Wednesday, January 24th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Motherboards
Mouse
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SSD
Storage

Thermaltake Intros Pacific M4 Monoblock for ASUS TUF X299 Mk I

Thermaltake is on a cross-branded products launch spree, and its latest creation is a Pacific M4 monoblock designed for ASUS TUF X299 Mark I motherboard. A monoblock is an enlarged CPU water block that cools even the VRM surrounding the CPU socket, something Intel's "Skylake-X" platform could really do with. The Pacific M4 combines a nickel-plated copper main block, with an acrylic top that's been studded with 256-color RGB LED elements through a silicone diffuser; and a top sticker with Thermaltake and ASUS TUF logos. The RGB LEDs take in standardized 4-pin RGB input, and can be controlled by ASUS Aura Sync RGB software. Heat drawn from the VRM is conveyed by a base-plate onto the main block. The block takes in standard G1/4 fittings. Measuring 154 mm 114 mm x 29.4 mm (LxWxH), the monoblock weighs 770 g. The company didn't reveal pricing.
Tuesday, January 23rd 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Headphones
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Processors
PSUs
Storage
ECS LIVA Q

ECS LIVA Q

The LIVA Q from ECS looks to impress by taking the LIVA design and further shrinking it to an absurd 0.15L volume. Compact, fully featured, and loaded with Windows 10, it offers a great deal considering its tiny size.

ASRock Outs Newer BIOS Updates to Correct Reboot Issues Post Security Patches

ASRock was just informed by Intel that they disclosed the reboot issue on the former microcode released earlier. To fix the security vulnerability (SA-00088), ASRock is still waiting for Intel's further support and we're committed to work closely with them to develop and update new BIOS for our 8/9/100/200/Z370/X99/X299 motherboard series. To mitigate this issue promptly and constructively, we will keep our customers posted on our official website, please refer to this page. For Intel's official announcement, please refer to this page.

ASRock is aware that the current Intel microcode version might be defected by security vulnerabilities. We recommend users update their systems by flashing the latest BIOS once the revision microcode is released from Intel. To mitigate this issue promptly and constructively, please refer to below links for more info and stayed tuned.
DOWNLOAD: Latest ASRock BIOS Updates

Graphics Industry Leaders Mike Rayfield and David Wang Join AMD

AMD today announced the appointment of Mike Rayfield as senior vice president and general manager of AMD Radeon Technologies Group (RTG), and David Wang as senior vice president of engineering for RTG. Both will report to President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su. Rayfield will be responsible for all aspects of strategy and business management for AMD's graphics business including consumer graphics, professional graphics, and semi-custom products. Wang will be responsible for all aspects of graphics engineering, including the technical strategy, architecture, hardware, and software for AMD graphics products and technologies.

"Mike and David are industry leaders who bring proven track records of delivering profitable business growth and leadership product roadmaps," said AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su. "We enter 2018 with incredible momentum for our graphics business based on the full set of GPU products we introduced last year for the consumer, professional, and machine learning markets. Under Mike and David's leadership, I am confident we will continue to grow the footprint of Radeon across the gaming, immersive, and GPU compute markets."

Integral Has Done It Again, Announces World-First 512 GB MicroSD Card

Integral has done it again as they did before in the 256 GB MicroSD card release: their new, announced 512 GB MicroSD will officially be the biggest (and first) of its kind in the tech world when it comes around to retail shelves next February. Integral is a company that specializes in memory products, and already has 2 TB M.2 SSD releases under its belt as well. And it will also be the smallest-ever 512 GB storage card medium.

Now, I understand that MicroSD cards aren't exactly what we here at TPU boot our website to look at; however, I take this opportunity to just invite our readers to stare in awe at how far ahead we've come since the time of 3½-inch floppy disks. The previous biggest MicroSD card record-holder was Sandisk, with their 400 GB offering; and still is the fastest of the high-capacity MicroSD cards at 100 MB/s. However, Integral's MicroSD is no slouch either, still managing to deliver 80 MB/s max speeds, with a minimum 10 MB/s writes guaranteed (it's classified as an SDXC UHS-I U1 card, and meets the V10 standard for video transfer rates, so it's designed to capture full HD video off cameras). Expect this tiny MicroSD to deliver quite the blow to your monthly earnings should you be looking to buy it come February, though. And I do hope you ever lose it.

