Friday, March 22nd 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Memory
Motherboards
Mouse
SSD
Storage

EK Water Blocks Releases EK-Vector Series Water Blocks for AMD Radeon VII

EK Water Blocks, the leading premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer, is releasing EK-Vector Radeon VII water blocks that are compatible with reference design AMD Radeon VII graphics cards. This kind of efficient cooling will allow your high-end graphics card to reach higher boost clocks, thus providing more overclocking headroom and more performance during gaming or other GPU intense tasks.

This water block directly cools the GPU, 16GB of HBM2 memory, and VRM (voltage regulation module) as cooling liquid is channeled directly over these critical areas. These newly developed water blocks feature a redesigned cooling engine that has a larger footprint compared to the previous generation of EK Full Cover water blocks. This results in a larger surface area for heat transfer which increases the thermal performance of these water blocks.

Several Gen11 GPU Variants Referenced in Latest Intel Drivers

The latest version of Intel Graphics drivers which introduce the company's latest UWP-based Graphics Command Center app, hide another secret in their INF. The file has pointers to dozens of variants and implementations of the company's next-generation Gen11 integrated graphics architecture, which we detailed in a recent article. Intel will implement Gen11 on two key processor microarchitectures, "Ice Lake" and "Lakefield," although later down the line, the graphics technology could trickle down to low-power Pentium Silver and Celeron SoC lines, too, with chips based on the "Elkhart Lake" silicon.

There are 13 variants of Gen11 on "Ice Lake," carved using execution unit (EU) count, and LP (low-power) aggressive power management. The mainstream desktop processors based on "Ice Lake," which are least restrained in power-management, get the most powerful variants of Gen11 under the Iris Plus brand. Iris Plus Graphics 950 is the most powerful implementation, with all 64 EUs enabled, and the highest GPU clock speeds. This variant could feature on Core i7 and Core i9 brands derived from "Ice Lake." Next up, is the Iris Plus Graphics 940, with the same EU count, but likely lower clock speeds, which could feature across the vast lineup of Core i5 SKUs. The Iris Plus 930 comes in two trims based on EU count, of 64 and 48, and could likely be spread across the Core i3 lineup. Lastly, there's the Iris Plus 920 with 32 EUs, which could be found in Pentium Gold SKUs. There are various SKUs branded "UHD Graphics Gen11 LP," with EU counts ranging from 32 to 64.

AMD Ryzen 3000 "Zen 2" BIOS Analysis Reveals New Options for Overclocking & Tweaking

AMD will launch its 3rd generation Ryzen 3000 Socket AM4 desktop processors in 2019, with a product unveiling expected mid-year, likely on the sidelines of Computex 2019. AMD is keeping its promise of making these chips backwards compatible with existing Socket AM4 motherboards. To that effect, motherboard vendors such as ASUS and MSI began rolling out BIOS updates with AGESA-Combo 0.0.7.x microcode, which adds initial support for the platform to run and validate engineering samples of the upcoming "Zen 2" chips.

At CES 2019, AMD unveiled more technical details and a prototype of a 3rd generation Ryzen socket AM4 processor. The company confirmed that it will implement a multi-chip module (MCM) design even for their mainstream-desktop processor, in which it will use one or two 7 nm "Zen 2" CPU core chiplets, which talk to a 14 nm I/O controller die over Infinity Fabric. The two biggest components of the IO die are the PCI-Express root complex, and the all-important dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. We bring you never before reported details of this memory controller.
Thursday, March 21st 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
Notebooks
Storage
Aukey KM-G6 Mechanical Keyboard

Aukey KM-G6 Mechanical Keyboard

Aukey effectively replaces their excellent value for money KM-G8 keyboard with the new KM-G6. It keeps the same Outemu Blue mechanical switches and doubleshot-injected keycaps, while adding multi-color backlighting with many lighting effects and onboard controls at that same attractive price point.

ENERMAX Announces LIQMAX III AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

ENERMAX, a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance PC hardware products, introduces LIQMAX III, the new generation of LIQMAX, one of the proclaimed AIO CPU cooler series from ENERMAX. Like the award-winning predecessors featuring superior cooling performance as well as rock-solid quality, LIQMAX III is built with a luminous Aurabelt water-block supporting synchronizabale RGB lighting with RGB motherboards from ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI. LIQMAX III is undoubtedly an excellent choice for mainstream water-cooled RGB gaming rigs.

The premium Aurabelt water-block provides luminous RGB lighting; besides, the exquisite water block is able to support RGB lighting synchronization with motherboards that come with 4pin RGB header(s) (12V/G/R/B). Users can select the preferred lighting styles via the RGB motherboard software.

TP-Link Introduces New Line of Value Packed Archer A Series Routers

TP-Link , a leading global provider of consumer and business networking products, today unveiled a full product line of Archer A Series Wi-Fi routers, the latest additions to TP-Link's lineup of affordable, cutting-edge networking solutions. Priced from 20 to 30 percent lower than other brands, the new line of Archer A series Wi-Fi routers offers unbeatable value and is one of the most complete Wi-Fi offerings in the marketplace.

"Our new family of Archer A Series routers is one of our most exciting and budget-friendly product lines to date, with Archer A7 already leading the way as one of the best-selling routers on Amazon," said Louis Liu, CEO at TP-Link USA. "These state-of-the-art routers offer a fast, reliable Wi-Fi experience and are the ideal choice for demanding customers that require the highest performance at the lowest possible price. With numerous products and pricing options, there is TP-Link Archer A Series router for every taste and every budget. It's this commitment to value that has made TP-Link No. 1 in Wi-Fi markeshare worldwide."

Roccat Announces the Kova AIMO Gaming Mouse

The Kova AIMO, ROCCAT's most versatile mouse yet, is available now. With a design optimized for both left- and right-handed gamers alike, it is exceptionally adaptable. Yet it is also remarkably comfortable owing to its refined, ergonomic shape. The mouse features quick-fire buttons that are intuitively placed on either side of the main top buttons to allow for fast, instinctive control. Together with the Titan wheel and additional side buttons, the Kova AIMO offers an impressive 20 possible functions.

It represents the latest addition to the AIMO family and boasts 16.8 million discrete color options. AIMO is both a lighting engine and an ecosystem at once. Its functionality grows based on the number of compatible devices connected and presents vivid, state-of-the-art illumination scenarios without the need for configuration. With the Kova AIMO the lighting is showcased on the robust Titan wheel and newly revamped logo.

NEC Display Solutions Announces New 55-inch Professional UHD Displays

NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a leading provider of commercial LCD displays and projectors, today announced the V554Q, a large-format 4K UHD display packed with commercial-grade features and a slim new design to blend into any environment. Like other new models in the C & V Series, the V554Q features an industry-best anti-reflective high haze coating, full external control and network capabilities through LAN, and SpectraView Engine Technology, which allows for complete color control.

"We've listened to our customers in designing the V554Q to be the best 55-inch display tailored for commercial and corporate signage needs," said Ben Hardy, Senior Product Manager at NEC Display Solutions. "The V554Q has best-in-class, high-haze anti-glare coating, updated connectivity, and both landscape and portrait orientation support to seamlessly fit any digital signage environment."

