 384 test runs
  • >9.6 TB of raw captured video (average ~25 GB/min)

Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56 Specifications

Much of the below is sourced from our Vega 64/56 announcement story last month.

Though the leaks have been frequent and getting closer to reality, as it turns out AMD was in fact holding back quite a bit of information about the positioning of RX Vega for today. Radeon will launch the Vega 64 and Vega 56 today, with three different versions of the Vega 64 on the docket. Vega 64 uses the full Vega 10 chip with 64 CUs and 4096 stream processors. Vega 56 will come with 56 CUs enabled (get it?) and 3584 stream processors.

Pictures of the various product designs have already made it out to the field including the Limited Edition with the brushed anodized aluminum shroud, the liquid cooled card with a similar industrial design, and the more standard black shroud version that looks very similar to the previous reference cards from AMD.

  RX Vega 64 Liquid RX Vega 64 Air RX Vega 56 Vega Frontier Edition GTX 1080 Ti GTX 1080 TITAN X GTX 980 R9 Fury X
GPU Vega 10 Vega 10 Vega 10 Vega 10 GP102 GP104 GM200 GM204 Fiji XT
GPU Cores 4096 4096 3584 4096 3584 2560 3072 2048 4096
Base Clock 1406 MHz 1247 MHz 1156 MHz 1382 MHz 1480 MHz 1607 MHz 1000 MHz 1126 MHz 1050 MHz
Boost Clock 1677 MHz 1546 MHz 1471 MHz 1600 MHz 1582 MHz 1733 MHz 1089 MHz 1216 MHz -
Texture Units 256 256 224 256 224 160 192 128 256
ROP Units 64 64 64 64 88 64 96 64 64
Memory 8GB 8GB 8GB 16GB 11GB 8GB 12GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 1890 MHz 1890 MHz 1600 MHz 1890 MHz 11000 MHz 10000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 1000 MHz
Memory Interface 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 352-bit G5X 256-bit G5X 384-bit 256-bit 4096-bit (HBM)
Memory Bandwidth 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 410 GB/s 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 320 GB/s 336 GB/s 224 GB/s 512 GB/s
TDP 345 watts 295 watts 210 watts 300 watts 250 watts 180 watts 250 watts 165 watts 275 watts
Peak Compute 13.7 TFLOPS 12.6 TFLOPS 10.5 TFLOPS 13.1 TFLOPS 10.6 TFLOPS 8.2 TFLOPS 6.14 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 8.60 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 12.5B 12.5B 12.5B 12.5B 12.0B 7.2B 8.0B 5.2B 8.9B
Process Tech 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm 16nm 16nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP (current) $699 $499 $399 $999 $699 $599 $999 $499 $649

If you are a frequent reader of PC Perspective, you have already seen our reviews of the Vega Frontier Edition air cooled and liquid cards, so some of this is going to look very familiar. Looking at the Vega 64 first, we need to define the biggest change to the performance ratings of RX and FE versions of the Vega architecture. When we listed the “boost clock” of the Vega FE cards, and really any Radeon cards previous to RX Vega, we were referring the maximum clock speed of the card in its out of box state. This was counter to the method that NVIDIA used for its “boost clock” rating that pointed towards a “typical” clock speed that the card would run at in a gaming workload. Essentially, the NVIDIA method was giving consumers a more realistic look at how fast the card would be running while AMD was marketing the theoretical peak with perfect thermals, perfect workloads. This, to be clear, never happened.

Continue reading our review of the Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega 64 Liquid, and Vega 56!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Today Corsair launched their first ever HHHL form factor SSD, the NX500:

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Just from the looks of this part, it is clear they were pulling out all the stops with respect to product design. This is certainly one of the most impressive looking SSDs we have seen come through our lab, and it will certainly be the type of thing enthusiasts would show off in their system builds. The NX500 is also likely to be the best showcase of Phison's new E7 controller. I'm just as eager to see if this SSD performs as well as it looks, so let's get to the review!

