|MSI's Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard reviewed||10|
|Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 Ti graphics card reviewed||134|
|Intel Optane SSD 900P drives deliver a big chunk of next-gen storage to desktops||76|
Howdy, gerbils. Black Friday is approaching, and many e-tailers are getting a head start on deals in preparation for the big day. We're breaking our usual deals schedule to bring you some tasty stuff we spotted while doing some virtual window-shopping. Shall we have a look?
That's all for today, folks! 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 and Amazon, 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 and Das Keyboard's shop.Aorus K9 Optical keyboard senses strokes with infrared light
Most people seem to prefer mechanical keyswitches over rubber-dome offerings. Dome switches require you to mash a key pretty forcefully for it to register, and they get progressively less reliable with use. Mechanical keyswitches are more reliable (so much that they'll likely outlive the keyboard's practical usefulness) but they're still vulnerable to moisture and corrosion. Aorus' new K9 Optical keyboard, which we saw briefly at Computex this year, uses optical switches that have no physical switch mechanism. As a result, the company claims the keyboard is spill-proof.
The keyswitches used in the K9 Optical are called Flaretechs. They work by using an IR sensor that detects when the key stem approaches the baseplate. Since the sensing is optical, the switches are essentially immune to key bounce and chatter. As a result, there's little need for complicated debouncing circuits found on other keyboards, and the bounce time is listed at only 0.03ms. That also means that keypresses should be registered faster and can be repeated more quickly than on keyboards using traditional switches.
Thanks to the lack of a physical switch mechanism, the Flaretechs should last essentially forever—Gigabyte says they're good for up to 100 million keystrokes. Even though the K9 Optical doesn't boast an IP certification, Gigabyte is so confident in its water-resistance proprerties that it claims the keyboard can be used underwater.
You can choose between "blue" or "red" variants of the K9. The designations have the same significance as on Cherry MX keyboards: models with blue switches are clicky, while models with red switches are linear. The steel springs used in the keyswitches require 55cN of force to actuate, once again not that different from similar MX models. The Flaretech keycap stems are also Cherry-MX compatible, so you can easily swap out your favorites to replace the K9's ABS caps.
Besides the fancy switches, the Aorus K9 has RGB LED backlighting, N-key rollover, a 1000 Hz polling rate, and a braided cable. You can use the Aorus Graphics Engine software to manage the RGB LED backlighting. The real question mark about this interesting keyboard will be its price. The only other optical-switch keyboard that we've seen is Tesoro's Gram SE, and that goes for $120 on Amazon despite lacking the K9's waterproofing. Hopefully Gigabyte can hit that mark or below.ROG Strix XG32VQ and XG35VQ fuse fast VA panels with FreeSync
Asus is expanding its lineup of FreeSync-enabled gaming monitors with the ROG Strix XG32VQ and ROG Strix XG35VQ, a pair of 1800R curved jumbo screens each sporting 1440 rows of pixels and sitting atop a customizable Light Signature projection stand. Both monitors' VA panels should provide generous viewing angles and accurate color representation. Asus lists the grey-to-grey response time at 4 ms for both models, and there's FreeSync support on tap with LFC support.
The ROG Strix XG32VQ is 32" across and has a resolution of 2560x1440 in a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Asus lists a maximum brightness of 300 cd/m² and a contrast ratio of 3000:1 on the spec sheet. The display's FreeSync range dips as low as 48 Hz and goes all the way up to the maximum 144 Hz refresh rate. FreeSync works using either the DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0 connectors. This model's color reproduction is particularly good for a gaming display at 125% of the sRGB space.
The larger ROG Strix XG35VQ has a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio and a resolution of 3440x1440, all in a 35" screen. The FreeSync range goes from 48 Hz to the monitor's maximum 100 Hz refresh rate, but the variable refresh rate tech only works using the HDMI 2.0 connector. The brightness specification is the same 300 cd/m² as that of the XG32VQ, but the contrast ratio slips a bit to a still-impressive 2500:1 and the color gamut should cover 100% of sRGB. The XG35VQ also has a blur-reduction mode available.
