Build a PC en Display a Custom Logo on Bitfenix's New Aegis Case <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/bitfenix_aegis.jpg" alt="Bitfenix Aegis" title="Bitfenix Aegis" width="228" height="237" style="float: right;" />Add your own flair</h3> <p>Are you all-in with Nvidia? What about AMD? Or Intel? Hey, we're not judging -- <strong>you can be a fan of any brand you want, and if you'd like to show off your allegiance to team whatever, Bitfenix's new Aegis case will let you</strong>. Hidden behind the closed front panel of the Bitfenix Aegis is the Bitfenix ICON, a 2.8-inch logo display that connects directly to your motherboard via an internal USB header.</p> <p>This allows you to add any custom logo you want to the Aegis, which you can do simply by dragging and dropping a color image. Furthermore, Bitfenix has published the source code, so if developers want to get creative or fancy, perhaps animated or interactive icons will make its way to the Aegis.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/aegis_logos.jpg" alt="Aegis Logos" title="Aegis Logos" width="620" height="309" /></p> <p>The Aegis is a micro ATX chassis (supports both micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards), though it supports quite a bit of hardware, including four 3.5-inch drives (two removable cages with two tool free slots each) and four 2.5-inch drives (one removable cage with two tool free slots each).</p> <p>For cooling chores, the Aegis supports up to eight 120mm fans or five 140 fans, dual 238mm radiators, or a dual 360mm rad if it's of the slim variety.</p> <p>Other features include a built-in fan controller, rubber padded pump bracket, a reservoir bracket, PSU cover, dust filters on top, and five color options (white, blue, yellow, red, and black).</p> <p>No word yet on when the Aegis will be available to purchase or for how much. In the meantime, you can check out its <a href="" target="_blank">product page 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> Aegis BitFenix Build a PC case chassis enclosure Hardware matx News Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:47:19 +0000 Paul Lilly 29478 at It's OK to Buy Pre-built (Column) <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/genesis-white-angle-left.jpg" width="250" height="250" style="float: right;" />Stop the PC shaming</h3> <p>I built my first PC when I was 12 and believe that if you have any love for the platform, you should learn how to build one yourself. Having said that, however, I realize that not everyone has the time or patience to learn how to build a rig (even though it’s really not hard to do). I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, as I’ve picked up the system reviews beat for <a title="maximum pc" href="" target="_blank">Maximum PC</a>, and notice that there’s a negative stigma against people who buy pre-built machines. “Just build it yourself,” these judgmental commenters say. As much as I want everyone to know how to put together their PCs, I’d rather them buy pre-built PCs if it might be their only entrance into our awesome clubhouse. In essence, I think it’s OK to buy pre-built.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, I’m not talking about your grandfather’s old Dell or HP towers here. Yuck, am I right? But boutique system builders have come a long way. One argument you hear against buying pre-builts is that it’s cheaper to build your own PC, and in many cases this is definitely true. It might cost you a little bit of time, but financially, it can add up. This isn’t always the case, however. I recently reviewed <a title="syber vapor" href="" target="_blank">CyberPower PC’s Syber Vapor</a>; the little Mini-ITX box is equipped with a <a title="980 review" href="" target="_blank">GeForce GTX 980</a> and an i7-4790K CPU and retails for $1,638. While that doesn’t sound cheap, when we tried to replicate the build ourselves using prices from Newegg, the tab came out to $1,807. That means you’re saving nearly $170 buying pre-built. In addition, you’re getting CyberPower PC’s one-year warranty. A lot of these vendors can get away with this via buying power. Consider it the Costco method of computer shopping.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyberpower_pc-2_0.jpg" alt="syber vapor" title="syber vapor" width="620" height="367" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>CyberPower PC's high-end Vapor SKU is cheaper than its individual components.</strong></p> <p>Speaking of which, warranty and customer service can be a big factor, especially for the newbie PC buyer. I’ve built several gaming rigs for friends by cobbling together spare parts and whatnot, but I’ve also been approached by friends who depend on computers to make a living, like full-time jobs editing video. My gut reaction is to direct them to vendors like iBuyPower and CyberPower because these companies put together machines for pretty cheap and have solid one-year warranties. As much as I like building PCs for friends, dealing with their support calls (especially if it pertains to their livelihoods) is not something that I want to have to contend with.