|Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition: an overview||28|
|MSI's GP62 7REX Leopard Pro gaming laptop reviewed||19|
|The Tech Report's 2017 Christmas gift guide||52|
Google has pulled the plug on its Project Tango augmented reality project, putting the knowledge gleaned during its development into ARCore, a "fast, performant, Android-scale SDK" that lets developers create augmented reality applications across a broad range of hardware. The search giant is now launching the second ARCore Developer Preview. While Project Tango required specific hardware in order to function, Google says ARCore will work on over 100 million devices when version 1.0 launches.
Among many other experiments, ARCore is the technology behind the AR Stickers feature on Google's Pixel phones. The second Developer Preview contains a new C API for use with the Android Native Development Kit that complements Java, Unity, and Unreal SDKs already in place. The Preview also includes functionality for pausing and resuming AR sessions, as well as improved accuracy and efficiency in the anchor, plane finding, and point cloud APIs.
Project Tango was launched in 2014 with the goal of using computer vision to detect user position without relying on GPS or other external signals. The project yielded a pair of development devices dubbed Peanut and Yellowstone, and later, two commercial devices, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR.
ARCore Developer Preview 2 is available for coders and hackers now. Google expects the platform to reach 1.0 status "in the coming months."Thermaltake Sync box bridges RGB LED walled gardens
Imagine you're building a new PC using an RGB LED-encrusted motherboard and a matching video card. But then, you find a killer deal on Thermaltake coolers, power supplies, and fans with their own RGB LED controllers. Left unable to synchronize the sets of lights, you're forced to have a mismatched lightshow in your case. Thermaltake just announced the Thermaltake Sync Controller TT Premium Edition to fix that. This nine-port LED controller hub can accept inputs from Asus, Gigabyte, or MSI LED headers to synchronize the lights across Thermaltake devices.
Apologies to those upset by the nightmare circumstance described above. The new Sync Controller takes a standard SATA power connector to drive the nine devices you can connect to it. Compatible Thermaltake devices seem to include most of the company's RGB LED hardware including the Riing Plus fans, the Pacific and Floe Riing liquid coolers, and the Pacific Lumi Plus LED strips.
You can connect the Controller to any Asus Aura, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, or MSI Mystic Light header. After that, you simply control the RGB LED devices connected to the Sync Controller using your motherboard or video card software. The controller includes three PWM signal cables and two motherboard signal bridge cables to make sure you can get everything hooked up without sacrificing connectivity to other devices.
The Thermaltake Sync Controller TT Premium Edition hasn't shown up at general e-tail yet, but you can pick it up right now at Thermaltake's own web shop for $25.Intel tips off potential 960 GB and 1.5 TB Optane SSD 900Ps
I was pretty impressed with the performance of Intel's Optane caching solution when I messed around with MSI's Aegis 3 gaming desktop. Still, some folks aren't going to be satisfied with a simple Optane accelerator. If you're in that category, the Optane SSD 900P is your jam, and you have a choice between 280 GB or 480 GB models. What, that's not enough storage? Hang on a bit, then, because an Intel document suggests that 960 GB and 1.5 TB models of the 3D Xpoint-equipped SSD could be on their way.
In Product Change Notification (PCN) 115990-00, Intel notes updates to the labeling of Optane 900P SSDs, as well as updated current draw figures. The power figures given for the existing 280 GB and 480 GB models are slightly lower than before, but the real interesting note is that the chart, reproduced below, also includes figures for as-yet-unannounced 960 GB and 1.5 TB models.
There's little else of note in the PCN. The document doesn't elaborate on what form factors in which the higher-capacity Optane SSDs might come, but it does list the existing products. It seems that the only model available in the slightly cheaper 2.5" form factor (with U.2 for connectivity) is the 280 GB model, at least for now.
