Deals of the week: a GTX 1080, photography gear, and more
— 11:54 AM on October 28, 2016

Greeting, fellow gerbils. I know what you're looking for. Deals, isn't it? You crave them and can't get enough of 'em. Fret no more, for here at TR we have the finest selection available for your pleasure. Take a gander at our wares.

  • Let's kick things off with the big hitter. Who wants a GTX 1080? Easy now, no need to scream. MSI's GTX 1080 Gaming is selling for $628.79 at Newegg after promo code EMCFEGJ26. That's slightly above Nvidia's recommended $600, but you won't find a card with as nice a cooler for that price.
  • Looking to build the mother of all HTPCs, or maybe a NAS machine? You'll find few cases better for those purposes than Fractal Design's Node 804. This gorgeous case can take in as many as twelve hard drives, and offers dust filters and radiator mountings to boot. Newegg is selling this case for $69.99, which is a heck of a deal considering the Node 804 comes with three of Fractal's Silent Series R2 fans.
  • We're all about the fancy gaming monitors here, but not everyone's wallet stretches that far. Luckily, we have a good affordable option. The Asus MG248Q is a 24" monitor with a 1920x1080 resolution. That's not very impressive, until you notice the 144Hz refresh rate with FreeSync support. The stand also allows for full ergonomic adjustments, too. The MG248Q can be yours for $249.99 at Newegg.
  • Microsoft's Surface Pro machines are pretty sexy machines, and we have a good deal on one. The Surface Pro 3 convertible with a Core i5 CPU, a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM is selling for only $524 at Newegg. The machine's build quality is top-notch, and its 2160x1440 screen is a sight for sore eyes. Get'em while they're hot.
  • If you prefer your laptops of the "gaming" variety, we have something for you too. The Acer Aspire E5-575G-57A4 (as it's known to friends) is a 15.6" laptop with a 1080p screen, powered by a Core i5-7200U CPU and a GeForce GTX 950M graphics card. There's eight gigabytes of memory on tap, too. The cherry on the top is its dual storage configuration: a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive, which is a near-perfect combo. Newegg is selling this laptop for $639.
  • Mirrorless cameras may be all the rage these days, but Nikon's D750 DSLR is still one of the finest semi-pro cameras available. This body offers a 24-megapixel, full-frame sensor, a sophisticated 51-point autofocus system with subject-tracking, a tilting screen, and compatibility with almost every Nikon lens ever made. Adorama is selling the refurbished version of this body for $1,399.99, or about $400 off Nikon's current price (the discount will only kick in once the item is in your cart). Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kampman has had a great experience with refurbished Nikon products (including his personal Nikon D810) so there's little risk in hopping on this deal unless a 90-day warranty scares you for whatever reason. DPReview says the D750 "does nearly everything right." and handed it a 90% overall score in its grading—good enough for the site's coveted Gold Award.
  • Speaking of Nikon deals, the company is running a sale on the Nikon D810 uber-SLR. This 36-megapixel beast has been selling for about $2800 recently, but Nikon is lopping another $200 or so off for a final price of $2,496.95. Even a couple years after its introduction, the D810 offers nearly unparalleled image quality, dynamic range, and exposure latitude in raw shooting. Our Editor-in-Chief works his D810 hard, and he can attest to its competence under pressure. This sale brings the cost of a new body in line with what refurbished D810s used to go for, so if you've been on the fence, now would be a good time to pounce. DPReview deemed the D810 worthy of its Gold Award, as well.

There's a chance you're looking for a deal on something we didn't feature here. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at the Microsoft Store and Das Keyboard's shop.

That's it for today, dear gerbils. If you happen to run across a hot deal that we missed, share it with your comrades in the comments section below.

LG UltraFine 4K and 5K displays are the new Apple monitors
— 11:00 AM on October 28, 2016

In case you weren't aware, Apple tends to release new monitors to go along with new devices. The refreshed MacBook Pro announcement yesterday didn't include any monitors with Apple's name on them, though. The honors were given to a pair of LG displays called "UltraFine," which the company says were designed specifically for the new MacBooks. The UltraFine displays are available in 21.5" size with DCI 4K resolution and as a 27" variant with 5K resolution.