Both monitors have creature comforts in the form of integrated two-port USB 3.0 hubs and headphone jacks. The included stands have RGB LED illumination that displays the Asus ROG logo on the user's desk surface and are adjustable for swivel, tilt, and height. The projection lights in the stand and the additional RGB LED lights on the back of the monitor dance according to instructions they receive from Asus' Aura Sync utility.
Asus didn't provide US pricing or availability information for the displays, though Hexus got word that the ROG Strix XG32VQ would be going for £550 (about $606 without VAT) in the UK, while the ROG Strix XG35VQ will set buyers back £800 (or roughly $883). The company backs all of its LCD monitors with a three-year warranty.ROG Strix GL702ZC takes 16 Ryzen threads on the move
The world of gaming laptops has been dominated by Intel CPUs and Nvidia graphics the last few product cycles, even as AMD's Ryzen 7 processors have proven themselves as worthy in the desktop space. We previously wrote about a laptop that would bring the silicon underdog's eight-core mainstream desktop chip into the mobile space, and that machine is now shipping. The Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC-WB74 packs a desktop Ryzen 7 1700 CPU and a Radeon RX 580 graphics card into a 17" chassis.
That eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1700 can boost up to 3.7 GHz in this notebook, though we suspect that the thermal constraints of a portable will limit the ability to run at full boost clock for long. The CPU is paired with 16 GB of DDR4 memory and an AMD Radeon RX 580 with 4 GB of its own memory.
Bits and bytes are stored more permanently on a 256 GB M.2 SSD and a 1 TB 2.5" spinning platter hard drive. The display has been downgraded somewhat since the first time Asus showed off its Ryzen laptop, though. The initially-reported UHD option appears to be off the table, replaced by two 1920x1080 versions with either a 60 Hz or a 120 Hz refresh rate. The adaptive-refresh-rate technology will work when compatible external monitors are attached to the machine's mini-DisplayPort and HDMI jacks, too.
One might expect a laptop built around a full-fat desktop chip to be generously-sized, and that's the case with this particular machine. The GL702ZC measures 16.2" wide, 10.8" deep, and 1.34" thick (41.2 cm x 27.5 cm x 3.4 cm). The notebook tips the scales at 7.1 lbs (3.2 kg) and comes with a 280-W power adapter to charge the four-cell 76 Wh battery. Asus didn't mention battery life, but we imagine it won't be quite as good as that of laptops with Intel Core i7 H-series processors and GeForce GTX 1060 graphics. On the bright side, the Strix might last longer between charges than something like Eurocom's desktop Core i7-powered Sky X9E3.
The beefy machine's sides are adorned with plenty of external connectors. The display outputs are joined by a Gigabit Ethernet port, three USB Type-A ports, and a USB Type-C connector. The Strix also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.
The ROG Strix GL702ZC-WB74 is available now from Best Buy for $1500. We expect the machine to hit the shelves of e-tailers like Amazon and Newegg soon. The manufacturer offers one-year warranty coverage.Rumor: December Radeon drivers will bring a performance OSD
Ever since the Catalyst Omega update way back in 2014, AMD's been doing a major Radeon driver release every year. These big releases add new features and functionality to the driver software, like last year's ReLive update. It's getting to be about that time again. While we haven't heard anything from AMD directly, a fan going by the name of BlazeK_AMDRT tweeted a couple of curious images alluding to an upcoming update.
The purported update is codenamed "Crimson ReLive Redux I'm Still CatalystMaker v 2.4." The name is preposterous, although it's possible that it's an internal codename that's never meant to see the light of day. The new version will apparently expand the ReLive in-game overlay to include performance monitoring features à la MSI Afterburner. Judging from the possibly-spurious screenshot, the slick overlay UI has the ability to record performance metrics, as well. We do wonder which AMD GPU runs at 3.2 GHz as shown on the screenshot, though.
Blazek_AMDRT didn't elaborate on where he got the two supposed screenshots, but users on the /r/AMD sub-Reddit seem to think they're re-posts of an earlier leak that we apparently missed out on. Whatever the case, we'll probably know what the deal is in about a month, give or take.Intel spins up new assembly-and-test site for Coffee Lake CPUs
Demand for Intel's Coffee Lake processors has been as hot as a good cup of pour-over, judging by recent e-tail prices and stock levels. To keep up with this strong demand, the company is adding a new assembly-and-test site in Chengdu, China to perform final integration of those CPUs. Intel says it's spinning up the new facility "to ensure a continuous supply" of the entire Coffee Lake Core i5 and Core i7 lineup for desktops, so we can hope that the added capacity leads to more reliable stock and lower prices. Chips from the new facility should begin arriving to the company's customers (i.e. system integrators and retailers) December 15.