EK Releases Aluminum Based Water Blocks for NVIDIA RTX Series Graphics Cards

EK Water Blocks, the market leader in PC custom liquid cooling, is announcing the expansion of their Fluid Gaming aluminum based custom loop liquid cooling line. With price and performance in mind, EK Fluid Gaming is an inexpensive ticket to the custom liquid cooling world. Following the release of copper blocks for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080Ti cards, EK is now launching one aluminum water block that is cross-compatible with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080Ti cards which use the reference PCB and layout.

The EK-AC GeForce RTX is a full-cover water block designed and developed in cooperation with NVIDIA and it fits several high-end NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards. This water block directly cools the GPU, RAM as well as VRM (voltage regulation module) as water flows directly over these critical areas, thus allowing the graphics card to reach higher boost frequencies. The loud stock fan gets to be replaced by a slim-line minimalistic water block that will not only make your PC look better, but also make the graphics card perform better. Finally, you will be able to enjoy your favorite games in silence. This water block also comes with a sleek matte black backplate.

Intel Introduces its New Graphics Command Center App, Paving the Way For Intel Xe

Intel has revealed the layout and overall look (as well as functionality, though that one is always changing) of their new Graphics Command Center app, which showcases the company's vision for a graphics control hub. The design is thematically coherent (read: it's blue), and is, for now, of a simple layout. Enthusiast options are expectedly going to be added closer to or upon release of the company's discrete-level graphics architecture with Intel Xe, but the Command Center as it is showcases Intel's overall spirit to their graphics push. For now, features keep the minimalist approach of Intel's integrated graphics - this is more of a new coat of paint than a new enthusiast-grade Command Center.

Intel made a video available on its Twitter account, and announced an early access program for users that want to partake i the feature and usability development of the new Command Center. The new app is available through Microsoft's App Store on Windows.

Nitro Concepts Releases the New S300EX PU Leather Gaming Chair

The Nitro Concepts S300EX is a brand new addition to the existing S300 range, sporting new PU leather upholstery and with an updated design to match. It's breathable cold foam construction, alongside ergonomic design, make it perfect for gaming in total comfort.

The S300EX is totally customisable to gamers of every size, with adjustable or fully removable headrest and lumbar support. Armrests are three dimensional; with height, rotation and the ability to slide both back and forwards depending on your seating style. Finally the chair itself is both height and backrest adjustable, with a built in rocking feature for when you're ready to kick back and relax.

EPIC Games Shows Off Unreal Engine 4.23 Physics, Destruction System "Chaos" at GDC 2019

Not all news coming from EPIC covers its EPIC Games Store - though according to the relative attention they've been garnering with the constant scooping up of PC timed exclusives, perhaps it should. This piece of news, alas, covers the company's unreal Engine, which has been one of the hallmarks in games development for a while now, being used for a number of disparate games such as the gears of War games, or even a relatively obscure, Xbox 360 exclusive title, Lost Odyssey. At GDC 2019, EPIC showcased version 4.23 of its Unreal Engine, with particular attention to its improved destruction and physics engine, which they've aptly named "Chaos".

NVIDIA: Turing Adoption Rate 45% Higher Than Pascal, 90% of Users Buying Upwards in Graphics Product Tiers

NVIDIA during its investor day revealed some interesting statistics on its Turing-based graphics cards. The company essentially announced that revenue for Turing graphics cards sales increased 45% over that generated when NVIDIA introduced their Pascal architecture - which does make sense, when you consider how NVIDIA actually positioned its same processor tiers (**60, **70, **80) in higher pricing brackets than previously. NVIDIA's own graphics showcase this better than anyone else could, with a clear indication of higher pricing for the same graphics tier. According to the company, 90% of users are actually buying pricier graphics cards this generation than they were in the previous one -which makes sense, since a user buying a 1060 at launch would only have to pay $249, while the new RTX 2060 goes for $349.

Other interesting tidbits from NVIDIA's presentation at its investor day is that Pascal accounts for around 50% of the installed NVIDIA graphics cards, while Turing, for now, only accounts for 2% of that. This means 48% of users sporting an NVIDIA graphics card are using Maxwell or earlier designs, which NVIDIA says presents an incredible opportunity for increased sales as these users make the jump to the new Turing offerings - and extended RTX feature set. NVIDIA stock valuation grew by 5.82% today, likely on the back of this info.

Scythe presents Kotetsu Mark II & Choten TUF Gaming Alliance Coolers

Japanese cooling expert Scythe presents two special editions of its CPU Cooler models Kotetsu Mark II and Choten as part of the ASUS TUF Gaming Alliance series. Both products bundle their unique advantages with the fancy design of the TUF Gaming Alliance series and gorgeous RGB illumination.

Scythe Kotetsu Mark II TUF Gaming Alliance Edition is based on the award-winning Kotetsu Mark II, offering outstanding performance even for overclocking purposes at impressively low noise levels. The Scythe Choten TUF Gaming Alliance on the other hand, aims for much more compact PC case environments while providing excellent balance between size, compatibility and performance.

Intel "Ice Lake" GPU Docs Reveal Unganged Memory Mode

When reading through the Gen11 GT2 whitepaper by Intel, which describes their upcoming integrated graphics architecture, we may have found a groundbreaking piece of information that concerns the memory architecture of computers running 10 nm "Ice Lake" processors. The whitepaper mentions the chip to feature a 4x32-bit LPDDR4/DDR4 interface as opposed to the 2x64-bit LPDDR4/DDR4 interface of current-generation chips such as "Coffee Lake." This is strong evidence that Intel's new architecture will have unganged dual-channel memory controllers (2x 64-bit), as opposed to the monolithic 128-bit IMC found on current-generation chips.

An unganged dual-channel memory interface consists of two independent memory controllers, each handling a 64-bit wide memory channel. This approach lets the processor execute two operations in tandem, given the accesses go to distinct memory banks. On top of that it's now possible to read and write at the same time, something that's can't be done in 128-bit memory mode. From a processor's perspective DRAM is very slow, and what takes up most of the time (= latency), is opening the memory and preparing the read/write operation - the actual data transfer is fairly quick.

Intel Gen11 Architecture and GT2 "Ice Lake" iGPU Detailed

Intel "Ice Lake" will be the company's first major processor microarchitecture since the "Skylake" (2015), which promises CPU IPC improvements. Intel has been reusing both CPU cores and graphics architecture for four processor generations, since "Skylake". Gen9 got a mid-life update to Gen9.5 with "Kaby Lake", adding new display interfaces and faster drivers. "Ice Lake" takes advantage of the new 10 nm silicon fabrication process to not just pack faster CPU cores (with increased IPC), but also the new Gen11 iGPU. Intel published a whitepaper detailing this architecture.

An illustration in the whitepaper points to the GT2 trim of Gen11. GT2 tends to be the most common variant of each Intel graphics architecture. Gen9.5 GT2, for example, is deployed across the board on 8th and 9th generation Core processors (with the exception of the "F" or "KF" SKUs). The illustration confirms that Intel will continue to use their Ring Bus interconnect on the mainstream implementation of "Ice Lake" processors, despite possible increases in CPU core counts. This is slightly surprising, since Intel introduced a Mesh interconnect with its recent HEDT and enterprise processors. Intel has, however, ensured the iGPU has a preferential access to the Ring Bus, with 64 Byte/clock reads and 64 Byte/clock writes, while each CPU core only has 32 Byte/clock reads and 32 Byte/clock writes.