If pricing on the new SSDs is in line with the existing 280 GB and 480 GB models, we could reasonably expect the 960GB model to go for around $1200, and the 1.5TB model to run somewhere around $1800. Those prices might seem exorbitant, but given the performance of Optane SSDs, they're really not a bad deal. We're looking forward to seeing more 3D Xpoint memory on the market, in any case.Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX Vegas put a big chill on spicy-hot chips
We've already seen custom Radeon RX Vega cards from AMD-exclusive board partners PowerColor and XFX, and now it's Sapphire's turn at the wheel. The company has announced its Nitro+ Radeon RX Vega 56 8G HBM2 and Nitro+ Radeon RX Vega 64 8G HBM2 graphics cards, and those rather long-winded names suggest extra-spicy clocks. Both models are dressed in a custom vapor-chamber cooler topped off with three of the blue jewel brand's Quick Connect dual-ball-bearing fans.
The Nitro+ Radeon Vega 56 hasa base clock of 1305 MHz, significantly up from AMD's reference spec of 1156 MHz. The boost clock has also been raised from the reference 1471 MHz all the way up to 1572 MHz. Those figures are actually higher than those of AMD's reference air-cooled Radeon RX Vega 64. The 8 GB of HBM2 memory hums along at the same 800 MHz as the reference RX Vega 56.
The 8 GB of HBM2 memory in Sapphire's custom Vega 64 card also runs at the same 945 MHz speed as its reference equivalent. The GPU's 4096 SPs cruise along at a 1423 MHz base clock, boosting to at least 1611 MHz when conditions allow. For comparison, AMD's reference air-cooled Vega 64 has a base clocks of 1247 MHz and a boost clock of 1546 MHz. For those keeping score at home, the water-cooled reference board has 1406 MHz base and 1677 MHz boost clocks.
The two outer fans astride the Vapor-X cooler are encircled with RGB LEDs in case users want to add some color to the cards' otherwise subdued black-and-silver color scheme. The Quick Connect fans can be popped out and replaced easily if necessary in order to avoid annoying RMA shipments in case there's a problem. Sapphire's Trixx 3.0 software can keep track of fan operation and control the light show from the shroud's RGB lights. The board also has a pair of four-pin fan headers for connecting chassis fans to spin up and down in time with the spinny-whirlies on the card.
Builders will need to allow three expansions slots for these cards. Both versions measure 12.2" long, 5.2" wide, and a whopping 2.1" thick (31 cm x 13 cm x 5.4 cm). The accessory kit includes a bracket to support the end of the board and eliminate unsightly graphics card sag. The output section on either card has a pair of HDMI connectors and two DisplayPorts, a departure from the reference boards' three DisplayPorts and single HDMI jack.
Sapphire says the Nitro+ Radeon RX Vega56 8G HBM2 requires a 750 W power supply and the Nitro+ Radeon RX Vega64 8G HBM2 needs an even larger 850 W unit. By our reckoning, Sapphire's talking about quality PSUs, too, not figure-inflated cheap units. Either way, buyers will need to connect three eight-pin PCIe power connectors to get the Vega party started. We don't have pricing or availability information for the RX Vega 56 version, but Tom's Hardware says that the Nitro+ RX Vega 64 should have a $659 price tag.Antec P110 Silent touts quiet looks and quiet operation
Do you loathe noisy fans, despise tempered glass, and swear off RGB LEDs? Antec has the case for you. The Antec P110 Silent is the latest in the company's silent-running Performance Series, and rarely have we seen a case simultaneously so featureless and feature-filled.
The P110 Silent is what we would generally call a mid-tower ATX case. Like most modern cases, it mounts its power supply in a separate chamber in the bottom. Don't be fooled by the thumbscrews on the side, though: the entire class is built from steel and aluminum with bits of ABS plastic here and there. Both side panels are covered in noise-absorbing foam, and all of the fan intakes have removable filters. The P110 includes magnetic covers for the top vent to maximize noise reduction at the cost of a bit of extra airflow.
Aside from the nearly-featureless black exterior and noise-reducing features, the P110 Silent is a pretty basic case. You can install two 2.5" drives and up to six 3.5" drives inside. It has eight expansion slots, in case you were planning to install four big graphics cards. Alternatively, you can turn your graphics card sideways, although we can't imagine that will have good effects on its airflow given the amount of side-panel clearance that mount seems to offer.