Specifications

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The specifications here are in line what we would expect for a modern day NVMe SSD. Note that ratings are identical for the 400GB and 800GB models, aside from a doubling of endurance due to the corresponding doubling of flash. There were some additional details in our press kit:

Extreme Performance
The Phison PS5007-E7
Description: PS5007-E7 is Phison’s first NVMe controller designed for high performance application. Supporting up to 8-channels in its NAND Flash interface.
Extreme Reliability
Multiple features are built into the PS5007-E7 to ensure stability and reliability.
SmartECC™ – Reconstructs defective/faulty pages when regular ECC fails
SmartRefresh™ – Monitors block ECC health status and refreshes blocks periodically to improve data retention
SmartFlush™ – Minimizes time data spends in cache to ensure data retention in the event of power loss
Extreme Control
The Neutron NX500 SSD with Phison PS5007-E7 controller works with CORSAIR SSD Toolbox.
Drive monitoring – Monitor the health of your Force Series
Secure wipe – For security purposes, completely clear the drive of any recoverable data
Firmware update – Install updated firmware as needed

As the Phison E7 is a new controller, it's worth taking a look at the internals:

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Highlights from above are 8 channels to the flash, ONFI 3.2 and Toggle 2.0 support (covering most flash memory types), along with support for all modes (SLC/MLC/TLC).

Packaging

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I haven't seen SSD packaging this nice since the FusionIO ioDrive, and those parts were far more expensive. Great touch here by Corsair.

Continue reading our full review of the Corsair NX500!

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Who is this for, anyway?

Today is a critically important day for AMD. With the launch of reviews and the on-sale date for its new Ryzen Threadripper processor family, AMD is reentering the world of high-end consumer processors that it has been absent from for a decade, if not longer. Intel has dominated this high priced, but high margin, area of the market since the release of the Core i7-900 series of Nehalem CPUs in 2008, bringing workstation and server class hardware down to the content creator and enthusiast markets. Even at that point AMD had no competitive answer, with only the Phenom X4 in our comparison charts. It didn’t end well.

AMD has made no attempt of stealth with the release of Ryzen Threadripper, instead adopting the “tease and repeat” campaign style that Radeon has utilized in recent years for this release. The result of which is an already-knowledgeable group of pre-order ready consumers; not a coincidence. Today I will summarize the data we already know for those of you just joining us and dive into the importance of the new information we can provide today. That includes interesting technical details on the multi-die implementation and latency, overclocking, thermals, why AMD has a NUMA/UMA issue, gaming performance and of course, general system and workload benchmarks.

Strap in.

A Summary of Threadripper

AMD has been pumping up interest and excitement for Ryzen Threadripper since May, with an announcement of the parts at the company’s financial analyst day. It teased 16 cores and 32 threads of performance for a single consumer socket, something that we had never seen before. At Computex, Jim Anderson got on stage and told us that each Threadripper processor would have access to 64 lanes of PCI Express, exceeding the 40 lanes of Intel’s top HEDT platforms and going well above the 28 lanes that the lower end of its family offers.

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In mid-July the official announcement of the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X occurred, with CEO Lisa Su and CVP John Taylor having the honors. This announcement broke with most of the important information including core count, clock speeds, pricing, and a single performance benchmark (Cinebench). On July 24th we started to see pictures of the Threadripper packaging show up on AMD social media accounts, getting way more attention than anyone expected a box for a CPU could round up. At the end of July AMD announced a third Threadripper processor (due in late August). Finally, on August 3rd, I was allowed to share an unboxing of the review kit and the CPU itself as well as demonstrate the new installation method for this sled-based processor.

It’s been a busy summer.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard features a black PCB with a black chrome overlay covering the board's heat sinks and rear panel cover. The chipset overlay has fingers that extend in between the PCIe x16 slots in the areas just under the two PCIe x1 slots. Further, there is a plastic overlay protecting the audio components above the PCIe slots. MSI integrated LEDS into the rear panel cover, the VRM heat sink, the chipset cover, and the audio cover for a unique look. The board is designed around the Intel X299 chipset with in-built support for the latest Intel LGA2066 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processor line and Quad Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2667MHz speed. The X299 M7 Gaming ACK can be found in retail with an MRSP of $399.99.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI integrated the following features into the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; one U.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 32Gbps port; a Killer E2500 Gigabit controller; a Killer 802.ac wireless controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; a Realtek ALC1220 8-Channel audio subsystem; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

To power the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard, MSI integrated a 12 phase digital power delivery system dubbed Military Class VI. The Military Class VI integrated components included Titanium Choke II chokes, 10 year-rated Dark capacitors, and Dark chokes.

