Razer Kiyo and Seiren X set the stage for streaming excellence
— 5:00 PM on October 20, 2017

I've watched a lot of game streams, and I've streamed a bit myself. However, poor audio or video will make me stop watching a stream real fast. Razer has a couple products poised to prepare streamers for professional-grade productions: the Kiyo camera and the Seiren X microphone.

Razer Kiyo

Most people don't have good lighting setups near their computer for video recording, something that tends to result in blurry or otherwise poor-quality streams. The Kiyo purports to bypass this problem with its built-in lighting. Razer says that the twelve configurable brightness levels on the Kiyo's LED lamp eliminate the need for low-light compensation modes in the camera. The Kiyo can record or stream in 1280x720 at up to 60 FPS, or in 1920x1080 at up to 30 FPS. The camera can be used sitting on a desk or attached to a monitor.

Razer Seiren X

The Kiyo includes an omnidirectional microphone, but there are better options if you're serious about audio quality. Instead, you can pick up a device like the Razer Seiren X, a USB desktop condenser microphone with a shock-absorbing mount to filter out your keyboard mashing. The Seiren X's signal-to-noise ratio is 85 dB. The microphone's super-cardioid sensitivity pattern is fairly tight, too, meaning there's a relatively narrow angle from which it can pick up unwanted noise. Although Razer doesn't list the Seiren X's exact size, judging from the pictures, its base is about as wide as a mouse. The fairly compact dimensions should make it easy to place and use on a desk.

Razer has the Kiyo camera and Seiren X microphone up for sale on its web shop, although the Kiyo is currently showing as out of stock. Either device will run you $100. The company says the products will hit other shops and physical stores at the beginning of next year.

18 comments — Last by David at 11:25 AM on 10/22/17

MSI Cubi 3 Silent and Silent S can be seen but not heard
— 4:10 PM on October 20, 2017

I can remember a time when having any type of computer in a room meant listening to the whine of spinning disk drives and the whoosh of high-RPM fans. Those days are over, and MSI's Cubi 3 Silent and Cubi 3 Silent S serve as evidence. Both machines pack enough horsepower for most tasks thanks to their 15 W Intel Kaby Lake-U processors and up to 32 GB of DDR4. Fans of silence will appreciate the machines' complete and total lack of any bladed spinny implements. The Silent and the Silent S are quite similar apart from the presence of a second Ethernet jack and a pair of serial ports on the S model.

MSI isn't saying what specific Kaby Lake-U models will be used in the Cubi 3 Silent and Silent S, but they will be seventh-generation models familiar to laptop shoppers. The machines will be sold as barebones, so users will need to supply their own storage and 2133 MT/s DDR4 SODIMMs. Both Cubi 3 Silent models can fit one M.2 NVMe or SATA device, and a 2.5" SATA SSD or hard drive.

The Cubi 3 Silent PCs have a pair of USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a four-pole audio jack on the front, plus two USB 2.0 ports on the side. The back of the Silent model has DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, and two more USB 3.0 Type-A ports. The Silent S adds a second Gigabit Ethrenet jack along with DB-9 and RJ-45 serial ports. Both machines can talk without wires thanks to an Intel 3168 802.11ac Wi-Fi card with Bluetooth 4.2 support. The bottom of the aluminum chassis has a VESA hole pattern for mounting to the back of a monitor or television. That bottom panel is easily removeable for installing or upgrading memory or storage devices.

Both machines have the same 6.3" wide, 4.3" tall, 2.7" deep (16 cm x 11 cm x 7 cm) chassis and 2.8 lb (1.3 kg) weight. MSI isn't talking prices just yet, but TechPowerUp says the Cubi3 Silent and Cubi 3 Silent S should be available around the world with black or silver finishes by the end of the month.

12 comments — Last by jihadjoe at 9:53 PM on 10/22/17

Massdrop's Vast 35" VA display lives up to its name
— 2:40 PM on October 20, 2017

Thanks to the ready availability of VR headsets as nerdy toys, there's been a huge uptick in the number of discussions about field of view. I don't know a lot about VR, but I can tell you that filling your view with a huge monitor is a great way to improve immersion in video games. One such display is Massdrop's Vast 35" ultra-widescreen monitor with FreeSync.

The site requires registration to see the goodies, but we have the info in hand. The display has a 35" VA panel with a 3440x1440 resolution and a 2500:1 static contrast ratio. Maximum brightness is 300 cd/m², and the FreeSync range goes from 49 Hz to 100 Hz. A 35" ultra-wide display has around the same height as a 28" standard widescreen monitor, but the extra width can really improve immersion in first-person games.

That feeling of immersion is further improved on curved displays, and the Vast is bent in the ever-popular 1800R curvature. As an owner of an 1800R monitor myself, I can assure you that even if the curvature doesn't improve your gaming experience, it certainly won't look any worse. Massdrop describes the monitor's frame as "bent aluminum" and also notes that it has a 3H anti-glare coating. There are no onboard speakers, which is probably a good thing.

Owners will be able to hook up to the Massdrop Vast at its full resolution and refresh rate using HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2. There are also a pair of HDMI 1.4 connections that can drive the display at 60 Hz. Massdrop members—which could include you as registration is free—have ten days left to join the drop and pick up a Vast monitor for only $550. The company expects to ship the monitors by January 18 next year.

