Wednesday, March 21st 2018

Today's Reviews


Ubisoft Manages to Fight Off Vivendi's Hostile Takeover Attempt

Adding to today's Ubisoft-related news, a report via Polygon has placed the company as having finally bested Vivendi's hostile takeover attempt. if you'll recall, this is an on-again, off-again "love" affair from Vivendi towards Ubisoft, and was based on the fact that vivendi controlled the biggest stake in Ubisoft shares than any other shareholder, at 27.27%.

I say was, because Vivendi's share of Ubisoft is being divested by the former, following a deal that was signed between Vivendi and Ubisoft. The way this was done was as follows: Ubisoft itself is buying back as much as 8.1% of its shares from Vivendi from 2019 through 2021. Guillemot Brothers SE - which represents Ubisoft's founding Guillemot family - is buying an extra 2.7% of the company in a cash transaction with Vivendi. The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - an independent organization that administers pensions for about 318,000 teachers in Canada - is acquiring a 3.4% stake, and Tencent (the Shenzhen, China-based company that is the world's largest gaming company by revenue) is buying an additional 5% of the company.

CTS-Labs Posts Ryzen Windows Credential Guard Bypass Proof-of-concept Video

CTS-Labs, following up on Tuesday's "Masterkey" exploit proof-of-concept video, posted a guide to bypassing Windows Credential Guard on an AMD Ryzen-powered machine. We once again begin in a privileged shell session, of an AMD-powered machine whose Secure Processor that has been compromised using admin privileges, by exploiting it using any of the 13 vulnerabilities chronicled by CTS-Labs. Mimikatz, a tool that is used by hackers to steal network credentials, should normally not work on a machine with Windows Credential Guard enabled. Using a modified version of Mimikatz, the CTS-Labs researchers are able to bypass Windows Credential Guard (which relies on hardware-level security features present on the processor), leveraging the AMD Secure Processor malware microcode they wrote.
The proof-of-concept video follows.

Ubisoft Welcomes Spring with Special Sale

Ubisoft is holding a special Spring sale over at their Ubi Store. The French video game publisher is offering discounts up to 75% on some of their games, DLCs, and other merchandise including clothing and collectibles. Titles from the Assassin's Creed, Tom Clancy, Far Cry, Splinter Cell, and Watch Dog franchises carry some juicy discounts. Some might find the Assassin's Creed Origins deal quite tempting as the game is currently at half-price. The Ubisoft Spring Sale isn't exclusive to the PC crowd. Console owners can get in on the fun as well. The majority of the discounts should be valid worldwide, although some might be restricted to certain regions. Here are a few of our recommendations.

CD Projekt Red Opens Wroclaw Studio to Help Develop Cyberpunk 2077

Located in the city of Wrocław, south-western Poland, the new studio will join forces with CD PROJEKT RED Warsaw and Cracow, and bolster development of Cyberpunk 2077 - the upcoming futuristic AAA role-playing game.

"Wrocław is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced cities in Poland and a playing field for serious creative talent. I think the scope of our current and future projects, as well as the overall package we're bringing in, will pull in people who were hesitant to move to Warsaw or Cracow." - says Adam Kiciński, President and Joint CEO, CD PROJEKT Capital Group. "The founding dev team of CDPR Wrocław is already pretty stellar, but I still can't wait to see what talents we'll discover in new people along the way." - Kiciński adds.

Experience High-Fidelity Gaming Audio with Sennheiser's New GSP 500 Gaming Headphones

Gamers want to be completely immersed in their game, where everything fades into the background and the world of the game becomes reality. For those chasing this ultimate thrill, Sennheiser has created the new GSP 500. The newest addition to the audio specialist's acclaimed gaming range, the new open acoustic headset is so comfortable that you barely notice wearing it, while its incredibly realistic, natural sound places you at the heart of the action. With improved ergonomics, microphone performance and exceptional durability, the GSP 500 ensures a brilliantly enjoyable gaming experience.

The GSP 500 features a new, improved open speaker system designed and manufactured by Sennheiser that delivers a natural sound performance, balancing excellent clarity with an enhanced low frequency response that adds excitement to the gaming audio. Specially positioned speakers within the ear cups channel the sound directly into the ears to ensure the best possible spatial representation and awareness of the gaming environment.

QSAN Introduces Three New Members of the XCubeNAS XN5000 Series

Today, QSAN Technology Inc. launched three new members of the XCubeNAS XN5000 Series: The XCubeNAS XN5008T, XN5008R, and XN5012R. These powerful and highly capable rackmount and tower servers provide businesses with fast data processing speeds and the option to scale data storage capacity as their business grows.

