Tech News

  • Gaming hardware needs to grow up @ PCGamer

    Published: Monday, January 30, 2017 | By: Dennis

    I'm not going to say that this is a proper response to the current state of PC hardware but, this is a proper response, at least to a certain degree.

    Much like the author of this piece at PCGamer, I have been around PC hardware for a long time.  I remember when desktop cases were "the thing" and how most people wanted more drives because more drives meant more storage options.  (oh and by "more drives" I mean external drives, like floppy drives)

    The author tells it straight though, the PC market is on a decline and companies are scrambling to find ways to make their products sell.  Often that means adding gold or, as we have seen this season, adding RGB lights just to appease the one region of the world still buying PC hardware.

    Don't get me started with RGB lighting. It's everywhere I look and it seems like we're on a path to no return. Speakers are lit, keyboards are lit, motherboards are lit, RAM is lit, headsets are lit—everything is lit. One day I'm going to have a damn seizure. Heck, even "gaming" chairs are starting to feature RGB lighting.

    Admittedly there are folks who light up their rigs tastefully, and they do look great. But when did insane designs and RGB equate to gaming? Are manufacturers telling us that in order to perform well in a game we have to have RGB lighting and that whatever products we buy have to have fins and jagged edges? Why can't a gaming product be simple, effective, and perform well? Does the computer case I use need to have flaps, fins and bulges to convey that the size of my "e-peen" is substantial? Does RGB lighting deliver a higher chance of a stable overclock? Give me a break.

    The author brings up a good point though.  We don't need all of this BUT, we need something, a spark to bring the PC back from the dead.

    A Reason

    We as hardware enthusiasts need to spread the word that having a custom PC is cool again.  I will be the first to admit that I think the current direction is counterproductive but will say the Asian marketing engine is fierce.  I mean, if a single region can sway 90% of the hardware makers to do "something" and do that something "together” that is telling me two things.  First that there is hope for the future of the enthusiast PC, and Second that most everyone has run out of ideas and need people help define the future.

  • Is 3D TV Really Dead? LG and Sony are saying yes

    Published: Friday, January 27, 2017 | By: Dennis

    I found this article on CNet to be very interesting and something I really haven't paid much attention to.  Several years ago 3D was "all the rage" NVIDIA released their 3D Vision system, computer monitors had 3D built in and you could buy TVs with 3D.

    At the time I was all "Meh", why would I want 3D at home, I tried it with the red and blue glasses back in the 80's and it was awesome however the color rendering was crap and if you didn't look at the screen correctly things didn't work.  Heck, you go to the movie theater and you have the same issues so why would I pay extra to bring that into my home.

    It would seem I'm not alone in that thinking and TV makers have been slowly dropping support for 3D and 2017 marks the end of 3D as a selling point in consumer televisions. 

    LG and Sony, the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs, will stop doing so in 2017. None of their sets, not even high-end models such as their new OLED TVs, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows.

    Samsung dropped 3D support in 2016; Vizio hasn't offered it since 2013. Other smaller names, like Sharp, TCL and Hisense, also failed to announce any 3D-capable TVs at CES 2017.

    The 3D feature has been offered on select televisions since 2010, when the theatrical success of "Avatar" in 3D helped encourage renewed interest in the technology. In addition to a 3D-capable TV, it requires specialized glasses for each viewer and the 3D version of a TV show or movie -- although some TVs also offer a simulated 3D effect mode.

    Now, if NVIDIA would finally remove it from their driver package I'd be sooooooo, happy. but lets face it that company has already given up on 4-way SLI when they were the first to introduce it why would they do something helpful?  happy smile

  • Throwback Time: MSI X79 Big Bang XPower ii

    Published: Thursday, January 26, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Back in Early to Mid 2012 I took on a grand adventure to qualify for the MOA 2012.  The competition was arraigned such that different regions around the world would hold a qualifier and winners from each region were invited to attend the Grand Final.  Sadly I didn't qualify but didn’t come in last either so I call that a failed success.

    The thing with overclocking competitions is that you have to balance three basic things.  Hardware selection - LN2 Skills (overclocking ability) - Money/Time.  If you fail at one of these, then you might fail the competition. 

    For the 2012 MOA I choose to use the MSI 7970 Lighting and X79 Big Bang XPower II.  It wasn't a requirement to use such an over the top motherboard however there was a worldwide shortage of MSI X79 motherboards at the time and I really needed one.  In the end I bought a rather expensive hardware bundle that included the Big Bang with a vanilla 7970 and Battlefield 3.

    The motherboard is massive and one of the few using the XL-ATX form factor meaning that the board is quite a bit taller than a standard ATX but, supports 4-way SLI and Crossfire, comes with two 8-pin CPU power sockets, PCI Express power sockets, oversized heatsinks, hardware overclocking controls, voltage test points. some fancy LED activity lights and a ton of other stuff.

    2012 was also during the height of the military "theme" motherboards and the Big Bang featured a mini gun VRM heatsink and ammo belt over the South Bridge.  Some say the heatsink in the middle is a grenade though I just used it as a carry handle to move the motherboard around so, whatever.

    I will admit, I fell in love with overclocking during the MOA 2012 Americas Qualifier and this motherboard helped seal the deal. 

  • Noctua offers upgrade-kits for AMD's Ryzen platform free of charge

    Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Vienna, January 25th 2017 – Noctua today officially announced that it will provide users of its CPU coolers with free mounting upgrade kits for the new AM4 socket of AMD's upcoming Ryzen architecture. The SecuFirm2 mounting-kits are backwards compatible with most Noctua CPU coolers manufactured since 2005 and will be available via resellers and free of charge via Noctua's website after uploading a proof of purchase.

    "We were the first heatsink manufacturer to provide its customers with free mounting upgrades in 2006 when AMD introduced the AM2 socket and we've continued this policy with several generations of Intel sockets. Now we're glad to offer free mounting upgrades for the new AM4 platform," says Roland Mossig (Noctua CEO). "It makes us proud that so many customers who bought their Noctua cooler five or even ten years ago, and used it on several platform generations, are still so satisfied with it that they want to keep running it on the latest CPUs. Keep enjoying your Noctua coolers on AM4!"

    Noctua will offer two different SecuFirm2 mounting upgrade kits for AM4: the NM-AM4-UxS kit for NH-U14S, NH-U12S and NH-U9S, and the NM-AM4 kit that supports most other retail cooler models manufactured since 2005 (NH-C12P, NH-C12P SE14, NH-C14, NH-C14S, NH-D14, NH-D14 SE2011, NH-D15, NH-D15S, NH-D9L, NH-L12, NH-L9x65, NH-U12, NH-U12F, NH-U12P, NH-U12P, SE1366, NH-U12P SE2, NH-U9, NH-U9B, NH-U9B SE2, NH-U9F) except for the NH-L9i/NH-L9a series low-profile coolers. In addition to the NM-AM4 and NM-AM4-UxS, Noctua also aims to offer an upgrade-kit for the NH-L9a later this year.

    The SecuFirm2 mounting system for AM4 has been tailor-designed for the new socket in order to ensure optimal compatibility, perfect contact pressure and easy, straightforward installation. Both the NM-AM4 and the NM-AM4-UxS kit include two different sets of mounting bars, which allows the users to choose the orientation of the cooler according to their preferences in order to ensure an optimal alignment with the airflow path inside the case.

    In order to obtain the kits free of charge via Noctua's website, users are required to upload a proof of purchase (electronic version, scan or photo of the invoice) of an AM4 motherboard or AM4 CPU as well as an eligible Noctua retail CPU cooler (server and workstation coolers of the DX and DO line are excluded from the free offer). Users who have lost the invoice for their Noctua cooler may write their full name and the current date on a piece of paper, take a photo of the paper next to their cooler and upload it as proof of purchase. Depending on the user's location, shipping will usually take 1–4 weeks.

    For users who need the kit urgently or do not yet have a proof of purchase of an AM4 CPU or motherboard, the NM-AM4 and NM-AM4-UxS kits will also be available via selected retailers and e-tailers such as Amazon at a suggested retail price of EUR 7.90/USD 7.90.

    About Noctua
    Designed in Austria, Noctua's premium cooling components are internationally renowned for their superb quietness, exceptional performance and thoroughgoing quality. Having received more than 6000 awards and recommendations from leading hardware websites and magazines, Noctua's fans and heatsinks are serving hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers around the globe.

  • Asylum: Review Block - The Meh which is Corsair

    Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    In the world of hardware review it is up to the editor to express his/her opinion on a certain product and back that up with a certain amount of Klout or repeatable data.  This is why I run my systems though benchmarks and why we also test products for a certain amount of time before publishing a review.

    It would seem that Corsair, makers of fine memory products, has decided that for their products to get the most exposure they cherry pick their reviewers and then do what they do to make sure things are always on the up and up.

    Twould seem, I'm not on that list anymore but still support the company whenever I can, not because they support me but, rather out of respect for how things were back in the day.  I'm a little curious to know if their position will change once I get the YouTube channel running and if so, what will I tell them?

    Web Reviews
    - Corsair K95 Platinum Keyboard @ techPowerUp
    - Corsair K95 RGB Platinum @ LanOC Reviews
    - Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris Mousing Surface Review @ APH Networks

    All of these products are RGB because that is what their YouTube/reddit army demands, and I bet they all use Cherry MX switches.  wink smile

  • Cougar ATTACK X3 RGB Gaming Keyboard Review @ Madshrimps

    Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Umm,  Can we get someone from marketing over there?  These product names are getting a little sketch.

    With the ATTACK X3 RGB, Cougar is introducing another affordable peripheral to the market which houses the reliable Cherry MX RGB switches and we have additional flexibility of choice between four different types: Black, Brown, Blue and Red. The keyboard is quite light for a mechanical model at just 0.9 Kg and features a 1.8m long braided USB cable with gold-plated USB ports, as we have seem with other high-end peripherals. Thanks to the brushed aluminum top plate, the chassis of the ATTACK X3 RGB is reinforced, but also thanks to this layer, the LED lighting reflection looks even better.

    At CES I asked the question "Why Cherry MX Switches?".  It seems the Corsair marekting engine created demand so great that even people that can't tell the difference demand that their keyboards be made with Cherry switches.

    The thing I'm struggling with is, how often do people swap keyboards?  I mean here I am using an Microsoft Natural Elite that has been on my desk for almost 20 years and with a service record like that eventually the keyboard market is going to dry up.

  • Lian Li PC-K6S Case Review @ ThinkComputers

    Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Despite being the leading maker of aluminum computer cases Lian Li has been building SECC steel cases for quite awhile.  Their latest attempt is with their Ebonsteel line and is a case we looked at not to long ago.

    Lian Li is known by many as a high-end case manufacture with many of their cases costing well over $250. This is mainly because these cases are made of all aluminum, which of course is more expensive and lighter than steel. What you might not know is that Lian Li has an Ebonsteel line of cases which feature steel construction and come in at affordable prices. Today we will be taking a look at the PC-K6S, which is the silent version of the PC-K6. Being that this case is made for silence you have sound dampening material on both side panels, the top and front of the case. The PC-K6S is also designed to give you an extremely clean build as you have large metal shrouds covering the power supply and have drive cages. Talking about storage this case can fit up to 7 hard drives! Let’s see what the PC-K6S is all about!

    Funny thing is, I like the look of aluminum cases however, as it was explained to me the global market for aluminum is making it difficult to get material and still remain cost effective.  Hopefully this will change in the near future.

  • Throwback Time: Soltek SL-86SPE-L Violet Eyes

    Published: Thursday, January 19, 2017 | By: Dennis

    This year at CES 2017 I saw something I haven't seen in a long time.  A motherboard that wasn't completely black.  The board in question was the new Gigabyte Z270X Designare and instead of using the sudo standard matte black PCB it was built on a silver'ish board which got me thinking.

    I used to have a metallic silver motherboard which as made by Soltek back in the Pentium 4 days.  Sadly that motherboard was lost in the void of broken hardware but, I was able to find another Socket 478 Springdale bit of awesome, the Soltek SL-86SPE-L "Violet Eyes" motherboard.

    This motherboard is pretty special in that it came with SATA ports (direct from the South Bridge) along with an onboard RAID controller for us still running PATA drives.  At the top you'll find two memory banks for dual channel DDR memory along with a rather small VRM with capacitors that have since started to leak.

    The one thing I really liked about Soltek motherboards is that they were different.  It would seem that every board they released featured a different PCB color and really helped them sell in the open computer markets of ASIA. Sadly, this was one of the last motherboards from Soltek, and any other board maker, to feature a PCB color other than black. As it would turn out the process to create these motherboards was extremely toxic and couldn't pass the new environmental laws.

    From this board forward the Soltek motherboards all featured a glossy black PCB and purple expansion sockets that were first introducted on the Violet Eyes. 

    If anyone is curious and can stand the old school check out my review of the Soltek SL-86SPE-L which is still hosted at Ninjalane, it is only 13 years old big grin smile.

  • Hardware Labs Black Ice Nemesis GTR 360 Radiator @ techPowerUp

    Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | By: Dennis

    The Hardware Labs Black Ice is the gold standard when it comes to PC watercooling radiators and while I do like what Thermaltake is doing there are some that just cannot get over the fact they are made from aluminum.  (mostly EK fans and /r/watercooling readers it would seem)

    Personally I'm all for trying new things and this new 360 rad from Hardware Labs looks amazing.

    Hardware Labs has been a mainstay in the PC DIY watercooling industry for over 15 years now, with an emphasis on radiators for different needs. Today, we take a look at the new Nemesis GTR 360 for those who want the best possible thermal dissipation performance from their radiators.

    Now I just need to figure out where to get them. happy smile

  • Samsung 960 PRO 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Review @ CDRLabs

    Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | By: Dennis

    NVMe will be a hot topic this summer with all of the major memory makers releasing drives and attempting to crack the price for performance maxtrix.

    As as PC enthusiast I'm all for performance and will likely always buy the fastest drive I can afford and then wonder how much faster I can make it.  The 960 PRO NVMe drive is blazing the trail first laid down by the 950 EVO that we reviewed not to long ago.

    The Samsung 960 PRO is one of, if not the, best consumer NVMe SSDs on the market today. Designed for professionals and enthusiasts, this M.2 form factor SSD is powered by Samsung's new 5-core Polaris controller and is available with up to 2TB of the company's 48-layer V-NAND flash. Combine this with a PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe and you have an SSD capable of delivering some truly ludicrous performance. The 960 PRO screamed through our sequential transfer rate tests,  reading at speeds as high as 3,570 MB/s and writing at more than 2,100 MB/s. The drive also took the top spot in our random write tests, producing more than 265,000 IOPS at low queue depths.

    Gotta get me some of that action, cause: reasons.