MSI's Aegis 3, a perfect gateway system for console gamers

Subject: Systems | October 30, 2017 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: msi, aegis 3

The MSI Aegis 3 has a small footprint, including the base it stands 17.05x14.81x6.69" (43.3x37.6x17cm) though it is wider when you extend the ears to hang your headphones off of.  The inside is very well laid out for such a tiny pre-built system, The Tech Report could easily access all the components in the system for potential upgrades or even simple cleaning.  This ~$1000 machine is perfect for someones first PC as it ships with a DS4200 keyboard and DS-B1 gaming mouse, leaving only the monitor to purchase separately and the inclusion of a 16GB Intel Optane M.2 Cache Module will impress them with the speed.  The Tech Report did have some suggestions for improvements on the VR hookups but overall found this to be a great introduction to the PC gaming world for a first timer.

side_r.jpg

"MSI's Aegis 3 starts with a compelling enough spec sheet for the budding gamer: a Core i7-7700 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1060 3GB graphics card, and 16GB of RAM. We spent some time with the Aegis 3 to see whether a 16GB Optane cache and a 2TB hard drive offer an SSD-like user experience in this NAND-starved era."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Detachable PC ... the HP Spectre x2 and EliteBook x2

Subject: Systems | October 20, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: spectre x2, EliteBook x2, hp

The HP ZBook x2 is a workstation class PC with a detachable screen, similiar to the Surface but significantly more powerful.  Depending on the model you prefer it will contain a Kaby Lake or Coffee Lake i7 or i5 processor and either a SATA or NVME PCIe SSD.  All models come with 32 GB DDR4-2133 and a Quadro M620 GPU. 

HP ZBook x2_GroupShot_V3_preview.jpeg

When detached, the batteryless Wacom EMR based HP pen allows you to draw up your designs on the fly on its 4K screen, for more serious work the ZBook x2 can power up to five HD displays or a pair of 4K monitors from its dock.  Graphic designers can opt for a model which comes with a optional 10 bit, billion colour HP DreamColor display that is capable of 100% Adobe RGB.

HP ZBook x2_FrontRight_Open_preview.jpeg

AS VEGAS, NV, October 18, 2017 - Today at AdobeMAX, HP will showcase the world’s most powerful detachable PC designed to solve the performance and mobility needs of artists, designers and digital imaging professionals who need to push Adobe Creative Cloud and other professional applications to the limit.

The performance of the HP ZBook x2, the world’s first detachable workstation, increases productivity and allows digital creators and storytellers the freedom to work when and where inspiration strikes. HP’s reinvention of detachable PCs began earlier this year with the introduction of the HP Spectre x2 and the HP Elite x2. Today’s introduction of the HP ZBook x2 completes HP’s trifecta with its most powerful detachable solution targeted for the creative community. With this new offering, HP is extending its PC leadership by pioneering a new era for detachable PCs that offer superb performance, elegance and efficiency.

“As the world’s most powerful and first detachable PC workstation, there is no device better suited to turn the vision of artists and designers into reality,” said Xavier Garcia, vice president and general manager, HP Z Workstations, HP Inc.

“With the HP ZBook x2,we are delivering the perfect tool to accelerate the creative process with unprecedented power, performance and natural ease of use. This device will make it easier than ever for creators to do what they do best bring inspiring new ideas to life and enrich the world around us.”

Liberating Digital Creativity
The HP ZBook x2 allows designers to effortlessly create with quad-core Intel Core processors, twice the memory of any other detachable PC and NVIDIA Quadro Graphics that deliver 73 percent higher graphics performance compared to the Surface Pro. A quiet, dual fan active cooling system is designed to dissipate heat from the powerful graphics card and processor.

