Thursday, January 21st 2021

Today's Reviews

Cases
CPU Coolers
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Notebooks
SSD

ZADAK Announces TWSS3 SATA SSD

ZADAK, a leading provider of enthusiast PC gaming components and innovative water cooling solutions, announces a new TWSS3 2.5" SSD to expand its storage lineup beyond the SPARK PCIe GEN 3x4 M.2 RGB SSD series. Built with SATA III 6 Gb/s interface and 3D NAND Flash memory, the TWSS3 is a great option for any PC upgrade moving from HDDs as it provides a boost in performance speeds, and is a durable, reliable, compact, and low power consumption high capacity storage device.

The TWSS3 is for PC users looking to improve their system's performance. With sequential read and write speeds of 560/540 MB/s, users will be able to instantly notice improvements in their system startup loading time and program responsiveness. Available in capacities of 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB, the TWSS3 offers reliability and durability with its built-in functionalities of Advanced Wear Leveling to ensure the longevity of the flash memory, Error-correcting code memory (ECC) to prevent data corruption, and TRIM command to protect the performance and keep it highly efficient even after long-term usage.

Samsung Display to Introduce First 90Hz OLED Laptop Display

While most laptops and notebooks now offer a 60 Hz refresh rate, Samsung Display announced today that it will mass produce the world's first 90 Hz OLED laptops in the first quarter of this year. Samsung Display Chief Executive Officer Joo Sun Choi said that the company will initially produce very large quantities of 14-inch, 90 Hz OLED displays destined for laptops and notebooks, beginning in March.

"OLED display panels can best satisfy the diverse consumer needs for laptops used in telework, online education, video streaming, and gaming," the company said. Samsung Display said it is helping to introduce a major shift in the market as it collaborates closely with global manufacturers to achieve a new level of excellence for refresh rates in laptops, beginning this year.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX Storms to the Top of PassMark Mobile CPU Leaderboard

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, the company's flagship mobile processor announced at the 2021 International CES, has stormed to the top of the PassMark mobile CPU leaderboard. The 8-core/16-thread processor, codenamed "Cezanne," is based on AMD's latest "Zen 3" microarchitecture. It tops the charts with 24,039 points, compared to 16,594 points of the Intel Core i9-10980HK, team blue's current flagship in the 45+ W segment. Both the 5900HX and i9-10980HK are unlocked 8-core parts. The 5900HX also ends up 21% faster than AMD's previous mobile flagship, the Ryzen 9 4900HS, and 25% faster than the 4800H. Intel's upcoming 8-core "Tiger Lake" mobile processor, due for the second half of 2021, has its task cut out.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce Hotfix Driver v461.33

NVIDIA Wednesday released a Hotfix update to its GeForce software. Version 461.33 Hotfix addresses a few glaring bugs with the software that need to be immediately put out than waiting for the next WHQL update to take shape. For starters, the update fixes an Adobe Premiere Pro crash observed when using Mercury Playback Engine with CUDA GPU acceleration.

An application hang with NVIDIA Broadcast camera filters seen after GeForce 461.09 drivers has been fixed. Certain stuttering and lagging issues observed with Steam VR have been fixed. Random crashes with "Detroit: Become Human" have been fixed. Incorrect colors on Zoom video calls when using NVENC have been fixed. "Assassin's Creed Valhalla" crashing after extended gameplay has been fixed. "X4: Foundations" game crashes on GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs, and a broken HUD in Vulkan API mode, has been fixed. Grab the drivers from the links below.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce Hotfix 461.33 Standard | NVIDIA GeForce Hotfix 461.33 DCH

"Nehalem" Lead Architect Rejoins Intel to Work on New High-Performance Architecture

The original "Nehalem" CPU microarchitecture from 2008 was pivotal to Intel, as it laid the foundation for Intel's mainline server and client x86 processors for the following 12-odd years. Glenn Hinton, the lead architect behind "Nehalem," announced that he is rejoining Intel after 3 years of retirement, to work on a new high-performance CPU project. Hinton states that his decision to rejoin Intel out of his retirement was influenced by Pat Gelsinger joining the company as its new CEO. Jim Keller, a CPU architecture lead behind several commercially-successful architectures, recently left Intel after a brief stint leading an undisclosed CPU core project. Keller later took up the mantle of CEO at hardware start-up Tenstorrent.

Pat Gelsinger leading Intel is expected to have a big impact on its return to technological leadership in its core businesses, as highlighted in Gelsinger's recent comments on the need for Intel to be better than Apple (which he referred to as "that lifestyle company") at making CPUs, in reference to Apple's new M1 chip taking the ultraportable notebook industry by storm. The other front Intel faces stiff competition from, is AMD, which has achieved IPC parity with Intel, and is beating it on energy-efficiency, taking advantage of the 7 nm silicon fabrication process.
Wednesday, January 20th 2021

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Desktop PC
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Processors
SSD
ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Pro (WiFi) Review

ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Pro (WiFi) Review

The ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Pro (WiFi) is the latest from the brand's popular TUF Gaming Alliance. Featuring a powerful VRM, plenty of storage connectivity, and a broad family of TUF components to match with, the ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Pro (WiFi) could be the perfect balance of price to performance.

EK Water Blocks Releases Founders Edition RTX 3090 Special Edition Block

EK, the leading computer cooling solutions provider, is proud to finally unveil its Special Edition high-performance GPU water blocks for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition graphics card. The EK-Quantum Vector FE RTX 3090 D-RGB, just like the 3080 model, comes in two versions - Silver and Black, both featuring stark contrasts between the aluminium outer shell and backplate, as well as the Plexi window and terminal illuminated with addressable D-RGB LEDs.

These water blocks come with two types of connection terminals, offering unrivaled versatility. The performance is one of the key elements of the design, which is why this block features a 30% larger fin area compared to other water blocks from the Vector family.