The news comes by way of a product change notification document posted to Intel's Quality Document Management System. Aside from the news of the facility itself, the document shows how to spot processors assembled and tested in Chengdu versus those assembled in the company's existing facilities in Malaysia. If your Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, or Core i5-8400 CPUs carry an "Assembled in China" remark on the label, they came from Chengdu. You can muse on this little bit of trivia as you put together your new Coffee Lake PC. Thanks to TR tipster SH SOTN for the heads-up.Deal of the day: A laptop with an i5-8250U and Pascal graphics for $680
Howdy, gerbil! I know, I know, I know, we just had a deals post yesterday. But how about the laptop you see in the picture below? It's a hot one, and we couldn't possibly let it go unnoticed by the gerbildom at large. Let it be known that our Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kampman's exact words about the Swift 3 were "that's an awesome machine, I'm testing its 14-inch counterpart here." Endorsements don't get much better than that.
The Acer Swift 3 is a 15.6" laptop with a 1920x1080 IPS screen. That by itself isn't earth-shattering, but keep reading. Inside, you'll find the latest Intel Core i5-8250U CPU with four cores, eight threads, and Turbo Boost speeds up to a healthy 3.4 GHz. The processor is accompanied by 8 GB of RAM (expandable to 16 GB) and a Pascal GeForce MX150 with its own 2 GB of VRAM.
For storage purposes, the Swift 3 has a 256 GB SSD—roomy and speedy for an entry-level laptop. The accoutrements don't end there. There's 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi on tap with MU-MIMO support, a smattering of USB 3.0 ports (including a Type-C connector), and a backlit keyboard. All the hardware is encased in a metal shell that hides a 3220-mAh battery inside.
You might be thinking this was a $800-or-up machine from its specs, but that'd hardly be worthy of a TR deals post. Instead, you can grab one of these for $679.99 from Newegg right now with the promo code BFDEAL10.G.Skill's DDR4-4400 kit seizes the four-module memory speed crown
Super-fast memory kits composed of two modules are all well and good, but some folks need large capacity to go with wickedly-high clock speeds. Last week Corsair claimed to have made the world's fastest four-DIMM 32 GB memory kit with its 4333 MT/s set. However, today G.Skill has trumped that figure with its DDR4-4000 four-module kit. The DIMMs' Samsung B-die chips are rated for CL19-19-19-39 timings and use Samsung B-die chips clocked at a sky-high 4400 MT/s.
The memory maker demonstrated the four-stick kit running in dual channel mode on an Asus ROG Maximus X Hero (Wi-Fi AC) motherboard and a speedy Intel Core i7-8700K processor. This kit pushes the limits of XMP certification with a 1.5 V input voltage, though it supports XMP 2.0 to hopefully ease memory overclocking.
G.Skill didn't provide any pricing or availability information, but the fastest memory always costs a pretty penny. We imagine kits will hit stores in the coming weeks. The company offers lifetime warranty on all its memory modules.EVGA DG-7 cases cover every base
We spilled some electronic ink describing EVGA's DG-7 line of cases back in June, and they're available now for preorder. As a refresher, the DG-7 cases sits right below the company's premium DG-8 line. All four DG-7 models (DG-73, DG-75, DG-76 and DG-77) are designed to ensconce systems assembled around Mini-ITX, microATX, or ATX motherboards. The frames and right-side panels are made of steel regardless of model, but going higher up the product ladder results in steel and plastic giving way to tempered glass.
The entry-level DG-73 has a steel left side panel with an acrylic window and comes with two fans. The DG-75 has tempered glass side and front panels. The DG-76 adds a K-Boost button for toggling overclocking profiles on compatible graphics cards and CPUs, as well as an RGB LED-illuminated fan, an RGB LED controller and an I/O cover. Users can program the LED controller using EVGA's DG Tuner utility. The top-of-the-line DG-77 adds a fourth fan and a vertical graphics card mounting kit that's optional on the lesser models.
