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Updated 2017-11-24 07:00
Best Motherboards 2017
In our series of Best Motherboard guides, here’s the latest update to our recommended motherboard list. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing (Nov 22nd).Best Motherboards 2017This year has had an extremely wide selection of motherboards and chipsets to choose from. AMD’s Zen and Threadripper, Intel’s Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake, and enterprise options mean there is a lot to choose from. For this guide, I have asked our motherboard reviewing team to choose some of the boards that appeal to them based on testing or what they have come across.AnandTech's Best Motherboards 2017MotherboardAmazonNeweggWith Our Own MoneyJoeASRock X299 Taichi XE-$322IanASRock X399 Taichi$310$310GavinASRock X370 Taichi$185$185Ian v2MSI B350 Tomahawk Arctic$110$110The Impressive OptionJoeASUS X299 Rampage VI Extreme$750$650IanASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme$500$500GavinASUS X370 Crosshair VI Extreme$350$350Ian v2MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming$494$500Small Form Factor (SFF)JoeMSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon ACCAD$429 (NCIX)IanGIGABYTE Z370N WiFi$184$160GIGABYTE AB350N-Gaming WiFi$130$100Just to be clear, we all wrote down our choices independently. Joe has been reviewing X299 boards and Ian a bit of everything due to our CPU content. This table may be updated soon.The AnandTech Buyers Guide SeriesGaming
Aquantia to Sell Its 5G and 10G Network Cards for $59 and $69 on Black Friday
Aquantia got a lot of positive publicity this year with its relatively inexpensive 5G and 10G network cards, which brought multi-gigabit Ethernet down to around $100, making them some two-to-three times cheaper than earlier NICs. On Black Friday, the company is going to slash prices of its cards even further to $59 – $69 per unit, making these the cheapest multi-gigabit NICs to date.Aquantia’s AQN-107 and AQN-108 network cards are based on the company’s AQC107 (10 GbE) and AQC108 (5 GbE) multi-gigabit network controllers. The more affordable AQN-108 card uses a PCIe 3.0 x1 interface and supports various BASE-T standards, including 100M, 1G, 2.5G and 5G over an RJ45 connector using Cat5e/Cat6 cabling. The more advanced AQN-107 card features a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and supports all of the aforementioned standards as well as 10G. The cards are compatible with various contemporary and legacy PCs running Windows 7/8/10 or Linux 3.2/3.6/4.2/4.4.On Black Friday, November 24, the Aquantia AQtion AQN-108 5G NIC will be sold for $59, down from its regular price of $99. The AQtion AQN-107 10G NIC will be available for an $69, down from $127 regularly. This promotion is only going to work with Aquantia’s international distributors — Arrow, WPGA and WPI, but not regular retailers (see direct links to the cards on websites of the said companies in the table below).Aquantia AQtion Multi-Gigabit NICsCardAQN-107AQN-108ControllerAQC-107AQC-108100BASE-TYesYes1000BASE-TYesYes2.5GBASE-TYesYes5GBASE-TYesYes10GBASE-TYesNoPorts11MSRP$127$99Black Friday Promo Price$69$59Buy from DistributorsArrow
Best Gaming Laptops: Holiday 2017
Along with our quarterly laptop guide, near the end of every year we also like to take a look at the state of the gaming laptop market. With a much more cyclical upgrade cycle, gaming laptops tend to evolve in lockstep with the major components inside them. For the gaming laptop market, this includes not only more powerful CPUs, but also more unique (for a laptop) components like discrete video cards, mechanical keyboards, and perhaps an IPS panel for better color reproduction over the cheaper VA panels. All of which come together to make a breed of laptop that is very different from the kinds of machines that define the mainstream and professional markets.Sizing up the current state of the gaming laptop market, 8th Generation CPUs for notebooks were released a couple of months ago but haven't made their way into the list quite yet. We expect to see many more announcement at CES. The 7th Generation parts are no slouch in 45W form and are a good match to the discrete video cards from the GeForce GTX 1050 up to SLI GTX 1080's we will see on the list.Gaming Laptop Recommendations Holiday 2017SegmentModelStarting Price (As of writing)Low-Cost GamingLenovo Legion Y520 15.6$879 USDDell Inspiron 15 7000$1089 USDMid-range GamingASUS ROG Strix 15.6$1648 USDRazer Blade 14$2099 USDHigh-End GamingMSI GT73VR Titan Pro-865$2699 USDRazer Blade Pro$3999 USDDTR GamingMythologic Phobos 8717$2335 USDMSI GT83VR Titan SLI$5399 USDAs always, we’ll break the guide down into several segments to serve various markets, from low-cost to mid-range, high end, and ultimate gaming.Low-Cost Gaming LaptopsLenovo Legion Y520 15.6Kicking things off, we have entry-level gaming laptops. The Lenvov Legion Y520 was the first member of the Legion series of gaming laptops Lenovo released in early 2017. The laptops hit the scene with a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU – the i7-7700HQ @ 3.8 GHz max Turbo – a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 FHD IPS Anti-glare monitor (though it can't cover 100% sRGB), 8GB of Dual-Channel DDR4 2400 MHz RAM (supports 16GB). This specific configuration includes a 256GB PCIe SSD with additional options for up to a 2TB 5400RPM HDD.Driving the monitor for games is a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM which delivers solid performance at 1080p. The keyboard is full-size with a number pad to the right side and is backlit in red only on the Y520 (Y720 has multiple colors). The chassis is made out of plastic and contains a woven pattern which gives it an attractive look without going overboard. For under $900 the Y520 packs a fairly powerful punch for a gaming laptop.Buy Lenovo Legion Y520 on Amazon.comDell Inspiron 15 7000 Series Gaming Edition 7567Next in the low-cost gaming segment is the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series Gaming Edition. The 7567 has a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 Anti-glare IPS panel driven by a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB, and can be upgraded to a GTX 1060. The CPU is a 7th Generation Intel Quad-core i5-7300HQ with a max turbo of 3.5 GHz and is upgradeable to the I7-7700HQ. This specific model comes with a small 128GB M.2 SSD and a 1TB 5400 RPM HDD giving users a nice balance of high-speed low capacity storage and lower speed high capacity storage. For RAM, this specific model includes 8GB of DDR4 2400 MHz (up to 16GB).The exterior of the 7000 Series made of black plastic and uses a black and red design theme with the Dell logo in red on the back of the lid, red vents on the front for cooling, and red characters on the keyboard. Consequently it very much looks like a gaming laptop, which may not appeal to some buyers in this segment. Like the Lenovo Legion above, the design isn't outlandish but offers enough cues it's made for more than simply web and email. The base price is $799 at the Dell website while the specific setup here is listed at $1089 on Amazon US.Buy Dell Inspiron 15 7K Series on Amazon.comMid-Range Gaming LaptopsASUS ROG Strix GL502VS- DS71 At the mid-range of the gaming laptop market, the ASUS ROG Strix Gaming laptop brings to the table a full GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GPU driving a 15.6-inch FHD 1920x1080p 120Hz G-SYNC display. This is a very common combination, and makes for plenty of horsepower to run through many the latest games at High/Ultra settings. The ROG Strix laptop uses the same 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor as many other gaming laptops in this guide, along with 16GB if DDR4 2400 Mhz RAM. For storage, this option includes a 1TB HDD and a small 128GB SATA based SSD.The chassis of the Strix is made out of aluminum, has a brushed finish, and comes in a silver color. The laptop is also said not to be too heavy or cumbersome. The overall build quality, however, was just deemed OK and it tends to run warm. Its overall appearance is fairly understated with the ASUS Logo and design queues on the lid. The brushed aluminum carries over to the inside of the laptop and uses RGB LED keyboard with red print on the keys and surrounding the trackpad. The model selected is priced at $1648 at Amazon US while a GTX 1080 8GB, a larger 120 Hz G-SYNC monitor, and a larger SSD are a couple of the major options above this version.Buy ASUS ROG Strix on Amazon.comRazer Blade 14For a slightly smaller alternative, we have the Razer Blade 14. The Blade comes equipped with a 7th Generation I7-7700HQ and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB driving a 14-inch 1920x1080 IGZO display, offering great performance even uncalibrated. This particular model includes a 512GB PCIe based SSD for storage with an option to use a smaller SSD and a 2TB HDD, while for RAM the laptop comes with 16GB of DDR4-2400.The Blade's membrane based keyboard has white lettering on the keys and individually backlit keys which can be customized through the Razer Chrome software. The chassis is made of Aluminum CNC and built very solid with the Razer symbol gracing the top of the lid and is the only real design aesthetic on the matte black laptop. Pricing on this unit comes in at $2099 and is pricey for the GTX 1060 inside.Buy Razer Blade on Amazon.comHigh-End Gaming LaptopsMSI GT73VR Titan Pro-865Moving up to high-end laptops, the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro is our first gaming laptop chosen which includes a GTX 1080 at our price point. It is a full GTX 1080 sporting 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM. The GeForce GTX 1080 is the fastest single GPU available for a laptop, and coupled with the default 1080p display can handle virtually anything thrown at it. This specific configuration uses the now familiar i7-7700HQ CPU, but does offer a 7820HK (2.9GHz/3.8GHz) option above that. RAM capacity for this setup is 32GB DDR4 2400 MHz. Internal storage is a combination of a 512GB SSD and a 1TB HDD.As a full-size gaming laptop, the Titan comes with a 17.3-inch monitor. The base model uses a 1920x1080 120Hz panel, along with G-SYNC variable refresh technology. For gamers more focused on resolution than performance, there is also a 4K 60Hz monitor as an option. It also supports Thunderbolt 3, for plenty of external I/O options. The keyboard is made by SteelSeries using the Steel Series 3 engine to customize the RGB LED backlit keys. Pricing on this configuration comes in at $2699 on Amazon which can be cost prohibitive when taking into account the hardware.Buy MSI GT73VR TP-865 on Amazon.comRazer Blade ProOur second Razer branded gaming laptop comes in the form the of the Razer Blade Pro. The Pro offers two models with either a 1080p or a 4K display, but the 1080p model is for all intents and purposes the 14-inch Razer Blade in a larger form factor. The 4K model, by comparison, features a GeForce GTX 1080, making the more powerful model by far.The 4K model features an IGZO capacitive multi-touch panel, uses NVIDIA G-SYNC, offers 100% Adobe RGB color reproduction (no sRGB), and is a THX certified mobile device. Pushing the pixels on the 4K Pro is a single GTX 1080 8GB. The CPU running the show us the higher clocks i7-7820KH running at 2.9 GHz, 3. 9 GHz, or 4.3 GHz (Base/Turbo/Overclock). RAM capacity sits at 32GB of dual-channel DDR4 2667. This particular option includes the base storage configuration of 2x 256GB PCIe M.2 drives with options of going up to 2TB, also in RAID 0 form (2x 1TB drives).The black chassis of the Blade Pro is made from CNC machined aluminum and follows the Razer design to a T, but larger. This makes it one of the thinnest and lightest GTX 1080 laptops around . The Pro uses a mechanical keyboard and RGB LED keys controlled by the Razer Synapse software. The trackpad is located to the right of the keyboard which can take some getting used to. The price is currently at $3999 and is quite expensive comparatively.Buy Razer Blade Pro on Amazon.comDesktop Replacement Gaming LaptopsMythlogic Phobos 8717At the top of the gaming laptop pantheon are full-size "luggable" desktop replacement laptops. While these are still laptops in the strictest sense, they are essentially made to be portable desktops rather than lap computers or even a machine meant to be used away from mains power for an extended period of time. This allows them to use component choices you couldn't do in proper laptops, improving performance at the cost of weight.Our first entry in the ultimate gaming laptop category comes from Mythlogic with their Phobos 8717. Making full use of the space afforded by a "luggable" design, the Phobos incorporates a full size desktop Kaby Lake processor. Options range from an i5-7600K (4.1 GHz), a locked i7-7700 (4.2 GHz), to the i7-7700K running at 4.5 GHz. Up to 64GB of memory is supported at speeds up to DDR4 3000 MHz using the four SO-DIMM slots. All models use 17.3-inch AHVA LCDs, with the base model using a 2560x1440 panel while higher-end models incorporate a full 4K display with G-SYNC support. The Phobos 8717 is also able to output three external monitors up to 4K through its HDMI and 2x DisplayPorts.Similar to the CPU options, the video card options are equally oversized, ranging from a single GeForce GTX 1070 6GB up to dual, desktop class GTX 1080s in SLI. Storage options include two M.2 SSDs in either SATA or PCIe mode, as well as additional space for two changeable 2.5" HDD/SSD using the SATA interface.In terms of design, the Phobos sports a black chassis with a couple of design LED elements on the lid; otherwise, it is a fairly plain chassis with average build quality. The keyboard is full-size and color illuminated with a numeric pad offset just to the right. One of the biggest points to draw users to the Mythologic gaming laptops are the price to performance ratio. At $2335 base price with a desktop class quad core and GTX 1070, it may be tough to beat.Buy the Mythlogic Phobos 8717 on Mythlogic.comMSI GT83VR Titan SLI-212Our final (and by far most expensive) laptop in this guide is MSI's GT83VR Titan SLI. This "luggable" in two flavors, SLI-212 and SLI-252. The difference between them lay in the amount of RAM as well as the storage setup, with the SLI-212 being on the higher end of the two.The 212 comes with a 7th Generation Core i7-7920HQ CPU running at 3.1/4.1 GHz (Turbo/Base) with a TDP of 45W. The laptop comes with 64GB DDR4-2400 RAM (the 252 is 16GB) which should be plenty for even the most memory intensive tasks. The storage configuration consists of two 512GB PCIe SSDs plus a 1TB 7200 RPM HDD. The display is a very large 18.4" IPS panel at 1920x1080. Atypically, there is not a 4K option despite a pair of powerful GeForce GTX 1080s in SLI under the hood.Meanwhile the black colored chassis is constructed from CNC machined aluminum. The lid has two dart type lighted lines along with the MSI Gaming Dragon symbol in the middle to give it a little pizazz. The rear has large exhaust vents with red aluminum trim. Many will take one look and immediately think its a gaming laptop. Last but not least, the keyboard is a 'real' Cherry MX Silver keyboard with multi-backlit steel series KB 88 keys. The GT83VR is rather large, measuring 16.85" x 12.36" x 1.66/2.52" and weighs in at a hefty 13.13 lbs and known to have good build quality.Buy MSI GT83VR Titan SLI on Amazon.com