European Commission Fines Valve, Five Game Publishers in €7.8 Million for Regional Pricing and Geo-blocking Practices

The European Commission has issued a fine to Valve and five game publishers (Bandai Namco, Focus Home Interactive, Capcom, Koch Media, and ZeniMax after an antitrust probe decided the companies violated EU antitrust laws. The Commission investigated regional pricing and geo-blocking practices that were put in place by valve and the hitherto fined publishers, and says that these rule-breaking pricing manipulations resulted from bilateral agreements between game publishers and Valve between 2010 and 2015, as well as from purpose-built licensing and distribution licenses between four out of five fined publishers between 2007 and 2018.

The European Commission found these practices to relieve "European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU". In particular, the offendants sold video game licenses relative to some 100 different titles at lower pricing in certain Eastern Europe countries, and which could not be activated in Western Europe. The fine's total amount of €7.8 million is shared between Valve (€1,624,000); Bandai Namco (10% fine reduction for cooperation, €340,000); Capcom (15% fine reduction for cooperation, €396,000); Focus Home Interactive (10% fine reduction for cooperation, €2,888,000); Koch Media (10% fine reduction for cooperation, €977,000), and ZeniMax (10% fine reduction for cooperation, €1,664,000). Valve didn't receive any fine reduction because the company elected not to cooperate with the Commission.

NVIDIA to Re-introduce GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER GPUs

We are just a few weeks away from the launch of NVIDIA's latest GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards based on the new Ampere architecture, and there is already some news regarding the lineup position and its possible distortion. According to multiple sources over at Overclocking.com, NVIDIA is set to re-introduce its previous generation GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER graphics cards to the market. Once again. The source claims that NVIDIA is already pushing the stock over to its board partners and system integrators to use the last-generation product. So far, it is not clear why the company is doing this and we can only speculate on it.

The source also claims that the pricing structure of the old cards will be 300 EUR for RTX 2060 and 400 EUR for RTX 2060 SUPER in Europe. The latter pricing models directly competes with the supposed 399 EUR price tag of the upcoming GeForce RTX 3060 Ti model, which is based on the newer Ampere uArch instead of the last-gen Turing cards. The possibility for such a move is a possible scarce of GA106/GA104 silicon needed for the new cards, and the company could be aiming to try and satisfy the market with left-over stock from the previous generation cards.

Linux Gets Ported to Apple's M1-Based Devices

When Apple introduces its lineup of devices based on the custom Apple Silicon, many people have thought that it represents the end for any further device customization and that Apple is effectively locking-up the ecosystem even more. That is not the case we have today. Usually, developers working on Macs are always in need of another operating system to test their software and try it out. It means that they have to run some virtualization software like virtual machines to test another OS like Linux and possibly Windows. However, it would be a lot easier if they could just boot that OS directly on the device and that is exactly why we are here today.

Researchers from Corellium, a startup company based in Florida, working on ARM device virtualization, have pulled off an incredible feat. They have managed to get Linux running on Apple's M1 custom silicon based devices. The CTO of Corellium, Mr. Chris Wade, has announced that Linux is now fully usable on M1 silicon. The port can take full advantage of the CPU, however, there is no GPU acceleration for now, and graphics are set to the software rendering mode. Corellium also promises to take the changes it made upstream to the Linux kernel itself, meaning open-source and permissive license model. Below you can find an image of Apple M1 Mac Mini running the latest Ubuntu OS build.

MediaTek Launches 6nm Dimensity 1200 Premium 5G SoC

MediaTek today unveiled its new Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 5G smartphone chipsets with unrivaled AI, camera and multimedia features for powerful 5G experiences. The addition of the 6 nm Dimensity 1200 and 1100 chipsets to MediaTek's 5G portfolio gives device makers a growing suite of options to design highly capable 5G smartphones with top of the line camera features, graphics, connectivity enhancements and more.

"MediaTek continues to expand its 5G portfolio with highly integrated solutions for a range of devices from the high-end to the mid-tier," said JC Hsu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of MediaTek's Wireless Communications Business Unit. "Our new Dimensity 1200 stands out with its impressive 200MP camera support and advanced AI capabilities, in addition to its innovative connectivity, display, audio and gaming enhancements."

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force Motherboard Pictured

Here's the first picture of the MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force, an interesting new product from MSI slotted in its upper-mid tier MPG line of motherboards. This Socket LGA1200 motherboard based on the Intel Z590 chipset is characterized by a Hip Hop design language that's a break away from the company's other MPG Z590 motherboards, with a dash of neon-noir colors. A pair solid ridged heatsinks cool the board's 16-phase CPU VRM. Another set of three heatsinks cover its three M.2 NVMe slots, one of which is PCIe Gen 4 and wired to the LGA1200 socket, and the other two to the Z590 PCH.

Expansion slots on the MPG Z590 Gaming Force include two PCI-Express 4.0 x16 (x8/x8 with both populated), an x16 (electrical PCI-Express 3.0 x4) slot that's wired to the PCH, and a pair of x1 slots. The rest of the board's feature set appears to roughly match the MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon, including a 6-pin PCIe power input to supplement the two 8-pin EPS and 24-pin ATX power inputs, POST debug readout, a fairly premium onboard audio solution, and other connectivity that possibly includes 2.5 GbE.
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force

GIGABYTE Outs GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC WaterForce WB

GIGABYTE is ready with its GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC WaterForce WB graphics card. This card is extensively based on the company's more affordable Gaming OC custom-design RTX 3080 PCB, but comes with a factory-fitted full-coverage water-block, and is targeted at those with DIY liquid cooling setups. GIGABYTE sells another such custom RTX 3080 card, the RTX 3080 AORUS Xtreme WaterForce WB, which is based on the top-tier AORUS Xtreme PCB. The new RTX 3080 Gaming OC WaterForce WB is about 32 cm in length, same as the air-cooled card it's derived from, is 2 slots thick, and standard height. In comparison, the AORUS Xtreme WaterForce WB is 25.2 cm in length (just about the length of the PCB), 16.3 cm tall, and the block is single-slot thick, although its I/O forces it to be 2-slot.

