Hardware Giveaway
Tuesday, September 25th 2018

Today's Reviews

Graphics Cards
Cougar PURI TKL Keyboard

Cougar PURI TKL Keyboard

We take a look at the Cougar PURI TKL today, a tenkeyless form factor keyboard using Cherry MX switches and white LED backlighting. Extensive onboard lighting controls and increased portability combined with a relatively low price point help make this a good value proposition today.

VIA Launches ALTA DS 3 Edge AI System Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E

VIA Technologies, Inc., today announced the launch of the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI system. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform, the system enables the rapid development and deployment of intelligent signage, kiosk, and access control devices that require real-time image and video capture, processing, and display capabilities.

The VIA ALTA DS 3 harnesses the cutting-edge compute, graphics, and AI processing capabilities of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform to facilitate the creation of vibrant new user experiences by allowing customers to combine their own AI applications with immersive multimedia signage display content in a compact, low-power system.

AMD May Regain ~30% Global Desktop CPU Market Share in Q4 2018, Says Digitimes

A report coming out of Digitimes earlier today forecasts AMD to continue their momentum in the desktop CPU market thus far in 2018, with as much as a 30% market share globally by the final quarter as per their correspondents. Their unnamed industry sources say, and we quote, "AMD has drastically changed its foundry strategy, loosening ties with Globalfoundries and contracting TSMC to fabricate its GPUs, server and PC processors on 7nm process. The policy change has sent AMD share prices rallying all the way since mid-2018 amid market expectations for better chip yield rates and performances as well as normal shipments to customers."

Intel's woes with the 14 nm process node has been reported before, let alone the troubled transition to the 10 nm process, which further helps AMD's case. The report further claims that board partners including ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte "have ramped up production and shipments of devices fitted with AMD processors, driving up the chipmaker's share of the desktop processor market to over 20% in the third quarter. The company is very likely to see the figure further rebound to the level of 30% again." This, in addition to the recently announced AMD EPYC implementation contracts with Cisco and HPE, can make that 30% number more plausible as well. It remains to be seen what the following months hold for Intel and AMD in the desktop processor market, but there is no denying that things are competitive in multiple segments at the same time, and that is always a good thing for the consumer.

Telltale Games Actively Working to Finish The Walking Dead's Final Season

When news broke late last week on Telltale Games entering majority closure, many feared that the final season of The Walking Dead game series would be cancelled without a resolution to Clementine's story. News then came out as to how the now-former employees of the studio were not being given severance pay and had to go about without compensation for a lot of their time on this game, and others. In retrospect, there were definitely larger issues to tackle first as many of their peers in the industry pointed out- especially when those former employees have filed a class action lawsuit in a federal court citing violation of labor laws.

It was interesting then that Telltale announced on Twitter that they were actively working to wrap up the pending two episodes for the season, with episode 2 having being released a few hours prior to when this post goes up. There are apparently multiple outside partners willing to help out, and they hope to get episodes 3 and 4 out "in some form". There are no promises or guarantees made, but between long-term fans wanting them to make the game season complete and others admonishing them for prioritizing this over pending payment of employees, Telltale Games is caught between a rock and a hard place. Whatever happens in the future, well, let's just say that we will all remember that.

Chrome 69 Adds Forced Login, Threatens Privacy: How to Fix it

There was a time when Chrome users could be safe and think that what they did in Google Services (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, etc) was separated from their actions in the browser. One thing wasn't necessarily tied to the other, but now things have changed - and without any public disclosure from Google.

Starting with the recently published Chrome 69, if you use this version of Chrome and log into any Google service or site, you will be automatically and magically logged into Chrome with that user account. A systems architect called Bálint disclosed a problem that changes Chrome behavior in a way that could potentially harm user's privacy.

NVIDIA Announces Availability of GeForce RTX 2070 Graphics Card - Cheapest Raytracing on October 17th

NVIDIA today announced official availability dates for what will forever be engraved in history as "the cheapest Turing" option - which contrary to what that might lead you to expect, isn't cheap at all. NVIDIA's RTX 2070 graphics card will be available starting October 17th, bringing the benefits of raytracing acceleration to a much lower price-point than the already-launched RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards.

That said, the RTX 2070 will still retail for $499 - a full $120 higher than NVIDIA's last-gen GTX 1070, and that's not counting what's being less-than-amicably called the "NVIDIA tax", which brings Founders' Editions pricing of the graphics cards up to $599, and allows AIB to increase pricing of their own designs up to that level - or higher. It's not a cheap option - especially considering how the RTX 2070 is now being built in the TU106 silicon, a smaller counterpart to the full-fledged TU104, and in contrast to the previous GTX 1070, which was built from the top-of-the-line chip).

GIGABYTE Teases AORUS GeForce RTX 2080, 2080 Ti Extreme Graphics Cards

GIGABYTE has begun teasing their enthusiast-class AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Extreme and RTX 2080 Ti Extreme graphics cards, which will stand at the pinnacle of the company's graphics cards lineup for the new NVIDIA series. The new AORUS graphics cards join the previously-announced five other RTX 20-series models. The later announcement of the flagship graphics cards likely means GIGABYTE was going through a time of GPU binning so as to only include the best silicon it could find on its top-of-the-line designs.

Intel Adds to Portfolio of FPGA Programmable Acceleration Cards

Intel today extended its field programmable gate array (FPGA) acceleration platform portfolio with the addition of the new Intel Programmable Acceleration Card (PAC) with Intel Stratix 10 SX FPGA, Intel's most powerful FPGA. This high-bandwidth card leverages the Acceleration Stack for Intel Xeon CPU with FPGAs, providing data center developers a robust platform to deploy FPGA-based accelerated workloads. Hewlett Packard Enterprise* will be the first OEM to incorporate the Intel PAC with Stratix 10 SX FPGA along with the Intel Acceleration Stack for Intel Xeon Scalable processor with FPGAs into its server offering.

"We're seeing a growing market for FPGA-based accelerators, and with Intel's new FPGA solution, more developers - no matter their expertise - can adopt the tool and benefit from workload acceleration. We plan to use the Intel Stratix 10 PAC and acceleration stack in our offerings to enable customers to easily manage complex, emerging workloads," said Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager, HPC and AI Group, HPE.

MSI Z390 Motherboard Lineup Detailed: Includes a "MEG GODLIKE"

MSI is ready with seven new socket LGA1151 (300-series) motherboard models based on Intel's upcoming Z390 Express chipset, which the company recommends to make the most out of its upcoming 8-core processors. Among MSI's new motherboards are the MEG Z390 GODLIKE, the MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon, MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Edge, the mini-ITX MPG Z390I Gaming Pro Edge, Z390 Gaming Plus, MAG Z390 Tomahawk, and the Z390-A Pro. MSI probably feels that everyone and their aunt are selling motherboards with the Gaming moniker it perfected, and wants to throw in more brand extensions to differentiate its products. The MEG brand, abbreviating "MSI Enthusiast Gaming," is top of the line, and debuted recently with the MEG X399 Creation. The MPG (MSI Performance Gaming) series is a notch below MEG, and covers the upper mid-range. The MAG (MSI Arsenal Gaming) covers the entry-mid range gaming-grade motherboards, including the popular Tomahawk and Mortar brands.

MSI positions the MEG Z390 GODLIKE as your go-to board to max out the Core i9-9900K with connectivity and features packed to the brim, combined with a strong CPU VRM setup to overclock the living daylights out of the 8-core chip. Clad in aluminium+ABS, including a back-plate, this board offers connectivity for up to five M.2 PCIe SSDs (including a riser card), a U.2 port, an HDMI streaming card that offloads your CPU for streaming, a massive 18-phase VRM that delivers HEDT-levels of current to your LGA1151 processor, and a monochrome LED display.

TechPowerUp and Lian Li Present LANCOOL ONE GOLD Limited Edition Giveaway

Lian Li made only five LANCOOL One Champagne Gold limited edition cases, ever. Three of these are up for grabs on TechPowerUp alone! The TechPowerUp Lian Li LANCOOL One Gold Giveaway presents you with a unique opportunity to win a rare Lian Li creation that combines sexy gold bling with legendary build quality and utility. These super-rare cases feature gold finished front panels, accented by matte white main body panels, white interiors, and contrasting tinted black tempered glass panels.

To win one of three cases we are giving away, simply fill up a form that lets us get back to you if you've won. You can add a chance by sharing the contest page on popular social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Google+, or even classic e-mail. Each platform gives you an extra chance, so you can have up to four extra chances. To get extra chances, you not only have to click on the share buttons, on the giveaway page, but also follow through on the appropriate platform (we can tell). The Giveaway is open Worldwide (wherever legal), from today (25th September) till 6th October. Good Luck!

For more information, and to participate, visit this page.

Cooler Master Enters the Mouse Mat Market, Releases MP860 RGB Gaming Mousepad

Cooler Master is extending its reach in the peripherals/accessory market with a weighty entry into the mousepad market. The Cooler Master MP860 RGB Gaming Mousepad does a good job of describing its form and function: it's a mousepad with RGB lighting capabilities. An RGB strip with 19 color spots lights around the mousepad in user-configurable neons, and sips power and configuration data (including pairing with other RGB hardware users may have) through a USB 3.0 port. Cooler Master managed to keep the RGB controllers and whatnots to a slim level, though, with none of the bulky protrusions usually found in other mousepad RGB solutions.

The MP860 RGB Gaming Mousepad features a dual-sided design with cloth and anodized aluminum. Dimensions are set at 360 x 260 x 6 to 10mm. The MP860 will be available in the UK starting next month for £79.99.

Clues Gather Regarding Possible New AMD Polaris (Re)Revision Launch

Clues have been popping here and there regarding a possible new Polaris revision being launched by AMD in the (relatively) near future. Speculation first reared its head regarding a revised "Polaris 30" silicon, allegedly being built for TSMC's 12 nm process - not unlike AMD's 2000-series Ryzen CPUs. The company has been enamored with trying out and adapting new foundry processes for its products as soon as possible, now that they've found themselves fabless and not having to directly support the R&D costs necessary for process node development themselves.

Some publications are pointing towards a 15% performance improvement being achieved on the back of this process change for Polaris - which, if achieved only via a new process implementation, would require clock speed increases that are higher than that. AMD has already launched their revised Polaris 20 RX 500 series, which built upon their RX 400 series (and Polaris 10) by upping the clocks as well. A smaller node would likely be associated with higher yields and decreased costs per finished chip, which would allow AMD to further reduce pricing/stabilize pricing while introducing a new product generation to tide users over until Navi is finally ready.
Monday, September 24th 2018

Today's Reviews

Desktop PC
Graphics Cards
Palit GeForce RTX 2080 Super Jetstream 8 GB

Palit GeForce RTX 2080 Super Jetstream 8 GB

Palit's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the company's flagship RTX 2080. It comes with a large triple-slot, dual-fan cooler and an overclock out of the box, to 1860 MHz, which is a 60 MHz increase over the Founders Edition.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti PCI-Express Scaling

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti PCI-Express Scaling

It takes a lot of bandwidth to support the fastest graphics card, especially one that can play anything at 4K 60 Hz, with an eye on 120 Hz. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti could be the most bandwidth-heavy non-storage PCIe device ever built. PCI-Express gen 3.0 is facing its design limits.

FromSoftware Features Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice With New 12-minute Gameplay

FromSoftware and publisher Activision have been busy showing off their upcoming game title Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which was first shown off at the Sony E3 event back in June this year, and then at Gamescom when our attention was mostly taken up with the NVIDIA Turing graphics announcements. The Tokyo Game Show (TGS) for this year has just wrapped up, and rounding off a series of console-only news was more gameplay footage from this very game which has many describing it as a multi-platform analogue to the Playstation-exclusive Bloodborne, similar to what the multi-platform Dark Souls was to the Playstation-exclusive Demon Souls before. Although the world itself here could not be much more different than Bloodborne, given it is FromSoftware's take on feudal Japan, there are certainly some familiar mechanics at work.

This means that boss fights are a key aspect of the game, and at TGS the released gameplay footage also included a new boss reveal- the Corrupted Monk. From the amount of footage released thus far, it seems apparent that combat in the game will be just as challenging as other games from the developer. Another thing to note is the color palette for the game is a lot brighter than the usual offering from the studio, which they have decided only makes the bloodworks during combat all the more contrasting. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice releases March 22, 2019 and is up for pre-order on Steam for $60, if you were so inclined.

HTC Now Shipping the Vive Wireless Adapter for $299

The promise of cordless, wireless, true freedom-of-movement VR gaming has been somewhat of an elusive unicorn, but HTC have finally taken one of the larger steps in that quest. After more than a year showing of the untethering wireless tech for the Vive headset, HTC has now begun shipping of the add-on. It's going for $299 - whether or not that price is justified in the current state of VR, and adding to the base headset's pricing, is something that is reserved for each prospective buyers' judgment. There are two months of Viveport added in the mix, though - that does virtually lower the entry pricing.

The adapter has a range of 6 meters, which should be enough for freedom-defining VR experiences - up to two hours in length at a time, of course. The data stream has been developed around Intel's WiGig tech, alongside DisplayLink's IP. Vive Pro owners, however, are being left in the cold already, in a move that will surely bring headaches to HTC - takers of the top-tier headset will have to splurge an additional $60 for a compatibility enabler for the new Vive Wireless Adapter. Ouch?

Acer Announces XZ1-Series of FreeSync, Curved Gaming Monitors - VA WQHD, 144 Hz, HDR10 Ready

Acer has announced two incoming budget-yet-premium gaming monitors to power AMD's FreeSync-supporting graphics cards. The new XZ1 series will come in 27" (XZ271U) and 31.5" (XZ321QU), thus appealing to two different market segments. The new monitors both sport a 144 Hz, 1 ms, 16:9 VA panel with WQHD (2560 x 1440) resolution. Both are curved affairs; contrast stands at 3000:1; color coverage is at 85% of the NTSC color-space; and we're saying they are HDR10 ready because with their maximum brightness of 250 and 300 cd/m², respectively, they'll never be able to showcase the tiniest amount of HDR10 detail. Like the initial HD ready TVs which only supported 720p resolution but could process higher-density images, so does this HDR10 badge not mean there's an actual ability to properly display HDR10 content as it was meant to be.

Connectivity stands at 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x mini DisplayPort 1.2, and 2x HDMI 2.0 headers. There are two 7 W stereo speakers and a headphone jack in each monitor, as well as a quad-port USB 3.0 Type-A hub. The stands can tilt between -5 to 25 degrees, swivel +/- 25 degrees, and provide height adjustments of up to 120 mm. Both panels can now be purchased at Amazon.com, with pricing set at $527 and $550 respectively (not final retail pricing for the Americas).

NetGear Releases the Insight Instant VPN Business Router (BR500) - Automatic, Integrated VPN

Netgear releases the first Insight Managed Security router, Insight Instant VPN Business Router (BR500), to enable small businesses or remote office/branch office (ROBO) installations to offer instant access to their office intranet through a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) from anywhere in the world.

This new router is also designed to interconnect up to 3 offices as if they were connected locally, regardless of their geographical location.

Kingston Also Announces the HyperX Fury RGB SSD

In addition to the Savage EXO, Kingston also announced the HyperX Fury RGB series internal SSDs. These drives are characterized by RGB LED diffusers lining the top panels of the drives. Besides SATA 6 Gbps and SATA Power, each drive features a micro USB port that lets you not only use it as a portable drive, but also lets you plug the drive either into a standardized ARGB header of your lighting controller, or a USB header on your motherboard, for software control. The drive is sold in two packages - the base package includes only the drive and a license to Acronis True Image. The Bundle package, on the other hand, also includes a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch spacer, a portable SSD enclosure, USB cables, and a multi-function screwdriver.

Moving on to the drive itself, the HyperX Fury RGB combines a Marvell 88SS1074 controller with 3D TLC NAND flash memory. The drive comes in capacities of 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB. Sequential transfer rates for all models is rated at up to 550 MB/s reads, with up to 480 MB/s writes, although you could expect reduced performance in the USB-powered external drive mode. Endurance numbers (total bytes written) are 120 TB, 240 TB, and 480 TB, for the 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB variants, respectively. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Kingston Intros HyperX Savage EXO Portable SSD

Kingston today introduced the HyperX Savage EXO line of portable SSDs. Sized not much bigger than the likes of the Patriot Evolvr, and weighing just 56 g, the Savage EXO is priced in a lower bracket, and takes advantage of USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps), rather than Thunderbolt 3. The drive comes in capacities of 480 GB and 960 GB. Both variants offer sequential transfer rates of up to 550 MB/s reads, with up to 400 MB/s writes. It supports USB 3.1 type-C to type-C and type-C to type-A cabling. We are awaiting pricing information.

Linux Community Hit by the Blight of Social Justice Warfare, A Great Purge is Coming

Through the 1990s, Microsoft had become a super-corporation threatening to monopolize all of computing. A band of talented developers got together with lawyers that could fish out loopholes in proprietary licenses, and with some generosity from big software, Linux grew from a scrappy Unix-like OS kernel to the preeminent operating system for enterprises at first, and handheld consumer electronics later. Today it's most popular operating system on the planet. Like every big organization, the Linux Foundation is hit by employee-activism.

