TOP NEWS
Mushkin enters the keyboard market with the Carbon KB-001
— 4:00 PM on January 20, 2017

We don't have to tell you the memory market's been pretty rough lately, with prices only recently coming up from rock-bottom. One solution companies look towards when their primary market turns sour is diversification. For example, both Patriot and G.Skill are selling peripherals. Not to be left behind, Mushkin is also moving into the gamer gear space, and its first product in that arena is the Carbon KB-001 mechanical keyboard. Eteknix got to see a prototype of this keyboard first-hand at CES.


Image: Eteknix

The keyboard sports a sleek frameless aesthetic and neutral black-on-metal color scheme, and we have to say the it looks pretty slick. Mushkin says the KB-001 is made from anodized aluminum, and it certainly is shiny. It has per-key RGB LED backlighting, of course, and reportedly uses Kailh Brown keyswitches.

Judging by the images, the keyboard has the usual media keys and Windows-key-lock functions. Mushkin says the keyboard supports N-key rollover, too. If the rumored $70 pricetag is accurate, it's not hard to imagine the KB-001 in our peripheral staff picks.

15 comments — Last by ronch at 12:33 AM on 01/21/17

Report: PC gaming hardware market expands to an all-time high
— 3:58 PM on January 20, 2017

Remember how we used to hear all the time about PC gaming dying? It's been a while since we've heard that sort of chatter, and for good reason. In case you haven't had a look around lately, PC gaming is thriving. According to a report from analyst firm Jon Peddie Research, the PC gaming hardware market broke $30 billion worldwide for the first time ever in 2016.

JPR looked where the growth is occuring and what types of hardware people are buying the most. The Asia-Pacific region saw the most growth overall, while Western European and North American growth focused on high-end hardware. JPR attributes the increased growth in the Asia-Pacific region to a lack of traction by gaming consoles and "an entrenced PC gaming culture."

High-end gaming hardware brought in the bulk of the profits, pulling in over $13 billion in 2016, while mid-range hardware accounted for $10.6 billion. While entry-level hardware is not a minor market at $6.7 billion, it's clear that demand for the best hardware is high, and JPR says that "the western appetite for PC gaming systems costing thousands of dollars is strong."

JPR notes that more and more of our daily computing needs are being taken care of by our phones, and says that as those needs are met, "the PC is ultimately becoming a power user's tool." More and more PC purchases are thus made with gaming in mind.

JPR also offered some thoughts about the draw of PC gaming to explain its faster-than-expected growth. Analyst Ted Pollak offered up reasons like the quality of the gaming experience offered by high-definition and ultra-high-definition monitors, as well as the often-superior controls thanks to mice and keyboards. Additionally, PC gaming's wide variety of hardware options offer more room for expression and customization than ever before. That's hardly new info for PC gamers, but to the companies that read these reports to decide where to focus their money, this data plays a crucial part in guidance.

We think it may be a while before we see any more of those think-pieces on the death-and-doom of PC gaming.

17 comments — Last by ronch at 12:39 AM on 01/21/17

Asus ROG Maximus IX Formula chills with an EKWB waterblock
— 2:30 PM on January 20, 2017

Serious overclockers need serious hardware, and that usually means going with liquid-cooling setups. Given the nature of computer components, though, a good portion of liquid-cooling gear has to be tailored for the hardware it's going to chill. Folks looking to build a seriously-screaming Kaby Lake rig can take a shortcut by picking up the Asus Z270 ROG Maximus IX Formula board with its included EKWB CrossChill II Hybrid waterblock.

EKWB says the waterblock on the Maximus IX offers "air and liquid cooling at the same time," meaning it will do its job even if builders don't hook up their water loop to it. However, doing so can result in big gains. The company says that firing up the water-cooling pipes can reduce the temperature of the power delivery hardware by up to 27°C. The board's integrated copper cooler uses standard G 1/4" fittings. Newegg has the Asus ROG Maximus IX Formula in stock for $390.

1 comment — First by Voldenuit at 4:48 PM on 01/20/17

Asus Tinker Board gives the Raspberry Pi 3 a run for its money
— 1:30 PM on January 20, 2017

Most would say the original Raspberry Pi got the single-board computer craze (SBC) going. Since then, the Raspberry Pi got three major hardware revisions, and the market at large has come up with similar devices in countless flavors, including Orange and Banana. According to Hexus, Asus decided to throw its prodigious engineering muscle into the SBC ring with the cheerfully-named Tinker Board, which one-ups the Raspberry Pi 3 with significant connectivity advantages, double the memory, and higher clock speeds.

