Archive for the ‘PC’ Category

There has been a lot of movement in the media with the upcoming release of Intel’s 3rd generation CPUs, codename Ivy Bridge, and what’s better than teasing people with random (and doubtful) benchmark results? What about motherboards?

The green flag was lifted a couple of weeks ago, allowing the public announcement and retail of next gen motherboards compatible with Ivy Bridge. So far, only the Z77 motherboards have been released, though no word on the P and H series (if they actually plan on releasing those).

Do remember that this next generation platform will allow the use of PCI Express generation 3, with double the bandwith compared to generation 2 (example: 16x on PCI-E 3.0 is equivalent to running on a PCI-E 2.0 slot with double the bandwith. 8x PCI-E 3.0 is equivalent to running on a 16x PCI-E 2.0 slot), and a new version of LucidLogic’s Virtu, called Virtu MVP. This new one allows a better hybridization between the CPU graphics and the GPU, also allowing 2 new modes to the control panel.

Also, all Ivy Bridge motherboards are backwards compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, though lacking the core features such as PCI-E 3.0. So if you use a Sandy Bridge system and want to buy a new Z77 motherboard while you wait for the CPUs to come out, you have green light.

Apart from the new motherboards, there has been some rumors that the new generation isn’t as “innovative” as Intel said. Something similar to the “FAIL”dozer episode from AMD, making a new socket that ended up being more unstable than the previous generation.
Even though Intel has a free road ahead now that AMD is “out” of the CPU market, I still don’t see a logic point for them to release a new die so fast, while having no competitors. Also, people are expecting good stuff from Haswell, instead of Ivy Bridge.

There are some benchmark results out there in the internet, but since Intel hasn’t lifted the NDA on anything related to the CPUs, it’s kinda hard to believe on that data. But from the looks of it, it’s just a slight upgrade compared to Sandy Bridge, something similar to the PCI-E bandwith benefits (like 16x – 8x – 4x being nearly 2% better one from another). Anyways, there’s a rumored date near April 21st for Ivy Bridge comercial launch, but until then, time will tell if it’s worth the upgrade from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge or not (Let’s be honest. There are few PCI-E 3.0 GPUs out there, and you can only use the full 3.0 potential while using a capable CPU, since it’s not controlled by the chipset itself but the CPU).

Anyways, my PC build is still on hold, since Ivy Bridge got my attention, and I’m planning to get them no matter what (unless they’re worse than Sandy Bridge, of course). Also, certain Z77 motherboards are cheaper next to some Z68 boards. Right now, I’m focused on a new project with my air ventilation system, while learning about the positive and negative air pressure theories.

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(late) Happy holidays, new year, lunar year and valentine’s day. And congrats to all ladies today. No, I’m not dead.

It’s a new year, and we’re still looking at some interesting news on the tech world. We had the MWC 2012 in Barcelona, with the new smartphones, new mobile technologies and more questions from Google about Ice Cream Sandwich. CES 2012 during January, showing the upcoming gadgets, fancy slim LED TVs and HUGE TVs.

In the computer world, we saw AMD launching the next generation of Radeon GPU cards, the 7000 family, Intel releasing the replacement for the X58 platform, the X79 chipset and socket LGA2011, featuring the newest 2nd generation Core i7 CPUs, Quad-channel memory slots, and ridiculous prices. NVIDIA releasing more “teasers” of their new Kepler chipset (supposed to be a 22nm die) running (in my honest opinion) one of the best tech demos ever: Samaritan, with a single card. Do note that the Samaritan tech demo is not a new thing, since it was “teased” during last year running on not one, but THREE GeForce GTX 580 in 3-Way SLI. Even though it’s a tech demo based on the Unreal Engine 3, it looks like that could be the next Unreal Engine.

Back to Intel, they have released more information about the 3rd generation of Core i processors, Ivy Bridge, from CPU names to frequecies and new technologies (yes, technology is a key word on this post).

One thing that comes to my mind is the fact that both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge will be on the market at the same time, which could lead to confusion when it’s about choosing a new system. People could make a mistake getting a SB motherboard with an Ivy Bridge CPU.

