Thursday, January 17th 2019

Today's Reviews

Accessories
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
PSUs
Sound Cards
SSD

ASUS Rolls Out a Pair of Intel B365 Chipset Motherboards

ASUS today rolled out a pair of entry-level motherboards based on Intel B365 Express chipset for 8th and 9th generation Core processors. The B365 has been extensively detailed in our older article as trading off features such as integrated USB 3.1 gen 2 and an older version of Management Engine, in exchange for significantly more downstream PCIe lanes than the B360 Express. Intel's decision to fallback to the 22 nm node for chipsets resulted in the B365. Among ASUS' new motherboards include the Prime B365M-A and Prime B365M-K. The company is also working on three quasi gaming-grade motherboards targeting gaming i-Cafes, namely the B365M-KYLIN, B365M-BASALT, and the B365M-PIXIU, which are essentially cosmetic variations of the B365M-K with one less SATA port.

The Prime B365M-A is the slightly better endowed of the two micro-ATX boards launched today. Pulling power from a 24-pin ATX and an 8-pin EPS, it uses a 4+2 phase CPU VRM. The CPU is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and the board's sole PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, which features a metal reinforcement brace. Two additional gen 3.0 x1 slots wired to the PCH make for the rest of the expansion. Storage connectivity includes an M.2 slot with PCIe gen 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, and six other SATA 6 Gbps ports. As expected, there are no USB 3.1 gen 2 ports, as the chipset lacks it. You get four USB 3.1 gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports, two of which are on the rear panel, and two via headers. A 1 GbE interface pulled by a Realtek RTL8111H controller, and 6-channel HD audio handled by an entry-level Realtek ALC887 make for the rest of it. The Prime B365M-K is the more cost-effective of the two Prime B365M-series boards, and is built with a narrower PCB, and hence only serves up two DDR4 memory slots. You also lose out on Vcore VRM heatsink, and metal reinforcement on the PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

NVIDIA Readies GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Based on TU116, Sans RTX

It looks like RTX technology won't make it to sub-$250 market segments as the GPUs aren't fast enough to handle real-time raytracing, and it makes little economic sense for NVIDIA to add billions of additional transistors for RT cores. The company is hence carving out a sub-class of "Turing" GPUs under the TU11x ASIC series, which will power new GeForce GTX family SKUs, such as the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, and other GTX 1000-series SKUs. These chips offer "Turing Shaders," which are basically CUDA cores that have the IPC and clock-speeds rivaling existing "Turing" GPUs, but no RTX capabilities. To sweeten the deal, NVIDIA will equip these cards with GDDR6 memory. These GPUs could still have tensor cores which are needed to accelerate DLSS, a feature highly relevant to this market segment.

The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti will no doubt be slower than the RTX 2060, and be based on a new ASIC codenamed TU116. According to a VideoCardz report, this 12 nm chip packs 1,536 CUDA cores based on the "Turing" architecture, and the same exact memory setup as the RTX 2060, with 6 GB of GDDR6 memory across a 192-bit wide memory interface. The lack of RT cores and a lower CUDA core count could make the TU116 a significantly smaller chip than the TU106, and something NVIDIA can afford to sell at sub-$300 price-points such as $250. The GTX 1060 6 GB is holding the fort for NVIDIA in this segment, besides other GTX 10-series SKUs such as the GTX 1070 occasionally dropping below the $300 mark at retailers' mercy. AMD recently improved its sub-$300 portfolio with the introduction of Radeon RX 590, which convincingly outperforms the GTX 1060 6 GB.
Wednesday, January 16th 2019
EVGA NU Audio Sound Card Unboxing & Preview

EVGA NU Audio Sound Card Unboxing & Preview

At CES this year, EVGA announced their long-teased entry to the dedicated audio market with the NU Audio sound card. A result of a collaboration with Audio Note, this preview goes over the unboxing experience, and we disassemble the NU audio card to gain technical insights and learn about its components.

Touring the EKWB Suite at CES 2019

TechPowerUp met over 50 brands at CES this year, more than anyone else we know of, and thus our coverage of the trade show continues on. EK Water Blocks (EKWB) had a grand showing at Computex last year, with a room full of updates and new products. Some of these showed up in a different form at CES, and others presumably are still being developed. As it turned out, EK had another room full of products this time too, including some products that we were not expecting necessarily.

Beginning our tour was a demo of the Quantum Distro PC 305 system, an EK-assembled system sold at Microcenter stores in the USA. As the name suggests, this uses an InWin 305 case and the current setup has an Intel Core i9-9900K on an ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero combined with an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti. These systems are not budget friendly, but if you wanted to get an EK-distribution plate then this is currently the only way to do so. Next to these was the EK-Connect, which appears to be the final version of the long awaited fan controller project they had teased years back. The EK-Connect, as 2019 demands it, is a combination LED and fan controller, and will be supported by a software driver when ready. At the trade show, the setup just showed multiple different LED strips and fans connected, and it appears to be powered by an in-set SATA connector for power. Read past the break for more!

Creative Unveils World's First Super X-Fi Headphones

Creative Technology today announced the launch of the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Creative SXFI AMP - the Creative SXFI AIR series. Comprising the SXFI AIR and SXFI AIR C, these are the very first headphones featuring built-in Super X-Fi technology, the game-changer which has captured the imagination of users by delivering the listening experience of a high-end multi-speaker system, simply through a pair of headphones.

"After the SXFI AMP, it was a natural next step to develop headphones with built-in Super X-Fi technology. With the SXFI AIR series, users can now enjoy the magic of headphone holography, complemented by the best of our headphone engineering. The SXFI AIR is meant to pave the way for the headphone industry to adopt Super X-Fi into all future headphones," said Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology.

