NZXT & ASUS Stand Together with Noctis 450 ROG

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2017 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: asus, nxzt, ASUS ROG, Noctis 450 ROG

NXZT have just announce a case which is part of the ASUS ROG family, the Noctis 450 ROG.  In this case ROG also means RGB, the main feature to the case is Aura Sync which controls lighting effects on the case which can be synchronized with Aura certified motherboards.  The case RGB LEDs attached to the power, PSU shroud, two internal LED strips and even underglow as seen on the cars of people with questionable taste a few decades back.

450 front.jpg

There is more to the case that this however, the front and top panels can mount radiators up to 360mm in size, all the intakes are filtered and the case is described as having 80% more cable management space than existing cases. It also includes an integrated PWM fan controller with an impressive 8 ports.  The case will be available in February at a cost of $180.

450 side.PNG

450 specs.PNG

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Source: NZXT

CES 2017: ASUS Announces VivoMini PCs

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: vivomini, SFF, CES 2017, CES, asus

ASUS has just announced three mini PCs at CES. Each of them run Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, but they otherwise differ from one in terms of specifications, such as the number of drives, how they are connected, and so forth. Prices range from $275 up to $799, although that comparison ignores who each specific product targets, so read on for more detail below.



The UN65U make up the cheapest units of the product stack, ranging from $275 to $449 USD and available in Q1 2017. Interestingly, it also allows for up-to 512GB of SSD to be connected through M.2 via PCIe Express, and that can be expanded upon with up to 1TB of 2.5-inch HDD. The design is based on their “spun metal” pattern, common for their laptops and smartphones, which I, personally, like the look of. The device can output 4K UHD via the integrated GPU, and it comes with 802.11ac WiFi built-in. ASUS has suggested using this machine as either a home theatre PC or as a small business terminal.

Asus-2017-ces-VM65_1 (1).jpg


The VM65 ups the graphics performance a little, including an NVIDIA GeForce 930M with Optimus technology. It apparently doesn’t have support for M.2 hard drives, but it can mount two, 2.5-inch drives, either SSD or HDD. It also has built-in WiFi and three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. It is expected to cost $549 USD and it also ships in Q1 2017.



The VC66 apparently goes back to integrated graphics, but allows both M.2 and two 2.5-inch drives, either SSD or HDD, and they can be joined with built-in RAID. It also has quite a few connectivity options: DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. It seems like they’re aiming this at businesses primarily, though, especially with the ability to remotely update its BIOS. Prices range from $499 to $799, and it ships in February 2017.

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Source: ASUS

Meet AMD's new chipset, the X300 and X370

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2017 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: x370, x300, ryzen, CES 2017, CES, amd, AM4

Tonight at CES AMD announced 16 new AM4 motherboards from five manufacturers and new PCs from over a dozen system builders.  The motherboards will all bring support for dual channel DDR4 memory, NVMe, M.2 SATA devices and USB 3.1 support for AMD users. You can also expect at least 24 lanes of PCIe 3.0, perhaps more if we can spot some with bridge chips.

The MSI A320 Pro-VD and B350 Tomahawk (not to scale)


MSI will be showing off their A320M Pro-VD, X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, B350 Tomahawk and B350M Mortar. 

Gigabyte's GA-X370 Gaming K5, GA-AX370-Gaming 5 and GA-AB350-Gaming 3.


The gang should have updates on the full lineup soon including the Gigabyte A320M-HD3 not pictured above.

Biostar's X370 GT7 TOP and B350 GT3 TOP


ASRock's ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming and X370 Taichi.


There are more models on display and ASUS did announce the Asus B350M-C though we did not yet get a picture of it.  All motherboards will offer compatibility with at least some existing coolers, we know for a fact that Corsair's Hydro H60, H100i and H110i as well as Noctua's NH-U12S, NHL9x65 and D15 will all be supported.


