Thursday, January 18th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cooling
Gaming PC
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
Speakers

BSODs from Meltdown and Spectre Firmware Updates Are Spreading Like the Plague

Have you ever taken your car to the mechanic shop to fix one thing but end up breaking another? Well, that's how Intel CPU owners are feeling right now. Intel previously confirmed that their Meltdown and Spectre firmware updates are causing irritating reboots on systems with Broadwell and Haswell processors. After analyzing the latest customer reports, they are acknowledging that the updates are also causing BSODs on the Kaby Lake, Skylake, Ivy Bridge, and Sandy Bridge platforms. This shouldn't come as a shocker considering how both the Meltdown and Spectre exploits affect Intel processors over the past 20 years. The possibility of all platforms suffering from the same side effects is extremely high. Fear not, though, as Intel is already working on an updated microcode to fix the constant system reboots. Motherboard vendors should have the beta microcode for validation by next week.

Endless Space 2 Starts This Year with 'Vaulters' Expansion and Free Add-ons

Every year Amplitude celebrate the studio's anniversary with their players. For our seventh year of existence we're going BIG, kicking off with the reveal of the Vaulters Expansion for Endless Space 2!

THE VAULTERS EXPANSION - COMING JANUARY 25
This first Endless Space 2 Expansion re-introduces players to the Vaulters, an all-time fan favorite civilization that has been featured in all the Endless games. Did you know that in Dungeon of the Endless you play the crew that will ultimately become the Vaulters in Endless Legend? Auriga is a small world!!! Here's a quick overview of what you can expect from the "Vaulters" DLC. A new civilization means a new way to play, the Vaulters will have the ability to teleport and use the Argosy - their legacy super colonizer ship featured in the Prologue video.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 and ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Pose Together for the Camera

SiSoft's hardware database is a fountain of information for soon-to-be-released hardware if you have the patience to go through all the entries. On this occasion, we get a glimpse of AMD's future Ryzen 5 2600 processor. Similar to its predecessor, the Ryzen 5 2600 is a 65W six-core processor with twelve threads. However, this new model features a 3.4 GHz base clock which is 200 MHz faster than the Ryzen 5 1600 that we reviewed last year. It will also come with 6 x 512 kB of L2 cache and 2 x 8 MB of L3 cache. Being an engineer sample and all, take these specifications with a pinch of salt. According to the entry, the processor was tested on an ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero motherboard that sports AMD's X470 chipset. Unfortunately, we don't have any more details at this time.

Samsung 860 EVO SSD Makes an Appearance

Hot on the heels of Samsung updating its website with its next performance-segment SSD 860 Pro series, with its range-topping 4 TB variant, a similar pre-launch website update revealed the company's next mainstream SATA SSD, the 860 EVO. The drive will be available in three form-factors, 7 mm-thick 2.5-inch, M.2-2280, and mSATA; all with SATA 6 Gbps interface. The 2.5-inch version comes in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB variants; while the M.2-2280 version comes in just 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB variants; and the mSATA version in 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB variants. The drives combine Samsung's latest generation 3D VNAND flash memory built in the 10 nm-class sliicon fabrication process, with an updated controller and refined firmware.

The 860 EVO offers sequential transfer rates of up to 550 MB/s, with up to 520 MB/s sequential writes, up to 97,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 88,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The new-generation flash is rated for "8 times higher" endurance than the 850 EVO series; with up to 2,400 TBW. Samsung is reinforcing its faith in the drive by backing it with 5-year warranties. The company is introducing the new TurboWrite feature, which is a user-configurable SLC cache. You can set anywhere between 12 GB to 72 GB of the NAND flash to function as SLC, so the controller can juggle hot data in and out of it, for improved performance, using the Samsung Magician software.

Sharkoon Announces Quickstore One 2.5" External Hard Drive Enclosure

With the Sharkoon Quickstore One, the range of external enclosures with a USB 3.1 interface expands further. It features a USB Type C port and is suitable for tool-free installation of a 2.5" HDD/SSD with a maximum height of 9.5 mm. The case is compatible with Windows 7/8/10, Mac OS X and Linux. The recommended retail price is 24.99 euros.

Sharkoon has historically offered a large variety of external hard drive enclosures and, with the new Quickstore One, introduces the third portable storage solution with a USB 3.1 interface. The top cover is comprised of brushed aluminum, which is available in the color versions of black or silver, with a plastic underside in black for both versions. The compact dimensions measure 130 x 83 x 16 mm, with a weight without a built-in hard drive of 92.5 grams.

Intel 760p NVMe SSD Variants' Performance Numbers Surface

Earlier this week, we broke the story of Intel giving finishing touches to its new SSD 7-series 760p and 660p NVMe drives. Newer screenshots scored by Tom's Hardware put out the company's performance numbers for each of the five 760p series models, 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. The 128 GB variant is the slowest, and its numbers are the territory of the slower 660p series - up to 1500 MB/s sequential reads, with up to 650 MB/s sequential writes; and 4K random access numbers of up to 100,000 IOPS (both reads and writes).

