Going back for a third serving of Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 22, 2018 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: sbc, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi, gigabit ethernet, dual band, bluetooth, 802.11ac

Tim did a great write up of the new hardware found in the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ which you should check out below if you missed.  Technical specifications are only the first step as we still need to see how the new 1.4GHz Cortex A53's perform in benchmarks and Phoronix have published just that.  They compared the Pi 3 to a variety of chips including the previous model, ASUS' Tinkerboard, the two Jetson boards, a few Celerons and even a Core i3.  Overall the chip showed an advantage over the previous model; not earth shattering but as the price remains at $35 for the Pi 3 that is still a good deal.

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"I've been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance."

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Source: Phoronix

A 'rippen AMD system from Chillblast

Subject: Systems | March 2, 2018 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: Chillblast, Threadripper, gtx 1080 ti, amd, Fusion Centauri

Are you the type of person that is always running low on threads, PCIe lanes and VRAM?  Then Chillblast has a system for you!  Inside is a watercooled Threadripper 1950X, 64GB of DDR4-2666, two watercooled ASUS GTX 1080 Ti's, a 1TB Samsung 960 PRO M.2 for your systems and a wee little 10TB Seagate Barracuda HDD for storage.  Sure it will run you about £7,500, or just a hair over $10,000USD, but if you want to play all the things in 4k you need to spend a bit of cash.  Check out Kitguru's full review here.

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"The new Threadripper processors from AMD already push the envelope when it comes to multi-threaded performance, and the Chillblast Fusion Centauri Ryzen Threadripper Ultimate takes the red team’s fantastic hardware and pairs it with a stupendous, eye-catching build"

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Source: Kitguru

Airtop2 Inferno: Compact Fanless Gaming PC Featuring a Core i7-7700K and GTX 1080

Subject: Systems | February 14, 2018 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: small form factor, silent, SFF, nvidia, mini PC, Intel, Inferno, GTX 1080, gaming, fanless, core i7 7700k, compulab, Airtop2

Compulab, maker of mini systems such as the fitlet and Airtop is bringing the compact, fanless concept to a powerful gaming system - with no less than an Intel Core i7-7700K and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. The catch? Is is not yet available, pending an upcoming Kickstarter campaign beginning February 24.

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The teaser image of the upcoming Airtop2 Inferno fanless gaming system

The Airtop2 is already available for purchase in a fanless workstation version, built-to-order with up to an Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6 and NVIDIA Quadro P4000 (starting at $2575 for that configuration before adding memory/storage), and this new "Inferno" version of the Airtop2 promises to be very interesting to silent computing enthusiasts.

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Front and rear views of the Inferno system

A fanless gaming system with high-end components is only going to be as effective as its cooling system, and here Compulab has a lot of experience on the industrial/embedded side of things.

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Exploded view of the standard Airtop2 design (no images of the Airtop2 Inferno interior available yet)

Compulab lists these specs for the Airtop2 Inferno (along with the teaser, "and a little more..."):

  • Unlocked Intel Core-i7 7700K
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
  • Up to 64 GB DDR4 2400 RAM
  • 2x NVMe + 4x 2.5″ SSD / HDD
  • 2x USB 3.1 + 7x USB 3.0 | dual LAN | front (and back) audio

Compulab has also provided some benchmark results to demonstrate how effective their fanless implementation of these components is, with results using 3DMark and Unigine Heaven available on the Inferno product page.

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The company has set up a Q&A page for the Airtop2 Inferno, but pricing/availability info will probably have to wait until February 24th when the Kickstarter campaign is active.

Source: Compulab

CES 2018: Digital Storm Announces Project SPARK PCs

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, small form factor, project spark, Digital Storm, desktop pc

Digital Storm has just announced a new water-cooled, enthusiast PC, called Project SPARK. As the video shows, the device is about the width of a coffee mug and its handle, although it’s a bit deeper and taller. This cuts down on the amount of surface area the PC covers, which matters more than height for something that sits on a desk. The specs? Up to an Intel Core i7-8700k and an NVIDIA GTX 1080.

One of the interesting aspects of Project SPARK is that it is also user-upgradable. Digital Storm designed the system to have an accessible CPU and GPU, not just RAM and storage (but those are, of course, accessible too). Speaking of storage, the PC uses up to 3x M.2 SSDs. I should note that the PC uses MXM slot GPUs, so you can’t just plug in a triple-slot PCIe card in there… but, come on. You’re buying a small form factor PC.

