Friday, February 17th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Motherboards
Networking
Processors
Speakers

Aerocool P7-C1

The Aerocool "Project 7" P7-C1 offers a futuristic take on what a gaming professional should use as their chassis. It offers large, clean design elements, a long list of functionality, an interesting material mix, and RGB lighting.

AMD Ryzen 1700X, 1600X & 1300 Benchmarks Leaked

A number of sites have been reporting on some leaked (as in, captured from Futuremark's database) scores on AMD's upcoming CPUs. Now, some benchmarks seem to have surfaced regarding not only the company's 8-core, 16-thread monsters, but also towards its sweet-spot 6-core, 12-thread CPUs and its more mundane 4-core offerings.

Taking into account some metrics (which you should, naturally, take with some grains of salt), and comparing Intel's and AMD's Ryzen offerings on 3DMark's Fire Strike Physics scores, we can see that a $389 Ryzen 7 1700X (8 cores, 16 threads) at its base clock of 3.4 GHz manages to surpass Intel's competing (in thread count alone, since it retails for $1089) 6900K running at its base 3.2 GHz frequency - with the Ryzen processor scoring 17,878 points versus the 6900K's 17,100. Doing some fast and hard maths, this would mean that if the R7 1700X was to be clocked at the same speed as the 6900K, it would still be faster, clock for clock (though not by much, admittedly). We don't know whether Turbo was disabled or not on these tests, for either AMD's or Intel's processor, so we have to consider that. However, if Turbo were enabled, that would mean that the R7 1700X's clockspeed would only be 100 MHz higher than the 6900K's (3.8 GHz max, vs 3.7 GHz max on the Intel CPU).

Valve Reportedly Indifferent to Fate of Virtual Reality Tech

It seems Valve is far from concerned about rumors of an underwhelming Virtual Reality headset market. In a recent interview with the head of the game studio, Gabe Newell said his company was still "optimistic" in regards to VR's present state of affairs, and that it's "going in a way that's consistent with our expectations." He also added that Valve was "pretty comfortable with the idea that it will turn out to be a complete failure."

VR Tech sales have come under scrutiny due, in part, to lack of information. Neither Valve nor Oculus' respective marketplaces have produced sales data, leaving speculation to run rampant. To further fuel the fire, leaked figures from late last year suggest only 140,000 HTC Vive headsets had been sold, below market expectations for what is supposed to be the next "big thing."

Phanteks Also Announces the Glacier G1080 Series VGA Water Blocks

Phanteks, the award-winning thermal cooling and chassis manfacturer, is excited to introduce the new Glacier Series GPU water blocks. The Glacier G1080 full cover waterblocks from Phanteks are designed to work seamlessly with the 1080/1070 Graphic Cards from MSI Gaming Series, Asus Strix, EVGA FTW, Gigabyte G1, preserving compatibility with orignal backplates and RGB functionalities.

Made from premium materials according to the finest standards of craftsmanship from Phanteks, the G1080 water blocks deliver extreme cooling and improve stability under high overclocks for the enthusiasts. VITON sealing from the Automotive and Aerospace Industries ensure the best reliability and longevity.

Phanteks Also Announces the Glacier C350i CPU Water Block

Phanteks, the award-winning thermal cooling and chassis manfacturer, is excited to introduce the Glacier Series C350i, a compact design CPU water block for Intel platform that delivers the highest possible rate of cooling performance to the processor efficiently and improves stability when overclocked.

The Glacier C350i features a large copper base in high quality nickel finish, polished acrylic surface, and integrated high density cooling fins. The fins are fine-tuned to 0.4mm wide and designed with extra high fins (5mm) for improved conductivity. The C350i is integrated with RGB Lighting that can be synchronised with all Phanteks RGB products and RGB motherboards. Tailored with Viton O-Ring, the C350i is durable, resistant to extreme temperatures and retains sealing performance for long periods of time.

Phanteks Announces the Glacier Series Water Cooling Fittings

Phanteks, the award-winning thermal cooling and chassis manfacturer, has expanded their products into water cooling. Designed to compliment and work seamlessly with their chassis, GPU and CPU water block, Phanteks is excited to announce their new line-up of Glacier Series Fittings. Consisting of soft tube and hard tube fittings, the fittings are ready for any style of watercooling.