The 21.5" model uses a 4096x2304 IPS panel that Apple says supports "millions" of colors, which seems to imply it's a 8-bit unit. Meanwhile, the 27" model 5120x2880 panel supports "billions" of colors, indicating what's likely a 10-bit panel. LG says that either monitor can reproduce 99% of the DCI-P3 color space, and that maximum brightness should reach an impressive 500 cd/m². Both monitors can charge attached laptops, and include speakers and VESA mounts.

The 4K monitor differs from its larger sibling in a few other ways. The smaller monitor uses DisplayPort over a USB Type-C connector for input duties, and has three USB 2.0 Type-C ports for connecting other devices. In contrast, the 5K display requires a Thunderbolt connection, no doubt thanks to its higher resolution. Its triad of onboard USB Type-C ports are of the USB 3.0 variety. The larger display also includes a built-in camera.

The UltraFine displays are only available from Apple for now, and the sultans of style want $700 for the 21.5" 4K model. Apple's site says that current orders for that monitor should be shipping in five to six weeks. Meanwhile, the 27" UltraFine 5K monitor isn't yet available for purchase, but will go for $1300 and arrive early December.

20 comments — Last by End User at 1:10 PM on 10/28/16

Geil Evo X memory kits with RGB LED lighting are now available
— 10:00 AM on October 28, 2016

Geil is showing off its what it calls the the world's first RGB-LED-lit DDR4 modules, in the form of the Evo X DIMMs. We previously reported on Corsair's Vengeance LED memory, but those DIMMs limited purchasers to white or blue illumination that's configurable only at the time of purchase. The Evo Xs are shipping now in speeds up to 3200 MT/s, as 8GB and 16GB kits. Geil expects to deliver higher-spec variants in the future, and says it's readying up kits of two 16GB modules.

The DIMMs' main attraction is the RGB LED array grafted onto each DIMM. The LED module is housed on its own PCB, which Geil dubs a "Hybrid-Independent-Light-Module." The HILM is completely separate from the memory circuit board and requires its own power connection. Users that have an RGB LED lighting controller can use a four-pin power connector, while controler-less owners have to make do with a two-pin power plug.

Geil says the Evo X LEDs are compatible with lighting control software from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI. Users supplying plain-old DC current to the HILMs can use a seven-position sliding switch on each DIMM to select between three "breathing" colors or four solid hues. Unfortunately, the DIMMs don't include a taste-management circuit to prevent users from lighting each DIMM in a different color in order to re-create their favorite scenes from a late-1990s FPS game.

Some users might consider the self-contained nature of the HILM a plus, given that the LED module doesn't take power away from the main PCB, nor does it add heat and electrical noise. Aesthetic-obsessed users may balk at the design, noting it's effectively a LED strip stapled onto a DIMM and requires them to route even more wiring in the computer.

The Evo X two-DIMM 8GB kit clocked at 3000 MT/s and clad in black is available at Newegg for $70. Meanwhile, the white version with 16GB total capacity and speed of 3200 MT/s is going for $115.

13 comments — Last by robertsup at 1:01 PM on 10/28/16

GeForce 357.70 drivers gear up for a raft of triple-A titles
— 9:40 AM on October 28, 2016

Just a few days have passed since the most recent Nvidia Game Ready GeForce driver update, and the company is already following that release up with version 357.70 of its software. The new driver's release notes tout performance improvements for a who's-who list of new-release, remake, and sequel content that includes Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, and Myst-successor Obduction.

The driver release includes three 3D Vision profiles, as well, although the performance of that feature with these new titles doesn't sound encouraging. CoD:IW and For Honor are listed as "not recommended" and CoD:MW Remastered is listed as "fair." The driver also includes some fixes for Windows 10 issues, including efforts to reduce crashes and memory leaks in Forza Horizon 3.

Nvidia card owners can prepare for these new game releases by grabbing the driver from Nvidia's GeForce driver page.

