TOP NEWS
ASRock gathers its herd of AM4 motherboards
— 4:30 PM on February 23, 2017

Hot on the heels of AMD's big Ryzen announcement yesterday, ASRock is showing off a six-pack of AM4 motherboards. The two most affordable boards use AMD's B350 chipset, and the other four are centered around an X370 chipset. All models sport four DDR4 slots supporting speeds up to 2667 MT/s. Let's take a look at each model in detail.

The AB350 Pro4 can punch a buyer's ticket into the Ryzen party for less than $100. In exchange for nine portraits of Alexander Hamilton, you get an ATX motherboard with a pair of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, six SATA ports, a PCIe M.2 slot, and a SATA M.2 slot. Networking is handled by a plain-old Realtek Gigabit Ethernet adapter. The AB350 Pro4 sports eight USB 3.0 ports, one of them with a Type-C connector. The board has HDMI, DVI-D, and VGA outputs, but those will only work with a Bristol Ridge APU, which is based on AMD's crusty old construction-core microarchitecture.

Stepping up to the Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4 adds another $10 to the bottom line, for a total of $100. Forking over a whole Benjamin gets you the same stuff that's in the B350 Pro4, plus a Sound Blaster Cinema 3 audio solution, steel-reinforced PCIe slots, RGB LED illumination for the chipset, and a header for adding RGB LED light strips. Of course, the Pro4's neutral color pallete is tossed aside in favor of a black-and-red aesthetic.

Buyers will need to fork over at least $140 to gain access to AMD's higher-end X370 chipset. ASRock's X370 Killer SLI/ac motherboard has the same type of M.2 slots as the lesser offerings, but the number of USB 3.0 ports balloons from eight to 12. The pair of PCIe x16 slots can be put to use with graphics cards in Quad CrossFire and Quad SLI setups, but we're not sure how you'd use more than two cards.

The networking section steps up from entry-level Realtek stuff to a bona-fide Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter paired with an Intel chip offering 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. The only display output is a single HDMI connector, but even that won't work if the CPU socket sports a Ryzen processor instead of an APU.

Another $5 could buy an entry-level foot-long sandwich, or a buyer could use it to step up to ASRock's $145 Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K4 motherboard. The extra loot converts two USB ports into 10Gbps affairs, one of them with a Type-C connector. The integrated Wi-Fi-and-Bluetooth adapter is lost in the bargain, though. There's a dedicated water pump header on tap, capable of delivering up to 1.5A of current. The Gaming K4 supports Quad SLI and Quad CrossFire configurations, but again, there are only two PCIe x16 slots.

The X370 Taichi appears to be destined for more serious systems, with 10 SATA ports alongside Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, courtesy of Intel networking controllers. The standard pair of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots are augmented by a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. Again, the board boasts support for Quad SLI and Quad Crossfire. The port cluster has no display connectors, and ASRock makes no mention of support for Bristol Ridge APUs. The X370 Taichi sells for $190.

The top-of-the-line Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming has all of the bells and whistles present in the Taichi, but adds an extra Aquantia 5 Gigabit Ethernet port, offering up to 5Gbps of throughput when used with compatible equipment. The high-speed networking goodies and gaming features bring the board's price to $240.

All six boards are currently listed as out of stock on Newegg, which isn't terribly surprising given the popularity of all things Ryzen. We suspect availability will ebb-and-flow before and after Ryzen CPUs start shipping on March 2.

13 comments — Last by ronch at 10:55 PM on 02/23/17

Rumor: Samsung Galaxy S8+ specs detailed
— 3:30 PM on February 23, 2017

We've been so busy with PC hardware news lately that we haven't really looked into Samsung's Galaxy S8 handset yet. Since the release of the Galaxy Note 7 ended in catastrophe, there's been a lot of attention focused on Samsung's next move. The Guardian wrote last month about the upcoming Galaxy S8 and revealed that the device is reportedly coming in two sizes. Yesterday afternoon, infamous mobile specifications leaker Evan Blass tweeted a listing of specs for the larger version, supposedly called the Galaxy S8+.

Prior leaks pinned the phone's display at 5.7" or 6.2" sizes. Judging by recent rumors, it seems like the Galaxy S8 will be the 5.7" model, while the 6.2" screen belongs to the Galaxy S8+. In an article at VentureBeat, Blass claims that the displays have an 18.5:9 aspect ratio (close to 2:1) and shaped with Samsung's "Edge" curve as standard. He went on to state that the phones will be nearly or completely devoid of bezels, with a screen-to-body ratio of 83%.

