NES Classic PCB Pictured Online

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 6, 2016 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, nes, Cortex A7, arm, Allwinner

It looks like Peter Brown, Senior Reviews Editor at GameSpot received an NES Classic and promptly disassembled it for a single photo. From there, users on Reddit searched the component model numbers and compiled specifications. According to their research, the system (unless Nintendo made multiple, interchangeable models) is based on an Allwinner R16 SoC, which has four ARM Cortex A7 cores and an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU. Attached to this is 256MB of DDR3 RAM and 512 MB of flash.

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Image Credit: Peter Brown

Thankfully, the packaging of each chip has quite large, mostly legible branding, so it's easy to verify.

In terms of modern phone technology, this is about the bottom of the barrel. The Allwinner R16 should be roughly comparable to the Raspberry Pi 2, only that system has about four times the RAM as Nintendo's. This is not a bad thing, of course, because its entire goal is to emulate a device that was first released in 1983 (in Japan) albeit at high resolution. Not all of the games will be free for them to include, either. Mega Man 2, PAC-MAN, Final Fantasy, Castlevania 1 and 2, Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon II, Bubble Bobble, Tecmo Bowl, Super C, and Galaga are all from third-party publishers, who will probably need some cut of sales.

Users are claiming that it doesn't look like it could be updated. Counting the ports, it doesn't look like there's any way in, but I could be wrong. That said, I never expected it to be upgradeable so I guess that's that?

The NES Classic Edition goes on sale on November 11th for $59.99 USD MSRP.

Dell Teases "Smart Desk"

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | November 3, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: dell

Update November 3rd @ 2:20pm: As noted in the comments, the video and article are back from 2014. As I said in the article, the concept was teased in Adobe MAX, but I must have found an old source and misread the date. I've also embed the new video just below.

Original post below

Adobe MAX started yesterday, and Dell used it as a venue to announce their Smart Desk concept. While it draws comparisons with Microsoft's Surface Studio, especially with their dial-based input accessory, it's unclear whether the similarities stop. For instance, while they promote how it uses “Dell Precision workstation performance,” they don't explicitly state that it is a PC itself. Unlike the Surface Studio, it might be a peripheral to be paired with a full desktop, which its thin profile suggests, unless it requires a specific device that's just not pictured.

I mean, it would be possible to fit a laptop into a twenty-some-inch tablet that's designed to permanently sit on a desk, but, unless the software requires deep OS integration, you would think that going the Wacom route would be a win for both parties. While powering hardware wouldn't be an issue, you would still need to use slower-for-the-price laptop components to dissipate heat and exist in a small volume. If it does contain a PC, it would be running Windows 10, too, because that was clearly shown on the secondary UltraSharp 27 monitor attached to it. On the other hand, the interface, while nothing about it excludes being a complex driver for everyday desktops, is the sort of thing that a company would do if they're shipping it in a full PC.

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We'll know more in the future as Dell spills the beans (and probably develops a marketable product to have beans spilled over). What would you be more interested in? An all-in-one or a peripheral?

Source: Dell

Microsoft Introduces Surface Studio AiO Desktop PC

Subject: Systems | October 26, 2016 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: workstation, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, GTX 980M, GTX 965M, desktop, DCI-P3, core i7, core i5, all-in-one, AIO, 4000x3500

Microsoft has announced their first all-in-one PC with the Surface Studio, and it looks like Apple has some serious competition on their hands in the high-end AIO workstation space. Outfitted with the highest resolution display this side of Cupertino, 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors, and discrete NVIDIA graphics, there is plenty of power for most users (though gamers will clearly be looking elsewhere). Make no mistake, this new AIO from Microsoft is not going to replace a standard desktop for most people due to the $2999+ price tag, but for creative professionals and other workstation users it is a compelling option.