Image source: CPC

The Tinker board is powered by a Rockchip RK3288 SoC based on an ARM Cortex-A17 design and running at 1.8 GHz. The Tinker's heart lacks the 64-bit support found in the Pi 3's Broadcom BCM2837 Cortex-A53 chip, but the performance figures Hexus got a hold of show a 3,925-to-2,092 score advantage in GeekBench. Some of that performance difference might be from the 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 memory in the Tinker board, versus the Pi's 1GB of DDR2 at 450Mhz. Asus' board includes 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support. Storage options appear to be limited to microSD cards, just like the Pi.

Those interested in an SBC for a home-brewed media playback machine will like the Tinker's 4K playback support over the HDMI port, via its SoC's Mali-T764 GPU. Asus says its audio solution is superior to the Pi's, with support for 24-bit samples at rates up to 192 kHz. We'll have to wait for third-party testing to hear if the Tinker's analog audio output is an improvement over the Pi's poor singing.

The Tinker Board has the same 3.4" x 2.2" (8.5 cm x 5.6 cm) dimensions as the full-size Raspberry Pis. The 40-pin GPIO header is in the same physical location, but the pinout is unique. We were unable to find official power consumption specifications, but we expect that buyers will need to provide more juice than they would for a Pi 3. In any case, software support is generally more important than hardware in ARM-based SBCs. Asus says the Tinker will support Debian Linux and that the device will be able to run the Kodi media software.

The Tinker Board is available now from several European resellers, though prices are not consistent. We reached out to Asus for a US release date, and we're told to expect the Tinker Board to hit US shores on January 30. The device appears to be selling for £46 before VAT in England, or about $57. As a comparison, the Pi 3 goes for £33 plus VAT in England and $35 in the US.

23 comments — Last by willmore at 8:28 PM on 01/20/17

Deals of the week: high-powered graphics cards, monitors, and more
— 12:00 PM on January 20, 2017

At last, gerbils. 'Tis Friday, and you know what that means. The cream of the crop, the bee's knees, the sweetest juice from the landscape of online PC hardware stores, distilled down to its essence here. Today's edition is jam-packed with high-powered hardware and peripherals, so get your racing helmet on. Let's hit the road.

  • We're kicking this off with the biggest items (literally)—a pair of AOC gaming monitors. The first one we have is the AOC AG271QX. This TN display has a 2560x1440 resolution and a speedy 144Hz refresh rate. To top off the main specs, there's FreeSync support on tap, making this display a great entry into high-speed, variable-refresh-rate gaming. The AG271QX also offers a fully-adjustable stand with an integrated headphone holder, built-in speakers, and a "low input lag" mode. You can grab one at Newegg for $439.99 after promo code EMCRBCR33.
     
  • The second monitor on display is similar... but different. The AOC AG271QG also has a 2560x1440 resolution, but its refresh rate is a whopping 165Hz. The display has a VA panel with a quoted 4ms response time. That panel should offer excellent color reproduction, and if the "G" in the model name didn't give it away, this monitor has support for G-Sync variable refresh rate tech. Aside from that, the AG271QG offers the same adjustable stand and speakers as its FreeSync brother. Newegg is selling it for $619.99 if you use promo code EMCRBCR34.
     
  • Now, we have the graphics cards to power those fine displays. Let's start from the bottom. The MSI RX 480 8GB Armor is a fine example of the breed, with its two big Torx fans and a boost clock speed of 1291 MHz. Newegg is running a deal on this card, and you can get one for only $219.99. There's an additional $20 on offer by way of a rebate card.
     
  • The Gigabyte GTX 1070 G1 Gaming is a triple-fanned beast with a boost clock of 1882MHz in its OC mode and RGB LED lighting. We're big fans of Gigabyte's Windforce 3X cooler atop this card, too. You can grab this puppy from Newegg for only $399.99, an excellent deal for a GTX 1070 of this caliber.
     
  • There's no kill like overkill, and few things fit that description more than the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW. This card has two pretty-large fans atop it, a metal backplate, and RGB LED lighting. The GPU can hit a boost clock of 1860MHz, but judging from my own experiences with it, it'll often go way farther than that on its own. It's a speedy thing, no doubt about it, and Newegg will sell you one for $609.99. There's a $20 rebate card on offer to sweeten the deal further.
     