EPIC games Acquires Cloudgine, Welcomes It to Its Fold

EPIC Games has made an investment that was both likely and unlikely: the acquisition of Cloudgine, a software company based in Edinburgh, Scotland, that specializes in real-time cloud computing technologies. The company's name has appeared associated with Microsoft's now almost infamous Crackdown 3 project for the Xbox One console, which has been met with delays after delays. The sum for the acquisition hasn't been announced, though EPIC was forthcoming with the intention: they aim to integrate Cloudgine's software and cloud computing solutions on their Unreal engine. The full EPIC press release follows.

Intel Releases Its SSD 760p to the Wild With Competitive Pricing, Performance

Intel today released their mainstream answer to users' fast, NVMe-based storage needs, the SSD 760p. We've already covered this new consumer, mainstream SSD series in our news pieces; however, information and press decks have now come directly from Intel, allowing us a clearer picture of how Intel sees its products to fit into the consumer market - and hopefully, in consumer's choices.

MSI Radeon RX 570 Armor MK2 Graphics Card Pictured

MSI is apparently working on a revised version of its dual-fan Armor design for AMD's cards, dropping the white and black color scheme and opting for a more AMD-basic black and red one. The new versions, tentatively dubbed the Armor MK2 graphics cards, are expected to trickle through MSI's AMD graphics card lineup slowly, starting with the RX 570 and RX 560 graphics cards in their OC versions. The new color scheme, even if used to exhaustion already, does a little more than the previous Armor iteration in conveying the image of an AMD graphics card (black and red, anyone?), and the Armor MK2 models should feature an additional color and design upgrade to the existing backplate.

X2 Officially Releases Its High Performance Gaming Chairs

X2 is proud to introduce new gaming chairs as part of our products line up. The X2 gaming chairs are all about luxury and comfort. Built with the highest quality materials and care for detail. The gaming chairs are available in 6 different models and color schemes, all built to the highest standard and only with quality materials. The upholstery shaped with cold foam finished with PU leather and/or fabric with detailed accents. The back rest lumbar and seat supports are shaped with diamond pattern vesture (Lux Pro), which is sturdy and just looks awesome. The backrest is extra-long which offers for more pine support.

Uphold through the steel frame with butterfly mechanism allowing you to not only tilt the back but also synchronous tilt of seat and back. Including two 3D adjustable armrests which offer more ergonomic support for correct posture behind the desk. Height adjustment is simple and safe by the class 4 gas lift that can hold up to 200 Kgs. The 360-degree swivel chair sits on a matte-black nylon base fitted with 5 casters coated in polyurethane allowing them to roll effortless on hard and soft surfaces.

Transcend Announces New Line of 3D TLC NAND SSDs for Embedded Applications

Transcend Information, Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial-grade products, is proud to announce the release of 2.5-inch and M.2 form factor industrial solid-state drives featuring 3D TLC NAND flash memory. 3D TLC NAND flash memory has performance that can rival Planar (2D) MLC NAND flash, but at a very competitive price point. The new line of industrial SSDs also boast SLC caching, a RAID engine, low-density parity check (LDPC), and other features that make for a stable, long-lasting product ready for write-intensive industrial and embedded applications.

Built with high-quality 3D TLC NAND flash memory
This all-new series of SSDs uses high-quality 3D TLC NAND flash memory. 3D NAND flash breaks through physical limitations on Planar NAND by stacking layers of memory cells to allow for greater capacities and performance. Compared to Planar NAND, 3D NAND is faster, more reliable, and delivers greater performance. Devices manufactured with 3D NAND are price competitive, making them an excellent choice for embedded systems.

Rambus Announces Their High-Performance GDDR6 PHY Solution

Rambus Inc. today announced the GDDR6 (Graphics Double Data Rate) Memory PHY IP Core targeted for high-performance applications including cryptocurrency mining, artificial intelligence (AI), ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and networking. Leveraging almost 30 years of high-speed interface design expertise and using advanced leading-edge FinFET process nodes, the Rambus GDDR6 PHY architecture will provide the industry's highest speed of up to 16 Gbps, while utilizing established packaging and testing techniques.

