Monday, May 29th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Desktop PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Mousepads
Notebooks
Processors

AMD Ryzen 5 1400 3.2 GHz

The most affordable Ryzen part at the moment, the $170 Ryzen 5 1400 quad-core processor, is endowed with features you find only on Intel processors twice its price. We're interested to see where that leaves competing Intel parts within its price range.

Is Wood the Next Big Case Material? In Win Thinks So

In Win is one of the most influential brands when it comes to case-design, the company is at the cutting edge of implementing new materials. If 2015-16 was all about tempered glass, 2017-18 could be about wood, at least that's what In Win thinks so. The company unveiled two cases with plywood (particle-board) panels, the In Win 806 ATX mid-tower, and the Gaming Cube A1 cubical mini-ITX. Both cases feature a slightly lime-tinted wood panel. On the 806, it dominates the design running from the front to the top; on the A1, it finishes off the top. Both cases further feature aluminium and tempered glass, the two other premium materials for PC cases.

The Gaming Cube A1 measures 200 mm x 268 mm x 340 mm (WxHxD), and features a pedestal-type layout for its motherboard tray, which frees up room for a dual-slot (well, 2.5-slot) graphics card up to 31.5 cm in length. It can hold an SFX power-supply, and a CPU cooler up to 16 cm in height. Cooling features include two 120 mm bottom intakes and a 120 mm exhaust each on the rear and side. The In Win 806, on the other hand, is a mid-tower measuring 215 mm x 490 mm x 468 mm, with room for CPU coolers as tall as 17 cm, and graphics cards as long as 32 cm. Cooling includes two 120 mm mounts each along the top, bottom, and front; and a rear exhaust. The case features reversible USB 3.1 type-C front-panel ports.

CRYORIG Releases the Taku Monitor Stand PC Case on Kickstarter

Remember the Taku Monitor Stand PC Case, that Cryorig showcased mid-2016? Well, it's now made its way to Kickstarter, a likely way for Cryorig to gauge interest in such a product whilst letting consumers foot part of the manufacturing bill. It's an interesting one, really - at least it's different from most other SFF PCs, though I've seen more compact designs. The press-release follows.

CRYORIG, the PC Cooling and peripherals innovator is releasing their first PC case project the Taku on crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The Taku, first announced and exhibited last summer, will also be shown during Computex 2017. The TAKU has been in development for over 2 years in house, with over 6 months of co-development with manufacturing partner Lian Li. The Taku Kickstarter campaign begins on May 29th and ends on July 28th. Besides offering backers the chance to be the first people to receive the Taku, backers are also offered multiple customization options only available on Kickstarter.

ASRock X299 Fatal1ty Professional Gaming i9 and X299 Taichi Detailed

ASRock showed off its premium gaming-grade X299 Fatal1ty Professional Gaming i9 and X299 Taichi motherboards. The two boards are based on a common PCB, but differ with the former featuring 10 GbE network connectivity and Creative Sound Blaster Cinema audio DSP, while the latter lacks them. Drawing power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, the board employ a 14-phase VRM to condition power to the CPU, which is wired to eight DDR4 DIMM slots, and four PCI-Express 3.0 x16.

Storage connectivity on both boards includes three 32 Gb/s M.2 slots, and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Both boards further feature two USB 3.1 ports (of which one is type-C), about 8 USB 3.0 ports, and network connectivity that includes 802.11ac WLAN, Bluetooth 4.1, and at least one gigabit Ethernet connection driven by an Intel i219-V controller. The Fatal1ty Gaming i9 tops this with Aquantia AQC107 controller-driven 10 GbE. The two feature Aura Sync RGB headers.

ASUS TUF X299 Mark 2 Motherboard Pictured

ASUS returned to its extremely durable TUF (The Ultimate Force) line of motherboards with the TUF X299 Mark 2. You'll notice that it dropped the "Sabertooth" moniker. This LGA2066 motherboard covers all the feature-set checkboxes of a premium motherboard plus the military-grade durability people have come to expect of the TUF series. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, 4-pin ATX, and 8-pin EPS power connectors, conditioning it using an 8-phase VRM.

The TUF X299 Mark 2 features eight DDR4 DIMM slots, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x16/NC or x16/x8/x8), an open-ended x4, and two x1 slots completing the expansion area. Storage features include two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots (of which one is perpendicular), and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. USB connectivity includes two USB 3.1 ports (one each type-A and type-C), and eight USB 3.0. 8-channel HD audio driven by a Realtek ALC1220A CODEC, and a single gigabit Ethernet connection, powered by Intel i219-V make for the rest of it.