4 comments — Last by Meadows at 11:45 AM on 10/28/16

AMD announces Radeon Pro drivers with scheduled releases
— 9:00 AM on October 28, 2016

The needs of a business and the needs of a consumer are very different, even when it comes to graphics cards. Gamers need their cards to run Battlefield 1 smoothly, but a graphics professional needs his card to reliably render expensive, time-consuming graphics—"reliably" being the key word there. It's with that idea in mind that AMD announced a new set of Radeon Pro drivers for enterprise users. The first release in the new series is fresh from the oven, titled "Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Driver 16.Q4."

The drivers offer support for existing FirePro and Radeon Pro cards, as well as the upcoming Radeon Pro WX cards. AMD says the drivers will be updated on the 4th Thursday of each quarter. The drivers are certified for over 100 applications, including well-known names like Adobe Premiere and Autodesk AutoCAD, among other professional software.

The 16.Q4 release brings a few goodies to the table. Users of PTC Creo, Siemens NX, and Dassault CATIA ought to see a significant performance jump when compared to the previous AMD FirePro drivers.

The updated driver also brings support for VR and game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity. AMD says those engines are being used not just for game design, but also for things like real-time storyboarding and CAD visualization.

The Radeon Pro drivers also bear WHQL certification and support for Windows 10 Device Guard, pleasing businesses that keep a tight lockdown on software in their systems. The 16.Q4 drivers are available for download right now.

6 comments — Last by Magic Hate Ball at 12:57 PM on 10/28/16

We're giving away our Aimpad R5 review unit
— 4:05 PM on October 27, 2016

If you've read our review of the Aimpad R5, you already know that we're pretty big fans of the concept behind this keyboard. If you haven't read it, be sure to check it out, because the Aimpad R5 is no ordinary input device. As much as I'd like to keep using the prototype I reviewed, it's time to send it on its way. Luckily for one of you gerbils out there, we're not sending it back to Aimpad. We're going to send it to one of you, so you can own one before anyone can buy one. We don't have any regional restrictions for this giveaway, either, so everyone can enter.

There are no hoops to jump though for this giveaway. All you need to do to enter is submit your name, email address, and shipping address using the form below. (We won't spam you with TR form letters—we only collect your address so we can ensure that entrants aren't trying to game the system with multiple entries.) We also need you to prove you're not a robot by telling us what phrase I drew for the review using the Aimpad's mouse mode. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced next week Friday, November 4th.

But wait, there's more. If you don't mind a little hoop-jumping, you could win one of four $50 Steam gift cards that are also up for grabs.

Aimpad would love to hear your feedback on their analog keyboard concept, so they've posted this survey to collect it. If you take the time to tell the company what you think, you'll be entered into a random drawing for one of the gift cards. Plus, persuasive prose potentially precipitates prototype prizes. If you make a compelling enough argument for why you should get an Aimpad R5 of your own, you may be selected to get one of your own sent your way. Aimpad will announce the winners on its YouTube channel on November 15th.

Rules and regulations
And now for the obligatory legal mumbo-jumbo. Our winner must claim their prize within 72 hours, or they will forfeit it, and we will draw a new winner. Only one entry is permitted per person, household, or email address. Please don't try to game the system by entering your girlfriend, wife, kids or pets. We'll probably disqualify you if you do.

You must include your full name, a valid email address, and a physical shipping address with your entry. Only the winner's name will be announced on the site. We will not share your address or other personal information with our sponsors or anyone else. However, in this case, the folks at Aimpad would greatly appreciate it if the winner would contact them to provide feedback.

Incomplete entries will be disqualified. TR reserves the right to disqualify entries that appear to be attempts to game the system or circumvent the rules in any way. The staff of The Tech Report and their immediate families may not enter the giveaway and are not eligible to win.

No purchase is necessary. This giveaway is void where prohibited by law. TR and our sponsors are not responsible for any taxes on the prize, damage in shipping, damage caused by using the prize with other products, or health issues such as repetitive strain injury, eye strain, or chemical addictions that may result from prolonged use of the prize. We may answer questions and offer clarifications of the rules in this post's comments thread.