"The high bandwidth delivered by GDDR6 makes it uniquely qualified to perform data-intensive applications such as HPC (high performance computing), AI, autonomous vehicles, and high-speed networking," said Luc Seraphin, SVP and general manager of the Rambus Memory and Interfaces Division. "We are excited to be the first IP provider to offer a GDDR6 PHY solution with industry-leading performance designed with power efficiency and high signal margins for these applications."

Micron and Industry Partners to Deliver Comprehensive GDDR6 Solutions

Micron Technology, Inc., a leading memory and storage provider, today announced with Rambus Inc., Northwest Logic and Avery Design, their efforts to deliver a comprehensive solution for GDDR6, the world's fastest discrete memory. This first-of-its-kind solution would enable GDDR6 use in advanced applications such as high-performance networking, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and 5G infrastructure. Prior generations of GDDR memories, enabled by GPU vendors, were focused exclusively on the graphics market. While this allowed graphics and game console designs to take advantage of the significant performance advantage offered by GDDR, other applications could not because the necessary building blocks were not available.

Micron Launches 5200 Series Enterprise SATA SSDs Utilizing 64-Layer 3D TLC NAND

Micron Technology, Inc. today launched the Micron 5200 series of SATA solid state drives (SSDs), maintaining industry-leading performance, consistency, capacity, reliability, and overall infrastructure value. Built on Micron's new industry-leading 64-layer 3D NAND technology, the Micron 5200 series of SSDs offers a cost-optimized SATA platform for business-critical virtualized workloads that cripple on a hard drive, such as OLTP, BI/DSS, VDI, block/object and media streaming.

Leveraging the proven architecture, performance and capacity of the well-regarded 5100 SATA SSDs, the Micron 5200 series is engineered to deliver a fast, easy and cost-effective enterprise storage solution to replace existing hard drives and legacy SSDs. Micron 5200 SSDs immediately deliver better total cost of ownership and improve data center efficiency through server and storage platform consolidation, reducing IT costs and simplifying infrastructure and maintenance. Now it is easier than ever before for enterprises to add more flash into the data center and get more out of server deployments.

Denuvo 4.8 Has Fallen

Denuvo 4.8 originally debuted last year in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Origins. The French video game publisher even went as far as implementing VMProtect to add an extra layer of protection to the game. Many speculated that Ubisoft's poor decision made the final product so overdemanding on the processor. However, that's a discussion for another day. At the time of its release, Denuvo 4.8 was deemed impossible to break, but let's be realistic here. The impossible just costs a little more. It only took three months for the impossible to happen. Italian warez group CONSPIR4CY (a.k.a CPY) announced in recent days that they've successfully bypassed Denuvo 4.8 used in Sonic Forces.

Besides Ubisoft and Sega, Denuvo has other high-profile customers in the likes of Electronic Arts, Warner Bros, and Lionsgate Entertainment. So, it's only a matter of time before AAA titles like Football Manager 2018, Injustice 2, Need for Speed Payback, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and Star Ocean: The Last Hope HD Remaster suffer the same fate as Sonic Forces. Upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age are probably in line as well. Although, it will be interesting to see how long can Assassin's Creed: Origins fare before someone breaks the game's double protection.

AMD Cancels Implicit Primitive Shader Driver Support

Primitive shaders are lightweight shaders that break the separation of vertex and geometry shaders, promising a performance gain in supporting games. Initially announced during the Radeon RX Vega launch, the feature has been delayed again and again. At one of its 2018 International CES interactions with the press, AMD reportedly announced that it had cancelled the implicit driver path for primitive shaders. Game developers will still be able to implement primitive shaders on AMD hardware, using a (yet to be released) explicit API path. The implicit driver path was the more interesting technology though, since it could have provided meaningful performance gains to existing games and help cut down a lot of developer effort for games in development. AMD didn't state the reasons behind the move.

To explain the delay, some people were speculating that the Primitive Shader feature was broken unfixable in hardware, which doesn't seem to be the case, now that we are hearing about upcoming API support for it, so this can also be interpreted as good news for Vega owners.