"These three new additions to the XN5000 Series offer SMB's and small enterprises the perfect high-performance, secure data storage solution," said Peggy Weng, NAS Product Manager at QSAN. "They provide premium comprehensive data protection and business services such as WORM, SED support, and multiple virtualization and data backup applications," added Weng.

Seagate Unveils the 14TB Helium-Based Exos X14 Enterprise Hard Drive

Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), a world leader in data storage solutions, today unveiled its 14TB helium-based ExosTM X14 enterprise drive at the OCP U.S. Summit 2018 in San Jose, Calif. The Seagate Exos X14 delivers high performance and greater capacity for hyperscale data centers looking to efficiently and cost-effectively manage increasing amounts of data.

Enterprises across the globe face the daunting challenge of managing a massive increase in data volume as the world is expected to create 163 zettabytes of data in 2025, according to a study by analyst firm IDC and sponsored by Seagate. As the need for hyperscale and cloud storage rises to unprecedented levels, Seagate's Exos X14 hard drive is a direct response to customer demand for increased enterprise storage capacity and efficiency.

Crytek Reveals New CRYENGINE Royalty-Based User Model

Crytek has announced a new 5% royalty-based model for CRYENGINE, alongside a range of improvements, enhancements, new learning offerings, and full access to the editor source code. Developers around the world now have complete, uninhibited, and easy access to the power of CRYENGINE, and the opportunity to have their expertise with the engine recognized.

Creators who release games using CRYENGINE V will find development faster and easier than ever before and incur costs only after $5,000 is raised in revenue. An enterprise tier will also be introduced for custom support packages and royalty buyouts. Developers currently developing on CRYENGINE 5.0-5.4 can apply for a royalty exemption if they wish to stay on the current version and not take advantage of access to the editor source code. For more information, consult the CRYENGINE FAQ pages.

Fortigis Introduces Their Ultimate AI-Driven Security Router

Fortigis Inc., today announced the launch of Fortigis, a cloud-enabled privacy & security wireless Virtual Private Network (VPN) router that patrols and controls who connects to a user's Wi-Fi network. The Indiegogo campaign for Fortigis, which is being managed by the Launchpad Agency, has a funding goal of $50,000 USD, and features limited Super Early Bird Specials of $199 as well as several other rewards for backers.

Fortigis uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to provide users online privacy and anonymity by creating a secure and private network. The secure connection encrypts all of the user's incoming and outgoing web traffic so no one can trace their online activity, protecting them against identity theft, ad targeting and having their online transactions such as online shopping or banking hijacked.

Edifier Releases the S880DB Hi-Res Audio Certified Powered Speakers

Premium audio has never looked so suave than with Edifier's brand new speakers, the S880DBs. Crafted with a high tech interior and completed with a glossy white exterior and wood side panels, these speakers will bring both a beautiful ambience and stunning aesthetic to any room. Whether as a gift for a loved one, or a treat for yourself, a set of these speakers is sure to impress.

More Kick Than You'd Believe
Accredited with Edifier's first High-Res Audio certification, the S880DB speakers are designed for people who love audio. Equipped with a titanium-laminate tweeter unit, you can expect you beautifully detailed acoustic music to play through these speakers with incredible fidelity.

TRENDnet Introduces Compact USB-C HD Docking Station

TRENDnet, a global leader in reliable SMB and consumer networking and surveillance solutions, has announced it will introduce a Mini USB-C HD Docking Cube, model TUC-DS1. The compact USB-C docking station supports high-resolution HD video, and extends or mirrors your notebook's display.

TRENDnet's Mini USB-C HD Docking Cube allows you to connect multiple USB devices, and network your laptop all from a single cable. Easily manage multiple workstation devices such as USB storage, keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, and HD monitor. Free up desk space with this compact USB-C docking station to make more room for what's really important to you.

Futuremark Showcases DirectX Raytracing Demo, Teases Upcoming 3D Benchmark Test

DirectX Raytracing (DXR) is a new feature in DirectX 12 that opens the door to a new class of real-time graphics techniques for games. We were thrilled to join Microsoft onstage for the announcement, which we followed with a presentation of our own work in developing practical real-time applications for this exciting new tech.

Accurate real-time reflections with DirectX Raytracing
Rendering accurate reflections in real-time is difficult. There are many challenges and limitations when using the existing methods. For the past few months, we've been exploring ways of combining DirectX Raytracing with existing methods to solve some of these challenges. While much of our presentation went deep into the math for our solution, I would like to show you some examples of our new technique in action.

