WWDC 12: Apple announces new MacBooks, high res screen

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2012 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: WWDC 12, apple, macbook pro

Apple has upgraded their MacBook line to Intel Ivy Bridge and includes USB 3.0 support. The MacBook Airs will be supported by Intel HD Graphics 4000 where the new MacBook Pro will be powered by NVIDIA’s Kepler-based GeForce GT 650M. This GPU will be used to power a 2880x1800 (220ppi) resolution screen -- which I will absolutely not feed into the “retina display” marketing term.

Apple has announced new hardware at the start of their World Wide Developers Conference this morning.

As Intel begins to flood the PC marketplace with their latest and greatest Ivy Bridge mobile processors it stands to reason that Apple would not want to be left out. Apple will update their entire laptop lineup to the new CPUs as well as add some Kepler to their MacBook Pro line. The biggest deal is the high resolution 2880x1800 displays which should make text look very smooth and crisp.

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Not pictured, 27” IPS display… because 60” HDTV makes it seem more impressive.

The MacBook Air will not have the option of discrete graphics. The 11-inch model will have a screen resolution of 1366x768 where the 13-inch model will contain a 1440x900 screen. Both USB3.0 and Thunderbolt will be supported on each of the MacBook Airs as well as each of the MacBook Pros. SSD technology is also prominently mentioned and was expected.

The new MacBook line ships today. The new lineup of MacBook Airs has starting prices of between $999 and $1499 and the high-resolution MacBook Pro starts at $2199.

Source: Apple

Lovely low cost Llano build will handle most users needs

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2012 - 06:17 PM |
Tagged: A4-3400, amd, llano, gigabyte, ga-55m-ds2

AMD is still a great choice for someone wanting a general use system that will not cost them much.  Hardware Heaven demonstrates this in their latest computer build, based around the $66 Llano A4-3400 and the $50 Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2 which is a microATX board and means this system can be quite small in size.  To ensure that this PC can handle some light gaming they put in the passively cooled Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate and to house the system they chose Antec's Three Hundred Two enclosure.  Altogether you end up with an inexpensive PC which can handle just about any basic task you throw at it.

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"Recently AMD set us the challenge of building a low cost APU system to see if it would be possible to build a decent media/productivity/gaming PC on a minimal budget. It's something different to a review which is always a nice change so we set about looking at what could be done when pretty much every component has to cost £60 or less."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Alienware Getting Latest NVIDIA Kepler Cards to Continue Delivering Maximum Performance for Gamer

Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 5, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: alienware, dell, gtx 680m, GTX 690, Ivy Bridge, aurora, m17x, m18x

Alienware has also contributed to the lack of GTX690s and GTX680M chips by filling their latest gaming PCs and laptops with NVIDIA's new Kepler chips.  Paired with an Ivy Bridge processor the new M17x and M18x along with the Aurora desktop will offer incredible performance for anyone willing to pay the price.  Both laptops will support 3D though only the M18x offers you the choice of dual GTX 680Ms in SLI. 

A little over a month ago, we announced the first wave of major hardware upgrades for our Alienware line of laptops based on the newest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and also NVIDIA GeForce 6-series cards. Since then, NVIDIA has certainly kept busy as they continue to introduce more members of the next-generation Kepler family such as the GTX 690, GTX 670, and most recently, the GTX 680M.

By the time you read this, NVIDIA will have finally revealed the details of their GTX 680M from Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan. The GTX 680M is based on the GK104 Kepler architecture and features similar silicon to its beefy desktop version, the GTX 680. NVIDIA calls this card the ‘fastest, most advanced gaming notebook GPU ever built’ and we have little reason to argue otherwise.

