NTFS filesystem bug could crash Windows 7, 8, and 8.1
— 4:39 PM on May 26, 2017

Any gerbils out there using Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 may want to take note, particularly if they use Internet Explorer on those systems. A security vulnerability has come to light (Google Translation), affecting those operating systems. A malicious local application or even a website (with IE in the mix) can potentially crash a machine simply by sending a carefully-crafted request to access a local file.

The exploit results from a bug in the way Windows handles protected filenames. In this specific case, the offending file is $MFT, which is reserved for a bit of NTFS metadata. There's a hidden $MFT file in the root of every NTFS volume, and normally Windows won't let you access it. A clever trickster figured out that if you use $MFT as if it were a directory—say, by trying to access "C:\$MFT\foo"—the NTFS volume driver will hang. That may not immediately crash the whole system, but it will necessitate a restart eventually.

Most browsers will block any attempt to access local content, but at least on Internet Explorer, the exploit can apparently be triggered simply by using a faulty path as a source for page content like an image. That means that an attacker could craft a page that will cause the machine to lock up and need a reboot. Obviously, local malware can also make use of the exploit, although at that point you arguably have bigger problems.

Microsoft hasn't yet acknowledged the problem nor promised a fix. The exploit doesn't affect Windows 10, so it's possible that the company might not be rushing to offer a patch. And, as we mentioned before, most browsers should simply ignore the remote page's request to use a local data source anyway.

16 comments — Last by Anton Kochubey at 1:29 AM on 05/27/17

Aerocool starts Project 7 with a flurry of case and cooling gear
— 3:16 PM on May 26, 2017

Aerocool has been rapidly expanding its lineup of case- and cooling-focused gear for a while. Computex 2017 is as good a time and place as any for the company to show Project 7, its newest series of products. The Project 7 line comprises fans, a fan controller hub, cases, and power supplies. Let's take a look at each item in turn.

First off, we have the P7-F12 120-mm fans with RGB LED lighting and easily-removable blades. Ideally, you'll connect these to a P7-H1 hub—a unit capable of controlling up to five fans and delivering up to 24 W of juice. Those truly crazy about lighting can wire up to eight of these hubs, too. The P7-H1 is compatible with Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte motherboards for controlling the RGB LEDs on the fans. Aerocool says each P7-12 will go for $11, while the P7-H1 hub should set you back $25. There will also be a P7-F12 Pro bundle with the hub and three fans for $50.

Aerocool P7-C1 Pro

If the gear described above sounds interesting, Aerocool will happily sell you two cases with all of it inside. We talked about the P7-C1 before, so here's a brief recap: it's a mid-tower case with a tempered glass side panel and integrated RGB LED lighting. The new Pro version has a handful of tweaks and comes with a P7-H1 controller and three P7-F12 fans. There's room inside for two 3.5" drives and 2.5" SSDs, and there's 15" (37.5 cm) of clearance for graphics cards, or 16" (40 cm) if the fan in front is removed. Pricing for the P7-C1 Pro case is set at $165.

Aerocool P7-C0 Pro

Aerocool is also showing off the P7-C0 Pro variation. Although the company didn't publish many details on this model, judging from its looks it appears to be a smaller version of the P7-C1, probably with microATX mobo support. This model does come with dual tempered glass panels, and the forementioned hub-and-fans bundled. If you'd rather set up your own cooling solution, Aerocool will sell you the P7-C0, a version with simpler 10-color LED lighting and with no hub or RGB LED fans included. The P7-C0 Pro will set you back $140, while the simpler P7-C0 will go for $105.

Finally, there's the P7-650W, which is the first power supply we've seen carrying Cybenetics certification tags. The P7-650W has a noise rating of Lambda  A++ (the top rating), and an efficiency rating of Eta-B—that's between 88% and 91% overall efficiency, with over 75% efficiency on the 5VSB line, and under 0.2W of vampire power. The unit is also 80 Plus Platinum certified, in case you were wondering.

According to Aerocool, this PSU was designed in conjunction with the good folks at TechPowerUp and comes with Japanese capacitors and an RGB LED-lit fan. The color wrangling capabilities can be controlled with Asus, MSI, Gigabyte motherboards with the appropriate headers, or Aerocool's own P7-H1 hub. There are also 750W and 850W versions available. Those certifications are probably expensive, though—the P7-650W will set you back a whopping $210, the P7-750W will go for $230, and the bigger P7-850W has a $260 price tag.

Aerocool says all this gear will be available in June and will be visible at Computex 2017 in Taiwan.

3 comments — Last by drfish at 4:27 PM on 05/26/17

Enermax NeoChanger is both a pump and a reservoir
— 1:30 PM on May 26, 2017

When I think about liquid cooling, Enermax isn't the first company that comes to mind, even though it's been selling AIO coolers for a while now. The company is probably looking to change that perception and is making headway into the custom-loop liquid cooling market with the NeoChanger pump-and-reservoir combo.

The NeoChanger's reservoir portion includes RGB LED lighting that can be configured using the included remote, or through synchronization with popular motherboard lighting control headers. The remote can also be used for controlling the pump's speed, which can be monitored using the digital readout on the front of the NeoChanger.