The 256 GB variant is where the 760p really begins to come to life. With up to 2900 MB/s sequential reads, and up to 1300 MB/s sequential writes, this model begins to make use of the 32 Gb/s PCIe interface. Its 4K random access performance is rated at up to 210,000 IOPS reads, with up to 250,000 IOPS writes. The 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB models have near-identical performance numbers, which are the speeds Intel vaguely advertises for the entire series. The three have the same sequential read speeds of up to 3200 MB/s, and 4K random access performance of up to 350,000/280,000 IOPS (reads/writes). The company didn't put out sequential write numbers of the 1 TB and 2 TB models. Intel reportedly launches the 760p some time early-February.

Intel Core i7-8705G with Vega M Obliterates 8th Gen Core + GeForce MX 150

It looks like Intel has achieved the design goals of its new Core i7-8705G multi-chip module, built in collaboration with AMD. Combining a 4-core/8-thread "Kaby Lake" CPU die with an AMD "Vega" GPU die that has its own 4 GB HBM2 memory stack, the ruthless duo put similarly-priced discrete GPU setups to rest, such as the combination of an 8th generation Core processor + NVIDIA GeForce MX 150. More importantly, entry-level discrete GPU combinations with high-end mobile CPUs have a similar power/thermal envelope as the i7-8705G MCM, but at significantly higher PCB footprint.

Dell implemented the Core i7-8705G on one of its latest XPS 15 2-in-1 models. The device was compared to an Acer Swift 3 (SF314-51), which combines a Core i5-8250U processor with GeForce MX 150 discrete graphics; and a Dell XPS 13 9370, which implements an 8th generation Core processor that has Intel's workhorse graphics core, the HD 620. The three devices squared off against each other at "Rise of the Tomb Raider" game benchmark. The i7-8705G averaged 35 frames per second (fps), while the MX 150 barely managed 24 fps. The HD 620 ran a bored intern's PowerPoint slideshow at 9 fps.

DeepCool Intros Earlkase RGB White Edition

DeepCool today introduced the White Edition variant of its Earlkase RGB mid-tower case. The case features a predominantly matte-white front, and interiors, with matte-black contrasting elements. The tempered glass panel that covers the entire left-side panel is slightly tinted. RGB LED elements in the design include the rear 120 mm fan, and a diffuser along one of the front panel edges. Internally, the case features a contemporary horizontally partitioned layout, with shrouds over not just the bottom partition, but also towards the front, where you'd normally hide a 360 x 120 mm radiator.

The top compartment, which houses the motherboard tray, has room for graphics cards up to 34 cm in length, and CPU coolers up to 16.5 cm in height. Storage areas include two 3.5-inch/2.5-inch drive bays in the bottom compartment, and four 2.5-inch drive mounts above the partition. Ventilation includes three 120 mm or two 140 mm front intakes, two 140 mm or two 120 mm top exhausts, and a 120 mm rear exhaust (fan included). Front panel connectivity includes USB 3.0 and USB 2.0/1.1 ports, and HDA jacks. Measuring 500 mm x 203.5 mm x 510.5 mm (LxWxH), the case dry-weighs around 8.1 kg. The company didn't reveal pricing.
Wednesday, January 17th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Monitors
Motherboards
Networking
Processors
PSUs
SSD

Samsung Starts Producing Industry's First 16-Gigabit GDDR6 Memory

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has started mass production of the industry's first 16-gigabit (Gb) Graphics Double Data Rate 6 (GDDR6) memory for use in advanced graphics processing for gaming devices and graphics cards as well as automotive, network and artificial intelligence systems.

"Beginning with this early production of the industry's first 16 Gb GDDR6, we will offer a comprehensive graphics DRAM line-up, with the highest performance and densities, in a very timely manner," said Jinman Han, senior vice president, Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering at Samsung Electronics. "By introducing next-generation GDDR6 products, we will strengthen our presence in the gaming and graphics card markets and accommodate the growing need for advanced graphics memory in automotive and network systems."

Blade Runner: Revelations - A VR Noir Adventure

If you quite enjoyed the original Blade Runner, even after 35 years of its release (like this editor) and enjoyed Blade Runner 2049 even more (also like this editor), then you're likely interested, at some level, in the upcoming VR adventure. Blade Runner: Revelations is a VR video game that's being developed by Seismic Games and Alcon Media Group, and has an expected release date of mid 2018.

The story is set right after the original Blade Runner, and its events lead up to the Blade Runner 2049 narrative. Gamers will take on the role of Harper - an experienced blade runner that aims to keep 2023 Los Angeles safe. Caught within a twisted replicant plot, players will be tasked with searching for evidence to piece together the truth in some events. Gameplay features include access to a flying spinner, unique weaponry and the Esper image reconstruction technology. And contrary to most VR games, Blade Runner: Revelations features a free-movement design, though it's not a full liberty one, much like the real world's.