29 comments — Last by Kretschmer at 8:31 PM on 10/22/17

Spitballing the performance of Nvidia's purported GTX 1070 Ti
— 1:08 PM on October 20, 2017

The smoke around Nvidia's purported GeForce GTX 1070 Ti has become too thick to ignore of late. We've seen full specs of the card leak over the past few weeks, and a prematurely-posted product page from board partner KFA2 (spotted by the folks at Hexus, and now removed) has more or less confirmed that such a card is coming. We don't know exactly when such a product might arrive yet, but that's not stopping me from pulling out my top-secret Excel spreadsheet and making some predictions about where a presumable GTX 1070 Ti will sit in today's graphics-card pantheon. I've done it before, and my predictions turned out to be dead-on, so hey. Let's do it again.

RX 580 1257 1340 32 144 2304 256 256 GB/s 8 GB 185 W
GTX 1060 6GB 1506 1708 48 80 1152 192 192 GB/s 6 GB 120 W
GTX 1070 1506 1683 64 120 1920 256 256 GB/s 8 GB 150 W
RX Vega 56 1156 1471 64 224 3584 2048 410 GB/s 8 GB 210 W
GTX 1070 Ti? 1607? 1683? 64? 152? 2432? 256? 256 GB/s? 8 GB? 180 W?
RX Vega 64 1274 1546 64 256 4096 2048 484 GB/s 8 GB 295 W
GTX 1080 1607 1733 64 160 2560 256 320 GB/s 8 GB 180 W
GTX 1080 Ti 1480 1582 64 224 3584 352 484 11 GB 250 W
Titan Xp 1405 1585 96 240 3840 384 547 GB/s 12 GB 250 W

Courtesy of the team at Tech ARP (via Hexus), we have a list of specs that was apparently confirmed by the product page posted by KFA2. The GTX 1070 Ti will almost certainly use a less-neutered version of the GP104 GPU that underpins the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080.

A block diagram of a possible GP104 GPU for the GTX 1070 Ti

Of the 20 Pascal streaming multiprocessors on board GP104, the GTX 1070 Ti will purportedly have 19 of them active, for a total of 2432 shader processors, 152 texture units, and 64 ROPs. Those figures are only slightly behind the resources of the GTX 1080's, so the GTX 1070 Ti might sit uncomfortably close to that card in Nvidia's product stack (at least reference clock for reference clock). We'll see just how close in a moment.

A potential KFA2 GTX 1070 Ti. Source: KFA2

The biggest difference between the GTX 1070 Ti and GTX 1080 will apparently be in the lesser card's memory subsystem. Where the GTX 1080 uses 8 GB of GDDR5X RAM clocked at 10 GT/s or 11 GT/s, the hypothetical GTX 1070 Ti might stick with 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 8 GT/s. That means the pumped-up GTX 1070 could offer just 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth, down substantially from the GTX 1080's 320 GB/s at reference speeds.

  Peak pixel
fill rate


Radeon RX 580 43 193/96 5.4 6.2
GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 82 137/137 3.4 4.4
GeForce GTX 1070 108 202/202 5 7
Radeon RX Vega 56 94 330/165 5.9 10.2
GeForce GTX 1070 Ti? 108? 256/256? 6.7? 8.2?
Radeon RX Vega 64 99 396/198 6.2 12.7
GeForce GTX 1080 111 277/277 6.9 8.9
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 139 354/354 9.5 11.3
Nvidia Titan Xp 152 380/380 9.5 11.3

The beefed-up GTX 1070 Ti doesn't gain any extra pixel fill rate compared to its less-shiny forebear, but its peak texturing and compute capabilities make it a better match for the RX Vega 56. The green team doesn't seem willing to let its competitor hold even a dead heat in the graphics-card horse race, it seems. It'll remain to be seen how Nvidia manages to keep the GTX 1070 Ti from cannibalizing GTX 1080 sales, though, given how closely-matched the cards are in almost every measure of theoretical performance we can bring to bear.

A potential bare GTX 1070 Ti board. Source: KFA2

Some rumors suggest that all GTX 1070 Ti cards will be locked to the same frequencies, though those rumors really don't make a ton of sense given that GPU Boost 3.0 is a thing. Maybe Nvidia intends to limit the headroom of that dynamic clock scheme on the GTX 1070 Ti. We won't know for sure until official details emerge.

20 comments — Last by freebird at 6:41 PM on 10/22/17

Friday deals: a huge monitor, racing gear, audio, and more
— 11:45 AM on October 20, 2017

Howdy gerbils! I have bad news for you. The fires here in Portugal did not hit my place, so you're still stuck with me. You didn't think you'd get rid of me so easily, did you? Dark and burnt humor aside, it's roughly a month until Black Friday, and that means we have to practice hunting deals down. Here's what we have today.

  • Kicking things off in grand fashion, we have the LG 34UB88-P monitor. It may not have the most stylish of names, but it has a near-bezel-free 34" ultra-wide IPS panel with a resolution of 3440x1440. The display can reproduce 99% of the sRGB color space, and there's FreeSync support on tap. The maximum refresh rate is 75 Hz. Additional niceties include two Thunderbolt ports, and USB ports with quick charging support. Grab one of these monitors for $479.99 from Newegg if you use the promo code EMCBRBK63.