ZOTAC Announces Availability of MEK Mini Gaming PC

ZOTAC Technology, a global manufacturer of innovation, today announced the launch of the super-compact gaming desktop, MEK MINI. Boasting a mere 9.18 liter, MEK MINI packs an Intel Core i7 processor, a discrete ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX graphics card, and SPECTRA 2.0 lighting system.

Utilizing over 12 years of design and engineering expertise, ZOTAC has been pioneering its way with many things MINI. First with the ZBOX Mini PC ranging from impossibly small to ones capable of rivaling desktops, secondly with MINI graphics cards that still retain the potent power and performance of larger sized ones, and now ZOTAC has set its sight on the Gaming PC segment with the small and strong MEK MINI.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 419.67 Creator Ready Drivers

NVIDIA today surprised us with the curiously named GeForce 419.67 Creator Ready drivers. These are client-segment graphics drivers, and only support GeForce and TITAN graphics cards, and not a single Quadro product is supported. Their version numbering also aligns with the GeForce trunk. The way we read this, "Creator Ready" is a new moniker like the existing "Game Ready," and while the latter is timed to release with major AAA game launches, the former aligns with major productivity apps relevant to the client-segment that doesn't need too many professional features or certifications exclusive to the Quadro series. These drivers support GeForce GTX 10-series "Pascal," GeForce GTX 16-series "Turing," GeForce RTX 20-series "Turing," and TITAN products based on the "Pascal," "Volta" and "Turing" architectures. 900-series "Maxwell" support is removed.

These drivers introduce performance optimization for recently launched productivity applications Autodesk Arnold, Unreal Engine 4.22, REDCINE-X PRO, Adobe Lightroom, and Substance Designer by Adobe. The drivers also improve performance of existing applications. You can expect a 13 percent performance improvement with Blender Cycles, up to 9 percent with Photoshop CC and Premier Pro CC, and up to 8 percent with Maxon Cinema 4D. NVIDIA also added G-Sync certifications to ASUS VG278Q and VG258 monitors, which are adaptive-sync capable. Installing these drivers won't change the gaming feature-set of your existing drivers. These very much still are GeForce drivers, and your settings can carry forward.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 419.67 Creator Ready Drivers

The change-log follows.

Samsung Develops Industry's First 3rd-generation 10nm-Class DRAM

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has developed a 3rd-generation 10-nanometer-class (1z-nm) eight-gigabit (Gb) Double Data Rate 4 (DDR4) DRAM for the first time in the industry. In just 16 months since it began mass producing the 2nd-generation 10nm-class (1y-nm) 8Gb DDR4, development of 1z-nm 8Gb DDR4 without the use of Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) processing has pushed the limits of DRAM scaling even further.

As 1z-nm becomes the industry's smallest memory process node, Samsung is now primed to respond to increasing market demands with its new DDR4 DRAM that has more than 20-percent higher manufacturing productivity compared to the previous 1y-nm version. Mass production of the 1z-nm 8Gb DDR4 will begin within the second half of this year to accommodate next-generation enterprise servers and high-end PCs expected to be launched in 2020.

ASUS Rolls Out TUF B450M-Pro Gaming Motherboard

ASUS expanded its TUF Gaming motherboard series for the AMD platform with the new TUF B450M-Pro Gaming, positioned above its existing TUF B450M-Plus Gaming. This board features a more upscale CPU VRM design, chunkier VRM heatsinks, a more premium onboard audio solution, an additional M.2 slot, and more fan headers than the B450M-Plus Gaming. To begin with, the board features a 10-phase CPU VRM compared to the simpler 6-phase design of the B450M-Plus Gaming. Both areas of the CPU VRM are cooled by visibly bigger heatsinks, while the B450M-Plus Gaming features no heatsink over the VSoC phases. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors.

ASUS rearranged the expansion slot layout to make room for a second M.2 slot. The upper slot features both PCI-Express 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, while the lower slot features PCI-Express 3.0 x2 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring. Both slots use SATA switching logic to divert SATA links from the board's six SATA 6 Gbps ports. The third major area of improvement is the onboard audio solution, which uses a top-grade Realtek ALC1220A CODEC compared to the entry-level ALC887 of the B450M-Plus Gaming. This chip is still wired out to 6-channel analog jacks. There are a couple of additional 4-pin fan headers. The onboard gigabit Ethernet solution is unchanged, driven by a Realtek RTL8111H PHY. The ASUS TUF B450M-Pro Gaming is expected to be priced at USD $99.
Wednesday, March 20th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Motherboards
Mouse
Networking
Notebooks
SSD
AMD Ryzen Memory Tweaking & Overclocking Guide

AMD Ryzen Memory Tweaking & Overclocking Guide

Memory overclocking has a significant impact on performance of AMD Ryzen-powered machines, but the alleged complexity of memory tweaking on this platform, largely fueled by misinformation and lack of documentation, has kept some enthusiasts away from it. We want to change this.
Cooler Master Masterbox NR600

Cooler Master Masterbox NR600

The Cooler Master NR series aims to combine form and function in a streamlined look with a good material mix. It actually achieves this balance quite well considering its affordable price tag, sturdy build quality, and simple but useful feature set.
Cooler Master Masterbox NR400

Cooler Master Masterbox NR400

The Cooler Master Masterbox NR400 is the smaller of the two enclosures from the recently launched family. It aims to offer an efficient, cost-effective mass-market appeal while retaining a useful feature set at the same time.

beyerdynamic Innovates Lifestyle Headphones with Soul BYRD and Blue BYRD

beyerdynamic, one of the world's leading manufacturers of headphones, microphones and conferencing products, announces Blue BYRD, the first wireless, in-ear headset within the BYRD Series, and the Soul BYRD, an in-ear headset. Featuring a unique, extra-flat design, the Blue BYRD and Soul BYRD allow for unrestricted listening with state-of-the-art technology and crisp acoustics.

Blue BYRD combines simple elegance, impressive sound and enjoyable wearing comfort to create an everyday wireless headphone. Blue BYRD boasts flawless Bluetooth transmission with Qualcomm aptX and AAC technology for a balanced listening experience for up to six hours of playing time. Blue BYRD's universal, three-button remote microphone provides flexibility to manage media playback, phone calls, and virtual assistants on both Android and iOS playback devices. Blue BYRD retails for $199.00 USD and is currently shipping. For more information, please visit https://north-america.beyerdynamic.com/blue-byrd.html.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 Drivers

AMD today released the latest version of their Radeon Adrenalin 2019 Drivers with beta version 19.3.3. This release adds support for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Generation Zero. In regards to performance improvements AMD made no mention of any with this release; however, a few fixes were implemented. Up first is Rainbow Six Siege which should no longer have texture flickering or intermittent corruption issues. Meanwhile, in DOTA 2 VR AMD has managed to eliminate stutter problems on HMD devices when the game is utilizing the Vulkan API. They also made mention of two known issues as well. The first issue impacts AMD Ryzen mobile processors with Radeon Vega Graphics, on which the mouse cursor can disappear or go beyond the top boundary of a display. While the second problem pertains to WattMan gauges along with the performance metrics, overlay being inaccurate on systems with an AMD Radeon VII installed.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Adrenalin Edition 19.3.3 Beta

Oculus Announces the Rift S Headset for $399, Developed in Partnership With Lenovo

Oculus today announced an improvement to their original Rift headset, the Oculus Rift S. The new headset from oculus builds upon advances in their view of a VR experience, as well as from learnings acquired through the development of the original Rift, the smartphone-only Oculus Go, and the standalone Oculus Quest, to deliver the new, ultimate VR experience in the Oculus field.