Enermax's new pump-reservoir combo comes in varieties with 200 ml, 300 ml, or 400 ml capacities. All models can be mounted horizontally or vertically using the included brackets. Fittings aren't included with the pump, so you'll want to provide your own in the standard G1/4 size. You'll be able to pick up a NeoChanger in June. The 200 ml cup will sell for $110, the 300 ml glass will go for $120, and the 400 ml jug will set you back $130.

5 comments — Last by CScottG at 12:50 AM on 05/27/17

Acer sprinkles the Iconia Tab 10 with quantum dots
— 11:45 AM on May 26, 2017

Acer will be showing more than PCs, laptops, and displays at Computex. The company is also bringing a couple of new 10" Android tablets. The Iconia Tab 10 (A3-A50) has four forward-facing speakers and a whiz-bang quantum-dot display for increased maximum brightness and color saturation. Meanwhile, the Iconia One 10 (B3-A40FHD) sports two USB-OTG ports, letting users simultaneously charge the tablet and use USB peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, or flash drive. Don't mistake the new models for the existing Iconia 10, model A3-A30-18P1. That one has a "regular" IPS display and an Intel Atom SoC.

We know that both tablets will be built around quad-core Mediatek SoCs, suggesting that they won't target the top range of the Android tablet market. Both models come with Android Nougat and some Acer-specific features, like gestures to wake up the device with a specific app in the foreground, a three-finger pinch to take a screen shot, and an EZ Mode that restricts application usage to whitelisted apps when the tablet is given over to a child.

Acer is staying mum on technical details like screen resolution, memory, and storage capacities. We expect more will be revealed once Computex starts next week.

6 comments — Last by Rand at 4:55 PM on 05/26/17

Deals of the week: lots of motherboards and a cheap GTX 1080
— 10:57 AM on May 26, 2017

Greeting, gerbil boys and gerbil girls! The large amount of news published yesterday probably tipped you off to the fact that Computex 2017 is about to start. We're making doomsday preparations around TR HQ, readying up for the inevitable deluge of announcements and press releases. So far we have three boxes of matches and five cans of baked beans. I think we're on the right track for surviving next week. Despite all the prep work underway, we still managed to scavenge some hardware deals for your perusal. Here you go.

  • Gigabyte offers about a bazillion different motherboards, but today we'd like to turn your attention towards two specific models. The Aorus GA-Z270X Gaming K5 is a pretty spiffy offering with USB 3.1 Type-C and Type-A ports, dual M.2 sockets, a Killer E2500 Ethernet controller, and an ALC1220 audio codec with TI op-amps. Oh, right, and RGB LED lighting. Newegg will sell you this board for only $159.99 after promo code EMCSRFCF6, and there's a $20 mail-in rebate to sweeten the pot.
  • If you're thinking of building an AMD rig instead, the Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming K5 shares most of the above board's characteristics, except you get more USB ports, only one M.2 slot, and Ethernet connectivity uses an Intel chip instead. There's also an external clock generator for easy RAM overclocking. Grab this board from Newegg for $159.99. That $20 rebate card makes an appearance again here, too.
  • You may prefer Asus gear to Gigabyte. We're only happy to oblige. Take a look at this here Asus ROG Strix Z270F motherboard. It comes with a pretty black paintjob, USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports, an Intel I219-V Ethernet controller, metal-reinforced PCIe slots, and the requisite RGB LED lighting. The ALC S1220A codec should be music to your ears, too. This board is selling for $159.99 at Newegg.
  • If you want something a little more affordable but by no means "cheap", then look no further than the MSI Z270 Gaming Plus. This board has a metal-reinforced PCIe slot, an Intel I219-V Ethernet controller, and an M.2 socket. It can be yours for a mere $104.99 at Newegg, and there's a $10 rebate card on offer.
  • Everyone wants a high-end graphics card, but not everyone can afford one. Until today, that is. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 has a triple-fan cooler and a boost clock of at least 1771 MHz in OC mode. The card's best characteristic? Its price: only $459.99 at Newegg, an insane deal for a card that commanded over $600 not that long ago.
  • There couldn't be a deals post without a storage deal. The Crucial MX300 525GB SSD has been a mainstay of our System Guides thanks to its near-perfect combination of performance and price, and Newegg is running a deal on it today. You can buy one for $143.99, an enticing offer considering SSDs' recent price surge.
  • Finally, here's something for working on the go. The Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA-UBM2T-GD ultra-thin convertible packs a Core m3-6Y30 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and both Type-A and Type-C USB ports. This class of machine would usually set you back well north of $750, but not today. Newegg is selling the version with a light gold finish (quite pretty actually) for only $599.00. Get it while it's hot.

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 and Das Keyboard's shop.

20 comments — Last by derFunkenstein at 8:56 PM on 05/26/17

MSI Vortex G25VR, Infinite-A, and Pro 20EX PCs fill all niches
— 10:00 AM on May 26, 2017

MSI has a wide range of products to display at Computex this year—so many, in fact, that we'll have to tackle them a few at a time. Here, we'll take a peek at the company's upcoming desktop systems. The company has a handful of desktops for the living room, home office, and workplace: the Vortex G25VR, Infinite-A, and Pro 20EX.

