TOP NEWS
Dell shows off whiteboard-sized 70" interactive display
— 3:30 PM on June 28, 2016

It seems that manufacturers may have found themselves a new market to explore: business- and classrooms. Not to be outdone by Microsoft's Surface Hub, Dell has now joined the fray with its C7017T "interactive conference room monitor."

The CT1017T is a 70", 1920x1080 touch-sensitive display that can read up to 10 invidual touch points at once. Dell bundles the screen with two styluses for input, too. Although the company doesn't spell out the panel type, it's a fair guess that it's based on IPS technology, particularly given its 6-ms response time and 8-bit + AFRC color specification.

The input section comprises a DisplayPort 1.2 connector, two HDMI 1.4 ports along an HDMI port with MHL, and an old-school VGA input. The display includes two 10-watt speakers, along with the requisite audio input and output ports. As proof of its business chops, the C7017T also includes RJ45 and RS232 ports for remote management. Last but not least, there's a built-in four-port USB 3.0 hub with a fast-charging port, along with an extra USB 2.0 port.

Dell is asking $5000 for the CT7017T, a price that's substantially less than the $8,999 that Microsoft wants for the 55" version of its Surface Hub. However, it should be noted that the Surface Hub includes a built-in computer—the C7017T is merely a display. Dell offers a three-year warranty on this giant screen with advance replacement.

15 comments — Last by ludi at 6:56 PM on 06/28/16

Gigabyte GTX 1070 Windforce OC makes Pascal more attainable
— 2:27 PM on June 28, 2016

Custom GTX 1070 cards are hitting the market now, and all of the usual suspects are looking to get in on the action. Today's reveal is the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 Windforce OC, a simpler and presumably more affordable version of the company's triple-fanned GTX 1070 G1 Gaming.

Although this take on the GTX 1070 isn't quite as fancy as the G1 Gaming, it still comes with Gigabyte's "Windforce 2X" cooling system, comprising two 90-mm fans atop a heatsink with two copper heatpipes that come in direct contact with the GPU. The factory clock speeds aren't stratospheric, but they're nothing to sneer at, either: 1556 MHz base and 1746 MHz boost clocks in "Gaming mode," and 1582 MHz base and 1771 MHz boost frequencies in "OC mode." These clocks are just a bit higher than Nvidia's reference 1506 MHz base and 1683 MHz boost speeds, but any improvement on the this front is welcome.

The backplate-reinforced circuit board has a 6+2 power phase design. Gamers only need a single 8-pin PCIe power connector to feed this card, too. The output selection has the standard three DisplayPorts, plus an HDMI port and a dual-link DVI output. Although there's no official word on pricing, Newegg is already listing this card for a reasonable $399.

11 comments — Last by Billstevens at 6:41 PM on 06/28/16

HP Chromebook 11 G5 gets touch-sensitive
— 9:41 AM on June 28, 2016

A new wave of Chromebooks is hitting the market, and one of the more popular features appearing on the spec sheets of those machines is a touchscreen. That trend should come as no surprise to anyone watching the market, since Chrome OS will be getting support for Android apps downloaded from Google Play in the near future. HP's latest Chromebook offering is the Chromebook 11 G5, which the company says is its first 11.6" Chromebook to offer a touchscreen.

Back in April we reported on HP's Chromebook 13, a curiously-positioned device more akin to a premium laptop in specifications than a traditional Chromebook. The new model is more typical of the Chromebook breed, with a 1366x768 IPS display and a Braswell-based Celeron N3060 SoC. The Intel chip should give it a little more grunt than the Rockchip in Jeff's Chromebook Flip. HP claims the non-touch version can manage 12.5 hours of battery life, while the touchscreen version hits 11 hours. While those numbers are impressive, they aren't out of line for a Chromebook.

HP's press release makes a lot of noise about the thin and light qualities of the Chromebook 11 G5, but the only information we have about its dimensions is the weight, at 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg). That's pretty light for a device with a Gorilla Glass display. Pricing will start at $189, although that's surely for the non-touch model. HP says the Chromebook 11 G5 will be available starting in July.

3 comments — Last by UberGerbil at 12:44 PM on 06/28/16

Rumor: reference-cooled GeForce GTX 1060 breaks cover
— 9:14 AM on June 28, 2016

Get your saltcellars ready, folks. Now that the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 are on the market, it would only make sense that Nvidia has plans to begin filling out its lower-end lineup with Pascal GPUs, as well. A poster on the r/nvidia subreddit apparently got in touch with someone in possession of a reference "GeForce GTX 1060" card recently, and they were able to grab a high-resolution snap of the purported card. Feast your eyes:


Source: "samlhs" on Reddit

The poster didn't offer any other information on the card beyond this photo, but given what we know about Pascal chips so far and the past progression of Maxwell through the marketplace, it seems likely this card will use a new, cut-down GPU paired with some amount of GDDR5 RAM. It also seems likely to play in the $200-$300 range that AMD seems to be targeting with its Radeon RX 480. Until we hear something official, however, that's all just speculation. Enjoy the eye candy in the meantime.

