Get an End of Nations Beta Key from PC Perspective and NVIDIA!!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 28, 2012 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, end of nations, beta

Looking for something to do August 10-12th?  We have some good news for you! 

The wait for End of Nations is over. NVIDIA and PC Perspective are inviting our lucky readers to join the global conflict in Trion's End of Nations closed beta weekend on August 10-12th.

eon_nv.jpg

Wage sprawling 56-player battles in this year's most anticipated MMO real-time strategy game for three action-packed days, absolutely free!

To get started, gear up with the ultimate weapon —an NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card - then click the link below to get your FREE beta key!

Click right here to get an assigned key!  And have fun!!

We have 1000 keys up for grabs!!  So get one and pass it on to your friends as well!

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: SiliconDust

An HTPC Perspective on home theater PC technology

We conducted a reader survey a few weeks ago, and one of the tech topics that received a surprising amount of interest in was HTPC coverage. You, our awesome readers, wanted to know more about the hardware and software behind them. I’ll admit that I was ardent about the prospects of talking HTPCs with you. As a relatively new entrant to that area of tech myself, I was excited to cover it, and give you more coverage on a topic you wanted to see more of!

Today we won't be talking about home theater PCs in the sense of a computer in the living room AV rack (Ryan covered that earlier this week), but rather a related technology that makes the HTPC possible: the CableCARD-equipped TV tuner.

I will forewarn you that this article is quite a bit more informal than my usual writings, especially if you only follow my PC Perspective postings. In the future, it may not be that way, but I wanted to give some backstory and some personal thoughts on the matter to illustrate how I got into rolling my own DVR and why I’m excited about it (mainly: it saves money and is very flexible).

Preface/Background

Despite my previous attempts to “cut the cord” and use only Internet-based services for television, me and my girlfriend slowly but surely made our way back to cable TV. For about a year we survived on Netflix, Hulu, and the various networks’ streaming videos on their respective websites but as the delays between a shows airing and web streaming availability increased and Netflix instant Streaming started losing content the price of cable started to look increasingly acceptable.

She was probably the first one to feel the effects of a lack of new content – especially with a newfound love for a rather odd show called True Blood. It was at some point thereafter, once she had caught up with as many seasons offered on Netflix of various shows as possible that she broke down and ordered U-Verse. U-Verse is an interesting setup of television delivery using internet protocol (IPTV). While we did have some issues at first with the Residential Gateway and signal levels, it was eventually sorted out and it was an okay setup. It offered a lot of channels – with many in HD. In the end though, after the promotional period was up, it got very expensive to stay subscribed to. Also, because it was IPTV, it was not as flexible as traditional cable as far as adding extra televisions and the DVR functionality. Further, the image quality for the HD streams, while much better than SD, was not up to par with the cable and satellite feeds I’ve seen.

Being with Comcast for Internet for about three years now, I’ve been fairly happy with it. One day I saw a promotion for currently subscribed customers for TV + Blast internet for $80, which was only about $20 more than I was paying each month for its Performance tier. After a week of hell Therefore, I decided to sign up for it. Only, I did not want to rent a Comcast box, so I went searching for alternatives.

Enter the elusive and never advertised CableCARD

It was during this search that I learned a great deal about CableCARDs and the really cool things that they enabled. Thanks to the FCC, cable television providers in the United States have to give their customers an option other than renting a cable box for a monthly fee – customers have to be able to bring their own equipment if they wish (they can still charge you for the CableCARD but at a reduced rate, and not all cable companies charge a fee for them). But what is a CableCARD? In short, it is a small card that resembles a PCMIA expansion card – a connector that can commonly be found in older laptops (think Windows XP-era). It is to be paired with a CableCARD tuner and acts as the key to decrypt the encrypted television stations in your particular subscriber package. They are added much like a customer-owned modem is, by giving the cable company some numbers on the bottom of the card that act as a unique identifier. The cable company then connects that particular card to your account and sends it a profile of what channels you are allowed to tune into.