Continue reading our preview of the MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard!

Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction and First Impressions

A large mid-tower design featuring tempered glass side panels and a mix of aluminum and steel exterior construction, the RGB-imbued Shogun is every bit what you would expect a ‘flagship’ enclosure from BitFenix to be. So did it get our seal of approval? Read on to find out!

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The BitFenix Shogun appears at first glance to be a full-tower enclosure, but it is actually using a form-factor that BitFenix calls “super mid-tower”, and it has the seven expansion slots of a mid-tower design. It supports E-ATX motherboards on down, and has some interesting features to help set it apart in a highly competitive enclosure market.

The Shogun’s compatibility with ASUS Aura motherboard lighting effects makes it a good option for the RGB lighting inclined, and there are some nice exterior touches such as the sculpted top and bottom aluminum panels and (of course) those tempered glass sides. The Shogun competes in the premium space, but is still palatable at $149 for what is on the surface a pretty impressive-looking package.

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The open interior and glass side panel invite impressive builds (Image credit: BitFenix)

Continue reading our review of the BitFenix Shogun Super Mid-Tower Enclosure!

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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(Courtesy of Corsair)

Corsair recently updated their HX Series power supplies which now include four models: the HX750, HX850, HX1000 and HX1200. The HX Series is targeted towards advanced users for use in gaming rigs, overclocking systems, and any PC that demands rock-solid stability. Corsair states the HX Series power supplies provide extremely tight voltage regulation, quiet operation, Platinum-level efficiency and come with a fully modular cable set. In addition, the HX Series power supplies are built with all Japanese 105°C capacitors and come backed by a 10-year warranty.

Note: Corsair offers essentially the same four models in their HXi Series, which also includes the Corsair Link digital interface for software based monitoring and control.

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We will be taking a detailed look at the new HX Series 850W power supply in this review.

Corsair HX Series PSU Key Features:

•    750W, 850W, 1000W, and 1200W models
•    Max power output at server-grade 50°C temperature rating
•    80 Plus Platinum efficiency certification
•    10-Year warranty
•    ZeroRPM mode for fan-less operation at low loads
•    Quiet 135mm cooling fan with FDB
•    All capacitors are Japanese brand, 105°C rated
•    Fully modular cable set
•    Switch allows selecting either Single or Multiple Rail +12V outputs
•    Complies with ATX12V v2.4 and EPS 2.92 standards
•    6th Generation Intel Core processor Ready
•    Full suite of protection circuits: OVP, UVP, SCP, OPP and OTP
•    Active PFC with full range AC input (100-240 VAC)
•    MSRP for the HX850 is $159.99 USD
•    MSRP for the HX850i with Corsair Link is $199.99 USD

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Another advanced feature incorporated into all HX Series power supplies is a little switch on the front panel that allows selecting either Single or Multiple +12V rail outputs.

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair HX850 PSU!!!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Logitech Powerplay Wireless Charging System

Logitech was the first company to introduce a commercially available wireless mouse, way back in 1991. Since then, the company and its competitors have evolved the concept to the point where most of the technology's downsides have been addressed, even for some of the most demanding users. But despite significant improvements over the past few years, the one advantage that traditional wired mice have continued to hold over their wireless counterparts is power.

Absent technical issues, a wired mouse will always be ready to work when you sit down at your PC. It will never give up and quit on you in the middle of a gaming session or business presentation. Wireless mice, conversely, rely on batteries with limited running time. The batteries in modern wireless mice can last weeks, even months in some cases, but at some point they'll need to be recharged or replaced. Depending on the situation, it might not be a big deal to simply plug in the USB charging cable or swap batteries when your mouse dies, but it's a safe bet that most wireless mouse users have been caught without adequate battery life at a highly inconvenient time at least once.

