Monday, February 27th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Notebooks
Processors
PSUs

Biostar Racing Z270GT4

Everyone likes saving a buck or two on their technology purchases, and Biostar is all about providing you with those options. For all you mATX lovers on a budget who want a bit more for features, but not a bigger price, Biostar's Gaming Z170GT4 just might be exactly what you are looking for.

AMD's Ryzen CPU Series will Need Modern Linux Kernel for Proper Support

So, it's not just Windows that will be pulling the "you need the latest version" card when it comes to Ryzen CPU support. Apparently, Linux will need kernel version 4.9.10 or better to enable a lot of features, SMT included. If you really want good support, the "newer the better" is generally the way to go.

Operating below that version won't necessarily stop Ryzen from functioning as a CPU, but several notable features, most notably SMT, will be completely "broken" according to the article at Phronix.

Phronix notes that the fix landed in early February. It notes in the commit message:
After: a33d331761bc ("x86/CPU/AMD: Fix Bulldozer topology") our SMT scheduling topology for Fam17h systems is broken, because the ThreadId is included in the ApicId when SMT is enabled. So, without further decoding cpu_core_id is unique for each thread rather than the same for threads on the same core. This didn't affect systems with SMT disabled. Make cpu_core_id be what it is defined to be.
So there it is, for you techno-wizards. Apparently, microcode actually is relevant to support features, and Microsoft's claims have some degree of merit.

Source: Phronix

Microsoft Adds Ability to Block Win32 Apps from Install on Windows 10

In a story headline that is sure to ruffle some reader's feathers, Microsoft has done exactly that: Added the ability to block installation of any app using the oldest remaining major API in Windows: Win32.

But hold on to your nerd-battlewagons, brave tech warrior. Microsoft is not enabling this feature by default. It is currently only in an experimental build, and per MS, it will not be on by default in any mainline build ever produced. It's simply there for "added security."

And yet, is this not a sort of admission of Win32's supposed inferiority from Microsoft? The fact that you can block this and not block the Windows Universal apps is in a way saying "here, these are safe. No, win32 is not."

Oh, and yes, if there is any question, this is an editorial in the fullest sense of the word. Enjoy.

AMD Ryzen 7 Initial Inventory Looks Healthy

On the 2nd of March, AMD Ryzen processors hit the shelves in three high-end models, the $499 Ryzen 7-1800X, the $399 Ryzen 7-1700X, and the $329 Ryzen 7-1700. Tne question on everyone's minds is whether there will be enough units to reach their friendly neighborhood PC hardware stores. According to Taiwan-based industry observer DigiTimes, AMD is planning a healthy inventory of Ryzen chips.

AMD's initial shipment of Ryzen processors, which go on sale on the 2nd March, will be backed by a worldwide inventory of 1 million units. Think about that for a moment - AMD's bean-counters are confident it can sell 1 million $329-$499 processors. A more or less equal number of socket AM4 motherboards are expected to be in supply, with there being about 80 models of socket AM4 motherboards to choose from.

Source: DigiTimes

AMD Ryzen 7-1800X Cracks 5.20 GHz OC with LN2 and All Eight Cores Enabled

AMD's upcoming Ryzen series processors promise to be an overclocker's treat. A PC enthusiast with access to a Ryzen 7-1800X sample managed to achieve an extreme overclock of 5.20 GHz with liquid-nitrogen cooling, and more importantly, not having to disable any cores to stabilize the OC. The 5201.07 MHz overclock, achieved by cranking the base-clock up to 137.78 MHz, and the multiplier up to 37.75X, backed by a core voltage of 1.875V, was even tested to be bench-stable, scoring 2,363 points in Cinebench R15. This also reveals that you should be able to finely crank up the base-clock multiplier in steps of 0.25X, (as opposed to 0.5X). The Ryzen 7-1800X will be available on the 2nd of March, 2017, priced at $499.
Sources: Hexus.net, TweakTown

XFX Intros the Radeon RX 480 Crimson Edition

XFX introduced the Radeon RX 480 Crimson Edition 8 GB graphics card (model: RX-480P8LFR6). Based mostly on the board design of the RX 480 Double Dissipation card the company launched its RX 480 lineup with, this card features red LED illumination for the two fans, and the XFX logo on the top side of the cooler. As with the Double Dissipation, the Crimson Edition card features detachable, hard-swappable fans that stay off when the GPU is idling.