Gryphon Shows off Their Security-focused Mesh Networking Routers at CES 2019

Gryphon Online Safety, Inc. is a 2-year old company that, by its very name, hints strongly towards the product lineup and design philosophy. We met the CEO and CTO of the company at their booth at CES 2019, and were greeted by the Gryphon router that was built with content filtering and online secutiry in mind. They have nearly five decades of combined experience behind the Gryphon, leveraging manufacturing in China, software teams in India, and customer support in the USA to deliver a user-friendly router and mobile app which also supports mesh networking.

The Gryphon was designed with the intention of fitting in a living room, with the sharp looks akin more to a trophy or showpiece. It definitely caught our eye, especially given how hard it is to carve out a unique look with routers these days without looking like an alien artifact. The router is rated for AC3000 operation with one 2.4 GHz band for Wireless N and two 5 GHz bands for Wireless AC networking, with the second 5 GHz band being a dedicated backhaul akin to the NETGEAR Orbi to make full use of the mesh networking feature without losing performance when connected to the satellite unit. The mobile app especially makes it very handy for the average end user to allow, and control, content to their desire. We will have a full review of the Gryphon networking solution on TechPowerUp sooner than later, but for those interested, there is more information to be found on their website. The Gryphon retails for ~$215 for a single unit, and $400 for a twin-pack.

ViewSonic Launches its New Elite Sub-Brand of Gaming Monitors

ViewSonic Corp., a leading global provider of visual display products, announces a new sub-brand of professional gaming monitors. ViewSonic Elite gaming products are specifically engineered with a sleek and minimalist aesthetic, while boasting practical gamer-centric designs. With decades of display technology experience and heritage, ViewSonic Elite will deliver next-level gaming products that fit the needs of today's multifaceted gaming community.

"Gamers are defined by many factors, one being their gaming setup. With ViewSonic Elite, we want to represent maturity in style and high-performance gaming, as the industry continues to evolve," said Kevin Chu, Global Gaming Marketing Manager. "The ViewSonic Elite line of gaming monitors provides users with the latest spec requirements, and are designed to fulfill the diverse needs of gamers."
The XGR240 is on the left, XG350R-C on the right.

ECS Shows Off Wide Range of Mini PCs at CES 2019

During our visit with ECS at CES 2019, we had the opportunity to check out some of their Mini-PCs. The first one we looked at during our tour was the M520 which comes equipped with an Intel Apollo Lake SoC and support for up to 8 GB of DDR3L via 2 SODIMM slots. Expansions options consist of an M.2 E key 2230 slot (PCIe, USB) and an M.2 M key 2242/2280 PCIe x1 slot. It offers HDMI and mDP for video output and even has two Gigabit LAN ports along with wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0. Onboard storage consists of eMMC configured as 64 GB or 32 GB, and a 2.5-inch HDD/SSD as an option. It also has 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports for peripherals and device connectivity along with an ES-232/422/485 port. In general, this particular system is quite tiny, but even with that in mind, we have to wonder why a 32 GB version is also an option considering Microsoft has gone so far as to say 32 GB of storage is inadequate for Windows 10.

Next up was the LIVA M520 not to be confused with the model previously discussed this option is quite a bit larger but features similar specifications. It comes equipped with a Celeron N3350 and up to 8 GB of DDR3L via 2x SODIMM slots. Storage consists of the same 32 GB, or 64 GB of eMMC and a 2.5-inch HDD/SSD is optional. The rest of the specifications are also quite similar with the LIVA M520 having an HDMI + mDP for video output, 4x USB ports, and 2x Gigabit LAN ports. Where it differs is the USB ports are only USB 3.0, not 3.1. For expansion, it includes the same M.2 E key and M.2 M key slots as the other M520 system.

Computer Upgrade King Announces Powerful Premium 27L Gaming Desktops

Computer Upgrade King demoed 2 new extremely powerful and colorful mATX gaming desktops at CES that release in Spring 2019. On display at Patriot's suite, they featured their Continuum Mini which has an intense infinity mirror front panel with large side vents to ensure excellent air flow. Inside, there was an NVidia RTX 2080 TI GPU and an Intel i9-9900K CPU with their own custom cooling system consisting of an RGB CPU water block, anodized brushed aluminum reservoir and pump combo, front mounted 240mm radiator and lotus style ARGB fans.

On display at AMD's suite, they featured their Stratos Mini which has a triple RGB fan front panel with metal blade design to ensure excellent air flow. Inside, there was a Gigabyte Vega 56 GPU, an AMD Threadripper 2950X CPU with their own custom cooling system, a Team Group T-Force Delta RGB SSD, and halo style RGB fans.

SilentiumPC Announces the Navis RGB AIO Series CPU Coolers

SilentiumPC introduces a new series of proprietary all-in-one CPU liquid cooling solutions. The Navis RGB series is available in three variants with the different radiator sizes 120, 240 and 280. The units focus on great built-quality, reliability and performance while incorporating discreet RBG illumination. Compatibility to latest CPU sockets and easy installation assure that even novice users are able to enjoy all the advantages of the new all-in-one CPU liquid cooling solutions.

Navis RGB water block features professional-grade copper bearings and 9-pole motor pump to ensure smooth and noise-free operation. Copper cold-plate with series of flow-optimized channels enable efficient heat transfer to an all-aluminum, single or dual 120/140 mm radiator. High static pressure Sigma HP RGB fans are the perfect match for the radiators, as they are offering optimum airflow through the fin matrix. All the units are equipped with 380 mm long and extremely durable yet flexible tubes, allowing for multiple installation options, either in front, top or rear of the case.

AMD's Initial Production Run of Radeon VII Just 5,000 Pieces, Company Denies it

More news coming in on AMD's upcoming high-end graphics card, the Radeon VII, with Chinese media reporting that AMD's initial production run for the card is set to ship just 5,000 pieces worldwide. This comes hot on the heels of another report that the Radeon VII won't come in custom-designs by AMD's add-in board (AIB) partners, and that only the reference design will be repackaged and sold by them. What's worse, the source which leaked this production size also revealed that AMD is selling the card below cost-price, i.e., with each card sold, AMD is losing money. This probably explains Wall Street's cold response to the Radeon VII launch, but with a batch size of just 5,000 (roughly $3.5 million in sales at $699 a piece), this card has a negligible impact on AMD's bottom-line.

