|Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire gaming keyboard reviewed||13|
|Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card reviewed||237|
|Gigabyte's P57W gaming laptop reviewed||23|
Happy first of July, gerbils. It's Friday once more, and that means it's time to take a break from buying fireworks and take a look at some sweet tech deals.
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, Rakuten, Walmart, 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's deals, folks. We hope you have a safe and fun July 4—whether it's a holiday for you or not. If we missed a great deal somewhere, be sure to share it with other TR readers in the comments.Aero 14 notebooks pack gaming power into a slim profile
Gigabyte's Aero 14 notebooks caught my eye at Computex with their bright colors and slim profiles. We're now learning what specs those machines will ship with in the USA. The Aero 14 will be powered by the potent combo of a Core i7-6700HQ and a GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM—more or less identical to the much larger P57W we just reviewed. That's a good thing, since the P57W is quite the performer already.
The rest of the Aero 14's spec sheet is no less impressive. The 14" IPS screen has a 2560x1440 resolution that should offer plenty of crispness without overly taxing the graphics chip. The Aero 14 uses a pair of M.2 slots with PCIe x4 connectivity for storage devices, and Gigabyte ships the base model with a 512GB SATA SSD. 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM should be plenty for most users, but more demanding folks can swap out that pair of DIMMs for 32GB.
Despite its slim profile, the Aero 14 has plenty of connectivity options to go around. A USB 3.1 Type-C port and three USB 3.0 Type A ports handle general-purpose peripheral I/O, while 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 give cord-cutters the hook-up. Gigabyte says this machine's 94.2-Wh battery is good for 10 hours of general use. The Aero 14 is 0.78" (19.8 mm) thick and weighs 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg).Gigabyte shrinks the GeForce GTX 1070 for Mini-ITX
Stubby versions of full-sized GPUs meant for small-form-factor PCs have been around for a while. Gigabyte already shrank the GTX 670 and GTX 970 down for tiny cases, and it's carrying on the tradition with its GeForce GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC. The shorty version has the same GPU and 8GB of GDDR5 memory as the full-sized card, now in a convenient 6.7-inch-long package.
Despite its small size, this new card offers as much as a 63MHz overclock over the reference GTX 1070 in its "OC Mode." Tick the right box in Gigabyte's software, and this GTX 1070 runs at 1556MHz base and 1746MHz boost speeds. Gigabyte keeps the card cool using a triple-heatpipe heatsink design and a single 90mm fan with the same ridged blade design we saw on the company's larger 1070 cards. The size isn't the only unusual thing about this video card, either—the output cluster has a single DisplayPort, an HDMI port, and two DVI connections. Both of the DVI connections are dual-link, according to Gigabyte's product page.Calyos workstation passively cools Haswell-E and a Titan X
Belgian cooling vendor Calyos is showing off a completely fanless workstation, and it looks fantastic. The workstation uses a proprietary cooling system, but it's otherwise built entirely from off-the-shelf parts, including a Core i7-5820K hexa-core processor and a GeForce GTX Titan X GPU. That's some heavy-duty hardware to cool passively, yet Calyos purports to keep both the CPU and graphics card under 75° C while running 3DMark and Prime95.
Calyos is a name that's proably not very familiar to TR readers. The small company was incorporated in 2011, and aims to provide cooling solutions for datacenter and industrial customers using its "loop heat pipe" technology. A fanless workstation with high-end hardware like this might be a good way to drum up interest in the unique cooling system, which Calyos says can dissipate up to 600W of heat.
Update: Systems equipped with Calyos' loop heat pipe coolers will be available in Q4 this year, with a global launch at CES in January. Pricing will start at €1000, though surely not for the monster system above. Thanks to FanlessTech for the tip.Samsung starts selling unlocked Galaxy S7s in the USA
Back when the Samsung Galaxy S7 phones first appeared, they impressed reviewers all around. However, one thing that might have put a damper in interested buyers' enthusiasm was the fact that the models on sale were all locked to a specific carrier and phone contract—and loaded down with carrier bloatware. That's now changing, however. A number of US retailers have started selling fully unlocked versions of both the S7 and S7 edge phones.
The regular price for the unlocked Galaxy S7 is $670. Best Buy has the black model on offer for that price, but it's already offering discounts on the silver and gold versions, bringing the price down to $620. Meanwhile, the marginally (heh) fancier S7 Edge is currently going for $750, which Best Buy has in both black and gold. According to a report from The Verge, you should also be able to get these phones from Amazon, Sam's Club, and Target.