First on the list is the Vortex G25VR—a desktop, console-like machine aims to pack serious gaming power into a slim 2.5 L chassis. As the model name suggests, this rig's hardware should suffice to meet the strenuous demands of high-end VR gaming. MSI is still holding back details on most of the system's internals, but we know that the cooling solution involves dual exhaust fans and eight heatpipes.

The next addition to MSI's fleet of gaming desktops is the Infinite A. With its tempered glass side panel, bold angles on the front and top of the chassis, and rainbow-colored adornments, the system's presentation is nothing if not striking. The Infinite A packs the latest iteration of MSI's Silent Storm Cooling thermal solution, which uses multiple air chambers to exhaust heat efficiently and, as MSI puts it, as quietly "as an assassin." The company says the system is easily upgradeable. According to Tom's Hardware, the Infinite A comes with a B250-based motherboard, a Core i7-7700 CPU, and a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. There's apparently a front-mounted HDMI port for easily connecting a VR headset, too.

Finally, MSI is giving some attention to its business clients with its lineup of MSI Pro 20EX all-in-ones. Here, MSI sheds the "gamer" aesthetic in favor of simple lines, a crystal frame, and a minimalist metal base. We have some details on the Pro 20EX 7M model. This particular machine comes with a choice of Core i3-7100 or Core i5-5400 CPUs. There are two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots available that can take in up to 32GB of RAM. For storage purposes, there's a 2.5" bay and an M.2 slot. The 20" display has a resolution of 1600x900. More information on these desktops should emerge as Computex heats up next week.

1 comment — First by EndlessWaves at 11:11 AM on 05/26/17

Nvidia unveils the GeForce GTX Battlebox certification program
— 9:00 AM on May 26, 2017

All told, setting up a gaming PC isn't that hard these days. It's not like back when I was a teenager and we had to fiddle with IRQ assignments, DIP switches, and jumpers. Even if you don't want to build a computer yourself, there are boutique vendors offering pre-configured hardware. Nvidia is apparently concerned that some folks aren't getting the best experience, though. The company just announced the GeForce GTX Battlebox certification program, intended to make sure buyers of prebuilt gaming PCs are getting a machine that will meet a certain performance level.

There are two tiers of GeForce GTX Battlebox. The "Essential" tier refers to a system with at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, 8 GB of memory or more, an SSD, and at least a GeForce GTX 1060 6GB card. The Battlebox "Ultimate" tag demands at least a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 CPU, 16GB of DDR4 memory, an SSD, and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. If the system includes a monitor, both Essential and Ultimate tiers require that the monitor supports G-Sync.

Nvidia says the Battlebox Essential rigs are targeted to run games like Overwatch, League of Legends, Tekken 7, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 60+ FPS, with detail settings at maximum, at a resolution of 1920x1080. Meanwhile, the company fairly says that the Ultimate machine should "handle everything you throw at [it]." Nvidia uses the specific example of running the upcoming Destiny 2 in 4K resolution at 60 FPS.

The Battlebox program is part of a partnership with eight boutique system builders, detailed in the image above. Several of those builders already have GeForce GTX Battlebox systems ready to go. This certification could be a convenient guideline for gerbils tired of picking system parts for friends-of-friends.

27 comments — Last by Voldenuit at 9:06 PM on 05/26/17

Acer Spin 1 and Nitro 5 laptops are ready for school season
— 4:30 PM on May 25, 2017

Parents and students alike might not be ready to hear this, but back-to-school season is a few short months away. That means it's time for notebook manufacturers to update their lineups in anticipation of those end-of-summer sales events. Accordingly, Acer has a new Spin convertible and a lineup of Nitro 5 gaming notebooks to show off at Computex this year—all with affordable price tags.

The Spin 1 notebook is a thin-and-light 11.6" convertible notebook with a metal chassis. It weighs only 2.8 lbs (1.24 kg) and is 0.55" thin (14 mm), so it'll slip easily into a backpack or satchel. The touch-enabled IPS display has a resolution of 1920x1080, generally a good fit for a smaller laptop screen. Acer touts how well the notebook pairs up with a stylus and the latest tools in the Windows 10 Creators Update, though we don't know if the laptop comes with a pen.

Buyers get to pick one of Intel's "latest" (we presume seventh-generation) Pentium or Celeron processors, and 32, 64, or 128 GB of eMMC storage. The systems pack 4GB of DDR3L memory, and their battery should be good for about eight hours. Peripheral connectivity comes courtesy of a USB 3.1 port and a USB 2.0 connector. There's also an HDMI output and a microSD card slot. For networking purposes, the Spin 1 uses an 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi adapter.

Users who like their notebooks served with a side of gaming might take a peek at Acer's Nitro 5 lineup. Acer equips these 15.6" notebooks with a 1920x1080 display and more horsepower than the lightweight Spin 1 models. Users can get a machine with two combinations: a choice of Kaby Lake Core i7 CPUs paired with GeForce cards up to a GTX 1050 Ti, or an AMD seventh-generation A-series processors coupled with a Radeon RX 550.

Acer says the notebooks support up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 RAM. The company doesn't say what's the baseline storage configuration, but notes that buyers have options for PCIe SSDs and an optional HDD as secondary storage. The Nitro 5s come with one USB 3.1 Type-C port, one USB 3.0 connector, two USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI 2.0 output. Wireless networking comes by way of an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter with 2x2 MIMO support. The systems are kept cool with two fans that exhaust heat out the back, and have a black-and-red "gamer" style finish.