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On the flip side of that power-packed coin, customers who order a system with the GTX 680M will also see greater improvements to power efficiency utilizing NVIDIA’s Optimus technology which enables long battery life by automatically switching on the dedicated GPU only when necessary. All in all, the GTX 680M paves the way for superior next-gen mobile gaming performance and makes the most of the additional technologies below that can only be found on GeForce GPUs:

  • Adaptive V-sync – newly developed technology for a smoother gameplay experience
  • Advanced AA modes – for crisper images, including NVIDIA FXAA and new TXAA
  • PhysX support – for accelerated in-game physics
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 technology – for bigger, brighter, more comfortable 3D gaming
  • 3DTV Play software – for connecting notebooks to 3DTVs for the most immersive gaming experience to be had in a living room
  • NVIDIA SLI technology – for up to double the gaming performance. Two GeForce GTX 680M GPUs in SLI mode represent the fastest notebook graphics solution available anywhere
  • CUDA technology support – for high-performance GPU computing applications

We are particularly proud to be a launch partner with NVIDIA for the GTX 680M. The Alienware M17x will be available with the GeForce GTX 680M 2GB DDR5 GPU along with the option for the NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. The Alienware M18x will also be available with the GeForce GTX 680M GPU in single or dual-card SLI configurations before the end of the month.

The Alienware M17x and M18x aren’t the only two products getting the Kepler kick, and they certainly won’t be the last. Before the end of the month, we will have configuration options to allow users to equip their custom built Aurora with the newly released GeForce GTX 690.

Based on many of the initial reviews of the GTX 690 as can be seen Anandtech and Hot Hardware, most people have drawn one consistent conclusion; the GTX 690 is easily the most powerful single-card GPU they have ever tested. With that level of graphical power and performance, we have been working with NVIDIA to offer the GTX 690 in our Alienware Aurora R4 desktops in order to equip our ultimate gaming machines with even more processing power.

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The GeForce GTX690 is certainly a fantastic and ridiculously powerful pairing for the Alienware Aurora. The GTX 690 brings all the performance of a dual GTX 680 SLI setup while drawing less power and outputting less noise – all while staying within the same thermal levels. Considering that the Aurora uses a mini-ITX board, the GTX 690 allows for users to enjoy the pinnacle of dual-card performance without having to deal with PCI-e slot spacing, drastic thermal levels, or slim dual card watercooled GPU blocks.

Again, expect the GTX 680M on the M17x/M18x and GTX 690 to be available for the Alienware Aurora R4 worldwide before the end of the month on Alienware.com or also Dell.com.

Source: Alienware

MAINGEAR Unveils Pulse 11 Ultraportable Gaming Notebook

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 03:21 AM |
Tagged:

US-based boutique computer vendor MAINGEAR today announced (no public facing press release was available at time of writing) a new ultraportable notebook that comes packed with hardware to play the latest games on the go. The notebook in question is the Pulse 11, and as the name implies it is an 11” laptop with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA Kepler hardware. Weighing in at 3.97 lbs (~1.8 kg) and packing a 6-cell lithium ion battery, the custom gaming notebook has a mostly plastic chassis, full keyboard minus the numpad, large trackpad under the space bar, and a 11.6” LED-backlit display with 1366x768 resolution (16:9).

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Despite the plastic chassis, it manages to look nice on the inside as well as the laptop lid–which features a textured pattern and centered MAINGEAR logo. The photo below shows the keyboard and trackpad while the photo above shows off the top of the notebook.

pulse11-hero.png

External IO includes a Gigabit LAN port, VGA output, HDMI output, mic and headphone out ports, two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the notebook, an SD card reader on the front, and a DC power jack, one USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock on the right side. There are no ports on the rear of the laptop as that area is taken up by the large Li-ion battery.

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The internals of the gaming notebook are the most notable features, however. The Pulse 11 features an Intel Core i7 or i5 Ivy Bridge processor up to a Core i7 3612QM (35W TDP) as well as a NVIDIA GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR3 memory. Even better is that this notebook supports NVIDIA Optimus technology, which means that it can shut down the dedicated GPU while not gaming to save battery power. Other internals include up to 16GB of dual channel DDR3 1600MHz memory, and either one 600GB SSD or 750GB SATA hybrid hard drive (a mechanical hard drive with large flash memory cache).

pulse11-top.png

The Pulse 11 comes further equipped with an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth card (internal) and a 9-in-1 multimedia card reader. For audio, the notebook features two speakers that are rated for THX TruStudio Pro sound. The gaming notebook runs the Windows 7 Home, Pro, or Ultimate x64 operating system, and can be optionally upgraded to Windows 8 Pro for $15 USD.

Pulse 11 right stylized.jpg

The gaming notebook starts at $999 USD for the base model and goes up from there. It should further be available for purchase starting today (or very soon afterward).

