#egmr » Marco http://egmr.net Let's Talk Games — Videogame News, Reviews & Opinions Mon, 17 Aug 2015 06:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 ShowMax, A Naspers Backed Netflix Competitor, Will Launch In South Africa Next Week http://egmr.net/2015/08/showmax-a-netflix-competitor-will-launch-in-south-africa-next-week/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/showmax-a-netflix-competitor-will-launch-in-south-africa-next-week/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:00:35 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174427 As South Africans we often are in the unenviable position of being consumers of Western media, while having to pay exorbitant amounts for the pleasure. The likes of traditional DSTV […]

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As South Africans we often are in the unenviable position of being consumers of Western media, while having to pay exorbitant amounts for the pleasure. The likes of traditional DSTV service are approaching the cost of paying for a cheap 2nd hand car every month. And, like a cheap car, there are a few charming aspects, but on the whole it’s a cobbled together menagerie of television channels most in South Africa will not watch. Unless of course you’re like me and you watch the Russian channel and play the “Vodka shots whenever someone says “Da”” game.

I’m joking of course; I can’t afford DSTV so I just sit alone and drink Vodka.

It was leaked yesterday and reported by mybroadband that South Africa is getting their own “Netflix” type service, called ShowMax. It will be launched and owned by Naspers, the same people who own DSTV through Multichoice. The subscription based video on demand service is set to launch next week, well ahead of Netflix’s planned expansion into other countries in 2016, one of them being South Africa. It’s no secret that a growing number of people are becoming dissatisfied with DSTV content and pricing and repetition, at least according to mybroadband surveys. The ShowMax pricing is, for lack of a better word, amazing, provided they deliver the content people want, not merely Egoli, Binnelanders and other South African shows we can already watch on MNET. The prices are R99 for the premium service, and free for the Basic version which has limited amount of content to watch for free.

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Content than can be confirmed are the likes of Arrow, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Ray Donovan, Elementary and Vikings. It’s not a terrible bad initial lineup at all, but I must be critical of the fact that a lot of the content shown on Netflix is not only television series, but interesting documentaries and shows produced by Netflix such as House Of Cards. On this front Naspers have acquired a stake in Icflix through Multichoice in April 2015, and is a VOD service primarily in North Africa and Arab areas. They have access to BollyWood(Indian cinema), NollyWood(Nigerian cinema) and Jazwood(Arabic cinema), so there is no shortage of original non-Western content to provide.

Another concern is we don’t know is if this content will be up to date or if it will keep up with the release schedules of the shows overseas(as DSTV attempts). I wonder if they will be like Netflix and release series season by season or episodes as they come? I guess the offering of a 7-day free trial to their Premium service will allow you gauge for yourself. A few devices with support the platform initially, with all major OS’s supported like Android and iOS tablets and phones, web browsers and even some smart TV’s from Samsung and LG. The service is slated to start next week on the 19th August. I can imagine a fair portion of the internet traffic in South Africa will be taking advantage of the free 7 day trial. I imagine a strong internet connection will be needed, since the service does scale up to 720P.

 

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For many the aspect of having to wait for ones show to screen is already a fossil of the past while on-demand fits into the lifestyle for many of the internet savvy consumers. As gamers alike we are well aware of the effect digital convenience platforms and price: Steam, Xbox Live and PSPlus have become synonymous with gaming. We’ve only had to circumvent geo-restrictions in some cases, but doing so is always a hassle and arguably arbitrary. Thus, it makes sense for those of us already having to pay for VPN or DNS services to watch Netflix to keep a pin in this and see if ShowMax might be the local VOD answer those are looking for. Now I hesitate to be overly critical towards DSTV and Naspers, but at the end of the day, content and quality is what will matter, as well as pricing and convenience. Convenience seems to be addressed as major platforms are supported and there is no geoblocking content it seems. Pricing seems more than fair given that those paying for Hulu or Netflix and other VOD services in South Africa currently pay between R100-R200 (for the service and the various unblocking services). The service is also not limited to South Africa and is set to move into other developing countries.

The only unknown is content, and how good that content will be or how many shows will be available that we are currently used to watching. It’s already widely known that even within countries that have Netflix, the best bouquet has always been the one offered to America, and so that even within those supported countries, people use unblocking services to access that content. Let that serve as some sort of caution towards ShowMax, because once Netflix is here, a real competitive landscape will arrive.

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ASUS R9 Fury Strix Unlocked And Overclocked To Record Clockspeeds http://egmr.net/2015/08/asus-r9-fury-unlocked-to-fury-x-and-overclocked-to-1000mhz-hbm-and-1400mhz-core/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/asus-r9-fury-unlocked-to-fury-x-and-overclocked-to-1000mhz-hbm-and-1400mhz-core/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 13:01:37 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174364 A lot of the praise that gets shown towards either AMD or Nvidia are in large part thanks to the design ingenuity and quality of their AIB partners. We’ve come […]

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A lot of the praise that gets shown towards either AMD or Nvidia are in large part thanks to the design ingenuity and quality of their AIB partners. We’ve come to see the likes of MSI Lighting, Gigabyte SuperOC, ASUS Strix and many other brands makes some of the best silicon in the land that much better. In some cases, the use of aftermarket reference cooling and design is even enough to make reference cards from Nvidia or AMD shoot up in popularity, much like what happened with the R9 290/290x series from AMD.

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Once again, it seems like the best sides of a GPU architecture are being lifted up by an AIB partner, this time in the form of the ASUS R9 Fury Strix card, featuring the new Fiji architecture launched by AMD last month. This card was not only taken to the extreme in terms of overclocking, but Xtreme Addict on HWBot (Team Pure) was able to also fully unlock his Asus R9 Fury Strix card into a fully R9 Fury X, meaning he unlocked the cut down Fiji GPU into a fully fledged Fury XT GPU, with it’s full allotment of shaders and TMUs(4096/256).

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Now not all R9 Fury cards will be capable of being unlocked, but it does help when the AIB partner gets to bin their selection of R9 Fury GPUs, while the custom PCB of the ASUS card played no small part in allowing this particular R9 Fury model achieve clockspeeds so high they beggar belief, even when unlocked to a full R9 Fury X. One of the primary shortcomings about the R9 Fury and R9 Fury X range of cards were their less than stellar overclocking achievements, and once again AIB partners have stepped in and done AMD a solid by designing a card capable of such feats.

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To be sure, this is not an every day “benchmark” run–these clockspeeds were only attainable by stripping away the amazing DCUII cooling and loading a flask with some LN2 to pour into state of the art Kinpin cooling pot (TEK9 6.66 Fat Pot). Running only as a R9 Fury, the card was clocked to a blistering 1450Mhz and 1000Mhz on the memory, for a total memory bandwidth of 1TB/s–the highest for any consumer level graphics card.

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It scored 9634 marks in 3DMark Firestrike Extreme, while a second test with the card unlocked to a full R9 Fury X did not seem to impede the clockspeeds by a great deal. The card achieved a stable clockspped of 1400Mhz and the same 1000Mhz on the memory,with a score of 10033 in 3DMark Firestrike Extreme. Now these scores are great for promotions, but I highly doubt many regular users will get anywhere near this kind of score. What it does mean, however, is that for people looking to buy an R9 Fury card, the chances of getting the ASUS Strix version may mean you can get a unlocked R9 Fury X in the process, and then win praise from the internet, get the girl or boy, and live happily ever after.

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Even though these are akin to suicide runs, that did not stop Xtreme Addict from sharing the processes involved to overclock these Fury cards so vigorously, essentially giving the blueprint to overclock what looks to be like the most impressive R9 Fury card out there:

LN2 TIPS:

1. Use HDMI port (I used it with HDMI – DVI adapter), on my card screen is blinking on DVI after 0.95v rail mod. HDMI port is fine even at -180*C.

2. If you can’t enter OS at certain temperature – lower 0,95v rail (E.G. from 1,25v to 1,2v).

3. 0.95v rail set to 1,25v should be enough for -120 -160*C range.

4. With lower temperature (-50*C and more) you have to use higher VGPU to boot into OS! I had to use around 1.35-1.5v (stress) to boot into OS, it will be around 1.1-1.15v idle (stock is 0.9v in idle).

5. You can set by trimpot/hotwire VGPU OS “boot” voltage and later raise it by GPUTWEAK – it works.

6. 1000 MHz HBM (500 MHz is stock) is current maximum frequency which we can set. For that I had to use 1.55v VMEM (stock is 1.35v). Note that on some cards score might be lower with too high memories.

7. My card doesn’t have CB or CBB.

8. PWM is strong, 1.6+ VGPU wasn’t a problem with a delta fan on it.

BIOSES AND SOFTWARE

Stock Fury and Fury X bios have COLD SLOW bug below 0*C (3D mode doesn’t work), you need a special BIOS with a fix. For now I used Fury X (ref) LN2 fixed BIOS but it works on Fury Strix cards.

 

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Corsair Strafes Us With New Peripherals At Gamescom 2015 http://egmr.net/2015/08/corsair-strafes-us-with-new-peripherals-at-gamescom-2015/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/corsair-strafes-us-with-new-peripherals-at-gamescom-2015/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:00:27 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174245 Corsair is probably one of my most favourite brands out there that I have hardly ever had the pleasure of owning. I’ve only ever owned one Corsair product, and I’m […]

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Corsair is probably one of my most favourite brands out there that I have hardly ever had the pleasure of owning. I’ve only ever owned one Corsair product, and I’m currently using it now to house my computer bits– an old Corsair 500R. I’ve watched idly by as my fellow enthusiasts have enjoyed a few generations of amazing Corsair products, such as the K-Series of mechanical keyboards, their H-Series of water coolers and their Vengeance series of Headsets and Mouses. An enduring trend among manufacturers is this convergence of products into one another, making each of their products in harmony with one another–Corsair has Link which connects your Corsair PSU, case fans and Corsair liquid cooler together through a software interface. This same level of integration has been somewhat missing in the rest of their product ranges, but at Gamescom 2015 Corsair delivered a 3 new series of Corsair products that aims to integrate their line of peripherals.  The Strafe Silent RGB Keyboard, VOID Headset and Scimitar RGB mouse were all launched, and like every other peripheral launch in 2014-2015, it’s RGB branded!

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First up we have the Strafe RGB mechanical keyboard, which although uses conventional red switches, makes use of a new Cherry MX Silent keyswitch technology(see here for more info). It promises to be a quieter gaming keyboard and it does look mightily attractive. Also, thanks to Corsair and Cherry doing the deed behind the shed, you can only experience the Cherry MX Silent on the Strafe for the next 6 months thanks to an exclusivity deal.

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For those in the market for new cans, Corsair also has a new line of VOID headsets, which come in 3 different flavours: Wireless, USB and Analog. For me this is actually a great design choice since it offers the same comforts of the VOID, such as ear cups shaped to fit our ears, as well as a connection type for those who have either a sound card, DAC or just want less cable clutter. The USB and Analog versions come with some extra features, such as InfoMic Status LED and a CUE control dial which allows users to control their soundscape without pausing their games to fiddle in audio software. All three versions have RGB lights and virtual surround sound.

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Last on the menu we have the Scimitar RGB, a MOBA/MMO focused mouse from Corsair, which means one thing: a plethora of buttons! Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve just come off The International 2015, but I’m finding my need for a MOBA mouse ever more relevant–also I need better solo MMR so I can stop crying at night. The key selling feature on this mouse is the “KeySlider” control system, which allows adjustment of 8mm for the entire side button panel. The mouse is also fully RGB, but besides a pretty lightshow, there is some hardcore gaming chops underneath it’s exterior in the form of an optical sensor capable of one bazillion DPI (it’s actually 12, 000DPI, but whose really counting anymore?). Simply put, I don’t doubt the optical sensor will be up to the task. The mouse uses Corsair’s CUE software suite which will allow some advanced changes to be made to the mouse. For anyone who is still on the fence about optical sensors over laser, please consider that many of the top gaming mouses released in the past 2 years have been using either optical sensors or hybrid versions of them. Although it does come down to the particular MCU and driver support of the vendors, optical sensors are generally more accurate than laser based ones.

Pricing for Corsair goodies has never been on the friendly side, but i’m confident that the pricing more or less justifies the experience. This is Corsair’s foray into the fully integrated RGB era of peripherals,and so far it’s looking pretty attractive to say the least. That being said, brace thyself: The Strafe Silent RGB will go for $159.99 (~R2500). The VOID will come in at three price points, with the Analog the cheapest at 79.99 (~R1250), USB at $99.99(~R1600) and the wireless model at $129.99(~2000). The Scimitar will be a pricey $79.99(~R1250), which means when its available around September, it will be quite an expensive mouse.

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Intel i7 6700K “Skylake” Delidded And Repasted Runs 20 Degrees Cooler http://egmr.net/2015/08/intel-i7-6700k-skylake-delidded-and-repasted-runs-20-degrees-cooler/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/intel-i7-6700k-skylake-delidded-and-repasted-runs-20-degrees-cooler/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 13:00:23 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174172 Since the days of Ivy-Bridge a new technical term made its way into my vocabulary–delid and delidding. Since Ivy-Bridge, Intel has taken to shipping their CPUs with a paste based […]

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Since the days of Ivy-Bridge a new technical term made its way into my vocabulary–delid and delidding. Since Ivy-Bridge, Intel has taken to shipping their CPUs with a paste based cooling solution within their IHS, instead of the much better heat conducting method of soldering seen on Sandy Bridge and HEDT chips (i7 5820k, i7 5960X etc). So, in an effort to decrease temperatures and wipe away the toothpaste that Intel uses, enthusiasts made use of delidding and applying their own high end thermal paste, with sometimes amazing results.

As the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same, and Intel are back to using a thermal paste solution on their newly released i7 and i5 Skylake processors. Japanese Publication PC Watch has successfully delidded Skylake and has not only shown how small the CPU actually is, but also how much thinner the PCB is compared to Broadwell and Haswell.

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As seen in a few YouTube videos, PC watch used the popular vice method to delid a i7 6700K. It’s important to note that although this method is tried and true, it must take into account that the substrate on this 14nm Intel CPU is much thinner, measuring at only 0.8mm, compared to Haswell’s 1.1mm thickness. Thankfully the size shortfall is made up from a thicker IHS (Integrated Heatspreader), so it still remains compatible with LGA 1150/1155 coolers.

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After delidding and wiping away the Mayonnaise that Intel passes as thermal paste, PC Watch tested the CPU with two different thermal compounds using a Cryorig R1 Ultimate cooler (there is no “stock” Intel cooler for i7 6700k). The results are simply amazing, and Intel’s stock Mayonnaise is beaten convincingly by these two aftermarket compounds, by as much as 20 degrees.

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With the Cool Laboratory TIM the drop off at 4.6GHz load temperatures goes from an insane 88 degrees on the stock paste to 68 on Cool Lab TIM–an impressive 20 degree improvement. Moving from air to water cooling will rarely even get a 20 degree improvement in load temperatures, so Intel must have really scraped the bottom of the barrel when sourcing some TIM for their CPUs.

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I can maybe understand why Intel went for a TIM cooling solution as CPU nodes have decreased–solder might not be safe to use on such a small die. The fact that Intel have shown their commitment to releasing enthusiast friendly refreshes with an improved TIM (Devils Canyon) means that they are more than aware of their lackluster stock TIM. It leads one to believe that this is merely another release to use as a rationale for another Devils Canyon (Angels Canyon?) refresh next year with improved overclocking ability and TIM. I guess Intel saw how well Devils Canyon worked as a stop-gap between the delays Broadwell, so maybe they might do the same here as well with KabyLake

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Cherry And Corsair Announces The MX Silent Switch Based Strafe Mechanical Keyboard http://egmr.net/2015/08/cherry-and-corsair-announces-the-mx-silent-switch-based-strafe-mechanical-keyboard/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/cherry-and-corsair-announces-the-mx-silent-switch-based-strafe-mechanical-keyboard/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174013 It seems like it’s been forever since Cherry MX has announced something of a worthwhile key switch for gaming. Personally I think RGB lighting is cool, but adds more flash […]

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It seems like it’s been forever since Cherry MX has announced something of a worthwhile key switch for gaming. Personally I think RGB lighting is cool, but adds more flash than function to a keyboard. To compete we’ve had the likes or Razer and Logitech bring their own switches into the market in order to offer an alternative to the German made Cherry MX switches, and have found some success. We all know the main reason for this was the on going snuggle-fest between Corsair and Cherry, a snuggle-fest which just so happens to be continuing for 6 more months with the launch of their new Cherry MX Silent switch. If you’ve ever been in the same room with two Cherry MX Blue switches clacking away (Me and the SO), then you’ll come to know madness.

So there is much rejoicing at the prospect that CherryCorp has decided to take the Murder out of the “Murder She Wrote” sounding switches.

The Silent Switch will debut in the newly launched Corsair Strafe Silent Mechanical Keyboard, which was launched for Pre-order for $159 alongside other new RGB Corsair mouse and headset
at Gamescom 2015. Now it appears that the new switches are not a new “switch” so to speak, but are essentially a new type of casing and noise reduction technology are integrating in-house developed solutions to make sure that each switch we’ve come to love and know (Red’s, Blue, Black etc) still retain their special characteristics, just with less noise. For some switches that’s amazing, yet, for others, it might not make much sense. Overall, the details are few and far between, but according to the video above, the new noise reduction technology comes from the inclusion of 2-component tappets, which reduce the audible clicks from bottoming and topping-out.

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Their website has some fantastic illustrations showing how their switches work. The other features of the new key switches are the clear plastic housing to help with that tasty RGB LED, as well as a glass fibre reinforced base and gold contacts, which help provide that 50 million key press standard Cherry has.

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Initially it seems that Cherry will only give the silent treatment to the MX Red and MX Black, but the press release does allure to the idea that other switches get the silent treatment as well. And thankfully so–the MX Reds and Blacks are already quite silent (in comparison to the MX Blues, Greens And Browns), so I can’t imagine the silent switch would make the MX Reds that much more silent than say on a MX Blue switch. More so, there are already simple 0-rings that can be used to silent those rigorous typing sessions, but it seems like these will effectively mean you no longer need to rely on any 0-Rings.  For those who’ve had to place 0-rings on an entire keyboard, I salute you and share your pain. The only other difference between the silent and regular switch is key travel, which was reduced from 4mm to 3.7mm.

As weird a decision to imply red switch in the video, I think I understand Corsair and Cherry’s thinking. If we assume that since this is new technology, with arguably limited production numbers, it makes sense to put these switches on what’s probably the most popular gaming stem- MX Reds. There is only a 6 month exclusivity deal (as opposed to the year long RGB switch deal), so I think both Cherry and Corsair may just want to get this new technology into the palms of most gamers, and to do that they need to offer them on Cherry MX Red stems.

Are you looking forward to the new “silent” era of Mechanical typing?

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Should You Upgrade To Intel’s Skylake? http://egmr.net/2015/08/should-you-upgrade-to-intels-skylake/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/should-you-upgrade-to-intels-skylake/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 13:00:44 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173913 Yesterday Intel knelt before the Silicon Gods and offered up another Moore’s Law shattering improvement over past generations of Intel CPUs. At Gamescom 2015 Intel launched their 2 new processors, […]

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Yesterday Intel knelt before the Silicon Gods and offered up another Moore’s Law shattering improvement over past generations of Intel CPUs. At Gamescom 2015 Intel launched their 2 new processors, the i7 6700K and the i5 6600k, based on the Skylake architecture. A flurry of reviews went up, people read/watched, nodded and commented on how they would not be upgrading since they expected Moore Law to keep the 18-24 month schedule of improvement. For many people who’ve bought a processor in the past 3 years, the improvements over anything Intel has released is not as earth shattering as many have wanted from a die shrink down to 14nm. Suffice it to say, but if you’ve got anything since Ivy-Bridge, the upgrade is not really worth your investment, at least not straight away at current prices.