These notebooks will all start selling in July. Pricing for the Spin 1 starts at a remarkably affordable $329, while the Nitro 5 models start at $799.

13 comments — Last by morphine at 8:15 AM on 05/26/17

Ryzen AGESA exposes more memory overclocking options
— 4:12 PM on May 25, 2017

Over the past couple months, we've come to understand that memory speed and latency plays a major role in Ryzen CPU performance. Higher speeds and lower latencies are desirable for getting the most out of a Ryzen chip. Outside of a few motherboards with external base-clock generators, however, the memory multipliers for Ryzen CPUs have maxed out at 32. With a 100-MHz default base clock, that means builders have been limited to running overclocked RAM at DDR4-3200 speeds.

Today, that all changes. AMD has announced that its AMD Generic Encapsulated System Architecture, or AGESA, version will expose 26 new RAM tuning settings to tweakers looking to extract the most from their Ryzen systems' RAM. These updates should bring AM4 motherboards' firmware settings for memory tweaking more on par with that of the Intel competition.

Of the wealth of memory overclocking options AGESA will offer, the two most important settings to me are an extended range of memory multipliers (up to 40, or DDR4-4000) and the option to set command rates at one tick or two ticks (1T or 2T). For example, the hot G.Skill DDR4-3866 memory I have here requires a 38.66 multiplier and a 2T command rate, but those settings simply couldn't be dialed in on Ryzen motherboards under the current AGESA ( without resorting to changes in the base clock that also controls important bus rates like PCI Express. Changing that base clock rate could result in unexpected behavior, so it's a relief that the masses won't have to resort to that approach any longer. 

Of course, AMD is quick to point out that using memory speeds above DDR4-2667 or settings not in accordance with JEDEC values is considered overclocking. Overclocking RAM with these new knobs will void a Ryzen CPU's factory warranty, even if you're using the company's Ryzen Master utility. Still, the temptation of performance gains will probably be too much to resist for many Ryzen owners.

In news that will be music to the ears of another class of users, AMD also says that AGESA will improve support for PCI Express Access Control Services, or ACS. According to the company, these improvements will allow users who run virtual machines on their Ryzen systems to better manage the assignment of PCIe devices within IOMMU groups. In short, the company says this feature will let VM wizards dedicate multiple graphics cards within a Ryzen system to the operating systems of their choice, whether natively installed or virtual, among other benefits.

AMD says motherboard firmware incorporating AGESA will be available starting in "mid-to-late June." The company notes that some motherboard makers have already begun issuing beta firmwares for some products with the new AGESA on board, most notably Gigabyte with its AX370-Gaming 5 and Asus with its Crosshair VI Hero. Folks eager to push Ryzen memory performance to its limits will doubtless welcome this update warmly.


56 comments — Last by anotherengineer at 10:15 PM on 05/26/17

Zotac previews plenty of petite PCs for Computex 2017
— 3:30 PM on May 25, 2017

Zotac is probably more known for its mini-PCs than its graphics products. The company was doing "NUC-likes" before the NUC existed, and it continues to produce some of the more interesting mini-PCs around. At Computex, Zotac will be showing off no less than nine new takes on the Zbox idea, plus an intriguing gaming machine called MEK.

Zotac Zbox EN1050K

The E-series is primarily aimed at gamers and enthusiasts who need high performance. Zotac will have five new E-series machines to show off at Computex, including the EN1050K, EK51060, EK71070, ER51060, and the ER51070. The first model, the EN1050K, is externally identical to the Magnus EN1070 we reviewed. We can surmise from the model name that it probably includes a GeForce GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti, but the rest of the hardware is a mystery for now.

Zotac Zbox ER51070

The other four E-series machines utilize a taller chassis like that found on the EN1080 Magnus. The extra height gives them room to accommodate a standard desktop graphics card rather than having to rely on mobile-specific hardware. The two "EK" models, EK51060 and EK71070, use Kaby Lake Core i5 and i7 processors respectively. Those CPUs are paired with GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics cards depending on the model.

Zotac Zbox ER51070

Meanwhile, the ER51060 and ER51070 are mini-PCs based on AMD's Ryzen processors. Zotac doesn't specify exactly which chips, although it says that the CPUs in question have a 65W TDP rating. Given that fact and the "R5" in the model numbers, we could probably make a fair guess. Besides the different internals, these machines appear to be identical to their Intel-based counterparts. That means you get a desktop-style (Zotac says "full-size") GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 card.

Zotac Zbox MA551

The M-series comprises Zotac's bread-and-butter mini-PCs. Zotac says the M stands for "multi-function", but it could as easily be "mainstream." The company will be bringing two M-series machines to Computex, the MI553 and MA551. These two little computers are nearly identical, except that one uses a Kaby Lake Intel processor, while the other uses a 65W Ryzen CPU.

Zotac Zbox MA551

The Intel-powered MI553 comes with Thunderbolt 3 support, although it loses an HDMI port versus its Ryzen cousin for the privilege. Meanwhile, the Ryzen-based MA551 has a whole bunch of video connections. That leaves us wondering if it includes a discrete graphics card in some form, or if it will be based on an as-yet unannounced Ryzen-based APU. We're as eager to know as you are.

Zotac Zbox PI225

The smallest of Zotac's mini-PCs are the Zbox P-series, formerly known as Zbox Pico. The company calls these its smallest Zboxes yet. The info sheet refers to the PI225 as "card-sized," and while the machine appears to be a a little too big for that moniker, it's doesn't appear to be larger than a typical smartphone. Zotac PR says the passively-cooled pocket PC is "4K display ready." Another fanless pocket PC, the PI335, will also be debuting at Computex. That model is thicker and closer to what we've seen from previous Zbox P-series models.

Zotac Gaming MEK

Finally, there's the MEK Gaming PC. While this machine doesn't exactly qualify as "mini PC," it's nonetheless interesting. The MEK is Zotac's first product from its new Zotac Gaming brand. The machine appears to be a more-or-less standard Mini-ITX gaming PC. The company didn't say much about what kind of internals will be available in the, but given its expertise with cramming hardware into micro machines, we have high expectations for the MEK's firepower.

7 comments — Last by DPete27 at 9:32 AM on 05/26/17

Kingston KC1000 SSDs jump into the consumer NVMe space
— 2:30 PM on May 25, 2017

Kingston has shipped M.2 SATA SSDs and PCIe NVMe drives. It has even offered M.2 NVMe drives under its HyperX gaming brand. However, we believe the new KC1000 lineup is Kingston's first M.2 NVMe offering released under its mainstream brand. This move can be interpreted as a sign that NVMe storage devices are moving from the enterprise and high-end PC arenas into the the consumer space.

The drives pack MLC flash in capacities from 240 GB all the way up to 960 GB. The largest models should offer up to 2700 MB/s of sequential read speed, 1600 MB/s of sequential write capability, and up to 190K random read IOPS and 165K random write IOPS. As usual, the parallelism of NAND flash means that the smaller drives cannot achieve the speeds of the larger units. The 240 GB drive has the same 2700 MB/s rating for sequential reads, but sequential writes can only hit 900 MB/s. Both 240 GB and 480 GB models score up to 160K IOPS in random 4K writes.

Power consumption for all drives is is a mere 0.11 W at idle but jumps to as much as 7.40 W when writing at maximum speed. As for endurance ratings, the 240 GB drive should be able to do 300 TB of writes, the 480 GB unit should be good for 550 TB, and the big 960 GB model ought to keep writing up to an even 1 PB.

All three models have Phison PS5007-E7 controllers on a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and share the same M.2 2280 form factor. A total of six models will be offered—three bare drives, and three versions with a PCIe adapter card along with both regular and low-profile brackets. Kingston backs the drives with a five-year warranty. The KC1000 SSDs will start shipping in mid-June, though there's currently no pricing information.

5 comments — Last by DPete27 at 9:38 AM on 05/26/17

Zotac readies a GTX 1080 Ti Mini and a slick external enclosure
— 1:30 PM on May 25, 2017

In case you don't follow tech news the way members of the press do, Computex Taipei starts next week. We won't have hard details on most of the products until the actual show, but everyone's whetting our appetites with promotional preview packets. Zotac is bringing a whole cart of goodies, including a bunch of mini-PCs and a couple of new graphics cards. We'll check out the mini-PCs in a minute, but for now, feast your eyes on the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini.

Okay, so it's not quite as "mini" as the cards we normally see that appellation attached to. Still, the board is only 8.3" (or 21 cm) long, which according to Zotac makes it the "world's smallest" GTX 1080 Ti. The card takes a pair of 8-pin power connectors, although we're not certain of the overclocking potential of a GTX 1080 Ti with a compact heatsink like this.

If even the that air cooler above is too big for you, Zotac will also be selling a miniature GTX 1080 Ti with a waterblock pre-installed. The Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArticStorm Mini appears to use the same board design as the previous card. Zotac doesn't say if it partnered with anyone for the waterblock or if it's an in-house design, but it looks pretty slick.

Laptop users don't have to feel left out, because Zotac is launching its own external graphics card enclosure. The Zotac VGA Box hooks up using Thunderbolt 3, and it will support graphics cards up to 9" in length (or 23 cm). It also provides four USB 3.0 ports and a special quick-charge USB connector. Zotac didn't offer many details, so we're eager to see if this is finally the reasonably-priced external graphics card enclosure that we've been looking for.

While we're on the subject of external hardware, Zotac is also going to be releasing an external SSD. Details on this device are extremely light, but it seems that it will include one of Zotac's 480 GB Sonix NVMe SSDs and that it will connect to PCs using Thunderbolt 3. It also appears to function as a USB 3.0 hub, like the VGA Box above.

Computex is just a few days away, so stay tuned for more info on these products as well as the mini-PCs we'll be talking about shortly.

25 comments — Last by tsk at 1:22 PM on 05/26/17

Towel Day Shortbread
— 1:00 PM on May 25, 2017

No panicking here.

PC hardware and computing

  1. Alphacool Eisbaer 360 and 280 liquid CPU cooler review @ PC Perspective
  2. The 140-mm slim tower CPU cooler roundup: thin & light done just right @ AnandTech
  3. Pushing Intel Optane potential: RAID performance explored @ Tom's Hardware
  4. Origin Chronos small form factor gaming PC review @ TechSpot
  5. EVGA Hydro Copper GTX 1080 waterblock @ TechPowerUp
  6. Cooler Master Cosmos II 25th Anniversary Edition review @ Guru3D
  7. Fractal Design Focus G Mini review @ bit-tech

Games and VR

  1. Hardware Review: Datel Go-tcha for Pokémon GO @ Nintendo Life
  2. Xbox game subscription service launches June 1 @ Polygon
  3. HoloLens could let flight attendants read your emotions @ New Atlas

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. Doomed thermostat @ Hack A Day (decidedly cannot run Crysis)
  2. Only 90s kids will appreciate this prototype @ Hack A Day
  3. World's first autonomous security vehicle with companion drone @ New Atlas
  4. Nokia 3310 review: no matter how much you think you want it, you don't want it @ Ars Technica
  5. Underwater drone swims with—and like—the fishes @ New Atlas (seems like image stabilization would be a problem, even with an excellent gimbal)

Cheese, memes, and RGB LEDs

  1. New mac and cheese shop expanding after selling out 'of everything' 1st day @

10 comments — Last by blastdoor at 6:12 AM on 05/26/17

MSI gets the GTX 1080 Ti ready for USB-C monitors of the future
— 12:00 PM on May 25, 2017

MSI already offers a staggering nine different takes on Nvidia's range-topping GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with anywhere from zero to three fans on board. Someone within the company must think that there are unfilled niches in the high-end graphics card space. MSI will be showing at least two new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti models at Computex at the end of the month.

The first card is the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G Graphics Card with USB Type C (sic). This card is similar to the company's existing Gaming X offering, but trades one of the DisplayPort outputs for a trendy USB Type-C port. The port loadout thus includes the USB connector, a single remaining DisplayPort, two HDMI outputs, and ye olde dual-link DVI-D jack. MSI didn't mention the clock speeds for the new card, but we imagine they will be similar to the regular Gaming X's—depending on the mode, a base clock of 1480 MHz to 1569 MHz, and a nominal boost clock of 1582 MHz to 1683 MHz. Interested gamers will need to make sure they have plenty of space for the two-and-a-half-slot Gaming X cooler.

We don't have as much info on MSI's second new card, but we know it will be called GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z and that it'll have a TriFrozr cooler with three of MSI's Torx 2.0 fans and support for MSI's Mystic Light RGB LED lighting. The manufacturer says the Lightning Z will be built with "Military Class 4" components, but didn't offer information on clock speeds or dimensions.

There's currently no word on pricing or availability information for either card, but we expect both to be among the priciest air-cooled GeForce GTX 1080 Tis. More information will surely follow when the cards are displayed at Computex next week.

19 comments — Last by BurntMyBacon at 11:11 AM on 05/26/17

Cryorig Cu heatsinks are cool in copper
— 11:00 AM on May 25, 2017

Teasers for next week's Computex event are starting to trickle out. The CPU-cooling gurus over at Cryorig sent over information about a new lineup of copper heatsinks affectionately called Cu, and an upcoming Cryorig R5 tower cooler. Let's take a look at the aluminum job first.

Cryorig says it designed its R5 cooler to offer efficient cooling performance in a slim profile. The cooler has two XF140 fans attached on either side of a single tower of aluminum fins, but the whole unit is narrow enough that it won't hang over the RAM slots. Six copper heat pipes transfer heat to the fin stack. Instead of a flat arrangement of heat pipes in the base, Cryorig uses a convex arrangement that puts the central pipes closer to the CPU. Cryorig also says that it will debut a new "Quick Lock" mounting mechanism with this cooler, though we'll have to wait until Computex to get more information on how it works.

Cryorig's upcoming Cu series of heatsinks seems designed to prove that everything old becomes new again. Hearkening back to the days of massive copper cooling contraptions, Cryorig plans to re-release many of its existing cooling designs retrofitted with copper fins. The first cooler to receive this treatment will be the low-profile Cryorig C7. Judging from the company's promotional materials, it looks like five other Cryorig coolers will be reborn in copper, including the massive R1 Ultimate. Nostalgia aside, Cryorig thinks these coolers will have a performance edge over their aluminum brothers due to the superior heat conductivity of copper.

Cryorig hasn't yet announced full details on the coolers, including release dates and pricing. More information is likely to be forthcoming after Computex next week.

13 comments — Last by BurntMyBacon at 10:31 AM on 05/26/17

Cougar Conquer enclosure makes the PC a centerpiece
— 10:00 AM on May 25, 2017

Gaming PC components seem to gain more armor and protection with every product generation. Witness the proliferation of motherboard armor, metal-reinforced PCIe slots, and full-coverage coolers and backplates on graphics cards. However, the trend for cases moved in the opposite direction, with steel casing having given way some time ago to ventilation and viewing windows, and even grilles and glass sometimes being replaced by an absence of panels. Cougar's Conquer PC enclosure goes one step further in the direction of letting PC parts fend for themselves.

Details on the enclosure are thin, but the Conquer has an aluminum frame that holds an ATX motherboard at an angle of about 45°, allowing cables to cascade down to the case's supporting surface. The overall "deconstructed" motif is similar to that found in the now-defunct Mad Catz's RAT 1 mouse. Tom's Hardware has some info on the case, and says the side panels are made from 5-mm-thick tempered glass.

A total of five 120-mm fans can spin behind metallic shrouds on the top and front of the case. Cougar includes three fans with the case. According to Tom's, the enclosure measures 23" by 10" by 30" (or 58 cm x 25 cm x 76 cm). For liquid cooling purposes, the Conquer can reportedly take in two 360-mm radiators and a 240-mm unit. The case's strange orientation results in a generous amount of room for main components, too. Owners can use CPU coolers up to 7.5" tall (19 cm), graphics cards as long as 14" (35 cm), and power supplies up to 8.7" in size (or 22 cm).

Cougar didn't provide a lot of information about the Conquer, but said that the case will be one of many products on display at Computex at the end of the month. Stay tuned for our coverage of the event as it unfolds. Tom's Hardware says to expect the Conquer on store shelves by the end of June or beginning of July for about $250.

17 comments — Last by Concupiscence at 2:15 PM on 05/25/17

NVMe 1.3 arrives with a host of handy features
— 9:00 AM on May 25, 2017

NVMe drives are just beginning to hit the mainstream, and the interface's designers have published the 1.3 revision of the NVMe specification. Version 1.3 is the spec's first big revision since 2014, and is notable for the inclusion of several features found in other storage protocols including the venerable ATA and SATA, as well as the decidedly low-end eMMC. Most of the new features are optional, but we expect at least a portion of them will become widespread on consumer drives due to their usefulness.

NVMe version 1.3 includes support for boot partitions, a feature found in eMMC. Boot partitions offer a simplified bootstrap mechanism that should make for simpler firmware and possibly dispense with the need for an SPI flash chip to store boot firmware. Drives that support boot partitions will have to provide two of them, for use in a scheme where only one partition is written at a time for redundancy's sake. This feature probably isn't meant for commonly-available NVMe drives, but will come in handy for mobile devices.

Perhaps one of the coolest features in the new spec is support for streams. Simplifying: with the current spec, if multiple files are being written to a drive simultaneously, chances are that their individual blocks will end up interleaved on the drive. With support for the streams directive, the controller can tell the drive how to physically store the data it's sending. Using the previous example, all the data for each file could end up physically sequential on the drive, possibly improving read speeds and potentially lowering write amplification. The concept should be familiar to anyone that's old enough to have watched a defragmentation graph.

The new specification also includes a device self-test feature, similar to the SMART features present in ATA and SATA drives since the mid-1990s. The spec calls for short and long tests. The tests may temporarily decrease device performance but won't disrupt device availability. The short test must finish in less than two minutes without disturbing the contents of the device. The long tests may write to the device, but all user data must be preserved and drives have to offer an estimate of the time until the test completes.

Another new feature is a sanitize command, also already available on SATA devices. The sanitize feature renders all data on a drive unrecoverable and ensures that any data in the drive's cache or buffers is equally cleared. Systems may also specify what kind of method the drive should use for wiping the data: block erase, overwriting, or encryption key destruction (on applicable drives).

New namespace, virtualization, telemetry, and thermal management features are also included in the new specification. Storage-obsessed gerbils can read a summary of the new features here, and the true masochists can read the complete 282-page specification document.

1 comment — First by chuckula at 9:04 AM on 05/25/17

Updated: Z270 Godlike mobo can hold a home network on its shoulders
— 3:00 PM on May 24, 2017

MSI has been teasing a new motherboard from its Godlike series for a bit now, primarily on Twitter. Eager enthusiasts were chomping at the bit for more information, because the persistent rumor was that the new board would be MSI's debut of the hotly-anticipated X299 platform. Sadly that's not the case, but the company's new Z270 Godlike Gaming still looks pretty swanky.

The blacked-out board is the first ever to include the new Killer xTend suite of networking tools. Essentially, using the triple Gigabit Ethernet connections and on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the Z270 Godlike Gaming can function as an Ethernet switch and Wi-Fi extender. Killer's new feature isn't intended to replace a proper home gateway or router, but it can provide wired and wireless network connectivity to other devices nearby. Killer's xTend software manages traffic intelligently: high-priority connections on the xTend-equipped machine won't be interrupted by traffic from connected devices, and those devices' performance won't be compromised by the Godlike PC's low-priority transfers, like large file downloads.

MSI was one of the first companies to start using ASMedia's ASM2142 USB 3.1 controller, allowing two ports to simultaneously run at 8 Gbps. Now the company is the first to bring out a board using the ASM3142 controller with the Godlike Gaming. The company admits that the ASM3142, which still connects to PCIe 3.0 x2, isn't actually any faster than the ASM2142, but it should draw less power in use. We're not sure power draw is a big concern for those building rigs based on boards like this, but it's nice all the same.

Buyers of the Z270 Godlike Gaming will find a new type of RGB Mystic Light header onboard, and a compatible Phanteks RGB LED lightstrip in the box. The lightstrip is a new style that allows each light in the strip to be set to a different color. This capability extends to the board itself, allowing builders to turn their systems into a glimmering kaleidoscope of glorious chromatic chaos.

The rest of the board is as top-shelf as you expect from a board named "Godlike." All four of its PCIe x16 slots and all four of its DIMM slots are metal-reinforced. All three of its M.2 sockets get M.2 Shields, and its lone U.2 port is reinforced, too. It has on-board power and reset switches, as well as diagnostic LEDs. As usual MSI makes a lot of noise about the audio quality of this board, although given the presence of a high-end ESS Technology DAC and what appears to be a 1/4" phone jack in the back, we're ready to take MSI at its word.

MSI calls the Z270 Godlike Gaming "released", but we couldn't find it yet at e-tail. It will probably arrive very soon, so keep an eye out if you're looking for what will surely be one of the finest Z270 boards out there. Just make sure you have full pockets when you're looking, because if experience is anything to go by, divinity doesn't come cheap.

Update 5/25/17 4:30 PM: This article originally stated that the Z270 Godlike Gaming could serve as a home gateway when directly connected to a router or modem. The Killer xTend suite does not function in this manner. Instead, it serves only as a wireless network extender paired with an onboard Ethernet switch that can then be connected to one's primary router. We regret the error.

32 comments — Last by K-L-Waster at 7:57 AM on 05/26/17

Sapphire shows off four new GPro E-series Radeons
— 1:30 PM on May 24, 2017

Sapphire just announced a new branch in its GPro family of business graphics cards. For the unaware, the GPro cards aren't intended to compete with Radeon Pro products for the 3D modelling or compute markets. They're aimed at uses like medical imaging, digital signage, kiosks, and other commercial applications. The new lineup is called the E-series, no doubt because it's based on the Radeon E-series embedded hardware. The lineup comprises four cards, ranging from the Polaris-based GPro E9260 down to the positively puny GPro E6465.

Sapphire's GPro E9260

Starting at the top, the GPro E9260 is based on the Radeon Embedded E9260. That's the embedded version of Polaris 11, better known as the Radeon RX 460. Like the RX 460, some of its bits are disabled, so it ends up with 896 shader processors. Unlike an RX 460, the GPro E9260 comes with 8GB of GDDR5 memory and four DisplayPort 1.3 connections. Sapphire says the card can service four 4K screens at a 60Hz refresh rate, or a pair of 5K screens at 60Hz.

Stepping down from there, we have the GPro E8870. This card is based on the Radeon Embedded E8870 (seeing a trend yet?). That chip is known internally as Saturn, but it was first known as Bonaire when we saw it in the Radeon HD 7790. The GPro E8870 comes equipped with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and six mini-DisplayPort connections, each capable of driving a 4K display at 60Hz. Unique among its brothers, this card includes screw-in locks for the display connections.

Sapphire's Radeon E8860

Stepping down once more we actually move out of the GPro family over to Sapphire's embedded products division and that group's Radeon E8860. The chip aboard this half-height half-length card is going by the Venus name nowadays, but we knew it as Cape Verde when it was aboard the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. It's significantly dropped in clock rate since back then—down to 625 MHz—but it comes with 2GB of memory onboard. Sapphire outfits the Radeon E8860 with four mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connections, which is probably about the most you can cram into a half-height single-slot card.

Finally, the last new card is the GPro E6465. This card again comes in a half-height, half-length form factor. It uses the Radeon Embedded E6465 processor, also known as Caicos. That chip and its 192 stream processors initially debuted aboard the Radeon HD 6490M in January of 2011. Despite its age, Sapphire uses the sub-30W processor to power four mini-DisplayPort 1.1 connections that can drive four 4K displays at 30Hz. Unlike its actively-cooled cousins above, this card is completely fanless.

Sapphire hasn't revealed pricing information for the new cards yet, but given their exotic feature set and limited production, don't expect them to come cheap. The company did say that the new cards will be available in Q3 of this year.

9 comments — Last by juzz86 at 1:53 AM on 05/25/17

Acer's Predator Z35P is on the hunt for a high-end gaming rig
— 12:00 PM on May 24, 2017

Our peripheral guides make it clear: we like variable-refresh-rate displays, and we think that any gamer who sits down in front of one will fall in love with the silky-smooth motion on the screen. Gamers looking for Nvidia's G-Sync technology in a premium package might want to take a look at Acer's Predator Z35P display, which puts the VRR tech into a curved, ultrawide package.

At 35", the Z35P is a big slab of pixels. It employs a VA panel with 1800R curvature and a native resolution of 3440x1440. While that's not quite as many pixels as one would find on a 4K screen, the display has enough real estate to display four documents side-by-side, and its ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio should make games and video even more immersive. Gamers will appreciate its standard 100 Hz refresh rate, 4 ms response time, and 2500:1 static contrast ratio. Unfortunately, Acer didn't publicize the display's G-Sync range, though that's not usually a concern with the technology.

The Predator Z35P connects to graphics cards through DisplayPort or HDMI connections, and comes with a four-port USB hub. As with Acer's other Predator products, the monitor is aggressively styled. It's adorned with bold red highlights and a large Predator logo, and the back panel has a brushed metal finish. The Z35P is available now for $1100.

46 comments — Last by cynan at 8:30 AM on 05/26/17