Samsung Officially Launches SSD 860 PRO and 860 EVO Series

Samsung Electronics America, Inc. today introduced the 860 PRO and 860 EVO solid state drives (SSDs), the most up-to-date additions to the company's SATA interface lineup. The products are aimed at consumers who require fast, reliable performance across various applications, from everyday computing to heavy workloads and graphic-intensive operations. Building on the successful launch of the 850 PRO and 850 EVO - the industry's first consumer SSDs with V-NAND technology - the 860 PRO and 860 EVO achieve industry-leading performance for SATA SSDs, offering enhancements in speed, reliability, compatibility and capacity.

"The new 860 PRO and 860 EVO SSDs combine the latest 512Gb and 256Gb 64-layer V-NAND, up to 4GB LPDDR4 mobile DRAM and a new MJX controller to elevate the user experience for both consumers and businesses," said Un-Soo Kim, senior vice president of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung will continue to fuel meaningful innovations in the consumer SSD space and drive growth of the overall memory industry for years to come."

Intel's Patch for Meltdown, Spectre "Complete and Utter Garbage:" Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, the most popular datacenter operating system, proclaimed Intel's patches for the recent Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities "complete and utter garbage." Torvalds continues to work on the innermost code of Linux, and has been closely associated with kernel patches that are supposed to work in conjunction with updated CPU microcode to mitigate the two vulnerabilities that threaten to severely compromise security of data-centers and cloud-computing service providers.

Torvalds, in a heated public chain-mail with David Woodhouse, an Amazon engineer based out of the UK, called Intel's fix "insane" and questioned its intent behind making the patch "toggle-able" (any admin can disable the patch to a seemingly cataclysmic vulnerability, which can bring down a Fortune 500 company). Torvalds also takes issue with redundant fixes to vulnerabilities already patched by Google Project Zero "retpoline" technique. Later down in the thread, Woodhouse admits that there's no good reason for Intel's patches to be an "opt-in." Intel commented on this exchange with a vanilla-flavored potato: "We take the feedback of industry partners seriously. We are actively engaging with the Linux community, including Linus, as we seek to work together on solutions."

TechPowerUp GPU-Z v2.7.0 Released

TechPowerUp today released the latest version of GPU-Z, the popular graphics subsystem information and diagnostic utility. Version 2.7.0 comes with a handful of important bug fixes and updates to its internal modules. To begin with, we've updated the NVFlash module that lets GPU-Z extract video BIOS from graphics cards, the newer NVFlash supports BIOS extraction from some of the newer NVIDIA graphics cards such as the GTX 1070 Ti. We've also fixed incorrect video memory amount reading on AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards. TMU and ROP counts, and OpenCL status on AMD "Polaris 21" GPUs is fixed, as is incorrect labeling of a memory clock sensor on NVIDIA GPUs. GPU-Z will no longer prevent system shutdowns and reboots on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp GPU-Z 2.7.0

The change-log follows.

BIOSTAR Introduces H110MDE Motherboard

BIOSTAR presents another entry-level micro-ATX form factor motherboard - the BIOSTAR H110MDE. This motherboard sports the entry-level Intel H110 chipset that supports the Socket LGA 1151 7th and 6th generation Intel Core processors. The BIOSTAR H110MDE is the perfect solution for desktop users on a tight budget by opting for Kaby Lake and Skylake processors. The compact micro-ATX form factor ensures high compatibility with most desktop cases in the market today. It also comes bundled with a free BullGuard Antivirus Software, another instant saving for builders.

The BIOSTAR H110MDE features the entry-level Intel H110 chipset for the 7th and 6th generation Intel Core processors offering builders instant savings by opting for the previous generation Intel processors. Still, the H110MDE offers the essential features and performance you need for daily computing with its dual DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of 2400MHz DDR4 memory and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot that supports high-end graphics card and NVMe solid-state drives if desired. As for connectivity, the H110MDE packs a Realtek RTL8111G offering up to 100 MB/s Ethernet connectivity along with two USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and a USB 3.1 Gen1 header offering high-speed data transfers for portable storage drives.

QNAP Officially Releases Cinema28, a Multi-zone Multimedia Application

QNAP Systems Inc. today officially released Cinema28, a multi-zone multimedia application that allows for single-interface management of multimedia playback, streaming, and more. Cinema28 turns a QNAP NAS into a multimedia hub that provides greater convenience for users to stream media files to connected devices throughout every corner of their home.