The fittings are made from premium materials according to the finest standards of craftsmanship from Phanteks. The Glacier Fittings are CNC-machined from solid brass and precisely engineered to create a high flow design for extreme water cooling performance. VITON sealing from the Automotive and Aerospace Industries ensure the best reliability and longevity.

MSI Announces Aero ITX Line of Compact Graphics Cards

MSI today announced the Aero ITX line of short-length graphics cards that are mini-ITX friendly. The lineup is led by the GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC (and its non-overclocked variant); which is just 18.4 cm long, 14.4 cm tall, and 2 slots thick. Its cooler features a dense aluminium fin-stack to which heat drawn directly from the GPU are fed by three 8 mm-thick nickel plated copper heat pipes; and ventilated by a single 100 mm TorX fan. The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector; and serves up a factory-overclock of 1531 MHz core, 1721 MHz GPU Boost (against reference clocks of 1506/1683 MHz); and an untouched memory clock of 8.00 GHz (GDDR5-effective). The non-OC variant sticks to reference clocks, at a slightly lower price.

Moving on, there's the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB/3GB Aero ITX series, in OC and non-OC variants. All four cards are built on a common board design, with 17.5 cm length, and 11.5 cm height. The cooler is slightly lighter than the one that cools the GTX 1070 Aero ITX, and employs just one S-shaped 8 mm-thick heat pipe, passing through two ends of an aluminium fin-stack; ventilated by an 80 mm spinner. The GTX 1060 6GB Aero ITX OC ticks at 1544 MHz core, and 1759 MHz GPU Boost (vs. 1506/1709 MHz reference). The GTX 1060 3GB OC runs at 1544/1759 MHz. The non-OC variants run at reference speeds. The cards draw power from single 6-pin PCIe power connectors.

BIOSTAR RACING Series Motherboard Lineup for AMD RYZEN Announced

BIOSTAR is proud to announce the newest entry in its RACING Series family of high-performance motherboard with its debut entry for AMD with the BIOSTAR RACING X370 and B350 motherboard line up. Featuring the latest 2nd-generation RACING Series technology, the race to the future has just become more intense with support for the new AMD RYZEN processors.

True to the legacy of the BIOSTAR RACING series, the new motherboards for the Super 5 concept as well as the BIOSTAR's revolutionary VIVID LED Armor and 5050 LED Fun Zone. In conjunction with this are BIOSTAR's new improvement to component stability and performance with its new feature of Digital Power+ for overclocking and M.2 Cooling Protection. Also debuting with this model is the FLY.NET network performance software that works in tandem with the new DRAGON gaming LAN solution designed for gamers that want absolute network performance without lag when every second counts.

BIOSTAR and TechPowerUp Announce the Racing GT Giveaway

BIOSTAR and TechPowerUp are back with a 'racing' new giveaway, to celebrate the launch of BIOSTAR's Intel 200-series chipset based Racing GT series motherboards. These socket LGA1151 motherboards by BIOSTAR are designed with high-durability electrical components, and the grooviest RGB LED lighting. Open to participants from the United States and Mexico; up for grabs, are one BIOSTAR Racing Z270-GT6 high-end motherboard; and two BIOSTAR Racing B250-GT5. That's three lucky winners who stand to win one of BIOSTAR's very best! To stand a chance to win, all you have to do is fill up a short form (to help us identify you). Good Luck!
For more information, and to participate, visit this page.
Thursday, February 16th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Desktop PC
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Notebooks
Processors

AMD Ryzen Die Shot and New Architecture Details Revealed at ISSCC

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference held earlier this month, some solid information has come to surface on a subject near and dear to many enthusiast hearts right now: AMD's upcoming Ryzen CPU line.

As far as credibility, the information comes in fairly convincing form. AMD's claims are backed with die shots of actual AMD Ryzen cores and further supported by more shots of their CCX (core complex) modules. From these shots, we can guess at several things, and further more see evidence for several of their claims.

Arkane's New IP is Prey to AMD's Vega - Possible Hint at Launch Window

It all seems to go back to AMD these days, doesn't it? If it isn't the company's upcoming Ryzen CPUs that stand in the limelight (a rare thing nowadays, with a seemingly neverending amount of leaks around them and the accompanying AM4 platform), it's the company's Vega graphics architecture that makes waves with new info or new leaks.

