Tech News

  • Razer Justifies Audio Business with THX Acquisition

    Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 | By: Dennis

    Well, There goes the neighborhood.

    George Lucas couldn't have envisioned in 1983 that his then company, THX, would one day be owned by a PC peripheral maker, but that's exactly what is happening now more than three decades after it was spun off from Lucasfilm. Razer, a company best known for its computer mice aimed at gamers, has gone out and acquired the majority assets of THX, the audio firm announced today.

    Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though THX did say that it will continue to operate as a standalone company underneath the ownership of Razer, and with its same management in place.

    The title alone paints a pretty clear picture that Razer is now owner of all of the audio specifications established since Return of the Jedi.  (so to speak)

    Fact of the matter is, companies are bought and sold on a daily basis and is one reason why they remain profitable and expand into new markets.  How is this acquisition going to help Razer?  That remains to be seen however a quote in the PC Gamer article tells me that they bought it because they could.

    As for Razer's interest in THX, Tan explained to Venture Beat in an email that he's been fan of THX for the greater part of his life and, after working with THX on a speaker product several years ago, he has a high confidence level in THX's team of designers and engineers.

    Back in the 2001 HP bought Compaq and while the purchase worked out for both companies it was largely done "because they could".  There was no financial trouble or mutual benefit, they just did it.  Fast forward 16 years and HP is now split and no longer a driving force in the market.  

    Will that happen with Razer?  I doubt it.  Eventually THX will get flipped but not until we see THX certified mice and computer cases.  Heck, we might even see ear buds with theater quality sound, not because it is possiable but, because they can.

  • Researchers turn carbon dioxide into ethanol, don't drink this.

    Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 | By: Dennis

    Ok sign me up because this little discovery is going to change everything!  The researchers at Oak Ridge National have stumbled on a way to convert carbon dioxide into pure ethanol using a simple catalyst, some electricity and nitrogen.  It happens at room temperature and basically reverses the combustion process.

    That is, in times of excess energy production from renewable resources, rather than store that electricity in a giant battery, we could instead convert it to ethanol and use that to power generators when renewable sources aren't producing. Plus it would be carbon neutral since the carbon dioxide generated from burning the ethanol would be reclaimed by the catalytic process. There's no word, however, on when this accidental invention will make it out of the lab.

    I can see how this generator could be used for a variety of purposes and it will depend largely on how fast the ethanol can be produced and how large the catalytic converter needs to be.  Likewise they claim that the process occurs at room temperature but there has to be some heat production or consumption during the process which can impact how efficient the conversion is.

    I'll be watching this one for sure.

  • NVIDIA Launches the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050Ti Video Cards

    Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 | By: Dennis

    In a bid to finally fill out the product lineup before the close of 2016 NVIDIA has launched the final two cards we had expected to see.  The GTX 1050 and GTX 1050Ti will occupy the low end of the Pascal product line and are designed for those who want to Discover GeForce Gaming.

    Currently NVIDIA has released the GTX 1080 which is their Flagship Gaming GPU.  It is quite expensive and also very powerful.  Next on the list we have the GTX 1070 and GTX 1060.  These are what NV would call “Serious Gaming” cards and occupy the mainstream segment for those who appreciate mid to high-end gaming and have a decent budget.

    The GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti are a little different and targeted at folks who may have never installed a dedicated graphics card.  I shudder to say this but there are folks who game on IGP (Integrated graphics) or have a discrete graphics card that is so old people are making momma jokes about it.

    So, what makes this card so special?

    In a word, price.  People in the low-end are price driven and likely pick up keyboards at the thrift store because they don’t know any better.  Granted, that makes good money "cents" but really isn’t helping make your system better.  This is where the GTX 1050 comes in.  The card is a little over a benny, requires no additional power, will run on a 300w PSU and can deliver some serious gaming performance.  At least when compared to whatever you are running.

    Specs
    GTX 1050
    640 Cuda cores 2GB GDDR5 memory
    75w TDP
    1354 Core / 1455 Boost / 3504 Mem

    GTX 1050 Ti
    768 Cuda cores, 4GB GDDR5 memory
    75w TDP
    1290 Core / 1392 Boost / 3504 Mem

    There will be no founders edition for the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti.  Instead you will see 100% custom board designs (yay!) with several designed for extensive overclocking.

    Look for them to be available on October 25th

  • Google puts Intel on notice, they are not using Intel chips within its cloud

    Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 | By: Dennis

    For those of you interested in datacenter architecture this is a good article to look over.  As we know Intel has been a dominate force in the market and with the downturn in the PC space it is servers that have kept Intel happy.  It would seem that Google is looking for a better way to run their datacenters and is not planning to use Intel hardware anymore.

