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Quantenna promises 10Gb/s Wi-Fi in 2015

Quantenna promises 10Gb/s Wi-Fi in 2015

Quantenna’s existing MU-MIMO chipset can be found in Asus’ newest router, but its success next year promises up to 10Gb/s of bandwidth via 802.11ac’s MU-MIMO technology.


Wireless communications specialist Quantenna has announced the development of a Wi-Fi chipset capable of ten gigabit per second (10Gb/s) throughput, with plans to release it commercially next year.

Perhaps the biggest complaint regarding Wi-Fi – aside from alleged health implications, disproved by scientific rigour – is that its performance can lag behind that of a wired connection. Even if you’re right next to an access point, the actual throughput of a 1.3Gb/s 802.11n Wi-Fi link is usually well below that of a 1Gb/s wired Ethernet connection – and the further away you travel from the access point, the slower it gets. Said bandwidth is also shared between all users; if you’re on a heavily-congested access point, you can expect the performance of your connection to drop significantly.

Quantenna is hoping to resolve this problem by giving wireless connections significantly more headroom, starting with a 10Gb/s chipset based on the 802.11ac standard which improves support for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) connectivity. Extending the existing MIMO technology, which uses multiple antennas to isolate signals and reject noise, MU-MIMO allows for multiple connections to individual client devices which are no longer competing for the same bandwidth. The result: significantly improved performance and reliability.

Quantenna’s 8×8 architecture with adaptive beamforming demonstrates that the ‘massive MIMO’ promise of significantly higher throughput, robustness, and reduced interference can be realised in practice,‘ claimed Andrea Goldsmith, Stephen Harris Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, in support of the company’s work. ‘This architecture will also significantly enhance the capabilities of MU-MIMO, allowing it to support interference-free transmission to many more devices simultaneously. These technology advances will transform the landscape of applications and devices that Wi-Fi can support.

Quantenna’s MU-MIMO chipset is already used in Asus’ latest Wi-Fi router, but the version due for release in 2015 will be considerably improved. ‘Wi-Fi is no longer a convenience,‘ claimed Quantenna chief executive Sam Heidari at the announcement. ‘People expect it to ‘just work’ even with demanding applications like HD video streaming. With Quantenna’s 10G Wi-Fi, they’ll always get the performance they expect—even as their expectations continue to rise.

The company’s existing chipset, which supports 4×4 MU-MIMO antenna configurations, will be extended in 2015 to support 8×8 MU-MIMO setups offering a total aggregate throughput of 10Gb/s. How much such a feature will add on to the cost of commercially available routers and access points that choose to implement it, however, has not been announced.

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Microsoft details space-saving WIMBoot for Windows 8.1

Microsoft details space-saving WIMBoot for Windows 8.1

Microsoft’s WIMBoot functionality, added in Windows 8.1 Update 1, can dramatically cut down the storage space required of a Windows installation by using a compressed image file.


Microsoft has announced a previously hidden feature of the recently-released Windows 8.1 Update 1, which promises to boost available storage on lower-end tablet and hybrid devices: Windows Image Boot (WIMBoot).

Introduced into the Windows platform for the first time with Windows 8.1 Update 1, WIMBoot offers a secondary method of installing Windows on a storage device: instead of the traditional method of extracting the contents of the installation media into directories on the storage drive, WIMBoot sees an image being copied into a dedicated partition with symbolic links being created to offer the illusion that the files are in the expected folders within the main system partition.

The advantage of this method, Microsoft explains, is that the WIMBoot image can remain lightly compressed – not enough to harm overall performance, but enough to mean that the user is given a little more storage space with which to play. ‘Let’s assume the WIM file (INSTALL.WIM) is around 3GB and you are using a 16GB SSD,‘ explains Microsoft’s Ben Hunter of the feature. ‘In that configuration, you’ll still be left with over 12GB of free disk space (after subtracting out the size of the WIM and a little bit of additional “overhead”). And the same WIM file (which is read-only, never being changed in this process) can also be used as a recovery image, in case you want to reset the computer back to its original state.

‘How does that compare to a non-WIMBoot configuration? Well, on that same 16GB system there might be only 7GB free after installing Windows – and then only if you don’t set up a separate recovery image.’