But for those who’ve been on Nehalem or the amazing Sandy Bridge setup for the past 4-5 years, this generation does offer around 25% improvement over your current system, and in my mind that warrants an upgrade to the new platform. It seems that a lot of people are contemplating the same thing, and as such a video by PCPerformance detailing the performance differences between Sandy Bridge and Skylake was released alongside their review. As suspected, it showed some worthy differences in more modern CPU loving games like GTA V and also showed that even when game performance is similar, FCAT or Frame Times measurements, show the 6700k Skylake architecture is much better at offering lower frame variance compared to the venerable 2600k.

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It’s not all rosy, however.As I’ve looked through the various review sites and videos, the intial reactions are seemingly underwhelming, with the likes of Anandtech even showing worse 3D performance over Haswell and Broadwell systems, something that has only really happened with AMD and when their Bulldozer architecture was released. It must be a driver issue with the new motherboards or something, since that just does not seem to be an accurate representation. It does seem that other sites, like PCPerformance, do show performance increases that we would expect over Haswell and Broadwell, and they are mild.

With the new Skylake architecture you can’t just drop the new CPU in your existing H97 or Z97 board–the LGA1551 and LGA1550 sockets are not compatible and your will need a new 7170 chipset based motherboard. For those on DDR3, you’re also out of luck, unless you have DDR3L (low Voltage 1.35) sticks. However, for the majority of the people out there, this offers them a cheaper way to enjoy the benefits of DDR4 without dropping mad stacks of cash on an X99 based system.

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For many people who have wanted a return to the Nehalem/Core 2 Duo and Sandy Bridge overclocking days, Intel giveth and Intel taketh away. On the one hand Intel have removed BCLK ratios, and have resorted to FSB-like type overclocking. Now it’s not really the same, but in spirit it offers granularity of CPU overclocking that enthusiasts will enjoy, since not only can you mess about with the unlocked multiplier, you can also tweak the BCLK settings in 1Mhz increments for more options in overclocking.

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Now as great as that sounds, this CPU is still a long way away from the mad frequencies of Sandy Bridge easy 5 GHz on air or water cooling. No, for most reviewers a paltry 500-700Mhz increase was achieved on the 6700k at a voltage of 1.4V meaning one can expect 4.5Ghz to 4.8Ghz overclocks–anything more requires exotic LN2 cooling to keep the voltage and temperatures in check. The 6600K fared even worse, which sadly means it does not hold up the mantle for the cheap gamer/overclocker hoping to squeeze some extra performance.

So, when it comes down to it, should you upgrade to this new platform? If you’re like me and still rocking a Sandy Bridge 2600k/2500k setup, I’d say you’ve got the best mainstream platform to upgrade to for at least the next 12 months, and I’m trying to convince myself I don’t need to eat 3 meals a day. Skylake will give you some welcome performance increases and access to new technology, such as PCI-express 3.0 (for the non Z68/Ivy Bridge models) as well as new storage options for PCI-Express SATA, native USB 3.0 and vendor supplied USB3.1, as well as a host of other improvements and features. If you’re still on a Haswell/Devils Canyon/Broadwell setup, then the cost will not be worth it and you’ll see lackluster improvements.

If you’re like me, it’s time to forgo fancy luxuries like red meat and petrol (Eskom’s got your power saving covered) and break out the chicken and bicycle to save up for this next platform from Intel. If you want to purchase these new chips, locally it seems only Evetech have stock of both CPUs and Motherboards, but RebelTech has much better pricing on the CPUs, although thanks to the Rand slipping past R20/Pound, you can expect the $350 6700k CPU to be north of R5000. For those who cant stomach that, the more palatable and gamer friendly 6600K is sitting pretty at R3699

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Rumoured Prices For Intel Skylake Revealed: Cheaper Than Haswell? http://egmr.net/2015/08/rumoured-prices-for-intel-skylake-revealed-cheaper-than-haswell/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/rumoured-prices-for-intel-skylake-revealed-cheaper-than-haswell/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:00:21 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173803 Gamescom is a few days away, and it’s expected that Intel will be launching their new “Skylake” processors for desktops at the event. Initially there will be only two processors […]

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Gamescom is a few days away, and it’s expected that Intel will be launching their new “Skylake” processors for desktops at the event. Initially there will be only two processors launched, in the form of the high end Core i7 6700K and Core i5 6600K. As the internet is a lovely place to turn the rumour mill and churn out some hype, some rumoured prices are starting to do the rounds, and it seems that not only will Intel not charge more than it’s outgoing Devil’s Canyon chips, they might be cheaper.

According to BenchLife, the price of the i7 6700K will be $316 while it’s cheaper 4 core non-Hyper threaded brethren, the i5 6600K, will come priced at $225. It’s important to note that these are below past MSRP prices for both Haswell chips released in the past two years, which where around $350 for the i7’s and $240–$250 for the i5’s. BenchLife also has produced a list showing the rumoured prices of other Intel CPUs to come out of the Skylake range.

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Now before you jump for joy at the prospect of still dropping thousands of rands onto new hardware, please note that although this price seems cheaper right now, the dictates of the market are more influencing that the prices reported on the digital pages. What this means, effectively, is that in conjunction with the rumour that the initial Skylake chips will be in short supply, you can bet your family heirlooms that the price will be quite far north of the MSRP mark, rumour or otherwise. Even if these rumoured prices are not accurate, the price for early adopters is paid in full by the more than MSRP mark-ups applied to new hardware being released.

If this rumoured pricing is true, then perhaps once supply meets demand and if the Rand value does not take another dive off a cliff due to some presidential scandal or public enterprise embarrassment, then perhaps–perhaps– those of us wanting to upgrade can pick up the new chipset and CPU for close to the current prices of Haswell based systems. We can already see some retailers, like RebelTech, introducing some stock clearing specials on their Devil’s Canyon stock, most likely to clear up some space for the new Skylake processors. It’s sad to note that it would have been cheaper for you to buy Devil’s Canyon when it released than the pricing it currently has now, even on special. Regardless, those looking to upgrade from Sandy Bridge, like myself, will most likely bite the bullet.

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You Can Now Turn Off Forced Automatic Updates In Windows 10: Welcome To The Future http://egmr.net/2015/08/you-can-now-turn-off-forced-automatic-updates-in-windows-10-welcome-to-the-future/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/you-can-now-turn-off-forced-automatic-updates-in-windows-10-welcome-to-the-future/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173767 I’m pretty sure a fair amount of people have moved over to the new operating system known as Windows 10 or as I like to call it, Windows Forever. For […]

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I’m pretty sure a fair amount of people have moved over to the new operating system known as Windows 10 or as I like to call it, Windows Forever. For the most part the installation woes have been adequately tackled, with guides and tricks put out onto the internet to bring you up to speed. It’s crazy to note that Microsoft’s Windows 10 download accounted for 8% of internet traffic on the 29th July 2015, which probably means that a fair amount of the internet-going population are now filling up Microsoft’s data centres with all manner of private information you agreed to share.

But all we really care about are those pesky automatic downloads that break your Nvidia drivers, right? Right.

It’s been a hefty niggle all throughout the Windows 10 preview and release that all updates are automatic and you can’t select which ones you want to install or not. For any PC user who’s spent an iota of time dealing with driver issues, you’ll know that if something is not broken you rarely want to insert something that might break it. So, people only really want to update their drivers when they need to or when they are prompted to for some unrealised benefit. With Windows 10 it was not possible for anything to go wrong ever, that was, until driver conflicts started cropping up. Like a benevolent dictator, Microsoft have released a tool to fix problem that should not have been an issue to begin with. It’s a tool that allows you to block updates that may cause issues or uninstall specific updates that broke your PC somehow. The problem is that even if you personally uninstalled the update, Windows 10 would just redownload and reinstall it, causing a never ending loop and eventual singularity of your fist meshing with the monitor.

So, with this tool users can avoid automatic downloads and prevent the system from reinstalling drivers which you ear mark as problem ones, which for members of the Nvidia or AMD Fraternity, means your Windows won’t automatically download drivers which may wreak havoc with your system. If you’re confident that the previously offensive drivers are now playing nice, you can always uncheck and have Microsoft download the new driver–the problem then means you’ll constantly have to do this if you want to update at set points. For those with graphics card updates, it means to update to the latest and not have to keep downloading future ones, you’ll have to enable it and then disable it once it’s completed.

I’m not sure how this is an upgrade to previous methods, which essentially had you tick a box, but benevolent dictators are usually correct in everything they do…

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Local Overclocking Star Vivi Creates Stunning 3D Promo Advert For G-Skill Mechanical Keyboards http://egmr.net/2015/07/local-overclocking-star-vivi-creates-stunning-3d-promo-advert-for-g-skill-mechanical-keyboards/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/local-overclocking-star-vivi-creates-stunning-3d-promo-advert-for-g-skill-mechanical-keyboards/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:00:46 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173624 For those who have an inkling of the local overclocking scene, you’ll recognise online names like dRweEz, Shock G, Tweak Venetica and Vivi. Last year at rAge 2014 we got to […]

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For those who have an inkling of the local overclocking scene, you’ll recognise online names like dRweEz, Shock G, Tweak Venetica and Vivi. Last year at rAge 2014 we got to see their overclocking prowess at hand as all manner of high end equipment were put through their chilling LN2 paces. It was the first time meeting a lot of the names I’d come to know only through conversing with online or reading about their overclocking exploits and I was happy to see them as chilled offline as they are online (no pun intended). I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a professional overclocker, but it’s always good to see the SA flag at overclocking events among the many other foreign ones–and there are almost always two of them! Not only do they compete, they often win or finish close to the top of the particular event.

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But bending hardware to their will has it’s time and place. It’s no secret that the “professional” in “professional overclocking” is exactly that–a profession. Beyond being a passion and challenge for any tech head, it’s simply promotional work for the brands that host events, such as MSI’s Masters Of Overclocking or various hardware sponsored events such as Gigabyte at CES or G-Skill at Computex. At the end of the day, it’s just highly entertaining LN2 infused promotional work. Don’t misconstrue that description as taking anything away from the extremely talented people who overclock at these events; they might be given hardware to break records with and promote, but they are also often the first group of external testers who know what they’re doing and can give valuable feedback to the vendors to improve their products in the form of bios or firmware testing.

 

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Vivi at rAge 2014 Evetech/MSI Stand

 

Just like the crazy belief only a few short years ago that gaming could lead to a career, now it’s becoming clear that if you play it right, overclock well enough, you can actually use your talent to gain some career making advancements in other areas of the tech industry (without having to be the next HiCookie or K|NGP|N). In conversation with Vivi on Carbonite I asked how his success as a professional overclocker has on helped him and the answer was pretty clear: A lot

Overclocking is the reason all of this was possible. I work with the same marketing team that provides me with overclocking gear. So i have excellent contact windows for adverts thanks to overclocking.

Now not many know of the “otherside” of the overclocker; the side that brings home the bacon for most of the year when they are not knee-deep in solder and liquid nitrogen. Vivi has not only been able to bend and push hardware to his will, but revealed on local tech forum Carbonite that he is also an adept 3D voodoo artist, able to bend the insides of 3D animation software. After three years of studying and only after three months of having started his own studio company, he (and a freelancer) have produced an exquisite piece of promotional advertising for G-Skill’s new Ripjaw lineup of mechanical keyboards. Now besides my own personal fetish for mechanical keyboards (and these G-Skill’s do look like dam fine specimens) we at EGMR always appreciate the development of local talent in the gaming industry, and want to extend a big hearty congratulations and happy future prospects for Vivi. He’s definitely shown us, and the world, what kind of work him and his studio can produce. As of yet there is no website and his studio is still testing names but he has informed me that there will be a website in September. If you like what you see you can contact Vivi using–goddy (dot) roodt AT gmail dot com.

On another note, I wonder if he might have put in a good word to G-Skill to extend their supply of their keyboards to local distributors? One can only hope!

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AMD And Nvidia Release Direct X 12 Windows 10 Drivers http://egmr.net/2015/07/amd-and-nvidia-release-direct-x-12-windows-10-drivers/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/amd-and-nvidia-release-direct-x-12-windows-10-drivers/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:00:01 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173581 For those who managed to avoid activation issues, server congestion and have some extra cap to download the latest Windows 10 Operating System from Microsoft, please be aware that your […]

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For those who managed to avoid activation issues, server congestion and have some extra cap to download the latest Windows 10 Operating System from Microsoft, please be aware that your shiny new OS also has some new GPU drivers from both Green and Red. Obviously if you’re on GeForce Experience or AMD Gaming Evolved, the notification should have already come through to download more things. These drivers bring bug fixes and resolve issues with the drivers during the Windows 10 beta, so they should be pretty stable as things stand now: I’m pretty sure AMD and Nvidia have all done their best to provide a better user experience as people venture into new OS territory–no one wants to be the cause for heartache and issues once users have upgraded to a new operating system.

The new Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers for Windows 10 are DirectX 12-ready and fully support the new features and capabilities of the new API. The new drivers support Windows display driver model 2 (WDDM 2.0–necessary for Direct X 12 support) for GCN powered cards as well as Kepler and Maxwell powered cards. Older architectures, like Fermi or HD 6000 series from AMD will still run on WDDM 1.3 mode.

The features from AMD’s Catalyst driver 15.7.1 are not very different from that of 15.7 (Which were also “Windows 10″ ready), effectively drivers that support the entirety of AMD’s GCN lineup in the last six years. The new drivers support the new Fury cards, as well as support for AMD FreeSync(even in multi-GPU CFX configurations) frame rate target control and other features like Virtual Super Resolution. These drivers, which are essentially tweaked 15.7 drivers, do bring welcome performance gains for AMD’s Fury lineup, especially at lower resolutions.

For those with green-tinted glasses, Nvidia’s GeForce 353.62 Game–ready drivers are compatible with all Nvidia cards as far back as Fermi, meaning those old GTX 400 and GTX 500 cards still kicking around in systems. The latest drivers are Windows 10 ready, which means all those “Insiders” who were testing the Windows 10 beta gave their time and hair loss so that Nvidia could apply the latest tweaks and bug fixes to ensure proper optimisation for gaming. It’s also important to note that Nvidia is offering Direct X 12 support for graphics cards which are one and a half years older than the GPUs from AMD and Intel, so that’s something special from them. Still, confirmed support is not the same as actual support, and Fermi card’s DX 12 drivers are going to be delayed.

Has anybody managed to download the new drivers and test them on some games in Windows 10? If so, let us know how they perform in the comment section. I myself have been stuck trying to upgrade, and until The International is concluded, I might just forgo updating.

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Get Downloading Windows 10 Now http://egmr.net/2015/07/get-downloading-windows-10-now/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/get-downloading-windows-10-now/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:00:20 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173522 As I type this my laptop is busy downloading the Windows 10 Pro edition for my desktop PC at home. For many “Insiders” (way to leverage that social identity antogonism, […]

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As I type this my laptop is busy downloading the Windows 10 Pro edition for my desktop PC at home. For many “Insiders” (way to leverage that social identity antogonism, Microsoft) you got a lovely notification on your windows update centre in Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 (Vista never happened, don’t you know). For those who want to download Windows 10 and have not got any notification through Windows Update, you can follow this helpful guide from VentureBeat (courtesy of Windows 10 Reddit) on some tricks to help fool Windows 8.1/7 into thinking you can update.

Yet if you’re like me and trying to download Windows 10 copy for another PC, Microsoft has made it simple. In fact this method can also be used to install Windows 10 instead of following the above mentioned method. For those yet to be accepted into the new OS Valhalla, we can download the ISO or USB bootable copy of Window 10 to install ourselves, and all it takes is getting a USB you’re not using or writable DVD and downloading it using the very awesome Media Creation Tool. It’s software that will automatically  download Window 10 and then, depending on your choice, create a bootable DVD or a bootable USB to put it on.

After you’re done selecting the version and type (32-bit/64-bit) you are upgrading from, be it Windows 7 or Window 8 (list here and FAQ), you’ll start the download of around 3GB.

Windows 10

Once that’s done we’ll meet on the other end and start the embrace of our new OS Overlord. Please note that although the process can be done as an upgrade, meaning your files, applications and settings should migrate to the new OS, but there is a chance that some apps will not work. So, as with all things you do when installing an OS, backup everything you cannot afford to lose.

This will be my first taste of the new OS and I can say it’s been one I’ve been keen for. I never had issue with Windows 8 for the year or so I’ve been using it, I definitely do miss having a start menu! The fact that it’s also a free upgrade has brought a grin to many faces, but MS will make up for it in other ways, offering services and apps through their Microsoft Store.

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Competition Time! Win Cooler Master Novatouch PBT Purple Keycaps http://egmr.net/2015/07/competition-time-win-cooler-master-novatouch-pbt-purple-keycaps/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/competition-time-win-cooler-master-novatouch-pbt-purple-keycaps/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173458 Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the extremely satisfying Cooler Master Novatouch TKL keyboard, featuring the first ever hybrid Topre and Cherry MX compatible switch and keycap combo. […]

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Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the extremely satisfying Cooler Master Novatouch TKL keyboard, featuring the first ever hybrid Topre and Cherry MX compatible switch and keycap combo. This effectively meant you could have the pleasure of using the world class Topre switch, while also having the customisability of Cherry MX keycap designs that cater to the Cherry MX Switch based keyboards.

For those lucky enough to own a Novatouch, we have a single set of Purple/Black coloured PBT keycaps to give away to one lucky reader! For those who don’t have a Novatouch don’t despair. If you were paying attention, these keycaps are Cherry MX compatible and will fit on any Cherry MX mechanical keyboard from other brands, not only Cooler Master. Bare in mind that it is a tenkeyless set, so for those full keyboard readers, you might not be too interested. For everyone else, here’s the review of the Novatouch I did last year.

Keyboard enthusiasts are not only passionate about the technology, be they topre or mechanical switches, but are also concerned with the look of their keyboard, and much like a modder will mod their case to fit a particular theme, or a power user will tweak their overclocking settings, a keyboard enthusiast will tweak their experience of their keyboards to their own desires.

As much as I loved the Cooler Master Novatouch TKL keyboard, it’s one flaw (even though I personally did not mind) was perhaps that it was too bland. It just did not have any “wow” factor, regardless of the beautiful technology underneath. I’m pretty sure Cooler Master knew it might gain that reputation as a bland but brilliant keyboard, so they commissioned some promotional hand-made purple PBT keycaps to showcase their implementation of that killer Cherry MX Stem, which allows Cherry MX keycaps to be used on your Novatouch.

For those wanting to know how the keycaps stack up performance wise, I can say that they are definitely high quality. It comes in a neat box, and for those who will want to store your keycaps, there is a useful keycap plate on which to secure them.

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As for feeling they are a lot more “rugged” than the standard Novatouch keycaps, offering a more tactile feel and grip. The dimensions of the keycaps are slightly shorter than the stock keycaps, which for some reason does make them slightly louder when typing, and for some this aural feedback may be desired. I do recommend, at least on the Novatouch, the use of the provided 0-rings that come with the Novatouch.

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It’s a first for me to swop out the entirety of my keycaps, and I was mildly surprised to see how much of a difference it made to the typing experience on the same keyboard I’ve been using for quite a few months.

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Aesthetically the splash of purple does spruce up the keyboard, and that grading effect is done perfectly and in tune with keeping the keyboard true to its minimalist look.

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Now, it’s not all good and there are some things to consider–the keycap lettering is not as crisp or clear as the standard keys and does result in some squinting in low light to see the key lettering. The lettering is laser-etched, so it wont fade, thankfully not adding to already poor visibility. This issue could have been addressed if there was an option for backlighting, but even if you do use these keycaps on a backlit keyboard, they are not backlight friendly and will not let any light through the lettering.

