Big performance gains are possible using DirectX 12
Intel is turning heads at SIGGRAPH 2014 by showcasing its upcoming DirectX 12 API. This year's SIGGRAPH in Vancouver is the 41st intentional conference on computer graphics, and one of the highlights is a demonstration comparing DX11 versus DX12, the latter of which underscores the relationship between performance and power. In the demo, simply switching APIs results in up to a 70 percent boost in graphics performance.
Lenovo's strategy for the surviving the so-called "post-PC" era is to keep selling PCs
The number one supplier of PCs in the world continues to outperform the sector as a whole, while simultaneously taking advantage of the mobile market. Suffice to say, Lenovo has things figured out, though if you need hard numbers to drive the point home, you need only look at the company's results for its first fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2014. Continuing where it left off last quarter, Lenovo posted quarterly revenue of $10.4 billion, up 18 percent year-over-year, along with a 23 percent year-over-over bump in earnings to $214 million.
Tesoro today announced the release of its Kuven Pro 5.1 surround sound gaming headset. Armed with eight drivers (four in each ear cup), Tesoro advertises true 5.1 and virtual 7.1 surround sound capabilities, along with the ability to fully customize each channel (voice, front, rear, center, and subwoofer). As for the funky name, it's a shout out to the helmet that Hades wore in Greek mythology (more accurately spelled "Kυνέη").
Gold seems to be the 'in' thing among mobile devices these days, so why not extend the color option over to laptops? That must have been what MSI was thinking when it conceived limited edition versions of its GS60 Ghost Pro 3K and GS60 Ghost gaming notebooks. Each one packs high end hardware inside a "luxurious golden chassis" measuring 15.35 inches by 10.47 inches by 0.78 inches and weighing 4.36 pounds.
If you're the type that likes to flash your parts at family and friends (we're talking about computer parts, of course), you're going to appreciate Digital Storm's new Velox, a mid-sized system designed to "shatter benchmarks" and showcase the components inside with a side panel window. The Velox slides in neatly between Digital Storm's small form factor Bolt II and big size Aventum II systems.
No more plugging in your USB devices the wrong way!
Plugging in a USB gadget typically entails a four-step process. The first step is to attempt to jam it in the wrong way. Step two involves reversing the orientation only to discover that you had it right the first time. Step three is to mutter a string of curse words, followed by step four, which is to reverse the orientation back to its original position so that it plugs in as intended. It's a crappy process, and it's going to be alleviated by the new USB Type-C specification that's now been finalized by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group.
When Toshiba acquired OCZ's storage division and rebranded it as OCZ Storage Solutions, it freed the bankrupt company to concentrate solely on building solid state drives rather than balancing the business side of securing affordable NAND flash memory and trying to contend with shortages. We're starting to see the fruits of this relationship, as OCZ today announced its new ARC 100 SSD Series intended to deliver "exceptional performance an an enticing price point."
A tiny system with the gaming performance of a Titan Z
Of all the systems featuring an Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Z graphics card, the Tiki-Z Special Edition from Falcon Northwest might be the most impressive. That's because the Tiki-Z Special Edition is a micro-tower measuring just 4 inches wide and 13 inches tall --the same size as the standard Tiki and roughly equivalent to the original Xbox console -- yet has enough space to accommodate Nvidia's Titan Z, which is powered by a pair of Kepler GPUs.
EVGA this week added the GeForce GT 720 with passive cooling to its graphics card lineup. Compared to integrated graphics, Nvidia says you can expect up to 2x faster web browsing, 5x faster video editing, and 8x faster photo editing. And when it comes time to game, the jump in performance can be up to 70 percent faster, all while taking up just a single slot in your PC, Nvidia says.
Six entry-level graphics cards battle for budget-board bragging rights
The video-card game is a lot like Hollywood. Movies like My Left Foot and The Artist take home the Oscars every year, but movies like Grown Ups 2 and Transformers 3 pull in all the cash. It's the same with GPUs, in that everyone loves to talk about $1,000 cards, but the actual bread-and-butter of the market is made up of models that cost between $100 and $150. These are not GPUs for 4K gaming, obviously, but they can provide a surprisingly pleasant 1080p gaming experience, and run cool and quiet, too.
Note: This article was originally featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.