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2018-05-22T13:48:18.144Z
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Razer launched the Core v2 eGFX enclosure in Q4 2017. It came with a unique industrial design and dual Thunderbolt 3 controllers that justified its price premium over other eGFX enclosures. Today, coinciding with the introduction of the Razer Blade 15.6, Razer is launching the Core X eGFX enclosure.

The Razer Core X does away with the bells and whistles of the Core v2 - the chassis is more economical to manufacture, thanks to a simpler industrial design. The second Thunderbolt 3 controller is gone, as are the I/O extension ports - the Core X serves as a eGFX enclosure and supports only a PCIe 3.0 x4 peripheral. That said, the Core X supports larger graphics cards compared to the Core v2. The internal power supply is also an ATX 650W one (compared to the 500W Flex-ATX PSU in the Core v2). This allows the Thunderbolt 3 port to support power delivery up to 100W (compared to the 65W in the Core v2). The Core X also uses the Alpine Ridge C-stepping, unlike the Core v2 which used an older stepping of the controller. The Core X doesn't support Razer Chroma (the RGB lighting feature common across various Razer peripherals). All these changes allow Razer to price the Core X at $299 compared to the Core v2's $499.

The Core X launch also brings Mac support to Razer's family of eGFX enclosures (Core v2 and Core X only). Similar to...

Today Razer is taking the wraps off a new model in their lineup. The Razer Blade 15.6 slots in between the Razer Blade 14 and the Razer Blade Pro, and boasts some features we’ve not seen in the rest of their lineup yet. They’ll be offering it in a variety of configurations, with different displays, and either a NVIDIA GTX 1060 Max-Q, or GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU.

Razer has done a fantastic job of taking their best-in-class CNC aluminum chassis and evolving it to keep it fresh. With the 15.6, it’s what you’d expect in a Razer Blade: thin and light. It also boasts some very narrow bezels, at just 4.9 mm, but with the top bezel slightly larger to accommodate the webcam in the correct location. Razer has moved to a clickable touchpad, letting them add a slightly larger one as well, and it ships with Precision drivers. And to fit in with the rest of the thin lineup, the GTX 1060 model is just 16.8 mm thick, while the GTX 1070 is only a half millimeter thicker. Weight is 2.07 – 2.15 kg (4.56 – 4.73 lbs) depending on the specs.

Let’s talk about specs. The Razer Blade 15.6 is shipping with the Intel Core i7-8750H CPU as the only processor option. This offers six cores, twelve threads, and up to 4.1 GHz of turbo. It’s shipping with 16 GB of DDR4, although the system will be...

Not long since the termination of NVIDIA’s ill-fated GeForce Partner Program (GPP), over the weekend ASUS quietly announced via Twitter that the “AREZ” brand is to be retired, indicating that products would fall back under the “Republic of Gamers” umbrella. After NVIDIA announced the GPP in March, AIB partners had begun to rebrand their AMD Radeon cards and seemingly separate them from their established gaming sub-brands, pursuing the general GPP goal of aligning GeForce products to GeForce-exclusive brands. The highest profile example happened to be ASUS, where this corresponded to new AREZ and the established ROG brands – leading AMD to announce its “Freedom of Choice” advertising initiative.

As it originally panned out, ROG STRIX was replaced by AREZ STRIX, and elsewhere it was noted that Gigabyte had dropped “Aorus” and MSI had dropped “Gaming” from Radeon products. To that end, when NVIDIA finally terminated the program at the beginning of the month, the pending dissolution of AREZ was a logical conclusion, though by no means a certain one. By nature, the business dealings between GPU manufacturers and AIB partners/OEMs are largely private, where GPP’s public demise may have little to do with the underlying agreements. And therein lies NVIDIA’s credibility issue with GPP, a program that had the ostensible public goal of...

Adjusting their GeForce GTX 1050 Family info page over the weekend, NVIDIA quietly announced that the expansion of the GeForce 10-series of cards with another entry: the GeForce GTX 1050 3GB. Slotting between the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and original GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB), the GTX 1050 3GB is, despite the name, not actually equal to the original GTX 1050 2GB. Instead it features 768 CUDA cores but on a smaller 96-bit memory bus.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because it is. After launching the GTX 1060 in July 2016, NVIDIA followed up with the GTX 1060 3GB, which featured 1152 CUDA cores to the GTX 1060 6GB’s 1280.