The GIGABYTE RTX 3080 Gaming OC WaterForce WB uses nickel-plated copper as its primary material for the water-block, capped by an acrylic top that's mostly covered by by a plastic+metal shroud. The top is studded with addressable RGB LEDs that can be controlled using GIGABYTE's RGB Fusion software. The card comes with the same 1800 MHz GPU Boost factory-OC as its air-cooled sibling (compared to 1710 MHz reference). It does not come with the leak-detection feature you get with the AORUS Xtreme WaterForce WB. Connectivity includes three DisplayPort 1.4a and two HDMI 2.1 connectors. The card pulls power from two 8-pin PCIe inputs. The company didn't reveal pricing.
Tuesday, January 19th 2021
HyperX Pulsefire Haste Review

HyperX Pulsefire Haste Review

At just 57 g, the ambidextrous Pulsefire Haste is HyperX's first ultra-lightweight mouse. Equipped with TTC Golden switches rated for 60 M clicks for the main buttons, PixArt's PAW3335 sensor, high quality pure PTFE feet, and a highly flexible, braided cable, the Pulsefire Haste should be worth a look if you’re after an affordable gaming mouse.

HP Powers Digital Classroom Experiences with New Chromebooks

HP Inc. announced five new Chromebooks to help teachers and students stay connected, productive, focused, and secure whether at home, in the classroom, or a blend of both. The PC has never been more essential in education. There has been a 46% increase in device shipments for teachers and students over the past year and 66% of teachers expect blended learning to continue after the pandemic. With nearly 70% of teachers and students feeling less connected to each other during the pandemic,4 HP's technology solutions foster collaboration and community during this time of unprecedented change, ensuring teachers can find new ways to connect with students, and students can be seen and heard regardless of their location.

"HP is committed to enabling better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025. With education no longer confined to the four walls of the classroom, HP is creating technology that helps teachers, students, as well as parents, thrive in blended learning environments," said Bill Avey, General Manager and Global Head of Education, Personal Systems, HP Inc. "HP's innovative Chromebook lineup gives educators and students access to flexible, engaging, and personalized devices that are critical to ensuring a quality education."

Acer Unveils Tough New TravelMate Spin B3 Laptop for Classrooms

Acer today announced the new TravelMate Spin B3 (TMB311R-32) convertible laptop with military-grade durability, a device specially designed for classrooms. The touchscreen device features a Full HD webcam and blazing-fast Intel Wi-Fi 6, providing students with everything they need to succeed in interactive or virtual classrooms that make heavy use of media-based teaching materials.

Ultimately, the Acer TravelMate Spin B3 is a reliable device that strives to provide protection against common accidents, allowing parents and teachers to focus on what matters most: learning.

Privacy Focused DuckDuckGo Search Engine Surpasses 100 Million Daily Searches

The privacy-focused DuckDuckGo search engine has seen tremendous growth recently surpassing 100 million daily searches on January 11th 2021. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from competing search engines by not customizing ads to a specific user instead showing ads purely based on the search term. Since DuckDuckGo was launched in 2008 they have grown from processing 100,000 searches a day to now over 100 million searches daily. For comparison, Google processes roughly 5.5 billion searches a day and Bing 200 million so while DuckDuckGo still has a long way to go to becoming a household name they have made remarkable progress. This latest round of growth can be attributed to the upcoming WhatsApp privacy policy changes which have reminded consumers of the importance of internet privacy and security.

Thermaltake Introduces the ToughDesk 500L RGB Battlestation Gaming Desk

Thermaltake, the leading PC DIY premium brand for Cooling, Gaming Gear, and Enthusiast Memory solutions, today announced the ToughDesk 500L RGB Battlestation Gaming Desk. The new technology and extensive functions of the desk include electric height adjustment control, anti-collision safety sensor, cable management space, and a built-in full surface RGB mouse pad for users to customize their own battle colors! The illuminating full surface mouse pad comes with 16.8M RGB color combinations; brightness, speed, and direction of the lighting effects are customizable via the iTAKE software. Exterior design and functionalities of the ToughDesk 500L RGB Battlestation Gaming Desk are conceptualized for both multi-monitor gaming setups and office use.

NVIDIA Quietly Relaxes Certification Requirements for NVIDIA G-SYNC Ultimate Badge

UPDATED January 19th 2021: NVIDIA in a statement to Overclock3D had this to say on the issue:
Late last year we updated G-SYNC ULTIMATE to include new display technologies such as OLED and edge-lit LCDs.

All G-SYNC Ultimate displays are powered by advanced NVIDIA G-SYNC processors to deliver a fantastic gaming experience including lifelike HDR, stunning contract, cinematic colour and ultra-low latency gameplay. While the original G-SYNC Ultimate displays were 1000 nits with FALD, the newest displays, like OLED, deliver infinite contrast with only 600-700 nits, and advanced multi-zone edge-lit displays offer remarkable contrast with 600-700 nits. G-SYNC Ultimate was never defined by nits alone nor did it require a VESA DisplayHDR1000 certification. Regular G-SYNC displays are also powered by NVIDIA G-SYNC processors as well.

The ACER X34 S monitor was erroneously listed as G-SYNC ULTIMATE on the NVIDIA web site. It should be listed as "G-SYNC" and the web page is being corrected.
NVIDIA has silently updated their NVIDIA G-SYNC Ultimate requirements compared to their initial assertion. Born as a spin-off from NVIDIA's G-SYNC program, whose requirements have also been laxed compared to their initial requirements for a custom and expensive G-SYNC module that had to be incorporated in monitor designs, the G-SYNC Ultimate badge is supposed to denote the best of the best in the realm of PC monitors: PC monitors that feature NVIDIA's proprietary G-SYNC module and HDR 1000, VESA-certified panels. This is opposed to NVIDIA's current G-SYNC Compatible (which enables monitors sans the G-SYNC module but with support for VESA's VRR standard to feature variable refresh rates) and G-SYNC (for monitors that only feature G-SYNC modules but may be lax in their HDR support) programs.