Now, reports are coming in (with solid imagery at that) regarding a collaboration between Arkane and AMD, marrying Arkane's promising new IP, Prey, and AMD's upcoming Vega architecture. This may sound like an interesting, if not at all important, piece of information. But digging deeper, this is probably indication of Vega's expected launch window. Considering that AMD's woman of the moment, Lisa Su, has previously placed Vega's launch in Q2 2017 (spanning April, May, and June), and adding 1+1, this places AMD's Vega launch before Prey's - after all, it wouldn't make much sense to market a game as being optimized for a given architecture.... If users can't actually use it.

As an avid reader and story addict, I admit that Arkane's take on the world of Dishonored in its second iteration left me a little underwhelmed (though the worldbuilding, gameplay and art direction were simply sublime). However, judging from Prey's trailers and some hands-on impressions running the world wide web, it looks as if Arkane has again hit the proverbial nail in the head. And from what AMD promises, Vega will be here to power it when it launches on May 5th.

Source: PCGameshardware.de

Alphacool Presents the Eiswand Water Cooling Set

Alphacool presents the Eiswand ("Ice Wall"), a water cooling set for your CPU that can also be expanded on through its two quick-release connectors. For example, you could add one of the prefilled graphics card coolers in the Eiswolf GPX-Pro series, which would even add an extra pump to your system. You can find a fitting graphics card cooler using the configurator at http://www.hwconfig.com.

The Eiswand itself has two DC-LT low noise pumps built into its illuminated bottom. Even in the unlikely case that one of the two pumps fails, the cooling loop will continue to operate with only a marginal decrease in cooling performance. This means the Eiswand offers you enormous system stability.

The core component of the Eiswand is the 360mm full-copper radiator, which is equipped with six Eiswind fans. The fans' Push&Pull configuration gives you optimal cooling power. You can also use a Silent Adapter to severely restrict the pumps and fans, lowering the volume even more. Cooling power is only slightly reduced with the adapter.

ADATA Releases the XPG SX950 SSD and EX500 Enclosure

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the XPG SX950 SSD and its accompanying gaming-styled EX500 drive enclosure. Loaded with up to 960GB of 3D MLC NAND and driven by a SMI controller, the SX950 utilizes a custom ADATA PCB and is backed by an extra-strict chip sorting process to ensure an SSD that can handle prolonged high demand. Performance reaches 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write. Bearing the signature XPG look, the EX500 is aimed at gamers and case modders, boasting a textured enclosure and a vibrant yet aggressive feel. It arrives with a spacer and bracket for easy install on desktops and notebooks. For users that would like to use the SX950 as external storage, the EX500 offers a stylish, durable, and easy-install enclosure that pairs instantly with desktops, notebooks, and game consoles via high speed USB 3.1.

ADATA is completing its transition to stacked memory, or 3D NAND. This allows for SSDs with bigger capacities without a correlating increase in prices paid by end users. The SX950 uses durable 3D MLC (multi-level cell) NAND Flash and SMI controller. Consumers can choose from 240GB, 480B, and 960GB versions of the SX950. Not only denser (higher capacity), 3D NAND is also roughly 10% faster than 2D NAND and so the SX950 outpaces its predecessor, the SX930 - reaching 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write.

AMD Ryzen Motherboards' Packaging From ASUS, Gigabyte, BIOSTAR Leak

We've already covered some upcoming AM4 motherboards from a plethora of companies here, here, and here. Packaging for some of these AM4 motherboards from various manufacturers have now been leaked, with models from ASUS (namely, the X370-based Crosshair VI Hero and Prime X370-PRO); Gigabyte (AORUS AX-370 Gaming 5), as well as BIOSTAR (with two different chipsets making the rounds, the X370 through the Racing X370 GT7 and Racing X370 GT5 models; and the B350 chipset through their Racing B350 GT5 and B350 GT3) making the rounds.