The reported tech specs include a few highlights, like continued MicroSD card support and an iris scanner. In a later tweet, Blass claims that the Galaxy S8 will be the first device to hit the market with a 10-nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC inside. It's not completely clear whether he meant to refer to the S8, S8+, or both.

Korean IT news site ETNews claims that Samsung is skipping the Mobile World Congress event at the end of this month, something that lines up with Blass' predictions. Rumors say that the company will be showing the new phone in New York City on March 29 and launching it on April 21.

23 comments — Last by albundy at 12:47 AM on 02/24/17

AMD's early Vega graphics card takes a turn in San Francisco
— 2:25 PM on February 23, 2017

Although Ryzen CPUs were most definitely the star of the show at AMD's event in San Francisco this week, the company had another tantalizing product hidden in plain sight in its demo room. The company finally did away with the gaffer tape and solid cases and showed off a Vega graphics card in the buff. 

The card itself bears a strong family resemblance to the reference Radeon RX 480 cooler before it, but this early card has some extra length to it for the (presumably diagnostic-related) USB 3.0 plug on its snout.

One can also see a ton of components behind the GPU itself, much like the Radeon R9 Fury's board layout. 

The card uses an eight-pin-plus-six-pin PCIe power arrangement.

We've had ample opportunity to play with Vega-powered hardware before now, but we've never been able to see the card that was pushing those pixels. The fact that AMD is cooling a presumably large, HBM-equipped graphics chip with nothing more than a beefy blower cooler may bode well for Vega's performance per watt. We'll just have to wait and see.

26 comments — Last by ronch at 10:27 PM on 02/23/17

Samsung shows off its Exynos 9 SoC built on a 10-nm process
— 2:00 PM on February 23, 2017

Time for a moment of honesty, gerbils. Is there room in your life to discuss more than one upcoming processor? Yes? Good. Samsung just announced the latest version of its Exynos SoC, and it's primed to appear in a variety of devices in the coming year.

The Exynos 9 Series (8895) SoC is built on what Samsung claims is the world's first 10-nm FinFET process. The company says the new process node lets the Exynos 9 perform 27% faster with 40% lower power consumption than the previous 14-nm offerings. The Exynos 8895 contains an octa-core processor comprising four of Samsung's custom cores and four ARM-designed Cortex-A53 cores. The LTE modem present in the previous-generation Exynos 8890 got upgraded to an LTE-Advanced unit capable of 1Gbps downlink and 150 Mbps uplink speeds.

For graphics horsepower, Samsung turned to a variant of ARM's latest GPU design, the Mali-G71 MP20. Samsung claims that it gets 60% higher performance from this GPU than its predecessor, and that it operates at a lower temperature, too. Naturally, Samsung claims this GPU is a natural fit for use with virtual reality devices.

The Exynos 8895 offers several other intriguing features. The SoC includes a separate security sub-system with its own processing unit and flash memory protector. Samsung added a "vision processing" unit to the SoC, purportedly allowing Exynos 8895-powered devices to detect, track, and recognize objects. Finally, the SoC's image handling supports front and rear-facing 28MP cameras. The Exynos 8895 is currently in mass production, so we expect to soon hear about devices powered by it.

14 comments — Last by adisor19 at 9:30 PM on 02/23/17

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day Shortbread
— 12:30 PM on February 23, 2017

PC hardware and computing

  1. Intel details Optane memory system requirements @ PC Perspective
  2. The Alienware 13 gets better with VR and impressive battery life @ Engadget
  3. Review: Asus ROG GR8 II SFF PC @ Hexus
  4. MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Armor OC 6 GB @ TechPowerUp
  5. Lian Li PC-O11 WX Oversized ATX case review @ Tom's Hardware

Games and VR

  1. Stellaris' New Horizons mod is the best Star Trek game @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  2. Even when under pressure the Nintendo Switch isn't too hot to handle @ Nintendo Life
  3. Oculus Rift in space will be used for hand-eye coordination experiment @ Upload VR
  4. Ooblets, described as Harvest Moon meets Pokémon, is coming to Xbox One and PC @ Windows Central (a dangerous combination)

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. NASA's longshot bet on a revolutionary rocket may be about to pay off @ Ars Technica
  2. Safety last: Russian hoverbike is equally amazing and horrifying @ New Atlas
  3. Nearby system has 7 Earth-sized planets, several in the habitable zone @ Ars Technica
  4. Flight of the Blackbird: The how, what and why of the incredible SR-71 @ New Atlas (I've got to find my way to a museum with one of these someday)

Tech news and culture

  1. Disney develops room with 'ubiquitous wireless' charging @ Slashdot
  2. Apple's new spaceship campus gets a name, lifts off in April @ Ars Technica
  3. UPS develops 'rolling warehouse' system in which drones are launched from atop trucks @ Slashdot

Cheese, memes, and RGB LEDs

  1. Is soft jazz the secret to great goat cheese? @ foodandwine.com
  2. G.Skill TridentZ RGB DDR4 memory review @ Guru3D
  3. Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB 750W PSU review @ Tom's Hardware
  4. Cats are full of mind-controlling parasites but owning one probably doesn't cause mental illness @ The Verge (that's exactly what mind-controlled scientists would say)

17 comments — Last by ronch at 12:51 AM on 02/24/17

Cooler Master launches Ryzen-ready liquid-cooling AIOs
— 11:00 AM on February 23, 2017

The launch of a new CPU socket often arrives with a cavalcade of cooling solutions. For its part, Cooler Master is bringing a pair of all-in-one liquid CPU coolers to the Ryzen pony show. The updated versions of the informatively-named MasterLiquid 120 and MasterLiquid 240 boast easy installation, compatibility with nearly any modern socket, a low-profile dual-chamber pump design, and attractive sleeved coolant lines.

Both units use the same dual-chamber pump and waterblock assembly with a low-profile design that shaves about a quarter of an inch (7 mm) of height compared to the previous model. Cooler Master says the pump's aural output is particularly quiet. Both the pump and the water block are packaged in a black fiberglass-reinforced plastic housing with a Cooler Master logo backlit by a white LED. The pump assembly is attached to the radiator with a pair of FEP "teflon-type" hoses with black sleeving.

The difference between CM's two new kits comes down to the radiators and fan configuration. The MasterLiquid 120 has a 120mm radiator with a pair of MasterFan Air Balance spinners in a push-pull configuration. The MasterLiquid 240 doubles the radiator size, but employs the same pair of fans on one side only. Buyers can strap another pair of fans to the 240 for a push-pull configuration. The radiator assembly is made of aluminum on both models.

The MasterLiquid coolers come with a large assortment of widgets for installing the pump on pretty much any desktop CPU from the last decade. Gerbils still clinging to Core 2 Quad Q6600s and those who have armed themselves with the biggest and baddest Core i7-6900X CPUs can both use the MasterLiquid AIOs, as can users of Intel's mainstream LGA 115x CPUs or any non-AM1 AMD processor from the last ten years including, of course, the upcoming Ryzen CPUs.

Cooler Master's MasterLiquid 120 and MasterLiquid 240 are expected to launch by the end of the month at particularly-aggressive prices. According to TechPowerUp, the MasterLiquid 120 will ring in at 70€ (around $74) and the MasterLiquid 240 will command 80€ (about $85). Newegg is offering a $20 mail-in rebate on the existing versions of the MasterLiquid Pro 120 and MasterLiquid 240, bringing them down to $60 and $75 after the rebate.

5 comments — Last by End User at 6:56 PM on 02/23/17

Ryzen CPUs enjoy strong pre-launch demand
— 9:07 AM on February 23, 2017

If you're in the market for a CPU upgrade, AMD's Ryzen processors could be just the thing. We say "could be" because Jeff hasn't poked his head out of the lab yet to give us the go-ahead. It seems that some folks aren't keen on waiting for independent reviews, though, because as of this writing the three currently-available-for-pre-order Ryzen CPUs have all found spots in the top six best-selling computer components on Amazon.

Another two of those top six products are Ryzen-compatible AM4 motherboards. That's a surprisingly-healthy showing of interest for processors that haven't even hit retail yet. For its part, Newegg has already run out of pre-order stock for the top-end Ryzen 7 1800X part.

Buyers seem to be trusting that the new CPUs will perform well, offer good value, or a combination of both. Or maybe AMD fans just want to stick it to Intel. Still, it's hard to fault people for their excitement given recent history and the performance claims made by AMD. If the company's numbers are even close to accurate, the chips should be capable competitors against Intel's line-up. If in fact you actually can buy a fully-built PC (with memory, storage, a Radeon RX 480 graphics card, and RGB LED lighting) for the same price as an Intel processor with roughly similar performance, the choice isn't difficult. As for me, I'll be waiting on Jeff.

39 comments — Last by albundy at 12:56 AM on 02/24/17

In the lab: EVGA's GeForce GTX 1070 SC2 graphics card
— 8:35 AM on February 23, 2017

EVGA recently introduced its iCX cooler technology aboard a raft of GeForces. iCX graphics cards have a whopping nine temperature sensors scattered across their PCBs, RGB LED status indicators for at-a-glance health checks, and asynchronous fans that can rotate at different speeds depending on the temperatures of the components underneath each one. As a cooling nerd, I've been itching to try this tech out. EVGA has obliged me with this handsome GeForce GTX 1070 SC2 card. Behold:

The GTX 1070 SC2 offers 1594 MHz base and 1784 MHz boost clocks out of the box, white LED lighting, and more. Stay tuned for our full review as we test and dissect EVGA's new cooler tech. If you'd like to try iCX out for yourself, the GTX 1070 SC2 is already on sale at Newegg for $449.99.

9 comments — Last by chuckula at 7:05 PM on 02/23/17

Adesso and Azio keyboards look strikingly familiar
— 4:47 PM on February 22, 2017

Back in December, we said the RGB LED mechanical keyboard market was getting crowded. Hardware maker Nanoxia offered something refreshing with its Ncore Retro keyboard. Now, Adesso and Azio are looking to get into the faux-retro game, offering up the Adesso AKB-636UB and the Azio MK Retro.


Adesso AKB-636UB

Both keyboards appear to be slight variations on the same board offered by Nanoxia, albeit at slightly reduced pricing. The keyboards offer the same mirror-finish surface, oversized pillar-syle feet, and even the same secondary functions with an Fn-key toggle. The actual differences are minor. Where Nanoxia's offering has Kailh white switches beneath the keys, the Adesso and Azio boards use Kailh blue switches. The font has been changed from the aggressive-looking Bank Gothic to smoother-looking letters, too.


Azio MK Retro

So, the same way that the RGB LED keyboard market is crowding, so is the retro typerwriter keyboard market. However, it seems that most of the options are literaly the same keyboard, with minor variations on the switch type. It's worth noting that Azio's board can be ordered in a dashing white-and-gold finish.

While the Nanoxia went for $118 at launch, it's since bounced to $149 over on Amazon. Azio's offering can be found at the 'egg for a more palatable $100. Adesso's is currently only available through its own shop and currently goes for $129.

11 comments — Last by green at 1:28 PM on 02/23/17

Alphacool Eislicht makes for a moody PC interior
— 3:00 PM on February 22, 2017

LED light strips are pretty awesome. As an older tweaker who used to run a cold-cathode light in his case back in the day, I think the fact that light strips use almost no power and produce virtually no heat is awesome. However, I also think that the uneven illumination they provide isn't quite as pleasing as the smooth, even glow from a fluorescent light. Alphacool has a solution for my conundrum in the form of its new Eislicht LED panels.

The company says it uses "a proven technique based on the backlighting for monitors and TVs" to create an LED-based light panel to light up the inside of PC cases. Since the panels are based on LEDs, they likely won't output a lot of heat like a CCFL would. Power draw is probably low, too—the Eislicht hooks up to a standard fan header for its juice. You can mount the Eislicht using screw-in magnets or an adhesive strip, both included in the package.

Unfortunately for the RGB LED enthusiasts among us, the Eislicht only comes in single-color form for now. You get your choice of red, green, blue, or white lighting. It doesn't look like the Eislicht has hit US shores yet, but our friends in Europe can pick them up for €25 a pop at Alphacool's web shop.

7 comments — Last by psuedonymous at 12:22 PM on 02/23/17

Thermaltake Versa C22 RGB case is the envy of KITT
— 1:30 PM on February 22, 2017

Thermaltake is at it again with the Versa C22 RGB, a windowed ATX PC enclosure with integrated RGB LED lighting and room for multiple water-cooling radiators.  When we think about RGB LEDs, we envision millions of available colors, or at least 256. However, the illumination options presented by the C22 RGB case really push the limit of the "RGB" moniker, seeing as there are only seven colors on tap. With that little rant out of the way, let's check out the rest of the chassis.

The case measures 21.2" x 7.8" x 19.3" (54 cm x 20 cm x 49 cm) and weighs in at 12.6 lbs (5.7 kg) before the owner stuffs it full of computer parts. Thermaltake doesn't say what the transparent window's material is, so the clear stuff is most likely acrylic and not the oh-so-trendy tempered glass. The power supply and its associated cabling can be obscured from view by a removable shroud. The top panel bears power, reset, and lighting control buttons, along with audio jacks and a pair each of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.  The non-windowed right panel is stamped with a bulge to provide extra room for cable management.

Thermaltake says CPU air coolers as tall as 6.3" (16 cm), graphics cards up to 15.3" (39 cm), and power supplies up to 7.1" (18 cm) will fit in the Versa C22 RGB. The modular drive caddies can hold two 2.5" drives and two and 3.5" HDDs. Buyers clinging to optical media will need to buy an external drive, because the C22 has no external-facing bays.

The Versa C22 RGB can swallow up to three liquid-cooling radiators. The front and top panels can accept 240-mm radiators, and a 120-mm unit can slip into the rear panel as long as it is less than 30mm thick. Those satisfied with conventional air cooling can place fans anywhere a radiator will fit, though support for 140-mm fans is limited to a single unit in the case's front panel.

The Thermaltake Versa C22 RGB is available now for $70 from Newegg in conventional black or stormtrooper white color schemes.

10 comments — Last by Anovoca at 6:45 AM on 02/23/17

Ryzen CPUs and AM4 mobos are ready for pre-order
— 12:00 PM on February 22, 2017

Greetings, gerbils. The magnitude of Ryzen's hype train Shinkansen means that we don't have to explain too much about what's going on. It's quite simple: Ryzen stuff is up for preorder. For those willing to dare, here are the CPUs and mobos you can reserve right away.

Buffalos

  • AMD Ryzen 7 1800X—8 cores, 16 threads, 3.6GHz base and 4.0GHz turbo clocks: $499.99 (no stock cooler)
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700X—8 cores, 16 threads, 3.4GHz base and 3.8GHz turbo clocks: $399.99 (no stock cooler)
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700—8 cores, 16 threads, 3.0GHz base and 3.7GHz turbo clocks: $329.99

Asus motherboards

Gigabyte motherboards

MSI motherboards

ASRock motherboards

That's it, folks! Happy hunting!

74 comments — Last by albundy at 1:02 AM on 02/24/17

Wednesday Shortbread
— 11:17 AM on February 22, 2017

The Fantastic Four

  1. HotHardware: AMD demos Ryzen 7 benchmarks beating Intel
  2. Ocaholic's comparison list update: all AMD Ryzen models
  3. Legit Reviews: AMD Ryzen pre-orders start today—8-cores for $329
  4. Gamasutra: Valve debuts developer build of SteamVR for Linux

Read more...

2 comments — Last by anotherengineer at 6:53 AM on 02/23/17

Nvidia all but confirms the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
— 10:32 AM on February 22, 2017

A pretty big change to GeForce.com today practically confirms that an offical announcement of the hotly-anticipated GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is coming in less than a week. A countdown clock with a curious emphasis on TIME welcomes visitors, and a quick dig through the page's source code reveals the background image file names that tip off the entire game:

  • gdc-2017/GTX1080Ti_Countdown__Hero_1920x1080_h264_2mbps.mp4
  • gdc-2017/GTX1080Ti_Countdown_WebM_2kbps_variable_vp8.webm

The green team already made it look like such an announcement was coming soon when it announced that something attendees "won't want to miss" would be shown at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, scheduled to begin on February 28 in San Francisco.

We don't know much else about the upcoming announcement, but Jen-Hsun Huang will probably wear a leather motorcycle jacket, and performance-hungry gamers will be eager to get their hands on the "#UltimateGeForce." Thanks to frequent TR tipster SH SOTN for the heads-up.

44 comments — Last by floodo1 at 3:33 PM on 02/23/17

Report: VR headset market is dominated by Google Cardboard
— 10:00 AM on February 22, 2017

After a bunch of false starts, 2016 was finally the "Year of VR." The first offerings arrived a while before that, in the form of the Google Cardboard "headset" and Samsung's Gear VR. Last year, though, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Sony PlayStation VR all made it to market. Analyst firm Strategy Analytics looked at the VR market at the end of 2016 to see which company made the most money, and which offering ended up in front of the most eyes.

In terms of market penetration, Google Cardboard isn't just the winner—it's roaring atop the corpses of its challengers. Strategy Analystics says its data "shows that Google has a commanding lead in terms of shipments and installed base for its ultra-low cost Cardboard VR platform." While Google Cardboard's stranglehold market share amounted to a very nice 69%, Samsung Gear VR came in a distant second with a 17% market share. The three high-end VR solutions (Rift, Vive, and PlayStation VR) collectively total just under 5% of the market share, even less than the 9% in the "other" category.

On the revenue side, it's all about Samsung. Strategy Analytics says the Korean company captured 35% of the money. Sony's PlayStation VR came in second, taking in at least 15% revenue. Combined, those two companies took half of the VR-related revenue in 2016.

Strategy Analytics says that Google's high market penetration means that marketers and brands are already looking at VR as a promotional tool. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and Google Cardboard is just $15 from the Google store and quickly closing in on a price that would allow ambitious marketers to give it away. The analyst firm also sees 2017 as being a year in which the companies offering VR platforms will either "cement their position or fall by the wayside."

Six competing headsets makes for a highly-fragmented market, and while some games and applications (like those being developed by Ubisoft) are multi-platform titles, many are still tied to a specific platform. Some early adopters will surely be disappointed, but we'll see who's still standing by the end of this year.

7 comments — Last by willmore at 7:46 AM on 02/23/17

Intel XMM 7560 modem is ready for 5G anywhere in the world
— 9:00 AM on February 22, 2017

5G might not be just around the corner, but it's definitely starting to loom over the horizon. Last October, Qualcomm announced its first 5G modem, and now it's Intel's turn. Ahead of next week's Mobile World Congress, Intel has announced the 5G XMM 7560 modem along with a number of industry partnerships designed to accelerate the development of 5G technologies.

Intel claims that its XMM 7560 modem delivers gigabit speeds in a single unit that will work in markets around the world, thanks to its six-mode operation and a transceiver that supports up to 35 LTE bands. It's the first modem produced on Intel's 14-nm process, and it supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave bands. The modem supports downlink speeds exceeding 1 Gbps, and uplink speeds up to 225 Mbps. There's 4x4 MIMO support on tap, along with carrier downlink and uplink aggregation. The XMM 7560 will begin sampling in the first half of 2017, with production set to follow soon afterward.

It will take more than a modem to kickstart 5G deployments, however. Intel is participating in a number of initiatives to create an ecosystem for the emerging technology. Throughout 2016, Intel had been participating in 5G trials with a variety of service providers. The company partnered with Honeywell, General Electric, and the University of California Berkeley in 5GI² (5G Innovators Initiative), an open industry effort focused on exploring and testing 5G network connectivity. The first efforts of the iniative are focused on the Industrial Internet of Things. Intel has also been participating in 5G trials with companies like Ericsson and Nokia to help ensure interoperability.

7 comments — Last by adisor19 at 2:01 PM on 02/22/17

AMD's eight-core, 16-thread chips lead the Ryzen charge
— 8:00 AM on February 22, 2017

AMD's first Ryzen CPUs are finally here. This morning, the company is putting its highest-end chips up for pre-order. The Ryzen 7 1800X, the Ryzen 7 1700X, and the Ryzen 7 1700 will mark AMD's return to the high-performance desktop CPU market, and the company's final internal numbers ahead of launch suggest they'll mark a return to competitiveness, as well.

We're flying home with Ryzen review samples as of this writing. Independent review results are still under NDA, but these are the three CPUs that will mark AMD's return to competitiveness in the marketplace:

Model Cores Threads Base clock Boost clock XFR TDP Price
Ryzen 7 1800X 8 16 3.6 GHz 4.0 GHz Yes 95W $499
Ryzen 7 1700X 3.4 GHz 3.8 GHz Yes 95W $399
Ryzen 7 1700 3.0 GHz 3.7 GHz No 65W $329

One of the most oft-repeated numbers from the lead-up to Ryzen has been AMD's goal of a "40% IPC increase" relative to its older processor generations. CEO Lisa Su claimes the company has not only met, but exceeded that goal with a 52% improvement.

With that greater-than-expected IPC gain, Su says the Ryzen 7 1700X is 4% faster than Intel's $1050 Core i7-6900K, a Broadwell-E chip with eight cores and 16 threads of its own. Su also touted the 1700X's 39% Cinebench all-thread advantage over the similarly priced six-core, 12-thread Core i7-6800K.

The Ryzen 7 1800X ups the ante over the i7-6900K with a 9% Cinebench all-threads performance advantage. Su says this chip is now the fastest eight-core, 16-thread CPU on the market.

Cinebench is just one benchmark, of course, and an especially favorable one for demonstrating a processor's multithreaded performance. I'm eager to produce a more complete picture of Ryzen performance from my own test benches with a full range of single-core tests.

Folks who are already impressed with Ryzen can make like a buffalo and stampede over to their favorite online retailer to place a pre-order today. The more cautious can hold off for benchmark info in tandem with these chips' hard launch on March 2.

364 comments — Last by Airmantharp at 12:55 AM on 02/24/17

Kopin microdisplays could make VR headsets sharper and slimmer
— 4:00 PM on February 21, 2017

Even the best available virtual reality headsets could be a lot better. Higher resolutions, higher refresh rates, reduced weight, and lower power consumption would all make VR experiences more immersive and convenient. Massachusetts-based wearable electronics manufacturer Kopin says its Lightning OLED microdisplays could make all of that happen. The company showed off a 2048x2048 1"-diagonal display at the Consumer Electronics Show with 2940 PPI that can operate at refresh rates up to 120Hz with 10-microsecond latency. Kopin says future-generation OLED microdisplays could sport 3000x3000 or higher resolutions, and could fit into VR head-mounted displays with form factors closer to eyeglasses than to existing headsets.

Seth Colaner from Tom's Hardware had a chance to meet with representatives from Kopin, and described what he learned in this recent article. Kopin's Lightning display uses an OLED array on silicon rather than glass. According to Colaner, Kopin is integrating the Lightning display into prototypes with Fresnel lenses and stacked optics.

Lower power consumption in a VR headset could lead to reduced cabling and bulk, both prized conveniences in the VR space. Kopin says its technology would be ideal for mobile VR where every watt comes from a battery. The company says the Lightning microdisplays could be adapted for use in augmented reality platforms, too.

Kopin's Lightning microdisplays are still firmly in the prototype stage. Dr. Hong Choi, the CTO of  Kopin, told Tom's Hardware that the price of the company's microdisplays "may be competitive or somewhat higher than the direct-view OLED on glass panels used in VR headsets such as Oculus or HTC Vive."

8 comments — Last by not@home at 11:12 PM on 02/22/17

Rumor: Ryzen stock coolers and retail packaging pictured
— 2:30 PM on February 21, 2017

Are you ready for even more Ryzen rumors, gerbils? This time around, we've got an inkling of the cooling hardware that'll purportedly be shipping with some Ryzen CPUs, along with pictures of the retail packaging AMD may be using.


Image source: Informática Cero

According to Spanish-language tech site Informática Cero, the high-end Ryzen R7 1800X and 1700X processors (rumored to bear a 95W TDP rating) will come wtih a large cooling solution called the "Wraith Max" that is supposedly capable of cooling off chips rated for up to 140W TDP. The site goes on to say that the non-X chips will include a "Wraith Spire" cooler that is rated for CPUs with up to 95W TDP. The site also says that the higher-end Ryzen models will be optionally available without a boxed heatsink, in a similar fashion to Intel's unlocked high-end CPUs.

Almost two weeks ago, Radeon Technologies Group head honcho Raja Koduri tweeted a picture of himself staring lovingly at a Ryzen-branded PC with a circular heatsink lit in bright purple. Some sites have taken this to imply that the new Wraith coolers will offer RGB LED lighting, though that's a tricky call to make based on a single picture. Other past rumors implied that there will be a third model of revised Wraith cooler specifically for the lower-end Ryzen processors.


Image source: Videocardz

Meanwhile, Videocardz has some pictures of the Ryzen processors' retail packages. The images appear to be 3D renders, but they match up with the images from Informática Cero and look believable enough. Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer to get the real thing in our hot little hands. 

52 comments — Last by jihadjoe at 11:49 AM on 02/22/17

International Mother Language Day Shortbread
— 1:00 PM on February 21, 2017

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21 comments — Last by willmore at 8:02 AM on 02/23/17