Adding Insult to Injury: Fake Spectre, Meltdown Patch Pushes Malware to Users

A Malwarebytes report calls attention to the latest occurrence in the inevitable trend that that ensues a particular security vulnerability being given coverage by the media. As users' attention to the vulnerability is heightened, so is their search for a solution, for a way to reduce the risk of exposition. Hence, users search for patches; and hence, some fake patches surface that take advantage of the more distracted, or less informed, of those who really just want to be left at peace.

Case in point: Malwarebytes has identified a recently-registered domain that is particularly targeting German users (remember: you can be next; it's just a matter of Google translating the page for it be targeting you as well). The website is offering an information page with various links to external resources about Meltdown and Spectre and how it affects processors, and is affiliated with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) - all good, right?

Star Trek Online Celebrates its 8th Anniversary with New Content

Today, Perfect World Entertainment Inc., a leading publisher of free-to-play MMORPGs, and Cryptic Studios announced Star Trek Online is preparing to commemorate its 8th Anniversary. Originally launching in February 2010, the game is now one of the longest running Star Trek series in the history of the franchise and offers 161 episodes, three major expansions and 14 full seasons of playable content. PC captains can help celebrate this milestone throughout the month, by joining daily giveaways leading up to the anniversary and participating in a brand new featured episode and special events for rewards, which begin January 23. Anniversary events will also be available on Xbox One and PlayStation4 at a later date. In addition, Star Trek Online is teaming up with Loot Crate to give away free subscriptions for the Star Trek Mission Crate to kick off the game's anniversary. Captains who visit the in-game C-store from now through January 23 can participate in server-wide giveaways, which allow them to collect a new reward each day, including uniforms, starships and other items. Giveaway items will be revealed on Star Trek Online's blog.

Where Art Thou, Fable? Microsoft Reportedly Delivers Franchise to Playground

Fable has been one of the hallmarks of the modern RPG. Not only because of the series' characteristic graphics and tone signature, with its cartoonish characters, hub world design, and Monty Python-esque sense of humor. It was also due, in no small part, to Peter Molyneux's grandiose sales of his vision for the franchise (which never materialized... but could they ever, really?)

Now, after Microsoft killed off the franchise with its free-to-play bet gone wrong in Fable Legends, it seemed the franchise's future was dark and absent of any real interest in development. However, it seems all hope is not yet lost, as reports (saying they're "sources close from the project") have surfaced that Microsoft has delivered the keys to the Fable universe to Playground Games, responsible for the development of the Forza Horizon series of games. The studio is (also reportedly) in the process of hiring new talent for the expected 200-strong project team set to work on the game at Playground's newly-established second office in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. A quick tour by the studio's website, however, reveals that when it comes to careers, Playground Games are "unable to offer internships or work placements at this time.

Iiyama Starts Selling a 5K, 16:9, 27" IPS Monitor @ 60 Hz for €799

Yes, you've definitely read that right. Iiyama have silently come out with what has to be one of the best price/performance ratio monitors in the high pixel density races. The XB2779QQS is a 27" affair with a 60 Hz IPS panel trucking along in delivering its 5K (5120 x 2880) resolution. The contrast ratio is also a good selling point for the monitor, at 440 cd/m² (we've been seeing one too many 250 cd/m² brightness monitors as of late), and the contrast ratio is rated at 1200:1. For this price, however, the panel remains an 8-bit one, which is still more than enough, as years have shown us. The aspect ratio is the usual 16:9 (which means no fidgeting required with games or other content, as you likely would with most content on a 21:9 screen).

When it comes to connectivity, there are 3x HDMI ports (limited at 3840 x 2160 pixels and 60 Hz), 1x DisplayPort 1.3 (able to display the full resolution and refresh rate) of 5120 x 2880 pixels and 60 Hz. The XB2779QQS is listed at roughly €799 in the EU, which likely means our US readers should be able to snag it for as low as $799. Here's hoping.

InSpectre Tool Determines Whether Your PC is Vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre

During the whole Meltdown and Spectre turmoil, Microsoft released a PowerShell script that lets users assess their system to determine whether it's properly protected against the two CPU exploits. To say that Microsoft's method is non-intuitive is an understatement though. Their procedure involves punching in several lines of commands into the PowerShell prompt only to be presented with an end result of mumbo jumbo. For users who fancy a more straightforward approach, InSpectre might be exactly what the doctor would order. InSpectre is a small tool designed by none other than famous software engineer Steve Gibson to automate Microsoft's time-consuming procedure in a a single click. It also provides results that even non-tech-savvy users can comprehend. However, InSpectre not only scans the user's system but also allows him to enable or disable the Meltdown and Spectre protections.

Ozone Launches Alliance, the State-of-the-art Hybrid Gaming Keyboard

Alliance represents the perfect outcome of the evolution of gaming keyboards, integrating organically the best of both mechanical and membrane keyboards.

Cutting-edge technology
Alliance brings fresh new features to the hybrid keyboards category. With innovative technology that delivers advantages such as multicolored backlighting, semi-mechanical CrossTech Switches, and sound-reactive lighting effects.