Thermaltake Unveils View 37 RGB Edition and View 37 Riing Edition

Thermaltake, a leading premium gaming tower manufacturer, announced the immediate availability of Thermaltake View 37 RGB Edition and View 37 Riing Edition Mid-Tower Chassis. Constructed with a gull-wing window panel for internal components show-off, the View 37 Series delivers a sleek look to complement its excellent cooling. View 37 RGB Edition is preinstalled with 3 built-in Riing Plus 140mm Hardware Control fans, a Riing Plus RGB controller and a PCI controller to deliver 256-color RGB illumination and unparalleled ventilation.

More custom RGB lighting possibilities are permitted thanks to its light synchronization with enthusiasts' favorite RGB motherboard brands: Asus AURA SYNC/ Gigabyte RGB Fusion/MSI Mystic Light Sync-enabled motherboards. As to View 37 Riing Edition, it features 2 built-in Riing 14 LED Blue fans to illuminate and dissipate heat more properly. The duet doesn't disappoint when it comes to cooling potential and flexibility, with its ability to accommodate up to 8 case fans, including up to two large 200 mm fans at the front.

Samsung Introduces High-Density 6Gbps SATA SSD and 16Gb-64GB DDR4 RDIMM

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it is rolling out its PM883, the highest density datacenter SATA drive, at eight terabytes (TB). Samsung's new solid state drive (SSD) offering is the industry's first datacenter SATA drive to incorporate LPDDR4 DRAM modules and features a 6.0-gigabits-per-second (Gbps) 2.5-inch SATA interface.

The high-performance PM883 is expected to accelerate a transition in many existing enterprise datacenters to SATA-formatted SSD designs, with improved economies of scale through the use of advanced-generation V-NAND technology at higher densities.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to enable a high level of storage density with low power consumption, which thanks to the efficiency of our 64-layer V-NAND-based technology, allows us to double the capacity of current SATA storage," said Jim Elliott, corporate senior vice president, memory sales and marketing, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. "Our expanded lineup for the PM883 will offer up to 8TB to allow optimal use in existing enterprise and cloud storage systems."
Tuesday, March 20th 2018

Today's Reviews

Gaming PC


ADATA recently boldly stepped into the crowded gaming headset market. Their first and currently top-of-the-line product is actually a bundle of three different devices - an analog gaming headset (EMIX H30), a 7.1-channel USB sound card (SOLOX F30), and a headset stand. We set out to find out whether it is worth the asking price of $200.

Initial AMD Technical Assessment of CTS Labs Research

On March 12, 2018, AMD received a communication from CTS Labs regarding research into security vulnerabilities involving some AMD products. Less than 24 hours later, the research firm went public with its findings. Security and protecting users' data is of the utmost importance to us at AMD and we have worked rapidly to assess this security research and develop mitigation plans where needed. This is our first public update on this research, and will cover both our technical assessment of the issues as well as planned mitigation actions.

The security issues identified by the third-party researchers are not related to the AMD "Zen" CPU architecture or the Google Project Zero exploits made public Jan. 3, 2018. Instead, these issues are associated with the firmware managing the embedded security control processor in some of our products (AMD Secure Processor) and the chipset used in some socket AM4 and socket TR4 desktop platforms supporting AMD processors.

Intel's 8-core Mainstream Coffee Lake-S Processor Spotted in the Wild?

A screenshot of what seems to be a higher core-count CPU from Intel has been doing the rounds, brought to us by the usual suspects. This supposedly marks the first appearance of Intel's new Coffee Lake-S processors, which should feature increased core-counts - gearing them towards stealing some of AMD's initiative. If you'll remember, the red team regained it in explosive fashion with their first generation Ryzen CPUs - and AMD is looking to double down on with the launch of their updated, 12 nm refresh Ryzen 2000 series just next month.

The new CPUs should be delivered alongside a new platform, Z390 - at the moment, a mirage that's been referenced here and there, but still has no concrete evidence towards its existence. However, it's expected that Z390 as a platform will be what Intel's Z370 was supposed to be from the very beginning - but never could. The idea that's been circulating, and which has some credit (though it should still be taken with a salty disposition), is that due to Intel's need to rush Coffee Lake out the door - so as not to compete against AMD's 8-core Zen-based CPUs with their usual cadre of 4-core, 8-thread processors - led the company to rush out the Z370 release. The idea for Z370 was simply for it to deliver, at all points in the minimum requirements, the correct power delivery hardware and mechanisms for the increased power draw that comes with the added cores. But it was, as such, absent of any real improvements - it can be interpreted, basically, as a re-branded Z270 chipset platform - and there's something to that claim, definitely. Thus Z390 will be the actual, originally planned platform for Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs, with all features - however fair that is for buyers of Intel's Z370.

