Late last year NVIDIA introduced the GeForce GTX 980M and 970M mobile GPUs, which brought high-end Maxwell performance to any laptop equipped with one. Today NVIDIA is bringing more Maxwell GPU goodness to laptops with the addition of the GeForce GTX 960M and 950M. These new chips are designed with thin laptops and Ultrabooks in mind, so regardless of how light of a laptop you're looking at, there's a good chance it will feature a GTX 960M or 950M. Whichever GPU your laptop has will get your games looking their best, and will be ready for upcoming titles with DirectX 12 support. The 960M and 950M GPUs also support the improved NVIDIA BatteryBoost to provide a better gaming experience when you're unplugged; ShadowPlay to record your gaming adventures or slick highlights, and Optimus to dynamically switch between giving you the best gaming performance and the best battery life.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M and 950M mobile GPUs will be available today from the likes of Acer, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Razer, and many others.
The end of the week is fast approaching, but before it does we have some items you should check out. There is a look at the Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Omega card, which features a massive cooler and an onboard USB connector to dial in the overclocking settings. We also have a review of the ASUS X99-A motherboard, with a competitive price for those wanting to save a little cash when upgrading to the Haswell-E line. A couple different cases get tested, with both being on the smaller side. The BitFenix Aegis Core is a microATX case that has some unique features, including some stunning colors and the ability to have a 2.8" 240x320 icon display on the front. The other small case is the Raidmax Atomic ITX-107WB, which is a mini-ITX case for those wanting as small a build as possible. For your storage needs, we have a review of the Mushkin ECO2 240GB SSD, which uses a SandForce SF-2241 controller and Micron MLC NAND.
Glass is a very unusual material that can be found all around us, as windows and in our various displays. What makes it and other glass-like materials so odd is that it does not exactly cool to become a solid, but instead a frozen liquid state. This can allow it to lose durability over time as it relaxes, but researchers at UCLA and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie have found a way to prevent that.
When glass cools, its molecules take on a chaotic structure, as opposed to a regular, crystal structure, but it is this structure that gives it, its strength. As it is exposed to various temperatures and pressures though, that structure can relax and the strength is lost, making it unusable. What the UCLA researchers have found is that by making the glass under certain conditions, it can be made to retain its properties throughout its life. This retention of properties is called thermal reversibility and has to do with optimizing the angles the molecular bonds have with each other.
While more durable screens, windows, and optical cables are definitely valuable, this research will likely impact other materials, including cement. The structure within cement is similar enough to glass that it also suffers from relaxation over time, so by similarly optimizing how it is produced, better concrete can be made.
PlayStation Mobile, a software framework that enables PlayStation content to be played on a variety of mobile devices, is officially being shut down by Sony on July 15, 2015. While the service did offer a unique gaming experience on smartphones and tablets during the early days of Android development, it has failed to appeal to mobile device users as the Google Android gaming experience has continued to be developed and improved. Device support has also been an issue with PlayStation Mobile, as it is only supported on select devices, with most being manufactured by Sony.
Users of PlayStation Mobile can still download any purchased games through September 10 and continue to play them, as long as their certified device is authenticated with Sony.
ZOTAC has decided to join other manufacturers in offering GeForce GTX 960 graphics cards that feature 4GB of memory. The latest graphics cards from ZOTAC, which feature model numbers of ZT-90308-10M and ZT-90309-10M, offer factory overclocks, dual-fan cooling solutions, and back-plates. The ZT-90308-10M comes with a core clock of 1177MHz with a GPU boost clock of 1240MHz, while the ZT-90309-10M, which is the company’s AMP! Variant, offers a core clock of 1266MHz with a GPU boost clock of 1329MHz. Both GeForce GTX 960 graphics cards feature display connections that include three DisplayPort 1.2, one HDMI 2.0, and one DVI, and also draw power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector.
Pricing and availability of the ZT-90308-10M and ZT-90309-10M has not yet been announced by ZOTAC.
Noctua, one of the leaders in cooling products, has a new CPU cooler that is a little smaller than what you may be use to. The NH-L9x65 low-profile cooler is desgined to fit into systems that don't offer a lot of vertical space, but still need some extra cooling. This low-profile cooler is a beefier model of the older NH-L9 cooler, as it stands 65mm tall (counting the fan) instead of 37mm, and has four heat pipes instead of two. That 65mm height falls right in line with low-profile expansion cards, and ideal for HTPC or SFF cases. It still has a 95x95mm footprint, so it isn't any wider than the past cooler, and will not interfere with the RAM or PCIe cards. The NH-L9x65 features the SecuFirm 2 multi-socket mounting system for AMD and Intel compatibility, as well as the NT-H1 thermal paste and a six-year warranty.
Noctua also has a new fan, the NF-A6x25 PWM, which, as the name suggests, is a PWM version of the NF-A6x25. This 60mm fan features a 4-pin header to be dynamically controlled by the motheboard, and even has a Low-Noise-Adaptor to drop the maximum RPM from 3000 to 2300 during PWM use.
The Noctua NH-L9x65 low-profile cooler and NF-A6x25 PWM fan will be available soon, with the cooler coming in at $52.90 / €44.90 and the fan at $17.90 / €14.90.
Many quantum mechanical phenomena will collapse down to classical physics when entering the environment. This begs the question then of if these phenomena can ever be of use when we know they will collapse. According to researchers at MIT, the answer is yes, at least for entangled photons.
Quantum entanglement is when the state of one particle constrains the state of another, so by knowing the state of one you know the state of the other. For some time it has been wondered if entangled photons could be useful for optical sensors, since the entanglement is going to break down as the probing light travels through the environment. According to the MIT researchers, entanglement will still improve the sensor because while the quality of the probe beam does degrade, compared to a reference beam used to filter out noise, the two beams being entangled gives them a better starting point. The light beam will degrade the same amount regardless of if it is entangled or not, but because the correlation between the entangled beams is stronger to begin with, the signal-to-noise ratio is better than compared to completely classical beams.
So far the researchers have shown a 20% increase in the signal-to-noise ratio this way, but it could go much higher, doubling or quadrupling, with better optical equipment. As detection error is exponentially related to the signal-to-noise ratio, this could result in a million-fold increase in sensitivity.
Google has released a pair of new Chromebook Pixel models, referred to officially as the new Pixel. The base model has an MSRP of $999 while the Ludicrous Speed (LS) edition will cost $1299. The Chromebooks are powered by a fifth generation Intel Core i5 processor, which extends battery life of the Pixel from five hours to 12. The base model has a 2.2GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD. The LS increases CPU speed to 2.4GHz and doubles RAM and storage space. Both models will have a 12.85" screen at a resolution of 2560x1700, two USB-C connectors, two USB-A connectors, an SD card slot, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Users will also get access to 1TB of Google Drive storage for three years, providing plenty of storage above the amount included on the Pixel.
Inno3D has announced the iChill GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 Black Series Accelero Hybrid S coolers. The coolers combine air and liquid cooling elements into a single unit that claims a 200% cooling improvement while remaining nine times quieter than the reference cooler. It is the first after market solution with an "integrated active fan specifically designed to cool RAM and VR." The ready to go solution should give users an easy entry point into the world of GPU liquid cooling.
It is the middle of the week and we have just a couple of items for you to check out. There is a review of the Kingston HyperX FURY 32GB DDR4-2400 kit, which brings fast speeds and plenty of capacity to the Intel X99 platform. The FURY series may be fairly new in the HyperX line, but should perform without any issue for those on the latest Intel platform. We also have a look at RAID 5 and whether or not it is a storage setup that should be trusted or banned from ever being used.
Cars have had computers in them for a long time, but many modern cars now feature computers meant to serve the driver as much as the car. While these new capabilities are certainly appreciated by many drivers, the underlying systems were not designed to support them. Researchers at TU München, as part of the Visio.M project, have decided to change that by developing a new architecture for the computer systems.
This new architecture is similar to that used in smartphones, with functions split between two subsystems. This separation provides protection from attacks, by placing the vital functions on one subsystem and everything else on the other. Connecting every component is the Automotive Service Bus, which the researchers created and acts as a message channel. The components send messages along this channel, but only have read access to vehicle data, except in clearly defined situations. These messages fall into three groups: Events that provide information; commands for interactions between components; and preferences with driver-specific data. Again like smartphones, this design allows the components to be updated, changed, or deleted but without having to visit any special station to do so.
To foster development, the researchers are placing the Automotive Service Bus under an open source license.
ASUS has announced that all of its 9 series motherboards officially offer support for 5th-generation Intel Core processors after users perform a quick BIOS update. For owners of ASUS 9 series motherboards that boast the renowned ASUS USB BIOS Flashback feature, the BIOS update can be downloaded to a USB flash drive and applied after the USB BIOS Flashback or reset button is pressed. Owners of these boards do not even have to have a CPU or DRAM modules in place and do not need to perform any interaction with the motherboard after the BIOS update begins. For owners of ASUS 9 series motherboards that do not feature the ASUS USB BIOS Flashback feature, an easy-to-use Windows-based BIOS updater application can be ran with just one click.
The BIOS updates that enable support for 5th-generation Intel Core processors on ASUS 9 series motherboards are available immediately for download from the ASUS website.
In an effort to increase the sales of its already amazingly popular GeForce GTX 980, 970, and 960 graphics cards, NVIDIA is offering an interesting bundle to consumers. For individuals who make a new purchase of one of the aforementioned graphics cards, NVIDIA is providing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at no charge. The game, which is just months away from its release, supports NVIDIA HairWorks and NVIDIA Physx clothing and destruction, immersing gamers even further in the expansive world of the Northern Kingdoms.
For consumers interested in the bundle currently being offered by NVIDIA, a list of participating retailers can be found on NVIDIA’s promotion splash page.
As a part of GRIDTuesday, NVIDIA has added Dead Island Riptide, a stand-alone expansion to the popular open-world Zombie adventure game Dead Island, to its GRID library. The game is classified as an action role-playing survival horror game and picks up right where the story of Dead Island left off. Gamers have to continue to fight waves of zombies after the military ship that they recently landed a helicopter on shipwrecks on the island of Palanai. The story and gameplay of Dead Island Riptide is truly excellent, and with Dead Island 2 set to be released during the second quarter of this year, NVIDIA wants gamers to be prepared for the next onslaught of zombies that is soon to come.
With the announcement of the newest MacBook, it was revealed that Apple would be switching to the obscure USB-C port for external connections. LaCie has announced the first USB-C compatible external hard drive, the Porsche Design Mobile Drive, offering transfer speeds up to 100MB/s. The enclosure is made of aluminum to match the design of the new MacBook and will be available in capacities of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. The drive will be compatible with the standard USB Type-A connector to support USB 3.0 and 2.0 on devices that don't have a USB-C connector.
Chances are that every day many of us interact with at least one touchscreen, and if that would happen to be the one in our phones, we are probably also somewhat protective of it. At least I know I do not want to risk breaking the screen, which is why there is a lot invested into finding ways to prevent this damage. One approach is to use less brittle materials in the touchscreen, and The Optical Society's Optical Materials Express journal has published a paper recently describing such a new material.
Traditionally indium tin oxide (ITO) has been used in our touchscreens, because it is a transparent conductor, but it is also very fragile and somewhat expensive. While some have been looking at organic thin films to replace ITO, the new paper describes using a hybrid film instead. The hybrid film contains both organic and inorganic materials to achieve the necessary optical and electrical properties. In fact, compared to glass the hybrid layers are 96% to 100% transparent, while still survive 10,000 bending cycles without resistance increasing too much.
Just as important as its transparency and flexibility is that the hybrid thin film can be made very cheaply in solution, at low temperatures, and without a high-vacuum. It can even be made with enough layers to act as an anti-reflective coating, which may allow for new applications.
HP has officially announced all new cartridges for its laser printers, which according to the company, are capable of offering 58 percent more color pages and 28 percent more black-and-white prints compared to current cartridge technology. The increased efficiency is based on refinements in the chemical formula that makes up the laser printer cartridges currently offered by HP. The refinements allow the new cartridges to not only offer a higher page count from the same sized product, but also the same page count rating with smaller cartridges.
Unfortunately for users, the more efficient laser printer cartridges will only be available for new LaserJets. The new cartridges will first make their way into entry-level LaserJets recently announced by HP, and will be offered in advanced multifunction printers later this year.
Mushkin, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance and mission-critical computer products, has officially launched its new ECO2 line of solid-state drives. The latest product line from Mushkin combines the traditional energy efficiency exhibited from SSDs with an economical and reliable design, providing consumers with a truly value oriented product. Mushkin ECO2 drives offer read speeds of up to 550MB per second and write of up to 535MB per second, making them exceptional choices over traditional hard disk drives.
The new ECO2 line of SSDs will be available in 60 GB, 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB capacities, and will be sold exclusively through Newegg thanks to a partnership between both companies. Nicolas Villalobos, the Director of Global Marketing at Mushkin, noted that "Partnering with Newegg.com is an exciting opportunity for such a product launch."
It is a new day, with plenty of new items for your viewing pleasure. We have a review of the SilverStone PS11B-W case, which offers plenty of features, like a lot of internal space and hardware options, at an entry-level price. There is also a look at the Razer BlackWidow Chroma mechanical gaming keyboard, with its RGB LED lighting to give you whatever color options you want for the keys. Crucial's new MX200 SSD gets tested in both the 500GB and 1TB versions to see just what kind of speed increases come with those larger sizes. For something a little smaller and more portable, there's the SanDisk UltraFit 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive. If you need to have better control for your mouse, the Kingston HyperX Fury Pro Mouse Pad gets reviewed to show if it should find a new home at your desk. The Lenovo ThinkPad W540 Mobile Workstation is tested to see how this business-minded laptop can handle some gaming. Finishing off for the day are a couple of smartphone reviews, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and KingSing T8 both getting inspected and put through the ringer.
Some of you may have seen this coming, but according to researchers at the University of Waterloo, there is a link between smartphone use and weaker cognitive abilities. More specifically, the use of search engines as social media and entertainment applications showed no such link.
According to the researchers' study, which involved 660 people, it relates to the kind of thinker we are. Intuitive thinkers, who rely on gut feelings and instincts, are more likely to turn to search engines on our smartphones than putting in the cognitive effort to arrive at an answer. Analytical thinkers however, who are more likely to second-guess themselves and apply logic to a problem, were less likely to turn to the search engines in our pockets and purses. This indicates a link between heavy smartphone use and lower intelligence, but whether smartphone use actually impacts intelligence is still to be determined.
This research aligns with previous work indicating that humans try to avoid effort when solving problems, so using smartphones as an extended mind makes sense. How this may affect our psychology is still to be determined though.
BIOSTAR, a manufacturer of quality motherboards, graphics cards, and industrial computing systems, has officially revealed its latest AMD socket AM3+ motherboard known as the TA970 Plus. The TA970 Plus is a full-size ATX motherboard that includes the AMD 970 chipset and also offers consumers premium and reliable components, thereby supporting both enthusiasts and gamers. The TA970 Plus offers AMD OverDrive and Advanced Clock Calibration, which allows users to overclock their systems by calibrating the timings between their processor and RAM of choice. This allows users to maintain system stability while overclocking, allowing them to truly push their hardware to the limit.
BIOSTAR TA970 Plus motherboard exclusives include the BIO-Remote II, Smart Speed LAN, and PURO Hi-Fi technology. PURO Hi-Fi technology is being touted as one of the most important aspects of the TA970 Plus motherboard, as it is comprised of an integrated independent audio power design with a built-in amplifier which successfully reduces electronic noise and produces superb sound quality.
Wu Tai, a 24-year-old man who was reportedly addicted to the immensely popular role-playing game World of Warcraft, died at an Internet café in Shanghai, China after playing the game for 19 hours straight. A gamer sitting next to Tai stated that he called an ambulance after he heard the man groan and saw blood wiped away from his mouth with a handkerchief. Attempts made by Internet café staff and medical units to revive Tai, after he died in front of a crowd of gamers, were unsuccessful. While an autopsy is still underway, the policeman on scene stated that it was likely like Tai died due to playing on the computer for 19 hours straight.
COUGAR has announced its first 80 PLUS BRONZE digital power supply, the COUGAR CMD. The company hopes that the release will improve the opinion of digital power supplies, "freeing them from their current status of niche product and putting digital power in the right direction towards becoming the mainstream option for PC gaming." COUGAR has integrated the PSU with its UIX Device Management system to provide users with the ability to control and measure the performance of their PSU. Users will have access to efficiency, temperature, consumption, and other measurements.
Kingston has announced that its upcoming 4GB and 8GB ValueRAM 2133MHz DDR4 ECC SO-DIMMs have received Intel validation for use with the Intel Xeon D-1500 processors. The D-1500 is a System on Chip targeted at microservers, networking, and storage systems. The DDR4 modules from Kingston offer a low power solution without skimping on performance, making them an excellent choice for "energy- and space-efficient solutions that serve specific data center needs."
For a long time, researchers have been working to develop better ways to process signals, such as turning to optics from electronics for smaller sizes and greater bandwidths. By incorporating acoustics as well, it may be possible to push the boundaries even farther, and now Yale University researchers have created a device that can manipulate both photons and phonons.
We may not think much about sound for use in computers, since the waves travel so slow, but they can store information for longer and in a smaller space than optical signals can. With circuits that can control both, the Yale researchers are able to get the best of both worlds. Not only that, but the size of their circuitry is small enough that it can be integrated into microchips, allowing for more efficient storage, filtering, and manipulation of signals.
A new week is upon us, with some new items for you to check out to get it started right. There is a review of the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV case, a smaller case that still manages to pack in plenty of features for any build. We also have the SilverStone Strider Gold S Series 750W power supply, which is a fairly compact PSU with fully modular cables and an 80 PLUS Gold rating. If you just need to hear your games better, then maybe the Corsair Gaming H1500 Dolby Gaming Headset, with its 7.1 Dolby Pro Logic IIx surround, is for you. Finishing off for the day is a review of the Alienware 15 gaming laptop, which has plenty of customization options to get you the exact laptop you need.
Personally I have never had a battery burst into flames, but I have had some swell on me, and lose performance. The reason this happens is to do with tiny structures called dendrites that form within lithium-ion batteries, and have proven somewhat difficult to stop. Researchers at ORNL, however, have now, for the first time, imaged the formation of these structures in real time, which could help defeat them one day.
As the name suggests, lithium-ion batteries use lithium ions to store energy and normally they stay in solution or in one of the electrodes. Sometimes though, they will collect together to form solid structures called dendrites. As the dendrites grow, they may puncture the protective layer between the electrodes, causing a short circuit. Obviously this is a bad thing, which is why a lot of work has been done to protect against them, but the ORNL researchers are the first to directly image dendrites forming. To do this, they created an electrochemical cell to mimic the inside of a lithium-ion battery, applied a voltage, and had it under a scanning transmission electron microscope. The result was a series of images showing how the dendrites develop, at high resolution.
Typically studies concerning how a battery fails, wait until after the battery does, but this research and method allows researchers to watch the process unfold. This new approach could aid in the development of additives and new separators to prevent dendrites and preserve batteries better.
ASUS has officially announced the ROG GR8S Steam Machine, which brings together the company’s renowned ROG branding with Valve’s Steam Machine design. The unit, which is roughly the size of an Xbox One and features ASUS' signature red and black ROG product design, offers gamers the ability to fully enjoy PC gaming in a living room environment. The ASUS ROG GR8S Steam Machine includes a variety of internal hardware configurations, but offers consumers up to an Intel Core i7 processor, GeForce GTX 900 "Maxwell" graphics, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a Miracast receiver, and a 1TB HDD or a 512GB SSD. Connectivity wise, the ASUS ROG GR8S Steam Machine offers four USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports, two USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, and digital and analog multi-channel audio connectivity.
Although CD Projekt RED announced late last year that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was delayed 12 weeks, pushing back its release date to May 19, 2015, the game remains highly anticipated. Gamers looking to run the game upon its release can be sure that their system meets the minimum requirements listed by CD Projekt RED, but until then, can view the latest gameplay released directly from PAX East. The gameplay, which is roughly seven minutes in length, shows off what Geralt happens to do best in a world filled with combat and magic.
Rumored specifications for the upcoming AMD Radeon R9 300-series graphics cards began to leak early last month, and there are new rumors that hint at when the official announcement of the new cards will be. Sources have indicated that AMD is planning to introduce the new cards during Computex in June. There were some initial plans to release a single new card at CeBIT and a few re-branded cards before Computex, but senior management demanded a "full line up" of cards to be released at the same time. The new cards could be what AMD needs to recover from a year that saw NVIDIA take significant market share in the GPU market with AMD CFO Devinder Kumar stating, "We are confident that as we get into the second half of 2015 with the launch of that [new graphics] product, we will gain back the market share which is low from my standpoint and historically."