Category Archives: Processors

Amazon offering $150 off Intel and PNY Nvidia Quadro bundles

Amazon offering $150 off Intel and PNY Nvidia Quadro bundlesAmazon are currently running a series of offers with up to $150 off a selected range of Intel 15/17 processors bundled with PNY Nvidia Quadro graphics cards. They have 3 offers in all, a $30, $50 and $150 off deal when you buy the processor and card together.

The $150 offer covers the Intel i5-2300 2.8Ghz, 15-2500 3.3 Ghz, I5 2500K 3.3 Ghz and I7-2600 3.4 Ghz processors when bundled with the PNY Nvidia quadro VCQ  5000 card.

Full details on all the bundles can be found here if you’re making a new PC and looking to make a saving. The offer ends on June 5th and is eligible for Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping, that is, free shipping to addresses in the U.S.

How often do you build a PC?

Upgrading RAM.For most avid PC types, it’s less about re-building than it is upgrading along the way. But what about everyone else?

Crucial, makers of SSDs and RAM conducted their own survey of PC users in the US, UK and France earlier this year. They have been spitting out the results over the course of the day; and these are their findings so far:

  • 53% of people think their PCs should last much longer than 3 years.
  • Nearly half of Brits surveyed said “slow-speed” was their number 1 pet peeve with their PC.
  • 49% of Brits believe a RAM upgrade would inject some performance into thier current rig.
  • Meanwhile 39% of Brits fear even opening up their PC, let alone upgrading parts.

Personally, I feel a decent investment in a $1,000 PC should see you through at least a few years of gaming, without having to be thinking about upgrades. But then of course there are a plethora of different desires and expectations out there, particularly when it comes to PC gaming.

What about you. Do you upgrade every time Intel blows their horn with the announcement of a new CPU, or whenever Nvidia or AMD announce a relatively beefier graphics card? Or are you more realistic and conservative with your PC buying budget?

Related:
AlienBEware: Why You SHOULD build Your Own Gaming PC
8 of the best SSDs for your gaming rig
PCMark 7 available now

PCMark 7 available now

PCMark 7 out nowPCMark 7 is available now, having been initially slated for a May 3rd release.

The popular PC benchmarking suite from Futuremark is designed for Windows 7. Basically if you want to put your entire PC through a broad gamut of performance tests this program will give you an indication of how well your hardware is performing. You can even check and compare your score online with people who have similar or identical PC hardware.

Futuremark are offering 3 variants of PCMark 7; including a free edition which allows unlimited runs of the main test. You can download the free-edition or order the advanced or professional versions directly from the PCMark website.

PCMARK 7 BASIC EDITION – Free

  • Free PC test offering unlimited runs of the main PCMark test suite
  • Browse, search and compare results online
  • Store one result online

 

PCMARK 7 ADVANCED EDITION – $39.95 – ORDER NOW

  • Includes all 7 PC tests with more than 25 individual workloads
  • Browse, search and compare results online
  • Unlimited online results storage
  • Hide results from public view
  • Offline result management
  • Advert-free online service

 

PCMARK 7 PROFESSIONAL EDITION – $995.00 – ORDER NOW

  • Licensed for commercial PC system testing
  • Includes all 7 PC tests with more than 25 individual workloads
  • Command line automation
  • Browse, search and compare results online
  • Unlimited online results storage
  • Hide results from public view
  • Offline result management
  • Advert-free online service
  • Priority support

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Game urges players to kill Bin Laden
Deus Ex: Human Revolution releasing digitally through Steam

Nvidia giving away Duke Nukem Forever PC

Duke Nukem Forever 3D PCNvidia is teaming up with Maingear to give away a Duke Nukem Forever, 3D-capable PC.

In anticipation for the launch of the long, long, long awaited Duke Nukem Forever, Nvidia and Maingear are giving away a 3D-capable, i7, multi-GPU, water-cooled dream machine to one lucky winner. The fortuitous participant will also get a free copy of Duke Nukem Forever, naturally.

Unfortunately entry is only open to residents of the US and Canada; if that’s you visit this page. Entries will be taken until May 31st.

Duke Nukem Forever is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on June 10th internationally, and the US 4 days later on June 14th. You can  pre-order the game on PCXbox 360 and PS3 from Amazon.

Related:
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Valve patches buggy TF2 ‘Hatless Update’
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Nvidia shakes up GeForce drivers with auto-update and more
BioWare founders start auction for Japan quake victims
Valve bags nearly half a million for Japan
Fallout: New Vegas GotY Edition sighted on Amazon

Valve announces Steam Guard, wants to use Sandy Bridge technology

Intel Inside Core_i7

Valve has plans to use Sandy Bridge’s Identity Protection Technology to help protect Steam user accounts from phishing and other scams. According to Gabe Newell their “number one support issue” is account phishing and hijacking.

Steam Guard is a service that allows PC users to restrict access to their Steam account based on their hardware profile. For example, a user would receive a messege in Steam if someone tried to log in on another system.

Valve’s Doug Lombardi sees technology like this having widespread adoption in the future:

If as a customer you are buying movies, music, games, or digital goods, you want to know that they are more secure than your physical goods.

Source.

Related:
Intel slashes price of i7 960/970, introduces i7 990x
Intel drops price of i3 processor
Activision: Black Ops best-selling PS3 title ever

Computer created that fits on a pen-tip

Phoenix chip computer

The University of Michigan have announced a prototype computer just over one cubic millimeter in size, believed to be the first complete millimeter-scale computing system. Designed as an implantable eye pressure monitor for glaucoma patients, the computer consists of a low-power microprocessor, a pressure sensor, memory, a thin-film battery, a solar cell and a wireless radio to transmit data to an external reader device.