Team Group Announces the T-FORCE DARK Series Memory Asus ROG Certified

Team Group, the world's leading memory brand, today officially announces the launch of the popular ASUS ROG certified memory product, the T-FORCE DARK memory. ROG (Republic Of Gamers) is a gaming brand established in 2006. It represents the ultimate performance and top quality that gamers around the world keep pursuing. Team Group's T-FORCE DARK memory is rigorously tested and certified by ASUS officials to obtain the ROG certification. Together with ASUS motherboards, the consumers can have all the top gaming hardware at once to fully enjoy an extreme gaming and entertainment experience.

T-FORCE DARK is both unique and eye catching thanks to its unique feature of being the first and only to utilize a four-piece heat-spreader in the industry. In addition to advancing from previous two-piece heat spreaders, it also adds a combination of two more arched fins to increase radiating area and provide up to 8% better dissipation performance than traditional heat spreaders. Besides ROG certification and performance improvements, its killer look of a dark knight's armor is combined with ROG's unique elements such as the ROG abstract patterns together with the mighty ROG log. Consumers can freely choose from the eye catching colors of black and red, or the calming colors of black and grey to build up the perfect gaming memory.

NVIDIA to Host GeForce GTX Gaming Celebration Event at GDC 2017

Not to be outdone by AMD, and making sure to keep the landscape populated with enough green, NVIDIA has announced its presence in the upcoming GDC 2017. Could this be the choice battleground for an announcement regarding the (now) almost mythical GTX 1080Ti?

Let's see what the company has to say: "You're invited to attend the GeForce GTX gaming celebration! Come join us for an evening of awesome PC gaming, hardware, tournaments and of course free food, drinks and a few other amazing surprises. Doors will open at 6:30 PM and the event will start promptly at 7 PM. The celebration will take place in downtown San Francisco, CA."

Let's just say that the company has history of announcing its top-of-the-line Ti models on GDC (much like it did with 2015's GTX 980 Ti), and that NVIDIA closes their announcement with a very tentative (if generic) "You won't want to miss this". And with rumors of AMD being prepared to show off its Vega architecture on the same day, as well as the expected release of its highly anticipated Ryzen CPUs, February 28th is looking out to be one of the best days of the year for enthusiasts.
Source: Eventbrite
Wednesday, February 15th 2017

Today's Reviews

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

Sniper Elite 4: Performance Analysis

We test Rebellion's new shooter on 10 modern graphics cards, with the latest game-optimized drivers from AMD and NVIDIA. A surprise is that AMD gains up to 27% performance from switching to DX12 with Async Compute, while the performance uplift for NVIDIA users is only up to 5%.

Super Flower Platinum King 650 W

The Super Flower Platinum King is a highly efficient, very affordable mid-capacity PSU, priced at €89. This 80PLUS Platinum rated unit delivered good overall performance in our testing and features a single +12V rail and non-modular cable design.

AMD Ryzen Reviews and Shipping Coming on February 28th

Slight update on the Ryzen Event: reports confirm that Ryzen samples are finding their way to reviewers' hands, with the company's NDA being lifted on the 28th February - and the launch of AMD's flagship 1800X, 1700X and (my favorite so far) 1700 models on the same day. The remaining models in AMD's 17-strong Ryzen product-line are expected to follow a little later, on March 2nd.

Early leaked benchmarks have hailed the Ryzen launch as the second coming of a competitive CPU landscape for the first time in years, and as a turning point for AMD's position in the market. Fingers crossed, people: competition (alongside sufficient supply) is the holy grail for a consumer's wallet. Let's hope this is the much-needed spark towards reviving the CPU market and inciting future product development.

TrendForce Reports Global DRAM Revenue Jumped 18.2% Sequentially in Q4 2016

Peak season demand and surging prices for DRAM products across different applications resulted in an 18.2% sequential growth in the global DRAM revenue for the final quarter of 2016, reports DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce.

Smartphone shipments peaked in the fourth quarter on account of the traditional busy season. Chinese smartphone brands continued to post strong sales while Apple benefitted from the release of iPhone 7. "Rising demand for mobile DRAM kept squeezing the industry's production capacity for PC DRAM," said Avril Wu, research director of DRAMeXchange. "Contract prices of PC DRAM modules increased by more than 30% sequentially on average in the fourth quarter due to insufficient market supply. Server DRAM lagged behind PC and mobile DRAM in terms of price hike during the same period, but it is expected to catch up in the first quarter of this year."