ADATA Announces XPG Storm: A Cooler for M.2 SSDs with a 16500 RPM Fan
ADATA this week has introduced its first aftermarket cooler for M.2-2280 SSDs. The XPG Storm is meant to ensure stable performance with the latest drives under high loads, while also adding some visual effects via its integrated RGB LEDs.The ADATA XPG Storm features a large, ten fin anodized aluminum heatsink painted to resemble copper. The heatsink in turn is cooled by an Sunon MF20100V1-10000-A99 20-mm fan, a small-but-powerful fan that can spin at up to 16,500 RPM (see detailed specs of the unit below). Overall the cooler is 2.4 centimeters thick and is among the largest cooling devices for M.2 SSDs launched to date.While dimensions of the XPG Storm will affect its compatibility with small form-factor PCs (e.g., Mini-ITX motherboards with an M.2 slot on the backside), the maximized surface area means better heat dissipation, further reducing any remaining thermal throttling under high loads. ADATA does not quantify advantages of its XPG Storm (it only says it makes SSDs 25% cooler, but that is not a very precise valuation), but according to EKWB, a passive heatsink can reduce controller temperature by 8-10°C, or even more with appropriate airflow. Since the XPG Storm has its own fan, expect it to perform a bit better than passive coolers. Meanwhile, keep in mind that the noise generated by the aforementioned 16,500 RPM fan is speced at 25 dBa, which is noticeable.Besides just cooling SSDs, the ADATA XPG Storm is an accessory that adds style to a modern gaming PC. The shroud of the XPG Storm’s cooler features RGB LEDs that support external 4-pin RGB controllers, as well as ASUS Aura Sync, GIGABYTE RGB Fusion, and MSI Mystic Light Sync applications. The fan can be connected to a system fan header on a motherboard, or directly to a PSU using a an appropriate adapter.The vast majority of high-performance SSDs these days use M.2 form-factor because of PCIe interface and broad compatibility with all types of desktop, laptop and even hybrid computers. However, M.2 drives have a drawback that affects their performance occasionally: they are hard to cool down. Modern SSD controllers contain multiple computing cores to perform rather intensive mathematical operations while using ECC based on LDPC algorithms in order to work with contemporary NAND flash memory, all the while the NAND dies themselves also produce heat of their own. As a result, high-end drives in particular have been known to throttle some in heavy write scenarios, especially in systems with poor airflow.Manufacturers of SSDs naturally try to tackle heat issues by equipping their drives with thermal pads (Samsung) or heatsinks (ADATA, Plextor), but since the majority of M.2 SSDs come without any cooling, the market of custom cooling solutions for such drives is expanding. Over the past 12 months we have seen aluminium M.2 coolers from Alphacool (passive and liquid cooled) and EKWB (passive), whereas Silverstone is selling aftermarket thermal pads. As it appears, ADATA decided to take aftermarket cooling of its M.2 SSDs into its own hands, thus offering a comprehensive service to its demanding clients as well as increasing its revenue and profits.ADATA XPG Storm at a GlanceAnandTech.comASTORM-CBearing TypeVapo-BearingFan Diameter20 mm (?)RPM16,500 RPM ± 15%, non-PWMAirflow1.9 CFM (at 16,500 RPM)Noise level25 dBA (max)Fan lifeunknownRGB CompatibilityExternal controllers
Intel to Remove Legacy BIOS Support from UEFI by 2020
The PC Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) will turn 39 in three years, and as it turns out, this is when it is going to die on 64-bit Intel platforms. In recent years, Intel has implemented its Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) mechanism with legacy BIOS support as an additional option, however the company intends to remove legacy BIOS support from its UEFI by 2020 in an effort to improve security. For most users, the removal will go unnoticed, but for those who use and rely on legacy hardware on the newest platforms, it means migrating to other platforms.BIOS functionality has evolved over the years, but its key purposes remained intact - run the POST (power-on self-test) to identify and initialize key system components (CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, DMA controllers, etc.), lead to OS boot and then provide certain I/O functions for older operating systems. Standard PC BIOSes from the early 1980s had numerous limitations (a 16-bit processor mode, 1 MB of addressable memory space), which needed to be hacked around starting in the late 1980s, but by the 2000s the industry started to move on to a new iteration: UEFI. UEFI was designed to not have decades-old constraints and is considerably more sophisticated in general.In order to guarantee a smooth transition from BIOS to UEFI (by ensuring compatibility with legacy software and hardware that uses 16-bit OpROM), the Unified EFI Forum (which consists of virtually all the important developers/suppliers of hardware) defined several UEFI system classes and introduced an optional Compatibility Support Module (CSM) to UEFI class 2 to help smooth the process. The vast majority of PCs today feature UEFI class 2 and thus can expose either UEFI or BIOS interfaces, which can be selected in the BIOS configuration. There are systems that belong to UEFI class 3/3+ already (e.g., Microsoft Surface Book), but they are rare. In a bid to make capabilities like UEFI Secure Boot ubiquitous, Intel plans to remove CSM support from new client and server platforms by 2020. As a result, all new platforms from that point on will be strictly UEFI class 3.Once CSM is removed, the new platforms will be unable to run 32-bit operating systems, unable to use related software (at least natively), and unable to use older hardware, such as RAID HBAs (and therefore older hard drives that are connected to those HBAs), network cards, and even graphics cards that lack UEFI-compatible vBIOS (launched before 2012 – 2013). Those who need older programs will still be able to run them in virtualization mode, but outdated hardware will have to be retired or remain on older platforms.For the remaining years, Intel recommends to its partners to improve the UEFI user experience, promote UEFI features like secure boot, signed capsule and other, and remove DOS/BIOS dependencies from production maintenance tools. Essentially do everything to lower significance of CSM.An interesting question regarding depreciation of legacy BIOS support on Intel’s new platforms is which of them will be the first to drop CSM in the client space. Intel is preparing a number of client platforms for mainstream desktop and mobile PCs (Cannon Lake, Ice Lake) to be released in the coming years, but at present we have no idea whether the company intends to trim CSM to a point in 2020, or if it will be a hard change over.It remains to be seen whether AMD has similar plans - we have reached out to determine the state of play. The main reason Intel is performing this change is due to security, and certain OEMs may require specific UEFI features in their future products.Buy Harnessing the UEFI Shell: Moving the Platform Beyond DOS on Amazon.comGallery: "Last Mile" Barriers to Removing Legacy BIOS
Best SSDs: Holiday 2017
It's been only two months since the last update to this guide, but with the holiday sales starting it's time to check where SSD prices are at. There haven't been many new SSD product releases lately and the rollout of 64-layer 3D NAND is proceeding slowly. We don't expect any new releases of significance before the end of the year. Most brands are saving up their announcements for CES in early January. As a result, our recommendations have barely changed.The most visible SSD product launch in recent months was obviously the Intel Optane SSD 900p. In almost every way it is the fastest SSD on the market and its pricing is far lower than the enterprise Optane SSD DC P4800X, but the 900p is still too expensive to be a reasonable choice for any kind of bargain hunter.November 2017 SSD RecommendationsMarket SegmentRecommendationsMainstream 2.5" SATASamsung 850 EVO500 GB @ $149.99 (30¢/GB)WD Blue 3D / SanDisk Ultra 3D1 TB @ $284.99 (28¢/GB)Small and Cheap SATACrucial BX300120 GB @ $59.99 (50¢/GB)Entry-level NVMePlextor M8Pe256GB @ $118.88 (46¢/GB)WD Black512GB @ $199.75 (39¢/GB)Intel 600p1TB @ $338.03 (33¢/GB)High-end NVMeSamsung 960 EVO1 TB @ $447.30 (45¢/GB)Samsung 960 PRO2 TB @ $1159.00 (57¢/GB)M.2 SATAWD Blue 3D M.21 TB @ $304.99 (30¢/GB)Above are some recommendations of good deals in each market segment. Several of these aren't the cheapest option in their segment and instead are quality products worth paying a little extra for.The next table is a rough summary of what constitutes a good deal on a current model in today's market. Holiday sales that don't beat these prices aren't worth standing in line for.November 2017 SSD Recommendations: Price to Beat, ¢/GBMarket Segment128GB256GB512GB1TB2TBMainstream 2.5" SATA50 ¢/GB36 ¢/GB29 ¢/GB27 ¢/GB27 ¢/GBSmall and Cheap SATA41 ¢/GB34 ¢/GB29 ¢/GBEntry-level NVMe58 ¢/GB46 ¢/GB39 ¢/GB32 ¢/GBHigh-end NVMe47 ¢/GB45 ¢/GB57 ¢/GBM.2 SATA47 ¢/GB36 ¢/GB29 ¢/GB27 ¢/GBAs always, the prices shown are merely a snapshot at the time of writing. We make no attempt to predict when or where the best discounts will be. Instead, this guide should be treated as a baseline against which deals can be compared. All of the drives recommended here are models we have tested in at least one capacity or form factor, but in many cases we have not tested every capacity and form factor. For drives not mentioned in this guide, our SSD Bench database can provide performance information and comparisons.Mainstream 2.5" SATA: Samsung 850 EVO, WD Blue 3D/SanDisk Ultra 3DThe largest segment of the consumer SSD market is 2.5" SATA drives intended for use as either the only storage device in the system, or as the primary drive holding the OS and most programs and data. This market segment has by far the widest range of choices, and virtually every SSD brand has at least one model for this segment.These days, the best options for a mainstream SATA drive are all at least 240GB. This is large enough for the operating system and all your everyday applications and data, but not necessarily enough for a large library of games, movies or photos. Our recommendations in this segment now all use 3D NAND flash. Older models using planar NAND tend to be much slower if they use TLC, and either more expensive or hard to find if they use MLC.Buy SanDisk Ultra 3D 2TB on Amazon.com240-256GB480-525GB1TB2TBSamsung 850 EVO$89.99 (36¢/GB)$149.99 (30¢/GB)$299.99 (30¢/GB)$677.66 (34¢/GB)WD Blue 3D NAND$93.59 (37¢/GB)$151.53 (30¢/GB)$294.48 (29¢/GB)$584.75 (29¢/GB)SanDisk Ultra 3D$99.99 (40¢/GB)$144.99 (29¢/GB)$284.99 (28¢/GB)Crucial MX300$92.99 (34¢/GB)$149.99 (29¢/GB)$278.99 (27¢/GB)$549.00 (27¢/GB)Crucial BX300$87.99 (37¢/GB)$144.99 (30¢/GB)Intel 545s$99.99 (39¢/GB)$162.99 (32¢/GB)The Samsung 850 EVO is not quite the fastest SATA SSD possible, but it sets the standard for most of the SATA SSD market. The SanDisk Ultra 3D and its twin the WD Blue 3D NAND are almost as fast as the 850 EVO and are slightly cheaper. The Crucial MX300 is even cheaper but sacrifices some performance, especially at lower capacities.The Intel 545s is still a bit more expensive than most drives in this segment, indicating that Intel and Micron haven't gotten production of their 64-layer 3D NAND up high enough. It's getting closer to competitive pricing, but we probably have another few months before Intel and Micron are ready to match the other 64L NAND prices.Small and Cheap SATA: Crucial BX300Some users are only interested in small SSDs, either because they know their storage needs are modest, or because they plan to keep the bulk of their data on a mechanical hard drive. Simply buying the cheapest SSDs that is large enough can be a bad idea: The smallest SSDs usually suffer from significantly worse pricing on a per-GB basis, and significantly lower performance due to having fewer flash chips to access in parallel.This year, the 128GB capacity class is on its way out. 128GB is still enough space for an operating system and a reasonable number of applications and documents, but it fills up fast when used to store games, movies or photos. Our favorite SATA drives for the 240GB and up capacities are not manufactured in ~128GB versions, requiring a different recommendation. In this segment, we also assume that the drive is pretty likely to be used in a near-full state, which usually leads to reduced performance, but that effect is stronger for some drives than others.Buy Crucial BX300 120GB on Amazon.com120GB240-275GB480-525GBCrucial BX300$59.99 (50¢/GB)$87.99 (37¢/GB)$144.99 (30¢/GB)Crucial MX300$92.99 (34¢/GB)$149.99 (29¢/GB)ADATA SU800$52.99 (41¢/GB)$87.99 (34¢/GB)$147.99 (29¢/GB)The choice for this segment is very clear: the Crucial BX300 stands alone as a cheap but modern drive that doesn't compromise. With Micron 3D MLC NAND and a solid Silicon Motion SM2258 controller instead of a cheaper DRAMless controller, it doesn't fit the mold of