Samsung Officially Announces 870 EVO SATA SSD Series

Samsung today has officially taken the lid off their latest consumer-oriented SATA SSDs, the 870 EVO. The 870 EVO series from Samsung don't push the maximum storage density ceiling on traditional SATA consumer drives, topping out at a maximum 4 TB, but they do achieve that ceiling whilst making use of Samsung's 128-layer TLC (Triple-Layer-Cell) NAND, which offers increased endurance (and higher theoretical performance than) more widespread QLC-based SSDs (of which Samsung launched the 870 QVO back in July 2020).

Samsung quotes SATA sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 530 MB/s respectively, with a "variable SLC" cache (which means it decreases in maximum size as the available free drive space decreases). The drives are also quoted at 98K IOPS Random Read, and 88K IOPS Write, and feature the company's Intelligent TurboWrite to maintain the interface's SATA 6 Gbps saturation as long as possible before sustained performance degradation appears. Samsung claims the 870 EVO also delivers a nearly 38% improvement in random read speeds over the previous 860 model, and quotes a (TBW) rating of 2,400 TB (or a 5-year limited warranty, whichever comes first) for its 4 TB model. The 870 EVO is available in either 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, or 4 TB capacities, with the drives' RAM buffer scaling almost accordingly (512 MB DDR3 for the 256/512 Gb models, 1 GB for the 1 TB, 2 GB for the 2 TB drive, and 4 GB for the 4 TB one. Pricing starts at $49,99 for the 256 GB model; 500 GB for $79.99, 1 TB for $139.99; 2 TB for $269.99; and 4 TB for $529.99.

Qualcomm Announces Boosted Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform, a follow-on to the flagship Snapdragon 865 Plus, which features an enhanced Qualcomm Kryo 585 CPU prime core clock speed of up to 3.2 GHz. The new Snapdragon 870 is designed to deliver increased performance across the board for geared-up gameplay with insanely fast Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming experiences, truly global 5G sub-6 GHz and mmWave, and ultra-intuitive AI.

"Building upon the success of Snapdragon 865 and 865 Plus, the new Snapdragon 870 was designed to address OEM and mobile industry requirements," said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "Snapdragon 870 will power a selection of flagship devices from key customers including Motorola, iQOO, OnePlus, OPPO, and Xiaomi."

16-Core Intel Alder Lake-S Processor Appears with DDR5 Memory

Intel has just launched its Rocket Lake-S desktop lineup of processors during this year's CES 2021 virtual event. However, the company is under constant pressure from the competition and it seems like it will not stop with that launch for this year. Today, thanks to the popular leaker @momomo_us on Twitter, we have the first SiSoftware entries made from the anonymous Alder Lake-S system. Dubbed a heterogeneous architecture, Alder Lake is supposed to be Intel's first desktop attempt at making big.LITTLE style of processors for general consumers. It is supposed to feature Intel 10 nm Golden Cove CPU "big" cores & Gracemont "small" CPU cores.

The SiSoftware database entry showcases a prototype system that has 16 cores and 32 threads running at the base frequency of 1.8 GHz and a boost speed of 4 GHz. There is 12.5 MB of L2 cache (split into 10 pairs of 1.25 MB) and 30 MB of level-three (L3) cache present on the processor. There is also an Alder Lake-S mobile graphics controller that runs at 1.5 GHz. Intel Xe gen 12.2 graphics is responsible for the video output. When it comes to memory, Alder Lake-S is finally bringing the newest DDR5 standard with a new motherboard chipset and socket called LGA 1700.

ASUS Unveils GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER ZAKU II EDITION Graphics Card

ASUS has been super hyped-up about the popular Japanese military science fiction media franchise/media mix called GUNDAM, where the company has developed multiple products based on the series. Starting with the all-white GUNDAM GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards to the latest edition of ASUS TUF Gaming X3 GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER ZAKU II EDITION graphics card, ASUS seems to be loving the fiction universe of GUNDAM. The latest GTX 1660 SUPER graphics card is a factory overclocked design with a slight improvement to the boost speed. The GPU will boost up to 1830 MHz, representing a mere 2.5% improvement. The rest of the specifications match the reference GTX 1660 SUPER design with 1408 CUDA cores and 6 GB of GDDR6 14 Gbps memory.

However, the main appealing and marketing thing about this card is not its overclocking speeds, but rather its aesthetics. It features Char's MS-06S ZAKU II Mobile Suit color scheme, which is a red colorway. It comes in a 2.7 slot body with a triple-fan cooling system, and a special red backplate with some stylish character animation.

Chinese Tianshu Zhixin Announces Big Island GPGPU on 7 nm, 24 billion Transistors

Chinese company Shanghai Tianshu Zhixin Semiconductor Co., Ltd., commonly known (at least in Asia) as Tianshu Zhixin, has announced the availability of their special-purpose GPGPU, affectionately referred to as Big Island (BI). The BI chip is the first fully domestic-designed solution for the market it caters to, and features close to the latest in semiconductor manufacturing, being built on a 7 nm process featuring 2.5D CoWoS (chip-on-wafer-on-substrate) packaging. The chip is built towards AI and HPC applications foremost, with applications in other industries such as education, medicine, and security. The manufacturing and packaging processes seem eerily similar to those available from Taiwanese TSMC.

Tianshu Zhixin started work on the BI chip as early as 2018, and has announced that the chip features support for most AI and HPC data processing formats, including FP32, FP16, BF16, INT32, INT16, and INT8 (this list is not exhaustive). The company says the chip offers twice the performance of existing mainstream products on the market, and emphasizes its price/performance ratio. The huge chip (it packs as many as 24 billion transistors) is being teased by the company as offering as much as 147 TFLOPs in FP126 workloads, compared to 77.97 TFLOPs in the NVIDIA A100 (54 billion transistors) and 184.6 TFLOPS from the AMD Radeon Instinct MI100 (estimated at 50 billion transistors).

