The TR Podcast 75: Gaming in the cloud, new Radeons, and the ultimate fan controller

The Tech Report Podcast Date: October 30, 2010

Time: 1:28:26

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Cyril Kowaliski, Geoff Gasior

Download: MP3 (63.8MB) | M4A (86.9MB)

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Show notes

We’ve got a lot to discuss on this episode of the TR Podcast, starting with two listener mail questions. KJ wants to know how AMD’s Zacate will stack up against Intel’s Consumer Ultra-Low-Voltage offerings, while Chris asks if Geoff ever found a better MP3 player for swimming.

Shortly thereafter, Scott reviews the newly rebooted Medal of Honor before getting into the meat of this episode: AMD’s new Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 graphics cards. Scott gives us the skinny about the new Barts silicon, morphological AA, how these cards stack up against the Nvidia competition, and more.

As we reach the tail end of this episode, Geoff brings up AMD’s latest efforts in the domain of fan-speed controls, Cyril discusses Asus’ dual-core, Ion-based Eee PC, and our editors all voice their thoughts on Apple’s new—and expensive—MacBook Air models.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. –

Follow us on Twitter – ScottJordanGeoffCyrilThe Tech Report

Listener mail:

Zacate vs. Intel? – from KJ – (0:01:47):

“AMD Zacate. I currently own a Intel CULV (Pentium SU4100 – Gateway ec1430u
11.6). Are there any good reviews of the zacate platform vs the intel culv
(2010) platform? I have read your “Toshiba’s Nile-powered Satellite T235D
notebook”. I am in no hurry to replace my intel culv (SU4100), but I am
interested on how zacate preforms. You can refer me to a podcast, website.

Zacate vs. intel culv:

– battery life (mostly for video, web surfing)

– performance – video/CPU

– Mobile SSD performance which is faster AMD (sb???) or intel (ich???)

– price/availability. Where are these AMD products.

I enjoy the intel culv (su4100) for battery life, and video playback (SD, HD
blu-ray on 1080p monitor when mobile). I found though that a SSD upgrade
dramatically improved user interaction. It also seems most review focus on
battery life and video performance but for web surfing the SSD upgrade improves
speed of web browsing. In the past I found that the intel atom based sata
controller runs at sata1 speeds.”
A swim question for Geoff – from Chris- (0:04:34):

“I have a question for the TR podcast, specifically for Geoff. As the winter season rolls over Canada, I find myself swimming more and more. I was wondering if Geoff ever found a suitable way to listen to music and podcasts while swimming. Unless I’ve missed something, his last review lamented the lack of storage and an easy way of changing tracks. I came away with the feeling that there was still a lot wrong with this type of product.”

Tech discussion:

    Scott and Jordan talk Medal of Honor (0:06:00)

    An evening with OnLive’s cloud gaming service (0:15:16)- Read more

    AMD’s Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 graphics processors (0:18:30)- Read more

    AMD’s SB800-series fan speed controller exposed (1:03:56)- Read more

    Asus’ Eee PC 1015PN netbook (1:11:15)- Read more

    New, 11.6-inch MacBook Air starts at $999 (1:19:31)- Read more

That’s all, folks! We’ll see you on the next episode.

Comments closed
    • esterhasz
    • 9 years ago

    Accepting the premise that the world is a somewhat murky place with lots of shades of grey, loads of viewpoints and many “least bad” decisions to be made may really here…

    edit: reply to #9, sorry…

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 9 years ago

    Continuing from the Overclocking thread:

    I’m sorry you deal with a lot of pissy comments about “whah you used over-clocked review cards.” and this may seem like one. I hope it isn’t to keep you from going insane. 🙂

    Basically I’m asking whether or not it is reasonable to expect your article to point out that while you review the best GTX 460 cooling solution demonstrating exemplary overclocking potential. You /[

    • End User
    • 9 years ago

    I’m sold on the MacBook Air for a number of reasons:

    1) realistic battery claims
    2) Mac OS X
    3) trackpad
    4) design

    Apple has absolutely nailed it with its current generation trackpad technology. The size/functionality is awesome. The 1810TZ, and most non Apple laptops such as my 1201N, suffer from terrible trackpads that are far too small.

    I’m glad Apple has bumped up the resolution but they could go further (as Sony has done with the 13.1″ Vaio Z – 1600×900 and 1920×1080).

    The one major issue I have with the Air is the lack of gigabit ethernet. I could live without it for the most part but it would be nice to have for large data transfers. Perhaps the next rev will have Light Peak.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 9 years ago

      I’m still puzzled by Apple’s decision to pair it with a 45nm Penryn. Yes, I’ve already read the “explanation” by Ars and I wasn’t satisfied with it.

      • esterhasz
      • 9 years ago

      I also found the discussion on the Airs a little bit lacking. I’m not saying that these are “good value” (I’m not saying the contrary, either), but your post clearly shows that other things as pure benchmarkable performance has to be taken into account, especially for laptops. Wasn’t there an article on here, like a year ago that bemoaned the state of laptop screens and keyboards?

      There are many different factors that create value for a user, and I would argue that trackpads (your post), keyboard quality (often mentioned by TR staffers), screen quality (the single most important thing for me in a laptop purchase), storage size or speed (after going SSD, there’s no way back), battery life, sturdiness, service quality, OS preference, etc. may prime “hard” specs for a certain audience.

      The $600 Acer 1830TZ I bought for my wife (the i3 version of the 1810) is indeed a nice machine but I would have payed $400 more to solve the following problems: slow hard drive, biblical (!!!) amounts of crapware, mediocre screen, outright shitty trackpad,…

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        CUSS WORDS!!!

    • codedivine
    • 9 years ago

    Good podcast as usual. As for ultraportables, am waiting for Zacate to show up. My Thinkpad X100e is serving me fine for now.

    • can-a-tuna
    • 9 years ago

    I had to listen the part of using over-clocked GTX460s in the new Radeon launch article and it was, somewhat interesting but also quite predictable. If you have to explain the choice made for over five minutes the it’s clearly not something that is intuitively justified.

    “overclocked doesn’t mean it’s overclocked”. I have to say that was a true gem :). So, nvidia partners are not just over-clocking their GF104 chip but they are actually creating new products and that is the basis of taking so many custom GTX460 cards in (you can check wikipedia or whatever page that OC’d geforces are not new products, GTX260 Core 216 you mentioned is). It is clear that AMD partners are eventually doing the same thing as nvidia partners were with GTX460, that is OC’ing the hell out of the chip with aid of one kilogram of copper and monster fan. Just because AMD doesn’t have those cards now at launch time mean they never have them, but it’s already too late for reviews sake.

    There is also a helluva thread on Anandtech about the same thing so this OC card inclusion is no small thing. I think it completely changes the way new card reviews are to be handled. Will AMD get their super-OC’d cards in next nvidia card review if AMD asks nicely and have nothing else to counter the competition? Maybe or maybe not, but that is the time when actual fairness and review policies are put into to the test.

      • Damage
      • 9 years ago

      Since you’re spamming our comments with your version of events, I’ll repeat my reply from earlier.

      For what it’s worth, we decided to test the cards we did after careful consideration, and we quite simply disagree with you on this issue.

      To explain our thinking, these *are* “official” products and quite real. I’ve linked to their Newegg listings in the review. You can buy them at prices competitive with the Barts-based Radeons, as we’ve noted.

      I sometimes think the use of the phrase “overclocked” confuses people. These are not overclocked in any traditional sense of the word. The products simply sell at higher clock rates than the GPU maker’s lowest specified base speed, fully tested and validated with full warranties. Even so, Nvidia works with its board partners to make these higher-speed models possible. I believe they even help with sorting/binning the GPUs. “Overclocked” simply sounds sexy, so they use it for marketing purposes. Folks should see through that.

      What’s more, there is tremendous and unusual range under the “GTX 460” banner now, from the slowest 768MB to the fastest 1GB version. We would have been remiss not to include a range of offerings representative of what’s available on the market at different prices. We took quite a bit of time explaining this dynamic in the review.