The Digital Storm Project SPARK launches in Q2 with prices starting at $1299 USD (GTX 1060 SKU).

CES 2018: New ASUS Mini PCs, Chromebox, and Tinker Board

Subject: Systems | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Tinker Board 3, tinker board, small form factor, SFF, PN40, PB40, mini PC, Chromebox 3, Chromebox, CES 2018, CES, asus

ASUS has four new small form-factor devices on display at CES, with mini-PC hardware as well as a new Chromebox 3 and Tinker Board 3. We start with the mini-PCs:

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ASUS PB40 mini PC

“The ASUS PB40 mini PC offers unparalleled connectivity with up to six USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ ports and a flexible I/O port design with VGA/DP/COM/HDMI support. Its metallic chassis houses the latest 8th Generation Intel Pentium® Silver processor for powerful performance. The PB40 is also offered in a fanless design with Intel Celeron® processors for completely silent operation. In addition to its compact design, the PB40 supports optional stackable modules such as optical drives to provide space-saving versatility for a wide range of usage scenarios.”

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ASUS PN40 mini PC

“Powered by 8th Generation Intel Pentium Silver and Celeron processors, the new ASUS PN40 mini PC features a sliding bottom case design for easy upgrades. Compact and lightweight, it measures 114 x 114 x 49mm and weighs just 1.54lbs. With a wide range of connectivity options including USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C for fast data transmission, and a changeable I/O port for VGA or COM support, the PN40 is ideal for both home entertainment and business solutions.”

Next we have the third-generation Chromebox, ASUS's Chrome OS mini-PC:

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ASUS Chromebox 3

“ASUS Chromebox 3 is the latest addition to the ASUS Chromebox family and is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and DDR4-2400 memory for faster, smoother and more energy-efficient performance. It is equipped with a versatile USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port for quick data transfers, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and Gigabit LAN for faster streaming along with DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity for 4K UHD playback of your favorite videos.”

Finally we have the new Tinker Board S, with "S" clearly meaning storage here as this new Tinker Board adds 16GB of onboard eMMC. This should make getting a project started that much easier as the previous design only offered a memory card slot, requiring a microSD card of at least 8GB.

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ASUS Tinker Board S

“The new Tinker Board S features 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage, while retaining the same board size and component placement as the original Tinker Board.”

Availability for all of these products - PB40, PN40, Chromebox 3, and Tinker Board S - is expected in the first half of 2018, with pricing to be announced at launch.

Source: ASUS

CES 2018: ASUS ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition and G703 Gaming Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Strix SKT T1, strix, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebook, laptop, gaming, g703, CES 2018, CES, asus

ASUS has a pair of laptops from their Republic of Gamers lineup at CES this year, and we'll begin with the ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition, a limited-edition laptop which "marks the first collaboration between ROG and top eSports team SK Telecom T1". 

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In addition to bundled ROG/SK Telecom T1 co-branded swag (team jersey, mouse pad, posters) the laptop itself has been externally designed to reflect its affiliation. Hardware reflects its MOBA-inspired gaming approach, which includes an unspecified Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, and 120 Hz IPS display (which offers 100% sRGB coverage). The keyboard features N-key rollover, upgraded switches with "20-million-keystroke durability", and RGB lighting.

Next we have the massive 17-inch ROG G703, which was launched back in November, and is "the world's first gaming laptop with an ultra-smooth 17.3-inch Full HD wide-view display with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology for a 144Hz refresh rate" according to ASUS.

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The ROG G703 is powered by an Intel Core i7-7820HK processor which is factory-overclocked for speeds of up to 4.3 GHz, and no less than an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (with a top clock of 1974 MHz) handles gaming duties. The biggest part of the laptop (literally) is the display, as ASUS explains:

"High-refresh-rate displays provide the fluidity and responsiveness demanded by top eSports gamers and enthusiasts, so ROG also created ROG Strix Scar Edition with a 144Hz panel and GTX 1070 graphics. ASUS has also introduced high-refresh-rate displays into the mainstream gaming market with the FX503 laptop, which features a 15.6-inch Full HD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics."

The ROG G703 also offers built-in Xbox Wireless capability, freeing up USB ports when connecting Microsoft's gaming controllers.

The ROG G703 is available now with an MSRP starting at $3499, and ASUS says the ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition will carry an MSRP of $1699 with availability in Q1 2018.

