Tech News

  • PrimoChill Praxis WetBench Review @ ThinkComputers

    Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Everyone has a different idea as to what a test bench is, what i needs to do and what kind of support it needs to have.  Personally I'm old school finding that a broken down chassis and using the motherboard tray.

    Of course with that said EVERYONE has tried to improve the simple design, so much in fact that some are just cases with the sides ripped off while others are super simple and giving you less than I have with a broken down case.

    PrimoChill has entered the test bench chassis world with their Praxis WetBench.  As the name suggests it is a test bench designed for watercooling.  Or, as I see it, a chassis with external watercooling support.

    Unlike typical PC cases where you have a wide variety of options to choose from the test bench category is very limited. Having a test bench is great, it allows you to easily switch out hardware, monitor components and much more. We have two different test benches here at ThinkComputers and when we were building out our Z270 test system it was time to get third. Both of our previous test benches got the job done, but had certain things that we did not like. After doing some research the PrimoChill Praxis WetBench was at the top of our list. The motto for the Praxis is “A testbench with watercooling in mind” which definitely caught our attention. The biggest thing about many test benches is that really do not have radiator support, which is very disappointing as we use AiO’s for our test systems. Let’s jump in and see if the Praxis is the perfect test bench for us!

    It is a self assembled chassis that has accessory storage underneath while the motherboard and cooling components sit topside at an angle for maximum viewing.  I can't diss, it looks good but cannot say if it is "my" type of bench.

  • Sound BlasterX Katana @ LanOC Reviews

    Published: Monday, May 01, 2017 | By: Dennis

    I joked after CES that everything was RGB and the one product that really drive it home was the new Sound BlasterX Katana.  This is a sound bar speaker solution that combines the features of the iRoar with a stand along 2.1 speaker system with triple amplifiers and patented Sound Blaster technology.

    For living rooms, it used to be a big push for multi-speaker configurations with a big receiver. For some people, this is still the goal, especially for surround sound. But recently there has been a trend where people have been moving to soundbars. They take up a lot less space while still being an audio improvement over your TVs speakers and they better fit with today’s ultra-thin TVs. There are some downsides though and performance can be a little limited. Well, Sound Blaster came out with the Sound BlasterX Katana and they don’t even like to put it in the same category as a traditional sound bar. They call it an Under Monitor Audio System aka a UMAS. This is because beyond having speakers under your monitor it has a built-in 224 bit DAC, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Decoder, and 5 drivers all with their own amps. With my wife getting a new desk, we started to look at her options and the Katana from Sound Blaster looked to be a good fit to keep the desktop footprint low by using unused space under her monitors. So today I’m going to check the Katana’s out and see just how they perform.

    Darren did an excellent review of the Sound BlasterX Katana so I urge you to check it out.

  • GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Custom Card Roundup

    Published: Monday, May 01, 2017 | By: Dennis

    I'm certain there will be more.  But, DAMN 22!!  that is crazy.

    The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti sits on the top echelon of NVIDIA's Pascal-driven, 10-Series GPUs. The GTX 1080 Ti offers performance up to 35% faster than the already impressive GTX 1080, and it boasts a 1480 MHz base clock, a 1582 MHz boost clock, 3,584 CUDA cores, and 11 GB of next generation GDDR5X video memory. Tech Radar calls the GTX 1080 Ti "NVIDIA's most impressive graphics card to date," and IGN echoes that sentiment, saying: "The GTX 1080 Ti is the fastest gaming graphics card available, by a wide margin."

    Aside from the obvious advantage in the speed department, the GTX 1080 Ti also uses a 7-phase power design along with 14 high-efficiency dualFETs, as well as a reconfigured high-airflow cooler, which keeps the card chillier and quieter than any graphics cards that have come before it. Thanks to the GTX 1080 Ti's cooling and power efficiency, it's quite friendly to overclocking, allowing enthusiasts to squeeze as much raw power out of the GPU as possible.

    I know that factory "overclocking" video cards are kinda on their way out but I'm still expecting to see an EVGA Kingpin edition and a Lightning from MSI.  Crossing my fingers for Computex.

  • SteelSeries Brings Gamers the World's First Dual-Surface RGB Illuminated Mousepad

    Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 | By: Dennis

    CHICAGO – April 26, 2017 – SteelSeries, brings innovation to its 15-year legacy of engineering the best gaming mousepads in the world by introducing the QcK Prism Gaming Mousepad. Built with purpose, the QcK Prism delivers features that go beyond the aesthetics of illumination and presents performance benefits for PC gaming. The new mousepad provides gamers with dual-sided premium surfaces – the first of its kind, 360 degrees of continuous illumination in 12 separate zones, and interference-free USB cable placement.



    The QcK Prism is the world’s first dual-surface RGB illuminated mousepad, featuring a premium micro-textured cloth that adds friction for more deliberate movements and a hard polymer surface for a fast-paced glide. The QcK Prism comes with brilliant 360-degree, 12-zone Prism RGB illumination with advanced lighting effects and supports SteelSeries GameSense, providing reactive illumination to in-game events such as low ammo, health, kills, cooldown timers and more.

    Jason Christian, Category Manager for Gaming Surfaces, Mice and Keyboards says “Every aspect of this peripheral was built with purpose. It delivers premium surface performance with brilliant lighting and zero mouse cable interference.”

    In addition to the millions of colors and lighting effects, the QcK Prism also supports SteelSeries Prism Sync. Gamers can create dynamic multi-color lighting effects between the QcK Prism and all other Prism-enabled gear, including the Arctis 5 headset, Rival 700 mouse and Apex M800 keyboard.

    The QcK Prism was made with a game-tested design. Unlike all other RGB mousepads, the cable housing is positioned out of the way, on the left side, where it will not catch a gamer’s mouse cable.

    The QcK Prism is now available at http://steelseries.com/qckprism for $59.99 and online retailers including Amazon and Best Buy.  For more information about SteelSeries’ QcK Prism or SteelSeries complete selection of gaming accessories, visit www.SteelSeries.com.

  • PowerColor Red Devil Golden Sample RX 580 Review @ Vortez

    Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Yesterday I did a candid news posting about the naming of products and how it seems shelf appeal has become more important than actually coming up with a good name.  For this Powercolor RX 580 it would seem that one product name wasn't good enough and had to add a second.

    Red Devil Golden Sample

    wink smile just rolls off the tongue.

    PowerColor’s Red Devil Golden Sample RX 580 is an excellent showcase of how the new 500-series can deliver an effective rival to NVIDIA’s mid-range GTX 1060 (and in some cases even GTX 1070). Our Golden Sample card handled DX12 games with ease and even proved an impressive level of prowess at 1440p and 4K resolutions.

    I'm all for the Devil series of products, it just sounds tough even if they aren't really all that special.  Well, now they have thrown in a Gainward favorite the "Golden Sample" in hopes of capturing some nostalgia for some and "wow look at that" for others.

    At least has a pentagram on the back big grin smile

    In an unrelated note, I flat out dislike developers who feel "mobile first" applies to desktops and insist that anyone running a browser in a window must be on mobile.  Ugg.

  • Motherboard players act passively about outcome of the market

    Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Here is an interesting editorial about how motherboard makers are reacting to the current state of the PC Market.

    With PC demand remaining weak and the PC DIY channel continuing to experience decreased sales in the first quarter of this year, motherboard and graphics card players pointed out that the market is already in a phase of decline and most players are mainly waiting for competitors to quit the market or turning to focus on other applications in order to survive.

    The PC DIY channel has seen dropping sales during the past two years and the situation is especially worsening in China and this has greatly impacted motherboard players. To maintain their profits, most players have turned to focus on the gaming sector to push mid-range and high-end motherboards.

    They go on to talk about what companies have prepared for the remainder of the year and even mention how NVIDIA seems to be doing well despite the decline in demand.  This is likely due to the success of Pascal and the demand that has been created with the new GPU.

    However, Nvidia has greatly benefited from the graphics card market during the past two years despite the market also seeing falling demand. Since Nvidia has a dominant share in the market, it has gradually become influential with its downstream graphics card player partners in terms of giving supply priority, pricing, marketing and product designs.

    Motherboard and graphics card players are also concerned about Nvidia's Founder Edition product line and believe the GPU giant is looking to compete against them for the most profitable sector, despite Nvidia having refused such a claim.

    It isn't likely that NVIDIA will go back to building motherboard chipsets again.  Personally I believe their next step will be expanding their mobile market share and offering more in the way of small device processing and whatever it is they do for gaming.  Honestly I'm having trouble following what NVIDIA is doing on the gaming side and the ecosystem they are creating around shield.

    One thing is for certain, RGB might be easy to market but, I believer real enthusiasts are getting a little tired of it.

  • Next-Generation Memory Standard Earns Lukewarm Reception @ Extremetech

    Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Maybe the best quote I can find about Intel Optane comes not from a professional review site but rather a long standing technology site that started as a lackluster review site.  (go figure how that transformation happened, oh wait, money happy smile

    Anyhow Extremetech has posted a little editorial about Intel Optane that pulls in results from other review sites and has this to say.

    One issue no one’s happy with is Intel’s decision to limit Optane to Kaby Lake CPUs in 200-series chipsets. SSD caches (and Optane caches) would be most effective if deployed as acceleration in lower-cost systems or older hardware. Intel’s decision to sandbox their platform to only the latest motherboards and CPUs means the computers that could benefit the most from Optane acceleration aren’t eligible to use it.

    It’s also telling the platforms Intel shipped for Optane testing literally preclude comparing it with its most logical competitor. As we’ve previously stated, Optane should be compared against SSD drive caching, but the B250 motherboards that Intel provided literally only support Optane caching. If you try to configure the software to cache via SSD instead, it refuses to do so. For that, you need a Z270 motherboard, and that’s one reason we don’t have Optane figures ourselves today. The appropriate configuration to test against is the configuration that should serve as Intel’s primary competitor.

    There is some "emphasis" that gets lost in the Hardware Asylum quote system BUT, it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Optane.  Basically, it makes things fast but only on systems that are already fast with no chance of making older systems fast using the new fast technology.

    Or in other words.  Intel is forcing obsolensense on its own hardware to get people to buy new hardware and use technology they don't really need,  #smart

    Be sure to check out the full article.

  • Palit GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GameRock Premium 11 GB @ techPowerUp

    Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    GAME ROCK!! 

    Or rock game? gamez rox?  Meh, product names these days.  Whatever happened to logical names like "Golden Sample" or "Inferno Katana"?  Those seem good but, don't have the same POP on the retail shelves that Game Rock does.

    Palit's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GameRock Premium is the company's latest flagship card. It introduces a new fan design in which two stacks of two fans each operate in a counter-rotating fashion. Also the card comes with a dual BIOS and a large overclock out of the box.

    I was a little curious about the video card so I will admit, I clicked the review link and have to say.  The logo looks great however, the card is like flat.  For one it is a dual fan cooler design with a blue shroud and triple slot spacing.  However, remove the cover and you get a pretty amazing PCB with extra large VRM. 

    Almost inspired by the MSI GamerX series. #justsayin

  • Intel's 32GB Optane Memory Storage Accelerator - Launch Day

    Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Storage has always been a choke point in the modern PC and while storage systems like RAID, SSDs and PCI Express SSDs have made things better there is always room for improvement.

    Intel has included a new storage technology called Optane into the new Z270 chipset and several sites have posted their review of the new technology just to see if it lives up to the hype.  Given that this is an Intel tech, maybe?

    Web Reviews
    - Intel's 32GB Optane Memory @ TR
    - The Intel Optane Memory Module Review @ Hardware Canucks
    - Intel Optane Memory With 3D XPoint Review: Easy, Robust PC Acceleration @ Hardware of Hottnessnesses
    - Intel Optane Memory Review - 1.4GB/s Speed & 300K IOPS for $44

    I find it funny that all of the review titles are super clickbait esq and yet say the same thing.  Its almost like they are trying to make it a "meh" tech but sound awesome at the same time.

  • Throwback Time: Freeway Design FWD-P3C4XD

    Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Back in late November 2000 I took a massive step forward and started doing product reviews.  Before that Ninjalane.com, the site that would eventually become Hardware Asylum, was dedicated to casemodding, system building and other enthusiast PC activities long before it was cool and commercialized.  At the time there were a handful of hardware review sites and only a few of them exist today.  (badge of honor)

    The first product I ever professionally reviewed was from a company called Freeway Design.  They were a Japanese based manufacturer that built and distributed products out of Taiwan.  During that time I was on the hunt for a dual CPU motherboard using the new Pentium III socket 370.  I was a veteran user of SMP systems and wanted something special for my next build.  Well, special is what I got.

    I believe the original press release was posted on Digitimes and showed a bright red dual socket motherboard built on the VIA VT82C694X chipset.  What was different about this motherboard wasn’t so much support for dual CPUs but that both CPU sockets were vertical along the motherboard whereas other boards of the time positioned them around the chipset making the board look cluttered.

    The problem was, Freeway Design only sold in APAC (Asia Pacific) Region meaning that there were no retailers in the US where I could buy the board.  On a whim I emailed the contact listed in the press release asking if I there was a chance to buy the board directly

    What happened next floored me (click bait anyone?)

    Freeway Design offered to send me the board in an exchange for doing a review for my website.  It seemed crazy at the time but, they were a fairly new company looking to get some exposure and to this day I think I was one of three sites in the world to actually review a Freeway Design motherboard.

    Of course, the rest is history.

    The motherboard shown above is still fully operational and has two Pentium 3 800Mhz processors installed with Alpha heatsinks on each CPU.  This unique heatsink design used a series of extruded pins and instead of blowing air through the heatink it was designed to have air drawn up and away.  It was actually proven to be more efficient and still stands as one of the best bi-metal based heatsinks you could by.  The only downside was noise driven the high speed 60mm YSTech fans I had mounted on top.

    So, what happened to Freeway Design?  A couple years after my FWD-P3C4XD review went live the company changed their focus and started building “white box” laptops and OEM style PCs and later leased out time in their factories to build a variety of different hardware similar to what Foxconn does.