To recap, the US-sold Galaxy S7 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 SoC packing four Kryo CPU cores—two clocked at 2.15 GHz, and another two at 1.6 GHz. Four gigabytes of RAM offer a generous work area for the SoC. The GPU is an Adreno 530 model, powering a 2560x1440 screen with a pixel density of 576 PPI (a figure that's slightly lower on the S7 Edge, due to its slightly bigger dimensions).
Reviewers praised the phone's construction, excellent camera, and both fast and wireless charging features. As added bonuses, the S7s pack microSD slots for storage expension and are fully water-proof. One sticky point with reviewers, however, was the fact that carrier-installed bloatware made the already-questionable TouchWiz interface feel particularly crowded and sluggish. With the unlocked models, that ought to be much less of a problem.Rumor: GeForce GTX 1060 specs leak
We got a first look at a rumored GTX 1060 reference card this week, and now the graphics leakers at VideoCardz claim to have gotten their hands on a slide deck from Nvidia that details the card's specifications. If that information is correct, the GTX 1060 will have 1280 Pascal SPs, a boost clock of 1.7GHz, 6GB of 8 GT/s GDDR5 memory, and a board power of 120W—the same as today's GTX 960.
If they're real, the slides are quite bombastic. Going by the highly inexact science of "our bars are longer than theirs," the GTX 1060 might be up to 1.15 times faster than an RX 480 in traditional games, and up to 1.25 times faster in VR applications. The longest bar in these purported Nvidia slides is power efficiency, where the GTX 1060 is apparently poised to deliver 1.45 times more of that characteristic by some vague measure. This still-rumored card will apparently arrive in July, so the graphics card market wars will presumably heat up even more soon.Coolchip Technologies teases a low-profile "kinetic cooler"
Remember that awesome air-bearing heat exchanger that Sandia National Laboratories developed way back in 2011? Coolchip Technologies partnered with Cooler Master to bring out a similar cooler back in January of last year, but that partnership seems to have been for naught. Undaunted, Coolchip is bringing out a smaller design that appears to be based on the same concept.
The teaser image was posted on the company's Facebook page, and it apparently depicts a "low-profile kinetic cooler" for Intel processors with TDPs up to 70W. While that dissipation figure isn't especially impressive, this thing is smaller than even the Intel stock cooler, and it should be very quiet. No details yet on pricing, but Coolchip Technologies says this heatsink is coming soon. Given its extended nascense, let's hope that's the case.EKWB has a full-coverage water block ready for the RX 480
If the reference cooler on your Radeon RX 480 isn't performing up to expectations, EK Waterblocks is ready with a solution, as it usually is. The company teased a full-coverage water block for the card on its Facebook page yesterday.
The RX 480 block will be available with the full range of EK finishes: in bare or nickel-plated copper with a clear or black-Acetal cover on top. The company says it expects the block to run "somewhere around 100€, hopefully less" on Facebook. The blocks should be available in "about a week." Given that cooler transistors are usually happier transistors, we're curious to see what kind of performance tweakers putting the RX 480 under water can extract.The next Android release will be called Nougat
Back at its I/O conference, Google called for the Android community to submit names for its upcoming Android N release. Android has traditionally been named after sweets, so it's not surprising the company settled on Android Nougat for its next release. The company made the announcement in a celebratory Tweet that we've embedded below.
While Android Nutella or Android Neyyappam both seemed like popular choices in the Twitter discussion that followed the announcement—and the obvious choice of Namey McNameFace was cut out from the start—it seems we'll have to be satisfied with Nougat. Google's latest OS should arrive sometime later this year.Here's an early look at DX12 "Inside the Second" benchmark data
We didn't publish DirectX 12 performance results in our recent reviews of the GeForce GTX 1080 and the Radeon RX 480. It's still relatively early days for Microsoft's low-overhead API, and we still think DX11 performance is the most relevant metric to go by for most gamers. That omission doesn't mean we aren't able to collect performance data, though. We wanted to share some early results of our benchmarking methods for DirectX 12 using Rise of the Tomb Raider as our platform. Let's dive in.
First, we used the same settings and benchmark run that we did for RoTR in our reviews. The only change was to enable the DirectX 12 rendering path in the game's graphics settings. We tested the game with two graphics cards: the Radeon RX 480 and the GeForce GTX 970.
Well, that's disappointing. A major drop in average FPS and a major increase in 99th-percentile frame times doesn't bode well for RoTR's DirectX 12 implementation. The Radeon RX 480 does seem to suffer much less than the GTX 970 when DirectX 12 is enabled, but neither card is providing a good experience at 1920x1080 with the settings we chose.