Surface_Studio_Overview.jpg

"Expanding the Surface family, Surface Studio is a new class of device that transforms from a workstation into a powerful digital canvas, unlocking a more natural and immersive way to create on the thinnest LCD monitor ever built.1 With a stunning ultra-HD 4.5K screen, Surface Studio delivers 63 percent more pixels than a state-of-the-art 4K TV. Surface Studio works beautifully with pen, touch and Surface Dial — a new input device designed for the creative process that lets you use two hands on the screen to compose and create in all new ways."

The star of the show is the 28-inch PixelSense display, which boasts a massive 4500x3000 resolution for a pixel density of 192 ppi, and the taller 3:2 aspect ratio will be welcomed by some users as well. Microsoft is using 10-bit panels for this premium AIO offering, and color reproduction should be outstanding with the Surface Studio thanks to "individually color calibrated" displays. Another advantage for creative customers is the display's multi-touch capability and 1024 pressure-level Surface Pen, which makes this a very nice option for digital artists - especially at 28 inches/192 ppi.

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Touchscreen desktops need display placement flexibility to be useful, and here Microsoft has a "zero gravity" hinge to allow for easy movement. The design looks stable thanks to a pair of arms connecting the display to the base, and this lower half is what actually houses the PC components. What's inside? Here's a look at the official specs:

  • Display
    • Screen: 28” PixelSense™ Display
    • Resolution: 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI)
    • Color settings: Adobe sRGB and DCI-P3, individually color calibrated
    • Touch: 10 point multi-touch
    • Aspect Ratio: 3:2
    • Supports Pen enabled and Zero Gravity Hinge
  • Processor: 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • Memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB RAM
  • Graphics
    • i5 Intel 8GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
    • i7 Intel 16GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
    • i7 Intel 32GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5 memory
  • Storage
    • Rapid Hybrid Drive options: 1TB or 2TB
  • Connections & expansions:
    • 4 x USB 3.0 (one high power port)
    • Full-size SD ™ card reader (SDXC) compatible
    • Mini DisplayPort
    • Headset jack
    • Compatible with Surface Dial on-screen interaction*
    • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port  
  • Cameras, video and audio:
    • Windows Hello1 face sign-in camera
    • 5.0 MP camera with 1080p HD video (front)
    • Autofocus camera with 1080p HD video (rear)
    • Dual microphones
    • Stereo 2.1 speakers with Dolby® Audio™ Premium
    • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Wireless:
    • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
    • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
    • Xbox Wireless built-in
  • Security:
    • TPM chip for enterprise security
    • Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello2 face sign-in
  • Warranty: 1-year limited hardware warranty
  • Dimensions/Weight
    • Display: 637.35 mm x 438.90 mm x 12.5 mm (25.1” x 17.3” x 0.5”)
    • Base: 250.00 mm x 220.00 mm x 32.2 mm (9.8” x 8.7” x 1.3”)
    • Product weight: 9.56 kg max (21 lbs max)

The Surface Studio is currently available for pre-order at Microsoft.com with prices ranging from $2999 to $4199, depending on configuration.

Source: Microsoft

So you find yourself in need of an AMD board right this moment?

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | October 25, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: amd, A68N-5200, biostar

Something awful happened and you can no longer wait for Zen to arrive; you need a low cost motherboard and chip ASAP.  Your memory, storage and PSU are all good, you just need something to plug them into and you really don't want to spend a lot upgrading with new silicon just around the corner.  Alternatively, perhaps you have some components lying around and need a system capable of basic tasks and again, you don't want to spend a lot to get it up and running. 

The BioStar A68N-5200 eTeknix just tested might just be what you need, up to 16GB DDR3, a single PCIe 16x slot, a pair of SATA 6.0Gb/s slots, two USB 3.0 slots and four USB 2.0 along with other connectors and an quad-core A6-5200 with HD8400 graphics onboard.  You won't win any benchmarking contests but it is a decent start for $60.