a typical budget drive. It's only a few dollars more than the cheapest TLC SSDs, and is definitely worth paying extra for. At higher capacities, its price is less compelling.NVMe SSDsThe market for consumer NVMe SSDs has broadened enough to be split into entry-level and high-end segments. This split will become clearer with the next generation of products as low-end PCIe 3 x2 SSD controllers make their debut, but even now there is a big difference between the Intel 600p and the Samsung 960 PRO.Almost all consumer NVMe SSDs use the M.2 2280 form factor, but a handful are PCIe add-in cards. The heatsinks on many of the add-in cards tend to increase the price while making no meaningful difference to real-world performance, so our recommendation for NVMe SSDs are all M.2 form factor SSDs.The latest generation 64-layer 3D NAND has not yet hit the retail NVMe SSD market. Samsung seems unlikely to deliver a replacement for their 960 PRO and 960 EVO before the end of the year. Toshiba's XG5 offers a tantalizing preview of what their 3D NAND can offer, but a retail version has not been announced. Western Digital/SanDisk have also not announced any consumer PCIe SSDs using 3D NAND yet. Intel's 64-layer 3D NAND available in one consumer SATA drive, but the rest of it is going to the enterprise SSD market for now.Not much has changed recently with the controllers for NVMe SSDs, either. Marvell announced a minor update to their 88SS1093 controller earlier this year but it has not yet been used in any shipping products. Silicon Motion's new generation of NVMe controllers was previewed at Flash Memory Summit and it looks like they'll offer a much-needed performance improvement over the current SM2260 controller, but they're still months away from being ready for release. Drives using Phison's entry-level E8 controller will probably show up as soon as Toshiba's 64L 3D NAND is widely available, but no specific products have been announced. Their new high-end E12 controller is a bit further off.High-end NVMe: Samsung 960 EVO and Samsung 960 PROThe Intel Optane SSD 900p raises the bar for high-end SSD performance, but that speed comes at a steep cost. The price per GB of the 900p is more than twice that of the fastest flash-based SSD. Almost everyone would be better served by a much larger Samsung 960 drive that usually feels just as fast. The 960 PRO's performance advantage over a 960 EVO of the same capacity can look impressive in benchmark charts, but is not noticeable enough during real-world use to justify the price premium.This high-end level of performance is currently hard to obtain from a 256GB-class drive: the 250GB 960 EVO is much slower than its larger siblings, and there isn't a 256GB 960 PRO. The closest alternative would be the OEM SM961 256GB, available from some retailers but without the warranty and support that Samsung's official retail products get.Buy Samsung 960 EVO 500GB on Amazon.com250GB500-512GB1TB2TBSamsung 960 EVO$127.99 (51¢/GB)$247.99 (50¢/GB)$447.30 (45¢/GB)Samsung 960 Pro$289.99 (57¢/GB)$586.99 (57¢/GB)$1159.00 (57¢/GB)Intel Optane SSD 900p$389.99 (139¢/GB)$599.99 (125¢/GB)Entry-level NVMe: MyDigitalSSD BPX, Intel 600pDrives using PCIe x2 controllers or the NVMe Host Memory Buffer feature have not yet hit the retail market, so the entry-level NVMe segment is mostly defined by the use of TLC NAND or planar MLC. These drives mostly fall into two categories: those using the Phison E7 controller with Toshiba 15nm MLC, or those using the Silicon Motion SM2260 controller with Intel/Micron 3D NAND. There are a few exceptions where drives using a Marvell controller are currently offering entry-level pricing.Buy Intel SSD 600p 1TB on Newegg120-128GB240-256GB480-512GB1TBMyDigitalSSD BPX$69.99 (58¢/GB)$114.99 (48¢/GB)$209.99 (44¢/GB)Samsung 960 EVO$127.99 (51¢/GB)$247.99 (50¢/GB)$447.30 (45¢/GB)Intel SSD 600p$84.11 (66¢/GB)$139.00 (54¢/GB)$199.99 (39¢/GB)$338.03 (33¢/GB)The MyDigitalSSD BPX is usually one of the cheapest Phison E7 drives, and the 2.1 firmware revision it ships with is the preferred choice for real-world performance. At the moment, the BPX is by far the cheapest 120GB-class NVMe drive. At the top end of the capacity range, the 1TB Intel 600p is unbeatable. Yes, it's the slowest NVMe drive, but it's still faster than any SATA SSD on light workloads, and it's only slightly more expensive than top SATA SSDs like the Samsung 850 EVO. In the 256GB class, the Samsung 960 EVO is one of the cheapest and fastest options, but for heavier workloads a Phison drive with MLC may be a better choice.(Note that the above performance data for the Patriot Hellfire should be representative of the MyDigitalSSD BPX and any other Phison E7 drive with 2.1 firmware.)M.2 SATA: Crucial MX300 and WD Blue 3DFor notebooks, M.2 SATA has almost completely replaced mSATA. A few notebooks are using the shorter M.2 2242 or 2260 sizes, but most support up to the 80mm length. There are far fewer M.2 SATA options than 2.5" SATA options, but most of the current top SATA SSDs come in M.2 versions. There is currently little to no premium for the M.2 versions of these drives, so these recommendations are quite similar to the 2.5" drive recommendations: at larger capacities, the low price and low power consumption of the Crucial MX300 make it the top choice. At the smallest capacity, the higher performance of the WD Blue 3D is worth paying a little bit more for.Buy WD Blue 3D on Amazon.com250-275GB500-525GB1TBSamsung 850 EVO M.2$104.99 (42¢/GB)$168.00 (34¢/GB)$352.99 (35¢/GB)Crucial MX300 M.2$92.99 (34¢/GB)$149.99 (29¢/GB)$286.99 (27¢/GB)WD Blue 3D M.2$89.99 (36¢/GB)$154.99 (31¢/GB)$304.99 (30¢/GB)
ASUS Launches ROG Strix GL702ZC: 17.3-inch, Eight-Core AMD Ryzen 7, Radeon RX580
ASUS this week introduced the industry’s first gaming laptop powered by AMD’s eight-core Ryzen 7 1700 processor. The ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC-WB74 is a 17.3” desktop replacement machine that uses the desktop-class CPU and a powerful GPU to offer peak gaming performance to its users. Since the system relies on numerous desktop-class components and an inexpensive FHD display panel, the final pricetag not too high for a gaming notebook, with the laptop launching for $1499. Meanwhile, ASUS will also offer an even more affordable version powered by AMD’s six-core Ryzen 5 1600, as well as a more advanced model with a 120 Hz display panel.To a large degree, the ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC can be considered to be AMD’s flagship mobile gaming platform, as it supports all of the company’s latest technologies and can scale in terms of performance and pricing to satisfy different requirements and customers. In fact, the ROG Strix GL702ZC is the first all-AMD gaming laptop in years as makers of mobile PCs avoided AMD’s FX-series CPUs due to power consumption and did not use AMD's APUs due for gaming computers because of performance concerns. The notebook relies on a a couple different AMD 65W desktop processors — the six-core Ryzen 5 1600 or the eight-core Ryzen 7 1700 — as well as AMD’s Radeon RX 580 GPU with 4 GB of memory (the manufacturer does not disclose specs of the part, but we are investigating). The graphics processor supports AMD’s FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology for both internal and external displays. Speaking of displays, ASUS will offer GL702ZC with either 60 Hz or 120 Hz FHD IPS panels, so FreeSync support will be especially handy in the second case. To cool down the two key chips of the notebooks, ASUS uses its Hyper Cool Duo-Copper cooling system featuring heat pipes and two fans that are said to cool down the CPU and GPU independently.Moving on to other internal parts of the ROG Strix GL702ZC. The GL702ZC-WB74 model that ASUS is formally introducing today comes with 16 GB of DDR4 memory, a 256 GB SATA SSD, and a 1 TB hard drive. Meanwhile, more advanced configurations may expand DRAM to 32 GB, upgrade the SSD to 512 GB, and install a 1 TB SSHD or a fast 7200 RPM HDD. By contrast, entry-level configs are going to feature 128 GB SATA SSDs.As for I/O capabilities, the ROG Strix GL702ZC looks like a fairly standard model here. The notebook comes with a GbE port, an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 module, three USB 3.0 Type-A connectors, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C header, an SD card reader, an mDP 1.4 port, an HDMI output, an HD webcam, a TRRS jack and so on. The machine features a Chiclet keyboard with marked WASD keys, 30-key rollover support as well as an isolated numeric pad.With two display outputs, the ROG Strix GL702ZC can handle a couple of external monitors (with FreeSync support), which is okay for a relatively inexpensive gaming machine. In addition, the HDMI port and three USB-A connectors allow users to plug VR headsets to the laptop to play virtual reality games.The machine is not as bulky as flagship offerings featuring more advanced GPUs and storage sub-systems But since the ROG Strix GL702ZC is still a desktop replacement laptop, it is rather thick (34 mm) and heavy (3 – 3.2 kilograms). ASUS does not disclose specific battery runtime figures, but a 76 Wh battery should provide enough time do an urgent work while on the go.ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZCROG Strix GL702ZC-WB74DisplayDiagonal17.3"Resolution1920×1080TypeIPSRefresh60 Hz with AMD FreeSyncResponse TimeunknownColor Gamut72% NTSCCPUAMD Ryzen 7 1700
The ASUS ZenBook 3 Review: A Convincing Case for Quad Core Thin & Light Laptops
ASUS is a company that doesn’t shy away from the latest technology, and with the new ZenBook 3 UX490UA, they’ve updated one of their thinnest and lightest machines to include the latest Intel 8th Generation processors. It’s likely no surprise to any of our readers what this means, but for those who are just now dipping their toes into Intel's newest processors, this is Kaby Lake Refresh, which features the first ever quad-core ultramobile Core processor from Intel. ASUS in turn has packed Intel's latest processor into a small, lightweight chassis, with all of the features expected in a modern Ultrabook.
Best Mechanical Keyboards: Holiday 2017
Continuing our run of holiday buyers' guides, this afternoon we're taking a look at peripherals. Considering that a PC’s peripherals can easily outlive the main system’s components and usually stay the same even after several main system upgrades, they are often not given the attention they deserve. Keyboards are just such a component; it is the main interface with the PC, yet most casual users hardly stop to consider what would be the most practical/comfortable choice for them.
Marvell to Acquire Cavium for $5.5 Billion, Augmenting Marvell's CPU, Networking, & Security Assets
Marvell and Cavium on Monday announced that they had reached a definitive buyout agreement. Under the terms of the transaction, Marvell will acquire all outstanding shares of Cavium for around $5.5 billion in cash and stock. Boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the deal. The deal in turn will see Marvell acquire Cavium assets that cover a number of businesses and technologies, including CPUs, networking, multimedia, security, and other chips. Marvell hopes that the combined company will have the a product portfolio to enable future growth.Marvell will pay $84.15 ($40 in cash and 2.1757 of its shares) for each Cavium share, which represents an 11% premium over the price of a Cavium share according to Reuters. The ratio was based on a price of $80 per share, using Marvell's undisturbed price prior to November 3, when media reports of the transaction emerged, the two companies said. In total, Marvell will pay around $5.5 billion for outstanding shares of Cavium and will absorb Cavium’s debt of approximately $637.6 million, which will bring the value of the transaction to over $6 billion. Marvell plans to finance the cash payment with a combination of cash from the combined companies and $1.75 billion in debt financing from various banks. After the deal is completed, Cavium’s shareholders will own 25% of the combined company. Meanwhile, Cavium’s co-founder and CEO Syed Ali will join the board of directors of Marvell, whereas another co-founder Raghib Hussain and vice president of IC engineering Anil Jain will join Marvell’s leadership team.Marvell is mostly known for its storage controllers – including chips for HDDs, SSDs, and RAID – networking components, as well as wireless connectivity solutions. Storage ICs accounted for roughly a half of Marvell’s revenue in the recent years. Meanwhile, as unit shipments of hard drives started to decrease several years ago, so did sales of controllers for HDDs and RAID equipment. Furthermore, sales of other products from Marvell dropped too. As a result, the company’s revenue decreased from $3.637 billion in FY2015 (ended on January 31, 2015) to $2.318 billion in FY2017 (ended on January 28, 2017). Marvell lost $811.4 million in FY2016, but it was profitable for four out of the most recent fiscal years.The company that Marvell plans to acquire looks completely differently. Cavium is a developer of ARM and MIPS-based SoCs for network, video, security, storage connectivity, server and other applications. Throughout the last eight years, the company has acquired seven companies in a bid to expand its product portfolio. Cavium’s revenues have been increasing rapidly — from nearly $373 million in FY2014 (ended on December 31, 2014) to $603.3 million in FY2016 (ended on December 31, 2016). However, Cavium has not been profitable for the last five years, a troubling situation for investors and the Cavium board.Marvell and Cavium at a Glance
Best Laptops: Holiday 2017
It's time for another look at the notebook market. The rollout of the 8th gen quad-core U series has been slowly happening, with more products available, and we've also had the announcement and release of the latest AMD 15-Watt U series processors as well. There's only a single laptop available with the AMD chip at the moment, but we expect more over the coming months. The excitement there will be improved GPU performance in a low TDP processor, where Intel has owned the market for the last several years, so hopefully we can see some more products shipping with AMD soon, so we can check them out in a high quality chassis.