The card is clocked at 1288 MHz core, and 8.00 GHz (GDDR5-effective) memory, a minor core overclock against 1266 MHz reference. The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. Display outputs include three DisplayPorts, and one each of DVI and HDMI 2.0b. A full-length back-plate comes included. The company didn't reveal pricing. The company also plans to launch "Crimson Edition" variants of its RX 480 4 GB and RX 470 graphics cards.

Western Digital Transforms the Mobile Experience with New iNAND 7350

Western Digital Corp. today introduced the iNAND 7350 storage solution, the company's most advanced and highest capacity embedded flash drive (EFD) to date. Leveraging Western Digital's 3D NAND and unique and highly intelligent, fourth-generation SmartSLC technology, iNAND 7350 delivers up to 256 gigabytes (GB) of reliable and responsive embedded storage that is ideal for data-rich applications and next-generation mobile experiences.

"Our new 256GB iNAND 7350 is the highest capacity embedded storage device available today on e.MMC, the industry's most proven interface," said Christopher Bergey, vice president of Embedded and Integrated Solutions with Western Digital. "By combining our 3D NAND technology and latest application-aware architecture, we have built the iNAND 7350 storage device to deliver an exceptional balance of performance, capacity and cost-efficiency. This can enable smartphone manufacturers to introduce mainstream devices that offer the high capacity consumers crave and deliver outstanding application experiences - from high-quality 4K Ultra HD video playback to next-generation augmented reality (AR)."

GIGABYTE Announces AM4 Ryzen Support

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, is proud to announce the rise of the AORUS Gaming Series Motherboards on the New AM4 Ryzen Platform from AMD. The AM4 Platform will host the X370, B350 and A320 Chipsets which all support the Ryzen CPUs. GIGABYTE will have all three chipsets available, each fully optimized for CPUs with 8-Cores and 16 Threads, for consumers who are interested in any segment of the platform. With user-centric features exclusive to GIGABYTE, consumers will find RGB Fusion, Smart Fan 5 and Dual Audio Chips that provides a solution like no other.

With anticipation building for the new platform, GIGABYTE has made no compromises with its innovative technologies. The fully customizable RGB LEDs from RGB Fusion will allow users to customize their system exactly the way they want. Smart Fan 5, an intuitive user interface, works in tandem with hybrid fan headers for optimum cooling performance and system protection. Moreover, RGB Fusion has made its way onto many accessories and peripherals already in the market. RGB Fusion Ready devices allow enthusiasts to control all of their RGB lit products from a single interface.
Sunday, February 26th 2017

Intel Plays Dirty Over Ryzen, Attempts to Manipulate Ryzen Reviews?

Intel is rattled with AMD Ryzen. Its 10-year old Nehalem CPU architecture that has been shrunk and incrementally updated over the years, is finally coming across as dated in the wake of AMD's "Zen" architecture. What to do when a competitor with 1/50th your R&D budget threatens to wreck your next annual appraisal? Play dirty and arm-twist the media of course! And playing dirty Intel is, according to a TweakTown report.

Apparently, Intel has scrambled its PR department to call in favors with the press in return for "guidelines" on how to review AMD Ryzen. Intel's PR emails allegedly ask reviewers to "call us before you write." The guidelines are worded more to make it sound like Intel wants its chips to be reviewed "fairly" against Ryzen, but the underlying objective is clear.Source: TweakTown

ASRock Announces Motherboards for AMD Ryzen Processors

The leading global motherboard manufacturer, ASRock, is pleased to announce the launch of its series of AMD AM4 socket based X370 and B350 motherboards - celebrating AMD's return to the CPU arena with the all-new, high-performance Ryzen processor. ASRock has created distinctive X370 motherboards to match all your needs, with unique features and a full range of products for gamers, power users, tech geeks and even DIY beginners.

Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming: The world's first AMD X370 motherboard with ultra-fast 5 Gb/s LAN support, ASRock's Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming motherboard is endorsed by professional gaming legend, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel. The built-in Aquantia 5Gb/s LAN is no need to upgrade cables - just plug in existing Cat 5e cables with 5 Gb/s switching hub, and you can instantly get 5x more network capacity. The IR digital PWM 16 phase power supply design ensures rock solid stability and consistent performance, even with power-hungry loading scenarios. ASRock's signature PCI-E Steel Slots feature extra enhanced quality that prevent signal interference affecting graphics cards, ensuring glitch-free gaming and heavy graphics cards to be well installed. Key on-board features include 802.11ac WiFi, and the gamer's must-have audio solution, Creative SoundBlaster Cinema 3, to enhance gaming sound with stunning audio realism, intuitive positional accuracy, punch and dynamics.

Following Ryzen's Launch, Intel's CPUs Likely to See Price-Cuts

Let's quietly approach the elephant in the room: Intel's pricing structure will hardly stand the onslaught of AMD's Ryzen, which, if early benchmarks are to be believed, has apparently caught Intel with its pants down. Even purely from the leaks that have been following us non-stop in the last several months, it's obvious that AMD managed to outdo itself in the best way possible, managing to develop an architecture which offers up to 52% more performance than their previous one. Intel, which was enjoying the sun-shaded comfort of carrying a virtual, high-performance x86 monopoly, grew stagnant in innovation, ensuring it would stretch its bottom-line by way of minimal R&D investment - just enough to be able to name their improvements as a "new generation" of processors each year.

This in turn has led to an interesting outlook in the high-performance x86 market: customers aren't blind, and they see when a company is stretching its fingers in their pockets. A stagnant performance increase on Intel's customer processors with almost a decade of single-digit increments and paralyzed core-counts to an (admittedly strong) architecture have taken away a lot of customers' goodwill towards Intel. That Intel still has strong brand cognition is a no-brainer, but it doesn't have as much brand credit these days, on account of the low performance gains, and tick-tock falter, than it did in the days of Athlon 64. AMD has the benefit of being the underdog, of coming up with something new, fresh and performant (with headlines claiming it is the latest revival of a sleeping giant)... and those are all points that put pressure on Intel to reignite interest on its products.
Saturday, February 25th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
NAS
Networking
Notebooks
Processors
PSUs
SSD

Synology Announces Official Release of DiskStation Manager 6.1

Synology Inc. today announced the official release of DiskStation Manager (DSM) 6.1 and comprehensive packages, delivering a more secure, productive, and unified NAS experience. The award-winning DSM is constantly evolving to help businesses tackle new challenges. This time, it delivers better IT efficiency with Active Directory Server, enhances performance with instant SMB server-side copy, ensures reliability with file self-healing, provides stability and security enhancements, and more.

"The release of DSM 6.1 is another major leap on the advanced NAS operating system in terms of security and productivity. The newly introduced features help Synology NAS serve as your office's all-in-one server and become a central piece of your IT strategy," said Vic Hsu, CEO of Synology Inc.

Mad Catz Ships Tritton ARK 100 Wired 7.1 Headset for PC

Mad Catz Interactive, Inc., a global provider of innovative entertainment products, today announced that it has commenced shipment of its new Tritton ARK 100 Wired 7.1 Headset for PC to its retail customers. Connecting via USB, the ARK 100 for PC features advanced audio customization software, which places the gamer center stage and fully in control of the audio environment. The 7.1 surround sound is delivered through 60 mm and 10 mm drivers in each earcan, providing a full 360 degrees of positional awareness, while a boom microphone with dual chat mic system works to cancel out background noise and improve the clarity of the player's voice and communications with teammates and other players.