  • RAM prices may have risen sharply, but G.Skill is apparently resisting that change as much as it can. The G.Skill Ripjaws V 32GB DDR4 kit, with two 16GB DIMMs clocked at 2400 MT/s, is just the ticket for a system with gobs of RAM to spare for anything you care to throw at it. Pick up this kit for $159.99 at Newegg.
     
  • Last but certainly not least, we have a nice chassis for the system you're certainly surely going to build with some of the parts above. The Corsair Carbide 600C is a sleek-looking case with an "inverted ATX" design with the power supply resting in the top section. The exterior is made of good ol' steel, and the acrylic side panel is actually a door. Needless to say, the case is gorgeous. Corsair includes three AF140L fans in it, and if you choose to go the liquid-cooling route, the 600C can take in a 280-mm radiator at the front and a 360-mm unit on the bottom. Newegg will happily sell you this case for $129.99 with an extra free fan. As if that deal wasn't sweet enough on its own, there's a $20 rebate card available.

That's it for today, folks! If you found any sweet online deals that we missed, please share them with your gerbil brethren in the comments section below.

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.

10 comments — Last by Airmantharp at 8:22 PM on 01/20/17

Eurocom Tornado F5 SE mobile server can eat desktops for lunch
— 11:30 AM on January 20, 2017

Eurocom's Tornado F5 SE looks like a standard desktop replacement-style laptop that you might find on a shelf in a big box electronics store. However, its unassuming all-black chassis hides hardware that's fairly unique in portable systems, and the company believes these bits give it the leeway to call the F5 a "mobile server." The eye of the Tornado is a choice among three Intel Xeon E3 v5 four-core, eight-thread Skylake-based CPUs. The processor communicates with the system's parts through an Intel C236 server chipset, which is certainly uncommon in laptops.

Eurocom offers nine different Nvidia GeForce and Quadro graphics options, from the base Quadro M1000M up to a Pascal-based M5000M with 8GB of VRAM. The machine has four SODIMM slots for taking in up to 64GB of DDR4. While Xeon E3 CPUs offer support for ECC memory, Eurocom doesn't appear to show it as on option for the Tornado. Storage configurations include a host of devices for populating the machine's pair of M.2 slots and single 2.5" drive bay.

The Tornado may appear compact when compared to a 1U server chasis, but the 15.6" x 10.7" x 1.6" (39 cm x 27 cm x 4 cm) dimensions and 6.5 lb (2.92 kg) weight are fairly substantial compared to many other laptops. That bulk is necessary to pack all the desktop-class parts and the 15.6" screen, which is available in 1920x1080 and 3840x2160 flavors.

The F5 is not left wanting for connectivity options. The machine can drive up to four displays including the integrated panel. Gigabit Ethernet comes by way of a Qualcomm solution, and buyers get to choose between five different Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules. The laptop has a single Thunderbolt 3 port and three USB 3.0 Type-A connectors.

While the CPU, chipset, and graphics options certainly make the Tornado sound like a server-class system, the lack of ECC support in the memory options chips away at Eurocom's "mobile server" claim a bit—as does the company's description of the laptop's battery as an "integrated UPS."

The Eurocom Tornado F5 SE can be custom-configured right away. Prices start at $2,000 without an operating system. Virtually every aspect of the machine can be customized to the buyer's performance requirements, so the upper bound on pricing is sky-high.

11 comments — Last by Airmantharp at 9:44 PM on 01/20/17

Microsoft releases Pix DX12 tuning and debugging tool for Windows
— 10:00 AM on January 20, 2017

For three generations of Xbox consoles, game developers have used Microsoft's Pix tool for graphics performance tuning and debugging. Microsoft says that developers looking to work with its DirectX 12 API have been asking for a similar tool. Now, the company has released a beta version of Pix for Windows 10.

The purpose of Pix is to allow developers to carefully scrutinize the steps of the graphics rendering process. Pix has five primary operating modes that provide data capture of data regarding the GPU, timing, function summary, callgraph, and memory allocation. By using these tools, devs can get a deep and detailed look at the how their applications' graphics rendering is timed, analyse CPU and GPU performance and threading, and obtain detailed information of prime importance for optimization and debugging.

Pix should be useful for just about anyone developing a DirectX 12 game or app. Since this version of Pix is based on the Xbox release, it's likely that the tool will be particularly helpful for those looking to simultaneously develop titles for PC and Xbox. The software is still in beta, so there's a lengthy list of features that Microsoft still wants to add, but it's immediately available for interested folks to download and try out.

17 comments — Last by LostCat at 6:40 PM on 01/20/17

Cryorig's QF140 fans offer a choice of silence or performance
— 9:06 AM on January 20, 2017

Cooling company Cryorig has unveiled a pair of new fans based on its existing QF120 series, but in an enlarged 140-mm form factor. Where Cyrorig offered three models in the QF120, though, the QF140 line is shaved down to two simple choices: QF140 Performance or QF140 Silent.

The QF140 Performance is the one you really don't want to stick your fingers into. The fan can rotate from 600 RPM to 1,850 RPM, and should output 128 CFM of air with 38 dBA of noise when running at the maximum speed. Cryorig suggests pairing this fan with 280-mm radiators and systems in need of especially high airflow.

At the other end of the range, the QF120 Silent can run from 200 RPM to 1,000 RPM while pushing a more modest 42 CFM. With a noise range from 9 dB to 19.5 dBA, it seems like the QF140 Silent should live up to its name when compared to its noisier sibling.

The basic internals of the QF140 fans are similar to those of the QF120 line. Like its predecessor, the QF140 has air intakes spots in each corner of the fan's rim. Cryorig claims this allows the fan to take in extra air and increase overall output. The new model also keeps the "High-Precision Low-Noise" fluid bearings and rubber vibration absorption pads that Cyrorig claims help make its fans quieter than the competition.

Both the QF140 Performance and Silent are on sale right now at sites like Newegg for $14.99 each.

16 comments — Last by tsk at 1:21 AM on 01/21/17

Radeon Pro Duo price drops could herald Vega's arrival
— 3:30 PM on January 19, 2017

When the dual-chip Radeon Pro Duo initially launched, AMD presented it as a premium GPGPU compute card rather than as a graphics accelerator. It's certainly easier to fill up Fiji's 4096 shaders with compute work than with graphics tasks. Along with its Pro label, the card got a professional-tier price: $1,499. Perhaps in anticipation of the new Vega high-end graphics processors from AMD, Newegg has an XFX-built Pro Duo marked down to just $799.

There's no denying that the Pro Duo is a beast of a graphics card in every sense of the word. The paired full-fat Fiji GPUs—the same chips found individually on the R9 Fury X—give the card a peak FP32 compute throughput of over 16 TFLOPs. Officially, the TDP of the Pro Duo is 350W. Still, it takes three eight-pin power connectors, giving it a maximum potential power draw of 525W. XFX recommends an 850W power supply to drive the card.

The R9 Fury X holds its ground remarkably well against the newer Pascal parts, nipping at the heels of the GTX 1070 in our review of that card. The Pro Duo is closer to a pair of R9 Nanos, but a pair of them should still pound most games into the ground, even in 4K resolution. Plus, this is currently the absolute fastest graphics card in the world that supports FreeSync. While other online sellers have yet to follow Newegg's lead yet, we suspect prices on this card might fall rapidly as we approach Vega's summer-of-2017 launch window.

25 comments — Last by jts888 at 3:48 PM on 01/20/17

Seagate lets loose 1TB and 2TB Enterprise hard drives
— 1:30 PM on January 19, 2017

Yes, that headline is correct. No, you didn't "Quantum Leap" back to the halcyon days of the first terabyte-capacity hard drives. Seagate is actually releasing 3.5" magnetic hard drives for the enterprise market in 1TB and 2TB capacities, built for data centers with replicated servers and legacy solutions that require 512-byte sectors. The drives spin at 7,200 RPM and sport 6Gbps SATA interfaces, rather than the 12Gbps SAS interface commonly found on server drives. The drives employ conventional magnetic recording rather than the trickier and slower shingled magnetic recording.

The new drives aren't going to light the world on fire with 194 MB/s maximum transfer rates or 4.16ms latency, but those specs are hardly the point. The key in the server arena is reliability in 24/7 continuous operation and the ability to withstand the vibration of being packed in an array of many drives. To that end, Seagate touts "industry-leading rotational vibration design" to ensure consistent performance in dense systems.

Some gerbils are probably clacking their claws against keyboards to ask why an SSD isn't a better choice when vibration is a concern and low capacity isn't a problem. Besides having 512-byte sectors, these drives are rated to write 550 TB per year and hopefully make it through a five-year warranty. Just yesterday we reported on tests that showed Intel's 600p 256GB SSD biting the dust after just less than 110 TB of total writes—a number that's well beyond what power users need but falls short of what a server might require. Mean time between failure is listed as two million hours.

In other Seagate-related news, reports are circulating that the company is closing its largest drive production plant, the 1.1 million-square-foot facility in Suzhou, China. The company is reportedly laying 2,200 employees at the plant, which was opened in 2004. The move appears to be part of Seagate's plan to reduce its global staff by a head count of 6,500.

Several websites are offering the new Seagate drives for sale. The 1TB drive appears to go for around $100 and the 2TB model lists for just under $145. These prices may seem high, but consumer hard drives lack some of the features these drives have, like improved vibration handling and RAID-tuned firmware.

22 comments — Last by Takeshi7 at 5:48 PM on 01/20/17

Biostar B250 motherboards enter the race
— 1:00 PM on January 19, 2017

We shared news about Biostar's Z270 Racing motherboards with you gerbils a couple of days ago, and now we are back again to spill the beans on the company's motherboards based on Intel's B250 chipset. There are two boards on offer: the full-fat ATX Racing B250GT5 and the pint-sized microATX B250GT3. Both models support Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs and sport four DDR4 DIMM slots alongside six SATA ports and a pair of M.2 slots.

The GT3 and the GT5 have the same black-and-gray racing flag checkerboard print on the board itself, along with a carbon fiber-like finish on the VRM and chipset heatsinks. Users can customize their boards' look with the integrated Vivid LED DJ lighting. RGB LEDs are embedded in the VRM heatsink and on the edge of the motherboard near the expansion cards. The light show can be expanded via a pair of 5050 RGB LED headers.

The bigger GT5 has a few extra features over the GT3, including a pair of PCI (non-Express) slots, a VGA output, and a USB Type-C port. The GT5 also has a higher-end ALC892 sound chip and a full complement of audio ports, while the GT3 makes do with a Realtek ALC887 chip and only three mini-jack outputs.

For those who don't follow all of the details in Intel's desktop chipsets, the differences between B250 and the flagship Z270 are relatively minor. The biggest item that enthusiasts may be concerned about is the lack of overclocking support on the B250. Biostar doesn't mention Crossfire or SLI support for these motherboards, but given reports that under five percent of gamers have multiple graphics cards, this omission likely doesn't matter much.

Biostar says the Racing B250GT5 will cost $110 bundled with one of the company's Vivid LED fans. The Racing B250GT3 will ring in at a more affordable $80, but doesn't include the fancy fan.

13 comments — Last by rudimentary_lathe at 9:07 AM on 01/20/17

Samsung's Android 7.0 rollout starts with the Galaxy S7
— 11:30 AM on January 19, 2017

Samsung announced today that its rollout of Android 7.0 Nougat is underway. Surprising no one, the company's current flagship models Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are leading the charge into the future. The Nougat update puts those handsets in sparsely-populated territory occupied by the HTC 10, the HTC One M9, the Moto Z, the LG G5, a bunch of Nexus devices, and the Pixel.

Android 7.0 brings a bunch of improvements to Android devices, including built-in split-screen functionality. Some vendors (including Samsung) already had their own multi-window implementation, but the standardized version could prove more reliable. Nougat also includes Daydream VR support and a pack of business-oriented device management features collectively called "Google for Work." Samsung doesn't mention either of those items in its announcement, so it's unclear if they are coming to the Galaxy S7 handsets.

Samsung's update also adds a Performance Mode option to the S7 and S7 Edge. Android 7.0 already comes with a "sustained performance mode" that developers can use, but Samsung's feature adds Game, Entertainment, and High Performance modes alongside a default Optimized mode. According to the company, Game Mode will make games run more smoothly, Entertainment mode "enhances sound and image quality," and High Performance mode allows for "the highest quality display settings possible."

Samsung says it intends to roll out the update to a few more of its handsets within the next six months, including the Galaxy S6 family, the Note 5, the Tab A, the Tab S2, the Galaxy A3, and the Galaxy A8. Here's to hoping those updates come sooner rather than later.

16 comments — Last by DPete27 at 8:55 AM on 01/20/17

Sixa Rivvr wireless kit is ready for all VR headsets
— 9:58 AM on January 19, 2017

While it's still hard to tell if VR is going to become a permanent part of our electronics landscape, the first generation of headsets has pretty much established itself. Accessory makers are now working on ways to cut the headset's wiring. TPCast has a wireless kit for the HTC Vive, while Zotac wants to put a PC on your back and pack it with batteries. Sixa is the latest company to that party with its Rivvr Wireless VR Upgrade Kit. Sixa makes some ambitious claims about its wireless system, saying it's compatible with all modern VR headsets," easy to set up, and has "zero latency."

Where the TPCast Vive-specific kit we looked at recently comes with additional tracking hardware, the Rivvr transmits your movements over 2.4GHz or 5Ghz Wi-Fi connection. In an interview with Tom's Hardware, Sixa CEO Mykola Minchenko says the Rivvr currently adds about 11ms of latency, and that the company expects to bring that down to 6ms by the time the hardware launches. Both figures are well under the 20ms latency marker that John Carmack says is good enough for most people.

Tom's Hardware's Kevin Carbotte writes that he sat in on a video conference session and watched a demonstration in which Sixa CTO Ievgen Nechaiev played with Tilt Brush and Space Pirate Trainer on the HTC Vive, claiming that the kit doesn't appear to introduce any noticable latency. As Carbotte notes, though, he didn't try the kit himself.

The Rivvr will come in two variants: a head-mounted pack that offers 3 hours of battery life, and a belt-mounted unit that can juice up the transmitter for 5 hours. Although Sixa claims the Rivvr will be universally-compatible with all headsets, the company only mentions the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive by name.

According to Tom's, Sixa's main business is "cloud-based desktop hosting." The company would like to eventually use its expertise to untether VR from the PC altogether, offering fully-streamed experiences that require just a headset, the Rivvr, and a Wi-Fi connection. Those of us that use game streaming services may be more than a little skeptical, given their inherent latency.

The two Rivvr models are available for pre-order right now through the company's website. The head-mounted pack offers 3 hours of battery life and goes for $200, while the belt-mounted pack brings the time up to 5 hours and will set you back $250. Assuming the Rivvr lives up to Sixa's claims, it may be the cheapest, simplest wireless VR kit yet. Sixa expects the Rivvr to ship by the end of this spring.

9 comments — Last by psuedonymous at 8:40 AM on 01/20/17

Tinkerer builds his own LCD case side panel
— 9:00 AM on January 19, 2017

Some of us see a cool hardware design and immediately open our wallets. Others start devising plans for making that product themselves. One such self-described "tinkerer" is Joshua Dennis of website Pixel Six Designs. Like us, Joshua was intrigued by the translucent LCD side panel on iBuypower's Snowblind gaming PC. Unlike us, though, Joshua made one for himself. Here's his process:

Joshua started the project with a 16" AOC USB-powered monitor that he stripped down to the LCD panel. He customized a sheet of acrylic to serve as the new side panel for his case, and cut out a hole for the display. The display needs considerable lighting behind it in order for its images to be visible, so he attached two LED strips to the side panel, and six more inside the case. The display's cable runs out of the back of the case.

Windows sees the display as a third monitor, giving Joshua freedom to put just about whatever he likes on his side panel. He noted that it's possible for his mouse cursor to end up on the case, but has the screen layout in Windows arranged so that it's unlikely to happen.


Source: Pixel Six Designs

Since a brighter interior would help make the display more readable, Joshua has plans for spray-painting some of the surfaces, like the ones currently occupied by EVGA's logos. As it stands, however, black and white text and images work well on the display. His temperature readout system looks pretty sharp and is powered by Rainmeter and NZXT Cam.

Aside from the tools and base material for the side panel, the materials for Joshua's project cost a little over $160. If iBuypower's rig is a little too expensive for your taste, Joshua's project might be worth a try. Besides, he says it was a very easy project. What could go wrong?

3 comments — Last by kamikaziechameleon at 8:25 AM on 01/20/17

Leica M10 further refines rangefinders for the digital age
— 3:30 PM on January 18, 2017

Mirrorless cameras may be all the rage in digital photography right now, but Leica has been cranking out shots without the benefit of a reflex mirror for the better part of 100 years. Its latest M rangefinder, the M10, slims down to the same 33.75-mm depth as the Leica M4 film camera of the 1960s, and it gives photographers more direct control with a dedicated ISO dial on its top plate.

The M10 also boasts an improved 24-MP full-frame sensor with a maximum ISO sensitivity of 50,000. Leica claims this sensor deals better with light arriving at extreme angles relative to the sensor plane, a move that might reduce color shifts at the edges of images captured with extreme wide-angle lenses. Finally, the M10 has integrated Wi-Fi for transferring images to iOS devices (an Android app is apparently coming soon). The rangefinder faithful can pre-order an M10 now for $6,595 in chrome or black finishes.