Assassin's Creed Origins Gets 'The Hidden Ones' DLC on January 23

Today, Ubisoft announced that The Hidden Ones, the first downloadable content (DLC) for Assassin's Creed Origins, will launch on January 23rd, 2018, on all platforms. Ubisoft also revealed release dates for upcoming Assassin's Creed Origins post-launch content, including season pass content and free add-on content, available to all players. Players can continue their journey through Ancient Egypt with a wide variety of content, including several hours of new storyline expansions and quests, timed events and customization items.

DLC 1 - The Hidden Ones: This story-driven expansion builds upon the growth of the Brotherhood, taking players four years after the events of Assassin's Creed Origins, as they clash with an occupying Roman force in a new region of the world, the Sinai. This expansion will increase the level cap to 45, allowing players to continue to upgrade and customize their character. Players will have access to four new Legendary weapons, a new outfit, two new mounts and multiple new weapons, as well as two new levels for all crafted gear. The Hidden Ones DLC is available for all season pass owners or can be purchased separately on January 23, 2018.

Confessions of a Crypto Miner: The Setup

As I have mentioned on the forums here at TechPowerUp a few times, I was an active crypto-miner during one of the most tumultuous times in crypto history: The period between 2013 and 2015. Rather than tell you a long and sad story, I will say just this: I ended up with a net loss by the end of this era, and it wasn't a good time to be an investor if you didn't like roller coaster rides. The reasons I lost money are many, but I think I can attribute them to primarily a lack of experience, a lack of written records, and really, a complete lack of a plan.

My New Plan
Yes, I'm planning on mining again. I've always been drawn to the tech, and I am in a much better position to do so now. Ironically, this time around, I'm not really in it for the money. I've already been there, done that, and it's too stressful for me. Having no end goal of riches doesn't set me up for failure. I think it is a more realistic mindset for taking on this project. It also gives me a chance to document my endeavor to the world, and to you, dear reader. I hope we all learn something here.

Samsung Reveals 860 Pro 4TB SSD on its Website Listing

Samsung has unwittingly released some specs and product images of the as of yet unannounced SSD product. The 860 Pro SSD carries the model number MZ-76P4T0E, and has a pretty impressive 4 TB capacity that's sure to deliver the highest performance possible on the SATA III interface. The stated performance levels stand at 560 MB/s read speeds, and 530 MB/s write, which should be more than enough for most usage tasks. Pricing is also more than enough, and then some; Samsung is quoting a $1,899 pricing for this particular drive.

Streacom Readies Fanless GPU Heatsink for DB4 Chassis

Expert fan-less case maker Streacom is putting final touches to its fan-less GPU heatsink for the DB4 cube-shaped chassis. The cooler transports heat drawn from the GPU onto the main body panels of the DB4, which dissipate it. Its design is similar to the CPU heatsink included with the case, in which a GPU base where four 6 mm-thick copper heat pipes make direct contact with the GPU, transport it onto a second block that makes contact with the innner wall of the body panel. The cooler comes with included heatsinks for memory and VRM of the graphics card, and is designed to handle thermal loads of up to 65-75W, which would mean lower-mainstream graphics cards such as the GeForce GTX 1050 (or below), and the Radeon RX 550 (or below).
Tuesday, January 16th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Headphones
Keyboards
Processors
PSUs
Sound Cards
SSD
Noontec Hammo Wireless

Noontec Hammo Wireless

Noontec has combined good looks, great sound and microphone quality with excellent comfort and a reasonable price of $150. This is a pair of wireless headphones we can easily recommend to everyone who wants to break free from the cable.

Varmilo Launches the 'Chicken Dinner' Mechanical Keyboard for PUBG Addicts

Varmilo, a renowned Chinese keyboard manufacturer, is adding a PUBG-inspired keyboard to their already exotic lineup. The new Chicken Dinner mechanical keyboard certainly upholds the company's reputation for uniqueness. It features a distinctive multi-colored theme and high-quality dye-sublimated PBT keycaps. And just to put the icing on the cake, Varmilo replaced the number keys and some of the function keys with the corresponding PUBG in-game key bindings. The spacebar even carries the iconic "WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!" phrase. It's safe to say that the Chicken Dinner mechanical keyboard is fit for all tastes. Consumers who prefer compactness can opt for the tenkeyless model (VA87M) and those who need the number pad can grab the full-size model (VA108M). The wide selection of switches includes the Cherry MX Red, Blue, Brown, and Silver.

"You Hold It!" - Cryptocurrency Pricing Plummets as South Korea Revives Pressure

Cryptocurrency value has begun a tumultuous plummet since yesterday, in a market shrinkage that's being mostly correlated with an announcement by South Korean finance minister Kim Dong-yeon that a ban on cryptocurrency trading could still happen, pending a government review. South Korea is one of the world's most relevant economy and technology players, so a ban there could certainly start a domino effect in other countries.

