Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 | By: Dennis
One of the cool products I personally saw at CES 2017 was the Katana sound bar from Creative. Big sound from a small package with many iRoar features built in.
Soundbars are a popular choice among many people looking for a high quality speaker system that is also compact. As a sub-market, gamers end up having to wade through the many offerings out there in the wide world, yet may be unsure of what it is they want or need. So the 'gaming' soundbar became a thing. Our first outing with such a product was with the Razer Leviathan, and now we get to take a look at the Sound BlasterX Katana from Creative.
The thing with sound bars is not so much how good or bad they sound but the form factor and how it works with your PC setup. Some of us have dual and triple monitors and might want more sound separation.
Published: Friday, February 03, 2017 | By: Dennis
They say it is all about finding your niche or, in the case of PC hardware you need to diversify and capitolize on the markets that are making money. Gaming and enthusiast PCs are hot right now so why not take advantage.
To understand how the company made its pivot, first let's look at its trajectory. MSI was founded in 1986 with a focus on designing and manufacturing motherboards for computers. Having gone public two years later, the company's next big moves came in 2003 and 2008 when it began selling branded notebooks and netbooks, respectively. At its height during those years, MSI's revenue hit $3.1 billion (U.S. dollars) in 2008.
When I started Ninjalane.com MSI wasn't a huge player in the motherboard market, they had products out there but nothing really stood out and then, overnight it seems, MSI changed and created silos of specialization. Of course, I cared more about the OC line then gaming but that started a trend that has steamrolled ever since.
Unlike consumer PC owners, customers in the gaming world typically demand high-performance devices to help enhance their game play--and they're willing to pay extra for them. While sales of traditional PCs have been slow or trending downward, high-end gaming PC sales are thriving. Specifically, the global gaming hardware market continues to grow and is expected to reach $140 billion by 2019. That's billion, with a "b."
Interest in gaming hardware has been driven in part by the immense global popularity of eSports. With major events including the International and the League of Legends World Championship, revenues from the eSports industry were expected to reach almost $500 million last year, up more than 50 percent from 2015.
This is a key part of the entrepreneur.com article, It will be the enthusaists that dominate the custom PC market and is something I have said time and time again. Personally I'm looking forward to the future of the PC, even if Intel and Microsoft want to kill it off.
Published: Thursday, February 02, 2017 | By: Dennis
Back in the early 2000’s AMD was on top of the performance world with a very highly sought after CPU that was not only inexpensive but, fast and loved to overclock. This trifecta was further enhanced by NVidia and their launch into building chipsets along with top notch GPUs.
To enhance performance and make motherboard production cheaper AMD launched the Athlon64 processor platform and things have changed forever. The new processor combined a CPU with a Memory Controller allowing for better performance and lower latency. It also allowed companies like NVidia to develop single chip motherboard solutions and concentrate on connectivity over raw performance.
In this Throwback Thursday I give you the Chaintech Zenith ZNF3-150. This is an NVidia based motherboard using the new nForce3 chipset designed for Athlon64 754pin processors.
As you can see the motherboard is very colorful with bright orange expansion slots, purple caps and a very large VRM cooler that is not only covered in a gold shield but features an actively cooled heatsink called RadEX. The small fan vented out the back of the I/O panel and seemed excessive at the time considering it was only 4 phases. Of course to keep with the gold theme a small decorative cover can be found on the MCP heatsink and all of the I/O sockets are covered in gold as well.
At the bottom of the motherboard you’ll find a short expansion socket which is a dedicated audio port for the CMC (Chaintech Multimedia Card). This was a genius onboard audio solution which was way ahead of its time.
The Chaintech Zenith ZNF3-150 might not have been a very popular motherboard of the era but remains as one of the few boards to really push the limit and deliver a complete solution instead of just a bare motherboard.
Published: Thursday, February 02, 2017 | By: Dennis
Shogun is the master.
Sorry, couldn't resist. Extra points if you know what movie that is from and even more points if you have ever watched it.
We review one of the better looking chassis I have seen in a while, the new BitFenix Shogun, a product series that is designed for the enthusiast crowd, loaded with features and really nice looks. Yes, with nice aesthetics and yes, it has been fitted with tempered glass. And that does make this chassis look very special. Wanna have a peek?
Personally I'm like, uhh meh for the Shogun. It is def not the master of all computer cases. Granted, that's a worst-case scenario. The meh might in fact be very localised and limited to merely our own galaxy.
Oh snap, another movie quote!, this time one about things being bad!
Published: Thursday, February 02, 2017 | By: Dennis
I'm not really a fan of the Arctic brand of CPU coolers. They cool pretty well and have a nice white and black color theme but the mounting hardware is way bad. By the looks of it they have improved things a little.
Our first CPU cooler review of 2017 and it’s the Arctic Freezer i32. The Arctic Freezer i32 is based on the Arctic Freezer i30, but Arctic state the i32 has several feature improvements that boost performance and reduce noise. Arctic have been around the PC and system builder’s scene for a very long time. In fact, we use Arctic MX2 for all our CPU cooler reviews just because we have used Arctic thermal paste for a very long time and trust it. We know what it is capable of and we know they know their thermal paste.
The tower is a four heatpipe cooler design with stagared pipes for better cooling and a rather dense fin array. Cooling should be pretty good with this configuration and might be why they call it Semi Passive or, that could just be marketing speak for "the fan spins so slow it might as well not be there"
Do check out the review and start on the second page if you want to see photos.
Published: Thursday, February 02, 2017 | By: Dennis
February 1st, 2017 – The EVGA Closed Loop CPU Cooler (CLC) 120 and 280 have arrived. These new liquid coolers from EVGA give you incredible performance, low noise, robust software controls and RGB lighting.
Built to Perform
New cooling block offers improved flowrate and heat transfer surface area for incredible cooling efficiency.
Sync with your EVGA GeForce GTX Graphics Card*
Link up your EVGA CLC cooler with select EVGA graphics cards, and match the colors directly from software. One button to control both RGB LED’s! Color profiles even save to firmware.
* Available on select graphics cards.
New EVGA Fans
These fans are built for superior cooling and lower noise. The curved housing reduces noise level and unique blade design offers incredible cooling performance. Teflon Nano Bearings ensure a long lifespan.
EVGA Flow Control Software (Coming Soon)
This EVGA software gives you full control over your EVGA CLC Liquid Cooler including, fanspeed/curve, RGB lighting, Pump Control, Profiles and more! Also, the fan settings and lighting save to firmware meaning you can set and forget.
FREE AM4 Bracket (Coming Soon)
The EVGA CLC coolers are available immediately at a US MSRP of $89.99 for the CLC 120 and $129.99 for the CLC 280. Learn more at: http://www.evga.com/articles/01081/evga-clc-liquid-cpu-cooler/
EVGA is the #1 NVIDIA authorized partner in channel sales throughout North America and Latin America and a leading Power Supply Manufacturer. Based on the philosophy of intelligent innovation, market knowledge, and the real time operation, EVGA continues to identify the need in the market place and providing the solution to that need. By offering product differentiation, 24/7 tech support, a 90 day Step-Up program, and other customer focused programs, EVGA is a clear leader in all categories: etail, retail, distribution, and system integration. With headquarters in Brea, CA, EVGA’s global coverage includes EVGA GmbH in Munich, EVGA LATAM in Miami, and EVGA Hong Kong. For further information online about EVGA, visit: www.evga.com
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.