Z97 and Z97M Anniversary Motherboards Announced by ASRock

ASRock has announced its Anniversary Edition of motherboards, the Z97 and Z97M, following the Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258. One of the key features of the aforementioned motherboards is the “Pentium Anniversary Edition” technology, making overclocking easier for users.

The manufacturer is said to have specifically designed the motherboard with overclocking and Intel’s Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258 CPU in mind, being able to access the Pentium Anniversary Boost by hitting “P” when turning the PC on. From there, the feature is said to help the user automatically overclock the CPU from 3.2 GHz to a maximum of 4.2 GHz.

In addition to the overall overclocking feature, ASRock’s Z97 and Z97M Anniversary Edition motherboards are said to provide even more kick out of the Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258 CPU. A clock speed of 4.5 GHz can be easily achieved, having a performance boost of 40%. However, users can also go for the 4.8 GHz limit, where an additional 50% performance boost should be noticeable.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F1MIVXTBgw[/youtube]

Other features present on the motherboards consist of “Super Alloy” technology for the Z97 in order to provide more stability and reliability, along with Intel’s Gigabit LAN and ELNA Audio Caps. The Z97M is said to come with ELNA Audio Caps as well, along with various video outputs, such as D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI, supporting a Triple Monitor configuration.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
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Xbox One Update Brings More GPU Bandwidth and Better Performance Ratios

The Microsoft Xbox One update released this week is said to bring features such as extended hard drive support, Twitter, HBO Go and other social media applications, along with other significant tweaks and updates. According to a tweet from Microsoft’s executive, Phil Spencer, the new Xbox One update surprisingly brings more GPU bandwidth to the Xbox One along with additional features aimed at developers as well.

The continuous dispute between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One performance since their launch last year has not affected Microsoft is any way, having the company telling developers to make the most of its performance. With this performance boost, which is about a 10% increase, Microsoft is apparently giving developers the ability to “choose how they want to utilize the extra GPU performance”.

A statement from a Microsoft representative however might shed some light on how the performance boost is achieved, reading that the update “will include new options for how developers can use the system reserve as well as more flexibility in our natural user interface reserve (voice and gesture).” This might point to the fact that developers should deliberately stop using Kinect and gesture technology in order to further boost game performance.

Whether the boost is achieved by slicing Kinect features or just by improving the drivers, Xbox One users will be happy either way with the performance boost.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

Galaxy Launches 6 GB Variant of its GeForce GTX 780 Hall Of Fame Edition Graphics Card

Galaxy has just launched another NVIDIA variant of GeForce GTX 780 Hall of Fame graphics card, bearing the GF-GTX780-E6GHD/SOC model name, featuring the company’s white PCB signature and performance-oriented cooling solution.

In terms of specifications, the card comes with 6 GB if memory, having the rest be similar to the original Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 HOF Edition released in July last year. The 6 GB variant also comes with a big factory overclock, having the core GPU clocked at 1019 MHz compared to the original variant clocked at 863 MHz and its boost speed capped at 1071 MHz compared to 928 MHz from its predecessor.

The GDDR5 memory apparent has been left untouched, having it clocked at 6008 MHz as the original Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 HOF. Other aspects of the 6 GB GTX 780 HOF variant include the 28 nm GK110 silicon architecture, offering 2,304 CUDA cores, 192 TMUs, 48 ROPs and a 384-bit memory interface. The graphics card also features a 10-phase VRM, drawing power from two 8-pin PCIe power connectors.

The graphics card is said to feature a dual-BIOS configuration as well, having the toggle switch located near the I/O bracket. The card offers four display outputs, having two dual-link DVI, one HDMI and one Display Port configuration, while its cooling solution features a Hybrid Vapor Chamber which directs heat to a large aluminium fin-stack heatsink with the help of four nickel-palter copper heat pipes. The heatsink is then ventilated by a pair of 90mm fans, having the base-plate with heatsink fins cooling the VRM and memory.

