Asus Maximus VIII Extreme Overclocking Review

Introduction


The Maximus VIII Extreme is the new top of the line socket 1151 board from Asus that just begs to be paired with a 6600K or 6700K for some overclocking goodness. The board was built for overclocking from the ground up and it should be fairly capable in extreme overclocking too. We are going to put it through its paces and see just how fun and powerful this board can be when pushing 6700Ks to the extreme, but first, let’s take a look at the features that will help us achieve the overclocks we desire.

Now we see the Maximus VIII Extreme without the heat-sink in all its black on black glory, the color scheme really looks beautiful. The board is built from the ground up for overclocking and has really gone a bit overboard with the features. The board will take dual 8-pin connectors for power along with the standard 24pin.

Onboard buttons for power, reset, safe boot, MemOK, and a POST led display. There are toggles for disabling DIMM channels as well as toggles for LN2 mode and Slow Mode for extreme overclocking. There are also voltage read points for various different board voltages.

Here we have the dual BIOS chips that are thankfully socketed instead of soldered. Why is that important you may wonder well it is much easier to replace one of these socketed chips by yourself than having to send the whole board into the company for RMA.

The inclusion of the combo PS2 mouse and keyboard is always a welcome sight as it simplifies things and will also reduce the load on the CPU over USB based options while you are overclocking.

For the CPU, the board is using an 8-phase fully digital VRM controlled by ASP1405 (IR based). Mosfets are Infineon BSG0812 (dual N-MOSFET with high + low side in the same package) capable of delivering 50A each. As for the iGPU, it is the same components again, but scaled down to a 4-phase design. DRAM has a dual-phase design with the digital ASP1103 controller.

der8auer Delid Die Mate Coming Soon to Caseking

Today der8auer unveiled his newest device for overclocking, the Delid Die Guard. The device makes removing the lids of CPUs so easy that even my mother could do it. The preferred method of the past has been the vice method for removing lids and unfortunately with the new Skylake CPUs the PCB is so thin people are destroying their expensive CPUs attempting the method.

Because of this, it has become common practice to use a razorblade to remove the lid, though that has its own dangers to users and the CPU. der8auer is a pro overclocker himself and even has mangled a CPU from delidding, so he decided to make a tool that will simplify the process.

The tool is two blocks that clamp together with 6 screws with a CPU placed inside. The compatible CPUs are Skylake, Ivy Bridge, Haswell and Devils Canyon though Broadwell may also work, but he had nothing to test with. After the two parts are clamped together with the CPU inside, turn the screw on the back and it pushes the lid off and you are done. A device that takes headaches and fear of killing a chip out of delidding? Yes Please!


The standard way for delidding Skylake right now involves using a razorblade and can be very dangerous to your fingers and the fragile PCB of the CPU. This is the first 6700K that I delidded and it was pretty anxiety-inducing for sure.

A picture gallery of the Delid Die Mate

 

 

 

Google Hangouts Is Rolling out a New UI and Better Video Quality

Today we found out that Google has announced that they are bringing tweaks to Hangouts. The move is intended to streamline the user interface while at the same time improving the streaming video quality. Users can expect that calls will start faster and stay clearer and crisp throughout the call due to the higher video quality. User controls will be moved down to the middle of the screen at the bottom to give a larger more immersive experience while using the Hangouts app. There will also be a simplified invite system for starting up calls with your family, friends, and business contacts.

The information about the new user experience and improved quality was announced today by Google’s software engineer Eduardo Fernández. Today only a small test group of people will get the update, but over the next few days the update will be rolling out worldwide. Eduardo notes that there is good news for those who hate change, as there will be a setting in the Hangouts menu for “Original version” that will be laid out like what Hangouts currently looks like. This move will definitely be a big win for the users of the app since everyone will love the increased video quality since really, who doesn’t like better video quality? Do you use Google Hangouts or do you prefer Skype or something else?

Apotact Labs Takes ‘Gest Controller’ to Kickstarter

Are you a huge fan of the Nintendo Power Glove and wish that you could use it with your Android or iOS device? Well, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon without some electronics hacking on your part but we did see something that may be almost as good. Apotact Labs has brought its new Gest hand gesture controller to Kickstarter in order to fund the production of the device. At the time of writing, it is currently 130% funded with a delivery date about a year out. The Gest uses 15 sensors in each hand to gather data and then send it over a Bluetooth connection to a connected device.