"The ARK 100 for PC raises the bar for PC gaming headset audio quality, durability and comfort," said Andrew Young, Chief Technology Officer at Mad Catz. "Whether it be the unique comfort resulting from Audionomics, the superior audio performance of R:Drive, or the customizability provided by Kameleon lighting, the ARK 100 for PC is designed to deliver the comfort, audio quality and customization that PC gamers seek for optimum performance and gameplay enjoyment."

ZOTAC Intros Low-profile GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050 Graphics Cards

ZOTAC today introduced a pair of low-profile graphics cards based on the GeForce GTX 1050 series, the GTX 1050 Ti LP (model: ZT-P10510E-10L), and the GTX 1050 LP (model: ZT-P10500E-10L). The two cards are based on a common board design, with a half-height 14.4 cm long PCB, and a 2-slot thick cooling solution that features a chunky aluminium mono-block heatsink that's ventilated by a pair of 40 mm fans. Both cards rely on the PCI-Express bus for power, stick to NVIDIA reference clock speeds, and feature the same display outputs - one each of Displayport 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, and dual-link DVI. Low-profile I/O brackets come included. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ASUS Unveils the TinkerBoard to Rival Raspberry Pi and Intel Edison

As the world's number one PC motherboard manufacturer by volume, it would be a shame if ASUS didn't pander to the budding engineers and electronics hobbyists among you with a product that rivals the Raspberry Pi and Intel Edison. That product is the TinkerBoard, a card-sized single-board computer with a ton of I/O, including support for 4K Ultra HD displays. At the heart of this board is a Rockchip RK3288 SoC, which embeds a 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A17 CPU, and a Mali T764 GPU. This chip is topped off by 2 GB of dual-channel memory. The most prominent Raspberry Pi competitor to this board is the Pi 3 Model B, with its 64-bit Broadcom BCM2837 chip, and a starting price of just $35.

Other features of the TinkerBoard include a GPIO that rivals Raspberry Pi, 4K Ultra HD H.264 video decode capability, gigabit Ethernet, SDIO 3.0, 24-bit/192 kHz HD audio, and a swappable antenna for its 802.11 b/g/n WLAN. While the specifications check out well in favor of the TinkerBoard, it all comes down to pricing. Hobbyists working on robotics projects, for example, purchase Raspberries Pi by the dozens thanks to their low price. ASUS should do well to keep that in mind when pricing this board.

The Power of Marketing - AMD's Ryzen Hype Train Hyperloops On

AMD did it again: building-up such a tremendous speed on its new products' hype train that the Ryzen 7 1700X, Ryzen 7 1800X, and Ryzen 7 1700 managed to jump straight to first, second, and fourth spots of Amazon's list of best-selling CPUs, respectively, dethroning even Intel's mighty i7 7700K. Granted, it isn't hard for the processors from one or the other manufacturer to quickly jump and wrangle about the spots on retailer's best seller lists - there Are only two manufacturers of consumer-grade, high-performance x86 CPUs. But keep in mind: this is a pre-order we're talking about, with nothing but leaks and marketing maneuvering for consumers to base their purchase on.
Friday, February 24th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Harddisks
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
Notebooks
PSUs
SSD

Scythe Kabuto 3

Scythe is looking to slice through the competition like a samurai on horseback with the Kabuto 3. Utilizing a top-flow design that's more compact than similar offerings, it delivers excellent noise levels paired with a good price/performance ratio and simple installation.

Oculus Faces Potential Legal Injunction Over Zenimax VR Code Used in its Products

Earlier this month, Zenimax was awarded $500m when a jury found that VR pioneer Oculus had violated a NDA and illegally used code from the game publisher. That may just be the beginning of the legal ramifications facing Oculus however, as Zenimax has just asked the court to block Oculus from using the code involved in the court case altogether, potentially blocking the sale of a good number of games utilizing the technology of the Oculus VR headset.