Our measures of "badness" suggest gamers should leave DirectX 12 off in Rise of the Tomb Raider, as well. Neither card spends much time past 50 ms working on challenging frames with the DX11 API, but enabling DX12 causes both cards to spend almost two seconds working on tough frames—and those hitches will almost certainly be noticeable, since the corresponding frame rate will drop below 20 FPS during those times.
Neither card produced a solid 60 FPS in our original benchmark, but they struggle quite a bit more in DX12 mode when we look at the time spent past 33.3 ms and 16.7 ms. That's not surprising, given our average frame rate results for both cards. In any case, DX12 does not provide a more fluid gaming experience.
What can we take away from these numbers? DirectX 12 puts much more of a burden on the game developer to deliver a well-optimized experience, and Rise of the Tomb Raider's DX12 implementation seems to need more time in the oven. It's certainly irresponsible to call a winner using these numbers—both cards fail to deliver a playable experience by our rather high standards. Leave RoTR in DX11 mode and enjoy it that way for now.New Wireless-AC features improve speed and stability
Back in 2013, the Wi-Fi Alliance created a certification program for 802.11ac devices to ensure interoperability. That program is now expanding with a new set of features that the Alliance is calling "wave 2." Rather than being a new Wi-Fi standard, the new features supplement the existing 802.11ac standard.
The focus of the new features appears to be on improving the performance of Wi-Fi networks when multiple users are using the same network, and when multiple networks are occupying the same airspace. Multiple-input multiple-output, or "MIMO" support, was introduced originally with 802.11n. That feature is being expanded to multi-user MIMO, or MU-MIMO. Suitably-equipped access points will be able to serve multiple devices in MIMO mode simultaneously.
Beyond that, the majority of the updates seem to simply be specification upgrades to the certification program. Devices with 4x4 MIMO support are officially supported, as well as 160MHz channels—potentially doubling throughput. The Wi-Fi alliance is increasing the number of available 5Ghz channels, too, which it says makes more efficient use of available spectrum.
Unfortunately, the 802.11ac "wave 2" features do require hardware support, and as a result it's unlikely the new hotness will come to a router near you by way of a firmware update. Wave 2-capable devices are already on the market, though, like this Netgear R7800.Nvidia readies its Shield Android TV for the UHD and HDR future
Nvidia is teaching its Shield Android TV new tricks for UHD and HDR content. The latest software update for the set-top box gives it the ability to play YouTube videos at 4K and 60 FPS, something the company says is a first for any media streamer. Another purported first is the Shield's readiness for Netflix HDR content. Nvidia says subscribers to that service will have 100 hours of HDR programming to sample by August.
This update doesn't stop there, though. The Vudu app now supports 4K playback. The Vudu, SPMC, MX Player, and Photos and Videos apps all offer Dolby Atmos surround-sound pass-through. The Shield's universal search now works with Netflix, Vudu, and Spotify, including voice searches. Finally, the Shield can now serve Plex content to other devices. There are many more smaller changes in this update, too—check out Nvidia's full release notes for all the details.Radeon Software 16.6.2 is ready for the Radeon RX 480
In the unlikely event you're the new owner of a Radeon RX 480, AMD has a fresh batch of drivers for you. Radeon Software 16.6.2 adds support for the new card. It's also the first release of Radeon Software with AMD's new WattMan utility on board, a replacement for the older OverDrive overclocking and system monitoring suite.
WattMan uses the same updated interface as the rest of Radeon Settings. It lets overclockers tweak seven separate voltage/frequency states for Polaris GPUs, along with memory, fan speed, and temperature parameters. A histogram-style monitoring interface tracks the values of these parameters over time. WattMan also lets users create per-application overclocking profiles, should one game fail to run using settings that let another perform just fine.
Along with WattMan, these drivers add a Crossfire profile for World of Tanks, plus a Crossfire toggle that lets users enable or disable their multi-GPU setups with one click. Folks with HDMI displays can now scale the output for those displays directly from Radeon Settings. These new drivers also let users adjust display color temperature from within the utility, too.Asus teases a Strix variant of AMD's Radeon RX 480
We're pretty happy with the price-to-performance ratio the Radeon RX 480 offers after reviewing the card, but we feel that the cooling performance and noise numbers the reference cooler delivers both leave something to be desired. It seems Asus will be among the first to answer our call for custom-cooled RX 480s. The company teased a Strix version of AMD's newest card today.