""There are no disagreements over regulating speculation," minister Kim Dong-yeon specifically said - a move that would include a ban on anonymous cryptocurrency account, thus spelling doom for some privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero and ZCash from being traded in the country, for sure. The minister also places a heavy value in being able to tax the income made on virtual currency, and added that shutting down the exchanges was "a live option but government ministries need to very seriously review it."

AMD Announces Enmotus FuzeDrive technology to Speed Up Ryzen-based Systems

AMD today in a blog post announced the fruits of its partnership with Enmotus, a mainly enterprise-focused company that has made its name in creating performance-optimizing software solutions. The new solution, the FuzeDrive, is an ingenius (paid) software stack that will aggregate all of a users' system memory (be it RAM, HDDs, SSDs, NVMe drives, all of that) and expose it as a single drive via software. The goal is to allow the software to optimize data placement on the fly according to its read/write needs, creating caching solutions at will, learning from users' usage patterns, and basically creating a "set it and forget it" experience for users that critically also improves performance (and by AMD's estimates, it really does do so by a significant margin).

All of these features were pretty hard-set from the start; in the AMD blog post by Don Woligroski, he states that "AMD started with a list of goals, like improving storage performance and lowering loading times." AMD's love for open standards still hasn't gone and went away; he said that "because AMD believes in open hardware standards, it prefers to work with off-the-shelf, non-proprietary NVMe, SSD, and hard disk drives." Convenience was also a very important item to check; according to AMD, "any superior storage acceleration solution needs to be easy to set up, and simple to use." And the company believes they've achieved all of that with their new solution.

Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition Release Date, Final System Specs Detailed

The ultimate version of the fifteenth Final Fantasy (how many fantasies can really be final, eh?) has been outed, and now PC gamers now when they can expect to go around the most perfect iteration of the Final Fantasy XV game world. The latest, greatest, and heavily graphically-revised Final Fantasy will finally hit the PC platform on March 6.

The PC version of Final Fantasy XV, will include all previously released DLCs (Episodes Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis as well as multiplayer), extra bosses, a new dungeon, an in-game vehicle and a first-person mode (this is the one I really have to see). As previously covered, the new PC version has been developed with heavy input from NVIDIA, offers up to 8K resolution in HDR, and includes many NVIDIA GameWorks technologies, such as NVIDIA Flow, NVIDIA HairWorks, NVIDIA Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows, NVIDIA Turf Effects, NVIDIA Voxel Ambient Occlusion, and more. With all of that NVIDIA technology being built-in, it's somewhat expected that the game will only run the way the developers envisioned on a green team graphics card. Read on after the break for the latest system specs and the Royal Edition release trailer (a special version that's equivalent to the Game of the Year versions of other video-games, with all the released DLC for console players.)

ViewSonic Introduces New Professional and Enterprise Monitors

ViewSonic Corp., a leading global provider of visual solution products, announced a slate of new professional-grade and enterprise monitors with a variety of sizes and resolutions, including a 32-inch 8K Ultra HD (7680x4320) monitor. The award-winning VP Series will now include the VP2768-4K, a 27-inch 4K UHD (3840x2160) monitor with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and the introduction of the VP3278-8K, a 32-inch 8K UHD monitor. The new enterprise solution displays that fill out the VG Series of monitors include the VG2448 and VG2748 with Full HD 1080p resolution and ultra-slim bezel.

"ViewSonic continues to develop and bring to market desktop monitor solutions for users needing high-performance, high resolution screens to businesses needing powerful yet steadfast workstations," said Al Giazzon, Vice President of Marketing at ViewSonic Americas. "The VG monitors feature connectivity options, super thin bezels and advanced ergonomic options, and delivers color coverage and output performance. With the VP2768-4K, ViewSonic offers 4K resolution, color accuracy and performance uniformity. This is critical to those who work with content and need precision that we can deliver. With the Thunderbolt 3 connection, the VP2768-4K can provide the fastest and most versatile connection for 4K content. The VP3278-8K is ViewSonic's technology statement, to show that we're continuing to bring the best display solutions to the market."

Audio-Technica Revealed QuietPoint ATH-ANC700BT Wireless Headphones at CES 2018

At CES 2018 Audio-Technica debuted its ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint over-ear wireless active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones, which feature the company's latest advancements in ANC technology to deliver superior noise-cancelling performance and audio quality, along with improved wireless convenience. The ATH-ANC700BT wireless headphones with Bluetooth technology employ a newly-developed active noise cancellation system that operates in a wider frequency range in the low through mid range frequencies than typical ANC designs, and provides a greater degree of noise cancellation. The ATH-ANC700BT also provides improved isolation for better cancellation outside the active range. This enables the headphones to have much more effective noise-cancelling performance by responding to and cancelling a wider range of outside noise.

In addition, the headphones' microphones are mounted behind the driver diaphragm. In standard ANC headphones, the mics are mounted in a location where they can unintentionally pick up some of the generated noise-cancelling signal, which is then reprocessed in a feedback loop and can limit noise reduction performance. The ATH-ANC700BT eliminates this issue by placing the ANC mics behind the driver diaphragm, which provides better noise cancellation along with improved audio quality.