15 comments — Last by Pettytheft at 3:01 PM on 01/19/17

NZXT adds purple-and-white finishes to its hardware catalog
— 2:51 PM on January 18, 2017

People who really like the color purple (or perhaps Kinzie Kensington) will be pleased to see NZXT's latest additions to its catalog. The company took to Twitter to announce white-and-purple versions of its S340 and H440 ATX cases, along with matching HUE+ lighting controllers and cable-routing pucks.

Even if the new color scheme it isn't as flashy as something like the Hyper Beast, we still think it looks pretty neat. It's also a breath of fresh air in the mass of black-and-red cases. The white color comes in a matte finish, which should help it blend in more easily than the common refrigerator-white. It might be trickier to pick components that won't clash with the rich purple hue, though. Maybe one of those MSI Quick Silver cards would do, or gear that comes with much-loved RGB LED lighting.

The new hardware is available from NZXT's site for the price as the other company's other color options. That puts the S340 case at $70, the H440 chassis at $120, the HUE+ controller at $60, and the Puck at $20. 

11 comments — Last by CScottG at 4:13 PM on 01/19/17

Asus shows off Zenbook 3 Deluxe UX490A in detail
— 12:50 PM on January 18, 2017

We gave Asus' refreshed Zenbook 3 Deluxe a brief mention during CES earlier this month. We now have the full details on the machine, whose full name is Zenbook 3 Deluxe UX490UA. As it turns out, the changes from the original Zenbook 3 go significantly deeper than just a Kaby Lake CPU swap and the addition of a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports.

First off, the UX490UA gets a boost in screen size from 12.5" to 14" along with a four-speaker audio system, while retaining roughly the same external dimensions. The apex model is powered by an Intel Core i7-7500U dual-core, four-thread CPU and 16GB of LPDDR3 memory. A 1080p 14" IPS display covered in Gorilla Glass 5 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi round out the range-topping model's specs. Those seeking the UX490UA's build and style but with tamer performance needs can save money by picking an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU and 8GB of memory.

Storage options for the range range from a 256GB SATA SSD to a 1TB NVMe storage device. The laptop packs a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports for high-speed connectivity to external displays or other devices. Those ports can also be used to charge the machine's 46-Wh battery from a fully depleted state to a 60% charge in less than 50 minutes. Asus claims that a fully-charged battery can power the laptop for ten hours.

Asus is proud of the Zenbook 3 Deluxe's compact dimensions and style. The machine measures 13" x 8.5" x 0.5" (33 cm x 22 cm x 13 cm) and weighs a svelte 2.4 lbs (or 1.1 kg). The company says the all-aluminum unibody requires 40 steps to manufacture and that the two-tone color scheme requires a two-phase anodizing process. Haters of the keyboards found in some ultra-thin laptops might find some respite in the UX490UA's backlit keyboard with 1.2-mm key travel.

Asus didn't offer pricing or availability information, but we would imagine the Deluxe version will cost more than its predecessor. The comparably-equipped Zenbook 3 UX390UA with a Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a 512GB PCIe SSD is available now for $1,540 on Amazon. Buyers will have the option of getting the Zenbook 3 Deluxe with a navy blue or silver finish.

54 comments — Last by kamikaziechameleon at 8:48 AM on 01/20/17

Tom's Hardware hammers an Intel 600p SSD for science
— 11:38 AM on January 18, 2017

Intel's first stab at making an affordable PCIe NVMe storage device resulted in last summer's crop of 600p-series SSDs packing 3D TLC flash. The company offers these drives in four capacities ranging from 128GB up to 1TB, but curiously launched them with the same 72 TBW endurance level for all versions. Those numbers were revised later on with figures as high as 576 TBW. TR has previously shown that most SSDs are capable of reliably writing data far past their specified endurance rating. Now, Chris Ramseyer over at Tom's Hardware decided to see what would happen if he pushed an Intel 600p 256GB drive to the bloody limit, and then shared the results with the world.

In our testing, a now somewhat-ancient Intel 335 Series 240 GB SSD was able to write just over 700TB of random data before its internal monitors triggered autophagy. At the very end of its life, the drive went into a read-only state, and after a reboot, the data on it was completely inaccessible. For testing the 600p 256GB unit, Tom's used an even harsher torture test with non-stop 4K write operations.

