Monday, January 20th 2020

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
CPU Coolers
Graphics Cards
Monitors
Processors
SSD

ASUS Gives Radeon RX 5600 XT the ROG Strix and TUF Gaming Treatment

ASUS is keeping its Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card lineup trim, with just two SKUs, both of which are factory-overclocked. The lineup is led by the ROG Strix Radeon RX 5600 XT O6G, while its affordable sibling is the TUF Gaming X3 Radeon RX 5600 XT EVO. ASUS hasn't finalized the clock-speeds for either, as it's rumored that AMD is working with its partners to increase them across the board, to make the RX 5600 XT competitive against the GeForce RTX 2060. Both ASUS RX 5600 XT graphics cards are largely based on its RX 5700-series board designs as the RX 5600 XT is carved from the same 7 nm "Navi 10" ASIC.

The ROG Strix RX 5600 XT O6G features the company's premium triple-slot DirectCU III cooling solution with three Axial-Tech fans, idle fan-stop, plenty of RGB bling on the cooler shroud and metal back-plate, and a high-grade VRM solution that pulls power from a combination of 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connectors. The TUF Gaming X3 RX 5600 XT EVO, on the other hand, also features a triple-slot design, the TUF X3 cooling solution with three Axial-Tech fans (the one in the middle is smaller than the others); idle fan-stop, and a metal back-plate. This card pulls power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, unlike the ROG Strix.

ASUS Announces PN62 Mini-PC with 10th Gen "Comet Lake" Processors

ASUS announced ASUS Mini PC PN62, an ultra-compact computer that delivers powerful performance for a wide variety of home and business applications. Featuring the latest 10th Generation Intel Core processors and support for high-speed 2666 MHz DDR4 memory, Mini PC PN62 is ready to take on demanding workloads, yet its diminutive size takes up minimal space on a desk and makes it suited for applications where traditional PCs won't fit, such as digital-signage applications or in a home theater.

WiFi 6 (802.11ax) networking ensures stable, high-speed data transfers, even in crowded networking environments, and a USB-C port with Power Delivery (PD) supports data transfer, power and DisplayPort functionality over a single cable. Mini PC PN62 also features an infrared (IR) sensor and supports Microsoft Cortana via dual-array front microphones for convenient voice control of applications.

Intel "Panther Canyon" NUC Implements "Tiger Lake" SoC with Xe Graphics

Intel NUC 11 Extreme is the spiritual successor to the "Hades Canyon" and "Skull Canyon" NUC, and implements the company's next-generation 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" processor. Codenamed "Panther Canyon," the NUC 11 Extreme represents a line of ultra-compact desktops with serious computing power, bringing together the company's highest-performance CPU cores and iGPUs. The "Tiger Lake-U" SoC powering the NUC 11 Extreme will reportedly be configured with a 28-Watt TDP, and will come in Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 variants.

The "Tiger Lake-U" processor is expected to combine next-generation "Willow Cove" CPU cores with an iGPU based on Intel's new Xe graphics architecture, in what could be the first commercial outing for both. The NUC 11 Extreme "Panther Canyon" will also support up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory over SO-DIMMs, an M.2-2280 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, and option for Intel Optane M10 cache memory. On the connectivity front, and Intel AX-201 WLAN card provides 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5. A 2.5 GbE wired interface will also be available. These will also be among the first NUCs to feature front- and rear-Thunderbolt ports (possibly next-gen 80 Gbps given that the platform implements PCIe gen 4.0). The NUC 11 Extreme "Panther Canyon" is expected to launch some time in the second half of 2020.
Friday, January 17th 2020

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
CPU Coolers
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Mouse
Notebooks
Processors
Dream Machines DM4 Evo

Dream Machines DM4 Evo

Dream Machines is back with another right-handed ergonomic mouse. Equipped with a PMW3389 sensor, Huano switches for most buttons, Dream Machines' highly flexible "shoelace" cable, and an impressive set of RGB lighting, the DM4 Evo should be worth a look not just for those on a budget.
Bitspower Premium Summit M CPU Block

Bitspower Premium Summit M CPU Block

Bitspower introduces their new Premium lineup of products beginning with the all-new Premium Summit M CPU water block. Available in two finishes and a full copper construction for the top and cold plate, the block includes integrated digital RGB lighting compatible with most motherboards and aims to balance looks and performance alike!