TPCAST Announces Their Next-Generation TPCAST 2.0 Technology

TPCAST, the Wireless VR Solutions leader, announces its Next-Generation Wireless VR Technologies, TPCAST ​​2.0, which utilize the new generation ultra-low latency codec technology and an upgraded TPCAST ​​real-time data control protocol. These combined technologies pave the way to allow TPCAST to continue to deliver high video quality, low latency, and real-time data transmission. The introduction of these new technologies, supporting short, mid and long-range distances and covering multiple VR deployment ranges, strategically places TPCAST in the forefront of the future evolution of the Wireless VR Market.

The TPCAST 2.0 technology includes three main features. The first element is the ultra-low latency codec, capable of compressing VR content on a 50:1 ratio which significantly reduces the bandwidth required for video data transmission while bounding the latency to 1ms. This easy-to-use, stable, and ultra-low latency codec enables TPCAST's product family to deliver consistently high-quality real-time video transmission. The second feature of the TPCAST 2.0 technology is its scalability making it easy to adapt to any headset including 3k, 4k, and 8k video resolution HMDs in the market. The third feature is the capability to preserve the user experience compared to a wired connection. TPCAST's proprietary technology, and accumulated VR knowledge base, gained by its long-term leading position in the Wireless VR space, enables TPCAST's products to deliver a stable and commercial-grade VR experience.

Biostar Announces B250MDC Motherboard

BIOSTAR introduces the B250MDC motherboard offering a well-balanced set of features without the premium price point making it ideal for casual users on a budget. The BIOSTAR B250MDC motherboard is the perfect solution for an entry-level desktop computer for daily multitasking use, office application and home entertainment. The B250MDC features a compact micro-ATX form factor that fits in most budget cases. The B250MDC also uses the Intel B250 chipset, perfect for a daily driver with its high-efficiency performance.

The BIOSTAR B250MDC features the Intel B250 chipset offering everything essential for desktop users without compromise. The B250MDC features a single PCIe 3.0x16 slot that can fully utilize high-end graphics cards and NVMe solid-state drives; dual DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 43GB of 2400MHz memory; four speedy USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and a DVI-D output port for basic setups without discrete graphics. Users will also enjoy the board's 7.1 channel High-Definition Audio.

WD Announces G-Technology G-Speed Shuttle Thunderbolt 3 DAS

Western Digital Corporation today introduced two new ultra-transportable solutions in its high-powered G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle product family. The new solutions are designed to meet the demands of professional content creators who need lightning-fast transfer speed and a high-capacity storage solution that can easily be moved from the studio to wherever your project takes you, and back.

The rise of streaming video on demand (SVoD) services is providing many new opportunities for studios, production houses and independent filmmakers. To capitalize on these opportunities, the right tools are crucial. When working in-the-field, production teams need a fast solution that can handle demanding workflows of 4K and 8K content with the ability to collect that precious footage and quickly move the content from location to location.

Be Quiet! Announces Straight Power 11 Modular PSU Series

be quiet!, the market leader in PC power supplies in Germany for eleven consecutive years, announces its latest, most silent power supply, Straight Power 11. With its completely redesigned PCB, wire-free design on the DC side, an expanded power range with models up to 1,000 watts, and a modern topology using high-quality components, Straight Power 11 is a worthy successor to be quiet!'s premium power supply series.

The Straight Power 11 series uses be quiet!'s renowned Silent Wings 3 135 mm fan with a funnel-shaped vent that simultaneously provides excellent airflow and reduces unwanted turbulence. A 6-pole motor and fluid-dynamic bearings create both an extremely low noise level and the lowest startup rotational speed in the market - under 200 revolutions per minute. This fan is extremely silent, making semi-passive solutions unnecessary and ensuring constant cooling at a low noise level. Since fans are not the only source of noise in a power supply, high-quality capacitors are used to prevent high-frequency electronic noise emission and noise induced by extreme load changes (like, for example, from modern graphics cards) is also minimized.

QNAP Launches TS-x28A Series Home NAS

QNAP Systems, Inc. today launched the all-new TS-x28A series NAS for entry-level home users, including the TS-128A and TS-228A models. The TS-x28A series provides complete multimedia storage, sharing and streaming functions, and complete file and data protection capabilities (including snapshots) to meet increasing data protection needs for home users. The launch of the TS-x28A series also marks the milestone of all QNAP NAS on the market being able to benefit from snapshot protection. Users can now enjoy more features, stronger protection, and more cost-effective NAS.

The TS-x28A series features a Realtek RTD1295 quad-core 1.40 GHz processor with 1 GB RAM, providing abundant performance for home multimedia/data storage needs. The TS-x28A series also comes with QTS 4.3.4, the latest version of QNAP's award-winning operating system. QTS 4.3.4 introduces enhanced snapshot features with lowered hardware resource requirements, allowing NAS with 1 GB RAM to benefit from snapshot protection. Users of the TS-x28A series will enjoy these advanced data protection capabilities alongside other amazing applications for multimedia, sharing, backup and data storage at an attractive price point.