The Oculus S features improved panels with a 2560x1440 resolution (just like the Oculus GO), offering 40% more pixels and improving the pixel subsystem with groupings of three instead of two. It also features Oculus Quest's Inside-Out tracking capabilities, with five cameras instead of the Quests' four, alongside redesigned controllers.

Denuvo Parent Company Irdeto Launches Anti-Cheat Solution

Irdeto, Denuvo's parent company, is now looking to offer another service for publishers: an anti-cheat solution. Named Denuvo Anti-Cheat (because why would they abandon the well-known Denuvo branding), the new system aims to prevent cheaters from extracting or manipulating game code that could give them an advantage over other users.

Like the Denuvo DRM, this Anti-Cheat solution isn't located at the executable level, but is integrated into the game code natively. Developers will have to work it into select triggers, much like they already do with Denuvo, for the solution to be as seamless as possible. Irdeto said "Denuvo Anti-Cheat makes use of the latest hardware security features offered by Intel and AMD, combined with Machine Learning of game-agnostic process metrics, to ensure no false positives and maximum detection of cheating".

Quantic Dreams' PlayStation Exclusives Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human Announced for PC as EPIC Games Store Exclusives

The unthinkable, never-before-seen, has happened: games that were developed as PlayStation exclusives are finally making their way to PC (outside of any PS Now streaming shenanigans). Developer Quantic Dreams has announced at GDC 2019 that Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human are coming to the PC platform. And if you didn't read that title, you probably wondered, and yes: they are exclusive, for a period of one year, to the EPIC Games Store.

The EPIC Games Store Odyssey: Obsidian's "The Outer Worlds", Remedy's "Control" Exclusive for One Year

It seems that the EPIC Game Store exclusivity saga is still coming strong, with not one, but two AA games coming to PC that are exclusive to the new games distribution platform. Obsidian's The Outer Worlds is likely one of the most anticipated RPG games this side of Fallout 76, and Remedy has always been known for great single-player games that push the boundaries of the medium - and sometimes wreck those boundaries completely, as it happened with Quantum Break.

Now, both games are known to be part of EPIC's Game Store in a time-limited exclusive format for one year after launch, much like has happened with Metro Exodus - though here there is no sudden Steam departure to be met with. The Outer Worlds will also be available in Microsoft Store, true (Obsidian is now part of Microsoft's Game Studios, remember?).

Without Silicon, Intel Scores First Exascale Computer Design Win for Xe Graphics - AURORA Supercomputer

This here is an interesting piece of tech news for sure, in that Intel has already scored a pretty massive design win for not one, but two upcoming products. Intel's "Future Xeon Scalable Processors" and the company's "Xe Compute Architecture" have been tapped by the U.S. Department of Energy for incorporation into the new AURORA Supercomputer - one that will deliver exascale performance. AURORA is to be developed in a partnership between Intel and Cray, using the later's Shasta systems and its "Slingshot" networking fabric. But these are not the only Intel elements in the supercomputer design: Intel's DC Optane persistent memory will also be employed (in an as-of-yet-unavailable version of it as well), making this a full win across the prow for Intel.

NETGEAR Debuts AX12 Wi-Fi 6 Home Router

NETGEAR, the leading provider of networking devices that power today's smart home and small businesses, has introduced a new tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router, the NETGEAR Nighthawk Tri-band AX12 12-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router (RAX200).

The Nighthawk Tri-band AX12 (RAX200) is a powerful Wi-Fi 6 router that uses three bands with a combined Wi-Fi speed of 10.8Gbps. This provides the ideal solution for the growing needs of households with an ever-increasing number of connected devices vying for internet bandwidth simultaneously. Tri-Band Wi-Fi provides an additional Wi-Fi band to reduce congestion and provide a better-connected experience across multiple devices simultaneously. The latest Wi-Fi 6 technology provides four times the amount of data capacity over that of the previous generation of Wi-Fi routers (802.11ac), also now known as Wi-Fi 5.

Alpenföhn Unveils the Brocken ECO Advanced CPU Cooler

Alpenföhn today unveiled the Brocken ECO Advanced CPU cooler, available for pre-order through Overclockers UK in the EU. The Brocken ECO Advanced is the latest CPU cooler from German manufacturer Alphenfohn. It sports an asymmetrical design, with a compact size allowing almost universal compatibility of the adjacent RAM modules - no matter the height of the heat spreader.

The Brocken ECO Advanced offers an overall increased cooler size and with a new high performance fan gives cooling support for a TDP of 170 Watts; making it perfect for overclockers. It's ultra-quiet 120 mm WingBoost 3 fan, featuring redesigned blades and a fixed guide, increased volume flow whilst reducing total noise output.

MSI Rolls Out AMD 400-series BIOS Updates with "Zen 2" Microcode

MSI mid-March began quietly rolling out BIOS updates for its socket AM4 motherboards based on AMD 400-series chipset, with a very ominous BIOS change-log entry: "Support new upcoming AMD CPU." At first, we dismissed this for being the company's follow-up to its 6th March announcement of support for some of the newer Athlon processor models, namely the 220GE and 240GE. After updating our MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC with one of these BIOSes, however, we discovered a very interesting microcode string - AGESA COMBO-AM4 0.0.7.2.

Such a major change in AGESA shouldn't be warranted to add support for two new chips based on existing "Raven Ridge" architecture that both AGESA "Summit Ridge" and AGESA PiR (Pinnacle Ridge) series microcodes should be able to comfortably run. We spoke with sources familiar with AMD microcode, who revealed that this AGESA COMBO-AM4 0.0.7.2 is designed for the upcoming "Zen 2" microarchitecture, and its first socket AM4 implementation, codenamed "Matisse." AMD internal versions of AGESA with Matisse support begin with the version sequence 0.0.7.x., and as we head closer to formal launch of these chips, AMD could release a 1.0.0.0 version of "AGESA COMBO-AM4." For our B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, the BIOS version packing this new AGESA is v1.60, and we wager this board should now be able to run Ryzen "Matisse" engineering samples. Now, if we can only get our hands on one.

Kyle Bennett of HardOCP Joins Intel as Director of Enthusiast Engagement

Kyle Bennett, owner of tech publication HardOCP that ruled the web for over two decades, has joined Intel in the position of Director of Enthusiast Engagement. Following his departure, HardOCP will "mothballed," in that it will not generate new content, its IP and existing content will be owned by Bennett. HardForum.com, on the other hand, will be sold to a company Bennett is familiar with, demonetized, and run by volunteers and funded by Patreons. At Intel, Bennett will work under Technology Leadership Marketing, and will lead the company's efforts to "reconnect with the top of the high-performance consumer pyramid which contains hardware enthusiasts, overclockers, gamers, and content creators."