Buyers can shove graphics cards as long as 15.3" (39 cm) and as wide as 5.9" (15 cm) into the cases. The company didn't provide a maximum CPU cooler height, but we imagine it's pretty close to that maximum video card width figure. Putting all that gear inside and making a DG-7 case look ship-shape should be fairly straightforward given the built-in cable management, power supply shroud, and hidden hard drive trays. Builders can fit up to seven fans inside the chassis. Liquid-cooling aficionados can fit 360-mm radiators behind the front panel and 240-mm heat exchangers under the top.
All models measure 18.8" (48 cm) tall and are between 7.8" to 8.3" (20 to 21 cm) wide and between 18.5" to 18.9" (47 to 48 cm) deep. DG-7 series cases tip the scales at 17.7 to 22.4 lbs (or 8 to 10.1 kg) depending on how much tempered glass a specific version contains.
Interested gerbils can pre-order one of EVGA's DG-7 cases now and expect to receive it in mid-December. The black DG-73 costs $60 (at Amazon or Newegg) and the two tempered glass panels in the DG-75 boost the asking price to $90 (from Amazon or Newegg). The RGB goodies in the DG-76 add another $30, bringing the total to $120 (as seen at the rainforest retailer or the fresh ovum). The top-of-the-line DG-77 and its three tempered glass sides, the graphics card riser, and the fourth fan clocks in at $140 (available at Amazon or Newegg too). The DG-73 is only available in black, but white versions of the other three models are an option for an extra $10. EVGA backs all DG-7 models with a three-year warranty.Radeon 17.11.2 drivers take the fight to the Galactic Empire
Today's the day for the release of DICE's sequel to its 2015 Star Wars: Battlefront. Opinions on the new game run as wide a gamut as we've seen for a major AAA release, but if you're running a Radeon GPU and ready to dive in, you should first make a pit stop at AMD's download site. The latest Radeon driver is numbered 17.11.2 (since it's the second release in November), and it's primed and ready for EA's Star Wars-themed shooter.
Besides bringing support for the Star Wars software, the new driver fixes myriad maladies. Radeon ReLive should be able to continue recording when toggling a game out of exclusive fullscreen mode, and clips recorded with the tool should no longer have green corruption. Along similar lines, secondary displays should stop exhibiting green corruption after resuming from standby. Radeon Settings shouldn't crash when toggling Crossfire on Radeon HD 7000-series products. Finally, WattMan should correctly reflect GPU memory clock rates, and it should again be able to under-volt Radeon RX 400 and 500-series cards.
There's a fair-sized list of known issues in the new release, but the majority of them are holdovers from the last release. The newly-discovered niggles both apply only to Radeon RX Vega cards: intermittent stability issues after toggling the HBCC feature on or off, and a system hang when trying to update the driver with more than one Vega card in the system. The latter issue can be worked around by doing a clean driver install on multi-GPU Vega systems.
You can hit up the driver's page and download it for 32- and 64-bit of Windows 7 and Windows 10. You can also check out the full release notes there. If you need a different driver, hit up AMD's download site.
Star Wars: Battlefront II has been under fire from gamers ever since fans got wind of its post-sale monetization scheme. Without going into the nitty-gritty details, many users felt that the cost of advancement in multiplayer, whether in time or real money, was simply too dear. EA announced yesterday—less than 24 hours before today's launch—that it would be suspending all real-money microtransactions until it could re-implement them in a way that players found less objectionable. In any case, Battlefront 2 should run pretty well on Radeons with the new driver.Intel readies a family of 5G modems and talks up a storm on 28 GHz
5G networking promises to connect everyone and everything, and Intel doesn't want to be left out of the potentially huge wave of handsets and smart devices that will take advantage of the next generation of wireless connectivity. Today, the company announced the XMM 8000 series of 5G modems, of which the XMM 8060 is the first member.