AMD posted a swift denial to both pieces of news, the size of its production run and the product's profitability. In a statement to MyDrivers, AMD said (translated): "We will not release production figures, but when released on February 7, AMD.com official website and AIB vendor partners will have products on sale, and we expect the supply of Radeon VII to meet the needs of gamers." In short, Radeon VII is shaping up to be the card you'd want to buy if you've sworn a blood-oath never to buy an NVIDIA product, and you need something to play games in 2019 at 4K with.

NVIDIA Has No Plans for Adaptive Sync Support on Maxwell, Prior GPUs

In case anyone's been living under a rock (and in these times, if you can do that, I probably envy you), NVIDIA at CES 2019 announced it was opening up G-Sync support to non-G-Sync totting monitors. Via adoption of VESA's open VRR standard (Adaptive Sync, on which FreeSync is based), the company will now add support for monitors that usually only support FreeSync. The company also vowed to test all configurations and monitors, with a whitelist of automatically-enabled panels and manual override for those that don't pass the certification process or still haven't been subjected to it.

Now, via a post on NVIDIA's GeForce forums, ManuelGuzmanNV, with a Customer Care badge, has said, in answer to a users' question on Variable Refresh-Rate support for NVIDIA's 9000 series, that "Sorry but we do not have plans to add support for Maxwell and below". So this means that only NVIDIA's 1000 and 2000-series of GPUs will be getting said support, thus reducing the number of users for which VRR support on NVIDIA graphics cards is relevant. At the same time, this might serve as a reason for those customers to finally make the jump to one of NVIDIA's more recent graphics card generations, in case they don't already own a VRR-capable monitor and want to have some of that smoothness.

Sapphire Outs an RX 570 Graphics Card with 16GB Memory, But Why?

Sapphire has reportedly developed an odd-ball Radeon RX 570 graphics card, equipped with 16 GB of GDDR5 memory, double the memory amount the SKU is possibly capable of. The card is based on the company's NITRO+ board design common to RX 570 thru RX 590 SKUs, and uses sixteen 8 Gbit GDDR5 memory chips that are piggybacked (i.e. chips on both sides of the PCB). When Chinese tech publication MyDrivers reached out to Sapphire for an explanation behind such a bizarre contraption, the Hong Kong-based AIB partner's response was fascinating.

Sapphire in its response said that they wanted to bolster the card's crypto-currency mining power, and giving the "Polaris 20" GPU additional memory would improve its performance compared to ASIC miners using the Cuckoo Cycle algorithm. This can load up the video memory anywhere between 5.5 GB to 11 GB, and giving the RX 570 16 GB of it was Sapphire's logical next step. Of course Cuckoo Cycle is being defeated time and again by currency curators. This card will be a stopgap for miners until ASIC mining machines with expanded memory come out, or the proof-of-work systems are significantly changed.

SUSE Linux Among First Operating Systems to Natively Support Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory

SUSE today announced support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory with SAP HANA . Running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, SAP HANA users can now take advantage of high-capacity Intel Optane DC persistent memory in the data center. Users can optimize their workloads by moving and maintaining larger amounts of data closer to the processor and minimizing the higher latency of fetching data from system storage during maintenance. Support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory, currently available in beta from multiple cloud service providers and hardware vendors, is another way SUSE is helping customers transform their IT infrastructures to reduce costs, deliver higher performance and compete more efficiently.

"Persistent memory technology will spark new applications for data access and storage," said Thomas Di Giacomo, SUSE CTO. "By offering a fully supported solution built on Intel Optane DC persistent memory, businesses can take greater advantage of the performance of SAP HANA. SUSE continues to partner with companies like SAP and Intel to serve customers worldwide who are looking to fuel growth by transforming their IT infrastructure. It is their needs that drive the direction of our innovation."

BIOSTAR Introduces the S100 Plus Series SSDs for Gamers and Content Creators' Computer Upgrades

BIOSTAR, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices announced the S100 Plus series SSD, an affordable solid state drive (SSD) with outstanding performance for laptop and desktop computer upgrades. Built in a beautifully designed 2.5-inch unibody with ultra-slim 7.0mm casing, featuring an ultra-stable shock-proof design. The S100 Plus Series SSDs are available in 240GB and 480GB, making upgrading or replacing previous generation storage more accessible than ever.

With the SATA3 6GB/s interface, the S100 240GB Plus has sequential read/write speeds of 510MB/s and 370MB/s, and the S100 480GB Plus with read/write speeds of 540MB/s and 460MB/s to achieve ultra-fast game or software access. Compared with traditional hard drives, the read/write speed is an improvement of up to 200-300% in performance, which offers a whole new gaming and work experience.

Sharkoon Announces SilentStorm Cool Zero Power Supply

Sharkoon Technologies is an international supplier of PC components and peripherals which boasts performance at a reasonable price. Sharkoon presents the SilentStorm Cool Zero. This is an 80 PLUS Gold certified PC power supply with modern and superior components. Its high-quality features enable an efficient power supply and adjustable cooling.

80 PLUS Gold Certification
The SilentStorm Cool Zero has been certified 80 PLUS Gold for its efficiency of up to 92 percent at 230 volts. This verifies that the power supply unit operates cost-effectively and is ideal for energy-conscious users.

Ubisoft's Far Cry: New Dawn System Requirements Outed

The PC requirements for the upcoming Far Cry: New Dawn, a re-invented, re-visited post-apocalyptic interpretation of Far Cry 5's Montana, have been outed by the developer. Ubisoft has taken a Far Cry: Primal approach to development, it seems, and these are usually some of the more experimental Far Cry games (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon also comes to mind). Read on after the break for the system requirements, but note that Ubisoft hasn't mentioned NVIDIA's new generation of RTX-enabled 2000-series graphics cards.