In addition to continuous development in storage-related applications, QNAP also strives to provide home users with a greater home entertainment experience. The new Cinema28 app integrates the streaming functionalities of QNAP's existing applications (including Photo Station, Video Station and Music Station) into a single app, allowing users to centrally manage all of the media files on their NAS and linked storage devices. No matter where the playback devices (including PC, smart TV, and mobile devices) are located, users can simply drag-and-drop files or playlists onto them for direct playback.

ADATA Releases the ED600 External Hard Drive Enclosure

ADATA Technology Co., Ltd., a world leading memory brand, is proud to present the ED600 external hard drive enclosure, which offers users the convenience of portable external storage coupled with the speed and performance of solid state drives (SSDs). The ED600 is compatible with HDDs as well as SSDs, and can reach transfer speeds of up to 5Gb/s through its USB3.1 interface. Not only is the ED600 strong and stylish, it is also extremely user-friendly; simply plug it in and wait three seconds for the installation to complete itself, without any need for extra procedures or tools.

The design of the ED600 is based on ease of use. Installing the device requires only three simple steps, which can be completed in three seconds by users, even if they are unfamiliar with computer hardware. The ED600 supports 7mm and 9.5mm thick 2.5-inch SATA HDDs and SSDs, and is compatible with both Windows and MacOS. It can be used with desktops, notebooks, and even game consoles. Furthermore, the safety lock on the ED600 prevents the drive from coming loose due to movement or impacts, which gives its users greater peace of mind.

AMD Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 "Raven Ridge" PIB Packages Pictured

Here are the first pictures of AMD Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G "Raven Ridge" desktop APU retail PIB (processor in box) packages. The PIB package includes the APU itself, an AMD Wraith Stealth cooling solution, a case-badge, and some documentation. These packages are visually distinguishable from Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 "Summit Ridge" CPU PIB packages, with a chrome silver band heading the front face, which has prominent AMD Radeon Vega Graphics branding. It keeps up with the APUs' full retail names: "AMD Ryzen 3 2200G with Radeon Vega 8 graphics" and "AMD Ryzen 5 2400G with Radeon Vega 11 graphics." The Ryzen 3 2200G is expected to be priced (MSRP) at USD $99.99, and the Ryzen 5 2400G at $169.99; both parts launch in the retail channel on the 12th of February. The two have been extensively detailed in our older article.

Google and Mozilla Push for AV1 Image Format Adoption, Beats JPEG and HEIC

Google and Mozilla, the companies behind the Chrome and Firefox cross-platform web-browsers; are pushing for the adoption of a new web image format to replace the ageing and inefficient JPEG, and the license-ridden HEIC. The two companies are leading a consortium of Internet businesses, called the Alliance for Open Media, to push for the proliferation and standardization of the new AV1 image file format. Early testing shows AV1 files to be 15 percent smaller than HEIC for comparable quality, which in turn promises half the file-size of JPEG for comparable quality. Apple uses HEIC as the default image file format for iOS and MacOS, while JPEG, PNG, and GIF continue to be the dominant web image formats, and have been prevalent for over two decades now.

"It seems downright silly that we're still relying on compression tech from 20 years ago," said Kelly Thompson, general manager at 500px, a photo sharing and sales site. "The equipment we're using to capture and display images is now exceeding JPEG's upper limits." JPEG is not just inefficient, but also has severe color palette limitations, and lack of support for transparency. Adoption of newer image file formats could significantly reduce Internet bandwidth usage benefiting both end-users running on slower/metered connections; and for infrastructure providers, such as ISPs.
Monday, January 22nd 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Notebooks
PSUs
Speakers
Storage
Deepcool GAMMAXX GT

Deepcool GAMMAXX GT

Deepcool joins the RGB LED tower cooler craze with the GAMMAXX GT. Offering ultra-low noise levels along with acceptable performance, it's a great cooler, even if its name is a head scratcher.