ASRock X299 OC Formula by Nick Shih Pictured

Professional overclocker Nick Shih has led ASRock design teams through some of the most well laid-out motherboards for enthusiasts. His latest creation is the ASRock X299 OC Formula. This board gets down to the brass-tacks of overclocking-grade motherboards with a simple layout that's stripped of everything unnecessary. It draws power from a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, a 6-pin PCIe, and 4-pin ATX. The CPU is powered by a 14-phase VRM, and wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots. A PCIe 3.0 x4 makes for the rest of the expansion. Overclocking features include ultra fine-grained voltage control using onboard controls, and an OC Formula kit. Storage connectivity includes two 32 Gb/s M.2-22110, and eight SATA 6 Gb/s. 802.11ac WLAN, and gigabit Ethernet, besides ASRock's top of the line onboard audio make for the rest of it.

Colorful iGame GTX 1080 Ti Neptune W Liquid-cooled Graphics Card Pictured

Colorful showed off its flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, the iGame GTX 1080 Ti Neptune W. This card combines the same enthusiast-segment PCB featured on the iGame GTX 1080 Ti Vulcan X OC, with a factory-fitted all in one closed-loop liquid-cooling solution. The pump-block portion of it features a large base-plate in addition to the pump-block over the GPU, which conveys heat from the memory and VRM to the block. The card is then plumbed to a large 240 mm x 120 mm radiator with a pair of 120 mm fans. Out of the box, the card features reference clocks; but a secondary BIOS activated at the push of a button runs the card at an "insanely high" overclock. For now Colorful is keeping this clock profile a secret.

ASRock Unveils the X299E-ITX/ac: Mini ITX + X299 + Quad-channel Memory

ASRock did it! Finally, there's an Intel HEDT platform motherboard with full quad-channel DDR4 memory. The new X299E-ITX/ac is for those who need up to 18 CPU cores and up to 64 GB of quad-channel DDR4 memory in their SFF machines for reasons. The board manages its limited PCB real-estate by going vertical. It features two riser cards, one with a few onboard controllers, and a pair of 32 Gb/s M.2 slots), and the other riser with SATA 6 Gb/s ports, a third M.2 slot, and the headers such as USB 3.1. The board draws power from 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, conditioning it for the LGA2066 CPU using a 7-phase VRM. The lone expansion slot is a PCI-Express 3.0 x16, memory is handled by four DDR4 SO-DIMM slots. Connectivity includes two Intel I219-V driven gigabit Ethernet interfaces, 802.11ac WLAN, and Bluetooth 4.1.

BIOSTAR Unveils the Stunning-looking Racing X299GT9 Motherboard

BIOSTAR has consistently improved its motherboard product design back to the standards of its TPower glory-days, and unveiled this stunning looking flagship LGA2066 motherboard, the Racing X299GT9. Built in the E-ATX form-factor, the board features a well-spaced out layout, and draws power from a pair of 8-pin EPS power connectors, and a 6-pin PCIe, besides 24-pin ATX. It conditions it for the CPU with a 14-phase VRM. The CPU is wired to eight DDR4 DIMM slots, and seven PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x16/x8/x4/x4/x4/x4).

Storage connectivity on the BIOSTAR Racing X299GT9 includes two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots (stacked), two 32 Gb/s U.2 ports, and four SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Connectivity includes a 10 GbE connection driven by Intel X550AT processor), a second 1 GbE driven by Intel i219-V, USB connectivity includes two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 ports (one each type-A and type-C), and six 5 Gb/s USB 3.0. The onboard audio features a Hi-Fi circuit. The board is peppered with RGB LEDs and additional headers.

MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z Pictured

It looks like MSI is re-positioning the "Z" brand extension from its Gaming series over to its more coveted Lightning series. The company unveiled its flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, the GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z. This air-cooled monstrosity is over 30 cm long, 1.5x standard height, and close to 4 slots thick. Its combines a custom-design PCB MSI hasn't used on any of its cards, yet, with its new-generation Tri-Frozr cooler.

The custom-design PCB features a massive VRM which draws power from a trio of 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Out of the box, the card runs at 1582 MHz core, 1695 MHz GPU Boost, and 11.12 GHz (GDDR5X-effective) memory; while a software-activated "Lightning" mode runs it at a staggering 1607 MHz core, 1721 MHz GPU Boost, and 11.12 GHz memory; putting it in the league with some of the fastest GTX 1080 Ti cards money can buy. This card could be priced close to the $1000-mark.

ASUS PRIME X299-A Motherboard Pictured

ASUS showed off its PRIME X299-A socket LGA2066 motherboard. The PRIME series consists of ASUS' mainline motherboards, and a consistent product design theme follows through the entire lineup. We reckon that the PRIME X299-A will be the "entry-level" socket LGA2066 offering by ASUS, topped by the PRIME X299-PRO and PRIME X299-Deluxe. Built in the ATX form-factor, the board draws power from 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, and a 4-pin ATX power connector. It uses a simple 8-phase VRM to condition power for the CPU. The LGA2066 socket is wired to eight DDR4 DIMM slots, in addition to three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x16/NC or x16/x8/x8). Two close-ended PCI-Express 3.0 x4 and an x1 slot make for the rest of the expansion.