MAINGEAR has stated that its Pulse 11 gaming laptop is “made for gamers looking for a powerful ultraportable that delivers the best of mobile entertainment in its size as well as “the MAINGEAR Pulse 11 was designed to meet the needs of gamers, students, on-the-go digital warriors, and anyone looking for power in the smallest package possible.”

More photos of the Pulse 11 are available below:

Source: MAINGEAR
Author:
Subject: Systems, Storage
Manufacturer: DV Nation

Inside and Out

When you are a little fish in the great big pond of PC builders, you need to do something to stand out from the rest.  The people behind DV Nation apparently were well aware of that when entering the system vendor business and offering up SSDs to every single system configuration.  Through a new system they are offering, provocatively named the "RAMRod PC", DV Nation provides a pre-built system that has some very unique components and configuration settings.

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Built around the Antec Three Hundred Two chassis, the first glance at the RAMRod doesn't really indicate anything special is going on under the hood.  But let's take a quick look at the specs:

  • Intel Core i7-3820 @ 4.4 GHz
  • 64GB DDR3-1600 Memory from G.Skill
  • Radeon HD 6990 4GB 
  • 2x Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid HDD in RAID-0
  • OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB PCIE SSD
  • RAMCache: SuperSpeed Supercache 8GB on PCIE SSD, 8GB on Momentus
  • RAMDisk: 42GB ROMEX Primo rated at 8000 MB/s
  • Cost: $5,400

Obviously there is a LOT of storage work going on in the RAMRod and the purpose of the rig is to be the fastest pre-configured storage available anywhere.  If you are looking for a cheaper version of this system you can get a base model with 16GB of memory, 10GB RAMDisk, 2GB RAMCache, 240GB PCIe SSD, single standard hard drive and even at GTX 680 for $2999.

Let's take a quick walk around the rest of the system before diving into the benchmarks!

Continue reading our review of the DV Nation RAMRod PC!!

Microsoft prepares Skype to be preinstalled on Windows 7 PCs They also ignore the latest version of Skype

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 31, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: skype, OEM, bloatware, crapware

Just after their $99 Signature service has been announced, Microsoft has provided OEMs with a version of Skype to be pre-installed on Windows 7 PCs. I wonder if they will take it off again if you pay them?

Just… give me a minute…

So Microsoft hates bloatware unless it is theirs. OEM partners have been paid by software vendors to provide demos of products integrated and pre-installed for the end-user. Commonly you will see a few game demos, the Kindle software, an antivirus trial, and Skype. Earlier in the month Microsoft created a service at their retail outlets to scrub computers clean of the bloat for $99.

And now that they own Skype they desire for OEMs to integrate it with Windows 7…

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Here’s my dotted line for your Signature.

More humorous is that they will integrate Skype 5.8 rather than the newer Skype 5.9. Granted, it is unsurprising that a company would be slightly behind in versions particularly since the latest dot-release is less than two months old. Skype has been known to be slightly less desirable as you increase in version number and as such makes me crack a smirk either way. The latest release in particular has allegedly been the cause of minor glitches in recent podcasts with TWiT studios recommending rolling back to 5.8.

If anything this makes me slightly curious about Windows 8.

Source: ZDNet

Time to swap your remote for Pulse-Eight's wireless keyboard?

Subject: Systems | May 30, 2012 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: htpc, motorola, Pulse-Eight, Motorola NYXboard Hybrid, wireless keyboard

Pulse-Eight's Motorola NYXboard Hybrid Wireless Keyboard and IR Remote is a double sided device, with a minimalist keyboard on one side and a more traditional TV remote control on the other.  It is perfect for those with an HTPC or set top box which allows web browsing and other features that a standard remote just can't fully control.  An internal switch ensures that only the buttons on the side of the device which are currently on the top are active to make usage a lot more convenient.  At 144 x 48 x 21mm (5.7" x 1.9" x 0.8") it is too small to have a full standard keyboard but thanks to numerous key chords you get a lot of functionality out of this tiny device.  Check with Missing Remote to see if this is the remote missing from your life.

