Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 Graphics Performance Analysis

Introduction


Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.

DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.

Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.

Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.

Carbon Nanotubes Can Self-Assemble Themselves at a Distance

Nanotechnology is part of a whole new stage of technology, the ability to create microscopic machines that can perform tasks such as replacing torn knee ligaments or as was previously found it could be used to double hard drives space. Part of nanotechnologies problems is that if it is damaged, you are talking about a tiny tear. Self-repairing technology can help with that, enabling machines and devices to not only protect themselves but also repair some of the damage that has been done to them, and researchers at Rice university have taken it a step further by letting carbon nanotubes self-assemble themselves all with just a little remote prompt.

The researchers at Rice university posted a video to YouTube that shows a series of carbon nanotubes gather together and assembles themselves into a wire. Remember when you broke your favourite pair of headphones because part of the cable broke but you could never tell what part? With this technology, you could simply place your headphones in a force field created by a Tesla coil and watch at it repairs itself.

Described by one of the scientists sons as “spider-man webs”, the video clearly shows that this technology could be used in creating self-building/repairing technology, similar to that found in the self-healing gel that Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas showed off a few months ago.

Do AMD Drivers Really Deserve Such a Hostile Reception?

Introduction


AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?

Is the Hardware Competitive?


The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.

NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.

Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.

Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.

Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.

Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.

The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.

Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?


When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.

Have The Drivers Improved?


Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.

The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.

Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.

Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.

However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.

Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?


In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:

“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”

NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:

“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.

GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51

We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”

As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software.  If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.

Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.

On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.

Far Cry Primal Graphics Card Performance Analysis

Introduction


The Far Cry franchise gained notoriety for its impeccable graphical fidelity and enthralling open world environment. As a result, each release is incredibly useful to gauge the current state of graphics hardware and performance across various resolutions. Although, Ubisoft’s reputation has suffered in recent years due to poor optimization on major titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Watch Dogs. This means it’s essential to analyze the PC version in a technical manner and see if it’s really worth supporting with your hard-earned cash!

Far Cry Primal utilizes the Dunia Engine 2 which was deployed on Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. Therefore, I’m not expecting anything revolutionary compared to the previous games. This isn’t necessarily a negative concept though because the amount of detail is staggering and worthy of recognition. Saying that, Far Cry 4 was plagued by intermittent hitching and I really hope this has been resolved. Unlike Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the latest entry has a retail price of $60. According to Ubisoft, this is warranted due to the lengthy campaign and amount on content on offer. Given Ubisoft’s turbulent history with recent releases, it will be fascinating to see how each GPU this generation fares and which brand the game favours at numerous resolutions.

“Far Cry Primal is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016, and it was also released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The game is set in the Stone Age, and revolves around the story of Takkar, who starts off as an unarmed hunter and rises to become the leader of a tribe.” From Wikipedia.

Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The initial unveiling of AMD’s Fury X was eagerly anticipated due to the advent of high bandwidth memory, and potential to revolutionize the size to performance ratio of modern graphics cards. This new form of stackable video RAM provided a glimpse into the future and departure from the current GDDR5 standard. Although, this isn’t going to happen overnight as production costs and sourcing HBM on a mass scale has to be taken into consideration. On another note, JEDEC recently announced GDD5X with memory speeds up to 14 Gbps which helps to enhance non-HBM GPUs while catering to the lower-mid range market. The Fury X and Fury utilizes the first iteration of high bandwidth memory which features a maximum capacity of 4GB.

There’s some discussion regarding the effect of this limitation at high resolutions but I personally haven’t seen it cause a noticeable bottleneck. If anything, the Fury range is capable of outperforming the 980 Ti during 4K benchmarks while it tends to linger behind at lower resolutions. AMD’s flagship opts for a closed-loop liquid cooler to reduce temperatures and minimize operating noise. In theory, you can argue this level of cooling prowess was required to tame the GPU’s core. However, there are some air-cooled variants which allow us to directly compare between each form of heat dissipation.

Clearly, the Fury X’s water cooling apparatus adds a premium and isn’t suitable for certain chassis configurations. To be fair, most modern case layouts can accommodate a CLC graphics card without any problems, but there’s also concerns regarding reliability and the possibility of leaks. That’s why air-cooled alternatives which drop the X branding offer great performance at a more enticing price point. For example, the Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury is around £60 cheaper than the XFX R9 Fury X. This particular card has a factory overclocked core of 1050MHz, and astounding cooling solution. The question is, how does it compare to the Fury X and GTX 980 Ti? Let’s find out!

Specifications:

Packing and Accessories

The Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury comes in a visually appealing box which outlines the Tri-X cooling system, factory overclocked core, and extremely fast memory. I’m really fond of the striking robot front cover and small cut out which provides a sneak peek at the GPU’s colour scheme.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the R9 Fury range and award-winning Tri-X cooling. Furthermore, the packaging outlines information regarding LiquidVR, FreeSync, and other essential AMD features. This is displayed in an easy-to-read manner and helps inform the buyer about the graphics card’s functionality.

In terms of accessories, Sapphire includes a user’s guide, driver disk, Select Club registration code, and relatively thick HDMI cable.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Performance Analysis

Introduction


Rise of the Tomb Raider originally launched on November 10th and received widespread critical acclaim from various press outlets. Unfortunately, the game went under the radar because Fallout 4 released on the same day. This was a strategic error which hindered the game’s sales and prevented consumers from giving it their undivided attention. It’s such a shame because Rise of the Tomb Raider is a technical marvel when you consider the Xbox One’s limited horsepower. Even though it’s not technically an exclusive, PC players had to wait until after the Christmas period to enjoy the latest exploits of everyone’s favourite heroine.