The computer achieves ultra-low power consumption with a unique power gating architecture and an extreme sleep mode:

The newest system wakes every 15 minutes to take measurements and consumes an average of 5.3 nanowatts. To keep the battery charged, it requires exposure to 10 hours of indoor light each day or 1.5 hours of sunlight. It can store up to a week’s worth of information.

Other possible uses for the micro systems suggested by the researchers include tracking pollution, monitoring structural integrity, performing surveillance, or making any object you can think of smart and trackable.

Our work is unique in the sense that we’re thinking about complete systems in which all the components are low-power and fit on the chip. We can collect data, store it and transmit it. The applications for systems of this size are endless.

More info about the Phoenix microcomputer chip:
Toward computers that fit on a pen tip: New technologies usher in the millimeter-scale computing era
Researchers create computer that fits on a pen tip

Intel slashes price of i7 960/970, introduces i7 990x

Intel price-drop on i7 960/970

Intel has quietly introduced the i7 990x Extreme Edition CPU. The 32nm chip is pretty much identical to last year’s i7 980x in every way, except a small bump in core speed. The 990x, which fits in the LGA 1366 socket and has a core clock speed of 3.46 GHz (Max turbo frequency 3.73 GHz) is retailing for $900.

Also notable for anyone wanting to go with a 6-core processor but without the desire to shell out a thousand bucks is the i7 970, which has seen its price reduced by 34% from $885 to $583.

The CPU giant also slashed the price of the quad-core i7 960 processor. Once again the 960 has identical specs to the 950, which saw a similar price drop last year. The only difference is a 200 Mhz bump in core clock speed. The 960 is down 48% to $294.

With the recent troubles Sandy Bridge is having it appears Intel is unloading old LGA 1366 stock. It’s a good time to buy if you’re not sold on Sandy Bridge. The price-drop of the i7 970 hex-core will certainly win over a few hearts and minds of people who want a 6-core chip without breaking the bank. Those who spent nearly $800 dollars last year will be kicking themselves.

Related:
AMD slash price of quad and hex-core CPUs
i7 950 price-drop on Amazon
A Sandy Bridge too far?
Intel set to lose $1bn in sales over Sandy Bridge chipset flaw

AMD slash price of quad and hex-core CPUs

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T price-cutPerhaps feeling the heat from Sandy Bridge, AMD has gone ahead with new price-cuts on some of its quad a hex-core chips. The 955 BE, 965 BE and 970 BE have seen a $10 drop in price, but the real hoopla is on the 6-core Phenom II range:

The 1055T price was slashed to $175 down from $199, while the 1090T saw a decent $30 cut. Usually retailing for $235, a Phenom II 1090T can be yours for only $205.

With Bulldozer set for a release some time this year, these prices may come down even more in the coming months, but as it stands you can get a pretty meaty hex-core processor for under $200. This is jaw-dropping when you consider Intel’s hex-core i7 980x still retails for $999.

AMD Phenom II Processor Pricing
Source: AMD

Related:
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.2 GHz
Gigabyte 6-series Replacement Program in full swing
A Sandy Bridge too far?
Intel set to lose $1bn in sales over Sandy Bridge chipset flaw

Gigabyte 6-series Replacement Program in full swing

Gigabyte

After Intel’s recent nightmare with the Sandy Bridge 6-series motherboards, Intel partners are letting customers know their intentions as far as returning the faulty chipsets.

A transistor receiving too high a voltage is to blame for the massive recall of P67 and H57 boards, causing SATA 2 ports to fail over the course of 3 years.

Gigabyte has announced it should have the updated motherboards ready for April. The company is accepting returns of all the B2 Series 6 chipsets, regardless of what condition they’re in.

If you’re among the unfortunate early adapters, (at least in the case of Gigabyte) you will have to go through your supplier and will not be dealing with the board manufacturer directly.

From Gibabyte’s website:

A recent statement from Intel indicates that they expect full 6 series chipset volume recovery in April, 2011. GIGABYTE will produce and deliver new motherboards with the updated Intel 6 series chipset when the new chipsets become available. GIGABYTE prides itself in having the highest service quality in the industry, and as such we will resolve this issue with minimal impact on our customers.

Notice: Motherboards Based on Intel® 6 Series Chipsets

Related:
A Sandy Bridge too far?
Intel set to lose $1bn in sales over Sandy Bridge chipset flaw

A Sandy Bridge too far?

Sandy Bridge Die

Intel launched its newest line of processors on the 9th of January this year (2011) bringing with it a change of socket and the addition of a GPU on the same piece of silicon (or die) as the processor. Under the code name ‘Sandy Bridge’ they released i7 2600k, i5 2500k & 2300 as well as a full host of slightly tweaked versions of the ones above (ie) more or less power and the same with the L2 cache, as Rodney Reynolds would say “far too many technology’s to list here”. If you are interested in the complete list of Sandy bridge processors you can find them HERE.

Sandy Bridge Desktop Chip

The Good: These chips are more power efficient and you get more bang from them too. Compared with the same priced i7 950, you get a more power efficient better performing chip for the same price!!!

This article may seem very late to the party given I’m writing it 3 weeks after the release date and in tech circles where ‘first’ is everything it may seem very tardy. The reason I held off this long is that I wanted to get a more ‘hands on’ feel for the processor before forming an opinion. My real pet peeve is knee jerk reactions to new hardware from people of the Internet, I think it’s short sighted and unfair to the product. That being said lets get into it shall we? I have a real love hate relationship with this new line of processors. I want to like them and on paper they do hold up well to the previous family of Clarkdale/Bloomfield processors. So why the mixed feelings I hear no one in particular ask?

First up the GOOD,

Power:

The i7 2600K is way down on power usage sucking less power than the i7 950 which price wise is its nearest rival (from Intel) meaning great performance with less drain on the system. Intel’s two fastest Sandy Bridge-based chips the Core i7-2600K and Core i7-2600 sit at 164 W when ran through 3D Mark Vantage, so does the Core i5-2500K. Compare those figures to the Core 2 Quad Q9550, which averages 161 W. Are these 32 nm chips more efficient ??? The straight answer would be YES.