Storage connectivity includes two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots (one 80 mm and the other 110 mm), and eight SATA 6 Gb/s. There's just the one gigabit Ethernet interface driven by an Intel I219-V controller, and an onboard audio solution featuring Realtek ALC1220 (120 dBA SNR) CODEC, audio-grade capacitors, and ground-layer isolation. This board could be priced around the $200 mark.

GIGABYTE BRIX VR BNi7G6-1060 Pictured

GIGABYTE updated the BRIX UHD SFF desktop it showed off in 2016, with the new BRIX VR BNi7G6-1060, a desktop with actual gaming credentials, targeted at VR gaming. The BNi7G6-1060 is based on the same cuboidal chassis as the BRIX UHD, with updated hardware - 7th gen Core "Kaby Lake" mobile processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics (not sure if 3 GB or 6 GB), two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two 32 Gb/s M.2-2280 slots, 802.11ac WLAN, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI 2.0 display output, and USB 3.1 type-C ports.

GIGABYTE Z270X Aorus Gaming 9 Pictured, Too

In addition to the X299 Aorus Gaming 9, GIGABYTE showed off its Z270X Aorus Gaming 9, its flagship socket LGA1151 motherboard based on the current Z270 Express chipset. With its nomenclature, GIGABYTE appears to have relegated "Aorus" to a brand-extension, rather than an overarching brand by itself. The Z270X Aorus Gaming 9 is packed to the brim with features. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors; conditioning it for the CPU with a massive 24-phase VRM, with a liquid-cooling ready heatsink. This board features a PLX PEX8747 PCI-Express gen 3.0 x48 bridge chip, which takes in the x16 PEG link from the CPU, and puts out four x16 slots (x16/NC/x16/NC or x16/NC/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8), with support for 3-way and 4-way SLI and CrossFireX.

Storage options are aplenty, with two 32 Gb/s M.2 slots with NVMe RAID and Optane support, two 32 Gb/s U.2 ports, two 16 Gb/s SATA-Express ports, and ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports. This board features the same ultra high-grade AMP-UP onboard audio solution as the X299 Gaming 9, with a 127 dBA SNR CODEC made by ESS, the highest-grade audio capacitors money can buy, and three user-replaceable OPAMPs. The board will feature a plethora of CPU and memory overclocking features, and GIGABYTE's RGB Fusion LED lighting system. It goes on sale some time in June.

GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 9 Motherboard Detailed

Here's the first picture of the GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 9 motherboard, a TechPowerUp-exclusive. This socket LGA2066 motherboard is ready for upcoming Core i7 "Kaby Lake-X" 4-core, and "Skylake-X" 6-core, 8-core, 10-core, and 12-core processors. Based on Intel X299 Express chipset, this board draws power from two 8-pin EPS power connectors, besides 24-pin ATX. This could become the norm with X299 motherboards. There could either be a second 8-pin EPS or a second 4-pin ATX connector. A 12-phase VRM conditions power.

The LGA2066 socket is wired to four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, which can be configured as electrical x8/x8/x8/x8 or x16/NC/x16/NC or x16/NC/x8/x8 with "Skylake-X" 10-core and 12-core chips; or x8/NC/x8/x4 or x16/NC/NC/x4 with "Kaby Lake-X" quad-core and "Skylake-X" 6-core and 8-core chips. The 5th x16 slot is electrical x4 and wired to the PCH. There are plenty of storage options, including two 32 Gb/s M.2 (up to 80 mm) slots, a 32 Gb/s M.2 (up to 110 mm) slot, with native NVMe RAID and Optane support; and eight SATA 6 Gb/s. The board features ASMedia ASM3142 USB 3.1 controller with type-A and type-C ports on the rear panel, as well as additional ports through headers.
Sunday, May 28th 2017

Intel Cuts Price of Core i3-7350K Overclocker-friendly Dual-core Chip

Over the weekend, Intel cut the retail price of its overclocker-friendly dual-core chip, the Core i3-7350K. The chip is now priced at USD $149, down from its launch price of $184. Based on the 14 nm "Kaby Lake" silicon, the i3-7350K is designed to target the performance-segment gaming PC crowd by offering two cores clocked extremely high out of the box, which in Intel's calculation could prove sufficient to power gaming at 1080p or even 1440p. Then there's always the joy of overclocking, thanks to its unlocked base-clock multiplier.