The PC version was created by Nixxes Software who worked on the previous Tomb Raider reboot as well as a number of other graphically diverse PC games. The studio is renowned for creating highly polished and well-optimized PC versions featuring an astonishing level of graphical fidelity. Prior to release, NVIDIA recommended a GTX 970 for the optimal 1080p experience and 980 Ti for 1440P. Since then, there have been some performance patches from the developer and driver updates to help with scaling across various hardware configuration. This means it will be fascinating to see the performance numbers now that the game has matured and gone through a large number of post-release hot fixes.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, which was itself, the second reboot to its series. It was released for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in November 2015 and for Microsoft Windows in January 2016. It is set to release for PlayStation 4 in late 2016.

The game’s storyline follows Lara Croft as she ventures into Siberia in search of the legendary city of Kitezh, whilst battling a paramilitary organization that intends on beating her to the city’s promise of immortality. Presented from a third-person perspective, the game primarily focuses on survival and combat, while the player may also explore its landscape and various optional tombs. Camilla Luddington returns to voice and perform her role as Lara.” From Wikipedia.

So, let’s get to it and see how some of the latest graphics cards on the market hold up with the latest from Crystal Dynamics!

Lexar Releases A Bunch of New Flash Products

Lexar released a bunch of new flash-based products and we naturally also want to update you on these. While HDDs are the go-to medium for NAS and SSDs for the PC systems, we shouldn’t forget about our portable storage and mobile devices.

The drive pictured above is the first of Lexar’s new flash drives and it is actually an SSD, just an external one. We have previously reviewed Lexar’s Professional Workflow SSD in the same form factor and that is compatible with the Workflow drive dock system, and this new Lexar Portable SSD is compatible to that system too despite not being from the Professional Workflow series.

The compact and durable drive reads with up to 450MB/s and writes with up to 245MB/s, making it quick and easy to take your files on the go. The LEDs on the front work as capacity meter and the drive is available as 256GB and 512GB models. Since it’s a full-fledged SSD, the drive supports NTFS, FAT, and exxFAT without any trouble. The Lexar Portable SSD will be available in Q1 2016 with MSRPs of £120.99 (256GB) and £200.99 (512GB), a more than fair price.

The second new Lexar product is the 1800x microSD card with impressive speeds that hold up to even the most demanding tasks. The Lexar 1800x is available as 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models and it leverages Ultra High Speed II (U3 technology) to provide you with the best experience. The card is capable of speeds up to 270MB/s read speeds and is designed for high-speed capture of extended lengths of 4K, 3D, and 1080p full-HD video and high-quality images.

Lexar’s Professional 1800x microSD UHS-II cards are already available with an MSRP of £65.99 (32GB), £109.99 (64GB), and £219.99 (128GB).

The next new Lexar product is quite ingenious. Whether you’ll want to call it a 3-in-1 drive or an Apple Lightning charging cable with built-in flash storage, you’d be right. The JumpDrive C20i is all that and also a USB 3.0 flash drive at the same time, completing the 3-in-1 scenario. The drive can read with up to 95 MB/s and write with up to 20 MB/s for easy expansion of your iPhone or iPad memory. The new JumpDrive C20i flash drive will be available in Q1 of 2016 and have MSRPs of £28.99 (16GB), £39.99 (32GB), £56.99 (64GB), and £79.99 (128GB).

The last new Lexar drive is a little more traditional and it is called the JumpDrive S45. The tiny nano-styled drive is designed for a plug-and-stay setup with its low profile. It is capable of speeds up to 150MB/s reading and 45MB/s writing and be available in capacities up to 128GB. An impressive capacity for a nano-drive. Depending on the capacity, the JumpDrive S45 comes in different colours: Orange, Blue, Teal, and black. Along with the JumpDrive S45, you also get the EncryptStick Lite software for 256-bit AES encryption of your content. The flash drive has MSRPs of £7.99 (16GB), £10.99 (32GB), £18.99 (64GB), and £28.99 (128GB) and will be available in Q1 2016.

AMD Announces Large Price Drop on Radeon R9 Nano

When AMD launched the Radeon R9 Nano mini-ITX graphics card back in September 2015, the card gained a lot of popularity for several reasons. It was one of the smallest graphics cards available and at the same time delivers a punch that is similar to other high-end cards. The performance is thanks to the HBM memory and Fiji GPU while the small size was made possible by the use of optimal clocking of both the GPU and memory for both power consumption and heat. However, the card did have one fault and that was the price. At a price of $649, the AMD R9 Nano was a hard pill to swallow.

It is now January 2016 and it looks like AMD wants a larger cut of the GPU market. Maybe the manufacturing process has caught up and has been refined for cheaper productions costs, or something else. We don’t know why, but that doesn’t matter anyway as long as the result comes in. And it does and AMD announced a price cut from $649 and all the way down to $499. The $150 price cut equals about 23 percent which is quite nice.

There is no doubt that this price cut on the AMD Radeon R9 Nano will convince quite a few people to get this card that previously wanted it but thought it was too expensive. I am sure there will be quite a few more hardcore mITX gaming builds out there this coming time, and most of them will be powered by this little marvel of a graphics card.

After all, the R9 Nano has a peak power draw of 175W and only measures 6-inch while delivering a level of performance that are on par with larger and more power-hungry GPUs. It also blows the GTX 970 Mini-ITX away with up to 30 percent better performance.

