I knew him; IDF, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2017 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: Intel, idf

It is not a post-PC world but it is now officially a post-IDF world as Intel announces they are too diverse to host such a PC-centric conference.  It was 20 years ago today that the first IDF was held in Beijing and Intel announced some time ago the cancellation of this years event in China, however until today they had still planned to hold their scheduled event in San Francisco.  The rationale offered is Intel's expansion into FPGAs, Optane storage, IoT devices, wireless communications and other fields pushes them beyond the scope traditionally represented at the IDF.  Why cancellation of the event in preference of broadening the scope is not explained in their announcement.  Ars Technica has related links here.

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"While the company earlier said that it would not have a Chinese event, the San Francisco IDF was still being planned, albeit with a "new format," in the early months of 2017. It appears now that this 'new format' is in fact 'non-existence.'"

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Source: Ars Technica

Syberia II Is "On The House"

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2017 - 09:57 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, microids, ea

I’m apparently about a month late on this one, but it’s better than never for those who, like me, missed the news the first time around. Syberia II is a point-and-click adventure title from 2004 and it is currently “On The House” through EA’s Origin service. These promotions would be the same as if EA had a timed, 100%-off sale: claim it before it’s over and it’s yours for free, permanently.

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It might not be around for long, though. I’m guessing this deal is to promote the upcoming Syberia III, which was originally announced in 2009 and should launch in about a week or two (depending on your region). If this sort of game interests you in any way, and especially if you have an active Origin account, then it’s a good idea to add Syberia II to your games library, even if you don’t plan on installing it right away.

Source: EA (Origin)

Cloudy with Microsoft; the new Chrome OS competitor?

Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface 3, Project Scorpio, windows 10 cloud

From what The Inquirer has been able to find out, the Microsoft event taking place next month will not herald the release of the Surface Book 2, Surface Pro 5 nor the Surface Phone. 
It is quite likely we will see a new low cost Surface 3 device announced as well as more information on Project Scorpio.  This should also offer the first details on the new OS that Microsoft has been working on to challenge ChromeOS in low cost devices.  Windows 10 Cloud, also known as Bespin, will be a low cost OS which runs Windows Universal apps and will be aimed at students and those who want small inexpensive devices for light computing usage.  Check out more details here.

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"Microsoft sent out cryptic invites on Wednesday (we're still waiting for ours) which suggests there will be an education focus at the event, with the invite sporting 'Learn what's next' caption and '#MicrosoftEdu' hashtag."

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Source: The Inquirer

Besiege your friends on custom levels

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2017 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Besiege, Spiderling Games

Remember Besiege, the game which allowed you to create your own engines of destruction and which lead to an influx of rather amusing videos of successful and not so successful inventions.  Spiderling Games have announced that they will be releasing an update which will allow you to design custom levels and invite up to 7 friends to join you in that level.  As you can see from the video below you can work together or battle it out after creating your particular machine.  Drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more details.

"Multiplayer and a level editor are coming to physics-based warmachine workshop Besiege later this year, developers Spiderling Games have announced."

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It has been a while since the last legal battle but Qualcomm may be our next contender

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2017 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: sueball, qualcomm, Intel, blackberry, apple

Ah, the old days of Microsoft versus governments, Apple and Samsung, Intel and AMD, SCO and ... well just about everyone; lately there has not been much legal vitriol in the headlines.  This may change as Qualcomm is now involved in several suits which are likely to become high profile.  First up is what may be the driving force behind their need to seek restitution from Apple; they were just ordered to pay Blackberry $815 million after that company was successful in their legal battle to dispute certain royalty payments.  Even a company as large as Qualcomm is going to feel the pain from that.

On to the real upcoming battle royal, featuring Apple and Qualcomm over the iPhone 7.  It seems that Apple has taken offence to Qualcomm's claims that Apple handicapped their chip to ensure it did not out perform the models which contained an Intel chipset.  Qualcomm released a large rebuttal to the lawsuit which Apple launched this January which you can read about at Ars Technica, or follow the link to read the entire document.  This may prove to be the next interesting technological legal battle, stay tuned for more.

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"For example, Qualcomm’s technological contributions enable popular smartphone apps such as Uber, Snapchat, Spotify, Apple Music, Skype, Google Maps, and Pokémon GO, among others."

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Source: Ars Technica

UNIGINE Superposition GPU Stress Test Released

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, UNIGINE, unigine 2

There are quite a few game engines available these days. Unity stepped up its game and Epic Games, Crytek, Amazon, and others entered the market with various free-to-start licensing options. Back in the early DirectX 11 days, UNIGINE released their popular Heaven benchmark to promote their engine, which had a relatively affordable, up-front fee. (I don’t remember what it was at the time, but the engine currently starts at $1495 USD, albeit royalty-free.)

Available up to 8K60, because lol why not?

Today, they have released a new benchmark, called Superposition, which focuses on two things: VR and GPU stress testing. The setting is some old-timey physics lab, and it includes some minigames to keep you entertained after you determined that your overclock is stable and your performance is assigned some value. According to Phoronix, UNIGINE has been looking into Vulkan, but they haven’t added it to the engine yet. On Linux, you’ll be using OpenGL 4.5, but Windows has a choice between that and DirectX 11.