TechPowerUp Releases GPU-Z 2.6.0

TechPowerUp today released the latest version of GPU-Z, the popular graphics subsystem information, monitoring, and diagnostic utility. Version 2.6.0 adds support for new GPUs, and fixed several critical bugs. To begin with, GPU-Z 2.6.0 adds support for NVIDIA TITAN V, GeForce GTX 1060 5GB, Tesla K40m, GeForce 825M, Quadro M520, NVIDIA NVS 810, NVIDIA Grid M6-8Q; AMD "Raven Ridge" APUs (RX Vega 8), and Radeon Pro WX9100; and Intel HD Graphics P630, UHD Graphics 630, Gemini Lake UHD Graphics 600. Support is added for AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition.

Among the critical bugs fixed are the application failing to start on some systems due to a broken executable compressor, system crashes experienced on machines with Radeon RX Vega series GPUs, and an application crash on machines with graphics cards that have an empty board id (eg: MSI RX 580 Armor). Fan RPM monitoring is fixed on AMD RX Vega GPUs. Other fixes include "GP100" die-size (correction), and AMD RX 550 "Baffin" reported as "Polaris 21," Intel "Braswell" EU count. Grab it from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp GPU-Z 2.6.0

The change-log follows.

Leaked AI-powered Game Revenue Model Paper Foretells a Dystopian Nightmare

An artificial intelligence (AI) will deliberately tamper with your online gameplay as you scramble for more in-game items to win. The same AI will manipulate your state of mind at every step of your game to guide you towards more micro-transactions. Nothing in-game is truly fixed-rate. The game maps out your home, and cross-references it with your online footprint, to have a socio-economic picture of you, so the best possible revenue model, and anti buyer's remorse strategy can be implemented on you. These, and more, are part of the dystopian nightmare that takes flight if a new AI-powered online game revenue model is implemented in MMO games of the near future.

The paper's slide-deck and signed papers (with corrections) were leaked to the web by an unknown source, with bits of information (names, brands) redacted. It has too much information to be dismissed off hand for being a prank. It proposes leveraging AI to gather and build a socio-economic profile of a player to implement the best revenue-generation strategy. It also proposes using an AI to consistently "alter" the player's gameplay, such that the player's actions don't have the desired result leading toward beating the game, but towards an "unfair" consequence that motivates more in-game spending. The presentation spans a little over 50 slides, and is rich in text that requires little further explanation.
The rest of the presentation follows.

AAEON, an ASUS Company, Unveils World's Most Advanced COM Express Type 10 Module

AAEON, a global leader in embedded computing systems, launches the NANOCOM-KBU, the world's first COM Express Type 10 board to be powered by a 7th Gen Intel Core U Processor. With its powerful CPU, the trailblazing NANOCOM-KBU has onboard 4GB DDR4 memory and a graphics engine that supports 4K applications.

In addition to its Core processor, the NANOCOM-KBU boasts an upgraded embedded controller structure with a real-time interrupt for faster response rates, and it addresses a customer demand for power control and battery management systems. The board's I2C bus also supports a range of IC formats, making it easier for end users to integrate the module with their own custom-made carrier boards. The AAEON NANOCOM-KBU features a wide operating temperature range of -40oC to 85oC, 5V/12V CD input support, a 1GbE LAN port, eight USB2.0 and two USB3.0 ports, two SATA 2 interfaces, and four PCI-E expansion slots.

Intel Core i5-8500 Surfaces on SANDRA Database

It's no revelation that Intel is expanding its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" desktop processor lineup through Q1-2018, alongside cost-effective B360 Express and H310 Express motherboard chipsets. One of these is the Core i5-8500 six-core processor, positioned a notch above the current Core i5-8400. The chip surfaced on a SiSoft SANDRA database entry. Although the i5-8400 launched at $189, retailers are pushing it for 10-15 percent margins above MSRP. The i5-8500 could launch bang-on the $200-mark, although one must expect a similarly jacked up $220-ish retail price.

The Core i5-8500 comes with a psychologically-pleasing 3.00 GHz nominal clock speed (while the i5-8400 has a sub-3 GHz clock of 2.80 GHz). The database entry doesn't reveal Turbo Boost clocks, but given that the i5-8400 comes with a 4.00 GHz Boost frequency, one can expect that of the i5-8500 to be 4.20-4.30 GHz. The 6-core/6-thread chip comes with 9 MB of shared L3 cache, and a TDP rating of 65W. It scored 139.63 GOPS in the Arithmetic test, 317.88 Mpix/s in the multi-media test, 7.49 GB/s in the cryptography test, which puts its performance in the league of AMD's Ryzen 5 1600.