Rare's Sea of Thieves Now Launched For Xbox, Windows 10

Rare's latest (and first in a long time) original, full fledged video game has just been made available. Done under the umbrella of Microsoft, Sea of Thieves promises to bring back the fun in games, with a ludicrous setting and an entire design philosophy that just speaks "fun". The first-person, multiplayer co-op and player vs. player game has both sea and land fights, treasure and player hunting, so there's enough there to sate the tastes of different players altogether.

Sea of Thieves is part of Microsoft's Game Pass subscription, which means that for $9.99 monthly, users have the chance of trying out the game and playing it, no holds barred, with no additional payment (you can always purchase it for the usual asking price of $59.99/£49.99/€69.99 - and don't you just love the price differences across currencies?) This "Games as a Service" is being hailed as one of the solutions for triple-A game development, bringing companies like Microsoft steady streams of revenue they can then re-inject into their in-house game studios. Furthermore, Sea of Thieves is part of Microsoft's Play Anywhere program - meaning a digital purchase on either Xbox or PC will grant you the ability to play it on both platforms. So go out there and walk the plan, drink rum, shoot some cannons, and drink some gallons of salt water, you old sea dog!

Marvell Introduces New NVMe Switch and SSD Controllers

Marvell, a leader in storage, networking and connectivity semiconductor solutions, today announced that it is launching innovative NVM Express (NVMe)-based chipset solutions that will accelerate the time to market for application-optimized data center SSD implementations. These new, highly-versatile building blocks can optimally address current and emerging workload storage requirements, spanning capacity, latency, performance, power and cost, to enable tailored SSD solutions for specific cloud and enterprise workloads.

The proliferation of cloud services and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, is driving various workloads in the data center. These evolving and expanding workloads can have differing storage requirements that emerging SSD form factors are targeted to address. Marvell has developed innovative NVMe chipsets capable of powering the larger Enterprise Data Storage Form Factors (EDSFF), Next Generation Small Form Factors (NGSFF) and various customized form factors, providing the ability to increase storage capacity, performance and overall workload efficiencies.

Xilinx Unveils Their Revolutionary Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform

Xilinx, Inc., the leader in adaptive and intelligent computing, today announced a new breakthrough product category called adaptive compute acceleration platform (ACAP) that goes far beyond the capabilities of an FPGA. An ACAP is a highly integrated multi-core heterogeneous compute platform that can be changed at the hardware level to adapt to the needs of a wide range of applications and workloads. An ACAP's adaptability, which can be done dynamically during operation, delivers levels of performance and performance per-watt that is unmatched by CPUs or GPUs.

An ACAP is ideally suited to accelerate a broad set of applications in the emerging era of big data and artificial intelligence. These include: video transcoding, database, data compression, search, AI inference, genomics, machine vision, computational storage and network acceleration. Software and hardware developers will be able to design ACAP-based products for end point, edge and cloud applications. The first ACAP product family, codenamed "Everest," will be developed in TSMC 7nm process technology and will tape out later this year.

CTL Announces Three New Chromebooks

CTL, an Oregon-based company specializing in comprehensive personalized learning solutions, announced the release of three new models in a refresh of their best-selling NL-series Chromebooks all designed for use in K12 education. The CTL Chromebook NL7, the CTL Chromebook NL7T-360, and the CTL Chromebook NL7TW-360 each provide a variety of benefits to schools looking to invest in Chromebook Deployments.

All three education NL-series Chromebook models by CTL feature a rugged design including an IP41 drop rating, water resistant keyboards, and reinforced ports, hinges, and power plug. The NL series, which is CTL's premium line of Education Chromebook, also includes a tuck away handle for easy carrying, especially useful for carrying from class to class. This series also includes 32GB of storage and a DC-in USB-C Cable.

Jabra Launches the Elite 65e Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

Audio and communications technology specialist Jabra announced today that it has expanded its Elite franchise, a family of headphones and earbuds engineered for superior sound to provide the best combined voice and music experience, with the Jabra Elite 65e. These neckband wireless earbuds are engineered for best-in-class wireless calls and music. They feature Jabra's leading Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) solution, providing two levels of noise cancellation and challenging existing products in the market.

Standing on a noisy train platform? Walking through a busy downtown street? Cancel out disruptive background sound with Jabra's unrivaled total noise cancellation solution - with optimized engineering for both active and passive noise cancellation. The Jabra Elite 65e also offers incredible conversation quality with three-microphone technology (two outer microphones used for optimizing transmitted audio and one microphone in the mic box) that creates a noise-blocking zone, ensuring your voice is conveyed with crystal-clear clarity.