Performance:

The i7 2600/2600K do brilliantly well in video encoding and file compression as well as gaming* beating out all but the very fastest Intel 970, 980 and the ridiculous 980X. Which I have to say is amazing! There is no point mentioning the AMD Phenom line of processors here, it has been shown in the past the Intel 900 range of chips beat out the AMD Phenom range in most if not all the benchmarks used to test processors so it goes without saying the new 2600’s would beat them too. These new processors are more power efficient and you get more bang from them too.

*using GeForce GTX 580 GFX card not on-die video chip

Price:

This is when during my research my jaw did fall open, the new i7 2600 can be purchased for the rather shocking price of £239.99 and the i7 2600K for £251.99. When compared to the i7 950 £239.99 or the obscene i7 970 £719,99 you really have to be impressed with the price of the new i7 2600’s. Just to clarify the i7 2600 was better or wiped the floor with the same priced i7 950, in conclusion you are getting a more power efficient better performing chip for the same price!!! It’s a very good deal indeed.

Next up the BAD,

Lack of Value:

There is some really weird things going on in the Intel HQ at the moment. Only last year they released a new socket 1156 and 1366. The new processors i7 2600, 2600K etc only run in an 1155 socket and Intel have not and will not offer an upgrade path to people who bought an i7 950 before January 2011. This might seem an unfair thing for me to expect from Intel but let me explain. If you bought an i7 950 you would also have to buy a compatible motherboard and guess who makes the chipsets on those boards????? Intel that’s who, all those motherboards run x58 chipsets so Intel makes money on the motherboard and the processor. That is business and I understand all that, my problem is that if I then want to upgrade from say an i5 650 to an i7 2600k I now have to replace my motherboard as well. Suddenly the £239.99 for the i7 2600 doesn’t look so nice when you have to add the cost of a new motherboard* to the equation.

*H67 Motherboards at an average price of £100
*P67 high end Motherboards at an average price of £150

Intel Inside Core_i7 badge

Already out of date: Sandy Bridge processors are not compatible with Intel’s 5-series chipsets and do not support USB 3.0, they also only support DirectX 10.1. Ivy-Bridge is slated for release in Q4 2011 and it will use 22nm (to Sandy Bridge's 32nm) technology and a more powerful DirectX 11 GPU.

Who is its target audience?:

Intel are doing their marketing the way they always do with their new products, saying how hardcore and powerful this new generation of processors are, and aiming the advertisements at gamers first and foremost. But this is where I can’t make any sense of it. No PC gamer worth their salt would use onboard GFX so why market it at them? The only place I see the ‘Sandy Bridge’ being good and onboard GFX being useful is on laptops and tablet PCs.

Already out of Date:

Sandy Bridge processors are not compatible with Intel’s 5-series chipsets and do not support USB 3.0, they also only support DirectX 10.1. According to Intel “it wasn’t time to go for the newer DirectX 11 technology with Sandy Bridge”. Another BOMBSHELL to hit poor old Sandy Bridge is that Ivy-Bridge is slated to be release in Q4 2011 and it will use 22nm (to Sandy Bridge’s 32nm) technology and a more powerful DirectX 11 GPU. There are even rumors that it will support USB 3.0. Because of the above reasons I would find it hard to recommend the Sandy Bridge processor to anybody thinking of upgrading or buying a new PC.

Final thoughts:

I have to admit that I was impressed by Sandy Bridge’s performance. Existing Clarkdale and Bloomfield processors already offer strong performance compared to AMD’s Phenom lineup. Significant gains, clock-for-clock, compound in the face of notable frequency increases across the board (thanks to a mature 32 nm process), giving Sandy Bridge an even more commanding position. But I just can’t shake the fact that with the release of the 1155 socket it now means there are no less than three different processor sockets under the Core i7 brand: LGA1366, LGA1156 and the new LGA1155. I am someone who has been building PCs since the Intel 478 days, I’ve built AMD and Intel based PCs over the years and I would say I am more aware of new hardware and technologys than the average consumer and I have to say that at this point in time I find it way too confusing looking at Intel’s current line up.

McGriff – Follow McGriff on Twitter

Related:
Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 Ghz
Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30 Ghz
Intel Core i5-23002.80 GHz
Intel set to lose $1bn in sales over Sandy Bridge chipset flaw
AlienBEware: Why You SHOULD build Your Own Gaming PC
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Are PC gamers more budget-conscious than ever before?
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Are games getting easier?

Intel set to lose $1bn in sales over Sandy Bridge chipset flaw

The CPU giant has been forced to halt production of anymore Sandy Bridge chipsets. There is a design flaw in a support chip (on the P67 and H57 boards) that may cause the SATA connections on the motherboards to degrade over time and cause hard drives or optical drives to under-perform. This blunder is going to delay replacement boards until late February and cost the company a cool $1 billion in sales.

Intel started shipping the dodgy chips on the 9th of January and it appears both the next-generation i5 and i7 chipsets are affected. To be sure, there is no design flaw with the Sandy Bridge processor itself, rather a support chip on the motherboard that hosts the CPU.

Intel will be working with OEMs to take back the faulty chipsets and replace them for customers, but although they have already begun re-manufacturing the new boards it may take until late February before customers are sent out their replacements.

Has this new development cast a terminal sting for the much lauded Sandy Bridge? Only time will tell. One thing remains certain, AMD fanboys are going to eat this up like a t-bone steak.

