WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top
Hardware

Intel launched their Z97 platform earlier this year which brought new motherboards in the performance platform, aiming support for Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and the upcoming Broadwell CPUs. Intel’s Z97 platform is filled with a variety of boards and each board is targeted towards key segments.WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top

Round-Up of The Best and Top-Tier Overclocking Z97 Motherboards

With such a large list of products that are currently offered in the Z97 chipset based product portfolio, it gets quite frustrating for consumers to find a board that suits their demands. To make it easier for consumers, the board manufacturing companies have separated their products into three categories; Gaming, Overclocking and Mainstream.  Although this helps a bit but even then, the products themselves offer similar specifications, naming schemes and priced equally.  For instance, the MSI Z97 Gaming 3 and Gigabyte GA-Z97X Gaming 3 are both gaming branded motherboards priced at $137.99 US and with “Gaming 3″ in the title, it would more or less confuse the buyer into deciding which product should be bought. While reviews do give a better insight at the products comparing the little details, features and components of products, we couldn’t find a good article which compares these boards against their similar priced counterparts from other manufacturers.

To address this issue and to help ease the process for buyers to get the right product, today we will be doing a round-up of the Z97 “Overclocking” motherboards. We will obviously not be comparing performance based on benchmarks but design schemes, feature set and the components used on these Z97 motherboards which will tell us why they are better than the other similar priced option or why does a $399 US overclocking board is a better option for enthusiasts then a $249 US overclocking board. The products we will be comparing are strictly the flagship overclocking boards from each separate manufacturer so you might see us talk about a XPOWER board and not the MPOWER board so please excuse me but that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever do a similar comparison on the other segment based boards, so stay tuned for that. Regardless, let’s start off these round – up with the beastly, Z97 XPOWER AC from MSI:

PlayStation 4 console
Hardware

[Editorial] Before I begin a few words of caution. It goes without saying that the results of this benchmarking showdown will not be pleasant to some. Also, all the benchmarks were conducted virtually, which means that some slight variation may exist between real life results. The Equation System and the VGA Calculator used are the intellectual property of one Daeguen Lee (DG Lee) and all rights are reserved by him. The calculator can be accessed freely on his website iyd.kr (aka udteam.tistory.com).main title13

PS4′s GPU (Pitcairn) Benchmarked Against the Xbox One (Bonaire) with and without eSRAM

Wow, I don’t think there has ever been an instance of a universal benchmark, and for good reason too. Since an actual universal benchmark would instantly put the power hierarchy in harsh relief it has not been done. However what we are going to attempt today is the closest you will ever get to a universal real life benchmark and the results should be very accurate. Alright lets start. Since both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One utilize AMD GPUs, that means that we are only going to use the AMD Equation System. A basic introduction of both the GPUs is in order. The PS4 GPU is codenamed Pitcairn and is basically a cut down variant of the Radeon 7870. It has a fairly high SP count and is clocked reasonably high too. The GPU has access to 8GB of Shared GDDR5 memory clocked a 1375 Mhz (5500 Mhz effective) and boasts throughput of upto  176 GB/s. Pitcairn has a 256 Bit bus which is quite reasonable for a GPU of this tier. The good thing about PS4′s GPU is that we have everything we need to calculate performance with almost zero real life variation.

weekly shorts logo
Hardware

We are back with the second installment of WCCF’s Weekly Shorts. The rules are simple, of the many articles we post, we shortlist not more than 7 entries and summarize them in not more than 5 lines. The previous episode of the WCCF’s Weekly Shorts can be found here.weekly shorts main image

Weekly Shorts – Peeping EA, AMD Carrizo, PS4′s 60FPS Optimization, Benefits of Sand, Anti-Theft Protection Debunked and the GM200 Core

1. EA is Spying on You by File Snooping with the Origin Client – Official Investigation Begins

Origin is one of the biggest gaming clients out there and it turns out that it does more than just let you play EA Games. In this report we take a look at what some dedicated gamers have uncovered. Basically the Origin Client is also an accomplished file snooper and is actively spying o your usage habits. Origin Reps have stated that they have begun an official investigation. Read More about Origin’s File Snooping.

BIOSTAR-Hi-Fi-Z97WE-Render-_1
Hardware

Introduction

Founded in 1986, Biostar is one of the prominent hardware manufacturers of the tech industry focusing in the Asian market. What started as a motherboard manufacturing corporation has now expanded into new markets such as add-on-cards and multimedia solutions along with graphics cards (popular in mainland China).

Coming to multimedia, the motherboard we are going to test today has a large focus on the audio system that it features on-board. The Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE comes with an isolated PCB on the motherboard that houses the on-board audio system which other manufacturers have started to offer starting with Haswell generation platform however it should be noted that Biostar was the first to implement this technology back in 2012 prior to Haswell as a part of their Puro Hi-Fi design scheme. So credits for this design scheme have to be given to Biostar in setting a new industry standard.

In addition to the feature, the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE is also special due to its pricing. The board comes at a very reasonable and budget friendly $124.99 US which is lower than what a motherboard with similar feature set may cost. Whether or not these features are as impressive as the higher quality parts remains to be seen in this review.

Razer-Adaro-Wirelress-Headphones_6
Gadgets

Introduction

Razer is one of the world’s leading gaming gear and peripheral maker with a focus on three fundamental aspects - technology, ergonomics, and validation. The company Razer has aimed to deliver on the promise of their motto, “For the gamers, by the gamers” with products that are geared for the gaming audience.

But that has changed with the launch of the latest Adaro audio series which are aimed to please the general music loving crowd which includes audiophiles, DJs and casual users. The Razer Adaro Audio series lets Razer enter a new market audience which isn’t restricted to gamers but open to everyone who loves music popping up inside the ears.

Today, we will be testing out the latest Razer Adaro Wireless Bluetooth headphones which aim to deliver a light-weight and comfortable on-the-go experience to users at a price of $149.99 US. Let’s see whether the new line of audio products from Razer live up to the expectations.

Gigabyte-Z97X-Gaming-3-Motherboard_Official_1
Hardware

Introduction

With over 20 million motherboard shipments over the last year, we are talking about the one and only, Gigabyte. Founded in 1986, Gigabyte has become the pioneer of the motherboard industry with a large lineup of products that not only include boards but All-In-Ones, Laptops, Tablets and Gaming Peripherals. As of 2013, the company matches ASUS as the vendor with most shipments of boards giving an idea of the company’s growth in the current year.

With the launch of Intel’s Haswell platform, Gigabyte launched four tiers of lineups for their motherboards -Gaming/Overclocking/Ultra Durable/Black Edition (BK). Each lineup is built for a specific range of consumers. With the 9-Series chipset, Gigabyte is expanding their motherboard line with new products, one of which will be detailed in this review.

Today, we will be taking a look at the entry level Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 3 motherboard which is part of the G1 Gaming lineup which is aimed towards the gaming and mainstream audience. You will find some useful features like Killer LAN and Audio chipsets on this board due to its line positioning but comes at a low cost of $132.99 US which is the affordable range for any budget user. But before we talk about the board itself, let’s take a look at the new chipset and socket which support the latest Haswell processors.

NZXT-Phantom-820_8
Hardware

Introduction

The PC chassis is often the most overlooked in terms of a new setup, but is one of my most favorite aspects of building a brand new computer. High-end chassis are incredibly broad and varied, and sometimes there is a sea of features that can become confusing for people who are looking into liquid cooling and what not. The NZXT Phantom 820 is everything that anyone would ever really want at $249.99. It comes with a sleek design and is a dream for air/liquid cooling fanbases worldwide.

Nest_Logo
Industry

Google purchased Nest this January for a modest $ 3.2 Billion. With the purchase of the company, it was also able to get its hands on the company’s founder, Tony Fadell. Fadell himself had already had an illustrious career in the tech industry. He is credited to have designed the iPod, Apple’s mp3 player that changed the way we looked at devices forever. In fact, he was also known to have charmed the impossible to please Steve Jobs himself. Now with Nest under its belt, the potential for Google to experiment with and develop automated homes is indeed unlimited. Currently, there are two automated home kits on the market, the other being Apple’s HomeKit. However, its Google’s Nest which ends up offering some very interesting features currently.

Nest-devices-2

Intel-Logo
Hardware

[Editorial] It would seem that what is probably the first time in many years, Intel’s Delays are following a never-before-seen pattern. It always troubled me that the ultra high end spectrum of the consumer processors (HEDT) was one microarchitectural generation (is that even a term?) behind.  At any given time there were at least two architectures in the same consumer spectrum which is slightly odd. However after these delays, we might see three microarchitectures spanning the generations, which in my humble opinion is simply capitalistic insanity.

Intel Broadwell Delay Analysis

A Big Wibbly Wobly Mess of Concurrent Processor Architectures – Intel’s Roadmap Delay

So here is the problem, according to latest reports, Intel’s Skylake processors will be arriving in Q2 of next year (I don’t  know whether its still valid anymore after the latest Broadwell-K delay or not) and Broadwell-K is actually slated for arrival after Skylake-S (which will consist entirely of locked processors) is released. So here we have our first oddity, an older architecture is slated for arrival after a newer generation? The obvious solution is ofcourse that the Broadwell-k delay to Q3 has also shifted the release of Skylake-S so that both the locked and unlocked siblings can release at the same time. Admittedly that would make slightly more sense. Basically around this same time, we would be looking at Haswell-E which is the successor to Ivy Bridge-E (Intel’s current HEDT spectrum) which as the name betrays is the Ivy Bridge architecture. So in Q2-Q3 2015 we will have Haswell-E on the 22nm node, Broadwell-E on the 14nm node and Skylake-S (which is a different architecture) on the 14nm node. Quoting something Dr.Who never said, its an absolute wibbly wobbly mess of Processor Microarchitectures.

nvidia-geforce-gtx-logo
Hardware

Our chinese friends over at Mydrivers have just unveiled pictures of the Maxwell flagship Geforce GTX 880. The pictures clearly show the die which has been manufactured by TSMC, and not only that it shows the TDP as well as other minute details. So enjoy this very significant (and the first real leak) of the possible GTX 880 Maxwell Flagship.

Maxwell-GTX-750-

Nvidia Maxwell Flagship Geforce GTX 880 Spotted – 375W of TDP and 8GB of Memory

Alright first thing is first. You can clearly see 8 Hynix memory chips on the picture so we are looking at 8GB of vram and possibly 16GB of vram for professional counterparts. The code 1421A1 can be seen clearly which means that its i s the A1 revision of the die which was manufactured in the first 21 weeks of 2014, which means May 19-25. Basically you are looking at a completely fresh die that has been rolled from TSMC (notice the word Taiwan? that means it is TSMC). We can also see 1 Eight Pin and 2 Six Pin Connectors which amounts to a grand total of  of 375W (PCI-e: 75W, 2x6Pin: 75Wx2 and 8 Pin: 150W). Actually 2 Eight pin power connectors can achieve the same load but this is done to increase stability and take of most of the load from the PCI-E. So we could see TDP of around 300-375W.

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Software

Android L and iOS 8 are set to see a fall release this year bringing up the regular Google vs Apple battle. This year is specifically more heated as Google has shifted its design focus to an entirely new era with Material Design. On the other hand, Apple made this shift last year with introducing minimal, flatter design philosophy for iOS 7. Apple is expected to make its iOS 8, thus, more features-rich than design-focused. The two new versions of rival tech giants do deserve a side by side, Android L vs iOS 8 comparison based on whatever we know so far.android l vs ios 8

This post is no way trying to take side of on mobile OS over the other considering the definite differentiating points of the both OS. However, you are free to stay on whatever territory you are as we are all well aware of how a mobile consumer is supposed to be either a crazy Apple fan or a maniac FAndroider.

Recommended read: Improved Battery Life Proves to be the Unsung Feature of Android L

Android L vs iOS 8:

One thing that was apparent in Google I/O this year was a focus on Material Design, introduced at the conference itself. From Android Wear to Android L, Google is gearing towards a complete ecosystem design shift. Offering consistency across Android, Chrome OS, Desktop, Chrome browser, and the Android Wear, Google aims to offer a user interface that is aesthetically clean and uncluttered.

HIS Radeon R9 280 IceQ X2 OC 3 GB GDDR5_Official_6
Hardware

Introduction

Here we are back again to review another one of AMD’s latest Radeon R9 graphics card from their AIC partner HIS (Hightech Information Systems). Almost two and half years have been passed since AMD introduced their GCN core architecture and it shouldn’t be a surprise if I told you that the architecture is still being featured on AMD’s latest Volcanic Islands Radeon R7 and Radeon R9 series graphics cards.

The Volcanic Islands family is branded as the Radeon R200 series and takes performance and value to the next level. Technically speaking, the Radeon R200 series cards which include the Radeon R9 280X, Radeon R9 270X, Radeon R9 270, Radeon R7 265, Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R7 260, Radeon R7 255, Radeon R7 250X,  Radeon R7 250 and Radeon R7 240 are GCN rebrands aside from the latest Hawaii based Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290, with the addition of new features but rather than giving away the same cards at the same price ranges, AMD added a few new features which we will detail in this article and slashed the prices so much that the Tahiti chip that once was $549 can now be bought for $299 US.

Today, we will be looking at the HIS Radeon R9 280 IceQ X2 OC which is the latest GCN 1.0 rebrand featuring the Tahiti Core architecture. HIS gave us the non-reference Radeon R9 280 for the test which features their high-end IceQ X2 cooler and a beefy custom designed PCB to deliver more power over the reference models which would come handy to overclockers and enthusiasts. Boasting the well-known Tahiti Pro core which has been replaced by its successor aka the “Hawaii Pro”, AMD now offers the R9 280 (also call it a Radeon HD 7950) for $280  (now retailing for $249.99) compared with its original launch price of $449 US two years ago, surprising that the card and its price have the same number? Let’s find out whether the card lives up to the legacy that made Tahiti remain dominant in high-end and performance range for two long years.

HIS Radeon R7 260X iCooler_Official_6
Hardware

Introduction

Here we are back again to review another one of AMD’s latest Radeon R9 graphics card from their AIC partner HIS (Hightech Information Systems). Almost two and half years have been passed since AMD introduced their GCN core architecture and it shouldn’t be a surprise if I told you that the architecture is still being featured on AMD’s latest Volcanic Islands Radeon R7 and Radeon R9 series graphics cards.

The Volcanic Islands family is branded as the Radeon R200 series and takes performance and value to the next level. Technically speaking, the Radeon R200 series cards which include the Radeon R9 280X, Radeon R9 270X, Radeon R9 270, Radeon R7 265, Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R7 260, Radeon R7 255, Radeon R7 250X,  Radeon R7 250 and Radeon R7 240 are GCN rebrands aside from the latest Hawaii based Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290, with the addition of new features but rather than giving away the same cards at the same price ranges, AMD added a few new features which we will detail in this article and slashed the prices so much that the Tahiti chip that once was $549 can now be bought for $299 US.

Today, we are going to take a third look at the Radeon R7 260X, this time from AIC partner HIS. HIS provided us their Radeon R7 260X iTurbo graphics card a while back which turned out to be a a decent offering given its cost but today, we are looking at a cut-down model based on the iCooler revision which features lower clock speeds and comes at a lower price range of $129.99 US compared to $139.99 US of the reference and $149.99 US of the non-reference variants (the same price at which one could buy the Radeon R7 265 which is based on the 1024 SPs Pitcairn die). So let’s go ahead and see whether the HIS Radeon R7 260X manages to make a place in the entry level and much crowded market space.

AMD R9 Series Logo
Hardware

Update: The ending has been elaborated further.

[Editorial] Wow, these GPU leaks feel like one big roller coaster ride don’t they? just me? Ok. So I just received some pretty startling information from our friend Robbie Pyckhout who runs an emerging site BlackHoleTec. Robbie talked to me extensively via email and provided a wealth of evidence that the Hawaii XTX core, actually doesn’t exist. He has published an article on the same also which can be found on BlackHoleTec.  Now about Hawaii XTX; well I guess I better start from the beginning.

AMD Hawaii GPUHawaii Erupts.

The Hawaii XTX 48CU Core Doesn’t Exist – Does that mean no R9 295XT/XTX ?

Sadly, I cannot reveal much of the evidence he showed me, but rest assured, it was water tight. So heres the thing, one of the major sources of the rumor mill was 8Pack’s revelation, which I quote, stated, “290X is not full fat…… NDA stops me from saying much”. Seems to more or less prove that the core exists right? Well, try looking at the thread now. The comments now reads “Removed”. So either 8Pack is in trouble or there is no such thing as a Hawaii XTX Core and he corrected the mistake. Think that this one tilts both ways? I agree.

Robbie said that anyone can simply X-Ray the Hawaii XT core and notice that there aren’t anymore CUs present there apart from the original 44. You might find an odd number of CUs associated with Yield but thats about it. None of the 48 CUs of the promised Hawaii XTX core will be present. Secondly, you may have noticed that AMD has been suspiciously quiet about all this, why haven’t they denied the existence of the core outright? Well I think I know a very very plausible reason for that. See, AMD is currently in its quiet period. Which means that a publicly listed company (AMD:NYSE in this case) cannot make any announcements about anything that could cause a normal investor to change their position on the company’s stock. This is mandated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and denial or discussion of the Hawaii XTX Core/GPU most definitely falls into this one. So even if AMD wanted too, they could not squish the rumor right now. Infact, if you were to contact any PR member about this core, they just wouldn’t reply. Which could be erroneously taken as proof after the fact.

weekly shorts logo
Hardware

We are starting an experimental weekly series where we handpick a select few posts from the past week and aggregate them into one post. We will list not less than 5 and not more than 7 posts in this weekly roundup of our news. Each post will be given a brief summary which will not exceed 5 lines. So without further ado, our weekly short:weekly shorts main image

Weekly Shorts – Android L’s Release, Mantle API, FX-Series Comeback, Hawaii XTX Benches and CPU Showdown

1. Android L Announced at I/O Today – “Biggest Release”

Android L is one the biggest releases in Android history mostly for two primary reasons. Reason number uno being that it fully supports 64 bit memory addressing, which as you can guess is a pretty big deal. The second feature is that the ART runtime becomes a default, replacing the Dalvik runtime. Where apps were once compiled when opened (Just in Time Compiler) now they will be pre-compiled (Ahead of Time Compiler) and open insanely fast resulting in a much smoother GUI experience. Read More about Android L’s Release.

2. Baikal Processors to Cleansweep AMD and Intel Processors in Russian Government

This is one of the more interesting paradigm shifts in the Industry,  since Russia (or rather Vladmir Putin) has decided that Intel and AMD x86 processors are too unsafe to be used in Russia for fear of a low level backdoor. The solution? a homegrown Prussian processor based on the ARM architecture. Read More about Baikal Processors.



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