Speaking of airflow, the P110 Silent will take a surprising number of spinners for a silent case. It includes one 120-mm fan in the front and one in the back. You can install two more in the front and two in the top if you like. Alternatively, you can install a pair of 140-mm fans in the front and top. Liquid-cooling enthusiasts can mount a 360-mm radiator in the front, a 280-mm radiator in the top, and a 120-mm radiator in the back.
Antec actually already sells a version of this case with a glass side panel called the P110 Luce. That model is for sale at Newegg for $110 before a $20 mail-in rebate. The company says the P110 Silent will be in stores shortly for around the same price.Updated LG Gram laptops put heavy-duty power into feathery bodies
As much as we like the extra boost in performance afforded by Coffee Lake CPUs' two extra cores compared to their Kaby Lake predecessors, the benefit of extra cores to Intel's ultrabook processors is even more substantial. LG is the latest company to realize this, and it's just announced a refresh to its Gram ultrabook series that reduces the size and weight of its laptops even further despite the two extra CPU cores inside.
The Gram series includes models with 13.3", 14", and 15.6" displays. Naturally, all use IPS panels. The updated laptops use all the tricks in the book to reduce their size (like wrapping the display in an extremely slim bezel), but the real story is their weight. LG says that the casing on the new machines is entirely constructed from "Nano Carbon Magnesium." Perhaps because of that, the Gram laptops are indeed very light: 2.1 lb (0.96 kg) for the 13.3" model, 2.2 lb (1 kg) for the 14" model, and 2.4 lb for the 15.6" model (just 1.09 kg).
LG doesn't share many specifics about the hardware inside the updated Gram models. Apparently you'll be able to buy one of the lightweight laptops with an eighth-generation Core i5 or i7 processor and one or two SSDs inside. The machines come with touchscreens, fingerprint readers, and Thunderbolt 3 ports as standard equipment. The high-capacity 72 Wh battery in the new Grams should be good for a claimed 22.5 hours between charges on the the 13.3" version, 21.5 hours on the 14" model, and 19 hours on the 15.6" machine, though we expect real-life figures to be much lower.
LG will be showing the new Grams at the Consumer Electronics Show starting on January 9 in Las Vegas. The laptops should hit stores shortly after that.Monkey Day Shortbread
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Hello, gerbils! I have a request for you today. I'm going to have a horizontal "wisdom" tooth (yes, really) pulled today, so I'll have an hour of two of horrible suffering followed by a few days of pain and eating mostly Queal. So if you have any best wishes, prayers, or positive thoughts, send them my way. On a happier note, here's today's collection of hardware deals. We have a wide selection, so get your credit cards out.
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.Samsung's Notebook 9 portables rock eighth-gen Core i7s
Samsung has announced three new slim portables with Intel's eighth-generation mobile processors inside. The 13" and 15" Notebook 9 models use the tried-and-true clamshell laptop form factor, while the Notebook 9 Pen has a 2-in-1 design with a 360° hinge and an included stylus that can sense 4096 levels of pressure.
The headlining news for TR readers is probably the inclusion of eighth-generation Core i7 processors in all three machines. Samsung didn't name exact CPUs, but buyers can expect four cores and eight threads from the Core i7-8550U or the faster Core i7-8650U. The CPU will access as much as 16 GB of Samsung-made memory in a dual-channel configuration. Storage options go up to a 512 GB NVMe SSD on the Notebook 9 Pen and up to a 1 TB drive on the non-convertible 13" and 15" Notebook 9.
Those with an eye for style will probably notice the machines' aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis and slim profiles before anything else. The 13" Notebook 9 is the thinnest of the bunch at 0.59" (14.9 mm) and the Notebook 9 Pen is the thickest, measuring 0.65" (16.5 mm) at its thickest point. The rest of the dimensions are about as compact as one can expect owing to the displays' thin bezels. The 15" model has a Thunderbolt 3 port, but the others have to make do with a regular USB Type-C port on top of the USB 3.0, HDMI, and audio combo jacks that all three machines have in common. All three machines have a fingerprint sensor, and the Notebook 9 Pen adds a Windows Hello-compatible IR camera.
The screens in all the new Notebook 9s have a 1920x1080 resolution, 95% coverage of the of sRGB space, and should hit at least 450 cd/m² of brightness. Samsung didn't specify the panel type but our money would be on IPS. The Notebook 9 Pen's display is a touchscreen with pen input support, of course. Buyers of 13" Notebook 9 and Notebook 9 Pen models will have to make do with Intel IGPs, but shoppers can spec out a 15" Notebook 9 with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete graphics card with 2 GB of its own memory.
Samsung's 13" Notebook 9, 15" Notebook 9, and 13" Notebook 9 Pen all go on sale this month in South Korea. US sales are scheduled to start sometime during the first quarter of 2018. The company will have the machines on display in its Consumer Electronics Show booth in Las Vegas. There's currently no pricing info, but we imagine that information might become available during the trade show. Interested gerbils should pay close attention to TR's CES coverage in early January.Rumor: Ryzen 2 set for Q1 2018 and a Fenghuang APU breaks cover
The rumor mill has been reasonably quiet of late, but its engines are firing up. Citing a Digitimes report, MoePC claims that AMD's Ryzen 2 processors (codename Pinnacle Ridge) will show up in the first quarter of 2018. Separately, an as-of-yet unknown AMD "Fenghuang" APU has apparently broken cover in the SiSoft Sandra database.
Should the rumors hold water, Ryzen 2 CPUs will be based on AMD's Zen+ architecture and manufactured on GlobalFoundries' 12LP (Leading Performance) process. Additional rumor has it that the improved process could let Pinnacle Ridge units clock higher than their predecessors and possibly offer better overclocking potential. Likewise, there's some expectation that the new processors could support higher DDR4 frequencies—a sticking point with current-generation Ryzen offerings. According to the rumor, the existing Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 series names should be kept, although the model numbers will start with a 2. As expected, the new processors will fit existing AM4 boards, although ASMedia is purportedly readying up X470 and B450 chipsets to go with the new CPUs for a March 2018 release.
One chip that isn't on the road map that MoePC got ahold of is an as-yet-unknown AMD "Fenghuang" APU with "15FF" graphics. This product found its way into the SiSoft results database recently. The 15FF IGP apparently has 28 Radeon compute units for a total of 1792 shader processors, accompanied by 2 GB of an unknown type of VRAM. Other data that made its way into the database would appear to be spurious, like the 555-MHz clock speed, 16kB of L2 cache, and a supposed 32-bit path to memory. There isn't much in the way of details about this chip, but it definitely appears to be a prototype. Still, if it is real, Fenghuang's IGP would represent a considerable increase in graphics resources over today's Vega 8 and Vega 10 IGPs. The power needed to support that much graphics horsepower could peg this chip as a desktop part, but we won't know either way until AMD offers more details, if it ever does.TR's 2017 Christmas giveaway: eight days left and counting
Heads up, gerbils! I'm writing in to remind you of TR's 2017 Christmas giveaway. The fine folks at MSI, Antec, and Toshiba all contributed some of their wares so that three lucky gerbils have a chance at grabbing some tasty, juicy hardware.
For the big prize, MSI is offering a Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard and a GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G graphics card. Those components will fit nicely inside Antec's P110 Luce case along with the company's massive HCP-1300 Platinum power supply unit. Toshiba's joining the festivities with three of its TR200 240 GB SSDs—one for the grand prize, and two more for a pair of runner-ups.
The contest is a random draw, so your chances are as good as anyone's—just click here, fill out the form, and answer the single question. Good luck. May the TR Santa ever be in your favor.MSI gives Radeon RX Vega cards an Air Boost
AMD's Radeon RX Vega cards are still hard to find on retail shelves, but the recent announcements of third-party designs seem to suggest that the stock situation could improve in the near-future. The latest Vega cards on the table are MSI's Radeon RX Vega 56 Air Boost 8G OC and Radeon RX Vega 64 Air Boost 8G OC. Both cards' PCBs appear to borrow heavily from the Vega reference design, though their blower-style coolers are slightly different from AMD's.
MSI's Radeon RX Vega 56 Air Boost card has a slight overclock for its 3584 stream processors. The card's base frequency is 1181 MHz and it can boost to 1520 MHz. For comparison's sake, the reference Vega 56 has 1156 MHz base and 1471 MHz boost clocks. As for the Vega 64 Air Boost, it has 1272 MHz base and 1575 MHz boost clocks for its array of 4096 SPs, likewise just a smidge faster than the 1247 MHz base and 1546 MHz boost clocks for air-cooled Radeon RX Vega 64 cards. AMD's liquid-cooled Vega 64 still has faster 1406 MHz and 1677 MHz boost frequencies, though.
Both cards come bearing 8 GB of on-package HBM2 memory communicating with the GPU core over a 2048-bit-wide memory bus. MSI's cards run their memory at the same speed as reference cards: 800 MHz for the Vega 56 and 945 MHz for the Vega 64.
The Air Boost cards have the same port cluster as the reference models, meaning three DisplayPorts and one HDMI jack. The cards look similar overall to AMD's design, though their black shrouds bear different graphics and MSI's name replaces the Radeon 'R' on the blower fan. Buyers will need a beefy power supply with a pair of eight-pin PCIe power connectors for either card.
MSI didn't provide any pricing or availability information, but we were able to find a product page for the Radeon RX Vega 56 Air Boost 8G OC over at Newegg. The price is listed at $600, but there aren't any in stock. We didn't find the Vega 64 variant listed at the e-tailer, but we imagine it will cost about $100 more.Corsair's latest SO-DIMM kit takes 32 GB of DDR4 to 4000 MT/s
As computing moves to ever-shrinking desktop form factors, slow 2133 MT/s and 2400 MT/s DDR4 memory becomes less acceptable. Folks who demand the absolute top performance from their systems can't neglect memory performance, but until fairly recently there just weren't many high-performance SO-DIMM kits. Corsair is among the companies turning that around, and the nautically-named group just released what it says is the fastest 32 GB DDR4 four-stick SO-DIMM kit ever at 4000 MT/s.
There aren't many systems using SO-DIMMs that can even run their memory at that screaming speed—much less four sticks' worth. Corsair remarks that this kit is specifically intended for small-form-factor machines based on Intel's X299 platform using motherboards like ASRock's X299E-ITX/ac. The company describes the RAM's 19-23-23-45 timings as "super tight," and remarks that the sticks will need to run at 1.35 V to do their thing.
As Corsair itself points out, 4000 MT/s is well into the range of overclocking for DDR4 memory. The company says it hand-picks the best Samsung B-die chips for these sticks. Dedication like that should help guarantee reliability, but it also means these modules aren't going to go cheap. The memory is currently only available at Corsair's site, and it'll run you $595 for the four-module kit.Report: Intel Inside co-marketing program will get a budget cut
If you're reading this site, you're almost certainly familiar with the wide-reaching "Intel Inside" branding. Intel Inside isn't just a fancy logo and a slogan, though. Since 1991, Intel has operated a "co-operative marketing program" under the name, and through the program Intel funnels a lot of cash into the industry by helping vendors cover advertising and marketing costs. Now, CRN is reporting that Intel intends to cut funding for the program by some amount between 40 and 60 percent of its existing budget.
According to CRN's unidentified sources, the cuts are being made so that Intel can move the funds to "other groups within Intel that aren't channel-specific or PC-centric." The site then goes on to say that the funds will be put to work reinforcing Intel's position in the datacenter. Intel apparently confirmed to CRN that the program would be altered, but did not elaborate on the degree or depth of the changes.
Cuts to Intel's co-marketing program will almost certainly have wide-ranging effects on the industry. CRN's sources claim that since Intel Inside's membership was based on volume, the largest cuts will be hitting the largest OEMs, and that smaller sellers will be less affected. Given that, we don't think most TR readers should be too worried. Still, vendors will likely have to reduce advertising spending, raise prices, or make cuts in other areas to make up for the loss of Intel's cash infusion.Gingerbread House Day Shortbread
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We last wrote about Apple's upcoming Xeon-and-Vega-powered iMac Pro all-in-one workstation machines back in June. The company has updated the product page for the iMac Pro and announced a launch date for the high-powered all-in-one computers. Suffice to say, they pack a ton of hardware.
We knew back in June that iMac Pros would be built around Intel Xeon CPUs with eight, 10, or 18 cores. Those core count figures are still valid, but YouTube celebrity Marques Brownlee says that a 14-core version will be available at some point in the future. Apple doesn't mention base clock speeds but lets on that Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.5 GHz are on tap. The product page says iMac Pro CPUs will come bearing as much as 42 MB of cache, a number that we figure applies to the 18-core version.
Graphics and GPU compute capability come courtesy of AMD's Radeon Pro Vega silicon. Base model iMac Pros will have Radeon Pro Vega 56 cards with 8 GB of on-package HBM2 memory, but Radeon Pro Vega 64 boards with 16 GB of video memory will be an available option.
All iMac Pros get the same 27" 5120x2880 "5K" 10-bit display that can hit 500 cd/m² brightness. Apple says the panels support the DCI-P3 color space. Although the company stops short of specifying how much of that space is covered, previous iMacs offered 100% coverage, so it's likely that the Pro model will follow suit. Users with a need for lots of screen space can add a pair of 5K 10-bit displays, four 3840x2160 10-bit displays, or four 4096x2304 eight-bit panels.
Buyers will have a number of options with respect to memory and storage. Entry-level machines get 32 GB of 2666 MT/s DDR4 ECC memory, and those with the need for greater capacity can also choose 64 GB and 128 GB loadouts. A 1 TB SSD is standard equipment, and 2 TB and 4 TB versions are also available. Apple was tight-lipped as to the manufacturer and interface used for the SSDs, but given the computers' price tags and pro-duty aspirations, we'd imagine they're speedy NVMe units.
All of those screens connect using the four Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB-C ports on the back of the machine. The Thunderbolt ports are joined by a smattering of USB 3.0 Type-A connectors, audio jacks, a card reader, and a 10-Gigabit Ethernet port. If wires are too twentieth century, buyers can use 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. The whole machine is decked out in a Space Grey finish and includes an Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. As one would expect, macOS High Sierra comes pre-installed.
The iMac Pro product page says the machine will be available on December 14, though Appleinsider says that 14- and 18-core models won't ship until sometime next year. MacRumors claims that the iMac Pro's starting price of $4,999 refers to a version with an eight-core Xeon, 32 GB of 2666 MT/s DDR4 memory, a Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8 GB of HBM2 memory, and a 1 TB SSD.Tuesday deals: NVMe storage, a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and more
G'day, gerbils. You can sit down, there's no need for all that ceremony and saluting. We know you're struck in awe and reverence, for you know that we are purveyors of the finest hardware deals around. There's time to meet-and-greet everyone and show you today's wares. Here they are.
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.Intel 15.60 IGP drivers are sitting pretty for Okami HD
Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition is the morning's big news, but we're putting some finishing touches on our in-depth coverage. For now, let's talk Intel drivers. Most game-playing gerbils' systems probably pack AMD Radeon or Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics, but many a monitor's pixels are pushed by the silicon integrated into the CPU die. Today's release of the 15.60 Intel Graphics Driver is highlighted by an updated control panel that showcases new game titles. Alongside the showcase, there's launch-day support for Okami HD.
Intel claims the updated driver has improved performance in the DirectX 11 versions of AAA titles Star Wars Battlefront II, Mass Effect Andromeda, Battlefield 1, and Rise of the Tomb Raider—along with a number of lesser-known titles. At least some of the performance and load time improvements come from a shader caching feature that is new to the Intel IGP drivers.
The driver notes say the update will provide increased accuracy in reporting FPS in Balanced and Power Saving modes and substantial performance increases when using MSAA in DX12 and Vulkan. In the realm of non-3D graphics, Intel promises enhanced HEVC playback performance on Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake chips and improvements to Intel Media SDK for improved encoding quality in dependent like PowerDirector and Magix.
The update also fixes some problems, including crashes and hangs in The Surge, Rise of the Tomb Raider, SOMA, SiSoft Sandra, Handbrake, and 3D video playback. Some graphical anomalies in Civilization 6, Forza 7, The Talos Principle, and Sony Catalyst are also fixed. Bugs with multiple monitors, waking from sleep, and KVMs have also received attention from the driver team.
Intel stopped producing non-security-related updates for Skylake chips on platforms other than Windows 10 back in July, and Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake CPUs came with Windows 10 support only from the get-go. Therefore, the 15.60 drivers are offered in Windows 10 64-bit flavor only. Gerbils using their Intel IGPs can read the release notes or just head to the download page.Synaptics Clear ID FS9500 fingerprint sensors slip under phone screens
Back when rumors were swirling about Apple's iPhone X, the prospect of where the Touch ID sensor for the device might end up was just one of the open questions. As it happened, the company eventually went so far as to basically miniaturize a Kinect, nestled it into the infamous notch, and called it Face ID. Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering later claimed that Touch ID was never even in the running for the iPhone X once Apple developed its facial-authentication tech. That outcome doesn't mean an under-glass fingerprint reader isn't a cool idea, though. As a guy with a twin brother, facial-identification tech is potentially insecure for my ugly mug. Touch ID and its ilk are still my preference, and a phone with both an edge-to-edge display and a front-mounted fingerprint reader would immediately grab my attention.
The human interface wizards at Synaptics seem poised to make that combination possible in some of the wide range of "infinity display" Android flagship phones set to arrive in the near future. The company's Clear ID FS9500 family of fingerprint scanners, launching today, promise all the convenience of a front-mounted fingerprint scanner without the need for a button to house it or a bezel around that button. With one of these sensors underneath a display, folks might be able to have their infinity-display cake and eat it, too.
The way the Clear ID sensor works seems rather novel. To start with, the sensor has to be paired with an OLED display. When it's activated, an FS9500 sensor will use part of the OLED panel above it to illuminate the print of the finger resting there. The light reflected by the user's finger then passes back through the substrate of the OLED display to be processed by the sensor itself. Synaptics claims that its sensor can work as the bottom slice of bread under a meat stack of display components up to 1.5 mm thick, and that it can be integrated with OLED screens using standard optical production materials and processes.
Sensing the finger is just one concern with biometrics, of course. Synaptics promises that users' biometric information will be protected by its SentryPoint suite of security and anti-spoofing technologies. The FS9500 can adaptively improve recognition of a user's fingerprint, resist reproductions of a user's print, and protect information in transit from the sensor to the host using TLS, AES encryption, and ECC to ensure security and authenticity. The company also notes that because the sensor is embedded under the display, it's much better poised to resist moisture, abuse, and grime than an externally-exposed button.
Although the company didn't announce any design wins today, it says it'll be demonstrating an in-production, soon-to-be-announced "Tier 1" phone with the sensor on board at CES 2018. If you notice a flood of phones with under-glass fingerprint scanners on board next year, it's a likely bet that many will be built around an FS9500 sensor of some kind. Stay tuned.TR's 2017 Christmas giveaway: goodies from MSI, Antec, and OCZ
Season's greetings, my dear gerbils and gerbilettes. Snow is falling, presents are being acquired, and the holiday cheer is in full swing. Companies are getting in on the Christmas fun, too. We're sure that by now you've pictured where this is going. That's right, we have another world-famous TR giveaway!
The fine folks at MSI, Antec, and Toshiba have joined our festivities. All three companies are purveyors of high-quality hardware, and there are contributions from each and every one of them. Much like the Three Wise Men, each company has offered gifts to the gerbildom. Let's see what each of them brought for you.