BIOSTAR Announces the Z590 Valkyrie and Z590I Valkyrie Flagship Motherboards

BIOSTAR, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices today announces the launch of their latest Z590 VALKYRIE series motherboard range engineered to run Intel's 11th Gen Rocket Lake-S processors.

Designed based on the latest Z590 chipset from Intel, BIOSTAR's VALKYRIE series motherboards are a brand-new breed of enthusiast grade motherboards in the market. Launched in two versions with two different form factors, the Z590 VALKYRIE (ATX) and the Z590I VALKYRIE (Mini-ITX) both carries a fully armored cover design resonating with BIOSTAR's goal of producing a premium flagship motherboard range that adds form, functionality and the wow factor to their product range.

Arctic MX-5 Thermal Compound Listed Ahead of Launch

Arctic is readying its first new high-performance thermal compound in over a decade, the MX-5. 4-gram syringes of the compound started surfacing on Amazon UK, where it's listed for £13.59 (includes UK VAT). The listing does not mention the all-important thermal conductivity or viscosity figures for the compound, but mentions that it is not metal-based (doesn't contain metal particles), is electrically non-conductive (so you can use it on bare FCBGAs/FCPGAs without an IHS) and is designed to hold integrity up to 8 years after an application. The listing mentions a "ships by" date of March 15, 2021, which is also its release date.

Antec Rolls Out DF700 FLUX Mid-Tower Case

Antec today rolled out the DF700 FLUX, an ATX mid-tower case characterized by a unique design for its high-airflow front-panel mesh intake. Rather than a flat panel shape for its mesh, the DF700's mesh curves to the pattern of a wavefront. The top panel features the case's second large mesh vent, while the left side panel is tinted tempered glass. Inside, the case features a conventional horizontally partitioned layout, with the upper compartment that houses the motherboard tray, offering room for graphics cards up to 40.5 cm in length, and CPU coolers up to 17.5 cm in height.

Ventilation options in the DF700 FLUX include three 140 mm / 120 mm front intakes, either three 120 mm or two 140 mm top exhausts, a 120 mm rear exhaust, and two 120 mm conveyors between the bottom and top compartments. The case includes a 5-channel fan+ARGB controller. Storage options include two 3.5-inch drive-bays, a 3.5-inch mount, and three 2.5-inch mounts for a total of six spaces. Front panel connectivity includes a pair of USB 3.x type-A, and HDA jacks. The case measures 467 mm x 220 mm x 486 mm (DxWxH).

Update Jan 19th: The company revealed MSRP pricing in Europe to be 86€.

AOC Launches the AG323QCX2 Curved Monitor: 31.5" VA, WQHD, 155 Hz, 1ms, FreeSync, 1500R, HDR 400

AOC today launched another addition to their gaming monitor lineup in the form of the AG323QCX2. This particular entry from AOC features a 2560 x 1440 8WQHD) 31.5" panel with a VA pixel matrix, which will ensure fast response times - as shown by the 155 HZ refresh rate and 1 ms response time. To support that refresh rate, the AOC AG323QCX2 features support for VESA's VRR (FreeSync). With a contrast ratio set at 3000:1 and a 1500R curvature, this panel looks like a competent solution for users who are looking for 1080p+ resolutions but don't want to bring their graphics cards to their knees with 4K resolution (a reality that is still common, even with the latest (unavailable) GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA.

The AG323QCX2 also features support for VESA's HDR 400 standard, with a typical luminance announced at 400 cd/m² (and HDR10 support). Color technology-wise, we're looking at a a good 99% sRGB color coverage, and a great 91% coverage of the DCI-P3 color spaces, with a calibration that ensures a Delta-E < 2 value, which opens up this monitor's usage for photo and video editing. I/O is assured by 2x DisplayPort 1.3 and 2x HDMI 2.0 (limiting its usage for the latest-gen consoles), 4x USB 3.2 downstream ports, 1x Mic-in, 1x Audio Out, and 2x internal 5 W speakers. Quality-of-life wise, the monitor features inclination, rotation and height adjustments, a 75 x 75 mm VESA mount, blue light filtering and flicker-free background lighting. The monitor comes in at a hefty 7.2 Kg (sans stand). No information on pricing was available at time of writing.

TerraMaster Announces F5-422 NAS with 10GbE Networking For Growing Businesses

TerraMaster, a professional brand that specializes in providing innovative storage products including network-attached storage (NAS) devices, expands its 10GbE Series with the F5-422 5-bay quad-core NAS. The TerraMaster F5-422 is equipped with a powerful Intel Celeron quad-core processor and a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port along with two 1000 MB/s Ethernet ports to support network aggregation. Via the high-speed 10 GbE, the F5-422 can deliver read and write speeds of up to 670 MB/s using 6 TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard drives in RAID 5.

The TerraMaster F5-422 5-bay NAS is ideal for growing businesses with demanding professionals like video editors, 3D animators, photographers, and other content creators that deal with large volumes of data. The F5-422 offers larger-capacity storage for demanding professionals. It comes with advanced security features to protect your sensitive business data.
Monday, January 18th 2021

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
CPU Coolers
Graphics Cards
Memory
Motherboards
Mouse
Mousepads
Notebooks
Speakers
SSD

Logitech Q3 Sales Grow 85%, Operating Income Triples

Logitech International (SIX: LOGN) (Nasdaq: LOGI) today announced financial results for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2021. "This quarter's record results demonstrate the strength of our portfolio, addressing long-term growth trends in remote work and education, video collaboration, esports, and digital content creation," said Bracken Darrell, Logitech president and chief executive officer. "We are increasingly investing in our capabilities and people for the growth potential we see in the future. Logitech has never been more relevant to our customers' work, play and creativity."

Logitech raised its Fiscal Year 2021 annual outlook to between 57 and 60 percent sales growth in constant currency, and approximately $1.05 billion in non-GAAP operating income. The Company's previous outlook was between 35 and 40 percent sales growth in constant currency, and a range of $700 million to $725 million in non-GAAP operating income.