&nbsp;</p> <p>Moving on, there are certain awesome form factors that you can’t build into even if you want to. Take, for instance, <a title="alienware alpha" href="" target="_blank">Alienware’s Alpha</a>. While the PC has its issues, at 4.5 pounds, the computer is little larger than an Xbox 360 controller and works great as a living room PC that’s easy to take over to a friend’s house. Seriously, the Alienware Alpha and its 10-foot UI can do wonders for PC gaming in the living room, and that’s not something you can duplicate exactly.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="" width="620" height="413" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Alienware Alpha is a super portable living room/gaming PC.</strong></p> <p>And if you want to build into beautiful chassis like <a title="aventum 3" href="" target="_blank">Digital Storm’s Aventum III</a> or Origin PC’s <a title="millenium genesis" href="" target="_blank">Millenium Genesis</a>, you can’t, as those system vendors design their cases just for their PCs. And let me tell you, if you haven’t seen them up close with their awesome lights and custom loop coolers, I’ll tell ya, they are things of beauty. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I certainly couldn’t machine and build PCs that beautiful myself. In addition, these system vendors take the time to overclock the internal components and spend hundreds of hours running vigorous tests to make sure they run stable.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Aventum 3 is a beautiful pre-built PC that most people can't build.</strong></p> <p>Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should all buy pre-built PCs. I know I’ll be building PCs until the day I die, but in my humble opinion, if someone wants to buy a pre-built PC, they have their reasons, and in this day and age, there are plenty of good reasons to buy pre-built. Hopefully, they’ll spend the time to upgrade their pre-built PC over time, and take it upon themselves to build their next one. After all, didn’t most of us DIYers start off with a pre-built?</p> alienware Build a PC buy computer cyberpower Digital Storm DIY ibuypower maximum pc origin pc prebuilt Features Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:20:11 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29463 at Nvidia CEO is Mocked for Explanation of GeForce GTX 970 Memory Issue <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/nvidia_meme.jpg" alt="Nvidia Meme" title="Nvidia Meme" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" />Here come the memes</h3> <p>Nividia ticked off a lot of people when it came to light that its GeForce GTX 970 graphics card was suffering from performance issues when games tried to access onboard memory above 3.5GB. Turns out it's the result of an architectural design, one that doesn't exist on the GTX 980, and one that wasn't communicated to Nvidia's internal marketing team or externally to reviewers. There's been a lot of negativity surrounding the issue ever since, and in an attempt to diffuse the situation, <strong>Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has offered up an explanation of the GTX 970 memory issue</strong>.</p> <p>Before we get into that, we suggest reading <a href="">this</a>, <a href="">this</a>, and <a href="">this</a> as primers to what's going on. If you're crunched for time, the Cliff Notes version is that the above scenario, along with the discovery that the GTX has less ROPs and L2 cache than advertised, has led to a class action lawsuit.</p> <p>Seeing that the contempt is growing bigger, not smaller, Huang tried explaining away the issue as a "feature" that should have been bragged about.</p> <p>"We invented a new memory architecture in Maxwell. This new capability was created so that reduced-configurations of Maxwell can have a larger framebuffer – i.e., so that GTX 970 is not limited to 3GB, and can have an additional 1GB," Huang stated in a blog post.</p> <p>"GTX 970 is a 4GB card. However, the upper 512MB of the additional 1GB is segmented and has reduced bandwidth. This is a good design because we were able to add an additional 1GB for GTX 970 and our software engineers can keep less frequently used data in the 512MB segment," the CEO continued.</p> <p>According to Huang, the expectation was that users would be "excited" about this, but were ultimately "disappointed that we didn't better describe the segmented nature of the architecture." He also admitted that the "new feature of Maxwell should have been clearly detailed from the beginning."</p> <p>Perhaps so, though looking at the comments to his blog post makes me think this was a ticking time bomb no matter how you slice it. For those holding Nvidia's feet to the fire over this, the bottom line here is that the GTX 970 is gimped compared to the GTX 980, which doesn't have an issue accessing all 4GB of VRAM, and that they were misled, both by the impact this would have and by the advertised specs.