The obvious solution to this issue is wireless charging. The technology is already commercially available for devices like smartphones and smart watches, and for years we've been promised more ambitious solutions, such as desks that charge all of your devices at once. But there's a difference between the type of wireless charging products that have been on the market for the past few years and the type of product that would be ideal for your mouse. In other words, it's easier to design and implement a small wireless charging system that accommodates a stationary object (your smartphone) than it is to create an adequately sized mousing surface that can charge an often rapidly moving device.

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But that's exactly the challenge that Logitech decided to address, and the result of their efforts is the Powerplay, the world's first consumer-targeted wireless charging system for mice. When paired with compatible Logitech devices, the Powerplay system offers a low latency "Lightspeed" experience for both gaming and everyday productivity, and it's the first step into a world where users may never need to worry about charging their mouse.

Continue reading our review of the Logitech Powerplay Wireless Charging System!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

RX Vega is here

Though we are still a couple of weeks from availability and benchmarks, today we finally have the details on the Radeon RX Vega product line. That includes specifications, details on the clock speed changes, pricing, some interesting bundle programs, and how AMD plans to attack NVIDIA through performance experience metrics.

There is a lot going on today and I continue to have less to tell you about more products, so I’m going to defer a story on the architectural revelations that AMD made to media this week and instead focus on what I think more of our readers will want to know. Let’s jump in.

Radeon RX Vega Specifications

Though the leaks have been frequent and getting closer to reality, as it turns out AMD was in fact holding back quite a bit of information about the positioning of RX Vega for today. Radeon will launch the Vega 64 and Vega 56 today, with three different versions of the Vega 64 on the docket. Vega 64 uses the full Vega 10 chip with 64 CUs and 4096 stream processors. Vega 56 will come with 56 CUs enabled (get it?) and 3584 stream processors.

Pictures of the various product designs have already made it out to the field including the Limited Edition with the brushed anodized aluminum shroud, the liquid cooled card with a similar industrial design, and the more standard black shroud version that looks very similar to the previous reference cards from AMD.

  RX Vega 64 Liquid RX Vega 64 Air RX Vega 56 Vega Frontier Edition GTX 1080 Ti GTX 1080 TITAN X GTX 980 R9 Fury X
GPU Vega 10 Vega 10 Vega 10 Vega 10 GP102 GP104 GM200 GM204 Fiji XT
GPU Cores 4096 4096 3584 4096 3584 2560 3072 2048 4096
Base Clock 1406 MHz 1247 MHz 1156 MHz 1382 MHz 1480 MHz 1607 MHz 1000 MHz 1126 MHz 1050 MHz
Boost Clock 1677 MHz 1546 MHz 1471 MHz 1600 MHz 1582 MHz 1733 MHz 1089 MHz 1216 MHz -
Texture Units 256 256 256 256 224 160 192 128 256
ROP Units 64 64 ? 64 88 64 96 64 64
Memory 8GB 8GB 8GB 16GB 11GB 8GB 12GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 1890 MHz 1890 MHz 1600 MHz 1890 MHz 11000 MHz 10000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 1000 MHz
Memory Interface 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 2048-bit HBM2 352-bit G5X 256-bit G5X 384-bit 256-bit 4096-bit (HBM)
Memory Bandwidth 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 484 GB/s 320 GB/s 336 GB/s 224 GB/s 512 GB/s
TDP 345 watts 295 watts 210 watts 300 watts 250 watts 180 watts 250 watts 165 watts 275 watts
Peak Compute 13.7 TFLOPS 12.6 TFLOPS 10.5 TFLOPS 13.1 TFLOPS 10.6 TFLOPS 8.2 TFLOPS 6.14 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 8.60 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 12.5B 12.5B 12.5B 12.5B 12.0B 7.2B 8.0B 5.2B 8.9B
Process Tech 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm 16nm 16nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP (current) $699 $499 $399 $999 $699 $599 $999 $499 $649