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"Despite a lot of the media focus being on Kaby Lake and AMD’s fabled Zen architecture, it’s important to remember that some users require a new motherboard as a matter of urgency and cannot wait for upcoming solutions. Not only that, in low-end scenarios such as a home office system or HTPC, modern processors provide more than enough performance."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: eTeknix

Planning a Fall refresh for your system?

Subject: Systems | October 14, 2016 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: system build

Drop by The Tech Report for their take on the best system components available to build a system at a variety of price points.  They take you through the components you will need, from the CPU and cooler right up to the version of OS you could choose.  At the end they offer suggestions on entire PC builds if you are not comfortable picking and choosing each component separately, or if you want to compare your dream machine to theirs.

Don't forget we have our own Hardware Leaderboard as well.

conclusion.jpg

"In this edition of the TR System Guide, we examine the effects of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 family and AMD's Radeon RX 460 and RX 470 on the PC-building marketplace."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

The BRIX Gaming UHD, balancing size and performance

Subject: Systems | September 29, 2016 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, BRIX Gaming UHD

Gigabyte did not have a lot of space to fit components into the BRIX Gaming UHD, let alone cooling, as it is 220x110x110mm in size or 2.6L in volume.  Into this tiny tower you will find an i7-6700HQ with 16GB of dual channel DDR4-2400 and a 512GB Samsung 950 PRO with two M.2 slots for storage expansion, the third is on wireless duty.  Gigabyte chose a 4GB GTX 950 to power the video, not new by any means but able to fulfill gaming duties at 1080p and allows the system to be powered by a 180W power brick.  4k gaming is a bit of a stretch for this but it is impressively designed, check out the benchmarks at Kitguru to see its performance in games.

rear-chassis.jpg

"Gigabyte’s BRIX line of barebones PCs are typically small and low-powered – at least, when compared with a mini-ITX desktop system, for example. However, the new BRIX Gaming UHD aims to change all of that."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

It's not a Proton Pack, it's the MSI VR One backpack PC

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 12, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: VR One, msi, VR, backpack, htc vive

MSI released some more images of their VR One backpack PC designed to give you more freedom of movement when playing around in VR and to make it easier to cart around to show off to friends and relations.  We know very little about the internals as of yet, it will have an unspecified overclocked CPU and a GTX 10 series graphics card and will weigh 2.2kg empty, 3.6kg with a batteries installed; it ships with two which are hot-swappable.  At 1.5 lbs each, it will be very interesting to see which storage cell technology they used to reach the estimated 1.5 hours of full speed gameplay.  It also ships with an adapter so you can utilize mains power.

pack.jpg

The VR One is HTC VIVE optimized though in theory an Oculus should work as the connectivity includes an HDMI port, MiniDP and one ultra-speed Thunderbolt 3 port, aka USB 3.1 Type-C as well as four USB 3.0 ports.   Cooling is provided by two 9cm ultra blade fans and 9 heat pipes which should only produce noise 41dBA which is good as the system will be on your back while you are using it.

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Not all the flashing lights on the backpack are for show, LEDs will tell you the status of your battery to let you know when to swap it out.  This can be achieved without shutting the system down, presumably there is a physical switch on the armoured shell of the backpack to allow this feat as it would not accomplish much simply doing it in VR.  You can pop by MSI for more information on the MSI Dragon Center system software and the SHIFT Technology, aka the fan controller.

dwagib.jpg

Source: MSI

Sony Wins PC Crapware Lawsuit

Subject: Systems | September 9, 2016 - 04:36 AM |
Tagged: eu, crapware, sony, Lawsuit

Back in 2008, a customer purchased a laptop from Sony, but refused to accept its end-user license agreement due to its pre-installed software. The customer contacted Sony, demanding to be reimbursed for the junkware. Sony, instead, offered a refund for the PC. The customer, instead of taking the refund, sued Sony for about 3000 Euros.