To better meet the needs of the creative community, including Adobe users, HP also developed customizable, application aware HP Quick Keys, to provide artists with 18 time saving shortcuts. "At Adobe, our goal is to accelerate creativity. Creative Cloud is the platform that enables us to deliver powerful innovation in our apps and cloud based services supported by Adobe Sensei with artificial intelligence at the heart of every customer experience,” said Mala Sharma, vice president and general manager, Creative Cloud Product, Marketing and Community. “Adobe is thrilled with our collaboration with HP, which we know will further fuel creativity and give Creative Cloud members more power and freedom to create wherever inspiration strikes.”

Today, many creative professionals use multiple devices such as a MacBook Pro plus an iPad to accomplish the same tasks that can be done on the HP ZBook x2. Knowing that ultimate mobility is important, HP created a single device that delivers the same performance capabilities from inking to docked mode. HP’s most versatile detachable to date, the HP ZBook x2 operates in four modes: laptop, detached, docked and tablet.

In laptop mode, the HP ZBook x2 is a powerful mobile workstation with a keyboard leveraged from the HP ZBook Studio. In detached mode, it allows users to create on the tablet with HP’s most accurate and expressive pen while still having full access to all of their shortcut keys with the Bluetooth enabled keyboard off to the side. In docked mode, the HP ZBook x2 can power two additional 4K displays or five total displays. In tablet mode, it maintains full graphics performance allowing users to capture ideas with powerful NVIDIA 3D graphics. Using HP’s most natural pen with the HP ZBook x2, users can create without interruption as the pen never needs to be charged. The batteryless, HP designed pen based on Wacom EMR technology, responds instantly to every nuance of the artist’s hand for natural motion. The HP ZBook x2 offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with multidirectional tilt capabilities and includes a dedicated eraser.

As a member of the world’s most secure and manageable mobile workstation family, the HP ZBook x2 features HP SureStart Gen3 for BIOS protection, TPM 2.0 for hardware based encryption to secure credentials, secure authentication methods through the Smart Card Reader and HP’s Client Security Suite Gen3 to protect data, device and identity, including facial recognition and fingerprint reader.

HP ZBook x2 Highlights
The HP ZBook x2 embodies the intersection of mobility and performance in a fully machined, aluminum and die cast magnesium body starting at just 3.64 pounds and 14.6mm thin when in tablet mode, and 4.78 pounds and 20.3mm in laptop mode. The HP ZBook x2 has a stunning 14” diagonal, 4K multitouch display with an optional 10-bit, one billion color HP DreamColor display calibrated to 100 percent of Adobe RGB. The HP ZBook x2 has the world’s most advanced detachable PC display and includes an antiglare touchscreen allowing users to immerse themselves while working in any lighting condition.

At the desk, it can power dual 4K displays from the HP ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt3. This detachable PC hasup to 10 hours of battery life for maximum productivity and ultrafast recharge (50 percent in just 30 minutes. The HP ZBook x2 offers up to 4.2GHz of Intel Turbo Boost, 32GB RAM over dual channels for more responsiveness under heavier workloads like complex layering in Photoshop.

The model’s HP Z Turbo Drive storage is up to 6X faster than SATA SSD and up to 21X faster than traditional HDD storage. The HP ZBook x2 offers up to 2TB of local PCIe storage and incorporates a full sized SD card slot, perfect for professional photographers. Using the dock or Thunderbolt3 ports on the HP ZBook x2, it can transfer large files from cameras, external storage, phones and other peripherals.

Designed to go anywhere and handle the toughest workloads, the HP ZBook x2 mobile workstation is designed to pass MIL-STD810G testing. The HP ZBook x2 also undergoes dozens of tests for certification and optimized performance with the industry’s leading software providers like Adobe and Autodesk.

HP ZBook x2 Pricing and Availability
HP ZBook x2 is scheduled for availability in December starting at $1,749.

