Is SpecialTech Being Revived as PC Modders?

To the dismay of many enthusiasts, SpecialTech entered voluntary liquidation back in February. I bought many products from the online shop and they were always at an extremely competitive prices and ultra fast shipping. It seems that on October 6th, SpecialTech Facebook page had changed its name to PC Modders. This change also occurred on the old SpecialTech web store to the new URL www.pcmodders.co.uk, however, the store is closed for now. This change has seemly gone unnoticed until now as a notification popped up when I logged onto Facebook this evening.

It’s still unclear whether this is the previous owner rebranding and starting again with what looks like a hefty stockpile or could this be a new owner that has bought out the struggling company and all stock to bring us PC cooling goodness once again.

We have contacted the previous owner of SpecialTech to clarify our thoughts and the future of the newly branded PC Modders.

When SpecialTech announced the news, it promised to uphold all present orders up to that date to not disappoint any customers. Were all of your orders upheld? Are you excited for the rise of PC Modders? Let us know in the comments.

AMD Radeon 370X Built on Full Pitcairn GPU

Details have emerged about AMD’s upcoming 370X graphics card. This budget-friendly GPU is designed to compete with NVIDIA’s GTX 950 which should arrive in retail stores within the next 2 weeks. According to GPU-Z stills from Expreview, the card will feature 1280 Stream cores and 2GB GDDR5 on a 256-bit interface.

This specification shows the GPU is utilizing AMD’s full Pitcairn graphical processor, which first came on the scene in 2012. Annoyingly, the Subvendor information is obscured, but I would expect the GPU clock to be virtually identical to AMD’s last generation, 270X. Expreview suggests AMD have simply created a BIOS revision and this new card shares the same Device ID as the 270X. This corresponds with AMD’s rebrand plans on lower-tier GPUs.

There is a strange anomaly from the screenshots which I find hard to comprehend. You might notice, the graphics card contains the R9 branding which is usually reserved for higher-end GPUs. Perhaps, the Fury range has made AMD alter their naming scheme and allow for budget cards in the R9 series. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see how AMD’s 370X compares to the GTX 950. While the performance numbers of the GTX 950 are still unknown, it doesn’t take a lot of time to work out the 370x’s gaming performance.

Do you think NVIDIA will begin offering better performing GPUs on a strict budget, or will AMD continue to be the value-orientated proposition?

AMD Makes Surprising Move with R7 370

With the reveal of AMD’s Rx 300 lineup at E3 today, more details about the specifications have been revealed. One of the most surprising moves was the chip AMD chose to power the R7 370. Among all the cards AMD has launched so far, the R7 370 will be the sole member still running GCN 1.0., and has now been twice rebranded. Rebranding is fine but 3 years later, it’s pushing it.

While most of the attention has been focused on Fury, the rest of the Rx 300 series have been rebrands. The most important clue to the 370’s origin is the features or lack thereof the card supports. As expected the up and coming APIs of DirectX® 12, OpenGL® 4.58, Vulkan, Mantle and OpenCL 2.0 are all supported. However, VCE (Video Codec Engine), TrueAudio and the much vaunted FreeSync are all missing. These features are tied to GCN 1.1/1.2, meaning the 370 is GCN 1.0. This point is hammered home by the presence of a Crossfire finger, a requirement that GCN 1.1/1.2 forgoes.

Another point is the branding for the card. With 1024 SPUs (Stream Processing Units) across 16 CUs (Compute Units), the R7 370 is the successor to the 2012 HD 7850 and the R7 265 with a speed bump to 975Mhz core and memory bandwidth improved to 172.2 GB/s. Even with the speed increase, the 370 will likely still be slower than the R9 270 it sounds similar to. Buyers may very well be more fixated on the 370 part of the name rather than the more critical R7/R9. Those thinking the 370 is the successor to the 270 are going to be disappointed.

AMD now has a sizable gap between the R7 370 and the R9 380 in their product line. While an R9 370 to fill in the gap might make sense under AMD’s logic, that will only serve to confuse buyers. With a lack of features the rest of the lineup boasts as well, AMD has made a surprising choice with the R7 370. One good move though is cutting down Bonaire for the 360 which helps diffreniate the cards as the cap between the R7 260X and 265 was sometimes too narrow. Despite all this, these handicaps won’t be too important as long as the price is right.

AMD Officially Announces First Radeon 300 Series Cards

AMD held a rather low-key press event where they officially introduced the world to the first new graphics cards from the Radeon 300 series, both desktop and mobile versions. There was a reason for the lack of focus on the news and as you might have guessed already, it is rather a list of rebrands than actual new cards. OEM manufacturers need new products to move their systems, and rebranding is an easy way to achieve that.

The new mobiles series is called the Radeon M300 and consists of the R9 M375, R7 M360, and R5 M330 cards, for now. It isn’t exactly clear what GPU the cards are using, but the released specifications point to a rebranding of the R9 M270, R7 M260, and R5 M255 cards. They’re using the Graphics Core Next 1.0 feature set which will limit them from newer features.

The new AMD Radeon M300 series has a much higher GPU clock speed than the previous M200 generation, but in return comes with decreased memory bandwidth and just DDR3 and not GDDR5 memory. This is a weird move, but one that could point towards a paired use with an APU rather than standalone. OEM builders are said to be ready with systems featuring these new cards, so we will know more shortly. No word on M380 or better mobile GPUs yet, but expect more of that around Computex.

The desktop versions aren’t much more exciting than the mobile versions, but we are getting introduced to a couple more products. Once again, it appears to be a list of rebrands and mainly intended for OEM manufacturers. This also fits well with HPs accidental R9 380 leak the other day.

AMD introduced a total of seven new OEM desktop GPUs, but the only ones that are worth looking at are the R9 380, R9 370, and R9 360. These three cards are somewhat interesting, but the other four cards are more for systems without an iGPU but that still need some form of display connection: R7 350,  R7 340, R5 340, and R5 330.

The R380 looks like it’s a perfect match with the R9 285 over the entire scale and it is the first time that the Tonga chip gets a rebrand. The R9 270 on the other hand, is a worrying rebrand as it’s the 4th generation of cards to use this chip. It lacks the newer features such as the ability to decode 4K H.264 video files, AMD’s improved power management technology, and support for AMD FreeSync technology. The R9 260 OEM is built around the Bonaire GPU that is a newer generation with GCN 1.1.

We have to keep in mind that these are OEM cards and the retail versions might come with different specifications, but so far this hasn’t impressed. AMD is still holding back with their real new generation of cards, and I for once can’t wait to get my hands on an R9 390 or R9 390x this summer.

Thank you Anandtech for providing us with this information

Galax First New Graphics Card Leaked

Some of the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 9xx series cards that have been leaking this week have been branded Galax, which at first may seem like a new GPU manufacturer, but it is in fact Galaxy acting under a new, if only slightly different name.

Galaxy’s European brand KFA2 are also being renamed Galax as the company looks to unify their brand. This means that we will likely see Galax branded GC and HOF series graphics cards. I really like the KFA2 branded cards, so fingers crossed that Galax will continue their legacy of completely crazy card designs under the Galax brand name.

A Galax GTX 970 card has leaked and appears to feature a GC-style cooler, which you can see below.

Hopefully this also means that company is going to make both Galaxy and KFA2 series cards available in more markets and in greater numbers. If you want a card that still says KFA2 on it, you best be quick, because it’s likely that retailers are already clearing out the old stock to make way for the Galax branded cards.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

MSN Brand Relaunched

While the MSN messenger has taken it’s last breath, MSN as a brand is still alive and kicking. Microsoft has just announced the relaunch of the MSN brand into a more mobile and cloud orientated service. While many, actually probably most of our readers, have used MSN messenger over the years, not everyone knew that it had an attached news side. It has to be said though that it was highly US centric on the news side and rarely relevant for people outside. It probably got the most hits from being Internet Explorers start page.

Microsoft acknowledge that the way we use media has changed and is trying to follow the users with their new layout, a Mobile-first, Cloud-first world as they call it. The new MSN is said to bring together media sources from all around the world along with data and services to enable users to do more in News, Sports, Money, Travel, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, and more. It focuses on the primary digital daily habits in people’s lives and helps them complete tasks across all of their devices. Information and personalized settings are roamed through the cloud to keep users in the know wherever they are.

I don’t know whether it’s cause the Bing name never really got accepted, and kinda sounds silly, or it’s cause MSN always was kind of loved, but it looks like the Bing apps for the above mentioned categories will be renamed into MSN instead, MSN Sports for example. This also goes for the iOS and Android versions of the apps. Microsoft wants to deliver the same experience on any device. It will also integrate direct access to your Office 365, if you use that, and of course also Skype.

The new design is a big improvement over the old, that’s for sure. But whether it will be accepted by the end-users outside of the Microsoft mobile user-base, that’s something only time can tell. The new platform can already be tested at preview.msn.com.

Thank you Microsoft for proving us with this information

Images courtesy of Microsoft.

Microsoft Is Looking To Rebrand Its Web Apps Into ‘Office Online’ Soon

There were rumors about Microsoft rebranding their Office Web Apps suite to Office Online, which does indeed make sense since it is an online service and the name is also not so complicated (for most) as the latter.

According to Ubergizmo, Microsoft has apparently posted the Office Online suite as a comparison product on their “compare” page, which means that the rebraded Office Online suite might be closer to launch. The Office Online suite looks to be next to other Office product offerings from Microsoft, such as Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University.

It looks like Microsoft Online could be the answer to its competitors, such as Google Docs, Spreadsheet, and so on, essentially a free Office environment which can help people build their presentations and documents on a web browser. Microsoft’s Office Web Apps has been available since 2010 but was not so known as Google’s alternative, therefore this might be the way Microsoft attempts to make people more aware of its product and make it easier to work with.

Beside the name change, Microsoft is also changing the name of the apps contained within the suite to make them more Office friendly. Therefore the applications will be rebranded to Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. Also, Microsoft is said to make available a variety of templates to aid customers in their work.

A launch date has not been revealed yet, though Microsoft is likely to release the product soon based on the comparison availability on its website.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

AMD Announces HD 7770 GHz Edition Rebrand, The Radeon R7 250X

While not exactly a new card for AMD, the R7 250X have been officially revealed. The new card, I mean old card, is a the HD 7770 GHz Edition and has been given a new name to bring it back to market to fill the gap between the current R7 250 and the R7 260.

The card is based on the Cape Verde hardware and features 640 stream processors, 40 texture unites, 16 ROPs and a GPU clock speed of 1000MHz. The card will also be available in both 1GB and 2GB formats via a 128-bit bus, although we do not know what type of memory has been used, we can only assume GDDR5 for the 1GB and DDR3 for the 2GB in a bid to keep costs as low as possible.

The R7 250X will hit the market later this week for around $99, putting is in the firing line of the Nvidia GTX 650 and it should give AMD a little bit of a performance lead in this end of the budget market.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Fudzilla.