Promise Launches TD-300 9-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock: GbE, HDMI, USB 3.0, TB3 Charging & More
Promise has introduced its first Thunderbolt 3 dock designed primarily for Apple’s latest MacBook Pro laptops, but also compatible with any systems featuring a TB3 header. The Promise TD-300 dock carries a variety of modern ports and targets media professionals (who also happen to use Promise’s external storage solutions), but can also satisfy needs of mainstream users as well.Nowadays a lot of people replace desktops with laptops and use them accordingly: plug in external displays, keyboards, storage systems, various peripherals, even external graphics cards. Therefore, when Apple launched its latest generation MacBook Pro notebooks with only four Thunderbolt 3 ports, many of such people were upset with the absense of popular USB Type-A connectors. Apple promised them that upcoming docking solutions would solve their needs, but it has taken developers a little less than a year to design solutions that would offer something more than a couple of USB Type-A headers, a GbE and a DisplayPort. Recently OWC launched its 13-in-1 ‘one dock to rule them all’ solution and this week Promise releases its 9-in-1 dock.When it comes to general ports that are used by everyone, the Promise TD-300 (DOCK1TB3US) is equipped with five USB 3.0 connectors (one supporting 5V/1.5A charging) — two on the front and three on the back. Docks with five USB headers are rather rare, but since there are people with loads of external USB peripherals (a keyboard, a mouse, a printer, a scanner, and a spare one for a USB drive), demand for such adapters clearly exists. People who use laptops for stationary work obviously prefer the fastest and the most stable Internet connection possible, so the TD-300 has a GbE port, which will be handy in business/corporate environments as well.Moving on to more specific I/O connectors, we notice that the TD-300 comes with an SD 3.0 card reader, a feature that will be greatly appreciated by professional photographers, which happen to be among Promise’s regular clientele. To display photos or videos, the TD-300 has an HDMI 2.0 connector and another TB3 header that carries two DP 1.2 streams (the header can be used to daisy chain other TB3 devices too). HDMI ports are rare guests on TB3 docks because manufacturers need to install DP-to-HDMI bridges to enable them (adding to BOM), so Promise deserves a credit for installing one. Meanwhile, the TD-300 lacks basic DisplayPort connectors, possibly because of design complexity. Keeping in mind that most high-end displays usually feature both HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, the lack of DP is hardly a problem. Meanwhile, if someone needs to plug two monitors to the TD-300, they will have to use an HDMI output and a TB3-to-DP cable that costs from $10 to $20. Jumping from video to audio, the TD-300 also has 2.1-channel-supporting TRRS connector that can be used to plug in speakers, a headset and other audio equipment.To add convenience, the Promise TD-300 can deliver up to 60 W of power using its Thunderbolt 3 input cable to the laptop, eliminating any need to use the notebook’s own charger. Larger and more powerful PCs (such as Apple’s MacBook Pro 15”) will charge slower because they are designed for more powerful chargers (85 W in case of the MBP).One interesting thing to note about the Promise TD-300 is its design. Unlike most of Thunderbolt 3 docks out there, this one does not match design of the latest MacBook Pro computers. It is black, its front side is tapering, it even has two LEDs (one indicates power, another indicates TB3 connection). In fact, Promise aims its TD-300 primarily at its own customers, including those who use the Pegasus3 TB3 external storage solutions or other products, so it wanted to match its own devices on the first place. Furthermore, black just fits well in any home or office environment.The Promise TD-300 will be available for $249 from November 22 directly from Promise, from Amazon as well as from other retailers. The TD-300 comes with a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable and is covered by a two-year warranty.Buy Promise Thunderbolt 3 Dock TD-300 on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Toshiba Commercializes SDK’s 9th Gen PMR, Tech Enables 14 TB PMR HDDs in 2018
Toshiba recently started to ship its single-platter 1 TB 2.5”/7 mm hard drives in the HDD market for notebooks. The drive is based on Showa Denko K.K.’s (SDK) 9 generation perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) platters that have never been used for any products before. The main feature of the new generation is increased areal density, which enables 1 TB 2.5” platters and up to 1.8 TB 3.5” platters. This opens the door for the next-gen nearline PMR HDDs with up to 14 TB capacity sometimes in 2018.Small Drive Prognosticates Big Future for 9 Gen PMRToshiba is the first customer of SDK to use its latest 1 TB 2.5” PMR media inside the single-platter MQ04ABF100 hard drive. The drive has a 128MB cache buffer and features a 5400 RPM spindle speed. The 2.5”/7 mm drive is aimed at inexpensive laptops that require a lot of storage. Toshiba officially introduced the drive in late September. PC makers like Lenovo have started to add its support to BIOSes of some PCs, indicating that actual shipments of the HDD have either started, or, are about to. Previous 2.5”/7 mm drives such as those from Seagate (ST1000LM048) and Western Digital (WD10SPZX) used platters based on shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology with all its associated performance peculiarities. While the launch of a PMR-based 1 TB 2.5”/7 mm HDD is important, the potential of the 9 generation PMR does not end here.Since 2015, Showa Denko has found a way to increase areal density of its 9G PMR media, SDK's 3.5" 9G PMR platters now have capacity of up to 1.8 TB.According to SDK, 9 generation PMR media for 3.5” hard drives will have capacity between 1.5 and 1.8 TB. Typically, platters of the same generation produced by SDK, Seagate, and Western Digital have similar areal density with some minor differences. Therefore, we can expect the 9 gen PMR technology from the aforementioned HDD makers to feature similar capacities. Showa Denko plans to start mass production of its 9 gen PMR 3.5” media in early 2018, but, neither Seagate nor Western Digital (who produce their leading-edge platters in-house) have announced their timeline for similar discs. Typically, production schedules for advanced media also tend to be very similar for various makers, but we do not have any official data in hand right now.14 TB PMR HDDs May Be Just Around the CornerToday’s top-of-the-range enterprise-class 3.5” HDDs from Seagate and Western Digital can store up to 12 TB of data. They are based on eight 8 generation PMR platters featuring ~1.5 TB capacities. Toshiba is a little bit behind its rivals with their 10 TB units featuring seven 8 gen platters with 1.43 TB capacity. With the arrival of the 9 gen PMR platters in 2018, hard drive makers will be able to increase the capacities of their eight-platter models to 14 TB, while designs with seven platters can go up to 12 TB.It is interesting to note that Seagate has been talking about 14 TB models for a while, without any concrete public details. Meanwhile, the company’s 14 TB HDD will be more than just a capacity bump. With the 12 TB Enterprise Capacity (Exos) model, Seagate began to use TDMR (two-dimensional magnetic recording) technology to boost the read performance of the drives. The 14 TB HDD will take advantage of Seagate’s 2 gen TDMR implementation. We can expect an increase in performance and/or other refinements.Toshiba has also been talking about its 14 TB HDDs since at least mid-2016 (investor presentation, page 22). As Toshiba does not produce advanced platters in-house, it will have to use SDK’s 9 gen PMR media for its upcoming 14 TB HDDs. It is noteworthy that the company’s next-gen nearline hard drives are projected to be helium-filled models. This will enable lower power consumption compared to their existing 10TB products.Assuming that Toshiba’s HDD roadmap has not been altered since 2016, we can also expect a helium-filled 16 TB nearline drive in late-2018. However, no details about that model are available at this time.Western Digital has not announced any plans for 14 TB PMR HDDs so far, but the company is committed to PMR evolution (based on its most recent presentation, pages 21 and 49) and it will be a surprise if it does not use its upcoming PMR platters for higher-capacity nearline hard drives. Meanwhile, one of the older Western Digital’s roadmaps (page 58) points to usage of TDMR in 2018. Since the company has ceased development of 10K and 15K HDDs for enterprises, the only candidates for TDMR are nearline hard drives, assuming that the roadmap has not changed.Buy WD Gold 12 TB HDD on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Intel Announces XMM 8060 5G & XMM 7660 Category 19 LTE Modems, Both Due in 2019
Intel last week announced that its first commercial 5G modem, the XMM 8060, is now under development and will ship in a couple of years. As part of the announcement, the company reiterated its plans to offer a top-to-bottom XMM 8000 family of 5G modems for various applications, including smartphones, PCs, buildings and vehicles. In addition, the company announced its XMM 7660 Cat-19 LTE modem that supports download speeds of up to 1.6 Gbps, which will be available in 2019.At present, Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform is used to test 5G technologies in different locations around the world. For example, one of such devices installed aboard the Tallink Silja Europa cruise ship is used to enable Internet connectivity to passengers while in port in Tallinn, Estonia, (where another 5G MTP is installed) and the nearby area. Meanwhile, Intel’s 5G Modem for client applications is evolving as well. Intel said that devices powered by the silicon can now make calls over the 28 GHz band. The 5G MTP will be used for its purposes for a while and will even gain new capabilities over time, but the company is working on a family of commercial modems that will be used for mass applications sometimes in 2019 and onwards. The Intel XMM 8000-series multi-mode modems will operate in both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave global spectrum bands, combining support for existing and next-gen radios. Intel does detail the whole lineup two years before the launch but indicates that it will be able to address smartphones, PCs, vehicles, and fixed wireless consumer premise equipment (CPE).One of the first members of the Intel XMM 8000 family will be the XMM 8060 modem. This unit will support full 5G non-standalone and standalone NR, as well as 2G, 3G/CDMA, and 4G modes, thus enabling devices to work in different locations, including large cities with 5G standalone NR (this may be a distant future) as well as rural areas that have 2G or 3G networks. Intel expects commercial devices based on the XMM 8060 to ship in mid-2019, a little bit ahead of 5G networks deployment in 2020.Since 5G is not going to become widespread for a number of years to come, there will be demand for Gigabit speeds over LTE from various parties in 2018 - 2020. Intel announced its first-gen Cat 16 Gigabit LTE modem — the XMM 7560 — earlier this year and at present the chip is being tested by smartphone makers. A good news is that it now can officially achieve Gigabit-class speeds (presumably in an actual device), so expect commercial products on its base sometimes next year. In the meantime, Intel is prepping the XMM 7660, its second-generation Gigabit LTE modem capable of up to Cat 19 (1.6 Gbps) downlink connections. Intel hasn't disclosed much in the way of details on this one, but expect a natural set of features here — advanced MIMO, carrier aggregation, 256QAM, loads of bands support, etc. Intel expects commercial devices to adopt the XMM 7660 in 2019. By that time, leading carriers will implement many of the features necessary for both 5G and Gigabit LTE, so the modem will be able to achieve its speeds in many locations.Related Reading:
The MSI X299 Tomahawk Arctic Motherboard Review: White as Snow
Our first look at MSI X299 offerings arrived in the form of a mid-range board from the Arsenal Gaming series, the Tomahawk Arctic. The Tomahawk line of motherboards, MSI says, have heavy plated heatsinks and "combative looks ready for anything". It uses MSI's branded 'Military Class VI' components and claims to have features for gamers aimed to improve the gaming experience.
ASUS Launches ROG Swift PG27VQ: Curved 27-inch LCD with 165 Hz G-Sync & RGB Lighting
ASUS is about to start selling its new ROG Swift PG27VQ, the company's latest 165Hz monitor. Aimed at gamers who are looking for a very high responsiveness in games along with ultimate style, the monitor features a curved panel and 1 ms response time. To make design of the ROG Swift PG27VQ unique, ASUS added its RGB Aura Sync lighting to the back of the display.RGB LED lighting has (inexplicably) become a signature feature of gaming hardware in 2017. As we've already seen, there are motherboards, graphics cards, memory modules, chassis, PSUs, keyboards, mice, even SSDs with RGB LEDs, on the market these days. Earlier this year ASUS decided to complete the list of RGB lighting-enabled devices with its curved ROG monitors. So far, the company formally introduced three of such displays, but only the relatively inexpensive ROG Strix XG27VQ has been released commercially so far. ASUS is going to change this in the coming weeks as it is getting ready to start sales of the considerably more expensive ROG Swift PG27VQ.The ASUS PG27VQ uses a 27” TN panel with a 2560×1440 resolution, an “overclockable” 165 Hz refresh rate, a 1 ms response time as well as a 1800R curvature. Responsiveness is a major selling point of the monitor, which is a reason why the manufacturer went with a TN panel featuring 400 nits brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio and 170°/160° viewing angles, nothing unexpected from TN here. As for ergonomics, the ROG Swift PG27VQ can adjust height, tilt, swivel or can be attached to a VESA wall mounting. Those interested in a multi-display configuration will be glad to know that the display has thin bezels. As for connectivity, the monitor comes with an HDMI 1.4, a DisplayPort 1.2, a dual-port USB 3.0 hub and an earphone jack.Just like any other ‘Republic of Gamers’ monitor from ASUS, the ROG Swift PG27VQ features a host of features aimed just at gamers. Firstly, it supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync dynamic refresh rate technology with ULMB, which is designed to make fast-paced actions look sharper. The combination of a 165 Hz maximum refresh rate, 1 ms response time as well as G-Sync with ULMB should deliver rather impressive experience. Secondly, the monitor comes with the ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting on the back to customize the look of the display or even synchronize its lighting with other components featuring the technology. In addition, the LCD has ROG’s LED lighting projection signature on the bottom, which owners can customize as well. Thirdly, the monitor supports the ASUS GamePlus modes, which are present on other gaming monitors by the company, and ASUS GameVisual color profiles for different type of content. Finally, the monitor is compatible with NVIDIA’s 3D Vision technology for those who still have the shutter 3D glasses kit (or plan to get one now).ASUS 'Most Responsive' 27" Curved Gaming MonitorROG Swift PG27VQPanel27" TNNative Resolution2560 × 1440Refresh Rate Range165 Hz overclockableDynamic Refresh RateG-Sync with ULMBG-Sync RangeunknownResponse Time1 ms (gray-to-gray)Brightness400 cd/m²Contrast1000:1Viewing Angles170°/160°Curvature1800RInputsHDMI 1.4
Best Video Cards for Gaming: Holiday 2017
For gaming PCs that push the pretty pixels on the screens, the video card is the most important component. And given the sheer amount of custom options, choosing the right graphics card for your budget can be very difficult. In our Video Cards for Gaming guides, we give you our recommendations in terms of GPU models and current prices representative of an affordable non-blower custom card. Our guide targets common gaming resolutions at system-build price points similar to our CPU guides.