54 comments — Last by chuckula at 6:18 PM on 06/28/16

Asus' Turbo GTX 1070 flies under the radar
— 10:54 AM on June 27, 2016

The GeForce GTX 1080 is an awesome card by any measure, but not everyone has $600 or more burning a hole in their pocket. The graphics card power-per-dollar sweet spot tends to fall in a lower price bracket, as evidenced by the historical success of the GeForce GTX 970. Asus has a fresh take on the GTX 970's unofficial successor for our perusal today: the Turbo GeForce GTX 1070. Let's take a good look at this little beastie, shall we?

The first thing you'll notice is the blower-style cooler. Asus says the fan within uses a dual-ball-bearing design, which the company says ought to last longer than regular sleeve-bearing designs. The GPU clocks are set to reference 1506 MHz base and 1683 MHz turbo speeds.

In a nod to VR gamers everywhere, Asus has fitted the card with two HDMI ports instead of one, which allows users to have both a headset and an HDMI monitor plugged in all at once. Two DisplayPort outputs and a DVI port complement the card's output section.

Although the Turbo GeForce GTX 1070 is a relatively plain card devoid of RGB LED lighting, it still packs an LED-lit logo on its side that users can remove and replace with their own designs if the urge strikes. Along with the usual overclocking and monitoring software, gamers get an XSplit Gamecaster license so they can easily show their 360° noscopes kills to the world.

41 comments — Last by DoomGuy64 at 2:22 PM on 06/28/16

MSI readies a new salvo of microATX B150 motherboards
— 10:08 AM on June 27, 2016

MSI is adding two new Micro-ATX motherboards to its gaming stable: the B150M Bazooka Plus and Mortar Arctic. As their names suggest, both of these value-oriented motherboards wield Intel's B150 PCH. Low-end motherboards like these may not have all of the features of their more expensive siblings, but they may be all you need for simpler builds or a Wintendo machine.

The B150M Bazooka Plus is the successor to the B150M Bazooka, so it bears a heavy resemblance to that older board. New on the menu for the updated model is a "Turbo" M.2 socket with full PCIe 3.0 x4 connectivity. A USB Type-C port makes its first appearance on this model, as well, although it's only USB 3.1 Gen1—better known as USB 3.0. The Bazooka Plus also gains a small heatsink on the CPU's power delivery hardware, although given the B150 chipset's lack of overclocking support it seems mostly decorative.

Meanwhile, the B150M Mortar Arctic is an updated version of the B150M Mortar. This time, it's decked out with a white PCB and digital camouflage on the heatsinks and I/O cluster cover. The changes to the Arctic edition—aside from the aesthetic—are more subtle than on the Bazooka Plus, but one of the PCIe x1 slots has been removed to make room for 80mm M.2 drives. This board also has an M.2 E-key slot for Wi-Fi add-in cards, but adding in a radio will disable the M.2 2280 slot. The Mortar Arctic gains the same USB 3.0 Type-C port as the B150M Bazooka Plus, too.

Besides the model-specific revisions, these boards are pretty similar. Both have all of your standard LGA 1151 motherboard features, including four DDR4 DIMM slots supporting RAM as fast as 2133 MT/s (as a limitation of the B150 chipset), six SATA 6Gbps ports, and Gigabit Ethernet. Audio and networking capabilities on both boards come by way of Realtek chips.

22 comments — Last by DPete27 at 12:27 PM on 06/28/16

Report: Microsoft to discontinue Surface 3 by December 2016
— 9:13 AM on June 27, 2016

Microsoft's Surface 3 tablet was notable for its move away from ARM SoCs and Windows RT to an Intel Cherry Trail Atom CPU and unfettered Windows. Reviewers praised its build quality and performance, but its high price when paired with a Surface Pen and Type Cover was a major source of complaints. Despite that mixed value proposition, Microsoft told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley that it's seen "strong demand" for the tablet since its introduction—but it's also planning to discontinue the Surface 3 by December of this year, regardless.