If you are a frequent reader of PC Perspective, you have already seen our reviews of the Vega Frontier Edition air cooled and liquid cards, so some of this is going to look very familiar. Looking at the Vega 64 first, we need to define the biggest change to the performance ratings of RX and FE versions of the Vega architecture. When we listed the “boost clock” of the Vega FE cards, and really any Radeon cards previous to RX Vega, we were referring the maximum clock speed of the card in its out of box state. This was counter to the method that NVIDIA used for its “boost clock” rating that pointed towards a “typical” clock speed that the card would run at in a gaming workload. Essentially, the NVIDIA method was giving consumers a more realistic look at how fast the card would be running while AMD was marketing the theoretical peak with perfect thermals, perfect workloads. This, to be clear, never happened.

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With the RX Vega cards and their specifications, the “boost clock” is now a typical clock rate. AMD has told me that this is what they estimate the average clock speed of the card will be during a typical gaming workload with a typical thermal and system design. This is great news! It means that gamers will have a more realistic indication of performance, both theoretical and expected, and the listings on the retailers and partner sites will be accurate. It also means that just looking at the spec table above will give you an impression that the performance gap between Vega FE and RX Vega is smaller than it will be in testing. (This is, of course, if AMD’s claims are true; I haven’t tested it myself yet.)

Continue reading our preview of the Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Fanatec

Dropping Price Points for Wider Appeal

Fanatec needs little introduction for anyone that has seriously considered racing wheel and the corresponding components.  It is a German based company that produces high quality and authentic feeling gear for PC and console racers.  Their ClubSport products are their top end models which also commands a top level price.  Solid construction, high quality materials, and sharp looking designs have defined the company since its inception.

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Fanatec always features a classy design. The first portion of the 4-flap saying is on the top. Otherwise, a bit confusing if you didn't know that...

Last year I was given the chance to test out some of the latest, and highest end, Fanatec gear.  The ClubSport V2 base and pedals were fantastic performers.  The build quality, fit and finish, and functionality were all superior to anything that I had used before.  The unfortunate part of the setup was the corresponding price.  These parts were not inexpensive.  Thankfully, most people who are familiar with Fanatec know that they cater to a more discerning crowd where price constraints are not the driving factor for this gear.  Even though these parts are expensive, they are still far less than the direct-drive counterparts that typically cost two to three times more.

Like any company, Fanatec is looking to expand and attract new users.  Their biggest hurdle with the ClubSport series is obviously price.  To attract new customers Fanatec introduced a new, more cost effective design that provides much the same experience as the higher end ClubSport series, but at a more reasonable price tag.  The CSL Elite series (ClubSport Lite) is aimed to address this area with more reasonably priced units that promise the same build quality and attention to detail as the higher end products in the ClubSport realm.  Costs were cut throughout, but Fanatec hopes that the overall product will provide much the same gaming experience as their higher end products.

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The packing is always well designed and copious when it comes to materials.

Click here to read the entire review on Fanatec's CSL Elite Products!

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged: 1200, 1300x, amd, ryzen, ryzen 3, Zen

Battle for the Mainstream

With today's release of the Ryzen 3 processors, AMD completes the circle of the mainstream Ryzen processor family. Starting with the 8-core Ryzen 7 that disrupted the high end of the market, followed by the Ryzen 5 that shook up the Core i5 segment, Ryzen 3 goes after the world of the Core i3 targeting budget PC builders, gamers, and even enterprising business consumers willing to build their own machines or looking for information here on what to select.

We already learned about the Ryzen 3 products launching today, the 1300X and the 1200, from a video that AMD CEO Lisa Su posted a couple of weeks ago. But pricing and performance were still an unknown, both of which we are going to show you in great detail today. What can a $129 and $109 processor get you with four true cores?

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As you'll soon see, the Ryzen 3 product family competes against the Intel Core i3 line in terms of pricing but is definitely a concern for the Core i5 family when it comes to multi-threaded workloads. Let's dive into the specifications and see what AMD has put together for us.