 

Source: HP

Zotac steps up their Zbox game

Subject: Systems | October 3, 2017 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, Magnus EN1080K, GeForce GTX 1080, i7-7700, SFF, water cooler

The newest Zbox from Zotac is also the most powerful one they have made, which does make it a bit of a different beast than other Zotac SFF products.  With an i7-7700 paired with a GTX 1080, along with 16GB of DDR4-2400 and a WD Black 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD the Magnus offers more power than you find in many a mid-range system.  The heat produced in the tight confines of the system, 8.9x8x5" (23 x 20 x 13cm), is handled by a custom built watercooling system which cools both the CPU and GPU.  This does make the system significantly larger than previous Zbox products and it is much more power hungry, with two power adapters required to run it.  The Tech Report loved the performance but did encounter some significant issues with the Zbox, which they overcame with quick and effective support from Zotac.  Check this one out for the impressive build design as well as it's impressive gaming abilities.

accessories.jpg

"Zotac's Zbox Magnus EN1080K pairs Intel's Core i7-7700 CPU with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card in an impressively dense liquid-cooled package. We ran some of our favorite games on this system to see how it stacks up in the small-form-factor pantheon."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

AMD Bundles Adobe Creative Cloud (2 Months) with PCs

Subject: Systems | October 1, 2017 - 10:41 PM |
Tagged: amd, Adobe

AMD is bundling two months of Adobe Creative Cloud with a selection of PCs, ranging from Ryzen-enabled desktops to APU-enabled laptops and all-in-ones. There are also two other bundles available: ~$40 of Square Enix Collective indie games, and a 3-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography (Photoshop and Lightroom). This started a couple of months ago, but it looks like AMD didn’t make too big of a deal out of it, so I decided that a late post is better than none.

AMD_2016-Logo.png

The PCs that are eligible vary from bundle to bundle, so check each of the three links.

As for the value of the deal? Eh. Two months of Creative Cloud is quite good from a value perspective -- about a hundred US dollars. That said, a free trial from Adobe is a month, and that's on a per-application basis, so you could also see it as “just a double-length free trial”. (Possibly a triple-length if you can use the free trial first, then redeem the Creative Cloud subscription for an extra two. I’m not sure, though, but the redemption period ends on December 31st so it might be possible.)

The list of applicable products and OEMs, as well as other terms and conditions, is available on AMD’s website.

Source: AMD

ASUS' Tinker can be tailored for Soldiers and Spies

Subject: Systems | September 25, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: asus, tinker, SoC, Rockchip, rk3288, Mali-T760, Cortex-A17

ASUS' take on single board computers is the new Tinker Board, powered by a 1.8 GHz Cortex-A17 based Rockchip RK3288 and a 600MHz Mali-T760 GPU which share 2 GB of LPDDR3.  Storage is handled by a microSD slot, or the four USB 2.0 ports and the Tinker offers Gigabit wired connectivity as well as optional WiFi.  You have a choice of operating systems, either Marshmallow flavoured Android or the Debian based Tinker OS, depending on which you prefer. 

The Tech Report tested out the Tinker Board and found the hardware to outpace competitors such as Raspberry Pi, however the lack of software and documentation hamstrung the Tinker Board badly enough that they do not recommend this board.  This may change in time but currently ASUS needs to do some work before the Tinker Board becomes an actual competitor in this crowded market.

100_0229.jpg

"Asus' Tinker Board single-board computer wants to challenge the Raspberry Pi 3's popularity with a more powerful SoC and better networking, among other improvements. We put it to the test to see whether it's a worthy alternative to the status quo."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

EPYC headed for the top of the charts!

Subject: Systems | September 19, 2017 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: 7351P, amd, EPYC

Patrick Kennedy of Serve The Home has just published his server-centric test EPYC test results and in his own words, "while AMD is very competitive at the high-end, its mainstream offerings are competing with de-featured Xeon Silver CPUs and absolutely obliterate what Intel is offering."

AMD-EPYC-and-Xeon-Scalable-in-Trays.jpg

The EPYC 7351P, which should sell for roughly $750 was tested against Intel's Xeon Silver 4108 which runs about $440 in various server applications such as GROMACS, OpenSSL and even a chess benchmark.  The tests were done with single socket EPYCs, the "P" series, which are offered at a significant discount when compared to AMD's dual socket family; benchmarked against Intel's Xeon Silver in both single and dual socket configurations.  The only time that the Xeon's performance came close to the single socket 7351P were when they were configured in dual socket systems, even then AMD's EPYC chip came out on top, often by a significant margin.