A Sprinkle of Salt: AMD Radeon VII Reported to Only be Available in Reference Design, no Custom Treatment

A report via Tom's Hardware.de says that AMD's plans for the upcoming Radeon VII are somewhat one-dimensional, in that only reference designs will be available for this particular rendition of the Vega architecture. And this doesn't mean"initial availability" only on reference cards, like NVIDIA has been doing with their Founder's editions; the report claims that at no point in time will there actually be a custom-designed Radeon VII. The quantity of Radeon VII GPUs will apparently be "strictly limited" come launch - a likely result of the decision to make use of TSMC's 7 nm process, which will have to serve not only AMD's Ryzen 3000 and Epyc CPUs when those are actually launched, but all of TSMC's other clients.

This is in contrast with AMD CEO Lisa Su's words during her CES keynote, who said that Radeon VII would be available from "several leading add-in board partners plan to offer the cards". According to a Tom's Hardware.de Taiwanese source, "You cannot leak anything that does not exist" in regards to third-party designs. And another Chinese source said "the quantity of Radeon VII is strictly limited… not sure if AMD wants to open AIB to have an own design later".

Corsair Releases Its First Thermal Paste Solution: The TM30

Corsair has released their first own-branded thermal paste solution, which joins the already dozens of products on the market. Thermal paste (or any sort of TIM - Thermal Interface Material) essentially serves to increase thermal conductivity between two surfaces, such as your CPU and your cooler's heatsink.

Corsair says the TM30 thermal paste they've released features low viscosity (needed to fully penetrate microscopic abrasions in the interfaced materials and pushing low-conductivity air out), and is based on a zinc-oxide compound. Corsair say TM30 offers up to 6º of cooler operation compared to the admittedly ambiguous "common thermal paste". Corsair also said that TM30 can and will last for years without drying, cracking, or change in consistency, thus ensuring a long lifespan in the best thermal conductivity conditions possible. Corsair's TM30 is available for €6.90 / $7.98 per syringe. Sadly, quantities aren't mentioned.

GIGABYTE Announces Availability of AORUS AD27QD Tactical Gaming Monitor

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, has launched the world's first tactical gaming monitor, AORUS AD27QD, today. Heading into a new market, AORUS is well prepared and confident that the exclusive features on the monitor can give gamers a tactical advantage over their enemies while gaming. AORUS AD27QD is a 27inch flat screen frameless monitor.

It uses an IPS panel with QHD (2560x1440, 2K) resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate in 1ms (MPRT) response time. Not only is the view angle up to 178 degrees, it also meets 95% DCI-P3 standards along with 10bits color, so the monitor can provide users astonishingly beautiful pictures. On top of that, the monitor has passed VESA certified DisplayHDR 400 standards which gives users spectacular display quality; With AMD Radeon FreeSync​ technology, the monitor can provide the most fluent gaming experience to let you enjoy your gaming without picture stripping.

ASUS Intros ROG Strix Helios Mid-tower Case

ASUS dabbled with cases from time to time, and its latest creation is the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix Helios, an ATX mid-tower to go with your other ROG Strix-branded hardware. Built with brushed-metal finished steel and tinted tempered glass, the Strix Helios features an elaborate aRGB LED illuminated front embellishment that includes the ROG logo, which can be directly plugged in to the 3-pin aRGB header of your motherboard. It also comes with four USB 3.1 front-panel ports, one of which is type-C, all of which plug into your motherboard's standard USB 3.1 headers. You also get LED and fan-controls.

Although marketed as a mid-tower, the ROG Strix Helios is large, measuring 249 mm x 564 mm x 592 mm (WxHxD), and supports E-ATX motherboards in addition to smaller form-factors. Inside, you get a horizontally partitioned layout. Storage areas include two 3.5-inch/2.5-inch trays, and four additional 2.5-inch mounts. Among the cooling features are three 140 mm front intakes, which come with three factory-fitted fans, two 140/120 mm top vents that are vacant, and a 120 mm rear exhaust, which has a factory-fitted fan. In addition to 8 expansion slots, you get 2 vertically oriented slots so you can show off your graphics card better (PCIe riser cable not included). The company didn't reveal pricing.
Tuesday, January 15th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Memory
Mouse
Networking
Speakers
SSD
Palit GeForce RTX 2060 Gaming Pro OC 6 GB

Palit GeForce RTX 2060 Gaming Pro OC 6 GB

Palit's GeForce RTX 2060 Gaming Pro OC is the most affordable custom design RTX 2060 we've reviewed so far, yet it comes with the best cooler, reaching temperatures of only 68°C under load. Unfortunately, idle-fan-stop is missing, but the card makes up for it with extremely quiet idle noise levels.

MSI Breaks DDR4 World Record at 5608 MHz Using Z390I Gaming Edge AC

Years after year, MSI dominates the memory frequency record to show the strength on overclocking performance. Just in the beginning of 2019, MSI's in-house overclocker, Toppc, pushes the DDR4 speeds to 5.6GHz, setting another barrier using Kingston memory and the MSI Z390I GAMING EDGE AC motherboard by liquid nitrogen cooling. Undoubtedly, this is a revolutionary breakthrough for the Intel 9th generation processors for the first time. This world record not only shows MSI's dominant position on performance for Intel 9th generation processors by using MSI MPG Z390I GAMING EDGE AC and MSI's unique and patented DDR4 Boost technology, but also reveals team-up power with Kingston DDR4 memory.

More information on the record can be found here.