Specifications

The devil is in the details and as we will see the core counts and clock speeds of Ryzen 3 make it very compelling for a wide range of consumers.

  Ryzen 3 1300X Ryzen 3 1200 Pentium G4560 Core i3-7100 Core i3-7350K Ryzen 5 1600X Ryzen 5 1500X Core i5-7600K Core i5-7500
Architecture Zen Zen Kaby Lake Kaby Lake Kaby Lake Zen Zen Kaby Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm 14nm 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm 14nm 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 4/4 4/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 6/12 4/8 4/4 4/4
Base Clock 3.4 GHz 3.1 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.9 GHz 4.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.4 GHz
Turbo/Boost Clock 3.7 GHz 3.4 GHz - - - 4.0 GHz 3.7 GHz 4.2 GHz 3.8 GHz
Cache 8MB 8MB 3MB 3MB 4MB 16MB 16MB 6MB 6MB
Memory Support DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
TDP 65 watts 65 watts 54 watts 51 watts 60 watts 95 watts 65 watts 91 watts 65 watts
Price $129 $109 $80 $119 $149 $229 $189 $239 $204

Continue reading our review of the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X and 1200 processors!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Software Iteration

The software team at AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group is releasing Radeon Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.2 this evening and it includes a host of new features, improved performance capabilities, and stability improvements to boot. This isn’t the major reboot of the software that we have come to expect on an annual basis, but rather an attempt to get the software team’s work out in front of media and gamers before the onslaught of RX Vega and Threadripper steal the attention.

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AMD’s software team is big on its user satisfaction ratings, which it should be after the many years of falling behind NVIDIA in this department. With 16 individual driver releases in 2017 (so far) and 20 new games optimized and supported with day one releases, the 90% rating seems to be about right. Much of the work that could be done to improve multi-GPU and other critical problems are more than a calendar year behind us, so it seems reasonable the Radeon gamers would be in a good place in terms of software support.

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One big change for Crimson ReLive today is that all of those lingering settings that remained in the old Catalyst Control Panel will now reside in the proper Radeon Settings. This means matching UI and streamlined interface.

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The ReLive capture and streaming capability sees a handful of upgrades today including a bump from 50mbps to 100mbps maximum bit rate, transparency support for webcams, improved optimization to lower the memory usage (and thus the overhead of running ReLive), notifications of replays and record timers, and audio controls for microphone volume and push-to-talk.

Continue reading about the latest Crimson ReLive driver updates!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Various

Specifications

In the original premise for today’s story, I had planned to do a standard and straight-forward review of the iPad Pro 10.5-inch model, the latest addition to Apple’s line of tablet devices. After receiving the 12.9-in variant, with the same processor upgrade but a larger and much more substantial screen, I started using them both as my daily-driver computing device. I was surprised at how well both handled the majority of tasks I tossed their way but there was still some lingering doubt in my mind about the usefulness of the iOS system as it exists today for my purposes.

The next step was for me to acquire an equivalent Windows 10-based tablet and try making THAT my everyday computer and see how my experiences changed. I picked up the new Surface Pro (2017) model that was priced nearly identical to the iPad Pro 12.9-in device. That did mean sacrificing some specifications that I would usually not do, including moving down to 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. This brought the total of the iPad Pro + Pencil + keyboard within $90 of the Surface Pro and matching accessories.

IMG_4814.JPG

I should mention at the outset that with the pending release of iOS 11 due in the fall, the Apple iPad Pro line could undergo enough of a platform upgrade to change some of the points in this story. At that time, we can reevaluate our stance and conclusions.

Specifications

Let’s start our editorial with a comparison of the hardware being tested in the specification department. Knowing that we are looking two ARM-based devices and an x86 system, we should realize core counts, clocks, and the like are even less comparable and relatable than in the Intel/AMD debates. However, it does give us a good bearing on how the hardware landscape looks when we get into the benchmarking section of this story.