MR_boxeevnyxboard.jpg

"Not long ago it was easy to lean primarily on a traditional remote control – universal, of course -- relegating the keyboard and mouse to the audio & video (A/V) cabinet, closet, or other locale of last resort –dragging it out just for occasional maintenance or troubleshooting. However, as over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and YouTube have become more pervasive, the traditional remote can no longer provide enough functionality as we transition to a search, browse and consume environment."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Dell uses ARM-based "Copper" servers to accelerate ecosystem

Subject: Processors, Systems | May 29, 2012 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: server, dell, copper, arm

Dell announced today that is going to help enable the world of the ARM-based server ecosystem by enabling key hyperscale customers to access and develop on Dell's own "Copper" ARM servers.

Dell today announced it is responding to the demands of our customers for continued innovation in support of hyperscale environments, and enabling the ecosystem for ARM-based servers. The ARM-based server market is approaching an inflection point, marked by increasing customer interest in testing and developing applications, and Dell believes now is the right time to help foster development and testing of operating systems and applications for ARM servers.

Dell is recognized as an industry leader in both the x86 architecture and the hyperscale server market segments. Dell began testing ARM server technology internally in 2010 in response to increasing customer demands for density and power efficiency, and worked closely with select Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) hyperscale customers to understand their interest level and expectations for ARM-based servers. Today's announcement is a natural extension of Dell's server leadership and the company's continued focus on delivering next generation technology innovation.

While these servers are still not publicly available, Dell is fostering the development of software and verification processes by seeding these unique servers to a select few groups.  PC Perspective is NOT one of them.

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Each of these 3U rack mount machines includes 48 independent servers, each based around a 1.6 GHz quad-core Marvell Armada XP SoC.  Each of the sleds (pictured below) holds four discrete server nodes, each capable of as much as 8GB of memory on a single DDR3 UDIMM.  Each node can access one 2.5-in HDD bay and one Gigabit Ethernet connection.

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Click for a larger view

Even though we are still very early into the life cycle of ARM architectures in the server room, Dell claims that these systems are built perfectly for web front-ends and Hadoop environments:

Customers have expressed great interest in understanding ARM-based server advantages and how they may apply to their hyperscale environments. Dell believes ARM infrastructures demonstrate promise for web front-end and Hadoop environments, where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per watt are critical. The ARM server ecosystem is still developing, and largely available in open-source, non-production versions, and the current focus is on supporting development of that ecosystem. Dell has designed its programs to support today's market realities by providing lightweight, high-performance seed units and easy remote access to development clusters.

There is little doubt that Intel will feel and address this competition in the coming years.

Source: Marketwatch

How consoles would have gouged Diablo 3 over $44 million

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 29, 2012 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: diablo iii, consoles, blizzard

Matt Ployhar of Intel has posted on their Software Blogs about how much money in royalties would be given to Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo if Diablo 3 were published on a console platform. Activision-Blizzard along with a couple of other publishers recently pocket the difference -- but unlike the consoles it is not an actual cost so the publishers can, and many do, lower their prices to the $50 point at launch. It really shows how expensive the seemingly cheaper console platforms really are.

So who would make a device for $805 to sell it for $499 after billions in research, development, and marketing?

Sony does and they get that money back from you in good time -- subtly.

The perception of consoles being a cheaper gaming platform than the PC is just a perception. Over the lifespan of the platform you can pay less for a better experience with a somewhat larger upfront cost on the PC. You are paying a premium with the consoles to experience exclusive titles that are only exclusive because you allowed the platform to charge you to pay the publisher to make it exclusive. Imagine how that cost grows if you own multiple consoles?

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But I find good value in paying extra so that others cannot play too.

Matt Ployhar of the Intel Software Blogs does a very rough calculation of how much Blizzard would have paid Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo had their game been on a console platform. With 6.3 million units of Diablo 3 sold in the last two weeks and a typical royalty rate of $7-10 per game sale for console platforms the platform owner would take $44-63 million away from Blizzard.

This means that you would have been paying the platform owner $44-63 million to have Diablo 3 be placed on a platform which will be unsupported probably long before you finish with your game.

Blizzard has been selling Diablo 2 since the Nintendo 64 era. Consoles are paid to be disposable, the PC is not.

Source: Intel Blog

Dell Reimagines the All-in-One Computer for Consumers

Subject: Systems | May 29, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: all-in-one, XPS One 27, xps, Ivy Bridge, Inspiron One 23, Inspiron One 20, inspiron, dell

The quick breakdown of Dell's new lineup is ...

