Tuesday, July 17th 2018

Today's Reviews

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

Upcoming Hardware Launches 2018 (Updated)

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

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

Editor's Note: Naturally, the adoption of such a standard does imply that graphics card manufacturers will have to start fitting USB 3.1 connectors on their graphics card outputs. This opens up a proverbial can of worms on backwards compatibility of this new data delivery protocol, however, in that even current top-of-the-line graphics cards lack such a port - meaning that this protocol will only be compatible with eventual, future GPU releases.
A new industry consortium led by NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft today introduced the VirtualLink specification - an open industry standard that enables next-generation VR headsets to connect with PCs and other devices using a single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C connector, instead of a range of cords and connectors.

This new connection, an Alternate Mode of USB-C, simplifies and speeds up VR setup time, avoiding key obstacles to VR adoption. It also brings immersive VR experiences to smaller devices with fewer ports, such as thin and light notebooks.

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

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

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

AOC Releases 31.5" 1440p IPS Monitor with FreeSync

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

Crucial Ballistix Sport AT Gaming Memory Now Available

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

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

Corsair Announces Carbide Series SPEC-06 RGB Case

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

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

Cooler Master Debuts a Full Range of Accessories

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

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

Kaspersky Labs Warns Against Cryptocurrency Social Engineering Schemes

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

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

Samsung Announces First 8Gb LPDDR5 DRAM using 10 nm Technology

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

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

Mad Catz Announces Sale of TRITTON Gaming Audio Brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today's Reviews

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

Corsair Carbide 275R

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

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

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

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

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

Gigabyte Launches AORUS P850W and P750W Power Supplies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMD Deepens Senior Management and Technical Leadership Bench

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

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

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

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

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

CORSAIR Teases Upcoming Amazon Prime Day Deals

Amazon's now-annual Prime Day event in July is due to kickoff in less than 24 hours, and this year some of the deals actually look to be proper sales as opposed to the retailer and its partner aiming to reduce inventory of fluff no one purchases. Indeed, we have seen companies already make mention of items that will go on sale on Monday, July 16 to generate interest. CORSAIR must have decided this was a good idea as well, as we received a list of their products that would be available for a lower price than usual during the event. One such product is the Crystal series 570X RGB mid-tower case, which has an MSRP of $179.99 that includes three of their SP120 RGB fans and integrated lighting control, and will be available for $139.99 during said event. Read past the break for more of the teased deals, as well as links on Amazon.com for when they go live.
CORSAIR Crystal 570X RGB case at Amazon (deal will go live July 16, 2018)
Friday, July 13th 2018

Today's Reviews

Accessories
Cases
Cooling
Gaming PC
Keyboards
PSUs
SSD

Spire Introduces the First Model of HUSKY series PC Cases

The Spire HUSKY series computer cases are the new addition to our line of affordable ATX mid-tower size PC chassis with contemporary looks. New on this series are the separated PSU chamber and Mainboard and components chamber. The modern front panel design is practical with one USB3.0 & wo SB2.0 and HD/AC97 Audio ports on the front top. The sleek and industrial front panel design fits into any interior, home or office or public space.

The lower structure provides satisfactory space for component installation and considerable cooling. The chassis structure is ready for multiple cooling fans, here is space for 1x 92 or 120mm fan at the rear, 3x 120mm on the front, 1x 120mm or 140mm on the top and 2x 120mm on the PSU chamber. Sufficient space for the assembly of long (380mm) video cards and large (161mm) high CPU coolers.

Valve Disables CS:GO Lootboxes in Belgium & Netherlands

Following Valve's decision to disable trading in the Netherlands due to that country's legal statutes regarding gambling, the company is now taking other steps to comply with the country's Dutch Gaming Authority. Players in the Netherlands and Belgium "will be restricted from opening containers" following this week's patch, according to the patch notes. This will prevent players in those countries from even opening the lootboxes. As the "Miscellaneous" section of the patch notes reads:
  • Updated Steam and CS:GO account restrictions for users in Netherlands and Belgium:
  • Steam Trading and Steam Market features are now re-enabled for Steam accounts in Netherlands.
  • Customers in Netherlands and Belgium will be restricted from opening containers.

Cougar Introduces the Turret Mid-Tower Case With Vortex RGB Fans

The Cougar Turret has an attractive angular form, it is a compact Mid-Tower that is ideal for customers looking for a good value and high quality case. It has two tempered glass panels. The first is a side panel, which lets you show off your computer's hardware. While the second on the front of the case creates an eye-catching glowing lighting effect when the two pre-installed Vortex LED fans are illuminated.

THE COUGAR TURRET AT A GLANCE:
  • Room for up to six cooling fans and three radiators (including a 360mm radiator in the front)
  • "Gaming vent system" to ensure constant airflow
  • Pre-installed Vortex LED fans.
  • Space for up to three graphics cards (max length 350mm)

Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Grew For the First Time in Six Years

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 62.1 million units in the second quarter of 2018, a 1.4 percent increase from the second quarter of 2017, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. This is the first quarter of year-over-year global PC shipment growth since the first quarter of 2012.

All regions experienced some growth compared with a year ago. While the results are a positive result for the PC industry, Gartner analysts said this sign of market stability is not enough to declare a PC industry recovery just yet.

"PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "In the consumer space, the fundamental market structure, due to changes on PC user behavior, still remains, and continues to impact market growth. Consumers are using their smartphones for even more daily tasks, such as checking social media, calendaring, banking and shopping, which is reducing the need for a consumer PC.

Raidmax Intros the X08 Tower-type Open Air Chassis

Raidmax today introduced the X08, a quasi-open air ATX mid-tower chassis. A collection of stamped out sheet-metal bolted to tempered glass side panels, the X08 holds a standard ATX motherboard with 7 add-on card slots. Its motherboard tray has room for graphics cards up to 40 cm in length, and CPU coolers up to 15 cm in height.

There are no drive cages as such, and you're left to mount 2.5-inch drives along the spinal panel with the motherboard tray. The only fan mounts are three 120 mm along the top panel, letting you install a 360 mm x 120 mm radiator there. Front-panel connectivity includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and HDA jacks. The case measures 610 mm x 255 mm x 525 mm (LxWxH). The company didn't reveal pricing.

Intel to Acquire eASIC to Bolster FPGA Talent and Solutions

Intel is competing to win in the largest-ever addressable market for silicon, which is being driven by the explosion of data and the need to process, analyze, store and share it. This dynamic is fueling demand for computing solutions of all kinds. Of course Intel is known for world-class CPUs, but today we offer a broader range of custom computing solutions to help customers tackle all kinds of workloads - in the cloud, over the network and at the edge. In recent years, Intel has expanded its products and introduced breakthrough innovations in memory, modems, purpose-built ASICs, vision processing units and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

FPGAs are experiencing expanding adoption due to their versatility and real-time performance. These devices can be programmed anytime - even after equipment has been shipped to customers. FPGAs contain a mixture of logic, memory and digital signal processing blocks that can implement any desired function with extremely high throughput and very low latency. This makes FPGAs ideal for many critical cloud and edge applications, and Intel's Programmable Solutions Group revenue has grown double digits as customers use FPGAs to accelerate artificial intelligence, among other applications.
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