EK Introduces EK-AIO Basic and Special Edition EK-AIO Elite Aurum CPU Coolers

EK, the leading computer cooling solutions provider, is expanding its All-In-One product line with two new products: EK-AIO Basic and EK-AIO Elite Aurum 360 D-RGB. Following the success of EK-AIO D-RGB that comes in three different sizes and EK-AIO Elite with the push-pull configuration, the new EK-AIO Basic now creates a balance in the EK's AIO portfolio by offering a price-competitive, all-black, non-RGB option. The second EK-AIO product making its debut is the Special Edition EK-AIO Elite Aurum - a golden variant of the popular EK-AIO Elite. It boasts a glossy, gold-like nickel finish on the pump cover and fittings for those who want their PCs to sparkle.

The EK-AIO Basic is available in 240 and 360 mm radiator models. These are all-black all-in-one liquid cooling solutions for modern AMD and Intel CPUs. Visually, EK-AIO Basic is minimalistic with a black brushed aluminium-like pump cover and black fans. These performance-focused AIOs offer all the benefits of a water-cooling solution in a compact, easy to install, and maintenance-free design. They are simple, efficient, and come without any RGB lighting. By keeping the aesthetics minimal, EK-AIO Basic can be more competitive price-wise than the pioneering trio with D-RGB implementation.

Intel Rocket Lake-S Processors European Pricing Leaked

Pricing for Intel's upcoming Rocket Lake-S series of desktop processors has recently been leaked by a Dutch computer store. The 11th Generation Intel Core i5, i7, and i9 processors will feature the new Comet Lake CPU architecture while the lower-end Intel Core i3, and Intel Pentium processors will retain the older Cypress Cove CPU architecture. The new Intel Core i9 processors have returned to an 8 core 16 thread design down from the 10 core 20 thread design found in 10th generation processors.

The Intel 11th Generation Core i9 series will be approximately 6.6% cheaper than their predecessors but with 2 fewer cores and 4 fewer threads. The other new processors all see price increases from their 10th generation versions with an average increase of 6.5%. The new Comet Lake CPU architecture is expected to bring significant IPC improvements which may allow them to regain the title of best gaming CPU.

Apple MacBook Pro (2017) Suffers from Widespread Retina Display Flaw

Apple MacBook Pro 2017 models are susceptible to a similar display flaw as the "Stage Light" or "Flexgate" issue found in the 2016 models. Our mid-2017 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which features a 13-inch LED-backlit LCD Retina Display, is exhibiting similar symptoms to the 2016 models, which forced Apple to run a "Display Backlight Service Program" fixing the flaw for free. Unfortunately, the program does not cover 2017 (or later) models. The "Stage Light" flaw, observed in the 2016 model, can be described as a dark horizontal band that appears along the bottom edge of the display with individual LEDs casting a light similar in shape to those of theater stages.

The 2017 MacBook Pro model appears to routinely start failing on the bottom edge of the screen with a soft gray bar appearing. This flaw appears thin on a cold-booted device, and spreads over time with use, as the device heats up. It dissipates as you power the MacBook down or close the lid for a while. The band distorts all content in the region of the display that it affects, including the macOS Dock, and vertically-scrolling content such as web-pages or text documents, and can be particularly bad for content creators working on tasks that are sensitive to display quality, such as Photoshop. Apparently, a small PCB located near the base of the display panel, which handles connectivity of the display with the mainboard, heats up over time, causing the LED backlit film to distort or the display controller PCB to malfunction.

GIGABYTE Launches the AORUS Gen4 7000s M.2 NVMe SSD

Gigabyte Technology, one of the top global manufacturers of motherboards, graphics cards, and hardware solutions, announces today the latest AORUS Gen4 7000s SSD with up to 7 GB/s read speed. Enhanced by the new generation PCIe 4.0 controller with advanced 3D-TLC NAND Flash, it boosts up to 55% more performance than previous generation PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. AORUS Gen4 7000s SSDs come in two capacity variants, 2 TB and 1 TB with M.2 2280 interface to make installation easy. They equip big aluminium thermal interface in different sizes and double side thermal pad with Nanocarbon coating for improved heat dissipation. Meanwhile, the SSD Tool Box application provides the instant overview and adjustment of SSD status.

"The storage devices are taking advantage of the PCIe 4.0 transfer speed that raised from 5 GB/s to almost 8 GB/s, which is great news for users who expect to optimize storage performance and reduce the bottle neck of system operation." said Jackson Hsu, Director of the GIGABYTE Channel Solutions Product Development Division. "AORUS Gen4 7000s SSDs further advance the standards set by our previous SSD products to provide users with breakthrough performance. After the OS installed, uses can enjoy unprecedented 7 GB/s read speed with 1 TB or 2 TB storage capability. The thermal solution and the double-sided thermal pad are designed to slow down the throttling that might occur at high-speed operation of SSD, thus boost the system performance."

Critical Flaw in Windows 10 Could Corrupt Your Hard Drive

Windows OS security is taken seriously, as the OS is wide-spread across millions of PCs around the world, however, there may be issues where OS has some security flaw that is found by external researchers. Due to the sheer code base of the new OS like Windows 10, there are a plethora of bugs and security flaws waiting to get discovered by someone. And today, thanks to the team of cybersecurity researchers, we have found out that in Windows 10 file-system called NTFS, there is a bug that corrupts your hard drive by simply triggering a specific variable name in a file.

If the end-user inside Windows 10 tries to access the NTFS attribute called "$i30" in a specific way, the flaw is exploited. The NTFS search index attribute, specifically the string "$i30", is containing a list of files and subfolders in a directory, and there is even a log of deleted files and folders. After running a specific command inside the command line (CMD) or inside the browser, Windows will start to display warnings of "File or directory is corrupted and cannot be read". After that, the OS will prompt a user to restart the machine and repair the damaged drive, so the Windows disk check utility will start. Once corrupted, Windows 10 will start displaying a notification indicating that the main file table (MFT) on the particular disk is corrupted and thus can not operate. Starting from the build Windows 10 Build 1803 the OS is vulnerable until the current version and a possible fix is expected to be released soon.