BitFenix Introduces Enso Case and Alchemy 3.0 Addressable RGB Magnetic LED Strips
Bitfenix has added a new mid-tower to its chassis lineup dubbed the Enso. The Enso comes with a metallic front and a tempered glass side panel to display the components inside. The front panel has integrated addressable RGB illumination in each corner which gives the case a unique look. Bitfenix has worked closely with ASUS and the AURA Sync software to ensure the case and the new Alchemy 3.0 RGB Magnetic LED strips can be synchronized using the AURA Sync software or using the pre-installed controller on the back of the case. The Enso supports motherboards from Mini-ITX to E-ATX (Up to 272mm) and supports radiators both in front and on the rear exhaust for increased compatibility. The top of the case has locations for fan mounts and a mesh cover, or if none are used up top, users can place a solid panel on it for noise reduction and airflow. Dust filters on the Enso, two located on the front one on the bottom, slide out from the side instead of from the top or bottom allowing for easier access and maintenance. Outside of the tempered glass panel, the remainder are finished in a matte black. If a black case doesn’t tickle your fancy, it also comes in white with tempered glass side panel as well.Buy BitFenix Enso (White) on NeweggThe IO panel sits on the top of the case and includes two USB 3.0 ports, power and reset buttons, an RGB LED button, microphone and headphone jacks, as well as LEDs for power and drive activity. No support for USB 3.1 Type-C connectivity, however. Exterior measurements for the mid-tower case are (W)210mm x (H)489mm x (D)454mm (8.26 x 19.13 x 17.84-inches). The Enso has a simple interior design without obstructions, like a drive cage, for example, to thwart airflow inside and keep noise levels down. Bitfenix mentions the intakes are hidden on the front panel and helps with the clean design aesthetic. Though the look is clean, It makes me wonder where the intakes are and how much airflow can really get in there compared to an open front style case. That aside, the power supply is separated from the rest of the case in its own chamber which will help hide the wires and improve airflow. The space will fit ATX and standard Power Supplies up to 160mm in length. It also gas pre-cutout grommets and 23mm of space behind the motherboard tray for cable management purposes. As far as locations to mount storage, the Bitfenix has 3 2.5-inch bays and 2 3.5-inch bays (usable as 2.5-inch also) which is about par for the mid-tower sized course. There is support for 2x120/2x140mm fans in the front, 2x120mm up top, and 1x120mm on the rear. It comes with a 120mm fan from the front (black) and a 120mm fan in the rear (static RGB). The front of the case supports 2x120mm or 2x140mm sized radiators up to 35mm thickness while on the rear a 1x120mm size will fit. The maximum GPU length is 340mm(13.38-inches) which will nearly any on the market. The maximum height for a CPU heatsink is 160mm(6.29-inches) which will also fit some pretty tall units. As always, confirm the specifications for proper fitment.Alchemy 3.0 Addressable RGB LEDsThe Alchemy 3.0 addressable LEDs are also a new edition to the lineup and offer more lighting options than non-addressable RGB LEDs.Using the AURA Sync software and a 3-pin addressable header, a nearly infinite amount of looks are possible. The new strips are magnetic and have a 3M adhesive strip to allow for easier installation and relocation on the metal panels. They use SK6812 TriBright SMD LEDs which are also found in their other products. The strips can be purchased with an optional controller that is pre-programmed with multiple single-color modes and three multi-color rainbow modes. Like the strips, it also has a magnet attached for easier mounting.Pricing was not listed however the Enso Case in white is available at Newegg now for $80 while the Alchemy 3.0 strips I was unable to source online.BitFenix EnsoModelEnsoCase TypeATX Mid-TowerDimensions(W)210 x (H)489 x (D)454mm (8.26 x 19.13 x 17.84-inches)ColorBlack or WhiteBody MaterialSteel, Plastic, Tempered GlassNet Weight7kg(15.4lbs)External Drive BaysNoneHDD/SSD Bays2 x 3.5" (or 2 x 2.5") and 2 x 2.5"Expansion Slots7Motherboard TypeMini-ITX, MicroATX, ATX, E-ATX (to 272mm)System FanFront: 2 x 140mm or 2 x 120mm (1 x included - black)
Intel to Use Additional Assembly & Test Factory to Improve Supply of Coffee Lake CPUs
In a mildly interesting bit of news for a Friday, Intel has notified its customers that it will use an additional assembly and test facility in a bid to improve supply of its latest desktop Coffee Lake processors. The new site has been certified equivalent for the said CPUs, so the finished products will be identical to those that are available today.When Intel released its Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, Core i5-8400, and other Coffee Lake products in early October, they could not meet demand and many stores did not have the higher-end models in stock at all. Today, the unlocked Core i7-8700K and i5-8600K are overpriced (compared to their MSRP) and not readily available at all times (with stock status changing several times a day), which means that their supply is not continuous and Intel cannot meet demand from all of its customers.Basic Specifications of Intel Core i5/i7 Desktop CPUsCPUCoresFreq.
Futuremark To Release VRMark Cyan Room on November 22: A DX12 VR Benchmark
This week, Futuremark announced that their new Cyan Room DX12 test will be released for VRMark next Wednesday (November 22). This comes around a year after VRMark’s original release in November 2016, which first brought the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift oriented Orange Room test, as well as the forward-looking 5120 x 2880p resolution Blue Room test.Originally announced in February along with the still-in-development mobile VR benchmark, Cyan Room is built off a pure DirectX 12 VR engine designed in-house, intended to showcase the advantages that a low overhead API like DX12 can bring to VR, even to less powerful machines. Like the existing “Room” tests, Cyan Room does not require an HMD and offers custom settings and a free-navigation Experience mode. Interestingly, the Cyan Room is no longer described as sitting in between the Orange Room and Blue Room, leaving it unclear where it falls in terms of graphical intensity.For Futuremark as a whole, the Cyan Room is yet another DX12 based benchmark they are adding to their suites. Last month, Futuremark released Time Spy Extreme, a 4K version of their “Time Spy” DX12 3DMark test and generally punishing to graphics cards, with only the Titan Xp hovering close to the 30fps mark. No more technical details about the Cyan Room have been disclosed, but presumably it will incorporate asynchronous compute like in Time Spy Extreme. These releases come at a time where VR headsets are becoming more affordable and low-level APIs like DX12 and Vulkan are continuing to power more and more video games. For the low-latency, high resolution, and smooth framerate requirements of VR, low-level APIs could prove themselves invaluable in democratizing VR experiences.More information on the Orange Room and Blue Room tests can be found in Futuremark’s VRMark Technical Guide, which has yet to be updated with Cyan Room information. Cyan Room will be released on November 22 as a free update for VRMark Advanced and Professional Editions.
Best PC Power Supplies: Holiday 2017
Now that you've picked out your CPU, it's time to start picking out the rest of your system components. And perhaps the most humble but overlooked of these components is the power supply unit (PSU). Available in a wide range of sizes and power capacities, there are a number of great PSUs out there, but choosing between them can be a challenge. So today we're bringing you our annual PC power supply guide, to help you sort figure out what the best options are, be it a low-wattage unit for a small form factor PC, or a hulking kilowatt unit for the most powerful PC.
Windows Mixed Reality Headsets Gain SteamVR Support, a Library of VR Games
When Microsoft introduced its Windows Mixed Reality platform for productivity and gaming earlier this year, it was clear that in order to make it competitive, the software giant would need to either create its own VR marketplace or gain compatibility with an existing one. This week Microsoft and Valve announced that Windows Mixed Reality headsets are now compatible with the SteamVR platform and therefore dozens of VR games.Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets will be available from multiple vendors, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and others for the price of $400 – $500 or so with controllers included. The head-mounted displays (HMDs) require a Windows 10 PC with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to operate as well as Steam with SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR add-ons to access virtual reality games (there is a guide how to set everything up at Steampowered). At present, the WMR for SteamVR app is in Steam Preview stage, so it is not final with all the possible consequences.Besides specific software, Windows Mixed Reality headsets require high-end hardware to play VR games. Officially, Microsoft has rather moderate requirements for its WMR platform (a quad-core Core i5 CPU, a GeForce GTX 960/1050 or similar GPU, etc.), but to play VR titles comfortably, Valve advices its WMR customers to use a considerably more powerful system featuring at least Intel’s quad-core Core i7 7700/7700K processor as well as NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. Such requirements do not come completely unexpected. Windows Mixed Reality HMDs feature two 1440×1440 LCD panels (for a total resolution of 2880×1440) with a 90 Hz refresh rate and running modern games at a 2880×1440 resolution at 90 FPS or higher is a tough job for a GPU. Since different games have different requirements, it is obvious that far not all titles need a high-end video card, but it makes sense to keep the recommendations in mind.General Specifications of a Windows Mixed Reality HeadsetDisplay2x LCDResolution2880x1440 (combined)
AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.11.2
Just ahead of tomorrow’s Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) release, AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.11.2, bringing game support to Battlefront II as well as a number of bug fixes. 17.11.2 comes as a more minor update, with the highlighted fixes largely targeting Radeon Software issues (e.g. ReLive and WattMan).Officially launching on November 17, Battlefront II is the much awaited sequel to EA DICE’s 2015 Star Wars Battlefront (and named nearly identically to 2005’s Battlefront II). Once again built off of the Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefront II was playable for 10 hours starting last week, applicable to gamers part of EA’s Play First Trial early access program. Not long after, EA faced significant player criticism over their implementations of Battlefront II’s microtransaction and character progression systems. EA DICE later took to a Reddit AMA to respond to concerns.As far as AMD graphics are concerned, Battlefront II lists the Radeon HD 7850 2GB as the minimum requirement and Radeon RX 480 4GB as recommended. While the game does feature DX12 support, some players have reported stability and performance issues when DX12 mode is enabled.For bug fixes, AMD has resolved the following issues:
Razer Announces BlackWidow Ultimate Keyboard: IP54 Dust & Splash Resistant Mechanical Keyboard
Razer this week introduced a new version of its popular mechanical BlackWidow keyboard that is splash- and dust-resistant. The BlackWidow Ultimate will be among a few IP54-certified mechanical keyboards on the market, and will offer similar gaming features as other keyboards from the same series sans without RGB backlighting. A good news is that it will also be cheaper than some of its RGB-enabled counterparts.The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard uses Razer’s Green mechanical switches with a 50 g actuation force that are used on many other products from the company. The Green switches will be the only option for the keyboard, so it is not possible to customize tactile feedback or reduce travel distance, as in the case of the flaghship BlackWidow Chroma V2. Meanwhile, the main feature of the BlackWidow Ultimate is of course its IP54-rated resistance against dust and splashes of water. Under the classification, the keyboard is rated to be able to survive an accidental spill and limit the ingress of dust, but it's not so sealed that can be submerged or subjected to extreme dust conditions (e.g. a sandstorm).Gallery: Razer BlackWidow Ultimate IP54 KeyboardFrom general features points of view, the BlackWidow Ultimate promises to offer the same look and feel as other BlackWidow keyboards available today: it has programmable keys (on-the-fly macro recording is supported), it supports 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting and features 1000 Hz polling via USB. The only contemporary feature that the BlackWidow Ultimate does not have is RGB backlighting — the new unit only has green backlighting that supports programmable lighting effects that can be customized using the Razer Synapse software.Razer’s BlackWidow Ultimate is available directly from Razer for $109.99/€119.99 (depending on the region), which is lower than the price of the BlackWidow Chroma V2 with RGB backligting (around $150) and only slightly higher than the price of the BlackWidow X Ultimate keyboard without the IP54 rating (around $100). The company’s retail partners will start to sell the splash- and dust-resistant keyboard later this quarter.Buy Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Corsair Builds 32 GB DDR4-4333 Kit, Only for Pre-Binned Coffee Lake CPUs
Corsair recently revealed a new 32 GB memory kit rated to run at DDR4-4333. The product consists of four modules and is the fastest set of DIMMs featuring such capacity to date. Of particular interest here are the kit's very specific compatibility requirements: due to the heavy strain on a CPU's memory controller from running so many DIMMs this far overclocked, the kit is only compatible with some Intel’s latest 8 Generation Core processors, with Corsair going as far as suggesting interested buyers pickup pre-binned CPUs in order to ensure compatibility.Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 32 GB DDR4-4333 (CMK32GX4M4K4333C19) kit is rated to run in dual-channel modeat 4333 MT/s with CL19 26-26-46 timings and 1.5 V. Like other latest enthusiast-class DDR4 modules, the 8 GB DIMMs from the new kit are based on pre-binned Samsung B-die DRAM chips made using the company’s 20 nm process technology. The modules traditionally feature XMP 2.0 profiles with appropriate SPD settings to make their setup easier. To ensure that the 32 GB DDR4-4333 kits work stably, Corsair uses Intel’s Core i5-8600K CPU running on the ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero motherboard.Corsair's "World's Fastest" 32 GB DDR4 Memory Kit for Intel's Coffee LakeSpeedCL TimingVoltageKit
FSP Releases CMT510 Mid-Tower Chassis: Tempered Glass and RGB Aplenty
FSP released a new mid-tower case adding to its CMT line, the CMT510. The CMT510 features three panels made of tempered glass designed to show off the system inside. The case supports ATX, Micro ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards, video cards to 400mm in length, and supports up to a 360mm radiator for water cooling.The chassis is all black with a matte coating on the aluminum parts of the case. The tempered glass is tinted to 50% and covers the front, left and right panels displaying what is inside. I have to admit, I am not sure why any case would want to show off what is generally a wild world of wires behind the motherboard. That aside, the front panel IO sits on top of the case and includes a power and RGB buttons (cycle through several lighting effects), two USB 3.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks, as well as LEDs for power and HDD activity.The case includes four pre-mounted 120mm RGB LED fans with three in the front and another on the rear. The top 120/1400mm fan location is not occupied. These plug into a simple fan controller mounted on the back of the motherboard tray. Cable management should be easy with a large pre-drilled slot running the vertical length adjacent to the motherboard. Below there is room for an ATX sized power supply sitting under a dust cover running the length of the case. This hides the cables and should keep that area cleaner. On top of the PSU, shroud are two locations to mount 2.5-inch drives along with two more locations on the back for two 3.5-inch or two 2.5-inch drives. dust filtered airflow is to enter the PSU space fed by most of the bottom fan. The CMT510 supports CPU coolers up to 165mm and video cards to 400mm in length without losing drive capacity. Watercooling is also possible inside with support for either a 2x140mm radiator or a 3x120mm radiator on the front of the case. The CMT510 is available now at an MSRP of $100.FSP CMT510 Mid-Town ChassisModelCMT510Case TypeATX Mid-TowerDimensions491 x 208 x448mm (19.15 x 8.11 x 17.57-inches)ColorBlackBody MaterialSECC, Tempered GlassNet WeightN/AExternal Drive BaysNoneHDD/SSD Bays2 x 3.5" (or 2 x 2.5") and 2 x 2.5"Expansion Slots7Motherboard TypeMini-ITX, MicroATX, ATXSystem Fan3 x 120mm RGB LED IncludedI/O Ports2 x USB3.0
Toshiba Sells 95% of Its TV Business Unit to Hisense