Bearing the difference in testing methods in mind, it's still a little surprising to see that the 600p that Tom's tested switched to read-only mode after less than 110TB of writes. On a brighter note, the data on the drive was recoverable even after the drive was unpowered for a full thirty days. The Intel 600p 256GB drive bears an endurance rating of 144 TBW, though that figure is almost certainly not derived from the extremely punishing methods used in Tom's testing.

Ramseyer's report includes additional information about the drive's performance degradation nearing its time of death, as well as more general information about the SSD's error-checking and correction. The piece is an interesting read and well worth checking out.

50 comments — Last by Freon at 9:51 AM on 01/20/17

Antec Cube Mini-ITX chassis gets EKWB-certified
— 10:10 AM on January 18, 2017

I haven't built a liquid-cooled rig since the days of the Athlon Thunderbird, but if I did, I'd probably be ordering most of the parts for it from Slovenia. EKWB is a foremost name when it comes to liquid-cooling gear, and the company has now graced Antec's Mini-ITX Cube case with its certification. Along with that bit of news, Antec has announced that builders can now purchase the Cube devoid of any branding.

In case you missed it last time, the Cube is a Mini-ITX case that sets the power supply in its own compartment apart from the rest of the PC. This makes the case a bit larger than most ITX enclosures, but may also make for better cooling performance. Builders can hook up to six fans to the included fan hub. Antec includes a 120-mm white-LED fan in the case's rear, although that mount can also take in a 140-mm spinner. Up front, builders can attach two 120-mm fans, a 140-mm spinner, or a 180-mm unit. Of course, given the EKWB certification, the case will also accept a 240-mm liquid-cooling radiator in the front and a 140-mm radiator in the rear.

The somewhat oddly-named Cube can swallow graphics cards up to 13.7" (35 cm) in length. Despite being a Mini-ITX case, the Cube offers three expansion slots. That should ensure that even the fattest graphics cards will fit. In the event that builders don't want to go the liquid-cooling route, the Cube can fit CPU coolers up to 7.5" (19 cm) tall. Finally, the case includes the expected RGB LED accents on its front and underside. Antec says the Cube is now available for purchase.

1 comment — First by short_fuze at 12:16 PM on 01/18/17

iBuypower Snowblind is a fresh take on case side panels
— 9:08 AM on January 18, 2017

Yes, it's colorful and it glows, but we promise it's not RGB LEDs this time around. This is iBuypower's Snowblind, a gaming PC equipped with a translucent side panel with an LCD screen. It generated some buzz at CES this year, and it's now available for preorder. Take a look.

The screen on the Snowblind's side panel is protected by a layer of tempered glass. The panel has a resolution of 1280x1024, and connects to the videocard through a DVI cable. iBuypower claims that users can put whatever they want on the display, since Windows treats it as a secondary monitor. The widgets displayed in the demo video use the open-source desktop customization software Rainmeter. In the Snowblind's FAQ, iBuypower says that it's even possible for users to play games on the side panel, though the company doesn't truly recommend it.

iBuypower sells the Snowblind as a prebuilt machine. The hardware options are fairly numerous but also narrowed-down to white or silver components so that the transparent display's images are shown as clearly as possible. That requirement still leaves a wide range of options on the table, though. Buyers can pick graphics cards among the MSI Armor OC GeForce GTX 1070, MSI Quicksilver GeForce GTX 1070, or MSI Armor OC GeForce GTX 1080. Any of those choices can come as a pair for an SLI configuration.

Motherboard options also come from MSI—either the frosty-white Z270 Tomahawk Arctic, or the Z270 XPower Gaming Titanium with its SLI support. iBuypower offers a wide range of Intel's latest Kaby Lake processors up to and including the Core i7-7700K. The CPU can be paired with up to 64GB of DDR4, and there are too many storage options to list by name. That's before mentioning the twenty-one options for the power supply, too.

The Snowblind is available for preorder in three customizable base configurations. The most budget-friendly option starts at $1,500 and includes Intel's Core i5-7400 and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070. The most expensive option starts at $2,500 and boasts a Core i7-7700K and a GTX 1080. The machines can be preordered right away, and iBuypower expects they'll ship by the end of February. According to a report by Gamers Nexus, it's possible that the case may be offered as a standalone unit from $200 to 250.

17 comments — Last by tipoo at 9:25 AM on 01/19/17