Going by the single picture it shared, Asus will use a version of its triple-fan cooler to help the Polaris 10 GPU chill out. This cooler will also feature Asus' Aura RGB LED lighting for added bling. The Strix card will come with fast 8 GT/s GDDR5 on board, rather than the 7 GT/s RAM option that AMD is leaving open to some of its board partners. Asus isn't talking clock speeds yet, though. Still, the prospect of a fast RX 480 that's also cool and quiet is an exciting one. We'll be watching for more details about this card as it draws closer to release.Radeon RX 480 availability check: act fast before they're gone
Howdy! We're guessing you have absolutely no idea what a Radeon RX 480 is, nor have you been waiting for it with bated breath for six months. We're also certain you're not at all wondering if you can get your hands on a $240 graphics card that's performance-equivalent to a GeForce GTX 970. No, sir, not at all. And we totally did not look into if and where you can buy one right now.
Newegg has by far the widest selection of RX 480 cards available among the shops we surveyed. Almost every model we've looked at precisely matches AMD's reference design, right down to the red "Radeon" lettering next to the output section. Clock speeds and video outputs likewise match the reference model (save for a single exception), so what you're really choosing is just a manufacturer and a warranty.
On a brighter note, companies are sticking close to AMD's suggested price of $199 for the 4GB card and $239 for the 8GB version. Most listings for the 8GB variant are for $239.99, and only a few companies are charging a little more at $249.99.
The cards were quickly flickering in and out of both listings and stock during the writing of this article. The cards we saw in stock for longest were the XFX, Sapphire and Powercolor RX 480s. XFX is listing its card at $249.99, while Sapphire and Powercolor are selling theirs for $239.99. Though they're out of stock at this exact moment, they were available for a while before publication, so your odds are good.
The Gigabyte 8GB RX 480 is a card whose availability is also volatile at the moment, and it's selling for $239.99. That's an understandable fact given that the company is among the best-regarded when it comes to graphics cards. Asus also ranks among the top dogs, but its $239.99 8GB card is either not selling yet or going so fast that we could never spot it.
The single specimen whose specs deviate a little from the norm is XFX's "RX-480M8BBA6", whose GPU comes slightly overclocked from the factory at a maximum clock speed of 1328 MHz. This model is currently sold out, however, and XFX charges a small premium for the extra oomph, setting a sticker price of $269.99. Radeon RX 480 cards are also available in 4GB capacities, but these are practically nowhere to be found. Newegg has a listing for a Sapphire RX 480 4GB card at $199.99, but it's unsurprisingly out of stock too.
That's all we could spot after our hunting session, folks. If you manage to spot any of these wabbits in stock, let us know in the comments section below.Windows 10 Anniversary Update rolls out August 2
The biggest question mark surrounding the Windows 10 Anniversary Update has been its release date—until now. Microsoft confirmed this morning that the update will hit Windows 10 PCs, tablets, phones, and Xbox Ones on August 2. That date is just a few days after the actual anniversary of Windows 10's release, July 29 of last year.
In case you haven't been following the news, the Anniversary Update is bringing a whole slew of improvements to Microsoft's finest. Check out our previous coverage for details, but the short list includes extension support for Edge, huge revamps for Windows Ink and Windows Hello, and refinements to the Windows Store and Cortana. Myriad smaller improvements are coming too, like a dark theme for system dialogs and the ability to put clocks on every taskbar.
The Anniversary Update will also include the Windows Subsystem for Linux. This mind-bending feature allows Linux applications to run natively inside Windows, not unlike the "Windows on Windows" system that enables 32-bit applications to run seamlessly alongside 64-bit applications. So far the killer app for the new subsystem has been the bash shell, which should make Windows automation easier for sysadmins coming from GNU/Linux.
Xbox One owners will be able to say hello to Cortana after the update, but the real exciting news on that platform is the addition of the Windows Store. Not only will this move drastically increase the utility of Microsoft's game console, but it will also enable cross-play on supported titles. Microsoft didn't confirm that the mouse-and-keyboard support promised at E3 would be coming with this update, but it should be on the way soon.
Fortunately, Microsoft confirmed that the Anniversary Update will free to all Windows 10 users. If you aren't using Windows 10 yet, now is the time to make the jump. Free upgrades from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 end on July 29. After that, it'll be $119 for the Home version and $199 for the Pro version.Dell shows off whiteboard-sized 70" interactive display
It seems that manufacturers may have found themselves a new market to explore: business- and classrooms. Not to be outdone by Microsoft's Surface Hub, Dell has now joined the fray with its C7017T "interactive conference room monitor."
The CT1017T is a 70", 1920x1080 touch-sensitive display that can read up to 10 invidual touch points at once. Dell bundles the screen with two styluses for input, too. Although the company doesn't spell out the panel type, it's a fair guess that it's based on IPS technology, particularly given its 6-ms response time and 8-bit + AFRC color specification.