NVIDIA GPU Specification Comparison   GTX 1060 3GB GTX 1050 Ti GTX 1050 3GB GTX 1050 (2GB) GT 1030 GDDR5 CUDA Cores 1152 768 768 640 384 Texture Units 72 48 48 40 24 ROPs 48 32 24? 32 8 Core Clock 1506MHz 1290MHz 1392MHz 1354MHz 1227MHz Boost Clock 1709MHz 1392MHz 1518MHz 1455MHz 1468MHz Memory Clock 8Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 6Gbps GDDR5 Memory Bus Width 192-bit 128-bit 96-bit

Intel and Micron are announcing today that their jointly-developed QLC NAND flash memory is now available, and Micron is now shipping the first solid state drive based on QLC NAND: an enterprise SATA drive branded the 5210 ION series. This will join the TLC-based 5200 family as a lower-cost tier with reduced write performance and endurance.

QLC NAND flash memory stores four bits of data per memory cell, providing a 33% capacity boost over three bit per cell TLC NAND, which is now used in almost all SSDs. The downsides are that QLC NAND has lower write endurance on the order of 1000 program/erase cycles, and lower write performance. Both of these are consequences of the difficulty of discriminating between 16 possible voltage levels within a memory cell, as compared to the 8 voltage levels required to store three bits per cell.

The cost reduction brought by QLC NAND is a much-awaited advance for enterprise storage. Most NAND flash manufacturers have started sampling QLC NAND within the past year, generally built on the same 64-layer 3D NAND processes that current-generation TLC NAND uses. Micron has previously shown wafers of 512Gb 64-layer QLC when announcing the addition of QLC to their roadmap, but today they are also announcing a 1Tb 64L QLC part—the first 1Tb memory chip to hit commercial availability. That 1Tb part is organized as four planes that can be processing I/O commands in parallel, compared to two...

The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming is one of the major Mini-ITX options for Intel's latest Coffee Lake processors. ASUS has a good history of building substantial Mini-ITX offerings, particularly with the ROG Impact line, however it is the Z-series mainstream Mini-ITX models that are the more cost effective option. For this generation, ASUS is combining dual M.2 slots, USB 3.1, EMI shielded audio and Wi-Fi on this small square platform. In this review we put it through its paces.

 

This morning Acer announced that it’s the first PC maker to ship Alexa on its PC lineup, and the company has plans to bring the popular assistant across its lineup of devices. Amazon has broadened the reach of Alexa across many device types over the last couple of years, and while Microsoft has shipped Cortana in Windows 10 since launch, it’s failed to gain much traction outside of the PC.

Acer will leverage Intel’s Smart Sound Technology with an integrated Digital Signal Processor to handle audio, and voice commands. Some models, such as the Acer Spin 5 will offer four digital microphones as well for far-filed voice recognition, while others will only support the more common two microphone setup for near-field.

It remains to be seen whether voice control on the PC is going to be a make or break feature, but the simplicity of voice control for some tasks is undeniable. With the inclusion of Intel Smart Sound Technology, it also brings additional features such as being able to wake a PC that’s in Modern Standby as well, and with the far-field microphone, accessing Alexa on the PC should be the same as using it in your living room or kitchen.

Alexa will be available on the Acer Spin 5 on May 23, and the Spin 3 on May 26, with other models gaining support over the next few weeks.

Source: Acer

Although AMD’s Ryzen desktop APUs released back in February with the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G, official driver support has been limited to the inaugural WHQL launch drivers for quite some time. Finally, late this week AMD has released Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition Q2 2018 WHQL, featuring support for not only the Ryzen desktop APUs but also for the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Originally teased by AMD’s James Prior during his AMA hosted on the AnandTech forums, it also appears that this release is a unified driver for APUs and discrete GPUs.