</p> <p>"Yes, a 'new feature,' a 'good design' not included on GTX 980 because [it] decreases performance," a reader commented. Another stated, "I will most likely never buy from Nvidia again, they care nothing about their customer. And blatantly lie to our faces."</p> <p>Others took to posting memes and doctored videos, like this one:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="465" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>It's hard to watch the above clip without busting a gut, though for Nvidia, this is no laughing matter. To Nvidia's credit, the performance issue seems to only crop up when gaming at high resolutions and shouldn't bother folks gaming at 1080p. And based on the benchmarks when the performance issue doesn't creep up, the bang-for-buck here is pretty high.</p> <p>But in the end, Nvidia is finding out that none of that matters, as their fan base feels it's been lied to. It's going to take more than a blog post to win back their trust and/or make this go away.</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 geforce gtx 970 graphics card Hardware jen-hsun huang nvidia Video Card News Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:01:39 +0000 Paul Lilly 29469 at Aerocool Recalls Strike-X ST Case Due to Fire Hazard <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/aerocool_strike_xt_burned.jpg" alt="Aerocool Strike-X ST Burned" title="Aerocool Strike-X ST Burned" width="228" height="149" style="float: right;" />HDD dock can short out and cause a fire</h3> <p>Think you're having a bad day? Try having your computer case go up in flames. You'd think a faulty power supply would be to blame in such instances, but apparently an HDD dock can be problematic, too. <strong>If you own an Aerocool Strike-X ST case, stop using the HDD dock immediately</strong>. <strong>Aerocool has issued a recall</strong> and is in the process of replacing faulty circuit boards in the HDD dock that can melt the case and catch fire.</p> <p>The folks at <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Legit Reviews</em></a> received a recall notice on the case, but what's equally interesting is that this isn't a new problem. <em>LR</em> dug around and found that users have been complaining about this issue since at least 2012. There was even a <a href="" target="_blank">thread on <em>Toms Hardware</em></a> last year with some pretty grotesque pictures of what can happen to the case when the HDD dock's circuit board shorts out.</p> <p>It seems rather odd that Aerocool is only now getting around to correcting the issue. Better late than never, but wow, talk about playing with fire (literally).</p> <p>According to the notice, Aerocool "experienced a few short circuit incidents" that resulted in the affected case getting burned. The company isn't replacing the case, just the HDD docking board. It will come with a user manual that details how to replace the board, or you can reference this YouTube video:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>If you own the affected case, Aerocool asks that you drop them a line.</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> Aerocool Build a PC case chassis enclosure Hardware HDD dock recall Stirke-X ST News Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:16:10 +0000 Paul Lilly 29442 at AMD's Inexpensive A8-7650K Kaveri APU May Launch This Week <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/amd_a-series_1.jpg" alt="AMD A-Series" title="AMD A-Series" width="228" height="192" style="float: right;" />A chip for budget overclockers</h3> <p>Rumor has it that <strong>AMD is getting ready to release its A8-7650K APU on February 20</strong> in Japan, and presumably other parts of the world soon after. The chips is based on AMD's Kaveri architecture and features an unlocked multiplier. Combined with a price tag that's estimated to be around $117 in Japan, the A8-7650K will be a relatively affordable option for overclockers working with a budget.</p> <p>The chip's rumored February 20 release appears to originate from <a href=";tl=en&amp;js=y&amp;prev=_t&amp;hl=en&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;;edit-text=&amp;act=url" target="_blank"><em>Hermitage Akihabara</em></a>, though <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Fudzilla</em> claims</a> AMD has "confirmed" the date, adding that prices are typically a bit higher in Japan. We haven't been able to confirm the launch, but if it does happen on Friday, we suspect it will be in the neighborhood of $105, the number that was floating around last month.</p> <p>AMD's A8-7650K sports four Steamroller cores on two dual-core modules running at 3.3GHz to 3.9Ghz. It also has 4MB lf L2 cache, Radeon R7 graphics with 384 stream processors, a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, and a 95W TDP. The chip will work in FM2+ motherboards.</p> <p>One thing that's interesting about the release is that, on paper, it's slower than the A8-7700K that AMD stopped selling last year.