The Core i3-7350K features out of the box clock speeds of 4.20 GHz. Turbo Boost isn't available to the Core i3 brand. The dual-core chip features HyperThreading, enabling 4 logical CPUs for the OS to deal with. It also gets 4 MB of shared L3 cache. Its $184 launch price may have been rendered untenable by competing AMD Ryzen 5-1500X and Ryzen 5-1400 quad-core parts priced at $189 and $169, respectively, which not just give you two more cores, but also double or quadruple the L3 cache, and unlocked multipliers. Unlike the two Ryzen 5 quad-core parts, the Core i3-7350K retail package lacks a stock cooler, escalating its cost by at least another $20 for a decent cooler, if you don't have one. These factors may have driven the price-cut.
Saturday, May 27th 2017

Today's Reviews

Accessories
Cases
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Mouse
Processors
PSUs
SSD
Storage

Two 16-core AMD Threadripper Parts Listed Online

Ahead of their May 29 unveiling at AMD's pre-Computex 2017 show in Taipei, and their scheduled market availability for Summer 2017, two 16-core AMD Threadripper processor SKUs surfaced as online-store listings, on Greek online retailer Skroutz. These include the AMD Threadripper 1998, and the AMD Threadripper 1998X. The listings don't come with price-tags.

Some specifications of the two SKUs were revealed, too. To begin with, both chips feature 16 cores, and SMT enables 32 logical CPUs for the OS to address. The Threadripper 1998 is clocked at 3.20 GHz, with an unknown boost clock; while the 1998X is clocked higher, at 3.50 GHz, with unknown boost clocks. The "X" in the model number could denote XFR, which could unlock higher automated overclocks than the boost clock. Both chips are listed with AMD socket SP3r2 support, AMD's upcoming 4,094-pin LGA socket.

Source: DigiWorthy
Friday, May 26th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cooling
Desktop PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
NAS
SSD
Storage

iKBC F87 RGB Keyboard

The iKBC F87 RGB is a full RGB backlit ten-key-less keyboard from a group of enthusiasts in Taiwan who wanted a solid keyboard without sacrificing much. It features backlit doubleshot PBT keycaps, two color options, four genuine Cherry MX switch options, and driver-less backlighting control.

Intel "Gemini Lake" SoC Detailed

Intel is giving final touches to its next-generation "Gemini Lake" SoC, which will be sold under the Celeron and Pentium brands, and will succeed the current-generation "Apollo Lake" SoC. Built on a refined 14 nm process, the chip features a TDP of just 6W for the mobile variant, and 10W for the SFF desktop, but boasts of improved performance-per-Watt than its predecessor, translating into direct performance gains.

To begin with, "Gemini Lake" will embed a dual-core or quad-core CPU based on Intel's "Goldmont Plus" micro-architecture. A Goldmont Plus core isn't physically different from the current-gen "Goldmont," but apparently doubles the L2 cache to 4 MB from the existing 2 MB, and takes advantage of process-level improvements to lower power-draw, which Intel is using to bump up the CPU clock speeds.

SoftBank Grabs 4 Billion Dollar Stake in NVIDIA, Becomes 4th Largest Shareholder

NVIDIA has seen impressive growth over the past year in all sectors, and not just the usual ones such as PC gaming. Deep learning, Artificial Intelligence, all these have seen growth with the chip maker presenting some compelling products over the past year.

This growth has apparently garnered some attention from investment group SoftBank, whom have just placed a nice 4 Billion dollar investment in the company in exchange for a 4.9 percent stake. This amount is carefully calculated: It's pretty much the largest amount they can invest without having to seek regulatory approval in the United States. This also makes SoftBank NVIDIA's 4th largest shareholder, and is in line with SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son's plan to become the biggest investor in technology over the next decade.

It's surely a vote of confidence in the chip maker in the most direct language possible: Money. Furthermore, one has to ask if this is not the beginning of more investments from SoftBank in the future.

Source: bloomberg.com

HyperX Completed Gaming Peripheral Product Lines

As eSports and gaming community getting prosperous, gamers nowadays tend to spend longer time playing, hence in need of gaming gears with higher quality. HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology, is dedicated to bringing the best gaming experience to Pros and casual gamers alike. Since the first Cloud Gaming Headset launched in April 2014,HyperX surpassed 2-million headset sales mark in three short years, and then successfully expanded the product lines to gaming mouse pads and keyboards. As PulseFire FPS Gaming mouse completes the peripheral family in 2017, HyperX is now ready to offer gamers all the required peripherals for the best gaming setup.

HyperX complete FPS family is designed to meet the specific requirements of gamers. PulseFire FPS Gaming Mouse provides gamers accurate tracking and fast response time with PixArt 3310 sensor and Omron switches. Solid-built HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard is a perfect match for mice movement with its small footprint design, maximizing desktop space. Furthermore, gamers looking for competitive edge will need a pair of decent headsets, where HyperX Cloud Revolver S can easily fit in. With studio-grade sound stage and Plug N Play virtual Dolby Surround 7.1 audio, Cloud Revolver S helps gamers easily identify the location of enemies and win every battle.

ID-Cooling Announces the Auraflow 240 CPU Cooler

ID-COOLING a cooling solution provider focusing on thermal dissipation and fan technology research and production for over 10 years, announced AURAFLOW 240 AIO water cooler, featuring RGB lighting on both the pump and fans at the same time synchronizing with motherboard RGB control.