Touring the Bitspower Suite at CES 2020

Visiting Bitspower at CES or Computex is a real adventure of sorts in terms of not knowing what to expect. Last year, for example, we were greeted to LN2 pots of all things, in addition to new blocks and fans that made their way to the retail market over the subsequent months. It was also interesting to take a look back at the concept of the Premium Summit M CPU block from last year, knowing what it turned out now. This year, the company hosted us again at CES and had a large hotel suite full of products- refreshes, and new alike. We take a look at their offerings here, and be sure to read past the break for more.

The very first thing we saw was a distribution plate/case hybrid, which Bitspower wants to bring out as a test bench case later this year. There have been other such executions come out recently, including some at CES from other companies, and this is a natural extension of the distro plate development that has caught the mind of several custom watercooling companies for one reason or another. This particular version uses two Xylem DDC pumps with Bitspower heatsinks, and has four large feet to prop up the finished build horizontally for testing/display. Bitspower expects to introduce the finalized version at Computex later this year, and are seeking feedback from our readers on what features they would like to see here.

AMD Allegedly Bolstering Radeon RX 5600 XT in Response to RTX 2060 Price Cut

AMD has allegedly changed the specifications of its Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card through a BIOS update being pushed to manufacturers, according to an HKEPC report. According to the report, AMD has increased clock-speeds of the RX 5600 XT to 1615 MHz gaming and 1750 MHz boost, versus 1375 MHz gaming and 1560 MHz on AMD's CES press-event slides detailing the card. Confirmation of this comes from the product page of Sapphire's RX 5600 XT Pulse graphics card, which doesn't bear any "OC" marking in either the product name or box art, but yet has an updated specs tab, referencing the new clock speed.

Increased GPU (engine) clocks isn't all, Sapphire also increased memory clock speeds from 12 Gbps to 14 Gbps (a 15% increase in memory bandwidth). Also, the typical board power ("power consumption") value has gone up from 150 W to 160 W, indicating a possible power-limit increase. These last-minute changes could probably significantly change the performance numbers of the RX 5600 XT in a bid to make it more competitive to the GeForce RTX 2060. Earlier today, it was reported that NVIDIA formally cut prices of the RTX 2060 down to $299, which would put it within $20 of the RX 5600 XT with its launch price of $279.

Humble Bundle Offers "Fire Relief Bundle" to Aid Australia

Humble Bundle, a company that combines a lot of games into a bundle, and then sells them at a much lower price than their combines value is, is now creating a Fire Relief Bundle. The Fire Relief Bundle is a game bundle that has a goal of supporting charity, specifically, it aims to aid the country of Australia, whose lands have been devastated by fires lately. For one time purchase of 25 or more, depending on if you want to donate more, Humble Bundle will donate 100% of the funds to Australia and help them recover from the terrible fires. In return, you will get 27 game titles that are worth $400+ combined. Among some of the titles are games like Feather, Satelite Reign, Hollow Knight, Armello, and Euro Truck Simulator 2 with the Australian Paint Jobs pack. You can check out the complete bundle here.

NVIDIA Posts GeForce 442.01 Hotfix Drivers

NVIDIA late Thursday released the GeForce 442.01 Hotfix driver. A hotfix driver is that which is pushed out to correct glaring bugs with the driver immediately, and tend to have much shorter change-logs than beta or WHQL releases. The driver fixes a bug with "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" streaming using StreamLabs OBS randomly stopping. Also fixed is a bug with "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine," where a game-crash is observed in a specific cutscene. Lastly a minor stutter in SLI machines with G-Sync enabled has been fixed. The driver is otherwise identical to GeForce 441.87.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 442.01 Hotfix

NVIDIA Formally Cuts Prices of GeForce RTX 2060 to $299

When EVGA brought the $299 GeForce RTX 2060 KO graphics card to CES, we knew they couldn't pull it off without NVIDIA's blessings. With AMD claiming that its upcoming $279 Radeon RX 5600 XT outclasses the entire GeForce GTX 1660-series, including the GTX 1660 Super and range-topping GTX 1660 Ti, NVIDIA had to do something, and that something is a formal price-cut on its GeForce RTX 2060 down to USD $299.

