The MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

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There are only a few options in the microATX market if you want all the Intel cores but want to remain small and compact. The challenger today is MSI’s X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC, which leverages the ‘Carbon’ branding from MSI to offer a cleaner look, although there are LEDs on board just in case. Due to the size there are some considerations to feature support that are worth examining.

The Plextor M8V SATA SSD Review: Toshiba 3D TLC In a Mainstream Drive

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Today we’re taking a look at Plextor’s M8V SSD. This is their latest entry-level SATA SSD and the first SATA drive from Plextor to use 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Based around Silicon Motion’s mainstream SM2258 controller and paired with Toshiba’s 64L 3D TLC, this is our first look at Toshiba’s newest NAND when paired with a more powerful controller. And, as we’ll see in our test results, while the M8V may officially be an entry-level drive, in practice it’s plenty cable of punching well above its weight, making it a surprising contendor versus current top-tier SATA drives.

Xilinx Announces Project Everest: The 7nm FPGA SoC Hybrid

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This week Xilinx is making public its latest internal project for the next era of specialized computing. The new product line, called Project Everest in the interim, is based around what Xilinx is calling an ACAP – an Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform. The idea here is that for both compute and acceleration, particularly in the data center, the hardware has to be as agile as the software. Project Everest will combine Xilinx’s highest performing next-generation programmable logic along with application processors, real-time processors, programmable engines, RF, high-speed SerDes, programmable IO, HBM, and a custom network-on-chip. The idea is that space typically devoted to hard blocks in FPGAs (such as memory controllers) are now optimized on chip, leaving more programmable silicon for the compute and adaptability. Project Everest is one of the Three Big Trends as identified by Xilinx’s new CEO, Victor Peng.

Analyzing Threadripper Thermals: Big Base Cooling Wins

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AMD’s Threadripper processors step quite far outside typical CPU designs in several ways, one of which is their relatively massive physical size. The CPU’s surface area is much greater than that of all consumer CPUs before them, including Intel’s LGA 20xx sockets. This sizable design choice is not because AMD couldn’t squeeze the CPU dies physically closer, but because Threadripper’s size is the minimum size that their engineers calculated to be effective for both the mechanical strength of the package and for sufficient heat dissipation. When Threadripper was announced, nearly all cooler manufacturers rushed to provide adapters for their products to be mounted on Threadripper processors. AMD themselves include an adapter for Asetek-based liquid coolers inside the package of the Threadripper processors. User experiences with such adapters, including our own, were less that ideal. So today we’re going to take a look at why AMD’s thermal requirements are so exaggerated and showcase why adapters are not effective.

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Gaming Headset Lineup: GameDAC Or Wireless

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SteelSeries is a well-known manufacturer in the PC accessory space, and have been in the gaming headset market for some time. Today they are launching two new products at the top of their Arctis lineup, and both of them offer some interesting new features. The first is the Arctis Pro + GameDAC, which is the first Hi-Res Certified gaming headset on the market. The second is the Arctis Pro Wireless headset, which takes many of the features of the wired model, and adds wireless to the mix. We see a lot of accessory announcements, but when SteelSeries briefed us on these two new headset models, there was a lot of interesting technology they were bringing to the table, which is always something to get excited about.

The Ulefone T2 Pro Hands-On: A 6.7-inch Stunner Smartphone

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Every trade show has a few gems. This year at MWC, one of the most impressive was from Ulefone, with its new T2 Pro smartphone. The device, due to be released in July, was an unexpected delight of the show.

What makes the phone interesting, compared to other devices on the show floor, is the design. Ulefone list it as a 6.7-inch device, with a 2160×1080 (19:9) display, but by using a combination of an edge-to-edge display, a notch for the front facing camera, and a fingerprint sensor under the screen, the device is a similar size to other Pro flagships. Ultimately what we are looking at is the future, moving to near 100% displays on the front facing real estate. We are clearly going above 90% with a device like this.

I’m going to be bold and say this is what almost all smartphone vendors will do, and soon. The notch extends the screen right to the top of the device, and keeps the camera in the same place (unlike the Mi MIX). Having the fingerprint sensor in the display (or the rear) removes almost all the bottom bezel. Until the camera can also be put into the display, this is how phones are going to go. The Ulefone T2 Pro is the second device we now know of with an in-screen fingerprint sensor, alongside a device made by Vivo, and we confirmed that the Synaptics sensor is being used.

The device has a specific ‘first’, in that it was showcased as the first implementation of MediaTek’s P70 processor. Mediatek has only just announced the P60 at Mobile World Congress, so this device is essentially preannouncing the SoC. We were not able to get specific details about it, but expect it to be a 4×4 Arm Cortex A73/A53 implementation, with Mali G72 in some form, perhaps on TSMC’s 12FFC process. We are awaiting information from Ulefone. We tried to benchmark it, but the software was very early.

Despite being such a big screen, as someone who uses ~6-inch display devices day to day, it really did not feel that different. The demo units had plastic curved rears, but we were told that the final units will be curved glass. The software on the units was super buggy and barely booted, crashing in chrome, showing just how early in the cycle these devices are. We were told that there will be some software adjustments to take account of the notch, as the OS was clearly just ignoring it at this point. The rounded corners also cause some overlap for the display, which will have to be optimized for.

So despite the device rear being broken (apparently some journalists earlier in the week dropped it on purpose?) the device felt premium. Along with the display, it we were told it will ship with 8 GB of memory, 128 GB storage, and a 5000 mAh battery. This last one I am a bit skeptical of, as the phone was very light – lighter than expected for 5000 mAh. It could be that the demo unit had a smaller battery in, but if that was representative of a final device, then it comes across as a very nice design.

This is the point that I tell you that it might be impossible to get one. Ulefone mainly operates in China as one of the secondary smartphone brands, but we were told that they are branching out to Europe at least, through retailers. We were told that the estimated price for the unit is expected to be $380, though that might be confused with the wholesale price and doesn’t include tax. Assuming the P70 is a nice and highly optimized SoC, then the T2 Pro could easily be a really nice smartphone to use. 

We don’t give awards at these shows, but this would be something close to an unexpected surprise. I hope that Ulefone can deliver.

Related Reading

The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Motherboard Review: Light up the Night

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What happens when a vendor adds 802.11ac to Killer networking? You get an ACK – specifically, the MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK. This motherboard includes 3-way SLI and Crossfire support, dual M.2 slots with a unique heatsink design attached to the chipset, both front and rear USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports, dual Realtek audio chips, Killer based networking, and plenty of RGB LEDs to light up the case. 

The HAVIT KB395L RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review: Marvelous Mechanical Minimalism

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In today’s review we are taking a look at the KB395L, a mechanical keyboard from HAVIT, a Chinese manufacturer of advanced PC peripherals. Emphasizing a minimalistic design that’s only as big as it needs to be, the KB395L sports RGB backlighting, a programmable layout, and is using Kailh’s new PG1350 blue low-profile tactile switches. And, most importantly, it may just be among the finest professional mechanical keyboards we’ve reviewed to this day.

Hands-On With the Nokia 8 Sirocco: Reviving Nokia’s ‘Dream Phone’ Concept

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BARCELONA, ESP — Nokia on Sunday introduced a new top-of-the-range, styled ‘dream’ phone, the Nokia 8 Sirocco. Nokia quoted it as perhaps one of the most awaited addition to its latest lineup of smartphones. The newcomer is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, comes with a pOLED display, and features the brand’s latest camera, which is also found on the Nokia 7 Plus handset. A key selling point of the new device, besides its performance and feature set, is the fact that it comes in IP67-rated stainless steel body, processed using diamond cut technique.


Samsung Announces The Galaxy S9 and S9+

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Today Samsung is announcing the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Both devices bring iterative designs over the Galaxy S8 – which is not a bad thing. The camera sees significant upgrades with both a new innovative camera sensor as well as an industry first-adjustable lens that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures. Having the same screen and battery capacities as the S8 might seem like a step sideways, but the one thing where the S9 improves on is with the internals. While the Snapdragon 845 SoC is a conservative generational update, the Exynos 9810 looks to shake up the market with, until now, a unexpected generational jump.

MWC 2018: Huawei Press Event Live Blog (1pm UTC, 8am ET)

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In a surprising twist of events, Huawei has taken over one of the largest venues in Barcelona for its press event this year. The building we are in has typically been the Samsung venue, but this year it seems Huawei has the contract. We are out-of-cycle for Huawei’s expected smartphone launches, with an event in Paris in a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see what the company will be announcing here.

TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt 3 External SSD Review

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Flash-based external direct-attached storage (DAS) devices have evolved rapidly over the last few years. Starting with simple thumb drives that could barely saturate USB 2.0 bandwidth, we now have high-performance external SSDs that take advantage of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface to saturate the internal SATA bandwidth. Thunderbolt 3 drives up the available bandwidth by a factor of four, and SATA has now been replaced in the high-end by NVMe / PCIe. At CES 2018, we saw plans from multiple manufacturers to introduce mainstream external storage drives using NVMe SSDs with a Thunderbolt 3 interface. Today, we review one such device – the Rapide Thunderbolt 3 SSD from TEKQ.

The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe Motherboard Review: Onboard OLED and WiGig

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Sitting at the top of ASUS’ consumer-focused motherboard line for X299 is the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe. In the past, ASUS’ ‘Deluxe’ line-up has attempted to emulate the status of the Mercedes S-Class but in motherboard form: showcasing new technology that may eventually filter down into where the bulk of the market sits over the next 3-5 years. The newest X299-Deluxe thus comes with a few of those technological features, such as WiGig and an informational OLED display, but also comes with onboard U.2 and a bundled Thunderbolt 3 add-in card. The Prime X299-Deluxe is the most expensive X299 motherboard we have tested to date.

The Latest High-Capacity M.2: The Samsung 860 EVO 2TB SSD, Reviewed

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The Samsung 860 EVO is the mainstream side of Samsung’s new generation of consumer SATA SSDs, though our 2TB M.2 drive is a bit of a niche product. Like the 860 PRO, the new 860 EVO provides the necessary improvements to keep up with today’s competition, but Samsung is still setting prices like they’re the only ones with a high-performance TLC drive.

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