Kyle Benett is among a handful superstar tech journalists Intel soaked up in recent times as Raja Koduri and Chris Hook build Intel's Infinity Gauntlet with them. These include Ryan Shrout from PC Perspective, and Damien Triolet from Hardware.fr (albeit via AMD). Anand Lal Shimpi probably was one of the first and most prominent tech press leaders who left his publication for the industry. AMD's arsenal includes Scott Wasson from The TechReport and the famous overclocker Sammi Maekinen. Lars Weinand from RivaStation works for NVIDIA (also via AMD). Kyle Bennett is famous for a mountain of work in the DIY PC sphere, but in recent times is most recently credited for exposing and leading an awareness campaign against NVIDIA's poorly conceived GeForce Partner Program (GPP). We wish Kyle Bennett all the very best in his new endeavor and pray that he doesn't allow DIY PC and overclocking to become as expensive a hobby as fast cars (which unfortunately is the direction in which it's headed).

Apple iMac Gets a 2x Performance Boost

Apple today updated its iMac line with up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors for the first time and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance. From consumers to pros alike, users will notice their iMac is faster for everyday tasks all the way up to the most demanding pro workloads. This boost in performance, combined with its gorgeous Retina display, sleek all-in-one design, quiet operation, fast storage and memory, modern connectivity and macOS Mojave, makes iMac the world's best desktop.

"Customers are going to love the huge boost in iMac performance. With up to 8-core processors and powerful Vega graphics, the iMac lineup is stronger than ever," said Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac Product Marketing. "With its stunning Retina display, amazing design, twice the performance, and macOS Mojave that our customers love, iMac is by far the best desktop in the world."

Samsung Electronics Introduces New Flashbolt HBM2E High Bandwidth Memory

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced its new High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2E) product at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) to deliver the highest DRAM performance levels for use in next-generation supercomputers, graphics systems, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The new solution, Flashbolt , is the industry's first HBM2E to deliver a 3.2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) data transfer speed per pin, which is 33 percent faster than the previous-generation HBM2. Flashbolt has a density of 16Gb per die, double the capacity of the previous generation. With these improvements, a single Samsung HBM2E package will offer a 410 gigabytes-per-second (GBps) data bandwidth and 16 GB of memory.

Scythe Unleashes Big Shuriken 3 CPU Cooler

Scythe today announces the release of new cooler Big Shuriken 3. This cooler is low profile cooling solution for small form factor systems. The version uses newly developed Kaze Flex 12015mm slim fan that delivers great airflow and compact size for only 69mm in height. The wide-space heatsink jointed with 5 sintered heatpipes can transfer and ventilate the heat effectively, and with asymmetric design offering best compatibility to memory and components on motherboard.
Tuesday, March 19th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
SSD
Storage
Zowie Divina S Series

Zowie Divina S Series

Zowie is often considered one of the best peripheral makers across the globe. They certainly know how to create fantastic shapes, so pretty much everyone can find a comfortable Zowie mouse. The Divina S series mice feature a symmetrical design, PMW3360 top optical sensor, and a lightweight shell optimized for eSports-level performance.
RTX and DLSS in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

RTX and DLSS in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Today, Eidos released their long awaited RTX and DLSS patch for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Raytracing in the game helps improve the quality and realism of shadows. We took a close look at image quality and measure the performance impact using the complete GeForce RTX lineup.

Philips Announces the E9 Series Curved Monitors

Today EPI, who holds all Philips-branded home and personal audio licensing worldwide, unveiled three new curved monitors as part of its E9 Series - inviting users to experience the ultimate in real immersion with stunning picture quality and new, built-in speakers. Perfect for home entertainment or at the office, the Philips E9 Series includes the 32" Ultra-Wide Color QHD monitor (328E9FJAB), and the Philips 32" (328E9QJAB) and 27'' Ultra-Wide Color LCD monitors (278E9QJAB). The new collection is now available on Amazon. The 328E9FJAB is $349.99 MSRP, the 328E9QJAB is $249.99 MSRP and the 278E9QJAB is $215.99.

The new displays all feature Ultra-Wide Color Technology which means a wider spectrum of colors, including vivid reds and deep blues, that deliver a more brilliant picture that comes to life on screen. The ultra-narrow borders and curved design allow for minimum distractions, maximum viewing size and enhanced productivity. Ultranarrow borders are ideal for multi-display or tiling set-up with gaming, graphic design and professional applications - making it feel like one large display.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider RTX Patch Now Available: RTX and DLSS Enabled

A new patch has become available for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which updated the game to the latest graphical technologies in the form of RTX and DLSS. The PC port of the game has been handed by developer Nixxes, which partnered with NVIDIA to work on adding ray-tracing enabled shadows to the game (there's a thematic coherence there if I've ever seen one).

Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service at GDC 2019

We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream.

Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more, with details seen past the break.

EKWB Updates Their Kits With Newer, Extended Range 120 mm Fans

EK , the leading premium liquid cooling gear manufacturer, is boosting the performance of their kits with a newer revision of EK-Vardar fans. The majority of ever-popular EK liquid cooling kits are getting new fans with a wider speed range which will allow quieter operation or more cooling power. The previous EK-Vardar F3-120 fans that had a maximum of 1850 RPM are now switched out for F4-120ER fans with a maximum RPM of 2200, which means that users will be able to get even more performance out of our liquid cooling kits. Aside from that, the ER (extended range), has a PWM duty cycle of 25-100%, compared to 50-100% on the previous F3-120 model. In practice, that means customers will be able to make their entire loop more silent in periods when their PC is not under heavy load.

Full performance on demand or whisper-quiet operation in idle mode, these are two crucial pieces which are key in liquid cooling! Flexibility is one of the key aspects of custom liquid cooling. The ability to have a completely silent high-end system, or have it perform insanely cool when gaming or doing high-load operations is key. The newly upgraded EK-Vardar fans do just that!

Witness the Power of Unity With Heretic Real-Time Demo, Megacity Tech Demo

Unity has grown from a relatively simple engine to one of the most flexible options available for developers, allowing everything from 2D platformers to 3D games and short cinematics, all rendered in real-time, in-engine. The new Heretic real-time demo, showcased at GDC 2019, is one such example of a 3D engine being used to render a breathtaking cinematic.

The Heretic builds upon learnings derived from both the Adam and Book of the Dead shorts, and take advantage of the latest technologies embedded into the Unity engine. Motion blur, bloom, depth of field, film grain, color grading, and Panini projection, including by real-time lights and usage of a probe-based lighting solution. Just take a look at the video yourself, right after the break, and read on for the other part of this Unity-related piece: the Megacity Tech Demo.

NZXT Announces HUE 2 Ambient Kit V2

NZXT, a leading developer of software-powered hardware solutions for PC gaming, today announces the HUE 2 Ambient RGB Lighting Kit V2, powered by CAM. The updated version of the HUE 2 RGB Ambient Kit brings product improvements that make installation easier and help ensures that the included LED strips will be securely attached to your monitor. In addition, CAM provides users with numerous lighting modes including an ambient lighting mode that reacts to the images on your screen. The HUE 2 ecosystem delivers the broadest line of RGB lighting accessories for PC Builders with over 10 different accessories such as the HUE 2 RGB lighting kit, underglow kit, AER RGB 2 fans, and cable combs.