According to The Register, the EU's highest court has just ruled against the customer.

sony-Vaio.svg_.png

Honestly, this makes sense. The software was around when they purchased the computer, and Sony offered a refund. Yes, companies should offer crapware-free versions of their laptops, even for a slight fee. If adware-free version existed at all, then there might be an issue, but that would belong with Microsoft (or whoever owns the actual platform). It shouldn't be a burden for the individual system builders, unless collusion was involved.

It's also funny to think that, since the laptop was purchased in 2008, we are probably talking about a Vista-era device. Interesting to think about the difference in speed between the legal system and the tech industry.

Source: The Register

Razer Updates Blade and Blade Stealth Laptops

Subject: Systems | September 3, 2016 - 12:10 AM |
Tagged: razer, blade, blade stealth, kaby lake, pascal

The Razer Blade and the Razer Blade Stealth seem to be quite different in their intended usage. The regular model is slightly more expensive than its sibling, but it includes a quad-core (eight thread) Skylake processor and an NVIDIA GTX 1060. The Stealth model, on the other hand, uses a Kaby Lake (the successor to Skylake) dual-core (four thread) processor, and it uses the Intel HD Graphics 620 iGPU instead of adding a discrete part from AMD or NVIDIA.

razer-2016-newlaptops.png

The Stealth model weighs about 2.84 lbs, while the regular model is (relatively) much more heavy at 4.1 - 4.3 lbs, depending on the user's choice of screen. The extra weight is likely due in part to the much larger battery, which is needed to power the discrete GPU and last-generation quad-core CPU. Razer claims that the Stealth's 53.6 Wh battery will power the device for 9 hours. They do not seem to make any claims about how long the non-Stealth's 70Wh battery will last. Granted, that would depend on workload anyway.

This is where the interesting choice begins. Both devices are compatible with the Razer Core, which allows externally-attached desktop GPUs to be plugged into Razer laptops. If you look at their website design, the Razer Blade Stealth promotes the Core more prominently, even including a “Buy Now” button for it on the header. They also advertise 100% AdobeRGB color support on the Stealth, which is useful for graphics designers because it can be calibrated to either sRGB (web and video) or print (magazines) color spaces.

To me, the Stealth seems more for a user who wants to bring their laptop to work (or school) on a daily basis, and possibly plug it into a discrete GPU when they get home. Alternatively, the Razer Blade without a suffix is for someone who wants a strong, powerful PC that, while not as fast as a full desktop, is decently portable and even VR ready without external graphics. The higher resolution choices, despite the slower internal graphics, also suggests that the Stealth is more business, while the Blade is more gaming.

Before we go, Razer has also included a license of Fruity Loops Studio 12 Producer Edition. This is a popular piece of software that is used to create music by layering individual instruments and tracks. Even if you license Adobe Creative Cloud, this is one of the areas that, while Audition technically can overlap with, it's really not designed to. Instead, think GarageBand.

The Razer Blade Stealth is available now, from $999.99 (128GB QHD) to $1999.00 (1TB 4K).

The Razer Blade is also available now, from $1799.99 (256GB 1080p) to $2699.99 (1TB QHD+).

Source: Razer

Build Log, in VR!

Subject: Systems | September 1, 2016 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: system build, htc vive, oculus rift, VR

Over at The Tech Report is a new build log, taking you through the steps of building a VR Ready machine.  The intent is to build a machine capable of giving you very good performance on a Rift or Vive, while leaving you with enough money to purchase said headset and accoutrements.  If money is no object then by all means pick up a couple of Titans or 1080s, but you don't necessarily need to.  As with our guides the components included are to give you a guide as to what you will need, if you have a preferred vendor you can substitute all you desire.

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"The arrival of Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive VR headsets is as good an occasion as any to build a brand-new PC, so we tapped MSI and Corsair to help us assemble a system worthy of those headsets' stiff system requirements. See how it all came together in our build log."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems