Tuesday, November 20th 2018

Today's Reviews

Accessories
Cases
Cooling
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Notebooks
Processors
PSUs
SSD
Storage
Hitman 2 Benchmark Performance Analysis

Hitman 2 Benchmark Performance Analysis

Hitman 2 is the latest installment in the epic contract-killer series. IO Interactive has expanded on their winning concepts from the previous title with larger, more detailed maps giving you even more unique ways to take out your target. We tested the game's performance using all the latest graphics cards, including GeForce 20 RTX and RX 590.
Onikuma K5 Gaming Headset

Onikuma K5 Gaming Headset

Costing a mere $25, the Onikuma K5 isn't a gaming headset you'd dare expect a lot from. Surprisingly enough, it manages to beat some competitors two or three times its price in some aspects, which means you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Kailh SUN Switches Show up in Hexgears GK760 Keyboard

We first saw the new SUN switches from Kailh back at Computex this year, featuring centralized and bright lighting incorporated in mechanical switches that also offered a lower-than-average actuation and travel distance. At the 2018 Electronica tradefair in Munich, Kailh showed off the first retail keyboard to make use of these switches in the form of the Hexgears GK760.

Hexgears is a Chinese startup company in collaboration with Andrew Lekashman of Input Club fame, and already has an interesting keyboard in the form of the X-1 low profile wireless unit. The new GK760 is a full-size keyboard with 104 keys and ABS plastic keycaps, which also appear to be low in profile even though the actual switches are not necessarily so. This makes for a confusing choice, but we will hold judgement until we get our hands on one ourselves. There is an entire column of programmable G-keys (macro keys), as well as a dedicated volume scroll wheel and a thick plushy wrist rest to go along with a keyboard case with angles galore to provide an aesthetic different than the usual, while still looking clean and minimalist. We can also see what appear to be two USB passthrough ports, and secondary legends on the keycaps indicate lots of onboard control as well. No word yet on retail availability and pricing, and we look forward to seeing more of the keyboard and the new Kailh switches in action.

Microsoft Accounts Now Support Hardware-based Login via FIDO 2

FIDO 2 has been making the rounds for a while as a hardware solution that replaces the dated usage of passwords. Via a hardware token, users with a FIDO 2-enabled drive are able to skip manual introduction of any authentication in both Windows (version 1809 and up) or any supporting website (with a browser that supports the FIDO 2/WebAuthn API. It basically creates a security key using cryptography, where the user only has to press a button on the security key to log into a website. Microsoft has partnered with Yubico for a while now on developing this security mechanism, and the company's FIDO 2 keys are now compatible with the OS.

Cooler Master Announces the MP750 Soft RGB Mousepad

Cooler Master today unveiled a mousepad solution to round out their accessories offerings. The new mousepad is designed to withstand accidental spillage of an assortment of energy drinks and coffee (but mainly water) with its water repellent design. There's also RGB lighting integrated in the mousepad, so this is a combination of function and form alike. The accessory achieves this resistance to splash damage by using a coating on a finely textured mesh fabric construction with a seamless hand stitching on the edges - it isn't one of those composite-made mousepads.

A rubber base ensure friction will keep the pad from moving around in your desk, and the LED connector is present on the top left of the mousepad. There's an offering of an M (370 x 270 mm), L(470 x 350 mm), and XL (940 x 380 mm). All pad sizes are 3 mm thick, and the LEDs support light schemes and modes via a button on the mousepad itself, or via Cooler Master's software suite. The MP750 will be available at Cooler Master selected resellers including Amazon and Newegg, respectfully, for $/€34.99 (M), $/€44.99 (L), and $/€54.99 (XL) in late November.

NEC Unveils MultiSync EA271U 4K UHD Monitor

NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a leading provider of commercial LCD displays and projectors, today announced the availability of the 27" MultiSync EA271U, a full-featured, business-class desktop display delivering superior 4K UHD image quality and enhanced USB-C connectivity.

The EA271U features a 3-sided ultra-narrow bezel of just 1.00mm, designed to eliminate distractions while delivering a large desktop workspace that enhances productivity for high-end corporate and small-business customers. The EA271U is also compatible with NEC Display's SprectraViewII color calibration tool, which is ideal for healthcare and education users who need advanced imaging quality.

GIGABYTE Intros X399 Aorus Pro Motherboard at $270

GIGABYTE began shipping its second socket AMD TR4 motherboard since 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper launch, the X399 Aorus Pro. If you've been paying attention to GIGABYTE's new nomenclature for Aorus, the "Pro" SKU is slotted between what was "Gaming 3" and "Gaming 5," making this GIGABYTE's most affordable TR4 motherboard, positioned below the X399 Gaming 7, and a far cry from the range-topping X399 Aorus Xtreme. The board ships with out-of-the-box support for 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper processors. GIGABYTE appears to have reused the same exact PCB as the X399 Gaming 7, but with aesthetic updates and cost-cutting. The board's design scheme (I/O shroud and heatsink designs) are somewhat aligned with its newer generation design aesthetic introduced with its Z390 Aorus family.

Cost cutting over the X399 Gaming 7 comes in the form of the I/O shroud no longer running the entire length of the PCB, only one out of three M.2 slots getting a SSD heatsink, only two out of five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots getting full metal reinforcement, and the lack of a WLAN module. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, and 4-pin ATX, and uses an 8-phase VRM to power the CPU. Expansion slot layout is unchanged from the Gaming 7, with two x16 slots running at x16, and two taking 8 lanes from them. A fifth x16 slot is gen 2.0 x4. All three M.2 PCIe slots are wired to the CPU. The onboard audio solution is carried over, with Realtek ALC1220 CODEC, WIMA capacitors, and ground-layer isolation. The sole networking interface is a 1 GbE pulled by an Intel i211-AT controller. Available now, the GIGABYTE X399 Aorus Pro is priced at $270, a whole Benjamin cheaper than what the Aorus X399 Gaming 7 launched at.

EVGA Gives Away "Battlefield V" with GeForce RTX Graphics Cards

NVIDIA GeForce RTX delivers the ultimate PC gaming experience. Game with the unparalleled realism and performance of the new NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and revolutionary RTX platform as you enter mankind's greatest conflict where no two victories are ever alike. This is a whole new way to experience games. Now, for a limited time, purchase a qualifying EVGA GeForce RTX graphics card and get Battlefield V. See more details and qualifying EVGA GeForce RTX graphics cards here.

DRAM Price-Fix Uncovered in China, 'Massive Evidence' Against Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron

The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation has been conducting an anti-monopoly investigation of the global Dynamic RAM market. According to an interview of Wu Zenghou (bureau's head) in the Financial Times, this process has found "massive evidence" against the three companies (Samsung, Hynix, and Micron) that are responsible for the vast majority of this segment. "The anti-monopoly investigation into these three companies has made important progress", points out the investigator. On April these three companies were hit with a price-fixing suit on the same matter in the US, and this investigation seems to confirm those reports.

There is even an older precedent, as Samsung and Hynix were fined both by the US Department of Justice in 2005 and by the European Commission in 2010 on price-fixing allegations. The charges now are similar, and if the companies are found guilty, they could face fines of over $2.5 billion. Some analysts suggest this investigation could be part of the trade war between China and the US, with the former trying to get some leverage pushing the Chinese semiconductor company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit as a bigger player on this market. One that, by the way, is being investigated on allegations of misappropriated trade secrets from Micron. Samsung and SK Hynix have accused China DRAM makers of industrial espionage, too.

Roccat Announces Renga Boost Gaming Headset

After the success of the original Renga released in 2016, ROCCAT refreshes the stereo headset and brings it back to the market as the ROCCAT Renga Boost. Offering studio grade high quality sound, the Renga Boost will charm gamers with its discreet all-black look, its amazing acoustic performance and its superior lightweight comfort. Designed for gamers in search of a premium audio experience, the Renga Boost's 50mm neodymium drivers provide crisp trebles and deep, powerful bass. The optimal alignment of the drivers ensures an immersive and dynamic experience as well as a perfect fit to the ears.

For long-lasting gaming sessions, the Renga Boost offers superior comfort. With earcup ventilation, an ergonomic snug-fit headband and plush ear cushions it ensures a remarkable level of comfort. At only 210g it is 30% lighter than competing headsets, yet using a solid structural housing designed for hardcore use.

ADATA Launches XPG INFAREX K10 Keyboard and M20 Mouse

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules and NAND Flash products, today announced the launch of two new gaming accessories, the XPG INFAREX K10 keyboard, and M20 mouse. Designed to enhance gaming experiences, the K10 keyboard sports nine LED lighting modes, anti-ghosting keys, and ergonomic keycaps, while the M20 mouse features durable OMRON switches, five-setting adjustable DPI, and RGB lighting.

The XPG K10 adds a new dimension to gaming with nine stunning LED lighting modes to choose from, allowing gamers to select the hue that best suits the games they are playing. The modes include - Flowing Light, Multicolor Breathing, Seven-Color Cycle Flickering, Switchable Static, Six-Color Cycle Breathing, Red and White Breathing Cycle, Red and White Cycle Flickering, White Static, and White Breathing. What's more, the K10 helps gamers up their game with some great features including 26 anti-ghosting keys to prevent missed or accidental keypresses, because in the heat of the moment a missed keypress could spell defeat. In combination with its ergonomically curved keycaps, the K10 improves accuracy, while also offering a comfortable keypress experience. Convenient Media Keys allow for quick adjustments of music, sound, or other effects in the middle of a battle without having to open other programs or app.

Microsoft Works On Xbox Without Optical Disc Drive

Microsoft is working on the first major game console to lack physical game media, targeted at markets where downloaded content is prevalent. The console could be a variant of the existing Xbox One / Xbox One S, but will be slightly cheaper for lacking the roughly-$25 optical drive. For those stuck with physical copies of games, Microsoft could roll out a "disc-to-digital" programme that converts your physical disc ownership to a digital ownership.

The way "disc-to-digital" works is you take your physical games to a participating brick-and-mortar retailer, who will verify that the disc is authentic (you probably wouldn't need to provide proof of purchase). Once a disc is deemed authentic, the authorised retailer will keep the physical copy in exchange to adding the game to your Xbox account. To play the game, simply download it to your console's hard drive and play. You can also download to external USB storage devices if your hard drive runs out of space. For some regions, there could even be "mail-in" services. Microsoft could target very specific markets with the console, in which Internet access is both affordable and fast, and in which there already are many customers with large digital libraries. The company is unlikely to stop selling consoles with optical drives, but those will be slightly pricier.

Valve Says Goodbye to Steam Link But Will Continue to Offer Support

Valve seemed to have the ambition to become a hardware company when he launched peripherals like his Steam Link and its Steam Controller. The scope of these products has been limited, and now the company reports that "the supply of physical Steam Link hardware devices is sold out in Europe and almost sold out in the US". Valve has discontinued the product, although the company will continue to offer support for the Steam Link.

The idea was (and still is) really nice: any decent PC or laptop can be converted into a video game and even video content server, allowing the user to enjoy those experiences on much less powerful devices through an Ethernet or a good wireless connection. They started supporting Linux and Windows desktop and laptops, but Steam Link made it possible to stream video games to Android devices (Apple rejected the application for iOS) and Samsung Smart TVs. The product, announced in 2015, therefore says goodbye, although surely those who already have it will be able to continue enjoying it for a long time.

G.SKILL Launches Trident Z Royal Series DDR4 RGB Memory Kits

G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is launching Trident Z Royal series DDR4 RGB memory kits, featuring a patent-pending full-length crystalline light bar upon a polished heatspreader in gold or silver with stunning 8-zone RGB lighting. The patent of the crystalline design on PC components has been applied for across major countries. Available in high-speed specifications, the Trident Z Royal is first available from DDR4-3000MHz to DDR4-4600MHz at launch. With the perfect marriage of RGB lighting and speed, the Trident Z Royal is the ideal memory kit for any high-class system build.

Trident Z Royal is the latest addition to the Trident Z flagship family, featuring a crown jewel design. Meticulously crafted to display just the right amount of light refraction, the crystalline light bar scatters the RGB colors in a magnificent display of LED lighting. Complementing the patented high-class light bar design, polished aluminum heatspreaders of gold or silver colors cools the memory modules in the award-winning classic Trident Z tri-fin design. And to help maintain the pristine shine of the heatspreaders, each Trident Z Royal memory kit comes with a piece of microfiber cloth to let you wipe away fingerprints and dust.

Hodlers Dump Crypto for X'mas? ETH and BTC at Yearly Lows

Prices of the two top crypto-currencies with DIY and small-scale miners, Ethereum and Bitcoin, dropped to yearly lows Monday, with Ethereum falling just a touch below USD $140, and Bitcoin at $4,700. This is in stark contrast to January, when Bitcoin scraped $20,000, making it among the most valuable "currencies" in human history. The direct impact of the crypto-currency slide falls on graphics card prices, at least for currencies which are viable to mine with graphics cards.

Across the board, new graphics card prices are at record lows for the year, with AMD's flagship Radeon RX Vega 64 going for as low as $399 brand-new. These cards were priced upwards of $1,500 and barely available this January. The RX 580, which was priced upwards of $700 in January, can be had for under $200. Prices of NVIDIA "Pascal" graphics cards are similarly low, with the GTX 1070 Ti going for under $400. For whatever strange reason, the GTX 1080 Ti is still marked up, selling for prices on par with RTX 20-series SKUs such as the RTX 2080. You can also expect a torrent of used graphics cards on E-bay and tech forums.
Monday, November 19th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Storage
1MORE Dual Driver In-ears

1MORE Dual Driver In-ears

1MORE's Dual Driver is the new younger brother to the critically acclaimed Triple Driver In-ears. It inherits the exterior design of the Triple Driver, which is great as it has proven both durable and comfortable. However, on the Inside, the Dual Driver is completely new, featuring one large dynamic driver with graphene coating and one balanced armature tweeter.

Post-process Injector, ReShade 4.0 Released, Offers Numerous Enhancements

Generic post-processing injector, ReShade, which offers SMAA anti-aliasing, screen space ambient occlusion, depth of field, and many other effects, has been updated to version 4.0. More than just a version update the ReShade FX compiler has received a complete overhaul having been made fully standalone as of this release. These changes bring performance improvements, better error recovery, improved support for code features, and even opens up the ability to add Vulkan support since it can now generate HLSL, GLSL, and SPIR-V. With a change-log packed with enhancements changes and new features, Crosire, the author also reworked the UI. Not only can the new UI be customized by the user, but it also includes new features such as an in-game code editor and texture preview.

While it should be noted that due to the compiler change some effects may no longer compile or work properly in version 4.0. However, these effects just need to be updated by their authors to work with the latest release. Going forward it is likely smaller revisions and updates will be forthcoming with a version 4.0.1 already having surfaced with further fixes. Sadly, even with these quick fixes, teething issues continue beyond the few broken effects by other authors. Some games like Diablo 2 and Arma 3 are proving problematic for some users of the latest ReShade version. Even so, with further updates should see these issues resolved, however for those enjoying those two games, in particular, can roll back to 3.4.1 which remains a fairly stable release.
The Change-log follows.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.11.2 Beta Drivers

AMD today made available the latest version of their Radeon software drivers, Adrenalin Edition 18.11.2, for supported graphics solutions. This brings with it support for the hotly anticipated Battlefield V game title, as well as some fixes to issues that users have been awaiting. Driver software notifications no longer list erroneously the current installed driver version and, more importantly, the annoying bug affecting some RX Vega users of elevated memory clocks even during system idle states has been resolved.

The driver also brings with it support for a Vulkan extension, VK_AMD_memory_overallocation_behavior, that "allows controlling whether explicit overallocation beyond the device memory heap sizes is allowed or not" as AMD puts it themselves. Things are not all rosy, however, with known issues including potential crashing of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey at some locations on Windows 7 systems and possible mouse lag with multi-display setups with at least one display enabled but powered off. This is disappointing considering an older driver update from September had seemingly fixed it too. The drivers are up for download at the link below, hosted directly on TechPowerUp for your convenience, and the change log is available past the break for those interested.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.11.2

Bad Times for Motherboard and GPU Makers: Oversupply and High Prices in 1H19

The "sustained chill in the crypto mining sector" is, according to Taiwan-based sources cited at DigiTimes, one of the leading reasons motherboard and graphics cards makers will face a bleak scenario in the next few months. According to those sources, other factors such as the US-China trade war doesn't help a situation on which NVIDIA new RTX family hasn't helped due to the high price of those GPUs. ASUSTeK Computer and Gigabyte Technology have seen their inventory levels drive up, "causing their revenues for the peak season to fall under expectations".

These problems now join the ones Intel is facing with its shortage of processors, and according to DigiTimes, revenue prospects for the fourth quarter are further dimmed by lingering sluggish demand from the DIY market among other things. To counteract these problems those companies could actually be could be further adversely affected: "Nvidia and Intel likely to raise their chip prices to maintain profitability", a move that could lead to a bleak profitability period starting in 2019.

Scythe Announces Katana 5 CPU Cooler

Japanese cooling expert Scythe presents the fifth generation of its popular all-round Katana CPU cooler. This new version comes with a revamped asymmetric heatsink design and total height of only 135 mm, offering unrestricted compatibility to mainboards and memory modules. The second generation of the Easy Clip Mounting System (E.C.M.S) assures a fast and easy installation process. Another key innovation of the Katana 5 is the newly developed Kaze Flex 92 PWM fan. It combines the high-quality Sealed Precision Fluid Dynamic Bearing with anti-vibration rubber spacers for silent operation and long lifespan.

The Katana series ever since the initial release aimed for great versatility. Scythe underlines this further with the release of the Katana 5, which offers optimum performance at compact dimensions and an advanced multi-socket mounting system at a competitive price. The fifth generation offers even more added value by incorporating a band new asymmetric heatsink design for unrestricted compatibility to both mainboard components and memory modules. In addition to that, all three high-quality copper heatpipes as well as the massive copper-baseplate have been nickel-plated for the fifth generation. This upgrade protects the copper from corrosion and lets Katana 5 look more unified.

Kingmax Intros Zeus PX3480 M.2 NVMe SSD Series

KINGMAX Technology Inc., the world's leading provider of memory products, today is proud to announce the launch of Zeus M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Gen3x4 SSD PX3480. Along with the growing demands for smaller yet faster storage, M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs are getting more and more popular for its incredible performance and compact size. In order to fulfill different storage needs with more product offerings, KINGMAX releases M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Gen3x4 SSD PX3480 which is compatible with most M.2 NVMe 1.3 standard supported devices including ultrabooks and gaming laptops. Optimized with the PCIe NVMe specifications and 3D NAND technology, the M.2 SSD PX3480 delivers breakthrough sequential R/W speeds and wide-ranging capacity choices of up to 1TB, which is especially ideal for gaming enthusiasts and multitaskers who are trying to get in the game faster or store more of their important media contents.

ID-Cooling Releases AURAFLOW X 240 Budget RGB AIO Water Cooler

ID-COOLING a cooling solution provider focusing on thermal dissipation and fan technology research and production for over 10 years, announced AURAFLOW X 240 AIO water cooler, featuring the newly developed powerful pump and 12V RGB lighting on both the pump and fans at the same time synchronizing with motherboard RGB control.

AURAFLOW X 240 is equipped with the newly developed powerful pump which has the flow rate reaching up to 106L/H, lift range 1.3m H2O. The pump block has a micro-fin copper base to ensure the best cooling performance. Power connector is 3pin with a 3pin to Molex adapter to help ensure 12V constant input to ensure maximum cooling performance. It also comes with a standard 12V RGB connector.

ASUS ROG Strix B450-E Gaming Starts Selling

With multi-GPU on the decline, AMD Ryzen platform buyers are drawn to the mid-range AMD B450 chipset-based motherboards as the chipset still offers CPU overclocking features not available on its Intel counterpart, the B360 Express, helping buyers save money over X470-based products. Motherboard vendors, seeing a potential for enthusiasts seeking out B450, have each launched quasi-premium motherboards based on the chipset, such as the GIGABYTE Aorus B450 Pro, MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon, and ASUS ROG Strix B450-F Gaming. ASUS is taking this concept further with the better-endowed new ROG Strix B450-E Gaming. This product is interesting, because ASUS hasn't yet launched a Strix-E SKU based on the AMD X470. The company included a mention of the product in its launch reveal for its AMD B450 motherboard series, and is beginning to roll the product out.

The ASUS ROG Strix B450-E Gaming features a more premium CPU VRM than even the Strix X470-F, with a "12-phase" (likely blind-doubled 8-phase CPU with either blind-doubled 4-phase vSOC or 2+1+1), compared to the B450-F, with its 8-phase (4 CPU + 4 SOC) design. The component quality is a step up from the Strix B450-F, and so are the VRM heatsinks. ASUS added metal reinforcement for two of the board's three PCI-Express x16 slots, although the second and third slots are x4. You also get two M.2-2280 slots, one of which comes with SSD heatsink. Intel i211-AT wired 1 GbE and Intel 9260 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5 WLAN, take care of networking. The onboard audio solution is unchanged from the Strix B450-F. The ROG Strix B450-E Gaming is priced around 149.99€.

QNAP Launches the Mustang-200 Computing Accelerator Card

QNAP Systems, Inc. today launched the Mustang-200 dual-CPU computing accelerator card with 10GbE network connectivity (available with Intel Core i5 / Core i7 / Celeron processors). By installing the card in a compatible QNAP NAS' (or PC's) PCIe slot, users will essentially add two processors to their system for increased computing capabilities to provide a flexible performance boost to their IT infrastructure and applications.

"As QNAP NAS evolves to support a wider range of applications, users need more storage space as well as higher computing capabilities for their NAS system. With the Mustang-200 dual-CPU computing accelerator card, users can instantly boost their system's processing power, which is especially ideal solution for surveillance, virtualization, and AI applications," said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP.

The Internet is Becoming QUIC - New HTTP/3 Protocol Improves UDP, Increases Internet's Responsiveness

As the internet evolves and becomes more of the organic, ever-evolving system that it has been coming towards, there is a need to leave behind old protocols that have served us well - but that are now standing in the way of progress. It's always like that with (but not limited to) technology, and now, it's time for TCP's (Transmission Control Protocol) review. The idea is for it to make way for its leaner, faster cousin with some upgrades: the Google-proposed - and meanwhile much-altered by IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force - QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections).

QUIC has been built upon UDP (User Datagram Protocol), which is leaner than TCP, but lacks some much-needed features for a safe Internet. UDP doesn't incorporate Reliability (knowledge of missing data from the origin point), or Order (meaning that data is received in the order it is transmitted), things that TCP does include, right alongside Error-correction (detection of in-transit corruption of data).
Sunday, November 18th 2018

Back to Black: Razer Introduces the BlackWidow Lite Mechanical Keyboard

Razer has introduced a more subdued version of their now RGB-infused mechanical keyoards. Christened the BlackWidow Lite, the new mechanical keyboard from Razer uses the same, latest iteration of the company's mechanical design, but partakes with RGB LEDs (there's simple white here for typists who want to do so in the dark) that might distract your eyes or otherwise increase strain.

The BlackWidow Lite is a tenkeyless affair with Orange switches and O-rings, which further decrease mechanical keyboards' characteristic clicks, so as to guarantee the most distraction-free typing experience whilst keeping up with the perfect feedback of mechanical keyboards. There's support for some usually gaming-focused features such as 10KRO (ten key roll-over), anti-ghosting, and programmable on-the-fly macro recording. The USB cable is also braided and detachable so it is portable. The BlackWidow Lite is now available for £99.99; comes with a 2-year warranty; and there are some accessories available in the form of an ergonomic padded rest (£19.99) and a travel bag (£29.99).

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Getting Support for NVIDIA Turing's Adaptive Shading

You may remember that we covered in detail the new technologies being implemented on NVIDIA's new brainchild, Turing, back when the architecture and its whitepaper were initially announced. One of the pieces of technology we talked about back then was Content Adaptive Shading, a new technique that would allow for smart trade-offs in image quality for added performance - potentially allowing for increased overall rendering resolutions at a much lesser impact cost.

The tech is now simply known as Adaptive Shading, and it basically works as a post-process step that looks at previous frames to calculate which determine quality conditions for the next one - lowered detail areas such as skies, flat walls, or even shadowed portions of objects require lesser amounts of shading detail, and thus, their shading rates can be reduced from a per-pixel shading to four pixels per shading ratio. And this new feature, which was originally showcased on MachineGames' Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, will finally be implemented in working form on that particular game, via a patch that's being released on November 19th. This is the first title to make use of this technology - and hopefully, it isn't the last.

Star Citizen to Get a Free, Anniversary Trial Running November 23-30

Star Citizen, the entirely amazing game that could (but may never be, considering the pace of development), is going to have a free trial between November 23rd and November 30th. The announcement, made by Cloud Imperium Games, comes as a celebration of sorts for the game, as they're readying release of the first ever explorable planet in the game - Hurston.

As an added bonus, Cloud Imperium Games will allow those who partake in the festivities to experience the thrill of flying one of those amazing ships the game is particularly known for - in unlimited fashion, for free. The new Free Fly event will see ships from all in-game manufactured being offered for trial at a rhythm of one manufacturer per day - but no, you don't get to keep the keys. Just the feeling of the behemoth or nimble space-farer you choose to take for a ride. Cloud Imperium is also promising "some surprises in store for those of you who make the trek out to Hurston and see what Lorville's all about, as well as some fun interactive activities on the website", so you should all stay tuned. Check out the announcement website on the source for a comprehensive listing of the flyable ships that are currently available in-game.

ASUS Rolls Out "Gaming Station" GS50

ASUS announced the Gaming Station GS50, which its product managers refer to as a "gaming station," so someone at big oil can blow steam off on Battlefield after a long day's work exploring shale (at least that's a use-case we can imagine). The GS50 is powered by an Intel Xeon W-2155 processor, which is a 10-core/20-thread chip clocked at 3.30 GHz to 4.50 GHz (turbo), packing 13.75 MB of L3 cache. This processor is essentially a Core i9-7900X with Xeon-exclusive features such as up to 512 GB ECC memory support, MPX, TXT, Boot Guard, etc. ASUS is offering RDIMM memory options all the way up to 512 GB.

Adding to its "gaming" credentials is NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics. Quadro RTX series is not even provided as an option. For storage, you get a 512 GB M.2-2280 SATA 6 Gbps SSD, and a 3 TB HDD for recovery and cold storage. Among the storage expansion options are additional M.2-NVMe slots, five more SATA ports, and a U.2 port. Networking includes two 1 GbE interfaces pulled by two Intel "server class" Ethernet controllers. A 700W 80 Plus Gold-certified PSU powers the machine. ASUS didn't reveal pricing.

AOC, G2 Introduce the G2 Esports Signature Edition G2590PX Monitor - 25", TN, 1080p, FreeSync, 144 Hz

Introducing the brand-new AOC G2590PX G2 Esports Signature Edition gaming monitor. Created in partnership with G2's sponsor and favorite display provider AOC, this special edition monitor combines performance, style and affordability into one package ensuring a smooth, tear and stutter-free gameplay experience. AOC designed this specialized G90 monitor specifically for the G2 Esports professional teams and all gamers who want to upgrade the look of their battle station.

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces ROG Strix Radeon RX 590 Graphics Card

ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the ROG Strix Radeon RX 590, an all-new gaming graphics card powered by the latest AMD Radeon RX 590 GPU and engineered with advanced cooling, reliability, performance, and customizable lighting.

ROG Strix cards take cooling to the next level, keeping temperatures low and dB levels quiet. It starts with MaxContact technology, which uses precision machining to create a heat spreader surface that makes up to 2X more contact with the GPU chip, helping to improve thermal transfer. As heat passes into the heatsink, three powerful Wing-blade fans spin up when GPU temperatures exceed 55 Celsius. Wingblade fans are a patented design that offers 105% more static pressure than traditional axial designs, ensuring air is dispersed through the entire cooling array.