MSI Outs MAG A520M Bazooka WiFi and MAG B550M Vector WiFi

MSI updated the entry-level of its AMD 500-series chipset motherboard product stack with two interesting additions. The new MAG A520M Bazooka WiFi is essentially based on the same board design as the MAG B550M Bazooka, but uses the cheaper A520 chipset; while the new MAG B550M Vector WiFi is based on the same design as the MAG A520M Vector WiFi that the company debuted its A520 motherboard lineup with.

The A520M Bazooka is a well spaced-out 240 x 240 mm Micro-ATX board with a 7+2 phase CPU VRM solution that uses a large heatsink to cool the Vcore MOSFETs; four DDR4 DIMM slots, expansion slots that include a PCI-Express 3.0 x16, and two Gen 2 x1 slots; and an entry-level combination of audio CODEC and Ethernet PHY (Realtek ALC887 + RTL8111H). The B550M Vector will be the most affordable B550 offering from MSI, thanks to its narrow Micro-ATX footprint, and just two DIMM slots. Unlike the A520M Vector, this board gives you PCI-Express 4.0 x16 and a Gen 4 NVMe slot. The onboard audio+Ethernet combination is the same as the Bazooka. Both boards offer dual-band 802.11ac WLAN + Bluetooth 4.2, put out by an Intel Wireless-AC 3168 WLAN solution. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Blast from the Past: Creative Announces Updated Sound Blaster Z SE Discrete Sound Card

Creative today has announced an updated to their Sound Blaster Z discrete sound card. The updated Sound Blaster Z SE keeps the up to 116 dB SnR and 24-bit/192 kHz sound of the sound card it updates, but adds 7.1 support for headphones and 5.1 discrete audio on speakers. The new dedicated sound card also features additional gaming profiles (it has specially-designed profiles for PUBG and Fortnite, for example), and new equalizer presets.

If you suppose most of these features could have been added via a software/firmware update, you'd be right; Creative is releasing most of these features via a software update for the Sound Blaster Z as well. Other specifications remain the same, with the Sound Blaster Z SE sound card featuring Creative's Sound Core 3D audio processor. Whether or not there is a requirement for discrete soundcards in this day and age of integrated sound quality is another discussion, as is the option for users to connect and process their audio via an external DAC.

MSI Announces AGESA ComboPI V2 1.2.0.0 BIOS Updates for AMD 500 and 400 Series

MSI announced that it will begin rolling out UEFI firmware updates for its Socket AM4 motherboards based on the AMD 400-series and 500-series chipsets, which incorporate AMD's latest AGESA Combo PI V2 1.2.0.0 microcode. These firmware updates will enable resizable BAR support for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series "Ampere" graphics cards, improvements for Ryzen 5000 series "Vermeer" desktop processors, and an assortment of board model-specific improvements or fixes.

The company will begin releasing these firmware updates for its AMD 500-series chipset motherboards, and its AMD 400-series "MAX" models in January 2021. In February, it will follow up with updates for AMD 400-series non-"MAX" models. The "MAX" model name suffix for an MSI AMD 400-series motherboard denotes a board with a 32-megabyte SPI flash ROM chip that allows MSI to cram in its feature-rich ClickBIOS setup program. Keep checking the "support" section of your motherboard's product page on the MSI website for these firmware updates.

NVIDIA Discloses Listing of Mice Compatible With Reflex Latency Analyzer

NVIDIA has published listings of gaming mice compatible with their Reflex latency reduction technology - specifically, mice that are compatible with NVIDIA's Latency Analyzer, which will ensure the best responsiveness from your NVIDIA-equipped PC in gaming scenarios. The mice listing is always pending updates as more and more manufacturers submit their mice for NVIDIA certification, and the list of certified ones is currently bigger than what NVIDIA is sharing in renders.

As per NVIDIA, the listing of currently-supported and certified reflex mice features a total of 11 mice. Acer features three certified mice in the form of the Acer GM310, Predator Cestus 330, and Predator Cestus 350; Alienware's only mice is the AW610M; ASUS ROG counts with the Chakram Core; Corsair's DARK CORE RGB PRO/ RGB PRO SE make the cut; Logitech features the G Pro X Superlight; MSI counts with the GM 41 gaming mouse in the roster; The Razer Death Adder V2 and SteelSeries Rival 3 also make the cut. These are mice that are certified to provide compatibility with NVIDIA's Reflex ecosystem, which takes into account your graphics card, PC monitor and gaming mouse to ensure the lowest latency and fastest system response times for competitive gaming.

ASUS Launches Pilot the Future Program for the ASUS BR1100C Laptop

ASUS North America today announced the launch of the Pilot the Future program for the K-12 education-focused ASUS BR1100C laptop, which was recently announced at CES 2021. ASUS North America will be kicking off the Pilot the Future Campaign today to provide select K-12 schools in North America with the opportunity to receive a set of 30 ASUS BR1100C clamshell laptops, enough to equip a full class of students for learning remotely and in the classroom. To be considered for the ASUS BR1100 Pilot the Future program, school faculty can submit videos to share with ASUS how their school is preparing students for better collaboration in-person and remotely, as well as how the ASUS BR1100 laptops can help promote learning in their classroom.

From the batch of submissions, ASUS will select a number of schools to move onto the community voting round from March 5 through March 22, where schools with the most votes will be selected as a participant in the program. The Pilot the Future program starts today with initial school nominations through February 26 and concludes when the selected K-12 schools are announced on March 29.