Cablecard_for_PC Perspective_Tim_Verry.jpg

There are some drawbacks, however. Mainly that On Demand does not work with most CableCARDS. Do note that this is actually not a CableCARD hardware issue, but a support issue on the cable company side. You could, at least in theory, get a CableCARD and tuner that could tune in On Demand content, but right now that functionality seems to be limited to some Tivos and the rental cable boxes (paradoxically some of those are actually CableCARD-equipped). It’s an unfortunate situation, but here’s hoping that it is supported in the future. Also, if you do jump into the world of CableCARDs, it is likely that you will find yourself in a situation where you know more about them than the cable installer as cable companies do not advertise them, and only a small number of employees are trained on them. Don’t be too hard on the cable tech though, it's primarily because cable companies would rather rent you a (expensive) box, and a very small number of people actually know about and need a tech to support the technology. I was lucky enough to get one of the “CableCARD guys,” on my first install, but I’ve also gotten techs that have never seen one before and it made for an interesting conversation piece as they diagnosed signal levels for the cable modem (heh). Basically, patience is key when activating your CableCARD, and I highly recommend asking around forums like DSLReports for the specific number(s) to call to get to the tier 2 techs that are familiar with CableCARDs for your specific provider when calling to activate it if you opt to do a self-install. Even then, you may run into issues. For example, something went wrong with activation on the server side at Comcast so it took a couple of hours for them to essentially unlock all of my HD channels during my install.

Continue reading to find out why I'm so excited about CableCARDs and home theater PCs!

Join ASUS and PC Per At Fry’s For a ROG Gaming Event

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: ROG, patriot, gaming, fry's, event, asus, antec

As Ryan alluded to in last night’s podcast, there is an upcoming event at the Fry’s Electronics store in Sunnyvale, California on the last weekend in July – the 28th and 29th. Specifically, it is the second-annual Republic of Gamers @ Fry’s event held by popular motherboard manufacturer ASUS. ASUS, in concert with NVIDIA, Antec, and Patriot Memory will be on hand to answer your questions and listen to your comments. As a gaming-oriented event, the company has lined up several events for the whole family – from casual to hardcore gamers – and has brought along tons of ROG-branded hardware for you to check out. Some of the hardware on hand will include ASUS’ Maximus V Extreme and Maximus V Formula Z77 motherboards, its G75 laptops, and Vulcan Active Noise Canceling Headphones. There will also be prize giveaways both in person and online through the various social networks (for those that can’t make it in person).

ASUS Republic of Gamers.jpg

Gaming hardware spans from the ASUS Transformer tablets to custom high-end gaming machines that will be available for you to play a number of different games.

The other major event is a panel hosted by PC Perspective’s own Ryan Shrout who will be entertaining the audience along with several hardware manufacturers. The topics of discussion will include tips for first time PC builders, advanced overclocking techniques, general hardware goodness, and a question and answer section where you will get a chance to get answers from the hardware manufacturers on your important questions!

ROGfrys.png

It’s is going to be a really fun time, and you will be able to see Ryan and bug him about the podcast videos and give him (good!) feedback on the site. We are excited about it and hope to see you all there! We previously mentioned a question and answer section, and one way to ask if you can’t make it is use the comments section below this post where Ryan will do his best to get you good answers!

Below are the full details on the where and when.

Location:

Fry’s Electronics
1077 East Arques Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94085

When:

July 28th-29th 2012 (Saturday and Sunday) from 11am to 6pm

Misc:

Admission is free.

ASUS will be providing $0.50 hot dogs and Coke, the money from which will go towards local charities.

Of course, there is a Facebook page for more information and to RSVP. Visit http://goo.gl/Lxkdl for more event details and follow #ROGexperience to stay up-to-date on the latest event information and for some great on-site giveaways.