Source: ASUS

CES 2018: ASUS Announces New Consumer Laptops and AiO PCs

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: ZenBook 13, notebook, laptop, desktop, CES 2018, CES, asus vivo, asus, all in one, AIO

The consumer PC annoucements from ASUS include a pair of new consumer notebooks with the ZenBook 13 (model UX331UAL) and ASUS Laptop X507, along with a pair of Vivo all-in-one desktops.

We start with the ZenBook 13 notebook, a lightweight (2.17 lb) with up to 15 hours of battery life according to ASUS.

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ZenBook 13 (UX331UAL)

“The elegantly designed ZenBook 13 is a Windows 10 laptop that's ultralight and powerful. It's designed to provide users the ultimate in mobility, featuring a feather-light 2.17lb all-metal chassis and up to 15-hour battery life. And despite its compact design, ZenBook 13 doesn't compromise on performance. Its 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB PCIe SSD lets users blast through all their tasks with ease, and its Harman Kardon audio system delivers powerful immersive sound.”

Next is a more mainstream notebook option with the device called simply ASUS Laptop X507.

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ASUS Laptop X507

“Offering easy portability and uncompromising performance for daily computing, the stylish ASUS Laptop X507 is powered by a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce MX110 graphics and a flexible, convenient dual-storage design. With its slim-bezel NanoEdge Full HD display for unbounded visuals and Windows 10, ASUS Laptop X507 is the ideal laptop for daily computing and entertainment.”

A pair of AiO desktops are next up, with 27 and 22 inch options.

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Vivo AiO V272

“Vivo AiO V272 features an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics for uncompromising performance. The 27-inch multitouch display has a wide 100% sRGB color gamut and 178˚ wide-view technology for truly great visuals and combines with the ASUS SonicMaster audio system with its bass-reflex speakers to offer a superb entertainment experience. The ASUS ZenAnywhere app gives users effortless remote access, and turns Vivo AiO V272 into a personal cloud storage center. Windows 10 provides a secure and familiar computing experience, including Cortana’s voice recognition capability for more efficient and productive computing."

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ASUS Vivo AiO V222

“Vivo AiO V222 has a frameless 22-inch Full HD display that features edge-to-edge visuals. Combined with its advanced ASUS SonicMaster bass-reflex speaker system, exclusive ASUS Splendid and Tru2Life Video technologies, Vivo AiO V222 delivers immersive visuals with crystal-clear audio for the ultimate entertainment experience. The ASUS ZenAnywhere app gives users effortless remote access, and turns Vivo AiO V222 into a personal cloud storage center. Windows 10 provides a secure and familiar computing experience, including Cortana’s voice recognition capability for productive computing.”

All four of these new systems are set for release in the first half of 2018, with pricing to be announced at launch.

Source: ASUS

CES 2018: ASUS ROG Strix GL12 Gaming Desktop Announced

Subject: Systems | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: CES, ROG, nvidia, Intel, GTX 1080, geforce, coffee lake, asus, CES 2018

ASUS has just announced a high-end gaming desktop: the ROG Strix GL12. It looks like it will be a standard mid-tower form factor with a highly stylized design and, of course, RGB lights. They will pair with Aura Sync, so you make your case match your keyboard and pretty much whatever else you have from ASUS with RGB lights in it.

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The main selling feature of the system, however, is the factory-overclocked Coffee Lake CPU – up to six cores at 4.8 GHz. You can also pair this with an NVIDIA GTX 1080. At first, I found it odd that they didn’t go up to the GTX 1080 Ti given the rest of the system, although I guess they would need to produce stock ahead of time, and it would be risky to have too many enthusiast parts sitting in a warehouse. They don’t state the maximum configurable RAM, but Coffee Lake maxes out at 64 GB so we know that it won’t be more than that. It all depends on whether ASUS wants to make a 32 GB or a 64 GB SKU.

The ASUS ROG Strix GL12 gaming desktop will launch in April. Pricing TBA.

Source: ASUS

CES 2018: Intel Introduces Kaby Lake-G Powered Enthusiast NUC

Subject: Systems | January 7, 2018 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: Vega M, NUC 8 Enthusiast, nuc, mini PC, kaby lake-g, Intel, core i7, CES 2018, CES, amd, 8th generation core

Intel has announced a new imagining of their high-end NUC mini-PC called the NUC 8 Enthusiast. The most significant difference between this and the previous high-end NUCs from Intel is that this one doesn't rely on Intel's integrated graphics as AMD Vega M graphics are onboard, and along with them the promise of some legitimate gaming muscle.