Creative Intros Tournament Edition Variants of its SoundBlasterX H7 and H5

Creative announced retail availability of new Tournament Edition variants of its SoundBlasterX H5 and SoundBlasterX H7 gaming headsets. The variants are characterized by large 50 mm drivers and cushioning designed for extended periods of gameplay (as in tournaments). Both are stereo headsets, but the H7 comes with a USB DAC that puts out virtual 7.1-channel audio, with support for 24-bit/96 kHz audio formats. The 50 mm drivers range between 20 Hz to 22 kHz, with 32Ω impedance, and 118 dB/mW sound-pressure sensitivity. The retractable microphone ranges between 100 Hz to 15 kHz, with 2.2Ω impedance. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ASUS Also Announces the DSL-AC88U Gaming Grade Modem Router

ASUS today announced DSL-AC88U, an ultra-fast AC3100 dual-band Wi-Fi modem router that supports the latest high-speed G.fast DSL standard as well as all existing ADSL, ADSL2/2+ and VDSL2 standards. DSL-AC88U is our fastest ever modem router, featuring cutting-edge Broadcom NitroQAM technology that delivers 1.25X-faster Wi-Fi speeds than standard four-stream (4x4) routers. This enables data rates of up to 2167Mbps on the 5GHz band and 1000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band - or a combined concurrent bandwidth of up to 3167 Mbps.

DSL-AC88U has family-friendly parental controls that allow users to monitor and filter internet activity, which can help to protect the online safety of younger family members. In addition to its wide compatibility with G.fast and existing DSL broadband services, DSL-AC88U can also connect to the internet via an Ethernet connection, such as those provided by fiber- or cable-modem-based ISPs. These outstanding connectivity options make DSL-AC88U a supremely flexible and future-proof choice for any home user.

ASUS Announces the ROG Strix Impact Gaming Mouse

ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced Strix Impact, a wired optical gaming mouse with a lightweight and ergonomic ambidextrous design optimized for multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games. Built with the essential qualities of lightness, speed, comfort, and durability that MOBA gamers need to triumph and have fun during marathon sessions, ROG Strix Impact is a reliable and effective gaming weapon.

Flexible customization options available in the intuitive ROG Armoury software let gamers change different aspects of the operation of ROG Strix Impact, and ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting lets them express their personal style and synchronize lighting with other Aura-enabled products. ROG Strix Impact is built to last with durable Omron switches that are rated to 50 million clicks. Thoughtful design details include a DPI switch and indicator to adjust tracking speed on the fly, and a low-friction, drag-free cable for fast, easy movement.

ADATA Intros the XPG SX950 SSD with 3D MLC NAND

ADATA launched the XPG SX950 line of performance segment SSDs, which it unveiled at the 2017 International CES expo. Available in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB capacities, these drives combine a Silicon Motion made controller with 3D MLC NAND flash memory, to belt out performance of up to 560 MB/s sequential reads, with up to 530 MB/s sequential writes; and up to 90,000 IOPS 4K read/write random access performance. The controller features SLC caching, with which the drives treats a small portion of the MLC NAND user area as SLC NAND, and juggles hot data in and out of this portion, for improved performance. Built in the 7 mm thick 2.5-inch form-factor, the drives take advantage of SATA 6 Gb/s interface. The company is backing these drives with an interesting 6-year product warranty.
Tuesday, February 14th 2017

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Networking
Notebooks
Processors
SSD

Steam Changes Indie Game Policy. For Better or Worse?

Valve has a right to be proud of their Steam platform. After all, it's become an essential part of any gamer's tool belt. Even if one does not buy games on the Steam store directly, many games require it as part of their DRM to activate and launch, and you will end up with Steam on your system anyway. Recently, Valve has been looking into ways to make their system more accessible to smaller companies and Indie Developers, and until now, Steam Greenlight has been the main way to allow for this.

Under Greenlight, for a fee of $100, a developer could put up as many games as they desired into the Steam platform, but they are not immediately put into the store. Rather, they are voted on by the community and only games that do well are allowed in. Steam Direct differs from this in that it gets rid of the community voting process and allows developers to publish directly for a fee that is paid for each title. This opens a new can of worms that depends entirely on how large this fee is. Valve is currently talking in the range of $100 to as high as $5,000 (based on a survey among developers).
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