The XPS One 27 all in one PC starts at price of $1,399  has a high end Ivy Bridge i5 or i7 with an optional GT640M, an impressive 27" 2560x1440 display, up to 16GB of DDR3 and ships with up to a 2TB HDD with an optional 32GB SSD for Intel SRT.

The Inspiron One 23 is $749 and will mostly contain mid-range i5s and i3s (an i7 is an option), an optional Radeon HD7650A, a 23" 1080p monitor, up to 8GB of RAM and up to a 2TB HDD, no SSD option on this one though.

Lastly the Inspiron One 20 has a low cost of $529 and will get you running with a SandyBride based Pentium G620T or an Ivy Bridge i3-2120T, the 20" 1600x900 will be powered by Intel's onboard graphics, 6GB of DDR3 and up to a 1TB HDD. 

Read on for the full details

 

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Dell is reimagining the all-in-one computer, with a new portfolio of solutions for consumers who desire beautifully designed systems for multimedia creation and entertainment. The new computers include the XPS One 27, Dell’s largest ever all-in-one and part of the premium XPS performance family, and the Inspiron One 23 and Inspiron One 20 all-in-one computers for families. The three desktop computers are slim and stylish and reflect Dell’s design aesthetic that places a premium on unique materials, form factors and experiences.

XPS One 27: Powerful Simplicity, Powerful Creativity
The XPS One 27 delivers a big-screen experience – from the diagonal to the resolution – with one of the most vibrant displays Dell has offered. The XPS One 27 is 27-inches of stunning 2560x1440 Full Quad HD clarity and color. The wide format 16:9 WLED display makes digital work, movies, games and photos appear crisp, colors vivid. It delivers optional high-performance graphics from NVIDIA and entertainment features such as Waves MaxxAudio 4 and Infinity-branded speakers, an optional slot load Blu-ray disc drive, and optional internal TV tuner, making it an entertainment and multimedia powerhouse.

The gorgeous design extends beyond the all-in-one PC’s vibrant display. The combination of a slim, space-saving metallic silver color housing, “clutter-free” one-cord design, and wireless keyboard and mouse, ensures the XPS One 27 is a beautiful addition from any angle to any room.

On the inside, Dell packs 3rd Generation Intel Quad Core processors with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, balancing quad core processing with efficient power use – even while running multiple programs at once. With an optional mSATA SSD drive and Intel Smart Response Technology, and four USB 3.0 ports, the XPS One 27 delivers a noticeable speed boost on start-up, resume and data transfer.

Inspiron One 23 and Inspiron One 20: Big Value, Minimal Space
Featuring a simple, single cord set-up, the new space-saving Inspiron all-in-one computers make life easy and deliver powerful entertainment for the whole family. The latest Intel processors and optional powerful discrete graphics allow parents and kids to stay connected to each other and to enjoy the things they love, such as music, movies and casual gaming.

A result of direct customer feedback, the Inspiron One 23 now features a new sleek pedestal stand that supports a Full HD 1080p WLED 23-inch display. With an optional Blu-ray disc drive and optional internal TV tuner, as well as ample storage for music, movies and photos, the Inspiron One 23 is an attractive addition to the family living room.

The Inspiron One 20 delivers everyday connectivity and computing in a clean and simple design, making it a smart investment at a competitive price. The all-in-one PC provides a clutter-free work area with full desktop-equivalent performance, allowing customers to stay organized and efficient and keep up with family and friends.

“As part of the reimagining of our entire XPS and Inspiron portfolio, we are likewise reimagining our all-in-ones as stunning systems that are the centerpiece of any room. They deliver a captivating user experience that will inspire our customers to create their best work and consume all the content they love,” said Sam Burd, vice president and general manager of product development for Dell. “The XPS One 27, Inspiron One 23 and Inspiron One 20 deliver phenomenal value and offer our customers compelling choices that meet their unique needs.”

Pricing and Availability: The XPS One 27 (starting at $1,399), Inspiron One 23 (starting at $749) and Inspiron One 20 (starting at $529) all-in-one computers are available today in select countries in Asia and will be available in the United States and additional countries in the coming weeks.

Click for the full list of specs ...

Source: Dell