UNIGINE Superposition is available for Windows and Linux.

Source: UNIGINE

SK Hynix has huge stacks of NAND

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, 72 layer, tlc

SK Hynix have created an impressive die which has 72 layers of TLC 3D NAND.  The storage density of their chips are somewhat lower than the competition, this particular chip sports 256Gb of capacity.  This is due to the larger size of SK Hynix's cells, which has the benefit of allowing more layers than other manufacturers have been able to successfully create.  The Register was told that compared to the previous generation of 48 layer NAND you could expect to see up to a 20% increase in read and write speeds, another benefit to their new process.  To think, it was just a year ago that Al first introduced us to what 3D NAND would mean to the PC industry.

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"Korean flash fabber SK Hynix has built a 72-layer 3D NAND die with 256Gb capacity. That number of layers, in effect a higher-rise flash chip than anybody else has built, is impressive but the 256Gb capacity is not; Toshiba's 64-layer flash die has a 512Gb capacity. Like the SK Hynix chip, it is a TLC (3bits/cell) device. It started sample shipping in February."

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Source: The Register

EpicGear's Morpha X gaming mouse, you can swap the sensors and switches as well as the weight

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2017 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: epicgear, Morpha X, gaming mouse, input, ADNS-9800, PMW3360, pixart

Modular gaming mice with changeable weights and shells have become common; ones that allow you to switch the sensor on the other hand are rather rare.  EpicGear's Morpha X lets you do exactly that, it comes with two PixArt sensors, a PMW3360 optical sensor and an ADNS-9800 laser sensor.  The Tech Report strongly suggests disconnecting the mouse when swapping sensors to avoid any possibility to need to reset the mouse.  It is not just the sensors you can swap, the mouse ships with several Omron D2F switches of varying colours as well as a tool to help swap them.  The mouse is a little pricey but for those with a strong opinion as to which sensors and swiches are the best, this mouse is worth a look.

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"EpicGear's Morpha X gaming mouse offers a wealth of customization options, from its shell to its sensor to its RGB LED accent lighting. We swapped out every component and tested every setting to see whether the Morpha X delivers a spot in the gaming-peripheral hall of fame."

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Another successful VLAN thanks to the Fragging Frogs, AMD and PCPer

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2017 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

The Fragging Frogs' VLAN 15 was a success, wrapping up early Sunday morning as the final golfers headed for the 19th hole.  At its peak we had over 50 people on simultaneously, with 70 unique participants joining throughout the event.  There were over a dozen games played, from newer releases such as Rocket League, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Escape from Tarkov through classics like TF2 and UT2K4 as well as some games only the truly odd can love like Dino D-Day.

Prizes included four motherboards, a cooler, a case and a keyboard which have all featured in reviews here at PCPer as well as a Ryzen 7 1700 straight from AMD.  You should drop by the forum thread to pass on your appreciation of the contributions mmettin, Brandito and of course Lenny, without whom these events would not be possible. 

Hope you had fun at VLAN 15, if you didn't make it this time we hope to see you for the next one!

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Build and Upgrade Components

Spring is in the air! And while many traditionally use this season for cleaning out their homes, what could be the point of reclaiming all of that space besides filling it up again with new PC hardware and accessories? If you answered, "there is no point, other than what you just said," then you're absolutely right. Spring a great time to procrastinate about housework and build up a sweet new gaming PC (what else would you really want to use that tax return for?), so our staff has listed their favorite PC hardware right now, from build components to accessories, to make your life easier. (Let's make this season far more exciting than taking out the trash and filing taxes!)

While our venerable Hardware Leaderboard has been serving the PC community for many years, it's still worth listing some of our favorite PC hardware for builds at different price points here.

Processors - the heart of the system.

No doubt about it, AMD's Ryzen CPU launch has been the biggest news of the year so far for PC enthusiasts, and while the 6 and 4-core variants are right around the corner the 8-core R7 processors are still a great choice if you have the budget for a $300+ CPU. To that end, we really like the value proposition of the Ryzen R7 1700, which offers much of the performance of its more expensive siblings for a really compelling price, and can potentially be overclocked to match the higher-clocked members of the Ryzen lineup, though moving up to either the R7 1700X or R7 1800X will net you higher clocks (without increasing voltage and power draw) out of the box.

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Really, any of these processors are going to provide a great overall PC experience with incredible multi-threaded performance for your dollar in many applications, and they can of course handle any game you throw at them - with optimizations already appearing to make them even better for gaming.

Don't forget about Intel, which has some really compelling options starting even at the very low end (Pentium G4560, when you can find one in stock near its ~$60 MSRP), thanks to their newest Kaby Lake CPUs. The high-end option from Intel's 7th-gen Core lineup is the Core i7-7700K (currently $345 on Amazon), which provides very fast gaming performance and plenty of power if you don't need as many cores as the R7 1700 (or Intel's high-end LGA-2011 parts). Core i5 processors provide a much more cost-effective way to power a gaming system, and an i5-7500 is nearly $150 less than the Core i7 while providing excellent performance if you don't need an unlocked multiplier or those additional threads.

Continue reading our Spring Buyer's Guide for selections of graphics cards, motherboards, memory and more!