Source: ASUS

GPU: Finally getting recognition from Windows.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | July 27, 2012 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, winRT, gpgpu

Paul Thurrott of Windows Supersite reports that Windows 8 is finally taking hardware acceleration seriously and will utilize the GPU across all applications. This hardware acceleration should make Windows 8 perform better and consume less power than if the setup were running Windows 7. With Microsoft finally willing to adopt modern hardware for performance and battery life I wonder when they will start using the GPU to accelerate tasks like file encryption.

It is painful when you have the right tool for the job but must use the wrong one.

Windows has, in fact, used graphics acceleration for quite some time albeit in fairly mundane and obvious ways. Windows Vista and Windows 7 brought forth the Windows Aero Glass look and feel. Aero was heavily reliant on Shader Model 2.0 GPU computing to the point that much of it would not run on anything less.

GPGPU-Trail.png

Washington State is not that far away from Oregon.

Microsoft is focusing their hardware acceleration efforts for Windows 8 on what they call mainstream graphics. 2D graphics and animation were traditionally CPU-based with a couple of applications such as Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, and eventually Chrome allowing the otherwise idle GPU to lend a helping hand. As such, Microsoft is talking up Direct2D and DirectWrite usage all throughout Windows 8 on a wide variety of hardware.

The driving force that neither Microsoft nor Paul Thurrott seems to directly acknowledge is battery life. Graphics Processors are considered power-hogs until just recently for almost anyone who assembles a higher-end gaming computer.  Despite this, the GPU is actually more efficient at certain tasks than a CPU -- this is especially true when you consider the GPUs which will go into WinRT devices. The GPU will help the experience be more responsive and smooth but also consume less battery power. I guess Microsoft is finally believes that the time is right to bother using what you already have.

There are many more tasks which can be GPU accelerated than just graphics -- be it 3D or the new emphasis on 2D acceleration. Hopefully after Microsoft dips in their toe they will take the GPU more seriously as an all-around parallel task processor. Maybe now that they are implementing the GPU for all applications they can consider using it for all applications -- in all applications.

Podcast #211 - MSI HD 7870 HAWK, Building a Gaming PC from 1999, a Llano SFF System Build and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2012 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: SFF, retro, podcast, nvidia, llano, kepler, Intel, amd, 7870 Hawk, 7870, 1999

PC Perspective Podcast #211 - 07/26/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the MSI HD 7870 HAWK,  Building a Gaming PC from 1999, a Llano SFF System Build and more!

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

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

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:53:21

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. PCPer moving to pcper.com/live
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  6. Quakecon - Hardware Workshop @ pcper.com/workshop (August 4th, 2012, 2pm CT)
  7. Join me this weekend at Fry's!!
    1. Fry's Electronics, 1077 East Arques Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:05:10 MSI R7870 HAWK Review
    2. 0:13:00 Gaming like it's 1999
    3. 0:18:10 Enermax Platimax 1000w PSU Review
    4. 0:18:50 AMD Llano System Build Article
  1. 0:21:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 0:22:15 ECS Pre-announced AMD AMP Memory profiles
    2. 0:25:10 New passive CPU cooler can handle 100w
    3. 0:27:15 ARM, TSMC to Produce 64-bit Processors With 3D Transistors
    4. 0:30:20 Falcon Ridge to double Thunderbolt performance
    5. 0:31:40 Drobo Thunderbolt prices
    6. 0:35:10 Radeon HD 7990 delayed again probably
    7. 0:36:35 New Dawn Demo from NVIDIA
    8. 0:40:00 Check out this cool DX11 demo video
    9. 0:44:15 Intel and AMD financials
  1. Closing:
    1. 0:45:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week

      1. Ryan: Zoom Handy Recorder H4n
      2. Jeremy: Hand knit beer coozy
      3. Josh: GET A DAMN SSD ALREADY
      4. Allyn: Samsung Cloud Gaming Beta (almost)
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Quakecon coverage at pcper.com/workshop. Hope to see you there!
  5. Closing/outro

Video Version:

 

Falcon Ridge Will Double Thunderbolt Bandwidth to 20Gbps

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2012 - 10:19 AM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, falcon ridge, thunderbolt controller, displayport 1.2, optical cable, redwood ridge, haswell

Intel’s Thunderbolt technology came to the Windows PC side of the computer market in a big way with high end desktop motherboards and add-in cards. The current generation “Cactus Ridge” Thunderbolt controller is able to offer up to 10Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth with either two or four PCI Express lanes as well as a DisplayPort connection that does not interfere with file transfer bandwidth. In 2014, that bandwidth may double to 20Gbps with a new Falcon Ridge controller.

