Wednesday, July 18th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Mouse
Notebooks
Processors
SSD
Toshiba OCZ RC100 480 GB

Toshiba OCZ RC100 480 GB

The Toshiba OCZ RC100 is one of the most affordable M.2 NVMe drives on the market. It comes in a super compact form factor barely half as long as normal M.2 drives. The RC100 is also highly integrated, using a single IC that combines SSD controller and NAND flash, but lacks DRAM.

World of Warcraft Engine Updated to Support DX12, Adds 21:9 Cinematic Rendering

The folks at Blizzard have taken it into their hands to update the eons-old, but still running strong, World of Warcraft. Some back-end improvements have been made - and were essentially lost within the latest patch notes, as in, not even mentioned - that included this update to the latest API. The game now supports DX11 and DX12, but there's a caveat - only AMD users should use the DX12 implementation. Players using an NVIDIA graphics card will see an immediate performance hit from going to the more modern renderer. For now, the change is virtual - there doesn't seem to have been any particular work for performance improvements.

Other changes include ditching Exclusive Fullscreen (now only windowed and borderless windowed modes are available), improving the cinematic renderer for 21:9 ratio support, and changing graphical options. The performance presets of low, medium and high have been swapped with 1-10 sliders, which allow for more granular control of graphics options - and improved performance. Though the game really does run extremely well nowadays.

Antitrust: European Commission Fines Google for Record €4.34 billion for Illegal Practices

It's a record-setting fine: the European Commission has officially ruled that Google must pay a fine of €4.34 billion for breaking antitrust laws, specifically related to the implementation of its services within the Android ecosystem. The three key areas within which the EC has found wrongdoings pertain to bundling of its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system; blocking phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android (claiming, without proof, that these versions would offer more security risks), and "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets.

Google now has 90 days to comply with the EC's decision (notwithstanding payment of the fine), which Google, obviously, has already announced will appeal the decision. In a statement to The Verge, a Google representative said that "Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition," and that Google "(...) will appeal the Commission's decision." The idea here seems to be to stop Google from forcing manufacturers to bundle their app and search software stacks - many times in a seemingly unremovable way. You can check the press release in the source link, but some of the more interesting snippets have been collated after the break.

Code of Conduct: Texas Instruments CEO Brian Crutcher Resigns

Texas Instruments today announced the resignation of Brian Crutcher as president, CEO and a member of the TI board. The board has named Rich Templeton, the company's chairman, to reassume the roles of president and CEO on an ongoing, indefinite basis, in addition to continuing as chairman. Templeton's appointment is not temporary, and the board is not searching for a replacement.

Crutcher resigned due to violations of the company's code of conduct. The violations are related to personal behavior that is not consistent with our ethics and core values, but not related to company strategy, operations or financial reporting.

German Retailer Caseking Sold to Gilde Buy Out Partners

Funds advised by Equistone Partners Europe, one of Europe's leading mid-market private equity investors, have agreed to sell a majority stake in Caseking, one of the leading European suppliers of PC gaming, eSports and tech products, to funds advised by Gilde Buy Out Partners. Equistone acquired Caseking in March 2014 and has subsequently supported the company's growth strategy. Caseking's founders and management will retain a stake in the business. The financial terms of the deal are undisclosed and completion of the sale is subject to the approval of the relevant competition authorities.

Cooler Master Improves Deals on Newegg's "Fantastech Sale"

Newegg has its "Fantastech Sale" going on, which has some interesting deals in all manner of tech. These deals include a number of brands and products, so you'd better shop around if you have something on your wishlist and would like to take advantage of discounts. Some interesting deals and prices, for instance, can be found on a Gigabyte GTX 1080, which can be had for just$ 449.99 after all discounts have been applied (never thought I'd see such a price ever again in this generation); Gigabyte's X470 AORUS Ultra Gaming can be had for just $109.99, down from the $139.99 asking price; the CORSAIR TX-M Series TX550M power supply can be had for just $34.99, down from its usual $79.99 pricing; and Cryorig's H7 tower cooler is down by 44% to just $27.99.

Western Digital Shuts Down Hard Drive Factory - Just not Enough Demand

With the advent of solid-state storage in pretty much every device you can think of, demand for mechanical HDDs has gone down, because users prefer fast and compact SSD storage over the mechanical dinosaurs. HDD manufacturers have been trying to stop the inevitable by coming out with new technologies to increase capacity - faster than SSD pricing can drop, but it seems they can't prevent the inevitable.

Now The Register UK reports that Western Digital will close its HDD factory near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is one of the company's first factories, operating since 1973. After the shutdown of the Malaysia plant, WD will be left with only two factories in Thailand, and is now trying to gain more share in the SSD market.

Ubisoft Reports Apr-Jun 2018 Financials - $461 Million in Sales, PS4 more than 2x that of PC

Today, Ubisoft released its sales figures for the first quarter of fiscal 2018-19, i.e. the three months ending on June 30, 2018.

Yves Guillemot, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, stated "We had a record first quarter, which exceeded our expectations. This performance was fueled by steady growth for our back-catalog and an excellent momentum for PRI, once again confirming the increasingly recurring profile of our business and the ever-greater success of our digital transformation.

Our teams are continuing to deliver on our strategic plan of ramping up our franchises. Assassin's Creed Odyssey and The Division 2 were very well received at E3, confirming their full potential in a highly competitive environment. Our new creation, Skull & Bones, also made a very good impression due to its innovative gameplay combining naval battles with a multi-player experience.

AMD Shares to Jump 25% in Wake of PC Market Growth: Stifel

Analyst Kevin Cassidy, responsible for AMD shares rating with Stifel, has revised expected AMD growth in the wake of expected (and already verified) PC market growth. Following the news at the end of last week, AMD shares jumped by 5% on Friday, and increased by another 2% on Monday. This marks an increase of 61.3% YTD (year-to-date.) Looking at this trend, the analyst increased his 12-month price target on the stock to $21 from $17, a nearly 27% upside from Monday close.
Tuesday, July 17th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cooling
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Motherboards
Processors
Speakers
Upcoming Hardware Launches 2018 (Updated)

Upcoming Hardware Launches 2018 (Updated)

This article serves as a continuously updated summary of currently known leaks and official announcements regarding upcoming hardware releases in 2018 and beyond. We cover and keep track of Intel Cannon Lake, AMD Zen 2, NVIDIA Turing, and NVIDIA Ampere, and more.
Team Group Vulcan Gaming DDR4 3200 MHz TUF Edition

Team Group Vulcan Gaming DDR4 3200 MHz TUF Edition

Looking for that specially designed memory kit for your motherboard? Got one of those new ASUS TUF motherboards? We've got another option for you here from Team Group, with their no-LED Vulcan series for ASUS TUF motherboards running at 3200 MHz DDR4.

VirtualLink: New Open Industry Standard for Next-Generation VR Headsets

(Editor's Note: Naturally, the adoption of such a standard does imply that graphics card manufacturers will have to start fitting USB 3.1 connectors on their graphics card outputs. This opens up a proverbial can of worms on backwards compatibility of this new data delivery protocol, however, in that even current top-of-the-line graphics cards lack such a port - meaning that this protocol will only be compatible with eventual, future GPU releases.)

A new industry consortium led by NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft today introduced the VirtualLink specification - an open industry standard that enables next-generation VR headsets to connect with PCs and other devices using a single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C connector, instead of a range of cords and connectors.

NZXT Announces the E Series Digital PSUs, 500 W to 850 W, 80PLUS Gold

NZXT today announces a new line of digital ATX PSUs designed to provide PC builders with real-time power monitoring and control. The E Series lineup includes 500W, 650W, and 850W models, all 80 PLUS Gold certified. For these PSUs, NZXT partnered with Seasonic, one of the most highly-regarded PSU manufacturers, and worked with them to enhance their Focus+ Gold platform and PMBus architecture, adding a powerful Texas Instruments DSP and USB connectivity.

"The PSU is a critical part of your PC. Our goal for creating smarter PC capable of automatically responding to the demands of the application--whether you are browsing the web, drafting email, or playing your favorite game--includes adding control and monitoring to devices that are integral to the system," said Johnny Hou, founder, and CEO of NZXT.

AOC Releases 31.5" 1440p IPS Monitor with FreeSync

Display specialist AOC announces the Q3279VWFD8, a sibling to the 31.5" Q3279VWF, a superb allrounder from the well-received 79 series, which debuted last autumn and received huge appraisal for its extraordinary price/performance ratio. The new monitor, Q3279VWFD8 uses a different panel type - IPS - rather than the VA panel used in its older brother and boasts a wider colour gamut for increased colour accuracy and therefore more vivid, natural and eye-catching imagery. The Q3279VWFD8's 31.5" IPS panel offers a highly detailed QHD resolution (2560x1440 pixels), 5 ms GtG response time, AMD FreeSync support and 75 Hz refresh rate. Aimed at particularly budget conscious home power users, internet cafés and everyone who is after jaw-dropping specs without breaking the bank are going to be well-served with the Q3279VWFD8.

Crucial Ballistix Sport AT Gaming Memory Now Available

Ballistix, a leading global brand of gaming memory, today announced the immediate availability of Ballistix Sport AT memory in support of ASUS' TUF Gaming Alliance. Developed as a collaboration between ASUS, Ballistix, and other trusted industry partners, TUF Gaming Alliance ensures easier building, the best compatibility, and complementary aesthetics from components to cases.

"Our TUF Gaming Alliance relationship with Ballistix, the memory brand of choice for so many gamers, offers customers and partners an exciting new product for PC builds," said Sharon Pan, Division Director of the ASUS Motherboard Channel PM Department. "On the heels of all the positive feedback at Computex 2018, we're looking forward to a successful collaboration with Ballistix as we continue to create products that excel in both performance and aesthetics."

Corsair Announces Carbide Series SPEC-06 RGB Case

Corsair, a world leader in PC gaming peripherals and enthusiast components, today unveiled the latest addition to its Carbide Series of enthusiast PC cases, the CORSAIR Carbide Series SPEC-06 RGB. A tempered glass side panel and RGB-lit front panel showcase and highlight your build, while Direct Airflow Path design delivers cool air to the systems hottest components and keeps your PC ahead of the curve.

With a beautiful tempered glass side panel, the SPEC-06 RGB allows you to show off your system in style, highlighted by a stunning RGB-lit curve recessed into the distinctive front panel. The integrated RGB front lighting is easily controlled by a built-in three-switch controller that adds dramatic illumination to your system, with seven different colors, two lighting speeds, and five color shifting modes including color wave, heartbeat, rainbow wave and more. Let your PC shine bright with vibrant patterns or stick to solid colors to match your setup.

Cooler Master Debuts a Full Range of Accessories

Cooler Master today debuts a full line Accessories, including splash-proof mousepads, wrist rests and also a Keyboard Maintenance Kit. The new mousepads and wrist rests are available in sizes ranging from small to extra-large and each feature Cooler Master's iconic purple hexagon logo. The Mousepads; MP510 (S, M, L, XL) and Wrist rests; WR530 (S, L, XL) are pro-grade gaming tools perfect for gamers looking for a top of the line experience.

"We are constantly searching for new ways to offer gamers top of the line tools to make their gaming experience, so we took fabric mousepads and wrist rests a step further. Making them splash-proof seemed like the logical way to go. Spills and sweat are no longer a worry. Additionally, the Cooler Master Hexagon logo glows in the dark to add some funk," says Bryant Nguyen, Peripheral General Manager.

Kaspersky Labs Warns Against Cryptocurrency Social Engineering Schemes

The cryptocurrency phenomenon and the growth of a keen audience of cryptocurrency owners was never going to go unnoticed by cyber-criminals. To achieve their nefarious goals they typically use classical phishing techniques, however these often go beyond the 'ordinary' scenarios we have become familiar with. By drawing inspiration from ICO (initial coin offering) investments and the free distribution of crypto coins, cyber criminals have been able to profit from both avid cryptocurrency owners and rookies alike.

Some of the most popular targets are ICO investors, who seek to invest their money in start-ups in the hope of gaining a profit in the future. For this group of people, cyber-criminals create fake web pages that simulate the sites of official ICO projects, or try to gain access to their contacts so they can send a phishing email with the number of an e-wallet for investors to send their cryptocurrency to. The most successful attacks use well-known ICO projects. For example, by exploiting the Switcheo ICO using a proposal for the free distribution of coins, criminals stole more than $25,000 worth of cryptocurrency after spreading the link through a fake Twitter account.

Samsung Announces First 8Gb LPDDR5 DRAM using 10 nm Technology

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has successfully developed the industry's first 10-nanometer (nm) class* 8-gigabit (Gb) LPDDR5 DRAM. Since bringing the first 8Gb LPDDR4 to mass production in 2014, Samsung has been setting the stage to transition to the LPDDR5 standard for use in upcoming 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered mobile applications.

The newly-developed 8Gb LPDDR5 is the latest addition to Samsung's premium DRAM lineup, which includes 10nm-class 16Gb GDDR6 DRAM (in volume production since December 2017) and 16Gb DDR5 DRAM (developed in February).

Mad Catz Announces Sale of TRITTON Gaming Audio Brand

Mad Catz Global Limited, the new owners of the legendary hardware brand, today announced that it has sold its TRITTON gaming audio brand, to Silkysea International Limited, a company based in California, USA. The assets sold by Mad Catz Global Limited includes specified trademarks valid in the USA, China, Hong Kong and Russia.

Lucian Lu, Executive Board of Directors for Mad Catz Global Limited commented, "Since announcing the return of the Mad Catz brand in January 2018, we have been overwhelmed with support from retail, distributors and the gaming community. We remain highly focused on exceeding expectations for the brand, and look forward to the imminent shipping of our first line of new Mad Catz products. As we put our combined efforts into growing the Mad Catz brand, we are pleased to find a buyer who can devote the time and resources needed to see the TRITTON line flourish and wish Silkysea International every good luck with their future TRITTON endevours."

EVGA X299 DARK BIOS Update Includes In-BIOS Stress Test and OC Robot

A new BIOS Update is available now for the EVGA X299 DARK Motherboard which features several brand new exclusive features. This new update is further proof of EVGA's commitment to the enthusiast community, and these new features will also be standard on all future EVGA enthusiast motherboards.

Key Features of the New EVGA GUI BIOS:
  • Built in CPU Stress Test - Test your CPU overclock with the click of a button from directly in the BIOS! No reboot needed.
  • EVGA OC Robot - Automatically test and find a stable overclock for your system.
  • Gamer Mode - Set a conservative overclock in seconds.

Intel Z370 Chipset Motherboards Get 8-core CPU Compatibility BIOS Updates

A variety of motherboards based on Intel Z370 Express chipset began receiving the first BIOS updates that add compatibility with upcoming Intel 8-core processors. The updates are flagged "beta" by the manufacturers. Given that only Z370 (and not other 300-series chipset models) have such updates, it's possible that Intel could restrict the first socket LGA1151 8-core processor SKUs (which could be unlocked "K" variants with higher TDP) to Z370 chipset, as the chipset has stronger VRM requirements than other chipset models that don't support CPU overclocking.

To support the upcoming processors, the BIOS needs to include the latest 06EC microcode revision. Various motherboard manufacturers, such as ASUS, ASRock, and MSI, have released beta BIOS updates with this microcode, as confirmed in AMI Aptio inspection tool screenshots. The 06EC microcode, detailed in this slide-deck from Intel, hardens the machine against newer variants of the "Spectre" vulnerability. Older revisions of this document also mentioned support for Intel Core "9000 series" processors, before Intel scampered to redact it.
Monday, July 16th 2018

Today's Reviews

Accessories
Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Networking
Notebooks
PSUs
SSD
Storage
Corsair Carbide 275R

Corsair Carbide 275R

The Corsair Carbide 275R is not meant to turn heads, that is the job of the Obsidian series. Instead, it offers an extremely solid, functional, and inclusive feature set to cater to a broad audience with the understated looks to match. Couple that with a fair price tag and you have yourself an easy choice when going for a solid, functional, and useful system.

Micron and Intel go Separate Ways for 3D XPoint Program After 2019

Micron and Intel today announced an update to their 3D XPoint joint development partnership, which has resulted in the development of an entirely new class of non-volatile memory with dramatically lower latency and exponentially greater endurance than NAND memory.

The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019. Technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint technology will be pursued independently by the two companies in order to optimize the technology for their respective product and business needs.

The two companies will continue to manufacture memory based on 3D XPoint technology at the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) facility in Lehi, Utah.

Gigabyte Launches AORUS P850W and P750W Power Supplies

Gigabyte today announced the release of AORUS P850W and P750W, the first PC power supplies (PSUs) from its premium AORUS brand. The new P850W and P750W bring up 80 PLUS Gold power efficiency silent operation, as well as modular customization, and enhanced durability.

80 PLUS Gold certified the AORUS PSU delivers superior electrical performance at a minimum of 90% energy efficiency, ensuring power waste is kept at a minimum. With less heat and reduced fan noise, gamers with AORUS PSUs can enjoy cool and quiet gaming environment. With optimal support for Intel Haswell processors, the power supply is also ideal for achieving reduced energy. Using 100% Japanese capacitors and premium internal components throughout the design, the AORUS PSU provides users with extended product reliability and lifespan.

QA Consultants Determines AMD's Most Stable Graphics Drivers in the Industry

As independent third-party experts in the software quality assurance and testing industry for over 20 years, QA Consultants has conducted over 5,000+ mission-critical projects and has extensive testing experience and depth in various industries. Based in Toronto, Ontario, QA Consultants is the largest on-shore software quality assurance company, with a 30,000 sq. ft., industry-grade facility called The Test Factory.

EK Announces the Annihilator EX/EP Server Grade CPU Block for Square ILM

EK Water Blocks, the Slovenia-based premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer is announcing a dedicated EK-Annihilator EX/EP Square water block that is specifically developed for LGA 3647 (Socket P) Intel processors. The entire CPU block was designed from the ground up to fit the requirements of the new socket and to integrate multiple connectivity options for server rack requirements. With that said, the new server-grade CPU block is 1U chassis type compatible for use server and workstation type motherboards.

Brainwavz Introduces its M2 IEM in-ear Noise Isolating Earphones, Sony-specific Pads

Global audio specialist Brainwavz, established in 2008 with a focus on offering high quality products at competitive pricing, today announces the availability of its M2 IEM Noise Isolating Earphones in the UK. The M2 IEM are the latest in the Brainwavz range of over 25 earphones and headphones and represent great value at £45.00 /$59.50, from www.brainwavzaudio.com.

Described as the "Bass King" by Digit website, the Brainwavz M2 provide a mature, detailed and refined sound whilst also giving a fun and exciting overall signature designed to sound good with any genre of music. Users can listen to pop, hip hop or country music without sacrificing clarity and performance.

AMD Deepens Senior Management and Technical Leadership Bench

AMD today announced key promotions that extend senior-level focus on company growth. AMD named "Zen" chief architect Mike Clark an AMD corporate fellow; promoted Darren Grasby to senior vice president of global Computing and Graphics sales and AMD president for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and promoted Robert Gama to senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

"We believe the opportunities ahead of us are tremendous as we execute on our long-term strategy and exciting product roadmap," said Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "As leaders, Mike, Darren, and Robert have made significant contributions to our success so far, and these promotions elevate their impact at AMD as we accelerate company growth going forward."

Pay $160 for the AREZ Sticker: The Mess GPP Landed AIC Partners and Consumers in

The same exact graphics cards, made by the same exact manufacturer, in the same exact factory, with the only difference being the "AREZ Strix" branding, priced a whopping USD $160 apart - that's the kind of mess NVIDIA GPP (GeForce Partners Program) left in its wake. Newegg lists the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 (STRIX-RXVEGA64-O8G-GAMING) graphics card at USD $589.99. This card was made before ASUS decided to re-brand its AMD Radeon graphics cards under the AREZ Strix brand, necessitated by NVIDIA GPP. The post-rebrand AREZ Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 (AREZ RXVEGA64-O8G-GAMING), is priced at $749.99 on the same site, a whopping $160 premium for what is basically a sticker. Just to make sure this isn't a discrepancy between the various sellers from Newegg's marketplace, we also post screenshots that confirm both listings are "sold and shipped by Newegg" (and not a marketplace partner).

We noticed this anomaly on Newegg last week (the week of 9th July), and initially dismissed it for a listing error that would be resolved by the retailer in a couple of days. The week passed, and the listings didn't change. NVIDIA triggered a strong backlash for the language of its GeForce Partners Program (GPP), which implicitly forced its AIC (add-in card) partners to keep their well-established gaming hardware brands (eg: ROG, Aorus, MSI Gaming, etc.,) exclusive to GeForce GTX graphics cards, forcing them to re-brand their AMD Radeon products (and stripping them of those well-established brands, thereby putting AMD at a disadvantage). NVIDIA eventually cancelled GPP, but not before the likes of ASUS and MSI committed changes to their product stacks. AREZ is the Frankenstein's monster that was too late to abort, which now threatens to rip off uninformed consumers.
Sunday, July 15th 2018

CORSAIR Teases Upcoming Amazon Prime Day Deals

Amazon's now-annual Prime Day event in July is due to kickoff in less than 24 hours, and this year some of the deals actually look to be proper sales as opposed to the retailer and its partner aiming to reduce inventory of fluff no one purchases. Indeed, we have seen companies already make mention of items that will go on sale on Monday, July 16 to generate interest. CORSAIR must have decided this was a good idea as well, as we received a list of their products that would be available for a lower price than usual during the event. One such product is the Crystal series 570X RGB mid-tower case, which has an MSRP of $179.99 that includes three of their SP120 RGB fans and integrated lighting control, and will be available for $139.99 during said event. Read past the break for more of the teased deals, as well as links on Amazon.com for when they go live.
CORSAIR Crystal 570X RGB case at Amazon (deal will go live July 16, 2018)
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