Is this enough to convince you to switch to an AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card? $499 is still a respectable price and it might not be in everyone’s budget. Oh, and we should naturally consider that these are the manufacturers suggested retail prices. We have previously seen the cards drop in price at various outlets.

Cooler Master MasterGel Maker Nano Review

Introduction


Cooler Master went quiet for quite some time over the last two years, leaving many in the industry to wonder what was going on. Of course, Cooler Master hadn’t given up on the industry, they were working hard reinventing their entire product line, getting back to their roots and creating the “maker” series of products. We’ve already seen their incredible Master Case chassis, as well as their new gaming mouse, and there’s a huge amount of other products on the way, from headsets, chassis, power supplies, coolers and more.

Today I’ll be taking a look at something a little smaller, but still a very vital component in the building of literally every PC. The Cooler Master MasterGel Maker is the all-new thermal paste that looks set to take on the big boys in the high-performance cooling world and with the likes of Noctua, Gelid and a few others already dominating the market, CM has a hard battle to fight here.

The MakerGen is certainly promising in terms of specifications, at least as exciting as a tube of paste can be, of course. Made with nano-diamond particles, the MasterGel Maker should offer great conductivity, but I guess we’ll find that out in our testing.

“MasterGel Maker is developed for users needing the best thermal conductivity for high performance CPUs, GPUs or even chipsets. The non-curing and non-electrical conductive traits help avoid any short circuiting and provide protection and performance for long-term use. The non-abrasive added Nano Diamond particles allow the MasterGel Maker to be extremely lightweight and easy to spread or remove while avoiding auto-oxidation or erosion overtime.”

Going against the MasterGel Maker today are some of the best-known thermal pastes on the market, including the current top-dogs Gelid GC Extreme, Noctua NT-H1 and the also relatively new but very impressive Thermal Grizzly Kryonaugt.

  • MasterGel Maker
  • Thermal Grizzly Kryonaugt
  • Akasa Pro-Grade 460
  • Noctua NT-H1
  • Gelid GC Extreme
  • Arctic Silver 5
  • EK Ectotherm
  • Artic MX-4

The MasterGel Maker Nano comes nicely packaged with an easy to use syringe, as well as a spreader for easy application.

Even better, the paste comes with a grease cleaner, ensuring that you get a spotless CPU before applying new paste.

First, here’s a quick QA from Cooler Master to tell you a little more about the MasterGel Maker.

Q: Do the nano-diamond particles leave scratches on the cooler base or CPU IHS?

A: No, the particles in the MasterGel Maker are too small to leave any scratches.

Q: Why do I need to clean the CPU before applying the MasterGel Maker?

A: When removing a CPU cooler, the old thermal grease is left over. It needs to be removed to improve thermal conductivity, which leads to lower temperatures.

Q: Do I need to use the plastic brush for spreading the grease?

A: No, but it is recommended. You can also press the CPU cooler on the grease and twist it a bit to make sure it spreads over the IHS.

Q: How many applications does one tube last when using the pea size method?

A: It is difficult to precisely determine the number of uses one tube can have. However, if the amount for each time is very close to ‘pea size,’ users should at least be able to apply the thermal grease over 10 times.

Q: How long can the thermal compound be used once opened, but sealed correctly after use?

A: Every circumstance is different depending on various factors, such as the environment. Usually the thermal grease can be preserved for two years without opening. We highly suggest users keep thermal grease in a dry and clean place, and avoid direct sunshine once opened.

AMD Cutting Graphics Card Prices – Including Fury X, Fury and Nano!

AMD are in a really strong position right now, with a new series of graphics cards that may not have toppled all of the Nvidia flagships, at least not in every test, but it’s certainly put them back on the map in terms of high-end gaming. Their 3xx series of cards are knocking Nvidia down the charts, with better performance and lower prices than their competitor across a wide range of performance brackets, the new Crimson drivers and now it seems the battle is about to heat up even more, as AMD cards are seeing a range of price cuts.

Everything from the 300 series of cards, as well as the new Fury series which feature HBM memory are currently sporting some exciting deals at major retailers. Of course, it won’t be long before Nvidia play a similar price-cut game, but for now, AMD are tempting peoples wallets a little more.

R9 Fury X was originally $649, but that’s down to $589 and even down to $569 after a rebate! The R9 Nano, dropping from $649, down to $569, $549 after rebate. The R9 Fury, $549 down to a very tasty $499.

What about the 300 series? The R9 390X and 390 are down from $429 and $329 to $359 and $259 after a rebate. That’s exceptional value for money giving the performance of these cards! The R9 380 2GB and the 4GB model are down to a wallet friendly $169 and $179, or even lower with rebate at $139 and $159.

Most major retailers are already honouring these new prices, although Newegg and Amazon are currently the best deals I’ve seen, but it’s certainly worth shopping around and who knows, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, maybe we’ll see even lower prices.