Oculus is appealing the case, and calls the prior ruling "legally flawed and factually unwarranted." To their credit, the court did agree that while Oculus had violated a non-disclosure agreement, it did not find that they had committed the larger crime of stealing trade secrets.

AMD's X370 Only Chipset to Support NVIDIA's SLI

Only AMD's top-of-the-line X370 chipset will support competing NVIDIA's SLI technology. AMD's next-in-line B350 eschews SLI support but retains CrossFire compatibility, while the low-end A320 chipset will offer no support for any such multi-GPU technologies. While this may seem a move by AMD to purposely gimp NVIDIA products on its platforms, it stands to reason that even enthusiasts tend to stay away from multi-GPU solutions and their associated problems. Besides, AMD will surely avoid any way of giving NVIDIA more funds than the company already has, by way of paying the "SLI Tax" on every chipset it ships. By limiting SLI support to its highest-end chipsets, AMD shaves some expenses from licensing efforts, whilst keeping SLI support to those that are, in truth, more likely to use them: power users, who will certainly spare no expense in springing to a X370-based platform.

As of now, some details remain unclear in the overall feature-set and compatibility differences between AMD's upcoming AM4 chipsets, but it would seem that only AMD's X370 chipset manages to leverage the full 20 PCIe lanes (18x if you run 2x SATA connections) delivered by AMD's Ryzen CPUs. This would look like a way for AMD to impose a "motherboard tax" on users, by limiting the number of PCIe lanes available on lower-end motherboards, and thus urging them to take the next step to their own X370. Apparently, PCIe lanes are not a differentiating factor between AMD chipsets (with X370, B350 and A320 all offering 4 native lanes), only their ability to access (or not) Ryzen's own 20.

Not much time until all of this is adequately cleared up, though.

Source: Computerbase.de

NVIDIA Releases the GeForce 378.77 Hotfix Drivers

NVIDIA today released a hotfix version of its GeForce driver suite. Numbered the 378.77, these fix some issues with the previous driver release, numbered 378.66. Solved issues include driver installation errors for laptops with GeForce GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti GPUs, crashes in Minecraft and some other Java-based titles, and resolving 'Debug Mode' as default option on Pascal based GPUs.

This driver release contains all previous improvements, including an optimized experience for Sniper Elite 4, For Honor and Halo Wars 2, whilst also introducing support for NVIDIA's Video SDK 8.0, which provides support for high-bit-depth (10/12-bit) hardware accelerated video decoding of VP9 and HEVC. You can, as always, grab these hot-from-the-coding-gods drivers from the link below, right here on TPU.
DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 378.77 Hotfix Drivers

ASUS Announces Availability of the Designo Curve MX34VQ With Qi Charging

After announcing it on mid-2016, ASUS is finally coming through with its announcement of a unique take on the widescreen monitor department. Dubbed the Designo Curve, the MX34QV stays true to the design implied in its name, presenting an interesting mix of straight lines and a nicely curved, organic base, which incidentally supports wireless Qi charging. I find the aesthetics on this monitor pleasing and subdued, even though some liberties have been taken with that exquisite Qi charging base, which lights up in a cool blue lighting.

Spire Announces the Archer 9 Vertical Ergonomic Mouse

Spire is pleased to introduce the arrival of the new Archer 9 left handed vertical ergonomic mice. The Archer series by Spire are ergonomic mice that allow your hand, arm and shoulder to be placed in a more human likely and natural position. The vertical design provides better provision to reduce wrist or elbow pain that can come from twisting your arm when using traditional mice.

The latest addition to the Archer series is model 9 which offer support to left handed users. Featuring two ergonomic buttons that are located conveniently on the side of the mouse allowing seamless back and forth browsing. Accomplish higher precision with your choice of adjustable DPI levels. Simply switch between 3 different DPI levels, ranging from 800DPI (green led color),1600DPI (blue led color) to 2400DPI (red led color). The handy DPI button lets you switch between the various tasks you partake in throughout the day.