Available storage capacity on Microsoft’s Windows-based Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets has long been a concern, despite the presence of an SD card slot for expansion. The discovery that the 32GB model of Surface RT offers only 16GB of usable space led to numerous complaints; WIMBoot offers the potential to dramatically reduce the ‘wasted’ space, while also offering Microsoft and its customers the option to build cheaper 16GB models – something the hefty storage demand of Windows 8 and Windows RT had previously precluded.

Instructions for performing a WIMBoot install yourself are available on the company’s Technet knowledgebase.

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AMD launches AM1 Kabini desktop range

AMD launches AM1 Kabini desktop range

AMD’s Kabini desktop parts represent its first ever socketed system-on-chip (SoC) designs, offering upgradability for the entry-level market.


AMD has officially launched its desktop Kabini products, in the form of AM1 Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) designed for the entry-level market and bearing the Sempron and Athlon brands.

Designed to compete with Intel’s Bay Trail, the Kabini desktop parts have been created to reflect what AMD claims is the changing face of every-day computing: an increase in the number of applications, like office suites and web browsers, that can make use of GPU acceleration to improve performance. That’s something that an APU can do well, of course, but Kabini is more than just a slightly faster version of what has gone before.

The new AM1 platform, as Kabini will be known at retail, represents the company’s first-ever socket-based system-on-chip (SoC) design, which AMD has dubbed ‘System in a Socket.’ The Kabini SoC design will be provided as a PGA-based, user-replaceable processor which fits into the new FS1b socket type. Unlike Intel’s lower-wattage Bay Trail, which is BGA and soldered to the motherboard at the factory, AM1 owners will have the option of after-market upgrades.

The Kabini chips that form AM1 all have a similar feature set: an SoC design featuring up to four Jaguar CPU cores and Graphics Core Next (GCN)-based Radeon graphics with DirectX 11.2 and OpenGL 4.3 support – no word yet on Microsoft’s as-yet unreleased DirectX 12 – and support for two USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and two SATA 6Gb/s ports, all without the need for an external chipset. Manufacturers who need more are, of course, welcome to add extra chips as required.

AMD launches AM1 Kabini desktop range
The bottom of the Kabini desktop brand will be the AMD Sempron 2650: two 1.45GHz Jaguar cores, 128 Radeon cores running at 4000MHz, 1MB of cache and support for 1,333MHz memory. Moving up the ladder is the Sempron 3850: four 1.3GHz Jaguar cores, the same 128 Radeon cores but running at 450MHz, 2MB cache and support for 1,600MHz memory.

The higher-end Athlon range starts with the Athlon 5150: four 1.6GHz Jaguar cores, 128 Radeon cores running at 600MHz, 2MB cache and the same 1,600MHz memory support. The range tops out with the Athlon 5350, with four 2.05GHz Jaguar cores and the same cache, graphics and memory support. All four Kabini chips will, interestingly, come in at identical 25W thermal design profiles (TDPs) – higher, unfortunately, than Intel’s BGA-only Bay Trail designs.

AMD launches AM1 Kabini desktop range
AMD looks to be pushing Kabini on the desktop against Bay Trail on three fronts: wider software support for older 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems; higher overall compute performance; and price. The latter is perhaps the most surprising: the bottom-end Sempron 2650 will cost just $31 per unit in trays of a thousand, with the Sempron 3850 stretching to $36; the Athlon 5150 will cost $45 per unit in the same volume, with the top-end Athlon 5350 fetching $55. FS1b motherboards will cost around $25-$35, the company has confirmed, a price point reached by the Kabini SoC taking over tasks that would have previously required an external chipset.

AMD has named ASrock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI and ECS Elitegroup as hardware partners on Kabini, each of whom plans to launch low-cost FS1b motherboards in micro-ATX and the compact mini-ITX formats. Formal retail pricing has not been provided as yet.

According to AMD’s own internal testing, the new Jaguar cores – the same architecture found in the Xbox One and PS4 games consoles – offer considerable advantages over their predecessors. As well as boosts to low-power operation, the company is claiming a 17 per cent boost in instructions per cycle (IPC) over the E1-1500 Bobcat equivalent. Under PCMark 7, the company claims, that translates to a jump for the Sempron 2650 from the E1-1500′s 1125 points to over 1300.

