ASRock Releases BIOS Update to Fix Skylake Instability Bug

Intel’s Skylake architecture has received a number of negative headlines regarding its high cost compared to the previous generation, flexing with high pressure coolers and most recently, stability issues during heavy workloads. The stability bug predominately revolves around demanding software like Prime95 and caused systems to hang on a regular basis. Thankfully, motherboard vendors including ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and now ASRock have quickly identified the problem and launched BIOS fixes. Here is the original statement from Intel:

“Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th Gen Intel® Core family of products.  This issue only occurs under certain complex workload conditions, like those that may be encountered when running applications like Prime95.  In those cases, the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behavior.  Intel has identified and released a fix and is working with external business partners to get the fix deployed through BIOS.”

As you can see, Prime95 is now completely stable across every ASRock 100-series motherboard, and all you have to do is apply the latest BIOS update. It’s great to see manufacturers release bug fixes so quickly especially when the issue impacts on system stability. Clearly, it’s only a minority of people who use complex workloads such as Prime95. On the other hand, I’d theorize that most Z170 customers overclock their CPU and require stress testing programs to gauge if a certain frequency/voltage combination is stable.

Personally, I’d recommend using AIDA64’s stress test because it appears to have fewer issues with Skylake CPUs. Although, it’s safe enough to run OCCT or Prime95, especially after the BIOS update. It seems Skylake has disappointed users and prices definitely need to come down to respectable levels. In the UK, an i7-6700K can cost upwards of £350, which almost defies belief!

Have you upgraded to Skylake or moved to the X99 platform instead?

How to Flash a BIOS: Graphics Card and Motherboard Edition

Introduction


Flashing a BIOS can seem a daunting process and in some cases, it really is. You have the potential at any moment to completely break the component thanks to any number of causes from power cuts to accidental premature turn off; although the latter only normally happens if your computer is connected to a plug and someone else wants it.

So why are we required to flash the BIOS? Well firstly is system stability, in recent weeks we have seen the release of new graphics cards and motherboards and while the out of the box stability is great, things can only get better. While in the manufacturers testing facilities, they can only test so much. When testing motherboards, there are so many different types of RAM, Processor, Hard Drive, Graphics Card, etc… options available, that the manufacturer would have millions of different possibilities to test; taking up much-needed time. If you think of game testing, there is in-house, Alpha and Beta tests, consider that the early weeks after the launch is the Beta testing period where most of the issues are fixed, but there may still be some remaining.

Secondly, performance. We all want the maximum performance and while when the product is first released it roughly lands within expectations, after weeks or months of consumer testing; there could be a new stable performance level which could be permanently saved through the BIOS. This part impacts both graphics cards and motherboards, so periodically checking for updates could unleash a decent amount of performance.

Updating your BIOS can bring good and bad experiences, if you are updating to a Beta BIOS, you may experience some issues such as instability or even incompatibility with some external hardware; though that is extremely unlikely. Worst case scenario is a power cut or early removal of the flash drive and the BIOS breaks through corrupt file saving. On some motherboards and graphics cards, this can be rectified through a dual BIOS system that can repair the broken BIOS.

Android 5.1 Rolls Out for the Nexus 10

Android 5.1 build LMY47D has arrived via OTA this Saturday for the Nexus 10 tablet, which is not that unexpected since Google released the factory image for the device two weeks ago. Compared to the Android 5.0, Android 5.1 is just 104.4 MB, though it is still best to update the software via Wi-Fi.

It is said that Android 5.1 brings performance enhancements, bug fixes and stability improvements. Those who have installed it have noticed an improvement in how fast the tablet boots up since the Android 5.0.2 update.

Also, to be noted is that the update, being OTA, will be broken down in waves. This means that some users won’t receive the update until after a few days. The best thing to do is keep an eye on your device’s battery and prepare for it to be available in your region.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Just Made Its PhysX Source Code Free

‘Free’ looks like the word everyone is using recently when it comes to technology. After we saw Epic make its Unreal Engine 4 available for free, it now looks like NVIDIA is taking the same approach with its PhysX technology by giving away its source code for free.

While some bits of the PhysX technology were available for free on Windows, the developer now has given the full source code, which means that it will include the PhysX Clothing and PhysX Destruction features.

By having the full source code free and available for anyone out there, developers will be able to take full advantage of this world-class physics effect in their games, as well as speed up the adoption of the technology in future games.

Unreal Engine 4 itself has the Clothing and Destruction technologies integrated into the engine. However, developers can now add the technology in their own game engines, should they choose not to use the UE4 engine.

The aforementioned technology has been seen in titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, Lords of the Fallen, Monster Hunter Online, Daylight, as well as the upcoming title, The Witcher 3.

All PhysX technologies can be found in the NVIDIA GameWorks library, including the latest version of PhysX, namely 3.3.3. It is said that the latter version brings improved stability and performance, along with features such as constrained rigid body dynamics, collision detection, scene queries, character controller, particles, vehicles and much more.

The GameWorks library can be found on GitHub and accessed via the NVIDIA GameWorks Developer Program.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H (Z87) Motherboard Review

As we trundle through the stack of Z87 boards we have for review, we find ourselves picking up the Z87X-UD3H and chucking it onto the test bench, but not before taking a look at what Gigabyte offer with it in terms of design, specifications and added accessories that are bundled in.

Now we’re not expecting too much from the UD3H as it is at the lower-end of the scale but still has some high quality features in terms of SLI/CrossFire support, DualBIOS, USB 3.0 connectivity and even some features aimed at those wishing to dabble in overclocking. Couple the overclocking features with the Ultra Durable technology and sufficient sized heatsinks, and we may be pleasantly surprised by the UD3H and what it has to offer in terms of pushing its connected hardware to the limits.

As with all of our reviews, we will start by taking a look at what is on offer with the Z87X-UD3H before moving on to the board itself and taking a detailed look at all of its features before stepping into the BIOS to see if anything is new and shiny. Once we have all of this out of the way, we can start pushing the hardware to its limits and once a 100% stable ground has been found, we can start benchmarking our whole test suite at the overclocked speeds as well as stock to see how things compare.

Join us as we have a look at the Z87X-UD3H from Gigabyte, as we have a feeling that this board has a few tricks up its sleeve and may be able to keep up with the big boys, and if my sources are right at the time of writing this, it should be very attractively priced as well, meaning that we could have a great contender for an all around board that ticks all the right boxes, but lets not get ahead of ourselves and get into the aesthetics side of things first.

Starting with the packing, we can see that straight away Gigabyte have ditched the white plain boxes which is a nice refresh to see the new design which gives a professional, yet extreme feel to it. Inside we find the usual user guides, installation disc, SLI bridge, SATA data cables, rear I/O panel shield plate and casebadge sticker. No fancy extras, but for a mainstream board, I can’t see that they have missed anything out, can you?