Toshiba on Wednesday announced plans to sell 95% stake in its TV business unit to Hisense Electric for approximately $114 million. The transaction will strengthen Hisense’s positions as the world’s fourth largest supplier of TV sets after Samsung, LG and TCL. Hisense will continue to use the Toshiba brand for TVs designed and made by the assets it acquires.Under the terms of the agreement, Hisense will pay ¥12.9 billion ($114 million) for 95% of Toshiba Visual Solutions Corp. (TVS), which owns Toshiba’s TV-related R&D operations, a portfolio of patents and IP, two factories in Japan, sales, services and other operations. Hisense will also get a license to use the Toshiba brand for a period of 40 years for TVs (and other “visual” products) in Europe, South East Asia and other markets. Toshiba hopes to close the deal by the end of February, 2018. Two and a half years ago, Toshiba already withdrew from the North American as well as European TV markets and licensed its brand in the regions to Compal (1, 2). Now, it is selling off the entire business unit and therefore it remains to be seen what happens to its agreements with Compal (most likely, the brand licensing agreement in Europe will not be renewed in 2018, but we will see about this and other markets).Liu Hongxin, CEO of Hisense, indicated that TSV would become an integral part of the Hisense Group and therefore the company would optimize its R&D, supply chain and sales operations, but did not elaborate. In addition, the future Toshiba-branded TVs will use LCD panels made by Hisense.Top 10 TV Makers by Market Share in the Recent Years
NVIDIA Releases 388.31 WHQL Game Ready Driver
Ahead of Friday’s Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) release, today NVIDIA has released driver version 388.31, featuring Game Ready support for the aforementioned Battlefront II, as well as the recently launched Injustice 2 (Steam). 388.31 also features Destiny 2 specific performance improvements, with NVIDIA citing 1440p and 4K gains on Pascal based cards. This update serves as another game-focused update, with a few included bug fixes and no new features.Officially launching on November 17, Battlefront II is the much awaited sequel to EA DICE’s 2015 Star Wars Battlefront (and named nearly identically to 2005’s Battlefront II). Once again built off of the Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefront II was playable for 10 hours starting last week, applicable to gamers part of EA’s Play First Trial early access program. Not long after, EA faced significant player criticism over their implementations of Battlefront II’s microtransaction and character progression systems.For Battlefront II, NVIDIA has brought an appropriate SLI profile to 388.31, along with a profile for EVE Valkyrie – Warzone. Targeting 60 FPS at high settings, NVIDIA taps the GTX 1060 for 1080p, GTX 1070 for 1440p, and GTX 1080 Ti for 4K. To note, while Battlefront II is a 388.31 Game Ready title, NVIDIA does document an open issue with system hangs upon launching the game in DX12 mode on Kepler based GPUs (most GeForce 600 and 700 series cards).388.31 also puts particular focus on Destiny 2 performance improvements. NVIDIA is citing a 28 – 53% performance increase at 1440p and 4K compared to 388.13, looking at a number of GeForce cards from the 1152 CUDA core GTX 1060 (3GB) to the GTX 1080 Ti. Overall, NVIDIA noted that their higher-end configurations saw greater 4K improvement than at 1440p.As a reminder, the current NVIDIA Destiny 2 bundle is still active until November 29, where qualifying GeForce GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti cards and systems will come with a copy of the game. More information can be found on the bundle landing page.Buy EVGA 1080Ti FTW3 Destiny2 on Amazon.comBuy ASUS 1080 STRIX Destiny 2 on Amazon.comFor bug fixes in 388.31, NVIDIA has resolved several issues unrelated to specific games:
PNY Ships PREVAILPRO Mobile Workstations: NVIDIA Quadro with Max-Q, Core i7, Starting at $2,499
PNY recently started to ship its previously announced mobile workstations. The new PREVAILPRO machines are among the first portable workstations to use NVIDIA’s Max-Q design for Quadro GPUs to slim down the PCs. At the same time, the PREVAILPRO do not have any compromises when it comes to CPU, DRAM, or storage performance.The PNY PREVAILPRO workstations are based on Intel’s quad-core Core i7-7700HQ CPU as well as NVIDIA’s Quadro P3000 6 GB or Quadro P4000 8 GB GPUs. Depending on exact SKU, the PREVAILPRO come with 16 GB or 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 memory, a 128 GB or a 512 GB NVMe SSD as the primary storage device as well as a 1 TB or a 2 TB 2.5” HDD as the secondary storage device. The base model of the PREVAILPRO has an FHD 15.6” monitor, but the premium versions feature 4K/UHD 15.6” displays. Meanwhile, the key selling pointa of the PREVAILPRO workstations are their weight and dimensions: the systems weigh around 4.8 lbs (2.17 kilograms) and come in chassis that are 0.73” (18.5 mm) thick, significantly thinner and lighter than traditional mobile workstations.When it comes to connectivity, the PNY PREVAILPRO workstations have a rather advanced set of I/O features too. The systems are equipped with a GbE connector, Intel’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 controller, Creative’s SoundBlaster X-Fi MB5 audio, two USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 ports, three USB Type-A 3.1 Gen 1 connectors, one 6-in-1 SD card reader (with UHS II support), a 2 MP webcam, one HDMI 2.0 output, two Mini DisplayPort 1.3 headers, a fingerprint scanner, a backlit keyboard and so on. For some reason, PNY decided not to equip with its PREVAILPRO with the Thunderbolt 3 that is present on almost all high-end PCs these days, but the number of other ports can partly compensate the lack of TB3 headers. For example, three display connectors are rather excessive even for a workstation-class machine. At the same time, certain customers might complain about the lack of TB3 support because they use it for external storage.Battery life may not be the most important feature of modern desktop replacement laptops, so PNY equipped the PREVAILPRO with a 55 Wh 4-cell Li-Polymer accumulator that gives the notebook about five hours of operation on one charge.PNY PREVAILPRO LaptopsPREVAILPRO
Micron Demos 3D NAND-Based 11 TB U.2, 8 TB SATA Enterprise SSDs at SC17
At the SC17 trade show, Micron is demonstrating several currently unavailable products for the enterprise market. Among other things, the company is showcasing its upcoming Micron 9200 ECO U.2 SSD with 11 TB capacity as well as an 8 TB drive that belongs to the Micron 5100-series.The Micron 9200 family of SSDs was introduced earlier this year and was designed for applications with different requirements for performance and endurance. The drives are based on the company’s 32-layer 3D TLC NAND memory and will be available in capacities ranging from 1.6 TB to 11 TB. The Micron 9200 ECO is the latest addition to the lineup that is aimed at write-intensive applications and will be available in 8 TB and 11 TB configurations with rated endurance of 11.7 and 16.1 PB, respectively. As for performance, we are dealing with devices capable of 3.35 GB/s – 5.5 GB/s sequential read speed as well as 800K and 900K random read IOPS, depending on the interface used (PCIe 3.0 x4 or x8).When Micron announced the new 9200-series drives at FMS this August, it did not showcase pictures of the SSDs; but at the SC17, the manufacturer is displaying the Micron 9200 ECO in the U.2 form-factor, indicating that the product is in production getting closer to the release. Unfortunately, there is no firm launch date just yet.UPDATE 11/17: Micron said in an email that as of November, all of its 9200-series U.2 SSDs were in production.In addition to the 11 TB U.2 drive, the company is demonstrating an 8 TB version of the Micron 5100-series, which has not been introduced officially. The Micron 5100 family is based on the company’s 32-layer 3D TLC NAND flash as well as Marvell’s 88SS1074 controller. The highest capacity officially featured by the Micron 5100 lineup is 7680 GB.The Micron 5100 ECO 7.68 TB drive carries 8 TB of raw NAND, but reserves 320 GB for overprovisioning and other needs. It is unknown whether the SSD that Micron is displaying at the SC17 is indeed the 5100 ECO 7.68 TB marked differently, or Micron is getting ready to offer a new configuration because of demand from various partners.Related Reading:
be quiet! Introduces Dark Base 700 Mid-Tower Case: RGB, USB 3.1 Type-C, Slide Out Radiator Bracket
be quiet! has shared details about its new mid-tower case the new Dark Base 700. The DB700 will offer users integrated RGB lighting, USB 3.1 Type-C, and plenty of options for a wide-range of cooling from air to custom water cooling. The chassis is able to fit ATX, Mini-ITX, and some E-ATX motherboards (to 12.08” x 10.82”) which gives owners a lot of options for what parts will go inside the case.Settling in behind the flagship full tower Dark Base 900 chassis, the mid-tower 700 looks very similar on the outside sharing the same design aesthetic, all black - including LED trim surrounding the front panel. About the only thing missing between the two is the cool Qi charger in the 900 Pro. The case only comes in black; however, the trim LED comes in six switchable colors and three modes. It is also able to synchronize with most motherboards or RGB controllers. The left side panel is made out of tempered glass and is held securely to the frame with four thumb screws. The remainder of the panels are made from brushed aluminum and include sound insulation mats while the internal structure is made from steel. The front panel jacks are located on front and top of the case and angled down so as to gain easier access from the front. The front panel includes a power and reset buttons, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, microphone and headphone jacks, as well as a fan controller which controls the fans connected to the included PWM controller on the back of the motherboard tray.The setup inside the case allows for multiple configurations as the motherboard tray is able to be inverted, or removed, and can be used as a bench table. The Dark Base 700 has a removable drive cage able to house three 2.5-inch and seven 3.5-inch drives. The 3.5-inch bays are able to hold two 2.5-inch drives simultaneously for a total of 17 2.5-inch drives possible.With the drive cage installed, the chassis will hold up to a 286mm(11.25”) video card. When the cage is removed, that balloons up to 430mm(16.9”). The maximum height for the CPU cooler is 180mm(7.08”) fitting many available on the market. The PSU shroud covers the mess of wires and also comes with detachable plates making it possible to install fans at the bottom of the case or on top of the PSU shroud. This still leaves enough space for a radiator in the front and getting the air where it needs to go.Radiators can be placed in any of three locations; the Top - supports up to 360mm, Front - up to 280mm/360mm, and the Rear – a 120mm or 140mm will fit. The top of the case includes a unique slide-out panel where the fans/radiator would mount. This nifty feature takes away the cumbersome task of removing the radiator for maintenance and makes the initial mounting easier.Included in the case are two Silent Wings 3 140mm PWM fans installed in the front and rear of the case. There is room for three fans up top, two additional fans in the front, another on the bottom, and last, on the PSU shroud. All slots support both 120mm and 140mm fans. The Dark Base Pro also is able to control up to six PWM fans using its dual-rail fan controller which is mounted on the back of the motherboard tray. The connectors are divided evenly over two rails and each are switchable between silence and performance modes or can be synced and run at the same speeds.The Dark Base 700 is scheduled for release on this week. Pricing, according to a Tom's Hardware Review of the case, is $180. A fairly hefty price tag, but the case's features can offset that initial shock.be quiet! Dark Base 700Motherboard SizeE-ATX (30.5 x 27.5cm), ATX, MicroATX, Mini-ITXDrive BaysExternalN/AInternal7 × 3.5" or up to 17 x 2.5" (Drive cage)CoolingFront3 × 140 mm or 3 × 120 mm (1 × 140 mm included)Rear1 × 140 mm (included) or 1 × 120 mmTop3 x 140 mm or 3 x 120 mmHDD/SideN/ABottom/PSU Shroud1 × 120mm/140 mm / 1 × 120mm/140 mmRadiator SupportFrontUp to 2 x 140mm or 3 x 120mmRear120mm or 140mmTop2 x 140mm or 3 x 120mmSideN/ABottomN/AI/O Port2 × USB 3.0
HTC Announces Standalone Vive Focus with 6DoF Tracking, Cancels Daydream VR Headsets
HTC on Tuesday formally introduced its new standalone Vive Focus VR headset at the Vive Developers Conference (VDC) in Beijing. The VR HMD is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC and is compatible with content developed using the Vive Wave VR SDK and distributed through the VivePort VR store. The company also disclosed names of the partners, who also plan to use the Vive Wave and the VivePort going forward. The Vive Focus VR will be available only in China. In addition, the company cancelled plans to bring the Google Daydream-compatible headset to European and North American markets.The HTC Vive Focus is a completely standalone Snapdragon 835-powered device that features “a high resolution low-latency AMOLED screen” as well as inside-out 6-degree-of-freedom tracking (6DoF) that does not require any external sensors for positional tracking. In other words, the Vive Focus can be used everywhere without any PC or base stations. The new headset will come equipped with a relatively simplistic Bluetooth 3DoF controller akin to those supplied with the Samsung Gear VR headset. The Vive Focus has a completely different design when compared to the PC-based HTC Vive with new adjustable straps and integrated headphones. Meanwhile, there is also a 3.5-mm audio jack for third-party headphones.HTC first talked about its Snapdragon 835-based VR headset for China in late July. The company still has not released all of the details about the device, probably because it is still polishing off the specs and determining things like launch price. In fact, HTC handed pre-production Vive Focus units to select developers only two weeks ago, so the product is clearly not hitting the market tomorrow.Speaking of developers, there are two important announcements that HTC made at the Vive Developers Conference. Firstly, the company has inked deals with 12 hardware partners in China (including 360QIKU, Baofengmojing, Coocaa, EmdoorVR, Idealens, iQIYI, Juhaokan, Nubia, Pico, Pimax, Quanta and Thundercomm), who will support the Vive Wave SDK and integrate the VivePort VR store into their future products. Secondly, there are 35 Chinese and other content developerswho plan to support the Vive Wave. For example, Unity Technologies plans to integrate VivePort support into its platform and enable “a more intuitive way for developers” to use the Vive Wave VR SDK in its tools.While HTC will release the Vive Focus in China, the company and Google have cancelled plans to bring the Daydream-based VR headset announced earlier this year to Europe and the U.S. No reasons were disclosed, but perhaps HTC does not want to create any internal competition between different platforms before the VR technology in general gets mature.This marks an interesting shift in strategy for one of the leaders of the nascent VR HMD market; the company is now going it alone rather than working with partners like Google, as was previously the plan. HTC's sale of a chunk of their smartphone assets to Google has nudged the company towards being more VR focused – a field where they've had more a lot more luck as of late – so I suppose it's not too surprising that given recent developments, they'd rather go it alone than having to work with partners. It's more risk for HTC, but also more glory and profits if they succeed.As for Google's Daydream platform, while this is a step-back for their own standalone Daydream plans, it shouldn't be a major shift. Oculus, Lenovo, and other vendors have also committed to developing Daydream headsets, and those products remain on-track.Related Reading:
VESA Announces DisplayID Version 2.0 Standard to Succeed EDID
This week, VESA has officially announced the DisplayID v2.0 standard, intended to succeed the venerable Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) used by monitors, TVs, and embedded displays. Like EDID/Enhanced EDID, the DisplayID standard outlines display identification and configuration data, allowing video sources like set-top boxes and graphics cards to automatically identify and setup displays. With that in mind, DisplayID v2.0 brings changes and functionalities to better support modern high-end display technologies, including 120+Hz refresh rates, 4K+ resolutions, Adaptive-Sync, HDR, and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) headset displays.While DisplayID was last updated in 2013 as version 1.3, DisplayID v2.0 was finalized and published this September, keeping the same modular structure as v1.3. Sets of display information are sectioned into self-contained data formats, much like data blocks, modularity that is not present in EDID, providing DisplayID with a much greater degree of flexibility. As for the version differences, DisplayID v2.0’s key changes are updated and new data blocks to support those aforementioned technologies, and VESA cites several specific examples: head-mounted and wearable display specifications, improvements in defining Adaptive Sync, extended field sizes to support higher pixel counts, more parameters for HDR, and high luminance support.These advances come at a crucial time, where in the past few years these technologies are rapidly finding its way into all levels of the consumer sphere. High-end monitors and panels are now defined by FreeSync and G-Sync support in addition to 60+Hz refresh rates and 1080p+ resolutions. Even more affordable displays feature FreeSync or 120+Hz TN panels. 8K displays are already here, and HDR is trickling down by way of modern consoles. And not to mention the burgeoning AR/VR headset space.Considering that these new technologies are more prevalent in high-end displays, VESA comments that DisplayID v2.0 is able to co-exist with EDID, where the former powers high-end displays and the latter remaining in lower-end displays. On a technical level, while DisplayID structures are not directly backwards-compatible with earlier EDID definitions, they share many data field definitions. As high-end displays with newer technologies roll out, DisplayID v2.0 is targeting seamless plug-and-play capabilities that EDID would not be capable of supporting.More information about the VESA DisplayID v2.0 specification can be found on their site as part of their free published standards.