Higher up the rankings, the Athlon 5350 doubles the Cinebench R15 single-core benchmark compared to the AMD E-350, while its extra CPU cores mean a quadrupling in the multi-core tests. How these will compare to the same benchmark on Intel’s latest low-power chips remains to be seen.

AMD launches AM1 Kabini desktop range
A particularly interesting aspect of AMD’s Kabini design comes from its dynamic power management. During GPU-heavy activity, the less-loaded CPU cores act as a heatsink to draw heat away from the GPU; when the CPU is heavily loaded, the GPU is used in a similar manner. When both are loaded, of course, there’ll likely be some down-clocking – but it’s a system which should allow CPU- or GPU-bound applications to run at a higher speed than would otherwise be possible.

UPDATE
The first UK retailers have gone live with AM1 parts, offering the Athlon 5350 for £39.99, the Athlon 5150 for £37.99, the Sempron 3850 for £29.99 and the Sempron 2650 for £25.99. Motherboards range in price from £26 up to £38.

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HTC One M8 officially unveiled

HTC One M8 officially unveiled

The HTC One M8


HTC has officially unveiled its latest flagship smartphone the HTC One M8, which replaces last year’s HTC One.

The new phone sports a very similar design to its predecessor but includes plenty of tweaks throughout.

Firstly, the new phone has a new look. Although still largely similar to before, with the premium allure of metal leading the charge, the edges of this phone have been rounded off a little while the touch buttons underneath the screen of the HTC One have been removed.

The finish of the metal back is also new, at least on one of the available colours, with a brushed pattern adorning the darker ‘metal grey’ colour. More conventional anodised silver and gold versions will also be available.

The key new features of this phone are its dual camera and the addition of a microSD slot.

The new camera uses a secondary lens to pick up depth information, which can then be used by the phone to automatically pick out objects in the picture for applying effects. The most obvious application of this will be to create a false bokeh (blurred background) effect for better bringing out the subject of a photo, though other effects such as making the rest of the image black and white will also be available.

The main camera sensor is the same 4-megapixel ‘Ultrapixel’ camera of the HTC One. The rational for this relatively low resolution is that the larger pixels it allows for (2.0 microns compared to 1.1 for most smartphone cameras) allows for better colour accuracy and dynamic range, particuarly in low light conditions.

Its benefits were debatable in last year’s phone – it was slightly better in low light but was outclassed in most other scenarios – so it’s surprising to see HTC stick to such a low resolution when the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 are nearing 20-megapixels.

As for the addition of a microSD card, this will provide a way of quickly and easily transporting data to and from the phone as well as a low cost way to boost its overall storage. The onboard storage is variable but is likely to be 16GB in most shops.

Elsewhere the HTC One M8 is a steady step up from last year’s model with a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and 2GB RAM. That CPU is a quad core model running at a hefty 2.3GHz.

The display has also increased very slightly in size, from 4.7in to 5in, but its resolution remains at 1080p. It’s an SLCD model so won’t have quite the black level performance of the AMOLEDs used by Samsung but should be better in brighter conditions.

HTC Sense makes a return on the software side of things, though HTC has further reduced its impact on the overall experience. BlinkFeed is now less obtrusive while the Gallery and Camera apps are now kept separate from the main system, which should make for fewer delays in the release of system updates.

The final main improvemnt of the HTC One M8 over the HTC One is a larger battery, with it increasing from 2,300mAh to 2,600mAh. This still trails the Galaxy S5, at 2,800mAh, and Sony Xperia Z2, at 3,000mAh, though.

The HTC One M8 release date and price are yet to be confirmed but expect it to arrive soon and be pricey.

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EVGA announces GeForce GTX 780 6GB models

EVGA announces GeForce GTX 780 6GB models

EVGA’s new GTX 780 models, one with stock cooler and one with dual-fan ACX cooler, both come with a boost to 6GB of GDDR5 memory.


EVGA has announced a new entry in its GeForce GTX 780 line-up, boosting the video memory available to an impressive 6GB of GDDR5 without the need to splash out on the like of a Titan.