Cooler Master Releases New NR Series Cases

Cooler Master, an award-winning PC components company, today announces the release of the NR series with two new cases: The MasterBox NR400 and the MasterBox NR600. The NR series streamlines form and function to provide a minimalistic design and bold performance. Two models launch alongside each other, each supporting a different form factor. The smaller MasterBox NR400 supports up to mATX motherboards, while the larger MasterBox NR600 supports up to standard ATX motherboards. Marked only by the iconic solid stripe from the original N Series, the new NR Series applies modern technology to a timeless design by incorporating both filtration and airflow in the fine mesh front panel.
  • Minimalistic Mesh Design - Elegant design elements are applied to mesh for optimal thermal performance.
  • Optimal Thermal Performance - The full mesh front panel and ventilated top panel provide a high potential for thermal performance.
  • Flush Tempered Glass Side Panel - The tempered glass side panel, fastened by thumbscrews on the rear panel, keeps the surface completely flush.
  • Headset Jack - The single 4 pole headset jack features both audio and microphone capabilities simultaneously so separate jacks are not needed.
  • Graphics Card Support Up to 346 mm (NR400) / 410 mm (NR600) - Generous clearance space is provided to support the latest graphics cards.
  • Cable Management - High quality, longer length rubber grommets paired with generous clearance behind the motherboard offers ample room for cable management.

Noctua Presents NH-U12A Premium Class 120mm CPU Cooler

Noctua today presented its new NH-U12A premium-quality quiet CPU cooler. The NH-U12A is the latest, 5th generation of Noctua's award-winning U12 series of 120mm size coolers. Conceived to push the envelope of the 120mm form factor, it combines two of Noctua's flagship model NF-A12x25 PWM 120mm fans with a completely redesigned heatsink featuring 7 heatpipes and an increased fin surface area for superior heat dissipation. This way, the NH-U12A can rival the performance of many 140mm sized coolers while offering 120mm class case and PCIe compatibility.

"The original NH-U12 was the very first product we introduced back in 2005 and the U12 series has been at the core of our product line-up ever since," explains Roland Mossig (Noctua CEO). "Today, we're proud to continue this successful legacy by introducing the 5th generation that provides even better quiet cooling performance, which enables it to compete with much larger units while offering superior compatibility. In a nutshell, the NH-U12A is an ideal choice for customers who are looking for a cutting-edge cooler that's hassle-free to integrate in most setups."

Sharkoon Unveils WPM Gold ZERO Semi-modular Power Supply Series

Sharkoon Technologies is an international supplier of PC components and peripherals which boasts performance at a reasonable price. Sharkoon now presents the WPM Gold ZERO. This is an 80 PLUS Gold certified power supply unit using current technology and manufactured with high-quality components. In addition, tidy installation within the PC housing is made possible thanks to the semi-modular configuration of the cable connections.

Due to an efficiency of up to 90 percent, the WPM Gold ZERO has been certified with 80 PLUS Gold. This certification verifies the promised optimization of energy usage and provides assurance that the device will save on electrical power. With the WPM Gold ZERO, Sharkoon relies on state-of-the-art technology including superior LLC resonant converters. These ensure low switching losses and thus enable a higher efficiency. Through the power supply's technological design and its use of premium components, noise and heat levels are reduced to a minimum.

AMD Says Not to Count on Exotic Materials for CPUs in the Next Ten Years, Silicon Is Still Computing's Best Friend

AMD's senior VP of AMD's datacentre group Forrest Norrod, at the Rice Oil and Gas HPC conference, said that while graphene does have incredible promise for the world of computing, it likely will take some ten years before such exotic material are actually taken advantage off. As Norrod puts it, silicon still has a pretty straightforward - if increasingly complex - path down to 3 nanometer densities. And according to him, at the rate manufacturers are being able to scale down their production nodes further, the average time between node transitions stands at some four or five years - which makes the jump to 5 nm and then 3 nm look exactly some 10 years from now, where Norrod expects to go through two additional shrinking nodes for the manufacturing process.

Of course, graphene is being hailed as the next best candidate for taking over silicon's place at the heart of our more complex, high-performance electronics, due, in part, to its high conductivity independent of temperature variation and its incredible switching resistance - it has been found to be able to operate at Terahertz switching speeds. It's a 2D material, which means that implementations of it will have to occur in deposited sheets of graphene across some other material.

Bethesda Confirms E3 Look at DOOM Eternal, Seemingly Teases Starfield - June 9th

Bethesda has confirmed that they will be having their own presentation even before the actual E3 (Entertainments and Electronics Expo) kicks-off. Bethesda's presentation, which will be live on June 9th, will, according to Bethesda, offer an "in-depth look at DOOM Eternal plus much, much more." The company also teases that they want to "be together" with the community this year - likely because of one particular interstellar journey that dwells in such a team - perhaps in the form of Starfield?

AMD CPUs Immune to SPOILER Vulnerability: Company Statement

SPOILER, short for Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks (not sure how that abbreviates), is the latest in the long line of security vulnerabilities preying on imperfections in speculative-execution capabilities of modern processors, which surfaced early March, and affects all Intel processors. The vulnerability exploits the speculative nature of loading data from main memory to a CPU register. Intel has yet to assign a CVE to SPOILER, and hasn't yet released its own documentation on possible mitigation.

Meanwhile, rival AMD put out a statement that its processors are inherently immune to SPOILER due to a fundamentally different memory management design. "We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts," the company writes in its statement.

Micron Unveils 2200 Client-segment SSD, Ditches SMI for In-house Controller

Micron has curiously been releasing client-segment SSDs these recent weeks. The company's main brand was focused on enterprise products, while subsidiary brands Crucial and Ballistix catered to the client-segment. Following up on its late-February launch of the 1300-series client-segment SSDs, Micron unveiled the even faster 2200-series. These drives ditch Silicon Motion-sourced controllers in favor of a new controller Micron designed in-house. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, taking advantage of the NVMe protocol. This in-house controller is mated with Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash, cushioned by its own LPDDR4 DRAM cache.

Available in capacities of 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB, the Micron 2200 is rated to offer sequential transfer rates of up to 3000 MB/s reads, with up to 1600 MB/s writes, up to 240,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 210,000 IOPS 4K random writes, with an endurance rating of 75 TB, 150 TB, and 300 TB, for the 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB variants, respectively. Micron-exclusive features also make their way, such as native power-loss data-protection, and TCG Opal SED. The company hasn't revealed pricing or availability for these drives.

Quake II Reimagined with Ray-tracing on Vulkan

Christoph Schied reimagined the 1990s cult-classic "Quake II" with real-time ray-tracing, using the Vulkan API and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series hardware exposing the "VK_NV_ray_tracing" extension. Called "Q2VKPT," this game based on id Software's open-source Quake II code, implemented real-time path-tracing to make the lighting more physically accurate. NVIDIA expanded on Schied's work with "Quake II RTX," which is possibly the world's first game that is fully real-time ray-traced.