From the lands of MSI, there are two circuit boards, each of a different type. The first is a Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard, a $200 value at Amazon or Newegg. This slab o' circuits is packed with goodies, including two M.2 slots, USB 3.1 Gen2 ports in Type-A and Type-C flavors, and Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. As if all that weren't enough, the main PCIe x16 slots and memory slots are reinforced with metal, and there's a Realtek ALC1220 codec handling audio output duties. We liked this motherboard's feature set and sensible PCIe lane allocation when we reviewed it, and it should prove a fine home for a Coffee Lake CPU. Oh, before we forget—of course there are onboard RGB LEDs.
MSI's second offering is the GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G graphics card, worth $305 at Newegg. This potent pixel-pusher is topped off with the company's Zero Frozr cooler and its two TorX 2.0 fans. The ensemble should offer near-silent cooling, and the card is a fine choice for any gaming system short of a 4K beast.
You'll need somewhere to put the fancy motherboard and graphics card, and that's where the Antec P110 Luce case comes in (a value of $93 at Amazon). This stylish ATX monolith has a tempered glass window and is loaded with air- and liquid-cooling spots. Up top, you can fit two 140-mm fans or a 280-mm radiator. The front panel can take in three 120-mm fans, two 140-mm spinners, or a heat exchanger up to 360 mm long. Another 120-mm radiator or fan can go in the back. There's enough room for CPU coolers as tall as 165 mm (6.5") and power supplies as long as 7.9" (200 mm). Blinkenlights fans will appreciate the built-in RGB LED lighting.
Antec has an offering that goes right into the case above: the HCP-1300 Platinum power supply unit. This hyper-powered beast can push 1300 W and comes with fully-modular cabling. There's a whopping 10 PCIe power connectors and an OC Link port for connecting two of these units in tandem. The 80 Plus Platinum rating ensures that the PSU's efficiency should remain above 94% across the board. If you're wondering what systems the HCP-1300 can power, it's safe to say the answer is "all of them."
Finally, Toshiba brought three items: a trio of the company's TR200 SSDs in 240 GB capacity, each worth $90 at Amazon or Newegg. These drives are capable of reading data at up to 555 MB/s and writing it at 540 MB/s. Those are healthy figures for a SATA drive, and the IOPS ratings are are nothing to sneeze at either: 79K for reads and 87K for writes. These SSDs are fine choices for any build, and three lucky gerbils will have a chance at one.
We'll give away the prizes in three lots. The grand-prize winner will receive the MSI mobo and graphics card, the Antec case and power supply, and one of Toshiba's TR200 SSDs. Two runner-ups will then get one TR200 SSD each.
By now you're wondering what you need to do to get your grubby little hands on the gear. The answer is simple: next to nothing. All you have to do is sign up and answer a quick question to weed out any bots. Just check out our review of the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon and tell us which model of Wi-Fi radio the mobo comes with. We'll be collecting entries until 12:00 PM Central Time on December 21. The winners will be announced on December 22. We wish you the best of luck!
Rules and regulations
Our contests are only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada (except Quebec).
Only one entry per person, household, or e-mail address will be considered. Multiple entries per person, household or address are not permitted. Please don't try to game the system by entering your girlfriend, wife, kids or pets. We'll probably disqualify you if you do.
We will be accepting entries between the time this post goes up and 12:00 CT on December 21, 2017. We'll then choose winners for the random draws among all eligible entries. The winners will be announced on the site on December 22, 2017. The winners will be notified via the e-mail they submitted with their entries and must claim their prizes within 72 hours, or they will forfeit them and we will select a new winner.
Only the winner's name will be announced on the site. We will not share their address or other personal information with our sponsors or anyone else. Any prizes will be shipped to the address provided in this form. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. TR also reserves the right to disqualify entries that appear to be attempts to game the system or circumvent the rules in any way, or for any other reason, without explanation.
The staff of The Tech Report and their immediate families may not enter the giveaway and are not eligible to win.
No purchase is necessary. This giveaway is void where prohibited by law. TR and the giveaway sponsors are not responsible for any taxes on the prize, damage in shipping, damage caused by using the prize with other products, or health issues such as repetitive strain injury, eye strain, or chemical addictions that may result from prolonged use of the prize. We may answer questions and offer clarifications of the rules in the comments thread on this article. Happy hunting!
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