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Latest NVIDIA Maxwell Based Graphics Cards Reported To Be Very Power Efficient

News regarding the latest Maxwell chips from NVIDIA show that the GPU is created with mobile and battery optimisations in mind. NVIDIA enjoyed a lot of success with Kepler that grabbed plenty of design wins in the notebook space and eventually it also ended up in the upcoming Tegra K1. The plan is that Maxwell should build on this this success, as Fudzilla reports in its article.

Maxwell is said to scale from 200W+ discrete graphics cards down to 2W to 3W SoC Tegra parts and should offer much better performance per watt compared to Kepler generation. The first card codenamed GM107 should be coming as a desktop part and mobile parts are shortly behind. Mobile versions will reportedly be ready for Intel’s Broadwell notebook refresh that should happen in the second half of 2014.

Tegra based on Maxwell is said to come in 2015 and should offer significant performance boost compared to Tegra K1 SoC parts. Maxwell will also be NVIDIA’s first GPU to be licensed to various SoC makers. The cost of GPU IP in mobile SoCs is relatively low, but licensing might help Nvidia gain more market share and reap the benefits down the road.

Gaming on phones and tablets is rumored to become a lot better and mature, but still games on tablets are years behind next generation console or mainstream PC gaming. Battlefield 4 and Titanfall as well as Call of Duty and similar games would continue to look their best on PCs and next-gen consoles, but older titles are said to find their way to future tablets and make the gaming on tablets and phones a bit better.

To put it plainly, the latest tech for desktops from ten years ago will be considered latest tech for mobile phones today. And to make it even better, the gap between PC and mobile is likely to start closing in rapidly in the future as well.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Netgear R6250 Dual Band Gigabit Smart WiFi Router Review

Introduction


Over the last couple of years the internet has been going through a radical increase in speed and with some connections passing well over the 100Mbps mark, many people are now looking for the next generation of routers that can keep up with the high-speed connections that are on offer. As part of the connection process, every ISP (Internet Service Provider) tends to provide us with their own branded routers such as BT’s ‘Home Hub’ and Virgin’s ‘Super Hub’ (in the case of the two leading Internet providers in the UK); but let’s be honest, whilst they all claim that their wireless router is the better than everyone else’s – they’re not necessarily the best.

When I took a look at Netgear’s R6300 Wireless AC router back towards the start of the year, the performance that I experienced both on the local network and through the internet was far superior to my BT Home Hub that I was provided with – especially when I saw my connection speed to the internet go up by around 5Mbps. This is generally the same story across the board for many people. We are on the whole demanding more from our wireless routers and the ISP provided equipment is not matching our needs, so it is soon being replaced by after-market alternatives that have so much more to offer. Netgear are one such brand that is considered by many. Having been one the of the industries leading infrastructure manufacturers for many years and the consumer level products have been a major part of their business model, with high customer ratings and renowned reliability proving they are one of the best out there.

As the internet has grown to be faster and faster, Netgear have been pushing to come up with a router that not only meets the demands of today’s heavy users, but with features that are ready for the next generation of wireless devices. After many months of R&D (Research and Development), towards the start of this year, a line of dual-band Gigabit wireless was brought to market and the R6300 was one of these.  Delivering super fast, dual band wireless with speeds of up to 1300Mbps across an AC connection it has soon become one of the best routers on the market. The user interface also saw a massive overhaul with all the connectivity and configuration options that the end-user may need – laid out in an intuitive design. Once you top off the package with USB port(s) for connecting printers and storage devices to, enabling them to be accessed across the network or remotely through Netgear’s ReadyShare functions, it becomes apparent that Netgear are offering a little more than your run-of-the-mill router.

Like many routers, Netgear’s package is simple and to the point. With little more than a DC power adaptor and a CAT5e Ethernet cable to connect the router to a modem needed, a simple pack of paperwork rounds off all the bits that you’ll need to get things up and running.

SSD Power: 5 Benefits of Converting to a Solid State Drive

Since the personal computer was invented, it’s been more-or-less relying on the hard disk drive (HDD) to operate. Your hard drive is what lets your system start up, store information and open applications. In recent years, the HDD has seen some competition from the solid state drive (SSD). There are many advantages to SSD computing, and as other technology around it advances, SSD is poised to become the clear preference in how computers are built. Here’s why.

1. Speed

In every conceivable way, SSD is faster than HDD. A computer with an SSD boots in mere seconds and continues to operate with incredible speed and smoothness throughout use. In a world dominated by high-speed Internet and instant communication, slow computer processing stands out more and more. Plain and simple, HDD computing takes time that modern businesses, students and at-home users are willing or able to spend waiting.

2. Lifespan

The biggest overall problem with HDD units is that they have a lot of moving parts. It’s a standard rule of engineering that the more moving parts an object has, the more potential points of failure it has. By contrast, SSD units have no moving parts. This means there’s inherently very little to wear down over time — whether it is due to manufacturing errors or parts knocking loose in accidents. This all amounts to SSDs lasting a lot longer than HDDs.

3. Ongoing Performance

Because of the way HDDs store and process information, they often run out of physical space on the disk to store large programs in a contiguous block. This forces the HDD to store that data in separate places, which leads to pieces getting stuck, also known as “fragmentation.” To keep an HDD in peak performance, users have to go through regular defragmentation processes. SSDs aren’t limited to this physical writing format, so they never have a problem with fragments and their inherent performance issues.

4. Cloud-Friendly

Today’s SSDs tend to have less on-board memory than their far more common HDD counterparts, but in the age of cloud computing there’s not as much value in on-board memory. For users to store and access information through cloud systems, the speed and flexibility of the SSD is preferable to the robust but chunky nature of the HDD.
Note that this does require users to be a bit more vigilant with their data security. But by implementing a proper antivirus, encrypting all Wi-Fi connection and securing USB disks, cloud computing with a SSD beats out the backup-dependent situation of HDD computing.

5. Size

Because of the way they operate, HDDs can only be so small. SSDs are not limited to physical disk space so they can get very light and small. This is especially useful for laptops and other portable devices so users can get the most out of a tiny package.

Despite currently being more expensive (if only because they’re more rare), solid state drives are clearly superior to hard disk drives in every element of function. They’re faster, smaller and more reliable, especially for users who prefer the cloud to on-board storage.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB Graphics Card Review

It’s that time of year again where NVIDIA have a new series of cards in the pipelines and as we have seen running up to today, the number of rumours and leaks that have been flying about are as profound as ever. For some this leads to pure confusion as to what is to be seen and what is complete rubbish, and for people like myself it leads to pure frustration as I know all the true facts and figures, meaning that when I see the rumours and false facts floating around I can do nothing but sit and wait until the NDA lifts to put a number of these claims to rest with the real specifications and performance figures behind the new cards.

So here we have it, the GTX 780 – the first in the new line of Kepler based 700 series cards and before we get too far into the nitty gritty of what’s new in the 700 series, I want to make the following fact clear and true – the GTX 780 CANNOT be flashed in any way to effectively turn it into Titan. There are a number of reasons for this; first off, whilst both cards share the same GK110 core, the 780 has far less CUDA cores, is a different revision of the core chip and has less texture units on-board. On top of this, there is also half the amount of video memory and a number of components in the power region of the PCB are missing as the 780 does not require these as opposed to Titan.

Point out of the way, NVIDIA’s new 700 series cards are here to replace the ever popular 600 series, although they are not a re-hash and re-brand of 6xx cards as some may presume. Whilst the GK110 cores may be featured on both 600 and 700 series cards, they will have subtle variances to them, mainly on the front of CUDA core count and texture filters and so forth.

So what is the 780 in relation to the 600 series cards. Whilst it may look like Titan, it is a slightly lower performing card. Titan is more geared towards users with multiple high resolution displays and thus the higher 6GB of GDDR5 memory that it encompasses. The 780 whilst still home to 3GB of GDDR5 is more aimed at users who are going to be gaming on a single screen at high resolutions with all the settings turned to 11. Over its predecessor, the GTX 680, the 780 has 50% more CUDA cores with a count of 2034, 50% more memory, up to 3GB from 2GB and overall a 34% increase in performance. Interestingly enough, GTX 580 users who upgrade to a 780 will see a whopping 70% gain in performance between the two cards and a 25-30% gain can also be found over AMD’s 7970.

Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC Edition 2GB Graphics Card

There are various areas that a graphics card product can be aimed at, and this includes the budget segment, mid-range and high-end, but we also have to look at the offerings that give fantastic performance for a great price, no matter whether they are the best performer or a run-of-the-mill card. The 650 Ti Boost from Nvidia is aimed at that segment, by wanting to offer up 1080p rich quality with high graphical settings, and still letting the user witness admirable frame rates. In Nvidia’s eyes, the 650 series of cards was planned to be the “gateway” for gamers, as it was meant to allow them to experience 1080p gaming for the first time but sadly there was something lacking and is was the raw compute power of the core.

Recently we saw AMD releasing their 7790 “Bonaire” graphics card to rival the original GTX 650 graphics card, but with a refresh offering more performance and some newer Nvidia technology, that we’ve seen lately applied to the GTX Titan, do Nvidia have the card they originally wanted in their 650 series lineup? The specs seem to suggest that it does with 768 CUDA cores, and a 192-bit memory interface, with our particular review today focussing on a 2GB overclock model. The stock 980MHz base clock gives a 5% increase over the original GTX 650 Ti and we see a higher texture fill rate of 62.7 Gigatexels/sec.

The Asus model we are looking at today however, is an OC edition, meaning that we have an even higher clock that surpasses the reference speeds, and includes their patented DirectCU II cooling solution which has given us some amazing results in the past. Lets see if the new GTX 650 Ti can outperform the AMD Radeon HD 7790 and if adding the new technology and improved performance really does make a difference.

Within the box we find the standard array of included accessories with a speed setup guide, VGA/DVI adapter and twin Molex to 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter. No driver CD came bundled with our sample, but this may not reflect the final retail product, but we would always advise to get the latest drivers from the Nvidia website to stay up-to-date.

Asus Launch New Line of mATX Motherboards to Give Superior HTPC Performance

Asus have today announced a new series of motherboards on both their Intel and AMD lines that are set to take advantage of the more powerful integrated graphics that is now available from both chip manufacturers. Using the 4000 series graphics from Intel’s 22nm chips and the 7000 series on-board graphics from FM2 and A-Series chips over at AMD, all boards now feature HDMI and DVI display outputs to give discrete levels of performance for media centres and HTPCs.

The idea from Asus is that by removing the need to purchase a dedicated GPU for such needs as HTPC builds and fully harnessing the power of the onboard graphics that both AMD and Intel now offer up, the overall cost of building a HTPC can be dramatically reduced.

On top of the new support for each set of on-board graphics, the two sets of boards, namely  the B75M-A, H61M-PLUS, H61M-A/USB3 and H61M-A on the Intel side and the A85XM-A, A55M-A/USB3, A55M-A for AMD, on some models will also see an updated and notably improved USB3.0 performance with USB3.0 boost. This utilises the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASB) to take advantage of the entire bandwidth available to USB3.0 and creates more lanes through which data can be passed. Typically this means speeds of around 10x that of USB2.0 and 1.7x that of typical USB3.0 ports.

On top of the main features, all the boards will now be home to solid capacitors for more efficient and precise power control and with a  lifespan of over 50 years, should see the boards working a lot longer than previous models under typical operating conditions of around 65 degrees Celsius.

There is no current mention on pricing as of yet for the new range of boards, but with the key focus on utilising the on-board graphics, budget HTPC builds are certainly the main focus and we can certainly expect a suitable price tag to go along with this budget mindset.

Given the focus on harnessing the on-board GPUs, we look forward to having a look at some of these boards in the near future and comparing how the on-board graphics for HTPC use compares to using dedicated graphics.

Image courtesy of Asus