Question answer:
Address line 2:
ZIP or postal code:

22 comments — Last by TheJack at 11:48 AM on 10/28/16

Radeon Pro specs hint at a full-fat Polaris 11 GPU in MacBook Pros
— 3:46 PM on October 27, 2016

Apple's latest MacBook Pros house a new line of Radeon Pro graphics processors: the Radeon Pro 450, the Radeon Pro 455, and the Radeon Pro 460. AMD has given us some more info on those graphics processors in the wake of Apple's unveiling. While the red team didn't say as much, the fact that it's touting the thinness of these chips and the GPUs' spec sheets point to a Polaris 11 chip underpinning these products. First, though, let's take a look at the specs of these new chips (along with a couple educated guesses about their performance). I've marked my guesses with question marks.

envelope (W)
Radeon Pro 450 ~800? 16? 1 640 128? 5? 80 <35
Radeon Pro 455 ~850? 16? 1.3 768 128? 5? 80 <35
Radeon Pro 460 ~900? 16? 1.86 1024 128? 5? 80 <35

From these specifications, we can draw a number of interesting conclusions about the graphics subsystems in the 15" MacBook Pro. Given the memory bandwidth on tap, it seems likely Apple is using GDDR5 RAM clocked at 5GT/s in the new machines. Furthermore, the 1024 stream processors across 16 compute units in the Radeon Pro 460 suggest Apple is getting the lion's share of fully-enabled Polaris 11 GPUs to cope with demand for its new systems. If that's true, it might indicate why we haven't yet seen something like a Radeon RX 465 to compete with the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, and it may also explain why AMD is so willing to cut prices on cards with the bigger, more costly Polaris 10 die on board.

Regardless, AMD has got to be elated with this design win—we look forward to seeing how the new chips perform under the hoods of the new MacBook Pros. Perhaps our Radeon RX 460 review would be a good place to start if you're trying to get a sense of how these parts will handle.

31 comments — Last by Krogoth at 1:15 PM on 10/28/16

Apple's latest MacBook Pros ditch the F keys
— 2:35 PM on October 27, 2016

Hot on the heels of Microsoft's hardware event yesterday, Apple took the wraps off a new lineup of MacBook Pro hardware this afternoon. The company has trimmed off the usual millimeters, shaved some pounds, and trimmed some legacy ports from its these machines, but we've come to expect as much from new Macs. The headline feature of these notebooks is a multifunction touch strip that Apple calls Touch Bar. This display can adapt to the needs of the in-focus application and give users quick access to commonly-used tools and settings. The Touch Bar also incorporates a Touch ID sensor-cum-power-button that brings Apple Pay and improved security to the machines.

Apple demonstrated the Touch Bar with Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, a DJ app, and Microsoft Office, among others. The Touch Bar works in tandem with a huge multi-touch trackpad featuring Apple's Taptic Engine haptic feedback system to allow users a wide range of input options.

The new MacBook Pros come in the same 13" and 15" form factors as before, but Apple incorporated some of the tricks it learned from designing the MacBook into its latest machines. The LCD panel in both notebooks is now thinner than ever, and it's brighter, contrastier, and more colorful than the last generation of MacBook Pros. Apple didn't say what color gamuts the new panel supports, but we're betting it's the usual DCI P3 standard that Apple uses when it talks "wide-gamut." Another MacBook carry-over is a refined version of the slim, short-travel keyboard in that wafer-thin machine.

We predicted Kaby Lake wouldn't be coming to any MacBook Pro refresh because of the projected first-quarter 2017 release of higher-TDP seventh-gen Core chips, and Apple bore that guess out with a round of Skylake CPU upgrades for its top-end notebooks. The 13" MacBook Pro gets an unspecified dual-core Core i5 CPU with 2.9 GHz base and 3.3 GHz Turbo speeds. That chip comes with Intel's Iris Graphics 550 IGP. Two faster CPU options are available for speed demons.