The company has confirmed plans to launch a pair of GeForce GTX 780 6GB models, starting with a version feature Nvidia’s stock cooler design. As with the existing models, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 6GB SC includes a Kepler GPU with 2,304 CUDA cores, a base clock of 941MHz rising to 993MHz under boost conditions, and a 384-bit memory bus. Where it differs from the usual models is in its use of 6GB of GDDR5 memory, in place of the usual 3GB.

The stock cooler edition is to be joined by a premium version offering EVGA’s customised ACX dual-fan cooler. Switching the cooler out, the company has claimed, allows for a factor overclock that sees the base clock of the card rise to 967MHz and the boost clock to break the gigahertz barrier at 1,020MHz. The rest of the card’s specifications, including the boost to 6GB, remain the same.

Both models will be covered under EVGA’s Step-Up programme, which allows anyone who has bought an EVGA-branded graphics card in the 90 days prior to the launch of the new boards to upgrade to the new model. Those taking the company up on the offer will, naturally, be asked to pay the difference in cost between their existing board and the new 6GB models.

Official UK pricing for the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC and GeForce GTX 780 ACX have not yet been confirmed, with EVGA offering a recommended retail price for the former of $549.99 (around £334 excluding taxes) in the US as a guideline.

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Corsair Raptor M45 Review

Corsair Raptor M45 Review – Introduction and Features

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK Price: £44.99
US Price: $59.99

The Corsair Raptor M45 is an upgrade to the Corsair Raptor M40, with an improved 5,000dpi sensor. It could also be considered a cut-price variant of the company’s Vengeance M65 model that uses an optical rather than laser sensor. However, while cheaper than that model it still boasts plenty of other features that mark it out from entry level models – this is still a true gaming peripheral.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
When we say this is a low cost version of the M65 we really mean it. The M45 sports essentially exactly the same physical design as that model but rather than the metal base of the M65 here it’s all plastic. This doesn’t detract at all from the mouse’s overall look or feel though. On the desk you’d be hard pushed to tell it apart from its more luxurious sibling and all the surfaces of the mouse that you touch feel solid and have nice finishes. The top has a soft-touch coating while the sides have a textured moulded finish to them, which theoretically aids grip and reduces overall sweaty finger-syndrome.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
Another nice addition is the aluminium scroll wheel. The metal construction doesn’t serve a purpose in terms of adding extra weight for inertial scrolling but it looks the part. The edge is finished with a nice thick and grippy rubber band and the scrolling action has an accurate lightweight feel – perfect for precise weapon selection in FPS games for instance.

Another key feature of this mouse is that it includes a weights system. Three screw-off metal bolts on the underside reveal three tiny metal discs. Each of the bolts weighs 3g and the weights weigh 4g, making for a total possible extra weight of 21g.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
We aren’t generally fans of weights in mice as we tend to find the lighter the better. As such we ended up removing both the weights and the bolts. However one area where we did see some benefit was in photoshop work where the extra stability provided by the higher weight made tracing round fine objects a little easier. Also, some people like extra weight generally and as far as weight systems go this one seems to do the trick nicely.

One area where the M45 actually trumps the M65 is that it has more lights! As well as the indicator bars for the DPI setting, which sit below the scroll wheel in between the two DPI adjusting buttons, the Corsair logo is also backlit. The lighting is single colour but good quality and we like the choice of red and black – it’s the perfect partner to the matching Corsair Raptor K40 keyboard at the very least.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
An interesting little quirk of this mouse is that the cable comes from the left side of the front edge, rather than the middle. This doesn’t seem to serve any purpose for the user but simply is a result of the design and construction of the mouse. The cable itself is 1.2m long, which is plenty, and is fully braided, terminating in a matching red USB plug.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
The base of the Corsair Raptor M45 has five very large PTFE glide pads which provide a wonderfully smooth mousing action. It glided effortlessly over every conventional mousing surface we tried and the sheer area of padding means the pads should last a while. A nice touch too is that each pad has a little notch next to it for easy insertion of a screwdriver or such for prizing off and replacing the pads. How easy it will be to get hold of replacements is a different matter, of course.