That being said, AMD is being somewhat inconsistent about whether Adrenalin Q2 2018 is to be considered a unified graphics driver applying to discrete Radeon products. The official release notes and desktop APU drivers index indicate compatibility only with the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. Meanwhile, AMD has offhandedly referred to Q2 2018 package as a unified driver, and users elsewhere have reported successful installation of the driver on other APUs and discrete GPUs; the driver INF file itself shows support for a range of processors, including Carrizo, Polaris, and desktop Vega graphics. And to that end we've had no problem installing it alongside parts like the RX Vega 64.

In any case, an official 18.5.1 release might yet be pending; an Adrenalin Edition 18.5.1 release notes page remains reserved on the AMD site, while an earlier version of the Q2...

After previously being listed in Europe last month, G-Sync HDR monitor listings are finally showing up in the US, answering by far the biggest outstanding question on the new monitors: pricing. As of today, Newegg has started to take pre-orders on Acer’s Predator X27 G-Sync HDR display, listing the monitor at $1,999.99. Meanwhile, Acer has introduced a couple of last-minute changes to the specs of the monitor.

Pre-orders on the highly-anticipated G-Sync HDR-supporting Acer Predator X27 were previously expected to start at the end of this month, but it look like Newegg and Acer have moved things forward a bit. Since the announcement of the monitor and its prototype nearly a year and a half ago at CES, we were given a $2000 ballpark figure for the monitor. However there has been some doubt about that given the nature of the technology, production yields, and what kind of profit margins NVIDIA plus its partners were after. All of which were amped up when the monitor was first listed in Europe last month at the equivalent of about $2500. So with retail US prices at merely $2000, it looks like pricing will be right where we expected it to be at; which is to say that it's very much an ultra-high-end monitor for a niche group of gamers with deep pockets, but also one that stands to greatly exceed anything else currently on the market.

At any rate, in case you were rich enough...

Intel and two Israeli ministries this week announced that the chip giant plans to invest $5 billion in its Kiryat Gat fab complex – Fab 28 – through 2020. Under the plan, Intel is expected to buy various products from local suppliers and hire additional personnel. In return, Israel will provide the processor maker a tax rebate and a government grant. Furthermore, Intel will receive another grant if it upgrades its manufacturing in Israel further.

Under the terms of the investment plan, Intel will invest $5 billion (NIS 18 billion) in its Kiryat Gat ventures until 2020. The chip giant is expected to buy $838 million (NIS 3 billion) worth of local goods and add 250 people to its workforce, reports The Times of Israel citing the Finance Ministry. If the plan is approved by the Israeli authorities, Intel will get a 5% tax rebate till 2027, as well as a $195.5 million (NIS 700 million) government grant. Additionally, if Intel decides to “significantly upgrade” its fab “technologically”, the company will get another $195.5 million grant.

Haaretz newspaper reports that the new $5 billion investment plan focuses on production expansion, but not on manufacturing technology upgrades. This is not be the first announced expansion of Fab 28 in the recent years. Intel took over Micron’s 200-mm fab in Kiryat Gat in 2013 (after transferring its Fab 18 to Numonyx in 2008 and then selling its stake in the company to Micron in 2010),...

HP has announced its new high-end 13.3-inch convertible aimed at demanding consumers, enterprises, and government agencies. The third-generation EliteBook x360 1030 hybrid notebook got more compact yet more powerful and longer lasting than predecessors (at least on paper). Premium models will feature displays with up to 4K Ultra HD resolution as well as up to 700 nits brightness. Furthermore, the convertible has a number of exclusive features, such as a proximity sensor for optional stylus that sends visual and audio alerts if the pen gets too far from the PC.

HP’s EliteBook x360 1030 G3 is the company’s new flagship 13.3-inch convertible that packs virtually all premium technologies that HP has to offer and brings together performance and compactness. From a hardware point of view, the third-gen EliteBook x360 1030 is based on Intel’s 8th Gen Core i5/i7 processors with four cores accompanied by 16 GB of LPDDR3 memory, and a PCIe/NVMe SSD of up to 2 TB capacity (select configs for government agencies use encrypted drives). As for portability, the EliteBook x360 1030 G3 comes in CNC-machined aluminum unibody, it is 15.8 mm thick and weighs 1.25 kilograms, which is thinner and lighter than most popular 13.3-inch convertibles (the only viable competitor for the EB x360 1030 G3 is Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga 3rd Gen and it is still not as portable). In addition to keeping the third-gen EliteBook x360 1030 thin and light, HP also shrunk its LCD...

Driver disks of some sort have been part of a PC enthusiast's life as far back as I can remember. Before Windows included drivers, they all came from media included with the motherboard. I first recall them on floppies then once optical media took hold, moved to CDs. As the number of drivers and included software increased in both quantity and size, it outgrew the capacity of CDs and board partners moved to DVDs offering more capacity and faster read speeds. For example, a board partner's driver disk from a Z370 based board weighs in at 6.57GB on the disk, far eclipsing the capacity of a CD (~700MB) and that of a single-sided DVD (4.7 GB).

To that end, yesterday on Twitter, EVGA’s Global Product Management Director Jacob Freeman announced that in the future, EVGA motherboards will not come with driver disks, but USB Flash which contains all the needed drivers and software. This includes H370 based boards now and others moving forward. Instead of a DVD we are used to seeing, EVGA will include a small 8GB USB flash drive with the EVGA logo printed on it instead. While this isn’t a first (a high-end Asus board in the past included one), it certainly is welcome, if only for the quick installation from USB versus CD/DVD installs. The drive is also re-writeable so it can be used for other purposes as well. 

 

 

Over the past few months, we have seen two makers of video cards laying the groundwork for Mini-ITX graphics adapters based on the Radeon RX Vega GPU. This week PowerColor confirmed that its small form-factor Radeon RX Vega is incoming and will be showcased next month at Computex.

PowerColor’s RX Vega 56 Nano Edition will be based on a PCB that resembles the one used for the Red Dragon RX 56 card introduced in late March. The new graphics adapter will feature four display outputs: three DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0b. As for power connectors, it will have one 8-pin and one 6-pin header.

The board will be outfitted with a dual-slot cooler featuring one large fan and heat pipes. Keeping in mind that AMD’s original Radeon RX Vega 56 with 8 GB of HBM2 memory dissipates up to 210 W and it is doubtful that the aforementioned cooling system can dissipate this amount of thermal energy, it is highly likely that the RX Vega 56 Nano Edition will feature a GPU with a reduced power consumption. Therefore, the main intrigue about the card is how exactly PowerColor and AMD reduced the TDP of the GPU.

Production of AMD’s Radeon RX Vega GPU is in full swing, so expect PowerColor to start sales of the product shortly after its first demonstration at Computex. Pricing of the RX Vega 56 Nano Edition adapter is unknown and given the market situation, it is not a good business...

ASUS has introduced a new version of its ultra-thin 15.6-inch ZenBook Po 15 laptop that offers higher performance than predecessors while retaining a very thin z-height as well as a rather low weight. The notebook features Intel’s latest 8th Generation Core processors with six cores as well as a standalone GPU, a rare combination found in an 18.9-mm thick laptop. To make the PC even more unique, ASUS offers it with a factory-calibrated monitor.

The new ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX550GD comes in ‘Deep Dive Blue’ aluminum unibody with rose gold edges to emphasizes its premium nature and positioning. The top-of-the-range model is based on Intel’s unlocked six-core Core i9-8950HK processor, though it is unclear whether ASUS lets owners of the notebook overclock this chip. Other SKUs are powered by the six-core Core i7-8750H or the quad-core Core i5-8300H processors. The CPU is accompanied by NVIDIA’s discrete GeForce GTX 1050 graphics processor with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory, 8 or 16 GB of DDR4-2400 DRAM, and an SSD with up 1 TB capacity (PCIe 3.0 x4/NVMe). To cool the CPU and the GPU down, ASUS uses a special cooling system featuring three heat pipes and two fans.

High-performance internals and a luxurious chassis are not the only first-class features offered by the ZenBook Pro 15 UX550GD. The manufacturer offers two premium 15.6-inch IPS multi-touch LCD options with the machine. One of the display panels has a 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160)...

StarTech on Thursday announced two new Thunderbolt 3 miniature docking stations that the company made more affordable than existing 4-in-1 docks. The Mini Thunderbolt 3 Docks feature two 4Kp60-capable display outputs, a USB Type-A header, and a Gigabit Ethernet controller.

StarTech’s family of Mini Thunderbolt 3 Docks consists of two models: the TB3DKM2DP with two DisplayPort 1.2 outputs enabled by the TI TPS65983 controller and the TB3DKM2HD with two HDMI 2.0 outputs enabled by the Parade PS176 controller. In addition to display outputs, the mini docks feature one USB 3.0 connector driven by ASMedia’s ASM1042A as well as a GbE header controlled by Intel’s WGI210AT chip.

Unlike higher-end Thunderbolt 3 docking solutions from StarTech and other suppliers like OWC and Promise, the TB3DKM2-series cannot charge notebooks (which means that these laptops will need to use an extra TB3 port for charging). Furthermore, since the mini docks are based on Intel’s Alpine Ridge controllers, they are not compatible with PCs featuring USB Type-C headers.

A clear advantage of StarTech’s Mini Thunderbolt 3 Docks over full-fledged docking stations are their miniature sizes as well as lower prices. Their obvious disadvantages are a limited number of USB-A ports and the lack of a model featuring both DisplayPort and HDMI outputs in the lineup (both limitations are conditioned by BOM and production costs).

StarTech's Mini Thunderbolt 3 Docks at a Glance  

ZOTAC has introduced its new affordable miniature PCs based on Intel’s Gemini Lake platform. Designed for office and media streaming applications, the new ZBOX CI329 Nano are powered by a quad-core SoC, featuring 4Kp60-capable DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0a outputs, and are equipped with two GbE ports.

ZOTAC’s ZBOX CI329 Nano comes in a black enclosure with a rather distinctive look featuring the manufacturer’s renowned honeycomb openings that enable passive cooling of the system’s key component — the Celeron N4100 SoC (four cores, 1.1 – 2.4 GHz, 4 MB cache, UHD Graphics 600 with 12 EUs, 6.5 W). The chip supports H.264 and H.265 hardware decoding and the Clear Video HD tech, making it a viable choice for multimedia enthusiasts looking for a low-power system for streaming. The PC is outfitted with a DDR4 SO-DIMM slot supporting up to 8 GB modules as well as a 2.5-inch bay with a SATA connector for an HDD or an SSD.

When it comes to connectivity, the ZBOX CI329 Nano comes with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5 wireless module, two GbE controllers (particularly important for enterprises), three USB-A 3.0 ports, one USB-C 3.0 header, one USB-A 2.0 connector, one HDMI 2.0a output, a DisplayPort 1.4, a D-Sub port, an SD card reader, and two 3.5-mm audio connectors.

ZOTAC ZBOX CI329 Nano Aspect ZBOX CI329 Nano ZBOX CI329

Biostar has this week released new iMiner systems specifically designed for crypto coin mining. The systems are stuffed with AMD RX 500-series video cards in a "space black" server-like chassis. Biostar positions the iMiner Multi-GPU Mining rigs as "fashionable and easy" along with dapper-looking young gentlemen in the promotional materials who look like they cashed in on the bitcoin bubble already. 

The new devices include an aluminum chassis with a “space black” coating along with all the necessary hardware already inside needed to start mining crypto coins such as ETH, ETC, XMR, and ZEC among others. The iMiner lineup will include Biostar's esoteric mining motherboards - the ones that have 9-12+ PCIe slots for as many GPUs as you can physically fit with riser cables. Also included in the pre-built systems is an Intel CPU with DDR4 RAM, an SSD, a power supply, and exclusive Mining Doctor software. Biostar's intent here is to plug and play these devices to get users up and mining quickly by providing an ecosystem driven off of consumer level parts as opposed to dedicated ASICs. Apparently an expensive suit and a rough shave is part of the culture Biostar is hoping to cultivate.

Biostar has released a total of three iMiners - the A564X12, A578X6, and the A578X8D, each with their own different parts and hash rates. The A564X12 and A578X6, for example, will use the Biostar TB250-BTC Pro motherboard able to support up to 12 video cards through...

HP has announced its third-generation Elite x2 2-in-1 hybrid PCs for enterprise and government clients. The new Elite x2 1013 systems received faster quad-core processors along with a larger display while retaining approximate weight and dimensions when compared to previous-gen convertibles released a year ago.

When HP introduced its first-gen Elite x2 2-in-1 two years ago, the company revealed its “power of a notebook, flexibility of a tablet” design philosophy and has been following it since then. The first-gen Elite x2 was powered by a Skylake-Y ULV SoC and outfitted with as 12.1-inch display. By contrast, HP’s third-gen Elite x2 1013 2-in-1 hybrid computers are based on Intel’s 8th Generation Core processors with two or four cores and are equipped with a larger 13-inch LCD with a 3000×2000 resolution and a 450 bits brightness or a 1920×1280 resolution with a 700 nits brightness as well as HP’s Sure View privacy screen. When it comes to memory and storage, the system features 16 GB of LPDDR3-2133 memory, and a 128 GB – 512 GB SSD (SED or FIPS 140-2 encrypted for models aimed at government agencies). Essentially, HP’s latest Elite x2 2-in-1s offer performance of 13-inch high-performance laptops, but in a modern form-factor.

When it comes to wireless connectivity, the HP Elite x2 1013 G3 is equipped with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth module, and a 4G/LTE modem with GPS. Unlike the previous-gen model, the new Elite x2 does not support WiGig,...

Part of the story behind the Xeon Scalable platform, built upon server-level Skylake processing cores with AVX-512 and a new mesh topology, was that the CPU was designed to be partnered with additional silicon in the same package. Out of the gate immediately were versions bundled with Intel’s OmniPath controller, allowing for networking fabric connections. There has always been expectation that Intel will launch a Xeon Scalable processor with an integrated Intel Altera FPGA on the same package, and now that expectation has become reality. Intel is now shipping its Xeon Gold 6138P processor with a built-in Altera Arria 10 GX 1150 FPGA.

Back at Supercomputing 2016, Intel demonstrated what supposed to be a Broadwell-based Xeon system with a built in FPGA into the same package, however no real details were given and the chip itself was not on display. This year, at Mobile World Congress (of all places), Intel had a demonstration system showing a Xeon Scalable processor with a built in FPGA into the same package, but again the chip was not on display, only a processor that supposedly had the chip in. I was not allowed to use my screwdriver to open the system up. The Intel attendant next to the system was discussing that the platform would help accelerate Edge Computing for data used by 5G networks, although discussions about the finer details of how many SKUs, the size of the FPGA, and other elements were met with a refusal to...

Cooler Master recently announced a partnership with ASUS to produce a new line of TUF Gaming-branded products in collaboration with ASUS’ TUF Gaming initiatives. TUF Gaming is a product series from ASUS that is focused on durable and reliable gaming products. ASUS’ TUF Gaming Alliance, in turn, is a joint effort between Cooler Master, ASUS, and others in order to create a line of products for ‘an aesthetically cohesive gaming PC’.

Cooler Master’s role in this collaboration is to provide select chassis, cooling, and power supply options with three main design concepts: functionality, reliability, and visual consistency. In essence, we are looking at multiple partners rebranding products under a common aesthetic umbrella in order for a PC builder to more easily find and build a themed PC with quality products.

As far as which Cooler Master products will get the new digs, users will see the Masterbox MG500 mid-tower case, the MasterAir MA620P and MA410M heatsinks, and the MasterWatt power supply range in 450W, 550W, 650W, and 750W capacities. These specific components, Cooler Master says, were ‘specifically chosen because of their ability to run your games smoothly and reliably’.

The Masterbox MG500 incorporates the TUF Gaming camouflage/military styling with greyscale camouflage on the top, front, and on the edge-to-edge tempered glass side panel. The other difference is on the inside where the PSU shroud is cut out in order to display the PSU underneath (no doubt a MasterWatt TUF is what they are...