Xigmatek Launches Hera Gold Series PSU with Smart ECO Technology

Xigmatek, a leading manufacturer of PC components and peripherals, today announced the availability of Hera series power supplies, the stable and efficient power supply unit in its class. The Hera series has better build quality, 100% fully modular black flat cables with energy-saving 80PLUS Gold ratings. The Hera series is available in 650, 750 and 850 watt variants perfect for gamers, enthusiasts and even system builders.

Hera equipped with Smart ECO Technology, it's a smart fan control innovation which will adjust the fan RPM automatically to provide best balance between noise level and cooling smartly, minimize noise level without temperature increase, maximize cooling during heavy system loading.

XIGMATEK Introduces the Zest PC Case

Xigmatek, a leading manufacturer of PC components and peripherals, today announced the availability of Zest PC case, a new generation Rambo RGB PC case with front and left tempered glass, the case chassis designed for all major ATX, M-ATX and Mini ITX gaming or professional motherboard available to the market, and E-ATX motherboard friendly.

Zest has 180 mm CPU cooler clearance and 430 mm for VGA card clearance. Support up to 220 mm bottom mount power supply for easy cable management and hide all the messy cables for a tidy display, Zest the latest innovation from Xigmatek, perfect for gaming and any professional system build.
Saturday, November 17th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Gaming PC
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Notebooks
SSD

Samsung AMD's Second Foundry Partner for "Polaris 30"

AMD's "Polaris 30" silicon at the heart of Radeon RX 590 graphics card is the company's first 12 nm GPU. Unlike NVIDIA, which is exclusively sourcing its "Turing" family of GPUs from TSMC, the "Polaris 30" is coming from not one, but two sources. This, according to AMD in response to a question by TechPowerUp. The two foundries manufacturing "Polaris 30" are GlobalFoundries and Samsung. AMD did not provide us with visual cues on how to tell chips made from either foundries apart (such as serial numbering schemes). Packaging of dies sourced from both foundries is done in China, and the national-origin marking for the chip is on the package, rather than printed on the die.

GlobalFoundries' 12 nanometer FinFET node, called GloFo 12LP, shares a lot of similarities with Samsung's 11LPP, because both are "nodelets" that are derived from an original 14 nm FinFET process blueprint Samsung licensed to GloFo, deployed in its facility in upstate New York, where AMD's "Zen" processors are made. GloFo's 12 nanometer process is a refinement of its 14 nm node, in which 12 nm transistors are etched onto silicon using the same lithography meant for 14 nm. It doesn't improve transistor densities, but provides dividends in power, which explains why "Polaris 30" and "Pinnacle Ridge" have the same die sizes as "Polaris 20" and "Summit Ridge," respectively. This WikiChip article provides a good explanation of how GloFo 12LP is a nodelet.

Intel Could Upstage EPYC "Rome" Launch with "Cascade Lake" Before Year-end

Intel is reportedly working tirelessly to launch its "Cascade Lake" Xeon Scalable 48-core enterprise processor before year-end, according to a launch window timeline slide leaked by datacenter hardware provider QCT. The slide suggests a late-Q4 thru Q1-2019 launch timeline for the XCC (extreme core count) version of "Cascade Lake," which packs 48 CPU cores across two dies on an MCM. This launch is part of QCT's "early shipment program," which means select enterprise customers can obtain the hardware in pre-approved quantities. In other words, this is a limited launch, but one that's probably enough to upstage AMD's 7 nm EPYC "Rome" 64-core processor launch.

It's only by late-Q1 thru Q2-2019 that the Xeon "Cascade Lake" family would be substantially launched, including lower core-count variants that are still 2-die MCMs. This aligns to preempt or match AMD's 7 nm EPYC family rollout through 2019. "Cascade Lake" is probably Intel's final enterprise microarchitecture to be built on the 14 nm++ node, and consists of 2-die multi-chip modules that feature 48 cores, and a 12-channel memory interface (6-channel per die); with 88-lane PCIe from the CPU socket. The processor is capable of multi-socket configurations. It will also be Intel's launch platform for substantially launching its Optane Persistent Memory product series.
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