The 15" model gets a range of Skylake quad-core parts starting with 2.6 GHz base and 3.5GHz Turbo speeds. 13" machines get 8GB of DDR4-2133 RAM to start with, and 16GB is available as an upgrade. 15" machines are stuck with 16GB no matter what, though—somewhat concerning for a pro-grade machine. Solid-state storage options range from 256GB up to 1TB in 13" machines, and from 256GB to 2TB in the 15" systems.

AMD scored a major design win with the latest MacBook Pros. The 15" model comes with the Radeon Pro 450 chip paired with 2GB of memory. No specs for this part are online yet, but it seems to be a Polaris chip at the very least. A Radeon Pro 455 powers the higher-end base configuration of the 15" model, and a Radeon Pro 460 chip with 4GB of RAM is available as an upgrade option for all 15" machines.

Apple ditched the range of single-purpose ports ringing the MacBook Pros of the past for four Thunderbolt 3 ports . Each of these ports can move up to 40 Gbps in Thunderbolt 3 mode, and they also support a wide range of display and data connections like USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2. Owners can plug a charger into any one of those ports as needed, as well, although that move heralds the end of the life-saving MagSafe quick-disconnect power plug.

Those hoping for a MacBook Air upgrade announcement can likely write a eulogy for that machine. For those customers, Apple has a stripped-down version of the new MacBook Pro 13" with a 2 GHz Core i5 CPU that can Turbo up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory (upgradable to 16GB), solid-state storage options ranging from 256GB to 1TB, and a fixed row of standard function keys. This machine will go for $1499 and up. Prices for the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros start at $1799 for the 13" model and $2499 for the 15" machine. A wide range of upgrade options can take those prices up by a thousand bucks or more. The machines are all available for pre-order on Apple's site now, and the company says shipments will begin in two to three weeks.

135 comments — Last by flip-mode at 1:05 PM on 10/28/16

In the lab: Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 1050 G1 Gaming graphics card
— 11:49 AM on October 27, 2016

We've already seen what Nvidia's board partners are doing with the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, and now we have that chip's slightly cut-down sibling in the lab with Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 1050 G1 Gaming card. Behold:

This G1 Gaming card is Gigabyte's highest-end take on the most affordable Pascal. It features a full-length metal backplate, RGB LED lighting, a hefty dual-fan cooler with plenty of copper inside, and hopped-up clocks: 1417 MHz base and 1531 MHz boost in "gaming" mode, compared to Nvidia's reference 1354 MHz base and 1455 MHz boost speeds. For overclocking insurance, Gigabyte also outfitted this card with a six-pin external power connector. Keep an eye out for our full review soon.

6 comments — Last by DPete27 at 3:50 PM on 10/27/16

Google's Jamboard takes the whiteboard into the cloud
— 10:32 AM on October 27, 2016

Google had a big hardware event a couple weeks ago, but the search giant didn't show all of its physical devices then. The company has now announced the Jamboard, a digital whiteboard with a 55" 3840x2160 display and tight integration with Google's G Suite services. The manufacturer says the Jamboard's screen is "built for precision drawing" and has the "best-in-class touch response time." Google doesn't say what hardware specifications and software technology go into the Jamboard, though we wager it's based on Android or Chrome OS.

Google is touting the Jamboard's ease of use as a selling point, saying it's designed to be brought into a room and readied for use just by powering it up. The device includes a video camera, microphone, speakers, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Potential buyers will surely cross-shop the Jamboard against Microsoft's Surface Hub. The Jamboard share the same size screen as the 55" Surface Hub, but that device has a mere 1080p screen. Buyers must opt for the pricier 84" Surface Hub to get a 4K screen.

The final price of the Jamboard is said to be "under $6,000," compared to $9,000 for the 55" Surface Hub and a whopping $22,000 for the larger 84" 4K Surface Hub. Google says the Jamboard will ship to customers some time in 2017. The company says it will be partnering with BenQ and "its network of channels and resellers to help bring the Jamboard to market," suggesting the possibility that BenQ will build the device on Google's behalf.