This NVIDIA rendition of Q2VKPT leverages NVIDIA's RTX for Vulkan to ensure all lighting, shadows, reflections, and other visual effects are ray-traced and denoised using NVIDIA's AI-accelerated denoiser. Unless it somehow scored higher-resolution texture assets from id Software, NVIDIA could also be using a GPU-accelerated upscaler to improve texture resolution. It's also possible that ambient-occlusion methods such as HBAO+ are in play to add apparent geometric detail to some of the surfaces in the game. NVIDIA hasn't made Quake II RTX public yet, although you could take the path-traced Q2VKPT for a spin. You'll need an RTX 20-series graphics card and the latest drivers.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Details Leak Thanks to EEC Filing

The GeForce GTX 1650 will be NVIDIA's smallest "Turing" based graphics card, and is slated for a late-April launch as NVIDIA waits on inventories of sub-$200 "Pascal" based graphics cards, such as the GTX 1050 series, to be digested by the retail channel. A Eurasian Economic Commission filing revealed many more details of this card, as an MSI Gaming X custom-design board was finding its way through the regulator. The filing confirms that the GTX 1650 will pack 4 GB of memory. The GPU will be based on the new 12 nm "TU117" silicon, which will be NVIDIA's smallest based on the "Turing" architecture. This card will likely target e-Sports gamers, giving them the ability to max out their online battle royale titles at 1080p. It will probably compete with AMD's Radeon RX 570.
Monday, March 18th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Mouse
NAS
Notebooks
Processors
SSD
ID-Cooling Auraflow X 240

ID-Cooling Auraflow X 240

ID-Cooling seeks to dominate the competition with their latest and greatest all-in-one liquid cooler, the Auraflow X 240. This RGB LED-equipped offering not only delivers solid performance, but also manages to deliver best in class value when looking at RGB-equipped liquid coolers.

RPCS3 Emulator Shows Exceptional Progress in Latest Update Video

While the RPCS3 emulator has been in development since 2011, it is only recently that it has begun to see rapid improvements thereby Bringing PS3 games to the PC platform in a playable way. In their latest update video, the development team behind RPCS3 showed off the most recent performance improvements they have made. Multiple titles have seen tremendous gains thanks to Nekotekina, who managed to approximate Xfloat. This has allowed more games to benefit from the SPU LLVM recompiler which delivers better performance compared to ASMJTT. It also results in LLVM seeing better compatibility with a broader range of titles that before did not run with it or had game breaking issues. They also demonstrated Improvements to SPU cache building with LLVM now being multi-threaded. This change cut the cache build time from 12 minutes and 34 seconds to a 1 minutes 28 seconds on an AMD Ryzen 7 1700.

To display their hard work the development team used Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time which saw a roughly 20-30% performance increase but is still not considered fully playable as of yet. Even so, the performance uplift means Sly Cooper is running in the low 40-50 FPS range which is an excellent start all the same. They also chose a first party title in Uncharted Drake's Fortune which thanks to the same changes received a massive uptick in performance of around 50%. While this means the game only went from 20 FPS to 29 FPS, it is still a sizable improvement.

NVIDIA to Enable DXR Ray Tracing on GTX (10- and 16-series) GPUs in April Drivers Update

NVIDIA had their customary GTC keynote ending mere minutes ago, and it was one of the longer keynotes clocking in at nearly three hours in length. There were some fascinating demos and features shown off, especially in the realm of robotics and machine learning, as well as new hardware as it pertains to AI and cars with the all-new Jetson Nano. It would be fair to say, however, that the vast majority of the keynote was targeting developers and researchers, as usually is the case at GTC. However, something came up in between which caught us by surprise, and no doubt is a pleasant update to most of us here on TechPowerUp.

Following AMD's claims on software-based real-time ray tracing in games, and Crytek's Neon Noir real-time ray tracing demo for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, it makes sense in hindsight that NVIDIA would allow rudimentary DXR ray tracing support to older hardware that do not support RT cores. In particular, an upcoming drivers update next month will allow DXR support for 10-series Pascal-microarchitecture graphics cards (GTX 1060 6 GB and higher), as well as the newly announced GTX 16-series Turing-microarchitecture GPUs (GTX 1660, GTX 1660 Ti). The announcement comes with a caveat letting people know to not expect RTX support (think lower number of ray traces, and possibly no secondary/tertiary effects), and this DXR mode will only be supported in Unity and Unreal game engines for now. More to come, with details past the break.

Plugable Rolls Out the Performance Onyx Gaming Headset

Plugable, the leading developer of USB and Thunderbolt devices, launches the Plugable Performance Onyx Gaming Headset. With sound isolation capacity and a sturdy, sleek brushed aluminum design and wide compatibility across consoles and PCs, the Onyx Gaming Headset is ideal for gamers looking for a capable and affordable headset for gaming and streaming. The Plugable Performance Onyx Gaming Headset is available now for $44.95 on Amazon.

The Plugable Performance Onyx Gaming Headset features a sturdy brushed aluminum frame with adjustable hinges and comfy memory foam padding on both the headband and the earcups. The adjustable hinges on the headset let gamers personalize the size of headband to optimize fit. A retractable microphone provides clear audio for multiplayer game play.

Microsoft Paves the Way for Industry-Wide Adoption of Variable Rate Shading

Microsoft today via a devblog announced their push to make Variable Rate Shading an industry-wide adoption in the search of increased performance that can support the number of pixels and quality of those pixels in future games. The post starts with what is likely the foremost question on the mind of any discerning user that hears of a technique to improve performance: "does it degrade image quality?". And the answer, it seems, is a no: no discernible image quality differences between the Variable Rate Shading part of the image, and the fully rendered one. I'll give you the option to speak on your own perception, though: analyze the image below and cast your vote on the poll.

As resolution increases, so does the amount of work that any given GPU has to process to generate a single frame - and compare that to the amount of additional work that goes from rendering a 30 FPS, 1080p game to a 60 FPS, 4K one, and... It stands to reason that ways of squeezing the highest amount of performance from a given process are at a premium. Particularly in the console space, where cost concerns require the usage of more mainstream-equivalent hardware, which requires creative ways of bridging the desired image quality and the available rendering time for each frame.

Intel Core i9-9900F Makes an Appearance in SiSoft Sandra: No iGPU, No Unlocked Multiplier

Intel has been playing with the release of multiple of their 14 nm ++ processors without any integrated graphics tech, such as the Intel Core i5-9400F, or the iGPU-less, unlocked Core i9-9900KF. However, as strange as it may seem, a quick look online still shows the i9-9900KF selling for more ($582.50) than its complete i9-9900 sibling.

The Core i9-9900F, as caught in SiSoft's Sandra, is likely simply a locked-down version of Intel's Core i9-9900, since delidding of Intel's Core i5-9400F has shown that the silicon real-estate for the iGPU is still there - as such, this likely isn't an effort from Intel to reduce the silicon used for graphics and pass on the savings to customers. At the most, this is Intel launching products that may carry defective iGPUs from the production process and still be able to sell them - though Intel does seem to be looking not to budge on its profit margin, even on these "crippled" CPUs.

Borderlands 3 Possibly Exclusive to Epic Games Store on PC, Fans Worry Based on Old Tweet

Randy Pitchford is an interesting character even as game company CEOs go, with a.. checkered history in the last few months that go from funny all the way to controversial at minimum. As the head of Gearbox, he holds a lot of power when it comes to the Borderlands franchise, which itself teased a third numbered entry to be revealed at PAX East later this month. His social media activity has been a prime example of what not to do as a CEO owing to some personal and professional issues alike, which meant that this latest tease not only got people looking at more about the Borderlands franchise, but also his twitter account.

Users dug up an old tweet from December 2018 wherein he claimed he was "excited to support the Epic Games Store", and this was enough to initiate concerns that Borderlands 3 might be an exclusive to the Epic Games Store on the PC platform. Subsequent replies did nothing to quell these concerns, although there was nothing to confirm anything either. This may all be making a mountain out of an imaginary molehill, but it makes sense for Epic Games to go after Borderlands 3 to get more customers on their side- especially knowing that such exclusivity deals could be in the millions of US dollars. We will know more when the game is officially announced, so keep an eye out for that.