Those faults aside, I don’t see it as too much of a concern for those who value new keycaps for their Novatouch or might for the first time consider trying out new keycaps on one of their tenkeyless keyboards. If you’re keen to win these keycaps, all you need to do is comment here with a tech related question or in the Ask Marco article.

Things to remember:
  • Terms and conditions apply.
  • The winner will be the commenter with the most suitable question for answering in the next Ask Marco article.
  • The winner will be contacted using the email associated with their Disqus comment profile.
  • This giveaway was made possible by Cooler Master.

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Ask Marco: Have You Tried Turning Me On And Off Again? http://egmr.net/2015/07/ask-marco-have-you-tried-turning-me-on-and-off-again/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/ask-marco-have-you-tried-turning-me-on-and-off-again/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173416 Sometimes the wonderful people here at EGMR ask me questions regarding their PC or future PC–some ask for help in choosing all the parts for their whole new powerful i7 gaming PC, […]

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Sometimes the wonderful people here at EGMR ask me questions regarding their PC or future PC–some ask for help in choosing all the parts for their whole new powerful i7 gaming PC, some ask about specific component based upgrades, and others ask about how to clean Nesquik off their keyboard. I’ve made peace with the reality that often I get given a blank cheque to build monstrously powerful PCs that I won’t ever get to game on, or can currently afford. It’s a sad sate of affairs, but at least I get my fix through vicariously enjoying PCs capable of Batman: Arkham Knight at 30fps, amirite Azhar?

Why am I here again? Oh right! You, the lovely audience!

So, instead of the EGMR people hoarding me all to themselves, I present myself, nakedly open, to you the gracious audience, with a proposition–Tell me what you’d like to know regarding some aspect of PC tech and if my Goog…I mean, er, infallible intelligence can answer it, I will do my best to answer and discuss the question in an article. If the question and answer are simple enough, I’ll do just the same in a tweet or Facebook comment.

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So, how might this look? Let’s take a commonly asked question:

“Should I, or how can I overclock my CPU/GPU/Memory to get better fps in games?”

The quick answer will be a “Yes”, the longer answer will be “Yes, but is it worth it?”. I would then offer reasons and safeguards to take while overclocking, the appropriate software to use to alter your frequencies and voltage and, most importantly, the software to use to stress test the system while keeping an eye on temperatures. Let’s say you wanted to know why you should/shouldn’t get a particular component, ask and I’ll give you my thoughts on the choices, or perhaps point you to an alternative option which might be more suited to your needs.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that there are gaps in my knowledge regarding tech, but I see this as an opportunity to learn as well as to inform. Often the best way to gain understanding and knowledge is when you are asked questions you have not the faintest answer to. You know the saying, half the solution is asking the right question–I’d take that a stretch further and say half the solution to anything is asking questions at all since it shows some level of inquisitiveness that defines us as those creative human beings we are.

Okay, humanist existential examination digression over.

As the Good Book says, “Ask and you shall receive”. What it doesn’t tell you is that God didn’t have Twitter at the time so it took longer to get an answer. Thankfully I’m not God so I can try to get an answer to you as timeously as possible. Recall that “receive” bit a sentence or two ago? Since you’re hopefully doing some asking we thought that as a way to reward that spark of inquisitiveness, we at EGMR are working on getting some regular goodies for giveaway, but for now we have a good looking set of purple coloured Cherry MX compatible Cooler Master Keycaps!

These are designed for the Cooler Master Novatouch (An excellent keyboard I might add), but they are Cherry MX Compatible so they’ll fit on any keyboard that has a Cherry MX Switch. If you’d like to know more about them, have a read over here as I “briefly” go through the keycaps.

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All you have to do to enter is comment below asking a PC tech related question, or on the competition article.

Things to remember:
  • Terms and conditions apply.
  • The winner will be the commenter with the most suitable question for answering in the next Ask Marco article.
  • The winner will be contacted using the email associated with their Disqus comment profile.
  • This giveaway was made possible by Cooler Master.

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Performance Increases For Skylake Are Impressive According To Leaked Slides http://egmr.net/2015/07/performance-increases-for-skylake-are-impressive-according-to-leaked-slides/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/performance-increases-for-skylake-are-impressive-according-to-leaked-slides/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:24 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173429 Another 18 months have passed, and another new mainstream Intel CPU architecture is upon us. You may think that Moore’s Law is still humming along, but in reality the advances of […]

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Another 18 months have passed, and another new mainstream Intel CPU architecture is upon us. You may think that Moore’s Law is still humming along, but in reality the advances of processing has sort of hit a “Nanometer dead end” regarding node sizes and incremental increases in performance, meaning for the first time Moore’s Law does not hold in our current technological era.

This, although, has not stopped Intel from duly releasing CPUs, like their Skylake architecture, that tick many new features, such as an integrated iGPU with support for DirectX 12, Open GL 4.4 and Open CL 2.0. It will also be the heart of the new Z170 series of motherboards with full support for DDR4, as well as backward compatibility for DDR3 on some, most likely, cheaper, motherboards.

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It’s been rumoured to launch in August, which just so happens to be when another annual technology and gaming event is to occur: Gamescom, which just so happens to be next week. Thanks to some FanlessTech leaks those 2-10 of us who are interested in the next micro architecture can get our hype glands pumping. From the slides we can see that there is quite a healthy chunk of performance over the outgoing Haswell 4970K, although in some cases as reported earlier, it seems non existent. It just behooves us to remember that clock for clock improvements–as well as performance per watt–are what the name of the game is now:do more, with the same or less TDP. Most of the performance increases can be levelled at the iGPU, which is netting a maximum of 41% better performance, while the expected 10% CPU performance increase is there for that Intel approved performance leg up over last generation.

 

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For anyone with eyes, you’ll notice that the outgoing Haswell i7 4790K had a lower TDP than the close to release i7 6700K–88W<95W. There is a reason for that, and it’s the iGPU, which takes a significant amount of space on the die, but has supposedly increased in leaps and bounds compared to the previous HD 4600.

 

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It’s no stretch to see that Intel went with balancing power and iGPU consumption in mind here, something that is definitely garnering increasing attention as HTPC/Living room PCs such as Steam Machines gain in mind share.  For systems builders who want a small form factor PC, having a low power and high performing chip in both CPU and GPU terms can make the difference. An iGPU is never going to give a proper gaming grade discrete GPU a run for its money, but when we consider DirectX 12 can allow for onboard GPUs to work in tandem with discrete GPUs, it opens up a whole extra argument for gamers to consider having a fast CPU with a faster iGPU. This coupled with the fact that Intel’s Broadwell iGPU is already sticking it hard to the best AMD APU, means that Intel definitely has some interesting things to reveal come August. Now all we need is for PC gaming to not suffer the scourge of console ports, ala Batman: Arkham Knight.

If there is one thing that might diminish the attractiveness of the i7 6700k, it’s the 5820K. Depending on the price of the new chips, this Hex-core CPU from Intel might be more gamer friendly than Intel would anticipate.

Either way, I for one have my hammer and piggy bank ready.

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Nvidia GTX 950 Launching Next Month: Next “Maxwell-Lite” Card Is Upon Us http://egmr.net/2015/07/nvidia-gtx-950-launching-next-month-specifications-leaked/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/nvidia-gtx-950-launching-next-month-specifications-leaked/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173376 As is tradition, AMD usually are quite adept at having a full lineup of cards from the low end R7 360 all the way up to the high end R9 […]

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As is tradition, AMD usually are quite adept at having a full lineup of cards from the low end R7 360 all the way up to the high end R9 Fury X. To be completely fair, AMD has done this by rebranding older cards to slot into cheaper price categories, something that Nvidia have not really done that much recently–for instance I don’t see the GTX 750 Ti reselling as the GTX 950 Ti, whereas AMD are not too phased with bringing 2-3 year old GPU’s to bear on the market. Regardless, AMD have a plethora of options in the budget range, while Nvidia doe not really have anything to compete with AMD in the sub $199. That will come to an end in August, when Nvidia is planning on launching the GTX 950 on the 17th August 2015.

Now, although admirable, the presence of much older first generation Maxwell cards found in the GTX 750 Ti and GTX 750 have remained quite pricey for their performance. Only recently have Nvidia finally given some proper price cuts on the older Maxwell cards, giving credence to the leaks and claims made by HWBattle that this new Maxwell card will arrive next month. The card will give Nvidia some chops to muscle their way into the sub $150 segment currently occupied by older AMD hardware with newer names. These cards, such as the R7 360 and R7 370 which retail at $109 and $149, kick the snot out of the current GTX 750ti and GTX 750  Nvidia has twiddling thumbs in that segment. This will also probably be the end of the Maxwell range of graphics cards from Nvidia as they shift their energy to bringing their HBM2 powered Pascal cards out to market next year.

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The GTX 950 card will be powered by a cut down GM206 GPU found in the GTX 960, which will feature 6 SMM units housing 768 CUDA Cores, 48 texture mapping units and, like the GTX 960, has 32 ROPs. Now thanks to the high clocking capabilities of the Maxwell architecture, it’s been estimated that the GPU will come with a clockspeed of 1150-1250 MHz base and a 1350- 1450 MHz boost clockspeed. On the memory front all remains pretty much in line with the history of entry level gaming Nvidia GPUs–this card will have 2GB of GDDR5 Vram operating on a 128 bit bus, at speeds of 6.6-6.75 GHz with a maximum bandwidth of 107.68GB/s. Unlike the GTX 750 ti it is replacing, the TDP is slightly bigger at 90W TDP as opposed to the 60W of the former. On the surface it looks like it should be within TDP range of the GTX 750 Ti it is replacing, but it’s got more in common TDP wise with the GTX 960, of which it is 30W less. I’m not entirely sure why the decrease is not much more substantial, but it must be down to the increased core speeds. Memory bandwidth is right up there with the GTX 960, so expect the card to not have any trouble giving the R7 360 and R7 370 a good run for their money. From some beard scratching and 60 seconds of pondering I imagine that the card will perform admirably at 1080p, possibly even driving a few high end settings at that range of the spectrum. The thing that holds all budget cards back however, is the memory bandwidth. On this “little GPU that could” i very much doubt you’ll be cranking up the AA or post-processing features. However, if all you’re looking to do is be able to play some MOBA’s like LoL or Dota 2 or the odd online FPS, then there probably wont be a better budget range Nvidia card to come out in a while. This will effectively give those gamers who though the GTX 9XX series was just a bit too expensive a ~$150 priced Maxwell 2.0 card, with all the features you’d expect to benefit from, such as DX 12, GeForce Experience Features and low power consumption.

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Xbox One Will Be Getting Mouse And Keyboard Support http://egmr.net/2015/07/xbox-one-will-be-getting-mouse-and-keyboard-support/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/xbox-one-will-be-getting-mouse-and-keyboard-support/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173334 Windows 10 aims to be the most integrated OS the Microsoft has ever produced, with the OS being designed not only for the traditional desktop, but tablets as well as […]

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Windows 10 aims to be the most integrated OS the Microsoft has ever produced, with the OS being designed not only for the traditional desktop, but tablets as well as mobile. Now we now that even the Xbox One will get its own special version of Windows 10. Beyond that there is not much else that is known about how the OS will integrate with the console, although now thanks to Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, we know it will have bring support for keyboards and mice.

Unless this is not apparently important to you, it may just be able to turn your very own Xbox into a proper lounge based PC streaming machine, in which you are able to stream your PC games onto the Xbox One. We already know that in Windows 10 the Xbox One will be able to stream onto your PC, but having it go the other way round does flip the table on the competition—and I’m not talking only Sony and the PS4 only, but Valve and other Steam Machine maker who wants to bring small form PC gaming to the living room.

It will give the Xbox One a competitive advantage in being able to support games or genres that are not essentially on console or friendly to play on console, such as strategy games or PC exclusive titles (which also happen to mostly be popular strategy games). I’m pretty sure when gamers derided Microsoft for taking their console into the home entertainment sphere, they never thought that it possibly meant having access to a gaming console and a living room PC.

As someone who recently purchased an Xbox One, and am in line to upgrade to Windows 10, I am pretty chuffed right now. If Windows 10 is to mainly generate revenue through its services and paid for apps, then this definitely will help Microsoft expand their reach and games for Windows 10. You might ask why you should even bother with the Xbox One then, since Microsoft seem to be turning their console into a low-end living room PC. Some may see this negatively, but once you factor in the recent price drop in SA by R800 (remember this is world where the Rand is nearly R20 to the British Pound), you can argue that this potential low powered gaming PC/console is not such a bad investment. Do take that final statement of mine with a pinch of salt—you should not buy the console based only on this, but wait for some fully fledged features and developments to be showcased.

 

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Intel’s Unlocked “Skylake” Chips Seem To Be Great Overclockers http://egmr.net/2015/07/intels-unlocked-skylake-chips-seem-to-be-great-overclockers/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/intels-unlocked-skylake-chips-seem-to-be-great-overclockers/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:30:55 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173292 This is what every Nitrogen jockey wants to hear–that the new slices of silicon are not averse to copious amounts of increased clockspeeds. Enthusiasts live to break records, and enthusiast PLG […]

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This is what every Nitrogen jockey wants to hear–that the new slices of silicon are not averse to copious amounts of increased clockspeeds. Enthusiasts live to break records, and enthusiast PLG has managed to claim top spot with an engineering sample of an i7 6700K at a speed of 6531MHz, up from a base speed of 4000MHz. The record was set using LN2, or liquid nitrogen for those who slept during chemistry(or life). Under more conventional air cooling users have been able to achieve a highly respectable 5.2Ghz speed, although whether that is benchmark and game stable is another question.

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This is thus the highest official frequency achieved with a Skylake microprocessor so far. From the looks of it this range of unlocked microprocessors seem to be okay with overclocking since there were no cores deactivated and Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology enabled. To get this speed PLG had to use a core voltage of 2.032–so this is definitely nowhere near safe for everyday use–hence the use of LN2.

To achieve the overclock one needs a motherboard and memory capable for the task, and this user made use of a MSI Z170 motherboard(series unknown) with a single stick of DDR4 memory clocked a 4287MHz, interestingly nearly another record for memory clock speed on DDR4.

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On the surface this might seem uninteresting, since the world has know clockspeeds well north of 7GHz  on older Sandy and Ivy-Bridge processors. However, this is still early days will ES samples and what are most likely pre-release or at least optimal motherboard bios’. Once the platform matures, achieving overclocking parity with past chips might sound dull, but once we factor in the IPC performance increases, then the same clockspeeds are not really the “same” and in some cases it’s up to 29% faster. So there’s that. I for one will be interested in thermals, since once again Intel have gone with the NGPTIM thermal paste solution, much to the derision of enthusiasts the world over.

I’m certain that Intel could use the much better solder based solution (like they do in their Haswell-E HEDT chips), but they have chosen not to bring this to their next generation of 14nm microprocessors. With this in mind, we’ve also got no idea if the clockspeed attained by PLG involved delidding and using aftermarket thermal paste, although in an LN2 environment it probably doesn’t matter. So even though they may be faster than previous chips, they may be terribly hot off the shelf and will need some DIY to get it worthy of LN2. We wont have to wait much longer, since Intel are releasing both the i7 6700K and i5-6600K in few weeks.

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A Case For Concern? — CaseLabs Issues Retracement Of “ThermalFake” Copying Allegations http://egmr.net/2015/07/a-case-for-concern-caselabs-issues-retracement-of-thermalfake-copying-allegations/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/a-case-for-concern-caselabs-issues-retracement-of-thermalfake-copying-allegations/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173251 Imagine you had an idea of yours stolen and paraded around for someone else to benefit from. In the world of concepts no singular idea is entirely original and is […]

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Imagine you had an idea of yours stolen and paraded around for someone else to benefit from.

In the world of concepts no singular idea is entirely original and is always influenced by the past–“standing on the shoulders of giants” is an apt phrase which embodies the iterative and cumulative nature of knowledge and ideas. However, what if a giant stands on your shoulders and claims an idea or set of ideas as their own?

Recently this is exactly what CaseLabs claimed against Thermaltake in early June after Computex, whereby it accused the industry giant of ripping off its cases, as well as the designs of other manufacturers such as Fractal and NZXT. On the surface it seemed like this was an obvious conclusion to arrive at; the prototype cases shown by Thermaltake were strikingly similar to cases by other vendors. The confrontation was called “ThermalFake”, and if nothing else you can appreciate the incident purely from its humorous name.

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However, once you start accusing someone of stealing, you can bet your ass they would lawyer up and challenge those accusations, as is their right admittedly. More so if they’re guilty.

In light of this, CaseLabs issued a retraction letter for the claims it made against Thermaltake. Pouncing on an opportunity to save face (and pound their chest), Thermaltake publicised the letter and offered their own commentary on it. The crux of the letter, written and signed by James and Kevin Keating (President and Vice President of CaseLabs) is captured by this excerpt:

CaseLabs acknowledges that it does not own any patents on any of its case products. CaseLabs’ postings, which suggested that litigating to enforce patents would be prohibitively expensive, were misleading, because they implied that CaseLabs actually owned patents, which it does not. CaseLabs regrets this error. CaseLabs apologizes for accusing Mr. Robb and Thermaltake of “stealing” anything.

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Without the text would you be able to tell them apart?

After reading the letter myself, there is the unmistakable contrast between being apologetic and being sincerely sorry about the accusation–the letter’s tone is just dripping with legal rationalizations for issuing an apology, based solely on the grounds that they had no patents for their designs.

It’s clear that although CaseLabs (and anyone with barely accurate vision) believed their accusations were just, there was just no legal route they could take to back up their claims. Without any legal route to take, it just left CaseLabs wide open for Thermaltake to sue for libel or any other damages to their name. On the surface it might seem that accusing someone else of copying products in a component category like PC cases is a stretch, since a lot of manufacturers share a plethora of case designs and features across their cases; it’s the just the nature of a case’s function.

More so than simply retracting statements about copying designs, CaseLabs also apologised for accusing Thermaltake of deliberately undercutting it as a competitor, which was also retracted in the letter:

CaseLabs acknowledges that price competition is fundamental to a healthy marketplace, and CaseLabs recognises that it has no right to prevent Thermaltake from offering a competing product for a lower price in the marketplace. CaseLabs retracts any suggestion that competitors are not entirely free to engage in price competition for such unpatentable products as CaseLabs’ computer cases.

It’s pretty clear that a company cannot prevent others from making products that challenge them directly, regardless of their size or distributed manufacturing capabilities in cheap labour countries–competition is healthy, but healthy competition is something else entirely.

There is no easy way to navigate this terrain, which is why a company uses patents to protect their ideas and creations, not only to limit competition, but also limit their risk of developing new technologies. There is a view that technology patents are akin to limiting competition, and in some cases it’s true if some companies sit on them for the sole reason of hampering innovation (just like 3D printing) or worse: becoming “patent trolls” essentially using the system itself, and no invention, for monetary gain.

However it’s just as equally potent for motivating innovation, which makes me wonder if not only will CaseLabs start patenting their own designs, but that Thermaltake and others will start counter-patenting to prevent any future litigation from designs they have, or are going to start appropriating.

I’m not extremely well-versed in the patent history or how they pertain to PC cases, but looking at the variety of case designs and manufacturers already in the market, I think it’s safe to say it’s not really a factor, at least not in the “Cooler Master Sues Corsair for Patent infringement” type of environment, at least not yet anyway. We’re a far cry from the shenanigans between Samsung and Nvidia, for instance. Although there are definitely patents involved with PC cases, the segment does not seem to rely on patents to keep healthy competition going, whereas this “breaking of trust” between Thermaltake and CaseLabs in the chassis space is possibly setting up a world were PC chassis patents will become the norm, and that’s both sad and necessary in a world where it was once not really necessary…that is until Thermaltake threw the first punch.