9 comments — Last by Tamashare at 5:03 AM on 10/28/16

Transcend hops on the 3D NAND bandwagon with the SSD 230
— 9:57 AM on October 27, 2016

We don't talk about Transcend a lot here at TR, but we were pretty fond of its SSD 370. Transcend's latest offering is called the SSD 230, and it's the company's first solid-state storage device with 3D NAND. The new aluminum-cased drives will come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities.

We're not sure who Transcend is sourcing the memory from, but the datasheet for the new SSDs confirms that it's TLC NAND. Transcend claims that the new drives can more-or-less max out their SATA 6Gbps interface with sequential read speeds of up to 560 MB/s and writes up to 520 MB/s. The company also claims that the SSD 230s can hit 340 MB/s on 4K random reads and writes, which comes out to around 87K IOPS. Transcend doesn't state endurance figures for the SSD 230, but the company covers the drives with a three-year warranty.

There's yet no release date and we couldn't find the drives at online shops. The company does say that it expects the 128GB drive to go for $51, the 256GB model to go for $82, and the 512GB version to go for $162.

4 comments — Last by robertsup at 2:48 AM on 10/28/16

Apple puts its AirPods in the oven a little longer
— 9:00 AM on October 27, 2016

There's less than a week left before Apple is set to ship its AirPods, the company's upcoming wireless earbuds. Our friends over at Ars Technica reached out to Apple about the situation, and learned that the product's launch has been delayed.

In a statement offered to Ars, Apple says the company "needs a little more time before AirPods are ready for [its] customers", and that "[it doesn't] believe in shipping a product before it's ready." The AirPods will ship with some interesting features, like the ability to sense when they're placed into users' ears, integration with Apple's digital assistant Siri, and technology that detects when users are speaking and adjusts the microphone accordingly. Perhaps a delay is understandable.

While Apple wouldn't offer a new estimate as to when the AirPods will hit the shelves, it's hard to imagine the company delaying the release past the holiday shopping season. Customers will want some kind of headphones to go with their new 3.5mm-jackless iPhone 7s, and Apple will want to have the $159 AirPods available as an option.

33 comments — Last by floodo1 at 9:08 AM on 10/28/16

Microsoft helps hardware companies make VR more affordable
— 4:30 PM on October 26, 2016

Everybody wants to rule the VR world, and Microsoft is no exception. Sony, Oculus, and HTC all have headsets on the market promising the full VR experience, while Samsung and Google have mobile-focused headsets. Today at its Windows event, Microsoft unveiled its entry into the VR fray. The company is looking to bring affordable VR headsets to the market by way of partnerships with companies like HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and Asus. Prices will start at $299, a far cry from the $500-and-up tags on other VR headsets.

As points of comparison, Sony's console-based PlayStation VR requires a $499 investment, while the Oculus Rift rings up at $599 for the headset alone. The low price tag comes by way of what Microsoft calls "inside-out six-degrees-of-freedom sensors," which it says make external cameras and sensors unnecessary.

Microsoft's offering looks more like Sony's Playstation VR than its PC-powered counterparts, using a headband-style rig to fit to the user instead of over-the-head straps. The headset was announced in conjunction with the Windows 10 Creators Update, which will integrate VR functionality in some areas of the operating system.

There's no word yet on when these headsets will hit the market or how they might interact with games or consoles, but this news should provide some impetus for Oculus and HTC to work on making their devices both easier on the wallet and more consumer-friendly.

18 comments — Last by DrCR at 12:23 AM on 10/28/16

Intel P3100 M.2 SSD has datacenters in mind
— 3:22 PM on October 26, 2016

When it comes to datacenters, not all storage is created equal. Datacenters move more data around in an hour than most of us will in a lifetime, and they need storage that can handle that. SSDs are already in wide use in datacenters, but the M.2 form factor isn't widely adopted yet. Intel wants to help with that, and it's giving businesses an M.2 option in the form of the P3100 NVMe SSD, which it calls the first M.2 SSD designed with datacenter use in mind.

The P3100 comes in capacities of up to 1TB. Intel says these SSDs' power and endurance ratings will save their owners money in the long run. Intel says the P3100 operates at about half the power draw of standard enterprise hard drives, while enduring up to 580TB of writes in its largest incarnation. Here's what the full specs look like.