Intel chipset flaw causes recall and reduced sales

Related:
A Sandy Bridge too far?
25% of Steam users still on XP

25% of Steam users still on XP

Steam Hardware & Software Survey: December 2010

It’s been a few months since I last took a look at Valve’s PC hardware statistics. As I’m sure most of you already know, Valve periodically releases results of a hardware survey they conduct from within the Steam software. Information is gathered from a user’s machine – like which processor they use, how much system ram they have, hard drive space etc. It can be fun to see the demographic you yourself fit into in the overall hardware pallet. Let’s take a brief look December’s results.

Processors:

Intel vs AMD

Unsurprisingly Intel has a monopoly on processors, but you might be surprised at just how much. According to Valve’s December Hardware & Software Study, 72.37% of its users have Intel processors. This dwarfs AMD’s small footprint of a mere 27.63%.

Processor Cores

As more and more PCs are equipped with multi-core CPUs, let’s take a look at the percentages. Single-core processors make up 9.79% (down from 11.22% in October). Dual-core is still the dominant blend with a whopping 52.11% share (but that is down from 56.97%). Quad-cores are on the rise accounting for 35.90% (slightly up from 33.13 in October); with hex-core still in its infancy, only 0.74% are booting up their Steam-based machines with 6 processing cores. This is obviously bound to change with AMD’s low-cost Phenom II x6 processors.

Graphics Cards:

As with Intel, Nvidia also makes up a larger share of the pie with 59.11% of users having their GPUs, compared to AMD’s 32.98% market share (unchanged from October). Tragically 6.22 % still use on-board Intel graphics. Maybe we should take a moment’s pause to reflect on their pain. Why are they even using Steam? Although they may be slightly less fortunate if the new Sandy Bridge GPU can handle Portal 2.

Interestingly enough only 0.56% of users have 1.5Gb of Vram. It looks like Nvidia’s GTX 480 is not too popular among users of Steam.

System Ram:

Ram is not quite as important as it once was when it comes to gaming with 4-6 Gb being the mainstay for most avid gamers. 22.18% (down from 24.04%) are still on 2Gb, with 27.16% using 3Gb. 4Gb users are a slightly smaller bunch with 27.38% (up ever-so-slightly from 26.00%). Do you use more than 5Gb of ram? You’re in an illustrious club of 15.76%.

Operating systems:

It seems that Windows XP just won’t die. Microsoft has cut off the life-support machine, and many PC vendors have already stopped supporting the aging OS. But like a stubborn old man, XP fights on with 24.64% (down 0.85%). I should note that Windows 7 64-bit has surpassed XP with 35.09%. The use of Vista 32-bit remains steady at 13.53%.

Conclusion:

Has anything changed? Well, not a whole lot since October. Single and dual-core CPU usage is slightly down. Quad-core has made a fairly promising gain, although hex-core gaming clearly has along way to come.

XP is still not accepting death just yet. Although usage is down slightly, a staggering 24.64% still consider the aging OS to be where it’s at.

Windows 7 is on the rise, with a lot more people adopting the 64-bit variety to take advantage of all that RAM they invested in.

Related:
Windows 7 Service Pack 1, not quite ready

Intel to pay Nvidia a cool 1.5 billion for licensing

Intel and Nvidia have signed a new licensing agreement which will see $1.5 billion flow into Nvidia’s coffers over the next six years. Intel will pay out the cash in return for future access to Nvidia’s technology and the agreement settles all outstanding legal disputes between the companies:

Under the new agreement, Intel will have continued access to NVIDIA’s full range of patents. In return, NVIDIA will receive an aggregate of $1.5 billion in licensing fees, to be paid in annual installments, and retain use of Intel’s patents, consistent with its existing six-year agreement with Intel. This excludes Intel’s proprietary processors, flash memory and certain chipsets for the Intel platform.

The two companies had been embroiled in a legal dispute which prevented Nvidia from building graphics technology that connected to Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors.

Info:
Statement from Nvidia
Statement from Intel
Nvidia Suspends Chipset Development For Intel – Oct ’09

Nvidia’s Keggonator shown off at CES

An Nvidia rep shows off a PC in a keg at this year’s CES. This water-cooled barrel of bad-boy contains a mobile Sandy Bridge chip and 2 of Nvidia’s flagship dx11 cards, the GTX 580 in SLI. And before you ask, yes that beer tap at the top actually works. There’s also ample room inside for your ale.

Related:
Nvidia release new beta drivers, add support for GTX 570/580

December 7th is the day Futuremark kills your PC

3DMark 11

Set your calenders for December 7th. Futuremark will finally be ready to usher in a new era of PCs that were once considered fast, turned into snails. The next version of the Finnish company’s popular PC benchmark suite was delayed a few days back due to some bugs in the software. But it seems all that is in the past and any inconsistencies have been ironed out.

There will be a free version of the software for the average Joe to download, but it will contain advertisements, and lack some of the functionality of the more advanced version. But if you’re a hardware reviewer then I’m sure it’s worth splashing out $20 for the full program.

Full details and pre-ordering here.

Related:
3DMark 11 delayed, possible release in a few days
3DMark Vantage, world record broken. Who cares?
Overclocking the MSI N460 GTX Cyclone
AlienBEware: Why You SHOULD build Your Own Gaming PC
AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back

Friday’s hardware roundup

Intel Core i7

Here’s a look at Amazon.com’s best-selling PC hardware on this, the 3rd of December 2010. Info comes from Amazon’s statistics.

No real change on the processor front from last week. The Core i3/5/7 are all selling well. EVGA are still on top with their variant of Nvidia’s GTX 460, a top seller in both 768 and 1024Mb flavours.