Lite-On to Unveil Powerful New NVRAM Hybrid Solid-State Drive at OCP 2018

LITE-ON Storage, an established leader in the rapidly expanding solid-state drive (SSD) industry, said today it will demonstrate its latest enterprise drives, the NVRAM Hybrid SSD, during the OCP U.S. Summit 2018, kicking off here today.

The new LITE-ON NVRAM Hybrid drive, slated for release this spring, is a compact high-density drive with multi-namespaces. One of the namespaces can be dedicated to NVRAM drive and the other namespace to boot drive, fully utilizing the NAND portion of the drive. This drive has a dual-use feature such that it can serve as boot drive for server with the SSD namespace and as cache with the NVRAM part of the drive, resulting in reduced overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with a better utilization rate.

"Customers tell us they need the most technologically advanced SSDs in their enterprises, but those storage solutions must also make financial sense," said Darlo Perez, Managing Director, LITE-ON Storage Group. "Our new NVRAM Hybrid SSD is capable of meeting today's demanding and time-sensitive data center requirements while maximizing TCO."

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 391.24 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA today released GeForce 391.24 WHQL software. The drivers add more optimization for "Sea of Thieves," and two new NVIDIA Freestyle post-fx filters - "Old Film" and "Tilt-Shift." The drivers address issues related to VR headsets from both HTC and Oculus, in which the headset would stop working after several application launches or resumption of system from hibernation. A bug that prevented Freestyle from being enabled on games that support it, is fixed. MPC-HC no longer stutters in the first couple of seconds of the video playback. A driver TDR error with Mozilla Firefox was fixed. A rare bug that caused stuttering on "Rise of Tomb Raider" when opening the in-game menu on GTX 1060, was fixed. Grab the drivers from the link below.

The change-log follows.

Raijintek Intros the ZOFOS EVO Chassis

Raijintek's latest release the ZOFOS EVO is a case which has been designed to be practical; featuring the latest sound insulation, magnetic covers and the option for either a fully enclosed or windowed case. This full tower case supports up to EE-ATX motherboards, 470mm GPUs and up to three 360mm radiators for a comprehensive gaming system.

QNAP Rolls Out TS-x73 Series NAS with Quad-core AMD R-Series CPUs

QNAP Systems, Inc. today launched the cost-effective high-performance 4-bay (TS-473), 6-bay (TS-673), and 8-bay (TS-873) TS-x73 series NAS featuring an AMD RX-421ND quad-core CPU with Turbo Core up to 3.4GHz and two PCIe slots for installing a QNAP QM2 card, wireless network card or a graphics card to extend NAS functionalities. The TS-x73 series provides small and medium businesses with an ideal NAS solution to build a private cloud for applications including high-speed data transfer, backup/recovery, virtualization, media playback and graphics display.

The TS-x73 NAS series presents a budget-friendly solution by allowing users to add more value to their NAS based on their individual needs. Through the two PCIe slots, users can install a QNAP QM2 card to add SSD caching/10GbE connectivity for boosted performance; a wireless card with WirelessAP Station app to turn the NAS into a wireless access point; or even an PCIe bus-powered graphics card to enable 4K transcoding and HDMI output for a greater media multimedia experience," said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP.

TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! Win to Build Giveaway: The Winners

TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! brought you a chance to pick up either a Dark Base 700 case, or Straight Power 11 750W PSU, or both. Our Giveaway has ended, and we've picked three lucky winners from hundreds of entries. Dark Base 700 is among the quietest mid-towers in the market, and our review has shown that its acoustic dampening can significantly quieten the many noisy components your high-end build may have. The Straight Power 11 750W is its perfect match, with a design focus on low noise, without compromising on safe and clean power for your build. Without further ado, the winners:
  • Srdjan from Madison, USA - wins both a Be Quiet! Dark Base 700 case and a Straight Power 11 750W PSU
  • Mylous from Las Vegas, USA - wins a Be Quiet! Dark Base 700 case
  • Christopher from Highland, USA - wins a Be Quiet! Straight Power 11 750W PSU
A huge congrats to you three! TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! will return with more such interesting giveaways.