When it launched a year ago in January 2019, the GeForce RTX 2060 commanded a $349 price-point, which was largely unfazed by AMD's introduction of the Radeon RX 5700 at the same price. The RX 5700 is faster than the RTX 2060, but NVIDIA probably counted on ray-tracing to sell the card. The new RX 5600 XT changes the landscape dramatically, if AMD's performance claims hold true. The entire GTX 16-series is outclassed at a sub-$300 price matching that of the top GTX 1660 Ti part, and there's no ray-tracing hardware to bail them out, either. NVIDIA could cut prices, but those would pancake the already cluttered product-stack. The only other option (which NVIDIA took), was to cut prices of the RTX 2060. It remains to be seen what AMD's next move is. With the RX 5700-series, it pulled off a last-minute price-cut ahead of launch.

Cooler Master Redesigns its TIM Packaging so Parents Don't Think Their Kids are Doing Drugs

Applying thermal interface material (TIM) properly is a simple task that is under-documented or sometimes even misrepresented by the press. A bad application harms, rather than help your thermals. Their application varies from either the "pea drop" method, where you squeeze the TIM syringe or sachet to put out a tiny pea size blob onto your chip, letting the pressure from the heatsink spread the TIM out; or using an included spatula or plastic card to spread the TIM out to a very thin film. Of course when minors have plastic cards and syringes lying around in their rooms, parents sometimes get the wrong idea.

Cooler Master, in a tweet confirmed that it redesigned its TIM packaging to address exactly this: that TIMs supplied in syringes that look and function identical to medical syringes, make parents think their kids are doing drugs. "We didn't change the shape of the syringe to make applying thermal paste a lot easier, but because we we're getting tired of having to explain parents that their kid isn't using drugs," reads the Cooler Master statement. The new packaging by Cooler Master looks closer to a highlighter or Play Doh tube than it does a medical syringe. It still uses a syringe-like manual piston to dispense TIM, but the nozzle is wide and flattened to put out a layer of TIM directly on your chip. It's no longer round, and you can no longer attach injection needles. This nozzle also takes away the need for plastic cards or spatulas. The design, however, has a downside: the "pea drop" application is impossible, and a somewhat sub-optimal method is being forced upon users. Did Cooler Master just give in to pressure from an uninformed section of the market? Could a printed disclaimer on a conventional round syringe have helped instead? Tell us in the comments below.

Sharkoon Announces Four New Gaming Products

Sharkoon Technologies is an international supplier of PC components and peripherals, offering performance at a reasonable price. For the start of the New Year, Sharkoon now introduces four new accessories for gamers. These products are: Sharkoon Backpack, SKILLER SGP2 XXL mouse mat, X-Rest ALU headset stand and the ELITE SHARK WR200 wrist rest.

The Sharkoon Backpack is made of high-quality 600D polyester, which is characterized by a high degree of scuff and abrasion resistance. Apart from being robust, the material is water-repellent and easy to clean. And with a volume of 16 liters as well as a variety of compartments and pockets, the backpack offers enough space for notebooks, valuables or simply everything needed for short trips. For mobile devices such as notebooks or tablets, padded compartments are available. These have a Velcro strap to keep the devices securely inside. A hidden pocket on the back panel protects documents and other things from unwanted hands. The pocket on the shoulder strap and the compartment on the top of the backpack both enable easier handling and quicker access to cash or EC cards. There is also a special space for a power bank in the backpack. This can be connected via an integrated extension cable which has a type A USB plug. Thus, smartphones or other compatible devices can be conveniently charged via the USB port on the outside. The Sharkoon Backpack is available at a recommended retail price of 34.99 euros.
Thursday, January 16th 2020
Team Group Delta Max RGB SSD 1 TB

Team Group Delta Max RGB SSD 1 TB

The Team Group Delta Max RGB SSD offers truly impressive RGB illumination that can be synced with your motherboard's lighting effects. Each of the LEDs can be controlled separately, both in color and brightness. Performance is also very decent due to the combination of the SMI controller with some Samsung TLC flash.