With current-gen tech, Thunderbolt is based on using copper cables and electronics on either end of the cable. Right now, the cables are still fairly expensive at $50, but with new vendors the prices will hopefully go down soon. Next year we should see the Cactus Ridge successor Redwood Ridge. According to DigiTimes, this Thunderbolt controller will add support for DisplayPort 1.2 but will otherwise be very similar with 10Gbps and copper cables.  It is slated for a 2013 release, and a release coinciding with Intel’s Haswell processors and motherboards sounds logical.

Will Falcon Ridge finally give us optical-based Thunderbolt at retail?

In 2014 we will reportedly see the release of a fourth-generation Thunderbolt controller called Falcon Ridge that will offer up to 20Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth. While the cables will likely be even more expensive, I’m excited to see Thunderbolt progressing as it is a high performance transfer medium for professionals and enthusiasts. One thing that is not clear is whether Intel will be able to get DisplayPort + 20Gbps bi-directional bandwidth from copper cables. With Falcon Ridge we may well see the company finally make the move to optical cabling, which would return Thunderbolt to its initially-planned roots.

What would you do with the extra bandwidth provided by Falcon Ridge?

If you haven’t already, please check out our Thunderbolt coverage.

Source: DigiTimes

Asus Announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Updates to Tablet Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2012 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: transformer prime, transformer pad, transformer infinity, tablet, asus

ASUS recently announced that they will be bringing the latest version of Google's Android operating system – Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" to its line of Transformer tablets. Among the tablets to receive the update are the ASUS Transformer Pad, ASUS Transformer Pad Prime, and ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. They will be getting the updates within the next couple of months, and more specific release dates will be announced closer to launch, according to the company.

The Transformer Prime tablet with keyboard dock

ASUS further stated that they are continuing to evaluate the feasibility of upgrading other devices to Jelly Bean, but there is nothing official in regards to devices that will for sure get it beyond the tablets listed above.

In an email, Senior Technical marketing Manager Gary Key stated the following:

"At ASUS, one of the key commitments we make to our customers is a relentless drive to deliver the best user experience. We constantly strive to achieve this goal through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy that includes regular software and firmware updates for our products."

While I don't have a Transformer tablet myself, It's great to see that they are continuing to support their devices, unlike a certain smartphone manufacturer (heh, yeah I'm still jaded over my Infuse 4G's update situation). If you have a ASUS tablet, be on the lookout (or follow PC Per!) for the Jelly Bean updates as it has some really neat new features.

For now though, you will have to settle for watching Ryan ogle over his Nexus 7 on this week's podcast :).

Source: ASUS

Podcast #210 - Cheap 1440P Monitors, 11" Gaming Notebooks, Windows 8, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2012 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, ssd, shimian, podcast, origin, nvidia, Intel, eon11, catleap, amd, 7970

PC Perspective Podcast #210 - 07/19/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Cheap 1440P Monitors, 11" Gaming Notebooks, Windows 8, and more!

