Friday, February 16th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
SSD
Storage
Kingdom Come: Deliverance Benchmark Performance Analysis

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Benchmark Performance Analysis

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the first surprise hit of 2018. It puts you in the shoes of a low-skilled peasant who has to endure tough adventures in the middle ages. We tested the game on 15 graphics cards at four resolutions, looked at VRAM usage, and checked on how the game scales on the CPU.

Windows 10 UWP Protection Kicks the Bucket

2018 has been an exciting year for the Warez scene so far. First, Italian group CPY circumvented Ubisoft's deadly triple protection (Uplay, Denuvo, and VMProtect) that was present in Assassin's Creed Origins. And now, the word on the street is that CODEX has successfully cracked Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) protection found in Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection. Unlike Denuvo's unimpressive track record for protecting games for a few months, UWP actually did a stellar job in keeping multiple Microsoft games safe for over a year. So, what's Microsoft's secret winning formula? Stick as many layers of DRM into the game as humanly possible. According to CODEX's NFO file, Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection had as many as five different DRMs (MSStore, UWP, EAppX, XBLive, and Arxan) which made the game a pain in the neck to crack. At this moment, it's unknown whether other Microsoft titles like Forza Motorsport 7 or Gears of War 4 possess the same number of protection layers. But now that CODEX has initiated the domino effect, we'll find out soon enough.

ARCHOS Unveils the Vision 215 All-in-One PC

Fitting in an ultra slim design, with a 21.5 inches Full HD display, almost without edges, the ARCHOS Vision 215 embeds the essential components of a PC, a keyboard and a mouse, a complete connectivity set, and the Home edition of Microsoft Windows 10. This all-in-one PC comes in elegant design, easy to install at the heart of a home to be enjoyed by all members of the household, in order to use online services, interact with their favorite content, texts, music tracks, photos, videos or to achieve main tasks for school or the office. Unveiled at the MWC 2018 (Hall 6 - Stand B60), the ARCHOS Vision 215 will be available from May 2018, priced at 299.99 € all taxes included.

In its sleek design, less than 7 mm thick, the ARCHOS Vision 215 fits easily into any home. Space saver, with its tilting screen, it finds its place anywhere in the house, and becomes a real entertainment platform, in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. Featuring a Full HD 21.5-inch screen, almost borderless, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels in 16:9, combined with the Intel HD Graphics 400 graphics, it displays an ideal surface, realistic and bright colors to view photos and videos or read texts, alone or in a group.

Compulab Launches the Airtop2 Fanless PC with a Xeon CPU & Quadro Graphics Card

Compulab is introducing Airtop2 - a high-performance ruggedized fanless PC for edge computing and industrial applications that require deployment in harsh conditions. Based on Intel Xeon Processor E3-1275 v6 with an optional NVIDIA Quadro P4000 - both passively cooled using Compulab proprietary Natural Airflow technology and with a volume of just 7.5 liter - Airtop2 redefines the performance level of compact fanless PCs.

Other remarkable features of Airtop2 are up to 64 GB DDR4, high-performance storage sub-system with 2x NVMe + 4x 2.5" SATA SSDs / HDDs, tool-free service and a broad selection of FACE Module extensions. Airtop2 is available at an industrial temperature range of -40°C to 70°C and ships with 5 year warranty.

Coinbase Commerce is a New Cryptocurrency Payment Program for Vendors

Coinbase, one of the world's largest - and more transparent, in legal terms - cryptocurrency exchanges, has announced the start of a new cryptocurrency payment program. Coinbase Commerce is a new service that enables merchants to accept multiple cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin) directly into a user-controlled wallet as payment for services rendered or products acquired. Coinbase Commerce can be directly integrated into a merchant's checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform with just an email address and a phone.

This is another step to cryptocurrency world domination, and one of the most important steps towards widespread adoption of these as actual stores of value. The difficulty of translating cryptocurrency into real world value and products - which has seen better days, but has since seen key players withdraw from accepting these as payments - is one of the remaining walls towards widespread, mainstream adoption, and could provide a window for crypto in general to abandon its actual relevance as mere speculative investment. Some platforms already exist - TenX and BitPay come to mind, for instance. however, Coinbase as an exchange has some of the more solid footings in the cryptocurrency industry - and financial markets as well - so this is definitely a high-impact move that could help cement a future based in cryptocurrency trades.

Lunar Sale, Wishlist Tweaks Hit Valve's Steam Platform

Valve yesterday announced the begin of yet another wallet-burning sale to appeal to our consumerist bones. The Lunar Sale, as it is being called, is live from February 15th through February 19th, so, a mere four days with tons (thousands) of games under heavy discounts that can sometimes go up to 90%. On this front, it's business as usual - buy all those games you've been wanting at a fire-sale price, and then look at them guiltily as they collect virtual dust on your backlog.

Other, somewhat more relevant changes that have been made by valve to the overall Steam experience also look towards making it easier for customers to part with their hard-earned currency of choice (or not so hard-earned, it's all good for Valve, really.) Namely, there are some changes to the wishlist which now allow users to place items on their shopping cart directly from their wishlist page - which is nice, since before, you had to enter the games' own store page, and then add it to your cart). Of course, for items that are sold in packages or where there's a bundle, customers will be invited to peruse "Details" on the package, via the relevant store page. There's also the ability to sort your wishlist gamers through those that have the higher discount percentage - a handy tool for bargain-bin hunters. There's also tag search, and filtering options to exclude games such as W"Early Access" titles that aren't currently finished - and that may, or may not, be finished in the future.

AMD Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" CPUs Get Soldered IHS

AMD's second-generation Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" processors, which succeed the company's first Ryzen "Summit Ridge," reportedly feature soldered integrated heatspreaders (IHS), according AMD spokesperson "AMD_Robert" on Reddit. This would make the chips different from the Ryzen 2000G-series "Raven Ridge" APUs launched earlier this week, which come with a thermal paste between the IHS and the die. Soldered heatspreaders are generally known to have better heat transfer between the IHS and die, when compared to packages with thermal pastes between the two; and are more expensive to manufacture. They remove the need to "de-lid" the processor (remove the IHS). Ryzen 2000-series processors are expected to debut in April 2018.

EK Announces Monoblock for GIGABYTE X399 Motherboards

EK Water Blocks, the Slovenia-based premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer is releasing a new Socket TR4 based monoblock made for several GIGABYTE X399 motherboards. The EK-FB GA X399 GAMING RGB Monoblock has an integrated 3-pin RGB Digital LED strip which makes it compatible with GIGABYTE Fusion, thus offering a full lighting customization experience.

This is a complete all-in-one (CPU and motherboard) liquid cooling solution for two GIGABYTE AMD X399 Chipset based motherboards that support AMD Socket TR4 AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors. This monoblock is compatible with the following GIGABYTE motherboards:
  • GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Gaming 7 (rev.1.0)
  • GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX (rev.1.0)

Microsoft Adding "Ultimate Performance Mode" To Windows 10

In a blog post, Microsoft detailed some new features that have become available for Microsoft's Insider Program Fast Ring users, of which the titular "Ultimate Performance Mode" certainly wrings the most attention. The Ultimate Performance Mode is really a performance plan integrated into Windows, which basically throws all power saving features out the Window to make sure that the underlying hardware is always running at its peak performance. Microsoft says that latencies and microstutters should be reduced as much as possible, thus allowing users to wring "ultimate performance" from their systems.

Microsoft says this is focused on the Workstation market, and should be especially deployed in mission critical scenarios where every second counts (wait, doesn't gaming qualify by this measure?) As a result of this re-balancing on idle and power states, power consumption goes up; the main reason why Microsoft isn't making this feature available for battery-powered devices - at least for now. The consumer side of the equation is being left out in the cold, for now, when it comes to this Ultimate Performance Mode; but users should remain optimistic. There's no reason why Microsoft would leave this option to Workstation environments only, so a consumer-focused release (be it in the Insider Fast Ring or on the regular Windows 10 update cycles) is still out in the open.

ASUS Launches Gladius II Origin Gaming Mouse

ASUS has launched the third iteration of their Gladius gaming mouse, the Gladius II Origin (a missed chance for a Gladius III, uh?) There's a 12,000 DPI optical sensor under the hood (unclear if it's a PixArt solution), and the switches are both Omron-developed, though two different ones at that - there's an Omron D2FC-F-K switch and an Omron D2F-01F, with different clicking resistances, likely to incentivize sensitivity in the left mouse button. All in all, there are five buttons on this mouse (there's a DPI selector button and two thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse).

Other features include detachable, replaceable rubber and braided cables; RGB lighting with ASUS' Aura Sync support for the RGB zones (bottom, scroll wheel, and ROG logo); and support for ASUS' Armoury app. The Gladius II Origin weighs in at 110 g (sans cable), and has dimensions of 126 x 67 x 45 mm, and is available now from select etailers and retailers for $99.

Intel "Ice Lake-U" Gen 11 iGPU Features 48 Execution Units

Intel's next generation "Ice Lake" processor could integrate a significantly faster integrated graphics solution (iGPU), if a SiSoft SANDRA online database entry is to be believed. A prototype "Ice Lake" chip was benchmarked, with its iGPU being described by the database as "Intel UHD Graphics" based on the company's Gen 11 graphics architecture, which succeeds the current Gen 9.5 architecture implemented on "Coffee Lake" and "Kaby Lake." This iGPU is endowed with 48 execution units (EUs), which work out to 384 unified shaders; against 24 EUs and 192 shaders on Intel UHD 620. SANDRA also describes the iGPU as being able to share up to 6 GB of memory from the system memory; and featuring 768 KB of dedicated cache. Its reference clock is 600 MHz, double that of the UHD 620, although its boost clock remains a mystery. "Ice Lake" is being built on Intel's new 10 nm+ silicon fabrication process, so it's understandable for the company to significantly enlarge its iGPU.

GIGABYTE Outs Aorus Z370 Ultra Gaming 2.0 with Improved VRM

GIGABYTE released a major revision of Aorus Z370 Ultra Gaming motherboard. This isn't just marked "Rev 2.0" in some obscure corner of the PCB, but is part of the model name - Z370 Ultra Gaming 2.0. It replaces the 7-phase CPU VRM of the original with a new 11-phase setup that uses stronger ferrite-core chokes that don't whine when stressed. The company is also including one M.2 SSD heatsink for the upper M.2-22110 slot, which the original lacks.

Besides these, the Aorus Z370 Ultra Gaming 2.0 is identical to the original, including its RGB LED diffusers, multiple RGB headers governed by GIGABYTE RGB Fusion software, two reinforced PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 when both are populated) with NVIDIA SLI support, one gigabit Ethernet interface driven by an Intel i219-V controller, and a premium onboard audio solution with a headphones amplifier and 120 dBA SNR CODEC (Realtek ALC1220); and a price ranging between $150-$170.
Thursday, February 15th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Desktop PC
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Mouse
Processors
PSUs
SSD
Zhiyun Crane 2 Gimbal

Zhiyun Crane 2 Gimbal

A gimbal is a filming stabilizer, to ensure a precise filming result. Zhiyun offers a plethora of gimbals for entry-level users and professionals alike. The Crane 2 is Zhiyun's top product, offering a rich feature set and top performance along with great responsiveness for the shooting of pro-level video if combined with a suitable camera.

Intel Reimagines Data Center Storage with New 3D NAND SSDs

Today, Intel announced the Intel SSD DC P4510 Series for data center applications. The P4510 Series uses 64-layer TLC Intel 3D NAND to enable end users to do more per server, support broader workloads and deliver space-efficient capacity. The P4510 Series enables up to four times more terabytes per server and delivers up to 10 times better random read latency at 99.99 percent quality of service than previous generations. The drive can also deliver up to double the input-output operations per second (IOPS) per terabyte. The 1 and 2TB capacities have been shipping to cloud service providers (CSPs) in high volume since August 2017, and the 4 and 8TB capacities are now available to CSPs and channel customers. All capacities are in the 2.5-inch 15 mm U.2 form factor and utilize a PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 connection.

To accelerate performance and simplify management of the P4510 Series PCIe SSDs and other PCIe SSDs, Intel is also delivering two new technologies that work together to replace legacy storage hardware. Intel Xeon Scalable processors include Intel Volume Management Device (VMD), enabling robust management such as surprise insertion/removal and LED management of PCIe SSDs directly connected to the CPU. Building on this functionality, Intel Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) uses Intel VMD to provide RAID to PCIe SSDs. By replacing RAID cards with Intel VROC, customers are able to enjoy up to twice the IOPs performance and up to a 70 percent cost savings with PCIe SSDs directly attached to the CPU, improving customer's return on their investments in SSD-based storage.

Confessions of a Crypto Miner: Storing Your Coins

Welcome back to Confessions of a Crypto Miner, my bi-weekly column about a crypto miner from 2013 trying to get caught up with the latest standards. I'm presently mining and reporting to you from a dual-GTX 1080 based rig mining zCash.

As requested by many readers, today, we are going to talk about safekeeping your digital currency, and particularly, how to do it safely. Crypto has gotten a bad rap as of late for being insecure, due to numerous hacks of exchanges - but the cryptography in it is actually very strong and solid, and nearly all hacks have been related to centralized services or bad practices.

The focus of this article will be how to hold coin safely for the purpose of investment. I will go over the types of wallets, and their pros and cons. It may seem a bit more technical than some of my usual works but it is very essential information that everyone considering crypto should know. I've done my best to boil it down to basic, easy to understand principles for you.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Release Date and System Requirements Revealed

Fatshark announced in a live stream that Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the sequel to Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide, will land on PCs on March 8. Up to four players can band together to face the Chaos and Skaven armies. Players can also choose between five different heroes with 15 different career paths to choose from. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 will also feature a new Heroic Deeds system and a revamped loot system. The normal edition costs $29.99, while the Collector's Edition is going for $44.99. However, the game is already up for pre-purchase on Steam for 10% off the regular price. Consumers who pre-order the game will get the chance to participate in the exclusive pre-order beta that starts on February 28.