AMD Strengthens Senior Leadership Team

AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) today announced several promotions and a new hire to strengthen its senior leadership team to further enable the company's continued growth.

AMD announced four senior vice president promotions:
  • Nazar Zaidi to senior vice president of Cores, Server SoC and Systems IP Engineering with continued responsibility for leading the development of leadership CPU cores, server SoCs and system IP.
  • Andrej Zdravkovic to senior vice president of Software Development, leading the teams responsible for all aspects of AMD software strategy and development across AMD graphics, client and data center products.
  • Spencer Pan to senior vice president of Greater China Sales and president of AMD Greater China, with responsibility for leading all sales and go-to-market activities for AMD in Greater China and expansion of strategic partner and customer relationships in the region.
  • Jane Roney to senior vice president of Business Operations, responsible for aligning and scaling critical business processes across the company to support growth and help ensure consistent execution.

Walkthrough of the EK Waterblocks Suite at CES 2020

CES might be over, but our coverage from the event continues. TechPowerUp prides itself on visiting a lot of brands, big and small, and bringing to you our first-hand account of everything new. EK Waterblocks, or simply EKWB henceforth, had a large room in the Mandalay Bay with a big open window spanning the room, which made for challenging photography, but a well-laid out open plan made it easy for us to go over the various product segments they had to display. This post will go briefly over them, but keep in mind that nearly all products showcased do not have set retail availability info just yet.

The very first thing that caught our eyes was their new line of AIO cooling solutions, now simply called EK-AIO. These are the successors to the EK-MLC Phoenix, and the EK-Predator from before, both of which did not really change the status quo of the pre-filled AIO CPU cooling market. EK hopes that the new series, of which again they are working to finalizing the design before committing to a release window and pricing information, will change this. As with most of their new products, the EK-AIO coolers integrate RGB support with 9 dRGB LEDs in the pump/block and more on the EK-Vardar RGB fans that are used on the radiator itself. The EK-AIO series is planned to come in 120/240/360 mm radiator size options, with 1/2/3 fans respectively. Read past the break for more from the Slovenian watercooling brand.

Cyberpunk 2077 Delayed Five Months to September 2020

CD Projekt Red has come out on Twitter with an important announcement regarding the release of their highly-awaited Cyberpunk 2077 game: a five month delay which pushes release to September, instead of the previously-set launch on April 16th. CD Projekt Red said that "We are currently at a stage where the game is complete and playable, but there's still work to be done. Night City is massive - full of stories, content, and places to visit, but due to the sheer scale and complexity of it all, we need more time to finish playtesting, finishing and polishing. We want Cyberpunk 2077 to be our crowning achievement for the generation and postponing launch will give us the precious months we need to make the game perfect." Launching so late into the year does pose questions regarding launch on the next-gen Xbox Series X and PS5 systems; but the developer has already told us the game won't be available on those on launch day.

Game delays are usually taken with disappointment. This editor, however, would like to point out that CD Projekt Red has a proven track record in delivering genre-defining experiences. The Witcher 3 was such for RPGs and fantasy settings; the developer is certainly aiming for no less than the same effect with Cyberpunk 2077 and its FPS gameplay. I, for one, don't mind having a delay on such a game. I'd much rather have it in my hands perfectly polished rather than risk a new Mass Effect: Andromeda situation that could risk killing a new franchise and game world - especially one so interesting as that of Cyberpunk 2077. Patience is a virtue. I believe CD Projekt Red will do everything in their power to make it a game worth our while.