  • You're dying to play the recently-released Project Cars 2, but a quality set of a racing wheel and pedals is expensive. Not today. The Thrustmaster T300RS GT set has a detachable metal-backed steering wheel that can turn up to 1080°, and a set of three metal pedals. If US gerbils are wondering, that third pedal is for something called a "clutch." Amazon will happily sell you the set for $299.99.

  • There's no deals day without discounted storage. Today we have two such offers. The first is the Toshiba P300 3TB 7200 RPM internal drive that's going for $74.99 at Newegg with the code EMCBRCR32. If you prefer your hard drives outside your PC's case, then take a look at the Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB external drive that Newegg will hand you in exchange for $89.99 if you use the promo code 17CTAUYG33.

  • Finally, we have some music for your ears. First up is the Pioneer VSX-LX101 7.2 receiver with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This box o' watts can push 80W per channel and supports both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. Grab one from Newegg for $399.99 while stocks last, and get a $150 gift card with your purchase—enough for some surround speakers or maybe a small subwoofer.

  • If you prefer your music or movie listening during the quiet hours, you'll be well-served by the Audio-Technica ATH-AD1000X headphones. These open-back cans have 53-mm drivers and suede ear pads. Oh, and they sound great, naturally. Grab them from Newegg for $229 while stocks last and get a $60 gift card, which might come in handy for the item below.

  • The Schiit Magni Uber 2 is a well-regarded US-made headphone amplifier capable of driving high-end headphones with aplomb. It's also fodder for a number of jokes on the manufacturer's name, but we're above such frivolities here at TR. We'd never stoop so low as to say this amp is the Schiit, or that it's really good Schiit, or perhaps that we Schiit you not when we say you can get it for only $79 from Amazon.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at the Microsoft Store and Das Keyboard's shop.

21 comments — Last by BIF at 4:59 PM on 10/22/17

G.Skill 3800 MT/s SO-DIMMs put lightning in tiny bottles
— 10:46 AM on October 20, 2017

Laptop memory slots are the usual domain of SO-DIMMs, but a seemingly-increasing number of console-size-and-smaller gaming PCs are also using the parts. G.Skill's latest memory is designed to bring high memory clocks to gamers playing RAM-speed-starved titles like Arma 3. The company claims its 3800 MT/s DDR4 Ripjaws SO-DIMMs are the fastest modules available in the form factor. The company unveiled sticks in three speed bins, all using Samsung B-die integrated circuits and operating at 1.35 V.

The fastest kits are the aforementioned 3800 MT/s modules. These speedy SO-DIMMs run at CL18-18-18-38 timings and are offered in a four-module kit with a total capacity of 32 GB. G.Skill demonstrated the sticks running at their advertised speeds with an Asrock X299E-ITX/ac motherboard and an Intel Core i9-7900X processor. The company is also offering up 32 GB, four-unit 3600 MT/s kits with tighter CL16-16-16-36 timings. The third and final speed bin is made of 3200 MT/s SO-DIMMs with the same CL16-16-16-36 timings. Four-stick kits in this speed grade are available with total capacities of 32 GB or 64 GB.

G.Skill says the little speed demon modules should be available in December, though the company wasn't ready to talk about prices just yet. Given their place at the head of the SO-DIMM speed table, their association with quad-channel-RAM platforms, and current DRAM market conditions, we'd expect the kits to be pricey. G.Skill backs all of its memory modules with a lifetime warranty.

9 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 5:42 AM on 10/22/17

Cooler Master bedazzles the MasterLiquid Lite ML120L and ML240L
— 9:03 AM on October 20, 2017

Here at TR, we know what you gerbils want. When you're shopping for a closed-loop liquid cooling solution, there's only one thing on your mind: RGB LEDs. We feel the same way. That's why we're really excited about the release of Cooler Master's MasterLiquid Lite ML120L RGB and ML240L RGB. These coolers are functionally identical to the standard MasterLiquid Lite products, but they add scintillating streams of sparkling color on both the fans and the pump.

Jokes aside, we actually didn't talk much about the MasterLiquid Lites so I'll take the opportunity to do that now. These units are closed-loop liquid coolers available with 120-mm or 240-mm radiators. The radiators themselves are actually even slimmer than those included with EK's CoolStream kits, at 1.1" thick (27 mm). Cooler Master doesn't mention the fins-per-inch (FPI) value, but judging from the pictures, it looks pretty high.

The included fans are Cooler Master's own MF120R RGB fans. Cooler Master says that aside from the added lighting, these fans also include a specialized driver IC that purportedly reduces fan noise. There's a three-button controller in the box to set the lights' color, brightness, and pattern. Alternatively, you can hook up the MasterLiquid Lite ML120L RGB and ML240L RGB to seemingly any motherboard with an RGB LED header to master the light show. The block itself will hook up to any recent socket except for AMD's colossal TR4.

Cooler Master just put up the product pages for these two coolers, so we don't yet have word on an official release date. They're already up for sale on Newegg, though—as long as you don't mind buying from Hong Kong. The seller is asking $95 for the ML120L RGB, while the dual-fan ML240L RGB wears a $115 price tag.