Intel Core i5-8500, i5-8600 (non-K), and Celeron G49xx Listed on Newegg

Four of Intel's latest 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" processors that are part of the company's second wave of products for the LGA1151 (300-series) platform, surfaced on Newegg. These include the Core i5-8500 (model: BX80684I58500), the Core i5-8600 non-K (BX80684I58600), the Celeron G4920 (BX80684G4920), and the G4900. The Core i5-8500 and i5-8600 fill the price-performance gap between the i5-8400 and the i5-8600K; while the G4900 could be the cheapest processor you can buy on this platform. The i5-8500 is listed at USD $215.99, the i5-8600 at $239.99, the G4920 at $65.99, and the G4900 at $54.99. The product pages don't include specs yet, but at the time of this writing, both the i5-8500 and the G4920 can be added to cart. Intel is planning to expand its 8th generation Core, Pentium, and Celeron processor families before the end of Q1-2018, along with motherboards based on the more cost-effective B360 Express and H310 Express chipsets.

NETGEAR Insight 28-Port Smart Cloud Switches Now Available

NETGEAR, Inc., the leading provider of networking devices that power today's smart home and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), has begun shipping two new 28-port Smart Cloud Switches introduced last month during CES 2018. Offering even more capacity for growing businesses, the switches fall under the umbrella of the award-winning NETGEAR Insight management solution. With its unified, single pane-of-glass view, Insight provides the convenience of setup, monitoring and management features from anywhere, at anytime, via the Insight mobile app or new Insight cloud web portal. With the addition of these latest switches the Insight ecosystem is now made up of six managed switches, the entire line up of ReadyNAS storage and the WAC500 series of wireless access points providing a complete managed network solution.

Optoma NuForce and Massdrop Announce the Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 IEM Earphones

Optoma NuForce, a world-leading manufacturer of audio products, today announced that the new Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 IEM (In-Ear Monitors), created from the company's collaboration with Massdrop, is now available for purchase. On the heels of the success of the award-winning Massdrop x NuForce EDC IEM, which won The Absolute Sound's "Product of the Year 2017" award in the earphone/IEM category, the new IEM has been designed for discerning yet price-conscious audiophiles.

Made with direction from Massdrop's audiophile enthusiast community, the EDC3 IEM combines key high-end audio elements and attributes to create a standout product that meets their highly-refined needs. Featuring three balanced armature drivers for true audiophile performance, the IEM is available for just $99 - one-third the price of competitive products.

Microsoft Launches the Surface Precision Mouse for $99.99

Microsoft today launches the Surface Precision Mouse. Designed for exceptional accuracy, comfort, and control, the new mouse helps you stay in your flow with flawless scrolling and three customisable buttons. Boasting an ergonomic shape, the mouse allows for either wired or Bluetooth connection and can work and switch seamlessly up to three different PCs. The Surface Precision Mouse is available for purchase now from the Microsoft store for $99.99. Special pricing is also available for eligible students, parents and teachers.

Samsung's Latest Notebook 9 Laptops Available Starting February 18

Samsung Electronics America, Inc. today announced that three new PCs will be available for purchase starting February 18. The Samsung Notebook 9 Pen will be available on Samsung.com and Amazon.com for $1,399.99, along with the Samsung Notebook 9 (2018), which comes in 13-inch and 15-inch models, starting at $1,199.99 and $1,299.99, respectively. The Samsung Notebook 7 Spin (2018) will be available at Best Buy and on Samsung.com and Bestbuy.com for $899.99.

Samsung Notebook 9 Pen: Lightweight convertible with embedded S Pen
Available in a 13-inch model ($1,399.99), the Notebook 9 Pen is Samsung's lightest 2-in-1 PC weighing 2.2 pounds that comes with the creative power of the S Pen, popularized in Samsung Galaxy Note devices. It is equipped with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and engineered with Metal12, a premium magnesium alloy built for ultimate portability and durability.

CORSAIR Launches the CORSAIR ONE ELITE

CORSAIR, a world leader in PC gaming peripherals and enthusiast components, today announced a new version of its award-winning CORSAIR ONE small form factor gaming PC, the CORSAIR ONE ELITE. Now featuring the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700K six-core CPU, the CORSAIR ONE ELITE boasts six liquid-cooled CPU cores, running at up to 4.2GHz, providing even more processing power to drive the latest games, streaming tools and demanding content creation applications, all at once.

Accompanying its new state-of-the-art CPU, the CORSAIR ONE ELITE boasts hardware to rival the most powerful desktop PCs, all still contained in a chassis that's just 12L in volume and which produces less than 20dBa of noise at idle. 32GB of CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX DDR4 2,666MHz memory offers plentiful capacity and performance for the most demanding games or content creation applications, while a liquid-cooled NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti delivers leading 3D graphics performance to push frame rates to the limit, even with maximum detail settings and at 4K resolution.

AMD Provides Support for BIOS Update on 2nd Gen Ryzen - Boot Kit Available

The Socket AM4 platform is designed to be a long life, fully featured, scalable solution with support for multiple processors, with varying capabilities. Since the release of the AMD Socket AM4 motherboards in early 2017 with the AMD Ryzen desktop processor, there have been several BIOS updates made available through our motherboard partners. These updates not only provide improved system performance but also expand support for newer processors as they become available.

In February 2018, AMD began introduction of the new 2nd Gen Ryzen Desktop Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics. To enable support for this new processor, an updated BIOS is required. Due to the rapid pace of innovation, and strong demand for Ryzen Processors with Radeon Graphics, it may be possible that some users with an AMD Socket AM4 motherboard paired with a 2nd Generation Ryzen Desktop introduced in 2018, may experience an issue where the system does not boot up during initial setup.

ELSA Releases GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB ST Graphics Card

After releasing their GTX 1080 Ti on December 2017 (a little late when it comes to this particular GPU, I'd say), ELSA is now launching a new (late) addition in the form of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB ST. It sports the exact same cooler design as the GTX 1080 Ti they've previously released (if it isn't broken, don't fix it or spend money improving it), and the exact same port distribution as the GTX 1080 Ti (3x DisplayPort, 1x Dual link DVI-D, and 1x HDMI 2.0b). All in all, this is a pretty vanilla release, the kind of which ELSA seems to favor, even if months behind other competitors.

Sea of Thieves System Requirements Outed by Developer

Sea of Thieves is one of the more interesting games coming from Rare since it's been bought by Microsoft. The company, which was previously almost locked in into developing games for the Kinect system, was felt by many as being creatively constrained and underappreciated by Microsoft's management. Well, Kinect is officially dead as a gaming peripheral, and as such, Rare has started developing games outside the Kinect box. Sea of Thieves is the first such, a pirate game with heart, and the company has just outed their system requirements for the game on Windows 10 PC's.

The system requirements are pretty extensive in the amount of configurations you can have for some preset experiences. The game can even be played on Intel's integrated graphics, according to Rare - at 540p with minimum details, though, so I doubt that's what gamers will be looking for as an actual gaming experience. For 1080p and 60 FPS play, Rare is quoting systems with at least an i5 4690 or an AMD FX 8150 (so, an Intel quad core or an AMD "octa-core"), 8 GB RAM, and a graphics card with at least 4 GB of VRAM. A GTX 770 or an AMD Radeon 380X are set as the graphics card requirement,s which Rare is putting on equal footing to the more recent, "modern" GTX 1060 or RX 470. The system requirements seem to scale pretty well with resolution and graphics settings, up to a 4K 60 FPS experience requiring the current top of the line graphics cards in the form of the GTX 1080 Ti or AMD's RX Vega 64.

CD Projekt Red Announces Arena Mode for Gwent

Gwent was a runaway success for CD Projekt Red. Embedded in The Witcher III - Wild Hunt, Gwent stands as an inception of sorts of a deep, strategical game within a deep, satisfying single player experience. And it was so successful, in fact, that the company decided to spin it off into a separate, standalone game that has been widely accepted as well.

The standalone Gwent differs from the version implemented in The Witcher III in a great many ways, as was to be expected for a competitive card game as opposed to the satisfying time killer it was in The Witcher III. And one thing lacking in the game was an alternate mode that allowed players to compete in other environments other than a Constructed format. Gwent's Seasons are typically a race to the top for the best prizes, but it can become a slog for players reaching the top ranks as deck diversity is reduced to a couple of high-power behemoths in the hand of extremely skilled players. As such, Gwent's Draft Mode introduction should not only give players another way of having fun on Gwent, but also give them ways of earning prizes near the end of the Season, allowing them to build up their decks even in the face of what would be insurmountable odds in the Constructed portion of Gwent.

NVIDIA Turing is a Crypto-mining Chip Jen-Hsun Huang Made to Save PC Gaming

When Reuters reported Turing as NVIDIA's next gaming graphics card, we knew something was off about it. Something like that would break many of NVIDIA's naming conventions. It now turns out that Turing, named after British scientist Alan Turing, who is credited with leading a team of mathematicians that broke the Nazi "Enigma" cryptography, is a crypto-mining and blockchain compute accelerator. It is being designed to be compact, efficient, and ready for large-scale deployment by amateur miners and crypto-mining firms alike, in a quasi-industrial scale.

NVIDIA Turing could be manufactured at a low-enough cost against GeForce-branded products, and in high-enough scales, to help bring down their prices, and save the PC gaming ecosystem. It could have an ASIC-like disruptive impact on the graphics card market, which could make mining with graphics cards less viable, in turn, lowering graphics card prices. With performance-segment and high-end graphics cards seeing 200-400% price inflation in the wake of crypto-currency mining wave, PC gaming is threatened as gamers are lured to the still-affordable new-generation console ecosystems, led by premium consoles such as the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. There's no word on which GPU architecture Turing will be based on ("Pascal" or "Volta"). NVIDIA is expected to launch its entire family of next-generation GeForce GTX 2000-series "Volta" graphics cards in 2018.

ASUS Intros GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Phoenix Graphics Card

ASUS today introduced its GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB Phoenix graphics card, based on the same cost-effective design as the GTX 1060 3 GB Phoenix it launched last year. The card features a compact 18.3-inch long custom-design PCB, mated to a simple aluminium fan-heatsink, with spirally-projecting heatsink fins, ventilated by an 80 mm double ball-bearing fan. The card comes with NVIDIA-reference speeds of 1506 MHz core, 1708 MHz GPU Boost, and 8.00 GHz (GDDR5-effective) memory.

Based on the 16 nm GP106 silicon, the GTX 1060 features 1,280 CUDA cores, 80 TMUs, 48 ROPs, and a 192-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, holding 6 GB of memory. The card draws power from a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. Outputs include dual-link DVI, two HDMI 2.0b, and one DisplayPort 1.4 connector. In the wake of the crypto-plague, its price is constantly changing.

Thermaltake Intros the Riing Plus 20 RGB TT Premium Edition Fan

Thermaltake today introduced the Riing Plus 20 RGB TT Premium Edition, a large 200 mm fan studded with RGB LEDs. The 30 mm-thick fan features a 11-blade impeller backed by a motor that features hydraulic bearing; and a fan frame with 24 RGB diodes studded along the bore of the frame, which support 16.7 million colors. What's interesting about this fan is that it plugs into your motherboard via the 9-pin USB 2.0/1.1 header, from which it not just powers the fan and the lighting, but also takes in software control for both.

The included Digital Lighting Controller (DLC) module ensures you don't run out of USB headers if you have many of these fans, by taking input from one header (two 500 mA inputs), and putting out three USB headers for up to three fans. Additional power is drawn from a 4-pin Molex input. The Tt RGB Plus software lets you control the fan on your PC, and through a connected smartphone. As a fan itself, the Riing Plus 20 RGB spins between 500 to 1,000 RPM, pushing up to 118 CFM of air, at up to 29.2 dBA of noise output. Available now as a single-pack that includes one fan, the DLC, and cables, the Riing Plus 20 RGB TT Premium Edition is priced at USD $59.99.
Wednesday, February 14th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Desktop PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Monitors
Mousepads
Networking
Processors
PSUs
Sound Cards
SSD
Alphacool Eiskoffer Professional Overview

Alphacool Eiskoffer Professional Overview

The Alphacool Eiskoffer Professional is a collection of mandrels, rulers, and other tools contained in a luxurious stainless steel briefcase that help you achieve that perfect watercooling build via effective measurement, bending, and cutting of either 13 or 16 mm OD hard tubing.

EK Water Blocks Apologizes to Customers with Re-designed Threadripper CPU Block

EK Water Blocks (EKWB) did not have the greatest end to 2017, losing key members of their top management, some of whom found employment with CORSAIR as we later found out. The performance of their CPU water block for AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs was also a matter of great debate among enthusiasts, with the cold plate having machined microfins that occupied an area smaller than that occupied by the CPU dies themselves. A few tests from end users and the media alike pointed towards disappointing thermal dissipation relative to the competition and, even though EKWB insisted that the block was good enough, the bad press likely was enough to convince them otherwise.

In a public apology published as a press release on their website, EKWB today even conceded that they did not give their best for the product as it is and laid down some plans to make it right. It begins with a redesign of the cold plate, which affects current and future products alike, as well as doing right to the customers who purchased the previous design of the CPU block as well. Click on the story to know more.

Intel Expands Bug Bounty Program in Wake Of Spectre, Meltdown Flaws

(Editor's Note: This move by Intel aims to expand their bug-bounty program to specifically include side-channel attacks, such as those that can be leverage on the Spectre and Meltdown exploits. The company is also increasing the rewards it will give the researchers who find new flaws, a move that aims to employ the masses' knowledge and ingenuity to try and reach the hard-earned bonus at the end of the vulnerability - all while saving Intel much more money than it's paying to bug hunters.)

At Intel, we believe that working with security researchers is a crucial part of identifying and mitigating potential security issues in our products. Similar to other companies, one of the ways we've made this part of our operating model is through a bug bounty program. The Intel Bug Bounty Program was launched in March 2017 to incentivize security researchers to collaborate with us to find and report potential vulnerabilities. This, in turn, helps us strengthen the security of our products, while also enabling a responsible and coordinated disclosure process.

Micron To Release QLC NAND-Based Drives in 2018 to the Server Environment

Micron has announced that they will be introducing QLC (Quad Level Cell) NAND-based, own brand drives for the server environment this year. The new QLC drives are expected to boost maximum storage density (and price per GB) closer to that of mechanical HDDs, which is why Micron is positioning drives based on this memory technology as data center-class SSDs for the nearline storage market. The company is positioning these drives as replacement options for 7,200 RPM HDDs for workloads that require heavy reads of stored information - thus offsetting QLC NAND's lower endurance when it comes to available maximum writes on the drives' cells.

It's a known trade-off when it comes to the NAND world: higher amounts of bits per cell to represent information means that there must be much increased accuracy when it comes to reading a given cell's voltage state. While SLC NAND only tracks two voltage states, MLC (2-bits per cell) tracks four voltage states, TLC doubles that to eight voltage states, and QLC doubles the ante again for a maximum 16 voltage states, where each voltage state represents data on the cell. Of course, with repeat writes and voltage changes, accuracy and capacity for the cell to maintain its given voltage tend to drop, which leads to incorrect information and thus corrupted data or those cells to be rendered inoperative. This is one of the reasons for manufacturers to include overprovisioning in their NAND-based solutions.

Intel Sees Promise of Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is heralded for its potential to tackle problems that today's conventional computers can't handle. Scientists and industries are looking to quantum computing to speed advancements in areas like chemistry or drug development, financial modeling, and even climate forecasting.

To deliver on quantum computing's potential, Intel initiated a collaborative research program in 2015 with the goal of developing a commercially viable quantum computing system. While there's been significant progress, quantum computing research is still nascent. The industry is at mile one in a marathon, and to realize this new computing paradigm, many problems must be solved and many architectural decisions must be made. For example, it's not yet clear what form quantum processors (or "qubits") will take. That's why Intel is placing two major research bets and investing in them equally.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Ships With Always On DRM... For SP?

Kingdom Come: Deliverance has deployed itself unto the already overwhelming amount of games that users can spend both their time and money on ("spend" that takes the form of "invest" if it's a good experience, naturally). Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a 1400's era open-world simulator that runs on CryEngine, so expect beautiful graphics and vistas. There's been some clamoring over the games' systems; however, gripes with the game design and such considerations being put to rest (they're always better sampled by users themselves on a case by case basis, anyway), there's something strange on this distribution of the game.

This is because while Kingdom Come: Deliverance is being marketed as a fully single-player experience, there seems to be some sort of strange, overly eager DRM solution embedded, which invokes an error message that reads "There is no live connection to server" if users try to launch the game in offline mode. Not strange in the sense that developers would want to protect their return on investment - just strange that such an always-on server ping would be required for a single player experience. And alas, the game has already been cracked by the pirate scene - so this is a case where pirates are actually better served in getting the game that way than actual paying customers with an immediate lack of internet connection or spotty service. Fret not, however; for those who don't want to acquire a DRM-enabled version of the game, the developers, Warhorse Studios, are releasing a DRM-free version via GOG on February 27th. This is users' opportunity to show the developers that they abide to a DRM-less game - provided it's a good experience, naturally.

Update Feb 16th: This has been fixed by the developer in version 1.2.2 and the game will now run perfectly fine while Steam is in Offline Mode.

Razer Partners with Polish Esports Organization Team Kinguin

Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, and Team Kinguin, Poland's most recognized esports organization, today announced a new strategic partnership. The long-term deal includes a full-line product sponsorship as well as a cooperation in product development and testing.

Moving forward, Razer will be the exclusive peripherals partner of Team Kinguin and supply all of the team's athletes with the latest mice, keyboards, headsets and other input devices, making sure they are always well-equipped when heading into battle. Razer will also equip the organization's Warsaw-based esports center and training facilities, drive a knowledge exchange between the two brands and act as a supporting partner for future initiatives and activities.

ViewSonic Boosts its SC-T25 Based Raspberry Pi Thin Client with New Features

ViewSonic, Corp., a leading global provider of visual solution products, today announced a major platform update to its SC-T25 Citrix Ready workspace hub (previously known as Citrix HDX Ready Pi). Effective March 31, 2018, ViewSonic will be offering the Citrix Ready workspace hub update as a technical preview available for download on ViewSonic.com. Added workspace hub features include: beacon-based session roaming, QR code login, and Citrix Casting. Citrix Casting will enable seamless and secure session roaming from a mobile device to any display connected to the workspace hub. For the first time, with these additional tools, a wide variety of new uses are supported in the healthcare, finance, and enterprise markets.

The new Citrix Ready workspace hub update means the already popular and high- performing SC-T25 will deliver even more compelling enterprise capabilities. Using secure login credentials presented in a phone or mobile device, users can seamlessly connect to their virtual workspace, simply based on proximity to an available ViewSonic SC-T25 workspace hub device. This will eliminate the need for manual login and network authentication, providing tremendous time-saving and productivity advantages for healthcare clinicians, financial analysts, and general knowledge workers in the enterprise space.