Crucial Starts Selling MX500 2.5-inch SSD Models

Crucial started selling all four models of its premium SATA SSD, the MX500. The drive was launched earlier this month. It comes in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB variants; and in the 2.5-inch form-factor, with SATA 6 Gbps interface. M.2-2280 variants with SATA interface, which were shown off at the 2018 International CES, could launch a little later this year. The 250 GB variant is priced (MSRP) at USD $79.99 ($0.31 per GB), the 500 GB variant at $139.99 ($0.27 per GB), the 1 TB variant $259.99 ($0.25 per GB), and the range-topping 2 TB variant $499.99 ($0.24 per GB). All four models come with 5-year warranties.

Crucial MX500 combines Micron's 2nd generation 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory with a Silicon Motion SM2258 controller, and a custom firmware by Crucial. The NAND flash chips by design offer the same levels of power-loss protection as drives that need capacitor banks to do so. Among its features are Dynamic Write Acceleration (SLC-cached writes), and Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN). All four variants offer sequential transfer rates of up to 560 MB/s with up to 510 MB/s writes, and 4K random access performance ratings of up to 95,000/91,000 IOPS (reads/writes).
Monday, January 15th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Notebooks
Processors
PSUs
SSD
Cherry MX Board 3.0

Cherry MX Board 3.0

The Cherry MX Board 3.0 is a minimalist keyboard for professionals offering low profile, thick ABS keycaps, large anti-slip pads, a key configuration tool, and dedicated media buttons. Despite a release in 2013, it remains relevant and is a good option for consideration in the $80 price range.

Marvell's Ready to launch QLC Controller Delivers 670K IOPS

QLC is the next big step in flash memory, with another bump in density increases and, crucially for consumers, revised, lower pricing for flash-based products that employ the new technology. We've already had a sneak peek at what QLC-based products can deliver - Intel's leaked SSD 660P employs QLC memory and is expected to deliver 1,800 MB/s in sequential read and up to 1,200 MB/s in sequential write speeds with 150,000 IOPS. Expect base drive capacities to increase - QLC being higher density would mean fewer NAND chips, but manufacturers want to keep the added performance of chip parallelism.

However, flash needs controllers to deliver its true potential, and Marvell has one up its sleeve. The new controller will eventually replace the NVMe 1.1 Eldora (88SS1093) used in some popular SSDs that are already shipping, such as Plextor's M9Pe, and the folks at Tom's hardware took a peek at it - running the current TLC memory, that is. The controller delivered over 670,000 IOPS and 3,500 MB/s in the demo, though there's no information on the density of the drive. But for those performance levels, it must've had a good amount of silicon. While not representative of final QLC memory performance of the controller, it's good to know that at least this part of the ecosystem is good to go. Now if only QLC was quick and hot off the presses, we could see a $100 512 GB SSD.

Ducky Teases 'Blade Air' Keyboard with Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Switches

German switch maker Cherry officially announced their MX Low Profile RGB switches at CES 2018 a few days ago. Ducky Channel also seized this opportunity to promote their upcoming Ducky Blade Air mechanical keyboard which features the new low profile switches. Thanks to the slim design, the Ducky Blade Air stands just 22 mm tall, but boasts a full feature set that includes various RGB lighting modes, customizable LED zones, USB N-key rollover support, floating keycap design, Doubleshot keycaps, and macro support. The Ducky Blade Air allows consumers to connect the keyboard to their computers using an old-school USB cable or via a wireless Bluetooth connection. The keyboard works in a Windows or Mac environment, as well as with Android and iOS mobile devices.

HighPoint RocketU 1344A Guarantees Full Bandwidth USB 3.1 Ports

HighPoint announced the RocketU 1344A, a USB 3.1 gen 2 add-on card, which puts out four type-A ports. Its USP is guaranteed 10 Gbps bandwidth for each of the four ports at all times. A PLX PCI-Express gen 3.0 bridge chip segments a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface into two gen 3.0 x2 connections to ASMedia-made 2-port USB 3.1 controllers. Each controller is fed with 20 Gbps of bus bandwidth, and hence the overhead on each port is minimized. This card is ideal for systems that don't support PCIe bifurcation. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Synology Introduces RackStation RS818+/RS818RP+ and Expansion Unit RX418

Today, Synology Inc. launched RackStation RS818+/RS818RP+, a new 1U 4-bay rackmount NAS designed with speedy transmission performance and storage scalability for small and medium-sized businesses. RS818+/RS818RP+ features a 2.4GHz quad-core processor with AES-NI encryption engine, 2GB DDR3 memory (expandable to 16GB in dual channel), and a PCIe 2.0 slot to support an optional 10GbE network card. This powerful hardware provides over 1,099 MB/s reading speed, making RS818+/RS818RP+ an ideal centralized storage option for multi-client data transmissions.

The storage capacity of RS818+/RS818RP+ can be further expanded with the new Synology expansion unit RX418, providing up to 8 drives for flexible data management and backup. RS818+/RS818RP+ comes with four 1GbE LAN ports to support Link Aggregation and failover. Synology High Availability support provides a reliable active/passive server cluster, keeping data and services online. RS818RP+ is also equipped with redundant power supplies to deliver increased service continuity.
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