AMD-EPYC-7401-in-Tyan-24-bay-NVMe-2U.jpg

Raw performance is not the only advantage AMD offers on EPYC, the feature sest also far outstrips the somewhat watered down Xeon Silver family.  The single socket 7351P offers 128 PCIe lanes while a dual socket Xeon Silver can only offer 96 and EPYC can handle up to 2TB of DDR4-2666 in its eight channel memory controller whereas Intel is limited to 1.5TB DDR4-2400 in a dual socket server nor can it support dual AVX-512 nor Omni-Path fabric.

Intel does have some advantages that come with the maturity of their platform, including superb NVMe hotswap support as well as QuickAssist and they do have higher end Xeon Gold chips which include the aforementioned features that the Xeon Silver line lacks, however they are also significantly more expensive than EPYC. 

You can expect more tests to appear in the future as STH invested a lot of money in new hardware to test and as the tests can take days to complete there will be some delay before they have good data to share.  It is looking very positive for AMD's EPYC family, they offer an impressive amount of value for the money and it will be interesting to see how Intel reacts.

piano.jpg

Intel Releases Dawson Canyon NUCs With 15W Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 13, 2017 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, kaby lake, Intel

Following last year’s Baby Canyon NUC kits, Intel is launching its Dawson Canyon NUCs powered by 15W Kaby Lake processors. Despite Dawson Canyon sounding more dramatic than Baby Canyon (which sounds more like a creek), the new NUCs are lower powered and ditch Iris Graphics and USB 3.1 Type C.

Specifically, Intel is launching six new models that will come in three flavors: barebones board, slim case kit, and a taller kit with room for a 2.5” drive. Each type of NUC kit will come with either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor. Dawson Canyon further supports Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) and Optane memory.

Intel Dawson Canyon.jpg

Processor options include the Core i3 7100U (2.4 GHz) and Core i5 7300U (2.6 GHz base, 3.5 GHz boost) which are both dual core processors with HyperThreading, 3 MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 620 GPUs, and 15W TDPs.

Internal I/O includes two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two M.2 slots (one full length (80mm) and one 30mm slot for Wi-Fi adapters such as the included Intel 8265 with is included in the kits with cases but not the bare board kits.), one SATA port, and headers for serial, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.

External I/O consists of four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and two HDMI outputs (one protected UHD).

Dawson Canyon NUCs will be available towards the end of the year (Q4’17) with pricing yet to be released. For the fanless, ahem, fans Fanless Tech reports that Simply NUC will be offering NUCs with custom fanless cases. These are likely to be cheaper than Baby Canyon and be popular with businesses wanting monitor mounted thin clients or low power workstations for office users that just need to run productivity applications.

Source: FanlessTech

Benchmarking a beast of a box, a dual Xeon Scalable Gold Server

Subject: Systems | August 30, 2017 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: linux, xeon, Xeon Gold 6138, dual cpu, LGA-3647, Intel

The core counts and amount of RAM on enthusiast systems is growing quickly, especially with Threadripper, but we won't be seeing a system quite like this one under our desks in the near future.  The server which Phoronix tested sports dual Xeon Gold 6138 for a total of 40 physical cores and 80 threads, with each CPU having 48GB of RAM for a total of 96GB of DDR4-2666.  Not only did Phoronix run this system through a variety of tests, they did so on eight different Linux distros.   Can any benchmark push this thing to its limits?  Was there a clear winner for the OS?  Find out in the full review.

image.php_.jpg

"While we routinely run various Linux distribution / operating system comparisons at Phoronix, they tend to be done on desktop class hardware and the occasional servers. This is our look at the most interesting enterprise-focused Linux distribution comparison to date as we see how Intel's Xeon Scalable platform compares on different GNU/Linux distributions when using the Tyan GT24E-B7106 paired with two Dual Xeon Gold 6138 processors."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: Phoronix
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Design

The ECS LIVA Z Plus is a mini-PC with far more capable processors than the non-Plus variants of the current LIVA family, and we have for review a version with the top-end Intel Core i5-7300U CPU option, along with a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. These specs position the LIVA Z Plus against similarly-powered Intel NUC mini-PCs, and the LIVA has the advantage of being ready to go out of the box (just add an OS).