Shed Your Software Costs with GoodOffer24: Discount Windows 10 and Office Licenses

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Aerocool's New RGB Case Squad Arriving Soon

Aerocool Advanced Technologies Corp., a leading PC gaming hardware and accessories design company, has announced the launch of not just one but six new PC cases, all glowing with RGB lighting accents and lightweight price tags. The cases are hitting markets throughout March and April.

The launch of a family of RGB case designs follows the global success of Aerocool's Cylon case series, which has sold over 100,000 units since its launch in 2018. The new additions of the RGB squad - with the flagship, full-tower Tor Pro followed by the Tor, Klaw, Bolt, Shard, and Playa - all come etched with their own unique RGB lighting accents, non-linear designs, and a price tag under US$70 (excepting the full tower flagship). The cases will be available over the start of the Spring as they arrive in markets around Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas.

Khronos Releases OpenXR 0.90 Provisional Specification for High-Performance Access to AR and VR

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the ratification and public release of the OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification. OpenXR is a unifying, royalty-free, open standard that provides high-performance access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)- collectively known as XR-platforms and devices. The new specification can be found on the Khronos website and is released in provisional form to enable developers and implementers to provide feedback at the OpenXR forum.

The OpenXR 0.90 provisional release specifies a cross-platform Application Programming Interface (API) enabling XR hardware platform vendors to expose the functionality of their runtime systems. By accessing a common set of objects and functions corresponding to application lifecycle, rendering, tracking, frame timing, and input, which are frustratingly different across existing vendor-specific APIs, software developers can run their applications across multiple XR systems with minimal porting effort-significantly reducing industry fragmentation.

Kingston Technology Launches New Data Center 500 Series SSDs

Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., a world leader in memory products and technology solutions, today announced it is shipping the Data Center DC500R Enterprise SSD optimized for read-intensive applications. This is the first drive in the DC500 series that implements Kingston's strict Quality of Service (QoS) requirements to ensure predictable random I/O performance as well as predictable low latencies over a wide range of read and write workloads. Next week, the company will ship its DC500M SSD optimized for mixed-use workloads.

DC500R is ideal for read-intensive applications such as boot up, web servers, virtual desktop infrastructure, operational databases and real-time analytics. Cloud service providers and software-defined storage architects can leverage the drive's consistent I/O and latency performance to deliver the QoS needed in demanding read-centric environments. At .5 DWPD (drive writes per day), DC500R allows IT administrators to maximize their investment in storage hardware with a drive that delivers on performance, endurance and reliability. DC500R is available in 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB and 3.84TB capacities.

Turtle Beach Also Announces Battle Buds In-ear Headset

Leading gaming headset and audio accessory brand Turtle Beach (Nasdaq: HEAR) today announced that the Turtle Beach Battle Buds - a high-performance in-ear headset designed for gamers on the go - are now available internationally. The Battle Buds' standout feature is the removable high-sensitivity boom microphone which delivers crystal-clear in-game chat with other players. When not gaming, the boom mic can be easily detached, and the inline mic can be used for taking calls and chatting on the go. Additionally, Battle Buds have 10mm speakers that deliver full-range sound, as well as a standard 3.5 mm connection to ensure compatibility with nearly all mobile devices, Nintendo Switch , Xbox One, PS4 , and PC. Battle Buds arrive with two color combinations - bright white with teal accents, or sleek black with silver accents, and are available today at for just £24.99.

"The Battle Buds use our renowned mic technology to deliver a great multiplayer chat experience, just in a smaller, more portable package created for gamers playing on Nintendo Switch and mobile devices," said Juergen Stark, CEO, Turtle Beach. "Battle Buds sound great whether gaming or listening to music, and both mics pick up your voice loud and clear, whether you're coordinating with your squad to ensure you get the next win, or on a call with a friend talking about your next match."

Turtle Beach Announces Recon 70 Series Gaming Headset

Turtle Beach (NASDAQ: HEAR), a global leader in gaming audio, today unveiled the all-new Recon 70 - the Company's latest series of powerful and affordable wired gaming headsets, and the successor to the Turtle Beach's Recon 50. The Recon 70 is built to give gamers the advantage they need on any battlefield, on any platform. Available for a MSRP of £29.99, the Recon 70 delivers high-quality game audio through powerful 40mm over-ear speakers and features Turtle Beach's signature high-sensitivity flip-to-mute mic. The Recon 70's lightweight design includes a padded and adjustable headband, while synthetic leather-wrapped ear cushions provide unmatched comfort so players can focus on the match and secure that win.

The Recon 70 for Nintendo Switch , with its signature red accents, is available now at www.turtlebeach.com and at participating retailers in North America. Additionally, black and white models of the Recon 70 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will be available in North America starting May 1, 2019, with pre-orders available now. Also available on May 1, 2019 will be a midnight red version of the Recon 70 for PS4 .

NVIDIA GTC 2019 Kicks Off Later Today, New GPU Architecture Tease Expected

NVIDIA will kick off the 2019 GPU Technology Conference later today, at 2 PM Pacific time. The company is expected to either tease or unveil a new graphics architecture succeeding "Volta" and "Turing." Not much is known about this architecture, but it's highly likely to be NVIDIA's first to be designed for the 7 nm silicon fabrication process. This unveiling could be the earliest stage of the architecture's launch cycle, would could see market availability only by late-2019 or mid-2020, if not later, given that the company's RTX 20-series and GTX 16-series have only been unveiled recently. NVIDIA could leverage 7 nm to increase transistor densities, and bring its RTX technology to even more affordable price-points.

AMD Brings Back the "XT" Moniker with China-specific Radeon RX 560 XT

Back in the glory days of ATI Radeon, the XT brand extension denoted the better-endowed variant among two or more graphics card models based on the same silicon, such as the Radeon HD 2900 XT. After AMD's takeover, the XT, Pro, XL, and other lesser used extensions such as XTX and All-in-Wonder were retired in favor of numerical variant numbers, beginning with the HD 3870. The company continued to use "XT" and "Pro" internally to differentiate ASIC variants, although those monikers were seldom if not never used in marketing materials. That's about to change. AMD launched its first overtly XT brand-extended product in close to 15 years, with the China-specific Radeon RX 560 XT, but alas, it's a lousy re-brand.

The RX 560 XT is positioned between the RX 560 4 GB and RX 570 4 GB, and is based on the "Polaris 20" or "Polaris 30" silicon (we don't know which). AMD enabled 28 out of 36 NGCUs on this silicon, resulting in 1,792 stream processors, 112 TMUs, and 32 ROPs. The memory is 4 GB across a 256-bit wide memory interface, although the memory clock-speed is dialed down to 6.6 Gbps (211.2 GB/s). What makes the RX 560 XT a re-brand is that AMD launched an SKU with the same exact specifications, called Radeon Pro 570, and there are several odd-ball RX 570-branded cards in the wild with this core-config. There's no reference-design board of the RX 560 XT, and the SKU is entirely in the hands of board partners to come up with custom-designs of their own.

Update: AMD has informed us that the RX 560 XT is based on the 14 nm "Polaris 10" silicon, and not "Polaris 20" or "Polaris 30." Polaris 10 is the first implementation of the "Polaris" architecture.
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