4 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 5:54 AM on 10/22/17

Razer Electra V2 offers affordable immersion
— 4:30 PM on October 19, 2017

Razer's got a couple of new headsets that the company says are aimed at "value-conscious" gamers. The Razer Electra V2 and Electra V2 USB are revised versions of the original Electra headset and have been updated with improvements to comfort and quality. The standard Electra V2 headset only has a four-pole 3.5-mm analog connector, while the Electra V2 USB offers an optional USB connection. Both models support 7.1 surround sound virtualization with the Razer Surround software.

The analog connections on both Electra V2 models let them work with game consoles as well as PCs. Meanwhile, the Electra V2 USB has green LED-backlit Razer logos on the outside. Both models have a flexible microphone that can be bent into place or removed entirely. As an upgrade from the original Electra headset, the Electra V2s have an aluminum frame that keeps the headset in place regardless of how you adjust the headrest.

Inside the Electra V2s, you'll find 40-mm "custom-tuned" neodymium drivers. The headsets include volume and mute controls, but if you want to change tracks you'll have to reach for your device. You can control the USB version's LED lights using Razer Synapse.

Razer says the Electra V2 headsets bring high-end options into the reach of mere mortals, and their pricing is fairly affordable. The standard Electra V2 with the TRRS connector is available now on Razer's web shop for $60. The version with the optional USB connection is $10 more at $70.

8 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 5:56 AM on 10/22/17

Samsung 360 Round camera captures the world from all angles
— 2:55 PM on October 19, 2017

You've probably seen 3D cameras, and you've probably seen 360° cameras. You may even have seen a 3D 360° camera—a 3D60 camera, if you will. Well, Samsung just announced the 360 Round, its take on the concept. This puck-like device comes equipped with seventeen individual digital cameras. The 360 Round can record or live-stream a 360° video in up to 4096x2048 resolution at 30 FPS. Naturally, it can also be used to take 360° panoramic photos.

Samsung is aiming this device at capturing VR content. Since positional audio is a critical part of the VR experience, the 360 Round has six microphones to capture spatial audio. Coupled with the right setup and a high-quality VR headset (like that Pimax 8K), and the 360 Round could provide a highly realistic telepresence experience. The 30 FPS framerate isn't all that high, although Samsung says that that's a per-eye measurement in stereo mode.

Users can hook up to the 360 Round using a USB Type-C port or a Gigabit Ethernet jack. The USB port can also be used to record onto an external drive, and there's a spot for slotting in a UHS-II SD card. The 360 Round also has two connections for external microphones. Like other 360 cameras, Samsung built in accelerometer and gyrometer sensors so that the camera knows which way it's oriented.

If you're planning on live-streaming a place to your buddies in VR, we hope you have a beefy rig. Samsung recommends that folks streaming video from the 360 Round are using at least a Core i7-6950X CPU, 32 GB of dual-channel memory, and a pair of GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards. Even for just recording video, the company recommends a Core i7-6700K, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a GeForce GTX 1080. Samsung says the 360 Round will be available later this month.

11 comments — Last by designerfx at 5:31 AM on 10/21/17

National Seafood Bisque Day Shortbread
— 1:30 PM on October 19, 2017

My apologies to the chef, but that bisque looks kinda nasty.

PC hardware and computing

  1. Office network upgrade part 1: infrastructure @ PC Perspective
  2. pi-top gets kids building modular laptops @ New Atlas
  3. Swiftpoint Z mouse review @ bit-tech (a $230 mouse, eek!)
  4. Noctua NH-U14S air vs. Enermax Liqtech 240 liquid cooler for Threadripper @ Gamers Nexus
  5. Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 3 motherboard review @ HardOCP
  6. Cooler Master MasterWatt 650W review @ Hexus
  7. Mesh Liquid P3 KG Thermaltake liquid-cooled system review @ KitGuru
  8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga OLED review @ Neowin
  9. Roccat Isku+ Force FX keyboard review @ TechPowerUp
  10. HighPoint SSD7101 series SSD review @ Tom's Hardware
  11. Netgear R8000P Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi router with MU-MIMO reviewed @ SmallNetBuilder

Games and VR

  1. Halo Recruit on Windows pits you in VR against a flat screen @ Upload VR (speaking of Halo)
  2. If you don't own this Russian van, your Tetris collection is incomplete @ Quarter To Three
  3. UK government responds to loot box questions (vaguely) @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  4. Zen Studios and Pinball FX3 decide zen is not enough @ Quarter To Three

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. 3D prints and food @ HackADay
  2. Click your heels thrice, hail a cab home @ HackADay (wickedly clever)
  3. Researchers craft an LED just two atoms thick @ ArsTechnica (RGB ETA TBD)
  4. ZTE points to the future with the first foldable, dual-screen smartphone @ New Atlas
  5. The fine art of heating and cooling your beans @ HackADay

Tech news and culture

  1. Alphabet's X delivery drones drop burritos in Australia @ New Atlas
  2. The internet is ripe with in-browser miners and it's getting worse each day @ Slashdot
  3. Magic Leap raises another $500+ million in Series D funding @ Upload VR (how?!)

Cheese, memes, and RGB LEDs

  1. These sneakers were inspired by Philadelphia Cream Cheese @
  2. Chuck E. Cheese animatronic band members are now for sale @
  3. Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5 RGB case review @ ThinkComputers

7 comments — Last by LoneWolf15 at 3:22 PM on 10/20/17

MSI GS63 Stealth laptop flies under the radar with a GTX 1050
— 12:15 PM on October 19, 2017

The last time we talked about MSI's GS63 Stealth series laptops was all the way back at Computex 2016. At the time, GS63 machines were characterized by Skylake mobile Core i7 processors and graphics options up to a GeForce GTX 970M. The manufacturer that puts dragon logos on all its products now has a version of the GS63 Stealth laptop with seventh-generation Core i7 CPUs and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics.

MSI blessed the new GS63 Stealth with CPUs up to an Intel Core i7-7700HQ. The processor is fed instructions and data by as much as 32 GB of 2400 MT/s DDR4 memory. The pixels in the 15.6" 1920x1080 screen get marching orders from an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 card that lords over 2 GB of its own GDDR5 memory. There's an option for a 120 Hz HDR display of the same resolution, too. The keyboard was developed in conjunction with SteelSeries and features 2017's number one PC trend, RGB LED lighting.

The collection of inputs and outputs spread across both sides of the chassis is highlighted by a Thunderbolt 3 port and includes a Gigabit Ethernet jack, multiple USB ports, and HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs. The Thunderbolt 3 connector can carry a 4K video signal at 60 Hz or be used to supply up to 3A at 5V for charging a thirsty phone or a tablet. Networking comes courtesy of a Killer Doubleshot Pro combo adapter that offers wired Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1. The machine measures 15" wide, 9.8" deep, and 0.69" thick (38 cm x 25 cm x 1.8 cm) and weighs in at 4 lbs (1.8 kg). Some of that weight comes from a three-cell 65 Wh battery.

The MSI GS63 Stealth with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16 GB of 2400 MT/s DDR4 memory, a 1920x1080 IPS display, and a storage setup with a 128 GB NVMe SSD and a 1 TB hard drive is available now from Amazon for $1277 or from Newegg for $1299. Both retailers also have other similar configurations with different storage options. MSI backs the machines with a two-year warranty.

7 comments — Last by ChicagoDave at 3:34 PM on 10/21/17

Zotac GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini proves that size doesn't matter
— 10:45 AM on October 19, 2017

Liquid cooling is seeing a lot of renewed interest lately given how affordable and easy-to-use the gear has become. Once you've got a liquid-cooling rig in your setup, it's fairly trivial to expand it to include your graphics card, too. The hard part could be finding the right waterblock for your graphics card. Zotac could soon help you skip the shopping search with its GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini.

Zotac says this is the smallest GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with a waterblock included, and that's probably true. The company gives the card's length as 8.35" (21 cm) and its width as 6.46" (16.4 cm). That latter number is worth noting, though, as the card and its waterblock extend well beyond the expansion slot. Zotac displays the card with its water-cooling fittings extending outward, but capped G 1/4 fittings on the bottom of the water block should let builders move the hose barbs to a vertical orientation if they so choose.

Still, kudos to Zotac for fitting a GTX 1080 Ti on such a short board. The chip onboard is a full-powered GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with no compromises. Its listed speeds are a 1506 MHz base block and a 1620 MHz boost clock. Those work out to a small overclock from the reference specifications, but we'll make our usual remarks about Pascal clock rates being conservative indicators. GPU Boost 3.0 will likely take the GP102 GPU well above those listed figures. The ArcticStorm Mini's dual 8-pin power connectors will likely help with that, too.

Zotac usually covers its graphics cards in the shocking yellow color of its logo, but the company specifically decided to make the GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini in neutral gunmetal grey. The metal backplate gets the same treatment, save for a lighter grey stripe. The waterblock has white LED accents shining through it that Zotac calls "always on."

Zotac hasn't said when the GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini will be available or for how much. The regular-sized GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm card currently goes for $820, so we'd expect the price for the Mini version to hover around that amount.

34 comments — Last by mcarson09 at 2:50 PM on 10/22/17

Aorus X9 packs two GTX 1070s in a slim chassis
— 9:15 AM on October 19, 2017

There was once a time when having a laptop with a desktop-grade graphics card meant lugging around a 20-lb behemoth that could game for a half an hour or less on its internal battery. Recent upgrades in the efficiency of Intel's CPUs and Nvidia's graphics chips have mostly brought those days to an end. Gigabyte's latest portable gaming beast, the Aorus X9, packs not one, but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards into a package just over an inch thick.

Gigabyte hopes that the first thing users notice about the Aorus X9 is the color-calibrated, high-resolution 17.3" screen available in two varieties—a 120-Hz display with 2560x1440 WVA resolution and a 5-ms response time, or a 60-Hz 3840x2160 IPS model. The second-brightest feature of the Aorus X9 might be its keyboard. The typing surface features per-key RGB LED illumination and "mechanical brown switches." The manufacturer has also bedazzled the machine with RGB LEDs on four sides to complement the light show from the keyboard. Users can control all the LEDs using Gigabyte's RGB Fusion software utility. 