</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> A8-7650K amd apu Build a PC cpu Hardware kaveri processor News Wed, 18 Feb 2015 18:03:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 29440 at Asus Rolls Out Shortened GeForce GTX 960 for Mini ITX Builds <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/asus_gtx_960_mini.jpg" alt="Asus GeForce GTX 960 Mini" title="Asus GeForce GTX 960 Mini" width="228" height="172" style="float: right;" />Get ready to see more of these</h3> <p>One thing I've noticed over the last few months is an increased focus on mini ITX builds. New cases like In Win's funky D-Frame Mini and Corsair's LAN-friendly Graphite Series 380T underscore a growing desire to build high-end systems with smaller footprints, but what about the parts that go inside them? It's mostly an issue with graphics cards, and while some mini ITX cases can accept full-length cards, others don't have the space. For those that fall into the latter category, <strong>Asus just expanded its mini ITX graphics card line with a shortened version of the GeForce GTX 960</strong>.</p> <p>The Asus GeForce GTX 960 Mini (GTX960-MOC-2GD5) is part of the company's Mini Series. It's a performance part built on a compact 17cm PCB. It's also factory overclocked with a GPU that's goosed to 1190MHz base and 1253MHz boost, up from 1126MHz and 1178MHz, respectively. The 2GB of GDDR5 runs at reference -- 7GHz effective.</p> <p>It's a full-height card that takes up two slots with a single "CoolTech" fan with both top-flow and lateral-flow fins. Other features include a single 6-pin PCI Express power connector, solid brushed aluminum backplate, and display outputs that consist of dual-link DVI, HDMI 2.0, and three DisplayPort 1.2 (x3).</p> <p>No word yet on pricing or availability, though this isn't the only higher end mini ITX graphics card on the block. Asus also offers a shortened version of the GeForce GTX 970 that streets for a little under <a href=";cm_re=gtx_970-_-14-121-912-_-Product" target="_blank">$360 shipped</a>, as does Gigabyte (streets for around <a href=";cm_re=gtx_970-_-14-125-706-_-Product" target="_blank">$334 shipped</a>).</p> <p>These are great options for higher-end PC console builds and cases like the <a href="">Phantom One</a>, and as the segment continues to gain steam, I suspect we'll see even more shortened graphics cards.</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> asus Build a PC geforce gtx 960 graphics cards Hardware mini itx Mini Series Small Form Factor News Tue, 17 Feb 2015 17:53:03 +0000 Paul Lilly 29434 at Standalone Phantom One Case Gets a Reward Tier on Kickstarter <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/phantom_one_desktops.jpg" alt="Phantom One Case" title="Phantom One Case" width="228" height="186" style="float: right;" />You asked for it, they listened</h3> <p>With just 15 days left and only $210 pledged so far towards its $50,000 goal on Kickstarter, we don't know if One Technology's Phantom One system will gain enough momentum to be successfully funded, but give credit to the team behind the project. When we <a href="">first reported</a> about the Phantom One, the general consensus was that it costs too much, so One Technology <a href="">dropped the price</a> by $250. There's also been quite a few requests to sell the unique cases by themselves, and guess what? <strong>Phantom One's standalone case will be added as a reward tier sometime today</strong>.</p> <p>Quick refresher if you missed our past coverage -- the Phantom One is a small form factor system that's about the size of a six pack of bottled beer. There are two versions, one that comes in a sleek black case and other other in a bamboo case, the latter of which is supposedly the first of its kind.</p> <p>Specs include an Intel Core i7 4790K CPU, Asus Z97i-Plus motherboard with Wi-Fi, 16GB of RAM, a shortened version of the GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, 128GB solid state drive, 1TB hard drive, 450W power supply, and Windows 7 64-bit.</p> <p>For many onlookers, the case design is the real treat here, particularly the bamboo version. The entire shell is made of bamboo, with each piece cut from a single sheet to maintain the same grain and seamless flow.</p> <p>Originally the team didn't want to offer just the case because they didn't think they could keep up with demand if they received a ton of orders, as each case takes over three hours on a precision laser cutter and CNC mill to make. Technology One was also concerned that price would be a factor -- in addition to the case itself, there's a unique $100 PCI-E riser ribbon that inflates the cost.</p> <p>Nevertheless, they're giving it a shot as a reward tier, we were told in an email. It will go up sometime today for a cost of $299. There won't be any of the aforementioned components, though it will come with the special PCI-E riser ribbon.</p> <p>The page hasn't been updated at the time of this writing, but if you're interested, you can check for it throughout the day by <a href="" target="_blank">clicking 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> bamboo Build a PC case chassis enclosure Hardware phantom one News Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:07:14 +0000 Paul Lilly 29433 at Intel Rumored to Delay Skylake Until Late August <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/delays.jpg" alt="Delay" title="Delay" width="228" height="190" style="float: right;" />Waiting on Skylake</h3> <p><strong>Rumor has it that Intel is delaying the release of its 14nm Skylake desktop CPUs</strong> until around the end of August instead of late in the second quarter as originally scheduled. Keeping in mind that none of this is official -- Intel hasn't made any Skylake announcements that have to do with release dates -- a leaked slide earlier this month showed both Skylake-U (mobile) and Skylake-S (desktop) parts at the tail end of Q2.</p> <p>Both represent Intel's 6th Generation Core processor line and are considered "tocks" in Intel's alternating "tick-tock" release cycle (a tick is typically a die shrink of an existing architecture, while a tock is a brand new architecture). The desktop variant will require a new socket (1151) and will coincide with Intel's 100 Series chipset, which among other things will introduce a <a href="">significant PCIe upgrade</a> with more lanes.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>Digitimes</em></a> and whatever sources it has within the motherboard industry, Intel has supposedly put to the word out to mobo makers about the delay. If true, it's expected to have a sort of domino effect by screwing with the production and shipment plans for a Haswell refresh and Broadwell-U for the second quarter of 2015. It could also delay the development of Broadwell chips with a 65W TDP.</p> <p>This will also impact PC sales in general. Vendors were hoping to show off Skylake systems at Computex 2015 in June, and this obviously puts a wrinkle into those plans.</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 cpu delay Hardware intel processor skylake News Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:35:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 29430 at Micron and Seagate Just Became Best Friends in the SSD Space <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/seagate_0.jpg" alt="Seagate" title="Seagate" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Strength in numbers</h3> <p><strong>Memory and storage heavyweights Micron and Seagate have signed a multi-year agreement in which the two will form a "framework for combining the innovation and expertise of both companies."</strong> Or in plain English, they're going to help each other in the storage space with an initial focus on SAS solid state drives and NAND supply, and then later in the enterprise SSD space.</p> <p>This really boils down to the supply of NAND flash memory. It's a volatile market, and it's one of the reasons why OCZ Technology ended up being <a href="">acquired by Toshiba</a>. The fluctuating prices and unpredictability of NAND flash memory supply made it difficult for OCZ to run a business that had become primarily focused on SSDs. Selling to Toshiba made sense in that regard.</p> <p>Storage companies see the writing on the wall, which is that SSDs are the storage format of the immediate future. To ensure they remain competitive, they've been investing in flash memory companies -- Seagate acquired LSI's flash memory controller business and Western Digital acquired flash memory maker Virident and later Skyera, a maker of enterprise SSD systems.</p> <p>There's no acquisition taking place between Micron and Seagate, but the strategic partnership should ensure that both remain competitive -- it's a 'scratch my back and I'll scratch your back' type of deal. In theory, Seagate shouldn't have to worry about NAND flash memory chips and wild fluctuations, and Micron lines itself up a major buyer.</p> <p>"The collaboration will assure both Seagate and Micron target the growing enterprise flash market with industry-leading offerings across both of our product portfolios," <a href="" target="_blank">said Darren Thomas (PDF)</a>, Vice President of Storage, Micron. "The relationship provides Micron access to enterprise drive technology and platforms, expanding our portfolio and accelerating our push into the enterprise market segment."</p> <p>There's no mention of this partnership extending beyond the enterprise space, though depending on what develops, this could be something that trickles into the enthusiast market too, especially as PCIe SSDs become more common.</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 Hardware micron nand seagate solid state drive ssd storage News Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:21:47 +0000 Paul Lilly 29421 at Biostar Kicks Off New Gaming Hardware Series with Gaming Z97X Motherboard <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/biostar_gaming_z97.jpg" alt="Biostar Gaming Z97X" title="Biostar Gaming Z97X" width="228" height="156" style="float: right;" />Say hello to USB 3.1</h3> <p>Biostar's been making a concerted effort to gain a reputation as a high-end hardware player, and it's doing it by releasing boards with enthusiast-grade and sometimes unique feature-sets. We saw it last summer with the <a href="">release of the TD85</a>, a motherboard with half a dozen PCI-E slots intended for Bitcoin miners, and more recently with the <a href="">Hi-F iZ97Z7</a>. Continuing the trend, <strong>Biostar today launched the first in a new line of gaming hardware, the Gaming Z97X motherboard</strong> with USB 3.1 support.</p> <p>According to Biostar, the Gaming Z97X is the first motherboard to come with onboard USB 3.1—there are two connectors. Also known as SuperSpeed+, USB 3.1 doubles the data transfer rate from 5Gbps to 10Gbps and is backward-compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.</p> <p>The board also has three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, PCIe M.2 support, dual GbE LAN ports (Intel + Killer), Super Hi-Fi audio, two HDMI ports supporting 4K and 2K resolutions, a SATA express connector, 12-phase power for the LGA 1150 CPU, 100 percent solid capacitors, and a super conductive heatsink design.</p> <p>The board comes with Biostar's new external Gaming Command box. It fits in a 5.25-inch bay and allows voice control over certain situations. The box features an independent USB DAC, dedicated mic input and line output jacks, buttons for adjusting the volume, diagnostic LEDs, and a few other tidbits.</p> <p>No word yet on when <a href="" target="_blank">Biostar Z97X Gaming</a> will be available or for how much.</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> Biostar Build a PC gaming z97x Hardware motherboard News Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:47:46 +0000 Paul Lilly 29401 at MSI Throws Weight Behind NVMe, Adds Support to X99, Z97, and H97 Motherboards <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/msi_x99s_gaming_7.jpg" alt="MSI X99X Gaming 7" title="MSI X99X Gaming 7" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Another bottleneck bites the dust</h3> <p>Out with the old and in with the new, or in this case, <strong>MSI is anxious to bid a fond farewell to the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) and get cooking with Non-Volatile Media Express (NVMe)</strong>. To get the party started, MSI issued a round of BIOS updates for a whole bunch of motherboards based on Intel's X99, Z97, and H97 chipsets, making the company the first motherboard maker to fully support NVMe.</p> <p>The majority of solid state drives currently on the market use the SATA 6Gbps interface, though PCI Express-based SSDs are beginning to gain ground. This is where NVMe comes into play -- by adding official support to its motherboards, MSI is essentially getting rid of boot drive headaches and improving performance at the same time.</p> <p>NVMe was originally conceived with SSDs in mind, or more specifically, for NAND flash memory. It needn't concern itself with spinning platters and various housekeeping chores required for mechanical hard disk drives, resulting in lower latencies, higher transfer speeds, and less power consumption for SSDs. In short, it's a more efficient hold controller interface for accessing SSDs through the PCI-E bus.</p> <p>Again, this won't affect very many people at the moment, as PCI-E SSDs are primarily found in the enterprise sector. But if you're living on the bleeding the edge and own a modern MSI motherboard based on one of the aforementioned chipsets, check out <a href=";C=d0df34b6cee4a088532e7852e269c88c&amp;S=3064&amp;L=34&amp;N=3495" target="_blank">this page</a> for the BIOS update you should be looking for. Once updated, you should be able to use NVMe devices as primary storage in Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 8.1 64-bit.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/nvme_graph.jpg" alt="NVMe Graph" title="NVMe Graph" width="578" height="304" /><br />Source: MSI</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 h97 Hardware motherboards msi NVMe ssd x99 z97 News Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:02:17 +0000 Paul Lilly 29363 at EVGA GeForce GTX 980 'Kingpin' Edition Sports Three Power Inputs for Serious Overclocking <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/evga_geforce_gtx_980_kingpin.jpg" alt="EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Kingpin" title="EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Kingpin" width="228" height="154" style="float: right;" />A graphics card build for overclocking</h3> <p><strong>Renowned overclocker K|NGP|N (or Kingpin, from here on out) has endorsed EVGA's latest GeForce GTX 980 graphics card</strong>, which has been "meticulously designed for the extreme overclocker." More than just lip service, this card packs a 14+3 power phase design, a new digitally controlled VRM capable of delivering up to a whopping 600A of current, and three power inputs (two 8-pin and a single 6-pin).</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">According to EVGA</a>, Kingpin "contributed to the design" of the card, though the company didn't specify how. We have a hard time envisioning Kingpin going over schematics and technical blueprints with EVGA, though given his overclocking background, it's possible he gave them a list of features and abilities that would help his efforts.</p> <p>Whatever his real role in the design was, the card ended up with several bullet points, including customizable lighting, a 12-layer PCB with extra copper, memory MOSFET cooling plate, onboard thermal sensors to allow for automatic realtime extreme overclocking tuning, quick switch triple BIOS, straight heat pipes (supposedly offers 6 percent better heat dissipation than bent heat pipes), a backplate, and EVGA's ACX 2.0+ cooling and metal shroud. The card also comes with a single slot bracket for water cooling.</p> <p>We'll talk about pricing as soon as you swallow that swig of coffee you took. Ready? The <a href="" target="_blank">EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Kingpin</a> carries an MSRP of $750 and is <a href="">available to pre-order</a> now.</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 evga geforce gtx 980 graphics card Hardware kingpin k|ngp|n overclocking News Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:55:01 +0000 Paul Lilly 29352 at AMD Takes a Chip Shot at Nvidia's GTX 970 Controversy, Cuts Radeon R9 290X Pricing <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/amd_4gb.jpg" alt="AMD 4GB" title="AMD 4GB" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Did anybody <em>not</em> see this coming?</h3> <p>What do you do when you see your enemy <a href="">twisting in the wind</a>? You strike, of course, and that's exactly what AMD predictably decided to do as rival Nvidia goes into damage control concerning the memory controversy on its GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. <strong>AMD and its partners have lowered the price of their Radeon R9 290X graphics cards to as low as $280 after rebate, or $300 without</strong>.</p> <p>Credit AMD for waiting until precisely the right time to drop pricing. Had AMD done this when news first broke that there were performance issues on the GTX 970 when accessing onboard memory above 3.5GB, it would have been jumping the gun. From a strategic standpoint, it's brilliant to roll out the price cuts immediately after an Nvidia employee said he would help GTX 970 customers <a href="">obtain a refund</a> on their card, if they in fact decide to return it and are unable to get a refund on their own.</p> <p>AMD's price cut could end up being the deciding factor for anyone who was on the fence about keeping their GTX 970 card. In reality, Nvidia's card is still a fantastic GPU for the money, at least for most users, and Nvidia originally said it's working on a driver update that should improve memory performance. That bit has since been edited out of the original post, though we suspect Nvidia will still try to fine tune things.</p> <p>Nevertheless, picking up a competitive card for as much as $50 less than the GTX 970 will be tough for some gamers to ignore, especially those who have yet to upgrade. And to make sure the point is driven home, AMD's technical communications lead, Robert Hallock, took a jab at Nvidia on Twitter by <a href="" target="_blank">posting a picture</a> of the Radeon R9 290 with the caption, "4GB means 4GB."</p> <p>Speaking of which, the Radeon R9 290 can be found on Newegg for as little as $250 after rebate, or $270 without.</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> amd Build a PC Gaming geforce gtx 970 graphics card Hardware nvidia price cut radeon R9 290x Video Card News Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:49:04 +0000 Paul Lilly 29341 at Sapphire Adds Triple Fan Cooler to 8GB Radeon R9 290X, Tweaks Clocks and Lowers Cost <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/sapphire_radeon_r9_290x_8gb_0.jpg" alt="Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 8GB" title="Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 8GB" width="228" height="225" style="float: right;" />More than just a big frame buffer</h3> <p>Sapphire was the first company to release an 8GB version of AMD's Radeon R9 290X graphics card, though it's no longer the only one -- a handful of other graphics card players jumped on board after AMD gave them a <a href="" target="_blank">reference design</a> to play with. Be that as it may, <strong>Sapphire is intent on standing out from the crowd, so it went and retooled its 8GB R9 290X with a triple fan cooler</strong> and some other changes.</p> <p>According to Sapphire, its Tri-X triple fan cooler is the first in the industry to use a central 10mm heatpipe in addition to four subsidiary heatpipes for even heat distribution throughout the heatsink. The fans themselves have dust repelling bearings with dual ball races and are equipped with aerofoil section blades. Topping it off is a fan cowling designed to guide the airflow for maximum cooling efficiency, Sapphire says.</p> <p>The company also points out that it builds its own PCB rather than outsourcing production. In this instance, its using a 6-phase VDDC power design.</p> <p>You'll find 8GB of GDDR5 memory on the new card, along with a 512-bit interface. The memory is "now clocked at 1375MHz (5.5GHz effective) delivering higher bandwidth than earlier models."</p> <p>Other features include a dual BIOS design, two 8-pin power connectors, and engine clock of up to 1020MHz.</p> <p>As for pricing? Good question -- Sapphire said the card comes it at a "slightly lower cost" but didn't specifiy an exact price. It's also not showing up in retail yet, though we'll update this article when/if we hear back from them. In the meantime, you can see more of the card on its <a href=";gid=3&amp;sgid=1227&amp;pid=2548&amp;psn=&amp;lid=1&amp;leg=0" target="_blank">product page</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> 8GB Build a PC Gaming graphics card Hardware radeon R9 290x sapphire Video Card News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:45:34 +0000 Paul Lilly 29334 at Nvidia Will Help Disgruntled GTX 970 Owners Get a Refund, Says a Driver Update is Coming <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gtx_970.jpg" alt="Nvidia GeForce GTX 970" title="Nvidia GeForce GTX 970" width="228" height="156" style="float: right;" />Upcoming driver could improve GTX 970's memory performance</h3> <p>Nvidia really stepped in a pile of PR poo when it was discovered that there was an internal communication gaffe over the way the GeForce GTX 970 handles its 4GB of onboard memory and the resulting specs. In short, the GTX 970 has 56 ROPs and 1,792KB of L2 cache instead of matching the GTX 980's 64 ROPs and 2,048KB of L2 cache as originally advertised. However, <strong>Nvidia wants to make things right and has offered to help GTX 970 owners obtain a refund</strong>, if need be. Should you go that route?</p> <p>In most cases, probably not. Before reading any further, however, we highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the situation by <a href="" target="_blank">reading this</a>. Don't worry, we won't go anywhere -- we'll be right here when you get back.</p> <p>Finished? Great, now here's the deal. Nvidia stated on its forum that it's working on a driver update that will do a better job managing the memory scheme on the GTX 970, and expects to improve performance. Granted there's only so much that can be done on the software side to address a physical design, but given that Nvidia built the card the way it did, it stands to reason that it also knows how to properly tune it. We'll see.</p> <p>If you ultimately decide that you don't want the card, however, that's your choice, and Nvidia says it will help you obtain a refund if you're unable to do so on your own. Here's the <a href="" target="_blank">full statement</a>.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"Hey,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">First, I want you to know that I'm not just a mod, I work for Nvidia in Santa Clara</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I totally get why so many people are upset. We messed up some of the stats on the reviewer kit and we didn't properly explain the memory architecture. I realize a lot of you guys rely on product reviews to make purchase decisions and we let you down.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">It sucks because we're really proud of this thing. The GTX 970 is an amazing card and I genuinely believe it's the best card for the money that you can buy. We're working on a driver update that will tune what's allocated where in memory to further improve performance.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Having said that, I understand that this whole experience might have turned you off to the card. If you don't want the card anymore you should return it and get a refund or exchange. If you have any problems getting that done, let me know and I'll do my best to help.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">--Peter"</p> <p>It's important to note that Peter says he'll do his best to help, which is different than saying Nvidia will take care of things. In other words, if you're having trouble getting a refund, there's a chance you'll be stuck with it anyway. However, given the PR hit Nvidia's already taken on this one, we suspect those scenarios will be few and far between, if at all.</p> <p>For most people, what this boils down to is that your GTX 970 is going to get even faster courtesy of some forthcoming optimizations.&nbsp; And for the few that are truly affected by the way the GTX 970 handles memory above 3.5GB, you now have someone at Nvidia that's willing to help you obtain a refund.</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 driver geforce gtx 970 gpu graphics card Hardware nvidia Video Card News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:13:53 +0000 Paul Lilly 29330 at