The pump is designed with a simple C character with an improved light diffuser which can provide smooth and even lighting effect. Copper base contacts CPU to help the heat transfer. Micro fin submerged design increases the heat dissipation surface. The dimension of the whole water block is Ф65×36mm. Solid connectors are used on both ends of the premium sleeved tubing, more reliable & performance efficient. Inside the tubing is self-contained highly efficient and eco-friendly liquid coolant.

NVIDIA Announces GeForce MX150 Laptops: Supercharged For Work and Play

Remember that MX150 mobile graphics card we covered recently? NVIDIA has just let the cat out of the bag, with an announcement that seemingly confirms the specs we were expecting. NVIDIA is selling this mobile GPU's space as the expected IGP-upgrade, citing up to 3x superior performance-per-Watt compared to previous-generation Maxwell-based GeForce 940MX laptops. In other words, GeForce MX150 enables thinner laptops that run applications faster while sipping less power.

AMD Announces AGESA Update 1.0.0.6 - Supports up to 4000 MHz Memory Clocks

You've probably heard of AMD's AGESA updates by now - the firmware updates that are ironing out the remaining kinks in AMD's Ryzen platform, which really could have used a little more time in the oven before release. However, kinks have been disappearing, the platform has been maturing and evolving, and AMD has been working hard in improving the experience for consumers and enthusiasts alike. As a brief primer, AGESA is responsible for initializing AMD x86-64 processors during boot time, acting as something of a "nucleus" for the BIOS of your motherboard. Motherboard vendors take the core capabilities of AGESA updates and build on them with their own "secret sauce" to create the BIOS that ultimately populate your motherboard of choice. The process of cooking up BIOS updates built on the new AGESA will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but AMD's Robert Hallock says you should be seeing BIOSes based on this version halfway through the month of June - if your vendor isn't already providing a Beta version of some kind.

This new AGESA update code, version 1.0.0.6, should be just up the alley of enthusiasts, however, in that it adds a grand total of 26 new parameters for memory configuration, improving the compatibility and reliability of DRAM, especially for memory that does not follow the industry-standard JEDEC specifications (e.g. faster than 2667, manual overclocking, or XMP2 profiles). Below you'll find the 26 parameters that were introduced.

Swiftech Intros Apogee Drive 2 with AM4 Support

Swiftech today released the Apogee Drive 2 CPU water-block with integrated pump, which now comes with support for AMD socket AM4. A successor to the second-generation Apogee HD pump-block, the Apogee Drive 2 features increased surface area for heat dissipation to the coolant, and features a higher flow MCP35X integrated-pump, with hydraulic bearings. The G1/4 inlet and exhausts can turn within a 90° angle. The Swiftech logo ornament on top of the block features an RGB lighting element (simple 3-color). Besides AM4, the Apogee Drive 2 supports LGA2011(v3), LGA115x, LGA1366, and LGA775, besides other AMD sockets, such as AM3(+) and FM2(+). Available now, it is priced at US $138.95.

SAPPHIRE Brings NITRO Gear and Thunderbolt 3 Accessories to Computex 2017

SAPPHIRE Technology is unveiling brand new products at Computex 2017. The SAPPHIRE NITRO Gear Series will provide SAPPHIRE users with more customization options than ever, with LED fans as well as new backplate & shroud sets. After the enthusiastic reception of the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 580 Limited Edition, SAPPHIRE will offer a Special Edition version with blue shroud and backplate, and high factory overclock as part of its regular offer. For ultrabook owners, SAPPHIRE is bringing new Thunderbolt 3 dongles with 2x DisplayPort or 2x HDMI outputs.

Accessories for NITRO-charged gamers
Demand for personalization in PC gaming hardware is increasing. To meet it, SAPPHIRE is introducing a brand-new NITRO Gear Series of accessories. To begin with, the company will offer extra LED fans (with dual-ball bearing) in 3 backlight colors - white, red and blue. SAPPHIRE users can easily swap their stock fans with the SAPPHIRE Quick Connect system. Packs with one 95 mm fan in selected colors will be available to buy. The fans are compatible with all SAPPHIRE NITRO+ and Pulse RX 580 / 570 models as well as NITRO/NITRO+ RX 480 / 470 models.

Rosenblatt Securities: "Buy" Rating to AMD Stock, "Sell" for Intel

On the back of impressive performance, yield, and cost metric for AMD's market-warping Ryzen and server-shaking EPYC processors, securities firm Rosenblatt Securities' Hans Mosesmann has affirmed a "Buy" rating for AMD's stock, while saddling Intel with a seldom-seen "Sell". All in all, there have been a number of changes in Intel's market ratings; there seems to be a downgrade trend towards either "Hold" or "Sell" scenarios compared to the usual "Buy" ratings given by hedge funds and financial analysts - ratings which are undoubtedly affected (at least in part) by AMD's Ryzen and EPYC execution.