Performance Overview: The Last AMD CCC 15.11.1 Beta

Introduction


An unforeseen turn of events has taken place over the last few months. AMD split up its Processor and Graphics divisions and we recently heard the demise of Catalyst Control Centre to make way for Radeon Software. I for one was not expecting to see a graphics driver before the Radeon Software: Crimson Edition was released. Why do I think this? If AMD is struggling as much as turnover figures and rumours suggest, why would it waste effort on something that is being discontinued for a new version. That’s like announcing HBMv2 will be released in January but releasing an entire range of graphics cards on HBMv1 in December. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, far from it, I welcome AMD driver updates because it shows that it is still in the running and recent news suggests that more funding will be invested into the graphics drivers in the future to level the playing field with NVIDIA. Early reports suggest that this new driver and the one just before, 15.11, are very good performance enhancing versions for newer games such as Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, Assassins Creed, etc…

So today we take a look at the very last CCC driver, 15.11.1 Beta. If you are unaware, the naming is simply [Year].[Month]; the additional; “.#” is if there are two or more updates within a month and then it would just be named in chronological order. This makes it extremely easy to understand which is the latest drive to work for you and troubleshooting is technically made easier if you can only remember approximately when you started having problems (if driver related).

This new driver doesn’t really bring anything new in terms of features apart from an updated list of graphics cards that are applicable for higher support Virtual Super Resolution modes such as the R9 380 being able to support 3840×2160.

12K (Triple 4K Monitors) SLI & Crossfire Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Following on from our highly popular ’12K’ (Triple 4K Monitor) Upgrade, we have new graphics cards which we can update the results with. Since the original article, things got a bit hectic and cards were coming and going extremely quickly. This meant that we didn’t have enough time in one sitting to correctly configure and run the tests as the second (or even third) card needed to be sent on to another media. We are now happy to bring you a long-awaited update featuring graphics cards such as the R9 Fury, R9 Nano and SLI GTX 980Ti’s. The list still isn’t complete with gaps such as SLI Titan X and CrossFire R9 Fury, but once we get these cards in for long enough, we will carry out another update.

With 4K monitors becoming the norm in today’s enthusiast gaming set-up, thanks to the ever decreasing price of these monitors and the increasing performance supplied by single cards; it’s not surprising that some users are combining multiple units. Some will have these monitors for the simply epic screen size and productivity potential, others will simply use them for an upgrade to the current surround gaming experience. Personally I don’t like 4K resolution unless it’s on a large screen, anything under 32″ makes the pixels so small they are hard to see and then you would just have to increase the sizes of font, which defeats (some of) the object.

AMD R9 Nano 4GB (HBMv1) CrossFire Review

Introduction


Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossFireX review of the highly anticipated R9 Nano 4GB graphics cards.

The R9 Nano is the third release in the Fiji GPU core range and the third official graphics card to utilise High Bandwidth Memory (HBMv1). We’ve been impressed with the performance of the Fiji range so far with the fully unlocked R9 Fury X providing a good alternative to the NVIDIA GTX 980Ti, the R9 Fury providing a good step up from the R9 390X and the GTX 980 and the R9 Nano being the perfect option for small form factor builds. A single R9 Nano provides the perfect balance of performance, power consumption and mobility, but will combining two still be a worthwhile option?

When we test in CrossFireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock and other variables. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.

Club3D R9 Nano 4GB HBMv1 Graphics Card Review

Introduction


eTeknix has fought hard over the last few months to be able to bring you the Fiji articles that we have, some may have been a little late, but we have managed to get them out to you one way or another. Stock levels of the Fiji core and HBM have been extremely limited, so AMD had to make the tough decision to only allow an severely limited number of media samples and plumb the rest to the consumer market.

So here it is, our R9 Nano article supplied by Club3D. Right up until launch, we covered a lot about the card and something we knew was almost exactly how the card would look. An R9 Fury X copy with a fan instead of a water cooling solution. From there we took guesses at other specifications, would it feature the Fiji core or a cut-down version like in the R9 Fury with my money on the latter due to the massively decreased size and only single fan; I was extremely surprised when I found out that it uses a full Fiji core as found in the R9 Fury X.

Let’s find out how this miniature monster performs in today’s review.

Packaging and accessories

I’m actually really disheartened by this box. If you are paying £500+ for a graphics card, you’d expect at least a little bit more premium quality to the box. It offers everything you could want in a box, but it just feels cheap.

The back of the box has some key features with some images to be more appealing.

Club3D have really cut down on the accessories with this card, just a simple installation leaflet and a driver disc.

ASUS AMD R9 Nano White Edition Spotted

When we first found out about AMD’s limitations for the R9 Nano, one of the biggest questions was how were the various AIB partners going to differentiate their cards. While restrictions were nothing new, AMD has traditionally been more lax. Today, we getting our first glimpse on the ASUS “custom” R9 Nano White Edition.

With major PCB and heatsink changes barred, ASUS has contented themselves with what appears to be a mere color scheme change. With a white colored stock heatsink shroud, we are given the “White Edition” of the R9 Nano. Unfortunately, the PCB is not white though that may change in future models. There are some hints that the PCB is custom but we have no confirmation of that yet. Any changes likely will be targeted towards the coil whine faced by the Nano but the layout of components should still be reference.

Even with the restrictions, the stock R9 Nano PCB and cooler are pretty good. With the addition of the White Edition, it looks like ASUS is trying to appeal for those looking for a white and black theme without having to void their warranties by modding. It will be interesting to see if there is a market for these kinds of models with minor aesthetics changes. In the end, we may be better off served by true custom Nano and Fury X cards.

Light Based Memory Could Replace Your Hard Drive

Mechanical or SSD? This argument has gone on many times in my own and many of my friends minds, the added speed of the SSD or the capacity of an mechanical drive. Both of these drives have their advantages and more than often it comes down to the things you wish to do. If you want to quickly load your game and have your computer awake within seconds it’s an SSD, but if you are storing your family photos and music you tend to care about not spending hundreds for storing something you will only ever access at Christmas or to embarrass someone on their birthday, you want mechanical. The advantage both of these devices have over different memory storage methods is they are ‘non-volatile’, meaning that they don’t require constant power to store the information, although researchers now hope to give you a third option for a super fast, light-based storage device.

Unlike SSD’s or mechanical drives which are limited in speed because of the heat and resistance they generate while being used, the ‘nano-photonic’ chips are not limited and can, therefore, operate at much higher speeds. By using the same material that CD’s and DVD’s use, called GST, the researchers have managed to change the structure of the alloy (comprised of Germanium, Tellurium and Antimony) in such a way that they were able to store 8 bits of data in any one location. Let’s just take that in, at the moment, electronic memory can only store binary information (1’s or 0’s). Meaning that they can store four times as much information in a single space, but it is still far from perfect.

Currently the chips are several sizes larger than the media everyone uses today to store data, but the researchers are hopeful that they could soon have you working on computers up to 100 times faster than your current desktop and no doubt with much greater capacities.

Thank you Engadget for the information and image.

World’s First Smog Filtering Tower Is A Step Forward For Clean Air Tech

An air purifier is considered to be a common household appliance and is certainly not considered to be exciting; a seven metre (22ft) tall smog filtering tower on the other hand could potentially be a revolutionary step forward for clean air technology.

This giant ‘Honey I blew up an appliance’ is situated in The Dutch city of Rotterdam and has been imagined by Bob Ursem, a nano particles expert and Co-designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde. The inner workings allow the skyscraper to “suck in dirty air like a giant vacuum cleaner, Ion technology then filters it, before returning bubbles of smog-free air through the tower’s vents”. The process is very efficient which allows the structure to clean 30,000 cubic metres of air every hour.

Testing in outdoor environments showed the filter was able to clean the air by 60%, to quantify this the measurements accounted for the share of nano particles removed.

The applications behind such a feat could in theory lead to implementations in countries which trade a booming economy for air quality, which is perfectly illustrated by the polluted smog in China where health warnings are a daily occurrence. A startling illustration of the scale of China’s pollution lies in the shutting of hundreds of factories and the removal of 5 million cars from the road in preparation for a parade, which saw the emergence of blue skies instead of dangerous toxic air.

There are limitations however, relying on technology as the sole response to an ever warming and toxic world is foolish, the root causes need to be tackled, which includes a reduction in pollution from manufacturing, transport and an end to the butchery of the Amazon Rainforest.

Furthermore, the filters which have been developed range from €1,600 (£1155.96) to more than €118,000 (£85,251.86), the developers of this tech have not disclosed the exact figure for the tower, but one would have thought it would be very costly.

A fascinating website by the name of the “world air quality index” provides an extensive data set on the levels of air pollution within many parts of the world, if you have a spare moment, it’s worth a look.

Thank you theguardian and waqi for providing us with this information.

AMD R9 Nano Full Cover Water Cooler Released by Aqua Computer

AMD’s Radeon R9 Nano graphics card was only just released upon the market yesterday, and today Aqua Computer are ready to take on pre-orders on their real full cover water block for just that card. You can get some impressive results by replacing the factory-default air cooler on this already efficient mini card with this new water block.

The kryographics R9 NANO full cover water cooler is a true full cover cooler as it covers the entire PCB area. There is already a single-slot bracket available for the R9 Fury X and that will work on this card too, allowing you to make a true single-slot mITX graphics card with a power that hasn’t been seen before. Internal tests by Aqua Computer showed temperatures of just 35 degrees on the GPU (27 degrees water temperature) when running Furmark. Impressive!

We know that the GPU used on the R9 Nano is the same as the one on the R9 Fury X and as such there is a lot of performance to be had, with a few limitation. The GPU is simply clocked into a more efficient area instead of running it to the maximum. So by adding a full cover water block like this to the card, we should be able to almost the same results. There is the limitation of only one PCIe 8-pin power connector, but otherwise you should be free.

The water block will cool the GPU and onboard memory as effective as possible, and the entire VRM area is properly cooled as well, including the regulators. The base is made from electrolytic copper and there are several top versions available as we’re used to from the kryographics series.

Pre-orders for the Kryographics R9 Nano full cover water block can be placed from today and the actual coolers will start to ship the following week.

Why You Won’t Be Seeing Many Reviews of the AMD R9 Nano!

It’s that time of the year again folks, AMD is releasing another top end graphics card that is in seriously short supply and we at eTeknix won’t be getting hold of one, at least not from AMD.

We have previously posted articles that shone a bad light on AMD, this was primarily revolving around the performance figures of the R9 Fury X graphics card. This was down to AMD figures being extremely positive, while leaked benchmarks were painting a different picture. We posted what we saw, but kept an open mind ready for our sample to make the final decision, as we would and often do with many products. In fact, you can read our reviews of the new AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Fury X Crossfire and R9 Fury here. We loved the cards, the architecture, and the new HBM which has so much potential, showing very little memory impact at 4K compared to traditional GDDR5.

The official word from AMD is that the Fiji and HBM are in short supply and every effort is being taken to land the product in the hands of the people who want it, i.e. the consumers. Don’t get me wrong, that’s all well and good, cards need to get to consumers. However, media samples are an important factor for consumers too. Most consumers looking to spend £500+ on an extremely niche graphics card will look for reviews first, find out how it compares and without a good range of reviews from multiple sites, it’s hard for a lot of consumers and our readers to build their trust in a product; it’s not like you can take one for a test drive as you would a car.

We are doing everything in our power to source a sample, but sadly we are extremely unlikely to have an article up for launch, as most tech review sites at this time. However, we’ll update you as soon as the Nano lands in our office ready for an independent review.

AMD Partners Restricted in R9 Nano Modifications

A week after AMD first revealed their new R9 Nano graphics card, we’re receiving more details about partner versions of the card. Unlike the flagship R9 Fury X, the R9 Nano, based off the same Fiji chip, will feature custom solutions. According to the source, the custom cards will arrive sometime in Q4 2015, or within the next 3 months.

Given that Fury X is locked down in terms of custom cards, many were hoping that custom R9 Nanos would allow have allowed full Fiji cards with better VRMs and PCBs, tuned to allow better overclocks. Unfortunately, our information suggests that AMD is restricting any changes to the specifications, only allowing changes to the cooling. This means that overclocking on the Nano will probably be limited by the 8pin connector and VRM solution before running into any thermal issues.

One of the reasons AMD is restricting modifications is they want to keep the TDP and power consumption in check. This is probably due to the heavy marketing that AMD has done for the Nano, with a focus on efficiency and the form factor. Allowing custom solutions that give off too much heat, hurt efficiency and are too large would defeat much of the niche the Nano resides in. Another reason is that AMD probably doesn’t want the Nano to surpass the flagship Fury X, at least not out of the box.

With all this in mind, the R9 Nano shouldn’t be limited by the VRM or PCB in most overclocking scenarios. If custom coolers are able to outperform the stock heatsink, they should offer more overclocking headroom. However, these custom cards would run smack into the Fury X which costs the same as a reference Nano. Partners will need to find a thermal solution that can at least match the Fury X, without being overly larger or more expensive than the stock Nano heatsink to be competitive. While AMD is following the lead of Nvidia in restricting changes to the flagship cards, it remains to be seen if this strategy will pay off.

AMD Releases R9 Nano Graphics Card

It has been rumoured, leaked, and talked about for a while now, the AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card, and all those rumours were correct. AMD has just released the Radeon R9 Nano graphics card and it is a beaut.

I could talk a lot about this card right from the start, but let us start with the specifications instead. I’m sure it is those that interest most folks around here, reading this right now. The AMD Radeon R9 Nano comes with a fully configured Fiji GPU based on the 28nm process, with 4096 stream processors, 64 ROPs, 256 Texture Units, and 64 compute units for a compute performance of 8.19TFLOPs. That is also the same chip configuration as the water-cooled Radeon R9 Fury X uses, but I’ll get more into that later. Being a Fiji GPU, it comes with 4GB HBM memory directly on the GPU. The GPU clock can go up to 1000 MHz and the memory is locked at 500MHz/1.0 Gbps on the 4096-bit memory bus for up to 512GB/s bandwidth.

The AMD Radeon R9 Nano isn’t just a very small card, measuring just about 6-inches in length, it’s also very power efficient and that is its key point. As a comparison, a mITX motherboard is 6.7-inch by 6.7-inch and that is already very small. The Nano is even shorter. It only needs a single 8-pin power connector for its typical board power of 175W. With what we know now, it’s easy to say that this is the most powerful mITX card ever created. One of the reasons the card uses so much less power than the R9 290x for example, besides the optimization for performance per watt, is the lower power consumption of the HBM memory. A 4GB GDDR5 equipped card would consume about 50W where the Nano only requires 8w.

The R9 Nano isn’t targeted as a new solo flagship and not intended to perform as good as the Fury X either, as it is. The performance will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury, but smaller and more efficient as well as with a lot of headroom for aftermarket cooling solutions. Both the memory and the GPU have been set to the absolute sweet spot where you get maximum performance per watt, and that is this cards strength. While you can overclock the card and get roughly 15% more performance, it will come at a power increase of about 50%. If you want it, you can do it. But whether it’s worth it, is another question.

I’ve previously mentioned that the GPU clock goes up to 1000MHz, but you won’t get that far up under typical situations. It will more likely be around 850-900MHz, again to get the best performance per watt. This can be overwritten in the CCC and set manually, so nothing to worry about if you want to run it to the max.

With such a small card and powerful card, there is worry about the cooling. Both the efficiency, thermal throttling, and noise generation. The GPU is allowed all the way up to 85 degrees before any thermal throttling is happening, and it is designed to run no hotter than 75 degrees in normal setups.

In the first instance, the R9 nano will be released as a reference design only, but it will be opened up to AIB partners later on, allowing them to create their own cooling solutions for the card. Speaking of upgrading it, you can also upgrade the shroud with a custom one like on the Fury X, but it won’t be as easy. AMD promised to release the 3D print files, allowing people to create their own shrouds. But it needs to accommodate for the fan that is mounted on it and isn’t just a square plate like it was on the Fury X.

The Nano comes without any DVI connectors and again, for now it’s reference design only. But this will also be opened up to card partners later on, where a few surely will choose to include the legacy connection. For now you get three DisplayPort connectors and one HDMI. The HDMI port isn’t a 2.0, but you can get that type of connection through a DisplayPort adapter if needed.

Being a mITX design, the AMD R9 Nano is intended to be used mainly in compact and portable gaming rigs, but that doesn’t prevent you from using them in any larger one. The card also features bridgeless CrossfireX support with up to four cards. That ability could create some truly sick mods with all new possibilities in custom case placements.

The three photos below illustrate the cooling solution that is used and that is probably one of the things that many previous AMD customers might be worried about. The Radeon 290x reference card wasn’t exactly what you would call silent.

The first part we see is the dedicated VRM direct touch heat sink, something that probably hasn’t been seen on this type of cards before. A stable and cool VRM goes a long way for a graphics card and having the extra heat sink will allow the fan to spin at a much lower speed.

The second part is the actual cooler that features a dual vapor chamber and heat-pipe thermal solution. This combination again allows the fan to spin at a slower speed as it’s required less. AMD put a lot of work into the cooler, and it shows. Effectively this allows the card to be 16dBA quieter than the R9 290X graphics card and comes in on a noise level of 42 dBA. That is the same noise level you’d find in a library.

The third part of the cooling solution is one that easily could be overlooked and it’s the direction of the fins. Most cards have them turned 90 degrees and that’s simply a bad choice. With this design, most of the hot air will be blown out the rear instead of up onto motherboard and CPU area that is located above the graphics card.

AMD also opted for a matte black PCB on this card next to the full metal shroud and brushed aluminium finish. It sure looks great. It wasn’t entirely sure at the press event what speed the fan will spin on, but it should go up to around 2700 RPM.

So to sum up: The AMD R9 Nano uses the same setup as the R9 Fury X, but it is tuned to a more optimal performance per watt and it’s targeted at compact and mobile gaming rigs. You can overclock it to gain more performance, but it will come at a significant extra power requirement. It is not meant to compete with the Fury X but offer a smaller and more efficient variant of the same. The performance, as it is, will be around that of the air-cooled R9 Fury.

What’s left to say, oh yea the pricing. The card won’t be cheap and it will cost about the same as the Fury X with a $649 USD MSRP. I also got a fun fact, the Amazing AMD micro system displayed at the same time as the Fury X was announced actually used two R9 Nano cards in a dual-board layout. So different PCB, but same GPU configuration.

Are you tempted to get one of the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano cards? I know I am, or perhaps two while I’m at it. Here is also a comparison on what is possible. These two systems have the same CPU, the same amount of memory, same graphics power, and same storage abilities. Which would you pick?

 

 

AMD R9 Nano Confirmed to Have Full 4096 Core Fiji at 1000mhz

With AMD virtually confirmed to launch their SFF R9 Nano tomorrow, we’re getting word that the Fiji GPU onboard won’t be cut down. Unlike the R9 Fury, the Nano will be like it’s older R9 Fury X sibling and feature the complete Fiji die. This means that the Nano will have the same 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM as the full fledged Fury X flagship. The Nano may also feature HDMI 2.0 which will allow 4K 60hz for TVs, something the Furys lacks and great for a card that is perfect for high-end HTPC gaming

What is even better news for SFF fans is that the Nano will feature a top speed of 1000Mhz on the core, giving it the potential to nearly match the Fury X. If the card manages to somehow not throttle (ie under water probably), the performance should be pretty much on par with the Fury X, in a much more compact form factor. The card also features the same display setup as it’s Fury siblings, all in a row which can allow for a single expansion card slot under a watercooling. Stock cooling probably is a combination vapor chamber and several heatpipes though we’ll know more once the card arrives.

The biggest question though is how the stock power limits, the 8pin connector, and the heat sink will impact the card. While the 8pin connector in tandem with the PCIe slot should allow plenty of power, the stock power limits may serve to limit the speeds you’ll get at full throttle. Another issue is whether or not the cooling system can keep up with a full Fiji, keeping in mind that AMD went with watercooling for the Fury X which also features full Fiji at similar speeds. Some sources are saying that at full load the card will usually throttle to about 800mhz with the peak speed only being seen in some lighter loads. Noise levels will also be interesting to see. AMD did run into some serious problems with the stock cooling for the R9 290X, leading to heavy throttling. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned.

With a full Fiji core, AMD can’t afford to sell the card too low but it also somehow has to fit in with the Fury siblings. Given that performance should hover around that of the Fury, AMD will have to price the card carefully to ensure that it does sell, but also preventing it from cannibalizing the rest of the lineup too much. With just a day to go, we hope to bring your more information as it arrives.

Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information

AMD Gets Help With Fiji Supply Issues

Despite launching earlier this month, AMD has been suffering from low stocks of their new R9 Fury and Fury X GPUs. In many cases, the cards have sold out quickly, meaning many of those looking to go with the red team have been turned away. In an effort to get ahead of demand, it looks like AMD to turning to more sources to get Through Silicon Vias (TSV).

As we all know, AMD uses a silicon interposer to connect the HBM DRAM stack to the GPU die. In order to connect all three parts together, Through Silicon Vias are required, which is an extra step that is not normally required. While there was speculation that AMD was doing this either with Hynix or TSMC, the more likely solution, as we now know, is to get a third-party silicon fab to handle it, in this case, United Microelectronics Corporation. UMC is producing the silicon interposer that the HBM and GPU die are placed, and that is also going into volume production.

It seems that AMD was a bit premature in launching their Fiji lineup with the critical part still in limited production. With the silicon interposer now in full production, the bottleneck to Hynix or TSMC, helping improve the supply situation. Given that it will take some time for the completed dies to be shipped to AIBs and then sent to retailers, it still be may some time till the R9 Fury and Fury X are fully in stock. Hopefully, AMD’s upcoming R9 Fury Nano will arrive in a much better supply situation.

Latest Apple iPods Not Compatible With Apple Music – Fail!

If you were looking to get one of the newly released Apple iPod Shuffle or Nano to play locally stored music that you got through Apple Music, then you might want to hold off a while. In a twist of irony, it seems that you can’t play this music from Apples own services on their new devices, that is unless you’re going for the also newly released iPod Touch.

Apple’s reason for this move is because the Nano and Shuffle don’t have an internet connection, so Apple can’t check and whether you renewed or canceled your subscription and remove locally stored tracks. Thus, it just won’t allow you to play them at all.

The new iPods were revealed last Wednesday and they are the first iPods released since 2012. The Touch got a healthy bump in speed and the Shuffle and Nano received new available colours.

Apple has downplayed their iPods for a while now and they aren’t easily found on the homepage anymore. It’s only the touch that is left to be found in the top menu and it is sold more as an entry-level iOS device than a music player. Looks more like they’re keeping them in rotation by demand than because they want to and this latest move could very well be a way to force more people over to the more modern devices such as the iPod Touch or even better a brand new iPhone instead.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Chillblast Fusion Nano 960 Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Chillblast gave us a friendly poke to see if we were interested in taking a look at one of their mini-itx gaming range. As I am mainly used to dealing with hulking gaming monsters which are show-pieces never to be moved, I was quite interested to see what offerings are available in terms of portable PCs of tiny small form factor, and finding out if they’re actually worth it or not.

Having a brief look over the spec sheet revealed on paper at least, that this seemed a fairly decent gaming rig, even touting an AIO liquid cooled CPU cooler. We’ve seen plenty of GTX 970s, 980s and even Titan Xs, but we’ve yet to try out the GTX960. Needless to say, we gratefully took Chillblast up on their offer and sure enough a fairly large yet light parcel turned up at eTeknix HQ.

Specifications

  • Name: Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Gaming PC
  • Case: Raijintek Metis Windowed Mini ITX Case – Red – modified
  • Motherboard: Asus Z97I PLUS
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K Devils Canyon overclocked to 4.3GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Corsair H55 all-in-one liquid cooler
  • System Memory: 8GB Corsair/Crucial/Samsung  1600MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 4GB sticks)
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 2.5″ SSHD 1000GB Hybrid SSD / HDD Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): None
  • Graphics card: GTX 960 2GB based on the Maxwell Architecture
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified PSU Modular Version
  • Optical DriveNone
  • Wireless: Asus A/C
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 5 Year Warranty with 2 Years Collect and Return (UK only)
  • Price: £869.99 as configured Delivered.

The outer box, sealed and in perfect condition, a good start!

Inside the outer box amongst a large amount of paper padding on all sides we have a smaller box and a case box.

The much smaller Raijintek case box

In the side box, we have the external magnetic Asus Wi-Fi antennae, extra modular power cables, kettle power lead, PCIE blanking plates, motherboard sound speaker and various manuals and drivers discs.

Removing the rig from its case showed that extra care had been given to the components inside the case, nice.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

R9 Nano to Feature Full Fiji GPU

Something we like about powerful graphics cards is the size and performance; just look at the NVIDIA GTX 970 ITX for example. However, one restriction is huge performance drop compared to the full-size card. AMD looked at this and threw convention out of the window, again.

The R9 Fury X is currently the most powerful graphics card from the Red camp, fighting head on with the NVIDIA Titan X and GTX 980Ti. We’ve recently brought you the story that the R9 Fury will be essentially an air-cooled version of the Fury X with slightly less power, so the air cooler can handle the heat.

We already knew that all of the R9 Fury range will feature the Fiji silicone, with the Fury X and Fury X x2 (dual GPU) both featuring a full-fat versions of the Fiji silicone. The R9 Fury will be slightly cut down by around 10-15%, so it would be correct to assume that the Nano will utilise either the R9 Fury silicone, or an even more cut down version so the even smaller cooling unit can handle the heat.

However, AnandTech have reported that the R9 Nano will feature the full Fiji silicone, making it an extremely formidable graphics card.

What are your thoughts on this? Should the Nano version feature a full silicone or a cut down version like in the R9 Fury? Let us know in the comments.

A Future Where Nano Satellites Beam Information

Satellites provide the earth with the ability to run critical infrastructure which includes Telecommunications, Television Transmissions and even that annoying little Sat Nav who tells you it’s more convenient to take a shortcut through a swamp. But according to Anthony Previte who is CEO of the space company Terran Orbital, Space Satellites could provide all of us with even greater information tools to relay data.

This concept involves multiple constellations of “nano satellites” which are designed to provide small battery-powered sensors with a cheap data connection that never goes down. To explain this idea simply, imagine if every petrol station had a sensor fitted to each pump, if there was a petrol shortage in one part of the country, this information would be relayed to a Satellite and conveyed to the government with the aim of moving fuel around to solve this particular problem

As the internet is expanding even further, more and more industrial equipment is becoming connected to Networks with the aim of managing these operations more cheaply, sorry efficiently, no cheaply. The aim of Nano devices is to orbit 600 Kilometres over the equator, this compares to standard Satellites which fly around 36,000 Kilometres over the equator.

A fascinating concept also lies with the vision of using these sensors in disaster areas which are hard or impossible to be reached by traditional modes of transport. Say there is an oil leak, think Gulf of Mexico; a sensor could be dropped into the ocean via a plane to continually monitor the leak in real-time with the data being beamed to a Nano Satellite in space, the information would then be sent to a centre with the aim of tracking the events in real-time.

This concept has the ability to radically revolutionize the ways in which we are able to gain a clearer picture of events in the world.

Thank You MIT for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Intelsat