Surface Pro (2017) vs. iPad Pro (2017) Comparison
Processor Intel Core i5-7300U (Kaby Lake)
2-core/4-thread
Apple A10X
(3x high performance Hurrican, 3x high efficiency Zephyr cores)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 12-core Custom PowerVR
Memory 4GB 4GB
Screen 12.3-in 2736x1824 IPS 12.9-in 2732x2048 IPS 120 Hz
10.5-in 2224x1668 IPS 120 Hz
Storage

128GB SSD

256GB SSD
Camera 5MP Front
8MP Rear
7MP Front
12MP Rear + OIS
Wireless 802.11ac 802.11ac
Connections USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort
Headphone
Lightning
Headphone
Battery 45 Wh 12.9-in: 41 Wh
10.5-in: 30.4 Wh
Dimensions 11.50-in x 7.93-in x 0.33-in 12.9-in: 12.04-in x 8.69-in x 0.27-in
10.5-in: 9.87-in x 6.85-in x 0.24-in
OS Windows 10 iOS 10
Price $999 - Amazon.com 12.9-in: $899
10.5-in: $749 - Amazon.com

Continue reading our comparison of the 2017 Surface Pro and iPad Pro!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ZALMAN

A Premium Mechanical Option Under $100

In the past year or two we have seen a number of sub-$100 mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, and several of these have passed through our hands here at the PC Perspective offices. The latest of these to garner our attention is the ZALMAN ZM-K900M, a premium gaming design featuring RGB lighting effects and Kailh Blue key switches, along with a 1000 Hz polling rate and full N-key rollover. It currently retails for $89.99, though it can be found for as little as $79.99 (currently, at least) with a little googling. How impressive is it in person? Read on to find out!

DSC_0219.jpg

The ZM-K900M offers a variety of RGB effects

The ZM-K900M certainly checks the right boxes as a gaming keyboard, with the above-mentioned 1000 Hz polling rate (which ZALMAN calls 'Z-Engine') and customizable RGB lighting, supports simulanious key presses for the full 104 keys, and offers programmable macro keys. All of the keyboard features are controlled via hot keys on the ZM-K900M itself, eliminating the need for software.

“The ZM-K900M requires no software installation and is universally compatible with any operating system. The macros automatically remember the time interval between the inputs and run exactly as you typed. The keyboard stores the data inside the keyboard so you can instantly run your macros on any computer.”


Features and specifications from ZALMAN:

  • Simple and minimal design
  • Equipped with Z-Engine
  • Supports USB and PS/2 connection
  • Intelligent hardware macro with option to add mouse clicks
  • Multimedia hotkeys
  • 4-stage macro speed adjustment
  • 6-key and N-Key rollover
  • Option to lock Windows key or entire keyboard
  • High quality laser-etched keycaps

Specifications:

  • Model: ZM-K900M
  • Keyboard Layout: 104-key
  • Key Switch: Kailh Blue mechanical key switch
  • Keyboard Matrix: USB & PS/2 N key rollover (anti-ghost function)
  • Key cap type: Step Sculpture 2
  • Interface: USB
  • Cable length: 5.6 ft
  • Dimensions: 17.32 x 5.51 x 1.34 inches, 2.75 lbs

Continue reading our review of the ZALMAN ZM-K900M RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overview

A few months ago at Computex, NVIDIA announced their "GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design" initiative. Essentially, the heart of this program is the use of specifically binned GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs. These GPUs have been tested and selected during the manufacturing process to ensure lower power draw at the same performance levels when compared to the GPUs used in more traditional form factors like desktop graphics cards.

slide1.png

In order to gain access to these "Max-Q" binned GPUs, notebook manufacturers have to meet specific NVIDIA guidelines on noise levels at thermal load (sub-40 dbA). To be clear, NVIDIA doesn't seem to be offering reference notebook designs (as demonstrated by the variability in design across the Max-Q notebooks) to partners, but rather ideas on how they can accomplish the given goals.

slide2.png

At the show, NVIDIA and some of their partners showed off several Max-Q notebooks. We hope to take a look at all of these machines in the coming weeks, but today we're focusing on one of the first, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus.