MSI, ASUS, ASRock and Gigabyte Tease Their X299 Motherboards for Computex

Disclaimer: It's currently unclear whether or not the majority of these are actual X299 motherboards. Remember MSI's GODLIKE tease, which was expected to be a X299 motherboard due to the number of PCIe slots on offer, but ended up being a Z270-based one? Well, we remember, hence why we start with this disclaimer to pour some cold water on expectations. However, there is one model that can be said to be a X299 offering pretty confidently: MSI's tease of a new Gaming Pro motherboard, which shows the four RAM slots as close to the I/O bracket: a design usually reserved for quad-channel supporting platforms. Port design in the PCIe and M.2 fronts seems similar to the GODLIKE Z270, but it would seem that MSI has designed another kind of an M.2 Shield interface, which now encircles a PCIe port while cooling two simultaneous M.2 SSDs.

The next motherboard, which we can't confirm is really a X299 based-one, is teased by ASUS, under its Republic of gamers branding, which shows the integration a an LCD screen in the motherboard footprint. The LCD seems basic enough, and could be useful so as to visually check operating frequencies and temperatures, though ASUS naturally had to add their ROG bling to it. Seems like simple LED support was too 2016 for them.

EVGA Teases GeForce GTX 1080 Ti K|ngp|n Graphics Card

EVGA teased some of the first pictures of its upcoming flagship graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti K|ngp|n (kingpin) graphics card, designed by the renowned overclocker himself. The card features all of the iCX technology innovations EVGA made, plus some of the highest-grade electrical components primed for LN2 overclocking, and external overclocking modules such as the EVBot. The company will unveil the card at its Computex 2017 booth.

JPR: GPU Shipments Decrease -4.5% YoY; Desktop Decreases -13.5%, Mobile Rises 2%

Jon Peddie Research has released another of their interesting GPU market analysis, which the analyst firm pegs as currently gearing up to a strong Q3. However, this gearing-up comes on the back of a "moderate" quarter, which in reality means there was a seasonal decrease of -17.5% in overall GPU shipments compared to last quarter. This -17.5% decrease takes from a -25% decrease in AMD products, Nvidia decreased -26%, and -14% in Intel's products. This translates into a YoY decrease of -4.5% in overall GPU shipments, with a whole -13.5% in desktop platforms and the saving grace in the 2% rise in mobile GPU shipments. Overall discrete GPU market share is increasing compared to their iGPU counterparts, for the third consecutive quarter.

Intel showed the highest gain in the quarter, in a market that seems to have to have returned to normal seasonal cycles. This quarter was appropriately down (normally it is flat to down), and the Gaming PC segment, where higher-end GPUs are used, was once again the bright spot in the overall PC market for the quarter. JPR sets the tablet craze as ending, bringing much needed stability to the PC market, as users realize a tablet is useful for a lot of things, but can never replace a PC for performance, screen size, or upgradability.
Thursday, May 25th 2017

EK Water Blocks Introduces Aorus GTX 1080 Ti Series FC Blocks

EK Water Blocks, the Slovenia-based premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer, is releasing two EK-FC1080 GTX Ti Aorus water blocks that are compatible with GIGABYTE AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti based graphics cards. This kind of efficient cooling will allow your high-end graphics card to reach higher boost clocks, thus providing more performance during gaming or other GPU intense tasks.

This water block directly cools the GPU, RAM as well as VRM (voltage regulation module) as water flows directly over these critical areas, thus allowing the graphics card and it's VRM to remain stable under full load and high overclocks. EK-FC1080 GTX Ti Aorus water block features a central inlet split-flow cooling engine design for best possible cooling performance, which also works flawlessly with reversed water flow without adversely affecting the cooling performance. Moreover, such design offers great hydraulic performance allowing this product to be used in liquid cooling systems using weaker water pumps.

Attacks Discovered that can Corrupt MLC-based SSD Data

It appears that although MLC NAND-based SSDs have many advantages to HDD's from a physical-reliability point of view, the old spinning rust drives might still have one advantage over SSDs: A specially crafted write operation can't corrupt your data.

That's what a new report from Carnegie Mellon University, Seagate, and ETH Zürich is showing: That MLC-based SSD Drives are vulnerable to data-corrupting attacks as simple as a specially crafted write operation.

Samba at Risk from Wormable Bug Similar to WannaCry: Present on Many NAS boxes

Samba, the open source implementation of the Windows CIFS file sharing protocol found on Linux and many home NAS-systems, now has its own version of a "WannaCry" grade bug ready to cause users grief. Like WannaCry, Sambas bug enables remote code execution and is totally wormable. Unlike WannaCry however, it does require write access to the SMB share, limiting it's effect unless you run an unauthenticated share on the internet.

So why is this newsworthy at all? It is of course newsworthy in its own right because of bad security practices that run rampant in our industry, I would argue, but that's not really why I posted this, I will confess. Yes, I'm trying to make a point again with that blunt instrument we call "editorial." I do apologize for the inconvenience (not really).