GoDeal24 New Year Sales Roll On with Heavily Discounted Genuine Software

GoDeal24 brings you software for new beginnings this New Year's. Power your next-generation gaming PC, barebones, or hardware-only notebook with genuine, globally-valid Windows 10 operating system at prices starting $7.43 for the mighty Windows 10 Pro. Have more than one machine? Pick up a twin-pack for just $11.53. No modern PC is complete without a productivity suite. Bring home the power of next-gen collaboration with Office 2019 Professional Plus for just $28.96. Combine the two for just $34.92. Also check out other editions of Windows 10, Office, and their combinations, to save even more. GoDeal24 uses advanced payment gateways that accept PayPal, so your purchase is secured.

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MSI, Palit, Gainward Announce NVIDIA RTX 3060 Mini-ITX Graphics Cards

It seems that Mini-ITX lovers will finally be able to get their due Ampere injection to their HPC or small form factor systems. MSI, Palit and Gainward have announced Mini-ITX versions of NVIDIA's RTX 3060 graphics card, enabling higher performance (especially in RTX workloads) than last generation's mainstream RTX 2060 graphics cards. MSI's Aero ITX will be available in base and OC variants, and there's currently no confirmation on how many power connectors are built into those cards (though a standard 8-pin would suffice).

Shuttle Announces Space-Saving Barebones For AMD Ryzen Processors

Some eight years after the last AMD-based Mini-PC from Shuttle, a second processor manufacturer is once again being incorporated into the company's own product line. As an initial model to revive this segment, Shuttle is supplying a robust 1.3-litre PC for AMD Ryzen processors with Socket AM4.

The first product with the model name XPC DA320 is a Barebone from the "XPC slim" family which measures just 4.3 cm. It features the standard design of the range, but also supports the latest AMD Ryzen CPUs in Socket AM4 and up to 32 GB of RAM. Like all Shuttle products in a 1.3-litre format, this solution is also regarded as particularly robust. The AMD Radeon graphics unit which is integrated into the processor works well with up to three UHD displays which can be connected via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort and used simultaneously.

Mysterious GeForce GT 1010 Rears its Head, Targeting OEMs

NVIDIA has quietly introduced a new entry-level desktop discrete GPU positioned a notch below even the GeForce GT 1030. The new GT 1010 is based on the "Pascal" graphics architecture circa 2016, and is cut further down from the 16 nm "GP108" silicon. The GT 1010 appears to be NVIDIA's move at replacing the "Kepler" based GT 710 from its bare entry-level, and helping the company clear out all remaining inventory of the "GP108" silicon from the channel, out to OEMs. The GT 1010 likely features 256 CUDA cores, 16 TMUs, 16 ROPs, and 2 GB of GDDR5 memory across a 64-bit wide memory bus (40 GB/s bandwidth), with a maximum GPU Boost frequency of 1468 MHz. If the GT 1010 does make it to the retail channel, we expect a sub-$60 price. With these specs, the chip will be easily bested by the latest iGPUs from AMD and Intel.

Novachips Announces FIPS-140-2 CMVP Certified 8TB Military-grade SSD

Novachips Co., Ltd., an innovator in flash storage solution, today announced that it had acquired Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 Level 2 (Cert# 3785) certification on its mainstream Scalar (SATA-based) and Express (NVMe-based) Solid-State Drive (SSD). FIPS 140-2 is a standard developed by the National Institute of Standards (NIST) and is widely used to approve cryptography related algorithms and cryptographic modules. To sell into governmental and federal agencies, meeting these standards is mandatory, and an increasing number of healthcare and financial companies have turned to FIPS compliance as a standardized way to meet their security needs. By completing the FIPS 140-2 validation, Novachips is now perfectly positioned to provide its super-density flash storage products to governmental, military, and other mission-critical applications where the customers want to keep massive data secure.

For this certification, Novachips had developed all required cryptographic algorithms and security functions based on in-house ASIC controller NVS3800 hardware and firmware without adopting any 3rd party security components. This single controller design architecture allows achieving lower power consumption and immediate Zeroize service without any delay factor to destroy the key and key materials via specified host commands or external hardware signal input.
Sunday, January 17th 2021

Qualcomm Reportedly Developing Apple M1 Competitor Dubbed Snapdragon SC8280

Qualcomm is no stranger to developing ARM-based computer processors having released the Snapdragon 8cx and more recently the 8cx Gen 2, however they pale in comparison to Apple's recently releases 5 nm M1 chip. Qualcomm has acknowledged that Apple's latest silicon is a sign of where the future of computing is going and it would seem they have been preparing a competitor. In a new report from WinFuture it is revealed that Qualcomm has been developing a new SOC with internal model number SC8280 as a successor to the 8cx Gen 2.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon SC8280 was found in two configurations one with 8 GB of LPDDR5 RAM while the other was coupled with 32 GB of LPDDR4X memory. This is double what Apple offers with the M1 chip which is only available in 8 GB and 16 GB LPDDR4X configurations. The chip has also seen a 13% die size increase coming in at 20 mm x 17 mm up from the 20 mm x 15 mm on the 8cx Gen 2. This new processor is still under development and it is yet to been seen how it will compare with the M1 or the rumored 12-core Apple processor.

Blizzard's Battle.net Launcher Receives a Makeover

Blizzard has recently announced a major overhaul of their Battle.net software to make getting into your games quicker and easier. The new Battle.net design features several major navigation and layout changes including improved game organization, full-page news & game content, revamped social pane, and a new consolidated notification hub. These new features have been under development for some time with beta participants and will now be rolling out to all users starting with North America. The updates will then be rolled out globally in the weeks ahead.

Intel Discontinues All Consumer Optane-Only SSD Products

Intel has quietly announced the discontinuation of all Optane Memory SSDs for the consumer market. The company also confirmed that going forward they had no plans to release any new consumer Optane-Only SDDs. The Intel Optane Memory M10, 800P, 900P, and 905P series SSDs have now all been discontinued with final shipments going out next month. Intel has directed users to look at their Optane Memory H20 with Solid State Storage as a potential replacement, the H20 is a QLC M.2 SSD with 32 GB of Optane memory offered in 1 TB and 2 TB configurations. If you are looking to purchase an Intel Optane-Only SSD you will have to act quickly as once stocks run out they won't be returning.
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