AOC Launches CQ27G2U and Q27G2U Monitors: 27" VA, 2560 x 1440, 144 Hz, 1 ms, FreeSync

AOC today launched two new interestingly specced and priced monitors. The CQ27G2U and Q27G2U are basically the same monitor with only one distinguishing feature: the CQ27G2U features a 1500R curved panel while the Q27G2U is a flat panel monitor. Apart from that, specs are identical between the two. There's a 27" VA panel with 2560 x 1440 (QHD) resolution; 144 Hz refresh rate and 1 ms response time. there's FreeSync support, albeit in a limited range of 48 Hz through 144 Hz, so these monitors won't really help you keep fluidity in lower frames per second.

Maximum brightness of the panels is pretty low at 250 nits, and color coverage is good enough for office work or gaming at 120% sRGB, 90% Adobe RGB and 85% NTSC coverage. Being a VA panel, contrast ratio stands at a respectable 3000:1. I/O is taken care of by 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, and there's also a 4x USB 3.0 hub, Headphone out and 2x 2 W speakers also make an appearance. The non-curved Q27G2U will be available for $299, while its curved sibling, the CQ27G2U, will retail for $20 more at $319.

BIOSTAR Introduces RACING B450 GT3 Micro-ATX Motherboard

The RACING B450GT3 motherboard is built for gamers that require high-performance on a micro-ATX form factor. Fitted with the B450 chipset that supports AMD's Ryzen 3000 Series processors. The RACING B450GT3 motherboard is packed with loads of functions and features that are found in most high-end gaming AM4 motherboards and is designed with BIOSTAR's signature premium black Racing themed PCB style.

The RACING B450GT3 supports 4-DIMM DDR4-1866/2133/2400/2666/2933/3200 (OC) with up to 64G maximum capacity, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port (10 Gb/s), 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port (10 Gb/s), 1x M.2 (32 Gb/s) and 6x SATA3 connectors. Gamers will also appreciate the Hi-Fi 7.1ch HD Audio for truly immersive sound quality that is enabled with the Realtek ALC1150 7.1-Channel Audio, Dual BIOS for auto-recovery, and Iron Slot Protection for a much more stable and durable port composition.

Intel to Detail Xe Graphics Card Architecture at GDC

This year's Game Developers Conference (GDC) that will take place in March is forming to become a very interesting one. According to the GDC schedule platform, Intel is having a presentation about its upcoming Xe graphics card architecture. Saying that "Intel's brand new Xe Architecture, has been teased for a while, and is scheduled for release later this year! This update brings a significant compute, geometry and throughput improvements over today's widely used Gen9 and Gen11 graphics.", Intel is giving us a slight hint of what is to come.

Presented by Intel's senior developer relations engineer, Antonie Cohade, the talk will include an in-depth look of the Xe hardware architecture and its implementations. Said to introduce "powerful new features", the talk about Xe graphics should include a mention of the latest trend in the world of 3D graphics, ray tracing, and show us what are the capabilities of the new GPU architecture.

FSP at CES 2020: A Next-Gen Pure 12V PSU, and a UPS That Wants to See the World

Fortron's consumer brand, FSP, brought a handful new power products to CES 2020, besides its already launched CMT710 premium gaming chassis, the Hydro G Pro premium modular PSU from mid-2019, and Dagger Pro SFX PSUs. The inconspicuous-looking FSP500-30AKB looks like a cheap OEM-included PSU with rear 80 mm exhaust, which comes included with your case, and which you immediately discard. Only that it's possibly the most innovative thing FSP brought to CES. This PSU is being designed for Intel's upcoming PC spec that does away with the 5 V, 5 Vsb, and 3.3 V power domains altogether.

The pure-12 V PSU has only two domains: +12 V and +12 Vsb. What this means is a goodbye to the bulky 24-pin ATX power connector. The PSU only feeds 12 V to your motherboard, which uses onboard VRM and DC-to-DC switching to put out the lower voltage domains, including power for your SATA storage devices. The 24-pin connector is effectively reduced to a new 10-pin connector that only has 12 V and 12 Vsb cabling. Other cables include 8-pin EPS connectors for your CPU VRM, and 6+2 pin PCIe connectors for your graphics cards. EPS and PCIe power are purely 12 V-based standards already. The 5-pin connector is less than half as thick as your 24-pin connector, and 2 pins wider than an EPS connector. Some of the more premium PSUs may user thicker gauge wires for this connector.