NETGEAR Introduces the 96-Port Modular 10G Switch

NETGEAR, Inc., the leading provider of networking devices that power today's smart home and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), is introducing the NETGEAR M4300-96X Stackable 10G and 40G Modular Managed Switch at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) AV industry trade show, taking place February 6-9 in the RAI convention center in Amsterdam.

The NETGEAR M4300-96X is the world's only 2U rack height modular switch starting at $100 per port that comes either empty or pre-populated and scales up to 96 ports of 10G Ethernet or up to 24 ports of 40G Ethernet, or a combination. With 12 open slots and two redundant power supplies, the M4300-96X supports maximum granularity between copper, PoE+ and fiber and unrivalled headroom for organizations buying infrastructure for the long term.

The In Win D-Frame Mini Makes a Comeback

In Win originally released their D-Frame Mini open-air chassis back in 2014. Despite it becoming one of the most popular cases among PC enthusiasts, the Taiwanese case manufacturer only produced a limited number of units at the time. If you missed out on purchasing the D-Frame Mini four years ago, now's your opportunity to make your dream come true. The rereleased D-Frame Mini is the exact same model that we reviewed back then except for two minor changes. The case was available in orange, red, and black colors. In Win has added three more colors to the mix: blue, green, and white. The brand also reduced the price significantly from $350 all the way down to $199. The D-Frame Mini is available at Amazon starting right now.

Gen-Z Consortium Announces the Public Release of its Core Specification 1.0

The Gen-Z Consortium, an organization developing an open standard interconnect designed to provide high-speed, low latency, memory-semantic access to data and devices, today shared the Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 is publicly available on its website. The Gen-Z Core Specification 1.0 enables silicon providers and IP developers to begin the development of products enabling Gen-Z technology solutions. Gen-Z's memory-centric standards-based approach focuses on providing an Open, reliable, flexible, secure, and high performance architecture for housing and analyzing the incredible amount of information at the edge coming into the data center.

"Our membership has grown significantly throughout 2017, now totaling more than fifty members, and we are proud of the hard work that has culminated with the release of our first Core Specification," said Gen-Z President, Kurtis Bowman. "We anticipate great things in 2018 as silicon developers begin implementing Gen-Z technology into their offerings and the ecosystem continues to grow."

Ozone Launches two New Giants Gaming Mousepads

Ozone Gaming announces the launch of two new Giants Gaming mousepads, esports club competing in the European League of Legends Championship series. This initiative has been developed with the collaboration of Giant's players, actively participating in the design and features of the mousepads. These mats come in two sizes: Giants Pro: 450 x 400 x 4 mm; and Giants Evo: 900 x 350 x 3 mm.

Gustavo Muñoz, Giants Gaming CEO: "The eSports industry is constantly evolving and we love being able to keep up with the technology of a partner as experienced as Ozone Gaming. These mats define the point at which the Giants Gaming team currently stands; in the forefront of gaming." This surface has been thermally treated to improve the sliding of any mouse, optical or laser, while its firm rubber base provide perfect stability for any game.

QNAP Launches the TS-253Be and TS-453Be NAS with M.2 SSD and 10GbE Expandability

QNAP Systems, Inc. today unveiled the quad-core Intel-based 2-bay TS-253Be and 4-bay TS-453Be. With a PCIe expansion slot, the functionality of both NAS can be expanded to meet application needs, including M.2 SSD caching and 10GbE connectivity. The TS-x53Be also features HDMI output and 4K H.264/H.265 transcoding to provide a greater multimedia experience while its snapshots function helps protect data against potential ransomware threats.

"With the PCIe slot, the TS-x53Be series allows for extending NAS functionalities, including adding SSD caching and 10GbE connectivity, which provides great long-term potential for the NAS," said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP. "For users who require a professional storage that can help streamline workflows and provide a great multimedia experience, the TS-x53Be series is the ideal choice with a reasonable price," Hsu added.

Newegg Repents for Overpricing AMD APUs by Partially Refunding Customers

California-based Chinese PC hardware retailer Newegg late Tuesday, issued partial refunds to customers who bought highly marked-up AMD Ryzen 2000-series APUs with Radeon Vega graphics. At launch, Newegg marked up the Ryzen 3 2200G and the Ryzen 5 2400G by as much as US $20 above their MSRPs of $99.99 and $169.99, respectively. The 2400G was listed at $189.99, a price that greatly erodes the chip's competitiveness in the market against similarly-priced Intel chips. Newegg has since "lowered" prices of the two chips back to their MSRPs, and is writing to those who bought the chips at marked-up prices, intimating them of refunds of the mark-up back to their original mode of payment.
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