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Source: AMD

G.SKILL Announces New DDR4 for Kaby Lake

Subject: Memory, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2017 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: G.Skill, ddr4, ddr4-4266, ddr4-4133, G.Skill Trident Z

Kaby Lake CPUs and the associated Z270 motherboards can handle DDR4 frequencies higher than we have seen previously, good news for overclocking enthusiasts.  G.SKILL may be first past the post with new DIMMs, you can pick up their Trident Z DDR4-4266 DIMMs on NewEgg right now, $230 for a 16GB dual channel kit


This extra speed does come with an associated cost, they rate the voltage of these modules higher than you would expect from DDR4 at 1.4V as opposed to the 1.35 we are accustomed to and you should keep this in mind when shopping for a motherboard.  It will be interesting to see if these extremely high frequencies have any noticeable effect in gaming performance however they are already breaking records, 8 world records and 21 global first place records. 


You can see the various frequencies and timings currently available, expect to see more companies announcing new DIMMs very soon.

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Source: G.SKILL

ASUS Announces the Chromebook Flip C302

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 4, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: asus, CES, CES 2017, Chromebook, Flip C302

ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 weighs a mere 2.65lbs and is just 13.7mm at it's thickest point. The 12.5" touchscreen display is 1080p and can be rotated 360° for use as a tablet in the same way their Yoga series can. 


The chiclet style keyboard is backlit, thankfully not in a billion different colours, and travel a distance of 1.4mm for ease of use on such a small device.  The trackpad is a little larger than we have seen on other models and thankfully includes enhanced palm rejection as you are going to brush it while you are typing. 


Connectivity is provided by a pair of USB 3.1 Type C ports, microSD, 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.  The frequency of the Core m3 processor inside will depend on the model you chose, as well as the amount of RAM, the maximum being 8GB.  The base model is available now, you can order it for $499.


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Source: ASUS

Patriot offers a range of new keyboards, mice, headsets and even SD cards at CES 2017

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 3, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: Viper V570 RGB, V770 RGB, V730, V530 RGB, V370 RGB, V361 LED, V330, patriot, CES 2017, CES

First up from Patriot are a pair of RGB mice, the Viper V570 and V530.  The $60 V570 contains an Avago 9800 laser sensor which can be set as high as 12,000dpi with a sniper button that reduces it to 400dpi while you hold it for those moments you need a little less sensitivity.  All told there are 13 programmable macro buttons, perfect for MMORPGs and more than enough for other types of games.  It can also give you up to 16.8 million different LED colours.

The $30 V530 uses an Avago 3050 optical sensor with a maximum dpi setting of 4000, not quite the range of the V570 but more than enough for many users.  With seven programmable buttons it still offers more functionality than most users want, as will the half dozen colours the LEDs are capable of.


Next up is the refreshed headset lineup, the Viper V370 RGB headset, V361 LED headset and the V330 stereo headsets.  The $70 V370 and $50 V361 are virtual 7.1 surround sound USB headsets with 40mm neodymium drivers and an additional 30mm sub-driver for bass boost.  The V370 sports the full spectrum of colours on its LEDs, the V361 will glow red when in use. 

The V330 stereo headset uses the same 40mm drivers but lacks the extra sub-driver and connects via 3.5mm audio jack, with an included splitter when you need them separated.  It will also offer a unique feature, the complete and utter lack of RGB disease.


Speaking of things which create noise, Patriot has two new mechanical keyboards on display at CES, the V770 RGB and V730.  The $150 V770 uses Kailh Red switches and has five programmable macro buttons on the very left of the keyboard.  As with most new products this year, the RGB disease on this device is full blown, not only does the keyboard offer 16.8 million colours and individually customizable keys but there is also an LED strip on the removable wrist rest.

The $80 V730 utilizes Kailh Brown switches and a red glow from the LEDs, with six different patterns as well as six brightness settings.  It also sports a wrist rest, this one without the light strip.  It is a decent introductory mechanical keyboard, for those unsure if they want to invest over $100 on a keyboard they might not even like.


The last product announcement is a little different, a 256GB model of their LX Series line of microSDXC cards. The SDXC provisioning allows for such high capacity and the Class 10, U3 qualified rating will allow you to fill it in a reasonable amount of time; Patriot quotes sequential speeds of up to 90MB/s read and 80MB/s write.  If you are curious, you can refer to Al's post on SD cards and their various specifications.