    Instead they are looking towards what OpenCAPI is planning and with names like AMD and NVIDIA on the list you can guess what they may come up with.  As PC enthusiasts most of us recognize that Intel has the faster CPU and while ARM and AMD might have more power efficient solutions it is raw power we "want"

    The goal of these new interconnect initiatives is to challenge Intel’s dominance in this space. OpenCAPI is a project Nvidia has prominently planned to support with the enterprise version of its Pascal architecture, and AMD has its own reasons for cooperating with such efforts. If it wants to win back space for Zen, it may have decided throwing its own lot in with competitors working on new interconnects is the right way to do that. There’s precedent for doing this — back in 2003, it was AMD’s HyperTransport bus and its support for “glueless” multi-socket systems that gave the company a prominent advantage over Intel in the multi-socket server market. Even after dual and quad-core chips were available, Opteron continued to outperform some of its Core 2-equivalents in multi-socket configurations, at least for a little while.

    The majority of servers run either Windows, Linux or Unix based operating systems and the nature of a server OS is to run a variety of applications usually at the expense of NOT running any one of them extremely fast.  In the past the hardware drove OS development and with more powerful hardware it has made OS developers lazy,  Well lazy might be too harsh of a word, Developers have added more features to the point where you needed "more" hardware to run just the base OS.  (eg: Windows 8 and Windows 10)  If the OS was more efficient or specialized you could get away with running ARM in a datacenter, scale with more CPUs and still draw less power than anything else currently in production.  The trick is to make it fast.

    Power is expensive and I suspect that is part of the reason Google is looking for an alternative and it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

  • MSI, Gigabyte to enjoy strong graphics card shipments in 2016

    Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 | By: Dennis

    I think we can chalk this up to NVidia Pascal and some AMD stomach rumblings followed by a fart.  Below is a snip from the Digitimes article

    ----

    As demand from the gaming market continue rising, and virtual reality (VR) applications are growing popular, graphics card players such as Micro-Star International (MSI), Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology, Colorful, Galaxy and Zotac, are seeing their Nvidia-based mid-range to high-end product sales increase with MSI and Gigabyte expected to ship over 4.8 and 3.45 million graphics cards in 2016, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

    Nvidia is expected to release its new GTX 1050 and GTX 1050Ti GPUs in the near future and graphics card players are optimistic about the new GPUs' shipments in the fourth quarter, the traditional slow season, helping their overall shipments drop only 10% sequentially.

    MSI, which has been enjoying strong shipments and profits in gaming notebook products, is also seeing its graphics card sales rise and has caught up with Asustek.

    Although MSI has not had good graphics card sales in China, the company still has stable shipments to Europe and North America. MSI shipped over four million graphics cards in 2015 and shipped 3.5 million units in the first three quarters of 2016, giving the company a chance to challenge five million unit shipments in 2016.

    Because the company's shipments to Europe and North America are mostly mid-range to high-end products, MSI is also expected to achieve strong profits in 2016.

    Although Gigabyte's graphics card shipments did not have as strong growth as MSI in the first three quarters of 2016, volumes still reached 2.55 million units. Gigabyte is expected to ship 900,000 graphics cards in the fourth quarter. Thanks to rising ASP, Gigabyte's profits from the graphics card business in 2016 are expected to be higher than in 2015.

  • MSI GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING X 8G Video Card Review @ [H]

    Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 | By: Dennis

    Darren used this video card as a replacement for the Gigabyte GTX 970 he was running in the Core V51 modding project.  He was super lucky to find one at Microcenter a couple weeks after the GTX 1070 launched and even at a good price.

    We also promptly removed the heatsink so it could be watercooled but, that is beside the point. happy smile

    We have MSI’s new GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING X 8G video card to evaluate today. We will push this GPU as high as we can, and see how the overclock compares to the default factory overclock, and a Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. This video card is a fully custom retail video card with the Twin Frozr VI cooling system.

    One thing I really like about MSI video cards is their dedication to building an extremely solid PCB with a custom VRM and matching it with a very effective cooling solution.  Some of the lightning cards went off the deep end as far as cooler design but the Gaming and Gaming X cards are spot on.

    And quite fast too.

  • G.Skill TridentZ 3200 MHz 32GB Quad Channel DDR4 memory review

    Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 | By: Dennis

    GSKill you say?  Quad channel you say? 3200Mhz!! Enough, take my money!

    We review a 32GB TridentZ 3200 MHz CAS14 DDR4 memory from G.Skill. It's fast, it's cool and runs XMP 2.0 memory profiles on Intel platforms as well. Join us as we review some of the fastest clocked bars of memory your money can get you.

    I have already reviewed a dual channel kit of TridenZ running at 3466Mhz and designed for the new Skylake however quad channel at 3200Mhz is something you just don't see every day.  Sure, you can buy two dual channel kits and make a quad but, there is some low level testing and qualification taking place to ensure all of the modules will work well together.

    In fact, most high speed dual channel kits are the same modules used in a lower speed quad channel setup due to the tolerances needed to run the four-way.

  • Tesoro Gram Spectrum @ LanOC Reviews

    Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 | By: Dennis

    I have seen some keyboards in my day and even got to review some EL lighted ones before RGB was cool.  This white beast from Tesoro looks pretty cool even if their widescreen lens gives it the fish eye.

    With us being a few years into the whole RGB movement with mechanical keyboards, we are still seeing some companies finally moving their keyboards over to RGB and others have been refining their original designs. At this point, I have tested and covered just about everything and I think almost every day I’m turning down companies who want to send more and more of the same. I nearly did the same with the Gram Spectrum from Tesoro but the fact it was available in an all white design caught my eye. With everyone else only selling them in black, it is nice to see something a little different. On top of that, the Gram Spectrum also has Tesoro’s new switch called the Tesoro Agile with a short throw and short actuation point. So today I’m going to check out the Gram Spectrum and see what it is all about in all of its pale glory and find out how the new switches compare to the rest of the market.

    RGB does seem to be the trend of the future and while it will eventually fade away and lose popularity there will still be people who kick back with a cold one and say "hey, you remember dem RGB LED lights?  ya, dems was the time."

    Personally I'm waiting for the next generation, I think they will finally get all the bugs worked out by then, I mean seriously they have only had like 40 years to perfect the LED, what is 5 more.

  • Fierce PC Dragon Shield Review @ Vortez

    Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 | By: Dennis

    Here we have a Skylake based PC that has not only been overclocked but is also watercooled with DIY parts.

    Dr00l!!

    In the spotlight today is the Dragon Shield from Fierce PC. This computer system is a high-end offering which is laden with features. This rig takes advantage of Intel’s Z170 chipset and therefore makes use of the Intel Core i7-6700K. Accompanying this CPU there is 16GB DDR4, GTX 1070 and a trio of storage drives including M.2 NVMe technology. Not only has Fierce PC overclocked the CPU and GPU but they’ve also installed a custom water cooling configuration in order to achieve extremely low-temperatures.

    The specs read as a "whos who" of high-end hardware making you wonder how they can sell it for 2 grand?

  • Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 5.7 Percent in 3Q16

    Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 | By: Dennis

    I am often reminded of a dicussion I had with a fellow review site owner over the future of the PC.  This was during a discussion about "sweet spots" and how there was computer hardware you needed vs computer hardware that was excessively fast.  I told him that I felt it was the high-end hardware that would keep mfgs afloat and of course he disagreed.

    Thing is that was 5 years ago during the start of the "PC sales are declining" scare that started to kill off review sites and what have we learned since then?

    Yep, high-end hardware is keeping mfgs alive and the reason for this is simple.  We have 3 types of computer users. 

    First are your mainstream users, these people use a computer because they have to and could care less what is inside so long as it works.  When the computer gets old or infected with something they also take it to Best Buy and get scammed into buying a new one or will give up on the PC and use a tablet or their phone.

    The second group is working professionals.  These people are developers, designers, builders, programmers, etc. and have to use a computer on a daily basis to get their work done.  They know what they have, know what they need and know how to get it.  eg they buy what they need and use it until it until the warranty expires and starts the process again. 

    The final group is the enthusiasts.  These people are no different from anyone else they may be mainstream users, gamers, hackers or working professionals.  The difference is they know what they want and instead of buying a whole new machine they are on a continual upgrade path and will buy what they want.

    All three groups are hurting the PC market.  The first group is the reason why there are no new PC sales because they have given up.  Ultimately we don't care so much because they would only buy the cheapest thing at the store anyway.  The second group is really who we are measuring with the Gartner data and given that they are buying high-end machines they tend to last longer and don't need to be replaced as often.  Plus, let’s face it, you can game, program and even hack on 5 year old hardware.

    Our final group doesn't fall into this discussion however, is the group that hardware makers are targeting.  These people build their own PCs and are the only ones contributing to the “Make the PC great again” movement.  Sadly they are not represented as a sales number and given that hardware makers rarely supply boards to OEM suppliers you cannot measure their impact.

    PC manufacturers faced many challenges, which included weak back-to-school demand, and ongoing low demand in the consumer market, especially in emerging markets.



    "There are two fundamental issues that have impacted PC market results: the extension of the lifetime of the PC caused by the excess of consumer devices, and weak PC consumer demand in emerging markets," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "According to our 2016 personal technology survey, the majority of consumers own, and use, at least three different types of devices in mature markets. Among these devices, the PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to. Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again.

    Eventually the declining sales will level off which will cause some of the major hardware makers to slowly die off.  I’m still not sure how this will turn around and with Microsoft pushing operating systems designed for tablets and Apple pushing their own tablets they too are contributing to the problem.

    Maybe the PC is dead however there will always be a need for a workstation in the professional space.  The question is, how big will this workstation be?