The input section comprises a DisplayPort 1.2 connector, two HDMI 1.4 ports along an HDMI port with MHL, and an old-school VGA input. The display includes two 10-watt speakers, along with the requisite audio input and output ports. As proof of its business chops, the C7017T also includes RJ45 and RS232 ports for remote management. Last but not least, there's a built-in four-port USB 3.0 hub with a fast-charging port, along with an extra USB 2.0 port.
Dell is asking $5000 for the CT7017T, a price that's substantially less than the $8,999 that Microsoft wants for the 55" version of its Surface Hub. However, it should be noted that the Surface Hub includes a built-in computer—the C7017T is merely a display. Dell offers a three-year warranty on this giant screen with advance replacement.Gigabyte GTX 1070 Windforce OC makes Pascal more attainable
Custom GTX 1070 cards are hitting the market now, and all of the usual suspects are looking to get in on the action. Today's reveal is the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 Windforce OC, a simpler and presumably more affordable version of the company's triple-fanned GTX 1070 G1 Gaming.
Although this take on the GTX 1070 isn't quite as fancy as the G1 Gaming, it still comes with Gigabyte's "Windforce 2X" cooling system, comprising two 90-mm fans atop a heatsink with two copper heatpipes that come in direct contact with the GPU. The factory clock speeds aren't stratospheric, but they're nothing to sneer at, either: 1556 MHz base and 1746 MHz boost clocks in "Gaming mode," and 1582 MHz base and 1771 MHz boost frequencies in "OC mode." These clocks are just a bit higher than Nvidia's reference 1506 MHz base and 1683 MHz boost speeds, but any improvement on the this front is welcome.
The backplate-reinforced circuit board has a 6+2 power phase design. Gamers only need a single 8-pin PCIe power connector to feed this card, too. The output selection has the standard three DisplayPorts, plus an HDMI port and a dual-link DVI output. Although there's no official word on pricing, Newegg is already listing this card for a reasonable $399.HP Chromebook 11 G5 gets touch-sensitive
A new wave of Chromebooks is hitting the market, and one of the more popular features appearing on the spec sheets of those machines is a touchscreen. That trend should come as no surprise to anyone watching the market, since Chrome OS will be getting support for Android apps downloaded from Google Play in the near future. HP's latest Chromebook offering is the Chromebook 11 G5, which the company says is its first 11.6" Chromebook to offer a touchscreen.
Back in April we reported on HP's Chromebook 13, a curiously-positioned device more akin to a premium laptop in specifications than a traditional Chromebook. The new model is more typical of the Chromebook breed, with a 1366x768 IPS display and a Braswell-based Celeron N3060 SoC. The Intel chip should give it a little more grunt than the Rockchip in Jeff's Chromebook Flip. HP claims the non-touch version can manage 12.5 hours of battery life, while the touchscreen version hits 11 hours. While those numbers are impressive, they aren't out of line for a Chromebook.
HP's press release makes a lot of noise about the thin and light qualities of the Chromebook 11 G5, but the only information we have about its dimensions is the weight, at 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg). That's pretty light for a device with a Gorilla Glass display. Pricing will start at $189, although that's surely for the non-touch model. HP says the Chromebook 11 G5 will be available starting in July.Rumor: reference-cooled GeForce GTX 1060 breaks cover
Get your saltcellars ready, folks. Now that the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 are on the market, it would only make sense that Nvidia has plans to begin filling out its lower-end lineup with Pascal GPUs, as well. A poster on the r/nvidia subreddit apparently got in touch with someone in possession of a reference "GeForce GTX 1060" card recently, and they were able to grab a high-resolution snap of the purported card. Feast your eyes:
The poster didn't offer any other information on the card beyond this photo, but given what we know about Pascal chips so far and the past progression of Maxwell through the marketplace, it seems likely this card will use a new, cut-down GPU paired with some amount of GDDR5 RAM. It also seems likely to play in the $200-$300 range that AMD seems to be targeting with its Radeon RX 480. Until we hear something official, however, that's all just speculation. Enjoy the eye candy in the meantime.
|Here's an early look at DX12 "Inside the Second" benchmark data||101|
|Deals of the week: an Asus ROG motherboard for $160 and more||9|
|Aero 14 notebooks pack gaming power into a slim profile||12|
|Gigabyte shrinks the GeForce GTX 1070 for Mini-ITX||16|
|Calyos workstation passively cools Haswell-E and a Titan X||21|
|Samsung starts selling unlocked Galaxy S7s in the USA||5|
|Rumor: GeForce GTX 1060 specs leak||54|
|Coolchip Technologies teases a low-profile "kinetic cooler"||28|
|EKWB has a full-coverage water block ready for the RX 480||28|