Keep an eye out for updates once we hit the Patriot booth.


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Source: Patriot

ZOTAC AT CES 2017 - Thunderbolt 3 Zbox, TB3 external GPU dock

Subject: Shows and Expos | December 30, 2016 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: zotac, ZBOX C, zbox, SFF, GTX 1080 Mini, external gpu, CES 2017

Zotac have hinted at three new products they will be showing off at CES this year.  The first is an updated ZBOX family which will feature Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for new monitors, high bandwidth external storage or perhaps even an external GPU.  It will be powered by a Kaby Lake processor and will be passively cooled, offering great performance in small and silent form factor.


The second offering will be an enclosure for an external GPU, offering 16x PCIe 3.0 bandwidth thanks to the TB3 connection to your machine.  It also provides three USB 3.0 ports and a Quick Charge 3.0 USB port for your mobile devices.  Inside is a 400W PSU which can be used to power your system


Last up is a tiny version of a GTX 1080, which doesn't skimp on the power.  It has a base clock of 1620 MHz and Boost of 1759 MHz, with a full 8GB of memory running at 5GHz.  The PR does not give the measurements of the card but as you can see below it is about half again as long as the PCI slot it plugs into and remains a two slot card.


HONG KONG – December 30, 2016 – ZOTAC International, a global manufacturer of innovation, is pleased to bring 10 years of design excellence to CES 2017 and showcase innovative VR and commercial solutions. A strong lineup including ZOTAC’s first Thunderbolt 3 Mini PC and External VGA box will be on show at One-Story Sky Villa, Palms Casino Resort. “We believe the future of computing should be flexible,” says Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International. “Our next generation of computing products enables users to get the best of mobile and stationary experience.”

New Productivity Levels with new Mini PCs
The next generation of high speed and versatile connection has arrived on ZOTAC Mini PCs with next generation Intel Kaby Lake processors and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Thunderbolt 3 delivers more transfer speed, more charging power and more compatible protocols. Richer display colors, lightning data transfer speed and a wide range of expansions become available with this new protocol.

The new ZBOX Mini PCs also introduce greater productive functionality with Intel vPRO and UNITE features. UNITE is introduced for the first time in ZOTAC Mini PCs, enabling it to become a platform for secure conference connections. Furthermore, it retains the functions of Intel vPRO and AMT, providing the convenience of deep repairs and maintenance through a remote connection. Intel Kaby Lake processors and GeForce GTX graphics are paired for the first time to make gaming Mini PCs more powerful and even more power efficient.

Unlock Potential Performance with External Graphics Dock
The external graphics dock enables a device equipped with Thunderbolt 3 port to greatly enhance its graphical processing capabilities and expand its functionalities. The ZOTAC external graphics dock (tentative) comes with a PCIE 3.0 slot , 3 standard USB 3.0 ports and 1 Quick Charge 3.0 enabled USB 3.0 port. This enables users to take advantage of the latest in battery technology in their supported devices such as smartphones and tablets.

“Our goal is to turn low power and ultra-portable Windows devices such as notebooks and mini PCs into performance racecars,” says Danny Wong, Director of Product Management, ZOTAC International. “The external graphics dock enables any device equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports to take full advantage of the transfer speed and bandwidth, potentially becoming exponentially more powerful.”

The external graphics dock also serves as a power source with a 400W power supply, meaning it can directly power a connected mini PC or supported system. Only a single Thunderbolt 3 type-C cable connection is needed for both power and data transfer on supported devices. All these features allow the dock to become a literal powerhouse for any notebooks or mini PCs. See it in action at ZOTAC’s suite.

Explore New Territories with VR GO
As the VR GO hits the shelves, there is no better time to demonstrate what VR GO does that makes the difference.

The ZOTAC VR GO is designed for a truly mobile VR experience. From hardware to comfort, every detail is considered. VR GO provides powerful yet efficient performance with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics and Intel Core i7 processor. Hardware and thermal design enable marathon playtime with comfort and minimal noise.


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Source: Zotac

Recordings of Valve's Steam Dev Days Now on YouTube

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

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


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

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

Thanks Phoronix for finding these.