DSC_0468.jpg

We recently took a look at the entry-level ECS LIVA mini-PC, which is a fanless device equipped with a low-power Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3350 in its base configuration (as reviewed). The performance was merely 'okay' for most desktop computing, and that entry-level LIVA Z was more of a need-specific choice, useful for some applications such as a DIY router as it includes dual NICs in addition to the wireless networking on board. But I kept wishing I had more CPU power the entire time I was testing out the base LIVA Z, and the Plus version seemed like the perfect solution. There is just one catch: it isn't fanless. (Gasp!) Was this an issue? Was it even audible? How were thermals with a 15W Intel Core i5 processor inside such a small enclosure, even it is was being actively cooled? Read on to find out!

First, a look at the specs from ECS:


Specifications:

  • Platform:
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7300U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Core i3-7100U SOC
    • Intel Kaby Lake Celeron 3965U SOC
  • Memory:
    • DDR4 Up to 32GB
    • 2x SO-DIMM Memory Slots
  • Storage Support: 1x M.2 2242 SSD (SATA / PCIE)
  • Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
  • LAN: 2x Gigabit LAN (1x Intel LAN)
  • USB:
    • 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports
    • 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port
  • Video Output:
    • 1x HDMI Port (HDMI 1.4)
    • 1x mDP Port
  • Wireless: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0
  • PCB Size: 115 x 111 mm
  • Dimension: 117 x 128 x 33 mm
  • VESA Support: 75 mm / 100 mm (bracket included)
  • Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
  • OS Support: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Windows 10
  • Accessories:
    • 1x Power adapter
    • 1x VESA Bracket
    • 6x VESA Mount Screws
    • Quick Guide & Driver DVD

  • ECS LIVA Z Plus: $489 MSRP

Package contents are identical to that of the non-Plus LIVA, as we are presented with the LIVA Z Plus, power adapter, and VESA mount.

DSC_0462.jpg

The LIVA Z Plus is externally identical to the LIVA Z, with the same complement of three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and 3.5 mm audio jack on the front, and dual NICs, HDMI 1.4, and mini DisplayPort on the back.

DSC_0463.jpg

DSC_0464.jpg

The side panels are also identical to the passively-cooled LIVA Z, with vented sides that in this case allow for intake and exhaust for the small internal fan.

DSC_0465.jpg

If you think this LIVA Z Plus looks like the standard LIVA Z, you're right. Externally, the two are identical:

DSC_0473.jpg

Next we'll take a look inside and then see how it performed with a few benchmarks.

Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z Plus!!

Beep beep VROOOM! A remote starter for your PC

Subject: Systems | August 4, 2017 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: remote starter, microcontroller, DIY

The Tech Report have an interesting project for those interested in building their own electronic gadgets and doohickeys.  They have created a project which uses a NodeMCU open source microcontroller for IoT devices to allow you to remotely power cycle your PC via an RF signal.  The build will teach you about creating your own IoT device, a bit about how to secure said device and insight into the signals which tell your PC to power on or off or to go into sleep mode.  For those already familiar with the components and processes utilized by this project, it is a quick and easy way to design a device that retails for $25, for a lot cheaper.  Take a peek here.

components.jpg

"Commercially-available remote power switches make turning a PC on and off from a distance a simple task, but our resident microcontroller enthusiast thought of a few ways such a product might be improved. Join us as we see whether those ideas could be implemented for about $10 in parts."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems