TR BBQ Day Shortbread
— 8:37 AM on July 23, 2016

The Pick 6

  1. DigiTimes: MSI becomes the largest gaming
    notebook vendor worldwide, says paper
  2. AnandTech: Samsung's SSD 850 EVO 4TB
    now available from major retailers
  3. WCCFtech: AMD may ship limited volume of Zen FX
    processors in late Q4 2016, full volume availability in
    Q1 2017
  4. 9to5Mac: Deutsche Bank claims iPhone 7 will ship with
    Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle, not Lightning EarPods
  5. Ars Technica: Cyanogen, Inc. reportedly fires
    OS development arm, switches to apps
  6. Neowin: Here's what's fixed and
    improved in Windows 10 build 14393.3


8 comments — Last by Meadows at 12:34 PM on 07/23/16

Watch the "second-10th" TR BBQ live in 360 degrees right now
— 6:36 AM on July 23, 2016

This year's TR BBQ is up and running. We'll be streaming it all day from our Theta S 360 degree camera so you can hang out with us by proxy. Keep a browser tab open to the stream and join in the chat throughout the day if you can. It should be a good time.

Based on your feedback, we'll do our best to follow the approximate schedule of events shown below.

6:00 AM - 11:00 AM - AM Cookery/Behind the Scenes
11:00 AM - 2:00 PM - Arrival & Setup
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM - Lunch/Feasting
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM - Cornhole Tournament & Trophy Presentation
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Giveaways[?] & Hardware Swap Station
6:00 PM - 6:30 PM - Alex's Giant Bubbles
6:30 PM - 7:00 PM - Ned's Potato Gun
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM - Laura's Cotton Candy
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM - Homebrew Round Table & General Conversation
10:00 PM - 11:00 PM - Fireworks/Light Show
11:00 PM - ??:?? AM - Beachside Bonfire (or something less hot)


7 comments — Last by tipoo at 11:39 AM on 07/23/16

G.Skill hooks up the TR BBQ with some giveaway goodies
— 4:26 PM on July 22, 2016

The "second-10th" TR BBQ kicks off tomorrow, and the folks at G.Skill have sent us some hardware to give away to some lucky attendees. G.Skill's contribution is a last-minute one, so the only hardware we have on hand to photograph is the Trident Z 32GB DDR4-3200 CL16 memory kit shown relaxing in a hammock below. This kit spreads its capacity across four 8GB sticks with a spiffy black-and-white paint job.

Somewhere en route are also a collection of G.Skill peripherals. The Ripjaws KM780 RGB is a mechanical gaming keyboard with Cherry MX brown switches and per-key programmable lighting. It also boasts on-the-fly macro recording and a mouse cable holder among its long list of features.

The Ripjaws MX780 RGB mouse is a logical companion for the keyboard. The MX780 is ambidextrous and has an 8,200-DPI Avago laser sensor. Its LEDs are programmable using G.Skill's unified driver system. It also allows for plenty of physical customization thanks to built-in height adjustment and interchangeable side grips.

Last but not least is the Ripjaws SR910 - Real 7.1 headset. Not content to emulate surround sound, G.Skill packed the SR910 with five neodymium drivers for each ear. The headset also has a noise-canceling mic and a nifty per-channel in-line volume controller.

If you're coming to the BBQ, we'll see you tomorrow! If you're not able to make it, you can check out the live stream right here. We start streaming early in the morning and go late into the night, so you can watch everything from the secret rib production process to the grand finale of the fireworks show live. This year, as long as it's dark enough to see, we'll have the live stream chat projected onto a 120" screen in the yard, so come hang out with us if you can.

10 comments — Last by chuckula at 3:41 PM on 07/23/16

Deals of the week: cheap solid-state storage and more
— 9:29 AM on July 22, 2016

Happy Friday, gerbils. We're getting geared up for the TR BBQ this weekend, but we'd be neglecting our duties if we didn't scour the interwebs for all the best PC hardware deals out there. Here's what we found this week.

  • Mushkin's Eco3 480GB SSD is $96.99 at Newegg with promo code ESCELGG74. That price makes the Eco3 just 20 cents per gig. This is a TLC SSD with a Silicon Motion SM2256 controller, so its internals definitely match the price tag. It looks perfect for a system drive or modest storage drive, though.
  • If 480GB isn't enough, Newegg also has Adata's Premier SP550 960GB SSD for $204.99. This drive rings in at 21 cents per gig, a fine price for a large chunk of bulk storage.
  • Finally, if your SSD needs to be both large and fast, Newegg has Mushkin's Reactor 1TB SSD marked down to $229.99 with promo code ESCELGF33. This isn't the lowest price we've ever seen this drive hit, but it's a $20 markdown from its recent stable price.
  • Got a FreeSync monitor you're looking to run as fast as possible? Newegg has XFX's take on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X on sale for $399.99. Even if it's slightly beaten out by Nvidia's similarly-priced GeForce GTX 1070 in today's games, the Fury X is still the fastest Radeon around, and it sometimes exhibits surprising performance boosts with next-generation graphics APIs.
  • If you've been thinking about moving to an iPad full-time, Best Buy has some compelling deals on the 9.7" iPad Pro, Apple's most advanced slate right now. Excuse the repetition to come, but the 32GB model is $474.99 in space gray, silver, gold, and rose gold. The 128GB model is $624.99 in space gray, silver, gold, and rose gold. Finally, the 256GB model is $774.99 in space gray.

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.

That's all for this week, folks. If we missed a great deal somewhere, be sure to share it with other TR readers in the comments.

17 comments — Last by Wirko at 4:41 AM on 07/23/16

Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 hot-rods Polaris 10
— 8:47 AM on July 22, 2016

Sapphire officially took the wraps off its long-awaited take on the Radeon RX 480 this morning. The Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 puts a beefy twin-fan cooler on Polaris 10, and Saphhire uses the extra cooling capacity to dial in a boost clock of 1342 MHz (compared to 1266 MHz on the reference RX 480). The card uses an eight-pin power input, and Sapphire wraps its custom PCB with a sturdy-looking backplate, too.

Like any respectable gaming product nowadays, the Nitro+ RX 480 has RGB LED accents on its cooler. Those LEDs can be tweaked in Sapphire's Trixx overclocking utility or with a dedicated button on the back of the card. The built-in profiles can cycle through the colors of the rainbow or respond to temperature or fan speeds.

To make the Nitro+ more VR-friendly, Sapphire replaced one of the RX 480's DisplayPorts with an extra HDMI port. The company didn't offer pricing or availability info, but PC World got its hands on a review unit. The site says the 4GB Nitro+ card will list for $220 sometime next week, while the 8GB card will go for $269.

59 comments — Last by bjm at 3:59 PM on 07/23/16

AMD gets back in the black with its second-quarter financials
— 8:17 AM on July 22, 2016

AMD released its second-quarter financial results yesterday evening. The company posted an operating loss of $8 million on revenue of $1.02 billion. That revenue figure is up 9% year-over-year. Thanks to income from its recently-completed joint venture with Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics, however, AMD realized a net income of $69 million. The company says its increased revenue is thanks primarily to increased semi-custom SoC sales. Gross margin fell one point to 31%.

  Q2 2016 Q2 2015 Change from Q2 2015
Revenue $1.02 billion $942 million up 9%
Operating income -$8 million -$137 million --
Net income $69 million -$181 million --

AMD's Computing and Graphics division took in $435 million, a 15% year-over-year increase. The company says that number got a boost from higher notebook processor and GPU sales. The division narrowed its operating loss year-on-year to $81 million, compared to $147 million a year ago. The Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom division raked in $592 million, up 5% year-over-year, thanks to stronger sales. The division made operating income of $84 million, more than doubling the $27 million figure of a year ago.

For the third quarter, AMD projects that revenue will increase 15%, plus or minus 3%.

40 comments — Last by sweatshopking at 10:22 AM on 07/23/16

Nvidia unveils a Pascal-powered Titan X with 11 TFLOPS on tap
— 10:11 PM on July 21, 2016

Nvidia unveiled the Pascal-powered version of its Titan X uber-card this evening. The new card features 3584 stream processors running at 1417MHz base and 1531MHz boost speeds. The company promises 11 TFLOPs of single-precision performance from a board power of 250W.

While details of the silicon itself are light right now, this new Titan X is without a doubt our first look at a "bigger Pascal" chip, which the press has dubbed GP102 in the absence of more info. That GPU has a 384-bit path to 12GB of GDDR5X memory running at 10 GT/s. Nvidia says it built this chip with 12 billion transistors on the same 16-nm FinFET process it's using to fabricate its other consumer Pascal cards. The new Titan X will be available August 2 for $1200 from Nvidia's online store.

173 comments — Last by chuckula at 12:43 PM on 07/23/16

Nvidia harnesses eye-tracking to improve VR rendering efficiency
— 4:41 PM on July 21, 2016

Talk to any forward-looking engineer at AMD or Nvidia about VR, and they'll tell you that producing life-like scenes is going to require new approaches than the brute-force methods that we employ today with traditional monitors. One of those approaches is foveated rendering, which improves efficiency by taking advantage of the fact that we see fine detail in only a narrow range of our field of vision. Nvidia has already toyed with a similar idea with its "Multi-res Shading" approach, which renders different portions of the VR frame at different resolutions to improve efficiency.

The most advanced methods of foveated rendering require a VR headset with eye-tracking built in. As it happens, German company SMI has built just such a headset. In turn, Nvidia established a partnership to use that hardware in developing a new method of foveated rendering that purports to deliver a major increase in efficiency.

Nvidia says it first discovered that aggressive resolution reductions (or foveation) in the periphery of images tends to produce noticeable artifacting, like what might happen with Multi-res Shading. Blurring the edges of images instead can apparently result in a "tunnel vision" effect, thanks to the reduction in contrast it causes. By adding a contrast-preservation step to the blur approach, Nvidia found that users can tolerate a blur that's as much as twice as strong as would be the case without the heightened contrast. 

Nvidia and SMI will be showing off their work in the Emerging Tech section of the SIGGRAPH conference, which opens on July 24.

18 comments — Last by ET3D at 4:37 PM on 07/22/16

Thursday Shortbread
— 4:26 PM on July 21, 2016

Eight is Enough

  1. WCCFtech: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 mobile CUDA core
    count revealed, along with other very important details
  2. techPowerUp!: Asus intros the GeForce GTX 1070 Dual graphics card
  3. VR-Zone on The Z: the most powerful gaming mouse ever imagined
  4. VR-Zone: The new Qualcomm Snapdragon
    821 is 10% faster than the Snapdragon 820
  5. Engadget: Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe gets first dibs on Snapdragon 821 chip
  6. SlashGear: Huawei Honor Note 8 could sport a 6.6-inch QHD screen
  7. OC3D: FRAPS 3.6.0 is in development
  8. IGN: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has seen the "really great" Nintendo NX


21 comments — Last by Ninjitsu at 5:22 AM on 07/23/16

PowerColor chills the underworld with a triple-fan Devil RX 480
— 12:23 PM on July 21, 2016

PowerColor introduced its take on the Polaris-packing RX 480 today with a press release heralding the Red Devil RX 480. PowerColor's take on the new AMD GPU is wreathed in a massive triple-fan cooler reinforced by an extensive backplate system. PowerColor says this design forms a "thermal module" that balances the weight of the card in a system, and it also purports to protect the card if a builder drops it for some reason. Perhaps you can run with this Devil after all.

The "Devil" branding has been around a while as PowerColor's high-end gaming brand, but this is the first time we've seen it on a mid-range graphics card. Historically, the most notable graphics cards bearing the Devil branding have been triple-slot, dual-processor affairs with thermal design power ratings of 300W. This card fits in a saner two slots. It uses a single 8-pin power connector to feed its Polaris 10 GPU, and that chip runs at a 1330 MHz boost clock. That's a nice little step-up from the reference 1266 MHz, and we suspect the card could have more speed to give.

Like some older Radeon 200- and 300-series cards, the Red Devil RX 480 includes a BIOS switch to toggle between "ultra silent" and "overclocking" modes. That's handy for users who don't want to clutter up their machines with vendor-specific tweaking tools. The Red Devil RX 480 will be available July 29 for a suggested price of $269.

31 comments — Last by Ninjitsu at 1:31 PM on 07/23/16

Super Talent Nova PCIe SSDs expand the U.2-niverse
— 9:25 AM on July 21, 2016

Californian memory company Super Talent is throwing its ante into the NVMe pot with the new Nova SSD family. These 2.5" MLC drives are 9.5mm thick and come in capacities up to 2TB. They connect to hosts using a U.2 connector, and they provide transfer rates up to 3,000 MB/s on sequential reads and 2,200 MB/s on sequential writes. Unfortunately, Super Talent doesn't present random access performance data, so we can't compare it to the other U.2 disk we've tested.

U.2 connectors aren't common outside of the most recent X99 motherboards yet, but we expect that to change in the future. A U.2 port occupies a lot less space on a motherboard than an M.2 socket, yet it provides the same performance benefits. U.2 SSDs generally come in the same 2.5" form factor as SATA SSDs too, which means they're easier to adopt in existing chassis and enclosures. Super Talent says the PCIe Nova drives are available now, but it looks like listings haven't popped up at e-tail yet.

19 comments — Last by Airmantharp at 1:29 AM on 07/22/16

Intel begins shipping Kaby Lake CPUs to manufacturers
— 9:01 AM on July 21, 2016

On Intel's earnings call yesterday, CEO Brian Krzanich confirmed that the company is shipping its seventh-generation Core processors, code-named Kaby Lake. Kaby Lake CPUs will be the first product of Intel's new "process-architecture-optimization" product-development model, where at least three major families of chips will be produced on a process node.

Though "shipping" is a rather exciting word, Intel clarified that it's moving chips out to its "customers and OEMs," not retail channels. The company also says Kaby Lake chips are poised to deliver "meaningful" performance increases compared to Skylake CPUs.

Krzanich also noted that Intel is on track to ship Optane SSDs this year. In a response to an investor question, the CEO said those SSDs will begin shipping at the end of this year, while Optane DIMMs will follow in 2017. Optane products will use Intel's 3D Xpoint memory technology, and they could deliver huge speed-ups in storage performance compared to today's NAND flash.

75 comments — Last by Ninjitsu at 5:04 AM on 07/23/16

Restructuring takes its toll on Intel's second-quarter financials
— 10:28 PM on July 20, 2016

Intel released its second-quarter financial results this evening. Compared to this time a year ago, revenue grew 3% to $13.5 billion, but operating income plunged 54% to $1.3 billion. Intel says that drop in profitability is linked to the restructuring program it announced in the first quarter of this year. The company also notes it's eliminated 6,000 of the projected 12,000 positions it expected to cut as part of its restructuring efforts. Net income fell 51% to $1.3 billion, and gross margin shed 3.6 points to fall to 58.9%.

  Q2 2016 Q2 2015 Change
Revenue $13.5 billion $13.2 billion up 3%
Operating income $1.3 billion $2.9 billion down 54%
Net income $1.3 bilion $2.7 billion down 51%
Gross margin 58.9% 62.5% down 3.6 points

Intel's Client Computing Group revenue fell 3% year-on-year to $7.3 billion. Platform volumes (a figure that accounts for both processors and chipsets) fell 15%, but average selling prices (or ASPs) grew 13%. Desktop platform volumes shrank by 7%, and desktop ASPs increased by 1%. Notebook platform volume fell 5%, but ASPs grew by 2%. Tablet platform volumes fell 44%, continuing a recent trend of double-digit declines.

The Data Center Group took in $4 billion, up 5% year-on-year. Platform volumes increased 5%, but platform ASPs fell 1%. The company says its networking and storage businesses are to thank for that growth. The Internet of Things group grew its revenue by 2%, to $572 million, but the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group's revenue declined 20% to $554 million. The Programmable Solutions Group, which absorbed FPGA maker Altera, reported 12% revenue growth to $465 million.

For the next quarter, Intel expects revenue of $14.9 billion and GAAP gross margin of 60%, "plus or minus a couple of points."

67 comments — Last by kamikaziechameleon at 1:53 PM on 07/22/16

Corning's Gorilla Glass 5 is its strongest yet
— 4:02 PM on July 20, 2016

When I look around me, all I see are cracked phone screens. No matter how many gorillas crafted those phone's screens, it always seems the tiniest drop will send shards flying, tears running, and wallets whimpering. Corning hopes to make that scenario a thing of the past with its recently-announced Gorilla Glass 5.

Gorilla Glass 4 already had impressive shatter-proofing specifications. 80% of phones with the stuff survived drops from a distance of one meter onto rough surfaces. That anti-shatter characteristic has gotten a substantial upgrade in the new version. Corning says that slabs of Gorilla Glass 5 should survive drops of up to 1.6 meters (or five feet, three inches) onto "rough, unforgiving surfaces." The company claims those figures make the new version of its Glass four times as strong as competing products.

Although empirical testing by our collective Mark I eyeballs says "everybody drops their phones," Corning backs up its claim with an internal study. The company's statistics eggheads say that 85% of smartphone users have dropped their devices at least once, and a further 55% of those users have dropped them three times or more. (Butterfingers, anyone?) The 1.6-meter target for Gorilla Glass 5 isn't an arbitrary figure, either. 60% of the drops recorded in the study happened from waist to shoulder height.

Saying that Gorilla Glass is everywhere would be an understatement. Corning says its material has been used in 4.5 billion devices worldwide across all major mobile device manufacturers. Gorilla Glass 5 is "commercially available" now, and we should start seeing devices dressed in it later this year.

90 comments — Last by jihadjoe at 2:33 AM on 07/22/16

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.2 gets WHQL certification
— 1:56 PM on July 20, 2016

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.2, AMD's most recent graphics driver, gained WHQL certification today. This driver actually released on July 12 and was marked as a beta at that time, but today the release notes (if not the download page) have been updated with the new certification. This is AMD's first WHQL-certified driver since version 16.3.2 in March.

Not much has changed in this driver since version 16.7.1, although AMD moved the "compatibility mode" toggle for the RX 480 into the Global Settings menu to make it more obvious. The previous version also had a bug where Compatibility Mode would remain set even if the user chose to "Restore Factory Defaults" in the Crimson software. That bug is fixed in this release.

Aside from that, the second verse of 16.7 is pretty much the same as the first. The new driver supports all GCN-based Radeons (HD 7000 series and up) on 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and later. Check out the release notes, or pick up the new driver from AMD's download page.

25 comments — Last by Shobai at 8:46 PM on 07/21/16

Compact Acer Predator G1 desktop gets a Pascal supercharge
— 9:45 AM on July 20, 2016

Acer's Predator G1 desktop, which we first covered back when it was announced during the next@Acer presentation, is a curious PC. It's a bit larger than what we usually consider "small form factor" in the post-NUC world, but the machine is still quite compact. At its launch, it used a Mini-ITX-like motherboard and a PCIe graphics card riser to stuff in full-length graphics card options ranging up to the GeForce GTX Titan X. Unfortunately, just two weeks after the Predator was released, Nvidia announced the GeForce GTX 1080, which quickly made the rest of its range obsolete. To keep the Predator current, Acer is now offering the mini-PC with a GTX 1080 inside.

Remember LAN games? Acer does. It's targeting the Predator G1 squarely at LAN gamers, as well as professional gamers who travel for eSports purposes. The specific model of Predator G1 that's getting a Pascal promotion is called the G1-710-70001, and it's actually a limited-edition model. Ordering this machine gets you a wheeled carrying case for the PC, which should make carting it around to all those gaming events a little easier. New orders also include a copy of Tom Clancy's The Division while supplies last.

The GTX 1080-equipped Predator is $2,300. Besides the GTX 1080, your money gets you a Core i7-6700 processor, 32GB of DDR4-2133 memory, and both a 2TB 7200 RPM HDD and a 512GB SSD for storage. Killer DoubleShot Pro 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet is included as standard, plus Bluetooth 4.1. As a nice extra touch, Acer includes a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse from its Predator family of peripherals. Folks looking for an aggressive-looking yet compact gaming PC can head to Newegg to pre-order this Pascal-equipped Predator G1 for a July 30 ship date.

20 comments — Last by ronch at 11:39 PM on 07/21/16

Poll: Are you planning to upgrade to a GTX 1060 or RX 480?
— 9:06 AM on July 20, 2016

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 is available now, and it's joining a heated battle with AMD's Radeon RX 480 in the $200-$250 price range. Both of these cards appear to deliver as much as twice the performance as a GeForce GTX 960-class card did at launch for about the same amount of money. While it feels like much longer, the GeForce GTX 960 came out just about a year and a half ago, and AMD's Radeon R9 380X has been out for just about nine months. Assuming you bought one of those cards at launch, it's not been a long time to have either one in your PC, and more recent midrange builders who chose those cards may not have had them for more than a few months.

Considering that relatively short window of availability, we're curious how the GTX 1060 and RX 480 look to folks jonesing for an upgrade, and even folks looking at building new PCs. Do the GTX 1060 or RX 480 offer enough performance for you to make the jump? Is that GTX 960 or R9 380X—or even an older card—you have in your system today still doing fine? Or are these cards still too rich for your blood? AMD's more affordable Radeon RX 470 is still in the pipe, and we'd imagine that a hypothetical GeForce GTX 1050 or similar product is on its way to answer AMD's next entry-level card. Perhaps those future options are more appealing.

While both custom and reference GeForce GTX 1060s are available now, we're still waiting on custom-cooled Radeon RX 480s to hit store shelves—hence the distinction in the poll below. Whatever the case may be, let us know what you're thinking with your vote.

113 comments — Last by ronch at 2:56 PM on 07/21/16

Microsoft closes out its fiscal 2016 with strong cloud growth
— 3:45 PM on July 19, 2016

Microsoft released its financial results for its fiscal Q4 and its entire fiscal 2016 today. The company took in $20.6 billion in revenue and made $3.1 billion in operating income. While Microsoft earned 7% more revenue in the year-ago quarter, it also posted a $2 billion operating loss, so the return to profitability is welcome. Here's a quick tabulation of the company's results compared to a year ago:

  Q4 FY 2016 Q4 FY 2015 Change
Revenue $20.6 billion $22.2 billion down 7%
Operating income $3.1 billion -$2 billion --
Net income $3.1 billion -$3.2 billion --

The More Personal Computing division (responsible for Windows and Surface devices) took in $8.9 billion in revenue, down 4% from a year ago. The company reported a surprising 27% increase in Windows OEM revenue for non-Pro licenses. The company's Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book helped that business grow 9%. Phone revenue was bleak—Microsoft recorded a 71% revenue decline from that business compared to a year ago.

The company's Intelligent Cloud division took in $6.7 billion, a 7% increase from a year ago. Microsoft more than doubled its Azure cloud revenue, and it says it has more than twice as many Azure compute resources in use compared to a year ago.

Productivity and Business raked in $7 billion, 5% more than a year ago. Microsoft cites Office 365 business client growth of 54% and consumer growth of 19% as part of the reason for the change.

For its fiscal 2016, Microsoft earned $85.3 billion in revenue, down 9% from its fiscal 2015, and made $28.2 billion in operating income, up 7% from last year. The company will provide guidance on its next quarter on its earnings webcast at 5:30 PM ET.

22 comments — Last by trackerben at 12:02 AM on 07/21/16

Asus PG248Q G-Sync display pushes frames at 180Hz
— 2:30 PM on July 19, 2016

Today's high-end graphics cards can push tons of frames per second at lower resolutions, and Asus' PG248Q provides a lightning-quick sink for all those pixels. This 24" 1920x1080 display uses a TN panel to get a fast 1ms gray-to-gray response time, and it gives gamers a choice of Nvidia's G-Sync tech to eliminate tearing or Ultra Low Motion Blur to ensure crisp animation. Most impressively, this screen can run at refresh rates as high as 180 Hz.

Like Asus' earlier PG279Q G-Sync display, the PG248Q supports 144-Hz refresh rates out of the box. Gamers will need to head into its menus and "overclock" the panel in order to enable the screen's higher refresh rates. Asus says owners will need a GeForce GTX 1060 or better graphics card to take advantage of that speed, too, suggesting that DisplayPort 1.3 support is on board. This monitor offers DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, but those looking to use Nvidia's G-Sync tech will be restricted to the DisplayPort.

Some may gripe about the PG248Q's TN panel, but this display isn't really targeted at folks who need perfect color accuracy and reproduction. Instead, Asus is loud and proud about the PG248Q's gaming chops. This monitor was the official display of ESL One Cologne 2016, and it'll also be featured on stage at The International Dota 2 Championships this year. Asus says the PG248Q will be available this month, though it didn't disclose pricing info.

37 comments — Last by Pettytheft at 2:55 PM on 07/20/16

Review roundup: GTX 1060 impresses at its price point
— 1:27 PM on July 19, 2016

Greetings, fellow gerbils. Welcome to today's episode of the 2016 Graphics Card Wars. Unless you've been living under Stonehenge, you're aware that the GeForce GTX 1060 has been released today. The card's $249 suggested price ($299 for the Founder's Edition) and its purported GTX 980-matching performance are a hard missile lock on the recently-released Radeon RX 480. Our labs have yet to be graced with the GTX 1060's presence, but we've collected some data from around the web to see what other reviewers discovered about the card.

Source: Nvidia

Here's a quick rundown of the GTX 1060's characteristics. The reference GP106 chip has 1280 stream processors clocked at 1506 MHz base and 1708 MHz boost speeds. 6GB of VRAM sit around the GP106 GPU, and the entire card has an impressively low TDP of 120W. Much like the RX 480, the reference GTX 1060 board is fed by a single 6-pin PCIe power connector.

Let's kick things off with the all-important game results. According to PC Perspective and Tom's Hardware, Nvidia's claim of GTX 980-level performance is a little exaggerated, but not completely unfounded. The GTX 1060 loses out to its Maxwell predecessor in the vast majority of games, but does manage to match it in a handful of titles. More important, though, is the comparison to the RX 480. The bottom line is roughly this: the GTX 1060 is a bit faster overall in the majority of tested games, bar a couple exceptions that have historically gone in AMD's favor. It's worth noting that the GTX 1060's lead against the RX 480 is a little higher at 1920x1080 than at 2560x1440, though.

Those following the brouhaha over DX12 and async compute (or the lack thereof) and expecting some sort of conclusion will be disappointed, too. In Ashes of the Singularity, both cards are pretty much tied. Hitman does net a win for the RX 480, but ironically enough, its lead over the green team's card is actually higher in DX11 mode. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the GTX 1060 leads the RX 480 by a healthy margin. The folks over at HardOCP tested the performance of the GTX 1060 and the RX 480 with Doom's Vulkan renderer and found that the AMD card holds a substantial advantage over Nvidia's latest, however.

What's particularly impressive about the GTX 1060 is its appetite for power. The card's load power draw appears to be 30-40W lower than the RX 480's in most sites' tests. The GTX 1060 sticks almost religiously to its 120W TDP, and tests from PC Perspective and Tom's Hardware reveal that the current split between the 6-pin plug and slot is perfectly within spec, too. Noise levels are equally impressive for a reference card: testers reported that even under load, the radial fan's noise profile is smooth and unobtrusive.

At first sight, one would be inclined to say that the GTX 1060 is the better option versus the Radeon RX 480. That conclusion may be a bit premature. The first point of contention is the $299 asking price for the Founder's Edition GTX 1060. That's roughly a 25% premium over the reference 8GB RX 480, and we're not convinced the extra performance and lower noise of the GTX 1060 FE can justify that extra $60. That jump is a significant chunk of change in the mid-range graphics card market. If you're looking at a GTX 1060, we'd advise you to go straight for the cheaper third-party versions.

The second issue is that third-party card designs of either team tend to be superior in some ways to their reference counterparts. The Radeon RX 480's noise levels might benefit from custom coolers, but the earliest we'd expect to see those cards is sometime next month. On the flip side, non-reference GTX 1060s with pushed clocks are already popping up, and the GP106 GPU appears to be particularly amenable to overclocking. A number of those GTX 1060 custom cards carry $249 and $259 price tags, too—not that big a leap over the 8GB RX 480.

Going by other sites' results, the GTX 1060 appears to offer slightly better performance in today's games and significantly better power efficiency than the 8GB Radeon RX 480, all for a bit more money. The 4GB RX 480 continues to rule at the $200 price point, however, and folks who are strongly concerned about the DirectX 12 future may find that both RX 480s are more to their taste if efficiency isn't a concern. Still, it appears Nvidia has delivered a compelling option at the $250 price point, and we'd expect a heated battle in the midrange graphics market going forward.

43 comments — Last by Pancake at 6:29 PM on 07/20/16