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What exactly is under the hood? There are two variants, with the NUC8i7HVK (which offers 100W AMD RX Vega M graphics) and NUC8i7HNK (with 65W AMD Vega M graphics). Here first are the specs for the NUC8i7HVK:

  • GPU and GFX: 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8809G  3.1 GHz to 4.2 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8 MB cache, 100W Radeon™ RX Vega M GH graphics, 1063 MHz – 1190 MHz Unlocked and VR-capable
  • RAM: Dual channel DDR4-2400+ SODIMMs, 1.2V, 32GB maximum
  • Storage: 2x M.2 22x42/80 (key M) slots for SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen3 NVMe or AHCI SSD, RAID-0 and RAID-1 capable
  • SDXC slot
  • Connectivity: 2x rear Thunderbolt™ 3 (40 Gbps) and USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) and DisplayPort 1.2 via USB-C™ connector Front USB 3.1 Gen2 via USB-C™ and front USB type-A connector Front charging USB 3.0, 4x rear USB 3.0, 2x internal USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 via headers Front Consumer Infrared port
  • Video Outputs: Front and rear HDMI 2.0a (4K 60Hz, HDR) connectors DisplayPort 1.3 via 2x rear Mini DisplayPort ports, and 2x rear Thunderbolt™ USB-C™ ports All ports support HDCP 2.2
  • Networking:  2x Intel® 10/100/1000 Mbps (i219-LM and i210-AT) Ethernet ports Intel® Wireless-AC 8265 M.2 22x30 card, IEEE 802.11ac 2x2 + Bluetooth v4.2, internal antennas
  • Audio: Up to 7.1 multichannel digital audio via HDMI or DisplayPort signals 3.5mm front headset jack, 3.5mm rear speaker / TOSLINK combo jack
  • Enclosure:  Metal and plastic with replaceable lid, Kensington lock with base security
  • Dimensions: 221 x 142 x 39 mm (1.2 L)
  • Internal Headers:  Common I/O header with Front Panel, CEC, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB2.0 signals
  • Power Adapter: 19V DC 230W power supply with replaceable AC cords
  • Other Features: 
    • Replaceable lid with customizable RGB LED illumination and front panel status RGB LEDs
    • Quad beam-forming mic array
    • VESA mounting plate included
    • Three-Year Warranty

That Core i7 8809G processor listed above is also unlocked, allowing for whatever overclocking might be possibile in this small form-factor. The differences with the NUC8i7HNK are strictly in the CPU/GPU area:

  • 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8705G  3.1 GHz to 4.1 GHz Turbo, Quad Core, 8 MB cache, 65W Radeon™ RX Vega M GL graphics, 931 MHz – 1011 MHz

Besides the new Kaby Lake-G chips there is a lot more I/O in this NUC than we saw with the "Skull Canyon" enthusiast model (NUC6i7KYK), and here the taller design (39 mm vs. 28 mm) doesn't hurt.

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With the bottom half of the rear panel reserved for cooling there is still room for 2x Thunderbolt 3, 2x mini DisplayPort, a full size HDMI, dual LAN, 4x USB 3.0 ports, and 3.5 mm audio (with optical). Up front there is a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, two more USB 3.0 ports (one charging), another full-size HDMI, SDXC card slot, and a second 3.5 mm audio.

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Just how effectively this small device can cope with the demands of a 65W or 100W GPU - and potentially overclocked quad-core CPU - remains to be seen, but the thicker chassis compared to that previous "Skull Canyon" NUC suggests this has been accounted for.

So how much will this enthusiast-class NUC cost you? MSRP for the 65W GPU version is $799, and the 100W GPU version is $999. Availability is set for March 2018.

Source: Intel

Don't unwrap a box this Christmas; build one!

Subject: Systems | December 19, 2017 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: system build, guide

Just barely in time for Amazon delivery comes a holiday system build guide from OCC.  The guide is based on your target resolution, with recommendations for 1080p, 1440p and 4k, with a final page offering up a few alternative component choices.  The current crypto-craze makes choosing a GPU more interesting than it should be, as we are still seeing high prices and low availability but as it is not likely to go away in the near future it is something you have to plan for.  Check out their guide, as well as our Hardware Leaderboard before you start shopping for components.

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"This build guide is focused solely gaming and getting the best "bang for the buck" so to speak. A byproduct of this are things like RGB lighting and color theme builds go out the window due to budget restraints. On the low end, every dollar saved from an unnecessary, flashy setup can be put to better use. However, nothing is set in stone and you are free to adjust and spend a few dollars more to purchase things more to your liking."

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