Capacity Sequential reads (MB/s) Sequential writes (MB/s) Random 4K reads (IOPS) Random 4K write (IOPS) Endurance rating (TBW)
128GB 720 55 27,000 2,200 72
256GB 1400 100 52,500 5,500 145
512GB 1200 145 88,000 10,000 300
1TB 1800 175 114,000 9,000 580

The biggest hurdle the product has to overcome is that M.2 is more or less a new thing in datacenters. As Storage Reviews notes, there are a few server boards out there with M.2 slots, but not many. If the cost savings the drive offers live up to Intel's promise, datacenter demand for M.2 may increase, meaning we might see more drives like these in the future.

9 comments — Last by thrawn at 3:55 PM on 10/27/16

Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard merges comfort and style
— 1:53 PM on October 26, 2016

Part and parcel of the Surface brand is the hip, urban styling that comes with the devices. Something like an old Model M would look positively gauche underneath a gorgeous machine like the newly-announced Surface Studio. Fans of ergonomic keyboards usually don't get a lot of choice when it comes to style, but Microsoft's new Surface Ergonomic Keyboard lets typists have the best of both worlds.

The new keyboard is a slim, low-profile design that comes exclusively in a very neutral grey-on-grey aesthetic. The palm-rest at the front of the Surface Ergonomic is coated in Microsoft's customized version of Alcantara synthetic suede. Bluetooth is the only connectivity option, and Microsoft's product page says the keyboard requires Windows 10. We'd wager it'll probably connect to any Bluetooth device, though.

Microsoft doesn't say what kind of switches the keyboard uses, but it does guarantee they can withstand 10 million actuations per key for the main typing block. The hotkeys—settings, backlight controls, search, calulator, and multimedia keys—are guaranteed for 500,000 actuations each. Conveniently, the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard takes AAA batteries rather than having an internal battery that will wear out. Microsoft claims the batteries will last "up to 12 months."

The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is already up for pre-order on Microsoft's store for $129. Buyers should get their keyboards on November 10.

39 comments — Last by Mad_Dane at 12:01 AM on 10/28/16

Surface Studio puts the iMac on notice
— 12:08 PM on October 26, 2016

The refreshed Surface Book i7 wasn't the only sleek, high-end system Microsoft trotted out at the company's Windows event this morning. The company unveiled its first desktop all-in-one system, the Surface Studio. The Studio appears to tweak the form factor of Apple's iMac and add extensive touchscreen input, much like the Surface Book does versus the MacBook Pro.

All models sport a 28", not-quite-5K 4500x3000 display with ten-point multi-touch input and extensive Surface Pen support. This panel can switch between sRGB and DCI P3 color gamuts on the fly for easy proofing of work that may be displayed in a different color gamut for its final output. The hardware components are stashed in the base of the unit, connected by a "Zero Gravity" hinge that allows the screen to lay nearly flat on the user's desk. The Studio's base spec level includes an unspecified sixth-generation Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M card with 2GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD. The apex model ups the ante with a sixth-generation Core i7 CPU, 32GB of memory, a GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB of memory, and a 2TB SSD.

An optional Surface Dial rotary input device interacts with the touch screen to offer additional software functions in supported applications. Microsoft's demo prominently features a color palette springing onscreen when the Dial is touched to the screen.

That fancy display, hinge, and hardware specs don't come cheap. The base model is priced at $3000, while the top-of-the-line model will set buyers back $4200. Microsoft is taking preorders now, and expects to have units in customers' hands on December 15. The Surface Dial goes for $100 and should be available on November 10.

92 comments — Last by TEAMSWITCHER at 9:26 AM on 10/28/16

Microsoft Surface Book i7 packs a bigger punch and more batteries
— 11:24 AM on October 26, 2016

Microsoft has refreshed part of its Surface Book lineup. The company announced the Surface Book i7, an updated model packing new graphics hardware and Intel Core i7 CPUs. The device's internals have been reorganized for better thermal performance, and to open up room for a second fan and additional battery capacity. Microsoft claims battery life is up 30% compared to the original i7 Surface Books. This improvement translates to a stated 16 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Microsoft isn't naming the new graphics card, but the video accompanying the product announcement shows a Nvidia graphics chip marked "N16E-GR-A1," suggesting the GPU may be the 2016 refresh of the GeForce GTX 965M. Microsoft says the new card ought to offer "twice" the graphics performance of the GeForce 940M card inside the old model.