TechPowerUp Announces TPUCapture v2.0

TPUCapture is our gift to the PC enthusiast community. This nifty little screenshot utility lets you directly upload screenshots to our Free Image Hosting service, and gives out direct sharing links, along with Forums BBCode. We have given it its first major update in years. The new TPUCapture v2.0 is packed to the brim with new features, including support for HiDPI (high pixel-density) displays, in which the OS is upscaling your desktop for clearer fonts. You can now save in three JPEG quality presets, GIF, and lossless PNG formats. You can also tell us if you want us to delete your uploaded image after a specified amount of time. As always, TPUCapture lets you capture select areas of the screen, active windows, or the entire screen. It also lets you highlight portions of your screenshot. Grab TPUCapture from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp TPUCapture v2.0

COLORFUL Introduces iGameGTX1080 X-TOP-8G Advanced

Colorful Technology Company Limited, professional manufacturer of graphics cards and motherboards, announces it latest addition to the iGame family of graphics cards with the powerful iGameGTX1080 X-TOP-8G graphics card that is sure to deliver everything gamers ever wanted. Featuring Colorful's unique, in-house designed Silver Shark cooler, the Colorful iGameGTX1080 X-TOP-8G Advanced delivers unhindered performance so you enjoy the latest and greatest games in 4K Ultra HD or in virtual reality all while enjoying the cool and quiet cooling that only Colorful can bring.

The Colorful iGameGTX1080 X-TOP-8G Advanced features a factory overclocked core frequency of up to 1890Mhz on its 2560 CUDA cores. The 8GB GDD5X memory has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and is wired to a 256-bit bus. The card fully supports DX12 and draws power from two 8-pin power connectors. iGame signature features highlight this release with an 8+2 phase digital power supply via iGame Pure Power (IPP). Improved build quality with Colorful's Silver Plating Technology ensure high-level of performance even with extreme loads.

Team Group Introduces its Fastest SSD for Gamers with T-FORCE CARDEA M.2

Team Group, the world's leading memory brand, today officially announces the launch of its fastest storage solution designed for gamers with the introduction of the T-FORCE CARDEA M.2 solid-state drive. The T-Force CARDEA M.2 SSD utilizes x4 PCIE 3.0 for up to 2600MB/s read speeds along with NVMe and TRIM support. The custom-made T-FORCE cooling module enhances looks as well as endurance for continuous high-intensity usage. This combination of high-speed data transfer, aggressive looks and effective cooling makes the T-FORCE CARDEA the perfect upgrade for gamers who want the best for their system.

Named after the Goddess of Storm, the T-FORCE CARDEA utilizes new-generation PCIE Gen3 x4 to breakneck 2600 MB/s read and 1450 MB/s write sequential performance and with up to 180K/140K IOPS in random read/write operations. The T-FORCE CARDEA's speed brings fast boot-up along with a responsive operating system that loads games and application faster for a smoother experience with reduced loading time.

AMD "Zen" Based APUs Later This Year

An AMD representative, responding to a Reddit question on AMD Ryzen branding, confirmed that the company will launch Mobile SoCs (APUs) based on the "Zen" micro-architecture later this year. The logical next-step for AMD with "Zen" beyond "Summit Ridge" has been to combine one or more quad-core "Zen" CCX (CPU complexes) with an integrated graphics core based on one of its newer GPU architectures ("Polaris" or "Vega").

The AMD representative confirmed that the company will launch mobile SoCs that combine "Zen" CPU cores with an integrated GPU, in the second half of 2017. This could hint at the availability of "Zen" powered notebooks, of all shapes and sizes by Holiday 2017. Over the year, AMD will begin launching "Zen" based products, starting off with 8-core high-end Ryzen 7 processors on March 2nd, six-core and some of the higher-end quad-core Ryzen 5 series processors in Q2-2017, and some of the lower-end quad-core Ryzen 3 parts in the second-half of 2017, now joined by mobile SoCs around the same time.

Source: Reddit
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