Intel processors:

No. 1: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
No. 2: Intel Core i5 750 Processor 2.66 GHz 8 MB LGA1156
No. 3: Intel Core i3 Processor i3-540 3.06GHz 4MB LGA1156
No. 4: Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz 8 MB LGA1156
No. 5: Intel Core i5 Processor i5-650 3.20GHz 4MB LGA1156

AMD processors:

No. 1: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition 3.2Ghz
No. 2: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8Ghz
No. 3: Phenom II X4 965 Black AM3 3.4Ghz
No. 4: AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0 GHz
No. 5: AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2 GHz

Video cards:

No. 1: EVGA nVidia GeForce GT 220 1 GB DDR3
No. 2: Sapphire Radeon HD4550 512 MB DDR3
No. 3: EVGA 01G-P3-N959TR GeForce 9500 GT 1GB
No. 4: EVGA  GeForce GTX460 768MB DDR5
No. 5: ZOTAC nVidia GeForce 8400GS 512 MB DDR2

Motherboards:

No. 1: Intel DX58SO Extreme Series X58
No. 2: Intel DP55KG Extreme Series
No. 3: Intel Core i7/i5 LGA1156
No. 4: MSI G31TM-P21 LGA 775
No. 5: Intel DP55WB Media Series P55

RAM:

No. 1: Kingston Apple 2GB Kit (2x1GB Modules)
No. 2: Crucial CT2KIT25664BC1067 4GB 204-PIN PC3-8500 SODIMM DDR3 Memory KIT (2GBx2)
No. 3: Crucial CT2KIT25664BC1067 4GB 204-PIN
No. 4: Crucial 2 GB Kit (2 x 1GB) DDR PC3200 UNBUFFERED NON-ECC
No. 5: Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator 6 GB 3 x 2 GB PC3-12800 1600MHz

Mechanical hard drives:

No. 1: Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green
No. 2: Seagate Barracuda LP 2 TB 5900RPM
No. 3: Seagate Barracuda 7200 1.5 TB 7200RPM
No. 4: Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower
No. 5: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB

Solid state drives:

No. 1: Kingston SSDNow V Series 64 GB SATA 3 GB/s
No. 2: Intel 2.5-Inch 160 GB X25-M Mainstream SATA II MLC
No. 3: Intel 80 GB X25M Mainstream SATA II
No. 4: Intel 40 GB X25-V Value SATA II MLC
No. 5: Kingston SSDNow V Series 128 GB SATA 3 GB/s

PC Cases:

No. 1: Cooler Master RC-922M-KKN1-GP HAF 922M ATX Mid Tower Case (Black)
No. 2: Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External
No. 3: Cooler Master CM 690 II Advance ATX Mid-Tower Case
No. 4: Cooler Master HAF 932 High Air Flow ATX Full Tower
No. 5: Cooler Master Elite 310 ATX, MATX Mid Tower Case

Power supplies:

No. 1: Corsair CMPSU-750TX 750-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified
No. 2: Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified
No. 3: Thermaltake W0070RUC TR2 Series 430W
No. 4: Cooler Master Elite 460W ATX +12V V2.31
No. 5: Corsair CMPSU-550VX 550-Watt VX Series 80 Plus Certified

Optical drives:

No. 1: Lite-On LightScribe 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive IHAS424-98 – Retail (Black)
No. 2: Samsung SH-S222L/BEBS Internal Half Height Supermulti PATA 22X
No. 3: Samsung SH-S222A/BEBE Internal Half Height Supermulti PATA 22X
No. 4: Buffalo Technology MediaStation 8X External Blu-Ray Burner USB 2.0
No. 5: LG Electronics GDR-8163B 16x DVD-ROM Drive

Sound cards:

No. 1: Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card
No. 2: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Wireless Audio
No. 3: Creative Labs SB1090 USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Audio System
No. 4: Creative Labs SB0880 PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
No. 5: PCISOUND4LP Pci 4CHANNEL Sound Card

LCD displays:

No. 1: ViewSonic VX2250WM-LED 22-Inch
No. 2: Viewsonic VX2450WM-LED 24-Inch
No. 3: ViewSonic VA2231W-LED 22-Inch
No. 4: HP 2010i 20-Inch Diagonal HD Ready
No. 5: ViewSonic VA2431WM 24-Inch

Related:
Amazon are ‘leaking’ all of today’s Black Friday deals early on Twitter
A few codes and promos for Black Friday
Who’s to blame?

No more processor price-cuts until Sandy Bridge?

Consumers may have to wait until next month for further price cuts

If you were hoping for another processor price-drop from Intel, you might have to wait a little longer. Intel’s latest processor price-list shows no move in any quarter.

Late in August we saw a massive reduction in the cost of the i7 950, then in mid-October we saw a drop in the price of the i3 processor. But this month’s processor price-list reveals no such niceties. With next year’s Sandy Bridge processors on the horizon, it might be January 5, 2011 (or later) before Intel revise the current i3/5/7 range of CPUs.

Related:
Valve’s hardware statistics for October, has anything changed?
Best-selling PC hardware, this Black Friday

Valve’s hardware statistics for October, has anything changed?

Valve's Hardware & Software Survey

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look at Valve’s PC hardware statistics. As I’m sure most of you already know, Valve periodically releases results of a hardware survey they conduct from within the Steam software. Information is gathered from a user’s machine – like what processor they use, how much system ram they have, hard drive space etc. It can be fun to see the demographic you yourself fit into in the overall hardware pallet. Let’s take a brief look October’s results.

Processors:

Intel vs AMD

Unsurprisingly Intel has a monopoly on processors, but you might be surprised at just how much. According to Valve’s October Hardware & Software Study, 72.37% of its users have Intel processors. This dwarfs AMD’s small footprint of a mere 27.63%.

Processor Cores

As more and more PCs are equipped with multi-core CPUs, let’s take a look at the percentages. Single-core processors still make up 11.22%, that’s down from over 14% 2 months ago. Dual-core seems to be the dominant blend with a whopping 56.97% share. Quad-cores are on the rise but still only account for 33.13, up from 27.24%. With hex-core still in its infancy, only 0.57% (up from 0.43%) are booting up their Steam-based machines with 6 processing cores. This is obviously bound to change with AMD’s low-cost Phenom II x6 processors and whatever lower-priced variants Intel unleash next year.

Graphics Cards:

As with Intel, Nvidia also makes up a larger share of the pie with 59.11% of users having their GPUs, compared to AMD’s 32.98% market share. Tragically 6.22 % still use on-board Intel graphics. Maybe we should take a moment’s pause to reflect on their pain. Why are they even using Steam?

Interestingly enough only 0.56% of users have 1.5Gb of Vram. It looks like Nvidia’s GTX 480 is not too popular among users of Steam.

System Ram:

Ram is not quite as important as it once was when it comes to gaming with 4-6 Gb being the mainstay for most avid gamers. 24.04% (down from 26.9%) are still on 2Gb, with 27.02% using 3Gb. 4Gb users are a slightly smaller bunch with 26.00% (up from 22.9%) of the chart. Do you use more than 4Gb of ram? You’re in an illustrious club of  14.06%.

Operating systems:

It seems that Windows XP just won’t die. Microsoft has cut off the life-support machine, and many PC vendors have already stopped supporting the aging OS. But like a stubborn old man, XP fights on with 26.55% (down from 31.49%). I should note that Windows 7 64-bit has surpassed XP with 33.37%  (up from 29.62%). The 32-bit version of Vista still has a surprising 13.65% of users, but this is on the decline as you would expect.

Conclusion:

Has anything changed? Well, not a whole lot since August. Single-core CPU usage is slightly down while dual-core hasn’t changed at all. Quad core has made a promising gain of 5%, although 6 core gaming clearly has along way to come.

No real push on the GPU front but this may change over the next few months with newer cards from both ATI and Nvidia already released with more on the way.

I’m convinced there is a deity operating chest-paddles on Windows XP. Microsoft’s aging OS has had its life-support machine cut off, no more care has been given to it, but XP must have a stronger heart than Microsoft realized and is not looking likely to call it a day any time soon. I guess a lot of people running Direct x 9 titles are still happy with the plucky little senior citizen.

Windows 7 is on the rise, with a lot more people adopting the 64-bit variety to take advantage of all that RAM they invested in.

Best-selling PC hardware, this Black Friday

Intel Core i7

With Black Friday in full swing and everyone rushing for the best deals, I’ve taken a look at the top 5 best selling PC hardware components, right from Amazon’s statistics. I’ve included (practically) the full gamut of PC peripherals.

Intel processors:

No. 1: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
No. 2: Intel Core i5 750 Processor 2.66 GHz 8 MB LGA1156
No. 3: Intel Core i3 Processor i3-540 3.06GHz 4MB LGA1156
No. 4: Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz 8 MB LGA1156
No. 5: Intel Core i5 Processor i5-650 3.20GHz 4MB LGA1156

AMD processors:

No. 1: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition 3.2Ghz
No. 2: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8Ghz
No. 3: Phenom II X4 965 Black AM3 3.4Ghz
No. 4: AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0 GHz
No. 5: AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2 GHz

Video cards:

No. 1: EVGA nVidia GeForce GT 220 1 GB DDR3
No. 2: Sapphire Radeon HD4550 512 MB DDR3
No. 3: EVGA 01G-P3-N959TR GeForce 9500 GT 1GB
No. 4: EVGA  GeForce GTX460 768MB DDR5
No. 5: ZOTAC nVidia GeForce 8400GS 512 MB DDR2

Motherboards:

No. 1: Intel DX58SO Extreme Series X58
No. 2: Intel DP55KG Extreme Series
No. 3: Intel Core i7/i5 LGA1156
No. 4: MSI G31TM-P21 LGA 775
No. 5: Intel DP55WB Media Series P55

RAM:

No. 1: Kingston Apple 2GB Kit (2x1GB Modules)
No. 2: Crucial CT2KIT25664BC1067 4GB 204-PIN PC3-8500 SODIMM DDR3 Memory KIT (2GBx2)
No. 3: Crucial CT2KIT25664BC1067 4GB 204-PIN
No. 4: Crucial 2 GB Kit (2 x 1GB) DDR PC3200 UNBUFFERED NON-ECC
No. 5: Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator 6 GB 3 x 2 GB PC3-12800 1600MHz

Mechanical hard drives:

No. 1: Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green
No. 2: Seagate Barracuda LP 2 TB 5900RPM
No. 3: Seagate Barracuda 7200 1.5 TB 7200RPM
No. 4: Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower
No. 5: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB

Solid state drives:

No. 1: Kingston SSDNow V Series 64 GB SATA 3 GB/s
No. 2: Intel 2.5-Inch 160 GB X25-M Mainstream SATA II MLC
No. 3: Intel 80 GB X25M Mainstream SATA II
No. 4: Intel 40 GB X25-V Value SATA II MLC
No. 5: Kingston SSDNow V Series 128 GB SATA 3 GB/s

PC Cases:

No. 1: Cooler Master RC-922M-KKN1-GP HAF 922M ATX Mid Tower Case (Black)
No. 2: Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External
No. 3: Cooler Master CM 690 II Advance ATX Mid-Tower Case
No. 4: Cooler Master HAF 932 High Air Flow ATX Full Tower
No. 5: Cooler Master Elite 310 ATX, MATX Mid Tower Case

Power supplies:

No. 1: Corsair CMPSU-750TX 750-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified
No. 2: Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified
No. 3: Thermaltake W0070RUC TR2 Series 430W
No. 4: Cooler Master Elite 460W ATX +12V V2.31
No. 5: Corsair CMPSU-550VX 550-Watt VX Series 80 Plus Certified

Optical drives:

No. 1: Lite-On LightScribe 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive IHAS424-98 – Retail (Black)
No. 2: Samsung SH-S222L/BEBS Internal Half Height Supermulti PATA 22X
No. 3: Samsung SH-S222A/BEBE Internal Half Height Supermulti PATA 22X
No. 4: Buffalo Technology MediaStation 8X External Blu-Ray Burner USB 2.0
No. 5: LG Electronics GDR-8163B 16x DVD-ROM Drive

Sound cards:

No. 1: Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card
No. 2: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Wireless Audio
No. 3: Creative Labs SB1090 USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Audio System
No. 4: Creative Labs SB0880 PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
No. 5: PCISOUND4LP Pci 4CHANNEL Sound Card

LCD displays:

No. 1: ViewSonic VX2250WM-LED 22-Inch
No. 2: Viewsonic VX2450WM-LED 24-Inch
No. 3: ViewSonic VA2231W-LED 22-Inch
No. 4: HP 2010i 20-Inch Diagonal HD Ready
No. 5: ViewSonic VA2431WM 24-Inch

Related:
Amazon are ‘leaking’ all of today’s Black Friday deals early on Twitter
A few codes and promos for Black Friday
Who’s to blame?

Lego-men assemble Dual GTX 580 gaming rig

Preparing the GTX 580 for water-cooling

Careful not to damage the pins lads

Why build a PC yourself when you can get a legion of lego workers to do it for you? Vector, from the PDXLAN user forums clearly had enough of manually assembling PCs, so he looked towards the cheap labour of lego-men.

It took them a little longer, but they were able to assemble this Dual-GTX 580 rig with time for tea and biscuits at the end.

Check out their progress.

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New game releases for the coming week Nov 22 – Nov 29
Top-selling Intel processors this Black Friday

3DMark 11 coming November 30th

Futurmark have announced (via a press release) the official launch date for the next iteration of their popular PC benchmarking suite. 3DMark Vantage is still widely used by hardware reviewers and benchmarking enthusiasts, but its lack of support for Directx 11 is leaving it a little aged in the current climate of gaming rigs. 3DMark 11 will be released in 8 days time on November 30th, and will be the new basis for measuring dx 11 gaming performance of PCs.

The free edition, which features the “Performance PC benchmark preset” will be available for download, but if you have $19.99 of disposable cash you can snag the advanced edition. Below is a quick comparison of both editions:

3DMARK 11 BASIC EDITION – Free, available from November 30

  • Performance PC benchmark preset
  • Audio visual demo, fixed at 720p
  • Browse, search and compare results online
  • Store one result online
  • 3DMARK 11 ADVANCED EDITION – $19.95 – PRE-ORDER NOW

  • Entry level PC benchmark preset
  • Performance PC benchmark preset
  • Extreme PC benchmark preset
  • Custom benchmark settings
  • Audio visual demo, custom resolutions
  • Benchmark looping for stability testing
  • Browse, search and compare results online
  • Unlimited online results storage
  • Hide results from public view
  • Offline result management
  • Advert-free online service
  • Related:
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    Best-selling AMD processors
    Top-selling Intel processors this Black Friday

    Best-selling AMD processors

    AMD Phenom II x6Thinking of building an AMD rig this Christmas? Interested in which processors are the best/worst selling? With all the hoopla around Amazon’s Black Friday deals, I’ve taken a look at which AMD chips are selling more units.

    Top-selling AMD CPUs:

    No. 1: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition

    No. 2: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T

    No. 3: AMD Phenom II X2 555

    No. 4: AMD Sempron 140

    No. 5: AMD Phenom II X4 955

    AMD’s flagship CPU, the hexacore Phenom II X6 1090T has the top spot, with the slightly slower 1055T coming up the rear. These chips offer a much lower price than their Intel counterparts, and would suite anyone looking to get the best bang for buck without sacrificing much on performance. Dual-core ain’t dead just yet, with third place being filled by AMD’s X2 555 CPU. In last place we see AMD’s 3.2Ghz quad core chip the Phenom II X4 955.

    Don’t forget to keep an eye on Amazon over the coming days, as they slash prices in every product category for Black Friday.

    Related:
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    AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back
    Intel say a 1,000 core processor is possible
    New game releases for the coming week Nov 22 – Nov 29

    Top-selling Intel processors this Black Friday

    i7 950

    With Amazon in full-swing with Black Friday and all that jazz, I thought I’d take a look and see which Intel processors are coming off Amazon’s shelves the fastest.

    Top-selling Intel processors:

    No. 1: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366

    No. 2: Intel Core i5 750 Processor 2.66 GHz 8 MB LGA1156

    No. 3: Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz 8 MB LGA1156

    No. 4: Intel Core i3 Processor i3-540 3.06GHz 4MB LGA1156

    No. 5: Intel Core i3 Processor i3-530 2.93GHz 4MB LGA1156

    No surprises with the number one spot. After the i7 950′s price was slashed a few months back, it has become a much sought after CPU, ideal for single and multi-GPU gaming configurations. The much-loved i5 is doing well in second place – if you’re not into shelling out the cash for an i7, this chip is a solid alternative. The dual-core i3 recently saw a decrease in price from Intel, so in 4th and 5th we see budget gamers are whipping these processors up.

    Don’t forget to keep an eye on Amazon over the next 5 days, as they offer daily deals from all their product categories.

    Related:
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    New game releases for the coming week Nov 22 – Nov 29

    Intel say a 1,000 core processor is possible

    Intel Single Chip Cloud ComputerAn interesting tidbit via 3DGameman: the architecture for the experimental Intel 48-core Single Chip Cloud Computer is arbitrarily scalable and could in principle scale to 1,000 cores according to Intel researcher Timothy Mattson,who spoke at the Supercomputer 2010 conference in New Orleans. After the one-thousandth core is added (in theory) performance is impacted:

    “This is an architecture that could, in principle, scale to 1,000 cores,” he said. ” I can just keep adding, adding, adding cores.”

    Only after 1,000 cores or so, the diameter of the mesh, or the on-chip network connecting the many cores, will grow to such an extent that it would negatively impact performance, Mattson said.

    Intel: 1,000-core processor possible

    Related:
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    Best CPU Cooler Performance: Intel Q3-2010

    Best CPU Cooler Performance: Intel Heatsinks Q3-2010

    Motherboard sockets come and go, but processors can always be depended on the create heat. For a short while longer, Intel’s LGA1366 socket on the X58-Express remains the platform of choice for hardware enthusiasts and performance overclockers. Heatsink manufacturers haven’t made much noise recently, holding back CPU cooler announcements until after Intel’s Sandy Bridge LGA1155 socket is launched. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests a few newcomer heatsinks against a collection of solid past performers in this Best CPU Cooler Performance: Intel Heatsinks Q3-2010 article.

    Enthusiast overclockers demand only the best performance from their computer hardware, which is why the aftermarket heatsink industry is thriving with fierce competition. Using an overclocked Intel Core i7 processor on the X58-Express platform, only the very best CPU coolers will endure. This article introduces the CoolIt Vantage ALC, Deep Cool Gamer Storm, TITAN EVO TTC-NK85TZ/CS2, and Xigmatek Aegir SD128264 to the collection. We overclock our Intel Core i7-930 processor to 4.0 GHz using 1.40 volts to see which CPU cooler can make it into the top with the ProlimaTech Megahalems, Thermalright Venomous-X, and Scythe Mugen 2 heatsinks.

    This is a guest article written by our content partners at Benchmarkreviews.com

    Read on @ Benchmark Reviews

    Related:
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    AMD Phenom II X6 processor + MSI motherboard discount runs out on Nov 23

    AMD Phenom II x6If you’re gathering parts to make your own PC, Amazon have a deal offering a $15 discount if you buy an AMD Phenom II X6 processor with one of three MSI motherboards. The qualifying processors are the 3.2ghz and 2.8 ghz Phenom II X6 six-core processors.

    The motherboards are:
    MSI 890FX Chipset Motherboard 890FXA-GD70
    MSI 790FX ATX Motherboard
    MSI 790GX ATX Motherboard

    The deal expires on the 23rd of November, full details and specs of the components can be found here.

    Related:
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    AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back
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    Zalman CNPS9900 MAX CPU Cooler Review

    Zalman CNPS9900 MAX CPU Cooler

    Zalman CNPS9900 MAX CPU Cooler Review

    If it wasn’t just because of the CNPS10X Extreme CPU Cooler, I’d say Zalman definitively bets to produce coolers based on their unique design. I can really argue on how full tower coolers can be better for extreme overclockers or people who just want to push their hardware to the limits in non-extreme conditions. So let me start this review going 2 weeks back in time when I received the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX. Of course I was thinking this could be a good cooler, but I really couldn’t think on how it could compete in the major leagues. Some days after that, we received a “reviewer’s guide”, with detailed features and comparisons about this new product. I started reading it when I got surprised; there was a chart comparing the CNPS9900 MAX against the Thermalright Venomous X full-tower cooler and the CNPS10X too, and the CNPS9900 MAX was showing the best performance among the competition. Of course, being this from the manufacturer, I needed to take it with a grain of salt, but I was just ready to try and obtain similar results, or simply explain how sad reality is in this article. Additionally, the Venomous X was tested with an ADDA AD1212HF-A7BGL fan spinning at 2,200rpm and moving 85CFM.

    OK, so that’s how I got really interested on testing the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX, as Zalman had some very convincing features including 3 heat-pipes being equivalent to 6 (U-shaped) heat-pipes, a 135mm fan, and a very appealing black-pearl nickel plating including a mirror-finished base. Also, Zalman is launching a new heat-pipe design which is supposed to be 50% more effective in heat transfer compared to ordinary heat-pipes. Through my review, I’ll test the CNPS9900 MAX against the very popular Prolimatech Megashadow, and a pair of dual-tower heatsinks: the Cogage Arrow (pretty much the same as the new TR Silver Arrow) and the Noctua NH-D14. Before starting, let me get things straight. Don’t expect tons of charts with different fans as the CNPS9900 doesn’t have the ability to change its fan. However, keep in mind this CPU heatsink utilizes a 135mm fan (while other normally support 120mm fans) and it’s said to work at 1500 and 1700 rpm as shown in the specifications below. You can’t install a second fan either, but I’ll test with 2 different CFM configurations; one quiet and another one not very quiet, but enough to move similar CFM as the fan shipped with the CNPS9900 MAX. For more detailed information about our testing methodology please read the next pages.

    This is a guest article written by our content partners at Benchmarkreviews.com

    Read on @ Benchmark Reviews

    Related:
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    Seeing a CPU under an electron microscope

    No, that's not the latest strain of swine flu..
    Ever wondered what a CPU looks like under an electron microscope? A PhD student in nanotechnology decided to salvage a Pentium III that was going to find its way to the trash. He put the processor under an electron microscope in order to get an intimate view of the hardware that the naked eye just cannot capture; and posted some interesting images.

    Related:
    Asus reveal pics of Sandy Bridge capable motherboards

    Asus reveal pics of Sandy Bridge capable motherboards

    The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe

    Over on the Asus Facebook page, they have given a sneak peek at their next-generation Sandy Bridge capable motherboard, the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. Intel will be releasing the Sandy Bridge processor early next year, but in the meantime manufacturers are getting their boards ready for early adopters. These new processors will have Intel’s on-board video built onto the same die as the CPU, in what Intel promises will eliminate bottlenecks of a discrete graphics processor.

    Check out more pics over on Facebook.

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