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB HDD Review
Data storage requirements have seen an exponential increase over the last several years. Both cloud and local storage requirements continue to be served by hard drives where workloads are either largely sequential or not performance sensitive. While the advancements in storage capacity have primarily served the interests of datacenters (enabling more storage capacity per rack), the products have trickled down to consumers in the form of drives for NAS (network-attached storage) units and pre-installed in external / DAS (direct-attached storage) enclosures. Seagate is the only one of the three hard drive vendors to target the desktop storage market with their highest capacity drives. We looked at the 10TB BarraCuda Pro drive last year, and the 12TB follow-up was launched last month. This review takes a look at the drive's characteristics and performance for typical desktop workloads.
Intel To Launch 3D XPoint DIMMs in 2H 2018
Presenting at the UBS Global Technology Conference today, Navin Shenoy, Intel Executive Vice President and General Manager of their Data Center Group, shared an update on Intel's roadmap for 3D XPoint DIMMs. Intel claims that they are on track to launch 3D XPoint memory modules in the second half of 2018. They are projecting that 3D XPoint DIMMs will be an $8B market by 2021.After launching several Optane SSD products this year based on 3D XPoint memory, Intel had said almost nothing about their progress toward 3D XPoint DIMM memory modules. Intel first publicly showed a prototype 3D XPoint NVDIMM in January 2016, only a few months after unveiling 3D XPoint memory itself. When the first Optane products launched earlier this year, we were told Intel would have more to say on the subject of 3D XPoint DIMMs in 2018, but today's announcement makes it clear they will be selling the actual hardware within about a year.The launch of 3D XPoint DIMMs will depend on several pieces coming together. First, Intel's 3D XPoint memory must be sufficiently mature to meet the performance and endurance requirements of DIMM-based usage. Their Optane SSDs have all used a PCIe and NVMe interface that adds substantial latency overhead and makes it difficult to assess how close the underlying 3D XPoint memory can come to DRAM performance levels. The Optane SSDs are also shipping with relatively conservative write endurance ratings relative to the eventual expectations for 3D XPoint products: The Optane SSD DC P4800X's 30 drive writes per day for 5 years is not significantly higher than high-endurance flash-based enterprise SSDs can provide.Second, Intel will need to continue increasing production of 3D XPoint memory as their family of Optane SSDs expands and is joined by 3D XPoint DIMMs. Yesterday, Intel and Micron celebrated the completion of an expansion to building 60 of their IM Flash production facilities in Lehi, Utah. This will significantly increase their production capacity of 3D XPoint memory. So far, Intel seems to have been using almost all of the production of 3D XPoint memory for their Optane products while Micron has yet to publicly introduce any mass-produced 3D XPoint-based products. Micron will most likely start announcing and shipping 3D XPoint products under their QuantX brand within the next year, so Intel won't be getting the full benefit of this capacity boost.Third, 3D XPoint DIMMs will require server platform support because they are unlikely to operate as standard DDR4 DIMMs. The JEDEC NVDIMM-P standard for persistent memory DIMMs has not been finalized and is expected next year. It's not certain whether the 3D XPoint DIMMs will adhere to the NVDIMM-P standard or if they will use a proprietary interface, but either way they are likely to require updated CPU and motherboard support. Intel's recently-launched Xeon Scalable platform can support DRAM+flash NVDIMM-N modules. The launch next year of 3D XPoint DIMMs may foretell a simultaneous refresh of the Xeon Scalable platform.
Lenovo Announces New ThinkStation P520/P520C and ThinkPad 52s: Up to 18 Core Xeon-W, Quadro Graphics
Today, Lenovo is announcing a new line of workstations under the ThinkStation P520 banner. Dubbed the ThinkStation P520 and ThinkStation P520C, the new workstations support Intel's new Xeon-W series processors from the quad-core Xeon W-2123, up to the 18 Core behemoth W-2195, and and paired with NVIDIA's Quadro professional graphics. The flagship P520 is geared towards creative professionals working with 3D animation and visual effects, while the P520c is a more cost-effective unit designed for educators and students.Meanwhile, along with the two desktop workstation, Lenovo is also releasing the ThinkPad 52s, their first quad-core Ultrabook mobile workstation. The 52s offers 8 Generation Intel Core i5/i7 processors as well as NVIDIA's Quadro graphics.The ThinkStation P520 is able to support the 18 core flagship Xeon W-Series processor W-2123 on the C422 chipset with support up to 256GB of DDR4 memory using its eight DRAM slots. For Graphics, the P520 supports up to 2x NVIDIA Quadro P6000 cards able to deliver high-performance in demanding 3D applications. The chassis supports a total of eight drives, up to four internal bays, with either six 2.5(up to 12TB) or 3.5-inch (up to 36TB) and M.2(up to 2TB). Intel VROC is supported for NVMe SSDs, while RAID 0, 1,5, and 10 are options for SATA based storage. Connectivity wise, there are four USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A connectors an optional Thunderbolt 3 Type-C connector (via FLEX Module for front bay) as well as Microphone and Headphone jacks for front port connectivity.The back consists of four USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio, eSATA and Firewire connectivity. Wireless duties are managed by Intel Dual Band Wireless AC8265 device offering 2T/2R 2.4/5GHz and Bluetooth 4.2. The 520 has an optional 15-in-1 card reader (9-in-1 included), as well as a 9mm slim ODD.The ThinkStation P520c supports the same Xeon W series CPUs, up to the 18 core W-2123, but instead of 256GB DRAM support, it offers 128GB DDR4 2666 with four DRAM slots. The Graphics are different as well with the P520c supporting up to a single NVIDIA Quadro P5000 graphics card. Storage capacity is a bit less on here with the P520c supporting a total of six drives; four 3.5-inch (up to 16TB) or four 2.5” (up to 8TB). It supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 on SATA as well as VROC support for NVMe drives. Connectivity for 520c front ports are two USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A ports, Microphone/Headphone jacks, as well as optional Thunderbolt 3 Support via the FLEX module in the front bay.The back panel has four USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) ports, two USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio connections, eSATA, and Firewire connectivity. Wireless functionality is also handled by the Intel Dual Band Wireless AC8265 device. Optional removable storage for the 520c consists of either a 9-in-1 or 15-in-1 media card readers a 9mm ODD, or front accessible drive tray.The overall aesthetics of the P520/P520C has not changed at all from its predecessors. The 520 is a rack-mountable tower measuring 6.5” x 18” x 17.3” while the 520c is a (6.9” x 16.8” X 14.8”) without a designation for being rack mountable. The cases are black with hexagon grills in front along with a red line at the top for some color.Lenovo ThinkStation P520 and P520cP520P520cWarranty Period1-4 Year WarrantyProduct PageN/APrice ($US)N/ATypeWorkstationProcessor FamilyIntel Xeon W Series Processors (up to 18c 4.5 GHz)ProcessorsW-2123 to W-2195MemoryUp to 256GB DDR4-2666Up to 128GB DDR4 2666Network ConnectivityGigabit Ethernet
Cheap Supercomputers: LANL has 750-node Raspberry Pi Development Clusters
One of the more esoteric announcements to come out of SuperComputing 17, an annual conference on high-performance computing, is that one of the largest US scientific institutions is investing in Raspberry Pi-based clusters to aid in development work. The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s High Performance Computing Division now has access to 750-node Raspberry Pi clusters as part of the first step towards a development program to assist in programming much larger machines.Buy Raspberry Pi 3 Model B on Amazon.comThe platform at LANL leverages a modular cluster design from BitScope Designs, with five rack-mount Bitscope Cluster Modules, each with 150 Raspberry Pi boards with integrated network switches. With each of the 750 chips packing four cores, it offers a 3000-core highly parallelizable platform that emulates an ARM-based supercomputer, allowing researchers to test development code without requiring a power-hungry machine at significant cost to the taxpayer. The full 750-node cluster, running 2-3 W per processor, runs at 1000W idle, 3000W at typical and 4000W at peak (with the switches) and is substantially cheaper, if also computationally a lot slower. After development using the Pi clusters, frameworks can then be ported to the larger scale supercomputers available at LANL, such as Trinity and Crossroads.
ECS Adds LIVA Q to Lineup: a 5 Oz Apollo Lake Nettop with HDMI 2.0 for Consumers
ECS has expanded its family of ultra-compact LIVA-branded PCs for consumers with a new model called the LIVA Q, which is smaller than some mice. The new system is an upgraded and rebranded version of the company’s PB01CF launched earlier this year. Both nettops are based on Intel’s Apollo Lake platform, but have different positioning: the PB01CF is aimed at digital signage and similar applications, whereas the LIVA Q is meant for consumers and SOHO.The ECS LIVA Q is based on either quad-core Pentium N4200 or dual-core Celeron N3350 and therefore its more advanced version offers higher general purpose and graphics performance than the PB01CF. The new system also offers up to 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory and up to 64 GB of eMMC storage, neither of the options are available on the product released earlier this year. As for connectivity, the LIVA Q has an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.1 wireless module (the PB01CF seems to have BT disabled), a GbE connector, two USB Type-A ports, a microSD card reader, as well as an HDMI 2.0 display output (implemented using a bridge chip) capable of 4Kp60 (vs. HDMI 1.4 on the PB01CF) and supporting the HDMI-CEC function for remotes. The LIVA Q system does not have any analog connectors for audio or video, which may be considered as a limitation by some consumers.The ECS PB01CF is one of the smallest contemporary desktop computers these days and given the ongoing trend towards miniaturization of desktops, it was very plausible for the manufacturer to bring its 0.15-liter nettop that measures 7×7×3.1 cm to the consumer space. Since the original unit was architected rather precisely for digital signage and very basic computing, ECS introduced some performance and connectivity upgrades to the consumer model. The enhancements clearly make the LIVA Q more consumer-friendly than the PB01CF is, but the system is still somewhat behind the LIVA Z in terms of features and performance, so there will be no competition in the LIVA lineup.Brief Specifications of ECS' 5 Oz NettopsLIVA Q
The GIGABYTE Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 Review: Dual Audio Codecs
Today we are having a look at a LED-laden, gaming-focused, ATX motherboard from GIGABYTE: the Aorus AX370-Gaming 5. If a user wants LEDs for Ryzen at under $200, here is one of the primary contenders. Being part of GIGABYTE's gaming product line means we get SLI support, and GIGABYTE is using a gaming-focused network controller (one of two) and some overclocking options for the processor. The interesting part of this board, however, is the use of dual audio codecs: one for the rear panel and one for the front panel. To physically do this requires a couple of compromises, so we have put the board through its paces to see if it is worth buying.
Ryzen Mobile Now On Sale: HP’s ENVY X360
The biggest question when AMD formally launched its Ryzen Mobile platform was all about ‘when’. At the time AMD announced three primary partners and three systems, with the aim that all the units would be available before the holidays. When we spoke to the vendors, only HP seemed to have a closer date than ‘Q1’, with the Envy X360 planned for some time in November. This week it formally went on sale over at hp.com, and it seems to also be available at retail over at Best Buy.
Samsung Pre-Announces 16 Gbps GDDR6 Chips for Next-Gen Graphics Cards
In a surprisingly early revelation, Samsung has confirmed their plans to produce GDDR6 memory. The announcement was made as a part of Samsung’s pre-CES marketing campaign and does not disclose any dates or timeframes. Though it is worth noting that with speeds up to 16Gbps, Samsung's chips are the fastest GDDR6 chips announced to date.Last week Samsung issued a press release covering its products that had been recognized as CES 2018 Innovation Awards winners. Among other things, Samsung mentioned a number of unreleased products, including the Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC for the next Galaxy smarphone, GDDR6 memory, as well as the Gear IconX (2018) headphones. Though with a focus on the awards themselves, Samsung has released little in the way of information on the products receiving awards. And while it is clear why Samsung would decide to withhold details about upcoming products (competition, the company does not want to spoil the actual launch, etc.), it is noteworthy that CEA does not require participating products to be mass-produced, or at least have a clear commercial availability timeframe.GDDR6 is a memory standard that is set to be supported by all three leading DRAM manufacturers, so Samsung's participation has been expected. Less expected was any kind of announcement or reveal before the memory is shipping, as Samsung is notoriously tight-lipped about forthcoming memory products. Consequently and unfortunately, the announcement itself contains little details about the ICs themselves as well as the whole stack of GDDR6 products that Samsung is going to offer. What we do know is that they will feature data transfer rates of up to 16 Gbps at 1.35 V.Formally Announced GDDR6 Plans by DRAM MakersMicronSamsungSK HynixCapacity8 Gbunknown8 GbData RateOver 12 Gbps16 Gbps12 Gbps, 14 GbpsVoltageunknown1.35 V1.35 VProcess Technology16 nm18 nm (?)unknownAvailability TimeframeEarly 2018unknownEarly 2018Ahead of full scale production, one of the big questions on our end is which process and fab(s) Samsung will be using for this cutting-edge memory, especially with the ongoing DRAM shortage. A natural suspect would be Samsung’s 18 nm fabrication process for DRAMs, but the South Korean giant has not confirmed it. Yet another question is capacity of the said GDDR6 16 Gbps chips. Given the transfer rates, it is reasonable to guess that we are dealing with 8 Gb chips – especially since Micron and Hynix have already announced their own 8Gb chips – but we do not know this for sure.Samsung is known for memory chips rated to run faster than competing offerings from its rivals. However, it's worth noting that AMD and NVIDIA don't always run new-generation memory at its maximum rated speed, often due to needing to nail down their memory controllers and firmwares. So the availability of 16Gbps chips does not necessarily mean that next year’s graphics cards will use Samsung's memory at its full speed.Related Reading:
HPE Unveils ProLiant DL385 Gen10: Dual Socket AMD EPYC
In a video on YouTube, which has since been hastily removed, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) opened the can a little early on announcing a new dual socket AMD EPYC based system in a 2U form factor. As pointed out over at ServeTheHome, this is an important metric in the EPYC story: it is one of the first machines from a top 3 server equipment manufacturer.Before the video was removed, it showed a dual-socket design with a full set of memory slots (that’s 32x, supporting a total of 4TB). Leveraging the 128 PCIe lanes that the configuration would bring, the DL385 Gen10 showed support for up to 24 NVMe drives (or 30 2.5” SATA SSDs) as well as either three double-wide GPUs or five single-slot GPUs. The aim for such a server seems to be a crossover between storage and compute, or the ability to maintain constant compute throughput with plenty of memory and fast local storage, such as large datasets for AI or deep learning network training. Redundant power supplies and HPE iLO management are also featured.In AMD’s press release for this week’s Supercomputing 17 event, HPE was listed as one of the vendors now ready to start offering availability of EPYC-based systems, now that the major cloud and hosting providers are getting to grips with the technology. HPE VP and GM, Justin Hotard, was quoted in AMD’s press release, saying that ‘AMD delivers the power … to help break barriers’, but no official or specific products were mentioned in the quote given to AMD. Along those lines, we would expect HPE to have its own announcement, probably this week as it is SuperComputing, although posting/deposting a video says a lot.We suspect that when HPE pull the proper trigger on the launch, the video will be re-enabled and data sheets will start flowing. We will report when it happens, but here’s the video embed in case it comes online soon.Related Reading
Acer Releases ET322QK LCD: 31.5-inch VA, 4K, HDR10, FreeSync, Around $500
Acer has released its new display designed primarily for console gaming and HTPCs. The ET322 combines a fairly large diagonal size, a 4K resolution, and HDR10 capability with a relatively low price. The product will be available only in Japan (at least initially), but nothing prevents Acer from releasing something similar on other markets.Acer’s ET322 QKwmiipx is based on a VA panel with 3840×2160 resolution, 300 nits brightness, 3000:1 static contrast ratio, 4 ms response time and 178° viewing angles. As a bonus feature, the monitor supports AMD's FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology, but for some reason the manufacturer does not disclose either the maximum refresh rate of the unit or FreeSync's operational range.The display formally supports HDR10 data, but its level of brightness is considered too low for HDR, so the actual HDR user experience is something that remains to be seen. In addition, the Acer ET322 has the so-called 6-axis color adjustment feature that promises a more realistic color reproduction by enabling users to manually regulate RGB and CMY color components as well as adjust Saturation and Hue. As for connectivity, the Acer ET322 has two HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2 support, so they can be plugged to PCs, consoles, STBs, UHD Blu-ray players and so on. To further simplify setups featuring the display, it has two 2 W speakers and a 3.5-mm audio jack.Acer ET322QK DisplayET322QKwmiipxPanel31.5" VANative Resolution3840 × 2160Refresh RateunknownDynamic Refresh Rate TechnologyAMD FreeSyncResponse Time4 msBrightness300 cd/m²Contrast3000:1Viewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalColor Saturation100% sRGBHDR SupportHDR10Inputs2 × HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2Audio2 × 2 W speakers
North American Pre-Orders Opened for TPCast’s Wireless Adapter for HTC Vive
TPCast has finally begun to take North American pre-orders for its wireless headset adapter for the HTC Vive. Already released in China, the unit offers untethered operation of the HTC Vive for five hours as well as minimal latencies. The cost for this wireless motion is $299.99, and the company plans to begin shipments of the device later this month.TPCast’s wireless adapter for Vive uses 60 GHz and other radios to connect the VR headset to the PC and thus eliminate cables, one of the major drawbacks of today’s high-end VR gear, and enables a greater freedom of movements for gamers. Common sense for most users put wireless connections as having a higher input lag that wired interconnections which may affect user experience, although TPCast claims to have solved this. It claims that the wireless adapter has an input latency of 2 ms, which is lower than “<7ms latency” featured by HTC’s wireless accessory for Vive created with Intel.The relatively low latency of TPCast’s wireless adapter for Vive is enabled by Lattices’ MOD6320-T/MOD6321-R WirelessHD modules that are used to transmit VR display content from PC to the headset. Speaking of Lattice, the device also uses Lattice’s SiI9396 600 MHz HDMI bridge ICs and LatticeECP3 SERDES-based FPGA, so the company is a key developer of chips for the adapter. Neither TPCast nor Lattice disclose actual transmission rate that is used for the wireless adapter for Vive, but we know that the WirelessHD is speced for 10 – 28 Gbps, well in excess of the 8.2Gbps required for the Vive's hardware HDMI 1.4 connection..The TPCast Wireless Adapter for Vive kit consists of several pieces: the transmitter module that plugs to the Vive Linkbox (which is connected to the PC), the receiver that connects to the Vive headset, and an Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh (100.5 Wh) accumulator that provides up to five hours of battery life to the head mounted display. (interesting aside: at that capacity, it cannot be taken on-board aircraft.) The unit also comes with a charger, a router and a bunch of cables to make setup easier. It is noteworthy that TPCast requires customers to use its own router because it transmits information back from the HMD to the PC.The TPCAST Wireless Adapter for Vive is now available for pre-order, at a price of $299.99, via Amazon, Newegg, and the company’s own website. TPCast plans to start shipments of the device on November 24 (for some reason, Newegg mentions November 20 as the release date), so expect retail availability of the unit after this date.Buy TPCAST Wireless Adapter for Vive on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Qualcomm Rejects Broadcom Offer to Buy the Company for $105 Billion
Qualcomm has announced today that the Board of Directors has rejected Broadcom’s proposal to acquire the company for around $105 billion. The BOD believes that Broadcom’s offering undervalues Qualcomm and its growth perspectives in the upcoming 5G era.Last week Broadcom offered to buy all of the outstanding shares of Qualcomm for $105 billion in total for cash and stock. Under the terms of the deal, shareholders of Qualcomm would get $60 in cash and $10 in Broadcom’s stock for each share, which would be a 28% premium over the price of a Qualcomm share on November 2, 2017.Broadcom wanted to buy Qualcomm primarily because of its LTE and 5G technologies to complement its other telecommunication assets. Qualcomm itself is in process of taking over NXP Semiconductor. The latter is a leading supplier of electronics for automobiles and when Qualcomm gets NXP, it will be particularly well positioned to become a leading maker of chips for self-driving and electric vehicles.
FreeTail EVOKE Pro SDXC UHS-II Memory Card Capsule Review
Digital cameras and camcorders employ memory cards (flash-based removable media) for storage of captured content. There are different varieties of memory cards catering to various performance levels. CompactFlash (CF) became popular in the late 90s, but, has now been overtaken by Secure Digital (SD) cards. Many computing systems (PCs as well as smartphones) also support SD cards for augmenting local storage capabilities. We recently started in-depth evaluation of the performance of various memory cards. FreeTail sent over their UHS-II card for inclusion in our performance database.IntroductionWe looked at some of the CF cards in the EVOKE series from FreeTail Tech back in June. FreeTail also markets various other memory cards under this tag. Today's review looks at the FreeTail EVOKE Pro 1000x SDX UHS-II card.SD (Secure Digital) cards were introduced in 1999, as an update to the existing MultiMediaCards (MMCs). It gained traction even in areas where CompactFlash had been preferred, thanks to its small size. Its popularity is evident by the fact that it has spawned two follow-ups in the same form factor - starting with the SDSC in 1999 for capacities between 1MB and 2GB, we got SD High Capacity (SDHC) in 2006 (up to 32GB) and SD eXtended Capacity (SDXC) in 2009 (up to 2TB). The cards also come in various sizes - standard, mini, and micro. In addition to the capacity aspect, the performance levels have also gone up. While UHS-I had an upper theoretical limit of around 100 MBps, UHS-II added more pins and increased the theoretical limit to around 312 MBps.FreeTail's SDXC UHS-II/U3 lineup comes under the EVOKE Pro category, and has three members - 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. Today's review takes a look at the 128GB versionBuy FreeTail EVOKE Pro 256GB UHS-II SDXC Card on Amazon.comTestbed Setup and Testing MethodologyEvaluation of memory cards is done on Windows with the testbed outlined in the table below. The USB 3.1 Type-C port enabled by the Intel Alpine Ridge controller is used for benchmarking purposes on the testbed side. It connects to the Z170 PCH via a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. SD cards utilize the Lexar Professional Workflow SR2 SDHC / SDXC UHS-II USB 3.0 Reader. The reader was placed in the Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 hub and uplinked through its USB 3.0 port with the help of a USB 3.0 Type-A female to Type-C male cable.AnandTech DAS Testbed ConfigurationMotherboardGIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH ATXCPUIntel Core i5-6600KMemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 4 F4-2133C15-8GRR
The AnandTech Podcast, Episode 42: Intel with Radeon Graphics
Every so often, the technology industry goes crazy. To get three events along those lines in the same week just blows the mind. On this podcast, Ian and Ryan discuss the critical stories: Intel buying custom GPUs from AMD, Raja Koduri leaving AMD, Raja Koduri joining Intel, Intel to create custom GPUs, and Qualcomm announcing Centriq 2400.The AnandTech Podcast #42: Intel with Radeon GraphicsRecorded on November 10th 2017
Micron Announces 32GB DDR4 NVDIMM-N Modules
Micron is announcing today their next generation of NVDIMM-N modules combining DDR4 DRAM with NAND flash memory to support persistent memory usage models. The new 32GB modules double the capacity of Micron's previous NVDIMMs and boost the speed rating to DDR4-2933 CL21, faster than what current server platforms support.Micron is not new to the Non-Volatile DIMM market: their first DDR3 NVDIMMs predated JEDEC standardization. The new 32GB modules were preceded by 8GB and 16GB DDR4 NVDIMMs. Micron's NVDIMMs are type N, meaning they function as ordinary ECC DRAM DIMMs but have NAND flash to backup data to in the event of a power loss. This is in contrast to the NVDIMM-F type that offers pure flash storage. During normal system operation, Micron's NVDIMMs use only the DRAM. When the system experiences a power failure or signals that one is imminent, the module's onboard FPGA-based takes over to manage saving the contents of the DRAM to the module's 64GB of SLC NAND flash. During a power failure, the module can be powered either through a cable to an external AGIGA PowerGEM capacitor module, or by battery backup supplied through the DIMM slot's 12V pins.Micron says the most common use cases for their NVDIMMs are for high-performance journalling and log storage for databases and filesystems. In these applications, a 2S server will typically be equipped with a total of about 64GB of NVDIMMs, so the new Micron 32GB modules allow these systems to use just a single NVDIMM per CPU, leaving more slots free for traditional RDIMMs. Both operating systems and applications need special support for persistent memory provided by NVDIMMs: the OS to handle restoring saved state after a power failure, and applications to manage what portions of their memory should be allocated from the persistent portion of the overall memory pool. This can be addressed either through applications using block storage APIs to access the NVDIMM's memory, or through direct memory mapping.Micron is currently sampling the new 32GB NVDIMMs but did not state when they will be available in volume.Conspicuously absent from Micron's announcement today is any mention of the third kind of memory they make: 3D XPoint non-volatile memory. Micron will eventually be putting 3D XPoint memory onto DIMMs and into SSDs under their QuantX brand, but so far they have been lagging far behind Intel in announcing and shipping specific products. NVDIMMs based on 3D XPoint memory may not match the performance of DRAM modules or these NVDIMM-N modules, but they will offer higher storage density at a much lower cost and without the hassle of external batteries or capacitor banks. Until those are ready, Micron is smart to nurture the NVDIMM ecosystem with their DRAM+flash solutions.
The Be Quiet! SFX-L Power 500W PSU Review: Powerful, Small, & Still Quiet?
In today's review we are taking a look at the latest SFX PSU from Be Quiet!, the SFX-L Power 500W. As its name suggests, it is a slightly elongated, 130 mm SFX PSU that has been designed to fit a 120 mm cooling fan. With a fully modular design, 80Plus Gold efficiency certification and reasonable retail price, the SFX-L Power 500W is a very interesting product on paper. We closely examine its features, quality and overall performance in this review.
AMD Announces Wider EPYC Availability and ROCm 1.7 with TensorFlow Support
Earlier this year AMD announced its return to the high-end server market with a series of new EPYC processors. Inside is AMD’s new Zen core, up to 32 of them, with the focus on the major cloud providers. We were the first media outlet to publish our review of EPYC, which showed AMD to be highly competitive in an Intel dominated x86 landscape. One of the concerns over the launch period was for the wider availability of EPYC: it was clear that AMD was announcing the product very early in its distribution cycle.At SuperComputing 17 this week, the enterprise computing conference, AMD is announcing that it has ramped production of the processors and it has several OEMs ready, distributors ready, and system integrators expanding their portfolios.OEMs with EPYC enabled systems at Supercomputing this week include ASUS, BOXX, GIGABYTE, HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), Penguin Computing, Supermicro and Tyan. Each company is targeting certain niches: ASUS for HPC and Virtualization with its RS720A-E9 and RS700A-E9 1U/2U servers, BOXX combining EPYC with Radeon Instinct for multi-GPU compute solutions and deep learning, GIGABYTE with rackmount servers, HPE for complex workloads and Supermicro moving from tower form factors to 1U, 2U and 4U for HPC and storage.