TPU Ryzen BIOS Digest Issue #5

In this issue of the Ryzen BIOS update digest, we have last week's latest updates. Our BIOS update digest lets you keep track of crucial BIOS updates that improve stability of your AMD Ryzen machine. As per usual, only updated BIOSes from the last digest are listed. Changes are listed after each BIOS, sans beta BIOSes which do not always include change logs. You can find it all below.

NVMe 1.3 Specification Published

NVM Express, the special interest group behind the NVMe protocol, which enables significantly higher performance on flash-based storage devices, compared to the AHCI protocol, published the NVMe 1.3 specification. This is the most significant update to the protocol since the NVMe 1.2 specification released in 2014. NVMe 1.3, which could be implemented in SSDs, motherboards, and HBA cards starting late-2017 or 2018, introduces several major features that increase performance, endurance, and manageability of flash-based storage devices, such as SSDs.

To begin with, NVMe 1.3 introduces a drive self-test feature similar to SMART. The host machine can now command the drive to perform a self-test without having to mount volumes and expose their contents to OS-based utilities. The self-test parameters could be left up to the drive vendor, and could include hardware tests in addition to data integrity tests. The protocol also adds much needed support for boot-partitions, without needing the motherboard UEFI firmware to store it. The current implementation of motherboards with NVMe booting support involves storing a tiny boot partition with the bootloader on the SPI flash chip of the motherboard which stores the UEFI firmware.

MSI To Launch GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z, USB Type-C 1080 Ti Gaming X at Computex

MSI is set to make a debut of their top-tier, latest-generation graphics card under the Lightning branding, the GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z, at this year's Computex. The new Lightning Z makes use of three TorX 2.0 (the same the company uses on its TWIN FROZR VI cooling solutions) fans, though the tripled configuration is set to use the TriFrozr moniker. This generation of the Lightning line of graphics cards sheds its iconic yellow streaks, however, in favor a RGB-capable LED lighting which supports MSI's own Mystic Light. This graphics card also makes use of MSI's Military Class 4 components.

The next MSI graphics card, however, promises to be the most interesting product. Even though MSI's Gaming X lines of graphics cards and Twin Frozr VI coolers are already well-known, those are not the highlights of the 1080 Ti Gaming X the company will be presenting at Computex. Rather, it's its adoption of a USB Type-C connector that's worth talking. This is something that is long overdue, with some monitors already offering this choice of interface, which promises to be the end-all be-all of display protocols, since it can leverage DisplayPort, Thunderbolt and HDMI. Let's see if this move by MSI sets off a trend. We suppose it will, considering how the industry works

Source: Videocardz

Samsung Announces Comprehensive Process Roadmap Down to 4 nm

Samsung stands as a technology giant in the industry, with tendrils stretching out towards almost every conceivable area of consumer, prosumer, and professional markets. It is also one of the companies which can actually bring up the fight to Intel when it comes to semiconductor manufacturing, with some analysts predicting the South Korean will dethrone Intel as the top chipmaker in Q2 of this year. Samsung scales from hyper-scale data centers to the internet-of-things, and is set to lead the industry with 8nm, 7nm, 6nm, 5nm, 4nm and 18nm FD-SOI in its newest process technology roadmap. The new Samsung roadmap shows how committed the company is (and the industry with it) towards enabling the highest performance possible from the depleting potential of the silicon medium. The 4 nm "post FinFET" structure process is set to be in risk production by 2020.

This announcement also marks Samsung's reiteration on the usage of EUV (Extreme Ultra Violet) tech towards wafer manufacturing, a technology that has long been hailed as the savior of denser processes, but has been ultimately pushed out of market adoption due to its complexity. Kelvin Low, senior director of foundry marketing at Samsung, said that the "magic number" for productivity (as in, with a sustainable investment/return ratio) with EUV is 1,500 wafers per day. Samsung has already exceeded 1,000 wafers per day and has a high degree of confidence that 1,500 wafers per day is achievable.

Enermax Launches NEOChanger, the RGB Pump-Reservoir Combo

ENERMAX introduces NEOChanger, the world's leading RGB pump reservoir combo. NEOChanger is ENERMAX's 1st DIY liquid cooling product, featuring incredible RGB LED lighting that is designed to be controlled via either RGB-sync-ready motherboards or the included 3-in-1 remote control, which enables users to create their personalized lighting themes. Furthermore, NEOChagner incorporates the digital pump speed meter for users to easily identify the real-time speed in use and make adjustment via the remote control.

Compatible with RGB-sync-enabled motherboards with 4 pin header(s), NEOChanger allows its RGB lighting to be synchronized and controlled by motherboard's lighting control software or app, for users to customize their own favorite lighting styles. Moreover, NEOChanger also includes a remote control for users to choose and adjust RGB colors and lighting effects, which is the best solution for those who use standard motherboards without the RGB-sync support.