      It is possible Nvidia and its partners won’t keep its prices this low or clock this high (or that prices on the AMD products will change, too), and we allowed for that possibility. But we’ve relayed to you what Nvidia has told us and the world about its pricing and likely clock speeds on GTX 460 products.

      We will try to keep an eye on these things over time, but for now, we’ve decided they are credible enough in their stated intentions to be taken seriously. We treated AMD’s words with the same respect in making our choices here. That’s really the best we could do in trying to sort out a tough set of issues, IMO. Had we only tested a GTX 460 1GB at its original base clock, we’d have taken even more criticism from folks who want to know which, of the products they can buy, is best.

      Finally, we do include higher-clocked versions of Radeons in our reviews from time to time, but several factors prevent that from being common. AMD and its partners aren’t as aggressive about offering such products or pushing for higher clock speeds, so the choices are often limited. Also, last time around with the 5800 series, the 40nm supply problems prevented board makers from pushing the limits. Here’s hoping it’s not so bad this time. Finally, as with say the various chips in the GTX 400 series debuts over the past several months, AMD simply didn’t budge on prices or clock speeds in response to Nvidia, so we had nothing different to test or report. We did, for the record, include the fastest 5750 we could find in our GTS 430 review, but the pickings are sometimes rather slim.

        • codedivine
        • 9 years ago

        Just to let you know, certainly there are folks like me who think that testing was done appropriately. Really all that a review site needs to do is say: here are the products you can buy today at X and Y prices and here is how they perform. And that is exactly what TR and several other sites did so I think thats appropriate.

      • travbrad
      • 9 years ago

      “If you have to explain the choice made for over five minutes the it’s clearly not something that is intuitively justified.”

      Yes this is a great argument, why do anything that requires more than 5 minutes of coherent thought? Intuitively the earth is flat, intuition is often wrong.

      He needed a 5min explanation because a bunch of people are confused about what “overclocked” means. In fact, very few of the cards aren’t even called “overclocked” they call them “superclocked”, “FTW”, etc. Some of them don’t have anything at all really designating them as overclocked (unless you look at the detailed specs for the clock speeds).

      EDIT: The man himself beat me to it :p

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    Usually, the more units compared in a review, the better. I especially like when when there’s some extra time and the review has some legacy data, comparing the new product to some of the last generations’ favorites

    • JoJoBoy
    • 9 years ago

    In-N-Out all the way. Nothing like a Number 1 when you’re hungry.

      • KarateBob
      • 9 years ago

      Agreed. Five Guys’ Fries are good, and burgers are large, but In-N-Out’s are tastier and are a better value

        • travbrad
        • 9 years ago

        I’ve never been to either of those places, and I think In-N-Out is a Western US thing (in any case there are none here). There are a couple Five Guys here though so I guess I’ll have to try it some time.

      • jdrake
      • 9 years ago

      Haha – I knew I wouldn’t regret asking the audience – I grew up on In-N-Out – and while Five Guys is good (tasty cajon fries) – In-N-Out reigns supreme:-)

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        we don’t have either in canada, so i’ll say this. you’re all obese in the us. stop eating burgers.

        I didn’t want to be left out 🙁

          • Sargent Duck
          • 9 years ago

          Nope, none of those chains in Ontario either. But I can say we just got the KFC double down!

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      Rod’s Drive Inn – The Ugly Burger kicks your ass.

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    Is it just me, or is there no Volume control for the embedded audio podcast?
    Stock FireFox 3.6.12.

      • jdrake
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah – no volume control in our embedded player – I’m sure we could hunt around online for a better one – I’ll see what I can do:-)

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        you had better, mister jordan drake! or you could tell him to use a better browser and be a man. we’ll see what comes naturally to you. being a man, or solving his problem. and yes, they are exclusive.

    • travbrad
    • 9 years ago

    I’m glad you waited to do the podcast till after the new AMD cards were reviewed, should make for some interesting discussion. Downloading now.

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