In a world where there are just so many ways to design a black box, each competitor has been able to maintain a certain level of individual style, which although may have encroached on one another’s look, it never consumed it entirely, as it seems so here.

If CaseLabs can take anything away from the ordeal it’s that the highest form of flattery is imitation. Even though it cannot be legally proven, the proof is selling on shelves right next to the competition. To that end, what do you think of the whole ordeal? Do you think CaseLabs overreacted?

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Xbox One Streaming To Windows 10 Is Now A Thing http://egmr.net/2015/07/xbox-one-streaming-to-windows-10-is-now-a-thing/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/xbox-one-streaming-to-windows-10-is-now-a-thing/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:00:04 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173226 I recently acquired an Xbox One for a jaw-dropping good price. For some that is enough reason to buy anything really, but when more discerning people asked me, besides the […]

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I recently acquired an Xbox One for a jaw-dropping good price. For some that is enough reason to buy anything really, but when more discerning people asked me, besides the good price, why I got an Xbox One? I struggled to find an adequate reason other than simply saying it was a good time to replace my last-gen PS3. Now, I might have something else to add to my “Reasons I got an Xbox One” list, and it’s right up my PC alley regarding Windows 10.

As further proof that Microsoft is on the road to create a fully fledged Microsoft ecosystem which brings together the different aspects of their company into one, Microsoft has delivered on their promise earlier this year to offer streaming of Xbox One games to Windows 10. While only available for a select few people, the feature has become available for anyone using the preview build of the new OS, on either a desktop, laptop or even tablet.

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To enable the feature , Xbox One users need to simply head into to settings-preferences menu and tick the box that reads “Allow game streaming to other devices”. On the other end the device getting the stream needs to have the latest version of the Xbox app installed on it. Once this is done, users need only connect and then add a device from within the Xbox app. Once setup you can migrate your gaming to your desktop, or even to your bedroom on your tablet–finally a usage for one of these that I would never buy.

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If your internet connection at home is strong you could even game on it away from home, on your laptop or work desktop–all you’d need to do is attach a wired Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller to your Windows 10 PC or Tablet and you’re good to game. For more information and other tips, check out the Microsoft blog.

Streaming is only one of the many features being rolled out to the Windows 10 Xbox app– Microsoft has also officially added party chat, a My Games feature which automatically searches out official Windows 10 store games (so what?) and also looks for older titles not purchased through there. This also acts as a unified launcher off all your games on your PC as well, so you can still launch PC games from within the Xbox One app. There are also a ton of customisation options within the Profiles and Avatar section, as well as Xbox Sharing system integration meaning that while streaming on Windows 10 devices the player can still record screenshots and footage as they would on the Xbox One console itself.

As another way to get all those Xbox gamers who happen to have a PC to move over to Windows 10, I can see this as a very awesome value add. Playstation has their Vita streaming (and some PC streaming through Steam), but the way this works for desktop streaming seems a lot more simpler than the Playstation solution, which requires a TV capture card. Coming from someone who is new to “next-gen” console gaming, a lot of the social features and profile customisation options are lost on me, but the core streaming feature is this is something I can definitely consider doing since it allows me to play the few Xbox games I have on my PC while my SO is downstairs watching her show on the television. Windows 10 is only weeks away, launching for Microsoft Insiders on the 29 July 2015. I’ve never doubted Windows 10 will be one of the most important OS’es launched for Microsoft, and things like this just add to my positive impressions of the new OS.

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Intel Skylake Benchmark Scores Leaked, Up to 29% Faster Than Haswell http://egmr.net/2015/07/intel-skylake-benchmark-scores-leaked-up-to-29-faster-than-haswell/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/intel-skylake-benchmark-scores-leaked-up-to-29-faster-than-haswell/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173115 Of those among us who skipped Haswell, the time is very close to get your static wrist bands and screwdrivers ready, since Intel is going to be launching their new […]

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Of those among us who skipped Haswell, the time is very close to get your static wrist bands and screwdrivers ready, since Intel is going to be launching their new Skylake Core i7- 6700K and Core i5-6600K processors very soon, perhaps closely after their appearance at Gamescom next month. As is tradition, we can expect some leaks and rumours to do the rounds and get the juices flowing. Once such leak has been doing the rounds, and TechBang is touting that the Core i7-6700K, when measured up to the current i7-4970K, is around 29.1% faster.


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By now you must know that Intel has no reason to release anything more than a 4 core Hyper-Threaded CPU in their mainstream segment, and it is still like this in our current non-competitive CPU environment. The i7-6700K is a 4 core, hyper-threaded chip with 8MB of Cache with an integrated GPU and a 95W TDP. The CPU operates at 4GHz and can boost up to 4.2GHz or 4.4Ghz depending on the workload. If this sounds familiar to something else, you would score some internet points in thinking that it’s extremely similar to the i7-4790K. This is both a good and sad thing, since if the benchmarks are correct, we’re getting better performance from the same TDP and on a lower 14nm node. In fact, the numbers are considerably better than the older Haswell chip.

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Image Courtesy of Computerbase

Immediately noticeable are the speed gains in multi-threaded performance numbers, which is a marked improvement over the standard Intel 10% improvement when they shift to a new architecture. Same speeds, much better performance, all thanks to the microarchitectural improvements of Skylake. Now it goes without saying that these benchmarks are not at all official, and are most likely to be taken with a large grain of salt. For those on current Haswell systems the move might not make much sense, but for those on older Ivy and Sandy Bridge setups, I think now is the time to experience an upgrade worthy of your investment into a new system. The little cherry on top is that the Z100 series of motherboard  and the CPU will support DDR3 and DDR4 memory, so if you invested in 16GB DDR3 memory you’ll be able to carry over that RAM. Moreso, thanks to the new low prices of Memory, newer and cheaper RAM could also be part of a build for a gamer hoping to save more cash. The new chips from Intel will be shown off at Gamescom next month, so lee

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Dashlane Password Manager: The Joys Of Online Security http://egmr.net/2015/07/dashlane-password-manager-the-joys-of/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/dashlane-password-manager-the-joys-of/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 13:00:33 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173076 If you are like any modern day human/troll on the internet, you are most likely subscribed to a bunch of websites who all want to know everything about you. Information […]

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If you are like any modern day human/troll on the internet, you are most likely subscribed to a bunch of websites who all want to know everything about you. Information is the new currency of the internet, and everyone has some information that makes them valuable to some marketer/advertiser. The problem comes when you’re presented with so many platforms from which to layer yourself over that you become inundated with a plethora of security fatigue–remembering passwords for all those sites/forums/social media platforms can become quite a daunting task. Some of us develop some strategies(which are not as effective as we think they are), while some of us who like having our credit information stolen use the same password across multiple sites, and those of us who are willing to protect their online selves invest in a password manager. You might even use one of the 10 million passwords shown on this list. I’m proud to say my password was not on there….but nearly was.

I myself have a particular strategy to remember variations of my passwords based on the level of interaction or frequency that I use the site/service. My Gmail has an obscure password and is protected by 2 factor authentication via SMS–it’s about as secure as I can make it without strolling into Google HQ with an Uzi. Now “non-important website 1″ has just a regular password since I entered it for one competition or some such opportunistic reason–MyBroadband for instance. This method has worked fine for me and I’ve only had another email address compromised once. It’s fine though; it was just a Prince who sent out emails asking for some petrol money to get to his palace in Saudi Arabia. Now even though this is email a “throw away” email account, the act of actually having my account hacked felt, well, terrible. It makes you realise how vulnerable you are online, regardless of whether you’re vigilant with your multiple online accounts, all it takes one breach and a savvy attacker might have all they need to trace you and your other accounts down.

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Since then I’ve invested some time into a decent performing password manager called DashLane, which I have found to to pretty amazing actually. Like other password managers it centers around a Master Password, your own password which is strongly encouraged to be extremely complicated and have a high entropy, as it is literally “The One Password To Rule Them All”.. Not only does it do this, but if you sign up to other websites with the Dashlane Chrome Extension, it also generates strong entropy passwords for your newly created accounts, scans your current password list(and then judges their security status) in Google Chrome and saves them all under your dashlane account. If you had Google Chrome not remember your passwords(like I had) then when you manually sign into your accounts it also offers to save that password under the master key. Later on, when visiting those sites again, Dashlane will automatically fill in your details and sign you in automatically: It’s really quite amazing, all without having your passwords and accounts autofilled by Google Chrome. For those that like to do online shopping, you can also have your credit card information stored on there as well. It’s this convenience that makes a password manager like Dashlane feel so useful, and for $39.99 a year on their premium package, it better well be. I have not paid that amount since I got a free 6 month free premium account, which you can also get if you use this referral code. It may seem like a shameless self promotion, but it’s the only way to get a premium trial account. If you don’t want to try the premium account for 6 months, there is a free version with less features, but still more than up to the task.

Now this is of course not without it’s own inherent risk: I always saw a password manager as something like putting all your eggs in one basket, since if anyone gets access to your Master Password, ALL your accounts are effectively compromised. There is always the problem of having your account on the service provider hacked, such as what recently occurred at LastPass. Now as much as others can cause us heartache, all it takes is for one drunken evening and you might forget your Master Password, in which case there is no way to recover it since Dashlane does not store your Master password on their servers. However, all it takes is a well placed keylogger to catch you typing your master password and some Eastern European can begin stealing your passwords.

So, when weighing up whether you want convenience of being able to remember similar passwords or the security of having a different password for every online account, why not try both? I’ve been using Dashlane for about a month now and I shudder to think how I would use the internet without it.

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Logitech Might Rename To “Logi” To Realign With Their Lifestyle Products http://egmr.net/2015/07/logitech-might-rename-to-logi-to-realign-with-their-lifestyle-products/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/logitech-might-rename-to-logi-to-realign-with-their-lifestyle-products/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 13:00:55 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173047 I’ve been enamored with Logitech products for a while, since they’ve won me over at different times of my life with their quality products. I know I am not alone, […]

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I’ve been enamored with Logitech products for a while, since they’ve won me over at different times of my life with their quality products. I know I am not alone, since they ‘ve been in the business for about 30 years now, starting in the 1981 by providing quality mouses for the fledgling PC industry. Fast forward a few decades and Logitech are a well established company in the world of technology and PC gaming, by providing something for a whole range of product categories, some of which they themselves invented. But for Logitech that doesn’t seem to be enough; they see the world and technology are ubiquitous and thus the naming of their products, even their corporate logo, does not seem relevant anymore. They argue that the world is cluttered by the phrase “tech” and that as a marker of brand and purpose it does not hold much meaning anymore since there are so many tech companies in the world today.

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So, in an effort to get “hip” and reinvent themselves as the cool older dude at the party, Logitech are going to do what any person does when they try to reinvent themselves into someone cool: Shorten their name. Caveshen becomes Cavie, Abdul Gafoor becomes AG, Azhar becomes Azza and Logitech wants to start testing out Logi as their cool and hip name on a few products. Their rationale is that since the word “tech” is now meaningless dues to its pervasiveness in every day life, having it as part of their name is just as meaningless according to Charlotte Johs, VP of brand development at Logitech:

Tech is everywhere.Tech is in the air you breathe… it is in your clothes… in the future, ‘tech’ does not say anything.

Not only will Logitech start using a different name, Logitech will want to change its brand identity, and have hired their first ever chief design officer. Alastair Curtis, the new chief design officer, hopes to design products that will feature bold colours and simple design. Bracken Darrell, Logitech president and CEO had this to say:

We’ve been reinventing Logitech, creating products that strive to blend advanced technology and design to bring you amazing experiences. We’ve built a world-class design team, led by chief designer Alastair Curtis. We’re putting Design at the center of everything we do. Our approach to Design goes beyond the classic definition. Design to us is the combination of advanced technology, business strategy and consumer insights. Our products have come a long way, and now it’s time to bring the brand forward too.

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We can expect the new naming scheme and product twists to start appearing in select categories, according to Logitech. I’m all for the evolution of a company along different lines according to the times. Any company that is bold enough to change their look and style shows a company that is not content to let things be the way they are because it’s how it was always done. Logitech has always been synonymous with the PC Mouse, but since they offer so much more than that, it’s understandable that they needed a change in name to accommodate their increased range of products. For instance, their biggest growing category of product sales are in product categories like wireless speakers for smartphones. That said, I’m a gamer, and I’m sure that the person reading this is a gamer: I welcome the tech in Logitech and I hope this move to “Logi” is not simply another instance of a company trying to cash in on the “Apple” model of product design and “lifestyle”. Basically, Logitech, do not alienate the part of the demographic that appreciates the gaming products you have to offer. Gamer’s are not shy to embrace “lifestyle” products, but we also want the next gaming focused mouse/keyboard/Headset that your R&D department is cooking up to be great pieces of technology, not simply “bold colours and simple design”.

I still want Science to Win.

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Sapphire’s Tri-X R9 Fury Snapped And Specifications Leaked http://egmr.net/2015/07/sapphires-tri-x-r9-fury-snapped-and-specifications-leaked/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/sapphires-tri-x-r9-fury-snapped-and-specifications-leaked/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173020 Sapphire has been a stalwart AMD partner for as long as I can remember. Thankfully I don’t need to remember, and Wikipedia pegs it at around 2001 and as a […]

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Sapphire has been a stalwart AMD partner for as long as I can remember. Thankfully I don’t need to remember, and Wikipedia pegs it at around 2001 and as a result are the largest provider of AMD graphics cards. It stands to reason that if a picture of any new cards were to leak, law of averages dictate that it would be a Sapphire card. Not only did a picture leak, it was a Sapphire card and name that the world knows all too well- Tri-X, Sapphire’s premium level product.

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Videocardz was the first to publish images of this new card, the Sapphire Tri-X R9 Fury graphics card, sporting a reference PCB, but cooled by a massive cooling system. The AMD R9 Fury Graphics card is based on AMD’s new Fiji architecture, which released a few weeks ago. This cut down version is equipped with 3584 stream processors , 192 texture units and 64 raster operations. It all operates on that deliciously wide 4096-bit memory interface, courtesy of that 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory operating at 500Mhz (1Ghz Effective). As of now, AMD is only allowing their partners to use their reference PCB, but in time will allow them to design their own PCBs. Of all the times to keep your cards being produced according to your own specifications, it’s completely understandable that AMD would impose this measure since HBM technology on a GPU is still so new to the world. This does introduce certain limitations, however.

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Sapphire’s Tri-X branded cards ar well known to offer extremely aggressive factory overclocks to their cards, however this time it seems a little different.At Videocardz it was shown that there will be two versions of the Tri-X R9 Fury graphics: One with the stock 1Ghz clock-speed and the other with a slight boost to 1040Mhz. Both will use the Tri-X cooler, which consists of 3 fans and a backplate and will have four display connectors– three DisplayPort 1.2 and one HDMI 1.4a (still no HDMI 2.0 support). The card llooks, as do all Tri-X cards, magnificent. Once we move to the rear, the card shows the signature quality of the Fury range–smaller PCBs.

Sapphire-Radeon-R9-Fury-11247-01-40G-900x635

As good looking as these cards look, if we looks a bit deeper into the cards we find an unnerving pattern with the Fury range of GPUs–that they overclock very poorly. If we take the history of Sapphire’s Tri-X cards compared to the ranges reference cards, we see some healthy factory overclocks, but with the R9 Fury we get a paltry 40Mhz increase over stock. If Sapphire’s own Tri-X cards are only offering 40Mhz, then it seems that even the “Bang for buck” R9 Fury chip might not be the good overclocker everyone was hoping for. As a result, the gap between the R9 Fury X and R9 Fury might be more considerable than the one between the R9 290X and R9 290. I am hopeful, however,  and that performance is relative to what the competition is offering, meaning it  does not need to offer “Fury X” like performance, it just needs to beat out the equivalently priced Nvidia card–the GTX 980. The R9 Fury will be released on the 14th July 2015 and has an MSRP of $549

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AMD Lowers Revenue Estimates Due To Poor APU Sales http://egmr.net/2015/07/amd-lowers-revenue-estimates-due-to-poor-apu-sales/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/amd-lowers-revenue-estimates-due-to-poor-apu-sales/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:00:02 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172987 You may think that AMD might be slightly euphoric: their AMD R9 Fury X GPU released with an overall warm reception from the reviewing community. The reality and the perception […]

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You may think that AMD might be slightly euphoric: their AMD R9 Fury X GPU released with an overall warm reception from the reviewing community. The reality and the perception could not be more different, since AMD have taken a bite out of reality and have lowered revenue expectations for Q2. To be fair, it’s not the Fury X’s fault since that only released in Q2; the root cause seems to lie with the poor APU sales reported by the company. The revised quarterly numbers are due to the slow demand for its APUs units by end -users and OEMs. AMD has also mentioned that its non-GAAP gross margins will also feel the pinch of a 28 percent decline based on a higher mix of semi-custom products.

AMD have claimed that their sales in Q2 will be approximately 8 percent lower than in Q1, which equates to around $950 million, making it the lowest revenue figure AMD have recorded in more than a decade. The decrease is blamed primarily on the lower than expected consumer PC demand and the company’s OEM partners–and who can blame them really? The current chips are based off an FM 2+ architecture than is approaching 2 years, and instead of attempting a Carrizo release in 2015, they instead decided to refresh Kaveri as “Godavari” and push Carrizo to 2016. It’s no surprise then that perhaps OEM’s are starting to find favour in Intel’s offerings, which although delayed in desktop form, still released Broadwell to laptops showing massive improvements over AMDs own APU in graphics, something AMD’s APUs could still claim before May 2015 rolled around. With Skylake coming later this year the gap between AMD APU’s strengths and Intel seems to be narrowing– at least they still have their value proposition, something even the AMD CEO Lisa Su seems to take issue with.

AMD may have had a successful launch of their new HBM powered GPU, but unless they can remain competitive in other arena’s, there will be a lot of dead weight going forward that needs addressing–something AMD has pinned their hopes on Zen and Carrizo.

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Porn Industry Gives The Money Shot To Oculus Rift http://egmr.net/2015/06/porn-industry-gives-the-money-shot-to-oculus-rift/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/porn-industry-gives-the-money-shot-to-oculus-rift/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172682 If you want to take a litmus test of the future of technology, you have no further to look at than humanity’s expression of our baser instincts–the porn industry. It’s […]

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If you want to take a litmus test of the future of technology, you have no further to look at than humanity’s expression of our baser instincts–the porn industry. It’s been said by a few pundits that for a technology to find its way into the lounge of the nuclear family, it needs to first find favour by your friendly Pizza Delivery Guy and lonely housewives. If we look at VHS, Porn was instrumental in it giving Beta the five knuckle shuffle, while Porn decided who won the mud wrestling match between BlueRay and HD. Hell, even the Internet itself is the way it is today in some way due to Pornography!

It goes without saying, that one should watch the video below at their own discretion and away from work or youngsters.

And so the Porncycle continues, this time with competing industries in the new field that has all you Palmela Handerssons frothing at the mouth–Virtual Reality. It seems that one has already been chosen to sit the Fapping Throne, and House Oculus Rift is set to preside over the Future Of Fapping . Right now people can get their jollies off in VR experiences, so even though it seems obvious that VR is a gaming medium–the likes of which Vive and Morpheus seem content to pursue– the Rift seems poised for much wider adoption. It’s also easier for Oculus Rift to be positioned this way since they are not specifically tied to a gaming or electronics legacy institution, like Valve or Samsung. Time will tell, and 2016 seems the year where we’ll get the first test of who will allow the world a truly immersive VR experience, and those who will bend the knee.

 

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Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB: Not Faster Than A GTX 980 Ti http://egmr.net/2015/06/radeon-r9-fury-x-4gb-not-faster-than-a-gtx-980-ti/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/radeon-r9-fury-x-4gb-not-faster-than-a-gtx-980-ti/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172635 The title says it all. AMD’s newest is unable to keep toe to toe with Nvidia’s GTX 980Ti, although it gets extremely close as the resolutions ramp up. I spent […]

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The title says it all. AMD’s newest is unable to keep toe to toe with Nvidia’s GTX 980Ti, although it gets extremely close as the resolutions ramp up. I spent a lot of my late evening reading through and watching a few reviews of the Radeon Fury X, and most review sites had the same thing to say: The Fury X is just slower than the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti in most gaming benchmarks, and at most resolutions, barring a few wins here or there in title specific games. For two cards priced at the same, you’d start to get worried for the Radeon R9 Fury X, but there are some appealing qualities that start to show through. There is one sliver of a silver lining however: the 4GB of HBM memory on the Fury X card does seem to favour the higher resolutions, and comes within 2% of the GTX 980 Ti when gaming at 4K, which although not a win, goes to show how HBM memory is not starved for bandwidth at 4K resolutions, and is most likely bottlenecked due to the actual Fiji XT chip, which itself is based off of 28nm Tonga GPU.

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Sourced From TechPowerUp

In fact the performance of the Radeon Fury X at anything lower than 1440P gaming is actually quite concerning, coming in only 5% faster than the GTX 980 at 1080P according to TechPowerUp. Once the resolutions ramp up to 1440P and beyond, the Fury X starts to come into its own, making a 5% lead over the GTX 980 into a 13% lead at 1440P and a 20% lead at 4K. Most websites, although having different overall performance scores at 1080P and 1440P, more or less accurately show the Fury X around 2% slower than GTX 980 Ti at 4K.

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Sourced from HardwareCanuks

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Sourced From HardwareCanuks

 

There is much more to a card than raw performance, however, and AMD have improved on almost every front there is to improve on coming from their last flagship, a power hungry, noisy and inconsistent clockspeed R9 290X. The R9 290X, although once given a chance, proved to be a great card with aftermarket cooling. AMD learnt from their mistake and produced, in my own opinion, one of the best looking reference high end flagship card the GPU industry has ever seen. Ever review I’ve read has stated how exceptional the look and build quality of the unit is, and I’m inclined to agree.

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Sourced From HardwareCanuks

The cooling solution on the Fury X is also vastly improved from the R9 290X, and the all-in-one water cooling solution keeps the card humming away at under 60 degrees during gaming, vastly cooler than the R9 290X reference card, and the reference GTX 980 Ti. One thing most review sites are in agreement with is there is a distinct noise emanating from the water cooling pump as well as coil whine from the unit itself, which ends up being louder than the 120mm fan on the radiator. This in turn does make the card a fair bit louder than some reference cards, but still within acceptable levels once the card is in a case. AMD are aware of the issue and they say it’s an issue with review samples and that they will have the issue fixed for retail customers.

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Sourced From HardwareCauks

Speaking of which, the form factor itself is something a lot of enthusiasts would desire for living room gaming systems, since it’s small enough to fit in the tiniest of enclosures, provided you have a spot for the above average sized 120mm radiator. This is all thanks to HBM memory, which has been written about extensively before and which you can read up on here. Now the issue with the pump sound may make this living room capable form factor a double-edged sword, since although the unit can run at decent temperatures, it’s noisy pump and whine, if not fixed, could destroy its applicability in a SFF living room environment.

Sourced From HardwareCanuks

Sourced From HardwareCanuks

 

Another aspect which also limits the cards effectiveness is its extremely poor overclockability, which some sites only report are only within 50-100Mhz. Since the memory on the card is based on HBM AMD have disabled memory overclocking totally, which is understandable. Even if it was allowed, many doubt that memory overclocking is going to give the card more performance, since the card is definitely not starved of memory bandwidth. To me it seems like AMD have over-engineered the cooling on this card somewhat, and although they see amazing gains in noise and temperature reduction, AMD cannot give those savings over to overclocking ability, something that seems wasted based on the highly effective cooling solution they employed, which was done with Cooler Master

Sourced from TechPowerUp

Sourced from TechPowerUp

For enthusisast overclockers, this card is definitely not for you, and if AMD continues to offer only this version of the card, with no non-reference AIB cards, then I highly doubt overclockers will flock to this card. That being said, the TDP on this card is only 275W, which is really only 25W more than the GTX 980 Ti and a hell of a lot more power efficient than the outgoing R9 290X. AMD has not eclipsed Nvidia’s stupidly power efficient Maxwell cards, but has closed the gap considerably. I must be honest, AMD have done a lot of improvements within the limits of 28nm process to improve their power consumption and it is worthy of praise.

One thing this over-engineered cooling does allow on the AMD card, is consistent clockspeeds, which unlike the R9 290x, does not waver from its 1050Mhz clockspeed after hours of benchmarking load. The last thing that seems to be an issue, and that which really does not make any sense since AMD are pushing this card as a 4K gaming card, is the exclusion of HDMI 2.0 and DVI connectors. We can forgive the exclusion of DVI, but not having HDMI 2.0 seems like a silly oversight considering the GTX 980 Ti has support for it. Why is this important you ask? Well HDMI 1.4a only supports 30Hz at 4K resolutions means this 4K card will only allow 30Hz/30 fps on a 4K screen, while HDMI 2.0 can push 60Hz and 60FPS. For those who still have older connections, AMD have included a DVI adapter for those who have older screens.

Overall it seems like the Radeon Fury X is a mixed bag of sorts–it’s undeniably fast and at 4K resolutions it’s within 2% of the GTX 980 Ti. At 4K the Radeon R9 Fury X can hold its own against Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti, but only just. For many people performance might be the only thing they card about, and I’d agree with them, if it were not for the fact that the Radeon R9 Fury X has a few more things going for it that allow it some nuance within the 4K gaming space. It’s not neccessarily “small” since it’s effectively still quite a space hog when you think about it: it’s just separated one larger card into two smaller bits, but this does allow it to be smarter with space, something the SFF case builder knows all too well. The noise and temperatures are great, but when we take into consideration that those enthusiasts who want cooler and quieter cards to overclock more, they will be disappointed by this card. This and the limits of HDMI 1.4a might be the straw that broke the 4K camel’s back.

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I am still hopeful, however, since it seems that AMD might still be able to extend the performance and relevance of their Fury based lineup. It’s no secret that the introduction of new technology, like HBM, is going to have teething problems, and the lack of anything greater than 4GB HBM at the moment is a limitation, although by how much we cannot know since there is no comparisons to be made to other HBM sizes or speeds. To my mind the Radeon R9 Fury X is still a good card, and possibly with some hard work by the AMD driver team they can achieve some parity in game performance with Nvidia GTX 980 Ti, but if there is one thing the Radeon R9 Fury X has me most interested in, it’s the second tier GPU: The Radeon R9 Fury. If this card can manage to be 5% slower than the R9 Fury X, then AMD might have a extremely killer 4K card on their hands: A truly affordable 4K card at $550 which if we extrapolate downwards, will easily beat out the Nvidia GTX 980 which is also priced at $550. It must be said that if AMD has achieved nothing else, they have at least created a card that can compete and beat Nvidia at the high end, in a few areas other than pure gaming performance.  As a technology, the benefits of HBM are quite apparent for high definition 4K gaming, so if AMD can improve on their drivers and perhaps produce higher quality ASICS which allow some beefier overclocking, then AMD can start to really shine with their Fury lineup. I can’t say that AMD have knocked it out the park with the Fury X, but they have stepped up to the plate, bloody and beaten after having poor market share for so long, and they have come out swinging as they have made a fast, cool and extremely small and attractive card, just one that is not able to best the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti.

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AMD Radeon R9 Fury X Finally Launched! Review Roundup http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-radeon-r9-fury-x-finally-launched-review-roundup/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-radeon-r9-fury-x-finally-launched-review-roundup/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:29 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172589 The time is finally upon us, when the world gets some new technology to fawn over and measure e-peens against! About an hour ago reviews started hitting the internet in […]

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The time is finally upon us, when the world gets some new technology to fawn over and measure e-peens against! About an hour ago reviews started hitting the internet in both written and video formats. I myself am going through a hefty amount of them, discerning and evaluating the newest technology to hit GPUs in a good long time: HBM memory. Suffice it to say, I will be engrossed for a few hours as I scour some of the best tech sites to gain as much info as I can on the Radeon R9 Fury X. Do come join me on reading/watching some of the better review sites I have lined up for myself today. What I can say is that this card runs extremely cool, barely going a hair over 50 degrees, which is mightily impressive for a “reference” cooler. Game scores could be much better I feel, but once drivers mature and some DX 12 start coming into play, I feel the performance might just justify the price.

Happy reading/watching and I’ll see you on the other side

HardwareCanuks(my personal favourite):

LinusTechTips

TechPowerUp

OC3D

 

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Samsung Aims To Gain Market Share By Dropping Price Of DDR4 Memory http://egmr.net/2015/06/samsung-aims-to-gain-market-share-by-dropping-price-of-ddr4-memory/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/samsung-aims-to-gain-market-share-by-dropping-price-of-ddr4-memory/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172550 Later this year DDR4 will become more commonly sought after in part due to Intel’s new mainstream Skylake architecture launching in a few months which will start to drive adoption […]

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Later this year DDR4 will become more commonly sought after in part due to Intel’s new mainstream Skylake architecture launching in a few months which will start to drive adoption much further than what Haswell-E and server microprocessors have done. In an effort to prepare for this eventuality, Samsung is reportedly flexing its muscles and reducing and discounting the prices of its DDR4 chips in a bid to gain a strong position in market share for this very early emerging DDR4 market.

As a result DDR4 prices have been brought down immensely to come closer to DDR3 prices, which in turn has seen the prices of DDR3 memory start to also tank in recent weeks. It seems that other memory makers, like SK Hynix and Micron Technology, may have already started reducing its prices of mainstream DDR3 memory in order to sustain their own transition into DDR4 memory, which according to some sources, has not been without extra costs and poor yields of DDR4, according to Digitimes. To have higher profit margins in the memory space, DDR4 memory has to be made using a thinner process, such as Samsung’s use of 20nm in its DDR4 chips, which might explain why it is able to offer much cheaper pricing of its modules. So, I wonder if that means we’ll be able to see some parity between DDR4 pricing and current DDR3 pricing in the coming months—if my upgrade timeline is still on track for the end of this year, then I’d be more than happy to snatch up 16GB of DDR4 for around R2000, provided President Zuma or Eskom does not embarass South Africa anymore.

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AMD Powers Project Quantum With Intel Core i7-4790K http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-powers-project-quantum-with-intel-core-i7-4790k/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-powers-project-quantum-with-intel-core-i7-4790k/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:30:52 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172486 I wonder how many people actually know that AMD actually makes x86 based CPU’s as well as some of the worlds fastest graphics cards? I don;t blame many noobies new […]

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I wonder how many people actually know that AMD actually makes x86 based CPU’s as well as some of the worlds fastest graphics cards? I don;t blame many noobies new to the tech space–there has not been a lot of media attention on the enthusiast AMD CPU side for many years since they are just not really that good, plain and simple, and barring some impressive gaming orientated budget APUs, AMD CPUs don’t offer any performance or power consumption lead over Intel in enthusiast systems. This dearth in performance between Intel CPUs and AMD CPUS has never been so blatantly put forward by AMD than it was at E3, when their new Project Qunatum SFF PC was being powered by the current mainstream performance king–the Intel i7-4970K.

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AMD’s Project Quantum was a big surprise at E3 2015, since within the small enclosure there was housed a dual Fiji GPUs in crossfire. It was assumed that the rest of the PC was AMD based, perhaps a ITX AMD3+ or even one of their high end APU based FM2+ boards. Only later on did the world learn that the graphics division of AMD feels that Intel CPUs provides the performance their GPUs need. I guess thermal design considerations meant that using an 87W CPU was preferable to using their own 200W FX 9350 CPU.

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Project Quantum’s Devils Canyon CPU runs on a custome made ASRock  mini-ITX board, with non-essential parts chopped out, with a pair of half -height Crucial Ballistix memory modules, an AMD branded SSD and a unified liquid cooling solution custom-made for AMD. It must be noted that as controversial as AMD using an Intel CPU in their concept product should not detract from the impressively built SFF PC. This PC is not actually mean to endorse anything Intel, and is merely AMD showing off what kind of system can be built using their Radeon Fury “Fiji” architecture at its heart–a small form factor PC capable of living room 4K gaming. Still, it must still rub Lisa the wrong way to have to admit that to drive their accomplishment in GPU tech they can’t rely on their on X86 processors to do the job for them.

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AMDGate: AMD Deny KitGuru Fury X Review Sample Based On “Negative Content” http://egmr.net/2015/06/amdgate-amd-deny-kitguru-fury-x-review-sample-based-on-negative-content/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/amdgate-amd-deny-kitguru-fury-x-review-sample-based-on-negative-content/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172446 *22 June 2015- Updated to include an interesting video from Kitguru I hate the addition of prefix “Gate” to everything that has an inkling of controversy, but once you read […]

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*22 June 2015- Updated to include an interesting video from Kitguru

I hate the addition of prefix “Gate” to everything that has an inkling of controversy, but once you read this, tell me you don’t agree with dredging up that terminology, but take it for a spin: AMDGate. You’d think for a company who has just announced a brand spanking new GPU that they’d want to please as many media outlets as much as possible to ensure their product gets the best possible exposure. That’s what you’d think, but you’re not AMD, who on the 11th June via email seemed to think that reneging on their commitment to providing a Radeon Fury X review sample to UK Tech website KitGuru is the best way to ensure proper exposure for their new graphics card.

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And you want to know the reason? Oh this is the best part.  According to KitGuru Christine Brown, who is Senior Manager at EMEA Communications at AMD, informed Kitguru that they would not be getting a review sample based on “KitGuru’s negative stance toward AMD” and that with limited product availability they prefer to give samples to publications that are “more positive” about AMD as a brand and a company. KitGuru said that they never even furnished any factually incorrect information on some KitGuru articles or provided any proof of KitGuru’s bias against AMD, let alone getting any requests to edit or remove past articles published.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

If this is what it takes for AMD to ensure positive coverage of their products, then I have lost faith in their product’s ability to perform. If it requires tech reviewers to bend away from objectivity in order to obtain fair and unbiased coverage of a product, then I have no faith in the product or the reviewer. Of course the self-fulfilling prophecy AMD has fertilized might start becoming reality, since by stonewalling KitGuru I’m pretty sure it has not won them any friends there. I’m not saying KitGuru and their skilled team of writers are so easily swayed in their perceptions, but no one is perfectly objective and I know I’d be pretty miffed at the accusation of my reportage without any proof of bias.

Not to discredit the crux of this story, but it does seem that if we follow the timeline of events provided by KitGuru, that this video released a day (12th June) after the AMD email might have loads of subtext behind it, which to my mind does look like Leo is mildly upset for some reason. There’s that self-fulfilling prophecy, AMD.

 

So for  Allan Campbell and the team at KitGuru I applaud them for not bending the knee and grovelling for a review sample, ensuring that its millions of readers will know why it cannot give them an unbiased and detailed review of AMD’s latest high end GPU.

North Remembers

I myself use KitGuru as sources for both EGMR and my own personal perusal and I can say without a doubt that their coverage of AMD is both fair and accurate. The only real reason I can think of is possibly that AMD just did not have enough review samples for the media. I’m not oblivious to the potential “rock and hard place” situation that AMD might find themselves in, had they not been able to meet their review sample obligations based on low amounts of Fury X’s. Even if that is true(which some sources say are not), why would AMD go with the greater of the two evils and hide their failings to deliver under a veil of unfounded bias accusations? Whatever the reason, I hope that AMD does not allow their foot to be stuck in their mouth for much longer and rectifies the situation with KitGuru, not for Kitguru’s sake, not for themselves, but for their product, which being the first of it kind, needs proper and accurate coverage for the consumers. It’s a shame that the business side of AMD is failing their Engineering side.

As a last jab to AMD, I find it totally hilarious that on the front page of their news section, KitGuru have an article about how some leaked benchmarks show the Radeon Fury X as the worlds fastest GPU with this opinion shared by KitGuru

Without any doubts, AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X is a really fast graphics card. With further driver optimizations it may become the world’s highest-performing graphics adapter. But will it be more successful than Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980 Ti and Titan X? Only time will tell!

To an AMD executive, this must sound like nails on a chalkboard since within the same paragraph KitGuru have mentioned Nvidia cards that the Radeon Fury X is going up against.

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E3 2015: AMD Reveal Price And Specifications Of 300 Series & R9 Radeon Fury Line-up http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-amd-reveal-price-and-specifications-of-300-series-r9-radeon-fury-line-up/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-amd-reveal-price-and-specifications-of-300-series-r9-radeon-fury-line-up/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:00:50 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172335 Last night AMD kicked off their E3 event by spending a fair amount of time going through what they see as the future of 4K and VR gaming, e-Sports and […]

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Last night AMD kicked off their E3 event by spending a fair amount of time going through what they see as the future of 4K and VR gaming, e-Sports and DX 12. On show they had their “new” R9 300 series as well as a few leading game developers talking about how they can leverage AMD hardware to take advantage of the new DX 12 API and features associated with their LiquidVR software library. To be completely honest the whole thing merely felt like one long extended preamble of the main event–the eventual announcement of their Radeon R9 Fury lineup of cards Before that piece of officialdom rained down, AMD got to talking about their “new” 300 series, and I could feel through the screen as many who know GPUs cringed as they tried to repackage older Hawaii, Pitcairn and Tonga GPUs and dress them up for the needs of their vision of the current market, primarily eSports, Virtual Reality and 4K gaming.

They also revealed that the new range of AMD graphics cards will also support their new features, such as Asynchronous Shaders, Framrate Target Control, VSR and Direct X 12, although on that front the type of feature level DX 12 support for the 300 series was conspicuously absent. To be honest, most of the information about the 300 series was pretty much known a few days ago, with most of their prices pretty accurate in that leak.

Graphics Card GPU CU / SP GPU/Memory Clock Speed Memory Interface Memory Bandwidth MSRP
Fury X FIJI XT 64 / 4096 1050/500 MHz 4 GB HBM 4096bit 512 GB/s $649
Fury FIJI Pro 56 / 3584 1000/500 MHz 4 GB HBM 4096bit 512 GB/s $549
R9 390X Hawaii XT 44 / 2816 1050/1500 MHz 8GB GDDR5 512bit 384 GB/s $429
R9 390 Hawaii Pro 40 / 2560 1000/1500 MHz 8GB GDDR5 512bit 384 GB/s $329
R9 380 Tonga Pro 28 / 1792 970/1375 MHz 4GB GDDR5 256bit 176 GB/s $199+
R9 380 Tonga Pro 28 / 1792 970/1375 MHz 2GB GDDR5 256bit 176 GB/s $199
R7 370 Pitcairn Pro 16 / 1024 975/1425 MHz 4GB GDDR5 256bit 182 GB/s $149+
R7 370 Pitcairn Pro 16 / 1024 975/1425 MHz 2GB GDDR5 256bit 182 GB/s $149
R7 360 Tobago Pro 12 / 768 1000/1750 MHz 2GB GDDR5 128bit 112 GB/s $109

To kick off their 300 series, AMD started from the bottom and revealed their cheaper R7 360 and R7 370 cards as low budget gaming cards; you might find it interesting to note that the Pitcairn Pro GPU in the R7 370 must be the longest running gaming orientated GPU to ever be re-used, possibly even outstripping the immortalised G92 chip found in the 8800GT. Pitcairn was originally released in March 2012, which when March 2016 comes rolling around, makes the chip 3 years old. The differences to that earlier card is that this rendition comes with either 2GB or 4GB, and are priced quite competitively to stick it to Nvidia’s GTX 750 Ti and GTX 750.

Next up we have AMD’s newest rebrand, the R9 380, a card we saw in the R9 285 Tonga based GPU released last year. AMD were kind enough to provide this version with 4GB, which should eek out better results at higher resolutions like 1440P.  The regular 2GB version will be priced at $199 and is targeting the GTX 760, and seems to be able to hold its own against it.amd-r9-390-2_w_600

Making up the last of the R9 300 series, we find the R9 390X and R9 390, which have been given the 8GB treatment. When these cards were being announced AMD spoke of 8GB of GDDR5 as essential for 4K gaming. If you want to get an idea of their performance one need only look at 8GB R9 290X. The only issue I forsee is something I spoke about already-the pricing of the R9 390X might just be too high, while the GTX 970 is priced much lower and most likely still has the edge when it comes to raw frame rates at 1080P, and might be a few frames slower at 4K–something the massive price difference will take into account. Once reviews start releasing it might show something different, but if this is anything to go by, the R9 390X is merely an overclocked R9 290X 8GB model.

Of more interest is the R9 390 GPU, which at a $100 cheaper than the R9 390X, might be able to offer some really great price/performance gains over the GTX 970, especially at higher resolutions. At 4K there is not much between the R9 290 and the GTX 970, and playable 4K gaming with one of those is not going going to cut it. It’s here were gamers running 4K resolutions have the option of going crossfire–instead of being stuck with a GTX 970 SLI setup with only 3.5+5GB vRAM, going crossfire with 8GB of juicy GDDR5, the R9 390 CFX setup might be extremely attractive.

Then the conference got boring again, as AMD spoke with game developers about how to leverage AMD hardware for Virtual Reality and DX12, with an interesting bit about rendering out brain activity using Liquid VR and AMD graphics cards

1600_phpzxlhbximg_2473

After snoozing for about 10 minutes I perked up as they started talking about the limits of memory bandwidth for advancing modern gaming, alluring to needing new technology. Then Lisa Su, in the best Oprah styled shout talking I’ve seen in a while,  officially announced the Radeon Fury X, even though it was pretty much sitting on stage since the press even began!

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AMD-Radeon-R9-Fury-X-Specifications

The Radeon Fury X is officially the new high-end GPU solution from AMD, packing in 4096 GCN cores, 64 Compute units and 8.9 billions transistors. It is also water-cooled by a 120mm radiator, while the cut down Radeon Fury containing 3584 GCN cores and 56 Compute units is air-cooled. This is what AMD envision to be their answer to providing 4K and VR gaming, although without any benchmarks or reviews, we’re still holding back our judgement. Still, you cannot deny them the honour of being the first to market with an HBM powered graphics processing unit. Now instead of offering an actual raw frame rate performance estimate over the “outgoing” R9 290X, AMD claim Fiji has 1.5X the performance per watt over the R9 290X.

AMD-Radeon-R9-Nano-Graphics-Card

Next up Lisa was teeming with pride as she showed off their small 6″Mini-ITX Fury Nano, which is a HBM Radeon R9 Fury, which she says offers 2X the performance per watt over the R9 290X.

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This Nano card should have many mini-ITX builders frothing at the mouth, and their pining for it is not being eased by AMD as they’ve announced no price for it or concrete release date. Now even though the Nano is the smallest high end Fury card, and possibly the smallest high-end card ever, even the water-cooled Radeon Fury X is only 7.5″ in size, which still makes it an epic candidate in a small ITX case. All this miniaturised high-end graphics cards are thanks to HBM, which you can read about here.

1600_phpjpz5animg_2477

Now many of us expected at least three new cards to be released; the Fury X, Fury and Fury Nano, but what really surprised the audience was Project Quantum, which was AMD’s own small form factor gaming PC which had within it dual-Fiji graphics cores making with 17 TeraFlops of computing power.

amd-project-quantum-huddy_w_600

AMD were sparse on giving away too many details, but it did tell the audience that the bottom section of the system houses the computing and graphics processing section, while the top half takes care of the cooling, more than likely liquid cooled.

AMD-Radeon-R9-Fury-X2-Dual-Fiji-GPU-Graphics-Card

Later on in the day at E3, at the PC Gaming Show, Lisa Su once again returned to the spotlight and revealed what is most likely within the Project Quantum by showing us dual Fiji Chips on a single PCB, which is probably the smallest PCB housing two graphics chips I’ve ever seen.

To end off the Fiji showcase, the only thing left to do was give us the dollar damage; I say damage, but I really think the pricing is quite fair, possibly even spectacular if they are able to outperform the competition–$649 for the water-cooled Fury X and $549 for the air-cooled Radeon Fury.  The Radeon Fury X will launch on the 24th June 2015, while the Radeon Fury will be available a couple of weeks later on July 14 2015. Sadly I myself was expecting at least some reviews to release yesterday or at least some sort of performance numbers. I would have gladly taken some numbers mauled by AMD’s marketing department, but all we got were a few words by Lisa Su about the Radeon R9 Fury X running a game at 4K on stage at 45fps. To that end, we’re still left wondering how exactly AMD’s new architecture will perform and how it will stack up against the competition. That being said, to have a dual card getting ready for retail in a few months is two big middle fingers to Nvidia, most definitely giving them some pause for thought, as we’ve not heard a peep about them giving us a dual Maxwell based card. The ball is in the green court.

Check out some of the promotional videos below:

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COUGAR CMX 700W V.3 Review: More Purr Than Roar http://egmr.net/2015/06/cougar-cmx-700w-v-3-review-more-purr-than-roar/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/cougar-cmx-700w-v-3-review-more-purr-than-roar/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:00:52 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172211 Introduction If there is one thing I always want to endow onto the readers here, it’s that the quality of the watts is better than the quantity. At a minimum, […]

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Introduction

If there is one thing I always want to endow onto the readers here, it’s that the quality of the watts is better than the quantity. At a minimum, for a PC gamer to really have a gaming machine worthy of that Master Race badge, you should have an 80+ Bronze rated power supply within the desired power envelope of your machine.

So, with that said, I got to spend some time with the 80+ Bronze rated COUGAR CMX 700w V.3 power supply, which for around $89 internationally and R1350 locally with a 3 year warranty, is another update to the long standing CMX line of power supplies from Cougar. It seems like the only noticeable change between the CMX Ver.3 and Ver.2 is the update to enable a low power state for compatibility with Haswell systems—however the differences do go a bit deeper, as we will see. Throughout the review I will be calling back to the V.2 review done by Hardware Secrets to point out the changes done to this V.3

What To Expect:

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Unboxing, Aesthetics & Specifications
Page 3: Testing
Page 4: Inside The COUGAR
Page 5: Inside The COUGAR: Transient Filtering
Page 6: Inside The COUGAR: Primary & Secondary Side
Page 7: Final Thoughts And Conclusion

Go To Page 2: Unboxing, Aesthetics & Specifications

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AMD Radeon Fury X Pictured And Benchmark Leaked: Faster Than 980 Ti http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-radeon-fury-x-pictured-and-benchmark-leaked-faster-than-980-ti/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/amd-radeon-fury-x-pictured-and-benchmark-leaked-faster-than-980-ti/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172043 Four more days to announcement, and you can bet your pixelated behinds that more leaks are going to be expected, regardless of AMD’s own efforts to allow some of it’s […]

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Four more days to announcement, and you can bet your pixelated behinds that more leaks are going to be expected, regardless of AMD’s own efforts to allow some of it’s close allies, like DICE’s Johan Anderrson, to snap off a teasing picture for twitter.

Too date there has not been one official picture from AMD or any non-rendered representation of the adapter, until someone at a Chinese website ChipHell managed to source a picture showing off the whole adapter, radiator and all. To be blunt, it’s not totally “new” to anyone whose looked at a few renders pretty much showing the exact thing, but it’s always great to have a dead-to-rights picture of the board lying unused on a table.

amd_radeon_fiji_card_unofficial

First thing you’ll notice is that the adapter is absolutely minuscule compared to the high-end space it’s slotting into, as the Radeon Fury X uses HBM memory which reduces the amount of PCB space required for components. It’s diminutive size is also most likely due to the hybrid water cooling solution in use, which seems like a standard 120mm radiator. It’s size does not mean it’s a energy conscious beast, since it’s two 8 Pin power connections can deliver at least 150W each, and with the PCI-Express 3 slot another source of power, it may even end up consuming 375W of power–no wonder AMD opted for a water-cooling option. This does also bring into question the possibility of a non-water cooled model making use of conventional air-cooling, which would most likely mean a PCB extension bracket like we first saw on the GTX 660 ti and other cards from Nvidia.

amd-radeon-fury-x-3dmark-benchmark-635x754

On top of this actual picture of the adapter, some 3D Mark scores were also leaked, which show the Radeon Fury chip pulling ahead of the GTX 980 Ti and within spitting distance of the $1000 Titan X. There are people on some forums who’ve spent time the Fury X have confirmed that these synthetic benchmarks are pretty close to what they have have achieved with their samples. Right now there is enough information on the internet pretty much confirming suspicions about the Radeon Fury X–it’s faster than a stock GTX 980 Ti, is water cooled and has 4GB of HBM memory.

The last thing consumers need to know before they can replace their hype with an actual product is the price. One side of me wants the price to really kick up a storm with Nvidia and produce a lovely price war consumers love to benefit from. However, the last time AMD  did that with Hawaii it may have won favour with consumers, but ultimately they still ended up with this horrible market share and cut-throat profit margins. I expect AMD need to make this card competitively priced, but also sustainably profitable for them at the same time. I think a price tag of around $700-$749 will most likely win them some prestige, but more importantly, some profit. Besides, if they do release a cut down Radeon Fury with the Fiji Pro chip at a more palatable price tag of $500 that is marginally slower than the GTX 980 Ti and yet outperforms the GTx 980, then AMD will definitely have an advantage at this price point.

Once again, stick around for E3 on the 16th of June 2015 to finally see what AMD has in store for the rest of 2016.

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First Ever Oculus Pess Conference 11 June 2015 http://egmr.net/2015/06/first-ever-oculus-pess-conference-11-june-2015/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/first-ever-oculus-pess-conference-11-june-2015/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:00:23 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171983 Virtual Reality is still turning heads and putting heads into oddly shaped ergonomic head gear. Ahead of it’s presence at E3 next week, Oculus will be having it’s first ever “step […]

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Virtual Reality is still turning heads and putting heads into oddly shaped ergonomic head gear. Ahead of it’s presence at E3 next week, Oculus will be having it’s first ever “step Into The Rift” public press conference at 10AM PDT (7PM SA time) on Thursay, June 11 2015. As first among VR companies that hold the most pluck with gamers, people are expecting to be garnered with a bit  more information the pricing the device, beyond the $200-$400 wide berth Oculus have given themselves for the standalone device, let along the supposed $1500 for an Oculus and a PC capable of making us flap around in our lounges. Even though its hardware specifications are more or less known, consumers will probably want some a more concrete picture of its release than simply “Q1 2016” for its consumer version.

Also likely to be talked about by Oculus are Samsung’s Gear VR, which is a partnership Oculus has with Samsung to turn smartphones into virtual reality headsets. Also on the cards are discussion of some non-hardware ventures underway through Oculus Worldwide Studio game development arm, which is headed by Naughty Dog veteran Jason Rubin, and Oculus Story Studio film-making arm. If you’re at all interested in what the veritable “father” of the modern VR movement has to say about Virtual Reality, then you can watch their livestream on their twitch profile

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AMD’s R9 Fury Specs Confirmed As Well As Three Fury Flavours http://egmr.net/2015/06/amds-r9-fury-specs-confirmed-as-well-as-three-fury-flavours/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/amds-r9-fury-specs-confirmed-as-well-as-three-fury-flavours/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 13:00:44 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171937 More AMD news! That’s what happens when Nvidia blows their GTX 980 Ti load and we’re left waiting on the AMD response. It’s come to the attention of WCCFTech that […]

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More AMD news! That’s what happens when Nvidia blows their GTX 980 Ti load and we’re left waiting on the AMD response. It’s come to the attention of WCCFTech that the Radeon Fury card will come out in three different flavours. The first premier card is being dubbed the Fury X, which will come in both air-cooled and water cooled versions of the full Fiji XT chip, while the regular Fury will be an air-cooled affair, yet contain within a cut down version of the Fiji XT, called the Fiji Pro. Graph reproduced from WCCFTech.

WCCFTech Fury X (Water Cooled) Fury X (Air Cooled) Fury (Air Cooled) R9 290X
GPU Fiji XT Fiji XT Fiji Pro Hawaii XT
Stream Processors 4096 4096 3584 2816
GCN Compute Units 64 64 56 44
Render Output Units 128 128 128 64
Texture Mapping Units 256 256 224 176
GPU Frequency ≥ 1050Mhz 1050Mhz 1000Mhz 1000Mhz
Memory 4GB HBM 4GB HBM 4GB HBM 4GB GDDR5
Memory Interface 4096bit 4096bit 4096bit 512bit
Memory Frequency 500Mhz 500Mhz 500Mhz 1250Mhz
Effective Memory Speed 1Gbps 1Gbps 1Gbps 5Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 512GB/s 512GB/s 512GB/s 320GB/s
Cooling Liquid, 120mm Radiator Air, 3 Axial Fans Air, 3 Axial Fans Air, Single Blower Fan
Performance (SPFP) ≥ 8.6 TFLOPS 8.6 TFLOPS 7.2 TFLOPS 5.6 TFLOPS
TDP 300W 300W 275W 290W
GFLOPS/Watt ≥ 28.7 28.7 26.2 19.4
Launch Price TBA TBA TBA $549

 

Both versions will still have access to 4GB of HBM memory, however the Fiji Pro in the Radeon Fury card will only contain 3584 Stream Processors, 56 GCN compute units and 224 TMUs. Everything else remains relatively similar across the board, except for the reduced TFLOPS and lower power consumption of the Radeon Fury. This regular Radeon Fury card might be the answer AMD have to the GTX 980, and much like the R9 290 was significantly cheaper yet not much slower than it’s bigger  R9 290X brother, the Radeon Fury might occupy an equally similar amazing price and performance aspect for the consumer. If this card does exist, I will be very excited to see how it performs.

The only thing that would have troubled me with this news is AMD suffering similar problems associated with the R9 290/x range–their dismal heat and noise. But the information shows that cooling will be doing by 3 Axial fans, so I imagine AMD have learned from their mistakes. The Radeon Fury would definitely fare better at 275w TDP, but to have the  300W Radeon Fury X subjected to an air cooler might still make people wary of that version, regardless of getting a beefy cooler attached to it. However, thanks to the overall increased size of the Fiji XT GPU die area compared to Hawaii, the cooling area, and thus cooling efficiency, may increase and alleviate some of those reference air-cooling stigma associated with AMD, possibly even producing a reference cooler much like what we’d find on a Gigabyte Windfore or ASUS Strix card.

ASUS-GeForce-GTX-980-Ti-DirectCU-III-STRIX

Once again, as I’ve always ended these news pieces regarding AMD, keep your eyes and ears peeled for the 16th of June 2015 at E3.

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R9 300 Series Pricing Leaked-Mad Performance Per Dollar http://egmr.net/2015/06/r9-300-series-pricing-leaked-mad-performance-per-dollar/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/r9-300-series-pricing-leaked-mad-performance-per-dollar/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171896 We know that the release of the HBM powered Fiji XT, known as the R9 Fury, is around the corner at E3 2015 on the 16th June. What is also happening […]

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We know that the release of the HBM powered Fiji XT, known as the R9 Fury, is around the corner at E3 2015 on the 16th June. What is also happening on that day is a release of the new R9 300 series lineup. and for all those who cannot afford to spend over $500 on the finest AMD silicon, there is some respite in the form of another round of rebrands! (graph courtesy of WCCFTech)

 

Segment Graphics Card GPU MSRP
Enthusiast R9 390X 8GB Enhanced Hawaii XT $389
Enthusiast R9 390 8GB Enhanced Hawaii Pro $329
Performance R9 380X 3GB/6GB
(NOT CONFIRMED)
Tonga XT ???
Performance R9 380 4GB Tonga Pro $235
Performance R9 380 2GB Tonga Pro $195
Performance R7 370 4GB Pitcairn $175
Performance R7 370 2GB Pitcairn $135
Performance R7 360 2GB Bonaire $107

 

A leak, which WCCFTech believes to more truth than rumour, has placed the underlings of the R9 Fury as extremely aggressively priced GPUs, regardless of their rebranded stature. You can paint a Cheetah brown and call it Mittens, but it will still remain the same Cheetah underneath, and AMD calling its next cards the R9 390x and R9 390 should not fool you; they are the same GCN 1.1 Hawaii based chips found in the R9 290x and R9 290 cards. However they both come with 8GB of memory, are rumoured to have faster clocks and if the leak are true, their pricing will be extremely aggressive at $389 and $329.  Since Nvidia don’t seem to be interested fitting 8GB to their GTX 980 or GTX 970, we cannot deny how appealing an 8GB card will be at under $400, something those running high end 1440p or 4K monitors would not balk at the chance to snatch one or two of them up.

To date an R9 290X 8GB version keeps up with a GTX 970 at 4K, and can be found for under $400, but not cheaper than a GTX 970 which is closer in price to the R9 390’s $329, so I’m not sure if the R9 390X can charge as much and still end up slower than the GTX 970. However, with a bump in speeds and memory with 8GB, the GTX 970 with it’s 3.5GB+0.5GB allotment might not be able to keep up at the higher resolutions. To be sure, if you are at 1080P and do not foresee a move to a higher resolution monitor, the R9 390/x will be wasted on you. Between them, though, I find the R9 390 card to be far more interesting, since it has never been given 8GB of memory and it’s R9 290 predecessor was only slightly slower than the R9 290x. At $329, and most likely marginally slower than the R9 390x, this seems the best performance to price contender of the higher end and may offer enough of a price and performance challenge to the GTx 970.

Moving to the next tier which was previously occupied by a mix of R9 200 Tahiti rebrands and newer Tonga GPU, we get the R9 380 range. For certain we’ll have a Tonga Pro GPU residing within the R9 380, with 2GB and 4GB variants, which priced at $235 and $195, will challenge the GTX 960 for top honours at the 1080p battlefield. More likely we can take the previous R9 285, and due to the more than likely increase in clockspeeds, add another 5-10% and you’ll get the R9 380 performance. Of more interest to us is the yet unconfirmed R9 380x 3GB/6GB card with the full Tonga XT core at its heart. This fully unlocked Tonga GPU was scrapped last year (or never meant to be released), but it seems like AMD might resurrect the 2048 GCN stream processor powered and 384 bit wide Tonga XT core. Last year we got to see what the cut down Tonga Pro card was capable off, offering slightly more performance of the Tahiti cards it replaced, while having lower clock speed and 33% less memory bandwidth. With an unlocked Tonga XT core and potentially higher clockspeed, this capable chip seems to be the most desirable card for those looking for a strong contender at the mid range. If it does exist it will find itself nestled between the GTX 960 and GTX 970, if we assume it to sit above $250 and below $300 price range. Unfortunately, this card also seems to be the one which is not confirmed, so we wait for AMD at E3.

AMD-Radeon-R7-370-Performance1

Bringing up the rear we have the R7 series, consisting of Pitcairn and Bonaire, sitting at $139 and $107. It seems that the old bones that first released with the HD 7870 all those years ago are coming back for one more time in the form of the R7 3702GB/4GB, taking on the GTX 750 ti while the already rebranded R9 260X (rebranded 7790) will reappear as the thrice rebranded R7 360, up to challenge the GTX 750. Suffice it to say, unless Nvidia drop the price of these two early Maxwell cards below $100, they don’t hold a candle to the Pitcairn or Bonaire cards in performance. This will be a very interesting spot for gamers who want solid, if somber, 1080P performance without breaking the bank. I can already think that my girlfriend could readily make the the jump to an R7 370 from her long-toothed HD 7770, as she’s been itching to play some Borderlands Prequel come these holidays.

If the pricing stands how it is here, at least for the R9 390X, then there is still a massive amount of green void between the GTX 980, GTX 980 Ti and the GTX Titan X, of which the R9 Fury card will have to slot in somewhere. If AMD hope to be competitive at the high end, the Fury will have to be priced right. Even if so, the lack of anything really competitive with the GTX 980 means the green team has a wide berth when considering price cuts of the GTX 980, which can decimate the Hawaii chip found in the R9 390X. I must contend that even though these prices do look good for AMD, the massive gap between the Fury card and the R9 390x does not give AMD much of an edge just below the high end. As for Fury, the price of that beast will most likely be revealed at E3, and no amount of leaks will be solid until the 16th of June becomes a memory.

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Computex 2015: ASRock Presents 4 Z170 Motherboards http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-asrock-presents-4-z170-motherboards/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-asrock-presents-4-z170-motherboards/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 13:30:41 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171862 ASRock have been quite a popular brand on the South African shores–they usually offer high end products at more affordable pricing. They may be affordable, but that does not mean […]

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ASRock have been quite a popular brand on the South African shores–they usually offer high end products at more affordable pricing. They may be affordable, but that does not mean they are cheap. ASRock are quite adept at making high end and good performing motherboards-Their Z68 and Z77 OC Formula motherboards were extremely well received by the enthusiast community.

To continue in this tradition, ASRock are beating to the tune of the Skylake-S drum, and have unveiled four new Z170 motherboards in preparation for it’s release. ASRock have been know to literally pepper the entire range of board segments, offering all sizes and flavours from ITX all the way up to E-ATX. With Z170, it’s no different, boasting over 12 different models, ASRock is hoping their shotgun shell approach will garner the favour of any type or style of enthusiast looking to drop a LGA1151 CPU in a new motherboard.

Of the 12 confirmed, only 4 were shown at Computex 2015, and they are the Z170 Gaming K6 Fatal1ty, Z170 Gaming k4 Fatal1ty, Z170 Gaming-ITX/AC and the Z170 Extreme 7.

asrock_z170_gaming_k6

Like I said, a range of motherboards to suit any flavour of enthusiast that comes their way. To satisfy the enthusiast’s need, each board will come with dual channel DDR4 slots which are overclockable to 3.4Ghz, a PCIe 3.0 x4 powered M.2 connector, NVMe support, USB 3.1 with type-A and type-C connectors. The boards also boast other advanced goodies such as integrated audio and a Qualcomm Atheros Killer Networking LAN controllers.

asrock_z170_extreme

As high end Z170 boards, the Extreme 7 and K6 Fatal1ty will also come with 12-phase digital CPU voltage regulation for those OC Junkies, 4 way-multi-GPU support for Crossfire and SLI and a 7.1 channel Purity sound sub-system which are shielded from EMI and have multiple high-quality capacitors to further add to audio quality. The Extreme 7 will also have two extra ultra M.2 ports and three SATA Express boards for those wanting to run  a RAID 0 storage solution with 4GB/s  or more bandwidth. Expect these boards to hit stores at the same time Skylake-S release with their i7-6700K and i5-6600K, slated for sometime in August 2015.

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MSI Shows Off New 100-Series Motherboards, Previews X99A RGB LED “Gaming Godlike” http://egmr.net/2015/06/msi-shows-of-new-100-series-motherboards-and-previews-x99a-rgb-led-gaming-godlike/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/msi-shows-of-new-100-series-motherboards-and-previews-x99a-rgb-led-gaming-godlike/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 13:00:31 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171849 If you’re the kind who likes to light up your gaming rig like it’s Christmas all year round, then MSI has developed a jolly interesting motherboard for you. At Computex […]

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If you’re the kind who likes to light up your gaming rig like it’s Christmas all year round, then MSI has developed a jolly interesting motherboard for you. At Computex 2015 MSI previewed their 100 series-Motherboards, but what really had heads turning was their RGB-Lit X99A “Godlike Gaming” Motherboard.

Their are an assortment of RGB LEDs scattered around the motherboard, and a phone app controls the Godlike’s lighting, which allows you to add some flair to the motherboard in the form of pulsating lights and other lighting modes. Besides the lighting, there is some added functionality on this X99A board, such as aluminium frames to add rigidity to the PCIe x16 slots. I’m not sure which one is more gimmicky, since both offer a pleasing aesthetic, and I doubt PCIe slots are in need of any rigidity. Anyway,  check the video link to see how the app works and what it looks.

msi_b150m_pro-vd_z170a-g43

Now I imagine this demo is something they’re testing on older chipsets, such as X99 boards, in preparation for perhaps bringing them to the new 100 series of motherboards that will be showing up in August sometime. Below are a confirmed selection of motherboards MSI will be bringing, which seem to offer 4 extra PCI-express lanes due to Skylake Chipset, while MSI has got x8+x8 sli support for its premier G45 board, the cheaper boards in its lineup will only support crossfire.

  Z170A-G45-Gaming B150M Pro-VD Z170A-G43 B150M Pro-VDH Z170A PC Mate
Form Factor ATX Micro ATX ATX Micro ATX ATX
Expansion Slots 3 x164 x1 1 x16,1 x1 2 x16,2 x1,3x PCI 2 x161 x1 2 x16,2 x13x PCI
Memory Slots 4 x DDR4 2 x DDR3L 4 x DDR4 2 x DDR3 4 x DDR4
Storage 1 x 32Gb/s, 6 x 6Gb/s (2 for SATA-E) 6 x 6Gb/s (2 for SATA-E) 6 x 6Gb/s (2 for SATA-E) 6 x 6Gb/s (2 for SATA-E) 1 x 32Gb/s, 6 x 6Gb/s (2 for SATA-E)
Rear USB 4 x USB 3.02 x USB 2.0 2 x USB 3.14 x USB 3.02 x USB 2.0 4 x USB 3.02 x USB 2.0 6 x USB 3.0
Video DVI, VGA DVI, VGA, HDMI DVI, VGA DVI, VGA, DisplayPort
Audio 3 Analog 5 Analog, 1 Optical 3 Analog 5 Analog, 1 Optical
Network 2 x Gig-E, 1 x 867 Mbit Wi-Fi 1 x Gig-E 1 x Gig-E 1 x Gig-E 1 x Gig-E

 

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Computex 2015: AMD Shows Off Fiji, Yet Hides Fury Behind NDA Doors http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-amd-shows-off-fiji-yet-hides-fury-behind-nda-doors/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-amd-shows-off-fiji-yet-hides-fury-behind-nda-doors/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 13:00:53 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171790 The first official images of AMD’s new flagship processor was not spotted on an elegantly designed PCB. Instead, Computex onlookers got to see the chip sitting quite snugly within Lisa […]

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The first official images of AMD’s new flagship processor was not spotted on an elegantly designed PCB. Instead, Computex onlookers got to see the chip sitting quite snugly within Lisa Su’s hand, with four very HBM-looking silvery squares dotted around the edges. So, just like that AMD are playing up the hype over their next flagship card, even though Lisa Su never mentioned the processor name which was in her hand, the presence of four silvery bits around the graphics processor is a dead giveaway.

amd_radeon_fiji

Picture via WCCFTech

That being said, at this point the chip, although detailed descriptions have been offered by AMD, is still the most “boring” tidbit from the press conference AMD held. I don’t mean the actual chip performance or technology milestone it has achieved is boring. What I mean is that since we know that the Fiji card will release with this chip, this “teasing” of the Fiji chip is so coy, given that AMD are keeping the details around its size, cooling and price hidden at this point in time. The card is  slated for a paper release at E3 2015, and will be available for retail on the 24th June. It was speculated that AMD were going to show off their card at Computex 2015, but the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti release before the event might have got them to reconsider.

amd_radeon_fiji_unofficial

Although, thanks to some pictures from Johann Andresson from DICE showing off the Radeon Fury, we’ve been able to speculate about it’s size and possible cooling arrangement, which seems to be a water cooled design from CoolIT. I can understand AMD’s tactics, since we’ve come to expect some official pictures and details so close release, much like Nvidia did with their Titan X reveal. However, AMD are definitely milking the hype as much as they can, creating a buzz around their new card that follows them into E3 2015.

Picture supplied via KitGuru

Picture supplied via KitGuru

Leo Waldlock of KitGuru managed to corner Ron Myers, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Marketing at AMD and managed to tease and infer a small amount of information from him concerning the Radeon Fury , which was being shown off behind a Sapphire NDA demo room. When question about the “low” 4GB of vRAM of the Fury against the 12GB of Titan X vRAM was brushed off by Ron saying that the current method to do 4K gaming with GDDR5 based memory requires large amounts of memory, but that 4K gaming on 4GB of HBM memory does not have the same limitations of GDDR5 memory.

Only 12 more days till we officially end this long road of the AMD hype train and we finally get to see official reviews detailing its performance, price and detailed analysis of the Radeon Fury.  For those who game on higher resolutions, I think your gaming world is going to get a fair bit more interesting.

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Computex 2015: Corsair Do “Steam Machines” The Right Way http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-corsair-do-steam-machines-the-right-way/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-corsair-do-steam-machines-the-right-way/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171755 I love it when Computex comes around, but I hate it The primary sticking point for me regarding Steam Machines or pre-built ITX solutions from manufacturers is that it takes […]

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I love it when Computex comes around, but I hate it The primary sticking point for me regarding Steam Machines or pre-built ITX solutions from manufacturers is that it takes a core element of PC building out of it. The likes of the Alienware Alpha from Dell or the GR8 and GR20 from ASUS are highly attractive and sleek looking gaming computers, but they still lack that defining characteristic which bubbles to the surface of PC gaming–upgrading and customisability. Thankfully the market, and Corsair, have developed a way to deliver gaming PCs which actually cater towards the culture of PC gaming.

corsair-bulldog-4k-diy-gaming-pc-computex-steambox

Enter the Corsair Bulldog, a $399 barebones chassis that aims to drive 4K gaming from your living room. It’s a barbones chassis that contains a healthy amount of tech within which will get any PC gamer foaming at the mouth, or in my case drooling on my keyboard. Not many manufacturers can make me drool on my beloved keyboard, but Corsair are known in the PC gaming circles as a maker of some pretty epic gaming chassis, and this mini-ITX form factor just encompasses all that Corsair sleekness and minimalism we’ve come to expect, all the while still looking like a “Black Box” build that can fit in your TV cabinet.

top_rear_shot

It’s not as small as some of the other “console” like Steam Machines mentioned above, but when it’s packing some sweet technology within, it can be forgiven for being a tad portly in comparison. One such item within is a Corsair SFX 600W power supply, which has modular cables, 80 Plus Gold certification and a 92mm fan. Overclocking within a Mini-ITX build with limited airflow was always going to be a challenge, but a mini-ITX case with included water cooling? Corsair has you covered. Next up we have a H5SF, a Mini-ITX built in liquid cooling system for whichever CPU you can add to the build. There is the option to add an optional liquid cooling kit for your graphics card, but it’s a tad steep at $99, but if you’re hoping for 4K gaming, then a beefy and well cooled GPU is always a necessity.

The great thing about the Bulldog is that it is also OS agnostic, so the user can choose to have Windows installed on it, or they can wait for Valve’s SteamOS which may release later this year.

Once it’s all said and done, the Bulldog seems to be offering a level of customisability and flexibility that a fair amount of PC builders will appreciate. The other Steam Machine type systems from Alienware or Asus don’t give the user a choice on which GPU, CPU or other components to include, or let alonge be able to upgrade, since the PC components included are built around a particular chassis. Corsair hope to ship the Bulldog for $399 in the fourth quarter of this year, along with their other new dog in town, the Lapdog, a $89  mouse and keyboard combo which resides on a large mat area with underside cushioning, perfect for helping you use the Bulldog in your lounge area.

 

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Computex 2015: Cooler Master Unveil The MasterCase And Want To Make It Yours http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-cooler-master-unveil-the-mastercase-and-want-to-make-it-yours/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/computex-2015-cooler-master-unveil-the-mastercase-and-want-to-make-it-yours/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 13:00:06 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171649 It’s been a fair amount of time since Cooler Master have launched a new case–the last being the ever popular CM 690 III last year August. Just like last year, Cooler […]

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It’s been a fair amount of time since Cooler Master have launched a new case–the last being the ever popular CM 690 III last year August. Just like last year, Cooler Master are launching a new case design, but instead of adding to their stable of case series, they are literally starting from scratch with the MasterCase, first mid-sized modular tower with exterior expandability.

It’s a design concept birthed from a collection of minds harnessing the “Maker Spirit”, which came together to create the MasterConcept, a concept case which represents the cutting edge product design and feedback from some of the world’s leading modders and super users, like PC veterans Peter Brands, Richard Kier, Richard Surroz, Mathieu Heredia and Ronnie Hara.

L-R Mathieu Heredia, Richard Keirsgieter, Richard Surroz, Ronnie Hara

If all this sounds fairly Scientologist or cult-like, you’re not the only one getting that vibe. Although, unlike cults or Scientology, this design philosophy actually has some practical applications, since the MasterConcept  is a modders wet dream as it has a super flexible interior and exterior modularity which allows people to make a PC which is uniquely theirs. Take a look on a fair amount of modding forums and websites and you’ll see that the modding community has a special place in their hearts for Cooler Master cases, since a fair amount of them cut their teeth on Cooler Master cases in the past. I guess Cooler Master wanted to tap into that rich resource and implement something that caters for both hardcore modders and regular users who just want to be their own snowflake.

“The maker spirit is that curiosity to know how and why things work, and the satisfaction that stems from taking ownership of something you make,” said Roger Lin, Cooler Master’s Chief Executive Officer, in a statement. “People want unique products to express themselves, that’s human nature.”

MasterCase Pro 5 FreeForm Modularity System

The ideas incorporated into the MasterConcept led to the creation of the MasterCase, which is being showcased at Computex 2015. The MasterCase represents a shift in design from Cooler Master, incorporating the idea that the MasterConcept and MasterCase are breaking ground in how PCs are designed, bought and used. This introduces the nature of FreeForm™ Modular System, which allows users to have absolute control over how their case looks and functions. FreeForm allows users to adjust the exterior of the case via replacement of panels and doors, while offering flexibility of interior layout.

MasterCase 5 Upgrade 2

At Computex 2015 CoolerMaster debuts MasterCase 5, a 460mm-tall modular case tower which comes in three flavours: MasterCase 5, MasterCase Pro 5 and MasterCase Maker 5. At the time I cannot tell what sets them apart, but it seems each iterations offers some tweaks to the “standard” configuration, so users can choose from MasterCase 5’s dual top handles and standard door, the MasterCase Pro 5’s elevated mesh top cover, or the MasterCase Maker 5 solid top cover and open vent front door.

MasterCase Pro 5 Upgrade 2

The linchpin in this whole redesign is that FreeForm allows a single case to support a plethora of configurations, which instead of users needing to replace their case and system, it allows users to upgrade instead. Through a simple clip-and click panel, FreeForm lets users vertically alter or remove drive cages.

 

MasterCase Pro 5 Interior

MasterCase Pro 5

 

MasterCase 5 Interior (Large)

MasterCase 5

So, what do I think? I think it’s got the potential to be a good looking case series, since the external case does look quite sleek and aesthetically pleasing, while the internals show some decent looking features and does look extremely attractive–I like that they have rubber grommets, tool less drive cages as well as a dual chamber design for the power supply area. The front mesh looks like it will have no problem with airflow, and the top of the case offers enough space for large radiators.

MasterCase Pro Side

As for the design philosophy–I’m intrigued, to say the least. It’s not a stretch of logic to see that the upsurge in 3D printing technology has played a part in Cooler Master going down this path (there are some not-so-subtle- hints in the video). If they can make a case that will allow people to easily design parts or upgrades for their case using 3D printing technology, I see this as getting in on the ground floor for a segment of the market that does not even know it exists yet. Cooler Master have said that the MasterConcept will be the design that they will be following for the foreseable future, and who hopes to change the way people build PCs. At the moment, the distinction between the different cases are not readily earth shattering (although there is not much to go on) as it seems to comes down to adding or removing bits of the case, such as a closed or open front panel, amount of hard drive bays or having windowed side panels. However, if the concept takes hold, I wonder what upgraded bits or designs Cooler Master have in the works? Instead of buying parts, perhaps we’ll now buy 3D designs that we can print ourselves or get others to print? That’s a fair bit of speculation on my part, but so far, it does look like a really interesting direction Cooler Master have taken.

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Nvidia Launches The GTX 980 Ti At $649 With Full DX 12 Support http://egmr.net/2015/06/nvidia-launches-the-gtx-980-ti-at-649-with-full-dx-12-support/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/nvidia-launches-the-gtx-980-ti-at-649-with-full-dx-12-support/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:00:43 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171607 So, posting last week with a rumoured price on the GTX 980 Ti, the estimations were extremely well off the mark– by a full fat $150. In what seems to […]

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So, posting last week with a rumoured price on the GTX 980 Ti, the estimations were extremely well off the mark– by a full fat $150. In what seems to be a company rushing to push out their new card–something Nvidia is not usually known for–they’ve gone ahead and announced the GTX 980 Ti, which will be in selected stores, for the MSRP of $649. I’m pretty sure the pricing mentioned in EVGA leaks were once valid, and I suspect that was once Nvidia’s price, but if the rumours around AMD’s new card hold any merit, Nvidia saw good cause to reduce the price by $150.

Now I say Nvidia is in a rush, and I believe it’s due to the imminent release of AMD’s own flagship “Fury” HBM powered graphics card. Nvidia has taken their sweet time to reveal their entire Maxwell range, and they are not waiting much longer or giving AMD much chance to gain a foothold.

Now even though the pricing is “lower” than anticipated, it’s not going to be affordable for the common “journeyman” PC gamer. But compared to what performance it offers for the price, you are looking at a card that offers a massive amount of performance–more than a Titan X–for a price which is $100 more expensive than the GTX 980 and a whopping $350 cheaper than the Titan X.  Unless the Titan X and the the GTX 980 get some price cuts, the GTX 980 Ti has effectively made the Titan X pointless and made all those who bought a GTX 980 question why they dropped so much on a card which is only $100 less than Titan X like performance.


NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Ti-DirectX-12-Support-635x248

The GTX 980 Ti is every bit a Titan X as it can be: it has the same clockspeeds, similar reference cooler with the main discernable difference coming through its allocation of 6GB of GDDR5 memory over a 384-bit memory interface. It has the same clockspeeds on the core and memory, while it contains a cut down version of the same GM200 core in the Titan X, only featuring 2816 CUDA Cores, 176 TMU and 96 ROPS, all operating on the same 250W TDP.

Nvidia-Geforce-GTX-980-Ti-Official-Gaming-Performance-Benchmarks

So, before Computex even launches, Nvidia has already set the industry churning and consumers reading how a $649 card is placing the it ahead of the Titan X–even at 4K resolutions. The reason for this must be that because the Titan X is a hotter running card than the GTX 980 Ti, the 980 Ti is able to achieve a higher boost clock over the Titan X, thus securing it a faster frame rate. This clearly begs the question: What is the point of the Titan X retailing for $999? Past Titans had the benefit of offering professional users the sought after Double Precision capabilities, something the GTX Titan X does not offer. Personally, the Titan X needs to get a substantial price decrease or like Nvidia has allowed, let the AIB partners get creative with the cards to offer something a Titan range has not seen before–Aftermarket cooling.

So, first salvo from Nvidia. Now we wait for AMD to respond and then we can see whether the GTX 980 Ti is a worthy buy at the moment, of if the next crop of AMD cards will cause the green team to pause and reconsider their pricing.

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Pricing Revealed For Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti: $799 http://egmr.net/2015/05/pricing-revealed-for-nvidia-geforece-gtx-980-ti-799/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/pricing-revealed-for-nvidia-geforece-gtx-980-ti-799/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171512 We’ve got confirmation that the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti will be launching on the 2nd of June 2015, which is the same day that Computex 2015 starts. With that we’ve […]

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We’ve got confirmation that the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti will be launching on the 2nd of June 2015, which is the same day that Computex 2015 starts. With that we’ve also had some benchmarks leak which show just how close to the Titan X the GTX 980 Ti is. It seems that all we were really missing were some pricing to satisfy our curiosity….and now we have those as well.

EVGA-GTX980-Ti-Listing-799-Price-Point

The MSRP for the GTX 980 Ti, according to the EVGA price list, will have a price of $799, just under that psychological $800 barrier. This puts it 200 dollars off the price of the Titan X, while sitting 250 dollars above the GTX 980. Locally I estimate that pricing will be close to around the R12500–R13500 mark, give or take a brand premium or two. Given this price it may just be easier to get yourself two GTX 970s and once DirectX 12 comes into full swing, make use of both cards as if they were one. Now the EVGA variants all have varying prices based on their cooling or non-reference nature, but for the most part they float around the $800 mark.

We know that the GTX 980 Ti is powered by a cut down version of the GM200-400 core in the Titan X, and so it has only 176 TMUs and 2816 CUDA Cores, although it is clocked very similarly at 1000/1753 (CPU/Mem), and only has 6GB of GDDR5 memory. Check the specification list from WCCFTech outlining the differences between the top Nvidia cards.

Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
GPU 28nm GM200-400 28nm GM200-310 28nm GM204-400
CUDA Cores 3072 2816 2048
TMUs 192 176 128
ROPs 96 96 64
Core clock 1002 MHz 1000 MHz 1127 MHz
Boost Clock 1089 MHz 1076 MHz 1215 MHz
Memory Clock 1753 MHz 1753 MHz 1753 MHz
Memory Bus 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit
Memory 12GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5
Bandwidth 336 GB/s 336 GB/s 224 GB/s
TDP 250W 250W 165W
Power Connectors 1x 6pin; 1x 8pin 1x 6pin; 1x 8pin 2x 6pin
Display Outputs 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DP 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DP 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 3x DP
MSRP $999 US $799 US $549 US

There is not much else to say really, except that in the past Nvidia were very content to keep their cards in waiting and position their lineup to compete with AMD once AMD has launched their cards. They did it with the Kepler range when Hawaii was released, whereas now they are getting their cards out ahead of AMD. Now I say ahead of AMD, but we also know that AMD are also going to be announcing/releasing their R9 300 series of graphics cards at Computex 2015, which seem to be rebrands of their older R9 200 series. When I mean ahead of AMD, I really mean ahead of the card only known as the “Fiji XT” since it seems the R9 390X seems to be the nomenclature for the rebranded R9 200 series. Once Computex comes around, I’m sure we will know more.

Regardless, besides the favourable launch platform that is Computex 2015, it does seem that Nvidia seem very keen to get their cards out ahead of AMD’s “Fiji XT” HBM powered card. Of course this is my own speculation, but I’m pretty sure that Nvidia have already got information about the performance of AMD’s new card and have positioned the GTX 980 Ti as a price point to compete with it in price to performance–which to me means that the new AMD card is more than likely going to be over $800.

Stay tuned for more once Computex 2015 is under way.

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AMD Details The Benefits DirectX 12 Has For Gamers On Multi-GPU Setups http://egmr.net/2015/05/amd-details-the-benefits-directx-12-has-for-gamers-on-multi-gpu-setups/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/amd-details-the-benefits-directx-12-has-for-gamers-on-multi-gpu-setups/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:34 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171451 In a few months the world will get the first taste of what DirectX 12 offers gamers and developers. AMD recently released some slides to show what kind of technolgies […]

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In a few months the world will get the first taste of what DirectX 12 offers gamers and developers. AMD recently released some slides to show what kind of technolgies will be available for their lineup of graphics cards, and the performance benefits that can be realised.

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So, we should all know by now that DirectX 12 is a low level API that will allow close-to-the-metal access to hardware allowing for a fine-grain control to push the capabilities of GPUs forward. It’s no secret that the release of newer GPUs has slowed down immeasurably, with even the current crop of “new” GPUs from AMD being rebrands. Performance, it seems, needs to be found on another playing field, and DirectX 12 is offering just that, with the buzzword mainly being “Multiadapter”, with AMD offering “Explicit Multiadapter” and “Multi-GPU performance”

A few weeks ago Microsoft published some of their findings on cross-IHV performance using DX 12, and how an Intel iGPU could assist in offering some rendering power to the discrete Nvidia GPU. This time AMD are showing what DX12 can do on the Red side, by allowing for a higher FPS, new multi-gpu configurations and unique frame rendering methods.

Higher FPS is going to be achieved by leveraging proper native support for Multi-GPU configurations in DX12, which essentially means that the developers will be able to access the resources of your AMD GPU directly and fine tune or distribute work across GPUs.

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AMD will leverage DX 12 to make use of dual graphics across their APU and GPU line-up, much like how Microsoft showed an Intel iGPU and a discrete Nvidia GPU. However, AMD’s on-board dedicated Radeon GPU core is a lot more powerful than an Intel iGPU, and DX 12 will allow developers to offload graphics work to an AMD APU.

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AMD also explore how DX 12 can change the rendering of frames. Under DX 12 a multi-GPU can output frames in SFR(split-frame rendering) as opposed to the stuttering prone alternate frame rendering mechanism in DirectX 11. Instead of each GPU rendering one frame each, each GPU will now render half  of the same frame, thus reducing overhead, increasing responsiveness and reducing the amount of stutter involved in multi-GPU setups.

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Mentioned a while ago in a tweet, the use of DX 12 will allow something unprecedented in multi-GPU setups–the combination of memory pools. Under previous DirectX versions the easiest way to keep both graphics cards working together properly was to limit their workloads to their own memory pools, so none of the workload was divided. In DirectX 12, the memory pool is not open to all and shared across all GPUs, so that if a frame is particularly memory heavy, the GPU rendering it can access the RAM on the other cards in the configuration. This could not come at a better time since the use of memory on GPUs has started to reach ridiculous levels, with the likes of 4K displays and graphics cards like the Titan X reaching 12GB and the R9 290X shipping with 8GB.

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To bring it back down to earth and offer gamers some assurances that this is not merely a pipe dream for AMD cards, they have included two games, Dues Ex:Mankind Divided and Ashes of the Singularity, which are specifically being developed with DX12 in mind. These are two games optimised for AMD cards under the Gaming Evolved program with technology like TressFX 3.0 coming to Dues Ex. I half expected to see a “pre-order now” tag, but thankfully AMD still have some dignity left not to push pre-orders right away.

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I for one think DirectX 12 is going to be something PC gaming is going to relish for the next few years, especially when we consider the amount of high display peripherals that are going to require a massive amount of memory bandwidth and nuance of coding to perform: the likes of VR technology, 8K displays, the my own dream of CDPR using DX 12 to released an Enhanced Edition of the Witcher 3 on PC which looks like its 2013 in-game footage. With the likes of The Witcher 3 and Batman Arkham Knight being a massive selling feature for Nvidia cards, having some DX 12 Gaming Evolved titles in the pipeline are a good show of commitment from AMD, especially considering how lackluster their Gaming Evolved program has been of late.

 

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Market Of Graphics Cards Shrink But Nvidia Still Strengthens Position. http://egmr.net/2015/05/market-of-graphics-cards-shrink-but-nvidia-still-strengthens-position/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/market-of-graphics-cards-shrink-but-nvidia-still-strengthens-position/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171406 You would not think it, but even though there is a fair amount of hype in the air regarding new graphics cards coming from both AMD and Nvidia, the business […]

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You would not think it, but even though there is a fair amount of hype in the air regarding new graphics cards coming from both AMD and Nvidia, the business of discrete graphics processing is in a substantial decline. According to John Peddie Research, even though shipments for graphics cards in the past year declined more than desktop PCs, Nvidia have managed to increase its share in the market of standalone graphics cards for personal computers.

The market of GPUs in Q1 decreased to a new low, with the first quarter decreasing to 11.3 million units, which is an 8.79% drop quarter over quarter. It’s no secret that Q1 is always a tough time of year for sales, but even more so for AMD who was stuck with a massive inventory of old stock that they had to flog for a cheap as they could. To put it mildly, AMD had a gaping hole which has bled profusely since Maxwell entered the scene, losing over 14.6% in graphics cards shipments as well as 12.5% market share in one year.

One. Year.

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In contrast, Nvidia, despite the 7% decrease in sales, they managed to gain a record high 77.5% of market share. However, they might just be gaining ground in an ever decreasing playing field, since the attach rate of graphics boards to desktop PCs has declined from 63% in in Q1 2008, to 37% in Q1 2015.  The pie definitely is getting smaller, and it makes sense why Nvidia has been expanding into other areas with their technology, such as Tegra and CUDA based applications.

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RAM Prices Slump To New Lows http://egmr.net/2015/05/ram-prices-slump-to-new-lows/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/ram-prices-slump-to-new-lows/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:30:36 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171367 I remember the amazing feeling of buying 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600Mhz memory for only R650 in 2012–by the following year, due to market forces around supply and demand, […]

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I remember the amazing feeling of buying 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600Mhz memory for only R650 in 2012–by the following year, due to market forces around supply and demand, we saw the prices of RAM increase substantially. By 2012 the cost of purchasing the same set of 8GB of DDR3 memory was close to R1200.

Now, finally, after stabilising for a bit around the R1000 area for 8GB of DDR3 memory, the price of memory is declining due to weak demand for personal computers and tablets.

According to DigiTimes, the price of RAM has fallen 9% in the second quarter of 2015, after looking at the prices on DRAMeXchange, which at the time of writing has gone down to a low of $2.83 for a 4GB (512MBX8) stick of DDR3 1600. Demand for memory usually picks up in the latter half of the year, in no small part thanks to demand from Apple due to installing memory inside its next generation iPhone.

As an added driver of sales, the introduction of DDR4 into Intel’s mainstream PC platform later this year should also drive sales. I imagine the prices of 8GB of DDR3 RAM right now would be closer to R700, but thanks once again to our flailing exchange rate, we enjoy a higher price of RAM, which seems to want to stay around R1000 mark. DDR3 probably wont get much cheaper than it is right now. You can already see how prices have plummeted.

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Biostar Will Demonstrate Intel Z170 “Skylake” Motherboard At Computex 2015 http://egmr.net/2015/05/biostar-will-demonstrate-intel-z170-skylake-motherboard-at-computex-2015/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/biostar-will-demonstrate-intel-z170-skylake-motherboard-at-computex-2015/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:00:33 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171346 Although Biostar is not a favourite on our sunny South African shores, but they have been making motherboards for as long as the best of them. Biostar published the first […]

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Although Biostar is not a favourite on our sunny South African shores, but they have been making motherboards for as long as the best of them. Biostar published the first images of their new Z170 motherboard based motherboard, which is for Intel’s new processors based under “Skylake”. The motherboards will be coming out later this quarter, but Biostar is going to be showing off their Biostar Gaming Z170X4 motherboard next month in Taipei at Computex 2015.

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The Gaming Z170X4 motherboard is for LGA1151 processors and has 12-phase voltage regulation module, four slots for DDR4 memory, three PCI Express 3.0 X16 slots, three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, two 10GB/s M.2 ports for small M2 sized SSDs, Killer Ethernet E2200 network processor as well as the requisite SATA, SATA Express ports as well as the Biostar bred audio solutions.

Not only will the Z170 chipset be on display at the Biostar booth, but so will H170 and B150 based motherboards.This is all being done in anticipation for Intel’s release of their “Skylake -S” processors is rumoured to be due out in August 2015, so a good two months from Computex.

Now Biostar are not well known for producing the most opulent or feature-rich motherboards, and I hope this more or less mundane looking bwon and balck next generation “Gaming” motherboard gets the treatment of the Gaming Z97X, which does give an inkling that Biostar is stepping up their game and releasing attractive looking motherboards. In fact, the “Gaming” moniker ahead of the Z170X4 suggests that this image of the Z170X may not be the final image, since the layout and colour scheme look extremely similar to the Z97X, minus the armour heatsink. So I wonder if the Z170X image we’ve seen is just simply the barebones and the actual Z170X gaming motherboard will look more like the Z97X? If so, Biostar might get their foot in the door on my radar.

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Nvidia GTX 980 Ti Spotted: Ti For Titan Irrelevant? http://egmr.net/2015/05/nvidia-gtx-980-ti-spotted-ti-for-titan-irrelevant/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/nvidia-gtx-980-ti-spotted-ti-for-titan-irrelevant/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171319 Next month aims to be quite exciting; we have AMD about to show off something never before seen in the GPU world while Nvidia is rumoured to be gearing up […]

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Next month aims to be quite exciting; we have AMD about to show off something never before seen in the GPU world while Nvidia is rumoured to be gearing up to release the GTX 980 Ti next month as well. In light of this relevlation, we’re getting some details regarding the new enthusiast-class GPU from Nvidia, as well as a few photos of the reference GTX 980 Ti graphics card.

 

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Now the card is not slated to be powered by a fully functional GM200 GPU core with the maximum configuration. Much like the relationship between the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti, the 980 Ti will be a gimped version of the GTX Titan X. The GM200-310 GPU will feature 2816 stream processors and 176 texture mapping units. The question on everyone’s tongue, after the GTX 970 memory allocation debacle, is whether or not the same fate will befall the GTX 980 Ti and come out with a reduced amount of raster operation pipelines and a cut-down memory interface. The reason for the GTX 970 to exist the way it does is thanks to the highly modular nature of Maxwell regarding it’s architecture, so any mention of cutting away SMs likely leads to some jitteryness regarding its memory allocation, which happens to be 6GB of GDDR5 memory.

 

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VideoCardz reports that the card will have a reference clockspeed of 1GHz GPU and 7Ghz for memory, but this is the card that AIB partners are going to be salivating over. Unlike a Titan X, and every Titan branded card, AIBs are allowed to sell, but not touch the card in any meaningful customisable way. In contrast The GTX 980 Ti is “most” of a Titan X ( with Nvidia even using the same PG600 PCB), but this is a chip where manufacturers can actually do some hard core engineering and churn out custom cooled and custom PCB graphics cards. We’re talking EVGA Classifieds, MSI Lightnings, Gigabyte Superclocks and ASUS Matrixs.

Oh My.

I wonder if we will even see a few of the custom cards at Computex 2015? Regardless, know that this card, although pricing is not revealed, will clearly be priced within the large open swathe of space between the GTX Titan X and the GTX 980- nearly $450 of wiggle room between those two. From unconfirmed benchmarks, it seems like the GTX 980 Ti is not that far behind the Titan X, which begs the question: Does Ti stand for Titan Irrelevant?

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We could also expect a price cut to the GTX 980 cards, since Nvidia are not so oblivious to the impending volcanic eruption on Mt AMD Fiji, and from the murmurs and forum posts of reviewers testing the new AMD card there is one thing that can be said–be cautious with your pricing Nvidia. If the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti does release before the new HBM powered card from AMD, then based on the performance and price of the AMD card, Nvidia might have to ready for a price cut to compete with it.

And with that, I can finally get myself a GTX 980 on the cheap as people flog them for the new AMD card.

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Light Up Your Mouse’s Life With Firefly, Razer’s Chroma Powered Mouse Mat http://egmr.net/2015/05/light-up-your-mouses-life-with-firefly-razers-new-chroma-powered-mouse-mat/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/light-up-your-mouses-life-with-firefly-razers-new-chroma-powered-mouse-mat/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:31 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171278 Okay, it happened. We’ve got coloured LED lit mousepads people. If you thought you could not shove more rainbows down the gullet of gamers, Razer is always around the corner […]

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Okay, it happened. We’ve got coloured LED lit mousepads people. If you thought you could not shove more rainbows down the gullet of gamers, Razer is always around the corner with a Chroma backed product to make sure you can have your rainbow cake and eat it.

Razer’s new Firefly gaming mat, much like it’s Chroma powered brothers and sisters, has customisable lighting that can glow and pulse in 16.8 million colours. That’s a few million more than the amount of colours I can pulse at, so you can…..(oh no)…..Colour me impressed.

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And just like the other Choma devices this one will be quite social and sync up with them over coffee where they can choreograph their light shows for a lighting spectacle you’ve only seen in the forests of Pandora.

The lighting is done along the left, right and bottom borders of the mat, while the Razer Firefly has a micro-textured finish to achieve a balance between control and speed, unlike past mousemats which sold as either control based or speed based. I’m pretty sure its the first time a mousemat comes with access to SDK, and I wont be the first person to Google that to verify, but you can code lighting effects into according to the games you play, just as you would  with any other Razer Chroma device.

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The price is sure to to break some records for a mouse mat, and at $60 internationally you can be pretty sure we in South Africa will be getting it close to R800-900–almost as much as a a gaming mouse. I realise that gaming needs to find and create areas of innovation and relevance, and power to Razer for pushing the boundaries of what we can constitute and claim as gaming peripherals, but $60 for a mouse mat with colours and not even include a USB hub? Not many gaming systems will have a gaming mouse that is cheaper than the mat it is playing on, but this might be the first time, and we have Razer to thank for that. It would be sweet if they had a bundled deal, like a Razer DeathAdder + Firefly combo.

Yeah, okay. We’re not in PC gaming for the affordability, so you can bet your coloured ass that enough people out there would find $60 in their bank account an acceptable price to pay for this. Do you think a $60 mouse mat is worth it?

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Intel “Skylake” Rumoured To Launch In August 2015 http://egmr.net/2015/05/intel-skylake-rumoured-to-launch-in-august-2015/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/intel-skylake-rumoured-to-launch-in-august-2015/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171261 We’re on the cusp of another shift to a new Intel die shrink and architectural revision, which funnily enough, is occuring in the same time year that its die shrink […]

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We’re on the cusp of another shift to a new Intel die shrink and architectural revision, which funnily enough, is occuring in the same time year that its die shrink of their Haswell architecture into 14nm Broadwell.

The launch timetable was publsihed by Chinese website Benchlife, and it details that the entire Skylake based microprocessors will launch between August and November 2015.

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Intel plans to demonstrate Skylake at its Intel Developer Forum, which takes place from the 18th-20th of August in San Francisco. This is not the place where you will find overclockers getting their LN2 pots pouring, and Intel will mostly be doing the boring, yet pertinent, stuff. Stuff such as discussing the peculiarities of the micro-architecture, possibly reveal some PCs powered by the new CPU(small form factor I imagine) and possibly even give some details for its future CPUs, which would likely be the die shrink of Skylake or even the replacement Skylake architecure for Haswell-E.

As is tradition, the first Skylake chips to hit the streets will be their premium i7 and i5 unlocked multiplier chips, the 6700K & 6600K. The earliest we might see the chips, accroding to rumour, is August, while the rest of the lineup, such as low power Core M “Skylake-Y” and mainstram and high performance Core-i series “Skylake-U” and “Skylake-H” will make their way to laptops in September 2015. Server grade and enthusiast laptop chips will be available between October and November, while Intel will update their mobile CPU lineup in January 2016.

Personally I’ve been using the same Sandy Bridge based system for nearly 3 and-a-half years, and based on performance numbers and budget, I’m going to try move to a Skylake based system by the end of the year. Who of you will also start saving to make the leap to a new Intel system?

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