The nascent 5G New Radio, or 5G NR, standards are labyrinthe and cover multiple phases of next-generation wireless deployment. While we're still coming to grips with the full details of 5G, it's clear that the XMM 8060 will support both the intermediate 5G NR Non-Standalone networking (a deployment phase that will piggyback on some LTE technologies and networks), as well as the full-fat 5G NR Standalone networks that Intel (and Qualcomm) expect will begin rolling out in 2020. The XMM 8060 will also be backwards-compatible with 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. Intel expects that the XMM 8060 will begin shipping as part of 5G-ready devices in mid-2019.
While the XMM 8060 is in the oven, Intel is still researching and learning about 5G networking with a prototype device it calls the Intel 5G Modem. The company says this early silicon is now making "full end-to-end" calls over the 28 GHz band, a frequency that Qualcomm calls mmWave. Intel's achievement comes on the heels of similar news from Qualcomm earlier this year.
As 5G condenses, Intel is continuing to develop new modems for the LTE networks of today. The company capped off its cellular announcements with news of the XMM 7660 modem, a Category-19-capable device that Intel says will support speeds of up to 1.6 gigabits per second. That support means the XMM 7660 is ready to handle future tiers of Gigabit LTE, and Intel bolsters that capability with multiple-input and multiple-output support, carrier aggregation, and a "broad range" of band compatibility. The company says the XMM 7660 will begin shipping in devices in 2019.National Fast Food Day Shortbread
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Even as the generational differences in smartphones have shrunk, the reign of a flagship handset has become shorter and shorter. To keep up with the frantic pace of flagship refreshes, OnePlus is updating its OnePlus 5 phone after just a third of a year. Like its predecessors, the OnePlus 5T's spec sheet can go toe-to-toe with pricey competitors like Samsung's Galaxy S8 without delivering a knockout blow to the wallet.
The phone uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC found in many flagship Android smartphones from the likes of HTC, LG, and Samsung. OnePlus will offer two versions of the 5T. The more-affordable version will have 6 GB of system memory and 64 GB of storage. The high-end version will have 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of flash memory.
OnePlus has stretched the 5T's 2160x1080 AMOLED screen nearly to the edges of the device, as is the fashion with many competing flagship phones. The 5T's 6", 2160x1080 display doesn't grow the overall size of the phone much. Instead, OnePlus stretched the screen's aspect ratio from 16:9 to 18:9 and shrank the bezels. The 401-PPI screen is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
Overall dimensions still grow just a bit compared to those of the OnePlus 5 at 6.1" tall, 3" wide, and 0.29" thick (15.6 cm x 7.5 cm x 7.3 mm). The handset weighs in at 5.7 oz (162 g). The device's aluminum shell lends the phone a high-end look, though it does preclude the inclusion of wireless charging.
OnePlus has overhauled the dual-camera system from the OnePlus 5 in the move to the 5T. The back of the phone now has a 16-megapixel general-purpose shooter and a 20-MP unit that seems to use a form of pixel binning for improved low-light operation. Both have the same focal length and f/1.7 aperture, so optical zoom is no longer an option as it was on the regular 5. OnePlus has incorporated an electronic image stabilization feature into the rear camera that works when shooting 4K, 30-FPS video, as well.
The 16-MP, f/2.0 front camera is part of the 5T's new face-recognition unlock feature. The manufacturer says the facial recognition feature works 99% of the time it can see the user's eyes and nose, but the company warns that the feature isn't secure enough for use in a mobile payment system or other high-stakes applications. Face ID this isn't. Verification of identity for payments has to rely on the rear-mounted fingerprint reader, for example.
As for software, the 5T will ship with Google's Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS with OnePlus' lightweight OxygenOS skin stretched over top of it. The manufacturer says a beta version of Android 8.0 Oreo will be available for adventurous phone owners sometime in December. The latest version of OxygenOS has a feature called Parallel Apps that allows users to install multiple copies of the same application with different login credentials. Users who use multiple logins for their phone apps might also like the ability to use more than one SIM card, and the dual-card 5T obliges. Users can fall back on 802.11ac Wi-Fi when a cellular connection isn't desired or is unavailable.
The OnePlus 5T still keeps a headphone jack alongside its USB Type-C port. The battle for swappable batteries in desirable phones is long over, and the 5T packs a 3300-mAh non-user-serviceable battery. When the battery is depleted, users can use the phone's Dash Charge feature to quickly replenish the pack. OnePlus says its proprietary charge feature can cram enough juice for a day's use into a dead phone in just half an hour.