IMG_4744.JPG

ASUS ROG Zephyrus  (configuration as reviewed)
Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Kaby Lake)
Graphics NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Deseign (8GB)
Memory 24GB DDR4  (8GB Soldered + 8GBx2 DIMM)
Screen 15.6-in 1920x1080 120Hz G-SYNC 
Storage

512GB Samsung SM961 NVMe

Camera HD Webcam
Wireless 802.11ac
Connections Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 2.0
4 x USB 3.0
Audio combo jack
Power 50 Wh Battery, 230W AC Adapter
Dimensions 378.9mm x 261.9mm x 17.01-17.78mm (14.92" x 10.31" x 0.67"-0.70")
4.94 lbs. (2240.746 g)
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $2700 - Amazon.com

As you can see, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus has the specifications of a high-end gaming desktop, let alone a gaming notebook. In some gaming notebook designs, the bottleneck comes down to CPU horsepower more than GPU horsepower. That doesn't seem to be the case here. The powerful GTX 1080 GPU is paired with a quad-core HyperThread Intel processor capable of boosting up to 3.8 GHz. 

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Zephyrus Max-Q Gaming Notebook!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: SILVIA

Intelligent Gaming

Kal Simpson recently had the chance to sit down and have an extensive interview with SILVIA's Chief Product Officer - Cognitive Code, Alex Mayberry.  SILVIA is a company that specializes on conversational AI that can be adapted to a variety of platforms and applications.  Kal's comments are in bold while Alex's are in italics.

SILVIA virtual assistant.jpg

Always good to speak with you Alex. Whether it's the latest Triple-A video game release or the progress being made in changing the way we play, virtual reality for instance – your views and developments within the gaming space as a whole remains impressive. Before we begin, I’d like to give the audience a brief flashback of your career history. Prominent within the video game industry you’ve been involved with many, many titles – primarily within the PC gaming space. Quake 2: The Reckoning, America’s Army, a plethora of World of Warcraft titles.

Those more familiar with your work know you as the lead game producer for Diablo 3 / Reaper of Souls, as well as the executive producer for Star Citizen. The former of which we spoke on during the release of the game for PC, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, back in 2014.

So I ask, given your huge involvement with some of the most popular titles, what sparked your interest within the development of intelligent computing platforms? No-doubt the technology can be adapted to applications within gaming, but what’s the initial factor that drove you to Cognitive Code – the SILVIA technology?

AM: Conversational intelligence was something that I had never even thought about in terms of game development. My experience arguing with my Xbox and trying to get it to change my television channel left me pretty sceptical about the technology. But after leaving Star Citizen, my paths crossed with Leslie Spring, the CEO and Founder of Cognitive Code, and the creator of the SILVIA platform. Initially, Leslie was helping me out with some engineering work on VR projects I was spinning up. After collaborating for a bit, he introduced me to his AI, and I became intrigued by it. Although I was still very focused on VR at the time, my mind kept drifting to SILVIA.

I kept pestering Leslie with questions about the technology, and he continued to share some of the things that it could do. It was when I saw one of his game engine demos showing off a sci-fi world with freely conversant robots that the light went on in my head, and I suddenly got way more interested in artificial intelligence. At the same time, I was discovering challenges in VR that needed solutions. Not having a keyboard in VR creates an obstacle for capturing user input, and floating text in your field of view is really detrimental to the immersion of the experience. Also, when you have life-size characters in VR, you naturally want to speak to them. This is when I got interested in using SILVIA to introduce an entirely new mechanic to gaming and interactive entertainment. No more do we have to rely on conversation trees and scripted responses.

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No more do we have to read a wall of text from a quest giver. With this technology, we can have a realistic and free-form conversation with our game characters, and speak to them as if they are alive. This is such a powerful tool for interactive storytelling, and it will allow us to breathe life into virtual characters in a way that’s never before been possible. Seeing the opportunity in front of me, I joined up with Cognitive Code and have spent the last 18 months exploring how to design conversationally intelligent avatars. And I’ve been having a blast doing it.

Click here to continue reading the entire interview!