|Aerocool's P7-L240 closed-loop liquid CPU cooler reviewed||10|
|Intel's NUC8i7HVK "Hades Canyon" gaming PC reviewed||43|
|AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs revealed||148|
It's Friday, gerbils, and some of you probably have plans this weekend. Others might be looking for something to do, so why not play Satellite Reign? "But Zak," you cry, "I don't want to pay $30 for a game I've never heard of." Well you're in luck, because if you get it today, it's free at the Humble Store.
Satellite Reign is a class-based real-time strategy game that directly resembles the classic Syndicate Wars. That's not surprising, as some of its developers actually worked on the original Syndicate games. Unlike most RTS games, Satellite Reign doesn't involve building structures or resource management. Instead, four agents—controlled by between one and four players—must sneak, hack, steal, and shoot their way up the corporate ladder. I feel like I probably don't have to sell you on the game that hard, since it's free. You will need both Humble and Steam accounts to redeem it, though.
The Humble Store actually has two big sales going on right now. The Sci-Fi Week sale is still on, and that means you can pick up Stellaris for $16, Galactic Civilizations III or Elite Dangerous for $13.59, The Talos Principle for $8, or Faster Than Light for just $2.49. This weekend is also the Capcom Weekend sale, so you can net Resident Evil 7 for $22.49, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen for $12, Ultra Street Fighter IV for $7.49, or the sadly-overlooked Remember Me for $6.59. There's also Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite for $30, although you might be better off grabbing the fan-preferred Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for just $10.
I've barely scratched the surface of the deals on offer, so go take a look around the Humble store if you haven't lately. It's also worth mentioning that the Humble Monthly bundle is only $12 a month, and subscribing right now will get you Ruiner, Kerbal Space Program, Dead Rising 4, Moon Hunters, Jalopy, and Crazy Machines 3. Monthly subscribers also get 10% off everything in the store. You can cancel your subscription any time—even immediately after you claim this month's games—and part of your purchase goes to charity. Let us know if you find a really great deal on the store this weekend.Cryorig C7 Cu puts a hunk of copper in small spaces
Copper is an excellent material for heatsinks, but its high cost when compared to aluminum means it's sparingly used in heatsinks and other cooling components. Cryorig's C7 Cu CPU cooler capitalizes on the material's higher thermal conductivity to deliver high cooling performance in compact spaces where tower coolers might otherwise not be feasible. The company says the exclusive use of copper in the C7 Cu provides 15% better thermal performance compared to its own standard copper-and-aluminum C7 model.
The heatsink has four 6-mm-wide heatpipes shuttling heat into an array of 57 copper fins. The C7 Cu and its supplied low-profile 92-mm fan measure a scant 1.8" (4.7 cm) tall. The compact dimensions also mean that interference with memory slots should be a non-issue in most applications.
The manufacturer says the slim fan provides up to 40.5 CFM of air flow at its maximum speed of 2500 RPM. The company says the cooler is ready to cool CPUs with TDPs as high as 115 W. A set of rubber isolators separate the fan from the fin array in order to reduce noise and vibration.
The cooler assembly measures 3.8" on each side and weighs 23.8 oz (675 g) including the fan. The C7 Cu fits all Intel LGA 115x, AMD AMx, and AMD FMx sockets except for the teensy-tiny AM1. The retail box includes mounting hardware, thermal paste, and the screwdriver needed for installation. Builders can install the cooler using either the supplied fiberglass-reinforced backing plate or a set of washers.
Cryorig says the C7 Cu CPU cooler will hit shelves in Asia later this month and will storm American shores in late May or early June. The cooler will cost $50 in the US, a substantial uptick from the regular C7's $30 sales price.EK Fluid Gaming line offers turn-key liquid-cooled PCs
Building a basic computer these days is as easy as it's ever been. Building a custom-cooled high-end gaming system is a bigger challenge than many folks want to tackle, and EK Water Blocks has stepped up with new options for buyers that want the bragging rights of an open-loop-cooled rig without the headaches and potential leaks of gathering parts and putting everything together. The company's new Fluid Gaming line of pre-assembled gaming PCs combines quality hardware from well-known manufacturers with the company's expertise in cooling system design and assembly.
For the time being, all of EK's pre-built gaming systems use AMD's spanking-new Ryzen 2000-series processors coupled with Nvidia GeForce graphics cards inside an EK-specific variation of InWin's 101C ATX chassis. All systems get EK's aluminum Fluid Gaming A240G open-loop cooling kit plus an extra 120-mm radiator. The A240G kit includes CPU and graphics card waterblocks, a pump-and-reservoir assembly, clear soft tubing, and a 240-mm radiator with fans. The case has a tempered glass side panel that provides a good look at the high-end gear within. The systems are all powered by EVGA SuperNova G3 power supplies with CableMod cable extension kits.
The entry-level Hero configuration includes an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 processor, 16 GB of 3200 MT/s G.Skill Trident Z RGB DDR4 memory, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB, and a 256-GB Samsung 960 Evo NVMe SSD on an MSI B350 Tomahawk motherboard. A 2-TB Seagate hard drive provides additional storage space.
The top-shelf "Legend" build sports an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU, 32 GB of memory, a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards in SLI, a 1-TB SSD, and a 4-TB hard drive. All that gear comes attached to an MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard.
Buyers should note that EK's Fluid Gaming line uses aluminum components, so adding third-party cooling system components made of copper is not recommended. EK backs all pre-built systems with a two-year warranty. The Hero configuration costs $2100, and the Legend system will set buyers back $4260. EK expects systems to start shipping from its US-based assembly facility in early May.Thermaltake's Iris Optical gaming mouse polls at 2 KHz
Dragging windows around or even simply moving the mouse pointer feels smoother and clearer on a high-refresh display. However, refresh rate is only one piece of the puzzle. USB polling rates aren't matched up to screen refreshes, so a mouse with a high rate is important to get the most out of your fast monitor. All reputable gaming mice support a 1-KHz polling rate, but Thermaltake's Iris Optical mouse is only the second rodent we've ever seen that breaks that barrier to offer a 2-KHz polling rate.
It will be interesting to see if the Iris Optical can actually deliver on that promise. The first mouse to make that claim was Asus' ROG Gladius, but mouse enthusiasts figured out that instead of having a 2-KHz polling rate, the mouse just packed two position updates in each 1-KHz polling interval. That happened because its controller was a USB Full Speed device, not a true USB 2.0 Hi-Speed device. In theory, USB 2.0 devices should be able to poll at up to 8 KHz.
Such extravagant polling rates might seem preposterous, but they have a purpose. As Chief Blur Buster Mark Rejhon demonstrates over at the Blur Busters Blog, even a 1-KHz polling rate isn't sufficient to eliminate all mouse movement micro-stutters on a 120-Hz display. We're now starting to see more displays that refresh as fast as 240 Hz, so the time to start looking at mice that report ever faster is now.
If we're honest, the rest of the specifications on the Iris Optical are entry-level. The rodent is a six-button gaming mouse that uses a PMW-3325 optical sensor. While that sensor is classified as a gaming-grade sensor by PixArt, its 100-IPS (2.5 m/s) speed rating and 20-G acceleration rating are both far behind other popular gaming-grade sensors. That's to say nothing of its maximum resolution of 5,000 DPI. Of course, the sensor's specifications are already well beyond the limits of most players' ability, so they're probably not a big concern. The Thermaltake Iris Optical mouse is already available on Amazon for just $30.Acer Predator Orion 9000 locks and loads with GTX 1080 Tis
The last time we wrote about Acer's Predator Orion 9000 gaming desktop line was when the company showed off prototype units in Berlin all the way back in August of last year. Back then, Acer said the Orion 9000s could be fitted with 18-core Intel Core i9 Extreme CPUs and quad-Crossfire Vega setups. In the intervening eight months, though, AMD's Radeon RX Vega cards haven't gotten any easier to find. The company adjusted its plans for the Orion 9000. Two of three now-shipping configurations sport eighth-generation Core i7 processors, and all models come with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards.
The base configuration includes a liquid-cooled overclockable Intel Core i7-8700K CPU with 16 GB of DDR4 memory and the aforementioned Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The system boots from a pretty pedestrian 256-GB SATA SSD flanked by a 2-TB hard drive for bulk storage. Acer didn't specify the speed of the system RAM, but it did say the motherboard has four DDR4 DIMM slots and supports up to 64 GB of memory. Acer didn't say if the board has any M.2 slots, but there are two full-length PCIe slots for graphics cards, plus two PCIe x2 slots for other add-in boards. The middle-tier configuration is similar, except the memory capacity is doubled to 32 GB and the SATA SSD swells to 512 GB.
The top-of-the-line configuration is the closest to what Acer was showing off at IFA. The full-fat Predator Orion 9000 packs an 18-core Intel Core i9-7980XE Extreme Edition processor along with a whopping 128 GB of DDR4 memory. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics and all-SATA storage configuration from the mid-level Orion 9000 carry over. An X299 motherboard is part of the Core Extreme package, and the board inside the top-dog model has four PCIe x16 expansion slots and eight memory slots.
All models come enclosed in a bespoke case measuring an exceptionally-bulky 25.3" tall, 11.8" wide, and 27.6" deep (64 cm x 30 cm x 70 cm). The base configuration weighs in at a colossal 42 lb (19 kg), necessitating a pair of wheels and a carrying handle. All versions come with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi in case the behemoth is too bulky to move near a network jack.
The base configuration described above lands at $2500, and the step-up unit with memory and storage capacities more in keeping with the PC's aggressive appearance costs $3000. The top-level Predator Orion 9000 configuration with the Core i9 CPU will cost buyers the triple-take-inducing sum of $8000.One shudders to think at how much the version touted last August with that CPU and four Radeon RX Vega cards would cost. To be fair, the Core i9-7980XE processor alone rings in at $1900 and a 128 GB DDR4 memory kit costs about $1500. Acer backs the Predator Orion 9000 with a two-year warranty.der8auer and Asus took a Ryzen 7 2700X to 6 GHz
Champion overclocker der8auer has done it again. This time around, he's been using and abusing one of AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X CPUs, and his efforts have yielded him what is currently the highest-recorded clock speed on a Ryzen CPU yet: a whole 6 GHz. As you no doubt expect, that number was achieved using liquid nitrogen as the cooling medium and a scorching CPU core voltage of 1.85 V.
The motherboard that der8auer used is the Asus Crosshair VII Hero, although during the record-breaking event he ripped almost every identifying feature off it. The video above shows the process of preparing for the record-setting event in great detail. Der8auer's crew tried to break the Cinebench R15 world record—currently set at 2739 points, using a Core i7-7820—but topped out at 2627. The group did break the Geekbench 3 world record, though, setting a new multi-core record of 50804.
According to der8auer, the new CPUs allow tweakers to overclock by setting XFR clocks, much like you would overclock by adjusting turbo bins on an Intel CPU. This method of overclocking is usually better than forcing a high base clock multiplier because you can end up with a high all-core speed without sacrificing your top-end single-core speed. His recommendation for folks overclocking on air or liquid cooling is to stick to around 1.2-1.3 V core voltage, and to shoot for around a 4.1-GHz all-core clock.Motorola unwraps its latest Moto G6 and E5 handsets
Flagship Android phones might get all the press these days, but not everyone has $800-and-more burning a hole in their pocket. That fact didn't escape the notice of Lenovo-subsidiary Motorola, who's chasing the lower-midrange and low-end markets with its Moto G and Moto E handsets. The company today took the wraps off of four new phones, the Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Plus, and Moto E5 Play.
We'll go ahead and get the commonalities out of the way first. All four new smartphones have microSD slots that support cards as large as 128 GB, as well as headphone jacks. All except the bottom-rung E5 Play get math-teacher-infuriating 18:9 aspect-ratio IPS screens. The top-end Moto G6 has a glass back and charges with a USB-C port, while its brothers cling to ye olde microUSB connector and have plain-old plastic backs. None of the four new Moto phones have NFC, so Google Pay support is not in the cards. The fingerprint readers on all four phones provide biometric authentication as well as gesture control.
Moto's G6 is the fleetest of the bunch, sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 clocked at 1.8 GHz. That 14-nm-fabbed SoC pairs eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores with Adreno 506 graphics. Motorola will sell the phone with either 3 GB or 4 GB of memory and 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. The Gorilla Glass 3-coated screen uses a 5.7" panel with a resolution of 2160x1080. The user-facing camera is an 8-megapixel unit and the world-facing snapper setup pairs a 12-MP main camera and a second 5-MP sensor for depth-of-field effects.
The Moto G6 Play is mostly a downgrade from the suffix-less G6, save for its larger 4000 mAh battery pack. The screen measures the same 5.7", but resolution drops to 1440x720. That's good news for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 SoC. This 28-nm-fabbed chip has four Cortex-A53 cores churning at 1.4 GHz alongside Adreno 308 graphics. Memory options drop to either 2 GB or 3 GB, and storage is down to either 16 GB or 32 GB. The front camera is still an 8-MP unit, but the 13-MP snapper on the back doesn't get a partner.
Motorola seems to have positioned the Moto E5 Plus as the phone of choice for folks who like big screens but keep forgetting their chargers, thanks to its jumbo-sized 6" 1440x720 IPS screen and capacious 5000-mAh battery. The manufacturer says that big pack is enough for a day-and-a-half of normal use. The SoC is a Snapdragon 435, another chip with four Cortex-A53 cores but this time around with an Adreno 505 IGP. The lone configuration sports 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The user-facing camera has an 8-MP sensor and the world-facing picture-taker is a 12-MP unit.
The bottom-rung Moto E5 is the humblest of the offerings, but still makes for a more-than-serviceable phone. Moto will offer two different SoC choices for the E5: the Snapdragon 425 and the Snapdragon 427. The two chips are the same except for their modems. The Snapdragon 425's X6 modem tops out at 150 Mbps downstream and 75 Mbps upstream, while the X9 modem in the Snapdragon 427 can go up to twice as fast on both counts.
Units with either SoC get 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of integrated storage. The 5.2" non-IPS LCD display's resolution is 720x1080. The camera resolutions drop to 5-MP for the user-facing unit and 8-MP for the main snapper. The battery is the smallest of the bunch, at 2800 mAh, but that's probably fine for the lower-spec hardware it's feeding.
All four handsets come with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. However, Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica says the Moto G6 and its Play sibling are guaranteed to get one major OS upgrade, presumably to Android P, at some point in the future. Motorola makes no promises about to major OS release updates for the Moto E family. On a more positive note, all four phones will get security updates "every 60 to 90 days" during their service life.
Motorola says the Moto G6 will land at $249 and the Moto G6 Play at $199 when they hit the market sometime later this spring. The company didn't provide any pricing information for the Moto E5 Plus and E5 Play in American Green People from History Times, but did say the E5 Plus will run €169 ($175 without VAT) in Europe.National Hanging Out Day Shortbread
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Hello, gerbils! Jeff's been hard at work on the review of AMD's latest Ryzen 2000-series processsors. It's safe to say that the company delivered and that we'll see quite a few of those CPUs in our future recommendations. However, deals can't stop just because some CPUs came out. Check out what we have for you today.
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 Das Keyboard's shop.AMD teases PowerColor's take on the elusive Vega Nano
AMD's second-generation Ryzen processors weren't the only thing we got to see at a press event in New York recently. The company had a PowerColor take on its elusive Vega Nano graphics card to tease, as well, and I snapped a couple pics. Enjoy:
No word on specs, pricing, or whether this card will ever be a shipping product, but it's neat to look at if nothing else.
As Jeff remarked in his review, second-generation Ryzen parts more readily support speedy memory than their predecessors. That's a good thing, because system performance with AMD's CPUs benefits from higher memory speeds. If you're building a rig with a Ryzen 2000-series chip, G.Skill is armed and ready to supply you with sticks of extra-fast Sniper X and Trident Z RGB RAM built specifically for AMD's new chips.
The Trident Z RAM will come in two-module 16-GB kits clocked at 3200 MT/s, 3466 MT/s, and 3600 MT/s. At the lowest speed grade, G.Skill will also offer 32-GB kits in two- and four-module versions. Meanwhile, the Sniper X series for second-generation Ryzen chips include two-module 16-GB kits at 3400 MT/s and 3466 MT/s. Notably, the Sniper X memory at 3400 MT/s runs very tight 16-16-16-36 timings. All of the kits require 1.35 V to do their thing.
Aside from the speed grades, the Trident Z RGB and Sniper X kits vary in appearance. The Sniper X RAM has military-style camouflage accents on the top, while the Trident Z RGB naturally has RGB LED accents along their edge. We suspect most gerbils will be picking their RAM based on performance, though. The revised Sniper X and Trident Z RGB RAM hasn't hit the market yet, but G.Skill says it should be available in "late April," so keep an eye out.Lenovo's ThinkPad 485 and ThinkPad 585 put Ryzen APUs to work
As nice as it might be for AMD to have countless enthusiasts building custom PCs among its customer base, having major laptop makers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo on board means a lot to the all-important bottom line. We've already seen portables from the two largest American PC makers built around AMD's Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U APUs, and now Lenovo has added product pages detailing its newest 14" ThinkPad E485 14" and 15.6" ThinkPad E585 notebooks. The manufacturer's offerings are the first we can recall with the red silicon vendor's Ryzen 3 2200U chip on the option sheet.
All three of AMD's Ryzen mobile chips are available on both machines. As a refresher, the Ryzen 3 2200U has Vega 3 graphics, meaning it's got just three out of 11 compute units on the GPU section of the die active. That leaves only 192 stream processors to push pixels. For contrast, the Ryzen 5 2500U's IGP plays with a deck of 512 SPs and the Ryzen 7 2700U's graphics section bears 640 SPs. Regardless of processor choice, buyers can opt for as much as 32 GB of DDR4 memory spread across two SO-DIMMs. As for storage, shoppers can choose M.2 NVMe SSDs with capacities up to 512 GB, a conventional 2.5" hard drive, or both.
The two laptop lines have just-about-identical technical specifications. The most obvious differences are the screen size and battery life. The displays on the base models are nothing to write home about, with 1366x768 resolutions on panels of unspecified type. Thankfully, 1920x1080 IPS displays are optional on both lines for those willing to spend a little more.
Both versions get 45-Wh batteries, but Lenovo says the larger machine goes almost 50% longer on a charge. The company says the 14.1" E485 can go up to nine hours between appointments with a wall outlet, but touts 13-hour battery life for the 15.6" E585. We assume that someone in the marketing team got mixed up, and that the 14" machine, in fact, has the longer battery life. The manufacturer says buyers that opt for the larger 65-W charger can charge a depleted battery up to 80% of its capacity in just an hour.
The ThinkPad E485 measures 13" wide, 9.5" deep, and 0.8" thick (33 cm x 24 cm x 2.2 cm), while the E585 rings in at 14.5" x 9.9" x 0.8" (37 cm x 25 cm x 2 cm). The 14.1" laptop weighs at least 3.8 lbs (1.8 kg) and the larger notebook tips the scales at 4.6 lbs (2.1 kg). Both machines are built for business, so they sport plenty of I/O, including an HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 2.0 connector, and a USB Type-C port. The machines have 1x1 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 for connections without wires.WD's Ultrastar DC HC530 puts PMR to good use in 14 TB
It wasn't all that long ago that hard drives still beat SSDs for physical density. That's not the case anymore (as proven by these bad boys), but they're still miles ahead for price-per-gigabyte. Not every workload needs the performance of solid-state storage, either. Datacenters looking to pick up a few petabytes of storage could buy a few less drives now that WD has announced the Ultrastar DC HC530 in 14 TB capacity.
Savvy gerbils might wonder what recording technology this drive uses, and the answer is that the HC530 uses perpendicular magnetic recording rather than the slower shingled recording of other high-capacity hard drives. That means the drive will perform pretty much like any other datacenter-grade 7200-RPM hard drive, even in random write operations.
The new drives will come in SATA 6 Gbps and SAS 12 Gbps models when they become available later this year. The company says it's already shipping them to "select hyperscale cloud customers" for qualification. Mere mortals will have to wait to get their hands on some of the biggest full-speed hard drives in the world.AOC AG322QC4 boasts FreeSync 2 and DisplayHDR 400 certificates
When it rains, it pours. Today, the drops from the sky take the form of new displays conforming to AMD's FreeSync 2 adaptive-refresh-rate specifications. We reported earlier on BenQ's EX3203R, and now AOC joins the party with its AG322QC4. The 31.5" diagonal size of the panel is about the only thing one can intuit from that alphanumeric-grab-bag product number, so let's explore the not-as-obvious details on the latest entry to VESA's list of DisplayHDR-conforming monitors.
The QC4 bears similarities to the AG322QCX we wrote about last September. Both monitors have 31.5" VA panels that can refresh every element in their 2560x1440 pixel arrays at 144 Hz. AOC says the response time measures a short 4 ms. Unique features of the new QC4 include support for FreeSync 2 and compliance with VESA's DisplayHDR 400 specification. That means the monitor has true 8-bit color support, global dimming, and peak luminance over 400 cd/m². Typical brightness is a more pedestrian 300 cd/m². AOC didn't provide any refresh rate range information, but given the FreeSync 2 badging, Low Framerate Compensation is part of the deal.
The back of the display sports two HDMI 2.0 ports, two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, plus an old-school VGA input. Gamers that split time between a PC and multiple consoles should be able to connect all the devices without any switch boxes. The QC4 also integrates a pair of 5-W stereo speakers, a headphone jack and a hanger, and a two-port USB 3.0 hub. The included stand has adjustments for height, tilt, and swivel. If that isn't enough articulation, the back of the monitor sports a 100x100 grid of threaded holes for a VESA-compatible display mount.
The manufacturer didn't provide any pricing or availability information, but we'd expect the AG322QC4 to land somewhere north of the $400-ish FreeSync-compliant, non-HDR AG322QCX. AOC backs the monitor with a three-year warranty.PSA: Nvidia has Founders Edition GeForces in stock at MSRP
Listen up, gerbils. If you've been clamoring for a new build but you're disgusted at marked-up graphics card prices, scrabble on over to Nvidia's GeForce Store and get to ordering. GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080 Founders Edition cards are in stock right now, and they're selling for MSRP.
The Founders Edition cards are a little pricier than some of the cheaper partner boards, but given the current state of the market, we're not complaining. Nvidia's cooler is second to none, too, at least as far as centrifugal-fan designs go. The estimated ship date is one week from today, and there's a limit of two units per customer. Head over to Nvidia's site if you want to pick up a GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB for $299, a GeForce GTX 1070 for $399, or a GeForce GTX 1080 for $549.MSI updates its gaming desktops with eighth-generation Core power
When it comes to desktop computers, most gerbils have a strong preference for rolling their own from components rather than buying something off the shelf or from a mail-order outfit. In recent months, though, shortages of certain parts have made pre-assembled systems more attractive than usual. The dragon riders over at MSI have updated the Aegis 3, Aegis Ti3, Infinite A, Trident 3, Trident 3 Arctic, and Nightblade MI3 gaming desktops with Intel's eighth-generation Core processors. The company didn't mention any chip models by name, but we'd expect to see Core i5-8400 and Core i7-8700 chips in all of them except the flagship Aegis Ti3, where we predict the overclockable Core i7-8700K will make an appearance.
For those that don't know the entire pecking order of the Dragon Army, the Aegis 3 and Aegis Ti3 are semi-portable, easily-upgradeable compact desktops with designs seemingly styled to look like Michael Bay Decepticon visages. The Aegis 3 tops out with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, while well-heeled buyers can spec out an Aegis Ti3 with a pair of GeForce GTX 1080 cards in SLI. The company's Infinite A desktop gaming rigs are microATX machines that look like what one might come up with if tasked with building a DIY desktop exclusively out of parts from MSI's parts catalog. The Infinite As are available with tempered glass side panels, and their top-end graphics option is the GeForce GTX 1080.
The Nightblade MI3 is a smaller machine based on a Mini-ITX motherboard and has GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and GeForce GTX 1060 graphics options. The Trident 3 packs the same video cards into an even more compact package, though some of the bulk has simply been relocated into an external power brick. The Trident 3 Arctic is more than a palette swap, offering up potent GeForce GTX 1070 graphics.
MSI didn't mention prices or when to expect the refreshed gaming desktops to hit retailers. We don't expect them to take long to arrive, though, and we figure that pricing is probably similar to the existing models.BenQ EX3203R is a colorful HDR display with FreeSync 2 support
The product page for BenQ's latest gaming display just showed up on its global site. The new EX3203R appears to be an update of the older EX3200R, but don't let that dim your interest. This 31.5" display is a major upgrade in almost every way from the previous model. Let's check it out.
First, the relevant numbers. The EX3203R is a 31.5" curved monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 and a maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz. Thanks to its VA LCD panel, it has a native contrast ratio of 3000:1, and BenQ says it can reproduce 90% of the wide DCI-P3 color space. The EX3203R is also one of the few displays with support for AMD's FreeSync 2 adaptive-refresh-rate technology. BenQ doesn't specify the range of refresh rates supported by the feature, but FreeSync 2 mandates support for Low Framerate Compensation anyway, so that should be of relatively little concern.
If you're up-to-date on your understanding of FreeSync 2, you'll also be aware that the tech requires some level of HDR support from displays so labeled. Indeed, the EX3203R has an HDR mode with a maximum brightness of up to 400 cd/m². That's high enough to satisfy the baseline requirements for FreeSync 2. There's no mention of a blur-reduction mode on the EX3203R, but thanks to FreeSync 2 and the display's 4-ms response time, things should be pretty darn smooth anyhow.
Mac users will surely be pleased with the EX3203R's USB Type-C port that can be used as a display connection, for charging (up to 10 W), and as a connection for the two USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the monitor. The rest of us will have to make do with the two HDMI 1.4 ports and a full-size DisplayPort connection. The monitor's stand only has tilt and height adjustments, so the VESA mounting capability might come in handy.
Since right now all we have to go on is a product page, we don't know how much the EX3203R will cost. Its predecessor, the EX3200R, debuted at $449 with a 1920x1080 resolution and without HDR support. We'd guess that the EX3203R might run a bit more than that when it hits e-tail.Cooler Master ML120R and ML240R let RGB LED fans take control
The whole point of all this PC personalization that folks do these days is to express their individuality. Colored case lighting goes a long way toward that goal, but what if your tastes change faster than your underwear? You need addressable RGB LED lights. Cooler Master's first all-in-one liquid coolers with addressable RGB LEDs are the MasterLiquid ML120R and MasterLiquid ML240R. The company first talked about these coolers at CES, and now they're available for sale. We have the full details, too, so let's dig in.
In case you're new to liquid cooling, the ML120R has a 120-mm radiator, while the ML240R has a 240-mm radiator. You get two fans either way, because the ML120R is designed to be set up in a push-pull configuration. The specific fans in question are Cooler Master's own MasterFan MF120R ARGB models. The A stands for "addressable," referring to the RGB LEDs on the fan itself.
The fans and the waterblock can be connected to lighting control headers from every major motherboard vendor. You can then just use your mobo's software to synchronize your illuminated equipment. Cooler Master includes a three-in-one RGB header splitter so you don't have to take up all your motherboard's lighting headers with just your CPU cooler. The company also throws in an addressable-RGB-LED controller for folks whose boards lack that feature.
Aside from the fancy new lighting, the ML120R and ML240R look a lot like the existing MasterLiquid Lite series—so much so that we'd wager they use the same radiators. The dimensions are the same, anyway. At just under 1.1" thick (27 mm), we figure these radiators should fit most spaces meant for them. Just make sure you accomodate for that second fan on the ML120R.
As I mentioned above, the new MasterLiquid coolers with addressable RGB LED lighting are already available. Cooler Master's not asking much of a premium for the privilege, either. You can pick up a MasterLiquid ML120R at Newegg for $100. If you need more cooling (or more light) than that, the MasterLiquid ML240R is $20 more at $120.Haiku Poetry Day Shortbread
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Controversy has been swirling around the purported effects of Nvidia's GeForce Partner Program on board partners who sell both GeForces and Radeons over the past few weeks. Although the program first came to light in a rather anodyne blog post promising "transparency" and "consistency" for DIY gamers shopping for graphics cards, HardOCP's Kyle Bennett secured quotes from industry members to the effect that signing up for the program as a manufacturer brings with it a range of chafing restrictions.
Most notably, Bennett's anonymous sources suggest that the GPP requires companies who want to sell GeForces in their products to keep their "Gaming Brand Exclusively Aligned with GeForce." In Bennett's example, if Asus were to hypothetically sign up for the program, it couldn't use its popular Republic of Gamers brand to sell both GeForces and Radeons. ROG graphics cards could only be associated with GeForce products.
That hypothetical now appears to be more concrete than not. AMD's Radeon Technologies Group isn't explicitly saying as much, but the red team seems to be responding to the GPP in force today. In a blog post on the Radeon website, RTG general manager of gaming Scott Herkelman says that "over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product."
Herkelman asserts that the Radeon brand stands for freedom of choice, and he touts AMD's long history of launching new industry standards like HBM graphics RAM and open technologies like FreeSync. The real thrust of Herkelman's post seems to be putting a couple of barbs in the green team's GPP blog post by touting AMD's "true transparency" and "real consistency" in its interactions with its board partners and gamers, though.
Most notably, it's Asus who's leading the charge with new Radeon-specific branding. The company will shortly begin selling Radeons under the Arez brand name. For example, the ROG Strix RX Vega 64 O8G Gaming is now called the Arez Strix RX Vega 64 O8G Gaming, and so on for a wide range of cards under the familiar Phoenix, Expedition, and Dual sub-brands. Not so hypothetical after all, it would seem. Going by Herkelman's blog post, Asus won't be the last company to launch a Radeon-specific brand, either.
In a world where one still can't touch a graphics card for much less than hundreds of dollars over suggested prices at retail, a spat purely confined to branding, marketing, and trade dress is especially hard for me to get worked up over. Gamers seem unlikely to care much about what brand is on the front of a graphics-card box if the sticker on that box still carries an unaffordably-inflated price tag. Should graphics-card prices ever return to Earth, however, Radeon gamers and GeForce gamers will be able to claim their own brands for their GPU vendor of choice in a market that's more polarized than ever.
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