That report comes after Microsoft watchers noticed that many Surface 3 configurations were unavailable on the Microsoft Store. Indeed, the only model in stock there right now is the version with 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM plus a cellular data adapter. That shortage appears isolated to Surface 3s, since all models of Surface Books and Surface Pro 4s appear to be readily available. If we're reading tea leaves, that stock situation suggests Microsoft's more powerful Surfaces are doing just fine in the market. Foley wasn't able to get any information from Redmond on a Surface 3 replacement, so we'll have to wait and see just what this extremely gradual winding-down means for the future of the smallest Surface.

12 comments — Last by danazar at 5:05 PM on 06/28/16

Sunglasses Day Shortbread
— 12:11 AM on June 27, 2016

Eight is Enough

  1. OC3D: AMD Radeon Wattman OC app details leaked
  2. VideoCardz: Video presentation of Radeon
    RX 480 running in CrossFire leaked
  3. MacRumors: New Thunderbolt Display
    with integrated GPU still in the works
  4. VR-Zone: Dell UP3017 'UltraSharp Premium'
    2560x1600 monitor set to launch soon
  5. techPowerUp!: FSP announces 700W
    variant of its Twins series redundant PSU
  6. Neowin: Microsoft has released ISOs for
    Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14366
  7. June 2016 update rollup for Windows 7
    SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  8. GameSpot: Skyrim remaster is "as next-gen as possible"

Read more...

27 comments — Last by Welch at 9:27 AM on 06/28/16

Color TV Day Shortbread
— 2:27 AM on June 25, 2016

Eight is Enough

  1. WCCFtech: AMD RX 480 hits U.S. stores,
    supply 25x larger than GTX 1080 at launch
  2. VIdeoCardz: PowerColor teases new Devil graphics card, RX 480?
  3. VR-Zone: Dell UP3017 "UltraSharp Premium'
    2560x1600 monitor set to launch soon
  4. techPowerUp!: MSI readies the B150M Mortar
    Arctic and B150M Bazooka Plus motherboards
    and Corsair lights up DDR4 with new
    Vengeance LED performance memory
  5. VR-Zone: Snapdragon 823-powered LeEco
    smartphone gets caught on AnTuTu
  6. Thurrott.com on Windows 10 device
    stats: a look at phone, PC and Surface
  7. GameInformer: UK 'Brexit' vote likely
    to severely impact gaming industry
  8. Counter-Strike player files suit against Valve
    over 'illegal gambling' surrounding CSGO

Read more...

68 comments — Last by shank15217 at 12:47 PM on 06/28/16

Oculus removes hardware check DRM from Rift exclusives
— 4:37 PM on June 24, 2016

We've reported in the past on the ongoing saga regarding game exclusivity on the Oculus Rift and user group LibreVR's attempts to break that exclusivity. Way back in April, LibreVR released a patch, called Revive, that allowed Vive users to play Oculus-exclusive games. The two have been firing back and forth ever since. Oculus added DRM to defeat Revive, and LibreVR proceeded to update its tool to get around that restriction. The last big volley from Oculus made Rift titles check for a connected Rift headset before launching. Now in a statement to Ars Technica, the company says it will drop that practice.

Last time we talked about Revive, it looked like we were in for a protracted battle between Oculus and LibreVR over the software, so it's all the more surprising that Oculus has changed its mind. While this is a huge shift in Oculus' standing on its DRM, it doesn't mean that Vive owners can suddenly play Oculus Rift games. Vive users will still have to install the Revive patch, but the patch can at least be less aggressive about how it disables DRM now.

Given the rough launch of the Oculus Rift, an extended battle over DRM and the resulting PR fallout wouldn't be good for the company, so we can understand this move. It's still good to see Oculus bury the hatchet with folks who want the option to employ Revive, though. LibreVR has already released an update to its patch that rolls back the changes that it had made to combat the hardware check.

17 comments — Last by willyolio at 3:14 AM on 06/27/16

Only one month to go before the "second-10th" TR BBQ
— 2:32 PM on June 24, 2016

Family and friends can attest to the fact that I caught "BBQ brain" early this year. There's just something about a ten-year anniversary that feels so significant, so I can't help but get even more wrapped up in planning for this year's TR BBQ than usual. Now, with a scant one month left to wait, all that preparation is coming to fruition as things shape up to be better than ever. Now that the BBQ is nearly feature-complete I wanted to tale a moment to share some of this year's change log.

Thanks to Asus, the cottage's Wi-Fi is vastly improved (and we have a review of that equipment coming soon). The upgrade to the live stream, courtesy of the Ricoh Theta S, means that gerbils who can't make the trip can at least attend vicariously. Based on feedback from the BBQ thread, we've got a fully stocked arsenal of Nerf weapons and a separate cornhole tournament just for the kiddos. I've mentioned the cotton candy machine we'll have on hand before, and further "testing" has proven that it's pretty sweet. There'll also be a new raft, a piñata, a giant kite, 3D printed trophies, Turris demos, and a few more surprises that I'm keeping under wraps until the big day. I might even have a secondary live stream if the contraption below cooperates.