OnePlus will sell the unlocked OnePlus 5T directly to consumers starting on November 21. The 5T will ring in at $499 for the entry-level model with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, and $559 for the deluxe unit with 8 GB of memory and 128 GB of flash.Roccat celebrates 10 years with the Kone Aimo mouse
Which companies come to mind when you're thinking about gaming input devices, gerbils? Is Roccat on that list? If not, it probably should be. The German company sells some fine hardware for participating in computer-simulated conflicts, and has done so for a little over 10 years now. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of its original Kone mouse, Roccat has released the Kone Aimo.
The latest revision of Roccat's flagship gaming mouse is not a huge change for the line. The rodent has a total of 12 programmable functions, including a tilting scroll wheel. If that's not enough functionality, the Kone Aimo supports Roccat's Easy-Shift feature so you can hold a button on the mouse or your Roccat keyboard to "shift" to another layer of functions. You can save your settings to the mouse as well, so you don't have to install the company's Swarm software on every machine you want to use.
Like the rest of Roccat's high-end mice, the Kone Aimo uses Roccat's Owl-Eye sensor. For those unfamiliar, Owl-Eye is a customized version of the top-class PixArt PMW3360 optical IR sensor that you'll find in almost every other top-tier gaming mouse. The Owl-Eye tops out at an extremely-excessive 12,000 DPI, and given its heritage it should track flawlessly at almost any speed without prediction or acceleration.
Along with a refined design and updated software, the 10th-anniversary mouse also debuts Roccat's Aimo RGB LED lighting system. Aimo is similar to Asus' Aura Sync or Gigabyte's RGB Fusion, but it's actually closest to Razer's Chroma system in that Aimo purports to react dynamically to user input. It's not really clear how the system works, but if nothing else it's compatible with Alienware's AlienFX. Of course, users can also simply use it to synchronize RGB LED lighting across their Roccat devices.
The Kone Aimo has been available in Europe since late September, but now it's available world-wide. You can pick it up at Newegg in black, gray, or white for $80. If you prefer, all three options are also available at Amazon for the same price: black, gray, or white. Roccat should already be winging a Kone Aimo my way for a review, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested but not yet convinced.Thursday deals: a monitor two-pack, a GTX 1080 Ti, storage, and more
Man, those colors are just so pretty. Oh, I'm sorry, was stuck in a reverie gazing at the vivid shades of Corsair's ML120 Pro fans. Our editor-in-chief had a good look at these cool 'n' quiet Technicolor spinners today and came away impressed. If those fans got you itchin' for a hardware upgrade or a new build, we can hardly blame you. Perhaps the deals we dug up today will help you in that endeavor.
That's all for today, folks! 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 and Amazon, 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 and Das Keyboard's shop.In the lab: Corsair's HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset
We spend a lot of time talking about graphics here at The Tech Report—and rightly so! But after the benchmarks are done and we're diving into new releases (I'm playing Assassin's Creed Origins, currently), audio joins the visuals as a crucial part of a gaming experience. Whether you're going through the Egyptian desert on a horse with no name or hopping into Dust for another round of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the influence of audio on the gameplay experience can't be overstated. I'm always on the lookout for a way to get better audio out of my games, and the latest contender is Corsair's HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset.
I've only been playing with the headset for a little bit, so I'm not ready to give my full verdict just yet. In the meantime, we can take a peek at the headset itself and look at what Corsair has to say about the beast.
THe HS50 is a mid-range gaming headset aimed at the console crowd, complete with blue and green versions to fit the tastes of Sony and Microsoft fans alike It's a wired, stereo headset with a mostly-metal structure. These closed cans have faux-leather cups that pump audio out through the increasingly-standard 50-mm neodymium drivers. The microphone can be detached to turn the headset into a pair of wired headphones, if you're not planning to hop into PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds to make insinuations about someone's parents' private lives.
In my short experience, the HS50 is exceedingly comfortable, and it handles loud volumes pretty well when listening to music. These cans are pretty light, and they have a long enough cord to keep them from jumping off your head mid-game. The on-board controls are pretty simple: just a mute button and a volume wheel.
