Last week we updated our Budget Badass to reflect the current price drops and made some improvements in hardware. This week we are shifting our focus to the power user. Shifting our focus also means shifting our cost up, but a higher budget means better hardware and faster performance. We've made a couple of adjustments to the video card and CPU as well as adding a second hard drive while taking your suggestions into consideration. While the final cost of this build exceeds a little past the $2500 mark, we believe the extra performance gain is well worth it. Keep in mind this is a Power User's PC, where our main focus is on utilizing the power of the processor through multitasking and multimedia programs. Read on to see our new setup for this Power User beast.
AMD earlier this week announced plans to split into separate design and manufacturing companies. As part of the split, AMD will retain 44.4 percent ownership in the spinoff of its manufacturing plant - temporarily called The Foundry - with the Abu Dhabi government-formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest.
Just hours after the announcement was made, Intel said it was investigating whether or not the new company violates a chip licensing agreement it has with AMD. Under terms of the original agreement, AMD has been allowed to use Intel's x86 chip instruction set in exchange for paying Intel a royalty. According to AMD, nothing has changed that would invalidate the cross-licensing.
"We are completely confident the structure of this transaction takes into account our cross-license agreements," Phil Hughes, and AMD spokesman, wrote in an email. "Rest assured - we plan to continue respecting Intel's intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours."
Not all financial experts agree with AMD's assessment. Hans Mosesmann, a financial analyst with Raymond James, believes AMD probably is violating the cross-license agreement, but doesn't necessarily believe Intel would turn it into a legal matter. Instead, Mosesmann writes that Intel may choose to use it as leverage to "entice AMD to drop the anti-trust suits against Intel in return for this altruistic gesture."
Power users have been chomping at the bit in anticipation of Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform, and some sites have already begun cashing in through pre-order sales. But as is often the case, being first means you'll likely pay the most.
Most of the pre-order parts are being found overseas, such as the MSI X58 Platinum motherbaord that was recently listed for over $300, or the MSI Eclipse spotted selling for as much as $413.
And it's not just MSI. As Fudzilla discovered, the Asus P6T Deluxe (the same board spotted with a warning label cautioning against running RAM voltage higher than 1.65V or risk damaging the CPU) was seen selling for $444. That's still cheaper than the Asus P6T Deluxe "OC Palm Edition," which at least one vendor had on pre-order for a staggering $492.
On the processor front, Canadian e-tailer PCVOnline is taking pre-orders on the Core i7 920 (2.66GHz), 940 (2.93GHz) and 965 Extreme Edition (3.2GHz) for $340, $650, and $1100 respectively. These aren't quite as overpriced as the above motherboards, as official bulk pricing is expected to set at $284, $562, and $999 respectively.
Anyone out there willing to pay pre-order pricing for day 1 bragging rights?
The LED revolution has begun, and we're not talking about those flashing lights emitting from your PC's chassis. Display technology is seeing a shift towards LED backlighting, one in which Dell says will account for all of its notebooks by 2010, and the notebook market as a whole is expected to see 30-40 percent penetration by next year. On the desktop front, Lacie is already there and the company's newest display lays out a spec sheet that's hard not to drool over.
Lacie's new 700 series, which has its sights set on professionals rather than gamers, is available in 20, 24, and 30-inch form (models 720, 724, and 730 respectively). Each model sports an RGB-LED backlight the company claims will "mimic real life by embedding some of today's most advanced display technologies."
On paper, Lacie appears to be right. The 700 series sports ultra-wide gamuts of up to 123 percent of Adobe RGB, a backlight stabilizer technology capable of adjusting settings in real time, and 14-bit Gamma Correction lookup tables which, according to Lacie, allows the displays to produce improved gradient rendering without banding and smoother color transitions "that are 64 times more precise than on consumer-quality 8-bit monitors."
As for pricing, brace yourself. The 4:3 720 model will run $1600 sans hood, or $2040 with. Tack on a color meter and the tally comes to $2290. The 16:10 724 version runs $2300 ($2930 with hood, $3180 with color meter), and the flagship 730 smacks you in the wallet for $4600 ($5850 with hood, $6110 with color meter).
Only two companies - Crucial and Corsair - offer system RAM outfitted with activity-indicating LEDs, and of those two, Crucial becomes to the first to port the light show over to DDR3 modules. The kit in question is the Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600, and like previous Tracer models, the DDR3 version sports red and green LEDs running along the top in between the black aluminum heatspreaders.
The new kit needs 1.8V to run at its default 1,333MHz frequency with 6-6-6-20 timings. Normally that wouldn't be cause for concern, but as we learned yesterday, Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may not play nice with performance memory requiring more than 1.65V and could actually damage the processor. Following the press release of Crucial's new modules, TomsHardware got in touch with Lexar regarding future compatibility, who had this to say:
“We’re working closely with Intel and other motherboard manufacturers,” said the Lexar spokesperson, “to ensure we have Crucial memory products that support the upcoming platforms and technology. We haven’t finalized our products to date, so we’re not able to share specific product details at this point in time. We’re confident we’ll have Crucial products that support these new, upcoming platforms.”
AMD, once on top of the world with its Athlon 64 lineup, has been hit hard by Intel ever since the rival chip maker abandoned its infatuation with Netburst and began pushing its Core architecture to much fanfare. Phenom hasn't been the phenomenal success AMD had hoped it would be, and it appears the company has finally reached a crossroads for future operations.
Rather than continue on with business as usual, AMD has chosen another path, one in which the chip maker will be split into two companies, with one staying focused on designing processors and the other setting its sights on manufacturing them. Giving the separated companies a boost, AMD says it will receive at least $6 billion from two Abu Dhabi investment firms, which will mostly go towards financing a new chip factory near Albany and to upgrade the company's Fab in Dresden, Germany.
AMD will own 44 percent of the new entity, which will temporarily be known as the Foundry Company, with the Abu Dhabi government formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest. ATIC will invest $2.1 billion in the venture right way, with $3.6 billion to $6 billion to be injected later on.
"We generally believe this deal is a game changer for the industry," said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive of Mubadala. "It's bold, and I think it's smart."
AMD's Dirk Meyer agrees, saying the split will make AMD a financially stronger company. And there's no doubt AMD could use financial relief, who at last count reported it carried a $5.3 billion debt while maintaining only $1.6 billion in cash.
Could this be the boost AMD needs to finally go toe-to-toe with Intel, or is this the beginning of the end? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may throw a curveball to anyone swinging sticks of high performance DDR memory. According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, running memory voltage any higher than a modest 1.65V on an X58-based motherboard outfitted with a Core i7 processor could damage the CPU.
The limitation came to light thanks to an admin on the XFastest forums who posted pictures of the unreleased Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard in retail trim. A closeup of the DIMM slots reveals a warning label which states "According to Intel CPU SPEC, DIMMs with voltage setting over 1.65V may damage the CPU permanently. We recommend you install the DIMMs with the voltage setting below 1.65V.
If true (and The Inq claims Asus has confirmed the limitation), it would mean that several of today's high end DDR3 memory could potentially be rendered useless on the new platform. It's not uncommon for RAM manufacturers to require higher voltages at stock settings, and even many DDR3-1333 kits call for more than 1.65V. Apparently the problem lies with having the CPU and memory voltages on the Core i7 platform run synchronously. That's a major bummer for anyone who may have tried to future-proof their current build, but if you haven't jumped on the DDR3 bandwagon yet, expect to see appropriately spec'd kits start to surface with the Core i7 platform in mind. In the meantime, buyer beware.
Hear that noise? It's the sound of DirectX 10 (and 10.1) failing to make much of an impact on the PC gaming scene. The slow adoption of DX10 can't be blamed on a lack of hype or anticipation, and gamers might need to prepare themselves for round 2. ATI, stil the only videocard manufacturer to offer DX10.1 compliant silicon, is casting an eye towards 2009 and telling whoever will listen that DirectX 11 is on the horizon.
Currently showing off next-generation technologies at Ceatec, ATI said it expects to launch DX11 GPUs within the next 12-14 months. It's far too early to tell what impact that will having on the gaming community, but on the plus side, DX11 is expected to raise the bar in terms of GPGPU functions and multithreading, as well as bringing support for hardware tessellation for the first time.
ATI also says its on track to release GPUs based on a 40nm manufacturing process, though the company stopped short of offering a specific time frame.
Evga, the company best know for its position as a top-tier Nvidia partner, continues to try and build a reputation as the go-to vendor for overclocking enthusiasts. The videocard manufacturer was the first to officially support overclocking its GPUs without invalidating the warranty (only XFX has since followed suit), and Evga's FTW branded motherboards look to live up to the three-letter moniker with all the right marketing bullets.
Adding to the FTW series, and specifically the 790i SLI FTW, Evga has announced the 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM designed for aggressive overclocking. In addition to the usual assortment of high end goodies (1600MHz frontside bus support, DDR3 2000MHz support, SLI certified, PCI-E 2.0), the long-winded FTW Digital PWM edition bumps up the reference design from a 6-phase to an 8-phase design. The board also comes with 100 percent solid state capacitors and ferrite core chokes, both of which purport to offer improved signal-to-noise ratios and ultimately lead to a higher overclocking ceiling.
Overclockers comfortable mucking around with advanced voltage controls will have the ability to disable Vdroop in the "enhanced" BIOS and avoid sagging voltage at higher overclocks. And for those that are more apprehensive when it comes to advanced level tweaks, Evga's BIOS will include several pre-validated voltage settings.
Asus has to be feeling on top of the world, assuming sources at the company aren't blowing hot air. As DigiTimes reports it, those sources are claiming that Asus feasts on the lion's share of P45-based motherboard sales, with the company accounting for a whopping 80 percent of worldwide shipments.
Third quarter motherboard shipments are estimated at 6.12 million units, representing a growth rate of 20 percent and surpassing the company's original estimation of 15 percent. The numbers bode well for what's to come, as demand for Intel's X58 chipset based boards is also expected to run high.