Acer Introduces the Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop for Budget-minded Gamers

In a bid to increase options for budget-minded gamers, Acer has introduced the Nitro 5 gaming laptop, whose wealth of configurations start at a respectable $800. Choosing any kind of gaming-focused laptop over building your own desktop will always look like bad business, but how much one values mobility mays edge the decision towards one side or the other.

Specs-wise, it's a mix of respectable with the bare minimum: it features a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display, up to 32 GB of DDR4 2400 MHz memory, and is available in configurations featuring Intel's Core i5 or Core i7 processors paired with an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, or your choice of an AMD 7th-gen A-series FX, A12 or A10 APUs, paired a Radeon RX550 GPU. Some models will include PCIe SSDs (up to 512GB) with up to 2TB of optional HDD storage. Ports include 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports, and 1x HDMI output. The Nitro 5 also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a 2x2 MIMO antenna. The Nitro 5 will be available in North America starting July 1. Acer did not release detailed pricing, so there's no idea of what the $800 configuration will net you spec-wise (though an AMD and RX 550 are pretty much guaranteed). The Nitro 5 will also be available in the EMEA in August, starting at a much less interesting €1,139.

Source: Tom's Hardware

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Arctic Storm Mini Pictured, Too

Besides the most compact GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card in its GTX 1080 Ti Mini, ZOTAC is planning to launch its liquid-cooled sibling at Computex 2017. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti combines the 21.8 cm (8.3-inch) long super-compact, custom-design PCB of the GTX 1080 Ti Mini, with a factory-fitted, full-coverage water block, which you plumb to your own liquid-cooling loop.

The block cools the GPU, memory, and VRM, and is made of nickel-plated copper, with a tinted acrylic top, which has a mirror-finish aluminium top-plate along the end as an accent. The card also features a back-plate, just like the GTX 1080 Ti Mini. It's unknown at this point if the card is factory-overclocked, but it draws power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connectors, so there must be some VRM muscle behind the connectors. The card also appears to ship with fittings.

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini Pictured

Here are some of the first images of ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini, which could go down in history as the most compact GTX 1080 Ti graphics card (besides cards with factory-fitted water blocks, of course). The card features a PCB that's under 20 cm in length, mated to a 21.8 cm (8.3-inch) long cooler. What's more, the card isn't taller than ISA spec. It relies on an aluminium fin-stack cooler with a pair of 90 mm spinners, to stay cool. Such a diminutive heatsink size could mean that the card may lack idle fan-off. The card sticks to NVIDIA reference speeds, and draws power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Display outputs include three DisplayPort 1.4, and one each of HDMI 2.0b and dual-link DVI. The card could be formally launched at Computex 2017.

Intel to Make Thunderbolt Royalty-Free; Looking to Increase Adoption

Thunderbolt is one of the most flexible data delivery mechanisms ever developed: it boasts of both enormous versatility and performance. These connectors have seen increasingly higher adoption rates due to these characteristics, but are still to trickle down towards mid-range and entry-level offerings, which would be certainly some of the products to benefit the most, allowing them to substitute numerous, costly ports for a single jack-of-all-trades connection.

Intel is looking to solve this problem by removing royalties from Thunderbolt, further increasing adoption by integrating controllers within its own processors. The first Thunderbolt 3 "Alpine Ridge" chips, introduced in the third quarter of 2015, were manufacturer's only solution to implement Thunderbolt in their products; an extra chip which added costs and complexity to designs, which ended up limiting adoption to only higher-margin products. With Thunderbolt 3 an integrated part of the processors, those issues largely evaporate, with system builders being freed of having to design accommodations for an extra chip. Intel did not specify which processors would include the controllers or when they will ship, but the company says that it is going to make the Thunderbolt 3 specification available on a non-exclusive, royalty-free basis. Intel could have played towards eliminating the royalties on Thunderbolt 3 but only supporting it on its own processors, but the company has chosen not to do that: the door will be open for AMD and other companies to bake in support for the interface on their own solutions, spurring innovation and, more importantly, driving down costs of adoption.

Source: ArsTechnica

Kingston Intros the SSDNow KC1000 Line of M.2 NVMe SSDs

Kingston introduced the SSDNow KC1000 line of PCI-Express SSDs in the M.2-2280 form-factor. The drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interfaces, and take advantage of the NVMe protocol. They combine MLC NAND flash memory with Phison PS5007-E7 controller, and come in capacities of 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB.

All three variants read at speeds of up to 2,700 MB/s; the 480 GB and 960 GB variants write at speeds of up to 1,600 MB/s, while the 240 GB up to 900 MB/s. 4K random read performance is rated at 290,000 IOPS for the 480 GB and 960 GB variants; and 225,000 IOPS for the 240 GB variant. 4K random writes, on the other hand, are chalked at up to 190,000 IOPS for all variants. Kingston is selling the KC1000 are both standalone M.2 drives, and in combination with a PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter add-on card. The drives are backed by 5-year warranties.
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