CTS-Labs Releases Masterkey Exploit Proof-of-Concept Video

CTS-Labs, the cyber security research firm that claims to have unearthed severe security vulnerabilities with AMD "Zen" CPU architecture, posted its first proof-of-concept demo video. This video deals with the "Masterkey" class of exploits, specifically Masterkey-1. The Masterkey class makes for 3 of the 13 vulnerabilities the firm discovered. As a quick refresher, Masterkey is an exploit of the Secure Boot feature, specifically getting around the feature's system integrity check on AMD "Zen" powered systems, by using a specially programmed system BIOS. Any privileged program (even from within Windows), can flash your system BIOS, and get around Secure Boot in the following system reboot (or even brick your system by writing a non-bootable BIOS image). The BIOS can then tinker with the ring -3 (minus 3) software running on Secure Processor, and survive reboots or OS re-installs. It would also be undetectable by traditional antivirus programs that can't have ring -3 access while running on top of an operating system.

In the video, we're shown a somewhat step-by-step process of infecting a TYAN-made server motherboard with a modified BIOS that has the Masterkey exploit. The demo BIOS by CTS, which has ARM Cortex A5-compatible code for the Secure Processor, makes it flicker its status code between "1337" and "7331" during POST, and go on to boot the OS as if nothing happened. It can be made to do anything once you've reached that far. CTS-Labs claims that it has a more elaborate shell code for Secure Processor that probably does more insidious things, but it won't be showing that to the public in this video. The objective of this demo appears to be to establish a proof-of-concept.
The video follows.

TerraMaster Releases First 5-Bay D5 Thunderbolt 3 RAID Storage Device

Recently, TerraMaster officially released the latest generation of its thunderbolt product, the D5 Thunderbolt 3. This product adopts the latest Thunderbolt 3 technology, with a transmission rate of up to 40 Gbps. It supports the hardware RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and other data backup technologies, which greatly improves file transfer efficiency and data security. Moreover, it is a medium specifically designed for photographers, video editors, and other media workers, to provide them with a large capacity, ultra-fast 5-bay RAID storage device.

In appearance, the D5 Thunderbolt 3 inherits the style of the previous TerraMaster storage series products by using a rugged, aluminium-alloy integrated housing. This is paired with a high-efficiency heat-control system, built in with intelligent temperature-controlled fans. With the Thunderbolt 3 dual interface and DisplayPort interface, you can connect 5 Thunderbolt 3 devices or display devices simultaneously. DisplayPort users can also connect it to the external 4K @ 60Hz high-resolution screens.
Monday, March 19th 2018

Today's Reviews

Graphics Cards
Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530

Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530

The Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530 has amazing tracking performance because it uses the best-in-class PixArt PMW3360 sensor. With a price of $50, it is also more affordable than most competitors, even including fantastic software with great RGB customization options.
BitFenix Enso

BitFenix Enso

The BitFenix Enso is the classic wolf in sheep's clothing. It may look like an ordinary 70-80 USD chassis out there when turned off, but as soon as the addressable RGB lights turn on, it becomes apparent how much more the Enso offers while keeping the price enticingly low.

AMD Trims Prices of Current-gen Ryzen Processors

AMD on Monday, announced price-cuts across a bulk of its Ryzen 3-series, Ryzen 5-series, Ryzen 7-series, and Ryzen Threadripper processor models, based on first-generation "Zen" architecture, probably in preparation of its possible-April 19 launch of its 2nd generation Ryzen "Pinnacle Ridge" processors. The decision to trim prices of Threadripper SKUs indicates that AMD is either stepping up the heat on Intel's Core X family, or that one can expect a brisk roll-out of 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" silicon-based 2nd Generation Threadripper SKUs, even if not on April 19. The latest roadmaps put 2nd Gen Threadripper launch to the second half of 2018.

Intel "Hades Canyon" NUC Motherboard Pictured

Intel launched its "Hades Canyon" NUC way back in January 2018, but in the run up to its availability slated for Spring (very soon); the company shared a picture of its motherboard. The non-rectangular board is curved to the shape of the chassis, and is designed to utilize every square cm of precious PCB real-estate. The board has components soldered on both sides. The top side has the various slots (memory and M.2), ports, and headers; while the bottom side has the main Core i7-8709G MCM, the chipset, and some VRM components powering the two. Intel made sure some of the rear I/O ports utilize cutouts in the PCB, so they don't add a precious few millimeters. The NUC's main cooling system, inspired by gaming notebooks, takes up most of the bottom side of the chassis, making contact with the MCM, the PCH, and VRM.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.3 Beta Drivers

AMD today released the latest version Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition. Version 18.3.3 beta is the third release for this month, and features a major API update, in addition to game optimization. The drivers introduce support for the Vulkan 1.1 API. In addition, the drivers provide optimization for "Sea of Thieves," and "A Way Out." An intermittent stuttering issue was fixed with "Forza Motorsport 7." A system hang seen on "Star Wars Battlefront 2," on multi-GPU systems, was fixed. Also fixed are flickering and objects disappearing from the scene, with "Final Fantasy XV."
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.3 Beta

The change-log follows.

Twitter Reportedly Looking Into Banning Cryptocurrency-Related Ads as Well

After Google has actually announced a change to their financial services-related ad policies that will ban all cryptocurrency-related ads that run through its advertising platform, reports now place Twitter as the next major service to follow suit. According to Sky News, the banning will affect the majority of ads relating to cryptocurrency products, services, and advice, cutting it diagonally and indiscriminately if services are actually legit or fakes. The publication says the decision comes "amid looming regulatory intervention in the sector."

Sky's sources say this ban will enter into effect within the next two weeks. If so, this is now the third major servie (after Facebook and Google) to ban all crypto-related content form its advertisements. That regulatory intervention is looming on the sector is putting it mildly; and it's high time that happened. The cryptocurrency market really is "being chilled", to quote Mike Lempres, chief legal and risk officer at Coinbase. And it's coming from all sides: regulatory bodies, general services, John Oliver shows, mainstream media, and even investors' own risk-assessment. It was bound to happen - the frenzy was getting quite old, really - and is an expected development. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a renewal of sorts for the cryptocurrency and blockchain world.

Cyan to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Myst Series With Updated Versions

The Myst series of videogames - or should that read "experiences?" - is likely one of the more recognizable names in the gaming industry. All of the Myst games were renowned for bringing players' imaginations inside virtual worlds through ambience, pacing, and interesting storylines steeped in mystery.

Now, Cyan, the original Myst games developer, has said that they intend to do something special as the Myst series completes its 25th anniversary. The idea is that players should be able to experience the same mystery and awe as when the games were first launched - though that may prove increasingly hard as the games' graphical engines age more and more. Expectations just aren't what they used to be. The plan is to releases updated versions for all Myst games this year - and look to round up the package with a limited, collector's physical edition that wraps the entire package. That is all of Myst for this year - but maybe there will be some new adventures post-2018.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X & Ryzen 5 2600 Review Popped Up Ahead of Time

Not sure whether intentional or an error, SiSoftware posted a review of the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600 processors on their website. The creators of the popular Sandra benchmark suite has taken down the review for the meantime. Luckily, our good old buddies at VideoCardz have ninja reflexes and downloaded the graphs before SiSoftware removed them. In their review, SiSoftware pitched the upcoming Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600 processors against AMD's previous Ryzen 7 1700X processor and Intel's Core i7-6700K Skylake processor.

The SiSoftware team evaluated CPU performance using a plethora of synthetic benchmarks. Unfortunately, they didn't evaluate gaming performance. Nevertheless, their review gave us a taste of what we can expect from the Ryzen 2000 series. The Ryzen 2000 series (or Zen+) officially supports DDR4 frequencies up to 2933 MHz which should help improve its performance. Similar to its predecessor, Zen+ processors possess the most cores and threads. Therefore, performance improvements depend hugely on IPC and clock speeds. While we're on the subject of clock speeds, Ryzen 2000 series' base clock is 9% higher while the Turbo/Boost/XFR frequency is 11% higher when compared to previous Ryzen chips. In terms of CPU performance, we can expect at least a 10% improvement in CPU-heavy benchmarks. All of this comes at a cost though. The TDP for Zen+ (105W) is 11% higher than the first-generation Ryzen processors (95W). Beefy cooling solutions are highly recommended especially if you plan to overclock these CPUs. Although Zen+ based processors' L1, L2, and L3 caches suffered no changes, latencies should show some improvement. AMD may launch the Ryzen 2000 series on April 19, so we won't have to wait long to get our hands on the new processors.

Microsoft Releases DirectX Raytracing - NVIDIA Volta-based RTX Adds Real-Time Capability

Microsoft today announced an extension to its DirectX 12 API with DirectX Raytracing, which provides components designed to make real-time ray-tracing easier to implement, and uses Compute Shaders under the hood, for wide graphics card compatibility. NVIDIA feels that their "Volta" graphics architecture, has enough computational power on tap, to make real-time ray-tracing available to the masses. The company has hence collaborated with Microsoft to develop the NVIDIA RTX technology, as an interoperative part of the DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, along with a few turnkey effects, which will be made available through the company's next-generation GameWorks SDK program, under GameWorks Ray Tracing, as a ray-tracing denoiser module for the API.

Real-time ray-tracing has for long been regarded as a silver-bullet to get lifelike lighting, reflections, and shadows right. Ray-tracing is already big in the real-estate industry, for showcasing photorealistic interactive renderings of property under development, but has stayed away from gaming, that tends to be more intense, with larger scenes, more objects, and rapid camera movements. Movies with big production budgets use pre-rendered ray-tracing farms to render each frame. Movies have, hence, used ray-traced visual-effects for years now, since it's not interactive content, and its studios are willing to spend vast amounts of time and money to painstakingly render each frame using hundreds of rays per pixel.

Nimbus Data Launches Their 100TB ExaDrive DC100 SSD

Nimbus Data, a pioneer in flash memory solutions, today announced the ExaDrive DC100, the largest capacity (100 terabytes) solid state drive (SSD) ever produced. Featuring more than 3x the capacity of the closest competitor, the ExaDrive DC100 also draws 85% less power per terabyte (TB). These innovations reduce total cost of ownership per terabyte by 42% compared to competing enterprise SSDs, helping accelerate flash memory adoption in both cloud infrastructure and edge computing.

"As flash memory prices decline, capacity, energy efficiency, and density will become the critical drivers of cost reduction and competitive advantage," stated Thomas Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data. "The ExaDrive DC100 meets these challenges for both data center and edge applications, offering unmatched capacity in an ultra-low power design."

HTC Vive Announces Price of Vive Pro HMD at $799 and Reduces Vive Price to $499

HTC Vive today announced that the HTC Vive Pro Head Mounted Display (HMD) will be available for $799 with global pre-orders starting now. The company also announced a $100 price reduction for the current Vive full kit, bringing it down to $499 across the globe. All Vive Pro HMDs purchased by June 3rd, which will begin shipping on April 5th, will come with a free six-month trial to Viveport Subscription, where consumers can choose up to 5 titles per month from the more than 400 titles available.

"With the Vive Pro we are delivering the best quality display and visual experience to the most discerning VR enthusiasts. Our goal has always been to offer the most premium VR platform available and to drive adoption for VR," said Daniel O'Brien, HTC Vive General Manager, US. "By lowering the price of the current Vive, we are making VR more accessible while expanding the potential market for developers. Whether you're a VR enthusiast or new to the platform, there's never been a better time to join the most complete VR platform available."

Razer Announces Partnership with Team Queso

Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, and Spanish Team Queso, the first mobile-only esports team, today announced a new strategic partnership. The two-year deal will see Team Queso using the Razer Phone in their competitive games, as well as other Razer peripherals and equipment. The Razer Phone, the world's first smartphone designed for gaming, is the perfect handset for high-level mobile esports. The 120hz display, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM give players the smoothest, lag-free gaming experience, essential for competitive mobile esports.

Team Queso competes in multiple different disciplines, including Clash Royale, Vainglory, Arena of Valor and Hearthstone, and number among their ranks some of the best national, continental and global players. Founded in 2017, with high profile teams and players from around the world, Team Queso are the current ESWC Paris Clan Wars champions, as well as strong favorites for the Vainglory8 League and a team to watch with Arena of Valor.

ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Motherboard Packaging Teased

Leaks surrounding motherboards based on AMD's upcoming X470 chipset, which will accompany its first-wave of Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" processors, are on the rise. We now see a fairly clear picture of the retail packaging of ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Crosshair VII Hero, specifically its "WiFi" sub-variant that includes a WLAN card. This board surfaced on benchmark database listings. There's no product image on the box, but the logos make things pretty cut and dry - AMD X470 chipset, socket AM4, support for NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire; ASUS Aura Sync RGB LED management, and an unchanged Ryzen logo. We have confirmation of ASUS readying at least two ROG motherboards based on the X470 so far - the Crosshair VII Hero, and the Strix X470-F. It remains to be seen if the chipset also gets the company's coveted ROG "Extreme" treatment.

Intel Board Elects New Director and Extends Andy Bryant's Term as Chairman till 2019

Intel Corporation today announced that Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was elected to Intel's board of directors. Her election marks the fifth new independent director added to Intel's board since the beginning of 2016. The board also voted unanimously to extend Andy Bryant's term as Intel chairman in order to ensure board continuity and a smooth integration for new directors. Bryant became Intel chairman in May 2012 and will stand for re-election at the company's 2018 annual stockholders' meeting. If elected, he will continue to serve as chairman until the conclusion of the company's 2019 annual stockholders' meeting.

"Risa knows how to lead a large organization tackling complex issues, and brings extensive public-company board experience. I look forward to her fresh insights and perspective," said Intel Chairman Andy Bryant. "We've worked to make sure the board has the right skills and backgrounds to be strong stewards in our dynamic industry. I'm honored to continue serving alongside them, as Intel transforms to create more value for our customers and our owners."
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