Riotoro Demos Morpheus Convertible Case, Among Others at CES 2019

While at CES 2019 we had the opportunity to check out Riotoro's new flagship case the Morpheus which uses a new convertible design making it an actual departure from traditional cases. Out of the gate, it sets itself apart with support for 2x USB 3.0 Type-C and 2x USB 3.0. The inclusion of USB Type-C was a nice change of pace considering the adoption of the new connector has still been a bit slow. That said they maintained the status quo in other ways by including headphone and microphone jacks along with RGB controls for good measure. Obviously, the final features and hardware support will depend entirely on the end users configuration of the chassis as it can be resized depending on user choice. The case itself is a dual chamber design that uses perforated mesh on all sides for superior cooling, with support for up to 240 mm liquid coolers. Motherboard support includes everything mini-ITX all the way up to EATX with the entire chassis offering tool-less assembly. It also provides support for up to 2x 3.5-inch drives and up to 4x 2.5-inch drives. Out of the box it comes with 2x 120 mm red LED intake fans, and a single 80 mm exhaust fan. The case is available now with a price tag of $189.99 directly from Riotoro.

LucidSound Ships LS41 Wireless Surround Gaming Headset

LucidSound, the fastest growing gaming headset brand, announced today shipping of the LS41 Wireless Surround Headset, a premium surround sound, multi-format headset and a new flagship model for the Company. Available now via Amazon and other leading gaming retailers, the LS41 features wireless audio when used with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and can also be used with Nintendo Switch and other mobile devices via the 3.5mm wired connection.

Rapoo Announces 8000 Wireless Mouse and Keyboard with 12 Months Battery Life

Rapoo, a leader in Wireless peripheral technology, announces the launch of its advanced '8000 Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo', exclusive to those who are on the go.

The slim keyboard isn't just sleek; but truly compact and on the go! Experience the high-level architecture, meshed with customizable Multimedia Keys that supports 1000 DPI High-Definition Tracking Engine which brings responsive and smooth cursor control. The pocket -size keyboard features a familiar key shape, size, and feeling. It comes with a palm rest and adjustable tilt legs to keep you comfortable all the time.

Cooler Master Introduces Its First MMO Mouse: MM830

Cooler Master, a global leader in designing and manufacturing innovative gaming peripherals and computer components, today announces the launch of its new gaming mouse, the MM830, making it the second product within the M800 series to hit the market following the MP860 dual sided RGB mousepad.

The MM830 is Cooler Master's first MMO mouse weighing at 162g. It features dynamic four zone RGB lighting effects and is designed with a top-of-the line 3360 Pixart optical sensor for accuracy and speed, with up to 24,000 DPI. Its durable PBT chassis reduces wear and tear, while Omron switches provide a 20M click reliability. Located in the thumb-rest area, the hidden D-Pad grants fast access, especially useful in MMOs. Its OLED screen permits further customization. Users can program the screen to display graphics, track APMs, reflect DPI settings and more.

Manli Rolls Out its GeForce RTX 2060 Series

Manli Technology Group Limited, the major Graphics Cards and other components manufacturer, today unveiled the new GeForce RTX 2060 family - Manli GeForce RTX 2060 with three solutions: blower style fan, twin cooler design and overclocking version. Manli GeForce RTX 2060 family is powered by the NVIDIA Turning GPU architecture and delivering ray tracing technology. Moreover, it is built-in 1,920 CUDA Cores which has increased up to 50% compared with previous generation, and the core frequency is at 1365 MHz which can boost up to 1680 MHz.

Manli GeForce RTX 2060 Gallardo & Manli GeForce RTX 2060 with Twin Cooler: Manli GeForce RTX 2060 Gallardo & RTX 2060 are both built with dual 8 cm fan and three copper heatpipes which provide effective heat dissipation. Specially, Manli GeForce RTX 2060 Gallardo is features of up to 5% more overclocking clock compared with standard version.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 417.71 WHQL Drivers with FreeSync Support

NVIDIA today released its latest version of GeForce software. Version 417.71 WHQL is the first public driver to add support for the new GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. More importantly, it makes good on CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's promise to make NVIDIA GPUs, "Pascal" and "Turing," compatible with VESA Adaptive-Sync (AMD FreeSync) monitors. NVIDIA maintains this repository of monitors it has tested to support Adaptive Sync, although any compatible monitor meeting the cable requirements can be made to run G-Sync. The only feature only supports single-displays for now, and NVIDIA plans to add multi-display Adaptive-Sync support later.

NVIDIA also addressed a number of issues. To begin with, it fixed the problem of the GeForce GTX 1080 not dropping down GPU clock-speed to idle when three displays are connected. Also addressed is a black-screen noticed on monitors connected via DisplayPort, when resuming from S3 sleep. Also fixed is black screen noticed on BenQ XL2730 when the refresh-rate is set to the monitor's advertised 144 Hz. A Windows 7-specific error in which game frame-rates drop when both G-Sync and the in-game V-sync are enabled. Multiple apps throw up artifacts on Windows RS5 when resolution is changed, on machines with RTX 2080, which NVIDIA fixed with this release. An occasional crash on "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" with the game running in DirectX 12 mode was fixed.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 417.71 WHQL
The change-log follows.

ASUS Announces Expanded Memory Support for Z390 Motherboards

ASUS today announced that its Z390 motherboards will support a maximum DRAM capacity of 128GB via a UEFI BIOS update that's being rolled out from today on the ASUS support site. ASUS will bring this increased memory support to all Z390 motherboards via additional BIOS updates that will be available soon.

Previously, support for 128GB of DRAM was available only on high-end desktop (HEDT) motherboards with eight DIMM slots, such as the Intel X299 platform. Intel recently updated its memory reference code (MRC), enabling the memory controller in 9th Gen Intel Core processors to increase the supported capacity of each DIMM from 16GB to 32GB, resulting in a total system memory capacity of 128GB when populated with two DIMMs per channel (2DPC) on both memory channels. This increased memory support gives users more flexibility for running memory-intensive applications and tasks.