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

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

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:02:09

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:30 Introduction
  2. 0:01:30 PC Per moving to pcper.com/live
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  6. 0:03:10 Quakecon - Hardware Workshop @ pcper.com/workshop (August 4th, 2012 time TBD)
  7. 0:04:50 Join me next weekend at Fry's!!
    1. Fry's Electronics, 1077 East Arques Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:05:40 Achieva Shimian high res Korean monitor review
    2. 0:14:40 Corsair Vengeance 1300 and 1500 headset review
    3. 0:15:30 Origin EON 11-S (m11x successor) review
  1. 0:20:10 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 0:22:00 New Radeon HD 7000-series pricing
    2. 0:25:30 GPU Stock Update for July 17th
    3. 0:32:15 6GB Sapphire TOXIC Edition 7970 GHz - 1200 MHz boost speed
    4. 0:36:55 PoV launches overclocked GT 640
    5. 0:37:35 Microsoft Office 2013 (aka Office 15) Customer Preview,
    6. 0:41:30 Blue Prolimatech Megahalems HSF prototype
    7. SSD Stuff
      1. 0:42:40 Intel adds 240GB 330-series SSD, lowers prices
      2. 0:44:00 Possible MSI SandForce SSD
        1. Allyn believes this may just mean the company will integrate a mSATA SSD with it's mobos.
      3. 0:44:30: New OCZ/Indilinx Barefoot 3 SSD Controller
    8. 0:47:50 Retina MacBook Pro from a PC Perspective
    9. 0:53:00 Desktop Trinity APUs delayed
    10. 0:57:15 Microsoft Releasing Upgrade/OEM Editions for sale on October 26, 2012
  1. Closing:
    1. 0:58:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Vertex 4 special tease!!
        1. VTX4-25SAT3-64G - $69.99
        2. VTX4-25SAT3-128G - $104.99
        3. VTX4-25SAT3-256G - $199.99
        4. VTX4-25SAT3-512G - $529.99
      2. Jeremy: I really dislike installing heatsinks
      3. Josh: A kickin card for cheap
      4. Tim: Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, in the steam sale today!
  1. 01:02:10 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. 01:02:55 http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. 01:03:00 http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. 01:03:30 Quakecon coverage at pcper.com/workshop. Hope to see you there!
  5. 01:04:15 Closing/outro

 

 

Windows 8 Going on Sale October 26, 2012

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2012 - 09:33 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, software, operating system, microsoft, metro ui

As the summer continues to fly by, Microsoft is hard at work on wrapping up its upcoming Windows 8 operating system and getting it ready for final release. While the company has indicated previously that the Metro UI-powered OS would be available sometime in October, it release a more specific date today. Specifically, upgrade editions of Windows 8 as well as Windows 8-powered OEM machines will be available for purchase on October 26th, 2012.

1362.Windows-8---GA-Save-the-Date---001_65649D71.jpg

The announcement was made at an annual sales meeting by Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky today. Interestingly, the Windows Team Blog that reported on the announcement is noticeably absent of a mention for retail (not upgrade) editions of the Windows 8 operating system. That may well mean that physically packaged retail versions will not be available until a bit later in the year. Also missing is pricing; there is still no word on how much a full retail version of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro will cost. Even so, considering Microsoft is making upgrade editions available to anyone with a previous (licensed) version of Windows for $39.99, the retail versions are going to be pretty difficult to justify as they will likely cost much more than the upgrades.

Are you ready for Windows 8?

So much for gamers enthusiasm about PCIe 3.0

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2012 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, pci 3.0, gaming

[H]ard|OCP has some bad news for current or expecting Ivy Bridge users; that whole PCIe 3.0 thing is not going to make your games run faster.  It is not unexpected that a newly introduced technology has little to no impact when first released but since this was an update to a basic piece of architecture there were hopes that we would see an effect. During their testing only two games showed any improvement and those could be attributed to the Ivy Bridge processor its self and not PCIe 3.0.  There are other reasons to upgrade to Ivy Bridge but if your main drive is to take advantage of a PCIe 3.0 compliant GPU, CPU and motherboard then you might want to hold off.  PCIe SSDs on the other hand should show some differences when contrasted with the previous architecture.

pcie3.0.jpg

"Wondering about upgrading to the new Ivy Bridge CPU and PCI Express 3.0 platform? Curious to know if you'll be gaining or losing performance? We compare single, dual-GPU, triple-GPU, single, and multiple display configurations on Ivy Bridge PCIe 3.0 and Sandy Bridge on PCIe 2.0 platforms."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP