Maximum PC - All Articles en Nvidia Shield Tablet Review <!--paging_filter--><h3>The best gaming tablet in town</h3> <p>Despite its problems, we actually liked <a title="Nvidia Shield review" href="" target="_blank">Nvidia’s original Shield Android gaming handheld</a>. Our biggest issue with it was that it was bulky and heavy. With rumors swirling around about a Shield 2, we were hoping to see a slimmer, lighter design. So consider us initially disappointed when we learned that the next iteration of Shield would just be yet another Android tablet. Yawn, right? The fact of the matter is that the Shield Tablet may be playing in an oversaturated market, but it’s still great at what it sets out to be.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/shield_tablet_shield_controller_war_thunder.jpg" alt="Shield Tablet review" title="Shield Tablet review" width="620" height="343" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The new wireless controller uses Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth for lower latency.</strong></p> <p>At eight inches, the Shield Tablet features a gorgeous 1,900x1,200 display, which shares the same resolution as Google’s flagship <a title="nexus 7 review" href="" target="_blank">Nexus 7</a> tablet. At 13.1 ounces, the Shield Tablet is about three ounces heavier than the Nexus 7 but still a lot lighter than the original’s 1 lb. 4.7 ounces.&nbsp;</p> <p>Part of the weight increase with the Shield Tablet over the Nexus 7 is due to the extra inch that you’re getting from the screen, but also because the Shield Tablet is passively cooled and has an extra thermal shield built inside to dissipate heat. It’s a little heavier than we like, but isn’t likely to cause any wrist problems. On the back of the Shield is an anti-slip surface and a 5MP camera, and on the front of the tablet we have a front-facing 5MP camera and two front-facing speakers. While the speakers are not going to blow away dedicated Bluetooth speakers, they sound excellent for a tablet. In addition to the speakers, the Shield Tablet has a 3.5mm headphone jack up at the top. Other ports include Micro USB, Mini HDMI out, and a MicroSD card slot capable of taking up to 128GB cards. Buttons on the Shield include a volume rocker and a power button which we found to be a little small and shallow for our liking.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/shield_tablet_exploded_view_black_bckgr.jpg" alt="Nvidia Shield Tablet guts" title="Nvidia Shield Tablet guts" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The guts of the Nvidia Shield Tablet</strong></p> <p>All of this is running on the latest version of Android KitKat version 4.4. Nvidia says that it will update the tablet to Android L within a few weeks of Google’s official release. If Nvidia’s original Shield is any indication of how well the company keeps up with OS updates, you should be able to expect to get the latest version of Android but after a couple of weeks if not a months after release. Regardless, the Shield Tablet is running a pretty stock version of Android to begin with the main difference being that Nvidia has pre-loaded the tablet with its Shield Hub, which is a 10-foot UI for you to purchase, download, and launch your games.</p> <p>Arguably the real star of the tablet is Nvidia’s new Tegra K1 mobile superchip. The 2.2GHz quad-core A15 SOC features Nvidia’s Kepler GPU architecture and 192 CUDA cores along with 2GB of low power DDR3. K1 supports many of the graphical features commonplace in GeForce graphics card including tesselation, HDR lighting, Global illumination, subsurface scattering, and more.</p> <p>In our performance benchmarks, the K1 killed it. Up until now, the original Shield’s actively-cooled Tegra 4 is arguably one of the most if not the most powerful Android SOC on the market, but the K1 slaughters it across the board. In Antutu and GeekBench benchmark, we saw modest gains of 12 percent to 23 percent in Shield vs. Shield Tablet action. But in Passmark and GFX Bench’s Trex test, we saw nearly a 50 percent spread, and in 3DMark’s mobile Icestorm Unlimited test, we saw an astounding 90 percent advantage for the Shield Tablet. This is incredible when you consider that the tablet has no fans and a two-watt TDP. Compared to the second-gen Nexus 7 , the Shield Tablet benchmarks anywhere from 77 percent to 250 percent faster. This SOC is smoking fast.</p> <p>In terms of battery life, Nvidia is claiming you’ll get 10 hours watching/surfing the web and about five hours from gaming with its 19.75 Wh battery. This is up 3.75 Wh up from Google’s Nexus 7 equivalent and from our experiential tests, we found those figures to be fairly accurate if not a best case scenario. It will pretty much last you all day, but you'll still want to let it sip juice every night.</p> <p>Of course if you’re going to game with it, you’re going to need Nvidia’s new wireless Shield Controller. Sold separately for $60, the 11.2-ounce Shield Controller maintains the same button layout as the original Shield controller, but feels a lot like a lighter and more comfortable to hold. While most Android game controllers operate over Bluetooth, Nvidia opted to go with Wi-Fi Direct stating that it offers 2x faster response time and more bandwidth. The extra bandwidth allows you to plug in a 3.5mm headphone into the controller and also allows you to link up to four controllers to the device, which is an appreciated feature when you hook up the tablet to your HDTV via the Shield Tablet’s <a title="shield console mode" href="" target="_blank">Console Mode</a>. Other unique features of the controller include capacitive touch buttons for Android’s home, back, and play buttons. There’s also a big green Nvidia button that launches Shield Hub. The controller also has a small triangle shaped clickable touch pad which allows you to navigate your tablet from afar. A quibble we had with it is that we wish the trackpad was more square, to at least mimic the dimensions of the tablet as the triangle shape was a little awkward to interface with. Another problem that we initially had with the controller was that the + volume button stopped working after a while. We contacted Nvidia about this and the company sent us a new unit which did remedy the issue, however. One noticeable missing feature from the controller is rumble support. Nvidia said this was omitted on the original Shield to keep the weight down, however its omission is a little more glaring this time around since there is no screen attached to the device.</p> <p>The controller isn’t the only accessory that you’ll need to purchase separately if you want to tap into the full Shield Tablet experience, however. To effectively game with the tablet, you’ll need the Shield Tablet cover which also acts as a stand. Like most tablets, a magnet in the cover shuts off the Shield Tablet when closed but setting up the cover and getting it to standup is initially pretty confusing. The cover currently only comes in black and while we’re generally not big on marketing aesthetics, it would be nice to have an Nvidia green option to give the whole look a little more pop. We actually think the cover should just be thrown in too, especially considering that the cheapest 16GB model costs $300. On the upside though, you do get Nvidia’s new passive DirectStylus 2 that stows away nicely in the body of the Shield Tablet. Nvidia has pre-installed note writing software and its own Nvidia Dabbler painting program. The nice thing about Dabbler is that it leverages K1’s GPU acceleration so that you can virtually paint and blend colors in real time. There’s also a realistic mode where the “paint” slowly drips down the virtual canvas like it would in real life.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/shield_tablet_shield_controller_trine2_0.jpg" alt="Shield tablet review" title="Shield tablet review" width="620" height="404" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Shield Controller is a lot lighter and less blocky than the original Shield Portable.</strong></p> <p>But that’s probably not why you’re interested in the Shield Tablet. This device first and foremost is a gaming tablet and even comes with a free Android copy of Trine 2. Trine 2 was originally a PC game and it’s made a great transition to the Shield Tablet. While the game was never known to be a polygon pusher, it looks just as good as it ever did on its x86 debut.&nbsp;</p> <p>With gaming as the primary driver for Shield Tablet customers you may wonder why Nvidia didn’t bundle its new controller. The company likely learned from Microsoft’s mistake with Kinect and the Xbox One: Gamers don’t like to spend money and getting the price as low as was likely on Nvidia’s mind. Of course, not everyone may even want a controller with the general lack of support for it in games. Nvidia says there are now around 400 Android titles that support its controller, but that’s only a small percentage of Android games and the straight truth is that the overwhelming majority of these games are garbage.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nvidia is making a push for Android gaming, however. The company worked with Valve to port over Half Life 2 and Portal to the Shield and they look surprisingly fantastic and are easily the two prettiest games on Android at the moment. Whether Android will ever become a legitimate platform for hardcore gaming is as good as anyone’s guess, but at least the Shield Tablet will net you a great front seat if the time ever arises.</p> <p>Luckily you won’t have to rely solely on the Google Play store to get your gaming fix. Emulators run just as well here as they did on the original Shield and this iteration of Shield is also compatible with Gamestream, which is Nvidia’s streaming technology that allows you to stream games from your PC to your Shield. Gamestream, in theory, lets you play your controller-enabled PC games on a Shield. &nbsp;</p> <p>At this point, Nvidia says Gamestream supports more than 100 games such as Batman: Arkham Origins and Titanfall from EA’s Origin and Valve’s Steam service. The problem though is there are hundreds more games on Steam and Origin that support controllers but not the Shield Tablet’s controller. For example, Final Fantasy VII, a game which we couldn’t get working with the original Shield still isn't supported even though it works with an Xbox controller on the PC. When Gamestream does work, however, it’s relatively lag-free and kind of wonderful. The one caveat here is that you’ll have to get a 5GHz dual-band router to effectively get it working.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nvidia Shield Video Demo</strong></p> <p>Would we buy the Shield Tablet if we owned the original Shield (now renamed the Shield Portable)? Probably not. If we were looking for a new tablet and top notch gaming performance was on the check list, the Shield Tablet is easily the top contender today. We’d take it over the second-gen Nexus 7 in a heart beat. While we understand why Nvidia decided to separate the cover and controller to keep the prices down and avoid the Kinect factor, we think a bundled package with a small price break as an alternative would have been nice. All things considered though, consider us surprised. The Shield Tablet is pretty dang cool.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>$300</strong></p> android Google Hardware KitKat maximum pc nvidia portable Review shield tablet wireless controller News Reviews Tablets Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:36:57 +0000 Jimmy Thang 28263 at Nvidia GeForce 340.52 WHQL Sit Just a Few Clicks Away <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/geforce_1.jpg" alt="GeForce" title="GeForce" width="228" height="198" style="float: right;" />Latest GeForce drivers add a bunch of SLI profiles</h3> <p>Attention GeForce graphics card owners -- <strong>you can now download new GeForce 340.52 WHQL drivers</strong> from Nvidia's website, or update automatically through GeForce Experience. Either way, new drivers are available, and with them, you can take advantage of GameStream technology to stream PC games to the new Shield tablet, which launches today to e-tailers and retailers, Nvidia says.</p> <p>That's really the big reason for the new drivers, though if you're running multiple GPUs in SLI, you'll potentially benefit from a number of SLI profiles that have been added. Specific to the 340.52 release are profiles for Battlefield: Hardline, Dark Souls II, 3DMark SkyDriver Subtest, Divinity: Original Sin, Elder Scrolls Online, GRID Autosport, LuDaShi Benchmark, and WildStar.</p> <p>There are also some new 3D Vision profiles for stereoscopic 3D gamers. They include Banished, BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, and Krater.</p> <p>You can out more in the <a href="" target="_blank">Release Notes (PDF)</a> and can download the new drivers <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Drivers Gaming geforce 340.52 nvidia Software News Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:01:52 +0000 Paul Lilly 28262 at Microsoft's Sharks Cove Mini PC Now Available to Pre-Order <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/sharks_cove.jpg" alt="Sharks Cove" title="Sharks Cove" width="228" height="166" style="float: right;" />Sharks Cove is ready swim in mini PC waters</h3> <p>Watch out Raspberry Pi, you're now swimming in Shark infested waters, or at least you soon will be. For those interested, <strong>Microsoft's Sharks Cove development board is now available to pre-order</strong>. A U.K. vendor has it listed for £192.99, or just a little shy of $330 in U.S. dollars. That's quite a bit more expensive than Raspberry Pi, though it's also more fully featured, hence the higher price tag.</p> <p>Sharks Cove sports a x86-based Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor clocked at 1.33GHz (1.83GHz Burst) with 2MB of L2 cache, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC flash storage, HDMI connector, and a memory card reader. The actual board measures just 6 inches by 4 inches.</p> <p>Microsoft's banking on the added horsepower being incentive to spend a premium on Sharks Cove versus a much less expensive Raspberry Pi. It also comes with a Windows 8.1 image and the utilities necessary to apply to Sharks Cove. According to Microsoft, Sharks Cove is ultimately intended to facilitate development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run Windows, such as phones, tablets, and similar System-on-Chip (SoC) platforms.</p> <p>"When you additionally consider that the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 can pair with Visual Studio Express and are both free with a valid MSDN account, the initial outlay for Windows driver developers is a lot less cost prohibitive than it once was," <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft says</a>.</p> <p>Microsoft said it plans to post articles related to Sharks Cove in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, you can check out <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, a site dedicated to the development board. And if you want to pre-order one, just head over to the <a href="" target="_blank">Mouse Electronics</a> website.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Hardware mini pc pre-order sharks cove News Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:12:03 +0000 Paul Lilly 28261 at Acer Owns the U.S. Retail Monitor Market <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/acer_monitor_3.jpg" alt="Acer Monitor" title="Acer Monitor" width="228" height="196" style="float: right;" />Nearly half of all touchscreen monitors shipped last year donned an Acer label</h3> <p>Time and again, we see examples of where lower priced gadgets rule the day. We saw it when Amazon stormed the Android tablet market with its smaller size, lower cost Kindle Fire (compared to what was available at the time), and we're seeing it again in the monitor market. According to the latest data from NPD Group, <strong>Acer is selling more monitors in the U.S. than any other player</strong>.</p> <p>Acer's share of the overall monitor market during the first half of this year has bounced between 18 percent to 20 percent, which qualifies the company for pole position. In the touchscreen monitor segment, Acer slammed the competition by remaining the top maker for the entire year (from July 2013 to June 2014), reaching a high in market share of 46.4 percent in May.</p> <p>It will be interesting to see if Acer can hold onto its lead once 4K monitors grow up a little bit and become more affordable. The company's off to a good start, having <a href="" target="_blank">announced back in May</a> the first 4K monitor to support Nvidia's G-Sync technology, the XB280HK.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Acer display Hardware monitor NPD Group News Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:45:11 +0000 Paul Lilly 28260 at Intel Lifts the Lid Off Upcoming Core i7 5960X Haswell-E Processor <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/delidded_haswell-e.jpg" alt="Delidded Haswell-E" title="Delidded Haswell-E" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Intel soldered the CPU die to the integrated heat spreader</h3> <p><strong>A picture making the rounds on the web shows what Intel's upcoming Core i7 5960X Haswell-E processor will look like</strong> if you have the nerve to pry off the integrated heat spreader (IHS). If you look close, you can see that beneath the adhesive layer that secures the IHS to the package is soldering from where Intel soldered the CPU die to the IHS with a strong epoxy. If you're an overclocker or otherwise concerned with temps, this a good sight to see.</p> <p>Soldering the CPU die to the IHS offers better heat conductivity than filling the gap with thermal interface material (TIM), the latter of which is the route Intel took with its Core i7 3770K, 4770K,a nd 4790K processors, according to the folks at <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a>.</p> <p>While not game changing by any means, this is simply another reason to look forward to Haswell-E. Expected to launch this September, Haswell-E will coincide with Intel's X99 Express chipset and offer support DDR4 memory support.</p> <p>As for the stripped down Core i7 5960X on display, earlier rumors suggest it will rock 8 cores, 16 threads, a 3GHz to 3.3GHz (Turbo Boost) clockspeed, 20MB of L3 cache, and a 140W TDP.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Build a PC core i7 5960x cpu Hardware haswell-e intel overclocking processor News Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:21:29 +0000 Paul Lilly 28259 at Thermaltake Launches High End Water 3.0 Ultimate All-in-One Liquid Cooling System <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/thermaltake_water_3.jpg" alt="Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate" title="Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate" width="228" height="155" style="float: right;" />All-in-one kit with a 360mm radiator</h3> <p><strong>Thermaltake this week added a new self-contained liquid cooling kit to its lineup, the Water 3.0 Ultimate</strong>. It sports a large 360mm radiator with three "Triple Curve" 120 PWM fans that spin at 1,000 RPM to 2,000 RPM. If that's not enough for your overclocking efforts, Thermaltake says the large radiator supports three additional fans, bringing the potential total to half a dozen 120mm fans.</p> <p>This is Thermaltake's flagship all-in-one LCS, which stands above the Water 3.0 Extreme, Performance, and Pro kits. To give an example of its performance, Thermaltake compared the temps of its Ultimate kit versus Intel's stock cooler for a Core i7 975 running at 4GHz and 100 percent load. Intel's cooler maintained 94C, while the Ultimate held steady at 69C in Thermaltake's own tests.</p> <p>Unfortunately, Thermaltake only provides a <a href="" target="_blank">few specifics</a> about the kit -- the water block consists of a copper base plate, while the rubber tubing going to and from it measures 326mm. The pump's motor speed is 3600 RPM, give or take 150 RPM.</p> <p>No word yet on when the <a href="" target="_blank">Water 3.0 Ultimate</a> will be available or for how much.</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Hardware liquid cooling Peripherals thermaltake water 3.0 News Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:05:20 +0000 Paul Lilly 28258 at Newegg Daily Deals: Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-Bit (Full Version), PNY XLR8 240GB SSD, and More! <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/intel_core_i5_4670k.jpg" alt="Intel Core i5 4670K" title="Intel Core i5 4670K" width="300" height="262" style="float: right;" /><img src="/files/u154082/newegg_logo_small.png" alt="newegg logo" title="newegg logo" width="200" height="80" /></p> <p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p> <p>Young or old, there are multiple examples of where going pro works out for the best. Look at LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, both of which decided to go pro right out of high school. And Brett Favre found some measure of success by remaining a pro in his 40s. Have you been thinking about going pro? We can't help on the sports side of the equation, but if it's a new copy of Windows you need, you can go Pro with today's top deal -- <a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-OTHER-N82E16832416552-_-0729&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-bit (Full Version) OEM</a> for <strong>$100</strong> with free shipping (normally $140 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCPCHE56</strong>]). It's eligible for a free update to Windows 8.1 and comes with features like Remote Desktop, Data BitLocker, Network Domain Join, and Client Hyper-V.</p> <p><strong>Other Deals:</strong></p> <p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CPU-N82E16819113364-_-0729&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini Quad-Core 2.05GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD 8400</a> for <strong>$58</strong> with free shipping (normally $65 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCPCHE25</strong>])</p> <p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-SSD-N82E16820178456-_-0729&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">PNY XLR8 2.5-inch 240GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)</a> for <strong>$100</strong> with free shipping (normally $110; additional $10 Mail-in Rebate)</p> <p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-RAM-N82E16820231429-_-0729&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory</a> for <strong>$149</strong> with free shipping (normally $165 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCPCHE34</strong>])</p> <p><a href=";cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-DailyDeals-_-CASE-N82E16811352038-_-0729&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner&amp;AID=5555555" target="_blank">Fractal Design Define R4 Blackout Silent ATX Mid Tower Computer Case</a> for <strong>$80</strong> with free shipping (normally $95 - use coupon code: [<strong>EMCPCHE42</strong>])</p> amd Daily Deals daily deals fractal design g.skill microsoft pny Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:02:56 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 28257 at Latest Update Lets Raptr Users Record and Stream Games <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/raptr_logo.jpg" alt="Raptr Logo" title="Raptr Logo" width="200" height="201" style="float: right;" />Record gameplay and your own reactions simultaneously</h3> <p>Last month AMD introduced the <a title="MPC Game DVR" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Game DVR beta</span></a> to its <a title="Raptr website" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Raptr</span></a> service. Today, a new update has been released so <strong>Raptr users can record or stream gameplay videos now</strong>. The update also adds a solution that facilitates seamless uploading and sharing of videos.&nbsp;</p> <p>The new video capture solution is called the Game Video Recorder and provides users with the ability to stream or record gameplay videos. Instead of recording just 10 minutes of footage, like the Game DVR beta, GVR will let users record 20 minutes of gameplay even after events have transpired. Users will also be able to automatically upload and share recorded gameplay with an online destination that is shared amongst the Raptr community.&nbsp;</p> <p>Both AMD and Nvidia GPU users will be able to take advantage of the service that, according to Raptr, will have virtually no affect on system performance.</p> <p>“Watching recorded and live-streamed PC gameplay footage has quietly become a massive trend involving tens of millions of viewers and billions of hours spent watching,” said Raptr co-founder and CEO Dennis Fong. “But to date, only a modest fraction of gamers actually record and stream some of their gaming exploits, because the tools haven’t been easy, accessible or resource-efficient enough. We’re excited to be improving the process and experience in all of those areas, and at the same time offering nearly universal support for all the latest GPUs regardless of manufacturer. This marks another big step forward in our ongoing effort to help make PC gaming consistently awesome.”</p> <p>Raptr is claiming that both GVR and live-streaming features are supported by over 5,000 games. A significant amount compared to the 169 titles, according to Raptr, that Nvidia’s GeForce Experience supports. In addition, users will also have the option to include their own real-time reactions in the recording sessions through the use of a webcam and microphone to create a picture-in-picture effect.</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> amd Game Video Recorder GVR Raptr Raptr Game Video Recorder Raptr GVR video game streaming Gaming News Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:08:34 +0000 Sean D Knight 28256 at Small PC Computing <!--paging_filter--><h3>We tour the burgeoning world of wee PCs</h3> <p>In case you haven’t noticed, the PC is getting smaller. But it’s not getting smaller in the way the PC fatalists see it. If anything, enthusiast PCs have gotten larger. Witness Corsair’s 900D, Cooler Master’s Cosmos SE, and Digital Storm’s Aventum II.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/opener_13639_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/opener_13639_small.jpg" alt="Yes, the Haswell Nuc is actually this small." width="620" height="446" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yes, the Haswell Nuc is actually this small.</strong></p> <p>The truth isn’t that the PC is getting smaller and thus going away; the truth is that for enthusiasts, there’s interest in gigantic PCs, small micro-towers, and now—Intel hopes—ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) PCs no larger than a book. All of which serve unique purposes, and thereby highlight the PCs unmatched versatility.</p> <p>UCFF PCs as a category aren’t new, of course. They’ve been around for years, but their performance has always been fairly underwhelming and they’ve always consisted of specialty hardware, to be embedded into an ATM or smart soda machine.</p> <p>But now that these compact computers are more capable than ever, readily available, and easily built, there’s no telling what new and interesting applications will spring forth. Is Intel actually onto something big with its new Next Unit of Computing (NUC) initiative?</p> <h3>Next Unit of What?</h3> <p><strong>Intel’s push to make the desktop smallera</strong></p> <p>Trying to figure out the actions of the world’s largest chip company can be confounding to consumers who don’t fully appreciate Intel’s size-13 footprint on the PC industry and its ability to single-handedly change the game.</p> <p>Sometimes when Intel sees a niche it thinks needs to be filled, it tries to jump start it from scratch. The company tried and failed, for example, with its Common Building Block program that was meant to create a DIY-laptop world with standardized power bricks, hard drives, optical drives, LCD panels, keyboards, and battery packs. While CBB never took off, many of the fruits of that effort are still with us.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/page3art_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/page3art_small.jpg" alt="Intel is even offering a limited-edition customized Dragon NUC. " width="620" height="454" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Intel is even offering a limited-edition customized Dragon NUC. </strong></p> <p>Now, Intel is attempting to both create and fill a niche again with its Next Unit of Computing, or NUC (rhymes with “luck”), a new ultra-compact form factor that the company hopes will push performance computing into unheard-of places.</p> <p>Unlike the CBB program, which was totally reliant on the participation of parts makers and laptop builders, NUCs are actually built and sold by Intel itself. In a nutshell, NUCs are simply 4x4-inch computers packing as much power as possible.</p> <p>From what we can tell, Intel’s actions aren’t intended to drive others out of the market. In fact, Intel seems to be trying to invite others into the NUC game. Thus far, Gigabyte has jumped in with its NUC-style Brix boxes that are proving to be fairly innovative. There are also other smaller and lesser-known brands and embedded-PC vendors in there, as well.</p> <p>Unlike Thin ITX, NUC-style boxes aren’t designed around industry-standard specs. The only things common between the NUC and Brix, for example, are the footprint, the power brick, and other mobile components they accomodate. You won’t, for example, be able to swap a motherboard from a Brix into a NUC because these PCs are generally customized to the chassis they’re in.</p> <h4>Challenges to NUC</h4> <p>One of the challenges NUC and its ilk share is the limited board space. At 4x4 inches, jamming in features has meant adding more layers to the motherboard. While typical ATX motherboards feature six- or even four-layer PCBs, NUCs’ are 10-layer. <br />Adding layers isn’t cheap, either. For example, in a 10-layer ATX motherboard—which you might see with a dual-proc board, where additional layers are needed to run all the traces of both processors—the PCB itself costs about $90.</p> <p>The path going forward for NUC isn’t to blow them up in size, either. Rather than making them, say, 5x5 inches or more in the future, Intel says it’s more interested in getting a 65-watt TDP processor to work reliably in a package of NUC’s current size. Of course, adding a hotter CPU means more cooling and a bigger and more power-hungry power brick, too.</p> <h4>NUC Sales</h4> <p>So, are NUC and NUC-style devices resonating with consumers? Intel didn’t give us exact sales figures, but it says it has seen healthy demand, with quarter-on-quarter growth from 30–50 percent. Interestingly, Intel says that even after it offered a lower-cost Celeron version using the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, the demand has mostly been at the high end, with consumers actually preferring the initial Ivy Bridge Core i5 version.</p> <p>That’s another reason Intel thinks that NUCs aren’t actually hurting the desktop. In fact, Intel believes the demand for a lot of performance, albeit in a tiny package, will reinvigorate the desktop, as people seek to put a PC in places they never could before.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Intel NUC D54250WYK</h3> <p><strong>Haswell comes to the NUC</strong></p> <p>The original Intel NUC DC3217BY we saw in late 2012 was an odd duck. The case was maroon and black, and while it showcased Intel’s newfangled Thunderbolt connectivity, there were no Ethernet, USB 3.0, or analog audio out.</p> <p>Intel cited limited board space as the reason for the port selection on that model (to be fair, Intel did offer a dual-HDMI version with gigabit Ethernet and a single USB 3.0 port) and soldiered on despite the skepticism over the device. That’s good news because the latest NUC leaves few questions unanswered.</p> <p>The newest Haswell NUC D54250WYK shares the same footprint as the original NUC but sits about an eighth of an inch shorter. Rather than the Core i3-3217U in the original NUC, the top-end Haswell NUC features a 1.3GHz Core i5-4250U that will Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz. There’s no lack of ports on this unit, either. The Haswell NUC includes a Mini Display Port, Mini HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, analog audio out, and an infrared port.</p> <p>The newest Haswell NUC D54250WYK shares the same footprint as the original NUC but sits about an eighth of an inch shorter. Rather than the Core i3-3217U in the original NUC, the top-end Haswell NUC features a 1.3GHz Core i5-4250U that will Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz. There’s no lack of ports on this unit, either. The Haswell NUC includes a Mini Display Port, Mini HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, analog audio out, and an infrared port.</p> <p>Internally, there’s a pair of DDR3 SO-DIMM slots and stacked Mini PCIe slots that let you install an mSATA drive and wireless card. The original NUC had overheating issues that caused some of the mSATA drives to error out. Intel has apparently addressed this by tweaking the fan and adding a thermal pad that rests on the mSATA drive. The shell in all NUCs is prewired for Wi-FI. The motherboard in this NUC also features a SATA 6Gb/s port and a port for SATA power, too. Intel apparently plans to use the same board in a future NUC that will be tall enough to support cheaper and far larger notebook hard drives. The motherboard itself is an Intel design and features a beautiful UEFI as well as the QS87 chipset.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/untitled-13221_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/untitled-13221_small.jpg" alt="After a puzzling first effort, Intel offers nearly all you could ask for in its NUC follow-up." width="620" height="522" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>After a puzzling first effort, Intel offers nearly all you could ask for in its NUC follow-up.</strong></p> <p>Performance isn’t a primary driver of people who run these mini PCs, but we decided to see how this Haswell NUC stacked up against the original NUC. That unit features a 1.8 Core i3-3217U CPU on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. Both NUCs are dual-core Hyper-Threaded parts, so the only real performance difference is due to the Turbo Boost of the Haswell and the newer microarchitecture. As expected, the Core i5 gives the original Ivy Bridge a pasting in CPU-related tasks. In graphics, it’s closer between the HD4000 and HD5000, but the Haswell part generally is in front. Oddly, the Ivy Bridge NUC comes out on top in 3DMark Ice Storm, which tests basic graphics performance, but falls back in 3DMark Cloud Gate. Neither NUC is suited for serious gaming, but in the 10-year-old Counter Strike: Source graphics stress test, both gave acceptable frame rates at 1080p.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">SPECIFICATIONS/Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td><strong>Haswell NUC</strong></td> <td><strong>Ivy Bridge NUC</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Model</td> <td class="item-dark">D54250WYK</td> <td>DC3217IYE</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>1.3GHz Core i5-4250U</td> <td>1.3GHz Core i5-4250U<br /><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Graphics</td> <td class="item-dark">HD5000</td> <td>HD4000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ports</td> <td>Mini HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.2, 4x USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet, analog audio out, IrDA, Kensington lock port</td> <td>2x HDMI 1.4A, 3x USB 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, Kensington lock port</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stitch.EFx (sec)</td> <td><strong>1,747</strong></td> <td>2,453<strong><br /></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer (sec)</td> <td><strong>2,567</strong></td> <td>3,729</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Cloud Gate</td> <td><strong>3,958</strong></td> <td>3,409</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Ice Storm</td> <td>32,157</td> <td><strong>35,969</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Counter Strike Source (fps)</td> <td><strong>63.23</strong></td> <td>52.4</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Google Octane 2.0</td> <td><strong>17,832</strong></td> <td>10,643</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td><strong>5</strong></td> <td>8</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td><strong>24</strong></td> <td>35</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption YouTube 1080p (watts)</td> <td>19</td> <td><strong>14.5</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Best scores are bolded. <br /></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p>We measured power consumption of both NUCs using the same power load and the same power brick (both were outfitted with similar parts, too). On idle, the Haswell unit drank about 5 watts versus the 8 watts of the Ivy Bridge unit. We also tried a worst-case scenario with Prime95 and Furmark running simultaneously. The Haswell used 24 watts to the Ivy Bridge’s 35W. While watching a 1080p video on YouTube, the Ivy Bridge unit used but 14.5 watts, interestingly, while the Haswell NUC used 19 watts.</p> <p>The Haswell NUC is likely the fastest NUC available today, as no one has figured out how to shoehorn a quad-core into the unit. But it’s not cheap. We found the unit on the street for about $375. Before you balk, remember that you’re getting a kit that includes the CPU and PSU. Yes, you can get a cheaper system by going larger—but if you want small and fast, this is the best yet.</p> <p><strong>Intel NUC D54250WYK</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$375, <a href=" " target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <h3>Gigabyte Brix Projector GB-BXPi3-4010</h3> <p>Intel’s goal with the NUC initiative was to create a new category of computing. What that category would be or how it would be used, the company didn’t really know when it started.</p> <p>While Gigabyte has several NUC-style clones, dubbed the “Brix” line, the one that really captured our interest is the Brix Projector. Yup, a UCFF PC with a DLP pico projector and 1.5-watt speaker integrated into it. The projector isn’t super bright, but it outputs a decent 75 ANSI-rated lumens. That means you won’t be using it outdoors in the daylight or in a very bright room, but it’s far better than the first 15-lumen pico projectors of yesteryear. It offers enough light that Gigabyte rates the device as being capable of projecting on a screen up to 85 inches. Resolution is also average at 864x480, or WVGA res, but that’s pretty standard for most pico projectors that are still actually “pico.” We’ll also note that lower resolutions are actually quite passable for media projection. Gigabyte even had the foresight to integrate a standard tripod mount into the base of the PC, too.</p> <p>Inside the Brix Projector you’ll find a pair of DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and the same stacked layout to take mSATA and Wi-Fi cards as in Intel NUCs. External ports are also generous, with four USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet, a Mini DisplayPort 1.2, full-size HDMI 1.4a, an analog jack that pulls double duty as optical SPDIF output, and a Mini HDMI-in port should you want to use the unit as a projector from another device.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">SPECIFICATIONS/Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td><strong>Brix Projector</strong></td> <td><strong>Ivy Bridge NUC</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Model</td> <td class="item-dark">GB-BXPi3-4010</td> <td>DC3217IYE</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>1.7GHz Core i3-4010U</td> <td>1.8 Core i3-3217U<br /><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Graphics</td> <td class="item-dark">HD4400</td> <td>HD4400</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ports</td> <td>HDMI 1.4a, Mini HDMI in, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, gigabit Ethernet, 4x USB 3.0, analog audio, S/PDIF</td> <td>2x HDMI 1.4A, 3x USB 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, Kensington lock port</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stitch.EFx (sec)</td> <td><strong>2,441</strong></td> <td>2,453</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer (sec)</td> <td><strong>3,564</strong></td> <td>3,729</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Cloud Gate</td> <td><strong>3,667</strong></td> <td>3,409</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Ice Storm</td> <td>26,475</td> <td><strong>35,969</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Counter Strike Source (fps)</td> <td><strong>53.29</strong></td> <td>52.4</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Google Octane 2.0</td> <td><strong>11,624</strong></td> <td>10,643</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td><strong>7.5</strong></td> <td>8</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td><strong>24</strong></td> <td>35</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption YouTube 1080p (watts)</td> <td>19</td> <td><strong>14.5</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Best scores are bolded. <br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/untitled-13223_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/untitled-13223_small_0.jpg" alt="Yup. There’s indeed a projector integrated into this PC that’s no bigger than a Wendy’s Baconator." width="620" height="502" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yup. There’s indeed a projector integrated into this PC that’s no bigger than a Wendy’s Baconator.</strong></p> <p>The CPU in the model we reviewed is a Haswell 1.7GHz Core i3-4010U with HD4400 graphics. Again, extreme performance isn’t a key metric for people looking at this class of device, but we were still interested to see how it does against the Ivy Bridge Intel NUC DC3217IYE. Remember, both the Intel Ivy Bridge NUC and the Brix have Turbo Boost disabled at the factory. Despite the Ivy Bridge NUC having a 100MHz advantage, the Brix Projector was slightly faster in some tests. In other tests, though, both were dead even. Clearly, if you really need the performance in a UCFF, pony up for a Core i5 part.</p> <p>In general, power consumption on idle was slightly higher (using an external monitor) with the IB NUC; under our CPU- and GPU-heavy loads and simply playing a 1080p YouTube video, the Brix was on par with the Haswell Intel NUC. As with that PC, the Brix Projector consumed more power than the older Ivy Bridge NUC playing the 1080p video.</p> <p>Using the Brix Projector is a hoot. The graphics signal, you should know, is passed internally, so there’s no hooptie external pass-through cable. You can actually run both the projector and an external monitor simultaneously.</p> <p>Overall, it’s a slick little unit. The question is, what would a normal person need it for? The answer is, most of us wouldn’t need it. But don’t take that to be a negative. There are certainly specialized applications for it, such as media installations, commercial applications, or even an ad-hoc mini-theater setup for the kids. Again, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but the fact that you can get a “real” computer with a 75-lumen projector is pretty mind-boggling.</p> <p><strong>Gigabyte Brix Projector</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$600, <a href=" " target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Gigabyte Brix Pro</h3> <p><strong>Faster than a tower. Really</strong></p> <p>In the land of ARM and off-brand x86 parts, the dual-core Core i3 is king. After all, when we talk about the “high-performance” needs of UCFF users, the performance of a Haswell-based CPU or even an Ivy Bridge part is like going back in time and landing a P-51 Mustang next to the Wright brothers after they just touched down at Kitty Hawk.</p> <p>Following that same analogy, you can think of Gigabyte’s blisteringly fast Brix Pro as an X-Wing fighter making a fly-by, wagging its wings, and then flipping the bird before making the jump to light speed. We’re not kidding, either. The Brix Pro is simply the fastest NUC-style UCFF we’ve ever tested. We actually watched it outpace our full-tower, six-core 3.2 Core i7-3630K that’s clocked full-time at 3.9GHz.</p> <p>The secret is Gigabyte’s ability to magically integrate a full-on Core i7-4770R in the Brix Pro. The Core i7-4770R “Crystalwell” is no mere Haswell part. Its main claim to fame is 128MB of super-fast embedded DRAM on the CPU package that acts as gigantic L4 cache (a Core i7-4770K’s L3 cache is 8MB). This cache greatly increases bandwidth for graphics operations and puts it on par with GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics. Since it acts as L4 cache, it can also greatly aid some application workloads, too. And no you can’t buy it, it’s only available soldered to motherboards. Oh, and it’s a full-on desktop-class quad-core Hyper-Threaded i7 chip that’ll hit 3.9GHz on Turbo.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">SPECIFICATIONS/Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td><strong>Brix Pro</strong></td> <td><strong>Ivy Bridge NUC</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Model</td> <td class="item-dark">GB-BXi7-4770R</td> <td>DC3217IYE</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>Core 3.2Ghz i7-4770R</td> <td>1.8 Core i3-3217U<br /><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Graphics</td> <td class="item-dark">Iris Pro 5200</td> <td>HD4000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ports</td> <td>HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.2, 4x USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet, Kensington lock port</td> <td>2x HDMI 1.4a, 3x USB 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, Kensington lock port</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stitch.EFx (sec)</td> <td>867</td> <td>2,453<strong><br /></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer (sec)</td> <td><strong>1,410</strong></td> <td>3,729</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Cloud Gate</td> <td><strong>10,406</strong></td> <td>3,409</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Ice Storm</td> <td><strong>68,195</strong></td> <td>35,969</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Counter Strike Source (fps)</td> <td><strong>149.43</strong></td> <td>52.4</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Google Octane 2.0</td> <td><strong>26,893</strong></td> <td>10,643</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td>8</td> <td>8</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption Idle (watts)</td> <td>87</td> <td><strong>35<br /></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Consumption YouTube 1080p (watts)</td> <td>20</td> <td><strong>14.5</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Best scores are bolded. <br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/untitled-13228_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/untitled-13228_small.jpg" alt="The Brix Pro packs in more performance per cubic inch than any system we’ve ever tested." width="620" height="481" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Brix Pro packs in more performance per cubic inch than any system we’ve ever tested.</strong></p> <p>Physically, the Pro is about 2.5 inches tall, making it about half an inch taller than the Intel Haswell NUC on page 51. That height, though, gives the Brix Pro the capability to mount a 9.5mm 2.5-inch notebook drive. The motherboard still has an mSATA slot, so you can run an SSD as well as one of the upcoming 2TB 9.5mm hard drives.</p> <p>Like other NUC-style machines, besides the mSATA slot, you’ll also find a mini PCIe slot that Gigabyte has already populated with an 802.11ac as well as two SO-DIMM slots. There’s a single integrated power and SATA connector for the 2.5-inch drive, as well.</p> <p>On the performance tip, as we said, the Brix Pro smokes all other NUCs. That’s not a surprise, as it’s a quad-core part going up against dual-core parts. And we don’t mean a wisp of smoke—it’s a full four-alarm smoke-out with the Brix Pro offering 200 percent performance increases over the Ivy Bridge NUC and from 82–163 percent increases over the Haswell NUC. This desktop Haswell-R part is so fast, it slightly outpaced our desktop zero-point system in ProShow Producer 5 and was slower by just 4 percent in Stitch.Efx 2.0 runs. Yes. Faster than a six-core overclocked machine that’s 30 times bigger. Granted, the tower will eat it in multithreaded tasks and gaming, but the fact that a machine smaller than a retail CPU box can be faster than a mid-tower machine is incredible.</p> <p>There’s a cost, though. When you’re hammering it with a heavy workload, it gets a little whiny. It’s not horrible, but you will hear the fan under very heavy loads. It also drinks more. The CPU has a TDP rating of 65 watts and under extreme CPU and GPU loads, we saw at-the-wall power usage hit near 90 watts. Most of the time though, power consumption is quite reasonable. The last issue is cost. This bare-bones kit will set you back $650. Much of that is the CPU ($400), but either way, we know there’s a price for miniaturization. At least with the Brix Pro, you’re getting a hell of a lot of performance.</p> <p><strong>Gigabyte GB-BXi7-4770R</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/" alt="score:9ka" title="score:9ka" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$650, <a href=" " target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <h3>DIY NUC</h3> <p><strong>You can roll your own NUC—but should you?</strong></p> <p>To a DIYer, “building” a NUC is a bit of an insult. You basically buy a NUC or Brix, slot in two SO-DIMMs, a Wi-Fi card, an mSATA drive, and install the OS. If you posted such a “build” on YouTube, the hazelnut gallery would come out of the woodwork to rip you a new one in the comment section.</p> <p>All is not lost, however, for true wrenchers who want to actually build a UCFF PC from scratch, so-called kits be damned. We just wonder whether it makes much sense, because at this point there are a lot of barriers to entry to building your own.</p> <p>The first issue is getting a chassis. Intel has told us it really sees these devices as being purely custom computing options with the base NUC and NUC-style machines. While Mini-ITX and Thin ITX (more on that on page 56) feature standard I/O shields like their bigger siblings, ATX and microATX, NUC doesn’t have any standardized cutout for system I/O. That means any chassis would have to be built to take one of the multiple NUC motherboard port arrangements currently available. So don’t just buy a NUC motherboard and a NUC chassis without making sure they match. Most vendors will specify which NUC motherboard the chassis will fit.</p> <p>To experience what it would be like to build our own NUC, we ran with a Silverstone PT14 chassis. This aluminum chassis comes with an I/O shield for either the dual-HDMI-port Ivy Bridge boards or the Thunderbolt version. Our PT14 is the dual-HDMI version.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">DIY NUC-style</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Silverstone Petit PT14 chassis</td> <td class="item-dark">$40</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Intel D33217GKE mobo/CPU</td> <td>$310</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">19V power brick</td> <td class="item-dark">$16</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Wi-Fi antennas</td> <td>$10</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Windows 8 OEM OS</td> <td>$99</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Adata 8GB DDR3/1333 RAM</td> <td>$65</td> </tr> <tr> <td>120GB Crucial mSATA drive</td> <td>$108</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi card</td> <td>$34</td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Total</strong></td> <td>$682</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p>The next issue is securing the NUC motherboard. Intel isn’t fully committed to supporting a DIY ecosystem, so rather than selling individual boards, it’s selling 10-packs of motherboards intended for system builders or integrators. In a bit of a wink, wink, nod, nod, though, some of the bulk packs of motherboards are broken up and sold to end users. This, of course, raises questions about warranty support, but according to (a popular vendor of embedded systems that seems to stock most of the esoteric NUC parts), the warranty for the boards are covered directly by Intel even if purchased stand-alone, so it seems Intel will stand behind them.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">BARE-BONES INTEL NUC</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Intel DC3217IYE</td> <td class="item-dark">$255</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Windows 8 OEM OS</td> <td>$99</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Adata 8GB DDR3/1333 RAM</td> <td class="item-dark">$65</td> </tr> <tr> <td>120GB Crucial mSATA drive</td> <td>$108</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi card</td> <td>$34</td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Total</strong></td> <td>$561</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p>The board we went with was an Intel DC33217GKE “Golden Lake” motherboard. It comes with an integrated heatsink and fan—which won’t work, as the PT14 chassis features an integrated heat pipe that connects directly to the chassis. Since the CPU is 17 watts, it’s possible to dissipate much of the heat through the chassis. Our Golden Lake motherboard came with a standard Intel cooler, which we unscrewed by first removing the two visible screws holding down the fan. We then removed the three fans holding down the heatsink and gently removed it from the board. The PT14 does have a single fan that’s set to exhaust air out the bottom of the chassis.</p> <p>From there it’s as simple as screwing the motherboard to the top of the chassis, populating the RAM, Wi-Fi card, and mSATA, installing the power button, and you’re done. All told, it took us about 15 minutes to roll our own NUC going at a leisurely pace so as not to forever lose the screws. We’ll note that the Wi-Fi antennas didn’t come with our 802.11ac card (they typically don’t) so you’ll have to secure a pair of rubber duckies with cables (just Bing “rubber wifi antenna and internal cable,” select Image, and search for the rubber duck antennas with internal cables. They’re typically under $10.)</p> <p>Before you’re done, though, you’ll also need to buy the 19-volt power brick. Intel actually sells them on its NUC parts page for $15, or they can be found at retailers for $16, typically.</p> <p>There, you’re done. You’ve just built your first Next Unit of Computing. It wasn’t difficult and it’s kind of fun. But does it make sense?</p> <p>No, not at all. Not once you run the numbers. The parts to build your own NUC from scratch cost about $682 (including $99 for the OS). If you had bought a NUC bare-bone system and added the same 802.11ac, mSATA, and RAM from the DIY package you would spend: $561. Ouch. And that’s without having to search through Uncle Jim’s used computer store for a pair of rubber duck Wi-Fi antennas and finding someone who actually sells NUC chassis. From a fiscal point of view, it makes no sense whatsoever. Even our standard edict that building your own box gives you control over the parts, fan placement, and appearance really doesn’t apply because, really, is there that much of a difference?</p> <p>Again, Intel says it’s not sure where it’s going with NUC as a DIY proposition and that’s apparent to us, because the real kick in the gut here is the motherboard. A NUC bare-bones kit with motherboard, power brick, chassis, and internal Wi-Fi antennas is $255 on the street. The best price we could find for the NUC motherboard alone was $310. Perhaps if Intel decides to make the price of the NUC boards more reasonable the DIY angle will make more sense, but today, it’s a waste of scratch no matter how you cut it.</p> <h3>Parts of a Whole</h3> <p><strong>The essential components of a DIY NUC</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/part_shots-13234_small.jpg" alt="The Silverstone PT14 NUC chassis dissipates heat using a heat pipe with a fan blowing air out the bottom." width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Silverstone PT14 NUC chassis dissipates heat using a heat pipe with a fan blowing air out the bottom.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/part_shots-13238_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/part_shots-13238_small.jpg" alt="This Intel D33217GKE NUC motherboard isn’t packaged for consumers, but you can still buy them with apparent warranty support from Intel." width="620" height="541" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>This Intel D33217GKE NUC motherboard isn’t packaged for consumers, but you can still buy them with apparent warranty support from Intel.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/part_shots-13236_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/part_shots-13236_small.jpg" alt="With NUC, you’ll want higher-clocked modules and a dual-channel config if you care at all about 3D performance." width="620" height="510" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>With NUC, you’ll want higher-clocked modules and a dual-channel config if you care at all about 3D performance.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u152332/part_shots-13237_small.jpg" alt="Like most NUCs, our DIY takes an mSATA drive. Newer units, however, will take 2.5-inch drives at the cost of space." width="620" height="450" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Like most NUCs, our DIY takes an mSATA drive. Newer units, however, will take 2.5-inch drives at the cost of space.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/part_shots-13232_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/part_shots-13232_small.jpg" alt="The NUC and Brix units all share the same basic 65-watt power supply." width="620" height="725" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The NUC and Brix units all share the same basic 65-watt power supply.<br /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> feature Gigabyte Brix Pro Gigabyte Brix Projector GB-BXPi3-4010 Hardware intel March issues 2014 nuc pc small pc Features Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:01:57 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 28032 at Newegg Daily Deals: Intel Core i5 4670K Haswell, AMD FX-4300 Vishera, and More! <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/intel_core_i5_4670k.jpg" alt="Intel Core i5 4670K" title="Intel Core i5 4670K" width="300" height="262" style="float: right;" /><img src="/files/u154082/newegg_logo_small.png" alt="newegg logo" title="newegg logo" width="200" height="80" /></p> <p><strong>Top Deal:</strong></p> <p>We're approaching the home stretch of summer and nearing the beginning of the back-to-school shopping season. 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