Akasa Vegas RAM Mate is a Trident Z-lookalike for your Non-RGB Memory Modules

Akasa unveiled the Vegas RAM Mate, the company's entry to the lucrative RGB memory heatspreader market. Borrowing a lot of design ideas from G.Skill's Trident-Z series, this heatspreader consists of two brushed aluminium plates that sandwich a silicone RGB LED diffuser at the top, with eight diodes. The RGB setup supports both 4-pin RGB and 3-pin addressable-RGB connectors. The heatspreader itself supports both VLP 18.3~18.7 mm-tall, and standard 30 mm-tall memory modules, which could be anything DDR1-thru-DDR4, as long as it's standard width (and not SO-DIMM). Akasa appears to be selling these in single-unit quantities, as opposed to some other companies selling their products in 2-piece kits. We expect it to be priced around USD $20-25.
Monday, January 14th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mousepads
NAS
Notebooks
PSUs
Speakers
SSD
Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 AMP 6 GB

Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 AMP 6 GB

ZOTAC's GeForce RTX 2060 is the first custom-design RTX 2060 we review. It comes with a decent overclock out of the box and has the Samsung memory we love so much because it overclocks like crazy. Priced at $379, the card isn't much more expensive than the NVIDIA Founders Edition.
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 XC Ultra 6 GB

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 XC Ultra 6 GB

EVGA's RTX 2060 XC Ultra is the company's flagship RTX 2060, priced at $379. It comes with the largest overclock of all RTX 2060 cards: 1830 MHz. You may also raise the board power limit to 217 W, which is almost the maximum capability of the 8-pin PCIe power input configuration.

Sonarworks Debuts True-Fi Mobile App, Demonstrates Personalized Audio Profiles at CES 2019

If you had not heard of Sonarworks prior to this or the press release that went out last week, you may not be alone. The Latvian company is a little over 6 years old, and has since already managed to grab attention of some of the largest players in the audio market, including car makers interested in stereos, DJs, music producers, and of course more typical headphone and speaker makers. Their True-Fi desktop program claims to calibrate headphones to where everyone is able to hear the same sound no matter where they are- provided you use a supported headphone. This makes use of software sound processing and filtering, and the process works well enough to where they say over 30,000 recording studios worldwide currently use their technology.

At CES 2019, Sonarworks demonstrated the mobile version of their True-Fi program, currently in the Apple and Google Play stores as unreleased versions that will remain free until ready, following which it will cost $3.99/month or $99 for a lifetime license (the desktop version costs $79 by itself at this time). I was able to try out the app at their suite, and then also at home on my own phone, and came out impressed with the changes made. I did happen to have one of the ~300 currently-supported headphones though, and Sonarworks say they are working on adding more all the time. Users can also specifically request support to their own headsets if not on the list, although that might involve round trip shipment to Latvia. Read past the break for more, including their equally exciting personalized audio feature coming later this year.

Hisense Introduces New Display Tech at CES 2019 With ULED XD

China-based Hisense came out at CES 2019 with quite an ingenious new display solution that has (speculatively) a much better chance of faster PC monitor integration that OLED. OLED's implementation in PC monitors has been excruciatingly slow despite recent developments of the technology - mainly due to some underlying problems for PC's mostly fixed-image use-cases with its UI elements. As a result, display technology in the monitor space has been somewhat stagnant. Hisense, with its dual-panel ULED XD solution, whoever, could have a much cheaper and easier to implement solution that could bring another technology player to the PC monitor market.

The ULED XD solution basically crams two panels in front of the LED array. One is a 4K, RGB VA panel. This is your run-of-the mill implementation. However, there's a second panel sandwiched between the RGB and LED array in the form of a greyscale, 1080p resolution panel. What does this particular implementation offer, you ask? Well, it just so happens that different lighting conditions across the same RGB image are expanded upon by the grayscale monitor, even if it works at a lower resolution - it only serves to increase contrast if high and low luminosity areas, with black areas being supported by the blacks of the grayscale monitor. And even at that resolution, look at these as local dimming zones - over 2 million of such across a single panel.

Activision-Blizzard Stock Valuation Falls 10% in Wake of Bungie Split

Whether Activision-Blizzard's split from Destiny and Destiny 2 developer Bungie was caused by an overzealous grip on Bungie's creative vision or not is something that will likely never be clarified. But one thing is for certain: in the stock market, it doesn't really matter how something happened, but really what the effects are of it happening. And Bungie splitting from Activision-Blizzard means that the industry behemoth now finds itself with one less IP under its belt, thus constraining its revenue sources to a couple of high-profile IPs. Less sources of income = less versatility and resilience to market fluctuations, and that is something Activision-Blizzard was immediately hit back for from investors.

The company's stock decreased by as much as 11% in the wake of the Bungie split, from a high of $51.35 down to a low of $45.19, as investors reduced their trust in the company's profit volume and momentum. It has since recovered, but is still some 9% down. Whether Activision actually expected this much of a fall or not only the company knows. It'll be interesting to see the company's next financial report, though.

NVIDIA RTX in Action at CES 2019 Trailer for Upcoming Atomic Heart

While adoption of NVIDIA's RTX ray tracing technology has been slow, the potential for the technology is undeniable. Games like Battlefield V have shown us how some increased optimization work can bring interesting, improved visuals at even the lowest setting of the technology. More games will eventually come out with NVIDIA's RTX technology - Metro: Exodus being one of the most hyped, high-profile one, but one other gem was presented when NVIDIA announced their RTX series: Atomic Heart.

At CES 2019, developer Mundfish outed another trailer that shows off the ray tracing capabilities embedded in this China Miéville-esque game. An FPS game with USSR inspirations, NVIDIA's RTX will be used for accurate reflections and deeper shadows, much like in Remedy's also upcoming Control. The game is still ways, ways off, though - Jensen Huang does say this is what "next-generation gaming will look like"; and it's expected that the developer will only release a closed beta for the game come 4Q 2019. That's a lot of time between it being showcased as an NVIDIA RTX title and its actual release. Still, take a look at the video below for some more renditions of NVIDIA's RTX tech and what ray tracing can bring to the table.

AOC Announces the AOC AGON AG273Q Monitor - 27", TN, 144 Hz FreeSync or 165 Hz G-Sync

Display specialist AOC is proud to announce the arrival of the curved AG273QCG (Nvidia G-SYNC) and AG273QCX (AMD FreeSync 2 HDR) monitors of the third AGON generation. AOC's revamped and redesigned premium gaming monitor series is available starting from January 2019.

Designed for hardcore gamers, the AGON 3 models carry on with features of the past AGON displays such as refresh rates of up to 165 Hz, a high responsiveness of 1 ms, and now includes latest technologies such as AMD FreeSync 2 HDR and a refreshed sleek design, which in case of the AG273QCG has contributed to winning the "Red Dot Design Award 2018". Thanks to very high refresh rates of 165 Hz (AG273QCG) and 144 Hz (AG273QCX), very fast response times and variable refresh rate technologies both monitors are suited for fast-paced games.

Radeon VII Lacks Full FP64 Compute Capabilities Available to Instinct MI60

AMD's upcoming Radeon VII high-end consumer graphics card lacks full FP64 compute capabilities available to the company's other products targeting the enterprise-compute market, such as the Radeon Instinct MI60. Radeon VII offers an FP32 peak compute throughput of 13.8 TFLOP/s single-precision, which, given its hardware resources, should normally work out a double-precision throughput of 6.7 TFLOP/s. However, with the feature disabled for the Radeon VII, the FP64 throughput will be closer to 860 GFLOP/s. Disabling FP64 capabilities for client-segment graphics cards is a common practice among both AMD and NVIDIA.

For gamers, PC enthusiasts, and even creative professionals, double-precision floating-point performance of a graphics card remains completely irrelevant. The disabling of DPFP ensures gamers have access to Radeon VII, lest every cloud compute provider and their dog would soak up Radeon VII inventory owing to its $699 list price, had it offered 6.7 TFLOP/s rivaling compute accelerators 10-15 times more. Radeon VII is the world's first consumer graphics processor built on the 7 nm silicon fabrication process, with company-claimed performance rivaling NVIDIA's RTX 2080. It will be available from February 7.

G.Skill Announces AMD X399-optimized DDR4-3466 32GB (4x8GB) Trident-Z Kit

G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is excited to announce a new memory specification of DDR4-3466 CL18-22-22-42 with 32GB (4x8GB) capacity configuration at 1.35V for the high performance AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor and X399 platform. This memory kit will join the G.SKILL "Trident Z RGB (for AMD)" series, also known as the TZRX models.

Previously, the highest DDR4 speed available for the AMD X399 platform from G.SKILL was DDR4-3200. G.SKILL is now expanding the specifications to DDR4-3466 under the quad-channel configuration. This kit has been validated with the ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME ALPHA motherboard and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X processor, as shown in the screenshots below.

HDPLEX Unveils the 800-Watt DC-ATX Power Brick: Convert Idle PCIe Connectors to Power a Second PC

HTPC case maker HDPLEX unveiled the DC-ATX 800W, a nano-ATX form-factor power-converter. This accessory, roughly as big as a power brick, takes in 6-pin PCIe, 8-pin PCIe, and 8-pin EPS connectors from your main rig, and depending on how many connectors you plug-in, puts out up to 800 Watts of power through a 24-pin ATX, and three downstream PCIe/EPS connectors, with the unit itself handing DC-to-DC switching of 12V to 5V and 3.3V voltage domains. This accessory is ideal if you have a high-Wattage power supply with multiple vacant EPS and PCIe connectors, and want to power a second mini-ITX machine, while saving a lot of space on the side. It uses some pretty high-grade components to ensure 24x7 operation, including Sanyo Japan-made solid-state capacitors, Infineon-made MOSFETs, Würth Elektronik inductors, and controller chips supplied by National Semiconductor and MPS. Available in the coming weeks, the DC-ATX 800W is priced at $190.

MSI Shows Off GS75 Stealth and GE75 Raider Among Other Notebooks at CES 2019

After checking out MSI's newest graphics cards, we took a closer look at their laptops including the 17.3-inch GS75 Stealth which just so happens to be their most potent ultra-thin gaming notebook. It comes packing up to an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q to deliver the best possible gaming performance. In order to facilitate that MSI also used a 144 Hz 1080p display. The system also supports up to 32 GB of DDR4-2666 memory and has 2x NVMe M.2 / SATA-SSD combo slots and 1x NVMe M.2 SSD slot. It also features MSI's Cooler Boost Trinity+ technology which improves cooling for maximum performance. Meanwhile, the touchpad has a 35% larger surface area features a glass surface, and it also has support for multi-touch gestures. The keyboard is by SteelSeries and offers per-key RGB illumination, while sound is handled by Dynaudio using a passive radiator design. All in all, it has some beefy specifications for an ultra-thin to say the least.
Sunday, January 13th 2019

HTC Vive Pro Eye: Hands On with Hardware and Software

The Vive Cosmos was not the only major announcement coming out of HTC's Vive business unit at CES this year. While that has massive mainstream appeal, the company was quick to let us know that it was still to early to comment further than what has already been covered in the aforelinked news post. Instead, they invited us to their suite to take a closer look at the Vive Pro Eye- one of the few things that really stood out for us at the trade show.

The Vive Pro Eye is, as the name would suggest, a new SKU with integrated eye tracking in the Vive Pro HMD. Working together with Tobii, the Vive Pro Eye allows for a more natural control mechanism within VR via eye controls, which in turn means a revamped menu navigation system is possible. This allows for increased accessibility to end users with disability, more optimization on VR performance, and detailed analysis of VR experiences for both the client and the businesses alike. Read past the break for a breakdown of our experience with the Vive Pro Eye, and the various demos on hand to showcase the feature.

MSI's RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z, Among Other Offerings, Smiles For the Camera

MSI showed off their GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning at CES 2019. This latest and greatest offering from them is built around overclocking with the graphics card having been designed with a 19-phase power delivery subsystem and 3x 8-pin power connectors. It offers a dual BIOS support with the default BIOS coming with a factory overclock of 1770 MHz while the second BIOS is configured for LN2 and comes with NVIDIA's reference clock speeds but offers a boosted power limit of 350-watts. Display connectivity options consisted of 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI and 1x USB Type-C output for VirtualLink.