IDF 2016: Intel Project Alloy Promises Untethered VR and AR Experiences

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Displays, Shows and Expos | August 16, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: VR, virtual reality, project alloy, Intel, augmented reality, AR

At the opening keynote to this summer’s Intel Developer Forum, CEO Brian Krzanich announced a new initiative to enable a completely untether VR platform called Project Alloy. Using Intel processors and sensors the goal of Project Alloy is to move all of the necessary compute into the headset itself, including enough battery to power the device for a typical session, removing the need for a high powered PC and a truly cordless experience.


This is indeed the obvious end-game for VR and AR, though Intel isn’t the first to demonstrate a working prototype. AMD showed the Sulon Q, an AMD FX-based system that was a wireless VR headset. It had real specs too, including a 2560x1440 OLED 90Hz display, 8GB of DDR3 memory, an AMD FX-8800P APU with R7 graphics embedded. Intel’s Project Alloy is currently using unknown hardware and won’t have a true prototype release until the second half of 2017.

There is one key advantage that Intel has implemented with Alloy: RealSense cameras. The idea is simple but the implications are powerful. Intel demonstrated using your hands and even other real-world items to interact with the virtual world. RealSense cameras use depth sensing to tracking hands and fingers very accurately and with a device integrated into the headset and pointed out and down, Project Alloy prototypes will be able to “see” and track your hands, integrating them into the game and VR world in real-time.


The demo that Intel put on during the keynote definitely showed the promise, but the implementation was clunky and less than what I expected from the company. Real hands just showed up in the game, rather than representing the hands with rendered hands that track accurately, and it definitely put a schism in the experience. Obviously it’s up to the application developer to determine how your hands would actually be represented, but it would have been better to show case that capability in the live demo.  


Better than just tracking your hands, Project Alloy was able to track a dollar bill (why not a Benjamin Intel??!?) and use it to interact with a spinning lathe in the VR world. It interacted very accurately and with minimal latency – the potential for this kind of AR integration is expansive.

Those same RealSense cameras and data is used to map the space around you, preventing you from running into things or people or cats in the room. This enables the first “multi-room” tracking capability, giving VR/AR users a new range of flexibility and usability.


Though I did not get hands on with the Alloy prototype itself, the unit on-stage looked pretty heavy, pretty bulky. Comfort will obviously be important for any kind of head mounted display, and Intel has plenty of time to iterate on the design for the next year to get it right. Both AMD and NVIDIA have been talking up the importance of GPU compute to provide high quality VR experiences, so Intel has an uphill battle to prove that its solution, without the need for external power or additional processing, can truly provide the untethered experience we all desire.

MSI AEGIS, the World's Fiercest Mobile Gaming Barebone PC Series

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2016 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: msi, gaming desktop, computex 2016, aegis x, aegis


MSI has released more information about their new non-backpack model systems, the Aegis Gaming Desktops.  There will be two models, the basic with a B150 motherboard, a Silent Storm 2 air cooling system and support for Intel CPUs of up to 65W TDP.  The Aegis X will sport a Z170 motherboard and Silent Storm 2 Pro watercooling, with support for up to 95W TDP processors such as the 6700K. 


Both support M.2 SSDs along with 2.5/3.5" drives and sport a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, although only the Aegis X has the second generation port. The two systems support both wired, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the base model uses Intel and Realtek while the X uses a Killer product for both wired and wireless.  With base prices of $400 and $500 respectively you get a decent deal for a motherboard, a 600W 80 PLUS Gold PSU and a decent looking case with some impressive features.


The Aegis X also comes with one touch overclocking, aka the Dragon OC button which boost speeds by 15%.  MSI's Mystic Light LED system is on both systems, the second most popular thing at this year's Computex is the ability to offer 16 million different colours with different modes and patterns. 


The Aegis X features the most popular feature at the conference, it is VR Ready.  In this particular case, since both are bare bones products is that there is a front mounted HDMI and USB 3.1 support.  This feature is handy for those of us with head mounted displays but it is quickly approaching the point where toasters and Josh's favourite wand will be advertised as VR Ready.


Click to read through the original PR.

Source: MSI