The only real difference between the Playstation- and Xbox-specific models is that one has some very subtle blue highlights, while the other has some slightly-less-subtle green highlights. A blacked-out Carbon version is also available for those with no particular console loyalty. One design decision I'm not sure I understand is the steel grilles over each ear. It makes the HS50 look more industrial and professional, but these are closed-back headphones underneath. The grilles don't serve any purpose aside from aesthetics, from what I can tell.
But those contentions are more me raising my eyebrow than they are actual problems. The prognosis for these cans is heading in the positive direction so far. I'll be answering my questions about voice quality and gaming quality with some serious time spent in Battlefront II and Call of Duty: WWII this weekend. Check back for our final verdict soon. If you're impressed with the HS50 already, though, the headset is already available from Corsair's site for a fitting $50.Futuremark expands the VRMark building with a Cyan Room
Futuremark, the purveyor of graphics-card-crippling benchmark software, has added another tool to its arsenal. The next edition of VRMark will include the Cyan Room benchmark, a gauntlet run aimed at testing a system's VR performance with the low-overhead DirectX 12 API.
According to Futuremark, the new benchmark test "shows how using an API with less overhead can help developers deliver impressive VR experiences even on modest PC systems"—a worthy cause if there ever was one. The test uses Futuremark's own DirectX 12 VR engine. The company points out that you don't need a VR headset to exercise and measure your graphics card's shaders, as VRMark will happily run with a regular monitor attached.
The Cyan Room joins the existing Orange and Blue tests. The Orange Room will show you if your system is up to the task of powering an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift headset, while the Blue Room aims for a higher performance level and tries to simulate the computational load that future graphically-intensive VR titles may present.
DirectX 12 and Vulkan can offer much lower overhead than previous APIs, and they're particularly poised to impact the performance and quality of a VR experience. VR headset makers have come up with multiple tricks to try and work around the fact that sometimes frames aren't delivered by games on time, but it's far effective to simply make games run faster to begin with. Demonstrating the potential performance gains with a benchmark could convince developers to move their engines to the newer APIs.
Existing VRMark Advanced and Professional customers will get access to the Cyan Room for free come November 22.Origin PC spills Coffee Lake on its Eon-series laptops
Intel has made the term "eighth-generation" pretty confusing when it comes to its mainstream Core processors. Eighth-generation desktop Core i5 and Core i7 chips are built around a new Coffee Lake die, while the corresponding laptop CPUs have more in common with seventh-generation Kaby Lake parts. Origin PC decided to mix it up further by shoehorning those impressive desktop chips into its Eon15-X, Eon17-X, and Eon17-SLX gaming laptops. All three models can be fitted with Intel eighth-generation Core processors up to and including the Core i7-8700K.
The machines are adorned with backlit keyboards and pack Nvidia GeForce 10-series graphics cards hurling pixels at G-Sync displays. The laptops can be customized with varying hardware specifications, special finishes, and custom logos on their lids. Memory configurations range from 8 GB of DDR4-2400 all the way up to 64 GB of the premium DDR4-2800 stuff. Origin PC outfits all three Eon laptops with Killer's E2400 Gigabit Ethernet and 1535 802.11ac Wi-Fi-and-Bluetooth combo card, but Intel wireless adapters are also available. All three laptops have USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports.
Storage options are even wider, since all three machines sport at least two M.2 slots and a pair of 2.5" drive bays. Those M.2 slots can hold anything from a 120 GB SATA SSD of unspecified manufacture all the way up to a 2 TB Samsung 960 Pro NVMe drive. Buyers can specify SSD or spinning drives as capacious as 2 TB for the traditional bays.
The Eon15-X packs the buyer's choice of GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB or GTX 1070 graphics cards and a 1920x1080 IPS screen with the green team's G-Sync adaptive refresh rate technology. The machine's product page says a 3840x2160 panel is also available, though no such "4K" display is currently listed on the spec sheet or in the configuration options. Despite being the smallest of the three machines described here, the Eon15-X still measures a chunky 15.2" wide, 10.3" deep, and 1.5" thick (39 cm x 26 cm x 3.8 cm) and weighs a hefty 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg).