The third noticeable feature on the outside of the laptop is a set of grilles for the quartet of cooling fans. The thumping heart within the Aorus X9 is an Intel Core i7-7820HK overclockable processor with a stock boost clock of 3.9 GHz. That CPU fetches instructions and data from a pool of up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory spread across two channels and as many as four memory modules. All the pixels in the X9's display get their marching orders from two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards in SLI. Each card has its own 8 GB of GDDR5 memory.

The Aorus X9 is big but not as large as one might expect considering the hardware within. The base configuration with 8 GB of memory and a single 256 GB SSD tips the scales at 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg). The laptop itself measures 16.9" wide, 12.4" deep, and 1.18" thick (43 cm x 31 cm x 3.1 cm). Gigabyte didn't talk battery capacity or life expectancy, but we don't think anyone is expecting all-day mobility from a machine like this. For peripheral connectivity, the X9 has three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. A mini-DisplayPort and an HDMI 2.0 output also join the party.

The company did say that two different configurations would be available by the end of October. Both specs share the 3840x2160 display, a Core i7-7820HK processor, the two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards, and 16 GB of RAM. The first version has a 512 GB NVMe SSD and a 1 TB platter drive for a princely $3649. The second model deletes the spinning rust and adds a second 512 GB NVMe device for a $3749 asking price. Gigabyte says the Aorus X9 with two NVMe drives will be sold exclusively through Newegg.

18 comments — Last by SuperPanda at 11:22 PM on 10/21/17

ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I are itty-bitty boards for Ryzen builds
— 4:00 PM on October 18, 2017

You remember way back about 24 hours ago when we reported on that ITX Ryzen motherboard that Asus was teasing? As it turns out, the company actually has a pair of new motherboards, and we've got the full details on them now. The two boards are the ROG Strix X370-I Gaming and the ROG Strix B350-I Gaming. As you no doubt expect, both models fit the mini-ITX form factor and have AM4 sockets.

ROG Strix X370-I Gaming

In our comments, gerbil tsk pointed out that the AMD X370 chipset doesn't offer a lot over the B350 chipset for an ITX motherboard. His observation was markedly astute, as these two motherboards appear to be completely identical. That means both models come with a pair of DDR4 DIMM slots capable of running their memory at up to 3600 MT/s, along with a single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 socket, a PCIe 2.0 x4 M.2 socket, and four SATA ports.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of these boards is that their audio hardware actually comes on a daughterboard suspended above the PCB. That daughterboard also holds the aforementioned PCIe 3.0-capable M.2 socket. The whole thing then gets covered by an aluminum plate bearing an RGB LED-illuminated ROG logo. Given that Asus refers to the cover as a "heatsink" we'd have liked to see some fins on it, but in our experience M.2 SSDs don't really need that much cooling anyway.

The audio codec on hand itself is the Realtek S1220A on both boards. The networking hardware is all provided by Intel, and consists of the usual Gigabit Ethernet and 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Whichever model you choose, you'll have four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the back panel, as well as another two USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 2.0 ports via internal headers.

ROG Strix B350-I Gaming

Jeff correctly identified the onboard connectors yesterday, although one of the RGB LED headers is Aura Sync-addressable. There's also a dedicated connector for water-cooling pumps like on the majority of Asus' finer boards, as well as a thermal probe header. Given all that clearance around the CPU socket and the generous allocation of power phases, these boards might be able to take Ryzen CPUs to their limits. Asus says the ROG Strix X370-I Gaming and B350-I Gaming will be available late this month.

15 comments — Last by MOSFET at 4:03 PM on 10/19/17

Qualcomm shows progress on 5G mobile broadband
— 3:00 PM on October 18, 2017

Qualcomm demonstrated progress on its 5G mobile broadband efforts at its San Diego laboratory yesterday. The company showed off two forms of next-gen mobile broadband connectivity using its Snapdragon X50 5G modem. The company also previewed its first smartphone reference design for testing and implementing 5G technology within the size and power envelopes of a handset. In a separate event in Hong Kong last week, Qualcomm and Microsoft also talked about progress in building always-connected Windows devices with Qualcomm's ARM chips.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 modem chip (left) and 28 GHz mmWave antenna (right)

Qualcomm says that as part of the 5G "New Radio," or 5G NR standard, mmWave will be essential to the next generation in mobile broadband. The company's 5G demo is notable not only because it showed functional hardware, but also because the company seems to have miniaturized the complex antenna necessary to maintain mobile broadband connections using frequencies higher than 26 GHz for mmWave use. The gigabit connection used "several" 100 MHz 5G carriers to achieve its swift download speeds, and the setup also achieved a data connection in the 28 GHz band for the first time. The company's demonstration used Keysight Technologies' 5G Protocol R&D chipset and UXM's 5G Wireless Test Platform in addition to Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 modem.

Qualcomm's reference 5G handset design

The company announced the Snapdragon X50 5G modem back in October of last year. At the time, Qualcomm expected to sample chips to OEMs in the second half of this year, and it projected that 5G handsets would be available to consumers in the first half of 2018. The company said in yesterday's announcement that commercial launches of 5G phones and networks would occur in the first half of 2019. We aren't sure if this means that manufacturing of modems is behind schedule or if the networks simply won't be ready before the end of 2018, but it is a setback from prior projections.

Qualcomm says it is also still hard at work helping prepare for the launch of Windows laptops powered by the same Snapdragon 835 found in seemingly every current high-end Android phone before the end of December. According to Trusted Reviews, Qualcomm VP of Global Product Marketing said that devices were still on track for a December launch. Pete Bernard from Microsoft's Connectivity Partners Group says that the company has "hundreds" of Qualcomm-powered laptops in testing at its headquarters. Future Windows laptops with Qualcomm chips were announced back in December of last year, but little word of the new class of the machines has come since the initial announcement. The companies both hinted that less expensive machines with lower-end Qualcomm chips could come in the future. The boldest claims about these new machines involve battery life, which is said to be "multiple days."

22 comments — Last by End User at 9:26 AM on 10/20/17

Samsung foundry train stops at 8-nm LPP before heading to EUV
— 2:00 PM on October 18, 2017

Silicon manufacturing appears to be marching toward the era of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), but Samsung's process train is making one last stop before pulling away from traditional litography and moving into the brave new world of short-wavelength exposures. The company has announced that it has completed qualification of its 8-nm "Low Power Plus" (LPP) process.

Samsung claims that chips built on the new tech offer 10% lower power consumption and a 10% reduction in die area compared to its 10-nm LPP process. The manufacturer expects adoption of 8-nm LPP chips in future mobile, cryptocurrency, and networking products.

Ryan Lee, VP of Foundry Marketing at Samsung Electronics, says the qualification process for 8-nm LPP is three months ahead of schedule. RK Chunduru, Senior VP of Samsung manufacturing partner Qualcomm, expects adoption of 8-nm LPP to be fast because the node "uses proven 10-nm process technology while providing better performance and scalability than current 10-nm-based products." The relatively conservative claims about power consumption and die area reductions suggest that the leap from 10-nm LPP to 8-nm LPP is a short one.

Samsung will present an update to its foundry roadmap at its Samsung Foundry Forum Europe event in Munich, Germany on October 18. The presentation will include information about 8-nm LPP availability and development of the next-generation 7-nm EUV process. The European event follows similar events earlier in the year in the US, South Korea, and Japan.

32 comments — Last by Jeff Kampman at 1:24 PM on 10/20/17

Wednesday deals: a Ryzen combo, mechanical keyboards, and storage
— 1:02 PM on October 18, 2017

Yesterday's news rush gave us no quarter and no time to dive into the sea of promotions, discount codes, and cut-throat pricing. We shall make amends for the omission today with aplomb. Dear sirs and madams, here is your selection of deals.

  • Some matches are made in heaven. Blue and gold. Chocolate and hazelnuts. A Ryzen 5 1600X CPU with an ASRock X370 Killer SLI/ac motherboard. The Ryzen processor has six cores with SMT chugging along at up to 4 GHz, while the mobo has a total of twelve USB ports, two M.2 sockets, and Intel-powered networking comprising a Gigabit Ethernet port and an 802.11ac Wi-Fi-and-Bluetooth adapter. Newegg is running a combo deal for both items for the low, low price of $279.99, or $80 off what they would cost if bought separately. As if that wasn't enough, there's a $20 mail-in rebate on offer, too.

  • Mechanical keyboards are getting cheaper by the minute, and a good thing that is. We have two entrants in this category today. The first is the Corsair Vengeance K65 tenkeyless keyboard with its gorgeous aluminum chassis and Cherry MX Red linear switches. This keyboard doesn't offer fancy backlighting, but really, if you need to look at your keyboard to type, you have bigger problems. Grab one of these from Newegg for $54.99 while stocks last.

  • If you positively must show off your set of clickers, then by all means, we can help too. The Aukey KM-G6 full-size keyboard with Outemu Blue clicky switches and built-in lighting effects is selling for only $39.99 at Amazon. If "too expensive" was your excuse of choice for not joining the mechanical keyboard party, just get your butt in the door already.

  • "Where's my storage deal?" Right this way, good sir. Please kindly direct your attention towards the HGST DeskStar NAS 6TB hard drive with 7200 RPM speed and 128 MB of cache. This is a seriously speedy drive, and it can be yours for only $179.99 from Newegg with the promo code NEFPRSN15.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at the Microsoft Store and Das Keyboard's shop.

10 comments — Last by freebird at 1:30 PM on 10/19/17

RX Vega prices inch downward in our latest graphics-card spot check
— 11:28 AM on October 18, 2017

A couple weeks back, I posited that the market for powerful graphics cards was cooling off a bit. That trend appears to be continuing, as Radeon RX Vega graphics cards are inching toward their bare-board suggested prices. A glance at Newegg's wares today shows four RX Vega 56 cards available for $460 to $470 from PowerColor, MSI, Gigabyte, and Sapphire. That's down from the $500 or more those cards demanded when Newegg was selling them as part of Radeon Packs, although one doesn't get the two "free" games that used to come in those bundles any longer. (In fact, Radeon Packs seem to have disappeared from Newegg entirely.) Newegg will even kick back $20 on Gigabyte's RX Vega 56 card for a grand total of $450 if you chance a mail-in rebate.

We found that the reference Radeon RX Vega 56 held its own against a hot-clocked GeForce GTX 1070 in our testing, so we'd have welcomed the apparent decline in RX Vega 56 prices as a competitive development as recently as a couple weeks ago. However, GeForce GTX 1070 prices are also in the midst of a re-entry of late. Surveying all of Newegg's GTX 1070 offerings shows that it's possible to get one of those cards for as little as $400 right now, just $20 over Nvidia's suggested price at launch. Most custom GTX 1070s seem to top out at about $450 at the moment, so buyers have a wide range of alternatives to the reference RX Vega 56 for similar money.

RX Vega 64 cards also seem to be on the edge of a price decline. Newegg is selling both the reference and limited-edition Vega 64 cards from Sapphire for $570 right now, even as many other such cards sell for $610 or $620. That's a drop from launch pricing at retail, but it still isn't enough to make the Vega 64 an appealing choice against the GeForce GTX 1080. In fact, GTX 1080 prices are bad news for the GTX 1070, the RX Vega 56, and the RX Vega 64 alike. Newegg has a triple-fan MSI GTX 1080 for just $490 at the moment (with a free copy of Destiny 2, to boot), and our initial testing suggests the GTX 1080 will still deliver the smoothest and most fluid gaming experience around for that kind of money. For $530 or so, one has an enviable choice of custom cards from EVGA and Gigabyte that will likely run quieter and dump less waste heat than the RX Vega duo.

While these data points are just a tiny slice of the graphics-card market as a whole, they do suggest that the demand crunch we saw this summer is continuing to ease across the board. We're still far from the glory days when an RX 480 4GB cost as little as $150, but at least prices are no longer downright oppressive. Perhaps the market will continue to cool as the leaves continue to fall around the TR labs.

65 comments — Last by Waco at 6:28 PM on 10/22/17

HP ZBook x2 detachable is a consummate professional
— 10:30 AM on October 18, 2017

If you see a recent HP computer with a "Z" prominently featured in the name, it's probably intended for professional users. So it goes with HP's new ZBook x2 that the company calls "the world's first and most powerful detachable PC workstation." Yes, HP created a detachable convertible PC that's intended as a workstation. Kidding aside, the machine's modern quad-core CPUs, 32 GB of RAM, and Quadro graphics might just give it a legitimate claim to that title.

The top CPU option is of course the Intel Core i7-8650U, although there are lesser options available from both the seventh- and eighth-generation Core families. The only memory option HP offers is 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4, though. Likewise, the only choices for graphics are Intel's HD Graphics 620 or an Nvidia Quadro M620 with its own 2 GB of GDDR5. Whichever graphics option you end up with will be powering a 14" IPS touchscreen with 3840x2160 resolution. The display can also be ordered as a pre-calibrated 10-bit "DreamColor" version.

HP offers storage options aplenty. Buyers can choose from NVMe SSDs with capacity up to 2 TB, or select a drive with a government-agency-approved full-disk encryption scheme. The Zbook x2's Wi-fi is Intel-powered, though there's no onboard Ethernet jack. The convertible does have a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports (both supporting DisplayPort 1.2), a USB 3.0 connector, as well as an HDMI output and a regular old 3.5-mm audio jack.

The ZBook x2 is built from machined aluminum and die-cast magnesium. As a result, even with the impressive specs on offer, it only weighs a bit over 3.6 lbs (1.6 kg). HP says it the built-in battery is good for ten hours of usage, and that you can charge it half-way in 30 minutes. If you're in the market for a top-shelf workstation, you can pick up a ZBook x2 from HP in December starting at $1749.

10 comments — Last by The Egg at 5:39 PM on 10/20/17

NZXT Grid+ v3 keeps PCs quiet with machine learning
— 9:00 AM on October 18, 2017

NZXT's newest cases have an interesting "smart device" controller with a built-in microphone that the company says can tune the system's fan speed profile to reduce noise by up to 40% (we guess compared to standard controllers). Gerbils whose ears perked up when reading about that feature in the new H-series cases might be interested in NZXT's Grid+ v3 fan controller that has the same machine learning-powered adaptive noise reduction.

The Grid+ v3 works in conjunction with NZXT's CAM fan control software. The device has six fan channels and can automatically detect if the connected fan on each channel is a three- or four-pin unit. The company also includes a pair of splitters in the package for systems with more than six fans. The Grid+ v3 has a "0 dB" feature that shuts down all fans when temperatures are within pre-defined specifications, too.

The controller is 0.6" thick (1.5 cm) and has a magnetic back for easy installation in steel cases. The company also includes 3M Dual Lock hook-and-loop-like fastening material for those with cases made from non-magnetic materials. The unit connects to a USB 2.0 port and needs a 4-pin Molex connector for power. Maximum power output is 5 W each channel.

The Grid+ v3 fan controller is available now from NZXT's online store for $50, so we expect to see it at TR favorites Amazon and Newegg pretty soon. The package includes the noise-detection microphone, cabling to get up and running, as well as a few cable ties to help wrangle all the wires.

9 comments — Last by juzz86 at 12:27 AM on 10/19/17