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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition Review

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition 3GB Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed):
£384.38 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $519.99 (ex Tax)

We’ve looked at a fair number of custom made high end GPUs recently, and the latest one to enter our labs is the Gigabyte GTX 780 GHz Edition. With modifications to the clock speeds, power circuitry and cooling equipment there’s plenty to get our teeth into. It comes in at £385, which is around £25 more than stock cards but still slightly less than basic AMD R9 290X cards.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition Review
Click to enlarge
The GTX 780 uses a cut down GK110 GPU with a total of 2,304 stream processors and 194 texture units. It has the full 384-bit wide memory interface and 48 ROPs of the GTX 780 Ti and Titan Black, however, as well as 3GB of GDDR5.

As Gigabyte’s naming scheme hints at, its overclocked card is very fast by straight out of the box. It ships with a base core clock of 1,020MHz, a massive 18 percent faster than the default 863MHz. This also gives it a rated boost clock of 1,072MHz, though our sample stayed at a mighty 1,176MHz under load. This overclock is very impressive, as it’s almost the same as that which we achieved with our stock GTX 780, indicating that Gigabyte has selected only the best GTX 780 GPUs for use in this card. Sadly, it hasn’t overclocked the memory, which remains at 1.5GHz (6GHz effective). This is a shame as with our original GTX 780 we were able to raise this all the way to 7GHz.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition Review
Click to enlarge
Physically, the GTX 780 GHz Edition is 287mm long (20mm longer than stock) but crucially won’t occupy more than two expansion slots, unlike the Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X. It maintains the standard video outputs, with the DisplayPort connection ensuring G-Sync compatibility. Along the top the usual pair of SLI connectors are present, but Gigabyte has beefed up the power connectivity, going from an 8-pin/6-pin combination to dual 8-pin connections to provide a little more juice – a 600W power supply is recommend as a minimum. Finally, on the back is a brushed metal backplate, and as with the Asus R9 290 DirectCU II, this is primarily for stability and aesthetic purposes.

While the backplate isn’t used to cool the card, there’s plenty of cooling going on at the front. The custom Windforce 3X cooler is rather hefty and responsible for the card’s extra length. There’s also an extended section at the top featuring the Windforce logo which increases the height of the card by 21mm beyond the edge of the PCI bracket. The open black shroud means that heat is dumped into your chassis from the three slimline 80mm fans, which are powered and controlled by a single header on the PCB.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition Review
Click to enlarge
Removing the cooler reveals a copper baseplate for the GPU connected to six copper heat pipes (two 8mm, four 6mm) in the main heatsink. One of these heat pipes loops back into the heatsink while the remaining five feed the secondary one. Aluminium plates and thermal pads are used to cool all twelve memory chips as well as the MOSFETs of the eight GPU power phases.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 GHz Edition Review
Click to enlarge
Looking at the PCB, we see Gigabyte has stuck with the SK Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR-R0C memory chips, which are rated for 6Gbps. The GTX 780 usually has a 6+2 phase arrangement, but Gigabyte has given the GPU two extra phases for a total of 8+2 power phases making for a supposedly cleaner supply of power to the GPU.

Unfortunately, we no longer have samples of the PNY GTX 780 XLR8 OC or Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 with which we can compare this card. However, we do still have up to date results for the Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X, which is similar in being a high-end custom cooled card.

Specifications

  • Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 780, 1,020MHz (boosting to 1,072MHz)
  • Pipeline 2,304 stream processors, 194 texture units, 48 ROPs
  • Memory 3GB GDDR5, 6GHz effective
  • Bandwidth 288.4GB/sec, 384-bit interface
  • Compatibility DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.3
  • Outputs/Inputs Dual Link DVI-D, Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Power connections 2 x 8-pin PCI-E top-mounted
  • Size 287mm long, dual-slot
  • Warranty Retailer dependent

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Emotional crisis! Ditching my iPhone for a new gadget love


The best therapy of all for Crave’s Michael Franco? Opening the Galaxy Note 3.


(Credit:
Diane Curry)

When I got my first smartphone five years ago — a shiny new iPhone 3GS — I was like a proud papa. I bragged about it everywhere I went, saying it had been the one piece of technology I’d wanted since I was a little kid lusting after Captain Kirk and Co.’s tricorders.

It played the soundtrack to sweaty walks in Singapore, kept me company with US podcasts in Prague, and helped me pass the time in many a passport control line with ease (thank you, TowerMadness). For five years it was my second brain, my boom box, and yes, I’d even go so far as to say, my friend.

Half a decade might seem an eternity to hold onto a smartphone, but personal economics dictate that I can’t toss out a perfectly solid gadget for no good reason. When my trusty iPhone wouldn’t make calls if I switched to 3G mode, however, and pretty much every new app I wanted couldn’t run on the phone’s aging innards, I knew it was finally time for us to part ways. After some research, I placed an order for a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 about a week ago.

But after talking with the saccharine-sounding T-Mobile customer service rep, I noticed a tinge of anxiety. I love shiny new tech and have a knack for “getting” any new piece of gear or software in minutes, yet I still felt a bit nervous about stepping into an entirely new smartphone ecosystem, transferring my nearly 2,000 contacts, figuring out how to sync my calendars, and generally losing access to the supportive mothership known as the Genius Bar.

But here’s what surprised me even more — I felt guilty, as if I’d just betrayed a best friend who had been by my side for years. T-Mobile’s assurances that I’d just ordered a “great phone” didn’t soothe my conscience.

My CNET colleagues Amanda Kooser and Scott Stein have shared their own emotional reactions to tech purchases before, but mine still made me curious. Why on earth was I feeling guilty? Was something deeper causing me to feel the way I did? Or was I just being my usual “why relax when you can worry” type A self? Assuming that others have surely been in the same situation as I was, I did what any (ab)normal journalist would do — I contacted someone who makes a living out of understanding the mysteries of the mind, a therapist.

I turned to John Tsilimparis, the psychotherapist who helped many an OCD sufferer overcome anxieties on AE’s show “Obsessed.” While my obsessive tendencies mainly revolve around making it to the final table in the occasional Texas Hold ‘Em tournament, I have admired Tsilimparis’ compassionate approach to people struggling with a range of anxieties. My situation was hardly comparable, but surely he could help explain my iPhone separation angst.

While Tsilimparis clearly thought I’d get over my phone-swap angst pretty quickly, he also recommended I view the ditching of my friend — um, I mean my iPhone — through three lenses: attachment disorder, bereavement, and adjustment disorder. All can lead to serious suffering, but even when confronted on a much, much smaller scale, they can still trigger our emotions.

“Clearly you’re not grieving the loss of a phone the way you would grieve the death of someone,” Tsilimparis said, “and clearly you don’t have attachment disorder in the way a little kid has panic attacks when he’s separated from his mother.” Whew, so it wasn’t so bad.

But whether we’re attaching to people, places, or things, he continued, “we identify with them and that binds the attachment even more. And then we attach emotional memory to it, meaning there are good times attached to it — times when your phone came through for you, or you really enjoyed using it, or when you had good conversations on it. It’s been a companion for you in some ways. And so letting it go can make it seem like letting go of a part of yourself. You’ve been an iPhone guy for so long, so it’s part of your identity almost.”

Regarding bereavement, Tsilimparis suggested I familiarize myself with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ famous five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial? Check. During the few days I awaited my Note’s arrival, I definitely pretended I hadn’t ordered it and that things would go on forever with my iPhone. “Denial is easy to go into because it staves off any pain,” Tsilimparis said. Indeed.

And, anger? Oh, yeah, I’d felt this. Like the dozens of times my iPhone would take 20 minutes to load my e-mails or refused to pick up a Wi-Fi signal even though I’d practically glued it to the router. Maybe that’s not the kind of anger Ross was talking about, but I definitely felt some.

There was also a bit of bargaining. “Bargaining is a little tricky,” Tsilimparis said. “Bargaining is like, ‘Well, at least I knew this person for certain amount of time, or at least we had a good relationship.’ It’s kind of like, ‘I still don’t want to feel feelings, but in my head I try to make it OK for myself.’” I definitely bargained with my iPhone, assuring it that it would always be kept around as my favorite music player (as I quickly turned out the lights and left it attached to the ’90s-era CD player in our kitchen).

Depression? That came more from shelling out 700 bucks for the Galaxy Note 3, but otherwise, I’m mostly good. And acceptance? Well, when the new phone arrived, I accepted the package pretty damn quick.

Creatures of consistency
Tsilimparis stressed that humans like their habits. “We take a lot of comfort in things being consistent, being solid, and having stability [in our] lives,” he said. “Human beings don’t do well with instability.”

Aha. This seemed like the right explanation for everything I’d been feeling about betraying my iPhone for a tech tete-a-tete with Samsung. But the advice Tsilimparis gave me that I found most comforting had to do with giving my emotions space to breathe.

“I would tell people that if you’re feeling anxious about a change to just let it be the change and allow yourself a couple of months to be in a process orientation where you’re not going to make judgments after one week or three weeks; you’re going to give it two months and if you still don’t like it after two months it’s OK to go back,” Tsilimparis counseled. A reassuring thought. I knew I had some time to return the Note for a full refund after getting it, so maybe I’d wind up keeping the ole iPhone in the end.

Resolution at last
But here’s what turned out to be the best therapy of all: opening the Note 3. When I got that big beautiful slab of silicon and strontium in my hands, my adjustment disorder turned into a serious case of attachment disorder and the only thing I was grieving about was not having made the change sooner. Sure, there are a few things I miss about my iPhone (I plan to write about those soon), but I’m ready to move on.

Sorry, dear iPhone, it turns out I didn’t really need therapy to get over you. All I needed was to hold the future in my hands. And it felt good.

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Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 3GB Review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK price (as reviewed): £479.75 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): N/A
Preferred Partner Price: £498.94 (inc VAT)

While the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 has been with us for a while now, it usually takes a while for graphics partners to begin churning out custom-designed and pre water-cooled models. Even by these standards, though, Asus’ latest offering is decidely late to the party. It does have an excuse though, as this isn’t just any old graphics card with a waterblock slapped onto it; the Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 has a hybrid cooler that can use either air cooling or water cooling. Oh, and the card is pre-overclocked too.

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review
To be clear, then, the Poseidon GTX 780 doesn’t use an all-in-one liquid cooler but literally has a waterblock with G1/4in threads waiting to be hooked up to a full water-cooling loop. This waterblock also doubles as the heatsink for the air-cooler, which also takes advantage of three heat-pipes and an extra array of fins. Two 90mm dust-proof fans take care of the air supply and they (hopefully) spin right down if you add some H20 into the equation.

As well as all this custom cooling there are plenty of other additions to the PCB too. There’s a row of enhanced power circuitry at the rear of the PCB with 10-phase power, super alloy chokes, hardended MOSFETs plus black metallic solid-state capacitors. Combined, Asus claims these offer 20 per cent better temperature endurance, longer lifespan, 30 per cent less power noise and increased overclocking potential as a result.

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review
The Poseidon sports a fairly typical overclock for the GTX 780 out of the box, with a 954MHz core speed, boosting up to 1,006MHz, and a memory clock of 1,502MHz (6.008GHz effective).

Thankfully, the additional power circuitry and larger cooler means that the Poseidon is only 20mm longer than a reference GTX 780 at 287mm, plus it keeps its dual-slot status too. However, as with many custom coolers, it’s the width you’ll mostly likely have issues with – at 137mm it’s pretty large, and that’s not including the addition of water-cooling barbs. Even using 90-degree fittings will likely add another 30mm or so on to this. This is something to be aware of particularly if you’re not sporting a large tower case, although it fits fine in vertically GPU-mounted cases such as BitFenix’s Prodigy and the like.

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review
As far as price goes, the cheapest GTX 780 we could find at the time of writing was around £370. The asking price for the Poseidon is £485, which is clearly rather expensive in comparison, especially as, looking around, pretty much all the GTX 780 examples we could find were overclocked and came with custom coolers too.

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review
However, when you consider that your average full cover GPU waterblock retails for anywhere between £80 and £120, the price starts to make more sense. Furthermore, it stands to reason that Poseidon will likely appeal to those that can’t be doing with the hassle of fitting their own waterblocks. But to even stand a chance of recommendation, it needs to perform at least close to as well as a custom waterblock. We shall see.

Asus ROG Poseidon GTX 780 Review

Specifications

  • Graphics processor Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 3GB, 954GHz
  • Pipeline 2,304 stream processors, 194 texture units, 48 ROPs
  • Memory 3GB GDDR5, 6GHz effective
  • Bandwidth 288GB/sec, 384-bit interface
  • Compatibility Direct X 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, Mantle
  • Outputs/Inputs Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Power connections 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin PCI-E, side-mounted
  • Size 287mm, dual slot
  • Warranty Three years

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Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review

January 6th, 2014 No comments

Steiger Dynamics I LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review

Manufacturer: Steiger Dynamics
UK Price (as reviewed): £1,100 (approx)
US Price (as reviewed): $1,799 (ex TAX)

There’s little doubt that high-end PCs continue to sell, even as the market as a whole is contracting. Better graphics, 4K gaming, rendering and editing – they’re all things that mobile devices and consoles can’t match, although to be fair, your average high-end gaming PC also costs a lot more. There are plenty of people out there willing to pay for these little boxes of bragging rights, though, and Los Angeles-based Steiger Dynamics focusses on a rather unusual niche in the PC industry.

Its HTPCs give most gaming PCs a run for their money and some of the top end models include multiple graphics cards and even custom water cooling. The idea behind them is something co-founder and CTO Martin Gossner told us when we spoke to him recently:

”Our Windows-based HTPCs can basically integrate all the functionality of today’s living room devices like HD Satellite and Cable TV, Blu-ray disc playback, media center, home server, home automation, and high-end gaming

Those are not only integrated, but done better: Watch and record up to 8 HD TV channels simultaneously or spread the signals to TVs in the house. When it comes to gaming and processing power, our base systems already outpace the new generations of consoles while our top-of-the line system is about 10 times faster than the new Xbox One.”

Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review
HTPC’s might lack the finesse of the latest smart TV’s and set-top boxes, but their flexibility still means that they’re the all-rounders of the living room and from the sheer number of HTPC-based projects in our modding forum, we’re pretty sure that bit-tech reader’s are keen on them too. So lets take a closer look at the LEET Pure HTPC.

Amazingly, despite the price tag, the Pure is actually at the lower end of the LEET range of systems, with the top-end Reference range offering LGA2011 systems along with pre-overclocked CPUs, custom water cooling and SLI graphics. That said, it’s certainly no slouch if you’re looking for some gaming grunt in your living room to deal with the latest Steam titles but if you’re just after the case, then Steiger Dynamics offers these separately too.

Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review
The large touch screen has been tweaked to show a custom system display made by Steiger Dynamics but as it stems from Soundgraph, you can tap into the software it offers too. Steiger Dynamics also offers WMC remotes and TV tuner cards too as options so the system is fairly flexible, just as an Origen AE case would be. For warranty, there’s a full three year’s cover in the US. Steiger Dynamics does ship both LEET Systems and cases worldwide, and with the former, you’d need to identify the fault yourself, with or without guidance from its customer care service and either ship the faulty part back at cost for a replacement, or contact the local service centre for that hardware. It’s not ideal but in all fairness, with a lone US base, it’s going to be very challenging for anyone to offer a full warranty to overseas customers.

Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Home Theatre PC Review
Our sample of the LEET Pure included a Intel Core i7-4770K overclocked to 4.3GHz sitting in an Asus Z87 Pro motherboard with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance 1,600MHz memory and an EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB at the helm. There’s no discrete sound card as standard, but Steiger Dynamics offers options of an Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1 and RME HDSPe AES Professional Sound Card if you’re planning on hooking the system up to some quality audio hardware.

Specifications

  • CPU Intel Core i7-4770K @ 4.3GHz
  • Motherboard Asus Z87 Pro
  • RAM 16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance 1,600MHz
  • Graphics card EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2GB
  • Case LEET Reference
  • CPU Cooler Corsair H80i with Scythe Gentle Typhoon fan
  • Storage 2 x 120GB Kingston HyperX 3K SSD in RAID 0, 4TB WD Red hard disk
  • Optical DrivePioneer BDR-208DBK Blu-ray player/DVD Rewriter
  • Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
  • Warranty US – 3 year parts and labour, worldwide – local manufacturer part replacement / return to base part replacement

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