To gather data, the Gest uses accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers. These may sound very familiar and they should because they are the same type of sensors that you can find in your smartphone or wearables. The ability to interact with different apps by just using your hands is a great idea but far from original so time will tell how well Apotact Labs has done with its implementation. Photoshop integration will be there on day one, but it is yet to be seen if it will actually improve workflow or just be a novelty. From the demonstration seen I think I could breeze through it a lot faster with a mouse and some keyboard shortcuts.

If you are interested in getting one you can still get the $149 early bird special for one controller, be fast as when those are gone the price jumps up to $175.

Quake Live Steam Update Charges $10 and Deletes Player Data!

The popular free-to-play Quake Live first person shooter PC game was launched first as a browser-based game before moving to Steam in 2014. When it moved to Steam it continued to be free but also had a second tier option of a Pro subscription. But today we found out that when gamers went to play the game they love was now $10, with those who had the Pro subscription getting the upgrade free. This is all part of the move to Steamworks that will bring additional features such as Steam stats, achievements, and in-game Steam names. But to the shock of many players previous game data was erased, and for some of these players that’s up to five years worth of playing.

In a Steam community post entitled You have to be kidding me. You killed Quake, this was said: “So my old username is gone, my clans are gone, the match browser is absolutely useless, everything looks all ed up. You absolutely 100%, undeniably just destroyed THE greatest FPS ever created. It is completely ruined. You WILL be giving me my 10 dollars back.”

“In addition to our new Steamworks features, this update is an accumulation of a year of code updates, optimizations, and over 4,500 map fixes,” the developers said. “We hope all players enjoy soaking in our new UI, in-game settings menus, spectating features, UTF-8 text chat, True Type Font support, Workshop, and our Stats API. We have had great pleasure working on this project over the past 8 years, and cannot wait to see what the community comes up with in the many years to come.”

Jonsbo Reveal Sleek New UMX3 Micro-ATX Case

Jonsbo announced that it is releasing the new sleek-looking UMX3 Micro-ATX case. The steel and aluminum case features a minimalistic and clean design that will look great for years to come. The front panel of the case features dual USB 3.0 ports, dual USB 2.0 ports, mic in, headphone out, and a power button.

The case is cooled by a top-mounted  single 140mm fan and a single 120mm rear fan, which would be sufficient enough to accommodate an AIO water cooling setup or even a custom setup. There are two versions that will be available, a windowless version for 119.99 Euro or a smoked acrylic side panel version for 124.99 Euro. The case can accommodate large video cards up to a maximum length of 320mm, and CPU coolers of up to 163mm in height. On the bottom of the case, there is a HDD cage that can contain up to three 2.5 inch drives, and another 2.5 inch or 3.5inch drive can be secured to a bottom plate.

Technical Specifications of the UMX3:

  • Form factor: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Installation options for HDD/SSD: 1 x 3.5 inch, 3 x 2.5 inch or 4 x 2.5 inch
  • Case fan (top): 1 x 140 mm
  • Case fan (rear): 1 x 120 mm (optional)
  • PCI-expansion slots: 4
  • Height: approx. 365 mm
  • Width: approx. 188 mm
  • Depth: approx. 358 mm
  • Material: Aluminum, steel
  • Max. length of VGA cards: 320 mm
  • Max. height of CPU-coolers: 163 mm

UK E-tailers Taken Offline by DDoS Attacks

Yesterday, UK based e-tailers were the apparent victims of a DDoS attack that took Aria Technology, Novatech, and Scan Computers websites offline. Channelweb reported that Aria Taheri, the owner of Aria Technology said that after the business’s website was down for a few hours in the afternoon they received an email demanding a payment of 16.66 Bitcoins (£2,871.43). In the email, it stated that if they did not pay up that the culprits would try to take down the site for the entire Wednesday. Taheri also said that he understands that the problems being experienced by the companies are from the same DDoS attack, and that the other companies had received ransom emails as well.

Elan Raja III, the director of Scan said, “Scan are aware there has been some disruption in traffic and is investigating the cause”. Interestingly enough, today if you are trying to connect to Scan’s website you will notice that it is now protected by CloudFlare DDoS protection.

Back in February 2013 Aria website was hacked but they caught the people responsible by putting up a reward. Now they are hoping that the tactic will work again and are posting up a £15,000 bounty. So if you know who did the attack it is your time to cash in. The day that the culprits are threatening to attack Aria is their “prime day” where low prices normally drive a lot of business on its site. There will be no ransom paid as that will be sending the wrong message to nefarious parties.

Taheri went on to say, “These kinds of attacks are only designed to affect our website and make it inaccessible. However, [our customers’] information is 100 percent secure as we are PCI DSS compliant which is quite a strict web-security protocol. Also, the website unavailability will last for only a short period – a matter of hours – so the customers can always come back at a later time. We are not going to encourage more of these hackers by giving them Bitcoins, because that would only encourage others to come to us and blackmail us more. The message to the hackers is that I will spend a significant amount of money to bring them to justice. Our track record shows that we have done that before, and based on that track record I am fairly confident we can do that [again].”

Misfit Introduces the New Shine 2 Fitness and Sleep Monitor

Misfit is a hardware company that makes wearables that utilize sensors to monitor activity and sleep. Today they announced the Shine 2, the next generation of the award-winning Shine Fitness and Sleep Monitor. Inside the Shine 2’s thinner aircraft grade aluminum body is more advanced hardware than before. This will allow it to more accurately track a user’s activity and sleep with its 3-axis accelerometer and new 3-axis magnetometer. Also improved in the Shine 2 is touch responsiveness, faster syncing, larger Bluetooth range, and more advanced firmware.

Adam Mack, Misfit’s Director of Mechanical Design said,“We’ve packed a lot into Shine 2, adding more functionality into an even thinner form factor with the same battery life. We didn’t compromise on craftsmanship or the user experience.”

The Shine 2 will retain the signature 6-month battery life meaning that this is one wearable that you are not going to be constantly charging every night. It is also water-resistant to 50 meters so you can keep it on when you go swimming, shower, or do the dishes. The Shine 2 will come in Rose Gold and Carbon Black colors that you can purchase from misfit’s website now or locally worldwide in November.

Do you wear a wearable fitness or fitness and sleep tracker? What is it?

Godzilla and King Kong Will Rise Again With a Fight Scheduled For 2020

Today there is great news for fans of Godzilla and King Kong as Legendary and Warner Brothers Pictures announced a trio of new movies and dates for them. First out is Kong: Skull Island which will come out March 10, 2017. Production for the movie will begin on October 19th. Godzilla 2 follows by coming out in 2018, and Godzilla vs. Kong will be in theaters near you only 5 years away in 2020. With Legendary Pictures being attached to the project you can rest assured that they will be putting out some seriously well-done movies.

Kong: Skull Island will star Tom Hiddleston, Sam Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, and Toby Kebbell. The movie will be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts with writing by Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Derek Connolly, and Dan Gilroy. The movie will definitely have some star power other than the super star Kong.

Godzilla 2 will be directed by Gareth Edwards from a script written by Max Borenstein. The film will have Godzilla battling iconic giant monsters from the franchise but no information yet on who they might be. The Godzilla vs. Kong movie is pretty self-explanatory on the plot, they have a showdown.

“Audiences really responded to Godzilla,” stated Legendary CEO Thomas Tull. “Today, I’m excited to reveal that film was only the beginning of an epic new entertainment universe. As a lifelong fan of these characters, I’ve always wanted to see the ultimate showdown, and today we’re pleased to be announcing that and more.”

Thank you Business Wire for providing us with this information.

“Improve Detroit” Cell Phone App Helps Fix More than 10,000 Problems in the City

Any massive city has problems that need addressing that slide by the people in charge. In a city like Detroit, they saw an opportunity to change this. That is how they started thinking about creating a phone app “Improve Detroit”. In April, the app was launched and it residents to directly alert city hall to things like potholes, illegal dump sites, abandoned cars, water main breaks, broken traffic signals, and broken hydrants. So far more than 10,000 problems have been fixed claim city officials.

There have been about 6,500 app downloads since it was released. And the city claims that the app so far has helped

  • Clean more than 3,000 illegal dumping sites
  • Repaired 2,092 potholes
  • Shut off water to 991 abandoned buildings
  • Removed 565 abandoned vehicles
  • Repaired 506 water main breaks
  • Fix 277 traffic signal problems

Mayor Mike Duggan said,“The Improve Detroit app has ushered in a new era of customer service and accountability in city government, It’s never been easier for Detroiters to get their voices heard and their complaints taken care of.”

This is a great concept that many cities should follow since no doubt that it took load off of city halls phones and staff with people calling in these issues every day. One can definitely see that there is a market for app developers to seize this new field.

Thank you Motor City Muchraker for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Huffpost.

FBI Releases Warning of Chip & Sign Credit Card Weakness

The FBI today released a statement today warning consumers that the new chips don’t prevent against online fraud or point of sale compromises (like the Target hack). Apparently the “chip and sign” signature based systems are a point of weakness when compared to “chip and PIN” based systems. They went on to advise merchants to use the “chip and PIN” system whenever possible. This is requested since the PIN based systems fully utilize the security measures that are built into the EMV chip on the card.

Apparently the weakness is already widely known in the industry and this warning from the FBI is just a wake-up call that the US is behind where they should be. Most other major markets have transitioned to “chip and PIN” about ten years ago. Hopefully with this alert from the FBI more of the industry will get with it in the US and work to fully utilize the EMV chip’s benefits.

As a consumer here in the US, I personally haven’t seen any “chip and PIN” systems in my area. It really makes me wonder why all the big fuss about transitioning if nothing new will be done. I would like to have some peace of mind sooner rather than later when it comes to the security of my cards.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Huffpost.

Light Hopes to Replace DSLRs with Their 16-Lens L16 Camera!

The cover has just been taken off of Light’s L16 camera, something that looks pretty crazy but is certainly awesome. Built to be a great camera to replace the need to lug a huge DSLR everywhere the Light team has come up with a L16 to solve the problem of having a great camera that is very portable. The camera has 16 different 13MP camera lens modules that are folded into the body of the camera. It has five 35mm lenses, five 70mm lenses, and six 150mm lenses. This is all in a device that is the size of a large phone. With all these lenses the camera can use some complicated software to put images from each sensor into one photo of up to 52MP size.

In this video Dr. Rajiv Laroia, Light’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer says, “We’re trying to replace a big lens [on a DSLR] with multiple small lenses and small sensors.”

Along with great low light performance the focus and depth of field can also be tweaked after the photo has been taken, right down to f/1.2. The whole camera is running on Android with a 5″ touchscreen and it has built in Wi-Fi. The camera will also be able to shoot 4K video with a 35-150mm equivalent focal length.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Gigabyte GA-X99-SOC Champion Sub-Zero Overclocking Review

Introduction


The GA-X99-SOC Champion is Gigabyte’s overclocking-centric motherboard for the X99 chipset and is the choice of many professional overclockers and benchmarkers around the world. The board has an OC Socket much like the one that Asus’s Rampage V Extreme had when it came out, that allowed for high uncore/cache overclocks. This board with the OC Socket will allow you to achieve much higher uncore/cache speeds than you would get with a “normal” board. This feature will allow the user to really be able to gain some traction with their benchmarks and memory bandwidth. I found in testing that this will make a huge difference in your results, as we all should know, that will be the result of higher uncore/cache. The board handles sub-zero overclocking amazingly and it should, because it was built for it. If you are wanting to put your 2011-v3 CPU under extreme cooling, then this definitely looks like the board to get.

Here we see the GA-X99-SOC Champion without the heat-sink in all its glory, the color scheme or orange and black is retained of the now classic SOC line. The board is built from the ground up for overclocking and has so many features that we will see that accommodates this for the user. The board requires an additional 4 pin (half an 8 pin) in addition to an 8 pin for power along with the standard 24pin.

Onboard buttons for power, reset, and clearing CMOS as well as a POST LED display help you quickly manipulate and diagnose issues. There is a bank of voltage read points for watching your board voltages with a multi-meter as well as toggle switches for the dual-bios feature that will make sure that you are still good to go in case you mess one up. There is also a slow mode switch on there that is useful when running close to the edge since the newer CPU-Z editions have a tendency to crash the system, with a flip of the switch you go down to the lowest frequency available and will be able to take your screenshots without issue.

Here we have the switch that activates the OC Socket. In the bios it will open up a new set of voltages for the user to tune the cache/uncore with after the switch is moved to the 2nd position. Next to it are three additional voltage read points.

One thing that is a great addition to overclocking boards is the inclusion of the PS2 mouse and keyboard ports. It really simplifies things and will also reduce the load on the CPU over USB based options while you are overclocking.

Retail Release of Shovel Knight Is Delayed

The retail release of the successful Shovel Knight game was supposed to be released next week but has been delayed two weeks. Now the date is to be October 30th for Europe and November 3rd for North America. Not only has the game been delayed but the release on the Xbox One has been canceled due to publishing policies.

The developer, Yacht Club Games said in a new blog post “We really gave it our best effort, but unfortunately, because of publishing policies on that platform that are totally beyond our control, we couldn’t make it happen. We’re very sorry…we know there is a lot of interest – the pre-orders were really good and we thank everyone for their support!” They also added that they will keep trying to get the game on the system, but the boxed game for the Xbox One was in indefinite limbo. But hey if you really want it you can get it digitally on the platform.

If you are a Vita fan and waiting for your copy to play in your system then you will also be waiting a bit longer as well. It was revealed that it was delayed until sometime in 2016.

The icing on the cake is that the price has also gone up since they are trying to stay out of the bargain bin placement in retail stores so the price has gone from an initial $19.99(~ £13) to $24.99 (~ £16). They wanted to stay out of that sub $20 bargain bin placement so they adjusted the price a small amount. As it comes with the soundtrack it actually works out to the same price as both the game and soundtrack on Steam.

Thank you Eurogamer for this information

Thank you thegamerscene for the image

Oculus, AMD & Dell Join Forces to Bring You Oculus-Ready PCs

Adding to the long list of Virtual Reality projects that AMD is working on this year, they just announced a unified project between themselves Dell and Oculus. They are aiming to bring consumers Oculus-Ready PCs that have AMD GPUs, and these PCs will start right at $999. This means that Dell and Alienware will join Asus on the Oculus Ready PC program. The recommended GPU for the “full Rift experience” is a R9 290 so it will be interesting to see what actually they are outfitted with when the PCs start to hit the market.

Roy Taylor, corporate vice president, Alliances and Content, of AMD said, “It’s an exciting time to be at the heart of all things Virtual Reality. I’m confident that with Dell and Alienware, we can enable a wide audience of PC users with extraordinary VR capabilities powered by AMD Radeon GPUs.”

There is no doubt that Dell and Alienware will reach a huge audience that will adopt or try VR; it will be easily done just by their market share alone. I can only hope that it will lead to more enthusiasts building higher performance machines of their own after getting a taste of Virtual Reality with an OEM PC.

Thank you TechPowerUp for the information.

Thank you Oculus for the image.

Gigabyte Z97X-SOC (LGA 1150) Sub-Zero Overclocking Review

Introduction


The Z97X- SOC motherboard is Gigabyte’s affordable overclocking-centric Z97 motherboard that is not quite as tricked out as its big brother Z97X-SOC Force. That bigger brother is  geared toward quad-SLI setups with its PLX chip and it also has twice as many phases for the CPU. But with half as many phases just how strong can the Z97X-SOC be? As  I found out in testing this board is no slouch and will hold its own as well as any other under sub-zero even while having the lower phase count. It definitely proved it is more than capable of pushing the limits of the 4790K ES that I had paired it with and was only held back by not being able to go colder than -60C.

The board is designed and built from the ground up for overclocking and features a plethora of overclocking features both physically on the board and features via software and in the BIOS. The board itself features a socket that is 15μ gold plated which is five times the thickness of normal plating. The PCB that the motherboard is built out of is made of high quality 2oz copper PCB that helps it handle high power loads. The Z97X-SOC is one of the results of the evolution of the X58A-OC that started using the hardware controls for increasing the BCLK and Multi ratios. What we get here with the Z97X-SOC is a few generations of refinement and learning by the Gigabyte OC R&D team. It looks like it should be quite capable of overclocking today and I will be taking a look at this with some sub-zero tests and seeing just how useful these features are.

Here you can see the ATX form factor Gigabyte Z97X-SOC in all its glory ( with VRM heatsink removed). The color scheme is something that has been retained from the original X58A-OC board and has been made to stand out from the competition, as well as giving the Gigabyte Overclocking series their own color scheme. As far as overclocking competitions go, you’ll definitely notice when one of these boards is on the bench which adds to the branding for Gigabyte.

A close up of the VRM with the heatsink removed for your viewing pleasure. The overall layout is clean and simple which is ideal for those wanting to take this to the extreme under sub-zero conditions. You’ll also notice the power connectors around the board, with a 4-pin ATX, ATX 12V 2×4 for extra CPU power delivery and a further 6-pin connector below the CPU socket to provide extra auxiliary power to the PCI-Express lanes.

A close up of the OC Touch, OC Ignition, and other hardware-based overclocking features. There are also voltage read points as well as power and reset buttons. These buttons allow you to overclock “on-the-fly” which means that you can fine-tune your overclock while benchmarking without the need for restarting the system and entering the BIOS to tweak your overclock. The voltage points are a vital aspect for anyone overclocking, especially those looking to enter the sub-zero realm of cooling. Other switches and buttons include the ability to disable certain features, such as relevant PCI-Express lanes that are unneeded.

Two front facing USB ports are a bencher’s friend when you don’t have to reach all the way to the back to save those screenshots and scores for uploading for validation.

A view of the dual BIOS chips on the motherboard which allow you to fall back on the other if a problem arises with the BIOS you’ve have been using. It is a nice feature that means you are less likely to need to RMA your board or have a dead board. This can be vitally important if you’re participating in a competition where time is of the essence.

Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200 Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.

Specifications
  • Name: Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200
  • CPU: Intel i5 5200U (2C/4T, 2.2 GHz w/ 2.7 GHz Max Turbo, 14nm, 15W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel® HD Graphics 5500
  • LAN: Realtek RTL8111G 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $364.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Zotac CI321Nano Barebones System Review

 

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.

Specifications
  • Name: ZBOX CI321 nano
  • CPU: Intel Celeron 2961Y (2C/2T, 1.10 GHz, 22nm, 6W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel HD Graphics
  • LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $149.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials that the CI321 comes with

The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.

 

CPU-Z

 

GPU-Z

NASA Patches Curiosity Rover’s Chem Cam from 235 Million Miles Away

As if the people at NASA haven’t been doing enough awesome stuff lately they just did one insanely long distance software upgrade. The Curiosity rover just got the auto-focus of its “Chem Cam” improved with an update while it is wandering around Mars.

In case you forgot Mars is currently 2.53au (astronomical units) away, which translates into 235.1 million miles away. The scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory previously took nine pictures of each sample at a different focus in attempt to get one usable photo. All of those nine pictures of the soil and rocks would be transmitted back to NASA. Now after the update the rover actually still takes the same amount of photos, but now it will self-analyze those nine photos for the one with the best focus. This update that brings about a very useful new feature, as it only comes in at 40 kilobytes. Engadget points out that that is lighter than the last Android Gmail update.

It is great to see NASA continuing to amaze us with the Curiosity rover’s journey across the surface of Mars. The mission to find out if Mars can support life has been very interesting to watch, but they still have so much more work to do.

Thank you Engadget.com for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

No Plans for Flying Mounts in Warlords of Draenor or Beyond

For everyone eagerly waiting to get to the patch that will allow flying mounts in Warlods of your hopes were just dashed! In an interview with Polygon lead designer Ion Hazzikostas made it clear that Blizzard is done with flying mounts, and they will not be in Warlords of Draenor or future expansions or patches.

Polygon was doing an interview that was to be about the upcoming 6.2 patch when Ion Hazzikostas made it clear that I won’t get to use my glider parachute.

Hazzikostas said,”At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We’re not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that’s kind of where we’re at going forward.” He went on further, “Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways. While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what’s in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there.”

So now I no longer need to look at the flying mounts from the Blizzard store.

Thank you pcgamesn.com for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of mmosite.com

Yahoo Labs Finds Filtered Photos Are More Popular

A new paper from Yahoo Labs “Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement” delves into its findings after analyzing 7.6million photos on Flickr. They found that filters boost engagement on Flickr.

Thanks to social photo sharing apps the majority of the photos we seem to see these days on the internet have been filtered. Filtered photos sure have their haters, but love them or hate them they are here to stay. Yahoo Labs found that photos that are filtered are 21% more likely to be viewed than their original and 45% more likely to be commented on.

Yahoo Labs even found that warmer filters boost engagement more than cooler filters. So now you know if you want your photos to be a bit more popular always go for warm filters. They even were able to nail down that casual shooters tend to use heavy filtering while more experienced photographers generally use filters that have a light effect. So the takeaway is if you don’t want to look like a casual photographer you need to use filters that lightly enhance the photos, not change them drastically. It sure is an interesting point, as it wouldn’t have occurred to me that choosing a filter made that much difference to how others give it their attention.

Turris VR Seating and Movement Control and DIY PC Kickstarter Kicks Off

The Praevidi team just launched its first Kickstarter, a VR seating and movement controller that houses a Mini-ITX . The design allows the user to input movement controls with their body while keeping their hands free. The seat also has infinite rotation and with the PC in the seat that means that you won’t be tangling yourself in wires.

The Turris Kickstarter has Turris kits for as low as $475 with an estimated January 2016 delivery date. The video on the Kickstarter page does a great job explaining the concept behind the Turris.

The guys behind the Turris are industry vets and have done design and consulting work for plenty of VR companies like Seebright, Virtuix, AboutFace, and Sixense. The design is really a great concept for keeping untangled in the current wired VR gear, and having another movement input is icing on the cake. The seat has been made to be tuneable for individuals since we are not all the same.

Having known both Simon and Aaron for a few years I took some time to ask them about the Turris.

Simon said “Aaron has been working on seating for 20 years and we began collaborating first on extreme overclocking and then on virtual reality. Together we conceived of the Turris as a systems approach to the ergonomic and motion control challenges of VR. This is a complex piece of hardware that solves many problems at once. And it’s the best excuse to build a VR rig.”

I also spoke with Aaron about the Turris and asked what the biggest engineering challenge was. He said it was finding where the pivots would be for the proper motion of the seat, and that process lead to a tunable design. He also said that one of the biggest challenges going forward is cost reduction to help them bring down the cost of units, making them more affordable to consumers.

The Turris will be American made and will use parts from the US, with a small amount of electronics coming from overseas.

iBuyPower Noctis Intel Z97 Review

Introduction


Once again, it is review time at eTeknix HQ and iBuyPower gives us the chance to test their Noctis Intel Z97. The case is a brand new iBuyPower version of the equally new NZXT Noctus 450. Inside we have an Intel i7 4790K, an EVGA Superclocked GTX 980, 16GB of DDR3 1600, and a 240GB SSD. Cooling the 4790K is a 120mm AIO CPU liquid cooler with two fans in a push-pull configuration. The 4790K has a Turbo frequency up to 4.4GHz, and with the EVGA Superclocked GTX 980 running up to 1505MHz core and 3505MHz memory makes this system well suited for some great gaming performance.

The system was put together using the iBuyPower Z97 system configurator, and parts were chosen to make a system that would make a very capable gaming system while not going overboard and trying to stay budget conscious. I was trying to stay under the $2,000 and what I ended up with was a system that comes out to an affordable $1,530, so lets give it a go and see how it does. I will also look for ways I could improve on the build while still staying within that $2,000 budget that I was aiming for.

Specifications

  • Name: iBuyPower Noctis Intel Z97
  • Case: NZXT Noctis 450 iBuyPower Version – Blue
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H (Socket 1150) DDR3 ATX Motherboard
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 4790K Quad Core Haswell Processor
  • Processor Cooler: 120mm CPU Water Cooler
  • System Memory: 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 8GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: 240GB Kingston V300 SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): None
  • Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB Superclocked
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake SMART SP-650 650W 80PLUS Bronze
  • Optical DriveNone
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: Three Year Standard Warranty
  • Price: $1549 as configured Delivered

The shipping box is immense and will likely need two people to move it unless you are capable of carrying large precarious objects safely.

Inside is the box for the iBuyPower NZXT Noctis 450, well padded with heavy foam that will be great for keeping the systems intact.

Inside the Notcis case box, the original case packaging is used, with closed cell foam keeping it very secure and stable.

The unboxed system is striking with the matte black finish and the blue mesh accents.  The matte finish can pick up fingerprints and dust so keep some cleaner and a microfiber cloth handy if you are picky about that kind of thing. There is a piece of printed paper on the side of the case illustrating how to remove the Instapak foam that keeps the internals of the system secure while shipping.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Firefox Users Can Now Stream Netflix Without a Plugin

Firefox users will no longer be required to download the Microsoft Silverlight plugin if they are wanting to watch Netflix through their browsers. The newest version of Firefox integrates Adobe Content Decryption Module (CDM), which is needed to stream from Netflix on HTML 5.

For a long time now Mozilla has been anti-DRM due to their open-source philosophy, but it seems now they are bending to the demand of users by including the Adobe Content Decryption Module. They haven’t forgotten their roots though as they also have a non-CDM version of Firefox that users can download if they don’t want any additional DRM in their browsers. This may help Firefox gain some users since there are so many who currently stream Netflix through their browsers. It seems like they are wanting to capitalize on part of that user base that wants to move away from Chrome or another browser. There are millions of Netflix users around the world with more customers joining every day so even gaining a small percentage would help grow the Firefox user base.

Now the only problem for users with Netflix is what to watch and how long they will have to wait for the second season of Daredevil to drop so they can binge watch it in one sitting.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Facebook Could Be Hosting News Articles as Soon as Tomorrow

Facebook’s plan of self-hosted editorial content or “Instant Articles” could be going live as soon as tomorrow. The Instant Articles will have articles from The New York Times, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and NBC News.

New York Magazine is reporting that the new feature will be going live tomorrow morning. What has apparently held up the start of the new feature is the New York Times CEO pushing for “the most favorable terms”. This is due to them having more than a million paid digital subscribers and the fact that the Facebook articles will be free to read. The worked out terms allows those publishing articles to keep 100% of the ad money (next to their article) if they sell the ad. If Facebook sells the ad they will be able to keep 70% of the money. This should help the publishers that are concerned about the bottom line when their articles will be accessible for free to the population of Facebook. We will see if the news articles, in fact go live tomorrow morning. If they do not at least we know that it will be very soon now that the compensation details have been worked out with the companies that will be providing the news articles.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Uber Bids $3 Billion for Nokia’s ‘Here Maps’

As Nokia is planning to sell its Here Maps, many companies are eager to get ahold of it for themselves. Uber has bid $3 Billion for Here, which is much less than the $8.1 Billion that Nokia paid for Navteq (original name of Here).

With Here being for sale, there are many companies that want to use the tech for their own projects, as well as the licensing fees that there will be. Uber will want the mapping tech since it is such a core part of its business and it can also cut down what it is paying for mapping tech that they currently use. The mapping may also come in very handy for Uber with their own self-driving car projects. This is the second mapping company that Uber is looking to obtain this year as it bought deCarta earlier in the year.

A few of the long list of other companies that will likely be bidding on Here are Apple, Amazon, Audi AG, BMW AG, Baidu, Facebook, Harman, Mercedes-Benz and Sirius XM. We will soon know who will have won the bidding war as The Times says that Nokia will decide what offer to go with later this month.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of andrewkarenwedding.

Baltimore Police Union Violated GoFundMe Terms of Use

Yesterday the announcement that charges would be brought against the six Baltimore police officers involved in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray was made. Shortly after that the Baltimore Police Union created a Go FundMe page attempting to raise $600,000 “living and legal expenses” of the officers. It was taken down less than 40 minutes later due to the fact that it violated GoFundMe’s terms of use.

Spokesperson for GoFundMe Kelsea Little said “GoFundMe cannot be used to benefit those who are charged with serious violations of the law”.  She continued on that “The campaign clearly stated that the money raised would be used to assist the officers with their legal fees, which is a direct violation of GoFundMe’s terms. Specifically, ‘campaigns in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts’ are not permitted on GoFundMe.” The terms of use will definitely help GoFundMe insulate themselves from this and other PR nightmares.

The Baltimore Police Union will have to seek out alternatives to raising money, which they had already tweeted about doing. There is no doubt that other money raising sites will want to have no part in this particular fundraiser if they would like to steer clear of backlash.

Thank you, The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Newsweek.