Image stabilization is a problem.

We need to devote an entire paragraph to the BBQ's legendary fireworks show. TR's lawful good firebug, SHOES, is looking to take things up a notch this year by setting up a one-fuse show. That means the entire haul of pyrotechnics will be mounted to boards and professionally choreographed for maximum effect. Such a plan requires some advance notice, though, so if you're one of the generous gerbils that usually contributes to the fireworks fund, please consider doing so before the end of the month so we can pack in as much powder as possible. All the details are in this post.

Historically, there's only the one-week reminder left to go before the BBQ is upon us. That's not much notice, so if you're reading this now, and you can make it to Holland, Michigan on July 23rd, why not put it on your calendar? New gerbils are always welcome. If you're a regular and you haven't confirmed that you'll attend yet, please do so in the thread—it helps a lot. Oh, and don't forget about the fancy new shirts and hats we're doing this year. If you would like one, make sure to reserve it before the end of the month—they're custom-made and take time to process. Hope to see you there!

9 comments — Last by Captain Ned at 9:41 AM on 06/27/16

Deals of the week: an affordable Core i7-6700K and gaming gear
— 10:18 AM on June 24, 2016

Gentlemen, I am sorry to inform you that your wallet will remain under siege for the time being. Yesterday's Steam Summer sale offensive is getting reinforced today by the Newegg and Best Buy divisions. They brought entire platoons of fresh and powerful deals, ready to rip through your credit card accounts like a hot knife through butter. You have been warned. Now, onto the battle plan.

  • Intel's Core i7-6700K is a gaming and work monster, and it's on offer at Newegg for $329.99. It's got four cores and eight threads, 4GHz base and 4.2 GHz turbo clocks, and an unlocked multiplier that makes for trivially simple overclocking, too. Just be sure to get a good aftermarket heatsink, as it ships without one.
     
  • Powerful breadbox-sized PCs are an increasingly interesting category. That CPU above could easily go into one, thanks to Gigabyte's GA-Z170N Gaming 5 Mini-ITX motherboard. This bite-sized Z170 mobo packs an Intel Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller, dual-band Wi-Fi, an M.2 slot, and a Killer E2200 LAN controller. Newegg is offering it for $134.99, and there's a $15 rebate card on tap to bring the price down even further.
     
  • No weekly deals post is ever complete without a storage deal, and today's highlight is the Corsair Force LE 480GB SSD. Corsair says this SATA drive should be good for up to 560 MB/s sequential reads and 530 MB/s of sequential writes. It's on offer at Newegg for only $108.99, which works out to just under 23 cents a gigabyte.
     
  • Corsair keyboards have historically been well-regarded by TR staff. The Corsair K65 Lux RGB keyboard is an RGB-LED-lit clicker with a tenkeyless design and Cherry MX Red switches. Its spartan design and small footprint are quite attractive, too. Best Buy is selling it for $99.99. Grab yours now.
     
  • We have the keyboard, so now we need a companion mouse. Logitech's G700s is a wireless mouse offering 13 buttons, a dual-mode scrolling wheel, and a laser sensor. It can be yours for only $49.99 at Best Buy.
     
  • Not every mouse needs to be fancy and expensive. The Logitech G302 is a 6-button mouse with an optical sensor and an ambidextrous design that should be a cut above most cheap mice. $24.99 is an affordable price for this rodent at Best Buy.
     
  • No self-respecting PC builder should ever skip on his or her build's power section. Corsair's RMx 850W is a modular power supply with an 80+ Gold rating. Its wattage should be good enough for many a dual-GPU build. Newegg is currently selling it for $109.99.
     
  • While on the topic of power: raise your hand, those of you who never lost work or a hard drive to an outage. We have just the thing for that. The Cyberpower 825VA is a 450W UPS with 8 outlets, AVR line conditioning, and both coaxial and Ethernet cable protection. You can grab it at Newegg for only $69.99.
     
  • All this talk about desktop components is well and good, but even hardcore gamers have to get mobile sometime. There are plenty of computing devices to act as companions, and the 11.6" Macbook Air ultraportable is among the best. Best Buy is offering a model fitted with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD for $699.99. A good deal for a quality device with enough grunt for work.

There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. 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, the HP Store, and Das Keyboard's shop.

And that is the end of the battle plan, gentlemen. May the credit card interest rates ever be in your favor. If you are attacked by a surprise deal from any front, let us know in the comments section below.

23 comments — Last by Krogoth at 5:25 PM on 06/27/16

3DMark is getting a full-featured DirectX 12 benchmark
— 8:09 AM on June 24, 2016

Preeminent benchmarking tool 3DMark is getting a new game-like benchmark to test DirectX 12 performance soon, according to the Futuremark blog. The new test, titled "Time Spy," is a look back to older 3DMark benchmarks with an original soundtrack by Markus "Captain" Kaarlonen from Finnish rock band Poets of the Fall.

The renderer for the benchmark is all-new, and specifically designed to test the latest in DX12 technologies including Explicit Multi-Adapter mode and Asynchronous Compute. Futuremark says the new test also has a heavy emphasis on multi-threading. 3DMark is arguably the most popular gaming-style benchmark around, so it recieves significant optimization efforts from AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel. Futuremark says it had the assistance of the three companies above and Microsoft when developing Time Spy.

This is good news for hardware review sites like us, as it will give us another data point with which to compare the latest hardware on the latest API besides the somewhat-controversial Ashes of the Singularity benchmark—even if 3DMark is a purely synthetic test. Time Spy isn't available yet, but it's "coming soon" to all Windows 3DMark versions. In case you don't have 3DMark, it's actually on sale in the Steam Summer Sale for just five measly bucks.

30 comments — Last by Krogoth at 5:10 PM on 06/26/16

Swim-a-Lap Day Shortbread
— 4:15 AM on June 24, 2016

Eight is Enough

  1. WCCFtech: AMD RX 480 gaming benchmarks leaked
  2. VideoCardz: New AMD RX 480 CrossFire benchmarks hit the web
  3. VIdeoCardz's exclusive: 3DMark Time
    Spy supports Asynchronous Computing
  4. TechCrunch: Apple is discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display
  5. Android Police's exclusive: Specs for "Sailfish" - the
    smaller of two upcoming HTC-built Nexus devices
  6. Übergizmo: OnePlus 3 RAM fix will come in a later update
  7. Attack of the Fanboy: Fallout 4 update 1.5.4 available now on PC
  8. PC Gamer: The legacy of Quake, 20 years later

Read more...

19 comments — Last by ET3D at 3:12 AM on 06/27/16

Steam Summer Picnic sale is all about tasty games
— 4:38 PM on June 23, 2016

I'm sorry it's been so long since the last news post. I had to run and chase my wallet, it heard the words "Steam Summer Picnic Sale" and it stormed off. I managed to grab it by the tip of the credit card, and now it's snarling angry noises at me. I can understand why, as the sale has quite a handful of great deals on many popular titles. Let's take a good look at what's on offer.

Virtual reality

VR is all the rage now, and Valve is enticing buyers of its Vive headset with discounts on VR titles.

  • Cloudlands: VR Minigolf, $9.99. Miniature golf is as good an idea as any for a virtual reality game, and this title should offer you an experience that doesn't involve constantly ball-fetching treks or hurling insults at lawn gnomes. Okay, maybe that last part is still present.
     
  • Audioshield, $14.99. You fight music. Yes, really. One boxing glove of each color, speakers blasting notes from your own tunes at you, and you punch them away. Sounds addictive, and I'd love to get this so I could punch dubstep to death. The problem is, I'd have to listen to it in the process.
     
  • Final Approach, $17.49. If you think "Flight Control in VR," you're not too far off. Just try to not crash too many passenger jets.
     
  • The Gallery EP1: Call of the Starseed, $23.99. Not every VR experience has to be about addictive but otherwise relatively simple games. Call of the Starseed is a thriller-fantasy exploration and puzzle-solving game. A tense game and a VR headset sound like two things that were practically born to marry. We should note that the soundtrack was penned by Jeremy Soule, composer of epic soundtracks in games such as Icewind Dale.

Of course, despite VR being the latest craze, that doesn't that "normal" games suddenly got any less interesting. Steam has about three Kardashian buttloads of sales spread across multiple categories.

Role-playing

  • Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, $24.99 or $50.24 for the game and the expansion pass. Despite all the positive feedback and sales that Witcher 3 generated, I will say the game is still underrated. Yours truly played it to the end, and it's simply one of the best games ever. Moreover, the expansions are entire games in themselves, unlike the usual cash-grabs that othEr compAnies are so famous for.
     
  • Banner Saga 2, $15.99. Looking for something a little off the beaten path? Banner Saga 2 is a story-driven role-playing game, with an emphasis on battlefield tactics and beautiful hand-drawn graphics.
     
  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, $20.09. This title took its time coming to the PC, but Capcom's action-RPG arrived with a loud and clear bang.
     
  • Fallout 4, $29.99. This game probably needs no introduction. Sink your hours into the Commonwealth wasteland, killing Super Mutants and crafting guns. Beware the Institute, though.
     
  • Darkest Dungeon, $14.99. A "rogue-like" RPG that pits the players not only against dungeons full of dangerous monsters, but also against hunger, disease, and sheer terror. The game's combat system is turn-based, and the art is hand-drawn. Certainly enticing.
     
  • This War of Mine, $4.99. We've all played zillions of war games where we're the hero, shooting away at bad guys like war itself was going out of style. This War of Mine puts the shoe firmly on the other foot, putting the player in control of a ragtag band of survivors desperately trying to find food and medicine to survive. It sounds like a grueling trip, and a very interesting one at that.

First-person shooters

  • Doom, $35.99. The 2016 Doom is here, and have it on my authority: it's really good. Essentially, Bethesda managed the near-impossible task of striking a balance between old-style shooting and modern gameplay. Totally worth the asking price.
     
  • ArmA 3, $19.99. For those that want a more realistic shooting experience short of grabbing an actual assault rifle, there's ArmA 3. The series is long-known for its realistic take on the modern FPS, and ArmA 3 looks to please both simulation buffs and FPS fans alike.
     
  • Payday 2, $5.00. Be the bad guy for once. Rob banks, shoot cops, make money, rob banks, shoot cops while cooking meth, spend money on guns to rob banks. All in a day's work, and it's insanely addictive. You've been warned. Just make sure to bring some friends along, the game truly shines with four-person co-op.

Action

  • Grim Dawn $18.74. I'm leading this section with this game because it really is that good. Made by the same people that developed the criminally-overlooked Titan Quest, Grim Dawn is everything good and more about an action-RPG. Just don't come complaining when you suddenly realize you sunk six months into it.
     
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider, $38.99. Lara Croft is the modern-day Indiana Jones, and in all the best ways. The latest game in the series has the protagonist searching for the Lost City of Kitezh, on the hunt for the secret of immortality. The Siberian wastes are friends of no-one, though, and she must do battle with the environment and her enemies in equal measure.
     
  • Shadow of Mordor (Game of the Year edition), $12.49. This title is also most definitely in the "a bit overlooked" bin. Tolkien setup and characters? Check. A human/wraith hybrid set out to kill orcs? Check. Lots of orcs just asking to be slaughtered in a dozen interesting ways? Definitely check. That's all you need to know. The game's excellent technical execution and copious amounts of lore are icing on the cake, too.
     
  • Gauntlet Slayer Edition, $4.99. If you're old enough to have played the original Gauntlet, then you know what the remake title is about. For those that aren't, it's a top-down action game pitting a team of players against endless hordes or monsters, with an emphasis on crowd control and teamwork. Addictive, and recommended.
     
  • Orcs Must Die 2, $3.74. If you're not content with killing orcs in Shadow of Mordor, you can quench your thirst in this title. A mix of a tower defense with an FPS, Orcs Must Die 2 is original and addictive. Best played with a friend.

Strategy/other

  • XCOM 2, $35.99. The XCOM series needs little introduction, nor does the latest entry in the series. The latest title builds on the first game with a breathtaking pace and a host of new enemies.
     
  • Banished, $6.79. Hi, my name is Bruno, and I'm part of the BAA, the Banished Addicts Anonymous club. The premise is simple: you get a handful of settlers, a cart with a few tools, and you have to build a settlement and survive. It's a much trickier game than it appears at first sight. The web of dependencies built by resource gathering and refinement is complex, and it's very easy to have it fall apart. An all-time favorite timesink of mine.
     
  • Project Cars, $14.99. Who could forget about the best racing simulator in many a year? Project Cars is everything that the Forza and Gran Turismo series are, and a lot more. Plus, it's a great game to show off if you have a VR headset.
     
  • Metroidvania bundle, $25.47. Last but not least, here's our out-of-left-field choice. The bundle includes five titles, and me and Zak elected the excellent Strider remake and the unique-looking Salt and Sanctuary as personal picks.

Whew, that was a lot of of games. Just mind your wallet during the next couple weeks, it may end up astray like mine did. If we missed any noteworthy deals, go ahead and post them in the comments section below.

42 comments — Last by sweatshopking at 11:00 AM on 06/25/16

Corsair Vengeance LED DIMMs are serious about color coordination
— 1:14 PM on June 23, 2016

So, you ordered that fancy black-and-white mobo, and a neat white case to go with it. Your fans are likewise color-coordinated, as is your graphics card. Oh, rats. The RAM you picked looks really ugly in that set. No worries, Corsair has just the thing for you: Vengeance LED DDR4 DIMMs. Check them out in the video below:

The Vengeance LED RAM sticks come fitted with a choice of white or red diodes, visible along the DIMMs' top end underneath a grooved aluminum heatsink. Corsair says these DIMMs are built on a ten-layer PCB and pack "carefully screened" ICs. Transfer speeds range from 2600 MT/s to a speedy 4333 MT/s. Voltage is set to 1.2V in kits with speeds up to 2666 MT/s, while sticks clocked at 3000 MT/s or higher require 1.35V of juice.

Corsair offers the Vengeance LED DIMMs in packs ranging from 16GB to 64GB. 16GB kits come with two 8GB DIMMs, 32GB kits are available as quad-8GB or double-16GB sets, and 64GB packs come with four 16GB DIMMs. All kits are covered by Corsair's lifetime warranty, by the way. Interested buyers can hit up Corsair's online store, which is already selling versions up to 3600 MT/s. Corsair says that faster kits will appear "shortly."

22 comments — Last by Brainsan at 5:10 PM on 06/24/16

Here's a first look at AMD's Radeon RX 480 graphics card
— 10:50 AM on June 23, 2016

Information about AMD's Radeon RX 480 graphics card has leaked like a sieve the past couple days. Along with the card itself, AMD sent us a note saying that it would be OK if, y'know, we took a few pictures of the RX 480 and shared them with you ahead of the NDA lift—as long as we didn't take it apart. Let's take a quick look at the RX 480's externals.

The RX 480 reference cooler is 9.5" long, and its design language is of a piece with the fancy shroud that debuted on the Radeon R9 Fury X. AMD continues to use a blower-style fan on this reference card.

Flipping the RX 480 over reveals...well, not much. The card has a surprisingly stubby PCB, so most of the first quarter of its length is actually an intake for the blower fan. The fact that AMD uses vents on both sides of the card is a nice touch for folks thinking about CrossFire setups.

The card's rear end houses three DisplayPort 1.3 outs and an HDMI 2.0b port. From this angle, you can just barely catch a look at the single PCIe six-pin power input the RX 480 needs to do its thing. We'd love to talk more about what this card can do today, but you'll just have to wait for our full review for all the details.

167 comments — Last by Mr Bill at 3:26 AM on 06/28/16

Samsung's new convertible laptop charges in 90 minutes
— 10:18 AM on June 23, 2016

Samsung is sprucing up its Windows laptop offerings with the new Notebook 7 Spin family. This Windows 10 device comes in 13.3- or 15.6-inch flavors, and it's a flexible-hinge-type convertible with a 1080p touchscreen, a 1TB hard drive, and optional discrete graphics.

That's all well and good, but this laptop's ability to charge to full in 90 minutes is its key feature. Samsung also says the Notebook 7 Spin can grab two hours of battery life with 20 minutes of charging. That rapid-charge ability might make this device more attractive to people who absolutely need a laptop for maximum mobility.

The somewhat pedestrian 13.3-inch model is equipped with a Core i5-6200U CPU and uses that processor's HD 520 graphics. Samsung did at least outfit the machine with 8GB of dual-channel DDR4, so performance from the little Skylake should be acceptable.

On the other hand, the 15.6-inch model comes in two variations. Both wield a Core i7-6500U processor and a GeForce 940MX discrete GPU with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The cheaper of the two has 12GB of memory, while the more expensive model has 16GB and a 128GB SSD. The elephant in the room with these laptops is that only the top-end model includes any solid-state storage.

Samsung says all three models feature "expandable storage options," so we suppose users can install their own SSDs. Other features common to the Notebook 7 Spin family include an automatic backlit keyboard, HDMI out, and a USB Type-C port. That multifunction port supports transfer rates up to 5Gbps, and the cryptic "Charging" note on Samsung's specifications probably indicates rapid charging support for compatible mobile devices.

The Notebook 7 Spin will be released on June 26th. Samsung will be offering the new convertible through its own website, Best Buy stores, and BestBuy.com. The 13.3" model will be $799.99, while the 15.6" models are priced at $999.99 or $1199.99 for the SSD-equipped model.

14 comments — Last by cheesyking at 5:54 AM on 06/26/16

Hasselblad makes world's first mirrorless medium-format camera
— 4:32 PM on June 22, 2016

Here's something you don't see every day. TR photo enthusiasts will be plenty familiar with the concept of the mirrorless camera by now. These next-gen shooters do away with the bulky mirror box and prism assembly of the good old DSLR for an electronic viewfinder and on-sensor autofocus. Those improvements usually lead to wafer-thin bodies like those of Sony's Alpha lineup, or smaller camera systems in general, as one might get with a Micro Four Thirds body from Panasonic or Olympus. Fabled camera maker Hasselblad is taking the opposite approach today with its X1D system. It put a huge sensor in a tiny body to create what may be the world's first medium-format mirrorless camera.

A little primer, first: medium-format cameras use film or sensors that are larger than the standard 36-mm by 24-mm area of "full-frame" digital or 35-mm cameras. The larger image sensor of medium-format digital cameras can result in images with better dynamic range and more detail than those smaller formats can provide, since the pixels on the image sensor itself can be both larger and more numerous.

The 43.8-mm by 32.9-mm sensor on the X1D is 40% larger still than that of a full-frame DSLR's, and Hasselblad packs 50MP onto its area. That means each pixel is 5.3 μm square, 8% larger than the 4.88-μm pixels on Nikon's already-well-regarded D810—and there's 28% more of them to work with here. The X1D can store its 65MB raw image files on a pair of SD cards. It can also shoot 1080p, H.264 video at up to 25 FPS.

Despite the large sensor, the X1D is just 5.9" wide by 3.9" tall by 2.8" deep (150 mm by 98 mm by 71 mm) and weighs just 1.6 pounds (725 grams ) without a lens. That's actually smaller and lighter than the D810 and many other full-frame DSLRs.

A new camera system means new lenses, and Hasselblad's latest will launch with two: a 90-mm normal lens, and a 45-mm wide-angle. Both of these lenses use integrated leaf shutters with speeds ranging from 60 minutes to 1/2000 of a second. They can also synchronize with flash at all of their rated shutter speeds, a useful feature for shooting with flash in broad daylight or for fast action.

Since the X1D is a mirrorless camera, it uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead of an optical one. Hasselblad uses a 1024x768 EVF in the X1D. It's paired with a 3" touch LCD on the camera's rear panel that can be used in a live view mode for composition without placing one's eye on the viewfinder. The touch screen also provides a familiar interface for changing the camera's wide range of settings.

The one pain point with this camera might be its contrast-detection autofocus system. Compared to the fast phase-detection systems available on many DSLRs, smartphones, and even other mirrorless cameras, contrast-detect AF tends to be slower and more troubled by moving subjects. Anybody who's tried autofocus with live view on a DSLR is likely familiar with this problem. Most people probably won't be shooting action with this camera, however, so potentially slower AF is likely an OK price to pay for the X1D's presumably excellent image quality.

Of course, a big sensor comes with a big price tag. The X1D body will carry an $8,995 list price, and its lenses will doubtless cost multiple thousands each. Consider that the company's professional medium-format systems can cost north of $30,000 each, though, and the X1D starts looking like a bargain. For the lucky few able to afford one, this camera looks like it could offer an amazing blend of image quality and portability. The company didn't say when it would begin shipping the X1D in its press release, but Hasselblad endorser Ming Thein says shipments will begin in late August.

42 comments — Last by Crackhead Johny at 9:21 AM on 06/27/16

Rumor: AMD Zen chipsets suffering USB 3.1 setback
— 3:37 PM on June 22, 2016

File this one under "probably not a problem, probably." Rumor has it that while AMD's Zen processors are on track and "have a satisfactory yield rate," the chipsets for them, designed by Asustek subsidiary ASMedia, are having issues with signal quality on USB 3.1 connections. Specifically, Digitimes says "USB 3.1 transmission speeds drop dramatically as circuit distance increases."

This problem would require motherboard vendors to use additional supporting hardware to maintain USB 3.1 performance, increasing the materials cost for affected boards. Digitimes claims that AMD is considering supplying third-party retimer and redriver chips to motherboard vendors along with the chipsets. As usual, Digitimes did not give any source for the statements it cites.

Earlier roadmaps including Zen mentioned a "Promontory" chipset, and we'd wager that's the chip that's been outsourced to ASMedia. AMD declined to comment on "customer-specific board-level solutions," but it said that it was pleased that Zen is on track. On the other hand, ASMedia specifically denied the rumor, remarking that its "product's signal, stability, and compatibility have all passed certification."

Intel's Sandy Bridge platform, which was a similar step forward for the company, also faced an issue with its chipset design. Assuming the rumor is even true—it is, after all, just a rumor—this certainly sounds like a relatively minor issue. According to other rumors, the Summit Ridge processor has USB 3.0 and SATA on-die, so faults in the Promontory chipset may simply be swept under the rug.

75 comments — Last by mesyn191 at 7:18 AM on 06/26/16