The new machine packs the same 13.5" 3000x2000 pixel 10-point multi-touch screen seen in the original Surface Book. Wireless connectivity should come in the form of a 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 combo. Buyers can preorder the Surface Book i7 now for $2,999. Microsoft expects to deliver the machines in November.

56 comments — Last by tipoo at 10:02 AM on 10/28/16

G.Skill KM570 MX keyboard goes back to the basics
— 10:00 AM on October 26, 2016

Folks looking for a minimalist mechanical gaming keyboard are spoilt for choice lately. Hot on the heels of the HyperX Alloy, G.Skill has announced the Ripjaws KM570 MX. Unlike the Ripjaws KM780R we reviewed that was packed to the brim with features, the KM570 MX skips the showy extras for a basic design using Cherry MX switches in a more-or-less standard layout.

We weren't huge fans of G.Skill's software for the KM780R. That won't be a problem for the KM570 MX because it's completely configurable without software, which should make programming the new keyboard's macro function an interesting task. Some folks may appreciate the ability to configure the KM570 MX's red LED lighting on a per-key basis, too.

G.Skill makes the Ripjaws KM570 MX with Cherry MX Blue, Red, and Brown key switches. All three versions are available right now at Newegg for $99.

5 comments — Last by synthtel2 at 11:20 PM on 10/26/16

Intel's Purley server platform won't use 3D XPoint memory
— 9:00 AM on October 26, 2016

Intel and Micron have been generating buzz for 3D XPoint, their upcoming non-volatile memory product. Rumors have been swirling about when this technology will be hitting the market. The latest rumor suggets we'll see 3D XPoint powering Optane memory modules before the end of the year. Other implementations of 3D XPoint appear to be delayed, however. In a recent earnings call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the new memory won't be a part of its next server platform.

In the call, Krzanich says that Intel has been sampling a variety of server products to some of its "leading edge customers." In addition to talking about 3D XPoint, Krzanich mentions omni-path fabric and silicon photonics. However, it appears that 3D XPoint isn't yet ready for the big stage. He said, "there will be a second generation of [Purley Xeons] that includes 3D XPoint."

Considering that the second generation of Purley isn't expected until 2018, it'll be a while before Intel ships 3D XPoint DIMMs for its Xeon processors. However, Krzanich did leave the door open for other 3D XPoint products in the meantime. In the conference call, he claims that the new memory will be qualified before the end of 2016. Intel's already shipping samples of 3D XPoint, and is expecting to ramp up production and see revenue growth for the product in 2017. While Intel is being coy about the details, it appears that we can expect to see 3D XPoint arrive in desktop products in 2017, and server products as early as 2018.

6 comments — Last by chuckula at 7:23 AM on 10/27/16

In the lab: EVGA's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Superclocked graphics card
— 4:51 PM on October 25, 2016

Performance results for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti hit the wires today, but we didn't manage to get our hands on either of those cards before the embargo lifted. Happily, EVGA surprised us with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti this evening. The company sent along one of its GTX 1050 Ti Superclocked cards for us to put through its paces, and we'll be getting it in our test rig ASAP.

The GTX 1050 Ti SC needs nothing but slot power to do its thing, and it's just 5.7" (14.5 cm) long, making it a seemingly perfect candidate for drop-in gaming duty in that prebuilt HP or Dell productivity machine that might be lying under the desk at home. Even with the GTX 1050 Ti's 75W thermal envelope, EVGA found room to push this GP107 chip to 1354 MHz base and 1468 MHz boost speeds, up from Nvidia's reference 1290 MHz base and 1392 MHz boost figures. We're eager to see how this mighty mite performs.

50 comments — Last by synthtel2 at 1:33 AM on 10/28/16