Kanto Audio Shows TUK Powered Speakers at CES 2019

We were invited to take a look at the Kanto Audio suite at CES by their PR firm, and the brand itself has been on my mind for a while now- offering good quality powered monitor speakers at various price points. This year they are bringing out their new high-end TUK powered speakers, which were first shown off last year, and the entire spec sheet reads like a must-have for many audio enthusiasts, including yours truly. The TUK comes in white or black color schemes, is rated at 130 W RMS for the pair, and features AMT tweeters with 5.25" aluminium concave cone drivers coupled with an on-board DSP and a Class D amp.

I/O includes Bluetooth 4.2 with Qualcoom AptX HD and AAC codec support for those who need it, but most will end up using one of the several wired options encompassing optical TOSLINK, RCA and Phone inputs, a USB DAC for us PC users, subwoofer out, and a headphone jack. So if you fancy connecting a turntable to it to play some old vinyls, go for it! Oh, it also has a USB charger to use with portable media players as well. Read past the break for more on the TUK and other Kanto Audio products we saw this past week.

Razer Shows Off Raptor Gaming Monitor, RTX Equipped Laptops at CES 2019

Razer a dominant player in the PC peripherals market is looking to make their mark when it comes to monitors with their all-new Razer Raptor gaming monitor. Its a 27-inch display featuring an IPS panel with a resolution of 2560x1440. It comes with support for FreeSync and has a refresh rate of 144 Hz. Response times are listed as 7 ms typical and 4 ms with Overdrive. The contrast ratio is 1000:1 and the screen has a max brightness of 420 nits. It also offers 95% of the P3-D65 color gamut, and yes it has support for HDR. Connectivity consists of 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB Type-C with power delivery and 2x USB 3.0.

The design features a wide stand that offers excellent stability while also providing channels for cable routing giving the system a clean and unique appearance especially with those bright green cables. As expected of Razer the Raptor monitor also supports Chrome-powered lights in the base which will sync with the rest of Razer's Chrome gear including, mice, keyboards and even laptops and speakers. In regards to availability, no date has been set just yet; however, Razer said it would be made available later this year with an MSRP of $699.99.

Hexgears at CES 2019- Hands on with Keyboards and Mice

Hexgears is, in their own words, "a global gaming brand with influences from the USA, Germany, and China". We briefly covered them before thanks to their first adoption of the new Kailh Sun switches, and at CES 2019 they had a booth on the showfloor for this very keyboard and other products. The GK760 from Hexgears is still the only keyboard announced to use those new Sun switches, which effectively allows for a central backlighting similar to Omron switches, while still retaining Cherry MX keycap compatibility. The GK760 is a full-size keyboard with 104 keys and ABS plastic keycaps, which also appear to be low in profile even though the actual switches are not necessarily so. There is an entire column of programmable G-keys (macro keys), as well as a dedicated volume scroll wheel and a thick plushy wrist rest. Read past the break to know more about the products they showed off at CES.

Mad Catz Strikes Again At CES 2019, Announcing All-New Range of S.T.R.I.K.E. Gaming Keyboards

Mad Catz Global Limited, leading gaming hardware innovators for nearly 30 years, announced an all-new line of S.T.R.I.K.E. professional gaming keyboards, including a S.T.R.I.K.E. with ultra-reliable mechanical keys, ideal for the Esports community. Expected to begin shipping from Spring 2019, the S.T.R.I.K.E. range is a perfect addition to the Company's recently announced range of G.L.I.D.E. gaming surfaces and R.A.T. mice., forming part of a complete PC eco-system. With two S.T.R.I.K.E. keyboards to choose from, gamers can pick the keyboard that suits their preference and budget.

Armed with Cherry mechanical switches, the S.T.R.I.K.E.4+ is the gamers' new secret weapon. Tested to withstand at least 50 million hits, the Cherry switches provide perfect travel and precision every time. With anti-ghosting featuring on every key, gamers can combine with the powerful F.L.U.X. software, which allows for staggering customization and control over every aspect of the keyboard including individual key lighting and control over the USB report rate. Chameleon RGB Lighting baths the keyboard in 16.8 million colors, fully adjustable and customizable via the F.L.U.X. software and creating a new standard in keyboard lighting.
Saturday, January 12th 2019

Kailh Shows off New "China Style" BOX Switches at CES 2019

Dongguan City Kaihua Electronics Co., Ltd, more familiarly known for the Kailh brand, had their own booth at CES in the design and source section far away from the rest of the consumer-centric show floor. Indeed, this section was more for brands to get B2B relations onboard but that did not stop us from visiting the switch maker that is now responsible for providing switches to more brands than any other today. Kailh had not one, but four new switches under the so-called China style moniker. These are limited edition switches that presumably were made with certain specific customers in mind already, possibly to specific requests to be used with limited edition keyboards as well. The China style BOX switches include the linear Chinese Red switch rated at 45 gf actuation, the tactile and clicky Noble Yellow rated at 65 gf actuation, a lighter weight tactile and clicky Glazed Green switch at 50 gf, and a much heavier linear Ancient Gray switch at all of 95 gf actuation. All four switches have interesting names in common, along with a rated 1.8 mm actuation distance and 80 million keystroke lifetime.

Bitspower at CES 2019- New Blocks, Sensor Displays, Fans, and LN2 Cooling!

CES may have officially ended but our coverage from the trade show continues. Bitspower had invited TechPowerUp to come visit their suite, mentioning there would be something new and unexpected, and that indeed was the case. Our tour began with the customary showcase of the new GPU water blocks compatible with reference, and board partner designs, for the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 and relatively new AIC RTX 2070/80(Ti) cards as well. These feature integrated RGB lighting compatible with all major motherboard lighting solutions for control, and adopt the split central-inlet flow design as well.
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