Streacom Officially Launches the DB4 GPU Kit

Streacom is pleased to announce the DB4 GPU cooling kit, its first ever fanless cooling solution for discreet graphic cards. Designed specifically for the DB4, it utilises one of the 4 side panels for cooling, making silent performance graphics/gaming a reality. The kit comprises of a GPU mount, heat sink mount, heat pipes, universal bracket, VRAM coolers and thermal paste, everything needed to convert an actively cooled graphics card into a fanless one for the DB4.

The GPU mount features adjustable arms to accommodate most graphic card variations, and combined with the flexible heat sink mounting design of the DB4, allows for virtually any compact graphics card to be used. As with the DB4 CPU cooling, the GPU cooler is capable of cooling 65W TDP with a single side panel, which is ideal for cards such as the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Mini, making the DB4 a totally silent but powerful system.

Toshiba: If Memory Chip Production Spin-off Fails, IPO May Be Solution

The Financial Times has reported that Toshiba is considering a last-ditch effort towards producing liquidity, should its memory chip production business spin-off to Bain Capital not be allowed to complete prior to the end of March, in the face of antitrust scrutiny delays. Should that be the case, Toshiba would be in a dire situation, as the spin-off development has clearly shown (remember that Toshiba went from a 20% stake spin-off to a 100% spin-off due to increasing concerns with the company's outstanding debt and lack of liquidity).

Should that be the case, the company is reportedly considering an IPO as one of its contingency plans, the Financial Times reports, citing sources familiar with the plans. If the acquisition by Bain Capital fails to win regulatory approval by March 31, Toshiba is no longer bound to the deal's terms, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters. The Financial Times further added that some analysts - and Toshiba shareholders - favor this contingency plan over the existing deal - and apparently there's some sentiment towards the same in the financial markets at large, as Toshiba shares hit a three-month high in morning trade, at one point rising as much as 4.7 percent, after these IPO plans started being made public. If Toshiba's board wasn't considering an IPO before, they sure are more likely to do so now.

Intel Announces Root Cause of Meltdown, Spectre Patch Reboot Issue Identified

Intel has finally come around towards reporting on the state of the reboot issues that have been plaguing Intel systems ever since the company started rolling out patches to customers. These patches, which aimed to mitigate security vulnerabilities present in Intel's chips, ended up causing a whole slew of other problems for Intel CPU deployment managers. As a result of Intel's investigation, the company has ascertained that there were, in fact, problems with the patch implementation, and is now changing its guidelines: where before users were encouraged to apply any issued updates as soon as possible, the company now states that "OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior." A full transcription of the Intel press release follows.

Intel Optane MEM M10 Cache Modules Surface on Retailers' Websites

The next step in Intel's Optane product launch could be right around the corner, as retailers have started listing the company's upcoming Optane MEM M10 cache drives up for pre-order. If you'll remember, these products were first leaked in some Intel product roadmap slides, where they appeared identified as "System Acce. Gen 1.0". Whether or not today's workloads and faster SSD-based storage require the introduction of a faster caching solution is up for debate; however, Intel seems to think there is room in the market for these caching solutions, even if the vast majority of users would be much better served by acquiring a higher capacity SSD as their primary drive (especially if they're coming from the HDD world).

These new Optane MEM M10 cache drives will come in capacities ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB. The M10 modules will take the M.2 2280 form-factor and deliver data through the PCIe 3.0 interface. Prices are being quoted at $47.58 for the 16 GB model, $82.03 for the 32 GB model, and $154.37 for the largest, 64 GB model. These should ensure lower latency and higher throughput than traditional SSDs do, due to their caching of users' more heavily requested data; however, due to the very nature of these caching solutions, and the memory footprint available for them, it's likely most users will hit severe performance bottlenecks, at the very least, on the 16 GB model.

Ubisoft Reveals Far Cry 5 System Requirements

As we near the launch of Far Cry 5, Ubisoft has decided to reveal the minimum and recommended system requirements for the PC version. They've also detailed the necessary hardware required to achieve a 30 FPS and 60 FPS experience at the 4K resolution. Additionally, the development team has generously implemented a built-in benchmark to aid users in analyzing their systems and calibrating the different visual options. Nevertheless, the game also comes with an auto-detect feature that chooses the best quality preset for gamers who don't want to fiddle with the different graphic options. Far Cry 5 is slated to launch on March 27 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The standard edition costs $59.99, while the Deluxe and Gold Edition cost $69.99 and $89.99, respectively.