Razer at CES 2020: Kishi Mobile Controller, Tomahawk Gaming Desktop, and an Epic Sim

Razer had an interesting outing at CES 2020. There were no new PC gaming peripherals, other than Star Wars "storm trooper" co-branded Kraken, Goliathus, and Atheris; but three interesting exhibits. To begin with, Razer Kishi is an adjustable, split game controller for smartphones. The controller's two ends (meant for your left and right hands, wrap around the two ends of your smartphone. You get two analog thumbsticks, a D-pad, four action buttons, and four triggers. The Razer Gamepad app lets you map the controller to your smartphone over Bluetooth, and provides custom button mapping. The company also showed off Arctech line of smartphone sleeves that are designed to dissipate heat.

Having made its mark as a leading gaming notebook vendor, Razer is turning its attention to pre-built gaming desktops, and we saw one of its first creations, the Tomahawk SFF. Much like Apple, Razer has a serious focus on form as much as function, and that's evident with the aluminium CNC precision-milled chassis with tempered glass side-panels, and a size that's fit both for desks and the living room.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is a Force Multiplier for Road Warriors at CES 2020

The ThinkPad brand from Lenovo has always represented serious business on the move, right from its IBM origins. At CES 2020, the company unveiled what is possibly the best foldable PC design we've seen till date, the ThinkPad X1 Fold. The X1 Fold is a 13.3-inch tablet that folds perfectly along the middle to either a book-like orientation, or as a laptop, in which the top half becomes the display, and the bottom half your keyboard of whichever possible layout. If a touchscreen keyboard doesn't appeal to you, you can dock an accessory that has a physical keyboard and trackpad.

Under the hood of the X1 Fold is an Intel "Lakefield" Hybrid x86 SoC that combines high-performance and high-efficiency x86 cores and dynamically allots workload to them while power-gating on the fly (a la ARM big.LITTLE). When it comes out mid-2020 (likely a Computex 2020 launch), the ThinkPad X1 Fold will be driven by Windows 10X, a new operating system Microsoft is designing specifically for dual-screen mobile computing devices. The Flex 5G is Lenovo's first business notebook with an integrated 5G modem (in addition to Wi-Fi 6), so you can enjoy high-speed mobile Internet on the move. Lastly, we spotted the Lenovo Ducati notebook, a co-branded product of the company's MotoGP team sponsorship.

D-Link Mainstreams Wi-Fi 6 and 5G at CES 2020

Home and small-business networking solutions major D-Link brought a constellation of 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) products to CES 2020, making the standard's mainstreaming. The company's new lineup includes everything from affordable mainstream Wi-Fi 6 routers to high-end routers for gaming, home mesh kits, and plug-in range extenders. The company also unveiled innovative new 5G routers. These are Wi-Fi 6 routers in which instead of just a 1 GbE wired WAN uplink, you connect to the Internet over 5G mobile networks. This makes your Internet access extremely portable and convenient.

The DWR-2010, DWP-1020, and DWR-978 are D-Link's first 5G-to-802.11ax solutions. The DWR-2010 is a 5G NR "Enhanced Gateway," supporting up to 4 Gbps 5G downlink over 5G NR sub-6 GHz, 802.11ax downstream, and a wired switch that features one 2.5 GbE and three 1 GbE LAN downlinks, and a 1 GbE WAN uplink. The DWR-978 is a 5G gateway with up to 1 Gbps 5G downlink, 802.11ac (up to 2600 Mbps) downlink Wi-Fi, four 1 GbE LAN, and one 1 GbE WAN. There's also an outdoor gateway for your lawn, which supports 5G NR Sub-6 GHz, a stellar 5 GbE LAN port, and can withstand a temperature range from -45°C to 55°C, and offers IP45 water resistance. The three will initially only be available through mobile network service providers and not off-the-shelf.
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