At least for me, there has been some confusion between both chipsets. True, both of them use the same LGA1155 socket, but are they backward compatible?

Yes and we still don’t know.

Ivy Bridge motherboards are actually backward compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, so if you want to upgrade your “cheap” H61 or H67 motherboard with the new Z77 ones, you’re good to go. The opposite is still a “mistery”.

As far as I’m concerned, there are some “G3” motherboards out there that are, according to their manufacturer, Ivy Bridge compatible, which means those motherboards will get a special BIOS update to support the new CPUs.

I’m kinda specific with the “G3 stepping”, since those have the new PCI-Express 3.0 ports, supporting up to TWICE the bandwith from the previous generation. What about the regular boards? There are no news about them getting a BIOS update.

What about you? Planning to buy a new Intel system? Upgrading from a previous generation chipset? Moving from AMD? Or changing your old Sandy Bridge rig for a new Ivy Bridge rig?

If you’ve been checking my blog, you probably had a look to the Falcon Northwest Mach V NVIDIA special edition PC, aka the $10k rig, featured in the GeForce LAN Party 6 in San Francisco.

Well, there are more news from Falcon Northwest. With the upcoming release of the new Intel chipset, the X79, and the new socket, LGA2011 (which is, in fact, the succesor of the old X58/LGA1366 platform), they’ll be adding more “mod” options to the Mach V.
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When we talk about custom PCs, we’re talking about what we want, not what those companies “forces” you to buy (yes, I’m looking at you DeLL/Alienware…). Sure, certain websites allows you to “customize” your branded PC by adding, removing or changing certain parts (RAM models. video cards, CPUs, CPU coolers, just to name a few).

Of course, changing parts may increase or decrease the total value of a PC (most of times, it goes up. Funny, isn’t it?), but you know you’re paying for “quality over brands” (Yeah, not quantity, but quality parts).

These brands, like CyberPower and MAINGEAR (heck, even NCIX and Alienware), allows you to build your own PC from scratch, or following a template of their “branded” PCs. What happens when you go nuts choosing the best of the very best? Some crazy stuff like $5k builds may roam around (I laughed when I saw the total price on a crazy quad 480 system I checked).

Others may offer special edition builds, featuring either “best bang for the buck” pieces, or the cutting edge technology, and even customization (paint color, LEDs, full watercooling systems, etc.).

During NVIDIA’s GeForce LAN Party 6 in San Francisco, alongside with Falcon Northwest (one of the best custom PC stores in the states), they decided to raffle the most expensive DESKTOP PC on the planet: The Mach V NVIDIA edition. There were around 50 raffle tickets on game: Single tickets at $200 per, 2 free tickets for the tournament’s grand champions, and a lucky draw.

Yes, just by saying NVIDIA edition, something pops immediately on our head: Green paint. Yes, true that. But apart from that, the inside of that monster is what makes it expensive as heck.

To name a few pieces:

  • Intel Core i7 990x Extreme Processor at stock speeds.
  • ASUS Republic of Gamers Rampage III Extreme motherboard.
  • 48 GB of DDR3 RAM (yes. FOURTY EIGHT Gigs of RAM. That’s 6 times 8GB).
  • Water cooling system for the CPU (Falcon NW branded).
  • Case Falcon NW ICON2. Only sold with Mach V systems. It makes use of “cooling zones”, optimizing the airflow and leaving all the case heat on the top of the case, at the GPU exhaust vents. No side window.
  • 2 Crucial M4 256GB SSDs in RAID0 config.
  • 2TB HDD for storage.
  • LG Blu-Ray burner.
  • Not just the case, but the keyboard and mouse as well are painted in NVIDIA green, with the ICON2 details (eagle logos, white stripes, etc).
  • What about the video cards? Yeah. If they used a $1k CPU in there, you may already know what’s on the video department: The ASUS MARS II.

    And not just one. TWO cards. In SLI mode, featuring a QUAD SLI system. Which PSU they used? No idea, but the MARS II box says you need at least a 1kW PSU to run that card.

    According to Elric from motherboards.org (who organized an interview with the lucky winner of the raffle), this PC, out of the box, is inside the Top 20 PCs in the world, that means, no OC at all. I wonder what would happen if you push it a lil bit further (both the CPU and the GPUs can be clocked waaaaaay higher than their “mid tier” counterparts)… Maybe Top 5? Top 3 perhaps? Could it be the fastest PC on earth?

    Here’s the interview:

    Congratulations to the lucky winner, and there you go my friends: A custom ~$10k desktop PC that will last for a looong time… Or until something inside explodes because of the awesome factor haha!

    And I know. I keep saying DESKTOP, because it is a desktop PC. Sure, they could have popped an EVGA SR-2 and change the CPU for 2 high end Xeon processors, but in my honest opinion, that’s a server, not a gaming rig (though people do use Xeon chips for gaming rigs…). To each, their own.

    3d is something that was forgotten in the past, but came back to life with the new technologies (bye bye to those, still useful, blue+red/red+green glasses and hello to transparent glass), but, in my honest opinion, is still on diapers.

    The stereoscopy is now used from standard TVs, and a more advanced version on mobile devices, like the HTC EVO 3D or the LG Optimus 3D, and even handheld devices, like the Nintendo 3DS.

    But, apart from movies, and “transforming” regular 2D images into 3D (depending on the TV or monitor), gaming is a nice target for 3D content, and if you ask me, driving and FPS are like the “flagship” of 3D gaming (OH NOEZ BULLETS COMING TO ME!!).

    Sony, or rather I should say Playstation, has released a monitor aimed for PS3/PC gaming, digital TV and 3D: the Playstation 3D Display.

    Okay. it’s from Sony, it’s a 24″ 3D monitor, and it has a nice shape (reminds me of the PSP Go screen). What’s the catch? Just one thing.

    The Playstation 3D Display comes with a new technology, called SimulView. The main idea of SimulView is to avoid splitted screens when you play a local multiplayer game on your PS3, as example. Both player 1 and player 2 will watch a FULL screen view of their original “split-screen” section. Player 1 won’t be able to see Player 2 screen and vice-versa (I believe this will work pairing your wireless glasses to a “controller”). Basically: “One display, one game, 2 different full screen images”. Note that SimulView won’t work on 3D, only 2D.

    As mentioned above, the Playstation 3D display is not just a 3D display, but works with any other device with HD/component output, such as cable TV, a VoD system, a PC, etc.

    Sony is selling the Playstation 3D display bundle, with MotorStorm: Apocalypse, the Playstation 3D glasses (wireless glasses, almost compatible with any 3D display on the market) and a 1.4a HDMI cable for $499,99.

    Here’s the promo video, featuring the SimulView Technology:

    Sadly that it’s a 24″ display. I’d get one in the act if it were at least 32″ as minimum, but since one of the possible uses for it would be as a PC monitor, some people would think that 32″ is “too big”.

    ASUS RoG Mars II: Really that limited?

    Posted: August 30, 2011 in PC
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    Republic of Gamers. No, that’s not the name of a new gamer-only country that appeared on the map. It’s the well-known brand from ASUSTeK (aka ASUS) designed for gamers and overclockers alike.

    ASUS gaming brand

    From cutting-edge motherboards, highly optimized graphics cards and laptops, this has been one of the favorite brands for enthusiast/extreme builders.

    A new product has been released from this department. The successor of the original MARS card (dual GTX 285 on a single card), the MARS II. (more…)

    Cooler Master N520 review

    Posted: June 30, 2011 in PC
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    Gotta admit… I got this CPU cooler 2 months ago and I totally forgot to finish my blog post about it. Yeah, I tend to forget some stuff.

    Since I’m still buying what’s left of my new PC (and if my parents give me green light on the budget, I’ll be able to build a 2nd PC, so I can upgrade this one), I decided to get a custom CPU cooler rather than relying on Intel’s stock cooler, and believe me. I saw tons of different ones, from 3rd party (aka “Who on earth are those guys…”) to Noctua. In the end, I decided to get the Cooler Master Hyper N520.  (more…)