Employee-activism is the new unionism. Whereas trade-unions of the old fought for tangible bread-and-butter issues affecting blue-collar folk of the early Industrial era, today's employee-activist is an intellectual predator seeking to maximize their organizational footprint on the backs of other people echoing their political ideas, often through blatant insubordination and disregard for the chain of command. Survival of the fittest has changed to "survival of the loudest." From forcing Linus Torvalds to apologize for speaking his mind in public, to coming up with a new Code of Conduct document, social-justice activism within the Linux Foundation threatens to devolve the culture of meritocracy to a toxic "safe space" prioritizing inclusion of identity rather than skill, as HardOCP comments. A major blow-back from the meritocrats is taking shape.

More Buyers for AMD Due to Intel CPU Shortages, OEMs Unhappy

Intel is hit by crippling inventory shortages for many of its fast-selling 8th generation Core desktop processor SKUs. A number of factors are contributing to these shortages, as we discussed in this article. A key short-term consequence of shortages in Intel's inventories is more uninitiated buyers discovering AMD processors, now that they've achieved the highest levels of competitiveness against Intel in over a decade. Stock market analyst firm Jefferies has raised AMD's outlook for Q4-2018, and projects that its $30 stock price could hit $36, by raising its target price.

OEMs are not happy with Intel. Haphazard roadmap and platform changes have forced them to revise their product designs way too frequently, and now they're faced with the prospect of a short-supply. A report from research firm Fubon predicts that by next year, 1 in every 3 personal computers sold by HP (Hewlett Packard) will run an AMD processor. "Fubon's report that Intel will undersupply the PC market between 4Q18 and 2Q19 leaves us with higher conviction that AMD will report improving revenue, pricing and margins near term, and that is positioned to take share in the high end PC MPU and server market long term," said stock market analyst Mark Lipacis. He predicts that AMD's CPU market-share climbing to 30% through next year (a very huge feat for AMD).

Intel Targets 5G Infrastructure with Latest Silicon Photonics Technology

Intel today announced details on the expansion of its portfolio of 100G silicon photonics transceivers beyond the data center and into the network edge. At the European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) in Rome, Intel unveiled specifics on new silicon photonics products that are optimized to accelerate the movement of massive amounts of data being generated by new 5G use cases and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The latest 100G silicon photonics transceivers are optimized to meet the bandwidth requirements of next-generation communications infrastructure while withstanding harsh environmental conditions.

"Our hyperscale cloud customers are currently using Intel's 100G silicon photonics transceivers to deliver high-performance data center infrastructure at scale. By extending this technology outside the data center and into 5G infrastructure at the edge of the network, we can provide the same benefits to communications service providers while supporting 5G fronthaul bandwidth needs," said Dr. Hong Hou, vice president and general manager of Intel's Silicon Photonics Product Division.
Friday, September 21st 2018

Today's Reviews

Graphics Cards
Lian Li PC-O11 Air

Lian Li PC-O11 Air

The Lian Li PC-O11 Air is a more affordable variant of the Dynamic, which has been co-developed between Lian Li and Der8auer. It swaps some of the more elaborate building materials, adds fans, and sports a lower price tag - all to appease to a broader, mainstream market.

Telltale Games Enters Majority Closure, Walking Dead Finale Reportedly Cancelled

In what will likely hit more than a few PC gamers hard, Telltale Games- the studio behind The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands and more- will be closing. The studio currently maintains only a skeleton crew of 25 out of what once was an estimated 250 employees at peak. Sadly, the employees that were let go received no severance pay, while those remaining have been tasked with completing a single final project. Reports as to the final project are conflicting, but it appears to be the Minecraft Story Mode project for Netflix. Either way, it is the studio's last gasp as it attempts to fulfill various obligations. Meanwhile, projects like The Walking Dead final season, The Wolf Among Us 2 and others have been outright canceled.

With the whirlwind of activity surrounding the closure is still ongoing, the hashtag #TelltaleJobs on Twitter has currently begun to take off with offers from various studios letting former Telltale staff know they should apply. These studios include, but are not limited to ZeniMax Online Studios, Sony Santa Monica, PUBG corp, Gearbox and many more. While Telltale Games have been experiencing some troubles over the last year or so, its closing was still unexpected. More pressing is, what happens next for those that purchased the entire final season of The Walking Dead- with only one episode out, there is no word yet on what will happen to those that purchased it.

Update:One of the major reasons behind the closure can likely be traced to falling sales, likely leaving the company in a tough position.
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