The bigger-is-better crowd might be more interested in the Eon17-X with its 17.3" screen and optional GeForce GTX 1080 card. Origin PC offers 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 3840x2160 IPS panel options. The rest of the included and optional specs are roughly the same as the Eon15-X, but the dimensions increase to 16.4" wide, 11.6" deep, and 1.6" thick (42 cm x 29 cm x 4 cm) and weight goes up to 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg).
Those who must have the fastest machine at any cost will surely look to the Eon17-SLX. The SLX is offered with single or dual GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 graphics cards. More-is-better is the philosophy here, so the number of M.2 slots on the mainboard swells to three. Bringing two graphics cards with you has size and weight penalties. The SLX is a goliath, weighing a staggering 12 lbs (5.4 kg) and measuring 17" wide, 12" deep, and 1.7" thick (43 cm x 30 cm x 4.3 cm).
All three Origin Eon laptops are available now with prices starting at $1898 for an Eon15-X with a Core i3-8100 CPU, 8 GB of DDR4 memory, a 500 GB Seagate SSHD, a 1920x1080 IPS G-Sync display, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB graphics card. The Eon 17-X starts at $1935 and the Eon17-SLX will set you back at least $2310. All machines are backed with a standard one-year warranty.Intel confirms Optane DIMMs for late 2018
When Intel first started talking about the 3D Xpoint memory it created in cooperation with Micron, the possible uses for the technology encompassed both storage-like devices as well as system RAM. Fast-forward over two years to the present day, and we've seen what 3D Xpoint can do in Intel's Optane storage devices. There's still a ways to go before we get to see what a system using 3D Xpoint for main memory is like, though. Intel confirmed yesterday that memory modules based on 3D Xpoint are slated for release in the second half of next year.
Intel says it anticipates rapid growth for 3D Xpoint as a technology. According to the slide deck that accompanied its presentation yesterday, the company expects the market for 3D Xpoint products to reach about $8 billion in five years. We like what we've seen from the technology so far, including the Optane cache drives, the SSD 900p, and the SSD DC P4800X. It will be interesting to see how further proliferation of 3D Xpoint affects the wider computing market.
In a way, we already knew when memory modules using 3D Xpoint tech would arrive. Around this time last year, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich remarked on an earnings call that the Purley platform—now known as Xeon Scalable CPUs and their associated chipsets—wouldn't support 3D Xpoint memory. More recently, Intel announced the Cascade Lake refresh of the Xeon Scalable family and committed to launching Optane DIMMs alongside it. The company said at that time that it was already sampling 3D Xpoint memory modules to its partners, so the next-year launch window makes sense.GeForce 388.31 drivers unleash Pascal performance in Destiny 2
Nvidia's latest GeForce Game Ready drivers are here. Version 388.31 of the green team's software stands ready for the launch of the multiplayer-shooter-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away Star Wars Battlefront II and the DC Comics-infused fighting game Injustice 2. Although day-one optimizations are fine and dandy, they're not the biggest story with this release.
In a change of pace from the usual parade of bug fixes and minor improvements, version 388.31 offers a major performance boost for Destiny 2 players. The company reports an average performance improvement of 36.4% at 2560x1440 and 46.6% at 4K on cards ranging from the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB to the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
The inclusion of Nvidia's big-dog GTX 1080 Ti in the results almost certainly skews the picture thanks to the huge improvements that card enjoys, but every Pascal owner playing Destiny 2 should benefit enough from the new driver to make it worth the upgrade. Version 388.31 also includes SLI profiles for Star Wars Battlefront II and EVE Valkyrie: Warzone. Nvidia further notes that 3D Vision users will have a "good" experience with Injustice 2 and a "fair" experience with Star Wars Battlefront II.
Of course, there are some outstanding issues in this driver release, as well. If you connect two DVI monitors and a DisplayPort monitor to GTX 780 Ti cards in SLI, you may not get a display output at all. On Kepler-powered Titan cards, the operating system may fail to load if you pair that card with a Threadripper motherboard. Star Wars Battlefront II may hang the host system if a user attempts to launch it in DirectX 12 mode on Kepler GPUs, among other issues. Presuming those cases don't ruin your day, fire up GeForce Experience on your system or head over to Nvidia's download page to grab the new software.
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