Is your PC ready to tackle the latest installment in the Far Cry franchise?

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 Spotted for the First Time

Sapphire's Pulse line of graphics cards focuses on providing aspiring gamers with the best bang for their buck. There are currently eight different models ranging from the Radeon RX 550 all the way up to the Radeon RX 580. According to German retailer Alternate.de, the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 is the latest newborn in the Pulse family even though it isn't officially listed on Sapphire's website at the moment. The card sports a plastic shroud painted in matte black with some red accents. The Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 occupies three PCIe slots and measures 28.2 cm x 12.5 cm, but that's mainly because of the monstrous heatsink that extends far beyond the graphic card's short PCB. Judging by the design, this model probably utilizes a similar cooling solution, consisting of 4 heatpipes and two 95 mm Dual-X cooling fans, like its RX 580 Pulse sibling. The backplate boasts a simple, yet beautiful design with red lines simulating a human pulse.

Despite the branding difference, the Pulse RX Vega 56 shares the same memory specification as the higher-end Nitro+ RX Vega 56 model. Each has 8GB of onboard HBM2 memory running at 800 MHz across a 2048-bit wide memory interface. However, the Pulse RX Vega 56 comes with a 1512 MHz boost clock, 60 MHz slower than the Nitro+ RX Vega 56. They also differ in PCIe power connectors and display outputs. The Pulse model depends on two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, while the Nitro+ model requires three of them. And lastly, the Pulse model has three Display Port 1.4 ports and a single HDMI 2.0b, while the Nitro+ model has two of each. Alternate.de lists the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 with a €789 price tag.

AMD Reveals Specs of Ryzen 2000G "Raven Ridge" APUs

AMD today revealed specifications of its first desktop socket AM4 APUs based on the "Zen" CPU micro-architecture, the Ryzen 2000G "Raven Ridge" series. The chips combine a quad-core "Zen" CPU with an integrated graphics core based on the "Vega" graphics architecture, with up to 11 NGCUs, amounting to 704 stream processors. The company is initially launching two SKUs, the Ryzen 3 2200G, and the Ryzen 5 2400G. Besides clock speeds, the two are differentiated with the Ryzen 5 featuring CPU SMT, and more iGPU stream processsors. The Ryzen 5 2400G is priced at USD $169, while the Ryzen 3 2200G goes for $99. Both parts will be available on the 12th of February, 2018.

The Ryzen 5 2400 features an 4-core/8-thread CPU clocked at 3.60 GHz, with a boost frequency of 3.90 GHz; 2 MB of L2 cache (512 KB per core), and 4 MB of shared L3 cache; and Radeon Vega 11 graphics (with the 11 denoting NGCU count), featuring 704 stream processors. The iGPU engine clock is set at 1250 MHz. The dual-channel DDR4 integrated memory controller supports up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2933 MHz memory. The Ryzen 3 2200G is a slightly cut down part. Lacking SMT, its 4-core/4-thread CPU ticks at 3.50 GHz, with 3.70 GHz boost. Its CPU cache hierarchy is unchanged; the iGPU features only 8 out of 11 NGCUs, which translate to 512 stream processors. The iGPU engine clock is set at 1100 MHz. Both parts feature unlocked CPU base-clock multipliers; and have their TDP rated at 65W, and include AMD Wraith Stealth cooling solutions.

ASUS Intros ROG Strix Fusion 500 Gaming Headset

ASUS introduced the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix Fusion 500 gaming headset, a step up from the Strix Fusion 300 the company launched last September. The headset essentially retains the design of the Fusion 300, but steps it up with gold-metallic body panels around the cans, RGB multi-color LED diffusers replacing the red LED accents, which you can control via ASUS Aura Sync RGB software; and under the hood enhancements.

The headset uses a higher quality ESS Sabre 9018 DAC combined with ESS 9601 amplifier. The DAC has a high SNR, and puts out 24-bit/96 kHz audio. The enhanced audio setup is mated with 50 mm ASUS Essence drivers, and improvements made to the passive acoustic dampening material around your ears. ASUS included game-specific virtual-7.1 surround DSPs with this headset. Available now, the ASUS ROG Strix Fusion is priced at USD $179.99, about $50 pricier than the Fusion 300.
Sunday, January 21st 2018

ASRock Intros a Pair of Celeron "Gemini Lake" ITX Motherboards

ASRock introduced a pair of mini-ITX desktop motherboards implementing Intel's new Celeron "Gemini Lake" SoCs. The ASRock J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX, as their names suggest, are powered by Celeron J4105 "Gemini Lake" SoCs, which combine a quad-core "Goldmont Plus" CPU ticking at 2.50 GHz, with new Intel UHD 600 Graphics. The integrated graphics features hardware-acceleration of 10bpc HEVC video encoding and decoding in addition to new DRM standards, which should enable Netflix 4K, and other on-demand video services at 4K UHD resolution. The J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX are similar, but for the latter featuring legacy connectivity such as LPT and RS232 COM ports, replacing 8-channel HD audio with 6-channel, and a DVI port. While the former has a PCIe x1 slot, the latter has an x16 slot with x2 wiring.

The board draws power from a 24-pin ATX connector. The SoC is cooled by a fan-less heatsink, and is wired to DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, supporting up to 8 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 memory. The 22 mm M.2 slot that has x1 wiring, is recommended only for a WLAN card. Storage connectivity includes four SATA 6 Gbps ports on the J4105-ITX, and two ports on the J4105B-ITX. Both boards come with gigabit Ethernet. Display outputs include DVI, HDMI, and D-Sub on the J4105-ITX; while the J4105B-ITX features D-Sub and HDMI. Both boards are expected to be priced around $170, given that the SoC itself costs $107.

NVIDIA Asks Retailers to Ensure Gamers Get Graphics Cards

The crypto-currency plague continues to nibble away at the PC gaming ecosystem, driving gamers to consoles. This affects the long-term prospects of graphics processor manufacturers like NVIDIA, who will find it difficult to pull gamers lost to consoles back to the PC ecosystem, should newer cost-effective ASICs arrest the viability of using GPUs to mine crypto-currency (as it did on several occasions in the past). The company is reportedly writing to PC hardware retailers to take steps to ensure that PC gamers have access to graphics cards first, and only then crypto-currency miners. The request doesn't prescribe any measures to control graphics card prices that have clearly gone out of hand.

Retailers in Germany responded lukewarmly, by setting quantity limitations, ranging between 2 to 5 units per order (and not per-household). Retailers responding to ComputerBase.de commented that they sometimes receive orders by e-mail with quantities running over 100 units. NVIDIA emphasizes that this request is a "recommendation" on its part, and not a directive, and that it would never interfere in freedom of commerce (by letting market-forces sell $200 graphics cards at $1000). The only people standing to lose are PC gamers who haven't upgraded their graphics cards in over two years, who are not able to play today's AAA games at recommended settings, especially when newer games are implementing the new DirectX 12 API, and their eye-candy have leaped to levels 2+ year old high-end graphics cards struggle to keep up with.
Saturday, January 20th 2018

Gigabyte Releases New Gemini Lake-Powered Motherboards

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, has announced the release of new generation Gemini Lake based J/N series motherboards with the built-in latest Intel Pentium Silver/ Intel Celeron processors. With humidity protected glass fabric PCBs, long acting capacitors, anti-surge ICs, low resistance MOSFETS, and Ultra Durable components, GIGABYTE J/N series motherboards maximize product value by offering users the ability to customize performance settings.

GIGABYTE newest J/N series motherboards utilize a fanless cooling solution and the built-in Intel Gemini Lake processors make them perfect for compact, mainstream builds. The motherboards support HDMI 2.0 4K at 21:9 resolution for high definition video quality. Integrated PCIe Gen2 x2 M.2 slots supporting high speed NVMe SSD allows for fast data transfer speeds. The board's native Intel WIFI via the M.2 Connector along with an independently sold Intel CNVi wireless networking solution can make way for impressive wireless connectivity exceeding 1 gigabit per second, traditionally found in wired connections. Additionally, its support for M.2 SATA SSD, UDIMM DDR4 modules rated for 2400MHz, and noise free configurations makes it a perfect option for school, business, and home usage.
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